Latitude home Latitude 38

Back to 'Letters' Index Letters
December 2013

Missing the pictures? See our December 2013 eBook!
Bookmark and Share


I see the San Francisco Marina Small Craft Harbor is actively soliciting new tenants. It was long rumored that there was a 17-year waiting list, at least until the City changed the rules to be the most boater-unfriendly, unreasonable and expensive — $16/foot/month — marina in the Bay Area. Maybe the waiting list will be a lot shorter now.

In the interest of full disclosure, I think they should talk about the following marina 'features':

• You cannot sublease or 'lend' the berth, even for a short time.

• You can only register one boat to a berth. So if you own a sailboat and a motorboat, for example, and want to change from one to the other, you have to take out a new 'license' each time.

• Only one vessel is allowed in the berth. Dinghies aren't allowed, even if they fit.

• Your license is only good for one year. It has to be renewed each year.

• When you sell your boat, you lose the berth — unless you pay an extraordinarily high transfer fee to the City. The fee is $365/foot, so that's $14,600 for a 40-ft berth.

• There is just one public bathroom and it's far away from many berths.

• There are no carts.

• There is very limited parking.

• Due to many activities on the Marina Green, there is often limited or no access on many weekend mornings.

I'm afraid they will not fill the harbor unless the rules and conditions are modified to be more user-friendly.

Name Withheld by Request
San Francisco

N.W.B.R. — It seems to us that you are combining three somewhat separate issues.

First, there is the matter of the new transfer fee. For as long as we can remember, folks with boats in the most popular marinas on the coast — such as San Francisco and Santa Barbara — have been able to demand premiums when selling their boats if the prized slip could go with boat. For example, a High Winds 40 that might have a market value of $60,000 in marinas with less-than-full occupancy might command $100,000 or more if she came with a slip in San Francisco or Santa Barbara. Buyers were usually willing to pay this premium because, based on history, they could be pretty confident that not only would they be able to charge a premium for the boat when they sold her with a slip, the premium would likely go up over time. Alas, various government agencies that control the slips and moorings from San Francisco to Newport Beach finally decided that private individuals have been profiting more from the public berths/moorings than they had a right to, and that the government should get a cut. In addition, they realized that such profiteering from berth/mooring rights discouraged the turnover of slips, denying new people access to the water. We find it hard to argue with the government agencies.

San Francisco, Monterey and Santa Barbara are among those places that have instituted one form or another of transfer fee. The two things we can say with certainty are that there never was going to be a perfect solution to what had become a genuine problem, and that those who paid a full premium for a slip in recent years are really getting the short end of the financial stick. They probably lost half of the premium they paid. You have our sympathy if you are one of them.

The second issue is the rules. Based on our experience, the more desirable a marina, the easier it is for the operator to be more rigid about the rules, which tends to make life easier for them. While the rules for the S.F. Small Craft Marina are certainly not as lenient or user-friendly as those at half-filled or family-owned marinas in more remote locations, only one rule you cited strikes us as being unusually draconian. We're referring to the one that requires that berthholders get a new 'license' for their boat each year. Our guess is that this was put in so the City will have a means by which to get rid of problem berthers.

The third issue is the lack of parking and facilities, and the difficulty in getting access when there are events going on at the Marina Green. Welcome to San Francisco 2013! The City is one of the most desirable and overcrowded urban areas in the States, fueled by the astonishing tech and social media boom. There is naturally great demand for public spaces and public facilities — many people are living in closets or 15 to a house. Small wonder public facilities are being overwhelmed. You again have our sympathy, as we also wish San Francisco were stuck in a 1967 time warp.

As to whether the marina will fill, and if the City has set the prices too high and made the rules too rigid, only time will tell. Our suspicion is that in a city where countless people are willing to pay $2,000 to live in a closet, there will be plenty of people willing to pay $640 for a 40-ft slip, or half that with a partner. After all, in the wildly overcrowded and congested Bay Area, it seems like a reasonable price to pay to be able to have a convenient sanctuary from the hordes, one where you can so quickly and easily keep your 'escape vehicle' to what are certainly the finest sailing waters in the world. Nor is it going to hurt that the new berths are a long overdue, tremendous improvement on the old ones.


I had the pleasure of meeting Latitude's Andy 'Mr. Puddle Jump' Turpin at this year's Puddle Jump Rally from Papeete to Moorea, in which we finished third. He kindly labeled us "the quick Aussie tri" in the August Latitude. I would like to comment on a couple of topics from the October issue.

First, careening. The accompanying photo shows Triton, our previous trimaran, which was built in Australia, in the foreground, with the tri Highlight, owned by Kiwi John Glennie of 119 Days Adrift fame. Both our boats were Piver Lodestars, and both of us were waiting for the tide to go out so we could scrape and repaint our bottoms. Here's the surprise: we had put the two tris on the beach at Angel Island. It was 1969, so nobody gave us any trouble. In fact, we attracted a pretty friendly crowd. If we did that today, we'd probably be taken straight to jail. I hope the statute of limitations has expired.

During my first Pacific cruise from 1967-73, we careened our Piver Lodestar trimaran in many places — New Zealand, the Marquesas, Hawaii, Angel Island, Mexico and Costa Rica. Bottom paint was only $11/gallon in Costa Rica, so we did it every six months. We couldn't careen her in Tahiti because there is no significant difference in the tides.

We are, of course, so much more environmentally aware that we wouldn't do that sort of thing anymore. Besides, the four-foot deep rudder on my current tri won't let me beach her, so I have to use huge and expensive Travelifts.

Second topic: Tax assessors. I had a very similar experience to that of Mike of Valinor, but with the Orange County Assessor. I left Newport Beach with my family in June 2012 to do an open-ended cruise across the Pacific. The tax bill arrived while we were in Panama. I Skyped the assessor's office, and they insisted on all the marina receipts and so forth to show proof that we'd been gone. Latitude is correct about people in assessor's offices having no concept of cruising, as they think we spend every night in a marina. Anyway, we had to pay the bill pending our sorting it out when we got back.

We paid the bill and sent all the paperwork, which did remove us from the county rolls. But on our return, I found that I had to deal with a different office, the tax collectors. The tax collector insisted that since I was the owner of the boat as of January 1, 2012, I was liable for the tax year July 2012 to June 2013 — even though I was out of the county and the country by June 2012. I went up the chain of command and got the same answer every time: "The law says, the law says." It was like listening to your parents say, "Because I said so." What happens if you sell your boat on January 2? Are you still on the hook for the taxes up to July of the following year? If I had not paid, the bill would have increased a whopping 40% in three months. Short of an act of the legislature, I think I am out the money.

Tony Spooner
Macha, Haskins 39 Trimaran
Formerly of Newport Beach

Tony — Wonderful historical photo of the trimarans on the beach at Angel Island. You're right, if you pulled a stunt like that today, you'd be in deep poop.

As for the business with the assessor's offices and tax collectors, you now know why so many cruisers establish legal residence outside California before they take off cruising.


On August 6 of this year, my doctor solemnly explained to me that I had Stage 4 renal cancer. My immediate response was to inform her that she needed to do whatever she needed to do to me right away, because I was going to be starting the 20th Annual Baja Ha-Ha as part of my annual migration to Mexico on October 28.

"You don't understand," she responded.

"No, doctor," I replied, "you don't understand." One month later I was on the table for a slice and dice, which resulted in the removal of my left kidney and a tumor that we refer to as my "eight-lb Ugly Baby."

