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December 2010

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We're from Australia, and sailed our new-to-us Moody 54 Red Sky in last month's Baja Ha-Ha. We truly loved every minute of it, and were blown away by how professional the organization was. The Poobah, Assistant Poobah Andy Turpin, and Chief of Security Doña de Mallorca showed genuine concern for all of the fleet, both the people and the boats, for the duration of the event. Nonetheless, you were always able to keep it light-hearted and fun. And we've loved the way the Poobah went out of his way to recognize the kids in the fleet and make sure they were included.

We have mounted our Ha-Ha 'trophy' in our boat's salon, as well as the trophy we won for being the most 'chataholic'! As time goes by, they will serve to remind us of the fantastic time we had in the company of so many wonderful people. Thank you Richard, Andy, Doña, and everyone else for making our Ha-Ha experience one that we'll remember for the rest of our days. We look forward to bumping into you in an anchorage somewhere, and know there will always be a cold one aboard Red Sky with your names on it.

John & Leanne Hembrow
Red Sky, Moody 54
Mount Warren Park, Queensland, Australia

John and Leanne — Thanks for the kind words. It was great to have some fun-loving Aussies in the fleet this year, and given that West Coast boats continue to be such bargains for you folks Down Under, we're hoping to see some of your mates in next year's Ha-Ha. Hopefully with the two of you as crew.


Our take on the Ha-Ha? What a tremendous fleet of great boats, great sailors and great friends! We can't wait to regale our fellow Northwest multihullers with stories that will hopefully inspire others to make the escape southward. Thanks for hosting such a wonderful event.

Those of us on 'Team Tumbleweed' — and our boat — have now safely returned to Seattle. In over 10 years of ownership, we'd never trailered our F-31 anywhere. So the Ha-Ha, which required that we trailer our tri to the start in San Diego and then from Cabo to Seattle, was quite an undertaking. Except for pressing our tri too hard in Leg One — during which time we hit over 20 knots — and therefore breaking some stuff, we came out the better for the entire experience.

Matt Daniel
Tumbleweed, F-31 tri

Matt — De nada. But we can't believe you didn't mention that, when you needed a little help after breaking some stuff far out at sea on Leg One, you didn't get assistance from the Coast Guard, but rather 'Hef' and his catamaran full of Playmates. We've gotta believe that's unique.


I was kind of a hired hand on Sirocco, and I want to let you know that I thought the Ha-Ha was fantastic!

By the way, while returning to the States via a flight to Tijuana, I ran into Tracy, one of the 'Playmates' on Bill Lilly's Lagoon 470 Moontide. What a free spirit she is! Despite being by herself and not having any Spanish language skills or knowing how to get from the Tijuana Airport to San Diego, she was just happily making her way.

Matt Horn

Matt — Glad you had a good time.

It's funny how some people get a ride on the Ha-Ha. We had Profligate in Santa Barbara Harbor for a couple of weeks in September, so every day when we broke from work to get lunch, we'd take our iPad up to the little sushi place at the foot of the pier to catch up on the news and raw fish. But one day there were 20 tourists in line at the sushi place. Not having the luxury of time to wait for all of them to be served, we went upstairs to Brophy's Seafood Restaurant and took the only open seat at the counter. After we'd been checking the news on our iPad for a minute, the woman enjoying a beer with lunch next to us leaned over and asked, "Is that an iPad?" It was Tracy, originally from Canada but living in Santa Barbara. In a matter of minutes, we learned that Tracy had not only just completed some sailing courses, but was dying to sail offshore — and really wanted to do the Ha-Ha. When we told her we were the Poobah and that the big cat visible from the restaurant was Profligate, she understandably gave us one of those, 'Do you really expect me to believe you?' looks. We laughed, and told her to swing by Profligate later, where she could be checked out by Doña de Mallorca.

Since Tracy fit the 'crew profile' for Ha-Ha vet Bill Lilly's Newport Beach-based Lagoon 470 Moontide in more ways than one — meaning she was female, bright-eyed, quick to smile, voluptuous, and adventurous — we knew whose phone number to give her. The rest is Ha-Ha history.


Hi and hail, O Grand Poobah! We just completed Ha-Ha 17 on Carina C, and were one of the last contestants in the Here to Eternity Kissing Contest. You know, the one at the beach party in Cabo where the guy and the girl roll around in the surf in a passionate embrace trying to channel Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr.

We're presently aboard our boat in La Paz, and would love to see our 'Eternity' pics — before or after they go up on some porno site. Where can we see them?

We understand the couple who won this year's kissing contest had been married for 46 years. Having only been married for 34 years, we're still at the honeymoon stage. But Anita and I are determined to win the Eternity contest, so we'll practice regularly and diligently for the next 12 years. Once we get our Eternity kissing perfected, and have been married for 46 years, we'll enter the Ha-Ha kissing contest again, and win for sure!

By the way, as a former teacher and musician, I must say that what the Grand Poobah did with his voice after the P.A. system went out halfway through the Awards Party was nothing short of heroic.

We have the excellent magazine Latitude 38 and the Grand Poobah to thank for our inspiration to head south from chilly Canada. It's been well worth the effort.

Jay & Anita Bigland (AKA Burt & Debbie)
Carina C, Spencer 35
Nanaimo, B.C.

Jay and Anita — Since all the Eternity participants were so passionate — and no doubt are still cleaning the sand out of their various orifices — we awarded first place to everyone who participated. But if you believe that length of marriage has something to do with winning that event, don't let us change your mind.

As for the Ha-Ha, thank you for all the kind comments, but it was truly a group effort, from all the participants to Andy 'Mr. Puddle Jump' Turpin, to Doña 'Chief of Security' de Mallorca, to all the many volunteers. Similarly, that we were able to finish the awards ceremony without a P.A. system had everything to do with a great crowd being so considerately quiet that our voice could be heard. Thanks to all of you. By the way, the DJ later discovered that the P.A. system hadn't overheated after all, but rather a plug had come unplugged!

In order to see all the Ha-Ha photos that were contributed, as well as the Here To Eternity Kissing photos, please visit But please note that it may take awhile for everyone to get their photos up.


I read with interest the October Sightings piece about Rob Tryon's mahi mahi and subsequent ciguatera poisoning during an attempted delivery of the Cascade 36 Second Verse from Hawaii to California following this year's Singlehanded TransPac. I had almost identical symptoms and illness in May of this year while aboard a friend's Grand Banks 42 for a wonderful four-week cruise of the Bahamas.

The owner of Aurora and I are, if I may say so, excellent fishermen, and every time we went out a pass to fish the deeper offshore waters, we'd catch a number of mahi. One time we caught the largest bull dorado of our lives, which we promptly filleted. We had fresh ceviche, barbecued dorado, eggs and dorado, and dorado (tuna fish) sandwiches.

It was after eating all the dorado that I began to have symptoms similar to those that Rob had — although without the weakness, headaches, and dizziness. I did, however, have the hot/cold temperature reversal — which is a signature symptom of ciguatera poisoning. The temperature reversal is hard to imagine or explain. But on one occasion it felt like somebody was pouring molten lead onto my hand and foot. When I turned around, I saw that the captain had merely spilled most of his gin and tonic on my arm and leg because we were bouncing in the dinghy!

