Missing the pictures? See the July 2007 eBook!
IT SMELLS LIKE COW DUNG, WE MUST BE CLOSE
I'm writing in response to two letters that appeared in the June issue. One author proposed a three-day cruise outside the Gate, perhaps to Tomales Bay, and another proposed an overnight sail to Pt. Reyes. Latitude's editorial responses were spot on in both cases, but I thought it might be helpful for me to describe an actual outside-the-Gate cruise we took some years ago. At the time, my wife and I had extensive Bay cruising and racing experience, and some ocean experience.
We owned Phoebe, a 26-ft Cheoy Lee Frisco Flyer. It was Labor Day weekend, and our plan was to sail up to Drake's Bay on Friday, spend two nights in the anchorage, and sail back on Sunday. We got clear weather with the usual 15 to 25-knot northwesterlies and the normal seas for the start. So we sailed out the Gate, clearing Pt. Bonita on starboard tack. Rather than short tack up the southern Marin coast, we chose to hold starboard tack long enough to tack once and enter the Drake's Bay anchorage on port.
We were enjoying the beauty of the open Pacific when, to our dismay, dense fog appeared. I had just enough time to plot our location on the chart before we were enveloped in fog, leaving us with the same wind and sea conditions, but with zero visibility. This was in the days before GPS, so our navigational tools were a compass, radio direction finder, depthsounder, knotmeter and clock. Our plan became to sail toward shore on port tack until we saw 10 fathoms on the depthsounder. We did that, but since there was still zero visibility, we tacked onto starboard until we reached the next navigation aid — the smell of cow dung! The prevailing northwest wind in Drake's Bay is offshore, having blown across some miles of the Pt. Reyes peninsula, which is still active cattle ranching country. So the smell told us that we were close. While flying along at hull speed on starboard tack, anchored boats on all sides suddenly appeared out of the fog. We'd reached the anchorage. It was a bit of a challenge to keep clear, get the engine started and the sails down before we were too close to the beach, but we did. We found an open spot to anchor, and quickly retired below.
Fortunately, we had the Tiny Tot, which is a small wood-burning stove, that allowed us to at least stay warm for the weekend. But the wind and fog persisted for the entire time we were there. As we had no dinghy in which to go ashore, we hung out below and read. But it wasn't exactly relaxing, with Phoebe tacking on her anchor day and night. The return sail to the Bay was downwind, at least, but it wasn't until we were back at our berth in Sausalito that we saw the sun.
The sun, of course, does shine in beautiful Drake's Bay — as it did the Friday before I wrote this — but one can never be sure. When the sun is working, the Pt. Reyes National Seashore webcam provides real-time wind, temperature and humidity (read fog) readings, and a photo of the beaches north of the point. A peek at this before departing from the Bay would be informative.
As for anchoring at the mouth of Tomales Bay — which is even further north than Drake's Bay — I think it's a completely inappropriate place for a keel boat. The problems are that there can be breaking waves at the mouth, the bay is shallow, and it's sometimes infested with great white sharks. We second Latitude's recommendation that readers contemplate cruising to Catalina and Petaluma respectively.
Boats have been lost at the entrance to Tomales Bay and parts of that bay are shallow. Nonetheless, a number of Latitude readers have reported having wonderful trips up there. As for the great white sharks, they aren't much of a threat as long as nobody goes overboard.
Prior to your letter, it had been a long time since we remembered what it was like to sail the coast of Northern and Central California in pea-soup fog without GPS and radar. Frankly, it was spooky as hell. We did a Singlehanded Farallones Race on our Olson 30 once, a boat that didn't have a GPS, radar, knotmeter, depthsounder or engine. The sail out and halfway back had been in lovely conditions, with light wind, warm sunshine and blue skies. But when we got halfway between the Lightbucket and home, it started to get dark, and we began to be chased by an ugly wall of fog that was the consistency of whipped cream. From then on, the race wasn't against the other boats, but to get our butts back inside the Gate before the lights went out. We made it, but the thought of having been lost in that stuff just outside the Gate still gives us a chill — which is why we love radar and GPS.
I DIDN'T WANT TO BOTHER THE RACERS
I go down to our boat at the Vallejo YC marina each week to run the engine and generator on our boat. When I did it in early May, it coincided with the Vallejo Race, and the marina was chock full of racing boats. I decided not to run the engine and generator that day because the exhaust might bother the visiting sailors.
But I have to say, some of the visiting racers were very rude, and blocked the walkways as they chatted in groups. I got more than one dirty look when I said, "Excuse me," to walk through. And when I returned the next day after all the boats had left, I found that all my docklines were either hanging in the water or splayed about. I then found my hose had been unwound and left in a pile. In addition, there was lots of garbage floating in the water. The thing that upset me the most, however, were the beer cans in our cockpit. Had people come onto the boat to hang out and drink, or were they just using my cockpit as a garbage can? No matter which, it shouldn't have happened.
I was pretty hot, so I waited to write this letter lest I compose something that wasn't fit to print. Fortunately, nothing was missing from our boat, but one of our neighbors did discover a few things missing. He also reported that he'd had to deal with rude 'guests', too.
I'm sure there were only a few offenders, but some of the other racers should have had the balls to take them aside and straighten them out. I don't mind someone using my hose, but they should leave it as they found it — or better. There is no excuse for the way I found things. I hope the people that did this will be a little more courteous next time so they don't ruin things for others. People who are guests should remember to behave like guests.
EXACTLY THE BOAT I WANTED — AND SMALLER, TOO!
I've been reading about Scott Duncan and Pam Habek, the 'blind couple' who are sailing around the world aboard Tournesol. In an edition of 'Lectronic, you mention they are sailing on a Valiant 31. Up until then, I'd only been aware of the Valiant 40. Having done some research, I can tell you that Valiant never built a 31, just the 32. But I want to thank you for letting me know about their smaller boat, for it allowed me to get the boat I wanted — a Valiant 40 — but could not afford or handle. You see, my Valiant 32 is the 'same' boat as the 40, just a little smaller.
TOO LITTLE MONEY TO BUY THAT 40 FOOTER
When I wrote a letter to Latitude several months ago from Colombia on another subject, the editor asked if I might write a few words about my sailing adventures, which he apparently found interesting. Here goes:
I'm from California and, in fact, now live in San Francisco. But my cruising dream started in Guam, where I lived from '89 to '96, and first learned about sailing and cruising. It was in '91 that I met Al and Beth Leggitt aboard their Perry 42 Sunflower. At the time I had no idea that people lived on sailboats, let alone sailed around the world on them. I think it was they who told me I could learn more about this unique lifestyle by reading a magazine called Latitude 38. I immediately subscribed.
It took me a few years, however, to get up to speed. I finally started my circumnavigation in '96 with the Darwin/Ambon Race — which I'd read about in Latitude. In fact, it was Latitude's mention of Jim and Sue Corenman's Schumacher 50 Heart of Gold and their cruising friends that got me excited about starting my trip from there. I tried to create a yacht partnership with some friends from Guam, and looked all over the Pacific for a 'proper' cruising boat, but eventually the partners bailed. That meant I was left with too little money to buy the 40-footer that I thought I needed.
So instead of buying a yacht, I hitchhiked on boats from Darwin to Cyprus, taking a year and 11 rides to get there. Each of those rides was an invaluable experience, but two were really special. The first was three months as crew on Stormvogel, which, under her original South African owner, played a role in one of the most exciting finishes in TransPac history, and which was the boat Nicole Kidman ended up singlehanding in the 1989 thriller Dead Calm. I was relegated to the owner's suite on that yacht!
