Back to "Letters" Index
FRESH WATER WITHOUT A WATERMAKER
In last month's issue of Latitude, you wrote that Frenchman Philippe Jeantot ran out of fresh water during a BOC singlehanded around-the-world race a number of years ago, but was able to make enough to end up with 35 pints to spare. He didn't have a watermaker, and the article didn't say how he had made the water.
Since this renowned sailor happened to have his boat right in front of ours for almost a year in Mooloolaba, Australia, and I'd spent quite a few wonderful afternoons talking about his life and the great cruising lifestyle, I emailed him and asked how he made water. Here's what he had to say:
"Yes, you are right, in the first leg of the BOC between Newport and Cape Town, I ran out of water because a weld broke on my aluminum water tank. So I had to steam salt water. I did it with my pressure cooker. It works pretty well. And it's useful as well for cooking, being much faster than a normal pan. We still carry one onboard."
Max - This is a little odd, but none of the editorial staff can remember writing anything recently about Philippe Jeantot running out of water during a BOC. But we're glad you brought his name up, because he's one of the greats in the realm of long distance shorthanded ocean racing, and we'd like to remind everyone of his achievements.
Jeantot used to be a deep sea diver who is said to hold the record for the deepest dive - 501 meters. After reading Bernard Moitessier's La Longue Course (The Long Way), he started to learn to sail in daysailers. He then built a 44-ft aluminum ketch in which he planned to do a nonstop solo circumnavigation. While learning to sail the ketch, he heard about the first BOC Challenge - a singlehanded around the world race with stops. Obtaining sponsorship from Credit Agricole, he built a new boat, and won the first race in a time of 159 days. The next year he singlehanded Credit Agricole II, a 60-ft catamaran, in the OSTAR, flipping the cat in the middle of the Atlantic. After recovering the cat, he raced her in the Quebec-St. Malo Race, and in the process becoming the first man to sail 500 miles in 24 hours. He did the '86/87 BOC Challenge with a new monohull and won in a time of 134 days.
Philippe then organized the Globe Challenge, a nonstop singlehanded race around the world, for '89/90. He finished fourth in 113 days - still an excellent time. Later that year, he started his third BOC Challenge, and finished third in 129 days. Having become the first man to complete four singlehanded circumnavigations, he retired from racing to look after his boatbuilding company, Jeantot Marine, builders of Privilege catamarans. He later sold his interest in the company, built himself a custom 48-ft cat, and has since spent many years cruising with his wife and children, most recently in Australia and Southeast Asia. Once Jeantot gave up racing, he became a rather private person.
NEVER HIRE A KIWI, THEY CAN'T BE TRUSTED
Sitting here in New Zealand for nearly a year has demonstrated one thing to me - New Zealand is afraid of OneWorld making it to the America's Cup. They have planted no less than two people on the design and decision team of the OneWorld Syndicate, and each has, at the appropriate time, remembered things about how they cheated by bringing computer files of Team New Zealand's design to OneWorld meetings, even though OneWorld neither used, nor even knew about, these plans or documents.
Now the OneWorld syndicate has been penalized again, just in time to give Prada another bonus point. It's obvious that Team New Zealand does not think they can beat OneWorld fair and square, and so they have stacked the deck, hoping that they can again defend the America's Cup against Prada - a team which doesn't have a chance of beating New Zealand.
The disgraceful way that New Zealand has run the Cup this year should be remembered by all Americans as a reason to never hire a person from New Zealand. They can't be trusted. Perhaps all the U.S. teams should have pulled out of the America's Cup.
My other comment is that Dennis Conner is not only a sorry loser, he's not a real American either. He was probably bought off by Prada also.
The new name for Auckland is WhucaOneWorld - pronounced 'Fuck-a-OneWorld' in Maori.
Please do not print my name, as I am just an observer of this mess. I'm just disgusted that I won't be able to see a really good race.
N.W. - Thank you for your insightful analysis of the recent America's Cup intrigue. But don't you now wonder about the rest of the shameful conspiracy? Russell Coutts and Brad Butterworth, Kiwis who are the mainstays of the Swiss Alinghi Syndicate that is favored to meet New Zealand for the America's Cup itself, have also been bought off. That's right, come the first race of the America's Cup and those Kiwis will be taking the Swiss suckers for a dive. The idea that Coutts and Butterworth ever really left the New Zealand Team for the Swiss Team was a fraud from the outset. They didn't turn their backs on their country, they just pretended to, so that at a crucial time - the America's Cup Finals - they could sabotage the Kiwi's stiffest competition. We've saved the best for last. The dastardly double-cross is the work of Osama bin Laden, who got the money to finance it from the Saudi monarchy, which got it from cavalier Americans who drive SUVs that get such shitty gas mileage. You read it here first.
WHAT ABOUT LE DEFI?
I'm just back from Auckland and the Viaduct Basin, where the America's Cup challengers are based. Speaking of environmental controversies, the locals were more upset with the French boat Le Defi Areva than OneWorld. The Kiwis, who have a strong nuclear-free stance, certainly haven't forgotten that about 15 years ago the French government sent some agents to Auckland with instructions to blow up Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior. They did, and killed one of the environmentalists in the process. The French were infuriated at Rainbow Warrior because it had been up in French Polynesia interfering with their nuclear testing at Mururoa.
When it was learned that this year's French entry was going to be funded by the backbone of the French nuclear industry, a lot of environmentalists got angry. And what really added fuel to the fire is that Areva decided to have their boat painted a color that can best be described as 'radioactive yellow'.
Eric - We happened to be in Auckland when the French exploded an underwater bomb, sinking the Rainbow Warrior at the dock. The Kiwis were furious, both that the French would do such a thing, and that they would do it in their sovereign country.
It's one of the strangest things in
this strange America's Cup, but we agree that the only explanation
for Areva having painted their boat "radioactive yellow"
was to say "Fuck you!" to the Kiwis. Bizarre move,
bizarre color - one that probably caused half the crew to go
blind. The French, of course, are quite proud of their nuclear
power industry, which, if we're not mistaken, has been providing
over 75% of their country's energy needs without a single Chernobyl
or Three Mile Island-type incident. At least so far.
I'm planning to spend four to six months in Ensenada and farther south, perhaps passing through the Panama Canal on my way to North Carolina. But nowhere have I been able to find a straightforward explanation of what documents I will need upon arrival in Ensenada. I'll be staying at Hotel Coral Marina, which says they'll take care of everything. Perhaps you can tell me what 'everything' is.
Frank - The 'everything' you need is
passports for each member of the crew, and the boat's registration
or documentation, and some money. That's it. If you have these,
you can either check in yourself or have the marina do it for
a fee. By the way, it's the same story if you're sailing direct
to Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, or anywhere else.
Even though everybody else seems to be heading south for the winter, I'm contemplating doing some cruising next summer along the Inside Passage and Vancouver Island. So, I have been looking for information and suggestions about the best way to get my boat north. There's lots of information about coastal cruising from San Francisco to Mexico, and lots about cruising the San Juans, the Inside Passage, and Vancouver Island, but I can't find anything about making the trip between San Francisco and Vancouver. I realize it's not a great trip, but surely some of the Ha-Ha participants must sail their boats back to the Northwest. Any thoughts on the journey or suggestions on where to look?
By the way, I have an '85 Hunter 31 that has additional water and fuel tanks, an autopilot, and a windvane. I've sailed her out the Gate on numerous occasions to places such as Bodega Bay and Monterey, and twice down to Southern California and back. I've found that she's a pretty sturdy coastal cruiser, and have handled winds in excess of 40 knots. In addition, I've crewed on several offshore sailing trips, including this year's Pacific Cup, and spent a month aboard Alaska Eagle with Richard and Sheri Crowe, sailing from Tahiti to Easter Island. I've also done several long deliveries. Right now, I'm leaning toward a coastal passage rather than a Clipper Route.
Richard - There are four ways to get a sailboat north to Vancouver from San Francisco in the early summer, but none of them are particularly attractive. Option One is to go by way of Hawaii, which would be fun and mostly off the wind - but would also add about 3,200 extra miles. Option Two would be to harbor hop up the coast, which can be tedious, foggy, and riddled with weather delays. For those who have time, it's the most popular method. Option Three is the Clipper Route, which involves rolling the dice with the strength and location of the Pacific High. If you're able to get 300 miles offshore without getting beaten up or driven back by the relentless northwesterly winds and seas, you might be able to reach the lighter winds on the fringes of the Pacific High, and the fairer winds near the top of the High. Tell us what the High is going to be like, and we'll tell you if it's a good idea. Option Four is for those who have more money than time - combining your spring haulout with having the boat trucked to the Pacific Northwest. It may or may not be more expensive - depending on how much damage your boat might suffer sailing up - but you can count on your boat getting to the Northwest in time to enjoy an entire summer and fall.