Two months later, I was participating — as I had told my doctor — in the Ha-Ha.

Latitude 38 and the Baja Ha-Ha have been as important an ingredient as Jimmy Buffett's music in the creation of the dream that gave direction to my wanderlust. The Baja Ha-Ha is an opportunity for me to see people that I care about and love deeply, many of whom I only get to see once a year.

The adage about 'the difference between an ordeal and adventure' may be old and a little tired, but it's true. I'm viewing my cancer with a tremendously positive attitude. For me it's easy, as I have my amazing Debbie in my life, and I have more people that I love and care about than is fair. Plus, I live on my boat in a slice of paradise, and I just completed my fourth Ha-Ha. Most of all, I'm positive that the chemo pills I am now taking will finish off the remaining cancer, allowing me to participate in many future Ha-Ha's.

How impressed was my doctor with my enthusiasm for sailing back to Mexico, my relentlessly positive attitude while in the hospital, and my quick recovery? She plans to visit us down here on Banderas Bay.

Glenn Twitchell
Beach Access, Lagoon 380
Newport Beach / Mexico


We are currently in Panama with our two dogs, contemplating the next leg of our cruise. We would dearly love to do a South Pacific tour, but are struggling with how to get it done with dogs on board.

The comment in the November 6 'Lectronic, "Currently in American Samoa after having visited Hawaii, Palmyra and Fanning Island, Vicky is preparing to set sail for Tonga, Fiji, and hopefully New Zealand," gives us great hope. But I was wondering if Vicky Plett would consider sharing her experience in clearing in with pets.

P.S. Not only am I a longtime Latitude 38 reader and an admirer of the Grand Poobah, but I sent this message from my kayak.

Lauri Hamilton
Ashika, Fuji 45
Panama City, Panama


We brought Bootsie, our cat, into New Zealand on November 1, 2011, and have been in New Zealand off and on ever since. While we don't take Bootsie back to the States with us — it's way too much for her to deal with airlines and for us to deal with the expenses — we do take her in to and out of New Zealand.

We went to Vanuatu and New Caledonia last season, and coming back here to New Zealand was not too big a problem. Bootsie had to go into quarantine for 10 days. This is a problem if you arrive at Opua, as most boats do, as it will cost you big bucks to have your pet transported to the nearest quarantine facility. The first time we entered New Zealand was at Marsden Cove, and it cost us $500 just to have our cat transported. But since then we have been based out of Gulf Harbour Marina in Whangaparaoa, and officials pick up Bootsie for around $110.

As Vicky already will have been to Hawaii, I don't think there will be a problem, as she already had to have the Titer rabies tests and all of the shots necessary for Hawaii, just as she would for New Zealand. Just get the paperwork done way before necessary. Our only problem was that the paperwork had to be on New Zealand forms, and it must be stamped by a state health department official. For us, that meant Arizona.

If Vicki wants to contact me, I would be more than glad to talk to her. We are planning to head back to Hawaii, possibly in August 2014, and will need all the requirements for Bootsie to get there.

Paulie Grover
Storm Haven, Nordhavn 46
Arizona / Currently in Auckland, NZ


Suzanne has been dealing with the hoops necessary to legally get our dog Vienna in to and out of countries in the South Pacific. She'd be happy to explain each country's rules to Vicky, but to summarize:

1) Pets need to be chipped.

2) All shots and vaccination records need to be up to date, and you need to carry proof of them with you. Each country will have a different list of requirements.

3) You will have to quarantine the pet. It might be on your boat or it might have to be at an official — and expensive — facility. It varies from country to country, but if you're going to New Zealand, Australia or New Caledonia, understand that you'll need to bring a wad of cash with you. That's because your pet will be required to be examined by a MAF-authorized vet and submit to several blood tests.

To give an example, when we arrived in New Zealand in 2009, Vienna had to be quarantined for 36 days. The total cost was $7,500 U.S.

When we sailed back to Fiji in 2011, Vienna had to be quarantined for eight days. The cost was $600 U.S.

When we sailed back to New Zealand in 2011, Vienna was once again quarantined, this time for 10 days. The cost was $3,500.

When we sailed to New Caledonia this year, Vienna was quarantined for 10 days, which cost $400, plus $500 in lab and vet fees.

When we returned to New Caledonia after six months in Vanuatu, we had to pay another $400 for quarantine, plus the lab and vet fees.

So yes, you can bring your pet with you when you cruise the South Pacific — as long as you bring lots of money and have lots of time for paperwork. As far as Suzanne and I are concerned, watching Vienna bark at whales, dolphins and frigate birds has been well worth it.

Dietmar Petutschnig, Suzanne Dubose & Vienna
Carinthia, Lagoon 440
Las Vegas / South Pacific


I just got back from New Zealand on business, and can report that it's not a cat-friendly country. In fact, a bill was introduced in Parliament to eradicate all cats from the country, cats being a non-indigenous land predator with a penchant for killing birds.

Marty Czarnecki
Kokiri, Cavalier 39
Treasure Island

Marty — According to former Latitude Racing Editor Sutter Schumacher, who now lives in New Zealand, a well-known social commentator has pushed for a policy that bans the replacement of pet cats when they die — not their eradication — but it didn't get anywhere near Parliament.


I think Latitude already has the best page of information when it comes to the requirements for bringing cats and dogs to New Zealand. We don't have rabies — or many other nasties — in our country and we want to keep it that way. I have personally witnessed a few visitors moaning about some regulations, which is not an attitude that fosters a friendly response from locals. These regulations are not designed to piss off visitors, but are rather part of a day-to-day battle to maintain New Zealand's environmental and economic standing. The same thinking exists with weapons. We don't believe guns are a particularly good idea, so please don't bring 'em to New Zealand. And if you do turn up with your 'self-defense' arsenal, you will need to surrender it until you leave.

Perhaps the best advice for travelers would be, if you think that your destination will not meet your personal requirements, stay at home.

Dean Wallis
Auckland, New Zealand


Has Latitude 38 done any research on the new $16 fee that has been added to the boat and dinghy registration renewal we pay to the Department of Motor Vehicles? The fee is supposedly to prevent the spread of quagga and zebra mussels, via boats, from California lakes and reservoirs to other California lakes and reservoirs. The mussels can only live in fresh water.

The information accompanying the DMV billing says vessels that are used "exclusively in marine waters" are exempt from the fee. But nowhere in the information provided with the registration is there a definition of 'marine waters'. I read the actual statute, which is Harbors & Navigation Code Section 675, and "marine waters" isn't defined there either.

So I called the Department of Boating & Waterways and asked for a citation of what "marine waters" means. I was told that the DBW defines it as salt water, including San Francisco Bay and as far upriver as Suisun Bay. But they couldn't tell me where to find the definition.

In federal law, "marine waters" is defined in different places as any navigable waters, or those subject to tidal influence, which could extend above Stockton and Sacramento.

Assuming you pay the $16 fee per boat — I'm being assessed for my Catalina 27 and my two dinghies — you are issued a sticker to apply next to the boat's registration sticker. I assume that anyone who decided to not pay the fee and get a sticker would likely get stopped in the Delta. If I don't pay the fee, and go farther upriver than, say, Pittsburg, am I at risk of being fined $1,000?

If "marine waters" means salt water, I have tasted the water as far upriver as False River, and it definitely has a slight salinity taste there. It also bothers me that DBW has provided this rather loose definition with no written citation that can be relied upon.

