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HONEY, LET'S DO IT AGAIN!
Love, remember the feeling? The rush and excitement that morning as we watched 'C' dock in Sausalito fade in the distance? It was a hard sell, and you said that you would "give it a year." Well, it lasted for four. Our family thought we were nuts, but we knew different, didn't we? Save for the family matters that brought us home, we might still be out there.
I feel that we have one more adventure in us before the window closes. You think that we shouldn't even be thinking of going again at our ages. But dear, there are lots of folks out there as old and older than we are. And honey, there isn't another 66-year-old who looks as good as you, who can stand a watch like you, or who can steer or cook like you.
And it would be so much better the second time around. We know so much more now than we did then. I don't think we would have fuel or electrical gremlins like we had in Monterey. And I'm sure the gooseneck wouldn't come apart as it did between San Diego and Turtle Bay. I would be very careful of what I ate so I could avoid that awful Salmonella thing that I picked up in Cabo. We know so much more about weather that I'm sure we wouldn't ever again be stuck at Los Frailes for seven days waiting for a Norther to blow itself out. It would also be inconceivable to think that our autopilot would fail again and that we would again have to hand steer from San Diego all the way to Puerto Vallarta.
The loss of our stern anchor in the middle of the night at beautiful Zihuatanejo had to be a one-time fluke. The mechanical problems too. You remember - the transmission we had to rebuild in good old Pedro Miguel. I could rebuild that again, if I had to. And sure, our outboard passed on in Acapulco, but we could deal with it.
I learned some big lessons, honey. We'd never go anywhere again without the emergency rudder, the one we didn't have when we needed it between Roatan and Guatemala. We sure were lucky that our dear friends on Lyon Around towed us to Puerto Cortez, Honduras, for the haulout and fabrication of a homemade rudder. Imagine the cultural experience we would have missed if all that hadn't happened.
And dear, think of all the little things
we learned: The boat sails just as fast with a reef or two as
with a full main. You can actually cruise Belize without a working
depth sounder. The loss of refrigeration for a few months is
not the end of the world. Lightning in Florida doesn't always
But most of all dear, I treasure those four years that I had you all to myself, by ourselves. You never whined, missed a watch, or failed a challenge. It was magic. Let's do it again.
P.S. I know that she will see this because
she reads Latitude 38 cover to cover.
A COCKPIT THAT MORPHED INTO A HOT TUB
In the January 24 'Lectronic, you had a short item about how cruising has changed over the years. You also published two photos of the tiny Cowhorn schooner Sunspirit, taken in the Virgin Islands in the '80s, to illustrate a cruising boat from that era. You said that a young couple, the woman of which was six months pregnant, had sailed her down from New England and, despite the boat's small size and complete lack of amenities, always seemed to be smiling. You closed by wondering if anybody knew what happened to them.
Even though their names escape me, I know who you mean. I met them in Provincetown, MA, in the early '90s. The guy and I were each on the hook waiting out a Nor'Easter. I was aboard my Quickstep 24, and he was aboard the little Cowhorn schooner. His wife and kids had gone home to wait out the storm.
The guy and I drank a few rums over a period of several days, mostly aboard Sunspirit, which didn't have much headroom, but because of her beam had a luxuriously comfortable salon/playpen. He told me that he and his wife had two children, two of whom had been born in the Dominican Republic, where medical care had been both good and cheap at the time. They tried to tow a greenheart beam back to Cape Cod, as it was to be the keel of their next boat. But a storm came up and they had to cut it loose.
As it turns out, I saw their next boat when I visited them in Wellfleet on the Cape. It was, to the owner's surprise, another Cowhorn, but 30 feet or so. In the universe of Cowhorns, that's a huge boat. The new one, which was planked at the time I visited, included - gasp! - cabins and a cockpit which could morph into a hot tub with the insertion of a couple of scupper plugs!
They were an alternative lifestyle couple. While he built the boat, she was the town clerk or some such thing. They home schooled the kids. Home was a compound of yurts, including a school yurt, a kid's room yurt, a parent's bedroom yurt, a kitchen yurt and another yurt or two as occasion demanded. Sadly, marital discord had me moving away and, as a result, I have nothing further to add to the saga.
Incidentally, the Cowhorn is a type of
vessel developed on Block Island in the late 18th century, and
was used for fishing. Her low freeboard on the sides made it
easy to pull laden nets aboard, and her broad beam made her a
good load-carrier. The traditional ballast was beach stones.
Local legend holds that none were ever lost at sea. Chappelle
says these boats were used into the 20th century. By the way,
in the early days of Cowhorns, Block Island didn't have a protected
harbor. But then a local vandal dug through the sandspit to the
kettle pond, which is now the harbor.
Creighton - Readers like you never fail
to amaze us. Thanks for taking the time to write.
My husband and I are planning on cruising this fall, and are in the process of outfitting our boat. We were wondering if you could let us know which offshore liferaft was most often carried during the last couple of Baja Ha-Has and Puddle Jumps. They all seem comparable, so we're just wondering if there were one or two brands that seemed to show up on boats more often than others.
We really enjoy Latitude.
Jean - Thanks for the kind words. Based on our Ha-Ha survey, we know that 81 of the 140 respondents from last year's event had liferafts before fitting out for the Ha-Ha, and 29 of them bought liferafts just for the event. Unfortunately, the survey wasn't so detailed that it asked for a breakdown of brands, of which there are many.
It's hard to get firsthand feedback on the quality of liferafts because - thankfully - they get used so rarely. Nonetheless, if you take your life seriously, it's an item worth investigating. In addition to contacting liferaft retailers who advertise in Latitude, we recommend you spend some time checking out the various brands and categories at an event such as Strictly Sail Pacific in Oakland, April 18-22. For unless they are open and on display, it's hard to evaluate them.
Anybody else out there with advice on liferafts?
WHAT ABOUT THOSE HA-HA STARTING PHOTOS?
We somehow managed to bungle our chance
to buy a Ha-Ha starting line photo of the boat for a donation
to the orphanage in La Paz. Can the Poobah tell me where I can
look to remedy that? Anything that shows our J/40 Mal de Mer
III would be wonderful. And thanks for the wonderful event
down the coast of Baja.
Cindy and Ed - It took us awhile to get them up, but they can be found at www.latitude38.com/gallery.htm. Annie Bates-Winship, our photographer in the helicopter, managed to get about 110 of the 160 boats that started - including yours. Check it out.
DISASTERS OFFER CHANCES TO LEARN
Regarding the loss of the Baba 30 Flybaby as reported in February's Sightings, doesn't anybody heave to anymore?
I want to thank Mitch Manina of the Roughwater 33 Hanali, who had been buddyboating with Flybaby, for his candid and, hence, instructive report. Disasters always offer chances to learn. It's tempting to sit here - warm, dry and safe - and judge the actions of others, but we can learn from them.
Manina reports that:
1) Flybaby was lost in "25-35 knots of wind and 15 to 20-ft breaking seas."
2) R.T. on Flybaby "couldn't get his sails down because the confused seas were overpowering his autopilot and he couldn't leave the helm."
3) ". . . his engine had quit and he had to ride it out."
Onboard Hanali, Manini says:
1) "I was afraid to give up the helm. So I stayed at the tiller for 12 hours."
2) "Fortunately, after dodging fishing pots and a narrow channel, we made Turtle Bay just after dark." Turtle Bay was unfamiliar to him and, according to him and his wife, unlit, unmarked and poorly charted.
3) "Another night at sea wasn't an option."
It's clear that fatigue had gotten the upper hand on both boats. Much of this could have been avoided by employing the ancient technique of heaving to. Doesn't anyone heave to anymore?
If you're going to go cruising, I have
two reading assignments for you: Storm Tactics by Lin
and Larry Pardey, and Heavy Weather Sailing by Adlard
Coles. You should also read Latitude 38, the only sailing
magazine with the heart to publish the bad news as well as the
Readers - We think that Baardsen, who did a circumnavigation with his wife Mary, is right. Even if you're just going to sail down the coast of Baja, you should have read Storm Tactics and Heavy Weather Sailing - and you should have practiced some of the techniques. For it's when the weather gets rough, you and your crew get weary, and things start to fail on your boat that you really need a tried and true response. While heaving to may not be the best option for every boat in every bad weather situation, it's one of the most common and effective techniques for dealing with rough stuff. In most instances it takes a lot of pressure off the crew and the boat, and as such has saved a lot of crews and boats over the years.
To prove to yourself how effective heaving to can be, give it a try the next time it's blowing 25 knots. You'll be surprised at how much more mellow things suddenly become. In fact, heaving to is just as much a technique for comfort as it is safety. Some cruisers temporarily heave to in only moderately rough conditions in order to better enjoy a meal or let everyone catch up on sleep. It's the nautical equivalent of pulling over to a rest stop, and far superior to simply dropping all sail.
