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I'm responding to Michael Clark‰s May letter to the editor concerning the abandoned boiler in the Alameda Estuary. I hope my response will clarify what we can and can't do.

The San Francisco District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has limited Congressional authorization to remove hazards to navigation to protect commercial and military navigation traffic. Basically, we have the authority to remove hazards from the federal channels of San Francisco Bay and its tributaries. We can also remove debris floating outside federal channels if the debris is likely to move into the channel.

We do not have the authority to remove derelicts or obstructions which are not in a federal channel or are unlikely to move into such a channel. We also are unable to remove hazards located in shallow water where our vessels can‰t safely operate.

Unfortunately, the boiler Mr. Clark referred to is not in a federal channel and there is no likelihood that it will move within the channel‰s boundaries. Because of that, we do not have the authority to remove the boiler.

Given those guidelines, we encourage members of the public to contact us to report hazards to navigation. You can do so by calling either the Raccoon (415-699-1482), the Grizzly (415-699-1990) or the Navigation Section directly (415-332-0334). Please be sure to provide as much information as possible, such as location, size, material, and also your name and phone number so we can contact you for additional information, or to notify you of our actions.

Jay Hawkins
Chief, Navigation Section, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Jay - Thanks for the explanation. It points out once again how inefficient organizations - be they businesses, governments or drug smuggling cartels - become when they get too big. And alas, we suspect civil engineers don't have the renegade-type personalities necessary to say to hell with authorizations and just rip that boiler out in the middle of some night - no matter how much damage and pollution it might prevent.


As an ode to George Olson on the 20th anniversary of the ubiquitous Olson 30, I feel compelled to publicly thank him for the incredible fun I had with hull number one, Mas Rapido.

Almost all the sailing I did with the boat was either single or doublehanded, mostly in Southern California. I was, however, able to race her in the '94 Pacific Cup. During the 12-day transit, we posted a couple of 200-mile days and a few others close to that.

The biggest thrill I had with the boat, however, was hitting 22 knots on the backside of Santa Cruz Island during the '96 Hardway Race from Santa Barbara to Ventura. At the top of the island, we set what I believe is the only 1.5 chicken kite ever made for an Olson 30. Mas Rapido immediately accelerated to 15 knots, at which point she became as stable as a table.

The wind - later reported to have been 50 knots with gusts to 70 - continued to increase. I was petrified, as was my brother-in-law, so we just left the chute up and held on tight. Had we tried to drop the chute in those conditions, I believe we would have flicked the rig right out of the boat. I'm glad George designed a boat that could be driven with one hand, even at 22 knots, because I needed the other hand for my death grip on a stanchion. While both of us were scared, I also remembered laughing at how bloody intense the experience was.

I'm proud to say that I owned and raced the oldest Olson 30 good and hard, and in return she treated me well and made me laugh. Last fall I sold her to a chap in Santa Cruz; maybe she's in the neighborhood?

Peter Cullum
Southern California

Peter - The Wanderer liked his Olson 30 so much that he had to buy another one after he sold his first. Still has her, too.


I just returned from Mexico after four wonderful seasons cruising the mainland and the Sea of Cortez aboard my Northstar. The sailing, cruising friends, and experiences were, of course, great. The unexpected benefit was that I came to know, and perhaps a little better understand, Mexico and her people. There is truly a warmth down there.

I did have a problem, however, when I had my boat trucked up through Nogales to San Diego. Sometime during that trip she was inspected by customs agents who were so zealous that they actually drilled a hole through the hull of my boat. Not only did they drill the hole below the waterline, but they neglected to tell me about it!

I had driven behind Northstar all the way, watching her rock and roll up the highway. I wouldn't do that again, as it's best not to watch. Anyway, the truck carrying my boat had to go through the truck crossing at the border while I had to go through the passenger crossing. I was allowed right through and waited over by the truck exit. Two hours later the truck with Northstar finally came through. Francisco, the driver, indicated their had been some problem, but I wasn't able to understand what.

I later discovered the problem in the yard in Tucson when the boat was being loaded onto an American truck. Seeing the fresh hole in my boat was a bit of a shock - to say the least. I‰ve since talked with Customs and they say they'll pay for the repairs. We'll see.

I realize that there is a drug problem at our borders and that law enforcement agencies face creative smuggling techniques. But I think that with a tiny bit of knowledge about boats, the hole in my hull could have been avoided. I assume the agents were looking for some kind of false compartment. Simply looking at the hull contour inside and then looking at the same contour on the outside would have made it obvious there wasn't room for a false compartment.

The folks at Marina San Carlos Dry Storage, who were responsible for the shipping, say that this is the first time such a thing has happened. Hopefully it won‰t become standard procedure.

Dave Fiorito
San Diego


I love your rag and read it faithfully every month - but there's one bit of misinformation you let out in the May issue. On page 92, in an answer to Ray Durkee‰s question about the meaning of a green flare on the water, Bob Count's answer is, I believe, a little off.

According to pages 87-88 of my Chapmans, "Distress signals used by submarines of the U.S. Navy are not included in the U.S. or International Rules, but these should be known by the skippers of all craft plying offshore waters.

"U.S. submarines are equipped with signal ejectors which may be used to launch identification signals, including emergency signals. Two general types of signals are used: smoke floats, and flares or stars. The smoke floats, which burn on the surface, produce a dense colored smoke for a period of 15 to 45 seconds. The flares or stars are propelled to a height of 300 to 400 feet from which they descend by small parachute, burning for about 25 seconds.

"The color of the smoke or flare/star has the following meaning: Green or Black - used for training exercises only to indicate that a torpedo has been fired or the firing of a torpedo has been simulated. Yellow - indicates that the submarine is about to come to periscope depth from below periscope depth. Surface ships and craft should clear the area; do not stop propellers. Red - indicates an emergency condition within the submarine, and that it will surface immediately, if possible. Surface ships and craft should clear the area and stand by to give assistance after the submarine has surfaced. In the case of repeated red signals, or if the submarine fails to surface within a reasonable time, she may be assumed to be disabled. Mariners should determine the location, buoy it, look for the submarine‰s marker buoy, and advise U.S. Naval or Coast Guard authorities immediately."

I hope this clears up some misunderstanding on what different color smoke, flare, or star signals are used.

Steve Jackson
Instructor, Hawaii Merchant Marine Training Services
Honolulu, Hawaii


Last fall I bought Coyote, the Beneteau One Ton that had been in Santa Cruz. I think this is the same boat that Dee Smith briefly mentioned in a recent article. I know the boat had a very active racing career in San Francisco, but would like any info you or your readers might be able to provide.

The IOR bumps have been removed and the boat now handles very well at high speed. I'm optimizing her for singlehanded racing, and I am hoping to find any technical info or plans that still exist. I know that the rig was built by Chrisman and Hulse when their outfit was operating in the Bay Area.

Peter Cullum
Southern California

Peter - Say, aren't you the guy who just sold Mas Rapido?


So there I was, reading my favorite sailing magazine while preparing for our annual cruise to Catalina, when lo and behold, I come across a letter to the editor from my father, one M. David Levin of New York City. I must admit to taking a certain pride in seeing his letter in print, since it was I who introduced him to Latitude, and I who - until the Goldberg/E&B/West Marine store in New York City started carrying it - sent him my copy each month.

I was a bit dismayed, however, by the editor's response suggesting how cool it would be if I, Thunder, had a brother named Lightning. As you can imagine, I‰ve been hearing jokes like that all my life, and would have expected something a bit more creative from the editors of my favorite magazine. Just for your information, I am an only child. However, my parents claim that if I'd had a sister, they were going to name her Cloud. What can you do, it was the Sixties.

By the way, in my continuing efforts to take over Hollywood, I'll be making a short film this fall about a young woman who finds the strength to make her dream of sailing across the Pacific, rather than living a 'normal' life, come true. Unfortunately, we have zero budget for the project and desperately need some kind soul who will allow us the use of his/her 35 to 50-ft traditional-looking sailboat in Marina del Rey for about a week‰s shoot. We can‰t pay, but we can provide the oh-so-impressive screen credit of Executive Producer. If any of your readers would be interested in helping us out and making a 'name' for themselves in the film business, they can reach me by e-mail at stormfront@jps.net.

Hope you like the Schubert - and thanks for the great read and inspiration every month.

