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LOOKING FOR HELP ON A BOAT PARTNERSHIP
Several friends - and we want to remain friends - and I are considering purchasing a sailboat in partnership. Our primary objective is to reduce the cost and time of ownership, while still getting the size boat we all prefer. We are considering sailboats in the 43 to 50-ft range.
All the members of our group still work full time, so we have between two to five weeks of vacation per year, plus weekends. But we're not all the same age. Some are nearing retirement, while others have 10 to 15 years left in various careers. And we all have other parts of our lives that demand time and money.
We are, however, mindful that a boat partnership could be fraught with problems, and we don't want to put ourselves in danger of losing the friendships we have developed over the years. So I'm trying to find a partnership agreement that is clear and concise, and deals with issues like purchase and eventual sale, maintenance expenses, potential death and divorce issues, and so forth.
Has Latitude ever done an in-depth study and/or story about boat partnerships?
Jim - It's been years since we've done an article on boat partnerships. Maybe we should do another, as they've become increasingly popular for just the reasons you've stated. Some partnerships are short-lived disasters, while others have gone on for decades without a hitch. There seem to be two key ingredients to success: First, that all the partners have owned boats before, so they understand what to expect. Second, the fewer partners you have, the fewer problems you're likely to have.
But the authorities on the subject are
people who are or have been in boat partnerships. We'd love to
hear from you, whether your experience is/was good or bad. It
would also be great if someone were willing to share a copy of
their partnership agreement.
I love your magazine, I read it cover to cover every month, and I appreciate very much the task it must be to just get it done month after month. There is but one little nit I would like to pick.
In the Letters column of the April issue, you answered points raised by the people on Pizazz. In addressing their comment on your handling of the Dawn Wilson story, you mentioned the fact that Latitude is run by a very small staff and "therefore we don't have the staff or resources to do detailed investigative reporting."
This is what I find troubling. It seems to me that by any definition you are a journalist and your magazine regularly reports news in a journalistic format. I would respectfully suggest that in this role you have just as much journalistic responsibility as The New York Times. If you lack the resources or staff to properly verify such an inflammatory story, responsible journalism would simply dictate you not publish it.
John Dean (no, not that one)
John - Thanks for the kind words. There are two kinds of reporting, regular reporting and investigative reporting. The former is the most common, and is the norm in all newspapers including The New York Times.
Here's an example of regular reporting. There's a shooting, and the police capture a subject. The reporter reports that Detective Jones says suspect Smith killed victim Johnson. The reporter also reports that suspect Smith denies killing Johnson. The reporter may include factual evidence that would lend credence to one side or the other, but he/she doesn't report which of the two is telling the truth because he/she doesn't know for sure.
This is what we did in the Wilson case. As you'll remember, the last thing we wrote on the subject was that we couldn't be absolutely sure which side was telling the truth, just that one of our friends - we didn't know which - had obviously been lying to us. We knew this because one friend assured us that Wilson was innocent, while another friend assured us that she was guilty.
In the case of investigative reporting, a reporter would - given enough time and money, such as The New York Times sometimes has - not just report the two sides of the story, but take it upon himself/herself to try to discover who was telling the truth. We think this is unlikely to happen in the Dawn Wilson case for two reasons: First, it's probably not an important enough story, and second, because there seem to be enough credibility issues to suggest that such an effort might be a waste of time and money.
(You might remember that upon Wilson's release, Congressman Filner, who had championed her cause, mentioned something about starting an investigation into how something like that could have happened. One of Wilson's siblings wrote to the Congressman to advise him that it would be a fool's errand. No such investigation has been started.)
We're glad you raised the issue, and
hope we've clarified things.
In a reply to an April Letter, you lamented that Latitude readers failed to give you a 'heads up' on the Dawn Wilson saga. This faithful reader did not fail you, by golly. I sent an email dated November 3, 2003, suggesting that you contact the Gringo Gazette, a Baja newspaper. The Gazette responsibly reported the Dawn Wilson story in their October 15 issue of 2003. A brief contact with this sound source would have been productive.
All are pleased that Dawn is no longer confined. Certainly that includes the city of Ensenada. The negative publicity - jailed gringa and trashed police department - was a blow to their tourist-based economy. Is Ensenada due an apology?
James - You're absolutely correct, you
did provide a heads-up, as did another reader who prefers not
to be named. Regrettably, they were forgotten in the blizzard
of emails we received. We apologize.
Good friends of ours from Block Island visited our island, Anguilla, in the British West Indies, and left several issues of Latitude - which I have much enjoyed. In your February '05 issue, you have a long article on the sailing scene in St. Barth over New Year's, which was great. I do have to say that St. Barth was once a favorite of ours, but then we took a closer look at Anguilla. Since we retired here, you know which island we prefer. All of the accolades you give to St. Barth apply equally to Anguilla, and in our opinion, even more.
The cover of the February 2005 issue features Jim Clark's Frers 156 Hyperion. Do you know what colors she is flying? I can see the Union Jack on the top inside corner, red field, with something in the outside center. I noticed that Jim Clark's other boat, the 295-ft clipper ship Athena, seems to be flying the same colors. Gibraltar and several other British Overseas Territories have a 'red flag' registry, but the 'something' on the colors doesn't look like any of their flags. I'm very curious.
Dan - If you get out the magnifying glass and check the writing on the flag's coat of arms, you'll see it reads, "He hath founded it upon the seas." That means it's the flag of the Cayman Islands. The regular Cayman Islands flag has a blue field, the flag of the United Kingdom in the upper left hand corner, and the coat of arms that includes a turtle and a pineapple above a shield with three stars representing the three Cayman Islands. The Cayman Islands flag for vessels, however, has a red field.
Hyperion was one of scores of mega and giga-yachts at St. Barth this winter that flew the Cayman Islands flag. Others included Clark's other sailing vessel Athena, and Larry Ellison's new Rising Sun, a 450-ft motoryacht. Why do they register their boats in the Cayman Islands? Tax advantages. If you register there - or Gibraltar, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, the British Virgin Islands, Malta, the Turks & Caicos, or many other places - you don't have to worry about the California State Board of Equalization coming after you for sales tax, and there is some insulation from the haywire U.S. legal system.
As for your preferring Anguilla, it's
a wonderful island. But we're still partial to St. Barth, in
part because it's such a magnet for the world's greatest sailing
yachts, and in part because we have so many friends there - such
as our multihull guru D. Randy West, author of the following
I'm sitting here in St. Barth, French West Indies, waiting for the eclipse to start. All the bars are offering free Mount Gay Eclipse Rum T-shirts and Mount Gay 'ti punch. The sky is falling.
Anyway, Julian brought me the latest Latitude, the one where the editor wondered why sailors haven't been developing some kind of sound technology to alert whales to the approach of boats. In fact, the French have been trying to do that for years. It started when the 60-ft catamaran Jet Services hit three whales in the Lorient-Bermuda-Lorient TransAt. After the race, they had whales painted on her hull with crosses on them - like symbols on jet-fighters that indicate 'kills'.
The problem seems to be that the whales are sleeping. You know how slowly you like to wake up? Well, think how it is for a mammal 19 times your size! Talk about being a bit groggy and slow to move.
The French reproduce sounds that the guard whales make when the pod is sleeping, but with the multihulls moving at 30+ knots - well the damn ting ain't got time to stretch, much less wake up and sound. Whales attacking boats is another thing.
As for whales and music, when sailing my cat Skyjack, we found that whales hated classical music but loved Boy George.
D. Randy West
I WAS ASSAULTED WHILE ABOARD IN MEXICO
I live on the other side of the world, but I nearly fell over backwards when I read in the February issue that a man had come aboard a cruising boat in Puerto Madero, Mexico, and tried to rape a female crew on a Hawaii-based cruising boat. Is it that the potential rapists down there all tell each other that Puerto Madero is a great place to catch unsuspecting sailing gringas? Or instead of the attacker being in his 20s or 30s, could he actually have been in his late 40s?
I ask, because when my husband and I stopped at Puerto Madero on our tiny cruising boat in 1981, when I was just 22, I was also assaulted aboard at night. There were no knives that time, thank heavens, and I'm not going to go into the details, but the cops seemed to be pretty uninterested in the whole thing. We left feeling sick.
