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May 2009

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I'm writing with regard to Speedo swimsuits, which have been a topic of discussion in recent Latitudes. One sailor from Capitola wrote in to say how much he loved them, while others, including Liz Clark of the Santa Barbara-based Cal 40 Swell, have expressed an extreme disgust for them.

I've worn Speedos ever since I was a lifeguard in high school. Yeah, I know, Speedos make people run, dogs bark, my daughters roll their eyes and old ladies faint. But I don't care. I love Speedos. I'm a 53-year-old international 747-400 captain, and Speedos are as close to skinny dippin' as you can get. Why wear more than you need?

The accompanying photo was taken last Sunday, at 36,000 feet, during which time I was wearing a Speedo under my uniform while flying back to the United States from Brazil. I'd gone swimming at the hotel just before pilot 'showtime', so I just left my Speedo on. They dry that fast. I've worn Speedos all over the world on layovers. In fact, the flight attendants named me 'Captain Speedo' — although I'm not sure if that's good or bad. The other photo is of me in the driveway of my home after we got back.

So Speedo wearers unite! Let the dogs bark, damn the naysayers, and full Speedo ahead! Banana hammocks forever!

Capt. Don Rees, B747-400
Tango, Catalina 30
Glen Cove YC

Capt. Don — You're obviously very proud of your physique — and you ought to be. We're straight as hell, but we salute you for being in terrific shape. Some people think it would be in the public's interest if there were rules for wearing Speedos. If you're under 60 but not in excellent physical condition, for example, you wouldn't be allowed to wear a Speedo in public. Over 60, however, and you'd get a free pass because at that age most people tend to ignore you.

As we mentioned before, we love the so-called 'Baja Tuxedos' because they dry so quickly and are so functional. For example, if you go surfing wearing baggies, water annoyingly keeps dripping down your legs for about half an hour after you come out of the water. Such suits are also recipes for 'boat butt'. But if you wear a Speedo under your baggies, you just whip off the latter, shake your butt a couple of times, and all will be dry. In addition, Speedos are great to wear during outdoor showers on boats when not everyone aboard is comfortable with naked, naked, naked. Yes, we know group nudity is popular on many boats these days, but not for us. For one thing, we're just not that interested in seeing any guy's 'junk'. Secondly, and more importantly, group nudity tends to validate the concept that nudity, and by extension, sex, is wholesome. Can you think of anything more dreary and banal than wholesome sex? Sex isn't really sex unless it's furtive and just a little bit indecent — is it? So please everyone, Speedos for bathing in a group on a boat.


Shortly after noon on March 28, my wife and I were sailing south of the Bay Bridge when we heard a man overboard report on channel 16. The person making the report said there was a male head bobbing in the water near Pier 39, but that it was too windy for his boat to be able to stop and help.

The skipper on another sailboat also heard the call and rushed to the sailor's rescue. A short time later, he reported that the man in the water was next to his boat, but he wasn't able to pull him aboard. He also reported that the man, a singlehander, had fallen off his boat, and that his boat was rapidly sailing in the direction of Angel Island.

Then the situation improved. The Coast Guard reported they'd gotten the man out of the water and were heading to Pier 39. Before long, another sailor reported that he'd taken control of the runaway boat and was bringing her to Pier 39.

It was a godsend that the first sailor saw the man bobbing in the water and made the man overboard report. But I can't figure out why he didn't render any aid. Too much wind? Yes, it was windy out there, but how difficult would it have been to drop the sails and turn on the iron genny? Thank God there was a second boat nearby that was able to render assistance.

I think it would be helpful for everyone to know what was taking place before the sailor fell overboard, and exactly how it happened. It would also be nice to know what kind of safety equipment he had or failed to have on when this all happened.

As a result of this incident, I made a point to take a few minutes to practice a MOB scenario, with and without crew, as I sail singlehanded most of the time. I'm also going to track down a rescue class that I saw offered last year. This year I'll sign up.

Chris Stewart
24-7, Catalina 36
Walnut Creek

Chris — We presume the sailor who made the man overboard report decided that since other boats and the Coast Guard were in the vicinity, and that he was having difficulty controlling his boat in that situation, it was best to let someone else do the actual pickup. Not knowing anything different, and with the ultimate rescue of the man overboard, we're going to assume that he made the correct call.

If the man overboard would like to share, even anonymously, what caused him to go overboard, we'd like to publish it. But based on the rescue and survival of Dave Wilhite and Dave Servais in the Doublehanded Farallones Race, we think a PFD and a waterproof VHF would be the best things to have attached to one's body when going overboard.


The loss of the keel on the J/80 Heat Wave in the Doublehanded Farallones reminded me of racing an Olsen 36 in the '89 Doublehanded Farallones. As we pounded out through the short, steep chop of an ebb tide, the boat and deck were flexing so much that the jib sheet turning block track bent enough to release the turning block. We put the turning block back onto the track only to have it come off two more times. Becoming concerned that the deck might separate from the hull, we dropped out. That's when I began to seriously question the 'surfboard with a bolt-on keel' design of ultralight displacement boats.

The next summer I sailed from Hawaii to California with Dan Newland. At the time, Dan was building his Newland 37. Having already won the Singlehanded TransPac, and being a materials genius, Newland and his new boat had a lot of credibility. Nonetheless, while sailing the Bay about four years later, the boat's keel fell off.

And didn't a Wylie Wabbit lose her keel offshore many years ago? Then there was the German boat built for the racing-charter business in Croatia. In one of her first races, she lost her keel. Sisterships in the fleet had keels that almost failed, too, and the boats were all recalled.

This year I sailed in the Doublehanded Lightship Race on a Ranger 37, an old war horse. There was no flexing, no vibrations and no fear of failure. If I'm not mistaken, at one time multihulls were banned from the TransPac because they were considered unsafe due to their tendency to 'rack' and catastrophically fail. I think it's time to have an honest discussion about the risk versus benefits of ultralight displacement boats. Thankfully nobody died in the Doublehanded Farallones, but it easily could have been different. Let's be honest with ourselves before more people die.

David Cain, Crew
Glissade, Ranger 37
Bay Area

David — What's an Olsen 36? We're familiar with Olsen 38s, but they are moderate displacement boats. You must be talking about an Olson 30 or and Olson 40. Both of these designs have been raced hard and extensively, and while they had minor structural issues related to skippers' pushing the performance envelope, to our knowledge none has ever lost a keel.

Keels fail for four primary reasons: 1) Bad engineering; 2) Bad construction; 3) Having been weakened by hitting something; or 4) Lack of maintenance, such as checking that keel bolts are in good shape and tight. As such, there is nothing that makes light boats inherently more susceptible to keel failures than moderate displacement boats. Take the case of Bill Lee's 67-ft Merlin, the first big ultralight. If we're not mistaken, she's been raced very hard for over 300,000 miles with no keel problems. As far as we know, there haven't been any keels lost off popular ultralights such as Moore 24s, any of the Santa Cruz 27s, 40s and 50s, or the Express 27s and 37s. That's a whole lot of light boats with a staggering amount of hard ocean miles beneath their keels. In the case of J/80s, prior to Heat Wave there had only been one keel failure in the run of 1,056 boats. Even one is too many, of course, but with that kind of record you have to wonder if the cause wasn't something other than engineering or construction.

Keel failures are not unique to ultralight boats. After all, who can forget when the keels fell off two of BMW Oracle's boats during training for the '03 America's Cup in Auckland? And nobody is going to claim an IACC boat is an ultralight. Right off the top of our heads we can recall keel failures on moderate displacement racer-cruisers off England, in Croatian waters, off Australia, off South Africa, and most recently in the Gulf of Mexico. Again, there was no single cause. Take the case of Excalibur, which flipped off Australia in '02 with the terrible loss of four lives. Last month Alex Cittidini, director of what had been Applied Alloy Yachts, was convicted of manslaughter as a result of the Excalibur case. The jury said as director of the company, Cittidini either knew about or should have known about a cut that had been made in the keel and a "child-like" weld to repair it.

We have no data to support it, but we suspect that the greatest rate of keel failure has been on custom ultralight boats, and for two reasons. First, the designers, builders and owners were willing to accept the risk of smaller margins of error in the pursuit of higher performance. As Buddy Melges once famously said, any part of an America's Cup boat that doesn't fail just after crossing the finish line of the final race was overbuilt. Second, custom ultralight boats tend to be raced harder and more often. This month's Max Ebb dives deep into the issue.


