DEEP DRAFT ALL THE WAY TO THE CITY OF
We enjoyed the 'Cruising In Your
Own Backyard' article in the July issue. But we wanted to let
you know that it's now possible for a keel boat to cruise all
the way to the city of Napa! We did it over the Fourth of July
holiday and never saw less than double digits on the depthsounder.
Also note that the bascule bridge shown on the chart at Napa
has been replaced with a fixed bridge with around 60 feet of
We sailed with the flood all the way up river, anchored opposite
the Napa Valley YC, and had a spectacular view of the fireworks.
They reflected off the water very well. It was a wonderful trip.
Ken & Katie Stuber
Sand Dollar, Bristol 32 Ketch
Ken and Katie - That's terrific news,
as the Napa River is a wonderful cruising destination that isn't
quite as far as the Delta for Bay Area boats. There are not many
places in the world where you can cruise through world class
wine country. We take Profligate
up the river every Fourth of July Weekend and anchor off the
Napa Valley Boatyard. We'd go further up, but our mast is 90
feet off the water, so we can't make it under the Highway 12
fixed bridge. This means we have to dinghy the last five miles
or so. But 95% of the sailboats in the Bay Area could easily
clear the bridge all the way into town for a big time.
WHAT'S THAT SMELL IN SAN DIEGO?
With regard to the "cheap entertainment" in the
Cruising In Your Own Backyard feature in the July issue, those
sea lions at Pier 39 may be beyond earshot, but certainly not
beyond 'noseshot'! When the wind is blowing out of the north,
I think I can smell them here in San Diego. Good thing Latitude
isn't a scratch 'n sniff publication.
Scott Mac Laggan
MORE SAD TO PLACE 3RD THAN LOSE THE HANDLE
I just read the San Francisco Chronicle obit for Derek Baylis.
Latitude 38 has been wonderful to the Baylis family, and
the Baylis family has made a wonderful contribution to sailing
in the Bay Area. But there is one more thing that you could contribute.
The Chronicle obit makes it sound like Derek was sort of an odd
jobs man at the Barient plant. The truth is that Tim Mosely and
Bob Keefe made virtually no contribution - other than money -
to the design of the historic first two-speed winch at Barient.
The technological breakthrough was all Derek's, as it was his
concepts, his drawings, his prototypes and his molds. The Chronicle obit obscured that fact, so I was glad to see you cleared it
up in 'Lectronic's 'Eight Bells for Derek Baylis'.
Derek also designed the first ratchet handle for a winch. I had
the dubious honor of dropping the prototype for that winch handle
over the side of Molly B. during a tacking duel up the Cityfront
in some inconsequential YRA event in the late '70s. Derek didn't
lose his temper, but he did mention that the handmade brass handle
had been the star of the New York Boat Show the year it was introduced.
That we finished third in the race made Derek much more unhappy
than my losing the prototype ratchet handle!
JOHN WALTON'S ENERGY WILL BE SORELY MISSED
We're sorry to hear about the death of John Walton, who bought
our catamaran, as a result of his ultralight airplane accident
My husband Jim and I did the '96 Ha-Ha aboard Joyous,
our 36-ft Corsair cat, which had just been introduced. Our two
years of cruising that catamaran - with summer on the hard at
Grossman's Marina Seca in San Carlos - were indeed joyous. And
they ended with every boat owner's fantasy - a phone call while
on the quay at Papeete with a broker saying they had a buyer
for our boat. The broker was Gary Helms of Helms Yachts in Alameda,
and he called to say that John Walton wanted to buy our cat.
It wasn't exactly a sight-unseen deal, as Walton had owned a
Corsair for some time and had only recently sold it to Paul Koch,
the Aussie boatbuilder of Ostac Yachts in Brisbane, Australia.
The only condition of sale was that we have the boat back to
San Diego by mid-September so that Walton, his wife Christy and
son Luke could have it for the fall of '98 cruising season in
Mexico. That seemed like an easy enough request, as it was only
the end of July, and my husband had two great crew - young engineers
from Newport Beach - arriving in a few days to do this leg.
(One of them, by the way, was Donald Sandstrom, who at the moment
is aboard the Sandstrom family-built and twice-circumnavigated
40-ft Cross trimaran Anduril in the Marquesas with his
Anyway, I flew back to San Francisco, not expecting to hear from
'the boys' for two or three weeks, until their arrival in Hawaii.
But 2.5 days out, in some snarky weather, the compression post
suffered a crack that went two thirds of the way around. After
much discussion and scheduling considerations - the two crew
had to get back to work and Joyous had to get to San Diego -
they disappointedly headed back to Papeete. Fortunately, Jim
discovered a great boat repair shop, where they welded stainless
steel flanges between the deckplate and the compression post,
making it "stronger than dirt."
With time running out and no crew, Jim placed Joyous on
a cargo list for a freighter running to Long Beach. Gary Helms
and Jim met the boat and motored it to San Diego, where they
met John Walton. Gary and Jim had both sailed with Walton, and,
while on one of the San Diego to Ensenada races, had stayed at
the Walton's home in Costa Mesa. Jim remembers John meeting him
and Gary in San Diego, arriving in an old dinged-up beater van,
and saying it wasn't necessary to take the boat out for a test
sail. He just tendered the check for the boat.
I remember taking the check in to the Wells Fargo bank here in
Bend, Oregon, and the young clerk being flustered by the
amount and by the fact that it had been drawn on an account from
a bank in Bentonville, Arkansas. She stated that she needed to
take it to her supervisor for approval, and there would
be at least a five-day hold on the money. A few minutes later,
the supervisor came out and said there was no problem about the
check and that we could consider the money available that day!
A few days later, I got a call from Christy Walton, thanking
me for the way we had set up the galley and for how we had left
everything. In our book, the Waltons were 'class' people, and
John's energy will be sorely missed. He really was a Renaissance
man. Thank you for having done the piece on him in 'Lectronic
Readers - For those who may have missed
the tragic news, 57-year-old John Walton - heir to part of the
Wal-Mart fortune and reportedly the 11th-richest man in the world
- died last month when the ultralight plane he'd built crashed
shortly after takeoff at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The John Waltons
had owned several modest sailboats that they cruised to Mexico,
where they were well-liked by members of the cruising community.
Earlier this year, John contacted us hoping to get enough boats
for a multihull division in the TransPac. When that didn't happen,
he emailed us to say that he would be going to Mexico this winter,
either by sailing the family's Catana 47 catamaran Bright Wing or by flying down with his ultralight
SAILING IS SAFER THAN FLYING
I noted Latitude's quote in 'Lectronic regarding the
death of John Walton, the Wal-Mart heir and TransPac hopeful:
"We regret to have to say this again, but we know far more
pilot/sailors who have died flying rather than sailing."
It does seem that light airplanes are less safe than sailboats
- including multihulls - and ultralight airplanes are even worse.
Comparative statistics on safety have been hard to come by, but
with over 2000 Farrier designs of various types now sailing,
there are enough to get an idea. The capsize rate appears to
be averaging around 0.2% - or three or four per year for racers.
The rate is more like 0.05% among cruisers.
Light aircraft are a good comparison, and the current serious
accident rate - meaning resulting in death or serious injury
- amongst U.S. light aircraft is 1.13% per year. This is down
from a high of 10.2% in 1948. Thus for multihulls such as mine
to have an equivalent safety record as light aircraft, we should
be seeing around 22 capsizes or serious accidents a year, with
the boat and crew also probably being lost as a result. We don't
see anything like this.
Nonetheless it was sad news about John Walton. We had our disagreements
in the end over design, but F-boat trimarans would not have had
the success they have had without him taking the risk to back
Farrier Marine, Inc.
ALLOW TITLE TRANSFERS OF ABANDONED BOATS
In the May 25 issue of 'Lectronic, you ran a photo of what
you said was the Catalina 25 Sue Pullan having gone up on the
beach at Santa Cruz. Actually, she's a Catalina 27, one built
to be equipped with an outboard rather than an inboard.
Lots of people would like to 'rescue' abandoned boats like that
or ones that owners no longer want. But many times the taxes,
registration, and storage fees that the new owner would have
to satisfy in order to obtain title are so high that it precludes
one from even making an inquiry or attempting the process. Sometimes
the money owed amounts to several times what the hull is worth.
If local or state governments would allow an individual to economically
transfer title of such abandoned vessels, perhaps photos such
as those of Sue Pullan wouldn't appear as often.
John - If the state government would
allow an individual to economically transfer title of such vessels,
we fear the waters of Richardson Bay, Santa Barbara east of Stearns
Wharf, Marina del Rey, Newport Harbor, San Diego Harbor, and
other places would be even more littered with abandoned and derelict
vessels. Particularly in the winter, such boats tend to wash
up on beaches, forcing taxpayers to pay to have them pulled off
before they're destroyed.
Do you think California roads and freeways would look better
and be safer if people could just walk away from their vehicles
when they stopped running? We don't either. That's why we are
in favor of the state having the right to, after 90 days, remove
all unregistered and nonnavigable boats from state and federal
waters. To our way of thinking it's a no brainer.
DENTISTS AND DESTINY
We've been planning to write for
six months but never got around to it. The reader who asked about
dentists in Puerto Vallarta finally got us to do it.
A good dentist in Puerto Vallarta that we and many other cruisers
use is Dr. Fernando Penalva. His brother is a dentist in Los
Angeles, so he comes up once a year to attend dental seminars
with him. He has all the latest equipment and knows all the new
techniques. He speaks English, although most of his staff do
not. His office is just in front of Commercial Mexicana at the
Marina Vallarta Plaza. The bus from anywhere to the west - including
Punta de Mita - drops you off right in front of his office. We've
always been able to get appointments in just a couple of days,
but you can also try emailing
We're also writing to report that we've gotten another boat.