Thunder Levin Earendil
MacGregor 25
Santa Monica

Thunder - While we realize that a name like yours would entail shouldering a bit of an extra burden, we still think it's a great name. Then again, we were a product of the Sixties also.

While the Wanderer doesn't give a rat's behind about becoming a 'name' in Hollywood - or even sleeping with the starlet - he does love a project and an adventure. Even more important, he can put his hands on a new 63-foot catamaran that can be used for a week or so in Marina del Rey this October. If the boat is traditional enough for you and the timing is right, have your people call the Wanderer's people and they'll 'do a meeting', 'take a lunch', or whatever it is people do in Hollywood.


We have an older - what other kind is there? - Whitby 42 ketch. Last January, we called upon the good folks at Svendsen‰s to send someone over to look into the possibility of tearing out and rebuilding the interior. This man came over, listened to what we wanted, and essentially left with a 'don‰t call us, we‰ll call you when we have some time' farewell. Wow. So now it's July, and I guess they‰ve just been busier than all get out, because there‰s been no call. And we have even come up with some more ideas for the starboard side of the main salon.

Our question is simple: where can we find someone who can do the boat work we're not skilled enough to do? We have searched your ads and Classy Classifieds, but seem to have missed any who have advertised there. Even though we don‰t dress like wealthy consumer types, we do have the money for the work, but aren't skilled enough to do it ourselves. Who, pray tell, can help us?

P.S. We lost our previous Michaelanne, an Islander 36, in hurricane Marilyn in September of 1995. Back then you asked us what we thought of the Islander as a cruising boat, and we said we loved it. We still do and we still miss her. It wasn‰t her fault we were stuck in the Virgin Islands for reasons beyond our control.

Mike and Anne Kelty
Michaelanne, Whitby 42
909 Marina Village Parkway, #105, Alameda

Mike and Anne - While we can't comment on your specific case, we can make some general observations. First, as you're probably aware, this is about as good as the economy ever gets. As a result, it seems like everybody who isn't buying a new boat is wanting to get their current boat upgraded. Most local marine businesses have more work than they can handle. Why don't they hire extra help? With unemployment so low, qualified and reliable workers are hard to find - let alone keep. Secondly, the boat industry is relatively seasonal, so the mostly small companies in it don't want to hire somebody for the summer and then have to lay them off or carry them through a much slower winter.

As good an explanation as that might be, it doesn't get your interior built. Our suggestions: Call Svendsen's and the other yards and see if they're going to have time in the near future. You might also try independent shipwrights, who don't have as much overhead, in the Classy Classifieds. Paging through the last issue, we see business classifieds from Fred Anderson (page 227), Woodrum Marine (229), and Steve's Marine (233), all of whom do exactly what you're looking for. If they can't help you right away, perhaps they can refer you to someone who can.


Latitude readers often dump on those of us who use gas rather than wind for power. However, not every sailor is all he or she should be. Just before sundown on July 6, we were on our way back to Bethel Island from Mildred Island in our powerboat when we were flagged down by a jet-ski rider. He told us that he'd been flagged down by a guy in an outboard saying he'd run out of gas.

Normally, we consider jet-skiers to be only slightly more evolved than pond scum, but this man had taken the trouble to search for someone who could help these people. We backtracked and found the disabled boat. The driver explained their problem. They were three couples who had sailboats anchored at Mandeville Tip for the fireworks. They'd taken the outboard out to do some scouting of the area, but they ran out of gas because they'd been monitoring the gauge for the automatic oil injector tank rather than the gauge for the gas tank.

They had a cell phone with which to call Vessel Assist. Unfortunately, they didn't know where they were and didn't have a chart, so they couldn't tell Vessel Assist where to find them. Directions such as "the blackberry bushes by the third big tree after the long rock levee" just don't help that much. So I gave them my well-worn copy of Hal Schell‰s Delta Map and Guide and pointed out to them exactly where they were. We left them with the map and Vessel Assist on its way.

This experience points out several lessons that anybody who takes out any boat - power or sail - should pay attention to: One, know your equipment. No matter how experienced you are, every boat is a little different, so make sure you know about its operation, instrumentation and safety features before embarking. Two, be prepared. The old Boy Scout motto applies doubly on the water. Make sure you have the necessary charts, equipment, fuel, and so forth for your planned trip. And third, plan your trip. Know where you are and let others know where you plan to be.

This particular situation turned out to be just an inconvenience, but similar mistakes under other conditions could have led to more serious consequences.

John Palmer
Bethel Island

John - Yours is good advice. On the other hand, we wouldn't be too hard on them, because who among us hasn't made our share of stupid mistakes? Furthermore, one of the nice things about the Delta is that it's relatively benign. If you run out of gas - or start sinking - usually the worst that's going to happen is that you're going to have to spend the night on some levee.

By the way, we don't have anything against people with powerboats - unless they leave their gensets on all night or cruise across a crowded bay at 45 knots. We don't even have anything against jet-skiers - provided they enjoy themselves responsibly, a big part of which means out of sight and hearing of most other people.


Thanks to the '98 Delta Ditch Run organizers for hosting the event - and Latitude for the accurate account of the race. We're even more grateful to the unknown commercial vessel and fishing boatowners who came to our assistance by helping us right our overturned boat near Benicia. As a result, we didn't suffer any damage beyond the "man-sized hole" in the mainsail.

Congratulations also to Jay and Pease Glaser, who displayed great sportsmanship by stopping to offer us assistance - before continuing on to win this year's blustery race. We'll be back next year.

Alan O‰Driscoll
Beowulf V
La Honda


Myself and fellow sailor Bob Shea, CDR United States Navy, would like to thank the young family aboard the Pompano Beach, Florida-based powerboat So Seas the Day for towing us out of a dangerous chop. It happened around 1600 on June 27 just north of Red Rock and the Richmond Bridge. The chop was the product of a tidal current flowing much stronger than anything we could have predicted.

We'd been trying to beat our way home against the choppy seas - the likes of which I'd never seen before on the Bay - for three hours. These kindly folks on the powerboat hauled us - against creaming seas and a relentless tidal flow - all the way back to the Berkeley Marina. Once we were safe inside the breakwater, they cast us free, did a 180¡, and went on their way.

My Cape Dory Typhoon is just over 18 feet long, which is why I never sail alone. It‰s not hard to find a skipper who is a better sailor than I, but CDR Shea, who has been sailing since he was 12, is one of the best. My thanks to him, too.

Someone once told me that the sailing community, by and large, is the way the world ought to be: free, but helpful. I believed it, and now my belief has been substantiated.

Noel Peattie

Noel - We presume you mean the boating community at large is "free and helpful", not just the sailing community.

If there's a lesson to be learned from your experience, it's that San Francisco and San Pablo Bays are not 'protected waters' and therefore they are not suitable for all boats in all weather conditions. Owners of smaller boats, particularly those with limited sailing experience, should evaluate the weather conditions carefully before putting themselves at risk. The overwhelming number of boating accidents and deaths in California occur on or from boats less than 25 feet in length. Have fun, but please be careful.


You published my recent letter under the heading, How to Avoid Such a Nightmare.

In your comments, you wondered who is the contemporary sailor Rod Stevens (sic). Surely this is a memory lapse. Rod Stevens (sic) - actually not quite a contemporary, since he died recently - is the brother of Olin Stevens (sic). In a recent article in Cruising World, Olin describes Rod as "much the better sailor." Rod was well known for his meticulous boat preparation and abilities as a skipper. He was an integral part of Sparkman & Stephens' involvement in America's Cup designs.

John Richards
Northern California

John - We obviously didn't express ourselves very clearly. Our point was that someone who had passed on - even if he had been as talented as Rod Stephens - could not, by definition, be a "contemporary."


Thanks to the readers who responded to my request for info regarding origin of the first Ericson 35s. I have received ad copy from old magazines and newspapers of the late '60s. The "open secret" that the discarded hull mold of an Alberg 35 became - with a new deck and interior - the Ericson 35 is verified offhandedly by a newspaper story recounting the history of the Ericson company. It was also mentioned that the Ericson 32 came from the old Columbia Sabre 32 mold.

