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I'd been talking to Kate, a new female acquaintance on the Internet, about meeting in the Caribbean for Christmas and New Year's, when the subject of my plans came up. I've been working through the US Sailing certifications for the last year through Club Nautique, and last June I purchased a 1980 Ericson 30+, which I have been outfitting for offshore cruising. Kate said she hadn't heard of many Ericsons used for bluewater boats or for circumnavigations. In fact, I only know of one other Ericson 30 that went around.
Anyway, Kate thought that you could offer some thoughts on the suitability of the boat for that purpose - and any other relevant subject that comes to mind. Since I am relatively new to sailing, your perspective might help. I am planning to leave next spring from San Francisco or L.A., although Kate thought that leaving from Mexico might be a better option because of the sailing conditions to the Marquesas.
P.S. I always read Latitude, and my favorite long sleeve shirt is a fluorescent orange Latitude shirt that I picked up at Sail Expo 2000.
Dennis - The reason you don't hear about
many Ericsons bluewater cruising and circumnavigating is because
they were primarily designed for weekend sailing and short term
local cruising. As such, they weren't given particularly large
water and fuel capacity, excessive storage, built-in windlasses,
and things like that. This is not to say that the hulls and rigs
aren't up to the task. Webb Chiles singlehanded an Ericson 37
around the world. The Caldwell family of Hawaii cruised the South
Pacific for several years with an Ericson 32. And former Latitude columnist Andrew Urbancyzck of Half
Moon Bay singlehanded an Ericson 27 to Japan and back, and later
singlehanded an Ericson 30+ around the world.
Where to leave from? Some people leave for the Marquesas from San Diego, but why would anyone want to miss Mexico? Advice on preparing for a circumnavigation? Do your practice sailing in the Gulf of the Farallones rather than in San Francisco Bay. Once you feel comfortable in crappy conditions in the Gulf, the rest of your circumnavigation will be comfortable and relaxing. Where to spend New Year's Eve in the Caribbean? The French island of St. Barts, where everyone is encouraged to dance on the tables during the middle of meals at even the better restaurants. Bonne Anée!
LITTON 406 EPIRB PROBLEMS
I read Larry Gilbert's letter on the failure of the Litton 406 EPIRB he had aboard Omar Khayyam. I had heard about problems with these units from other sources as well. I have two Litton 406 EPIRBs, one in my liferaft and one in the cabin. I just had them both tested by the Coast Guard facility here in San Diego. They both transmitted properly, so I decided I'd go to the expense of replacing the now outdated batteries.
When I contacted Westpac Marine Services about the battery replacement, we discussed the reliability of the Litton 406 EPIRB. The service person who does the battery replacements told me that there has only been a problem with the early generation Litton 406 EPIRBs, model #948, now out of production. I was told that the newer Litton 406 EPIRBS, model #952, do not have a problem. I don't know which model Larry Gilbert has or had, but I have the newer models.
Despite the fact my newer Litton units tested fine, I no longer have a great deal of confidence in them. Therefore, I purchased a new ACR 406 EPIRB for my liferaft, and now use the two Littons in my abandon ship bag and for my cabin manual release mount. I would be interested to hear from Larry - or anybody else - who might have had failures with Litton model #952s.
Paul - Rolly Herman of Westpac told us
there have been some leakage problems with the Litton #948s -
also marketed under the Koden brand - which resulted in some of
the units not working. He noted that these #948s were very large
first generation 406s that went out of production in the early
'90s and most of them are on commercial fishing boats. To his
recollection, all early EPIRB manufacturers - except the French-made
Kannad brand - had to issue recalls at one time or another because
leaking problems caused operational failures. Detailed information
can be found on the Coast Guard Web site. Herman says the newer
Litton EPIRBs have much better seals, so they haven't had any
problems with them.
If we had a critical bit of electronic gear - such as an EPIRB - that was first generation and from the early '90s, we'd sure replace the whole unit rather than just the batteries. Especially when the new units are so much smaller and cost one-third of the originals. But we wouldn't freak if we had a later model.
MORE PROOF THAT WATER AND EPIRBS DON'T MIX
Awhile back we took our four year old ACR 406 EPIRB to the Coast Guard headquarters in San Diego for inspection. The Auxiliary there does this as a free service. Our unit mysteriously deployed while the inspection was underway, so the battery was disconnected. I called ACR in Fort Lauderdale to tell them about the problem - and that I needed a quick turnaround because we were leaving San Diego within a week. They said they'd check it out as soon as they could. Four days later we had it back, complete with a new case and mechanism - and even a new battery. Thanks for the fantastic service, ACR!
It turned out that the problem was that UV rays ruined the plastic around the four screws that attach the upper portion to the battery case. Moisture had worked its way into the case, and shorted out the water sensitive part that activates the unit if it hits water.
How well do EPIRBs work? Before we'd left the Auxiliary office for the test, the Coasties had already begun to call the contact I listed on my EPIRB registration. What an incredibly fast response time!
P.S. We are one of a small group of closet powerboaters who read every page of Latitude.
LOCAL CRUISING WITH MY 86-YEAR-OLD DAD
There are lots of wonderful local trips that Northern California sailors can make. We'd like to recommend one we made last fall when I took off a month from work. We wanted to shake our boat down as we had recently had some new gear installed.
We spent the first two weeks in the Delta, stopping at Benicia on the way up. With my 86-year-old father-in-law as crew, we headed for Snug Harbor in Steamboat Slough. They have some new docks on the Steamboat Slough side of their facility, but without power or water. This was fine with us, as we wanted to check out our new charger/inverter, batteries and alternators. We had a great time and would recommend it as an easy and terrific place to get away. We made it back from Snug Harbor to our berth in Alameda in 11 hours.
Once back in Alameda, we cleaned up the boat and provisioned for an offshore trip out the Gate and down to Monterey. We spent the first night in a berth at Half Moon Bay, and headed for Santa Cruz the following day. As is often the case in Santa Cruz, we had to raft up. It wasn't a problem, however, as the harbormaster was very accommodating. We also met some nice transients who had sailed up from Monterey for the weekend. Because of bad weather, we spent a couple more days in the harbor. When we finally sailed to Monterey, we had 20-foot seas. Since we were going with them, they weren't breaking. They were 14 seconds apart, and it was like riding a roller coaster. We loved it.
This was our first trip to Monterey by boat, and it was wonderful. On the way home, we stopped at Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay again, but this time we saw lots of dolphins and whales in addition to the normal otters and seals. Fantastic! We were especially thrilled when a group of 20 southbound dolphins saw us, turned around, then swam with us for a while.
It was a great month, and the contrast between cruising the Delta and cruising on the ocean was dramatic. Our two weeks on the Delta were warm and balmy, while it was cool offshore. We plan to sail out the Gate and head for parts unknown this fall, but when all is said and done, we think we live in the greatest cruising ground in the world. If only the Bay's water temperature was in the '80s!
Joe Brandt and Jacque Martin
Marna Lynn, Wauquiez 47
Joe & Jacque - And if only there
were a couple of tropical islands 20 miles off the coast. But
then think how crowded the Bay would be.
ONLY CHECK IN WHEN YOU REALLY NEED TO
The February letters from John Volk, George Backhus, and the Burkharts, along with other comments of late regarding cruising Mexico, desperately need to be placed in proper perspective. Let's start with two premises: 1) 'Mexican law' is and always will be an oxymoron; and 2) What happens on the water, unless directly in the line of sight of the Port Captain's overstuffed chair, almost always goes unnoticed by government officials, regardless of the country.
No matter who is in office in Mexico City, or in any other country, we must remember that Simon Bolivar himself said Latin America is "ungovernable." If a port captain's querida decides she needs a brand-new Ford Explorer that is faster and shinier than her sister's in Denver, by gum she's gonna get it! And you know who is going to pay for it - we are. Mexico is a big country with much graver problems than cruisers' bellyaching about having to shell out a few extra bucks now and then to sail their fancy yachts through Mexican waters.
Alluding to the practice observed by Mr. Backhus, we turn to the second premise. If you don't like all the hassle of checking in and out of every port big and small, then don't. Last fall, I singlehanded my 1966 Cal 30 Saltaire down the Pacific coast of Mexico. I made seven stops, but only cleared through three because I really, really had to. After two stops in Baja, I checked in at Puerto Vallarta, where the port captain keeps a list of uncleared vessels on a chalkboard in his office. The check-in at Huatulco - having enjoyed four days of fun and frolic without clearing through Acapulco - was necessary because the Puerto Vallarta port captain refused to dispatch me all the way to Puerto Madero.
This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the port captain in Huatulco is a fun, cerveza-guzzling guy who provided me with critical weather data and advice on crossing the Gulf of Tehuantepec. What's more, with only a few foreign vessels in the tiny harbor at any given time, there is no way to avoid being noticed anyhow. And though el capitan did give me an international zarpe, I cleared again in Puerto Madero - a simple, five-minute process conducted from a panga - as I needed fuel and rest after 2.5 sleepless days and some bullying by a Tehuantepec'er that still sends shivers up my spine. But I digress.
North American cruisers are, on the whole, married, middle-class folks who follow the letter of the law with comic obsequiousness. But when they perceive an injustice in a foreign country, they angrily demand that things be done the American way. Get real, people! Take that victim look off your face and use common sense. And if a local authority approaches your vessel on your sixth day without your having checked in, play dumb, or tell him your VHF is broken and you have a fuerte diarrhea - remembering to roll r's!
P.S. Islamorada Internacional in Balboa, Panama, has copies of Latitude, but you have to get them early 'cuz they move faster than a senorita's hips dancing the merengue at Carnaval.
Saltaire, Cal 30
San Pedro / Panama City
Bill - Although there's much truth to
what you say, we take offense to several of your nastier characterizations.
