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IS THIS A GREAT COUNTRY OR WHAT?
I thought I'd let you know that I indeed 'kept my chin up' after losing my Bounty II Novia in Marina de La Paz during Hurricane Marty last fall. As a result, I have scored a 'new Novia'. She's Sea Oak of Ventura, which is a Rhodes-designed Pearson 41, a later version of the Bounty IIs that had been built in Sausalito. I was directed to her by friends Pete and Tracy Caras of Foxen, which was formerly based out of Ventura.
Thanks to credit cards, friends, and a cooperative seller, I was able to buy the replacement boat just 12 days after my Bounty II was destroyed in La Paz. Is this a great country or what?
It's going to be a while before my new Novia is back in sailing trim, but I'm happy as a clam to be off the dirt and back on the water. Ah yes, life is good! I just want to tell my cruising friends - who can contact me via email - that I haven't given up the cruising dream. I'll be back to Mexico soon, hopefully as part of this fall's Baja Ha-Ha. By the way, in '84-'85, I cruised a Pearson Vanguard, which looks like an 8-foot shorter version of the Bounty II, to Acapulco.
Meanwhile, the V.A. is continuing to fix
the worn-out hinges in my body. I hope to be enjoying beam reaches
Neill - Good on ya! We look forward
to doing the Ha-Ha with you.
Can you tell me the latest on Mexico's
plan for an Escalara Nautica or nautical stairway of marinas
down the Pacific Coast of Baja and up into the Sea of Cortez?
I would be interested in keeping a sailboat in a marina near
Loreto or Puerto Escondido as a part-time liveaboard.
John - From the day it was announced, we said that Escalara Nautica was a stupid plan based on preposterous business assumptions and would never be built.
In mid-January, CNN reported the sum total of work completed on the project is a small breakwater at Santa Rosalillita - which is in the middle of nowhere on a part of the Pacific Coast of Baja rarely visited by recreational boats. The report went on to say that with President Fox having to leave office in 2006, and with him not being able to run for reelection, the chances of the project being completed are about as good as a snowball not melting in the Baja desert.
Americans have been staying on boats
and leaving them unattended in Puerto Escondido for as long as
we've been going to Mexico. While there isn't a marina there,
several 'watchers' look after the unattended boats for a small
fee. The system worked quite well until Hurricane Marty blew
through last fall, and only unattended boats were destroyed or
went up on the rocks. It's possible that either the cruisers
in residence there or the Mexican government may require that
somebody be aboard all the boats all the time.
I'd been meaning to respond to a mention you made a few months ago of sailing pioneer Harry Pidgeon, who was the first man to do a circumnavigation after Joshua Slocum. But I've been busy moving our new boat - more on her later - down to Florida.
It's been over 55 years since I reminisced about Pidgeon, who, along with my dad, was one of my mentors. Both Harry and my dad owned Seagoer yawls. Harry's was named Islander, while my Dad owned Svalan, which he later renamed Temptress. Unlike's Pidgeon's boat, my dad's boat had a trusty clunker. Not only did it serve us well for maneuvering in and out of port, but it also heated a can of beans - after puncturing a hole for venting - while motorsailing out to Catalina.
Back in 1948, when I was 12, I lived aboard with my dad. It was about that time that we met Harry and went aboard Islander to share cruising dreams. Harry had sailed around the world many years before - 1921 to 1925 - so I sat in awe and listened to every word of his sea stories. He even asked if I'd like to go on a cruise with him. I was ready to jump at the chance, but my parents weren't keen on the idea.
My dad was full of salty yarns and lessons which I've never forgotten. For example, he told me that when I was in my bunk at night, I should keep my arm over the rail. That way I would feel the water if it came over the floorboards. Thankfully that never happened, but it was ingrained in my mind.
In 1955, I purchased my own boat, a John Hanna 37-ft Carol ketch. After sailing her to the Galapagos, I took her through the Panama Canal to the Caribbean. This began my ownership of a series of wooden boats that included a 32-ft Alden Malabar Jr., a 49-ft Alden ketch on which I raised a baby, and later a 42-ft ketch. Only once did I fall in love with a fiberglass boat, an S&S-designed Nautor Swan 36, which I dearly loved. But she ended up in the boatyard for six years while a new layer of epoxy was put on her hull.
Not to be boatless for long, my husband Jacques and I starting searching for a boat - and discovered a real project in the pages of Messing About In Boats. As he was reading the magazine one evening, Jacques said, "Listen to this, there's a 25-ft Sea Bird yawl that was built in 1949 that's for sale to a competent craftsman. She is located in Greensboro, North Carolina. Are you familiar with this design?"
"Do I know that design?!" I enthusiastically answered. "My dad had the larger sistership, and we lived aboard her and spent many weekends sailing around Southern California. She was designed by Tom Day, editor of Rudder magazine, who also did the Sea Bird and Naiad designs with the help of C.D. Mower and L.D. Huntington." I reminded my husband of meeting Harry Pidgeon.
"I must have this boat!" Jacques announced after my reminiscing. To make a long story short, a couple of months ago we tossed our futon into our old '87 Ford van that we use for our flooring business and headed north, pulling our rebuilt two-axle trailer to pick up our restoration project. We were not disappointed in what we found in Greensboro. The stout little yawl indeed had a special charm, but she also needed lots of TLC. The former owner had discovered this historical little ship abandoned in the woods of North Carolina, and pulled her out by tractor, awakening her gently from her long hibernation. Maybe this became more of a project than he expected, which resulted in the ad in Messing About in Boats.
The lovely little yawl was nameless, which we could tell made her sad, so we promptly christened her Kittiwake. We then hoisted her on our trailer along with her mast, booms, and hardware. As we lovingly stroked her transom, we assured her she was headed for plenty of TLC at her new home in southwest Florida. I think I felt her give a sigh of relief!
The return trip to Florida was to take two days. However, just past the Savannah River on I-85, our transmission gave out. We were stranded there for five hours until the tow truck arrived to pull our van and boat 70 miles to Athens, Georgia. Since it would ultimately take three days to get the transmission repaired, we began restoration work on Kittiwake right there on the busy main street of Athens. Naturally, this created a great deal of interest. Many people stopped to talk, ask questions, and give advice. We welcomed their comments and enthusiasm, but thought most of them were getting a good chuckle out of two aging hippies restoring an old boat.
While we waited for the transmission to be repaired, we tore out the centerboard trunk and centerboard, which made for far more room below. We made plans to build a fixed keel, as fully detailed in an article in Wooden Boat magazine that the previous owner had given to us. It was interesting to learn that the original Sea Bird plans were redrawn and revised for Wooden Boat by D.W. Dillon in April 1981.
We had all the experience, tools, plans,
patience and dreams to make this beauty come alive again. All
we needed was to get our transmission repaired and back on the
road to Florida. We're now home in Punta Gorda, where the palm
trees sway. As promised, Kittiwake sits patiently under
the carport waiting for us to begin the arduous work of giving
her a face-lift. The Peace River launching ramp is five minutes
away, so that will keep the dream alive as we begin this history-making
Ginny-Lea - Your life sounds as though it's been as adventurous as your name. We can't imagine many women of that era who owned as many boats or who sailed so far. Furthermore, we love you and your husband's hippie spirit. Please keep us posted of your progress.
Not to shortchange the accomplishments of Harry Pidgeon, he did a second circumnavigation from '32 to '37.
In one of the first few issues of Latitude, we reported on a guy from Oakland
named Tiger, who proclaimed that he was going to sail a 26-ft
Sea Bird yawl around the world. He made quite a deal of it, and
gathered experts in his apartment one night to chart a course.
A map of the world was produced, arms were waved, and the course
was settled on in a matter of about seven minutes. Tiger eventually
loaded up the boat with food, and sailed out the Gate. He was
back the next day, however, his dream of a circumnavigation over.
"I didn't realize that it was so much rougher outside the
Gate than on the Oakland Estuary," he explained.
I was glad to read in your December issue that Vito Dumas' book about his circumnavigation has finally been translated into English. I have a well-worn copy of the original Argentine edition of Alone Through The Roaring Forties, which was published in February of 1944, shortly after he completed his trip. I inherited the book from my father, who knew Dumas.
Growing up in Buenos Aires, I often heard
Dumas' name admired by other sailors. It is unfortunate that
World War II - he went around in '42-'43 - prevented greater
publicity of his amazing accomplishment. At least his boat, Lehg
II, is lovingly preserved at the Museo Naval in Tigre, a
suburb north of Buenos Aires. It's well worth a visit if anyone
is in the area.
Mabelle - For the record, Dumas was the sixth man to have sailed around the world solo. His was the seventh solo circumnavigation, however, because Harry Pidgeon, mentioned in the previous letter, did it twice before him.