For slightly more information, check
out Jimmy Cornell's World Cruising
In the November issue, a reader inquired about the advisability of having cats on sailboats. We're cruising and we have four cats aboard. The oldest started out with us as a 10-day-old orphan that we found on a road in the Delta near where we kept our boat at the time. We got the next two - one at seven months and the other at five weeks - while we were in Mexico. The fourth we rescued last September in Costa Rica when he was just 45 days old. We also know several cruising people who have taken their mature cats on board and have gone to sea quite happily - both cats and folks. Many have actually gone around the world with their cats, sailing in all kinds of weather.
Any cat, like any person, can feel seasick when first setting out in a boat, but a cat usually recovers shortly after the beginning of a voyage. After we have been in a perfectly still environment - such as a marina - for several weeks, we find that Angus, our two-year old, will toss his kibble from both ends for the first hour of any trip we take that involves motion. After that, he's fine. As long as we are in an anchorage where the boat is in constant, although gentle, motion, Angus never gets seasick when we then make a passage.
Cats are very safe down below in rough weather - as long as you have stuff tied down so it can't fly about in the cabins and hit them. They are happier being able to find their own little place to squirm into when the water is rough. When conditions make things lurchy on our boat, it's almost like a call to quarters - all the cats scoot for their preferred spots. When the passage is fairly easy - say a nice sail in 10-15 knots on a gentle swell - the cats lie about the cabin, play, eat and do their cat things as though we were at anchor.
As to whether to allow a cat topsides while underway, we allow ours outside because they have a healthy respect for the water rushing by, and because they don't seem to want to go out of the cockpit where we wouldn't be able to see them. However, we never, never, never allow them topsides after dark. With or without a harness, no cats are allowed outside after dark. Each has gotten used to harnesses because when we take them touring in our RV, we harness them up outside so they can be outdoors but not wander off somewhere into danger or become dangerous to wild animals or birds and reptiles. Forest Service rules insist on this anyway.
In a marina, it is best to try to keep the cat from wandering off the boat - not because the cat wouldn't know where its home is, but because the cat might get trapped inside another boat that has left a hatch open. Cats always know where the food is provided. We are solidly against allowing cats to roam in marinas, and so far we have never had trouble with our cats. Bentley, the latest addition, has yet to experience being in a marina, and might need to be taught because he's young and impressionable. The best cure for the roaming kitty cat is a good squirt from the hose on the dock.
Cats can and do fall overboard. We have been fortunate so far in that none of ours has 'sproinged' himself off the boat into the drink while playing. Many boatowners with cats hang a towel or rope netting over the side so the cat can climb back aboard. Some people think it's effective to throw the cat overboard and insist that it find the get-back-on-the-boat device so it is 'trained'. We think this behavior is the height of cruelty. The only thing you train the cat about with that sort of stupidity is not to let you get near it. Cats are more intelligent and survival-oriented than almost any other animal - they'll figure it out.
If your cats like to chew grass, go to a good pet store and buy the grow-your-own kits. So far our cats have had to get on without it though, because they don't sell such kits in Mexico and Central America. They seem not to have missed it much, however.
Lots of people worry that their cat will be unhappy living aboard and going sailing, so they leave them home with someone when they go cruising. Believe us, we know that cats are so attached to their owners that they suffer from the abandonment. The more you live with your cats on board, the closer you will become with them. It's a wonderful experience. Enjoy.
Mike & Anne Kelty
I don't know if either of these two boats are still afloat, but I'd love to know if anyone in your vast readership has seen or heard about them recently. The first is Staghound, a 40-ft one-off Alberg/Alden ketch which was built in about 1937. She was the overall corrected-time winner of the 1953 and 1955 TransPacs, and I think first in her class and second overall in the 1951 race. Last I heard she was berthed at Kaneohe Bay, Oahu. The other boat is Critereon, a 64-ft custom John Alden yawl. I believe she won first in Class A in the 1959 TransPac, and was last seen somewhere in the South Pacific.
I'm looking for these boats because they were both owned by my father, Ira P. 'Prent' Fulmor. I can be reached at: sailci at gte.net.
Mike - Your dad was one hell of a sailor. Staghound was second in class and fleet in '51, then corrected out first in class and fleet in '53 and '55. He didn't do quite as well with Critereon - perhaps because he'd become Commodore of the TransPacific YC - which was 4th in class and 8th overall in '57, and 12th in class and 15th overall in '59. By the way, there are several photos of him in the hardbound book TransPac, by Jack Smock, which was published by the TransPacific Yacht Club and the Maritime Museum of San Diego in 1980.
We regret to report we don't have any
idea where either boat might be. Perhaps one of readers can help.
In the November 26 'Lectronic Latitude, you wrote:
"As for Waterkeeper Alliance, we think they ought to be ashamed of themselves. No matter how badly you need the money or support, sometimes it's best just to say 'no thanks.'"
I think you're wrong. Environmental organizations should, and do, take money from everybody. There are several good reasons for doing so:
1) If they accept the money, then it's not being spent in a way that's damaging to the environment.
2) Money, like dice, has no memory. Money is not tainted because of who it once belonged to.
3) Vilifying the very rich - or anybody else, for that matter - just makes an enemy. Accepting the donation offers the chance to open a dialog that might lead to real and meaningful progress.
Readers - To bring everyone up to speed, what follows is the original press release from OneWorld, followed by our editorial remarks:
"OneWorld Challenge announced today that they had joined with The Waterkeeper Alliance in an effort to protect and restore the quality of the world's waterways, and to preserve and protect the world's oceans from polluters. Waterkeeper Alliance is the international umbrella organization of over 90 Waterkeeper programs throughout North America, Latin America and Europe. Waterkeepers patrol their waterways, respond to citizen concerns, identify environmental problems, and devise appropriate remedies and advocate compliance with environmental laws."
This was Latitude's response:
"On the surface, this might sound like a good thing. If you look a little deeper, however, we think it stinks. OneWorld gets its money from Craig McCaw and Paul Allen. Three years ago, while on our annual New Year's working vacation in St. Barts, we raced against McCaw, who raced his 118-ft daysailer Extra Beat. We were told that the family was staying ashore in a villa, and that the family's private 727 was being kept in St. Kitts because it was too big for the little strip at St. Barts. As we recall, Allen - or at least his 200-ft motoryacht Muese - was also there.
"Two years ago, Craig and brother John McCaw were back at St. Barts for New Year's, but with two new motoryachts. One of them, Le Gran Bleu, was well over 300 feet. The other, Tatoosh, was right about 300 feet. That year we raced against Bellatrix, a new 72-ft Dubois sloop that was carried aboard Le Gran Bleu as deck cargo. Both Le Gran Bleu and Tatoosh carried sportfishing boats, subs, and other boats.
"Last year, only Tatoosh, now owned by Paul Allen, showed up for New Year's at St. Barts.
"We don't have a problem with people making a lot of money, and keeping the money in circulation by spending it on boats and planes and stuff. However, we have no stomach for individuals who could easily be considered guilty of wretched excess - to say nothing of habits the environment can't possibly sustain - pretending to take the high road on environmental issues and preaching down to the rest of us. It's sort of like the Rev. Jessie Jackson, having fathered a child out of wedlock and then covered it up, giving spiritual guidance to President Clinton after his dalliance with Monica. What incredible hypocrisy! Given their ultra, ultra extreme consumptive lifestyles, if McCaw and Allen want to donate to environmental causes, we suggest they do so privately. (In fairness, it should be noted that Tatoosh and Le Gran Bleu both were reportedly built to be operated with minimal environmental impact.)
"As for Waterkeeper Alliance, we think they ought to be ashamed of themselves. No matter how badly you need the money or support, sometimes it's best just to say 'no thanks'.
"What do you think about this?"
So ended our comments in 'Lectronic
Anyone who owns yachts of the magnitude of Craig McCaw's or Paul Allen's - not to mention large private jets - and calls themselves environmentalists can only be described by one word - hypocrite! I'm sure they are only associating with WaterKeeper Alliance for the public relations benefits.
When we were in San Diego a few years ago getting ready to do the Ha-Ha, we pulled into a fuel dock, where the attendant pointed to Paul Allen's motoryacht - which was much smaller than the one he owns now. The attendant said she had just taken on 10,000 gallons of diesel - about 100 times more than we took on.
I readily agree with Latitude's position with regard to OneWorld and the Waterkeeper Alliance. OneWorld's position is as hypocritical as a militant vegetarian who wears leather shoes, and Waterkeeper Alliance's position is as defensible as the NAACP accepting donations from pre-apartheid South Africa. In short, it stinks on both sides of the transaction.
When it comes to billionaires and ecology, I can't help but remember the lyrics of Money from Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album: "Don't give me that do-goody-good bullshit..."
