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CHEAPER THAN A DAY AT A THEME PARK

I have not been to Disneyland for many years, but I suspect that a day pass at that theme park would cost more than the 282 pesos the Port Captain charged me for my 30-day stay in Z-town. And Z-town is definitely more fun! The same goes for Barra de Navidad and Nuevo Vallarta, where I also had to pay 'the fee'.

I wish Terri Grossman, President of the Mexican Marina Owners' Association, much luck in her efforts to get rid of the current paper chase required when checking in and out of every port. But I think that cruisers get a lot of enjoyment for the money.

Don Marcy
Merinda, Cal 34
Marina Nuevo Vallarta / Olympia, WA

Don - We're confident that before long the entire fee structure and checking in and out process will be changed in Mexico. Right now it's a mess, because it's excessively expensive for active cruisers who follow the letter of the law, and because it's a massive waste of time and money for both cruisers and the Mexican government. The problem is that under current law recreational boats fall under the jurisdiction of the department of Communications and Transportation, and don't get much attention. We think the ideal solution is an annual or semi-annual cruiser permit, and the elimination of all checking in and checking out - except when entering and leaving the country. Thanks to the efforts of Grossman and those who politely and intelligently register complaints with the office of Tourism, we think this will be accomplished.

THE EASTER BUNNY VISITS CLIPPER COVE

We decided to spend Easter weekend out on the Bay. After a beautiful sail from South San Francisco on Saturday morning, we dropped the hook in Clipper Cove. What started out as a windy evening, turned into a beautiful, calm night. We woke up Sunday refreshed and ready for another day of sailing before heading home.

After heating up the cabin to about 100 degrees so we could face getting out of our bunk, my captain went out on deck to check the weather. He was halfway out the hatch when he stopped and exclaimed, "No way!" I thought someone was doing something crazy, but then he came back down the companionway with an Easter basket in his hands. That's right, the Easter Bunny visited us at Clipper Cove! We took the accompanying photo immediately so we could send it to you before the goodies started disappearing - which was pretty fast.

We suspect that the Easter Bunny visiting us may have had some help, as there was a boat nearby flying the Easter Bunny Flag. Whoever was involved, we want to say a big 'Thank you!'

Tracy and Daryl Parsons
Willard 30
South San Francisco

IN MEMORY OF A FRIEND AND WORLD CHAMPION

Giorgio Zuccoli of Italy, the current Melges 24 World Champion, passed away last month after a long battle with cancer. He was diagnosed in the winter of 1995 and missed the Tornado Worlds in Australia the following January. Nonetheless, the numerous operations that followed didn't slow him down at all.

Giorgio was a sailor who loved fast boats. He won the Tornado Worlds, was the Italian Tornado representative at the Barcelona Olympics, and loved sailing his Melges and his A-Cat. He was also a really good sailmaker. All but one of the Tornados at the last Olympics in Sydney had at least one sail built by his Northern Italy loft.

Giorgio had a great outlook on life, which is why everyone enjoyed being around him. I saw him in the parking lot at Alamitos Bay YC after the '99 Melges 24 Worlds, and said that it was too bad he'd taken second in the very close regatta for the second year in a row. He disagreed, saying that Vince Brun and crew had sailed better and therefore deserved to win. He said he was happy with his own crew and his boatspeed, and then turned the topic of conversation to the 2000 Worlds to be held in France. He told me what he and his crew would change and work on for the next Worlds. The next year he and the same crew he had sailed with for five years won in La Rochelle. There was a huge cheer that went up when he was awarded the trophy.

Last December I went to a party celebrating their world championship. Even though Giorgio was weak after yet another operation, he enthusiastically talked about his new A-Cat and sailing in the spring.

Everyone who knew Giorgio Zuccoli will miss him.

Jay Glaser
Long Beach

ENGINE LOVE

Can you guys help a mariner in distress? I have a perfectly good Ford Industrial 170 series diesel, but the OSCO intake/exhaust manifold is shot.

This wonderful piece of American engineering has never missed a beat, not even when I inadvertently ended up in the Potato Patch one nasty night, where for a lifetime of about 30 frightening minutes each end of my boat was either pointed at the sky or the depths of the sea. Or the gale in which we took a knockdown, while the engine buzzed along even though it was basically on its side. Or how it got us home from the Doublehanded Farallones Race when we lost both sails. Or the classic: We were tied to one of the buoys that used to be at the southeast side of Angel Island when a storm blew in. I was concerned, so I stood watch. About 0300, I realized that the buoy we were supposedly attached to was floating away. Our line had obviously frayed, and we were being blown onto the shore. I turned the engine on and yelled at my friend to get up and help me. She got up and sleepily went to turn on the running lights - but inadvertently turned off the engine. I screamed at her and lunged for the switch, at which time she realized what she had done, and immediately turned the engine on again. In my panic, I didn't realize she'd turned it on, so I hit the switch and turned it off again. We eventually got our act together, and finally got the engine going. We have no idea how close we came to the shore as it was so dark, but despite the general mayhem and noise - we'd also gone to bed without washing the dinner stuff - we could still hear the waves crashing on the shore. Through all this, the engine did exactly what it was asked to do, never missing an 'On' or 'Off'.

These and other situations that I'm too embarrassed to mention leave a lump in my throat, as I realize that engine has saved my life more than once. And that if I can't get a manifold transplant for it, it will die. Writing this plea, I realize that life, my government, friends, even my own stupidity, have at times tried to get me killed. My engine is the only thing that has consistently looked after me. I'm also putting an advertisement in your Classy Classifieds in the hope that someone somewhere has an OSCO manifold.

P.S. Did you know that if you have a torn sail stitched, there is no tax? But if you have a piece of cloth added to replace some that blew away, you do owe tax?

Derek Elliott
Octavia
Emeryville City Marina

RUNNING A TOURIST BOAT IN MEXICO

I'm interested in buying a boat in Mexico and using it to take tourists out on cruises. I've heard all sorts of different stories on Mexican laws regarding this scenario. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Bruce Rutherford
Penticton, British Columbia, Canada

Bruce - The good news is that it can legally be done. The bad news is that it can take a lot of time and money to legally establish such a business. Even then, Mexico is not what we would consider to be the most favorable business environment for gringos. For one thing, there can be no end to the fees and red tape. Secondly, the Mexicans do a pretty good job of this already, and at a very low overhead. Bottom line? You can make a lot more money faster and easier taking tourists sailing in British Columbia. But then it rains up there, doesn't it?

LIVEABOARDS

Last year Jennifer Belcher, the Public Lands Commissioner for the state of Washington, ordered the eviction of all liveaboard boaters from marinas on state waters. She claimed that people living aboard boats were, "Like living permanently out of a Winnebago at a campsite." Folks in some 270 marinas were affected.

Washington state liveaboards reacted by forming the Puget Sound Liveaboard Association. Then they began writing, lobbying and hiring lawyers to file suits on their behalf. While they didn't manage to change Commissioner Belcher's mind, they did find a lot of friends in the state's political system. Some 31 state legislators and Doug Sutherland, Belcher's replacement, immediately moved to reverse her policy regarding liveaboards. Sutherland's nearest rival in the election held similar views on the subject. I can't help but think that the PSLBA wasn't to some extent responsible for these decisions.

I'm writing to determine the interest, if any, in an organization that would address the concerns of the liveaboard community in Northern California. I think the community is larger than most people would guess, but poorly represented. Until now our only advocates have been friendly harbormasters and marina owners, who, unfortunately, are greatly influenced by the cities, state and agencies such as the BCDC.

Curiously enough, when reading their webpage, the BCDC seems to encourage municipalities to build marinas where possible. They also say they are not against the idea of liveaboards per se - although they restrict the percentage of liveaboards to 10% of the total slips. I presume this number was determined by considering the amount of parking, restrooms, pump-out stations, and factoring in things like the amount of gray water that might be created and how the tidal action would handle it. But I think that things like the waste water situation has changed in recent years because of outfits such as M.T. Head and others.

I think restrictions on the number of liveaboards should now be left up to individual marinas, as determined by things like parking spaces, dumpster capacity and so forth. Most already meter electricity and charge for use of laundry facilities. I'm aware that marinas like Marina Bay Harbor, San Leandro Marina and South Beach Harbor don't allow liveaboards at all. This seems odd, considering that extra liveaboard fees could address most of their concerns and increase profits - which I assume is the reason they're in business.

The recent evictions of boats at Peninsula Marina and the extreme difficulty these boatowners are experiencing in finding new slips - let alone liveaboard slips - highlight the need for a united voice for the liveaboard community. A friend informed me that he remembers a Redwood City Liveaboard Coalition, as well as a similar group in Sausalito, that were formed to fight the BCDC's attempt in the '80s to eliminate all liveaboards. I wonder if any remnant of these groups still exist?

Obviously land owners should be able to develop their property the way they see fit, zoning permitting. However, if the evicted slip renters had been apartment renters instead, the affected individuals might have had more legal avenues open to them.

I understand it's been the tradition of the liveaboard community to keep a low profile and hope to escape notice. But considering the value of our boats, the continual evolution of laws and policies concerning the use of waterways, and the impact these decisions have on people who may not be able to afford a land-based residence in addition to a boat, I think we need to start speaking up for ourselves. If living aboard was no longer allowed, the resale value of boats over 30 feet would drop significantly. Besides, it's not really fair to ask harbormasters to fight for us if we're not going to fight for ourselves.

I would be very interested in reading other opinions on this subject. I'm not sure how such an organization should be formed or operated, but I think we might be running out of time.

Peter Thelin
Bullfrog, Catfisher 28
California

Peter - Before we get too deep into this, we think a distinction needs to be made between three different uses of boats. It's obviously not this clear cut, but go along with it for the sake of argument. Type #1, used for recreation only; Type #2, used frequently as a boat for recreation, but coincidentally also used as a residence; and Type #3, used almost exclusively as a residence.