My wife is an emergency room nurse, who worked with Dr. Kent Benedict for 18 years. We have an extensive collection of material on various injuries and illnesses at sea, as well as poisonous and harmful things in and around the ocean. In the literature, there are a number of reported cases of ciguatera caused by eating large mahi mahi/dolphin/dorado. A few of the reported cases required hospitalization, and a few were nearly life-threatening.

Until I read your October Sightings, I was unaware that there was any scientific test — such as the one performed by Dr. Hasty at the Department of Health in Lihue — for ciguatoxin poisoning. I wonder how accurate it is.

While we will not stop eating mahi mahi, I nonetheless think that we'll target the smaller ones.

Jim Ritchey
Crew, Aurora, Grand Banks 42
Santa Cruz


My 28-ft sailboat was built by S2 Yachts in '84, and is still powered by the original 13-hp Yanmar 2GM diesel. At 2,600 rpm — about 75% throttle — my boat does 5.5 knots through the water while burning .35 gal/hour. Mind you, she's a coastal cruiser that displaces nearly 8,000 lbs, so it would take quite a hefty outboard to push her around — not that I would ever consider such a conversion.

For the record, if I want to throttle up to hull speed, which is 6.2 knots at 3,200 rpm, my boat's burn rate shoots up to .5 gal/hour.

Lee Johnson
Sea-Curity, S2 8.6
San Diego

Readers — As we've reported before, there is more energy in a gallon of diesel than a gallon of gas, and diesel engines burn fuel more efficiently than do gas engines. Combine that with the fact that a decently maintained diesel can last for well over 10,000 hours over a period of decades, and that diesel, unlike gas, can't explode, you can understand why gas inboards are rarely, if ever, an option on sailboats anymore.

Smaller and lighter sailboats — particularly those used for racing — are sometimes powered by gas outboards because they are less expensive in the short term, have fewer installation issues, and are lighter for better sailing performance.


You asked for factual information on the fuel consumption of small boats equipped with diesel engines. Last spring, I became the happy new owner of Whisper, an '81 Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20. In '00, she had been fitted with a Yanmar 10-hp single cylinder diesel.

After checking my logs, I can report that she uses about one quart of fuel per hour. I'm able to reach hull speed of 5.5 knots in flat water at a very reasonable 2,500 rpm. This gives me a fuel consumption of about 25 (statute) mpg. Since I have an 11.5 gallon fuel tank, in good weather I have a range of about 280 miles.

I live in Half Moon Bay and keep my Flicka in the harbor. I enjoy open ocean sailing.

Michael La Guardia
Whisper, Flicka
Half Moon Bay


Based on the limited information provided by the 'victims' of the last three multihull capsizes that were reported in Latitude 38 — the PDQ 32 Catalyst off Ft. Bragg on July 3, the Atlantic 57 Anna Valdivia off Niue on August 7, and the 108-ft Spirit of Antigua on the Bay of Biscay on October 27 — some sailors might start to believe that cats are fundamentally unsafe. Nowhere did I read of anybody admitting they'd screwed up.

It's my view that none of the three capsizes happened in conditions where, with proper — minimal? — vigilance, the capsizes could not have been avoided. The most recent capsizing, that of Spirit of Antigua, was to my thinking unbelievable. A 108-ft racing catamaran flipping in 15 knots of wind?! True, in 15 knots a cat like that could be doing close to 30 knots over the water. Call me old or timid, but if I were on any cat — even a 108-footer — I would be holding the sheets in my hands, ready to instantly release them if necessary.

Are there too many newbies sailing higher performance multihulls? I ask, because I think it's very unlikely that there is any sea state in the world that should be able to capsize a Chris White-designed Atlantic 57 such as Anna Valdivia, let alone the Spirit of Antigua. So is the concept at fault, or were the captains and crews carrying too much sail for the circumstances and not sufficiently ready for a dramatic increase in wind speed?

Rule #1 of multihull sailing is that sheets must be free and ready to run. Rule #2 of multihull sailing is that sheets must be free and ready to run. Rule #3? You know the answer.

In my opinion, the captains and crews of these cats need to put the blame where it rightly belongs — operator error. I would be humiliated to capsize my 45-ft, 14,000 lb Pantera in 15 knots of breeze, even with full sail while singlehanding. I could never blame my boat or the catamaran concept.

When cats such as these flip, I think they not only have to be reported, but the reports must include details about the circumstances of the capsize and what the captain/crew would have done differently to prevent it from happening again. Anything less does a disservice to the breed, as well as to current and future catamaran sailors.

On another subject, I shouldn't read 'Lectronic Latitude when Ha-Ha time rolls around. It makes me too envious. As a consolation, I sailed from La Paz to Cabo San Lucas to make the Ha-Ha beach party in Cabo. What fun, even when anchored out with an easterly blowing right into the bay! I'm now en route to El Salvador. I realize that there are three other years in which I also told everyone I was finally leaving Mexico, but this wonderful county is a v-e-r-y difficult place to leave.


Bob Smith
Pantera, Custom 45-ft Cat
Vancouver / Mexico

Readers — It would be easy to dismiss Smith's opinions if he weren't such an accomplished multihull sailor. He built his all-carbon, rocket-fast 45-ft cat himself, and has been sailing her — not motoring her — relentlessly for 14 years. Most significantly, he singlehanded Pantera, without any motoring, upwind from Puerto Vallarta to Vancouver. That's a rhumbline course of nearly 2,500 miles. And then he did it a second time a few years later. So Smith has extensive experience singlehanding his ultralight cat upwind in over 30 knots of wind and in big seas. As you might expect, the sheets on Pantera are always ready to run. In fact, when Smith sleeps in the cat's salon — the only place he can sleep — the sheets are led inside where he can throw them off without even getting out of his bunk.


The story about not getting the sheet off the winch fast enough resulting in the cat flipping reminds me of the old days of the Whitney Series in Southern California when there was a multihull division. The series was sailed in the spring to take advantage of the fronts that came through, some of which had winds to 60 knots offshore.

There are lots of heavy weather stories we old-timers tell from those series, such as the time the great Alan Gurney designed 72-footer Windward Passage broached right in front of Robon as both were popping chutes in 50 knots of wind while rounding San Nicholas Island.

On another windy occasion, Vic Stern flipped Ima Loa, his racing cat, off Avalon. We were told that the wet sheet had become so tightly wrapped around the winch drum that they couldn't get it off when they were hit by a big gust. Once the boat was fixed up and racing again, Vic kept a hatchet next to the sheet winch when the wind came up.

Michael Kennedy
Conquest, Cal 40
Los Angeles


I can't believe that I'm sending you the accompanying photo, but I can't resist, as I still can't forget the outdoor shower I had in Bahia Santa Maria over Thanksgiving weekend in '02.

We were anchored there on our Alberg 35 Pelican, and some weather came through — including a deluge of warm rain. Not having had a proper shower in weeks, I grabbed my soap and sponge, and dashed out into the cockpit to relish the free warm shower! Okay, I obviously didn't have time to wash my hair, but it was fun anyway.

Sara Johnson
Wondertime, 38-ft Benford ketch
Seattle, WA

Readers — Washing one's hair during a squall is always a dicey proposition, as they usually end abruptly — when your hair is still covered in suds.

Normally cruisers are dying for hot showers, but not always. When it's hot and humid in the Caribbean during the late spring and summer, few things are more welcome than a torrential downpour of cool rainwater. It's one of the great rewards of the natural life.


