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August 2009

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NO TWINKIE DEFENSE HERE

I’ve been reading about the problem of unattended boats being anchored for long periods of time at Clipper Cove, and the problems they cause. I haven’t read about any solutions, but I have one — based on my experience.

While anchored in a rather remote cove on the Bay, I was boarded by the Coast Guard for not having an anchor light. It’s true, the cove was not a Special Anchorage, so I was required to show a light. It’s also true that I hadn’t displayed the required anchor ball during the day. Anyway, the Coast Guard searched my boat and I turned on my anchor light.

Little did I know that 13 months later I would receive a 13-page citation from Homeland Security. It started with saying that I was going to be fined $6,500. It eventually was reduced to a $100 fine and a warning. Yes, I know I had been wrong, and yes, I now always display either the ball or light as appropriate.

Clipper Cove is not classed as a Special Anchorage, which means that the anchoring balls are required during the day and anchor lights are required at night. Why isn’t the Coast Guard doing its job enforcing the law there?

Hugo Landecker
Alexander, Westsail 32
San Rafael

Hugo — It’s been our experience that there is a separate and unequal application of the laws on the waters of San Francisco Bay. If you’ve got a decent boat capable of navigation, all the laws apply to you. But if you’ve got a derelict that couldn’t pass any navigation or environmental inspections, you're a sacred cow. We’ve seen the Marin County Sheriff and Coast Guard repeatedly engage in this kind of discrimination. We’ve asked both agencies to explain this odd behavior, but have got nothing but shuck and jive for our efforts. Of course, what is more American these days than rewarding bad behavior and punishing good behavior?

As for Homeland Security, we’re naturally sympathetic to the concept, but honestly, what a farce! If anyone thinks Homeland Security can keep terrorists with backpack nukes out of the U.S., they’ve never cleared a boat back into the States from Mexico. Despite all the money thrown at the notion of border security, the border is as porous as Swiss cheese.

We've often said that if taxpayers ever really knew how wildly the government wasted their money, there would be a revolution tomorrow instead of five to 10 years from now. That Homeland Security took over a year to write a 13-page citation threatening you with a $6,500 fine for your minor violation is just another perfect example of why such a revolution of the common man seems inevitable to us.

As for you, Hugo, we want to salute you for what is fast becoming the rarest of people in this country — somebody who admits that they did something wrong. You didn't blame it on society, a poor upbringing, drugs, alcohol or having eaten too many Twinkies. How refreshing.

CLIPPER COVE SHOULD NOT BE LIMITED TO A DAY

This afternoon I picked up the July Latitude at Svendsens, and was interested to see several letters regarding anchoring permits for Clipper Cove. In the response to one letter, the Latitude editor suggested the following plan: No permits would be required Friday through Monday and online permits would be required Tuesday through Thursday. You later wrote “We’re in favor of limited permitting as outlined above. Ms. Saez is considering it — along with other proposals.”

"Considering it?" Oh really. The July Latitude went to press in late June, but on May 5, San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly brought a proposal to the Board that would limit unpermitted stays to 24 hours. And the Board passed it. I wonder why Mirian didn’t mention this fait accompli to Latitude.

In response to your June article about Clipper Cove, I wrote Ms. Saez suggesting unpermitted stays of up to one week, but never received any response. The boating community needs to exert pressure on San Francisco to allow unpermitted stays of a longer duration, but I'm not sure of the best way to try to get that done.

Martin Thomas
Kokopelli, Sabre 34
Alameda

Martin — According to Director of Island Operations Mirian Saez, Supervisor Daly entered the policy — to limit unpermitted stays — for consideration but she says no time limit was specified and the details of the plan were not discussed. Keep in mind that TIDA proposed requiring permits for Clipper Cove to force out squatters, not to inconvenience the boating community. "This policy is meant to be helpful," Saez insists. "If it turns out to not be helpful, we'll change it as necessary."

Cynics may scoff and say we're naïve to believe a government official, but having personally met and spoken at length with Saez, we can confirm her passion for making Treasure Island — including Clipper Cove — a welcoming place for everyone to visit, not just a few cheapskates who don't want to pay slip fees. To that end, she's still encouraging Bay Area boaters to contact her at mirian.saez@sfgov.org with their suggestions for exactly how the permit process should work. "We'll be taking the comments before the Board of Supervisors sometime in September," she said, "and they'll help us put together the guidelines." And don't get your knickers in a twist if you don't hear back; she says no one has. "There were far too many to respond to each personally. But keep 'em coming!"

JUST ANOTHER BAND OF PIRATES

I'm curious to know under what legal authority the Treasure Island Development Authority has gained jurisdiction over Clipper Cove. Has the land/water officially been taken over by the City of San Francisco? And if so, is San Francisco now responsible for its clean up?

If you'll remember, last year my anchor line was cut by someone, which sent my vessel adrift. She was later taken in by the Coast Guard. Even after having been a victim of the unsavory sorts that frequented the cove, I'm strongly against yet another anchorage's being taken over by an even more insidious band of pirates.

At least Angel Island — due to the complete mismanagement of tax dollars and utter ineptitude of government — will soon fall. I'll personally accept that in trade.

Capt. Pugnacious
Your Vessel if You're Not Careful

Capt. Pug — TIDA has jurisdiction because the Navy designated the organization as official caretaker of the property until the transfer to the City of San Francisco is complete. "We hope that will happen within 12-15 months," Saez noted.

In heavily populated areas, such as most of coastal California, we think it's necessary for anchorages to be managed by some kind of authority. Where that's not the case, the anchorages tend to be expropriated by the few — often a lawless few — at the expense of everyone else. Hopefully, Clipper Cove will be lightly managed by a small and efficient government agency or private company for the maximum enjoyment of all.

ANDERTON COULD STILL HAVE A CLAIM

I hope you'll forward the following information to John Anderton, as it may help him recoup some of his loss as a result of his Cabo Rico 38 Sanderling's being rammed by an unlit steel motor vessel off Eleuthera. I'd like to see him continue cruising, and I hope to meet him in an anchorage some day.

It seems that insurance companies — there are some exceptions — often assert reasons to deny a claim even if the grounds for the denial might not hold water legally. Anderton apparently assumed that his insurer would deny his claim because his boat was not being "properly crewed" due to the fact that he was singlehanding. However, he was awake and on deck, and he says he waved a flashlight at the oncoming 'destroyer' to alert its crew to his presence. Therefore, the lack of other people on board did not contribute to the cause of the collision. It appears that Anderton did a great job of controlling the damage.

In jurisdictions with which I'm familiar, the lack of a connection between the exclusion or asserted reason for the denial and the cause of the loss often negates the application of the exclusion or asserted basis for the denial. If Anderton's insurer denies his claim, I hope he challenges the denial. The insurer, of course, just hopes that he'll get discouraged and forget it.

If, in fact, the law is favorable to his claim and the insurer stonewalls him and refuses to listen to reason, then he may have a bad faith claim against the insurer. Bad faith claims are how we motivate insurers not to try to cheat us.

Ed LaBarre
Currently Tucson, soon to be Sausalito

Ed — A lot would depend, of course, on where John's insurance company is based. There are lots of not-very-consumer-friendly insurance companies and countries in the Caribbean. Nonetheless, we think you offer excellent advice — if the cause of a loss has nothing to do with a particular exclusion, a boatowner should not simply assume that the claim can be denied.