We think there are many people in the boating community - meaning marina owners, harbormasters, mariners, and we at Latitude - who would agree that perhaps there should be a hierarchy of berth use. We'd argue that up to some percentage of slips, say 10%, the highest priority ought to be given to Type #2 - mostly as a boat, but also as a residence - use. That Type #1 use - for recreation only - would be second. And that only in the absence of any demand for Type #1 and Type #2 use, should Type #3 use - residential only - be given any consideration.

The reason is simple. Marina slips and boats should overwhelmingly be for recreation and access to the Bay, not for low-cost housing. And it's no secret that there's already a problem with mariners who want to be able to use their boats as boats not being able to find slips because of all the people using boats exclusively as housing. The point we're trying to make is that it's going to be much harder than you think to get widespread support for liveaboards - even in the sailing community.

Besides, contrary to your assertion, money is not everything to marina owners. We know of several marina owners and harbormasters who specifically don't want liveaboards because they love boating and boaters more than they do a few extra bucks. They want to run marinas, not floating apartment complexes. Interestingly enough, it's in these marinas that sneak-aboards who very actively use their boats as boats very frequently get their living aboard winked at.

(Just five minutes after we wrote the above, we bumped into the owner of one of the biggest marinas in the Bay Area - and probably the one with the most desirable location. He told us he had 10% legal liveaboards - but was going to "get rid of them" through attrition. Why? "It's a pain in the ass having them, nothing but extra work and trouble. But most of all it's the pollution. The liveboards in some of the big old wood powerboats pump their sewage over the side - I caught one in the act last month. I can't have that.")

You say the BCDC seems to support liveaboards? Maybe on paper, and maybe an iota more than it used to because of the spectacular housing crisis. But over the years we talked to marina owners who thought about becoming legal, but decided the BCDC's demands would make it too expensive and their micromanagement make it not worth the trouble.

By the way, the BCDC's figure of 10% has nothing to do with parking, showers or anything like that. When the agency was formulating a Bay plan, the staff was opposed to the concept of living aboard - and philosophically probably still is - but they weren't as powerful back then and needed to compromise to get the plan approved. They justified the 10% figure of liveaboards with the ruse that it was in the interest of 'public safety'. Right. If a marina wants to get a BCDC permit for legal liveaboards, they have to meet specific requirements for things such as the number of parking spaces, dumpsters and things like that. Which, if the numbers are reasonable, only makes sense.

Here's how we see it: Right now there's more - way more - than 10% liveaboards in almost all marinas, no matter if they have permits from the BCDC or not. And everybody knows it. But the housing crisis is so severe that everyone is willing to look the other way - as long as some liveaboards rights group doesn't shove it right in the BCDC's face. So if you're one of the many sneakaboards or want to be a sneakaboard, we'll give you the same advice we've been giving out for years: 1) Live on a sailboat. Folks who buy inexpensive old wood powerboats might as well post a big sign that reads: "I'm Living Aboard!" 2) Do everything you can to appear not to live aboard. No dogs, no kids, no big BBQs, no crap on the dock, and no hogging the best parking spaces. 3) Join a health club so you can do most of your showering and crapping elsewhere. 4) Use your boat as a boat as frequently as possible, because it makes it less obvious that you're living aboard - besides, most harbormasters like people who enjoy their boats as boats. Or else they'd be managing apartment houses.

Oh yeah, the difference between Washington and San Francisco Bay? San Francisco Bay doesn't have 270 marinas or all the waterfront. San Francisco Bay has fewer boat berths than California has energy.

THE PEOPLE WE MET

We saw our names in the April issue article about West Coast sailors who have circumnavigated. In response to your request for corrections and additions, my name was spelled incorrectly - nothing unusual - as it should be Mark and Laraine Salmon. We did the trip from 1988 to '92.

We have since neglected Arietta quite a bit, but this January we began an extensive upgrade and refurbishing project. We have arranged for a slip in the new Ko Olina Marina in Oahu, and will keep the boat there for vacations. Hopefully lots of them. We plan to sail there in May. We feel very good about having a new life planned for Arietta, since it was so sad to see the old girl being so badly neglected.

Meanwhile, back in '94 I bought the Merit 25 Bewitched, which I have been racing in the Bay in the winter, and with my husband in the Wednesday and Friday night summer series in the Estuary. My husband has been crewing on Ixxis for the past few years. I was also in the Pacific Cup race last July - unfortunately on one of the boats that turned back due to the lack of wind and tight schedules.

I recognized the names of a lot of friends from the circumnavigator's list. In fact, the wonderful people we met were the best part of the trip.

Laraine Salmon
Arietta, Standfast 36, and Bewitched, Merit 25
Marina Village, Alameda

THE CHAPMAN CIRCUMNAVIGATION

Per your April issue request on folks who have circumnavigated, here's our information. Bill and Diana Chapman, Stockton, Bones VIII, Swan 47, '92-99. Our trip around was 30,000 miles and included stops at 34 countries. We followed the "two canal" track rather than sailing around Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope. We didn't set any speed records, but we had a ball and enjoyed staying over in countries that appealed to us. The Cruising Club of America awarded us their Circumnavigation Award & Pennant in January of 2000 - at the New York YC, no less. A visit to the club was worth the effort. We're spending the next year or so refitting the boat. After that, God willing, we're heading out again.

Bill and Diana Chapman
Bones VIII, Swan 47
Stockton

CATNIP CUP

Last June you hosted a Catnip Cup from the Golden Gate Bridge to Vallejo and back the next day. Any plans for another one? My Gemini 105 just arrived, and I'd love the chance to sail with the other cats.

Rich Kerbavaz
Northern California

Rich - We've been too busy to think about it, but if enough folks want to do it, we'll do it again. So if anyone has a cruising multihull and would like to participate, email Richard.

WHERE THERE'S NO SMOKE, THERE'S IRE

The following is the gist of an email that I sent to West Marine regarding their policy of not hiring people who smoke. I recently learned of this when I applied for a job there.

"Why do you discriminate against people who smoke? I have been a long time customer, and recently asked for an application for work at my local West Marine store. I was taken aback when I saw the question, 'Are you a smoker?' Is it legal for you to eliminate me from consideration for employment because of something I do on my own time? I didn't answer the question, but when I returned the application, the manager asked me about it and I responded truthfully. I usually smoke two to three cigarettes at night outside my house, and thus consider myself a smoker. I do my best not to smell like smoke and I understand how much a turnoff it is to customers.

I think their question should be changed to: "This is a non-smoking company. We do not allow our employees to smoke while at work. Do you have a problem following this policy?"

I have been sailing for many years. I have just finished the major rebuilding of my 30-ft sailboat, with all the supplies from West Marine. I spent three years working in the pest control industry, where I learned everything there is to know about customer service. Basically, I sprayed toxic chemicals in and around people's houses and got them to pay me for it. I would have enjoyed the chance to work for a company that is known and respected nationwide. It is unfortunate that I am prejudged on a habit that had no effect on my abilities."

I have been a customer of West Marine since before I bought my first boat, but after learning of their discriminatory practices I will no longer shop there. I know that I'm just one person and I have already spent thousands of dollars on West Marine products, but would I have done that if I had known that the establishment that would take my money wouldn't take me? Would you? West Marine claims they have a right to be a non-smoking company, and maybe they do. But is it right that they refuse to hire me because of something that I do at home, is perfectly legal, and has no effect on my ability to do my job?

Paul Glunt
Northern California

Paul - We put the question to Michelle Farabaugh, Senior Vice President of Marketing at West Marine. She confirmed that West Marine is a non-smoking company, but always complies with the applicable state laws. This means that in California, which doesn't protect smokers' rights, they do not hire smokers. But in the states that do protect smokers' rights, they do hire smokers. Offhand, she didn't know how long this policy had been in effect, but believed it was about ten years.

Even though nobody has smoked at
Latitude for ages, we have to confess that we're stunned. Sure, we can see the reasoning behind not wanting employees to smoke during working hours, and the benefit to the company in reduced health costs if the employees don't smoke. Nonetheless, the concept strikes us as a major assault on an individual's freedom. After all, if the state will allow a company to deny a person employment because of a perfectly legal activity outside of work, where does it stop? Can a company refuse employment to gay men because their behavior makes them statistically more likely to acquire AIDS? Or those who like wine with dinner, because of an increased chance of alcoholism? Or coffee drinkers, because of assorted health risks? Indeed, is there any legal behavior that a company can prohibit their employees from engaging in?

REASON FOR CONCERN

We haven't seen this subject discussed in Latitude or any other cruising publication, but maybe you or your readers can offer some insight. When we get our bottom painted we always paint the thru-hulls. But bottom paint - especially the kind used in Mexico - is very toxic, and one of our thru-hulls is for the watermaker. We don't want to sound paranoid, but is this reason for concern?

Brent and Susan Lowe
Akauahelo
Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Brent & Susan - That's an excellent question we don't know the answer to. Maybe one of our readers could help. Personally speaking, we think it's just another good reason to only drink bottled water.

NIGHTVISION SCOPE

Jerry Swalling of Sheet Music raised a valid question about taking his nightvision scope over the border to Mexico. First off, the 'Export Restriction Notice' packaged with one popular brand of scope states that "export of this product without a licence is illegal." If a U.S. flag vessel carries the scope into foreign waters for its own navigational purposes, is that considered 'exportation'? Do the U.S. armed forces leave their nightvision behind before heading off of U.S. soil? I should think not.

I have personally seen IT&T scopes for sale in New Zealand, and other scopes reportedly utilizing U.S. technology for sale here in Australia. Are the Kiwis and Aussies subject to U.S. law if they carry the scopes into foreign waters?