For instance, you infer that American law is superior to Mexican
law - which we think is an oversimplification and not necessarily
true. For one thing, there are some areas of American law - legal
extortion leaps to mind - that couldn't be any more unjust. Secondly,
the role of law is entirely different in the two cultures, so
it's folly to judge one through the eyes of the other.
Secondly, you claim that some Mexican government officials - such as port captains - have sometimes used their offices for personal gain. Of course that's true, but what do you think happens - albeit a little more subtly - in the United States? Do you really believe that the young wife of an Arkansas governor honestly made a 25,000% return as a novice dabbling in high-risk commodities trading? Or that a President leaving office didn't get something in return for pardoning a major coke trafficker and a guy who owed $49 million in tax? Or that massive corruption is not the hallmark of San Francisco politics? The difference is that most Mexican officials get chump change in what has somewhat been seen as a supplement to low wages, while here in the States officials and ex-officials get away with truckloads of money - and with impunity. And since the trend in Mexico is toward less corruption while it's just the opposite here in the States, we'd tone down the inferences of superiority.
Lastly, American cruisers are good people trying to abide by the laws of the countries they visit. Why do you ridicule them? Sure they react in American ways to perceived injustices - because they're Americans who are just learning about a new culture. Most acclimate pretty quickly. As for your habit of checking in only when you think you have to, sure you can get away with it most of the time. But it doesn't go as unnoticed as you think, and such arrogance hardly makes foreign cruisers more beloved in the eyes of port captains. So if you insist on doing it, the rest of us would prefer you keep it to yourself.
After spending several years in the Coast Guard, I left to pursue my education and a civilian career. While stationed on the East Coast, I developed a love of sailing - which planted the idea of my eventually living aboard. I graduated last spring and got a terrific job with a company which makes viruses that kill cancer (www.onyx-pharm.com). I was living in Sacramento with my brother who had just bought his first home, and it seemed as though the stage were set for me to pursue my dream of living on a sailboat.
So while saving money for a downpayment, I have been checking out the used boats as well as searching for a liveaboard berth - and the latter seems to be the hardest of all to come by. Apparently, this is primarily due to a law on the books that is referred to as "BC/DC", which means no harbor can have more than 10% liveaboards. This law doesn't seem to address the problem it's designed to 'fix', which is the environmental impact of liveaboards on the marine environment. The limitation of liveaboards ignores responsible people living responsibly.
So I'm wondering if there's an organization that articulates - to the various legislative bodies - the concerns of people who want to responsibly live on their own boats. 'We the people' are supposedly the government, so can't this law be changed? It seems to run counter to the 'pursuit of happiness' guaranteed by the Constitution. I want to become involved.
John - What you're referring to is not
a law, but a nine-county government agency - the BCDC (Bay Conservation
and Development Commission) - that has authority over all the
waters of the Bay and everything that comes within something like
100 feet of the high water mark. The original concept behind the
agency was a good one: to protect the Bay from pollution and overdevelopment.
The state legislation that created the agency did not give the
BCDC specific control over boats, but the power-hungry bureaucrats
weren't going to let this stop them. In quasi-fascist style, the
BCDC grabbed control of boats by - we know this sounds hilarious,
but it's true - declaring them to be "Bay fill". They
lost a court battle over this concept, but won on appeal as the
impoverished anchor-out plaintiff couldn't match the 'taxpayer's-money-is-no-object'
resources of the State Attorney General's Office that represented
In our opinion, the BCDC's dealing with mariners represents just about everything that is repugnant about government. The well-meaning commissioners are almost uniformly ignorant about boats and mariners, and are guided by a agenda-driven staff which seems to view mariners as disciples of Satan. In addition, the agency regularly bullies applicants through what sure appears to be extortion to us. One applicant for a permit also told us there seemed to be an insider network, as he couldn't get his non-profit's project moving through the BCDC until a high fee was paid to a law firm associated with one of the commissioners. In addition, the agency seems to engage in selective enforcement. If, for example, a commissioner happens to live in a marina, it doesn't seem to have to follow the rules that apply to other marinas. The BCDC also seems to delight in making sure that all projects are either ridiculously expensive or take forever to complete. Vallejo, for example, has a completed marina that largely can't be used because the BCDC and Army Corps of Engineers don't want to conclude a pissing match over what to do with the spoils blocking the entrance. This is the kind of government you get for your tax dollars.
In any event, long ago the BCDC declared that anyone who spends more than a certain number of hours a week on their boat is a liveaboard, and marinas aren't permitted to have liveaboards without getting a permit from the BCDC. Even with a permit, no marina is allowed more than 10% liveaboards. The agency made getting the permit an expensive process and likes to micromanage, so some marinas never applied for permits. As for the 10% liveaboard figure, some harbormasters who welcome liveaboards say that 10% is a good percentage, while others feel it could be higher. There's at least one marina in Southern California - Ventura West - that was designed and built for 50% liveaboards. We used to have a boat there, and it seemed to work fine in that location. However, you'd have about as much luck getting a BCDC permit for something like that as you would for dumping nuclear waste off the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Achilles Heel of the BCDC is they have no policing power. As a result, the Bay Area has countless illegal liveaboards. The number really depends on the marina owners - who, in our opinion, ought to be the ones making the decision about if and how many liveaboards are allowed in their marina. After all, if you have a boat in a marina and aren't polluting, what business is it of the governments how many hours a day or days a week you spend on your boat? Once your boat is in that berth, nobody else is affected. It's this fascist inclination to unnecessarily want to control people's lives that we find most characteristic - and disturbing - about the BCDC's relationship with mariners.
There is a comic aspect to all this. If you want to see the biggest example of the BCDC's impotence, you merely need gaze out over the monumental mess that is Richardson Bay in the summer. Virtually every one of the hundreds of boats and derelicts out there will be illegal. And the massive defiance has been going on for decades. Each one of them is a symbolic 'F--k you!' to the hated government agency.
There is no organization that represents liveaboards against the BCDC because the number of legal liveaboards is so small and because the illegal ones can't speak out for fear of retribution. Furthermore, it's difficult for anyone and any city to go up against the BCDC or their staff, because the agency and staff have the power to make life difficult and extremely costly for anyone who crosses them. Liveaboards have about as many rights under the BCDC as do Cubans under Castro. So welcome to the "Mariners' Paradise!"
Your chances of becoming a legal liveaboard within the next couple of years are slim to none. There are several strategies to becoming an illegal liveaboard, but given the tremendous demand for such status, we don't feel free to divulge them. Good luck.
SHOULD WE HAVE THE RIGGING DONE IN MEXICO?
We currently have a Rafiki 37 cutter in La Paz, and are considering having the standing rigging replaced in Mexico. Do you know if it would be better to have it done in La Paz, San Carlos or Ensenada? Or should we have it done in the States after we get home? Obviously, we want a good job, but we don't want to spend more money than we have to.
Gary - If you're looking to save money,
why don't you do most of the work yourself? Measuring your current
rigging shouldn't take more than an hour or two, although you
will have to go up the mast. Then ask for bids. Pick the bid you
like the most, then replace it - with the mast up - one stay or
shroud at a time. In addition to saving money, you'll become more
familiar with a critical part of your boat.
If you're bringing the boat back to the States anyway, our inclination would be to do the job up here. To our knowledge they don't make sailboat quality rigging in Mexico, so you'd save the expense and hassle of having to import it, which would probably negate any labor savings anyhow.
A ROEFUL FINALE
Going into the last Golden Gate YC midwinter, my J/105 was tied with the J/105 Aquivit for the series lead. As such, we were looking forward to a close race. While motoring over from Sausalito on the morning of the race, however, it seemed as though something was wrong because the speedo was reading a couple knots slow for the engine rpms. I got a little worried and fiddled around with the instruments, but couldn't find anything wrong.
After I collected my crew from the club, we headed out to the start. In the six or so knots of breeze prior to the gun, I became a lot more worried because we couldn't seem to get up to our normal speed. I again fiddled with the instruments and wondered if my diver hadn't cleaned the bottom the day before. We nonetheless had a nice start, as we were on the line and in clean air when the gun went off. But within 30 seconds we knew that we would be toast in our anticipated battle with Aquivit, for we were literally two knots slower than every other J/105. So we decided to head for home. When we did, we got passed by the Knarr fleet, which had started 10 minutes after us!
It turns out that my diver had cleaned the bottom the previous day. But when he went down again, he discovered that my keel was covered with thousands - maybe millions - of herring eggs. This meant that in just the few hours after the diver's Friday cleaning and the Saturday morning start, the little SOBs had totally covered my keel! I hope the seals eat every one of them!
Chuck - It wouldn't be so bad, but you
never know when the herring are going to come around to lay their
Jim Crowell wanted to know where to get parts for Tempest Commander engines. Tempest is now AMC Diesel Engineering in Preston, England. You can reach them at +44 (0) 1772-613003 or fax them at +44 (0) 1 772-616364. Last month a reader wrote in to say that Claire Hutchinson was great to order parts from, but she's not with the new company. Sharon McConnell is the one to ask for.
P.S. I am the proud owner of a British Sealord Bathgate 5.1 marine diesel engine - that still runs.
IT'S JUST A FORD
I believe the Tempest engine Jim Crowell inquired about is a Ford Tempest. There were two marine applications that I know of; a 4-cylinder 58 hp model, and a 6-cylinder version. I had a Camper-Nicholson 39 with a 58 hp Tempest engine, and I used to get parts for it from Tipco Marine in Mountain View. In addition, James Ferrier at Camper-Nicholson's yard in Gosport, England, is very knowledgeable about the engine and had some parts.
I thought it was a very good and strong engine - but it has a weakness for the unwary. The timing belt is a steel impregnated, notched rubber belt which needs replacing every five years or after a lot of hours. We never had a big problem with the belt on our engine, but several of our friends did.