Back in the early '80s, a crewmember and I sailed my Miura 30 from East London, South Africa, to the Caribbean. As Southern Comfort, which had been designed and built in South Africa, was such a small boat, we didn't have the ability to take freshwater showers. We did stop at St. Helena, a small but historic island near the equator that is almost halfway between South Africa and South America.

After hurriedly clearing customs, my crew and I made for an open air shower we'd seen on the dock. The shower was as crude it could be, with no showerhead and no way of shutting the water off. And the water was only lukewarm. But after 30 years, I've still not forgotten how wonderful that shower, our first in 17 days, felt. We kidded around under the stream of water like little boys. It was also probably the longest shower I've ever taken so, fortunately, it was free.

I now reside on Vancouver Island and sail a Swedish design called a Maxi 95. I look forward to every edition of Latitude, which I think is wonderful, and all the interesting stories from your readers.

Brian Dalbock
Campbell River, B.C.

Brian — Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for your shower story. Back in the '80s we had some good friends in the Caribbean who had sailed there from South Africa aboard their Miura 30. The difference is that they were a family of six on that little boat.


My wife and I departed Hawaii in April of '86 for an eight-month cruise of the South Pacific aboard Eleu, our Ranger 33. We spent two glorious months visiting Palmyra, Fanning, Penrhyn, Suwarrow, and Aitutaki before turning east for the Society Islands. Back then, Palmyra and Suwarrow were uninhabited, so we had each of the lovely islands to ourselves for two-week stays.

We were young and poor cruisers, so we didn't have many amenities aboard Eleu. For example, we only had a 20-gallon water tank, which was filled with water from a catchment system whenever it rained. In order to conserve water, our showers consisted of buckets of seawater we dumped over ourselves, with an occasional freshwater rinse during a squall.

When we got to Bora Bora, we grabbed a mooring at the Oa Oa Hotel, where we learned they offered not just free moorings, but also free fresh water and showers to all visiting yachts. All they expected in return was that we'd spend a little money in their restaurant and bar. To this day I remember that first hot shower after two months of cruising. And I can still feel the tension easing from my muscles, and my blood pressure dropping

Bill Leary
ex-Eleu, Ranger 33
Kaneohe, Hawaii

Bill — It's long been our belief that when it comes to bodily desires, moderate deprivation is usually a very good thing. Being able to have all of life's pleasures and comforts whenever you want them — i.e. the Lindsay Lohan Syndrome — would be the ultimate hell.


About 33 years ago, my wife Elaine and I took our 24-ft Rhodes Meridian up the Delta for a two-week summer stay. We tied up to an island in Prospect Slough just a short distance from Liberty Farms, which is where I had spent 10 years of my childhood.

During the middle of the week, after all the other boats had left, my wife, who didn't like to swim off the boat, decided to try the new Sun Shower I'd purchased. When we figured the water in the Sun Shower was hot enough, we pulled a bucket of river water into the cockpit and she proceeded to soap up. Skinny dipping, as it were, without any dipping.

As Elaine was rinsing her gorgeous body off with the warm fresh water from the Sun Shower, we suddenly heard whooping, whistling and shouts from what sounded like many men. Looking to the east, we saw a large ship heading up the deepwater channel adjacent to Prospect Slough. All we could see above the levee was the ship's pilothouse and cranes — and up on the bridge, several sailors with binoculars!

I thought Elaine would be embarrassed and immediately head for cover. But she surprised me by giving them a big smile and a wave. Their response was tremendous. My reaction was, "Enjoy it for a few moments while you can, guys, she's mine for the rest of my life." Elaine and I are still married, and after 40 years she's as beautiful as ever!

Bob Johnson
Motu, Islander 28
San Rafael

Bob — Congratulations to you both!


When we bought our boat about five years ago, there was a quart can of Deft Marine Teakwood Finish in one of the lockers. After a couple years, I noticed that it looked like there was something beneath the label. So I peeled off the top label to discover a label beneath that identifying the product as Danish Oil Finish.

I did a quick internet search to see how prices of the two products compared, and found that the 'marine' product is $2 more per quart than the regular Danish Oil Finish. I've no doubt they've reformulated the product since mine was produced — because what else would explain the difference in price?

Sheldon Erickson
Polaris, Tayana 37

Sheldon — Sounds suspicious, but there could be several explanations. According to the company's website, the Marine Teakwood Finish is for exterior use, while the Danish Oil Finish is for interior use only. So we presume that the marine version is formulated with some more expensive ingredients to provide a more durable product. The fact that they seemed to use two labels interchangeably would argue against this, but we wouldn't be surprised if their supply of cans with Marine Teakwood Finish labels had run low, so they just used Danish Oil Finish cans but with a new label.

But if you're suggesting that some manufacturers/retailers try to charge more money for the same product under a different label and in different types of stores, you would most certainly be right. And it's certainly not limited to marine products.


I recently sent a slight variation of the following letter to Sheila Chandor, Harbormaster at Pier 39 in San Francisco, and hope that you'll run it:

"Several weeks ago, I left E dock for a quick trip to get fuel for my Gulfstar 37 Wanderlust. I didn’t imagine that my short, singlehanded trip would end up with me unable to use one of my arms. About halfway back to my berth, I lost my balance and broke my arm!

"Thanks to your staff — Tom Mead and Chris Renois — as well as Tom, who keeps his boat Kookaburra in the slip next to mine — I received all the help I needed. After I broke my arm, I was fortunate to have my cell phone in the cockpit with me, and I was able to call your office and explain my situation. Tom Mead immediately got into the workboat and met me at the entrance to the marina, where he proceeded to follow me back to my slip at E dock. I could tell he was prepared to intervene if I had problems maneuvering the boat. Meanwhile, Chris and neighbor Tom had gathered at my slip and were waiting to guide Wanderlust into her home.

After a quick ride on the marina’s electric cart, my wife met me at the passenger area in front of Pier 39. Once I got to the hospital, it was determined that I had indeed broken my arm. Thank you to everyone for their help."

Robert Larson
Wanderlust, Gulfstar 37
Pier 39, San Francisco


I'm researching the disappearance of the 64-foot schooner Connie B. She was last seen departing Wilmington, CA, on November 9, 1997, bound for Sitka, Alaska. There were two people aboard: Jerold Robert Bock, the captain, and Jannie Roberta Chavez, his daughter. Neither they nor the boat were heard from again. Was this incident covered in Latitude 38?

Art Guy
True North, Navigator 48
Channel Islands Harbor

Art — We have no record of the boat or her disappearance. If you're looking for a boat, it would be helpful if you could provide some details, such as when she was built, what she was built of, what color her hull was, whether or not she had an EPIRB, her intended purpose in Alaska, what kind of experience her skipper had, whether there had been a Coast Guard search for her, and so forth.

Without any disrespect to the skipper, one can't help but question the wisdom of sailing to Alaska starting in November. Particularly on such a large boat with such a small crew.


Although hiking is not a water sport, there are some fundamental similarities to boating: self-reliance, navigation, susceptibility to weather, limited resources, isolation — and a lack of restroom facilities. In fact, in some situations, even digging a hole is not an option. Think of Avalon — no discharge allowed — without the holding tank (or the head).

At 14,494 feet, Central California's Mt. Whitney is the highest point in the contiguous U.S. It can be reached by a 22-mile round-trip hike that is usually done in two days. But the hike is so popular that there are very stringent regulations to minimize damage to the environment.

