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PERHAPS THE BEST 19 DAYS OF MY LIFE
Now that I'm well into my 80th year, I seem to look backward more than forward. In that looking backward, one adventure was particularly outstanding - the 1980 Singlehanded TransPac that I did with my Columbia 29 Ariel.
I'd always planned to do another Singlehanded TransPac, but time slipped by.
The purpose of my letter is to encourage sailors to seriously consider entering this event. It's too late for this year, of course, as the fleet set sail late last month. But as it takes nearly two years to get yourself and your boat ready for such an endeavour, now is the perfect time to get started for the next Singlehanded TransPac.
I was lucky enough to enjoy many sailing adventures in my life, but take it from an 80-year-old, the Singlehanded TransPac stands out for its impact on me as a person and my personal sense of achievement.
I was, of course, told that I was crazy to enter such a race, so be prepared for criticisms.
As a further enticement, I have attached
a photo I took out a port of my boat while anchored in Hanalei
Bay after the race. Back then, the girls seemed to have an aversion
to wearing clothes while on boats.
John - As inspiring as the photo you sent might be, it's a little too raw for even Latitude.
Nonetheless, we were in Hanalei for the finish of that biggest Singlehanded TransPac ever, and remember it well. As such, we decided to dig up a list of the participants from 26 years ago, and wonder in print how many are still alive, and how many are still sailing. The entries were:
Bob Counts, Sanderling,
Golden Gate 25
Just for fun, we went into the archives and dug out the above black and white photos of some of the participants. Anybody else know where the others are?
IT'S DIFFERENT IN THE DELTA THIS YEAR
Normally, the thing to do with a boat in
the Delta is to tie the bow to a tree or something, then adjust
your stern anchor for the tides. Well, not this year, Buddy.
The rains have caused larger weed growth, and 'dem bugs' will
eat you alive - even during the day. This year people who travel
up this way should anchor away from the islands in a protected
slough, and then will only 'get it' from the bugs at sundown.
Dave - Thanks for the tip.
MORE DOLPHINS IN THE BAY THAN NORMAL?
While sailing on the Bay these past few
months, I've seen dolphins several times. Once by the Golden
Gate Bridge, and another time around Angel Island. Is this normal,
and have I just missed it in the past? Is it a new effect of
global warming? Does anybody have a good explanation?
Van - We're not marine biologists studying mammals in the Bay, so we can't give you a definitive answer. However, over the last 35 years, we've seen many dolphins and harbor porpoises inside the Bay. And who can forget Humphrey, the whale who took a side trip up the Delta, or that other unnamed whale that decided to decompose at Tiburon's Shark Point? Most of these sightings occurred long before the phrase 'global warming' was coined, and long before people seemed to blame 'global warming' for any and every real or imagined change they seemed to notice.
Nonetheless, several Latitude 38 staff members think they've been seeing
more of this kind of sea life than usual. LaDonna Bubak, for
example, saw a small humpback whale breaching just outside the
Golden Gate. If there really is more of that kind of sea life
in the Bay, the most likely explanation is that they are finding
more of their favorite foods inside the Bay than before.
Like Latitude 38, I found Bill Hinkle's letter in the May issue - in which he stated that living the cruising life when he was young was "senseless" - to be interesting. Rather forthrightly, he gives voice to the often unspoken fears and trepidations that entrap people and keep them from taking the calculated risks that give life perspective.
It wasn't so very long ago that the only sensible thing for a person to do was to periodically leave the comfortable confines of habitual living to taste the world raw. The Aboriginal peoples call it 'walkabout'. It's not just a rite of passage reserved for the young, it's a 'stepping out of the box' that one needs to do repeatedly throughout one's life.
In our modern everyday existence, the opportunities to go walkabout are woefully few, and I think that we are poorer as individuals and as a society because of this. We become enslaved by conventional wisdom that defines accomplishment as going to school, getting jobs, and earning and spending money willy-nilly. We try to fool ourselves into believing that we've gone walkabout when we take a two-week vacation to Europe or a prepackaged eco-tour - but cavorting from hotel to hotel with a cell phone stuck to our ear is hardly leaving the box. If you take a moment to think about it, cruising under sail is one of the few remaining opportunities we moderns can seize to really break away. I suppose it could be called going 'sail-about'.
When you sail away you become sovereign. You journey beyond the bounds set by traffic laws, employment policies, entreaties to consume, creditor demands, and predigested media-think. The sea and sky dictate the rules and the world unfolds before you, raw and sensible. Cruising presents you with challenges and surprises that feed your soul and make you whole.
I say listen to your nomadic genes, and when they tell you that it's time to break away - do it! It's not necessary to go far or long. When you are ready to step out-of-bounds, a good boat, big or small, and a stretch of open water are enough.
My most recent sail-about was with my wife and son. It lasted almost six years, from '98 to '04, and included crossing three oceans. It was the sensible thing to do.
When not teaching sailing at Pacific Yachting
on Monterey Bay, my wife and I offer cruising classes from Ventura
to the Channel Islands designed to help people determine if cruising
under sail is a viable way for them to break away. We can
be found at www.sailthechannel.com.
Marc - Well put.
YOU'VE GOTTA GO YOUR OWN WAY
I've read Latitude 38 for many years, but this is the first time I've found myself motivated enough to write. I have to respond to Bill Hinkle's letter about the "senseless cruising life" I am leading.
After being a successful yacht broker in San Diego for over 12 years, I gave up my 'real job' - working seven days a week is plenty 'real' - to follow my dream of going cruising. As my husband likes to say, "Life is what happens while you are making plans for the future," so even though I had hoped to be in the South Pacific by now, I am truly enjoying the cruising life in Mexico.
Apparently Mr. Hinkle had the chance in his 20s to figure it out, but 'the machine' - from Bernard Moitessier's The Long Way - has him and so many others brainwashed that they won't unplug from society. But life isn't about a job or a car or a mortgage payment. It's about the pursuit of love and happiness. It's about surrounding yourself with people you love, be they friends or family. And it's about enjoying the beauty of this earth that God has given us.
I say people should go sailing as soon as they feel confident in their boat and their sailing skills. I recommend a 2-, 5-, or 10-year sabbatical while you're young and agile enough to enjoy your surroundings by hiking the canyons and spear-gunning yellowtail.
On the other hand, I guess it's a good thing so many people are plugged into the machine, or these anchorages might get too crowded. So for all of you who think you're happy with it, stay plugged into your cable TV, keep your weekly lawn-mowing routine, and rack up the mileage buzzing the kids to soccer and school. The rest of us will enjoy the freshest and cheapest sushi dinners we have ever had, our quarterly varnishing chores and home schooling the kids in the greatest adventure and cultural experience of our lifetimes.
Oh, did I remember to mention the breathtaking sunrises that make us glad to be alive, the quiet and silence that are virtually impossible to find in the U.S., the warm, clear waters filled with fish for dinner, and toasting our beloved friends around the smoking BBQ which hangs on the stern pulpit. By the way, I just turned 40, my husband is in his 50s, and our cruising friends are in their 30s, 40s 50s and 60s. One family is living on a 36-ft boat with three kids and a dog - and are a lot happier than living in Washington! But it shows that cruisers span all generations.
As far as accomplishing things, we take great pride in navigating to a safe anchorage when the wind is blowing the dog off the chain, replacing our blown diesel engine by ourselves, and basically being as self-sufficient as OPEC will allow us to be. Accomplishment is that feeling of satisfaction you get, no matter what you've achieved. Regret is that sickening feeling in your stomach knowing you should be someplace else doing something else. So I recommend that people follow their hearts and listen to their intuition - as they will take you exactly where you need to be, no matter if it's working every day or sailing away.
On another note, I would like to thank
Linh of the trimaran Savannah for graciously sharing that
photo of her husband Teal's naked butt.
Shelley - Nice letter. The other thing to remember is that cruising doesn't have to be an 'either-or' decision. Thanks to a variety of changes in the world, it's now fun and easy for many folks to keep a foot in both worlds by either 'commuter cruising', or cruising six months a year and working six months a year.
A DOCTOR'S TWO CENTS WORTH ON STUGERON
Dr. Roy Verdery of the Pearson 36 Jellybean was right in his letter earlier this year, in which he wrote that cinnarizine - sold legally in some countries besides the United States as Stugeron - does indeed have the potential for side-effects. But as the good doctor outlined, most are dose-related. In fact, it's a good summary for people to be aware of if they are considering taking the drug.
And as Latitude 38 properly noted in the editorial reply, like so many of the anti motion-sickness meds, Stugeron needs careful consideration - and probably a doc's recommendation - before it should be taken.
Unfortunately, almost all the drugs commonly used to avoid or treat seasickness have their problems. I disagree when Verdery says that cinnarizine is not a good drug. Drugs for the most part are neither good nor bad, they simply are effective or not effective, and have various potentials for complications.
I'm kind of a Libertarian on this issue, in that once I've come to understand the risks and benefits of a drug, and I'm not going to endanger others by my decision to take them, then it becomes a matter of personal choice as to whether I will. Of course it would be irresponsible and dangerous to advise taking drugs which have major judgement-altering potential - a concept which I assume resulted in the United States' ban on airline pilots using cinnarizine.
