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After reading the account of ciguatera in the August issue, I would like to share my personal encounter with it - along with some information on the disease.
Ciguatera is caused by a neurotoxin that is formed in a dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus toxicus, which can be found on tropical reefs anywhere in the world. Small fish ingest the microscopic organism, and as the food chain is ascended the toxin becomes more concentrated in the flesh of more than 300 different species of fish including barracuda, amberjack, grouper, and snapper. Tuna and dorado are fortunately not affected. The fish are only hosts to the toxin and don't have any manifestations of illness or abnormality. The larger and older the fish, the greater the concentration of the toxin.
When humans eat fish that are host to ciguatoxin, it causes ciguatera. The toxin can be cumulative in humans, so that repeat ingestions add up - even if an extended period of time has passed. When humans eat affected fish, the toxin attaches itself to the nerve cells in the central nervous system and causes a whole host of symptoms. The symptoms include numbness and tingling of the lips, hot-cold sensation reversal, muscle pains and weakness, a short bout of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, tingling feeling in the extremities, muscle spasms, burning sensations of the hands and feet, headaches, and in general feeling poorly. Alcohol worsens the symptoms, as do sweets, nuts, and coffee. Headaches, double vision, eye irritation, metallic tastes, diminished memory, exhaustion, and a number of other symptoms are associated with ciguatera.
In June of this year, we had friends from the Bay Area visit us aboard Tyche while at Marsh Harbor in the Bahamas. We all went to dinner at one of the better, if not the best, restaurant in the area. Three of the four people in our group had grouper for dinner; the fourth had pork. Two of the three who had grouper subsequently discovered they had ciguatera.
I say "discovered" because even though the symptoms elucidated above seem to be fairly typical of a single disease, the two people with ciguatera had totally different symptoms, no two of which were shared. Tinker, my mate, awakened at about four in the morning following the grouper dinner with a bad case of diarrhea. This subsided considerably over the next few days, but she also reported feeling as though she had a bad coffee burn to the tip of her tongue. She also noticed her legs felt weak and tingled, and in fact sometimes they barely seemed to be able to hold her upright. She also felt as though the soles of her feet were burning. She also experienced occasional profound leg muscle pain. Most of the symptoms were much worse upon getting up in the morning. This was accompanied by a general feeling of being 'not quite right', some lethargy, and infrequent severe headaches.
The other person was up most of the night after dinner feeling great pain in the muscles of the upper right abdomen. He also had a flu-like symptoms - which he, normally a non-smoker, attributed to having smoked three Cuban cigars the preceding day and drinking in excess of a six pack of Kalik. By the end of the first day, he felt much better and resolved to limit his consumption of Cubans to two a day.
Both victims reported that one of the worst parts of being affected was that the symptoms recurred on an irregular basis, sometimes worse than at the time of original ciguatoxin ingestion. Both of these people affected are 'into' exercise, but on most days their leg pain and general weakness prohibited them from even a small amount of physical activity. Ciguatera symptoms can easily debilitate a normally healthy and active person.
Treatment, which can be beneficial for eleven weeks after ingesting the ciguatoxin, is intravenous Mannitol. This is a special sugar solution that seems to float the toxin off the sites of attachment and allows the kidneys to excrete part of it. The Mannitol is given on three different sessions, either on consecutive days or on an every-other-day regimen. In addition, antacid medications like Pepcid AC and Zantac seem to bring short term relief of the symptoms.
The current guru on ciguatera is Donna G. Blythe, MD, a Miami physician who has twice suffered from ciguatera. Her ciguatera hotline numbers are; (305) 361-4619 and (305) 661-0774. Tinker got partial relief from Dr. Blythe's treatments - which usually ended with big hugs.
We have renamed the disease 'Grouper Grunge'. Here are some more interesting facts about what's normally called ciguatera: The name 'cigua' comes from a small snail that was thought - by Cubans in the 1500s - to be the source of the problem. It's unlawful to sell barracuda of any size in Florida because of the risk of ciguatera. On the average, Tahitians have 18 bouts of ciguatera in their lifetimes. While ciguatera can kill, it usually doesn't. That was no consolation to the ship's surgeon aboard Captain Bligh's Bounty, however, who died of ciguatera while in the South Pacific.
Brian - Thanks for your excellent information. We, too, had our 'fill' of ciguatera while living in the Caribbean. It was definitely not fun.
You'll never see the disease mentioned in a tourism brochure, but as you say, it is prevalent in most tropical areas. However, that's not to say you should never eat local fish in, say, the British Virgins. As unscientific as it sounds, Caribbean fishermen have been monitoring which reefs are, and are not, affected by ciguatera for generations through 'trial and error' (i.e. someone gets sick). No one eats Barracuda in ciguatera-affected areas since they are high on the reef-ecosystem food chain. However, pelagic fish like tuna, mahi-mahi and swordfish feed off the deep-water biomass, not the reefs, so in most areas they are considered completely safe and ciguatera free.
When we came down with the disease, our instinct was simply to lay low and 'tough it out'. We came around eventually, although for two days we were unable to even keep down water. We learned later, however, that the extreme dehydration resulting from ciguatera is what sometimes makes it fatal - especially with kids and the elderly. So if you get a 'big dose' of the disease, you should really see a doctor who can get you hooked up with intravenous fluids. You'll still feel miserable, but at least you'll live to tell your 'big fish story' later.
GOING THROUGH THE PROCESS
Having left our Cal 31 Backstreets in San Carlos, Mexico, we're now going through the new boat - multihull - buying process. Anyone who has done this realizes that it's also a process of discovering who you really are!
We've been looking at multihulls all summer, but haven't seen a boat that we wanted enough to make an offer. This has been a good thing, because the multihull we liked the most 10 weeks ago - a Searunner trimaran - is not the same boat we wanted four weeks ago - a Gemini catamaran - which in turn is very different than from what we want today.
Currently, we like the idea of all of the accommodations being in the hulls and having a very large cockpit between. While this would be bad where there are bugs, cold and rain, it would be great for the Sea of Cortez. We know the location of two of these kinds of cats - unfortunately, they are both in France. We're also interested in Maine Cats, but have never seen one.
Our guiding principles for a Sea of Cortez cruiser are these: 1) If you don't like the cockpit, don't buy the boat. 2) Buy the smallest boat that will do the job. 3) Carry two kayaks.
Dennis and Paula
Backstreets, Cal 31
Presently motorhoming east from Florida
Dennis & Paula - Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. We'll be interested in knowing what you eventually buy and how you like it.
By the way, Russ Muncel has had a Maine Cat 22 berthed in Schoonmaker Marina in Sausalito for nearly a year. She's perhaps a little small for serious cruising in the Sea of Cortez, but Muncel would be delighted to show you the boat. He tells us the reason you haven't seen a Maine Cat 30 is that while the prototype has been completed, the first real one hasn't come out of the mold yet.
I must say it's about time you developed some sort of global presence. For a couple of years, a colleague in San Francisco sent me your magazine. Unfortunately, he's had to move on and I've been missing my regular update on the North American cruising scene.
If your web site has the same standard of content - and humor - as your magazine, it'll be a great success.
Wayward Wind, Perry 43
Fremantle (but currently in Sydney, Oz)
Frank - We're glad you like the magazine. It's not going to happen tomorrow, but we hope to be getting more of the magazine online with each issue.
THEY DIDN'T WANT TO GET THEIR FEET WET
I did a charter with some friends - three guys and four gals - in the Caribbean. Of the gals, I was the most experienced sailor.
While anchored off Peter Island, we girls wanted to go ashore while the guys decided they wanted to stay on the boat. Since I was the most experienced boater, I was in charge of taking the girls ashore. We made it to shore fine, it was getting the dinghy up the steep incline that turned out to be trouble.
We waited until a wave came ashore, and pulled the dinghy up with it. It worked the first time, but we needed to get it up farther. Two locals came over to help - but they weren't much help because even though they were wearing rubber boots, they didn't want to get their feet wet.
When the next wave hit, water sloshed over the back of the dinghy, cameras got wet/trashed, bruises were inflicted on legs and arms, and blood was shed.
Meanwhile, the boys were observing us through binoculars from the boat. At one point, Dave asked Don what was happening, and Don replied, "They're up to their tits in water."
The guys knew we would be okay and we were. We made it back to the boat eager to tell our story!
Julia - This sounds like one of those 'you had to be there' stories. And indeed, we wish we had been. As for the locals in rubber boots, trust us, they didn't come over to help, they came over to look and laugh.
Making dinghy landings through surf - such as many new cruisers in Mexico will be doing for the first time - is one of the most dangerous aspects of cruising. A dinghy broadside to the surf can be overturned by even a very small wave, and if the outboard continues to run for even a few seconds, the occupants can be seriously injured or killed. Folks headed down to Mexico shouldn't try any dinghy landings through the surf until they've gotten instruction from experts.
AFTER JUDGEMENT FROM A COURT
The following might be of interest to your readers:
The alleged tax lien notice against a boat, filed by a County Assessor, may only be executed and imposed after judgment from a court of competent jurisdiction, or where the vessel is part of an ongoing business from which a writ of execution to seize the boat can be taken to enforce the tax lien. This according to California Civil Code section 700.090 supported by California Civil Code sections 488.385 and 488.500 - especially in absence of any general California revenue law imposing a personal property tax against boat ownership.
