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I'm Carol Elsworthy - aka 'Crew Chief Carol' for the Beneteau 40.7 'Blubyu' - that was featured on the cover of the July 'Latitude'. For some reason, the boat on the cover was identified as 'Moondance' in Thailand.

As I sat at the St. Francis YC having a cocktail watching the start of the Coastal Cup, 'Blubyu' looked fabulous going under the Golden Gate Bridge. Unfortunately, they DNF'd, as there was almost no wind and it took them 25 hours just to get to Davenport. But the next day they had a great sail into Santa Cruz Harbor.

Team 'Blubyu' consists of owner/captain Steve Williams, as well as Tom Bergen, Andrew Gromeeko, Harry Elsworthy, Glenn Harman, Tim Hawkins, Lance Garrett, Rick Hilles, Michael McGrath and Ken Shaw.

Even though the boat was misidentified, it was a tremendous thrill - as you can imagine - for all of us to see our boat on the cover of Latitude. As a result, numerous copies of the July 'Latitude' have been sent across continents to friends and others.

Carol Elsworthy
Team 'Blubyu'

Carol - Here's what happened: We had a great web photo of Moondance in Thailand all ready for the cover, but just hours before it was to go to press the printers discovered it was lacking in the necessary resolution. Yikes! So we dashed through our Coastal Cup photos - we've got very good shots of almost every boat - and picked out 'Blubyu'. While we were able to change the cover, the Contents page - which had the caption for the cover - had already been printed. So we've been waiting for someone like you to ask.

For those who think of Beneteaus primarily as charter boats, after being tweaked and getting ratings benefits, the 40.7s are very competitive. In fact, two of them will be on the Australia's Kenwood Cup team in Hawaii this month.


Over the years I enjoyed reading 'Latitude', and now I've made the decision to take a cruise to the Sea of Cortez for six months starting in the fall. I need a liferaft, but I don't want to buy one just for this trip. Where can I rent one?

Phil Zepeda
Northern California

Phil - The folks at Coast Marine (800-433-8050), Hewett Industrial Supply (415-371-1054) and Sal's Inflatable Services (510-522-1824) all rent liferafts. We'd call each to compare models and prices, but figure on about $175 a week or $450 a month for a six-person raft. But the price varies with the brand of raft and other things.

Some cruisers rent liferafts just for the trip down, figuring that once they get to the relatively benign waters of Mexico, they'll use their dinghy as a liferaft. The problem then becomes shipping the raft back after the week or two trip down. Liferafts are 'hazardous materials' because of the compressed gas and flares, so it can be very tricky or expensive to ship them back by air or even truck. Talk to the liferaft dealers for suggestions.

At some point in the game, it becomes cheaper to buy a new or used raft and then resell it after a cruising season. The companies mentioned above - and others - sell new liferafts, but you could advertise for a used one in the Classy Classifieds. Hope to see you in Mexico - but not in a liferaft!


'Lectronic Latitude - it's another winner. I just discovered it, and now it's part of my day. Great job!

Stuart Kiehl
Sonoma County

Stuart - We're glad you like it. We're enthused because it finally gives us an opportunity to share some great color photographs - particularly of the great cruising destinations of the world - with our readers. We hope that everyone will check it out - you reach 'Lectronic Latitude by way of www.latitude38.com - and send in their color photos and captions.


After reading a grossly inaccurate letter in the May issue from the '$600 million man' about how bad things are in the Sea of Cortez, and then a similar slam against La Paz in a cruise note by the paranoid Mr. Hughes, I can only conclude that 'Latitude' has been receiving letters from a certain group of Americans who have come down to La Paz to live. While it's not true of all of us Americans living in La Paz, a certain number of the group have the following characteristics:

- They have absolutely no regard for others, and believe that La Paz was created solely for their convenience.
- They openly do here what they know they couldn't legally do in the United States.
- After moving to this poor but improving country, they can't understand why things aren't exactly the way they are back in the States.
- They terribly resent any suggestion that their own actions are out of line.
- They completely forget that they are guests in another country, and have little or no understanding of Mexico, Mexicans, or the Mexican culture.

I do not mean to suggest that the rest of us Americans living in La Paz aren't irascible at times, but there are those whose behavior is such that they are never good friends, companions, or neighbors.

It's also unfortunate that one of the writers castigated the Shroyers of Marina de La Paz. Mac and Mary have not only worked hard for many years creating a successful business, but they've always tried to help other passing Americans who asked for it - not just those who rent a berth from them. And unlike the '$600 million dollar man' and Mr. Hughes, the Shroyers do understand Mexican culture and how things work in Mexico.

Ellis Glazier
La Paz

Ellis - As we've remarked before, we don't know what it is about La Paz that seems to attract so many inactive and former cruisers who take such delight in bitching about darn near everyone and everything. And usually over the VHF radio. The common thread many of them have is that they never made it past La Paz, so they remain almost completely ignorant about the nature of foreign cruising.

Let the record show that we at 'Latitude' believe that the Sea of Cortez - particularly between La Paz and Bahia Concepcion - is one of the most spectacularly beautiful, rewarding, and uncrowded cruising areas in the world. If you're not convinced, check out Gerry Cunningham's The Complete Cruising Guide to the Lower Gulf of the Sea of Cortez, which lists more than 50 anchorages just between La Paz and Puerto Escondido. Furthermore, La Paz is a terrific gateway city, one that's relatively inexpensive, has just about everything a cruiser could need, and is genuinely foreign. No, Mexicans in La Paz don't pander to Americans. And no, they don't do everything in La Paz the way they do it in Dana Point - and thank God for that!


I enjoyed reading about El Salvador in the June issue. When I first visited the country in '82, I had many of the concerns expressed in the 'El Salvador At A Glance' sidebar printed within the 'A Memorial Stop' article. But during my tour of El Salvador, the warmth and kindness of the people - similar to that described in the article - put my fears to rest.

With respect to the comments about El Salvador's political and economic problems, I found that - as in most disputes - there are four sides to every story: your side, the other guy's side, the media's side, and what really happened. My conclusion is that the people spoke, when they chose, in free, fair and open elections to be governed by what your article described as the "ultra right-wing" ARENA party. Since the mid-1980s, representatives from all over the world - including the Organization of American States, the European Community, and both major political parties in the United States - have witnessed and certified each of the national elections. In three elections, a majority of the people voted for ARENA's presidential candidate. Twice I served as a member of this international team.

In the last 18 years, I have visited the country at least 25 times. I have met perhaps 1,000 Salvadorans, including four presidents, several of the ex-guerrilla commandants, at least two criminals and five of the people mentioned in the articles. Although I have never visited the specific marinas mentioned in the article, I have discussed them with several friends, who also give them rave reviews.

I can speak, however, with in depth knowledge and affection for the country and its people. In spite of its population density, El Salvador is - after the rainy season - certainly one of the most beautiful countries in the Western Hemisphere. The gods have blessed it with graceful beaches, towering volcanoes and tropical rain forests. There are even several significant Mayan ruins.

The people of El Salvador are extraordinarily friendly, and the greeting received by your correspondents was typical of the welcome offered to visitors. I have heard people from Latin America say, "Some of us don't like the United States, and we can't stand gringos. Others don't appreciate your country, but enjoy having Americans as friends. But the Salvadorans truly like the United States and love Americans."

I can say with pride and honor that some of my closest friends are from El Salvador. As time goes by and more people discover 'The Forgotten Middle', I am sure that they will join me in praising El Salvador, its culture and its people.

John Cotton
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico

John - We've received two more glowing reports from cruisers who have visited the marinas in El Salvador. In fact, we're holding them back so as to give equal time to other parts of the cruising world. But we think the developments in El Salvador - for both cruisers and the citizens - are very encouraging.


I read your article about cell phones in Mexico, and a subsequent article in the June issue about Internet in the Bay. You'll be happy to know that a homegrown company, Globalstar of San Jose, provides a new portable satellite phone service throughout the United States, offshore, and throughout Mexico. As I write this, the service is rolling out worldwide, and there will be global coverage within a year or two.

The beauty of Globalstar is that the phone will operate in standard cellular mode when you are within cell range so that you don't spend satellite minutes when you have terrestrial cell coverage. When you're down in Mexico, it's the same thing, as you only go into satellite mode when you don't have ground cell service. They also sell a marine kit, although you don't need one unless you want to talk from inside your boat. In addition, there are lots of deals on phones and minutes.

In the future, Globalstar will be rolling out data service, which will allow email and Internet access.

Mike Cunningham
Northern California

Mike - When you move on to 'Sightings', you'll read that Qualcomm and Globalstar have become the official communications system of Baja Ha-Ha VII. In fact, every Ha-Ha entry has received an offer of special pricing on the phones. During the Ha-Ha, the Grand Poobah will be using the Qualcomm phone and Globalstar satellite system to get the daily weather report for the fleet, to talk to his kids and for any emergency communication that might be needed.