But even on this point, it's interesting to note that the literature is not unanimous in considering cinnarizine a dangerous drug for those who may have to maintain their cognitive and motor functioning. In 2001, a randomized, controlled clinical trial published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology reported that "single doses of cinnarizine, 50 mg, and transdermal scopolamine appear to be free of side effects on performance and seem to be a preferable anti-seasickness drug for use by a naval crew." This was studied in the Motion Sickness and Human Performance Laboratory of the Israel Naval Medical Institute.
So that's my $.02 worth.
Kent - Speaking of the folks on Jellybean, here's the most recent letter from them:
OUR SECOND SEASON HAS BEEN MORE RELAXED
A fellow cruiser asked me what the difference was between our first and second seasons cruising in Mexico. After some thought, I replied that the first season found us making schedules for arrivals and departures - and, weather permitting, we pretty much stuck to them. After all, we wanted to see and do as much as possible.
Our second season has been so much more relaxed because we realize that, unless we spend many years down here, we'll never see and do all there is. So we've learned to take each day in stride, sailing more and motoring less, spending as many or as few days in an anchorage as we want, and extending stays for any number of reasons. For instance, discovering yet another reef to snorkel, enjoying the company of some new arrivals, waiting for friends who have not yet arrived but are on their way, hiking to spots mentioned in land guides and, when in port, exploring more of the cities and their environs.
When we came down on the '04 Baja Ha-Ha, our original plan was to turn left at Cabo, speed up to San Carlos, then have Jellybean shipped home to the Bay Area. But then good friends, noting that we had done the hard work in getting our boat ready, convinced us to join in the Rally to Paradise in Banderas Bay so we could experience the Gold Coast and then go down to Zihuatanejo. We were still working, so we became commuter cruisers until last summer, when we closed the office, put household items and furniture in storage, sold the house, and decided to cruise full time for awhile.
Luckily, we had done a pretty good job of getting Jellybean ready for the Ha-Ha, her first voyage outside California, by making sure we had good sails, recent rigging, and lots of spare parts. Last fall we decided to add solar panels and a watermaker for convenience.
For all those just thinking about whether or not to take the plunge, we can only add our voices to those who say, 'Just do it!' Get out there and have the time of your life for as long as you can. It's not necessary to have grandiose plans to cross the Pacific, transit the Canal, or wait for the opportunity to buy a bigger or better boat. We cruise on a Pearson 36 coastal cruiser, which was never intended to be a full-time cruising vessel. But she's become one. We've met lots of cruisers with smaller vessels, also without solar panels or watermaker, but they also have a passion for adventure.
In addition, we recently met a couple who
have spent six years cruising in Mexico - and were so excited
to tell us they'd discovered nine new anchorages this season.
Now can you beat that?
Marlene and Roy - We're glad you stuck it out. As is the case with a lot of first-time cruisers, particularly those of retirement age, we could tell that the Ha-Ha and your first season of cruising were a little harder on you than expected. As you say, there is a tendency is to think you have to rush around and see everything immediately. Further, folks new to cruising have to learn all the many cruising techniques almost from scratch, and their bodies are having to adjust to a more active lifestyle. But as you point out, once you learn the basics of cruising and decide to slow down, cruising becomes so much sweeter.
THE TOWLINE DIPPED SO THE BOAT COULD PASS
After I read John Graham's June letter, in which he describes watching a sailboat nearly sail between a tug and a tow outside the Gate, it brought a memory flooding back.
The year was 1968, and I was Officer of the Deck of the Coast Guard cutter Lamar coming in to San Francisco Bay on a training cruise. The captain was on the bridge, and we had just passed Mile Rock and were slowing down so as not to overtake a tug and barge just ahead of us, passing under the Golden Gate Bridge. I saw a tour boat coming out, heading for us, and asked the skipper if we should slow even further.
Suddenly the captain cursed! The tour boat, with tourists happily waving at us, had turned to her port - to cut across between the tug and its tow. The tug backed down furiously, and horns were sounding aplenty. We saw the towline dip as the tour boat passed over it. Then the tug crew made some one-finger gestures toward the bridge of the tour boat, and resumed their work.
My skipper was a witness at the Coast Guard
hearing. The tour boat company had brought their best lawyer
to try to prove him innocent, but in the face of the skipper's
testimony, they decided to accept the fine.
LATITUDE'S ADVICE IS GROSSLY INAPPROPRIATE
I strongly disagree with your June advice regarding RIB tenders and large outboard motors. You speak from the perspective of the skipper of what, in England, is called a floating gin-palace with a crew of tame gorillas. But if you cruise California and Mexico, and for that matter anywhere in the world, you will find that most sailboats are crewed by one or two people. For these sailors, an inflatable tender that has to be laboriously hauled on and off the deck with a halyard and bridle, and a motor that risks life and limb transferring it to and from the boat, is grossly inappropriate.
Over the last 40 years I've sailed the waters of England, the Western Approaches, the Mediterranean, California, Mexico, and Hawaii, and always, the sailors enjoying relaxed, competent cruising have had simple, lightweight and reliable equipment. For the last 26 years, I've used an 8-foot Avon Redcrest, a four-person inflatable and six-foot wooden oars. I have never used floorboards.
I can launch this dinghy from the foredeck of my Fairweather Mariner 39 in any conditions, and I can just as easily recover it on my own. It rolls up and stows with the jointed oars and pump in a canvas stowage on the deck beside the mast. When I'm cruising alone, I can row it at planing speed, and I love the exercise. With two in it, I can get about three knots. I originally had a 2-hp outboard, but it was far more trouble than it was worth - so I gave it away. I haven't missed it at all, and now that I'm approaching my mid-70s, I wouldn't change my tender arrangements for anything else. If I want to go ashore a couple of miles away, I re-anchor close to where I want to go ashore.
When you go cruising, sooner or later a breaking wave will flip your dinghy when you're trying to land on a beach, and throw you out. As you struggle toward the shore, the next wave will pick the dinghy up and throw it at you. A heavy RIB dinghy with a large motor and gas tank is lethal. My Redcrest is just a brief annoyance. And then the RIB owner has to dry out his motor and worry about getting back through the surf. I hoist my Redcrest on my shoulders - yeah, I'm 73 - and walk to where the surf isn't so bad, then I jump in and row through the surf. It's no problem.
On the matter of 'don't sail without one' pieces of equipment, the simple but reliable approach is augmented by common sense and self-reliance. I still sail with a 1930s Walker trailing log, sextant and paper charts, and I find the same islands and anchorages as everyone else. I have never had radar. If it's thick fog and calm, I secure the engine every half hour, go below and listen. The boat's hull is a sounding-board, and propellers can be heard up to a couple of miles away. Big ships sound like chomp-a-chomp, fishing boats make a steady thrum, and the small stuff whines. Use common sense and gauge if another vessel is getting closer. If it is, start the engine, reverse your course, let 10 minutes pass, and repeat the exercise. Try this technique sailing across the English Channel in the usual thick fog. You have to cross the two busiest shipping lanes in the world. You'll learn fast. If you're in fog in the approaches to San Francisco, sail just outside the main channel.
I strongly recommend that sailors keep things simple, light and reliable. That includes the use of GPS. It's no more accurate than the chart upon which you plot your position, and there are some rocks in Mexico that are charted two miles from their actual position. Use every method of keeping a half-hour updated position fix. If GPS agrees, that's great. If it doesn't - and sometimes the satellites are shut down - proceed with caution and confidence.
We are only here in this magnificent life
for a twinkle in the eye of time, so keep things simple and happy,
and enjoy it to the fullest. Oh, and I still can't believe how
lucky we are to have Latitude 38 each month - for free!
Yes, life really is very, very good.
Lyn - And we still can't believe how lucky we are each time we get a letter from you!
We haven't always had a big catamaran. We cruised around in Mexico with a Freya 39 for parts of five winters, as well as twice with Olson 30s, and once with a Cal 25. The Olsons and Cal were too small to have a planing dinghy, so we've experienced cruising from that perspective also. It was still great, but much more limiting in comparison to when we carried a Metzler inflatable with an inflatable floor powered by a 7-hp Suzuki on the Freya. That wasn't a hauling ass combo, but it could plane with two people.
When we got the Ocean 71 and later Profligate, and sailed everywhere from California to Turkey, our normal combo was a 12-ft hard-bottom inflatable with a 15-hp outboard. We realize that such a combo wouldn't fit or work easily on smaller boats, at least without an electric halyard, but what a difference it makes having a powerful dinghy. In many situations we felt comfortable with a range of 15 miles or so and, if going with the waves, in some pretty sloppy seas.
For example, one afternoon we were anchored at very lovely St. Jean Cap Ferrat, France, and suddenly got the bug to visit 15-mile distant Monaco and explore the gorgeous rocky coast along the way. So we just hopped into our dinghy and took off. We couldn't have done that with a lesser dinghy/outboard. And we would have had a great time, too, if we hadn't run out of gas and the sun hadn't gone down.
