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A FEW THOUSAND CHARGED TO MY CREDIT CARD
I recently returned to San Diego after a great trip down to Cabo crewing aboard Lee and Nicki Dale's Tayana 48 Osprey in the Ha-Ha. The Wanderer and crew did a great job.
Upon arrival in Cabo on November 8, I stayed an additional four days before flying home. During that time, I used my Visa card two times - in an art store and in a restaurant. Yesterday, I received a call from Visa advising me that a few thousand dollars had been charged to my Visa in various parts of Baja. In other words, my card number had been used to create another card. Fortunately, a red flag went up and Visa quickly cancelled my card. But if I'd been down in Mexico on my own boat, it would have been impossible for Visa to contact me - and I probably would have found out the hard way that my card had hit the limit.
I just wanted to let you know in case you're keeping track of such incidents. I was disappointed, because it won't be long before I take my boat south, and when I do, I'll be leery of using my credit card.
Chuck - Thanks for the 'heads up'. We've
had a few reports like yours in previous years, but not too many.
If cruisers let us know when this happens, we can better judge
the extent of the problem.
It's been a long time since we have sent you any letters, but hopefully that will change soon as we are headed back to the South Pacific this spring. You may recall that we left Acapulco in '97 for Galapagos, Easter Island, Pictairn, the Gambiers and beyond.
We have a problem. We're going to be headed back to the South Pacific with Sable our cat, who did the last trip, too. But unlike the last time, we will be leaving the boat in Raiatea for three months or so while we fly back to the States. So far I haven't been able to get any good answers from the French government on what's involved with flying our cat out of French Polynesia and then bringing her back in.
I know that George Backhus of the Deerfoot 62 Moonshadow flew out with his cat MaiTai when he was waiting for his boat to be repaired. Could you possibly pass our question on to him so I can find out what hoops we may have to jump through to get our cat in and out of French Polynesia?
Al and Debbie Farner
Al & Debbie - We don't feel comfortable giving out email addresses, so we forwarded your question to George. He responded as follows:
"As for flying out of French Polynesia
with a cat - and then back in - I think it would be very difficult.
They might be able to get the cat out, something I was able to
do. They would have to contact the local quarantine service,
which would put the animal in a sealed cage and transport it
to the airport. But trying to bring a cat back into French Polynesia
is a whole different matter. I have no experience with it, but
understand that the animal might be required to do a quarantine
in Hawaii before going on to French Polynesia. On the other hand,
they may take the animal directly to the yacht. The best thing
is to talk to the officials in French Polynesia. In the long
run, it might be easiest to have other yachties look after the
cat while the couple are gone. As for MaiTai, she's been doing
hard time in quarantine in New Zealand since we got back. No
I'm in the process of buying a boat in the Virgin Islands, and plan on bringing her back to the United States - possibly by way of Cuba. Is it legal, and what's the procedure?
Larry - The procedure is simple: you just show up. If you're coming from the Virgins, we recommend that your first stop be Baracoa, a lovely little natural harbor on the eastern end of Cuba. When we went there, we just pulled in without any advance warning, and there wasn't any problem. In fact, lots of Cubans gathered on the little bluff of this non-tourist town to shout pro-American sentiments as we came in. Once you arrive, however, be prepared for a molasses-like check-in from a whole flock of officials with the saddest supplies you've ever seen. We're talking about little stubs for pencils, and tiny scraps for paper.
It's possible that you'll be stopped on your approach to Cuba by the U.S. Coast Guard. We were. They'll advise you not to go to Cuba, but just tell them you're going anyway. It's your right. And they won't make a big deal out of it.
The U.S. government cannot stop you from visiting Cuba. However, if you spend money for transportation to get there - meaning by plane or commercial boat - or while in Cuba, you'll technically be "trading with the enemy", a violation of U.S. Treasury law. Everybody ignored this law until the Bush administration took office, and they started making threats of $200,000 fines. Some, although not many, actually settled by paying $7,500 fines. Oddly enough, ever since Bush had taken office, the Congress had actually been making progress on repealing the 'trading with the enemy' prohibition, but after September 11, that went directly to the back burner. So when you go to Cuba - and we highly recommend it - don't spend (wink, wink) any money. At least none that can be traced. And since they don't have paper for receipts, it's not difficult.
For details, we highly recommend Cuba, a Cruising Guide by Nigel Calder. It's got terrific and accurate charts courtesy of the Cuban government. Simon Charles' A Cruising Guide to Cuba also has some useful information and charts.
If you somehow manage to find yourself
in trouble in Cuba, try to contact Commodore Jose Miguel Dias
Escrich at the Hemmingway International YC. He's the yachties'
friend in Cuba, has some kind of influence, and might be able
Last month I was tanking up our boat at the fuel dock in San Carlos when Ed Grossman motored up in his new 'toy' - a dredge. He said he had purchased it to dredge a channel to the ramp at Bahia Los Angeles, so he could haul boats across the Baja Peninsula to the Pacific Coast and vice versa. I wish he'd just dredge parts of the marina in San Carlos.
Grossman said he was waiting for signatures on one more set of papers, after which his 'land canal' for boats would be ready to go. I expressed my negative sentiments about the whole thing, and about Fonatur's proposed 'nautical stairway' for the Pacific Coast of Baja and the Sea of Cortez. He responded that he seriously doubted the Mexican government tourist agency's estimates of the boats that would be attracted to Mexico by the 'stairway'. He said his study of the situation suggested that what was really needed was a way to get 30 to 38 foot fishing boats to the Sea of Cortez without them having to go all the way around Cabo. And that his 'land canal' - which he'd been working on since '95 and which he'd invested a lot of time and money in - was just the thing.
The way I see it, the unfortunate future for the Sea of Cortez is about to come to pass.
Allen - In our view, the 'Nautical Stairway' has a snowball's chance in Baja of succeeding. There just isn't the market for all the marinas, hotels, golf courses, and airports they've got planned. We're not even convinced that there's a market for Ed Grossman's modest 'land canal', although only time will tell. We don't consider either a significant threat to the Sea of Cortez. The overfishing, on the other hand, is an entirely different story.
Ray Taylor's problems with boat insurance - it being cancelled before the term expired - prompts me to share mine.
I recently renewed my annual boat insurance with a brokerage in San Diego, and within a month I received a supplemental rider to sign that limited my coverage to 10 miles offshore - if I was singlehanding my boat. In other words, my policy was void if I singlehanded my boat to Catalina Island for the weekend.
I should say that I have 30 years of sailing experience, including 14 months in Mexico after the '95 Ha-Ha. I have never had an insurance claim, and did nothing to provoke a change in coverage.
So I called my agent to complain. He told me that if I didn't like it, I should send a request to cancel my insurance. I didn't do that. But within a week, I received a certified letter saying that my insurance was being cancelled!
I now have a policy in place with a new company, and have emailed the old company requesting a fair and equitable refund of my fully paid policy. That issue is still pending.
I believe this was a case of breach of contract - if not an unscrupulous method of doing business. My only recourse appears to become more diligent about which broker and insurance company I deal with in the future.
N.W. - We don't know the facts of the case and we're not experts on the laws governing insurance, but if your policy was changed after it went into effect, and/or if your insurance was cancelled because you made an inquiry, it sounds wrong to us. Nonetheless, if all you say is true, perhaps it's a stroke of good fortune that it happened, because in the event you do have a claim, it seems as though you might be better off with a different broker and underwriter.
Two things we do know. One, it's good to read your policy carefully, and two, it's good to develop a long term relationship with an established insurance broker.
By the way, if you don't mention your name, it wouldn't be right if we mentioned the company's name or the broker's name.
TOM AND TICONDEROGA
I'm trying to track down Tom Reardon, a friend who is the captain of the legendary L. Francis Herreshoff 72-foot ketch Ticonderoga - known as Big Ti to her fans. The boat is privately-owned and, as such, has been a real bitch to track down. Any ideas how on I can find him and her?
Stuart - You should have contacted us long ago, as we see Tom and Ti every New Year's in St. Barts, where the boat always has the last spot at the Quai Charles de Gaulle. It is tough getting a spot on the quai then, but the Port Captain always saves a spot for a member of yachting royalty. Tom can be found most evenings socializing at Le Select - but for one beer only. He has no intention of letting alcohol interfere with his responsibilities as captain, or with being the first guy out in the surf each morning. Two years ago, Tom told us he surfed 21 days in a row - which might be a record for St. Barts.
