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Latitude readers may be interested in hearing my first-person account of being the victim of an armed robbery while at anchor off mainland Mexico in February.

After a super 2 1/2 months in Z-town - where Capricorn Cat and I sometimes prowled twice a week, taking a total of about 250 cruisers and non-cruisers on daysails and snorkel trips - we headed north for Puerto Vallarta and the Banderas Bay Regatta. Late on the afternoon of March 1, we anchored with two other boats in the Caleta de Campos anchorage - which is a little village at Bufadero Bluffs, about 70 miles northwest of Zihuatanejo.

At about 0200, I was awakened by a young Mexican standing beside my bed. I was so groggy I said, "Hola sešor, que pasa?" When he mumbled something about wanting my money, I came out of bed with fire in my eyes. He quickly pulled a .45 caliber automatic from his belt and stuck it in my face, saying, "I kill you, I kill you!" That extinguished my fire. He soon pointed out that he had an accomplice holding an AK-47 type rifle - who would also kill us if we didn't give them our money.

We gave the two men all of the money in our wallets, but they wouldn't believe that was all we had. So they harassed us for about 30 more minutes while they searched for more money. After deciding that was all we had, they stole away in the night as quietly as they had arrived.

We lost about 4,000 pesos - less than $500 U.S. - a camera and my good binoculars. I guess all four of us aboard Capricorn Cat felt lucky to have not been injured. We were all so shook-up, however, that we immediately alerted the other boats in the anchorage and departed for Manzanillo. I reported the armed robbery to the Port Captain, giving him a full account. When I asked if he wanted to get the Federales involved, he didn't seem too interested.

For the next couple of days I couldn't help but feel as though I wanted to kill, but I've recovered. I think such robberies are very rare indeed; in fact, it's the first armed robbery of a cruising boat in Mexico that I know of. I certainly don't think this incident should keep anyone from cruising to Mexico or getting to know the wonderful people. After sailing to Hawaii and back to San Francisco, I'll be joining Baja Ha-Ha V in October to return to Mexico.

One thing about my catamaran is that she has big steps up the transom that make boarding too easy. So I'm definitely going to look into some kind of motion detector alarm system. I feel that if I had been alerted and turned on lights and made noise, the robbers very likely would have fled. When it was all over, all four of us victims felt pretty sure they never had any intention of physically harming any of us. In fact, we're not even sure they had bullets in their weapons.

We're looking forward to seeing all our wonderful friends in Mexico again come November!

Blair Grinoles
Capricorn Cat, Custom 45
Vallejo / La Paz

Readers - The above is the captain's version of an incident we reported last month - a clarification we want to make so nobody gets a distorted view of the amount of crime against cruisers in Mexico. Unfortunately, it's getting a little difficult to distort the amount of crime in Mexico, which is in the midst of what even Mexican authorities are calling "a general crime wave". It's so bad that the one of Mexico City's biggest daily newspapers decried the situation with a headline one-third page tall that read: "Horrible".

According to an April 25 Associated Press story, no fewer than eight Americans have been murdered in Mexico during the last four months. The most recent was Vermont artist Carol Jayne Schlosberg, who was raped and then drowned March 29 on the beach near Puerto Escondido - the one in southern Mexico, not Baja.

Maria del Pilar Hiroishi, Secretray of Tourism for the Mexico City Legislature, reported that crime against tourists - both foreign and American - has doubled in the first few months of this year. An average of 20 tourists a day are attacked in Mexico City, four of them Americans. The real figure is probably much higher, as many crimes go unreported.

The number of attacks, assaults, robberies, rapes and murders has gotten so bad that many Mexican officials are concerned that potential tourists will be scared away - which, of course, they will. The American embassy in Mexico City recommends that tourists use caution by not hailing taxis on the street, knowing where you're going, and travelling in groups.

For what it's worth, Latitude's new charterboat will be spending much of next winter in Mexico, and while crime will be a concern of ours, it will not be a major one - unless there's a surge in crime along the coast.


In the March Letters I read with horror the duplication of an incident we experienced a year ago February with a group of cruisers from Z-town.

A group of us cruisers chartered a bus for a day trip to Playa Troncones. After a great palapa style lunch on the beach, three of us women walked up the beach and around a cove to look at tidal pools. Suddenly, two young men wearing bandanas and carrying machetes charged out of the jungle brush toward us, whooping and hollering.

One of the women managed to escape, but the two closest to the boys were attacked with the machetes as the boys attempting to cut away the fanny pack worn by Diana of Sweet Dreams. I rushed to her aid, but was thrown to the ground and struck by a machete. They boys got the fanny pack and then ran off into the jungle. As it turned out, we were more stunned and shocked than hurt.

We reported the incident to the police and word quickly got around to cruisers. We later learned that Playa Troncones was considered dangerous by locals. Nonetheless, we certainly didn't wear fanny packs again or wander away by ourselves.

Unfortunately, incidents such as this happen as much in San Francisco, Denver, Chicago or any other big American city. We just made the mistake of letting our guard down.

Nancy White
Audrey Lane, Valiant 40
Currently in Mazatlan


I don't know if the Wanderer remembers me, but I first met him in Mexico in the late '70s while cruising Radiant, my Cascade 42. I'm now based out of both Mulegé and Chula Vista. I have an RV, Marine, Computer and Electronic store in Muleg, and when back in California I work on my 150 web pages for Baja. People can check them out at <http://mulege.com.mx>

I drive to Mulegé on about the 27th of every month with about 80 Orbit and Direct TV Guides and other merchandise for my clients in Mulegé and Loreto. I'd be happy to take Latitudes down, too. I drive back about the 8th of each month. I don't do this in the hot summer months, though.

While on my friend Earl's page, I came across Latitude's request for reports of robbery and other crimes in Mexico. I want to respond to them. It's true there is some crime in Baja because of the difficult economic situation, but most of it is either falsely reported or blown out of proportion. This is what happened when the locals took control of the Hotel Serenidad here in Mulegé, and as a result I had to do a lot to straighten out the reporting of the situation.

It's the same now as a result of the November murder of two American fishermen at 'San Quintin' on the Pacific side of Baja. The fishermen were actually murdered between San Quintin and Cataviša, an area that's been a trouble spot for many years. For as long as I can remember, my Mexican friends in Ensenada have instructed me to drive through from El Rosario to Cataviša and never stop for anybody on the road.

I now have the official internet information site for the Mulegé County and soon will have it for San Quintin and south as well. My Mexico web site is the only one I know that covers all of Baja.

Jens D. Kolbowski
Chula Vista / Mulegé

Jens - Sure we remember you from 20 years ago in Puerto Escondido, La Paz and Cabo. Everything was new to us and you were an 'old hand' even back then. We're glad to hear you're in good health and doing well. Your web site for Baja has lots of excellent information.


Recent letters regarding the ability to survive an ocean crossing drinking saltwater raise questions that are not new. During World War II, medical investigators studied this question since it was imperative to estimate the minimal amount of water and food an aviator in a life raft needed for survival. These data were published after the war by Dr. James L. Gamble, a pediatrician at Harvard (Physiologic Information Gained from Studies on the Life Raft Ration). The basic principles of body fluid volume and electrolyte composition regulation had been under study by renal physiologists and medical scientists - including Dr. Gamble - since the 1920s. (My own mentor, the late Dr. Jack Metcoff of Chicago, had been a student of Gamble at Children's Medical Center in Boston during the 1940's.)

The upshot of these studies is that it is not possible to survive a long passage with the sole source of fluid intake being salt water. Moreover, sea water is more than 'salt water'. It also contains significant quantities of magnesium and calcium. However, from the standpoint of maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance, and avoiding dehydration, it is the 'salt' that is significant.

Gamble and his colleagues showed that sea water is more concentrated, in terms of osmotic pressure, than our body fluids. The concentration of sodium in sea water - about 420 milliequivalents per liter, or 9.7 grams of sodium per liter - is about three-fold greater than the sodium concentration in blood. The ingestion of such a concentrated solution inevitably and predictably leads to dehydration. This is shown by the following considerations:

Typically, an average-sized adult needs to drink, at a bare minimum, 1000 ml (one liter) of water per day to avoid dehydration. This assumes that under conditions of restricted availability of fresh water the healthy kidney is able to produce a concentrated urine, attaining a maximum concentration four-fold greater than that of blood. The above assumption (1000 ml per day) assumes that 'insensible water loss' - i.e., the direct volatilization of water 'vapor' through the skin surface and off the moist lining of the respiratory tract in exhaled air with each breath - is baseline. Insensible water loss does not include sweat, which is a 'sensible' - or directly quantifiable - dissipation of body water.

Under climatic conditions of hot sun and exposed skin surface, as might occur at sea in tropical latitudes, the amount of body water dissipated as insensible loss increases further - up to 10 times according to Gamble's data. Taken together, the sum of insensible water loss and normal urine volume - required for excretion of waste products of metabolism - is about 1250 ml per day. To maintain body fluid balance, a healthy person would have to drink 1250 ml per day. It would also be necessary to have a level of carbohydrate and calorie intake to minimize tissue breakdown. If sufficient calories and carbohydrates are not provided in the diet, tissue protein breakdown occurs, increasing the load of waste products - and the renal water requirement - that must be excreted by the kidney.