According to the material I've acquired, Ericson Yachts started in Orange, CA, with the 35 and 32. The company changed hands in '66, at which time they began producing a long line of original designs from the board of Bruce King. I can‰t tell which newspaper the article appeared in, but the author was Almon Lockabey, Boating Editor. The article was written in the '69-'70 season, because the author mentions that "the firm looks forward to doubling its sales in 1970."

Comments on the Ericson List on the internet suggest that Bruce King is writing a book, so more light on the Ericson history may be on the way.

Ken Brink
Northern California

Ken - It would really be great if someone put together a book on the history of fiberglass boatbuilding in Southern California. That's an interesting story - with lots of funny moments.


I was disappointed to learn that Dick Markie, manager of Marina Mazatlan, was fired by the developer, Grupo Situr. We'd like to express our support for 'Mistral Dick', for the assistance, advice, support and encouragement he's given to us and fellow cruisers.

When Marina Mazatlan first opened, we were there to observe not only Dick's unmatched hospitality, but his dedication to the challenge of getting the marina operational. It was odd to see this vast marina complex surrounded by vacant land. We learned that the marina was to be the centerpiece of a grand resort development, but that the devaluation of the peso had depleted the developer's reserves just as the marina was about to begin generating revenue. We also learned that Dick had spent his own money to get electricity, water and other services connected so that cruisers would be willing to stay.

I was so impressed at this effort that I considered investing in the stock of the parent company, Grupo Sidek. I knew it had been battered by the peso crash, but thought they might have the savvy to make a turnaround. Ultimately, I decided not to invest. I suggest that Grupo Situr is mistaken if they think they "can't afford" to keep Markie; they can't afford to lose him! Without Markie's investment of time and money, the marina would not have been able to operate. Furthermore, his efforts to promote Mazatlan as a cruising destination had succeeded in making it a regular stop rather than a rare side trip for cruisers.

We've decided to bypass Marina Mazatlan next year in protest of Situr's foolishly shortsighted action, and will wait and see what develops before we consider returning. We suggest that other cruisers do likewise.

Dave, Nancy and Haley Reynolds Martin
Puerto Escondido, B.C.S., and Fort Bragg


Enclosed is another year‰s subscription to your great magazine - and a picture of sailors from the Puget Sound area having a beer and reading Latitude at Noemi‰s in Zihuatanejo.

Last February my wife and I spent a week in Z-Town visiting our friends Mike and Julie Frick, who are cruising Mexico on their Alajuela 38 Surprize. While there, we naturally got to know many of the cruisers. Every morning, while we ate breakfast at our hotel overlooking the bay, we listened to the local radio net. On our first morning we heard Blair, aboard Capricorn Cat, invite anyone who wanted to join him on his boat for a snorkeling trip. Our friends immediately responded saying that they would like to go - and bring us along. No problemo.

Our week‰s visit was filled with fun, adventure - and a great escape from the Northwest's winter rains. Pictured from left to right are Mel and Barbara Davidson, Bon Accord from Belling-ham, WA; Lowell and Mary Larsen, Carina, from Anacortes, WA; Mike Frick, Surprize, Shelton, WA; Mark Swartout, yours truly from Olympia, WA; and Julie Frick.

Everyone in the picture has since scattered on the wind.

Mark J. Swartout
Olympia, Washington


When the new century rolls around, we could be in bad trouble because of the inability of many computer and embedded chips to properly recognize and respond to the digits '2000'. You know, the 'millennium bug'. Because modern society is so dependent on computers and chips to do everything - running communications, power grids, factories, water purification, transportation, trains and trucks, medical devices, toasters, banking and finances, and just about everything else - society as we know it could come tumbling down just past the stroke of midnight on December 31, 1999.

If banks can‰t process checks and the Federal Reserve Bank becomes defunct, the whole system of payments might become non-functional and there would be a run on banks. As such, it might become necessary to adopt a survival strategy involving the storing of food, water, medicines, household items, fuel, tangible media of exchange, and other items. See The Millennium Bug, by Hyatt, 1998, and Timebomb 2000, by Yourdon & Yourdon, 1998.

I raise this issue in the cruising community in order to get help in making a decision. While I might be better able to avoid the worst consequences of M-bug social disruption by adopting survival tactics in a land-based setting - away from large metropolitan areas, of course - I'm also contemplating buying a cruising boat in order to 'get away'. If I were to take off on a cruising boat, however, I wouldn't be able to count on the availability of fuel, and I'd have to expect M-bug problems with electronic navigation, weather forecasting, and various boat systems.

Have any Latitude 38 readers thought about the M-bug problem in this light? Are any of you making plans to counteract adverse effects of the bug that are certain to happen?

Charles S. Rebert
Redwood City

Charles - During an ill-fated honeymoon in Bora Bora, we met a Greek guy named Tomas who was cruising aboard an old 24-foot racing boat. At the beginning of each year, Tomas would buy five gallon containers of rice and beans, as well as smaller quantities of cooking oil, flour and spices. He supplemented this with seafood and occasional bananas and vegetables. He used about five gallons of propane a year to prepare his food. Tomas had been contentedly cruising like this for about six years, said he had everything he needed, and was planning to continue to cruise in such a fashion for another three years. He taught us how little you really needed to enjoy life.

In our estimation, it wouldn't be difficult for a family of four to live for a year off the gear and goods they could easily fit into the typical 40-foot cruising boat. In fact, it might make for a great experiment - and would in any event be a heck of a lot more fun than living in the dreary Biosphere.

Perhaps the best places to survive the meltdown of society would be off the coasts of tall islands in the Caribbean, such as Puerto Rico, Dominica or Grenada. The tropical climates are ideal for solar and wind generators, the sea is full of life, rain is plentiful in the highlands, and food grows wild in many places. And after a couple of nights of sipping homemade rum and swaying your butt to the sweet sounds reverberating off the steel drums, you'll be glad society melted down.

If the Panama Canal was too crowded because of the rush to get to the Caribbean, the coast of Mexico between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco would be a good alternative - provided your solar panels provided enough power to keep your watermaker(s) putting out sweet water.


I‰ve been out cruising for the past two seasons enjoying various adventures. My latest experience was so strange, however, that I had to share it with your readers.

One day my girlfriend and I were anchored at an island in Mexico that's well known to cruisers. After hiking to a remote rocky beach, we started beachcombing amid the usual trash - old oil containers, decomposing thongs, bits of poly line, pieces of lumber and so forth. Suddenly, my girlfriend cried out: "I‰ve scored big time!"

I asked if she had found a spool of fishing line - which she, from a distance, appeared to be holding in her hand. But she repeated one word with emphasis:

"No, I've scored! Dope!" She held up a kilo of marijuana wrapped in cardboard and plastic wrap.

Since the kilo was tightly compressed, neatly packaged, and only slightly damp, we assumed it had been dumped or lost overboard from a drug runner's boat. Good grief! We high-fived each other and then wondered what to do as we hadn't smoked grass since Reagan was in the White House. But being children of the '60s, we decided to try some for old time's sake. Wow, it was the real stuff all right!

We both realized that this treasure was just a little too hot for a couple of gringo tourists in a country with a busy navy, third world jails, and a rich neighbor to the north throwing countless millions at a drug war. So we quickly decided to dispose of our inconvenient windfall. We found an even more remote spot on the island and, in the tradition of the pirates that once cruised these waters, buried it - in an ecologically-approved fashion. The most fun was making the 'treasure map' later on.

So there the dope sits, slowly decomposing. Will we ever go back for it? I doubt it . . . but anything is possible. Nonetheless, we'd be interested in knowing what other Latitude readers would have done. We also wonder if anyone else has found contraband washed ashore? Perhaps an annual award for the best 'found object' could be established.

P.S. What's the street value of a kilo of pot these days?

Anonymous (For Obvious Reasons)
aka 'Captain Lucky'

Captain Lucky - Packages and even bales of dope washing ashore aren't the most unusual occurrences, as smugglers sometimes find themselves wanting the stuff off their boats - and right now! Naturally, such finds go unreported.

As for the street value of a kilo, a retired expert told us he figured about $3,500.


I refer to the "ancient joke" mentioned on page 84 of the June '98 edition. As I recall there was much more to it, such as:

Balls cried the Queen, if I had them I‰d be King.

The King laughed - he had to.

The King called for Daniel to come forth.

But Daniel slipped on some camel dung,

And came fifth . . . etc.

