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AROUND IN JUST TWO YEARS
It looks as though I finally have to step up to the plate. I'm writing to you from aboard the Swan 65, Coeur De Lion, which is temporarily based in Sausalito after completing a two-year circumnavigation. We began our voyage from Long Beach in '98, and completed it in April of 2000. Our first leg was a speedy 15-day trip from Long Beach to the Marquesas, my first nights at sea. We sailed through the rest of the South Pacific, and met up with real castaways on Suvarov Atoll. After crossing the Indian Ocean and heading up the Red Sea, we were arrested for 24 hours in Safaga, Egypt. During our trip, we buddy-boated with other circumnavigators in their 20s and 30s aboard such boats as First Light and Makulu II.
In June of '99, I took over as captain, having passed my Yachtmaster exams in Plymouth, England, during a quick shore leave in Turkey. I bumped up the other swab aboard, John Lemley of Boise, also a circumnavigator, to First Mate. John and I spent the summer of '99 cruising the Med and racing down waves toward Gibraltar at 17 knots.
Our Atlantic crossing was a luxurious 17 days with five aboard. I don't, however, recommend having just three crew on a 65-ft boat for the trip from Trinidad to San Francisco, but we proved it can be done.
This summer we are entering Coeur De Lion in the Aloha Class of the TransPac. After a stop in Seattle, we will be back in San Francisco for more great sailing in the fall. See you on the water!
Coeur De Lion, Swan 65
Derek - When you keep moving as fast
as you guys, we don't imagine your boat needs bottom paint. By
the way, we'd love to hear more details about your quick trip
You had a good photograph of the Balboa Ferry in a recent 'Lectronic Latitude that brought back some good memories. As a kid, I had a friend that lived five blocks from the ferry. While you were in line for the next ferry going from the peninsula to the island, there was a frozen banana stand that sold to the cars while they waited. As 11-year-olds, my friend and I peeled the bananas and prepped them for sale. That ferry had a lot of action around it at all times. I've seen sailboats hit it while crossing the channel. I've watched people dive off of it while crossing the channel. I've seen bicycles thrown from it in mid-channel.
One summer night around closing time, there was a guy in the ferry line that seemed to be sleeping at the wheel. People honked their horns to get him to move up in line. We didn't pay much attention, as people were always honking or yelling or something. Anyway, this guy was first in line for the next ferry that arrived. After the ferry had unloaded its vehicles coming from the island to the peninsula, it was his turn to drive aboard. He got a couple of honks from behind and acted sort of startled. It seemed like he knew what was going on, and started to drive his vehicle onto the ferry. The problem was, he didn't stop, but kept going like he was on a long street! He drove right off the other end of the ferry into the bay! It took about 30 seconds before the car disappeared, and he went under with it. But within seconds, he popped up and began swimming to a finger dock next to the ferry landing. A couple of people went to help him. I don't think intoxicated was a good term for his condition. He was totally plowed! Once ashore, he asked, "Where'd my car go?"
The ferry was shut down until the next morning, as they had to get a tow truck to pull his car out. That in itself was great to watch! Since the car was directly in front of the ferry, they couldn't move the ferry. The tow truck had to fish the car out while operating off of the ferry. That ferry provided more hours of entertainment than you can imagine.
P.S. Thanks for 'Lectronic Latitude. It keeps the withdrawals away when waiting for the next 'land' issue.
FILLING IN THE BLANKS ON TRIVIAL PURSUIT
We're at Niue, a small island between the Southern Cooks and Tonga, and just got the March - at least it's the 2001 issue - of Latitude. Within its pages, we twice noticed a request for info on a boat that sank between the Galapagos and the Marquesas. If you haven't gotten the details, here they are:
It was Friday, April 21, 2000, and there were seven of us - Aquila, Calypso, Flight of Time, Mustang, Nighthawk, Outlandish, and Poppy 1- playing Trivial Pursuit on the SSB at noontime. We swapped positions, and after the game, Flight of Time and Mustang decided that they were close enough to talk on the VHF. But as soon as Graham, aboard Flight of Time, turned on his VHF, he heard a mayday call from the Italian sailing vessel Eliseo.
Your story is correct in that Eliseo didn't have an SSB or an EPIRB, but they did have a liferaft. Flight of Time found Eliseo just after dark, and reported that the boat was riding high in the water and sailing under jib alone. Flight of Time decided to sail beside them during the night. The crew of Eliseo would spend the night on deck with their lifejackets on and liferaft ready. Mustang, which was 60 miles east of the other two, headed for the scene. We were already 160 miles downwind of them.
The next morning, one of the crew of Mustang took a dinghy on a line to Eliseo, and helped the couple off the boat. They weren't interested in saving any of their gear. They explained that their boat had grounded a year or two earlier, and repairs had been made to the internal keel. About halfway between the Galapagos and the Marquesas, the keel box started making noises, and they discovered that they were taking on water. When they looked closer as the boat rolled in the swells, they could see through the cracks on either side of the keel box!
Flight of Time took the couple from Eliseo to Hiva Oa. Mustang salvaged some of their gear, which was later sold in the Marquesas to buy the young Italian couple plane tickets home. We hope this fills in the blanks about the rescue of a sinking vessel by the Trivial Pursuit group! By the way, we all learned a lesson, as we now keep our VHFs on at all times.
Ken & Janet Slagle
Aquila, Santa Cruz 52
Niue, South Pacific
Ken & Janet - Great report, thank you.
HOW MUCH BEER I CAN DRINK?
I'm new to the sport of sailing, and currently live in Colorado. I'm going through the ASA classes now, and plan to sail my newly-acquired Hobie Cat a lot this summer. Here's my question. I hear that the Baja Race every year is a blast, and that a lot of people take on crew - experienced or otherwise - for the run. It sounds like a good way to learn a lot, get some racing experience, and see how much beer I can drink. I'm interested in this race along with any others with the same theme.
How do I get my name out there so I can become part of the tradition? I have a seven-month-old son, so this year is pretty much out of the question, but I'd like to get an idea for future years.
Tyson - We presume that you're referring
to the Baja Ha-Ha. As it's a 750-mile offshore trip, it's an inappropriate
event for anyone even remotely interested in discovering "how
much beer they can drink." Like a lot of folks, we enjoy
wine and cocktails in moderation, but drinking and offshore sailing
are a reckless combination. Furthermore, excessive drinking is
completely in conflict with the very essence of the Ha-Ha, which
is all about being as safe as possible and making friends with
fellow cruisers and locals. To put it bluntly, if you can't wait
until you get to Squid Roe in Cabo after the Ha-Ha to get a little
wild and crazy, you won't be welcome on the Ha-Ha.
SOLD MY BOAT THE FIRST WEEKEND
I'm a longtime reader and sailor in the Bay Area. Having bought a Catalina 30, I put my old Catalina up for sale in your May Classy Classifieds. The response was great, and I sold the boat the first weekend after the issue came out.
The interesting thing has been the number of calls - nearly 20 - I received from all over the greater Bay Area and as far south as Kern County. That means you have quite a readership.
Roger - We bust our butts to make the
magazine as readable as possible, so advertisers get the best
response possible. We're glad to hear it worked so well for you.
LOVING, FAITHFUL AND DIDN'T TALK BACK
I'm writing in response to Australian Michele Ray, who wrote a letter in the January issue asking why she shouldn't take a dog cruising with her. As far as I'm concerned, there isn't any reason that she shouldn't. Zeke, a friend's dog, recently joined me for a cruise from Annapolis to Maine and back - and was the perfect shipmate. Zeke - who I helped raise from a pup with a live-aboard neighbor - loved being underway on the boat, and quickly learned to sit down when powerboat wakes approached. Wherever we berthed she was instrumental in making friends - including with some very nice ladies. She loved the water and dinghy rides so much that she refused to use the pan I'd made, and just 'held it' until I dinghied her ashore. When we approached a harbor, she'd walk around the deck checking things out, and would then sit next to me to watch me anchor.
She was loving and faithful, and didn't talk back. She cruised with me for two and a half months, and I wish she was with me now. Take the dog, Michele!
Pat - Last month there was a Changes
from a couple who have been happily cruising Mexico for four years
aboard their 36-footer with two German Shepherds. Nonetheless,
if anyone is thinking about cruising to New Zealand or Australia
with a cat or dog, there is a lot of time and expense involved.
Is there a liveaboard association in the Bay Area similar to the one in Seattle? For those not familiar with the one in Seattle, they should visit www.liveaboards.org.
If there is no liveaboard association here, do you think that people would be interested in forming one to support liveaboards in the Bay Area?
Lastly, do you know if anyone has done legal research or filed a lawsuit against the government - Bay Conservation and Development Commission - regulation of liveaboards, as they have done against the Department of Natural Resources in Seattle?
Glenn - There is currently no regional liveaboard association in Northern California, and we think it would be very difficult to organize an effective one. First of all, there are roughly three distinct types of liveaboards: hardcore anchor-outs, who are very independent; liveaboards in marinas who use their boats as boats; and people in marinas who use their vessels solely as residences. The problem would be that these groups have fundamentally conflicting interests, which would make it hard to build a consensus. Second, we suspect that people who currently liveaboard are for the most part reasonably content. If they liveaboard legally, they've got little interest in creating a ruckus that might jeopardize their situation. If they're sneaking aboard, they really want to continue flying beneath the radar. Finally, it would be a battle between one little David - meaning the relatively small number of liveaboards - and 10 Goliaths - meaning the BCDC backed by the State Attorney General's Office, the State Lands Commission, the Coastal Commission, and every environmental group on the face of the earth.
The crux of the liveaboard battle is whether or not private residential use is a proper use of public trust lands. The general public, government, and environmentalist sentiment is against it except in very limited numbers under the guise of 'public safety'. A liveaboard association would have a nearly insurmountable task in reversing that opinion.