Given all the above, it is possible to calculate that if 1,250 ml of sea water were substituted for pure water each day, the excretion of the large salt load would produce a daily urine volume of 950 ml per day - up from the bare minimum of 250 or 300 ml per day, which is a bare minimum under conditions of extreme fluid deprivation. A more realistic minimum is 300-600 ml per day. The total fluid output - ignoring increased loss of fluid that is likely to occur as diarrhea after ingestion of sea water and also ignoring, given certain climatic conditions, increased fluid and sodium losses consequent to sweating - is the sum of baseline insensible water loss (1000 ml) and urine (950 ml). The net daily balance is a negative 700 ml per day (1250 ml in; 1950 ml out).

Life-threatening dehydration occurs when there has been a 10% loss of body fluid volume. Since 1000 ml of fluid is approximately equivalent to one kilogram, an average adult weighing 70 kg (154 lbs), given a daily negative balance of 700 ml, would sustain 10% dehydration - and 10% loss of body weight - after about 10 days. This would be accompanied by symptoms of lethargy, mental lassitude, low blood pressure, and impaired 'crisis thinking'. Further loss of weight, by only a few more percent, would lead to shock.

In addition to the dehydrating effect of sea water consumption, the blood sodium level increases proportionately so that after 10 days there is significant hypernatremia. This causes 'shrinkage' of the brain, further impairing mental status and compromising survival. If this situation is further aggravated by inadequate calorie and carbohydrate intake - at least 100 grams of carbohydrate per day are needed for its 'sparing' effect on minimizing tissue protein breakdown - then the condition of the outcast is further compromised.

If half of the daily fluid requirement were met by fresh water and half by sea water, then the time to 10% dehydration would be doubled to about 20 days. The survivor would have to hope that he is at least within 20 days of landfall - and that there is a bar on the beach. Or else pray that he can have a daily deluge such as the kind recently inflicted during February on San Francisco by El Niño. Or else tow a barge of Gatoraid, which is really a sweat-replacement fluid (and which was devised by a nephrologist, Dr. Cade). How Gatoraid might affect survival is a separate calculation.

What would happen if the outcast had the presence of mind to seal his lips shut with duct tape - as Garrison Keillor would advise - and vowed not to drink sea water or any water at all? Unlike the desert kangaroo rat, which can survive without access to water by means of metabolic water production, humans do not produce enough metabolic water - only about 250 ml per day - to survive for very long. This amount is just enough to balance the bare minimum of urine output. The ongoing loss of insensible water - not taking into account sweating - would result in a daily negative fluid balance of 1000 ml. Ten per cent dehydration would occur in only seven days.

The evolutionary biology of the kidney, culminating in its current form and physiology in land-based mammals, is a fascinating story unto itself and about which I could write pages. See From Fish to Philosopher by Homer W. Smith (published around 1950 and surely out of print). James Gamble referred to the kidney as "the organ par excellence of evolution" as it facilitated the adaptation of marine life to terrestrial life. The kidney has a unique anatomical adaptation to concentrate urine to an osmotic pressure higher than that of blood referred to as the 'countercurrent multiplier'.

According to the evolutionary scheme, the subset of Homo sapiens usually found around sailboats, Homo sapiens marinus, are specifically adapted to be on the water, but not in the water.

Ronald J. Kallen, M.D.
Waukegan Harbor, Illinois

Readers - We phoned Dr. Kallen to find out exactly what happens when a body doesn't get enough water:

"For the kidney filter function to remain normal," he responded, "you have to have a certain blood flow from the heart. By the way, about 25% of all blood from the heart - a disproportionate amount - goes to the kidneys. Drinking seawater leads to dehydration, less blood flow to the kidneys, and eventually kidney failure. When a kidney fails, it shuts down in the manner of a plug having been put in a bathtub: nothing gets out. A person then can't get rid of waste products - such as potassium, too much of which will eventually stop the heart. Increased blood sodium levels also have an adverse effect on brain function."

What about the 'fish juice' that Bombard said he drank in conjunction with sea water? "It has the same sodium content as blood," says Dr. Kallen, "which means Bombard wasn't getting any 'free water' by drinking it.

What would Dr. Kallen do if he found himself with nothing to drink but sea water? "I wouldn't drink it for as long as I could."


You know the west end of Coast Guard Island in the Oakland Estuary? Just outside of the main channel that goes around it - and less then 50 yards from a channel marker - is an old ship's boiler that sticks about six feet above the rest of the muddy bottom. That old boiler sure 'ketches' a lot of novice boaters and - even old time boaters as well. I know because the office for my small dive service is right across from the boiler and I get to see people crash into it all the time.

But there's the rub. On several occasions I have approached the Army Corps of Engineers to point out the hazard. I always get the same old government runaround: "We don't have time for it today, we'll get it next time," they tell me. Another time they asked me, "How much does it weigh?" - as though I had any idea. The last time I approached the Corps, they said, "Well, we have to ask our boss."

Since the government wasn't going to remove the boiler, last summer I put a big orange cone on a stick to call attention to the hazard. It worked very well - until somebody decided to take it down. They told me not enough people were crashing into it. That's when I started bugging the Army Corps of Engineer Boat - the one with the crane that cruises up and down the Estuary picking up debris. We'll see what happens.

Michael Clark
San Leandro


I'm sure everyone read the stories in last month's daily papers about a proposed 'quadrimaran' ferry that would rush commuters and others at 60 knots on scheduled runs between Petaluma and San Francisco. Last Tuesday we saw an endorsement of the concept of increasing various transbay ferry services by the mayors of our three largest cities. Also on Tuesday, we saw a Chronicle editorial in the same vein titled Putting the Bay to Work - which referred to the proposed Petaluma-San Francisco venture.

Before the Richmond bridge was built, I used to commute on the old Richmond-San Rafael ferry with pleasure - and for 65 cents for both me and the car. That was a slow boat. When the Bay Bridge broke in '89, many folks (re)discovered the enjoyment of a regular boat ride. Tuesday's mayoral and editorial sentiments are beyond reproach - but 60 knots(!) on the Bay - let alone the Petaluma River?!?

I sail an ancient Knarr which normally doesn't use a motor, and have been becalmed on the east side of Angel Island many times during the last 30 years. If that happens again, how am I supposed to get out of the way of a 60-knot ferry? For that matter, few powerboats would be able to get out of the way of a quadrimaran traveling at such speeds. I guess the saving grace would be - I assume, at least - that such a ferryboat would be light, and therefore wouldn't create an enormous amount of momentum.

Assuming that this sort of progress can't be stopped, perhaps Latitude could publish ferry schedules each month. There are many owners of fine old wood boats - such as Birds, IODs, Folkboats, and Bears, as well as owners of fiberglass boats such as Cal 20s, Santana 22s, Ranger 23s, and J/24s who normally don't hang outboards off their sterns. If all this 'freeway-on-the-Bay' business comes to pass, we would surely like to know what to expect and where and when to expect it.

Sherman Gromme
Palo Alto

Sherman - If you read the articles and editorials in the daily papers, you couldn't help but get the impression that 70 mph ferries might be dashing down the Petaluma River and all around the Bay as early as the end of summer. Baloney! Read this month's Sightings to find out why not.


Several marine suppliers sell low wattage portable anchor lights that are automatically controlled - meaning they come on automatically at dusk and shut off at dawn. Some of the cruising publications have even printed diagrams of circuits so boatowners could build their own, and there has been at least one cruiser who has built them in Mexico and 'traded' for them. Most gringo boaters in Mexican waters refer to these little lights as 'Dick Lights' after the fellow who made and supplied most of them.

These lights come in various wattages; some are dim and some are virtually invisible. Most boaters also hang them in the rigging - which causes another problem. As the boat swings, various parts of the pulpits and rigging block the light in certain directions, making the lights truly invisible.

The reason cruisers started using Dick Lights, of course, is because they don't drain the batteries as much as regular masthead anchor lights. And, it's nice that you don't have to remember to turn them on or off.

We had one of these type lights for a year or so - until we were faced with a situation in which we saw how inadequate they can be. In order to avoid a severe lightning storm at 0300, we ducked into the Mazatlan harbor anchorage. As we entered the harbor, the rain ruined visibility. We got into the anchorage before there was much wind and searched for a place to drop the hook. It looked like the anchorage was empty - until a flash of lightning revealed that it was crowded with about 25 boats! A number of them had low voltage Dick Light-type lights that were indistinguishable from the lights of the city. In fact, the only time we could see them was between rain squalls.

As it turned out, we were able to find a place to anchor - but we've been reevaluating the wisdom of the Dick Lights ever since. Now we're using our masthead light and a device to sense daylight or darkness. This system uses a few more amps, but provides us with a better night's sleep.

Jim & Gail Wilkins

Jim & Gail - We're not sure if there's anything inherently wrong with 'Dick Light'-style anchorage lights that limits wattage, but we do know that a poorly illuminated boat - at sea or at anchor - is a danger.

We've entered ports all over the world at night, and even in the best of circumstances have found it very difficult to see other boats. And when there have been background lights, rain, or intermittent lightning, the problem was much worse. It's for times like these they made radar.