The only reason I bring this up after all the intervening years is that I actually ran into another woman who was alone at night when her boat was boarded by a guy in Puerto Madero - who was fortunately chased off. At the time of telling, I was amazed at the coincidence and really angry - but felt there was nothing I could do about it. But now, having read the article about yet another woman being attacked, I feel I'd better speak out to warn women who are going to stop at Puerto Madero. The warning is to be careful about where the shrimp boats tie up.
My guy had been aboard a shrimper tied to the same dock when I was assaulted. It really seems that there's something going on - and has been for years - in that particular spot. In no way would I want to cast aspirations against any other part of Mexico, a country we love, or I guess even on the town of Puerto Madero itself.
We stopped in Puerto Madero again in 1995, and as strange as it made me feel, we stayed on the other side of the bay and got on with life. But I kept a wary eye out. I'm just so angry that some sod seems to still be out there assaulting women.
Name And Address Withheld By Request
I was at Angel Island's Ayala Cove the day the powerboater got his ticket, and I witnessed the rangers boarding his boat. The same ranger later came by my boat to ask me for my mooring fee, which I gladly paid. He also informed me that the mooring fees would be going up in May, so I jokingly asked if that meant they were going to put some of the new money back into maintaining the buoys. I didn't get an answer. Since the Ayala Cove anchorage was crowded that day, I just had my bow tied off to a buoy, but also set a stern anchor. I had the rangers confirm that this was all right. They said it was.
About 3 a.m., I was awakened by a loud bump on my hull - and jumped up thinking my anchor had dragged and that I had drifted into another boat. But when I got up on deck, I saw that my boat was fine, but that the two boats that were rafted together in front of me had lost their bow tie and swung around and hit me. My bow and their sterns were still tied to the same buoy, but the buoy they had their bows tied to had failed, allowing them to drift into me. Another boat that was also tied to the same buoy was also free on one end, but had not drifted into anyone yet. Since it was a very still and quiet night, no damage was done to any of the boats, so we just put out more fenders and I had my two new 'friends' raft up with me for the remainder of the night.
Assuming that you are moored correctly to an Ayala Cove buoy, and it fails, who is responsible for the damage that might occur? I have a hard time seeing anyone successfully getting any money from the State of California for damages. Also, what, if any, are the state's plans for upgrading or maintaining the buoys at Angel Island?
Phil - The woman at the Ranger's Office at Angel Island said she didn't know who would be responsible for damage caused if a mooring failed, but said she didn't think it would be the state. We suspect an attorney might think differently - especially since there doesn't seem to be any claim of limited liability on the mooring fee receipts. How easy it might be to collect damages, and whether it would be worth your while, are entirely different questions.
We're not aware of any plans for upgrading
the buoys at Angel Island.
In the past, some of the Angel Island rangers have exhibited more of a military than concierge mentality. And sadly, it's continuing. I'm aware of one incident at the docks at Ayala Cove where a weapon was drawn in an attempt to board a boat. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed, but the result has been an enduring memory of abusive behavior. I think I hear about that incident each time we get into range of the cove.
I think there's a real need for the government staff on the island to get some training in dealing with the public. For when delivered badly, their 'safety & security' mission comes across as arrogance. We don't need Angel Island to become a police state. I would like to know, for example, what the safety and security issue was when the ranger pulled a gun in order to board a boat.
John - When it comes to collecting fees for moorings and slips at Angel Island, we don't think the rangers should have a military demeanor - but neither should they be expected to show the deference of a concierge. Actually, we can't imagine why well-paid, gun-carrying rangers should have the job of collecting fees in the first place. That's a parking lot attendant-like job that can easily be handled by a college-age kid who doesn't need to be packing heat.
Nonetheless, we're curious to know how prevalent problems are between mariners and rangers. If you've had trouble, send us a short email describing the incident. But we don't necessarily assume that the rangers are always the bad guys. When you're dealing with the public, particularly members of the public who may have been drinking, people often bring problems upon themselves.
By the way, to suggest that Angel Island
is even remotely like a police state is ridiculous - and a tremendous
insult to the many people who really have to live each day under
such tyranny. If you want to get an inkling of a real police
state, visit Cuba, where the people aren't allowed to speak,
think or travel freely, and where their every word and action
are monitored by the local snitches.
The cover of the April issue, with an Olson 30 sailing in front of Alcatraz, was beautiful! But what caught my interest is the huge water tower. The prison must have needed a lot of water, so I wonder where it came from?
Gordon - When Alcatraz was operating
as a prison, it did need a lot of water for the prisoner showers
and hot tubs, in addition to the warden's hockey rink. Because
it's a floating island, no deep wells could be drilled down to
the aquifer, and there wasn't enough rain for cisterns to provide
what was needed. So we suspect the water was brought over from
the mainland by boat - or maybe even by plane to the little landing
strip. From there it would have been pumped to the top of the
tower. Neither method could have been cheap. In fact, one of
the reasons for closing the prison is that it had become so expensive
to operate. When the Indians took over in the '60s, the Jefferson
Airplane, the Grateful Dead and other rock groups put on some
fund-raiser concerts so 250 ordinary water hoses could be bought
and strung together from a bib near Fisherman's Wharf to the
island. That lasted about a week, until a strong ebb stretched
the hoses to near the surface and they were torn apart by a container
My name is Dennis, and I'm new to this water stuff. You see, I've been a biker all my life, and asphalt was my home. Then last year I met Kim Garrett in the Santa Barbara Harbor. She's a lifelong sailor, so now we live on her 30-ft sailboat.
Having been on the water for 14 months now, I have to say that some of your boat people are really strange. Of course, I'm sure you look at me and my bro's and see us as long-haired, beer-drinking fighters looking for trouble and wanting to raise a little hell. We'll, you'd have been right sometimes. That said, I've met some really straight-up people on boats. (Sorry about my handwriting . . . a motorcycle wreck three years ago.)
Being new to the water and boats - and because I probably ask too many questions - Kim suggested that I read Latitude. She said that you guys and your mag are well-informed and knew your shit. And I do enjoy reading your magazine, particularly the Letters.
Anyway, you printed that stuff about Alcatraz being a floating island, and backed it up with some stuff from some dude on the Internet. People lie, cheat, steal, and do a lot of other things every fucking day on the Internet, so how could you put your magazine's reputation on the line like that? Alacatraz, 'The Rock', was a notorious prison in the '30s, '40s, and '50s. It's not an island-hopper that might some day take off down the pike and dock somewhere overseas. I've never heard anything about it being an floating island or seen any photos that would prove it. Furthermore, I just don't like computers and the Internet. So why don't you - since you put your people and your asses' on the line - give the mess of us better proof that Alcatraz is a floating island. I know about asphalt and rocks, so help me.
And one other thing. Those 'yaddie' races look and are about as much fun as watching paint dry.
Dennis - You know what happens when the front wheel of your bike gets stuck in a deep rut? You crash. Well, the same thing happens to your mind when you get into a mental rut by being so reality-oriented. That, along with self-absorption, are the main diseases of the 21st century. So allow yourself to be fanciful, let your 'freak flag fly'.
Sure, there are times when you want to be in touch with reality - such as when you're 100 miles from home and there are only a few drops left in your bike's gas tank. But what's the diff if you allow yourself to believe - really believe - that Alcatraz is a floating island? For as Dylan yarbled in the The Times They Are A Changin': " . . . a man without whimsy is a tree without a limb, but the sea's still a roamin' . . ."
Here's another tip that might make your life more interesting - always try to appreciate what you intuitively dislike. The stuff you naturally like - ridin', drinkin' beer, sex, punching a friend in the nose on Saturday night - those are all well and good. But if you limit yourself to your innate likes, you will - unless you like a whole lot more stuff than most people - be cutting yourself off from many of the more exotic pleasures life has to offer.
So the next time you catch yourself belittling or dismissing something - such as 'yaddie racing' - stop and recognize the opportunity for personal growth. Learn more about it, and try to understand why some people are so passionate about it. In the case of 'yaddie racing', for instance, you could borrow Kim's boat and enter the singlehanded race around Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands. We promise that you'd come back a different man.
And no matter what dislike you attempt to love instead of hate, you'll almost always find that the problem wasn't the thing or activity you didn't like, but your lack of appreciation of it. For a long time, for example, we winced at the thought of a raw egg atop our steak tartare. But realizing that more knowledgeable diners relish it, we confronted our ignorance and fear, and ordered two raw eggs on our next raw beef. It tasted horrible and we'll never do it again. But at least we were able to base our dislike on fact and more articulately rip it. So embrace all that you fear, and before long you'll be not just a biker-boater, but a fucking Renaissance Man!
