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February 2017

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At happy hour last night I described the case of the disappearing AIS signals to a table full of microchip designers from Texas Instruments.

They immediately proclaimed "EMF!" or "EMI!" or some such, apparently meaning that since the wires to the masthead light and to the AIS antenna are routed closely together up the mast that they are "talking to each other" or emitting electromagnetic signals to each other and messing up the signal.
As quickly they also explained that this "crosstalk" could be eliminated by simply twisting the two wires around each other wherever they travel together. "Like duh!"

It just might work. Maybe the nerds are going to save us?

Kurt Langford
Sam Hill, 17-ft Grumman Canoe
Tucson, AZ


I wanted to reach out to Latitude in order to get my parents names added to the list of West Coast Circumnavigators. I hope it's possible. They should be listed as follows:
R Sea Kat / Manta 42 cat / Michael and Deana Ruel / Marina del Rey / 2010-2016.

Ryan Ruel
Planet Earth

Ryan — We'll be happy to add Michael and Deana's names to our West Coast Circumnavigator's List. We were glad to feature a number of their excellent reports in the magazine as they went around.

Whenever we become aware that a West Coast sailor has completed a circumnavigation, we add them to the list. But, of course we don't hear about all of them unless someone like you brings their accomplishment to our attention. So we invite all readers to have a look at the
list and alert us about any worthy candidates whom we've missed. Send an email to: .


Three apps I use every day on my iPad are Windyty, for weather; Navionics for navigation; and Anchor Watch HD to let me know if we're dragging the hook.

The first two apps are well known. The third, Anchor Watch HD, provides very useful real-time monitoring of our position relative to where we dropped the hook. It will sound an alarm if we leave a pre-set perimeter. It helps me sleep well at night knowing that we'll be alerted if we drag.

The only issue is that I consistently forget to push the 'Pull Anchor' button, so when we motor away the alarm usually starts blaring.

Lewis Allen and Alyssa Alexopoulous
Quixotic, Voyage 430 catamaran
Opua, New Zealand / Redwood City

Readers — Those are the three marine-related apps that the Wanderer uses the most also, almost to the exclusion of all others. The only bummer is that unlike the other two, you need Internet for windyty.

Last summer the Wanderer and de Mallorca experienced a perfect example of how valuable an anchor-dragging app — there are a number of them — can be. We'd just joined Greg and Debbie Dorland on their Squaw Valley-based Catana 52 Escapade, and were anchored for the night about 100 yards off the breakwater at Dubrovnik, Croatia. There was a light onshore wind, but thanks to the Dorlands' and the Wanderer's 100+ collective years of sailing experience, it was decided there was nothing to worry about.

One of the good/bad things about bigger cats is that when you hit the bunk for the night, you don't really sense any motion. Which is why an anchor-dragging app would have been so helpful that night. For without anyone's realizing it, the wind had come up to about 25 knots, and Escapade had dragged to within literally inches of the jagged breakwater.

Fortunately, Greg turned on his Navionics navigation app after finishing his reading for the night, and realized we were about to go onto the rocks. There was an immediate fire drill, and we got the boat offshore without contact. It was only a short time later that the wind was gusting to 44 knots, so things could have quickly gotten much worse.

We hope everybody takes two lessons from our experience: 1) Even with 100 years of sailing experience, you can still be stupid and make mistakes, and 2) You should always set an anchor alarm after dropping the hook, no matter if you're on San Francisco Bay, at the Channel Islands, in Mexico, or anywhere else in the world.


In trying to come up with a more accurate term than 'reciprocal privilege' for yacht clubs' sometimes allowing use of their facilities to members of other clubs, Latitude suggested 'conditional accommodation', while admitting it wasn't very elegant.

The Turkish yacht clubs call the practice dise dis, which roughly translates in English as 'tit for tat'.

In Turkish culture receiving guests is considered an honor, so the 'privileges' for guests exceed those of members!

Brooks Magruder
Istanbul, Turkey


Our plan has been to do the Baja Ha-Ha this fall. But we may have to rethink that if, as the Grand Poobah has suggested will be the case, entries will be required to have Garmin InReach 'communicators'. Our plan is to do the Ha-Ha next year. We will rethink it if we are required to have a DeLorme. Wouldn't an AIS transceiver be more practical, as more and more boats are getting them anyway? If you're going to make a requirement, how about either an AIS or a DeLorme?

Michael Novak
Bonzer, Explorer 44

Michael — Almost every boat on the Baja Ha-Ha had an AIS, but that would not have solved the problem of the Poobah's not being able to communicate with or locate certain boats. AIS uses the same radio frequencies as does marine VHF, which means it has the same line-of-sight range limitations. If a Ha-Ha boat was in AIS range, the Poobah on the mothership Profligate would have just called the boat in question on VHF, as everybody has VHF.

What makes the InReach such an attractive product? 1) It allows the user to send a mayday from anywhere in the world using the Iridium satellite system. Spot Messenger is a competitor, but it uses the Globalstar 'bent-pipe' system, which limits the distance it works offshore. And based on our firsthand experience, the Globalstar system has not been reliable.

2) InReach allows for two-way 160-character texting, providing a nearly incalculable advantage over EPIRBs and Spot Messengers. (If you have more to say than you can say in 160 characters with the InReach, you simply send another 160-character message.) If, on the other hand, you set off an EPIRB, nobody knows the nature of your emergency. Is your boat going to sink in two minutes or is a crewmember having a heart attack? In the case of the Spot Messenger, the two-way communication is limited to certain preset messages.

3) InReach allows family and friends to track you, something that Spot does also, but only if you're within the limited range of its satellite system. 4) InReach also allows you to post on social media, if you're into that.