Three years ago Paul Nielsen and I were on the scene in the Potato Patch when Stan Glaros' Great Fun II lost her keel in the Duxship Race. That was bad enough. But after reading about the miraculous survival of Dave Wilhite and Dave Servais after their J/80 Heat Wave lost her keel and flipped in the terrible conditions outside the Gate during the Doublehanded Farallones Race on the night of March 28, I'm rethinking my coastal sailing emergency equipment. After all, I can't imagine surviving anything like what Wilhite and Servais did — 30+ knots of wind, big breaking waves, all while clinging to and repeatedly getting knocked off the overturned hull of the boat.

There's a lot of speculation going around about the best gear for near-shore racing. Can you shed some light on a few questions?

1) What's the response time after the activation of an EPIRB with GPS? Rumor has it that four hours might pass before the call is routed through to the correct agency. Is an EPIRB a good safety solution for near-shore racing in cold water temperatures?

2) What's the Coast Guard's reception range for a 5- to 6-watt handheld VHF radio transmitting from a foot above max wave height? Are there any shadows caused by Pt. Bonita or other land masses? Has anyone tested radios in rough conditions in this area?

3) Is DSC with integrated GPS a tool that Coasties or other marine traffic use?

A handheld waterproof VHF radio with integrated GPS receiver and DSC capability, turned on (so it has already acquired satellites), and strapped to my harness sounds ideal, but I worry about reception range. If Servais hadn't had a boat to stand on, would his transmission have been heard?

Will Sitch
San Francisco

Will — Response to an EPIRB may take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. "It depends on where the boat is in relation to the satellite that's receiving the signal," USCG SAR Duty Controller Ernest Delli Gatti told us recently. And if the initial alert doesn't include a position report, as many don't, even more time passes until it's received, either from another satellite or by phone confirmation with a shoreside contact. "The average time for a position report is a little over an hour," SAR Controller Ed Skinner said, "but it could take as long as three." As such, it's not the ideal solution where drowning or hypothermia are legitimate risks. In addition, EPIRBs have difficulty transmitting from underwater or through fiberglass.

As for the radio, Wilhite dove underneath the overturned hull to retrieve the waterproof handheld radio, then called the Coast Guard from about eight miles offshore. Despite the shrieking wind, huge seas and the fact that Servais, who was operating the radio, was very low in the water, both he and the Coast Guard say the radio reception was strong and clear.

As far as DSC — and personal EPIRBs such as SPOT (Satellite Personal Tracker), PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) and other units you attach to yourself — anything you can do to increase your chances of rescue will help both you and the Coast Guard. That was the main message at a meeting last month between a team of Coast Guard officials and representatives of the YRA and all yacht clubs that run ocean races. The Coasties noted that if you go the PLB route, be sure to get one meant for marine use, as the ones intended for hikers go through a different satellite relay and will take longer to reach the Coast Guard. One PLB they specifically recommend is the one they all wear themselves offshore: the McMurdo Fast Find. They also mentioned that they will be asking yacht clubs that sponsor ocean races to require all boats racing in the ocean to carry a float-free (water activated) Category I EPIRB starting in 2010. We don't want to say too much about this right now since the recommendation hasn't even been drafted yet. We'll bring you updates as we learn them.

The irony is that these new regulations are based on three recent incidents where EPIRBs likely wouldn't have made any difference to the outcome: 1) the loss of Daisy last year in the Doublehanded Lightship Race, where Kirby Gale and Tony Harrow perished in a quick and catastrophic sinking; 2) the disappearance of Pterodactyl after the crew were swept overboard (they were immediately rescued by another boat) in the following month's Doublehanded Farallones Race — any onboard EPIRB wouldn't have been activated (as it was, the Coasties threw an EPIRB into the cockpit to track the boat but it sailed into oblivion anyway); and 3) last month's abrupt capsizing of Heat Wave.

Based on his near death experience, Wilhite has come up with his ideal offshore-but-near-shore racing kit. For details on both the remarkable survival, and what would be in his next kit, see the feature article elsewhere in this issue.

By the way, the Coast Guard has two new policies in an effort to prevent the loss of life in races in the Gulf of Farallones. First, from now on they must all be individually permitted. Second, the Coast Guard will have a boat on the course during each race. We think the latter is a great idea, as it would be perfect training — which they need to be doing anyway.


As a reader of Latitude, I find the Lake County District Attorney's case against Bismarck Dinius to be an abomination! That Dinius, who happened to be sitting at the helm of a stationary sailboat, should be charged for the death of Lynn Thornton, when it was actually caused by Deputy Perdock's slamming his powerboat into the sailboat at 45 mph, is outrageous! Is there some way that we can get the attention of State Attorney General Jerry Brown, perhaps by having Latitude create a form letter that we can send by the thousands, to get the right person charged for the crime? Relying on the Deputy's buddy, the Lake County District Attorney, to do anything right seems hopeless now. How about a lawsuit against the D.A. and the Sheriff's Office for dereliction of duty?

If the Dinius case ever goes to civil court, as in the case of O.J. Simpson, Sheriff Perdock's ass will be grass!

Keith Dekker
Los Osos

Keith — Based on all the available evidence, State Attorney General Jerry Brown and the State Attorney General's Office couldn't give a rat's ass about justice. Latitude and others have already instigated email campaigns to make Brown and his office aware of the travesty. In addition, ABC Channel 7's I-Team reporter Dan Noyes has been conducting an excellent ongoing exposé. It's also noteworthy that a huge majority of respondents to a survey in the Lake County Record-Bee agree that Perdock, not Dinius, was responsible for the death of Thornton. Furthermore, various members of Thornton's family have even written the judge to say the wrong man is being prosecuted and that charges should be laid against Perdock. But do you think that any of this, or the obvious conflict of interest on the part of the Lake County Sheriff's Department and the Lake County District Attorney's Office, has had any effect? Of course not. In our opinion, it's just another example of the incompetence and corruption that is so pervasive in government today.

By the way, there already has been a civil case over Thornton's death. The company that insured Perdock's boat coughed up the full amount of his policy, all but admitting his guilt.

For more on California justice having run completely off the rails, see this month's update on the Bismarck Dinius situation.


This year was the first time that Karen and I participated in a Sea of Cortez Sailing Week, and it far exceeded our expectations. We've been sailing our Beneteau Oceanis 411 Dream Seeker for over nine years, but during Sail Week we'd learned more about sailing our boat faster and more efficiently than in all the time we previously owned her. This was thanks to experienced racers such as Louis Kruk from the Hayward-based Beneteau First 42S7 Cirque and Steve Lannen of the San Francisco-based Beneteau First 40.5 Full Quiver. Both skippers sat down with me on most nights after sailing and answered my many questions, giving me insights into strategies and sail trim that really helped us on the subsequent races.

Nevertheless, the event was much more about friendship, sharing ideas, sailing in incredible conditions, and general all around fun than it was about 'serious' racing. Thanks to the Grand Poobah and Doña de Mallorca of Latitude and Patsy Verhoeven of the La Paz-based Gulfstar 50 Talion for putting on this great event, and for all the skippers and crews who made it so much fun.

Tom Lilienthal
Dream Seeker, Beneteau Oceanis 411
San Francisco

Tom — Gracias for the kind words. We've always preached that participating in low-key races is a great way for folks to become better and more confident sailors, which makes sailing — and cruising — more fun. We realize that most non-racers are skeptical about this, but it's true. And learning to sail your boat better by participating in 'nothing serious' races doesn't have to be scary or boring, as you primarily need to just try to mimic what the faster boats are doing. After the races, pick the minds of more experienced skippers on how you could improve your sail trim and strategic decisions.


While reading last September's Latitude, I noticed that you mentioned Stan Honey's Cal 40 Illusion. It has inspired me to send you some history on that boat, and how one ex-cruiser has been transformed. But first, I have to say that I'm assuming the Illusion in question is Cal 40 hull #57.

If this is indeed the same Cal 40, I bought her in Cos Cob, Connecticut, in '76. She was one of those East Coast derelicts living on a buoy. I had recently moved from San Francisco to New York City for a job and, at the time, East Coast sailors weren't too impressed with TransPac boats. The boat's low price reflected this, so I got a good deal.

For me, the cruising bug started on San Francisco Bay with Peter Jones, Fat Albert at Wave Traders, Paradise Cay, and yes, the founding of Latitude 38. Illusion was my vehicle to complete the dream. Note that my dream was accompanied by zero experience. Nonetheless, Illusion and I would cruise as far south as Valparaiso, Chile, as far east as Patras, Greece, and make a zig-zag path everywhere in between. Broke, but with a German girlfriend I found while exiting the Canal solo and a son born in Mexico, I got Illusion back to Santa Cruz, where I sold her for money to buy food. If any one knows of her history after that, I'd love to hear it.