ROCKIN' & ROLLIN' IN THE ESTUARY

I have 30 years of sailing experience, but I'm new to the Oakland Estuary. I'd like to know something about allowable tug speeds and if the tugs are responsible for their wakes.

At 3:45 p.m. on June 19, the tug Z3 came into the Estuary from the northwest. I estimate that it was travelling between 12 and 14 knots, which created a substantial wake for us and our Columbia 28 to deal with.

The next morning we were sailing out the Estuary when I spotted a wall of white water that spanned the width of the Estuary inside of Buoy 8. The cause of it was the tug Z3, which I estimate to have been doing 15 to 19 knots. I started my Atomic 4 engine so we could take what I guessed to be a wave of six feet at a 45° angle, and braced for the E-ticket ride over it. Even though we were 20 yards from a docked container ship, I feared that the tug's wake would pin us against it. As it turned out, the captain of the Z3 never slowed and the bow of my boat pitched 45° in the air.

After we made it over, I could hear the wake from the other side of the tug hitting the concrete seawall on the other side of the Estuary. It sounded like an endless series of shotgun blasts. We also watched an F-31 trimaran come clean out of the water going over the tug's wake, and were very concerned for an older woman who was kayaking.

What's the rule?

Chuck Kruskamp
Harvest, Columbia 28
Marina Village

Chuck — It's not as clear cut as you might hope, but creating an excessive wake for the conditions — i.e. when there are small boats in the area — could be considered the negligent operation of a vessel under the Inland Rules of the Road. For example, in June of '05, a guy and his cousin were fishing in a 14-ft boat on the Cumberland River when a tug towing a barge full of coal passed by. The fishing boat was swamped and one man drowned. The wife of the dead man sued the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and a district court awarded her $3.3 million. The award was knocked down to $420,000 in the Sixth Circuit Court for technical reasons.

Fearing such lawsuits, most captains and tug companies try to be careful. A number of years ago there were several complaints about the way one captain drove his tug on the Estuary. The guy would flip the bird to anyone who complained about his wake. When the owner of the tug company found out, he apologized profusely in person and in print, and promised to discipline the captain.

As you may know, all ship movements in and around San Francisco Bay are closely tracked by Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) and AIS. No tug or other sizeable vessel can make a move without its identity, speed, heading and other information being broadcast to VTS and other mariners. So if you've got a serious problem with a tug wake, immediately get on the radio with the Coast Guard, which can contact VTS to see how fast the tug is going and if the wake is likely to be dangerous.

On the other hand, it's the responsibility of all who go out on the water to handle themselves and their boats with a reasonable amount of skill. We used to sail small boats in and out of the Estuary, and quickly learned how to handle even the biggest wakes. In fact, we secretly craved the biggest wakes, as they were best for little surfs when we were sailing home in the prevailing following winds.

WE'RE A LAUGHING STOCK

I'm writing with regard to John and Gilly Foy's Kong anchor swivel breaking, as reported in the May issue. I'm glad the Foys didn't lose their boat, but I think the failure of the Kong was due to an installation error rather than a defect in the swivel itself. I hope that my letter can help other sailors avoid a similar experience.

The reason I'm saying it was an installation error is that the most highly stressed part of an anchor swivel is the pin between the two halves of the swivel. That pin will generally be designed to take a straight line pull. But if the swivel is connected directly to the anchor, as the Foy's was, and the wind then shifts or for some other reason the direction of pull changes, unless the anchor rolls and resets, the swivel pin will be subjected to a bending load that could easily cause it to snap. This is because the swivel can only hinge in a vertical plane when it is attached directly to the anchor.

The correct way to set up an anchor swivel is to put a bow shackle on the anchor and then connect the swivel to the shackle. The shackle acts like a toggle to allow the swivel to orient itself in any direction so that the swivel pin is always subjected to a straight line pull.

If you don't think that the anchor attachment would be subjected to major side loads, then take a look at my second photo. This anchor came back from a boat that was anchored at Drake's Bay a couple of months ago. If the side loading on this anchor was big enough to bend its shank like that, think what it would have done to a little swivel pin that had only a small fraction of the cross sectional area of the anchor shank. This can happen to any anchor, but lightweight fluke type anchors like the one in the photo are especially prone to digging in and not moving when the direction of pull changes.

Setting up one's ground tackle correctly is some of the cheapest insurance that a cruiser can buy. When you think of what's at stake, it's silly to skimp to save a few bucks on a shackle. This is one place where the 'weakest link' isn't just a metaphor, it's literal.

P.S. I just came back from the Summer Sailstice event on Treasure Island. Latitude's John Arndt did a terrific job of organizing this event, and I think that he deserves big kudos for all that he is doing for the sailing community!

Jim Hancock
School Director & General Manager, Club Nautique Alameda
Marine Engineer / USCG 50 Ton Master
US SAILING Instructor & Instructor Trainer

Jim — We understand what you're saying, but for a couple of reasons we don't completely agree with you. If you need to put a bow shackle between the anchor and the swivel for a "correct installation," why waste your money on the swivel? Looking at the first photo with your letter, it's a very nice set up, but what exactly does the swivel — which readers should know isn't a Kong brand — bring to the party? In addition, some other brand swivels — such as the Ultra Swivel by Quickline — can rotate up to 30 degrees in all directions, thus all but eliminating the sideways bending loads that put exceptional stress on the Kong design. Finally, the Kong swivel has more parts than other brands — such as the one in your photo. The more parts, the more complications, and the more opportunities for failure.

Furthermore, if the Kong design and manufacture means the swivel is weakened by side loads and therefore needs a swivel, don't you think it's Kong's responsibility to make that point very clear to potential customers?

If somebody was going to day anchor in fair weather at Clipper Cove or in the middle of Newport Harbor, and always have their eye on the boat, we think the Kong swivel — if needed at all — might be a reasonable budget purchase. But for any kind of moderate to heavy use, and certainly for anchoring overnight or when the boat isn't going to be constantly monitored, we personally would never trust the Kong design. As you say, correct ground tackle is some of the cheapest insurance that you can buy.

Speaking of correct ground tackle, we'd be curious to know what size the anchor is in your second photo, and what boat it was being used with when it bent. Based on the size of the bar code sticker, it looks rather small. When it comes to the proper size anchor for a boat, we always thought Steve Dashew gave the best advice. "When people see the size of your anchor," he said, "they ought to laugh out loud." Our primary anchor on Profligate is a Fortress FX-125. Said to be good for boats up to 150 feet, it might be a bit of overkill, and it certainly cost more than the two smaller Fortress anchors we could have used. But we don't drag much, so we think it was worth the extra money. Besides, it's provided some people with a good laugh.

PROPER LOGS ARE A GREAT REFERENCE

In response to Latitude's wondering if anybody kept a proper ship's log anymore, I kept a detailed operating log from the day I took possession of my Quo Vadis until the day I moved off her 3.5 years and many miles later. If I'm not mistaken, keeping such a log is a requirement of International Maritime Law, and is the captain's responsibility. Admittedly, this requirement is seldom enforced by any agency, and usually becomes an issue only in court or with an insurance company.

My ongoing recording of dates, times, places, and personnel also served as a framework and fact-checking reference when I wrote The Years of Living Wet, my book about my experience aboard my boat. I'll close by repeating the cover blurb: The years pass quickly.