The second invaluable experience was an Indian Ocean crossing and Red Sea transit aboard the Halcyon 27 Violetta, on which I learned to navigate by sextant. We had a GPS, but only used it once, off the coast of India when we couldn't get a sight for days. The other major lesson that I got from the Violetta trip is that I didn't need — or want — a 40-footer!
When I got to Cyprus, I found the C&C 34 Sarah all but abandoned and rotting from 10 years on the hard in Larnaca. Over the course of a year, I rebuilt all Sarah's systems, incorporating what I'd seen work best on the 11 yachts that I'd sailed on. In addition, I reconfigured the boat for singlehanded sailing. I also got a lot of advice, of course, and mostly good, from the many cruisers who called in on Larnaca during my refit.
Although Sarah has performed well for me, I would not recommend a C&C 34 for world cruising. She saved my butt many times, and she's a far better sailor than I am, but she's tender and light, and I believe that her design and construction are better suited to temperate latitudes and near-shore work. I don't push her. Once I got caught in a terrible mistral 12 hours out of Bonafacio headed for Menorca, and I could only keep Sarah pointed dead downwind for fear of a broach — which I was certain would be the end of the boat and us. I'd never seen waves so big and moving so fast. We were being blown back onto the coast of Sardinia, and couldn't make the course that would get us past the southern tip. I'm sure you know that the west coast of Sardinia is essentially a continuous cliff line, so I had but two deadly choices — heave to and wait for the big one to roll us, or run with it and smash into the cliffs. I was so sure that it was the end for us that I actually apologized to my crew, who is my best friend, for having put him in such a treacherous situation. I had no liferaft, no SSB, no EPIRB — and almost no hope.
The Italian Pilot said that no ports on the west coast of Sardinia were safe for entry during a big mistral, so that settled it, we were done. All through the night Sarah surfed down the giant waves, and we got pooped several times. Each time the overly large cockpit filled with water, and each time I thought it would sink us. But no, Sarah sailed flawlessly and fast — straight toward the cliffs — under the storm jib alone. So why am I still around? At the last minute the storm subsided, and we were able to cross the bar at Oristano. It had been close.
Anyway, I ran out of money in '99, and put the boat up on the hard in Barcelona, Spain, to go home and replenish the cruising kitty. Since then, I've worked nine months and cruised three months every year. I'm slowly making my way west to Darwin, at which point I'll have completed my circumnavigation — although not all on Sarah. The fact is, I'm enjoying Cartagena so much that I'll probably keep Sarah here to explore the western Caribbean for a couple more years before doing a Puddle Jump. There's no rush.
So looking back, I'd say it is pretty much all Latitude's fault that I've been doing this, and I will always appreciate you motivating me.
If we're not mistaken, there's a yellow C&C 38 that's done two circumnavigations. If we're not mistaken again, the first time around it was skippered by a young guy from Stockton, then it was taken around again by someone else. Why we can't find it on the Latitude 38 Circumnavigator's List is a mystery to us.
ONE LIFE TO LIVE!
Our life is becoming a soap opera — and a not very pleasant one at that. Latitude readers will probably remember Mark and me as the ones who left the Bay Area aboard our Emeryville-based Freeport 36 Our Choice to cruise — but gave it up after a day because we could tell that it wasn't going to work for our dogs. We sold the boat and travelled by camper as far south as Panama. About to move to Belize, Mark decided he really wanted to try the sailing thing again, and figured maybe a catamaran would be the answer for the dogs.
The good news is that we found a great catamaran in Annapolis. We should have closed on her by the time this letter comes out in print. Finally, after two years, a home again! Life on the road — especially in a tent — was getting hard.
So, we made all the arrangements — survey, contract and so on — in May, then I left to see my family and friends back home in Belgium for three weeks. I had a nice time, as did Mark with his relatives in Boston, and soon we were looking forward to a great reunion. Well, I have a special visa in my passport that always allowed me to stay in the U.S. for six months at a time. But this time Immigration took place in Dublin, Ireland, where my flight had a stopover. Homeland Security is everywhere these days, the idea being it would supposedly make entering the U.S. easier than waiting in long lines at U.S. airports.
When I explained our plan to leave the U.S. by boat after hurricane season to one Immigration officer, he got alarmed, noting that I'd just been in the U.S. I got pulled aside. To make a long story short, they didn't let me back on the plane, and I had to explain all my previous U.S. entries and exits with the exact dates. I was interrogated for two hours and threatened with all kinds of things. The way they saw it, I'd been in the U.S. too many times and for too long each time. Meanwhile, I had to watch all the passengers board the plane as it was time to leave. I felt awful!
One of the gate people made his way over to the Immigration office to check on my status. The head Immigration officer decided to do me a "huge favor," and told me he was going to give me one month to "settle things with my boyfriend." But after that month, I'd have to leave the States for at least six months. He also told me he could have kept me in Dublin, removed my special visa, and that I would not be allowed to get an extension once I reached the States. Needing to get to Boston, I agreed. What else could I have done?
The flight to the U.S. was hard on me emotionally. How was I to break the news to Mark? This would be the second time his cruising dream got shattered. The first thing we did on the next business day was go to the Immigration bureau in Boston. They said there was nothing they could do. Once in the system, always in the system. Plus, my file had "no extension allowed" written all over it!
You can see that we're not in the best of places right now, and don't have many options. Obviously, we don't want to sell the boat again — we've never even sailed or slept on her! And hauling her for six months and paying for storage while we stay out of the country is not appealing. Plus, it would be winter when we got back to Maryland. And who knows if Immigration would even let me back in?
So, we end up with two options: 1) Still file for an extension and hope the process lasts for about five months, or 2) Get married. We'll keep you posted.
We empathize with your situation, as we were in a similar one about 15 years ago, long before 9/11 and the Department of Homeland Security. Our girlfriend at the time had a British passport and, with Big O in the Caribbean, we were always leaving the U.S. and coming back. If we tried to check back into the U.S. at St. John in the U.S. Virgins, there would often be big trouble, because one large female West Indian Immigration officer really had it in for our trim girlfriend. There was no way she was going to let her into the country. So if the old biddy was on duty, we had to sail over to nearby St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgins, where a couple of lecherous Immigration officers told her that "lovely women like you will always be welcome in the United States."
On the occasions that we had to fly through Puerto Rico or our first port of entry was Miami, it could be dicey. She was usually pulled from the line and questioned about 'too frequent' visits to the U.S., and sometimes she was held so long that she missed the plane. We know how hard it can be on a person's emotions to be singled out of a crowd by someone in uniform and told that you can't continue on the rest of that flight. Eventually, we married her, and it ceased being a problem. Once she got a green card, she was in the country for good, even though we later divorced.
It's too bad you're not a terrorist or one of the other 10 million or so people in the country illegally, because then you'd have it made. If you were like them, you could simply ignore the one-month time limit you've been given, and stay — laying low — until you took off after hurricane season. After you left, you'd 'lose' your passport, so there was no evidence that you'd stayed in the States longer than the month you were given.
Your other legal option is to quickly set sail for Bermuda, the Bahamas, Mexico or Guatemala. We know it's hurricane season, but if you don't wait too long, and watch the weather carefully, you should be able to make it without any trouble. As for us, we'd probably just lay low, like millions of others, until the end of hurricane season. It would make every day a little more exciting. Good luck to you.
LET DOGS BE DOGS!
My partner and I have been cruising for the past year on our DownEast 38 with two malamute/border collie mixes. We've done both long passages and offshore work in heavy weather, but have made absolutely no adjustments to our boat in terms of pet boarding ladders and so forth. We tried the whole system of trying to make our dogs 'comfortable' on a boat by doing things like putting fake turf on the foredeck, building a ramp down our admittedly steep companionway, buying special harnesses for lifting them aboard and so forth. Plus, we listened to all the heartfelt advice from dog lovers about their infinite concerns about our animals' welfare.