What happens to ex-cruisers? This one got as far away from the ocean as possible, and exchanged the open ocean for the open prairie. Now, 20-something years later, I will report on my demise as a cruiser. We bought a small farm, which has grown over the years. My son born in Mexico was followed by four more. The eldest graduated from the University of Florida last spring, and is taking over the management of the farm. I'm retiring from farming.

But over the last two decades I never managed to completely rid myself of the bug that is cruising, and have embarked on a new path. I am now stripping down — outriggers, winches, and so forth — a 90-ft shrimp trawler. Oh, I can hear the purists gasp! Are we going back to Waterworld? Keep in mind that I was once one of you. In any event, we have set up camp on the Gulf of Mexico, and hope to have the beast completed in time to transit the Canal and make it to next year's Ha-Ha. I know I am now a sinner, heretic, and stinkpotter, but I still have an affinity toward sailors. We have a 30-ft x 22-ft fish hold converted to a full blown service shop, make 350 gallons of freshwater per day, and will always quickly chill warm beers for desperate sailors.

Now for my rant. In the same article in which Illusion was mentioned, Latitude made the statement that we Americans are the largest per capita users of energy in the world. I hear that statement often, but another seldom heard fact should be included in the sentence. We Americans are the largest consumers of energy in the world, but we're also the largest producers of world product! We use 25% of the world's energy to create 29% of the world's product, so it's a positive ratio.

Despite having gone from purists to pigs, we hope to see you next year.

Rod Wagner
M/V Party Farm
LaCygne, Kansas

Rod — Valparaiso to Patras to Santa Cruz on a Cal 40 — we're impressed. As for a 90-ft converted shrimp trawler as a cruising boat, that wouldn't be our first choice of a ride, but we'd love to have you along on the Ha-Ha. Incidentally, over the years we've learned that farmers tend to be very successful cruisers. And why not, as they are used to having to make major decisions on their own and living with the results, and they tend to be able to fix anything with almost nothing.

As for your old Cal 40, we think you'll find the following letter to be interesting.


We bought our Cal 40 Illusion from Moore's Reef in Santa Cruz in 1988. She is indeed hull #57.

Buying the boat was a very peculiar exercise. She had no engine and was otherwise serving as a shelter for some homeless folks. There were three bullet holes in her topsides, substantial collision damage on the bow, and various missing parts — including the mast step, table and engine. Ron Moore couldn’t tell us who the owner was because the owner had stipulated in the storage contract with Ron that his identify would not be revealed. So we made a 'To Whom It May Concern' cash offer of $20,000 through Moore. We were then contacted by yacht broker Gary Helms, who reported that the owner had contracted to pay him a 6% commission to sell Illusion to us because the owner wanted to conceal his identify.

Helms said it was nuts for someone to pay him a commission to sell a boat he'd never seen, particularly when it was a cash offer with no contingencies. Helms' pointed out that all the secrecy might indicate that there was a lien on the boat, and recommended insisting that the title be current and clear of any liens. It was clear. We still have no idea who the owner was or why he was so secretive.

Apparently Peter Jones knew the previous owner, and said he'd been sailing up from Panama when the engine failed. He was so tired of beating so much that he had the boat trucked to Moore's Reef.

Hull #57 has always been named Illusion. She was originally owned by Bus Mosbacher, famous for being the helmsman on the 12 Meter Weatherly, and Vince Monte-Sano. They apparently did very well racing the boat for the New York YC, so there is a half hull model of Illusion on the wall in the model room there. Illusion's hull was originally black.

Bizzy Monte-Sano, Vince’s son, once came to South Beach Yacht Harbor in San Francisco to see the boat, and he told us countless stories of her early life — including why there was an extensive repair on the starboard side. Apparently, when they passed too close behind a barge in light air, the eddy sucked them in and the two vessels banged around for some time. Bizzy said that the barge tender wasn’t very helpful — he just yelled at them and hit them with his mop. Bizzy, by the way, is now the attorney who represents the New York YC in the America's Cup mess.

I haven't been able to sail Illusion as much as I'd like recently, as I've been navigator on Groupama 3, Franck Cammas' 100-ft maxi trimaran. She's quite a boat. We just finished a training trip from Lorient, France, to Istanbul, Turkey. In July we'll be going after the TransAtlantic record, and in November we'll make an attempt on the Jules Verne around the world record.

Stan Honey
Illusion, Cal 40
Palo Alto

Readers — The part Honey left out is how many races he's won with Illusion. Unfortunately, we'd need another couple of pages to list them all. Among the most significant were the Singlehanded TransPac overall in 1994, and two Pacific Cups, sailing doublehanded with Sally, in 1990 and 1996. In the latter, Illusion got to Hawaii in 11 days, 5 hours, which is faster than any other fully crewed Cal 40 has ever gotten to Hawaii since these boats started racing there in TransPac in 1967.


Latitude recently asked to hear from boatowners who have owned the same boat for more than 30 years. As of February, I have owned Heathcliff, my Catalina 27, for 30 years. In recent years I've mostly raced her in club races with my teenage daughters, Bonnie, 14, and Jessica, 12. In the March issue, you reported that we took second place out of 15 boats in PHRF 5 in the Corinthian YC Midwinters.

Last summer, the three of us sailed to Hawaii, Maui, Molokai and Oahu on another boat, but that's another story.

Ed Hoff
Heathcliff, Catalina 27
Brisbane Marina


How about an 'Over 50 Club'? I've enjoyed reading the letters about the 'Over 30 Club', for people who have owned the same boat for over 30 years. I'm even a member.

But I'm curious to how many members there might be in an 'Over 50 Club'. I've owned my 74-ft Belknap and Payne schooner Viveka since 1957. Like most of the club members, I've had many good memories, some great adventures, and very few regrets. I left San Francisco aboard Viveka in '65 and headed to Hawaii. In '89 I left Hawaii to do a circumnavigation, arriving back in San Francisco Bay in '96. There are too many good stories, of course, spread over all those years to tell now, but let me say that I still enjoy my old girl. And although I'm 87 years old, I still live aboard.

Another member to the club should be my friend of about 50 years, Ron McCannon, who has owned his boat, the 82-ft M Class Pursuit, berthed in Sausalito, for close to 50 years.

I look forward to reading about other 'Over 50 Club' members, and might suggest that we all get together sometime.

Merl Petersen
Viveka, Belknap & Payne Schooner

Merl — It never crossed our minds there could be an 'Over 50 Club', but yeah, we'd like to hear from any other members. By the way, we can remember kicking around the Ala Wai in the mid-'80s, listening to all the skeptics poo-poo your plans to refit Viveka and circumnavigate. You must have gotten more than a little satisfaction from proving them wrong.


I'm having trouble finding out how much it costs to call an Iridium phone. I thought you might know.

John Defoe
Debra, Tartan 37
Laurel, MD

John — It all depends on how you make the call, but be careful, because if you do it the wrong way you'll quickly go broke. The smart way to do it is to call Iridium's number in Arizona, which is (480) 768-2500, at which point you'll be prompted for the number of the Iridium phone you wish to call. The cost to you will be whatever your local provider charges you to make a call to Arizona, which shouldn't be too much. Or, you can call the Iridium phone direct, which All Roads Communications, the Iridium dealer in San Diego, says can cost "up to $20 a minute." Let us repeat, if you don't go through Iridium's number in Arizona, a direct call to an Iridium phone can cost you up to $20 a minute!

Folks who receive calls on their Iridium phones are charged $1.64/minute.

We think Iridium phones are a tremendous safety aid, but have to be used wisely in order not to rack up huge bills.


I've been sailing in Southeast Asia until recently, so I got a little behind on my reading of 'Lectronic and Latitude. Having now read the January'Lectronicitem where you reported that Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich had his girlfriend as the only passenger on his private Boeing 767 from St. Martin in the Caribbean to Moscow, I can tell you that you missed the California angle to that story. Unless Roman was fooling around with a new girlfriend — something his first wife accused him of doing — the girlfriend he put on a plane that is more typically configured to carry up to 375 passengers was Daria Zhukhova. While I never met Daria myself, one of my roommates at UC Santa Barbara had a Slavic Studies class with her. Although Daria went on to become a model, I have to be honest, there were about 1,000 California girls at UCSB that I found more attractive when I was there.