In conclusion, fees charged for a personal property-boat tax law cannot be imposed.
Boatowner and Editor
First Amendment Publishers, San Jose
Michael - Assuming we're correct in understanding that your interpretation of the law is that individuals can't be assessed for personal property taxes on their boats, it would be of interest to our readers to have the following two questions answered: 1) Does anybody else agree with your interpretation? And, 2) Have you refused to pay personal property taxes - and gotten away with it?
THE OLDEST WARSHIP
Perhaps I can add a little to what seems like a battle between the H.M.S. Victory and the U.S.S. Constitution for the honor of the oldest warship.
Actually, there is really no possible comparison since 'Old Ironsides' is maintained by the bottomless pockets of the U.S. taxpayer. She floats on her own bottom, which has been renewed many times. Victory, on the other hand, has had to earn some of her keep as a tourist trap. The Victory has not been afloat for some 70 years and will certainly never sail again.
Much of Victory's structure is original, but was not improved when a German bomb shared the dock in 1940. At least one of the masts goes through the ship's bottom and rests on the dock, and some of the spars - including the bowsprit - are sheet metal replicas. Most of the guns - please, never 'cannons' - are cast resin to save weight and strain on the ancient hull.
Victory is still the flagship of the Royal Navy, but in the fuzzy British fashion, her maintenance is shared by the Society for Nautical Research, a private body which was instrumental in saving her in the 1920's. I am a member of the SNR, which entitles me to attend the Annual Lunch onboard. Cocktails in Nelson's ambience is unsurpassable! The Admiral of the Fleet, the Captain of the Victory, and the Mayor of Portsmouth all attend in fully fitted out with ceremonial swords and chains of office. Other VIP's abound, and a few old farts such as myself tag along for the ride.
All this is great fun, but does little to pay for wood ravaged by rot and Death Watch Beetles. So the old ship is kept in repair by tourist admission charges and the selling of souvenirs. Perhaps it's a sort of commentary on the End of the Empire and other sad tales.
Those who delight in 'what if' games might be better employed in staging an imaginary battle between Ericson's Monitor and H.M.S. Warrior, which still floats near the Victory. Completed in 1860, the Warrior was an ocean-going armored iron shop. Her guns were still mounted in broadside style, but she was good for 14 knots under power. She probably could have swamped the low freeboard Monitor with her wake, without even having to fire a shot.
The oldest warship still in one piece might well be the galley of Sultan Mehmet II. He conquered Constantinople - now Istanbul - in 1453, and his flagship is still preserved there in the maritime museum.
GREAT PEOPLE AT MORRO BAY
We'd heard stories about how great the people at the Morro Bay YC are from our sailing friends at Encinal YC. Especially from Jay Brown, who claims to be known at 'The Towed' by the Morro Bay Coast Guard and YC.
We got first-hand experience on how friendly they are on July 4 as we were bringing our newly purchased trawler, Rosie, a Tortola 51, home from San Diego. After getting around Conception and Arguello with only the loss of one crew member - mal de mer reduced him to an airline passenger at Port San Luis - we ran up the white flag at Estero Bay when the 8-10 foot NOAA seas began to look that size.
The Morro Bay YC answered our call on the first try. They gave us local directions, a mooring, and a welcome to their July 4th luau. When Rosie turned out to be a little heavier than the rating for their mooring, the yacht club gang interceded with the Harbormaster and got us a real live berth.
During our week in Morro Bay, the club never used the 'no' word, and made us feel right at home at the half-way point in our journey home. They even lent us their address when we had to receive some stuff via FedEx. And we weren't the only refugees at their moorings. Over the last of June and that first week of July at least a half-dozen Coastal Cuppers on their way back 'up-hill' became club guests when the weather got bad enough to ground most of Morro Bay's fishing fleet.
The Morro Bay folks are great people who are as kind to us 'stink potters' as they are to all those folks with their tall antennas with the big sheets attached.
Greg and Andi Winters
BOATERS WITH SUICIDAL TENDENCIES
I'm writing to commend you on the Don't Mess With Rule 9 article in last month's Sightings. As master of a vessel that is often restricted to a "narrow channel or fairway" and who encounters numerous boaters with suicidal tendencies there, I'm happy to see your publication doing its best to look after the safety of its readers. Latitude has always contained useful and educational articles concerning safe and courteous boating; please keep making this a priority in your publication.
I would like to offer the suggestion that vessels equipped with a VHF radiotelephone can communicate with all vessels transiting San Francisco Bay and adjoining waters that would be restricted to Narrow Channels and Fairways. These restricted vessels are monitoring channels 13 and 14. Channel 14 is the channel monitored by San Francisco Bay Vessel Traffic Service (VTS). All vessels greater than 300 gross tons as well as passenger vessels will be monitoring this channel. 'Vessel Traffic' can be reached on channel 14 and can provide information concerning the movement and intentions of vessels participating in the VTS system.
These same vessels monitor channel 13, which is the designated channel in the Bay Area for bridge to bridge communications. Pilots, tug captains and I have no problem communicating with any vessel that calls in regards to a meeting, crossing or overtaking situation. If the vessel cannot be identified by its name, the location and direction of movement is sufficient to hail us. We will provide information regarding our restrictions and intentions, and can provide advice on how best to avoid a dangerous situation.
Having experienced numerous unnerving encounters with small craft, I can only recommend that boaters heed to the excellent advice given in your article and 'talk to me'.
Captain Anthony Palombit
OSRV Pacific Responder
WE LIKE THE MERC
In the August issue you asked for feedback about outboards. We've got a Mercury 15 hp engine that we've been using hard since about '88. It's starting to look a little ratty on the outside, but still runs great. We haven't had occasion to use the dealer since we bought it, so we can't comment on service.
The only problems so far have been a busted prop in Tonga - when we tried to motor through coral - and a lower crankcase seal in Fiji. Getting to the latter gave us a chance to check out the insides. It looked relatively clean and sanitary despite the fact that we never bother flushing it with fresh water.
We've been really impressed with the Merc - although we suspect any of the modern outboards would have given similar service. But there are two things we particularly like about our engine: First, it's about 20 pounds lighter than a 15 hp by Yamaha or Nissan - a big help since we stow our outboard below in a trick padded bag from the Spinnaker Shop. Second, the combined shift/throttle/tiller is every bit as great as Bob and Betsy Van Ness reported it to be in the July issue of Latitude. It's such a great feature we don't know why all the other manufacturers don't do it.
We've seen numerous Mercury dealers in French Polynesia, Fiji, and Australia - and a few elsewhere. But when we needed to buy a new seal and gaskets in Fiji, we discovered the dealer had no parts in stock. They had to be sent out from the States. The brand with the most dealers everywhere is Yamaha, but as Latitude pointed out, this has a downside: it makes such engines attractive to rip-off artists.
Our advice is to carry the parts you would mostly likely need, such as spark plugs, a prop, seals and gaskets, throttle cables and maybe a black box for the ignition.
Jim and Sue Corenman
Heart of Gold
Somewhere in the Aegean Sea
PETALUMA - WHY?
Thanks to Michael Fitzgerald for his delightful Petaluma Cruise 'weekend getaway' article that appeared in the September issue.
In the past, when I've mentioned our club's cruises to Petaluma, I've often got a 'Why?' as a response. As an occasional gunkholer who needs no more reason to get out there and go than 'Hey! the earth's still turning and the sun came up', I now feel a little better equipped to deal with those folks who need an exotic destination - or a week's worth of being entertained - to justify leaving the dock.
P.S. The hospitality of the Petaluma YC speaks for itself.
Bay View Boat Club, San Francisco
K.B. - It's always boggled our mind that most of the Bay Area consists of the Bay itself and it's tributaries - and that the millions of people who drive over, under, and around these bodies of water each day seem oblivious to the possibilities. A trip up the Petaluma is but one good example of the possibilities.
ANCHOR ETIQUETTE AND HOLDING TANKS
During the past four seasons spent in western Mexico - one on Hinayana and three on Integrity - my spleen has been building. It's time to vent it - although this remark only applies literally to my secondary point.
I'll start with time-honored anchoring and mooring practices. The West Coast Notre Americano seems to firmly believe in three undeniable truths: 1) The first boat at an anchorage establishes anchoring practice; 2) The space around an anchored boat is sacred; and 3) her captain determines the radius required.
As a result, about 10 days before Philomena's St. Patrick's Day Party some years ago, I was told there was no room in the Barra de Navidad basin because three Canadian boats wanted to swing at anchor. Three days later, however, there were over 20 boats anchored bow and stern as had been historical custom.
On another occasion, I was Med-moored at Las Hadas. Because of heavy surge, I put my inflatable on the 'at risk' side. But I was asked to remove it as it was scuffing the wax of a San Francisco-based boat.
But the worst current manifestation of the problem exists at Puerto Vallarta's 'Club Entrada' at the entrance to the harbor. It's a popular place to settle in because bow anchors hold well, stern lines are tied to the big rocks on the bank, and there's rarely any surge. When the marina at Puerto Vallarta fills up - which is often - the nearest alternative anchorage is up at La Cruz two hours away.