A couple of quick clarifications. The Qualcomm phone is trimodal: analog, digital and satellite. Because it uses a totally different technology - 'bent pipe' - than did the now defunct Iridium system, the satellite service is far more reliable and the sound quality as good as with regular cell phones. The different technology also means there are limitations to the coverage. By the time the fall cruising season starts, all of North and Central America as well as the Caribbean and Europe will be covered, but more than 250 miles offshore and many other parts of the world will not be covered. Full offshore coverage will not be available anytime soon.

Data service will also be available prior to the start of the Ha-Ha, so the Poobah will be using Qualcomm-Globalstar to email daily reports back for posting on 'Lectronic Latitude. The data speed will only be 9600 baud - like SailMail - so both sending back photos and surfing the net would be ridiculously expensive.

For more details, see this month's 'Sightings'.


While reading page 138 of the May issue, I came across a 'Sightings' piece titled 'Speed Projections for a 52-ft Morrelli & Melvin Catamaran'. Gasp, that's our boat!

On May 23, we finally launched 'Adagio' in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, and have sailed her two times since. We first sailed her on May 28 when we took her out for about four hours in lightish winds and beautiful flat water. With 12 knots of apparent wind, our GPS showed us sailing at 9.7 knots at a true wind angle of about 130 degrees. This correlates pretty well with the table of projections in 'Latitude'. These were not your usual bluewater ocean cruising conditions, of course, as we were sheltered from both ocean swells and wind waves.

We didn't sail her again in the subsequent few weeks because she was hauled out of the water again for final touches. Steve and I hope to begin moving aboard by early July, and do as much sailing as possible before we depart for New Caledonia mid-August. But we think our boat is a real beauty to behold and well worth the wait. Our first taste of sailing her really made us smile.

We will send you more first hand reports and photos as we collect them - and hope to send you some real-time performance figures for this cat.

Dorothy and Stephen Darden
'Adagio', Morrelli & Melvin 52
New Zealand

Readers - The Dardens are former residents of Tiburon who had their cat custom built in New Zealand.


We read the letter from 'Mr. C' regarding his 'boat-building blues'. Although we sympathize with him, there is another side to this proverbial coin. We are just starting the process of building our dream boat, beginning with a Cal 46 bare hull that was factory-built. Obviously, we have our work cut out for us, but we don't think the project has to be as dismal as Mr. C. suggests. We have already put aside the finances to complete the project, and my husband has the skills and time necessary to devote to the construction. We have rented a lot across the street from our house - the hull is already there - so our commute to 'work' only requires stumbling across the street with a cup of coffee. We plan on having 'Seayanika' completed within two years.

One of the principal reasons we decided to build our own boat instead of purchasing a slightly used model is the knowledge that, once built, we will know everything there is to know about our boat's strengths and weaknesses, the location of all systems, and where to look when something goes wrong. This intimate knowledge of one's boat can be of vital importance during an emergency. Nobody said building our own boat was going to be easy, but I believe the end result is worth the effort: a vessel of which you can be proud and confident, and which meets your particular needs.

Erik and Katriana Vader
The future 'Seayanika'

Erik & Katriana - We just hope you were realistic in your planning. In the March/April 'Multihulls' magazine, Robert and Gayle Ingersoll had the following advice to prospective do-it-yourselfers after getting their boat sailable but without an interior.

We paraphrase their words for clarity: Those contemplating an extensive boatbuilding project should at least double the projected hours needed to do the job - then add another 20% more for good measure. Having done so, they shouldn't have underestimated the required time by more than half. The same should be done for cost estimates.

But based on the following letter, perhaps there is reason for optimism.


'Snow Dragon II' is an aluminum cutter with round bilges and a pilothouse. She's 49 feet on deck, displaces 38,000 pounds, and draws almost five feet with the board up. We launched her 2.5 years after taking delivery of a bare aluminum hull and deck. A year after that we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge on a trip that took us to the Channel Islands and Ensenada. She performed wonderfully on our summer cruise, and we're really happy we built her. Here's how we did it - and maintained some degree of sanity.

We had previously cruised our Hunter 31 for three years from Valdez, Alaska, to Brisbane, Australia - so we both knew we loved and wanted to continue the lifestyle. This experience helped us to know what we wanted in our new boat - and we spent six months searching for one we could modify or refit. Having built two houses, we had an idea how much work would be involved, so building a boat was not our first choice.

While cruising aboard our Hunter, we met Dick Koopman, a Dutch designer, and fell in love with his boat. After finding nothing in the used market, Chris called him in the Netherlands to briefly discuss how much the design would cost - then told him to go ahead. A little while later we flew to Holland to go over the final details and to inspect yards that were building other boats he had designed. A couple of months later, the final plans arrived, and we made a final decision on where to have the hull built.

We'd already talked with some West Coast builders, but in the end placed an order for the hull and deck to be built in Holland - where they are extremely familiar with Dick Koopman's designs. Because of the detailed plans provided by the designer, we were able to design the interior fairly completely prior to the arrival of the hull. So when the hull did arrive 11 months after placing the order, we were ready to go.

We put the hull at the old Sanford-Wood Boatyard - which four months later became KKMI. We were a bit apprehensive about what the new owners would think about inheriting a project boat in their yard, but quickly learned that Ken Keefe and Paul Kaplan were willing to let us continue. In this project we've had a number of lucky breaks, but that ranks right up there with first meeting the designer. KKMI was a wonderful yard to work in, and the moral support of pleasant people and other boat workers was a huge plus. It's inspiring to see other people getting things done, and this helped to keep us on track. So despite the distractions of the interesting boats that came through the yard, we generally managed to stay focused. In addition, having the boat in the yard was an excellent way to have access to top quality technical skills when we didn't feel confident to do something ourselves.

Chris worked a regular job while I worked on the boat - and took our son Colin back and forth to school and other activities. As soon as the boat had the start of an interior, Colin got a desk where he could do homework. After a while, I mounted a basketball hoop above the door of my workshop container. We took time off during construction to have a life outside the boatyard. We seldom worked on the boat for more than one day per weekend, we took ski weekends in the winter, and had at least one vacation each summer.

As far as our skills are concerned, we probably had a slight edge on most amateurs. We've both worked in residential construction, done most of the work on our two houses, and had remodeled and upgraded our previous boat. Frances had run her own woodworking business for many years, we were comfortable with electrical, plumbing and heating systems. Though not a mechanic, Chris can change the odd engine part. The major tasks we hired out were: 1) Additional welding on the hull; 2) Having the interior sprayed with insulaton; 3) Engine installation and shaft alignment; 4) Fabrication of the radar arch, stanchions and pulpit; 5) Ordering a rig from JP Boatworks - who designed it in conjunction with the designer and then installed it; and 6) Having refrigeration put in a box I had designed. All this was in addition to hull lifting and moving, the crane for stepping the mast and those kinds of things.

The design and construction of the whole thing - including the design and construction of the hull - took 4.5 years. The first year we weren't in 'construction mode' because the hull was being built by somebody else. We spent 2.5 years on the hard, and another year in the water living aboard while we finished fitting the boat out. When we left, 'Snow Dragon II' was completely seaworthy and outfitted with an autopilot, storm shutters, spare anchor rode, storm sails and all the other things that normally get done during the first year of cruising.

Why do we think it worked for us? We'd already done construction projects together, and were used to working with each other. We had most of the necessary skills, and what we didn't know how to do we hired out. I, for example, would never be able to weld a hull so fair. We had a design we loved and knew the boat would be very well built. In addition, I worked on the boat as a job, while Chris and Colin would occasionally help during the week and Chris worked on the weekends. But we did other things as well. We'd been cruising, so we had even more motivation to complete the job. Besides, we actually enjoy working on boats, so it wasn't constant torture.

In the end, we had a boat that we'd never otherwise have been able to afford. If we'd just wanted a boat to take us cruising for a few years, we'd have bought a used one and made do. Since we'd just finished with that approach, we were ready for our dream boat.

Some general thoughts for others thinking of building their own boat: If you don't have most of the required skills, add in the time to learn them. As wonderful as cruising is, it's just another way to experience life. Building anything with a partner can be stressful, and building a house has probably broken up more relationships than boatbuilding ever will. If you're not having fun, you're doing something wrong - and that includes building a boat.

Frances Brann
'Snow Dragon II'
Valdez, Alaska/San Rafael


I'm planning to set sail in November, but have not yet figured out the email question. I can bring along a laptop, but while reading a recent 'Changes' I came across a story about a "gizmo made by Sharp" that you can use to connect your laptop to any pay phone to connect to the Internet for sending email. No computer stores know what I'm talking about, so I thought I'd turn to the sailing hub for some answers. Thanks for listening and being so wonderful!

Ali Walker
Haida 26, 'Blew Dragon'

Ali - The 'gizmo' you're interested in - and the associates in computer stores are clueless about - is the Sharp TM-20. This stands for the TelMail E-Mail Organizer, which lists for $99.99. This half-pound, 7-inch by 4-inch device with a reduced-size keyboard eliminates the need to use a computer when sending or receiving emails.

Based on the reports we've gotten, the Sharp TM-20 - unlike many other electronic products - has proven itself to be both useful and reliable. In fact, four or five letters in this issue came via a TM-20 and Pocketmail.