Jeffrey Jensen
Los Angeles

Jeffrey — Daria is actually something of a California Girl herself, having moved from Moscow to Santa Barbara at age 10 with her microbiologist mother. UCSB is apparently a much more challenging school now than in the '60s when we attended classes between protesting and surfing, so we tip our hat to Daria for graduating with honors. She's now reputed to be the queen of the art scene in Moscow, in part because Roman reportedly bought her two paintings worth $50 million each.


I'd like to let everyone know that there will be a 25th anniversary celebration of American Marvin Creamer's 30,000-mile circumnavigation without the use of any navigation instruments. For those of you who never heard, and many didn't, it's correct. Creamer and his crew went around aboard his Brewer 35 Globe Star without a compass, sextant, timepiece or any electronic navigation device. Creamer, now a spry 93 years young, and still the owner of a 17-ft sailboat, will be in attendance at the celebration in New Jersey.

To recap, prior to his unique circumnavigation, Creamer had considerable ocean experience. He'd sailed his 30-ft ketch Scotia from New Jersey to Bermuda twice, from New Jersey to the Azores twice, from New Jersey to England and back, and from New Jersey to Ireland and back, doing the latter return trip without navigation instruments. After selling Scotia, Creamer purchased the 39-ft cutter Navstar, and in '80 sailed from New Jersey to Dakar, Africa. His return trip, via the Cape Verde Islands and Bermuda, was without the use of traditional navigational instruments.

By early '84, Creamer had made eight Atlantic crossings, three times without navigation instruments, but still hadn't achieved his ultimate goal of circumnavigating without navigation aids. So in '83 he purchased the 36-ft Globe Star, and took off on May 17, 1984. He would have different crew for the various legs. The boat's course took her to Dakar, Cape Town, Australia, New Zealand, Cape Horn, the Falkland Islands, the Cape Verdes, Bermuda, and back to Cape May. Creamer was out for 18 months before he returned; 11.5 of them were spent at sea.

During his circumnavigation, Creamer gleaned much additional knowledge about navigating by nature alone. He discovered that he could depend entirely on the sun, moon and stars — if they were visible. After a lot of practice, he was just as aware of his longitude as was an 18th century mariner, so he had only to sail down a parallel of latitude for landfall. In overcast and stormy weather, he studied currents and wind patterns. But he also found that the composition and color of the sea, cloud formations, the horizon, drifting objects, and different types of birds or insects were valuable sources of information. Creamer obtained his latitudes by identifying a star with known declination that happened to transit directly overhead.

On one occasion, a squeaking hatch served as a navigational aid. Creamer had lost direction in a prolonged dead calm. With no visible stars or currents to guide him, he could do little more than sit and wait. When the wind finally began to blow, a crewmember moved the hatch cover, which made a loud squeaking noise. Deductive reasoning told Creamer that dry air coming off Antarctica had caused the squeak. Moist air would have lubricated the track. Following the direction of the dry air, Globe Star was able to get back on course. Creamer was 68 years old at the time of his feat.

Phillip Miller
Turnersville, New Jersey

Readers — We're not sure the unusual circumnavigation got much publicity 25 years ago, so we're pleased to be able to make sure all our readers here about it now. Find out more at Well done, Creamer!


We read with interest the April letter wondering why few boats show a black ball when anchored during the day. In all our cruising from England to the South Pacific, the only cruisers we've seen regularly hoist the black ball are a British couple. They did it because they knew of an incident, which I think happened in Bermuda, where a cruise ship lost steerage in the harbor and damaged several cruising boats. The insurance company refused to pay for the damages to the cruising boats that had not been showing a black ball. Sounds like the work of weasels, no?

The problem becomes how to know if you're in a designated anchorage, where such balls are not required. Are designated anchorages the ones with little anchor shapes on the charts? Or are they the ones referenced as such in the pilots?

We're also writing in response to your report on Scott and Cindy Stolnitz successfully careening their Marina del Rey-based Switch 51 Beach House near Bahia del Sol in El Salvador, and Latitude's request for others who have done it. We've intentionally careened our 'puddy tat' twice — once in Shallow Bay in New Zealand's Bay of Islands, and last year near Mele on Efate Island, Vanuatu. On our way to Efate, a large wave train from the stern knocked off a piece of wood for the engine cover under the bridgedeck, resulting in a leak. So we went to the village and asked permission to careen our boat. Permission was granted, so we brought her on the beach and made repairs.

We unintentionally found ourselves 'careened' when we spent the night in an anchorage in Panama's Perlas Islands when the tide went out — and it really does go out on the Pacific side of Panama. But no worries, by morning we were afloat again with plenty of water.

Careening is a useful trick when boatowners need to make quick repairs, especially where boatyards are scarce. Here in the South Pacific, the tidal ranges aren't that great so you have to pick your spots carefully. With our cat we have to be careful not to overstress our rudder posts, as they extend deeper than our hulls and could be damaged if too much weight were put upon them. So we look for a flat, shallow, sandy bottom on which to careen. Monohulls can also be careened, but it's not ideal unless they have twin keels or carry 'legs'. The ease of careening is one of the many advantages of cruising in a cat.

David and Susanne Ames
Cheshire, Spindrift 40
Olympia, Washington / Whangarei, New Zealand

Readers — While in La Paz last month, we met up with David and Sylvie Cherry Poole, England-based vintage Cantana 40 cat Puddy Tat. They reported that they'd just successfully careened their cat on the magote.


You asked for responses from people with experience careening their boats. We were sailing Seminole from Tauranga to Auckland 29 years ago when we were quickly overtaken by a nasty squall. We were running off quite broad when it slammed us but I managed to get the sails down. When I looked aft, though, I was stunned to see my boomkin wiggling up and down. When I checked over the side, the boomkin attachment point at the waterline was hanging by only one of the four bolts. We quickly rigged the genoa halyard aft to a solid point, and cranked it up tight. With the rig temporarily safe, we turned on the engine.

I went below into the stern and could see there was no water coming in where the bolts were, so we were safe there, too. Nonetheless, we decided to head into a deep bay that was a few miles farther north so we could find good holding ground to anchor and sort out the problem. With big tides, we were sure we could just slip in carefully, rest Seminole on her bottom, and let the tide go out. It was almost high water, so it seemed reasonable to do.

Since we'd never attempted to careen a boat before, it was a complete adventure. As the tide went out, we sat in the cockpit and waited. Within a few hours we were leaning to starboard more and more. The bay was dead flat calm, and as time went on Seminole gently laid on her side in the sandy mud. Before long, we were over the side and wading around in the mud inspecting the damage. The heads of three of the four silicon bronze bolts were ripped right off. Since I had built the boat, there were lots of spare bits and pieces in her lockers, and as soon as the pad broke the surface, we began the fix. After punching out the old bolts, we replaced them with some stainless ones with hex heads and washers, which didn't look as nice, but were much stronger than the carriage heads that had failed. A little 5200 made them watertight. By then we were fully lying on the bottom, with about two feet of water still around the boat. We shut all the hatches, ports, and vents and waded to the shore.

We took a walk along the bay shore and found a nice little home with two wonderful people living there. When they found out we'd careened our boat in their bay, they invited us in. We were served tea and scones with fresh blackberries. After a nice conversation we headed back to the beach near the boat. With very little effort we dug up fifty or sixty pipis, the fine little cherrystone clams they have in New Zealand. A trip to the nearby rocks also provided a number of fat mussels and oysters. A few bits of driftwood made a small fire, and when there were coals, we just threw in the mollusks and waited until they opened. We grabbed the steaming shells with two little sticks and ate the meat inside.

By early evening we could see the tide coming up. We waded back out to the boat, climbed aboard, and waited for the bay to rise to the occasion. Almost without a sound, we were slowly returned to upright, then floating. We hauled in the anchor and powered out of the bay to continue our trip north. No disaster. In fact, nothin' but fun.

Those were the days. Leaving New Zealand later in the year, we were wrecked on a tiny island. Seminole is now a fine home for fish some 70 feet down. But that's another much longer and more interesting story.

Barry Spanier
ex-Seminole, 38-ft double-ender


Greetings from our sailing venue, Klamath Lake, which is 250 miles up the Klamath River at 43° north. The Klamath YC is casting a wider net this year, inviting sailors to some of the best lake sailing/racing/cruising in the West. Folks might want to join us over the Fourth of July for our annual regatta. Or come a little earlier for a couple of long distance races, upwards of 50 miles. The longest one features an overnight stop at a spring-fed campsite for a raft-up or shore-based accommodation, perfect for a great party. The other is a nonstop race up the lake and back in what usually are terrific winds. For more details, folks can visit

Jim & Stephanie Carpenter
Staff Commodores, KYC
Windhorse, Catalina 27
Berkeley YC

Readers — Klamath Lake is 28 miles by 3 miles, and is located in southern Oregon, about 100 miles north of Redding. The club holds races from early April until the middle of August. Based on the photos in the club's website, there are some hot boats, such as Farrier trimarans and Express 27s. Lake sailors, check it out!


