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SOME BOATS DID STICK TO THE OFFSHORE ROUTE
In the December issue, in response to a Hans Christian 38 owner seeking options to the Baja Bash for returning to the United States from Puerto Vallarta, you wrote, "To our knowledge, not a single one of the cruising boats that tried the offshore route last year stuck with it." I know of two boats that did stick with it.
Ken 'The General' Roper departed Puerto Vallarta for San Diego on January 15 aboard Harrier, his Finn Flyer 31. Sailing solo on the offshore route, he arrived, having not stopped, in San Diego on January 29. The maximum Roper went offshore was about 500 miles.
I also left Puerto Vallarta on January 15, also intending to make a solo offshore passage to San Diego aboard my Ericson 35 Monhegan.
After getting as much as 400 miles offshore and as far north as Punta Eugenia - more than halfway up the Baja coast - I had some problems. Previously - while about 120 miles north of Cabo - I'd lost the headstay bow strap. God guided me to an adequate jury rig, but it prevented me being able to set a sufficiently large headsail, so after January 23 progress was slow. And my provisions and water began to run low. In addition, my engine - which I'd only been using to charge the batteries - quit. The only place I could point to was Cabo, so I pulled in there on February 8.
After I made some repairs and new friends, I left Cabo on March 13 on a nonstop offshore passage to San Diego. On March 22, while some 380 miles off Punta Abreojos, I tacked back for San Diego. I arrived in San Diego on March 28.
Frank E. Gumbinger
Frank - We appreciate you taking the
time to correct us - and salute your perseverance. If anybody
else attempts the offshore or clipper route back to California,
we'd love to be able to get a plot of the daily positions in
order to develop a database on this interesting strategy for
I surveyed a 1971 Islander 30 Mk II today. The survey was to be a 'noon hang'. This means I would survey the boat in the water, then survey the bottom and exterior while she hung in the Travelift slings over the lunch hour. If she looked good, she'd be lowered back into the water rather than be set on the hard. I have done hundreds - possibly thousands - of 'noon hangs'.
Things changed, however, when I attempted to close the head inlet gate valve, probably an original on the 32-year-old boat. The valve came off in my hand when the thru-hull fitting broke off. Oh well, I got a plug from my tool bag and pounded it in place. There wasn't too much water in the bilge, but it gave me a chance to test the bilge pumps. After stopping the minor leak, I notified the broker that the boat should probably be set long enough to replace that gate valve and a similar vintage gate valve on the engine coolant inlet. The galley sink and head discharge valves had been replaced with bronze ball valves sometime in the past by the vigilant original owner of the boat. Yeah, he owned her for 32 years!
When the boat came out on the lift, I walked around, hammer sounded the hull and did the rest of the things necessary. Just before I completed those tasks, the lift driver returned from lunch and the boat was moved to a spot where it could be cradled. I talked to the broker while the boat was cradled and the strap marks washed clean. I then walked back over to the boat and noticed that at the partial bulkhead forward of the head there was an athwartships crack almost a foot long and about an eighth of an inch wide, from just to port of the centerline to near the waterline. This crack was completely hidden by the strap from the Travelift. Going back inside the boat, there was absolutely no indication of the problem. If I had only done the 'noon hang', I would have completely missed it!
More often than not, I have clients and brokers say, "The boat bottom was just painted a few months ago, so we will just hang the boat for you to look at it while the lift driver takes lunch." I am probably going to rethink that policy. At the very least, I am going to add a disclaimer which states something like, "The vessel was hanging from a Marine Travelift during the exterior survey, so the straps supporting the boat obscured areas of the hull and those areas were not visually or audibly inspected."
Oh, and one other thing. I wanted to know how much to charge the client for the plug that I used, so I looked up wood plugs in the 2002 West Marine catalog. Appropriately enough, they can be found on page 911.
Jack Mackinnon, AMS
Permit me to set the record straight on Mike Barnett's letter in the December issue. As he stated, after my previous agent was unable to find me another carrier when my policy was cancelled, Bluewater did offer to insure my Cal 36 based in San Carlos with a U.S. company - even though I had recently advertised the boat for sale. The woman at Bluewater in San Diego was very helpful. I haven't decided whether to insure the boat or go bare, partly because the premium plus the cost of a required survey makes the cost of a new policy a bit pricey.
Anyway, I appreciate the excellent help from Bluewater. However, I didn't appreciate having Mr. Barnett question my integrity is his letter to Latitude. I suggest he reread my November letter to Latitude which was written before I had any contact with Bluewater. It said, in part, "Although I've never filed a claim with either, after one year, an American insurer and then a British insurer cancelled coverage on my Cal 36 in Mexico." A few weeks after writing that letter to Latitude, I spoke with a representative of Bluewater and, in response to her query about previous claims, I told her that there had been no claims on the Cal 36, but that I had had two small claims on my Express 27 moored in Detroit, one about 15 years ago and another about seven years ago.
Finally, please note again that my November letter to Latitude did not mention Bluewater or have any reference to the service they provided me, about which I have no complaints. I had never even heard of Bluewater at the time I wrote to Latitude. I was merely seeking help on where I could find coverage for my boat in Mexico. I don't appreciate having my name dragged through the mud by Mr. Barnett in your fine publication.
Ralph - It is we at Latitude who are to blame. For some reason it
didn't register that there had been plenty of opportunity between
the time you sent us your letter and the time that we published
it, for you to have contacted Bluewater. Our blunder set the
stage for misunderstanding, so we offer our sincere apologies.
I wanted you to know that I sighted a whale in the Alameda Estuary at 3 p.m. on January 12 while sailing my Tartan 26. It's not the best photo, but the shutter on my digital camera is so slow that I missed it four other times.
In 1988, my friend - now my wife - and I left San Francisco and headed south. On the way, we stopped at every marina, and in the process spent most of our cruising money. So when we got to Mexico, we were always broke. Our friend Pat Callahan and his wife had cruised Mexico in '85 and '86 on $100 a week, but when we got there the price of beer had jumped from 12 to 24 cents! So, when we got to Puerto Vallarta, we had to pick up money at Western Union. Unfortunately, we needed our passports to get the money, and we'd left them back on the boat. It cost 12 cents each to ride the bus, but we didn't have enough money for both of us to ride.
While sitting in a hotel lobby waiting for the phone, we started talking to a couple about our tale of woe. He said, "How about a beer?" We accepted, and while we were talking, he said, "When I was a college student travelling in Europe and ran out of money, a complete stranger lent me $100 when I needed it. So I'm loaning you two $100 right now, you can pay me back when you get home."
On our way home, coming up the Baja coast, we needed fuel, so we pulled into San Carlos inside of Mag Bay. I had three watches that I had bought off a homeless person, and we traded two of those watches for 20 gallons of fuel. When we got to Turtle Bay, we needed more gas, but all we had was the last watch, a camera, and a new Makita drill. The gas guy took the last watch for 15 gallons, but we still needed beer. So we walked into the nearest hardware store - it didn't have electricity - and sold the drill to a couple who couldn't speak English. In order to get a ride back to the beach, we traded our camera to the cab driver.
When we finally sailed into San Diego, all we had left was one beer, one Coke, and two gallons of fuel. We arrived on a Sunday, and the official told us it would cost more to check in. Rats! He suggested we anchor in the back bay until the next day. We went to the fuel dock instead. While the attendant helped tie our boat off, I said, "Hi, we just got in from Mexico and we're broke and we're out of beer."
"No problem," he replied, "I'll get you a case."
Yahoo, it was great to be back.
There were some interesting things about our trip. For example, we had a cat that used the toilet, we hit a whale, and another whale came up out of the water at eye level 10 feet away to have a look. People have told us that we ought to write a book, but we said, "It's just normal."
Carroll & Keri Skov
Carroll and Keri - It's funny how things just seem to work out for adventurers. In the early '60s, at age 15, we got a summer job as a cook's helper at a camp about 90 miles north of Vancouver. All we had to do was get to the dock in Vancouver and catch the ferry. Although we had $12 - a lot of money back then - and were happy to hitch all the way from the Bay Area, our overprotective parents, who were driving north anyway, insisted on dropping us off at the Oregon-Washington border. You've never seen a more pitiful sight than our mother bawling in the car while we were minding our own business trying to snag a ride. Although it was strictly against the law to hitchhike in Washington, we quickly got rides, and didn't even have trouble crossing the Canadian border. Having gotten to Vancouver a day early, we needed a place to stay. As we'd hoped, there was a movie theater that - as was not uncommon in those days - played the same movie over and over, 24 hours a day. What we hadn't counted on was that the movie was Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, in which Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor screamed at each other throughout. After unsuccessfully trying to sleep through the third showing, we were going nuts. So we walked over to the Vancouver Police Station and asked what we had to do to get a cell for the night. The pleasant officer on duty said that if we just wanted a place to sleep, he'd let us have a cell, but if we wanted breakfast, we'd have to agree to be booked as a vagrant. There was a French kid about our age travelling in a similar fashion, and as the two of us were trying to decide whether or not we wanted breakfast, the police reporter for the Vancouver paper decided to take us under his wing. "Stay at my place for the night. My wife will cook dinner, and I'll drop you off at the ferry in the morning." And that's what happened.