In most of the rest of the cruising world, boats would be snuggled in gunwale to gunwale - with fenders, of course - at 'Club Entrada'. In the Med, for example, moored boats wouldn't just be gunwale to gunwale, but that way three or four rows deep! But at Puerto Vallarta, the Norte Americanos insist on 50 feet between boats by invoking the 'I was here first' privilege. And in many cases they then boast that they're "here for the season."
Such behavior is not fair to those of us who can't get space in the marina or who can't afford marina prices. It's also bad seamanship. Boats that feel they need that much room to move with the tide only need to tighten their lines or widen the 'V' between them. And if for some reason such boat spacing were really required, then stays should be limited to something like 10 days. It seems to me that the long term 'squatters' are the most vocal about their right to excessive room.
Granted, my 30-ton steel boat might cause some alarm. However, I carry six anchors starting with a 150 pounder, have chain for mooring to rocks, and put out really big fenders.
Ironically the only anchoring damage I have experienced in Mexico was when a late arriving 27-footer anchored close and parallel to my boat. After our boats touched in the night, the other owner was very apologetic - and sailed away. What he didn't say - and what I didn't discover until some days later - was that his boat had punched holes in my rail-mounted sailboard.
Anyhow fellow sailors, what about 'Club Entrada'? Should we insist that more boats be allowed to use this area instead of just a privileged few? Should we petition the Port Captain to limit stays? Should we just force our way into available space, exercising prudent seamanship, and shouting loudly in a foreign language? (Just kidding.)
Or perhaps we should simply help others to moor, lending them lines if needed and prudent, and complain only if there is damage? In my opinion, boats that worry about scuffing their wax should stay in their single slips - preferably in their own home ports.
My secondary point has to do with the use of holding tanks - or should I say the lack of their use. This has become a particularly sore point in Z-town.
Yes, I have dinghied through hundreds of gallons of sewage pumped into Marina Vallarta. And yes, I know that Mexicans often dump sewage in the sea. But at least the Mexicans are working hard to improve the situation. A boat anchored, occupied, and immobile for a month or more, on the other hand, is not. Just in the interest of leaving a 'clean wake', can all of us yachties please use our holding tanks? If you have to periodically go out to sea to empty your holding tank legally, that's just what you should do. (Hopefully, you'll be able to reclaim your spot at 'Club Entrada'.)
I'm not looking for more regulation, but given the way things have been going, I don't think it's going to be long before Port Captains start inspecting logs to see when boats have left to pump their tanks at least three miles offshore.
My spleen is vented. Welcome to Paradise! But please don't run your deck generator for entire afternoons, day after day.
Bob - You've raised two unpleasant but important issues.
With regard to dumping human waste where people anchor and swim, it's illegal, unhealthy, and totally uncool. You have both a right and an obligation to protest. On the other hand, don't jump to the conclusion that all boats that stay in one place for a couple of weeks must be polluting. We once had Big O on the hook at Z-town for two months and never had to take her to sea to pump the holding tanks. Why? Partly because the holding tank was enormous, but even more so because we simply swam ashore each morning to buy a cup of coffee and do our 'business' in the restaurant's restroom.
As for how much space a boat should be allowed to occupy and for how long, that's always going to be a contentious issue.
As you mention, in places like Greece, it's nothing - as crazy as it might sound to those who haven't seen it - for boats to be Med-tied three and four rows deep. Often times there are lots of angry objections in different languages, but the boats just keep piling in and with the full support of the port captains. There's more shouting in the morning when somebody tries to leave - only to discover that everybody has their anchor lines snarled in a hopeless mess. There's not just shouting but lots of screaming when a meltemi comes through.
In Caribbean anchorages, where the trades reliably blow from certain directions, boats routinely anchor very close together - and it's not that uncommon for boats to tap each other when the wind goes light or fluky. It's just part of cruising. If Treasure Island's Clipper Cove were a popular Caribbean anchorage, there would easily be 200 boats on the hook.
In Mexico, boats are rarely packed so close to one another - except around cities such as P.V. While our inclination is always to avoid crowds and unpleasantness, if a boat arrived at 'Club Entrada' and found 50 feet between Med-moored boats, it's our opinion that he/she would have every right to drop the bow hook and back right into the open space - without even asking permission. If we were already moored there, we'd certainly lend a hand to prevent damage to either of the boats involved. And unless the Port Captain specifically prohibited it, we'd assume that there would be room for at least one or two more boats in the original 50-foot space.
The way we see it, everybody should always give everyone else as much room as possible. When out in the boonies, this can mean a newcomer moving on to another nearby anchorage. But in the case of busy cities like Puerto Vallarta, where people have to make crew changes, get supplies, and take care of paperwork, those already in place have to be willing to give as much space as possible to accomodate others. That's our view - what do the rest of you think?
FOR EVERY PURPOSE, THERE IS A BOAT
This short note is to make you aware of the fact that the Misty Sue - which is an 'extension' of our trawler the Nanseamay, both of which are berthed in the Benicia Marina - is headed for the Baja Ha-Ha. Folks can follow our 3,000-mile round trip from Benicia to Cabo San Lucas and back through our website, http://members.tripod.com/-mistysue, over the next two months.
As I frequently tell our friends who question my zeal as both a powerboat owner and a sailboat owner, our trawler is passive fun while the sailboat is active fun. But they're both fun and we love boating. All boaters should have a powerboat as the mother ship, a sailboat for ocean passages, a Donzi to get to Herman & Helen's quickly, and various dinghies to tend the fleet.
The vessel Shanti, skippered by owner Walt Lew, is also leaving Benicia this week to meet us in San Diego for the Ha-Ha. The bon voyage parties have begun in earnest at the Benicia YC.
Captain Bill Hardesty
Bill - We once knew a guy who was like you in the sense that he had two sailboats, two powerboats, and a flock of dinghies. No matter which craft he was on, though, he always seemed to have a good time.
But would we be correct in assuming that your outlook on life tends more toward the 'He who dies with the most toys, wins' school of thought than a 'less is more' philosophy?
VINEGAR IN THE TOILETS AND TEAK ON THE DECKS
As was noted in the September issue, vinegar is the best thing for the 'smelly head blues' - besides frequently cleaning the head. I put vinegar in heads as a preventive measure on a regular basis - whether they need it or not. And not just on boats; I use vinegar in the toilet and in the kitchen sink at home, too.
With regard to another September topic, teak decks, I spent the three months of summer aboard a sailboat with teak decks sailing among the islands and ports of Greece and Turkey. The teak got too hot to walk on all right - but they weren't as bad as metal and plastic! In any event, keep the water bucket handy, and remember that evaporation on deck also cools things down below.
While on the subject of heat, we carried the dinghy on deck, and the difference in temperature between the port side cabin - which was under the dinghy and therefore shaded - and the starboard side head, was significant.
Boatless in Monterey
Mabelle - Vinegar is supposedly as good - if not better - for stomachs than it is toilets. At the end of the first Ha-Ha, we had a big beach party complete with catered food, and it seems that everybody who ate that food came down with very, very nasty cases of tourista. That's why the Ha-Ha no longer serves food - just beer - in Mexico. But we digress. After days of being terribly ill, somebody came up with a folk remedy of drinking small amounts of diluted apple cider vinegar. We'd left several days before, but from all reports the little hits of vinegar are what cured most folks. Does anybody have first hand - or first stomach - experience with vinegar as a remedy? And if so, what's the proper dose?
THE HIGHER THE RISK, THE HIGHER THE PREMIUM
Your October issue contained a letter from Donald Street that claimed that insurance coverage in the Caribbean was not available due to one Lloyds syndicate's unwillingness to participate in providing that coverage.
Mike Waterfield and the Kershaw syndicate is only one of the many sources at Lloyds. There are many other Lloyds syndicates and other reputable insurance companies available as sources of marine insurance. I know Mr. Waterfield to be a knowledgeable yachtsman who is sympathetic to the needs of other boaters - and his syndicate will and does under certain circumstances extend coverage year round in the Caribbean as well as in other parts of the world.
Having said that, I must also state that presently there are other companies better equipped to handle year 'round Caribbean and cruising business. The entire insurance industry is designed around risk and cost of doing business; the higher the risk or the cost of doing business in a particular area, the higher the premium.
Hurricane coverage whilst in the Caribbean, Mexico or the South China Sea is available - but is also based on economics. As is the case with cruising insurance anywhere else in the world, the premium will vary with the size crew or age and type of vessel. It simply boils down to this: Does the yachtsman want to pay the extra premium for his given circumstance?
As to trying to out run or out guess a storm, tropical depression, hurricanes or anything else Mother Nature throws at us - as Street seems to suggest cruisers should do - is absolutely ridiculous. Attempting to beat the odds is what keeps all of our insurance premiums high.
Barnett Insurance, San Diego
TEAKY, LEAKY DECKS
Cruiser feedback on teak decks? We have a Perry 47 ketch with teak decks that we've owned since 1990. The boat, built in Taiwan in '79, has teak over the fiberglass deck.
