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AN ECONOMICAL WAY TO SAIL THE BAY
After reading about finding ways to sail the Bay without spending a fortune - the December Letters on trailerable boats - I want to suggest another possibility: partnerships.
In October of 2000, three of us, who had been friends for over 15 years, purchased a wonderful 1981 Newport 30 through the Latitude Classy Classifieds. We each had a budget of $6,000, and wanted a 30-footer that would be comfortable and safe on the Bay. When we saw the Addiction, we knew we had found a gem. We took her for sea trials and then had a professional survey. The surveyor had us do a 'noon hang' at Svendsen's and said, "Buy this boat." Since the three of us had very little sailing experience, we offered the previous owners one week a month for a year in exchange for showing us the ropes, so to speak.
At this point there are four partners, and we all put in $75 per month ($900 per year) to cover slip fees and miscellaneous expenses. We each have one week - Thursday through Wednesday - a month where the boat is 'ours'. During the rest of the month, we just email each other and see when she is going out. If the boat is not being used on a particular day, then another partner can go sailing. If Partner A is going out on Saturday, that usually means the boat is available on Sunday. We have all found we can sail as much as we want - I average about 50 days a year - and we can also trade days and the like. Every other year we paint the bottom and do general maintenance, so money in the kitty goes towards that. We also put up the additional funds to cover the yard bill, which is usually somewhere between $300-600 each.
Lastly, if a partner wants to relinquish their portion of the partnership, it is their duty to submit the classified ad and sell their portion to a new partner. This includes showing the boat and sea trials. The other partners have the right to turn down the prospective partner if said partner does not get unanimous approval for whatever reason.
All in all, we have had a very successful partnership, with everyone getting plenty of time to sail the Bay. We highly recommend boat partnerships as an economical way to enjoy one of the most beautiful cruising grounds in the world.
Folks can visit www.addiction30.tripod.com to read about our adventures on the Bay and beyond. For others interested in Newports, be sure to check out our "Related Links" for more info on Newports and cruising stories from around the world. Through our partnership I have become 'addicted' to sailing, and have dreams of sailing to New Zealand some day.
If anyone wants more info on partnerships, please contact me through our Web site.
Readers - Given the right combination
of people, boat partnerships can dramatically reduce the costs
of boat ownership. If you've had experience with boat partnerships
- good or bad - we'd love to hear from you.
We have been making yearly voyages down the California coast and back up for the past six years. As others making the trip know, whale sightings are very common. We have seen many different displays of whale behavior: breeches, spy-hops, slapping flippers and the normal surfacing for a blow followed by the tail raised out of the water.
To encounter so many whales in a boat doing seven knots makes me realize that the whale population along the coast is large. Unless the whales can manage to avoid boats, it seems that the chances of hitting one are not that slim.
Indeed, it was sometime after midnight in July 2002 that we found ourselves in very nasty conditions in Windy Lane just north of San Miguel Island. The wind had increased dramatically after we rounded Pt. Conception, and the seas had built to a threatening size. We were sailing under a double-reefed main and had just made the decision to head up to the protection of the lee shore near Santa Barbara when I felt a familiar sensation from my two decades of sailing south of the San Mateo Bridge - the stern rose and the boat came to a complete stop as the keel dug into the soft mud.
I suddenly realized it couldn't be mud as we were in 300 feet of water. I immediately looked over the stern to see the familiar pattern on the water surface that is left by a diving whale. We'd hit a whale!
We still wonder about the whale, and feel terrible about possibly harming one of these gentle giants that have given us so much joy over the years. We also realize that we were very lucky. At the speed we were traveling, the collision could have easily damaged our rudder.
I've never seen a floating container along the California coast, but I've seen hundreds of whales. I now know that your chances of hitting one are not that remote.
Dudley - We're delighted to see that
the whale populations along the coasts of California and Mexico
have made dramatic comebacks, but we agree, it's getting dangerous.
Years ago, we heard about experiments in which boats sent out
noise to alert whales to their approach. It would be great if
something like that could be perfected. We'd be the first to
buy one, both for our sake and that of the whales.
In the November issue, you wrote the following about the 'father of GPS':
"Although we don't believe he ever set foot on a sailboat, we note the passing of Ivan P. Getting, who died at age 91 in Coronado last month. Getting, a cold war scientist and staunch patriot, is generally attributed as the visionary behind the creation of the Global Positioning System, GPS. He considered it a boost to our national defense. Little did he dream it would also become the most important navigational tool for sailors - and hikers, fliers, etc. - since the sextant."
My father was, in fact, a sailor. Dr. Ivan A. Getting began to realize his dream of sailing in 1950 on a 36-ft chartered schooner out of Marion, MA. He owned three cruising boats: a Nova Scotia-built wooden schooner NIP, one of the first production fiberglass boats, the Bounty II Fair Lady; and a beautiful Calkins 50 wooden sloop Sirenia. He sailed for 40 years, in New England, Southern California, the Caribbean, and in Mexico. He sailed Sirenia back from Mazatlan in the dead of winter. No trucks for this man.
Ten years of sailing the fog-bound southern New England coast instilled in Ivan a great desire to be able to navigate reliably at sea. Memories of casting a lead line while approaching the beach on Martha's Vineyard in the dense fog with only dead reckoning to estimate position would make anyone want a better way to navigate. The New England coast was a land of lighthouses. They were principal among the aids to navigation at that time.
When Ivan championed the GPS system beginning in 1960, it was top secret. It was, of course, built for the military, which still foots the bill. Later, when the system became known and free to the public, my father referred to GPS - which enables us all to navigate reliably - as "lighthouses in the sky." I think the phrase came from an approach to Woods Hole, MA, on a dark night in 10-ft seas made of black ink. Five lighthouses were visible simultaneously. We found our way.
GPS was born at sea in the mind of a man who sailed longer than many of your readers have lived. It was born on the moving deck of a sailboat by a man whose dream of sailing had come true. He dreamed, and we all benefited. And, yes, he did know how to use a sextant.
Yours is a journal of seafaring folk. Ivan A. Getting, the father of GPS, was of that clan, beginning over half a century ago. He died less than a year after sharing the National Academy of Engineering's coveted Draper Award for the development of GPS, his proudest accomplishment among many. The mast of his last boat, Sirenia, was visible from his kitchen window the day he died.
Ivan C. Getting
Ivan - As the son of the 'father of
GPS', what do you think of our idea that all non-U.S. users of
GPS should pay a $20/year fee for the use of the system in order
to repay U.S. taxpayers who financed it through the U.S. Department
of Defense? After all, why should they get something of such
tremendous value for free?
Ahoy. I wish to purchase a bluewater cruising boat and sail her to Easter Island by way of the Galapagos. One small detail - I've never sailed before. It's also December. I'm looking for help in how to best attack this goal - apart from waiting until spring.
What sort of vessel am I looking for? My budget is limited to just over $50,000 to go to sea. Something says ketch, for they have smaller sails per given sail area, which suggests easier handling, and the mizzen would appear to be valuable in heavy weather. Are these suppositions correct, and are they important? I understand already that I'm talking a large displacement/length ratio for a bluewater cruiser, and therefore it will be slow, but, of course, I want the room. I hope to get my speed from having the longest waterline within my budget.
Comparatively, if I buy a cheap vessel in poor condition and spend a fortune to have it professionally refitted, would I be better off than with a newer and more expensive boat? A more simple question; Do boats just go to utter rot, and cheap is cheap?
I have read the Handbook of Sailing. Recognizing the limitations of what can be learned from a book, it appears rather simple in principle. Children can sail, after all. Is this a skill one can teach oneself, or are qualified lessons the only sensible way to learn?
When it comes to the time frame, I have a substantial leg up with respect to navigation and meteorology - we landlubbers have weather, too. I'm hoping to buy this vessel in early 2004, learn to sail it summer/fall 2004, and head for the southern hemisphere in early 2005. Is this wildly optimistic? I'm a bright lad, but wonder if a feller can learn to sail well enough for bluewater in a single year? I do not plan to go alone, although not necessarily with crew more experienced than I. Considering logistics, regulations and so forth, what time frame would be realistic for me?