NEVER BEFORE SEEN IN LATITUDE, A . . .
This poem was composed on a very nasty night off Cape San Martin, after the preventer on the main broke, causing such a violent accidental jibe that it destroyed the traveller. With 15-ft following swells and 30 knots of wind, I had to get the main down. It turned out to be a harrowing experience. When I turned into the wind to drop the main, water filled the cockpit. And everything happened so fast that I didn't even have time to tie myself on while putting gaskets on the main. It was only once I made it back into the cockpit that I realized the danger I had placed myself in, and I became very introspective. The poem was composed mostly in my head at that point, and later put down on paper in the safety of San Simeon Bay. I think most sailors will enjoy it.
in the dark of the night
Rick - We're not sure if you're aware of this, but we haven't published any poetry - as opposed to limericks - in Latitude for 30 years. We don't think it or recipes belong in sailing magazines. But your poem seems to be heartfelt enough that we decided to make an exception. But we're warning all poets, it's probably going to be 30 years before we publish any more.
LIGHT UP THE NIGHT FOR SAFETY
I read the 'Lectronic report from St. Barths about the couple who had just completed a circumnavigation in January of '05, and were run down while dinghying ashore by the captain of a megayacht driving a big tender at high speed. The man was killed and his wife badly injured.
To prevent such incidents, you recommended
vigilance and waving a light around. I also suggest people do
what I've done at night - in addition to my regular running lights,
I always carry a 1,000,000-candle power portable searchlight.
They only cost $20 at a local auto parts store, but mine has
more than once proved its value while cruising in Maine. In fact,
it's been a great addition to my boat.
Tom - We recently learned the verdict of the French judicial system. As a result of killing the man, the Kiwi skipper of the 36-ft power boat - a tender for the megayacht Day Break - was given a one year suspended prison term, a one year ban on working in French waters and fined $600. We bet the guy's wrist really hurt after that slap. The fact that the circumnavigator had alcohol in his system and his dinghy wasn't showing a light apparently influenced the decision. Furthermore - and this is a puzzler to us - the owner of Day Break was found liable in a civil suit and ordered to pay $500,000 to the victim's wife, $15,000 to both of his children, and $10,000 to each of his four brothers and sisters.
We can't emphasize how dangerous it can be to operate a dinghy at night in places like St. Barth, St. Martin, the Virgin Islands and crowded ports in Mexico and elsewhere. The dinghies are primarily operated by young men intoxicated with alcohol and testosterone which, when mixed with speed, can be a fatal combination. And there is never any enforcement. Carrying a 1,000,000-candle power light to protect yourself is not a bad idea. Nor is carrying a rocket-powered grenade. Please dinghy defensively.
MY ANSWER WAS TO GET MY OWN DAMN BOAT
For women who want to sail, the course that leads us to our dream life can sometimes be rough and rocky. While there are many opportunities to go sailing, telling the difference between a good one and a bad one is not always easy - even for those of us blessed with good 'people radar'. Despite looking very hard, it's possible to miss something in the clutter.
I grew up in farm country and knew nothing about boats. That all changed in my early 20s when, working as a bartender, I met a man who said, "Baby, let me show you my boat." It was a 28-ft sloop. When he took me out on her, I fell in love - with sailing, not the man. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wanted to spend the rest of my life sailing.
So I looked for a crew position. I found one, and flew to the Pacific Northwest to join a boat eventually heading to Tahiti. Before joining the boat, I spoke to the captain by telephone numerous times. I also spoke to his ex-girlfriend, who was overseas and whose only negative comment was that he could be quite chauvinistic. Once I arrived at the boat, we spent nearly three weeks in port getting ready for the trip. The captain was very social, had a great sense of humor and was a tremendous storyteller. I saw no reason not to make the trip with him.
Shortly after our departure, I discovered that the twisted channels of the Inside Passage closely matched those of the captain's mind. By day we picked our way carefully through convoluted passages rife with rushing tides, whirlpools and rocks hidden in the dark waters. The nights, when we'd anchor in some remote wilderness cove, were more terrifying for me than anything that the roiling waters could have thrown at the boat. The captain deliberately chose passages and anchorages that were devoid of all civilization. Normally, I would have loved to have been in the natural world, far from everyone and everything. However, once securely anchored for the night, the captain's favorite pastime was thinking up new ways to torture me - mentally and physically. There were times when I thought I might not make it out of the wilderness alive. There were times that I didn't want to.
But I'm a survivor, and eventually the diesel tanks needed filling. I made my escape with my love of sailing still intact. But I took with me a morbid fear of all mankind. And I had many questions - such as, how had I missed this quirk of the guy's personality? And why had his former girlfriend given him such high marks? Did he do these things to her? And if so, why didn't she tell me? And if not, what made him do them to me? I'll most likely never know the answers.
A short while later, still despondent over the brutal end of my sailing dreams, I met, completely by accident, a man who owned a sailboat he was going to sail to Hawaii in a few months. The boat was in a slip in a busy marina with many people around. Still craving the sea, I had three months during which to ascertain whether or not this guy was another psychopath. In the end, after meeting his many friends and his great family, I decided that he was not dangerous, and left for the islands with him.
The three-week passage we shared was, and so far remains, the highlight of my sailing life. This despite our getting caught in a tropical storm that featured 50-knot winds and 30-ft seas. We also had the honor of being in Hawaii for Hurricane Iniki. Unlike many of our cruising friends, we still managed to have a boat after that hurricane got done with the Islands.
The captain and I agreed to marry. But just days before we were to depart for the South Pacific, he ended our relationship. I was bitter and angry for a long time, but I knew what had been missing from our relationship. After the first captain, I was no longer capable of giving freely, and was often fearful of being close. I hadn't had enough time to unload the baggage of that before we departed on our journey.
So again I was ashore when I wanted to be at sea. Many sailors, all of them single men, offered me passage aboard their boats. My answer was to get my own damn boat.
Sailing and maintaining my boat by myself were among the best ways to regain confidence in myself. And spending time among the wonderful cruising community helped restore much of my faith in human nature. The passing of time took care of the rest.
My reason for writing this? I stumbled across a back issue of Latitude Letters, March '06, in which a woman had asked of other women's bad experiences with a captain. She wrote: "In the spirit of things, I bought Capt. Tom a bait table for his boat and shirts with the boat name on them for all of us as Christmas presents. Tom bought me foulies for the winter nights' sailing."
Latitude's editorial response was: "First off, before the trip even starts, the captain, a single man, spent a couple of hundred dollars buying you, a single woman, foul weather gear. Didn't any alarms go off in your head? You always need to make the non-relationship perfectly clear in advance - and for the duration of the trip."
How does Latitude know that this captain spent hundreds on foul weather gear for this woman? Maybe the guy went shopping at Bligh's Bargain Basement. The editor's response completely overlooked the fact that these people were friends before they went sailing, and that they were exchanging Christmas gifts at the time. Had I been in her place, I probably would have assumed fair trade in the exchange as well. As for alarm bells sounding, sometimes the beast within is so well hidden that only a few are ever unlucky enough to discover it. And while I do agree that women need to state their position on any relationship, repeatedly, and sometimes at great volume, I don't know that being suspicious of the smallest gesture, instead of taking it at face value, is any way to live.
Despite what happened to me, I continue to strive to trust. And writing of my experience is certainly not meant to discourage any woman from reaching for her dream. While it's difficult to find just the right sailing partner, only a very few are actually dangerous. It was just my bad luck to find one who was, and not to recognize that fact until it was too late.
Great male sailing partners are out there.
Granted, it can take a lot of wading through the shallows, but
finally finding that deep water makes it all worthwhile. One
bastard in the bunch shouldn't dissuade anyone from a great sailing
Anonymous - With all due respect, if you were exchanging a Christmas present with a guy, and his present was worth considerably more than yours, and your alarm bells didn't go off, we can understand how you might not have been able to detect "the quirks" in the captain who abused you. Trust us, here's how the minds of too many guys work: "If I can get her to accept this dinner/trip/outfit/etc., she owes me." This is complete bullshit, but some guys believe it and will try to act on it. Even more bizarrely, some women also seem think receiving a gift creates some sort of obligation. As in, "I really didn't like the guy, but he bought me dinner, so I had to kiss him good night."
Being suspicious of any small gesture may not be any way to live, and normally you don't need to live that way, but if you're about to make a long trip on a small boat with a guy, you do need to be more suspicious than normal. And a guy giving foul weather gear to a single woman, even foul weather gear from Bligh's Bargain Bilge, isn't really a "small gesture." Indeed, in many cases it's an opening gambit.