Anchor-out Doug Storms did take on the BCDC in court over the issue of whether or not boats were 'Bay fill', and therefore under the jurisdiction of the BCDC. And he won. But that was just round one. The BCDC appealed - and thanks to the nearly unlimited legal resources of the State Attorney General's Office, got the decision overturned. Storms is in the book in Sausalito if you want to hear all the gory details.
In our opinion, the liveaboard situation right now is probably about as good as it's ever going to get. That means a maximum of 10% legal liveaboards at marinas that have gotten permits from the BCDC, plus an undetermined number of 'sneakaboards'. As we've explained for years, the key to maintaining this 'as good as it's going to get' situation is that everyone who lives aboard to be absolutely scrupulous about water quality, and for 'sneakaboards' to maintain such a low profile that nobody can tell they liveaboard. Sorry, but this means no children, no pets, and no potted plants and other crap all over the place. It also helps to use your boat as a boat as frequently as possible. Harbormasters will still know you're living aboard, but if you cause them no problems, many will tend to look the other way.
It's essential that sneakaboards realize
that they are like the French Resistance in the sense that even
a minor slip up by one or two can spell disaster for scores of
others who are living aboard. Do not, for example, poop in a marina,
for this screws up the water quality, which brings the BCDC heat
down on the marina owner, who brings the heat down on all liveaboards.
It's as simple as that.
SIXTEEN YEARS WAITING FOR A SLIP
In 1983, I put my name on the waiting list for a 30-foot slip in the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor. I didn't own a boat at the time, and couldn't afford one. But I knew the Harbormaster, and he told me that if I was even thinking about owning a boat in the future, I should put my name on the list. I'm glad I did, because in 1999 - 16 years later - I found myself in a financial position where I could buy a used sailboat. The waiting period for a slip is now even longer. In fact, it's getting to the point where you will have to put your name on the waiting list at birth.
I'm now selling my boat so that I can buy a different one. But I have to limit my choices in new boats to those that will fit in my current slip. For if I wanted to get a bigger boat, I'd have to start on the list all over again.
I try to use my boat frequently, working on it one day a week and sailing one day a week during the summer. The harbor has a rule that you must take your boat out of the harbor 10 times a year, and that it must be seaworthy. When I'm down at the harbor, I always see the same people using their boats. There are other boats, however, that I never see being used, nor do I see evidence of their being used. In the case of these boats, I can see where the BCDC might view these 'floating reefs' as 'Bay fill'.
I understand how lives change and people get so busy that their boats become neglected. But I don't think it's fair to the people on the waiting list to have an unused boat occupying a slip. The person who buys my boat will have to find a slip in another harbor, or will have been on the Santa Cruz slip list for many years in order to keep her here.
Regarding liveaboards, I don't think it is fair to generalize and put them all in a class. I'm sure that there are bad liveaboards, but I can only speak about the few that I have known personally. The longtime resident who lives on the boat next to mine has saved my ass more than once. Just this last spring, he put temporary dock lines on my boat when storm surge caused mine to chafe through. He did the same thing for other boats on my dock, and is providing a valuable security service. The other liveaboards I know in Santa Cruz are a very sweet couple with a cat. They are environmentally sensitive and would never do anything to harm the harbor. By the way, they have to sublease because of the long waiting period.
I think that living aboard should qualify as using the boat, even if it does not go out of the harbor. I also think that every liveaboard should be dealt with as an individual, just like a person living in an apartment house. If someone is piling up garbage in their apartment, they can be asked to clean it up or move out. The same should be true of persons living on boats in marinas. Of course this assumes that there are adequate facilities to support living aboard.
Voluspa, Challenger 35
Neil - We appreciate hearing about your
experience and opinions. We have nothing against liveaboards -
as long as they frequently use their boats as boats. But if people
were able to use Santa Cruz Harbor as nothing but low-cost housing,
we suspect you'd still have a 20-year wait before you'd have gotten
a slip there.
IT WASN'T THE STEERING THAT WAS SQUEAKING
Three summers ago, I sailed from Ballena Bay, intending to spend the night at China Beach. When I passed Clipper Cove, I heard a persistent squeaking noise, but could not locate the source. By the time I approached Angel Island, the squeaking had become worse and increased in intensity. Fearing that something was going south in the steering system, I hove to. Under the cover of the barbecue, I found a bird's nest! Using a mirror, I discovered three squeaking yellow beaks.
I headed back to my berth in Ballena Bay, where two very angry birds awaited me. They immediately went to the nest. The young ones must have hatched as I was sailing between Yerba Buena and Angel Island. A few weeks later they left the nest and I could use the boat again. Now I regularly check for nest building activity. If I catch it before there are eggs, the nest goes.
THE SAME ENDEAVOUR
Last November a replica of Captain Cook's
Endeavour came to Kauai, where some of us became docents.
It was fascinating, and we all learned a lot about the ship and
Captain Cook. I wonder if the one you wrote about - sponsored
by The History Channel - is the same one or another reproduction?
The one I was aboard had been built in Australia and was an exact
reproduction. It is incredible that these ships got around so
well - and get around they surely did!
Lawai, Kauai, Hawaii
Jane - We didn't catch the History Channel
show, but suspect it's the same replica. By the way, if anyone
hasn't read about the voyages of discovery by Captain James Cook,
they really should. He was not only a great explorer, but a great
The author of the June letter Crazy Fees in Mexico mentioned something about anchoring at the Todos Santos Islands off Ensenada. Regardless of what any cruising guide might say, I believe these islands are hazardous to sailors and their boat's health. I spent five months in Ensenada in 1999, and tried to anchor at the islands several times. All of the good anchoring spots now have fishing traps and are not suitable for safe anchoring. The one time I did anchor and thought I was safe, I ended up in a crazy cross swell. It was either hit the rocks or leave, so I left.
Although we wanted to leave, we had a hard time getting the anchor up. I was about to abandon the anchor, and the only reason that I didn't was because I had three big guys aboard willing to give it one last tug. When they did, they pulled up a three-foot cubed cage made of concrete rebar hooked onto the anchor! Apparently this was a Todos Santos 'stealth lobster trap'.
The hazard to humans are the flies hanging out on the dozens of sea lions on the islands. One time we went too close to the sea lion colony and ended up with hundreds of flies onboard. We swatted flies for the next two hours! Anyway, I say beware of Todos Santos Islands!
Adia, Lagoon 37
San Francisco Bay
NORM ABRAHMS HE WAS NOT
The previous owner of my boat - a Baltic 37 - fancied himself a woodworker. Norm Abrahms he was not. Now I would like to check out the interior of an unscathed model of this fine yacht to take some pictures and measurements in the hope of one day restoring mine back to 'near original' condition. So if anyone else owns a Baltic 37 on the west coast, please consider having me aboard for an hour some morning to complete my research. I'll bring the coffee and bagels. I can be reached at salvador at goldstate.net. Thanks in advance for your help.
GETTING A SERIOUS BRUISING WHILE CRUISING
We - the Pordes family aboard the Vallejo-based La Coste 42 Favonius - arrived in Turtle Bay, Baja, on May 27 along with Tom on the Downeaster 32 Havru, on our way north doing the Baja Bash. Both Tom and we were visited by Ernesto, who supplies fuel from his panga. After taking our garbage in return for a cold Pacifico, Ernesto agreed to deliver fuel to us the next day. Ernesto is part of the same family as the late Gordo, whose children run the fuel concession in Turtle Bay as well as Restaurant Maria on the beach.
Most Baja cruisers are familiar with the Turtle Bay fuel drill. You give Ernesto the cash for the amount of fuel you want at the rate of about 50¢ U.S. a liter, and then he goes to the fuel pier and pumps fuel into 55-gallon drums. He then brings his panga - with plenty of fenders - alongside your boat and, using a fuel transfer pump and a hose, quickly fills your tanks and/or jerry cans. The other fueling option is to set a bow anchor and try to secure a stern line to the fuel pier. If you can accomplish this, the hose is lowered down and you take on fuel. It is a few cents cheaper per gallon this way, and if you are a 50-ft Hatteras sportfisher taking on 1,000 gallons of diesel, it is the only way to go.
While we were in Turtle Bay, the Shannon 50 Heartstrings from Newport Beach arrived, and declined Ernesto's fuel delivery services. They decided they'd rather take on fuel directly from the pier. It was blowing about 15 knots from the northwest at the time, and Mike, the skipper, had a difficult time getting his stern around. Ian, a crewmember, tried to toss a line to the pier, but it rose up and got caught in the rapidly spinning Fourwinds wind generator on the back of the boat. As a result, one of the blades flew off and hit Ian in the face, slicing up his face. In fact, he had to be Med-Evac'd out to Santa Ana. At last word, Ian was doing fine and was about to undergo surgery to repair the long laceration.
After the medical ordeal was handled, Heartstrings once again tried to come to the fuel pier. This time they needed an assist from Ernesto's powerful panga to get the stern around and a line to the pier.
Anyway, Ian survived, and hopefully a plastic surgeon will be able to sew him up so the scar doesn't show too badly. The moral is, I suppose, don't be cheap about a few cents per gallon, and take on fuel the easiest way possible. And if you're going to be heaving a line, turn off the wind generator!
The Pordes Family
Favonius, La Coste 42
GETTING FUEL IN TURTLE BAY
Based only on what the Pordes family saw in Turtle Bay, their reaction (the Pordes letter originally ran in 'Lectronic Latitude - Ed.) was reasonable. But I also understand why the skipper of the Shannon 50 may have preferred to take on fuel directly from the pier.
I used Ernesto's service both going down the coast of Baja and coming back up this year, and have to report that it doesn't always work as smoothly as it did for the Pordes family. Ernesto has what I believe is a severe drinking problem, which can cause a lot of frustration when dealing with him. And the surcharge for his services - at least in our case - amounted to almost 75 cents U.S. a gallon. That could add up to a considerable amount for cruisers on a budget.