And a couple of years ago, we were going past Santa Cruz Island, and wanted to check out the Painted Caves. It was blowing about 20 knots true with the seas you'd associate with those winds in the Channel. Leaving a couple of folks on the boat, we were able to explore not only the Painted Caves in our dinghy, but some distance down the island shore as well.
Maybe it's because we have a surfing background, but in 35 years of sailing - including lots of beach landings in Mexico - we've never dumped our dinghy. And we've done a number of trips through big surf that bordered on being irresponsible. Indeed, having observed hundreds of dinghy landings in the surf at Turtle Bay during the Ha-Ha's, one thing has become absolutely clear - intelligently used dinghy speed is a big ally when trying to get out through surf. It's people who row or are underpowered who become sitting ducks.
The best analogy we can come up with for different types of dinghy/outboard combos is this: Having a dinghy without an outboard is like walking. Having a non-planing dinghy/outboard combination is like having a bicycle. Having a planing dinghy/outboard combination is like having a motorcycle. And having a hard-bottomed planing dinghy/outboard combination is like having a small car. But no matter what kind of dinghy anybody gets to go cruising with, top quality is of utmost importance.
HOW I SET MY BUTT ON FIRE BY MISTAKE
I have a PITA - and I want to warn others to avoid getting one, because they aren't fun!
Last Friday we took our boat to a fuel dock to add diesel to the tanks. As always, we added Biobor first, since the diesel algae killer has served us so well for decades. But I didn't replace the Biobor container lid tightly, so when the container fell over, a small amount spilled on the cabin top. I leaned against the cabin where the spill was as I was watching the fuel meter, and therefore didn't notice that I was getting Biobor on the seat of my pants.
After fueling, I took a nap. When I awoke, my butt was on fire! I later went to a local emergency room, where I was treated for a first degree chemical burn.
So yes, I have a Pain In The Ass (PITA). So, if you get some Biobor on you, to avoid a PITA - or some similar form of discomfort - wash up in a hurry! And then go see a doctor.
I want to make it clear that the Biobor container warns against contact with skin, so I have no complaint with the manufacturer. Biobor is a good product, so I will continue to use it.
By the way, we're just back in California
after 20 years in Mexico, mostly La Paz.
MULTIHULLS ENTERED PAC CUP, BUT WITHDREW
I caught your Pacific Cup Poised for Departure piece in the June Sightings, and wanted to add some info. There will be at least one multihull going along - albeit unofficially.
Two multihulls had, in fact, entered the West Marine Pacific Cup, but both have withdrawn, for different reasons. I entered my Crowther 10 Meter Rainbow early on, but withdrew in late January when I found that I couldn't get adequate insurance coverage for my rig if I was an official entrant in a race. A cruiser at heart, I wasn't willing to go without the rig insured, as a loss would have severely impacted my future cruising plans.
Unfortunately, Larry Olsen's Humdinger, a 35-ft Walter Greene designed-and-built tri that has raced across the Atlantic and around Britain, has also withdrawn. Larry told me that he had two crew cancellations, and there were some race requirements that were proving difficult to meet.
I really wanted to see a multihull class in the Pacific Cup, so this has been disappointing. But at least Rainbow will be going along unofficially, as I was able to get good insurance coverage sailing as a cruiser rather than as a racer. My boat is well-prepared after an eight-year refit, and I've been fortunate enough to find a great crew with plenty of ocean experience. We plan to follow the first Division out the Gate on July 3, and have volunteered to help the Pacific Cup in any way we can.
Hopefully the Pacific Cup Race Committee
will again encourage a multihull class in '08. It's my understanding
that there's a guy in the sailing industry with a cat named Profligate.
Maybe he'll be interested in competing in '08, and thereby attract
other multihulls. Or maybe he'll shadow the fleet this year as
a platform for covering the race firsthand. And wouldn't it be
great if Geronimo has an extra three or four days to join
Cliff - It's unfortunate how often the planets are out of alignment. A few Pac Cups ago we were all set to enter Profligate, but were told there was no way a multihull would be allowed to enter. And this year, with the Pac Cup wanting to encourage a multihull class, it didn't fit into our plans. Like you, we hope multihulls are welcomed again in '08, because we've always had a lingering desire to doublehand Profligate to Hawaii.
As you're probably aware, the TransPac offered a multihull class in the '05 race from Los Angeles to Hawaii, with John Walton of the Catana 43 Bright Star - and the Wal-Mart family - trying to spur entries. Alas, he wasn't very successful, and was tragically killed several months later when his self-built airplane crashed in Wyoming.
As far as we're concerned, the greatest
California to Hawaii race ever was the TransPac of '97, a race
in which multihulls played a significant role. The fun started
when Bob Lane's Andrews 61 Medicine
Man finished in a little over eight days, beating Merlin's
ancient elapsed-time record. The next day that record was lowered
to 7.5 days by Roy Disney's Pyewacket, which had started
a day later than Medicine Man. Late the next afternoon,
Bruno Peyron stormed across the finish line with his 82-ft cat
Explorer, setting an all-time California-to-Hawaii record
of 5 days, 8 hours. The following morning, Steve Fossett and
crew arrived aboard the ORMA 60 trimaran Lakota, their
six-day elapsed time the second fastest ever. With the monohull
and mulithull elapsed-time records having fallen like coconuts
from palm trees in a gale, there was a great hub-bub on TransPac
Row. It would be nice to see that kind of excitement at the Kaneohe
YC finish of the Pacific Cup, too.
I just tried going through the process
of getting a Mexican Temporary Import Permit for my boat. The
first limitation I came across is that you can't apply for the
permit more than 60 days before you arrive in Mexico. As such,
I won't be able to apply until early September.
Greg - Between the trouble people have had getting to the English version of the application, and finding they can't apply for more than 60 days before taking their boat to Mexico, we don't know of anybody who has gotten their Temporary Import Permit online yet. This is not a big deal, as nobody ever got them online before. Nonetheless we'll keep you posted.
STUBBED MY TOE ON A BROKEN DOCK OF THE BAY
Can you explain to us what's going on along San Francisco's waterfront? Being from out of town, we have always enjoyed visiting the City, and consider it one of the premiere destinations in the world. The Embarcadero has been beautified, and the new ballpark is gorgeous. But when our hosts took us out on the Bay in their boat, we couldn't help noticing all the old idle warehouses and piers. I suppose in due time those properties will be developed to a higher and better use.
However, we were appalled at the condition of the San Francisco Marina at the Marina Green, which is owned and operated by the city of San Francisco. Instead of being an upscale, first-class marina, on one of the most choice properties in the country, it's a rundown, dilapidated eyesore. Pilings are missing or partially rotted out, requiring boatowners to tie to each other's boats for security. Deck boards are likewise rotten, to the extent that nails will no longer hold the boards in place. Nails, too, are protruding, causing people to trip and suffer injuries.
My hosts inform me that the city will continue to raise rents without providing the necessary improvements and repairs needed. The situation, if allowed to continue, not only appears to be a safety issue, but a liability issue as well.
No one seems to know why the problems exist,
so we are hoping that you can explain why. By the way, to us,
Latitude 38 is the voice of the Bay when it comes to boating
and recreation. Our friends send us a copy every month.
Jean and Jim - San Francisco is a city of inumerable and passionate special interest groups, who, over time, have refined the obstruction of change to an art form. Sometimes this has clearly been a good thing, sometimes it's clearly been a bad thing, but most of the time it's dependent on one's personal vision of what San Francisco should be like.
There have long been plans to improve the San Francisco Marina, but there have always been groups who object. For example, the folks who own the multimillion dollar homes along the Marina Green somewhat understandably don't want any change - or construction - that would even temporarily mar their view of the Bay. Given the location of the San Francisco Marina, the berth rates are very low. Improvements would require that the berth rates go up - even if to what would still be well below market rate. This doesn't sit well with some slipholders or members of the Below-The-Poverty-Level-Yacht-Owner's Association. And like always, there are a few who object to marina improvements because denying others' pleasure is what gives them pleasure, and/or because they are against everything that would benefit anyone they perceive to be more affluent than they are.
San Francisco Marina-like problems are not unique to San Francisco, nor, unfortunately, are there simple and obvious solutions that would satisfy all those with legitimate interests. But one would hope they could at least make the docks safe.
DISTRIBUTING LATITUDES IN HAWAII
We met several times during last year's
Baja Ha-Ha, where I was a crewmember aboard the Marquesas 53 Rhapsodie.
I just returned to Kauai after helping skipper Caren Edwards
do a Baja Bash up to Oxnard, and am wondering if it would be
possible to have a bundle of about 20 copies of Latitude 38
sent to the Nawiliwili YC each month. There are no marine stores
or services to distribute the magazine on Kauai, but it would
be easy to distribute copies to our members during our weekly
harbor races. We could also leave some copies at the harbormaster's
Richard - The bad news is that we can't ship Latitudes to Kauai because they are too big to ship economically. The good news is that complete editions of Latitude 38 , in magazine form, are now available to all your members - and everybody else in the world - by going to www.latitude38.com and clicking on Latitude 38 eBooks. Most folks who have tried it are giving the online version rave reviews. And who knows, ultimately it may end up saving a lot of trees.