Excessive consumption and environmentalism certainly do seem to be incompatible. And what contribution is OneWorld going to make to Waterkeeper? I've yet to see them luff up in the middle of a race to pick up floating trash.
The hypocrisy appears to run in the McCaw family. John McCaw's ex-wife Wendy - always referred to as "the billionaire environmentalist and publisher of the Santa Barbara News Press" - recently lost her legal battle to prevent the public from walking across her 500 feet of beach frontage at Hope Ranch.
On the other hand, it's a good thing that environmental causes don't have to depend solely on the Bush Administration for funding and support, or there simply wouldn't be any. I say it's fine for the ultra-rich to assuage their guilt and reduce their taxes by giving generously to worthy environmental causes - as long as the rest of us recognize where they're really coming from.
One of your responders to 'Lectronic had this comment regarding OneWorld: "I've yet to see them luff up in the middle of a race to pick up floating trash." In defense of OneWorld, I know for a fact the chaseboats and tenders often return to the compound with man-made debris plucked from the Hauraki Gulf. Plastic bags and bottles, milk crates, clothing and boat parts are some of the loot. Although you may not see OneWorld's racing yachts luff up and help keep New Zealand clean, it is often the racing crew who radio the chaseboats during training sessions to point out the trash.
Rich - To criticize OneWorld IAAC boats for not luffing up in the middle of a race to pick up some floating trash is beside the point. Furthermore, we don't for a minute doubt OneWorld's desire to protect the ocean environment. In fact, we're convinced that McCaw, Allen, and most other extremely wealthy people do care deeply about protecting the environment - so long as it doesn't crimp their personal style.
To keep the record straight, we want
to reiterate that we're not necessarily against people owning
yachts such as Allen's and McCaw's, we're just not comfortable
with such owners trying to pass themselves off as environmental
Randy Ramirez asked where he could take celestial navigation courses. I recommend the United States Power Squadron, which offers a wide variety of marine classes, including celestial navigation. It is necessary to take the prerequisite courses in piloting and seamanship, but they are well worth it. Sandy and I have independently taken the JN course, which teaches the fundamentals of celestial navigation. The N course teaches more advanced techniques. I enjoyed taking the courses and still enjoy using the sextant to determine my position.
By the way, we have just arrived in San Diego after five weeks of gunkholing down from San Francisco. After completing our final preparations, which will include dusting off the sextant and refreshing our celestial skills, we'll be setting off on our voyage to Mexico.
Jim Barber & Sandy Moore
Last month you had a short blurb in Loose Lips called Idle Ships that was way off base. It was supposedly about a longshoreman's strike keeping ships from unloading cargo at the docks. I would remind everyone that there was no strike, but rather it was a lockout by employers. Yes, there were picket lines, and people naturally associate a picket line with a strike, but there was no strike. The ILWU should have hired a public relations firm early on to get their message out, for what was reported is not what was really happening. But that shouldn't surprise anyone, should it?
I've been reading Latitude for a long time. And as you can tell, I usually read every word on every page.
Ernest - You're absolutely correct in
that it was officially a lockout by management rather than a
strike by the union. Naturally, management said the lockout was
necessary because a worker slowdown amounted to an unannounced
strike. Like most people, we'll never know which side - if either
- was right. We're just glad the strike/lockout is over.
I can't help but wonder at your faint praise for Ed Grossman's plans for a 'land canal' that would allow boats to cross from Bahia de Los Angeles in the Sea of Cortez to Santa Rosalallita on the Pacific Coast some 300 miles south of San Diego.
I had my boat transported north in 2000 by one of Ed Grossman's trucks. Since my ultimate destination was Portland, I agree that it was more preferable than even a trip by 'land canal' followed by a 'mini Bash'. But the thing was, I had tried to schedule my transport as early as mid-March, and Grossman didn't have a slot to truck me north until mid-June. I think the real problem with trucking boats north is that it's relatively expensive and doesn't have much to recommend itself if one's final destination is Southern California. For the trip to Tucson - where Grossman's trucks end their participation - the turnaround for one of his hydraulic trailer rigs is 48 hours. This means he can only do two or three boats a week - unless he shells out for another rig, which won't reduce his costs any. I imagine he's just looking at the land canal as a way to greatly increase his capacity to move boats in a way that will appeal to many of the people who are now opting for the Bash. It sounds like a winner to me.
Doug - We appreciate your differing opinion. Who knows, the 'land canal' may ultimately be built, and it might be a success, but we'll believe it when we see it. In any case, though, the 'Nautical Stairway' certainly won't be completed.
We appreciate your problem of having to wait several months to have your boat trucked from San Carlos to the States, but what makes more fiscal and environmental sense, Grossman and/or others buying additional hydraulic trailers and using an already existing four-lane highway, or building a 100 miles of new road almost solely for hauling boats across Baja . . . to a spot that's still 300 miles south of San Diego?
Flash! Just before going to press, we spoke with Heidi Grossman, who reports that after eight years of work, the family has given up on the 'land canal' because there have been too many obstacles and because they are too busy with their other business interests. Heidi says the project still might be viable if someone else were willing to devote his/her energy full time to the project, and that the family is willing to sell what permits and other assets they have related to the project.
Ironically, what really finished off the project for the Grossman's is the gigantic Nautical Stairway project - that's never going to be built. In its very finite wisdom, Fontaur, the government tourist development agency, went to all the different hotel, marina and airport locations, bragged about what a great project they would be building, and then started to buy land. So naturally everybody jacked up the prices of land before Fonatur could buy it.
Furthermore, the majestic plans for all the hotels, airports, golf courses and marinas that will never be built, plus the vision of 70,000 boats coming down to Baja every year, understandably got the environmental groups and agencies all worked up. If it was true, it would get us worked up, too. As a result, the Grossman's permits for a three-dock marina at Bahia del Los Angeles were rescinded by the government environmental agency. Without the marina at BLA, the 'land canal' is deader than a doornail. So despite all the years of talk, what Baja is going to end up with is no Nautical Stairway, no 'land canal', and nothing for the population to do to put food on the table but ravage the Sea of Cortez or get involved with the drug trades. Nice options. What inhabitants of Baja could really use is thoughtful tourism development on about 1/10th the scale of the Nautical Stairway, and without all the golf courses and glitzy hotels. Don't hold your breath.
Heidi also says that if regular yachties
think they have bureaucratic problems with the Mexican government,
they have no idea what goes on with trailer boats and RVs at
the U.S.-Mexican border. A typical - but by no means unusual
- nightmare is officials who don't know the law will tell a trailerboater
that he can get an import permit at Marina San Carlos, which
he can't. So the folks at Marina San Carlos will send him to
Guaymas, where the officials will insist that the owner trailer
his boat four hours back to the border, where he'll again be
told to drive down to Marina San Carlos to get an import permit.
Too many bureuacrats just don't know the laws, and don't care
that their ignorance is infuriating the same tourists that the
country is trying to court.
Yes, you were correct, when I wrote in last month asking about what boats I should consider buying, I should have been more specific about my price range, skills, and what I intended to do with the boat. My initial question, "What is the definition of an 'open ocean category' boat?" stems from what I was told by several British brokers, who laid out multiple subdefinitions, including hull specs, sail area to displacement ratios, ballast percentages, and such. It was said, in small mockery, that the only place in America that a true open-ocean category yacht could be found is at the Hinckley Yard.
Regrettably, I cannot afford a modern Hinckley - or any other state-of-the-art vessel. My search is, and has been, for the best of all old worlds, and at $100,000 or less. This leads to what yachts, of this category, have the structural integrity to actually make open-ocean voyages. And yes, I need a boat of approximately 50 feet in length and some 6'6" of headroom, as I am set upon a couple of years living out this lifelong dream.
Can I handle a 50-ft boat? I've spent some time sailing a Columbia 50 - for all its questionable might - singlehanded, and without benefit of electric furling. It's true that I'm very old, but also still capable of making any yacht 'sing' her peculiar song, and that is a great part of the lure. I can fix just about anything except electronic devices - which are clearly the work of the devil. In short, I would love an Oyster, but I can only afford crackers. But go ahead, walk out on that limb by listing four boats from 40 to 50+ feet upon which you would set sail for Kiribati.
Jack - The only people we can imagine snidely remarking that Hinckleys are the only good American boats are those who are still bitter about the colonies having broken away and losing the Empire. In other words, guys sitting behind desks and living in the last couple of centuries.