We lived with the teak for years and took the boat to the tropical climates of Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama. Although the teak was beautiful, it was too hot to walk on. Actually, the teak itself wasn't the problem, but rather the black tar-like caulking. We needed to wear sandals to keep our feet from getting scorched when trying to get around.
It's our understanding that back in '79, it was common for teak decks to be installed with a cushion of sealant glue over the fiberglass - followed by thousands of drill holes to secure the teak to the deck. The holes were then filled and covered with teak bungs to maintain the lovely appearance of teak. If we're not mistaken, teak decks are no longer installed this way because of the inherent troubles associated with drilling hundreds of holes in the decks.
Each year we'd check our decks for possible leaks, and recaulk any suspicious areas. Nonetheless, there would still be leaks. Try as we may, we never were able to find the source of the leaks because they could 'travel' between the teak and the fiberglass deck. We know one boatowner who meticulously removed his teak decks board by board, then sealed and caulked the entire decks, and finally reinstalled and re-caulked the teak. And they still leaked! But for us, other than being a nuisance and ruining some items in lockers, the leaks from the teak decks were something we had learned to live with.
One year, however, as we were planning our voyage across the Atlantic to Europe, a very heavy rainstorm revealed more leaks than we'd previously realized. Then one sailor, who had previously crossed the Atlantic, told us that he'd personally experienced how serious leaks in the deck could be. They leaks were minor enough in rainstorms, but once at the mercy of the rough ocean sailing from Cartagena to Panama, the little leaks allowed huge quantities of water to get below and drench the interior of his boat. It was his opinion that such leaks, in the wrong conditions, could create a very dangerous situation. He strongly advised us to consider removing our teak decks before we left for Europe. We were shocked at the idea.
In desperation, we made many inquiries about possible leak finders, teak sealers, recaulking - anything that would prevent us from having to remove our beautiful teak decks. No one gave us any real hope or possible solutions to the problem and, by an overwhelming majority, again recommended that the only way to cure the leaks was to remove the teak deck.
We got quotes on removing the decks from several companies, with prices ranging from several thousand dollars to up to $15,000 - and that didn't even include replacing the teak. In the end, under consultation of a supervisor, Bob was able to remove the teak himself with the help of some strong young workers. What we found - to our amazement - was that under the teak was a two-inch finished fiberglass deck - complete with non-skid patterns! We were elated.
After filling thousands of holes, sanding, sealing and finishing, the fiberglass was then painted with two coats of Awlgrip. We were then fortunate enough to find an excellent buy on white Treadmaster - a strong rubberized surface - at the huge Nautical Flea Market in Dania, Florida. We glassed that on top of the non-skid patterns.
We never did go to Europe that year, because the weather window had closed by the time we had actually finished the project. But we are pleased with our new decks. We can walk on them in tropical heat and the leaks have virtually disappeared.
We've also become aware that many boat buyers won't buy a boat with teak decks because they fear they'll have the same kind of problems we experienced. So our boat has not only become several hundred pounds lighter and easier to walk on after having the teak removed, but it's also made it more marketable to those who fear the problems of teak decks.
Bob and Phyllis Neumann
New York City (Presently)
Bob & Phyllis - We recently spoke with our old friends Jeff and Dawn Stone of the Sausalito-based - but much-travelled - Nicholson 39 Dawn. The teak decks on their boat had gotten pretty grotty over the years, so they decided to remove them while in Trinidad. They report it was the most troublesome, difficult, and arduous boat job they've ever undertaken. And since Jeff works on boat refrigeration systems, that says a lot.
THE SEAMS WERE DELAMINATING
Jack London, in The Cruise of the Snark, told of the shoddy work done on his brand new ketch and her machinery, and the problems they caused him: a brand new hull that leaked, gasoline engines that failed, an anchor windlasses that disintegrated, decks that allowed water to pour onto the bunks, and so forth.
I have recently fallen afoul of one of the disreputable types that Jack London railed about! I'd like to tell your readers about it so they may learn without having to suffer the problems that I have suffered - and am still suffering.
In March this year, I engaged a ship's carpenter to re-caulk the seams on the teak deck of my 51-ft William Garden ketch. By August, it became apparent that the seams were delaminating all over the deck. After pulling up some of the caulking, I discovered - with help from a knowledgeable local surveyor - that many of the seams had not been routed out properly, and some of them were only a sixteenth of an inch thick!
The instructions that came with the caulking material called for at least a 2:1 depth to width ratio for the seams, a 'bond-breaker strip' at the bottom of every seam, and for the seams to be primed. None of these things were done by the self-proclaimed 'ship's carpenter'. He admitted liability and promised that he would make the work good. He actually started, and re-caulked a part of my aft deck. However, he skipped town the very day he promised to return to complete the job and is apparently sailing to Mexico.
I'm obviously very upset about this dishonorable behavior, especially as it has cost me many thousands of dollars - and will many thousands more to fix. In fact, the deck will never be the same again, and probably needs another complete recaulking.
So in case anyone, while cruising Mexico, is thinking of having work done by a ship's carpenter named [Name Withheld], you'll want to think twice about it. What makes it worse is that this rogue is a fellow countryman, forsooth!
Don't suffer the knavery endured by Jack London and me - at least his problems occurred in a time of turmoil, just after the Great Earthquake - get your jobs done by a reputable yard that has been around for a long time and will put right any problems arising from their work.
Name Withheld - Since there are two sides to every story and we've only heard one, we're going to have to withhold names. Nonetheless, the caution to always check out boatworkers and monitor their work always holds true.
By the way, Jeff and Dawn Stone of the Sausalito-based Nicholson 39 Dawn - who are now in Trinidad - thought their teak decks were looking a little tawdry and decided to take them off. They report it was the most difficult, miserable, wretched boat job they've ever gotten themselves into.
BOAT-HIKING TO THE GALAPAGOS
I'm not sure if you'll be able to help me with this inquiry, but any information you can give me would be appreciated. I recently finished college, and at the end of October will be traveling to Costa Rica to do scuba diving research and other marine conservation volunteering. After about three months I plan to continue on to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
I hope to get there by boat - which is why I'm contacting you. I don't know if there is a publication somewhere of people with boats who would be willing to take on a hitch-hiker. I would be willing to work in return for the passage. Ideally I'd be able to get a berth on a boat doing marine research - especially in the Galapagos - but anything would be great.
I read your Classy Classifieds but didn't find anything there. If you know of any information or you can direct me towards someone to contact, I'd sure appreciate it. Also, do you think that I should maybe just approach boaters at harbors in Costa Rica?
Christina - There are relatively few boats that go to the Galapagos each year, but most of those that do leave from either Costa Rica or Panama.
In Costa Rica, the place to put the word out that you're looking for a ride to the Galapagos is that crazy little cruiser's hangout of Isla Gitana. Not only is Isla Gitana fun and cheap, it's cleaner and safer than Puntarenas - which is a little rough around the edges. The other possibility in Costa Rica is Golfito, but lots of cruisers have avoided it in recent years.
With regard to Panama, the places to look for a ride are the Panama Canal YC, the Balboa YC in Balboa, and the Pedro Miguel Boat Club on Miraflores Lake. Most of the boats gather at the Panama Canal YC on the Caribbean side, but understand that Colon can be a very, very nasty place. It would probably be best if you just had somebody post a 'ride wanted' notice at the club. The Balboa YC on the Panama City side isn't much better for a girl just out of college, for in years past it's more or less been a whorehouse after dark. By comparison, the Pedro Miguel BC, located on Miraflores Lake, would be a haven. There are lots of good cruisers there who would look out after your health and welfare. If you write them at Box 2613, Balboa, Republic of Panama, they'll probably post a message for you. You can also try faxing them at 011 507 272 8105.
As for your chances of getting a ride on a boat to the Galapagos, the good news is that girls just out of college are the most sought after crew. The bad news is they're often sought after for all the wrong reasons. But we're sure you've seen that movie before. Good luck - and don't forget to write!
PODESTO'S - A DELTA SECRET
In the September issue you wrote that 'nobody shared their Delta secrets'. Well, mine is Podesto's Market on the corner of Pacific and Benjamin Holt in Stockton. Their phone number is (209) 951-0234 - and you'll soon learn why that's important.
Almost all 'Delta regulars' end up making shopping trips into Lodi or Stockton. Sooner or later, most everyone comes across Podesto's, which has a full deli, produce section that features fresh Delta white corn, fresh pies and other desserts in the bakery section, an excellent meat market, and a full selection of wine and liquor at good prices.
Anyone who has been to Maui and has tasted Azeka's beef ribs will never forget them. Well, Podesto's has its own Hawaiian beef short ribs that are just about as delicious as Azeka's. We served up a bunch to a dozen or so of our friends a few weeks ago, and they loved them. They even took the leftovers with them on their trip back downriver!
If you want to buy enough Hawaii style beef ribs to feed an army, you should remember the phone number I listed above. Podesto's tries try to anticipate demand, but late in the day they almost always run out. So if you are in the market for more than five pounds of the delicious ribs - which is enough to feed 10 - you should call ahead.
Is it worth a trip into Stockton just to shop at Podesto's? It sure is, because it's on par with all the good gourmet markets in the Bay Area.