The next summer we got a job as a garbage man outside of Salida, Colorado. We hitchhiked there in less than two days from the Bay Area, with less than $7 in our pockets. People who gave us rides also insisted on giving us a little money, so we actually arrived with more money than we started with. A month later, we hitchhiked home with similar success, even though a co-worker came with us.
The point of all this is that we've never forgotten the many kindnesses strangers bestowed upon us when we were young and broke. Now that we're much older and have been fortunate enough to have made a little extra money, nothing delights us more than being able to help young adventurers with crew positions, food, and from time to time, some good old hard cash. We expect most of them will keep the tradition going later in their lives.
I've heard that there are periodically sailboat auctions in different Bay Area marinas, and am interested in attending. Can you put me in touch with who puts such auctions on?
Jason - Perhaps one of our readers can
help, because we're rarely aware of such auctions.
I have an idea that might seem ridiculous - but which also might be deserving of some second thought. I'll risk embarrassment and see what you think.
Is it possible that those new kite sails used by kiteboarders could be designed for use on a sailboat? I'm not an expert in the technical aspects of setting up such a rig, but it might be possible that a kite could replace the traditional mast and rigging on sailboats altogether. If you could eliminate the mast and rig, a boat would be simpler, less expensive, and more practical. And if my figuring is correct, a kite sail wouldn't create as great a heeling force on the hull as do traditional rigs, and would thereby eliminate the need for lead in the keel. Without the keel, the boat would be lighter and faster.
Also, the pull of the kite would seem to have a tendency to lift the boat up, just like the lift those kiteboarders have when they jump 30 feet out of the water. This would tend to make the boat even lighter, reducing wetted surface area and allowing the hull to move even faster through the water. Does this concept seem logical, or am I completely off my rocker and out of touch with reality?
If these basic concepts are realistic and these new kite sails prove to work well on sailboats, it might be the start of a new era in sailboat design and might make the typical sailboat obsolete. What do you think?
Matt - Propelling sailing boats with kites is not a new idea. About 15 years ago, a French woman sailed a 24-footer across the Atlantic using only free-flying kites as sails. Her boat had no mast, boom, or rigging, as she was trying to demonstrate that all boats should carry kite sails in the event they get dismasted. She made it - although crossing the Atlantic from the Canaries to the Eastern Caribbean is one of the easiest sails in the world in the sense that as long as you can stay afloat, the wind and current will get you there. Although she made it, it must not have been such a great success, because we never heard any more about it.
If you read the January edition of Latitude,
you saw that Oracle BMW at least toyed with the idea of using
a kite sail in the Louis Vuitton races. But the concept was clearly
not yet ready for prime time. Frankly, we're not sure they ever
will be, as there are enormous differences between kiteboards
and more traditional sailboats. The two biggest are the sail
area to displacement ratio and the theoretical hull speeds, which
make them extremely different animals. But who knows what the
I've been reading about the serious hull damage suffered by Tony Johnson's Ericson 39 Maverick as she finished a transatlantic crossing. In the January 20 edition of 'Lectronic, you wrote that the sort of damage that Maverick suffered is very rare to nonexistent. I remember a similar but less serious incident that Webb Chiles wrote about in his book Storm Passage. His boat developed a crack near the fin keel that caused him to bail almost continuously. His boat was an Ericson 37, which I'm pretty sure was also designed by Bruce King.
Mike - Bruce King designed both the
Ericson 37 and the Ericson 39.
In your story on the Ericson 39 Maverick showing up at Carriacou in the Eastern Caribbean at the end of an Atlantic crossing with some major cracks in the bottom of the hull forward of the mast, it was said that such a thing is virtually unheard off.
I know of a similar incident off Marina del Rey about 30 years ago. A friend owned what I believe was a Columbia 29. While racing the boat one Wednesday night when it was a little rough, but nothing special, it fell off a wave. My friend didn't notice anything, however, and put the boat away in her slip. The next morning a nearby liveaboard phoned him to report that the boat's bilge pump had been running all night. My friend returned to his boat to find a crack running from athwartships waterline to waterline across the boat.
The boat was hauled out. The folks from Columbia inspected it and took it back to the factory that day. My friend got a new boat.
I'm forwarding this response I received to my ad to sell a Rhodes 19 in Latitude a couple of months ago. It's pretty weird.
"My name is Mr. Kenvil Leei. I'm a mechanical engineer from Germany, but am based in West Africa. I would like to know how much you are willing to sell this Rhodes 19 boat for, because I visited your Web site only to find out that the boat price was $1,650. I will like to buy it in present condition. Before that, I contacted my client, who told me that that is the kind of boat he want, and that there is no problem with the price. I know that the boat is sold for $1,650, but I told my client that the boat was $6,500 and he agreed. So you should be expecting a cashier cheque of $6,500. Will you please wire me $3,850 via Western Union or Money Gram as soon as you get the cheque, and keep $1,000 for yourself as terms of agreement between the both of us. I hope I can count on you for the balance, because I will be using it for settling my developers and properties manager on a house which is yet to be completed. The shipper will come to pick the boat without giving you any stress. So send your mailing address in this format where the cheque will be sent to."
He then listed his name, address, and phone numbers.
I wonder if you've seen anything like it.
Eric - How cool is that, a middle man in Africa willing to screw over his client and split the proceeds with you, a complete stranger! We'd wire the guy the $3,850 immediately, as there doesn't seem any way that you could possibly lose out.
But if you think you're lucky, listen
to this. The illegitimate son of the sister-in-law of the third
ex-wife of the Nigerian ambassador to Benin buried $40 million
U.S. in a local dump. The money was an ambassador's back pay
from the year 2000. Anyway, the entire family except the illegitimate
son was killed during rebel attacks. The son promised that if
we would front him $50,000 U.S. to hire people to dig the money
up - labor must be expensive over there - he'd split the $40
million with us, half and half. Is he a chump or what?! We have
no idea how the Nigerian got our name or why he decided to confide
in us, but we feel blessed. Naturally, we rushed out and sent
the $50,000. We're expecting our $20 mil any day now - in fact,
we hope it arrives soon, because we put a very large nonrefundable
deposit down on an enormous boat. Actually, we were supposed
to get the money before the end of the year, so we're sure that
it's just a matter of days before we'll be able to go down to
our local Western Union and pick up $20 million in cash.
I didn't get a chance to read the November Latitude until yesterday, but when I did, I took particular notice of the letter by Sean Cody, who said he was surprised by the number of cruisers not respecting customs and immigration regulations in various countries. In your editorial response, you called for ignoring bad laws! And you included Mexican and French Polynesian regulations among the bad ones?
Are you aware of the U.S. regulations? For example, a French citizen cannot stay in America for more than three months if he or she doesn't get a visa before arriving. This is not a joke. After her three-month stay, a friend of ours went back to France, but when she tried to re-enter the United States a month later, she was stopped at the Dallas Airport. She was sent back to France the same day on the first plane, having been given no other reason than "you've already stayed enough."
European Union citizens do not need a visa to enter the U.S. as long as they stay less than three months - but this is only valid if they enter by plane. Do you know that French cruisers entering by sea must request a visa before entering the U.S.? Those who don't are stopped at Immigration, have to pay a heavy fine, and need to leave immediately. Getting such a visa is complicated and expensive.
Do you know that U.S. Customs gives a permit for one year to the visiting vessel, but the captain is supposed to show this permit to the Customs office each time he travels to a new Customs jurisdiction? It sounds a little bit like Mexico, no? Apparently this procedure is not enforced in the United States, but who knows when authorities might enforce it?
So do you think these U.S. regulations are bad? Should the foreigners ignore them?
My view is that the foreigners should follow the local regulations, and in fact, it is not so difficult. I would like to say that, having sailed in the U.S. and Mexico, that in general, the Coast Guardsmen as well as Customs and Immigration officers have been very nice everywhere we've gone so far. They have tried to help us rather than bother us.
