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I've been a faithful reader for years, and now I need Latitude's help. On August 22 at about 1530 hours, a friend of mine was run down while aboard his Zodiac at the entrance to Pillar Point Harbor. The vessel that ran him down was a 35 to 40 foot white fiberglass sportsfishing boat with red bottom paint.

My friend heard the sportfishing boat coming up behind him at about 20 knots, and tried to veer out of the way. But he couldn't escape. Before my friend was run down, an older male on the sportfishing boat's foredeck looked right at my friend. And just as the boat's bow came over the top of my friend, he saw the older man turn back to warn the driver.

My friend was seriously injured in the collision but was left in the water to die! Fortunately, he managed to get back into his inflatable and make his way back to his boat at anchor. It's possible to imagine being run down by another boat by accident, but who can imagine someone not stopping to assist the victim? It's almost murder!

The case is under investigation. Nonetheless, I'm asking that anyone who hears any scuttlebutt about the incident to contact the San Mateo District Attorney at (415) 363-4810; the Harbormaster at (650) 726-5727; or me at (415) 681-4366.

Please help us catch these SOBs!

Daryl Nick
Northern California


As a cruising sailor, I should have known that a lot of boats trail a fishing line. Unfortunately, I didn't think of it as I sailboarded past a southbound cruiser to the north of Santa Cruz. I nearly became his 'catch of the day'. Luckily, I bailed out in time to avoid the hook on the end of the line. The thought of what could have happened still makes me shiver.

Anyway, if you're trailing a fishing line, please pull it in when sailing through a windsurfing area. Thanks!

Tom Gistin
Santa Cruz


Atop the Royal Naval Observatory in Greenwich, England, stands a pole with a very large red ball. According to signs everywhere, this ball, by falling at "precisely" 1300 GMT, has historically provided the accurate time for the surrounding countryside.

By 12:50 I had finished marvelling at Mr. Harrison's chronometers in the observatory's museum and had repaired to the courtyard, where I spent the next 10 minutes looking up at the red ball and trying to figure out how I would set the seconds on my digital watch when the red ball fell.

At 12:55, the red ball began to slowly ascend the pole. At 12:59:50, the children in the crowd began chanting "10, 9, 8, 7, 6. . ." At 1:00 p.m., a gun was fired from the Royal Naval College in the town below but the red ball didn't budge!

The children started another countdown. And another. And I kept resetting my watch. By 1:10, I began to think that my fellow tourists and I had all miscalculated due to Daylight Savings Time or something. At 1:12, I gave up and asked Ernie, my colleague, to wait a moment while I went to the loo. And wouldn't you know it, I missed all the action!

According to Ernie, at 1:13 a man in a security guard's uniform crawled out a window onto the roof, and prodded the red ball with a broomstick. The red ball, thus prompted, fell at 'precisely' 1:13:23. So much for the accuracy of Greenwich Mean Time.

I arrived back on the scene as the uniformed guard was returning to his post. He cheerfully explained that the mechanism had been problematic for some time, and that he periodically has to give the ball a "nudge".

I wish you'd been there to see it. I wish I'd been there, too!

Jane Lovell
Midnight Watch YC
S.F. Bay Chapter

Jane How the mighty fall! It was less than 100 years ago that the 30 million or so Brits controlled half of the world's population. Now the monarchy is in shambles and they can't even put on a reliable dog and pony show at Greenwich, ground zero of time keeping.

Any mariner who visits London should make the short trip best by boat along the Thames to Greenwich and the observatory. There you can not only see the balky red ball, but you can straddle a medal plate that marks the Prime Meridian. The Wanderer reports he got the shivers when he straddled the Prime Meridian although it may have had something to do with the hussy he happened to be kissing at the time.

Incidentally, the recently released Longitude, The True Story of A Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, by Dava Sobel, is about measuring time for navigation and "Mr. Harrison's chronometers". It might sound like a boring topic, but folks who've read it and this includes two 'little old ladies' report that it's fascinating.


Congratulations on Latitude's terrific article about TransPac 97! Rob Moore did a great job describing all the races within races, and digging out the good stories. Everybody, from Roy Disney to Keith Stump, had their personal saga retold. Moore accurately reported the facts and controversies of this year's event.

Being up to my ears in the TransPac '97 organization, I'm compelled to respond to the comments by Mike Campbell, who is both my friend and a turbo-sled owner. TransPac did not move the goalposts as Campbell claimed. The IMS VPP-based TransPac Speed Limit definition was finalized and previewed to naval architects in the spring of 1996 more than a year before the race. It was also published as part of the Sailing Instructions and appeared in the TransPacific Yacht Club directory in September of 1996. That definition has not changed!

What did change was the IMS VPP. In the process of eliminating loopholes, US Sailing changed the velocity prediction algorithms not once, but twice, between April and May of this year. These changes permitted some boats to add sail area and still be within the 'speed limit'. Boats optimized to certificates issued in January received new certificates that showed they were "under powered." But yes, I can see how an owner might have perceived what happened as 'the goalposts being moved'.

So the TransPac learns another lesson. US Sailing can improve the VPP in midyear. I am confident that the 1999 TransPac Speed Limit will specify the VPPs as they exist in either January 1998 or January 1999. No mid-stream changes will come from TransPac.

Dan Nowlan, Entry Chairman
TransPacific YC

Dan While we're on the subject of TransPac, the Wanderer would like to make two observations on post-race aspects.

First, are the 'Follow Me' boats not unnecessary relics that tax the TransPac's limited resources? Given today's superior navigation aids and devices, does anyone really believe that finishers need to be shown the way from the Diamond Head Buoy to just outside the entrance to the Ala Wai? Would it not be more efficient and less of a hassle if there were a couple of small inflatables to meet the boats just outside the Ala Wai?

Second, it's clear that the great post-race parties for individual boats have gone the way of full keel racing boats. Why not set up a finisher's 'party central' on the lawn next to TransPac Row? There, with less effort and more comfort, the crews as well as their family, friends and competitors could enjoy the much-appreciated post race drinks and food.

By combining all the parties, enough money would be saved to pay for some hula dancers and bands during periods when several boats were finishing. You know, put some giggles, laughter, and dancing back into TransPac finishes. To help promote a festive atmosphere and to keep everyone cool in the overpowering Ala Wai heat, we at Latitude might even pick up the tab for erecting a portable swimming pool at the site.

One of the nice features about the West Marine Pacific Cup is that it's only 100 feet from your boat to party and social central at the Kaneohe YC. We think it would be in the TransPac's best interest to try to duplicate that atmosphere along TransPac Row. This would also entail plenty of seating and shade for the girlfriends, wives, and families waiting for boats to arrive.


Following a two year absence, I'm heading back down to San Carlos this winter with my new fiancee. After weighing the options, we've decided that it would be not only fun, but also appropriate to get married aboard Mona, a Westsail 32 that I completed 10 years ago and sailed down from California.

From time to time I've seen articles in your magazine about people getting married in other countries. I've also heard that it's legal for the captain of a vessel to marry people. Can anyone tell us what kind of hoops we'd have to jump through to get married onboard in Mexico? I'm sure we could find a fellow cruising skipper who'd be willing to marry us if it's legal.

Drake Butler
Mona, Westsail 32

Drake The Wanderer recommends getting married onboard. He did it once, and it lasted the longest of all his marriages.

As for the legalities, here's the straight stuff from the officials in Marin County: It's legal for you to get married in Mexico or any other foreign country so long as the government of whatever country you visit will allow it. Keep in mind that some countries have various restrictions on how quickly people can be married or if foreigners can be married at all. In any event, normally you'll be given an official document that proves you got married.

If you don't receive an official document, you must visit Superior Court on return to the United States to file a petition to get a Certificate of Marriage. Between five and ten days later, you'll appear before a judge who will make the decision whether or not to award you the certificate.

It is legal to be married by a licensed captain but only in international waters. If you're within whatever territorial waters a country claims, you have to abide by whatever rules they have for foreigners getting married. Some countries will let a captain marry you, other countries won't.

In any event, we wish the two of you all the happiness in the world together.


In your September 1997 issue, you had a feature on weekend boating trips to Petaluma. The paragraph regarding etiquette while awaiting a bridge opening states that, "according to Petaluma bridge tenders, barge owners Mitch and Barbara Lind don't mind these temporary tie-ups" meaning to our tugs and barges while awaiting the bridge opening.

This is not true. We do not want anyone tying off to any of our vessels or docking facilities. And we do not want any pedestrian traffic through our property.

In kinder, more gentle, and less litigious days, it may have been an automatic courtesy easily extended. But in speaking with our marine insurance broker, we have verified that we can't allow tie-ups to any of our docks or vessels. Furthermore, there are no phones near the D Street Bridge, and if somebody attempts to disembark at our work docks, there is nowhere for them to go, as our property is gated and fenced all around.

Since Petaluma is now getting its lion share of boaters, and bridge tie-ups are a problem, I would greatly appreciate your dropping a small note to correct this information. I don't know who gave you the erroneous information, but I've notified the Petaluma Department of Public Works as well.

Thank you for your help with this. We really enjoy your publication.

Barbara Lind

Barbara Thanks for that correction. We're certain that our readers will take notice, understand, and therefore refrain from tying up to your docks, vessels, or walking through your property.