I‰ll call if I remember more - but don‰t hold your breath.

Sidney Messer
Ancient Mariner


Re: "Little white ones."

The ancient joke continues, "The King laughed, not because he wanted to, but because he had two."

More ancients: "And they‰re off!" said the butcher, as he dropped the meat cleaver in his lap.

"I‰m cured!" said the blind man as he picked up his hammer and saw.

'Mad Matt' Morehouse
Planet Earth


Some old sailing buddies and I finally decided to do the 'male-bonding' weekend we'd been dreaming of for the past few years. We're high school and college friends who used to spend a lot of time sailing together before careers, marriages, and kids started occupying most of our time. We were all psyched when there was a miraculous cosmic convergence that created a 'free' weekend in May on all of our very busy calendars! We jumped at the chance and booked an Ericson 30 from a charter company in the West Bay. With blessings from our wives - and a 'wink' that it would be their turn next time - we made the pilgrimage from various points in Northern California to arrive on the dock on Friday afternoon.

One friend and I had previous sailboat chartering experience, mostly with the large charter companies operating out of Anacortes. We listened carefully as the employee of the charter outfit - I‰ll call him 'Steve' - briefed us very briefly on the boat and its systems. Steve was about to say bon voyage when I reminded him that we might need a little instruction on how to use the stove - which I noticed looked as though it hadn‰t been used in years. He seemed taken aback by our intention to operate the stove, and after a quick look, announced that the stove was "not working." 'Hmmmm,' I thought to myself, 'this might be a problem given the fact that ours was a two-night charter'. Realizing that we were serious about our wild notion of cooking and eating, Steve offered us a beat-up portable alcohol 'burner'.

Shortly thereafter we cast off the lines and were motoring through Richardson Bay, still excited about the great sailing ahead of us. I went below to grab a beer when, on impulse, I decided to check the water system. When nothing happened as I turned the knobs, I didn‰t panic, but assumed the manual foot pump would get the water flowing. Wrong! Not a drop. I was amazed, baffled, and really irritated!

Trying to console my mates, I told them we actually could survive the weekend with beer being our only form of potable liquid. "Brushing teeth with Amstel Light won‰t be that bad," I said trying to cheer them up. But seriously, paying nearly $600 for a 30-foot boat that didn't have water or a functional stove?

We could have wasted our precious sailing time heading back to charter base to fill the water tanks, but decided we would likely be able to get water at Ayala Cove - so we kept going. Later, at South Beach Marina, we attempted to fill the tanks. Incredibly, we found that the water tank had been sealed off just below the cap!

My only other bareboat chartering experiences have been with the huge and well-maintained fleets in the San Juan Islands. Needless to say, I was surprised and disappointed with this outfit's failure to deliver a reasonably equipped and maintained charter vessel - as they had advertised.

My purpose in writing is to ask if anyone else chartering in Northern California has had a similar experience. Maybe Latitude could get the discussion going about local charter outfits and how they rate.

P.S. My friend, who actually booked the charter, is in the process of contacting the managers of the charter outfit to let them know of our complaints. I have not heard their side of the story and do not know if they have agreed to his request for some monetary compensation.

Ken Shears
Cameron Park

Ken - No boat should be allowed out on a two night charter without a good stove and water. Assuming you described the situation accurately, we think you deserve a hefty refund - and an apology.


When you receive Latitude by 'cheap mail', you get behind, so I have some delayed comments.

In the May Changes and on your web site, you mention and compliment Mike Hopper‰s Windows '95 tide program. If anyone wants to know, Mike and Joyce Hopper spent five years sailing Horizon from San Francisco to Florida. Sandy and I met them on the ham radio and in person in the San Blas Islands of Panama. We've all been in Florida for two years and see each other every few months. Mike is a computer programmer and Joyce is running a restaurant to fill the cruising kitty - the financial one, not Pumpkin "the furry one," as they say. They are doing an extensive refit prior to resuming their life. The Hoppers are among those of us who cruise to live rather than live to cruise.

If you visit the Hoppers at their web site - www.geo-cities.com/SiliconValey/Horzon/1195 - there's a link to Mike's tide program with 7,000 locations worldwide.

Second subject: the May Sightings about David Clark, and Gayle Pickford‰s letter about Merl Petersen. These two senior circumnavigators make me wonder if we shouldn't revive the Geriatric Cruisers Society - Changes, March 1994. I'm only 72, but I stick to 'green water' cruising and leave the more adventurous stuff to the other guys. Anyway, Sandy and I are off 'down island' again in the fall after the refit is done and we've rented the house Sandy bought for my old age, we'll split. If anyone is interested in renting a nice house with pool and dock 30 miles north of Tampa, get in touch.

Finally, the Martins' letter in June‰s Changes - and other recent letters - mention the crime problem in Costa Rica. The Martins skipped the Gulfo de Nicoya and Punterenas because of reports of crime. We stayed at Isle Gitana, in the Gulf, where Carl Ruegg hired a bunch of locals, all brothers. In fact, their family includes 32 brothers, most of whom live in the area. It seems that Dad had five wives and didn't get around to counting his female children.

Because the family members depend upon cruisers for their income - and they constitute a fair share of the local population - I think crime is limited. We heard of no crime at Isla Gitana, and we left Utopia for two inland trips. The inland beauty is the best part of 'Tico land'.

Ruegg runs a weekly trip to Puntarenas, so it's easy to get around. It's also possible to take a ferry. The harbor at Puntarenas is well-protected, but when I went up the mast I could see that the water is dirty with trash. Merle Petersen's schooner Viveka dragged her anchor there because it got fouled on a garbage bag and wouldn't bite. There always seem to be problems in Puntarenas.

Thanks for letting us keep informed about our home that we can‰t afford.

Jack and Sandy Mooney
Utopia, Challenger 32
Hudson, Florida

Jack & Sandy - We assume that you haven't heard, but Carl Ruegg recently passed away.


How do we Northwest sailors cope mentally and spiritually? Basically, winter is the best time to sail up here! And since winter lasts so long, we have ample opportunity to sail. Generally, summer consists of light winds, sun, and lots of people. Everyone's trying to capture the feeling of tropical paradise within the 'four week summer'.

While our winters may be gray and drizzly, they're not extremely cold. If we have four weeks of summer, we also only have four weeks of real winter - meaning when the temperature drops to near freezing. Spring and fall are actually the best sailing months. It may not be balmy and predictable, but that's when the wind blows.

I guess it comes down to what kind of sailor you are or want to be. Personally, fair weather sailing can get boring and doesn‰t prepare you for 'the real world' - at least for those of us who dream of oceans yonder. My wife and I have been living aboard here in the Northwest for six years and try to get the sails up at least once a month, all year round.

Summer? We don‰t need no stinking summer!

Cory Brown and Erica Karson


Capt. Deakin missed a few things in his July letter about navigation lights. He was accurate about rule 25 of the Rules of the Road (Navigations Rules, also called COLREGS) - as far as he went. What he did not include may mislead some people.

In the beginning of the rules there are some definitions, among them, rule 3, DEFINITIONS:

3(b) The term 'power driven vessel' means any vessel propelled by machinery;

3(c) The term 'sailing vessel' means any vessel under sail provided that propelling machinery, if fitted, is not being used. (All emphasis mine.)

Therefore, a sailing vessel under power at night, regardless of size, is required under the rules to display the lights of a power driven vessel whether she is under sail or not. No one is going to see the sails at night and be confused about the sailboat‰s right of way status under the rules. The inverted black cone required for vessels over 12 meters (40 feet) in length, when under power and sail is to avoid confusion in the daytime.

For anyone who really wants to know what their legal obligations are, get a copy of COMDTINST M16672.2C, Navigational Rules, International-Inland, which is where I got all my information. Incidentally, vessels over 12 meters in length are required to have this book aboard when operating in U.S. territorial waters - three miles off the coast - which would include San Francisco Bay.

First as a sailor - I grew up on the Bay as a rag merchant - and second, as a Coastie, I still love your rag after over 20 years.

Glenn Woodbury


Robert Chave inquired about the legality of showing deck level navigation lights and a masthead tricolor simultaneously while under power. Obviously, he was concerned about making his presence better known to other traffic. While he was correctly told that this was not legal, there is another option which accomplishes the desired end.