I did some more checking and found that the extra fee is new this year, as the enabling bill only passed the legislature and was signed by Governor Brown in September. I also learned that these pests have only been found in freshwater lakes, and only one reservoir in Northern California has ever had them, and this was back in 2008. However, there does exist a response plan to an invasion in the Bay and Delta.

What I find especially interesting is there is talk in the press releases of “closing the body of water to all boating” to prevent the mussels from being introduced to “other reservoirs in the state.” It seems as though the government doesn't know the difference between the Bay, a river and a reservoir! And how would they close the Bay and Delta waters? Since the mussels don’t live in salt water, why does the government need to worry about an invasion of the Bay? Whoever wrote the response plan doesn’t seem to know what they are doing!

Peter Hine
Enigma II, Catalina 27

Peter — As we understand it, there hasn't been a significant quagga/zebra infestation in Northern California, but the fear is that there could be a devastating one in Northern California's lakes and reservoirs — and inland waters, such as the Sacramento River. We say places such as the Sacramento River because there are places in the upper river where the salinity is not high enough to be lethal to the pests. The average ocean salinity is about 35 parts per million, while experts say 10 to 12 ppm are lethal to the mussels. It's unclear to us where the 'boundary' should be in the Delta.

So which boats have to pay the fees and which are exempt? We contacted the DMV for a definitive answer on who exactly is exempt from the new fee. The woman who answered when we called the special press phone number absolutely assured us we would hear back from someone at the DMV by the end of the day. We're shocked, but we never heard from them.


Visualize the Ericson 34 Great Escape and the CS30 Unanimous berthed transom-to-transom at the visitor's dock in the Petaluma Turning Basin. The two boats and seven sailors from Palo Alto had made their way safely up the Petaluma River from San Pablo Bay the prior afternoon, cruising past the raised D Street Bridge by 5 p.m.

The next day, after a seven-mile hike up Sugarloaf Ridge and back, and after showers and changing into clean clothes, Capt. Tom opened up the bar for happy hour in the cockpit of his 34-footer. Brie and Gouda, spinach dip and scoopers, crackers and salted almonds all complemented the IPAs, pinot grigio and pinot noir.

It was a pleasantly cool October evening, and the sun was setting as we imbibed and entered into the important discussions that retired guys have while they are off together on an adventure. Capt. Steve had studied the tide tables and charts, and determined that the optimal time for us to depart the next morning would be 7 a.m.

After we purchased and stowed breakfast provisions, Tom asked about coffee. "Couldn’t we get it from the Starbucks on Petaluma Boulevard?”

“Is it open that early?” asked Leon.

“Yeah, I washed up in the Starbie’s restroom a couple of times and checked their hours — open at 6 a.m.," chimed in Leon.

“Outstanding! While Jerry and I are returning the rental cars, a couple of you guys could get the coffee," said Stew.

"Think one of those cardboard carafes would be enough?" wondered Leon.

Jerry pulled out his iPhone and did a search on Starbucks and said, "They call the big containers 'Travelers', and you get 96 ounces for $18.”

"But would just one be enough?" asked Steve.

At this time all minds lapsed into the division calculation algorithm.

"That would be about 13 ounces each, right?" said Fred.

"That's like two six-ounce cups each," said Jerry, "plenty for breakfast."

But it's a long ride down the river and into the Bay," said Leon. "That's $28 worth of coffee. I have a good Thermos that must hold six cups. What if we filled that also?"

“Yeah, Tom’s boat with four aboard could take the carafe, and Steve’s with three aboard could have the Thermos,” said Stew.

All minds started recalculating again.

“Whoa, that would be six cups for three to share on Steve’s boat and 16 cups for the four on Tom's boat," said Steve.

“Well," said Tom, "when we get out on the river we could come alongside and pass part of the carafe over to you guys."

“Or all of us could have an early morning cup from the carafe right before we cast off," said Leon. "Then Tom’s boat keeps what’s left in the carafe and Steve’s boat has the full Thermos.”

“That would work," said Steve, who agreed to go to Starbucks with Fred.

Thus ended the most important group discussion on our weekend sailing adventure to Petaluma.

Stew Plock
Palo Alto

Stew — While considering retirement about five years ago, we asked a gentleman how well he liked it and if he found meaningful things to do with his time. He said he loved retirement and found plenty of things to do. For example, he explained that he'd spent the previous day getting the oil changed in his car. We were stunned, because if we go more than 24 hours without doing what we consider to be meaningful work, we have a hard time justifying being alive. As a result of this man's comments, we were terrified into working for another five years. No offense, but having now read your group's comment about coffee, we're good for at least another 10 years of hard work.


I came across an interesting quote in the book Portable Curmudgeon, which was edited by Jon Winokur. On page 164, the curmudgeon Paul Fussell is quoted as saying: ". . . the upper class never allows itself to be uncomfortable — except on a yacht."

Denny Kavanagh

Denny — That's pretty funny, but we don't think it's very accurate. While the upper class certainly produces its share of lazy derelicts, it also seems to punch above its weight with men and women who are in search of extreme adventure.


I lived in Sausalito in 1954 and 1955. During that time we kids used to fish off a pier in the downtown area. Moored offshore of downtown was a beautiful schooner. I can't remember for certain, but I always thought her name was Ramona.

Guess what? While doing some research for another boat I sailed on in the mid-'60s — the yawl Jada, which by the way was built in Stockton in 1938 — I came across a schooner by the name of Ramona in the book about the history of the TransPac. A Ramona participated in the 1955 TransPac Race and was skippered by her owner, William A. Pomeroy of the St. Francis YC. According to the TransPac records, Ramona was 109 feet in length and had a fireplace. Anybody know what happened to her?

By the way, I attended Central Elementary School in Sausalito, and played Little League Baseball for the Sausalito Fireflies. Maybe there are some old chums of mine in the Latitude readership.

Keith Fullenwider
Sanguine, Tartan 3800
San Pedro

Keith — We haven't a clue what became of Ramona. What we want to know is if you're old enough to remember when they had cattle drives down Bridgeway. The late sailmaker Pete Sutter used to tell us about them.


I'm writing in response to the first Changes in Latitudes in the October issue of Latitude, the one written by Bob Bohn of the Pacific Northwest-based Amel 52 ketch C'est La Vie. Bohn wrote that his boat had been seized and allowed to be destroyed by officials at Chuuk [Truk Lagoon] in Chuuk State of the Federated States of Micronesia.

Since we are contemplating a stop at Chuuk in the next six months, I was alarmed by Bohn's report, as he recounted a horror story of getting thrown in jail, the police letting his boat go on the reef, and people looting her while he had to stand by and watch. So I have done quite a bit of asking around trying to determine the circumstances and background of this incident.

The source of most of my information is American Bill Stinnett, the owner of the Truk Stop Hotel and Dive Shop. He's lived and worked in Chuuk since 1979, and was the two-time director of public safety in Chuuk, a former Investigator for the Micronesian Bureau of Investigation, and U.S. federal special agent based in Chuuk for about seven years.

Stinnett says the Bohn situation was a tightwalk for him. "I was trying to help this American while at the same time respecting the work that the National Police were doing."

I was particularly interested in exactly how Bohn's boat got on the reef. Bohn's version implied that she had been left in the care of the police, who then let it go on the reef.

Stinnett says that C'est La Vie left on the same weekend she arrived. And that prior to his departure, Stinnet told Bohn and his lady friend the same thing he tells other visitors, which is that if something didn't make any sense to them, they should feel free to come and talk to him.