P.S. The only motorcycle accident we've
ever been in happened in the Santa Barbara Yacht Harbor parking
lot 30 years ago. We suppose that we should have worn a helmet.
So be careful out there.
I swear, I got this straight from the Web: "Angel Island tunnel to open May 6. The tunnel from Tiburon to Angel Island, beneath Raccoon Strait, opens May 6 to hikers and bicyclists. Headlights or flashlights will be required. The tunnel is part of a network of tunnels beneath the Bay built by the Army during World War II to connect various military installations. The tunnels were long kept secret, but the Angel Island tunnel was rediscovered last year when a Tiburon resident's dog disappeared into a pile of rubble and was later found on Angel Island. Upon investigation, the rubble was found to be the demolished tunnel entrance. Other parts of the tunnel system will open later this year, although some sections are flooded and will require wading."
While 'Lectronic Latitude states, "Cruisers should only have to check in and out of Mexico - as is the case with foreign boats that visit the United States," the latter is not really true - see the regulations below. While enforcement of this law is spotty, the letter of the law states that port clearing - in and out - is a requirement.
"Foreign-Flag Pleasure Boats
"The master of a foreign-flag or undocumented foreign pleasure boat must report its arrival to U.S. Customs immediately, and must make formal vessel entry (see section that follows on cruising licenses) on a CF 1300 within 48 hours. In the absence of a cruising license, vessels in this category must obtain a permit before proceeding to each subsequent U.S. port.
"Navigation fees will be charged for the formal entry, the permit to proceed, and for the clearance of foreign-flag pleasure boats. It is not necessary for foreign-flag vessels making formal entry and operating under a cruising license to acquire a $25 user fee decal.
"The master of every foreign-flagged vessel arriving in the U.S. and required to make entry must have a complete legible manifest consisting of Customs Forms (CF) 1300 through 1304 and a passenger list.
"Pleasure boats from foreign countries must obtain clearance before leaving a port or place in the U.S. and proceeding to a foreign port or place or for another port or place in the U.S."
From: www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/toolbox/publications/travel/pleasureboats.ctt/pleasureboats.doc. [Westmistress's note: clicking on this link will download an MS Word file.]
Rob - We're aware that "pleasure boats from foreign countries must obtain clearance before leaving a place in the U.S. and proceeding to another place in the United States." We're also aware that it's a crime to remove the warning label from mattresses. One law is enforced about as frequently as the other, which is not at all. Even post-9/11, owners of foreign-flagged cruising boats have told us that most U.S. officials have dismissed them when they tried to comply with the law.
So yes, if clearing in Mexico were just
like clearing in the United States, we'd all be in favor of it.
In a recent issue, you stated that once foreign boats clear into the United States, they don't have to clear betweeen ports. That's not correct. I have been here for several years with a foreign boat, and whenever a foreign vessel moves from one U.S. Customs or Coast Guard jurisdiction to another, the authorities must be notified. Also, there are defined cruising areas - as with U.S. insurance. For example, insurance and cruising permits are set for the Mexican Border to Point Conception, and are controlled by the San Diego and Long Beach authorities.
I would, however, like to add that these officials are the nicest and most friendly bunch of people employed by the United States government.
Phillip J. Seaman
Phillip - As mentioned above, owners
of foreign-flag vessels have told us they almost never comply
with the letter of this law. But maybe we haven't talked to enough
people. So if you are the owner of a foreign-flagged vessel,
could you be kind enough to tell us how often you check in with
U.S. authorities between, say San Diego and San Francisco, and
what your experience has been with regard to this law.
I sailed through San Francisco Bay in the fall and winter of '03-'04 aboard my 1925 Seawanhaka schooner class Seawanhaka. She is one of 16 boats built of this 58-ft LOD class, and is a sistership to Ron Romeo's San Francisco Bay-based Apache. But I think Seawanhaka is the only one still sailing. I have owned her 10 years and put 35,000+ miles beneath her keel. Anyone who is interested should check out www.seawanhaka.com for more on the adventures of this sweet old girl.
The point of my letter is that while on the Bay, I had all new standing rigging installed by South Beach Riggers. But due to problems associated with work by a subcontractor, the rig had to be replaced. I want everyone to know that South Beach Riggers built a new rig and shipped it to New Zealand at their expense. Good on 'em.
Thank you so much for your Classy Classified page warning about scams involving cashiers checks. I was almost taken for $15,000, and would have been were it not for your warning. Please keep warning people, as the scams still work.
The scammer claimed to be the agent of a foreign diplomat, and the amount of the check over the cost of the boat was to be for 'shipping fees'.
Klayton - We're glad you didn't get
burned. We are continuing to run the 'scam warning' in the Classy
I was reading the April 18 'Lectronic Latitude, and was disturbed to catch the item about the huge port that is being proposed for Punta Colnett, which is about 60 miles south of Ensenada on the Pacific Coast of Baja. For recently, a friend of mine told me about an article he'd seen in the Wall Street Journal that describes how the marine ecology in San Diego is being, and has been, dramatically affected by foreign marine life brought here by the sudden influx of ships from China. Apparently Wal Mart was the corporate client that got the blame for this piece.
If what the article says is true, a port at Punta Colnett does not bode well for the marine ecology on the coast of Baja. This is something that appears to be overlooked in the grab for commerce.
Stephanie - The introduction of non-indigenous species has long been a problem, both on land and in the water. For example, the introduction of cats and dogs virtually wiped out the bird populations on certain islands. And if you're following the news about California's Channel Islands, the introduction of pigs 140 years ago has destroyed much of the ecology and archeology of Santa Cruz Island - and adversely affected the mainland, too. It's certainly been happening - and getting worse - in the marine environment, too. According to some sources, San Francisco Bay has been "significantly and permanently altered as a result of the introduction of over 230 non-indigenous marine and brackish water species."
Almost the entire problem with modern ships has to do with the large amounts of ballast water taken on in one part of the world, say, Asia, and pumped out in another part of the world, say, San Francisco Bay. Fortunately, of all the serious ecological problems facing the world, this one seems among the most surmountable. The ballast water can be filtered, treated by light, treated with chemicals, or in some other way made to kill non-indigenous species. The problem hasn't been completely solved, but progress has been made.
By the way, it's silly to look at the
proposed development of a port at Punta Colnett as nothing but
"a grab for commerce." What the shipping companies
- in partnership with retailers such as Wal Mart - are really
doing is satisfying Americans' nearly insatiable demand for low-cost
material goods made from the Far East. After all, nobody is marching
tens of millions of Americans into Wal Mart each day and forcing
them to buy that stuff at gunpoint. We need a bunch of that stuff
made in Asia, and the rest of it we buy because we just want
it. So if you see global trade as the problem, don't blame Wal
Mart, blame yourself and all the rest of us consuming Americans.
To do otherwise would be as hypocritical as Larry David's wife,
who has been known to fly around on a private jet to promote
the conservation of oil.
Each month in your World of Charter section you have features about wonderful destinations, but what can you tell me about long term charters? I'm thinking of several months.
What if, for example, a person wanted to sail the South Pacific for four months, but didn't have the time to sail their own boat there and back. (Does anybody pay to have their boats sailed there and back?)
It seems to me that it would be prohibitively expensive to do a traditional charter where the pricing is calculated by the week. And you probably wouldn't have a boat which served the needs of a long term cruise either.
Jesse - It's not uncommon for boat owners to sail their boats to the South Pacific, enjoy four or five months there, and then have someone else sail the boat back home. Or have the boat shipped home aboard a large ship.
Different charter companies have different policies for long-term charters. If you're looking for a four-month charter, we think most companies would be willing to deal. We have a friend who wanted to do the Caribbean after a TransPac and Ha-Ha with his own boat. He found one charter company that gave him a multi-month deal that was going to cost him less than if he took his own boat, so he and his wife went that route. We have another friend who got a great deal on a month-long charter in Greece in September, which is shoulder season. It would certainly pay to shop around, but expect the results to vary according to the time of year and what kind of season the charter outfits are having. This year they are going gangbusters, at least in the Caribbean.
The South Pacific, however, is always going to be a big problem, because none of the charter companies are set up for bareboat chartering from one country to another, let alone across the breadth of the South Pacific. In fact, we're not aware of any bareboat company that could/would allow a boat to be taken even part way across the South Pacific. As such, the Med and the Caribbean would be your best bets.