On the assumption that you're serious, let's cut to the chase. The critical facts are: 1) You've got $100,000 to spend. 2) You're "very old" but can "still make a boat sing." 3) You want to cruise to Kiribati. 4) You need 6'6" headroom. Since all you've got is $100,000 and you're talking about Oysters, Hinckleys, and 50-ft motorsailors, all our alarm bells are going off that maybe you're more interested in fantasizing about 'yachting' rather than serious about cruising. After all, what's the point in lusting after boats that you can't afford, and slamming those that you possibly could? For example, there's no reason a Columbia 50 couldn't sail to Kiribati. After all, scores of them did the TransPacs and Tahiti Races in the '60s, 'Broken Bottles' Bob Jensen and his wife Gail sailed their 50-ft Simoon across the Pacific a half dozen times, and Steve and Linda Dashew circumnavigated with their 50-ft Intermezzo. If you look, you can probably find a Columbia 50 for $100,000.
However, since you're no longer in your physical prime, we think a Columbia 50 weighs too much for you to comfortably handle. Since the Columbia line of 'blister tops' was about the only one that had tons of headroom, why not look at 43s, 39s, or even 34s? In addition to being less weight to move around, these smaller boats cost a lot less. Let all your English brokers laugh, but Roy Wessbecher of Santa Clara did a seven-year circumnavigation aboard Bretta, a Columbia 34 - with seven-foot headroom - that he bought for $20,000. You could buy a 34, 39, or 43 for a fraction of $100,000 and have money left to take care of any structural and engine issues.
If you don't like Columbias, how about
a Gulfstar 50, Islander 44, Cal 40, Force 50, CT-41, Irwin 42,
Westsail 32, Endeavour 37, Tartan 37 yawl, Pearson 38, or a Union
36 - which are just some of the boats available in your price
range in last month's Classy Classifieds.
There's even a Columbia 34 for $11,000. In other words, there
are scores of boats out there capable of doing what you want.
Now it's time for you to decide whether you think it would be
more fun to live your cruising dream or be disgruntled because
you can't live your dream in a style that's beyond your means.
We're sure you'll make the right choice.
Having done the Ha-Ha in 1996 and having had a great time, we were expecting thoughts of 'been there, done that' when we did it again in November. But this year's event was just as much fun again! We can't get over how much we enjoyed hanging out with the other sailors, listening to all the stories, sharing the excitement, enjoying the camaraderie - and especially 'racing' to Paradise with a fleet of 110 boats.
Every time a 'good-samaritan' made a 'public service' announcement over the VHF radio - "freighter over here," "dorado for lunch," "dolphins over there," "turtle headed north," it just kept reminding us that we were sailing downwind(!) surrounded by a 'bunch of kids in a candy store'.
"How could we have even considered not joining the Ha-Ha again?" we kept asking ourselves.
The Grand Poobah and his assistants are to be congratulated on their talents as organizers, leaders and teachers. The whole experience is very rewarding to everyone involved, and was especially helpful to the new cruisers. I feel a Ha-Ha cruise puts new cruisers on the fast track to acquiring cruising skills and knowledge because they are learning from everyone in the entire fleet. And once the Ha-Ha is over, they begin their cruising adventure with all sorts of wonderful contacts and lifetime cruising friends. Thank you very much.
Dennis & Kristin Clifton
Dennis and Kristin - Thank you, we're
delighted that you enjoyed the Ha-Ha once again.
The Baja Ha-Ha 2002 - what a hoot! We have a picture of us aboard Journey sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge in full-up heavy weather foulies. But then we turned left, and every day it got warmer - until finally we were wearing shorts and the coveted bright green Ha-Ha shirt at the Awards Party for having sailed the entire length of the Ha-Ha.
We earned the green 'soul sailor' shirt because of two secret weapons. First, Phil McFarlen, a Singlehanded TransPac vet who is a great tactician and knows how to trim sails. Second, because of a second set of twin headsails, recommended by Phil, that allowed us to sail safely through each night. The 'twins' are great because they're so much easier to handle than a spinnaker that we can't imagine why every cruiser doesn't have them.
Every day and every stop of our trip seemed more fun than the one before. We have shaken off our Bay Area isolationism, and now talk to anyone who will listen, and listen to anyone who will talk. We have been at La Paz for the past weeks enjoying Ha-Ha stories from the 2002 group, and stories from those who had done previous Ha-Ha's. It's amazing to us how many of the cruisers here came down in one of the Ha-Ha's - almost everyone we've met. Like us, most of them aren't planning to go back north.
The consensus among the cruisers here is that the Grand Poobah is a cross between a god and a magician, who somehow gets people off their butts and onto their personal adventures. If he is a god, he's one who knows how to have fun and how to throw a hell of a party.
We follow the Volvo Race, the America's Cup, the TransPacs, and the other big-time races, and marvel at the money competitors invest in them. And all the winners get is a silver cup - perhaps not standing quite tall enough for the big green Ha-Ha soul sailor's shirt. We, the crew of Journey, and just about everyone we talk to, think that Latitude, the Ha-Ha corporation, and especially the Grand Poobah, have contributed more to real life sailing than any of the big boys who chase the silver cups. Thanks again for a great ride!
We'll be in La Paz for a couple of months enjoying the town, sailing to the islands, and then in mid-January we'll head to the mainland.
Ed Lord & Kathy Babcock
Ed and Kathy - Forget the god and magician
business, the Poobah is just someone who genuinely enjoys helping
folks have a good time on the water. And when it comes to regular
sailing folks, we can't think of a better way for them to do
it than on a mildly adventurous Ha-Ha.
Living on the frigid East Coast, all I have to see me through the long, cold winter is the monthly arrival of Latitude - and 'Lectronic - to keep me out of the loony bin until spring arrives and I can go sailing once again. Pretty pathetic, ain't it?
Was I very bad last month? Is that why I never got my November issue of Latitude? Or was it sent, and if so, should I contact the FBI to launch a full-scale investigation into why it never arrived and who might be responsible for this heinous crime? The December issue arrived today, saving me from the Latitude DT's. Do I have any hope of ever seeing the November issue, or am I S.O.L.?
Christine - If you or anybody else doesn't
get an issue, call us rather than the FBI, and we'll get you
a replacement issue as soon as we can. As for you folks living
through long and cold winters, bless you, we have no idea how
Lots of negative articles have been written about the cost and procedures for clearing in to ports in Mexico, so there's no need to elaborate on that. However, another difficulty has arisen. Checking in and out of Puerto Vallarta now requires using an agent. So now we are faced with yet another expense. When does it stop? What port will be next?
Another wrinkle is that now the Port Captain in Zihuatanejo is requiring proof of Mexican liability insurance for boats that anchor in the bay. This shouldn't be a problem for most cruisers, but is this the end of the bureaucratic nightmare? I think not! Furthermore, it now costs $10 U.S. per day in API fees to anchor in Huatulco. For this you don't even get to dump your trash or land your dinghy.
Mexico continues to shoot itself in the foot with regard to cruisers. But they don't care, as many letters and emails of complaint to Tourism have been to no avail. Therefore, we recommend that cruisers avoid Mexico. Cruisers sailing south from the United States should sail directly to Central America, where cruisers are welcomed, where there is less bureaucracy, and where the beaches are better. For those currently in Mexico, we should all leave. After 4.5 years in Mexico, that's what we'll be doing in the spring.
Don't misunderstand us - Mexico is wonderful and the people are friendly and helpful, but the government needs a wakeup call.
Ray & Sandy Cumberworth
Ray and Sandy - According to Dave Starr of Speranza, who got his info on December 17 from Juan 'Paperman' Pablo, "The Puerto Vallarta Port Captain is strongly urging the skippers of vessels to use an agent to clear in because his office is overworked at this time. If a skipper insists on checking in himself, he will be allowed to do so, but he must have all paperwork in perfect order. If there are any complications, the Port Captain may insist on the use of an agent. Many of the complications the Port Captain is seeing are due to paperwork being improperly prepared by other port captains."
Is it crazy that cruisers should have to suffer financially for the mistakes of Mexican port captains? Yes, it is. Is it crazy that the port captains in nearby La Cruz and Nuevo Vallarta don't need to have cruisers use a ship's agent to check in, while the one in Puerto Vallarta does? Yes, it is.
Mexico indeed continues to shoot itself in the foot with ridiculous clearing procedures and expenses. We wish we could report that it will change soon, but that's not likely to be the case. For one thing, the clearing procedures involve a number of different agencies - port captains, aduana, immigration, and taxation - all of which are parts of different branches of government. The odds of trying to get them to all change at once is . . . well, not good.
As much as this pisses cruisers off, ourselves included, it's important to keep everything in perspective. First of all, if you're clever about planning your cruising itinerary, you rarely have to check in with port captains, and the total time and money wasted clearing during a season won't be that great. Secondly, if you were visiting Mexico by land and staying in a condo or hotel and eating all your meals in restaurants, you'd have to be paying something like 15% tax on all food and lodging. That adds up. Of course, that's not true in just Mexico, but also in the United States. In San Francisco, for example, visitors pay 14% in hotel taxes, and that's 14% of much more expensive rooms. Last year San Francisco visitors paid $435 million - not a typo - in hotel taxes. It's a big haul, but it goes fast when city employee benefits include things such as sex change operations for domestic partners.