The next time Stinnett heard from Bohn was when Bohn called him from jail. They talked, and Stinnett says Bohn told him that he and his lady friend had gone "sightseeing" in the lagoon and had run up on a reef. Bohn also reported being very unhappy because he couldn't raise anyone on the radio to help him, and that he was stuck on this reef for three days before help arrived. According to Bohn's account via Stinnett, it wasn't really help that arrived, but the police, and they arrested him and his lady friend.

Stinnett says that he got the feeling that the FSM national and state authorities felt Bohn was trying to leave without having completely cleared in, and that he had certainly not cleared out. There is a $10 per day fee for anchoring within the lagoon that might have been unpaid, and that might have been an issue, too.

Stinnett says that he went down to the police station as soon as Bohn called, and he spoke with both Bohn and the head of the National Police based in Chuuk. Stinnett says he'd hired the officer when he ran Public Safety in Chuuk from 2005-2007, and that Stinnett considered him to be as "sharp, honest, and professional as any officer in Micronesia." When Stinnett left Public Safety, the officer also left, and took the job with the National Police Force. The two remain friends and have respect for one another.

Stinnett suspects that Bohn may have clashed with the customs and culture of Chuuk. When he emailed me, he said that people and families own the reefs in Chuuk. When there is a funeral or some major event, these families can put the reef off limits for swimming, fishing, and boating. Violations can result in fines of thousands of dollars or the loss of one's boat.

Stinnett says that the family that owns the reef Bohn grounded on believed that he had damaged their reef, which impacted their fishing and livelihood. Bohn spoke with Stinnett about this, and says Bohn made a trip out to his boat with a sack of rice to offer to the family. They apparently didn't accept it.

Stinnett says that he considered helping Bohn pull the boat free himself, but his Chuukese wife said that the owners of the reef could claim Stinnett's boat if he tried to help.

Stinnett says that the Chuukese people are wonderful and, if treated fairly and with respect, will give you the shirts off their backs. On the other hand, he had been responsible for several visitors being removed from the country for being "culturally insensitive."

I haven't been to Chuuk and wasn't there, so I can't say whose account is correct. It's possible that Bill Stinnett is distorting the facts to protect his tourism interests in Chuuk, but I don't think so. It is possible that the full truth is somewhere in between. But from the information I have, I think it's unlikely that Bohn's version, as published in Latitude, is gospel. But each person has to decide for him-/herself.

We're going to stop in Chuuk early next year, and we'll let everyone know how our visit turns out.

Dave & Sherry McCampbell
Soggy Paws, CSY 44
Currently in the Marshall Islands

Dave and Sherry — What we found most interesting is Stinnett's admission that the allegedly "wonderful people of Chuuk" feel that they may be entitled to someone's quarter-of-a million-dollar boat if she goes aground on their reef. And that if anyone tries to assist the stranded mariners, they may lose their boat, too. One can excuse this as a "cultural thing," but only if you have 'CHUMP' tattooed on your forehead.

There are certainly many unknowns in this story. Among them, why Stinnett didn't explain the reasons Bohn was arrested multiple times. While we're not taking either side in this incident, we can't think of any possible justification for Bohn's uninsured boat's being lost. At the very least, Chuuk authorities should have made a legitimate effort to help him save his boat. After that was done, they could have looked into whether he had properly cleared in and out, and whether he owed a $10 anchoring fee.


I read the November 13 'Lectronic piece about the boat fire on the Beneteau First 44.7 Foggy caused by a shorepower connection.

There is another shorepower cord problem, which is caused by not turning off the power at the dockbox before unplugging the shorepower cord, or not turning off the power at all. If you unplug with power on, there will be a spark that contributes to corrosion of the plug, which leads to increased resistance, which may eventually result in a fire. And if you unplug from the boat and leave the switch on at the dockbox, the poor soul who trips over your hot 30-amp plug and falls into the Bay with the cord will be electrocuted. It's a pretty simple concept, but most sailors don't get it.

So please, turn off the electricity at the switch before you unplug. And never leave a hot wire on the dock.

Bruce Adornato
Pelagic Magic, True North 38
South Beach


A couple of years ago, I had a brand-new shorepower cord for my boat, new receptacle for the 110-volt power, and 12-volt wiring professionally installed on my boat as part of an extensive rebuild. During the winter, when I was running two 15-amp heaters, the cord burned at the plug end. I had to buy a new cord and a new 110-volt, 30-amp receptacle to replace the very same brand-new components.

What went wrong? My electrician maintains that the problem was low voltage supplied by the ancient electrical infrastructure in the marina. He said the marina refused to admit to the problem, but that it was most likely the cause.

Tom Van Dyke
En Pointe, Searunner 31
Santa Cruz / Currently in Fiji


Thirty-amp shorepower cords are rated for 30 amps — but only for a short time. Their continuous rating is 80% of 30, or 24 amps. This is mostly an issue in the winter months when heaters are most frequently used on boats.

The SmartPlug is definitely a better choice when it comes time to replace your cord. In fact, many Canadian insurance companies give a 10% first-year discount when a SmartPlug is installed on a boat. That's often enough of a discount to pay for the SmartPlug.

Brian Stannard
Mi Tiempo, CS27
Victoria B.C.

Brian — The SmartPlug seems like a great product to us. It was one of four products to win West Marine's Innovation of the Year Award in 2011, and really does seem superior to regular shorepower cords and plugs. Google for details.


My last two boats both had burned or melted shorepower inlets. The shorepower cords themselves were fine and the inlets looked fine from the outside, but on the inside of the boat, where the boat's wiring connects to the inlet, one or more terminals were burned. This is likely the result of corrosion or a loose screw terminal. It was only a matter of time before it got hot enough to start a fire. Please have your readers check the backside of their inlets, too.

Paul Goyke
Cariad, Caliber 38


I suggest that you take the opportunity to spend a little time with a National Weather Service forecaster, particularly at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. It might improve your perspective on the complexities of forecasting. It might also improve your attitude about government employees.

Larry Smith
Harmonia, Leopard 43

Larry — You're missing the point entirely. Neither we nor anybody else has been questioning the difficulty — actually impossibility — of long-range hurricane forecasting. What everybody is saying is that until long-range hurricane forecasting can be accomplished with any sort of accuracy, perhaps the National Weather Service should follow the example of the Canadian Weather Service and refrain from making such forecasts. Why? Because consistently being wrong tends to make you look incompetent. If the National Hurricane Center insists on making long-range hurricane forecasts, we believe they should boldly preface them with a proviso such as, "To the best of our very limited abilities at this time, we think the following is something that might happen."

As the Grand Poobah, we pay lots of attention to late-season tropical storm development in the Eastern Pacific, and therefore have an inkling of the complexities of forecasting tropical storms — even after they have formed. If you look at five different computer models of any given storm, they often vary tremendously. And it wouldn't be unusual for all of them to be off the mark. We're not disrespecting anybody's skills or efforts; there are just too many variables to deal with.

We also know that it's difficult, if not impossible, to make much sense of hurricanes from historical data. A few years back we did a piece on all the hurricanes that have hit St. Martin in the last 150 years. The most striking thing was the lack of any kind of logical pattern. For instance, while St. Martin has taken a direct hurricane hit an average of once every 6.5 years, it has also gone as long as 12 years without being hit by even a much more common tropical storm. In 2000, everyone was freaking out in St. Martin because they'd had six hurricanes in seven years. Yet there wasn't even a tropical storm for the next 10 years.