In order to 'anchor defensively' we make a point of always leaving two bright lights on. The first is the anchor light atop the mast. This allows you to be seen from a distance, but is absolutely no help to another skipper motoring through the anchorage. If he sees this light at all, he's going to assume it's a star. So we always leave a bright light on in the salon, too, which is about eye-level for skippers of other boats. If you don't do this in crowded harbors in the Caribbean, you're sure to be rammed in the middle of the night.

Saving a few watts in crowded anchorages is false economy.


Since I live in Auburn and work in Truckee, I really enjoy being able to read your great rag online. I was wondering if the people placing Classy Classifieds are aware that they are getting 'double coverage', and therefore might want to include e-mail addresses.

By the way, I read a lot about how slow twin-keel sailboats are. As the owner of an English-built twin-keeler, I think the greater stability far offsets the small loss in speed. Furthermore, when the wind really picks up and other skippers are having to ease sheets or reduce sail, who is going slower?

Greg Halliday

Greg - The benefit of a twin-keel boat is that they can rest on the bottom when the tide goes out - which is one of the reasons why they are so popular in England, a place where the tide always seems to be going out. There is nothing inherent in the designs of old-style twin-keel boats to make them stiffer or able to sail faster under reduced sail.


We just got back from transiting the Panama Canal as line handlers extraordinaire aboard Randy and C.J.'s Norseman 40 Royal Venture (Baha Ha-Ha I). It was a great experience all the way around, from class act Panamanian advisors working their way up the scale to a night to remember on Lake Gatun.

There is, as might be expected, much talk and grumbling about the new $1,500 flat fee for small craft transits of the Canal - along with talk of alternatives such as modified Travelifts doing the same job. At present Panama is under drought conditions. With Lake Gatun three feet below normal levels, large vessel draft is now restricted to 39 feet rather than the usual 42 feet.

By chance we had a meal at the airport with a 77-year-old American man who is an active senior Canal Pilot with more than 40 years experience. His opinion is that the fee hike is to test the waters - and if it doesn't fly, it will be drastically reduced.

We learned one interesting tidbit to throw into the debate/equation. When small craft are behind large ships locking up, the large ships have to keep engine rpms down. As a result, this pilot estimated that it takes 10 more minutes per lock. This translates into fewer ship transits per day and a significant financial loss for the Canal.

Finally, this senior pilot had no doubt that the Panamanians would run the Canal efficiently and well when they take over in 2000.

David McCullough's The Path Between the Seas (Touchstone 1977) offers a fantastic history of the Canal. Reading it made our Canal transit more enjoyable.

Randy and C.J. are headed to Isla Providencia - we left them in the San Blas Islands - and then up the Rio Dulce to leave the boat for the summer season.

Al & Sandy Fricke
Meridian Passage, Valiant 40
Northern California

Al & Sandy - That senior Canal Pilot you spoke with knew what he was talking about. As a result of a big stink about proposed $1,500 flat transit fee, the Panama Canal Commission backed way off. The new fee structure means that boats under 50 feet - the vast majority of cruising boats - will be able to transit for just $500.

Fun fact: When John Guzzwell took his 20-foot Trekka through the Canal many years ago, the fee was $2.15.


I'm currently in Panama at a mooring in front of the Balboa YC. Rumors about the transit fees going up have been running rampant in this area. While attending 'happy hour' at the club I had a conversation with one of the local ex-pats at the bar - which is where, I'm sure, you get most of your hot tips, too. He turned out to be one of the officials on the Panama Canal Commission, and he told me they'd decided on the following fee schedule:

Small vessels up to and including 50 feet will pay a transit fee of $500; 51 to 80 feet will pay $750; 81 to 100 feet will pay $1,000; and over 100 feet will pay $1,500. This is in addition to the one-time admeasurement fee. The new fees will go into effect on June 1, 1998.

The original plan was to raise the fee to a flat rate of $1,500 per small vessel, but the Commission got several letters of complaint from cruisers - and owners of local boats that normally like to fish on the Pacific side but also like to transit the Canal frequently so they can have fun on the Caribbean side, too. Many of the owners of these latter vessels are influential business and political leaders.

I transited the Canal last week aboard Sound Waves, an Irwin 41. The fees were $400 for the one-time admeasurement and $90 for the transit fee. This was based on an admeasurement of 51 - because it included the bowsprit and davits. Since we did no permanent damage to the Canal during our passage, $100 will be returned.

Even with the new higher fees, it seems to me that the cost of transiting the Canal is a real bargain. Our price included the cost of a very professional advisor onboard, four line-handlers on land who helped the rafting of three boats through the locks, and millions and millions of gallons of fresh water that had to be used to operate the locks. There's also the cost of building, maintaining and administering this tremendous facility.

By the way, we locked through with the car carrier Don Diego. Their transit fee was in excess of $100,000!

I'm leaving Balboa this afternoon on Sound Waves for Costa Rica and eventually her new home in San Diego.

Bobbi Coggins

Crew Babe - It can get hard to hear in the Balboa YC during happy hour, which is how we suspect you got it wrong about the admeasurement fee. It's to be included as part of the new transit fees.

Since you're really getting around to see the world, what do you think of the 'after dark' girls who hang around the Balboa 'yacht club'. You don't find that kind of action at many other yacht clubs, do you?


I'm searching for information on 1965-69 Ericson designs by Carl Alberg, so I'm wondering how many years you've been publishing. Is there any sane way to search a publication's past reviews or stories? I'm looking for that one brochure, that one article, or that one old guy or gal who remembers everything or who can led me to that one gem of information about those boats.

Ken Brink

Ken - We've been publishing since '77, by which time Bruce King was designing everything from the Ericson 23 to the Ericson 46. If we remember correctly, Ericson had built a small number of 30 and 35 footers designed by Alberg. We have no idea where you'd get more information on those boats.


My husband and I have been travelling on our Tayana 37 ever since we left Santa Cruz nearly six years ago. Our yacht is now for sale, as it has taken longer than expected to get where we are - and we need to get back to the 'real world'. We're not sure why, really, but it just seems like the right thing to do.

Anyway, we've met many sailors in our travels who have become lasting friends. Unfortunately, it's often difficult to keep track of those friends - which is where we're hoping you can help out. While in Cairns, Australia, we met Kirk McGeorge, owner and captain of the Islander 38 Polly Brooks. Since we've been without a steady supply of Latitudes, we haven't been able to keep up with him. The last time we read about him was a Changes in the January '98 issue when he reported he was in Guam. We're trying to reach him for a possible delivery of our yacht to potential buyers in Saipan. Could you please go back through your back issues and find his address? If you could even just find the name of the marina where he and Polly Brooks are, we could try calling him there.

I've tried to get information about any marinas in Guam via the internet, but haven't been successful. Can you help?

Amy Bishop-Cox
Default Judgement, Tayana 37
Sebana Cove Marina, Johor, Malaysia

Amy - We can't keep track of everybody's address, but try calling the Marianas YC in Guam. If he's there, somebody will know. Unfortunately, we're not sure how good the phone service is as they're still recovering from December's supertyphoon Paka.


I just read the article about the loss of the Islander 40 Dos Lobos on the South Bar just outside the Gate. I'm trying to learn about ocean sailing and this event has me worried.

What actually caused this event? Latitude's report says, "They saw the first wave coming and steered into it, but it picked up the boat and turned it sideways." What caused this? Was there something the crew could have done to prevent it from happening? If you were out there, would you have: 1) Hoved to; 2) Put out a storm anchor; 3) Put out a drogue; 4) Dragged warps; or 5) Done something I don't know about.

I'm not trying to get anybody to second guess what the crew did, but I would like to find out how to prevent something like that from happening to me - as I hope to join the Ha-Ha next year.

Mike Geer
Michalla, Pearson Ariel

Mike - There are really two parts to your 'what could they have done' question. The one thing the crew could have done that almost certainly would have saved Dos Lobos was to have not sailed her across the shallow South Bar. We've lost count of the number of boats and lives that have been lost in the last 22 years as the result of transits of the Potato Patch and/or South Bar - particularly between late October and early April. Time and again gigantic waves - often several miles offshore - have appeared out of nowhere to crush, splinter or roll boats. There's no more deadly hazard on the Northern California coast than a big winter swell and the shallow water of the bars to the north and south of the shipping channel. You either stay in deep water or you run the very real risk of becoming the next victim. And don't be fooled by a flood tide!

Once faced with a breaking wave or series of waves, the best thing a crew can do is keep the boat from being hit on the beam. This either means running with the breaking wave - which in the case of Dos Lobos, probably couldn't have been done quickly enough, and in any event would have had them headed toward rather than away from more trouble. Or, a crew can do what the crew of Dos Lobos apparently tried to do - which was head up and punch through the wave.

Trying to punch a 40-foot sailboat through a wave - particularly the large and queerly distorted waves so common on the South Bar - is almost impossible. And once a boat has violently been tossed beam-on to breaking seas, she's totally at the mercy of succeeding waves, and her crew will almost certainly be in no position to come to her aid. So we suspect that by the time Dos Lobos was in the breaking waves of the South Bar, no drogue, warps, storm anchor or sailing technique could possibly have saved her.