The fellow who used to be the harbormaster at Brisbane Marina had a similar boat and engine, and a belt problem created an immediate engine shutdown when he and his wife were coming up the Baja coast. They were able to reach a harbor and have some Mexican mechanics rebuild the damaged engine. He thought their problem originated from some of the rubber teeth/cogs breaking off the belt and disrupting the timing. My understanding is that these type of belts need periodic replacement, just as they do on cars. It's a bit of a job on a Tempest, so fortunately Chris Champman, one of my crew, is an experienced diesel mechanic and helped me replace the belt. I also bought a spare.
In addition, our good friends Jeff and Dawn Stone of the sistership Dawn had the belt on their Tempest engine fail on a passage from Oahu to Kauai. The engine ended up a mess. Jeff was very disappointed in the engine, and he replaced it with an Isuzu, I believe. He and Dawn were stuck in Hawaii for some time effecting repairs - but if you've got to be stuck somewhere, Hawaii isn't such a bad spot.
By the way, before the Stones left San Francisco, I loaned them a sail and my Hawaii charts - including the large scale chart which covers all the way from San Francisco to the Hawaiian Islands. The chart had a large burn hole in it because somehow I managed to set it on one of the burners on the stove. I jokingly told Jeff the burn hole was right in the middle of the Pacific High, and that my old track went around the hole. Sure enough, when he and Dawn sailed over, their track took them around the burned out area also!
John - What a wealth of information!
We bumped into the Stones in Moorea about seven years ago, and
over drinks on their boat they told us about their engine woes.
They subsequently returned to the Bay Area, but now have their
boat in Trinidad where they operate a marine refrigeration service.
STOPS ON THE WAY SOUTH
We're thinking about doing the Ha-Ha this fall. Could you suggest what harbors and anchorages to visit on the way to San Diego? We average about five to seven knots, and plan on leaving the Bay Area in late August or early September in order to enjoy some time at the islands off Southern California. But with a shorthanded crew, we would prefer to anchor each night until we get to San Diego. Once there, we could take on additional crew. We could do overnights, but we want to relax a little.
Our schedule after San Diego will be cut short on time because of commitments. Could one do Mexico in three to four weeks and still enjoy it? Since you are experts, your opinion would be greatly appreciated.
Dave and Doris Biron
Gulfstar 37, Summer Breeze
Dave & Doris - Late August and early
September are nice times to be heading south, because it's usually
warm and the wind and seas are pretty calm. It's easy to day-hop
to San Diego - heck, you can pretty much day-hop to Cabo San Lucas.
North of Conception, you can chose from places such as Pillar
Point, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Stillwater Cove, San Simeon, Morro
Bay and Port San Luis - all of which have their attractions to
warrant staying at least a day or two. Once you get around Conception,
you have the whole 'lost coast', all the Channel Islands, Santa
Barbara, Ventura, Oxnard, Paradise Park, Malibu . . . the list
is nearly endless. Asking us to recommend one over the others
would be like asking us what you should eat at a buffet. It all
depends on what you like.
We're not sure what you mean by "do Mexico in three to four weeks". If you went pretty much nonstop, you could do the Ha-Ha and return to San Diego in about a month. In fact, this is what the folks on the Challenger 32 Luna Sea II did last year. But it wouldn't be the most relaxing adventure. If you have three or four weeks to get to Cabo or La Paz, and will then have somebody else deliver or truck your boat home, you could have a great time. But if you're just thinking about cruising northern Baja, we believe you'd have a better time in the Channel Islands and a nearly deserted Catalina. So think big - but don't bite off more than you can comfortably chew.
WON'T RACE AGAIN WITHOUT BIGGER ENGINES
I just had a good read of the February issue and would like to make a few comments for the record.
First off, I never had any "problems" with the Mexican Navy. My experiences with boarding parties was that they were unexpectedly courteous, professional and efficient. My only issue is that the first two persons to board - who didn't appear to be old enough to shave - were both carrying Uzi automatic assault weapons. These guys positioned themselves at the bow and the stern of Moonshadow, and appeared to be ready to fire if we made a wrong move. I must admit this was a bit unnerving, at least on the first occasion.
Next, the unofficial results of the first and not-exactly-annual race from Noumea, New Caledonia, to Sydney, Australia, between David's 50-foot cat Bossanova and my Deerfoot 62 Moonshadow were as follows. David and his crew of two able-bodied young Aussie blokes departed the fuel dock at Port Moselle one hour before us, but Moonshadow and I, with an able crew of Cate and Clarisse, arrived in Watson Bay, Sydney Harbour, two hours earlier. Both the boats motorsailed when our boatspeed fell below three to four knots, depending on comfort and the slatting of sails. David subsequently informed me that he will not race me again until he gets larger engines.
As for the attraction of Fort Lauderdale (aka Fort Liquordale) as a "boating center", I spent five months there after purchasing Moonshadow, preparing her for the trip to San Francisco. Perhaps it is the "center" due to its location, which is relatively close to Europe/the Med, the big East Coast cities, South America and the Caribbean, Panama and the Pacific. Yes, it was hot and humid, particularly in July and August. On the other hand, there are more boating related businesses there than any other place that I've been. The competition keeps the market keen. In addition, the quality of work was good and, by U.S. standards, inexpensive. Apart from that, the sailing was great, the beaches beautiful, and there were plenty of good restaurants and fun night spots on Las Olas Blvd., along the A1A , and the Intracoastal Waterway. I found the people friendly and laid back.
We've been hanging out for the last couple of weeks in a little cove off Broken Bay in the Kuring Gai Chase National Park. According to my GPS, this mooring is only 12.7 nautical miles from the Central Business District of Sydney! The wildlife is awesome, and during the week - when the jet skis are sitting safely in garages - the quiet is almost deafening.
Moonshadow, Deerfoot 62
back to work in Sydney
George - Boarding parties carrying automatic
rifles aren't unusual. As we were sailing Big
O from the Dominican Republic to Cuba a few years ago, we were
stopped in the middle of the Windward Passage by a group of six
U.S. Coasties in a big RIB. Our entire crew was initially required
to go to the bow by the three Coasties who boarded our boat. While
their guns were not trained directly on us, they were at the ready.
And for the next 90 minutes, the three Coasties in the RIB circled
our boat and two of them had their weapons at the ready at all
times. We weren't crazy about the armed intrusion, but do have
to say that we were somewhat reassured by their professionalism.
WHERE'S THAT DOBERMAN BITCH?
In 1956, my aunt and uncle had an Ed Monk designed 42-foot double-ended ketch built in Japan. They called her Sea Fever. A year later, we - I was just 13 at the time - sailed her from Japan to San Pedro via Midway and Honolulu. A couple years later they did a four-year circumnavigation. When they got back, they sold the boat to Ron and Linda Cox, who sailed her all over the South Pacific, to Japan, and back to California. When they got home, they sold her to a lady who was raising Dobermans, and who renamed the boat Doberman Bitch. What a horrible name for a boat!
The last time I saw the ketch was 25 years ago in San Diego. If anyone knows where she is, I would love to see her again. I have many fond memories of her, and I would love to send some pictures of her to my aunt and uncle, who now live in Hilo, Hawaii.
Richard - Hopefully one of our readers
knows where she is and that she's still in good condition - and
has a new name, for god's sake! By the way, we'd love to get your
aunt and uncle's names, as we'd like to include them in our west
coast circumnavigator's list that we're compiling for posting
on our Web site. They were obviously a couple of real adventurers.
BEFORE AXEL ROSE THERE WAS AXEL HEYST
Since you folks strike me as the well read literary types, I thought you would get a chuckle out of this. I found a skipper through Latitude who owns a boat named Axel Heyst. I casually mentioned it to my boating friend Chris, who proceeded to send me an entire book report on the significance of the name. Here's what she wrote:
"Axel Heyst is the principal character in the book Victory by Joseph Conrad - famed for, among other works, Heart of Darkness. Victory was also turned into a movie in 1995, with the part of Heyst played by Willem Dafoe. In short, Heyst is a loner, living on the island Samburan, with Lena, who becomes his love interest and changes his personal outlook on life through the book. Before his death at the book's conclusion, Heyst makes a final statement to Davidson, a fellow seaman: ' . . . woe to the man whose heart has not learned while young to hope, to love - and to put its trust in life!' This statement comes from a man whose father has taught him that life is a Great Joke, an illusion, and that the best way to survive is to drift oneself into oblivion. Thus, this advice is counter to the manner by which Heyst has presumably lived his whole life. Then he dies. Wow, the reconciliation-before-death cliché always hits me in the gut!"
Prior to this, I'd never given any thought to how boat owners come up with name for their boats, and what the names say about their owners.
Stella - We're glad you told us that
story, in part because we're fascinated by the origins of boat
names, and in part because in the mid-'70s we used to race our
Bounty II against Axel Heyst.
She was owned by Hal Nelson of Nelson's Marine back then - it
has to be the same boat - and we could never figure out the significance
of the name.
So you think you can analyze owners by their boat names? Try us. Flying Scud, our Bounty II, was named after a boat in The Wrecker by Robert Louis Stevenson. Contrary to Ordinary, our Freya 39, after a Jerry Jeff Walker song. Little O, our Olson 30, because she was the smallest boat in the Olson line. Big O, our Ocean 71, because 'Ocean' starts with an O and because it made for a nice counterpoint with Little O. Our Bertram 25 photoboat .38 Special is a play on the magazine name and the police pistol. By the way, we've never owned a gun in our life. Finally, Profligate, our Surfin' 63 catamaran, came from a line in The Big Sleep when the old geezer tells Humphrey Bogart that he can't complain about having two wild daughters because he himself had "been a profligate" his whole life. Big O was our favorite, because it resulted in great names for the dinghies - Baby O and Speedy O - and because it made for a perfect two-beat group chant in the Caribbean when we did Antigua Sailing Week.
That's it. What's your diagnosis?
I have heard and read about your Baja Ha-Ha rally for a number of years. I am hoping that this fall will be my turn to head south. Can you send me any information you have on the Baja Ha-Ha?