Incidentally, Dumas' book was translated
into English back in the '60s. McGraw-Hill just decided to do
a re-release of many of their classic sailing books.
I'm thinking of moving to the San Francisco
area. I've heard that liveaboards are verboten. Are
there any marinas in the San Francisco area that allow liveaboards?
Steve - There are marinas in the San Francisco area that allow liveaboards, and some of them actually have BCDC permits to do so. Other marinas allow liveaboards without having the proper permits. And finally, there are some marinas that don't allow liveaboards, but have them nonetheless. 'Why be normal' and 'why be consistent' might as well be the mantras of the Bay Area.
Given the extremely high cost of housing
here, we're doubtful that there are any legal liveaboard berths
available. But there's no harm in calling around to ask or to
get on a waiting list.
I'm the president of Kevin's Quality Marine, and we haul boats. In the December issue, there was a Changes in which the authors described an unhappy experience using our services. They claimed that our truck was late and that they couldn't reach us by phone. It made us sound unprofessional.
I've been a faithful advertiser in Latitude for years, and have been very happy with the results - but I was disappointed that you didn't contact us for our side of this story. If you had, you would have learned that the reason the delivery took so long is that the customer told us the boat was one foot lower then it actually was. As a result, the truck and trailer scheduled for the pickup - which did arrive on time - couldn't have transported their boat at a cost-effective rate. So, as they reported, we used the truck and trailer to haul another boat that wasn't as tall. We immediately arranged for another truck and a lower trailer, but they couldn't get there for eight days.
Furthermore, the customer was calling the wrong number for a week. I know he still thinks he was calling the correct number, but believe me, we have trucks on the road 24/7, 365 days a year, and our office can't be closed for a week. During the interim, we called and left messages on the customer's recording machine. As soon as we were able to reach them, we explained the problem of the boat height and the length of the delay.
I don't want to get into a war with the
customer, but I do want to present our side of the story.
Kevin - We apologize. We should have
presented your point of view also.
I'm new to sailing and was wondering if it's feasible to pick a particular sailing area, fly there and buy a boat, cruise the area for a desired amount of time, and then sell the boat and return home. My definition of 'limited time' would be six months to a couple of years. The cruising areas might be the Pacific Coast of Mexico, the Caribbean, Tahiti, or some other popular cruising destination.
Suppose I flew to Tahiti in October, bought a bought for $30,000, cruised the area until the following May, then sold the boat for $30,000 and flew home. Would transfer and registration costs make this idea cost prohibitive, or are there individuals doing this?
I realize that the process of buying and
selling boats varies in complexity and expense in different places.
Maybe what I am proposing would be unworkable in most or all
areas. Maybe if there were a way to become an international boat
broker it would be worth pursuing. Would becoming a broker reduce
Bob - People do what you're suggesting all the time. They fly to Europe or the Caribbean, buy a boat, cruise there for a couple of years, then sell the boat. Transfer and registration costs are minimal, as long as you're familiar with the rules, which vary from place to place. In any event, you, as a foreigner, shouldn't have to pay any sales tax. Indeed, it's our understanding that if you buy a boat in the European Union on which the VAT has been paid, you can actually get some of it refunded if you take the boat out of the European Union.
Even if you buy a boat on the other side of the world and it never comes close to the States, you can still document it as a U.S. vessel. If you want the boat flagged somewhere more interesting - such as the British Virgins, St. Vincent, Anguilla, or the Cayman Islands - you can do that, too. But it's going to cost a couple of thousand dollars, particularly if you're going to start a corporation to own the boat. Nonetheless, in certain situations, the nationality of its documentation as well as the nature of its ownership - whether it's owned individually or by a corporation - can make a big difference in the bottom line when it comes time to sell.
In the beginning, the various rules in various places can seem complicated. For example, you couldn't do your Tahiti plan because at last word they weren't letting Americans cruise there for more than three months a year. And if the visa wasn't obtained in advance, they were only allowing one month. But if you do a little research, it's often easy to find ways around such problems.
There is no such thing as an 'international yacht broker', just brokers who are licensed in more than one country. It's not going to save you any money to become a broker.
Keep in mind that when you buy a valuable asset in another country, you're more or less speculating in the currency. Sometimes you can make out like a bandit. For example, Americans who bought French boats a year or two ago when the dollar was very strong and are now about to sell them when the dollar is very weak, are making a killing because of the dramatic change in the rate of exchange. In most cases they've made 25% or more of the value of their boat! However, if you were to buy a boat in Europe now, and try to sell it later, if and when the euro drops in value, you could take a significant financial hit.
Lastly, there is no guarantee that if you buy a boat for $30,000 that someone else will pay the same amount six months to two years later. A lot - both good and bad - can happen in that time to change the value of the boat.
Only one thing is for certain: Buying
and keeping a boat in a foreign country is an adventure. Based
on our experience, it's a very enjoyable one.
I want to respond to Lloyd Sellinger of
Newport Beach, who wrote the Good Old Boat, Good Old Crew letter
about wanting to do the TransPac with some older guys on his
Cal 40. How can I contact him?
Dave - By getting his phone number from
the following letter.
Thank you for running my December
letter about entering my Cal 40 in the next TransPac with
a group of senior sailors. I have received great responses from
it. I promise that I have only one more favor to ask. I need
a sponsor or two, and wonder if you have any ideas on the subject.
I plan to contact AARP, Viox, Celebrex, Ben-Gay, Viagra, and
so forth. Do you have any advice? I can be reached at (949) 640-8500.
Lloyd - Our thought on sponsorship is that it would almost cost you less money to do the TransPac than it would to professionally pitch a sponsorship proposal to the brand managers of the major products you've mentioned. And that if you went ahead and pitched them anyway, that you would come away empty handed - except, perhaps, for a couple of sample boxes of Viagra.
If you're serious about doing the TransPac,
we think that you need to be realistic and assume that you'll
almost certainly have to fund it yourself. The only alternative
is if there are crewmembers interested enough to go on a shared
It was with great interest that we noted the photo you took and the several mentions you made of the Gunboat 62 in the January 6 'Lectronic Latitude. Just for your information, that boat had to be Safari - not Tribe - Gunboat 62 hull #2, which is doing charters in the Caribbean. Tribe has been sold, renamed Spirit, and her new owners are sailing her out of St. John in the U.S. Virgins.
Hull #3 is currently in Cape Town undergoing
some interior furniture changes at the builders, and hull #4
is under construction.
Bert - Sorry for the mistake, it was a case of too many boat names and not enough RAM in our brain.
We certainly hope that Tribe and Safari will both join Profligate,
Little Wing, and other cruising cats at the BVI Spring Festival
- which is going to be killer fun - at the end of March. And
perhaps for some additional non-serious races in the good breezes
and flat waters of the Sir Francis Drake Channel. By the way,
Latitude readers should know that Safari, to the
best of our knowledge, is still available for charter for the
Heineken and the BVI Festival. She would be a hoot in either
Here's a quote from 'Lectronic Latitude early this year: "Because it's warmer and therefore thinner, the wind in the Caribbean doesn't seem as strong as on San Francisco Bay." This sounds like a great topic for Max Ebb to delve into.
Fairwinds - warm or cold - all. By the
way, we had a low of 4° here in Puget Sound last week. I
put up with it because I know I'll be back in Mexico next year.
Terry - The issue of whether 25 knots of cold wind has more force than 25 knots of warm wind first fascinated us in the early '80s. So while covering one of the early Pan Am Clipper Cup Series in Honolulu, we put the question to the crew of Exador, a brilliant 40-footer from New Zealand that had kept up with boats much longer than her - at least until a wave the height of her upper spreaders dismasted her off South Point on the Big Island. The Exador crew told us that colder wind had more force, so while they could only carry a certain chute to 18 knots relative to the true wind in New Zealand, they could carry the same sail to 22 knots of true wind on the same point of sail in Hawaii.
It's also true that balls - be they footballs, golf balls, or baseballs - travel further in warm air. And that airplanes have a much easier time taking off in cold air than hot air.
So if Max Ebb and Lee Helm would like
to describe the effect temperature has on the force of the wind,
and explain if force and the speed of the wind are always proportional,
we'd all be a lot smarter.
This is my first letter to a publication, but I was so outraged by the proclamation of the fellow on My Way - "I'll play my stereo as loud and as long as I want in the anchorage, and if others don't like it they should go to another anchorage" - trying to pass himself off as a cruiser.
I will continue to call him My Way, because however unlikely, there may be an evil twin of his plying the waters of the Pacific coast. I believe that we have not only met him, but he unfortunately dogged us down the coast of Mexico. His music was so loud that once during dinner we had to keep our hatches closed for some quiet - and he was half a mile away. At night I had to resort to earplugs! The Evil Twin didn't play music through the typical eight-inch round speakers found on most boats, but through a P.A. system.