You can get the Garmin InReach for not much more than the price of an EPIRB, but there are monthly charges such as on cell phones. The basic plans are pretty inexpensive, however, and can be for as short a period as a month at a time. For folks doing just the Ha-Ha, InReach devices can be rented for two weeks for about $120. But since you can buy one for about $230, and would almost certainly use it later for an extended trip or the trip home, why not buy it?

If we sound like a shill for the InReach, it was sort of like when we used to sound like a shill for the .406 EPIRBs when they came out. The finally reliable EPIRBs were an almost impossible product not to recommend. The same is true with either an InReach or a combination of an EPIRB and a satphone, and an AIS.


I want to thank the Grand Poobah and his team for hosting the 23rd Baja Ha-Ha. Contrary to the one person who complained about the parties, I thought it was great. I attended the parties I wanted to and laid low when I didn't want to attend.

With so many boats, I understand that it's almost as though the Poobah has to herd cats and thus wants a better way of staying in contact with each boat. He is therefore considering requiring that each entry have a Garmin InReach. But since several of us already own and pay a monthly fee for Iridium Go!, which also has tracking capability and is similar to the InReach, I wonder if the Poobah would allow one or the other.

Allison Lehman
Kingfisher, Sabre 426
Point Richmond

Allison — The more platforms the Ha-Ha uses, the more complicated things become, but the Wanderer will look into it.

We know cruisers who really like the Iridium Go! For instance Evan Gatehouse and Diane Selkirk and daughter Maia of the Vancouver-based Woods-designed 40-ft catamaran Ceilydh, who just completed an eight-year circumnavigation. They had an unlimited data plan for their Iridium Go!, which they say allowed them to get weather and read the New York Times in the middle of the ocean — although only downloading at 9600 dial-up speeds.

While everyone should do their own comparison shopping between the InReach and the Inridium Go!, people who bought the InReach from Amazon give it much higher marks than they do the Iridium Go!


In March 1988, my wife Sharon Jacobs and I made a memorable — and ultimately successful — attempt to anchor at Hanatekua, a small cove on the north shore of Hiva Oa in the Marquesas. This was with our Southern Cross 35 cutter Synergy, which we owned from 1984 to 1999, and which we used to cruise extensively on the Bay and Delta, along the California coast and in our Pacific circumnavigation.

The bottom at Hanatekua was a mixture of sand, rock, and coral rubble. As with many Marquesan anchorages, it was fairly deep, perhaps 40 feet, so we had about 150 feet of 3/8-inch chain out. For some reason we just couldn't get our normally reliable Bruce anchor to set. We brought it partway up two or three times, and tried re-setting in various spots to no avail.

I finally cranked the anchor all the way back up with our trusty but back-breaking Simpson-Lawrence manual windlass, at which point the problem was immediately apparent — as you can see from the accompanying photo.

This event happened early in our two-year circumnavigation of the Pacific. It was an early example, with many to follow, of occasions that led me to include an electric anchor windlass on my list of the top three things I wished I had done differently when outfitting the boat.

Sharon and I live in Los Altos. I grew up in Palo Alto, and learned to sail and cruise at the old Palo Alto YC. Fond memories.

With two growing kids and the need for extensive modifications to Synergy to accommodate my wife's handicaps due to progressive MS, we had a Morris 46 cutter launched in 1999. We christened her Tahu Le'a, which means something like "beautiful magic" in slightly distorted Tahitian. We've subsequently cruised her with our kids on the California coast, and two years later in Maine, Nova Scotia, the Bahamas and points between. We still refer to her as "the new boat."

Dave Cohan
Tahu Le'a, Morris 46
Los Altos


Although not as dramatic as the shell on Quixotic's Rocna anchor, we noticed this rock on our Rocna when we retrieved it from the anchorage on the west side of Isla Isabel, the so-called 'Galapagos of Mexico'. According to Shawn and Heather's cruising guide, the anchorage is famous for swallowing anchors.

I can't put my finger on the picture, but during one of the Delta Doo Dahs LaDonna and Rob Tryon brought up a small forest while weighing anchor on their boat. Maybe someone else will share that kind of shot.

Jim and Betty Adams
Flibbertigibbet, Catalina 42
Discovery Bay


We sailed to Jost van Dyke in the British Virgins for the Super Bowl in 1996, dropped the anchor, and settled back with a cold one. Then I noticed that we were drifting back out of the bay. When I retrieved the anchor line, the anchor was fouled by a man's bathing suit, with clothespins still attached. For novice cruisers, you don't pin items to the lifelines, you pin them over the lines and to themselves.

P.S. The Wanderer may remember me from Antigua, where I suggested to you that picking up crew in Santo Domingo in The Dominican Republic might work for Cuba.

P.P.S. Murmur, the Liberty 458 my wife and I were sailing back then, has recently reached Martinique, completing her circumnavigation. Her current owner has to reach Cabo to complete his.

Doug Murray,
Murmur, Hunter 356
San Francisco


My husband Jasper and I met 20+ years ago while at college. Twenty years is a long time to be together, but one of the best times we've ever had together was on our tiny sailboat, the Columbia 34 Mk II Flocerfida, in the doldrums of the Pacific Ocean.

Why? We were together, in silence, far from distractions of the normal world. The universe had given us still-novice sailors a gift by making everything stop. After 15 days at sea, my husband and I finally had a chance to sleep in each other's arms. Today that's a nightly ritual, but when there are only two of you on an ocean crossing, there is rarely time to be together. It's one of the fond memories that I have of cruising.

The first chapter of our cruising life was born in Ventura with our nearly 40-year-old Columbia 34, started with the 2003 Baja Ha-Ha, and lasted about 10 years. We made it as far as Tonga, extended our trip with some land-based travels, then returned to a life with a permanent address in 2005. A short time later we became the proud parents of our little guy, Jasper.

About that time, I sent a letter that was published in Latitude, affirming our full intention to return to the cruising life. I noted that my husband and I had signed a contract to return to cruising in 2010, and posted it near our front door. Well, kids and real life had a way of postponing the target date. As a result, the second chapter of our cruising life has not happened yet.