I enjoy reading 'Latitude' - especially articles such as the one on the loss of the 'Painkiller' in the Caribbean and the rescue of her crew, and the interview with Captain Larry Hall. The latter is my kind of Coastie. I joined the Coast Guard in 1940 and left in '46. I have nothing but fond memories of that time of my life.

I'd like to congratulate the crew of 'Painkiller' for being so well prepared, but I'd like to mention a couple of things. First, if they had had a collision mat onboard, they may have been able to prevent the boat from sinking - or it might have at least slowed the sinking. West Marine sells such mats for just over $100 - a small price for how much it might be able to help. The one I have is mounted on the underside of my cockpit locker hatch, where I can get at it easily.

After my son read about the 'Painkiller' sinking, he suggested that we conduct some practice drills - something that I had been suggesting for a long time. I could understand his previous reluctance, since the drill I used to hate most in the Coast Guard was the collision drill. But back then we were dealing with a huge, cumbersome mat. The mat West Marine sells is just the right size and shape - a triangle - for a sailboat.

About 15 years ago - after reading about several sailboats that sank - despite being dropped several pumps, some of which didn't work and some of which the stricken crew couldn't recover - I wrote an article to a sailing magazine suggesting that sailors could make their own mats. 'A Band-Aid for First-Aid' was the title. After all, the danger from floating objects is always a possibility - even more so in the Northwest where there are a lot of logs.

Norman and Ken Andersen
'Grateful Sailor'
Tarpon Springs, Florida

Norman & Ken - We've always been a little skeptical of how well such mats might work, but then last month we received a piece from a Bay Area sailor who used such a mat to good effect after hitting an unlit fishing boat in the Caribbean.

As for Capt. Hall moving back to D.C., we'll really miss him. He did more for the Coast Guard and Coast Guard/mariner relations than the brass back in Washington will ever realize.


We're cruising from Mexico to French Polynesia on the Milk Run this year, and are going to hang in the Raiatea-Tahaa area for the season. At the end of the season we'll haul the boat and then return next year. When we went to make a reservation to haul, the fellow told us there was a 10% discount if we were members of BOAT/U.S. "No problem," I said, "we can become members quickly."

I was wrong. When we got back to our boat, we pulled out the May issue of 'Latitude' and found six ads for BOAT/U.S. But not one of them had an email address - which is all that we LSB and USB SailMail types can use out here. Only one BOAT/U.S. ad even had a web address, and that was for towing. In this part of French Polynesia, web access is $5 U.S. for 15 minutes, so we had no way to communicate. As such, we think it would be a good idea if you alerted your advertisers to the fact that including an email address in their ads would garner them some additional business.

We came back to the Bay Area for my daughter's wedding in May, and had a long order waiting for us at West Marine - thanks to their email staff, which had communicated with us here in French Polynesia extensively. When we got to the Sausalito store, they had everything waiting for us.

We still want to join BOAT/U.S., so if you can give us their email address we'll contact them. And thanks again for the rag - and the effort your staff puts into it.

Bob Walker and Dian Drake
Milk Running

Bob & Dian - We'll have the ad guys pass your suggestion on to our advertisers. Meanwhile, try www.boatus.com. And thanks for the compliments.

By the way, if you get a chance, take a nice shot of the two of you in a sweet tropical setting - say from inside the Tahaa lagoon with the sun setting behind Bora Bora - so we can post it as the photo of the day on 'Lectronic Latitude.


I'd like to make a brief comment regarding your response to my 'Ladies, It's Half Your Boat' letter that appeared on page 68 of the June issue. I believe that you may have missed the context of my point.

I didn't say that I lose respect for the women who don't do the 'Baja Bash' or other long sea passages with their husbands or boyfriends. What I said was that I was disappointed in the women who just give up after they've had their fun and leave it up to the man they love to find a friend - or as it turns out most times, a total stranger - to get their boat somewhere secure.

No, I don't choose to make long passages either, but I do believe in having a mutually agreed upon 'Plan B' if things don't work out.

Heather Kurashewich
Nevada - Back Home Safe and Sound

Heather - Sorry if we misunderstood you, but even after your clarification our reaction would have been the same. If the woman in our life said, "Look loverboy, the only time I have fun on the boat is when she's at anchor in a calm spot in Mexico. If you want to take the boat down there for the winter, I'll join you for the good part - but getting it back is your responsibility" - our response would be, "It would be great if you enjoyed sailing more, but since you don't, that's a reasonable compromise." Most men we know are more than happy to go along with agreements such as that.


In the June 'Letters', Wendy Hinman of Seattle touted living aboard a 30-40 foot boat - at $300-350 per month - as an affordable way to live compared to living in a $1,000/month apartment. You failed to correct this misconception. Where do these people learn their math?

Let's take that 40-foot boat paying $350/month in slip fees. Who is paying for the boat? A current safe investment returns 8-10%. Assuming the value of the boat is $50-$70 thousand, the liveaboard is 'paying' an additional $500 a month to own that boat. Now we're up to around $850 a month.

Oops! Did we forget the effects of depreciation? Assuming that this is an older boat - a fair assumption, given the price and size - the depreciation is probably only 5-10% a year (worse on a newer boat) to add another $400/month. Now we are at $1,250 a month.

Of course, there are other maintenance and repair expenses with owning a boat that will inflate this number even further. Let us not even get into comparisons of dollars per month per square foot of living space. It gets way too depressing. Then there's the absence of flush toilets and real showers on a boat.

The only way to live aboard economically is to find a small, inexpensive and probably somewhat derelict vessel. Then park it in a remote and rundown marina, and live in a manner that most normal folks would not condone.

As one who lived aboard in Ballena Isle Marina, Alameda, and enjoyed the hell out of it for several years, I am aware of all kinds of reasons to enjoy that lifestyle - but saving money is not one of them. It's time to dispel that rumor - and scare off the potential liveaboard who is only looking for cheap rent - and keep those berths for the serious boaters.

Jeff Duerr
Landlocked in Sacramento

Jeff - Okay, we think we catch your drift. Living aboard is a really, really, really expensive form of housing.


We were just about to send in our entry fee to the Baja Ha-Ha folks, but San Diego, the host city, has put a stop to that. Since there is no berth space for big boats, our 60-foot ketch can't be accommodated. Our last hope was Sunroad Marina. We were willing to pay the fees, but were just notified they don't have any space. And they say there won't be any room for even temporary liveaboards until October 31.

Sorry guys, after sailing down from the Seattle area, we're not into 'heaving to' off Coronado for three months. So our Force 50 will have to go elsewhere. You might let other big boat owners know there is 'no room at the inn'.

Ken and Angi Burns
Washington State Port Commissioner

Ken & Angi - First of all, you're saying 'sorry' to the wrong folks. As we've tried to make clear to everyone, 'Latitude 38' founded and continues to support the Ha-Ha, but it's owned and run by Baja Ha-Ha, Inc., an entirely different company.

Secondly, we don't know if you folks in the Northwest get any news about California, but the economy has been pretty good down here for a couple of years. When it's good, people buy boats and the very limited number of marina slips fill up fast. The bottom line is that there have been fewer legal liveaboard slips for 60-foot boats in the popular areas of Northern and Southern California in the last couple of years than there are parking spaces for cars in San Francisco. And we presume you at least know there aren't any parking spaces in downtown San Francisco. So don't even bother coming to California - or Mexico - if you need confirmed reservations for a berth six months in advance.

Before you freak out, understand that there's nothing new about this. One month before the start of the last Ha-Ha there were a total of four empty berths in all of San Diego - and the 126 Ha-Ha starters managed to work through it. Here are a few of the ways we suggest you and others from the Northwest pull it off:

1) Head south later - like mid-August or September when the weather is at least less threatening. Two Julys ago the Coast Guard up at Humboldt Bay had to come to the assistance of seven southbound cruising boats from the Northwest!

2) When you get to San Francisco Bay, you're probably not going to find any legal liveaboard space in the immediate Bay Area. But ask around because things change day by day. Also check marinas a little ways away from the Central Bay. If you can't find a berth, you can anchor off Sausalito, at Hospital Cove, in the lee of the Tiburon Peninsula, and at scores of places up in the Delta. Lots of cruisers have had months of fun doing just this.

2) Half Moon Bay is a great place to anchor for a night or two, and Santa Cruz and Monterey have enough attractions to make four to seven day stops worthwhile. And don't forget Stillwater Cove off Carmel, San Simeon, Morro Bay - the most hospitable yacht club on the coast - or Port San Luis. These are terrific places to visit - particularly in August and September, when the weather is usually warmer and more tranquil.

Once you round Point Conception, there's about 35 miles of lovely and unpopulated 'lost coast' that has always been one of our favorites. And there's no time like the fall to catch great waves at The Ranch. Chances are slim of finding a 60-foot guest slip in Santa Barbara, a really lovely town you could spend several weeks enjoying. Fortunately, you can anchor for free to the east of Stearns Wharf.

Did we mention the Channel Islands? There are only about 100 places to anchor out at these dramatically underutilized islands. There are great places for hiking, bird-watching, surfing, and anchor practice - and general communing with nature. Once again, August, September and early October are the best times of year.