The lesson of the loss of Dos Lobos is to stay away from shallow water - particularly during periods of large swells. We don't need any more memorial regattas name after sailors who've gotten caught in there.


My brother, Capt. Ray Kytle of the Fortman Marina-based Seascape, informed me that the general advice in our liferaft instruction manual was: "Keep your spirits up!" It was followed by a more specific recommendation: "1) Do not drink your own urine."

This inspired me to ponder other survival advice that perhaps should have also been included:

2) Do not drink anyone else's urine either.

3) Just ignore the vomit and shit floating in the bottom of the raft.

4) Fish eyeballs are a good source of protein.

5) Some cultures consider seagull guts to be gourmet treats.

6) Do not even think of eating your deceased crewmember.

11) Lose the ukulele - no matter how well you play.

12) Remember to think positive. After all, you're not half-dead, you're half-alive!

Kay E. Huff
Santa Rosa

Kay - Your recommendations were coming in pretty heavy, so we hope you understand why we dropped numbers 7 through 10. By the way, the most important thing in a liferaft survival manual would be instructions on how to turn on the 406 EPIRB - something that would eliminate the need for this type of gallows humor.


You might be interested in a copy of this letter to my esteemed shipmates:

Upon setting out on our voyage, we must understand that we could be set upon by circumstances that might compromise our survival: the survival storm, the errant wave, a bump in the night, a playful whale crushing our boat, and so forth. We could find ourselves short of those things that sustain us, such as water, proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins - not always easily obtained from the sea and the sky that envelop us.

When I die, my mind, consciousness and spirit are gone from my physical body and I leave an inert corporeal thing that is no longer of value to me. Nevertheless, in some survival circumstances, this thing may well be of use to you.

On contemplating that I could die amongst you, do I hope you would slip my remains into the deep blue waters to feed the fish, to give them a transient, tiny morsel of little consequence to the whole of their existence? No! I value you, my friends, more than I do the fish. My protein, my carbohydrates, my water, and my fats and vitamins might make the difference between your survival and ultimate demise. Thus, should we encounter dire circumstances resulting in my death, and should such need arise, I free you to use, with clear conscience, my flesh and bones to your best purposes. You, too, must value your lives more than you do those of the fishes and, as necessary, employ the means I have here legitimized for you, to help you live.

Your Happy, Far Out, Captain
The Crab Nebula

Mr. Crab - And what a generous offer you've made of your "thing"! While we're sure the crew of your proposed voyage are scrambling around for recipes for 'long pig' - such as Sweet & Sour Skipper with rice, Curried Captain with artichoke hearts, and Broasted Admiral with au gratin potatoes - to fulfill your last wishes, may we suggest that you render this activity superfluous by buying and carrying a 406 EPIRB. This is the '90s, for God's sake, and therefore it's completely irresponsible for a mariner to die of thirst or hunger. Besides, using your body for food makes about as much sense as using $1,000 bills to light cigars. Upon death, donate your body parts properly, that way they'll mean life to others, not just a meal.


I'm responding to the controversy about whether the body of water should be called the Gulf of California or the Sea of Cortez. No matter what it's called on the American charts, the waters are Mexican, and from the outset they called it Mar de Cortes. So that's the correct name.

I edit scientific papers in English down here and try not to allow the place names to be translated into English. The names were given in Spanish by the Spanish and the Mexicans, and also a few by the French. We use the names as they were given. Some names do not translate easily, as 'the peace' for La Paz. We can also differentiate between Ensenada de La Paz and Bahia de La Paz - something not as easily done in English. But for scientific reasons we do want to differentiate.

Finally, it always sounds better not to mix the languages in a name. For example, Laguna San Ignacio sounds better than San Ignacio Lagoon.

Ellis Glazier
Centro de Investigaciones Biologicas
La Paz, Baja

Ellis - If the Spanish and Mexicans called it the Sea of Cortez - or Cortes - then that's what we'll call it.

But we've got to disagree with you about mixing Spanish and American name/words. We prefer Laguna Beach to Lagoon Beach, for example, and think El Segundo Beach sounds more interesting than The Second Beach.


I've been following the 'teak deck' letters with interest, because for the past 25 years I've spent summers either in marine industries or caring for teak decks. Since our teak surfaces in Seattle suffer indignities that California teak surfaces are only now beginning to appreciate, I'd like to shed some 'northern light' on the situation.

The most common complaints regarding varnished teak trim are the broken surfaces at joints where railings come together. What people don't understand is that moisture enters the joint from the under side, wicking up under the varnish. When temperatures drop, the moisture freezes, causing a bubbling and breaking of the varnish. When the sun comes back out - for Seattle, that means June - the moisture evaporates, leaving a white raised spot under the varnish. The only thing you can do is sand down the area and build up coats of varnish again. It helps to caulk the joint under, around, and over. Sealing the wood prior to new coats also helps.

As for decks, my favorite appearances are natural gray and oiled - although I don't recommend either. I used to oil with a combination of tung, linseed and turpentine, which creates a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, pollution and dirt are trapped by oils, which necessitates frequent harsh stripping. Such stripping causes the gummy residue, which ties the grain together, to go away, therefore 'raising' the grain and causing sanding - which really shortens the life of teak. Algae growth on teak causes much the same problem.

One could just varnish teak decks. Unfortunately, this creates a slippery surface that seals the wood and beads water. And that's only the tip of the raindrop. The real problem is that oils and varnish-based products negate your deck seam product warranty! So let's go back to the beginning.

Allowing decks to go gray allows dirt/pollution to enter the grain, which requires stripping with chemicals at least every two years. Now that we've stripped the teak, it's a beautiful golden color. Within the next four weeks, the natural oils rise and are bleached by the sun, causing the cycle to begin again. Water sealers bead water, and void the warranty of deck caulk supplies. The only answer I've come across is All-Guard, a water-based UV inhibitor that allows water to enter and leave the wood. . . no problem with nonskid, warranty of caulks, or gathering of dirt in grain of wood. The only downside I can find, after several years of use are the original prep of the wood, (since so many products today carry silicone, i.e. oils, paints, etc.). Silicone products create a real mess at re-application time. Try them and see. . . blotchy. And they can't be recoated with something else, because the usual harsh chemicals won't strip them. Silicones must wear off. The other problem is All-Guard does wear off. . . traffic patterns can cause this. You have to recoat about every 6 months, with a coat or two (after 3-4 original coats) but they blend in.

In summary, everybody is looking for a magic, no work required, bullet that doesn't exist. There aren't any perfect answers. And often the real problem lies in what's actually under the teak deck itself. We've helped many boat owners cure those problems. They take all the teak off, repair the underlayers, add epoxy, re-bed, then re-apply the teak. I think you get the picture. Survey the deck before you buy the boat.

Chris Sutton
Doc Freeman's

Readers - That does it, we've run all the letters we're going to run on teak decks.


While shopping for our first boat a couple of months ago (with the intention of taking off cruising in three years), we wrote Latitude for comments about teak decks. Yes, we're the ones who started it all.

We've been amazed at all the responses with all the excellent - and sometimes conflicting - information. We had three fundamental questions: 1) Were the decks going to create too much heat - both to touch and inside the cabin? 2) Were the decks going to promote leaks? 3) How much more work than fiberglass were they going to require?

We knew that teak decks would be more work than fiberglass, but since one of my other hobbies is refinishing furniture, we weren't sure about combining sailing and woodworking. I don't think that we got a clear answer for this question, but it certainly helps that I enjoy working with wood.

As for heat, the consensus seems to be that the teak works as an added layer of insulation, and in most cases keeps the inside of the boat cooler. Some people said that teak decks are cooler to touch, although I still find that hard to believe.

The leak issue seems to be a function of the method used to apply the teak and how well the teak is then maintained. I am certainly oversimplifying all of the input provided by everyone, but these are basically the answers we got.

Anyway, we decided to buy a Centurion 47 - and she has teak everywhere. She's an '85 model and has been 'yard maintained', so her decks as well as everything else is in excellent condition. The teak decks have a Cetol finish with Sikaflex 241 caulking.

We bought the boat in Connecticut, where she has been pulled out of the water every year and stored inside. It will be interesting to see how the deck holds up in the Bay. We will continue with the Cetol finish for now just to see how it will hold up. Some folks say that it tends to get slick when wet, but only if you're barefootin' it.

Thanks for providing an excellent forum for great sailing and a place to exchange information. Thanks also for providing a barometer for a balanced life. If we can't get through the next issue by the end of the month, we know that things are out of whack!

Joe Brandt and Jacque Martin
Marna Lynn, Centurion 47
Northern California

Joe and Jacque - Congratulations on your new boat, but this time we're really serious, no more letters about teak decks. Really. We mean it, this time we're not kidding.


For those Latitude readers about to buy a boat and thinking of taking it to Ensenada for 90 days to avoid paying California sales tax, the important things to remember are to follow all the steps carefully and keep lots of written documentation.

But once you get the boat to Ensenada, how do you visit it? The straightforward way is to fly to San Diego and rent a car. But if you stay with the boat for several days, the car rental plus Mexican insurance can get expensive. An alternative drill we've found takes about three hours from the San Diego Airport, which is a little longer than if you take a rental car. But when you return to the States, you avoid the huge traffic jams at the border. Besides, you don't need a car in Ensenada as the taxis work fine and the local bus system is fun and cheap.