We don't have a bad attitude about government employees, as we personally know many government employees — including members of our extended family and crew on Profligate — who are extremely hard-working, competent and caring. Our problem is with the system, because we also know that thanks to a one-party system in California where that party is all but owned by government employee unions, even the most incompetent and uncaring, if not downright criminal, people can find a comfortable career with lavish pay and benefits, and often a spectacularly generous early retirement. If you're not aware of this, you need to pay a little more attention to the news, and what a fraud it is if anyone claims that California has a balanced budget. Mind you, it's not that much skin off our butts, but such extravagant and reckless vote-buying is already taking a terrible toll on cities and communities, and it's going to be devastating to future generations. Before anybody accuses us of being a Republican, we believe their motives are equally unaltruistic.


People have complaints with the long-range forecasting of hurricanes. How about the 'short-range' forecasts for regular weather in the San Francisco Bay Area? Take yesterday, for instance. If anyone looked at the National Weather Service's forecast in the morning, they sure would have been surprised by the 30-knot winds off Alcatraz. There have been other big weather surprises this year.

Pat Broderick
Nancy, Wyliecat 30
Santa Rosa

Pat — The best that meteorologists can provide are weather predications, not weather guarantees. We're confident that our forecasters do the best they can with data and tools that are currently available to them. Asking them to be 100% accurate — or anything even close to it — is simply asking for the impossible.


The National Hurricane Center's poor record in forecasting the number of tropical storms and hurricanes each year should get classified right along with the claims of 'global warming'. Our weather forecasters can't predict what the weather will be like in a couple of days, to say nothing of coming hurricanes or global warming. Cap and trade is just a joke based on computer projections — the same computers that predict daily weather, but with just a few more 'projections' dialed in.

Curt Simpson
Palm Desert

Curt — We're skeptical by nature, and that while there have been some recent setbacks in the climate change narrative — what's with the 62% increase in Arctic ice over last year? — we're willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the overwhelming majority of scientists who believe in climate change. But having staked so much of its reputation on it, the scientific community had better be right. We should know in 30 years or so.


Do you have an overall professional opinion of the yacht sales business? Good, fair, or poor, and what are the influencing factors?

My 1983 Nauticat 44 has been on the market with a local broker since June. While she's been getting a lot of attention, nobody has made an offer, not even with deep discounts. Is there a soft market now due to the economy, or has there been bad marketing on my part? Any advice?

Bill Kelly
Saoirse, Nauticat 44
Sacramento Delta

Bill — There are a couple of things working against boat sellers and in favor of boat buyers. First, the mid '70s to the mid '80s were prime time for Baby Boomers to buy boats. These days more of them are buying retirement homes and sitting on couches rather than sitting in cockpits. It's a pity, but it's reality. Second, unlike cars, fiberglass sailboats last almost indefinitely. So while the number of sailboat buyers has been continuing to shrink, the number of sailboats available has continued to grow. That's not a supply/demand equation that works out well for boat sellers, but again, it's reality.

There are, however, things you can do that will give you an advantage over most other boat sellers. Specifically, make sure that your boat has 'curb appeal' and shows well. Too many boatowners, particularly with boats that are decades old, go for a last sail, put the boat away wet, then call up a broker to list the boat, expecting her to sell quickly. This isn't going happen often in a very competitive seller's market, even with a steep discount in asking price.

At the very least, make sure your boat is cleaner than she's ever been before you put her on the market. Particularly the heads. If your boat is dirty or messy, you are going to immediately disgust the female half of any potential boat-buying couple, and in most non-racing boat purchases, the female rules — or at least has absolute veto power. Indeed, since your boat isn't a racing boat, you'd be wise to play to the female. Bring a female friend in for an honest assessment on how to make your boat more attractive to a woman. You don't have to follow up on all the suggestions, but you should listen carefully and not skimp on the colorful pillows. Got a great photo or two of your boat, or perhaps a Jim DeWitt painting of her? Don't hide them, as anything that makes your boat stand out helps.

Guys care about mechanical stuff and factual information. Make sure all the sails and sail systems are in good repair. Make sure your engine runs well and the engine room is orderly. Make sure that all the systems on your boat work. Nobody is going to be interested in buying somebody else's boat problems — at least not if there isn't a tremendous discount. If you have the most recent survey available, as well as maintenance records, it's going to make you look more caring and responsible than others. That's a good thing.

The last thing we'd suggest is that you try to find a sistership for sale and do a little comparative shopping of your own. See how your boat stacks up, then pretend you're a buyer and see which boat you'd pick. Now that it's winter, boat buyers are few and far between, but it gives you a few months to really prepare to market your boat. Good luck.


About 10 years ago I wrote a letter to Latitude about the 'contest' to see who could spend the least money cruising. Sort of like the 1950s game show Name That Tune. And here we are, 10 years later, with the same stuff. You mention that the late Mike Harker ate Costco canned chicken and had just a cup of coffee each morning. Wow, that sounds like fun! Go to a foreign country and all you can say you've experienced of the culinary culture is a cup of coffee. I think Harker won the prize. I can't imagine a letter from someone in the next month saying they undercut that.

(Mr.) Leslie D. Waters
San Jose

Leslie — It's not "the same old stuff." We wrote about Harker in 2003 because he'd just singlehanded to Europe and then sailed to French Polynesia with crew. We wrote about him in more recent years because he'd done a circumnavigation and continued to cruise in the Caribbean.

Apparently you don't understand people like Harker. He was not poor. He bought a new Hunter 34 in 2000 to learn to sail and to do the Ha-Ha. He later bought a new Hunter 406 to sail to Europe and then the South Pacific. After that he bought a new Hunter 49 to do his circumnavigation. Harker also owned a beachfront triplex on Santa Monica Bay and, until it burned, a cabin in the mountains where he kept several beautifully restored motorcycles. Everything he owned was first-class and well maintained. Harker was never interested in buying stuff for the sake of buying stuff, and we admired him for that.

Mike's thing was people-watching. He was always the quiet guy who listened to people go on and on about their minor sailing exploits. Only after people got to know him for a month or so would Mike let on that he'd sailed around the world singlehanded — despite a horrible hang-gliding accident that had left him bedridden for a decade and forever unable to stand upright without having to touch something.
Mike loved to get a cup of coffee and observe people for long periods of time. That's what people do in Europe. Heck, in Capri they darn near set up grandstands so people can nurse a sundowner while watching everybody strut by in their fine Italian threads. Mike would go to the same coffee bars or restaurants over and over again, and become friends with the waiters and owners. He was more interested in them than the high-rolling vacationers. Despite his ultra-unassuming way and physical limitations, Mike somehow managed to attract some very lovely women to sail with him. And they often came back for additional legs.

As for his preference for Costco canned chicken when he could easily have afforded more refined fare, that will forever remain a mystery to us — although we don't have much use for pretentious tourist restaurants either.

Want an even more extreme example of a sailor living well within his means? When one of the richest men in the world — worth many billions — wanted a boat, he built a modest 44-footer himself. When he wanted to buy a professionally made cat, he bought the smallest in the manufacturer's line. Not everybody thinks bigger or more expensive is necessarily better.

It seems to us that you think the more money a cruiser spends, the more integrated he/she becomes in whatever culture he/she is visiting. We think you have it backward. Money is often a barrier, especially when visiting Third World places, to really getting to know or become part of a community.