Boats designed and equipped for one
or two week charters are not going to be ideal for multi-month
charters. Probably the biggest issues would be a communication
system - such as SSB and/or Ham radio for SailMail or Winlink
- and water and fuel capacity.
When I wrote last fall about the security issues in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala, I mentioned that we planned to sail our 32-ft catamaran Eclipse through the Panama Canal and up to British Columbia. But as with many things in life, things aren't turning out as we'd hoped.
As expected, we had a rough sail east along the coast of Honduras and past the Bay Islands. We hoped for better weather as we headed south to Isla Providencia and then Boca del Toros in northwest Panama, but we didn't get it. After spending Christmas at Careening Cay Marina, we got hammered again as we sailed to the San Blas islands. And there we stayed.
I have now sailed in over 40 countries, and must say that we have found the San Blas Islands to be the world's best cruising ground. We haven't yet cruised the South Pacific, but those who have been to both agree that the San Blas is better. Between Christmas and Easter the weather was great. The anchorages are safe and usually no more than five miles apart. And, there are literally hundreds of little deserted islands surrounded by white sand and covered with coconut palms. The water is 80 degrees and the snorkeling is superb - far superior to Belize, the Bahamas, and the Grenadines. Finally, the local Kuna Indians have a unique culture and are almost untouched by "stupid white men."
We did make it through the Panama Canal, but aboard another boat, and are in the Bay Area for the summer. We still hope to make it to British Columbia for a few weeks, although not on our boat. We've left Eclipse in Panamarina, the only marina east of Colon, and will be returning in the fall.
Having been starved for a Latitude for six months, I grabbed the March issue as soon as I got off the plane. Several items caught my eye:
First, Lee Helm probably knows that the sailing hydrofoil Monitor is still alive and well in the Maritime Museum just north of Norfolk, Virginia, so she should have told readers. By the way, that just has to be the best museum in the world - I could have spent a week there.
Second, before I left England, I had a strange encounter with dolphins. I was sailing Eclipse to Torbay, about 40 miles from my homeport of Plymouth, and having a normal passage. Except, however, for the fact that while drifting along and minding my own business, I was accosted by a pod of maybe 12 bottle-nosed dolphins. I think dolphins like multihulls better than monohulls because they have more than one hull to play with. Their favorite game seems to be to swim as fast as possible diagonally from stern to opposite bow and get as close to the bow as possible. Usually they do it in pairs, one on each side, thus meeting under the bridgedeck. I remember once a dolphin misjudged it completely and hit the bow quite hard. You could see the other dolphins 'laughing' at him.
Anyway, it was different this time, as the dolphins behaved in a way I'd never seen before. It was almost as though they were trying to scratch themselves, as they rubbed their bodies up and down the boat. Sometimes they'd bump the bottom quite hard. They were even getting under the daggerboards and lifting them 18 to 24 inches. We've all heard the stories of killer whales attacking yachts, but this was the first time I'd seen dolphins do something similar. I was very glad the dolphins were 'only' 12 feet long, as there was absolutely nothing I could do about them. They kept it up for about 45 minutes, right up to the entrance to the harbour.
Here's the weird part. The next day, while on my way home and some 20 miles from Torbay, I met up with the same pod - I could tell because one of the dolphins was disfigured - and they did the same thing all over again. There were other yachts around, but they only picked on my cat. It didn't last long this second time, partly, I suspect, because the weather was rougher.
So what was all that about? If anyone has had similar experiences, I'd like to hear about them.
P.S. Do you know how popular Latitude
is? It's the sailing magazine most Caribbean cruisers read -
even if they've never been to California. For example, as we
sailed into the 'Swimming Pool' anchorage in the East Hollandes,
San Blas Islands, a cruiser dinghied over to us and said, "Hello
Richard." I had never met him before, but this New Yorker
- who'd never been to California - had just read my letter
in the December issue.
Richard and Jetti - Thanks for the kind
words. Opinions will vary about the best cruising grounds in
the world, but the San Blas have a lot going for them. And the
snorkeling certainly is superb. We can still vividly recall one
afternoon about 10 years ago when the water there was clearer
than we thought possible, and we were surrounded by countless
brilliantly colored tropical fish. It really was like swimming
in an aquarium.
Excuse me, but I'm confused - not to be mistaken for befuddled. In the Letters column for March, you mention Misty, a Traveller 32 owned by Bob van Blaricom. I looked through the past Letters, and Bob is mentioned several times - dating back to September of 2001 - as owning an Aries 32.
So my question is this: has Bob's Aries 32 metamorphasized into a Traveller 32? And was my Traveller 32 Grace an Aries before I purchased her? Or will she become one in the future? I love her just the way she is.
Robert - We apologize for the error.
Both designs are 32 feet long. We must have had a million things
going through our head when we wrote that.
I'm wondering why more marinas in the Bay Area don't allow boatlifts such as the Hydrohoist system. I just did a quick survey of 15 local marinas, and only three would allow them.
The boatlift I'm talking about is a pontoon-type of lift that hoists your boat - power or sail - out of the water in her slip. The Hydrohoist system is a side-tie system, which means there is no permanent installation and no damage to the dock. The boatlift simply floats in the water, with the boat high and dry, and the lift itself is simply secured to the cleats on the dock.
With your boat high and dry, there is no more need to hire a diver to scrub the bottom, and no more haulouts and bottom painting. I think the problem with this type of system is that it would disrupt the nice constant flow of income for the boatyards. Wouldn't it be better to lift your boat out of the water rather than to pay the boatyards to haul and paint your boat? Are the marinas in cahoots with the boatyards or what?
Another way to protect your boat's bottom is through the use of a plastic tarp that encompasses the boat bottom once the boat is in the slip. The sides of the tarp are held up with 'swim noodles'. I have currently been using one of these for about a year, and it's worked great. I have no growth whatsoever on the bottom of my boat, and all I do is flush the bottom with hose water for a couple of minutes.
Matthew - You're thinking what, that marina owners who don't allow boatlifts get a $100 kickback from the boatyards each time a boat from their marina is hauled? What other conspiracy theories do you subscribe to?
Having done a quick survey of marinas, we haven't been able to find one that doesn't allow boathoists. We know they allow them in marinas in Monterey, Sausalito, Alameda, Newport Beach, Santa Cruz - everywhere we've called. It would have helped if you'd told us where they are not allowed.
Harbormaster Alan Weaver of Marina Village in Alameda told us, "The only reason why they might not be allowed in a marina that I can think of is if the management thought they were unsightly. But when a guy brings a boatlift in, I know he's going to be a long-term tenant. The only condition is that the tenant must bring the slip back to the original condition when he leaves. But I've seen them used for Corsair trimarans and all kinds of other boats."
Bill Geisreiter, who is the Chairman of the Santa Cruz Port District Commission, confirmed that boathoists are allowed in Santa Cruz - with restrictions. They must be used in slips that face north-south, which is the direction of the wind and swell. If beam to the wind, they could present a hazard.
Both Weaver and Geisreiter said they
haven't seen a 'boat bath' system - like the one you apparently
use - in many years. But they seem to recall they required the
use of some kind of chemical to kill the marine life that would
otherwise grow on boat bottoms. "They were very popular
in Stockton in the '70s," remembers Weaver, "and I
remember seeing the dead fish floating to the surface."
If 'boat baths' indeed require the use of chemicals, Weaver said
they wouldn't be allowed at Marina Village, and Geisreiter said
they wouldn't be allowed at Santa Cruz.
In your piece about the dive boat Conception being stolen and run aground near Point Arguello, the author wondered about the name Truth Aquatics - which is the name of the company that owns the boat. I think it comes from the fact that the first of their three boats is named Truth. We have been diving off those boats since the early '80s, and at that time the Truth was their only boat. Then they added the Conception, and finally Vision. My friends and I were totally bummed to see our beloved Conception on the beach. I hope she will be brought back to full working order before long.
A couple of years ago, a bunch of us chartered the boat for a dive weekend. A few months later, one of the couples got married in a rush. You guessed it, nine months after the dive charter on Conception we learned there had been another kind of conception. I'm sure all those great boats hold happy memories for tons of people - but more for some than for others.
Readers - We're told that Conception was pulled off the beach. Now the
question is whether or not she's worth repairing.
I saw the item in 'Lectronic Latitude about the crew of Profligate catching balloons on the ocean miles off the coast of San Diego.