In any event, here's the seven-step way we've been doing it:

1) Take a taxi from Lindberg Field to the San Diego Trolley American Plaza Station. Cost: $8.00

2) Take the Blue Train to the San Ysidro/Tijuana border. Cost: $2.00 each.

3) At San Ysidro, walk around the front of the trolley and take the Tijuana dollar bus into town - but get off just after the border crossing at the Yellow Cab lot. Cost: $1/person.

4) Walk through the Yellow Cab lot and across the street to the ABC bus station. If you are hauling a lot of stuff, let one of the men with shopping carts help you for $2 or $3 U.S. They really appreciate the business.

5) Take the ABC bus to Ensenada. These buses are well maintained and relatively clean. The buses leave every half-hour during midday and hourly during off hours. Cost: $11.00 per round trip.

6) Get off at the first station in Ensenada. Just across the street is a clean and well stocked Gigante Super Market where you can pick up any provisions you might need for your stay on the boat. Take a taxi to your marina. Cost: $5.00.

7) For the return trip, just do everything in reverse - except walk across the border instead of taking the dollar bus.

Total cost for a couple is about $50 U.S.

Brent & Susan Lowe
Walnut Creek

Brent & Susan - This is how screwed up we are: Knowing full well that legions of lawyers - including the First Lady before she moved into the White House - are paid small fortunes to show corporations and wealthy people how to legally avoid taxes, we still feel a little guilty that Latitude's new charterboat doesn't 'qualify' for California sales tax because we took offshore delivery and cruised her outside of the country for five months. On second thought, maybe we shouldn't feel so guilty, because if all goes as planned, she'll hardly ever be in the state.

By the way, it's our understanding that Marina Coral is at maximum capacity - mostly from boats that were recently purchased from Californians by Californians. A combination of excellent facilities and lack of alternatives means tenants are willing to pay premium prices for berthing.


I know you good people are busy putting out that excellent magazine, but I'd greatly appreciate any opinion on two items:

1) In preparation for a bareboat charter in Raiatea in June, I've been able to find very little online or even in hardcopy. A shipmate xeroxed some pages from Best Sailing Spots In The World, but any additional information from you would be very helpful. I'm talking about both sailing directions and touristy stuff.

2) Now that sunblock seems discredited, I wonder if the sailing cognoscenti are using the cream that chemically tans the skin - in addition to shading one's skin, of course.

Jeff Wiegand

Jeff - To answer your questions in reverse order, we suggest you continue to use sunblock. Even the people who conducted the study that seemed to indicate sunblock doesn't prevent skin cancer believe there may have been several significant factors that badly skewed the results. We hate the way the stuff feels on our skin, but it's best to continue to have someone you love rub it in.

The reason you're not finding much online and in print about Raiatea is that there isn't all that much there. Although the largest of the Leeward Islands, it's smaller than San Francisco. And while the administrative capital of the Leeward Islands is Raiatea's Uturoa, this 'big city' is actually a sleepy village of just 2,800. Even though Uturoa is the second largest city in Polynesia after Papeete, it has only a single hotel with just 10 rooms. Tahaa, the sister island that shares the same lagoon with Raiatea, has a population of 3,800. Both Raiatea and Tahaa are off the tourist track because they aren't known for great beaches.

So if you're looking for crowds, action and nightlife, Raiatea is going to disappoint you. But if you're interested in tranquility, unspoiled tropical beauty, beautiful reefs and passes, fine ocean sailing, and interesting locals, you'll be happy with the Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora Bora, Huahine group. Even though the Wanderer spent his most unpleasant honeymoon ever in this part of the Society Islands, he's dying to return.

As for Raiatea specifically, it's the cultural, religious and historic center of the Society Islands. In addition to being home to the largest and most important marae in French Polynesia, it was also the center for the great polynesian migratory voyages and home of the Oro cult. Furthermore, it's the best place from which to watch the sun set over Bora Bora - truly a spectacular sight.

You're never going to find a whole lot of information about Raiatea, we suggest the following sources: 1) The Lonely Planet Travel Survival Guide to Tahiti and French Polynesia. (No matter where you go in the world, you should always get the appropriate Lonely Planet or Moon publication for that area.) 2) Brochures from the various charter companies that operate out of Raiatea - which is the yachting center of French Polynesia. 2) A well-stocked marine bookstore. 3) Online at <http://tahiti-explorer.com/> Check out the wild dancing to the pounding of drums on the home page.

We've also printed your e-mail address so other Raiatea vets might pass on suggestions.


I have the Cal 39 Dawn's Light on Raiatea and have cruised all the Tahitian Islands in the area. Folks visiting with their own boats or going on charters need to be aware that the hose bib on the dock at Raiatea does not put out potable water. If you do a charter, they'll probably fill the water tanks from the hose bib and tell you to use it for dishes and showers, or to boil it before you use it for cooking. They will also provide bottled water for drinking. In any case, you sure don't want to drink the water straight from the tank.

On the other hand, there is potable water available from the more northerly hose bibs on the docks of Huahine, at Moorings on Raiatea, and at other locations.

My last bit of advice is to put insect repellent on before taking the jungle trip up the river at Faaroa Bay on Raiatea. You don't want to get Dengue Fever.

I hope I haven't scared anyone away from these great charter and cruising grounds. If anyone is looking for further information on Raiatea, they can contact me at: alronnhill@aol.com.

Ronn Hill
Dawn's Light, Cal 39
Tiburon / Raiatea


My Golden Rod brand cabin dehumidifiers can't keep up! As a result, my work clothes smell moldy. Clorox and water damage brightwork and fabric, so what can I use to wipe this stuff off on a daily/weekly basis?

Is it true that one can breathe in mold spores that can cause lung infections? Also, can mildew damage electronic and navigation equipment? Help!

Molding Away In The South Bay

Lucy - We're not qualified to comment on either moldy clothes or lung infections, but maybe we can get some help from our readers.


The Newport 30 pictured in page 119 of the March issue demonstrates the lengths to which skippers of older 'racer-cruisers' will go in order to keep up with those hot new 'sportboats' with willowy spaghetti for masts.

The legendary Newport 30 masts are so strong that they've 'hopped' out of the cabin-top step, dropped over the side - but remained as straight as ever so after being retrieved they could be re-stepped.

It's even rumored that two of them laid across an El Niño crevasse could support a fleet of HumVees on their way to rescue flood victims.

So, if the mast won't bend, why not bend the sail? That's my explanation for the photo. You'll see more of this technique as the Newport 30 fleet powers its way back to the top of the 30 footers. We call it the Untrim-Wiley revenge!

Pat Broderick
Newport 30,
Sausalito / Santa Rosa

Pat - You won't want to hear this, but we'd feel negligent if we didn't at least mention it. The last Newport 30 we know that made the long bash to the Caribbean was quite a bit worse for the wear upon arrival, and her owner wasn't devastated by the fact the next hurricane completely did her in. We're not suggesting that you don't make the trip with the Newport, just that you an eye out for any excessive strain on the rigging, working of the bulkheads and such.


In regards to your reporting of heart attacks, the risk of heart attack and death can be reduced if people at risk would carry nitroglycerin tablets. These tablets can be purchased over-the-counter in Canada and Mexico, but require a prescription in the United States.

Robert Clement

Robert - We appreciate your efforts to be helpful, but we prefer that people get their medical advice from a trained specialist rather than a sailing magazine.


When I moved to San Francisco about 18 years ago, my only sailing experience had been aboard a 14-foot sloop. Since San Francisco was reputed to be one of the best places in the country to sail, I decided I'd learn how to sail a real boat.

Soon I discovered Latitude, with all the letters and stories about cruising. So when my partner, Bob Conrad, and I bought our first boat in '87, a Cal 39, it was also with cruising in mind. In '95, after two retirements and many dollars, I bought out Conrad's share, headed out the Gate, and turned to port. Almost exactly two years later, we arrived at Key West - having visited every country along the way except for El Salvador.

I want to thank Latitude for providing the inspiration and information - and most recently, putting me in touch with my First Mate, Angela Konig - to enable us to reach this particular buoy on the voyage of a lifetime.

I also want to thank the folks at Svendsen's, most especially Joe Davis, who helped me ready the boat. Also to the staff of West Marine in Oakland, who did a good job of relieving me of all the cash that would have otherwise weighed down my boat. Seriously, West Marine's service and products are most valued. Our appreciation also extends to J. P. Boatworks and Hogin Sails for rigging our inner forestay - does this make us a cutter? Or cutter-rigged sloop? - without which we could not have handled the occasional heavy weather so handily.

For those interested, some of the high spots of the journey were, in chronological order: exploring the Sea of Cortez, especially Isla San Francisco; helping build a Habitat for Humanity-like home at Chacala; walking among the blue-footed boobies on Isla Isabella; the unspoiled islands of northern Panama near Dave and Sharon Simpson's Cabašas Parida; discovering that Panama City is a modern, vital city full of hotels, banks and restaurants; transiting the Canal; meeting the Kuna Indians on the reef-strewn San Blas Islands of Panama; snorkeling and diving at Roatan's west end; and relaxing on the Rio Dulce between visits to the Mayan ruins at Tikal. The comraderie among the cruisers from San Diego to Key West is an experience not to be missed. The further you travel from the U.S., the thinner the fleet - but the stronger and deeper the bonds.

