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April 2017

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IN DEFENSE OF THE FIASCO RACE MANAGEMENT

I can understand the frustration many competitors felt waiting to get the results of the Three Bridge Fiasco race. Many of us can remember what it was like in the 1980s, when we had to wait for the results to arrive via snail mail the following week. Now racers, me included, expect the results almost before the race starts!

I did not manage the Fiasco, nor have I ever, but I have managed a fair number of races over the years, including the Vallejo Race for the past 15 years. Back in 2002-2004 or so, it meant finishing more than 300 boats within a 40-minute period. Yes, that sounds doable, but the boats don't line up single file and cross in an orderly fashion. They come in groups, sometimes 20-30 to a group, usually in light air all drifting together, much as in this year's Fiasco.

The big difference between the Vallejo Race and the Fiasco is that in Vallejo all the boats are finishing in the same direction. In the Fiasco, they can finish in any one of three directions. So it's much more complicated.

When finishing the Vallejo Race, I did then and still do have three separate spotter/recorder teams at various points — bow, midship and stern — of the signal boat in an attempt to get sail numbers from all different angles. In addition, I sit on the finish pin boat with two people recording sail numbers and times. There is a digital recorder in my hand as well as in the hands of people on the signal boat. Just for safety, we have also used video on board.

I'd say that's a pretty fair amount of assets deployed, yet with 300+ boats it never took less than six hours to get most, not all, of the finishes correct. There were a couple of years where it took several days to get everything worked out.

When boats finish in clumps, it is very difficult to ensure you get everyone and in the right order. Add to that some competitors borrowing sails with different sail numbers, which makes it particularly confusing if not impossible to figure out which boat it is. The same goes for so many boats now sporting black or gray sails, with sail numbers that are hardly visible from 20 feet away.

Some of the owners say: "That's the race committee's problem, not mine." Well, that just adds to the mix, so while it may be the race committee's problem, it's going to make participants wait longer to get results.

The Fiasco weekend was one of the few weekends during the years when I didn't have a regatta to manage. So where was I? On a boat, driving for a photographer.

We pulled into the Golden Gate Yacht Club so that my photographer could capture some images from the race deck. While up there for 45 minutes or so during the start, I was amazed at what I saw. The Singlehanded Sailing Society race committee, which manages maybe six races a year, was doing an incredibly professional job. I truly mean that.

They were organized, with everyone having assigned roles and demonstrating competency in what they were doing. The OCS (over early) calls were spot-on. Everything I could see showed me one of the best race-committee teams I've ever seen. OK, so they didn't have a boat on the pin end. Most clubs don't.
The SSS has been hosting the Fiasco for decades, and for decades they have consistently pulled in more competitors for a regatta than any other club or sailing group on the Bay. That wouldn't be the case if they were consistently running sloppy races. To the contrary, those high entry numbers mean the vast majority of competitors feel that the SSS is consistently putting on a great Fiasco.

Was the race perfect? No. I get paid to manage races and I've been very fortunate to have been hired for a number of high-profile races around the country as well as a few out of the country. Have I ever managed a perfect race? Hell no! And I doubt that I ever will. There are just too many variables. The trick is to deal with everything that's thrown at you and make it the best race you can under the circumstances. That's all you can do.

Lastly, money has nothing to do with staffing. I am very concerned about the future of the sport, especially here in the Bay Area, because not only will most people not volunteer, they won't even do it for money. Many competitors say they are too busy to give back to their sport. What bothers me is these people feel it is perfectly OK to expect others to give up their time so that they, the competitors, can go play without giving back. The change in just the past few years has been dramatic. If the pace keeps up, you can expect to be paying a whole lot more in entry fees so that professionals can be brought in. I'm not talking PROs, I'm talking mark setting and so forth. The volunteer base just isn't there anymore.

To the members of the 2017 Fiasco race committee, my congratulations to all of you for having done, in my opinion, a fantastic job under very trying circumstances. I would be honored to have any and all of you on my race committee anytime, anywhere.

Jeff Zarwell, National Race Officer
RegattaPRO Yacht Race Management

Readers — Given Jeff Zarwell's extensive experience running regattas, his opinion carries a lot of weight with Latitude.

ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW ON THE 3BF

The letter complaining about the conduct of this year's Three Bridge Fiasco, conducted by the Singlehanded Sailing Society of San Francisco Bay, was an unfortunate outburst by someone who seems ignorant of the basics of amateur racing. I was the Race Chair of the SSS during the 2014 and 2015 TBFs, as well as PRO for the 2016 event. Let me explain how amateur racing works.

Races are guided by four sets of rules: COLREGs (The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972); the RRS (Racing Rules of Sailing 2017), published by US Sailing; the Notice of Race and Standing Sailing Instructions; and the Supplemental Sailing Instructions published by the SSS (the latter two published by the organization conducting the race); as well as rules and restrictions published in the Notices to Mariners of the local Coast Guard Authority.

When there are modifications of a rule in the first two, these are clearly stated in the Sailing Instructions. These races are generally self-governed.
In my 35 years of experience racing and five years as a Race Officer, more then 90% of the problems in a race come from the failure of racers to read and/or comprehend the various regulations. An example is the complaint about the boats entering the restricted zone around the Yerba Buena Coast Guard Station. It is a documented restricted area, and there is also a requirement to keep a specified distance from military vessels. This means that if you are drifting into a restricted area and cannot maneuver out under sail you must start your engine and get out of there, period.