Tom's a great guy. Last year we caught him polishing the bottom of the fender of the owner's little jeep - and in the heat of the day, no less. Tom likes to do things thoroughly - which is why he's been the captain of Ti for nearing 20 years - but sometimes it leads to problems. For example, one year the owner and his wife, who also have a house on the island, instructed Tom to leave their little jeep at the airport for them to pick up when they arrived. Tom found the jeep dirty and faded - like most cars that have spent a few years under the tropical sun. That didn't set well with him, so before the couple arrived, he washed and polished the thing until it was gleaming. Then he left it in the airport parking lot. When the owner and his wife arrived, they searched and searched for their faded red jeep, but there wasn't one in the parking lot. So they had to take a taxi to their house.
The owners are very nice - and relatively young. We were sitting around talking one night, and were shocked to hear the guy tell us that he'd chartered Big O, the Ocean 71 we used to own, about 10 years ago and had a great time. Alas, it was one of those charters that our captain 'forgot' to tell us about, apparently pocketing all the money. Yes, the Caribbean is still full of pirates.
Tom and Ticonderaga went over to Europe this summer to participate in the America's Cup Jubilee. By the time this issue hits the stands, we're pretty sure they'll both be back at the quai in St. Barts with their front row seats for the fireworks. We'll tell him that you said 'hello'.
CAN THE CREW BE LIABLE FOR DAMAGES?
Last month I wrote in how some boatowners hold their crew liable for damage to their boat and gear. In your response, you seemed genuinely surprised that this could be the case. Here's an example from my personal experience, although I left out the identifying details.
I once crewed aboard a gorgeous racer/cruiser for more than 10 weeks, and we had a great trip. However, the boat was fairly large and had a towering bendy rig, the kind that needs all the support it can get. The owner, who had taken sailing lessons on a sturdy 32-footer, was a corporate manager, so he liked to delegate duties. He made me responsible for the sails and rigging - yikes! - while my shipmate, a longtime cruiser - would be responsible for anchoring and lots of Med-tie mooring.
We cruised in an area where the local wind usually pipes up to the mid-20s in the afternoon. It was a struggle to convince the owner to reef before we were flat on our ear, and it was almost impossible to get him to use the running backstays. He claimed that they were "in the way". Double yikes! On many occasions I informed him that I wouldn't be responsible if the mast came down unless the running backs were used. I'd put them on, and he'd take them off. This battle went on until he talked to someone with a similar boat, who agreed that he needed to use the running backs.
I agree with Latitude that I shouldn't have been responsible for the rigging since I wasn't the owner or captain. But the owner liked being the boss, he just didn't want to be responsible for any decision that might have gone wrong. It put us crew in a Catch 22 tough spot. After all, delegating can be a way of having someone to blame if something goes wrong. If you think my friend had it better with the anchor, he didn't. Imagine his potential liability!
I'm not really complaining, since crewing on other peoples' boats is the only way I can do so much world cruising, and because everything else about the trip was delightful. But it illustrates the other side of liability - crew liability. I have to admit, this kind of problem has only come up with owners of limited experience. I've never had a problem such as this with a professional skipper, because they are in charge.
I've also seen crew have to replace tools, winch handles and lines they've lost - or caused to be lost - overboard. This is sort of a gray area. But I've also seen crew blamed wrongly. For example, on a different boat on a different ocean, a non-sailor - who followed the owners instructions - was blamed for the main ripping. It was so unfair because the kid had said he didn't have any experience.
Luckily, this stuff doesn't come up on most boats, where everyone is careful with the boat and mindful of safety, and the owners are in charge and understand normal wear and tear. Still, I hope your maritime lawyer will address the issue. As I said before, nothing replaces personal responsibility and good faith, and I would hate to see the legal profession tamper with what I do for leisure.
Mabelle - There's a big difference between an owner telling a crewmember that he/she is financially responsible for something, and that actually being the case. For example, if the rig had come down on the boat, or if the boat had dragged ashore after your shipmate had set the anchor, do you really believe the owner could have successfully sued you - untrained amateur crew - for damages? No way. Not unless you had wantonly and wrecklessly done something to deliberately damage the boat. And even that would be very difficult to prove.
But just for fun, has anybody out there sailing in an amateur capacity been told they had to pay for a torn spinnaker, broken mast, or grounded boat? If so, we'd love to hear about it.
We do know of crew who have replaced
tools or winch handles they've dropped overboard, but always
of their own volition, not because they were told they had to.
The December issue had a thought-provoking article about three boats in the 30-ft range that had chucked their diesels and installed inboard electronic motors with battery banks and generators. I'd like to do the same thing with my 23-ft Beneteau First 235, and junk the outboard. Is this feasible?
For daysails, I only need about 30 minutes of powering to get out of the slip and channel, and then back into the slip. I think I could squeeze four to six batteries around the boat to cover that need. For my rare longer cruises - mostly to Catalina and back - when the wind dies, I'd rather rely on a generator rather than more batteries - even though it wouldn't be very fuel efficient.
I'm thinking a big electric outboard with thrust equivalent to a four to 6 hp outboard would be enough - but I don't know if they exist. How about multiple trolling motors mounted on the stern? Or do I need to go to an electric inboard, like the bigger boats in the December article?
I'm also thinking I might be able to use a stock Honda generator for longer trips. The generator would only be on the boat during cruises - and always in the cockpit. When not making longer trips, I would leave it in the garage. Would that limit damage from exposure to the marine air? What size generator would be needed for an electric motor the equivalent to 6 hp? Would I also need a controller or other electronics?
Finally, once I arrived at a mooring in Catalina, could I plop the electric outboard and a battery into the dinghy, allowing me to get rid of the dinghy's gas outboard, too?
Am I dreaming, or am I nuts? Should I wait for fuel cells? I await advice from the technically savvy.
Bill - Can we get some answers to Bill's questions from those who have firsthand experience with a setup such as he desires?
REPOWERING WITH ELECTRIC MOTORS
It's with great interest that I read the December article about the West Coast tinkerers who have made that great leap of faith and ingenuity by repowering their boats with electric motors. I also read that Latitude was thinking of something similar for their jointly owned plastic classic sailboat. That being the case, I suggest that you take a look at the following website: http://www.solomontechnologies.com/.
The site features a very interesting adaptation of a system invented for Detroit. When the Big Three would have nothing to do with it, the inventors found an alternative use.
I also have considered repowering my outboard-equipped pocket cruiser with an electric, but fear the modifications necessary would cost more than the boat is worth.
As for thinking that repowering Profligate with electric motors wouldn't work, don't be so sure. It has already been done by these people on a somewhat smaller multihull. But enjoy visiting their site. And if you do repower with electric, let me know, as I would love to come along for the maiden voyage.
Don - It's our understanding that the strong point of fossil fuel engines - and the weak point of electric engines - is when you have to go flat out for long periods of time. The overwhelming amount of Profligate's motoring each year is jamming from Puerto Vallarta back to San Francisco Bay, so that's work for a diesel. In addition, since our life is entirely deadline driven, we live in 15-minute increments. So if we're ever going to turn on our engines, we're going to run them flat out so as not to lose any more 'increments' than necessary. That's diesel work, too.
A number of years ago, we owned an Olson
30. After the outboard crapped out, we sailed it for a year or
two without any engine. Because the boat doesn't need much wind,
and because it blows so consistently on San Francisco Bay, it
worked out pretty well. Nonetheless, there were a couple of times
we would have given darn near anything to have had a little electric
trolling motor to just push her a couple of hundred yards to
the next windline. In particular, there was the time at 0200
when we'd just finished doublehanding a wet Midnight Moonlight,
and had to try to use the top of an inspection port as a paddle
to get from Belvedere Point to a windline a couple of hundred
yards away - against a slight current. That was frustration,
as we couldn't do it, and just had to wait. After sailing for
eight wet and cold hours, you don't want to wait an indeterminate
amount of time to get back to the dock, dry clothes, and a warm
Last week over Thanksgiving dinner, I was informed that there was a catamaran that competed in the America's Cup along with keelboats, and that cat was made legal by having keels or something. I've been out of sailing since my sons were born, and I'd like to know where to look for more information on the cat with keels.
Stacy - After the United States won the Cup back from Australia in 1987, Kiwi Michael Fay tried to 'steal' the Cup by forcing the San Diego YC to defend again in '88 - two years before a normal defense and in monster monohulls rather than the 12-Meters that had been used for so long. Fay had a 133-ft, 70,000-pound Farr designed sloop - named New Zealand, but known as 'The Big Boat' - built for the purpose. It's still semi-proudly on display in Auckland.