Fast forward to now, and we are still living a hard-and- fast life — but there is an end in sight. We recently bought a Formosa 50 ketch and are proceeding full-steam with living our dream of sailing into the sunset once again, this time with Jasper, now 10, and Sydney, 8.

With good fortune, perfect timing, and a good boat broker, we found a perfect vessel that is ready to take us whenever we are ready to go. Actually, she found us. For if you look back on the big things that happened in your life, I think you'll agree that there was a stronger force that put things in motion. Our boat's finding us was one of those moments. For when I stepped aboard our new-to-us Flocerfida, I immediately knew that she was the one. We not only had an immediate connection, she yelled at me:

"Take me sailing! Take me around the world!"

There was one big problem. Her exterior teak, including the deck, needed restoration. When we were on the verge of making a decision about buying her, the biggest question that I had in mind was: "Would I rather marry someone who was so beautiful, but I would have to take care of; or marry someone mediocre, but who would take care of me?" Oh heck, when you fall in love you are willing to do more than what is required!

So here we are once again, in the familiar preparation stage for cruising life. We plan to do the 2019 Ha-Ha, and then continue on.

It was, by the way, during the 2003 Ha-Ha that I first met the Wanderer, after which he described me as an 'exhibitionist'. I ponder his remark to this day. I don't know that I'm an exhibitionist, but I am open and free. I express my desires and emotions. I will kiss, hold, laugh, dance, cry, fly, roam, touch, fear, anguish, and love as I choose. As long as it is welcomed.

Flocerfida Benincasa
Florcerfida, Formosa 50
Las Vegas/San Pedro

Flo — We looked up 'exhibitionist' in the dictionary. The definition is as follows: "Anyone who is open and free. Who expresses their desires and emotions. Who will kiss, hold, laugh, dance, cry, fly, roam, touch, fear, feel anguish, and love as they choose. As long as it is welcomed."

The Poobah can't wait to see you and Jasper again, and your kids, on the 2019 Ha-Ha.


The November-edition Letters had some interesting stories about jury-rigging after equipment failures, and I thought your readers might be interested in a few more.

The Frers 49 Bravura was launched for the first time just three weeks prior to the start of the 1976 Transpac Race to Tahiti. There wasn't enough time to shake all of the bugs out of the new boat, so we just went for it and hoped for the best.

We had remarkably few new-boat problems during the 3,600-mile race, but on the second day of the delivery north to Hawaii after the race, one of the engine hydraulic drive hoses chafed through on a bulkhead, and all of our hydraulic fluid drained into the bilge.

We repaired the damaged hose but didn't have enough spare fluid to refill the system. What to do? We did have a generous supply of Wesson Oil aboard for cooking, so after some deliberation we filled the system with it. It worked! We decided to use the system sparingly though, and sailed the rest of the way to Hawaii, putting the engine in gear only to power into the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor.

We later joked that the Wesson Oil worked great, but made the boat smell like McDonald's French fries. Once in Hawaii, we flushed the system and put in proper hydraulic fluid, and the system worked fine thereafter.

The following summer we were sailing Bravura south to compete in the Sydney Hobart Race, and we discovered that the binnacle compass card was tilting more the farther south we got. Apparently our compass was balanced to accommodate the magnetic fields in the Northern Hemisphere, and tilted as the direction of pull changed down south. This became a problem when the card tilted so much it got hung up on the lubber's line, and we couldn't tell what our heading was anymore.

We disassembled the compass trying to collect all of the fluid as best we could, but quite a bit spilled out. We cut the lubber's line where it hung over the card, which then allowed the card to swing freely. But we didn't have enough fluid left to refill the compass. What to do?

Bravura had just won the Around the State Race in Hawaii, and was awarded a case of Red Label Scotch by race sponsor Johnny Walker. We still had most of the case aboard. We filled the compass with scotch, and it worked like a champ until we got to New Zealand and replaced the compass with one suitable for worldwide sailing.

Bill Leary
Moku pe'a, Beneteau Oceanis 351
Kaneohe Bay, HI


Like the Wanderer's excellent experience with Dr. Olga in Punta Mita, Mexico, as reported in the December 19 'Lectronic, I also had a good experience with medical care in Mexico.

I was experiencing pain in my hip, so I had a consultation with a primary-care physician in Mexico, then a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon, an X-ray, and finally a CAT scan. This was all done in less than one week for a cost of less than $400. For the record, I paid these bills out-of-pocket, as I was not part of the Mexican public health insurance system (a public health system that many foreigners can join).

It turned out that I needed a hip replacement. The primary-care physician in Mexico recommended that I have it done in the States because I have health insurance in the States.

It took me three months to get an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon in the States, and another three months to get on his calendar for surgery. It took weeks to schedule the follow-up MRI, and that cost far in excess of what I was charged for the CAT scan in Mexico.

Cindy Patrinellis
Cool Change, Pacific Seacraft 31


Back in the 1990s in La Paz, our then-5-year-old daughter awoke around midnight screaming in pain. There was something wrong with her eye. We called the port captain on VHF. He responded immediately and told us a taxi would be waiting as soon as we could get our daughter to shore.

We were taken to the Naval Hospital, where she was seen and treated by an eye specialist who had gotten there ahead of us. We took her back the next day to have the dressing changed, and she was seen by the same specialist. The bill was embarrassingly low, so we made a donation as well.

Later that year in Alameda I had need for a course of antibiotics, so I tried to see a doctor. I was told it was $250 to get through the door, another $250 to see the doctor for a maximum of five minutes, and then I would be charged whatever it cost for the drugs. I sure missed Mexico at that point.

We are now back in New Zealand where we don't need to live in fear of illness or injury.