MY HEART AND PRAYERS GO OUT TO HIM
I read your short article in the June Sightings about the loss of sailor Mark Saunders, who was killed near Mag Bay when he went into the water with a line, attempting to save the big Nordhavn trawler Charlotte B, which had gone aground near Mag Bay during a Baja Bash in April. Mark and his wife Sue had been living aboard their boat in La Paz, and were just crew on the trawler for the Bash.
I knew Mark and his wife Sue from our days crewing on the six-pack charter boat Kentucky Princess out of Ventura back in the '90s. Mark was a fun-loving, dedicated sailor of the old school, and his loss will be deeply felt by all who knew him. My heart and prayers go out to Sue and all of Mark's children and family.
I lost touch with Mark and Sue after they
sailed south to Mexico, so if you can put me in touch with
Sue or any of Saunders' family, I'd appreciate it.
Readers - A few days later, Bee Bop sent us the following update, which she received from Sue Saunders, Mark's widow:
"I'm back here (La Paz) to pack up our beautiful boat for hurricane season after a whirlwind widow's tour of family and friends. Don't know what to say, as you know how much I miss my darling. We had eight years of cruising bliss together. 'Twas a terrible tragedy and horrible to see him die. Know that Mark was a hero - he died saving our lives. And remember all the fun we had - that was Mark's wish, that we all be happy."
Bee Bop added, "Sue did not elaborate on any details of the accident or how the Charlotte B ended up on the rocks. All I know of the incident is what was published in the June Latitude."
GABE OPENED THE TRUNK AND PULLED OUT A BRAND- NEW CHUTE!
Did I ever tell you that the crew of the C&C 41 Montserrat is simply the best? Yesterday was proof positive. My crew chief Mathew, after trying several unsuccessful ruses to meet up with me on Sunday, finally resorted to the demand: "Just be at the dock at 11 a.m., and you don't need to know why!"
This indeed was cryptic and strange, as there was simply no good reason to meet at the dock, since my boat was hauled out at the time. Well, I pulled into the parking lot at the appointed time, and there was my entire crew - Matthew, Gabe, Mark, Brad, John and Laurie - milling about with big grins on their faces. When I walked up to them, Matthew handed me an envelope saying, "We got you a card!"
My birthday? No! So what the hell was it all about? I opened the card, and it had a picture of a spinnaker, everybody's signature on it, with the words, "Tom, thanks for your commitment to keeping us racing." At this point Gabe opened the trunk of his car and pulled out a brand new Quantum .6-oz spinnaker!
I was speechless! These guys had been planning
this gift for months. Unbelievable! Well, like I said, proof
positive of what a great crew I have. I want to thank them all,
plus Steve Steiner for advising, and Todd Wheatly from Quantum.
Racing Boat Owners - Yes, you may cut
this letter out and post it in the companionway. As for Thomas
and crew, we apologize this took so long to get into print.
We brought the December '05 issue of Latitude along with us for good reading during our delivery of the Pacific Seacraft 31 Hokuao to Hawaii. Well into the passage, we read with understandable interest Larry Patterson's Wanting To Know About Sailing To Hawaii letter. And your editorial response - including the recommendation not to sail to Hawaii in the winter.
We couldn't help but smile to ourselves, because at the time we read the letter, we were about halfway to Hawaii from Dana Point, and it was early January. There was a battery of Pacific storms lurking off the West Coast at the time, and unusually high seas had caused the closure of several harbors along the Southland coast. Looking outside of our cockpit, we had bright - although cloudy - skies with a moderate breeze and quartering seas. The waves varied in height from 4 to 12 feet. A little earlier, the wind had ranged from 10 to 25 knots with even larger swells. As it turned out, we'd have the same basic conditions for the entire 18 days of our passage. It couldn't have been more ideal. Well, maybe we could have used a little more sunshine.
What route had we taken? Skimming along the top of the easterly tradewinds just below latitude 25N, we were sailing under the Pacific High, which assumes a southerly position in the winter, requiring us to dip so far to the south. It added 600 miles to our trip, but it was well worth it in return for the comfort and benign conditions.
The point I'm trying to make here is that the weather determined our route. You wisely advised not "to sail between Hawaii and the mainland during winter . . . because it greatly increases the chances of really getting your ass kicked" - as you put it. That's if by 'mainland' you mean the continental United States. We, on the other hand, followed the clockwise flow of the Pacific High winds from our departure point south, until they gradually turned southwest, and then finally west at about the same latitude as Bahia Santa Maria, Baja, about 175 miles north of Cabo. By then we were in the trades. If we had followed the rhumbline or the 'reverse S' that you mention the racers take in the summer, we would have gone through the center of the High - where there wasn't any wind. We probably would have had to motor as much as halfway across - only to poke out the backside of the High - and into the onslaught of a Pacific storm with 25 knots or more of headwinds and 20-ft beam seas! I still have the weatherfaxes to demonstrate this.
As for the Pacific Seacraft 31, she's brand new, straight out of the factory, and proved to be well-found and seaworthy. She was well-suited to the passage - except that this one was commissioned for light coastal cruising. We had no radar, no pressured water, no hot water, no refrigeration, no watermaker, no high output alternator, no windlass, no inverter and no entertainment system. The electronics consisted of the basics - wind, speed and depth instruments, plotting GPS, VHF radio, and good ol' Otto the autopilot. We hand-steered most of the way across until we realized that we had sufficient fuel to keep the batteries charged. I brought along a portable Ham radio for long-distance communications, which was augmented with a laptop for email and weather faxes. In my estimation, the Ham radio and computer were the most valuable and essential pieces of equipment aboard - except for the GPS. They allowed us to enjoy regularly scheduled contacts with a designated homebase operator, Richard Saunders, K6RBS, and live weather reports from the marine nets. And the emails bolstered our spirits.
And need I say anything about the weatherfax, except that it was crucial for determining our route? We also brought along a barometer, which confirmed what the facsimilies indicated.
You are correct in saying that "a sailing trip to Hawaii is rarely the pleasure cruise that many novice sailors expect it will be." This is especially true with such a spartanly outfitted boat. None of us are novices, but this was the first bluewater passage for two of us, except my wife Diane. Even with such favorable conditions, after the first week with the watch-standing and sleep deprivation, it became a feat of endurance. It was Groundhog Day revisited, as one day blended into the next, and it became a matter of putting one foot in front of the other.
The passage to Hawaii does not necessarily
depend only on the time of year, but also on the route chosen.
It also helps to have trustworthy and competent crew like our
friend Eric 'Turk' Dillon.
Tony - If you have to sail from California
to Hawaii in the winter, we agree with you, it's best to get
down to the Tropic of Cancer as quickly as possible. The problem
is that lots of times folks leaving from Northern California
don't want to sail nearly 1,000 miles south before pointing their
bow toward the Islands, so they cut the corner, exposing themselves
to the possibility of some pretty nasty weather. But they can
consider themselves warned.
I was looking for crew for a possible delivery from San Francisco to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgins recently, and I got a lot of response from Latitude 38. As it turns out, I bought a boat here in the Caribbean - the 1931 William Atkins-designed cutter Tally Ho! As such, I didn't buy the Tahiti ketch that I was thinking about in California, and therefore won't be needing crew to help deliver her here. I thank everyone who took the time to reply to my ad.
I would also like to express my disappointment in your editorial commentary about how difficult such a trip would have been aboard the Tahiti ketch I was thinking about buying in California. That design may not be a fast boat, and may not point well to windward, but I'll tell ya this, I would feel safe making a passage in one.
By nature, sailboats are slow. And some are slower than others. Carl, the former owner and captain of Asuka, the Tahiti ketch that I was thinking of buying, has sailed her safely many thousands of miles. He says he never would have put the boat up for sale had he not gotten sick. I hope that just the right person buys Asuka, and that I get to see her in the Caribbean.
Anyone with comments may contact me by
Stephanie - We're sorry that you're disappointed with our editorial remarks, but we remain comfortable with them. If you talk with people who have made what is normally a relentlessly brutal trip from Panama to the U.S. Virgins, we're confident they'd agree with our evaluation. Many people assume that if you try hard enough, you can always sail a relatively direct route from one place to another. But that's not true. Many great sailors have been denied, and have had to take very long, indirect routes to reach their destinations.
In the case of a Tahiti ketch - and a lot of other boats - the most direct way to get from Panama to the U.S. Virgins might well be via the west end of Cuba, Fort Lauderdale, far out into the Atlantic, and then dropping down into the Eastern Caribbean on the easterly trades. Ultimately, it might be triple the distance or more of a direct route, but it might be the only way to make it.