Furthermore, the 75 cents/gallon surcharge did not include the 20 gallons that he charged me for - but did not deliver! I have very accurate sight gauges on my tanks, and know exactly how much fuel it takes to fill them. Plus, drunk or sober, you cannot put 75 gallons in a 55-gallon drum.
There were other problems. On our way north, Ernesto's transfer pump was broken, so I had to loan him ours so that he could deliver fuel to our boat among others. Ernesto damaged the threads on the new pump while screwing in his nipple. He was also supposed to arrange ground transportation so I could get a propane tank refilled, but despite our waiting on the beach for several hours, he never returned. We finally got a ride from an abalone diver.
While on short acquaintance, I agree that Ernesto can be a charming rascal. But I also understand why cruisers might prefer to bypass him for reasons other than to save a few pennies. Furthermore, up until a few years ago, all boats taking on fuel at Turtle Bay had to back up to the pier. Sometimes it's more difficult than others, but many boats have done it safely over the years.
As far as the man getting his heaving line caught in his wind generator, how many of us look up that far when heaving a line? I have a weighted monkey fist on my heaving line, which would avoid that problem, but I doubt if very many boats do. So, the only mistake I can see is that if the skipper of the Shannon had time, he might have waited for the wind or tide to change.
Orient Star, Cheoy Lee 50
Back in Long Beach Marina
Regulating lifestyles and requiring others to fall in line with your personal concept of the proper sailing life doesn't make a bit of sense. I would prefer that slips be rented only to individuals that are 60 years of age or older. People should be able to rent a slip, pay their fees, and enjoy life.
In general, marinas are not as nice as they should be, and it seems as if everybody wants to be noticed. Yelling, loud music, boisterous laughter, cluttered docks, trashed restrooms, destroyed marina property and general obnoxious behavior are all good ways for liveaboards to be noticed. Bad manners and lack of respect for others can come from either the raft with the blue tarp that never goes out, or the mega-yacht that goes out every weekend.
The laws regarding the pumping of waste overboard are necessary and should be strictly enforced. Water pollution really doesn't relate to the use of quotas for liveaboards. Most people that are familiar with small boats prefer the marina's restrooms to the marine head.
I suspect the increased shortage of slips will result in even more creative ideas to limit slip rental to the 'right' people. Be careful what you wish for.
Marvin A. Strand
Marvin - What we wish for is not a "right kind of person," but rather the maximum water access for as many people as possible. Certainly it would be nice if everyone could - as you suggest - rent a slip, pay their fees, and enjoy life. The question is how to decide who gets slips if there aren't enough to go around. We don't think there are any easy answers, but our suggestion is that priority should generally be given to those who use their boats the most. Why? Because it would provide the greatest number of people with access to the water.
You say that preference should be given to folks over 60 years of age. Fair enough. But we're not clear on your reasoning. Because seniors are less obnoxious? Because they have better manners? Those are reasons, of course, but we're not sure how persuasive they would be to people under 60 years of age.
We agree that laws against pumping waste
overboard should be strictly enforced, and that just because someone
lives aboard doesn't mean he/she pollutes anymore than someone
who only visits their boat once a year. There is not necessarily
a connection between living aboard and polluting.
THE SCHOONER LORD JIM
A friend of mine brought your March issue to me down here in Grenada, and as I read Loose Lips, I came across a circumstantial mention of the fine schooner Lord Jim. If this is the same vessel I'm thinking of, I would be very interested in finding a way of getting in touch with the current owners.
You see, it was my father, Dennis Warner, who purchased the boat from the venerable Jol Byerly in Antigua, and owned the boat for nearly a decade. Lord Jim remained close to our hearts, and we were distressed to hear that she was apparently later seized in New Zealand, apparently for smuggling. My brother traveled to New Zealand a couple of years later, and recalls seeing the schooner chained to a mooring in an advanced stage of neglect. After that, we heard very little. During a visit to Jol in English Harbor with my old boat, he told me that Lord Jim had "disappeared" from the mooring and that other news was unavailable. This would have been in '99.
Funny how the mention of Lord Jim appeared in an article about thongs and scantly clothing, and that provided the link to Jol Byerly and the bevy of beauties that competed on Ebb Tide, the boat Jol owned after Lord Jim. In any event, I fondly remember the time in late '72 when Playboy magazine chartered Lord Jim from my dad as well as another boat to shoot the photos. The spread would feature Miss April 1973. This young lady was one of the few women who was as lovely as Mrs. Byerly and the rest of Jol's Ebb Tide crew. The shoot appeared in the April 1973 issue of Playboy, and behind all the skin there actually are a couple of good shots of the boat.
In any event, any information about the boat would certainly be appreciated.
St. Georges, Grenada
Thomas - The
Lord Jim we referred to is the same beautiful schooner that
your father and Jol owned. As for the stories about what the boat
was doing in New Zealand and under what circumstances she left
that country, we can't help you. But we do know that you can't
believe all sea stories that wash around. In any event, Lord
Jim is expected back in her old homeport of Sausalito soon.
PHOTOS FOR FREE?
Thanks for publishing the photo of our '96 Hunter Passage 42 Dakota on page 148 of the June issue. In September of 2000, Dorothy and I purchased the boat in Dana Point, and brought her up the coast a week later. We live aboard - legally - at Marina Bay Yacht Harbor in Richmond.
Unfortunately, Dorothy wasn't aboard when the photo was taken, so she doesn't have 100% bragging rights. That's me on the bow, my son Carl grinding on the winch, and my good friend Jim Jardine at the helm.
I'm not only writing to thank you, but also because people have told us that you might be able to be persuaded to mail us a color print of the photo. If that is true, please let us know what we need to do.
Ed & Dorothy Johnson
Dakota, Hunter Passage 42
Ed & Dorothy - We wish we could give
away color prints, but we have to pay our employees, have a print
made, and cover all the postage and handling. As a result, we
have to sell the photos - which we try to do for less than anyone
else. For details on how to buy a print, email Annie.
I just read the letter from Mark Nave, who inquired about owners of steel boats having any experience with Bar-Rust 235 manufactured by Devoe. I have a Lidgard-designed steel boat that was built in New Zealand in 1983, and I have purposely not repainted the inside of the hull - steel hulls tend to rust from the inside out - so that anyone can see what good condition it's in. The inside of my boat is painted with Devoe 235. In fact, my boat was done entirely with Devoe Paints, and I can tell you that they are the best! If Mark wants more information, he can email me at: canaltransit at pobox.com.
By the way, I'm seeing a great many more metal boats out cruising these days. Friends that have seen a good steel boat tend to try to find one. I liked mine so much I bought it twice!
DEVOE IS DE-WAY
In the May issue, Mark Nave inquired about the relative merits of painting a steel boat as opposed to zinc coating it. The short answer is that hot zinc was the way to go some two or three decades ago. This was because the paints of the day were inadequate and the zinc coat helped ameliorate their shortcomings. Today, however, two-part epoxy paints - such as those made by Devoe - applied immediately after and over a surface sandblasted to gray, in strict accordance with the maker's instructions, will confer a satisfactory underwater protection to a steel hull. It's not perfect, but it's as good as anyone is going to get.
If hot zinc is applied as a base coat, and if the seawater permeates the overlaid paint coating and reaches the zinc, there is a very real possibility of 'gassing'. This will cause blisters that lift the paint off the zinc surface. I know this, because it happened to me. Being a true believer in zinc spray, I zinccoated the underbody of my Al Mason-designed 65-ft steel schooner Quest II, then overlaid the zinc with a twopart epoxy - despite International Paint Company's warning that gassing could occur. It did, so I had to resandblast the hull and re-coat it with a two-part epoxy. That finish has endured for the last 10 years.
In summary, an enormous improvement in appearance and stable coating longevity can be achieved by sandblasting and zinc spraying everything above the waterline that is exposed to the sea atmosphere. Everything below the waterline is best protected by sandblasttogray, and immediately following this up by any one of the special twopart epoxy paints in accordance with the maker's instructions. For Mark's information, I use Devoe products on Quest II, and have found them to be excellent.
I'd also like to comment on Michael and Joyce French's May letter concerning their ParaTech Sea Anchor. We carry the largest model Para-Tech on our boat, and deployed it in the South Pacific when we encountered unseasonably persistent headwinds and seas while enroute from Chile to New Zealand. Our schooner rode very comfortably to the heavy seas, and thanks to the Para-Tech Sea Anchor, we lost little ground in the three days we rode to it.
The recovery process, however, was difficult and resulted in some damage to the chute fabric. And notwithstanding that Quest II has a wide, uncluttered foredeck, sorting out the tangle of shrouds and repacking the chute for future service onboard was next to impossible. As a result, two ideas for improvement of the product came to mind.
As best I could perceive it, the problem is that at the end of our 600 feet of 3/4-inch, 3-strand nylon, and the overthecounter swivel that connected it to the shrouds, the shrouds responded to the inevitable wind-up and windout produced by the 3-strand nylon line, resulting in a true Gordian Knot when the mess was finally landed on deck. When the chute was returned to the maker for fabric repairs, my solution was to have the shrouds separated into four clusters, with each cluster terminating in a stainless steel ring. Thus when untangling the chute after use, the four groups can be separated and individually untangled. And when the chute is being deployed, the four rings are attached by shackles to the four lugs on a stainless steel swivel that I fabricated specially for this purpose. The swivel is watertight and pressure packed with grease. It houses a taper roller bearing and a plain bearing to minimize chute shroud attachment point rotation - spiraling up - when the tether line of 3/4-nylon becomes tensioned and detensioned by the waves.
The new and improved - I hope - system has yet to be tried in serious circumstances, but I am confident that if shroud wind-up is largely prevented by the virtually frictionfree custom swivel, and the shrouds can be easily isolated and individually untangled, the task of recovery and onboard preparation for its next use should be doable.
By the way, when in New Zealand, we noted that several deep sea fish processors had the very same - but larger and heavier - Para-Tech chutes on their foredecks. The Para-Tech concept is therefore clearly a satisfactory answer to heaving-to in open ocean.