Ventura and Oxnard are often not as crowded as other harbors - we pulled into Oxnard late one afternoon in May and they had a side-tie for our 63-foot cat - so you can often find room there for a couple of days. Once you get into Santa Monica Bay, Paradise Park is good for a night on the hook, and during the week you can almost certainly find guest berthing in Marina del Rey. King Harbor might be tight.

From Marina del Rey, it's a nice sail over to Catalina, where if you arrive on a weekday, you'll almost certainly be able to snag a mooring or a good spot to set the hook. You could enjoy an entire summer at Catalina, but in the off chance you get bored after a week, sail back to Long Beach. The harbormasters at both the Downtown Marina and Alamitos Bay have always done a great job of saving the end-ties for transient boats, so chances are decent you'll be able to stay for the two-week maximum. And before or after, you can also anchor out inside the breakwater behind one of the oil islands. We did that in April and had a great time. By the way, the sailing conditions inside the breakwater are the finest and most reliable in Southern California.

When you get down to Newport, where the wind hardly blows, you get to enjoy an entirely different kind of experience. If the harbormaster doesn't have any mooring buoys available, you can usually find space at the anchorage in the middle of the bay. You set your hook in about 12-feet with a glue-like bottom. From the anchorage in Newport Beach, the affluent life passes right before your eyes: sportfishing boats, little sailboats, big sailboats, canoes, paddle boards - it's all there. If you brought your bike, Newport is a great place to ride. When hurricanes in Mexico are sending up big surf, don't miss the death-defying show at the 'dirty old Wedge'. From Newport, it's just a few miles down a lovely coast to Laguna, where you can drop the hook in Emerald Cove, and Dana Point, where you can anchor inside or outside the breakwater. After the urbanity of Newport and Dana Point, you'll probably want to head back to Catalina for another week of peace and quiet.

If you want to continue heading south, there's Oceanside, which sometimes has guest slips. The next stop is Mission Bay, where you can drop the hook in the calm waters of Mariner's Cove for 72 hours and check out all the action on Pacific Beach. It's a few more miles down the coast to San Diego Bay, which has a number of anchorages and where the Poobah hopes the harbormaster will again set aside an anchorage just for Ha-Ha boats. And by the time you get there, you might discover there are a couple of open slips. After all, the sportfishing boats will have already headed for Cabo and the Bisbee fishing tournament. In addition, in this tight berth market, marinas aren't interested in making long term commitments way in advance. But if they've got a berth and you're right there - you're in there.

So the truth of the matter is that if you're really going cruising, why wait until Mexico? There are countless great places to stop on the way to San Diego, and with a little flexibility, there is almost unlimited space. If you need confirmation that the above is not baloney, we just got an email from Ty and Toni Knudsen of the Westsail 43 'Sundowner'. They left Northern California about four months ago on a 'take our sweet time' trip to South America, and have made it all the way to Newport Beach. Here's how they did it:

"We stopped at Pillar Point (Half Moon Bay), Monterey, San Simeon, Port San Luis, Coho Anchorage, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, and made many trips out to the Channel Islands. We anchored all around the Channel Islands and hiked wherever we could, and rowed our dinghy into the caves. Our favorite Channel Island was Santa Barbara Island, where we were fortunate enough to spot some quite rare birds. We also explored around Santa Catalina and are now in Newport. We're headed back to Catalina tomorrow. By the way, our wind generator, upgraded battery bank and 12-volt refrigeration combination give us extra free time to explore inland and visit friends overnight ashore. Ah, freedom!"

Readers - After we sent the above response to Ken and Angi, we got the following response:

"Now it's obvious why 'Latitude' is the best sailing rag. Also, we're not giving up. We'll try a few tricks we've learned since moving aboard in '78. I may be retired, but not tired."


A pet peeve of mine has always been the remarkably poor understanding that boaters have of the proper lights to display at night. Returning through the mass of boats after the fireworks display off Sausalito was the last straw. Less than half of the boats I saw were displaying legal lights. In some cases it was because bulbs were out, but in other cases ignorance was the only excuse.

Sailors should realize that navigating in a crowded harbor at night is hard enough, so I ask them please not to make it even more difficult by turning on whatever lights they feel are right. The rules are very specific, and they are specific for a reason. The direction of any properly lighted boat can be identified by other skippers and a correct response to collision courses determined. When the lights are not right, it's impossible to determine what type of vessel you are looking at and which way it is going.

I'm not even going to mention the number of different mistakes that the stinkpotters made, but I thought sailors were supposed to know better. Why do sailors not understand that they should not have both their masthead light on with their deck level lights? To demonstrate the importance of the rules, take the following test describing the vessels that would display the following light pattern:

1) Two red lights, one over the other. Answer: A Vessel Not Under Command, meaning one that is underway, not anchored, but unable to control its motion - or the port quarter of a sailboat with his tricolor and his deck lights on.

2) Two white lights, one over the other. Answer: No legal vessel - but a sailboat with both his tricolor and his deck lights on.

3) A red light over a white light. Answer: A vessel fishing with lines, not underway - or a sailboat with his tricolor and his steaming light . . . like a certain 63-foot catamaran I saw the other night.

Bill Kinney

Bill - A 63-foot catamaran out on the evening of the Fourth - that sounds suspiciously like 'Profligate'. Our only excuse for showing the wrong lights was - it seems hard to believe after all these years - unadulterated ignorance.

Here's how we think it happened. When we bought a boat new in '81, it only came with a masthead tricolor - as opposed to both a masthead tricolor and the decklights that would have been necessary for being legal when powering and showing the steaming light. Since we naturally assumed that a new boat would have the required lights, when it got dark we turned on the masthead tricolor, and when we started motoring, we added the steaming light. Which, as you point out, is illegal. Nonetheless, we became used to it.

We then bought a much-used boat, that again only had a masthead tricolor. So our improper use was merely reinforced. Then we bought 'Big O', which had decklights, so for 12 years we were no longer a navigation hazard when motoring at night. In any event, when it came time to have 'Profligate' built, we ordered up all the lights on the mast - and had long forgotten that any others would be required when motoring at night. We hope that makes sense.

In any event, we're scrambling to get the proper deck lights installed so we can be legal when motoring at night. And we thank you for taking the time to correct our embarrassing error.


I'm the "unknown owner" of 'Second Nature' that was in the Catnip Cup to Vallejo on June 10. I sent you an email in May to enlist for the rally, but I'm sure you receive enough email to choke a Univac. We had to leave Vallejo early and did not get much time to socialize, so we are looking forward to the next catamaran rally.

I'm not as concerned about being listed as an "unknown owner" as I am with the type of cat I have being incorrectly listed. She's a Prout Quest 33, which I purchased in Acapulco and sailed here to San Francisco. She has an interesting history. The English couple who purchased her new, motored her through 250 locks in Europe, then cruised the Med for two years, going as far east as Turkey and Greece. Then they sailed across the Atlantic to Barbados, then through the Panama Canal up to Mexico. The amazing thing is that the couple were 71-year-old newlyweds when they started the cruise!

My hope is to retrace the boat's tracks and take her back to Europe. I don't have any second thoughts about taking this cat offshore.

Jerry Peters
'Second Nature', Prout Quest 33
Valley Springs

Jerry - Thanks for being understanding our of omission and error. We do the best we can, but sometimes it's just not good enough. As for the 71-year-old newlyweds taking off on a cruise, that's great!


While reading 'Lectronic Latitude, I found a short piece and a link to the sailboat 'Satori' from the movie 'The Perfect Storm'. When I returned to the site to forward it to a friend who had turned me on to the book, the reference was gone. Where did it go? Why was it taken off and where can I find it?

Both the magazine and your Web site keep getting better.

Pete Schmidt
Via Cyberspace

Pete - We pulled it because we found a mistake in it. A revised version of it was put back up on the July 12 edition of 'Lectronic Latitude - which as you know can be accessed via www.latitude38.com.


In a recent edition of 'Latitude', some letters alluded to unwarranted tickets being given to drivers of rental cars in La Paz. Having just checked in to Marina de La Paz, we met up with Ernie and Emily Mendez on 'Quiet Times', long time friends who just completed a four-year circumnavigation! While they had their boat hauled for painting, they rented a small vehicle for several weeks.

Ernie told us that as they were headed out to dinner one night, he was stopped by a motorcycle policeman after completing a right turn. Speaking in fluent Spanish, Ernie had no trouble understanding the officer telling him that some pedestrians had been near the crosswalk. When Ernie started to protest, he was further told that he might have to be taken to a local physician for a sobriety check, and then to the police station. The fine would be 250 pesos - about $25 U.S. Since his wallet was empty, he asked if there was any other way to solve the problem. After some hemming and hawing, Emily produced 50 pesos - about $5 U.S. The officer told him that he was sure this would take care of the 'problem'.

A week later, two more people staying at Marina Palmira for six months rented a car - and were likewise stopped. After much talk in broken English and discussion of their long term residence, they were released with only a warning.