We realized the absurdity of all of this when our dogs began carefully maneuvering around all of this stuff we had built for their comfort! We tore it all out, and have found that our dogs do fine with no adjustments whatsoever to our boat.
One of my favorite moments in all of our cruising took place in Mazatlan, when a group of Mexican fisherman watched in awe as our dogs walked by them down the dinghy dock, hopped into our tiny 7-ft fiberglass dinghy, and sat down in their respective spots without a word spoken by us. One man incredulously turned to his Mexican counterpart and said, "Those dogs know how to board a boat!" We smiled, hopped in behind them, and went on our way.
Our dogs have traveled from Kodiak through the Inside Passage, down the North Pacific Coast, and along the Pacific Coast of Mexico. They have lived on our boat for four years, and have never been a problem for us or any other mariners. Dogs have been going to sea since man has been going to sea, and I truly do not understand the preoccupation with making them 'comfortable' and being so paranoid that they are not happy. They are dogs! They don't even have the brain capacity to think about the things that worry humans so much!
WHERE DO I FIND COMMODORE DANGERFIELD?
My wife and I are thinking about joining a yacht club. The idea of a yacht club has always sounded pretentious to us, but I think I've heard and/or read enough that I'm starting to believe that it's not really the case. We have a number of reasons for wanting to join a club: 1) We want to meet other sailing couples, 2) It would present us with more sailing-related activities, such as weekend cruises, 3) It would be a good way to be or find crew when my wife feels like staying home, and 4) It's another way to introduce the kids to sailing.
It's the last reason that has us wondering which club to join. We really want to find a club that has kids' activities, youth sailing, and lots of other families with kids. Our kids are 5 and 8, so I realize I'm not going to find organized sailing programs for kids that young — which is why finding a yacht club that has a lot of families would be a great start.
Do you guys have any recommendations on which yacht club might suit our needs the best? We keep our boat on the Estuary, and have heard great things about the Encinal YC, but we visited early in the afternoon on a rainy weekday, so we should probably go back when there is more activity. Naturally, we plan on checking out other clubs, too.
We know that the general public thinks that yachts clubs are pretentious and that everybody acts like Rodney Dangerfield did in the movie Caddyshack. As anyone can tell you, 95% of yacht clubs in Northern California aren't pretentious. In other parts of the country there's a little more yacht club pretentiousness, but even some of those clubs have great youth sailing programs.
WHERE ARE ALL THE DINGHIES?
As a former J/24 Bay sailor who, having bought a house and become a father, had to sell the boat, I’m very interested in getting back on the water. I'm thinking of a more simple and less expensive boat. I sailed Lasers while in college and, as I now live in Alameda, often stare out at the expanse of water and wonder why there aren't any dinghy sailors out there. There may be dinghies on the Estuary, but not on the Bay. Sure, there are a lot of kiteboarders and sailboarders out there, but no Lasers or similar small craft. It looks like it would be sooo much fun to hike out in the 15-to-20 knot breezes often found there. What am I missing? I do have a Windrider 16 trimaran that I've taken out a few times, and it's a blast. I just miss hiking out in a stiff breeze.
There are a number of dinghy sailors on the Bay — you just have to know where to look. Most hang out at Richmond YC, which has a thriving small boat scene, or at Treasure Island Sailing Center, home of one of the largest dinghy fleets around, the Vanguard 15s. RYC hosts a variety of small boat fleets, including Lasers and El Toros. You don't even need to be a member to participate in their races, unless you want to store your boat at the club. The Laser fleet is very diverse — everyone from guys who haven't been on a dinghy in decades to rockstar-caliber racers. Check out www.richmondyc.org for info on their small boat programs.
If you don't mind rounding up a crew, the Vanguard is a great choice. The boats themselves get up on a plane fairly easily, and they have just two sails, so there's no need to mess with a spinnaker. The SF fleet, which started on the Estuary in 1998 with just 8 boats, now has more than 50 active boats racing year round. They draw everyone from advanced beginners to former college All-Americans. Their evening fleet and team racing series between April and September in Clipper Cove are as popular for their on-the-water action as for the social scene. Plus they race in other venues around Northern California throughout the season. For more info, go to their great website, www.vanguard15.com.
THE COST OF CRUISING IN MEXICO
I've been reading the ongoing discussions about the cost of cruising in Mexico, and can report that my brother and I set a budget of $750/month for our six months in the Sea of Cortez. We were easily able to stay within it. It's true, we now have some deferred maintenance expenses, boat insurance and medical insurance, but even with those included, it sure would be possible at between $1,000 to $1,250 a month — especially if you have your medical covered like my brother does. Those government jobs!
One item that helped reduce our monthly cruising costs was being able to acquire the majority of our protein by spearfishing. We met many cruisers who had spearguns, but didn't have the knowledge or experience to be successful using them. My brother and I, however, were able to get at least four fish dinners a week by spearfishing, and often provided the main course at beach barbecues with other cruisers.
We spent the entire cruising season in the Sea of Cortez, and from January onward were at Loreto or to the north. The locals all said that this year was windier and cooler than normal. From our previous trips to Baja in the winter, we'd have to agree with them. In fact, several times in January we fired up the Webasto heater in the morning. We spent early April to early May cruising from Santa Rosalia up to Bahia de Los Angeles, and I don't remember any really warm days — although at times the weather was pleasant. It wasn't until we got down to San Carlos in mid-May that the air and water temperatures warmed up. We left for the U.S. on June 1, but will be returning to the Sea in November. From then on we'll explore south, as we don't want to have to use that Webasto again.
If anyone is looking for evidence of global cooling, the Sea of Cortez would have been the place to be this spring. According to several cruisers, the water at Agua Verde in late May was 66 degrees — so nobody was swimming. By that time of year it's usually in the 80s. And folks who had been down in La Paz report that most nights in the spring were downright cold. But as Neil Shroyer of Marina de La Paz told us a few years ago, about 50% of the time it's cool in La Paz in the winter and spring, and about 50% of the time it's warm. But this is an average over years, so you might have entire weeks, months or even seasons that are almost all cold, and the following weeks, months or season might be all hot. For what it's worth, things seem to have returned to normal, as the daytime temperature in Loreto and La Paz on June 10 were 95 and 100 degrees respectively.
For what it's worth, the water at Catalina has been about 15 degrees colder than it was last year. But you have to keep things in perspective, as last year the water was warmer than in the previous 40 or so years.
I'D LIKE TO CONTRIBUTE TO A LEGAL FUND
I read the June 13 'Lectronic in which you reported that Dinius Bismarck had been charged with vehicular manslaughter as a result of a boating accident on Clear Lake, even though the real cause of the accident seemed to be Deputy Sheriff Perdock recklessly speeding across the lake in the blackness at a minimum of 40 mph. Bismarck wasn't even the owner of the drifting boat, but just happened to be sitting at the helm — so how is it the deputy and the owner of the boat aren't charged with anything? Has a legal fund been started for Bismarck? If what Latitude has reported is true, I would definitely contribute to such a fund, and I'm sure that other sailors would do likewise.
We've gotten tremendous response to this story, as readers have been outraged. We can only print a few of the letters on the subject, but please read our story in this issue and see if you don't agree.
IT'S EASY TO DETERMINE THE BOAT'S SPEED
Latitude is right, the way the investigator and Lake County D.A. have handled the case stinks. Contrary to what the D.A. told you, it would be easy to determine how fast the deputy's boat was traveling by evaluating the damage to the boats. With Thornton's estate being represented by the Cotchett law firm, I bet that very good forensic engineers will be brought in to investigate. Jan Scully, the D.A. for Sacramento County, is widely respected for her integrity. I hope the conclusions drawn by the Sacramento Deputy Sheriff will be brought to her attention.
