FATHER OF THE 'LIGHTHOUSE IN THE SKY'
My father, Ivan A. Getting, is heralded
as being 'the father' of GPS. In your November '03 issue, you
published a note about his death. In the January '04 issue, you
raised the issue of charging people in other countries for the
use of GPS. I don't recall my father ever expressing such an
opinion, and didn't respond at the time - though my feeling was
that sometimes it's a damn good thing to just make the world
better for everyone possible.
Subsequently, a new GPS satellite was dedicated
to my father, and on it was a plaque with an inscription quoting
his favorite description of GPS: "Lighthouses in the sky
serving all mankind." I guess my old man and I saw eye to
eye on this one.
GPS was developed by the military, for
the military. They pay for it and it serves their needs admirably.
I'm happy to count it as an extra benefit that people all over
the world benefit tremendously as well. It serves to unify all
of us in many ways, ways beyond having a self-consistent system
of navigation and timekeeping over the entire planet. It makes
me proud that our country provides this service to the world.
Ivan C. Getting, (son of Ivan A. Getting)
University of Colorado
Ivan - Sure the U.S. military paid for
GPS, but you can't gloss over the fact that the military's only
source of money is the U.S. taxpayer. So it was really taxpayers
who paid for GPS.
It's reasonably fine with us that individual foreign fishermen
and other mariners - whose lives have been convenienced and sometimes
saved by 'the lighthouse in the sky' - get a free GPS ride courtesy
of the U.S. taxpayer. Indeed, perhaps every GPS unit sold should
be required to have a label that reads "This humanitarian
service is graciously provided at no charge by the wonderful
citizens of the United States."
What we object to is the many large
international corporations and foreign governments that benefit
tremendously from our GPS technology. Is it so wrong to ask those
who profit so much from the system to chip in a little for the
cost? We're sure you know that the shaky European Union has long
been trying to set up their own Galileo GPS system, but will
be lucky to be get it up and running by 2008. The primary obstacle
to becoming operational is that many of the E.U. countries can't
see the point of having to shell out $4.5 billion for their own
system when the U.S. taxpayers provide them with premiere GPS
So as we said, if the English and Europeans
are going to charge us Americans for riding on their Undergrounds,
Metros, and so forth, we should charge them for using our GPS.
WE CAN EXPLAIN WHY OUR JIB WAS BACKED
How cool is it that our boat Fetchin'
Ketch should end up on the January cover of Latitude 38. Of course, my wife
and I are probably the only two who would recognize her as our
boat, but we'll take what we can get!
In case anyone who looked closely at the
photo is wondering what we are doing with our jib backed, the
answer is simple - we hove to waiting for the container ship
to pass so we could cross the channel. Knowing how to easily
and safely heave to is not just a skill for heavy weather in
the ocean, it comes in handy in the Bay whenever you might want
to just sit and wait for a bit without taking sail down. We all
want to know how to make our boats go as fast as we can, of course,
but sometimes the best thing to do is stop and wait.
In order to heave to on our boat, we just
back the jib, ease the main, harden the mizzen, and put the helm
to leeward. We come to nearly a complete stop in a very short
period of time. By easing the mizzen and putting the helm to
windward, the boat spins back on course. For many situations,
from getting a quick bite to eat to waiting to cross a channel,
this approach is worth knowing and practicing on your boat.
Fetchin' Ketch, Northstar 80/20
Bill - The fact that your jib was backed
was almost enough to get the photo eliminated from consideration
for the cover. Thanks to your helpful explanation about how and
why to heave to, we're glad we went ahead and ran it.
WE'D LIKE TO TAKE THEM SAILING
We read your articles on the Silverwood
family's loss of their San Diego-based Lagoon 55 catamaran Emerald
Jane in French Polynesia. We recently purchased a catamaran
that we base out of San Diego. If they want, we'd be delighted
to take them sailing sometime aboard our Fountaine-Pajot 38,
Limerick. They can contact us by
Bill & Sue Houlihan
SECTOR SAN FRANCISCO COAST WATCH
First, I want to say, "Great publication!"
I read almost everything - much of it very enviously - every
month except for the race results. My family is the proud and
hopeful owners of a very beat-up Rawson 30 that someday we hope
to have sailing around the Bay.
I read Mike Miller's January
letter saying that the Coast Guard reports had always been
his favorite part of Latitude, and your editorial response
that you wish the Coast Guard still provided them.
For the record, Group San Francisco is now Sector San Francisco,
and it now includes the former Group, Marine Safety Office, and
Vessel Traffic Service under one command. And if you folks at
Latitude could make space for them, we would be happy
to resume the Coast Watch reports. Much like captains Larry Hall
and Tim Sullivan did previously, I envision a synopsis of several
of the more interesting cases of the past month. They could be
interesting because a life or lives were saved, because of lessons
learned, or because of the mere entertainment value.
In addition, I'd like to see the Coast
Guard develop a cooperative rather than adversarial relationship
with the area's recreational boaters and sailors, and the Coast
Watch would be one way to do it.
Capt. David J. Swatland
Deputy Sector Commander, USCG Sector San Francisco
Capt. Swatland - Resuming the Coast
Watch would be terrific news for both our readers and the Coast
Guard. It was always one of the more popular features because
it often made for juicy reading, but it also regularly presented
the Coast Guard in a very positive light. We can't wait to start
again in March.
BREAKS THROUGH THE SURF TO THE OPEN SEA
I read last month's comments about the
'inside route' around Mag Bay. Some 15 years ago, we took our
Sundeer down to the south end of Mag Bay. From the naval base
to the Rehusa Channel, we carried eight to nine feet of water
at high tide. During the lower half of the tidal cycle, we 'parked'
in the mud bottom. Our boat drew 6'5". The whale-watching
was spectacular, but the breaking surf on the way to the open
sea didn't look like anything we'd want to test.
Going north from Mag Bay on the inside,
the channel through the mangroves is a bit twisty. It took a
long time and required some backing off the mud now and then
to make our way. Once again the channel to the open ocean didn't
look like something we'd be happy trying.
However, the weather in the intervening
years might have made things easier.
Steve - Although we don't yet have all
the details, shortly before we went to press we received word
that a 33-ft boat was beached while trying to navigate the Canal
de Rehusa at dusk. Fortunately, the crew apparently were not
harmed, but at this writing we're unsure if the boat was lost
"SURE, THE SHRIMPERS DO IT ALL THE TIME"
Mac and I enjoyed reading the suggestion
made in the January issue about using the well-named Rehusa Channel
to avoid a small piece of the Baja Bash.
In early November of '63, Mac and I - and
our son Neil as well, but he didn't make an external appearance
for another three months - were coming south on a 24-ft Piver
trimaran which Mac had built. We had visited Bahia Magdalena,
and found that there was still quite a bit of junk left at Punta
Belcher from the whaling era. We continued south in the bay and
anchored off the naval base, which is a whole other story. But
we asked them about going out of Mag Bay via the Rehusa Channel,
thinking it might save us some miles and time. "Sure, you
can do it," we were told, "the shrimpers do it all
A key part of this tale is that our trimaran
had a 5-hp Seagull outboard, which some of you may remember had
an exposed spark plug. As we motored west under Punta Tosca,
a series of waves broke across the entire entrance. We did have
the sails up, but we had to motor in order to stay beneath the
point. Then we went up and over a wave - which doused the outboard
and killed it. We sailed southwest more or less in the troughs
between waves - which were breaking two or three times over the
various bars before reaching the beach - while Mac replaced the
wet plug with a dry one. Once the new plug was in and the engine
started up again, we could turn away from shore and head straight
into the waves again. Until the next dousing - and the next and
the next and the next - required that the spark plugs be changed
Obviously, we survived exiting the Rehusa
Channel, but it's not an experience we'd like to repeat. But
come to think of it, we tried something similar on the coast
between Topolobampo and Mazatlan.
As for departing Bahia Magdalena via Boca
de Soledad, you'd have to have a death wish - unless you were
aboard a powerboat following a shrimper that knew where the bars
were. And the bars are different every year, and perhaps even
after every storm. Getting north through the Devil's Elbow from
San Carlos to Lopez Mateos is not that simple either - unless
the channel is better marked than it was five or six years ago.
All things considered, the outside route
sounds pretty good to me.
Marina de La Paz
La Paz, Baja California Sur
Mary - We had a chuckle visualizing
you and Mac cruising down the coast of Baja aboard a Piver 25
trimaran. Cruising boats sure have changed over the years, haven't
MORNING GREEN FLASHES
It's true, there are green flashes at sunrise,
too. I observed a spectacular green flash at sunrise off the
coast of Baja some years ago while sailing aboard Sayula II
- but no one would believe me. Since then, I have always alerted
the morning watch to be on the lookout for a morning green flash.
The latest AM green flash reported to me was this year by two
trainees on the barque Picton Castle on a passage from
the Galapagos to Pitcairn.