We subsequently had some lengthy discussions on this phenomenon, and speculated that it might be a result of the police only making $200 to $250 a month. We also talked about ways to prevent the problem, and decided that after renting a car in La Paz, the first order of business would be to find some paper to match the color of the car, then cover the rental car advertising. Next, add some political slogans. Finally, quickly drive down one of the many dusty streets to mess up the shiny paint - and blend in with the local cars and populace. Which, after all, is the whole idea of cruising.

'Elixir' will be in La Paz until November when we return for more cruising.

Jack Baker
'Elixir', Island Packet 40
San Francisco

Jack - Different folks have different ways of looking at those incidents. Some will feel that paying $5 to solve a phony problem is an outrage. But there's another school - which we attend - that believes as long as 'the bite' isn't done in a particularly hostile manner, and isn't too great, that it's part of the 'charm' of Mexico.

For decades some public employees in Mexico have augmented their sub-subsistence level pay with periodical mordida. It will be interesting to see whether this continues after Vicente Fox, the new president, takes office in December. He's vowed to clean up corruption, but what if - as many feel - it long ago became part of the policeman's compensation package?

For what it's worth, in the more than 20 years we've been visiting Mexico, we've never been subjected to mordida. True, a policeman in Ensenada once stopped us and demanded $20. We had, however, been pulling a boat trailer all night from Puerto Escondido, and had entered town in excess of the speed limit, on the wrong side of the road, and had somehow sailed through a red light. Since we had indeed "broken all the rules", we paid the $10 U.S. to "solve the problem". And we tipped the guy another $10 for being so nice. We spent that evening at home with our kids in the Bay Area as opposed to inside the Ensenada jail. We felt it was money well spent.


I had a rather interesting situation arise most recently when I responded to a July Classy Classified for a "Newport 28, 1980".

It turned to be a Newport 27. Nonetheless, I met the person who responded to my call at the appointed time at Brisbane Marina, Sierra Point, to look over and sea trial the boat. When I was done, I made an all cash offer for the full asking price of $12,000. I waived hauling the boat for a survey, making a clear title the only condition of my purchasing the boat. He wouldn't accept it! He said he wanted to show the boat to a few more people to see if he could get more for it.

This individual later phoned me, and at this time it was revealed that his name wasn't on the title and that he was, in fact, selling the boat for an undisclosed friend who lives in Incline Village, Nevada. Since I wouldn't increase my full price offer, the boat has apparently been purchased by someone else - at least I have heard nothing to the contrary.

My suggestion to 'Latitude' is that you may want to consider adopting a classified ad policy that requires a copy of the Certificate of Title or Document with the name of the person placing the ad listed on Title or Document. At the present time, it appears that some of 'Latitude's classifieds may be placed by non-owners acting in the capacity of unlicensed brokers.

I have sailed and owned boats for over 30 years, and this qualifies as one of those 'interesting' experiences. I've enjoyed 'Latitude' for years.

Don Holmes

Don - We didn't include the other person's name because we weren't able to contact him. But unless we're mistaken, there's nothing illegal about a person representing the owner in the sale of a boat. After all, if you can do it with houses and cars, why not boats? Our understanding is that a person only needs a license to sell such things if they do it as a business or advertise it as a business.


I would like to get the email address of Jonathan and Joell White, who recently have written about cruising in Mexico aboard their Catfisher 32 'Jo-Jo'. The Catfisher 32 is the boat I have been dreaming about, and therefore I would like to contact them. Can you help me?

Claude Petit

Claude - Rather than giving out their email address indiscriminately, we prefer to print yours so they can contact you if they wish - and we're pretty sure they will.


There are few greater pleasures for an ex-Bay Area sailor than reading a fairly new issue of 'Latitude' while anchored off a tropical island and sipping a cold beer. Such was my joy last week, as visitors to our friends on 'Gingi', formerly from Half Moon Bay, delivered the June edition here in Panama. I was all smiles until I came to an entry by Joe Larive of the Hunter 40 'La Rive' in the 'Changes' section. I am a firm believer in everyone's right to have an opinion about something, but I feel I would be remiss if I didn't share my opinion - and that of other cruisers here - about Larive's 'trashing' of the wonderful country of Panama.

After admitting that his views on Panamanians - that they should be given trash cans and shown how to use them - were based on spending a total of a week here, perhaps Larive didn't give the country or her people a reasonable chance to impress him. I wonder, for example, if he sailed among the dozens of magnificent, unspoiled islands off the Pacific Coast of western Panama? Did he anchor in crystal clear lagoons, backed by perfect crescent-shaped beaches lined with swaying palm trees? Did he sail into magnificent Bahia Honda, where he would have been greeted by the local natives in their canoes interested in selling vegetables and fruits? Did he journey up the unforgettable River Pedregal, with its sometimes twisting narrows and strong tides, and view the grandeur of the mountains looming in the distance? Has he driven through the state of Chiriqui, which has some of the most luscious scenery to be found anywhere in the world? Did he enjoy the hospitality of the charming and gracious people in the town of David? Has he swum in the Las Perlas Islands? Did he sail over to Taboga Island - also known as the Island of Flowers - and hike up the public trail through the rain forest? We didn't see a piece of trash the entire way.

After sharing his letter with other cruisers, we all made a point to look at the trash situation when we went into Panama City. Yes, there is some trash - but not nearly the amount that you'd find in any city in America. Did he not see the clean-up crews in their yellow T-shirts, working all day picking up litter? Did he not see the shopkeepers assiduously sweeping the sidewalks in front of their stores each morning? What about the myriad teams with their weed whackers, keeping the grass well cut? Does he not realize that more land has been set aside in Panama as national parks than in Costa Rica, which has the reputation for being the most 'eco-conscious' country in Central America?

From our perspective, Panama is making a concerted effort to grow and attract tourism after the huge amounts of American dollars left with the hand-over of the Canal. Larive does this country an injustice by blowing it off after just a few days.

I'm also not sure what he is referring to when he mentions ". . . the beautiful Balboa YC . . ." as the club burned down in the last century and has not been rebuilt. All that remains is a long pier leading to a small floating fuel dock. There are no facilities, no showers, no stores nearby - nothing except a small, rickety-looking haul-out railway. I was there this morning to make sure it had not suddenly been rebuilt, and it had not. However, you can tie up to one of their moorings for an outrageous fee and pay the highest charge in Panama for diesel. Or, if you don't want to get continuously 'waked' by the passing freighters, you can pay them $25 for the privilege of buying fuel there. It's better to anchor at Flamenco Island, where there is a helpful little cruising community, and you can get fuel by calling Nestor's Taxi on Channel 6.

I wish Larive would spend more time here and walk around with his eyes open rather than down. Panama has turned out to be the country that we - and many other cruisers - were looking for in the tropics: Islands out of paradise, a cosmopolitan city where you can buy anything you want, and the fabled San Blas Islands as a special treat! Oh yes, Panama City is no more dangerous than the Bay Area - you just don't go to certain areas at night, just as you don't hang around Hunter's Point or parts of Oakland after dark.

One last benefit of Panama is that unlike Costa Rica, where most cruisers have either been ripped off or know someone who has, we feel secure leaving our dinghies and boats at any anchorage. Friends have been leaving their dinghy unlocked at the restaurant near Flamenco Island for two years and have never had a problem. Thievery is not the national sport here. Panama is a marvelous country and we're glad to be spending our time here.

Captain Jonathan and Joell White
Catfisher 32, 'JoJo'
ex-Bay Area/Currently loving Panama

Jonathan & Joell - In fairness to Larive, he passed through the Balboa YC before it burned down. Incidentally, Craig Owings, the Commodore of the Pedro Miguel Boat Club, reports that the Balboa YC has just reopened the pool and bar area around it, and Larry Liberty is once again presiding.

To each their own, of course, but in our opinion Panama has a tremendous amount to offer: Many beautiful and nearly untouched islands on the Pacific side; the incomparable San Blas Islands in the crystal clear water on the Caribbean; the incredible Darien jungle; the magnificent Canal; the Boca de Toros region on the Caribbean side; the history of Balboa, Drake, the pirates and the Spanish gold; the Las Cruces Trail and the El Camino Real; historic Portobello and much more. Furthermore, because of its location between North and South America, Panama has among the most numerous and diverse plant and animal life in the world. And did we mention that Panama means "an abundance of fish"? We also like the people of Panama, who seem much more with it and alive than the folks in the other Central American countries.

Yes, Colon is dangerous, and parts of Panama City are nasty at night, but overall we think Panama is a greatly underrated cruising destination - for those with a truly adventurous spirit.


I made a trip to one of the most remote places a sailboat can travel: the Darien jungle in Panama. I traveled up the Roi Tuira River, through uncharted waters, to the end of the Pan American Highway at Yaviza. I was traveling aboard 'M'Lady', a 35-foot cutter I built nearly 10 years ago in the San Juan Islands. She's a cutter rig made out of steel, sweat - and the dreams of trips to just such remote places.

The Darien is without airports, roads, telephones or other modern forms of communications that have brought such astonishingly rapid changes to much of the world. Located between Central and South America, the Darien has remained an isolated outpost of a way of life that has remained the same by choice. Although the cultures and subcultures of the area are on the verge of extinction, the natives still enjoy an idyllic way of life their parent's parents enjoyed.