In response to Bill Nyden's question in the March issue of Latitude regarding the correct pronunciation of Vito Dumas' boat, I would inform him that the pronunciation is the same as 'leg', as in right or left leg. I spent almost a year in Argentina in the mid-'70s aboard Gaucho, my 56-ft ketch, which was built in Tigre, Argentina, to a Manuel Campos design. She was very similar to Dumas' Lehg II.

After purchasing Gaucho from Ernesto Uriburu, her original owner, in '65, we sailed her through the Caribbean to the Galapagos and then on to San Francisco. I rebuilt her here. In '72, we sailed Gaucho to Argentina via the Canal, Europe and the South Atlantic to Buenos Aires. My daughters Jody and Lauren, who were five and seven at the time of departure, did the trip with me. My wife and their mother had died in '69 before the start of the voyage.

While in Argentina, we witnessed the rebuilding of the famous Lehg. The shipwrights who did the restoration gave me the main frame of Lehg, which was signed by them. I still have it.

I enjoyed many wonderful conversations with Campos and was fortunate to be able to get to know him well. I was also able to somewhat understand the rather mysterious Vito Dumas.

Tony Badger
Kingfish, Fisher 37

Readers — For those who missed it, Dumas is famous for his singlehanded circumnavigation of the Southern Ocean from Buenos Aires aboard his 31-ft ketch Lehg II in '42, at the height of WWII. He was the first man to singlehand around all three great capes, including Cape Horn.


Latitude's February article about the Bristol 32 Sand Dollar brought back some memories for my husband and me, as we had tried to buy her when she was for sale in Alameda 10 or more years ago. We made an offer on her, but the then-owners changed their minds and took her off the market. She was a cream puff, so we were very disappointed.

The rest of this coincidental story is that we also had a stopover at Johnston Atoll. We were flying to Majuro, where the Stubers are now, to sail with friends who were at that time doing aquaculture in the Marshall Islands. Our flight made a scheduled stop at Johnston, but to our amazement — this was '89 — no one was allowed to leave the aircraft, and fully armed military personnel drove around the plane in Jeeps wearing gas masks! We're certainly happy to hear that the military have departed and the birds have returned.

We very much enjoyed reading Katie's story, and wish them smooth sailing on their beautiful Sand Dollar!

Alice Weston & Andy Kopetzky
Marina del Rey, California


Do I need a shrink, or is it these boats that are driving me crazy?

Our Islander Freeport 40 Harmony has served us well over the years, so it was not surprising that we had to do a little work on her. So here we sit in the work yard in San Carlos, Mexico. I call this place the Yard of Tears, for not only do you see grown men crying over their frozen engines and blown out whatevers, but it's also where we store our beloveds — or even bid them a last adieu. Usually the wives patiently wait while the captain screws down the hatch for the last time, sobbing and sobbing.

My boatyard neighbor and I are both Geminis, so I suppose it's not surprising that we each did the same thing. Unfortunately, the same thing is that we singlehandedly froze up the diesels on our boats. My neighbor did it by closing his cockpit drain and allowing rainwater to fill up and overflow into his engine. As for me, while repairing my exhaust system, I allowed water to enter into a cylinder through a leaking gasket. It's part of my freshwater cooling system. Funny, after all those miles on the ocean, I get water in my engine while I'm sitting in the middle of a desert! My neighbor and I were able to free our engines after taking them apart. He's opted for a new engine and transmission. I, on the other hand, have naturally decided to patch mine back together.

My wife Virginia says it all reminds her of the AARP magazine article she read about actor Dustin Hoffman. After all of his successes, he apparently stopped acting and went into a depression that lasted years. He explained that he'd been raised by parents who should never have had kids, as they were never satisfied with his successes. Similarly, even though I'd probably achieved the pinnacle of my cruising career by sailing to Ecuador and back, when I returned to our home base, I sabotaged the engine. See, I'm a failure after all. Or is it that I made sure I didn't have to face the Papagayo winds again? Maybe I hadn't really processed those 50-knot winds and violent seas. Our furious ride around Pt. Blanca, Costa Rica, also came to mind while I was working away on my beautiful damaged engine. We'd been so on the edge. Perhaps I'd had enough at that point, even though there were still more than 1,500 miles to go. So when we finally finished, I killed my loyal steed. Is that what I did?

The storage yard here has hundreds of boats sitting in various states of disrepair. Virginia calls it the Field of Dashed Dreams. Each boat — and they were all once beautiful — was somehow sabotaged, and has now been sitting here, often year after year, in the blazing and dry Sonoran desert sun, waiting to be brought back to life. Some will never be reborn.

But wait, wasn't it just a mistake? I love cruising! I don't want to stop cruising! Hey, wait a minute, a few parts and we'll be off again, away from the Yard of Tears and off to the idyllic anchorages and calm seas that I know are waiting for me.

Capt. Rob & Virginia Gleser
Harmony, Islander Freeport 40

Rob and Virginia — You know the famous and oh-so-accurate saying "Men and ships rot in port?" It seems to us that boats suffer even more when stored on land, as there is often a sense of near finality about it. We absolutely hate it when one of our boats is out of the water.


My name is Albert Alfred Eggert, I'm 56 years old, and I have been a sailor for most of my life. I started my most recent cruise in August of '05 aboard my Long Beach-based Bayfield 32 cutter Raven, heading south in search of peace and a warmer climate. As a result of taking on water, I had to stop at Bahia del Sol, El Salvador, to haul out. After I completed the repairs to my boat, I met a girl I liked a lot, and decided to stay around for awhile instead of following my original plan of continuing on to Costa Rica. I found the people of Bahia del Sol to be very friendly and mostly honest, and the cost of living was low enough to meet my budget.

My girlfriend's family is very poor, and both her parents are aging, so I used a little of my money to improve the place they live in. I had the floors done in cement, put in windows as there hadn't been any before, did some tile work, and had the place painted. It made their home much more liveable.

Everything was going fine until early in '08, when a man named Santos Torres entered the picture. He owns a boat repair yard and initially seemed like a pretty straight fellow. After a few months, however, things changed dramatically. He developed a belief that Americans are evil and that we didn't belong in El Salvador. I tried to distance myself from him, but he wouldn't allow it.

One day toward the end of last February, I came ashore in my dinghy to deliver some medicine to a very sick friend. As I pulled my dinghy up the beach, I was startled to see Santos, who started beating me with a stick. Had I not protected my head with my right arm, he probably would have killed me. As it was, my right arm was broken in two places. I managed to get my dinghy back in the water, and phoned the Los Blancos Police from the Bahia del Sol Hotel.

The police arrested Santos, and I received a notice to report to the court in La Herradura five days later. Santos showed up at the hearing with two attorneys while I was there with the District Attorney. The judge gave Santos provisional detention, which meant he had to report to the court every two weeks to prove that he was still around.

Three weeks after that, I was served with an arrest warrant accusing me of having sunk one of Santos' dinghies and doing $3,000 worth of damage to his property. The Los Blancos Police conducted an investigation, and concluded the accusations were false. Nonetheless, I spent five days in jail, because Santos had gone to a higher jurisdiction. Even though the Los Blancos Police knew I was innocent, they were still obligated to hold me until the warrant cleared the other jurisdiction!

Back in the same La Herradura court, the same judge who had heard the case against Santos, heard the case against me. He refused to make a ruling, and attached this new case to my broken arm case, which was to be heard at a later date. I smelled a rat. The judge had either been paid off by Santos or his family, or some other force had been brought to bear.

About four weeks later, while I was on my way to my girlfriend's house, Santos raced up alongside my slow moving dinghy. After stopping, he lifted his shirt to show me that he had a pistol. He said he was going to kill me real soon. When I reported the incident to the police, they didn't seem interested. I saw my attorney the next day and told him what happened. Within three hours a warrant was issued and Santos was arrested again. It was then that I learned why Santos had been apprehended so swiftly. When he was 15 years old, he'd apparently shot and killed a 17-year-old boy — while the boy was praying in church! Because he was a minor, he only spent two years in prison. But he was forbidden from ever owning or carrying a gun again.

The next time we showed up in court, a judge from the Supreme Court sat in place of the local judge. Having reviewed the case prior to the hearing, the judge sent Santos to jail. He felt the local judge had been unfair so he also moved the case to San Luis Talpa.