David and Angela Howie
Whangaparaoa, New Zealand

Readers — The Wanderer is familiar with and has good feelings about the Naval Hospital in La Paz. He destroyed a disc while aboard his Olson 30 during Sea of Cortez Sailing Week at Caleta Partida in the 1980s. He was in extreme pain for a week, and friends finally dragged him to the Naval Hospital. He was injected with a painkiller and put on a stretcher for a supine trip to Los Angeles on an Aeromexico jet. An ambulance was waiting on the tarmac when the plane landed, and he was taken to the L.A. County Orthopedic hospital. The doctor ordered X-rays, which are no help in diagnosing soft-tissue problems. After examining the X-rays, the idiot doctor informed the Wanderer's then-wife that the Wanderer was "faking it." The nightmare continued for about another month.

In the last 30 years, the Wanderer has gotten excellent health care in Mexico at extremely reasonable prices. He is just one of many cruisers who are of that opinion.


Could you get to the bottom of this story about a terrible Cabo hospital experience by cruisers in need? You may remember that while crossing the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan last May 14, Edward Staples and Annette Alexander's SoCal-based Island Packet Sandpiper caught fire and sank. Despite ultimately having to jump into the water, they suffered burns.

According to their website, they were taken to a hospital in Cabo, where they weren't given any treatment until $8,000 had been charged on their credit card. Before long, the hospital was demanding $30,000. Fortunately the US Embassy stepped in and rescued them.

According to their website, the hospital was shut down while they were there because it had been extorting money from tourists with outrageous fees.

It sounds as if this couple's experience was the opposite of the Wanderer's with Dr. Olga. Any comments?

Lawrence Lare
Planet Earth

Lawrence — We don't for a second doubt that Edward and Annette's story is true. For years it's been a well-known outrage that one or more clinics/hospitals in Cabo San Lucas have been better at extortion than medical care. Indeed, just the other night the Wanderer had dinner with a woman from Portland who reported that six months ago a hospital in Cabo would not provide treatment for a very seriously injured friend until $20,000 a day had been charged against a credit card of yet another friend. That this kind of medical extortion was allowed to go on for so long was an incredible disgrace.

Each year the Grand Poobah has been careful to warn Baja Ha-Ha participants to never go directly to a hospital in Cabo, but rather call Marina Cabo San Lucas first and have them arrange for medical care.

To our knowledge this kind of medical extortion has only happened in Cabo San Lucas. Be aware, however, there are some upscale hospitals in Mexico geared toward wealthy Mexicans and tourists, and their rates are understandably higher than those of the typical hospital in Mexico. But they are still a bargain compared to hospitals in the States.

By the way, Ed and Annette have an excellent detailed blog, with photos and graphics, of what they believe caused the devastating fire on their boat. Their blog is one of the better ones we've seen:


In the December Max Ebb article, the second equation on page 84, second term, should be: T Sin (delta theta/2 ), not T Cos (delta theta/2).

Otherwise it was a very good article. It brought back 55-year-old memories of a course I took as a freshman from Professor Street. We used Shames as a text.

There is a virtually identical example to Max's in article 8-10 in the third edition of Vector Mechanics for Engineers, Statics, by Beer and Johnston Jr., McGraw-Hill, 1977. I wonder if those two got that example from the widely used text — my copy is now in hiding — by a sailboat owner and former Yale professor, Merriam. Rumor has it that he alleged that other authors copied his textbook exercises and examples.

By the way, while in Oregon my father built an Atkins Ingrid Victress, which was — and maybe still is — carrying passengers from the Pegaso Hotel in Vallarta to Mismaloya. I helped log the white oak for the boat from near Corvallis in about 1960. I also machined a titanium roller-reefing system and such.

My father built his boat with a flush deck. She had tanbark sails. He sailed her from San Diego to Cabo, Vallarta, Costa Rica, Panama, the Galapagos, Hawaii and back to San Diego. He sold her in about 1980. In those pre-calculator and pre-GPS days, my 71-year-old mother was the navigator.

I was crew for the passage from Vallarta to Puntarenas. I then took several months to wander the Andean countries on buses. Then I crewed on boats in Panama and later the Hawaiian Islands. Unfortunately, I missed Galapagos altogether.

Gordon Rayner
San Diego

Gordon — Like you, the Wanderer is surprised that such an obvious error didn't jump right out at Max.


As a protégé of Karl Kortum, the founder of the San Francisco Maritime Museum, I noticed a common error in your article on what is now the National Park. The proper name is the San Francisco National Historical Park, not the "historic" park, historical being defined as "of or concerning history; concerning past events" as opposed to historic, "famous or important in history."

This is an important distinction, since the park was a recent creation and not the site of some event in history worthy of recognition. Kortum, a stickler and wordsmith, would concur.

Steven Hyman
Historic Maritime Preservationist
San Francisco

Steven — Duly noted.


I would be surprised if the Baja Ha-Ha rally for cruisers was open to powerboats such as my Kadey Krogen 44 AE trawler. What's the story?

John J. Cox III
Kadey Krogen 44

John — The Ha-Ha is indeed open to powerboats. About four or five sign up each year, and several powerboats have done more than one Ha-Ha. In fact, the last Ha-Ha was the second one for Ken and Dottie Savile of the San Diego-based homebuilt 39-ft trawler Dreamweaver.

Registration for the Ha-Ha opens on May 1.


I'm just finishing my second cup of coffee of the morning aboard my friends' Beneteau 54 here in Richards Bay, South Africa. Elisabeth, a partner in the boat with husband Onni, is polishing the stainless on this beauty that they've sailed here from St. Maarten in the Eastern Caribbean. I'm abstaining, as polishing metal is against my sacred principles.

Such is the life of a boat guest. But I do contribute in other ways, as this isn't a free ride from here to Cape Town. But it's true that, having sold my Brown Searunner 31 En Pointe, I have joined the OPYC (Other People's YC) for the time being. I'm trying to be as helpful as possible without compromising my principles regarding yacht maintenance.