We don't doubt the owner when he told you he's sailed his Tahiti ketch thousands of miles. And if you'd been looking for crew to sail the boat from the U.S. Virgins to Panama, and then on to Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and on up to the Caribbean, we wouldn't have said anything. But Panama to the U.S. Virgins? We don't think you appreciate the enormity of the challenge and the dangers of attempting it in an older wooden boat. To find out what another experienced sailor thinks of the chances of a Tahiti ketch on the direct route across the Caribbean, read John Neal's comment in the first report in this month's Changes in Latitudes. It just so happened that he read your letter and our response while making that passage.
In any event, congratulations on your new boat. On the assumption that she's wood, perhaps we'll see her in the Antigua Classic Regatta next year. And who knows, perhaps one day someone will buy Asuka, ship her to the Caribbean, and she'll participate in the same regatta. Then everybody would be happy.
HELP WHEN IT WAS NEEDED
Lydia, her crew, and I, would like to thank the skippers and crews of two boats who assisted us when she was dismasted during the Master Mariners Regatta on May 27. We were so preoccupied with our efforts to recover from the dismasting that we may not have adequately expressed our thanks at the time.
The first boat that we would like to thank is Toot, a powerboat that stood by us immediately after the accident in case we needed assistance with an injury, and to be sure that we were able to bring sails, mast, and rigging aboard in order to get Lydia underway under power. Fortunately, no one was injured, but it was comforting to have Toot standing by. Thank you skipper and crew.
Lydia's crew of Laura, Kristian, Dave, Dan and Merv worked hard and well to secure the boat and make sure that the mast and rigging, as well as halyards, were aboard so that Lydia's propeller would not get fouled. This took quite a while and, in the four-knot flood tide, we drifted close to Alcatraz.
When we finally got everything onboard, we were dangerously close to The Rock. Svenska saw this and sailed over to see if they could assist in any way. We started the engine, but still had doubts as to whether the prop was completely clear. So to be safe, we asked Svenska for a tow. The skipper immediately ordered the sails down, started the engine, and took us in tow.
This gave us an opportunity to make a final survey to be sure all the lines were aboard. When assured they were, and that the prop was clear, we put Lydia into gear. Once under power and clear of Alcatraz, we were able to cast off from Svenska and motor back to our berth in Alameda. We would like to thank Svenska not only for observing our distress, but for doing something about it. Thanks to you, the skipper and crew of Svenska, for your tow and good seamanship.
When Lydia gets her 'wings' back,
we will look for Toot and Svenska on the Bay to
say 'thank you' once again.
A DIFFERENT WAY OF LOOKING AT NUMBERS
Bud Balone, who wrote a letter in the April issue, may be an experienced captain, but I sure wouldn't want to sail with him. After all, he arrogantly dismissed a female crewmember's concerns about a ship headed toward his boat at 20 knots while his own boat was doing six knots. That's a total, as he acknowledged, of 26 knots. His excuse is that "there was at least a mile between us."
Well, by my calculations, he had a little over two minutes to get out of that ship's way!
He says he reminded his female crewmember that, while on the L.A. freeways, she comes close to oncoming traffic doing 60 miles an hour. Well, in a car you can manuever a lot quicker than when you're on a sailboat doing six knots! Moreover, there is normally a center divider between you and oncoming traffic.
A captain's first duty is to ensure the safety of his ship and crew. It is insane, as well as poor seamanship, to deliberately put both in harm's way.
On further reading of the April Letters, I see that, according to the manufacturer, the Morningstar Sun Saver electrical controller has sold over 400,000 units in the last 10 years, with a failure rate of 1 in 1,000.
If all the failures caused boat fires, that would have been 400 boat fires - or 40 a year - due to failed controllers.
Do the math, guys!
Mo - It wasn't exactly clear, but the way we read it, the ship and Balone's boat were going in opposite directions at a combined speed of 26 knots - but were separated by a sideways distance of one mile. Mariners differ about how much of a sideways distance is a safe distance, but if both vessels had been maintaining consistent courses, we're comfortable with passing one mile abeam.
We don't know what freeways you drive on, but in most cases vehicles approach each other at a combined speed of about 150 mph - which is why there are so many deaths on the highways.
As for the problems with the electrical controller, you're correct, it's important to look at figures in absolute as well as relative terms. For example, while it may be true that only a very small percentage of people who ride in automobiles die in accidents, that comes as little comfort to the nearly 500,000 who are killed in a typical decade in the United States.
On the other hand, Mo, we're not so sure that you read the manufacturer's response fairly. When Morningstar said the failure rate of their controllers was 1 in 1,000, they didn't say that every failure resulted in a boat fire.
In both the cases that you cited, it's important to get all the factual information and properly understand the situations before doing the math.
HE MARCHES TO THE BEAT OF HIS OWN DRUM
In a recent issue, you reported that Steve
Fossett's 125-ft catamaran Cheyenne had lost her mast.
As such, I have an idea he might be interested in. Fossett could
rig his catamaran with only kite sails and try to be the first
boat to sail all the way around the world using only kites. Not
only would he have the perfect opportunity to set a new record,
but he could also test the feasability of using kite sails on
Matt - Fossett could do that - were he not notorious for not being particularly interested in what other people think he should do. Maybe it comes with owning a large multihull, as Olivier de Kersauson, the owner of Geronimo, is very much the same way.
At last word/rumor, Fossett was going to use Cheyenne as a dive platform above the Marianas Trench so that he - who once survived falling from 29,000 feet - can make an attempt at the world's deepest dive.
I HAD A BAD EXPERIENCE WITH AN OLDER MAN
Originally from Newport Beach, I'm a longtime sailor, aboard both yachts and merchant marine vessels. I started sailing with the likes of Bob Sloan, Bob Dixon and Don Vaughn - a bygone era. I have never had problems with crew from the union hall or from people who put their names in magazines hoping to get a berth on a boat. I never had problems until recently, that is.
In the spring of this year, I took my 'Squeaky Giese'-built boat from L.A. Harbor to La Paz, and had a bad experience with an older man. For one thing, he misrepresented his age. He said he was 67, but he was really 74. He also quit the boat when we stopped at Turtle Bay to have the prop changed. When he left me without crew, I had to take the bus back to Los Angeles to find a replacement.
Furthermore, the guy masqueraded as the owner of my boat, and somehow managed to borrow money from Enrique on the fuel pier, causing me mucho problemos with Gordo Castro's family.
I hope that when you print crew lists in
the future, they won't include Joe Blow's name!
Lief - Without hearing Joe Blow's side of the story, we can't be absolutely certain that he was to blame. Nonetheless, we're running your letter to remind everyone that there is always the possibility that captains and crew won't get along.
It's not uncommon for older people - both male and female - to lie about their age to get on boats. "If you knew how old I really was, you wouldn't have taken me," they argue. In some cases, they are right. And there are guys out there in their 70s who we'd be happy to have along as crew.
We also ran your letter because it brought up the names of some notable sailors. Bob Sloan, of course, did a beautiful job of building the wonderful schooner Spike Africa. Dan Vaughn, a long-time crewmember aboard the great Windward Passage, died way too young of a heart attack during a race at Antigua Sailing Week. Bob Dixon is not only still among the living, he's still racing aboard Jake Wood's red-hulled Mull 84 Sorcery. We salute them all!
DOES THE FALL CREW LIST HAVE MORE?
Enclosed is a check for another year of vicarious sailing pleasure and stoke for a future cruise of my own. To that end, I found the pickings in the April issue were pretty slim regarding crew needed for the Baja Ha-Ha. Does the fall Crew List usually have more? And do I recollect correctly that there is also a Mexico Only Crew List at some point?
On a different note, did you ever discover what happened to Ornaith Murphy? I met her in Opua, New Zealand, about 13 years ago and boat sat for her for awhile.
Thanks for the great read. As for me, I
don't really think that I'd enjoy it any more if equal space
were given to photos of partially-clothed males.
Kathy - The Spring Crew List comes out more than seven months before the start of the Ha-Ha, so many boat owners haven't made a final decision about participating or who their crew will be if they do go. So yes, the spring pickings are always relatively slim.
The fall Mexico-Only Crew List is much more focused on crew needs for the Ha-Ha, and is published in the October issue. There will be a combo Ha-Ha Kickoff and Mexico-Only Crew List Party at the Encinal YC on October 4 (6 to 9 p.m.). This is an ideal place for skippers and potential crew to hook up, as everybody's plans are much more definitive, with the start of the event only about three weeks away.
Other places to possibly meet folks looking for Ha-Ha crew are at the Ha-Ha Preview at Two Harbors, Catalina, on August 12, and at the West Marine Ha-Ha Kickoff Party the day before the start of the event - although the latter is cutting it closer than we would recommend for landing a berth.
The mistake a lot of potential crewmembers make is sort of sitting back and waiting for the golden Ha-Ha opportunity to come to them. As with the rest of life, such good things rarely just fall in one's lap. So we recommend that you be nimble and aggressive about looking for a berth. Investigate all opportunities, network with skippers who are going but already have full crew, go to the Ha-Ha pre-events, read the Classy Classifieds, take out a Classy Classified - whatever it takes to achieve your goal. With 120 to 150 boats expected, if you show a little effort and perseverence, there is no way you should get left out. Good luck!
As for Ornaith, to our knowledge the mystery of her disappearance has never been solved.