The biggest womanizer we've ever met in our life - an older man who was both terribly overweight and terribly successful with certain types of women - continually gave us the same unwanted advice. "Always buy clothes for women. Any woman. It might not get you anywhere in the near term, but you'll be remembered. And six months down the road, who knows, there's a good chance you'll get a return on your investment."
Our advice to single women is to be careful - even a little suspicious - when sailing with new guys. The best way to do that, of course, is to sail as part of a group, preferably a group in which there is more than one woman. And unless you're really, really sure about the guy, don't go on that first long passage with him until there's at least another woman along. We all know it shouldn't have to be that way, but it is.
WHAT ABOUT THE PIRATES FOR PUPILS EVENT?
We'll be in Puerto Vallarta for the month
of March, and would like some information on the Pirates For
Pupils fund-raising regatta. We'd like to know the dates, how
to get on a boat, and how to make a contribution.
Mike - Rather than a regatta, Pirates
for Pupils is a lunch at the Dorado Restaurant, with everyone
hopefully kitted out in their most authentic pirate or wench
attire, followed by a 12-mile spinnaker run back to Paradise
Marina. The event will be held on March 21, and thus will be
a good tune-up for the Banderas Bay Regatta that follows two
All proceeds - there are no 'administrative'
or other expenses - go directly to children's educational programs
in the Punta Mita/Banderas Bay area. We hope to see you there.
We, Frank Augensteen and I, recently purchased a Yorktown 39 sailboat from a neighbor - who had been working on her in his back yard for 30 years! Several Yorktown 39 owners who have inspected the boat were absolutely stunned by the quality of the customized design, hardware and workmanship. According to them, she's "like no other Yorktown."
Credit for the quality belongs to Horst Mossbrugger, her previous owner as well as my neighbor and friend. I followed construction of the boat ever since he took delivery of the 'kit' 30 years ago, and have all along volunteered to crew for him when she was finally launched and turned left after sailing under the Gate.
When I returned home from doing Baja in '98 aboard my Pearson 365 Sea Eagle, I immediately went to Horst to share the lessons I learned and be sure he had them covered in his boat. He had them covered in every case, and in spades. The quality of his workmanship and his thoroughness have been a constant source of amazement to me.
So when Horst called me and asked if I wanted to buy the boat, I couldn't say no. The situation was that the city of San Jose had given him notice that he must move the boat in short order, and she still needed a fair amount of work for completion. My first reaction was to call the city of San Jose and plead for more time, but Horst had decided that 30 years was enough for him, and that he had a lot of traveling, sightseeing, and visiting of grandchildren to do. But if we bought the boat, he promised to consult, advise, travel and crew with the team that was to buy and finish the boat.
To honor Horst, and our previous boat, we have named the Yorktown Seeadler, German for sea eagle.
Mossbrugger was born in Germany and apprenticed as an instrumentation machinist and tool and die maker. Sailboats and sailplanes were among his hobbies when he was young, and he soloed a glider at age 16. He ended up in the U.S. working for a company helping General Motors create the air-cooled Chevy Corvair engine. Eventually, he joined IBM and spent the next 36 years working in research and development with a group of PhDs. He found the work very pleasurable, and holds a number of patents.
From '63 to '66, Mossbrugger designed and built a 25-ft trimaran in Alviso, and for several years sailed the South Bay, where he was a successful racer. During this time his wife gave him an ultimatum - he had to choose between sailing and marriage. After their divorce, Horst started looking for a bigger boat, which is why the Yorktown 39 kit entered the scene in '76.
Kit boats were popular in the '70s. The Yorktown 39 came in basically three pieces - the hull, the deck and the keel. The owners would put these together, then flesh out the boat with various kits for things such as the bulkheads, galley, rudder and various systems. Horst just bought the shell and the recommended 70 hp diesel/transmission, as the rest was to be his own design, layout and manufacture.
The Yorktown 39 is known for its heavy fiberglass construction, but Horst added even more in critical places. His general philosophy was to overdesign everything and "go with the best." Building the boat was a solo project, and he even did all the machining. I didn't think machinists were supposed to be good carpenters or electricians, but his fine craftsmanship is evident in all aspects of the boat.
Last June, Frank and I moved the boat from Horst's backyard to Moss Landing, where the keel and ballast were installed, the bottom painted, and the standing rigging put on. She was put in the water on August 1, and was towed to a marina berth for the remaining work. One of our big challenges has been learning all the systems, as the boat is loaded. Following is a list of some of the hardware and redundancies we've found in the boat: two refrigeration systems, two autopilot systems, four Racor fuel filter systems, two raw water supplies with filters, one diesel heater, two kerosene heaters, two water heaters, three water tanks, four solar panels, two engine alternators, two windlasses, a waste processor and a 70 hp diesel. And the list goes on.
Nonetheless, completing a boat in which everything is new - yet 30 years old - has been a challenge. For example, the diesel came with a Borg/Warner Velvet Drive transmission with gear reducer integrated and complete. Unfortunately, the transmission oil pump was set for a rotation opposite of the diesel. The factory assumed that the problem had to be rotted oil seals or the control valve leaking. It was a minor item, but it took lots of time and effort to discover and correct.
We were hoping to have Seeadler
ready in time for this fall's Baja Ha-Ha, but things have been
going slower than expected. But no matter when we make the maiden
voyage, Horst is not only invited, but committed to be part of
IT'S OBVIOUS PEOPLE READ THE ADS CAREFULLY
While thumbing through the last Latitude, I noticed Anderson's Boatyard's ad featuring Cecil Rossi's Farr 58, apparently named Ho'okohule, which they translated to mean "to be mischievous." I hope that this was a miscommunication and not the name actually painted on the boat, because the proper way of saying 'to be mischievous' is Ho'okolohe. The closest word to the one mentioned in the ad is 'kuhu'ole', which means "not matching, unsuitable, ridiculous, absurd, inappropriate, of poor taste, silly; nonsense." And 'Ho'o' means "to cause to be."
It could be very embarrassing to pull into
Honolulu with a boat named Ho'okohule.
THE PROS AND CONS OF COOKING WITH ELECTRIC
I was tickled to read the letter from the poor folks who had two galley fires and were thus curious about the possibility of going to an electric stove. We acquired the Tom Wylie-designed 65-ft ketch Saga in '97, which you'll recall had been built and sailed around the world by Arlo Nish. Among other cruising amenities, the boat was kitted out with a 60-gallon tank for vodka, complete with a deck fill!
Since Nish had a fear of propane, the galley he created for Saga was an all-electric contraption. Instead of a galley stove there was a large cooking well - "the pit" - with various specially constructed gimballed potholders and two large electric outlets. There were numerous electric pots and pans, a convection oven and a microwave to round out the business end of the galley. The old electric cooking gear used interchangeable plugs. There was a perverse logic to the whole set-up and, once you got the hang of it, cooking was no more or less difficult than on a propane stove.
Arlo and the subsequent owners cruised extensively with this set-up, racking up a circumnavigation and many incredible adventures in the South Pacific respectively. Surprisingly, the boat had no inverter, so you had to run either the engine or the genset to cook a meal - or even to boil water. While I was prepared to consider the electric lifestyle, I was not prepared to crank up an engine anytime someone wanted a hot snack. So the first thing we added to the boat was a Trace 4000W inverter. It worked fine on our shakedown cruise to the Pacific Northwest. Once we got to the cruising grounds we usually had 10 people and a dog aboard, but cooking was easy. Even cooking scalloped potatoes for an hour in the convection oven didn't seem to put a major dent in our battery levels.
Nevertheless, upon our return to prepare for the '98 Baja Ha-Ha and points south, we decided to put in a propane stove. This decision was made especially easy because Arlo - despite his own discomfort with propane - had the foresight to build a large locker that vented overboard for two propane tanks. So all we had to do was drop a stove into the cook well, run a hose to the locker, and install the appropriate shutoffs and sniffers.
Now, to the logic of an all electric set-up.
With today's very advanced and diverse charging options, it's
not so crazy. When you think about long-range cruising, most
people have a battery charging/reefer cooling routine that involves
running the engine for an hour or two a day. Building your cooking
schedule around that charging schedule is not so awkward. And
while in the tropics, cooking - and heating up your down below
to intolerable levels - is not always a priority. I would probably
still opt for a propane set-up, but if someone was really averse
to propane or other flammable fuels, and they have the inverter
and the charging/battery capacity to go electric, it's not as
silly as it sounds. And, it means one less tank to fill in remote
parts of the world. Of course, there is also the fact that, as
fossil fuel supplies become more expensive and scarce, it seems
more and more sensible for cruisers to make their own! So maybe
old Arlo was just ahead of his time!
CRUISING WITH A TODDLER IS A BIG COMMITMENT
I'd like to respond to the December letter from a couple who are thinking about going cruising with their 18-month-old. Speaking as a mother cruising with a four year old, here's my two cents' worth: If it's your dream, then make it happen.