As for multiple flashes, I'll have to leave
that to those who have had multiple other things.
Readers - Ray Conrady can lay claim
to a part of sailing history. He was the navigator aboard Ramon
Carlin's Swan 65 Sayula II when
she won the first Whitbread Round The World Race in '73-'74 -
the race that spawned the modern era of crewed around-the-world
GETTING IN SYNC WITH THE GREEN FLASH
I would never have brought this up were
it not for the fact that the Wanderer announced that his New
Year's resolution was to become a more superficial person. In
the vein of superficial goals, for a long time my boyfriend and
I - we hope you'll allow us to remain nameless - have been working
on being able to have simultaneous orgasms. And we've gotten
pretty good at it.
In fact, we've gotten so good at it that
we decided we needed a greater challenge. About the time we were
trying to come up with something, all the letters started appearing
in Latitude about the green flash at sunset. It was like
a light going off, for what could be cooler than us having simultaneous
orgasms at precisely the instant of a green flash? As you know,
this is not an easy goal to achieve, because even in places like
Mexico where the conditions are often ripe for green flashes,
they don't always happen. But we're young, we're trying to be
shallow, and we don't have much money to spend on other activities
- so why not?
Such a challenge has its drawbacks, of
course. For example, we have to decline all invitations for sundowners
on afternoons when the horizon looks as though it will be cloud-free.
So far, the best we've been able to do
is have a near-simultaneous orgasm within about 20 seconds of
when a green flash would have occurred had the atmospheric conditions
been right. We have seen two green flashes since we've accepted
the challenge, but didn't come close to having simultaneous orgasms
on either occasion. The one time we were a little mad at each
other and didn't even bother to give it a try. The other time
my boyfriend's skin was salty and sandy from swimming, and there
was so much friction that only he was able to achieve liftoff,
if you will.
We know it sounds stupid, but we've actually learned quite a
bit about each other and about sex through our crazy quest. It's
been especially educational for my boyfriend, who has become
a more patient and accomplished lover. But going for the 'big
triple' requires a lot of effort on both our parts. Since it's
hot down here in Mexico, we - like all the other cruisers - don't
wear that much in the way of clothing. As such, my boyfriend
isn't as easily stimulated by the sight of my naked body as when
we lived in the Pacific Northwest and were always bundled up.
So you know what I do to get him going now? I dress up. I think
it's pretty funny.
While we've yet to achieve our goal, we
hope that when we do, the Wanderer will deem it to have been
superficial enough for his new low standards.
Cruising Mexico On A Bugdet
J and J - The Wanderer salutes your
THE GREEN FLASH AT SUNRISE
In the January issue you asked if anyone
has seen the green flash at sunrise - and indeed I have. For
many years I have worked as a naturalist on trips aboard the
San Diego-based Searcher on natural history trips on the
west coast of Baja and into the Sea of Cortez. This last year,
while anchored at Punta Colorada on the east side of Isla San
Jose, we not only saw the green flash at sunrise, but there was
'virga' - which is rain that evaporates before coming down to
ground level - that created a rainbow to the west. What a show!
As there were 20 passengers aboard, I have lots of witnesses.
I have to admit that before becoming an
eyewitness myself, I was also skeptical, as I'd only seen the
green flash at sunset, and only a handful of times - despite
a 35-year sailing career that included several ocean passages.
If anyone still doubts the green flash
at sunrise, they should read page 882 of the 1977 edition of
Bowditch. It reports that blue or violet images are also
possible in addition to the green. "These colors may also
be seen as sunrise, but in reverse order." The attached
photographs are from that sunrise looking both east - right after
the flash - and west - of the rainbow in the virga over Punta
Paul - We don't doubt you. We've got
a bunch more green flash at sunrise letters ready for next month.
PERMANENTLY ANCHORED AT CLIPPER COVE
There's a world of difference between a
skipper living on a boat in an anchorage for a few days while
on a passage, and leaving one's unattended boat at anchor - such
as was described at Clipper Cove in last month's Latitude.
It's the difference between pursuing a life-expanding activity
that harms nobody else, and living the cheapest possible way
by selfishly grabbing a precious resource. And if you look at
San Diego's experience with anchor-out ghettos, the problem only
gets worse with time.
However, a buoyed-off area in Clipper Cove
- but not in the prime area that's currently used by the anchored-out
boats - would be a reasonable gesture to those who want to live
an alternative lifestyle. This would encourage weekenders to
anchor away from the buoyed-off area, and would be easy for the
police to oversee. Shore toilets and trash pickup services would
have to be installed to satisfy the rest of us that the place
doesn't become an aquatic slum - and I'm sure that the Bay Conservation
and Development Commission (BCDC) would agree.
By the way, is anyone going to dredge the
unmarked channel into Clipper Cove? It sure would be nice.
Lyn - It seems to us that you're missing
the essence of the question, which is whether or not, and under
what conditions, private individuals should have the right to
use public lands for housing and/or long-term boat storage. If
you're going to allow free land at places like Clipper Cove -
and why not other public lands such as the Marin Headlands, Golden
Gate Park and Yosemite? - we're sure you'd get about 10 million
'alternative lifestyle' folks who would be happy to accept the
offer. Alas, based on past experience, we're also pretty sure
those areas would quickly look like hell and likely become centers
of criminal activity. And by the way, which police department
would you expect to patrol an area of Clipper Cove buoyed off
for 'alternative lifestyle' people? And who would pick up the
tab for police salaries, patrol boats, and such?
We're not against people being able
to live on public lands in all cases - just most of them.
BEATING THE SYSTEM
I have little sympathy for liveaboard anchor-outs
because you'll never be able to convince me that they religiously
empty their holding tanks into an approved shore station. The
fact that they have found a way to 'beat the system' should bother
all of us who take the privilege of boating seriously.
Jack - There are mobile holding tank
pump-out services, and for some anchorages they are subsidized
by government agencies looking to prevent water pollution. But
like you, we're not convinced that the rate of compliance is
THE SWISS SOLUTION FOR MAL DE MER
I read with some interest an article in
the October edition of Yachting World magazine in which
the 'illness' of seasickness was discussed. It's not an illness
at all, but rather a condition caused by histamine produced by
the brain when disturbed by 'illogical' movement.
Histamine production can be cut by high
doses of vitamin C. You have to take three, four or even five
grams when feeling the onset of seasickness. Recovery comes immediately.
The link between seasickness, vomiting and histamine was discovered
by German professor Dr. Jarisch.
My wife, who suffered severely from seasickness on every sailing
trip, tried out the vitamin C remedy on our last trip in Croatia.
She took three grams. She felt great shortly after drinking the
vitamin C cocktail.
Heinz Ernst Daester
Heinz - Are you sure your wife wasn't
more cured by the placebo effect than by vitamin C? We'd like
to hear from anyone else who might be willing to vouch for the
Before doing the Around St. Barth Race
in the Caribbean last month, a number of sailors took Stugeron,
a product that's available over the counter in England and much
of the rest of the world, but is a highly-regulated medicine
in the United States. We have no idea why the FDA has a different
attitude toward this apparently very effective product than do
other medical officials in other countries.
STRIPPING BIBLE COLLEGE COEDS IN TONGA
I'm anchored in Chalong Bay on the east
side of Ko Phuket, Thailand, about to fly home - deep breath
- to my place in Idaho. That's where I started building what,
strictly speaking, is a boat, but in reality has been so much
more - the fulfillment of a dream. I hope I can be forgiven for
saying that I have a great boat, and my last two years of cruising
have been a really great adventure.
Perhaps a quick summary will inspire others
who have the same dream to follow in my wake:
Longest Passage: 2730 miles, Chacala, Mexico,
to Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia.
Longest Time at Sea: Almost 15 days, sailing
from Mexico to the Marquesas.
Most Miles Covered in a 24-hour Period:
Most Miles Covered In Eight Hours: 96 miles,
from the hot springs in the Sea of Cortez to La Paz.
Scariest Experience: Doing 27.3 knots off
the coast of southern Oregon with full sail up, baby! After that,
I did have a talk about it with my crew Ben, aka Dr. Dripplestein.
Biggest Mistake: Sneaking into Heart Castle.
No, wait a minute, that may have been the most fun part of the
adventure. Perhaps it was not listening to ol' Capt. Seaweed',
the grizzled, toothless, old bastard in Australia who told
us about the storms of the dreaded 'build up'. It seems that
Darwin, Australia, is notorious for flash storms in the spring.
Just hours after arriving in Darwin, Ben and I ignored the warnings
of Capt. Seaweed and went to the movies. The Manchurian Candidate
is a great film, but damn if my tri wasn't getting all smashed
to hell while we were watching it. Maybe my real mistake had
been buying some cheap-ass chain from a little tienda
in La Paz.
Most Magical Moment: The time I caught
a nigh un-catchable Aerobe toss by Ben, aka Sir Tossalot, while
running free down a beach. Of course, I had to dive for it, and
it would have been ecstasy if it were immortalized in slow motion
on video. Funny, but it could have been my biggest mistake, too.