One feels sorry that you must then withdraw and have "wasted" your money but you can certainly sail along and enjoy the rest of the day even though you will not be scored. We often got complaints from other racers that someone was in a restricted area. The offender should be notified and protested by the other racer, and if it is true, withdraw.

More important is when the race committee hears five blasts from a tanker or cargo ship. This means someone is impeding the safe passage of a vessel with restricted mobility. If the racer does not start their engine and drop out they could be killed or the organization could lose its right to get a permit for the race again. After a TBF when this happened on several occasions the SSS was threatened with this sanction by the Coast Guard. The epitome of such racer stupidity for me was in 2014 when, in a light-wind year, someone anchored in the ferry entrance to Pier 39. Needless to say neither the ferry company nor the Coast Guard was happy.

The finish of the TBF is always an event. It is not only the largest race in the country but is a pursuit race. Thus, in principle, everyone will finish at the same time. With 350 boats coming from three directions this can be a challenge. In 2014 and 2015 there was light wind and few finishers. In 2014 two boats finished and one of these did not have navigation lights on. Scoring was easy. In 2016, however, with many finishers, we had spotters both east and west of the line as well as on the line along with video and still photos. Nonetheless it took until almost midnight to identify most of the finishers. The next morning I was able to track down most of the rest and get a finishing order. As in almost every race there were a few who did not radio or call in when they withdrew, or had not supplied accurate contact information. I suspect that the situation was similar if not more difficult this year, but eventually, as always, a credible finish order was published.

Lastly, as for money, the TBF raises a significant amount of money for the SSS, as do signature races for other organizations. The money is used to compensate the race committee with coffee, bagels, donuts, pizza and soda. It pays for the very popular TBF jerseys and trophies. Any excess money subsidizes the other six SSS races, which at $145 for the season is one of the best racing deals going.

Amateur racing is a Corinthian sport where the racers have an obligation to know and play by the rules and assist the volunteer race committees by cooperating and having patience.

Allen Cooper, US Sailing CPRO
Krissy, Passport 40
SSS Race Chair, 2014-2016

HUG THE SANTA CRUZ BREAKWATER FOR SAFETY


As a commercial fisherman for 45 years, I've probably entered Santa Cruz Harbor about 20 times at night. When I enter at night, I hug the breakwater. Without a forward light or spotlight, this would be very hard and dangerous to do.

Thank God none of the three crew on the Hunter 39 Ebenezer III were hurt or killed when the boat was smashed up on a sandbank in the harbor entrance in late January.

By the way, my number-one rule for motoring in Northern California at night between late November and May is a forward-facing light. That's because there are a ton of crab-pot buoys that need to be avoided.

Tim Mulcahy
F/V Calogera
San Diego

WE NEED CHANGES IN SANTA CRUZ

It's expected that the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor will get a new port director on April 1. This change — welcomed by many boaters, non-boaters, harbor businesses, commercial fishermen, neighboring residents and numerous Santa Cruz YC members — suggests the new port director needs to take some immediate actions.

Santa Cruz Harbor may have a unique shoaling problem, but in my opinion, if the harbor was properly managed by an experienced director, the potentially very dangerous grounding of Ebenezer III on January 28 would have been prevented.

If I were the new port director, I would begin my career by accepting the resignations of commissioners Reed Giesrighter, Steve Reed and Dennis Smith. Those who've followed the various harbor problems under the current port director and commissioners couldn't have been surprised when Commissioner Reed recently stated that "a harbormaster doesn't need to know how to operate a boat." In my opinion this type of thinking, or lack thereof, played a role in the untimely death of a harbor employee last summer.

Next, as port director, I would restructure office personnel and remind them that the harbor's original purpose was for the enjoyment of 'safe' recreational boating. In my opinion, the current harbormaster places a greater priority on parking citations than on boating safety. I firmly believe that every harbormaster should be required to be knowledgeable about the ocean, the marina, boats and the basics of operating a patrol boat.

The port director, the harbormaster, all harbor employees, and any remaining port commissioners should not take boating safety for granted, as I think they have been doing. January's grounding of the Hunter 39 Ebenezer III in the channel could easily have resulted in the loss of one or more lives, and could have easily been prevented.

Joril Bort
Santa Cruz

SAFETY ISSUES IN SANTA CRUZ HARBOR

The grounding of the Hunter 39 Ebenezer III in January luckily occurred without injury. Hopefully, with a few simple safeguards implemented by an experienced port director and harbormaster, episodes of this type will be prevented in the future.

Below are a few suggestions to improve the safety of Santa Cruz Harbor and deal with its unique shoaling problem; possibly these fixes could prevent future incidents:

• Post signage outside the harbor's entrance clearly visible to all boaters. This sign should be illuminated so boaters can be aware of any closure at night.

• Electronic updates and harbor shoal alerts should be posted on the Internet and coastal networks, which would include the US Coast Guard. All updates should also be sent to neighboring coastal ports to both the north and south.

• A telephone number of an office voice recorder with updated conditions or a 24-hour personnel contact number should be posted on the Santa Cruz Harbor's home page.

• Send an email alert requesting yacht clubs to include Santa Cruz's current conditions and the port's channel status in their race instructions. This alert should include a cell or 24-hour contact number.

Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor is currently in a state of change and many boat owners, harbor businesses, tenants, commercial fisherman, neighboring residents, and yacht club members feel the change is overdue. We all welcome the newly appointed port director and look forward to an increase in boater safety and improved day-to-day harbor operations.