Alan - The grocery shopping can get pretty dodgy up in the Delta, so we appreciate you be willing to share your Delta secret with us and our tens of thousands of readers.
THANKS FROM EUROPE DINGHY CLASS SAILORS
The local Europe Dinghy Class members would like to thank Latitude for its excellent coverage of the recently held Europe Dinghy World Championships here on San Francisco Bay. How many countries were represented in that photo, anyway? There were more than you thought!
We'd also like to thank the St. Francis YC and its Executive Board for hosting this prestigious event. Most readers probably don't realize that this was actually a two week event, with a World Class Open qualifying regatta held prior to the World Championships. The St. Francis opened their doors to us local sailors - as well as foreign sailors that arrived early - for a week of training prior to Open Week. So the club dedicated their facilities exclusively to the Europe Dinghy Class for a full three weeks. In addition, the club helped in obtaining housing for the 140+ sailors, coaches, parents, and others that wanted to attend. This wasn't an easy task - especially during prime tourist season.
And thanks to all of the people who housed participants, the members of St. Francis who volunteered their time to help organize the regatta, social events and run the race committee. Special thanks to Matt, Theresa, Bill, Joyce, Chris, Joy and all of the other great people that are too numerous to mention. It took each and every one of you to make this a memorable event!
We all thank you!
Lynn Olinger, Tom Alexander,
Leslie Osmera, Sharon Alexander,
Sam Barnes, Erica Mattson,
Carol Haverty, Dana Moore,
Analise Moore, Kim Smith
(The ten USA local 'oldsters', ranging in age from 20 to 51, who qualified for the Worlds.)
Oldsters - On behalf of Latitude, and we're sure the St. Francis YC, you're welcome.
SOLITUDE BY THE BAY?
I'm dropping you guys a line to tell you how much I've enjoyed your rag.
Even though I live near Yosemite, I keep my Islander 34 Viva Manaña in Channel Islands Harbor. I visit my boat as often as I can.
I've always sailed in the Channel Islands area, but I'm considering moving the boat to the Bay Area. Through the years I've read your stories of sailing in Northern California, and it intrigues me. But I don't know if there's as much solitude in your area as there is at the Channel Islands.
Moving the boat to Northern California is a long move and it would be a completely new learning experience. And the challenge of new problems encountered would be interesting. What do you think?
Lee - In lieu of mitigating circumstances, we think sailors should visit as many different places as they possibly can - especially when the scenery and sailing conditions are as different as they are between Southern and Northern California. On several occasions we left boats we owned in various Southern California locales while we lived in Northern California - and we really enjoyed it. And in your case, what's the big difference between commuting between Yosemite and the Channel Islands and Yosemite and places in Northern California?
As such, we suggest you start sailing your boat to Northern California next April or May - but not be in a rush to complete the voyage. If need be, you can temporarily leave your boat in places like Morro Bay, Port San Luis, Monterey, Santa Cruz, and Pillar Point as you slowly work your way north. For those who enjoy solitude and who aren't in a hurry, it can be a very rewarding trip.
Once you get to San Francisco Bay, spend a few months seeing how you like it, the Delta, and places like Drakes and Tomales Bay. It's surprising how many places there are to find solitude in Northern California - if you've got the time.
DRUGS FOR AMEBIC DYSENTERY
Dr. Kent Benedict wrote an article in the September issue about what medical supplies a traveller should carry, and in the article suggested Flagyl for amebic dysentery. Flagyl is a drug made by Searle and, from what I know of it, is rather hard on the body. In addition, it needs to be taken for five to 10 days.
Down here in Mexico they sell Amefine, another Searle drug, that's used for the same purpose as Flagyl. Apparently Amefine is not available in the United States. Amefine is much easier on the human system than Flagyl, and only needs to be taken for one day. Like most drugs in Mexico, Amefin is sold over the counter.
Could Dr. Benedict comment on the reasons Amefin is not available in the United States?
There's yet another drug, Yodoxin, that's available in both the States and Mexico that's also used for amebic dysentery. Yodoxin is even easier on the system than Amefine, but it does need to be taken for 20 days.
Cruisers who feel they can wait until they get to Mexico to fill their medical kit might want to consider the fact that all prescription drugs - except narcotics - are available over the counter down here. You can find them at any farmacia - and at prices much less than charged in the States. If anyone needs a narcotic drug, they're available, too, but only with a prescription. If you have a legitimate need for such a drug, however, a local physician will write the prescription.
Many of the other items Benedict suggests for the medical kit - suture sets, hypodermic syringes and needles, IV fluids and sets, sterile irrigation fluids, and so forth - are all readily available at lower prices here than in the States.
If cruisers have a few days in a port like La Paz, they can even have a spare pair of prescription glasses made at prices cheaper than in the U.S. - assuming, of course, they avoid the expensive designer frames. A prescription is not necessary because an eye exam is part of the whole deal.
Ellis - Here's Benedict's response to your question:
"Most travelers to Mexico and other Central American countries run a low risk of acquiring amebiasis. In fact, less than 1% of all cases of 'traveler's diarrhea' are due to E. histolitica - the protozoal cause of the disease. Using simple water and food precautions is the best way of avoiding it in the first place.
But if you do get sick, the problem becomes one of diagnosis. It's impossible to correctly diagnose amebiasis without laboratory tests, thus you're in a situation where it is necessary to get a physician's evaluation before starting therapy.
There are a number of drugs used to treat amebiasis, but unfortunately no single regimen had proven 100% effective. Metronidazole - Flagyl - when combined with iodoquinol - Yodoxin - remains the standard treatment in most counties of the world. Yodoxin is the drug of choice for asymptomatic carriers of the bug.
The other drug you mention, quinfamide (Amefin), is not available in the United States for a couple of reasons. First, mildly symptomatic disease can be treated affectively with it, but the real problem is that it doesn't treat the full spectrum of the disease as does Flagyl. Secondly - and probably the most significant reason you won't see it in the U.S. anytime soon - is that it is 'off patent'. Translation: no drug company is going to spend the money for FDA clinical trials, testing, application procedures on a drug that most likely will not give an economic return for their efforts. Bottom line: money.
By the way, I agree that getting some prescription drugs over the counter in Mexico remains a viable alternative. You do have to be savvy enough to read the labels to make sure you're getting the medication you want, however, because the trade names are often different. I haven't priced Mexican medicines lately, but in the past you could definitely save money."
IF IT HAD BEEN NIGHTTIME, I'D HAVE LOST MY BOAT
I'm a bit late in writing this, but considering the exodus that' about to begin to Cabo San Lucas and points beyond, it should still be timely.
As I was heading toward San Diego from Cabo San Lucas in the summer of '96, I set up a GPS waypoint about two miles off Punta Santo Tomas - which is a bit south of Bahia de Todos Santos on the Baja California Coast. Fortunately, it was still daylight when I approached dead onto this waypoint - only to discover it was right in the middle of a rocky islet that wasn't noted on my chart. The islet was high and dry, capped by three separate conical rocks, and about the size of a few good-sized city lots. If it had been nighttime, I'd have lost my boat on it!
I was using DMA chart #21140. I ended up sailing midway between the islet and shore, and estimated the islet's position at N 31°32.8, W 116°44.0. My chart was a reproduction, so when I reached the Bay Area I checked a fresh original of #21140. The islet wasn't on that chart either!
I called the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office in Oakland. They said that I should notify the Defense Mapping Agency - and they gave me an address in Fairfax, Virginia for both their Public Relations Office and the Hydrographic Products Office. I wrote them both, and have never heard a thing from either. I don't know if it's true, but I've been told that federal budget cuts have generally curtailed chart corrections by the Defense Mapping Agency.
This islet is especially dangerous for boats hugging the Baja coast, be they northbound or southbound. This is because Punta Santo Tomas is a natural place for a waypoint for boats inbound to or outbound from San Diego. I believe that chart #21140 is frequently used by people making this passage. So watch out you Baja Ha-Ha sailors!
Joe - Thanks for that warning; for all we know, you may help save somebody's boat.
While we're on the subject, first-time cruisers should realize that while GPS is very accurate, the charts on which you plot positions aren't. While we haven't checked the charted locations personally, it's our understanding that most points along the Baja coast are 'off' by anywhere from a quarter to half mile.
The solution is, whenever possible, to give yourself plenty of room for error - errors in charts, errors in calculations on your part, errors in estimating sets, and so forth.
Further, do as the charts usually tell you, and don't rely on just one navigation aid. When navigating, we like to double and triple check our position with as many of the following aids as possible: direct visuals, GPS, DR, depthsounder, radar, Ouija Board - and whatever else is available. If it's dark or foggy, we keep rechecking.
Also remember that the Defense Mapping Agency is primarily concerned with the safety of big ships and significant military targets. They do not lie awake at night worrying that some point away from ship traffic is a little off - or perhaps missing a few rocks. And based on what we've seen, the folks who do cruising guides don't worry that much about inaccuracies, either. All in all, the charts and cruising guides are pretty darn good, but there is no substitute for constant vigilance.