In Rule 23, Section (c)(i) of the COLREGS there is an obscure but useful specification: "A power driven vessel of less than 12 meters in length (sic) may in lieu of the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule (the standard nav lights for power boats) exhibit an all-round white light and sidelights." In other words, the steaming light and the stern lights may be combined into one light that can be shown at the masthead.

A lot of tricolor lights provide a 360¼ anchor light as an option. While this is a lousy idea for an anchor light because two amps an hour waste too much juice, it's a straightforward matter to wire it so it goes on along with the deck level nav lights to serve as a combined steaming and stern light. If there is another steaming light already installed, it, along with the existing white stern light, must be shut down in order to be legal. I‰ve done this on my own boat and feel a lot more comfortable with an all-around white light at the masthead while under power.

While under sail, of course, the masthead tricolor is legal.

Jeff Bowers
Shahrazad, Valiant 40


I was going to write a spiffy piece on cruising the Caribbean now versus 20 years ago, but I see from Letters that there is a more 'pressing' problem. Although I'm not a doctor and don't watch them on television, my solution for 'boat butt' is Desitin diaper rash cream. That and not wearing underwear. Wash the affected area, apply the cream, and forget the underwear. After a couple of days of treatment, life should be good again.

Loose clothing - or none at all - really does help as any kind of chafe just makes the problem worse. While Desitin is messy and smells like cod liver oil, it's waterproof and works for all sorts of skin problems.

The short version of the change 20 years has brought about in the Caribbean: There are more charter boats and cruise ships - but it's still a great place with excellent weather and people.

I'm looking forward to meeting everyone in the Pacific next year.

Jim Forrest

Jim - We don't know anything about Desitin, but when it comes to pure sailing there's nowhere we've found that can touch the conditions found in the Caribbean. Don't be too disappointed if you find the trades in the Pacific to be inconsistent by comparison.


Mk-I is the correct sub-category for the 1965 and 1966 Ericson 35s - but you‰ll never see that on the old brochures. Why? Because the early boats only became 'Mark I' when Pearson changed to the Mk-II in 1967. The change to a Mark II happened after just two years of building Mark I's because Pearson was sued for copyright infringement - they'd been using the Alberg hull mold without permission.

At least that's how I remember it from a conversation that I had with Bruce King, which designed all the later Ericsons, about 15 years ago. This information doesn‰t fully stack up with what readers Rich Perenon and Roger Brown wrote in the June issue, but it's how I remember it. I'd love to know the whole story.

Along with some partners, I own Escape, hull #36 of the Ericson 35 Mk-I's. She was built in '66. The boat has reasonably classic lines and is pretty enough to solicit a few, "Nice looking boat!" shouts from across the water. As the former owner of a 30 Square Meter, I have an appreciation of how much boat it takes to be thrown such a compliment. What makes the Mk-I stand out more than the Alberg 35 is that there is a lot more wood showing on deck. When the wood is kept up, the boats look very nice.

These boats are really stout and came in one of two sail plans. The three-foot taller mast is known as the 'Southern California' rig. Ericson offered two different hull lay-up schedules. One featured solid glass while the other had a foam core. Escape has the foam core - which is why I was talking to Bruce King in '83. I had noticed that when going through rough water, the whole bow section would spring in and out. King‰s response to this was that disbonding of any core - especially a PVC foam core that has poor shear strength - is an expected occurrence in an older boat. His advice was to either re-core it with balsa or get rid of the boat.

We decided, after much deliberation, to re-core, and had it done at Kim Desenberg‰s shop in Alameda. It was a major job, costing about half of the boat's $15,000 value and taking several months. The work consisted of a complete replacement of the core and inner hull from the bow to the forward chainplates, then epoxy ejections in the area aft of the re-cored bow to about one half of the way to the stern. In addition, there was some deck re-coring plus a build-up of the area between the turn-of-the-bilge and the keel to prevent 'panting'.

Another thing that we did - which may be of interest to owners of deck-stepped masts - was to replace the sagging laminated wood mast-step with a stainless steel weldment that arches over the interior doorway. It was all cut-in from the outside, where it could be patched over easily with glass and paint.

My partner Jim Podolski and I had one of those little 'learning experiences' while doing this job. We mixed-up a full gallon of epoxy and poured it all into the new hole. Jim had just started to set the three-foot long stainless weldment down in the epoxy pool when we learned why it's better to mix several smaller batches of epoxy rather than one big one. The epoxy pool got so hot that there was enough smoke to catch the yard's attention. In addition, there was quickly solidifying foam to deal with. It all worked out, however, and the system has performed well for several years now.

We‰ve had our Escape at the Richmond YC since the '70s, so she's probably the Ericson 35 that Perenon had seen there. There are also three Alberg 35s at the club. I know of two other Ericson Mk-I's on the Bay; one in Alameda and one at Pier 39.

Over the years, we‰ve collected some neat reference materials for both boats, such as IMS ratings, polar plots, Atomic 4 maintenance manuals, prop sizes, and the like. It would be fun to organize a gathering of Ericson Mk-I's and Alberg 35s in order to swap war stories and such. If anyone is interested, they can call me at (510) 548-8207 and we‰ll sail some place.

Rich Seals
Escape, Ericson 35 Mk-I


On page 217 of the May '98 issue there was a photo of a woman with a sextant. The caption read: "A sextant is no longer an antique - not since hackers have found a way to access the software that controls GPS satellites." I couldn‰t find any other reference to this problem in the adjoining Changes in Latitudes text, but perhaps I didn‰t look far enough afield.

I called the Coast Guard to see if they were aware of this problem. The person I spoke to said 'no', but wanted more information.

If you're serious about this, I suggest that you contact the Coast Guard so they can put it out on the Local Notice to Mariners. If this is another of your famous spoofs, please let me know, as I teach celestial navigation at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa and want to give my students the correct information.

Thanks for a consistently outstanding magazine.

Neal T. Walker
Costa Mesa

Neal - The caption about hackers getting access to GPS software was not a spoof. We'd written more extensively about it in a previous issue based on widespread reports that had appeared in the mainstream national press. Whether the hackers had actually gotten to the stage where they were capable of screwing up the GPS system is not clear.

In any event, you may be getting some more celestial students.


In a recent issue there was a letter from John O'Conner about the scattering of ashes at sea. I can‰t believe that someone would want, seek, or even invite Big Government into the question. After all, the human body is a natural non-polluting organism - just like the fish. And didn't we all originally come from the ocean thousands of years ago? So why ask?

The ashes of all my grandparents, my parents, and some other relatives have been scattered somewhere between our home in Newport Beach and Catalina Island. Our family never cared what the current laws were because we didn't think it was anybody else's business.

Another matter - death at sea. In my 26 years as a detective before retiring, I dealt with many murders. Two of the deaths were at sea. In both cases, the surviving crew contacted the Coast Guard to advise them of the problem. They also kept a detailed log of the illness and death. Both times the body was buried at sea. One was buried approximately 450 miles north of Kwajalein, the other about 290 miles east of Japan.

When both of the American families returned to the United States, they were interviewed by the Coast Guard and me. Due to the illness involved and the extensive radio contacts, both the Coast Guard and I felt crimes had not been committed and that the burial at sea had been justified. By the way, the second part of this letter has nothing to do with the first issue of the scattering of ashes.

We're now on the island of Corsica, having been in the Med for the past nine months. We're sailing around the world and expect to be back in good old Newport Beach by December 31, 1999 - for a party with friends.

Great magazine - but hard to find in Italy.

Paul Langone
Tricia Too
Monte Carlo, Monaco

Paul - We just spent some time on the Italian and French Rivieras. Had we only known, we would have been delighted to hand deliver a selection of the latest Latitudes.


The unidentified singlehander charging the Bay on page 124 of June's Sightings is Einer Elbeck at the helm of his Nor'West 33 Sunshine. As Einer demonstrates, the Nor'West fleet is alive and kicking. Eighteen of these seakindly, Chuck Burns designed cruisers were built in Alameda from 1978 to 1981. Hull #19 is still in the mold, but Arch Woodliff, the Nor'West builder, threatens to commission her soon. After all, the new engine - circa 1981 - sits ready in a crate beside her.

In other Nor'West news:

- Fred and Margaret Fago of Hogin Sails organized two Nor'West owners meetings in recent months, bringing owners of 10 of the18 boats together.