Having sold my trimaran, I'm looking at catamarans. Here's a list of the cats that I'm looking at, and I'm wondering what the Wanderer thinks of them: a late-1980s Fountaine Pajot Casamance, an early-1990s St. Francis 44, a late-1990s Catana 41, and a mid-2000s Knysna 44.

Having been a keen follower of the boat market for the last 30 years, I find it hard to argue with the claim that there's never been a better time to buy — even when you include the "GFC" (Great Financial Crisis) — as the inventory of cats is probably greater than ever.

Having sailed my little Brown Searunner to Thailand from California, I'd be loath to buy a monohull unless I planned to live in a marina. Having seen how my 35-year-old plywood Alviso-built trimaran handled heavy weather, I'm sold on multihulls. I guess I can best describe the way a multi handles breaking waves as that they get pushed sideways instead of presenting a stable mass for the wave to break on.

Jim Brown stands out among the multihull pioneers as having designed a great boat. He's truly a legend, and his boats are a part of Bay Area sailing history
Well, Elisabeth now has a bucket and rag out to wipe down the cockpit, so I'd best get busy and go for a walk, maybe to survey the state of the ocean. We're waiting for good weather to ride the Agulhas Current south and avoid the dangerous southwest gales, which should soon subside in frequency with the beginning of the Southern Hemisphere summer.

It's quite the life being boatless for a bit. It took me just 19 hours to cross the Indian Ocean from Malaysia — via Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to Johannesburg on a first-leg plane full of the faithful on their way to Mecca. Upon landing here, I hit the Zululand YC annual holidays kick-off party and won a lottery grand prize of 2,000 South African rand in bar and restaurant tabs. Between the airplane transit and taking the grand prize as a veritable interloper, I'm garnering a bit of a reputation as a poser. Or perhaps I just need to adjust to the boatless life.

I'm just getting my feet wet in the cruising world and have much to learn and, I hope, many more miles to go.

Tom van Dyke
ex-En Pointe, Searunner 31
Santa Cruz

Tom — When it comes to cats, the Wanderer likes: 1) Length, for ease of achieving higher speeds and, when all other things are equal, greater stability. 2) Above-average bridgedeck clearance, to reduce or eliminate bridgedeck 'bombs'. And 3) Simplicity, because it's more fun to go sailing than to do maintenance.

All the cats that you mentioned are production cats, so we assume all of them are four-cabin models best suited for chartering and not necessarily private cruising. You should also keep your eye out for custom cats, which often sell for less money because they aren't 'brand' names and thus aren't attractive to less-experienced sailors.

What we think is a good example of a non-brand-name cat is Feet, the unusual looking Hughes 36 that homebuilder Bill Anderson stretched to 42 feet. She's an outboard-powered cat that puts much more stock in performance than the number of berths. If the Wanderer were five years younger and five inches shorter, he would have bought her the day he looked at her in La Cruz in order to replace his 'average white charter cat' in the Caribbean. And he may buy her still.

Another non-brand cat the Wanderer thinks is very attractive is Wayne and Carol Hendryx's Brisbane-based Hughes 46 Capricorn Cat, which Blair Grinoles built and then sailed all over Mexico and the Pacific. Nor can we forget Jim and Kent Milski's San Francisco Bay-based Schionning 49 Sea Level, which the couple sailed to Mexico many times and did a circumnavigation with.

It's important to remember that what people like in catamarans is subjective and can fall anywhere in the price/performance/comfort matrix. Just because the Wanderer likes a cat doesn't mean anybody else will — or should. Happy boat hunting!


Like most things on a cruising boat, you need to ask yourself the question: "What sort of cruising are we doing and where are we doing it?" To preview a little, I just removed the watermaker from Mayan, our 74-ft John Alden schooner that was famously owned previously by David Crosby. I made the decision based on 30,000 miles of cruising with and without watermakers. I thought about what kind of cruising we were going to do and where before making the decision.

Based on my experience, watermakers are fussy beasts that: 1) Need clean water or the membranes will be ruined, and 2) Must have the membrane pickled when not in use.

To address problem #1, we build complex and mostly effective filtration systems. These should include at least a pair of filters in series, one coarse and one fine. For a better system, there should also be an oil separator ahead of the filters. For the best system, the seawater pickup should be at least two feet below the surface of the water to avoid oils and garbage flowing around your boat. (It's also a really bad idea to pump the head or empty the holding tank into the sea while the watermaker is running, for obvious reasons.)

As anyone who has decided to run their watermaker in a muddy harbor (like the river in Punta Arenas, Costa Rica) can tell you, the primary paper filter will very rapidly clog with mud and vegetation. After a few days of use, you'll give up and start hauling water from shore. The conclusion you'll come to is that the watermaker is great when you're out at sea or in one of the beautiful lagoons like Raroia in the Tuamotus, but simply isn't worth the trouble when you're anywhere near an alternative water supply.

We spent years cruising our Wylie 65 ketch Saga, and her watermaker was great. We were only in the South Pacific where we could see the bottom in 60 feet of water. When we got to New Zealand we pickled it.

This takes us to problem #2. If you are going to stop using your watermaker for more than a week or so you'll need to pickle it. This requires a source of extremely clean water without any trace of chlorine, and you'll need pickling chemicals. Of course, if you've thought ahead then you have watermaker-produced water, which is perfect for pickling. But you can't use water from your tank if you've used chlorine to sterilize it. Sadly, many of us have failed to pickle in time. The results are damage to the membrane. If you do pickle in time, it's still a pain in the neck similar to decommissioning an engine for winter storage in cold climates. Further, it takes quite a while running the watermaker in clean water to get rid of the pickling chemicals. It's not something you want to do every few weeks.