I would like to make a suggestion that rather than sending letters to the Mexican or French authorities, who probably just do not understand what you want, why don't you contact the United States Secretary of State and ask him to negotiate a different agreement with the foreign countries, like a six-month stay without a visa for U.S. citizens in French territories, and a six-month stay for French citizens who arrive in the U.S. without visas. And in both the United States and Mexico, that the requirement to repeatedly check in be dropped.
To finish, I would like to say that we like your magazine, as it is the best sailing magazine. Unfortunately, as we are sailing in Mexico now, they are not so easy to come by, and we are going to miss the 'sexy' February cover - which should be great!
Jean Luc Villevieille
Jean Luc - Thanks for the kind words. If you'll please reread our response to Cody's letter, you'll see that we wrote, "We don't condone ignoring customs and immigration laws."
There is a major difference between the customs and immigration laws in the United States on the one hand, and those in Mexico and in French Polynesia on the other hand. Mexican regulations are justifiably worthy of scorn because they aren't published for all to see, and because nobody - the Mexican officials included - seems to understand them well enough to enforce them uniformly. We know of instances when cruisers had to drive hundreds of miles to try to get clearances for their boats only to be sent back to the very place they started - to again be directed hundreds of miles away. If more cruisers than ever are blowing off clearing in to some Mexican ports, most of the blame lies with Mexico.
The problems with the regulations in French Polynesia are a little different. After years of giving arriving cruisers six-month visas for French Polynesia, without warning, and despite specific assurances from French embassies and consulates to the contrary, they suddenly limited visas to 30 days with no renewals. In so doing, they badly screwed up the plans of many people who had invested lots of time and money in their cruises, and who intended to leave lots of money in French Polynesia. If French Polynesia were an American corporation, it would have its butt sued three ways to Sunday. As was the case with Mexico, the problem was not with the cruisers, but with a bungling government.
All the foreign cruisers we've spoken with report that cruising regulations for the United States are easy to find on a Website, are consistently enforced, and are not an undue burden in terms of time or money. Unfortunately, it's just the opposite for Mexico, and that's to Mexico's detriment. Furthermore, this is Mexico's issue to solve on its own, not something our State Department could or should get involved in. For more examples of how U.S. clearing procedures compare with those in other countries, check out this month's Cruise Notes.
As for the 'sexy February cover', it
simply didn't happen. The Wanderer had everything set up: He
was in St. Barts for two weeks, there were plenty of boats and
perfect sailing and photography conditions, and the tall, blonde
model was gorgeous, shapely, ready and willing. So what happened?
The Wanderer really isn't sure. Part of it might have been boogie
boarding a couple of hours a day at a beach sprinkled with beautiful
young women frolicking around wearing little or nothing. Maybe
there was too much of a good thing for him to get motivated.
Then, too, after a year of banging at a keyboard for 12 hours
a day, the Wanderer had drifted off into a state of extreme relaxation.
Finally, he also lost a little bit of interest because just about
every publication has followed Sports
Illustrated's lead with a 'swimsuit' edition. The last straw
was Ms. magazine, which came out with a 'Bikini Babes
Of the Movement' photo spread. The Wanderer feels bad that he
let you down, but not that bad, because there will be other opportunities.
While back in the Bay Area from the South Pacific over the holidays, I managed to catch up on the recent issues of Latitude, which friends had kindly saved for me. It's still a wonderful magazine and you haven't lost your touch. I gather from some of the recent letters that Mexico has instituted some troublesome and expensive rules for the cruisers. Do you think that any of the recent policy changes down there stem at least in part from some past cruisers whining pretty loudly about the comparatively tiny mordida paid here and there? Once upon a time most of the ports were pretty much left to their own devices by the central government, and few of the officials really wanted any 'help' running things. Ironically, those cruisers who were unhappy with the old system got their wishes. Things appear to have gotten more organized; they also got more expensive.
A similar kind of 'progress' has also occurred in the South Pacific, where yachts once were cleared in and out of the various countries with minimal expense and hassle, the past few years have seen substantial increases in fees and regulations. In Tonga, for example, a couple wanting to spend the cruising season in the country can expect to be assessed a few hundred U.S. dollars for Customs, Immigration, Health/Quarantine, and harbor fees. Ah, progress!
It seems to me that in recent years your responses to various letters complaining of fee and regulation increases are a little less sympathetic than previously. There are still at least a few of us who cruise on fairly tight budgets. To folks like us, a couple of hundred dollars here or there is likely to be a matter of importance. I hope you will still keep us all in mind when drafting your responses to your readers' letters.
While visiting the Bay Area over the Christmas holidays, I experienced an acute case of helpless anxiety watching the path of Cyclone Zoe. She first wreaked havoc on the eastern Solomons (Santa Cruz Islands). Following that disastrous encounter, she abruptly reversed course and headed straight for Viti Levu, Fiji, and more significantly for my Folkes 39 Nepenthe. It was heartburn time. Fortunately, the wicked witch turned south at the last moment, leaving Vuda Point unscathed. I returned to Fiji to find that Nick, a retired Southern California cop aboard Rise 'n Shine, had rigged my heavy lines, just in case. It was a good move, and thanks go out for the courtesy. The cruising community's continuing spirit of helpfulness and support is heartening.
Not long after Zoe, Cyclone Ami whistled down eastern Fiji, causing damage in Vanua Levu and the Lau Island group before heading for the Tongan capital, Nukualofa. There, among other things, she deposited the two aging Tongan supply vessels on the reef - which is, I suppose, better than sinking them outright. I reckon that about now potato chips, dip, and other such necessities are pretty hard to find in Vava'u and the Ha'apai. I bring up the cyclones in part because the weather wallahs of Fiji, New Zealand and Australia had predicted a mild summer hereabouts, and a shifting of the major bad weather events farther to the east. Currently I'm working on my own weather prediction system and comparing the results with the official ones. Though the details are proprietary, I can tell you that mine involves an Ouji board and dice. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Tom - Since you were last in the Caribbean near the end of your circumnavigation, much has changed. Expensive cruising fees have been instituted at many islands, not just Anguilla. There are exceptions, of course, such as Martinique, which seems to be experiencing a marine boom in part because they don't appear to be trying to gouge cruisers. But generally speaking, it's a different cruising world, as most countries - Mexico included - are on a 'fee for services' bender like in the United States.
As for Mexico, the situation is a mixed bag. For first-time cruisers making all the stops, the $20 hits every time they check in and out of a port, and the associated waste of time, adds up. But for someone such as yourself, who has been to all the bright lights and famous places and who, we suspect, no longer craves them, it's possible to spend a wonderful season in Mexico with only having to check in a half dozen times or so.
If we sound a little less sympathetic
to cruisers who complain about the higher fees, it's because
we don't see the point in whining. After all, do these people
stop at the Golden Gate Bridge toll booths and try to negotiate
paying $3.50 instead of $5? Furthermore, cruisers in Mexico do
have options in the sense that they can simply bypass many of
the places that have port captains - which is what we do. For
example, we'll often anchor at Punta de Mita, which doesn't have
a port captain, but never at La Cruz, which does. It not only
saves us $40, but doesn't waste hours of our precious vacation
Max Ebb is always one of the first things I turn to when I get my copy of Latitude. I am always rewarded by a thoughtful, interesting article that is a pleasure to read.
In addition, my wife and I have just recently embarked on a delightful voyage of discovery via Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin book series. Then came the January issue of Latitude, with Max Ebb writing about that series. I started reading Max Ebb and. . . déjà vu! I found myself transported 200 years back in time, recognizing the situation, the quotations and the characters - even if one of them was named 'Capitaine LeHelm'. It was all just delicious! And, having a smattering of background in fluid dynamics, I enjoyed the author's allusive choices of ship names as well.
Latitude is indeed fortunate to have the superb talents of Max Ebb on board!
Sherman - We couldn't agree with you
I own a Kelly-Peterson 46, and am trying to reach Doug Peterson, who designed the boat, or Jack Kelly, who marketed them. Do you have info on how to reach either one of them? Are they both still alive?
We're now sailing in the Antigua area, and I was reading my copy of Latitude while having breakfast ashore. At least four people asked me if they could have the copy when I was done with it! They're pretty rare in the Caribbean.
How can I get your writer's guidelines? I'd like to write an article about how much it really costs to operate a boat while cruising - and it's not the usual $2,000/month most people write about. I want others to be aware of how fast things add up.
Stephen - It's our understanding that Jack Kelly is still alive, but retired many years ago. As of late last year, Doug Peterson was alive enough to have been sacked by Prada following Round Robin One of the Louis Vuitton Series. Peterson is not the most sociable guy in the world, and we suspect that he'd not be interested in discussing the fine points of the boat he drew the lines for 20 years ago. If you have questions about the Peterson 44 or 46, you should come right out with them, as there is a wealth of knowledge among the folks who read these pages.