Peter does not like winter in the Bay Area, so once the dog died,
he began looking for boats once again. We were looking for a
reasonably priced 40-footer that we could just leave every summer.
Most of the boats we saw were very old and tired, so Peter was
happy to find a 1988 C&C 44 in Punta Gorda, Florida. She
was equipped with just about everything you would want for cruising,
including a self-steering vane. Well, thanks to a hurricane,
she no longer had a mast, but those can be replaced. We even
liked the fact that her layout down below is very similar to
our previous boat, the Swan 46 Destiny. We spent six weeks
back in Ruskin, Florida getting our new boat in sailing condition.
Since our old Swan was in St. Petersburg, we spent some time
with her new owners. Steve Smith, the boat's rigger, was raised
on a boat in Alviso, and his wife comes from Hayward, so we felt
right at home.
We left Tampa in the middle of February and headed to Key West
to visit Paul and Theresa Rothaus who did the Ha-Ha in '96, and
then the owners of the first Destiny, which was named
Pressure Drop in '96.
From there we sailed to the Bahamas, where we eventually stopped
at Hurricane Hole Marina in Nassau. The first person to greet
us was Mary Messenger. Because of the articles in Latitude,
many readers will know that she and her husband Rob did the first
Ha-Ha in '94 on the custom 46-footer Maude I. Jones and
then spent the next 10 years doing 9/10s of a circumnavigation.
She came by because she'd noticed the San Francisco hailing port
on our stern and because we were one of the few sailboats in
the marina. I told her that we'd read all about her and Rob in
Latitude when they were with the Wanderer and Doña
de Mallorca in St. Barts. She and Rob have sold Maude I. Jones
and are running an 82-ft motoryacht for some people out of North
Carolina. I think Mary really misses cruising and the cruising
After a few weeks in the northern Exumas, we headed north to
Spanish Wells and then Marsh Harbor. While at Marsh Harbor, we
met the builder of Saga Yachts and the builder of the Manta 42
catamarans. The Manta man said he owns the Chula Vista Marina,
and I think he also did a Ha-Ha. We are glad we saw the Bahamas,
but Peter said there are very few good anchorages, and the good
ones are too crowded. This is especially true in the winter,
where you get a norther every couple of days and boats begin
Our C&C 40 is now on the hard in Charleston because our insurance
wouldn't let us keep our boat in Florida for the summer. They
said we had to be north of 30N.
Our plan is to return to our boat in the fall and then continue
on to the Caribbean. We will keep the boat in Venezuela for the
summers. When we decide we're too old to sail long distances,
we'll either sell her on the East Coast or bring her back to
the Bay Area to use on the Bay and in the Delta.
What would make cruising perfect? If the Caribbean islands were
populated by Mexicans.
P.S. The color pictures in Latitude are wonderful!
Peter & Nancy Bennett
Destiny, C&C 48
Peter and Nancy - We didn't think you'd
be able to get along without a sailboat for very long. As for
Rob and Mary missing cruising and the cruising community, we
know it's true, as they commiserate with us about it from time
to time. In fact, if anybody needs a great couple to run their
sailing yacht, Rob and Mary would be worth interviewing. It goes
without saying, of course, that any employer would have to be
accepting of Rob's ZZ Top-style beard.
OUR TIME WAS A WEEK LESS THAN YOU REPORTED
I'd like to clarify an old mistake
in Latitude regarding our Outremer 55 catamaran Gryphon's
performance in the 2000 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC). Our
finish time of 21 days, 13 hours was, I suppose, technically
correct, but hardly painted an accurate picture of what happened.
The truth is that we were late to the start. This was because
I insisted that we stop to get enough fresh food for the entire
Atlantic crossing, and that we also see some of the Canary Islands.
As a result, we sailed into Las Palmas as the ARC fleet - including
our sistership Baradozig - was departing. We didn't leave
the Canaries until one week after the official start. So while
it's true that our official ARC time was nearly 21.5 days, our
actual passage time was only 14 days and seven hours.
I've felt bad for several years that Latitude suggested
that our crew was the cause of our supposedly taking so long
to cross the Atlantic. There were four of us, one of whom didn't
have much ocean experience. We had moderate conditions most of
the way, and flew the small spinnaker. For what it's worth, we
did have fresh vegetables all the way across. We also would have
been even slower had I succeeded in persuading the others to
detour to the Cape Verdes or Brazil.
We took delivery of Gryphon from the Outremer factory
in France in October of 2000. She was the first of the 55-footers
to be equipped with a carbon fiber mast. Although we don't race,
she's a fast cat. I can remember one night in the Med when we
often surfed at 20 knots.
Gryphon, Outremer 55
Kathy - We feel bad that you feel bad.
We wish you would have written us a, "Hey Dummy, here's
what really happened . . ." letter. It was an honest mistake
on our part, as we were comparing the times that various sisterships
took to cross the Atlantic, and noted that there was often a
significant difference. Since they were sisterships, we deduced
- and normally this is true - that the time difference could
be attributed to the quality of the crew.
We have particular reason to be sympathetic to mitigating circumstances.
When we did the ARC back in '95 with Big
O, we also started several days late because of a magazine
deadline. When we got to the finish at St. Lucia, a couple of
bystanders said something to the effect that our boat or crew
must not have been very good because some smaller boats had finished
earlier. Overhearing them, we explained the late start, so naturally
As for the Outremer 55 being a fast cat, we have no doubt. When
in the Eastern Caribbean two winters ago, we met the Chris and
Carolyn Bridge family of Corona del Mar, who had also bought
their cat Cheval from the Outremer factory. Chris and
another fellow sailed the cat from St. Martin to the Panama Canal,
a distance of about 1,200 miles in something like 5.5 days. That's
fast, particularly considering they never hoisted the main and
only flew a small jib or small spinnaker. At last word the Bridges
were cruising the South Pacific.
TEXTBOOK-PERFECT WOMAN OVERBOARD RESCUE
On the evening of July 15, I was sailing in the Berkeley
YC's Friday night beer can race. Less than a minute prior
to the start of the race, our J/24 crew had an equipment problem
that we were working feverishly to correct. In the heat of the
moment - and in the blink of an eye - I ended up going overboard.
As a recent BK and BC grad, my mind started racing as soon as
I hit the water, recalling all of the things that I had learned about the
dangers of hypothermia, exhaustion, and so forth. Before I could
really start to worry, however, the Merit 25 Loose Lips
came along and literally plucked me out of the Bay in what
had to have been a textbook-perfect man overboard rescue.
I was in the water no more than a minute.
I am greatly indebted to Loose Lips skipper Phill
Mai and his crew: Nina Bohlen, Tim Nelson, Carolyn White, and
Robert Williams. I could not have asked for a finer group of
folks to come to my rescue. I give them my sincere thanks - and
look forward to seeing them on - not in - the water again soon.
Readers - On that same evening, owner/skipper
Rich Korman was ejected from his Moore 24 JR
during a broach after rounding Yellow Bluff in a windy Corinthian
YC beer can race. Korman spent several minutes swimming in the
very chilly waters of the Bay before he was rescued. Take this
as a lesson - please be careful out there!
CAN I BUY A GUILT-FREE POWERBOAT?
Let me start by saying what an excellent job you all do of
producing Latitude. I've been reading it since 1987, when
I lived aboard my Cal 25 at Kappas Marina in Sausalito with my
girlfriend. It was an intimate existence, but what the hell,
we were 19 and very much liked being intimate. And as you know,
there's nothing like living on the water.
Anyway, after several years of being landlocked, I'm interested
in getting back on the water and doing some cruising. However,
my new partner insists we get a trawler so we can have more space.
I've always been against the idea of a primarily power-propelled
boat from an ecological standpoint, but with the advent of bio-diesel,
I'm wondering if owning a powerboat could be guilt-free. Have
you been hearing of folks using bio-diesel in their boats - or
even better, doing the conversion and running straight used veggie
Boatless In Berkeley
Dedalus - Thanks for the kind words
about the magazine. It's just our opinion, but we think guilt
- which has been running at epidemic levels in Berkeley ever
since we studied philosophy at Big U there in the '60s - is overrated
as the basis for any decision or action. We prefer to be motivated
For example, the three things we really enjoy in life - other
than our kids, of course - are sailing, travelling, and reading.
So we indulge heavily in all three without any guilt. But otherwise
we enjoy living a relatively simple life - at least by Marin
County standards. We don't care about clothes, haircuts, jewelry,
home furnishings, road trips, no-tell weekends in Vegas, cruise
ship adventures, second homes in Tahoe, fancy coffee, drugs,
fine wines, motorcycles, movies - or anything that can be found
advertised in a Sunday newspaper or bought at a mall or in a
department store. Furthermore, our next car is going to be one
of those 49 mpg VW diesels. And if Profligate
didn't have to be elsewhere most of the year for editorial purposes,
we'd be thrilled to live on her rather than in our house. In
other words, we indulge in the few things that are really important
to us, pass on the rest, and sleep well at night.
So we say if a boat is something that will bring you a lot of
pleasure, buy the damn thing! This is particularly true if she
doesn't burn 20 gallons an hour, for in just a few years we think
the more sensitive owners of those boats will start feeling as
frowned upon as smokers, parents of big families, and owners
of Hummers. We spend every three-day weekend sailing, and think
those who get on the clogged highways and bridges are not just
wasting fuel, they're wasting their lives. For those with boats,
the Bay is a fantastic place for recreation and relaxation.
Our understanding is that bio-diesel works great, but the drawback
is that it's not universally available. Hopefully, it will be
some day. Of course, if you've owned a home in Berkeley and made
out like an equity bandit, we have an even better suggestion
than a trawler - buy a sailing catamaran. True, they cost more
money than a trawler, but they have much more room, cost less
to operate, don't rock and roll - and are a hell of a lot more
fun. If you've got a cat on San Francisco Bay, you hardly ever
need to visit the fuel dock. For example, we bet we don't burn
more than half a gallon of fuel during a typical Profligate outing
on the Bay, and we've often got a group of people along with
us. As such, on those days we're probably as green as a bunch
of eco-activists driving an old Volvo from the Berkeley flatlands
to Tilden Park for Earth Day.