Fay's legal manuevering pissed off Dennis Conner and the San Diego YC, because that meant they wouldn't have time to do adequate research to design and build a competitive boat. But a judge ruled that Fay's challenge was legal under the Deed of Gift. So the San Diego YC's lawyers read the Deed as carefully as had Fay's, and decided they could legally defend with a 60-ft, 7,000-pound catamaran that featured a rigid sail plan. It had daggerboards just like other racing catamarans, not keels. Even within the San Diego YC, there was much controversy over whether the cat was a case of two wrongs not making a right. But Conner and his honchos stuck to their guns. An incensed Fay got an appropriate karma check when a judge ruled that Conner's cat was legal under the Deed.
A ridiculous best-of-three series was held in San Diego in early September of '88. Conner's cat swept the first two races by margins of 18 and 21 minutes to retain the Cup. One of the things that infuriated some Kiwis is that they felt Conner didn't even try hard. For example, he didn't carry a headsail for the last couple of legs of the last race. All in all, it was a pathetic event that brought no joy to the losers and precious little joy to the victors. The most action almost took place at the press conferences after each race, when the opposing sides came very close to trading blows. To cap off this pimple on the tradition of the America's Cup, once the action was over, Fay returned to court to try to get the cat thrown out. He lost again.
You can read about the debacle in any
history of the America's Cup.
What is up with the Olson 30 website? The old one had great photos on it, but now there is nothing. I'm trying to start a fleet in San Diego, and need photos of the boat for recruitment purposes - but I'm coming up blank. Any advice where I can download a dozen or so photos of Olson 30s?
Dave - Class association websites are only as good as the volunteers that run them, so you may have to pick up the slack. To get you started, here's a photo of Ron Corbin's Still Crazy sailing off Mag Bay in early November. Other folks with good Olson photos - there are tons of them - should contact www.olson30.org to support the class. We owned two Olson 30s, so we obviously think they are a great boat.
WHALING AND WHINING BY THE BAY
In this 150th anniversary year of the publication of Moby Dick, it seems only fitting that the lawyers in San Francisco are citing old whaling law as the precedent for possession of the Barry Bonds' record-setting homerun ball. Herman Melville must be smiling.
Perhaps the judge in the case - if he is a sailor - will have a copy of Moby Dick on the bench opened to Chapter 89, Fast-Fish and Loose-Fish - and will read Melville's citation of the terse law.
"I. A Fast-Fish belongs to the party
fast to it. II. A Loose-Fish is fair game for anybody who can
soonest catch it."
If only Bonds had hit the ball over the right field stands into the brackish waters of the Bay, then the lawyers would rightfully have had a whale of an argument. The real home run is an endangered species.
Paul - That's a wonderful little nugget, thanks for sending it along.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE CAPRIS GONE?
What happened to all the Capri 30s that used to race up and down the West Coast? I understand that 99 of the boats were built by Catalina Yachts during the mid-80s, and they competed against the J/29s, Olson 30s and Santana 30/30s. I would be very interested if anyone has any information on active skippers or when a one-design race may be held. I can be reached at capri3054 at aol.com.
Tom - When it comes to one-design fleets, the rich tend to get richer. And before long, even the rich get overtaken by newer and hotter designs favored by the next generation of sailors. Just for kicks, here's a photo of a Capri. The one in Italy.
After sailing to California from Hawaii more than a year ago, I sent you some photos - they weren't very good - of our Marples 37 trimaran Perpetua with her crumpled mast. We're down here in San Diego now, and just read about another trimaran named Perpetua that's cruising in Mexico. Can it be true that two tris have the same unusual name, or could it be a misprint? Inquiring minds need to know.
Jay and Paulla DeMello-O'Bannon
Jay & Paulla - Inquiring minds should understand that there seem to be more boats around than good names. How else can you explain the fact that Maverick - in a bit of irony - is such a common boat name? Or that there were two Kuipo's in the same division of this year's Ha-Ha? So we're not surprised that there are two multihulls named Perpetua. Personally, we think it would be cool if boats, like race horses, were required to have unique names.
I'll admit to being a bit thick, but even so I thought I would write to ask a few simple questions about The Perfect Run article in your November issue about Steve Fossett's maxi catamaran PlayStation setting a new TransAtlantic record.
1) A "delivery crew"? Had PlayStation just been sailed down from Newport, Rhode Island, or had these guys flown in from Newport Beach, California? And if so, for what purpose?
2) Nantucket Shoals? Why exactly did the WSSRC assume that they would go around it? What is the significance/meaning of, "At the shallowest point - 30 feet - the depth was only half the beam of PlayStation"?
3) VMG? What's this?
Bruno - Those are all fine questions.
1) PlayStation was going to sail the traditional route from New York to the Lizard, but then there was that business at the World Trade Center. So the maxi-cat was moved up to Newport, Rhode Island. After the situation stabilized in New York City, Fossett had the delivery crew bring her back to New York. So yes, she was delivered down from Newport. However, it's also true that guys such as Gino Morrelli and Pete Melvin - who designed the boat - were flown in from Newport Beach, CA, for the crossing.
2) You'd have to ask the WSSRC why they assumed that TransAtlantic boats would sail around the shoals. We presume they figured it was too shallow to be sailed across in rough weather. The significance of the depth of the ocean there being only half the beam of PlayStation is merely to emphasize both how shallow it is there and how big the cat is.
3) VMG stands for 'velocity made good' to a certain mark. If you're broad reaching - as PlayStation did for much of the way across the Atlantic - there is a tremendous temptation to point the boat higher into the wind, as it will increase the apparent wind-speed, and therefore dramatically increase the boatspeed. Alas, if this is overdone, the boat's speed toward the next mark - VMG - as opposed to speed through the water, plummets. Many French multihull sailors are considered to suffer from a penchant for this thrilling but self-destructive habit.
CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION AND CRAP
I read the Executive Director's response to your article on the California Coastal Commission and then your rebuttal. I think Latitude is right on target! I wonder if the Coastal Commission director uses fertilizer on his lawn. Either he does or his gardener does. That stuff flows into our bays and rivers too, and possibly does more damage than we might even imagine. Perhaps serious controls could be drawn up to address this kind of pollution. Maybe a few well-meaning mariners might drop by the Coastal Commission mansion and talk about this important environmental issue with these perpetrators.
Here in Florida, I won't even broach the serious subject of manatees defecating freely into the fresh waters of Florida. They must be stopped! Or at least given a key to some government provided rest stations. Imagine the quantities of effluent! I swim in these waters, you know. Yuck!
Seriously, the waterways in the United States are getting much cleaner, and despite the onslaught of legislation, I think mariners are becoming better stewards. But good sense must prevail, and we can't allow even well-meaning lawmakers to save their phoney baloney jobs by passing unnecessarily burdensome laws on the boating public.
Finally, I must dredge up a corny joke: What is the difference between a good green environmentalist, and an evil environment-destroying developer? The environmentalist already owns their home in the forest, and doesn't want anyone else to move in.
Darryl - We think there is a clear need for government and non-government agencies to take reasonable steps to protect our shores and waters. As long as this is done intelligently and fairly, we support it wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, we think intelligence and fairness are often missing. In too many instances, it seems as though some government and non-government 'environmental' agencies are headed by zealouts driven by hate and envy. Their goal is not so much protecting the environment as it is making life difficult for those who have a legitimate right to commune with it. As such, they are to real environmentalism what Osamma Yo Mamma was to real Islam.
For instance, there are a number of oil rigs along the California coast that are no longer in service. The interesting thing about these rigs is that the bottom of them have become excellent fish habitats. The rigs have to be dismantled, and there are two ways to do it: 1) Completely, which will also destroy the valuable fish habitats, or 2) Dismantled to well below the draft of any ship, allowing the fish habitats to survive.
It disturbs us that if you even suggest this second option to some 'environmentalists', they foam at the mouth. Their real problem with option #2 seems to be that the oil companies might save a little money if they only have to dismantle 80% of the rigs. The loss of a valuable fish habitat doesn't seem to matter to these environmentalists. Hopefully, reason will prevail over zealotry. To us, this means allowing the bottoms of the rigs and the fish habitats to stay in place, but also means getting the oil companies to donate most of the money they saved to the creation of additional fish habitats. Now that we've lost as much as 90% of California's fish habitats, what do you think the California Coastal Commission's position is on this issue?
There's another interesting example from down in Baja. Environmentalists - particularly in the United States - made an enormous stink when Mitsubishi and the Mexican government wanted to build a salt processing plant at Laguna San Ignacio. If you believed the environmentalists, the salt plant would virtually kill off the gray whales - despite the fact that gray whales and another salt processing plant have been co-existing in a nearby lagoon for 50 years.