On the subject of our litigious times, we further hope that our readers will do everything within their power to help decimate the corrupt American system of litigation, which is an insult to anyone who has even the slightest regard for truth and justice. Having never lost a lawsuit, we're speaking from disgust rather than bitterness.


Like many others, I have been reading your awesome magazine for longer than I can remember. Six years ago I bought Scalawag, a Transpac 49 that you displayed in the 'Looking Good' section several years later. Thanks. Two years ago, I started replacing everything on the boat. Two months ago I quit my job. After a mid-October wedding, my bride and I will set off on a 5-to-10-year honeymoon exploring the great dive sites of the Pacific.

We originally planned to spend the winter in Mexico and Central America, then jump over to the South Pacific in April or May and follow the 'Milk Run'. However, given the recent news about the strong El Niño this year, and remembering the last one's brutal impact on the eastern South Pacific, we are reconsidering our route. What is your experience with the El Niño for Pacific cruising, and what possible alternatives might you suggest for us?

Rick O'Rourke
San Francisco

Rick Our report on what happened during the last big El Niño starts on page 130.

Speaking as the Grand Poobah of Baja Ha-Ha IV, which is slated to leave San Diego for Cabo on October 28, we have been following recent weather events with interest. They include a further warming of the Pacific since you wrote, as well as the appearance of Linda, the mighty Eastern Pacific hurricane.

That there are Eastern Pacific hurricanes in September and if there are more in October does not concern us at all, as this is the middle of the always-busy Eastern Pacific hurricane season. That Linda was the most powerful hurricane in Eastern Pacific history is something we're noting, however.

At this point, we're operating with the assumption that we'll start the Ha-Ha as scheduled on October 28 but we're leaving our options open. Our suggestion is that other south and west bound cruisers do the same. If there are more Category IV and Category V hurricanes; if the water temperature stays abnormally high; if other weather conditions are conducive to late season hurricanes and/or an abnormal number of 'pineapple expresses'; then we'll review our options before taking the fleet south of the border. We don't expect to have to postpone or cancel the Ha-Ha, but if we think it's necessary we will. And we suggest others be ready to postpone or cancel their plans, too.

We'll also remind folks not planning to go anywhere that the last time there was a big El Niño, California and French Polynesia suffered almost all the damage, while everything was pretty much all sweetness and light in Mexico. So no matter if you're sailing from San Diego to Nuku Hiva or simply leaving your boat in a California berth, it behooves you to monitor the weather and prepare your boat for what may or may not be unusually strong winter weather.


I was not surprised to read that Greg Nickols used vinegar to successfully unplug the hose from his toilet to his holding tank. I use it regularly in the head and as a replacement for acetone.

What I was surprised to hear was someone putting themselves on report for violating the law by intentionally discharging overboard into protected waters. #1 is part of that law, too.

I'm concerned about people peeing into the water because hepatitis can be transmitted to many people by the discharge from infected people. My wife is well aware of that down here in San Diego, as she contracted hepatitis or so her doctors are firmly convinced from San Diego Bay. More specifically, from the waters around Fiddler's Cove, where people still pump overboard. Handling contaminated docklines can also do it if it enters your blood stream.

I hope that people who pollute become the exception, and wish that the Coasties as you refer to them could control these idiots. My wife does, too. Liver damage is no fun.

Butler Smythe
San Diego

Butler There were parts of your letter that were unclear, so we hope we edited them correctly. In any event, we'd certainly like to know whether the consensus of medical opinion is that you can contract hepatitis from pee as opposed to poop in bay or sea water. If so, mariners who think otherwise need to be educated, as do the zillions of folks and dogs who regularly urinate along the shore.


I'm a regular reader who appreciates Latitude's objectivity in reporting on a wide range of sensitive political and social issues. I was distressed, however, to read the Short Sightings article on the proposed abalone project at Pillar Point Harbor in the May 1997 issue. The article was not accurate in describing the possible significant loss of safe anchorage on our coast and encouraging readers to oppose the abalone project. Publishing the article without first checking the facts was not objective nor responsible.

Of course, deciding what is significant can be subjective, and for a few commercial fishing interests, a single buoy identified with aquaculture may be considered a significant loss. A look at the facts, however, may help you and your readers decide what effect the proposed abalone operations might have on anchoring space. To give you an opportunity to make your own evaluations, I have provided the attached information.

The rest of the Short Sightings piece on Pillar Point was as off base as the discussion of the safe harbors issue. Implications that the Department of Fish & Game is acting irresponsibly on this project are without merit. The California Legislature has declared that the development of private aquaculture is good for the State, and has directed the DF&G to encourage that development. DF&G reviews every application for an aquaculture project, and approves only those that will not harm fish and wildlife resources. Further, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that any project that may impact the environment must be reviewed so that all concerned State agencies and the general public have an opportunity to comment on the proposed project. The Pillar Point abalone project passed both hurdles, and consistent with its Legislative mandate, the DF&G supports the project as long as it is done in the environmentally sound manner described in the CEQA documents.

Initial applications from the hopeful abalone farmers go back several years, and after prolonged consideration the CEQA documents for the project were finally completed over a year ago yet the abalone growers remain stalled by the permitting process. It is unfortunate when proposals cease to be judged on the merits of the project and instead are controlled by political pressure. I am afraid that Latitude encouraged more of that type of opposition without giving its readers the necessary facts to make informed decisions.

Bob Hulbrock
Aquaculture Coordinator, Department of Fish & Game

Bob These are our concerns:

1) According to the documents you provided, "the total of the estimated license space needed for the five operations is 105,660 square feet or 2.40 acres." That doesn't seem all that small to us. 2) We're not sure that aquaculture and boats, be they commercial or recreational, belong close together. And, 3) In a world where they're not building any more oceanfront, and where environmentalists won't let any more coastal marinas be built, the natural reaction of mariners is to protect what tiny bit of coastline we already have.

Having said that, we admit we're not familiar enough with all the issues to decide whether or not to support the project.


In your August issue there was a photograph of several sea lions in the water with their fins stuck up in the air. "Why do the sea lions stick their fins up in the air?" a reader asked.

The reason is this: Sea lions bodies are encompassed in several inches of thick fat. It's a great insulating material as all of us over 40 know. To reduce their body temperature in other words to cool themselves sea lions stick their fins up in the air and the air cools the blood flowing through their fins. That's a fact.

Another interesting feature about those fins is that they have five fingernails hopefully just like you and me.

For a great visit to see the sea lions and learn more about them, may I recommend the Marine Mammal Center (free, but donations welcome), located near Fort Cronkite in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) just north of the Golden Gate. Take Alexander Avenue towards Sausalito. Take the first left, go through the tunnel and follow the signs to the Mammal Center.

John D. Lannom
San Rafael

John We never dreamed we'd get an authoritative answer to that question. We suppose that with El Niño's warmer water, the sea lions are spending most of their time 'fins up'.


I'm a cruiser/racer with 15 years experience, and will be turning 50 in 1998. Since I cannot afford to charter a boat at $50K+, I would like to crew on a boat. I'm a great navigator and helmsman, and would be willing to pay for all my expenses to Hawaii. I'd also be willing to come to the Bay Area and practice on the weekends.

In a Southern California magazine similar to Latitude, I saw ads for people looking for crew like me for the TransPac. Is there any hope for me in my quest to do the West Marine Pacific Cup for my 50th birthday?

Cornel Grier
Almost 50 In Cyberspace

Cornel Sure there's hope. You can sign up for the Pacific Cup's crew list, you can take out Classy Classifieds outlining your desires, you can sign up for our spring Crew List, and you can attend our Crew List Parties in the spring. But take it from another guy about to turn 50, folks our age aren't prime candidates when owners are looking for crew. We're not saying it's impossible, but don't be surprised to be passed over for 25-year-old guys and especially 25-year-old girls.

If you want to dramatically increase your odds of sailing to Hawaii, we suggest you keep in mind that you don't need $50,000+ to charter a boat in the Pacific Cup not unless you need the whole darn boat. For $5,000 or even less, you could form or join a syndicate to charter a fine 50 footer. For even less than that, you could probably charter a berth on another boat. For every $1,000 you're willing to chip in, we figure you lose about eight years of unwanted age.


As pet owners and dog lovers, we were very touched the Timo's Story article in the August issue by Bob and Deborah Connelly. They'd adopted a sick puppy, seemingly nursed it back to health, only to lose it to illness.

Our current boat, Carolina, was previously named Amazing Grace. As a result, we still have two very beautiful teak name boards with 'Amazing Grace' in gold lettering that we removed after purchasing the boat. The boards measure 4 3/4" x 54" and are absolutely new. If the Connellys would like to have them free of charge, they can either fax us at (510) 829-1146 or e-mail us at lesmason@aol.com.

Les & Franchion Mason
San Ramon


We hate to flog the issue, but the letter Dogs, Whales, Two Actors and a Politician in response to our September issue story smacks of denial and cannot go unanswered. Readers may recall that we adopted a street puppy in La Paz, only to watch it succumb to wounds and disease. The purpose of our article was not to fault Mexico or Mexican health professionals, we just wanted to give a warning based on the facts.

Our advice came from an American veterinarian who faxed us the article from the New England Journal of Medicine, 329:1632-1638; Nov. 25, 1993, on which we based our decision to seek inoculation for rabies. Our decision was further based on the following:

One, the fact that within the past two years, a child died of untreated rabies in the La Paz area. This according to a doctor at the Secretaria de Salud (Public Health) in La Paz.