Jeff Canepa
SCYC member
Santa Cruz

MY DINGHY COMMUTE IN HAWAII

I definitely have a challenging commute between my boat and shore, even though, at 300 yards, it's much shorter than the Wanderer's in St. Barth, which he reported on in the March 3 'Lectronic Latitude. My boat is one of about 20 sailboats on the hook at the Mala Anchorage of Lahaina, Maui. About six of the owners are like me and live aboard.

My inflatable tender powered by a 5-hp usually handles Hawaii's northeast trades well — except when a squall pounces with wind gusts into the 40s, and we get caught battling wind, waves and current.

We just suffered our third Kona storm, meaning a blow out of the southwest, that lasted all day. I really should get out to lee of Lanai, the island next door where I have previously taken refuge.

A nearby sailor here at Mala named Nico actually rows his tender to and from shore every day, although I have had to tow him a few times when conditions deteriorated en route.

Humpback whales with newborns rest and nurse next to my boat and tender as they blow gently through the night. We are most fortunate to have a place of refuge among these fabulous islands in the center of the Pacific. Aloha.

P.S. We met during the 2010 Baja Ha-Ha, which was a blast.

Emil Giese
Shanti, Catalina 42
Lahaina, Maui, formerly Friday Harbor

DINGHY COMMUTES ARE SOME OF THE BEST TIMES OF MY LIFE

I commuted from the Richardson Bay anchorage to Sausalito every day in 1984-1985. I was going through a divorce, and like many men who found themselves in such a situation, I moved aboard a boat. At least the boat I called home wasn't a big, rotten powerboat with no engine and those huge sliding windows that let in more water than they keep out!

No, I took a much higher road to living aboard. I lived on Blue Peter, a 26-ft PIC sloop that had been built by Kettenburg of San Diego in 1950. I purchased 'Blue Pete' for $500 after she sank behind Herb Madden's office when it was in the white building by F Dock at the Sausalito Yacht Harbor.

There wasn't a frame in Blue Peter that wasn't rotten; her interior was gone, as was her cockpit. I was a couple of years into a career as a boatbuilder, and I bought Blue Pete for a little project to sharpen my skills. Most of my work was done in the Sausalito Yacht Harbor, and I was a member of the Sausalito Shipwrights Co-op. So I could land ashore anywhere from Clipper Basin 3 to the Sausalito Yacht Harbor.

My shoreboat was my 17-ft Whitehall. I had built her after graduating from the boatbuilding school. She didn't have an outboard, just a pair of spruce oars that I had built specifically for her. Even though the Whitehall was a dream to pull, most often the tide dictated where I would get ashore.

Every day I'd wake up from a real good sleep and feed my dog Sharky, who also stayed at anchor with me. While Sharky ate, I'd enjoy the only provisions I ever kept on the boat — sweet rolls and strong coffee. Then it was off in the Whitehall for the day.

Sharky and I would cruise along the waterfront, usually around 7 a.m. It was so quiet out there! Most days Sharky and I were the only ones on the water. Sometimes I would put Sharky ashore and meet my good friend Pete Strietmann for a little sailing. He would sail his always-overpowered Dory APS. And I would sail the Whitehall.

Back in those days you could tie up anywhere on the Sausalito shore, and leave your oars in the boat all day without fear of their being stolen.

Blue Peter was a remarkably uncomfortable and wet boat. But the 'commute' on those peaceful mornings and back to my yacht at night were some of the best times of my life.

Daniel Jones
ex-Blue Peter, Kettenburg PIC 26
Sausalito

Readers — The 1970s and early 1980s, those were the days in Sausalito!
For those who don't know, 'Blue Peter' doesn't refer to the lack of blood flow to the male sex organ, but rather the blue signal flag with a white rectangle in the center, signifying 'P'. When flown alone, it indicates that a ship is ready to sail. In racing, the Blue Peter is raised four minutes before the start of a race and lowered one minute before the start of a race.

It's slightly off the subject, but the most famous racing yacht named Blue Peter is Matthew Barker's Alfred Mylne-designed 63-ft beauty that was built by W. King & Sons of Burnham-on-Crouch in the fateful year of 1929. She was built using teak that had been bought in Thailand 60 years before. The original owner loved the Blue Peter so much that when he decided he wanted a yacht that was 10 feet longer, he decided to lengthen the Blue Peter rather than have a new yacht built.

Back in her day, Blue Peter was a signal flag used to indicate five minutes to the start. The yacht was given the name for good luck.

Barker, who made his money in London finance, bought Blue Peter in 1999. As reported in a Latitude article from several years ago, the yacht was taken to Italy where it took three years to bring her back to her original splendor. Since then Barker has been chartering the beautiful yacht in some of the most prestigious — and difficult — races in the Med and the Caribbean. She's enjoyed the same success that Blue Peter enjoyed when winning more than 50 races in her youth.

THE COMMUTE TO MY BOAT

Unlike the Wanderer, who does a one-mile morning commute from his catamaran to his office in Gustavia, St. Barth, I don't commute to and from my boat in a dinghy. My boat commute starts from Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Assuming there isn't a Rocky Mountain blizzard, I can drive from there to the Denver International Airport in three hours. From there it's a two-hour flight to San Diego, followed by a 10-minute rental-car shuttle ride. Then the best part, a nine-minute drive to my boat at Shelter Island Marina. Phew!

Mark Helm, MD
Nalani, Beneteau 373
Steamboat Springs, CO

WHY I CAN'T SLEEP AT NIGHT

It's been a couple of years since Anna and I sold our Columbia 34 MkII Ichi Ban in the South Pacific, and I won't be able to sleep well at night until I am back on the ocean again aboard a proper bluewater sailboat. Anna and I are so pumped up to get back out there!