Having said that, I'm so glad that we didn't leave on our current cruise until our daughter Kara was a little over four. Dealing with a toddler is a difficult enough job on land, but transfer that to a small boat, and you're talking triple the work. Kara has been familiar with our boat since she was a baby, but I remember how hard those weekends away were when she was only about 18 months old. She couldn't balance herself, didn't sleep very well, and was very dependent on us to cater to her every whim.
Now that Kara is four, she can do things for herself, such as walk inside the boat while it'sunder sail. And, although she's not completely self-sufficient yet, she can certainly occupy herself much better than a couple of years ago. That's important, because we like to make things as comfortable as we can for all of us, which means that mom and dad also get some privacy, too. Bedtime for Kara is the same as it was on land. And underway, Kara has gotten used to sleeping from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. - even in rough conditions.
Folks planning on cruising with a child also need to realize that it means you will act as the sailor, mother/father, teacher, doctor, playmate, mentor, friend and enemy, as well as chef and cleaner. It's a big commitment. Some activities can be limited, depending upon what you enjoy. For example, we like to swim for exercise, so we take turns doing that. And all three of us hike together, an activity that Kara has done since she could walk, and one she can hold her own doing.
We realize the importance of stopping often, especially if we come upon a place we enjoy. We also try to do things that don't necessarily involve being on a boat.
For safety as well as comfort, I personally can't imagine doing the cruise that we're now doing aboard a 31-ft sailboat. However, that's a matter of personal style, as cruising can be done in a variety of ways. You just have to find the one that works best for you. For instance, we met a lovely family of six who are cruising aboard a 31-footer, so it certainly can be done.
I suggest going out and chartering a boat
for two weeks and then try to envision doing it for a long period
of time. But try to have lots of practice before you embark upon
a longer trip. Oh - and make sure you parents are still madly
in love with each other before you take off.
Anne - Thanks for your report. Hopefully we'll hear from other parents cruising with kids under five.
Based on our sailing with our own kids in foreign countries, things weren't bad until they could walk, which was at about 11 months. At that point they just wanted to try to stand up and walk, dammit, but couldn't understand that a rolling boat wasn't the best place to try to do it. Difficulties in communication and other issues continued to make it difficult to sail with them until they were about four - at which time it got really good. In fact, some of our kids' fondest memories are from the times we sailed together when they were between the ages of four and seven. For example, the time they 'discovered' Long John Silver's Treasure at The Baths in the British Virgins, the time when our six-year-old taught our four-year-old to punch through the waves when body-surfing at Grand Saline in St. Barth, and the time they and all their little friends would jump on the back of the battleship-like sailboard that we were sailing across the shallows of Caleta Partida during one of the early Sea of Cortez Sailing Weeks. They still needed looking after and attention, of course, but they were having a world of fun.
STAMM HAD JUST LASHED THE STORM JIB DOWN
On page 84 of the December
issue there was a photo of Bernard Stamm with just a mainsail
up on his Open 60 Cheminées Poujoulat, in very
stormy conditions during the Velux 5 Oceans. A reader wondered
what he was doing, and if he could heave to with just a mainsail.
By the way, he was just off Cape Ortegal, a very impressive area from the coast of Galicia, Spain, at the time. I sailed there two summers ago in benign conditions, and can report that it's a beautiful and quiet cruising ground. There are few sailing boats in the area, as it's quite remote, and getting there requires a long sail from either north Britanny in France (La Bretagne) or from Lisbon or Gibraltar. The food is delicious, however, and the atmosphere reminded me of Britanny in the '70s, as there are lots of fishermen and small communities of very welcoming people.
I very much admire what you have done with Latitude, as it's unique, a brilliant concept. The magazine even adds to one's sailing satisfaction, as you follow the events in San Francisco and elsewhere, and report on most of the races, even the modest ones. For my part, I have not missed an opportunity to promote Latitude in the French sailings lists and associations. Reading Latitude is a great way for French speaking sailors to improve their English, particularly the sailing English which will be useful to them later. I know that some of them have already subscribed to the ebook version of the magazine. So keep up the sensational work.
P.S. I have 52 feet of sailboats. Twenty-two
of them are here on San Francisco Bay, and 30 are in St. Tropez
on La Cote d' Azur.
Jean - Thanks for the info on Stamm, who has been continuing to kick everyone's butt in the Velux, and the very nice words about the magazine. We'll try to make Latitude even better in the future.
DSC SIGNALS INTERRUPT RADIO TRANSMISSIONS
In my opinion, your new DSC marine radio may be a can of worms. In many DSC radios, the DSC signals will interrupt voice operation of the radio. These signals can't be heard, but if there are a lot of them, they can make the DSC radio unusable for voice communications. In cases of critical construction or ship docking, captains should not activate the DSC function of their radios.
A radio technician can check your DSC radio
with an RF signal generator. The DSC functions are enabled in
the radio by installing the MMSI number. Put your radio on an
active weather channel, and then have the radio tech generate
an RF signal on 156.525 MHz. If this signal turns off your weather
channel reception, you have a problem DSC radio. This radio can
be disabled at any time by DSC activity or other signals without
your knowing it.
Readers - This is out of our area of expertise. Anyone care to comment?
MORE SPARKS FLYING IN THE RADIO ROOM
I, for one, will not give up my 121.5/243 MHz EPIRB!
The Coast Guard cannot, during an emergency, stop me from transmitting on any frequency. The FCC rules specifically permit transmission by anyone on any frequency in a valid emergency! In the recent rescue of Ken Barnes off the coast of Chile, the original contact was by amateur (ham) radio, with subsequent information passed by satellite phone and ham radio.
If I'm in trouble offshore, I'm going to
activate my 406 MHz. EPIRB and my 121.5/243 MHz EPIRB (in case
there are any aircraft within receiving range - 121.5 is for
civilian aircraft and 243 is for military). I'm also going to
call a "Mayday" (for "M'aidez" - "help
me" in French) on any voice frequencies, an "SOS"
on any commercial CW frequencies and "QRRR" on any
ham frequencies! I'll also flash a mirror at any airplanes and
Jack - You've covered almost all the bases. The obvious one you seem to have missed - and perhaps the most useful - is the handheld Iridium satellite phone. The beauty of the Iridium - as opposed to mirrors and EPIRBs and such - is that you can, in plain English, explain the nature of your emergency. For example, if you were two days out of San Francisco, bound for the Marquesas, and you remembered that you forgot to say good-bye to your girlfriend, you'd certainly have an emergency, but not the kind for which you'd want to put out an SOS or activate an EPIRB. So rather than having a ship diverted to your position as a result of an EPIRB alert, it would be far better to simply call your girlfriend's number and start talking fast and sweet - like John Belushi to Carrie Fisher down in the sewer in The Blues Brothers. There are many other kinds of lesser emergencies - needing a critical part for your boat when you arrive in Papeete, for example - for which a satphone would do a better job than an EPIRB. A satphone wouldn't always be more valuable than an EPIRB, but in the majority of semi and real emergencies, we think it would be.
THE BOARDING WAS BRIEF BUT ALL BUSINESS
Just for everybody's information, we were boarded by the crew of one of those cool-looking Mexican Navy gunboats on February 5 while 30 miles south of Ensenada. We were at the tail end of a delivery from Puerto Vallarta at the time. The boarding was brief and the crew were courteous - but they were also all business. They also had me fill out a survey rating their performance!
Most of us know that both the Mexican Navy
and U.S. Coast Guard has boarded recreational boats off Mexico
in recent years, but they have been relatively rare occurrences.
But it may be happening more now. A more visible Navy can only
be good for all of us cruising Mexican waters. I, for one,
don't mind the occasional inconvenience, and welcome any increase
Readers - Those who follow politics in Mexico know that Felipe Calderon, the recently installed president, has declared war on drug gangs. Some 24,000 federal police and soldiers have been dispatched to various parts of the country to try to smash the gangs and oversee the sometimes-corrupt local police. In addition, four drug kingpins were extradited to the United States for trial. The gangs have fought back, particularly around Acapulco, where gang members dressed as police killed five officers and two secretaries in a police station.
While the battle between the government and drug gangs is always kept far clear of main tourist areas, the heat is on the cartels, so searches of boats travelling up and down the coast have to be expected. But if you have a clean nose, you shouldn't have any problem.
DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THE KUNAS?
I was anchored near Green Island in Panama's San Blas Islands when an ulu came by wanting to sell me molas, the reverse applique handmade textiles that are a cultural signature of the area. Since I already had plenty, the Kuna woman asked for magazines. They often ask for magazines, so I was kind of low on them. Fortunately, I had some back issues of Latitude 38 that a friend brought down when he helped me transit the Canal. When I gave the Kuna woman one of the Latitudes, she kinda "hummpf'd," and looked a little disgusted.