From time to time we've written about Glenn Tieman of Southern California. He spent 10 years cruising a homebuilt 26-ft catamaran from California to Asia. During the first five years, he told us he lived on about $1 a day. During the second five years, he lived on about $3 a day. Tieman's goal was to completely integrate himself into remote communities for months at a time, and he did to a much greater degree than most cruisers. Because of the near insistence of family and friends, Tieman returned to Southern California after 10 years to teach school. Dissatisfied after a few years, he built a 38-ft replica of an ancient Polynesian cat for $14,000 and took off again. We expect he's now part of a community on some island we've never heard of.

If you read
Latitude regularly, you know that a few years ago Steve and Charlotte Baker were sitting in the hot tub behind their home in Santa Rosa when they came to the realization that they were spending a lot of money on a not-particularly-satisfying lifestyle. So they bought a humble Catalina 27, pointedly christened her Willful Simplicity, did the Ha-Ha, and subsequently became an integral part of the small and modest Mexican community at Evaristo in the Sea of Cortez. Before long they'd been adopted and became the godparents of several local kids. We don't know how much money they are living on, but since there aren't any real stores or restaurants near Evaristo, it can't be much. The Bakers have been at Evaristo for a while now, so they must like it. In fact, we just heard they finished building living quarters for a teacher.

And surely you've read our reports on Jack van Ommen of the Gig Harbor, Washington-based Nadja 29 Fleetwood. After a severe business reversal at age 60, all van Ommen had to his name was a kit-built 29-footer he'd sailed in a Singlehanded TransPac decades before and a limited ability to pay his rent. Despite monthly Social Security income of just $1,700, in the last seven years or so he has cruised to 43 countries in all parts of the world, while putting about $1,000 a month in the bank. If you think he's not living a more interesting and locally integrated life than 95% of the rest of the people in the world, you haven't been reading his blogs.

(Editor's note: See Sightings for the story of van Ommen's loss of Fleetwood near Ibiza last month.)

There are countless people happily cruising for less than the various poverty levels in the United States. That's not to say that we could do it, but we have utmost admiration and respect for those who can and do. We suspect that's also true for the people in the places these cruisers visit. After all, it's easier for Third World people to relate to a cruiser living on $1,000 a month than those struggling to get by on $10,000 a month.


In a recent issue you said that the folks at Spot had given you a new Spot Global Phone to test. What do you think of it for people cruising to Mexico? How does it compare with the Iridium satphone?

Eric Alderson
Melanie, Catalina 42

Eric — Based on our experience, the Iridium wins hands down over the somewhat misnamed Spot Global Phone.

We attempted to use the Spot phone — it retails for about $500 — on many occasions during the Ha-Ha. The sound quality was always excellent on the caller's end, but receivers reported choppy clarity — and that was, of course, when it worked. The problem was that it often didn't work. Calls either wouldn't go through or were dropped. Sometimes we'd have four bars, then we'd have none, then four bars again. And reliability wasn't just an issue at sea, as we repeatedly couldn't get the Spot phone to work while in the marina in Cabo San Lucas.

Our Iridium phone — which retails for about $1,050 — was much more reliable. And when you have medical or mechanical emergencies — as we did on this year's Ha-Ha — reliability trumps price. This was our first year with a second-generation Iridium phone — which has actually been around for years — and the sound quality was easily superior to the original Iridium phones. You can get a used version of the original Iridium for about $100 — from us, among others — but we wouldn't recommend it.

The Spot Global Phone and Iridium use different technology. Iridium has 66 active satellites, plus spares, that cover the globe and provide service around the world. Spot says that its phone is 'global', but that's not supported by a map claiming to show their area of coverage. What's more, and what's disturbing, is that we don't believe the coverage map is accurate. Back when Globalstar phones used the same technology, they provided virtually the same coverage map, and it definitely was not accurate. We tried and tried and tried to use the Globalstar phone across the top of South America and other places where they claimed to have coverage, but the phone never worked.

Spot says its phone is powered by 'satellite technology', but it's different from that of Iridium. Spot uses Globalstar's 48 low-orbit satellites in a 'bent pipe' system. When you make a call, it goes up to a satellite, down to a ground station, then travels by landline to the number you're calling. Globalstar claims their system is superior to that of Iridium, but we haven't found it to be the case.

The Globalstar system that Spot uses also has a black mark in our minds. A number of years ago, Globalstar was a Ha-Ha sponsor. While the Globalstar calls were often dropped on the Ha-Ha, if we kept at it, we could usually get a call or calls through to Commander's Weather to get the daily weather report for the fleet. Before the start of one Ha-Ha, we made a call to confirm that the system would work in Mexico. It didn't. When we called Globalstar, they explained that the satellite they needed to provide service for the coast of Mexico was out of service. They had made no attempt to inform their users of the lack of service. Their irresponsibility would have meant we'd be leading the Ha-Ha without an easy way to contact Commander's Weather. Fortunately, there was an Iridium retailer open on Sunday, the day before the start of the Ha-Ha.

The one other knock we've got against the Spot is that the screen is too dark and hard to read. Iridium's screen is bright with big letters and numbers.

The Spot is less expensive and may be adequate for a sailor's non-emergency needs in Mexico. But if you want reliability, a readable screen, and a phone that will work everywhere you can cruise, our recommendation would be the Iridium. You can also download GRIB files for about 80 cents each from an Iridium.

While we're not big fans of the Spot Global Phone, we are very big fans of the Spot Messenger, which we think offers mariners a great safety, tracking and messaging device. But once again, the area of coverage has limitations for cruisers, and we're not sure how accurate it is.


With regard to Max Ebb's recent article on latitude and longitude, and radio etiquette, I think a young Coastie can be forgiven for not knowing where Hospital Cove is. He or she may never have heard the name.

For years I had wondered about the location of Hospital Cove on Angel Island. No one I spoke to seemed to know for sure where it was. It was listed on page 10 of my tide book under locations for current differences from the Golden Gate, but didn't appear on the chart.

After some modest research, I discovered that the name of this cove had, in 1969, officially been changed to Ayala Cove, after the Spanish naval officer and explorer. In 2011, I informed NOAA’s National Ocean Service, the federal agency that is responsible for tidal data, of the change. Notwithstanding the government's reputation for red tape and dawdling, within a day or two they had updated their online database to reflect the correct name.

However, the tide books we commonly use are printed by private companies, not the government, and I was unaware that they do not automatically download the new data from the NOS. So when the 2012 books came out, the old name was still there. I alerted the publisher, San Francisco’s Tidebook Company, and lo and behold, the 2013 volume finally displayed the correct name, 44 years late.

Tony Johnson
Whisper, Catalina 22
San Francisco


We are now preparing our new-to-us Dehler 41 for the 2014 Ha-Ha. Just like everyone else, we're on a budget. Our boat has the very minimal standard wind/speed/depth nav pods, a VHF radio, a VHF handheld radio, a Garmin 76C handheld GPS, a Davis sextant and paper charts. I am also computer-savvy.

New equipment is expensive, fun, cool, and 'safe'. But our bank account can better handle used, reliable and proven, along with a few new items such as an EPIRB. Research online and talking to marine equipment suppliers yields the entire spectrum of opinion of what's needed. I think it would be interesting to read what Max Ebb and Lee Helm have to say about the topic. They will both agree on safety being paramount, but are likely to differ on what should be new versus what can be picked up lightly used.