Personally, we didn't care about the salt plant one way or another, or the fact that such a ruckus was created that Mitsubishi and the Mexican government ultimately pulled the plug on the plant. What concerns us is our suspicion that this really hadn't been about saving the whales or the Baja environment, but about having a grand time villifying a multinational corporation. For if the sealife and environment in the region were really the issue, why would these 'environmentalists' spend so much time and energy on such a comparatively insignificant matter? Not when the entire Sea of Cortez - a phenomenal marine treasure a million times as big and important - is being massacred? This seems particularly odd now that the 'environmentalists' have won the battle of Laguna San Ignacio, for we'd have thought they'd have used the momentum to fight to save the entire Sea.Why haven't they? The cynic in us thinks it's because many 'environmentalists' aren't really motivated by saving the environment, but rather by the opportunity to attack some corporation or government entity. We can't help but believe that the battle would have carried over to the Sea of Cortez if there had only been a Sea of Cortez, Inc, to savage. Such attacks may be emotionally satisfying in a childish way, but in the long run we think they're counterproductive for Mother Nature. Hate, the bumper stickers tell us, shouldn't be a family value. Hate shouldn't be an environmental value either.
COMPLAINT AGAINST STRUCTURES
It is with considerable and ironic amusement that I compare your response to Richard Was-serman's letter regarding the Coastal Commission's Marine Vistas program with your own complaint against the Baja Ad-venture's structures at Bahia Santa Maria - as described in the December issue's Escape To The Cape article. What's up with that?
Will - What's up with that is that the extremely unsightly structures at Bahia Santa Maria would be perfectly acceptable under the Marine Vistas program as it was explained to us. That's because they are too small to be seen from far away. If the Coastal Commission is going to get started on visual issues, we think the yardstick should be quality and blending in, not necessarily mass.
By the way, we want to apologize for
an error, as the structures belong to Island Adventure of Cabo
San Lazaro, not Baja Adventures.
Based on an recent article in Latitude, writer Jim Corenman has some misconceptions about the radios we make. We'd like to correct them:
In comparison to other marine radios on the market, the SG-2000 has the greatest power margin, as well as the fastest switching time. SGC recommends that when running any data communications onboard a vessel, the operator uses 75 watts. With this power output, the user is insured of a more reliable operation without stress on any other element of the boat - including the battery and antenna system. The data capability has a 20db margin over voice conversation, and sometimes the data signal will be buried into the noise and still have a solid connection. One to 3 decibels will not make a difference in the communications. This is true with any radio, and should be emphasized as one of the most important points to any mariner.
In addition, the SG-2000 uses four transistors with a power capability margin of 300 watts, and is self-protected against overheating. Therefore it will not destroy itself. In the 13+ years of manufacturing, there have been very few failures of the power amplifier. And, when installed optimally, the SG-2000 is always the strongest signal on the air.
The best way to adjust the power output of the radio is to set the input level to the radio by observing the output power in a meter connected to a dummy load.
If anyone has any further questions, we'd be happy to answer them.
BANDERAS BAY REGATTA
In the past, you've had wonderful things to say about the Banderas Bay Regatta in Mexico. And that it's free! Any hints on who runs the regatta so I can contact them?
Glenn - The Banderas Bay Regatta is a sensational cruiser's regatta, and the setting and sailing conditions couldn't be more idyllic. You can find complete information - which was only recently posted - at www.banderas-bayregatta.com. The regatta is a little early this year - March 14-17 - to avoid a conflict with Easter. We'll be there for this year's 10th anniversary, and hope you will be, too.
WOULD LIKE TO RETURN THE PFD
How do I find the owner of a boat? A few months back, my son and I were paddling a whimpy inflatable out to join the huge flotilla at Pac Bell Park to pounce on Barry's 73rd home run ball. But the Coast Guard stopped us because I didn't have a PFD. Luckily, a sailboat called Kalamari out of Sausalito loaned me one. But when we left, the boat was nowhere to be found. I want to give it back.
No name - The best way would be to write a more detailed letter to Latitude 38, giving us your name as well as a way to contact you. Meanwhile, if the owner of Kalamari will contact us, we might be able to put you two in touch.
We left San Francisco Bay in September of '97 to join the fourth running of the Ha-Ha. We took along a brand new Pactor II modem, which has served us well for four years. This year, however, it began to have trouble initializing. So we took it to Gary at Farallon Electronics for repair.
After an hour of troubleshooting, Gary finally switched out the main board - virtually making it a new modem - and that solved the problem. Gary's main concern was our satisfaction and a keen interest in trying to diagnose our modems problem so that others wouldn't have a similar disruption in service.
When we asked for our bill, he refused any payment - and promised to keep us informed when they found out what had gone wrong with our Pactor II. Not many places stand behind a product as well as Farallon Electronics and the manufacturer in Germany, so kudos to both of them.
Gary and Judy Williams
Per your request for some juicy stories about the sex life of cruisers . . . some of you may recall that my partner and I met during the '98 Ha-Ha while crewing aboard Mike Hibbets' CT-49 Orion. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that it was a crowded boat and we had to share the V-berth. Or perhaps it was the fact that sex, when it did finally happen, occasionally had us airborne! That makes for an extra exciting time!
When we got back home and committed ourselves to leaving for good after the '99 Ha-Ha, we sailed under the Gate on Jann's boat Saga. But this time things were a bit different. As many cruising couples can tell you, when you're sailing a smaller boat - Saga is an Alberg 35 with a tiller - you rarely get to sleep together. That's the bad part. The good part is that the pent up demand makes for some really good times while at anchor.
Jann and I always look forward to our stops. And since arriving in the warm waters of Mexico, we've taken our loving up on deck. For there's nothing quite like a gentle wind from aft, a full jib, a warm sun, and sex on the foredeck. That's cruising!
We're temporarily stranded in Melbourne, Florida, and can't wait to return to Saga in the spring!
Nancy and Jann
Nancy & Jann - And when you resume
cruising, we can imagine there will be a lot of folks - with
big binoculars - who'll want to buddyboat with you.
You asked if participants in the Ha-Ha had their interest in sex increase on the Ha-Ha. Mine definitely did. Of course, the beach parties - with Jean, Cherie, Susie Ann, the Profligate crew, Samantha, and others - kept a guy's interest up. The full moon and very warm weather on the last night were a great situation - had my wife been there. The conditions were certainly more conducive to romance than up north, where making out in foulies on the night watch can be pretty frustrating. After being on an all-guy boat for two weeks, it was more than nice to be reunited with my wife, who flew down to Cabo for the various parties. Our four days at the Hacienda Resort were memorable.
CHARTER CAT IN THE CARIBBEAN
We're considering buying a 42-foot cat through a charter company, and have a few - but not too many - options of where to base her. Since we don't really know the Caribbean, we thought we would solicit your thoughts on bases. The major options right now are Grenada and St. Lucia. Or should we try and find something else like the British Virgins? A quick background. We've been sailing for 30 years, primarily on the Bay with some coastal cruising on the West Coast. We have a family of five, but our three kids are between two and six. They love sailing - or at least exploring places such as the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
Matt and Linda Dusanic
Matt & Linda - You couldn't go wrong basing a boat in any of those locations, but given your particular circumstances, we'd recommend the British Virgins. First, for charter income. The British Virgins are to bareboat chartering what Las Vegas is to gambling - the place with the most customers and all the necessary support facilities. Second, for maximum enjoyment when you take your family down for vacations. There aren't any long passages in the BVIs, it's flat water and therefore kid-friendly sailing, and there are plenty of places for the young ones to explore and have fun ashore. (Although it's been almost 15 years now, our kids still remember 'discovering' some of Long John Silver's treasure at The Baths.) Third, there are more travel connections to the British Virgins than to St. Lucia or Grenada. The biggest downsides of the British Virgins is that it's so wonderful that it can get quite crowded during high season, and that it's soley an English-based culture.
St. Lucia and Grenada would be more suitable bases if you didn't have kids, as the anchorages are fewer and further apart, and getting anywhere usually involves crossing channels that can sometimes be rough. There are also fewer travel connections. On the other hand, it's less crowded and less pre-packaged cruising, and it's still usually less than 25 miles to the next country and culture. Having a boat based 'Down Island' would be great for when the kids are teenagers.
If it's an option, you also might consider a base in St. Martin. It's easy to get to, there are lots of other countries and cultures within a short distance, and you can change your destination based on the strength of the wind.
We think the concept of having a charter cat in the Caribbean is a great one. In fact, if we ever win the lottery and find ourselves with some free time, we're going to go partners on one and base her out of St. Martin. But given your situation right now, our recommendation would be a base in the British Virgins. In fact, we suggest you pick up a copy of Virgin Anchorages by Cruising Guide Publications, and a couple of handkerchiefs. We've never met a real sailor who didn't drool over the aerial photos of the gorgeous anchorages.