John Huetter, former owner
Quo Vadis, Prout 37
San Francisco

Readers — You can buy John's book directly from his website at www.johnhuetter.net or Amazon.com.

THAT DEPRESSION RATED A SOFTLY SPOKEN 'SHIT'

Just a quick note in response to your 'Lectronic Latitude article of June 22 on the tropical storms off Mexico. You stated that Depression 1-E had only 30 knot winds and was "no big deal." I'm not sure what preceded the depression into Mazatlan, but around 10:30 a.m. on June 19 we got hit by a bunch of wind and rain. The wind in Marina Mazatlan was reported to be somewhere between 60 and 70 knots.

Most everyone had been watching the weather and was expecting the storm to hit on Saturday, and with wind in only the 35-knot range. Most of us had put off taking down tarps and sun shades, and were planning to do it Friday afternoon — well before the anticipated arrival of the storm. I was down below reading with a large hatch open over the saloon table when it started to rain a little. No problem, it had been raining off and on for two days, so I just closed the hatch and went back to reading. A short time later the boat really started to move around in her slip, and I could hear the Shade Tree awning banging and popping more than normal. So I went up to see what was happening.

The wind was already starting to pick water up off the surface and blow it around. I could barely see across to the next dock south of us. It was about then that Chris, my wife, got back from town, and it looked as though she had swum back instead of taking the bus. Since she was already wet and I was quickly getting that way, we decided to get the shade down and secured on deck. I had the wind instruments on, and noted that the wind was blowing 42 knots while we were doing this.

The wind began to gust even more strongly, so after checking our lines we, along with a few of the remaining cruisers on Dock 6, started checking the docklines and sun covers on other boats. We needed to secure a number of covers and remove some of the canvas that we could not secure. During this time, the rain was blowing horizontally and it was like being sprayed with water from a 2.5-inch fire hose. Many dock boxes had their lids blown off, and these were flying around along with plexiglass windshields and assorted detritus from the boats. Ray of Mazatlan Yachts was struck in the face by one of the dock box lids, and suffered a laceration across the bridge of the nose. We also noticed a very definite lull followed by a drastic wind shift — almost like what you would expect in a hurricane, only over a very short time span.

By about 1 p.m., things calmed down and the rain slowed to a sprinkle. There were reports over the VHF from around the marina of wind speeds up to 70 knots, and two boats were reported to have blown off their cradles in the Singlar yard. We also noted that it looked as if a couple of boats in their slips had lost their headsails when they unfurled and flogged to death. There were reports from the condos around the marina of windows and doors being blown out, and exterior siding and roofing tiles being blown off. The marina and areas of the city were without power for a number of hours, and there were many trees uprooted and large signs blown down throughout Mazatlan.

So while the experience was stimulating and the rain cooled things down nicely, I think that this rated a little higher than a “no big deal” on the Latitude Wind Scale. Maybe a "Damn" or softly spoken "Shit". Just a thought.

Mike & Chris Brown
Antipodes, Wauquiez Centurion 47
Marina Mazatlan

Mike and Chris — Let us be the first to apologize for what surely must have seemed like a casual dismissing of the very strong weather you and others were hit with. But we're a little confused, because it almost seems as though we're referring to two different weather events. We say this because the official weather track doesn't show Tropical Depression I-E reaching Mazatlan until June 20th — or at least 12 hours after you report it hitting Marina Mazatlan. And the official weather report has it never exceeding 30 knots — a far cry from the much stronger stuff that you and others clearly experienced. Probably the most likely explanation is that the tracks and wind speeds provided by the weather service just aren't that accurate.

For the record, Tropical Depression I-E was the latest-arriving tropical weather in the Eastern Pacific zone in recorded history, Yet before it even blew itself out two days later, it was joined by Hurricane Andres with winds to 65 knots, and Tropical Storm Two with 35 knots. No matter if you have a boat in Mexico or the Caribbean, or are just going to be sailing in those areas with friends, here's hoping that this hurricane season will be as gentle as the last!

BILGE WATER OR BAY WATER?

On June 6, a friend and I had occasion to motorsail by the ship Grand Way, which was tied up and loading scrap steel on the Oakland side of the Estuary. We observed and photographed water pouring out around the anchors both at midday and in the late evening when we returned. I was under the impression that pumping the bilges into the Bay was never allowed. Should I contact someone? I'm sure that they were pumping water to keep the boat on an even keel during loading of the scrap steel.

Jay Bietz
Pygmalion, Westsail 32
Alameda Marina

Jay — If you see a vessel illegally pumping bilge water into the Bay, you should call the Coast Guard on VHF 16, and they will either direct your call to the proper department or take the matter in their own hands. That said, we think there are two reasons to suspect that you didn't see what you thought you saw: First, the captain of the ship would have to be an idiot to risk fines and the loss of his license by pumping bilge water in an area Coast Guard vessels pass frequently. Second, if you were designing a ship, would you have the bilge pump lines exit hundreds of feet away from the bilge at the bow and way high up by the anchors? Or would you have the exits near the bilge itself?

We're pretty sure what you observed was Bay water being used to clean the anchors. You'll very often see ships — and recreational boats — pumping water out from various thru-hulls, but it's unlikely that any of it was bilge water. Even many recreational sailboats recycle sea water for things like cooling the engine and refrigeration systems and running the watermaker.

INNISFREE AND I HAVE BEEN SAILING SINCE '74

I guess my Freya 39 Innisfree, which I purchased in '74, qualifies for the 'Over 30 Club'. Here's an outline of our history with the boat:
   
Shortly after purchasing Innisfree, my wife and I sailed her — without an engine — from San Diego to the Big Island and eventually to the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu. Four years later we set sail from the Ala Wai for the South Pacific, but were crippled 400 miles out by Hurricane Fico. By the grace of God and due to the integrity of the steel hull, we would survive to enjoy many other sails. But it did take jury rigging for us to make it back to Hilo for repairs and then back to the Ala Wai. Within a week of arriving in Honolulu, I set sail with Innisfree in the opposite direction, specifically to Port Townsend, WA, and what would be our new home. For another four years or so we sailed all over the Puget Sound area and up into Canadian waters.

By the summer of '82, Innisfree and I were craving more sunshine, so we sailed to Southern California. Oxnard ended up being our homeport for what turned out to be years of California coastal cruising and one six-month trip to Mexico. I still sail Innisfree in these waters, often visiting Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands, and occasionally Catalina.

Tony Raimondo
Innisfree, Freya 39
Oxnard

Readers — The Freya 39 is one of the most famous Australian yacht designs ever, by virtue of the fact that the original wooden version won three consecutive Sydney to Hobart Races. Jim Gannon subsequently built about 40 of them out of fiberglass in Petaluma, including Contrary to Ordinary, which was Latitude's boat in Mexico in the early '80s.

I DID THE MATH

Reading the letters from boat owners who have owned their boats for more than 30 years, I decided to do the math, and discovered that I belong in the club. I've owned my O’Day 27 Lady Ann for 33 years. I’ve made a few interior and exterior modifications over the years because of wear and tear, but she's as sound as ever.

I've enjoyed doing two Ha-Ha's on other boats, and take joy in reading each issue of Latitude.