I was invited into this pristine wilderness by its people. I found that the various tribes have their own domains, and while they are aware of the other tribes, let each other co-exist. I traded, talked, viewed, and visited many villages throughout the Darien. The reaction of the people was always the same: They would stop what they were doing to visit, trade and spend time with me. They always offered a place to stay, food, and guidance. I only wish I spoke their languages better.

Although there are numerous unpalatable aspects of this 'time gone era', its people's spirits made me rise to a level of inner peace that most people will never enjoy.

Capt. T. L. Spaulding
Aboard 'M'Lady'
Key West, Florida

Readers - We've had this letter and other material from T.L. on the Darien for more time than we'd like to admit - and hope to finally get around to editing it soon. While some cruisers don't think much of Panama - see this month's 'Changes' from Speck - we couldn't disagree more. The Darien, for a variety of reasons, is an incredible place for real adventurers and is just one of Panama's many great attractions.


We were surprised to read your apologetic message about not having a "fancy" Web site. Please don't change a thing! There is too much 'show' and far too little 'go' on the Internet. Your site is a refreshing exception as it's got lots of really great information - especially for those of us who are cruising 'down under' - with a minimum of crazy 'features' which don't work on our browser.

Mike Waters and Lee Rees
'Ichi', Columbia 45
Mooloolaba, Queensland/Circumnavigating


I'm interested in running biodiesel in my sailboat engine. Since biodiesel is made from either waste food oil or virgin veggie oils, the fumes are noncarcinogenic, it biodegrades pretty quickly if spilled, and makes your exhaust smell like french fries.

The research says it works great, requires no engine modifications, and mixes well with petrodiesel. However, I've never talked with anybody who has tried it in a small marine diesel. Can you put me in touch with anyone with real experience with it?

Jeff Omelchuck
'Lycea', Olson 911SE
Portland, Oregon

Jeff - We can't provide you with any names, but the reviews we've heard from individuals who have used Soy-Diesel have been all good and none bad. Can we get a testimonial from anyone with a small diesel?


After temporarily returning from the Caribbean, I'm catching up on my reading - and would like to make some comments on issues that have been discussed.

Medical insurance. My cruising partner has done a bit of research, and is homing in on Blue Shield's $2,000 deductible policy that has a monthly premium of around $200/month. This is consistent with the conclusion of Sandy Ullstrup of 'Little Bit', who has been sailing on a budget for several years. It's essentially a 'major medical' policy - a good choice when cruising in areas where medical service not covered by insurance is inexpensive. Bermuda, for example, where I paid $216 for a visit to the hospital emergency room to care for a major 'boat bite', or St. Lucia, where I paid $30 for a doctor's visit and $48 for an ultrasound!

Water used by boats transiting the Panama Canal. When we small boats - meaning boats less than 75 feet - transit the canal, we were placed in the otherwise wasted space at the ends of 1000-foot locks or in front of or behind 800 or so foot-long ships. As such, I believe my ancestor Archimedes would tell me that our presence reduced rather than increased the amount of water used, by replacing water with a volume of boat having weight equal to that of our old 'Latitudes', anchor chain, beer and other essential components.

Email from Mexico. Compuserve members have - or at least had - access to a toll-free Mexican access number: (800) 926-6000. Given that, all you needed was access to an ordinary jack, which most marinas provided free or at very low cost. My attempts to work through public phones utilizing acoustic couplers was totally unsuccessful - except when using the Sharp TM-20 and Pocketmail.

The ham radio code test. I was permitted to use a laptop computer and word processing software for both practice software and - after I showed that I didn't have some test-beating software in place - to transcribe the actual test. (I was required to delete the transcription after the test.) As a result, I was able to pass the five and 13 word per minute tests on the respective first attempts. Not only is typing a letter faster than stroking one, but it's much more readable and saves a lot of paper while practicing. By now I'm sure that most examiners are aware that transcribing with a laptop is permitted by authorizing organizations such as the Amateur Radio Relay League.

Jack Martin. You're certainly aware, most cruisers' last names seem to be boat names. For example, to most people I'm probably known as 'Roger of Ariadne II'. So until I read the letter from Catherine of Sojurn in the April issue, I did not connect the Jack who was killed in the New Zealand car wreck with the Linda - his wife - whom we met in Chacala while helping build Habitat for Humanity type housing back in 1996. Let me add my sincere condolences to Linda and her son John.

We've traveled both coasts and the Caribbean, and have found 'Latitude' to be far and away the most informative magazine for cruisers. Among other things, a Classy Classified listing sold my Cal 39 to a resident of Fort Lauderdale. In second place would be the little 'Caribbean Compass', a monthly publication in newspaper format that's produced in the Caribbean. It provides timely local information and letters very useful to cruisers and racers, with content similar to 'Latitude's. I suspect it's what 'Latitude' might have looked like in the early years.

Roger Bohl
'Ariadne II', Stamas 44

Roger - The Canal question fools a lot of very smart people. But if you think about it awhile, you realize that it takes the same amount of water to lift an already floating big ship as it does to lift an already floating El Toro 85 feet. This was strictly a theoretical question, so we weren't considering additional boats squeezing in front of or in back of large ships in locks.

Like you, we think very highly of the 'Caribbean Compass', which bills itself as the "Marine Monthly of the Southern Caribbean". Although we've only met our counterparts over the phone, they're great folks and we admire the effort they put into their editorial. For subscription information, visit their website at www.caribbeancompass.com.

Although the editorial isn't quite as strong or plentiful, we also enjoy 'All At Sea', which is published out of St. Martin and distributed from Puerto Rico down to Trinidad.


Thanks for the great tribute 'Latitude' paid to Joe Parks of 'Maverick' and Bill Berg of 'Golden Ring' for bringing our Freedom 40 'Fantasy' back from Mexico to Oxnard after we had a serious medical problem that required treatment in the States. 'Fantasy' is our home, so it was wonderful to get her back. A big hug and thanks to Joe and Bill!

Ricardo and Pat Mundy
'Fantasy', Freedom 40


If you're going to denigrate one of my favorite authors, a gentleman much loved by sailors and non-sailors alike, at least spell his name correctly! O'Brian is spelled with an 'a' not an 'e'. Actually, O'Brian was christened Richard Patrick Russ, and Patrick O'Brian was his nom de plume.

A reclusive man, O'Brian was rather annoyed that his series achieved fame only when he was in his '80s, as the first in his series, 'Master and Commander', had been published 30 years before! At least he avoided the fate of posthumous recognition.

Having said that, I think it is a shame that your published indifference to O'Brian's epic series of 18th century seafaring novels has deterred at least one sailor/boater from reading more than the first book. Having read all 20 of O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels with the greatest of pleasure, I would encourage your correspondents Jim Bondoux and Jim Hildinger (Letters, June) to "struggle" through at least the first two or three of the series. Consider 'Master and Commander' as the first chapter of a 20-chapter novel. As such, it defines the main characters and sets the stage for the following chapters.

Sure, the C.S. Forester's 'Hornblower' series was great. I recall them as "rousing seafaring yarns" when I was growing up. However, I find O'Brian's characters far more complex and interesting, and his books leavened with a sense of humor lacking in the Hornblower novels. Dr. Maturin's ineptitude as a seaman, while practicing the appallingly crude naval surgery of the time, provided the perfect cover for his activities as a spy for the British admiralty. His command of Spanish and French, and his many contacts on the Continent, enabled him to carry out London's policies during the Napoleonic Wars with great effect.

Captain Jack Aubrey, on the other hand, was a consummate sailor and fighting captain, devoted to his crew and their success in naval warfare. To this end, he applied his hard-earned prize money to the purchase of extra gunpowder and shot, the better to prepare his crew for the inevitable encounters with the French, Spanish or Dutch. Unlike Maturin, he was utterly inept politically and his land-based business ventures were disastrous. These unlikely partners provided perfect foils for each other and resulted in some outstanding British successes in the naval and political conflicts of the time. Far from being confined to action against the French in the English Channel, Captain Aubrey's adventures span most of the globe, including the Med, Antarctica, Chile and the United States. These voyages were undertaken under the auspices of the Royal Navy and, when peace broke out, as commander of a privately owned vessel under contract to the Admiralty.

The series can be enjoyed at many levels including Maturin's abiding interest in natural history, the descriptions of the 18th century socio-political environment, and the musical interests shared by Aubrey and Maturin. The latter resulted in musical soirees in the great cabin while at sea, and O'Brian's choice of baroque music by Locatelli, Haydn and Handel has since been published on CD as Musical Evenings with the Captain. This music is a delight. Other publications include dictionaries of the seafaring and medical terms used throughout the series, and yet another book details the passages described in the novels. For those interested further, try the Patrick O'Brian chat rooms on the Internet.

Finally, to 'Latitude's many readers, don't let columnists and editors tell you what to read. Without exception, my sailing friends have thoroughly enjoyed the Aubrey/Maturin series. You may be missing a special treat.

P.S. For readers looking for a different flavor of Baja and the Sea of Cortez, I can highly recommend 'The Sea of Cortez Review', a collection of writings and artwork focused on Baja, edited by Jennifer and Russell Redmond, and published annually by Sunbelt Publications of San Diego.