My Spanish is all right, but my Kuna is weak, so I didn't quite get what she said. But I swear, she said something that sounded like "Spindler." So I was just curious if you had ever been through San Blas, and how you got along.
The San Blas Islands are picture postcard gorgeous, and the Kunas are super friendly. Soon I will transit the Canal a second time and head back down to Ecuador for Panama's rainy season. Ecuador is a great place to winter over, as the weather is good and you don't get all the lightning that you do in Panama. I don't know if you stiffed this woman over a mola or what, but you better get back and calm the natives.
I doubt you would remember me, but I did
the Baja Ha-Ha II in
'95 aboard the Morgan 38 Lady Luff with Suzie. Now I am
out cruising a second time aboard my Saga 43 Fifth Element.
I've put over 11,000 miles beneath her keel and have experienced
some great times exploring and meeting people along the way.
Although my Saga is fast and exceptionally well set up for cruising,
I am convinced that - as you have often preached - it's possible
to set up an average racer/cruiser for comfortable cruising without
spending much dough. 'Just do it' is the important thing.
Bruce - We're members of the Green Party, which means that whenever we cruise to a place, we like to spread a little green around by participating in the local economy - particularly at the lower end. So when we were down in the San Blas Islands with Big O a couple of times in the early '90s, we made sure we bought our fair share of molas - even though primitivist crafts don't really appeal to us. In addition, a couple of the gals in our crew had the Kuna women bead their ankles. We even bought some squid from the local fishermen, and passed out a bunch of clothes.
So when we came back through the San Blas Islands in the spring of '04 with Profligate, we were surprised to see our face on what appeared to be 'wanted' posters nailed to the palm trees. We couldn't read the writing, so we found a translator on Porvenir. "It's about time you came back," she said huffily before beginning to translate.
When we asked her what the problem was, she claimed that we'd ordered a 'mola spinnaker' for our Ocean 71, but had never returned to pick it up. "You didn't even leave a deposit," she said with a sneer that only height-challenged women from matriarchal societies can give. We never ordered such a spinnaker, but, not wanting to create an international incident, agreed to pay for it. Fortunately, the chute dimensions were almost the same for our Surfin' 63 cat as they are for an Ocean 71, so it didn't take much recutting. The mola chute is pretty good, except that the fabric absorbs water. So when it rains, as it often does in the San Blas Islands, the chute droops.
If the Kuna woman is still mad at us, it's probably because, having gotten the money for the chute out of us, she decided that we'd also ordered a mola mizzen staysail, and she wants us to pay for that, too. We're not going to say those Kuna women are pushy with their wares, but they could make fortunes flogging just about anything door-to-door here in the States. We suppose this means that the next time we take our boat from California to the Caribbean, it will have to be via Cape Horn rather than Panama, because we're not paying for a mizzen staysail we didn't order. Especially since we don't have a mizzen mast.
As for cruising on a less expensive boat such as a Morgan 38 as opposed to a Saga 43, it certainly can be done. But if we could afford the larger and newer boat, we'd certainly go with that. The improvements in boat design, construction and comfort over the years has been tremendous.
LEFT TO STARE AT THEIR BOOTS FOR AN HOUR
You may want to inform your southbound readers that there is now a representative of the port captain at Astilleros Cove, aka No Name Cove, in southern Nicaragua. I anchored there once in 1990, and then another four times over the course of the '04-'06 cruising season. It's a great place to prepare for - or recover from - a rounding of Cabo Santa Elena during Papagallo season.
We pulled in at Astilleros Cove pretty whipped in March '06 from just such a rounding that seemed extra lively. It was 2 p.m., and we were below fixing a quick meal prior to getting some needed sleep when we realized that some people had come aboard from a passing panga. Jumping on deck, I was relieved to find two very young guys, clipboards in hand, decked out in full camo uniforms. After a quick belowdeck inspection, we filled out a single-page form titled 'Act of Entry', pre-signed and stamped by the port captain of San Juan del Sur. The document was free, the men were courteous, and we were finished in about 10 minutes.
The only problem was they had no way to get back to shore, as their water taxi had disappeared over the horizon. Since I wasn't in an entertaining mode, the two officials sat in the hot cockpit - the bimini and cushions were stowed due to high winds - staring at their boots for almost an hour before the pangero returned!
We are back in Mexico now, and look forward to seeing all the ports on the west coast of Mexico that we missed in '03-'04 - meaning all the ports with port captains!
By the way, do you know what's up with the outflow running into the surf zone between the last condo building and the golf course fairway in Punta Mita? The volume is only one to two cubic feet per minute, but it flows right over the cobble and coral that make up the beach. At first I thought it was just your standard golf course pollution - nitrates, phosphates, and other fertilizer nasties - but after a walk along the beach, I'm now thinking it may be sewage. Since Punta Mita is one of our favorite stops along this coast, especially when there is surf, I may take a sample home in May and have it analyzed.
By the way, I want to thank you for having
one of your crew drop the latest Latitude 38 in our cockpit
in November of '04 after we surfed the town break at Punta de
Mita. I'm glad I was able to thank you for Latitude in
person. Right after that we quickly moved south and spent two
seasons in Central America, having visited much of Mexico the
Stephen and Sandy - Thanks for the good news on Nicaragua and the kind words about Latitude.
As for Punta Mita, there has been such tremendous development in the last two years that you'll hardly recognize the place. It's hard to believe but, because it used to be so inaccessible and had water flowing down from the mountains, until the early '90s it was a popular place to grow pot. That's all history, of course, what with the multi-billion-dollar Four Seasons project, the opening last year of a new and mostly four-lane highway from Puerto Vallarta, and the new road to Sayulita. We imagine the flow of liquid down to the water that you're concerned about is also history. After all, two major condo projects have been put in at that location, and the units in the one inside the Four Seasons gates go for well over a million each - despite fronting the world's rockiest beach. In addition, there has been a lot of work done on the infrastructure there, with more planned in the general area. When we were down there in December, the word was that a wealthy woman from New York had offered $75 million for the entire El Risko / Anclote worker communities, with the intent of replacing them with a mall featuring high-end designer boutiques.
You might also recall that, two years ago, there was some often very smelly semi-treated sewage flowing into the water a few feet east of the panga marina and into the surf spot appropriately known as Stinkys. A new sewage treatment plant has been built a short distance away, and we're told it works fine about 29 days of the month. At the very least, it doesn't stink like it used to, and we've seen a lot more people than ever surfing the spot.
The good news is that, despite all the changes at Punta Mita, the sailing, surfing and anchorage are as good as ever, and the amount of sea life continues to be greater than any other place we've ever been.
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE SEA
We did the '05 Baja Ha-Ha aboard our 1957 Rhodes Bounty II Linda, but had an experience just a few days I ago that I thought might interest Latitude readers. We left Barra de Navidad on Mexico's Gold Coast in the mid-morning to sail the short distance north to an anchorage in Tenacatita Bay. The trip wasn't going to take us more than about three miles offshore, and the wind was forecast to be light and variable, so we didn't make our usual preparations for getting underway. Things like stowing the generator and power cord which sit on the back deck when we are at anchor, running the jack-lines, retracting the solar panels, dogging all of the port lights, and bringing the dinghy on board.
"Don't you want to bring the dinghy on board before we get underway?" my wife Linda asked. To which I replied, "It's only 17 miles, and the forecast is for light and variable winds."
As we moved out from behind the breakwater, we hoisted the main with one reef and started motorsailing to the northwest. Within an hour the winds had built to 15 knots, with two-ft seas - no big deal. As we continued out to round Cabeza de Navidad, we became more exposed to the fetch, and the wind had increased to 25 knots. The seas were now 6-8 feet with a significant swell. Breaking waves were everywhere, and we were shipping significant amounts of green water with almost every wave we hit.
Even when it started gusting to over 30 knots, the conditions were challenging but we weren't at all concerned. In fact, we were having fun. We'd launch off a big wave and plow into the next one - with such a big splash that it gave the spreaders a bath and soaked us in the cockpit. We kept looking back at the dinghy bouncing along. It was taking on quite a bit of water, but with the conditions as they were, I couldn't see any way of bringing it aboard. So we pressed on.
The waves finally got so big that we had to fall off a bit more to lessen the impact. When we did, the boat heeled quite a bit more, and I had to pay careful attention to the helm and mainsheet. But when I went to loosen the mainsheet, our generator tipped over. The gas spilled on the deck, making it dangerously slippery. Soon we had our electrical cord, untended sheet tails, buckets, brushes and so forth washing about the cockpit sole. In addition, we had bottles of soap and sponges floating on the flooded side decks. What we didn't have were rigged jacklines needed to safely go forward to free a snagged jib sheet. It had quickly become clear that we'd failed to prepare adequately for just such conditions.