I think you get my drift, which is that I currently know just enough to be lost with all hands. Please toss me some suggestions, including, if you must, evaluations of my sanity.
TIA - If you have passion, at least average intelligence, and $50,000, there's no reason you can't safely cruise to Mexico this fall and the South Pacific early next year. Lots of folks have learned to sail and bought and prepared a boat in such a time span.
Take it from someone who has never taken a sailing lesson, the most important thing you can do is take sailing lessons rather than try to teach yourself or learn haphazardly from friends. However, we might suggest waiting until March so you'll be able to learn in reliably strong winds. In addition to the basic classes you might take on the Bay - a great place to learn - you should also sign up for one or more three-day offshore adventures to Catalina or the Channel Islands. This will not be money thrown away, but rather a good investment in your future cruising pleasure.
Come the third week in March, you should fly down to Puerto Vallarta for the Banderas Bay Regatta. There are three days of fun racing, so if you play your cards right, you'll be able to crew on three entirely different kinds of cruising boats. In addition, you'll be able to walk the docks and see hundreds of other boats that have been cruised to Mexico, and talk with their owners. If you want, you could easily get a crew position on a boat going up to La Paz or down to Acapulco.
As soon as the Beer Can Races start in April, you should participate as frequently as possible as crew. Yes, we know you're not interested in racing, but that's not the point. Your goal should be to observe others having a great time with their boats while maneuvering at high speed in close quarters, and to sail on as many different types of boats as possible. When the Master Mariners Regatta rolls around on Memorial Day, make sure you get a spot as crew for that event, too. During the race, observe how the various kinds of rigs perform in different conditions.
By June, you could have finished several basic sailing courses, been out sailing at least 50 times, been offshore a couple of days, and sailed on scores of different boats. By this time you'll have started to develop quite a bit of confidence, as well as a good idea of what kind of boat appeals to you - and it might be something entirely different than what appeals to you now.
By the end of July or August, you should be able to find a decently-equipped boat that easily fits into your budget. We suggest that you avoid complicated fixer-uppers, because you don't know enough about boats at this time to properly evaluate them. It would be better for you to get a simple boat with gear that works. Once you buy your boat, sail her three or four times a week on San Francisco Bay, and at night, too. By September, cruise her down to the Channel Islands and Catalina for offshore and anchoring practice. Do the Ha-Ha at the end of October. Cruise the Sea of Cortez in November and December, and mainland Mexico from December to March - not forgetting the Banderas Bay Regatta in March. The first week in April, head off to the Galapagos, French Polynesia or wherever.
The only thing preventing you - or any
other person with $50,000 - from following this plan is a lack
I know I may seem curmudgeonly, but while making fun of some dope-smoking Richardson Bay anchor-out might seem amusing to some, I didn't care for the funny caption contest that appeared in the December 8 'Lectronic Latitude at the expense of someone who has lost their floating home. It doesn't quite fit the Latitude attitude, does it?
Dave - No, it doesn't. But there are several sets of mitigating circumstances. First, the Wanderer, who knew that the 'customized powerboat' had at one time been a floating home, was out of town. The editor who put the photo and item in 'Lectronic was not aware of that. Had he been, we're sure he wouldn't have run it.
Second, according to Richardson Bay Harbor Administrator Bill Price, the onetime powerboat had sunk before the big storm came in. In other words, the owners were responsible for leaving a hazardous wreck in a popular anchorage. Had this been the case with any mariner but an anchor-out, we think the Coast Guard would have been all over them demanding the wreckage be removed and handing out fines. And with good reason, for we're told that when the storm came, the trimaran, swinging on her hook, ended up on top of the sunken floating home. The former powerboat/home is destroyed and will be removed - presumably at taxpayer expense.
As for the trimaran, it had been swinging in such a wide arc that the owner of a nearby Knarr decided he had to reduce the scope on his anchor to avoid being hit. Not long afterward, the Knarr's anchor dragged and she ended up on the Tiburon shore. Luckily for her owner - and the citizens of Tiburon - Price was able to pull her off the beach.
We're sympathetic with the concept of
anchor-outs - but our sympathy wanes at the point when individual
or collective irresponsibility impinges on the safety and pocketbooks
of others. As such, for the safety of all, we think that all
long-term boats in Richardson Bay should be required to be on
independently-installed and maintained moorings which are inspected
annually for minimum safety standards.
Hello from Califia, a wooden boat built 43 years ago in Southwest Harbor, Maine. We're anchored off Liapari Island near Vella Lavella in the Solomon Islands, and John Sloboda's Oxnard-based Ranger 30 JoLiGa II is on a mooring 300 feet from us.
JoLiGa II is secure and being closely watched by Noel Hudson, a Kiwi engineer and owner of a small marina in this lagoon, because last week John was flown from Gizo to Honiara to Brisbane to Guam Naval Hospital for treatment of an infected foot and uncontrolled diabetes. We haven't gotten any updates in the last week, but know that he had a heart attack after his first surgery to amputate one foot and possibly a leg. He was reported to be comatose most of the time. There is only a "guarded" prognosis for his recovery.
Since John has so many friends in Mexico and across the South Pacific, we hope you can pass this information along. We met John in Tahiti, and were inspired by his tales. We talked with him on SSB while he traveled from Australia to the Solomons this year, and were planning a Thanksgiving day reunion with him in Gizo. As Latitude readers know, his story of falling overboard off Panama and having to swim around for nine hours before being rescued - as retold in the February 2003 Latitude - is a classic.
It should be noted that Fred Roswold and Judy Jensen of the Seattle-based Serendipity 43 Wings did extraordinary work in getting John out of the Solomon Islands. Fred also did an extremely detailed computerized inventory of what was aboard JoLiGa II, as well as moving her to this beautiful, secure mooring area.
Keithie Saunders in Honiara, an agent for the U.S. Consul, has been extremely helpful in handling John's paperwork and facilitating John's travel out.
Glenn and Glenna Owens
Readers - When Sloboda did the Puddle
Jump in '99, he was 67 years old, which tied him for the oldest
participant that year. A short time before he'd nearly died of
a collapsed lung, so figured he didn't have anything to lose
by trying to cross the Pacific. We certainly hope he pulls through,
but at least he's had four adventurous years in the Pacific,
doing what he loves the most.
This letter has nothing to do with boating, but rather my love for a boater. I hope you find it in your hearts to publish it.
Some people say that you don't understand a thing called love at age 16. I know firsthand what love is, and I was reluctant to let it go - even though my love was for an older, married man. He was a father figure, a friend I felt I could tell anything to.
One day he came to me and whispered the words I thought I'd never hear from anyone: "I love you." He kissed me on the cheek and left. He didn't wait for me to reciprocate. He didn't expect anything.
We'd talk on the phone and tease each other.
The hardest part was keeping it a secret from my mom. Her boyfriend didn't care. After all it was his best friend's attention I held.
We would go out to breakfast as a big group. My mom, her boyfriend, and a few others.
The relationship lasted about three months - even though my mom found out after the first month and forbade it.
The man and I still found ways of seeing each other or talking. I don't think my mom was very concerned - until the man's wife found out. After that there was hell to pay. Yet we still talked and saw each other.
Then one day everything changed, and he stopped calling. I don't see him anymore. Yet I still love him to this day. I don't know why I was plagued by love, but I hope I find it again soon.