That the Z-town Port Captain is demanding
that all boats have liability insurance is an entirely different
matter, and is a direct response to the Mariner 35 ketch being
abandoned on the beach in September - a ketch that still besmirches
We were on the 2001 Ha-Ha and had promised Ernesto, the fuel delivery guy in Turtle Bay, some shirts. We'd like to send them to him, but unfortunately don't have his address. Do you have it?
And thanks once again for doing such a good job running the Baja Ha-Ha. Our family will remember it always.
Jamie - Thank you for the compliment.
We don't know Ernesto's address or how smart it would be to try
to mail them to him in Turtle Bay. We suggest you send the shirts
to Downwind Marine in San Diego, which will put them on a boat
The 'mystery island' in the November 29 'Lectronic Latitude photos is definitely in the Marquesas. My wife and I were there on our Ranger 33 Eleu in October of 1986, and recall seeing Cousteau's Calypso in Nuku Hiva. I would guess the photo is Fatu Hiva, although I don't recall there being a large offshore rock as can be seen in the photo. Perhaps it's Elao, the northernmost island in the group? We tried to stop there, but after rocking and rolling for an hour, we took off on a 15-day sail to Hilo.
Bill - The photos are actually of Cocos
Island, several hundred miles off the coast of Costa Rica. We're
not publishing your letter to embarrass you, but to make a point
about how easily we can be positive about something that isn't
true. In fact, it happened to us on the Ha-Ha, when the only
reason we didn't bet one of our crew $100 that what we were looking
at was Punta Eugenia rather than Isla Natividad, was that we
"didn't want to take his money." Such examples are
the primary reason mariners constantly have to double and triple
check their positions and confirm that what they think they are
seeing is what they are really seeing.
Based on the photos, the 'mystery island' in the November 29 'Lectronic Latitude has to be Cocos Island, Costa Rica. The Cousteau rock sculpture and the hammerheads - I think they're hammerheads, my computer image isn't that great - pretty much give it away. I've been to Cocos Island twice in the past three years and would love to go again.
The Costa Rican government is working pretty hard to keep the sanctuary status for the island, but there is still commercial pressure to hunt the sharks. My wife Paula and I kayaked out to a pass between the main island and an offshore rock and went diving with the hammerheads. Being nose-to-nose with these curious 14-foot creatures who are straight out of Jurassic Park was one of the more unforgettable experiences in my life.
By the way, the rock sculpture was made during Cousteau's 1987 filming expedition, and can be found near the ranger station. The Cousteau video about the island is worth renting if available - but be forewarned that it's excessively dramatic about hidden treasures and the danger of the sharks.
In the September issue, Jon Jones raised the question of whether it is safe for passengers to sit on the tubes of an inflatable dinghy. While it sounded to me as though Section 655 of the Harbor and Navigation Code was geared toward rigid aluminum or fiberglass boats and not toward inflatables, I may still have to side with Mike Dugger, the Marine Sheriff who was going to cite Jones. What is missing for me in the picture is how Jones was operating his boat - whether he was planing and if the conditions were rough. Also, was Dugger citing the most relevant code available in order to avoid an unsafe situation, or was he just being a hard-ass?
In the thousands of dinghy excursions that we have made during more than 11,000 miles of cruising, I admit that we sit on the inflatable tubes of our 10-ft Caribe dinghy during the vast majority of the time that we are using it. But when we are planing in choppy conditions, I ask everyone to come in off the tubes and sit inside the dinghy - which I also do. This has always been our practice, but my enforcement became more rigorous two years ago in the Sea of Cortez after my wife was thrown from the bow of a friend's dinghy by a wave. Swept under the speeding dinghy, the outboard propeller came so close that her shirt was torn, but thankfully she wasn't injured.
I don't care for the idea that safety has to be legislated - so long as other parties are not endangered. I think it's better that people be made aware of the difference between safe and dangerous practices so that they can make the choices themselves. Most of the time I consider sitting on the tubes of an inflatable dinghy to be a perfectly safe practice, but when planing in rough conditions, a passenger sitting on the tubes has an elevated center of gravity that makes it easier for him/her to be flipped out of the dinghy and into the propeller.
N.W. - It's certainly true that poorly-operated outboard-powered vessels have the potential to be incredibly dangerous - but the same can be said for manual lawn mowers, bicycles, shopping carts and surfboards.
We're confused by your recommendation, which seems to be that there should be no planing in rough conditions. The big problem is how to define 'rough'. What's rough for an eight-foot inflatable with a flat bottom can be a piece of cake for a 12-ft inflatable with a fiberglass V-bottom. And what's rough going into the waves can be smooth as silk going with the waves. Furthermore, give some jerk an inflatable with enough horsepower, and he'll bounce the passengers right out no matter if they're sitting on the tubes or the floor.
In our view, what's required are operators
who fully appreciate the responsibility they have when operating
a dinghy with passengers. And parents, who understand what responsibility
they are giving their children when they give them the keys to
the dinghy. While at Two Harbors, Catalina, last summer, we saw
this kid who couldn't have been any more than 11 with his younger
brother and sister, screaming around the harbor at full throttle
in an inflatable powered by a 35hp outboard. They had to be doing
30 knots or more. The boy repeatedly brought the inflatable to
a standstill, and then floored it, nearly flipping the boat.
Then he let the younger brother have a turn at the controls.
It was the most insane nautical stunt we've seen in years. It's
a miracle the parents didn't end up with some dead children.
By the way, the kids were always sitting on the dinghy seat,
not on the tubes.
Like thousands of others, at the present I can only 'cruise' on my computer. I would love to be able to follow a boat on its cruise, with daily photos and text. Can you help me find one?
Johnnich - It's not updated daily, but we suggest you check out www.wherescherie.com. This is basically the log of the cruise of Greg Retkowski and Cherie Sogsti, who met during the '01 Ha-Ha, and who are now cruising from Panama to the Eastern Caribbean aboard Greg's Morgan Out-Island 41 Scirocco. Cherie is a very funny writer, and they frequently post a number of unusually good photos.
You could also go to the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers site and replay the daily reports and photos of this year's ARC. They include the tragic death of a crewman at the end of his harness, as well as the sinking of one boat.
Anybody else have any site they'd like
to recommend to armchair cruisers?
Those of us at Sea Watch would like anybody who was part of the Baja Ha-Ha - or sailed to Mexico on their own - to report if they saw any longliners or driftgillnetters working within 50 miles of the Sea of Cortez. We've talked to a couple of Ha-Ha boats that reported seeing lighted buoys off the coast of Mag Bay, and recorded this information in their logs. If anybody else saw or sees these longline buoys - unlit during the day and illuminated at night - we need the time, date, and location.
Many longliners working off Mag Bay target the striped marlin that are migrating south. They like to work the 1,000-fathom curve, which is often inside the 50-mile limit. Sea Watch is working hard to get vessel monitoring systems on all medium and large fishing boats working in Mexico. Any input logged reports of boats longlining or driftgillnetting within 50 miles of the coast will help that cause.
The sighting data can be emailed directly to me at mmcgett at aol.com, sent to 3939 N. Marine Dr. #12, Portland, Oregon 97217, or phoned/faxed to (503) 285-3673.
Sea Watch is an organization of private citizens dedicated to a healthy Sea of Cortez. We monitor destructive activities throughout the region, and communicate the data we gather to the people of Mexico, the United States, and the world. If you are interested in the health of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Coast of Baja, please visit our website at www.seawatch.org.
Readers - We encourage everyone to support
Sea Watch with reports of sightings of longliners and driftgillnetters.
In addition, anyone interested in the health of the Sea of Cortez
and other Mexican waters should check out the www.seawatch.org
Web site and hit 'site map'. From there, you will get perhaps
the best quick education on the subject from folks who know,
love, and have been using these waters for many years.
While in Bermuda a few months ago aboard Sturdy, my Kelly-Peterson 46, I decided it was time to change my Jabsco gray water pump, which had quit. Rick Whiting, a friend visiting from Sausalito, took the pump out, and then I rowed for 25 minutes to take it to the Jabsco distributor in Hamilton to use as a sample for a replacement pump or to get a new impeller. After a fun-filled row with rain in my face the entire time, and a 30-minute walk in the rain to find the marine store that carried Jabsco pumps, I found the store didn't have a replacement pump or the proper impeller. Furthermore, their master catalog of Jabsco products didn't even mention the pump that I was holding in my wet hands!
While back in Newport Beach, California a few weeks later, I called the Jabsco office in Costa Mesa. A great guy named Gary Cragin explained - it's too complicated to go into - why the dealer in Hamilton had the wrong catalog. He said he was truly sorry, and I figured that was the end of it.