Bob Bauer
Lady Ann, O’Day 27
Alameda

WE'RE VERY HAPPY WITH THE 3G CARD

I'd like to share our experience with wi-fi and data cards in Mexico. We came down with the 2008 Ha-Ha — which, by the way, was way too much fun! — and cruised as far south as Manzanillo before we headed up into the Sea. Our boat is currently on the hard in San Carlos, and we are in the States visiting for a few weeks before flying to Papeete to cruise with Dietmar and Suzanne Petutschnig aboard their Las Vegas-based Lagoon 440 Carinthia. Yep, life is tough!

By the way, you'll remember Dietmar and Suzanne as the ones who turned you on to the Amazon Kindle. Also parenthetically, our opportunity to cruise in French Polynesia with Dietmar and Suzanne is a result of the Ha-Ha.

But to the point: During our first months in Mexico we struggled with communication issues. Patty had cell coverage in most areas with her AT&T service, but it wasn't cheap. I had cancelled my Verizon phone because they told me they didn't have service in Mexico. I ended up buying some Telmex phone cards, which were a pretty good value.

We both have Skype, which works well, but only if you have a very good internet connection. But we found that if others were using Skype on the same wi-fi system, it would slow stuff (like getting email) down to no better than dial-up. Out of consideration for others, we rarely used Skype, which was frustrating.

It wasn't until we got to La Paz and purchased a 3G card from Telcel that many of our issues were solved. Thanks to the Telcel data card, anywhere there was a cell tower nearby we had a great internet connection. Obviously, there isn't service in the remote islands because there aren't any cell towers, but where there were towers, the connection was strong and very fast. We could do email, browse the net, download up to 3 gigs — no movies, but then we never did that anyway — and use our Skype without worrying that we were messing up the internet connection for others.

Our 3G card cost about $150, and the service is about $50/month. The good news is that you can pay for it on a month-to-month basis at any Telcel office. This is wonderful for people who don't spend the whole year in Mexico.

We have been very happy with the 3G card, as it has made life much nicer. It makes it easy for us to stay in touch with the kids, grandkids and our elderly parents. It's hard to imagine what it would be like to sail away and have no communication with home for months or years on end.

Sandy Smith
Faith, Morgan Out-Island 41
Portland, OR

GREAT SIGNALS AT TWO HARBORS

I'm writing in response to your request for information from people who work from their boats about what equipment they use. I work in the IT department for Ticketmaster.com, and for three years now have used Verizon wireless broadband to work from my Ericson 32, berthed in San Pedro. Because my personal account is three years old, I get unlimited data on that. My work account is newer, so I'm limited to 5 GB/month. These are my only sources of internet access.

While I get good access at my berth in San Pedro, I get an even better signal at Two Harbors, Catalina. In fact, it's faster than the free wireless at the Harbor Reef restaurant. I also use a Cradlepoint (www.cradlepoint.com) PHS-300 personal hotspot, which accepts the Verizon USB adapter and allows me to use up to 16 USB devices at once with the service. In other words, two computers access the internet at once. A very cool feature of this device is that it can work with any service that uses a USB adapter — including most services in Mexico and Central America. And, of course, you can use any wi-fi device with it — PSP, iPod, Xbox, PS3, webcams and anything else.

I have a Mac Mini I use as TV, radio, music player and navigation computer. My iPod touch runs iNavX, which connects over the wi-fi to the Mac Mini running MacENC or GPSNavX to get a network feed of the GPS signal. It also downloads BSB charts on-the-fly over the internet from NOAA and Navtech map servers. I can play PC and Xbox360 multiplayer games over the wireless connection, but I don't have the power to run the Xbox and LCD TV when away from shorepower.

However, the Verizon service is not quite fast enough for streaming TV services such as Netflix on-demand movies. It supports lower-quality video like YouTube without a problem. I'm looking to get a wi-fi-enabled digital camera so I can upload pictures in real-time to Facebook or a photo-sharing site.

I offer the following as great reference sites:

www.3gstore.com

www.evdoinfo.com

www.evdomaps.com

www.evdoforums.com

The 3GStore sells data plans, devices and a wi-fi router as bundles. They also run the other reference sites and a forum for users.

Mike Batchelor
Valinor, Ericson 32
Cabrillo Marina, San Pedro

Mike — Great report. Speaking of Two Harbors, we were all excited about getting our AT&T data card up and running out on Harbor Reef — our normal summer home — in order to work from Profligate. But while we got maximum bars for our iPhone, we got zip on our AT&T data card.

We couldn't figure it out, so we called AT&T technical assistance for help. After 15 minutes of listening to their endless ads for additional AT&T services that we'd never want, and without our ever being given any indication of when someone was going to answer our darn call, a not-very-knowledgeable person answered. When we asked her if the AT&T phone and data cards operate off the same antennas and therefore should bring us similar signals on both devices, she assured us they did and they would. After 10 more minutes of waiting, we were transferred to the laptop technical support, where the alleged expert had temporarily "forgotten" that Macs don't use the Windows operating system. That really inspired our confidence in AT&T. After another 10 minutes, we finally were transferred to someone who sounded as though he knew what he was talking about. "No, the antennas for data cards and phones are absolutely different, so in the same place your phone and data card might get a different quality signal." Wonderful. If we could have throttled the honcho at AT&T via our iPhone for his company's having wasted an hour of our time with misinformation, we surely would have.

When we went to Two Harbors a week later, we were informed that AT&T had been having problems out there. Sure enough, when we plugged our data card in, we got four bars on Harbor Reef — but still worse than dial-up service. We got the same four bars up at Emerald Bay. For what it's worth, Doña de Mallorca's Verizon gets full bars and quite good internet speed at both Two Harbors and Emerald Bay.

That said, in most places we've been — including the Harbor Reef restaurant at Two Harbors — the AT&T data card has been a little dynamo.

TELCEL'S 3G DATA CARD ROCKS

The accompanying photo is of the Telcel 3G internet USB data card we bought in Mexico. The only bummer is that we didn't have it the entire time we were in Mexico. We bought the data card in La Paz, and were able to get great internet on our boat there and as we motored out the channel. It also worked great at Muertos, off Barilles almost down to Frailes, off Cabo San Jose, Cabo San Pucas — oops, I mean Lucas — Todos Santos, Puerto Magdalena, Turtle Bay, on the inside of Cedros Island, south of San Quintin and at Isla San Martin and Ensenada. It even worked great for several days at the Police Dock in San Diego before it was shut off for roaming.

The card cost 1,400 pesos, 430 pesos for a month in advance and 350 pesos for a deposit. Supposedly, we can bring the unit back to a Telcel office to get our deposit back, but we'll probably just sell it to some southbound cruiser.

[As of the end of June, the exchange rate was 13.6 pesos to the dollar.]

Heather Stapleton Donnell
Meerkat, Ocean 49 Catamaran
Ventura

Readers — We visited Meerkat at the San Diego Police Dock before Telcel shut down their service, and saw that the Telcel data card rocked. As you'll read elsewhere this month and next, such data cards — which don't require any long service contracts in Mexico — are likely to stunt the cruiser use of wi-fi in Mexico. After all, who needs wi-fi if you can get reliable high speed internet access from the convenience of your boat at much greater distances than wi-fi, and at a reasonable price? Indeed, it's going to be interesting to see what effect data cards will have on cruiser SailMail/Winlink use in Mexico. These services would still be very valuable in areas where there are no cell phone towers, but where there are towers, data cards will often be no-brainers.