K.B. - Sailing magazines don't get letters
like yours everyday, and frankly, we're not sure we know what
to make of it - which is why we used initials for your name and
the boat name. We presume that you knew/know that 'love' between
a 16 year-old girl and a married man can, depending on the extent,
be felonious. It can also be very unhealthy. So if you're having
trouble finding love again, or possibly feeling ill effects from
that relationship, we urge you to share your feelings with a
I want to thank the Wanderer for his great service as the Grand Poobah of the Baja Ha-Ha, as well as the others who made it happen. It was such a great event! After years of finding excuses not to join the fun, my son Tor and I, with crewmember Kelly O'Day, sailed our Liberty 458 Charissa in this year's event. Although there were some unusual happenings this year - from the smoke and ash in San Diego to the strong winds in Bahia Santa Maria - we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We were very impressed with the equal treatment shown to all, young and old, small boat or large, new boat or old. We were also impressed, but not surprised, with the generosity of all the participants, who were always willing to assist others with parts, medicine and expertise.
There are also two people who didn't participate in the Ha-Ha that deserve recognition. They represent the good and the bad of this year's event for us. The first is Pat Fuze, the Heart Inverter rep in San Diego. Our inverter crapped out on us on the way down from San Francisco, and we arrived in San Diego on a Sunday, the day before the start in the midst of the firestorm. Despite it being Sunday afternoon/night, and despite the fires and a family at home, Pat spent four hours replacing the inverter and rewiring a few things on the boat! I found him incredibly competent and quick. He was great!
In contrast, there is a second person who made my life miserable on the Ha-Ha. He was a skipper we met at the Crew List Party who agreed to sail with us down to Cabo, and then, since I had to return to San Francisco immediately, skipper the boat back to San Francisco. I interviewed a number of prospects, both at the party and in response to my ad in Latitude, showed them the boat, and turned down a bunch of other qualified people in selecting this individual. Then, just two nights before we were scheduled to depart for San Diego, which was just four days before the start of the Ha-Ha, he left me a message saying that he had changed his mind!
You can imagine our distress, since we had no time to find a replacement. The people I had interviewed had committed to other boats or were no longer available. As a result of spending a considerable amount of time looking for a skipper during the Ha-Ha, Dustin Fox, one of the crew members aboard the Swan 65 Cassiopeia, offered to skipper our boat back. Thank you Dustin!
Anyway, I felt it important to bring this person's lack of commitment to the attention of others who may consider him for crew in the future.
Wayne - Since we can't contact the man who was supposed to be your skipper for the trip back for his side of the story, we've left his name out. Let it be known, however, that skippers and crewmembers bailing at the last minute - and making life very difficult for boatowners - is an unfortunate fact of sailing life. As such, we always try to have one or two backups.
We're delighted you enjoyed the Ha-Ha.
The letters in the September and October issues about weather forecasting in the Sea of Cortez prompted me to write - although I don't want to enter the fray about the quality of any particular person's forecasts. Suffice it to say that, like most sailors, we aboard Solstice are concerned about the weather. And although we try not to be too preoccupied by it, we do take the time to get forecasts from a variety of sources - including voice broadcasts on the SSB, text email forecasts, and weather faxes.
In the three Pacific crossings that I have made, I have found that by far the best offshore weather information comes from other boats in your vicinity. You can get this information off of any of the cruising nets where boats check in with their current weather conditions. By actually taking the time to record what other boats are reporting, you can get a clear and accurate picture of the current weather around you. As you sail into this weather, that picture can almost be like having a crystal ball. I'll admit to being a bit of a nerd here, for I went as far as creating a spreadsheet on my computer to record and plot the reports from other boats. But it really does make a difference.
On our way down to New Zealand last year, we got advance details of an approaching front from a boat ahead of us that was checking in with the Pacific Seafarers' Net. From his report we knew to within less than an hour when we were going to get hit, from what direction, at what speed, and how long it would last. That allowed us to be well prepared - and all because we'd checked in with the net and actually paid attention to the weather that was being reported by the boats around us. Nothing comes for free, and this is no exception. Making use of the information on the nets takes a commitment of time and effort, but if you are following well-traveled routes, this a very good source of information.
When I'm receiving a voice broadcast, I like to use an electronic voice recorder to copy what is being said. My recorder fits in the palm of my hand and can store up to an hour of recordings, organized as messages in three separate folders. I bought mine four years ago for about $50, so I imagine that you could get a much more capable unit for that same price today. By recording the broadcasts I ensure that I don't miss any pertinent information. Because the recorder puts a time stamp on each recording, I can also store forecasts for a few days and review them to see how the predictions evolve over time.
On a different subject, I wanted to comment on Eden's Magic Bullet letter in the October issue. It seemed like déjà vu. I sailed with Don and Betty Lesley during the '96 Half Moon Bay Race, and as we were passing the St. Francis YC, a large flat fish - flounder/sole/halibut - jumped out of the water, hit me hard in the shoulder, and flopped around on deck for a few seconds before splashing back into the water. The fish must have cleared the water by a good four feet, as we were sitting on the high side of the boat. Everybody onboard heard the noise, but nobody else saw the fish - although I had a large slimy fish print complete with scales on my shirt to prove it had happened. I would guess that this fish must have weighed at least 10 pounds, and can only imagine what the impact would have been like if we had been in a motor launch going 30 mph - as Eden had been doing. I don't know if my fish story provides any clues to Eden's mystery, but it was eerily similar in regards to the location, suddenness, sounds, and lack of witnesses. The big difference is that I saw what hit me.
P.S. We didn't go to Tonga and Fiji this year as planned because Eleanor had to fly back to the States at the last moment to take care of ailing parents. I'm staying here on the boat trying to eat through about a year's worth of food before it goes bad, with top priority given to anything with a label printed in Spanish or French!
Jim - Based on a month of following
the weather for Profligate's voyage
from Cabo San Lucas to the Eastern Caribbean, we'd have to agree
that onsite reports from other boats are the most accurate. For
example, it wasn't uncommon for American and French government
forecasts for the same region to be at odds by 100%. Nor was
it uncommon for Profligate to be bashing into 20- to 25-knot
winds and nine-foot seas when the forecast for the entire region
called for 10 to 15 knots and five-foot seas. In the Caribbean,
at least, we'd take the official forecasts with a grain of salt.
My wife and I have done several bareboat charters in the Windward and Leeward Islands of the Caribbean. We were finally able to convince a couple of our non-sailing friends to go with us on the next trip. The lady in the couple is very excited about the trip and said she has been telling everyone she knows about her new adventure, but she often gets a snicker or funny look in response. So I asked her exactly what she's been telling her friends and coworkers.
"Nothing much," she said. "just that I'm looking forward to going on a barebottom cruise."
Doug & Dixie Lent
Doug and Dixie - Don't forget to take
a few photos for our upcoming special feature on barebottom charters.
I found Mike Moore's letter about Mini-Transat boats interesting because I race my Moore 24 singlehanded, and after several thousand ocean miles on her I can say that I've never felt unsafe. In fact, I'm signed up for this summer's Singlehanded TransPac to Hawaii.
As to his claim that a Mini-Transat 6.5 meter would be excluded from races to Hawaii, that's not true. The Singlehanded TransPac takes boats from 20 to 60 feet, and therefore a 6.5 meter boat would be eligible. In fact, there is already talk of two Minis doing this year's singlehanded race to Kauai.
But I would be interested in knowing why Moore unequivocally states that Minis are safer than Moore 24s. I would direct him to Sailing Solo by Nic Compton, in which he writes the following about Minis: "The danger of taking on the Atlantic Ocean in such small craft was forcibly brought home in the very first race with the death of two skippers. . . Their deaths signalled that this race was no walkover, and forced organizers to take safety precautions even more seriously. It was an issue that would come back to haunt them again and again."
I am unaware of any loss of life on a Moore 24 doing short-handed long-distance races. I would agree that this is not a fair comparison due to the small sample size of shorthanded Moore sailors, but I believe that it is equally unfair to say that the Moore 24 is unsafe. As far as built-in safety features, the Moore does not have internal water ballast that requires vulnerable thruhulls and tanks that may leak. There is no canting or sliding keel that could potentially leak or fail. The SA/displacement ratio of the Moore is far smaller, making capsize far less likely. The beam on the Moore is much narrower, making the boat less likely to stay inverted should she flip in the first place. The Moore does not use running backstays, which are more likely to lead to rig failure - especially in the case of an exhausted skipper.