I could see the headline, "Man Paralyzed Diving for Toy."
An Aerobe is similar to a Frisbee, but flies much, much further.
Friendliest Folks: Everyone we've met.
Really. Friendly people are everywhere - well, except perhaps
for those Russians we met in a bar. Actually, going into that
bar without my trusty first mate Ben, aka Scootch Cornbuckle,
the Kentucky fisherman, was probably my biggest mistake. I coulda
pounded those Russkis hard if he'd been with me. But still, it
just never would have happened. But you live and you learn -
or you die young. That incident was the closest I've come to
death since starting this voyage. That battle is a whole different
Greatest Dive: The one I had to make on
the anchor in Tonga. We were anchored in 35 feet of water, the
anchor was pinned under a boulder, and it was getting dark. I
had no motor, and no Ben - just Jenny, the young and fragile
niece of the owner of the local yachtie hangout. I told Jenny
to count to ten after I dove down, then give me slack, then count
to ten again, take up as much slack as possible, then tie it
off. It's true that 'there's many a slip twixt the cup and the
lip, but in this case I emerged a great hero, glistening in the
moonlight, and we were off again.
Worst Weather: On our passage from Nuie
to Tonga, we had two days of continuous 40-knot winds and, of
course, the seas got rather large. The skipper of a 40-ft
monohull who left shortly before us, and had already been around
the world once, said they were the worst seas he'd ever experienced.
Never before, he said, had he had waves breaking over the stern
and into his cockpit. He and his son looked pretty beat up after
the ordeal. We, on the other hand, had a pretty easy time of
it. We just put out the storm jib, set the tiller pilot, and
went below to sleep and play cribbage. We had our average 200-mile
days, at one point hitting 18 knots while we were sleeping, and
we certainly didn't have any waves break over our stern.
Having had other similar experiences to
this makes me wonder why so many sailors think we are crazy doing
open water passages in our trailerable foam-and-carbon folding
trimaran. I mean, let's think about this for a second. Where
is the sense in hauling a couple of tons of lead - which sinks
- around the world? It makes a boat heavy and slow. And I can't
adequately describe what a tremendous advantage having a shallow
draft boat - as little as 14 inches - has been. For example,
in Rorotonga, all the monohulls had to stay in the commercial
harbor - a nightmare for the poor bastards. Most would leave
after about two days of getting smashed into the pier. We snuck
into a lagoon on the south side, which was like paradise, and
enjoyed a month-long stay. I could go on with other examples,
but it would be rubbing it in.
Lots of people ask me if it isn't dangerous
sailing such a light boat around the world. Sure it's a little
dangerous, especially for someone like me, who didn't have any offshore
sailing experience before I started this voyage. But I think
it would have been far more dangerous if I'd done what I've done
aboard a heavy, deep draft, monohull. We make passages in about
half the time of similar-sized monohulls. If we hit a reef or
sand bar - something we've done many times - it's no big deal.
We either sail or kedge off - whatever it takes. Then we'll roll
her up a beach with our big inflatable 'rollie', and slap a little
glass and resin on her if she needs it, and call it good. Had
I made the same mistakes I have with a monohull, it would have
meant game over, go home, get a job. And because my tri can't
sink, we don't have to store those ridiculous liferafts onboard.
We also have heaps of uncluttered deck space to play around on,
don't bob like a cork while at anchor, and we win all the races.
All right, I guess I am rubbing it in a bit.
Most Fun Place: Tonga gets the nod here
too, cause it was there that I ended up completely stripping
seven beautiful, female Santa Barbara Bible college students
of their bikinis. If you've not done this, it's a must. Yes,
fate smiled on me that evening. I had just finished an impromptu
'fire show' on deck, which is where you light the ends of a pole
on fire and start spinning like Bush's advisors. This attracted
my prey. No, honestly, they lured me into the whole underwater
grab-pants game. It was funny, throwing all their suits up on
deck and listening to their screams of mock horror. I mean, I'm
pretty sure it was 'mock'. Nobody filed any charges.
Trickiest Navigation: We had a hell of
a time getting down off Look-Out Mountain in the Kimberlies of
Northern Australia. The damn thing had caught fire while we were
up on top, and we barely escaped being BBQ'd. The fire stayed
with us for several days while we sailed down the coast, moving
with the wind. It was like a race with a tremendous herd of Tasmanian
As for sailing navigation, getting over the bar into Eureka Harbor
was a trick. We pulled up just as the sun was setting and a thick
fog was rolling in. Not a good time for the shackle to the main-sheet
tack to break, and an especially bad time for the motor to fall
off. It was just then that I realized that I'd built the motor
mount a little too lightly. Fortunately, the Coast Guard came
out lickity-split to escort us in. Sadly, they wrote me a ticket
for not having a "throw pillow." I threw my inflatable
kayak - which I always keep on the trampoline - and asked the
five Coasties this question: "Given the choice, gentlemen,
what would you rather swim to, the kayak or a little pillow."
"The kayak, sir," all four responded.
And one added, "The kayak is clearly a superior floatation
device, sir." The fifth Coastie, who outranked the rest,
handed me the ticket.
Biggest Fish Caught Trolling: We got one
so big that when we pulled it out, it collapsed under its own
unfathomable mass into a neutron star. Only through quick thinking
and an abundance of line was I able to save my trusty crew Ben,
aka Wally VonMcscurvypuss, from what was sure to be an ignominious
ending to an otherwise brilliant fishing career. No, we didn't
eat so well that night, but rest assured, my friends, we were
Kellowyn, F-31 trimaran
Curtis - You're a very naughty boy,
but you have some entertaining stories. So when you return to
your trimaran and resume your adventures, don't forget to write.
A LOOPHOLE IN STATE OF HAWAIIAN LAWS
Let me tell you why there are waiting lists
for boat slips at places like Lahaina, Maui, and why people on
the lists never seem to move up.
Yesterday, my wife Suzie and I walked down
to the Lahaina Harbor and asked the harbormaster where our name
was on the waiting list for a slip.
"What list?" replied the harbormaster,
with a jokingly sadistic smile. "Oh yeah, that list. It
hasn't changed, sorry."
"If the list hasn't changed,"
replied Suzie, "why are all these new boats in the harbor?"
"Well," said the harbormaster,
"some lawyer found a loophole in the state regs, and there
"What kine of loophole, bra?" I asked.
"It's sorta like this," said
the harbormaster. "If an individual registers their boat
slip with the harbormaster as an LLC corporation, and that
corporation pays the slip fees, then the corporation shares can
be sold to another party - meaning another boatowner with another
boat - for whatever fee the market will bear. As far as the harbor
is concerned, there has been no change in ownership."
What a great system. It means the slip
fees stay way low, it creates a very expensive secondary market
for slips, it allows private individuals and their lawyers to
profit wildly on taxpayer-owned property, and means nobody but
rich fucks can afford slips. I heard the going rate is $80,000
extra to get a slip.
The State of Hawaii needs to get out of
the harbor business by turning the operation of their marinas
over to private firms. It's much better for common folks.
In other news, Suzie and I just got back
from New Caledonia, which is an amazing place. It's like the
Hawaiian Islands in terms of weather, but it has a huge fringing
reef that makes for great cruising, and great windsurfing. It's
French, so the food is good, too. Naturally, there are lots of
froggie boats - hard-chine aluminum liveaboard cruising boats.
We'd show you some great pictures, but we left the memory card
for the camera at home.
Jonathan 'Birdman' Livingston
Punk Dolphin, Wylie 38
Pt. Richmond / Lahaina, Maui
Jonathan - Are you trying to suggest
that some wealthy people and lawyers conspired to get the wealthy
people favorable treatment? Shocking!
But the slip transfer thing is complicated.
On the one hand, there's a need for people to be able to transfer
the slip when they sell their boat, or else in areas where there
are no open slips, they'd never be able to sell their boat. And
whoever owns a slip should be able to replace their old boat
with a new one. Nonetheless, everybody knows there are loopholes
and abuses of the system.
Of course, there's a similar system to Lahaina's in Santa Barbara,
where the supply/demand ratio for slips is also way out of whack.
We met a Santa Barbara couple who had sailed all the way to the
Caribbean in anticipation of a Med cruise - but had to rush back
home. Why? Because after a million years their name came up for
a slip, and if they didn't occupy it quickly enough, they'd lose
out on it.
Although it's not a complete solution,
we think one way to alleviate the problem is to have a 'use it
or lose it' policy for boats kept in the water. Boats that aren't
used a certain number of times a year would have to go into dry
storage until such time as they would again be used frequently
STILL ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
My only real criticism of Latitude,
which I love to read, is the same one I have for Cruising
World and, frankly, most of the sailing publications - the
target audience appears to be the cruising wannabes. We see their
boats sitting dust-covered in marinas all around the Bay, decked
out with lots of expensive gear, much of which just makes the
boat a pain to daysail. The truth is that few people have the
time to do more than daysail. I think there would be more happy
sailors afloat if smaller, easier-to-own, and easier-to-use boats
got more attention in the sailing media.