Requirements include making reservations months in advance, carrying bear-proof food canisters, and packing out what you pack in. That means everything you pack in, including what you've digested. In the past, the Forest Service has tried various types of outhouses, but the area is just too remote for servicing them. Digging holes for human waste is not an option, as there are too many visitors and half of the terrain is hard granite.

The solution? Prior to starting the hike, each person is issued a Wag Bag, consisting of a double baggy (opaque) and some deodorizer. When the time comes, one must hike off the trail to find a large boulder for privacy. After use, the hiker must carry the Wag Bag until the end of the hike. It seems that many hikers have no interest in putting the used Wag Bag inside their backpacks, so they are often tied to the outside of their packs. Those coming down the mountain at the end of the second day have quite an aroma!

Despite the inconvenience, the hike is a must-do for anyone even remotely interested. The views are spectacular, the experience extremely rewarding. It does require a reasonable amount of conditioning and preparation, but nothing extraordinary. For those interested, most of the information needed can be found at

Don Murphy
Catalina 250, but with no name yet
Camarillo, California

Don — Very interesting. We know of a number of sailors who have used Wag Bags on their boats when their holding tanks have broken down or become filled in no-discharge areas. Using them might not be any more ideal on a boat than on Mt. Whitney, but we should all be willing to make little sacrifices in order to protect sensitive natural areas, shouldn't we?

We wonder if the name 'Wag Bag' comes from similar bags for dog poop. One of the nice things about pulling into the harbor at Santa Barbara is that it's just a short distance to many wonderful hiking trails in the foothills of Santa Barbara and Montecito. The trails and views are spectacular — except, in our opinion, for the fact they get lined with Wag Bags full of dog poop. For better or worse, unleashed dogs are allowed on these trails. Their guardians seem to be very good about bagging their dogs' poop, but apparently don't believe a trail lined with such bags — presumably, to be picked up on the return trip — detracts from the natural experience. We beg to differ with them, and think a doggie backpack should be developed so dogs, like humans, can tote their own poop. Woof, woof!


Our Valiant Esprit Nordic 37 Blade was not able to make the Ha-Ha this year because we were unable to get her repowered in time for the start of the event.

We ordered the new Yanmar engine and ZF transmission on January 15 of this year as the first step in a refit, figuring that would be ample time to get the engine installed and shake our boat down. That's why our boat was one of the earliest entries in the Ha-Ha.

After the boatyard pulled our engine, we waited seven months for Yanmar to ship us the engine. During this time we were given promises of the engine's imminent arrival through the distribution chain. These promises always proved to be false, until the engine arrived last month. The yard is still working on the re-power.

We find it rather ironic that we chose to re-power here in San Diego rather than risk having it done outside the country 'where parts may be hard to get'.

Folks in the distribution channel tell us that Yanmar simply cut its factory output during the recession, yet kept booking orders and promising delivery dates as though they were at full production.

Are there similar Yanmar stories that you're aware of?

Ed & Karen Lare
Blade, Valiant Esprit Nordic 37
San Diego

Ed and Karen — Assuming that everything you tell us is true, we find it disturbing. It's one thing for a manufacturer to trim production because of a recession, but to be repeatedly promised delivery of something that doesn't arrive would make us angry.

While we haven't had any similar reports about Yanmar, the owner of the Baltic 55 Wyspa took us aside at the Ha-Ha Kick-Off Party to tell us that he wouldn't be able to make the start of the Ha-Ha either. He said that he'd ordered some replacement rod rigging from Navtec months before, but hadn't received it. He was very, very unhappy.

As for us on Profligate, we were unable to get five gallons of a special water-based deck paint from Henderson Paint that we'd used previously and liked very much. They said they weren't going to make any more until they got enough orders. Great.

Manufacturers and distributors naturally want to carry as little inventory as possible during hard economic times. While it's good for their bottom line, we hope they understand that it's not good for consumer morale, particularly for those who can't use alternative products.


Today I was riding the bus from La Cruz, where we keep our Catalina 42 at the Nayarit Riviera Marina, to Punta Mita, where my wife Gilly and I have a condo. For whatever reason, while riding on one of the cheap buses that comes by every 15 minutes, I was overwhelmed by how much I love Mexico. There are a few little annoyances down here, but overall Mexico is where I want to be. When I got home, I enthusiastically told Gilly that I never want to leave Mexico. It makes me sick that the U.S. media and the State Department do not provide an accurate picture of what's going on in Mexico outside of the drug wars.

John Foy
Destiny, Catalina 42
Alameda / Punta de Mita, Mexico

John — If we were into conspiracy theories, we'd believe that the U.S. media and government attacks on Toyota, and the misinformation spread about Mexico, were part of a combined effort by the U.S. government, the auto industry, the United Auto Workers, and the U.S. tourism industry to keep U.S. dollars from leaving the country.


A quick note from someone who's not paranoid about going to Mexico. I honestly don't know whether the accounts of shoot-outs, kidnappings and mass murders reported in the press are as sensationalized as I think they are, but I'm way skeptical. We drove through Tijuana about two weeks ago, and there was nothing strange or terrible to see. Ensenada, our destination, was, well, like Ensenada, a modest, working-class city with a small tourist area down near the Embarcadero. We were looking at a boat berthed in Cruiseport Marina, which has been recently upgraded and looks great.

One thing people should know is that the marinas in Mexico have a regular security staff that patrol the docks and generally make sure all is well. We've had some outstanding help from them, and from the dockmasters, particularly one evening several years ago when our then-new-to-us Cherubini 44 dream boat started siphoning water in through the bilge pump discharge line. In the middle of the night, the marina staff rallied their people and equipment — including a fire pump — to take control of the leak and keep our boat afloat until we could figure out what was going on.

Maybe it's that kind of experience, along with the polite manners and genuine kindness we've experienced in Mexico, that makes the scare-stories seem so unreal. Cruisers live closer to the culture than four-night-vacation hotel tourists, and even they are more informed than the people whose experience of Mexico is confined to some Phoenix Cultural Museum. (I don't actually know that there is one, since most people in Phoenix don't appear to be aware that there is a Mexican culture.) The only comfort we can take is that the people who believe the anti-Mexico propaganda won't go to Mexico, and will thus reduce the competition for space and services. Here's a thought — maybe we should make up a few rumors and keep the ignorant and bigoted up here in the States while we enjoy the good life in Mexico.

No place, of course, is completely safe, and anyone traveling anywhere — including the United States — is well-advised not to wander about where they don't know the neighborhood. I've spent most of my life in New York and Los Angeles, and there are places in both cities I would not go after dark — and a few I would fear to venture into during daylight. Hell, there are places in both cities that even the cops avoid during the day. But I'm not panicked in my home or on my boat, and I feel exactly the same way about Mexico. Except Mexico feels safer than the States.

Just thought you might like to hear from someone who likes Latitude, thinks the Ha-Ha is a great annual migration, and actually wants to sail to Mexico — hopefully next year.

Bob Schilling
Tuckernuck, Cherubini 44
Long Beach

Bob — Thanks for the kind words. As soon as we got to Turtle Bay, the first stop in the Ha-Ha, we started feeling the love and warmth of the people of Mexico. It was like a gentle warm wave washing over us. And with subsequent stops at Bahia Santa Maria, Cabo San Lucas, and Punta Mita, the feeling of love has just gotten stronger. Until you've been to Mexico, it's hard to understand how almost universally nice a population can be to complete strangers. The unpleasant truth is that people with rotten dispositions are as common in the States as they are rare in Mexico.