Perhaps someone from the U.S. State Department would like to clarify this.

George Backhus
Moonshadow, Deerfoot 62
Sydney, Australia

George - Some of the new Cadillacs are equipped with 'night vision' windshields. Is it illegal to drive them across the border?

FORWARDING MESSAGES OR ADDRESSES

Could you please forward Ernie and Emily Mendez's email address or snail mail address? My father sold them the Cal 46-III Quiet Times that they used for their circumnavigation. In fact, it was my father Don Lewis who gave the boat her name - even though he was anything but quiet!

Back to this request. Upon their return to the States, they gave my dad the 'trawler lamp' that had been on the boat when they bought her, along with a beach towel I'd left on the boat. Anyway, I wanted to thank them for the gift and the returned towel.

I currently own a Catalina 36, Sweet Lorraine, and am happily living aboard at Ventura West Marina. If I can get my act together, we plan on cruising her to Mexico and beyond in a couple of years.

One more thing. If Mike Hayes of Soluna reads this, please shoot me a note. I haven't heard from you in years, but am wishing you well, my friend. I can be reached at djlsail@aol.com or david@donlewis.com.

David Lewis
Ventura

David - We don't have the authority - or the time - to provide addresses or forward mail. But you left your address, so perhaps they'll contact you.

VENTURA EXPERIENCE

In the
January issue of Latitude, Bill Chase, General Manager of Ventura West Marina, offered to supply ten business cards - via Latitude - that would be good for three nights' free stay at the marina. I contacted you folks and received one of the cards. Then in March, I was able to stay at Ventura West during our transit from Ensenada to San Francisco.

As we closed on Ventura from Catalina, we contacted the harbormaster's office about the availability of a guest berth. I explained that I'd gotten one of the business cards that entitled me to the free stay - but had misplaced it. The person taking my call said she didn't think that was a problem, but said that Chase was out at the time. I said an open slip was the most important thing at the moment, and we could deal with payment when we arrived. She gave me a slip number and directions, and said I should hail one of their tenants who monitored Channel 16 and would help us dock.

When we arrived at the slip, Bill Chase was there to help us tie up and more. He gave us a key to the dock, and directions to the restrooms, showers, laundry, lounge and office. When we asked about a restaurant, he said we would receive a 15% discount for showing our dock key at the restaurant at the adjoining hotel. We thanked him for his assistance, and went back on board to gather some fresh clothes and head for the showers. I have to say Ventura West Marina beats any marina or yacht club we visited along the coast for the number of heads, showers, sinks and so forth. There was nothing wrong with the laundry either, as it had more washers and dryers than the one we use back home.

Ventura West's lounge is located on the second floor, and Bill was there locking up the office for the day. He asked if we'd found a place to plug our laptop into a phone, and I told him that we hadn't yet had the chance. So he unlocked the door, and fired up the lights and computer so I could download the NOAA forecast. I really appreciated this as the next leg of our trip was around Point Conception to Morro Bay. After saying good night, we went over to the lounge, which includes a number of couches around a television set, exercise equipment, jigsaw puzzles, and a library for swapping both paperback and hardbound books.

I want to thank Bill Chase and his staff at Ventura West Marina for a very pleasant stay. If anyone has a problem with this marina or the management, they should look in the mirror to see the real problem.

By the way, even though I lost the business card that entitled me to a free three-night stay, they honored it anyway!

Bill Martinelli
Voyager, Catalina 470
San Mateo

RIGGING, EPIRBS AND WHINING

To answer Gary Turner's April question about the advisability of getting rigging replaced in Mexico, there is an excellent rigger in La Paz. Jeff and Alba of Dawn Rigging - alba is Spanish for dawn - helped me re-rig my boat last year while I was docked in Marina de La Paz. I can highly recommend their work. Since my rig is an Isomat, I brought all of the special end fittings, turnbuckles and so forth down with me from the U.S. last fall.

Jeff and I had considerable discussions about whether to use 302 or 316 stainless wire. Most riggers I talked to in the States recommended the more corrosion resistant - and more expensive - 316. Based on his experience, however, Jeff felt that the 302 wire works well and is 10% stronger than 316. You can go up one wire size with 316 to offset this, but then you'd be looking at considerably more expense that's entailed with larger turnbuckles and such. It's been a year now, and I notice some rust discoloration of the wire, but it is only on the surface. Some of it actually washed off with the first rain!

Jeff has a good supply of 302 wire in stock, and a new Loos mechanical swage. I think he can handle up to 3/8" wire. If somebody prefers to do the job themselves, I'd recommend taking the old rigging back to the States and have a rigging shop make up the new. Hydraulic swaging is considered superior to mechanical, although both are satisfactory if done properly. One area where I was really glad of Jeff's expertise was the forestay replacement. Getting the Harken furler extrusions apart took most of a day, and involved the use of a blowlamp and a mallet. It was not a simple job!

One word of warning: if the breeze comes up in the afternoon, Jeff and Alba will most likely disappear. It has something to do with the windsurfing at La Ventana - on the east side of the La Paz peninsula - being superb.

With regard to the Litton 406 EPIRBs, discussed in Paul Cossman's April letter, my model 952 needed a new battery. Litton quoted me $495 plus shipping, a cost that I considered outrageous. After checking on the Internet, I found Sartech, a U.K. company that services all kinds of EPIRBs and manufactures their own lithium batteries. Their price? Just $250 U.S. They even accepted my personal check for payment! They can be reached by email at info@sartech.co.uk.

On the subject of whining, isn't it time for the Wanderer to lay off castigating the 'whiners' of La Paz as fools or worse? I agree that we all should get our facts straight before sounding off, but I have to wonder what it is about 'inactive cruisers' that causes him to spew so much invective? Some cruisers like a place so much that they don't ever want to leave. Others simply slow down as they grow old and don't move about so much. Nor are the 'inactives' confined to La Paz. They are well represented in Puerto Escondido, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Perhaps as a result of 'whining', the arbitrary and unnecessary 'safety inspections' demanded by the La Paz Port Captain as a requirement for checking out died an unlamented death.

Meanwhile, I have a perfectly useless 'Safety Certificate' to remind me how many life jackets and fire extinguishers I have on board. Nobody in the Mexican cruising community is happy with the new port fees, which are scheduled to increase again this June, or the tedious checking in and checking out procedures now required at most ports. Since tourism is now Mexico's biggest industry, and cruisers are surely part of this trade, a number of us wrote to the Secretary of Tourism in Mexico City complaining about the excessive fees and unreasonable procedures now required. The following is a letter I sent to the Secretary, as I believe that politely worded complaints such as this are perfectly justified and hardly amount to whining.

Re: New Fees Being Charged Pleasure Craft Visiting Mexican Ports. I am a retired American who has enjoyed visiting the west coast ports of Mexico aboard my 38-foot (8-ton) sailboat. Unfortunately, the new fees being charged for the privilege of visiting these ports has caused me and my fellow sailors great concern and resentment to the extent that we are reconsidering our future plans to visit Mexico.

To check into a port we first have to go to Immigration, where our visas are inspected and our crew list is checked and stamped. We then go to the API and pay a port fee based on the tonnage of the vessel. Next, we are directed to the Port Captain's office to have our crew list inspected and stamped. From there, we are required to go to a Banamex and pay the new Port Captain fee based on tonnage. This fee ranges from 141 pesos to more than 200 pesos for most pleasure craft. We are then required to return to the Port Captain's office, with a receipt from the bank, to complete the check-in process. To check out, the same list of officials must be visited with yet another trip to the Banamex to pay yet another Port Captain's fee of 141 pesos, or more.

To compound the problem, there are now more ports and harbors with new Port Captain offices. By way of example, there are now three Port Captains in Banderas Bay, all within 20 kilometers of each other! To sail from Nuevo Vallarta for an overnight visit to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, a distance of 10 kilometers, it is now required that we check out of Nuevo Vallarta, check in at La Cruz, check out of La Cruz, and recheck in at Nuevo Vallarta - incurring fees of 564 pesos or more! In addition, at least one Port (San Blas, Nayarit) is requiring the use of an agent to check in and out, for an additional fee of 200 pesos! Needless to say, we will not be visiting San Blas. I submit that these charges, and the time it takes to complete these procedures, are totally unreasonable.

My friends and I love Mexico and look forward to our visits aboard our boats. However, rest assured that our visits will be curtailed or cancelled if this situation persists. Please do what you can to get these burdensome fees and requirements repealed.

Who knows, perhaps as a result of the Wanderer's 'whining', San Francisco's Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) will refrain from considering boats to be 'Bay fill', and actually become responsive to boaters' needs! I guess one person's valid complaint is another's 'whine'.

John Kelly
Hawkeye
Banderas Bay, Mexico

John - We think there's a world of difference between a 'valid complaint' and a 'whine' - or worse. The letter you wrote to the Secretary of Tourism is an perfect example of a valid complaint, as it clearly lays out the essence of the problem based on easily verifiable facts, explains the possible ramifications for both cruisers and Mexican tourism, and is respectful in tone.

Compare it to the nonsense sent out from La Paz last month by Ms. Bear and Shirly Middleton which - and we're not exaggerating - consisted of almost 100% factual errors and errors in basic reading comprehension, which were then used to support reckless allegations of wild profiteering, conspiracy, corruption and general malfeasance on the part of Mexico and Mexican officials. On behalf of ourselves and all the other cruisers who plan to visit La Paz in the future, we want to thank these folks for leaving such a 'clean wake'. We can assure you that nothing is going to stop us from continuing to castigate that kind of irresponsible rabble-rousing that gives cruisers such a bad name.