I always enjoy reading my Latitude cover to cover. And while I work in a technical field, I don't always see things Lee's way.

Dave Johnson
Flying Squirrel, 1975 Balboa 26
Flying Squirrel II, 1998 Dehler 41DS

Dave — If you don't mind, the Wanderer/Publisher, who founded the Ha-Ha and has done 19 of the 20, will field your question, as we've had more experience doing Ha-Ha's and cruising foreign waters than Max or Lee.

1) An EPIRB. We would have no hesitation buying a used one, as it's easy to test them to see if a unit is working. Some of the newer ones do have additional features, such as GPS, which would make it slightly easier for you to be found. We would never let our kids sail offshore on a boat that didn't have an EPIRB.

2) A satphone, which would be either be an Iridium or a Spot Global phone. A satphone is important because, unlike an EPIRB, it allows two-way communication to describe the nature of an emergency, in addition to being useful for regular communication and getting weather and email. As you'll read in Sightings, we think there are several excellent reasons — reliability being number one — to chose the Iridium over the Spot. We see no problem buying used satellite phones, although the newer generation Iridium M115s have superior sound quality to the original ones. There is also a water-resistant version of the Iridium phone in case you plan to have to get into a liferaft. Iridium satphones can be rented from any number of places for the duration of the Ha-Ha. We would not let our kids go offshore without an Iridium satphone.

3) A product that sort of fits in between the EPIRB and the satphone is the Spot Messenger, which allows: 1) friends to follow your almost-constantly updated track; 2) friends to follow your position and track on a constantly updated position; and 3) you to send a distress message to the Coast Guard. The Spot Messenger is the poor sailor's version of an EPIRB/satphone for those not going to the South Pacific, where it doesn't work.

Some sailors go offshore with none of the above, most go with at least one, and lots go with all three for redundancy. EPIRBs are a one-time cost of between $500 to $1,000 for the fancy models. Older model Iridium satphones can be bought for $200, or the latest model for $1,050. Air time is less expensive in bulk, but the minimum is $150 for 75 minutes, so it's not cheap. The Spot Messenger is $150 with an annual $100-150 service plan.

As we said, we'd buy any of these items used as long as they checked out and obviously weren't abused.

4) If you'd be going cruising for more than one season, we'd also recommend an SSB radio with SailMail. The SSB is necessary for listening to the various radio nets, which are the lifelines when crossing the Pacific. See this month's Changes from Pacific Highway to see why SSBs are considered necessary by most cruisers. Unlike with satphones, everybody is allowed to listen in on SSB, which makes for greater safety and fun. And with the addition of SailMail, you can communicate in relatively short messages with friends at home, and you can download GRIB files for weather. By the time you get the entire package going, it's probably going to run $3,000. We consider SSBs to be very nice, but not essential, except for those crossing the Pacific.

5) Navigation: No matter if we're in the Caribbean or the Pacific, we navigate with the Navionics programs on our iPhone or iPad. You do not need to have internet access for this great navigation combo to work. Considering the number of charts you get with each Navionics package, they are bargains.

6) Radar is wonderful for navigation and in fog, and we think all Northern California boats should have one. But if you're patient and careful, you don't have to spend the $2,500 to $3,500, especially if you get an AIS. Most boats have both radar and at least receive-only AIS. We wouldn't let our kids go offshore without at least radar, although once south of Bahia Santa Maria and when the Ha-Ha is over, you don't really need it.

7) Communication: When in Mexico you'll want to get a modem from TelCel. This will give you internet access pretty much anywhere you can get cell phone coverage. If you're spending a season in Mexico, you'll almost certainly want a cheapie Mexican cell phone or — see this month's Changes — an old iPhone.

If anyone is going cruising on a really low budget, please remember that when we started publishing
Latitude, cruisers sailed all over the world before the following were even invented: reliable EPIRBs, satphones, sat messengers, SailMail, reliable SSB radio, GRIB files, reliable radar, AIS, modems or cell phones. Some will argue that while cruising wasn't as safe back then, it was a heck of a lot more adventurous.

We hope that covers it. We welcome comments or differing opinions from experienced cruisers.


My having read your musings about the Caribbean in the June issue, a longstanding question of mine has come to the fore. As I recall, several years ago the publisher bought a used Leopard 45 catamaran that had been in service for The Moorings, then placed her in a yacht management program with BVI Yacht Charters of Tortola. Given your extended high-season usage of the vessel, how does your balance sheet look on an annual basis? Is there still sufficient charter income to make ends meet, or do you have to put something in the kitty yourself?

Andrew J Ritchie
East Coast

Andrew — Keeping in mind that we bought our cat outright and therefore don't have a mortgage, we have been able to use the boat extensively in high season without having to put any more money into her, or having to pay for berthing or insurance. Mind you, the boat has constantly been updated: new sails, new bimini, new StackPak, new tramp, new dinghy and outboard, excellent engine maintenance and so forth. Plus, she's a simple boat, which Anthony, who is in charge of maintenance at BVI Yacht Charters, says really helps. We do virtually no work on the boat. When we pick her up, everything is working. When we return the cat three months later, we usually have a small list of things that need to be taken care of. If a tropical storm approaches — as has happened several times during our ownership — BVI Yacht Charters takes care of everything. Most times we don't even hear about it until after the fact.

One thing that works in our favor is that 'ti Profligate, being simple and older, is about the biggest 'bang for the buck' 8-person, 45-ft bareboat cat in the BVIs. So she stays very busy. Contrary to what a lot of people assume, our experience has been that a simple, well-cared for charter boat ends up in much better condition than most seldom-used private boats. Nelson knew what he was talking about when he said, "Men and ships rot in port." But remember the 'well-cared for' qualifier.

We haven't had any experience with other yacht management companies, but as far as we're concerned, BVI Yacht Charters has done us right in keeping our cat in very good condition. It hasn't been cheap, but the cost has been worth it. The best indication of our overall satisfaction is that we intended to keep the boat for just three years, but are now about to start our seventh year. We're not guaranteeing a yacht managed by some company in the Caribbean is a good idea for anybody else, but it's worked great for us.

One of the main reasons we went with BVI Yacht Charters is that their program allowed us to use our boat as much as we wanted, when we wanted — including the high season. This was unlike The Moorings and Sunsail programs, which only allowed a max of two weeks' use in high season. That just wasn't going to work for us. However, we've been told that starting this year, The Moorings has a new program for people who want to use their boats for as long as they want in the high season. Mind you, you'd be buying a new boat, they aren't cheap, and you'd be losing a ton of charter income. That said, we were also told that there were buyers waiting in line to buy new cats for the slots in The Moorings program. Furthermore, all the Moorings 46 cats that were timed out of the program after five years were snapped up like hotcakes.


I don't know why others worry about why we refer to ourselves as 'Americans'. In 1776, or thereabouts, this nation became the United States of America. That is our official name. There are no other countries that carry that distinction. The Estados Unidos de Mexico is the closest one to that. Canada is just Canada. None of the other countries in North America, Central America or South America use 'America' in their name.

I don't know for sure, but I believe there might be a little jealousy involved when people from other countries say they are 'Americans', too. All I do know is that we have always used the term 'American' to denote our people. Like it or don't like it. Get over it and don't let your sails luff. There are more important things to concern yourself about.