The biggest surprise of the trip? While we were in La Paz, we found ourselves docked near Bill and Barbara Steagall of Inspiration - whom I hadn't seen or talked to in over 30 years, back when we were active in sports car rallies in New Jersey.

After dropping more money in the fantastic marine markets of Ft. Lauderdale in order to carry out postponed maintenance and upgrade Ariadne, and after wintering in the Bahamas, we plan to continue up the East Coast.

But thanks again to Latitude for inspiration. Had it not been for you, we'd probably still be sailing the confines of the Bay.

Roger Bohl
Ariadne, Cal 39
Passing through Ft. Lauderdale


I'm sorry to hear the Wanderer is having to do a second round of flagyl. I hope he's eating lots of yogurt because that stuff kills everything in your system, no matter if it's good or bad.

Next time the Wanderer comes to Mexico, he should get some Bactrim and start taking it before he leaves the States. He probably won't catch anything then.

I used Bactrim on my first trip to Mexico in '90, and I still use it each time I travel from the mainland to Baja or vice versa. As it was explained to me, Bactrim helps your system deal with the bacteria common to particular areas. My method was to take a half tablet the day before I reached port, a half the day I arrived, and a half the following day. This three-day dose has worked well for me, as I've never gotten contracted any of those nasty diseases - despite that fact I eat at all the street corner taco stands and palapas.

Bactrim is a sulfa drug, so people need to make sure they're not allergic to it. It's much cheaper in Mexico, so maybe somebody can send the Wanderer a care package.

Suzy O'Keefe
California / Mexico / South Pacific / Southeast Asia


Having read Suzy O'Keefe's recommendations (above) on how to deal with 'traveller's diarrhea', I have no serious problems with it. Bactrim's ability to prevent the malady is quite well known. The recommended dose is one 500 mg tablet daily. Any less tends to select for resistant bacteria. Newer drugs such as Ciprofloxacin are more effective in areas of high risk.

The use of broad spectrum antibiotics is controversial, however, as bacterial resistance is occurring at an alarming rate throughout the world. The 'superbugs' it seems to be producing are becoming resistant to absolutely everything! For this and other reasons, many experts in travel medicine are not recommending antibiotics for prevention.

Finally, recent studies show that relief of diarrhea within a few hours can be obtained if a single high dose of antibiotic is taken immediately after the onset of symptoms. If the disease persists more than a few days after treatment, then a complete workup for bacterial and parasitic pathogens is mandatory.

The best advice I can give: 1) Be careful out there! 2) "The world has rapidly become much more vulnerable to the eruption and, most critically, to the widespread and even global spread of both new and old infectious diseases" - a quote from Jonathan M. Mann, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Epidemiology and International Health, Harvard School of Public Health (From the preface to The Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett, 1994).

Carpe Noctum.
Kent Benedict
Northern California

Readers - Dr. Benedict is a veteran of the Ha-Ha and had a part in writing the book Where There Is No Doctor. We wish we knew precisely what he meant by saying, "Be careful out there." Does it mean not to eat at street food stalls? To avoid salads? Or not to breath the feces-infested dusty air of Mexico?


Kudos to Latitude and Dr. Benedict on your outstanding article on immersion hypothermia. It's a gentle reminder about why it is so important to wear your PFD.

Another point to remember is that even when you're wet - not immersed - heat loss increases by 15 times. So even if the conditions at the dock seem real pleasant, don't forget to take your foulies when going out for a sail.

Most sailing schools teach MOB recovery, but don't talk much about what to do after you get the victim out of the water. The Pegasus Project has put together a lecture - with slides! - entitled Hypothermia: Facts and Fiction. We're happy to present this to any organization for free. Call us at (510) 697-9296 or e-mail: MarkC66647@aol.com.

Mark Caplin
Safety Officer,
Northern California


We were part of the '97 Baja Ha-Ha. It was a great trip with experiences - good and bad - that we'll never forget.

Actually, all the bad experiences were our own fault as we immediately turned around and headed back to the States. The first attempt got us as far as Magdalena Bay where we sat in 40-knot winds for three days listening to the Mexican Navy and our Coast Guard make rescues about 60 miles to the north of us. Our crew then decided that if this is how the weather was going to be, he didn't have time to go all the way to San Diego. Sooooo, we had to go all the way back to Cabo to put him on a plane.

Just outside of Cabo, our transmission went out. It took a week for the new transmission to arrive from Canada. Having not yet acquired the cruising attitude of simply relaxing and enjoying yourselves when things happen beyond your control, we made plans to fly back to the States to check in on our business and to let our son make an appearance back at school. This is the part of the story where we learned a lesson that may be helpful to other Mexican cruisers who need to fly between the U.S. and Mexico with a minor.

We bought our round-trip air tickets in Mexico. Steve was to fly back to Mexico with the transmission two days before our son and I. When the day came for Collin and me to fly to Mexico, we packed our bags with food - it was two days before Thanksgiving and I wasn't going to take a chance of not having our traditional meal, so I brought the fixings with me - and headed to the airport early. As I reached the counter and handed the lady our tickets, she asked for our letter. What letter?

"The notarized letter from his father giving permission for you to take him out of the country," the woman replied.

So I explained that his father was already in Mexico waiting for us, and in fact had flown out on the same airline two days before. I also said that he was on a boat and there was no way to get a letter from him quickly, much less a notarized letter.

While the woman went to consult with her supervisor, I started biting my nails. But there was no way they were going to deny me, as my story was perfectly plausible and besides, it was two days before Thanksgiving. They surely wouldn't keep us apart on Thanksgiving!

Well, soon I was politely informed that there was no way they would allow me to take my son out of the country without his father's permission. "It's the law," she said.

At that point I completely and utterly broke down. I sobbed that they couldn't do this to our family, that we had no way of knowing the law, and how could we have known? I was told that our travel agent should have told us - but we'd bought the tickets in Mexico, and it wasn't their law!

I was feeling so out of control - which I hate - I started thinking that this cruising business was for the birds, and what had we gotten ourselves into. Then another lady from behind the counter pulled me aside and told me that I could go to a notary - there happened to be one at the airport - and tell her my story. If she believed me and I signed a statement, they would allow me to take my son and go. We did and the notary did, which allowed us to have a family Thanksgiving together in Bahia Santa Maria - just one day late.

This time on the way back we didn't push it, stopped at some really nice anchorages, and made it back to San Diego safely and with plenty of stories to tell.

Steve, Eileen and Collin Price
San Diego

Steve, Eileen & Collin - The same thing happened to the mother of the Wanderer's children the first time she and the kids flew down to meet him on the boat in Mexico. After she broke down in tears, a woman came from behind the counter came out and suggested she get in another line and tell the new counter lady that the kids' father was dead. It worked.


A Special-Ed teacher once told me that Macs are for R-brained and PCs for L-brained. What I say is there are enough hemispheres to go around, so we'll take our half. Local Knowledge, our software program, is for the L-brained - and with a little extra help, for the R-brained, too. Since Mac users can install SoftWindows or Virtual PC, they can do anything we can do, too.

We read about the "tidy little program" for Mac users in your March Sightings. To complement this, we'd like to draw your attention to our Local Knowledge program, which displays current vectors everywhere on an electronic chart of San Francisco Bay. This program of real time currents and navigation can be viewed on the new St. Francis YC website that is scheduled to be up and running by April 10.

What makes Local Knowledge unique is its ability to reflect current changes resulting from variables such as El Niño. With Local Knowledge the user can add NOAA sensor data. What's that? NOAA has telephone relayed recordings under each bridge rimming the bay. This data can be entered into the program, which will automatically update predictions to accurately portray real time currents.

For example, during the Corinthian Midwinters there was a considerable change in the shape of the tidal curve, with the ebb peaking much earlier than tidebooks predicted. Thanks to the invitation of Latitude's Racing Editor Rob Moore, Local Knowledge gladly provided pictorial timepoints for that race.

Since the introduction of Local Knowledge last year, many navigational tools have been added. Now the software can integrate data from GPS and other instruments to utilize actual boat data in planning laylines and courses. This has expanded its use to include sailboat racers, predicted log racers, recreational cruisers, and commercial shippers, too. Last month Local Knowledge was invited as a third party developer to appear at the Governor's Commission ('Ports') meeting to help decide the future of NOAA sensors.

We especially want to thank Latitude's Moore for referring county officials from as far as San Jose to help predict the time and heights of the tides during the recent storms. We were able to anticipate that the tides would be up to 2.5 feet higher than expected. The uses of Local Knowledge continue to expand. Most recently Gary Jobson of ESPN called to collaborate on current predictions for future telecasts.

Latitude 'goes where the wind blows'; Local Knowledge goes where the current flows. It now covers not only San Francisco Bay up through San Pablo to Benicia, but also Puget Sound and the San Juans. Soon it will go east to the Chesapeake, Long Island Sound and Newport. Check the St. Francis website (www.stfyc.com) for free actual data.

