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Our family wanted to thank the Poobah-Wanderer and his team for the great time we had in fleeing south as part of the Baja Ha-Ha. Thanks to the wonderful organization and terrific sportsmanship from the Poobah, his crew, the other boats, and the communities we invaded, it was a fabulous event. Organizing 112 boats and the more than 400 people on them for an extensive journey is not an easy task, and we commend the job that was done.

For those who will be heading south to Mexico next year and are leery of being part of a big crowd, we recommend the Ha-Ha. It was not only a lot of fun, but a great opportunity to meet fellow cruisers that we'll see again for the rest of the season and beyond. We had eyed the Ha-Ha from a distance for a long time. Now that we've actually done it, we have absolutely no regrets!

Kelly and Keith Mackenzie, with Kyle and Kris

Kelly & Keith - On behalf of the Poobah, Banjo Andy and Doña de Mallorca, thanks for the kind words - and being part of a really terrific fleet. We're always flabbergasted that so many people think of the Ha-Ha as some kind of floating frat party - when, as you know, nothing could be further from the truth. We appreciate your efforts to help correct this misconception.


We arrived in Matanchen Bay near San Blas, Mexico, early on the morning of November 13. When we awoke the next morning, we encountered a very disturbing situation. Capt. Norm, the longtime friend of cruisers and fishermen, couldn't be raised on VHF! After several unanswered radio calls and a brief trip to the beach, we called the telephone number we'd been given for him. Norm answered, and said he'd heard our calls but hadn't been able to answer them. The problem was a new and very strict Port Captain. Norm told us to be sure to check in the following day.

We caught the bus into San Blas on Tuesday morning, and went to the Port Captain's office to check in. There we met Steve of Poet's Place, who had already been there more than an hour trying to check in. As near as he could understand, they had sent for someone who spoke English. When Suzan and I presented our papers to the employee at the window, we were also told to wait.

After about 30 minutes, a man arrived on a bicycle and we were told to go with him. My wife and I and Steve followed the man to a small office - where we discovered that he was a ship's agent! He asked for our despacho, ship's papers, passports, and so forth, and eventually added both entry and exit notations to our despachos. Then he got back on his bike and rode back to the Port Captain's office, where he got the appropriate stamps and signatures. The whole process - including time at the Port Captain's office - took us about 2.5 hours, and an hour longer for Steve! Then the agent charged both of us 200 pesos - a little more than $20 each - for the service. Steve's wife Sharon had a conniption fit when she showed up and found out we'd been required to use an agent for something as simple as checking in and out of San Blas!

After we paid the agent and got our papers, we went to visit Jan Goldie. Norm had gone to Puerto Vallarta for the day. As the cruisers who know Jan will tell you, she's an absolute princess, and she and Norm have nothing but cruisers' interests in mind. But Jan explained that the new Port Captain had been told that she and Norm had been charging cruisers for assistance! Based on this misinformation, he had prohibited Norm from talking on the radio. Which is why Norm hadn't been able to respond to our calls the previous day. Jan also told us about an incident where a vessel was in serious distress near Isla Isabella, and Norm had been alerted to the fact by telephone. This is the kind of situation where he's helped countless mariners before, but the Port Captain's edict made it almost impossible for Norm to assist.

Norm and Jan have been helping cruisers and fishermen around San Blas for 30 years, and they've never taken any payment for the help they've given. The Port Captain had been given bad information.

When we told Jan that the Port Captain had required us to use an agent to check in and out, she said it was the first time she'd heard of it. She immediately swung into action and took us and Steve's wife to the local District Attorney. The District Attorney vowed to help us straighten out the situation, as he was unaware of any law requiring that mariners use an agent. We'll see how it all works out.

Jan was confident that Norm had almost worked through the problem of not being able to talk on the marine radio, but had not yet received the permission.

Bill and Suzan Harris
S/V Sanctuary
Matanchen Bay

Bill & Suzan - What a strange story. We've got to believe it will be resolved satisfactorily. If not, somebody might want to remind the new Port Captain what happened to the Port Captain in La Paz who instituted mandatory boat safety inspections and charged for them. According to excellent sources, he's been sent to Salina Cruz in the Gulf of Tehuantepec - Mexico's version of Siberia.

We know that Norm is having some health problems, so we have something that might cheer him up. As a result of his mentioning how poor the people are in the mountains behind San Blas, we decided to do something about it during the Ha-Ha: a short charter on
Profligate to raise money. Twenty-one cruisers responded, and we collected $420 that we intend to deliver to Norm in person in early December. If all goes well, he'll be able to help a bunch of Mexican children have a better Christmas - or maybe just a blanket to keep them warm at night.