John Kelly
Sea of Cortez

John - Congratulations, your defense of O'Brian was well-thought out and clearly presented. We also want to heartily endorse your opinion that readers should not let columnists or editors - particularly those at 'Latitude' - tell them what to read. Indeed, our intention was never to "denigrate" O'Brian, but merely to wonder if others were as surprised as us at the acclaim his novels received.

In any event, we think you'll particularly enjoy one of this month's articles, in which a 'Latitude' reader recounts teaching O'Brian, one of his favorite authors, how to sail. Seriously.


Thank you for publicly pointing out the pedantic nature of Patrick O'Brian's novels. After all the 'critical acclaim', it was a brave act. Prior to that, I thought that my sailing buddy Dave Backhaus and I were the only people who had to steel ourselves to undertake a new O'Brian installment.

While I agree that the books were historically accurate, they were so slow and plodding, and as you pointed out, "without character development", so they seemed interminable. I continued to read them only because each new review claimed the next one was better.

For any readers interested in novels of the British Navy during the Napoleonic wars, I would recommended two authors other than the redoubtable C. F. Forester. The first is Alexander Kent, who wrote about 16 books on a character by the name of Richard Bolitho. I thought they were wonderful. Alexander Kent is the pseudonym for an Englishman by the name of Douglas Reeman, who wrote bestselling novels of the British Navy in World War II. These, too, are excellent in their own right.

The second author is an American who, according to the dust cover of his latest book, still spends all his free time on "his tatty old sloop, 'Wind Dancer'." His name is Dewey Lambdin and he serves up rousing, red-blooded adventures of our hero, Alan Lewrie. His last book was the eighth in the series and gets us as far as 1797.

Carl Hagstrom


I've often said that the second best thing about sailing - the first being sailing itself - is the people you meet and the friends you make. After participating in Antigua Sailing Week for the first time in '99, I didn't think it could get any better. I was wrong. This year's Antigua Sailing Week was even more incredible - and it was in no small part due to the people I had the pleasure of sailing with.

I want to thank my wife Cathy; Dave 'Yoda' Davis, the Grand Master of the S.F. Catalina 34 Fleet; Jeff Smith and Nicole Marinkovich; Don Brooks, an intrepid sailor from West Virginia; Gilbry McCoy, Coyote Point YC; and Eric Schoenwisner, Alameda YC - for 13 of the best sailing days I've ever experienced.

This year, we raced 'Rosco', a Dufour 50 Classic, which was worlds better than the Oceanis 440 we had last year. This boat could actually go to weather. Picking the boat up in Guadeloupe also gave us the opportunity to get some sea time in prior to the racing and get to know the boat. Sailing the 41-mile passage from Deshaies to English Harbour in a little over five hours was definitely a rush.

While we didn't win anything, we're a lot more prepared for next year and ready to go. Maybe we'll actually see some Bay Area people there one of these years. Antigua Sailing Week is undoubtedly the best regatta on the planet, and we plan on participating in the next 33!

Greg and Cathy Sherwood
'Imi Loa', Catalina 34 # 582
South Beach YC, San Francisco

Greg & Cathy - We did six Antigua Sailing Weeks with 'Big O' and know exactly what you mean. In our estimation, each one was wilder and more enjoyable than the one before. In fact, we're a little afraid to go back for fear we'll either be disappointed or that we'll explode from pleasure. No serious sailor should die without having 'done Antigua' at least once. They start on the last Saturday of each April.


I've got a good source for parts for Pearson, Cal and O'Day boats: D&R Enterprises, 60 South Main St., Assonet, MA 02702-1710. Their phone number is (508) 644-3001.

With regard to the 'boatbuilding blues', I echo 'Latitude's simple advice: Don't! As a marine surveyor, I see the fallout from 'homebuilt' boats all of the time. While there are some very good boats out there that have been lovingly created by superior craftsmen - and craftswomen - there are many others that suffer from a problem in one craft or another. Many expert carpenters, for instance, fall short in plumbing or electrical skills. Others go for the 'bigger is better' philosophy, and overbuild to the point where the boat is too heavy or burdened by oversize fittings and hardware. Worse still, are those who buy undersize or cheap hardware because it's less expensive - in the short run, anyway.

Rather than building one's own boat, I suggest working hard at your job, and work overtime or maybe get a second job until you can afford your dream boat. Nothing worse than to hear someone say, "I've worked my ass off on this damned boat for many years, now I'm sick and tired of the blasted thing, and I've still got a long way to go."

Lastly, I have a comment on the 'Low Tech Wonder'. In the late '60s or early '70s, the U.S. Navy commissioned a study to find out which small diesel would be the easiest to hand start. This was presumably done to determine a good engine for lifeboats. The Farymann A30M won the competition. I'm not sure if that engine was ever used in lifeboats, but it was easy to hand start - providing you had clearance to spin the starter crank. The engine was used in Cals, Coronado 35s and other boats of that era.

Another diesel that could be started by hand and foot was the single or double cylinder Hicks, built in the Bay Area during the first quarter of the 20th century. You know, the old fish boat engine that emitted a series of muted 'pow' noises as it chugged across the Bay. The late Bill Warren of the Richmond YC had one on the Pete Ghio, a 26-ft Monterey during the '50s and '60s. You turned the large flywheel with a brass handle until it was just past top dead center, then used 'sneaker power' to spin the flywheel and start the engine.

Jack Mackinnon, AMS/SMS
(Senior Accredited Marine Surveyor)
San Lorenzo


I never growl. Not even when - it just happened - UPS needed 14 days to deliver my express mail to Europe. I do not boil. Not even if the doors of a restaurant with a big sign reading 'Open', are closed. I do not call a lawyer if somebody, instead of paying me $2,200 as he should, asks me to pay him $4,400. But this time I must object, because I have an obligation to object!

In the July issue of 'Cruising World' magazine, there is an extensive article about small, used boats. On page 52 it evaluates the Ericson 27 by saying, "This isn't a great sailing boat . . ."

I could object on the grounds that in 1980 'Latitude' published an eight-page article titled 'Ericson 27, Class Act,' giving the boat an excellent review.

I could object on the grounds that at the time there were about 100 proud and happy Ericson 27 owners on San Francisco Bay alone. There was even a class association and it had been a one design racing class.

But I will object on that grounds that I singlehanded 'Nord III', an Ericson 27, over 15,000 ocean miles - including a voyage from San Francisco to Japan and back. I made the return voyage non-stop in 49 days, which was listed in the 1980 edition of the 'Guinness Book of World Records'. I later singlehanded 'Nord IV' an Ericson 30+, around the world.

Only Poseidon, the god of all seas, knows how many Ericson 27s are still alive. However, I believe that we - owners and ex-owners - share respect and maybe even admiration for these brave little boats. Brothers-in-sails, three cheers for the Ericson 27, for we know better than 'Cruising World'!

Andrew Urbanczyk

Andrew - The validity of the 'Cruising World' claim boils down to what they mean by a "great sailing boat". If they mean speed around a race course, they've got a point, as the Ericson 27 gets a significant amount of time in most PHRF fleets from similar size and similar era boats built by Cal and Catalina, to name just two. The Ericson seems to have suffered - in terms of pure speed - from an overly rounded bottom, an inefficient keel, and limited sail area.

But if "great sailing" means an ability to carry on in pretty rough weather at a reasonable pace, we think you proved that with your boat. So did Vito Bialla in the first Singlehanded Farallones Race, when he sailed his Ericson 27 over most of the course in 45 knots and more of wind, a race in which a number of boats were dismasted and at least one multihull was flipped. We had a small interest in an Ericson as our first boat, and thought it looked nice, sailed reasonably well, and had quite a bit of interior space.


A reader recently wrote in asking for information about singlehanded sailing. Although the Singlehanded Sailing Society doesn't have a question and answer format Web site or newsletter to teach singlehanding, the SSS Web site at www.sfbaysss.org is certainly a good place to start and has lots of information about singlehanded events.

The SSS skipper's and trophy meetings - before and after each of its six regular races each year - includes discussions of techniques, problems and so forth. These meetings provide perfect opportunities to meet other singlehanders - even if someone isn't particularly interested in racing. For the dates of races and meetings, consult the Calendar section of Latitude.

There are also several books on the subject. I have Meisel's Singlehanding, and Henderson's Singlehanded Sailing, 2nd ed.

Patricia Zajac
Past Commodore
Singlehanded Sailing Society


Congrats on the new 'Lectronic Latitude - it's so cool that I'm having more trouble than I usually do staying tuned into my real job.

John Foy


We're the proud new owners of 'Lear Jet', a Nelson/Marek 56. We purchased the boat in Honolulu in January, and spent several months cruising over there. Glenn and crew began the delivery of 'Lear Jet' to the Bay Area June 24, and we expect her in her Alameda berth soon.

'Lear Jet' was designed by Nelson/Marek and built by DenCho Marine in Long Beach in '89. She was raced in San Diego, spent a season in Mexico, did TransPac '97, Kenwood Cup and some other Hawaii races. Our primary interest is cruising.