Today, as I was about to walk out the door to go to LAX to fly back to Bermuda - from which I'll sail to the British Virgins - FedEx appeared with a package. Inside was a new $85 bilge pump and float from Jabsco, with a note saying how sorry they were for all the fruitless rowing I had to do in the rain in Bermuda.
Thanks Gary Cragin and Jabsco, you've earned a customer for life!
Readers - One of the unfortunate things
about having a limited number of editorial pages is that we don't
have space to print all the letters readers send describing the
times marine businesses have gone beyond the call of duty to
help them. There is lots of good customer support and service
In the November issue, Tara White asked if anybody had placed their boat in management with Barefoot Yacht Charters. I have and would be willing to discuss the experience. She can reach me at landlya at yahoo.com.
It was with horror that I read about the yellow lab Sandy nearly being asphyxiated as a result of trying to jump overboard while tied to a boat with nobody aboard. I read the article while housesitting and dogsitting for friends in La Paz. The dog is an eight-month-old yellow lab named Luna - short for Lunatic because she is an exuberant puppy who dives into the pool at least half a dozen times a day to retrieve a leaf, a ball, a reflection, or just because she knows that labs love to swim. Housesitting with us is Maggie, our six-year-old Boston Terrier, who only mildly tolerates the never-ending attention lavished upon her by Luna.
We found Maggie at the Humane Society in San Diego when she was seven months old. To protect her from falling overboard from Quasar, our Columbia 45 sloop, we put up safety netting around the lifelines. In addition, we often took her to the Dog Beach to teach her how to swim - although she didn't like the cold water, the waves splashing in her face, or the big dogs sniffing and pooping around her private parts. We also bought a PFD and had her wear it occasionally.
By the time Maggie was two years old, we sailed down the west coast of Baja and headed for the Sea of Cortez. By this time we knew she could swim, even if she didn't particularly like it. But once she put her feet into the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez, she became the Esther Williams of the yachtie dog set!
Nonetheless, we're aware of Maggie's limitations, so we have taken precautions to protect her from the water dangers. For example, we would never, ever tie her up aboard Quasar while we were away. For that matter, responsible dog 'companions' would not leave a dog tied up at all - unless someone was around to monitor the dangers a dog can get into while tied up.
To Sandy's 'companions', I would say protect her from any future hanging-drowning scenarios with lifeline netting - even if you have to string it up higher than we had to for our small Boston Terrier. After all, you know she's going to go swimming - with or without your approval. With training and patience, she will be a wonderful cruising companion for you. But use the rope for tying gear down, not Sandy.
Eldon & Monica Lawson, and Maggie
Since you've lost both Max Props and Flex-o-Fold props on Profligate, you must also have experience on their relative performance. I'm curious how you would compare their performance in forward and reverse, as well as under sail. Next time the subject of props comes up, perhaps you could share your opinions.
Dave - Since we hope there isn't a next time with us losing a prop, we might as well share our opinions right now. By the way, we still can't figure out how we lost two Max Props and one Flex-o-Fold prop in one year, but we're beginning to lean toward the theory that our boat or the marinas she's been in have been really hot, and that key pieces that should have kept the props from falling off were victims of excessive electrolysis. It still doesn't seem that possible, but when we look at the props installed as they should be installed, it seems even more impossible for them to come off for any other reason.
When it comes to Max Props, we want it known that we had a fixed three-bladed version on Big O for about eight years, and never had a problem with it. We also had two Max Props on Profligate for 4.5 years without any problems, and were quite fond of them. Based on our experience, the flat-bladed Max Props had good power in forward and very good power in reverse. On the negative side, they had quite a few small parts, the pitch couldn't be adjusted in the water, and they feathered rather than folded back. It's now possible to buy Max Props that you can change the pitch on in the water - although not for sail drive units. One negative about the feathering quality of the Max Prop is that when Profligate was flying along in the high teens and the feathering prop snagged a clump of kelp, the prop would fly open, the engine would turn over even though it was off, and the back of the boat sounded as though it was being torn off. But overall, we thought the Max Props were very good.
Flex-o-Fold props are very similar to Gori props. These differ from Max Props in that they can be put on and taken off while the boat is in the water - even in the case of sail drives, they have fewer small parts, the blades have pitch, and when not in use the blades fold back rather than feather. The only way you can adjust the pitch, however, is by changing blades. Thanks to the curved blades, we get about half a knot more speed in forward with the Flex-o-Folds, but they are less powerful in reverse, particularly at low rpms. We also appreciate that they don't snag seaweed at speed. We also must confess that we marvel at the simple elegance of the Flex-o-Folds and the Goris, and are dazzled by their construction. Indeed, before we put the Flex-O-Folds on, we spent a lot of time fondling the various pieces.
It's important to note that these aren't the only options in three-bladed folding and feathering props. Martec markets the Autostream, a robust-looking, three-bladed feathering prop that's been popular in Australia for many years. And there's Autoprop, a very interesting design that has been successful for a number of years. It's worth checking them all out.
By the way, for readers who have boats
with two or three-bladed fixed props, you probably don't have
any idea how much prop drag kills your boat's performance. You
might as well drag a bucket behind your boat. Other than cleaning
a particularly filthy bottom, a folding/feathering prop is the
quickest way to dramatically increase the performance of your
We're planning on sailing south in the Puerto Vallarta Race in February, and are perhaps interested in doing the Banderas Bay Regatta. Unfortunately, I didn't see anything about it in the Calendar. Do you know if there's going to be one this year, and if so, what the dates will be?
Dave - The Banderas Bay Regatta has become bigger and better each year, so certainly it will be held again this spring. The location is Paradise Village Resort and Marina, and the dates will be March 20-23. We'll be there to participate aboard Profligate for the fifth year in a row, and if you can make it, we're certain you'll enjoy it too. By the way, with the full blessing of the Banderas Bay Regatta, we'll be holding the Punta de Mita Spinnaker Cup for Charity the day before, and hope you can make that one also. There is no entry fee for either event, although registration is necessary for the Banderas Bay Regatta.
WORKING NOT TO ALIENATE ANYONE
Below is a my response to the November issue letter by Douglas Chew, and to Latitude's response:
Quality sailing instruction has nothing to do with freedom of speech. Sailing instructors have a topic to teach - sailing. Their job is to teach that topic well with positivity, working not to alienate anyone, regardless of personal differences of opinion and relative oddities. Having a sense of what is out of social bounds and what may trigger individual backlash is key to that end. The best instructors know this, and behave accordingly while on duty. Expressing personal opinions about sensitive topics, such as the natural differences between men and women, are fine for happy hour or heated dinner conversation but have no place in a sailing class. Our job as instructors is to present the material safely and cleanly, and to provide an opportunity for students to enjoy sailing on their own terms, unfettered by potentially alienating and distracting commentary. In short, we are to be professionals.
As Director of Cal Adventures, I strive to provide the most positive experience for everyone who chooses Cal Adventures as a place to learn to sail, and embrace the diversity that blesses us as residents of the Bay Area. We don't do anybody any good - especially female students experiencing the beauty, freedom and power of skippering a boat for the first time - by 'injecting' and fostering traditional biases that are at best heated and debatable.
So, Doug, put a sock in it and do your job better! I'll know that has happened when my phone stops ringing.
Tim - The sound you hear is of Mario Savio - who in the early '60s 'threw his body in the gears of the university' to fight for the right of free speech on campus, and who in so doing brought UC Berkeley to the world stage - rolling over in his grave.
Practically speaking, it's no big deal to us if Latitude is never recommended in Cal Adventure sailing classes - even if it means denying students knowledge of the greatest source for sailing news and information in the country just because one student might not agree with every one of our editorial views. They'll find out about us quickly enough anyway. We also agree that there's a time and a place for everything, and a sailing class isn't the most appropriate place to argue sexual politics, the conflict in the Middle East, or whether the new mayor of Berkeley deserves to be spanked in public for having stolen newspapers that supported his opponent.
What is a big deal to the Wanderer, a former Berkeley student, is that we're getting the impression that Berkeley is no longer so much a place where students come to study a variety of ideas, but where a vocal minority demands that their instructors teach them only what they want to hear. Frankly, your letter reads like a call for instructors to become sycophants of their students. That any professor or even Cal Adventure instructor should have to "worry about the minefield I have to tiptoe through every time I open my mouth" because it might "alienate someone" with "relative oddities" is pathetic.
We suppose that if a student of color
claimed that he/she felt alienated by all the white sails on
the boats, you'd rush right out and buy some colored ones - despite
the fact there are good reasons why most sails are white.
Please don't quit publishing the comments about the August cover photo. They are not only great entertainment, but offer a psychological field day. It reminds me of what I think in English is called the 'blotch test', in that the way people 'interpret' an image reveals more about them than about the image itself.