Quest II, Mason 65 Schooner
WHERE TO FIND CUBUF
Your May issue had a letter about a schooner named Cubuf doing daysails on Lake Tahoe, and you were wondering where such an unusual name came from.
I read the letter just before meeting Carole 'Cuppy' Chiantelli at a friend's apartment while watching the Master Mariners Regatta. Carole mentioned that Joe Rosenberg, her uncle, used to take her sailing on the Bay aboard his schooner Cubuf during the early '50s. Furthermore, that her uncle had named the schooner after her nickname 'Cuppy', and her brother's nickname 'Buff'.
It sure sounds like the same schooner, although we still don't know how she ended up in the desert. Do you happen to know where she is berthed? Cuppy would love to see her again.
After selling Cubuf, her uncle bought Lanacoa and later raced her to a second place finish in the TransPac for the Golden Gate YC.
Bernard J. Barden
S.F. Maritime NHP Docent
AS OPPOSED TO PARTIALLY LOST?
I often read about some boats referred to as 'fully found'. Would the opposite be 'partially lost'? I don't know what 'fully found' means. Perhaps other readers would also be interested in the true definition of the term. In any event, I suspect my mid-'60s Cal 25 would not be considered 'fully found'. Thanks for the great magazine.
Pat - We don't know the exact definition
of the term 'fully found', but we've always understood it to mean
that a boat is fully equipped as opposed to being 'bare bones'
or 'unfinished'. If that were indeed the case, there is nothing
to prevent a mid-'60s Cal 25 from being fully found.
JOSH SLOKUM'S RESTAURANT
I recently had the pleasure to dine at Josh Slokum's restaurant in Newport Beach. For years prior, the closest I came was having early morning coffee and donuts during Minney's annual swap meet. While inside the restaurant, I admired the old nautical photographs that lined the way to the men's room.
Now, 10 years later, all that has changed. When Patsy, a Newport local, asked me where we should dine, I immediately thought of Slokum's. When we arrived at 8 p.m., there was a line forming at the entrance and the parking lot was overflowing with BMWs. A rather large Samoan guarded the entrance to check our ID. Once inside the maitre d' asked, "Do you have a reservation?" I explained to her that their phone message stated they did not take reservations. "Oh yeah," she said, "that's right, follow me." This was the first of the many odd incidents which were to follow.
I expected to still find a nautical atmosphere, but instead found dark brown crushed velvet drapes hung from each opening, three-foot silver candelabras on every table, and thickwicked candles glowing like 60-watt light bulbs. Instead of chairs, there were leopard-skinned sofas. One of the waiters sported spiked bleachedblond hair, and wore steeltipped snakeskin boots. Low volume hip-hop music came through the fabricated walls from hidden speakers. The color for the help was black, which made the restaurant's ambiance more like a mixture of something from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, a bordello and a funeral home. Try to picture that. The menu offered typical food found in any waterfront restaurant, nothing more. The prices were in small print and rounded off. After we ordered, I watched as flames from a nearby candelabra flickered up toward the peagreen silk ceiling cover, casting eerie shadows.
Before dinner arrived, I explained to Patsy that Josh Slokum is believed to have been the first singlehanded sailor to circumnavigate. I also told her about his most wonderful book, Sailing Around the World Alone. Just then the maitre d' came to our table to ask if everything was all right. I answered, "Yes, but my how this place had changed since I was here last."
"That's because we have a new owner who bought it four months ago," she explained.
I told her how I'd always wanted to eat there because of Josh's legend as a sailor. "What did he do?" she asked. She worked there and didn't know? When I explained he'd been the first to singlehand around the world, she thought for a moment and then said, "I thought Christopher Columbus was the first." She smiled and left us holding back our laughter.
We decided to ask some of the other restaurant help the same question, and here's what they told us about Josh Slokum.
"I think he was the previous owner."
"There is a chain of these restaurants; there's another in Bishop."
"It is a drink we are famous for."
One waitress did know who Josh Slokum was. She also knew that he'd gone missing on a second attempt. She said she knew the answer because a patron had explained it the week before.
While waiting for our valet to find our car, we observed the long line forming to enter. Most everyone wore black. A man at the front of the line could be heard arguing with the Samoan bouncer, "It's absurd to charge us $20 just to have dinner. We're leaving." As they walked by, I stopped them to ask if it was true they were asking $20 just to have dinner. "Yes, he answered, "but I won't pay it. Just because Dennis Rodman is one of the owners does not give them the mistaken belief they can overcharge their customers."
Dennis Rodman is one of the owners of Joshua Slokum? That explained a lot of things. After doing some investigating, I was told the same menu was being offered and prepared by the same chefs who were previously part of the original Josh Slokums. The dinner was indeed wonderful, but a little pricey. The atmosphere I will leave for others to judge. I'd recommend Josh Slokum's, but suggest that folks go there early, bring a flashlight, dress in black - and don't forget the fire extinguisher from your boat.
Ann Marie, Morgan Out-Island 28
San Carlos, Mexico
Jim - We're not sure if you spelled Slokum with a 'k' to indicate the faux nature of the restaurant's name, but the correct spelling is Slocum with a 'c'.
For what it's worth, part one. It's not uncommon for restaurants in France to charge more for those who dine late, so we guess 'The Worm' can do it in Newport Beach. Besides, it fills a need, as so many folks today are eager for the chance to pay celebrities - even dubious ones - just to take their money.
For what it's worth, part two. Ernie Minney's mother leased the restaurant to Rodman and others, and may have even been a partner in the venture. She died - we're not making this up - a short time later. We're not sure if the arrangement killed her, but it might have. May she rest in peace.
For those looking for good seafood in
Newport Beach, we recommend the Bluewater Grill. We've eaten there
several times this year, and each time found the seafood to be
fresh and delicious. You can also get there by dinghy.
TRICKLE DOWN ECONOMICS
I read with interest your May Loose Lips item about Nike shoes washing ashore along the west coast. I've been backpacking the central Oregon coast for 20 years, and have found some interesting flotsam and jetsam. For example, about 10 years ago, we came across some of the Nike shoes you wrote about in the article. The local beachcombers cashed in on this true example of trickle down economics, for all up and down Highway 101, just about every house had a Nike yard sale going on. Over the years, we've also found large quantities of new paint brushes, plastic hard hats, and hockey equipment. Three weeks ago we began to find the Nike cross trainers shoes that you mentioned. The North Pacific is a nasty place to be most of the year, and even more so with all of those loose containers bobbing around out there.
Incidently, you would never know it was illegal to dump plastic into our oceans, for the amount of trash at the high tide line is sometimes staggering. I know that some of this can be attributed to the currents that concentrate everything in the North Pacific and then sweep it down the Oregon, Washington and California coasts, but one walk along this stretch of wilderness coastline would make most people think twice about tossing even the least little thing over the side. Plastic food packaging of all kinds, liquor bottles from all around the Pacific rim, and flipflops of every size and color make quite a disgusting mess.
I'd also like to add my two-cents worth on the issue of visitors complaining about laws in foreign countries. I've been lucky enough to have traveled extensively in foreign lands. The most alluring aspect of this type of travel is the opportunity to experience differences in people, scenery, customs, culture, language, food, art. . . you name it. Why is it that some visitors - and it's often, but not always, Americans - seem to think that they own the place? And that everything and everyone should change to suit them? If visitors don't like the way some people run their countries, I suggest they move on or stay home.
A lot of people around this world think Americans are selfcentered, spoiled, and shortsighted. We can help change this opinion quite easily by respecting other people for who they are, learning what we can about their values and culture, learning and speaking some of their language, putting a smile on our faces, and by accepting the fact that things aren't always going to go our way. There aren't many places worth visiting where you can get a free lunch anymore. Maybe there never were. We should be happy to pay for the privilege of visiting other countries, tolerant of the minor hassles, and accepting of the things we can't control. If you're not, pull anchor and set sail!
I've always wanted to tell you this. I look forward with great anticipation to reading your magazine every month. Nowhere else do I find so much pertinent and useful information on cruising and world travel. The glossy magazines just seem to cover the same ground over and over again, recycling their articles like clockwork about every other year. One more thing. I'm tied up in a slip just downstream from the Wanderer's old Freya 39 Contrary to Ordinary. She's still looking good and is for sale. Small world!
Terra Nova, Tayana 37 Ketch
Ralph - Thanks for the kind words and great advice. We agree that sometimes cruisers need to be reminded that they sailed to Mexico, which is an independent country, not New Mexico, which is one of the 50 United States. Big difference in many ways. As for Contrary to Ordinary, she's built like a brick poophouse and was a great boat during our four trips to Mexico.
When it comes to debris on the sea, our
favorite has always been the huge cylindrical section of a rocket
that some cruisers came upon in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
They contacted the U.S. Air Force, which absolutely denied that
any part of one of their rockets could be floating in the middle
of the Pacific. It wasn't a very effective denial, not after we
published photos of the cruisers standing on a huge cylinder with
'U.S. Air Force' written on it in giant letters.
DID PIVER EVER SINGLEHAND THE ATLANTIC?
I just finished reading Sailing Into Solitude by Val Howells, which, among other things, recounts his participation - with a Folkboat - in the first TransAtlantic Singlehanded Race in 1960. He states that Arthur Piver was scheduled to enter his trimaran Nimble in the race, but didn't show up at the starting line.
In the April issue, Bill Goodman wrote a letter about Piver's trip across the Atlantic to England that same year, but didn't say whether Piver ever attempted or completed the first singlehanded TransAtlantic Race from England to New York. Does anyone know?
Rose - We don't think he did, but it
was before our time, so perhaps Goodman or some other Piver admirer
could fill us in. By the way, in the process of researching the
question, we came across an odd fact: According to author Don
Holm, Joshua Slocum and Spray actually crossed the Atlantic from
the U.S. to Europe faster than did Piver and his Lodestar trimaran.