THE FILM'S AS GOOD AS THE BOOK

Have you seen Around Cape Horn, the 30-minute film, now on DVD, that Irving Johnson made of his 1929 voyage aboard the engineless 400-ft Peking sailing from Germany to Chile via Cape Horn? If you haven't, let me know, because I have an extra copy that needs a good home.

Lu Moody
Los Alamitos Bay   
Long Beach

Lu — As we may have written in a recent issue, while in the port captain's office in St. Barth this winter, we stumbled across a copy of the small book Johnson wrote about that voyage. We weren't expecting much from The Peking Battles Cape Horn, but we were blown away by how well it was written, by what these brave/crazy sailors did, and how shockingly different the sailing life was back then. We can't recommend the book enough, as it's right up there with Joshua Slocum's great Sailing Alone Around the World. As for Johnson himself, the world is short a couple of billion people with his intelligence, bravery and character.

In the early 30s, Irving met a woman named Exy aboard Warwick Tompkins' famous pilot schooner Wander Bird, which was later berthed in Sausalito for many years. After getting married, Irving and his wife Exy did a total of seven wildly adventurous sail training circumnavigations with young men and women, and never had an incident. The Los Angeles Maritime Academy's twin 90-ft brigantines, which are used for non-profit youth sailing, are named the Irving Johnson and the Exy Johnson in honor of these two great sailing pioneers.

As for the Peking, she's on display at the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City. If you get a chance to visit her, imagine yourself standing atop her highest mast when the winds were blowing 75 knots and the seas were 30 feet. After all, that's what Johnson did — just to see if he could without falling off.

"I THINK THERE'S BEEN AN ERROR ON THE BILL"

Since you wrote about the costs of providing Coast Guard Search & Rescue services in the June issue, I thought you might be interested in a recent incident. After making only 150 miles in his third attempt to row from Cape Cod to France, Frenchman Charlie Girad placed a sat phone call to the Coast Guard in Boston to report that he was "cold and didn't know what to do."

So just 10 days into his voyage, he was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. It reportedly cost us taxpayers $80,000 to dispatch the Coast Guard jet and helicopter to retrieve Girard from his 21-ft custom rowboat.

Colin Dewey
Turning Point, Ericson 29
Encinal YC

Colin — It would be interesting to know how much of the $80,000 were 'hard costs' already built into the Coast Guard's budget, and how much extra this rescue might have cost.

On the one hand, we think the U.S. and other countries need to provide rescue services around the world, but perhaps those who have to be rescued from extreme adventures should either have to post a bond or be presented with at least a part of the bill for their rescue. This would include entries in extreme events such as the Vendée Globe, when the margins of error for safety are so slim that in the last running only 11 of the 30 racers finished. After all, if one of these sailors needs to be rescued from the deep Southern Ocean, why should Aussie or Kiwi taxpayers have to take a big financial hit? If somebody wants to do extreme — especially if its already been done a number of times before — shouldn't he do it on his own nickel?

PLEASE, SIR, MAY I HAVE ANOTHER?

I have an unusual request for my Nathan. After wearing his yellow Baja Ha-Ha hat non-stop for the last seven months and 7,000 nautical miles down the coast of Mexico and across the Pacific, it blew off and sank recently during a daysail on San Francisco Bay. He is more depressed about it than is normal for losing a hat. It's as though it was his badge of achievement or something. So I'm wondering, is there any chance you might have another yellow Ha-Ha hat hidden in the attic or stuck down behind a couch that we can buy?

Naomi Zell
Hurulu, Islander 36
Sausalito
 
Naomi — Unfortunately, the yellow Ha-Ha hats — new last year — went like hotcakes. The good news is that we'll have more of them by October 1, at which time you can buy another for your husband.

WE'VE HAD TWO RIPPED OFF

We've had two inflatables stolen from our private slip at Alamitos Bay, which is a very upscale part of Long Beach. I suspect it was the work of local kids from affluent families who wanted to go joyriding.

Marty Goldsmith
Sweet Bones, Eastbay 38
Alamitos Bay

MY DINGHY WAS STOLEN FROM AVALON

You asked about sailors who have gotten ripped off in California. A few years ago we had our dinghy stolen from Avalon Harbor while we were ashore. The thief took the dinghy somewhere offshore, removed the Mercury outboard, then set the dinghy adrift. It later turned up a few coves north of Avalon. I actually got more for the engine in the insurance settlement than I had paid for it in the first place.

Doug Thorne
Tamara Lee Ann, Celestial 48
San Francisco

Readers — For the record, we know that Thorne has taken Tamara Lee Ann to Mexico at least twice.

THAT'S LIFE IN THE CITY

It's been a few years, but someone kicked in the hatchboards of my International Folkboat berthed at South Beach Harbor in San Francisco. They then apparently made themselves at home for a day or two, drank the beer in the cooler, and stole my waterproof ghetto blaster. The weird part of it is that my boat was way out at the end of one of the fingers, so whoever did it evidently passed loads of other boats to board, some quite derelict, before choosing mine. At least he had good taste in boats.

I ascribed the experience to City life. In the last 20 years, my house has been broken into twice, my office once, and my various cars more than a dozen times. In addition, I have had one car stolen twice, and eight bicycles — all of them locked at the time — stolen. Report the thefts to the San Francisco Police Department? I did make reports after the first bunch of thefts, but it soon became clear that the police weren't interested, so I stopped because it was extra aggravation.

I reckon San Francisco must have somehow been the patron saint of thieves.

Michael Connor (former owner)
Skol, International Folkboat
San Francisco

"WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET SHOT?"

My boat was never boarded or ripped off in California, but I did have an incident in Massachusetts. I had a fixer-upper in the yard, and it was broken into multiple times, with thieves stealing six fenders and who knows what else. I finally discovered the two thieves one night about a month ago when I was sleeping aboard. The two teenagers had climbed aboard and were on their way down the companionway when I said, "Would you like to get shot?"

They must have left the boat head first, because they broke the ladder on the way down.

Gary Bickford
Imram, Columbia 33
Dighton, MA

THE POOP ON TAKING PETS TO MEXICO

We're Thee Amazing Grace, entry #47 in this fall's Baja Ha-Ha, and we intend to take our two dogs. We only know that paperwork/documentation must be done within 30 days of our arrival in Mexico. We were hoping to find more specifics in the Ha-Ha literature, but there was nothing. Can you provide the essential information needed for bringing doggies into Mexico?

David Bloom
Thee Amazing Grace, Vector 39
Long Beach

David — As a number of folks bring their dogs to Mexico each winter, you've clearly found a gap in our printed information. If you'll please excuse the terrible pun, here is the complete poop: Mexico is known to be very dog-and cat-friendly. The most you'll be asked for are a pet health certificate issued by a vet not more than 72 hours before the animal enters Mexico and a current vaccination certificate. But you might not even be asked for those.