By the way, if anyone is suffering from guilt, we stumbled across
a possible solution on the internet. Sufferers should visit www.organic-pharmacy.com
and purchase a small bottle of - we're not making this up - Release
Guilt & Shame lotion or tonic or whatever it is. The manufacturer
says "this essence powerfully cleanses the psyche, dissolving
all sense of guilt, shame, or remorse." Since it sells for
- and once again, we're not making this up - $12 per half ounce,
which works out to $3,048 a gallon, we assume the marketers must
need to swim in the stuff every night.
10 YEARS AND YOUR OUT OF YOUR BERTH
Someone posted a notice of warning in the Santa Cruz Harbor
about a proposed state bill that would limit berth occupancy
to 10 years in California harbors that have waiting lists. After
10 years, the slip would have to be made available to others.
This sounds terrible. Have you heard anything about it?
Patrick - We called several harbor masters
and RBOC (Recreation Boaters of California), but nobody knows
anything about it. We agree there are problems at harbors with
waiting lists, but don't think such an approach would be an intelligent
THE KINDEST, MOST HELPFUL PEOPLE
My family and I went sailing last
month on our 28-ft gaff sloop Pearl. As anybody who was
out that day would agree, there was a pretty good breeze. Unfortunately,
this played a part in our discovering that Pearl has some
rot in her stem. We learned this when the stem pulled apart from
the rest of the boat, and, three seconds later, the mast went
by the board.
We've been restoring the boat for the last year, and it just
made me sick to see my pride and joy falling apart. Luckily,
no one was hurt in the dismasting. I guess we now have the chance
to make another part of Pearl better and stronger than before.
I also want to give my endorsement to tabernacle masts, since
this unusual base acted like a fuse of sorts, allowing the mast
to fall over but not be damaged.
But the real reason for my letter is to thank others. For not
two minutes after the mast went over, the Sausalito-based sloop
Nai'a was alongside making sure nobody had been hurt and
offering a tow. At the time, we were still trying to get the
rig back on deck and secure. We hadn't even come close to radioing
for help or anything. But it was such a relief not to have to
worry about how to get back to safety.
Nai'a towed us through the heavy chop all the way from
Angel Island to the mouth of the Oakland Estuary. At that point
we were transferred to another sloop, Pacific High of San Francisco.
The latter boat was good enough to take us all the way to our
berth at Embarcadero Cove Marina.
The help of the two skippers has reinforced my belief that sailors
are among the kindest, most helpful group of people I have ever
associated with. My family is so grateful to these good people
for their help and concern. Now we only have to worry about fixing
a mast, and not the injuries that could have occurred had we
not gotten any help.
Pearl, De Vries Lentsch sloop
IT'S A GREAT WAY TO LEARN TO SAIL
My girlfriend and I are just learning to sail, and we're
thinking about buying our first boat. So far we've been getting
our instruction from the folks at the Vallejo YC. We've already
completed the United States Power Squadron BoatSMART course at
the YC from the Carquinez Power Squadron, and are now in the
middle of dinghy sailing lessons at the same club. Both of these
courses are unbelievable values! The BoatSMART course was
$30 each for two weekends of instruction. All the money goes
for course materials, and the instruction itself is free! The
dinghy sailing lessons are an even better deal - six days of
on-the-water sailing instruction over six weeks for $100 each.
That's $17/day for 5-6 hours of instruction. There are no extra
costs for course materials, we just have to bring a PFD. It's
a great way to learn to sail.
And we can't say enough about how impressed we are with both
groups of instructors, as it's clearly a labor of love. And the
Vallejo YC is wonderful for promoting and hosting it.
Since we'd like to continue having this much fun each weekend,
we're now thinking about buying a small starter boat. We're also
going to sign up for more classes, including the expensive ASA
keelboat, coastal cruising and bareboat courses. But we've got
1) What kind of boat should we look for? We're young and don't
have a lot of money. Our budget is between $3,000 and $5,000.
We would probably never leave the Bay on this first boat, but
would rather be daysailing and taking the occasional overnight
trip down to San Francisco or up to the Delta. We would like
to be able to entertain and sleep another two or three people.
We want to feel safe, but we also want to race and
not get left behind. We're thinking that we would probably own
the boat for one to three years, then upgrade to something we
can take to Mexico. Should we look for something with a trailer
to reduce storage and maintenance costs? Do we need anything
bigger than 23 to 25 feet? Is smaller cheaper? Does having a
keel mean a boat is safer than a centerboard?
The recommendations we've received so far are for the Ranger
23, O'Day 22, Catalina 22 pop-top, and so forth. Can you help
steer us in the right direction?
2) What keelboat classes can you recommend? We need to keep learning,
as our current plans have us Ha-Ha-ing and cruising Mexico
for a year or so. We would like to learn on our own boat, but
other boat experience would also be nice. Again, we don't have
a lot of money to spend, as we're saving every penny for cruising.
Tradewinds has a Sail With A Friend course that covers keelboat,
coastal cruising, and bareboat courses for $1,000 each. Is that
a good option? Do different schools have different agendas? Is
certification worth it or should we just get out there an do
If any readers want to offer suggestions, they can reach us at:
Will - It was nice to get your letter
because it lets people know that yacht clubs aren't at all like
what Rodney Dangerfield 'visited' with his powerboat in the movie
Caddyshack. Most clubs are super casual and have terrific learn-to-sail
programs and, as you've learned, in many case don't require yacht
club membership. So it's always worth calling a club up and seeing
what they have to offer. When it comes to more advanced instruction,
we think all the sailing schools have excellent programs. But
you need to contact each one to find out who offers the program
that's most suitable for your needs.
We hesitate to be too specific about recommending boats, because
they are so much a matter of personal taste that it would be
like recommending a woman for you to marry. However, there are
some guidelines. First, you have to realize that the real cost
of a boat is the difference between what you pay for it and what
you sell it for. For novices, this means it's usually better
to buy a boat that's relatively well known - i.e. has a strong
class association - rather than a boat that's a relative white
elephant. You also want a boat that you're absolutely certain
can handle the rough conditions on San Francisco Bay. That would
once again tend to direct you to boats that have or have had
an active one-design racing fleet. Two boats that really fit
this bill are the Santana 22 - see the following letter - and
the Ranger 23, although the latter hasn't had an active one-design
racing class in many years. It would not apply to the Catalina
22, a wildly popular design that perhaps has a little bit more
accommodation than the Ranger or Santana, but one that isn't
quite as suited for the rigors of a summer afternoon on the Bay.
And trust us, those are the kinds of conditions you want to learn
to feel comfortable in.
The other thing that's great about boats with active one design
associations is that you get a built-in set of sailing friends
and experts on the boat you buy or are just thinking about buying.
For within those associations are folks who know everything there
is to know about those boats and how to get them to sail to their
potential. And these folks are more than happy to share that
expertise. If you even express an interest in something like
a Santana 22, the association will be happy to show you the boats,
take you out sailing, and line you up as crew for some races.
And as you've probably heard, there's no better way to learn
how to sail a boat well than one design racing in small boats.
One design associations also inevitably become gateways to a
much wider world of sailing. For after a month or two of racing
or cruising with the class, you'll no doubt be asked to crew
on some evening beer can races - which will open up a whole new
world of friends and sailing opportunities. It's no exaggeration
that a couple who really applies themselves to sailing this year
could easily be crewing across the Pacific on a 45-ft boat next
year. Assuming, of course, you're not axe murderers.
A final thing to keep in mind is that many older sailors really
like young couples who have big sailing dreams. So at some point
you might find a boat that really appeals to you, but is for
sale at two or three times your budget. If the boat has been
on the market for a long time, or if you spot one covered in
moss and looking particularly dejected in a marina, you - or
more preferably your girlfriend - should call the owner and tell
the truth. Specifically, she should say that you're a young couple
who have cruising dreams that are bigger than your budget. You'd
be surprised at how many older owners would be happy for their
boat to go cruising - even if they aren't on it. And therefore
would be willing to sell you their boat for a fraction of her
This is what happened with a friend of ours and his very young
daughter, who managed to acquire a lovely 27-ft Wylie Hawkfarm
for within your budget range. A Hawkfarm might not be the most
luxurious boat in the world, but they are near sisterships to
Wild Flower, the boat Skip Allan
has spent the last 25 years racing and cruising from California
to the South Pacific to Alaska with great success. A boat like
that would be perfect for a young couple looking to have a blast
cruising Mexico on an itty-bitty budget.
If you make the effort to become good and helpful sailors, it
won't be long before you realize that money is the least of the
obstacles in the path to fulfilling your sailing dreams. Good
luck! And don't hesitate to write for help if you seem to get
stuck along the way.
SANTANA 22 FLEET MEMBERS ARE EAGER TO HELP
I want to thank Michael Beers and the editor of Latitude
for their nice comments about Santana 22s on San Francisco Bay.
Yes indeed, the 'Tuna' remains a San Francisco Bay icon, and
yes, most of us - especially those in the racing fleet - sail
without reef points in the main.
Beers is right about the great feeling of a 22-ft boat designed
for San Francisco Bay's sailing conditions accelerating as it
reaches out into 25 knots of wind. It's truly exhilarating to
sail upwind in 25 knots, the full main sheeted in, the traveler
down, the boom vang cramming the mast forward, and the mainsheet
in one hand. Several generations of Bay sailors can attest to
that feeling of exhilaration, since the design has been around
for 40 years now, and since many of the Bay's best sailors cut
their sailing teeth in a Tuna. The class remains active in Yacht
Racing Association's One Design Classes Association, the Singlehanded
Sailing Society, and most other club races in Northern California.