Two, the fact that virtually no one survives rabies, and the death within seven days of the onset of symptoms is horrible.

Three, the tissue analysis we asked for had to be conducted in Mexico City and therefore relied on the Mexican postal service. Brain and spinal cord tissue is especially susceptible to fast deterioration, even with low temperature storage. No official, written result of the analysis could be obtained despite repeated attempts by Spanish-speaking persons. Our confidence level in the tests was nil.

And, four, we observed the local veterinarian health professional who had already diagnosed distemper in Timo, a highly communicable disease move from Timo's examination table to assist another vet working alongside on open abdominal surgery on a large cat without so much as washing his hands never mind donning latex gloves.

Rabies symptoms are sometimes masked by distemper. Timo's fear of water and light near the end caused us concern.

Rabies does exist in Mexico. The story about street inoculations may be true, but the large number of feral dogs that at times run about in packs induces skepticism. We saw dead dogs lie on the malecon until advanced decomposition set in. And on the streets of La Paz we saw three-legged dogs with no hair and ribs like corrugated iron.

Mexico is poor and it is probably doing what it can. But the persistent denial we encountered in La Paz and then in the rebuttal letter to our article brings to mind the town fathers in Jaws whose reaction to the news that a large Carcharodon carcharias was doing lunch along their beaches was: "Shark? What shark?"

Bob Connelly
Amazing Grace
San Diego


Tom Leweck may like to create controversy, but in the case of his September Sighting's comments on the TransPac, he's right on the mark.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure much can be gained from his constructive criticism. For one thing, both West Marine for the West Marine Pacific Cup and Latitude for the Baja Ha-Ha have great marketing advantages over traditional yachting organizations. In addition to having direct access to the yachting community, West Marine and Latitude have professional staffs that have the time and the skill to properly promote an event. Nevertheless, TransPacific YC members, if motivated, could produce a newsletter and conduct seminars. These approaches just take time and effort by a few dedicated people.

The earned reputation of the "most prestigious West Coast Race" now works against the TransPac. The big boat owners expect concessions for their "most prestigious" boats, and the other boat owners rightfully expect similar opportunities in return for the growing cost of participation in a long-distance offshore race. The problem of assuring each yacht the chance to be 'first to finish' is impossible to solve. There just isn't a practical way to assign starting dates to please everyone.

Where I really agree with Leweck is in regard to the 'TransPac Rating'. Ratings should be the perogative of the national authority. When local yachting organizations engage in rating modifications, they invite dissatisfaction and possibly disaster. It's a challenge for US Sailing, with their access to sophisticated and knowledgeable data sources, to get the ratings right. A lone entity or person is not likely to do a better job.

The TransPacific YC has the means to create a yacht race that pleases the West Coast yachting community. It's up to its current leadership to inspire the board members to dedicate themselves to solving the present problems. Both Tom Leweck and Rob Moore of Latitude have thoughtfully pointed the way, and let's hope that your suggestions will be heeded.

Peggy L. Redler
Los Angeles

Peggy The way the Wanderer sees it, the TransPac's problems aren't a lack of access to the yachting public, a lack of a professional staff, or a lack of pre-race seminars. The TransPac's problem is that it's perceived rightly or wrongly by the sailing public as a Grand Prix event, and the pool of Grand Prix racers has dramatically shrunk over the last 14 years.

The West Marine Pacific Cup, on the other hand, is perceived as living up to its motto of being "The Fun Race To Hawaii", where competition is of little or no importance and everybody becomes part of the group. The Pacific Cup hasn't had any trouble attracting entries because the pool of folks just wanting to have fun sailing to Hawaii has increased dramatically.

Given the TransPac's long and illustrious history as a Grand Prix event, it would be very difficult to transform itself into something else in the remote chance that the TransPac YC board even wanted to do that. But in order to keep even today's low numbers up, the TransPac is either going to have to do a much better job of attracting members of the Grand Prix fleet or more convincingly change its focus.


My wife, the one who must be obeyed, has given me a dinosaur a too wonderful and too expensive sextant. As I'm a small boat racer from Lake Winnebago, the only 'sightings' I needed in the Wisconsin backwoods were female and nubile.

Nevertheless, the pledge taken, the vow made, the instrument in hand, please advise me on simple, clearly written or videoed instruction on the very basics of celestial navigation. I'm keen on learning, but will revolt at the first sign of obfuscation or dithering whatever comes first.

Tony Roberts
Landlocked in Arizona

Tony We're familiar with three videos on celestial navigation: William Buckley's surprisingly amusing Celestial Navigation Simplified; Gene Grossman's recently released Celestial Navigation for the Complete Idiot; and Gene Grossman's 12-year-old Celestial Navigation. Buckley's gets the nod for having some humor.

There are many books on celestial navigation. Our favorite given the author's name, how could we not like it? is Mary Blewitt's Celestial Navigation for the Yachtsman.

We hope you have a genuine need for a sextant and celestial navigation; if not, you'll have wasted a lot of time and money.


I was disappointed in your September review of our harbor at Port San Luis. It appears that the author based his article on our wonderful Port on (to paraphrase) "We hear. . ." Too bad for your readers! A little further investigation might have opened up greater avenues of information. Let me attempt to give another side to the story of Port San Luis.

As mentioned in your publication, Morro Bay is indeed a dangerous entrance and should be avoided during periods of high surf or fog. The alternative is to sail south another 25 miles and enjoy the Port San Luis anchorage. The entrance is well-lighted, provides an excellent anchorage and is free. The Harbor Patrol can be called 24 hours a day on VHF 16 for anchoring instructions.

Mariners can tie up to moorings for a small fee. There is a two week limit. Water taxi service is available seven days a week for a nominal fee. Cruisers who can't afford this luxury can motor ashore in their skiffs at either Avila or Harford Piers. Skiff tie-ups are free.

Port San Luis has some businesses to make your time spent here a little more pleasant. A marine supply store has a large inventory of boating hardware and fishing gear for the sportsman. Two highly-rated restaurants are open seven days a week.

Cruisers can tie-up their skiffs at Avila Pier and shop at the Avila Grocery Store or do their laundry next door. Port San Luis also provides a 24-hour coin-operated shower facility open to the public, an on-site marine engine mechanic, a do-it-yourself boatyard, and docent-led hikes to Point San Luis Lighthouse.

Come for a visit and find out why Port San Luis Harbor is known as the "best kept secret of the Central Coast."

Jay Elder
Port San Luis Harbor Manager

Jay Thanks for taking the time to give our readers another view of Port San Luis. Maybe it's time we pay it another visit.


I've got an idea. Mariners should send Latitude GPS readings from all over the world. These could then be averaged out to give people a better idea of the accuracy of the charts they were using. It certainly would not replace the chart or relieve the skipper of the responsibility for a safe passage, but a lot of charts haven't been updated in many years.

Anyway, it was just an idea, and I was wondering what you thought of it. If you liked it, would you be willing to collate the information and publish it?

Craig Caldwell

Craig You can't just "average out" GPS readings because, among other reasons, different charts are based on different datum. In an attempt to solve the problem of inaccurate charts, however, many cruisers and cruising guides are noting the GPS coordinates off important points, anchorages, reef entrances, and such. They then add them to their cruising guides or make lists of them to pass along to fellow cruisers. If any cruisers want to alert us to discrepancies between GPS readings and what charts say, we'd be delighted to publish that information.


Referring to stones falling from the Golden Gate Bridge, are they really dropped by people or is there another cause?

Several months ago, I was a passenger in a car driving south in the far right lane of the Golden Gate Bridge. Since it was rush hour, I had plenty of time to gaze out of the window and observe the substantial gap between the roadway and the side of the roadbed. Looking through the gap, I was able to see many stones lying along girders that run beneath the sidewalk. There seemed to be nothing to stop a strong breeze or vibration from dislodging these stones and sending them down to the water or perhaps boats below. Given the number of stones and the random potential they may have to cause damage if dislodged, I see them as a real hazard to small craft and their crews.

I would welcome a comment from the Golden Gate Bridge Authority on this matter. Are my observations and fears real or imagined? In particular, what steps can be taken to clear the stones in question, and what action can be taken to implement a permanent fix for the problem?

Terry Berkemeier
Northern California

Terry There are indeed gaps in the bridge roadway and along the side of the road. And there are certainly lots of stones and other car-borne debris that find their way between the openings and then to the water below.

Unless the Bridge District has a major surprise for us, we doubt that anything can be done about the problem without spending an enormous amount of money. And while we wouldn't laugh if any mariners decided to wear a helmet when sailing in the vicinity of the bridge, we don't think it's proven to be a major hazard so far.


Maybe it would be appropriate to have a section in Latitude that's titled Stories Not To Use On Your Yacht Broker! The latest we heard is as follows:

A lady was looking at a Ron Holland designed 34-foot performance cruiser when she said, "We sailed to Hawaii aboard a 44-ft Hans Christian and averaged 17 knots, and it only took us 16 days to get there. How fast will this boat go? If this boat isn't fast, I don't want it!"

What I wanted to say was, "This boat will typically do about five to seven knots, and a bit faster under spinnaker in brisk winds. This boat could get to Hawaii in 16 days given good weather patterns and a competent crew."