J.R. Smith
Manhattan, KS

J.R. — "Get over it," you say? That's the kind of self-centered attitude that rankles all the Americans who don't live in the United States. All you know? Why don't you ask people who live elsewhere in the Americas what they 'know'? And if you don't know why people "worry" about what we call ourselves, why should you worry what they call themselves?

By the way, next year's J/24 North Americans aren't being held in the United States. They're being held out of Paradise Marina in Mexico.


I wanted to let Latitude readers know there's a new website just for Columbia 50s. While it's far from complete, it's at least now 'up for comment'. The address is

P.S. Thanks for all the great reading over the years.

Kevin Reilly
Skylark, Columbia 50

Readers — Ah, the Columbia 50s, with the famous 'blister top' common to all the Bill Tripp-designed Columbias of the 1960s and '70s. Columbia made them in darn near every two-foot increment from 22 to 57 feet in that company's heyday.

When the first Columbia 50 was launched in 1965, it was the largest production yacht built in the United States. Based on the fact that the 50s displaced 32,000 lbs and were built before the oil crisis of 1971, their hulls are nearly an inch thick of solid fiberglass. Sixty-two 50s were built between 1965 and 1972. Perhaps the most famous was Steve and Linda Dashew's Intermezzo, which they sailed around the world before coming up with their Deerfoot line of boats.

The Columbia 50s were available as sloops, yawls and schooners, although we never saw any of the schooners. The only yawl we ever saw was Simoon, originally owned by actor John Hall, who raced her successfully in the 1967 TransPac. The next owner sailed her to Tahiti, then abandoned her in front of the Tahiti YC for four years. It was then that our friends 'Broken Bottles' Bob and Gayle Jensen of Ukiah, along with three others, bought Simoon. When they got to Tahiti, the new owners had to hack two feet of coral off the bottom. Despite never having sailed offshore before, the partners headed north to Hawaii with a French navigator who didn't speak much English. He wasn't that good a navigator either — they had to let him dinghy ashore at some island in the Tuamotus to find out which one it was.

When the boat got back to San Francisco, the Jensens bought out the partners and, unable to sell her, decided to take her cruising. Bob and Gayle ultimately would make five long trips into the Pacific with Simoon, covering over 100,000 miles in 15 years. This was in the days before GPS and its precursor SatNav, and Gayle did all the navigation.


Did you guys catch the report in Market Watch that ships in the Indian Ocean and approaches to the Red Sea have been using Britney Spears music to scare off Somalia pirates?

Tom Van Dyke
En Pointe, Searunner 31
San Francisco

Tom — We didn't catch the report, but we're not sure if that's such good strategy. Correct us if we're wrong, but we thought most terrorists had secret carnal lust for young blond American temptresses such as Britney, particularly when they are half naked and slither through lyrics such as: "I'm a slave for you. I cannot hold it. I cannot control it. I'm a slave for you." We think those lyrics are music to the ears of terrorists.


The MacGregor 36 is a very large and fast catamaran, with lots of sail area and a very small cabin. Is there any information on how these boats are for bluewater sailing or coastal cruising? Or what could be done to make them safer for ocean passages? I saw a picture of one sailing at a heel of about 45 degrees.

Chris Cunningham
Lake Tahoe

Chris — We're not experts on the MacGregor 36s, which were built in the late '70s and early '80s, but do have some conflicting information on them. On the positive side, Bob Smith of the Victoria, B.C.-based custom 45-ft carbon cat Pantera tells us he did the long 1979 Tradewinds Race in the Caribbean on one, and he thought the MacGregor was just fine. We were a bit astonished, as it's rough-water sailing in the Caribbean, and the '79 Tradewinds Regatta was no light-air affair. Smith is a superb long-distance multihull sailor and multihull boatbuilder, so we respect his opinion.

On the other side of the coin, a MacGregor 36 was doing very well in one of the Doublehanded Farallones races in the 1980s, but came apart while surfing just a few miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge. As we recall, one of the two crew was killed.

The MacGregor 36s are 35.5 feet long, 18 feet wide, and displace a mere 3,000 lbs. According to the company brochure, they reach at 24 knots and sail close-hauled at 18 knots, although we'd like to see the latter with our own eyes. They can be disassembled for trailering on a normal trailer. There is a MacGregor 36, complete with mooring, advertised for $19,000 in Newport Beach. She looks as if she might need a lot of work, and her being nearly 35 years old, the entire rig and all metal fittings would need close examination.

The MacGregor 36s were not designed as offshore cruisers, but we would be surprised if someone hasn't sailed one from California to French Polynesia. Lord knows any number of French sailors would do it at the drop of a chapeau. Maybe some readers with MacGregor 36 experience would like to share their thoughts. Send them to .

By the way, any cat being sailed at a 45-degree angle is either being sailed very poorly or is in great danger of going over. Just ask Emirates Team New Zealand.


I saw the report Editor LaDonna Bubak wrote for the November 4 'Lectronic Latitude saying she'd wait for the DVD of Robert Redford's sailing film All Is Lost based on reviews from sailors. I think she should go see it. I know a lot of sailors who enjoyed it.

Okay, so he didn't have an EPIRB, jacklines or a PFD, but whatever. I don't need to prove how smart I am by pointing out all the film's errors. I was actually grabbing my friend's arm because of the challenges our hero found himself in. I enjoyed the film and recommend it.

Dave Dobbs
Tenacious, Lafitte 44
Bay Area


I saw the movie All Is Lost and thought the comments by your reviewers were overly harsh, and some incorrect. Granted there were some inaccuracies, but I think a score of about 80% isn't bad compared to how other Hollywood movies portray sailing.

To correct the reviewers in the 'Lectronic piece: The liferaft was a modern Winslow, not some WWII relic; he had flares, but used them up; he started a fire in a pan when he ran out of flares as a way to signal to a boat but it got out of control; he had water in the raft but it got contaminated; there's no date set so it could have been before EPIRBs were easily available; and why have a PFD when you are solo?

People should jump on mistakes less and concentrate more on what a good job the movie does in portraying sailors. He shows how a typical sailor can handle things when confronted with one problem after another and figures out a way to address them without panicking. What would a Kardashian do in the same situation?

Steve Haas
Tesa, Catalina 42
San Jose


I thought it was a very good, suspenseful movie, and Redford was outstanding. But I was distracted by several scenes where the boat was 'sailing' along nicely with the headsail furled and main flaked on the boom; a storm scene that showed a folded sail sitting nicely on the deck; and Redford spending the night sleeping in a liferaft tethered to the sinking boat!

Despite these and other technical flaws, I recommend the movie to any waterman. My wife, who is not a sailor, loved it. The problem is, she didn't want me going to sea ever again! It took quite the song and dance about my equipment, skills and so on to settle her down.

Jim Swartwout
Skipjack, Catalina 350
Redondo Beach


We'd been looking forward to seeing All Is Lost but didn't have high expectations because of Hollywood's weak history in portraying sailing. Beyond the sailing inaccuracies — he cut away his mast with a single swipe of his knife! — the story and 'action' were also disappointing. But the absolute worst part was that they sank three Cal 39s during filming!

Mike Robinson
New Bern, NC



'Lectronic Latitude | Download the Magazine | Crew List & Party
Calendar | Letters | Changes in Latitudes | Features
Classy Classifieds | Place a Classy Ad | Advertisers' Links | Display Advertising
Links | New Stuff | Subscriptions | Distribution | Contact Us | Home
  The West's Premier Sailing & Marine Magazine.
© 2014 Latitude 38 Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.