As for inactive cruisers or those who don't get around as much, we don't have any problem with them as long they don't play the Ugly American - which the majority of them don't. But perhaps you can answer this question for us: With so many big cruiser and ex-cruiser populations up and down the coast, why is it that virtually all the rubbish comes out of La Paz, and has for years? Could it have anything to do with the fact that La Paz is almost certainly the cruiser drinking capital of Mexico?

Yes, the La Paz Port Captain's short-lived 'safety inspections' were a pain. But as predicted by
Latitude, Mary Shroyer, and just about all the other 'old hands', it didn't last but a couple of months. Certainly not as long as those done by the U.S. Coast Guard, for which there is no end in sight.

NOT IN GERMANY

Some bluewater sailors here in Germany highly recommended your magazine, but unfortunately I cannot get copies here. Could you please inform me on how to subscribe to your journal?

Wolfram Buchwitz
Muenster, Germany

Wolfram - It's so time-consuming and expensive that we don't do foreign subscriptions. Sorry, but the only possible solution is if you know somebody here who would subscribe and then forward it to you.

OFFICIAL RELATIONS AND THE KIWI BOYCOTT

It sometimes takes a very long time for mail and Latitudes to catch up with me, so forgive me for raising an issue aired nearly a year ago: safety standards in other countries. A Canadian cruiser myself, I was the lawyer who wrote all the arguments presented to the New Zealand courts in the Kiwi Section 21 battle. For those who don't remember, this was all about the Kiwis passing a law that all foreign boats get safety inspections before leaving their country. It took three levels of court before we found a judge who knew anything about international law so, as you know, it was a long fight. But it was worth winning - which we did - because the risk was that every nation would set its own standards for foreign cruisers, and we would be hog-tied with all sorts of rules and inspections everywhere we go.

First, I must strongly endorse Latitude's attitude on how to deal with officials who sometimes go off the rails. When you wrote about the Port Captain in La Paz who decided to implement 'safety inspections', you made a wonderful case for the soft, polite, rational approach. It is surprising how often that works. Even when it doesn't, it's a necessary first step anyway. In fact, good manners and good humor should never be forgotten when in a foreign country - and probably not even in your own.

The reason we finally won in New Zealand is that international law is clear: it is the responsibility of the Flag State - in other words, the country the boat is from - to set and maintain standards for its vessels. In the case of commercial vessels, the Flag States usually opt into a set of internationally agreed standards which also allows foreign Port States to enforce those same standards. In the case of pleasure craft, there are no internationally agreed standards, so only the Flag State's laws can apply. That means that a U.S. pleasure craft anywhere in the world must be up to U.S. Coast Guard standards at all times. International law would back up U.S. law on that. Likewise for Canadian vessels, French, or whatever. They must always be up to scratch according to the laws of their own country, wherever they are.

If a Port State thinks a foreign vessel is not properly equipped, all it can legally do is to inform the Flag State, and ask the Flag State to act. The sole exception would be the case of a seriously unsafe vessel, where customary international law allows a Port State to detain the vessel - so long as it immediately informs the Flag State. The most famous case on Flag State supremacy comes from the U.S. Supreme Court back in 1953. It is still a glorious statement to read - truly! - and is effectively embodied into the Law of Sea Convention.

Back in the real world, most bureaucrats just bumble along doing what they think they should, and what they can get away with. The Port Captain in La Paz was just like the Kiwis in that he didn't want to believe that he has to listen to international law. The problem, of course, is who wants to go to court to make him listen? Which is why good humor, reasonableness, negotiation and patience usually win the day.

I disagree with you on only one matter. The boycott of New Zealand was surprisingly effective. Data from the New Zealand Customs showed a drop in yacht arrivals of about 35% from a norm of over 500 foreign boats per year. I suspect that part of the reason was a fear by sailors of getting a thrashing on the voyage to or from New Zealand after the famous 'Queen's Birthday Storm'. But the fact remains that over the next few years several hundred foreign cruising boats stayed away.

Early in the fight, I also collaborated with MAREX - the export organization for the New Zealand marine industry - in assessing the consequences of a boycott. MAREX'S view - which was accepted at face value by the Kiwi government's consultants - was that a 30% boycott would cost over NZ $20 million. Those same consultants then fudged a truly deceitful set of figures to argue that New Zealand would still be ahead because it would benefit financially by having fewer foreign deaths on the high seas! In hindsight, I think that the NZ $20 million figure was high, but it is fair to say that the country did lose millions. I have several friends who ran marine businesses in New Zealand at the time, and their incomes slumped very badly. You won't find any politicians who will admit that now, of course. That would be admitting they were wrong.

Would a boycott work elsewhere, such as Mexico? Frankly, I doubt it. It took a huge effort by dozens of very hard working yachties to make it happen. Yachties are normally too individualistic to collaborate like that. Besides, boycotts leave a bad taste in the mouth. They should be a very last resort.

Why does all this still matter? Well, neither bureaucrats nor safety issues will ever go away. If we want to keep well-intentioned but overzealous foreign officials off our backs, we had better pay attention to being and looking safe. Then they won't have any excuse to interfere. Ciao.

Michael Donnan
Kantala
Australia

Michael - What a clear and informative letter. Thanks.

WITHOUT HONOR IN THEIR OWN BACK YARD

I liked your excellent kudo to Edson International that appeared in Loose Lips several months back. I was born at 62 Plymouth St., New Bedford, Mass. Four doors up the road, at 70 Plymouth St., was the Edson family. If a stranger came to town back in those days and asked anyone what it was that the Edsons made, the answer would have been, "boat parts." Today, four generations later, if any of the stranger's progeny came to town and asked the same question, the answer would still be, "boat parts." So it's true, although the city might appear to be grudgingly proud of Edson, a prophet really is without honor in his own back yard.

P.S. If any of your faithful readers need those 'most-difficult-to-find' quarter-inch and up, 316, stainless, close-ended thimbles, guess who makes those 'boat parts'?

Bert Smith
American Eagle, 5.5 Meter
Cocoa Beach, Florida

IS THE HA-HA A FLOATING PARTY?

It was great seeing Profligate and crew at the Banderas Bay Regatta - along with so many other alumni from the 2000 Baja Ha-Ha. We've been here at the wonderful Paradise Village Marina ever since the end of the Ha-Ha. While talking with other cruisers here, I was surprised to hear some of them say that they had avoided the Ha-Ha fleet - and knocked the event as a 'floating party'. Pam and I want everyone to know these people who weren't there couldn't be more wrong.

My crew was very impressed with the behavior of the entire Ha-Ha fleet - at sea, at anchor, and partying on the beach. I never saw anyone out of control or misbehaving with the locals - including during the party at Squid Roe where, by community standards, it would be difficult to really get out of control. Everyone in the Ha-Ha seemed eager to meet and help the local people, and as you well know, Profligate even put on a spontaneous charity event in the middle of the Ha-Ha that raised nearly $500 for the poor kids above San Blas. We're also glad the Wanderer suggested bringing little treats for the kids of Turtle Bay for Halloween; it made our stop more fun for them and us.

Sometimes people see other folks having a good time and assume that such a party requires excessive alcohol. These people need to lighten up. When you are high on life - and/or accomplishing something such as a first long passage - you can have fun and be really happy responsibly. That's what the Ha-Ha is, responsible fun.

There are two primary reasons Pam and I want to thank the Poobah for hosting the 2000 Ha-Ha. First, our crew was constantly amazed at the Poobah's patience and accommodating attitude. His leadership left everyone feeling included and valued. We can't believe how much work the Profligate crew had to put in to make such a large event so successful. You guys don't get the credit you deserve.

Secondly, we want to thank you for what the Ha-Ha meant to us personally. Weeks before the Ha-Ha started, I received a very bad medical report, and most of my friends didn't want me to make the trip. Fortunately, we went ahead with our long-standing plans - and had the time of our lives! Sometimes a mortality crisis helps you prioritize what's really important. Suddenly I found that what I really relished were the little things: the boat sailing well, the green flash at sundown, the first fish caught under sail, the camaraderie of the fleet, the morning net, the whales and dolphins, and each sunrise. And the wonderful group party at Bahia Santa Maria will be a memory we will carry with us for the rest of our lives. We couldn't have had a better time. Your hard work made this possible for us, and we felt our souls being restored in a way that only being 'out there' can do.

Please accept Pam's and my deepest thanks - we look forward to participating again in 2001!

Kirby Coryell
Island Time, Tayana 48
Cyberspace

Kirby - We're saddened to hear about your medical report - but are glad to hear that you're apparently well enough to plan to do the 2001 Ha-Ha. We're looking forward to sailing south with you again!

We know that there are a few folks who haven't been in the Ha-Ha who mistakenly assume that it's a wild floating party. For at the end of each one, countless skippers and first mates have told us pretty much the same thing: 'We were worried what kind of event the Ha-Ha might be, and were ready to drop out as soon as we saw behavior we didn't like. But everybody was responsible, we had a great time, and we met such wonderful people!" If anybody wants to know what a Ha-Ha is really like, ask someone who has actually done one. Perhaps a family with kids.

By the way, Island Time certainly won't be the only 2000 Ha-Ha boat coming back for this fall's event. Among others who have told us they're planning to do it again this fall are Jan and Signe Twardowski of the Sundeer 64
Raven; Big John Folvig of the Perry/Andrews 72 Elysium; Bob and Bonnie Fraik of the SC 52 Impulse, and Rick and Maureen Gio of the Freya 39 Gypsy Warrior. And Profligate, of course, for the fifth time.

Speaking for the Wanderer, we think you've gone overboard with the compliments. Running the Ha-Ha is a tremendous amount of work and a lot of stress - but there are a couple of things that really help. First, there's nothing that gives us more genuine satisfaction than assisting folks in accomplishing one of their big goals while having a good time in the process. Secondly, the large crews on
Profligate have taken over many of the burdens of running the boat, which has allowed the Wanderer to get some much needed sleep - much more than any doublehanders get. Finally, getting the same questions asked over and over again doesn't really bother us, because we can clearly recall when we were asking them ourselves.