As we picked up to leave the anchorage, he danced on his foredeck - apparently celebrating the solitude of the anchorage. We prayed that he would fall in the water and drown.
The most unfortunate thing is that 'Evil Twin' tries to come off as a caring and supportive guy on the local nets. Some cruisers fall for it. Including us - until we met up with him. Lucky for us, we have passed into a new ocean and have left My Way or his Evil Twin behind. Still, it's not far enough behind for us. But we think we know why he's now singlehanding.
Thanks for letting me blow off some steam.
P.S. Bob and I originally hail from the United Kingdom, but the hailing port on our boat reads Oyster Point. That's where we bought her, kept her for two years, and learned to love your gracious magazine.
P.P.S. We've found Cartagena to be one
of the hidden gems of the cruising world. I'm sure the crew of
Profligate had a wonderful time and were charmed by this
Old World City.
Kate - We're sure you didn't really
want him to fall in the water and drown, but we all know what
The story in the January 13th 'Lectronic Latitude about the divers near Cabo freeing a 40-ft female humpback whale completely ensnared in drift nets moved me to tears.
In the report it was said that drift nets are used in order to provide seafood for chain restaurants in the United States. If that is true, then shame on us! I, for one, would be more than happy to boycott any restaurant in the United States that sold seafood that was caught with the help of drift nets.
Has anyone done the research to let the
public know what products and which restaurants are connected
to this horrible practice?
Mike - We're not experts on the subject, so we don't know: 1) if it's true that drift nets are used primarily in order to provide seafood for chain restaurants in the United States; 2) what types of seafood are involved; and 3) what chain restaurants and stores sell seafood caught with drift nets. But we'd like to know, for although we currently eat sashimi at least four times a week - they call us 'Saba San' - we would glady join you in a boycott such as you describe. Can anyone provide us with factual - not emotional - answers to the questions above?
On the hopeful side, just the day before, 'Lectronic Latitude published an excerpt of an article in the Western Outdoors News in which it was reported that Ramón Corral Ávila, Mexico's new chief of fisheries, said that the following would be banned:
· drift gill nets in all Mexican waters
· longlines inside 50 miles by boats longer than 27 feet
· foreign factory ships in Mexican waters
· 'shark research' boats, from taking dorado, billfish, and other gamefish as 'bycatch' inside 50 miles
These would all be tremendous steps
forward, if they are indeed taken and enforced. Let's hope that
In response to the letter by Dave King of Saraband:
Max Ebb can't tell a prismatic coefficient from a planimeter, so he, like, leaves it to me to clean up his mess after he goes and starts a religious war with the WetSn. . . er, I mean the Westsail people. Funny, 'cause I thought that discussion ended up favorable to full keels, by the time I was done with the math.
For sure, too much education can be a problem. But like, too little can be worse. Take David King's alleged "benefits of a higher prismatic coefficient." He says in his letter that "the lower the number, the slower the theoretical hull speed. Conversely, the higher the number, the faster the theoretical hull speed."
BZZZZZZT. Wrong. The optimum prismatic for slower speeds is lower, and the optimum prismatic for faster speeds is higher (for boats of similar length). That's not the same thing. The "theoretical hull speed," as the term is usually applied, is still the speed of a deep water wave having a length equal to the boat's waterline length. This is the square root of g L over 2 pi, which works out to 1.3407 L for L in feet and speed in knots. On Mars, if they find enough water to sail in, it would be 0.8265L.
I like boats with higher prismatics, too. But just because a boat has a higher prismatic doesn't make it fast - I mean, look at the chart in Skene's (Skene's Elements of Yacht Design, p. 122). The quantity plotted is resistance per ton. Get it? Resistance per ton. So even if you have the right prismatic for pushing the top end of hull speed (as in, like, running with the trades), multiply by the weight of your crab-crusher and you're still slow compared to a lighter boat, even one with a hull shape optimized for the slower speeds of upwind sailing.
But like, there's no reason to start a
urinary Olympiad about whose is faster. The PHRF committee does
a pretty good job of that. The Westsail isn't on this year's
list, but it used to be anywhere from 216 to 228. Prob'ly 216
is the number for the one with the feathering propeller. Same
rating as a Ranger 23. Now, where are all those more modern 32-ft
boats that a Westsail is supposed to be able to beat?
I just read your Sightings item about bird
migrations, and want to recommend an incredible movie - Winged
Migration. Rather than have a typical plot, the movie focuses
on bird migrations. It shows one bird, for example, that migrates
from the North Pole to the South Pole each year, some 25,000
miles. Talk about a commute! The credits at the end of the movie
list approximately 80 photographers. The DVD version has a segment
detailing how the movie was made. This is a movie that seems
to pass in a micro second.
Bill - The natural world is amazing.
While in St. Barth at the beginning of the year, we read about
the white-tailed tropicbird. Except for a short breeding period
at maturity, these birds spend their entire lives at sea, sleeping
on the waves and eating squid and small fish. After coming back
to breed on land, the female lays a single light-beige egg with
tiny red spots. It used to be that the biggest predators of these
eggs - as well as turtle eggs - were gourmets. But education
has mostly stopped that. Now the biggest predator is rats, which
the island is trying to keep at bay through the use of zoning
In response to a question asked in 'Lectronic Latitude, I've found that if you lift your dinghy out of the water each evening after the last trip from shore, there are three good things that will happen:
1) You're probably only going to have to clean the bottom once every few months when you lift the dinghy out for a passage.
2) It's much harder for it to be stolen while you're sleeping than if it were in the water.
3) It's less likely to become accidentally untied from your boat.
I just bought a new dinghy, which I ordered
with an unpainted aluminum bottom. It will never get scratched,
it doesn't show the rust stains from constant contact with saltwater,
and with grey Hypalon tubes, doesn't look half bad.
A couple months ago, I sent in a letter regarding rats infesting my boat at a boatyard in the Florida Keys, where I had left her on the hard for six months, beginning in May of 2002.
The letter was not published. Did the boat yard refute my claim? Was it deemed news not fit to print?
I don't recall if I mentioned the name of the yard, but if you contacted them, they may have told you that food had been left onboard. I had to leave the boat on an emergency basis, so I asked the yard to remove the food. They billed me for the removal of the food and I have receipts showing I paid for that work, but they didn't do it.
After we left the boat, the yard placed it touching adjacent mangrove trees, providing rats with an easy highway onto our boat.
There are some very irresponsible yards out there, and cruisers should not be allowed to fall victim to them. This yard disclaimed responsibility for everything - even the outboard that was stolen from my boat's stern while my boat was in their care on the hard. The outboard was taken only one day before my return, and only the boatyard people knew when I was returning. A coincidence?
Please reconsider at least letting cruisers know that rodents, if left undisturbed on a boat, can do a great amount of damage. The repair bill was in excess of $35,000.
Having read Latitude for many years,
I'm confident it's primarily a magazine to help and protect boatowners,
William - We don't recall receiving such a letter. Had we received it, we certainly would have run the part about the damage that rats can cause. After all, all cruisers going to the tropics need to be aware how devastating rats can be.
As for the responsibility of the boatyard, that's a much grayer area. For one thing, asking a boatyard to remove food from your boat strikes us as being as risky as asking a cleaning lady to rebuild your diesel. It's not exactly their area of expertise.
As for the outboard being stolen and
the boat being placed in a spot where rats could easily climb
aboard, those seem like issues between your insurance company
- or a lawyer if you don't carry insurance - and the boatyard.
As both a San Francisco Bay sailor and sea kayaker, I read with great interest the Sightings piece last month on the kayak rescue outside the Gate in December. The author's appreciation of the Coasties and the good Samaritan boat Felicity is certainly warranted, and I'm glad Dr. Gale and his daughter are safe. Other than to tip the hat to the rescuers, I can't figure out why you featured this story in Sightings - other than because you mistakenly think it fits into your negative attitude towards kayakers as little more than obstacles for you to avoid in your fancy catamaran. I can't recall your last article entitled Idiot Sailor Gets Rescued - which happens at least once a week.
In this case, the author quickly identifies himself as a sailor who just happens to own a couple kayaks. His decision-making can be described as nothing short of idiotic. I find it hard to believe that he was a practicing physician for his professional life, and owns a 31-ft sailboat. Talk about scary! From now on, I'm certainly going to make sure I give a wide berth to any Cheoy Lees that I see on the Bay.
While in my kayak, I also recently rescued a sailor and his two sons who had launched their kayaks from a sailboat off Sausalito, and naively headed towards Yellow Bluff on a 5.6 knot ebb.
At the end of his article, the author lists his lessons - but doesn't include the most obvious. If you want to try sea kayaking, learn how in a safe place from experienced people.