We find this very hard to believe, but that's what Holm wrote.
GETTING MY BOAT TO BELIZE
I'm in the planning stages of a trip to Belize next year on my small sailboat. My options seem to be going through the Canal or trucking the boat to Corpus Christi and sailing to Belize from there. But I've also heard rumors about a company that takes boats - by rail - across the Tehuantepec Isthmus. I wonder if you or any of your readers have any information on this company.
Fred De Lance
Fred - We get the same question about once every two years. We only know of one couple who shipped their boat across Mexico by rail. It was many years ago, and they did all the work themselves. They temporarily got stuck on a siding on the continental divide when the custom cradle started to come apart. As we recall, they did make it over to the Gulf of Campeche - which is still about 300 miles from even Cancun - but wouldn't recommend it for others.
It's a shame you didn't mention how small a boat you have, because if she's small enough, it might be possible to truck her across the narrow gulf. After all, Tristan Jones got his boat from the west coast of South America, over the Andes and mostly overland to the Atlantic Ocean. A land trip across Tehuantepec would be a snap by comparison.
Here's a third option that may or may
not suit your situation. Since it's well over 4,000 miles to Belize
via the Canal, and since it would require expensive trucking and
battling the Gulfstream if you went by way of Corpus Christi,
you might think about selling your boat in California and picking
up a replacement in the Eastern Caribbean where small boats are
pretty cheap. True, you'd still have to sail about 1,200 miles
to Belize, but they would be warm, downwind miles across the salubrious
Caribbean. To our way of thinking, downwind miles involve just
20% of the sweat, wear and effort of upwind and upcurrent miles.
That's why some cruisers who want to go from the Virgin Islands
to Rio do so by way of - we know this sounds strange - Europe.
MARTINIQUE'S STIFF REGULATIONS
We bought Viva, our Grand Soleil 39, in Italy 14 years ago. When we bought the boat, we got a Certificate of Ownership from the U.S. Consulate in Genoa, Italy, and a U.S. Coast Guard Bill Of Sale. We've had the boat registered with the State of California for all 14 years.
We left California in November of '99 to start our current cruise, and have since travelled over 6,000 miles through Mexico, Central America, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Trinidad and all the Windward Islands. While listening to one of the Caribbean SSB nets, we heard that some of the French Islands were not accepting - or were at least questioning - state registered boats from the United States. Chris Doyle's Leeward Cruising Guides makes mention of this fact for Guadeloupe, but not for Martinique. Unfortunately, that guide is not much help if you are travelling northbound.
Upon our arrival in Marin, Martinique, last March, we presented our papers to the Customs office and were immediately informed that our California registration was not acceptable in the French Islands. We explained that we had sailed our boat from Italy through many French ports in the Med - as well as Martinique and Guadeloupe in the past - and that we also had the U.S. Certificate of Ownership. At this point we were transferred to Msr. Claude Adeline, the Chief Customs Officer. He stated that our papers were not acceptable - but if we paid a 2,000 franc ($285.00) penalty/fine for entering Martinique with improper documents, we would be allowed to travel in the French Islands for two months. Since I didn't have 2,000 francs in cash, Msr. Adeline inquired as to how many francs we did have, and subsequently directed us to the nearest ATM.
At this point, things began to get rather unpleasant. We told Msr. Adeline that we would probably not stay in Martinique, but would depart immediately for Dominica, Antigua, and points north. His response was that if we did not pay the 2000 franc "fine/penalty/cruising permit," he would have our boat seized by his customs agents and confiscated until the money was paid! He also held onto all of our ship's papers. Welcome to Martinique!
At this point, we made our visit to the ATM.
After paying the fine, we reported the events to Msr. Eric Jean-Joseph, the Captain of the Port in Marin. He was most concerned and helpful in trying to remedy our problem. He first called the head of Customs in Fort de France, requesting a hearing for us. But they would not meet with us since we don't speak French. He then wrote a letter accompanied by our Statement of Facts, which we had translated into French. This was then faxed to the Chief of Customs in Fort de France, asking for a reply. Despite several follow-up phone calls, we never received an answer.
Although we understand that every country has their laws and regulations, we feel this rule should be better publicized and a warning given for the first offense. An interesting fact is that many of the charter boats we observed in Martinique only have state registration.
We know that the harbor of Marin is actively trying to promote business and tourism, but this was surely a rude awakening and an unpleasant welcome for we unsuspecting mariners. On the other hand, all of the customs officials we have met in other French ports and islands have been most pleasant, courteous and eager to help.
We will obviously get a Coast Guard Documentation before visiting the French Islands again, but we just wanted your readers to be informed of what may be expected.
Steve & Pam Jost
Viva, Grand Soleil 39 (Baja Ha-Ha '95 and '97)
Steve & Pam - Thanks for the 'heads
up'. We've never heard of such a thing happening, and it particularly
surprises us with the French in the Caribbean, who are usually
pretty easy going.
AMERICA TO NEW ZEALAND
I'm presently living in northeastern Canada, and got wind of your magazine from the lonelyplanet.com message board. I'm hoping to be able to sail from somewhere in America for New Zealand or Australia, and hoping you could answer a few questions for me. Specifically, how difficult is it to find crew work on boats going from Mexico or Panama to the South Pacific? Any suggestions of techniques or good ports would also be greatly appreciated.
Joe - If you're young, have a good personality, know something about sailing, and are willing to chip in to pay for food and other basic expenses, you shouldn't have any trouble getting a crew position on a boat to the South Pacific and/or New Zealand. The best places to hook up with boats are in Mexico in February and March, or the Caribbean in April or May. Specifically, we'd show up at the Pacific Puddle Jump Party at Paradise Marina in early March, or at Antigua in mid-April in time for the Classic Regatta and Antigua Sailing Week. Panama is also a good place to try to catch a ride, particularly from March to late May.
No matter where you hope to start from, it's best to arrive several weeks before you hope to get on a boat, as it will give boatowners a chance to know you. How to make friends fast? Offer free assistance on boat projects. You'll soon meet lots of folks and have a chance to demonstrate what a positive addition you'd be to any crew. It also gives you a chance to check out potential skippers and crew. After all, you don't want to cross an ocean with just any boat and skipper. If you don't know much about sailing, you'd better discuss potential offers with folks who are more knowledgeable. It's also best to take trips one passage at a time, for after crossing an ocean, it's not uncommon - or surprising - that skippers and crews might want to see some new faces or hear some new stories. Tahiti is neither close nor inexpensive, but it's also a great place to sign on as crew.
If you're looking to get paid to crew on a boat, you'd better have good skills, and you're better off trying to catch a ride from the Caribbean. You'll need to establish yourself at one of the big centers - St. Martin and Antigua are probably the two biggest - and wait until something comes up. If you're halfway normal, you're sure to be offered a job. But again, you want to consider the offer carefully before accepting. Remember, too, that once you start accepting money, you must also accept the loss of much of your freedom.
No matter if you're looking to be paid
or willing to sail for free, the most important thing is to get
into the loop. For once you become part of either the professional
crewing community or a regular old cruiser - albeit one without
a boat - there is no end to the crewing opportunities around the
GOOD PRODUCTS, GOOD COMPANY SERVICE
We cruisers gripe about long-range cruising products that work and customer service that does not. In five years out, here are some opinions from one cruising boat.
· PUR 40e - The small output PURs had problems at first, however our 40e has performed perfectly. Maintenance is the key. It's not hard: just keep the filter clean, oil the piston shaft occasionally, and pickle the machine per the manual when not in use. That's it! Customer service has been somewhere above outstanding. They answer technical questions quickly and clearly, and they sent us replacement parts without our even asking!
· Perkins 4-108 Diesel Engine - What a workhorse! It's simple, it's strong, and its years-old technology just keeps on working. We haven't had trouble finding Perkins dealers, even in Costa Rica. There were four in San Jose, Costa Rica, and the one we chose could not have been more professional or well-stocked.
· Icom 710 SSB - This radio has performed flawlessly and - unlike our previous SGC 2000 - doesn't have a problem with email. This Icom was built for marine use.
· Pactor II TNC email/fax modem - Like the Icom, this one just works and asks for nothing in return. It's sturdy and rugged. Click it on and you're ready to send and receive email from thousands of miles away, along with weather faxes and much more. Amazing!
· Lofrens Windlass - Our boat came with a years-old Lofrens windlass, which continues to work and work. A little grease once in a while is all it asks. How come some companies can make a little machine like this that just keeps working while others . . . well, you know what I mean.
· Furuno Radar - we've never had a problem with ours. We have a low-end version, but it serves us fine to see rain squalls, to watch out for vessels within a radius we set, and to monitor the shoreline in the dark. We don't know about their customer service - because we've never had to use it.
· Garmin GPS - The 'wonder box'. We have been out at sea at night, a storm howling, and our little Garmin kept cranking away, its little window shining out through the darkness, telling us where we were, our velocity, heading, and distance to the next waypoint. It talks to the satellites way out in space no matter what the weather.
The following products did give us problems:
· Our SGC 2000 came with a defect. It made two trips to the factory at our expense, then worked well for voice but not for email. We fiddled with it for over a year hoping to get it to work for email, but had no luck. Our new Icom 710 brought the improvement we sought.
· Air Marine Wind Generator - The West Marine catalog said we would get 22.6 amps output in 20 knots of wind. We got about 7 amps. The 'customer service' person with the manufacturer seemed ill-tempered and definitely did not know how to address customers. We sent it back. West Marine - to their credit - refunded the full cost of our Air Marine unit with their 'no hassle' policy.
· Simrad/Navico WP 30 - Our unit came with sticking keys. We were advised to fix them ourselves, but it seems some hairlike wires broke in the process. At our expense we had to buy a new compass, pay shipping and pay technical help to install the new compass and wires. We will not be purchasing another product from this company.
Others, of course, may have had differing experiences with the above products, and we only offer our information as the actual experience of one cruising boat. However, we suspect the 'good-guy products' mentioned will have many fans, not just us.