We're very proud of the Ha-Ha, the people who have sailed in it, and all the volunteers who have helped make it happen.

INSANITY? NO, IT'S MORE THAN THAT

I think I know why they call it the 'Ha-Ha'. I'm 52 and planning my 'next life' around cruising - something that I'd never heard of six months ago. My life has always been about seeking comfort, convenience and the latest labor-saving devices. Now I'm planning to quit the lucrative 'dream job' I landed last year, sell my prized possessions, retire without a nickel in the bank and years before my 401K kicks in, and wave bon voyage to my very busy life, friends and family.

Insanity? My 55-year-old boyfriend lives 1,500 miles away in San Diego. After his recent divorce, he sold his business, retired and spent all his money on a Westsail 42 - which is now his home. Previously, his spare time was taken up with frequent golf games. Now he's learning to chart a course instead of playing a course. He did sail a little on the bay when his kids were young, but he says he's forgotten a lot in the last 10 years.

Curious about his new lifestyle, last October I traveled to San Diego to see his floating thing. When we stepped below, he asked me if I would consider living aboard. "You've got to be crazy!" I responded. "This is like a cave. It has bright yellow countertops. Where are the washer and dryer? What an uncivilized way to live."

He countered by handing me a photo of a boat sailing off Tahiti, and asked if it would be different in a tropical paradise. "I might consider doing that," I hedged. Later that night as I was reading about the Ha-Ha and drinking a few margaritas, I innocently said, "This looks like fun." Not being one to turn down an adventure, a new goal was set - and then quickly amended. "As long as we're going that far," I said, "I might as well quit my job so we could continue on to Tahiti." He agreed to make the boat safe and I agreed to pay off my credit cards.

It's now April and I still haven't taken that trial 'ride' - but I'm doing pretty good paying off those credit cards. We've been meaning to take a test sail to Catalina, but first the head didn't work, then there was a fuel problem with the engine, and something else . . . but he's working on it.

But there is progress. I started a basic sailing class for women in Portland, began gulping down sailing literature and websites, discovered West Marine, and purchased foul weather gear. I was in a rigging class on Wednesday and learned how to tie a knot. We've been researching new sails - it seems as though there's a problem with them, too. My boyfriend seems to think we don't need refrigeration, that I can trail my six-pack in the cold sea behind the boat. He doesn't know it yet, but that's not an option.

After five months of debate, we have settled on a new name - who was Carol Ann, anyway? - and are planning an official de- and re-naming ceremony. I'm positive that my helping to choose a new name and participating in a proper rechristening will help me establish a bond with Rubicon - which appropriately means, "a boundary, that, once crossed, commits one to a given course of action." I like the meaning of the name. My boyfriend thinks it will sound good on the radio.

Having passed a refresher sailing course, my boyfriend has invested in electronics, automatic inflating life vests, an EPIRB, strobes, flares, a GPS and a nifty liferaft. As for me, I'm no longer a total land novice. Even my screen saver depicts a series of sailing vessels and tropical islands. I plan to get in at least one sail before October 30, but if not, that will not deter me from keeping my word and "crossing the Rubicon".

I have informed my family that by the end of October, we will no longer be able to have daily chats, and that I will no longer have money to buy gifts - or anything else for that matter. My Mom thinks I've flipped off the deep end, and sends me clippings of sea disasters. Of course, she can't swim and lives 3,000 miles from the water. "Call me collect," writes my son, "and I'll send you money to fly back and live with us."

"Ha-Ha," I tell him.

Linda Miller
Westsail 42, Rubicon
Portland

Linda - Bless your adventurous soul, but if you were to take off for Mexico without having a couple of rough water overnight sailing adventures under your belt, it would not only be the height of insanity, but irresponsibility, too. Forget the pretty sailing photos and boat-naming ceremonies for a minute, and take a double dose of realism. If the boat seems like an unpleasant cave at the dock, how are you going to feel about it in the middle of a black night when it's heeled over 20 degrees and pitching like crazy; when icy water is finding its way in everywhere and it's your turn to take the wheel; when the inside of the boat smells like diesel and barf; and when you can no longer track the ship heading for you because the radar crapped out just as the fog closed in? All those things probably won't happen at once, but they could. And it could even be worse.

When you get a Ha-Ha packet, there will be a multi-page liability waiver. There will also be a 'frequently asked questions' page, which reminds you no less than 13 times that the Ha-Ha is a high risk activity in which there is a greatly increased possibility that you'll be injured or killed. Read it, believe it, and discuss it with family members and loved ones before signing on the dotted line. The Baja Ha-Ha is fun - for folks who have prepared themselves and their boats, and who can appreciate the risks they're taking - but it's no joke.

CUBUF
WAS BANISHED TO THE DESERT

I'm a Rhode Island native, and was very happy to see Narragansett Bay mentioned twice in the April issue alone. It gave me quite a warm and fuzzy feeling!! My wife and I lived aboard an O'Day 25 one summer in a marina in Barrington, which is at the top of the bay. In fact, we raised our black lab onboard. He became a good sailor, always moving to the high side. After a hot summer, we decided our pup would be happier and more comfortable if he lived in the mountains and had a large cold lake to play in. So here we are in Tahoe. Sadly, we left our little sloop on the East Coast, and are without sails for a short time.

By the way, there is a sweet little old schooner named Cubuf up here doing daysails. I was told she used to sail the Bay, and had done well in some races before being banished to the desert in Nevada - before being brought back to life on Tahoe. Do you remember her?

Thanks for a great magazine! We look forward to it every month, and pick it up at Hot Gossip, a super little coffee shop here in South Lake Tahoe.

Greg and Lori Tupaj
(formerly) Mandala
South Lake Tahoe

Greg & Lori - Sure we remember Cubuf - if only from trying to figure out where she got her name. Why would anyone take her to the desert - if only for a short time?

ONWARD CHRISTIAN SAILING SOLDIERS

It's with interest that I read Glenys Taylor's February letter about the problems women have trying to get berths on cruising boats. As another single woman who is passionate about sailing, I understand some of the author's frustration at not being able to find an appropriate partner. Perhaps she might consider one option that's worked well for me: getting her own boat. If Glenys really wants to quit her job and go cruising, I think she should go for it! I personally am not ready to sail off around the world, at least not yet, so I've satisfied my desire to sail well and often by buying my own boats. I started with racing dinghies and moved on to a partnership in a Dragon class sloop. Although I'm currently boatless, I'm nonetheless blessed to have access and be able to skipper a fiberglass sloop.

Regarding Glenys' comment about guys wanting to cruise with much younger women, I like Latitude's facetious wave-of-the-wand solution. Oh, if it were only that easy! For the older men looking for teens in bikinis, that desire says a lot about their own lack of acceptance with the man in the mirror. If a guy isn't happy being 30 or 40 or 50, then he's not going to be happy with a similarly-aged person across the cockpit. But if a guy is comfortable with who he is - both inside and out - he'll likely be just as gracious with the gal in his life. It's about emotional maturity and healthy self-esteem rather than birthdays. On the flip side, I'm more interested in the depth of a man's heart and soul than the depth of his pocketbook. Besides, for me it all comes down to doing what you love to do - which in my case is sailing.

That said, I've found a solution that's working out pretty well for me, so I'd like to extend an invitation to similarly inclined Latitude readers to check it out. The solution is the sailing club that's part of Equally Yoked Sacramento - which has nothing to do with eggs! EY is a Christian singles club, and I'm currently the co-leader. There is also a Bay Area EY but, oddly enough, they don't have a sailing club. Anyway, we sail twice a month on San Francisco Bay, and always start and end with a prayer. There is no booze, and we have dinner after. It's always a great time.

I realize that the club isn't the solution for all single sailors, but diversity is one of the things that I love about sailing - and Latitude. Our group is into good clean fun on the water for God's glory. If romance happens to bloom, that's a bonus. In fact, our current co-leader/boatowner is becoming 'equally yoked' this month! Nonetheless, he has graciously allowed me to continue skippering his boat through the summer. If anyone out there is a Christian sailor and this sounds like a great time, they can email me at jjluvsjesus@hotmail.com.

P.S. Thanks for the great publication. We'll see you on the water.

Justine S.
Skipper, EY Sailing Club

Justine - Good luck to you and everyone who partakes of your organization. We hope you don't take offense to the title we put on your letter, as it wasn't meant in disrespect.

HAVING A HOBIE DAY

I thought I'd pass along a great 'Hobie minute'. I know that most Latitude readers are cruisers or racers, but I'm sure everyone will get a kick out of this. It was blowing 25 knots - which is howling down here in San Diego - so my partner and I decided that we'd take the Hobie out and tear it up! With the cat on the beach, we raised the main and attached the boom and blocks. When I turned around to grab my PFD, the boat capsized right there! Everyone on the beach - a total of three people in the terrible conditions - appropriately started laughing at me. I took it in stride, however. After flipping the boat back up, we pushed off the beach and really started tearing it up.

The wind was blowing from the east, so it was all downwind through Mission Bay, under the vehicle overpass, past the breakwater and into the ocean. The swells were cresting at just over 10 feet, breaking slightly at the top. The sound of the wind howling through the rigging reminded me of the times I sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge on the way to Land's End with my dad aboard his Moore 24 Fatuity - now owned and raced by Dave Hodges, who really tears it up in his own way. Anyway, there we were, about five miles off the coast of San Diego sailing over the big waves. We were cold as could be, but kept thinking about what a great story it was going to make for Latitude. We finished by turning around and screaming back to shore, the leeward hull buried in the swells. "You're doing 20 knots!" a guy yelled at us from a fishing boat.