- Gene and Dotty Hanes, owners of Wither Thou, the very first Nor'West 33, recently donated her to a sail training organization in San Diego.

- Three of the Nor'West 33s are still actively sailed by the original owners. They are Falcon, Sunshine and Pippin.

- Several of the boats have recently undergone complete refurbishment, including Tao and Josephine.

- At least two Nor'Wests, including Skye and Native Dancer, are being prepared for extended cruises.

There‰s plenty of life in the Nor'West fleet!

Simon Elphick
Nor'West 33 #18,
Native Dancer
Half Moon Bay


I recently read the letter from Wings regarding the use of a cellular phone for e-mail in Mexico. While I'm still in the States, e-mail has allowed me not just to stay in touch with family and friends, but continue to work at home - aboard our boat while cruising Southern California.

Having worked as a teacher in public school for a few years, I wondered how my wife and I could ever leave the dock to go cruising. Then the internet came along and opened up the possibility. It began when I learned of a private, independent study school that had an on-line program. 'This may be the ticket!' said the light going off in my head.

I began working for the school a couple of years ago - and I continued to work for them when we moved away from the dock last May. We spent the summer cruising around Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz Island, then spent the winter at Catalina Island - where we've had a wonderful time.

I corresponded with my students using e-mail. I use a cellular phone with the box that goes between the phone and the laptop. I also installed an external antenna that gives me around a 10db gain, which provided me with good reception from Catalina all during the winter. The only drawback is that the little box maxes out at 4800 baud, which makes things pretty slow. As someone stated in a previous letter, you don't do much web surfing at that speed.

So far I've used a local cellular company and a Ventura-based local internet provider, but once we get to Mexico I like the idea of using a larger provider. The best, of course, would be to use satellites to communicate, but my earnings don't allow me that option.

Right now, we're happy to be out and living a lifestyle that we find very satisfying. We headed south last fall with our five-year-old daughter and a six-week-old baby boy. It's been a wonderful experience for all of us, as we've had the time to really live and grow together. We're living cheaper, too, so don‰t need to earn as much money to get by.

This past year has been the best I can remember and the use of e-mail and other technology has made it all possible. We met a few cruisers on their way south last fall and they had to be in such a hurry because they needed to get back to work by a certain date. I know there will be more people in the future using the net in ways like this and I think there are great opportunities for lifestyle changes for some of us. This may be an option for some folks going cruising and perhaps they can slow down a little if they can still work as they go.

I just wanted others to know that recent technological breakthroughs are opening up new opportunities to cruise.

P.S. A few months ago you ran a Changes from Peter and Kate aboard Rise and Shine, and didn't know what kind of boat they had or where they were from. The couple are cruising a Ventura-based Atkins 'Eric' ketch built of ferrocement.

Dave Colvin
Delight, Spindrift 43


I read with interest the discussion about dayshapes, lighting, inland/international rules of the road. But either Capt. Deakin or I need a refresher.

The rules work so that sailing vessels are lighted differently than vessels under power. A vessel under sail will not show a masthead light, while power-driven vessels - which always includes sailing vessels under power, sails up or not - will always show at least one masthead or all-round white light, depending on length and other circumstances (Rule 23, Inland and International).

The rules do allow for uniquely lighting a vessel under sail. Rule 25, paragraph (b), Inland and International, indicates that sailing vessels less than 20 meters in length may show a tricolor light at or near the top of the mast - but not in conjunction with sidelights and sternlight. Any sailing vessel, regardless of length, when showing sidelights and sternlight, may also show two all-round lights in a vertical line at or near the top of the mast, the upper being red and the lower being green (Rule 25, para (c). Only a sailing vessel may show these 'identity lights'.

To Capt. Deakin‰s point, while no sailing vessel is required to use a tricolor or the two all-round lights, one should always be able to distinguish between a vessel under power and a vessel under sail by whether or not a masthead light is showing. This assumes that we all know the rules, which is, of course, an insane assumption.

But I can only echo Capt. Deakin‰s final words: keep clear and get there early. It's great advice for all of us on the water.

S. Witt, Capt., United States Navy
Pelorus Jack
San Diego


In a previous issue, the Max Ebb and Lee Helm characters spent about four pages discussing their quest for the perfect shoal draft sailboat. As I finished the article I was amazed, dumbfounded, and truly mystified to find that they never once mentioned the oldest, and most perfect, shoal draft sailboat design in the world - the multihull.

It reminds me how seemingly intelligent Republicans and Democrats never mention the existence of the Libertarian Party when discussing the country's problems - even though Libertarians have been offering the only sane solutions to the same old problems that have been around for years. I guess it's the old 'if-we-don't-talk-about-it-then-it-doesn't-exist' thing.

Perhaps the analogy is a stretch and I'm not implying that multihulls are the only perfect shoal draft vessel around, but geez, they are one of them, aren‰t they? Granted, your magazine in general does acknowledge the existence of multi‰s quite often, but why so obvious an omission in the shoal draft article - especially considering that these characters were discussing a multihull (the Rave) in the previous issue?

Did they "like" just discover the multihull? Oh yeah; "like", what's up with Lee Helm using the word "like" every other sentence? If she's is supposed to be so intelligent, why does the author make her sound like such a retard?

It was great to read that after all these years John Guzwell is still messing around with boats. His Trekka was such a cool little boat, and his book was such an inspiration to me.

P.S. I‰ve been a landlubber in San Diego going on two years now, and your magazine is one of the things that keeps me going. I'd love to read more about cruisers who are 'seasteading' on the cheap and how they are doing it.

Steve Hobbs
San Diego


One and only one response to Color Us Stupid:

First, Latitude was a little unfair to me in quoting a 'third party' who is, in fact, a "close friend" of Buddy and Ruth on Anna Purna. Hardly an unbiased viewpoint as to whether I was "way out of line." Also, I‰m concerned about getting a fair shake from all the Bay Area types.

Secondly, apparently my letter was entirely misinterpreted by Latitude. The entire "dispute" was never about money but, in fact, about appreciation. Buddy‰s right, no mention of money was ever made by me. Nor am I upset by the out-of-pocket expenses which, I neglected to mention, encompass a couple of hundred dollars of ComSat charges. These were incurred discussing Buddy‰s headstay problem with Latitude‰s "third party." It was this "third party's" request which got me first involved with Ruth and Buddy. As to good terms, I‰m not on good terms with your "third party." Haven't been and won't be.

Final item regarding "third party." I never suggested or otherwise made any effort or representation that Moonshadow come to the aid of the Downeast 32. Moonshadow had a busted SSB, and their only means of communication was their Inmarsat C with which they could e-mail me. At the request of the SSB net, administered by Ruth on Anna Purna, I alerted Moonshadow of the situation with the Downeast 32. I never made any recommendation one way or the other. I will be happy to provide Latitude a copy of all the e-mail correspondence between Moon-shadow and my boat for your readers to judge for themselves.

Finally, I never became angry over Moonshadow‰s or anybody else‰s response to the plight of the Downeast 32, nor upset at anybody on the net. My sole comment was listening to the Downeast skipper, who was distressed and fatigued after losing his engine and a whole lot of sleep with no help in sight. That was my reference to "calling in the cavalry." I never said that Moonshadow had to go to their rescue. In fact, Moonshadow e-mailed me that they could not go to the rescue as the Downeast was too far to the northwest of their position. Glad to provide that e-mail also if "anonymous" wishes to continue this bullshit. Ruth‰s representation that Moonshadow "was relieved" is a crock.

Finally, let me briefly address Buddy‰s concerns as espoused in his letter. His "thanks at least a dozen times" was missed by me. Geez, Buddy, you're welcome. I must have nodded off at the time(s). But do go ahead with "stories about (me)." I love stories. As to the merits of your $68 shackle, as soon as you show me that it is 316L stainless steel, forged, and a deep 3/4" type, I‰ll get right down to your place and buy one. As to Buddy‰s representation that I "insisted" that he use my fitting, he was kind. I actually held a gun to his head and demanded that he use my fitting. Did the same thing as I designed and drew the part so the French machinist could make it for him. I think that Buddy forgot that part - along with much else.