What we actually said was, "OK!"

Obviously, she wasn't interested in the boat we had for sale.

I don't want to be quoted, but perhaps you could put a few stories like this in the Loose Lips section so that people might understand how challenging it can be to help some folks acquire a good sailboat.

Name Withheld By Request

N.W.B.R. We can sympathize with you, as we tried to sell boats for a living about a quarter of a century ago. It's was more than "challenging" for us, it drove us crazy.

But, just to be fair, you have to admit you've probably known one or two pretty wacky people selling boats, too. We humans are a strange species.


In response to the June letter from Craig Uhler of Kiki Maru, I have to question if he was really in Apia during the fiasco when the Kiwi racer Total Recall went on the reef or did he just hear about it third hand? I'm curious, because I was there the whole time and it didn't happen like he says it did.

In the tradition of good yachties on tour, Andrew and Patti of Wasabi, and Rob that's me and Mary of Maude I. Jones had been out partying with the locals at a BBQ after a squash tournament. We returned to our boats about midnight and were just hitting the bunks when Total Recall issued a Mayday. I immediately called Andrew, then jumped in the dinghy with flashlight and handheld VHF. After I picked up Andrew, we arrived on the scene to find that Total Recall was bashing against the edge of the reef but was not yet on it.

One of the Total Recall crew managed to throw us a 200-foot line and we maneuvered seaward only to discover the line hadn't been secured to the distressed vessel! Losing that first chance was critical, because by the time we returned to the boat and got the line secured, Total Recall had been driven atop the reef.

By this time, Mark of Excalibur had driven his dinghy into the surfline where it was promptly flipped by the high surf. Jack from Newsboy managed to rescue him and tow the dinghy back to the harbor which was a good mile away. During this time several other cruisers came to help in rescue efforts. Steve of Halo and his wife went to wake the Harbormaster as well as the tug captain and his crew. Bill and Jan of Camelot who later lost their Liberty 456 to a reef in Fiji were also deeply involved in the rescue effort.

As for Uhler's claim that a dinghy without a motor showed up to help, that's just not true. Steve from Halo was the only one without a motor on his dinghy, which is why he helped from one of our inflatables. Further, the tow line wasn't brought out thru the surf by a cruiser, but by one of Total Recall's crew. After the tug put a 3-inch hawser in the water, we secured it to the line that had been brought out from Total Recall. The distressed vessel moved about 100 feet on the tug's first pull, but then the line broke!

The next effort was truly heroic. Jack from Newsboy had a hard-bottom inflatable with a 25 hp outboard, so he, Mark of Excalibur, and I believe Steve of Halo, went through the surf with a messenger line attached to the hawser so they could hand it to the crew on Total Recall. In order to do this, they have had to twice go through four to six foot breaking surf on moonless nights! While this was happening, the tug was trying to hold station in a narrow channel with outgoing current. Since our flashlights and handheld radio batteries were dying, I relayed between the dinghy in the surfline and the tug. Bill of Camelot stayed aboard the tug to help keep the captain and crew apprised of the situation from a yachtie's point of view. Thanks to everyone's help, Total Recall was pulled free of the reef just as the sun peeked over the horizon.

Throughout the ordeal an Aussie nurse about 25 years of age stayed aboard Total Recall despite the waves slamming the boat on the reef. She managed to keep radio contact with us while her crew busied themselves with trying to free the boat. The Aussie nurse was calm and never panicked. Her voice only showed emotion one or two times when unusually large waves pummelled the helplessly reefed boat. As for the crew of the tug, they had to leave immediately after the rescue to come to the aid of Polynesian native crafts arriving for the art fair and celebration.

At a party hosted later by Total Recall's owner a very nice gentleman from Auckland we cruisers, led by Bill of Camelot, presented the tug captain and his crew a framed certificate in honor of their having gone beyond the call of duty to rescue the sailboat. We cruisers agreed that the commercial tug, an important part of the island's economy, hadn't been required to risk its safety in order to rescue an errant sailboat for free.

None of us cruisers felt we needed a certificate, as we'd just helped another recreational boat racer, cruiser, whatever that had been in distress. It was at the urging of we cruisers that the owner of Total Recall paid most of his compliments to the tug captain and crew. Nonetheless, the owner also thanked us cruisers, both in public and in private.

Uhler was right about one thing: the returning Kenwood Cup boats created quite a stir in Apia when they arrived. Challenge of Oz, and Kiwi boats Georgia and Total Recall all had young crew aboard. At first these young folks were rather arrogant, but they later became friendly. Indeed, at the awards ceremony they even confessed to have originally looked down their noses at us cruisers, but admitted they'd come around to thinking we were a pretty decent bunch after all. One even gave Total Recall the nickname Reef Magnet.

The way I see it, the only "jack-ass" in the whole episode was Uhler and certainly not the "sheepfaces" he referred to. Of the six boats I know that were involved in the rescue, none of them was Uhler's Kiki Maru.

Both New Zealand and her people are great!

Rob and Mary Messenger
Dallas, Texas / Picton, NZ


I'm negotiating to buy an Islander Freeport 41. One of the problem areas is corrosion on either side of the mast track. It's visible underneath the anodized finish for a length of about 20 feet. The finish is not exfoliating, but it's obviously going to get worse.

Does anyone know how serious this problem is and what it will cost to fix if I buy the boat?

Bill Something

Bill The only sure way to know the extent of the problem would be to remove the mast track but that might involve quite a bit of unnecessary expense. We'd discuss it with your surveyor and/or a rigger.

On the other hand, that Freeport must be close to 20 years old which means there could be some problems if the stainless bolts weren't properly bedded before being screwed into the aluminum extrusion. A mast track bolt or two pulling out wouldn't be catastrophic, but if the stainless bolts securing a halyard winch pulled out of the corroded aluminum extrusion, somebody could get seriously injured. We'd pay particular attention to those areas.


As you are probably aware, the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) is a non-profit by intent organization dedicated to the fraternity of cruising sailors. Our tradition has always been to leave a 'clean wake' environmentally, financially and socially, so that cruisers arriving behind us are warmly welcomed. All new members sign a pledge to abide by this tradition.

We've been actively promoting the 'clean wake' philosophy and the camaraderie of the cruising community since 1952. Every year the SSCA has a get-together at which we share information and celebrate our lifestyle and friendships. In 1997, our Annual Weekend will be November 14-16 in Melbourne, Florida. If anyone would like further information on this event or on the SSCA, they should contact me at either (954) 463-2431 or (fax) (954) 463-7183.

Lynne Balthazor, Editor
Seven Seas Cruising Association

Readers The SSCA has long been known for their excellent 'Commodore's Bulletin' which publishs Changes-like reports from folks cruising all over the world.

We'd love to make this year's Annual Weekend if only to meet speakers Dave and Jaja Martin. A few years ago, the couple, along with their two young children, did a 7-year, 45,000-mile circumnavigation aboard their Cal 25 (!) Direction.


The medical questions posed in the September issue by C. Morganstern who along with the crew of the USNS Narragansett rescued some Indonesian fisherman clinging to a liferaft are intriguing. His main question had to do with how to treat skin sores caused by days of immersion in saltwater.

These sores have been variously called immersion dermatitis, seawater boils or the more colorful 'Helmsman's Rear End' by Bob Griffith in his book Blue Water. In any case, the cause is frequently a bacterial infection, staphylococcus, which is normally a harmless inhabitant of the skin. When immersed in a constant environment of saltwater, however, these bacteria grow and result in infection.

In his book Sea Survival, Dougal Robertson a few of your readers may remember the epic survival story of Robertson and his family, whose 38-day liferaft ordeal is chronicled in Survive the Savage Sea describes these lesions as follows: "Immersion injury . . . may be experienced by survivors who are forced to have parts of their bodies soaked in seawater. Swelling and tenderness on the tips of fingers and toes are particularly painful, but this can be alleviated by making determined efforts to keep the affected parts from remaining saturated . . . [in addition] rashes and boils appear on areas of most frequent contact i.e. hands, elbows, buttocks and knees, and then spread gradually to other parts of the body. Once incurred, the sores take quite a long time to heal and pain from them is considerable and often demoralizing."

Robertson goes on to suggest some remedies which I suspect were highly influenced by his wife, a nurse. "While still in the survival situation, 1) Apply a barrier cream, ointment, or oil to keep the affected parts from remaining saturated. 2) If rain showers permit, wash the salt from the wounds. 3) The inflammation and pain except through direct contact are quickly alleviated if a 48-hour period of salt-free exposure can be achieved. 4) Avoid friction with clothing or anything else, since all contact aggravates the process."

There is controversy regarding whether or not the boils should remain intact or be lanced. I find no consistent, well-documented literature on this matter, but my recommendation would be to open the boils, dress them as if they were burns, and let them drain. Application of antibiotic topical creams or ointments would be important. In addition, if there are extensive boils, oral antibiotics will prevent further spread of infection and hasten recovery. Finally, administer appropriate pain medication.

A final thought. Seawater is full of really nasty bacteria, including members of the vibrio family the most notorious of which is vibrio cholera, the causative agent in cholera. It would be very possible that treatment of some of the sores would require the use of antibiotics which work against vibrio as well as staphylococcus.