Not once during the previous 15 Ha-Ha's have we heard of anyone having trouble bringing their dog or cat across the border — and there have been plenty. "I don't think Mexico really cares too much," said Chris Frost, owner of Downwind Marine in San Diego. "The hardest part is getting the animal back across the border." Indeed, the U.S. is much more strict about checking documentation, so hold on to those papers for your return trip. Although not required, it's a good idea to make sure your pet has some form of ID, whether on its collar or in the form of an implanted microchip. And if you're planning to sail with Polly the Parrot or Jake the Snake, you have a lot more legwork in front of you.

For more info on sailing with your pets, check out Diana Jessie's Cruising with Your Four-Footed Friends, which gives practical advice for cruising with dogs and cats, and the recently released pet health manual Where There is No Pet Doctor by David W. LaVigne, DVM (both available on Amazon).

FIRST DOGS, NOW CATS

The accompanying photo is of our cat Suen resting after 'tailing' the main sheet. It was taken while we were sailing at 3.9 knots on a beam reach between Catalina's Emerald Bay and Marina del Rey on June 22.

Linda Immer & Harris Gabel
Always Lucky, Baba 30
Marina del Rey

DOGS, CATS . . . AND NOW A BEAR!

When we returned to our home, Bellavia, after an extended absence abroad, we found our boat-guarding bear — perhaps a bit bored as a result of being left behind — had started reading a Latitude that was somehow left with him. No doubt he was making travel plans.

Milton & Eva Tanner
Bellavia, Passport 40
Emery Cove

$50,000 TO TURN A LEVER

It's nice to read the attitude in Latitude. In the last issue you wondered what a drawbridge operator was paid. Last month the California Department of Transportation was taking applications for drawbridge operators in Sacramento, Solano, Los Angeles and San Joaquin counties. The starting salary was listed at "$3,051-$3,338/month." That didn't include the benefits, of course.

Jackie Philpott
Dura Mater, Cal 20
Berkeley Marina

Jackie — So with health, paid vacations, overtime and all that, we're probably talking $50,000/year — not counting money that will have to be set aside for the pension. And with government workers, the pension is often the huge thing. the Chronicle, for example, recently reported that Pete Nowicki, the 51-year-old retired fire chief of little Moraga, population 16,700, is knocking down $241,000 a year as his pension. That's only $660 a day, so we hope the poor guy is going to be able to make ends meet. The not-so-funny thing is that some other retired fire chiefs in Contra Costa County are getting $50,000 a year more in pension than Nowicki.

Are we the only ones who think that all government operations — police, fire, education and courts — should be turned over to Costco?

THE BURGEE ARRIVED!

We're excited to participate in the 'Sweet Sixteen' Ha-Ha starting in late October, so we were happy to recently receive our burgee in the mail. Our journey will start in the second week of August, at which time we'll leave San Francisco Bay and visit family and friends as we head south. We will be hanging out at Two Harbors, Catalina, and will be displaying our burgee proudly while we wait for the Ha-Ha to begin. Thank you to everyone at the Ha-Ha and Latitude for putting on the event.

Laurie & Michael Michel
Laura, Bristol 41.1
Nevada City

Laurie and Michael — Like you, we're excited, and we'll be spending much of our pre-Ha-Ha time at Two Harbors, getting accustomed to a more tranquil life.

By the way, everyone in the Ha-Ha should be thankful that we live on the West Coast, where historically it's been very easy to sail to the tropics. It's normally a much longer, harder and more challenging trip from anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard to the Caribbean.

RECRUITING NEW FEMALE CREW FOR THE HA-HA

I've cruised Mexico for all of the last two winter seasons, but the only place my boat has been ripped off was at Stillwater Cove near Pebble Beach. My boat was one of several that were broken into and had all the liquor stolen. Stillwater Cove is also the only place where my dinghy was abused. I found it deflated and filled with sand. Fun!

The only thing that's happened to my dinghy in Mexico is that some Mexican soccer players carefully moved it a few yards down the beach at La Cruz so they could have a bigger soccer field.

I've got to get back to Mexico. The weather here in California, and all the chores, are killing me. I'm doing the Ha-Ha again this year, and am 'recruiting' new female crew.

David Addleman
Eupsychia, Cal 36
Monterey

IT'S GREAT TO BE BACK IN THE U.S. BUT . . .

After spending 10 days doing a Baja Bash, we arrived off Pt. Loma. We hailed the officials at the Police Dock over the VHF, and they told us where to go. Our next stop was Santa Barbara Marina, where it was the same deal. Ditto for Santa Cruz and our homeport of Sierra Point Marina in Brisbane.

While having lunch on our boat at Sierra Point, we stopped to think how different it was in California from Mexico. If we'd called for a slip in a marina in Mexico, when we reached the dock, we would have met by two to four smiling linehandlers, who, as soon as we'd gotten tied up, would have connected our water hose and electricity. And maybe somebody would have offered us some food or a homemade pie, and at the very least filled us in with regard to stores, the internet, restaurants, laundry facilities and transportation. And within 10 minutes, some eager workers would have come by and, at reasonable prices, have offered to wash our boat, clean the bottom or wash our mast.

For a lot of reasons, it's sure good to be back in the old United States — but where is the warm and fuzzy feeling we're used to getting when arriving at marinas in Mexico? We guess that we'll just have to head back south this winter. You wouldn't know of a group of boats that we could hang with on the way down from San Diego to Cabo? Say toward the end of October?

Wayne 'the Mango Man' Hendryx & Carol Baggerly
Capricorn Cat, Hughes 45
Brisbane

Readers — There truly are many wonderful things about California and the United States, but as most people returning from a cruise to Mexico will tell you, while we Americans may have the most money, collectively we're not the warmest of people, nor do we rank among the happiest.

After our mother died, our dad kept saying he was going to take his van down to Mexico and do some exploring. Despite our encouragement, he never did, and as such, missed out on meeting many wonderful people and having great adventures. Our advice to those of you who are sick of the 'same-old, same-old' is to not fear the unknown.

NOT A COMPLAINT, JUST A FACT

With regard to your recent 'Lectronic and Latitude items about San Diego and the noise caused by airplanes, maybe you should back off the military and the noise of their jets. After all, they were there before you were.

Capt. Paul Petraitis
Espresso, CT-41 PH
Seattle, WA

Capt. — When we said that San Diego could accurately change its motto from America's Finest City to America's Noisiest City, we were stating a fact and making a joke, not complaining. We actually like the sound of the F-18s — or whatever they are — as we find them reminders of the sophisticated things modern man is capable of producing. After all, nothing in them existed even 100 years ago. Besides, you only hear them a couple of times a day. We find the sound of the commercial jet traffic, which is almost nonstop, more annoying. But as you point out, both Lindbergh Field and the North Island Naval Air Station were around first, so it's a little hard for anyone to complain.

By the way, while Profligate was hauled out in San Diego, we spent a bit of time kicking around the redeveloped downtown near Petco Park. The touristy Gas Lamp District is understandably a little cheesy, but overall, San Diego seems to have done a pretty good job. In fact, it feels a lot like the San Francisco waterfront — except that it's 20 degrees warmer and there aren't any homeless people.

PIRACY PROFITABLE FOR INSURANCE COMPANIES

I read your editorial response in the June issue expressing surprise that governments of the world allow piracy, such as that which happens off Somalia, to continue. I hate to be such a cynic, but piracy will not end near Somalia because it’s so profitable — for maritime insurance companies. All insurance companies now assess a surcharge for commercial shipping that transits the area. The total income to the insurers for those surcharges has been more than $30 million in the past year. The total payouts for ransoms, cost of negotiators and so forth? Less than $1 million. These kinds of numbers would warm an actuary’s heart, wouldn’t you say?