I realize that it's the builders of big
yachts, watermakers, and chartplotters that are paying the journalistic
bills, but on the whole, I think a 'back to the basics enjoyment'
of sailing, with less focus on having all the right hardware,
would be good for the long-term health of the sport. I am always
delighted when I see a 'where to sail' or a 'how to sail' piece
rather than a 'what to sail' article. You are already way ahead
of the rest in this regard, but there's still room for improvement.
P.S. I sail an O'Day 192 and the ever-anachronistic
West Wight Potter 15
Dave - We appreciate your feedback.
We don't read boat reviews and we rarely read equipment reviews
- which is why we never run articles like that in Latitude. To
us, sailing is about people, places and adventures.
As for the 'cruising wannabes', we think
you'd be surprised how many of them actually go cruising or have
been cruising. For example, in the last Baja
Ha-Ha, an average of 140 boats and more than 500 people sailed
to Mexico. And that doesn't count all the boats that left before
or after. Or the folks who headed to the Pacific Northwest. Or
the thousands of boats that are already out there cruising.
Having covered the world of cruising
for the last 30 years, we can tell you that there are far more
people 'out there' than ever before. In a large part, it's due
to much improved boats and cruising gear.
THE WATERPROOF PRODUCT WAS SOON ALL WET
We purchased a so-called 'waterproof' Navman
4150 Fishfinder from Boat/U.S. in East Greenwich, Rhode Island,
in October prior to sailing to Charleston, South Carolina. In
less than two months, this allegedly waterproof unit was so full
of water that it actually dripped out the corner. However, we
salute West Marine in Charleston, which allowed us to exchange
the defective unit for a different brand, which we hope will
Clarity, Cal 36
Wickford, Rhode Island
Christine - Not too long ago, West Marine
ran tests on a bunch of so-called 'waterproof' VHF radios - including
ones they sell - and found that most weren't waterproof after
all. So a leaking fishfinder isn't all that much of a surprise
CRUISING WITH IMPROVED WIFI
Before heading south, we purchased a Wifi
marine amp kit that I had seen on another boat heading down the
coast. The owner of the other boat said he'd had great success
getting signals everywhere he'd pulled into - including some
anchorages. So I bought such an amp before we left San Diego.
When I did, I hardly knew anything about how to even get a Wifi
signal, but now have become pretty good at getting it just about
everywhere we've been.
I bought my wifi marine amp from www.hyperlinktech.com/web/802.11g_marine_wifi_kit.php.
This kit includes a marine antenna, whatever length of antenna
cable you need, an amp, and a card. It was a little hard to use
at first, as the kit didn't come with any instructions and you
have to download a driver from their site. But since I got all
this figured out I haven't had any problems.
Although probably not legal, I have gotten signals everywhere
we've been - even when anchored off La Cruz. We're now moored
at Paradise Village, where we're paying to use the Vallarta YC's
signal. But I can still get a booming signal on my boat, which
saves me from having to carry my laptop around trying to get
close to a signal.
You can permanently mount the marine amp
on your boat, but I chose not to hardwire it. I just run the
antenna up the mast with a halyard and then plug everything in.
The only downside is that the amp has a 110-volt plug, but works
in a 12-volt cigarette plug.
Sandpiper, Yorktown 35
Tom - Having conducted a brief poll
in 'Lectronic Latitude,
we've learned that wifi amp kits have been very effective in
Mexico. We'll have more detailed results next month.
THE QUINTESSENTIAL LAZY WINTER
Recently you put out a request for photos
of winter sailing in the Pacific Northwest. The enclosed one
is of me sailing off Brookings, Oregon. My son Dylan, who took
the photograph, and I went out on Tom Thumb, my Fiskstara
25 Swedish sloop. We motored up the coast a few miles hoping
to see some whales. Eventually we caught a light breeze. It was
a quintessential lazy day.
Tom Thumb, Fiskstara 25
LIKES, DISLIKES, AND SURF SPOTS
I'm a longtime reader, great mag, blah,
blah, blah. Actually, I don't mean to shortchange you, as your
responses to Letters over the years show the publisher to be
a well-balanced individual with a remarkably insightful view
of events. It must be your surfing/sailing/pot background on
top of a UCSB and Berkeley education.
I'm sending this letter from the Isthmus
at Catalina aboard my Searunner tri, which is one of only two
non-local/commercial boats here today. And it's a near perfect
weather day. I don't know if you're aware, but a Verizon PC card
gets you Internet access here at three times dial-up speed.
Here's my list of things I don't care for
in Latitude: All the San Francisco racing results. I totally
dismiss them - and the same for the endless Ha-Ha and Puddle
Jump interviews and the reports on megayachts from St. Barth.
I'm all for Caribbean reports, but couldn't care less about some
fat cat's megayacht or the Antigua whatever race.
My favorite things in Latitude are Changes, Letters and your responses
to Letters, and the Latitude interviews.
Now on to surfing. You realize, I hope,
that you're on shakey ground by being too specific about surfing
spots and egging the masses on to various anchorages. It's one
thing to have a single report, but it's entirely in bad taste
to relentlessly urge everyone to visit a particular spot. Can
you say Punta Mita? By the way, I've been there about 10 times
over the years and have never seen it over chest high. If surfing
was food, I'd starve at Punta Mita. Try Nexpa for real surf.
But then, it's just a roadstead, and there will never be an issue
with boats massing there.
I suggest that it's time to take your cat
into the South Pacific so that the readers can get some new content
and perspective. I think you'd enjoy the lefts at Fare. Do send
some reports, but just don't go on and on about a particular
spot. In a world where overpopulation is one of the biggest problems
- and the root of so many other issues - crowding is a main concern.
P.S. I'm curious about what, if anything,
you'd change about Profligate if you were to build another
Don - Thanks for the nice words - and
very interesting feedback.
We have written frequently about Punta
Mita, but we think with good reason. First, we can't think of
another surfing area where those with boats have such an advantage
over those without boats. Land-based surfers either have to hoof
it a long way to the best breaks or pay $60 to hire a panga for
a couple of hours. That usually keeps the better breaks relatively
uncrowded, if not empty, for sailor-surfers.
Second, most Punta Mita breaks are best
for geezer surfing - which is what most of us sailor-surfers
do anyway. You younger, hotter, and more aggressive surfers can
go over to Burros, up to Sayulita, or down to Nexpa. That's fine
with us geezers, because we no longer have anything to prove.
We're just looking to get in a few good bottom turns and nose
rides, commune with nature, and admire what tiny suits women
surfers favor in the tropics these days.
Third, the surf at Punta Mita can be
inconsistent - which also works to the advantage of sailor-surfers.
On waveless days, land-based surfers go stir-crazy while sailor-surfers
go sailing. Banderas Bay has some of the most consistent wind
and enjoyable flatwater sailing in all of Mexico. Further, there
are great nearby destinations such as La Cruz, Nuevo Vallarta,
Puerto Vallarta and Yelapa. And when the swell eventually comes
back up, sailor-surfers are right there to catch the waves before
the land-based folks arrive. It's like cheating.
And we're hardly spilling the beans
about surfing at Punta Mita. If there are any west coast surfers
who don't know about the place, the surf shop on the bluff has
a map that lets everyone know where all 16 of the named breaks
So yeah, we've reported on Punta Mita
a lot, but only because it's one of the best warm water places
in the world we know of for sailing and surfing, where sailors
have such a distinct advantage. In fact, last night we dreamed
that we'd retired, taken Profligate to Punta Mita, and started
a new business: The Wanderer's Liveaboard Academy of Sailing
and Surfing for Women. It could happen.
Doña de Mallorca has never been
to the South Pacific, and is forever urging us to sail there
with Profligate. Unfortunately, the logistics of doing such a
voyage and publishing the magazine at the same time are insurmountable.
Besides, we have a greater desire to sail up the East Coast of
Australia and around Thailand.
Speaking of Profligate,
if we had the opportunity to build another cat, it would be a
near sistership. The only significant change we'd make would
be to move the front beam forward a couple of feet in order to
increase the area of the self-tacking jib by about 20%. Everything
else - the length, beam, bridgedeck clearance, layout and basic
simplicity - is just fine with us. And if somebody gave us the
money to build the new cat of carbon from the top of the mast
to the bottom of the daggerboard, that would be nice.
Readers should also know that while
a 63-ft cat is wonderful, not even a large family needs such
a big boat. If we were building a cat for just ourselves and
not for editorial purposes such as doing the Ha-Ha, a smaller
sistership in the 47 to 55-ft range would be more than adequate.