Unfortunately, not all sailors and powerboaters
have the same respect for the challenge of sea kayaking, and
so they end up in situations that wrongfully give the sport a
bad name. If done right, sea kayaking is a safe and exhilarating
way to experience the magic of San Francisco Bay. Drop the negative
attitude and share the Bay - there's plenty of room for all of
Greg - If you want to see a person with a negative attitude and some inaccurate assumptions about others, step before a mirror. It took guts for the gentleman to voluntarily report on an incident in which he and his daughter were nearly killed because of the mistakes he made. Wasn't the reason he swallowed his pride to report the story not crystal clear to you? He did it in the hope of preventing the deaths of other kayakers.
It's not easy for people to write articles like his because it's embarrassing, and because invariably there is always some idiot - and in this case you seem to fit the bill - eager to dump on them for having made mistakes. The point of the article - and the many similar ones we've run - is not to make fun of the people or whatever sport they enjoy, but to demonstrate (yet again) that even smart people with some experience make foolish decisions. We salute Gale for caring more about the health and welfare of other humans than his own pride.
We need to address some other examples of your ignorance.
· Your suggestion that we never report on sailors doing foolish things or using bad judgement is ridiculous. We do it all the time. Our monthly Coast Watch section by the Coast Guard is basically about just that.
· Latitude has always believed that the Bay and ocean are for everyone, not just sailors. As we've repeatedly stated, we love and respect swimmers, surfers, kayakers, rowers, sailboarders, kite-sailors, fishermen, divers, racers, cruisers - and everybody else who loves the water. These are our water brothers and sisters. We've also repeatedly stated that if we're all just the slightest bit courteous, there's plenty of room for all of us.
Over the years we've been great friends and had wonderful relations with kayakers. A number of times we've come to the rescue of kayakers, but it's worked the other way, too. Just last month Managing Editor John Riise had a dilemma on our photoboat. He needed to get a tow line to a Knarr that was going on the rocks, but couldn't get close enough because the water was too shallow. So who came to the rescue? A kayaker, who was easily able to transfer the tow line. It doesn't matter what activity you're enjoying on the water, everyone comes to the help of everyone else.
· If you were trying to make us feel defensive by calling our catamaran "fancy," it was a mistake. We've had thousands of guests aboard Profligate and nobody has ever accused her of being fancy or luxurious. The appropriate adjective is functional. We've had as many as 145 people aboard her for fund-raisers such as we've done for Special Olympics, Earth First, the Indian school in Zihua, the Tiburon Blvd. Beautification Program, some elementary school in Sausalito, the mentally challenged in Puerto Vallarta, the poor in the mountains above San Blas, and many other groups and causes in several countries. We've raised tens of thousands of dollars doing stuff like this in the past, and we've never taken a penny in boat or crew expenses. And because we love doing events like that, we're going to do a lot more of them in the future.
As you suggest, getting the proper education
and training from a certified school is a great idea. But even
though getting proper training is a great idea for kayakers and
sailors, not everyone does it. Thus the need for articles such
as the one you condemned.
I feel compelled to respond to your January Kayak Rescue item in Sightings. I certainly hope that Mr. Gale's experience and his thought-provoking write-up in your magazine help to demonstrate that kayaking in the Golden Gate and other exposed areas should not be undertaken so casually. Armed with just enough knowledge and experience to get into real trouble, he and his daughter were lucky to be sighted by Felicity, and subsequently rescued by the ever-vigilant Coast Guard. I write the following critique as a longtime sailor and experienced kayaker on San Francisco Bay.
There is an inherent seductive danger to kayaking. With only a nominal investment of time and money, a beginner can have access to a great new environment. Soon they will be gliding along the water, being one with nature. After several uneventful ventures out into the Bay, one feels robust and ready to take the next step. Sooner or later, the many varied elements that make the Bay such a wonderful and dynamic place to cruise will overwhelm the unsuspecting boater.
Like Mr. Gale, I often launch from Horseshoe Cove and paddle out the Gate, often in the company of fellow club members from the Bay Area Sea Kayakers, aka, BASK. Let me describe our typical level of preparedness for these circumstances. We consult the marine weather forecast. We know exactly what the tide and currents are doing. We prescreen who is coming along. We have an acceptable expert-to-novice ratio. We all wear wetsuits and PFDs. Most of us wear helmets. On the water, we do ongoing head counts, and sometimes use the buddy system. Some of us carry handheld VHFs. I know one kayaker that carries swim fins strapped to his back!
Novice kayakers often suffer from delusions of competency. A successful swimming pool Eskimo roll is a far cry from a combat roll in lumpy 55° Bay water. Mr. Gale mentioned the options of swimming to shore or towing his incapacitated daughter behind him. These are exercises that we actually practice, mostly to emphasize the folly in all of it. Safe and experienced kayakers regularly practice their roll and other self-reliant recoveries. Had Mr. Gale's mishap occurred amongst a group of experienced kayakers, it would have been a routine exercise to quickly get them back in their boats. Hence, the security gained by being in a group, or as we call it, a pod, can't be overemphasized.
The great preponderance of inexpensive,
entry level kayaks on the market only speaks to the great appeal
and interest in the sport. These boats serve the novice enthusiasts
well in warm, sheltered waters. But the seductiveness of the
sport that I mentioned earlier is often a factor in the increasing
number of kayak-related incidents and rescues on the Bay. As
sea kayaking becomes more popular, I'm quite concerned about
the perception of the sport by the boating community, including
the Coast Guard. I don't want kayaks to become a nuisance on
the Bay. I also don't want to see more controls on the sport
as a result of poor judgement. PWCs come to mind. And I certainly
don't want to read about preventable mishaps or fatalities on
Ken - Thanks for the excellent letter.
A little bit of experience and knowledge can truly be a dangerous thing - in any sport. The closest we've ever come to killing ourselves and our friends on a sailboat was when we decided that a couple of sails on our brother's Flying Dutchman - a 20-ft, two-person planing dinghy - in the very protected waters of the Oakland Estuary qualified us to take four people - plus a case of beer and a handful of joints - for some high-speed sailing on the Central Bay. That we survived, albeit only with the help of some other boats and the Coast Guard, is remarkable.
We enjoy seeing kayakers having fun
on the Bay, and like you, don't want a single one of them to
get hurt or killed. So if any of you readers are new to kayaking,
don't be a jackass like we were with the Flying Dutchman, and
respect the waters of the Bay and ocean. They can be the source
of tremendous pleasure, but if we're not careful, they can also
be the source of terrible sorrow.
The Norm Goldie of Puerto San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico, described by a disgruntled letter writer in your October issue, is not the Norm Goldie I spent 10 days with in January of 1999. At the time, I was in San Blas aboard the late Vernon Koepsel's Celestial 48 ketch Pacific Star.
Norm spent many of his waking hours helping American cruisers without compensation. He guided them by radio and in person into the tricky river channel, suggested where they could anchor or tie up, helped them with Mexican governmental officials, and made their lives easier. The Koepsels, father and son, paid not a peso to Norm for his services. Norm arranged for a truck with two nurses and a driver to take the Koepsels up into the mountains above San Blas to distribute clothing and food to needy Huichol Indians.
If you ask the good people at Downwind Marine in San Diego, they can tell you about the real Norm Goldie. They store piles of clothing, school and medical supplies and other goodies for the Mexicans and the Huichols, to be delivered by southbound cruising yachts to Norm Goldie at San Blas. Norm distributes the goods to needy people.
How about some balance, at least, instead
of the gripes and lies of a yachtsman who found a reason to dislike
or distrust this philanthropist of San Blas?
Jack - Last month we announced that we'd closed the thread of letters on Norm Goldie, but since yours is positive, and sounds so much like the Goldie of earlier years, we decided to make an exception.
It's absolutely true that for countless years Goldie was an invaluable help to many cruisers, and to our knowledge never asked for any compensation. But in more recent times we've received a torrent of complaints that Goldie was leading cruisers to believe he was acting in some sort of official capacity, imposing himself on cruisers who, thank you very much, didn't want his help, and Goldie had been yelling at and/or snitching on cruisers anchored out in Mantenchen Bay. There are now some bad feelings between many cruisers and Norm. It's a shame. It's also unfortunate, because we think much of it stems from Mexico's ongoing and idiotic clearing procedures.
We also used to raise money so Norm could buy clothes for the poor in the mountains behind San Blas, but his relations with cruisers became so strained that we decided to redirect these resources elsewhere. Our decision was firmed up even more when Norm later blasted cruiser reps in Puerto Vallarta for giving their post-Hurricane Kenna donations to the San Blas Lions Club rather than channeling them through him.