Oh yes, how could I forget our wonderful Morgan 38, which has held up to five years of hard cruising with zero problems from the hull and rigging! We've hauled out in various Central and South American boatyards and left boats costing three to fours times as much behind. Those boats had structural problems, usually due to sailing in heavy conditions.
Bill and Soon Gloege
Gaia, Morgan 38
San Andreas Island, Colombia
THE 90-DAY YACHT CLUB
I have two questions:
1) I have located a foreign registered yacht that is for sale, but is located in Mexico. If the deal goes through, I will eventually bring her into California. I'm told that if I leave the yacht in Mexican waters for 91 days, I will be exempt from California use taxes. I am aware that the yacht is subject to import duty, but that the amount is insignificant when compared to what the California state taxes will be. Have you or your readers any experience or definitive information on this subject? I do not want any surprises from the state.
2) Further to the above, I will want to leave the boat in a secure location, preferably Ensenada. Do you or any of your readers know of any safe marinas where I can leave the yacht unattended for weeks at a time? I would plan to be on the yacht at least one week out of four for the 91-day waiting period.
I would appreciate any information you can give. I am a longtime reader of your publication, and it was your 'Milk Run' series that inspired me to sail to French Polynesia and back in 1988.
John - You're basically on track, but
you need to clear your plans with the State Board of Equalization
in Sacramento. They are helpful. The one area where you may run
into problems is if you just store your boat in Mexico for most
of the 90 days. Unless you actively cruise the boat in Mexico,
you may be liable for the use tax. Marina Coral in Ensenada is
often called the '90-Day Yacht Club' - for obvious reasons.
I have a friend who flies 747s over the Pacific for United Air Lines. He is also an avid surfer. He thinks sailors might get lots of great information by checking out a U.S. Navy ocean weather site with a public access section. It's at www.fnmoc.navy.mil, then hit 'Public Access' to get a choice of charts. My favorite chart is the Pacific Wave Heights and Surface Winds with predictions.
Mike - It's a great site that we use
all the time.
MISTY SEA TO THE RESCUE AGAIN
We're writing to let you know the name of the gentleman who relayed the mayday so Monk Henry of Passage West could be rescued when his Cheoy Lee sank off the Pacific Coast of Baja after hitting a container. He is Tom Collins of the Bertram 46 sportfisher Misty Sea. I can't begin to count how many times Tom and his wife Joanne have helped other mariners - ourselves included - on his cruise in Mexico this season.
Tom has helped just about anyone with engine, generator, and electrical problems in every port he pulled into. He even got out of bed early one morning to take his Boston Whaler out to take over the tow of our vessel from Artemis into the lagoon at Barra de Navidad. At the time, we'd taken six days to sail 120 miles to weather in little wind with our Taiwan Turkey. While offshore of Lazaro Cardenas, we had transmission troubles. Needless to say, we were tired - but very happy to have good friends and make new ones in the process of a long ordeal!
Tom and Joanne, and Howard and Theresa of Mi Amante helped us put the hook down, took us 'home' and fed us a hot meal. Once again, it's the people you meet along the way that make the cruising life so great.
Paul and Allison Petraitis
Espresso, CT-41 Pilothouse
Seattle / Sea of Cortez
Readers - For the full story of the loss
of Passage West during a Baja
Bash, see elsewhere in this issue.
I have been a long-time reader of your great publication. My 'newly' wife and I are in the market to buy a new-to-us sailboat and wonder what you think about ferro-cement boats? I won't bore you with my sailing history of mostly 40-ft fiberglass sailboats, but I have never sailed a ferro-cement boat.
I have a chance to buy a professionally-built 47-ft ferro-cement boat, and was wondering what you or any of your readers thought about these kinds of boats. I know it is not a boat we can enter in races - duh. But I do my racing with friends on other boats, bringing a six pack along. We are only interested in her as a cruising boat.
Anyway, the boat is being offered for a great price, and we're curious about your opinion on ferro boats.
Mike and Patty Cole
Mike and Patty - To our thinking, the important thing is not what a boat is built of, but how well she's built. We know of a number of ferro boats that have made many long passages. Indeed, our first trip up the California coast was on a ferro-cement ketch about 30 years ago. Each time we go over to Pier 39, we see her happily bobbing away. On the other hand, it seems clear to us that more poor boats were built of ferro-cement than of any other material. This wouldn't be so bad except that it's difficult, if not impossible, to conduct a definitive survey on ferro boats. The low initial price is a great temptation, of course, but remember that ferro boats are historically hard to sell, and that you'll likely only get a similar low price when it comes time to sell. The ultimate decision is yours, of course, but we'd have to say that, more than with other materials, ferro-cement boats aren't for everyone.
By the way, under PHRF you can theoretically be competitive with any boat.
IMAGINE, IF EVERY SAILBOAT
It is frequently suggested by readers and articles in Latitude that sailors are more deserving than non-sailors, and those who sail frequently are even more deserving. For example, your suggestions for solving the lack of convenient marina berths. But the distinction goes further, namely in proclaiming boaters superior because they consume less energy, water, products, and so forth. Being an ex-cruiser, I understand the natural result of cruising is to consume less, but did this make me any more deserving? I think not.
Your problem is misunderstanding the economics involved: what enables cruisers to cruise, and frequent boat users their ability to use their boats frequently. The truth is that people who don't use their boats often subsidize those who do use their boats often. If the only people who bought boats were cruisers, then the quantity of boats made would only be a few percent of the current boat market. Boats and fittings would then cost many times more, and there would be a very small after market. Marinas probably wouldn't exist, as there wouldn't be enough boats to warrant them. The cost of Coast Guard search and rescue would be levied against a very small population, making getting rescued prohibitively expensive. All one needs to do is to spend any time on a boat in a Third World country to realize that boats can't exist for long without the support structure of a modern society.
The same logic applies to boat utilization in the Bay. Imagine if every boat in the Bay were to leave its slip on every Saturday and Sunday of the year. Sailing in the Bay would be impossible, and each owner would probably have to make reservations for the 20 or so days a year they'd be permitted to sail. Gas docks, restrooms, and other support facilities would be overburdened. And forget anchoring at Angel Island, as reservations would be required years in advance.
Currently all people pay an equal amount - based on boat length and cost - regardless of boat use and demand on resources. Thus the 10% who sail often are being subsidized by the 90% who don't. Rather than raising the ire of the majority - who are already paying more for the value they receive - I suggest that the 10% be grateful and hope that some form of 'use tax' is not implemented. After all, if most people use their boat five days or less a year, what should the fair marina fee be for liveaboards who use the marina 73 times as much?
An Appreciative High-Use Sailor
Zoe, MacGregor 22
Charles - We think that people who want to use the Bay Bridge to get a vehicle across the Bay are "more deserving" of its use than those who would want to use it as a site for a flea market or some other non-transportation use. But we don't think they are "superior" to other people. Similarly - and based on the premise that boat slips should exist to provide access to the water - we generally believe that those who use their boats most often are most deserving of slips.
Regrettably, we don't understand your argument about what would happen if people only bought cruising boats. They don't now and aren't going to in the future, so it's a moot point. As for folks who don't use their boats frequently subsidizing those who do, we think just the opposite is true. If everybody used their boat frequently, economies of scale and greater volume would almost certainly reduce the cost of boats, gear and marine services.
As for your hypothetical case of everybody using their boat every weekend of the year, what does that have to do with reality? It's like trying to set transportation policy based on the notion of everybody in Northern California using their car every weekend - something that doesn't and can't happen.
But enough of our defending our proposal
that those who use their boats the most be the most deserving
of slips, let's hear your order of priority. Should those who
use their boats the least have priority? If so, why? Or should
things continue just the way they are now, with those who have
had slips in the past having priority on them in the future? If
so, why? In times of increasing scarcity - no matter if it's gas,
electricity, water, clean air, housing or boat slips - these questions
need to be addressed.
BOATS THAT HEAL THEMSELVES
A plastic that heals its own wounds? It could happen! In the latest issue - Volume 409 - of the science journal Nature, S.R. White et. al. report on a "structural polymeric material with the ability to autonomically heal cracks." Being on the cutting edge of boating technology, I thought that Lee Helm might want to read about it for herself.
I'm not a polymer scientist or anywhere near it, but here's my best guess of what they've done. I suspect that the authors have devised a system in which a 'healing agent' - which I think might be just uncured epoxy - is kept in tiny capsules with a very thin membrane. These microcapsules are then mixed in with the resin. After catalyst is added and the structure cures, the capsules remain dispersed throughout. If and when stress cracks develop, they rupture the microcapsules - which release the epoxy. The fresh epoxy then fills the cracks by capillary action, mixes with catalyst, polymerizes, and it's all fixed. How's that sound? They claim that the material yields up to 75% of its original strength after the self-repair takes place.
It seems to me that this stuff would be the perfect material for boats! You know, everlasting, cruising toughness, or in the case of racing boats, hulls that are lighter and stronger. Maybe the New York YC's last America's Cup boat could have benefited from the technology. And perhaps Cam Lewis could have hung on Club Med's tail. The authors propose that delamination and other problems could be solved with this type of material. One small question though - would we want some of today's designs to last forever?
Off the subject, I'm addicted to 'Lectronic Latitude! Thanks.
Marina del Ray
I'm looking for information on getting a so-called 'Six Pak' license from the Coast Guard. But I have some questions - and perhaps some problems. My sailing experience goes back more than 30 years in Hawaii and California, but because of a back injury, I've spent very little time on the water during the last several years. There's another issue. Like most people, I've never documented any of my sea time, and I'm no longer in contact with the skippers I used to crew for. It also appears that the Coast Guard wants all the hours to be within the last year anyway.
Does the size of the vessel on which you get your sea time matter? I still have my 15-ft Potter and a 10-ft aluminum skiff. I could get time on those. Otherwise, I was thinking about joining a club where I could get the hours that way. Do any clubs have powerboats? I want the licence to operate one, so I'm not too worried about the sailing endorsement.