For years now, we've been kicking ourselves for not setting up some form of Caribbean distribution, and your letter has spurred us to declare that - one way or another - we will soon have Latitudes shipped to St. Maarten, Antigua and Trinidad, if not elsewhere.
We've just recently posted our Writer's
Guidelines on our Web site, www.latitude38.com.
When it comes to the cost of cruising, we've generally found
that people tend to spend whatever they have available - plus
a couple of hundred more each month. As such, there are couples
that cruise in the Caribbean for $1,000 a month, and others that
couldn't do it for less than $10,000 a month. In any event, we'd
love to hear about your experiences.
In the 1988 issue with the Master Mariners coverage, you published one of the best photographs I have ever seen of Groote Beer, the 52-ft cutter built in 1938. Would I be able to use it, with credits, for an article I'm putting together on her for Dutch sailors. If possible, I'd like to have you email me a TIF or GIF.
I don't know if you're aware, but Groote Beer is being rebuilt in Holland. A distant relative of the first Dutch owner picked her up in Oregon three summers ago, motored her up to Vancouver, and shipped her to Holland on a freighter. Jan Willem de la Porte, the new owner, plans to relaunch Groote Beer this May and is trying to invite any of the surviving former owners. My list shows seven U.S. owners and two nonprofit organizations. Maybe this mention will drag some of them out of the (oak) woodwork. I plan to attend and do an article for the Puget Sound aficionados of the Groote Beer.
My connection to the story is the fact that my uncle built the spars, blocks and rigging for her during World War II. In the early '80s, I interviewed the builder and the broker who commissioned her in 1940 for the German owner. And I have located the heirs of the true original German owner - who was not Goering. At that time, Clifford Fremstad was the owner and a friend. I sailed on Groote Beer with him on the Bay. I didn't have the guts to publicize the Goering fable fearing that it would hurt the resale value.
Would you have any idea what happened to Cliff Fremstad and why Groote Beer slipped/slept away in an Oregon slip?
I am not going to mention why my name might be familiar to you, as I'm still trying to deal with the embarrassment of the 1982 Singlehanded TransPac, when I dropped my anchor at Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, convinced that I had arrived at the finish line of Hanalei Bay, Kauai.
P.S. Did you know that apparently Groote Beer was also the inspiration to E. Annie Proulx's The Shipping News, part of the 'Hitler yacht'.
Jack van Ommen
Jack - Anyone interested in a photo that appeared in Latitude needs to email Annie at with precise information on when the photo ran. She'll make sure we have it and have the rights to it, then will get back to you with the price. We can do prints or digital versions.
We have no idea where Cliff Fremstead is or why Groote Beere ended up in Oregon. We're delighted to hear that she's being restored, however.
As for you mistaking Kaneohe Bay for
Hanalei Bay, so what if they are a couple of hundred miles apart?
If nothing else, it proved that even if you're not a good navigator,
you're a lucky one, which is far more important.
Regarding Scott Bradley's December letter about his problems with U.S. documentation procedures, we don't see the problem. During the 17 years we cruised outside the U.S., we made various arrangements for renewing our documentation. For example, when we started our (slow) crossing of the Pacific, we arranged for our mail forwarder to sign the documentation renewal papers as our agent. Nowadays, with new document papers being issued each year, the document can be faxed to wherever the boat might be - not such an onerous burden, me thinks. Besides, as a responsible citizen of this fine country, making sure that you are somewhere that you can receive your mail on time (once a year) seems like a reasonable request to me. After all, is there any country in the world where one of the major air courier services doesn't go?
I can understand some of the reasons for annual renewal, and also the imperative that it be mailed by the Coast Guard to a U.S. address only. Why should the Coast Guard make changes in its procedures for the small minority of pleasure craft, anyway? With modern fax and email communication, one shouldn't be using mail delays as an excuse for much of anything anymore.
I'm surprised by the problem Scott had in Thailand. Despite occasional delays in mail and renewals, we've never had a problem anywhere. In fact, the majority of port officials worldwide don't seem to be aware of the date stamp on the document, and have accepted an outdated photocopy of our document papers. However, this did not hold true for the French, who seem to be forever looking for another reason to feel superior to Americans and will focus on anything that is not quite right. Perhaps the increased concern over security after 9/11 has something to do with it. And if so, that's good. If the officials understand that only a U.S. citizen can be in control of a US-documented vessel, even better.
Peter & Jeanne Pockel
Peter and Jeanne - You make some good
points, but wouldn't it save everybody - including the government
- a lot of time and money if we only had to renew our documentation
once every three years?
The northwest province of Panama is Bocas del Toro - not Boca del Toro or Boca del Toros. OK?
How are the yacht clubs in the Panama Canal area treating yachties these days? While a member of the Panama Canal YC in Cristobal, I fought with my dad, the Commodore, over the treatment of the yachties by the mostly stinkpot membership at the time. The Balboa YC, on the Pacific side, was much better at handling transients. Years after my father's passing, I was invited to inaugurate a sailing trophy in his honor, and there was a forest of masts in the slips!
I ran across your Web site via a recommendation from an on-line bridge player in Berkeley, and have come to really enjoy the Changes in Latitude section. While living and working in the Canal, I came to know many great boats and sailors. For example, the Meridan 30, which was the first fiberglass boat to sail all the way around the world, Ticonderoga, Escapade, Windward Passage and others. There was also the woman named Sally who lost her boat in the South Pacific and dinghied towards Chile before being rescued. And Frank Powers, who was kidnapped in Hawaii, left to die in mid-ocean, and was rescued by a Korean ship. And great skippers such as Bob Dixon and others who crewed on the gold-platers. There were lots of good times in those days, but a few bad ones, too.
I'm very close to having the means to finally go cruising now, but the clock is ticking. I may never find the lady who could help me sail around the Spanish Main, but I keep hoping. Anyway, I still love reading about those who have grabbed the opportunity and headed out - I envy them profoundly.
By the way, the San Blas Islands of Panama are as close to heaven as I ever expect to get - particularly the Holandes Keyes, Maulki, and Chichime.
John - We don't know what it is about the Bocas del Toro, but we can never remember the name correctly and always seem to put the 's' at the end of the wrong word. Sorry.
If you're thinking about giving us that 'too old and don't have enough money' excuse for not cruising, save it until you read the following letter. You probably don't even have diabetes.
R&R IN OZ
I'm in Australia, it's December 14, and as I look back, it's been quite a year for me and my Ranger 29 JoLiGa II. There's been a lot of R&R - which for the cruising sailor stands for Repair and Replace. Here's a list of the important stuff:
New fuel tank installed, new dodger made, new Morse cable for gear shift, new cabin ports installed, new electric anchor windlass, radar arch rewelded and reinforced, new Waeco refrigeration unit, new storage step on stern, hatch boards repaired, and a new-to-me used computer for backup navigation.
You're probably thinking to yourselves, "Huh? Not much for 12 months work!" Well, first of all, this is Australia, where everybody works on Oz time. "Right Mate, first thing tomorrow, after I get done with the trawler over there." I'm slow, but in comparison to these people, I'm Speedy Gonzales.
For my computer, I've also acquired a scanner, CD writer, and new printer. My other major purchases include a TV, DVD player, toaster oven, stove, fan, and almost 300 DVDs.
When I arrived here in Australia, I only got a one-year visa, which expired on November 2 - the beginning of cyclone season. Because I'm 70 and because I'm a diabetic, I've been subjected to many medical exams and tests to extend my stay another six months. As it stands, I've got one more doctor to see. But the Catch 22 is that he's very busy and it may take months for me to get an appointment. This works in my favor, "ask me if I shivagit."
Readers - A 70-year-old diabetic with a small but well-built boat, John is further proof that it's not money nor age that stands between a person and cruising, but desire. We can't remember how long John's been out now, but it's many years. Heck, it must have been at least a dozen years ago that he fell overboard 50 miles from the Panama Canal and had to tread water for something like 12 hours before a miracle happened - a woman strolling the deck of a cruise ship at night heard his faint cry for help. The ship turned back, caught John in its spotlight, rescued him, and later found his boat.
John later spent some time in Mexico,
where he started to let his health slip. But a couple of years
ago, unhappy with the direction his life was going, he used the
idea of cruising across the Pacific as a carrot. He began spending
his time swimming laps instead of drinking. As you can see, John
made it, and still has the cruising bug. Good to hear from ya,
Great rag. I found my boat through the Classy Classifieds by running an ad for a "Boat Wanted." I got a call the day after the magazine came out, saw the boat, and bought the boat. Thanks. I am presently getting everything in order for joining the Baja Ha-Ha 2003, and the Oregon Offshore Race in May from the Columbia River to Victoria, B.C.