We like to think the best of people,
so we're going to continue to think of Norm Goldie as a guy who
provided a tremendous amount of help to cruisers and the poor
people in and around San Blas for a period of more than two decades
- and we'll overlook the fact that relations have soured some
in the last few years.
You have made it evident that you and some other individuals have decided to slander me. It appears your motivation is to generate an ongoing interest in issues that you have taken a wrongful stand on, using me as the villain. Your cronies are upset regarding my feelings on paperwork requirements. I accuse you of using lies and slander to keep an interest ongoing so you may 'sell' your magazine. You have done this without consideration for me, my family, or my friends. A basic premise of good journalism is to tell the truth - something you've failed to do.
Let's take a look at the issues. You state that San Blas is a 'neat little place'. If so, why did you, several years ago, report that two cruisers were murdered here. I've lived here almost 40 years, and I never heard an official or resident make such a statement. Forgive me if I am ignorant of this fact.
You ask why the government offices here consider Janet and me to be the cruisers' reps. I guess it's because we are the port representatives for the Seven Seas Cruising Association, we're affiliated with the Port Administration of Puerto Vallarta/SCT (asked to do all we can here for the cruisers and visiting fishermen in San Blas), and I have an affiliation with the United States Consulate. I will be very glad to show you our credentials, but only after you apologize.
In passing, many people have seen our credentials - we don't keep them a secret. You should have asked the cruisers first. Almost all cruisers consider us their rep. For example, in the last week we were called by the captains of two vessels who had two separate serious problems. Most cruisers know we are always willing to help them. And many of their problems, I can assure you, have been serious legal ones. I also want to state that we have refused salaries for all we've done for everyone.
Then there's the matter of checking in. If in any port for whatever reason, you are required to do your paperwork - that's how the port captains have asked me to explain it to cruisers. If people don't agree with this, they should go to the port captain's office and tell them - not write about it in a magazine 1,500 miles away. And don't bother me with your feelings regarding this issue, I'm not interested.
On December 17 of last year, the Port Captain told me that all vessels in Mantanchen Bay are in the Port of San Blas, and he expects them to do their paperwork. The statement that the Port Captain and the ship's agent are "in cahoots to screw the cruisers and the Mexican government" is a horrible thing to say and certainly a horrible thing to print. How could you do this? Don't the cruisers know their fees are paid directly to the bank? Their paperwork shows the seal.
With regard to the letter by Dick Frank, first, I did not "yell." What I've been told to tell all yachtsmen and visiting fishermen is if you don't want to do your paperwork, don't come here, because you're not welcome. I have never said that I would report anyone to any government agency. That's an outright lie. As for Frank's statement claiming that my behavior has created a safety hazard, that's a joke. Is there only one weather window per season? Did the "victims of my threats" really have miserable passages north? Does he expect real yachtsmen to believe that? I certainly hope not.
As for the troubled skipper of poor Moonshadow, I'm sorry he can't understand that there are people who genuinely like to help others - especially when there is a language problem. I am more than a bit insulted by his statements, but he is now gone. As the Mexicans say, "ignore negative people, eventually they go away."
I want to state again that Janet and I
get no salary or commissions from anyone. There are many things
I would like to say to you three gentlemen, let it suffice to
say that I truly feel that it is a blessing that all cruisers
do not have your sentiments or lack of judgement. I will not
even consider being interested in anything ever said about the
above situations ever again. I don't have the time or interest.
Captain Norm - First, a few simple corrections. We don't sell Latitude, so your version of our motivation is off the mark. Secondly, it was impossible for us to have slandered you. Slander only refers to the spoken word, while libel only refers to the written word. But we didn't libel you either. This isn't Cuba, which means we are free to report what other people say, and to express our own opinions.
When we once visited San Blas many years ago, there was an abandoned sloop deteriorating in the harbor. We asked several people where the owners had gone. We were told that nobody knew for sure, but there was speculation that they'd gone into the hills to buy pot - the area was and perhaps still is well known for its marijuana - and had come to a bad end. So that's what we reported. We did not report that two cruisers had been murdered in San Blas.
For what it's worth, it's not impossible for there to be murders in "neat little places." Not in this day and age.
We think the crux of the problem that's developed between you and many cruisers is that you seem to fail to see the distinction between being a casual and unofficial rep for some cruisers, and an official rep for all cruisers. You are not the de facto official rep for any cruisers, and unless you're a member of the Mexican bar, probably couldn't officially represent anyone even if they wanted you to.
It's terrific that you and Janet are the port reps for the Seven Seas Cruising Association, but that doesn't give you the right to represent anyone. Similarly, it's nice that the SCT has given you a piece of paper saying that you've been helpful to a lot of mariners and please continue, but they haven't given you the authority to officially represent anyone. Affiliation, assmiliation - don't try to pretend that you have any right to represent the American Consul in an official capacity. It's foolish to intimate anything of the sort. You probably have an "affiliation" with some doctors too, but that doesn't give you the right to perform brain surgery.
Norm, you've mostly been a very nice guy to decades worth of cruisers, but you're not their official rep, and until you can produce a badge or uniform or specific document, we don't believe you officially represent the port captain either. A casual liaison, sure. An official rep, no. But most cruisers are independent, and many of them don't feel the need or have the desire to be represented by you, casually or otherwise. They've already been to many new ports in Mexico, and from the various nets they know where things are and how to do things by themselves in San Blas. If they ask for your help, fine. But if they don't want your help, you should leave them alone and not lead them to believe you act in an official capacity.
As for the suspicion that San Blas port captains and the ship's agent may have been in cahoots to screw cruisers and perhaps the Mexican government, it's been a common suspicion among cruisers for years. It's a natural suspicion, too, as cruisers have understandably wondered why San Blas is the only place in Mexico where they've had to use a ship's agent, and why, as in most other ports, there isn't more than one ship's agent competing for their business.
To say that having to pay fees to banks and having seals would make it impossible for the port captain and the ship's agent to screw cruisers is preposterous. Here's Screwing Cruisers 101: Rather than allowing cruisers to check themselves in as they do everywhere else in Mexico, the port captain makes cruisers use a ship's agent. The ship's agent charges a fee for his unnecessary services. In return for sending him the business that he wouldn't have otherwise gotten, the ship's agent slips the port captain half of his fee. Duh.
We're not saying that this is what has been happening, but we've merely reported the fact that many cruisers suspect this may have been happening. There is a very big difference.
For those trying to figure out who or
what is the source of the problems in San Blas, we think a good
question is why haven't there been San Blas-like problems elsewhere
in Mexico? For if there were similar problems all over Mexico,
our suspicions would fall on cruisers being the cause. But when
they mostly only happen in San Blas, you can't help but think
the problem lies there.
I'm responding to Mike Morehouse, who has been seeking information on Mariner 50s such as the one he owns. We have one on our gangway. Unfortunately, nobody had been around her for 10 years, so she's a disaster. But while reading Passagemaker magazine, I saw an ad showing a photo of what looks like a Mariner 50. They now call her a Mandarin 52, and it looks as though it's an update of the original design. Their Web site is www.mandarin52.com, and they have a demo boat in the Los Angeles area. I hope this helps.
P.S. I love Latitude - even though
I have, in my old age, converted to a trawler.
John - Thanks for the help and the nice
words. We're sure you solved the mystery, as the Mandarin 52
Web site says the design is "evolved from an original 1979
Blaine Seeley design."
Your recent picture of Honolulu's Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in 'Lectronic Latitude does not do justice to how bad things are here. I know that sounds hard to believe, but here are some details:
Seventy slips from F dock were slated to be replaced. An RFP was written and bids were accepted. The accepted (low) bidder was $108,000 over the $750,000 budget. Certain items were removed from the contract: DLNR workers will perform the demolition instead of the contractor, cheaper materials will be used, dock boxes will be eliminated, etc. Unfortunately, the losing contractors balked at having the RFP changed after the fact, so the whole contract was rebid. As of November, the bids were still out or under review. The F dock is being dismantled, slowly, but to date there is no contractor to install the new ones.
Meanwhile, 17 piers from the 700 row are in such a state of decay that engineers think that they are unsafe to use. Some might collapse with less than their rated capacity. The pretensioned steel wires that support the concrete were not waterproofed - enough? properly? after 30 years, who knows? - and corrosion has set in. This is not a new problem. Three years ago, several piers were 'patched' as an experiment. More are failing. As of last year, there is no money in the budget for repairs. Governor Lingle has pledged more money in the state budget for repairs, and the budget process is going on right now. We can only hope and pray.
Transients can no longer be accommodated at Ala Wai. They've been kicked out in order to place the permanent berthers in the 800 row while F dock and the 700 row undergo repairs (again, when?). Boaters are scrambling and scrounging for space. It will only get worse as the summer cruising and racing - West Marine Pacific Cup, the Vic-Maui Race, the Singlehanded TransPac - season get going in a few months.