Kent Benedict, MD, FACEP

Readers Kent is a retired ER doc with thousands of sea miles under his belt. Among other things, he instructs Cal Maritime students on Emergency Medicine at Sea. Check out his article on improvising first aid treatments at sea on page 150.


Latitude seems to frequently have a dichotomous posture towards the Coast Guard.

I find it odd to read some winger complaining about boardings and inspections on one page and several pages later read about Coast Guard lives having been lost when one of their boats rolled over or their helicopters crashed attempting to reach a yacht in distress. Could a boarding have prevented the fatal incidents? Who the hell knows; who the hell cares?

The Coast Guard system is not perfect by any means, but just try telling an official in Latin America that he can't board and inspect your vessel. He will come aboard anyway and remodel your boat's interior with the 'Beirut look'. The other alternative is to take away the Coast Guard's authority to board.

Several years ago there was talk of doing away with the Department of Boating & Waterways as part of government cutbacks. It seemed that overnight the DB&W 'bear' came out of hibernation and started fining yacht brokers for taking excessive lunch breaks. The Coast Guard could be done away with all together, but when the Coast Guard is outlawed, only outlaws will be Coast Guard.

On a recent trip to San Diego, I came across an issue of Attitudes and Latitudes by Captain Bob Bitchin'. He's just another bloody charlatan riding around on the coattails of the world famous and internationally recognized Latitude 38. Is there no originality left in the world? I'm considering publishing a magazine that circles the globe in search of the perfect cheeseburger. The centerfold of each issue will have that month's favorite cheeseburger smeared across the page, and titled Smells From Around The World. I shall name the magazine McLatitude.

The Singlehanded Sailor

T.S.S. We can't remember the last time we found so many suspect facts and flawed reasoning in one letter.

Just because the Coast Guard saves lives shouldn't give them carte blanche to violate the Bill of Rights. And just because we have a beef with Coast Guard policy doesn't mean we can't mourn the loss of Coast Guard lives. There's no "dichotomous posture" more commonly called 'contradiction' to any of it.

Who the hell cares if boardings could have saved the lives of Coasties going to rescue yachties in distress? We sure as hell care and we think most other recreational mariners do, too.

The alternatives aren't limited to: A) Having the Coast Guard trample rights like Latin American military forces, and B) Taking away the Coast Guard's right to search vessels. Two of the unlimited number of better alternatives are: C) Give the Coast Guard the right to board recreation vessels only when they have reasonable cause that a crime is being committed, or D) Give the Coast Guard the right to board boats, but only when conditions are safe and except for extreme situations without weapons. All we mariners are asking is that the Coast Guard use a little common sense to stop them from persuading mariners to hate them.

Governor Wilson's attempt to eliminate the Department of Boating and Waterways had nothing to do with budget cutbacks. Unlike all other state agencies, Boating and Waterways was flush with money. By eliminating the department, all its money would have defaulted into the General Fund, which would have allowed Wilson and the rest of the politicians to use mariners' money for non-marine purposes such as programs to raise the self-esteem of serial murderers.

"When the Coast Guard is outlawed, only outlaws will be Coast Guard." What's that drivel supposed to mean? You and Jesse Jackson, the grand master of simpleton speak, need to realize that just because a sentence rhymes or is flip-flopped doesn't mean that it's true or that it makes any sense.

Your attempt to come to our defense against what may or may not be an imitator is noble but misguided. As we've clearly stated, our only gripe is with a too similar sounding name. As for fair competition, we firmly believe that it's not only good for the consumer but for the producers who are kept on their toes and doing their best. Without competition you end up with expensive, inefficient, and incompetent entities like BART and Muni.


Based on reading Al and Beth Liggett‰s June Letter, doing both an east and west around circumnavigations might jumble the brain. They say they crossed the North Atlantic from Yokohama to Victoria in 34 days. Actually a 34-day crossing of the North Atlantic wouldn‰t be that fast.

Since I haven‰t been to Guam in the past five years that Al and Beth have been living there, I can only assume the new site of the Marianas YC has been re-named ‰Aguana‰. I lived in Agana, the capital of Guam, for eight years.

The Liggetts contributed much to the fledgling Marianas YC when I was there in the early-to-mid 1970s including lots of sail and canvas work. Their onboard sewing machine made them sought-after guests in any port. If I remember correctly, their Sunflower was the plug for what later became the Polaris 43 design. Five more Polaris 43s were built for buyers on Guam a truly amazing number for an era when a Cheoy Lee Offshore 31 was the largest yacht on the island.

Other comments:

1) Max Ebb Racing Rules Quiz: After admitting to some errors on his Racing Rules Quiz, Max said he would keep away from that subject in the future. But in Max‰s June article, Lee Helm says they spotted the ‰P‰ flag so they knew there was a postponement. We‰ve been using the "AP" (Answering Pennant) here in Hawaii to signal postponement. I hope we‰re not just out-of-date again.

2) Craig Uhler‰s June ‰97 letter on the poor seamanship and lack of courtesy experienced in Apia Harbor on the part of Kenwood Cup boats may very well be an indication of not-too-experienced and possibly poorly paid delivery crews returning the boats to New Zealand and Australia. The behavior doesn‰t sound like that of the owners and racing sailmasters I‰ve met in Hawaii over the years.

3) Lu Dale‰s August ‰97 letter regarding merchant ships reminds me of two recent encounters. During the Asahi Super Cup ‰97 Regatta sailed off Waikiki last week, the Sealand Challenge and Matson‰s Matsonia rounded Diamond Head into our racing area on their way to Honolulu Harbor within about an hour of each other. In both cases, these fully-laden merchant ships spotted the racing fleet, saw our marks, checked the wind, then made radical course changes to leave the racers in clear air.

As Race Director, I called each ship on VHF Channel 16, switched to 71, and thanked the captain‰s for their courtesy. They both responded instantly on my first call and were very cordial. The skipper of the Matsonia noted that the one J/24 that he had to cut-off shouldn‰t mind too much since he was ‰DFL‰ anyway. I‰m sure this kind of cooperation would be unlikely in the crowded conditions on San Francisco Bay, but here on a weekday in excellent visibility, it was no problem.

Phil Drips
Rear Commodore for Sail
Waikiki YC

Phil If someone errs on what ocean you cross to get from Yokohama to Vancouver, it‰s surely us at Latitude rather than the Liggetts. The same goes for giving Agana a superfluous 'u'.


I‰ve just been sent a clipping of page 90 of the May Latitude, which has a letter by Paul Franson of the Sigma 41 Silkie that‰s based in English Harbour, Antigua. Franson‰s letter has some interesting information although some of it is not correct.

With regard to getting insurance during hurricane season, the real difficulties are not with David Payne, a Lloyds Broker in London who represents me (I‰m also a Lloyds Broker). It‰s not that Payne or I are unwilling to insure boats in the hurricane area against named windstorms, but rather that Mike Waterfield, who runs the Kershaw Syndicate and has been our underwriter for 32 years, refuses to offer it to boats located between 12_40‰ to 35_N.

It should be noted that if your boat is insured by us and in this excluded area, you‰re still insured against all the normal marine perils unless a named storm comes through. But since satellites can give us two to three days advance warning, why risk a hurricane? I say simply pick up your anchor and head south. And even if you had insurance that covered you against named storms, many of us feel you are better off going south. After all, who wants to lose the use of your boat for two to three months while hurricane damage is repaired in a yard?

With regard to the often-mentioned Pantaenius, this is an excellent company that does offer insurance against hurricanes but only under very strict conditions. And it must be remembered that Pantaenius will not insure any Canadian or American-owned vessels.

I realize that I am a persona non grata in Antigua but I‰m afraid that‰s because I‰ve always called a spade a spade. For example, I categorically state that there is no such thing as a hurricane hole in the Eastern Caribbean because they are all too crowded.

I did not keep a low profile in Antigua or avoid a meeting at which Admirals‰ Robert Holbrook and Pantaenius‰ Barrie Sullivan spoke. The fact is that I hadn‰t arrived in Antigua yet, as I was still sailing north from Grenada aboard Li‰l lolaire. I‰d been delayed on the way taking care of Imray-Iolaire chart business, cross checking and updating various charts. This was an interesting exercise, by the way, as I discovered that Nautical Publications new charts of the Caribbean had a couple of glaring errors in them the same glaring errors that show up in the British Admiralty charts. One wonders where the cartographer of the Nautical Publications charts obtained his information?

The National Parks Authority in Antigua is doing an excellent job of trying to develop a set of rules for boats that want to stay for hurricane season. However, when Jimmy Fuller, the head of the Parks Department, was asked if they could enforce the rules if a flood of boats poured into English Harbor just prior to a hurricane, his answer was, "No." And English Harbour has been noted as a hurricane hole where you can go and be covered by some insurers. But it‰s very likely that English Harbour rules or no rules would end up terribly overcrowded with the same terrible results as were experienced at Culebra during Hugo and later at Simpson Bay Lagoon with Luis.

Regarding Holbrook‰s view on chocking, I couldn‰t agree more. As for his views on Grenada, as long as the harbours do not become overcrowded, great. In Trinidad, I agree that the holding ground is poor and there could be massive damage if a hurricane passed close by.

As for the "little damage" suffered by boats in English Harbour when Luis hit, I must ask Franson to recall how many boats were badly damaged when New Freedom came adrift. And were the uninsured boats damaged by that big boat ever able to collect monies from New Freedom‰s insurers with which to repair their boats?