TOO BAD HIS NAME ISN'T O.J.
I don't like the fact that a guy who happens to be sitting at the helm of a drifting sailboat can be hit by a motorboat traveling at 40 to 55 mph — and then have to defend himself in a lawsuit initiated by the operator of the motorboat. Who is supposed to pay for his lawyer? Even if he's found not guilty, he'll be left with thousands of dollars of attorney fees. It's not fair. Too bad his name isn't O.J.
THE BLAME IS OBVIOUS
I've been following the Clear Lake boating accident with interest, and there's one aspect I don't think has been mentioned. I'm thinking of the Rules of the Road. For not only was the powerboat obligated to yield to a sailboat under sail, but the overtaking vessel also has to stay clear. Finally, if it was too dark to see large obstructions in the water, the operator of the powerboat was obligated to reduce his speed. It would be analogous to someone running a stop sign, T-boning a vehicle and killing the right seat passenger, then blaming the driver of the hit vehicle. The blame is so obvious it is difficult to see how the authorities can twist the facts as they have.
EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE CAREFUL
As a licensed captain — 100-ton with an open oceans endorsement — and former instructor at the Orange Coast College of Sailing and Seamanship Masters licensing course, I can tell you in a heartbeat that any vessel on Clear Lake that is involved in a collision was going too fast per the "safe speed rule." By that rule, an operator has to be traveling slow enough to not get into a collision and/or easily avoid a collision. The actual speed is irrelevant. It doesn't matter if the motorboat operator had been going 1 mph, if he was involved in a collision, he was not operating at a "safe speed."
Whether or not the sailboat had her running lights on is very important. If the cabin lights were on, it may go to support the operator of this vessel, but navigation lights are the law.
As for Lake County D.A. Hopkins telling Latitude that Perdock couldn't be charged because it couldn't be proved how fast he was traveling, that's ridiculous. Forensic investigators could reasonably accurately determine the speed without a problem. This is done with automobiles all the time.
It's terrible that a loss of life occurred in that accident, but it goes to show that everyone needs to be careful about speed, alcohol and boating safety.
Scott — We agree with all you say. When you read Deputy Perdock's statement, note that he said he was aware that boats are on the lake at night without lights, which is why he headed directly for the background lights on shore. So not only was he clearly aware of the danger, but he also violated one of the Coast Guard's most important navigation rules — being extra careful when heading toward background lights. Foolishly, Perdock claimed that the background lights made his reckless speeding more safe, not less safe.
On June 1, I took three novice sailors and one intermediate crew out for a moonlight dinner cruise on the Columbia River in Portland. A little after 9:30 p.m., the sun was down and the glow in the sky was disappearing fast. I had my running lights on, and main and jib up. There was very little wind, so we were ghosting along, mostly propelled by the current. A 40+ft cigarette-type boat had gone downriver a couple hours earlier. Well, we heard it coming back, big and loud, but we couldn't tell where it was. While my novice crew handled the boat, I searched the river in the direction of the noise. It took awhile to pick out the running lights, but I finally saw it — and it was coming fast! A quick assessment was that if we stayed on course, the boat would have come through the middle of our boat. Yelling "Tacking now," I pushed the tiller out of the driver's hand and tacked the boat as fast as I could. Fortunately, we weren't hit.
Everyone aboard was shook up when they saw how close the boat had come at such a very high rate of speed. It's true that we had right-of-way because we were under sail, but so what? We would have been dead to our rights. Boats like that come at you fast — really fast.
THE 'NO LIGHTS' ARGUMENT DIDN'T FLY IN MEXICO
You may remember that last season in Mexico, a panga returning to the harbor at La Cruz slammed into one of the many cruising boats anchored outside the breakwater. After the impact, the panga operator started yelling about the cruising boat having not been showing an anchor light. According to Hock, the spooner at Philo's place in La Cruz, the local judge ruled against the panga driver. So the 'no lights' argument didn't fly in Mexico. I must say that I heard reports that the La Cruz accident happened at the beginning of daylight, so the anchor light argument wasn't very powerful anyway. I wish I had more information.
For what it's worth, we always leave a bright main salon light on aboard Profligate in Mexico — and everywhere else — and often an additional light in each hull also. We know how people roar around on powerboats, and we want to be seen at all costs. Besides, in close quarters, an anchor light high above the water can easily go unseen. Many other cruisers use the solar lights designed for gardens as additional night lights. They aren't expensive, don't run down the batteries, and are effective.
IS EVERYONE BEING TREATED FAIRLY?
Yeah, Dinius Bismarck's situation sucks. But let's not forget, he was legally drunk, and he was at the helm. Would it matter if he was driving his buddy's car drunk, with the lights turned off, and was hit by another car? Just because your idiot friend was drunk driving with the lights off doesn't mean that you can too, or think for a minute that it excuses your behavior. Perdock, who was driving the powerboat, and Weber, the owner of the O'Day who was on the boat, need to answer accordingly.
But I think Bismarck still shares some responsibility. As you rightly point out, both Perdock and Weber had a significantly greater role in the incident than Bismarck. As such, the issue isn't whether Bismarck is getting the bum's rush, but whether he and the others are being treated fairly by the judicial system.
Is the helmsman always responsible for the operation of the vessel? California Boating Law says different things in different places. On page 53, it says "'Operator' means the person on board who is steering the vessel while underway." But on page 247, it says "'Operator' means the person who operates or who has charge of the navigation or use of a vessel." And suppose you put your 8-year-old daughter at the helm of your drifting boat and she gets hit from behind by a guy driving a powerboat at 55 mph. Would she be guilty because she wasn't keeping a proper watch? When it comes to typical daysails, we think the owner is almost always the responsible party. If we were asked to decide the proximate cause of the Clear Lake tragedy, based on what we know, and assuming that the sailboat's stern light was not on, we'd say Perdock was 80 to 90% responsible, Weber was 9 to 19% percent responsible, and Bismarck was 1% responsible. That's why we're convinced that Bismarck — for reasons nobody has been able to understand — is getting hung out to dry.
YOU GO WHERE OTHERS FEAR TO SAIL
Thanks for taking the Lynn Thorton case head on and being a cause for justice. Whether it was the Coasties' boarding habits of a few years ago, related issues in San Diego, finding sailors at sea, or this latest issue — these are reasons why Latitude ranks above all sailing periodicals — including the better glossies such as Yachting World and Seahorse. You're up there with the Economist and the BBC. Thanks for not going where the wind blows, but — to paraphrase — going where others fear to sail.
WHO CAN I WRITE TO?
When I first read the reports of the tragic boating accident on Clear Lake, I wrongly assumed that the state or some other higher authority would step in to right the obvious injustice before it went too far. But with all the litigation going on, it's clearly gone beyond any semblance of common sense or justice. Although the physical injury done to the participants was bad enough, the injury to the public's confidence in the justice system is just as real. Where may we, the public, register our outrage and thoughtful concern over this travesty? A handful of links would be very helpful.
While emails are good, and the easiest to send, snail mail letters are more effective because everyone knows they take more effort.
To send an email to California Attorney General Jerry Brown, visit http://ag.ca.gov/contact/complaint_form.php?cmplt=PL, where you'll find a form. Snail mail should be sent to Public Inquiry Unit, Office of the Attorney General, Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 924244-2550. You might also send copies of your complaints to the Sacramento Bee's Assistant Managing Editor Scott Lebar at or the Lake County Record-Bee. It's our understanding that the latter either ran or will run the article on Lynn Thornton's death that appears later in this month's Latitude.