Don - Although Latitude started the Ha-Ha,
it's now operated by an entirely independent company, and those
folks usually go into hibernation until May 1 of each year. This
year, however, the Grand Poobah and friends will be previewing
Baja Ha-Ha VIII at a Sail Expo Boat Show seminar in Oakland April
21 at 4:30 p.m. Complete instructions on how to get an entry packet
will be available there and in the May editions of Latitude 38
and 'Lectronic Latitude.
However, we can tell you that this year's Ha-Ha will start from San Diego on October 30; that Profligate will be the mothership for the fifth year in a row; and that the Wanderer has again volunteered to serve as the Grand Poobah - "as long as everyone uses the less pretentious 'Grand Poobear' pronunciation." We can't wait.
We've probably all heard the story of how West Marine was started by somebody selling New England Ropes in the parking lots of marinas. Well, there's a new kid on the block in Alameda. According to a recent mailer from Ballena Isle Marina to their slip renters, the Bays Group, Inc., was given permission to inspect the docklines of all the boats in the marina. Included in the mailer was a page that gave the results of their inspection.
I have no reason to assume that Bays Group is a fly-by-night, Johnny-come-lately to the boating industry whose primary purpose is to scope out and gain access to all the boats so they can return to rip them off. On the other hand, I have no idea who these people are. And I did not give consent to have them inspect my boat or docklines. Nor was I given the opportunity to give that consent. According to an approved vendor of Ballena Isle Marina, such approved vendors sign an agreement which prohibits them from soliciting directly from the slip renters. But here we have Ballena Isle soliciting for the Bays Group.
One of the components of vessel security and the belongings of liveaboards is not having strangers know about our vessels and our belongings. It's disrespectful of our tenancy and an infringement of our rights to privacy that a harbormaster give permission for third parties to inspect our vessels for any purpose - let alone a sales solicitation. I have kindly asked Almar Marinas and Ballena Isle Marina to preserve my right to control the associations I have with third party companies. However, I also am concerned that I may be evicted for complaining. What are a tenant's and liveaboard's rights in this regard?
Ballena Bay Marina
N.W. - The folks at Ballena Bay tell
us that: 1) Nobody from the Bay Group was permitted to board any
boats; 2) None of the tenants were required to purchase any of
their products, and 3) The Bay Group was not given the names and
addresses of any boatowners. As such, we think you're making a
hurricane out of a zephyr. For let's face it, when you've got
a boat in a marina - and particularly if you live aboard - you'd
better be prepared to forfeit most of the normal expectations
of privacy. After all, a marina is about as public a place as
you can get, with strangers free to walk the docks and fingers
day and night. And they - like anybody who passes in a boat -
can eyeball your boat to their heart's delight. Furthermore, we
have to believe that the marinas themselves have at least some
obligation to make sure that all the boats are tied up in a reasonably
secure fashion, giving them, or their agents, the right to inspect
the condition of docklines. Indeed, we know of several marinas
that are in dire need of just such a dockline checking service.
What rights do you have as a marina tenant? Frankly, just about none. Virtually all the marinas offer month-to-month leases and have 'termination without cause' clauses. In other words, they can force you to leave in 30 days without giving you a reason, and you have little or no recourse. The harbormasters we talked with said they wouldn't kick anyone out for complaining - in fact, they wanted the feedback. But if someone were to chronically complain about nothing or generally cause trouble, they might have their lease terminated.
Sorry to bother you again, but I have a tradition of writing you about nautical errors. On page 118 of your February 2001 issue, in the caption for the photo nearest the binding, reference is made to 'parsing and serving'. Parsing comes from the verb 'to parse', and means to analyze grammar, such as in a sentence, so as to identify its parts of speech (noun, verb, etc.) and to define their positional elements (such as subject, object, etc). The proper phrase is 'parcelling and serving'. See The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea, 1993 edition, Peter Kemp, author, Oxford University Press, page 630. PARCEL, to, the operation of winding strips of tarred canvas round a rope after it has been wormed and before it is served or marled.
Yours in the spirit of nautical accuracy,
I have emailed you in the past, usually confining myself to pointing out nautical misspellings. The ones below were found in the December 2000 issue.
Page 112, next to last line, column 2, "breeching" as occurred in "white whale breeching through a star-filled sky." The proper spelling is 'breaching'. Webster defines 'breach' as "the leap of a whale out of water." "Breeching" refers to the back end of a cannon, or to a baby during birth delivering breech ('breech' meaning buttocks) first.
Page 113, in the paragraph reviewing The Last of the Wind Ships, line 7, the word 'veil' should be 'vale', as it occurs in "Villiers departed this veil of tears." A veil being a screen of sorts, one can't depart it, whereas the 'vale of tears' is usually used to refer to our daily existence, and death a departure from that existence.
Page 193, column one, line 3 'heal' as occurs in ". . . wind is light there is no favorable (quotes not needed) heal to help sail shape" should be spelled 'heel', no explanation needed.
Each of these errors involves homonyms, that is, words with different meanings that sound the same but are spelled differently. Perhaps your spell-checking program could be adjusted to alert you so as to avoid such errors, especially nautical ones, given the theme of your publication.
Offered in the spirit of adding to the excellence of your continuously enjoyable publication,
Richard - You got our errors for December,
and you got them for February - does this mean we were perfect
in January? By the way, we enjoy your corrections - although many
are a result of overload rather than ignorance.
THE LATITUDE 38 PLATE
For five years now, I have been driving around the Bay Area with my cherished "LAT 38" license plate. My family and I arrived here seven years ago from Massachusetts sporting a "4 SEAS" plate as a tribute to our favorite homemade ice cream joint on Cape Cod. After reading your great magazine cover to cover each month, I figured I'd try to secure another 'fun' plate, hence "LAT 38".
Not a week goes by that someone doesn't ask me if I am Richard, one of the other staff members, or "the owner". Sometimes they just make a simple comment such as "great magazine". While I was stopped at a red light once, a guy proudly held a photo of his boat up to his car window. My response is always the same: "I'm just a fan."
We kept an O'Day daysailer on the Cape for several years, and although we love the year round sailing out here, we sure do miss the warm waters of Nantucket Sound! Last year we chartered a Catalina 34 and island hopped from the Cape to Cuttyhunk, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket. What fun!
After crewing with our friends Kathleen Sheehy and Ed Koen here in the Bay aboard their Cal 35 and Cherubini 44 Ketch Tuckernuck, the bug bit again. And after a short stint on a Catalina 22 we found in the Classy Classifieds and even some racing, we're now sailing Mr. Ranger, our Ranger 26. We sail no less than 50 times a year, as we just can't get enough! I have also hooked up with Rob Weed and Doug Harning aboard Wired, a sleek racing Beneteau 40.7 out of Brickyard Cove, for this winter's Key West Race Week and SORC.
In closing, I just want to thank all of you at Latitude for all the wonderful articles, information and updates - November's Max Ebb is my most recent favorite. I also want to say a special thanks to the Grandys at Clipper Yacht Harbor for their kindness and hospitality.
Mr. Ranger, Ranger 26
PROPERTY TAXES AND THE FRENCH
I lived in France for some 15 years before recently moving to the Bay Area. At the time of my deménagement, I brought along my sailboat, which I had leased in France some three years before coming here. The boat was, of course, used, as I had sailed her around most of the Mediterranean. Upon arrival in the United States as cargo, my boat was duly imported into this country. Although she still sails with a French flag, and still pays her droit de navigation taxes each year in France, I am currently being asked by Alameda County, where I berth her, to pay property taxes.
Does this seem right to you? Are foreign vessels taxable by the county here, especially in light of the fact that I am already paying a similar tax in France? Could this be construed as double taxation? I understand that the French recently removed a tax for Americans who took their boats there. Are property taxes on a French boat in Alameda going to stir up this feud again?
Leo - We regret to say that it does seem right to us that you pay personal property tax on the boat in Alameda County. After all, you imported the boat to this country, and by physically having your boat in Alameda County, you should chip in to pay for the various services the county supposedly provides. What we don't understand is why you still sail her under a French flag, and why you should continue to have to pay a droit de navigation. Because, yes, it's seems as though you are paying tax twice.
L.A. MARITIME INSTITUTE
I was pleased to see your article in the February issue about the Los Angeles Maritime Institute's youth programs and the two 90-foot brigantines they're building. I sailed with them for two years before leaving on our current cruise to Mexico. As a highly experienced volunteer, I can heartily endorse participation in their programs. The ships are a whole new learning experience, no matter how much experience anyone might have on smaller craft. And interaction with the kids is something you have to experience. No, it's not all great - these are not your run-of-the-mill kids - but the high points are definitely higher than the lows are low. These kids will tell you things about their lives that simply couldn't be made up, but despite their problems, they still retain the special hope only the young seem to be able to hold on to. Maybe that is what rubs off on you that makes it worthwhile.
I cannot recommend strongly enough that anyone who has any opportunity to spend some time with the Los Angeles Maritime Institute. You will not regret it. And, for those needing sea time in order to get a license, it's a great way to get it.
Faith, Caribbean 50
This letter is a long time in coming - but what with cruising to Mexico and all, some things just get delayed. In June of '99, my wife Dana and I, along with our dog and cat, moved aboard our Cross 46 Mk II trimaran Migration. After 10 years of work on our 30-year-old tri, we were finally almost ready to head down to Mexico. But first there were a couple of final projects before heading south to San Diego and the Ha-Ha.
One of those projects was the installation of a bearing on the shaft. We'd hauled the boat earlier in the year - right next to Profligate up at the Napa Valley Marina, in fact - and we had a new shaft fabricated by a company recommended by the boatyard. But because of the long distance from the transmission to the strut, there was still a lot of vibration even with the new shaft. So after moving aboard we went over to Alameda to have the bearing installed. Svendsen's told us that though we might need a bearing, that unfortunately wasn't our main problem. The shaft was bent! Did we need a new shaft? We called in Alameda Prop & Machine for a second opinion. After realigning the engine and checking everything twice, we all agreed the shaft was bent.