Things took a big turn for the worse for me on October 29 of '08, when Elisabeth Torres, the mother of Santos, and some of her friends, filed a complaint against me, saying I had come to her house two days before and made threats. Specifically, that if I didn't get $10,000 from them, I would have her son killed in prison, and have the mother harmed or killed as well. It was really hard for me to understand what was going on, as my Spanish is extremely limited. All of these charges, of course, were untrue.

Nonetheless, I received a notice to report to the court in La Herradura on December 17 for a hearing. The judge, the same one who had been removed from the previous case, ruled that I was guilty of extortion, and sentenced me to Mariona Penitentiary. I was informed by the American Embassy that it could take six months or more before I got another hearing.

Fortunately, I was able to get a hearing much sooner, or I'd still be rotting away in that ugly prison. On January 29, I was brought to the court in San Luis Talpa. After reviewing the case, the female judge said it looked as though I had fallen victim to the Torres family once again. She gave me house arrest until a later hearing on February 5, at which time I was freed, and it was as though the charges had never been filed.

As for Santos, he faces 14 to 17 years in prison for his crimes. In addition, the District Attorney's Office has now charged Dina Elisabeth Torres with false testimony, false imprisonment, and extorting monies from me in the sense I had to pay to defend myself against false charges. The same charges having been filed against her witnesses. It remains to be seen how much time, if any, they'll spend in prison.

My advice for all cruisers headed this way is to avoid the El Salvador legal system at all costs. My problems cost me $15,000 and 44 days in Mariona Penitentiary! I'm still here only because all the fluid I put in my Yanmar transmission ended up in the bilge, and I haven't been able to find the source of the leak. In addition, I discovered that I have a leak in my diesel tank, which was installed before the engine, and is therefore almost inaccessible. Nonetheless, I have an urgent need to leave El Salvador, as elections are coming up soon, and I believe that the FMLN, which is the Socialist Nazi party, will win hands down. I don't want to be in El Salvador when that happens.

Albert Alfred Eggert
Raven, Bayfield 32
Long Beach

Readers — Not being able to get another side of this story, we asked Eggert to give us the name of somebody who could vouch for his character, so to speak. Interestingly enough, he directed us to a gentleman in Ventura who said that he and Eggert have had a number of disagreements over the years — but that he nonetheless "understood" him. The man described Eggert as being a very bright and talented person, but someone who was angry with the government and didn't back down from minor disagreements in cases where most other people would. He believes Eggert's story, and has talked with Isabel, Eggert's lady friend, a number of times.

In the most recent update from Eggert, he reports that Santos Torres is now out on parole for medical reasons. While there apparently will be a trial at some point, Eggert senses things are going "somewhat sideways" and that it's hard for him to see that justice will ever be served. Saying that he's "quite tired of the whole issue," he reports he'll be "moving down the line with a positive attitude of shoot first and sort out the questions later." Oh dear!

As Eggert feared, the FMLN, which he described as the Socialist Nazi party, won the election in March. Ironically, the new president is Mauricio Funes, a former television journalist with high credentials. He took over the FMLN leadership in '07, becoming the only party official who had not been part of the guerilla movement during the horrible civil war from 1980 to 1992. While the rest of the FMLN seems bent on following the dictatorial socialist path of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Funes seems the least radical of all. So who knows what's going to happen?

Two fun facts about El Salvador: One quarter of all Salvadorians live in the United States, and nearly 18% of El Salvador's GDP comes from remittances from the United States.


Thanks for publishing the item about the French thieves who were caught after stealing the dinghy in St. Barthélemy, French West Indies. I only have one question, and that's about the editing. Where did the relatively new spelling and apparent pronunciation of the nickname 'St. Barth' originate? Is it a cruiser thing?

Having lived in the Caribbean — St. Croix — for over 25 years, and having first sailed there from San Francisco in '68, St. Barthélemy is now and always has been referred to as 'St. Barts' — Bart being the nickname for Bartholomew, the anglicization of Barthélemy. Just as the nickname for Christopher is Kitt, which is why the island of St. Christopher is called 'St. Kitts'.

St. Barthélemy has always been referred to as 'St. Barts'. Even the name of the one of the island's official websites is called St. Barts Island Online and the first line of the text on the site states, "On the island of St. Barts . . . ." Although I see 'St. Barth' written in stateside mags and even interspersed in Caribbean pieces, English-speaking West Indians and resident continentals call it 'St. Barts', and I don't think it will ever change no matter how many times it is published otherwise. You changed St. Barts to St. Barth in my letter, and I admit puzzlement. My friends in the Caribbean won't understand what came over me to refer to St. Barts as St. Barth. It would be as if I pronounced Antigua, "An-tee-gwa" — it just ain't done.

Joe Russell
On Assignment in the Caribbean

Joe — We're sorry to have to disagree with you, but it certainly "is done." English-speaking visitors do use the nickname St. Barts. Indeed, when Jimmy Buffett sings Autour de Rocher, about the little disco/hotel he used to co-own on the island, he refers to "the old St. Barts." But it is a French island, and the French nickname has always been St. Barth, so that's what we use. Indeed, after just a little time on the island you'd no more refer to it as St. Barts than you would pronounce the 'Jean' in Baie St. Jean as 'Gene' rather than 'John'. For further evidence, we include the poster from Loulous's '91 St. Barth Singlehanded Race and Gaffer's Day. If Loulou doesn't know what to call the island, nobody does. We also note that the airline is St. Barth Commuter, that the 30-year iconic T-shirt by Katy reads "St. Barth, French West Indies," that it's the St. Barth Yacht Club, and that the big regatta for boats over 100 feet is the St. Barth's Regatta. The truth is that nobody really cares if you call it St. Barts or St. Barth, but if you're on the island and use the former, locals are likely to assume you just stepped off a cruise ship.


On March 25 we received the following email from friends aboard Amoenitas at the Royal Phuket Marina in Thailand:

"It is in a state of grief and disbelief that we write this account of the recent tragic event which culminated in the murder Brit Malcolm Robertson, 64, on his 44-ft sloop Mr. Bean, and to alert cruising friends and others sailing in these waters of the possible dangers. Some of you may have read media reports, but what follows is a succinct version of Linda Robertson's own story:

On March 24, the couples' Mr. Bean was lying to a buoy off the southeast side of Koh Adang Island in the Butang Group, which is 20 miles northwest of Telaga, Langkawai, Malaysia. Shortly after midnight, three teenage illegal immigrants from Myanmar swam over to the Robertons' boat and climbed aboard. They attacked Malc, incapacitating him. Then they attacked Linda in the aft cabin, and she was eventually trussed with a rope. Malc subsequently came round and challenged the attackers, telling them to get off his boat. Linda heard a scream, then nothing.

The attackers eventually got Linda to show them how to start the engine. As she went through the salon, she realized that the sticky substance beneath her feet was a large quantity of thick blood. She was returned to the forepeak and tied up. The attackers, then in control of the boat, stormed off at full throttle for around nine hours before anchoring in a bay on a small island about one mile off the Thai mainland at Langu. There they trashed Mr. Bean before leaving at around 10 a.m. in the boat's dinghy, which was powered by a highly unreliable 2-hp outboard. Linda managed to raise Mr. Bean's anchor and motor away before the attackers could paddle back to the boat.

Linda drove the boat to a nearby fishing fleet to get help. When the Taratoa Park Rangers and police arrived, they took off after the attackers, and quickly arrested them. Linda was taken to a hospital, obviously terribly distraught and bruised from blows from a hammer and her bindings. We think Malc's body was thrown overboard within an hour of the boat's setting off, and at this time, it hasn't been found. The hammer and knife used in the attack were both from Mr. Bean.

We believe that this was probably a one-off special situation and not the norm, as the three Myanmar culprits had escaped from a Thai fishing boat where they had apparently been treated as slaves. After they were captured, they claimed they had only raided the boat to get food. How things could have gone so wrong is unclear. The youngest of the three attackers is just 15.

Many cruisers in the Caribbean lock themselves in their boats at night when at remote anchorages. Maybe that should be considered for this part of the world, too.

Words cannot describe the exceptional support that Linda has received from the British Embassy, the Royal Thai Police, the hospital and the Tourist Authority. There have been countless expressions of kindness from every quarter.

We became involved when Linda told the embassy staff of Dave and Di on Amoenitas in Phuket. The local Honorary Consul traced us to the hardstand at the Royal Phuket, where we are having our teak decks replaced. We immediately took off in a car on a seven-hour drive to be with Linda before her four children arrived.