In the final analysis, if you are looking for absolute safety, you should leave your boat at the dock and go home. If you are looking to sail across an ocean, choose a boat that matches your budget and sailing abilities, and sail it intelligently. A good sailor with some luck should be able to cross safely in either boat.
As to the trip to Hawaii being a no-brainer, I would suggest that racing a high performance boat across the Pacific or the Atlantic is never a no-brainer. The amount of safety gear and prep time needed are immense, and there are a number of factors beyond one's control. We all do our best to prepare for all possible eventualities, but the wind, the sea, the passing tanker while you are napping, or the container just below the waterline, all make this a somewhat perilous proposition.
As far as shipping the boat back after the Singlehanded TransPac, a Moore 24 has a much shorter rig and a shallower draft. This means less deck space on the container ship, and less disassembly/reassembly cost and time. It should therefore be cheaper to ship the Moore back than it would be to ship a Mini. I personally think the idea of a 6.5 meter is really great, and I may eventually try sailing one - but I doubt that I'd ever invest $40-$100,000 to buy one.
If Mr. Moore is interested, there is still time to do the 400-mile qualifying sail to be able to enter his Ayu in the upcoming Singlehanded TransPac. I would love to buy him a drink at the bar in Hanalei Bay, where we could trade stories and discuss the merits of various race boats.
George - For 30 years, the Moore 24 has proven to be an extremely capable ocean boat, nevertheless there have been some incidents. For example, in the disastrous 1982 Doublehanded Farallones Race, the Moore 24 Bad Sneakers and her two crew were among those who were never seen again. Later, Grover Nibour disappeared doing a Singlehanded TransPac qualifier aboard his Moore 24 - although his boat was recovered without any sign of damage. Finally, a woman was washed overboard from a Moore 24 during heavy reaching conditions during a recent West Marine Pacific Cup. Fortunately, she was recovered.
But there have been deaths and plenty of incidents with the Mini-Transat boats, too. Because the custom ones are extreme to the max, and because many are built by the skippers themselves, there have been problems. A friend of ours, for example, built one with a hi-tech keel that fell off in the first leg, causing the boat to quickly sink.
The Moore 24 and the extreme custom
Mini boats are very different animals, and it seems to us there
are conditions in which each would be better than the other.
But with boats that small, there is always some additional risk
in very heavy weather.
Thanks for your response to my letter last month about sailing MiniTransat boats to Hawaii from the West Coast. I made the mistake of looking at the TransPac entry requirements, which specify a minimum boat length of 30 feet, while the Singlehanded TransPac allows boats as short as 20 feet. The West Marine Cup comes close to allowing Mini-Transat boats, with a 24-foot minimum, but not quite.
It just proves that those of us who like singlehanded sailing are just a bit more adventurous (crazy?).
Mike - More adventurous indeed. We recall
that one of the finishers of the first Singlehanded TransPac
was a humble Santana 22.
I doubt that you would have published the two letters from 'Just Being Me' if Mr. Antisocial Behavior hadn't identified himself as being in La Paz - as it sort of supports your theory that La Paz has a large percentage of wackos.
I've been doing some thinking about who this guy might be. I've spent a few years down here in the anchorages near La Paz, and I've never had the misfortune of running into Mr. Antisocial Behavior. From his letter, we know that he came down from San Francisco a few years ago. I'm guessing that he's single, and suspect that most nights we could find him in one of the local bars. He would be loud, crude, and aggressive. In reality, he probably doesn't even get out to the anchorages very often at all - that is if he even has a seaworthy boat. If I crossed paths with him, I would have avoided eye contact. I'm sure he doesn't attend any of the cruiser functions.
It's possible he could be the much hated 'Clicker' on the morning nets in La Paz - the one who clicks his mike to cut off anyone that he has taken a dislike to. His problem may be that he has been unsuccessful in relationships and is desperately seeking attention. Or maybe he's just bored and needs to find a hobby besides recreational drinking.
Sharon - We would have run Mr. Antisocial Behavior's letters no matter where he was from because it's not often you get entertaining stuff like that.
La Paz is a great place, and is very popular with even the most normal and socialized cruisers. We don't think it has a large percentage of wackos, but rather a larger percentage of extreme characters than most other places in Mexico. If you disagree, what other port would you nominate? But when it comes to extreme characters, La Paz can't hold a candle to some of the ports in the Caribbean.
You suspect Mr. Antisocial is probably
loud and crude, but our gut feeling is that in person he's on
the timid side. It wouldn't surprise us at all if he and the
Clicker turned out to be one and the same.
Since I was part of Navy electronics (ET1c) in World War II, I find it hard to believe that with modern Navy sonar, "sailboats under sail can be challenging to detect." With at least two tons of lead or iron, a sailboat might well stand out better than a mine - or even a mooring ball! Perhaps the Navy is concentrating too much on prop noise (curve analysis) and not enough on solid metal targets - as we did in the 'old days'? Explanation please.
By the way, I consider Latitude to be on a par with National Geographic when it comes to professional communication - and a helluva lot less expensive.
Walt - It was former nuclear sub skipper and current cruiser Gene Crabb of Liberty Call, among others, who reported that it's hard for subs to detect sailboats with their engines off. We don't have the scientific background to know why that might be, but we'll accept their statements that it is.
Meanwhile, thanks for the kind words.
Kirk McGeorge kindly gave me his copy of the latest Latitude - in which you published my letter about meeting Kirk and Cath here in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgins. The Counselman family - Daddy Steve, Mom Sue, 5 1/2-year-old daughter Ani, and nearly 4-year-old Sam - is very pleased to have become great friends with the McGeorges - including the latest addition, two-month old Stuart Patrick McGeorge.
Kirk has told us all about the upcoming Transit of Venus, so you can imagine that he went into ecstasy when his family came up to visit at our house for dinner - and discovered that we have a fairly large telescope. In fact, we're hoping Kirk will figure the darn thing out so that we can all enjoy using its many bells and whistles - such as a GPS feature. We live at nearly the top of St. Peter Mountain, so there is excellent exposure and very little competing light, which has Kirk and Peter already discussing 'Star Parties'.
We are under the impression that some of the Latitude crew aboard Profligate's 25th Anniversary Cruise to the Caribbean may visit our area, possibly even during the Transit. We hope that they will be able to join the McGeorges, us, the telescope, and the obelisk to really rock the Transit of Venus!
Sue - Thank you for the invitation. Regrettably, we don't think we'll be in the Virgins on June 8 for the Transit of Venus, but we'll be there sometime during the winter and will be sure to say hello.
For readers not familiar with the Transit
of Venus, see last month's feature in Sightings.
It's a very interesting celestial happening.
I feel compelled to make a challenge to Max Ebb and his friend Lee Helm. In the September issue of Latitude, Max could not accept that 'boat performance' is one reason why a Westsail 32 won a West Marine Pacific Cup race. Although he gives possible credit to a "skilled crew." I'm not flattered by that explanation for the victory. There was not a single magician aboard Saraband during her racing career.
I believe Max's problem is his education. He thinks like too many others who think of themselves as engineers. Mathematics can certainly explain much of what is happening in our world, but it cannot explain all phenomena. Much is missing in the database. When an engineer has an agenda to satisfy, the absence of data may obscure a truth.
For example, over the years I have read many articles about the benefits of lower prismatic coefficients for sailboats. The lower the number, the more easily driven is the hull. That is completely true and it proves a point. However, I have never read of the benefits of the higher prismatic coefficient. The lower the number the slower the theoretical hull speed. Conversely, the higher the number the faster the theoretical hull speed. I really question whether some yacht designers fully understand the tradeoffs they make. The Westsail 32 has a high prismatic coefficient and yes, a faster theoretical hull speed than other boats of equal waterline length.