The long intro is just to get to this part. The guys at Napa Valley were wonderful, standing behind their work and that of the prop shop they had recommended. They hauled us for free and made the prop shop take the shaft back. I wasn't comfortable having the same company make a new shaft - there were other problems I won't go into - so I had the new one made at Alameda Prop. And they were great as well.
Needless to say, the next few weeks weren't much fun. We'd hoped to be heading south by then, but were either on the hard or in the backwaters of Alameda working on this shaft problem. The only good part was the great people who stood by their work and charged a fair price. Thanks to everyone at Napa Valley Marina and Alameda Prop, and I can't recommend them enough. By the way, even though the Napa Valley Marina is a ways away, it's the most pleasant boatyard I've ever worked in. And the hills of the Napa Valley and vineyards are a far cry from the usual industrial surroundings.
As for the end of the story, we finally made it out the Bay, down the coast, and off with the Ha-Ha. While we were docked in Cabo at the end of the Ha-Ha, who should show up but Chuck, the owner of Alameda Prop. He and his wife had boarded a cruise ship in the Caribbean, gone through the Canal, and stopped into Cabo for the day. When he saw Migration, he thought he'd stop by to make sure everything was all right. That's service!
Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
I managed to obtain a copy of your magazine, and thought it was brilliant. I want to subscribe, but I live in England and note that you don't accept foreign subscriptions. I'm wondering if any of your readers have old copies they'd be willing to send to me if I'd pay the postage. Or, perhaps we could trade, as I could send them recent copies of U.K. magazines such as Practical Boat Owner and/or Yachting Monthly? I can be reached at peejay49 at hotmail.com
CRUISE SHIP ASSISTANCE
I am constantly amazed at the helpfulness of people associated with boating. In the middle of February, my family and two other couples were enjoying a fabulous Moorings bareboat cruise in the Leeward Islands. But on February 17, while anchored in the outer harbor of Gustavia, St. Barts, my daughter woke up in the middle of the night complaining of severe pain in her stomach and intestinal area. When the pain was still getting worse an hour later, I got on the VHF in desperation and asked if anyone with medical knowledge was listening. I got a response from a cruise ship anchored nearby! After some discussion of the problem, the watch officer asked if we would like him to send the ship's doctor over in a launch.
Of course we would, amazed at their willingness to go out of their way to help us. A short while later their launch showed up with two crewmen and a woman doctor from Venezuela who only identified herself as Oly. She diagnosed the problem as a severe reaction to medication my daughter had just been given by a doctor back home, gave her a shot to help her feel better, and then went back to the cruise ship. Come daylight on Sunday morning, we took my daughter by dinghy to the hospital in Gustavia. After another day of treatment at the hospital, she was back on her feet again.
Meanwhile, the cruise ship launch returned to our boat, and the crewmen requested that our friends call the cruise ship captain on the VHF. The reason was that the captain wanted to know how our daughter was doing and if there was anything else they could do before they left the area. I never personally saw the name on the cruise ship or caught its name, but think the crewmen called it the Fairwinds. I have been looking up 'cruise ships' and 'Fairwinds' on the Internet, but still haven't located a cruise ship by that name. Our whole family would like to thank and commend Dr. Oly, the captain, and the ship's crew for their help. If anybody knows how to locate a ship by that name that was off St. Barths on February 17, I'd appreciate it, as I'd like to send a letter of commendation to the crew. I can be reached at dave at mentorcapitalgroup.com.
David - Call Port Captain Bruno Gréaux
or his assistant Jack at (590) 276697. If you can't get through,
try the Office of Tourism at (590) 278737. Any one of them should
be able to answer your question right away - and you don't even
have to speak French.
NIGHT VISION AND THE LAW
With the most recent mail, I received my ITT NM 160 night vision scope from Captain's Nautical in Seattle. It came with a document that I'm supposed to sign and return to Captain's. In part, the document says, "devices are strictly controlled as to export or removal from the national boundaries of the United States by the U.S. Dept. of State . . . in accordance with International Traffic in Arms."
I would like to take the scope with when I sail to Mexico, but the document concerns me. Is anyone on your staff familiar with the use of night scopes outside U.S. boundaries?
Jerry - Sometimes you've got to wonder
if anyone is thinking in Washington, DC. On the one hand, any
fool knows that asking a terrorist to sign such a document wouldn't
deter him from using a night vision scope outside the United States.
So the implication seems to be that night vision scopes should
be used for things like nighttime assassinations only within our
borders. Brilliant, eh? Perhaps the Department of State should
devote some of their massive budget to investing in a few thinking
Several cruisers in Mexico who have such scopes tell us they are a tremendous aid to nighttime navigation. In fact, we wish we had one last month while trying to work our way through the fishing fleet on a pitch black passage from La Cruz to Punta Mita. But we sense what you're really asking for is ethical guidance on whether you should ignore the State Department's instructions. Only you can answer that question, as it boils down to whether you're a strict 'my government right or wrong' person, or whether you believe that each individual is ultimately responsible for their decisions and behavior. Did you know that no student can graduate from a French high school unless they write a long answer to a philosophical question? There is not a right or wrong answer, and everybody gets the same question. This would be a good question for them.
ARE CATALINA 22S OCEAN GOING?
In the March 2001 magazine you stated that there are a lot of boats available for under $25,000 that will do an ocean passage. I read the article as I was finishing the book Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere, in which author John Vigor describes 20 boats - ranging from the Cal 20 to the Westsail 32 - that are capable of hopping oceans. After all, a circumnavigation is merely a bunch of ocean hops put together.
My question is why isn't the Catalina 22 ever including in 'ocean-hopping' vessels. After all, I've read numerous accounts of circumnavigations in much smaller boats. Do you know of any long distance cruisers that have used a Catalina 22 as their boat of choice? Is there a design flaw in the Catalina 22 that would prevent it from doing such a voyage?
I own a year 2000 Catalina Mk-II 22 with a wing keel, and I don't have any plans on taking it across any oceans, but I do plan to use it as a coastal cruiser and perhaps for trips to the Channel Islands. Is there anything I could do to beef up the Catalina 22 to make it a more coast and ocean-capable cruiser, or should I stick to inland lakes and Bay sailing?
I always thought that if you had good sailing skills and you plan carefully, you could use any boat for an extended cruise. Larger meant more expensive and more creature comforts, but not necessarily safer. Is there any truth to my line of thinking?
The reason I chose the 22 was because it was the largest sailboat that I could trailer safely without buying a new truck. I could have gotten a larger boat for the same price, but I felt that meant I would have been stuck in the Bay Area as I don't have time to sail on long cruises in time to get back to work. The woes of the working man!
G. Frank Nin
Grass Valley, CA
G. - Despite the fact that Serge Testa
and others have sailed around the world in boats as small as 12
feet, we think it's foolish to believe that good sailing skills
and any little boat are all you need to feel confident about sailing
around the world. If you want a premise to start with, we think
it should be 'the boat hasn't been built that can't be done in
by a single ocean wave'. Once you accept the fact that there are
no guarantees on the ocean, you can start evaluating boats by
how much they minimize the risk of being destroyed by the ocean.
All other things being equal - which they never are - it's generally true that the larger a boat, the safer the boat. (There are, of course, many scenarios in which greater boat size could be a liability rather than an asset.) Although bigger is usually better, we don't think there's much difference until boats get down to about 40 feet. And there's just a little more risk in boats down to 28 to 32 feet. Below that size, we think the risks begin to increase faster. It's noteworthy, for example, that fine boats such as a Cal 25, an Express 27 and J/24 have all been overwhelmed and sunk on the comparatively flat waters of San Francisco Bay. We're not saying you can't sail around the world in a Cal 25, because people have done it. What we are saying is that there's more risk involved doing it with a Cal 25 than a Cal 40. And there is way more risk to trying to do it with a Cal 20 - no matter what John Vigor might say.
We don't know of anyone who has done a circumnavigation or even a very long ocean passage in a Catalina 22. And although we're sure that somebody probably could if the boat was beefed up in a few places, we sure wouldn't recommend it. It's not that there are any defects, just that the boat wasn't designed and built with that purpose in mind. It's for the same reason that people don't enter a Mazda Miata in the Baja 1000 Off-Road Rally.
The Catalina 22 is a fine little boat for what it was designed to do, which is sail in mostly protected waters. As such, you can have a great time in many parts of Baja, in the Pacific Northwest, on Lake Tahoe, on San Francisco, San Diego and Newport Bays, and many other places. When you decide you want to do more open water sailing, we suggest you move up to a boat designed and built for that purpose.
By the way, it's wrong to think that a circumnavigation is merely a bunch of "ocean hops strung together", because not all 'ocean hops' are created equal. Some - from South Africa to the Caribbean - are usually quite easy, while others - such as Tonga to New Zealand - can be very difficult if not dangerous. Furthermore, ocean crossings frequently aren't the most difficult parts of a circumnavigation. Imagine trying to sail a Cal 20 up the Red Sea, along the southeast coast of Africa, or the Pacific Coast from Cabo to San Francisco.
WHO TURNED THE LIGHTS OUT?
We're writing in regard to Robert and Virginia Glesers' report that the Point Conception light was out when they passed. We had a similar experience in June of 2000 with our Rawson 30 Andante.
After two days of being anchored at Cojo, at 0300 the conditions became perfect for a sprint around Conception to Port San Luis, Andante's summer home. The swell was only about four feet with a 12 second interval, and there was no wind. Visibility was limited to about 500 yards due to fog, but it wasn't too bad. Those who are familiar with Conception will know that this is about as pleasant as it ever gets.