We're currently in Sebastian, FL, where I am pounding nails for a commercial framing crew. We got excited about a 41-ft Pearson Bounty II, but it turned out that the boat was trashed and the owner was a total weirdo. We're now looking at a Tayana 37. In the meantime, our boat account is getting bigger, thanks to our remodeling houses in Orlando. We either live in the houses we're working on or camp out in our land yacht, a Toyota Tacoma with a camper shell, a 12-volt fridge, a solar panel, and four-wheel drive.

We don't want a boat that is too much of a fixer-upper. We need a boat with a good rig, a good hull and a good engine, and is decent down below. Who knows, maybe by the end of the year we'll be able to afford a Kelly Peterson 44. Let us know if the Wanderer finds anything he thinks would suit us.

Right now we're remodeling a classic house in a ghetto. There are gunshots every other night. The one thing I can say is that there is lots of work here in Orlando. Funny how it goes, too, as I'm working with a guy we met when cruising in the Marquesas.

Justin Jenkins
ex-Ichi Ban, Columbia 34 MkII
Orlando, Florida

Justin — We'll always remember you and Anna doing the cruising you did on the Columbia 34 you'd bought for $2,000. Big bang for the buck!

It turns out that the Pearson Bounty II that the Wanderer started Latitude 38 on is for sale right now in Santa Barbara for $29,000. Because she was designed to the CCA rule and has long overhangs, she's not a huge boat for her length inside, but she's strong and very seaworthy. Low maintenance, too.

But if you and Anna have a windfall, we would encourage you to step over to the dark side of sailing by purchasing Bill Anderson's Hughes 42 catamaran Feet in La Cruz. As we've written before, if we were five years younger and five inches shorter, we'd have shelled out the money for her the minute Anderson offered her for $80,000.

We think Feet is priced below her true value because she's an unusual-looking connoisseur's high-performance cruising cat, the antithesis of the typical four-cabin, eight-bunk, four-toilet slow and heavy charter cat. Feet is really light and thus sails as well in light air as in heavy air. She's got a camber-spar headsail, which means she's fast off the wind without having to fly a chute. It's true that she's got one outboard (new) rather than two diesels. If you don't know cats, you might think that's a bad thing. While it does have its drawbacks, if you talk to guys like Danny North or D. Randy West, who have sailed tens of thousands of ocean miles in outboard-powered cats, you'd hear the other side of the story.

A couple of people have soured on Feet because she's built of a triple layer of doorskins and epoxy. Big mistake. A well-built triple-doorskin and epoxy cat is not only very light, she's strong as hell.

In our opinion, the super-simple Feet — she has about three thru-hulls, none of them below the waterline — is exactly what a still-young, convention-flouting couple like you need. You'd be sailing twice as fast as the Tayana 37s and Peterson 44s, you'd be sailing almost all of the time instead of motoring, and you'd have tons of room for all your toys and tools.

Feet, which has two big cabins, is not the cat for most people, but if you and Anna could come up with the money, we think she'd be your huge bang for the buck on the dark side.

THE ULTIMATE MERLIN SHIRT COLLECTION

The March 1 edition of 'Lectronic Latitude had coverage of the Lee 67 Merlin's recommissioning ceremony, and showed some attendees wearing a couple of old Merlin Transpac T-shirts. It got me thinking, so I looked through the archives and found that I have a pretty good Merlin Transpac shirt collection of my own.
I've enclosed photos of the fronts and backs of my still wearable T-shirts from the 1983, 1985, 1987, 1991, 1993 and 1997 Transpac races. The 1983 T-shirt was a gift, but I 'earned' the others. I also found four Aloha shirts from the 1987, 1991, 1993 and 1997 races.

What great memorabilia from sailing aboard what was, at the time, the best heavy-air downwind boat on the planet.

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

Readers — Bill is the author of Noodle's Notes, which we consider to be perhaps the best cruising guide to Hawaii. It's available online for free.

THE 'HORNIEST' SAILORS IN THE COUNTRY?

Interestingly, sailors with boats in Sausalito Yacht Harbor and Pelican Yacht Harbor almost always sound their horns when departing — and have a lookout on their boat — because they can't see past the seawalls unless it is an extreme high tide. This may make Sausalito boat owners among the 'horniest' in the nation.

This is either helpful or frightening to the fleets of rental kayaks and SUPs that pass up and down the Richardson Bay fairway. The locals tend to row or paddle out in the mooring field to avoid marina traffic.

Tim Dick
Tardis, Lagoon 42
Sausalito

Tim — Actually, most boatowners in those marinas need to sound a prolonged blast — four to six seconds — twice. First, when they are leaving their berth, and second, when they are entering a blind turn at the Richardson Bay fairway. They are two separate situations.

DRYING OUT THE DINGHY

There was nothing 'wrong' with the way the dinghy was secured in the photo that appeared in the February 17 'Lectronic Latitude. The owner of the dinghy had obviously tied it up in such a way as to allow the bottom of the dinghy to dry out, inhibiting the growth of slime on the bottom. The wheels are in the 'up' position, as is appropriate when not being used for a beach landing.

Dave Cohan
Tahu Le'a, Morris 46
Los Altos

Readers — Among the other readers who came up with this clever explanation were David Sanner and Tom Varley.

WHEN LAKE SAILORS GO TO SEA

The dinghy was tied up by lake sailors doing their first ocean charter.