David Brayshaw
Local Knowledge


We recently bought a 1986 Freedom and have been surprised at how many Freedoms yachts appear to be in the Bay Area. Having been in contact with several other owners via e-mail, there seems to be interest in getting together, at least informally, similar to the 'All Islander Day' events they used to have on the Bay.

This letter is to request for all Freedom owners to feel free to write, fax, or e-mail me so that a register of Freedom owners and boats can be developed. A cruise or get-together at a marina or Angel Island are possibilities. Other ideas are certainly appreciated.

I can be reached at 12 Admiralty Place, Redwood City, CA 94065, or 650-572-0361 days, or 650-594-1045 evenings, or 650-345-5941 fax, or e-mail at: neum@juno.com.

Denis Neumann
Redwood City

Freedom owners - One-design cruising events are usually great successes - and often increase the value of your type of boat.


I've owned my Cal 40 Willow Wind since '91 and in that time have run across the good, bad, and the ugly in marine suppliers and workers. Rather than list all the bad, I would rather concentrate on the good - while also mentioning that too frequently 'sales and service' usually means little more than 'sales'.

A couple of years ago, in preparation for the 49th Ensenada Race, my Furuno GP 50 GPS stopped working. The local sales and service outfit here in San Diego said the reason the unit no longer worked was because the State of California had switched its clock to Daylight Savings Time and I had neglected to change the clock on my GPS.

I might be a girl, but I'm not that stupid. The scary thing is that this person at the authorized Furuno dealer actually believed that was the reason my GPS no longer calculated position, speed, distance to a waypoint and so forth!

After being frustrated by other local authorized dealers - who wanted to charge me as much to repair my unit as a new unit would cost - I contacted Furuno directly in San Francisco. To make a long story short, they fixed it for me free even though the unit was no longer under warranty! Furuno stood by their equipment.

More recently I noticed that my Trace Engineering Solar Power Regulator no longer 'clicked' on and off. It turned out that the relay unit had broken, not allowing the solar energy through the regulator to my batteries. I called Trace to tell them about the problem. Although the unit was no longer under warranty, the Trace people asked me to send it to them. It was fixed and sent back to me at no charge. Trace Engineering also stands by their equipment.

I know there are other companies that go out of their way to please customers, but I can't tell you how delighted I am by the response of Furuno and Trace. If I ever need a product that's manufactured by one of these companies, I'll look for their brands first.

Wendy Siegal
San Diego

Wendy - Go girl, go!


Reader Ray Durkee asked, "What does a green flare on the water signify?"

In two words, a surfacing submarine.

Many years ago, when airplanes flew low and slow, I was a navigator in the Air Force. Late one night, while droning across the Pacific above a low overcast between Guam and Wake Island, we saw a green flare arc up out of the overcast and then fall back in. No one on the flight deck knew what it meant, so I noted our time and position.

Upon arrival at Wake, I asked more knowledgeable people what the green flare meant. I was told not to worry, that there were fired from underwater by submarines about to surface as a "watch out, here I come, ready or not" courtesy.

A little esoteric, but still a good thing for a cruising sailor to know.

Bob Counts

Readers - In case anyone didn't know, Counts singlehanded Sanderling, his 24-foot Golden Gate, to Singlehanded TransPac honors back in 1980. While the 18 day, seven hour elapsed time was the slowest winning time ever, Counts beat 37 other boats in the largest Singlehanded TransPac fleet ever.


I'm planning on trucking my documented sailboat to San Francisco Bay from the Gulf Coast. Are there any property or boating taxes in California that I should be aware of? I tried California's various web sites for taxes but couldn't find anything.

I am looking forward to sailing on the Bay you write so much about.

Russ Cooper
Gulf Coast

Russ - As long as your boat is more than 90 days old, you won't be assessed any form of sales tax. You will, however, be assessed personal property tax by the assessor of the county in which you keep your boat. The rate is 1% of the boat's assessed value, and you can haggle over what she's worth.

If you plan on taking off on a long cruise in the relatively near future, you may want to be selective about the county in which you keep your boat. 'Bad' assessors claim that you'll still owe personal property tax when you and your boat leave the country. 'Good' assessors agree that you don't owe anything if you can document the fact that your boat was out of the country for more than six months a year.


Too bad the 'bugs' are still with the Wanderer.

I had a giardiasis infection when I returned from Nepal in 1989, and although stool samples eventually showed clear - even with the 'flush the system' test - my symptoms never completely went away. Some of the symptoms were personally not fun and others were socially unacceptable - if you know what I mean.

At the time I was being treated by a gastrointestinal specialist who had a good reputation but was very conservative. Convinced I still had some 'critters', I did my own research. It turned out that I had a secondary helicobacter infection, which is bacterial. While the infection doesn't respond to Flagyl, it does respond to antibiotic cocktails. Camphylobacter and crptosporidium are other common bacterial infections which won't show up in simple tests for parasites.

If you know the type of infection you have, you can easily search MedLine on the web at http://www.infotrieve.com/freemedline/.

This is a truly astonishing database of millions of research papers. Because of the advent of the net, you don't have to go to Stanford Medical School to pour through abstracts like I did. The abstracts are very easy to find and read on the net. Just punch in 'giardia' or whatever, and 'treatment'. Select a few years, pick 'English' and 'Humans', and you'll find terrific research from Egypt, Bangladesh, India - and other places where this stuff is a real problem.

As I discovered, Albendazole is an alternative treatment for metronidazole-resistant giardia.

As a result of my infection, I developed a permanent lactose intolerance. Lactaid 100 milk is fine and sometimes I can eat cheese or ice cream and be all right. Other times, however, I can produce enough gas to light a city the size of Sausalito.

Good luck in finding a cure. I bet you're going to have to do the research yourself.

Tim Dick

Tim - Thanks for the suggestions. The Wanderer is pleased to report that thanks to a diet heavy in cabernets and vinegar, he's pretty much back on solid ground - if you know what he means.


I don't know if you can help me, but I've been trying to contact an old work buddy who retired several years ago on one of the boats he built and hoped to sail around the world. He's James 'Jim' Foley, who was one of the first hot dog surfers of the Santa Cruz area, and who worked for and designed many a surfboard for Jack O'Neill.

When Jim and I were working together, he tried to get me interested in sailing but I was too damn busy with lots of other meaningless things. Four years ago I bought my own boat and having been sailing since - including a couple of jaunts a year to the Caribbean. I love it! Now I realize that I should have listened to Foley years ago.

Anyway, I'd love to find out where Foley is now so I can thank him. His boat's name is Dana is she's based out of Santa Cruz.

Steve Souza

Steve - Having gotten into surfing in Santa Cruz in the early '60s, we'd heard of Foley many times before we bumped into him and Linda Moore aboard Dana in Tonga in the early '90s. Dana is based on a Santa Cruz 40 hull - with four feet cut off the back so she'd fit into the Santa Cruz berth Foley had at the time. She was customized in a style you'd expect of Foley, and not only carried a quiver of surf and sailboards for he and Moore, but also an aquarium.

About a year ago they were cruising Kenya - and loving it.


As Jen and I prepare our Newport 30 Mk III Shooter for an extended cruise this fall from the Bay Area to the Caribbean, we find Latitude to be both a bible of valuable information and a guide to gear and services. To my surprise however I recently discovered another benefit of your indispensable sailing rag.

After over a week of sleepless nights, it became painfully obvious that it was time for new V-berth cushions. But because of all the other major outfitting items we needed - radar, watermaker, CQR - it was pretty far down the list. One night, however, I slipped into bed and found it to be surprisingly comfortable. I asked Jen what had changed and she said, "Thank Latitude." With that, I fell asleep.

The next morning I awoke refreshed and went to search recent issues of Latitude to find out why you should be thanked - but I couldn't find any of the magazines. When I asked where all the Latitudes had gone, she replied, "You've been sleeping on them." Sure enough, a look under the cushions revealed my inventory of past magazines, solving two problems - our backs and storage.

As far as I'm concerned, the thicker your great magazine is, the better!

Jeff and Jen Tatlock
Newport 30,
Mountain View


Dennis Evans wrote in asking who to call about a warranty dispute on his boat. According to a BOAT/U.S. article about boat and equipment recalls, the Coast Guard maintains a defect notification/recall list. The number is 800-368-5647. I hope this helps.

Thanks for the great rag - although it's getting heavier with age.

D. J. Boyle
Anne II

D.J. - That Coast Guard number is, if we understand correctly, for a defect made on a whole series of boats while Evan's problem was of a more individual nature. But we may be wrong. And there's little to be lost in making a toll free call.


Just a couple of clarifications. Although I never met the late Arlo Nish - who built Saga, the Wylie 65 we now own - it's my understanding that did a circumnavigation aboard Sonic. Based on his experiences, he had Wylie design Saga for a second trip around.

Alas, Saga's famous 'vodka tank' is no longer for this world. It's slated for use for another regulated product - human waste. Although we like our fun as much as the next crew, there is no way we can possibly imagine procuring - or consuming - 60 gallons of vodka. Besides, how long would that take to pour through the deck fill?