After weighing the anchor and motoring west to round Government Point, I planned on taking bearings on the Conception and Arguello lights. Basically we'd be navigating by sight, as my crew were navigational novices and I frankly didn't want all the hassle of frequently checking the GPS and plotting our positions on the chart. Besides, I'm quite familiar with the waters, the oil platforms and the points.
While the fog understandably made the oil platforms invisible, I expected to be able to see the Conception and Arguello lights from just a mile off. By the way, normally we wouldn't go so close to shore, but the conditions were so mild. But much to our amazement, when we rounded the two points, we discovered that both the lights were out that morning!
I was so surprised that these two important lights were out that I radioed Platform Harvest and the Coast Guard for confirmation that I wasn't going crazy. They assured me that both lights were indeed "in-op". I wouldn't have been surprised by two major lights being out in Mexico, but in California? Amazing! Of course, prior to GPS and Loran, a faithful lighthouse keeper would have been on hand to make sure the dang lights were operational.
Because the lights were dark and we couldn't see the oil platforms, we headed about six miles offshore and then relied on the GPS and DR. At that point, I began waxing eloquent to my novice crew about the virtues of having a GPS and a backup GPS for when the lighthouses on major points and hazards are not working. Lighthouses are still important, of course, but this little trip made me really appreciate GPS. For instead of being frightened, it allowed us to have a great time. Modern navigational tools really do make sailing more fun.
If I didn't have GPS, I would have had to use the chart, depthsounder and compass. In that case I would have been getting rough fixes, not being sure about set and drift, and always being a little stressed. We would have been safe, but I would have been crabby. If both lighthouses and the GPS system went out . . . well I would have stayed or returned to Cojo until the lights came back on or the sun came out.
The rest of our passage was delightful, as a rare 15 knot westerly filled in about 11 a.m., allowing us to sail the last 22 miles into Port San Luis without tacking. In my past trips, I've usually taken green water over the bow while motorsailing into relatively calm - for Conception - headwinds of 15 to 20 knots.
Andante, Rawson 30
Brent - We're a little confused how you
could have known Arguello was also out before you headed six miles
offshore, but that's pretty much beside the point.
THE NO LIGHT OF CONCEPTION
The letter from Robert and Virginia Gleser about the Pt. Conception light not being on when they passed it got me to thinking. For on October 7, when I was rounding Conception on a trip from the Channel Islands to Morro Bay, there was 20 miles of visibility and a cloud ceiling of 5,000 feet. So when the sun went down and we were between the oil platforms and the points at Arguello and Conception, I expected to see the lights come on at the two points. But neither one of them ever did! One of my crew, formerly a member of the Coast Guard, thought it might have been a result of another round of budget cuts. I forgot all about it until the Glesers' letter.
Amen to your editorial comments on GPS and radar. I made a few passages past Pt. Conception, Pt. Arguello and Pt. Sur by dead reckoning, and it was nerve-racking. The same passages with GPS are much easier on the nerves, although not without concerns.
Sorina, Columbia 45
Ed - According to the Coast Guard,
the Point Conception Light has been "discrepant" about
ten times since 1996 for reasons such as beacon motor failure,
breaker failures and commercial power failure. The time of outage
varied from four hours to three and a half days. When the main
light goes dark, there is a back-up light which operates at a
The Point Conception Light went "discrepant" again in April, 2000, due to the Fresnel lens being tilted off center. Starting in April 2000, the lighthouse had been operating on the emergency back-up light. On January 22, 2001, the back-up light was reported extinguished by a mariner and the Coast Guard fixed it on January 27. On February 18, the Coast Guard installed a new lantern as the primary light (which has a 21 NM range, a few miles less than the 26 NM range advertised in the Light List). Since then, there have been no further complaints about the Point Conception light being extinguished.
SEA OF CORTEZ SAILING WEEK
We arrived in La Paz on February 25 to start organizing Sea of Cortez Sailing Week - the dates of which are April 27 to May 5. It's still early, of course, but the cruising fleet we've met so far is small. Of the cruisers we've spoken to - particularly those with children - most are convinced that Sailing Week is not for them. Why? Because they think it's just a week of adult debauchery and drunken gringos stumbling around at Caleta Partida.
Pepe and I want to let everyone know that we are not going to let this happen this year, but are going to host a great party with fun activities for adults and kids. Everyone has our word that the entire event will be G-rated and family friendly. There are lots of boats cruising Mexico with kids this year, and Sailing Week - with all the fun activities on the beach and on the water - is perfect for them.
So we encourage all folks looking for G-rated cruising fun to be a part of what we intend to make the best Sea of Cortez Sailing Week ever. If, on the other hand, you're looking to do a lot of drinking and wild partying, try somewhere else.
Pepe and Sue Maxwell
Melissa, Spindrift 43
Readers - The beach activities at Sea
of Cortez Sailing Week really can be great for kids. Our daughter
and son - now 20 and 18 respectively - can still vividly remember
some of the good times they had during one Week 15 years ago.
Somebody had a giant windsurfer, and the Wanderer slowly sailed
it back and forward across the 18-inch deep water in front of
the beach. This allowed his son and daughter - as well as a bunch
of other young children - to hop on, fall off in the shallow water,
hop back on again, and fall off again. It was nonstop silly fun
in the warm air, warm water and soft sand. We're not exaggerating
when we say it's one of the fondest memories we have with our
kids. As such, we salute Pepe and Sue for their valiant efforts
in trying to revive and sustain what really could and should be
a great event.
Nobody is asking us, but we think there are two main reasons for Sailing Week's troubled years recently: 1) A lack of focus on what the event really is, and 2) A lack of continuity in leadership and organization. Back when the Wanderer founded the event in the early '80s, he had a definite vision: It was to be Mexico's version of Antigua Sailing Week. As such, racing was to be a main focus, and was treated as such. There was a proper entry list, proper results, and lots of photographs were taken for various publications. Like Antigua, there were also some adult activities - such as wet T-shirt and tiny swimming suit competitions for both the men and women. Ironically, these activities - because everybody was included and cheered, no matter how old or out of shape - resulted more in group bonding than raunch, although there was a little of that also. In any event, it was a successful formula for back then, as more than 200 boats participated in some form or another in both the second and third years. It was a lot of fun, too, for adults and kids. Why, the Wanderer even met a woman there that he later married for a brief time.
As the years went on, the distance and control squabbles in La Paz resulted in our becoming less involved, and it seems that the event began to lose direction. Racing - which had once been the centerpiece - deteriorated with sloppy entry lists, incomplete results, and a lack of coverage and photos with which to promote the event for the following year. Once the racing became mostly a joke, the event lost much of its attraction for many of the younger and more active sailors who bring the zest to most any event. Furthermore, without racing as the centerpiece, the only reason left for the event was cruiser socializing. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, except that it's hardly a compelling purpose when that's what cruisers do most of the year anyway.
If Sea of Cortez Sailing Week is to have any hope of surviving and thriving, we believe it needs three things: 1) A clear main purpose. This doesn't necessarily have to be sailboat racing, as it could just as easily be protecting the Sea of Cortez. 2) A consistent agenda, so people can look forward to activities and know what to expect. And no, it doesn't have to include wet T-shirt or beer-belly contests. 3) Consistent and committed leadership. It has it this year in Sue and Pepe, but what about the future?
The Banderas Bay Regatta has all three of the necessary elements, and it's thriving. Loreto Week - the purpose of which is to clean up Puerto Escondido - has it and is also doing very well. The Baja Ha-Ha has all three, and also continues to be popular. It seems to us that at some point the Club Cruceros - which has been running Sea of Cortez Sailing Week for the last 10 years or so - should decide whether it has the interest and ability to put on such an event or let it die a merciful death.
Help! I have a perfectly good engine - a Pisces 40 Isuzu 3-cylinder diesel - in my Sausalito-berthed Cal 40 that I can't seem to find parts for. Can anybody assist me? I'm stuck to the dock until I find parts. I can be reached at ocean at dnai.com
Patriot, Cal 40
Sausalito / Corte Madera
NOT JUST ANY PORT WILL DO
I own an Aries 32, which is a heavy double-ended cruiser that was built in Taiwan in '84 and sold new in Sausalito in '85. Unfortunately, the port light on the forward pulpit got smashed in a too close encounter with a piling. The light is made of heavy cast bronze and looks like the forward pulpit lights you see on older Hans Christians. I have tried to get a replacement light at West Marine, Svendsen's and other Bay Area chandleries. They all tell me to check with the Smithsonian, since my boat is 15 years old. But I can't just use a modern featherweight light, since it won't fit on the pulpit - and besides, it would look out of place on my otherwise classic looking boat.
So, my question is where do the Master Mariners and owners of classic vessels get replacement parts for their boats? If all else fails, who can repair a cast bronze port light? If anyone - particularly owners of Aries 32s - can help me, I can be reached at (510) 237-4722 or emailed at SHoyer-Nielsen at Juno.com
Svend - One of the great things about having boats built in Taiwan is they could afford to make lots of custom fittings. Then again, one of the bad things about having boats built in Taiwan is they could afford to make lots of custom fittings. We hope one of our readers can help.
I'll soon be crewing for a friend helping him bring his Catalina 47 from Ensenada up to San Francisco. I have sailed from Seattle to San Francisco, but never along the coast of Southern California. I have the charts and usual navigation information, but now I'm looking for any practical advice, warnings or precautions. We aren't pushed for time, so our current plans are to sail along the coast and hold over during bad weather. Of particular concern is the area from Santa Barbara around Pt. Conception to San Luis Obispo.
John - Assuming you've got radar for
fog, the two places you're most likely to get nailed by nasty
northwesterlies are Pt. Conception and Pt. Sur. Naturally, you
can wait out bad weather for Conception at Cojo, which is nearby
and one of the more lovely spots along the coast. The problem
with Sur is that you have to backtrack a ways if you don't make
it. But if you're not pressed for time, you've got the biggest
thing going in your favor.
