THE FAMOUS SINKING IN THE LATE '70s
I'm trying to find information about a sailboat - I think there was the word 'Aloha' in her name - that sank in the Pacific in the late 1970s or early 1980s. I believe that I first read about it in an issue of Latitude back in '86, but I can't remember for sure. It was a famous incident as three of the five people aboard survived despite spending many days adrift in liferafts.
The vessel was sailing from Hawaii for Sausalito. As I recall, the owner's name was Jim, and he was aboard with two women. There were also two experienced male sailors aboard who had been hired for the trip. I think the owner and one of the women later died.
The vessel struck something in the middle of the night and sank within a few minutes. She went down so fast that some of the crew didn't even have time to get dressed before climbing into the two liferafts. One of the women and one of the men got into one liferaft, while the second woman and the two other men got into the second raft. The rafts quickly drifted apart, and the survivors were picked up hundreds of miles apart.
Can you direct me to a website that has more on this incident? Or the back issue of Latitude 38 that carried the story?
Sebastian - Although you have almost every detail wrong, we're certain you're talking about the loss of Ray Jackson's 42-ft double-ended wood ketch Spirit, which sank for unexplained reasons on September 27, 1976, while on her way from Oahu back to her home port of Sausalito. Owner Jackson had sailed the boat - which was in fine condition - thousands of miles that summer, but didn't make the trip home because of a bad back. There were five people aboard: skipper Bruce Collins, and four young folks who had known each other from Marin County. They were Jim Ahola, who was Jackson's brother-in-law, Durel Miller, Camilla Arthur, and Nancy Perry. Ahola and Miller were part of the crew. Arthur, who had been Ahola's girlfriend at one time, and Perry, Arthur's best friend, were non-sailors who had tired of living in Hawaii and begged for a chance to sail back to California.
At 10 a.m. on the 27th, Spirit was sailing "perfectly" under jib alone in 25 knots of breeze with the wind from astern. Suddenly, there was a very loud noise and the heavy boat was inexplicably thrown on her beam ends. Water poured in the aft cabin so fast that the three crew back there barely managed to get on deck, and the stern-mounted EPIRB immediately disappeared. The ketch sank in three to five minutes. Everyone managed to get into the two liferafts, but with just some water and a few clothes and blankets.
Although all five survived the immediate incident, none of them - nor any experts later on - were able to come up with an explanation of what happened that wasn't contradicted by considerable other evidence. The most popular discounted theories were propane explosion, being hit by a whale or surfacing submarine, or hitting a whale or submerged object. There was plenty of reason to doubt all of these explanations.
In any event, before long the line connecting the two liferafts parted, and the liferafts separated. Twenty-two days later, Miller and Perry were miraculously spotted by a ship and rescued. This set off a huge search for the other liferaft. Six days later, Collins was picked up by a Coast Guard cutter. Ahola had died eight days previously; Arthur two days after that. Both had expired of exposure, shock, and medical complications - primarily brought on by severe saltwater sores. Collins believed that Ahola's death was hastened because he was so devastated by the loss of a boat he loved so much. Collins also believed that Arthur's passing was brought on by the death of her one-time boyfriend and her refusal to drink the rainwater they caught because it had a chemical taste from the catchment system. There had been a camera aboard the liferaft, and the gruesome wasting away of Ahola and Arthur was recorded on film. Collins's key to survival was going into an almost Zen-like state, moving as little as possible to conserve energy, and maintaining a steadfast faith that he would be rescued. Like Miller and Perry, he fully recovered.
About a year later, a lawsuit was filed by the estate of Camilla Arthur and by Nancy Perry against just about everybody who ever so much as set eyes on Spirit or any of her equipment. As we recall, there were at least 10 defendants. The complaint against Jackson was that he hadn't provided these two female 'passengers' - they had chipped in a small amount of money for food - safe passage back to California. The definition of a 'passenger' on a recreational boat has since changed - at least as viewed by the Coast Guard. Many of the cases against the smaller defendants were dropped. Some defendants' insurance companies settled, although the amount of the settlements was not disclosed.
To the best of our knowledge, it was the last major loss of life because of the sinking of a sailboat in the Eastern Pacific.
Latitude covered the incident in the
November and December 1977 issues. We were starting out as self-taught
journalists at the time, and had a lot to learn.
After reading your magazine from cover to cover for 10 years since moving from the great cruising grounds of the Northwest to the great racing grounds off Santa Cruz, and enjoying your consistently insightful editorial content, I was surprised by your response to the letter complaining about the "French Jackass" on the cover of the April issue. The self-righteous, politically correct critics need to be curbed, not coddled, because they are the ones who end up making the laws. Once a singlehanded sailor and his boat - especially one that does 25 knots - part company, a PFD is only going to prolong the agony.
Jo - Many times even Open 50s and Open 60s travel at far less than 25 knots, at which times harnesses might prove to be helpful. In any event, we decided to raise the issue with Brad Van Liew, who ruled in the Open 50 Class of the Around Alone:
"The issue of wearing harnesses comes up rather frequently, and every one of the skippers has his own technique and personal rules. I must admit my personal use of a harness went up after my little girl Tate Magellan was born prior to the last Around Alone. I use jacklines and have a point of hookup in the cockpit. Admittedly, I don't always wear a harness, but I do much of the time and whenever I am very tired or the weather is up a bit. Tim Kent was probably the most religious at wearing his harness during the Around Alone. Some of the other skippers wore them infrequently.
"I use a special tether to remind
me of the importance of clipping in. It is the tether that saw
friend and famed American singlehander Mike Plant safely around
the world three times - but was forgotten on his delivery to
France when he was lost at sea. Currently there is not an effective
remote system for stopping a boat in the event of going overboard,
but such a concept is being discussed and tested. Hopefully there
will be one soon."
Stand by for heavy weather! There is a storm brewing among the cruising fleet here in Mexico, spinning up in response to your comments in the July issue concerning Don of Summer Passage and the real usefulness of the weather information he provides for coastal cruisers.
We heard the first rumblings on the SSB nets earlier this week, and when we pulled into Santa Rosalia yesterday, we found the afternoon bull session on the dock in full swing with your comments being the hot topic. To hear the howl, you would have thought someone had suggested raising the clearing-in fees. The consensus seems to be that you have somehow insulted Don and that you really don't know a thing about the very brutal and dangerous conditions that face cruisers when they venture out of Mexican harbors.
After having an opportunity to read the offending passage, I have to disagree with these people. I think you hit the nail right on the head. The obsession with a daily weather forecast among the cruising fleet in Mexico is astounding. The Amigo Net typically devotes 30 minutes to an hour every morning listening to the daily weather and responding to questions on weather routing concerns. It is at its worst in the fall when all the new boats arrive for their first season. It abates only slightly until things quiet down in midsummer, when so many people are back home for a while avoiding the heat. If there was a day last November when someone did not ask if it was a good time to move the short distance north of Los Frailes to Muertos in the Sea of Cortez, I must have missed it.
I think lots of these cruisers just want someone to tell them that the weather will be O.K., they will be safe, and more important, comfortable. The sad reality is that for the majority of the cruising fleet, a 'weather window' is defined as a period of time when the wind does not blow at all and one can motor really fast to the next anchorage.
We have been cruising down here for two years now, north in the Sea of Cortez and south, twice, as far as Zihuatanejo. During this time we have never encountered sustained wind in excess of 30 knots nor seas consistently greater than eight feet. We have heard claims of 50-knot winds and 12-foot seas, but as Don himself said the other day, "The only difference between a fairy tail and a sea story is that one begins with 'Once upon a time' and the other with 'This is no lie!'"
Certainly we have made passages where conditions deteriorated, and we have spent some very uncomfortable, maybe even tense, hours. And not once have these conditions been forecast. Don is very careful to say in almost every one of his reports that he is talking primarily about conditions more than 20 miles offshore, and that right along the coast the variety of local conditions make accurate forecasting very difficult at best. Since we do 90% of our cruising inside of 15 miles of the coast, what is the need to obsess about the daily forecast for the central Sea of Cortez? If we are deciding on a departure for a crossing from the mainland to Baja, we pay very close attention to what Don has to say. If there is a tropical disturbance starting to spin down around Acapulco, we like to know about it. If we were heading for Hawaii, Don's opinion on where to find the trades would be of great value. But if we are getting ready to make a 30 to 40-mile jump up the coast, we generally look out the hatch in the morning, and if it isn't snowing, we up anchor and head out. Just another day in paradise.
Having said all that, we do listen to Don
almost every morning - he just goes along with our coffee. We
very much appreciate what he is doing and we have learned a great
deal about weather and weather forecasting from his very informative
reports. His activities in support of the cruising fleet go well
beyond providing weather information, and he seems tireless in
his efforts on our behalf. We would very much enjoy seeing Latitude
do a piece on Don, as I have a hunch he is a very interesting
As a staff member for the Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA), and an avid sailor, I'd like to provide Latitude and its readership with a more appropriate and accurate answer to Fred Winneke's question about the rules on anchoring in Clipper Cove.