Boy, was I happy! It sure beat being on a Catalina! I'm wishing everyone a Hobie day!

David Harrison
San Diego

David - Glad you had a great time. Two questions: Who was sailing with you, and what did you carry in terms of safety equipment in case you flipped? We're just curious. Incidentally, we know what you mean about it being cold in sunny San Diego. It was raining and cold as heck when we were down there on April 7 to take Profligate north to Newport Beach. It wasn't much better in Newport on April 8, as we got hailed on for about 15 minutes. Brrrrr!

PORTLAND TO THE BAY AREA

I'm planning on delivering my new-to-me boat from Portland down the coast to the Bay this spring - if the weather allows. But I need a pointer on where to find one type of information. As I learn about the ports between Portland and San Francisco Bay, I'm wondering what the typical distances are between them. Charlie's Charts has a table that lists a few of the distances between ports, but not many. So I guess I'll get out the charts and dividers, but I'm wondering where else I could get this kind of information.

Lyle Ryan
Albin 28 TE
Brickyard Cove, Pt. Richmond

Lyle - There must be something we're not understanding, because we can't imagine what could be simpler than measuring the distance on a nautical chart. True, you could accomplish the same thing with GPS, but it would take five times as long.

PRINT CLASSIFIEDS ONLINE IMMEDIATELY?

We all love the new 'Lectronic Latitude and can't wait to read it every day. To make it even better, would it be possible to add a small classified section for boats that come on sale that day? It would be terrific if people could call immediately after the boat has been put up for sale instead of waiting an entire month for the next issue of Latitude.

Mark Johnston
Northern California

Mark - Unfortunately, that's not possible. For one thing, we don't get most of the ads until right before the deadline of the print version. Secondly, who would pick up the bills? Lot of folks labor under the misconception that Latitude is some big company with very deep pockets. We're tiny.

We'll soon have a distant variation of what you're thinking about, however. After more than a year of publishing 'Lectronic Latitude and developing a daily readership in the thousands, we're going to start accepting two ads a day at an introductory rate of $50/day. For some businesses and events, this will be an excellent advertising vehicle. As time goes on, we expect to develop an additional 'boats for sale' section to appear on Fridays. We're not there yet, however, so please bear with us.

ROSEMARY SEAL

Sailor and friend Rosemary Seal of Sausalito passed away last month at the age of 83. Nearly 200 people - many of them from the San Francisco YC, the Sea Gals, the Marin Ski Club, and the Sausalito Women's Club - attended a memorial service in Sausalito. Members of the Tall Ships Society and the Hawaiian Chieftain weren't able to make it, but they sent a bouquet and their respects.

Among Rosemary's honors and achievements, she was the SFYC 1972 Yachtswoman of the Year, a longtime member of San Francisco YC, a 40-year member of the Sea Gals, sailed to Hawaii and made other offshore trips, raced in Denmark, volunteered with Tall Ships, taught swimming to youngsters at YMCA, was a volunteer at a food program for the homeless in Sausalito, and recently helped at the Marin Ski Club's work weekend at their club in the mountains. Rosemary was always smiling and happy to share stories of her sea adventures. The one-time fashion reporter and Sausalito meter maid made a marvellous contribution to humanity and will be missed by those lucky enough to have known her. Contributions in her memory are requested to go to the Red Cross or to homeless care and food.

Marlaina Pipal
Sonoma

Marlaina - We remember Rosemary Seal from a Big O charter from Antigua to Venezuela about 10 years ago. When she boarded the boat in English Harbor, she confessed that she wasn't 52 as she had claimed, but rather 72. "You wouldn't have let me come along if I'd told you my real age," she explained. At age 72, she nonetheless drove the heavy 71-foot ketch across the windy channels more skillfully than most of the crew half her age. When we got to Venezuela and hauled the boat out for long term storage, some of the delivery professionals started whining about wanting the boat put back in the water so they'd have a comfortable place to live for another couple of weeks. Part of their bogus argument was that it would be impossible for poor Rosemary - who was to be there another day or two - to make the long climb up the ladder. Just then a smiling Rosemary appeared at the top of the ladder, parcels in each hand, with a big grin on her face. "How's everybody doing?" she asked with a smile, shaming the younger sailors. May she rest in peace.

JOHN WESLEY, NOT CHESTER

In the last issue, I noticed that you're still trying to figure out how Harding Rock got its name. Ray Delrich, my husband, isn't sure, but he thinks that it's named after Chester Harding, the engineer who was in charge of dynamiting underwater rocks in the Bay. Ray says there's also a dredge named after this same man. In fact, he recently saw the dredge up near the Richmond Bridge working on the area where they're going to put in a new marina.

Alice Swinton
Northern California

Alice - Thanks to a reader who sent us an old Bob Dylan album, we now know how the now underwater rock not far from Alcatraz really got its name. Remember the lyrics to the song John Wesley Harding?

John Wesley Harding,
Was a friend to the poor,
He trave'led with a gun in ev'ry hand.
John Wesley Harding,
He dynamited big old rock,
So the gold rush ships they could dock -
Because John Wesley Harding
Was a friend of the shipping companies, too.

That "he trave'led with a gun in ev'ry hand" line was pure Dylan at his best.

As for this new marina being built near the Richmond Bridge, we don't know anybody else who has heard of such a thing. Are you sure it's happening?

HOWLING WINDS OF TOMALES BAY

I am writing on behalf of the governing board of the Marconi Cove YC, to address the Paul Dietrich's April Letters criticism of Dennis Olson's March article titled Too Much Fun (Almost) On Tomales Bay. The Marconi Cove YC is not a thrill-seeking bunch of Laser sailors, as one might have assumed from Dennis' article. Rather, it is a thrill-seeking bunch of sailors of many types of boats.

To the extent that Dietrich is critical of the decision to launch in the conditions described, he is, with all due respect, way off base. The decision whether to sail on any given day is the skipper's, to be made in consideration of the state of his vessel, his level of skill and the prevailing conditions. If recreational sailors - especially those of us who brave the often howling winds of Tomales Bay - were to forego launching merely because the conditions were challenging, we wouldn't do a whole lot of sailing.

Almost all of the sailing exploits reported on in the pages of Latitude entail varying degrees of risk that are willingly undertaken by the participants. Are they each to be criticized for this? Racers like Dietrich shove off every weekend in conditions that some would consider dangerous, and often require rescue. Singlehanding racers and cruisers pose obvious risks to themselves and others. Are not recreational sailors entitled to undertake these same sorts of challenges? As Supreme Court Justice Cardozo once wrote, "[t]he timorous may stay at home."

I don't know if Dietrich is familiar with Tomales Bay, but I know from many personal experiences that so long as one wears proper gear - wetsuit, booties, and flotation - a small-craft capsize inside the bay - as opposed to anywhere near the mouth - is not likely to be life-threatening, even during windy conditions. Tomales Bay is landlocked and not very wide, so one is never very far from land. Of course, Dietrich is correct to point out the ever-present risks of heart attack and being devoured by great white sharks - which everyone knows breed like bunnies in Tomales. But not all risk can be removed from sailing.

When this incident was reviewed by the Safety Committee of the yacht club - each member of which has, at one time or another, set sail on Tomales Bay on a day when he shouldn't have - the only criticism of Dennis was his failure to have a radio with him. Of course, those who sailed that day without adequately prepared boats, wetsuits, or flotation are properly subject to criticism, and if this were the sole thrust of Dietrich's letter, we would be fully supportive. But the proposition that an experienced sailor shouldn't ever launch his Laser in relatively protected waters under challenging conditions is one we just can't endorse as a standard of conduct.

Dietrich regrettably missed the essential point of Dennis' article - that the 'herd mentality' can overwhelm one's better judgment, leading to the undertaking of challenges that one would avoid if alone. This is an important lesson for all sailors, especially the youngsters Dietrich addresses. If only a few were able to absorb this notion by reading Dennis' candid, critical account of his experience, rather than learning it 'the hard way', then its publication was certainly worthwhile. Dennis did a difficult and admirable thing when he published a critical review of his own decision-making. This type of critical self-analysis is not likely to be fostered by 'piling on', as Dietrich risks doing.

We know Dennis to be a fit, highly-experienced, and able sailor, adept at handling a Laser in conditions in which others would wisely remain ashore. We commend his decisions to continue challenging himself, and to continue to evaluate critically his own decision making.

Michael Britt, O.D.
Commodore For Life
Marconi Cove YC

I'M FOR DEVELOPMENT IN MEXICO

Being a disabled boatowner on a very limited budget, I would welcome the additional development of marinas in Mexico. Let me explain. In the nine years since I started receiving disability, the cost of living adjustments have averaged about 3% per year. We all know that this in no way reflects the actual increase in the cost of living. This fact, combined with this state's restrictive policies about liveaboards, means that I'll very soon no longer be able to afford to live anywhere in California - or anywhere in the United States!

It's been my hope that I can move my boat to Mexico and live in some comfort on $1,000 a month - hopefully for the rest of my limited life expectancy. Further development in Mexico would help control pricing pressures in marinas - so please keep your opinions about Mexican marina development to yourself!

Eric Thompson
Procrastinator, Coronado 35
Cyberspace

Eric - Perhaps we didn't express ourselves as clearly as we could have, because you don't understand our position. We're against marinas on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, because it's foolish to build marinas in pristine areas where there clearly isn't a market for them. As for the Sea of Cortez, we're in favor of additional marina capacity in areas where there already are marinas, but we're against new Cabo-like developments being created in the name of cruisers.