Every year other new sailors are introduced to Bay sailing in
Santana 22s, both through local sailing programs and as a first
Bay boat for new sailors. The Santana 22 surely must be the most
economical boat of its type around.
Santana Fleet #1 welcomes visitors to its website at santana22.com.
There visitors will find several bulletin boards, info about
sailing Tunas on the Bay, and various other Tuna contacts. Fleet
#1 members are anxious to answer questions, help solve problems,
and mentor new Santana 22 sailors. Give us a try!
Former Fleet #1 Captain
Elaine, Hull #245
WE WERE VERY FRUSTRATED BY THE LOSSES
We were saddened to hear about the loss of the boats between
New Zealand and the South Pacific islands in mid-June. According
to reports on the internet, there were four boats lost and their
crews rescued. Some suffered pretty serious injuries, and lives
were turned upside down. We know a little about this kind of
thing, having narrowly escaped the infamous Queen's Birthday
Storm in 1994 in the very same area.
We are also very frustrated by these losses, as they simply didn't
need to happen. Putting aside the issue that cruising boats really
do need to be able to withstand 50-knot winds and 25-foot seas,
weather forecasting has also gotten much better and much more
widely available. In 1994, no one saw the Queen's Birthday Storm
developing until a couple of days before it hit. The signs were
there, but we didn't recognize them, the computer models didn't
pick them up, and the official forecasts weren't issued far enough
in advance to provide guidance for people taking off for the
islands. But things are different now.
For example, Bob McDavitt, a senior forecaster with New Zealand
Met, issued the following warning in his Weathergram issued on
June 5, a week before this year's storm hit:
". . . As this high cell moves off to the east, its back
end brings a zone of falling pressure into the tropics. This
is a traditional area of development and, yes, three out of five
computer models are picking (at this stage) that a low or two
will form at the back end of this High somewhere between New
Caledonia and the Kermadecs, deepening near 27°S, and causing
a gale easterly squash zone near 30°S to 33°S around
Fri -Sat 10-11. By this time, a High is expected to have formed
in S[outh] Tasman and S[outh] Island (following that second front),
so there'll be a squash zone of easterlies between the Low and
High, especially between 30° and 35°S from 160°w
to 170°e. Avoid."
Bob McDavitt's Weathergram is distributed by email from the Yotreps
website, and has also been available for years from our SailMail
Saildocs server, indexed under 'South Pacific' and 'Tropical'.
I suspect it is also widely discussed on the nets in the area.
We are also very fortunate to live in a country which makes the
very best of its weather forecasting available to the public
- for free. The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's)
GFS (Global Forecast System) computer model is one of the half-dozen
worldwide computer weather models run by major met centers around
the world. It is a monster, running for an hour on IBM's fastest
supercomputer, and is one of the best in the world. NOAA is the
only outfit which provides global model data without charge.
NOAA's output is grib (gridded-binary data) format, and because
there are 300 megabytes of data to sift through, it's definitely
inconvenient. So five years ago, we at SailMail put together
a grib-server as part of our Saildocs project to download data
from NOAA. The grib-server slices and dices the data to order,
delivering custom files formatted per each user request. So the
files - and areas covered - can be as small or large as one wants.
SailMail has had this operational for four years now.
Since NOAA did the hard part in creating the forecast model,
we at SailMail didn't think it was appropriate to charge the
sailing community to simply have the data made available. So
we provide the files for free as well as the viewer to look at
the files. We are fortunate that the Sailmail Association has
the resources to make this possible.
The accompanying graphic is the grib-forecast chart for June
14, 2005. This image is a 7-day forecast from Saildocs grib-file
that was available June 7, and is looking out a full week (the
'VT' box at the top is 'Valid Time', i.e. forecast-time of +168
hours). It's not a pretty picture, as it shows average winds
in the 40- to 48-knot range between New Zealand, which is at
the bottom of the graphic, and Fiji and Tonga, which are at the
top. The peak winds were forecast to be as much as 30% higher.
A seven-day forecast from Saildocs
Graphic Courtesy NOAA/Saildocs
This picture is one day from a file covering 40°S to 15°S,
which is Auckland to Fiji and Tonga, at 24-hour intervals out
to 192 hours (8 days). The total file size is 14K. This is easily
sent via Sailmail or Winlink radio-email, or via satphone (the
cost would be about $1) or any other email connection. Much more
detailed files can be obtained via email from any cybercafe prior
to departure. All paint the same ugly picture: a stationary high
over New Zealand, and a low developing in the tropics beginning
June 10, creating a squash zone for the waters between New Zealand
and the islands building through the 14th.
Seven-day forecasts aren't always accurate, but most are. This
one was. So were Bob McDavitt's comments on June 5.
Remember that grib-model data is raw computer data, the same
stuff that the forecasters use. So it needs to have 'human intelligence'
applied, and that's the job of each cruiser. Learn about the
weather, get all the data you can, and check everything. Weather
Jim & Sue Corenman
Heart of Gold, Schumacher 52
Friday Harbor, Washington
KEEP TAXPAYER-FINANCED WEATHER INFO FREE
As Latitude suggested in last month's Sightings, I
wrote Senators Feinstein and Boxer about S-786, the bill proposed
by Senator Santorum that would eliminate public access to much
of the information currently provided for free by the National
Weather Service. I've attached one of the letters - they're identical
except for the names - if anyone wants to use it as a template.
I strongly suggest that people write paper letters, as they're
given much more weight than calls and emails.
Senator Barbara Boxer
United States Senate
112 Hart Senate Office Building,
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Boxer:
I strongly oppose S-786, the bill proposed by Senator Santorum,
that would eliminate public access to much of the information
currently provided by the National Weather Service (NWS). Many
of us use this service, which is paid for with our tax dollars,
and those who cannot afford private services will be without
the service if this ill-conceived bill becomes law. Even those
who can afford it should not be forced to pay twice.
The NWS has done research and development, gathers data, and
hires forecasters to interpret the data - all at taxpayer expense.
Now, Senator Santorum's bill proposes that companies like AccuWeather,
which is one of his campaign contributors, be allowed to sell
us the information already gathered and interpreted by the NWS.
If passed into law, this bill would be one of the worst forms
of corporate welfare, allowing a private company to take services
already paid for by our tax dollars and sell those services back
to us. This would be nothing short of theft!
Furthermore, many of us rely on the NWS forecasts. Whether it's
merely to determine whether to carry an umbrella, how to dress
for going outside, or for more serious decisions like whether
we need to put on sunblock or whether it's safe to go sailing
on a particular day, loss of this service would be a detriment
to many people.
The NWS is the most popular federal agency, and we like it just
as it is. We don't want to be forced to either pay a private
company for these important services or be left without the important
services that NWS provides. Because we have paid for these services,
we are entitled to them without paying a second fee to a private
company that stands to make an illegitimate profit by getting
free weather gathering and interpreting services from NWS, then
selling us the information that it's merely distributing. Please
do everything you can to see that S-786 is defeated and please
let me know what you intend to do about this important issue.
Readers - It goes without saying that
Latitude encourages everyone
to write similar letters to their legislators to ask them to
fight the proposed bill.
A FOREIGNER LOOKS AT CRUISING IN THE U.S.
A couple of issues ago, the editor asked foreign sailors
to compare paperwork procedures for the United States with those
of Mexico. I'm a British citizen, and before sailing my 32-ft
catamaran Eclipse to Central America, we spent '03 sailing
from Florida to Maine and back. And by the time you read this,
we'll be in Alaska, sailing south to Oregon - albeit on someone
Before sailing to the U.S., I had sailed to more than 40 countries
- including the Soviet Union, South Africa, Brazil, most of the
West Indies, and so forth. However, I haven't actually visited
Mexico, as we bypassed it on our way south, calling at Belize
instead. The only reason we didn't stop in Mexico was because
of the old clearance procedures.
Although I haven't visited Mexico, I think I'm still in a good
position to make the requested comparison - especially as very
few foreign yachts visit the U.S. (In this context, I'm afraid
Canadians count as honorary Americans.) Being an Englishman,
I obviously have a passport - as do the majority of Europeans.
Although I have the right to travel freely throughout Europe
as a British citizen, I need a passport to prove I'm a European
resident - in the unlikely event that I'm ever asked. I must
say, it does seem very strange to us Europeans that U.S. citizens
think they can travel outside of the U.S. without proper travel
What are the requirements for foreigners sailing to the U.S.?
First off, foreign yachtsmen have to have a U.S. visa before
they can even enter the States. These aren't easy to get, particularly
now that the authorities consider every foreigner to be a terrorist.
(By the way, in the United Kingdom people are considered innocent
until proven guilty, while currently there are many British citizens
imprisoned in the U.S. without charge or trial. The latter explains
the strong feeling in the U.K. against travelling to the U.S.
despite the favorable exchange rate.)
A U.S. visa costs $100 and is good for one year. I got mine in
Barbados in December. Since I didn't arrive in Florida until
June, half of it had effectively been wasted. The U.S. embassy
in Barbados is one of the few that processes visas, so while
I was there I met people from many other West Indian islands
all queuing for their visa.
So the difficulty getting a visa is the first difference between
the U.S. and Mexico. How many Americans would travel to Mexico
if they first had to fly to a completely different country -
say Canada - just to get a visa for Mexico? I can honestly say
that it was easier to get a visa to sail in the USSR than to
get one to sail in the U.S.
When a foreign yacht arrives at her first U.S. port, she has
to get a Cruising Permit. These cost $37 and are good for one
year. It's about the same price as you'd pay for Panama or Guatemala.
However, it costs $5 to clear in to Honduras and $2 to clear
out. As far I as know, it's free in Europe. In any event, we
can't really complain about the cost.