HAULING MULTIHULLS IN MEXICO
My Brown 37 Searunner trimaran is currently in Grenada, and I'd love to move her to Mexico for closer proximity to my home and for corn tortilla cruising. I should say that I'd love to do it provided there is somewhere that I can haul her for a bottom job or for storage on the hard. At issue is her 22 foot beam. Can you direct me to a resource that lists any or all of the facilities - crane, wide Travel-Lift or ways - in Mexico that might be able to handle my beam. The same for Central America. I checked with San Carlos, but got a negative reply. I'm pining for hot corn tortillas.
P.S. I love Latitude!
John - When we motored by the Berkovich Yard outside of La Paz last month, we saw a lot of multihulls hauled out, so we're sure they could take care of you. There are also commercial ways in Mazatlan that could do the job - although we've heard they can be pretty rough and dirty. Anyone have any additional suggestionsin Mexico or in Central America?
We recently bought a beautiful 1978 CT-48 ketch that has teak decks laid on fiberglass over plywood. It leaks. We've called several of the well-known yards in the Bay Area, but we're tired of being told to "rip it off and glass it over". Hello! The teak deck is an integral part of this boat's character, and one of the reasons we bought her.
Do you know of anyone in the Bay Area who understands the priorities here, and who has journeyman competence with such work?
Michael and Eva Pardee
Michael & Eva - The last time we heard of a local yard putting teak decks on a boat was when the Stone Boat Yard in Alameda put them on the 212-foot schooner Adix. The decks were actually made in Florida from templates, then shipped to Alameda for installation. We'd tell you what it cost, but you'd faint. We later sailed aboard Adix in the Caribbean, and those teak decks were wonderful . . . but only for the man for whom money is no object. Indeed, high cost is why all the local yards are trying to discourage you from putting down new teak decks.
But if you insist on trying to get them fixed on a budget, we're told there is a guy in La Paz who has done very satisfactory work at a reasonable price in the past. Can anybody provide us with his name and a method of contact?
YOU CAN PLOT GPS COORDINATES ON THESE CHARTS
Your reply to Don Sandstrom's December letter warning against the use of the old 1873 survey charts - whether on paper or an electronic monitor - was certainly to the point. However, you failed to mention the simple solution to the problem: the Mexican 1:50,000 topo series charts, the only modern survey available of the Sea of Cortez. The charts are the result of a joint U.S. / Mexican aerial survey aided by satellite. You can plot GPS coordinates on these topo charts with confidence.
To date, only three of the offshore islands have been covered at this scale. All of the islands are shown on the 1:250,000 series, but there are slight discrepancies between the two scales. Base datum for the topos is NAD 27, but the difference between this and WGS 84 is too small to measure until you actually enter an anchorage.
FLY THE CANADIAN FLAG?
Given the world situation - and how our own Coast Guard can trample our Constitutional rights - I would consider flying a Canadian flag rather than an American flag. What would you think of that?
Vince - We'd think that you were being impulsive and foolish. First off, the Coast Guard, with the Supreme Court's permission, has been violating mariners' Fourth Amendment Rights - to be free of unreasonable search and seizures - for many years now. You don't yet have one of our bumper stickers yet? And you mean that you're only now - after there has been a most demonstrable change in national security - becoming bothered by it? Your timing couldn't be more backward.
Furthermore, like most Americans we don't have a problem with forgoing a certain amount of our normal civil liberties in return for a greater amount of security. After all, there are obviously serious threats, and what's worse, a bunch of people inconvenienced or offended, or tens of thousands of innocent people getting killed? We're all for civil liberties and civil rights - the first one of them being the right to a reasonable expectation of personal safety.
Lastly, we're proud to fly the American flag from our boat, and are proud to be an American citizen. God knows the United States has flaws - we write abut them all the time - but perhaps you'd like to nominate a country that has, on the whole, treated its citizens or other countries more fairly or more generously.
KEEL ATTACHMENT MEANT TO BE WEAKEST POINT
Much ado has been made about Oracle Racing's
second keel mishap, and how it reflects on the problems of high-tech
racing boat design. But it strikes me that both US49 and US61
were almost perfectly designed. Yacht designers are fond of saying
that the perfect America's Cup boat would disintegrate minutes
after the finish of the final race, because if it were built
any stronger, it would have been heavier than necessary. I suspect
that the keel attachment is deliberately engineered to be the
weakest point. Imagine what would occur if you had a major structural
failure anywhere else on the boat, and still had 20,000 pounds
of depleted uranium - or whatever they're using as ballast these
days - attached to the boat. (Hint: OneAustralia.)
William - We'll pass your thoughts along to John Sweeney, the only guy who owns three IACC boats in Northern California. By the way, the notion of designing a boat just strong enough to make it across the finish line before falling apart is fantasy, because it presupposes knowing how many preliminary races there will be, and how rough the sailing conditions are. Technology isn't there yet, so designers try to include reasonable margins of error. Obviously, they haven't always been successful in their calculations - or the boats haven't been built to spec.
ONE OF THE NICEST, UP-FRONT, DECENT GUYS
Thanks for running the Sightings piece on Anthony Wiese's recent cruising adventure - and his 'run-in' with the FBI in Ventura Harbor. Perhaps it should be mentioned that the undercurrent for the entire story is that Anthony is one of the most honest, up-front, decent guys that one would ever expect to meet. He doesn't drink alcohol or coffee, and would rather play Jimmy Buffet songs on his guitar or go salsa-dancing than get involved with any nefarious activity.
There was never a clearer example of the 'authorities' getting the wrong man - all due to the fact that a guy named Mohamed had his name on the boat's papers. I wasn't rolling on the floor when he first told me about it, I was stunned in wide-eyed amazement. In all fairness, I can see the authorities' decision to follow up: there were just too many coincidences related to recent events. Heck, if you made them all up, nobody would have believed it. I'd be laughing if the world hadn't suddenly grown so much colder. New world order, indeed.
By the way, the website address for Anthony's adventures and his quest for La Independencia is 'www.dayoff.net' - not dayoff.com, as was reported.
HIS ATTITUDE WAS AN INSPIRATION
In a recent issue, I read that Canadian cruiser Bob Medd had been attacked by panga fishermen in the Sea of Cortez, and had lost his Aloha 34, TLC.
In May of last year, I was helping my friend Pieter Kokelaar deliver Lady K from Mexico to L.A., and we anchored in Mazatlan harbor near TLC, and met Bob. Along with some crews of other boats, we threw an impromptu party at the yacht club. In an unguarded moment, I asked Bob what made him sail nonstop and singlehanded from Canada to Mexico.
He slowly placed his beer can on the table, and stared into the distance. "My dad died. A month later my mother died. Then my sister died, and a few months later my wife died. I lost all of them in less than a year." He paused and my heart sank. But, sensing my feelings, he smiled reassuringly as though this was the first time he'd been able to talk about his pain. "I sold my business and my house, and filled the tanks of the boat that my wife had loved so much, and headed south. I had no plans or expectations, it was just TLC and me."
It's heartbreaking to hear that Medd was subsequently attacked and lost his boat. Pieter and I hope that life is kinder and more gentle to him from now on. His attitude was an inspiration. He had no self-pity, but took life as it came, and was helpful. We wish him fair winds and happy landfalls.
Lyn - If you read the November issue, you're probably aware that many cruisers who know Bob Medd don't believe his story. The problem is that much of it is factually untrue. For example, his wife - actually ex-wife - did not die of cancer, as he told you and many others. Secondly, every time Medd was asked how much the fisherman stole, he came up with different amounts, from $10,000 to $100,000 in cash. And if he had so much cash aboard his boat, why did he borrow $200 in cash from Ken Mayer just before he set sail?
In addition, no less than two couples have told us that Bob Medd told them he - not his brother - was dying of pancreatic cancer. He told one couple that he hadn't informed his family or the guy he was buddyboating with. He told the other couple that when it became too much, he was going to kill himself and let the boat sail away. Nobody knows for sure, but it appears that's what he may have tried.
There are two tragedies. The first, of course, is that Medd is apparently very ill and having troubling coping with it. For this, he deserves our sympathy, and we hope he gets some counseling. The second is that - for reasons we'll probably never know - Medd attempted to frame Mexican panga fishermen for what appears to be a botched suicide attempt. We find this as inexcusable as it is inexplicable.