Make no mistake, there is a narco war going on in Mexico between factions battling to supply the never-ending illicit drug needs of Americans. But as has been pointed out many times, this terrible violence has almost exclusively taken place away from tourist areas, and in particular, away from the Pacific Coast of Mexico. So we have no more fear about our personal safety in Mexico than when we drive past East Oakland or the Bayview District of San Francisco on our way to local airports. In fact, much less fear. But if the situation along the Pacific Coast of Mexico changes in any way, we'll make sure Latitude readers are among the first to know.

We're not alone in feeling the way we do. The other night we stopped by former cruiser — aboard the Cal 36 Cherokee, to Mexico and the South Pacific — Philo Hayward's bar and music venue in La Cruz, where we laughed and danced with about 100 current and former cruisers. Everybody talked about how great it was to be beginning another season in Mexico, how delicious the street tacos are, how delightful the weather has been, and how wonderful the people are. None of these people — almost all of whom are retirees and therefore more vulnerable than others — expressed any concern about their personal safety. But for those in the States who are freaked out by sensationalized and inaccurate reports about the dangers faced by visitors to the Pacific Coast of Mexico, our advice is simple: stay home.


As a female singlehanded sailor, I have read with interest the various comments and questions regarding safety in Mexico. On occasion I've had to smile, and yes, I've even had to laugh out loud.

I have survived the '09 Ha-Ha and two seasons of cruising in Mexican waters, and I have never feared for my personal safety — except maybe from Mother Nature. Singlehanding from Mazatlan to Manzanillo, I have found the Mexican people to be more than helpful. I have been approached by panganeros who just wanted to let me know that the Coke bottle floats I'd been studiously avoiding were nets on the bottom and so I didn't have to worry about entangling lines in my prop. Boy, was that a relief.

When going to town to provision, my greatest fear was whether I would get on the correct bus to get back to my beached dinghy. When I mentioned it to the bus driver, he said, "No problema," and dropped me off directly across the street from my beached dinghy.

While anchored off La Cruz, I was approached by two men in a boat. As thoughts of pirates, rape, death and destruction flitted through my mind, they merely asked if I needed my boat bottom cleaned. Indeed, Southwind's bearded bottom did need a trim.

I practice common sense — what a concept — when it comes to personal safety. For example, I don't advertise on the radio that I'm traveling alone — which is why I sometimes mention 'Ray', my autopilot crew. I don't stay late in town when I'm alone. I don't wear flashy jewelry or carry loads of cash. I don't do drugs or get falling down drunk. I stay on the beaten path and don't wander into the more rundown neighborhoods. As anywhere in the world, there is always a criminal element, but I feel as though I could as easily be mugged in San Diego as in Mexico. I have never once been more afraid for my safety in Mexico than I have back in the States.

For those who are afraid they will be victims of personal violence along the Pacific Coast of Mexico, I recommend that you stay on your boat back in your berth in the States. You can always read Latitude and vicariously enjoy the grand adventures of others cruising in Mexico. I know I'll be reading Latitude, wishing and dreaming that I were back on the hook at Secret Spot #29, deciding whether to go snorkeling or just pop a beer and enjoy the view. Heck, I'd probably do both.

The one thing I know is that I'll be returning to Mexico. What a scary thought!

Jean Gregory
Southwind, Islander 36

Readers — Jean is one of a number of women skippers who have cruised or are still cruising in Mexico. Some singlehand, others often take crew.


Thanks for all the work you do, not only for Latitude, but also for the Ha-Ha. I thought about doing the Ha-Ha as crew in '94, but took a position on a boat in the '95 Tahiti Cup instead.

I also strongly agree with your characterization of the crime rate in Mexico compared to California or the U.S. in general — which is that you're more likely to be killed by gunfire in California or the rest of the United States than you are in Mexico.

However, I do take issue with your statement regarding potential 'crime' in Cabo San Lucas. "After midnight," you wrote, "there will no doubt be a few people offering to sell pot, as well as a few pickpockets and hookers." I thought you were a libertarian? Why demonize non-violent, victimless crimes like drugs and prostitution? If someone offers drugs or sex and you're not interested, you simply say, "No thanks" or "Gracias." That leaves the pickpockets, which can be found anywhere in the world.

Jeff Hoffman
San Francisco

Jeff — Thanks for the kind words.

While our sentiments are generally libertarian, we're also realists. In the case of street drug dealers and street prostitutes, we're generally not talking about people making personal choices, but street crime. No matter where in the world people are selling drugs or sex on the street, they are invariably desperate people willing to do desperate things to get money or drugs for themselves. When sex is offered in a controlled environment, such as in parts of Amsterdam, or when drugs are sold in a controlled environment, as they are supposed to be at some dispensaries in California, a "No thanks" will suffice. But when dealing with desperate people on the street, particularly late at night, a kindly "No thanks" is often not an answer they can accept. And the chance of violence escalates exponentially. It's not much different in the case of late night pickpockets. Avoiding places where desperate people gather is, in our opinion, a much better way to avoid trouble and violence than hoping a desperate person will accept a "No thanks" at 2 a.m.


All of Costa Rica is a beehive of pirates and thieves. It's best to skip it.

Victor Manuel Guerra Ortíz

Victor — Do we detect a whiff of sarcasm in your letter? While there hasn't been a history of violent attacks on cruisers in Costa Rica, and countless cruisers have enjoyed the land of Pura Vida for years without being the victim of a crime, we can't ignore the fact that Bruce Stevens and Clark Nicholson were attacked and restrained on their Gulfstar 50 Two Amigos at Quepos. We're not saying that this is a reason to avoid Costa Rica, but we think it's a reason for cruisers to exercise more caution by doing things like anchoring near other boats and keeping an eye on one another.

We don't have the statistics to back it up, but our impression is that, while violent crime against innocent foreigners has always been rare in Mexico and Costa Rica, there has been more of it in the latter than the former, and that robberies and petty theft have always been a much greater problem in Costa Rica. If anybody has an opposing opinion, we'd love to hear from you.


I read with amusement the October 22 'Lectronic titled "How To NOT Win Friends," in which you reported about a couple of people who claimed that Latitude 'manages' the sailing news to, in some way, further your business.

It seems to me that neither of the two letters you describe could have possibly come from regular readers of your fine magazine. In fact, it was Latitude's good record of reporting unfortunate events that befall cruisers that prompted me to call Latitude's offices from my Iridium phone five years ago. I'd been attacked on my boat in Puerto Madera, Mexico, and I knew even back then that Latitude was the best venue for alerting other cruisers about a potential danger spot.

Good or bad, Latitude reports it all. Keep up the good work and know that most of us longtime readers know the incredible job that Latitude does.

Andy Kurtz
Angelique, Columbia 57

Andy — Thanks for the kind words. When we started Latitude in '77, most boating publications, in the words of one editor, "didn't do death." Nor did they seem to want to report about other on-the-water misfortunes. We've always believed that the truth sets you free — or at least as free as you can be. As such, in any given situation, we want to know the facts, not have things sugar-coated or information withheld. Given the facts, we can then make our own decision about accepting the risks of following a course of action. We naturally assume that everybody thinks the way we do, so when sailors or boats are lost, we report it the best we can. We've always believed that this makes Latitude a better magazine, and in the long run more appealing to advertisers.


When I used to go boating on the Sacramento Delta six years ago, I looked forward to each new issue of Latitude. Then I moved to the Arizona desert, and didn't see a Latitude for years. Since I found you online, I read it all the time, and it brings back many fond memories. Thanks.