So now we have our visas valid for 12 months and a cruising permit
valid for 12 months - meaning that we can sail in the U.S. for
12 months, right? Wrong! An alien is only allowed in the U.S.
for six months before they have to leave. No, it doesn't make
any sense to me either!
It's also a requirement that foreign cruisers check in - by phone
or in person - at regular intervals while cruising in the U.S.
I would phone in each time I got to a new state, and occasionally
in between. But to be honest, I could never work out when I was
supposed to check in. So I think the U.S. requirements for checking
in are about the same as for Mexico now.
As you all know, the U.S. Coast Guard now spends little of its
time saving lives, spending more of it on Homeland Security patrols.
You may be forgiven for thinking that would make the U.S. a safer
place, as that would be very wrong! At no time during my sail
from Florida to Maine and back was I ever boarded by any official
from Customs, Immigration, or the Coast Guard. Worse still, when
I phoned to check in - maybe 30 times total - I was only asked
my name and my boat name. I was never asked for my passport number,
my boat registration number, or how many people I had with me!
I flew back to the U.K. after my six months were up, but I left
my boat in Florida. Thus when I later flew back to the U.S.,
I had no apparent way of leaving the country. I asked the airport
immigration officer how I could eventually prove I had indeed
left the U.S., as I was going to sail to the Bahamas. He didn't
know, so we asked a supervisor. "Oh, just mail the exit
papers to us when you get back to the U.K." Ridiculous!
As I wasn't going back to the U.K. for a year, I sent them to
a friend in the U.K. who sent them to the U.S. In any event,
I reckon I could have easily smuggled goods and other foreigners
into the country, then disappeared in the U.S., and nobody would
have been any wiser.
It's all done differently in Europe. There we rely on spot-checks
and tip-offs to find people, and officials are out there patrolling
rather than pushing forms in offices. Surely getting out and
meeting people is more rewarding and also more effective. I remember
one time about 50 yachts had raced from Plymouth to Falmouth,
which is about a 40-mile daysail. When we arrived, a Custom launch
approached us to ask where we had come from. "We raced here
from Plymouth," we replied, "just like all these other
yachts." But that didn't stop the launch from going to every
other yacht and asking the same question.
Although Immigration procedures in Europe are easier than in
the U.S., there is a really big catch if you plan to sail to
Europe. We want your money! Remember that the European Union
now includes the whole of the Mediterranean and all of the Baltic
except Norway. So that's a big cruising ground. However, it's
all considered one country when it comes to import duties.
I know that you can bring a boat into Mexico for 10 years by
paying $50 for a Temporary Import Permit. But in the European
Union, we have VAT or Value Added Tax. In the U.K. it's currently
17.5%, while it's 25% in Denmark. We pay this tax on basically
everything we buy except food. So a $100,000 boat would cost
$117,000 in the U.K. and $125,000 in Denmark. The catch is that
if you stay in Europe for more than 18 months, you - despite
being Americans - have to pay VAT on what our officials - not
you - figure is the value of your boat.
I believe there are ways and means of extending that time - I
have an Australian friend who has been sailing in Europe for
eight years without paying VAT. But France, in particular, is
very strict on collecting VAT from yachts that have overstayed
the 18-month limit. If you feel you must pay the tax, I suggest
you go to the Azores, where I gather it's only 7.5%.
You will also find that cruising in Europe is very expensive.
Fuel is typically $6/gallon, while a cup of coffee is $5 - with
no refill. And I copied the following from a U.K. discussion
"Just considering bringing our little 16-ft cabin boat down
to watch the Round the Island race on Saturday, looking at launch
sites/car parks, such as Hamble Point at $50 U.S.! Thought about
launching on Friday night, but charges at Mercury for Friday
night are $3 U.S. a foot." Marina prices in the Bay Area
are far less than in the U.K.
Finally, if anyone wants to know more about Immigration and Customs
requirements, I suggest you visit www.noonsite.com, which lists the requirements
for around 190 countries. Good sailing to all, no matter what
country you're in!
Richard Woods, Plymouth, United Kingdom
Jetti Matzke, Oakland
Eclipse, 32-ft Woods Cat
Richard and Jetti - Very interesting
stuff, but we have a couple of corrections. First, while the
Coast Guard has been given tremendous new Homeland Security responsibilities,
that doesn't mean they've reduced their commitment to lifesaving.
We don't agree with all Coast Guard policy, but when it comes
to SAR, we think they've proven time and again that they are
the best in the world.
Yes, your boat can stay in the U.S. longer than you can. But
that's not unusual around the world. For instance, Americans
can keep their boats in Mexico for 10 years, but the longest
visa for an individual is one year.
We don't know of any Americans who've had a problem getting around
VAT being slapped on their boats. And now that the French and
Dutch have screwed the European Constitution pooch, a trip to
Turkey - a great place to cruise - is all that will be needed
to reset the 18-month VAT timer.
All foreign cultures will seem curious in some respects. It's
true that the U.S. treats some suspected terrorists as guilty
until proven innocent - but thanks to Napolean, our good friends
the French treat everybody like that all of the time. On the
other hand, we Americans wouldn't stand for European-style spot
checks to determine if someone was in violation of immigration
laws. We'd find that as offensive as asking a young Middle Eastern
man about to board an airplane with a ticking bundle to kindly
step aside for a security check. Above all we don't want to offend
anyone, so our security people are restricted to searching grannies,
infants and others who don't fit a risk profile.
Plus, we Americans don't have to go searching for our illegal
aliens. We know they're working - and working hard! - in every
restaurant, mini-mart, construction site, and farm in the country.
While we don't have any trouble finding them, we're just collectively
unsure if it's a good thing they're here or not.
All in all, it's a very interesting world, particularly at this
time in history. Enjoy!
ISN'T IT IRONIC?
If memory serves, didn't the Davidson
50 Great Fun - which sank last month off Pt. Arguello
during a delivery back to Northern California after the Coastal
Race - suffer an attempted scuttle in the late '80s? It seems
ironic that she would ultimately sink.
Alan - Nothing was ever proven, but Great Fun nearly
sank out by the Lightbucket under what many considered to have
been suspicious circumstances - such as all the winches having
been removed. Less than a month later, she was nearly lost off
Santa Cruz, once again in what some thought were curious circumstances.
FOR $30 IT'S CHEAP INSURANCE
I was saddened to read of the loss of the Davidson 50 Great
Fun. But I'm also always shocked at how many boats are only
discovered to be taking on water when the floorboards are awash.
By this time the source of the leak may be submerged, making
it very difficult to find.
On Jolly Mon, our previous boat, we mounted an inexpensive
bilge alarm similar to the one in the attached schematic. The
cutout switch is on the electrical panel, and is normally left
closed (on). It's there to turn off the alarm, because in a real
emergency the last thing you need is a headache from the alarm.
The float switch is mounted an inch or two higher than the bilge
pump float switch. That way the alarm goes on with very little
water in the bilge, and only if the pump can't keep up. The siren
can be an expensive 'marine' version or a basic $5 item like
Radio Shack part #273-079. The whole thing shouldn't take more
than a couple of hours to install, and the cost shouldn't be
more than $30. Cheap insurance.
We also used the float switch to turn on a large, emergency bilge
pump so we'd know when the big gun turned on.
The only time that the alarm sounded was when we were doing an
overnight motorsail from Zihuatanejo to Manzanillo. The bilge
pump had been turned off accidentally, and the drips from the
stuffing box had accumulated. You wouldn't believe how quickly
my head went into that bilge looking for the problem.
I DO GIVE THE COAST GUARD CREDIT
I was recently boarded by the Coast Guard for the first time
- and without any apparent reason. It happened at the mouth of
the Estuary on a Friday night about 9 p.m. as I was on my way
to Clipper Cove for the night. I've probably made the same trip
over 20 times in the last few years and have never been stopped.
It was clearly a training event for the junior member of the
boarding party, but I just figured that was how they did these
things. It was the first time I've had any contact with the Coast
Guard and, while I was surprised that it was my turn, I do have
to give them credit for being quick, to the point, and professional.
They did leave one of their big mag flashlights behind, though,
and it was kind of fun speaking to Coast Guard San Francisco
on 22A to ask if they wanted it back.
Interlude, Catalina 36
Marina Village Yacht Harbor, Alameda
ANCHORING IN THIN SAND OVER HARD CORAL
My wife and I recently chartered a 45-ft Island Packet in
the U.S. and British Virgins for 10 days. We had a wonderful
time with good friends, good rum and great sailing.
We were able to spend most nights tied to mooring balls or harbor
docks, but on three of the nights we had to anchor. Our first
attempt at anchoring was in Great Harbour at Jost Van Dyke. The
bottom looked sandy enough, but the anchor just wouldn't dig
in. After several attempts, I asked some locals on a dive boat
that was moored nearby why the anchor wasn't holding. They said
that the bottom was hard coral with a few inches of sand over
it, and that our anchor would never stick. They advised me to
let the anchor out until it touched bottom, and then to slowly
back up while letting out the entire amount of chain in the anchor
locker. They said that the weight of the anchor and chain would
hold us - and it did. We had to do it again at Marina Cay and
Johnson Bay on St. John. At Marina Cay we had a strong headwind
and a lot of surge, but the anchor held fine all night.
On all three occasions, I snorkeled down to check the anchor
after letting it out. I always found it lying on the bottom and
not dug in, just as the guys on the dive boat had said. So the
technique works, but I know that you and many of your readers
have chartered in the Virgin Islands, and I'm curious as to how
others have dealt with this situation.
Bob - When you've got just a few inches
of sand on top of a hard bottom, it can be almost impossible
to get a good grip. It's a problem at Great and Little Harbours
on Jost van Dyke and lots of other places in the sailing world.