Many designers/authors/engineers will not explain both sides of an issue accurately. It is not to their benefit to do so. When this goes on for many years, the buying public is often the big loser. In the quest to sell the illusive 1/4 knot, it is frequently other important attributes of boat design that may be short changed. Did you hear about the Ericson racer/cruiser that hit South Minerva Reef last November and was lost, or about the modern S2 cruiser that hit a wing dike here on the Columbia River last year and was holed and sunk?
Here's my challenge to Max: Tell me how many times a properly prepared Westsail 32 would have to win a long distance race against other more modern looking boats before he would accept the fact that the Westsail was faster. Please give me a number. How many other 32-ft boats that cruise would the Westsail have to beat across the ocean before he would admit that 'boat performance' was the reason?
Here is another challenge to Max and Lee: For argument's sake, accept that the Westsail 32 - or the Alajuela 38, or the Cape George 31 - is faster than similar length cruising boats, and explain why that is. I feel they owe it to us.
David - We'll look forward to Max's
response next month.
In response to the December issue letter regarding the identity of an avian passenger, it's hard to tell from the black and white photo, but the bird in question appears to be a Townsend's warbler - if most of what we see as white is actually yellow - or a more interesting hybrid of a Townsend's warbler and a black-throated gray warbler - if the white really is mostly white. Either way, it would be a female.
The Townsend's warbler is a common migrant that breeds up north and winters here in California. You can learn more than you ever wanted to know about birds from your local Audubon Society Chapter, which you can find at www.audubon.org. Most have free monthly meetings with interesting presentations, as well as free outings. Here in Santa Cruz, there's also the Santa Cruz Bird Club, which has its own site at www.santacruzbirdclub.org.
I enjoy the regular short pieces in Latitude about marine wildlife - like the one in December about albatrosses. People can learn more about real seabirds and other ocean wildlife through Audubon's Living Oceans campaign at www.audubon.org/campaign/lo/. Readers might also be interested in work being done to protect seabirds on islands off Baja and elsewhere, at www.islandconservation.org. Keep up the good work!
I think the bird in question is a Townsend's warbler. Many such migrants make their way onto sailboats, merchant and research vessels, as well as fishing boats during the migration season. In Monterey Bay last September, while leading a natural history trip, my buddy Michael Ellis and I had a black-throated gray warbler land on the boat for about an hour, before hitching a ride to the harbor with another whale-watching boat.
But the real treat for us was a visit by an arctic tern, which also rested for a spell. That's a bird that needs an occasional break because it flies 20,000 miles during its annual roundtrip migration from pole to pole - an avian distance record.
The bird in question in the December issue looks like a Townsend's warbler, which breeds in the forests of the Pacific Northwest and spends the winter along the coast of California and the mountains of Mexico. Millions of small songbirds migrate over hundreds of miles of water every year, especially those that travel from the eastern United States to Central and South America. The champion long-distance small migrant is probably the Blackpoll warbler, which launches from Virginia or North Carolina, and flies straight south to Venezuela - an amazing journey over thousands of miles of open ocean for a bird that is only five inches long.
This particular warbler in the photo possibly got blown offshore by easterly winds, and found the boat to be a convenient resting spot before it flew back to land.
Michelle - We are surprised to find this bird stuff quite interesting. Whenever a bird lands on a boat offshore, everybody assumes that it was near death. Are you telling us that this isn't correct? And how in the devil can a small bird fly 5,000 miles, much of it over water? Where do they get sustenance or rest?
Speaking of birds on boats, while making
the passage from Antigua to St. Barth last month, this rather
chubby fellow flew into Profligate's
main salon during a heavy squall and took a perch on one of the
provision drawers. He wasn't afraid of anyone. When the squall
passed, Mike picked him up in a towel, made a little nest for
him in the cockpit, and provided food and water. Despite our
rumbling around on deck, our new avian friend calmly stayed in
one place. Come morning, there wasn't a trace of him - other
than several gooey white and green 'going away presents'.
For several years I have read Latitude's articles about the Napa River, where you say something to the effect that it's so shallow above the Napa Valley Marina that you can only get a dinghy into the town of Napa.
I want to point out that the Napa Sea Scouts (SSS 90), operate the 90-ft twin diesel Chaser, which has 9 feet of draft, out of their base just south of the 3rd Street Bridge, and they take her on a cruise every month of the year. During periods of extreme low tide, they can touch bottom at places like the bottom of Green Island or the top of Fly's Bay, but most cruisers draw less than 9 feet, so as long as they stay in the channel they shouldn't have a problem.
Staying in the channel is the challenge, since navigation markers are scarce between the Mare Island Bridge and Green Island. So mariners need to study the chart and use their depthsounders to avoid sharing the mud with the short-legged birds. Be sure to arrange for the Maxwell Bridge opening with Caltrans if your mast height requires it. A new fixed bridge is being built.
There is a nice public dock and gangway at the 3rd Street Bridge, just two blocks from the center of town, and it is an easy walk to the wine/food/art center Coppia. The restored Hat Building at the waterfront is a stone's throw from the dock and has fine eats. Angele, for example, is superb. Napa has become a suitable cruising destination and is accessible.
Mike - The Napa River and Napa are not just suitable cruising destinations, they're terrific destinations. In fact, the Napa River has become the traditional place for us and several of our friends to take our boats for the Fourth of July weekend. It's much closer than the Delta, and it has terrific restaurants.
We don't recall ever saying the Napa River is too shallow upriver of the Napa Valley Marina - but we might have said it starts to get a little narrow for anchoring. Are we accurate in saying that? We usually anchor between the Napa Valley Marina and the Highway 29 Southern Crossing Bridge, then enjoy the scenic seven-mile dinghy ride up the river to downtown Napa. This, of course, requires a planing dinghy.
In our experience, the only tricky part
of the river has been around channel marker #7. If you go within
100 feet of that marker, there doesn't seem to be any water at
I thought you might enjoy the Word of the Day for October 13th from dictionary.com. They should have illustrated it with a picture of Latitude's cat!
profligate \PROF-luh-guht; -gayt\, adjective: 1. Openly and shamelessly immoral; dissipated; dissolute. 2. Recklessly wasteful.
noun: A profligate person.
Both Curtiss and Feldmar agreed that after the birth of Bruno the couple grew less happy and that there was a good deal of squabbling caused, apparently, by the father's profligate ways and infidelities. -Arthur Lennig,  Stroheim
Life had to be challenged, attacked every instant, with reckless speed in a Ferrari, with profligate spending, with unrestrained sexuality, with artistic ambitions as monumental as they were impractical. -Tag Gallagher,  The Adventures of Roberto Rossellini
For in so many ways we seem at times to be "a nation of public puritans and private profligates." -Tracy Lee Simmons, Steinbeck Reconsidered,  National Review, March 25, 2002
If this were not the case, we would all end up as either misers or profligates. -"What matters, what doesn't?"  Investors Chronicle, May 2, 2003
Profligate derives from the past participle of Latin profligare, "to strike or fling forward, hence to the ground," from pro-, "forward" + fligere, "to strike down."
Synonyms: abandoned, corrupt, depraved, dissolute, wicked.  Find more at Thesaurus.com.
Dan - So that's what it means!
It seems as though it's easier to spread resin on a partially-built boat than it is to put bits and bytes on the Web, but I've finally gotten around to updating the Web site about the 42-ft catamaran I'm building here San Francisco. I'd been trying to get the coachroof on before the cold weather starts so I could work inside with a heater during the winter. I got that done in time. Right now the basic boat structure is done, although I have a little exterior work left such as the transom steps. I have to wait for the rudder shafts to arrive before I can finish those. I hope to complete the actual fiberglassing by the end of the winter, and expect that it will take another year to finish fairing, paint the boat, and do the fitting out.
It's a funny feeling to finally be able to order a couple of sheets of Core-Cell foam to complete the boat as opposed to buying a couple of cases at a time, because I just don't need that much anymore. The same goes for the resin. I have just opened my tenth 55-gallon drum of resin, but from now on will only have to buy the occasional 5-gallon bucket.