Harrison Orr
La Paz Valley, AZ

Harrison — You're welcome. Even folks who read the hard copy versions of Latitude should check out the online version, because the photos — which we take a lot of pride in — are much more smashing online. To get a good comparison, see how much better Lindsay, our cover girl, looks online than in newsprint.


If you follow the logic of your making Jerry Garcia a member of Latitude's Missing Digit Club, then I should be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Captain Chris Larsen
USCG Master 25 Gross Tons Near Coastal

Chris — Not exactly. Jerry Garcia makes it into Latitude's Missing Digit Club by virtue of proximity. As we reported, he often blocked the driveway to Latitude's office in order to see the chiropractor next door or to grab a handful of candy bars at the 7-Eleven around the corner. If you frequently blocked the driveway of the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, you could probably make the 'proximity' claim to them for induction, too.


We hope that everyone had the best Baja Ha-Ha ever.

For the record, for the past eight years my wife, Karen, and our crew of nine children lived aboard our 64-ft schooner Arctic Ark in Panama, Mexico, and many places in between. And for the last few years we've been based out of Guaymas. We've never had a problem anywhere. We've always treated people as we ourselves would like to be treated, and follow the Golden Rule aboard our boat as well.

We want to thank you for your great interest in sailing, and for encouraging others to get into the wind.

Tom Williams
Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico

Tom — On behalf of everyone who did the Ha-Ha, thank you for the kind welcome to Mexico. And thank you for the kind and reassuring words. We hope to cross paths with you and your family in the near future — perhaps when we're up in the Sea of Cortez in May.


Luke, my shipmate aboard El Tiburon in the Ha-Ha, mentioned that you've been using your iPad on your boat. How do you like it? I was told to go with iNavX navigation program. Is that the one you use? I'm also wondering how to best integrate with our AIS and Furuno knotmeter-water temp-anemometer. Any suggestions?

Andrew McDonald, Ph.D.

Andrew — People can mock us all they want, but our iPad has become a near-essential part of our lives. And we use it almost exclusively for news, knowledge and business. Two of the other 11 members of the Profligate crew for the Ha-Ha brought iPads, and they love theirs as much as we love ours.

Many of the iPad apps require being connected to the internet, of course, so you lose much of the product's capabilities offshore. It would be nice, for example, if Shipfinder worked offshore, but it doesn't. So thank goodness for AIS.

The iPad does have the built-in GPS, so you can use most of the navigation programs. We somehow stumbled onto the Navionics navigation program first, and have been using that exclusively. It's terrific, as you get tons of charts for almost nothing, it's rocket fast, it's super clear, and it's easy to use. We primarily use it in our bunk to monitor the speed and course our boat is going while we're off watch. But sometimes we bring it up to the nav station because we find it easier to use than Doña de Mallorca's beloved Nobeltec on her computer. NavX has a history of great products, and we have it on our iPad, so before long we hope to become acquainted with it. If we're not mistaken, only iNavX has an anchor alarm, which is a great feature to have with you in your bunk when on the hook.

We enjoy being seat-of-the-pants sailors, so we don't even have our masthead windspeed and wind direction units hooked up. As such, we're the last people in the world to ask about how to integrate normal marine instruments — assuming it can be done — with the iPad. Can any experts out there help us?

As for those people who laugh at the iPad, trust us, before long you'll have some generation of an iPad or an iPad-like device, and you'll have a hard time believing that you lived without it.


We just spent a couple of great months in the San Blas, and are looking forward to getting back to Zihua for the February 1-6 cruiser SailFest. Is there anything we need to know or can offer in the way of assistance?

We hope you have another great Ha-Ha and Puddle Jump.

Jim, Emma, Phoebe & Drake Mather
Blue Sky, Down East 45
Rendondo Beach

Dear Folks — Zihua SailFest is perhaps the most successful cruiser fundraiser in Mexico, and serves a terrific cause, which is the education of kids in the Zihua area who wouldn't otherwise get one. However, it's almost entirely dependent on a new group of cruisers taking charge and making it happen each year. This being the case, it's very helpful if some folks can get to Zihua a month or so in advance and get the organizational ball rolling. It's important to note that all funds raised have gotten matching grants in the past, so every dollar raised really means two dollars have been raised.

Zihua SailFest was conceived as a lark by the Wanderer — "Hey, for something different this season, let's all sail down to Zihua and have a three-day regatta and make it a little fundraiser for some good cause." Based on that wisp of an idea, some very talented, dedicated, and altruistic cruisers created something terrific. And with each passing year, a mostly new group of cruisers took over and built it into an even greater event. If this is your year, your help will be greatly appreciated.


I'm starting to plan for next year's Baja Ha-Ha, and am wondering if the dates for Number 18 have been set yet. If not, will you tell me when they'll be announced?

Zach Sherry
El Cerrito

Zach — Just before heading off to hibernation until May 1, the Ha-Ha folks told us that Ha-Ha 18 will depart San Diego on October 24, 2011. We hope to see you there.


Oh, Wanderer, my friend, you are no expert on the topic of U.S. fisheries. Your October issue response to P. Meyerhof, who said world populations of shark have been decimated, left out a ton of pertinent information.

For instance, noting that only 25% of the amount of shark is being harvested now as compared with '01 leaves out the fact that there are now far fewer fishermen targeting shark, and far fewer commercial fishermen in California. It may be true that the greatest amount of shark was harvested in '82, but you have to remember that back then the season opened on May 1 and there were few restrictions. It was a decade later that all net fishing was banned in state waters, and California Fish & Game biologist Dennis Bedford banned all shark fishing within 75 miles of shore from May 1 to August 15, as this is when the thresher sharks come inshore to mate and bear their young.

Nowadays there is a huge sport fishery in Southern California that targets thresher sharks during, you guessed it, the May through August period when sharks come inshore to mate and bear their young.

You also need to note that in '00, shark fishing was closed from Pt. Sur to Newport, Oregon, effectively creating a pelagic fish reserve of tens of thousands of square miles.

Fisheries in California and the rest of U.S. are being managed under strict sustainable guidelines. But don't take my word for it, call an official at the Department of Fish & Game.

Tim Mulcahy
F/V Calogera

Readers — Tim is right, after all these years we should have known that there would be much more to the story than just the basic facts. Our apologies. Tim is also right that he's an old friend. Although it's been more than 45 years, we can still remember paddling out on a big day at Rincon and seeing Tim charging down a steep face right at us. He's been fishing and we've been sailing almost ever since.


In the October 20 'Lectronic, you seemed to say that hurricane season was over. Well, it ain't over until it's over. In the first week of December of '82, there was a storm out of the southwest with 50 knots of wind and 18-ft seas at Cabo San Lucas that left two dozen boats on the beach, including Bernard Moistessier's famous Joshua. And, in October 30 of '84, the new Tule Bridge came down as a result of record wind and rain.

Planet Earth

Anonymous — We started that report by saying, "We're not knowledgeable enough to know if cooler than normal water temperatures are the cause, but it sure has been a mild hurricane season for Mexico." To us, that meant the hurricane season was still ongoing. It wasn't as if we wrote, ". . . it sure was a mild hurricane season." But we'll try to be clearer in the future.