After the alleged attack on Bob Medd of TLC, there has been a lot of talk about Mexican pangeros - pangas fishermen - and how they can be dangerous in the way they manuever their pangas near gringo boats. Although this may be the case on rare occassions, I can assure you that this is not the norm. I have just returned from a 2,000-mile circumnavigation of the Baja Peninsula, where I had to deal with pangas and fishermen along the entire Baja coastline. I cannot count the number of times these kind men helped me on my trip. From helping me Med-moor in Bahia Tortugas, fixing my Yamaha 40 outboard when it stopped running, and helping me replace a prop that became damaged en route. These guys are generous and warm human beings. As with anything else in life, it is important not to generalize. These pangeros helped make my trip of a lifetime an event I will never forget.
CALIFORNIA OR NEVADA
In Letters, you indicated that many states require federally documented vessels to also be registered with a state. Could you tell me if that applies to either California or Nevada? I have a documented - but unregistered - vessel in each of these states, and no one has ever asked me about registration.
Name Withheld For Obvious Reasons
N.W. - If your boat is federally documented, you do not need state registration in California or in Nevada.
In response to the letter from Viva in the July 2001 issue regarding the problem with trying to check into Martinique when the boat is registered to a state as opposed to being documented, we have an even more bizarre story. And it has to do with the United States.
While in transit from northern Florida to Cuba in 1999, we anchored at Venice, Florida. As we were anchoring, we noticed a Florida Marine Patrol boat circling us and giving us the eye. As soon as we were settled, the Marine Patrol approached us and asked us where our state registration sticker was. We told the officer that we didn't have state registration because we were a federally documented vessel. The officer then informed us that documented or not, we needed state registration to operate our vessel in Florida. And he wrote us a warning ticket.
Not believing that this could be true, I went to the library and went over Florida statutes regarding boat registration. After spending several hours going through the regulations, it did indeed appear that a federally documented vessel could not be operated in Florida waters without a current registration from some state.
Still thinking this could not possibly be true, I wrote to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles asking for a clarification. I received a response from the Chief of the Bureau of Vessel Titles and Registrations, who stated that a federally documented vessel could not be legally operated in Florida waters - for even one second - without a current state registration. At that time, Florida was claiming state jurisdiction for three miles into the Atlantic and the Straits of Florida, and nine miles into the Gulf of Mexico.
It cost us about $200 a year to register our documented boat in Florida - and we paid because we wanted to be legal as we passed through Florida. Prior to returning to Florida, we registered our boat in North Carolina, which only cost $20 for three years.
Since then, we have discussed the matter with cruisers having federally documented vessels based in Texas, and have learned that the state of Texas refuses to issue state registration to any federally documented vessel!
Martinique sounds a lot better than Florida to us.
Harry Gorman and Melva Frost-Gorman
Harry & Melva - Does it remind you of Mexico or what, where the same law is interpreted differently everywhere you go?
For what it's worth, we had Big O in Florida twice for periods between one and three months. We didn't have any state registration, and nobody ever asked for it. If they did, we might have left on general principle.
JESSICA CUP BLUNDERS
I just picked up the November issue of Latitude and noticed a photo supposedly of our schooner, Barbara, Marconi-1, supposedly leading the charge in the Gaff Division of the Jessica Cup. It was nice to see Barbara mentioned, but that wasn't her in the photo, and we actually weren't near any other boats that day.
Thanks to engine trouble, we'd just barely made it to the starting line. Then five minutes before the start, my dad and I had to go below to work on a leak in the drive shaft, so we got the course wrong. We took off to Yellow Bluff, while everybody else took off for Blackaller. Suffice it to say, we never got close enough to be photographed with another boat for the rest of the day.
By the way, since the engine wasn't working, we sailed straight home after the finish to beat the ebb. My dad did a great job of docking her without a reliable engine, as he slowly drifted into the dock under momentum only.
The Jessica Cup is a great race, since it gives us a chance to beat up the Cityfront. And there was a good turnout this year, too. Thanks for your great coverage of both the Master Mariners and the Jessica Cup.
Ron - Oops.
BORING TO LIFE-THREATENING IN FIVE MINUTES
I'm a sailing instructor at OCSC in Berkeley and want to share a near-death incident that happened recently. I was doing a regular afternoon Bay Review with three students - Magdalena Yesil, Amy Slater, and Katie Hope - aboard. For two windless hours we'd been slowly motoring, practicing reefing and unreefing. Finally, the wind blew strong enough for us to barely sail. While in the vicinity of the 'X' buoy - about two miles from shore - Katie spotted a dinghy capsizing. We came about and were on the scene within three minutes.
We found a man and a woman in the water, holding onto their upset dinghy, each with one arm through a Type 2 PFD. There was a lot of gear floating in the water, so I brought our J/24 to a stop to leeward - the opposite of our regular Overboard Recovery training - because I did not want to drift down and get entangled in all the flotsam. The woman immediately grabbed hold of our cockpit gunwale, and Amy and I were able to pull her aboard. We drifted away while struggling to get her onto the deck, so we had to maneuver back to reach the man and pull him aboard.
We got the two victims below, out of most of their wet clothes, and wrapped them in spare sails. Magdalena and Amy pulled down the jib, then we motored back in. Max and the OCSC office staff took great care of the unfortunate sailors from there on. David Gatton, another instructor just finishing work, and I went back out in the Club's Boston Whaler to retrieve the dinghy. In the 30-40 minutes that had elapsed since the capsize, the ebb had carried the dinghy about a quarter of a mile toward Alcatraz. We were able to gather all the gear, get the dinghy in tow, and return it all to Berkeley.
I learned four lessons from the incident:
1) Conditions can change very quickly. For these two people, the sail went from boring to life-threatening in about five minutes.
2) It's hard to pull someone out of the water and up onto the deck of a boat. We were on a J/24, which has low freeboard, and it was still very hard to lift them out. If you cannot get someone aboard very quickly, at least get them attached to the boat.
3) The current had a much greater effect than the wind on the drift of the boat. The wind had come up to 57 knots from the west, and the current in that area was less than half a knot. With only their heads and a small part of the dinghy's gunwale above water, there was very little windage, so the current easily carried them upwind. This is something to remember if you ever have to search for someone.
4) Even though they were only two miles from shore, with so little showing above the water, they might not have been seen if we hadn't happened by. Those boaters were indeed very lucky!!
Capt. Ray H. Wichmann
Capt. Ray - We think those sailors should have had a VHF in a watertight bag. The cold water of the Bay is a killer.
THE EDITOR IS AN IDIOT
Here we go again! I can barely read the Letters for fear of what the editor is going to latch onto.
First, it was the Coast Guard - until the editor realized that he was looking like an idiot attacking an agency that about 97% of the boating public liked. He explained his sudden change of attitude by suggesting that the Coast Guard had somehow suddenly changed as a result of Latitude's endless screeds. This is complete B.S.
Then it was the BCDC. Again the editor went off halfloaded, with about 30% of the information he needed, and the other 70% flawed. For god's sake, if it weren't for the BCDC and the Coastal Commission, San Francisco Bay and the California coast would be trashed, and Latitude would be full of letters and editorials complaining why nobody did anything! But now, suddenly everything between the editor and the BCDC is fine. Just a little misunderstanding cleared up in Executive Director Will Travis' office. Complete B.S.! You call that journalism?
Now it's the California Coastal Commission. Again, Herr editor has an incomplete understanding of the issues and facts. Predictably, he will back down when someone tells him the truth, and he realizes that once again, he has made an ass of himself and Latitude.
Latitude is a great publication that I've read cover to cover for 15 years. As a great publication with a devoted readership, it has the power to do great things, to take on important issues, to do real journalistic work - not just pop off in response to a letter from some crackpot Richardson Bay anchor-out who knows that you'll print anything, and then backing down when the boys and girls with real facts and real positions confront you. How about a real series on water contamination in the Bay? How about an indepth series on the funding problems plaguing public agencies in California? Or do you just go after easy targets - public agencies and employees - because you are afraid of taking on issues that may offend your advertisers? Judging from the exploding beam of your magazine - which resembles a West Marine catalog in weight - losing a few would do you good.
Keep up the good work, but put a muzzle on the editor. The odor is beginning to drift down the coast, and it ain't pleasing.
Darius - We can tell you some dramatic ways in which the Coast Guard has changed. Specifically, they no longer follow the infamous 'zero intelligence' policy; they no longer board cruising grandparents four times in one month for 'safety inspections'; and within certain obvious limitations, they try to view recreational mariners as customers rather than the enemy. Instead of being distant and remote, they have - at least in this district - become extremely accessible. When we used to call the Coast Guard, it was like something out of Kafka. We can now call the Group Commander, and he's happy to hear from us and help us out. And when we put on Crew List Parties, the Coast Guard has shown up with all kinds of resources - from boats to helicopters to manpower - and put on terrific rescue demonstrations. The Commander of Group San Francisco usually shows up to chat with anyone and everyone. The Coast Guard once had a golden reputation, sullied it, but in our estimation it now enjoys its best reputation ever. And deservedly so.