Last night I read the March article about a group of guys sailing Lasers on Tomales Bay in very stormy conditions and am not very happy about it. I've raced all kinds of boats from El Toros to my current position as foredeck on a J/105. When I was 14, I wanted to sail Lasers more then anything. I was a junior member at St. Francis, and was fortunate enough to go to the camp at Tinsley Island. While there, we were all star-struck when Madro showed up after coming off a fourth in the Laser Worlds. That stuff still makes my skin tingle. But please don't think this letter will be about me, because it's about judgement and attitude. I'm addressing this letter to all the current 'little nippers' out there who've caught the sailing bug.
I've never responded to an article or called a talk show before, but I'm writing this letter because that article about Laser sailors on Tomales Bay really upset me. For one thing, the author's tone really bothered me, because it was just plain wrong for them to have gone out sailing that day. And for them to persist despite knowing they were in over their heads is sad and was foolhardy. For them to photograph what they did and then wear it around like a badge of courage is sickening. In my opinion, it was the equivalent of driving under the influence and bragging about it. And I'm not trying to be funny here. What they did was not a victimless crime, because poor judgement potentially affects countless others.
Here is a short list of things that could have happened in less then five seconds: 1) One of the bows goes under at full speed and the helmsman is slammed into the mast. He breaks bones, has internal bleeding, or simply gets tangled in the rig and drowns as the boat turtles. 2) The sail jibes in one of those shifty gusts and cracks the sailor's head open, knocks him unconscious, or just breaks his neck. 3) The skipper falls out, starts choking and drowns. 4) One of the poorly prepared boats breaks or critical parts fall off, leaving the sailor to float around and get hypothermic. So, there are four quick things. I'm leaving out the less likely ones such as heart attack or shark attack. Any of these things are possible at any time, but to practically set them up is reckless. Do these gentlemen have families? Would they be missed? Would some other well-meaning soul be lost trying to save them?
I'm not trying to say that they should leave this stuff to the pros. The pros wouldn't try what they did. Pros respect the weather, themselves, the rescuers, and their loved ones too much to have tried it. I've seen that great movie from the '70s about the Laser Slalom at the St. Francis YC. It had some great wipeouts and the fans loved it. But just off camera was a crash boat with a first aid kit and a radio to call an ambulance. And the sailors had trained hard to work up to those conditions, they'd thoroughly checked their boats before leaving the dock, they stayed close to shore, they didn't sail for long periods without rest, and they were being closely watched. Oh yes, they always wore lifejackets, too.
Don Trask was in that movie doing his backward jibes, and I'd love to hear what he thought about that stuff in Tomales Bay. My friend Mike Eichwald from Redding is in his 60s and still does the Grand Master Worlds every time. I'd like to know what he thinks. The same with some of the young guns. But I can tell you that you wouldn't find Nick Adamson out there trashing around on a "beater boat" in such conditions. These are the true gentlemen of the sport, and I point them out to our youth as the role models. They have terrific stories of a life of sailing because they use common sense. Remember them.
You young sailors need to know that Lasers are wonderful machines, but please don't use them irresponsibly, drive drunk or push foolhardy luck.
Having just read about the Baja Ha-Ha in a current issue of Cruising World, I was fascinated - and greatly envious of previous participants. Having been a half owner of a Tayana 36 now sailing out of Long Beach, I contacted my former partners - now the sole owners - to see if they'd like to do it this fall. The answer was "yes," and that I should check out the Ha-Ha Web site. But when I did so, I discovered that the Ha-Ha Web site only covered as recently as the '98 rally. Can you tell me if there will be a rally this fall? And if so, what are the dates?
New York, NY
Bill - The Ha-Ha folks admit that their
Web site was a little neglected last year, and apologize. If you
go to www.baja-haha.com,
you'll see it's been updated and there is a small gallery from
last year. They hope to add more photos soon. Full details on
this fall's Ha-Ha won't be available until the May 1 Latitude 38 and 'Lectronic
Latitude, but it will start on October 30 from San Diego and
end on November 10 in Cabo San Lucas.
THE PINEAPPLE CUP RUNNETH OVER
I want to thank you for last month's great article on the Pineapple Cup from Fort Lauderdale to Montego Bay, Jamaica. The coverage was accurate and greatly appreciated. I have mailed several copies of Latitude to skipper Bill Zartler in Houston. Bonkers, the J/130 that we raced together, is headed to Antigua. After doing Sailing Week with some of the Sceptre crew, she'll then head back to Houston - probably with some of our crew along for the delivery as well. We raced in the Golden Gate YC midwinters last Saturday, and everyone was still pumped up about the Jamaica Race. We're already talking about the next one in 2003.
YOU DON'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
In my frequent travels around America, I have the opportunity to pick up many different boating publications. Latitude is clearly the best of the free publications. And I can't think of a single one of the glossy newsstand boating magazines that has the feel and inspiration of yours. It just goes to show you that you don't always get what you pay for.
Russ - Thanks for the kind words. Much
of the credit goes to our fine readers, who contribute so much
and give us the freedom to try to publish the best magazine we
We're responding to the January letter from Don Swartz - as well as other recent letters - about catamaran construction. We built our own - which we sailed in the last Ha-Ha and are currently cruising in Mexico - because at the time there was little to choose from in our price range.
For custom construction, there are numerous quality designers from which to choose, and a full range of design types, from extreme racers to heavier cruising cats. As for cost, unless you plan to build the cat yourself, it will not be less expensive or even close to the cost of a production cat. The gap between the cost of the production hull shell to that of a custom cat is far wider than people realize. Our Tony Grainger-designed Mystery Cove 380 Mk-II only came out to be less expensive for three reasons: 1) Extensive access to OEM pricing on materials and equipment due to 20 years in the marine business; 2) Easy access to professional trades people at low cost for the areas where I knew the people; and 3) The fact that we didn't include the value of our own 7,000 hours of work.
While our catamaran is considerably more 'cruisey' than Latitude's Profligate - she has mini-keels and a self-tacking jib - she has still proven to be quite fast and comfortable. The most important advantage of a custom boat is just that; you get to customize the boat the way you want. For example, we only have one piece of wood in our entire boat - the handle on our custom Force 10 stove. And instead of multiple heads, we gave Grace an eight-foot dedicated craft and sewing area - but we still have three queen-size cabins. One of the negatives of building your own boat is that you have to live with your own mistakes. It's much harder on the ego.
When you realize that a 38-foot cat is somewhat comparable to a 46-47 foot monohull in terms of space and performance, the price comparisons tend to fall into perspective. Also, our cat at 38'9" does just fine on the ocean. We built it that size because it's easier for two people to handle, as opposed to that old idea that you need a longer waterline to go offshore. Besides, it was the length we could afford.
P.S. Thanks to all the folks who worked so diligently to make the 2000 Ha-Ha such a success. We had a great time!
Richard Brooker and Grace Spencer
Crocodile Rock, Mystery Cove 38
Sea of Cortez
Richard & Grace - Remember all the
kit boats you used to be able to buy from Columbia, Islander and
other Southern California builders? What the world needs now is
somebody to do a production kit version of a 45-foot cat - for
which purpose we nominate Blair Grinoles' Capricorn Cat as being
a good blend of ocean-going size, speed and load carrying ability.
Because cat structures have such gigantic surface area, production
hull and decks save enormous amounts of time and expense - far
more so than with monohulls. But when it comes to building basic
custom catamaran interiors, it's easier than monohulls for two
reasons: 1) You don't have complications because of curved and
tight spaces, and 2) The basic catamaran shape almost 'builds'
four basic cabins by default.
For what it's worth, Profligate also has a self-tacking jib. We only mention it because - as you know - it makes sailing so incredibly easy. Here's the drill for tacking on Profligate. 1) Put the helm over. 2) Go inside the salon to grab something to eat and see what everybody is doing. 3) Come back outside, at which time the boat is now charging ahead on the other tack. No letting sheets go, pulling them in, grinding - any of that stuff.
SAILING INDUSTRY SPIES IN THAILAND?
Cruisers accused of industrial espionage when trying to buy a dinghy? It happened to us in Thailand!
Our poor Bombard dinghy was falling apart while we were in Thailand, so we started looking for a replacement. In the process, we heard about a German in Phuket named Hans Martin who owns the Cholamark Boat Company. They build hypalon fabric dinghies with fiberglass bottoms. So when we got to Phuket, we arranged to meet Martin and inspect his 'hansboats'. We asked a lot of questions and took a bunch of measurements from one of his 10-footers that was inflated. The reason for the measurements was simple; our Impetuous is not a big boat, so we had to make sure the 10-ft hansboat would fit between the headstay and babystay, and that we'd still have room to move around the foredeck while at sea.
We took the measurements back to our boat and spent the evening measuring our deck and debating whether a hansboat would fit properly. We called Hans the next day and asked if it would be possible to take some additional measurements when the hansboat was deflated. He said 'yes', so we headed back down to his place at Chalong. As we intended to also do some sightseeing that day, we brought along our video and still cameras. So when Andreas was deflating the boat and measuring, I shot some video. What a mistake!
When Martin saw us, he screamed around the corner in his four-wheel drive and accused us of being industrial spies! I should mention that we were in an open shed where there were only finished inflatables. There was no production going on there or any unfinished products laying around. Some of his staff members were around when we shot the video and didn't object. Nonetheless, Martin gave us a lecture and wouldn't allow us to get a word in. He ended his speech by saying there was no way he was going to allow us to buy one of his boats. Needless to say, we were rendered speechless. Furthermore, Martin made us - in his presence - delete the video we had recorded. As there was no point in arguing with the man, we left.
The inflatables Martin makes are modified versions of Avon hypalon fabric RIBS, and we believe they are good boats. But if anyone wants to buy one, make sure you don't ask too many questions or take too many measurements. And for heaven's sake, don't bring any cameras to Martin's 'showshed', as this will preclude you from being able to buy one.