First, Naval Station Treasure Island - the "Base" - ceased military operations effective October 1997. TIDA is the local reuse authority overseeing the interim uses and the conveyance of the Base on behalf of the City and County of San Francisco. Until such time when the property has been officially transferred, the property remains under the ownership of the United States Navy.
The anchorage at Clipper Cove is still a restricted anchorage. This is common knowledge to any boater with a NOAA Chart #18645, which annotates the Cove as a "Naval Restricted Area." Definition of a restricted anchorage is provided in NOAA's U.S. Coast Pilot #7, 34th Edition, published in August 2002. Under Navigation Regulations Section 334.1070, titled San Francisco Bay between Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island: naval restricted area. "(a) The Area. All water of the cove bounded by the south shore of Treasure Island, and north shore of Yerba Buena Island, and the connecting causeway, west of a line extending from the southeast piers along the east side of Treasure Island, at about (quadrants given to define the above described area), (b) The regulations. No person and no vessel or other craft, except vessels owned and operated by the Commanding Officer, Naval Station, Treasure Island, shall enter the restricted area.
I have attached a copy of the above-mentioned section of the Coast Pilot #7 for your quick and easy reference.
In the past, the Navy has acknowledged that seven days is the appropriate length of stay. What may not be common knowledge, but has actually been published in Latitude (see Letters March 2000), is that the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 33 CFR Section 334.1070 can be enforced, which could include a fine, seizure of the vessel, or both.
Rest assured both the Navy and TIDA are aware of the vessels currently anchored in Clipper Cove, and as noted above, the Navy, can and will exercise its authority to address the situation. In this era of heightened security, boaters appearing to take advantage of a good thing, and editors announcing that Clipper Cove is a free for all, may lead to increased enforcement, and a reduction in the enjoyment of Clipper Cove.
If you or your readership have any questions about Treasure Island, please contact me at either (415) 274-0382 or by email. If I can't give you a correct and honest answer myself, I will promptly find someone who can.
Readers - No wonder mariners are confused about the situation in Clipper Cove. Despite the fact that using the cove is against the Code of Federal Regulations, ". . . in the past the Navy has acknowledged that seven days is the appropriate length of stay." Talk about your mixed messages.
You didn't hear it from us, but if you
drop the hook in Clipper Cove for a night or two, you probably
won't get the boot or be threatened with a fine. But the Cove
is being watched, so if you anchor your boat for much longer
than that, or if you seem to be digging in for the long haul,
you may be fined or have your boat seized. In other words, don't
abuse authorities looking the other way and there shouldn't be
It was a real surprise to see a photo of May Yan, my old Frisco Flyer, in your June issue coverage of the Master Mariner's Regatta. She was imported from Cheoy Lee Shipyard in 1958 by Roland Reed, the Northern California dealer. I became the second owner of the lovely teak beauty, sailing her out of Coyote Point from '74 to '82.
I modified May Yan in '75 to be a pocket cruiser for bluewater sailing, replacing the Stewart Turner gasoline inboard with a Farymann 7.7 hp diesel. I also shortened the cockpit and built a small doghouse. We sailed some 8,000 miles together, half of it in the Bay and Delta waters, and the other half in the ocean. We sailed to Mexico and the East Cape in the Sea of Cortez, then made the passage to Hawaii via the Revillagigedo Islands in 1980. May Yan steered herself most of the way in the trades using twin working jibs. Of the seven sailboats I owned, she was my favorite.
If the current owners are interested, I would be happy to send them the 37-page May Yan chapter of my as-yet-unpublished narrative Sailing To Windward - 60 Years Of Messing Around In Small Boats. It includes five pages of photos of the old girl.
I am pushing 82 years old, boatless, living in La Paz, but still enjoying Latitude when it comes by. Thanks to all for your great coverage of our chosen avocation.
Jim - It gives us great pleasure that
you were surprised by a photo of your old boat.
The foreshore is littered with condoms, syringes, garbage, and remnants of the previous night's drug deals. The car parks are full of campervans, motorhomes, and people living out of their cars. There is a growing number of illegal liveaboards who are loud, drunk, and unemployed, jamming music all day long and setting off flares at 1 a.m.
The docks are cluttered with gas cans, paint tins, tools and other junk, and are covered in bird poop. Our boats sit in the mud, and when the tide is high enough to get out of our slips, we get stuck between the docks. We spend 50 minutes getting out of the undredged channel. At night, you need a GPS just to find your way back in because the channel is unlit.
The marina employees know nothing about boats, and the harbor boat is not allowed to assist vessels because no one knows how to competently operate it. So if you ever need help, you may as well ask your neighbor! Our Harbormaster is proud to admit he has never set foot on a boat, and plans on keeping it this way. He has turned the harbor office into the SPCA for stray cats.
Legal liveaboards are scared to shower at night for fear of not returning. The bathrooms are not maintained, have no water pressure, and have only a single power-point over the basin for four docks worth of women!
Until recently, there was no way to recycle. Our one dumpster bin is continually full from people all over the area dumping trailer loads of garbage - which is why you will find the homeless people up to their ears in it each morning as you leave, and in the evening when you return.
The marina is full of cats and dogs - and some humans you'd consider animals, which, whether you like it or not, end up on your boat as well as the litter that comes with them. We have even had skunks on our docks, visiting the occasional boat for a feed. The sound of water lapping against our hull is drowned out by the noise of planes coming and going every couple of minutes.
Everyone seems to turn a blind eye to the oily surface of the water surrounding their boats, and the stench of sewage lingering in the air. There are rotting, sinking, and neglected boats that have not seen their owners in years - yet they continue to pay slip rent, holding on to the dream of owning a boat without ever living it.
Not so long ago things were looking up for the marina, with some young blood taking matters into his own hands to set things right. With his removal, however, the current conditions remain with little hope for change. As for myself and other legal liveaboards, we've had enough and are packing our bags and boats, bound for cleaner waters.
Can you guess which marina I've been living in?
I had to respond to your July issue regarding the Delta. In July of '94 you published a letter and one of my photos under the heading Dispatches From The Delta! We're still moored at Hidden Harbor - it's the friendliest - and my stepson, the boy in the photo, is now 16. Recently, he and some of his friends decided they wanted a "get away," so they spent a night on the boat. They had as much fun as we do - even when we don't take the boat out.
This has been a challenging year for us, as I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February, underwent a mastectomy, which has been followed by chemo with radiation to follow. My first time back to the boat was on July 4. Although we discovered her batteries were dead, it was a beautiful night with fireworks all across the horizon.
Following my last chemo on July 13, I felt well enough to take a trip on the boat. It turned out to be a perfect day, as we tacked and jibed across Cache Creek Slough to our hearts' content. Our boat is a bit worse looking for having been neglected for so long, but she performed perfectly and we had an awesome time. The accompanying photo was taken on that day.
My day of sailing was capped off by visiting with the Harbormaster, his wife and friend, and eating fresh apricots and peaches off the trees at the harbor! We even brought a huge bag home, and I was able to make a delicious fresh apricot/peach crisp!
The Delta continues to be a magnet for family fun - in addition to being convenient to the Bay for those who crave even more sailing fun!
Cathy Cademarti, First Mate & Rico
The anti-condensation "geotextile" that Max Ebb waxes poetically over in the July Latitude is called VentAir. I also purchased some packages of it at Sail Expo, and now I no longer need to air my boat's mattresses on the cabintop on a weekly basis. A friend at a local canvas shop tells me that a certain 190-ft megayacht owned by a local tech billionaire is similarly equipped. It's nice to know billionaires suffer from some of the same mundane problems as the rest of us.
I think that VentAir is currently only available in the United States from www.ventairusa.com. You can buy bulk rolls if your whole club wants to stay dry.
The Max Ebb column last month was particularly interesting to me, because for years now I have probably followed lien sales more closely than anyone in Northern California.
The first thing to remember about lien sale boats is that unknown and unknowable problems are the norm. If the boat is a sailboat with an inboard, the chances are very high there is some engine problem, and often a complete rebuild is needed. In a typical scenario, the engine blew up, the owner stopped using the boat because he couldn't get her in and out of the slip safely, then he got behind on berthing, and finally decided to just abandon the boat.
The other problems you don't see are blisters, or sometimes evidence of a hard grounding or hull cracks. Minor blisters are nothing to worry about, but a big gouge in the keel gives me some pause. I think Max's column also glossed over the fact that the cost of new equipment can make many boats unattractive at any price - even free - especially if they have a low market value to start with.
One thing that was not mentioned is the fact that nearly all the boat lien sales in Northern California are handled by one company, Marine Lien Sale Service of Antioch, run by Tom and Bari Costello. In my opinion, the Costellos try to discourage attendance at lien sales by being less than forthcoming about upcoming lien sales. You can see what I mean by calling them yourself at (925) 757-BOAT and asking about upcoming auctions. Unless they recently heard the voice of God, I think you'll get an evasive answer.