Last June I sailed from the Chesapeake Bay, around the eastern end of Long Island, to Mystic, Connecticut. I expected to see some Coke cans or the proverbial beer cans. Instead, I saw numerous Mylar balloons floating on the ocean 30 to 40 miles offshore. I would guess, because of the prevailing winds, that this might be a bigger problem on the East Coast than the West Coast. Nonetheless, I'm never going to buy another one.
WE REMEMBER ACAPULCO YC, BUT NOT FONDLY
Month after month, you folks at Latitude put out the finest sailing rag in the world. Your comments are intelligent, well researched, and you are not intimidated by anyone. Good on yah! After 49 countries, 83,000 miles, and 13 years of visiting some of the watery parts of the world from the Aleutians to Antarctica, we've seemingly experienced nearly everything. Still, we anxiously await each issue of Latitude. Sometimes they arrive months late, but arrive they do. The delight other cruisers show when we pass them along warms our hearts.
The February issue that we just received had a report in Changes from Crème Brûlée about Acapulco and the Acapulco YC. It brought back memories of our visit in 1993. Heading south from the Sea of Cortez, we needed fuel, and Acapulco was right on the way. Our stop at the Acapulco YC was one of the few times in our years of cruising that we've felt less than welcome. The people there weren't very happy when I filtered their fuel going into our tanks, and charged us a night's mooring fee for using the fuel dock! When I learned of this, I said, "That's OK, we'll spend the night." Well they wouldn't let us do that as there was "no room," so we left to carry on down the coast.
Since our Sceptre 41 is a sailboat, and certainly not in the megayacht category, I'm sure that they figured that we weren't high rollers. Assuming that we wouldn't spend a lot of bucks in the area, we think they wanted to get rid of us as soon as they could. Read, 'cruisers not welcome'. This is so far from the norm that we've experienced since casting off from Seattle, that it sticks in our minds. We don't have time to hold grudges, but can't forget that isolated experience in Acapulco.
By the way, this was not the yacht club doing this, but the marina managers. If this attitude is normal for them toward other cruisers, we'd suggest it be noted in books about Mexico's cruising grounds.
We're heading home in the '06 cylone season.
Lawrence (Larry) & Maxine Bailey
Larry & Maxine - Thanks for the very kind words. Coming from such experienced cruisers makes it even sweeter.
The negative reports on the Acapulco YC have surprised us a little, because they've always treated us well, even when we were on our 39-ft sailboat and they didn't know us from Adam. Of course, we've always operated under the assumption that they've always had a tremendous shortage of slips. But being charged a night's berthing in order to fuel up? That's not right, that's nasty! We wonder if the folks in the office - who have always been very nice, albeit quite formal - knew this was going on. Most of them have been there nearly 40 years.
For what it's worth, the Acapulco YC
- like many yacht clubs outside the United States - is a private
business, not a member-owned yacht club. In any case, in the
following letter the club's general manager insists that cruisers
are always welcom at Acapulco YC.
In the February edition Changes in Latitudes, Bill and Cynthia Noonan of the Half Moon Bay-based Island Packet 380 Crème Brûlée reported they weren't very happy with their experience of trying to get a slip at the Acapulco YC. Unfortunately, we weren't aware of their unhappiness at the time. We would like to apologize for their inconvenience.
In the future, cruisers should contact us in advance by mail, letter or phone for a reservation. Many cruisers inform us in advance of their arrival, and we're able to confirm a slip and services on that date.
All cruisers are important to us and our members. In the future, I hope I have the opportunity to welcome all visitors coming to Acapulco.
Humberto Garza Ochoa
Readers - The Noonans reported they tried to call the Acapulco YC for two days in advance, and then again by VHF while anchored off the club. Sometimes there are mix-ups.
We appreciate Señor Garza's apology and welcome to all cruising boats. Nonetheless, everyone would do well to remember that during the high season in places like Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta and Acapulco, there are many more boats than there are slips. As such, there is a limit to what harbormasters can do, no matter how accommodating they would like to be.
BRIG OR BRIGANTINE?
Thanks for the great articles on the Irving Johnson. We were so relieved to see this beautiful vessel pulled safely from the beach near Channel Islands Harbor. We hope the damage is not too serious.
I noticed that you refer to her as a brig. I have not seen the boat in person, but looking at the photos, I'm thinking that she's a brigantine. Both are two-masted ships, but the brig is only square-rigged on the forward mast, while the brigantine is square-rigged on both masts.
There is also a brig-schooner that is a combination of the two. They are fore/aft rigged on the aft mast, but have square top sails.
Capt. Don Murray
Don - You're correct, both the Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson are bringantines.
But your definitions are backwards. A brig has square sails on
both her fore and mainmasts, while a brigantine has square sails
only on her foremast - as with both Irving and Exy.
By the way, the Irving Johnson is currently at Ventura
Harbor Boatyard where she will undergo substantial repairs to
her rudder and some frames, as well as to mechanical and electrical
On our way back to Richmond from an Easter Lamb Fest on Angel Island aboard Bruce and Lina Nesbit's Olson 34 Razberries, we helped rescue a couple of sailors on an overturned 49er about 100 yards from the Portrero Channel Breakwater. It all started when we noticed Jim Quanci and family on their green-hulled Cal 40 Green Buffalo circling off the channel. In the prevailing conditions - true wind of 22-26 knots and pouring rain - it became obvious that they weren't practicing a man overboard exercise. Fearing a problem on Green Buffalo, we approached as fast as we could, only to find a capsized 49er with two young sailors in the water. They seemed competent going through their drill to right their boat, but they were repeatedly overwhelmed by the wind and sea state, which kept knocking their boat down again. From our perspective, they were spending way too much time in the water.
Bruce evaluated the situation quickly and decided the most helpful thing we could do was get the sailors out of the water, then retrieve the boat. So we queued up after Green Buffalo and began circling the troubled sailors. I deployed the Lifesling, which we managed to get to the crew of the knocked-down boat. The 49er skipper and crew wanted to stay with their boat rather than come aboard Razberries, so the skipper tied the sling off to the 49er mast, and we began a very slow tow to the channel entrance and Richmond YC. Because of the weather conditions, we couldn't tow them faster than an agonizingly slow 2.5 knots, so we were concerned about the 49er crew becoming hypothermic.
Somebody - perhaps aboard Green Buffalo - alerted the Coast Guard, and before long a Coast Guard helicopter appeared overhead. They circled the scene for several minutes before determining, I guess, that the situation was under control, and took off. At that point, we contacted Coast Guard Group San Francisco and confirmed that we had successfully engaged the 49er crew and had taken the boat in tow. From then on, Green Buffalo maintained communication with the Coast Guard until the rescue was complete. Green Buffalo stood by for the duration to lend a hand if necessary.
As far as I'm concerned, Chuck Hawley's West Marine Safety At Sea seminars really prepared us to deal with the situation we faced. We think it's very important that West Marine keeps offering the seminars.
Saturday was turning out to be a perfect day. I started with a great swim, then a world-class hike with friends Russ and Steve through a wildflower and waterfall wonderland. I got home in time to check with the family, have lunch, and take care of some errands. Finding myself free at 3:30 p.m., I headed down to the boat for some maintenance, where I ran into my old buddy Jerry Brown, who was already working on his boat. Spontaneously, we decided to go sailing. Within 15 minutes were out on the Bay aboard my boat Simcha.
We both prefer the ocean, so we headed under the Gate, weaving through the many kite and boardsailors who were enjoying the 20-knot winds and 12 to 15 foot seas. Suddenly, we noticed a kite surfer near us had gotten separated from her board and was being dragged through the water by her kite. Before long, she and her board were being swept out the Gate by the strong ebb. Since we were the only boat out there, we dropped our sails and motored over to help. By the time we got there, she had recovered her board and control. Or so we thought.
As we and the kite sailor headed back into the Bay, we could see that she was soon in trouble again. The ebb and wind were just too strong for her, preventing her from making progress against the ebb, and she was clearly exhausted. She lost her board again beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, and she and her board were once again rapidly swept out the Gate. All the while, she remained attached to a 20-ft parabolic kite sail, which was 50 feet in the air above her, and was dragging her around in the strong wind. In short, she was helpless.
Finally, she and a sailboarder signaled us to call for help - which we did. We circled the young woman - taking care to avoid being swamped by the huge waves - while keeping her in sight to make sure she was all right.