I am having a hard time deciding on what chart program to buy. I have looked at several and they are expensive. I ran across one by NaviChart, a company out of Malta. I would appreciate any feedback from you or your readers on the quality and usefulness of these maps (on CD) and the software.
Bruce - Congratulations on finding the boat you wanted so quickly and easily, and thank you for the kind words.
Funny that you mention chart programs, as in early January we and Tom Reardon, skipper of the Herreschoff 72 Ticonderoga for 17 years, had a discussion about them. We mentioned that we hadn't gotten around to buying one - we're afraid of new software programs - and weren't sure that we really needed one. Reardon said it was true that such programs aren't essential, but they really are fun - and in places such as the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast in particular, really are valuable.
If anyone has been using a chart program
they really like, why not drop us a couple of lines about it.
Any idea what the weather and surf conditions will be like in mid-March just north of Puerto Vallarta this year? I'm thinking El Niño.
Mark - El Niño or no El Niño,
it's going be sunny and hot during the day, and plenty warm at
night. The winds will generally be mild. It's an easy prediction
because it's like this all winter long in that part of Mexico.
As for the surf conditions, our crystal ball doesn't project
that far in the future - but we'll have our surfboards at the
ready. If you have a chance to be down there and pass it up,
you should rubber stamp 'Foolish' on your forehead.
I once got a really killer weather Web site from 'Lectronic Latitude. It had something to do with the University of Hawaii and weather satellites. Unfortunately, my old computer crapped out and I need to bookmark it on my new one. If you find it for me, it would help out mucho.
Angela 'The Surf Queen' DeVargas
Surf Queen - We suspect you're thinking
of the late Doug Vann's Web site "for those crazy enough
to surf and sail" at www.redboat.com/weather.html.
We're happy to see that the site continues to live on, presumably
as a tribute to Vann, who was both an adventurous sailor and
a terrific person.
I know there are a bunch of Doug Peterson-designed Serendipity 43s here in the Bay. Our team bought the boat formerly known as Terminator (ex: Pied Piper, ex: Traveller: ex: Real Crude) last year. We've renamed her Running With Scissors, something all our mothers also told us never to do. I know of several other 43s here in the Bay and close by, and we'd like to resurrect the Peterson-Serendipity 43 IOR class as the Jurassic Y.C. We did Vallejo Race last year, and will do it again this year.
Here are the 43s that I know about: Samiko*, wedge cabin at Coyote Point; Shave Ice*, full cruising conversion at Oyster Point; Corsair*, in Sausalito; Dancing Bear; Lone Star; Midnight Sun, flush deck at Jack London Square; Scarlett O'Hara, allegedly refitting in San Diego. And our Running With Scissors at Sierra Point, Brisbane. An asterisk means that I have a contact name and number.
I've heard rumors of several other S-43s in Northern California, especially Richmond and Alameda. Wouldn't it be fun to do Vallejo as a group, with chutes and bloopers, or maybe even recreate the dinosaurs' trips to the Big Boat Series?
Please let me know if you can connect me with any other Serendipity 43s, or if you have one and want to play.
Loren - We have fond memories of the
Peterson-Serendipity 43s. They were the hottest things going
in the early '80s, when we did one of our first big reporting
trips to Nassau for the SORC, which was then the biggest thing
in U.S. racing. A few years later, Tiburon's Bob Moe - who we'd
once sold a new Islander 36 to - decided to go into production
with the design, and gave them the name Serendipity 43. They
continued to be competitive boats in the Clipper Cup in Hawaii
and over at the Admiral's Cup in England. These days quite a
few people have converted them into cruising boats. Good luck
on assembling a quorum.
In the January issue Mike Fulmor asked about the whereabouts of the 40-ft Alberg-Alden Staghound that his father had owned and which had been so successful in the '53 and '55 TransPacs. The last time I saw this beautiful yacht was at the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in 1992. Gary Brookins, the owner, had completely stripped the interior out, and the boat was just sort of languishing there waiting to be rebuilt again. I say again because she had already undergone a 'to the bare hull' rebuild from 1977-1981.
Perhaps a little background is in order. Gary obtained Staghound from Paul Hirst, whom he'd met in Okinawa around 1976. Paul had been cruising aboard the boat throughout the Pacific and the Sea of Japan, but had been diagnosed with cancer. Paul kept cruising as long as he could, but finally had to leave the boat on a mooring in Taiwan to return to Hawaii for treatment. He would never return to the boat. I don't know how long the boat was in Taiwan, but Paul sold her to Gary for one dollar on the condition that Gary would get the somewhat-neglected ketch sailing again.
Gary and crew sailed Staghound to Okinawa, where he was stationed in the Navy. Soon after, he took her out of the water because she kept trying to sink. Only then did he realize the full extent of the rot and deterioration of the hull. To make a long story short, it took over four years of blood, sweat and tears from dozens of people to get Staghound back in the water.
Gary sailed Staghound from Okinawa in May 1981 and arrived in Hawaii in 1982.
MORE ON STAGHOUND
In the January issue you published a letter of mine asking if anybody knew the whereabouts of Staghound, the 40-ft ketch that my father raced with great success in two TransPacs in the mid-'50s. Jim Cook of Hawaii responded to my letter with the following email:
"Staghound is moored on E Dock several boats away from mine at Kaneohe YC on Oahu. She has been here for quite some time and is owned by a master shipwright Gary Brookins. The boat is rarely used and not in good condition. I hear he has plans to restore her, and he certainly has the skills. His company builds a series of classic power runabouts, he has just introduced an electric launch, and he spent several years completely restoring a Cal 40 that may race in this year's TransPac. Even though Staghound is an oldie, she still has the look of someone who's been there and done that!"
Since Cook gave me Brookins' number, I called Gary. He told me he is thinking of renaming Staghound Cobbler's Kids because he just hasn't had the time to give her the attention she needs. He has replaced many of the rotted ribs - previously sistered - and still takes her out for the required 'quarterly sail' to keep the slip, but it sounds like he is a little overwhelmed by the prospect of trying to put her all back together again. I wish there was an easy solution to this, as she's a great boat and I would love to take her sailing.
In Latitude's editorial response
to my letter, you mentioned what a "hell of a sailor"
my dad was, and you're right about that. However, much of
Prent's success in the TransPac was due to the exceptional navigation provided
by crewmember Bob Leary - who is still in Hawaii and has
his boat moored near Staghound's slip. Bob's son Bill
Leary happened to get a letter printed in the same issue of Latitude
about a different subject. Talk about coincidence?
It was 1996, and I had once again signed up my 20-ft C Class scow for the annual Mug Cup Race on the St. Johns River. Now in its 50th year, the race is a 48-miler that starts in Palaka and ends in Jacksonville, Florida. It's an all day sail along a wide winding river that flows north.
I had chosen Frank, a novice sailor who nonetheless appreciated the skills required to sail a C scow, as my crew. We enjoyed each other's company, having a beer, and sailing on the edge of the 45-year-old boat's limits. Although we would be carrying four six-packs of beer, we were serious, confident, and determined - to have a good time.
The starting gun went off at 8:30 a.m., and by 9:00 a.m. we were moving along at four knots and enjoying our first beers. After a few hours the wind began to pick up. It was a little more difficult to manage the beers, but not enough to slow consumption. But it was blowing 12 knots at the halfway point, and we were having a great time. "We are men, and we are having the times of our lives sailing with over 200 other boats," we thought.
On the final miles of reaching toward the finish, the spray was coming across the deck, and after all those beers I couldn't hold it any longer. It was the call of the wild, and I had to answer. Usually you can find a way to take a leak in light air without offending those around you, but now I was in a predicament, as I didn't want to break the concentration of my crew, who was transfixed, scanning ahead, adjusting the sail, and drinking beer. So with a beer in one hand and the tiller in the other, I decided to go right there where I was sitting. Frank was far enough forward so that it couldn't possibly affect him and the spray was going to quickly wash it away.
So, as I continued to steer, I went 'with the flow' so to speak. What a wonderful warm feeling as I relieved myself of all that built up pressure, pressure that had forced me to urinate right at my helmsman's position. But what's this? Suddenly, I realized that this warm liquid acted much like silicone lubricant. I felt the tiller slip from my grasp and . . . my gosh, my beer. "Fraaaaaaank!" I screamed as I slipped off into the 'drink', as my father calls it.