Dean Koutzoukis
Yorba Linda

Dean — We’re probably even more cynical than you are, but just because there hasn’t been a major claim yet doesn’t mean there won’t be one in the future. After all, it’s entirely possible that some pirates will sometime show they ‘mean business’ by destroying a tanker carrying $100 million in oil. In that case, the insurance companies would be $70 million in the red. Risk assessment is a tricky business. Whether it’s more profitable in the long run than other endeavors — such as piracy — is unclear.

TWENTY-SIX YEARS AGO IN THE LIGHTBUCKET

A few years ago a guy — I can’t remember who — gave me a great photo that shows ‘old school’ sailing. It was taken during the ‘83 Lightship Race, when it was blowing up to 46 knots, the Bonita Bar was breaking, and the waves were really big.  I was crew aboard a Santa Cruz 27, and we were sailing with a single reef in the main and a #4 jib. After sailing through a breaking wave at Bonita, we rounded the Lightbucket, put up a #3, and still did 16 knots with a reef in the main! We didn’t wear PFDs back then, but we did wear harnesses. I must be getting nostalgic — it does seem that much of that ‘old school’ sailing was done in less-than-perfect conditions and, God knows, less-than-perfect boats. It’s hard to explain to younger sailors.

Steve Bates
Wind Blown Hare, Wylie Wabbit
Richmond YC

Steve — There certainly was some wild ‘old school’ sailing in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. We can remember when people used to race small boats — such as Cal 20s, Coronado 25s and Ranger 26s — in the Midget Ocean Racing Association’s long distance races from San Francisco to San Diego and even Ensenada. Even for those who weren’t on drugs — and some of the crews were — it was a mystical experience when the wind got over 30 knots and the seas started to break.

But we hope you’re not disparaging the SC 27, a design that won at least one particularly windy MORA Long Distance Race, and that Norton Smith used to win the first Singlehanded TransPac.

While ‘old school’ sailors had a lot of balls and were fine sailors, we don’t think they can touch today’s top young sailors, who have benefitted from so much better knowledge, training and experience.

AW SHUCKS!

I seldom actually have time to read a whole issue of Latitude 38. But I was a bit under the weather on a recent Sunday, and started to read the May issue. I loved it! I read it cover to cover, and thought it was a great mix of information and entertainment. Thanks to you and the whole gang for a very pleasant bit of 'brain-candy'!

Deborah Atherton
Pier 39 Marina
San Francisco
   
Deborah — It's very hard work putting each issue together because our staff really cares and really tries hard. It's nice to know that you and others appreciate it.

YOU SHOULD BE A PROCTOLOGIST

I've been reading Latitude since the beginning. Between Latitude and Vanity Fair, it's always a long wait between issues. That said, I just wanted to compliment the Latitude editor's skill at retorts. No issue of Latitude is a real issue unless some misguided armchair powerboater pipes up about something he knows nothing about and writes to Latitude about it. I think these are the same voids who leave inane, mean and downright hateful messages on comments about newspaper stories and blogs they find "disquieting."

My point? The Latitude editor should really be a doctor. Specifically a proctologist — because no one rips them a new asshole like you do! I love reading your responses. They are right to the fuckin' point! Touché! En garde!

Peter Kissam
Marine Electronics
Newport Beach

Peter — Geez, we're just trying to be helpful, not mean.

ROSE STILL WELCOMES CRUISERS TO NUKU HIVA

It’s been a long time since I've been in contact with Latitude, but I wanted to check in to let you know I am still here at Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands. There have been many changes in the bay over the years — and even in just the last few months — things such as the much greater availability of fresh food, and construction in the valley. I'll send you complete information before next year's cruisers start heading here.

As you probably remember, for 21 years I was the owner of Keikahanui Inn, and hosted a six-days-a-week happy hour for yachties during the January through August season. Nine years ago I took on partners, and the Keikahanui Inn became the Keikahanui Nuku Hiva Pearl Lodge — one of several in a chain. Two years ago I sold my stock in the hotel. I'm now in the process of building an eight-room hotel with waterfront restaurant beside the road that continues up to the Keikahanui Inn. My new place will be called He’e Tai Inn — Marquesan for 'from the sea' — and I intend to make it the yacht club of Taiohae Bay. The restaurant, which is finished but not yet officially open, will feature cultural programs such as traditional Marquesan dancing, roast pig buffets, and so forth. These cultural activities have been missing since I stopped running the Keikahanui.

It was only by meeting some cruisers in my museum/boutique that I learned that something called the Pacific Puddle Jump, with 60 or so participants, arrived in the Marquesas this year, and that Latitude is a sponsor. I hope you'll keep me informed, as I'll be happy to help out in any way that I can.

By the way, I still actively handle mail for cruisers. In this age of email, it's mostly urgent packages containing parts for boats, many of which are still at sea. For anyone needing to send packages via FedEx or DHL, make sure they are addressed to Yacht Name (fill in blank), c/o Rose Corser, Taiohae, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas. Be sure to write 'Yacht Replacement Parts — Yacht in Transit' on both the package and the invoice. To clear these packages through customs, I need a copy of the captain’s passport, ship’s document, and the clearance by the gendarmerie on entry. Many cruising guides include the above information, but add the name Keikahanui Inn, which no longer exists. This has complicated some clearances, so use my name only.

Looking forward again to hostessing the ‘happy hours’ with the fascinating variety of persons from all over the world.    As our previous sign indicated — a place to enjoy good food and drinks, and listen to ‘tall tales.’

Rose Corser, Hotel He’e Tai Inn
Museum Boutique Enana
Taiohae, Nuku Hiva 98742, Marquesas, French Polynesia
Tel: 689-920382 Satellite phone: 689-735312
Email 1 or Email 2

Readers — We've never met Rose, but from the late '70s on, she and her Keikahanui Inn were the friendly home away from home for yachts that had just crossed the puddle. This bond was particularly strong back in the days before the internet and email, when Nuku Hiva was effectively a very remote place, and Rose was one of the few sources of information and aid. We're sure many old-time cruisers will smile to learn that Rose is still welcoming cruisers in the Marquesas.
   
Like Rose, a lot of people are curious about the relation between
Latitude 38 and the Pacific Puddle Jump. The way we see it, Latitude is the 'custodian' of the event for each year's new group of cruisers, who are the real 'owners'. Latitude spends quite a bit of money each year to promote the event, but as there is no entry fee, so we derive no revenue from it. Brilliant business model, isn't it?

OUR BOATS HAVE HAD AN "ARK-LIKE ESSENCE" SINCE

Latitude asked about readers' experiences with the Quake of '89. I was an incorrigible workaholic in the tech industry at the time, and my rigid 'work hard, play hard' mentality translated into 60+ hours Monday through Friday, and — thank God — a little sailing on Saturday and Sundays. On October 17, I attended an all day offsite department meeting in Los Gatos. It ended much earlier than scheduled, at around 2 p.m. Nine hundred and ninety nine times out of 1,000, I would have bee-lined it back to the office. For some reason — perhaps it was the nice weather, perhaps it was the fact that there were a number of sailors in the department — I decided to head up to the City for an afternoon sail with a couple friends. We kept our boat at South Beach Marina at the time, and after a quick stop for some ice, beer and snacks, we were all ready to go at around 4 p.m. After untying the dock lines, we sailed north under the Bay Bridge toward the center of the Bay.
   