THAT STORMY DECEMBER NIGHT IN CABO
Stephen Lee wrote: "The picture of Clione wrecked on the beach at Cabo San Lucas - page 114 of the September issue - brought back many memories. I'd set Clione's stern anchor when the skipper arrived the day before the 'Great Cabo Storm'."
We - my wife Debby and our cat Cupcake - had arrived in Cabo two weeks before aboard our Hans Christian 38 Que Sera. Not knowing any better - and there being only a couple of cruising boats to offer us guidance - we dropped our bow anchor in 80 feet of water just east of the Hacienda Hotel. This meant two things: 1) That our stern was in about 20 feet of water, and 2) That we were just a short distance from the disco. It wasn't too bad, since we'd generally be asleep by the time the music started blasting across the water.
Flint and Ruth Smith, friends who had down with us, left after five days. By then more cruising boats began to arrive and they were started to anchor in a group about one-third of a mile east of us - and much closer to the beach. Each morning I'd tell Debby that we should top off our fuel and water and then anchor with the other cruising boats. But it's surprising how fast manaña fever sets in, because we kept putting it off. As a result of us not moving - and therefore not ending up in the surf line - ours was the only cruising boat to not suffer any damage from the storm.
Our dinghy, however, was blown away early in the evening at the start of the blow. Not fully realizing what was happening to the other boats, I put a call our on the VHF for someone to try to snag it for us. The response were a couple of 'ha-ha's'. It wasn't until later, after the boats had decided put on their spreader lights and we could see them flopping back and forth wildly on the beach - did we realized the magnitude of the event.
Two days later, we were able to retrieve our dinghy. It had washed ashore far enough from all the other dinghies that the federales hadn't impounded it. Everything was intact, right down to the anchor and the sponge. After two pulls on the starter, it fired right up!
During the storm, a big white ferro-cement boat that had been anchored between us and the shore lost her stern anchor. We first noticed the boat bearing down on us when she was only a couple of feet away, so we cut our stern anchor line - which we'd earlier tied to a fender - and swung out of her path. It was our closest call!
Many years and miles have past since that December night. In March of '86 - more than three years later - we were the cruising boat anchored in Atuona, Hiva Oa - and had been the only boat for over a week. Then a big yellow ferro-cement boat entered the bay. Later, while swapping books and tales of where we'd been, we discovered this was the same boat that had been behind us in Cabo! He'd subsequently painted the hull yellow. Small world.
To fully appreciate the changes in the cruising world, when we returned to the Marquesas in May of '95, there were no less than 41 cruising boats crowded into one anchorage at Nuku Hiva!
We've been close to a couple of other cruising tragedies. The three of us - yes, we and Que Sera are still all together after all these years - arrived in Whangarei, New Zealand, in early November of '95. I'd driven up to the Bay of Islands with Tim and Rhonda Hagarty off the Canadian boat Charissa to pay a call to Keri Keri Radio. When we arrived, Keri Keri's Maureen informed us that there was an emergency in progress: a helicopter had spotted an overturned dinghy on the beach with someone near by it. Keri Keri's John was directing a boat to investigate, so we left shortly thereafter, not wanting to interfere with the operation.
Upon returning to Whangarei, we conveyed a message to Martha Waters aboard Chandelle, who had just arrived in the town basin after a very wet crossing from Tonga. She was to call the local hospital. It had been Judy Sleavin of the Melinda Lee next to the liferaft, and Waters was to spend the next four or five days trying to comfort Judy. We'd met the Sleavin family in Raiatea and had shared a number of anchorages with them.
Our Que Sera was damaged 30 miles east of Brisbane by a merchant ship in the wee hours of June 9, 1997 - despite the fact we'd contacted the ship twice before the incident! We'd been tracking three ships on our radar, and had contacted the closest ship. We wanted to be sure he knew where we were and that we had our spreader lights on. Fifteen minutes later, we contacted the ship again to express our concern regarding his closing distance. The ship responded that he would change course. I put down the mike and returned to the cockpit where Debby was at the where - and saw the ship's bow over her shoulder! Unsure of the extent of the damage to our boat, we issued a Pan call. The ship that hit us didn't even respond!
One of the things I learned from that incident was that I should have turned our strobe light on - as well as our spreaders light. And instead of assuming the merchant ship knew where we were, I should have had them confirm that he had us visually or by radar.
We've also learned to keep our 406 EPIRB in the cockpit. Mike Sleavin had been in the bunk where the Melinda Lee's EPIRB was kept, but after the boat was crushed by the ship, Mike didn't have time to retrieve the EPIRB from its holder. In order to keep our EPIRB from accidentally being activated by moisture, we keep a ZipLoc bag over the top. Our EPIRB nonetheless did get wet in a 65+ knot storm we encountered crossing the Tasman Sea, and even though it was only activated for less than five minutes, the U.S. Coast Guard received the signal. As per procedures, they called my cousin - who'd been listed as the contact. Pretty impressive.
Luckily the damage to our boat wasn't extensive, and after five weeks we left Brisbane and are now in Port Douglas visiting Aussie friends - who we met when they had sailed to the States in '84! We'll return south before the cyclone season and do some land travelling with Cupcake, a cat who enjoys camping, too.
P.S. Our friends, who have a marine electronic business here in Port Douglas, want to know how they can become a distributor of Latitude for all the cruising boats that come through.
Jay and Debby Millman
Marina del Rey / Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Jay & Debby - Terrific letter. There's nothing like the voice of first-hand experience.
As for distributing Latitude in Australia, it's just not possible. Latitude will first get there on the internet.
THERE MUST BE AN ANSWER
I've got a question for Max Ebb - one that I've pondered on many a night watch and over many a sundowner during our Pacific crossing aboard our Cheoy Lee 35 Intuition. You may remember us, we're the dummies that sailed into strife-torn Bougainville looking for diesel a couple of years ago.
My question is simple: Where does the water go at low tide? Before you laugh this question off, consider the following:
1) Guam, a steep-to island - depths are thousands of feet just offshore - has a tidal range of approximately three feet. You can sit on the beach and watch the tide level drop on shore. The water that leaves the beach and goes out through the reef has to go somewhere - because it's not there any more. Six hours later, it comes back through the reef and up the beach. In fact, if you have enough beer in your cooler, you can observe this several times in succession - however the accuracy of your observations will degrade significantly over time!
2) As we all know, tides are caused by the moon - and to a lesser degree the sun. The earth rotates under the moon approximately once a day, which means the force that the moon exerts follows the rotation of the earth. The earth's diameter is approximately 24,000 miles, so this force effectively travels 1,000 miles an hour across the earth's surface.
It's tempting to say that the water follows the moon's gravitational pull, but we've just seen that it can't, because it moves at 1,000 miles an hour - water itself can't move at that speed! So if the water doesn't 'physically' follow the moon, then where does it go?
When I posed the question to a renowned marine biologist, he said he thought the answer must have something to do with water expanding and contracting in a vertical column. The moon's gravitational force, under this theory, would 'pull' the water up for high tide and then release it again for low tide.
But what about Tahiti, which has a high tide every day at about noon? Yes, it's true! And how about Palau, an island 800 miles southwest of Guam, which has a tidal range of five to eight feet. Why is Palau's range so much greater than Guam's?
There must be a reasonable, logical answer out there - but Max Ebb may be the only one who knows it. Can he/she help? P.S. You guys are my last hope. My wife has forbidden me to bring this question up at cocktail parties ever again.
Eric - We've pondered these same questions - especially the one about Tahiti having high tide every day at noon - for years. Unfortunately, we've never gotten around to ask Max about it. But just to do things a little different this time, we're going to throw the 'Where does the water go?' question out to our readership, so someone else may bask in the glory of 'knowing it all'.
Yes, we remember your Changes about sailing into Bougainville, the small but mineral-rich islands 800 miles to the northeast of Papua New Guinea. For the readers who don't know about it, the island has been bloodied by a terrible civil war for the last nine years. The issues are whether the landowners were getting sufficient royalties, and the alleged environmental damage caused by the huge Panguna copper mine.
The good news is that members of the PNG government and rebel forces got together in New Zealand in mid-October and agreed to a truce. We wouldn't sail back to Bougainville just yet, but things are looking more promising than they have in years.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE REST OF US
If Dan Dellinges and Colleen Bathe want to enjoy sailing on Mono Lake, that's fine. But the very last thing they should want is for the population of Los Angeles County to join them on their jet skis. They should think about it - and for the sake of the rest of us, please be good enough to keep quiet about Mono Lake.
As for myself, I'm writing the following letter to Jim Hildinger, Executive Director of the Mono Lake Committee:
"If I were king, the only boating allowed on Mono Lake would be those required for scientific studies. Let me explain! I have been a highly competitive and avid sailor on Lake Tahoe for the past 30 years. My "season" begins in November and ends when the powerboats arrive in May. My very rare appearances on the Lake during the summer months have always been disasters because of the enormous over-crowding, the ever-present smell of outboard engines, and the wakes of power boats and jet skis. It is quite simply a very unpleasant experience during the summer months!
I'm also an active member of the board of directors of the League to Save Lake Tahoe. I quite agree with the editor/publisher of Latitude 38 when he says: ". . . there's something very appealing about being able to enjoy magnificent examples of Nature without having them besmirched by man's synthetic creations. . ."