When Linda went below to check things, she found a partially dogged port light leaking saltwater onto the bedding. In addition, several cabinet doors had opened, spilling their contents about the cabin. We knew the doors were faulty, but never got around to fixing them.
Managing to overcome most of the effects of our bad judgment, we finally clawed past the point, so we tacked to the northeast for a beautiful beam reach into the anchorage. Cleaning up after the tack, Linda looked back and said, "Where's the dinghy?"
We pulled in the painter and found nothing but two D-rings and some scraps of Hypalon - but no dinghy. This was very bad, as there aren't too many dinghies for sale in Mexico, and a cruiser without a dinghy is all but helpless. Realizing that looking for the dinghy in such conditions was futile, and being a bit stunned, we decided that it would be easier to replace the dinghy from Barra de Navidad than from Tenacatita, so we made a U-turn. We reached and ran back into the lagoon in Barra de Navidad, trying to figure out how we were going to get a new dinghy. It goes without saying that we were feeling quite low, and Linda didn't even have to say "I told you so."
We reported our situation to some of our cruising friends, and, within minutes of getting anchored, Susan on Two Can Play called on the VHF to report that the motoryacht Tuko anchored in Melaque had reported finding a dinghy and advised us to contact Roger on Kenna, also in Melaque. Roger said he was passing by Tuko, and, based on our description, confirmed that it was our dinghy! Roger offered to tow it back to Barra de Navidad, but, with both D-rings pulled out, we were happy to retrieve it the next day.
Meanwhile, Don and Peggy on Interlude, having not monitored the VHF conversations, called and offered the use of their dinghy while they were away at Carnival in Mazatlan. While now unnecessary, it was a very generous offer.
This morning Darrell from Tuko pulled into the marina at Barra de Navidad and hailed us on VHF to come pick up our dinghy. Ron from Liberty Call II gave me a ride to the marina, where I reclaimed the dinghy. Darrell said that he was amazed that he even saw the dinghy given the sea state and, in fact, would not have except that he almost ran over it. Darrell refused any reward, saying he hoped that someone would do the same for him.
With our dinghy back on board, it took a couple hours to repair the D-ring attachments. But things couldn't have worked out much better.
There are two morals to this story. First,
you should never underestimate the sea, even on days where it
is forecast to be light and variable. As is the case with many
cruisers who have been doing this for a while, one gets a little
complacent. The sea slapped us, but fortunately felt generous
enough to extract nothing more. The second and equally important
point is to be reminded how generous and helpful the cruising
community is when one of us is in need. We're especially grateful
for it, and want to say thanks to everyone who helped.
Steve and Linda - Thanks for having
the self-confidence to be able to share your mistake with our
readers, as maybe your experience will save them some grief.
Towing a dinghy always has the potential for problems, for if
the weather turns bad, it becomes almost impossible to raise
it. But if anyone is going to tow their dinghy, we highly recommend
that a second tow line be used.
It's been awhile since I've written, as life has gotten in the way. But I raced on your cat in the Banderas Bay Regatta in '02, and you took what my wife thinks is the best photo ever of me. That's either a compliment to you or a sad reflection on my other photos.
I'm writing because it's been brought to my attention that we aren't yet on the Latitude 38 list of West Coast Circumnavigators. The basic facts are that we did it on our Brisbane, Australia-based Mason 53 cutter Dolphin Spirit, which is now berthed in Marina del Rey. The 'we' are myself, my wife Carole, and my son Ryan, who was eight when we started. We left in March of '96 and returned in April of '02, having visited 56 countries while travelling 40,000 miles. We went around via the canals as opposed to the capes. Like every circumnavigator, I wrote a book titled Chasing Sunsets - A Practicing Devout Coward's Circumnavigation with His Wife and Son. Having sold out the first run, we're about to start the second.
Despite having been home for nearly five
years now, we still haven't truly settled back into life on land.
I guess that can't ever happen. Unfortunately, daysailing doesn't
have the same appeal as long distance cruising.
Laurie - Thanks for that information. We're hoping to make our list as complete as possible, so if any of you other folks out there have completed a circumnavigation, please send the basic facts - boat name, boat type, full names of skipper and mate, hailing port, time period of trip, number of countries, and anything else you might want to include - to LaDonna. You can see if you're already on the list by going to www.latitude38.com and clicking on "Circumnavigators".
Since Latitude has long owned the 63-ft catamaran Profligate and, as reported in the February issue, the publisher of Latitude has bought the used Moorings/Leopard 45 cat 'ti Profligate to put into a yacht management program in the British Virgins, you're in the perfect position to do a comparison article about the different design approaches to catamarans.
Your two cats couldn't be more different. One the one hand, 'ti Profligate, a Moorings/Leopard 45, was optimized by the most successful charter company in the business to be the perfect BVI party boat. It's got a great layout and great water access, but also has the lowest bridgedeck clearance in the industry, etc. Then there is Profligate, which has proportionally thinner hulls, daggerboards, more bridgedeck clearance, and is a lot longer.
I suspect the two boats are not that far apart in total weight, and even replacement cost. So if you were going to sail to the South Pacific for two years, with only yourself and Doña de Mallorca as crew, which of the two would you choose?
I saw St. Barth on the horizon at the tail
end of a delivery from Newport to St. Martin last fall. It sounds
like you have a great deal going, what with one cat on the West
Coast and the other in a charter management program in the Caribbean.
Richard - Profligate and 'ti Profligate are very different cats - and in more ways than you apparently realize. For instance, Profligate is a much, much bigger cat. At 63-ft by 30-ft, she absolutely dwarfs the 45-ft by 30-ft 'ti Profligate. In addition, the big cat's footprint is nearly double that of the little cat, she displaces twice as much, her mainsail costs four times as much, and, because she probably required four times as much in materials, her replacement value would be nearly four times as great.
Because the cats are so dissimilar, we can't really do an 'all things being equal comparison', but allow us to make several observations. The most curious is that, although she is so much bigger, Profligate is actually much easier to sail. It sounds impossible, but there are three main reasons: 1) electric halyard and mainsheet winches, 2) self-tacking jib, and 3) really wide-open decks on which to move around freely.
Equally unexpected is that 'ti Profligate, a fifth generation production cat, is much more comfortable than Profligate. The smaller cat has been through generations of improvements, and it was possible to amortize the added expense of making everything ergonomically correct over a long production run. We salute Robertson & Caine and The Moorings for collaborating to create one hell of a comfortable cat for living aboard. Other areas in which 'ti Profligate is better than the big cat are the easier-to-use anchoring system, the more comfortable helm position, and the better bimini. Of course, some of these are default victories, because Profligate doesn't have helm seats or a bimini - omissions we plan to remedy soon now that we know better.
The question of keels versus daggerboards is much harder to answer. There is no doubt that the daggerboards improve performance, but they take effort to use, are susceptible to damage, and don't allow Profligate to be beached. Furthermore, if, for some reason, Profligate only has one of her two engines operational, she's impossible to control in close quarters such as a marina. We were delighted to find that this wasn't at all true with 'ti Profligate, which has built-in keels, and was easy to maneuver in tight quarters with just one engine. We were also told that if her keels get damaged they are easily replaceable! Unless minor improvements in performance mean a lot to you, we don't consider daggerboards to be essential to cruising.
The matter of bridgedeck clearance is another gray area. Profligate has about four feet of clearance and almost never gets 'bombs' under the bridgedeck, even in very large and confused seas. Ironically, her hulls will sometimes pound if the period of small waves is just wrong. For reasons we've never really understood, Moorings/Leopard 45s such as 'ti Profligate have very low bridgedeck clearance - although there are some cats that have even less. Depending on the seas, the low bridgedeck can result in bombs on the bottom of the bridgedeck. In the beginning, we were absolutely shocked by the frequency and violence of the bombs. They didn't worry us, however, because The Moorings/Leopard 45 is built like a veritable brick shithouse. Over time we got a little accustomed to the bombs, and even learned how to prevent many of them. Nonetheless, it's that quality of 'ti Profligate that we like the least.
How negative the bombs are can only be decided by individuals. Obviously, people learn to live with them, as all The Moorings/Leopard cats are sailed up from South Africa. And our friend Tim Schaaf, who owns the sistership Jetstream, has sailed his back and forth between the Caribbean and the East Coast, and has made his peace with the bombs. We know another owner who sailed his Moorings/Leopard 45 up and down the Caribbean for three years, then across to the Med, and is now down in the Red Sea. Obviously, he's all right with them, too. For use in the Caribbean and in places such as Mexico and Central America, we don't think 'ti Profligate's low bridgedeck clearance would be a big problem. For a very active two-year cruise through the South Pacific, we think it would be a flaw, but not a fatal one.