Jan Passion
East Bay

THE PHOTO PROVES THE DROUGHT ISN'T OVER

The photo shows that despite all the recent rains, California's drought continues to take a toll on Pacific Ocean levels.

David Gauny
Islero, Tayana 52
Ventura

HATE FLYING BUT LOVE THE OCEAN

I have no idea if you will be able to help me, but I placed a sailing advert on a cruisers' and sailors' forum and someone suggested I contact your site. I am returning to my homeland of New Zealand in the next few months. But I have a fear of flying and absolutely love the ocean. So I am seeking a boat with an experienced crew that can take me back home. Directly, if possible.

The only boating experience I have is a lot of fishing with my father, but I am willing to learn and help out (if need be).

Rochelle Aluria Martin
New Zealand

Rochelle — There are more to the parameters and details of sailing to New Zealand than you realize. First, sailing to New Zealand is seasonal because of hurricanes and tropical storms. Secondly, most boats will take four to five months to get there. If the owner and crew just wanted to get to New Zealand, they would, unlike you, hop on a jet. Third, you may think you love the ocean based on seeing it when it's nice, but it can be nasty. Cold, wet, mean and nasty. Even the roughest air passage can be a dream by comparison. And you'd be exposing yourself to periods of fatigue and lack of sleep the likes of which you haven't experienced before.

Help out "if need be." Oh dear.

With all due respect, you need to do an overnight sail or two before you consider sailing rather than flying to New Zealand.

TROUBLE WITH T-MOBILE IN MEXICO

We've run into a snafu with our T-Mobile International Plan that the Wanderer raved about a few months ago. After about four months in Mexico, I got a nasty text from T-Mobile informing me that my account would be canceled irrevocably because of my "excessive roaming." We had three billing cycles outside of their network. Apparently they define this as "living abroad" rather than "traveling."
This is the text I got from T-Mobile: "T-Mobile works with wireless partners to provide coverage when traveling outside our coverage area; but this roaming benefit is meant for occasional use. Our systems show most usage for the last several months on your number was roaming off our network. This violates Terms & Conditions, so the line is scheduled for disconnection on March 30, 2017. For details and contact info if you feel this is an error, visit http://t-mo.co/1NlsgDA."

After my fruitless conversation with their special department — yes, they have a special department dealing with folks in situations such as ours — I was told that my line will be canceled and I cannot do anything about it. Moreover, I will not be able to open a new account with T-Mobile for three months.

Has the Wanderer ever had to deal with a situation such as this? If so, how did he do it?

I believe it would be useful to let people know that T- Mobile's "unlimited text, voice and data international T-Mobile plans" carry a nasty surprise after three months of cruising in Mexico or outside the United States.

Marek, Jan, Isaiah and Helen Nowicki
Raireva, Dreadnought 32
San Pedro

Marek and Family — The Wanderer has had T-Mobile for about 18 months, during which time I've spent about 75% of the time in Mexico, France, the Netherlands and Belgium. In other words, outside the United States. The phone service — 20 cents a minute — worked fine everywhere. The unlimited 2G data was usually good enough for email and sometimes slow surfing in the Netherlands, Belgium and in France. In Mexico, T-Mobile worked great most of the time. Sometimes we would run out of our high-speed data, but often in Mexico there was only 3G data, so we got that for free instead of just 2G. We've repeatedly had decent Internet 17 miles offshore of Cabo!

Our T-Mobile data and phone service was great in Antigua, no matter if we were in Falmouth Harbour or Jolly Harbour. In St. Barth it has been sporadic in the Corossol anchorage, as Orange, the local French provider, is as flaky as a croissant, as always.

While the Wanderer hasn't gotten any bad news from T-Mobile, Doña de Mallorca, who has had their plan a few months longer, and used it in the same places, got the bad news like you did. They are letting her have the service until the end of the month. She has two options. Either she can let them suspend her service, in which case she can't receive any phone calls or voicemail until she gets back to the States and signs up again. Or she can sign up with a new plan once she gets back in the States — but won't get to keep the same phone number. Great.

The whole cell- and data-provider marketing is, to our thinking, the most deceptive of any industry, marketing in which providers use every kind of underhanded method and lies of omission to screw customers.

For a long time T-Mobile seemed the exception. For example, the Wanderer pays $140 a month for heaps of data, text and phone use in the US, and data in 122 countries, for four phones. That's dirt-cheap compared to what AT&T was charging. And it's a month-to-month rather than a long-term contract.

Thanks to T-Mobile's superior plans and month-to-month contracts, they've been killing competitors. T-Mobile's stock rose 70+% in the last year, while AT&T and Verizon stock has remained flat or slipped. As a result, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and others have decided to offer more competitive plans to stop losing customers to T-Mobile. The exact details of their plans are, typically, unfathomable to all but highly paid contract lawyers, and full of small print caveats and other deceptions.

Our recommendation is that you keep researching foreign phone plans on Google and avoid getting locked into a long-term contract. When we left Mexico, Telcel and others seemed to be offering interesting programs. Check them out. Skype and WhatsApp also offer viable options for voice.

Let's talk data alone. While in France for the last two years we used something called Hippocketwifi, a mouse-sized modem that delivered relatively high to high-speed data almost everywhere in France. It cost about $6.50 a day, which was acceptable for business. But outside of France it was a lot more expensive.

Now there is a company called XComm Global, and maybe others, that will provide high-ish speed unlimited data in most countries for $7.77 a day. If you're cruising and doing business, it might be an option. But, as always, read the small print
.