In the case of the August cover, most people saw a handsome couple having a great time sailing - and moved on to the rest of the magazine. But as some letters have indicated, others saw it quite differently. The interpretations are getting better all the time - at least based on the person who saw a photo of a topless woman in Villefranche, France, and decided she might have been an Eastern European refugee stripping to push more ice cream on behalf of an abusive boss.
Let the comments flow!
Miri - It's funny how differently people
view nudity or partial nudity. Terry and Shari Owen cruised their
Contest 38 in Europe for five months last summer. They report
in this month's Changes
that European women of all ages think nothing of removing all
their clothes on marina docks and taking open-air showers. Although
initially startling, it quickly became "no big deal."
Flirting is fun. Being sexy is natural. Nudity is Goddess-given. Having stated where I stand, what is demeaning, or rather, where the problem lies, is that topless photos can reinforce and perpetuate the concept of women as sex objects in the minds of males who are not as evolved and balanced as you guys are. And - here lies the rub - we women get to deal with the consequences. In all fairness, you must admit that many men are not on the same page as you and Alanis Morrissette. But we must make for ourselves the world we want to live in. And I prefer a free world where I get to set my own boundaries according to my views and needs, rather than having them set for me by someone else.
As for the photo of the topless ice-cream vendor, in France and many other places that doesn't cause a testosterone rush because they grow up with it; it's natural. But here - even in this new century - with honorable exceptions, the sight of skin is often associated with sex exploitation, not with nature, courtesy of the Puritanical background and all the messy ambivalence in its wake. So it all depends on the lens through which you look. It's all in our head. Readers who find it so offensive must not have sailed in the Med or in French Polynesia, where you see nudity in real life and nobody feels demeaned. The guys, by the way, are naked too, and so are the kids.
Since I believe you are embarked on a public education campaign in this department, and I think that bodies are beautiful, I do not endorse the no-skin petition. It's your magazine after all, and it's the best of them all. But as a lifelong woman sailor in many latitudes and longitudes, I cannot deny the tiresome consequences of misunderstood skin exposure in the minds of the troglodyte, whose hormonal imbalances we get to deal with. I am sure that the women who write against your August cover and the topless photos are fed up with dealing with those consequences, as I have been at times. It's the garbage in people's heads I mind, not your photos.
Unrelenting time may be on my side on this issue, since I must have graduated from sex object to sailor - finally. The most recent skipper who invited me to cruise with him didn't do so because I look good in a bikini - it's been a while - but because his boat insurance company liked my sailing resume. Now that's a nonsexist, non-ageist compliment! So I say to fellow sailor Suna Kneisley: "Keep sailing; there's hope." And to John Kelly, who laments the "apparent dearth of female potential sailing partners in the 40+ range," I say: "You are not really looking. Check out last April's Crew List."
I agree with Latitude on the subject of the August cover - anyone who thinks it was too revealing needs to see a shrink.
A couple of years ago before Christmas, we chartered a Wauquiez 42 from Sunsail and sailed to Anse Colombier, St. Barthelemy. As you have stated earlier, this is a great place to cruise. While there, I took the attached photo of a topless woman taking a shower on the transom of another bareboat. Later, we anchored at the main town of Gustavia, where we took the dink ashore and walked to nearby Shell Beach. While there, we spotted the perfect '10' sunbathing topless. Sorry, no names.
Dick - Thanks for thinking of us. We obviously don't have anything against publishing photos of topless sailors, but we do have rules. First, the photo has to be at least somewhat in the context of sailing, and second, the subject has to be at least somewhat aware that she might be having her photo taken.
In the case of the topless woman washing up on the transom at the end of the day, it's remotely in the context of sailing, but the woman is clearly in a private moment. As such, we wouldn't have taken the shot, and we wouldn't run it. As for the very lovely topless lady lying on the sand at Shell Beach, there's no sailing context, so we wouldn't run that one either.
Every place is different of course,
but here's the deal at St. Barts, where it's assumed that everyone
is at least a little bit sophisticated. Going topless is considered
normal on all the beaches and at several of the beachfront restaurants,
and lots of folks go completely naked at Gran Saline and the
remote parts of other beaches. Women are considered to be inherently
sexy, so a glance or two is considered normal. If the subject
enjoys the attention, as signified by a smile or some other sign,
a slightly longer look is fine. But if the behavior is too overt
on the part of the subject or viewer, both would be considered
losers - unless it was done with a great amount of style. Taking
photos, particularly on the sly, is always considered lame. The
basic rule is that the woman is in charge. If she wants to celebrate
how lovely she looks, well isn't everyone lucky to see? But if
she's just minding her own business, anything more than a glance
is an invasion of privacy. This kind of group outlook is probably
why most women feel more comfortable going topless on St. Barts
than many other places.
Some issues ago you had a story about a fellow who has Seagull Outboard parts and info. I think he was in L.A. My issue has gone missing, and I was wondering if you might recall the name and phone number of this outfit.
Jim - We don't know about L.A., as it
seems the best place to hunt for parts would be Captain Ron's
Outboard Motor Heaven in Vancouver, British Columbia. Get on
the Internet at www3.bc.sympatico.ca/RonBattiston/info.html,
and you'll find everything you could possibly want to know about
Peregrine and I are here in Larnaca, Cyprus. Having arrived in May, I'm putting her on the hard for one year in order to do some tourist-style land traveling. Since getting here, I've have taken a three-month trip to the Far East and a two-week trip to Switzerland and Germany. Upon my return from Switzerland, I found that the boatyard service company here at Larnaca Marina had driven their Travelift into Peregrine, twisting her bow pulpit beyond repair.
I discovered the damage immediately after arriving at 4 a.m. on September 24. When I confronted the company about the damage, they denied any fault. I went to the police, who were useless. "There was no crime, so it's not our problem," they explained. Huh? Then I went to the marina manager, who was great. He came to the boat to survey the damage and took paint strappings from the rail that matched the Travelift that had been seen maneuvering around my boat. But the boatyard would still not admit guilt.
I then went to Nicosia and the Cyprus Tourist Organization - the government agency that owns the marina. It turned out that the company that was operating the Travelift in the marina was doing it illegally, with no contract, no insurance - and didn't even pay rent for their buildings or license fees. The CTO was fully aware of this situation! And the company's poor safety record. In the past several years, they had dropped several boats - including a brand new Oyster 53.
The company finally admitted - to a person in the marina office - their responsibility and agreed to pay all damages. But when I presented the company with my demand for settlement, they immediately denied involvement again.
I then went to the American Embassy in Nicosia. The person there was very positive and promised to help by making some phone calls. I asked him if it helped any that Peregrine was a U.S. documented vessel. He said that he had no idea what benefit that provided. I thought maybe the embassy could step in and act on my behalf, or, because my boat is documented, give me additional help to deal with these people. Does anybody know if being documented helps?
When I returned from the meeting at the embassy, the marina manager said that the Travelift operator now said they wanted to have someone come and make a new bow pulpit, and that someone would come by my boat today. Well, you guessed it - nobody. This problem has gone on for months, and has prevented me from leaving the boat as planned for a trip to Africa.
Jean - U.S. documentation, as opposed
to state registration, is not going to help you in a situation
such as this. In fact, it's almost never going to make any kind
of difference at all.
We'd like to inform all owners of Spencer sailboats that we'll be having a fun rendezvous at Montague Harbour, on the south side of Galiano Island in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, June 28-30. Our group has members in Canada, the United States, and Denmark. One of our goals is to link everyone through our noncommercial Web site at www.spenceryachts.net.
Spencers are serious offshore sailboats that were designed by John Brandlmayr of Richmond, British Columbia. Sailors have done wonderful things with Spencers. Hal Roth sailed his around Cape Horn and to other well-known adventures. A number of others have circumnavigated. And last summer, Jim Kellam sailed his Spencer 35 Mk II Haulback to corrected time honors in the Singlehanded TransPac!
If anyone has questions, they can email me at: reblackwell at shaw.ca.
I wanted to respond to Matjaz Prosen's December letter to Latitude about sail-kayaking in the Caribbean. The good news is that it is indeed doable - although I've got a slightly different angle for him.
Something Prosen - and for that matter, a lot of sailors with minimal room on their boats - may not have considered is traveling with a folding kayak. I kayaked and sail-kayaked the Caribbean fairly extensively in the '90s, and had no problem going from island to island - no matter if they were five or 500 miles apart - with a Feathercraft K-light kayak.
The Feathercraft K-light is a hard-chined 14-foot beauty that weighs under 40 pounds, but folds up into a backpack for easy carrying on the smallest island-hopping ferry or airplane. The K-light looks more like an Eskimo kayak than anything, but its skin was made of Cordura and Hypalon - the same stuff they make river rafts out of - instead of seal skin. Further, they use magnesium rather than whale bones for the frames. With practice, it's possible to assemble one in about 20 minutes.
