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December 5, 2008


“I’m glad that wasn’t the windward mark for the day,” says Victor regarding this roller that appeared suddenly off Pt. Bonita.

© Val Ellicott

With the light winds and lack of rain we’re currently seeing along California’s Central Coast, this would seem to be an ideal window for moving boats to sunnier southern latitudes. But we’ll remind you never to underestimate the power of ocean swells — especially when they meet the shallow waters found on the approaches to San Franciso’s Golden Gate.

As Victor Gray and friends found out last Saturday, while daysailing aboard Bob Lugliani’s Express 37 pHat Jack, potentially dangerous rollers can form suddenly on either side of the entrance channel, and elsewhere along the coast. Rule # 1 when leaving the Bay to head south is stay in the shipping channel until you are several miles out before hanging a left, unless conditions are flat calm. To illustrate our point, we’ll remind you that it was just last March that both Kirby Gale and Tony Harrow lost their lives when their Cheoy Lee 31 Daisy was apparently rolled outside the Gate. And just last week two fishermen died off Half Moon Bay after they apparently cut a corner leaving the entrance channel — the nearby Mavericks surf break was seeing exceptionally large swells at the time.

A related reminder is to utilize the invaluable info at the Buoyweather website prior to setting out. Checking the weather buoys along your route, you can see the current and predicted swell heights and the period between them, plus wind strength and direction.

$10,000 Reward for Stolen Catamaran

There’s $10,000 for anyone who can deliver Tranquila back to her owners in good shape.

Leopard Catamarans
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"Remember the Leopard 45 catamaran that was reported stolen from Marina Palmira in La Paz in early November?" writes Patsy ‘sailed the entire Ha-Ha’ Verhoeven of the Portland-based Gulfstar 50 Talion. "Well, on Friday’s net in La Paz, the boat Seascape reported that he’d talked to Manuel de Asis, the Guadalajara-based owner of the cat. He was told the cat’s name is Eslora, that she’s a Leopard 45 (the same as a Moorings 45), that was built in 2000, and that she has two Yanmar diesels. Anyway, the big news was that the owner is offering a $10,000 reward to anyone who finds it. So keep your eyes peeled! Asis can be reached by email or phone at 52-333-642-8308."


We spoke with the owner’s wife Maite, and she confirmed Verhoeven’s report, with one exception — the name of the cat is Tranquila. De Asis said that as the boat is uninsured, they are offering the $10,000 reward in hopes of recovering her in a good condition. She also told us that she and her husband know who stole the boat, saying he is a 35-year-old American of medium build. We’ve withheld his name as we’ve been unable to confirm he’s a suspect in the incident. Finally, de Asis told us they’ve reported Tranquila‘s theft to port captains and various law enforcement authorities and that the report number is LPZ/1684/TUR-2/2008.

The disappearance of this cat is a powerful mystery for several reasons. First, because she’s a sistership to a Moorings 45 charter cat, of which there are only a few in Mexico, she’d be easy to spot. And if you were a boat thief, where would you take her? Given that boating news is quickly and widely spread all over Mexico — and even Central America and French Polynesia — we can’t think of a safe port. As for the notion that she might have been stolen to be scuttled, if we are to believe advertising claims, this cat couldn’t sink even if all the thru-hulls were opened. Indeed, she could be burned to the waterline and still float.

Cityfront’s Best Kept Secret

Pier 1 1/2’s 180-ft public dock has been open for a year but is practically deserted. The high-end Peruvian restaurant La Mar Cebicheria Peruana is conveniently located at the head of dock.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Tucked in next door to the Ferry Building on San Francisco’s Cityfront is what may be the Bay’s best kept secret, at least where boaters are concerned. "I just heard about it last week," said City Yachts’ Chris Kaplan of the free public dock at Pier 1½.

The 180-ft dock, christened last December by San Francisco Waterfront Partners to complement a $55 million restoration of Piers 1½, 3 and 5, was originally touted as a potential stop for a yet-to-be-running water taxi service. Until such a service actually exists, boats under 40 feet can tie up for three hours at no charge while visiting the Piers.

The dock, open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, only has a few rules – no rafting and no boats over 40-ft are the biggies – and lots of benefits.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Do you know of another well-kept Bay Area ‘secret’? Shoot your nominations to LaDonna.

Seller Beware!

We built our boat, Morning Star, in our backyard over a 20 year period — she was even featured in Latitude 38 in 1996, the year we launched her. Selling Morning Star is like selling a child, but finances dictate the sale, so we advertised in sailing magazines and on numerous sell-your-own-boat websites. I’d read about people who would try to con us into giving them our banking information or to get us to send them money so we were prepared when the obvious cons started arriving. They’re pretty obvious — poor English, asking questions that are answered in the ad, they’re ready to buy right this minute, and they ask for our bank info so they can supposedly send a cashier’s check. We ignored them all.

But with the recent market crash, we were getting desperate. So when we received an inquiry from a prince in Dubai that didn’t ask for bank information, we got a little excited and pursued his inquiry. There was an initial ‘tell’ in that he wanted to buy after seeing our website, but by this time we were desperate enough to tell ourselves it was because we have such a great website. As long as we had nothing to lose, why not see if this offer was real?

After some emails back and forth, I opened a new checking account not tied to any of my other accounts and put a withdrawal block on the account. If there was an outside chance he was for real, we wouldn’t want to ignore him. The prince then strung us along for two weeks, telling us his finance department had said that the cashier’s check was on the way and to inform him at once when it was received. After two weeks of checking our account almost daily, we were certain that the prince was some kid hacker who was jerking us around for the fun of it.

He then wrote that he’d been out of town on a business trip and that there’d been a problem at his bank. A few days later we got a call from our banker who excitedly told us he had received a cashier’s check from a Paris bank for $250,000. We were asking $158,000. Now we knew for sure it was a con — the next email would ask for the $92,000 difference to be sent to him.

I decided to give this guy a little of his own medicine. I reversed the con and strung him along for close to two weeks. He got frantic because he wanted me to send the money before the check bounced (it takes seven to nine days for a cashier’s check to clear). I finally told him the check bounced and that he wouldn’t get a penny from me until I had a cleared check. That was the end of our communications.

Always remember that if you’re trying to sell your boat without the aid of a broker to run interference and you get an offer that sounds too good be true, it probably is.

Room with a view – the surrounding panoramas of the Bay are one of the pluses of Loch Lomond’s quiet North Bay location.
The 1,100-mile passage from Tonga or Fiji to New Zealand is known throughout the cruising world as being potentially difficult, if not dangerous.