Ours is a very brief description of a long and harrowing experience, during which Linda spent an entire evening pleading for her life. There is much, much more to tell, but not in this format.

This was signed by Dave and Di of Amoenitas.

Ian & Sue
Icy Red
Planet Earth

Readers — John Clee, Linda Robertson's brother, described the killing of Malcolm Robertson as a "stupid, pathetic thing." If you read our updated and more detailed account of the robbery and murder in this month's Changes, you'll understand how utterly incomprehensible and banal it all was. But do read it, because this is a stranger and more complicated tale than was indicated by initial reports.


Just a note about Sea Runner and Nelly Bly, two boats that have been referred to in recent letters. There were two Sea Runners. The first was a varnished hull about 46 feet long and owned by Bill Bacon and his wife. They spent most of their time in and around Monterey, but would come up to Alameda for haul-outs. I remember that one time they removed the boat's engine with a crane in order to clean under it. You have to do that from time to time with wood boats. Sea Runner was beautifully maintained. We called her 'little' Sea Runner.

Around the same time, George and Judy Knab had their Sea Runner, which was referred to in the April Letters. A 52-ft gaff schooner, she was kept in Alameda Marina. I got to know the Knabs because they had previously owned Cumulis, which was my boat at the time. George and Judy split around the time Sea Runner was sold to Bob Wilson.

Wilson sailed Sea Runner to Maui, where he opened up a sail loft on Front St. in Lahaina. Sea Runner became a fixture there and did a lot of charter work. I remember seeing a grand piano on her deck one time. She was eventually sold to a guy who sold recycled car parts in San Diego.

When I returned from my third trip to Hawaii in December of '79, a strong Kona was expected at Lahaina, so everyone with a boat in the roadstead headed into Lahaina's little harbor. Sea Runner was already inside, snugly tied to a rock wall. We got Toloa, our modified Tahiti ketch, anchored with lines ashore, and Nelly Bly soon arrived to do the same next to us. At the time, Nelly Bly was owned by Nancy Griffith, who ran a sailing school out of Kona on the Big Island. I'm sure this was the same Nelly Bly also referred to in April's Letters. Kona winds blew over Christmas, then again in January, wrecking a total of some 40 boats that had been unable to enter the harbor because of breaking waves in the channel. I lost track of Nancy and Nelly Bly after leaving Honolulu in '83, but at the time she was still teaching people to sail.

On the subject of health care, I just had a heart bypass operation in Townsville, Queensland, at no cost. Two years prior to that, I had a double hernia operation at no cost. Had I been in the States, I would have had to sell my boat just for the hernia operation and probably would not have gotten the bypass.

Thanks for the great rag for all these years!

Jim Plowman
Bowen, Queensland, Australia

Readers — For the record, Plowman, originally from Alameda, finished an 18-year circumnavigation with Toloa back in '93. He says it took him that amount of time because he didn't have much money and therefore had to work along the way. While in Australia, he met his wife Anne. The two now live in Australia.

The couple returned to Alameda in '95 to buy Highroler, a 46-ft Peterson Two-Tonner that had been started by Carl Eichenlaub in San Diego for the Italians who owned the Barbarossa Winch Company. When they flaked out, William Power of Newport Beach became the owner, with Dennis Conner often driving in races. In Mexico, Plowman added a cruising interior to the boat, which made her less tender. Her tenderness had been Conner's only complaint about the boat. Jim and Anne then spent three years sailing her across the Pacific, arriving in Australia in '99.

"We've owned the boat for 14 years now," says Plowman, "and sailed around the Whitsundays and up and down the East Coast of Australia, as well as club racing her. Her draft has sometimes been a problem, but other than that we have no complaints. It was quite a change going from a Tahiti ketch to a 46-ft racing boat, but it made us believers in fast being fun."

When we quizzed Plowman about the Australian health care system, he had this to say: "Health care is financed out of a general fund created from taxes collected by both the Commonwealth and states. The money is paid to states, which administer the public health systems. The previous Liberal Government — read Conservative — of John Howard promoted a private system with its own insurance, but it hasn't worked well as insurance costs have gone way up. The state-run system has been gradually deteriorating with longer waiting times for elective surgery and almost no dental care. Australia isn't producing many doctors, so most now come from outside the country. Still, the quality of care is excellent with a few exceptions. Regional hospitals are government-run and -owned, with small private hospitals and clinics run by various religions and private companies in larger towns. But we do pay higher taxes for the health care."

In addition to income tax rates that top out at 42%, Aussies pay a 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST) on all transactions. Ouch!


After years of enjoying the bohemian nature of Latitude, what a crashing disappointment to be treated to your true views on the health care debate. Because if it's not a right, it's a privilege — and the health hand you're dealt when you're born may not be 'profitable', no matter who's running the health care system! You've enjoyed socialized police and fire service for decades, and health care should be considered such a service — without the profit motive that inevitably leads to the corruption you cite.

Sigh. I guess it was too good to be true that someone who can afford to cruise the world on a 70-footer with crew and family holds any different values than publishers of the slick, high-end yacht mags crowding the shelves.

M. Lee Fowler
Pacific Northwest

M. Lee — If you want to effectively disagree with somebody, stick to the point, avoid character slagging, and get your facts straight. Profligate, one of the biggest 'bang for the buck' boats on the planet, is 63 feet, not 70 feet. She was built as a spartan daycharter cat that can sleep 14 in order to do editorial work and support events such as the Ha-Ha and numerous fundraisers in Mexico and the United States. As any one of the thousands who have sailed on her can tell you, except for her size, she's the antithesis of luxury. We don't do luxury. For example, between them, the Grand Poobah and Doña de Mallorca own three cars that average more than 18 years of age and well over 100,000 miles. The average age of a Latitude vehicle is 13 years and has 210,000 miles. To each their own, but we can't imagine wasting money on cars when you could spend it on sailing adventures. We don't do paid crew. We don't cruise the world with Profligate, either, but we're going to. And when we do, you can bet we're going to do it parsimoniously.

Since you don't have a clue about us, we'll try to fill you in on some of the core things we believe in: Personal responsibility, same as when we started the magazine in 1977 with $2,000. Sailing and other adventures, as opposed to objects or luxury. Hard work. Thrift — meaning never paying more than $50 for a watch or $20 for a bottle of wine, and that a long slab of Formica stretched atop two $29 file cabinets makes a better desk for us than any 'store bought one' ever could. We believe in Costco, diesel vehicles that get 55 mpg and buying things because they have value rather than a brand name. We believe in simple boats, living on the hook and gybing the chute as often as possible. We believe that you can cruise comfortably in Mexico, the Caribbean and many other places on a Social Security check. We also believe in compassion for those who were truly dealt a crap hand in life, and that if such programs were managed honestly and efficiently, there would be plenty of money to go around. In order to throttle massive, pervasive government fraud, we believe that elected representatives, public officials — and maybe even public employees — should, in questions regarding their government service, be considered guilty until proven innocent. And that we'd need to build more prisons to hold all the guilty. We believe that the California budget is a smoke and mirrors sham, and that this state, which is the equivalent of the sixth or seventh largest industrial nation in the world, is completely bankrupt from gross mismanagement on the part of representatives who don't have the skill or balls to set it straight. We believe that too few people understand that only private business, not government, creates wealth, so whenever possible, things should be done by private enterprise. We believe that it shouldn't be against the law for government stimulus package projects to pay twice as many workers a fair wage so they can have jobs and keep their homes as opposed to half as many workers getting paid aristocratic wages and benefits — such as is required by current legislation. We also believe in trying to live in four different places for three months a year, very warm weather and water, lots of ice in drinks, airline miles, a swift death penalty for Mr. Madoff, and going long on energy, commodities and emerging markets.

That said, we want to apologize for our flippant remark that single payer health care should mean each person should pay for their own health care. That doesn't accurately represent our feelings about there being a moral obligation to provide a safety net to those who truly need it. Alas, the flippancy of our remark was brought on by having just read yet another example of government fraud, waste and incompetence. In this case, it was a mainstream media report that we taxpayers are shelling out prisoner of war benefits to four times the number of people who were actually prisoners of war — including a single individual who defrauded the system of $400,000. Yet nobody knows why. When you spend your life trying to be thrifty and efficient, it's difficult to accept a government that isn't the least disturbed by fraud and wastes money like drunken college sophomores who've just received their first credit cards. We grouse not on our own behalf, but for those who don't have their snouts in the public trough and for future generations who are going to have to pick up the tab.

Realizing that the best thing we can do for everyone's health is stick to sailing, and that many people we respect, including our brother, disagree with us, we're closing this subject.