D.M. Street, Jr.

Don Buying and providing insurance is all about evaluating and taking risks. So if several insurance underwriters and government agencies of islands that rely on the yachtie economy work together to create reasonable risks, why slam them? After all, it may save an important part of Antigua and other islands‰ summer economies, and it may provide profits for the underwriter‰s stockholders. You notice we say ‰may‰, as indeed there is some risk that both might lose their asses just as some of the major insurers will lose their asses when Miami or one of the big East Coast cities takes a direct hit from a major hurricane.

As for your suggestion that boats can enjoy summers in the islands and be insured by you, Payne, and Waterfield as long as they head south when they get warning that a named storm is on it‰s way we think that‰s an irresponsible recommendation. Sure, it‰s not unusual for the more ballsy skippers based in the St. Martin area to bail south when a hurricane approaches, but it can be a suicidal move. With Luis approaching St. Martin, a number of skippers did run south only to find that Luis was also taking a jog south! Faced with sailing directly into one of the largest and most powerful hurricanes in history, most ran back to St. Martin. So please, let‰s not recommend that mariners bet their lives on the projected path of something as serendipitous as a hurricane.

As for your claim that there is no real hurricane hole in the Eastern Caribbean, why be so restrictive? There is no hurricane hole in the world that can protect boats from direct hits such as Hugo put on Culebra. This, of course, would include English Harbour no matter what efforts are made and rules implemented by mere mortals.


In a recent issue you stated that you were thinking about buying a four-stroke outboard, for the sake of ecology, for the tender to Big 0.

Before you make that purchase, there are some things you may want to consider. Weight is a very important issue. As you know, lifting an outboard on and off a dinghy transom can be tough on the back and four-stroke outboards are considerably heavier than two-stroke outboards.

In your efforts to help the environment, you must also consider that a four-stroke outboard has a crankcase that must be drained at least twice a year of approximately one quart of oil. This contaminated oil considered toxic waste by most state agencies must be disposed of since most outboard shops don‰t recycle used oil.

Parts availability in remote parts of the world isn‰t the greatest for four-stroke outboards. And four strokes have more moving parts such as valves, lifters, and cams, which means there are more things to go wrong in a marine environment.

You might want to ask yourself why there aren‰t more four-stroke outboards located at your marina. Four strokes have been available for the last 15 years. It might also be a good idea to ask some mechanics which outboard brand they consider best and why or survey the experiences your readers have had.

So what‰s the best outboard to buy? It might just come down to personal preference based on one brand‰s reputation, availability of parts and service, and one‰s own mechanical aptitude. The best compromise might be a two-stroke with a 100 to 1 fuel mixture Suzuki and Yamaha make them as well as one with fuel injection. This way you would be helping the environment by polluting half as much as using the standard two-stroke while still maintaining the simplicity, reliability, and light weight two-strokes are known for.

Ron Lamb
Morgan Hill

Ron We‰re "thinking" about buying a four-stroke outboard for our tender, but we haven‰t had time to make a final decision.

Weight, as you mention, will be an important factor. About six years ago we went cruising in the Sea of Cortez aboard our Olson 30. The trip went to hell after we used poor lifting technique to hoist the tiny outboard. After suffering a severely herniated disc, we were almost totally incapacitated, and ultimately had to be flown home to the States on a stretcher for surgery. It wasn‰t fun, and if we think the extra weight of a four-stroke might cause a reoccurrence, we‰ll opt for another two-stroke.

What‰s different in the world of outboards than it was a year or two ago? Lots. First off, recent environmental legislation has changed the way manufacturers are having to look at outboard design. All the two-stroke manufacturers are having to redesign their two-strokes to conform with much stricter pollution standards. In addition, many of the big manufacturers including Yamaha and Johnson are also in the process of introducing entire new lines of even cleaner burning four-stroke engines. As a result, Honda is no longer the only four-stroke game in town, and four-stroke parts and service will be more widely available.

It‰s going to be a hard decision to make, but we‰ll let you know what we decide which is going to have to happen within a month.


You selected an excellent photo with which to illustrate the caption on page 181 of the September issue. The caption read: " . . . these water-borne travelers are carrying enough high-tech gadgetry to fill a Third World electronics store and nearly all the creature comforts of home."

The boat you pictured is ours at the start of Baja Ha-Ha III. She‰s equipped with a diesel engine, diesel generator, electronic autopilot, four solar panels, 800 amp-hours of batteries, a Tiller Master, wind vane, davits, dinghy with outboard motor, electric windlass, power winch, radar, 406 EPIRB, handheld GPS, GPS with charts, SatNav, VHF radio, handheld VHF radio, Ham/Short Wave Radio with an Adaptive Digital Signal Processor, electronic wind instruments, depth sounder, forward looking sonar, inverter, watermaker, pressurized water, refrigerator, freezer, three-burner propane stove, microwave oven, six fans, a vacuum sealer, automatic anchor light, television, VCR, CD player, audio tape player, lots of reading lights and an electrical control panel with 49 switches.

Unlike the early pioneers, however, today‰s sailors need to be mechanics, electricians, carpenters, and plumbers and must register with the FCC and Department of Transportation. You may smile at our many ‰comforts‰, but in our opinion Joshua Slocum had it easy.

James Pennington and Susan Fantle
Chrysalis, Freedom 42
Currently exploring the Sea of Cortez


Here are some of the preparations I‰m made for cruising my catamaran from Sausalito to San Diego and then in the Baja Ha-Ha:

Ý Dental and medical check up, including the suggested shots.

Ý Signed up with the Traveller‰s Mail Box in Sausalito for mail pick-up and forwarding. Friends and family generally cannot provide the same reliability.

Ý Obtained Mexican boat insurance to protect my investment. There were a number of options, but I went with ‰Hambone‰ Lieberman of San Carlos, Mexico.

Ý Arranged it so my credit card now automatically deducts any charges from my back account, which will avoid the stress and complications of unnecessary mail-forwarding.

Ý Obtained an AT&T global calling card. This works domestically and internationally. All charges get billed to my credit card, which then deducts it from my bank account. As a result, there is no paper chase on phone calls and credit card charges.

Ý Visited AAA, which provides its members with free land-oriented maps and books which may be of some use.

Ý Got my passport. For $5 I was able to color xerox my photo onto five pages with eight photos per page. I figure this will save time when official forms or applications require photos in triplicate or whatever. I can just clip out the photos as needed.

Ý I‰m not sure how useful this might be, but hoping to save reams of paper for Port Captains, Immigration, and other officials, I created a ‰master document‰ that lists my vessel type, name, specs, color, homeport, address, phone #, skipper, owner, passport #, emergency contact, dinghy and motor info, and more. I left spaces for new information. This one sheet of paper with info on both sides might be appreciated by various officials.

As for my trip down the coast, I learned that an immediate and accessible back-up steering system should be a priority. One hour before passing Pt. Conception, Eric a great new crew I found though the Classy Classifieds informed me that we‰d lost our steering, as the wheel was spinning freely. Within 30 seconds the back-up steering a Hobie Cat type tiller extension mounted to the tiller crossbar that connects the two rudders was in place. We hand-steered to Santa Barbara where we discovered stripped threads on the primary steering system.

A word of thanks to Almar Marinas, one of the Ha-Ha sponsors. Mickey and Denise at the Anacapa Isle Marina were great when we had to duck in because it looked like super hurricane Linda might be paying a visit to Southern California.

Stuart Kiehl
Even Kiehl


In the August issue, you run what appears to be a verbatim press release about the upcoming Big Boat Series as your lead in Sightings. Then there's a shot of AmericaOne on the cover, with a head shot inset of her skipper Paul Cayard. Then there's an interview admittedly newsworthy with Cayard.

It seems blatantly obvious that Latitude's objectivity has been bought by the St. Francis YC. Shame on you.

Colin Case

Colin Thanks to 20 year's worth of tremendous reader and advertiser support, our objectivity and opinions aren't for sale. And as you might recall, we were often critical of the last St. Francis YC-based America's Cup effort; it was too arrogant and exclusive to earn our support and that of the general sailing community.

A "verbatim press release"? We've eschewed press releases let alone verbatim ones 99.99% of the time since we started Latitude. The reason has been simple; we didn't want to seem too much like other sailing magazines. As such, all of last issue's Big Boat Series preview and AmericaOne coverage was the original work of Managing Editor John Riise and Racing Editor Rob Moore.

While Latitude isn't going to endorse any America's Cup campaign at this time, it may disappoint you to learn that we think Paul Cayard's AmericaOne campaign is eminently worthy of support. We're not going to rehash Cayard's many sailing and America's Cup achievements; suffice it to say they are surpassed by only one other American. Further, the 38-year-old Cayard is at the height of his sailing and campaign management skills.

American sailors and the kids in particular need a topflight America's Cup competitor they can look up to the way Kiwi kids can admire the achievements and character of their countryman Peter Blake. Lord knows that the talented Dennis Conner hasn't fit the bill. But in AmericaOne's Cayard, our sailing community and country has a guy with the sailing and management skills to win the Cup, and equally as important to us the character and class to handle himself well in victory and defeat.