None of this is new, of course. Even the Department of Land & Natural Resources Division of Boating (DLNR-DOB) admits the problem. In their 2001 tri-annual report, DLNR-DOB stated that there was $250 million in needed maintenance and repairs. Contrast this to the annual revenue of the closed 'special fund', i.e. no outside funding. It generated and spent about $10 million in 2001. There were a few fee increases, which the locals fought. There was even a study to investigate privatization of Ala Wai. No more current data was available on the DLNR Web site. There's not a lot of new information since Gov. Lingle took office, but that's probably just an effect of the regime change, not anything deliberate.
So what's the realistic expectation here? Not much, at least in the short term. Given Hawaii's billion dollar tourism industry, small boat harbors are just chump change. We can always hope for some crumbs and the occasional crisis. You could make the case that a vibrant, local, recreational boating community requires the support of yards, mechanics, lofts and chandlers, which would provide good paying, skilled jobs for many Hawaiians. But I just don't see the political will or the local interest in supporting such a community. Sorry about that.
It's an across-the-board problem: Surfing
schools are competing with sailboards, wave riders, kayakers,
snorkelers, and sunbathers for every inch of beach space, forcing
DLNR to regulate the industry for the first time. Everyone is
trying to grab the scarce resources; things are getting a little
testy out here. Meanwhile, plan to keep moving and expect some
of the 'other' Aloha spirit. I'd prefer to remain anonymous for
fear of reprisals.
Berthless - As terrible as things are in the Ala Wai now, can you imagine how bad they would be if the private Ko 'Olina Marina hadn't opened down by Barber's Point?
MAUI BOATING STINKS!
I commend Latitude for writing an article on the deterioration of the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu. It's about time that the public and the boating community understands the poor condition of the state-run recreational boat marinas in Hawaii.
I live on Maui, where I own a Formosa 46 ketch. I'm also on a 20-year waiting list for a slip in the state's disgraceful harbors. I do not have another $45,000-$150,000 or more to buy a slip. If I did, I could use a loophole in the system to buy a slip - even though it's state property. It's possible to do this by starting a corporation that owns your boat, then buying the slip in the name of the corporation. Because of this, pretty soon there won't be any slips for real pleasure boat owners.
We have to keep our boat out on a mooring. Last November another boat, with too much chain, hit ours, causing $6,000-$10,000 worth of damage.
Right now our boat is in Maalaea Harbor waiting for repairs, which probably won't get started until March. But even in the harbor our boat is being damaged, thanks to the poor condition of the harbor. The surge is constant in Maalaea, and our boat has sustained damage to the bowsprit and Samson post. Because there are no slips, we have to climb off the bowsprit onto the platform they provide. Some 'slips' don't even have platforms.
Many of the boats in Maalaea never leave their slips. One of the harbor rules is that every boat has to go out every 90 days. When the Harbormaster tries to enforce it, the owners always say he wasn't around on the weekend they went out. I know for a fact that many of the boats aren't capable of moving under their own power and should be considered derelict.
We're also working to get the liveaboard policy changed, because starting on January 1 of this year, anyone caught sleeping on their boat is subject to being ticketed. Why, we wonder, should that be? If someone complies with all the many environmental regulations, what business is it of the government if somebody sleeps aboard?
There is no usable pumpout station in Maalaea. There is one in Lahaina, but you need a key to use it. As a result, everyone gets to swim in a sewer.
Our boat is too big to haul out on Maui, so we have to either go to Honolulu or the Big Island.
If you ask me, we need to privatize the marinas of Hawaii and bring in people who know how to properly manage and maintain private marinas. Maui is supposed to be a world-class place to visit, but you sure won't have many visiting mariners tell you that.
A bunch of us are trying to start a mariner's
coalition here, and we're open to suggestions from everyone.
One of the things we want to find out is where all the money
brought in by the tour boats goes. It sure doesn't seem to be
put back into marine facilities. In addition to starting to ask
questions, we're contacting our senators and the governor, and
starting to attend meetings. A handful of us are trying to make
a difference for the boating community in Hawaii, so maybe one
day there will be a difference. Mahalo.
Pam - Based on the poor condition of the recreational harbors in Hawaii over the last 25 years, and the fact that many of the slips are occupied by boats that can't or don't ever go out of the harbor, we agree that the recreational boat harbors in Hawaii ought to be privatized.
We further believe that a certain percentage of boats in the marinas, perhaps 15%, should be given status as legal liveaboards - provided that they are actually used as boats a significant amount of the time. For us, that would be a minimum of four hours 20 times a year. If the Harbormaster couldn't develop a system to keep track of which liveaboard boats go out when and for how long, he/she is in way over his/her head.
We encourage you and other mariners
interested in recreational mariner issues to attend meetings,
ask questions - particularly about where the money goes - write
letters to the local press, and make demands of lawmakers. One
of the reasons the marinas in Hawaii are in such terrible shape
is that mariners haven't demanded better. Good luck.
I would love to be considered to be an
'expenses sharing' crewmember for the Ha-Ha this fall. How does
that work? I own a Catalina 34 and am considering taking my own
boat, but would really prefer to do it on another boat with someone
who has already done it before.
John - If you're talking about being a shared expenses crewmember aboard Profligate, we don't even start thinking about that until the Ha-Ha, Inc. folks officially announce the event on May 1. As the years go on there are generally fewer spots available, as we give priority to those who have done it with us before.
Nonetheless, going with someone who's
done it before on their boat is not a bad idea. If it doesn't
work out on Profligate, there
are often many other skippers looking for experienced sailors
What are the dates of this year's Baja
Ha-Ha from San Diego to Cabo? My wife and I are interested in
going along as crew. What's the best method to find a boat looking
Bob - This year's Ha-Ha will start on Monday, October 25, with the West Marine Kick-Off Party the day before.
The best method to try to find berths is to sign up for the Spring Crew List, the forms for which appeared in a feature article last month, and again this month in Sightings. Then, attend the Spring Crew List Party at the Golden Gate YC on April 7. There's also the fall Crew List and Crew List Party for folks planning to cruise in the winter, but by that time many Ha-Ha crews have been set. Important dates and info will also be posted at www.baja-haha.com.
If you want to stand out from the crowd,
take out a Classy Classified expressing
your interest. Good luck!
I'm interested in learning about the formula
used to adjust the finish times for boats in the Baja Ha-Ha that
use their motors. The notice of rally indicates a time deduction
based on a formula adjusted for boat speed. Will you assist me
by directing me to the person who could provide that formula?
Ken - The Ha-Ha formula is based on
the Ensenada Race formula - engine time x .40 x the square root
of the waterline - except that an additional factor is introduced
to take into account the average wind conditions during a given
I just read the disturbing update in the
December 31 'Lectronic Latitude about the continued incarceration of Dawn Wilson
in a Mexican prison. I wish there was something that I could
do. Is there a tourism office, government agency, or anyone at
all we could email about this, letting them know that we are
unwilling to visit Mexico while things of this nature are happening?
I'm thinking that if there was enough outcry from Americans expressing
concern about visiting Mexico, Dawn's situation might change.
We obviously can't look to our own government for help, as disturbing
as this is, so maybe we need to take things into our own hands.
Cancelling the Ha-Ha might be a good start.
Daren - It's a terrible situation, but there have already been email campaigns and much criticism of Mexico in mainstream television and print in the United States. Still, the judges in Mexico haven't budged.
We'd immediately cancel the Ha-Ha if we thought it would have an impact, but we don't think it would. After all, Dawn is in Ensenada, and the Ha-Ha doesn't stop anywhere near there. Besides, the 450 or so folks in the Ha-Ha represent just a drop in the ocean of tourists who visit Baja, let alone all of Mexico, each day.
For now, the best thing people who want
to help can do is log onto www.dawnwilson.com
for updates. It has a section called 'what you can do'.
I've been reading Latitude since something like the second or third issue. We went sailing on Warren Stryker's Bounty II - recently featured in 'Lectronic Latitude - back in the early '70s when he was selling rides on San Francisco Bay for $10. I found a copy of his original flyer the other day, and it brought back wonderful memories.
Eighteen months ago we sold our third and final sailboat, the Freedom 36 Magic Voyageur, but miss her terribly. But due to health and finances, I fear our sailing days are done.
I was going to write a long and bittersweet letter about our sailing days on the Bay and Delta, but have narrowed it down to a few words that, with some thought, a reader can fill in what's missing:
The Sailor's Life:
Stage 1: Sailboat
Stage 2: Motorboat
Stage 3: Motorhome
Stage 4: Nursing Home
We have a few friends that are in Stage
3, but are still contemplating Stage 2.