We don't like to be the ones to break the news to you, but if you're looking for inexpensive marina space, you'll have better luck in the States than in Mexico. We checked on a couple of super special if-you-pay-for-six-months-in-advance off-season rates, and they still come in at about $8/foot a month when all the taxes and such are included. The very lowest rate we found was for the slips in Marina Mazatlan that don't have water or electricity - and they were still about $5/foot in the off season. Winter rates are substantially higher. Furthermore, you can be willing to pay $15/foot and still not be able to get a spot at the more popular marinas. Increasing the supply of berths by building additional marinas would certainly work against additional price increases, but we doubt that the current rates would drop. It's been our experience that Mexican marina owners hold the line on prices, even when their marinas were less than half full.

As we've noted many times in the past and in Latitude's First Timers Guide to Cruising Mexico - it is possible to cruise Mexico very inexpensively - meaning $500 person/month or even less. However, we carefully noted that this was predicated on avoiding marinas, restaurants and bars as though they were the plague. We don't know the nature of your disability, but if it requires that you stay in a marina, it might be difficult to pull it off with just $1,000 a month. If you're capable of living on the hook, marina development may work against your best interests, for many of the best free anchorages are also the best sites for marinas. La Cruz de Huantacaxtle, for instance, is the most popular free anchorage in Banderas Bay, and one of the most popular in all of Mexico. According to Mike Danielson at North Sails in Puerto Vallarta, there'll be a marina there in about three years. We can only hope there will still be room for anchor-outs.

HERE WE ARE!

In a recent 'Lectronic Latitude, you ran a picture of us cruising in Fiji and asked where we are now. That was more than two years ago. As our son RJ was becoming more mobile at the age of 10 months, we decided to pack up and move back to Alameda. We shipped the boat back from New Zealand, which turned out to be an excellent experience.

RJ is three, and we've been back long-er than the two years we were away. We've reentered the working world, and are navigating the highways instead of the high seas. We now have another son, Christopher Leo, who is almost 10 months old. Ah, Rodney now has his crew, and I'll be able to sip wine from the swim step - just like in the brochures!

We got caught up in the Northern California craziness and bought a house in Alameda. RJ's favorite room in the house is the 'Fiji room'. It's our connection back to our cruising days, and contains artifacts and reminders of our cruise. When we visit friends at their homes, RJ always asks, "Where's your Fiji room?"

We're hoping to resume cruising when the kids are able to swim. But next time we want to go in a big, fat catamaran. Meanwhile, you may see Azure racing on the Bay, or if we're brave, at Angel Island with the kids.

We sure miss the camaraderie of cruising: the friends, playing the guitar, exploring, diving, cooking, reading . . . connecting. We'll be back.

Jane, Rodney, RJ and Christopher Pimentel
Azure
Alameda

A DIFFERENT OPINION ON MEXICAN PAINT JOBS

I've read the glowing reports from cruisers who have gotten their boats painted in Mexico. In the most gentle way possible, I'd like to offer a different opinion of the quality of work done - particularly as I was on hand for three months to watch one such boat get painted. And I had a bottom job done at that same yard.

In most cases, the Mexican boatworkers are very hard workers - but are not always as skilled as one might hope, or the recipients of proper supervision. The paint job I observed was done using two-part automotive paint. When it was over, there were three major runs down one side that eventually had to be sanded out. In addition, they painted right over the CF numbers!

At one point we were interested in getting our boat painted, but the quote turned out to be double what a professional job in the States - with a guarantee - would have cost. We did get a bottom job, but our experience was not a happy one. The one week job took three weeks, which is somewhat the norm in Mexico. But the work was such that we'll have to have much of it redone the next time we haul. The owner meant well, but his crew and facilities weren't able to do a first-class job.

It is very difficult for me to write this, as the owner was honest and very hardworking. Nonetheless, I think everyone needs to do some research before blindly agreeing to having a paint job done in Mexico - or anywhere else. In all fairness, the yard that did our bottom job seemed capable of doing basic bottom jobs on smaller boats.

Name Withheld By Request
Mexico

NWBR - We think Mexico has a huge future as a place to get boat work done, as they are very hardworking. But it's not going to happen as quickly as it could until all the yards understand the importance of quality.

THE GULF

On pages 142-144 of your February 2000 issue, you ran an article about transiting both the Gulf of Tehuantepec and the Gulf of Papagayo. I'm in the process of planning this crossing, and I have been unsuccessful in trying to track down a copy of the article. Is it possible to have a copy emailed to my address? It would be very much appreciated as this information is not readily available.

Janis Preston
Cuisine

Janis - If you want a reprint or back issue, please send $7 to us at 15 Locust Ave., Mill Valley, CA 94941; Attn: back issues. Warning: we are very busy, so figure on at least three weeks.

DON'T ALWAYS HAVE YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT

A little more on the La Paz port fee situation from one with his receipts in his hand. Your April issue tirade against Ms. Bear - whom I don't know - and her "facts" contained an error on your part. The API in La Paz does - repeat, does - charge per ton (buta) for anchoring. My vessel is 28 gross tons - although the actual weight is 14 tons, but that's another issue - as calculated on my documentation papers. I anchored in La Paz on December 2000, and my API receipt shows five days at .40 - for a total of 56 pesos. There was also a 50 peso charge for being in the harbor. The total was 106 pesos (they didn't charge a tax).

We left and returned in January after a good trip up the Sea of Cortez - bashing most of the way - to find new port fees and an increase in the API fees. The second receipt shows a charge of .66 pesos for each of three days at 28 butas, totaling 60.98 pesos, and a harbor fee of 55 pesos for the 28 butas - a total of 115.98 pesos, as this time a 10% tax was added to each fee.

My conclusions: 1) Sometimes you folks don't get your facts correct - notwithstanding that the overall charge in this instance is small. 2) Sometimes you object too much to adverse observations on cruising in Mexico, and the lack of logic and/or organization in various officialdoms. Some of them really are pathetic! For billing purposes, Mexico is treating cruising boats as commercial vessels. Is it appropriate for individuals - even if they are visitors to that country - to object? Mexico is a democracy, so there should be nothing wrong with adverse comments. But you get unstrung.

I've noticed over the years that you can object to silly officialdom in San Francisco and San Diego - remember the Harbor Police? But then you turn around and condone similar attributes in Mexico. Perhaps you're trying to keep the dream alive? I suggest that you ease up and relax.

By the way, I love your rag, it's the best in the business!

Bill
Vite
Sacramento/Bellingham

Bill - Thanks for the kind words and advice. Nonetheless, if you're suggesting that we made a factual error when it comes to API fees in La Paz, we beg to disagree. The boat in Ms. Bear's theoretical example came in at under 20 tons. If you go by the API rate sheet, it's plain as day that boats measuring under 20 tons are charged a flat rate. Yes, boats of more than 20 tons are charged on a per ton basis. If the theoretical boat had measured in excess of 20 tons, we would have used the per ton rate. But it didn't, so we didn't.

Perhaps we did go on a bit of a "tirade" against Ms. Bear and Shirly Middleton, but we felt our response was appropriate given the degree of lunacy - what else can you call it? - of their accusations. Not only could they neither read a simple rate sheet or calculate at a middle school level, but they also demonstrated an astonishing lack of common sense. Would a $5,000 U.S. per year anchoring fee for a small boat strike you as a little high?

We don't object to negative observations about Mexican laws and practices. In fact, we've been writing about them for decades: the old requirement about boats having to leave Mexico every six months; about having to be 'attached' to a marina in order for the owner to fly back to the States; about each official interpreting the same law a different way; about the requirement to repeatedly have to check in with Port Captains and Immigration.

Are some of Mexico's laws and practices "pathetic"? Maybe. Maybe not. But we suggest that you double-check your cultural bias before you carelessly stray too far in that direction. Sometimes we Americans think that our logic and cultural perspectives are the only ones that have any validity - an arrogant view not shared by the rest of the world. In our opinion, there are lots of different ways of looking at things - including the status and implementation of laws and regulations. Certainly it's very different in Mexico than in the States, but ultimately it seems presumptuous to say the one not familiar to you is "pathetic".

You complain that recreational boats in Mexico are treated just like commercial boats. Of course they are, because Mexico doesn't recognize a distinction between the two! All vessels fall under the jurisdiction of SCT, which is the Department of Communications and Transportation. Folks like Terry Grossman, President of the Mexican Marina Owners Association, have been lobbying President Fox and the SCT to try to get them to realize that there should be a distinction between commercial and pleasure boats. Change comes slow to Mexico, but when Grossman recently suggested a flat annual cruising fee for recreational boats eliminating the need to check in with Port Captains, the honchos at the SCT reportedly said "hmmmmm" instead of "no".

We don't have anything against cruisers protesting in Mexico - given two provisos. First, that some American cruisers get it through their sometimes thick skulls they have no inherent right to cruise in Mexico. The Mexican government can terminate that privilege at any time for no reason. Second, that protesting cruisers have a responsibility to all other cruisers to get their facts straight - something that rarely seems to happen in La Paz - before tearing into Mexico and Mexican policies.

MORE ON LA PAZ

Thank you for your response to the letter from Shirly Middleton of El Mojo - who had most everything wrong about the API, the amount of port fees boatowners have to pay, and who has to pay them. Thank you also for your response to Bill Morris of Saltaire, who had derogatory things to say about Mexicans, "North American cruisers", and checking in. I thoroughly agree with your answers to both of them.

As Latitude pointed out, there are good and bad people everywhere, and I wouldn't want anyone to get the impression that their aren't plenty of folks in La Paz who enjoy life aboard and ashore without pain and paranoia. In fact, these good people are in the majority. Folks such as John Worth, Mike Guerin, Steve Graen, Reggie Brillant, Tim Means, Steve and Yvonne Cooker, Wally Burr, Bill and Barbara Steagall, Claire and Russ Russell, Marguerite Brosing, Pete and Judy Peterson, Linda and Mike Mills, Wiley and Carol Stagg, Don and Adele Crownover, Larry and Betty Harmon, Joyce and Herb Pfleger, Paul Hurley, Bob Wolf . . . the list goes on and on.