There are Web sites that claim to have all the questions - and answers - to the various written tests. Are they showing the real stuff? Is dealing with the Coast Guard really as big a hassle as they make it out to be? How long does the process take? Are there classes to help pass the test, and/or are these worthwhile if everything is available online anyway?
Finally, does the Coast Guard still make you pee in a bottle? I am a medical cannabis user - all legal and documented, of course - but I assume the zero-tolerance zealots would frown on this. I guess I might have to stop using it for awhile and go back to codeine, Vicoden, or something else more acceptable to them. Just wake me when it's over. Do they do random drug testing after you get a license, or only after there has been a problem?
George - In all honesty, we think you may have trouble getting a license. For one thing, you're going to have to document at least 360 days worth of eight-hour days, three months of which have been within the last three years. To document this time, you must include the name and documentation number of the vessel, its gross tonnage and shaft horsepower, the number of days underway and the dates of service, where each day's service was put in, and a brief description of the duties involved - and get some outside party to confirm that it's all true. By the way, the 'sea time' needs to be on vessels similar to those you hope to skipper. By the way, just having enough time on the water is not enough, you have to convince the Coastie checking you out that you do know what you're doing.
You also have to be fingerprinted, cough up $240 for the evaluation, prove your citizenship, show First-Aid and CPR certificates, pass a physical, not have blood pressure over 150/90, get a drug free certificate, and prove you haven't had alcohol or drug problems in the past. If you still feel you qualify, visit www.uscg.mil/d11/msosf/dprtmnts/rec/rec+.htm for more details.
Yes, there are Web sites and licensing schools with all the questions - and all the answers. But please, tell us you want to pass the written tests based on your knowledge, not just your memory. There are a number of licensing schools, Web sites and video instruction programs. The in-person schools - which usually require two full weeks of eight hours in the classroom - are probably the most effective. Indeed, some of them boast over 90% success rate on the written tests. And the Coast Guard accepts their test results. Folks who have taken these classes tell us they are definitely not for slackers.
The Coast Guard makes it much harder
to get a master's license than they used to. We think this is
a good thing.
PRIME THE PUMP
I must agree that using one's boat is very important. When you sign the lease with the Port Commission in Santa Cruz, you agree that your lease will be terminated if you don't use your boat at least once every six months. There is no reason that all marinas can't have a similar provision.
In Ventura, there is a provision that once a quarter all tenants need to motor their vessel to the Harbormaster to prove the vessel is capable of moving under its own power and that the holding tanks and discharge valves are in good order.
I think all slip leases should have a provision that says, "All boats must be in good repair. Those that aren't will have to be brought into good repair or vacate the slip." This would keep derelicts from taking up space and becoming such eyesores. Besides, boats that aren't cared for die and soon end up on the bottom.
As for liveaboards, I think those who use their boats only for residential purposes should have a minimum of 320 square feet, have no means of overboard discharge, have holding tanks and either sewer connections or be on a contract with a pumpout service.
As for your comments to Peter Thelin of the Catfisher 28 Bullfrog, I believe that the minimum length for a boat that's used for both recreation and living aboard should be 36 feet for sailboats and 28 feet for powerboats.
As for the marina owner who was going to get rid of his liveaboards, is he: 1) Inspecting the boats to ensure that they have holding tanks? 2) Requiring that all discharge thru-hulls be plugged by a diver - only if grey water is a problem - and checked every six months by a diver of his choice, the inspection to be paid for by the boatowner? 3) Making sure that discharge thru-hulls for heads are locked in the closed position - as required by the Coast Guard when within three miles of shore? 4) Enforcing the laws on pollution, meaning that if a tenant pumps overboard, they lose their lease, no second chances? 5) Walking the docks at night to see who is a sneakaboard and who is breaking the rules - then giving them a notice to vacate? 6) Enforcing the rules of his marina?
I find that most marina operators who charge a fair price and enforce the rules fairly, end up with liveaboards who will work with them to keep the place clean and orderly - not people who are a pain in the ass.
Maybe the marinas should have moorings where they could put people who do not use their boats and rent the slips to those who do.
Drustran, Skookum 47
Karrie - Those who advocate legal status for 'true liveaboards' - meaning those who only use their boats as residences and never as boats - don't seem to understand that virtually the entire rest of the population is against using public land for private residences. You might as well try to get an ordinance passed permitting the establishment of permanent tent encampments in Golden Gate Park. When the previously existing houseboats were reluctantly grandfathered in about 20 years ago, it was with the clear understanding that no more would ever be allowed - and they would be hooked up directly to the municipal sewer systems.
As for the owner of the marina who told us he wants to eliminate all liveaboards through attrition because they are such a "pain in the ass," you again don't seem to understand. Take a look at all the additional work and grief that would be involved in his following your 'seven point plan' - and then multiply it by each of the boats in his 500 or so slips. Do you now appreciate why the marina owner wants to run a simple marina and not a floating housing complex?
NOTHING IS SACRED
There is one elusive element of magic that makes your humble rag the favorite read of serious boaters everywhere, and I believe I have identified it. It is the generous space given over to the Letters to the Editor - and the obvious fact that the yachties who write these letters are inclined to write what other yachties are most interested in reading. It sounds simple. It sounds dumb. But where else are boaters going to read what they are most interested in?
Certainly not in the glossy magazines. The expensive glossies tend to be written by a small clan of insiders who are the self-professed experts on all things marine, the 'gee whiz' heroes of the high seas, and the gaggle of scribblers who write for the benefit of their advertisers. They are the three monkeys who hear no evil, see no evil and say no evil. I call them the paid liars of the glossies. And, being a retired journalist, I take a rather harsh view of this kind of self-aggrandizing. More than any other field of journalism, yachting writers do an unending disservice to their readers. I have yet to read an article about cruising the West Indies where a single fault is found in 'paradise'. It is very boring stuff by the time the writers and editors have filtered out all the otherwise exciting stuff that might offend some advertiser, government or club. Am I right or wrong?
Now take the Wanderer's unique replies to Letters (to the editor). He shoots from the hip. Nothing is sacred. I disagree with him some of the time. But I'm getting interesting points of view and valuable information most of the time.
As a delivery captain for the last 30 years, it's amazing the number of foreign ports where I find Latitude. And I'm one of the people spreading 'the word' to the rest of the world. Don't change.
(Master 350 Tons, Aboard Various Yachts)
Parksville, British Columbia, Canada
Stan - Thank you for the overly kind
comments. When we started Latitude,
the idea was that it was always to be driven by the editorial
content rather than the ads. We figured that if we provided enough
good editorial, we'd get the readers. And if we got the readers,
we'd get our share of advertisers. So far it's worked - thanks
in no small part to what we believe is an unusually intelligent
readership that has seen the Wanderer's opinions for just what
they are - the opinions of one person.
LA PAZ SYNDROME
There are a lot of questions that have been posed in Latitude of late, and I think I may be able to help with some of the answers. After 14 years of cruising to Mexico, six years as an American running a business in Mexico, being married to a Latina, and about to become a Mexican citizen, here's my perspective:
You and Mary Shroyer of Marina de La Paz definitely have it right when you claim there is such a thing as a 'La Paz Whining Syndrome'. As you say, it by no means applies to all cruisers in La Paz, but it certainly does to some. There is a certain vocal element, for instance, that is quick to complain about a lot of things. For instance, a slip neighbor paying a local $20/day as opposed to just $10/day to strip their brightwork. Or the Port Captain's latest directive. Or - as when Coast Chandlery took over the dry storage yard at Marina Palmira - enforcing the rules for lay days.
Those examples, of course, don't really explain why the La Paz Whining Syndrome exists. I think one of the big reasons is that many American cruisers seem to forget they are in a foreign country. Maybe it's because dollars are widely accepted - although lately the peso is killing the greenback. Or because it's such a common sight to see Americans being served by Mexican waiters. Or because gringos eventually discover that the official hassling them gets paid about as much as what they pay for monthly lawn service back home.
It all boils down to respect. The very first question that runs through a Mexican's mind when he/she starts interacting with a gringo is - "Does this person respect me?" The question doesn't have to be asked, as the Mexican will intuitively know in the first 30 seconds. In the case of an American showing up in an official office wearing a wet bathing suit and flip-flops, it only takes about two seconds. Mary Shroyer mentioned the importance of making even halting attempts to speak to the locals in Spanish. That's all about respect, too.
As someone who sees most of the cruisers come and go through La Paz and Cabo, I can say that many of the permanent nesters living aboard in La Paz do so for the following reasons: 1) It's the first major Mexican port going south that has a year 'round anchorage that's nearly free. 2) The town is nice, has decent boating facilities, and is close to good cruising grounds. 3) It's close enough to San Diego that it's easy to fly or drive back to the States. 4) Nobody has to cross an ocean to get there. 5) It's somewhat cheaper than living in the United States - though certainly not in all respects. Slips and the cost of living, for example, are less dear in Mazatlan.
As for the many questions regarding Mexican boatyards - rigging, painting and so forth - I can only say that my initial plans to advertise Coast Marine Services as the newest and only American-owned and operated boatyard in La Paz have been continually pushed back due to great word of mouth response. We do a lot of blister jobs, for instance, not just because La Paz has the ideal climate, but because I can talk about the science of blisters with a client in English. In addition, we show up on time and guarantee our work. This doesn't mean that the other yards in La Paz aren't capable of good work, but when you see their workers grinding toxic bottom paint while not even wearing a dust mask - we use full suits and respirators - or taking out blisters with a hammer and chisel, it's not hard to get business. Consistency is the one thing that's lacking in the Mexican yards. If you can get the yard's good paint subcontractor on a good - meaning 'non-holiday' - week, and if the yard manager doesn't substitute auto body filler for the more expensive marine stuff, and if they don't spray on a windy day because they are backed up and need to get you in the water, then hopefully things will come out all right.