This is probably not legal. The law concerning lien sales - California Harbors and Navigations Code Section 501 et seq - requires that the lien holder, meaning the marina, conduct a "commercially reasonable" lien sale. This means the lien holder, or the company running the auction for them, should try to get a fair price for the boats by letting the public know there will be an auction and by encouraging bidding. Most harbormasters do not understand they could easily avoid this possible problem by conducting honest auctions themselves. It is not hard, as the DMV gives out all the papers needed with instructions in kit form.
As for getting a good boat at a lien sale, I once saw a Rawson 30 Pilothouse with two wheels and a Yanmar engine for $6,000. She was rough and not nearly complete. So there are some good deals out there, but they are rare.
Most people don't understand that the owner of a boat sold at a lien sale has 10 days after the lien sale to pay off his debt and reclaim the boat. So what sometimes happens is that the owner waits to see what the auction price is, and if it's really low, will pay off the debt and then sell his boat privately for more money.
The bottom line is that if you only have a little money but have a lot of knowledge, a tremendous amount of energy and the skills to do some repair work, it might make sense to buy a project boat at a lien sale. But the question to ask yourself is, "Do I want to go sailing or spend my spare time working on a boat?" If the answer is 'go sailing', you might be better off working at a burger stand until you can buy a nicer boat.
Steve - We particularly like your cautionary advice with regard to buying 'project boats'. For most people, it's far better to work a little harder or at a second job in order to buy a better boat to start with than to try to restore a boat. Restoration projects are notoriously expensive and time consuming, even for skilled boatworkers. We, for example, think $6,000 would be way too much to pay for a Rawson 30 that was incomplete and needed work.
For what it's worth, we called Marine
Lien Sale Service to ask about future lien sales. Nobody answered
at 11 a.m. on a Monday morning. We did, however, get a call back
at 4 p.m., which seemed reasonable enough. The person told us
they had no schedule of upcoming auctions, and that we should
call the marinas to ask them. This wouldn't seem like the best
way to inform the public of boats coming up for lien sale, but
we're not sure it's a violation of any laws.
I sent you a letter - actually a memorial to one of my best friends, a rat named Tigger - hoping you'd publish it in the June 2002 issue. You didn't. Recently - okay, January 13 - another rat of mine, Oreo, passed away at the age of two. I miss him dearly. He has so much personality and spunk that he brought great joy to my life.
If I had the option of getting another boat pet, it would be yet another rat. Unfortunately, the owner of the boat I'm on is soon headed to foreign waters, where pets are prohibited, so I'm out of luck. I understand completely, but I wish I could have another rat.
For anyone on a boat who is thinking about getting a pet, I would suggest a rat. They are pretty low maintenance - all you need to do is spoil them and give them lots of love.
Karissa - Good news! The owner of the boat you're on is just kidding you about pets not being allowed "in foreign waters." The only problems occur if you try to bring animals ashore in some foreign countries. We presume that you keep your rat in a cage, in which case it shouldn't be a problem unless you want to take your pet for a walk on the beach or to a restaurant. Rats running free on boats - an all too common occurrence - is risky business. They like to eat stuff such as the bilge pump wiring and hoses which results in boats sinking - and that's not good.
CAN WE GET MARRIED ON THE HA-HA?
My sweetie and I were planning to get hitched just before this fall's Ha-Ha, but it occurred to us that it would be fun to do the deed en route to, or in, Cabo. Any chance there might be a qualified person in the Ha-Ha fleet to perform a marriage this year?
We've purchased the Ha-Ha vet Ku'uipo, a Swift 40, and renamed her Arabella. I did the Bash up from Puerto Vallarta to Ensenada in late May, where she's getting a minor refit. We'll do a little more work on her in her new homeport, Channel Islands Harbor.
Mike - If you want a spectacular place to get married, we suggest one of the peaks at Punta Hughes overlooking Bahia Santa Maria, the second stop in the Ha-Ha. We're certain there will be any number of people in the fleet capable of marrying you. The problem is we're not sure who, if anyone, would recognize the marriage. After all, you need to apply for a marriage license and get the certificate signed and filed after the ceremony. There's nobody to do those things in Bahia Santa Maria. Locals do get married in Turtle Bay, the first Ha-Ha stop, but it's a little too dusty to be romantic - and Lord help you if you ever need a city official to verify that the marriage took place.
Paperwork requirements vary from one Mexican city to the next, and this is also true with marriage applications. In some cities they are easy to obtain, in others they are hard to come by. It's our understanding that it's easy to get married in tourist centers such as Cabo and Puerto Vallarta, but rather difficult in the more traditional Mexican cities such as Mazatlan. In this issue's Cruise Notes, we report that two couples got married in the Sea of Cortez this spring, one at Puerto Escondido, another at the offshore islands. We're not sure how they did it.
All things considered - the Ha-Ha is
pretty grueling, and there aren't unlimited supplies of water
and clean clothes - we recommend that you either get married
before or after the Ha-Ha.
I need Latitude's attitude on this. My son and I have this ongoing discussion about what is actually possible in terms of me finding another 'mate' after being on my own for the last 10 years. Sitting on his boat anchored off Playa de la Ropa in Zihuatanejo last December, he said, "Here's the problem, dad. I know sailing is important to you and you'd like a permanent first mate. You want someone, however, who is very intelligent, successful, attractive, kind, classy, adventurous, fun - and who loves to camp! It doesn't work that way. Something has to give in your search!"
He strongly believes that women who are successful want to enjoy the comforts of that success and not be rocking around on a sailboat for days. I, being the optimist, think that there just have to be women out there who want to do it all. What do you guys think?
Phil - Having been divorced twice, we consider ourselves to be more knowledgeable about relationships than the average person. Nonetheless, we, like you, remain optimistic. You have to remember, of course, that a woman who has everything might be looking for a man who has everything.
By the way, two months ago somebody
- we believe it was a woman - wrote us an interesting letter
about sailing and relationships. Somehow we managed to lose it.
If she would send it again, we'd be happy to publish it.
Since the mail is rather slow here on the Caribbean coast of Panama, I just got my 'fix' of the May Latitude off the Internet - and I was taken aback by the responses to the March Changes written by Bruce Winship and family of Chewbacca about provisioning in Central America .
I left Mexico, stayed at Bahia del Sol for a couple of weeks, missed Guatemala, but stopped in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and now Panama - and took no exceptions to Bruce's report on provisioning. I think his mention of the hot dog being the 'national food' of El Salvador was meant as a joke and just went over some peoples' heads. I also happened to be one of those cruisers who put the del Sol's "brackish but drinkable" hose water into my tanks - and had to make an unplanned stop in Nicaragua to be treated for amoebic dysentery.
One of the big complaints about Chewbacca's report is that Bruce said that vendors in the open markets sprayed Raid on their fruit and vegetables to keep the bugs off. If you visit Central American open markets, you'll find that the use of pesticides, such as Raid, is not at all uncommon. I know this for a fact, since I happened to be with the Winships at the market that day, and I was the one who pointed out the lady debugging her vegetable display with a tall black can of Raid.
What Bruce didn't report is that he went over to the woman's stand, bought a bag of fruit, and proceeded to entertain the lady's children with some hokey magic tricks of disappearing coins and pulling candy out of the air. Everyone was smiling when we left. I asked him why he bought the fruit from that woman in particular. "They have to eat, too," he said, "just peel your banana before you eat it."
Bruce never complained during the times we went scrounging for food together. In fact, I think he really enjoyed the adventure of it.
A week later, most of us cruisers were sitting around the bar fixing the world's problems, but the Winship family and Chewbacca had moved on. In fact, they were working with a bunch of other cruisers to rebuild a village in the mountains that had been destroyed by an earthquake. Bruce and his family always have school supplies to pass out to the local children, and bags of clothing for the local families. I heard on the radio he is now in northern Panama teaching English to some local kids out in the islands. He doesn't sound like a guy who "has it in for El Salvador" - as some of the letters and grumbling around the del Sol bar have tried to imply.
Since I may have to return to del Sol, please withhold my name.
Name Withheld By Request
We're in San Diego land-cruising with our '76 VW camper, having left our home in Florida to come out to see the grandkids and travel up to Fairbanks. We picked up a copy of the May Latitude at Downwind Marine Supply, and having read Lyn Reynolds' letter about staying healthy without doctors or medicine, and her disapproval of "artificially extending life," I felt the need to comment.
Three years ago I had a rising PSA reading - suggesting the onset of prostate cancer - and had it treated with radioactive seeds. It cost me three days of discomfort and six weeks of low energy, but no real pain. I have some annoying side-effects, but none that H. Terry Wepsic, M.D., had complained about in his/her April issue letter. Was my treatment worth it? Yes. Reynolds seems to think that by getting treated for a medical problem I was "extending life." I think that I was extending sailing, cruising, and seeing the world.
Incidentally, I'm told that if prostate cancer goes untreated, the end is very uncomfortable.
I'm 77 years old now, and alternate between driving - in a downsized bus - and cruising - in a downsized boat. We did four months in the Bahamas last year aboard our Westerly 26, and are thinking of cruising down to Trinidad to see Jeff and Dawn Stone of the Nicholson 39 Dawn. Like us, the Stones started their cruising from Northern California. I will continue cruising and sailing until I drop. I now have grandkids crewing with me - I'm training them so they can take me out sailing when I'm old.