One final remark on watermaker reliability: Most of them aren't. While the principle is trivially simple, to make it easier to operate many vendors have complexified (sic) the device by adding automated sensors for low flow, the switch-over from waste water to fresh for the tank, and numerous other relatively unnecessary tasks. Having owned three different commercial versions and having built two watermakers of my own, I'm a strong proponent of an entirely manual system. Your mouth is perfectly good at detecting salt; when the output water tastes fresh, put it in the tank. If you start a bit early, a little salt in the water won't hurt you at all. A simple vacuum gauge on the filters will tell you when they need to be changed.

Given all this, where does a watermaker really help out? Clearly, it's perfect for long passages across places where it doesn't rain much — for example, the Pacific High. Why does rain matter? Because any reasonable boat will be designed to capture rainwater. If you're cruising in the tropics you'll have almost as much water as you can use by just catching the rainfall. This leaves us with the obvious question of: "Where do most cruisers actually cruise?" My experience is that very few spend any significant time at sea, and even fewer spend that time offshore where they aren't within relatively easy reach of a port with a water supply. Simply put, there are probably more cruisers in Roche Harbor on a July weekend than the entire Puddle Jump fleet in a given year. Thus, only a very small number of cruisers ever need a watermaker.

For all these reasons, I think an honest assessment of where one is planning to sail, a calculation of how many days the boat will be at sea, and an admission that the watermaker will be pretty useless in most ports, will lead most cruisers to rule it out as an expensive fantasy item that they'll really need to buy when they point their bows toward cruising grounds which are far distant and hospitable to watermakers.

Beau Vrolyk
Mayan, Alden 74 Schooner
Santa Cruz


Evelyn and I purchased a Spectra T-200 watermaker in 2010 for our St. Lucia-based Kirie 446 Aquarelle, as there had been a nasty drought in the Caribbean and we didn't want any water problems for our next cruising season. We installed the watermaker the following year without any problem. The unit has worked well ever since. We use our boat three months a year, then pickle the watermaker until we return eight or nine months later.

From what we hear, drought conditions have returned to the southern Caribbean again this year. In the last drought there wasn't enough water on the islands to allow people to wash dishes or even flush toilets for several weeks. Martinique was the only island selling anything but bottled water, and it was expensive.

Our watermaker makes about 8.5 gallons per hour while drawing about 10 amps/hour. But if it's blowing 20 knots — as it often does in the Caribbean — our KISS wind generator takes care of all our power needs. We run the watermaker every two to three days. We use about 10-15 gallons of water a day and do most of our laundry ashore.

We also have a T-200 on our boat in Santa Cruz. It's also been great.
We're packing to head to our boat in the Caribbean as we write this.

Terry and Evelyn Drew
Aquarelle, Kirie 446
Aptos / St. Lucia

Terry — As most readers know, the Wanderer has a Leopard 45 catamaran in the Caribbean that he and de Mallorca use about the same amount of time as you and Evelyn use your boat. The Wanderer has sometimes thought about buying both a watermaker and a wind generator, but has stubbornly clung to his 'less is more' philosophy.

While 'ti Profligate is now kept on the hard in Antigua when we don't use her, we spend most of our time on her at St. Barth. Despite occasional water shortages there, we've always been able to go to the water dock and buy 200 gallons for about $20.

The Wanderer and de Mallorca have never had any trouble making that amount of water last two weeks. While we're frugal with water, we typically take a couple of quick showers a day each, and de Mallorca does most of the laundry on the boat – not that there is that much in the tropics. So in our case buying a watermaker hasn't made any sense.

We haven't bought a wind generator because the refrigerator/freezer on 'ti is engine-driven. When we run the engine for the freezer, we charge the batteries up for other electrical uses. The sound of the engine running is annoying, to be sure. On the other hand, we think it puts much-needed hours on the diesel. Much-needed in the sense that every boat-diesel mechanic we've ever talked to says boat diesels die from lack of use, not too much use.

If and when the freezer craps out, we'll install an Engel portable refrig/freezer — we have two on Profligate — and get either a wind generator or solar panels to power it.

There are a lot of ways to solve problems on boats, aren't there?


I enjoyed the Grand Poobah's response to a participant in last year's Baja Ha-Ha who didn't enjoy himself. I say too bad for that guy.

I had more than my share of problems when I did the Ha-Ha in 2011 with my 46-year-old Islander 30. My boat was one of several that got caught in a brief 'storm', and we tore the chute. Then I discovered that all the motor mounts were loose. Thanks to dead batteries, we had to have the dinghy tow us into Turtle Bay long after everyone else had arrived, and we had to throw out all the fresh food.

I had more problems. I took a major 'header' at the bottom of the steps at the Turtle Bay pier while carrying two bags of ice. My head ended up between the floating dock and a big powerboat. I did manage to save the ice and my head. In addition, my crew fought all the way to Cabo. One guy even tried to abandon ship in Bahia Santa Maria.

Sound terrible? I actually had a blast! At the tender age of 68, I think I and my now-old Islander have one more Ha-Ha in us, hopefully this year.

Paul Ingram
Rancho Relaxo, Islander 30
Chula Vista/Ensenada, BC


Here's what we think are Puddle Jump essentials:

A robust windvane, such as an Aries, and spare parts. If you opt for an autopilot only, you had better carry spares and know how to do field repairs. Better yet, carry a complete replacement. You don't want to be one of those who have to hand-steer for hundreds of miles because of autopilot failure.

Alternative energy sources are another must. And the more complex your boat, the more you'll need alternative sources. By the way, a boat with a gas-powered portable generator is not a welcome addition to an anchorage. Solar is silent. Better-grade wind generators can be silent, too.

AIS. It's a safety item.

Light air sail(s). People worry about handling the boat in strong wind, but it's surprising how often the wind is light. A big, light-air reaching sail is very nice to have on board. We had a spinnaker. Besides, we were usually on a reach.