We enjoyed reading the July issue article on the famous schooner Lord Jim, as my (Mary's) parents, along with three other couples, were part of the ill-fated charter that hit a reef at Mustique. They were eventually flown to Trinidad and then the States. That's one reason why Mom and Dad visited us here in Trinidad in May, to see how things have - and have not - changed in 30 years. We brought several back issues of Latitude back with us to Trinidad and have shared them with the yachties here.
We soon leave for Tobago and then up the Lesser Antilles chain. Regrettably, this will be our last season of cruising.
Mary & Rob Miller
Mary and Rob - While recently in Antigua,
we visited with Jol Byerly, one of the more noteworthy owners
of the great schooner. As you might expect, he has many photos
of her hanging on the walls of his bookstore.
In the last issue, a fellow identified only as Dick wrote the following: "I recently saw a schooner on the Bay named Gold Star, which looked like an Alden design. I have a friend who is building a similar vessel, and it might be very helpful if we could contact the owner. Any ideas?"
Latitude's answer was as follows: "We don't know of any schooner named Gold Star."
That answer was an oversight on Latitude's part, for our 47-ft schooner has appeared in the print version of Latitude, and in 'Lectronic Latitude in August of '01, August of '02, and June of '03. Furthermore, Gold Star and her enthusiastic crew can be seen sailing on San Francisco Bay most weekends.
Gold Star is alive and well, and has been sailing on San Francisco Bay since 1965. If you don't mind, we'd like to share her history with you. She began as one man's dream in a Richmond cabbage patch. George Krenkel had been buying, refurbishing, and selling boats all his life when he saw the schooner's plans in a 1948 Yachting magazine. "It appeared to have everything I always wanted in a sailboat," he later said.
Krenkel spent 14 years building the schooner with blueprints purchased from naval architect J. Murray Watts. The original plans called for a working gillnetter without a bowsprit. After Watts died in '57, Krenkel received an offer to purchase the boat from Charles Wittholz, who had taken over Watts' business affairs.
Krenkel declined the offer. "My building program is both recreation and hobby, and I am taking the time to do a job that will do justice to the same effort and feeling that Mr. Watts must have put into the design," he wrote. "The fairness of hull and sheer is surely a thing of beauty." At that time, Krenkel obtained blueprints to add the bowsprit. The original plans called for a gaff mainsail, which was changed to a Marconi mainsail. Today the Gold Star is outfitted with three additional sails, and the foremast is gaff-rigged.
The Gold Star was launched in 1960. When the present owners, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence H. Cullen, purchased her in 1962, she was a bare-bones hull of 2 x 2 fir, with a 1937 Chevrolet transmission on a Model A rear end, and a working head. Larry and Margaret and their three children - Kathy, Jim and Bud - spent the next three years outfitting the Gold Star for Bay and ocean sailing. Larry improved the original sail plan from gaff main to Marconi main, and increased the height of the mainmast and foremast. Teak decks were salvaged from the heavy cruiser Oklahoma City. Oak bunks, a chart table, and oak drawers were removed from a navy vessel before it was put into mothballs and used in the schooner. Blocks and most stainless steel fittings were designed and built by Cullen. Ballast of approximately four tons was melted and cast to fit below the cabin. The Waukershaw gas engine installed by Krenkel was removed around 1963 and replaced with a 35 hp war surplus Buda diesel. That engine was replaced with a new diesel Yanmar in 2001.
The schooner Gold Star has logged more than 35,000 miles of ocean sailing, including trips to Mexico, Hawaii, and four trips to Alaska. The crew always comments how comfortable the vessel is on a long ocean trip, as well as sailing on San Francisco Bay. The Gold Star has participated in Master Mariner's Races, the 2003 Wooden Boat Show in Tiburon, and has been featured in calendars, books, magazines and posters, as well as several on-line Web sites. Thank you for the opportunity to share the history of the schooner Gold Star.
Jim and Marlene Cullen
Jim and Marlene - As you can imagine,
we feel like complete idiots. That such a fine schooner and story
have escaped our collective consciousness for all these years
is mind-boggling - and embarrassing. Thank you for the correction
and for sharing the schooner's history.
I'm getting close to purchasing my first digital camera. Based on your past recommendations I am leaning towards the new FujiFilm FinePix S5000, which looks like the replacement for the 3800 that you have recommended.
A couple of questions. Are you planning on updating your recommendations? How do you keep your camera dry, or what do you do to avoid moisture? Have you had any problems in that regard? Thanks.
Steve Van Slyke
Steve - We're not as up on the digital camera market as we were when we wrote the FujiFilm FinePix 3800 review a year or so ago, but Latitude owns four of them, and we use them relentlessly for all but fast action photos on the water. The compact size, the built-in 6 times optical zoom, the 3 million pixel resolution, and the superb FujiFilm color are very satisfying. The only major drawback is that - as with seemingly all digital cameras in this price range - there is considerable lag between the time the shutter button is pushed and the image is captured.
After some quick research, we learned that the S3000, which has a street price of under $300, is the replacement for the S3800. That's a huge camera bang for the buck. The S5000, as we understand it, is basically the same camera with a 10 times optical zoom, and interpolation that allows the camera to act as if it captured six million rather than just three million pixels. The latter is only of importance to folks looking to make 16 by 20 inch prints, and who have lots of memory to burn. The S5000 retails for about $350, and also seems to be a heck of a deal. We don't know, however, if the extra pixels and increased focal length of the zoom make up for the extra size. We've found the compact size of the S3800 to be a very appealing feature.
We also want to emphasize that there are many other superb digital cameras out there these days, and it's possible that if we did more research we'd feel that some other brands were better than FujiFilm. The specific things that so impressed us about the FujiFilm 3800 was the proprietary color, which is very people pleasing and particularly good for the blues and greens you find around the water, and the built-in 35-210mm optical zoom. The thing that would really impress us is if some company came out with a sub $500 digital camera with hardly any shutter lag.
Flash! (Pun intended.) We just read
a review of the Toshiba M700, which has a combination of features
of great interest to us - a 10 times built-in optical zoom lens
plus very low shutter lag. The latter apparently would make it
acceptable for shooting photos of boats in motion from other
boats in motion. The street price is around $350. If the color
was good, particularly the blues and greens, it would certainly
be something we'd consider. Olympus also offers a C-750 with
a 10 times optical lens.
The statistics of Profligate's cruise to the Caribbean are very interesting, and I thank you for posting them on the December 8 'Lectronic Latitude.
It was reported that she ran for 540 hours and covered a distance of 3402 miles, which works out to an average speed of 6.3 knots. This, of course, includes miles gained when the engine was off (sailing), and hours gained when the engine was on and the boat not moving, so let's call it even. She required about 45 horsepower to maintain this average (this figure is the roughest, as I don't know the details of her engine(s), so I used a general-purpose specific fuel consumption of 0.4 pounds per horsepower-hour.) Given a waterline length of 60 feet, this corresponds to a speed-to-length ratio of 0.813, which is a nice sedate operating condition.
By comparison, that same speed/length ratio for our Columbia 36 would yield a speed of about four knots. That's just about the 100-mile-a-day figure that a boat of our size would hope for.
This is gratifying, for in our multi-year cruise from Puget Sound to Mexico, we averaged about 3-3.5 knots - measured 'lines off' to 'lines on'. A lot of the modern sailing literature would lead one to believe that this is unbelievably slow, but I am gratified to see that Profligate was only 25% faster, and that under power. (You may recall that we have the small electric drive, and thus only use power for handling around the docks. We've spent a lot of time drifting, whether crossing from San Leandro to Coyote Point in a mere five hours, or drifting slowly down the back side of Catalina after midnight.)
Again, thank you for sharing the data. It is hard to get real numbers for most cruises, to see how many hours of engine use are involved, and so forth. I appreciate your contribution.
Chris McKesson, Naval Architect
Chris - We're delighted to help, and we, too, enjoy going over such factual information. But you need to remember that Profligate has two 56-hp engines, not one. While they can be run at up to 3,800 rpm and give 10.5+ knots in flat water, they burn 2.5 gallons an hour. At 2,600 rpm, they only burn a gallon an hour while moving the boat along at 8 knots.