WHICH INREACH FOR THE HA-HA?

I was about to buy a Garmin InReach when I saw the Grand Poobah's announcement that everyone will need to have one if they are entered in the Baja Ha-Ha. There are two different models. Which one do I need, or will either one do?

Jeff Casher
Sea Witch, Liberty 458
Marina del Rey

Jeff — Either one will do because both have two-way communication capability. The more expensive one also has navigation capability.

Actually, the two-way Ha-Ha communication requirement can be met by a number of devices besides a functioning SSB radio, including the InReach, the Spot Messenger, the Iridium Go!, and an Iridium satphone with email capability. The requirement is going to be that every boat be able report their 0600 position via SSB or email at 7:30 a.m.

LIFE HAS FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGED IN 28 YEARS

Talk about different strokes. I got sad shivers when I read that Patsy 'La Reina del Mar' Verhoeven of the La Paz-based Gulfstar 50 Talion was delighted by "texting and emailing friends [with her Garmin InReach] all night while on watch" on the way across the Pacific.

In 1989 I was blessed with all the night watches on a passage to the Marquesas due to a companion's fear of being alone on deck at night. I alternated being delighted in the tropical sky and the weird sea creatures occasionally enticed to the surface with bright lights. To this day the lifetime bank of memories cached in my head remains one of the wonders of my now much-shortened life.

If anyone else wants unsolicited advice from a very old salt, at the very least do communicating with humanoids on alternate days. Give the rest of the universe a chance at your creativity. For letting your mind explore the heavens and the skin of the world below us is a gift not to be missed.

Delta Jay Myers
Never Again 3, Newport 41
Sacramento Delta

Delta Jay — Your point about the risk of electronic devices interfering with one's communion with nature is well taken. However, seeing as Patsy is one of the most hardcore cruising women sailors we know, we're not going to second-guess her personal decisions.

We'll also point out that Jeanne Socrates, perhaps the most hardcore woman sailor we've ever known, enjoys a lot of her time at sea communicating with other friends at sea and on shore.

In other words, life has fundamentally changed in the last 28 years.

WANDERER NEEDS TO PRACTICE WHAT HE PREACHES

On several occasions I've read reports in Latitude about out-of-control dinghies and resulting injuries because the dinghy operator fell overboard without the 'dead man' lanyard attached to his wrist.

Yet the photograph illustrating the Wanderer's morning dinghy commute shows no hand on the tiller of the speeding dinghy, and the kill-switch lanyard hanging limp against the transom!

Jim Palermo
Rat Krewe, Catalina 25
Lake Pleasant, AZ

Jim — Very observant. The Wanderer is considering running for political office, so he was working on his 'do as I say, not as I do' habits that seem so essential when running for public office.

All right, all right, confession is good for the soul. When you dinghy something like four miles a day, complacency sets in, and complacency is the enemy of safety. Thank you for pointing out the error in our ways.

We must say part of our failure to follow good safety practices is due to the fact every nautical safety practice known to man is flouted on a daily basis here in St. Barth. For example, young kids without PFDs riding on the bow of speeding powerboats? Common as tradewind clouds in the sky. People doing 30 knots in big dinghies in the channel where the speed limit is 5 knots? Done all the time, despite the risk to turtles.

THE RALLY ATMOSPHERE WAS REALLY COOL

I did three legs of an Around the World Rally on Les Crouch's San Diego- and Antigua-based Nelson/Marek 70 Maverick. I got on board in Colon, Panama, and did the Canal transit, and hung out in Balboa before rallying down to Salinas, Ecuador. A great time was had by all. The equator was too much fun!

The next leg was out to the Galapagos Islands, where we based out of Santa Cruz. The diving was amazing, and so were the turtles.

I found the rally atmosphere to be very cool, as among other things we got to meet people from all around the world. I think the one thing we had most in common was rum!

Steve Taylor
Past Commodore, Lahaina YC
Lahaina, HI

Steve — While not for everyone, rallies are extremely popular with some sailors. While in Panama recently, Latitude's Andy Turpin reported that 22 of the 29 boats in the current Oyster Around the World Rally were purchased just so the owners could do the event. And Oysters are very expensive yachts.

IT WAS COMFORTING TO BE PART OF A FLOTILLA

We just wanted to express our appreciation for the opportunity to be part of the Baja Ha-Ha with our Beneteau 473 Girl Four. We did the Ha-Ha in 2013 and 2015, with 2015 being more challenging in terms of the weather. It was so comforting to be part of a flotilla and have radio contact with the mothership and other boats.

The Ha-Ha provides a great service to sailors, and the chance to make lasting friendships.

Unfortunately, at the end of the 2016 sailing season it became apparent that because of health reasons we could no longer pursue the cruising lifestyle. So it is with great sadness that our lovely boat — and home — is now for sale. She can be viewed on Yachtworld.

We're going to miss being part of the 2017 Ha-Ha fleet, and we're going to miss cruising in Mexico, which we love, but now it is time for something else. Thanks for the memories.

Tom and Emily Martinez
Girl Four, Beneteau 473
Seattle

Tom and Emily — Thanks for the kind words. We're sorry you won't be able to make a third Ha-Ha, but we wish you all the best.

DON'T FORGET YOUR MAIL AND YOUR CREDIT

In the long list of things to do when preparing for the Puddle Jump, a couple of important items that might get missed are ensuring your snail mail gets to you and freezing your credit reports.

I use Dockside Solutions (www.dockside-solutions.com) to scan my mail every day and send it to me via DropBox. This way I get my mail the same day it's delivered no matter where I am.