Just then a container ship began exiting the Bay. Because we were in the main ship channel, it was bearing right down on us. We advised the Coasties, who recommended that we try to get the woman out of the water immediately. The big seas and her still-inflated sail made it difficult, but we were determined to succeed. Fortunately, we were able to contact Vessel Traffic Service on VHF 13, and they were able to warn the ship. And soon we saw a Coast Guard 47-footer rushing to the scene. They were able to get the woman's kite down and lift her into their boat. By this time we'd been swept a mile west of the bridge.
It's not an exaggeration to say that if we hadn't been there, and if Jerry hadn't spotted her, the woman wouldn't be around today.
Bob - Obviously you did your good deed for the day.
Given all the kitesailors and sailboarders
out near the Gate, we always assume that from time to time they'd
have gear or physical problems that would create difficult situations
for big ships. But according to a bar pilot we spoke with last
year, they hadn't been a problem for him at all.
Sorry it took me so long to response to your earlier letter, but charters are at an all-time high down here in the Caribbean. This year has been extremely busy for bareboats, crewed yachts, power and sail megayachts, and cruise ships. With unrest in so much of the world, I think people feel safe in the Caribbean. The only downside is that it's now so crowded in the British Virgins that it's like a sunny Sunday on San Francisco Bay - but every day of the week!
Peter & Darcy Whitney
My son, David, and I departed Redwood City aboard our Islander 36 Ariel on June 25, 2001, and arrived in Sequim, Washington, on July 26. We chose the harbor-hopping route in the belief that the journey is as important as the destination. It was a delightful trip, as the coast is beautiful and the harbors were wonderful. We had winds to 40 knots on the nose, some fog, and did lots of motoring. Perhaps the following facts will help folks headed that way this year:
Length of trip - 947 miles.
Fuel consumed - 203 gallons.
Longest Leg - 176 miles
Most fuel taken at any stop - 31 gallons
Biggest legal problem - we were fined for not buying a registration sticker in Washington. This requirement is not posted in any marina.
Good advice - beware of the crab pot floats in the vicinity of harbors.
A few essentials - Charlie's Charts, a dodger, dinghy, radar, GPS, EPIRB, and VHF radio. Cell phone coverage was not good.
List of places stopped and distances between them: Bodega Bay, 80 miles; Noyo, 176; Shelter Cove, 55; Eureka, 68; Trinidad (a beautiful anchorage) 44; Crescent City, 44; Coos Bay, 52; Umpqua River, 25; Newport, 65; Westport, 151; Sekiu, 129; and Sequim, 59.
During the three years we kept Ariel in the Northwest, we explored the area from Penrose State Park, which is in the southern part of Puget Sound, to Cape Scott, which is to the north of Vancouver Island.
We returned to San Francisco Bay in 2003 by sailing down the west coast of Vancouver Island. Our original goal had been to make it all the way to Alaska, but there were too many distractions along the way. But I hope to return.
The same question - how to get from San Francisco to the Pacific Northwest - comes up every year at this time. I have made the trip four times, and am getting ready to do it again in the middle of May with my 38-ft single-engine trawler.
In my opinion, harbor-hopping is the only way to go. My Sundown can maintain a seven-knot average for most of the trip, so it seems to me that many of your readers with sailboats could make the same stops as I do. We stop at Bodega Bay, Noyo River, Eureka, Brookings, Coos Bay, Newport, Tillamook, Grays Harbor, Neah Bay, and then go on to the San Juan Islands. These harbors are 60 to 105 miles apart, and although I have had to make overnight runs a couple of times, I plan to do most of the trip in day-hops. In the past, this trip has taken me between 10 and 15 days, and we have left San Francisco between May 15 and early June.
I suggest that anyone planning this trip drive the coast and look at the harbors before they take their boat north.
Nicolas Williams asked for advice and information about sailing north from San Francisco to Seattle and beyond. My husband and I have made four trips. The most recent was after completing our eight-year circumnavigation in Florida. We put our Peterson 44 Southern Cross on the Dockwise Yacht Transport ship and she made the trip to Vancouver - with ease. We didn't get a drop of water on her. It was so wonderful that we would recommend Dockwise's services to everyone.
All kidding aside, my husband Jack headed north on one occasion in late June when there was a great deal of wind. There was boat damage, and he had to turn back. Two weeks later, however, he had to power north in fog and no wind.
We made another trip in late May, motoring the entire way. We had to stop for fuel at Humboldt and Newport, Oregon.
In 1994, when our circumnavigation began, we set out for the Pacific Northwest in early April, hoping to miss the strong northwesterly winds of the later months. We stopped at Bodega Bay, Humboldt, Crescent City, Coos Bay, Newport, and then Victoria. On that blessed trip we experienced small lows which gave us southerly winds at times, enabling us to make good distance without difficulty.
We also found that asking local fishermen about their tactics was a great help. They said, "Wait until the barometer drops just a little, then go for it. Then just before the winds fill in from the north after a small low, tuck into a harbor."
The bar conditions at the entrance to the coastal harbors are a factor, and we radioed ahead to the Coast Guard for condition reports. When you do so, you can expect a greeting by them - and an inspection upon arrival.
We never sailed or motored too far off the coast - about 25 miles - which was just west of the crab pots along the California and Oregon coasts. However, we did give the Columbia River bar a wide berth both coming and going.
Yes, it was colder up there when we arrived in mid-to-late April, but it was a better alternative than the horrifying experiences and wear and tear on your boat that are more common when you head north a month or two later. In addition, we had anchorages all to ourselves until school let out, enjoyed low-season rates at marinas, and didn't feel rushed to leave beautiful Victoria - where we docked at the municipal marina to the north of the Victoria/Empress docks.
Victoria is a great place to reprovision, get supplies and parts, obtain Canadian fishing licenses, and complete any repairs before carrying on to the islands. There is easy access from the marina to everything by foot.
Our return trips to the San Francisco Bay Area have always been rather quick. We had good winds about 30 miles off the coast, and more wind and bigger seas to the south of Newport, Oregon.
Keep in mind that all of this information is from our experiences only. We have loved our times up north so much that we are now berthing Southern Cross in the Pacific Northwest permanently, and are spending six months each year cruising the islands and Alaska. We hope this will be of some help and encouragement for other folks to make the trip and enjoy their boats in the beautiful waters of the Pacific Northwest.
Jack & Lynn McCarthy
We were shocked when we read your report in 'Lectronic about the yachts Mahdi and Gandalf being attacked by pirates with automatic weapons some 30 miles off the coast of Yemen. Rodney J. Nowlin, who apparently killed some of the attackers with return fire, was our dock neighbor aboard the 45-ft cutter Madhi on Whidbey Island, Washington, many years ago. In fact, it's where he'd built the boat many years before.
Score one - or maybe three - for the good guys. But it's not the kind of cruising we want to do.
Rob & Linda Jones
Readers - Those with good memories will recall that Nowlin wrote Latitude a letter that was published in last September's issue. It started out like this:
"We've been cruising for nine years
aboard our 45-ft cutter Mahdi,
having left Whidbey Island, Washington, in the mid-'90s. After
sailing down the West Coast to Mexico, we continued on to Hawaii,
and then took an unusual route. Rather than heading to the South
Pacific, we visited the islands of Micronesia, and all of Asia,
from Nakhoka, Russia, in the north, to Fremantle, Western Australia,
in the south - and virtually everywhere in between. We are leaving
Phuket, Thailand, in January 2005 for the Mediterranean."
We have to agree with Latitude's opinion about 'nautical stairway' marinas along the Pacific Coast of Baja. We're against them.
We've done the Baja Bash twice. One time there was no wind, and we enjoyed a leisurely trip to San Diego. During that Bash we stopped for one night at Bahia Santa Maria and for a couple of days at Turtle Bay.
On our second Bash, we had 25 to 30-knot winds on the nose from Bahia Santa Maria to Bahia San Carlos. When doing a Bash, the important thing is to take notice of the wind patterns. We found that it was relatively calm at 6 a.m. and the windiest at 2 p.m. Moving within the lighter air window, we were able to make it to anchorages along the way without getting soaked.
We do, however, recommend plenty of anchor rode for the anchorage at the north end of Cedros Island. The bottom drops off very quickly. We lowered our hook in 55 feet of water, but by the time our boat had settled in, we were in 90 feet of water.
We also recommend looking for other boats going north while waiting for a weather window in Cabo. It's really a lot of fun doing the trip at the same time as others, and you make lasting friendships.