The other huge difference between the two cats is performance, which you would expect given the 18-ft difference in length. What surprised us is the different ways in which they go fast. We did briefly get 'ti Profligate up to 14 knots under full main and jib in about 22 knots of wind at 120 while on an eight-ft sea. However, she sort of felt like a monohull in that she seemed to be pushing a lot of water and didn't particularly want to go faster. In similar conditions, Profligate would have felt as though she were gliding over the top of the water, hitting the high teens, and feeling as though she were easily capable of going much faster.
If Doña and we were going to do a two-year cruise of the South Pacific, we would definitely prefer to take Profligate rather than 'ti Profligate. But we certainly wouldn't shy away from taking the small cat if that was our only choice. Would we take a Moorings/Leopard 43 over a Catana 43/47? That's a tough one. The Catana wouldn't bang anywhere near as much, is no doubt a little faster, and is more luxuriously appointed. However, they cost a lot more, and we think the Moorings/Leopard is more spacious and comfortable on the hook - which is, after all, where you spend most of your time when cruising. Would we take a Moorings/Leopard 45 over an Outremer 43/45? Probably. The Outremer is probably the fastest of the production cats, but she doesn't have half the room of the Moorings/Leopard 45.
These are just our personal opinions, of course, but we hope they may give you some guidance. We appreciate all input from others.
REMINISCENT OF ROSENFELD
A big tip of my hat to you, as the
February cover of the J Class Endeavour was elegant. It's
one of the best you've done. It's also very reminiscent of the
work of famed marine photographer Stanley Rosenfeld, whose
photos of the J-Boats in the 1930s are still breathtaking classics.
Dave - Thanks for the kind words. The difference between us and Rosenfeld is that he was an artist and craftsman. Our skill consists primarily of getting into the right position to push the button on one of today's technologically superior 'point and shoot' cameras, and letting the camera and the software do the rest. Photoshop makes up for a lot of our shortcomings.
It's a shame that all of our readers couldn't have been there looking through the viewfinder with us, for the sight of Endeavour charging through the flat water in the lee of St. Barths was one of the most majestic we've ever seen in the world of sailing.
I SAW OUR RUDDER FLOATING AWAY
We left the tiny bay of Ipala, on the northern end of Mexico's Gold Coast, aboard our Hunter 37 on January 23, after one of the most unpleasant nights we've had at anchor since sailing down from Oregon in 1999. Along with a couple of other boats, we decided to head 52 miles down the coast to Chamela, even though the forecast was for northwest winds of 20 to 25 knots.
We would be going with the wind and figured it wouldn't be too bad. And it wasn't. We actually experienced winds of 30 knots or better for several hours. The 8 to 10-ft seas were sloppy, so naturally our autopilot couldn't handle it, and we had to steer by hand. But we weren't particularly uncomfortable and our boat, which was double-reefed, was doing fine.
I was at the helm about five miles from Chamela when Merry and I both heard a heavy thump. She was down below, so I asked her if she'd dropped something. She said she hadn't, and wondered if the boom was banging around. I knew it wasn't, so I didn't think anything more about it . . . until suddenly the steering didn't work any more. She rounded up, and when I looked aft I saw our rudder floating away!
Merry immediately got on the radio and advised two nearby boats of what had happened. They advised us to lower our sail immediately. It wasn't easy with the boat rolling and pitching all over, but we got it done. Soon Pavan, a boat we'd been travelling with for several weeks, and Murray Grey, readied tow lines. Murray Grey was the first to get to us, but none too soon. When the episode started, we were about 1.5 miles from shore, but by the time we got the tow line, we were only 3/4 of a mile off some very nasty looking rocks.
Thanks to Murray Grey's tow, we got the bow pointed offshore - but very quickly the line parted. To make matters worse, the line got wrapped in our prop, putting our engine out of commission. Murray managed to contact the Corona del Mar-based Sonrisa, a large powerboat that had passed us a short time before on their way to Chamela. They were nice enough to turn back and help us. You have no idea how beautiful it was to see this big boat screaming toward us with spray flying everywhere. It took two tries to get a line to us, but Sonrisa finally had us under tow and headed away from the rocks. Had they not come to the rescue, I'm sure we would have lost our boat.
The tow in was a bit hairy because of the wind and sea conditions. In fact, our friend John on Pavan later told us that it bothered him so much to see our boat rolling so heavily that he had to stop watching. The tow-line had a yoke at the Sonrisa end and a single line at our end. Shortly after the tow began the port-side half of the yoke parted. If you've ever tried to tow a buddy's dinghy with the tow-line off center, you know how difficult it is to hold a course. The skipper of Sonrisa displayed superb seamanship in the way he kept control of the tow.
All the way into the anchorage the skipper and crew of Sonrisa kept reassuring us they would get us in safely, and they did. One of my biggest regrets about this whole episode is that we didn't have the presence of mind to get the names of our rescuers. A big thanks to all of you on Sonrisa!
We're now safely at anchor in Bahía
Chamela, a well-protected and comfortable anchorage. Our insurance
company has been very supportive. A new rudder had already been
ordered and we're confident it can be installed here while our
boat is in the water. The small town of Punta Perula is an easy
walk from the dinghy landing, there are lots of beautiful birds
around to keep Merry happy. Wish the Wonder Cat is quite happy
to not be bouncing around!
THE OTHER WORLD
We read your February 12 'Lectronic essay about returning to the "other world" - as we referred to the old country when we were out cruising around the world for 11 years - after your six weeks on a boat in the Caribbean. We know how you feel. I would correct people whenever they said they were going back to the "real world" because, as you pointed out, life in urban areas is becoming more artificial and unreal all the time. One of the biggest things that struck us when we ended our cruise in Florida in '04 was the macho names that had been given to motor vehicles - Navigator, Intrepid and, of course, Humvee.
We're pleased that our current job - taking care of five boats for a wealthy gentleman - has kept us in the Bahamas for the past few months, especially in light of the recent hubbub over the death of Anna Nicole Smith. That incident took on a life of its own in Hollywood, Florida, where we just happen to have our casita.
The Bahamas are outside of the unreal world,
but since there is Direct TV on the big motoryacht, we're still
linked to that other world. And, unfortunately, we're headed
back to Florida tomorrow for about six weeks.
Readers - Because we got so many comments on that essay, we've reprinted it in this month's Sightings.
I applaud your comments in the February 12 'Lectronic on media sensationalism. I was recently in Florida caring for a sick relative for 10 days, and was largely 'unplugged' from my usual dose of news. Although, since I was in Florida, the 'astronaut in diapers' was such a huge story that it was unavoidable. Nevertheless, focusing on 'real world' concerns, even those involving hospitals and doctors, was a respite from the crap that flows 24/7 from the mass media.
I've lived in Tiburon for 12 years now, after moving out from Illinois, and late last year, for the first time since arriving, I let my subscription to the Marin Independent Journal drop. It was too much news about too many people with too much time and too much money arguing about what someone else can build or remodel down the street. For me, the discomfort extends beyond the media to a broader 'Marin malaise' - and a gradual recognition that while this area has much in the way of beauty and resources, it's become somewhere I don't enjoy as much as I used to.
I think a significant portion of the sensationalism in much of the media is caused by fear of Internet-driven change and resulting revenue loss. On multiple occasions the San Francisco Chronicle has written about how craigslist.org "facilitates" crime, from prostitution to fencing stolen goods. And Sunday's Washington Post had a story about how open WiFi facilitates anonymous Internet crime, particularly child porn. The direct attacks on the Internet sound like the stable owners who tried to outlaw the automobile because it would kill people and frighten horses. The sensationalism is a secondary response, as well as a response to increased competition from myriad cable channels, some of whom do a better job reporting news than the traditional networks.
Anyway, congratulations for embracing the
Internet and maintaining your position rather than attacking
it. Some stable owners went bankrupt, while others became car
park magnates and got rich. May you follow the latter rather
than the former.
Eric - To a large extent we are the information that filters through our brains, and what's filtering through the average urban person's brain is a toxic mix of rubbish from all kinds of media sources. And this includes the Internet which, although it's surely the world's greatest source of excellent information, is also surely the world's greatest source of trash.
And we're not speaking as a Puritan. If you want to immerse yourself in the violence, death, sex and degradation - real or fictional - offered by all the various media outlets, be our guest. But what we're saying is that a steady diet of it will leave you anxious, uptight and depressed. The message from our six weeks on a boat in the islands is that there's a 'real world' out there, as opposed to the artificial one created by all the different media, and it's a more relaxed, peaceful and happy place. In fact, we think one of the reasons that so many people have a fabulous time on the Baja Ha-Ha is because for two weeks it divorces them from all the media bullshit and hype, reintroduces them to close personal relationships, and restores in them a childlike fascination with the natural world.
We understand that not everyone can hop on their boat and sail off to the 'real world'. There are families, jobs, schooling and other impediments. But as the artificial world gets less pleasant, we think it's important for people to know that there's a more real world out there, and it's often a better place.