Using Dockside, I was notified that someone had opened a JC Penney credit card in my name without my knowledge. Fortunately, I happened to be back in the States when this happened and was able to react quickly to save my credit. Had it happened while I was out at sea, I might not have discovered it until it was too late. Had I frozen my credit reports prior to heading out to sea, it wouldn't have been a problem either way.

To freeze your credit report, you need to contact each credit bureau separately: www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze; www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/credit-education/preventing-fraud/security-freeze; and www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze.

Mark Novak
Betty Jane, Hans Christian 43 ketch
Santa Cruz

Mark — We'd never heard about freezing your credit. Thanks for the heads up.
Another mail-forwarding service that's been extremely popular with cruisers is St. Brendan's Isle in Florida. Not only do they offer mail forwarding, they can help you obtain legal residency in Florida. Lots of cruisers from California who don't believe in high taxes and public employee pensions use St. Brendan's to become Florida residents.

LOOKING FOR AN OLD BOAT

Can you help me? I'm searching for information about Hans Christian Heinrich Frohlich, who was my father and a Swedish citizen. I'm also searching for information on the sailing vessel Isabelita Betancor. The last I know is that she docked at Recife, Brazil, in the early 1970s.

As far as I know, Isabelita Betancor is still a Spanish-flagged vessel. From the official Spanish list of vessels from 2002 and 2009, I know that she was registered in Las Palmas, and that her distinguishing mark of EA4872 was registered in folio 583 5th.

Isabelita Betancor was built of traditional wood construction in Las Palmas in 1948 for Ramón Betancor Villalba, and was originally registered with the number 2041 of the 3rd list of fishing vessels. She was ketch-rigged and a pure sailing vessel. She is 15.26 meters long, has a beam of 4.97 meters, draws 2.28 depth, has a gross tonnage 23.14 TRB and the net tonnage 12.80 TRN. The cost of the construction was 50,000 pesetas.

On May 27, 1969, she was changed to pleasure-boat registration, 5th list, with the 583. On June 15, 1970, she was sold to two Swedish citizens, Hans Christian Heinrich and Mari Anne Moller for 20,000 pesetas. I know they installed two 25-hp engines before they set sail for South America in 1971.

I would be grateful for any information about Isabelita Betancor and her crew. This is how people can help: 1) Share this post or link to the page in your feed, or in a private message to your friends. 2) If you know people who sailed or have contacts in the world with other sailors, tell them about this. In this way I hope that as many people as possible get to read this, and then the chance that I'll get to know something about what happened to the boat and the crew will increase.

Ingrid Fröhlich
ingridfrohlich@icloud.com
Branan, Sweden

HE TOOK OUR DINGHY AND PARTIED WITH LOCALS

I wrote in last month about the potential problems of alcohol and crew. I have a few more thoughts.

It's important that the owner of the boat decide on an alcohol-while-underway policy. Our policy was no alcohol while underway — although I would occasionally bring out a bottle of wine with dinner on a calm night.

We did have a crew who stashed liquor in his cabin. We could tell when he'd been drinking. We also noticed that he'd shake and show signs of DTs. Whenever we got to port, he would rush for the nearest bar and party. We ended up paying for it.

He took our dinghy ashore in the Marquesas one night and partied with the locals. He hadn't taken proper care of the dinghy — a 13-ft inflatable with a center console and a 30-hp outboard — so it was found smashed and sunk on the rocks the next morning. It was a significant financial loss.

It was also a huge inconvenience not having the dinghy when cruising from the Marquesas to Tahiti. As there are no marine stores in the Marquesas, we had to get by with a JY, which is a 9-ft sailing dinghy for two people. This what our crew of six had to use to get to and from shore for the next two months.

The crewmember with alcohol issues left the boat in Papeete.

I'd previously had a situation with sick crew. Since he was paid crew, I was required to fly him home and pay for his medical care. Under maritime law the captain is responsible for the safety and welfare of the crew. After that, I required all offshore crew to have a medical exam. I now also make sure the crew has medical insurance so I'm not stuck with hospital bills again.

So before departing for the Pacific, I had a doctor friend check what had become of our drinking crewmember. I got a call from the doctor a few months after our drinking crew left the boat. He'd been asked to perform an autopsy on that gentleman, who, it turned out, had suffered a fatal heart attack while sitting on a boat in California. I'm so glad I didn't have to deal with a death on our boat!

Caren Edwards
ex-Rhapsodie, Marquesas 56
Silicon Valley

A WOMAN'S VOICE WAY TOO CLOSE

Reading the 'Lectronic item about a guy with an engineless rust-bucket dropping two anchors on top of 'ti Profligate's one, with strong winds approaching, sort of reminded me of a somewhat similar incident that happened to us.

One blustery night about four years ago, our Catana 52 catamaran Escapade was safely tied to the second buoy from the beach at Baie de Colombier, St. Barth. As is often the case in that gusty wind tunnel, our big cat was sailing around on the mooring ball. We'd become accustomed to sleeping through such conditions, even with the wind singing loudly through the Kevlar rigging.

But both Debbie and I were awakened by the sing-song sound of an alarmed women's voice speaking French. She sounded way too close!

Switching on the bright foredeck light as we ran on deck, we could see a beautiful young woman, who we later learned was a Nigerian named Coura, doing a reasonably good job fending her 10-meter boat off our boat's headstay. George, her boat's skipper, was at the helm, and in a difficult situation as his boat was broadside to our carbon sprit.