Things that aren't essential but we wouldn't go without include: a watermaker, a modern pressure cooker because it saves fuel, and a rain-catchment system.

Randy Webster
Velic, Jason 35
Portland, OR

Readers — The Wanderer wouldn't go anywhere without chutes on Profligate, which carries one mainsail, one very small jib, two gennakers, and four spinnakers. Indeed, the minute Profligate is cracked off just a bit, one of the asymmetricals goes up. Yee-ha! If the wind goes any farther aft, we reach with a symmetrical.

The Wanderer, however, will be the first to admit that flying chutes on multihulls is very different than on monohulls. For example, the 'pointy end' of Profligate is 30 feet wide, meaning there is a huge foredeck on which to drop the chute. The Wanderer doesn't wear socks, nor does he use them with Profligate's spinnakers. In addition, the foot of the main is 26 feet long, meaning the main can very effectively blanket the spinnaker during a drop, making it easy and safe.

If the Wanderer had a monohull, he'd certainly have a furling system or sock for nylon sails to drop them in safety. Although the Wanderer would fly gennakers and spinnakers less often on a monohull than a multihull, he'd go crazy if he had to try to sail deep with white sails in less than 10 knots.


There is only one thing that would be on our wish list if we were to do another Pacific crossing — light-air sails. We had a furling mainsail along with a furling 150% genoa. They worked well for about 80% of the passage. The other 20% of the time we wished we had a cruising chute — something that we could launch with ease and control when up.

We have a storm jib, too, but didn't use it when crossing the Atlantic or the Pacific.

Cam has been in love with sailing the ocean for 40 years. Annette loves smooth seas and hopes to never see another winter. Our guiding principles for cruising? Rig heavily, reef early, and pray often. God does not promise easy passages, but he does promise a safe anchorage.

Campbell and Annette Hair
Annecam, Bavaria 46
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


We started using Skin So Soft at least 20 years ago when a friend recommended it for when we were traveling in Costa Rica. Back then it came in a clear spray and worked really well.

To this day, we use Skin So Soft for no-see-ums. In our experience it's the only repellent that consistently fends off the little bugs that routinely come aboard our boat each night at sundown here in Port Antonio, Jamaica. Having the built-in sunscreen is a bonus if we're hiking around near swampy places too.

Judy and Ron Odenheimer
Cetacean, Tayana 37
Seattle, WA

Readers — We got a lot of positive responses about Skin So Soft. But as you can tell from the next letter, at least one person had a problem.


I've used Cutter insect repellents — they have them with and without DEET — since I was a teenager and continue to use it today in my 60s.

Please caution readers that some people, like me, have an allergic reaction to Skin So Soft. I was chartering a boat in the Grenadines when one of my guests pulled out her Skin So Soft to use as an insect repellent. I asked her not to use the compound as I'd had serious breathing problems when that stuff is around. She went below and applied the substance anyway.

I was immediately suffering such restricted breathing that I had to use an emergency inhaler. I hadn't had to use the thing in more than five years because I'd learned what to stay away from.

I had to confiscate the bottle of Skin So Soft, and my guest didn't like that at all. I told her I'd drop her off at the next island if she was that put out. I threw away the offending product, so it didn't matter one way or another, but she stayed on for the rest of the charter.

Cutter did a fine job for her and I could breathe. Imagine that. She still wasn't happy with me. Go figure.

Curt Simpson
Palm Desert


I was in the Baja Ha-Ha in 2001 on the trimaran Moon Me, and have cruised the Caribbean for about 15 years and Mexico for about six years. I also spent three years mining for gold in the jungles of Panama. What I learned during those years is that you need to cover every bug bite with clear fingernail polish. It stops the itch and acts as a protective bandage. The bite heals quickly and without a scab. I always put a couple of coats on and after a few days it would just flake off.

I've found that Avon Skin So Soft works moderately well as a repellent, but washes off with rain or sweat.

Jeff Nelson
Moon Me, Cross 37 Tri
St. Croix, USVI


First, I'd like to say "thank you" to the Grand Poobah for a great 2016 Baja Ha-Ha. We had the pleasure of doing it as crew aboard Argan Johnson Jr.'s beautiful Long Beach-based Lagoon 400 Mai Tai II. It was such a fantastic experience that I would crew again every year if someone would take me.

However, I'm primarily writing about the previous Letters and editorial responses about canal boats in Europe. My wife and I rented a boat on Canal du Midi in France a few summers ago and loved every lazy day of it.

If I remember correctly, the Wanderer bought his boat in the Netherlands and is keeping her somewhere on the network of European canals. We're seriously thinking about doing the same, but we have some questions:

1) Did he have to pay any taxes/VAT or similar in addition to the purchase price?

2) How did he register the boat? Could we register under American flag from there by mail?

3) If he didn't register his boat in the United States, how was he able to register it in the Netherlands — or any other European Union country — without being a resident?

4) If the Wanderer's boat is registered in the United States, is there a maximum time the boat can stay in the European Union, assuming she never left?

I smiled at the Wanderer's comment about how slowly boats move on the canals. But we quickly discovered that after moving an hour or two, and under a couple of bridges and around a bend, there's always another little village with a restaurant, a bakery, a butcher and a wine shop. Why hurry, why worry?

Bjorn Endresen, Crew
Mai Tai, Lagoon 400
Long Beach

Bjorn — The Wanderer has purchased two canal boats, both of them in the Netherlands. It turned out to be easy, except for a few delays in wire-transferring the money. To answer your specific questions:

1) The Wanderer did not have to pay Value Added Tax (VAT) on either boat, as both were built prior to 1986. Assuming you will be buying a used boat, the VAT should have already been paid. But make sure you have proof of it, as the European Union economy is in the toilet and the countries need all the tax money they can get.