For example, parts of Turkey can be difficult, so can Columbie
on St. Barth, and, to a lesser extent, Punta Mita on Banderas
Bay. Sometimes you're faced with the choice of having to either
rely almost entirely on the weight of your anchor and rode to
keep you in place or having to leave for another anchorage.
When we had Profligate in St.
Barth for the winter two seasons ago, we reanchored frequently,
and we usually dove on the hook because the water was so warm
and clear. It was a real education. For one thing, if you're
only anchored in 10 to 15 feet of water, and you've got a good-sized
chain, you don't even need an anchor in up to about 12 knots
of wind. We know, because in such conditions our chain never
pulled tight and our anchor was often off at a 90 degree angle.
So yeah, the weight-only 'technique' works - but with some major
limitations. The biggest limitation is that if the wind blows
hard enough to overcome the weight of the anchor and chain and
their friction on the bottom, there's nothing to keep your boat
in place. So when you use this 'technique', you're never more
than one good squall from being a runaway charterboat. This means
that you and your crew have to be prepared to bail out of the
anchorage at any time - even in the middle of the night - to
perhaps motor in circles until things settle down. If it's a
crowded anchorage - as many of them are in the Virgins - and
if you've got a lot of chain out, it could be a real challenge
to get out of the anchorage without hitting any boats, especially
as several of them have probably dragged, too.
The other thing we learned from diving on Profligate's
hook in St. Barth is that, when the wind blows hard, it puts
a tremendous strain on the chain and anchor. In fact, one day
when it was blowing about 25 knots, we spent about an hour with
a snorkel watching how the chain swung from side to side and
was jerked in the gusts. We can't do much about our default anchor,
as it's the biggest Fortress they make, but when it comes time
to replace our chain, we think we'll go up a size and add another
100 feet in length. It would allow us to sleep more soundly.
ðTHE ALA WAI SHOULD BE A WORLD CLASS FACILITY
We have lived in Hawaii since the mid '60s and have had a
sailboat from the early '80s until about four years ago. Initially,
we were partners in a modified Cal Cruising 36, and then in '86
we purchased Apathy, a new Catalina 34. We kept both boats at
the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor and sailed a lot among the Hawaiian
Islands, except for the Big Island. We moved from Oahu to Kauai
in '94 when I retired from the FAA. We kept Apathy for a while
longer, bringing her to Hanalei Bay two or three times, but ultimately
we decided to sell as we were only using her as a motel in Honolulu.
We never had a slip on Kauai, and, in my opinion, the sailing
isn't very good here.
In the '80s, I served on something called the Ala Wai Small Boat
Harbor Advisory Committee. At the time it was chaired by the
venerable sailor, writer and world traveler, Earl Hinz. But what
a waste of time! Initially the State Harbors Division controlled
the Small Boat Harbors. We lobbied to get them transferred to
the Department of Land & Natural Resources. It made sense
to us, as Land & Natural Resources also controlled the state
parks and other recreational facilities. Eventually they were
transferred, but nothing changed, and the same bureaucrats moved
with the function. I finally gave up when Hinz moved to Las Vegas,
but I understand the committee or its successor may still function.
The goal of our committee was to try to communicate with the
state people and express our concerns about the harbor and its
operation. A lot has been written about it in Latitude,
and I'd like to share my opinions.
First, the Ala Wai - even with its cheap slip rates - was the
cash cow for the whole program, as it subsidized the Small Boat
Harbors on the neighbor islands. This kind of arrangement seems
common to the political system in Hawaii. Attempts were made
to privatize the Ala Wai and also to raise the slip fees - but
this was always fought against by the people in the slips. But,
in my opinion, the failure to raise slip rates is largely responsible
for the Ala Wai's current state of disrepair.
A few years ago, the state proposed allowing commercial boats
to operate from the Ala Wai. This was apparently a pet project
of then-Governor Ben Cayetano. He was not happy with the slip
holders opposing this proposal. Cayetano has historically been
a very vindictive person when he hasn't gotten his way. My suspicion
is that, as a result of the slip holders' opposition, he just
told his people to let the Ala Wai deteriorate.
My old floating F Dock is gone, as it - like quite a few of the
fixed concrete dock positions - was condemned as being unsafe.
In the past, feeble attempts had been made to repair the docks.
These were done by politically connected contractors, and as
such there seemed to be little or no quality control. Currently,
G Dock has been replaced, and they are doing something in the
old F Dock position - although I'm not sure what. But they may
be installing used dock components provided by the Waikiki YC.
In any case, it's very sad to see what's potentially such a beautiful
facility in such a deteriorated state. I have not been involved
lately, and I am not sure what the current Governor and her administration's
position is on the Ala Wai, but hopefully it can one day become
the world class facility that it deserves to be.
John H. Gordon
Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii
John - We share your frustration. The
Ala Wai could and should be a jewel of Honolulu, and indeed be
one of the great marinas of the world. That it's in such disrepair
and so poorly serves the mariners and the people of Honolulu
can only be attributed to decades of mismanagement on the part
of the state. We bet you a nickel that the state couldn't break
even on a shave ice stand even if they granted themselves a monopoly
Some of the management mistakes are so elementary that it's ridiculous.
It doesn't take a genius to know that it makes no sense for a
marina in one of the most expensive places in the world to be
charging some of the lowest slip fees in the world. Small wonder
it's falling apart and hasn't seen an improvement since prior
to the invention of the fiberglass boat. We think the Ala Wai
ought to be privatized right now. The scary thing for Hawaii
taxpayers is that the rest of their state government has probably
been run just as foolishly and inefficiently as the Ala Wai.
STICKS AND STONES
After spending a good number of
years and a fair sum of money, the wife and I were able to cut
the lines and go cruising. As those who have done it know, it's
not cheap and takes a firm budget to stay out there. And you
get called some funny things.
The first time I heard a term that seemed to strike me the wrong
way was at the first marina we pulled into. Having sold our home
and spent our life savings on a boat and the cruising lifestyle,
the harbormaster called me a "transient!" What gall,
I thought to myself. Then I figured out that's what they call
all cruisers passing through.
After taking several months to get used to that term, we heard
another one. One the way back up from Mexico, we stopped at Ventura,
where I went to Beacon Marine to buy a few things. After browsing
through the goodies, I approached the register. The man at the
counter asked if I had an account with them. When I
said, "No," he asked me to step over to the next register
- the one that was used for "No-Accounts."
So here we are, living in our boat, loving the lifestyle, but
not sure if we like the stigma of being "no-account transients."
Randy & Ramona Garrett
Coos Bay, Oregon
Randy - It's ironic that in a letter
complaining about the terms being used to describe you, you refer
to the woman in your life as "the wife." Were you to
say that out loud in Northern California, you might get told
off by any number of women, who would forcefully explain that
such a form of reference objectifies and dehumanizes the woman
to whom you are married.
Not to be endlessly nitpicking, but we also can't resist a remark
on your "cruising isn't cheap" comment. We know people
who cruise on less than San Francisco's recently reduced welfare
payments, and we also know people who couldn't cruise for less
than $10,000 a month. It's all in how you do it. Curiously, the
people who do it on less money often seem to have more fun.
I HAD ALWAYS HOPED TO SEE HER AGAIN
Back in February, you reported
on the sinking of the Newporter 40 ketch Maxine. I was
wondering how the couple who owned it are doing? I am a prior
owner of that wonderful boat and was sorry to hear of her sinking.
Many in Long Beach may remember her from back in the '70s and
'80s when she sailed around Southern California and Mexico under
the name Holly Ann. I had always hoped that I would see
her again, but alas.
Tommy - At last report, Greg and Mai -
they didn't want their last names revealed - reported they'd
given up the cruising life, had bought an RV, and have become
road warriors. They didn't seem to have any lasting injuries.
It's not been a good year for Newporter 40 ketches. You may have
read in last month's edition that William Peterson's Newporter
40 Kamera was abandoned some 800 miles from California
on a passage from Panama that would have marked the end of a
nine-year circumnavigation. Dismasted and out in the middle of
nowhere, Peterson felt he had no choice but to abandon her.
We did the Long Beach YC's Long Beach to Cabo to La Paz Race
in '81, and, if we remember correctly, there was a Newporter
40 entered. We wonder if she might have been Holly Ann?
IT'S TIME TO PASS SAILING ALONG TO MY BOYS
I saw your email link in the June 22 'Lectronic Latitude
wanting to hear from people planning on making this year's Ha-Ha.
You can add us to your list.
My family of four - Juli and the boys, Jake, 11 in October, Zack,
8, and I, plan on making it down to San Diego from Portland for
the event. It will be the kickoff of our planned 15-month sail
down the coast to Mexico, maybe Central America and Ecuador,
then across to the Marquesas, then back across the equator in
November to start our trek back to Oregon.
Our Capaz is a custom Perry 48 center cockpit cutter with
a pilothouse. She's 10 years old, and we bought her last December
just for the voyage.
I grew up racing on San Francisco Bay, racing in MORA, and doing
coastal cruising in the late '60s through the '80s. I haven't
sailed consistently since moving to Portland in '85. Having grown
up sailing on San Francisco Bay, sailing on the Columbia River
seems pretty boring. But it's time to pass sailing along to my
boys - in a big way!
We'd love to hear of other families with kids doing the Ha-Ha
Readers - For information on the coordinator
of 'kid' boats in this fall's Baja Ha-Ha, see this month's Cruise
CAN YOU MENTION MY WIFE, AMY, TOO?
I just got the July Latitude
and I noticed that our boat Sandpiper is listed on page
114 as being one of the entries in the Ha-Ha. Could you please
add my wife Amy's name as being one of the owners of the boat?
She's freaking out that maybe I'll go without her or thinks I'm
trying to send her a message that maybe she shouldn't go.
Tom - What an unfortunate omission on
your part! Ladies, give us some guidance here, what's the appropriate
penalty for such a blunder?