THEY'RE NOT THE FIRST GAY CIRCUMNAVIGATORS
Regarding the gay couple mentioned in the June 6 'Lectronic story, while I cheer them on, I can place doubt on their hope that they are the first openly gay couple to circumnavigate. In April or so of '95, I was crew on a delivery from Spain to San Francisco — an eastbound trip. The full story is long and colorful, but I left the boat in Sri Lanka to doublehand a 27-footer to Thailand with an Englishman. While laying over in Massawa, Eritrea, we encountered several yachts that were part of a Jimmy Cornell 'round the world fleet. One yacht, Pandarosa, a Panda 40 pilothouse ketch, if I recall, belonged to a gay couple from Southern California. They became instant friends in the great (boat) cruising tradition, and talking with them was invaluable in preparing me to survive an Indian Ocean passage with a boor of a skipper. I only hope they subscribe to Latitude and contact you.
WHO CARES ABOUT THEIR SEXUAL ORIENTATION?
I say congratulations to Larry Jacobson and Ken Smith on completing their circumnavigation with their Stevens 50 Julia, but who cares about their sexual orientation? Why does it make them any different from any other couples who have sailed around the world, who may or may not have shared a bunk with a person of the same or different gender? The important difference between myself and them is that they have sailed around the world while I'm still dreaming of it.
IT SOUNDS LIKE A REWRITTEN SALES BROCHURE
Does anyone know anything about the Pro Kennex 445 catamarans? The Pro Kennex company still exists, but they ceased production of yachts in about '98. I'm hearing that these boats were many years ahead of their time, but it sounds like a lot of rewritten sales brochure info. I would sure appreciate any credible information — good, bad or otherwise.
The last time we saw a Kennex 445 — they only made about 15 of them — was at Catalina last month. She was Craig Wiese's San Diego-based Gato Go. He did the '00 Ha-Ha aboard her when she was owned by the Cottrell family of La Jolla and was known as See Life. Since Wiese did a circumnavigation a number of years ago on a monohull, he's probably qualified to give you some worthwhile insights into his new boat, which he's done extensive work on. We've published your email address so he can contact you, if he so desires.
We did the Baja Ha-Ha in '05, and had a great time between then and July '06, discovering that we liked cruising and wanted to continue. Before going south, we'd put our land home on the market and made Catch the Wind our full-time home. But Susie had a short list of must-haves: 1) A shower that works, which was an easy fix with a new bilge pump; 2) A refrigerator that works. Refrigeration isn't inexpensive, but it's nice not having to buy ice all the time; and, 3) An oven that works. It's a good thing that this wasn't a deal breaker and that two-out-of-three ain't bad, because we don't want to heat up the cabin in Mexico baking bread.
After another season of cruising, we realized some more improvements were needed to make life aboard even better. So in August of last year we: 1) Replaced some of our bunks with storage cabinets. If you're living on a boat, you're not going to have seven guests; 2) Added a watermaker. Baths in a bowl just don't cut it in the Sea of Cortez; and, 3) Added more solar panels. After all, running the engine to charge the batteries in order to run the refrigerator is not cool.
All five upgrades have been excellent, but the one we enjoy bragging about most is the solar. We have six solar panels totalling 420 watts, and it's rated to 28 amps. It's just too much fun to tell fellow cruisers that we can weigh anchor with our electric windlass without having to start the engine, sail all day, run the computer with a small inverter to use the nav program, run the wheel-driven autopilot, run the GPS, cool the refrigerator, and top off our tanks with the watermaker. And then, before we start the engine to come into an anchorage, our Link 10 indicates that our batteries are still 100% topped off! We only use our engine to really set the anchor and for hot showers in the evening.
We didn't get all the solar panels at once. The two 60-watt solar panels on the dodger were installed by me in October of '05 just before the Ha-Ha. We soon realized that solar was great, but that we needed four more panels. We also realized that we needed shade for the helmsman's position. So I asked Brian Thomas of Thomas Marine in San Diego to build us a radar arch to support the solar panels. But he recommended a bimini frame instead, saying that it would cost less than half the $6,000 of a radar arch, and was all I needed for four panels. So we went with the bimini, and I installed the solar panels to the bimini frame myself.
Between the solar panels and the watermaker, cruising in the Sea has become just that much better. We never have to go into a marina for water or cart water, we never have to start the engine just to charge batteries, and we don't even have to burn dinosaurs to make water or ice or enjoy all the many electric and electronic goodies that we have.
We have a friend in San Diego — yeah that's you, Roger — who has amp envy. Catch The Wind is very happy to be using less fuel and all that free solar power.
LIFE ATTAINS A WONDERFUL SIMPLICITY
In your June response to the Stephen Burns' letter on climate and conservation, you mentioned in passing how much you were enjoying the simpler life imposed by limited living quarters. This struck a chord with us, because it was in our four years of living aboard and cruising that we adapted to the concept that less is, with only rare exceptions, better than more. We consider this insight one of the more important lessons we learned from our cruising experience.
We were fairly typical. We sold a big house and went cruising. The divestiture of property necessary to achieve this was very painful, and took almost two years. It really hurt, for example, to get rid of an old backpack frame that I'd had in the rafters since the '80s, but it had to go — that and a lot of stuff even more dear. But now, six years or so later, I don't miss one bit of that stuff. The things really important to us now fit very nicely — if a little tightly — into 1,000 sq ft, and after living for years on a 38-ft sloop, the space is really quite luxurious.
Reach the point of where you have to get rid of something in order to have space for something new, and life attains a wonderful simplicity.
However, to paint a complete picture, we couldn't have raised our two kids the way we would have wanted had we not had the whole house when they were living with us. But before and after kids, who needs the trouble and expense? And yes, like you, we're finding the simplicity to be wonderful.
EYE CANDY IN THE BEST SENSE OF THE TERM
It's interesting that you mentioned that the lifelines on Profligate are 42 inches above the deck. I'm in construction and, on job sites, 42 inches is the OSHA requirement for the top rail on temporary handrails — for a good reason. I suspect that 42-inch lifelines on my 30-ft boat, besides looking "way out of proportion," would be impractical from a mechanical point of view in relation to the jib. Hence, a compromise at the expense of safety. In construction, we call this 'eye candy'. Without any lifelines, at least you know what it will actually take to keep you on your boat.
By the way, I think the picture of three topless female sailors 'whistling for wind' in the June issue left far too much to the imagination. Have them turn around for your next cover and they might pick up a tail wind — no pun intended. Now that would be eye candy in the best sense of the term. And no, I'm not married. Are they?
"YOU CAN'T USE OUR RADIOS IN MEXICO"
We did last year's Ha-Ha, so we were well aware of the problems the mothership Profligate had with her Icom 802 radio. But we've become aware of another issue with a brand of VHF radio that many of the same sailors are having down here in Mexico.
I'm referring to the Uniden UM 525 VHF which, we believe, has a problem if Channel 70 is active. The problem is that there's no reception on any channel — including 16. We've been listening to a morning net and then . . . silence. It has taken us a long time to identify what was happening.
A number of other Uniden owners had complained and thought that it was an issue with their remote microphones, but we don't have that problem. We also have a Standard Horizon Intrepid aboard, which doesn't have this problem, nor does our handheld, also a Standard Horizon. Luckily for us, the Uniden is not a life-or-death issue because it's our secondary radio. But for those for whom it is their only radio, it is an issue.
Uniden's response: "Thank you for using our system. In North America, Channel 70 is used for DSC signals, not regular analog signals. Since the radio is really intended for use in the U.S. and Canada only, Channel 70 is not used for any radio analog transmissions. Apparently Mexico uses channel 70 for other uses, so you will have to purchase a Mexican marine radio for use in that area of the world."
P.S. We were going to be in the Puddle Jump from Zihua to the Marquesas this spring, but we were having too much fun in Mexico, so we may see you there next year.