Since you don't particularly care for
the megayachts, Don, we've got some news from St. Barth that
might please you. The word on the coconut telegraph is that,
despite being less than two years old, both Mirabella V, the 247-ft sloop that wouldn't
fit beneath the Golden Gate Bridge by 80 feet, and Larry Ellison's
450-ft largest-in-the-world motoryacht Rising Sun, are
both available. Apparently Mirabella V is more complicated
than expected, and the sailing loads are a little too spooky
to be conducive to much pleasure sailing. The problem with Rising
Sun is that she's so damn big she can't fit into the harbor
at places like Valencia, Trapani, Monte Carlo, Antibes and all
the rest. And when everybody's tied up inside the harbor and
having a blast, it's apparently not that much fun being tied
up at a distant commercial dock or anchored out.
YOU REALLY MISSED IT!
Thanks for the article on us in the January issue. By the way, the
waves have been four to six feet at Punta Mita, and the surfing
is great. "You really missed it" - as all the surfers
would say. Having finished painting our boat, we're heading out
for Huatulco tomorrow.
Robert Crozier and Marta Mijelman
Pacific Spirit, Kendall 32
Headed Further South
I LAUGHED OUT LOUD
You guys are so darn entertaining! Stuart
forwarded me the link to your January
9 'Lectronic Latitude items about St. Barth and such, and
I've read them twice this morning. I laughed out loud at
some of the cruiser antics - and can't wait until we get to join
everybody out there on a more regular basis.
Duetto, Norseman 43
Jean - We love it when people laugh
at what we write.
IS IT HATE OR ENVY?
As I sit in my dark, dreary office, I'm
not sure if I envy or hate the Wanderer. The 'Lectronic
posts from St. Barth featuring Buffett, babes, booze, boobs -
man, what's not to like? Landlocked New Mexico has never looked
so uninteresting in comparison to the Caribbean. You're my hero.
P.S. Want to buy a nice cabin?
Guy - We'd be the first to admit that
there's nothing not to like when doing editorial 'research' in
St. Barth. But you, like so many others, don't get to see the
larger picture. It's not quite so enjoyable coming home and having
to spend 12 or more hours a day - most Saturdays and Sundays
included - banging on a keyboard and going blind in front of
a monitor. We've done about 350 issues so far, and during the
deadlines of almost every one of them we've sworn it would be
NOT EVEN AS DEEP AS A PUDDLE ANYMORE
Happy New Year! The 'Lectronic
reports from St. Barth have been great. Let's hear it for superficiality!
And thanks again for the best and most inspirational sailing
periodical on the planet!
Dave - Thanks for the kind words. The
reports from St. Barth seem to polarize readers. People either
love them or seem to get angry about them. Since you like the
reports, here's a little story of billionaire buffoonery that
might give you a laugh.
There was a very wealthy guy from across
the Atlantic who owned a very large sailboat and lived something
of a double life. While in his native country, where religion
plays a major role in all aspects of society, he was seemingly
devout. But once outside his country, he displayed a penchant
for the libertine. As a result, his boat was known from Antigua
to Antibes for some wild times.
Anyway, one time the owner said to his
longtime skipper, Jack - not his real name, of course - "Let's
take the boat down to Miami and have some fun.'' So they did.
In fact, they spent three months tied up to the dock having a
good time. At the end of the three months, the owner was going
over the accounts when he saw something that disturbed him -
an entry of $35,000 for 'diesel'. How could they have spent so
much on fuel when they'd never left the dock? Suspecting that
Jack might be engaging in some financial funny business, the
owner confronted his captain: "Jack, how is it possible
that we spent $35,000 on fuel when we never left the dock?"
"We didn't," replied Captain
Jack. "But I just thought $35,000 for 'diesel' looked better
on your expense report than $35,000 for 'hookers'."
For all we know, some part of the story
might actually be true.
A CATHARTIC WORK OF VANITY
I'd like to offer an unsolicited book review.
As a present, someone gave me a copy of A Mile Down, The True
Story of a Disastrous Career at Sea by David Vann (Thunder's
Mouth Press, 2005). I don't know David Vann or anyone who does,
but I'd like to offer an unsolicited book review.
Vann's book describes his financing the
construction of a large yacht in Turkey, his plan to run literary-historical
sailing tours, the boat's subsequent poor performance, his financial
ruin, and the boat's sinking in a storm. The author presents
himself as a tragic dreamer, fully qualified and, he keeps reminding
us, impeccably educated. But he's beset by bad luck, unscrupulous
contractors, lazy employees, inert bureaucrats and predatory
creditors. All these conspire to dash his personal quest for
fulfillment, which he justifies by being constitutionally unable
to accept a working adulthood.
Personally, I can't seem to buy it. Maybe
Vann did exactly what lots of professional owners/masters do
in their businesses, but it seems to me he was floating his dream
on credit extended by a lot of friends, and that he made some
remarkably poor decisions along the way. The thing that rankles
me most, however, is his incessant invocation of his Stanford
education - as if it should somehow differentiate him and his
peers from the rest of an ignorant herd. It's the same smug sense
of entitlement that makes Frances Mayes' Under the Tuscan
Sun so unreadable. Maybe Vann is a terrific sailor, scholar,
writer and entrepreneur, but I can't help feeling like this is
a cathartic work of vanity.
Anybody else read this book?
Sandy - Such a trenchant review! If
you'd like to continue your career as a reviewer of nautical
books, we've always got a big pile stacked up in our office.
We didn't read Vann's book, but we spoke
to him by phone. As we recall, he told us he built something
like an 80-ft aluminum catamaran near Sacramento a year or two
ago to replace his boat that sank. He then took her to the Virgin
Islands where she is now in charter.
FRENCH MEDICAL CARE
Before I rant, let me say that my husband
and I thoroughly enjoy your magazine and eagerly await each and
every issue, no matter if we are cruising in Mexico or cruising
the canals of France.
Your response to Catch the Wind regarding the level of
expertise of pharmacists in France is way off the mark. For the
last three years my husband and I have been spending four to
five months each summer aboard our canal boat Cruzy in
France, and we spent two winters in Mexico aboard our previous
sailboat MaKai. We found ourselves needing medications
in both countries, and can tell you there is a vast difference
in one's ability to obtain medications in France as opposed to
French pharmacists are well educated, polite
and extremely helpful - but they absolutely will not, I repeat,
will not, dispense medications without a prescription. And such
prescriptions must come from a French physician. We have found
the French medical system to be open and available to cruisers
from all countries. Visits to physicians for examinations or
simply to obtain prescriptions are extremely reasonable at about
An Australian friend of ours was treated
in a hospital emergency room for several hours after receiving
serious burns while working in his engine room. The total charge
for his treatment was about $35. As in Mexico, medication costs
in France are affordable. Sadly, the French government is looking
at making changes to their current social programs, and I'm sure
that medical care will suffer.
We are spending this winter in San Diego
outfitting our recently acquired Pearson ketch for a return cruise
to Mexico next fall. Keep up the good work.
Blue Moon, Pearson ketch
Cruzy, canal barge
San Diego / France
Myrna - Thanks for the kind words. We
learned most everything we know about French pharmacists by reading
Peter Mayle's A Year In Provence.
So if we mischaracterized that group of professionals, it's all
Mayle's fault. We do know, however, that the French are/were
the world leaders in the consumption of Valium. When Doña
de Mallorca got a tight shoulder in St. Barth a few years ago,
she visited the doctor, who gave her a little rub - and enough
Valium to knock out half the skippers on boats at anchor in Gustavia
It's true that the French will indeed
be making changes to their social programs - for the simple reason
that they can't afford them. Their scheme of trying to pretend
they were above globalization didn't work out as well as they'd
hoped, so now their economy is in the toilet, and their rate
of unemployment is a fright. Did you see where President Villepin
recently authorized the sale of some toll roads to help pay for
social programs? No wonder the French are gobbling down all that
Valium. We Americans, of course, are much more fortunate, because
our Republican and Democratic leaders have worked closely together
to make the tough decisions necessary to insure that there will
be no financial crisis in our country's future.
IN DEFENSE OF THE FORCE 50
Your October issue editorial comments about
the Taiwan-built Formosa 51 ketches - with which you claim to
be intimately familiar - expanded to include near sistership
boats such as those built in Taiwan by Hudson Enterprises and
others. No matter who designed this family of 51-footers - and
they all certainly resemble drawings found in one of William
Garden's books - we'd like to stand up in defense of those marketed
as Force 50s.
True, the engineering and construction
techniques of the Taiwanese yards that built them may not have
been cutting edge, but with any boat the true indicator of construction
quality is how well she stands the test of time. Considering
that our Force 50 Sea Venture has been sailing the seas
for almost 30 years, and she's getting her first refit since
new in '77 (except for an engine repower), we think she has proven
her durability. In addition, when we opened up her original spruce
masts, we found the joints to be sound. And when replacing all
the thru-hulls, we found a very well laid and solid hull.