Oddly enough, we removed the Flex-O-Fold three-bladed feathering propellers in Cabo, figuring they would be less efficient than three-bladed fixed props. It turns out that the Flex-O-Folds are more efficient in forward than the fixed props.
Other things to consider are that the mileage given was the rhumbline distance as opposed to the actual distance covered. There was probably an extra 200 miles travelled, what with a detour to Vacamonte to have the saildrives replaced, stopping at Cartagena, some early easting from Aruba, and stops for fuel.
In addition, ocean currents were major factors at certain times. In the Pacific, there was frequently an adverse current, sometimes as much as one knot. When motoring the more than 1,100 miles across the Caribbean, always bashing into wind and seas, there is almost always an adverse current of nearly a knot.
Thanks to the haulout in Panama, we
also learned that when fully loaded - extra 55-gallon barrels
of fuel, full water tanks, lots of sails, lots of crew, dinghy
and outboard, etc. - Profligate weights 22 tons. When light,
she probably weighs 16 tons.
Being that it's winter, and due to a fortunate/unfortunate lapse in employment, I find myself with lots of time to prepare the boat for latitudes south. And I have a question.
I have a 8'6' Avon inflatable with wood floorboards, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to store it on my 30-ft boat during a short passage, where towing it would not be practical. The only place it fits when inflated is on the foredeck. I'm not comfortable with that because it would limit access during any kind of situation. If I deflate the tubes and fold it up, it fits nicely - albeit not very attractively - on the cabin top under the boom. Do you think that deflating and reinflating it is a viable way to go, or would you buy something that might nest instead?
Dave - We'd sure test out the deflate/inflate money in real life cruising conditions before we'd invest a lot of money in trying some other alternative. But it sure would be interesting to hear what other folks with boats 30-ft and under have found works the best for them.
By the way, it would help if you included
what type of boat you own, as there is a tremendous amount of
difference in how much room various boat designs have.
Your answer to my letter in the December issue left me feeling like I don't know my #@# from a hole in the ground. I can only explain it by saying that I have only owned production sailboats for the last 20 years, and this is my first - and probably last - custom-built yacht. So please be patient with me.
My Mariner 50 is hull #88, was designed in '78, built of fiberglass, and commissioned in '79. I know this because that's what it says on the drawings done by designer Blaine Seeley (not sure of spelling). The builder, according to my survey, was Mariner Boats in Taiwan - although I don't know how my surveyor knows that. She is sloop-rigged, 50 feet overall, and displaces 25 tons. I know she isn't going to win any races, but I'm hoping that she will sail well on anything from a beam reach to a run. If I want to go upwind, she's got a 185-hp Perkins. We decided that this would be our cruising boat because my wife told me that she wouldn't go if she couldn't be comfortable.
I sent my first letter to you because I can't find another one of these boats listed anywhere. I'm attaching a photo in hopes that it will help. I also hope that you will see her first hand on the 2005 Ha-Ha. Thanks for your help.
Mike - We apologize if we made a cranky
response, but sometimes we get frustrated when readers ask us
to identify boats without giving us any pertinent information.
The design looks familiar from the photo, but we really don't
know anything about her. Be that as it may, we're looking forward
to doing the Ha-Ha with you in 2005.
I'm responding to Don Farquharson, who complained that he and others have been having a lot of trouble with the new environmentally friendly fuel jugs, I was in the same boat. What I finally figured out is that if I didn't try to pour, but simply upended the whole jug, jamming the nozzle into the fuel filler neck and pushed, it would hold the spout open and drain the jug into the tank.
Of course, there were no such instructions that came with the jugs!
I am trying to locate a very good friend of mine, Nick Ratto, who is somewhere in the Bay Area aboard the 39-ft steel cutter Turtle. I know he reads Latitude and hope you will print this in the next issue. He can reach me at (619) 425-7281 or via email.
Dear Readers - We get about one request
like this a day. As much as we'd like to be able to facilitate
reconnecting people, we just don't have the time or editorial
space. If it's really critical that you find someone, you'll
have to take out a Classy
Classified. For 'Trying to Locate'
classifieds, we'll offer a special price of just $10.
In the September issue, you wrote an editorial response to my letter that went, "We hate to possibly be the bearer of bad news, but did your Papoose ever race under another name? We ask because TransPac records indicate there's never been a Papoose that has done that race. Doing a little more research, we found that only three Lapworth 36s have done the race to Hawaii: Jo Too, which took 5th in class in '63; Gambit, which took 13th in class in '67; and Woodwynd, which took 17th in '71 and 14th in '73."
I wish to thank all the people who responded to that letter of mine, including folks who sent me emails. In answer to the question raised by the editors, Papoose has an engraved metal plaque indicating that she was originally named Margarita. In addition, a crewmember who sailed on the boat in '67 says she was named DotMar before being named Papoose.
I appreciate the listings that have been given of the L-36s that have been in the TransPac, but feel they are incomplete, as is clear from Skip Allan's November letter. My Lapworth was launched in '56, and was the fifth one built. One would certainly think that the first one to sail in the TransPac would have done so earlier than '63. I wonder if the list you used started early enough to capture the TransPacs from the mid to late '50s.
Anyway, as a result of all this, I have started a modest Web site at www.lapworth36.com, and invite other Lapworth 36 owners and enthusiasts to submit material.
Allen - Our reference is the extremely detailed 726-page hardbound book, TransPac, 1906-1979, which lists all the boats and crews that have ever done that race. We've checked, double-checked, and triple-checked, but according to those official records, there has never been a Papoose, Margarita, or DotMar that has done that classic race to Hawaii. There's no reason, however, that you can't change that in 2005.
The reason there may be a slight discrepancy
in the Lapworth 36s listed by Allan and ourselves, is that in
a few instances boats are described as '36 foot sloop' rather
than as 'Lapworth 36' or 'Cal 36'.
After the almost complete destruction of Marina de La Paz, it is comforting to know that progress is steady on the construction of the new Baja Marina just five miles northeast of La Paz. The luxurious marina will be properly protected by a breakwater, which is just about completed. The office and administration buildings are already finished.
When completed - it's slated to open in October of this year - there will be space for 315 boats between 30 and 120 feet. Finally, a place in La Paz where one can leave a boat safely - other than Marina Palmira, which is also properly protected by a breakwater.
Hubert - Thanks for the information.
We're told Baja Marina is going to be a very upmarket resort
and marina combination. With that kind of facility, and dock
space for boats to 120 feet, we expect that that part of the
Sea of Cortez, and the nearby islands, are about to see a significant
increase in tourism.
Is there a place on the Web where we can find more photos from the 2003 Ha-Ha? You took a photo of us on the beach in Turtle Bay after we dumped our dinghy. My wife was wearing the Stanford hat and I was holding our drenched outboard.
Charles - It's been a very busy winter,
so we haven't gotten around to posting new photos on the Baja
Ha-Ha Web site - which, by the way, is at www.baja-haha.com.
But we'll try to get around to it. Meanwhile, is this the shot
you're talking about?
We were really impressed with the Baja Ha-Ha. This was the first Ha-Ha for us and our Island Packet 380 Crème Brûlée, as well as our first experience with real cruising. Before the start of the Ha-Ha, our sailing had been limited to daysailing or weekend cruises around the San Francisco Bay. Now our boat is in Mazatlan, poised for the trip to Puerto Vallarta, and hopefully the Canal, the Caribbean, and beyond.
We found that the Ha-Ha is much more than just a lot of boats traveling together to an interesting destination with occasional breaks for parties. First, it has an organization that encourages a lot of novice cruisers such as ourselves to make the leap and go after our cruising dreams. It's 'safe space' resulting from being surrounded by over 100 other boats linked by radio communications and operating under a set of common rules. While the Poobah made it painfully clear on countless occasions that each boat was on her own and the folks aboard were traveling at their own risk, the reality is that every effort was made to make damn sure that each crew has a fun and safe transit to Cabo San Lucas.