To get back to the Reynolds' issue, he is right about the importance of eating well and getting exercise. But I still think that picking your parents is the most important contributor to active longevity. It's true that my father gave me a tendency to prostate cancer, but he also gave me my most important asset - a love of the world and a desire to continue seeing it for as long as I can.
On another subject, we encourage cruisers in Mexico not to take for granted one of the great things about cruising there - the cruising community. There is nothing like it on the East Coast. We have only three friends from the East Coast that we continue to email, but we still have many friends from our cruising Mexico and Central America from '93-'96. In fact, we'll be visiting nine of them during our current 'land cruise'.
We still enjoy Latitude and congratulate the publisher for continuing to work when he could probably do much more sailing and cruising.
Jack - There are limits to the medical treatment we'd want to receive in order to extend our lives, but getting treatment for prostate cancer certainly would be acceptable.
You're 77, but say you are training your grandkids to take you sailing "when you're old." We think a great attitude such as that is what keeps you young.
Thanks for the nice words about Latitude and the publisher. Having spent most
of the last 26 years banging on a keyboard day and night and
on weekends, we believe the key to our long-term health is sailing
more and working in the office less. Hopefully, the recent developments
in communication technology will enable us to do that while still
contributing about 30% of the editorial.
We're planning on doing the Ha-Ha this year and then travelling down through the Canal and to the Caribbean. Now that we are getting our shots, I need to know Latitude's advise on malaria prevention. Do you have any back issues that would offer such wisdom?
Clair - We're not qualified to comment on malaria prevention or getting shots to prevent other diseases - except in the most general terms. For one thing, we have no medical training. Furthermore, having made some 100 trips to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, we've never gotten any shots, and therefore represent the 'ignorance is bliss' school of travel. The worst we've had to endure is a couple of nasty and long lasting cases of giardia or something like it.
Rather than follow our example, we suggest that you and others visit the Center for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/travel/camerica.htm. The only problem with the site is that it will scare the bejesus out of you, as they pretty much recommend that you travel in a hermetically-sealed container, never eat the food, drink the liquids, or touch the locals. There's probably a middle ground somewhere, and it can probably be found in the Lonely Planet or Moon guides to the countries you plan to visit.
One thing we can report for sure is
that shots in Mexico cost only a fraction of what they cost in
the United States. If money is at all an issue, we suggest getting
them at the American hospitals in either Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta.
Few people share with others their skills, interests and passion as effectively as you do. You have personally made it more likely that many sailors transform their cruising dreams into reality.
Three years ago, my husband and I left Seattle and sailed south, joining the Baja Ha-Ha 2000. For the past three years we have sailed our Formosa 46 Lookfar on the coast of Mexico from Guaymas in the Sea of Cortez to Manzanillo on the mainland coast. This year we continued sailing south to Barillas Marina in El Salvador, where we have left the boat until November.
Your upbeat approach to cruising and the information in Latitude, and your leadership in the Ha-Ha contributed to our sailing success and pleasure in our new cruising life. Since we sail only half the year, we have discovered that one can, in fact, 'have it all'. As such, we encourage other sailors interested in 'getting out of Dodge' to do the Ha-Ha. It's not just a T-shirt, it's a whole new way to view the world and one's place in it.
Thanks for making a real difference.
Rod & Jill Hearne
Rod and Jill - Thanks for the very kind words. We've got two things going for us: we believe in sailing, and we love what we do.
As for 'six months cruising, six months
back home', that's a popular and excellent way to keep a foot
in both worlds.
I've owned my first large sailboat for going on two years, and feel like I've earned the right to vent a little on the marine industry.
Ladies and gentlemen of the marine industry, it costs you virtually nothing but goodwill to use the telephone to return calls. And, it is not an aggravation to me to receive a status update from you via voice messaging or email to advise me on the progress of work being done on my boat. It would not disappoint me greatly for you to actually meet your projected schedule or to advise me when those unforeseen 'gotchas' occur that will cause the schedule to slip and by how much. I mean, why expend advertising dollars if you're not going to return client's phone calls?
Folks, the frustration is in not knowing. When a four-day job stretches into its fourth week, you sure as hell ought to be on the phone explaining why - and when the work will be done. I don't care if you tell me 'I don't know', as long as you follow that statement with 'but I'll find out for you by (such and such a time)'. In the business world, we call these action items. It's how things are done. Get used to it. I shouldn't have to call you every day to speak to a message machine or to wait vainly for a return call.
Believe me, I understand how busy you all are. I know that it would take an hour or two at the end of the day for you and your team to make up to 50 calls to clients to update them on what is going on with their boat projects. Most of us work for a living to afford those chunks of wood and/or fiberglass sitting on your hard deck. While your work schedule is slipping, we're trying to juggle business travel and appointments to ensure that we're in town when you 'might' be ready to launch. Trust me, phone calls are painless, and it is time and money well spent to ensure that when one of our friends asks for a referral, we don't use the kiss of death phrase, "Yeah, they do good work, but . . ."
There are a large number of marine businesses with which I would not now do business were there a gun pointed at my head. On the other hand, there have been a few very notable - and well-known - exceptions to these unsatisfactory experiences. These businesses understand that their survival is based upon managing cash flow and maintaining excellent customer relations. They do excellent work, on schedule, on budget, and take the time to return calls and provide updates. That bottle of wine or that Hawaiian fruit logo might cost you a few more bucks, but you get quality work and professional, businesslike behavior. Trust me, the price paid is well worth the savings in aggravation.
Nick - We agree that a number of marine businesses could do themselves and their customers a big favor if they were better at providing updates on work being done. They should heed your advice.
On the other hand, before anyone rips boatyards for delays, we suggest they try a couple of boat projects themselves. Once you learn firsthand how one-of-a-kind and complicated boats are, you'll have a better appreciation of the challenges boatyards face. In many cases, working on one problem will require disassembling some other parts or system, in which case other problems are uncovered. Then the necessary parts might be found to be on back order or have to be custom made, and the person with the necessary skills is busy with two other jobs that got delayed for reasons beyond anyone's control. Running a boatyard may seem like an cool and easy business, but it's complicated and tough.
If there's one sure tip that we and
boatyards could give you for a better boatyard experience, it's
to not have work done on your boat during high season. Marine
businesses can't hire and fire significant numbers of employees
by the season, so from March to October they're going to be understaffed.
From October to February, they'll have more time and staff to
give you the kind of service you're looking for. Help them help
you, and everyone will be a lot happier.
I just got back from a week of whitewater rafting and saw the report in 'Lectronic about my Cheoy/Morelli 70-ft catamaran Humu-Humu suffering structural damage while attempting to Bash north from Cabo. As is often the case, the facts and story don't quite jibe. Here are the facts.
After bringing Humu-Humu from Mazatlan to Cabo, we decided to stick our noses out past Cabo Falso with winds forecast at 15-20 knots. That's usually not too much of a weather issue. But once further offshore, the wind piped up to 30+, and just as we were about to give it up and go back to Cabo to wait a few days, we took a biggie over the bow. So much water crashed down on our starboard net that it tore the net lashings right from the hull, thereby toppling the first domino. Next, the net was in the water dragging heavily. The last domino was that both net support tubes on the centerline broke from the pressure of the net dragging in the water.
I brought the boat nearly head-to-wind and to a stop. Thanks to lazyjacks, Harken battcars, a full batten main and furling jib, all sail was struck within a few minutes. This while the boat rode in a stable manner without any rolling. By now the wind was blowing over 40 knots. We retrieved the dangling nets using a spare halyard, jury-rigged some lashings, then sailed to Cabo under bare poles, motoring once we got in the lee of Cabo Falso.
For the first time ever, I took a berth at Cabo Isle - $180 U.S. a night. Then we rounded up a stout 4x4 wood beam, bolted it in place as a net support, installed some temporary eyebolts through the hull on two sides, relashed the nets, and stuck around Cabo for a couple of days, curious when the wind might drop. On the third day, a delivery skipper who was bringing a big ketch up from Venezuela pulled in for shelter, saying it was still blowing too much, having seen 50-knot gusts.
Not happy with the cost of berthing in Cabo, we took the boat back to Mazatlan where we'd just had work done and know people who do good things to boats. The replacement tubes that Doug at Svendsen's so quickly located for me and sent off to Mexico are now being installed there.
In short, we experienced no structure failure. It was more like blowing out a sail with the rig left whole. It wasn't enough to warrant an insurance claim.
It was just another reminder that by the time you think you should have reefed, it might be too late. Wait a minute, that's not right, as we were already reefed. Beware the rogue waves!
I'd like to give a public thanks to my able crewdoggies: Jim Forrest, Dave Fiorito, Bob Edmunds and Malou Olsen - all of whom responded superbly. That's all folks.
Dave - Thanks for the clarification.