For the record, neither the 'Storm of '82' that hit Cabo, nor the one in October of '84 that brought down the Tule Bridge, was a hurricane nor was either associated with a tropical storm. In the case of the Cabo storm of '82, it came out of the east, not the southwest. Cabo — as folks who did this year's Ha-Ha can tell you — is wide open to the east but, as you can see from the accompanying chart, is reasonably well protected from winds from the southwest.

Easterly winds are rare at Cabo, which is why so many cruisers — including the great Moitessier — were caught with their pants down in '82. We arrived at Cabo two days after the storm, covered the disaster extensively for Latitude, and even helped Bernard shovel a little sand out of Joshua before he sold her to 'Rado the Swiss' for $1. The consensus of those who had been on the hook was that the winds had topped out at about 45 knots during the 12 hours or so that it blew hard, and before it was over, well defined waves of 8 to 12 feet broke through the more shallow parts of the anchorage. Many of the boats that ended up on the beach did so only as a result of other boats dragging into them and/or pulling their anchors free.

Some people assume that tropical storms and hurricanes are the only wind dangers in the normally benign waters of the Pacific Coast of Mexico. That's not true, as storm cells — often very small ones — have come through with devastating effect even during the normally mild winter months. For example, at the height of last year's cruising season, Banderas Bay was hit by a brief storm cell that brought winds up to 70 knots. Fortunately no boats were lost, but heavy teak patio furniture at condos out at Punta Mita was blown off balconies and into swimming pools. And in the spring of '01, the anchored fleet at Zihua was hit by a brief storm cell with winds in excess of 50 knots. In neither case was there much warning of what was to come.

When we did the Long Beach YC Rally/Race to Cabo in '93, the fleet was briefly held up in Turtle Bay because a storm had devastated the Cape. It's believed that 600 people living in the flood plain next to San Jose del Cabo were killed, scores of cars were flushed into the marina at Cabo, and the sea was littered with huge cacti, dead cattle and the like. Once again, this was not a tropical storm or hurricane.

Hurricane season means different things to different people. In the case of insurance companies that insure cruising boats, the season in Mexico is over by November 1 — or a week earlier for the boats entered in the Ha-Ha. For sportfishing boats in the Bisbee Black & Blue tournament, insurance is available even earlier. On the other hand, some weather folks say hurricane season doesn't end until the middle or even the end of November. Of course, that doesn't mean that there haven't been hurricanes off the Pacific Coast of Mexico in December, just that they are very rare and haven't had much punch. The good news is that, thanks to modern weather forecasting and communications, few mariners get caught by surprise these days.


Do you have contact info for Amy Boyer? Amy is my aunt and we lost touch after I moved to France 10 years ago. She skippered the Wilderness 21 Little Rascal in the '70s while she was still a teen. That would make her 51 years old now. If you don't know where she is, could you ask others if they do? Replies could be emailed to me.

Heather Powers
Paris, France

Heather — The last we heard of Amy, she was involved in skiing, sailing, and other outdoor adventure activities in the Vancouver-Whistler area. It's our understanding that she still reads Latitude from time to time, so there's a decent chance you might hear from her.

For those not familiar with Amy, perhaps a little background is in order, as she was in the thick of the rapid evolution of Northern California sailing some 30+ years ago. In the spring of '77, former navy pilot, adventurer, and budding entrepreneur George Sigler started a sailing gear company of sorts in Oakland called Survival & Safety. In order to boost the outfit's profile, he and his partner started the Singlehanded Farallones Race. It might seem laughable now, but this was in the early days of singlehanding, and many sailing experts thought the event represented the height of irresponsible seamanship and that many participants would die. As it turned out, the first fleet was a healthy one, but got creamed by winds to 45 knots and big seas. As we remember, there were about 70 entries, but only about a dozen of them — including Latitude columnist Max Ebb — finished. It was also noteworthy because Bill Lee, who had just launched the 67-ft Merlin, the first large ultralight sled, had the balls to singlehand his largely untested boat in such challenging conditions. Lee made the run home from the Farallones at an average of 14 knots while under greatly shortened white sails, and was first to finish by a large margin. In those days the race finished well down the Oakland Estuary because it was close to the Survival & Safety store.

Despite the fact that several boats were dismasted, at least one multihull flipped, and hardly anyone finished, the always enthusiastic Sigler thought the only logical next step was a singlehanded race to Hawaii. And thus the Singlehanded TransPac was born.

Always looking to generate publicity, Sigler arranged for the cute, shapely, and adventurous 19-year Amy Boyer to sail in the event on a Freya 39 he had chartered. But just days before the start, Sigler chickened out, and gave the boat to Bill Collins, a school administrator from Berkeley. Seventeen or so days after the start, everyone but Collins had finished, and it was feared that he'd been lost at sea. In reality, in those pre-SatNav and pre-GPS days, Collins had sailed past Kauai, and needed several days to sail back upwind against the trades to the Hanalei Bay finish line. Collins, by the way, later moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he became successful in a number of businesses, including a waterfront cart in Charlotte Amalie that served up the best damned BBQ in the Caribbean.

Having been yanked from the Singlehanded TransPac at the last minute, Boyer was as pissed as only a young woman of the '70s who felt she'd been discriminated against because of her gender could be. So when she learned that Norton Smith of Mill Valley, who had won the Singlehanded TransPac with his Santa Cruz 27 Solitaire, was having Tom Wylie design him the 20-ft American Express for the first ever Mini-Transat, from England to the Canary Islands and then from the Canary Islands to Antigua, she saw it as a way to prove herself and get the last laugh. Somehow she managed to scrape enough money together to buy the Wilderness 20 Little Rascal and ship her to the starting line in England.

Once again, it must be remembered that this was way back in the early days of singlehanded sailing, let alone singlehanding in very small boats from England to the Eastern Caribbean. By necessity, navigation was done with a sextant, and there was no radio communication with land or other competitors. Reliable EPIRBs didn't exist. Boyer did herself — as well as her youth and gender — proud with fine finishes in both legs. Smith, of course, won the whole dang thing.

Little Rascal was brought back to the West Coast so Boyer could compete in the '80 Singlehanded TransPac. She finished second in class and third overall, but was still too young to legally drink champagne to celebrate her finish. To our knowledge, that was the last time she was in the sailing spotlight.

Had Boyer been French and sailing out of France, she would have become a household name, if not a national hero. In the United States, she and her noteworthy achievements became known to only a few.


I saw the report in the November 12 'Lectronic that Lake County's Sheriff Rod Mitchell was ousted by voters last month after 16 years in office. Apparently a lot of Lake County residents believed he'd gone too far in protecting Deputy Russell Perdock, his number two man, after Perdock slammed his powerboat into a sailboat on a black night, resulting in the death of sailor Lynn Thornton.

Latitude 38 played a huge role in overcoming the extreme prejudice and injustice of the case. As an old sailor, I want to thank you for your journalistic dedication to truth, justice and the American way. You guys and gals are super people.

Fred Frey
San Mateo County

Fred — Thank you so much for the compliments. It's not so much that we overcame prejudice and injustice, but rather we were instrumental in beating the drum so that the facts of the case became better and more widely known.

As most readers know, on the pitch black evening of April 29, 2006, on Clear Lake in Lake County, Deputy Sheriff Russell Perdock slammed his personal speedboat at a very high speed into the side of a near stationary O'Day 27, Beats Workin' II, with Bismarck Dinius at the helm, at very high speed. Fifty-one-year-old Lynn Thornton, a guest on the sailboat, suffered such severe injuries that she died three days later.