We've told other cruisers about the incident, and they've offered to buy a hansboat for us if we'd like - so we might just leave Thailand with one of Martin's boats anyway. But a few weeks later, another cruiser told us about SNCraft, which are good quality hypalon dinghies made in Bangkok and sold at Vivapol Motors in Phuket. We went to see the SNCraft, and Chana, a very nice man, answered all our questions. We'll probably end up buying a boat from him. We hope Chana will give Martin some serious competition, because maybe then Martin will give his customers service instead of chase them away.
Rikke Willums and Andreas Holo
Impetuous, C&C 38
Thailand / Baerum, Norway
Rikke & Andreas - We're baffled by everyone's behavior. Sure, we can understand you wanting to measure the inflatable both inflated and deflated, as you have to know that it's going to fit your boat. But video tape it? We can't imagine what purpose that would serve - other than provide you with some very boring entertainment. So it wouldn't have totally surprised us if Hans got a little suspicious. On the other hand, designing rigid hull inflatables isn't exactly rocket science, so we can't imagine what he felt you might have been stealing from him. Like we say, the whole brouhaha makes no sense to us whatsoever.
As Pauline and I have gotten older - I'm in my mid-70s - I've noticed that she can't jump as far with the docklines as she used to. And I can't jump as far as she can. Since there are usually bystanders on the docks both back at our homeport of Long Beach and down here in Mexico's Paradise Marina, it hasn't been a problem. But we did have a problem during a hard rain with a strong cross wind at Dana Point when we started heading south. The rain had washed the bystanders away, and the boat wouldn't stay in position long enough for me to take a line ashore. I've come up with a solution, one I think will help other folks who seem to have trouble docking.
I tie a line to the midship or spring cleat, and pass a long loop out through the chock. I then lay it back inside over the top lifeline. The fall or end of the line is left laying on the deck. I then ask Pauline to stand there and hold the loop like a bullfighter holds his cape, and when I come alongside the dock, she's to lasso the cleat on the dock with the loop. Once she's accomplished this, she is to drop the loop, pick up the fall, and take in all the slack she can before cleating it off. After the cleat is hooked and the fall secure, I slowly motor forward. Using the rudder, I'm able to keep the boat parallel with the dock. The opposing force from the dock line will pull the boat alongside. I then step ashore and take the bow and stern lines from Pauline and secure them.
This has become our preferred way to dock in even calm conditions and/or when bystanders are present. If someone is there to take the line, we pass them the spring line first and I remain in control of the boat, avoiding the pushing and pulling that is sometimes required. In calm conditions, I put the boat in neutral before stepping ashore. When necessary, I wait a minute to be sure my line and dock cleat are holding, then leave the boat in gear until I get her tied up.
This is just a variation of what is known as 'springing'. The more commonly known and used version is to move the stern of your boat away from the dock when you are pinned in by wind or current. To do that, you tie your spring line as far forward as possible, then motor forward slowly as your stern swings out. Be aware that your boat will touch the dock forward unless you have someone or a fender to keep the bow off.
Orient Star, Cheoy Lee Offshore 50
Long Beach / Paradise Village, Mexico
$57,000 IN FEES SOUNDS A LITTLE HIGH
Enclosed is an article from our local periodico here in La Paz, the Gringo Gazette, relative to anchoring fees in Mexico. As with all fees, once you get your feet wet, you look for ways to increase the flow. Since the A.P.I. is the controlling agency for ports in Mexico, and is partially owned by the marina owners, it's not surprising that they voted to require that all vessels - even those in marinas and on moorings - be subject to the anchoring fees. It's sort of like the hidden 25% tax on slip fees in Southern California. Anyway, once you check into the port captain's jurisdiction, they got ya.
There are approximately 5,000 vessels on the west coast of Mexico that are subject to anchoring fees. This can equate to $5 million U.S. per year. How much will go into infrastructure and how much into private U.S. bank accounts. Quen sabe?
I've enclosed copies of the latest fee structure from A.P.I.
Shirly - We always cringe when we get
a letter from La Paz, because so many of them have been filled
with careless factual errors that lead to absurd conclusions and
gross misinformation. We're sure you're a wonderful person, but
your letter falls into this category. We can somewhat understand
why if you rely on Deborah Bear of the Gringo Gazette for your
information, because as we'll soon demonstrate, she is - to put
it mildly - weak on reading comprehension and basic math. And
her common sense is frankly a little suspect, too.
1) We don't like to destroy La Paz conspiracy theories, but the A.P.I. is not partially owned by marina owners or private individuals. If you visit their Web site - www.bajaport.com - you'll read the following: "In March of 1996, the Port Administration (APIBCS) was established as a trading company under Mexican legislation. Owned by the state government, the APIBCS works under a 50-year concession drawn by the Communications and Transport Ministry, with a mission to develop and maintain its ports to serve the needs of the communities and marine transportation in general."
2) Contrary to another of your claims, vessels in marinas or on moorings owned by private concessions are not subject to the A.P.I. anchoring fees. Who told you they were?
3) Your assertion that there are 5,000 vessels on the west coast of Mexico subject to the API fees is ridiculous. First of all, there aren't 5,000 cruising boats on the west coast of Mexico. Secondly, only a fraction of these boats are subject to the anchoring fee. If we had to hazard a guess, we'd put the number at about 500.
4) Five million U.S. dollars a year collected in anchoring fees? For this to be true, there would have to be 5,000 foreign boats subject to the fee, each one of which was paying $1,000 a year. With all due respect, do you know of a single boatowner - let alone 5,000 - that has paid or is willing to pay $1,000 a year in anchoring fees?
There is an old adage that cautions against believing everything you read, and this would seem to apply in particular to the scribblings of Ms. Bear. One quote from her Gringo Gazette article demonstrates why: "To anchor out in the cheap seats, it will cost you about $8 per day per ton if your boat is under 20 tons." If we're to believe this statement, the owner of a 20-ton boat would owe a daily anchoring fee of $160 U.S., a monthly anchoring fee of $4,800 U.S., and an annual anchoring fee of $57,600 a year. Maybe you two women were raised on feminist math - where feeling good about a wrong answer is far more important than getting the right answer - but does it seem even remotely plausible to either one of you that anyone is paying nearly $5,000 a month to anchor out? Or if we were to accept one of your earlier 'facts', that marina tenants are paying, in addition to their normal berth fee, an anchoring fee of nearly $5,000 a month. What could the two of you be thinking? Do you pay $5,000 a month in an anchoring fees for El Mojo?
How did Ms. Bear come up with such preposterous figures? A casual glance at the copy of the API rate sheet you sent to us makes it perfectly clear. The anchoring fee for vessels under 20 tons is 7.70 pesos a day - or about 80 U.S. cents. Unfortunately, Ms. Bear got off on the wrong track - by a factor of more than 10 - by not realizing the peso rather than the U.S. dollar is the legal currency in Mexico. Alas, that wasn't even her worst error. She then decided the figure was a per ton rate rather than a flat rate for boats under 20 tons. That put her figures off by an additional multiple of 20.
So, no, Mexico does not stand to collect $5.5 million U.S. a year in anchoring fees from cruising boats. At the maximum, we'd put the figure at about $144,000, and think - because of the seasonal nature of anchoring out - it's more likely to be $25,000 to $75,000 a year. Quite a difference. Does any of the A.P.I. money find its way into private bank accounts? There's no way to tell. Mexico has a long history of corruption, but under President Fox, it may be changing. For example, A.P.I. money has already been used to replace sand at La Paz's malecon, refurbish the municipal pier, clean up the harbor and improve facilities for the local fishermen of Santa Rosalia, and other projects. It's also been used to install and maintain navigation aids all over Mexico.
THE FIRST AND THE BEST
This is in response to your request for opinions concerning 'classic' trimarans.
In 1960, I had the good fortune to get to know Arthur Piver of Mill Valley. At the time, he'd just completed his first 30-foot Nimble trimaran. He took me along for a few sails on the Bay, and the ease, speed and maneuverability of the boat was a revelation to me. I had previously crewed on a 60-ft Colin Archer monohull across the Atlantic, and on a 38-ft West Country gaff ketch from England to the Balearic Islands in the Med. They were nothing like Nimble, which glided lightly and swiftly, as though a different species.
Piver had entered Nimble in the first TransAtlantic Single-handed Race from England to the United States, and getting the boat from Sausalito to the starting line in Plymouth, England, was going to be a bit of a problem. So Piver had built Nimble so her cross-arms and floats (amas) could be unbolted from the main hull for trucking across the United States.
Piver optimistically hoped to set an Atlantic record on the way to England, so he wanted to keep the boat's gear and crew weight to a minimum. He had already signed on one crew and felt that was enough, but I kept asking him to let me come along also. He finally relented. So after trailering the dismounted hulls across the country to Narraganset Bay, we reassembled the boat and left for England. Piver tells about the trip in TransAtlantic Trimaran, his first book. He left out some of the problems we had. They were not generic to trimarans per se, but rather a result of the boat having had to be transported across the country in parts. Once on the Atlantic, we had 11 or 12 days of gales going over, and found that Nimble loved to surf. It was thrilling! As we were mostly running before a northwesterly, we got south of our course and ended up visiting the Azores before continuing to England.
I was so impressed by Nimble's performance that I built two of Piver's designs in the next few years: a 24-ft Nugget, which I sailed in Denmark, and a 32.5-ft Herald built here in the States. I made two Atlantic crossings with that boat and cruised the Med as far east as Greece. None of these trimarans - Nimble or my two - had auxiliary engines. But if there was even the faintest breeze, they would move along sweetly.
By originating, developing and ocean-testing his trimaran designs, Piver had made it possible for someone to build his own ocean-going boat for the price of a used Chevy and go cruising. During the '60s and '70s, many of his designs opened up the world of sailing to people who otherwise could not have afforded it. Piver disappeared at sea in 1968, and today seems a forgotten man. But he was the first. And, in my opinion, the best.
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