Oh dear, the discussion about how well catamarans can sail to weather has gotten heavily wordy. The point of my letter last month was this: Hank Easom's Six-Meter Yucca is not a cruising monohull, and my catamaran Tsunami was not a cruising cat. Tsunami was significantly faster and pointed higher to weather than Yucca. Fair comparison. Therefore, it isn't catamaran-ness that makes a boat go to weather or not go to weather.
Cats have a longtime bad reputation for pointing poorly because Hobie Cats - which can't point because they were designed to be beach cats - can't point. They are also difficult to tack. That they can't point or tack isn't because they are catamarans.
For cruising cats, I think the old Crowther 37 - Lock's original design for himself - goes uphill well. I haven't sailed on one or against one, but I remember watching one boogie up Raccoon Straits one day and was completely impressed.
Charles - The ongoing discussion has been about the pointing ability of performance cruising monohulls versus performance cruising multihulls - not racing monohulls versus racing catamarans - of which Yucca and Tsunami would, in any event, be about the most bizarre comparison imaginable.
Cruising catamarans have a bad reputation for pointing because; 1) proponents have historically made ridiculous claims about their capabilities; 2) sailors who go to the Caribbean and charter them get outpointed like crazy by similar charter monohulls; and 3) even owners of higher performance cruising cats - lightweight, narrow hulls, daggerboards, generous sail plans - are easily outpointed by high performance cruising monohulls.
Unlike Hobie Cats, Profligate has no problem tacking. And she's boogied up Raccoon Straits - 11 knots from one end to the other without a single tack. But she still gets outpointed easily by performance monohulls - as do all the other performance cruising catamarans we've ever seen.
Cruising Catamaran Challenge still stands: If anyone has a cruising
catamaran that can effectively point as high as a J/Boat of a
similar length, prove it to us, and we'll be more than happy
to bang the drum long and loudly that you have a breakthrough
cruising catamaran that's far superior to any we've seen before.
And trust us, we want to be proven wrong.
I was going to comment on your assertion that catamarans can't sail to windward, but I bit my tongue and said nothing. You took poor Chris White's head off with your editorial response - he didn't deserve that!
Tribe, our Morelli & Melvin-designed Gunboat 62 catamaran easily sailed through the keelboat racing fleet at the New York YC's Spring Regatta this June on one light-air day - about 6-7 knots true - while sailing upwind. In the light stuff, we tack through 85-90 degrees. The only keelboats showing obviously better VMG to windward were the turbo'd sleds such as Bob McNeil's R/P 86 Zephyrus V, Bright Star (ex-Z4), and Titan. These Reichel-Pugh giants are 15-20 feet longer than our cat. The rest of the fleet was the cream of the East Coast race fleet. Nothing else was in our league.
My family already claims that I was adopted since getting the multihull bug a few years back. Suggesting an upwind drag race against the family's flagship J/160 would get me excommunicated from the clan. I like my family and want to keep getting party invitations. How about picking on a Swan 70 or 80, or a Wally? It'd be much more fun to slay a giant. As for all other cruising cats, bring them on. We've sailed circles around every cat in the Caribbean all winter. The Gunboat 62s design appears to be several steps beyond the market.
For the record, we've now beat upwind through four gales. While the boat has sailed at 16 knots upwind in these conditions, the experience can only be described as 'airborne'. We've learned to slow things down to 9-10 knots. The ride is pretty good - a helluva lot better than our old cruising boat, the TransPac-winning N/M 68 Drumbeat. Everyone has different comfort levels. We're comfortable sailing upwind, up to 45-50 knots. If windspeed got above that, we'd start broad reaching.
We're now back in Newport. My daughter Hadley broke her ankle, which would have shortened our intended South Pacific season by three months. We received an unsolicited offer on Tribe, and she now has new owners. We've started a new Gunboat 45 catamaran, which will also be known as Tribe. We intend to take our new catamaran from Cape Town to the South Pacific. We can't decide whether to ride the Southern Ocean to Oz, or the South Atlantic to the Canal.
After all that bashing of the ability of catamarans to go upwind, especially in a big breeze, did I read you're going to beat upwind from the Panama Canal to St. Barth this fall?!
Readers - First of all, if we "took Chris White's head off," we sincerely apologize to him. We're from the straight-talking native Californian school, so maybe we didn't express ourselves as diplomatically as folks from back East might have.
Peter is one of the Johnstone clan that brought J/Boats from nothing to the biggest builder of racer/cruisers in the world. Our Latitude Cruising Catamaran Challenge is for a performance cruising catamaran to demonstrate better upwind performance than a well-sailed, similar-sized J/Boat. Johnstone clan issues aside, we're going to stick with the J/160 as being the perfect yardstick for Tribe. Besides, there are a lot more of them around than Wallys and Swans.
If we had to nominate a cat that we think had the best chance of pointing as high as a performance cruising monohull, it would certainly be Tribe or one of her sisterships. She's the latest from Morrelli & Melvin, just about everything about her is carbon, she's extremely light, and great care went into making sure her weight was centered. Her engines, for example, are located amidships rather than aft.
Nonetheless, when it comes to Tribe and one of Chris White's Atlantic 55s being able to sail upwind better than a similar-sized J/Boat, we're going to have to see it - or have a top flight J/Boat sailor confirm it - before we're going to believe it. But if it can be proven to be true, we'll be the first to salute Johnstone and/or White, for their cruising cats would truly be several performance levels above any cruising cat we've seen to date. Well, except perhaps for the 40-ft Pantera, which is sort of on the borderline of being a true cruising cat.
As for Johnstone or anybody else being able and willing to sail upwind in 45-50 knots of true wind in a cruising catamaran, either they are far more courageous than we - or they are full of baloney. We'll sail upwind on the flat waters of San Francisco Bay in up to about 30 knots of true wind without hesitation, but forget it out on the ocean when the wind is blowing 55 knots - meaning the force of the wind is almost four times as strong and the seas would be over 20 feet. Given the nature of catamarans - once they flip they don't come back up - we think it would be irresponsible to contemplate anything of the sort. Unless it were a life and death situation, what would be the point of putting the crew, the boat, the sails, and the gear under such strain?
If it were blowing 50 knots on the nose of our cat, we'd have all sail down and either be motoring 20 degrees off the wind as slowly as possible while still maintaining steerage, or we'd head off on a very broad reach under structure alone. Profligate used both these tactics in the only time she's been in more than 45 knots of wind and greater than 20-ft seas, and they worked well. She didn't flip, the crew didn't get hurt, nothing broke - and once she headed downwind the crew stopped being seasick. In such conditions, we consider that a success.
Yes, we plan to have Profligate go from Panama to St. Barth in early
December, and yes, we know it's 1,100 miles upwind. If we approach
the trip intelligently, we think it's doable without breaking
the boat or killing the crew. In any event we hope we make it,
for we understand that Tribe, some Atlantic 55s, and other
big cats will be there, and we intend to put together some fun
Caribbean catamaran events. Anyone up for a fun race from English
Harbor to Gustavia? Or how about the Bitter End YC to Foxy's
via Soper's Hole?
Since this is my first time writing, I want to make it clear that this is not a complaint. I love 'Lectronic and have made it a part of my morning ritual. That said, the blurb regarding the proposed legislation that would ban the importation of Burmese teak, and encouraging readers to send letters to their representatives in Congress sounds like a good idea - but only if the only input is from boat manufacturers.
In fact, the proposed ban on Burmese teak is not some random act of Congress. Members of nine Southeast Asian nations have made the unprecedented move of rebuking Burma in protest of the jailing of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Japan, Burma's biggest trading partner, as well as the European Union's, has also imposed sanctions and other penalties against the Burmese military junta currently in power. I encourage everyone to do a news search on Burma before making requests of their Congressional reps.
I'm sure such a ban would be a pain for some business groups, but I think it's a necessary move for us that hopefully wouldn't have to be permanent.
Mike - The request for letters to Congressional representatives was made by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, not Latitude, and did not reflect an editorial opinion on the part of Latitude.
While the ban on imported teak to put pressure on an anti-democratic military junta sounds like a fine idea - we're for the overthrow of all tyrannical regimes - the history of banning exports from countries ruled by tyrants hasn't been good. After all, who can forget that the U.N.'s notoriously porous ban on the export of Iraqi oil primarily succeeded in consolidating the authority and wealth of Saddam Hussein at the expense of poor and innocent Iraqis?
Our position on all such matters is
that international politics is extremely complicated, and despite
the best intentions of everyone, riddled with unintended consequences.
May everyone interested in the subject become well informed of
the facts and develop their own opinions.
After 30 wonderful years - and several boats - in the Bay Area, retirement finances dictate a move to Sarasota, Florida. Much of that area is very shallow and the winds are generally quite light. Is there any good sailing in Sarasota, and if so, what type? Further, are there any magazines similar to Latitude in Florida? If not, would you like to branch out? I need a new direction in retirement.
Michael - We don't have firsthand sailing experience on the west coast of Florida, but our friends there tell us the water is shallow and the winds are light. It's certainly not San Francisco Bay. But given that there is so much water and warmth, and there are so many boatbuilders in Florida, we're certain that many area-specific boats have been designed and built. When you get there, they will be all about. Perhaps some of our Florida readers can make some recommendations.