Since this entire matter has lamentably deteriorated into name-calling, I have a suggestion for Buddy. Just write a check for $68 and send it to Latitude, and they can then make a donation of $68 to one of the homeless shelters in your name. I‰m going sailing, and to all a good night.

W. M. Wochos
Doc, 53-foot sloop

W.M. - Even if everything you say is true, it seems to us you've gone a little over the top. In any event, you've gotten your two punches in. Let's leave it at that and move on to more pleasant stuff.


As the author of the book William Willis, The Abiding Sailor - not published in the United States - and an admirer of the man's character, please let me add some additional facts about this very special man.

Willis was born in Hamburg in 1893, the oldest son of a single parent. His family roots were from Bohemia in Europe. He immigrated to the United States in 1910, changing his Slavonian name to William Willis. Starting at age 15, he spent most of his life as a mariner, including sailing on square riggers and making several passages around Cape Horn. He worked also as a longshoreman, in San Francisco among other places.

Willis achieved some international fame after his 6,700 mile solo passage in 1954 from Callao to Pago Pago on the balsa raft Seven Little Sisters. It took 115 days. He wrote two books during this period; The Gods Were Kind and Whom the Sea Has Taken, the latter being an autobiography.

Willis' next venture, at age 70, was a singlehanded voyage on the steel raft Age Unlimited from Callao to Samoa to Townsville, Australia in '63-'64. The 10,000-mile passage took him 205 days, and was the longest raft passage ever made. Books from this period were An Angel On Each Shoulder, and Hell, Hail and Hurricanes, a book of poems.

In 1966, at age 72, Willis undertook still another venture, this one called 'The Oldest Man In the Smallest Boat'. He took off from New York in the 12-foot Little One and set sail for England. Willis suffered a hernia attack shortly after starting and was rescued by a passing freighter. The following year restarted the same trip with the same boat. Delayed because of bad winds and exhausted, Willis was rescued by a fishing ship after 89 days. He was still 1,200 miles from England.

Not one to give up, in 1968, at age 74, Willis again tried to cross the Atlantic in the 12-foot boat. Eighty days after he started, Little One was found - empty, damaged and flooded - by a Russian trawler.

Willis was a common man, a romantic, ecologically minded and very humble. Although admired by many people around the world, he never received the recognition due him in his new country. In fact, some authors - such as Holm and Clark - singled Willis out for sarcasm.

For those interested in William Willis, Little One is on display at the Newport News Mariners Museum, some memorabilia from the Seven Little Sisters passage are exhibited in the Pago Pago Museum, and his books can be found in out-of-print catalogs.

Willis is not the only immigrant to the United States who didn't receive his due. Jean Gau, formerly of France, twice sailed around the world aboard the old double-ender Atom and another five times across the Atlantic. He sailed more than 100,000 miles singlehanded prior to 1970! But how many of your readers have even heard of him?

Dr. Andrew Urbanczyk
Half Moon Bay

Readers - Dr. Urbanczyk, who used a sailboat to escape from behind the Iron Curtain, is another immigrant to the United States who made sailing news. He singlehanded, if we remember correctly, from San Francisco to Japan and back aboard his Ericson 27 and later singlehanded an Ericson 30+ around the world. He also wrote lots of funny stuff for Latitude in our early years.


Capt. Deakin‰s June comment, "It is interesting to note that no special lights are required to distinguish between a boat under sail and power at night," misses a very important point. A sailboat sailing at night must display sidelights and a stern light and should be distinguished by the lack of a forward-facing white masthead light. As soon as the sailboat turns on its engine, however, it becomes a powerboat and must display a masthead light - which is a white light shining forward in an arc of 225¼.

Of the approximately 100 sailboats that I've been on over the past 15 years, this light has been indicated on the electrical panel as 'Steaming Light' or 'Bow Light'. When you turn on the engine, you turn on this light. With this light on, a sailboat with sails up at night can very easily be seen to be under power.

As for daylight running, a common-sense approach followed by many sailboats is to furl the headsail when powering with the engine. This almost always indicates a sailboat under power, but of course it is not a COLREGS rule.

As for displaying the downward conical shape, keep an eye on the inspected sailing vessels on the Bay such as the big schooners. Most likely they will be displaying the shape when they have both their engine on and sails up. It‰s sometimes hard to pick the shape out of all the rigging up front. (The inspected sail training schooners I crew on in Southern California have the shapes and display them as appropriate.)

With regard to Steve Malais‰ letter, he is correct that a sailboat of less than 20 meters can show her lights in a combined lantern - red, green, and white - at the masthead and that the lights down on the deck must be off when the combined lantern is on. But it is also important to note that any size sailboat can also show at the masthead two all-around lights, the top being red and the bottom being green - 'red over green, sailing machine' - and that the deck sidelights and stern lights must also be on.

Thus, for sailboats, there are two types of masthead light arrangements possible. One requires the deck-level running lights to be off, the other requires the deck-level running lights be on.

For cruisers out on the ocean, the 'red over green' all-around lights at the masthead in combination with deck sidelights and stern lights makes for a very well lit boat, which should increase safety.

Paul A. Myers
USCG Licensed Mariner


In the event you have not heard, Dick Markie has been relieved of his responsibilities as Harbormaster at Marina Mazatlan. Apparently it was a cost cutting measure by owners Grupo Situr, as no other reason was given for his termination.

As you know, Dick was an icon in the cruising community and will be missed by all who visited Mazatlan. In particular, those who radioed in distress in the middle of the night for help getting through the breakwater to the calm waters inside. I remember one night in '96 we left Mazatlan for Puerto Vallarta at 0200. Markie insisted that we call him on the radio at 0200 so he could safely guide us out the sometimes hazardous channel.

Dick made life easier and more fun for cruisers in the marina by publishing a cruisers' guide to services in Mazatlan, by organizing the annual Thanksgiving feast, making special arrangements for the bull fights and Carnival, and hosting the monthly 'moon howl'.

Unfortunately, Dick‰s unexplained departure is just another example of how cruising in Mexico seems to be changing. Please join me and the rest of his friends in wishing him well in whatever new venture he pursues.

Dick Switzer

PACIFICA '95, '97, AND 2000

What happened to Pacifica '95 and Pacifica '97, the around the world rallies that I started and which attracted so much attention in the Pacific Northwest?

One boat from Pacifica '95, Jerry and Sue Knecht's Nightwatch, finished their circumnavigation three weeks short of two years. The other 10 boats that started with them are scattered around the world. As far as I know, they're on course, but certainly not on schedule.

In April of '97, seven boats departed Oak Harbor for Sausalito to start Pacifica '97; another started from Newport, Oregon. We lost contact with three of the boats after we turned the corner south at Tatoosh. As expected, the roughest weather we've had to date was between the Northwest and San Francisco Bay. I took nine days to make the trip in my Spencer 46, which is twice as long as it had taken me in 1983. Although it was April, we either had wind on the nose or no wind at all. It wasn't enjoyable. Having not set up a radio sked with the others, I lost track of them. I assumed I'd made it to San Francisco behind everyone, but as it turned out only one other boat arrived ahead of me.

Conclusion: Don't head south from the Pacific Northwest in April, and don't take off until you get all the weather information possible.

As covered in the June '97 Latitude, five Pacifica '97 boats sailed from Sausalito last May 10 for the Marquesas to start the second leg of the circumnavigation. I led the pack with Isle of Skye, my Spencer 46. The others were Clint and Sara Eckstein with their Anacortes-based Hardin 45 Shania Makai; Dean and Pat Crane from Puyallup in their Crane Dancin'; Dorothy and Dave Fryer with their Victoria-based Downeast 38 Kabloona; and Geri and Dale Miller from Yachats, Oregon, in their Downeast 32 Wind Gypsy.

From San Francisco we angled southwest to intercept 125¡W, where we planned to sail down to 5¡S. The plan allowed us to have room to do our westing in the trades without having to worry about tacking back to the Marquesas. In general the weather was good, although the wind - at less than 20 knots - was lighter than we expected. I figured on making the 3,000-mile journey in 25 days, but it took 26. The next boat was six days back, while the last was 16 days back. Thank God for waterline length!

Our group kept in radio contact with one another twice a day; in the morning for weather and in the afternoon for chat sessions. While enroute we joined a loose-knit group of about 20 other boats making similar passages, and in so doing became friends with the rest of the wonderful cruising community.