Yes, her decks leaked. But so do the teak
decks on lots of other 28-year-old boats. While boat shopping,
we considered the cost of replacing the teak and ferreting out
rot in almost every boat we examined. Now our Sea Venture
has leak-free non-skid and beautifully painted topsides. She's
It's also true that we're replacing or
upgrading all her systems. But that's also common in a boat of
that age. We're completely redoing the wiring, not because there
was anything wrong with the original materials or work, but because
subsequent owners got fancy with their jury-rigged messes and
it was easier to start over than to try to separate the tangles.
(To cite one example, the last owner had wired the hot lead to
the ground lug on the AC-powered water heater. Michael was almost
electrocuted before discovering it!)
Yes, the black steel tanks have rusted
through. But I've read countless articles describing the need
to replace black steel in older boats. The old ones are out,
the new ones are in.
Yes, we're replacing the pilothouse windows
with new glass, but the original stuff served the boat well for
nearly three decades. The only one that failed was struck by
a flailing object while she was on the hard in Mexico.
We've replaced all the standing and running
rigging, of course. Even if it looks good, experts say that standing
rigging should be replaced every seven to 10 years. None of the
rigging we replaced was substandard. Nor were any of the other
items we took off - including the boat's windlass. It was too
small for the heavier anchor we got, and now sits and works well
on the bow of a smaller boat.
The hull of our Force 50 is still solid.
And, unlike many of the production boats made in the States during
the '70s, it doesn't have any blisters. Our previous boats, a
Coronado and a Clipper Marine, both suffered from moderate to
severe blistering. In addition, they also had fiberglass problems,
as well as others with portlights and leaks.
Most of our boat's original systems still
worked, but because we'll be setting out on a multi-year voyage,
we wanted to start with all new ones. So we've replaced them.
Our Force 50 has some of the most gorgeous
wood we've seen on any boat. As for the teak toe rails and other
outside trim, Cetol may not be the choice of perfectionists,
but Sea Venture's wood had been untouched for more than
18 months under the relentless sun of Mexico before we bought
her - and still looked wonderful. We redid all the wood this
fall, so now she just needs regular maintenance coats. It's easier
work than the varnishing that I do on my wooden East Coast sharpie.
For the sailor who doesn't want to touch wood, I say buy a boat
without it. But for us, the beauty of wood is worth the trouble.
Counting the cost? We paid very little
for a solid hull, for gorgeous wood inside and out, and for a
boat big enough with its two salons to afford us comfort and
privacy when we have family aboard. The money that we've poured
into her to make her better than new - and all together, it's
still about half of the price of those new boats we coveted yearly
at the Strictly Sail boat shows in Oakland. Plus, Michael will
know that all the work has been done to his high standards. Having
done so much of the work himself, he'll be able to troubleshoot,
repair, or replace everything on board.
By the way, if we had had to contract out all the work, we couldn't
have afforded to bring Sea Venture to this state, so I hesitate
to recommend a boat of this size or age to anyone who isn't either
mechanically adept or wealthy. But because we both like to mess
about on boats, restoring Sea Venture has been a work of love.
Look for us out there in a few months, as we'll be sailing that
pretty girl with a dove on her Pineapple-made mainsail.
Michael & Normandie Fischer
Marshallberg, North Carolina / Rio Vista, California
Michael and Normandie - We were indeed
familiar with some of the early Garden-type 41 and 51-ft ketches
marketed under the Formosa name, having sold some of them as
new. The earliest ones often had long lists of minor issues,
and some had a few really funky problems. But generally speaking,
the quality quickly improved. And in any event, with all the
work you've done to your boat, we can't imagine she's not a wonderful
yacht. We've seen a number of 41s and 51s that have been fixed
up and are well maintained - and they are nice-looking boats.
Next month we'll have a long letter
from a fellow who was around in the '60s when yachts started
to be imported from the Far East, first from Japan and later
Taiwan. Don't miss it.
HAM LICENSES AND INSINCERITY
The reason I'm writing is to inform you
that, contrary to the item in the November
'Lectronic in which Gordon West announced the death of the
code requirement for the General Class Ham license on January
1, no final decision has been made on the issue.
I've been waiting for over 10 years for
the code requirement to be dropped and got really excited. But
I called West's office today and he confirmed that no decision
has been announced. Still, I'm so sure that it will happen soon
that I went ahead and installed a Ham rig on my boat. So I'll
continue to wait patiently.
By the way, thanks for the great reports
from warmer places, as they make 'Lectronic
the first place I check on the web each day. It sounds as though
you had a great time doing 'research' in the Caribbean. As for
your resolution for the new year to be more superficial, I can't
see how that would be much different from how it's been all along.
Your ideas and style have always been right on.
Jeff - Gordon was a little ahead of
his time with that report, but, like you, we're sure the antiquated
code requirement for a Ham license will be dropped shortly.
TWO KINDS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT
Surely I cannot be the only person on the
water who cringes whenever he/she sees the San Francisco Police
out on the water. I have never had any incidents with the Coast
Guard where they have been pushy or tried to intimidate me or
others around me. The Coast Guard has always seemed to be professional.
On the other hand, the Marine Division of the San Francisco Police
Department will approach and treat you as a criminal.
I was on my way to the Golden Gate YC midwinter
series on January 7 with five others coming from South Beach
Marina. Just north of the Bay Bridge we were approached by the
Coast Guard, who informed us they were going to perform an on-the-water
inspection, and they would be boarding our boat. I told them
I had a Coast Guard Auxiliary inspection sticker on the port
side of my mast. They looked at each other, then told me that
the Auxiliary's had been a dockside inspection and they wanted
to do an on-the-water inspection. After confirming that we didn't
have any weapons aboard, we were boarded.
Two of the Coasties stayed up top, one
in the Coast Guard vessel, and two of them came below with me.
I asked if we could maintain our speed as we were on our way
to a race. They told us to proceed as planned. We went through
the inspection book with a new member of the Coast Guard. The
second Coastie was assisting him in going by the book by pointing
out which questions to ask. I asked the more senior Coastie if
ours was basically a training stop, and he confirmed that it
For a boarding, it was a pleasant experience.
They all smiled, and while we joked with them, they were very
professional. When we told them there would be about another
80 boats around the corner getting ready to race, the one fellow
jokingly rubbed his hands together and said with a smile, "Eighty
I didn't return to South Beach until the
next morning, but when I did it was just me, and I was motoring
against a huge ebb. Then there was a Pan-Pan on Channel 16. Somebody
had just fallen into the water at the Ferry Building. Mariners
were asked to be on the lookout and assist the Coast Guard, if
possible. The Coast Guard was already searching with several
boats and rescue jet-skis.
I stayed close to the piers to avoid the
current, and was keeping an eye out for anybody in the water
as well. As I passed the Ferry Building, a San Francisco Police
RIB flew past me. There were three officers aboard, and two of
them were pointing back towards the Ferry Building. They were
going so fast that they'd overshot their destination.
A few minutes later, I was between the
fishing pier and the Bay Bridge - when the same police boat quickly
approached me. The driver started yelling at me about security
zones and staying 100 yards away from the Ferry Building pier.
I asked if I had to stay 100 yards off
all piers, but they said just off the Ferry Building pier. Then
they took off.
I was shocked. They abandoned a search
and rescue effort for a person who had fallen into the water
to come and yell at me?
I'd never heard that the Ferry Building
or pier had a security zone requiring a 100 yard separation,
so I contacted the Coast Guard and spoke to the person in charge
of security zones. He said that they didn't consider the Ferry
Building or its pier a security zone. He did say, however, that
they were in the City of San Francisco's jurisdiction and that
the city's authorities could make up their own rules.
But if such a separation is required, how
are mariners supposed to know? Not even the Coast Guard knew.
That wasn't my only negative experience
with the Marine Division of the San Francisco Police. Once I
motored our 10-ft dinghy out of the nearby South Beach Marina,
carrying two 12-year-olds, a 10-year-old, and a six-month-old
puppy - all of whom were wearing lifejackets. Another adult and
I were not wearing lifejackets.
We were soon hailed by the 41-ft San Francisco
Police Patrol boat to follow them to the ferry dock at McCovey
Cove next to the stadium. I was then given an on-the-water inspection.
With the boat registration and my driver's license back in the
marina, I sat quietly while I endured a chewing out by the police
officer. When I asked "What?" to one of his comments,
he went off on a tirade asking me how much trouble I wanted,
because he could give it to me.
My children got an education in being polite
to a person of authority - when every part of my being told me
I shouldn't be treated like that and I should shout back. Ultimately,
I had my driver's license number and dinghy CF numbers run by
the police. During the radio response, my personal information
was transmitted over a loudspeaker that could have been heard
at home plate during a baseball game. Despite having two Type
IV cushions for the adults, I was given a $156 ticket for inadequate
Two weeks later a friend of mine was hailed
by the San Francisco Police while he was rowing his dinghy through
McCovey Cove. When they complained that it took him a long time
to get to their patrol boat, he explained that he was rowing.