As for magazines similar to Latitude, we like to flatter ourselves by thinking
that there aren't any in Florida - or anywhere else in the world.
Thanks for asking, but we have no interest in branching out.
One sailing magazine per lifetime is our limit.
Having done one Singlehanded TransPac, I didn't enter last year's because I was going to participate in the Gateway to Hawaii Race from San Diego to Kauai. As you know, it was cancelled. However, I've been as busy as ever, and have logged many more miles in the last couple of years. I also went back to school and upgraded my Coast Guard license to a 500-ton, upon oceans, with an unlimited Master of Tow rating. This was a good move and has made me more marketable, but I keep sailing off with my own boat, so I'm not making much money.
I just returned from my annual trip to Mexico, this year's being a little 3,000 mile cruise around the Sea of Cortez. I sailed to Cabo, La Paz, over to Guaymas, down to Mazatlan, back to Cabo, and finally back to San Diego. Although I was gone for about seven weeks, I only burned about 50 gallons of fuel, mostly in the Sea of Cortez, where the wind is often light.
When I arrive in a port, I usually get on the VHF and announce that my Wylie 38 is a mobile rigging shop of sorts, and try to fix as many problems as I am able. This has worked out well, and cruisers seem happy to have my services available.
I'm writing to share my thoughts on doing the Baja Bash from Cabo San Lucas to San Diego - but only because the managing editor of Latitude suggested that I do it. I'm not into giving unsolicited advice. I do have some experience doing the Bash, having taken my own Tawodi down and back a dozen times. In addition, I've traversed this stretch of coast - mostly uphill - another 24 times on different boats in the last 18 years.
I have done the Bash close to shore, far offshore, and in between. I have motored up, and I've sailed up on boats without engines. I have seen trips with no wind at all, but many with more wind than I'd like. If there was only one word I could offer to folks about to make the Bash, it would be 'offshore' - or maybe 'west'. In my estimation, most people stay far too close to the shore. If you stay inshore, you can count on having to bash most of the time. I often tell students that the most accurate piece of navigation gear is the $25 Windex wind direction instrument at the top of the mast - because it always points to your destination.
If you're coming up the Baja coast, the beach is to your right, and the wind is on the nose - which is why we call them 'noserlies'. To be more accurate, the wind will be on the left of your nose, just enough to get you motorsailing with the main. If you turn off the engine, you won't be able to point high enough, and you'll be heading to the beach. If you tack, you won't be going north at all. Therein lies the rub, so most people motor along, with the vertical stabilizer hoisted, bashing and hobby-horsing until they run out of fuel or make Turtle Bay - where they buy more fuel.
There is an alternative. I usually leave Cabo reefed and hard on the starboard tack. On my last trip north, I stayed on this tack for four days - which is normal. People need to remember that San Diego is north and west of Cabo. So if you are sailing west, you are on course. I don't bother with GPS, because I can just look at the compass to know where I'm going.
I stay on starboard tack initially to get a little sea room. But once offshore, I play the shifts of the day. If I'm on starboard and sailing south of west, I tack and will then be west of north. If I'm on port and sailing east of north, I tack. There is a small but dangerous group of offshore rocks called the Alijos. I find that my first tack onto port is usually near these rocks. I stay well outside of Cedros. From Guadalupe Island I have always been able to make San Diego on port tack. Then you are there.
It's also worth considering the peace of mind that comes from being so far offshore. There's not much, if any, vessel traffic. No pangas, shrimp buckets, coastal freight, military vessels, tankers, other cruisers, and the like. Offshore I can run the radar alarms all the time, which allows me to get more rest - which is important for us singlehanders.
When offshore, the sea is generally better for sailing, as the waves are long and large but don't have all the refracted garbage you get closer to shore. If the wind dies - it does happen - you can motor straight for your destination without fear of points or outcroppings.
In my opinion, offshore is the only way to go. Some people ask how far offshore, wanting me to provide a specific distance. The answer is to just get away from the shore and forget about it. I have also found favorable northbound currents outside of the fishing banks off Cabo, but they are a tricky thing.
I also think that the biggest obstacle many bashers face is having the willpower to turn off their GPS. They put in waypoints on the outside of the greater points of land, and then drive along that stupid highway display, fearful of cross-track error. I say sail the boat first. You can turn it on again several times during the day to see where you are, but remember to turn it off again and resume sailing.
Above all, be well and remember to have fun.
I was hoping that you or your readers could help me with some information. My partner and I are having a 70-ft catamaran built in New Zealand. We may pay New Zealander crew to help us run the boat, so it has been suggested that it would be a good idea to have the boat registered outside of the United States. The Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands have been recommended. Does this seem like a good idea? What are the pros and cons of having a foreign flag for our boat? Is there a better country in which to register the boat? Any information and guidance would be appreciated.
Also, I recently had my Hunter 450 trucked from Marina Seca in San Carlos, Mexico, to Marina del Rey. Since I've seen several letters about this process, I thought I'd add my two cents. I'll start by complimenting the entire work force at Marina Seca, who were very helpful and professional.
However, the trucking experience was not as seamless as I had hoped. I believe that the main problems I encountered were the result of the size of my boat. The maximum height that can be trucked is 14 feet from the bottom of the keel to the highest superstructure element. As a result, not only the mast, but also the traveler arch, the outboard hoist, steering pedestal, and several other elements needed to be disassembled. Even though the folks at Marina Seca did a good job in taking it all apart, it still was a big and expensive project to get it all put back together in Marina del Rey. Had I known the final total cost of the whole process, I think I would have Bashed up myself or gotten a qualified delivery skipper to do it for me. It all turned out well in the end, it just cost $2,000 more than I had expected.
Finally, I wanted to end by thanking you and all of the staff at Latitude for the work you are doing. The magazine is by far my favorite sailing publication, and the Ha-Ha is a spectacular event! Several of my crew on the 2000 Ha-Ha said that it was a "life altering" experience. Keep up the good work!
Don - We don't pretend to be experts on the reasons for flagging vessels in another country, but apparently there are a variety of them: less likely to be subject to California sales tax; less likely to be subject to California personal property tax; able to have a non-U.S. citizen for a captain and crew; less susceptible to American lawyers; less U.S. workman's compensation issues; more charter options, both abroad and, oddly enough, within the United States; may allow the earning of tax-free charter income depending on how the boat is owned and registered and where she is chartered. And there may be more issues.
However, since your boat is over 20 meters, she falls under the new and more stringent MCA safety standards, for which you may not have planned. In this case, you need to be very careful under which country you flag your boat. For example, both the British Virgins and Cayman Islands are apparently among the countries that subscribe to the new safety rules, and this could restrict your ability to charter. Other countries, such as St. Vincent & the Grenadines, don't recognize the new rules, and would give you more freedom to charter.
Flagging boats in foreign countries
is a very complicated subject, and as we said before, we don't
pretend to be experts. Alas, we're not even sure where to direct
you for definitive information. Can anybody provide further information?
In the June issue Cruise Notes, you wondered aloud who the folks had been in the late '70s with the home-built Endurance cutter that had gotten lost in the fog on their way back from Hawaii and spent the last night of their trip anchored at Rockaway Beach in Pacifica. I think I know the answer, as I had my life-altering first sail aboard their boat. It was Jimmy and Helga Wallace, with their son Jimmy, Jr., who was about 5 years old at the time. They built their cutter in Sausalito.
If you or anyone else bumps into Jimmy Sr., tell him that I say 'hello' and thank him for breaking me into this way of life. Jimmy worked with my non-sailing father, and sent me his used Latitudes every month starting with issue #7 or so.
Tony - Thanks for reminding us, for
it certainly was the Wallace family. If we're not mistaken, they
had an Endurance 39 they named Endurance.
Jimmy built her of corten steel.
We're the Miller family of the Westsail 32 Chaika, and are just ending a highly enjoyable year-long cruise that saw us sail down the coast from Seattle last summer and fall, spend the winter on mainland Mexico as far south as Bahia Navidad, and the spring in the Sea of Cortez. We were delighted to find a copy of your May issue here at the San Carlos Marina, where we are preparing Chaika for her road trip home - and would like to add to the discussion about dealing with garbage in the Sea of Cortez.
Finding a garbage can ashore on mainland Mexico was never a problem, and if you bought a beer, the palapa owners were happy to let you leave your garbage in their dumpster. On the Baja side, however, we would sometimes be away from any port for as much as a month, so we had to develop a plan for dealing with our garbage. We decided to separate our garbage into four categories, to be dealt with in different ways:
Food Scraps: We think too many of our fellow cruisers delight in tossing compost scraps overboard, even when in small coves and marinas. We collect such scraps in plastic containers and wait until we are out sailing to toss them overboard. Or, we take them ashore to toss back into the brush or feed to the local livestock. The goats of Aqua Verde were most appreciative of these scraps.
Toilet Paper: We don't flush toilet paper down our head for fear of blockages, but have a special bag for it next to the head. When we are out sailing, we toss it overboard. We have a strict rule about nothing else going in that trash bag.
