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Photos of the Day

January 9 - Lake Tahoe

Today's Photos of the Day come from Steve and Pam Lannen of Lake Tahoe, who write, "We've been seeing a lot of photos of beautiful tropical sailing in recent 'Lectronic Latitudes, so we decided to send you a couple of photos of how the rest of us live."

Layered clothing is recommended when ice-breaking.

The first photo is a picture of a guy doing what we would call 'ice boating'. In the second, somebody apparently forgot to shovel the snow off the deck of a boat, which caused her to sink.

"The boat looked fine when I left her in the berth in the fall."
Above Photos Courtesy the Lannens

Are we the only ones who think that the words 'snow' and 'boat' should never appear in the same sentence? Are we the only ones who think the guys doing the Volvo Race are out of their bloody minds? Have they not heard of the Panama Canal? Have they not sailed with women crew in bikinis?

We thank the Lannens for their contribution, but if they are trying to make the Wanderer feel guilty for doing a couple of weeks of work in the Caribbean, they are underestimating his new commitment to superficiality. And in any event, the Wanderer feels it's important to show sailors the kind of options they have in life. No, it's not necessary to have to endure cold and gray winters - not when it's possible to cruise Mexico very inexpensively and the Caribbean relatively inexpensively. And the truth of the matter is, the only thing that prevents you from being one of the folks playing in the warm waters of Baie St. Jean near your anchored boat is a strong enough desire to do it. We have friends who have been living aboard on the hook in St. Barth for nearly 20 years, and having a grand time raising their two boys on what would be below the poverty level in the United States. It's not for everyone, but it's an option.

Making peace with the salubrious weather at Baie St. John.

But even some snow-addicted mountain folks know they don't have to suffer the snow. Just last week, for example, we got a letter from Ken, our best sailing friend in Tahoe, who reported that he'd made an offer on a relatively large cat on the East Coast. If the deal goes through, we're sure he'll be headed for the tropics rather than Greenland.

We'll be here in St. Barth for just a few more days doing 'research'. Sure, it sounds like a joke, but there's actually a grain of truth to it. With the island having gone quiet in the lull between New Year's and late January, it's been the perfect opportunity for us to hang with the captains, crews, and owners of boats that do the Caribbean, Med, and East Coast circuit. They are loaded with interesting information we couldn't get anywhere else.

Working conditions, however, are often deplorable. The problem is that many of the subjects are usually only available late at night, three sheets to the wind, in some noisy bar. For example, about midnight the other night, we were at the Bete A Z'ailes trying to interview Tom (Last Name Unknown because of the mayhem) from Galway, Ireland, a lifelong beach cat sailor and J/109 owner, who recently bought Safari, a used Gunboat 62.

Who in this photo is the skipper who keeps saying, "We'd better go back to the boat, we're setting sail for Antigua in a couple of hours!"

He was attempting to tell us about owning a restaurant/pub in Galway, sailing on the chilly west coast of Ireland, and how much he loved Cepholonia, Greece. Alas, we could hardly hear a word. The problem was that Jimmy Buffett had decided to play the bar again for free, and people were dancing, singing along at the top of their lungs, pouring alcohol down each other's throats, and passing around spliffs of the local stuff. When we looked at our notes in the morning, they were unintelligible.

Jimmy B. was back playing once again, making it difficult for honest journalists to do their work.

Of course, you can't blame the captains and crews for needing to blow off a little steam after the New Year's charters, because that can be rough work. One captain reported that when his European family came aboard, the first thing papa did was slip into the galley to put a little white powder up his nose. The wife was preoccupied with other things, so by default the skipper ended up having to babysit the two rug-rats - who didn't understand English and in any event weren't very obedient. After dinner, the jittery Mr. Charterer decided he needed "a little time alone." Somewhere between the dinghy dock and the rockin' Yacht Club night spot, he fell into the harbor. Mr. Charterer saw no problem with entering the night club dripping wet, but the bouncers did, so there was an extended bit of trouble. About 4 a.m., Mrs. Charterer thought that her husband had had enough time to himself, so she awoke the captain to contact the gendarmes. When all this happens in the first 18 hours of a 10-day charter, you know you're going to earn your money. Naturally, Mr. Charterer disappeared without a tip.

"It was a character builder," said the skipper, "as he took a big hit on a funny-looking cigarette.

It's nice to have a big boat in the Caribbean, but lots of sailors get by with small ones.
Photos Latitude/Richard

Fine Sailing this Weekend on the Bay

January 6 - San Francisco Bay

Hopefully if you couldn't get away to the Caribbean this week, you could at least get out on San Francisco Bay this weekend.

Saturday morning started off with a bizarre current drawing puzzlement from Golden Gate YC Midwinters racers, who quaffed the free coffee and nibbled the free danish in the clubhouse while wondering why, if the Tide Book predicted a 3.8 knot ebb at 10:18, that chunk of styrofoam float was traveling inbound along the breakwater at such a brisk pace? The flood was obvious on the sailboats being pushed sideways and the water streaming eastbound off the buoys. The race committee went with the flow, sending the first seven divisions on a downwind start to Fort Mason.

Turns out the ebb was to the north of a mid-Bay east-west tideline that was a mess, strewn with debris from upriver, including Delta water hyacinths, a propane tank, and lots and lots of branches and other wood. Besides dodging the flotsam, the GGYC racers sailed through a rain squall, which did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the competitors or screw up the nice breeze. For results, see www.ggyc.com/racecommittee.php.

Sunday dawned bright and blue and stayed that way. We used the opportunity to take the Latitude helicopter for a spin (or was it a bike on Angel Island? You be the judge).

Plenty of slips and moorings to choose from at Angel Island's popular Ayala Cove

Also no shortage of boats out on the Bay . . .

. . . including 33 Sausalito YC Midwinters racers, some who have just rounded Knox in this picture. For results see www.syconline.org.
Photos Latitude/Chris

What's the Life Expectancy of Outboards?

January 9 - Sausalito

We at Latitude are thinking about purchasing a new-to-us photoboat. One that looks promising is powered by two 200hp Yamaha outboards. We know nothing about larger outboards, and are wondering if you experts out there could give us an estimate on the life expectancy of such outboards if they were not abused and were well maintained.

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