LA PAZ IS A SOCIAL EXPERIMENT IN PROGRESS
This is my first letter to Latitude, although I feel as though we've been in contact for years! I'm an avid reader, and find the articles to be of exceptional quality. With encouragement from the Letters and other editorial, I left my high-tech office job about six years ago to start a sailing school, and now live in La Paz for six months a year, and spend the other six in San Francisco. At both locations I teach sailing, kitesurfing, and am a sailing adventure guide.
When I first visited La Paz 20 years ago, I fell in love with the people, the girls, the city - and, of course, the wind. Now, as a member of the yachting community in La Paz, I take great pride in our city and its slow growth. I enjoy Marina de La Paz immensely as a home away from home, and, as you noted, the Shroyer family that runs the marina are excellent hosts. The other big marinas in town provide more space for larger yachts, and are also nice for those who prefer to be away from the center of town. The nearby islands provide destinations well worth visiting.
The state of Baja California Sur was only formed in 1974, and La Paz is a young city. Compared to Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, La Paz is far behind in commercial development. Those of us who live in La Paz consider it to be a social experiment in progress, in that the city identity and culture is still being formed.
I appreciated the intent of your Blog of the Sea Of Cortez article covering La Paz in the April issue. However, there are a few important clarifications I'd like to make, as you might have offended Paceños - people who were born in La Paz - and your errors unfortunately may only have contributed to La Paz' sense of inferiority.
First of all, your suggestion that years ago men spat at women in shorts is an anecdotal story without merit. False. Stop it. A misunderstanding such as that would never happen. To refer back to this anecdote to start is not representative of the city then or now. Kindness and respect to women is a high priority in La Paz, and anything less is not tolerated.
In addition, an asadera is a barbeque restaurant. Arachera is a type of steak, like tri-tip, which is tender and more expensive. Lastly, the name of the large grocery is Soriana, not Sorriano's, as you wrote. By the way, we refer to the Soriana, at the corner of Colosio and Forjadores, as the new center of town, not the edge of town. There, you will also find a giant Cineplex movie theater - Wednesday is discount night - as well as many other stores and restaurants, plus a City Club membership discount store.
Back to food. If four people ate three arachera tacos each, that would be 17 pesos each, plus a juice or beer, at 23 pesos each, plus a salad at 25 pesos, plus 10% IVA tax, plus tip, would be close to $50 - not the $21 and $26 that you reported.
Rancho Viejo was a great, expensive restaurant until late April, when most of the staff left. It's simply no longer the same, as the service isn't as good and the food has suffered. I still eat there often because of its proximity to the marina and because it's open 24 hours a day. But I order carefully, and check with the staff to be sure that they are going to bring the food. Papas rellenas - or potatoes with toppings, including meat - are the most popular, although a Papa Rellena Arachera is 90 pesos, so it's expensive.
I would concur that the food of La Paz is not exceptional, as it's very difficult to get a good meal with good service at a sit-down restaurant. For desayuno (breakfast) I find Gorilla's to be exceptional. For sena (dinner) Los Arcos restaurant is very good and very affordable. La Paz specializes in hot dogs, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, hamburgers - and, of course, fish, shrimp, and carne asada tacos. Cruisers who stick with buying these from street carts late at night will be in good shape, but I tell my visitors not to overeat, particularly the first night. Many gringos overeat and suffer. I also recommend avoiding too many raw vegetables from condiment plates sitting out. In particular, don't overeat from the plates of raw cucumbers sitting out at tables, as you're likely to get sick.
Aside from the 'have not' complex compared to the 'haves' of Cabo, La Paz is a ranchero city with a great deal to offer the sailor. Marina de La Paz has a list of service providers and their phone numbers are available free in the main office, and you can hail each marina on VHF 16 to ask for specifics. Boat parts are difficult to come by in La Paz, and certified mechanics are not reliable - so plan on managing your own part deliveries and oversee all repairs personally. You simply must be on site while any work is being done on your boat. If you don't like the work being done, stop it right away, as it will be cheaper to correct it immediately. I hear a lot of rumors about bad repairs, and overcharging on time is common if the boat owner isn't around. On the other hand, there are also some great workers - most of whom can be recommended by the marinas.
As a gentle reminder, many islands are protected, so you may need a 40 pesos/day permit to go ashore at places such as Espiritu Santo. No access is allowed at Cerralvo. When out at the islands, you're not allowed to bring dogs ashore or collect shells. All garbage should be packed out, and any extraneous garbage picked up. We hope that the entire area will be protected from fishing before long. I also suggest that you don't mess around with the sea lions' rocky territories or aggressively play with them in the water. But you can dive around them and swim in the vicinity.
The Bay of La Paz has a clearly marked channel that hugs the cityfront shore. Don't attempt to go outside the channel, as it's very shallow. I run around with a short-shaft outboard on my inflatable. Most importantly, if you visit La Paz, enjoy walking the malecón and its many beaches. It's also a short drive to the Pacific Ocean or to Bahia de Los Muertos on the Sea of Cortez.
Thanks again for your magazine, I'll be
looking forward to more articles about the Sea of Cortez.
Paul - Thank you very much for the kind words, but we're confused why you're so adamant about disputing the veracity of our firsthand experiences. After all, we were there and you weren't.
We didn't make up the story about the woman being spat at. It's not false. She was an attractive young blonde who was a member of our Contrary to Ordinary crew in the '83 Long Beach-to-La Paz Race. She was with her boyfriend when she was spat at several times in the malecón area. Having been sailing in the Sea of Cortez area for several years previously, we'd warned her about possible animosity that might be generated by her wearing clothing that was too revealing for the local standards of the time. But as a young woman in the early '80s, she wasn't about to have anybody tell her what she could or couldn't wear.
But as we noted, that happened a very long time ago when La Paz was a very different place. Heck, many of the young women in La Paz - as well as in California high schools - now dress more suggestively than did the whores back then at the Mi Ranchito whorehouse that everybody - women included - used to go to after the races. If you were there at the time, you'll remember that whorehouses of the era - we have no idea what they are like now - were as much for just hanging out as they were places to pay for sex. Not that we ever found the idea of Mexican whorehouse sex very appealing.
We confess to getting asadera confused with arachera. Oddly enough, the bungle was made when we were confirming the correct meanings. We did spell Soriana's wrong also, but we're not going to lose any sleep over it. By the way, it was Neil and Mary Shroyer who characterized Soriana's as being in the fast-growing outskirts of town - although we can see that the definition of 'outskirts' is both subjective and subject to rapid change.
But once again, we're baffled by your disputing what we paid for our dinners. The four of us went to Rancho Viejo and ate our fill of what sounded good to us - including arachera - and we paid a total of $26, including the drinks and tax, but not the tip. Wayne, Bruce and Doña can vouch for the amount of the bill, and that we all thought the food was delicious. Rancho Viejo was busy when we visited, and the service wasn't like McDonalds, but we weren't in a hurry and didn't care.
While the channel into La Paz Bay is clearly marked, we would not recommend anyone enter at night for the first couple of times, as there is that nearly 90-degree turn by Marina Costa Baja that can make the sequence of buoys confusing.
We're surprised to learn that La Paz suffers from an inferiority complex, and can't imagine why. After all, it's not as if being bigger and more developed is necessarily better - as has been proven by central Cabo San Lucas. As far as we're concerned, La Paz has a lot going for it, not the least of which is being the gateway to the terrific cruising area between La Paz and Loreto - which we cover this month in The Blog Of the Sea Of Cortez, Part II.
OUR BEST TO JILL AND ANDY
Please relay hugs and our best to Andy and Jill Rothman, as we were so sorry to read about the loss of their J/44 First Light during their Atlantic crossing. We're so glad that they and crewman Bruce Ladd were able to get off safely.
We, aboard Kiana, had the pleasure of sailing in company with Jill and Andy in the 2000 Over The Top Rally from Gove to Darwin, Australia. Our last encounter with them was in Larnaca, Cyprus. It was 2002, and we shared a lot of laughter about our adventures coming up the Red Sea.
Jill and Andy are wonderful examples of the fine people we met in the international cruising community, a group we were fortunate enough to be a part of for six years. We wish the Rothmans all the best.
Also, thanks for reminding us - in the
February Latitude - of why we love the Pacific Northwest.
After sailing full circle back into the cold, it's sometimes
hard to forget palm trees, blue sky and warm weather. Now our
homeport is Friday Harbor, a grand base in these magical archipelagoes.
Ziggy and Davie - The Rothmans are wonderful people and terrific sailors, which is what made it so infuriating when some armchair sailors began to nosily question their decision to abandon their boat.
ONLY A HANDFUL OF ACTIVISTS WERE INVOLVED
I've enclosed a flier that refers to the Bush cover-up of the NOAA reports of big hurricanes. Every capital city is a potential Katrina waiting to happen.
Over the years, the liveaboard communities around the country have had to organize to continue to have the right to anchor in federal waters. Only a handful of activists were involved.
Today's crisis affects everyone from marinas to marine businesses to insurance companies, to homeowners and boatowners.