Cans and Bottles: Without refrigeration, we went through a lot of cans, and bought our beer and soda pop in cans. As much of that would be destined to a landfill on shore, we decided that sinking them in deep water was the most responsible thing to do. We rinse them out in sea water after use, and collect them until we are out in deep water away from shore. We don't just chuck them overboard, however. We have a bucket of water on deck to fill them to make sure they sink as opposed to just floating off on the surface.
Burnables: What is left after all the above is paper and plastic. This we collect and bag up tightly to stow in a kayak - our 'deck storage unit' - until we get to the land of garbage cans. It's amazing how compact it all is if cans and bottles are not included, and how little smell there is if no food scraps are in it.
On occasion we burned this collected trash ashore, but burned it carefully. We would make our own fire pit on the beach so as to be able to clean it up properly afterwards. It doesn't work to burn garbage unless there is a good supply of driftwood to keep a fire hot enough to completely burn the plastic. We would make a bed of sticks, open our garbage bags and thoroughly drench it all with gasoline, stand way back, and flick a match in. It takes a while, poking with a stick, to burn it all down to ash. We would come back later in the day to pull out foil and incompletely burned items. If done properly, there is even very little ash left to clean up the fire pit.
We agree with the Mohrs in the May Latitude that many cruisers in the Sea of Cortez do not deal with their trash responsibly. Following the lead of the local fishermen - who aren't particularly fastidious - is tempting but probably not appropriate for visitors. Cruisers should not burn their garbage unless it is done with considerable care. Dropping your garbage off in one of the small fishing villages probably means it will be tossed into a local arroyo, so we came up with this Chaika Basura Plan to contribute as little as possible to the local landfills. We loved our cruise in Mexico and look forward to future visits.
Will, Joan, Katherine and Elizabeth Miller
The Millers - We salute your having a carefully thought out plan for your trash while in the Sea of Cortez. Since we have an exceptionally large amount of storage space on our catamaran, we bring all our trash back to port. Is it better that our cans end up in a landfill or an arroyo, or that your cans end up a couple of thousand feet down at the bottom of the Sea? We're sure there are different opinions about this.
On a related subject, we're disappointed
that our idea of a Sea of Cortez Cruiser Clean-Up of cruising
anchorages hasn't seemed to develop any traction. It's not as
if cruisers in the Sea don't have the time and means to do it,
and it simply isn't that big a job. How about you folks at Loreto
Fest, Island Madness, and Club Cruceros de La Paz making May
1 of each year Sea of Cortez Cruiser Clean-Up Day? Latitude - and we're sure other marine businesses
- would be happy to provide Clean-Up T-shirts, bags, and whatever.
We cruisers made the messes, why shouldn't we make a little effort
to clean it up? And it's not like it has to be drudgery, for
with a little creativity, it could be done in the context of
a party-like atmosphere. So come on, what group or individual
is willing to step up to the plate for a cause that is going
to make us cruisers look like contributors rather than detractors
to the health of the Sea of Cortez?
I wanted you to know that Shillelagh is back on the Bay after a Ha-Ha, a season in Mexico, and an interesting trip back home.
On the way back, we had to stay in Cabo an extra five days due to - he, he, he - rough weather. Because we fell behind schedule, a crewmember with an unsympathetic boss had to bail on us. My other crewmember fell so head-over-heels in love with some gal on the beach that he jumped ship for 2.5 days! When he turned up again, he wanted to bring her along for the Baja Bash. She rode a Harley, so she figured how tough could sailing be?
I'd done my fuel calculations based on getting five nautical miles to the gallon. But in the strong headwinds and chop, it turned out to be more like three nautical miles to the gallon. When we got to Bahia Santa Maria, about 180 miles north of Cabo, we redid our calculations - and discovered we were going to run short. So we sailed 25 or so miles back down to Mag Bay, then inside the Bay for another 20 miles in order to buy fuel at a cute fishing co-op town. Next time I do Mexico, I'll spend more time in Mag Bay.
We took off again on Mother's Day headed about 275 miles north for Turtle Bay, which we hoped would be our last stop before San Diego. Old King Neptune had other plans. While just north of Cedros Island, I was off watch in my bunk when I saw a fog in the air and smelled lots of diesel. I pulled the engine cover and saw a diesel injector line peeing fuel on the exhaust manifold! Naturally, we had 18 knots on the nose at the time and were doing bellyflops over 10-foot seas. Shutting the engine off made conditions even worse. Knowing that this wasn't a problem that could be repaired in Turtle Bay, it looked as though we might have to backtrack nearly 400 miles to Cabo San Lucas.
First, however, we reached over to the Punta Blanco anchorage to try some fixes. None of them worked. So we decided we'd try to sail upwind to San Diego. We got our butts kicked big time, with green waves rolling down the deck and water finding its way through hatches and getting everything soaked. I mean everything - clothes, blankets, and mattresses.
I then got on the SSB Bluewater Radio Net and described our problem. The skipper on Wonderlust II advised me to pull the injector line, beat it flat with a hammer, put a bend in it to seal it off, then put it back in. My four cylinder engine became a three banger - but she worked for 350 miles! What a wonderful tip.
But that wasn't the end to our problems - or clever solutions. A short time later I noticed that the engine was overheating. The cooling water was barely flowing from the back of the boat, so I figured there must have been a piece of kelp or a fish head plugging up the line. So I took my trusty beer keg CO2 bottle and connected it to the raw water intake hose, then blasted it out. The motor ran cool from then on. By the way, beer kegs make for wonderful fuel containers for the trip home.
By the time we got to Ensenada, my two crew were madly in love and weary of the trip north. They jumped ship in Ensenada - which was just as well.
Prior to crossing the border back into the U.S., I threw my outlawed vegetables overboard. When I checked in at the San Diego Police Dock at 2 a.m., the voice over the phone said, "That is all that is required for your clearing in." There was no dog search or anything. I then got a call from my brother, who asked if I needed a hand bringing the boat home. I picked him up at Newport Beach, and he and I did two on, two off, watches until we passed under the Golden Gate Bridge. After the trip north, it was nice to sleep in clean sheets and with a warm fanny next to me.
Shillelagh will be doing six-pack charters on the Bay all summer. If anyone is interested in sailing on her, I can be reached via email.
I'd been out of the country, so I didn't hear about your request for Cal 40 stories for your Boat Of The Month feature until it was too late for the article which appeared in the June issue, but I'd like to share one such story.
On June 13, 1995, Sonoma's Hans Vielhauer and his Cal 40 Chaparral were caught in the entrance channel of the Ala Wai Boat Harbor by the 'great southwest swell of '95'. This was the swell that caused lots of damage and killed several surfers in the Islands. According to Honolulu newspapers, the swells were the biggest to hit the south shore in 15 years, with sets of 10 feet and more.
Hans and Chaparral were motoring in the channel when a towering wave broke across the entire channel, ripping the signs off the channel markers and pounding the shore. Chaparral was knocked down by the breaking wave, and Hans was washed overboard. As he went over, the heel of his foot kicked the gearshift into reverse.
When the breaking wave passed, Chaparral righted herself, and made a nice circle in reverse - right back at Hans! When he surfaced and saw his boat coming back toward him, he knew there was only one thing to do - climb back aboard! Although well past the age of 60 at the time, Hans managed to climb aboard his Cal 40, after which he put the transmission in forward and set a course for deeper water!
This amazing incident did not pass unnoticed. Many people watched in disbelief from the docks of the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor and from ashore. Among these were the folks on the Bodega Bay-based Pelican, who took photos of the event.
Chaparral had proven herself repeatedly over the years. She'd made half a dozen trips to Hawaii, including several TransPacs with crew, two Singlehanded TransPacs by Hans in '90 and '92, and a circumnavigation by Hans in '95-'96 with me as crew. But she also demonstrated tremendous loyalty by coming back to rescue to her own skipper!
Marianne - It's wonderful that so many
people saw the incident and that photos were taken - because
otherwise nobody would have believed it! If there is any senior
sailor who could have climbed aboard a Cal 40 that was motoring
toward him in a channel wracked by huge breaking waves, it was
Hans. We knew him from the first two Singlehanded TransPacs he
did with his 29-footer. Hans wasn't the most gregarious of sailors,
but we have a real soft spot in our heart for him, and will remember
him for as long as we live.
We just got back from five months of sailing in the Eastern Caribbean, and I am in the process of reading all my back issues of Latitude - so forgive this ol' man if I missed something.
In the June issue, you wrote about an undependable starboard engine starter/solenoid combination on your catamaran that sometimes starts and sometimes requires that you jump it with a quarter. We had the same problem with our MacGregor 65 several years. Finally, during the '02 Antigua Sailing Week - where we tried our luck against the Oysters and got smoked - we had to do something. Tom Fugina, our able foredeck crew who works for the WI electric company here in Milwaukee, showed us how to jump the solenoid. From then on we used a little yellow wire that had two alligator clips to start the Merc 150 hp diesel - yes, it's a Mercury diesel - when it got stubborn.