Do you or any of your readers know of free or inexpensive liveaboard anchoring sites/mooring in Southern California?

Phileta Riley
Bandon, OR

Phileta — If you're looking for a safe and convenient year 'round place to liveaboard for free in Southern California, you're not going to find it. And if you could, there would be countless other people fighting for the same spot.

If, however, you're truly a transient vessel or can be mobile, there are some options. For example, if you don't live in San Diego County and your boat isn't registered in San Diego County, you can get a permit — once your boat has been inspected — to anchor for free up to three months a year at the A-8 anchorage in San Diego. We salute San Diego for offering this option to transients.

When it comes to moorings, the best deal on the coast has always been Newport Beach, where you can — after giving the Orange County Sheriff a look-see at your boat — get a mooring for $5/night. The maximum stay is 15 days, after which you have to leave for 15 days before coming back. You do, however, have to pay every five days. After October and before May 1, Newport Beach allows you to stay for 60 days, but you still have to pay every five days.

What used to be a 72-hour, no check-in anchorage to the east of Lido Isle is now a five-day, no check-in anchorage. But your presence will be noted, someone is supposed to be on the boat almost all the time, and it often gets crowded. It used to be that sailors living on the cheap would spend 72 hours in that anchorage, then head out around the breakwater to Corona del Mar, and anchor there until they could come back in for another 72 hours off Lido Isle. A new Newport Beach ordinance — thanks to boats hitting each other, hitting the rocks, and washing ashore — curtails the practice of alternating between the two anchorages. If you anchor your boat off Corona del Mar, somebody now has to be on the boat from dusk to dawn, and the boat can't be left except for one trip ashore per day. In addition, no boats will be allowed in that anchorage during small craft advisories. The net result is that there is no longer a group of motley-looking boats bouncing around on the hook out there. Lastly, Newport Beach has enacted an ordinance that says you can't anchor within 500 yards of designated swim areas for more than 72 hours within a 30-day period, making it virtually impossible to bounce back and forth between an outside-the-harbor anchorage and an inside-the-harbor anchorage. Nonetheless, between May 1 and the end of October, you can have two weeks on a mooring for a pittance, then five days in the anchorage off Lido Isle for free. We salute Newport Beach for being so welcoming to transient vessels.

It's also possible now to anchor inside the breakwater at Dana Point and at Redondo Beach for free, but only for several days at a time.

Another popular option during the summer is anchoring off Santa Barbara. Most boats do it to the east of the harbor, but you can legally do it to the west of the harbor, too. There are limitations on anchoring in the winter for the simple reason that Santa Barbara residents got tired of having to pay bundles to have wrecked boats pulled off their beaches following winter storms. If you have a monohull, it can get pretty rolly, and it's often a long and cool dinghy ride to shore. In other words, it's doable, but not ideal.

The final option is Catalina and the other Channel Islands. You need permits to go ashore at all the Channel Islands except Catalina, and other than Catalina, none of them have supplies, services or all-weather anchorages. There are people who live aboard for free all year at Catalina, but it's not an easy life in the winter. Because of a State Lands Commission law, you technically can't anchor in the same cove for more than two weeks at a time. You can 'cove hop', but that's going to be the least of your problems during the winter, when it can be cold, rough and lonely.

The bottom line is that it's not only possible, but lots of fun to liveaboard for free in Southern California during the summer and fall. You will have to move around, unless you want to cove hop at Catalina all summer, but it's still great fun. We know, because that's pretty much what we've being doing with Profligate for the last several summers. Thanks to the data cards from the likes of AT&T, you can enjoy high speed internet on your boat anywhere there is cell phone coverage, which is all of the coast and in several free anchorages at Catalina. People with televisions aboard tell us they can even get network broadcast TV coverage for free at Catalina and many places along the coast at no charge.

The don't-want-to-pay-much-for-berthing sailor only has one real option for doing it the entire year in Southern California, and it requires mobility. The first is to start the winter with 60 days on a low-cost mooring in Newport Beach, then go to San Diego for a three-month non-resident stay, then back up to Newport for another 60 days. That takes care of seven months of winter. But remember, what's fun in the warmth of summer and what you do for pleasure can be not much fun at all in the cold and wet of winter. In other words, if you're thinking about doing this to have low-income housing, you're going to hate it. A slightly different — but much more viable option — is moving around Southern California for the summer, living aboard almost for free, as outlined above, then heading to Mexico for the winter, where it's warm, free anchorages abound, and the cost of living is very low.


I looked into the Pfizer Pharmaceuticals/Southern Spars joint marketing effort that you guys mentioned recently in 'Lectronic Latitude, including a quote from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In fact, I checked with a friend who works in marketing at Pfizer and she concluded, "I did a little research and I believe the story was an April Fools joke."

Max Dale
San Francisco

Max — When 'Lectronic Latitude items appearing on April 1 are signed April Fülz, you've got to be suspicious. We hope we didn't take the Mickey out of you.


Postponing the start of the Duxbury-Lightship Race on April 4 was an unprecedented mistake. Admittedly, there was little wind at the start, but once started, the building ebb current was ideal. It would've swept boats out the Gate so they would be well along the course when the wind filled in.

Never before has a race committee arbitrarily abandoned an ocean race for too little wind. If the current is stronger than the wind and boats are being swept across the start line, prepared racers will use their anchors. If NOAA Buoy 26 is reporting only four knots, so be it — it'll change. Approximately 30 boats, with about 200 crew, chose to go racing that Saturday rather than do yard work or wash the car. They prepared their boats for what weather forecasts predicted to be a slow race. Why did a race committee of three or four people deny this group of 200 the opportunity to race?

The lack of wind should not have been a safety issue, because the wind often dies somewhere on the race course and the time limit for completing the race was 10 a.m. on Sunday morning. Race committees should start races and let each competing skipper decide if he/she wants to continue. I hope the Duxship wasn't abandoned because the race committee didn't want to wait around for late finishers.

For a one-design national or world championship, there may be requirements for minimum wind strength, square lines, an upwind weather mark, and abandonment if the wind shifts more than a certain number of degrees. Ocean racers are a different breed of sailor. We know that conditions will change, and we try to anticipate what will happen next. Sailflow predicted a very light NE wind at the 10 a.m. start switching to a moderate west to northwest wind in the early afternoon. I was looking forward to the challenge of how to use the building ebb current to bridge the transition zone between the changing winds.

My first ocean race was in '66, when I did the MORA circuit with my Islander Bahama. During the intervening 43 years, every two or three years there has been little or no wind and a significant ebb current for the start of an ocean race. The race committee has always had the wisdom to start the race. Some racers would be swept over the start line, others dropped out, but lack of wind never prevented a fair sailboat race. Those who have trouble learn from the experience, like realizing that their anchor is an important piece of racing gear.

One of my most memorable ocean races occurred in wind and current conditions that were very similar to those on April 4. It was the '98 Lightship, and it would be my first race with my Antrim 27 Always Friday. After the start, the ebb pushed us toward the Golden Gate, but we could not get north far enough to clear the South Tower. We circled back in the counter flow along the Cityfront shore to about Anita Rock. With slightly more wind, we went back out into the ebb for a second pass, and managed to leave the South Tower to the south. More than an hour behind our fleet, we were finally riding the ebb toward the Lightship. Maybe two hours later, we were near shipping channel marker #3, still with good current and almost no wind. I mentioned to navigator Kame Richards that no boats were returning from the Lightship. We joked that they were all waiting for us. I still remember Kame’s maniacal laughter when we realized that the fleet, except for a few that had anchored, had been swept past the Lightbucket by the current. To make a long story short, the wind started to fill as we approached the Lightship, and we had a fun ride back in. After our horrendous start, we were the fourth boat to finish scratch, corrected ahead of all boats big and small, and easily won in the MORA division. That was a great baptism for my new boat in ocean races. How many similar stories will not be told this year because of the abandonment of the Duxship race by the race committee?

John Liebenberg
Always Friday, Antrim 27
Richmond YC

John — We spoke with PRO Charles Hodgkins about the race committee's decision — later endorsed by the YRA's Pat Broderick — to cancel the race after the initial postponement.

"One hour into the postponement, we called NOAA in Monterey to get up-to-the-minute buoy readings," Hodgkins said. "They told us there was no more than four knots out there, with little prospect of any breeze until much later in the day. Given that the fleet would be sailing into a huge flood later on, the complete consensus among the committee was to call it," he said. "I've gotten a lot of grief from people, and they've had valid points. I made what I felt was the best decision based on the information I had at the time."



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