As for you, Amy, we wouldn't worry at all, as we're certain it
was just a normal oversight on the part of a typically insensitive
male. Sort of like the time we didn't think we had to get a Mother's
Day present for our ex-wife. Our man-type thinking was that,
since it wasn't Step-Mother's Day, a present wasn't required.
According to women that we know, we were wrong.
TIPS FOR FOLKS HEADED ON THE HA-HA
We sailed our Irwin 37 center-cockpit sloop Luna Sea in
the '03 Ha-Ha and had the time of our lives! We ultimately stayed
in Mexico for two seasons, putting our boat on the hard in San
Carlos for the summer of '04. Then, after cruising as far south
as Barra de Navidad, we beat it back to the Bay Area, where we
now have the boat in a slip in Vallejo.
We're just writing to recommend that anyone heading south this
year do it as part of the Ha-Ha. Doing it gave us the chance
to meet a lot of wonderful people, and we felt safer being part
of a pod of cruisers. Of course, the Ha-Ha reminds everyone the
event is not an offshore hand-holding service.
Having put some 6,500 miles on our trusty Luna Sea, she's
now up for sale. We want to move up to a 45-footer. Nonetheless,
if I can find the time, I'm going to try to sail on a Ha-Ha boat
as crew this fall.
You might also get a letter from our friend Allen on Just
Us 2, who did the Baja Bash with us and some other boats.
We all got hit with hurricane-force winds at Cedros Island north
of the village. We were hiding behind the 1,900-ft mountain,
but the wind blowing 65 knots on the other side sent katabatic
winds down the canyons toward us with some gusts over 100 knots.
Some of the people in the village said they'd never seen wind
like that before.
Our tip for new cruisers headed to Mexico is to carry at least
three anchors. We had a 45 CQR, 35 CQR and 25 Danforth - and
lots of chain. If we had to do it over again, we'd have gone
for one heavier-than-recommended anchor, plus 300 feet of chain,
plus 100 feet of nylon rode. As it was, we lost our 45 pounder
and all our chain at La Cruz. The problem was that we let out
all 100 feet of our chain, then about 40 feet more of nylon.
Well, the nylon chaffed through on something, and we lost our
big anchor and chain rode.
Next time we'd also bring more spares of all kinds: toilet kits,
water pumps, an alternator, a regulator, hoses, filters, and
so forth. We had a hell of a time getting water pumps. Fortunately,
we found a pump rebuilder in La Paz who had all of the parts
for our Perkins 4-108 raw and freshwater pumps. He had them rebuilt
in two hours and we were off.
I, Tim, hope to see everyone on the Ha-Ha this year. Judy, The
Admiral, has to work!
Tim Harmon, Deck Ape
Julie Duffy, the Admiral
Luna Sea, Irwin 37
Readers - Thanks for the tips and kind
words about the Ha-Ha.
HOW TO SIGN UP FOR HA-HA
We've been all the way to New Zealand and back up the East Coast.
Now we'd like to return to Mexico with the Baja Ha-Ha group.
How do we find out about it?
Sylvia & John Parr, and Nube the cat
Sylvia and John - A basic description
of the Ha-Ha and instructions on how to get an entry packet has
appeared in every Sightings section since the May issue - but
we're happy to repeat it: Send an $18 check and a 10"x13"
self-addressed envelope to Baja Ha-Ha, Inc, 21 Apollo Road, Tiburon,
GETTING CHEAP PHONE SERVICE IN MEXICO
We've read many letters from cruisers
in Mexico who have struggled with the issue of phone service.
We had this problem also when we began cruising Mexico, but it
was solved when we found the right cell phone company and the
right cell phone.
Cingular has a plan called Cingular North America that gives
you cell phone service throughout Canada, the U.S. and Mexico
as part of your basic monthly charge. The last time we checked,
the service was about $60 per month for 450 minutes of air time
and $70 per month for 850 minutes of air time. And it has rollover
minutes. There are also plans with more minutes. Making a call
within Mexico, from Mexico to the U.S., or from the U.S. to Mexico
uses your plan minutes with no other fees. And you have a U.S.
number so friends can call you from the U.S. without incurring
The North America plan requires that you have a GSM phone.
(We made sure that we got a GSM phone that was 'unlocked' so
it could be used in other parts of the world as well.) This plan
provided us with cell phone service anywhere in Mexico where
there was Telcel service. We've had service in every medium and
large city from Tijuana to Huatulco, and also in many small towns
and rural areas.
We have taken time off from cruising to return home in the summer,
and our phone plan was perfect for this, as the same service
works in the U.S. and in Mexico with no interruption and no need
to contact the provider. (We initially had what was purported
to be similar service from Verizon, but our phone never worked
in Mexico. Maybe they have fixed their problems, but they were
so uncooperative that we would never suggest anyone try Verizon.)
Now we have left Mexico and our boat is in El Salvador. Because
we have an 'unlocked' GSM phone, we were able to remove the Cingular
chip from the phone and purchase a chip and prepaid minutes from
a cell phone company in El Salvador at reasonable rates. When
we returned to the U.S., we simply replaced the Cingular chip
and had their service again. (This was practical for us because
we were in EL Salvador for only a short time before leaving our
boat for the summer. After the summer we will cancel Cingular
and will rely on local service as we continue cruising.)
We're keeping our fingers crossed that Cingular will come up
with a Central America plan. For Mexico, we recommend Cingular's
North America plan without hesitation. If you talk to Cingular,
however, you may speak with someone who has never heard of the
North America plan. It takes some persistence to find this plan
which, when we got it, wasn't included on their website and wasn't
well publicized - although they often have brochures for it in
Portia Igarashi & Steve Stecher
Dream Caper, Venezia 42 Catamaran
San Rafael / El Salvador
Portia and Steve - Funny about the timing
of your letter. We just called Cingular a few days ago, and they
insisted that they no longer offer the North America Plan. As
they are a cellphone service provider, we're not sure we believe
them and/or that they know what they're talking about. Anyway,
for about $4/month extra to our regular plan, they claim we can
now call the States from anywhere in Mexico for six cents a minute.
If this is really true, it would be an excellent deal, because
some street phones down there still charge you about $6/minute
for the same call. The bandits!
ANY THOUGHTS ON OUR RETIREMENT CRUISE?
My wife and I have decided to put
Moon-Glade, our beloved Wauqueiz 33, up for sale here
in the Bay Area. As soon as she's sold, we'll replace her with
a larger boat, which we plan to purchase here on the East Coast
where we presently live. We only moved here to Washington, D.C.
two years ago from San Jose because of my job with Homeland Security.
We will be retiring in July 2007. At that time we will sell our
East Coast assets and head back to the West Coast by boat via
the Panama Canal. Another sailing couple will be retiring with
us at the same time, and plan to accompany us on this trip. We
will all be going to the Annapolis Boat Show in October to start
looking for our new boat.
As you can imagine, the anticipation of this trip is causing
the days to drag for all of us. We would appreciate any advice
you can give us on cruising guides, routes, and so forth for
this kind of trip. We're not sure about taking the ICW down to
Florida, as it sounds shallow and crowded - yet kinda fun. Or,
maybe we'll buy our new boat in Florida. Any thoughts?
Randy & Ellen Hasness
Randy and Ellen - It's hard for us to
give you much advice without knowing a little bit more about
your interests, ages and how much sailing you want to do. But
if we were retiring on the East Coast in July of '07, here's
what we'd do:
We'd head up to the Northeast for a last opportunity in those
waters. After all, you don't want to miss Maine, do you? Come
November, we'd enter the West Marine Caribbean 1500 Rally from
Virginia to Tortola. We'd spend at least the next two or three
years cruising various parts of the Caribbean. During the height
of the hurricane and humidity season in the late fall, we'd fly
to Europe for some land travelling just to make sure we didn't
want to take our boat to the Med for a couple of years before
heading to the West Coast. You know, with a little luck it's
almost all downwind to Europe, and it's almost always all downwind
coming back across the Atlantic. The next fall we'd take a couple
of months to explore South America by land and air.
If we ultimately decided against the Med, when we got to Panama
we'd do some serious thinking about the South Pacific. After
all, we could have a wonderful six-month cruise across the Pacific
before having to duck into New Zealand to escape tropical cyclones
in the South Pacific. At that point, it might make sense to ship
the boat to the Pacific Northwest to do those wonderful waters.
Of course, with Australia so close, how could we forgo a cruise
up the east coast to the Great Barrier Reef? But geez, by that
time we'd be too close to Indonesia and Thailand to pass them
up. So ultimately we'd ship the boat to the Pacific Northwest
from Singapore. Then, in about 2015, we'd sail down the West
Coast to San Francisco . . . for a few weeks of Bay sailing .
. . before heading to San Diego just in time to participate in
Baja Ha-Ha 22.
All right, all right, maybe that's a little too ambitious for
most people, but it's how our mind works. If you have more modest
cruising dreams, you could obviously eliminate some parts of
our itinerary. But no matter what, if we were retired, we wouldn't
bring a boat from the East Coast to the West Coast without spending
at least a full season in the glorious waters of various parts
of the Caribbean. It's got a lot more going for it for sailors
than does the ICW, Florida, or the Bahamas. So please, don't
settle for pretty good cruising when you can enjoy the best!
A SOLO, NONSTOP LAP VIA THE NW PASSAGE
In 1980, my wife Pip and I crewed
up from New Zealand to Hawaii aboard the 50-ft steel yacht Astral
Rose, which was owned by Graeme Kendall, another Kiwi. Graeme
and crew continued their Pacific loop home via the western Pacific,
while we settled here in San Francisco.
Many years have passed, but now Graeme has a new boat, Astral
Express, and has headed off from Auckland to do a singlehanded
non-stop circumnavigation via the Northwest Passage. Check out
his website: www.astralexpress.com.