Chris — Thanks for the heads up. It's just our luck that we not only had problems with our SSB, but we also bought a Uniden 525 VHF to replace our old one. It was zero for two for us on the last two radios we bought. It's not the end of the world, but we find Uniden's explanation to be rubbish. How can they market a radio in San Diego and expect that nobody will use it in Mexico?
A SHOCKING SOLUTION
How about an inexpensive electric cow fence to keep sea lions off boats in places such as Newport Beach? They are available at Home Depot or Lowe's for $30 to $50, and run on 12-volt batteries. I saw them at Home Depot last week, and Sears used to have one that was perfect for discouraging our neighbor's Great Dane from visiting our home in Tahoe. The units usually come with nice little placards to protect your friends. At least the Great Dane was housebroken.
PATIENCE MAY BE A VIRTUE BUT IT ISN'T EASY
Frustration is just a word, but it can bring about such a negative emotion.
When I was younger, little things — like not getting what I wanted, or getting something other than I expected — would frustrate me. There was an easy fix back then, as I could just change my goals and accept less.
When I began competing in sports, I learned that changing the goal wasn't as easy. Everyone's goal was the same — to win! If I didn't win, I needed to work on fitness, endurance, or style to make myself better. Even if I wasn't first place, I always strived to be. Competing in sports taught me that, to succeed, I needed to work on myself first, and that discipline was the key to success. I was successful in a variety of sports, which I think helped me be a success in life.
I have never had much patience with people who weren't up to my expectations of competence. So I would try to work around or through them rather than with them. However, when you find a person who is both incompetent and a uniformed authority, you need special skills to deal with them. Unfortunately, I don't have all those skills. Patience is about my only weapon, and down here in the Galapagos Islands, where I am right now, I'm even running out of patience.
I'm attempting an 11-month circumnavigation with Wanderlust 3, my new Hunter Mariner 49, and therefore am on a tight schedule. Fourteen days ago, I emailed Hunter Customer Service, and the very next day Eddie Breeden got a replacement alternator for my Yanmar diesel on a FedEx plane headed for Quito, Ecuador. Johnny Romera, the local FedEx agent in Santa Cruz, the Galapagos Islands, promised it would take three or, at the most, four working days for the alternator to get from Florida to me in the Galapagos. Even though the shipping was prepaid for a 'vessel in transit', and therefore supposedly exempt from duty, I paid the $186 in duty anyway so nothing would slow the delivery down. Nonetheless, I just learned that Ecuadorian Customs has been sitting on my small but important package for 12 days. "Surely," I'm assured, "it will come tomorrow." I'm losing my patience.
When I competed in sports, I was always impatient. I couldn't wait to try something I was working on in order to improve myself. I would get excited to prove to myself, and then to others, that I was getting better. Then I had a horrific sports accident. I ended up in a coma for nearly 11 months, with many broken bones, including four places in my hips, my third and fourth lumbar vertebrae, my Atlas vertebrae and the base of my skull. I had to lie in a bed for over two years. My broken body could not hold itself upright in a sitting position, so even a wheelchair was out of the question. But I was so determined to make myself better, that I sometimes had to be strapped to my bedpost, because I'd try some movement and end up on the floor.
Finally, the doctors had a special gurney brought in where I could lie on my stomach and propel myself down the hall to rehab. I was then able to work on myself at my own pace. But the absolute total frustration of lying in bed for months without even being able to try to improve my condition had finally taught me one thing — patience.
It took weeks to see any noticeable improvement in my condition, such as the tiniest movement of a muscle, the smallest return of feeling in a previously numb part of my body, even regaining a few grams of weight. I would sometimes lie in bed at night and silently cry from the total frustration taking over my mind. I needed patience. I was learning it, but I still didn't have it. It would take years before I recovered enough to sit up, walk and sail. But I had to learn that there are just some things that you cannot force. You can't will all things to happen, sometimes you just have to accept the delays.
I've been anchored here in the Galapagos for 15 days waiting for one small box to clear Ecuadorian Customs. It's still not here. That means I have no choice, I'm going to have to change my route to make up for the delay. I will now bypass Sydney, where my boat was to be in the big boat show, and instead sail directly to Audi Hamilton Island Sail Week. It's still going to be hard, as I have to be there by the end of August.
People letting you down — especially bungling officials over whom you have no control — are a tremendous source of frustration. But an often equally powerful source of frustration is trying to do too much in too short a time. We don't mean to be critical of our good friend Mike, but laying out a very fast itinerary, such as an 11-month circumnavigation, tends to set one up for frustration. We know, because we do the same thing all the time.
I NOW DO THE INFAMOUS POSE AT YACHT CLUBS
In a response to a letter by Les and Sue Polgar, you mentioned that we could maybe even improve on the May cover, and wondered if I'd be interested in trying it again. I would love to be on the cover of Latitude anytime! I should be so lucky. In fact, I'll work on my poses until then.
Maybe you should let Robert Zimmerman have a try and the public can vote on his seagull striker pose. By the way, I now do the infamous pose on command at yacht clubs around the world where the members are faithful Latitude readers.
LAZY BUREAUCRACY DESERVES EVERY JAB
In your May issue, Phil Kipper complained of what he terms "gratuitous jabs at 'government'" and a "clever little political aside" in your coverage of the mooring fiasco at Angel Island's Ayala Cove. Perhaps if Mr. Kipper were better informed about the underlying problem, he would at least understand, if not agree with, Latitude's perfectly accurate characterization of government.
The moorings at Ayala Cove were renewed both for maintenance reasons and to attempt a more efficient mooring arrangement. As part of that renewal, a government agency required the installation of a ridiculous mooring system that attempted to keep mooring chains from dragging on the bottom and mixing up the muddy muck. The result was a serious safety problem, with lines floating just below the surface, almost as though they were designed to entangle boats. Although fully predictable, boats had to be entangled numerous times, at risk of life and property, before the idiots behind the policy backed down. I cut no government employee any slack due to the stories/rumors that this was an action "forced" on one government agency by another. It's all government, and silence is complicity. (In private companies, they call this "conspiracy" and people face criminal prosecution when it endangers lives.)
But let's focus on the bigger picture, where it looks even worse. These same government actors, supposedly worried about both the environment of the Bay and the safety of people boating on it, have sat idly by for well over a decade as the abandoned pier just north of the east end of the Richmond-San Rafael bridge has collapsed into the Bay leaching creosote and petroleum gunk into the Bay and releasing dangerous floating pilings and planks for boaters to collide with. But do these lazy bureaucrats correct this very real environmental and safety hazard? No. Instead, they pretend to take environmental action by requiring that chemically inert chain not drag the bottom at Ayala Cove, and they create a significant safety hazard in the process.
Why do they do this? Because it takes real work to address a currently existing hazardous situation, but it is easy to obstruct something being done which might have good results. The first requires that a bureaucrat actually does his/her job — which is to gather facts, pursue deadbeats, push paperwork, and actually accomplish something. The second requires only that the bureaucrat lean back in his office chair and say "No" to a request for a permit.
Ayala Cove was a perfect example of the lazy bureaucracy taking the easy path while still wanting credit for doing 'something' for the environment. Such a bureaucracy deserves every "jab," "aside," and outright attack that can be mustered against it — regardless of whether it is within one agency or split between two. Latitude should not hesitate to share its opinion on matters such as this, knee-jerk reactionary defenders of big and ineffective government like Mr. Kipper notwithstanding.
WE TAXPAYERS ARE CHUMPS
Contrary to Michael Harten Jr's assumption that tax dollars are being wasted by the Coast Guard, tax dollars are wasted by our attitude towards our government. For 28 years we have cut, stripped and whittled government down to the point that all that is left is bad government. Bad government does not mean bad Coast Guard.