Frank quickly managed to singlehand the boat back to where I was swimming. I grasped for the boat, but was unable to hang on. As he brought her around again, I decided that I would need both hands to pull myself back aboard. Besides, the can of beer I was swimming with was now a 50/50 mix of river and suds. I abandoned the can and was able to hold on to the boat until I could pull myself back aboard.
Once aboard and having caught my breath, Frank pointed out the number of boats that were approaching us to assist in my rescue. Serious thoughts crossed my mind, as I realized it was the dumbest thing I'd ever done while sailing. I recall it now: the excitement of racing, the euphoria of sailing and the mixture of alcohol is not a good combination. I vowed that in the future I would limit my drinking while sailing.
I still sail, still race, and even have a few beers on a limited basis while sailing. But that one experience has made me, if you'll excuse the pun, older-bud-weiser.
Tom - We'll never understand the inclination
to have a beer for breakfast or even a sundowner every night,
but we do imbibe occasionally. As we look back over our years
of sailing, many of the dumbest things we ever did were while
drinking. The problem is that they were also some of the most
fun things we ever did. Drinking and sailing, nobody should ever
forget that they can often be a tragic combination.
While visiting friends in Mexico a few months back, a friend told another of his friends about some of my experiences in the rivers of the central and northern parts of South America. This gentleman asked me to wait while he went home and returned with a copy of Latitude.
I'm a minister of Christ Jesus, and in the mid-'60s I went to Bolivia to do my work. For the next 10 years, I ministered in Bolivia and other places. In the early '70s, my wife and I moved to the back country of north Bolivia. The only local transportation there is by water. We enjoyed this work until 1974, when the government of Bolivia was overthrown. By the first of December, we had decided to move to Venezuela by boat. This involved travelling on the Rio Madeira to the Rio Amazonas. Then we went up the Amazonas to Manaus, Brazil. There we turned north onto the Rio Negro, and the river carried us into Venezuela. Once in Venezuela, we took the Casiquiare Canal, a breakaway from Rio Orinoco. During this last 6.5-day stretch, we saw no signs of recent humanity. We did, however, see many ancient writings cut into rock.
Before reaching the flat land on the Orinoco, we had our second portage. Then we followed Rio Orinoco to tide waters. The people of Venezuela said it was a miracle that we were alive after such a trip, and proved it by treating us as though we were royalty. Even the government overlooked the fact that our papers were months out of date. In my account of the trip, I have many more details, dates, and maps. I have also detailed what I teach and believe. I expect it to be published.
I'll be 93 in two months. My wife has passed on and I make my home in a 35-ft diesel bus conversion. I would be tempted to trade it for a liveable, safe sailboat to spend the rest of my days in Latin America.
Elmore - If you're "tempted"
to trade your bus for a liveaboard boat to sail Latin America,
don't equivocate too long, or the opportunity will pass you by.
Good luck with your decision.
It's a funny society we have. Tom Laney's Splinter Cell, Red Faction 2, a new Army 'be all you can be' video game, and countless violent television shows and movies all seem to go unprotested. But put a girl in a bikini on the cover of a sailing magazine and watch out! Let's see, there must be some way to work this into the culture of victim thing. How about my heroically pure thoughts on the genuine, stainless, unadulterated adventure of sailing has been forever sullied? Would it be unthinkable to request monetary compensation? Maybe I could help sort through the applications for next month's cover to be sure nothing else offensive gets published?
Seriously, I'm really enjoying the letters of response about that cover. Especially the ones about the two men on the cat and the ones explaining the likelihood of finding scantily-clad folks on boats - you know, kind of like on the beach.
Emery Cove usually has plenty of Latitudes to go around, and 'Lectronic Latitude comes to my home for free. However, if you continue to fight the good fight and take a stand for the sensual and sexual, I don't think I will be able to resist sending some money for a subscription. My $26 check is waiting.
I was catching up on my Latitudes here in the South of France, when I saw that you encourage photo entries from uninhibited sailing ladies. I enclose a few photos from last summer in Mallorca on my Outremer 43 catamaran Laia. I've included two photos of Cathi near Palma, and a photo of myself, naked except for my safety harness. Yes, I'm less photogenic, but I included it to re-establish some balance for the politically correct.
I've also enclosed a shot of Cathi working the rat-line on the Baltic tallship Greif, just to prove that she's a real sailor.
Cathi agrees that you may publish these photos. In fact, she's enthusiastic. While I had planned to send you only the photo where she is shown grinding the winch, she suggested that I also send you the one with the shadow of my hand over her breast.
Please note that there is a club in France for people who like to boat naked, called Nautena. I am not a member, however.
Readers - Noel used to own a Union 36 at Schoonmaker Marina in Sausalito, and later cruised her to Mexico. He then took some jobs in Europe, caught the catamaran disease, and bought an Outremer 43 that he keeps in southwestern France.
[To see the photos to which Noel refers,
you will need to get a copy of the February issue of Latitude
In your response to Tim Bean's Working Hard Not to Alienate Anyone letter in the January issue, you touched on the subject of free speech on the U.C. Berkeley campus by writing, "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." Wanderer, you should have been a carpenter, because you sure can hit the nail on the head. Free speech and rational thinking abilities are the key to development. If you want to race sailboats, cruise the world, or simply live a happy life, you need to be able to think clearly.
I am a returning student at Sacramento State at the young age of 40, and I see your impression of college today manifested very clearly. One thing I have learned is that one should express no firm opinion about anything while in class. The way to get high marks in the liberal study classes is to simply learn what the instructor tells you is important, and then feed it back to them with some passion and emotion.
My father was an English major at San Francisco State in the 1960s. When I explained this opinion to him, he laughed and called me a good bullshiter. He hopes that one of my instructors will hand me back one of my papers and say, "Try again, you're trying to con me." I hope so, but I really doubt it will happen.
Free speech and rational thought is not held above other rights as the key to growth and development anymore in most classes. Of course, the instructors make it clear that all opinions are welcome, but their opinions are firmly entrenched and the students for the most part are simply afraid of making waves. Most are struggling to finish school, and they're simply fulfilling their general education requirements. Good heated debate is rare. Most students are afraid of offending some group and being labeled for the remainder of the class.
So the goal becomes to play a role as a concerned student who wants to learn to think right from the master. Is it sad? Is it bullshit? Probably, but it works every time on today's campus. My advice to students and young sailors is to make friends with the bright, involved students and develop opinions. It is okay to believe something is good or bad. Moderation is the stuff of the mediocre. As Buddy Melges points out, rarely does sailing up the middle win a race. Take a chance on yourself. But if you want high marks at college, do not express opinions in class. Simply express concern and emotion, and get to know the instructor. Free rationalism is only going to get you labeled as a loud mouth distraction to what the master is feeding the students. You'll have to practice your critical thinking skills elsewhere - perhaps on the race course.
I'd love to hear what others think.
Paul - Thanks for the kind words. We
think there ought to be a mandatory freshman class at the University
of California called Life 101. The basic lessons would be: 1)
Don't complain too much, because while the United States isn't
perfect, the fact that you're here means you're luckier than
99.99% of people ever born. 2) Life isn't fair - just ask somebody
living in the Middle East or Africa - so try to get beyond the
self-pity. 3) Don't blame others for your problems because you
know dammed well most of them are self-inflicted. 4) If most
activists really wanted to help, they would emphasize your personal
responsibilities rather than your personal rights. For example,
it's your responsibility not to get AIDS, not to die in a car
crash with a drunk driver, not to overdo alcohol, drugs, and
tobacco, and not to waste all your time hanging out with idiots.
It's also your responsibility to make the best use of your abilities,
make intelligent decisions, eat decently, get exercise, and have
lots of fun. 5) All work that is done well is dignified work
- even if you start out by flipping burgers for minimum wage.
6) If you're going to depend on handouts from the government
and/or others, be willing to accept crumbs. 7) Shut up from time
to time so you can actually listen to differing points of view.
8) Never trust anyone or any group that can't laugh long and
hard at themselves. 9) Treat others like - duh - you'd like them
to treat you. The longer you take to learn these nine lessons,
the more unhappy you'll be. Class dismissed.
I see the question of Max Props falling off the sail drives on your catamaran have come up again. I have been thinking about this off and on since the last mention, and wonder if these props are causing a third harmonic frequency somewhere in a high range. I believe you said that there was no problem on a single prop setup. Could it be that the two props working against each other are creating a high frequency that can't be heard or felt? This could be transmitted through the hulls or through the water.
Several years ago, I worked in a machine shop where they were experimenting with high frequency vibrating machines. It had its advantages except everything on the machine loosened up and the machine almost fell apart.