This will probably drive you crazy, but we think there's even more reason to support him. Cayard also embodies the best of the America's 'anybody can be president' notion. He didn't come from a sailing family and was in fact something of a troublemaker in high school. But thanks to a combination of learning to sail on Oakland's Lake Merritt and the St. Francis YC's junior sailor community outreach program, he got a chance. In a world where too many people get ahead through rich or connected parents, bullshit lawsuits or other jive, Cayard has reached the pinnacle of his field through skill, sacrifice and hard work. Call us old-fashioned, but we're in favor of a meritocracy. And for a guy with a million demands on his time and energy, Cayard remains as much 'one of the guys' as can humanly be expected. And he's dedicated to the proposition that the AmericaOne campaign will be one that all Northern Californian can feel a part of.

Don't get us wrong, we're certain Cayard has his faults and we're not nominating him for sainthood. We're just saying that it's our belief that folks who support him and the AmericaOne campaign financially and/or emotionally won't later want to kick themselves. Unfortunately, that's how it's been with some past America's Cup campaigns.

We're fully aware that the rival San Francisco YC of which you're a very active member is home of Dawn Riley's America True campaign. Based on current publicly released information, America True has to be seen as much more of a longshot to win the cup. But having started Latitude from nothing with nothing, we have a real soft spot for longshots. In addition, we have tremendous confidence in the skills of helmsman Jeff Madrigali who, of course, just took top honors in the Big Boat Series aboard Dawn's ID48.

As we see it, the only thing better than having AmericaOne sailing the Bay right now would be for America True to get a boat and be out there with them, giving both campaigns a better opportunity to test gear and hone their skills. So rather than fight amongst ourselves, why not work together for the common goal namely, to bring the Cup to the most interesting place it could be sailed San Francisco Bay.


On October 16, 1997, I'll be sailing out of Monterey Bay aboard a Hobie 21 for Costa Rica. I'll accomplish this by daysailing down the coast in what I expect to be about a 90-day adventure. A book to be called Sailing My Hobie On A Dream will emerge from the daily logs. It's to be a highly motivational work to promote wholesome small craft cruising, and will be distributed by Hobie International.

I'm doing this cruise without any profit motive. Hopefully I'll be able to give away two Hobies in a drawing on October 26 after the Turkey Race in Monterey Bay. Much is still being worked on. I need your support and will gladly write articles about my trip as I go.

I'm hoping to sell 350 tickets at $100 each to fund the project. In addition to giving away a Hobie 21 and my Hobie 18, I'll also be giving out 350 first editions of Sailing My Hobie On A Dream.

I would hope to have some interest from you as this is strictly a promotional giveaway to fund a 55-year-old going on 18 who wants to show that it can be done no matter what!

David Murphy

David We'd be delighted to support your adventure! All we ask is that you, accompanied by a proper mothership, prove your mettle by making a short shakedown sail from Monterey to the Farallones and back while small craft warnings are flying. It's not that we don't have faith in you, but you can't believe how many guys with Hobie dreams wimp out after the first dozen times they capsize or lose a testicle or two to hypothermia.

To demonstrate that we're on your side, we're going to warn you to watch out for the Coast Guard. The last time a guy with a Hobie wanted to start a long ocean trip from Monterey, the Coasties stopped him on the grounds that it was going to be a ‰manifestly unsafe voyage‰. What a bunch of killjoys!

The guy snuck out to sea with his Hobie anyway. Nobody knows exactly how far he got, because he was never seen again. However his Hobie well, one of the two hulls did make it a couple of thousand miles into the North Pacific.

Every great adventure needs a motto. We suggest, "Be careful what you ask for, you might just get it."


As a visitor to your new website, congratulations on now being available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I'll look forward to visiting almost as much as I do to reading your excellent publication.

I've only been in the Bay Area since February and fortunately was introduced to Latitude almost immediately. Although I sailed on the Bay when I was out here in the late '60s, I am finally taking lessons and getting back into sailing as fast as I can.

Tom Outman


Thanks to the wind gods, this year's Coastal Cup Race from San Francisco to Santa Barbara was obviously something special. As Latitude pointed out, those lucky enough to have participated will be talking about 'the '97 race' for years to come. Your Racing Editor, who sailed as a participant, did an excellent job of capturing the race's dramatic impact as well as summarizing all the ingredients that made the '97 race special.

Part of your article dealt with participation issues: that entries were down substantially from the '93 high of 89, and that it was hoped that more Southern California boats would enter. As a Southern California participant, I must say Latitude's article gets very low marks for trying to attract more boats from down south. The Coastal Cup deserves more Southern California participation but it won't happen unless articles do a better job of giving reasons to race, encouragement, and most importantly, recognition.

You were only partially correct in attributing significant lack of SoCal participation to the popularity of the Trimble/North Sails Regatta held at Long Beach the same weekend as the Coastal Cup. While it's true that a lot of offshore boats commit to Trimble/North, it's also true that many offshore racers would rather participate in an alternative four star offshore event. It was certainly the case with us. While each of the three SoCal boats that took part this year not two as was stated in your article reached that decision to participate independently, one can be certain that challenge, stature, and quality of race management were pervasive determinants.

The bottom line is that the Coastal Cup is a better event than Trimble/North for offshore boats. Your article didn't really say why. Further, you missed a golden opportunity by grossly under reporting the performances and opinions of the SoCal racers that did compete. To make matters worse, most of the space allotted to SoCal performance was used to discredit one of them by noting Kiwi Sanctuary's second place in Division B was the result of a dismasting to a competitor. My reaction to that assessment is that there is something to be said for pushing one's boat in heavy air skillfully enough to finish with the rig standing. On our boat we doused the chute and went wing-and-wing with the #2 when the wind blew over 30.

In my judgement, a better marketing strategy assuming that you're really interested in selling this event to SoCal would have been to note that all of the participants from SoCal trophied: Wind Dancer was first and Tranquility third in Division C, and Kiwi Sanctuary was second in Division B. The Wind Dancer and Tranquility results should have been embellished by emphasizing that Division C was the largest in the fleet. By finishing third in Division C, Tranquility beat more boats than any of the other division winners! In addition, Wind Dancer and Je T'Aime, both heavy displacement boats in Division C, corrected 9th and 11th overall, and were beaten only by eight ULDBs. Wind Dancer and Je T'Aime not only beat all the displacement boats, they beat two thirds of the ULDB boats as well! To my mind this was the most significant performance fact to come out of the '97 Coastal Cup Octavia's elapsed-time record notwithstanding. Je T'Aime sailed a powerful race and we consider ourselves fortunate to have beaten her.

These are all relevant race analysis facts that would have caught the attention of SoCal racers because they involve SoCal boats and crews. I can assure you they would have generated much more interest for next year's race. Our reasons for choosing the Coastal Cup and the logistics involved to participate along with our assessment of why we'll do it again would also have gone a long way to promote more SoCal interest. But no one inquired.

P.K. Edwards Jr., MD.
Wind Dancer

P.K. You Southern California sailors did a nice job in the Coastal Cup although maybe not quite as nice as you think but you have to appreciate that coverage of such events is a bit of a 'hit and miss' thing. It's not as though our small magazine has unlimited resources to exhaustively cover such an event, and it's not as though the significantly more important TransPac didn't follow immediately after.

The fact is that our reporter tried to find you Southern California skippers, but apparently some or all of you sailed across the finish line and on to your homeports further south. Since you didn't return until the traditional 'rubber chicken and pickle dish' fest, our reporter had already gotten the best story he could and moved on to the TransPac. Efforts to get your phone number from the EYC race officials proved futile. We did have a number for the owner of Kiwi Sanctuary, but unfortunately he returned our call after the issue went to press.

Nonetheless, we accept your criticism and will try to do better next year. By the way, we're a magazine that reports on races, not a PR outfit that directly promotes them.


I love Latitude! I've been reading your 'northern cousin' up here for years, and have just discovered y'all over the past year. It's a whole new experience!

Anyway, while reading the blurb about seasickness medicines, your joke about medicinal cannabis as a cure for seasickness got me thinkin' why not? Let's take a look at the medicinal benefits of marijuana: Easing of nausea for AIDS and cancer patients, relief of pressure on the eyes for those suffering from glaucoma . . . hmmm, maybe there's something to it.

What about side effects? Increased sensitivity of all the senses, euphoria, and increased appetite that sounds better than most of the alternatives, doesn't it?

Cory Brown

Cory While interviewing cruisers in Mexico last winter, we spoke with a woman she asked that her name not be used who swore that pot cured all her seasickness. We're interested in what kinds of results others may have enjoyed with this possible remedy.

By the way, we're certainly not encouraging anyone to buy pot in Mexico. For one thing, if you get busted, you can end up in a nasty Mexican jail for longer than you'd prefer. Secondly, some of the most brutal and ruthless elements of Mexican society are involved in selling drugs. More than a few cruisers have disappeared San Blas is notoriously bad or been killed over the years.


I read the letter by Cap'n Morgan of the Sea of Anarchy YC in the September issue about how the club's fleet was forced out of its anchorage in waters adjacent to Alameda Point. Before I make a couple of remarks, it's needs to be understood that Alameda Point is the name given to the Alameda territory previously occupied by the Navy.

The Navy has really left despite loud laments of self-proclaimed World War II heroes. It's not clear who took it upon themselves to bother Capt'n Morgan in his peaceful pursuits. Since Alameda Point is not yet part of the City of Alameda and since presumably no felony was in progress, it is equally unclear how anyone got the Alameda Police to join them in that dubious pursuit. Apparently the local fuzz realized it was without authority to do more than threaten.