The electric 'cook pit' is also on its way out. We used it all last summer in the Northwest, getting the power from a massive 4,000-watt inverter. While it worked like a charm in the Northwest where light winds mean you have to power all the time - and therefore charge the batteries frequently - we don't think it would work in parts of the world where there is more wind. Thus we're outfitting with a new stove.

As we go through the refit process, we run into more and more people who have Arlo stories or who remember Saga as she was being built. We are the beneficiaries of the incredible work that Arlo and Wylie did to bring the boat from drawing board to reality.

Among the many other interesting design ideas you may not be aware of are: the integral 'crutches' that allow the boat to dry out without external support; the stainless steel gunwales and deck shelf; and a hydraulic fisherman's anchor winch mounted belowdecks 15 feet from the stem with 200 feet of chain and 400 feet of wire rode. Cool.

We'll see you sailing south this fall.

Matt and Polly Stone,
Kaleb 9, Hayden 5, Adalaide 3, Heather McGuire
and Armado the Portuguese water dog
Saga, Wylie 65

Matt, et al. - Here's the thinking behind the vodka tank: the last time we were in French Polynesia, a small bottle of vodka cost about $40. So if you fill your tank with good stuff from Costco, you may be looking at a savings of close to $2,000. And if you didn't drink that much yourself, it would be a profitable little smuggling operation.


After reading Max Ebb's Racing Sailors' Definitions in the March issue, I was sufficiently immersed in sailing jargon to tell my wife, when we went to bed, that I was "coming alongside to raft up."

William Anderson


This is our way of saying 'thank you' to some very special - yet anonymous - people.

Prevailing commercialism in America makes it difficult to believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. We're convinced, however, the Easter Bunny is alive and well here in the Bay Area. After a blustery night at anchor in Clipper Cove, we were greeted at dawn with bright sunshine, a gentle breeze - and an Easter Basket in the cockpit!

We hope the spirit of Easter paid a visit to everyone else's boat, too.

Carl & Leslie Kirsch
Charisma, Tayana 37

Carl & Leslie - If we're not mistaken, that's what is called a 'random act of kindness'. Good on the perpetrator of this tradition.


On the afternoon of Saturday, April 10, we found ourselves anchored - after messing around with our new staysail and jib furling system in the North Bay - at Paradise Cay. Just before starting dinner, however, we became concerned about the weather, as the wind had started to blow pretty hard. This is nothing new at Paradise Cay, but this time it was coming out of the north. After it had blown 20 knots for an hour and wasn't showing any signs of letting up, it was getting pretty rough in there. So we decided to weigh anchor and head for Clipper Cove, between Yerba Buena and Treasure Island.

We arrived at Clipper Cove just as the sun was setting. After lowering the hook and securing the boat, we fixed dinner and turned in.

We woke early on Easter Sunday morning to enjoy our morning coffee. Looking out the companionway confirmed that it was going to be a beautiful day. But what was this? Sitting right there in our cockpit was a pretty little Easter Basket containing a couple of Easter eggs, chocolate malt eggs, chocolates and candy. We rushed into the cockpit to see if we could spot the perpetrator, but nobody was in sight.

Who could have quietly rowed around the anchorage in the early morning placing Easter Baskets in the cockpits of anchored boats? Was a child responsible? Or maybe an adult? Whoever it was, this wonderful surprise renews our faith in mankind. Each day we hear what bad things humans do to one another, so it's great to be able to share somebody's wonderfully kind act with Latitude and your readers. It sure made our day.

Chuck and Chris Woods
Oriana (The red boat)
Northern California


The letter about catching lobsters with explosives or with a bleach solution - and your high dudgeon over being taken in by the scam - is vintage Latitude 38. Many thanks for brightening my day.

Ethelbert Nevin II
Blue Hill, ME

Ethelbert - We're still pissed - and if you read this month's Sightings you'll know why. The illegal massacre of fish and coral reefs is all too real to joke about.


Imagine my shock of recognition when I saw my boat on page 136 of the March issue. Of course, a 'Looking Good' caption would have been my first choice, but recognition that we can get our crew back aboard Moore 24s is nice too.

In answer to your captioned question, the "guy," Ann, was indeed wearing a PFD, an Extrasport kayaking model, popular among dinghy sailors. She was wearing it underneath her foulie top.

Since I've been racing, I always make sure that all my crew is properly buoyant. That probably has to do with starting racing in Lasers.

I don't know if this exposure will make it harder or easier to get crew. At least we've proved in print that we can recover our crew, but we've also proved that people fall off boats.

Thanks for my 30 days of fame.

Fred Cox
Free Fall, Moore 24 #27


I was browsing old Latitude issues when I came across the September 1997 Letters. If anyone wants to know what Robin Lee Graham has been up to since sailing Dove around the world, they might want to check out his second book, Sailor Home From The Sea. We stumbled across it in the library and found it to be very enlightening.

I imagine that Graham is still up in Kalispell, Montana. It just so happens that my family is renting a land yacht the first week of August to go to my cousin's wedding in Somers on Flathead Lake - just a few miles from Kalispell. Graham's a contractor, I'm a general contractor . . . who knows, maybe I'll have an update for you by the end of summer.

Somewhere out there is a 36-foot yawl that draws just 18 inches when her retractable keel is up. Can anyone tell me about that type of boat?

Shawn Cooley
Landlocked in Cupertino


I just bought a 23-foot Rampian sailboat, with a retractable keel, that was built near Ottawa, Canada. If you or anyone else knows anything about these boats, I'd sure appreciate it if they could contact me. I'm particularly interested in understanding how the mechanism works that raises and lowers the keel; where the pivot bolt is, the pulley setup, the connections and so forth.

James L. Jardine
24800 Mission Blvd., Hayward, CA 94544

James - We're familiar with the Grampian line of boats, but not Rampian. In any event, a good yard should be able to figure out the setup without having to resort to plans.


Four years ago my husband and I purchased a 46-foot sloop built of fiberglass and marine ply. The boat was supposedly built by "Childs" in San Diego and was launched in '67. Her original name was Cameo.

We're now near the end of a four year total restoration project in Mexico, and would love to hear from anyone who might know anything of her history.

Box 2505, Olympia, WA 98507

R.B. - Do you always send postcards with 'magic eye'snipers on the front?


Thanks for producing such good literature; the responses to Letters are particularly well written. What I really like about your magazine is that it makes so much sailing knowledge accessible to even a 'new salt' like me.

I've only recently discovered the art of sailing, but already I'm in love. So much in love that I just bought a Columbia 24 to live aboard. I hope to see everyone on the water.

Undecipherable Signature
Northern California

U.S. - Get into the zen of sailing and your modest Columbia 24 can provide you with as much or even more pleasure than new and larger boats costing many times as much. Just remember two things: 1) Everyone learns by making mistakes, and 2) Reef early.


I think you printed a request for boat renaming ceremonies. Did you get any responses? Any suggestions?

Jim Silver

Jim - We suggest you read the next letter.


When it comes to ship christenings, Icelandic sagas tell us that human sacrifices were lashed to the ground over which launching rollers would travel as a ship made its way from land to sea for the first time. More commonly, the blood of animals was used to christen the ship, the animals being sacrificed to the gods to invoke their protection.

In medieval times a bottle of red wine was substituted for the animal blood, and later champagne was used because it was more expensive than red wine. The Japanese custom - which also happens to be my favorite - is to release a flock of doves when a ship is launched.

I got my information from Robert Henderson's The Ocean Almanac, which was published in 1984.

J. Illegible

J. - the launching of ships over sacrificial humans - especially virgins - was also very popular in the South Pacific. So if we had to rename a boat - which is sort of a new 'launching', that's probably what we'd do to celebrate. But we're still open to other suggestions from our readers.


You asked about yacht christening ceremonies. When we bought our Morgan 45 last year and renamed her Painkiller - after our favorite libation from the British Virgins - we did some research. I started with Coast Guard Chaplain James Glasspie on Coast Guard Island. He was very helpful, coming up with a variety of launching and christening ceremonies.

Mixing and matching paragraphs from various ceremonies, on Sunday, June 29, 1997, we had a great dockside party for family and friends at Oakland's Central Basin to rename our boat. Chaplain Glasspie was kind enough to officiate. Naturally there was lots of food and drink - including, of course, Painkillers.

I encourage anyone looking into such ceremonies to contact the local U.S. Navy or U.S. Coast Guard chaplains for assistance in this regard. A donation to the chaplain's favorite charity is probably in order.

An interesting side note: The Coast Guard does not have a chaplaincy of their own, so all of their chaplains are U.S. Navy Chaplains detailed to the Coast Guard for a couple of years. Chaplain Glasspie, for example, was reassigned to England a few months after our celebration - but back in his U.S. Navy uniform.

Ron & Jane Landmann
Painkiller, Morgan 45


My 2.7 hp. Cruise 'n Carry outboard motor has served me faithfully on two coasts - but now it needs parts. I wrote to the address in the manual - HMC, 20710 Alameda Street, Long Beach - but the letter was returned marked "Forwarding Order Expired."

If you or any of your readers know where I can get parts, please write me at 250 County Club Heights, Carmel Valley, CA 93924, or e-mail me at hommon@chapman.edu.

Bill Hommon
Carmel Valley

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

© 1998 Latitude 38