Defying all common sense, Dinius, who did nothing wrong and could have done nothing to prevent the accident, was charged with manslaughter by Lake County District Attorney Jon E. Hopkins, while Perdock, who admitted to driving blind, wasn't charged at all. Charges were later reduced to felony BUI resulting in death, and Dinius was ultimately acquitted last year, but the cost of his defense left him broke. It was, in our opinion, one of the most heinous travesties of justice, and has greatly diminished our confidence in the integrity of law enforcement and government.


I laughed heartily at the 'Heads Up — No Paper in the Toilet' letter. We sail an '83 Catalina 38, which is roughly the same size and vintage that the anonymous author of the letter said he and his lady were thinking about buying and going cruising on. From the get-go, the rule on this, our first sailboat, has been, 'If you haven't eaten it or drunk it, it doesn't go in the head.' We reinforce this rule with a threat: anyone who clogs the head gets to help us dismantle and unclog it. The policy has worked for us.

We keep a small, opaque, lidded and plastic bag-lined garbage can in our head — exactly like the one in the photo of Profligate's head. And we make sure that everyone on board knows they are to use it for toilet paper, seasick bags (plastic newspaper bags, on our boat) or personal hygiene products of any kind. It's emptied daily into the main garbage bin in the galley, and if we're nowhere near proper shoreside garbage disposal, it goes into the deep lazarette.

Perhaps Anonymous doesn't realize how small the head outlet hose is. It's about one-fourth the area — in cross-section — of a shoreside sewer line, and therefore correspondingly easier to clog — especially when you consider how many people regularly use enough TP per sitting to wipe a few dozen dirty bums.

We don't get grossed out putting TP in the basket. After all, whatever goes into the head garbage bin is something that just came out of us, and thus not likely to poison us — or even give us cooties. There's antibacterial soap in the head which, of course, we always use after a sitting on the throne.

Use the inside shower on a boat in the tropics? Why?! For us, one of great delights of being in the tropics is the daily ritual of jumping overboard into 80? water, lathering up on the swim step, jumping back overboard to rinse, and finishing with a freshwater rinse on the transom. We wouldn't have it any other way!

My spouse and I have been together for 17 years, and therefore know just about everything there is to know about each other's not-so-pretty animal functions that many Americans try to pretend don't exist. We're also familiar with the smells, noises, and visuals. It's called living together. And life is even more intimate on a sailboat — or indeed, on any boat smaller than Maltese Falcon.

Cruising on a boat the size of ours is very much like camping. We actually call it aqua-camping — and we love it! If Anonymous wants to buy a floating hotel, he will have to look a lot higher in the price range. A few mil should do it.

Peggy Droesch
Poco Loco, Catalina 38
Point Richmond

Peggy — The 'camping' description reminds us of a comment in Latitude a few months back by Jane Pimentel, who is cruising the Med with her husband and two boys aboard their Leopard 47 Azure. The family also has a Cal 40 in California. Jane described cruising on the Cal 40 as camping on the water, and cruising aboard their catamaran as being like RV-ing on the water.


There is a DAN (Diver's Alert Network) insurance plan that includes a clause for $10,000 of coverage in the event of a non-diving accident. I use that policy while traveling, and even while living on our boat in Mexico. Just to make sure I was covered, I specifically told a DAN rep that I was seeking coverage for a possible non-diving accident while living/visiting out of the country. They confirmed that their policy covered it.

P.S. Love Latitude!

Kim Cordes

Kim — Thanks for the kind words and information. There are many places in the world where $10,000 of health coverage would go a long way. For the record, DAN is a non-profit company that primarily provides 24/7 diving accident medical consultations, as well as low-cost medevac insurance. Several Latitude readers who are DAN members report very positive experiences with their coverage.


For those who might be interested, I've enclosed some photos of a haulout technique we've used in both Mexico and Northern California.

The first photo shows some planks on the beach at low tide, weighted down and ready for the tide to come up. In the background are the anchor lines already run out approximately 300 feet to the port and starboard sides of Ingwe, a 38-ft wood Atkins Ingrid ketch. I dug the anchors into the sand and made sure they were firmly set. The anchor rode was connected to the halyards, then winched up very tight. Before the water level dropped too far, we tried to break it out by jumping the lines while keeping an eye on our anchors, which were set toward the high tide line. The lines didn't give and the anchors looked good, so we sat back and waited for the tide to drop.

The second photo shows the boat upright on the beach. With the tide dropping, she was ready for painting. The final photo shows the last of the paint going on. The plank under the gunwale was there to make us feel better; the anchor rodes to the masthead did all the work of keeping the boat upright.

The hardware, halyards, and rodes all, of course, have to be in excellent shape in order to do this, but if the boat is kept as upright as possible, the loads involved are actually very low. In fact, the biggest load would be created by wind on the beam, but masts are strong enough to take it.

The only proviso is that the beach needs to be very firm. No mud allowed!

Sorry that the photos aren't better.

Jay Gardner
Ingwe, Atkins Ingrid Ketch
San Francisco Bay

Jay — The other probable requirement is that no government officials see you. We're not sure where you could do something like this with your boat in California anymore. A friend had his cat sit on her keels when the tide went out at Catalina in order to simply change the oil in a saildrive unit, and was promptly told that this was a 'no-no'. Has anyone been more successful recently?


I just finished reading the 'yardage' you gave Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu. I'm going to copy it and send it to Governor Linda Lingle's office with a cover letter. Several years ago, I wrote the governor about the need to do something about improving Ala Wai Yacht Harbor. I received a nice reply, but no action. All the credit for the improvements that have happened so far must be given to the late Roy Disney, who wrote much the same that I did, but actually got some action. The result is that we now have new slips to replace the ones we had installed 40 years ago when I was Commodore of the Hawaii YC.

Back in the '70s, the Harbor's Commission presented a plan that didn't make much sense, so we formed a committee of yachtsmen — including John Guzzwell — and presented an alternate plan that was accepted. What we have in that part of the Ala Wai now is very nice, but the rest of the harbor has an increasing number of slips that have been condemned and are empty — despite the fact that there continues to be a long waiting list for slips. I haven't heard of any plans to repair the condemned slips or build new ones.

By the way, a fellow who wrote in identified himself as a member of the "Honolulu YC." You said you'd never heard of it and couldn't find any mention of it on the internet. I was the Commodore of the Honolulu YC in '45-'46, The club was taken over to be a crash boat station during World War II, and they built us a structure that stood on the current site of the Ilikai Hotel next to the marina. It was very nice, with showers and storage lockers. We had to vacate the building after the war, and I sold the cinder brick flooring to the boys who were forming the Waikiki YC. The Waikiki YC has done very well in the years since then.

I'll soon be sending you a report on my efforts to get the TransPac Headquarters building — which I was instrumental in getting built in '67 — fixed up. Right now, it looks like some of the worst buckets tied up in the harbor, and I hope you might be able to give the cause a push. The various clubs are trying to raise money for the job, and as we built it ourselves, we should be maintaining it.

You will note that I now live in the Northwest. I moved here in '80 after living in Hawaii for 38 years and raising a family there. They all ended up here after college, so I followed them to stay close. But I still get over to Hawaii and try to help the cause. By the way, I sailed in the '53 and '67 TransPacs, and the '70 and '72 Congressional Cup Races. I'm now 87, but still enjoy keeping tabs on it all.

Bud Thompson
Pacific Northwest



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