2) The boat registration process varies from one European Union country to the next. It's perhaps the easiest in the Netherlands, where the bills of sale on the Wanderer's boats also count as the titles. You can spend a couple of thousand dollars getting a more official title in the Netherlands, but the Wanderer doesn't know of anyone who has gone to the trouble, and in two seasons hasn't found any reason to do it.

In bureaucratic France, the paperwork and getting the title can be much more complicated. Part of it is that the French, unlike most Dutch, aren't fluent in English. So find the boat you want in the Netherlands on a Monday, survey her on a Tuesday, and take off with her on Wednesday. That's what the Wanderer did, except he did the survey himself on the same day he found the boat.
The reason you don't want to register your boat in the United States is that after 18 months she'll have to leave the European Union for at least a day, or be imported back into the EU at considerable expense.

3) To date the Wanderer has had no problem having an American passport while leaving his Netherlands-registered boat in France for an unlimited time.

4) There is no time limit on how long the Wanderer can keep his boat in the European Union as she's a European Union-titled boat.

In addition to the ease of licensing, there are three other reasons to buy a canal boat in the Netherlands: 1) The Dutch build better boats than the French. 2) Generally speaking, the Dutch take better care of their boats than do the French. 3) If you buy a canal boat in the Netherlands, it's likely to be worth more if you eventually sell it in France. That's why it's common for the French to travel to the Netherlands to buy their canal boats.

You know the only class of people who don't have to have an International Certificate of Competency (ICC) and a CENVI inland waterway license to operate a canal boat in the European Union countries? People who charter canal boats and may have never been on a boat before in their life. They get a no-questions-asked 30-day temporary license. It's sort of like the people who don't need a license to operate a Jet Ski in California are those who rent them.
Despite having owned more than 20 boats during the past 45 years, the Wanderer had to get an ICC and a CENVI. Because the United States wasn't one of the 42 countries that signed up for the licensing agreement, and thus didn't offer the tests and certification, the Wanderer — and de Mallorca — had to become one-day 'residents' of Ireland to get their certificates from the Irish Yachting Association. United States passport, Dutch boat kept in France, Irish licenses — the Wanderer feels like an international man.

As it's turned out, in two summers nobody has asked to see either license. Furthermore, the Wanderer knows of boatowners who've been doing the canals of Europe for many years without either license.

Another issue is the Schengen Area law that says Americans have to leave European Union countries for three months in every six-month period. The Wanderer and de Mallorca have inadvertently broken this law two years in a row, and nobody has noticed. We know of others who have broken this law for nine years in a row and nobody noticed. Or if they did notice, they didn't care. The truth is that the European Union has a lot bigger problems than relatively affluent Americans staying in the EU and spending money for longer periods of time than they are supposed to. However, it is possible to get tripped up and have to pay a fine.

If anyone is looking for an introduction to canal boating in Europe, we recommend Tom Sommers' European canal guides, which can be downloaded on your computer or iPad from Tom lived in the States, including Southern California, until 2000, at which time he and his wife Carol started canal boating. They've been at it ever since. Tom's guides are planning guides rather than mile-by-mile charts, and give a good overall idea of what to expect. And an overall view is critical, as there are something like 5,000 miles of canals and navigable rivers. We particularly recommend his online Euro Canals Seminar, which gives you an excellent overall view of canal boating from the Netherlands to Belgium, to Luxembourg, to Germany, to France, and maybe the United Kingdom.

In summary, buy a boat in the Netherlands, keep the bill of sale handy, and don't sweat it.

As we've said before, if we had to make a choice between cruising the ocean on a sailboat and doing a canal boat, we'd absolutely choose the sailboat on the ocean every time. Unless we were over 70. However, as a four- to six-month-a-year offseason alternative to cruising in the tropics, we'd take a canal boat in Europe over a camper in the western United States every time. And it's possible to do the former for less money than the latter, particularly with the euro headed to parity with the dollar. Paris seemed like a ridiculous bargain to the Wanderer last summer with the euro at 1.10 to the dollar. The dollar is worth 5% more now, and many think it might be worth yet another 5% more by summer.

We sold Marjani, our first canal boat, a 31-footer, to one of our former ad salesmen and his brother and sister-in-law. Here's the report from Cathy Paskin after their first summer:

"We felt that the 31-ft boat was the perfect size for two or even three people.

We never used the aft cabin except for storage, as we really liked sleeping in the V-berth. My only wish would be a little bit more outside sitting area, as it would be really tight with four people.

"We never calculated our monthly expenses, but I would figure an average of probably $12/night for berthing. Our normal breakfast would be fresh croissants for $2, with coffee and juice that we would buy at the grocery store. We would also get a baguette and use it to make sandwiches for lunch. So pretty minimal cost.

"The only true expenses were that we went out to dinner most nights and bought gas, neither of which was terribly expensive. We went out to dinner to enjoy the towns and culture. Although it's possible to spend much more, we spent about $15/person per night. But some nights we would just make a caprese salad or even heat up some soup on the boat. We found that the groceries were much less expensive in France than in the States, especially the fruits and vegetables. Marjani is spending the winter in Toul, and we're really looking forward to going back this summer."


After 25 years in Mexico, it was time to return to Sausalito after my wife died. In 1996 I had gotten a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) in Zihuatanejo that was good for 20 years.

My 1990 Tayana Vancouver 42 Keoke came under the Golden Gate July 28, 2014. At the time, no one knew about canceling the TIP, but I now have that info. I sent my TIP to the address below and it worked fine for me. No problems.

To cancel an old TIP, send it by registered mail to:
Administracion advanera 3
Central de advanera
Av. Hidalgo N77 Modulo IV, Piso 1
Col. Guerrero P
06300 Mexico DF

As far as the police dock in San Diego goes, don’t show up at midnight and expect anyone to meet you. Also, checking out of Ensenada was a three-ring circus and took a few days.

Alan Nixon
Sausalito, CA



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