I strongly urge you to stop public boating on Mono Lake before it gets a foothold and becomes impossible to remove.
Jim - In an overcrowded world such as ours, it's increasingly important that people try to seek a middle ground and allow for divergent interests. While we truly believe that Nature shouldn't always be besmirched, there's also a terrible danger in people with fascist inclinations trying to subdue those who don't share their same interests and desires.
The most obvious recent example is smoking. We don't smoke and we don't think others should have to inhale other people's smoke. On the other hand, it's nothing short of fascist to prevent the owners of some bars from designating their establishments as 'smoking bars' and allowing customers to puff away. Not unless the government doesn't also close down all other health degrading emporiums such as pizza parlors, burger pits, rib joints and liquor stores. And not unless we're going to enforce a strict code of behavior in which people are going to be forced to exercise and eat vegetables until they're able to maintain their ideal weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
The point is, we may not like jet skis, but other people do, so we think they need to be accommodated to some extent. The same with folks who like to sail on mountain lakes. We can see some lakes being off limits - as long as those who enjoy sailing are assured enjoying their pursuits on some other lakes. Until we get control of the population explosion that's going to make life insufferable in not too many decades, everyone is going to have to be a lot more tolerant of divergent interests.
Thanks for the article in the October issue. Errors are:
a) The boat in the photo, Bird #10, is Grey Goose, not Oriole (#11) as noted in the caption.
b) Osprey wasn't stolen. It drifted off its mooring in 1925. Myron Spaulding (age 91), Charlie White (84), James Wyatt (92) and Mrs. Babe Stevens (84) all said so this year. Local press error or legend is fun, but Osprey wasn't stolen.
c) The two Birds listed as 'not built' (#14 and 15) were built near Terminal Island/Wilmington. Their recent owners were invited to our 75th anniversary party at Corinthian YC on October 25.
Please print these corrections in Letters, as we'd like our local press to finally get our history right. I focused on our files and history this crucial year so continued errors so easily checked are dismaying. Yes, we could have called you to check any info added beyond what I submitted, but we all:
a) were redecking Petrel after rescuing it from delirium.
b) racing, tuning our ill outboard motors (so lots of towing)
c) relied on you to do better than previous articles in the Chronicle (1961, 1990) and you usually do.
I've sent two correction articles to WoodenBoat to inject into their commemorative article in 1998 so we aren't embarass-ed about our history in a national publication. We appreciate your efforts and photos anyway.
- Gunnar Kays
(Mavis, Bird #4)
Gunnar - Many thanks for your corrections. Congratulations on the 75th anniversary of your amazing class.
a) The photo in the October Sightings is indeed Grey Goose, owned by Jock MacLean and John Jansheski. Since captions are the last detail to go into Sightings, that error got overlooked in the final proofreading.
b) Okay, Osprey wasn't stolen. If authorities like Myron Spaulding say so, that's good enough for us. Please inform all your members not to perpetuate this untrue story - they were our sources in the first place.
c) Birds #14 and 15 were built? Again, we bow to your research. But you really should tell the good folks at PICYA's Yachting Yearbook, who - for the last seven years - have listed numbers 14 and 15 as "not built, numbers assigned to L.A. area." If we kept such stuff, we could also show you several references we've received from the Bird Boat Class over the years that insist only 24 boats were ever built, despite the fact that sail numbers go to 26. Some of those write-ups also list John Alden as the designer. At least we found and corrected that one before the October story came out.
We try our best to be accurate with everything we print, but at the same time, we don't have the time or manpower to get two or three confirmations for every fact in every story. Particularly in the case of class associations, we have to trust the information we're given.
WE DON'T HAVE TO SLEEP ON THE RAIL
We just got back in the office in Tucson after Linda and I sailed our 78-ft ketch Beowulf back to Los Angeles from New Zealand. Upon arrival, we found that two people had faxed us copies of the August Changes - which featured Hiram Gunn's suspicions about the performance of our boat.
If he Gunn doubts the veracity of our claims, he needs to realize that our position, speed, and heading were automatically reported by the Trimble Sat C modem. Even if we'd wanted, there's no way we could have fudged the figures. As for peak speeds, it's really anchor to anchor is passagemaking that counts.
The Auckland to Raivavai passage can have a lot of upwind work. Linda and I, however, chose to start on the northwesterly shift of a nice low pressure system. We rode it - and the ensuing high pressure ridge - all of the way across. So rather than having wind on the nose, we had it on the beam - or even aft - for the entire trip.
On the way down to New Zealand, we made the passage from Marina del Rey to Nuka Hiva in 12_ days. It was actually kind of a slow passage because five of those days on the wind. We made the return trip in 12 days and 3 hours. In between, we averaged right at 300 miles a day for our passages between the Marquesas and Fiji - fortunately the southeast trades were in good shape for the '95 season. Fiji to New Zealand could have been really fast, but the winds were light and it took us four days and three hours.
But I don't think it's at all fair to compare a fully-crewed race boat with a middle-aged couple on a loaded down, short-rigged cruising boat. After all, we have better food, we don't have to sleep on the rain, and we're warmer and drier. If the breeze comes up, we just pump in three tons of saltwater ballast. In the mean time we are nice and comfy in the pilot house.
When we're off watch, we sleep between clean sheets, and in cold weather we take hot baths. When we get to sailing deep angles in big waves, we don't have to worry about stuffing the bow as our 240 pound Bruce anchor makes a wonderful bow plane. The Bruce's flukes generate all sorts of lift, which keeps the foredeck high and dry.
We also have a sail area advantage in our cockpit plus two foredeck awnings, all of which are flown on warm passages. Our real secret, however, is the inferiority complex of the mizzen mast. Because it's six feet shorter than the main, it's forever trying to catch the forward rig - even flying spinnakers and jibs in the process. The main mast isn't about to let that happen, and the two spars race each other - which really helps our passage times.
I don't know what the racers do about light air, but like most cruisers we turn on our engine. Beowulf has a range of 2,000 miles at 11 knots.
So as you see, it would be fair to compare Beowulf with a sled such as Pyewacket, Cheval, or Victoria. What might be more interesting would be to load three or four tons of cruising gear aboard Pyewacket - so they'd be more comfortable - then dump the rock stars and have her sailed by mature people. Now that would make for an interesting contest.
Steve - "If I were interested in a sailboat that was dependent on an engine to make fast passages," responds Gunn, "I'd get one of those MacGregor 25Xs that motors at 25 knots. And since water ballast is really great at enhancing speed, I'm not really going to be impressed until Beowulf averages 300 miles a day - without a propeller!"
All right, enough of that! If anyone is interested in the effect of water ballast on boat speed - or anything else that has to do with cruising - he/she should get a copy of Steve and Linda's Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia. A monumental book with more than 2,200 subjects and 2,500 photos, the encyclopedia not only has a staggering amount of good information, but it's often very entertaining. If we weren't so impressed by it, we wouldn't tell you that you can order one by calling (800) 421-3819.
WHAT ONE SOLO SAILOR DID
I love Latitude - except the part about the Bay being no place for boats under 18 feet unless accompanied by a chase boat. That's like saying the highway is no place for motorcycles. If I make the proper preparations with regard to the weather and my boat and gear, I think I face less hazards than those with larger boats. My boat, for example, will never burst into flames.
I will have to admit, however, that I'll never he able to do what one solo sailor did for us last August in the northern end of the entrance channel to the Petaluma River. Our Tartan 10 had just run aground on the south side of the channel outbound, and kedging had only got us pointed in the right direction. A small wooden runabout gallantly tried to help us without success. He then went upstream to report our situation to the marina. At the time there was only four feet of water - and the next high tide would be seven hours later - at nearly midnight!
That's when we noticed a 60+ ketch sailing downstream, with a man at the helm alone. Just one glance our way told him everything he needed to know about our situation. After some Three Stooges seamanship on our part, he quickly towed us 70 feet through two feet of mud, at which time we reached the and were released like an undersized trout. I gloss over this man's masterful boathandling and the grace and power of his craft as you have a business to run. Besides, you probably know man; he sails Windwoven out of Tiburon. Now he sails large in our memory.
To make a short story even longer, my boat has never been towed off a mudflat - but I've met absolutely the nicest people while being towed.
Richard C. Arnold
Richard - The way we see it, the only people who should be sailing the Bay on boats under 20 feet without the protection of a mothership are those skippers who are knowledgeable to ignore our advice and opinions.
By the way, we don't know the owner of Windwoven, but we salute both his skills and his willingness to come to the assistance of fellow mariners.
WHEN I LOOKED DOWN I SAW THAT I WAS BLEEDING
Latitude wants to hear from cruisers who've had 'interesting' surf landings with their dinghies? We, Carol and Ken, cruised the coast of California and the west coast of Mexico for six years aboard our Tayana 37 Interlude - and had just such an experience in March of '96 at Tenacatita Bay.
It started one afternoon when Bob and Cynthia from Miss Teak came by to see if we wanted to go to the beach with them. We did. As we approached the reef area, Ken raised the outboard to the 'shallow' position, and slowly continued in looking for rocks. Suddenly, I looked up and saw that we were about to get hit broadside by a large wave! Ken tried to accelerate ahead of the waves, but it was too late.