WE'VE SWITCHED TO NETFLIX
Regarding the Wanderer's comments on returning to the Bay Area after six weeks on a boat in the Caribbean, having grown-up in Santa Clara Valley beginning in 1958, and having watched the transformation to Silicon Valley, I couldn't agree more with his commentary. In 2002, we relocated to the Sierra foothills, which was like taking a rock off our backs. The amount of anguish endured by the urbanites can only be appreciated by getting away for a while.
Then, on November 7, 2006, while we watched the election results, our satellite dish began to freak out. So for the next seven days we waited for a technician. The technician did not show, so we waited another four days for the next scheduled appointment, which also was missed. By that time we had begun 'detoxification' from cable news, 150 channels, and a 50/50 mix of content and commercials - and decided that perhaps we could live without them.
With a little over three months under our belts, I can report that the process has been remarkably painless. We have switched to Netflix for a more well-rounded array of entertainment, including some Jimmy Buffet concert videos, History Channel specials, and great BBC television series like Foyle's War and House of Elliot - all without any commercials.
In my opinion, there are two activities
that will restore the Bay Area urbanite. Sailing, in large doses,
and terminating the cable television. Life will then be worth
YOUR COMMENTS WERE STRANGELY SOOTHING
As I sat here trying to get my computer
network - and business - up and running again, and getting more
and more uptight, I took a break to dip into 'Lectronic Latitude.
Your comments on the CNN/Fox-ification of our world were refreshing
and, in a strange way, soothing. Thanks for giving us a little
IT'S TOO GRAND FOR US NOW, BUT WE MISS IT
Good on the Wanderer. Sometimes it does take a few days - or weeks, if you're lucky - away from all the b.s. we are inundated with to realize that there is a real world out there.
As for St. Barth, my wife and I vacationed
there for 10 straight years in the '80s when I had business in
the Caribbean. It's too grand for us now, but I do miss it often.
We both really enjoy your photos and stories. Keep it up.
Ron - Sorry we lost your last name and address, but sometimes it happens.
St. Barth isn't as quiet or uncrowded as it was in the '80s, but she still has her main attractions - it's clean, safe, non-violent, and there are some really great and interesting people. And when you drop the hook at Columbie, Shell Beach, Gouverneur, Saline or Ile Fourshe, dang if it still doesn't look like it did in the '80s. Grand isn't at all our style either, and we still have a great time at the island.
WE FELT THE ACHE TO RETURN TO THE BASIC LIFE
We - my boyfriend Mark, myself, and our two dogs - are the ones who gave up our cruising dream and sold our boat after realizing our dogs weren't the type to be happy and healthy making long passages on a sailboat. Instead, we did a year-long trip overland through Mexico and Central America. We lived through a lot of adventures, chaotic border crossings, nasty roads, unbelievably hot and humid climates, good times and bad times, beautiful places and a painful break-up.
We're now stationed in Austin, Texas, once more trying to sell our mode of transportation. Our latest plan is to move to Belize, where we hope to sustain ourselves for a bit in barefoot-perfect Placencia - and get some sailing in! Mark, the real sailor among the four of us, subscribed to the online version of Latitude. As such, some snippets also reach my ears, provoking my fingers to want to type out some reactions.
First, I'm excited about Puerto Escondido in Baja becoming a real marina. When we were there about a year ago, it looked deserted. Somebody seemed to have huge plans, but we thought it was just one of those pie-in-the-sky projects you see everywhere south of the border.
To the Petty family of Pleasanton: Your Moorings 4600 cat, which you have in The Moorings charter management program in Placencia, is awesome! While there last November, we got the privilege of being able to take a peek. We hope you don't mind. Our friends from South Africa had just delivered the new and monstrously large and beautiful cat from Cape Town. It would be a dream to charter that house on hulls. If we only had enough money . . . and no dogs. And yes, we left the dogs ashore when we took a quick peek.
As for all the reactions about Mark and me choosing our dogs over our sailing adventure, we love reading Letters and are especially excited about the editor's comments. We were a little disappointed with your negative reaction towards our dogs-over-sailing preference. Then we realized that your comments are usually ironic.
While reading Letters in the next issue of Latitude, we came to the same conclusion as by talking to other sailors and travelers - people are either enlightened by our sacrifice and our love for the dogs and support our decision fully, or they are disgusted by the fact that we gave up a sailor's dream. As if there are no other ways to enjoy life and travel the world.
The letter from dog breeder Anthony R. Cheeks was very supportive of us. I'd like to point out, however, that we prefer animals from pounds and humane societies instead of breeders. For every dog bought at a breeder, a free one could have been picked up at a pound and given a loving life instead of possibly been euthanized.
After being on the road, away from Western civilization for a year, we went through the same shocking experience reentering the States as did the Wanderer. We got confronted with a television at a car dealer while waiting for our truck to be fixed. Commercials were flashing at us, the news sounded ridiculous and was presented as a game show, and even documentaries were dramatized and designed to instill fear. What was going on? What's wrong with the average person? How much did we not miss this!
From the minute we got back, we felt the
ache to return to the basic life. And we will - but I betcha
we'll miss those comfy hot showers, the clean, working toilets
in which you can throw toilet paper, and a couple of other tiny
conveniences. By the way, you do have the option of not watching
television, or even better, not owning one.
Folks and Dogs - The problem isn't just
TV and the greater media, but having to deal with a population
that overwhelmingly has taken most of its behavioral cues from
IT IS BETTER TO FORGET
OR TO GET A MEMENTO
Neil - It's been a few
years since we've seen the Rothmans, but we know them as wonderful
people and very competent sailors. We frequently see Bruce Ladd,
an experienced and skilled sailor, who was their crew for the
crossing. We're running your email address so that if any of
them want the photos, they can contact you.
MORNING MEDITATION MATERIAL
We're delighted to be signed up for the Latitude 38 e-Books service. In the two years we've been out cruising from England to New Zealand, we've only seen about half a dozen issues, most courtesy of the kindness of other West Coast sailors who bring them to share. Now we can get our own copies, and I think the $18 yearly subscription price is quite reasonable. It was especially fun to open up the February issue in early February and see our letter and photos in Changes! Hopefully we'll have more good stuff to report next year.
A few more thoughts. We're presently on an erratic WiFi connection, so I had to try at least five times before I got a connection stable enough to download the February issue. I notice that I need to be connected when I open the ebook the first time, as well. I thought about heading to an Internet cafe, but since I'm only allowed to download on three computers, I wanted to save those opportunities for the cruising season in the summer.
I wonder if you considered using Adobe Acrobat instead? Adobe files of similar size seem to come across quicker, and most of us already have the software. You could still have password-controlled access for subscribers.
I believe that many enjoy Latitude, as my husband David does, in the privacy of the - well, we call it "morning meditation." He can become so engrossed in the magazine that he only emerges from the head when his feet start to get numb. He has been grousing a bit that he can't take the e-Book with him, especially since the head is presently across the yard when we are hauled out. Me, I don't think this is a bad thing, but just so you know.
The e-Book version naturally requires a bit of electricity, and our Fujitsu laptop's battery lasts less than an hour. But we've got four 120-watt solar panels, so that's rarely a problem.
I have to say that it used to be a joyous occasion when I could beg or borrow a Latitude from a fellow enthusiast, and it was almost as joyous to make someone else's day when we could pass it on again - especially somewhere like Bora Bora. Since the print version is free, I would like to be able to share the electronic version as we do the print version. I know you need revenue to make the e-Book happen, and I'd personally continue to subscribe as I used to in Washington.
Anyway, thanks for doing this, and please keep doing it!
Oh yeah - on the baby wipes discussed in
the January issue. I stock up on the
individual pack Wet Ones when I find them. They come in a box
and last a long time. I don't think I'd try washing my hair with
one though. And our pick for boat music? "Shut Up And Sing"
by The Bobs. It's pleasantly twisted, like us.
Susanne and David - We appreciate your comments on the e-Book version of Latitude 38. Our goal is to try to make it ever more user-friendly.
POLARIS WOULD BE THE WINDWARD MARK
It was great seeing a picture of Polaris in the February issue. For many years she'd been moored in Belvedere Cove. And in the early '60s, before junior programs of any substance had been invented, Roy Ashley of the San Francisco YC, and his helper, the youthful Jerry Rumsey, would start us in our El Toros between one of the old gray rowboats and a Clorox bottle. The course would be to Polaris and back, the progenitor of the modern windward-leeward course!
There has been a lot of water under the
dam since then. Little did we know I'd marry Jerry's niece, Carolyn,
and he'd become my 'Uncle Jer'. But I still can see Polaris
out there bobbing on her rode, so I'm glad that she's still 'looking
/ Classifieds /'Lectronic Latitude