We were impressed with the effectiveness of the daily roll call in giving us a good sense for where everyone was and how they were faring, and facilitating medical or technical help whenever it was needed. Not bad when you consider that 113 boats had to be accounted for. A nice by-product of the radio communications, by the way, was a first introduction for many of us to the etiquette and discipline of a cruiser net. By the time we got to Cabo, we sounded like a bunch of old SSB pros, even if our SSB had been installed just before the starting gun - as was the case with us.
Second, the Ha-Ha was a great introduction - warts and all - to cruising in Mexico. We were impressed with the places that were chosen for intermediate stopovers on the way to Cabo. They are the kinds of places that cruisers to Mexico will find most often, which gives participants some experience and confidence in cruising in that environment, and appreciating what that great country has to offer. Turtle Bay is a remote small town with no marina, but good anchoring, and an endless supply of helpful people. Bahía Santa María is an excellent anchorage, and essentially has no town, just a few fishermen who were friendly, willing to be of service, and able to supply fresh seafood in exchange for fresh water, AA batteries, or a few pesos.
Via radio, the Poobah prepared the members of the fleet for what to expect from the locals at each stop, and how to behave around them - something that American travelers can be a little careless about. His message was consistently positive and, without exception, the cruisers' experience at each stop was equally positive. The Mexicans that we met on these stopovers were wonderful ambassadors for their country, and from what I was able to see, so were we folks in the Ha-Ha fleet.
If there is such a thing as a Cruising Hall of Fame, we would wholeheartedly nominate The Poobah and Latitude 38 for what they have done for cruising, not only through Latitude, which is chock full of relevant cruising information with an upbeat personality, but through the Baja Ha-Ha Cruising Rally. Long live the Poobah! And thanks for the Baja Ha-Ha.
Bill and Cynthia Noonan
Bill & Cynthia - You've gone so
far overboard with the compliments that you're making us blush.
But we do love the Ha-Ha. By the way, Kimball Livingston of Sail magazine, who was aboard the SC 52 Impulse,
reports they'll be having a five-page feature on last year's
Ha-Ha in an upcoming issue.
I was crew aboard Bob Edmond's Hunter 410 Yemaya for Ha-Ha 10, and I just wanted to say how much we all appreciated all the work and organization you put into it. As you might recall, I did the first Ha-Ha in '94 aboard my Pearson 34 Northstar, so I can appreciate that things have grown a lot more complicated since then. It must be very satisfying to know that you have been instrumental in inspiring so many people to go cruising.
It's too late for Christmas, but if someone is looking for a great nautical read, I suggest Blue Latitudes by Tony Horwitz. It's about Captain Cook's three monumental voyages. The book appears to be thoroughly researched, historically accurate, and written in a lively and humorous style. The author actually went to the places Cook visited and tried to get a feel for what it must have been like. There is one particularly funny episode where he signed on to a modern-day tallship to 'learn the ropes' - and couldn't wait to get off!
Dave - Thanks for the nice words. We're
delighted to report that the Ha-Ha Rally Committee has asked
us if we'd be the volunteer Grand Poobah again on October 25
for Ha-Ha 11. Are they kidding? Of course we will!
We are perpetually snowbound and landlocked up here in Verdi, Nevada, only seeing our beloved sailboat once every three weeks or so. So I religiously review the 'Lectronic version and, of course, rip the mailbox door from its hinges when the print version arrives.
Thank you for the photo of our boat Racer X in the December issue. It's funny to note that while it appears that all is under control during the gybe, a careful look at the players demonstrates that a pretty good fire drill was taking place. The boat was going 12-13 knots, and we knew that Latitude Racing Editor Rob Moore was lined up to windward to make us a poster child in the magazine if we muffed it. We had no idea of the carnage behind us.
We enjoy Latitude and respect the tons of time it takes to put it on the racks for us. Thank you for your support.
Michael A. Rosenauer
Michael - You're very welcome.
As the Dockmaster at Club Nautico in Cartagena, Colombia, I found it a little disturbing that Bill Riggs of the CT-65 Valhalla - which he describes as "the flagship of Panama" - should write Latitude in the September issue and ask folks to 'dig up dirt' on my employer. He makes no bones that his request is to further his goal of getting the marina concession for him and his friends.
I have been working with Club Nautico for nearly two years, and we have had many new and happy cruisers stop by and enjoy the facility. In fact, the marina has been full almost all year. Contrary to Rigg's claims, we have a group of supporters loyal to the stewardship of Sra. Canderlaria and, in spirit, Norman Bennett.
While nobody can keep every customer happy all the time, the truth is that there is little dirt to dig up about Club Nautico. Yes, we have simple norms and rules for all to abide by, rules which are designed to provide a pleasant and secure place for our visitors from all over the world. There are some that try to impose their own norms on us, which on rare occasions can lead to conflict - but that happens everywhere. The truth is that Sra. Candelaria Bennett has an enormous heart, and will sometimes allow behavior to go beyond what's normally tolerated. But at some point going too far is too much, and it can lead to a stereotypical Latin reaction on her part.
Most cruisers would acknowledge that the only reason places like Club Nautico exist is because of the passion of people like Norm and Candelaria, who have battled endlessly to keep and develop Club Nautico for the cruising community. I think they have done a great job concentrating on the essentials, particularly given the difficulties that come with government leases limited to 20 years. Because it's a battle, some folks have the impression that all you need to do at the end of a concession period is trump up a bunch of innuendo, make friends with a few officials, and presto, the concession is yours!
Thankfully, Sra. Candelaria has fought such battles before. Unfortunately, such battles are stressful, and they prevent us from concentrating on improving our services and making our humble marina capable of welcoming even more visiting cruisers.
I'm confident there are enough members of the cruising community here who are fully aware of Rigg's motives without my having to elaborate on them. And I'm confident that there are enough of them familiar with his having used our facility as a base for what appeared to be an escort agency using some very young and seemingly vulnerable ladies. This behavior offended many of our tenants.
It's also worth mentioning that there are two well-known yacht clubs in Cartagena, the Club de Pesca being the other one. Riggs failed to mention that cruisers do have a choice, and most decide to choose the Club Nautico.
John Halley, Dockmaster, Club Nautico
Readers - For what it's worth, the Wanderer stopped briefly at Club Nautico in Cartagena in '94. The place was packed with cruisers, and everyone seemed quite happy.
Early last month, Profligate and her crew called on Club Nautico without warning on their way to the Eastern Caribbean. Doña de Mallorca reports that although there was no room at the facility, John Halley, Candelaria Bennett, and Candelaria's sister Mavis couldn't have been more pleasant or helpful. Just there overnight, de Mallorca reports that the tenants, as well as the cruisers in the anchorage, seemed to be having a fine time.
If anyone else wants to weigh in on
Club Nautico, we're eager to hear your opinion.
How does one get a picture of their ugly mug in Season's Champion section of Latitude? I ask because I need a little stroking for the New Year. I have won back-to-back Small Boat Racing Association Laser 'Chumpionships', and now have won back-to-back Byte 'Chumpionships' - but not one picture in Latitude. I sure would like to see my photo with the other hot shots.
Readers - Due to Dan's lighthearted attitude - "Chumpionships" - we were initially unsure if he was serious or not. Turns out, though, that Dan has a pretty remarkable sailing resume. His sailing career started back in 1970 when a college buddy took him for a ride aboard a Sunfish on Lake Merritt. He's been racing dinghies ever since. After a few years of college racing, he bought his first El Toro and raced it every weekend, learning technique for several old hands at the Lake. He moved up to Lasers in the mid-'70s, finally winning the Laser SBRA Championships in both 1999 and 2000. After shifting to Bytes, he won season championships in both '02 and '03.
Dan shares his passion for sailing by coaching an Oakland high school racing team and instructing both kids and adults at Oakland's Jack London Aquatic Center.
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