When Admiral T. Allen refers to others in government, he must mean his boss Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS). We know from Katrina's aftermath what kind of appointments he makes. Integrated Coast Guard Systems must be run by the DHS, not by the Coast Guard, otherwise they would not be ignoring Adm. Allen.
Private owners always pay for one or two overseers, but taxpayers never want to pay. 'We the people' would rather — on conservative advice — save the tax money and let the rats inspect the cheese. We have been stupid and irresponsible, and let our government be decimated by small-minded people. Bashing the Coast Guard is not the way to fix the problems that we have created by our own elected choices.
Robert — While we think there are some excellent, well-intentioned and very hard-working people in government, by and large, we think it is a monumentally wasteful and corrupt enterprise. We're not necessarily a John McCain fan, but we think he hit the nail on the head when he said, "Fiscal irresponsibility is the one thing that unites Democrats and Republicans — and for that we should all be ashamed." As everyone knows, Congress doles out tax subsidies and increases federal spending to benefit influential constituencies and pet projects. Need we mention things such as subsidies for the not-exactly-ailing oil and gas industry and big agribusiness, pork that in the state of Alaska amounts to $870 a year for every man, woman and child, and government benefits and pensions that far exceed the norm in the private sector?
Would you like a local example? Presumably you're aware that the Berkeley City Attorney recently recommended firing all 22 employees of the Berkeley's Housing Authority for the "blatant misuse" of $25 million in federal funds. The whole department was accused of paying rent subsidies for dead tenants, giving subsidies to people who didn't qualify, playing favorites by subsidizing families who weren't eligible while leaving qualified families on the waiting list, paying subsidies retroactively when they weren't owed, and on and on. What do you want to bet that none of those employees sees a day behind bars, and that none of the money is recovered? And the last time we checked, Berkeley government isn't controlled by radical conservatives, yet where is the accountability?
Your state senator is Don Perata who, because of his position as President of the State Senate, is the second most powerful man in California. How long has he been under investigation by the FBI and the subject of highly critical articles for alledgedly receiving kick-backs? Not even our highest public officials behave in ways that are above reproach.
Over in San Francisco, another not particularly conservative place, anybody who wanted to get a building permit without it taking forever would have done well to pay big bucks to an 'expediter', who managed to get permits faster than regular citizens. The Bay Guardian whined about a marina motel project that submitted controversial plans for a large marina district hotel on the Friday before a Labor Day Weekend and, can you imagine, got the permit the following Tuesday — thanks to a "high-powered expediter." Then there's Jimmy Jen, a former plan checking engineer for the city's Department of Building Inspection. Subsequently known as a top 'expediter', Jen has been sued repeatedly — and convicted — for being, in the words of the city attorney, "one of the city's most notorious building code scofflaws." In addition to $150,000 in civil penalties, he's been ordered to reimburse San Francisco more than $830,000 in legal fees. You may think everything is on the up and up in progressive San Francisco, but we think it's possibly one of the most corrupt cities in the country.
We don't think the problem is that government gets too little in taxes, but rather is woefully inefficient, wasteful, and uses huge amounts of money to all but pay off constituents. We'll never forget a great news clip we saw once of U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters of Los Angeles, working some sort of protest crowd into a lather, repeatedly shouting, "The louder you scream, the more money you'll get!" We've always admired Congresswoman Waters, not only for her passion, but also for her honesty.
Close your eyes for a minute, and imagine what good government would be like: the officials are in office because of merit not patronage, the civil servants are passionate about helping people, all employees are held accountable for their actions, government is transparent, and all citizens are treated alike. Sound like anyplace you know? We taxpayers are chumps for accepting so much less.
HOW TO PREVENT 'BOMBS' ON CATS
I'm the one who requested your updated opinion on the pros and cons of monohulls. Now I have a question about catamarans. In a recent issue, you discussed the difference between Profligate, which is based on a Kurt Hughes 60, and 'ti Profligate, the Robertson & Caine 45 that you have in a Caribbean charter program. You mentioned a term to describe the difference between the two that I hadn't heard before, but I can't remember it. I think it had to do with how the two boats handled waves passing between the hulls, but I'm not sure. Since we're now 'kicking the fenders' of cats, I'm trying to get as much information as possible.
Because she's big, but also because we modified the design, Profligate has a bridgedeck clearance of about four feet. This means she rarely gets 'bombed', even when heading east across the Caribbean or doing a Baja Bash. Like most cats, 'ti Profligate has a much lower bridgedeck clearance, and as a result, when going upwind and even broad reaching in relatively moderate conditions, the 'bombs' can go off. Not having been used to them on Profligate, we found them to be alarming, but eventually got used to them. Sort of.
How bad the problem is depends to a large extent on where you'd use the cat. We don't think it would be an issue on the Bay, or even heading to Southern California or Mexico. But unless you waited for an excellent weather window for the Baja Bash back up, it could be a real banger.
Unfortunately, most cats have less than desirable clearance. Nonetheless, people have gone all over and around the world on cats with low bridgedeck clearance and had a great time. It's just not as relaxing or comfortable in adverse conditions.
The other two things prospective cat buyers have to make their peace with is that a cat isn't going to point as high as a decent monohull, and it's going to cost a lot more. Other than those negatives, many people find they have a lot of great features — incredible space and good speed to name two.
HE SAILED TO 200 ISLANDS ON HIS SCHOONER
I met Art Hammon while working in the Canal Zone in the mid-'70s. He had short hair and was clean shaven. He looked normal — so normal that he made me nervous. I thought he might be a Republican.
Fast forward a few years, and this bearded weirdo rowed up to our boat Antigone in Fiji. He looked as though he could have been the first homeless person. I had no idea who he was until he spoke. "Damn Artie, you're alright after all!"
A year or two later, Art returned to become a semi-permanent fixture at Dick Smith's Musket Cove Resort bar at Malololailai, Fiji. In 1980, he, Dick, and a few others started the now-famous Musket Cove YC, membership in which is still just a buck. Artie was member number five. I never returned to Fiji with Antigone, but I did with Sugar Blues, my later boat. When I did, I discovered that Antigone's name board was almost lost among all the other name boards that became a Musket Cove tradition.
I was handed Art's Musket Cove YC card during his memorial service in May. He was 79 years old when he started his last passage, having sailed 100,000 miles on his little 32-ft schooner Wanderlure. She's been passed on to a Kiwi mate who will tackle the rebuild. Then she'll sail back to her second home in New Zealand's Bay of Islands.
In many of the photo albums laid out at the memorial, Art could be seen wearing one of his favorite T-shirts. 'Life, Be In It', was printed on the front. That thought was apparently contagious, as person after person at the memorial told stories of how Art had changed the direction of their lives. I looked at the Marquesan ukulele on his shop wall, and wondered what story went with it. Back then you could still trade — illegally, of course — .22 shells for carvings. In a small anchorage on Ua Pou, a shopkeeper carved the final tuning pegs on a uke for my then-six-year-old. We bought a liter of Algerian red. He bought a bottle. Repeat ad nauseam. The price included fried goat and hours of strumming and singing. It came to me as I sat at the memorial listening, that this was what it usually boiled down to — stories. One of our choices is what kind of stories we leave when we move on.
"Wow, I remember the day Art sold 24 million shares of junk bonds. What a guy!" No, I don't think so. That's not why we go sailing. Life, be in it.
Artie was one of the many who sailed for decades without any recognition. Wanderlure sailed between the South Pacific and New Zealand so many times that she could have done it without crew. On the back of Art's logbook, he listed all the islands he'd been to. The total was almost 200, and included Pitcairn, Easter, Norfolk, and the Galapagos. He navigated by sextant and log. That's not quite as primitive as the one-handed alarm clock and calculus tables that Slocum used, but in this day and age, where everyone has a six-pack of GPS devices aboard, it was still something.