According to the police, his problem was that he'd been in a
no-motoring zone with his dinghy, which had a motor.
"But I was rowing," he said.
"Well, we don't want you here,"
they told him.
Carmelita, Catalina 42,
South Beach Marina
Chris - It's just a wild theory, of
course, but could it be possible that differences in behavior
displayed by the Coast Guard and the San Francisco Police are
a reflection of the kind of people they have to deal with on
a daily basis? The men and women in the Coast Guard get to work
with relatively normal and sane people. The San Francisco Police,
on the other hand, spend their days contending with the worst
of drunks and drug addicts, lunatics, thieves, abused women and
children, murder victims, people injured in all manner of terrible
accidents, and God-knows-what-else. We think a person would have
to be nuts to become a cop in San Francisco. And if they weren't
nuts going in, the people they had to deal with would make them
nuts by the end of the first week.
So yes, based on your version of events,
the San Francisco cops in the Marine Division could have conducted
themselves in a better manner. But since they didn't beat you
or demand a bribe, we're willing to cut them a little bit of
JUNK-RIG JUNKIES UNITE!
I saw the photo of the junk-rigged Pacific
Enterprise in the December Latitude and, as the owner
of the junk-rigged Nor' Sea 27 Sea Blossom in San Diego
Bay, I would be interested in contacting the owner to exchange
knowledge and experience. To my knowledge, the only association
of junk-rigged sailors is in Great Britain. Any persons with
junk-rig info, please feel free to contact me by
Lance G. Jobson
Lance - We can't give out addresses,
but we'll publish your request and email address.
MEDICATION FOR CRUISERS
We're writing in hopes that some of your
readers can share their experience with a situation I expect
to face as we sail south to Mexico next year. My wife has a non-life-threatening
yet chronic medical condition that requires several prescription
medications - not insulin, marijuana or anything addictive -
that are not over-the-counter in the United States. If we travel
to Mexico and perhaps beyond, how do we deal with this?
We obviously can't fly home every month
to resupply. I suspect that if we take a six-month bag of pills,
we should declare them at the border. And if we did return and
needed to resupply at six months, how does one get permission
to carry a new bag across the border? It certainly seems like
something that we should be prepared for in advance.
I also believe that I read in Latitude
that Mexico requires such drugs to be obtained using a Mexican
doctor's prescription. If true, how does one get that in advance?
And what about in Guatemala, San Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama
and other countries? We would appreciate any input.
P.S. We were boarded by the Coasties in
the Delta in August while on our way to the Bay. They were very
polite and professional, and they didn't even have us slow down!
David & Carolyn Cammack
Aztec, (formerly Bob Towle's) Cape North 43
David and Carolyn - We've sailed our
boats to Mexico close to 20 times, but not once has anybody asked
us to declare any prescription drugs. Nonetheless, this isn't
our area of expertise, so we'll throw your question out to our
And good luck with Aztec. We remember first meeting Bob and Ginny
Towle aboard her at English Harbor in Antigua. It must have been
15 years ago.
COAST PILOTS AVAILABLE ONLINE
I'd like to thank reader Jeanette Heulin
of the Bristol 32 Con Te Partiro for the note about NOAA's
Coast Pilots being available online. I would never have thought
to look there for accessible materials. As a blind sailor, such
detailed nautical information is difficult to find in accessible
format. Although PDF files can create some messy problems in
trying to make them easy to read with synthesized speech systems,
I'm now working with the fine folks at NOAA to solve these problems.
I strongly recommend this excellent series
of books about our coasts to any sailor, as they contain a wealth
of fascinating information about our coastal waters. The style
is quite readable - and often verges on the literary.
I also can't say often enough how much
we appreciate Latitude for being such a great and accessible
BAADS, the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors
Tom - Thanks for the kind words. We
hope you folks at BAADS are looking forward to another great
season of sailing.
As for the Canadian who wrote in to say
that global warming was causing the waters of the Pacific Northwest
to evaporate and coastal rocks to be exposed and/or moved, the
only rocks he must be familiar with are the ones in his booze
There is all kinds of water up here. In
order to avoid the rocks, a mariner just has to use current charts,
stay sober, and stop whining about global warming. After all,
'climate change' is just the natural function of the earth going
through normal cycles. Didn't we all learn in high school science
that "nothing can be created or destroyed?" Sooner
or later it all recycles into something.
As for remote and/or busy places to cruise, the Pacific Northwest
has the best in the world. You can find busy and civilized places
to cruise, as well as more primitive and uninhabited areas too.
The people are wonderful everywhere, in the right places the
shopping is excellent, the majority of passages are close to
shore, there are plenty of safe harbors, and it's safe from pirates
- except those representing the governments. Although I now have
a large power yacht, I thoroughly enjoy your 'blow boat' magazine.
By the way, if the fellow concerned about
this trip north around Cape Mendocino has too many concerns,
he should drop into Eureka and buy the local fishermen a beer
or two. Soon enough they'll share the information he'll need
to have the most comfortable rounding of the Cape.
In The Deep Waters Of Vancouver, British Columbia
Dennis - We live in a self-absorbed
age, so we suppose people can be forgiven for believing that
any variation in the current condition of the earth is necessarily
wrong or unnatural - as if the many cycles of global warming
and cooling that occurred prior to the existence of man and the
internal combustion engine never happened. The terrible truth
that we're all going to have to make peace with is that the world
really doesn't revolve around each one of us, and, unlike what
we've always assumed, we're not the masters of our universe.
Please pass the rum.
Having said that, the concept that "nothing
can be created or destroyed" is no reason to dismiss concerns
about climate change - no matter if they are the result of man's
actions or of a natural cycle of nature. We humans need a stable
mix of relatively moderate temperatures in order to survive.
For example, if the temperature at the poles dropped to 200°
below and the temperature at the equator rose to 200° above,
it would soon be curtains for our species. The main mechanism
that keeps the poles from getting ultra cold and the equator
ultra hot are the winds and underwater rivers that mix and 'average
out' the temperature extremes. If, for some reason - natural
or man-made - the moderating influences of the winds and underwater
rivers were thwarted, we'd ultimately all end up being roasted
It's kind of a fun topic to toss around
while cruising - by power or sail - in the delightful waters
of the Pacific Northwest.
REASONS TO REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE
I read Latitude cover-to-cover each
month. In the December '04 issue - I know that was a long time
ago - some questions were raised about garbage. Since I haven't
seen any responses, I thought I'd reply.
Generally, resource use and pollution from
production and distribution outweigh disposal issues. For every
ton of product waste we dispose of, about 70 tons of upstream
waste are created. Glass bottles or metal cans at the bottom
of the ocean or in a landfill don't cause huge environmental
problems. But what's worse is the loss of valuable invested resources.
That's really why we want to reduce, reuse and recycle. As we
hit global peak oil production and approach the end of petroleum
- with corresponding skyrocketing prices - conservation is increasingly
With toxic materials, we need to also be very concerned about
the disposal. Used motor oil, antifreeze, leftover paint, batteries,
electronics and so forth should be recycled, not put in the trash.
Plastics should not be burned, as some types - especially PVC
- can also release toxic chemicals such as dioxin.
We should encourage marinas and marine
suppliers, at home and in the countries we visit, to offer more
recycling services. Then we should use them properly. Let's all
take better care of the resources we enjoy and depend on.
Robert Haley, Recycling Manager
Robert - Thanks for the information.
We're glad to see that mariners and marinas, both in the United
States and Mexico, seem to be far more environmentally conscious
and compliant than just a few years ago. In many foreign countries
it seems to be the yachties who are leading the way.
WE'RE GOING TO JOIN THE HA-HA FUN THIS YEAR
After years of reading about all the great
times everybody has had sailing down to Cabo in the Ha-Ha,
we decided that we're going to join the fun this year. Where
do I have to write to get the information package?
Big Bear Lake
Roswitha - Where did you get a name
like that? We love it!
Right after the end of each Ha-Ha, the
Ha-Ha folks go into hibernation until the following May 1, so
information on this fall's event won't be available until then.
But before crashing for the winter, Ha-Ha Honcho Lauren Spindler
reported that this year's Lucky Ha-Ha 13, featuring a full moon
during the stop at Bahia Santa Maria, will start from San Diego
on October 30.
By the way, the Wanderer, who wouldn't
miss serving as the volunteer Grand Poobah for his life, is getting
a feeling that this might be the biggest Ha-Ha ever. "Ever
since the last Ha-Ha ended, all kinds of people have been telling
me they're going to do this year's Ha-Ha. For example, after
we hired a guy to sheetrock our flood-damaged editorial offices,
he said, "By the way, I'm doing the Ha-Ha this fall on my
girlfriend's Freedom 44." We've heard stuff like that over
A TOPLESS CHRISTMAS CARD
I thought you and your readers would enjoy
seeing these 20 Christmas baubles. The photo was sent to me by
Don Trask, my old sailing pal and former Northern California
dealer for J/Boats. I have no idea where the photograph was taken.