Frequently I sail through the former Navy area to avoid heavy tidal currents, and I have never been bothered. I also did this when the Navy was still in control and was never confronted then either. Cap'n Morgan should have demanded to know who confronted him, and as a good anarchist advised them where to stick it! I will try out the anchorage myself, and welcome anyone with an illicit desire to screw around with me.

There are a number of businesses including Nelson's Boat Yard operating at Alameda Point, but to my knowledge no one pays rent for or controls the harbor area away from the piers. The status of who governs the area is not altogether settled. Over 500 acres are in possession of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as a nature reserve for the least tern. Recently the service expressed a claim of control over waters adjacent to the breeding area and sea walls, but that has not been settled yet. It is likely a reasonable claim to protect nesting areas, but would not include the area where I believe the Sea of Anarchy YC fleet was anchored.

The remainder of Alameda Point may soon be turned over to the City of Alameda, but right now it is more or less governed by the Base Reuse Advisory Group (BRAG). BRAG consists largely of the Alameda City Council, with representatives of Congressman Dellums, the mayors of Oakland and San Leandro, and a state legislator. But BRAG has a paid staff, which has become an arrogant bureaucracy in search of a country. Unless the people who approached the YC were Fish and Wildlife agents which does not seem to be the case it is likely that they were BRAG bureaucrats or agents. And BRAG has shown a total lack of understanding the importance of the yachting industry to Alameda.

I became interested in BRAG when it pretended to take an objective position, but in fact was deeply involved in promoting the scheme of a Southern California corporation to operate a private airport at Alameda Point. For a lot of reasons that aren't pertinent here, that airfield will be disastrous for many in Alameda worse than the Navy ever was, which was bad enough!

Even though I know that the only committee I ever should be on is the committee to end all committees, I agreed to serve on a BRAG subcommittee, the Land Use Committee, in the hope that another voice could be heard besides the canned BRAG newspeak. I am still vocal, but I am not heard.

Alameda derives a lot of its jobs and income from the marine industry. It should welcome use of the former Navy junkyard for marine-related recreational activities. Alameda Point has a great location, with a fine climate and beautiful views of the Bay and San Francisco but BRAG lacks any vision for its future.

So I suggest that if you find BRAG bureaucrats interfering with your legitimate rights of transit or anchorage in appropriate areas off Alameda Point, you obtain their names and then send them packing.

By the way, I'm surprised at your low ratings for scenic Half Moon Bay and the great summer anchorage at Port San Luis particularly in view of the 10+ rating for Santa Cruz.

You congratulate the crew of the USNS Narragansett as members of the US Navy. I would expect that the ship, as a naval as opposed to Navy vessel, has a merchant marine crew.

Louk Wijsen

Louk Mike Elesy of Trident Management, the outfit that's responsible for the security of ‰Alameda Point‰ called Latitude to advise that the area is "still restricted federal property not open to the public, and that in addition it has hazards to navigation and a ‰challenged environment‰." As such, the only boats allowed to transit the area are those headed to or from Nelson's Marine.

Elesy noted that it was he who first confronted the members of the Sea of Anarchy YC. "Three times I went out in a small boat and patiently explained that it was still restricted federal property and not open to the public. When they refused to move, I called the police, who called the Coast Guard which at the time didn't know what was going on." Since that time, mention was made in Notices to Mariners that Alameda Point is closed to the public.

Elesy, who "owns a Westsail 39 and enjoys anchoring out", was surprised that the Sea of Anarchy members decided to drop their hooks at Alameda Point. "It's choppy in there, the dust blows right off the land, and there isn't a good view."


Remember the 'Save Mono Lake' bumper stickers? Well, for the last couple of years we've moored our MacGregor 26 Mono Cricket on the lake. 'Sail(ing) Mono Lake' is a blast!

Mono Lake, about 15 miles by eight miles, is located about 30 minutes north of Mammoth Lakes and the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park. The entire region is a mecca for those who enjoy mountain biking, snow skiing, rock climbing and other outdoor activities. And there are plenty of campgrounds and motels.

Although it's not well known, people have used Mono Lake for recreational boating for the past century. The high desert setting surrounded by the Sierras and Mono craters is just lovely. The lake has two islands and evokes such a 'prehistoric' feeling that you can almost imagine pterodactyls flying above you.

If you love the water, Mono Lake has much to offer. Before we bought our 26-ft motorsailer, we windsurfed, rafted, and canoed on her waters. The lake is also great for snorkeling, diving, and swimming. Because the lake is much saltier than the ocean, it's easy for anyone to float. In addition, the lake and its shores are popular for birding and even hunting.

Sailing is a challenge on Mono Lake because the winds are unpredictable. While some spots on the lake are 60 feet deep, anchoring is generally excellent. In addition, there are many good areas for beaching. During the full moon, you can experience tidal changes.

We chose the MacGregor 26 as our boat because she has a 40 hp outboard that gets us back to our mooring quickly when the conditions become rough. And make no mistake, it can get rough. Mono Lake is like an inland ocean, and when the wind gusts to 45 knots and above, the waves can reach six feet. An ocean-going vessel wouldn't be a bad choice for these kinds of conditions.

If you coastal sailors think you have problems with the Coasties, try dealing with the California State Park system at Mono Lake. Several government agencies have deliberately mislead the public into thinking you can't use Mono Lake for recreational boating. One ranger was even quoted as saying, "But, we just don't want boats on Mono Lake." In addition, there are a number of people who feel that Mono Lake should be treated as a 'stay-off-the-grass' wilderness area. What they don't want to accept is that no legislative body had designated Mono Lake as a wilderness area.

One of the rangers actually put a notice inside our residence ordering our boat off the lake! When we challenged it, they said our mooring buoy was not legal. Then the State Parks sneakily applied with the State Lands Commission to gain control of the land beneath the lake. The public was not informed of this switch in control, not even the local sheriff. The result was that we had to pay for a permit to install a new mooring buoy on the other side of the bay.

Several public meetings with representatives of the Forest Service, State Parks, and the county in attendance have been held on the status of the lake. It was at these meetings that the state and federal officials agreed to tell the public the truth: that Mono Lake has a public dock and public launch ramp.

The truth hasn't always been easy to come by. Friends who worked for the Forest Service for 18 months tell us they were instructed to tell the public that Mono Lake has no launch access and that our boat was on the lake by special permit. Nonsense! It was the Public Trust doctrine and the fact that Mono Lake is a navigable waterway that helped to save Mono Lake from water diversions by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Now, some of these same people who used the navigable waterway as a reason to save Mono Lake want to deny mariners and their boats access.

Many locals weren't aware that the public has a right to use Mono Lake. They have been misinformed, and we want the misinformation to stop right now! We have been patient in our efforts, but we have been dealing with these problems since August of 1994.

We are currently organizing the Mono Lake Marine Association to promote boating safety in the Eastern Sierras and to ensure that access to the lakes of Eastern California will be protected. Do you know of any similar boating organizations, yacht clubs or marine associations that can give us some pointers to get started?

If any sailors with trailerable boats want to come out and sail this summer, come on over. We'd love to have some company out on this beautiful lake. You can e-mail us at monosail@cyberforce.com or call us at (760) 786-2339 evenings or (760) 647-6370. Or write the Mono Lake Marine Association at P.O. Box 59, Lee Vining, CA 93541. We can provide local area information and maps of how to get to the launch ramp. By the way, you'll want to be sure to rinse your boat off after you've sailed on Mono Lake. We'll provide tips on that, too.

The problems listed above are just a taste of what we have been dealing with. We are hoping that with support from other boaters and persistence, we will secure happy sailing for us and others. So, come sail Mono Lake! Thanks for listening!

Dan Dellinges and Colleen Bathe
Mono Cricket
Mono Lake

Dan & Colleen We'd be lying if we didn't tell you that we are of two minds about recreational boating activities on Mono Lake. On the one hand, we think it's important that the public have access to recreational facilities such as lakes even though just thinking about the finite nature of lakes gives us the willies. On the other hand, there's something very appealing about being able to enjoy magnificent examples of nature without having them besmirched by man's synthetic creations not the least of which would be jet-skis.

What would you and our less lake-adverse readers think about limiting recreational boat access to certain parts of the lake? Maybe the most scenic and dramatic 25% could be off limits to all watercraft. The remaining 75% would be open to canoes, kayaks and sail-powered vessels only, with 50% of this open to moderate speed powerboats. Ten percent could be set aside for water-skiing, and jet-skiers could have an area 100 feet by 100 feet. Naturally, everybody would be held to reasonable standards to protect the environment. Does this seem like a reasonable proposal?

While we're on the topic of public access to public lands and waters, we can't help but raise the issues of the islands off the coast of Southern California. There's San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Barbara, San Nicholas, Catalina, and San Clemente. Of these, only Catalina has any development or facilities, and only in two rather small areas. Why, we'd like to know, shouldn't the larger islands such as Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and San Clemente also be allowed to have light development to provide greater public access and enjoyment? We're citizens, it's our land, so why shouldn't we be able to enjoy it as long as it was in a way that didn't destroy it?

Rants, raves, comments, drink recipes, may be sent to our Editor.

© 1997 Latitude38