I'll tack Art's YC card on my shop wall, next to mine, a reminder of days past when we sailed wearing nothing but a smile, and always sailed downwind in smooth seas. Well, I'm not positive about the downwind and smooth part, but that's how I remember it, and it still makes me smile. Fa'a ito ito — go with courage, my friend.
IT HAPPENED BEFORE MICK JAGGER WAS TO BOARD
A while back you asked if we readers thought Reid Stowe — who on April 21 took off from Hoboken, New Jersey, with his young girlfriend Soanya on their 70-ft schooner Anne for a 1,000-mile non-stop voyage to nowhere — was: A) One of the last great adventurers, B) A wing nut looking for publicity, or C) A hero for trying to spend three years with nobody but a woman half his age.
Well, I know Reid, and owe many of the major changes in my life to him. For example, he convinced me to sail to the Caribbean aboard the schooner Tantra, which is what Anne was named before he changed it. Even though my only prior sailing experience was on a Sunfish, he made me the first mate. It turned out that none of the other crew had any sea experience either. The months aboard Tantra would make a great subject for several chapters in a book. For instance, we were bounced across Frying Pan shoals for at least three hours during a storm one night. Then we sailed through the eye of a hurricane, the original Katrina back in November '80. The main halyard was wrapped around the prop, so we had no motor to help us.
I have to say that much of the good that has happened to me was because of Reid, so the real answer to your question is 'all of the above'. He's a visionary hero wing nut with a very young girlfriend — to say the least.
I PREDICT HE FINISHES WITH A DIFFERENT WOMAN
I choose your Option C, that Reid is a hero for trying to spend 1,000 days with a woman who is less than half his age. But I have my doubts if Reid can stick it out with her. It wouldn't have been possible with any of the women I knew in my 20s or even 30s. I predict that Stowe either doesn't finish or finishes with a different woman.
I LIKE MY GIRLFRIEND, BUT . . .
Can you imagine being locked up for 1,000 continuous days with anyone? They don’t even do this to prisoners in a SuperMax prison facility. I like my girlfriend, but 1,000 days without a break? It's a homicide in the making. If you ask me, that boat is going to be a couple hundred feet short for comfort. Now maybe if Soanya had a sister . . .
I think 55-year-old Reid Stowe's 1,000 Day Voyage with his 23-year-old girlfriend is the envy of every over-40 sailor on the planet. But what's going to happen when those two come to the tragic end — which seems all but inevitable — and call for rescue? Who is responsible for them at that point? Does society owe Stowe, or anyone else, a rescue from such an ill-advised and risky voyage?
As for the couple 'all but inevitably' having to call for a rescue, why would that be? After all, they're not going anywhere, so it doesn't matter if they lose the masts, sails, rudder, engine or just about anything else. They'd just eventually drift close to some land mass, where they'd be picked up by relatives, the media or, more likely, a pizza delivery service. It seems to us all they have to do is keep from sinking, and that shouldn't be difficult. And if they just can't take each other anymore, they can just sail into port.
SHE WAS RIGHT THERE FOR ALL TO SEE
Prior to Anne taking off on the 1,000 Day Voyage, she was available for all to see at the Chelsea Piers on the West Side of Manhattan. From the dock, the schooner appeared to be in poor shape. As an example, the sails looked particularly shabby, and were always left exposed to the sun, so one has to assume there was significant UV damage. It's hard to see how they can last 1,000 days at sea.
HE'S A FISH AND I AM NOT
Why write something negative when you have nothing constructive or informative to report? The problem with pulp fiction masquerading as media today is that it is consistently more interested in people's sex lives than in their accomplishments — particularly when they are more interesting than those of the given 'reporters' at hand.
Had you chosen to research this article, you would have noted that the schooner Anne was hit by a 70-foot rogue wave in the middle of the night during the Voyage of the Sea Turtle, causing her to fall upside down the equivalent of seven stories. As a good friend of his ex-wife, Laurance, and Reid's, I take great offense in your callous and cheap lack of journalistic integrity, much less any appreciation, knowledge, or respect of the sea.
After almost breaking her jaw on a trip to Bermuda well after their safe return from the Voyage of the Sea Turtle, which was their honeymoon, she was terrified to sail again. She said, understandably, upon return to safe harbor: J'aime Reid, mais lui c'est un poisson et moi non. Or, "I love Reid, but he is a fish and I am not." They still hold the world record for the longest time at sea for a couple which, God willing, will soon be surpassed by the Voyage of 1000 Days at Sea.
The French have an expression that roughly translates to: "The spit of the toad will never hope to touch the wings of the white dove." To choose to report on age difference, rather than compatibility, to cast aspersions rather than compliment the integrity, dreams and the daring of this young couple as they embark upon a historic voyage, which shares with the world a great lesson for sustainable human development, is shameless, unprofessional, and may I add, crackpot reporting and yellow journalism.
By the way, if you knew anything about the sea, you'd know that it's preposterous to claim that Anne "fell upside down the equivalent of seven stories" — and not just because a boat can't fall further than the height of the wave she was on.
REID HAS BEEN A TEACHER TO MANY
While it's indeed difficult for most people to grasp the idea of constantly being at sea for three years, I don’t find it any more odd than wanting to climb mountains. Reid was inspired to take this journey after he met Bernard Moitessier. Jon Sanders, who did three non-stop circumnavigations, was another inspiration. Reid asked for — and I gave him — a copy of Sextant, Sea and Solitude to use as a reference book on the voyage.
Reid is a deeply spiritual person, as is Soanya, which is why they have such a good rapport. I've heard Reid discuss the meditative and creative state he experiences when at sea, and know that this voyage stems from his desire for a personal and transforming spiritual quest. Think of the monks who separate themselves from society and remain in almost total silence for years on end. If anyone has the mental vigor to complete such a voyage, it is Reid. If Latitude readers want to make an effort to understand his motivation, they should watch an '03 interview with him that can be found on the YouTube link ly4I.youtube.com/watch?v=w8Ss-yE.
The Latitude writer trivalized the bravery Soanya displayed in undertaking the trip. While she hasn’t sailed in the ocean, she has lived aboard the Anne for several years, and previously took various maritime courses at a local college. She is also an expert with the computers and the other communications systems they have onboard. Soanya is well aware that there will be no turning back, and will undoubtedly need to call upon all her mental and physical strength to see the voyage to its conclusion.
Reid conceived of the 1000 Day Voyage nearly 20 years ago, and has single-mindedly prepared for it ever since. The willpower and focus he has sustained to realize his goal is impressive in and of itself. He has also served as a teacher to many — myself included — who got their first sailing lessons from Reid while at the helm of the Anne. Reid has been a friendly, gregarious and generous host to everyone who has boarded the schooner. I dare say that all of us who have had the good fortune to be counted as a friend have been enriched by the experience. This voyage isn’t something many of Reid’s and Soanya’s friends would even consider undertaking, but we all wholeheartedly support them and admire their fortitude.
P.S. I was first mate on my cousin Jerry Morgan's Trintella 53 Sumatra in the '05 Ha-Ha.
TWO BUCK CHUCK IS BETTER THAN NOTHING
Even if I didn't sail, I'd be a Latitude reader. The content is superb! Thanks to all of you for producing a wonderful monthly read. I savor every word. But please consider reminding us subscribers when our subscriptions should be renewed. Or consider creating an 'evergreen' renewal for Visa or MasterCard payers.
The eBooks edition of Latitude is compelling, but I don't think the magazine lends itself to such a version. Latitude is like a fine wine, a cognac, to be savored over time. Only the paper version will do for that. I will continue to prefer the paper version, which I will recycle after a season of appropriate enjoyment of the content.
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