The Coast Guard has changed a lot. Can you cite ways in which our thoughts on Coast Guard issues have changed?
We can also list some dramatic changes in the BCDC. When Alan Pendleton was the Executive Director, the thought of placing mooring buoys was akin to filling in the Bay. When we suggested installing mooring buoys in the lee of Angel Island and in Richardson Bay to current Executive Director Will Travis, he responded by saying, "That sounds like a good idea to me." The BCDC used to have a relatively strict definition of a liveaboard. Will Travis has since said that as long as a boatowner has another address, he/she can stay aboard their boat as much as they want and the BCDC won't consider them a liveaboard. Like the Coast Guard, the BCDC has become much more accessible. Just the other day Will Travis sent us an email just to say hello and ask how we were doing.
Those are three major changes in policy on the part of the BCDC. Can you name an instance in which our thoughts on BCDC issues have changed?
We still disagree with the Coast Guard over a few minor issues, and we still disagree with the BCDC over a couple of major issues, but we think an objective person would say that they've come over to our positions much more than vice versa. Whether Latitude had anything to do with it, we have no idea. But we can tell you that Capt. Larry Hall, former Commander of Group San Francisco, insisted that Latitude articles and opinions were carefully read in Washington, D.C.
As for the California Coastal Commission and Executive Director Peter Douglas, we're just getting started. Maybe we don't know what we're talking about, but maybe we have some worthwhile questions to ask. Douglas has been good enough to invite us over, but we haven't yet had the time to take him up on it. Something for the new year.
As for your proposing that we do all these in-depth series, you obviously have no idea how small Latitude and its staff really is.
WHAT IS GOING ON IN SAN FRANCISCO MARINA?
Do you have any information on what happened at San Francisco Marina a few months back? A column in The Chronicle reported that the harbormaster was basically fired for trying to extort a couple's boat from them.
For instance, the columnist wrote that an elderly couple who owned a powerboat in the marina let the harbormaster stay aboard when he was first hired, but when they later refused to sell the boat to him, he took some parts off the boat to incapacitate it. I think there was going to be litigation, but maybe it was settled out of court after he was fired by the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department.
It seems to me this is the gossipy kind of story you often love to put in the Sightings section, but for some reason you haven't. I know you like a challenge, but do you mind addressing the issue - which I think indirectly involves one of your largest advertisers? As far as I know, the boatyard did nothing wrong, but is that why the piece didn't run? You're not getting soft, are you?
Please print my name and email address, I would like to hear from anyone who knows anything more.
On another topic, has anyone heard of plans by boatowners or marine businesses to boycott the Berkeley Marina because of the City Council's resolution against the war on the Taliban? A friend of mine who works at the Radisson Hotel in the marina tells me that there has been a big drop in business because of that.
As for Berkeley, apparently some people are boycotting businesses in that city because of its stance on events in Afghanistan, but we're not aware of any such plans on the part of boatowners or marine businesses.
Don't take this the wrong way, but you sound like someone who might have a little too much time on your hands. Forget the gossip and do something productive - like going sailing.
I just bought a repo Coronado 34. Do you have any info on clubs or how I can get an owner's manual or other information on the boat?
Ernie - Folks who buy old boats - the Coronado 34, which featured 6'4" headroom, was built from '70 to '74 - are always asking us where they can find manuals. To our knowledge, there never were any manuals - except for the components such as the engine, pumps, stove and that kind of stuff. What are you expecting?
For folks looking for old brochures or owners of sisterships, we always suggest the search engine Google. For example, after typing in 'Coronado 34' - which directed us to www.concentric.net/~Cs-cb/Sailing/ - we found a little bit of information on all the Coronados ever built. It even had a copy of the original brochure with line drawings and the basic specs, as well as a Coronado 34 guy you could email. The Coronado 34 sight had been hit almost 1,400 times since '97, so obviously there are still people out there who care about the boats. Good luck.
A STOUT BOAT WITH HEADROOM
In the September Letters, Brian Mitchell wrote about trying to find the maximum headroom and bunk size in a boat under 40 feet. In the late '70s and early '80s there was a fellow named Fales who built the Fales Explorer and the Fales Navigator. He was tall, so the 38-footer had 6'5" inch headroom and a long V-berth. She was a ketch, well laid out for cruising, and appears to have been well-built.
In January of '99, I sailed a Fales 38 across the Gulf of Mexico with owners Jim Williams and Cynthia Gillette. During the 800-mile trip, we were hit by a Norther with winds blowing 35 and gusting to 40. The Fales handled the conditions well under a reefed mizzen and staysail, while being driven through the rough seas at six knots by the Monitor windvane. I found her to be well-balanced, comfortable and strong. Ironically, the boat's name is Latitude - and she sailed as though she had an attitude! She is currently on the East Coast with several sisterships.
While in Houston, I watched a couple named Ed and Glenna prepare a sistership named Meridian for cruising. The 38s are not going to win many races, but they have the interior volume typical of most 40-footers. Glenna did a wonderful job with Meridian's interior. The couple then took their no nonsense, stout cruiser to the Bahamas and the Chesapeake.
We're currently cruising the west coasts of central and South America - having left the Houston area for the second time in '99 - aboard our Cape Dory 40 cutter. By the way, we think Latitude is the best sailing rag published. We always ask the other cruisers in each new anchorage if they have the latest issue, and somehow one always turns up.
Will La Fleur and Ann Gauntt
RIDICULOUSLY SHORT SEASON
In a recent issue, letter writer Ray Durkee wrote that the cruising season in Maine was "ridiculously short - they finish putting boats in the water around the Fourth of July, and start taking them out after Labor Day".
I must disagree. Yes, there are people who do not put their boats in until almost the Fourth of July and haul soon after Labor Day. But then there are people such as myself, who launch by May 1 and don't haul until November. That's almost a seven month season. And since we use our boat at least twice a week, I often think that we use our boats more than people who keep theirs in the water year 'round. As for Maine, I have heard of people who cruise from mid-May through the end of October.
Tom - Our Racing Editor, who is from your neck of the woods, cruised around Massachusetts Bay in early October the last two years. He says, "You're playing dice with the weather at that time of year, even as far south as Boston. It can be beautiful Indian Summer, but it's just as likely to be raw, rainy and miserable. No wonder we didn't see many other pleasure boats out!"
Nonetheless, we wouldn't be surprised if you don't sail more than lots of folks who can keep their boats in the water all year. For as in many other parts of life, denial is often a major stimulant. Just ask all the soldiers who 'hit one out of the park' the night before shipping out for Afghanistan.
FATHER AND SON - AND 50 YEARS OF JUNIORS
There was a mistake in last month's Letters because my father and I had the same last name.
My dad, Dick Loomis, was the Harbormaster at Clipper Yacht Harbor in Sausalito for about 18 years. He passed away about 3.5 years ago following knee replacement surgery. He was very active sailing RC sailboats with his sailing buddies. He passed on his love of sailing to me and his grandkids - my son Jeff and daughter Kelly. His most active racing days were in the '50s and early '60s aboard Theo Stephens' Farallone Clipper Debit. They raced that boat in the '55 and '59 TransPac, and did very well.
However, it was I, Dick Loomis the son, who in addition to writing you the recent letter, was the co-director of the Richmond YC Junior Program for a few years in the mid '90s. But thanks for the kind words about my dad. He always spoke highly of you, too. And yes, he did know you were living aboard your Bounty II when you started Latitude 38. I spent my high school years either pumping fuel at the fuel dock, painting the Clipper docks a light blue, or working at Anderson's Yard. Fond memories.
My facts on Cayard are a little fuzzy. I know that Will Paxton used the boom off Paul's El Toro for a lot of years. Paul's good friend Kenny Keefe would know for sure.
As for the Richmond YC being the 'farm club' for the St. Francis YC, those of us at the Richmond YC always take pride in the achievements of our juniors - no matter what club they ultimately represent. It's remarkable how many kids from Bay Area yacht clubs have filtered through the Richmond program. While they might go on to represent other clubs, we at the Richmond YC know how they got started. By the way, 2001 is the 50th anniversary year of the program. We must be doing something right.
Dick Loomis (the son)
A SMALL PIECE OF MISSING HISTORY
I've been looking for information on the Acorn class of wooden sloops. They were designed by James DeWitt, Sr. in about 1934. If anyone can help me find one, please contact me at 332-2510.