Two things happened simultaneously at 5:04 p.m., when we were 200 yards from the Ferry Building heading northwest. One, thousands upon thousands of birds, all around the horizon, took flight for no apparent reason. It was like something out of a creepy Alfred Hitchcock movie. Two, we felt a light jarring — sort of as though we'd run aground on a flat, sandy bottom.

At first, we didn't know what to make of it. But things slowly came into focus. I think the first thing we noticed was that the clock tower on the Ferry Building had been damaged. Soon, we saw smoke from fires burning along the Embarcadero, then fires on the Oakland side of the Bay, then finally big plumes of smoke coming over the hills to the west from the fires in the Marina District.
   
We carried a boombox with a radio for tunes. I jumped belowdecks to grab it, but in my haste managed to drop it. The batteries fell out and rolled to all corners of the boat. Rather than put it back together, I grabbed our little battery-powered portable TV instead and turned it on. All we got were 'test patterns' on all the channels. For a second, we thought it was the end of the world. The last thing we noticed was what was happening on the Bay Bridge. The traffic hadn't been moving for a few minutes, and then finally we saw a huge mass of people running westbound across the bridge toward the City. That image was just like the panic scene from a Godzilla movie.
   
After some time, the television came back on, and we were riveted by the news. My wife had gone to a training session in Oakland, so having heard about the collapse of parts of the upper deck of the Nimitz freeway, I had all kinds of worst case scenarios running through my mind. Our kids were in the South Bay at soccer practice, unsupervised. The initial news reports were, thankfully, much worse than the ultimate reality. We heard that all freeways were closed and that nobody could leave the City.
   
We returned to South Beach Harbor to wait for news and phone connections. All of us aboard were incredibly concerned about our families and friends. Yet there was an almost creepy irony that, there we were, safely on a boat in the marina, with plenty of power, pretty good communications (TV, VHF, sideband, etc), and plenty of food and fresh water. If only we could beam our families on board.
   
Since that day, our sailboats — later a Farr 44, a Santa Cruz 52, and now our M&M 52 catmaran — have always had an Ark-like essence for me. And we'll never forget that afternoon sail.

Pete & Susan Wolcott
Route du Vent (in '89)
Currently Kiapa, Morrelli & Melvin 52
Kapa'a, HI

Readers — While the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake had nothing to do directly with sailing, it certainly touched the marinas, businesses and lives of sailors. We'd like to take a look back in our October issue at that day and its aftermath for boaters on San Franicsco Bay. And we'd like most of that look to be through the eyes of those who experienced it — in other words, you guys. If your life as a sailor — or the life of someone you know — was significantly affected by the Loma Prieta earthquake, please email your story (and photos, if any) to Editor LaDonna Bubak.

SHE WORKS HARD FOR THE MONEY

I am writing to express my eye-rolling disappointment in the Liz Clark piece — with the overly dramatic title “An SOS from Liz Clark on Swell” — in the May 11 edition of ‘Lectronic Latitude. At first I was worried there had been an accident or that Liz was in other serious trouble. As it turns out, this was not a true SOS; Ms. Clark is simply in need of money. Who isn’t in need of money these days? I completely understand that Ms. Clark needs the money to repair her boat so she may continue her sailing and surfing adventure, but considering the economic climate back here in 'Reality World', it strikes me as odd that a person capable of getting the initial funding and multiple sponsorships at the journey’s onset, would now feel it’s appropriate to ask for donations from the general public.

And if she has, as you wrote, “made the transition from a relatively novice sailor to a courageous and competent adventurer, never shying away from the hard work that's needed to be done,” it seems to me she should consider getting a job in one of the fabulous locales she’s been privileged to visit, or even back home, to earn the $5,000 she feels she needs.

In reading some of her blog entries, I find it hard to believe that a person with the stamina and courage to sail alone to the South Pacific and the determination to conquer the surf at Teahupo'o would ask working people for money while she spends her days exploring, sailing, and surfing in exotic ports. I find this more than a little offensive, considering I work hard for my money so no one else has to foot the bill for my fun.

Perhaps the generous souls who are considering sending money to Liz Clark should instead send their contribution to Bismarck Dinius — someone who is truly in need of help!

Kathe Hashimoto
Seahound, Cal 27 T2
Sausalito

Kathe — You're not the only one who feels the way you do, but we think you're overly grouchy about it. As for your complaint that you were worried Liz had been in an accident — please, you can’t seriously believe that she would call for urgent help via the online edition of a sailing magazine!

In addition, it’s not as though Liz was asking for donations from the “general public.” Over the last three years, she’s written many interesting and well-received pieces for Latitude and other publications, and we think she rightly felt that some readers might be happy to pitch in a little to help her out. She received over $1,400, and has expressed her sincere gratitude to all those who contributed.
   
What we can’t figure out is if you’ve got something against everyone who receives money from others to go sailing — which as we mentioned last month, would include Robin Lee Graham, Tania Aebi, Zac Sunderland, Bruce Schwab and about a million racing sailors — or if you just have a problem with Liz? And if it’s the latter, is it because she’s young? A woman? Or because she often appears to be having fun?

RESPONSE HIJACK ALERT! Editor LaDonna Bubak stepping in here to point out that not everyone at Latitude agrees with the boss man — and praise Ra that he's got a good sense of humor about it.

Kathe clearly respects Liz Clark's gumption, and at the very least follows her adventures online, if not in the magazine. To suggest she has "a problem" with Liz because she's "young" or "a woman" is not just silly, it's downright offensive — especially if you've ever laid eyes on Kathe (to do so, check out page 98 of this issue).

And The Wanderer's suggestion that Liz Clark's request for money in any way resembles that of a professional racer's quest for sponsorship is apples and, well, watermelons. Liz's solicitation is more like the guy at a rest stop begging for gas money. Liz, as well as the others he mentions, obviously received donations to fund their dream trips — and good on 'em! But the others — who were all out to break records, by the way — somehow secured their funding without asking me for a dime.

For the record, I think Liz is extremely courageous for following her dream and heading off into the great blue on her own. But the next time she needs a few extra bucks to continue her vacation, maybe she should just get a job.

WE'RE DEFINITELY DOING DELTA DOO DAH DEUX

Nancy and I want to give our heartfelt thanks to everyone at Latitude but especially LaDonna Bubak, Christine Weaver, and John Arndt for organizing and running the Delta Doo Dah. The week we spent on the Delta as part of the Doo Dah was one of the best vacations we've ever had.

After sailing on the Bay for 38 years, we needed you guys to kick us in the ass to get on up the river. Now we're kicking ourselves in the ass for not having done it sooner. We're already organizing another trip up there in the fall but, if that doesn't work out, certainly next year with all of our friends who also need to be kicked in the ass to get on up the river. Doo Dah II — we're there!

Gary & Nancy Ryan
'iliohale, Hanse 34
Greenbrae

Readers — You can get all the dirt on the Doo Dah starting on page 98. While next year's dates haven't been confirmed, it seems a foregone conclusion that Delta Doo Dah Deux is a go.


 

 

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