Jim - For some reason we get the feeling
the photo wasn't taken in the Virgin Islands.
Did you see the report that the New England Journal of Medicine published by
a female German doctor? It said studies showed that it was very
healthy for males to look at photos of women's bare breasts for
about 15 minutes each day. According to the study, it increased
heart rate, was as good as 20 minutes of exercising in the gym,
and, on the average, added five to seven years to a man's life.
Unfortunately, the report on the report was a fraud. No such
article appeared in the NEJM.
Of course, that theory hasn't been disproven
DRIVING AT NIGHT IN MEXICO
Driving at night might be dangerous . .
. if you wore a white hood while carrying a flaming cross down
Martin Luther King Blvd. The world could be, might be, and oh
my . . . lions, and tigers, and bears - oh my! Yes, at any time,
at any place, the world may come to an end, so let us all hide
behind our doors and live in fear of all things of mice and men.
But as I said in my October
letter, if you follow close enough behind a truck or bus,
but far enough behind not to take a rock in your windshield,
you shouldn't have any problems with livestock or tequila-ridden
car-jackers waiting for you around every corner.
I happen to know it is far more dangerous
to drive in the United States, having done so for 16 years, than
it is in Mexico.
Having once again returned to the States
via the free road, I will say that I forgot to mention that the
free road from Navajoa to Obregon needs some serious repair and
should be avoided. However, that portion is not Highway 15.
Regarding the Mexican government giving
warnings about car-jackings, I have heard nothing about Highway
15 that runs from Nogales south. Regarding the degree of
risk referred to by 'Name withheld', I would point
out that there is a degree of risk in all adventures, including
walking out one's own front door. For as Gandalf said, "No
one knows where it will lead you."
If risk is what sends you into a tizzy,
then forget hoisting that anchor. Grab an armchair instead and
snuggle into the current issue of Latitude. We risk-takers
will keep you up on which way the wind blows, the world turns,
and in which direction. For those who have been given a little
nudge out the door, I welcome you to the world of those who have
gotten busy living.
P.S. Those no-tell motels can be dangerous,
I'm not withholding my name because I don't
give a damn.
Rosita, Hunter 46
Now in Puerto Vallarta
DRIVING IN MEXICO
The letters about the dangers of driving
at night in Mexico have been of interest to us. While we had
our boat in Mexico, we also had a pickup. And we had a blast
driving all over Mexico during the hot summer months. We left
our boat on a mooring in San Carlos, then drove all over in the
highland until the Mexico City News reported the temperatures
had gone down again in Guaymas.
We didn't drive much at night, but we did try the 'no tell motels'.
We found them to be as Mr. Metheany reported, cheap, clean and
David Wilson & Sandra Synder
HIT HEAD-ON WHILE DRIVING IN MEXICO AT NIGHT
We don't know anybody who knows anything
about "gangs of murderous car-jackers" in Mexico, as
mentioned by the author of a recent letter to Latitude. However,
we agree with his saying that driving at night in Mexico is a
no-no. Drunk drivers, animals and large trucks on sharp curves
are among the hazards. But perhaps our firsthand near-death experience
will make the biggest impression.
A couple of years ago, Martin and I broke
the first rule of driving at night - which is don't do it! -
by leaving the Paradise Village Marina in our Dodge Ram van at
4:30 a.m. while it was still dark, and heading to Guadalajara.
We had approximately 600 pounds of iron and steel in our van
that we were taking to be galvanized, and the owner of the shop
told us we had to be there by 8 a.m. or we'd be out of luck.
Well, about 90 minutes into the drive we
were hit head-on while driving on the two-lane road from Puerto
Vallarta to Tepic. There was nowhere for us to go to avoid being
hit, as there were culverts on both sides of the road. All Martin
could do was stomp on the brakes as we watched this small truck
come right at us in our lane!
When we both realized that we were still
alive after the impact, we crawled out of our totalled van. The
entire road was blocked. The driver of the other vehicle, who
was badly injured, was removed from his truck and laid on the
road. He'd never even stepped on the brakes before hitting us.
Eventually an ambulance arrived from the small town just up the
road. I was loaded into that ambulance along with the driver
and the passenger of the truck that had almost killed us. We
were taken to the local hospital, and we all shared the 'emergency
When the ambulance left the scene of the
accident, my poor Martin was left there alone, unable to speak
Spanish, and having to face the police. To say that I was petrified
is an understatement. For six hours I was in the hospital being
very well taken care of, but I had no idea what had happened
to my husband, our van, or our belongings. However, a policeman
came to interview me about the accident.
Meanwhile, the driver of the small truck
was transferred to Guadalajara under police escort. I was assured
that my husband was probably with the Ministerio Publico, which
is like a local District Attorney. After being X-rayed, given
a shot for pain, being watched for possible internal injuries,
and having a neck-brace made for me, the emergency room doctor
gave me a prescription for pain meds and told me that someone
would take me to the Ministerio's office. I was not charged one
peso, asked to sign any forms or papers, or questioned
about insurance coverage!
I found Martin at the Ministerio's office,
along with the insurance agent for the Mexican auto insurance
that we had on the van. This is very important! Since we had
the insurance, and because it was evident from the skid marks
of our van in our lane of the road, no one even questioned who
was culpable. The insurance agent had arrived on the scene to
assist Martin, and stayed with us and helped us locate a mini-van-taxi
to load all of our belongings. These belongings included the
metal parts - all of which had lodged themselves in various parts
of the van rather than beheading either of us. We then drove
back to the marina.
It was a horrible experience, and we lost
our van. But there were also many positive things - such as our
experience with the police, the hospital and the insurance agent.
But never drive at night in Mexico, and always carry Mexican
insurance on your vehicle.
As long as I'm on a roll, I'd also like
to let all sailors know that some of us powerboaters are cruisers,
too. We don't cause big wakes around anchorages or marinas, we
don't run our generator all day or night, we aren't any more
loaded down with money than many people with average sailboats
and, generally speaking, we are no different than most cruisers
on sailboats. The only differences are that we can provide the
muscle if and when needed to pull sailboats off the shore, we
can provide faster response time to many emergencies, we have
stronger antennas for relaying radio messages, and we have ice
for warm beer.
There are plenty of big fishing boats and
large yachts that are a nuisance, but they are a nuisance to
us, too! And they are not cruisers. It really pisses me off when
I see a negative reference - for example, Dan Fitzpatrick made
a slur in his recent piece - to those of us who prefer power
to sail. We have many close cruising friends who happen to be
sailors, and we all get along very well, and do not hold on to
the useless 'sailor versus powerboater' standoff. So it would
be nice if the sailors in the cruising fleet would refrain from
referring to all powerboaters as scum or otherwise being less
Lastly, the Sea of Cortez island cleanup
that Latitude intends to organize sounds like a great
idea, and we are sure many boaters will be ready to lend a helping
hand. However, it's been our experience that the majority of
the trash in the Sea of Cortez comes from the pangero fish camps
or from the Baja peninsula pueblos and cities, not from cruisers.
Most cruisers we have observed have taken good precautions to
dispose of their trash and pick up trash in the anchorages as
well. Putting garbage in proper containers, and then having it
removed and disposed of, is a fairly new concept in the Mexican
culture. Therefore all manner of stuff gets out into the Sea
and floats around until it hits land.
The Cat's Meow, Custom 52-ft Trawler
San Pedro / La Paz
Robin - Thanks for your sobering report
on driving in Mexico at night. We have a theory that the relative
leading causes of vehicle accidents in the United States are
high speeds and drinking, while in Mexico they are drinking and
reckless passing on two-land roads.
Some readers may remember that you,
Martin, and The Cat's Meow were
responsible for pulling something like 10 sailboats off the rocks
and beaches in the Puerto Escondido area following the devastation
of Hurricane Marty in September of '03.
Your report on the lack of cruiser garbage
on the islands in the Sea of Cortez confirms what we've heard
from Mary Shroyer of Marina de La Paz and others. So now we're
not sure whether we'll do an amped-up island cleanup or just
a private low-key effort.
WE WERE SATISFIED WITH THEIR PERFORMANCE
Like the reader of the January
issue letter complaining about Dockwise Yacht Transport's
delays in shipping his boat, we also experienced extreme delays
and problems with a recent Dockwise shipping of our boat from
Central America to Mexico to the Pacific Northwest. Their lack
of good communication via their agents was one of the problems
that made the whole situation worse. And yes, they do have all
the 'disclaimers' to protect themselves from legal action.
However, we also want to report that the
actual shipping was great, and the folks in the corporate office
of Dockwise were exceptional in the manner in which they responded
to customers and their complaints. In the end, we feel satisfied
with Dockwise's performance.
We also want to put in a good word for
Bruce and Tim at Banana Bay Marina and Land/Sea Marina in Golfito.
They were in constant communication with the boats and the company.
Jerry & Sandi Zaslaw
Romanc'n the Zea