Michael - Have you tried Jim DeWitt? You can reach him - between brush strokes - at (510) 236-1401.
HAVEN'T SAILED ON THE BAY FOR A YEAR
I haven't sailed on wonderful San Francisco Bay for over a year now. And until today, I hadn't seen a Latitude in about four months. Now that I have, I remember San Francisco Bay sailing, and I miss it!
Readers - Dave Vickland was a yacht
broker at Farallone Yacht Sales in Alameda and an active sailor
for many years on San Francisco Bay.
I've been meaning to write for a long time, and regret that it has taken a tragedy involving friends to get me off my ass.
Based on information - mostly secondhand - from several ham operators, in late July of last year, four boats left the Chagos Archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean for Mayotte in the Comores. They all ran into rough weather and had problems.
One of the four boats was Rick and Paula's Leviathan from San Diego. Sorry, but I don't have their last names. We met them in Puerto Vallarta in '98, and later on in the Marquesas, and finally at Tahaa in the Society Islands.
In any event, after the four boats ran into extreme weather in the Indian Ocean, one boat broke its rudder, another broke its boom, and Leviathan set off their 406 EPIRB. Their signal was received in Toulouse, France, on August 6. Toulouse forwarded the emergency information to Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean that same day. I'm not sure what country was responsible for search and rescue operations as I don't know exactly where the EPIRB was set off, but it had to be the Seychelles, Madagascar or Reunion.
For whatever reason, no search was begun for 11 days, at which time the U.S. Navy, at the request of the U.S. Coast Guard, flew over the area. Leviathan's EPIRB transmitted for six days before the battery presumably ran out, so by the time the Navy started looking the signal had been silent for five days. I'm also told that there was a broadcast asking ships in the area to keep a lookout for a yacht in distress.
It sounds to me as though the 406 EPIRB worked as advertised, but what didn't work was the Search and Rescue organization that EPIRB was supposed to alert. All the countries mentioned are signatories of the SOLAS GMDSS agreement. But obviously they can't - or don't want - to honor their obligations as per the international agreement. So your 406 EPIRB is only as good as the response organization where you set it off.
On another subject, I completed an 18-year circumnavigation with my modified Tahiti ketch Toloa in '93, crossing my outbound track off Cocos Island, Costa Rica. It took a long time because I didn't have any money and therefore had to work along the way. While in Australia, I met Anne, who is now my wife. I'm originally from Alameda, but Anne and I now live in Australia. While back in Alameda in '95, we bought High Roler, an IOR racer. We then took her to Mexico, where we converted her into a cruising boat. Quite a change, from a Tahiti Ketch to a 46-foot aluminum race boat. But we've become believers in 'fast is fun'.
By the way, I think you still owe us a T-shirt for winning a contest you ran back in 1983 for whoever dropped a bottle in the water and had it travel the longest distance. I dropped one in at halfway between Mexico and Polynesia, and it ended up at Thursday Island, Australia.
KEEPING THE OLD GIRLS ALIVE
I was extremely relieved to discover that Flirt, the historical Charles Mower sloop, is in the process of a restoration. Flirt became a part of my history in 1983 when I purchased her from Diane and Jerry Brenden. Although I only owned Flirt for six years, it seemed like forever because of the impact she had on my life and outlook. I kept Flirt in Sausalito Yacht Harbor on the same pier as the Taj Majal and the Wooden Shoe houseboats - and some colorful characters.
I have vivid memories of those days. I had just graduated from college in Santa Barbara and had moved to San Francisco to find a place where I could start a career. Owning Flirt - which I lived aboard for four years - permitted me to establish a precedent of living a different lifestyle. My wife and I met and married when I lived aboard. Although our firstborn sailed aboard Flirt when just days old, rolling back and forth like a wine bottle on the bunk, having kids ultimately put an end to the boat also being a home.
I weathered the flooding and storms of 1983-'84 aboard Flirt and loved it. She was solid and gave me a feeling of security during those unforgettable long nights. Nor will I forget the ice on the dock in January, or those balmy summer days of swimming in the harbor and socializing with other liveaboards. Our memories of trips aboard Flirt up the Petaluma and Napa rivers, as well as Master Mariner races and boat shows, are on video, film, and paper - but mostly live on in fond memories.
The '80s were memorable days in Sausalito's maritime history, as there was a strong wooden boat revival. And the liveaboard neighborhood was really special. I remember the other liveaboards I used to shave next to each morning as we prepared for work. But there was also the closer circle of owners of wooden boats, who were always swapping ideas about restorations, races, and boat shows, and it seemed as if there were always parties.
The classic boat shows were perfect peer pressure events to keep us owners laboring for hours, days, and months to insure that our boats stayed in top condition. My last-minute varnish and paint jobs were always drying as observers were invited aboard for the start of the shows! During each show, countless people would stop aboard to tell me how they had learned to sail aboard Flirt - often times many, many years before.
The Wander Bird was relaunched and went sailing during that period, momentous events all. Major projects continued on her and Freda. During the early '80s, I remember stumbling across the state ship Californian as she was being built on the shores of San Diego Bay. Later the Californian showed up in the Bay Area to strut her stuff with the original Pride of Baltimore and Wander Bird. Those were truly wonderful times that offered wonderful photo opportunities!
There are darker but equally vivid memories associated with Flirt - the nightmare of big maintenance bills and being financially challenged. I always hoped for relatively inexpensive haulouts, but they seemed to go on forever - especially the time I discovered that all the frames forward of the chainplates needed replacement. Initially I felt panic, but then I learned to really understand the concept of commitment. I also learned how to work harder to earn the money necessary to keep Flirt in top condition. I learned to be resourceful, and how to borrow things I didn't really need to buy. In addition, I learned how to do much of the work myself - such as steam bending frames using a homemade steam box - and began collecting the specialized tools that the owner of a wooden boat needs. Fortunately, I had lots of help, from the Lindermans, father and son. I also got lots of free and frequent advice from friends such as Tom List, Charlie Parker, Jerry and Diane Brenden, and from Flirt's builder, Ralph Flowers.
Ralph always seemed to mysteriously show up at haul out time to poke at his baby with an ice pick, forever testing every last one of the original Port Orford cedar planks. As he did, he would tell me detailed stories of how he built each individual part of the boat on the shores of the Napa River during his free time. That was way back in 1914! He remembered all the details, such as where they found the wood, what foundries were used for fasteners and such. He could keep me captive for hours with his stories. He passed away in 1988, I believe.
We all did major projects on Flirt. Besides the re-framing, I repowered the boat with a little two-cylinder Volvo with zero hours that we found at the West Marine Swap meet. She arrived at just the right time, for the old Gray Marine - a too big and none-too-reliable powerplant for the boat - finally rusted through. Dennis Ritchie came running down the dock the same day that Gray died to report that someone was selling a pair of brand new Volvo engines at the swap meet, and that I should grab one of 'em. We dock neighbors were always looking after each other like that.
Our 'neighborhood' sparkled with colorful characters and character boats. Peter Sutter was a pleasant neighbor for years, as was Annie Sutter. Lyn and Larry Pardey's original Bristol Channel Cutter Serrafyn was side-tied just aft of us in the channel, and was the first thing I saw each morning - along with the sunrise over Angel Island and through the rigging of the Wander Bird. Another neighbor in the harbor was Sterling Hayden's Stornaway, which was home to his son Dana, and his family, during that period.
Flirt will live on to inspire others. She was a very special find, and continues to deserve a place in history. As can be seen in books like Sausalito, Moments in Time, and other books with photos of the waterfront at the turn of the century, there used to be hundreds of boats like Flirt and Freda anchored around the Bay. The surviving boats show evidence of a string of passionate owners who didn't allow the deterioration of time to take these monuments away from us all. Cheers to those keeping the old girls alive!
Pete - Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Ralph Flowers, now there's a name that brings a smile to our face!
HI-HO, LET'S SAIL TO HILO
If any Latitude readers participated in the Long Beach to Hilo sail aboard the tallship Californian - owned by the Nautical Heritage Society - last June, and would be willing to share some of their experience and wisdom with a prospective crewmember for this year's trip, please write or call Jim Crowell at (503) 3827126.
SHE SAVED MY BOAT
A toast to Ann Hardinger, Harbormaster of the Berkeley Marina. She saw the flames and saved my Kettenburg 47 from total destruction with the trusty fire hose, for which I wish to publicly offer my gratitude. Her talents were impressive to behold and her response to my thanks was: "It's my job."
Thanks for everything Ann. Luff ya.
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