All of the systems on my boat worked well and, thanks to the 24 gph watermaker, were able to have hot showers regularly. The elevated heat in the engine room put a strain in the refrig/freezer, so we gave up on that and went without cool stuff. I'd had to motor for 4.5 days to cross the ITCZ, and worried that I wouldn't have any in reserve until I reached Tahiti. I needn't have worried as there was plenty of fuel to be pumped from the docks at Hiva Oa and Nuku Hiva. Food was also plentiful in the larger ports, but expensive.

I had to rush through the Marquesas in order to meet my wife on schedule in Tahiti. I stopped at Rangiroa in the Tuamotus to enjoy the great diving. We rejoined our group in Papeete after spending a great two weeks in Moorea. We were also joined in Papeete by Bill Barnes, who had sailed his Cascade 29 straight from Anacortes to Tahiti. He arrived after a 52-day passage, weak but in good spirits.

While in Papeete, the couple who sailed down with my granddaughter and I decided to switch to another boat in the Pacifica '97 group. I recruited two experienced French fellows as replacement for as far as Tahiti, but they got off in American Samoa. We nonetheless had a good trip to Bora Bora, Rarotonga, Palmerston Atoll and American Samoa.

The only two crew for the final legs to Tonga and Fiji were myself and Jennell Turner, an 18-year-old that had been a math student of mine in high school. While in Suva, Fiji, Jennell joined Medusa, a Norwegian boat, and continued on to Brisbane. She was then either going to return home or visit a new friend in France.

With diminished crew, I decided to put my boat on the hard in Fiji - actually it was 'buried' at Vuda Point Marina to protect her against cyclones. This allowed me to return home, rest, get more crew, and return this summer. As you read this, my wife and I should be cruising the western islands of Fiji, after which I'll head off to Vaunatu and Cairns, Australia. That will put me back on schedule - albeit a year late.

As for the others, the Cranes put their boat on the hard in Raiatea after Dean suffered a serious knee injury. They returned to the States for treatment and will resume the course sometime this year. The Fryers made it to Brisbane - where she's from - and will take a year's break before continuing. The Millers sold their boat in New Caledonia after getting their asking price. The Ecksteins are continuing on the original schedule, although I haven't seen them since Fiji. Bill Barnes‰ boat is in Pago Pago, American Samoa. Crew shortages and back problems put him behind schedule, but he plans to resume. Greg Peterson, aboard Glad Bon Anee, left the States last and is somewhere out in the western Pacific hoping to catch up and make it to the Med.

With an infusion of new and experienced crew, I hope to be in Singapore for Christmas, and in the Med by spring of '99. I plan to cruise there during the summer with my wife, put the boat on the hard in Turkey while I return home, then return to the boat in spring. Later in 2000, I plan to sail across the Atlantic, to the Caribbean, then either to Panama or up to Houston for shipping back to the West Coast. So while I anticipated a two-year circumnavigation, it looks like it will be four years. But what's a couple of years here and there?

With my best wishes, Ken Stevens of Newport, Oregon, has taken over Pacifica 2000, and has been holding biennial meetings. They'll probably cruise down to Mexico before sailing across to the South Pacific.

Two things I've learned: 1) It's good to get in lots of ocean experience before heading across an ocean, and 2) Putting on such events is an awful lot of work.

Pat McKinnon
Oak Harbor, WA


Latitude 38 seems like a good source of information, so I‰d like to throw this question into the hopper. I bet everybody heard about the expression, "He sailed the seven seas. . ." My questions are, what are the names of the seas, where are they located, and what's the origin of the expression.

I have researched this question and came up with many answers - most seem fabulistic. Does anyone know the true facts regarding that expression?

Rick F.

Mill Valley

Rick - The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea explains it pretty well: "Seven Seas, a saying which really means all the waters which cover the earth and refers in fact to the seven oceans: the Arctic, Antarctic, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific and Indian."

It's almost certain that the 'seven seas' was merely a slang term of the times to indicate that a sailor had been 'everywhere'. Those who have read the Rub¸iy¸t of Omar Khayy¸m might recall the following lines:

"Which of our coming and departure heeds,

As the seven seas should heed a pebble cast."

By the way, what's the origin of the word 'fabulistic'?


I‰m writing hoping that someone in your readership can help me obtain factory data on the Cheoy Lee Offshore 27. Mine was built in 1971 and is yard hull #2498. I have no data whatsoever and am in particular need of the rigging measurements for all the fixed rigging, forestay, sides and rear.

I know that there are several other ways of figuring out the rigging lengths without having the hard data - such as stepping the mast with ropes and then measuring. I also need spreaders for the mast. Despite what others have told me, I feel the best way is to have the factory specs.

The area that I live in has very little resources for sailing vessels, and I haven't been able to find out if Cheoy Lee is even still in business.

James Rogers
Mystic Wind
P.0. Box 6728, Brookings, OR 97415

James - The last thing you want is the factory data, as specs on production boats were and still are changed constantly. Furthermore, after 27 years, it's quite possible the original mast has been changed or modified. The only way to be sure to get the lengths right is by working with what you have.

Solve your problem as follows: 1) Measure your spar as well as the offsets for the headstay, backstay and shrouds. 2) Call a spar maker with this data so he can determine what size and length spreaders you need. This isn't rocket science as Cheoy Lee rigs weren't built to close tolerances. 3) Based on this data and a little geometry, calculate the length of each stay and shroud. Add two extra feet to each of the lengths. 3) Swage one end of each fitting and fit it on the mast. 4) Raise the mast, holding it in place with halyards. 5) Trim the stays and shrouds to the correct length. 6) Secure the lower ends of the shrouds and stays with Norseman or Sta-Lock fittings, both of which can be reused or redone if you make an error. 7) Go sailing.

If you still have questions, track down our old buddy Sam Vahey who lives in Brookings along with his Santa Cruz 27.

Cheoy Lee is still in business, but now they only sell very large motorsailers and motor yachts. Who knows, they might still have Offshore 27 plans just for kicks. Fax them at (852) 2-307-5577 in Kowloon, Hong Kong.


Over the years I‰ve been reading with interest the letters and stories from people out cruising and those planning a cruise. The one thing I‰ve noticed lately is the increased infatuation with the latest electronic gadgetry. It seems that if you don‰t have all the bells and whistles, you can't make it out there.

Then I came across your requirements for a possible Ha-Ha Across the Pacific. You stated that the event will be limited to "25 well-equipped boats". This got me to wondering if you meant that the boat be well-equipped with the latest in electronic gadgetry, or that the boat be properly equipped for a safe passage? Because as you surely know, the two are not synonymous.

I'm also curious about people who sign their letters 'Planet Earth'. What do they put on their passports?

Steve H.
San Diego

Steve - The following are, in order of importance, the nine most important 'ingredients' in what we believe would be a "well-equipped boat":

1) One - but preferably two - people who have made a similar passage aboard a similar boat.

2) One - but preferably two - people who have made a similar passage aboard a similar boat.

3) One - but preferably two - people who have made a similar passage aboard a similar boat. (Are we getting our point across about the importance of at least one crew with ocean experience?)

4) Good main with good light air and heavy air headsails.

5) GPS.

6) VHF radio.


8) Big anchor with adequate rode.

9) Stereo with good speakers.

Put that stuff on a decent boat and you can sail just about anywhere in safety and reasonable comfort.

If someone sends us a letter or e-mail without a return address, we narrow down the possibilities as much possible, which leaves . . . Planet Earth. Right?


I wuz robbed! I read with nostalgia your report on the '98 Master Mariners Regatta. It took us a week fighting the seas to get to the St. Francis YC starting line on race day. We aboard Manu Tai were in Division A and won the event hands down - despite being told by a yacht that we were hailing that spinnakers were a 'no-no'. This after I took the spinnaker handicap!

Anyhow, I did get a huge trophy - which Exxon, my host, immediately lifted. They were our cheap-ass sponsors, having picked our name out of a hat. We did get a $1.97 mug, and an Exxon flag which we flew at the truck.

Now what really gets my bilge afoul is this: We never heard of nor received that most cherished "golden banner with a strutting gamecock." Just because we came up from L.A. must have loaded their bilges. Can anyone have them make amends and send me a banner? T‰would be nice.

Stan Lieberman
Manu Tai

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