Denis - We'll email a copy of your letter
to Warren, as we're sure he'll get a kick out of it.
I've died just about every time I've opened up 'Lectronic Latitude to read another of your episodes from St. Barth. As you know, I had planned to take my Leopard 47 catamaran Max Z Cat from Marsh Harbour in the Abacos to join Profligate on the hook in St. Barth for New Year's. Alas, business commitments interfered. Then we got the most snow we've ever gotten around here during Christmas.
My boat still is in Marsh Harbour and will probably stay there for the next two months. Please leave some rum and bare breasts for me. You're a lucky man, and I hope to catch up with you someday.
P.S. I will be bringing my boat to St.
Barth next year for sure. Do you have any plans on returning
Glenn - It's a shame you couldn't make it, for as you can read in our article later in this magazine, it might as well have been a convention of nearly-new cats owned by folks from the West Coast. Nonetheless, we know all about business commitments interfering. Our major goal, to be able to spend six straight weeks on Profligate, went down in flames after three weeks. But we're indeed extremely lucky, for as soon as this issue is over, we're headed back to the boat in St. Barth for three more weeks. After 25 years of hard labor, we've convinced ourselves that we deserve it.
As for taking Profligate
5,000 miles back to California later this spring, and then another
5,000 miles back to St. Barth at the end of this year, that would
be complete lunacy. But indicative of how much fun we've been
having in the Caribbean, we asked Doña de Mallorca how
she felt about doing 10,000 more miles of deliveries. "I
love being on Profligate on the ocean, and I love St.
Barth, so I'd be happy to do it," she said. Nonetheless,
we're looking into other options, such as trading time on our
cat in Mexico for time on another cat in the Caribbean. But for
right now, we're into enjoying the moment.
Stop it, you're killing us with your 'Lectronic Latitude dispatches from aboard Profligate in St. Barth, French West Indies!
This weekend Tami and I are doing the first cruise with the Oakland YC and the San Pablo Bay YC in beautiful San Pablo Bay. We hope to get over there in between rain storms. It's so cold we'll probably run the generator while we are crossing the Bay so we can plug in our electric space heater. As for the Bay water, it's chocolate brown and full of tree stumps and other interesting debris that's common during the winter runoff. Hopefully the leaky port in the back of Tamara Lee Ann, our Celestial 48, won't let in too much water. But I'm not too worried, because the leak is right over Tami's side of the berth, not mine.
As I said, those reports of yours from
the Caribbean are killing us, as we have the best memories of
St. Barth! It was our very first destination on our very first
charter trip some 11.5 years ago. We chartered a Beneteau 38
from The Moorings on St. Martin. I remember paying $40 to have
a small load of laundry done, and eating burgers at Le Select.
Our daughter Taylor Ann was born nine months later.
Doug - While the number of villas continues to grow on St. Barth - at a cost of $1 million per bedroom when there's a view - life on the beaches and on the hook continues to be pretty much as wonderful as it was 12 years ago. The water is warm and clear, there are fish and turtles all about, the guys in the port captain's office are very friendly, and the anchoring fee is only a couple of bucks a night - except at Shell Beach, Colombie, and Grand Saline, where it's free.
Water and cheap labor have always been in short supply on the island, so getting laundry done has always been very expensive. No wonder people don't wear very much clothing.
The other night we were treated to drinks at Le Select by Marius Stackelborough, who has been the proprietor for more than 50 years. Although he's now 80 years old, he looks as though he's 50. His mind is as sharp as a tack, and he always seems pleasantly bemused.
If you were at Le Select 11 years ago, rest assured that other than the outside patio having been paved, the famous cheeseburgers, the drinks, the 'ti punch and, most importantly, the unique ambience, all remain the same. For example, after about a dozen of us had been sitting around drinking and talking for about an hour, a trim and attractive French mother excused herself and got up to leave. Steve, a hilarious Brit who has lived on the island for years, couldn't help but take notice of her nipples, which were prominent behind the thin fabric of her blouse.
"Are you cold or just happy to see me?" he asked with a laugh.
Looking down at her chest, and with everyone at the table watching, the woman was flustered. But only for a second.
"They're always like that," she said proudly. And swinging her hips, she walked out the gate with her young daughter.
That kind of saucy repartee is normal
at Le Select and on St. Barth. Try that in the ultra-uptight
Bay Area, and you'll be browbeaten by the goons of the PC Police.
Vive la France!
There was a letter on page 50 of the November issue which put the emphasis on roller furling sails unfurling being the cause of, or contributing to, the breakup of Marina de La Paz during Hurricane Marty last fall. That claim is without merit.
The initial breakup of Marina de La Paz
was caused by waves coming through the most northern dock. The
'floating wave baffle' that was supposed to protect that part
of the dock had been severely damaged in Hurricane Ignacio three
weeks before, and had not been repaired. About 30 feet was ripped
away during the initial north wind, which allowed the full fetch
of the northerly seas to enter the marina.
Bill - We weren't there during Hurricane Marty, but it's our understanding that not having a proper breakwater was the main cause for Marina de La Paz coming apart. However, we don't want anyone to get the idea that it's all right to leave furled sails on unattended boats during hurricane season. Most sailing experts consider it somewhere between irresponsiblity and gross negligence. Many marinas in hurricane zones prohibit it.
NEW CLASSY CLASSIFIED SECTION
Thank you for your help in finding my old
friend Nick Ratto. After I put in a Classy
Classified to locate him, a friend called me from the Bay
Area, and I was able to get his number and talk to him. Thank
you so much. I think anyone would be happy to pay a nominal fee
to locate someone. I've always been a Latitude reader
and will continue to be one.
Readers - We get so many requests from people asking for help in locating other people that there is no way we can begin to fill them. So we've created a special section in Classy Classifieds for this purpose called Trying to Locate, with a special low rate of $10 for up to 20 words. Using this method, we think that sooner or later you can locate just about anyone in the world of sailing.
THE FLOORBOARDS WERE A PAIN, SO I DID WITHOUT
Dave Kendig asked where to stow the dinghy on a 30-foot boat. For me it was a no-brainer. I have an 8.5-ft. Avon Redcrest, and used it on my Catalina 30 for 18 years on many trips to Catalina, the Channel Islands, and San Diego. Most of the time when I had a distance to travel, it traveled with me, deflated in its bag. I decided that the floorboards were too heavy and a pain, so I did without. At other times, when I was in a hurry to get underway, I just deflated the dinghy and stowed it behind the mast.
Now I have a Cat 34 MkII and my old friend
Lil Luff still travels in its bag - even though I have
more foredeck room. It takes less than five minutes to pump her
up - especially when I have a beer waiting for me to finish. I
paid a little more for the Avon, but after all these years its
still a great dinghy.
In the January issue, Dave Kendig asked for information on how best to stow a dinghy on a small boat. I've never found a practical way to store a dinghy with hard floorboards anywhere other than belowdecks on a small boat. Unfortunately, it's then virtually impossible to put the dinghy floorboards in while on the boat.
With my Fantasia 35, my solution has been to sell that type of dinghy. I now stow a 9-foot Avon with an inflatable floor, and a 6-ft Zodiac roll-up belowdecks. I can inflate and launch both of them from the boat. Getting the lightweight Zodiac ready for use is easy and only takes minutes, making it handy for when I want to pick up a buoy quickly or row out a stern anchor. The Avon is heavier and takes more time to inflate or stow, but it handles just as well as one with hard floorboards.
On occasion, I carry an inflated dinghy
on the foredeck, but as Kendig notes, it's inconvenient. I have
heavy-duty davits, but use them mostly to prevent dinghy theft
or for short sails in protected waters.
We've seen both ends of the spectrum of the weather debate that was ongoing in the Letters section last year, and would like to make a few observations.
In early January of '99, we were hunkered down at Punta Chivato waiting for a 30+ knot northerly to blow out. Our boat at the time was the Newport 30 Bahala Na, with only a VHF radio for electronics. Punta Chivato then was remote enough that the only one you could reach by radio was another boat in the anchorage. But we were the only boat there at the time.
Alone and without a weather report, we used the 'look at the sky' weather forecasting technique. After three days, we awoke to see dead flat seas without a whisper of wind. We immediately raised anchor and took off motoring south for San Juanico. Three hours later, our Newport 30 was doing 9.3 knots downwind under jib alone, with the apparent wind consistently over 40 knots. Of course we dealt with it.