Rumor has it that you are now selling copies of photos you take. If you happen to get a photo of us coming under the Gate, we'd would love to buy a copy!

Glenn Andert and Chris Vandever
'Lear Jet', N/M 56

Glenn & Chris - Congratulations on your new boat! The last time we saw her was off Diamond Head Light when the HIV+ crew raced her in the TransPac. And thanks for sharing the news; we wish everybody would let us know when they got a new boat. As for photographs, yes, we sell the ones we take, but didn't get 'Lear Jet' coming under the Gate. But our cameras will be looking for her.


Not long ago you ran an article about leaving a boat on the hard in Raiatea, French Polynesia. If I remember correctly, one of the owners left charcoal briquettes in the cabin to absorb moisture and reduce the mildew. This is bad advice, as the last thing anyone should use as a desiccant is charcoal briquettes.

Here's proof. On July 5, a half million dollar fire was started in Hilo, Hawaii, by moist briquettes that self-ignited. They are dangerous to have aboard any vessel because of their propensity for spontaneous combustion. I hope this saves someone some grief.

Robby Coleman
'Southern Cross'
San Diego

Robby - First the drummer for Spinal Tap goes up in smoke from spontaneous combustion, now a place in Hilo. Thanks for the reminder.


I've read boaters' comments on equipment manufacturers attention to customer satisfaction in 'Latitude', and now I want to share my own 'happy ending'.

My wife Catherine and I own the Catalina 34 'Fainche' - pronounced 'fanny' - in which I recently completed the installation of a Spectra watermaker. During the initial tests everything perked along fine - but then it stopped making water. I called Spectra, and they sent a tech named Dave Williams out to our boat to check it out.

Dave removed the Clark pump and took it back to the Spectra facility. The next day he returned with the pump and showed me the problem - a tiny chip of resin had apparently gotten into a hose when I was pushing it through a hole I had drilled. I'd tried to prevent this from happening by taping the ends of the hose with masking tape, but obviously hadn't been successful. Anyway, the chip had caused a valve to malfunction. We installed the Clark pump, and everything worked great. When I asked about the bill for his services, he said, "Don't worry about it, we just want you to be happy."

I certainly was happy, and would like to thank Dave for helping me at my boat - and also Dave Smith, Glenn Bashforth, Bill Edinger and their staff at Spectra Watermakers, for their support and for making a fine product.

Russ Otto
'Fainche', Catalina 34


I guess we should've come out for the Catnip Cup in June as we saw a nice photo of the Atlantic 42 'Mango Mi' in 'Lectronic Latitude. We wonder if there is anyone who can help us contact owners Michael and Joyce French. We can be reached at dgilman at adobe.com.

Dave Gilman and Tint Khine
'Prime Directive', F-31
San Francisco

Dave & Tint - If they stuck to their plans, they should be headed across the Pacific by now. But we think they'll eventually get your message.


Thanks to the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca for getting us cats - and some trimarans - together for a 'Catnip Cup' from the Golden Gate to Vallejo on June 10th, and then back the next day. However, I'd like to correct an error concerning Karen Taves, one of my crew. I mistakenly identified her as Karen Wecker.

My other crew-member, Don Margraf, along with Karen, was responsible for making 'Callisto' a faster pussycat that day, as we were able to catch and pass a finely sailed Gemini that started about 40 minutes ahead of us - and who everyone was chasing for first-to-finish honors. Now I owe Don three dinners, as we were also able to hold back an unknown trimaran - which disappeared under the drawbridge and up the Napa River after the finish.

Thanks also to Kame over at Pineapple Sails for building a great spinnaker for us - and for applying my very amateur drawing of a cat onto the spinnaker. In varying conditions, the crew and spinnaker allowed us to sail to our Bay Area Multihull Association PHRF rating of 120 on that day.

In any event, it was a great sail on a gorgeous Bay Area day, with no problems or injuries, and only one winch handle lost - presumably into the drink. We finished the evening listening to Urban Blues, a lively blues trio that was playing at Vallejo Marina's Remark Restaurant. Who could ask for anything more?

Speaking of injuries, I've been meaning to write to you concerning the hospitality extended to us by a couple of sailors at the Benicia Marina over the Memorial Day weekend. Katie Lee and I had sailed up in anticipation of exploring the Delta on 'Callisto', but our plans had to be cut short - no pun intended - due to an injury to Katie's hand. Although she still had five fingers, it might have been broken, so I pulled into the Benicia Marina where I was greeted by Bruce the Harbormaster.

As I was explaining the situation to Bruce, Don and Gwen of the nearby boat 'Special Edition' voluteered to drive us to the emergency room. Don not only drove us to the emergency room, but he waited while Katie's hand was examined, x-rayed and diagnosed as having a contusion. Funny, I always wondered what exactly a contusion is. Now I know: it's what happens when your hand gets caught between a taut line and something hard. Anyway, thanks to Don, Gwen and Bruce, we still managed to have a great few days in the Delta. Rest assured that we'll respond in kind when the opportunity presents itself.

Marc Roth
'Callisto', Fountaine-Pajot Venezia 42
San Francisco Bay

Marc - We're glad you had a great time on the Catnip Cup, but have to remind you that no performance claims can be made on the 'results'. The event was specifically structured as non-competitive, with boats allowed to start from anywhere at anytime and not to be in race mode. If you want to evaluate your boat's relative speed, you need to enter a far more organized racing event.


I'm interested in crewing on the Baja Ha-Ha - which I thought was in September - but I'm not on a boat yet. I must have the date wrong. I also thought there was some kind of get-together where I'd have a chance to try to get a ride. Can you fill me in?

Mark Newton
San Francisco

Mark - Baja Ha-Ha VII starts on October 31 from San Diego. It wouldn't make any sense to leave in September, because that's when California has much of its best warm air sailing - and when Mexico has most of its hurricanes.

If you want try to get a ride on the Ha-Ha, we have three suggestions: 1) Sign up for the Mexico Only Crew List - the forms are in this issue. 2) Attend the Mexico Only Crew List / Ha-Ha Party and Reunion at the Encinal YC in Alameda on October 3 from 6 to 9 p.m. 3) Show up, sea bag in hand, at Cabrillo Isle Marina on October 29th for the Seventh Annual Ha-Ha Halloween Costume and Kick-Off Party sponsored by West Marine. You'll be Johnny on the Spot for folks looking for last-minute crew, as the event starts two days later.


I've never written to 'Latitude', but this morning I feel like rambling about a couple of things.

The first letter in the July edition was from Hope Slifert, who was looking for her father Don, who was overdue on a trip from Mazatlan to the Marquesas aboard his 32-ft Tahiti ketch 'Valor'. It turned out he was fine. I sailed with Don from San Diego to Cabo in February of '99. It was a great trip, just two grumpy old men on a boat. It took a month because we did all but two legs in daysails.

Like Hope, I was starting to get concerned about Don's whereabouts, because you never know. But then last week I got a nice postcard of a bare-breasted local girl from Don in Tahiti. Don reported that he was travelling in company with 'China Moon', a Vancouver 26. The dang 26-footer beat him by two days - so much for waterline! 'Valor' is not the fastest boat, of course, but she's tough. We had some 40-knot winds north of Cedros but never took any water on the deck. Anyway, he's now on his way to Bora Bora.

Somebody wrote in asking where they could get an 'I LUFF FOR MERMAIDS' bumper sticker. They are available from me for $3 p.p. check or money order, at Snug Harbor Sails, 2215 Walker Ave., Mckin-leyville, CA 95519.

The 'Lost Coast' of Northern California: I plan to sail to the Bay Area from Eureka this fall aboard my Bayfield 29. I'll be buddyboating with a Fuji named Sea Robin. We plan to stop a lot at places such as Shelter Cove, Noyo, Van Dam, Cuffy's Cove, Bodega and Drakes Bay. We'll let you know how it goes.

I hope to be in the Delta for Labor Day, so I really enjoyed the piece on the area in the July issue.

Doug Nordby
'Trulah A.'
Woodley Island, Humboldt Bay

Doug - We appreciate your comments - and indeed would like to hear how your cruise down the 'lost coast' pans out.


'Athena', the 292-foot three-masted schooner Jim Clark is having built in Europe, will indeed be an incredible display of wealth - and as 'Latitude' pointed out, a good comparison with fine art. While boats are not truly 'fine art', some are damn close and they have much in common.

Most creative masterpieces are reliant on a rich patron - who usually ends up with sole possession and much credit for an undertaking. The total costs for the project are what amaze and intimidate people. What is not apparent is the far-reaching benefits to the industries involved and their workers.

For example, my background is in bronze sculpture, which is very similar in many ways to boatbuilding. We use molds, resins, fiberglass, welding, fabricating, finishing and so forth. When most people see the finished sculpture, they have no idea of the skilled workforce and specialized materials that went into producing it. Maybe 'Latitude' should document some of the procedures and technologies involved with Clark's new boat, and give some indication to the amount of paychecks involved.

Jim Henderson
Bugeye ketch, 'The Saint'
Brookings, Oregon

Jim - We're not big on prying, but we'll see if we can't find out something about the technologies and the costs involved.

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© 2000 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.