While at Admiralty Bay in Bequia this past season, we decided to rig a permanent jumper. I put on a wire and ran it to a convenient place so I wouldn't have to tear up the engine room just to start the motor. After a few hours work, I tried the new rig and . . . nothing! After several beers and a day or two to cool off, I hired the local electrician. He ran a heavier wire with a new starter switch. It was $100 well spent, as it works every time.
The original and still present starter has several relays in the circuit. These relays are located in the electrical box on the motor and serve to keep the motor from starting when in gear or when the electrical throttle/shift is not powered up. We need to have that fixed someday, but our list is long, and since we can start the motor at will, it's a low priority. I suspect that your relays are the problem.
That was an interesting letter about the burnt out and restored Catalina 42 that sunk off of Kick 'em Jenny in the southern part of the Eastern Caribbean. They were making the singlemost feared and respected passage in the Eastern Caribbean. We have made that run from mainland Grenada to Carriacou - which is also a Grenadan island - and back many times. It usually blows 25+, and I have seen 40 a few times. The seas are mixed and irregular because of the current and the major change in depth. When going north, the wind is usually on the nose. Lately, we've taken to turning on the motor and slugging it out for 25 miles. Lots of cruisers just stay way offshore either to weather or leeward, and haul up to Martinique's St. Anne's harbor - which is absolutely the best anchorage in the Eastern Caribbean - to avoid both this passage and the newly instituted $40 entrance fee at Grenada.
Speaking of Catalina 42s, my son Scott - who won't leave California - and his bride Rebecca were recently hitched at the Mission in Ventura. Since I was there, I couldn't pass up the chance to walk the local docks, which is how I stumbled across a new Catalina 42 that has an electric motor for her main engine and a fuel cell as an energy source. She's on L Dock in Ventura. You should check it out. Owner Craig Schmitman is checking out this approach. He explained how it worked to me three times - and I still don't understand where the power is coming from.
We are still looking for a reasonably-priced interchange for our main engine fuel filter. If any of your readers can help it would be appreciated.
Ken & Anne Nigel
Ken and Anne - Thanks for the advice
and information. We're coming to the Eastern Caribbean with Profligate this winter - probably with some
heavier wire for our starter - and will be keeping any eye out
I lived in the Netherlands during most of World War II, and upon my return from England to The Hague, my father allowed me to continue my schooling in South Africa. I ended up in Johannesburg in 1946. A few years later, I met Hanno Andre de la Porte, father of the current owner of Groote Beer. We became good friends, and I joined him in a new automobile franchise adventure with the then-popular - in South Africa - DKW, forerunner of the Audi. Hanno's stepfather was Mr. Greeve, who had imported BMWs and DKWs into the Netherlands before the Germans walked in.
Mr. Greeve was an excellent businessman, but also a very patriotic Dutchman. His secretary was a Jewish lady, who was never sent to a concentration camp because Greeve had a false room built over the workshop area, where she spent about four years in seclusion and silence. The workshop down below was always full of trucks and motorcycles from the German Wehrmacht, which had to be serviced or repaired during the occupation period. This lady survived the war, and I met her on several occasions when visiting headquarters in The Hague. It must have been a harrowing four years for both she and Mr. Greeve.
Hanno's second child was Jan Willem. His whole family moved to Holland and left me to mind the store in South Africa. I am sure that Mr. Greeve took his grandson on his newly-acquired yacht Groote Beer as soon as the boy could walk. Ironically, I never learned about that yacht or even knew she existed.
I left South Africa in 1956 to seek my fortune in California, after Hanno and his family - not liking Europe - returned to South Africa. I was invited to the wedding of Jan Willem Andre de le Porte and the daughter of another expatriate from Johannesburg, Lewis Leewens and his wife Sheila, who had settled in Seattle. The young couple returned to Johannesburg to run the business while his father was in Holland. I occasionally heard how they were doing, through Seattle.
A few years ago, I received a call from Sheila Leewens, who inquired if I knew anything about the whereabouts of the Groote Beer. To that day I did not know about the connection between that boat and the Andre de le Porte's. Quite frankly, I thought the Dutch botter was an ugly duckling and had never really followed that craft.
Here comes the killer. Having lunch one fine afternoon with noted Sausalito sailor Hank Easom, I asked him about Groote Beer. The Northern California sailor not only told me all about her time in the Bay Area, but also remembered that his son Kent had seen the boat in Astoria, Oregon. One telephone call later, Kent confirmed this, and I was a hero for passing this information on to the family in Seattle. They made contact with the new owner and the rest is history. I just received pictures of the newly floated Groote Beer in Holland from Mrs. Leewens. If any one wishes to continue to follow Groote Beer's progress, I'd be happy to help.
I read with interest your June article on Cal 40s. These were amazingly well-built boats, and you mentioned some of the situations in which Cal 40s survived. But you didn't mention one of the most dramatic ones, which happened right here in Northern California.
Rod Park of the Richmond YC was devoted to Cal 40s and raced his everywhere. The story I know is about when he raced his boat to the Farallones and back in about 1971. The boat was headed back toward the Bay and was crossing the Potato Patch when a huge wave pinned the boat on her side for a half mile before the boat finally righted herself. The crew in the cockpit and below were panicked as the water poured into the cockpit and down the hatch. When the boat finally righted herself, the rig was intact and most of the damage was bilge goo on the interior cabin ceiling! But the boat had held up.
When the crew finally gathered their wits and realized they weren't going to drown, they noticed one of their crew who had been on the windward rail was nowhere to be seen. Fearing the worst, they put out a call to all boats in the area. One of the other racing boats saw the floating crew member - it was me - and dropped out of the race to pick me up. After two passes, they were able to pull me aboard.
All I remember of the wave is that it was huge - at least six feet above the windward rail. The moment I saw it, I wrapped my arms around the stanchion and held on. I didn't feel anything after that. I was apparently swept across the boat between the boom and deck - only about 18 inches high - and into the water. I didn't have any bruises, so I must not have hit anything when I went over. Obviously, I was very lucky.
After thrashing around in the water and feeling like I was drowning, I realized that my wool skull cap had pulled down over my face! Upon removal of my hat and breathing fresh air again, I realized that I was totally alone in the ocean with my boat so far away I couldn't even see her. It is amazing to feel so small and insignificant. That is when the aforementioned fellow racer saw me and came to my rescue - for which I am, needless to say - eternally grateful.
I apparently spent about 30 minutes in the water, and became chilled to the bone. I gratefully accepted two shots of rum, and when I got home, I sat in a hot bath for four hours. In fact, I think that the Cal 40 held up better than I did.
Richard - Given all that you went through,
we hate to have to tell you that Rod Park owned a Cal 36, which
was a similar-looking but slightly smaller version of the Cal
40. Obviously, they were well-built also.
I have really enjoyed reading Ernie Copp's letters in Latitude over the years, but after reading his statement about his Baja Bash north in '73, I had to write. I crewed for him on that trip, and what he said about the boat handling the trip better than the crew was true. All I remember about that trip north was that I was wet and cold. I also remember continually flying up off the deck while trying to claw the jib down as we punched through the waves. That trip was a real learning experience for me because it was the first time I had sailed on another person's boat - plus it was the first time I had sailed out of Southern California's protected waters.
Ernie is an amazing person. I feel privileged
to know him.
In your June issue, I read in Sightings of our rescue on May 23. We were on our way home and I looked at my watch, it was 1:30 p.m., and felt queasy suddenly. I started to go below, then passed out. My husband passed out and slumped over the wheel which caused the boat to go in circles for the next 2 1/2 hrs.
The sailboat Juanita from the Vallejo Yacht Club called the Coast Guard at 4:00 p.m., but the Mission City Police boat was the first to arrive. Due to great seamanship, they were able to board our boat and stop it while our engines were running at 20,000 rpm. Mark Heeden and John McGinnis transferred us to their boat and brought us to the Loch Lomond Marina where San Rafael paramedics took over.
I would like to locate the nurse from the White Holly, who administered oxygen, so I can thank her. The Vallejo Coast Guard was very efficient and took our boat (including our dog and bird) into the Loch Lomond Marina. Many thanks to them and everyone who was involved in the event.
After checking our exhaust system and finding no leaks, we have to assume that because our stern door was open and the rest of the boat was enclosed that the carbon monoxide was able to come in on a back draft. Needless to say we have now installed a CO monitor and will always keep the windows open to insure proper ventilation.
Being longtime sailors on sailboats, traveling to and from Mexico several times (including a Baja Ha-Ha cruise), we are not inexperienced. However we are new to powerboats and we are grateful to be alive!
Ralph & Rose Harding
INSTALL HORN RELAYS ALL OVER YOUR BOAT
The problem is not the starter on your starboard engine, it's the ignition switch, the wiring to the starter - or maybe some 'greenies' that are so common on boats. The solution is simple. Buy a horn relay at your favorite auto shop. Place the relay next to the starter, use the wire from the ignition switch to pick the horn relay, and use the contacts in the horn relay to 'jump' the starter. By the way, I suggest that you do it on both engines. And if your alternator is not putting out as much as it used to, yes, another horn relay to power it. Horn relays are cheap.
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