We need the facts. The reports and studies
must be made public. Hurricane preparedness is being informed.
Pass the word.
Michael - In our opinion, 'The Facts' are to be found in history books, not necessarily NOAA data and reports. And the facts are clear: the entire East Coast of the United States - all the way up to Maine - as well as the entire Gulf Coast, is subject to being hit by powerful hurricanes on any day of the summer or fall. And it's not whether Manhattan will ever get hit by a hurricane, but rather when it will be hit again and how extensive the damage will be. And before anybody starts crying 'global warming', the last time Manhattan got hit was 1938, long before everybody started driving SUVs at 10 miles per gallon.
The only good thing about Katrina is that it has eliminated the possibility that anybody on the East or Gulf Coasts can claim ignorance that they are living in a risky area. This is the same thing that Mount St. Helens did for those who live near volcanos, the '89 earthquakes did for people who live in earthquake zones like the Bay Area, the tsunami did for people living on the Pacific Rim, and so forth. If people are willing to take the chance of living in risky areas, they need to be ready to assume much of the responsibility for what might happen to them and what they might lose. It's all about taking basic responsibility for one's actions and decisions. We say this even though we own a condo right on the water in one of the world's busiest hurricane zones, and we've long kept a boat in another busy hurricane area.
Speaking of personal responsibility, we're not sure how you managed to segue from NOAA data reports to activists fighting to keep federal and other anchorages free. But in our opinion, it was precisely the often gross lack of personal responsibility on the part of some liveaboards that caused so many anchorages to be shut down. Pass the word about that.
WHAT TO DO WITH THE HOUSE WHILE CRUISING
We took off cruising for six years starting in '96, but didn't sell our house. And we're very glad we didn't. We haven't found anywhere better than Northern California for old age, and had we sold our house, we couldn't have afforded to move back to our old neighborhood.
For those folks with a house who want to go cruising, even if they don't want to return to their old house, I would suggest they hire a property manager and rent it while they cruise. It will always be appreciating, and if the owners decide they don't want to live in it again when they finish cruising, they can always sell it then.
However, I would definitely not try to manage property oneself while cruising thousands of miles away. It will only create unnecessary stress when you're trying to enjoy yourself. Just figure you'll have to recarpet and repaint your house when you're done renting it.
As far as what other cruisers did after they finished cruising, many West Coast cruisers we know kept their houses, while others moved to Washington or Oregon, and the last few decided to live in Mexico. As for retired cruisers on the East Coast, a few kept their houses up north, but it's too cold up there in the winter for most retired cruisers, so many bought houses or condos in Florida. A few ended up in the Carolinas.
When we returned from our cruise in '02, we spent a few winters in our home in Northern California. But after that, we decided that we wanted to cruise in the winter and spend our summers in the Bay Area. So we bought a boat in Florida, and last winter sailed her to the Caribbean. We're storing her in Trinidad for the summer hurricane season.
By the way, we've noticed a big difference in the people out cruising now as compared to those we met in 1996. Their boats are much bigger - typically between 44 and 53 feet - and they have all the conveniences of home, such as air conditioners and washing machines. In addition, the cruisers were spending hours on their computers and didn't seem to socialize as much with each other. In addition, almost everyone we met this year was a part-time cruiser, whereas almost everyone we met in the late '90s was a full-time cruiser. Even the European cruisers all seemed to be going home for the summer.
As an aside, all those megayachts you wrote
about in St. Barths over the New Year holidays moved over to
Simpson Bay Lagoon in St. Martin after it was over. We've never
seen so many big sailboats and powerboats in one place at a time.
It was great fun watching them all enter and exit through the
narrow bridge opening. We hope to see you down in the clear blue
water of the Caribbean some time.
Nancy and Peter - Thanks for your fine observations. We'd only disagree with your assertion that houses "will always be appreciating." Houses have appreciated wildly since you started cruising, of course, and better San Francisco Bay Area homes have rarely ever gone down in value. And while we personally don't expect a collapse in the value of homes, we're all but certain that the kind of appreciation seen in the last 10 years isn't going to be repeated any time soon. This doesn't mean we disagree with your philosophy of renting one's house out instead of selling it, just that people need to be realistic about how well their home will perform as an investment over the next five years.
As for St. Martin, it really has become the megayachting center of the Caribbean, surpassing even Antigua. The odd thing is that, generally speaking, those megayachts are seldom used. Yeah, they all come over to St. Barth for about four days around New Years, but then most of them spend about 80% of the rest of the winter tied to a dock in St. Martin, with crew and service people polishing and repairing their little lives away, awaiting the rare return of owners and/or charterers.
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE 'GIVENS'
My husband and I have been living the cruising life since '99, but we think there are a couple of so-called 'givens' that need to be discussed.
The first 'given' is often found in cruising books, where it is highly recommended that people sell their homes in order to buy a cruising boat and to cruise. That's sort of what we did, when we finished our 20-year project building our Roberts 43 in 1996. We sold our house, got on our boat, sailed beneath the Gate, and turned left. The problem with this romantic notion of cruising is that at some point we're all going to become ill or enfeebled, and will need a place to return to.
In fact, both my husband and I developed health issues that required us to return to the Bay Area. But since we'd sold our house to our daughter, we were in a bind for a place to stay while we tended to our health issues - which also included major dental problems. Our daughter and her husband were great about our staying with them, and never complained or made us feel unwelcome. In fact, they even built a bedroom for us to stay in every time we came back to town. But as the illnesses got worse and our stays became longer, it became uncomfortable. We felt we were infringing upon their space, and felt cramped in our space.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that, if at all possible, don't sell your house to go cruising. But if you do have to sell it, try to have at least something to come back to when you have health issues, when you want to retire from cruising, or just to visit your family. It could be a condo, cottage, RV, trailer - any place to hang your hat where you don't feel as though you're a burden. I've spoken to some other cruisers - both men and women - who have found themselves in situations similar to ours, and they expressed similar feelings.
As for ourselves, we've got an RV. In fact, we commute cruise, spending six months a year on our boat in Mexico, and six months a year in our RV. Next week we leave for Alaska.
Now that I've unloaded my thoughts, I will
probably get a lot of flack from fellow cruisers. However, I
do feel better having been able to express my opinion about some
of the realities of cruising and post-cruising.
Dorie - Why would you catch flack for having done nothing but raise a few of the most basic questions about personal financial planning?
We don't know what cruising books you read before you took off, but we certainly wouldn't advise anyone to sell their home and put all the proceeds into a cruising boat - unless they had a lot of other income or were dyed-in-the-wool 'cruise until we croak' people. Everyone's financial situation is different, of course, and nobody can predict what will happen to the value of homes and other types of investments, but here are three scenarios we might suggest:
1) Keep the house for a rental, but get an equity loan to buy and/or finance a cruising boat. You won't be able to afford as grand a cruising boat as if you sold the house and put all the proceeds into the boat, but in return you get greater long-term financial security. It's not going to solve your problem of where to stay if you have to come home for a couple of months for medical care - but maintaining an empty residence while you cruise wouldn't make much fiscal sense either. When you have to come home for medical treatment, we suggest that you rent an apartment on a month-to-month basis.
2) Sell your house and use part of the proceeds to buy a house/condo to rent out in a much less expensive housing market, using the rest of your equity to buy/finance your cruising boat. San Francisco is one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, but people who haven't travelled much often think this is the only place worth retiring. It seems to us that the Bay Area is best for people on career paths or raising children, as it's too expensive, has too much traffic, and is too cold in the winter to be ideal for retirement.
Keep in mind that there are lots of much less expensive housing markets outside of the Bay Area and outside the United States. It's no secret why so many retired Americans have been moving to Mexico - it's much less expensive, very good health and dental care are a fraction of U.S. prices, and it offers a more tranquil pace of life. Why any retired person would struggle financially to live out their years in the Bay Area as opposed to living like a king on the same amount of money in Mexico is a mystery to us.
3) Sell your house and use part of the money to buy a cruising boat and the other part to buy an RV or liveaboard boat in the States to do 'six and six' - as you apparently have done. As you know, you can RV or liveaboard on a boat for peanuts compared to what it costs to own and maintain a home in the Bay Area.
Anyway, thank you for raising the issue for folks trying to figure out their cruising and post-work options. We'll have more letters on this subject in the next issue.
BEWARE OF GREEKS SEIZING CRUISING BOATS
The Greek government detained the American sailing yacht Limerence in mid-June for 72 hours in the Port of Patras to assess a 'cruising tax' that applies to all non-European Union sail or power yachts that have remained in Greek waters for over 90 days. However, there is no official written policy explaining this tax. As such, many boat owners are being caught unaware.
After being in 'bond' and on the hard at Gouvia Marina in Corfu for the winter, Limerence was processed by Customs and the Greek Coast Guard, and authorized to depart. Within nine days, Limerence entered the Port of Patras, where authorities determined she was in violation of the Greek Cruising Law for non-EU yachts. The tax, approximately $800 U.S., was paid under protest by the owner because the tax is in violation of EU and international law.