The Canadian-made Feathercrafts have crossed oceans before, but I found it best to stay within island chains - such as the Virgins or Grenadines. In order to sail, I had two lee boards and a makeshift mast, which in combination with my rudder did fine downwind. The kayak was able to carry all that I needed for camping - there are great campgrounds in the Caribbean, as well as plenty of deserted islands - such as water, food, and so forth, and still be able to make good progress each day. If Prosen is interested, I did a feature article on this subject for the May '99 issue of Canoe & Kayak. Paul Theroux, the famous travel writer, has written an entire book, The Happy Isles of Oceania - Paddling the Pacific, about paddling/sailing the South Pacific with his Feathercraft.
Klepper, a German company, also makes a fine folding kayak. In fact, they were used in the North Sea by assault forces during World War II, and at least one has crossed the Atlantic. Folbot, an American-built kayak, also makes a good one. The Web site at www.foldingkayaks.org offers a good introduction.
With a good folding kayak, Matjaz could easily have great paddling/sailing in a number of island groups in the month or so he has to spend in the Caribbean. I wish him fair winds and great paddling - it really is magical there.
Mark - It doesn't come as any surprise to us that kayakers could paddle or sail and paddle around in relatively protected areas in the Caribbean such as the Grenadines or the British Virgins - which is what we recommended to Prosen. We wouldn't even be that shocked by someone drifting long distances in the open ocean, as a German doctor did with a Klepper kayak about 50 years ago. But we still find it hard to believe that a kayaker could make it from Puerto Rico to Trinidad, or vice versa, using just a kayak and ferries. The problem is paddling/sailing upwind - such as would have to be the case between the British Virgins and St. Maarten - where there is no ferry service. There are several other very rough interisland passages that have no ferry service that we're aware of - St. Barts to Antigua, Trinidad to Grenada - that would require paddling/sailing upwind into the full force of the trades. If any kayaker has been able to sail or paddle upwind on any of those passages during the winter with a kayak, we would be most impressed. We'd even be impressed if they were able to do a much shorter paddle/sail in similar conditions, such as to the Farallones in the spring. If this is something that's done, we're not aware of it.
If airplanes are allowed into the equation,
of course it would be possible for a kayaker to get from Grenada
to Puerto Rico. Without airplanes, we're not sure it's possible.
I was going through the Letters section of the November issue when I came across a couple that really pissed me off.
First, the one by David Cahak, who seemed skeptical that Richard Van Pham was able to drift undetected through the Gulf of Catalina. I grew up sailing to Catalina from San Pedro, and sometimes there is a phenomenon called the marine layer. Oh, and let us not forget fog. I also sailed over to Catalina plenty of times on weekdays when I didn't see a single other vessel. What do you think Richard Van Pham did, load up his Columbia in a pick-up and head south to try to fool all of us?
The other letter that got to me was from Steve Brown. I don't know Steve, but it doesn't sound like he's done much singlehanding. I have, and sometimes things do go awry, and it ain't always pretty. But where does he get off with the "piece of crap boat" comment? Not everyone can afford a grand, eye-turning vessel. However, I have seen some beautiful boats skippered by folks that definitely had their heads up their asses.
Hell, let's give Van Pham a break. When the Navy recovered him, they said all he wanted was assistance with repairing his rig so he could get going again. He survived well enough out there to bring to mind the likes of Bernard Moitessier. Maybe he wasn't as careful as he could have been, but this guy is a hell of a lot tougher than some of the yacht club types I have had the misfortune of running into while they were spinning their tales at the bar.
I say let's pass the hat and get this guy another Columbia 26. Or isn't this poor, broke immigrant cool enough for that?
Chuck - Initially, there was a tremendous outpouring of support - including offers of replacement boats - for what everyone assumed was a plucky immigrant. But then Van Pham's story started to get fishy. He hadn't been in the Long Beach Downtown Marina as he said he'd been. He had thousands of dollars on him - for a weekend sail to Catalina? He'd been arrested in California, Florida, and Texas for charges ranging from armed assault to drug smuggling. He was evasive and not forthcoming about his past. He claimed to have made an impossible voyage to Chile and back. The bottom line is that you can buy a used car from him, but we're going to pass.
So what was the real story? Darned if we know. We're pretty sure he was on the boat the whole time, but we don't believe he was dismasted near Catalina. We suppose he might have ended up where he was as a result of a drug or human smuggling scam gone bad, or that he'd taken off on some wacky voyage brought on by the coma he'd been in for six months. It's unlikely we'll ever know.
As for the Columbia 26 Mark I, as long
as they were maintained, they were decent enough little boats.
Van Pham's didn't seem to have been maintained that well.
I'm an avid reader of Latitude, and am turning to you for some possible help. In July of 2001, while our families were vacationing at the Sol Mar Resort in Cabo, my brother and I hiked over to Lover's Beach for some snorkeling. We went around the corner in the direction of the Arch, where a panga driver stopped us to ask for help. In short, my brother and I were some of the first on the scene to help with an overturned glass-bottom tour boat that had been loaded with people from one of the cruise ships.
We spent what seemed like an eternity trying to get people out of the water. When the Cabo Fire Department arrived, they were transported by one of the parasailing boats and a couple of rental jet skis with employees driving. My brother worked with Tiger, the fire department's only rescue swimmer, to continue getting people out of the water, and to rescue a trapped victim from beneath the overturned boat. Then all of them had to be brought through the surf to awaiting boats. One of the tourists drowned, and two others were severely injured. All were taken off the beach on a backboard with lifejackets, and pulled through the surf with a rope to awaiting boats, surrounded by jet skis. What could have been a much worse disaster was avoided by the volunteers and fire department.
Later that day, we met with Tiger to thank him for his help and to compliment all the people from the private water rental businesses for their assistance. Tiger told us that they could have done much more if they had better equipment. He said their response time is delayed by having to get private boats to transport them to rescue scenes, and they lack the appropriate equipment for rescue work. When we asked him what we could do, he said it would be great if they could get equipment donated directly to the fire department. He says that if the stuff is given to the government in general, it might not get to the fire department.
My brother, a counselor at Fresno State, has been working with his Service Learning Class of college students, and contacts with local fire, police, and service groups, to try to acquire the needed equipment. There is quite a bit of used equipment and monetary donations already committed, and the cruise line has offered to transport any of the materials to Cabo. The bulk of the donations have been in cash, which has been earmarked for buying an inflatable and motor.
Here is where you might be able to help. We have run into a dead end on contacts for an inflatable and motor. There are no vendors in the Fresno area, or in San Luis Obispo where I live, that have been able to help with price breaks or references to get better deals. Could you help?
If anyone else wants to be a part of this, they can email Chris at chris at zimmer.csufresno.edu or call him at (559) 278-7079. Alternately, email Chuck at cfiorentino at lmusd.com, or call him at (805) 474-3790.
Chris Fiorentino, Fresno
Chris and Chuck - Believe it or not, we don't have any special connections. All we can do is suggest that you try one of the big inflatable manufacturers or distributors.
Having said that, we have to tell you that based on our considerable experience over the years at Lover's Beach - one of our favorites in the world - and other beaches in the Cabo area, we believe that many more lives would be saved and injuries avoided if an effort were made to prevent the accidents in the first place. The boat operators in Cabo - parasailing boats, water taxis and glass-bottom boats, jet ski operators and customers, sportfishermen, and all the rest - are among the most reckless and irresponsible we've ever seen. If an accurate record was kept of all the accidents and deaths, we think visitors would be stunned. Right after the end of the recent Ha-Ha, for example, a couple of the Profligate crew had to rescue some battered and bloodied tourists from yet another glass-bottom boat that had gotten too close to the rocks. And there was hardly any surf at the time. And over the years, we've had to rescue several swimmers who were ignorant of the dangers on the Pacific side of Lover's Beach. We don't think an inflatable and outboard are needed anywhere near as much as a couple of on-the-spot lifeguards, signs warning of the extreme danger in the surf and around the rocks, a boat speed limit in the bay and particularly around the rocks, and someone to enforce the rules.
In fact, we're not sure how much good an inflatable and outboard would do. If a glass-bottom boat dumped another load of tourists in the rocky surf on the Pacific side of Lover's Beach, how is the fire department even going to be aware of it? Even if they were made aware, they'd have to work their way through all the vehicle traffic to get to the marina, jump into the hopefully maintained and fueled inflatable, then motor all the way around the point. This would take at least 15 or 20 minutes - by which time the victims would either already be dead or have been brought back to town by other tourists and the small boat operators.
In our view, the people you should lean on are the cruise ship operators, to get them to lean on Cabo officials and commercial interests to hire lifeguards, install warning signs, and enforce speed limits and proper boat operation.
/ Classifieds / 'Lectronic Latitude / Home