Other than a shady boating past, I think there are two things these folks seem to have in common. First, they have learned a little Spanish. For folks coming down to Mexico, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of learning at least a little bit of the language. Secondly, these folks have friends not just among boaters, but also in the La Paz community. It is the community which gives you strength.

As for those who always complain, I think many of them have never been part of a minority - at least a racial minority - and think they are being picked on. It may just be that for once they're not part of the majority, and not always getting their way.

In any event, thank you for your continuing interest on what goes on in La Paz.

P.S. We are going to use your charter section to find a boat to charter in the Gulf Islands for this August.

Mary Shroyer
Marina de La Paz
La Paz, B.C.S.

Readers - Mack and Mary Shroyer built Marina de La Paz nearly a quarter of a century ago, and as a result of operating it ever since, have deep ties in the community. So whenever wild rumors start emanating out of La Paz, the Shroyers are a good source for finding out if the rumors are based on fact or tequila, and if there might be another side of the story.

HOODWINKED OR NOT?

After two years of cruising our Cal 39 Joy Ride, last August we shipped her back from Baltimore. She eventually found her way to Marina Bay in Richmond. It wasn't long before Contra Costa County sent a questionnaire wanting to know her purchase price and other information. In my reply, I stated that she had been out of the United States during all of '99 and didn't return to California until August of 2000.

I recently received a "Notice of Proposed Escape Assessment", assigning a personal property value for assessment years 1999 and 2000. I paid 1998 taxes to Marin County, and was excused by them from paying the tax in 1999. So I called the Contra Costa County Office of the Assessor. I was told that the State of California had cited them for not collecting the personal property tax on boats registered or documented in California, regardless of where they were located - so long as the owner continued to be a resident of California. The result is that I'm about to get a bill for two years of past property taxes.

Have you heard similar stories from other counties, or am I being hoodwinked by Contra Costa County?

Jim Ballou
Joy Ride, Cal 39
Novato

Jim - For many years now, county tax assessors have disagreed over the interpretation of the personal property tax law. Some say the tax isn't due if the boat is out of the state for more than six months a year; others insist that it's still due if the boat has been out of the country for 10 years. We find the latter interpretation to be putting money in front of principle, but you know how much government needs your money. If someone's boat has been out of the country and they haven't paid tax on it for several years, we suggest they inquire about county policy before moving into a berth.

FOSSETT NEEDS A BIGGER STICK

While we were in Palm Beach this weekend shopping for a boat, we ran into Steve Fossett, who was lunching on the now trendy Clematis Ave. in West Palm Beach. When I asked him where his mega-cat PlayStation was, he told me at Spencer's. I said that I'd just been at the Rybovich-Spencer Boatyard and must have miss-ed her, as the only big mast I saw was on the maxi-mega-motorsailer Georgia - which also has a humon-gous in-boom furling system. Fossett kinda of looked down at the ground and said, "Yeah, I was kinda bummed to come into the yard and see we didn't have the tallest mast around." I guess he's not used to being second - even when he's not trying to set a new record or win a race.

Fossett also mentioned that after PlayStation got some work completed, they would try to break the Miami to New York record, then the TransAtlantic record a few weeks later. By the way, he's a super, friendly, down-to-earth guy.

Jay Kimmal
Still Shopping
San Francisco

Jay - Georgia, one of the less attractive boats we've seen, reportedly has the tallest mast in the world - at this time. Bigger ones are coming, even though they won't fit under the Bridge of the Americas in Panama.

Are you sure you were talking to Steve Fossett? That comment sure doesn't sound like something he'd say.

A short time later
PlayStation's crew was called to Miami for an assault on the record to New York. But when they got there, hairline cracks were discovered in the rigging, thus causing another frustrating delay.

BEFORE I COMMIT MY HULL

Before I commit my boat's steel hull to being painted with Devoe's Bar-Rust 235 paint, I'd like to know how it compares with traditional hot zinc coatings.

Mark Nave
San Jose

Mark - The number of steel boats in the sailing community is very small. You'll probably get more and better feedback from commercial operators.

VESSEL ASSIST

I'm a member of Vessel Assist, and have been paying my membership fees since March 2000. But our sailboat is berthed in Santa Cruz, and I'm very troubled by the fact that Vessel Assist does not seem to currently offer service here. And apparently hasn't for several months. Yet no mention of this was made when my renewal fees were solicited earlier this year, and I notice that additional members are still being solicited. When exactly was Vessel Assist going to let us know about their lack of services . . . when we were stranded in the middle of Monterey Bay?

To me it sounds like false advertising - if not fraud. When will there be service for Santa Cruz? Does it not seem fair that members who paid for the service but didn't get it should get a refund?

Don Conant
Palio
Los Gatos

Don - Dave Peck, Resource Acquisitions Director at Vessel Assist, tells us that they lost their Santa Cruz contractor in December, and didn't get a new one until mid-March. "We offered all our members the opportunity to freeze their memberships or get refunds until we restored the resource," says Peck. "Our new guy is doing a great job, having already handled about a dozen cases."

We asked Peck if this was a common problem nationwide. He said it was the first time it has ever happened to Vessel Assist.

SEA ANCHOR EXPERIENCE

Based on all the letters in the past, Latitude readers might be interested in our experience deploying a Para-Tec size 18, Cape Horn model, sea anchor.

My wife Joyce and I were 21 days out of Z-town aboard our home-built Atlantic 42 cat, having covered 2,791 miles with another 350 to go to Hilo, Hawaii. At that time, a combination of fatigue, equipment problems and rough weather made us decide to stop for awhile. It was blowing 28-35 winds from the northeast, and our autopilot couldn't hold a steady course when our boat surfed down the 15 foot seas at up to 17 knots. We were already double-reefed, but needed to put another reef in.

Then we got the bright idea of just parking for awhile to get some sleep. It would be the first time we ever tried the device. Our rode and bridle were as specified by Para-Tec, as I had them provide all of the line as well as the bridle - including toggles, shackles, thimbles and splicing. We deployed it and it worked as advertised. No problemo. We lay to the sea anchor for 20 hours - during which time the wind and seas abated, but only slightly - and got some much-needed rest.

It took us one hour to retrieve the sea anchor. We motored and winched up the slack rode until we reached the 60-foot buoyed trip line, then we hauled it in. It would have taken longer if we had tried to only winch the sea anchor back in without using the motors. It took us two more hours to repack the sea anchor and prepare for its next use. We just want to report that we followed the written instructions and it worked for us.

Michael and Joyce French
Mango Mi, Atlantic 42
Larkspur, Colorado

SANTA BARBARA HARBOR 'POLICE STATE'?

Things have changed in sunny and romantic Santa Barbara Harbor, as the Harbor Patrol has put out the call for money, guns and lawyers.

Money? Former Harbormaster Julie Hazard has been replaced by a dynamic new duo, but unlike Batman and Robin, these guys are fighting for more money and power. Given the harbor's massive budget, they obviously aren't splitting Hazard's former salary. As for fighting crime, they're going to computerize the marina gates to monitor every move you make, every breath you take, and every flush you create. Furthermore, they're planning to electronically limit access to your personal property, limiting non-liveaboards to three nightly visits to their boats a week!

The new 'Stalag Thirteen' gate system is not to fight crime, but rather to further cash flow. Santa Barbara Harbor has the gross national product - $7.8 million - of a small Caribbean nation. Unfortunately, the harbor's 'Costa Nosta' spent $8.5 million. So the new security system will be a financial and political spin under the guise of more money being needed for capital improvements. Transfer fees are expected to double, slip fees increased and, well, maybe pay toilets would help 'flush' the $800,000 deficit.

Send guns. The Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol has a small flotilla - four - gunboats. Actually, the boats are unarmed, but every harbor patrol officer packs 'heat'. They're better armed than most U.S. Navy Seal teams on shore leave. Thankfully, they've never fired a shot in anger - although they supposedly pistol-whipped a former inebriated commodore of the Santa Barbara YC, and an innocent, long-haired, bearded cruiser bound for the Marquesas. Therefore, a carbon fiber bulletproof vest should be standard issue for any cruisers transiting Santa Barbara. It will help 'make your day.'

Send lawyers, Santa Barbara Harbor officials have stated, "I don't care what the lawyers say, around the harbor it's what we say that counts!" Expect to be assumed guilty before you're proven innocent. Expect your boat to be impounded if you don't pay your fees by noon. And as Sheriff Buford T. Puser of Dukes of Hazard fame said, "Ya'll have a nice day, yah heah."

Capt. Bear Kramer
USNR-R
Santa Barbara

Capt. Bear - We're just starting to look into the situation, so at this point, we just have a few observations and questions.

First of all, shouldn't harbor administration and law enforcement be separate entities? We're not experts, but it seems to us that harbor administration could be far more effectively - and economically - carried out through lifeguard-like positions rather than law enforcement positions. Private yacht harbors don't have armed police, so why should public harbors need them? Does Santa Barbara not have a police and sheriff department that can be called on the rare occasions that force is required?

We suggest that you folks in Santa Barbara do a comparison between the costs in running that harbor and a similar number of berths in a private harbor. We suspect that you'll be bowled over by the difference in staffing, pay and other costs. Based on our experience, everyone - from taxpayers to mariners - usually wins when marinas and harbors are operated by private companies. We suggest you look into getting the government out of the marina business.

Finally, the concept of the harbor patrol being able to monitor your every entrance and movement in the marina is indeed creepy. It's not surprising, however, as everywhere we look there seem to be more little hints of fascist-like policy, both from all levels of government and some businesses. There's a way around close monitoring, of course, just dinghy between the dinghy dock and your boat in the slip, just as we do between our boat when she's anchored out and the dinghy dock.


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