He's been out 10 weeks now, and has progressed westward to the
north of Australia. After briefly taking shelter just east of
Port Elizabeth, he turned the corner and is now heading northward
toward St. Helena Island in the South Atlantic. So far he's called
here by phone a couple of times and seems to be in fine shape.
We thought his efforts might be worth mentioning in Latitude.
P.S. I'm a longtime cover-to-cover reader of Latitude
and have developed a pattern of monthly insomnia until all the
pages of the most recent issue have been read.
Evan - We're glad you mentioned it.
Although 25 years have passed since he last came through, we
wouldn't be surprised if some cruisers and West Coast sailors
still remember him. As for the Northwest Passage itself, does
anyone know if it's been affected one way or the other by 'global
PERHAPS IT WAS A BASKING OR WHALE SHARK
Regarding Suzanne and John Pew's
suggestion that the Rawson 30 they were aboard was attacked by
sick or mating dolphins, damaging the rudder, we'd like to propose
another possible explanation for the Sea of Cortez incident.
We experienced rudder damage to our boat in November of 2002
when our J/130 Argonauta was brought to a virtual halt
after we'd been doing 8 knots about 30 miles from New Zealand
on a passage from Tonga. As Howard rushed below to see if we
were taking on water, I rushed on deck to try to see what we'd
hit. There was great swirling in the water, and I just caught
sight of a large tail fin - which I later identified as that
of a basking shark, which is a coastal pelagic species found
throughout the world's arctic and temperate waters. These creatures
can reach 40 feet in length and swim slowly at the water's surface.
The force of the impact sheared a bracket off our autopilot,
which jammed our rudder to one side, so we effectively had no
steering. The impact was so strong that it also bent a 1-inch
pipe that acts as a rudder stop. Fortunately, Howard was able
to disconnect the bracket and free the rudder so that we could
get into Opua. During a later haulout, we found that the upper
rudder bearing had been shattered.
In May of '77, shortly after we left Cabo San Lucas for the Marquesas
aboard our S&S 40 Gamin, we had a similar encounter.
The force of that collision knocked the tiller out of Howard's
hand. We were able to identify the perpetrator as being a very
large whale shark. It wasn't until we were able to haul out in
Papeete that we were able to straighten the bent trailing edge
of our rudder.
As such, I suggest that the presence of the dolphins was coincidental
to there being another docile sea creature at hand, possibly
a basking shark or a whale shark. Our only direct contact with
dolphins to date has been to have them rub their backs on our
bow as they play in our bow wave.
P.S. Thanks for the great magazine.
Susan & Howard Wormsley
Susan and Howard - Thanks for the kind
words - and the other possible explanations for the creature
that collided with the Rawson 30. For all we know, it could have
been a big manta ray. In '98, we were motoring Profligate at 10 knots in Banderas Bay not far
from Yelapa, when there was suddenly a tremendous collision that
almost brought the cat to a halt. One of the daggerboards was
jammed so far back into the crash box that it remained impaled
for the entire Baja Bash until we got to Santa Barbara. In our
case there was no question we'd hit a large manta ray. Why that
might have happened remains a mystery to us.
GETTING FROM COSTA RICA TO ENGLAND
My father, who lives in Costa Rica,
has asked me to help him find passage to England on a boat this
August. We thought he might be able to board in Panama on or
near the Canal. He used to sail as a boy in the South of England,
but is now willing to travel on any kind - within reason, of
course - of boat. Is there any information that you can give
me that might make my search easier? Any help is greatly appreciated!
Vanessa - We have bad news for you.
If you've been following the news, you know that this is hurricane
season - and a very busy one, too - in the Atlantic and Caribbean.
As such, not very many smart skippers will be heading north or
east from Panama until the season is over on December 1. Your
father may be able to catch a ride leaving the Canal in December,
but we think he'd regret it. The 1,200-mile trip to the Eastern
Caribbean at that time of year is one of the nastiest in the
world of sailing. It's best done by 21-year-olds who think there
are hundreds of horny young folks waiting for them on the beaches
of St. Martin. But even if your dad did make it to St. Martin
or Antigua, he'd still have to wait until April or May for a
passage to England, because nobody with any respect for life
would try to sail across the North Atlantic in the winter. Sorry.
THE CONVERSATION MUST HAVE BEEN COLORFUL
Latitude 38 only gets better and better, and your first-time
color spreads in the printed version are stunning.
Last month I raced singlehanded in the In-The-Bay Race, and Latitude's
spy-on-the-Bay caught me in the background of the photo of Borderline
that was published - in color - on page 100 of the July issue.
My Ragtime! is a dark blue J/92 with a white bottom, not
to be confused with Frank Slootman's light blue J/90 that appeared
in larger form in color on the same page. I would have been much
closer in the Borderline photos, but I was OCS (on course side)
at the starting gun and had to restart. If you are going through
that batch of photos and spot any good ones of my boat, I'd probably
By the way, I sailed alongside Profligate for much of
the lighter part of the race. The Wanderer and Doña de
Mallorca, who were doublehanding, were putting on a demonstration
of how to set and douse their screacher. And getting a real workout
in the process. I couldn't quite hear the conversation between
helmsman and crew, but I have a hunch it was more colorful than
And speaking of color, the new color photos are bringing out
the visual appeal of sailing and the surroundings like nothing
else. Thanks for taking that next step, it was really worth it!
Bob - Thanks for the nice words about
the color photos. We were very happy with them, but believe we
can do even better in the future.
Actually, there was no dedicated Latitude
photographer out for the In-The-Bay Race. The Wanderer managed
to fire off about 150 photos between steering, yelling at the
foredeck crew, raising and lowering headsail halyards, and trimming
the main. It's much easier than it sounds.
Certainly the conversation was colorful between the Wanderer
and de Mallorca. No matter if they are discussing what to have
for dinner or screwing up two screacher sets in a row, their
conversations are always colorful. But it means nothing, for
you won't find two people who love doublehanding more.
DISPOSING OF FLARES
How do I dispose of the multitude of expired offshore flares
I have accumulated over a decade of yacht racing? I would prefer
a safe and environment-friendly manner.
Shepard - We understand that some fire
stations accept out-of-date flares. Does anyone out there have
IT'S A MATTER OF PRIORITIES
A very handy email feature for
on land but even more so on a boat is some sort of way to preview
the incoming messages. Ideally, you'd be able to preview how
big they are and then download just the ones you select as opposed
to an automatic download of all of them. Here's an example of
why, based on my receiving email on a boat in Corsica. My inbox
1) Interior photos of your boat for upcoming article - 5 MB
2) Spreadsheet of your company's last Q1 results - 2 MB
3) Urgent - Your swimming pool is leaking, please review and
advise - 2KB
Since I didn't have selective download - or whatever it's called
- it took us a lot of time to get to the most important message
at the time, #3.
As Jim Corenman said, you want to be in control of your communications,
and a tool like that would really help.
P.S. Latitude 38 only gets better and better - the color
spreads in the printed version were stunning.
Cal 34, Impetuous
MORE TOILET PAPER, PLEASE
Blair Grinols' enthusiastic support
for his 'toilet paper' oil filter system parallels my own experience.
We shared the same introduction to the Frantz oil filter, which
uses a roll of toilet paper as the filter element. My dad had
me install one of those systems in a 6-cylinder Chevy back in
'63. It kept the oil in 'clean as new' condition, and I think
we only changed the oil once a year. The filter element - toilet
paper - does absorb a good deal of the oil, so you do add some
new oil every time you replace the toilet paper in the cannister.
The Frantz oil filter is still available online. I just checked
it out, and the system is essentially the same as it was back
then. I've also heard that some oil experts believed that the
constant heavy duty filtration from the dense, toilet paper 'cartridges'
removed - or at least reduced - the all-important oil additives.
But as far as I know, neither the automotive industry nor Frantz
has performed any independent long-term tests. But Blair's current,
real-time experience with it speaks for itself!
EVEN IF OIL LOOKS NEW, IT MAY NOT BE GOOD
As I designed and developed internal combustion engines for
many years, I found the stories about toilet paper oil filters
in your May and June issues quite interesting. I have investigated
such filters, and have even used one. I would like to add the
Such toilet paper oil filters are bypass type filters. They are
in addition to the 'full-flow' engine oil filter - which filters
all the oil all the time that is supplied pumped from the oil
pump to the engine oil gallery. The optional bypass filter taps
off a small amount of oil from the pump, filters it, and returns
it to the sump. Eventually, of course, all the oil will have
passed through the bypass filter.
Because of the toilet paper's ability to remove submicron size
particles, it does a fine job of particulate removal. But because
of the well-known absorbent properties of toilet paper, this
medium also removes water - and with it some acids as well as
fine sludge. So much for the good news.
However, because of the aforementioned positive properties, the
toilet paper filter also removes some of the useful additives
- dispersants, inhibitors, etc. - that are blended into modern
engine oils. So just because a user's oil appears as clear as
when it was new after thousands of hours of use isn't an indication
of overall quality. Fortunately, new oil is added to the engine
every time a 'full' toilet roll is removed and replaced with
a fresh one. (By the way, I found it difficult to determine when
it was time to replace the roll of toilet paper.) Such a full
roll contains approximately one quart of oil. The added new oil
replenishes at least some of the lost additives.
As for the claim that the toilet paper filter makes the oil last
"indefinitely," just don't count the quart you add
with every new roll!
P.S. I really like your magazine and the helpful contributions
from your readers.
MY BELOVED TILLERMASTER IS BROKEN
I live down here in San Diego, and can't find anybody to
repair my Tillermaster autopilot. Is there anyone up north who
can fix my beloved 'Mr. Data'? As I am disabled, I cannot singlehand
my beloved Tjuringa without him/it. The problem is electronic.
It is boxed & ready to go. Can anybody help?
Mission Bay, San Diego