Food for thought?
Don - To review, after happily using Max Props on Big O for nine years and on Profligate for four years, we had two fall off in less than a year. Then we had a Flex-O-Fold fall off. But we're not alone. Jay Gardener of Adventure Cat reports that they once lost a three-bladed, stainless steel, folding prop made in Australia, a prop he described as "mechanically impossible to come off." He can't figure it out either. The 65-ft cat Swaliga in the Caribbean has also dropped a Volvo folding prop.
Our current explanation for our prop
problems is severe electrolysis, but it's not entirely supported
by all the evidence. So we're still confused and keep backup
props onboard. We haven't ruled out vibration and harmonic frequencies.
Mark Thomas, who sails the N/M 39 Raven
and specializes in the adverse affects of vibration and harmonics
on machines, tells us they are very possibly the cause of our
The staff at Pacific Ocean Racing, Ltd. regret to announce that we are cancelling the CrossPac Doublehanded Race from San Francisco to Australia by way of Hawaii that was scheduled for July. As of the entry deadline of January 1, we only had three entries. While they were excellent teams, it was clear that three entrants did not justify holding the race. It may seem premature to cancel the race in January, but since the CrossPac participants from the western Pacific will also be doing the Osaka Cup, which starts in March, it was necessary to let them know the status of the CrossPac.
Our sincere thanks go out to our competitors who registered for the race: Ivan and Sybille McFayden, on Funnel Web; Brian Peterson and John Bankart on Maverick II; and Dan Doyle and Bruce Burgess on Two Guys on the Edge. We also want to thank the clubs that agreed to host the race: the Golden Gate YC, the Hawaii YC, the Waikiki YC, and the Newcastle Cruising YC.
First, the obligatory - yet absolutely heartfelt - kudos for an incredible publication. For those of us planning and dreaming of the cruising life, Latitude is an indispensable source of information and inspiration.
We are looking forward to joining the Ha-Ha this fall as our doorway to a year or two afloat. As we intensify our planning - and spending - for the dream, we have turned our attention toward yacht tenders. We need to get one. This is a major expense, of course, and we'd like to get the boat/outboard combination just right. As with every other aspect of sailing, we are faced with a myriad of choices comprising need versus desire versus reality.
In any event, we'd like to share our outboard-dinghy decision, the reasons for it, and get some feedback from you and the invaluable readers of Latitude. We're leaning toward the purchase of 10-ft High-Pressure Inflatable Floor (HP) inflatable with a 6 hp outboard. My understanding of the issues are that it's a balancing act between performance and portability. While we would like nothing more than an 11-ft RIB with a 15 hp engine, we don't believe it would be practical for our situation, as we have a 35-ft boat with 11.5-ft beam. We think we need to sacrifice some performance in exchange for portability.
We're not going to trail the tender behind the boat while voyaging, and I think hanging it on davits from the stern would make our boat stern heavy, create excessive windage, and other problems we don't have enough experience to comprehend yet. Stowing a RIB on the foredeck would also cause obvious problems while underway. And even if we could get the RIB hull down below, which we doubt, it doesn't seem like an elegant solution.
So we need portability. This leaves us a choice of roll-ups and HP inflatable floor boats. From what we've read and seen, the roll-ups and slatted floor boats can be a hassle to set up and breakdown. It seems that the trade-off between a roll-up and an HP is in the floor's durability. Obviously, we don't want a flat bottom boat, and both roll-ups and the HPs boast inflatable keels. Do these keels really work? I know they wouldn't approach the performance of a RIB, but are they qualitatively better than the flat-bottoms?
In terms of the outboard, my understanding is that due to the light weight of High Pressure Inflatables, they can plane with much less horsepower. The engine's weight is also an issue. From the different manufacturers we've looked at, there is big a jump - virtually double - in weight when going from a 6 hp to an 8 hp engine. It's about 55 lbs versus over 100 pounds.
It makes sense to me that a 10-ft inflatable floor boat with a 6 hp engine would suit our needs quite well. So that's where we're at. There are a host of other issues that, for the sake of brevity, I have not brought up.
The HP boats are fairly new to the market, so we're interested in what kind of experiences cruisers are having with them. How easy are they to set up and stow? How do they perform? How well will they hold us? Are there other issues we haven't thought of that make us look like complete fools?
Mike - Thanks for the kinds words. Right after we put this issue to bed, we're headed down to the Zihua Sail Fest, where Profligate will be headquarters for the dinghy-in cocktail party. As such, it may be the perfect opportunity to survey active cruisers on what they think about their dinghy-outboard combinations. We'll specifically try to speak with folks who have cruising boats less than 36 feet in length. If all goes well, we'll have a report in the March 1 issue.
You're wise paying so much attention to the dinghy-outboard issue, because first-time cruisers rarely appreciate what a significant role it will play in their cruising lives. Unless you spend your cruise in a marina, you will be using the dinghy-outboard all of the time. We think you've identified two of the three crucial issues: 1) Performance and 2) Ease of Use. But don't forget 3) Reliability.
As far as we're concerned, the most shortsighted move a cruiser - especially one going to Mexico - can make is getting a dinghy that doesn't plane. It would be like living in Los Angeles without a car; it can be done, but not well. When evaluating performance, you need to check out the differences between two-stroke and four-stroke outboards. Two-strokes are lighter but burn more fuel; four-strokes pollute less but are much heavier. But the real kicker may be the difference in performance. One friend in the marine industry did the Green thing by buying a four-stroke, but is so disappointed in the lack of power that he's driving to Arizona to buy a two-stroke replacement. The new two-strokes are said to pollute much less than the old ones, but we don't know how close they're coming to four-strokes.
Ease of use is also very important. If your dinghy-outboard combination is a pain to set up and break down, you'll feel trapped and will self-limit your adventures. It's possible to tow a dinghy for short distances when it's calm, but it's a terrible habit to get into, as you'll start to do it in conditions that aren't appropriate. We took our Freya 39 to Mexico for five seasons and used an 11-ft flat-bottomed Metzler inflatable with inflatable floor tubes that broke down into a pretty small package. Naturally, it wouldn't handle conditions that a V-bottom RIB could take, but we were quite happy with it, so we'd certainly consider dinghies with inflatable floors for a boat your size. Ours was powered by a 7 hp Suzuki and would plane with up to three people. Although they don't make Metzlers anymore, we're sure there's something even better today.
If you're a craftsman and have time - probably not likely if you're getting ready to cruise - you might look into plans for building a nesting dinghy. We haven't seen a lot of these, but the ones we've seen seem to have worked quite well and broken down into two manageable pieces.
Whatever you do, insist on reliability. It doesn't matter if you can buy a 1973 Sears 15 hp outboard for $100 in running condition, because you're going to want a modern outboard - there have been monumental improvements - that can withstand extremely heavy use. Similarly, beware of buying a used inflatable that's cheap because it has a couple of slow leaks. Unlike the Caribbean, where inflatables and outboards are widely available at bargain prices, in Mexico they are expensive and there is a limited selection.
If any of our readers cruising with
boats less than 35 feet have discovered a great dinghy-outboard
combination, we'd love to hear about it.
I decided to sail around the Farallon Islands on Sunday, May 18, and invited my fellow Islander 36s from the Bay Area to join me for safety and camaraderie. I chose this date because of the favorable currents and my expectation of favorable weather. The response has been impressive, and some non-Islander owners who heard about the cruise have requested permission to tag along. I would like to open up the invitation to any seaworthy sailing vessel from the Bay Area.
Can you please add this event to your calendar?
So far the Islander 36 respondents have been Charles and Kathryn Hodgkins, Mischief; Sandy and Rick Van Mell, Vanishing Animal; Karen and Fred Loeser, Truckee; Frank Burkhart, Island Girl (offering his extra spinnaker to anyone who needs it); Smokey, Solace; John Melton, Freedom Won; Robert Aston, Pegasus; Joseph Krensavage, Mustang; Mike Dickson and Daphne Jackson, Nimbus; David Morton, Vivace; Jim Garrison, Raspberry Tart; Barry and Sylvia, Tomcat; Tom Furlong, Vitesse (maybe); Wall and Nancy, Snowflower (maybe); Bruce and Carol Hunter, Escape (maybe); Ron and Karen Damsen, Woodbine.
Other skippers and boats expected to tag along: Steve Saul, Time Out, Tartan 35; Patrick Turner, Salt Shaker, Cape Dory 35.
I'm planning on getting underway from slip #239 in the San Francisco Marina at 0700 and will be monitoring VHF channel 71.
Can you comment on any liability I may be exposing myself to? Do I need to issue a disclaimer of liability?