Myron & Marina Eisenzimmer
I read your 'Lectronic Latitude item about the duct tape factory catching fire in Columbia, South Carolina. When I lived there in the '60s, the guy who owned the plant was a member of the Columbia Sailing Club. He was a real good guy. I don't know if he's still alive, but he was a fellow sailor.
I completely agree with Latitude that the boatowner should be financially responsible for the errors of his/her boat's crew. I say this having replaced enough boat gear over the last 25 years to stock a small West Marine outlet.
That said, over the years I have screwed up a few times as crew on OPB's (other people's boats) and chosen to take care of the issues. Once I lost a winch handle, and replaced it. Another time I put my knee through the display of a GPS. As I handed the owner a brand new GPS unit - the old one was not repairable - I suggested that he either move it to a safer location or put a guard over it. He did neither. Two weeks later another crew put his knee through the replacement display. He didn't replace it.
I took care of these screw-ups for two reasons. First, I like to treat others as I would like to be treated. Second, I wanted to be invited back on the boats for more racing.
For those of you who have only crewed on boats and have never been the owner, you probably have no idea what it costs to keep it all going. On my boat, crew who show up with bevvies and/or snacks, who volunteer time to help with maintenance or repairs, who take responsibility for their screwups (to the extent that they are able), and generally treat the boat with the respect she deserves, usually get asked back - and may even get a trick on the helm during a race. Those who don't will get an "I'm all crewed up" response when asking about future races.
On another subject, I also had a bit of a struggle with the California State Board of Equalization. My Deerfoot 62 Moonshadow didn't enter California for six months after I purchased her in Florida. A year later, the tax collectors came after me for sales tax. When I asked them on what basis did they feel that tax was due, they said, "We don't have to prove you owe the tax, you have to prove that you don't." I see. So much for the assumption of innocence, eh?
When I told them that I didn't enter the state from Mexico until January of the year following the purchase, and that they could easily confirm this with U.S. Customs, their reply was, "We don't talk to Customs!" Fortunately, I was able to give them enough paperwork from my cruise to make them go away.
What really gets up my nose - besides their friendly and helpful attitude - is how inefficient our government is. If they are so frikkin' 'understaffed', why don't they work smarter and use some of the resources available to them? I suppose this is just another example of the old oxymoron 'government intelligence'
Readers - When George says the boatowner should be financially responsible for the mistakes of the crew, it's not just cheap talk. For while he was sleeping a few years back, a navigation error on the part of one of his crew put his Deerfoot 62 on a reef in the Tuamotus. She was out of action for more than a year, and the repairs almost exceeded the value of the boat.
As for you George, if government inefficiency,
incompetence, and malfeasance bothers you, you're lucky you've
been out cruising and haven't read recent editions of the San Francisco Chronicle. It was recently reported,
for example, that when lightbulbs burn out in firehouses in Berkeley,
the firemen and women are supposed to call another city agency
rather than replace them themselves. If taxpayers in Berkeley
have to shell out a couple of hondos each time a lightbulb needs
replacing in a government building, is it any wonder the city
officials say they need to raise taxes to pay for all the services
the public wants?
In his April letter about Midway Island, Don Sandstrom wrote, "Imagine walking amongst 1.2 million albatrosses in an area the size of Golden Gate Park." Actually, I can. If that is anything like living around the Canadian geese that reside in every park, office complex, and boat ramp in the Northeastern United States, you better not only watch your step when you walk, you would be wise to pass upwind if possible. As the saying goes, "there's strength in numbers."
Bill - Just for fun, we'd like to point
out that although everyone calls it 'Midway Island', the real
and accurate name is 'Midway Islands'. There are two islands,
Eastern and Sand, which are large enough to be home to airports,
while Spit Island is much smaller. Combined, they are only nine
times the size of The Mall in Washington, D.C.
I saw your item in the April 11 'Lectronic Latitude about the new extended amount of time dinghies are allowed to be tied to public docks in Newport Beach. Depending on what side of the dock you tie to, you can stay for 20 minutes, two hours, or 12 hours.
My wife and I live aboard in Newport Harbor on the Lagoon 380 cat Beach Access. We are directors of the Newport Mooring Association, and thus are part of the group responsible for the new extended time limits for dinghy docking. Our original goal was to get dinghy racks installed in strategic locations for use by the mooring owners. Unfortunately, after years of hard work by our group, the Harbor Resources Department, and the Harbor Commission, we got shot down by the City Council. One public official stated that there would be dinghy racks on the peninsula over his dead body. The extended dinghy docking times were a bone tossed to us.
We're now involved in a new battle with the city. There are some actual - yet relatively minor - issues that need to be addressed in the harbor, but a monster may be born. As with most government entities, the game plan is as follows: Start with a problem that needs a solution. Piggyback on it a laundry list of related issues based on the 'as long as we're here' strategy. Decide that the 'problem' is too big for the resources on hand to solve, and hire a consultant. Steer the willing consultant in the direction you wish them to go, and then hide behind the consultant when enacting the recommendations. The end result is increased control over the citizens, and more taxpayers dollars available to hire more consultants.
In fact, there might be a future story here for Latitude, since some of the agendas being floated include turning management of the Newport moorings over to a private concern. That would involve somehow getting control of our now very valuable mooring leases, and then renting them back to us. Another idea is to convert the moorings to floating marinas. So we at the Newport Mooring Association have our work cut out for us.
Glenn - As frequent visitors to Newport Harbor, we greatly appreciate the extended time allowed at the public docks, so thank you for your efforts. Twenty minutes, the previous time limit, wasn't long enough to do anything - except get nervous about the possibility of being ticketed. We also enjoyed the new restrooms and showers over by the Coast Guard Station. Nobody will mistake them for the restrooms in the lobby of a Four Seasons Hotel, but you can't blame Orange County for creating San Quentin-style indestructo facilities because the public treats public restrooms like, well, shit. We advise wearing flip-flops in the showers, which are oh-so-basic, but they have the main thing looked for in a shower - hot water. In fact, when we were there, the water was almost too hot.
For those who haven't visited Newport by boat, it's a real treat, and they always have moorings available for transients. Did we mention they are just $5/night? There are limits, however, on how many days transient vessels can occupy a mooring in a given month, so check ahead. Before getting a mooring, however, you have to check in with the Orange County Sheriff's Office, which assigns moorings and guest slips. Because they are part of the Sheriff's Office, they do things by the book, so don't forget your boat documentation or registration and personal I.D. But we've always found the staff to be very pleasant. As for the Harbor Patrol, they've always been helpful, too. For example, if you have trouble securing to a fore and aft mooring - which can be tricky if doing it for the first time when there's a strong current - they'll come out and assist if they're not busy with more urgent matters.
As for the future of Newport Harbor,
we'll count on the Newport Mooring Association to watchguard
the interests of regular sailors and transients.
Dave Beck made some interesting technical points with respect to canting ballast/keels and 'water pods' in his letter in the April issue. I think canting ballast represents the future of racing, but as for water pods . . . sorry Lee Helm.
However, Beck completely sidesteps what I think was Lee's point about the rules: that it is no more appropriate for a boat with a 3 h.p. canting mechanism to race against a boat without one, than it is for a boat with a 3 h.p. engine or winch to race against a boat without one, since both the powered keel and the powered winch violate Rule 52.
Of course, rules are regularly "excepted" to foster new technology - but only if the exception doesn't upset the level playing field. Volvo 70s can use powered canting keels because every Volvo 70 has one. Not every Open 60 has one (yet), but the ones that are winning races do, and it won't be long before everybody has one and they don't break anymore.
I think we will see an interim canting keel class for boats that choose to use electric or engine power to move their appendages, just as we have separate classes for multihulls. (The latter don't violate any rules, of course, they're just segregated because they're too fast.)
In the long run, after the kinks are worked out and the technology matures, I think we'll see canting keels that don't violate Rule 52 because they will be human-powered - as they are in the Mini 6.5 class. Maybe we'll see hydraulic systems led to pedestal winches. Maybe grinders will be able to 'preload' the ram for several minutes before a tack, so the ram can be released mid-tack and the keel swung as fast as the motor does. It will be fun to see a fixed-keel boat forcing tacks on a canting keel boat until the grinders just, well, keel over. Maybe boats like the Schock 40 will have a detachable carbon strut from the keel to the coachroof to give leverage to the grinders. Then owners can decide whether to race in the machine-powered canting class or the open class, depending on how many 'deck apes' they can muster.