As to the "two-part auto paint" somebody complained about in a letter, they were probably referring to DuPont Imron, the only widely-available LP paint in La Paz for yards not backed by a marine chandlery. There is nothing inherently wrong with Imron, although the mil thickness is not as great as with AwlGrip or ProLine.
A final comment on La Paz. You made a comment about the drinking habits of some of the cruisers in La Paz, but I haven't really seen anything to compare with the drinking habits in the Caribbean. When I tried to break in as a charter captain in St. Thomas umpteen years ago, I was amazed at how much drinking went on in Red Hook and Charlotte Amalie. That and a high crime rate sent me scurrying back to the West Coast - despite losing a deposit on a condo. La Paz has lots of great cruisers with great attitudes, and others who are having to come to terms with the fact that Baja Sur - which is almost an island - is not the greatest place for those on a fixed income to stretch a dollar. It's much better than Cabo, however.
Finally, as for your initial list of West Coast circumnavigators, I was astonished to see how many obvious contemporary names you had left out. Then when I saw that you included Dwight Long's Idle Hour, I was even more astonished that this list was supposed to include even the pre-1995 circumnavigators! What about Bob and Nancy Griffith on Awahnee and Awahnee II? Or Robin Lee Graham? Harry Pidgeon on Islander twice. William Murnan in 1952 on his stainless steel Sea Bird yawl? Bill Holcomb out of San Francisco on Landfall II from about 195357. Widow Sutie Adams, who in 1961 set off from San Francisco on the 58-ft Fairweather with her four children and became the first American woman to skipper a circumnavigation? Tom Steele of San Diego went around once in the '50s, once in the '60s, and once in the '70s. And these are just the well-known circumnavigators from an era when it was still a big deal.
From my six years in Cabo - a port where nearly every West Coast circumnavigator ends up calling - I have partial records of many more. For most of these people, a circumnavigation is a lifetime achievement after which they often sell the boat and never pick up a boating magazine again. Their Everest has been conquered. I remember one guy on a Stan Huntingford design saying he wanted to be "the first to circumnavigate and not write a book about it."
Liz and Andy Copeland on their Beneteau Bagheera definitely have gone around, as have at least 40 other British Columbia cruisers who weren't on your list. And if you let me go by boat design alone, I know for a fact that several Brown trimarans have made it, some Pivers, and at least two Columbia 29s. In short, so many people now circumnavigate that your list will have to expand sixfold - and even then you will miss a lot who drop out of sight. But keep it up - and let me know if you want to know more about some of the more interesting ones - such as Widow Sutie Adams.
Jim Elfers, Managing Partner
Coast Chandlery Cabo San Lucas
Coast Chandlery La Paz
Coast Marine Services La Paz
Jim - Your explanation for the cause of the La Paz Whining Syndrome is interesting, but doesn't seem to take into account the fact that you don't find the same syndrome in Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Z-town - or anywhere else in Mexico. If we had to hazard an explanation for the syndrome, it would be the familiar "men and ships rot in port," as people who whine tend not to have time to cruise, and people who actively cruise don't seem to have time to whine. This is a very broad generalization, of course, of which there are countless exceptions.
More drinking in the Caribbean than La Paz? Absolutely. Oddly enough, there are innumerable alcoholics in the Caribbean who somehow manage to be excellent and active sailors.
Thanks for the additions to our circumnavigator's list. It wasn't meant to be definitive, but to create interest.
In the March issue, Latitude once again bashed innocent and defenseless small catamarans - this time in response to Capt. Jonathan and Joell White's letter about 'inexpensive cats'.
Does the quote, "I am not the only multihull sailor who feels that 40-ft LOA is an approximate lower limit for a safe multihull offshore in heavy weather," make any sense when replying to a letter from someone who has been cruising for 2.5 years across thousands of miles of bluewater in a 32-foot cat? In other words, Latitude says, 'Yes, you've safely made it for thousands of miles on a boat which is much shorter than our approved lower limit - but that simply proves you're a lucky fool that has gone against our esteemed advice without misfortune."
This is particularly amusing in the context of your position about "world cruisers under $25,000." To wit: "Jim & Julie - If we gave you a list of boats under $25,000 that can circumnavigate, it would take up most of this magazine. To prove it, we'll give you a list of boats starting with the letter 'c', under 30 feet in length, that you can buy for less than $25,000, that already have circumnavigated."
Curious logic. So a plethora of keel boats under 30 feet and under $25,000 dollars are suitable for world cruising, and their worthiness is demonstrated by the fact that they have done so. But the fact that any number of small catamarans have safely completed circumnavigations and made ocean crossings - including Capt. White's - proves nothing because catamarans under 40 feet are inherently unsafe in heavy weather? Because you say so?
For the additional evidence on the seaworthiness of catamarans, we need only look to our robber baron friends, the insurance companies. There is simply no premium penalty for small catamarans over monohulls of the same value. For the naive, let me assure you, insurance companies do indeed track losses, and assign premiums accordingly. The fact is, the size of the premium is much more related to the experience of the owner than anything else besides value, and not the number of hulls. This would not be the case if these boats were inherently dangerous.
Having worked for the Coast Guard for 10 year in Kodiak, Seattle, and now Alameda, I've had the opportunity to see lots of Search & Rescue accounts from all over the world - and I've yet to see one that read, "emergency due to sailing a catamaran under 40 feet in heavy weather." I do not speak for the Coast Guard, of course, but I work with many boarding officers, ship's captains, and rescue personnel. The seaworthiness of various craft is an ongoing discussion for these people, and though they are all susceptible to the same personal biases as anyone else, there is simply no consensus that small cats are unsafe. I know, because I bought one - and asked lots of them questions before I did.
Further, a friend bought a 38-foot French cat in the West Indies last year, and had a delivery captain sail it to Port Everglades for shipping to Vancouver. I spoke extensively to the delivery captain - who has made many deliveries of 35, 38 and 42 foot French cats as far north as Canada and as far south as South America - in all kinds of weather. He told me that he found no seaworthiness problems with the smaller cats, and little or no advantages in bigger cats - with the exception of a small percentage in speed. This man has no dog in the fight, either, as he delivers all kinds and sizes of vessels all over the place, and his personal boat is a monohull.
Having previously lived and sailed on a 46-foot monohull, when I recently decided to buy a sailboat I looked at all the options. After comparison shopping reduced my choices to a 65-foot monohull or a cat half as long with more space, I opted for the cat - as much because my female sailing partner liked it so much better as anything else.
In my opinion, advising people that it's perfectly okay to go off on a world cruise in a 24-foot boat that you bought for $25,000, while implying that bluewater sailing in a catamaran less than 40 feet long - regardless of the reputation of the design or builder, or condition of the boat - is a risky and dangerous undertaking, and fundamentally disqualifies Latitude as a consultant for the purchase of a yacht. Since Latitude has a cat over 40-ft long, it would appear that you've shed some of your basic prejudices regarding catamarans, but not without retaining some elitist, and altogether non-sequitur opinions concerning their smaller brethren.
For some actually practical information to peruse for those considering a catamaran in lieu of a monohull, these URLs might be helpful:
Latitude's silly catamaran biases aside, these criticisms should not be misconstrued to apply to the other wonderful articles, organizing, and valuable services the magazine provides. I never miss the online issue.
Bill - We've owned our cat for four years now, but hardly consider ourselves to be experts with all types of cats in all types of weather. So when it came to suggesting a minimum size offshore cat safe for heavy weather offshore, we deferred to recognized experts. The quote you attribute to us was - as we very clearly stated - from Lock Crowther, who, until his death, was one of the biggest names in multihull design and sailing. As we also noted, the quote came from Chris White's book, The Cruising Multihull - in which White himself writes: "If a potential client walks in the door and tells me he wants a transocean-capable cruising trimaran, I tell him that it ought to be about 40 feet long, minimum. The minimum size cat could probably be a little shorter. I would not be happy with a smaller boat; how could I expect anyone else to be?"
If somebody sailed around the world in a 30-foot cat, we wouldn't necessarily be surprised - in fact, we've reported on such circumnavigations several times. Nonetheless, we're still not going to recommend similar adventures to the general public. Similarly, while we have reported on folks who have sailed around the world on monohulls as short as 12 feet, we personally aren't going to recommend trying to go around in anything much under 29 feet. That's our opinion. If you have a different opinion, that's fine.
And please, let's not split hairs, as 40 feet is not some hard and fast rule. In the normally benign waters of Mexico, it's possible to get away with a much smaller cat. But our general belief - and we think this will be backed up by most recognized experts - is that with all other things equal, the bigger the cat, the faster, more stable and more safe she is. When Profligate got into winds gusting to over 60 knots and seas officially recorded at 23 feet a while back off Pt. Sur, we, as the owners, were glad for every foot of length. So was the delivery crew, who, despite the boat's very high freeboard, still took one wave in the cockpit.
In any event, we think you're making
a mountain out of a molehill. After all, check out the next letter
to see Jonathan and Joell's response to our response.
FAIR AND TO THE POINT
Just a short note to thank you for publishing our letter last month. We both thought your response was accurate, well-informed, fair and to the point - as always!
Jonathan and Joell White
JoJo, Catfisher 32
Hilton Head, South Carolina
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
I am 10 years old and I just got back from six months cruising Mexico with my parents, down the Baja Coast, mainland Mexico as far south as Zihuatanejo, and the southern part of the Sea of Cortez. My parents had a great time and my Mom homeschooled me. I got to do a lot of snorkeling, swimming, and boogie boarding, but for the most part I was bored and lonely. My parents are fun, but they're not kids
This letter is to say "thank you" to the many kids I met, and for the great kid fun I had with them. Samantha, Kailey, Kendall, Quincey, Kanoa, Paige, Ayla, Tasman, Lona, Mitch are just a few. Thanks for the memories. I hope that we can keep in touch and maybe someday I'll see you down the road.
San Francisco, CA
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