Joseph - If you have any assets at all, we suggest you consult at least two lawyers regarding your potential liability, and whether a liability waiver would offer you any protection. Although Latitude founded the Baja Ha-Ha and thinks it's a terrific event, we sold it because anybody can sue anybody, and in this litigious country, just about everybody does. After talking to the lawyers and evaluating the potential risks versus the potential rewards, get back to us and tell us whether you really want the event listed in the Calendar with you as host.
You have a couple of other options. First, form some kind of sailing organization and join US Sailing, which will allow you to buy regatta liability insurance. It's about $500 a year no matter how many events you host. But it might be a whole lot easier, less expensive, and would expose you to less personal liability if you have the event hosted under the auspices of the Islander 36 Association. That way if somebody gets hurt and decides it was your fault for suggesting the sail, they get to sue the association, not you. At least we think that's how it works.
Is this a great country for lawyers
There were two omissions in your replies to two recent letters: When a reader asked what documents he needed to clear into Ensenada, Mexico, you listed three items: passports, registration or documentation, and money. You left out proof of insurance. We just moved our boat from Long Beach to the Cruiseport Marina in Ensenada, and they specifically asked for proof of insurance. It's probably also required at Coral Marina and the others.
By the way, we did a little comparison between Cruiseport Marina and Marina Coral. Coral suffers from much more surge as, unlike Cruiseport, it's not inside the main Ensenada breakwater. Coral costs about 50% more and is several miles north of town, but it has a pool and all the hotel amenities. Cruiseport Marina is two blocks from downtown. On the other hand, Cruiseport is a little short of toilets and showers, and it's a fair walk to the toilets from some gangways.
In another letter, you replied that there were four ways north to Vancouver from Mexico - via Hawaii, harbor hop, Clipper Route, or truck. Even though the reader specified a summer return and you responded about early summer, the best option is harbor hopping with longer legs in the late spring to take advantage of the southerlies that come with passing lows. We did the Long Beach to Vancouver trip leaving in early May, and stopped at Port San Luis, Monterey, Eureka, and Coos Bay. We anchored in the north lee of Point Arena for a day to let gale force southerlies blow through. The sailing varied from very good to motor sailing, but the northwest swells were tamed so there was really no painful bashing.
Jeff - To clarify, you don't have to have boat and liability insurance to clear into Mexico, but you do have to have them in order to get into most Mexican marinas.
When talking about getting to Vancouver
from Mexico, we're not sure how many lows come so far south that
late in the year. It would be interesting if we could see some
statistics. As for your trip north from Southern California,
riding the southerlies would be the best way to go by far. If
you kept a daily log of your noon positions and the weather,
we and a lot of our readers would be interested.
Do you have an address for Les MacNeill and Marsha Stromsmoe of the British Colombia-based Rio Nimpkish? About a year ago you had an article about how the couple - who were making their way back to Canada from the South Pacific - had been the victims of a brutal beating and robbery in Papua New Guinea. We had cruised with the couple in Australia and had done some hikes with them before they took off for PNG. In fact, we were hiking in PNG when they were attacked. The last we heard, Les had been taken back to Canada for medical treatment.
We were very saddened to hear about their misfortune and are wondering if you might have their address. We found some photos of their boat and thought they might enjoy seeing them. We'd be grateful if you could help.
In the past season we departed Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia, to cruise New Caledonia and Vanuatu. We arrived in New Zealand for our second visit in November.
A note to readers thinking about visiting French Islands in the Pacific: The French are being a bit sticky and only allowing Americans a 30-day stay in their territories unless you get a visa from a consulate or embassy in the United States. For those heading across the Pacific to French Polynesia, this creates a time-line issue that needs to be addressed.
Thomas & Pamela Howell
Thomas and Pamela - In last month's Changes we published a report on Les and Marsha describing their situation. Since you and others in the South Pacific may have missed it, here it is again:
"In December of last year you ran an item about Les MacNeill and Marcia Stromsmoe of Rio Nimpkish, who were making their way from the South Pacific back to their homeport of Victoria, B.C.," writes James MacNeill. "If you recall, they were viciously beaten while ashore at Papua New Guinea. To update the story, they were medically evacuated to Australia, and later Canada. Marcia estimates that she's at 90% of her previous abilities. Les is physically fine, but has a serious brain injury that caused him to lose his short-term memory and ability to do abstract thinking. Fortunately, he can remember everything up to the attack. He also retains his sense of humor and spirit, saying he won't let that "#!&% at #!" ruin his life.
Earlier in the year, Marcia returned to Rabual with three friends to sail Rio Nimpkish back to Canada. To compound the previous troubles, she discovered that the boat had been broken into twice while in the care of the local yacht club! A lot of stuff was lost, the most serious besides their photos being their address book. Given all that has happened, the couple has begun to wonder if they are atoning for something bad they did in a previous life. In any event, they'd like to let cruising friends they'd met in the Pacific know they can be contacted at stromsmoe at hotmail.com; at 583 Toronto Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 1P1; or at (250) 381-2176.
They would love to hear from you. After
Marcia and the two friends sailed Rio
Nimkish back to Victoria, the boat was sold, which was quite
sad. As is the case with many cruisers, the couple hadn't been
insured for their losses."
Here are some thoughts about oil spills brought to mind by Latitude's mention of the sorry Prestige incident and its multinational chain of ownership:
While the oil spill emanating from the sinking of the Prestige off Spain is an environmental tragedy and an indictment of our poor management practices, it may be valuable to put it in perspective. The 20 million gallons spilled does not put this accident in the top 10 among oil spills since 1960. The Gulf War discharge of 240 million gallons into the Persian Gulf in 1991 tops the list. The Exxon Valdez at 10 million gallons ranks 47th among oil spills. Every year almost 240 million gallons of used motor oil reaches the sea as runoff from land and streets, storm drain disposal, and landfill seepage. This annual total is more than 10 times the Prestige loss.
The used refined oil with additives and combustion products is much more toxic than crude oil which, after all, is a natural product that has been seeping into the environment for millennia. We all need to do our part to minimize the discharge of refined oil and work continuously to make tankers and pipelines safer as well.
Mike - It would be nice if we could do without oil, but for right now that doesn't seem to be the case. Since each gallon of oil is estimated to provide 300 man hours of benefit, the stuff has become almost as essential to modern life as oxygen. Therefore, we couldn't agree with you more, that oil needs to be extracted, refined, and transported as safely as possible. And that each one of us has to do our little part, too.
Furthermore, we think at least 5% of
each year's oil production ought to be set aside for the making
of condoms. After all, nothing would help the planet more than
reducing the world's population by 50% - without it being the
result of nuclear weapons or germ warfare, of course.
This is to thank you and all your staff who were involved in selecting the photo of my boat Vita e Bella for the front cover of the January issue. I had such a great time on the Baja Ha-Ha, and now this! It will be framed and hung in a very special place in my home in Seattle. Thanks again for all that you all did to make the Ha-Ha 2002 so successful.
Many of your Bay Area readers will remember Lauren Arena, who was my assistant in the YRA office during the mid-1980s, and who then took over in 1987 for five years. Along with the regular duties of that office, she was also instrumental in the organization of the annual Volvo Regatta which was held over Memorial Day Weekend.
Lauren left the Bay Area in 1992 and opened a restaurant in Astoria, Oregon, called Someplace Else. It was a success, but after 10 years she was thinking of selling it and returning to Northern California. Unfortunately, Lauren didn't get the chance. She died on January 8, at age 56, from pneumonia.
The January Changes in Latitudes had a comment from a Ha-Ha participant complaining about sailors who have their masthead and deck level running lights on at the same time. I share the complaint. It also bothers me when a skipper runs his steaming light at the same time as his masthead tricolor.
Wanting to avoid the embarrassment of failing to practice what I preach, I devised a system to prevent either of these situations. My electrical panel has one circuit breaker for my running lights. The output from the breaker leads to a switch that allows me to select either masthead or deck level running lights. The output from the deck level side of the switch also runs to another switch that allows me to turn my steaming light on or off. With this setup, I prevent an illegal combination of lights.
Thom - There are a couple of good reasons for having both deck level and masthead running lights. The former are often better in close quarters such as San Francisco Bay, while masthead tricolors are easier to see out on the open ocean when there are swells. In addition, having two systems provides redundancy. However, running both deck level running lights and a masthead tricolor at the same time is illegal because it indicates that you're something other than a sailboat. Quiz: What does it indicate?
When it comes to running lights, our big complaint is with cruise ships. They're lit up with so many bright lights it's often impossible to find the running lights.
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