The wave hit the back and side of the dinghy. I'd been on the leeward side and was 'popped' out. After a second or two, I realized that I felt the dinghy against my thigh and thought that I might be about to be run over! I pulled my legs up and pushed away from the dinghy, doing a somersault in the process. When I stood up, I realized that my leg really hurt. I looked down to see that I was bleeding.
Ken had also been knocked out of the dink after me, but he went off the back and away from the motor. He lost his sunglasses when going over. The amazing thing was that the water was so clear after the wave passed that I could easily see the bottom - and I was able to find his glasses for him. It was then that he realized that I was hurt.
A couple of folks helped us get the dinghy pointed head on into the waves. We then climbed aboard and Ken pulled the cord to started. But surprise, the motor wouldn't go into gear! Ken got the oars out and made tracks for the boat while I did a pressure point on my leg to stop the bleeding at one spot. Another sport was too sore to hold down.
Once we got past the reef, another appeared and towed up to our boat. When we got to Interlude, I was able to climb aboard an get into the cockpit. Ken got some Betadine and poured it over my wounds. I already had an ugly looking bruise on the side of one leg. Then Ken put out a call on the radio for a doctor or nurse in the fleet. Luckily there was a paramedic on a boat very close to ours and he came over with his trauma cases. He poured more Betadine over the wounds and then examined them closely to see if he could see bone. He couldn't, and therefore said he thought that I'd be fine - but it would take time and would hurt like crazy.
He also suggested that I take an antibiotic to prevent infection. I'm so glad he suggested it, because we'd neglected to mention that I'd had a hop replacement. I took 2000 mg of amoxicillin immediately, and then 500 mg twice a day for five days. The paramedic had to come back later in the day to put butterfly bandages over the cuts to get them to stop bleeding. I sure didn't want stitches unless I had to have them - although everyone seemed anxious to practice on me. I had a drink and went to bed with my leg atop four pillows to prevent swelling.
That pretty well describes our experience. We arrived in Puerto Vallarta about two weeks later and had Carol's leg X-rayed. The bone hadn't been hurt. It's 18 months later and you can still see the scars! We're happy we don't have to make any dinghy landings here in Phoenix!
Ken & Carol Pierick
Readers - The first thing Hawaiians teach their children is never to turn their back to the ocean. It's an important lesson.
Outboard motors may seem relatively benign, but they can do terrible damage to human flesh. For the last bunch of years, most outboards have been equipped with devices to clip on to the operators clothes so that the engine will immediately be killed if he or she is thrown overboard. But how many of us use them? Please be careful with outboards in surf folks, real careful!
THE BIG BOAT RULE
The September issue of Latitude carried three letters regarding collisions at sea. That - and letters in other boating publication - indicate a significant level of concern for this important issue.
Your editorial comments perpetuate the myth that small boats should always get out of the way of big boats, whereas COLREGS makes no rule regarding just size. According to COLREGS, size becomes an issue only when it restricts a vessel's ability to maneuver. Under these circumstances vessels are required to display specific shapes or lights.
However, I have come to accept that on the West Coast the media carries more weight than COLREGS. I just hope that drivers of big rigs on California's highways don't hear of the success that big boat owners have had! It seems ironic that you will accept on-the-water conditions that you would find totally unacceptable on the highway.
In common with most small boat operators, I err on the side of caution - and sometimes find myself in the position of a privileged vessel making course changes to avoid a burdened vessel that has closed to a few boat lengths and failed to maneuver away from me. On one occasions such a 'last minute' course change on the open ocean coincided with a maneuver by the other vessel - which was three times the length of my 33-footer - necessitating additional maneuvering by both vessels to avoid a collision.
Unfortunately, the current status of the 'big boat rule' leaves small boat skippers in the uncomfortable and potentially dangerous position of guessing whether a burdened larger vessel will change course or expect the smaller, privileged vessel to give way.
Perhaps, as one of your correspondents suggests, it's time to overhaul COLREGS. One area I'd like to see clarified is the extremely gray area surrounding the relationship between large and small vessels. At what point does size become significant? Is there a minimum distance - in boat lengths - that a burdened vessel may approach before making a maneuver and perhaps a requirement for sound signals to indicate a change of direction in close quarters situations.
John - Apparently we haven't been making ourselves clear, for if we did, you'd realize that there is no conflict between what we're advocating and COLREGS.
Our point has always been this: whenever possible, the skippers of small recreational vessels should, prior to any situation developing with a much larger vessel, get the hell out of the way. When done far enough in advance - and this is the key - it usually only requires a minor change in course or speed. We - and we're sure lots of other small boat skippers - do this all the time without really thinking about it. For one thing, it further removes us from being in a developing situation, and secondly, it gives the captains of large and difficult-to-maneuver ships one less thing to worry about.
What constitutes "prior to a situation developing" depends on size and speed of the vessels involved. If the larger vessel is a ship, we unconsciously begin to think of how we can stay the heck out of his way - and danger - from the very minute we spot him. If we're sailing to weather on port tack and it's bringing us closer to the ship, we'll probably flop onto starboard for a minute or two. That's all it takes.
If the larger vessel is a ferry or something, we'll wait until we're maybe a half mile to mile apart - at which time we'll maneuver in such a way as to make it completely clear to the ferry captain that we're intending to get out of his way. All it takes is heading up or heading down for maybe 60 seconds. The same would be true if we were aboard a 30-footer and the other vessel were a 90-foot sailboat. Sure, we could push our right-of-way, but it would only increase the chances we'd be involved in an unpleasant incident.
Again, the whole key is to maneuver so, so far in advance that nobody ever has to think about COLREGS. Because if the skipper of a small boat on starboard waits until the last minute and then tries to avoid the sailing larger vessel by ducking, he's likely to smack right into the larger vessel on port which, by COLREGS, has had to try to duck the smaller vessel. Disaster!
If you're skippering a small boat and decide that you're going to insist on your right-of-way in the face of other larger vessels, you must: 1) maintain a constant course, 2) monitor the actions of the larger vessel(s), and 3) get ready for a collision that you're certain to lose.
By the way, the analogy between highways and the oceans isn't very good, as highways have marked lanes while the ocean doesn't.
THE FUN RACE TO HAWAII
Here's some clarification on Peggy Redler‰s "Ms. Constructive Criticsim of the Transpac" in October Latitude 38.
Peggy said ". . .West Marine - for the West Marine Pacific Cup. . . have great marketing advantages over traditional yachting organizations. . . professional staffs that have the time and skill to properly promote an event."
Peggy, and many other people, have a misimpression on how and who runs the West Marine Pacific Cup. The race is promoted and managed by the Pacific Cup Yacht Club in partnership with Kaneohe Yacht Club. Over 300 volunteers make the race a reality, writing newsletters, promoting the race among sailors and the press, running seminars, developing and holding great parties and so on. There are no paid staff people, just numerous people who love the ocean, sailboat racing and having fun!
That said, West Marine is a great sponsor. West Marine helps the Pacific Cup financially and provides some marketing services, but most importantly they are an advisor. They have a volunteer representative on the Pacific Cup Yacht Club‰s board that has always been an experienced ocean sailor providing an invaluable perspective and marketing savvy. The West Marine representatives give a lot of their own personal time to the race - think of those Monday night drives from Watsonville to the board meetings in Berkeley when they could be at home with their families. I like to believe it‰s no accident that West Marine's corporate slogan and the Pacific Cup's slogan are similar - "We make boating more fun!" and "The fun race to Hawaii" respectively. They were developed at the same time in the late 1980s and by some of the same people.
The Pacific Cup Yacht Club holds board meetings the second Monday of every month at Berkeley Yacht Club. The board meetings reflect the character of the race and dedication of PCYC members with regular members usually outnumbering board members. All are welcome to attend these board meetings, whether to learn more about the race or to learn what makes the Pacific Cup a success - Transpac Yacht and Vic-Maui race organizers included. The Pacific Cup is not just the fun race. It is also the fun race for everyone - from inexperienced first timers to professionals. The real key to success is striving to be inclusive in all aspects of the race - the opposite of what most people think of yachting and what many yacht races pursue: exclusiveness.
Long Past Commodore PCYC
Now just one of many volunteers having a lot of fun!
WHAT A THRILL!
Over the years, we've eagerly looked forward to picking up the latest Latitude and then reading the Letters and various articles from around the world. We've always been amazed at how you can get the special action photos of boats and people on the water.
But never in my lifetime would I ever think I'd see a photo of our own Fantasy in the pages of Latitude. But there in the September Sightings was a photo our Hunter 375 sailing past Angel Island as the 'Looking Good' boat of the month. What a thrill!
The accompanying caption identifies how important sail trim and lifejackets are on the Bay. This safety training came from the superb classes and instructors at Club Nautique where nobody leaves the dock for a class unless they have their lifejacket on. The motto is, 'PFDs float, people don't.'
But thanks for the photo!
Dick & Ann Niemi
Dick and Ann - One of the biggest kicks we get from publishing Latitude is that we get to surprise a bunch of people each month with an unexpected photo of their boat. Thanks to you for indeed 'Looking Good'.
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© 1997 Latitude38