As Bruce Willis once said, "Yippie Ki Yay M-----F-----." But would we have been out there if we had known the Northerly was going to kick back up with a vengeance? Our answer is no, and the reason is that when you evaluate the risks of certain situations, prudence often dictates the answer. In this case, we were sailing in what is basically a Bay sailboat, with only two of us aboard, on an extended stretch of coast with no safe haven. And in that area of the Sea of Cortez one must be totally self-sufficient, since there is no nearby cruiser community or outside assistance that might provide help. Any significant emergency - rigging or steering failure, or man overboard come to mind - would be much more difficult to resolve than if we had been on Banderas Bay or at the islands outside of La Paz.
Now shifting in time and place, in March of '02, when leaving Chemela south of Puerto Vallarta, we were hailed by a boat at anchor that requested a wind and sea report, which we provided. In passing, the other boat mentioned that they and a couple others had been waiting for a period of time for a "favorable weather window" to round Cabo Corrientes. It turned out that during the time they were waiting, we had sailed from P.V., around Cabo Corrientes to Ipala, back to P.V., then down to Chemela, and were then on our way back to P.V. We did see winds up to 25 knots while passing Corrientes, but now we were sailing on Air Ops, our 46-ft Amel Maramu bluewater ketch, not our Newport 30. We also had a weatherfax and HF radio so we could check for exceptionally bad conditions. Furthermore, this was in an area with lots of other cruisers around, several well-protected anchorages along the way, and a Mexican Navy presence if things really got dire. So our criteria for what were acceptable conditions were entirely different from that day on Bahala Na.
This second story is not meant to be critical of the other sailors, but rather to make the point that each one of us has an experience level, boat and equipment capability, and our own comfort level related to risk-taking. All of these determine how we meet the challenges of sailing while providing for the comfort and safety of ourselves and our crew. It seems pointless to me to criticize others whose experience and comfort level do not equate to ours.
In regard to weather information, if some cruisers feel the need to avidly follow the various weather nets, so be it - with the caveat that hopefully they use those forecasts only as sources of information and apply their own critical thinking to the situation. And while meaning no disrespect to Ernie Copp, who had to approach cruising with little more than good sailing skills, a smile, and faith in his own immortality - since many of the tools that are now available were not available then - I propose that going to the "School of Blind Luck" is a poor approach when there are alternatives. Dealing with the rigors and very real dangers of offshore sailing is a personal matter, and to advocate doing so in the same manner as those who were out there years ago and had to do by necessity, seems pointless. Sailing is never carefree unless one has reached their own comfort level.
In the end, the joy of cruising is in great
part meeting and getting to know the others who are willing to
take in the same challenges, and show the same adventurous spirit.
But it is a varied community, and unless another sailor endangers
you or your crew, uncritical tolerance of their approach seems
central to the spirit of cruising.
Dave and Mary - You make lots of good points - to which we'd like to add two comments.
First, if people are too timid to go out in 25-knot winds and rough seas, they are forever going to remain ocean novices in fear of even moderate conditions. It's not going to be a pretty picture when they get nailed by much worse conditions, which will ultimately happen at some point.
Second, having followed Profligate's progress from Cabo San Lucas to Antigua in the Eastern Caribbean on a daily basis, we've developed a much-increased skepticism about the ability of science to forecast the weather with much accuracy. For one thing, the forecasts were often in conflict. The French forecasts for the Caribbean Sea agreed with the American forecasts about as much as Chirac did with Bush about going to war with Iraq.
Furthermore, even when the forecasts were in general agreement, the reality was often still at odds by a significant amount. For example, when Profligate was a day out of Aruba, we advised crew to set a rhumbline course for Antigua because the forecasts were calling for just 10 knots of wind and four foot seas. "Thanks a lot," they snarled the next day, "it blew 20 to 30 last night with 8- to 10-foot seas - which is some of the worst weather we've had on the whole trip."
The last straw with our ever putting too much reliance on weather reports happened when the cat was 36 hours out of Antigua. With no warning whatsoever, the weather service announced that out-of-season Tropical Storm Odette, with winds that would blow to 55 knots, had formed out of nowhere. Fortunately, Profligate was already hundreds of miles to the east of the eye and out of danger.
Here's our comfort level for the weather: No matter if at sea or on the hook, always assume there's a chance it could blow 35 knots. And have a rough plan of what to do in the unlikely event that the weather gets even worse than that. That way if you can't get a weather report, or if the weather report is completely wrong once again, you won't get caught with your pants down. Furthermore, the smaller the boat, the more important we think such an outlook is. But that's just our opinion.
Smooth seas and moderate winds from
aft to all!
Thanks for printing my letter on boat partnerships,
but your editorial staff changed our web address to include 'www'.
Not all websites use this, and ours is one of them. The correct
address is: http://addiction30.tripod.com.
We invite all readers to visit our Web site for information on
Newport sailboats, cruising stories, or to contact us about partnerships.
Craig - Thanks for the correction.
I'm writing because there has been a request about the history of the L-36 Papoose, and some back and forth about whether or not she has ever done a TransPac.
I've owned Eventide, a sistership to Papoose, since 1976. In the early '60s, I used to sail my Jr. Clipper Caprice to Catalina's Isthmus Cove, now called Two Harbors, from San Pedro. One afternoon I remember being passed by another sailboat as though we were standing still. It was Papoose. I thought to myself, "If I could ever afford one of those . . ." Eventually, I was able to. Eventide was built in '58 for Steve Newmark of the Los Angeles YC, and early the next year did the 1959 Buenos Aires to Rio Race. She was later sold to Sig Bardson, and later ended up in the Bay Area around 1970.
I have a photocopy of an undated picture from Sea magazine with Papoose, some other L-36s and some Kettenbergs starting a Santa Barbara Island Race way back when. If one wanted to trace the racing history of Papoose and other L-36s, the archives of Sea would be the best place.
L-36s get around. Hull #40, Eros, which was later named Gambit before being renamed Eros again, is now on her way to San Diego, all fixed up and ready to go. The present owners picked her up from another couple who completed a circumnavigation on her in the early '90s.
A year ago I sent a letter to Latitude nominating the L-36 - which you continue to erroneously refer to as a Lapworth 36 - and the Cal 40 as ideal candidates to be Boats of the Month. You did feature the Cal 40 as a BOM, probably because of the one design class in the TransPac. As you know, since then John Hamilton, who has #7 - actually hull of #53 - has made a similar nomination for Olé. It would be nice if they made it as a BOM this year, because we're not getting any younger, and because it's the 50th anniversary of the delivery of the first two - Cassandra and Holiday. They came with three windows and 8-hp Fisherman magneto auxiliaries.
I'm planning on organizing a 'semi-centennial'
for the class, somehow in conjunction with a Master Mariners
Regatta, so maybe we could get a one-design class for that event
on Memorial Day. As such, I'd love to hear from as many L-36
owners as possible, as well as former owners and other interested
parties. I can be reached at (925) 254-9467.
Bob - Fiftieth anniversary? Sounds like
BOM material to us.
Being Latitude fans, we heard that Profligate had trouble with a Yanmar SD-31 saildrive in Panama, and that you decided to replace both of them with Yanmar SD-40s. We'd like to know if you had any trouble or if any modifications were necessary to replace them.
You see, we've just become owners of Esprit De Tizza, an eight-year-old Catana 53 catamaran, and found ourselves in a similar situation. The engine survey indicated that the diesels were tired and that the saildrives had a lot of water in them. Although they both worked fine when called on, I elected to replace them because of a clear lack of maintenance by the previous owner, above-average rust and corrosion, our long-term cruising plans, and what seemed like a lack of available parts for the now out-of-production SD-31s.
With our new engines slated to be installed next week, along with the new SD-40 saildrives in place of the SD-31s, we've been getting differing answers from suppliers as to whether you can swap out the 40s for the 31s. Since you've already done this, can you pass along the final word as to whether engine bed modifications are necessary? If so, which ones? With the SD-31 saildrives no longer available, I'm sure our two cats won't be the last facing saildrive replacement, so lots of people will want to know.
By the way, you should know that Latitude
is what motivated us to get back on the water. After the repairs
are completed, we plan to head to the Abacos. Then, this season
or next, we plan to sail to Panama and then up to California.
J.C. - Initially we also got a lot of conflicting answers from Yanmar suppliers as to whether the 40s could be swapped out for the 31s, but in the end it turned out fine. The 40s fit through the same hole in the hull as did the 31s. As we recall, the only modifications necessary were that the engine had to be raised about 15mm with a shim, and moved aft about 25mm. We've put over 1,000 miles on the combo since, and it's worked fine.
Update: J.C. sent us a follow-up letter in which he reported they couldn't find 56 hp Yanmars on the East Coast, so they installed the new turbo Yanmar 4JH3s, which are rated at 75 hp. Because the turbos put out so much more horsepower, Yanmar advised them to put in the more robust 40-T, for turbo, saildrives rather than the 40s when replacing the 31s. We wish we'd known about the more robust 40-T saildrives, because we would have gotten them also.
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