At issue is the fact that the Greek government continues to impose a series of punitive and discriminatory taxes and regulations on both EU-flagged and non-EU flagged yachts. The actions appear to contravene EU regulations for uniform treatment and free travel within EU countries.
A petition was filed with the EU Commission in '03 regarding this group of taxes. The Commission found that Greece was not in compliance with EU regulations and laws. The Greek government modified the law (L.3182/2003) by excluding boats from EU countries from the law; the taxes remain in effect for all other yachts.
With regard to non-EU yachts, the Greeks enforce the law as follows:
1) Non-EU-flagged yachts entering Greek waters must purchase a 'Private Pleasure Maritime Traffic Document', which costs $40 at the customs office. This document must be stamped at each port by port police at a fee of up to $18. Proof of insurance is also required.
2) All non-EU yachts in Greece over 90 days, no matter if they are in or out of the water, or under bond, are assessed a 'cruising tax'. The tax is calculated monthly at about $20 EU, plus 19% VAT per meter every three months. The tax is collected when the yacht departs Greek waters or at intermediate stops as determined by officials. There is no written document explaining this tax procedure.
3) Greece is the only EU country imposing these time-consuming taxes and regulations, which are administered unevenly throughout the country.
The strategy for dealing with these taxes
is to limit the stay of one's boat in Greece to less than 90
days. As such, it's common for people to winter their yachts
in Turkey or Croatia. For the most recent updates regarding these
taxes, consult www.noonsite.com.
Readers - Those of you who did the 2000 Ha-Ha may remember Doug and Judy as fellow participants. They've been busy cruising since then, spending the first year on the Pacific Coast of Mexico and Central America, including five months in Costa Rica. After Panama and three months in the San Blas, they spent six months in Cartagena. They returned to Panama, and sailed up the Western Caribbean to Florida. After a refit in Ft. Lauderdale, the Deckers shipped Limerence to the island of Mallorca off Spain and, after cruising that summer, wintered over in Barcelona. The following summer they cruised Spain's Costa Brava, the French and Italian Rivieras, and spent the winter near Rome. Starting in the spring of '05, they cruised southern Italy, went through the Messina Straits to Sicily, up the Adriatic Sea to Croatia, Montenegro and Albania. They put Limerence on the hard at Corfu, Greece, for last winter. Based on the fact that the couple will do many of the Greek Islands this summer on their way to Turkey, and plan to make Turkey their base for the next several years, you can conclude that they've been having a great time with their 37-ft boat.
The Deckers are maintaining a very nice website at www.deckersailing.com. The part we particularly enjoy is their 'Friends Photos - Europe', and 'Friends Photos - the Americas', under the 'Photo Album' section. These are all straight-forward head and shoulders photos that nonetheless give you a terrific idea of just how many 'regular' folks are out there cruising, and how easy it is to make great friends around the world.
As for Greek officials, they were pulling the same kind of nonsense when we were there with Big O back in the mid-'90s. You have to say this for Mexico; unlike Greece, they seem to understand that it's much smarter to welcome rather than punish visitors.
LOOKS LIKE ANOTHER GREAT SPOT
The isthmus pictured in the June 9 'Lectronic Latitude photo quiz sure looks like Agua Verde in the Sea of Cortez to me - and would have been taken from the same location as the beautiful cover photo of the June issue. We - my wife and two young daughters - spent a few nights there on several occasions during our four-month cruise in the Sea of Cortez aboard our Sceptre 41 Magena.
As we recall, there was a full-time resident
who was the 'caretaker' of the small hut. However, I recall another
small building located on the beach, so I may be mistaken regarding
the location shown in the photo. In any event, it looks like
another great spot to spend some time.
Jeff - It certainly is the isthmus at Agua Verde, and the photo was indeed taken not 150 feet from where the June cover photo was taken. We had about 40 people guess the location of the isthmus. About 50% got it right, with a number of others thinking it was at Caleta Partida, Bahia Concepción, Mulege, Bahia de Los Angeles and other places.
Yes, thanks to John Farnsworth, Lecturer in Environmental Writing, Composition and Rhetoric at Santa Clara University, we now know that the plural of isthmus is not isthmuses or isthmui, but isthmi. Can't believe we didn't remember that from Mrs. Archibald's 7th-grade Latin class at Montara Junior High School.
Auckland, New Zealand, has a very narrow isthmus between the Tasman sea - where it enters the Manakau Harbour - and the Pacific Ocean on the other side, where it enters the Hauraki Gulf and Auckland Harbour. I believe this is the narrowest isthmus between both sides of one country and two oceans.
Famed naval architect Ron Holland, who
now lives in County Cork, Ireland, is from Onehunga, which is
at the most inland end of the Manakau Harbour. There is only
a couple of hundred yards between the Tasman Sea and the Pacific
Michael - The definition of an isthmus is "a narrow strip of land with sea on either side, forming a link between two larger areas of land," so we guess it qualifies. But it's certainly not as dramatic an isthmus as at Two Harbors, Panama or Agua Verde.
Oh-oh. While checking the definition of isthmus on our computer, it shows 'isthmuses' as the plural of isthmus. So from now on, we'll accept either spelling.
HARD-WATER AND SOFT-WATER SAILING
Speaking of isthmi and boats, the city
of Madison, Wisconsin, is located on a very nice isthmus between
Lakes Mendota and Monona. Both afford good small- and large-boat
sailing in the summer, aka 'soft-water' season, with ice-boating
in the winter, aka 'hard-water' season!
Murray - We had no idea. But we checked Google Earth, and you're not making that up.
FROM THE '82 SAILING
The photo of the isthmus sure looks like Isla Partida, just north of La Paz, exactly how it was during the 1982 Sea of Cortez Sailing Week. If you've got a good memory, you may remember us - ex-Brigadoon, and 'Dr. Bob' of Carina, and now the Excalibur 26 in Lake Tahoe.
I'm sorry to hear that you are 'stepping
back' from editorial responsibilities at Latitude, but
having been retired since 1992, I understand your posture, and
compliment you on the decision to do it early rather than making
the mistake many do, of waiting until one is too old (and too
late) to enjoy the fruits of your labors.
Howard - While we don't remember you personally, we certainly do remember the Sea of Cortez Sailing Week, now gone but not forgotten. However, that's not the isthmus that appeared in the photo.
You, like a lot of readers, seem to be unclear about our new role at Latitude. We are by no means completely stepping back from editorial responsibilities. In fact, we will still be doing Letters, which is about 14 pages a month, and which is where our editorial perspective is most clearly expressed. In addition, we'll continue to do 15 pages of Changes each month. That's 29 pages right there, out of an average of about 100 each month, so you haven't heard the last from us. Our goals are to be relieved of many day-to-day responsibilities, sail more frequently, and to new places, and to create more mischief.
WHAT OTHERS HAVE TO SAY
I'd like to suggest that there be a way
for people to add their comments about articles or items in 'Lectronic Latitude.
For example, it would be nice to hear what other sailors have
to say about Tom Perkins' 287-ft Maltese Falcon, as featured
in the June 8 'Lectronic.
Douglas - The problem with doing something like that is that, unless we can monitor such comments, a small minority of readers would be inspired to rant, libel and otherwise carry on in ways we don't want associated with our publications. And we don't have the staff or interest to do that kind of monitoring. The good news is that it's easy to comment on anything that appears in 'Lectronic - just send a letter to Latitude. If it's interesting, without being libelous or a complete rant, we'll publish it in Letters. We do it all the time.
ON THE LEARNING CURVE ABOARD PROFLIGATE
I wanted to say 'thanks' for the great learning experience I had aboard Profligate during the Baja Bash. I certainly had three competent but vastly different teachers on the trip. There was Doña, who I dubbed 'The Call Girl', as she always seemed to have three phones on her at all times. Then there was Bruce Ladd, the 'Quiet Guy', who, despite having had to abandon a boat mid-Atlantic a few months previously, gently led me through the technical stuff. Then there was Wayne, the 'Mango Man', who guided me around a few scary moments.
Since I was the least experienced crewmember, my learning curve was steep. Here are the Top Ten things I learned:
1) Take an anti-seasickness pill before you find your head in a bucket!
2) Sailing at 8.3 knots in calm seas is way better than 3.8 knots in rough seas.
3) With four people aboard, do not buy 36 eggs - no matter what Doña says!
4) When you get close to Customs and Immigration in San Diego, prepare a 'Customs Stew', using all the food products that would otherwise be confiscated.
5) When you are the least experienced person onboard, do more listening, watching and helping than offering your opinions.
6) The 0200 to 0400 watch sucks!
7) I can actually go seven days without washing my hair!
8) When pounding into rough seas for 24 hours, I can be on watch for six of those hours, sleep for 18 of those hours - and still not feel refreshed!
9) If you haven't bathed in eight days, a cold shower on a windy deck feels great!
10) Stopping to spend the night on the hook in a calm anchorage every now and then can prevent a mutiny.
We had some great laughs together on the
Bash, and I look forward to more life-enhancing experiences!
Carolina - Doña says that despite your not having any experience, you were a terrific crewmember.
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