Regardless of how it happens, at some point canting keels will comply with the racing rules, and we will consider them to give an advantage in the same way that a cored carbon hull has an advantage over a solid glass hull. If you don't like it, you can buy a new boat, whine for a better rating, or go race one-design. But don't say it's unfair.
Good technologies - such as Herreshoff's revolutionary catamaran Amaryllis - rarely go away just because the racing establishment tries to squash them. (And no, I don't think of Max Ebb, Lee Helm, or Latitude as being part of the racing establishment.) Let's give creative thinkers like Matt Brown some room to work the bugs out. Think of the future, when even shorthanded monohull cruisers can enjoy really big mainsails because they don't need rail meat, and can join the 'condo'marans cruising the Bahamas because their seven-foot draft can be shrunk to two feet.
Thanks, as always, for making Latitude the best sailing magazine ever.
NOT MONITORING RADAR SEEMS IRRESPONSIBLE
There was a letter in the April issue that praised the advantages of image-stabilized binoculars. It can't be denied that image stabilization brings binoculars up to a whole new level of usefulness. However, I was dismayed to read that the author "only felt it necessary to turn on my radar twice for identification" during a lengthy passage in Mexico. This begs the question of how many unlit boats he completely missed because he wasn't consistently using his radar.
If a boat is equipped with working radar, it seems irresponsible to me not to employ it at night - even in clear conditions. I can't count the times when our radar picked up unlit pangas and other small boats off the Mexican coast. When you see a large ship closing in on your boat, you hope that someone on the bridge is keeping a responsible radar watch. Well, fishermen in pangas are out there with no running lights, no VHF radios, and are often involved in fishing activities which leave them with limited mobility. To those folks, our big, heavy, shorthanded cruising boats can be a similar threat.
To keep a proper radar watch, you should occasionally switch ranges and adjust the tuning for changes in the sea state. This also helps keep the watchkeeper alert and familiar with the instrument. Having said this, it goes without saying that a careful 360° visual horizon scan should be the first priority at all times. And I certainly intend to obtain a pair of the stabilized binoculars before I make another long-distance cruise.
By the way, I believe international maritime law requires that if a vessel is equipped with radar, it must be monitored at all times while underway in reduced visibility - such as at night. This is obviously unenforceable, but I would think it's a good idea, similar to monitoring VHF 16.
Doug - We're not sure if there is a requirement for pleasure vessels with radar to keep them on in times of reduced visibility. What we do know is that we always have our radar on at night, and we often have it on at least 'standby' during the day. It's primarily a matter of safety, but it can also be entertaining.
As for ships, we don't care if they
have radar on or not, as we think it's our responsibility to
make sure we don't get run down by them.
Please permit a resident of the Pacific Northwest the indulgence to correct a persistent error that appeared in an otherwise great article. In the March issue's Escape To The San Juans, where the entire setting is in the north Puget Sound region, there is continued reference to seeing, wishing to see, and even a photo alleging to see - Mt. Rainier! Now as wishful as that may be, the predominant mountain visible on clear days throughout the north Sound - Bellingham, the San Juans, Victoria, B.C., etc - and the mountain actually depicted in the photograph, is Mt. Baker. Located about 35 miles due east of Bellingham, Mt. Baker rises to an elevation of 10, 775 feet.
Mt. Rainier, elevation 14,411 feet, is arguably the landmark mountain in the entire northwest, and is situated about 150 miles SSE of Bellingham in the south-central part of the state. It is highly visible -again, on clear days - from the central and south Sound - Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia - but rarely can be seen from as far away as Bellingham or the San Juan Islands.
For those who have not had the pleasure of seeing either of these magnificent mountains, the experience can be breathtaking. Perpetually white with its snow-cap and large glaciers, both peaks are dormant - but not extinct - volcanoes, and a column of steam can often be seen rising from Mt. Baker during winter months. Because each towers far above the surrounding foothills, each is a wonder to behold whether ashore or afloat.
Bruce - We regret the error and appreciate your correction. Apparently you didn't catch our tongue-in-cheek correction last month in Sightings.
ANOTHER MESS-UP WITH THE MOUNTAINS
Y'all run a fabulous publication! I stop by West Marine religiously every month to pick up my copy. However, I have to point out that Mt. Rainier is not only 200 miles south of Bellingham, but also that it is spelled Mt. 'Rainier' - not 'Ranier' the way you've been doing it.
I'm sure you're not looking for article suggestions, but how about one on making the trip from the Pacific Northwest down to the Bay Area? I've seen various comments on this passage in the Letters section over the years, but a more full-blown article would be great for those of us contemplating the trip.
Tim - We make mistakes about mountains because we're sea-level people. Sorry about that.
It would be hard to justify a Pacific Northwest to San Francisco article, as it's just like going north - same ports to stop in, same need to avoid crab pots, same need to monitor the weather carefully - except you'll almost certainly be sailing downwind most of the time. Needless to say, even though you'll probably be sailing downwind, it can be a very, very rough trip.
Over the years, we've written about a lot of boats that had serious trouble - meaning they pitchpoled, had to be abandoned, or their crews got so seasick they had to be rescued. Thanks to constantly improving weather forecasting, there don't seem to be as many incidents as in the past, but this passage must be taken seriously. Probably the worst time to attempt it would be April through August. From September on the chances of having a really nasty passage drop considerably.
THAT BIRD HAS FLOWN
Here's some disappointment news: Bird Boat #10, Grey Goose, has been put on a trailer and trucked to Bainbridge Island, Washington. She was bought by J.C. (Kimo) and Sheri Mackey from James Nichols. Back in the '80s, the couple lived in the Bay Area and owned Bird Boat #4, Mavis. Then they moved up to Seattle for a new job and a new fleet. They bought and restored a 6-Meter for one design racing, then served as the catalyst to bring that fleet to its highest level of participation. But, they missed the Bird's character and ease of sailing, so they always had an eye on bringing one up to the Sound.
They intend to restore Grey Goose to the very high quality of wooden boats in the Port Townsend area. I told them I was disappointed that they were taking Grey Goose away from where she was designed to sail, but they promised that if they ever think of selling her, they would bring her back to the Bay Area. In fact, there might be a chance they will return to the Bay Area someday, too.
Not all is lost by losing one of the most winning Birds. The fleet still has an outstanding turnout for the YRA schedule, Woodies Invitational, and the Master Mariners Regatta. The San Francisco Bird Boat fleet has been racing continuously on The Bay since 1922. The class is easily the oldest one design class on the West Coast, and is among the top five oldest classes in the United States. The spark of West Coast wooden boat enthusiasm has fed the fleet a new chapter of restored Birds to race the next 80 years. The Bird Boat Association's Preservation of the Fleet has two vessels currently in the process of restoration, thanks to funding through donations.
If anyone is interested in crewing on one of these boats, or has an interest in restoration or helping with donations, or just wooden boat folklore on the Bay in general, please feel free to contact me at (707)-265-9624 or email or www.birdboat.com.
Stephen Gort, President
A TECHNIQUE I LEARNED IN THE AIR FORCE
While reading Nicholas Sciarro's I Heard A Faint Cry For Help letter in the March issue, I was reminded of training that I had received many years ago when I still enjoyed a full head of hair.
While in the Air Force back in the late '60s, I completed a WSI - Water Safety Instructor - course offered through the Red Cross. Part of the instruction was on a technique for removing a person in a similar situation to that described by Mr. Sciarro. The procedure was as follows:
1) While standing or kneeling on the dock above the person in the water, rotate them so they are facing you.
2) Lift both their arms as far onto the dock as you can, and cross one arm over the other.
3) Firmly grasp both wrists, raise their arms, let them bob back down into the water a bit (for buoyancy), and give a strong lift with your legs. While lifting, the motion will turn the person 180 degrees (because their arms were crossed), and if done correctly, they will end up with their rear-end sitting on the dock.
I have seen petite women lift much heavier men out of the water using this method. It has something to do with the twisting motion. Of course, if there are two people on the dock, each person can grab a wrist and lift together.
Because I now depend on the good graces of a competent, intelligent, extraordinarily-gifted, master of everything, non-egocentric friend with a boat to get my sailing fix, I don't get out on the Bay as often as I did years ago. I do, however, enjoy sailing vicariously through each new issue of your fine magazine, and for that, I thank you.
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