It wasn't George and Coura's fault they were in the situation they were. Their boat's mooring line had chafed through and set their boat free. Fortunately, we were able to untangle the two boats, and we were all able to retire for the night.
There was about $1,500 damage. It could have been a lot worse.

The next morning George and his lovely wife rowed over as soon as they saw that Debbie and I were up and on deck. They were totally apologetic, and had their insurance documents in hand. That evening we had drinks onboard, as we did two or three times after the incident whenever we would see them in an anchorage.

George was a retired French postal worker on a pension, and had wonderful insurance through his former work. He kept in touch by email to make sure that we were paid for the damage. And we were.

Sometimes you run into, or get run into, by the nicest people.

Greg Dorland and Debbie Macrorie
Escapade, Catana 52
Squaw Valley/Croatia

40 YEARS OF LATITUDE 38

When the first issue of Latitude 38 was published In 1977, I was a sophomore at Novato High School, sailing homebuilt skiffs on the Petaluma River.

I've been an avid reader of the magazine, and have about 35 full YRA seasons of racing in San Francisco under my ass. Over the years there have been many fine articles, editorials, satire, and one or two poems published in your rag. (Loomings rocks!)

In my humble opinion, the reporting, commentary and dialog surrounding the loss of Low Speed Chase was a turning point for both your publication and the sailing community at large. I was on a Hobie 33 that day and made the unpopular decision to abandon the race somewhere near the S.F. Approach Buoy.

The dialog between racers, event authorities, the US Coast Guard and local law enforcement/responders as a result of Latitude's coverage significantly changed the way we race — mandatory safety at sea, PFDs with leg straps, etc. — way more than simply flying a Z flag.

Keep up the good work, Bravo Zulu.

Jeff Bruton
Palo Alto

Thanks Jeff. It's good to know that something positive resulted from such a crushing tragedy. — aet

THE ONLY BIBLE I READ

Latitude 38 is truly a great magazine and the only bible I read! I have been sailing most of my 56-year-old life and after moving to San Francisco 30 years ago my sailing path crossed with Latitude 38. I went to a crew party and got hooked up with a Catalina 30 owner who took a lot of people out a couple of times a week. I was hooked on sailing on the Bay. Next came a Crew List Party where I got a spot of a Knarr boat, and we raced on Wednesday nights. I have since been full-time crew on many boats and have done all the Bay races; sometimes many times. The Jazz Cup is the new favorite. I have also had a few sailboats on the Bay and currently own a Beneteau that takes me away. I feel Latitude has been with me the whole way, as a mentor showing me the way, and keeping my focus on sailing away someday — Baja-bound with the Ha-Ha soon. Keep it up!

Greg Clausen
Free Spirit
Beneteau 390, Tiburon

YOU HELPED

The Latitude 38 staff has helped keep my boating focus (on both the East and West coasts) alive all these years. Your publication gets better with each issue. I hope it is as rewarding and profitable on your side as it has been inspiring on my side.

Thank you, staff and founder, and Happy 40th Anniversary!

Dick Robinson
Liberty, Pearson 10M
San Francisco

REMEMBERING LATITUDE IN THE PRE-PC YEARS

Your mention of "Pre PC" hit a strong chord. I've been reading Latitude since its inception. Founder Richard Spindler knows me pretty well. (A cover featuring my daughters supposedly gave him domestic problems.) I must admit that Latitude was more interesting in the pre-PC days. For years Latitude was a cover-to-cover nonstop read. But as the years wore on and PC began to be considered, the intensity of my reading concentration lessened. And when my wife and I sailed back from Mexico in 2009, I found that Latitude was no longer the strong, read-immediately-upon-distribution magazine that it had been in the decades past.

Yes, it still carries the sailing information that it used to, and, in some ways, is even better than ever. But the oomph is no longer there.

Sam Crabtree
Catch the Wind, Cal 39
Richmond

Sam — Thanks for your candid critique. We will make it our mission to recapture the 'oomph' — at least to the extent that the PC police will allow.

DOCKTOWN'S SHRINKING COMMUNITY

As many of you know, Redwood City has entered into a relocation plan for Docktown, and I think that most boat residents have had interviews with Overland, Pacific & Cutler.

Because of the city's new rules there can be: 1) No transferring of the slip or liveaboard rights. 2) No new watercraft, even replacement vessels, allowed. 3) No new owners of any of the boats.

The City of Redwood has stagnated our community for five years by: 1) Not permitting any new members of our community. 2) Offering a 15-year lease, then taking it off the table, causing much strife in our community. 3) Not doing the necessary maintenance.

We have no harbormaster at Docktown. There is no waiting list for boatowners who need slips. As such, our entire boating community is on 'hospice watch'. Two of the liveaboards at Docktown have passed away. Their boats need owners and current insurance. An empty liveaboard boat can be a hazard, especially given the high number of homeless people in Redwood City and the fact there is no harbormaster.

Overland, Pacific & Cutler will apparently be making offers to some Docktown residents in the next month, and we think some people will accept them, weakening the remaining community.

What we would like is that all boats that have been taken or given to Redwood City be offered back to the Docktown community, so that the residents can trade their current boats for the ones that have been abandoned or purchased by the city. This would insure that only the best boats would be allowed to stay in Docktown. I would also like it known that Redwood City has destroyed most of the affordable units they have taken control of.

Imagine living in a community where homes better than yours are being destroyed. It seems unfair to all involved. We think as many as 25 units are involved.

Edward Stancil
Docktown, Redwood City

 

 

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