A bunch of years back, I sailed into Tomales Bay with Cass Gidley aboard his Alden sloop the Yo Ho Ho. It was my first time through that entrance and his umpteenth. We were all aware of its nasty reputation, and Cass timed our arrival at close to full flood. As I recall, he said the area in which one has to be really careful is the part between Sand Point at the end of Dillon Beach and the mile and a half or so before Tom's Point, which is the next point south. Evidently this area, including the relatively shallow channel that swings around in an arc towards the Marin side, can shoal up and change from time to time depending on storms and rain runoff. Cass cautioned me to keep a sharp eye astern, as 'sneaker waves' can appear suddenly.

Our passage into the bay was uneventful. When we exited a few days later, it was a completely different story. We got a late start and therefore reached the dangerous area about an hour or so past slack. All was calm, quiet and flat - until we got about halfway through. A small Monterey style double-ender was coming in about 100 yards ahead of us, when a wave suddenly seemed to rise up out of nowhere from behind her. It stretched from shore to shore, had a smooth face, and got bigger as it approached. It was at least six or seven feet and seemed nearly vertical. Cass warned me to hold on tight. The Monterey got caught for a few seconds in almost a full broach position, but managed to get straightened out as the wave passed ahead. We took green water all the way aft as we punched through the wave, and felt the keel bounce off the bottom. It definitely woke us up.

Michael Latta
Moss Landing


In the October issue, you asked for stories about 'sneaker waves' and/or Tomales Bay. Here's the story of an experience I hope to never repeat. Periodically, my friend Lyn Reynolds and I get together for a week-long sail, either in the San Francisco area, where he keeps his boat, or down here in Southern California where I live. We both have Fair Weather Mariners, which are 39 feet long and have a draft of six feet. During autumn four years ago, we took his April Dancer to Drake's Bay and Bodega Bay. On the way back, we decided to cruise Tomales Bay.

While visiting Bodega, we talked with local fishermen and a local sailor, and their consensus was that it was all right to enter Tomales Bay - as long as it was at the right tide and the skipper kept close to the rocks on the west side of the entrance. We departed Bodega early enough to arrive at Tomales Bay at half tide on a rise. The weather was calm, with no wind, flat seas, and practically no swell. Nonetheless, we approached the entrance cautiously, our attention divided between the depth-sounder - which was showing less than three feet under the keel - the rocks, just a couple of boat lengths away, and the channel buoys.

Every sailor will appreciate the concentration needed and tension in such circumstances. Suddenly I was surprised to see the bar through the clear water - and there didn't seem to be much water above it. Lyn asked if we should continue, and I told him I wouldn't try it with my boat. Just then he turned around to see a wall of water about an eighth of a mile behind us headed in our direction. It had a smooth, vertical surface so high that we couldn't see the headland behind it. Lyn swung the wheel hard over and shoved the throttle to maximum.

"Oh my God," I thought, the air sucked out of my lungs in anticipation of what was going to happen. April Dancer responded with barely a second to spare. She hit the wave so hard that her bow seemed to rise to nearly vertical. She seemed to sit on her transom while she decided to either fall on her mast and kill us or land on her keel and give us a fighting chance. It seemed like a lifetime, as loose gear, dishes, pots and pans crashed about the salon. Up, up, up and up we went, until we topped the crest and plunged down the back side of the wave at dizzying speed. We hit the bottom of the trough and fortunately had enough time for the boat to recover before the next big swell arrived. This one was a long, slow swell, and not nearly as high or steep as the first one. After passing over this second swell, we were outside of the entrance buoy again and back into flat water. Had Lyn not turned her to face the wave, we would certainly have been smashed on the rocks. I doubt either of us would have survived.

"Well, Lyn," I said, "I wouldn't take my Lady K in there, but if you want to have another go, I'm with you."

"We're out of here," he responded dryly.

What made Lyn look behind him at the last possible moment? He reckons it's because each of us is fundamentally a singlehander - and we singlehanders get to sail 'with one hand in God's pocket'. But it makes you think, doesn't it?

Our sail back to Drake's Bay, and eventually Brisbane Marina, was pleasant and uneventful.

Pieter Kokelaar, Lady K, Marina del Rey
Lyn Reynolds, April Dancer, Coyote Point

Pieter & Lyn - We don't understand the cause of 'sneaker waves', and we're not sure that anybody else does either. But we spent a chunk of our youth surfing, and know for sure that they exist, and seem to be a feature of winter as opposed to any other time of year. So be careful out there. And remember that the first thing the Hawaiians teach their kids is not to turn their backs on the ocean.


Cruising destinations north of San Francisco are few and far between - as was noted in many good letters in Latitude recently. But for those of us who are trailer sailors, there's a frequently overlooked comfortable cruising ground only a day away - Bodega Bay. There are two good launching facilities: Doran Beach and Westside Park on the other side of the Bay. If one chooses to stay in the campground available at either site, they can enjoy the beauty of the Bay Area's most quaint but active fishing port, as trailerable boats do make fairly decent camp trailers. There are also several resturaunts in Bodega Bay that serve everything from pizza to elegant sit-down dinners. And the Doran Beach campground is great for walks in the moonlight after dinner.

When morning comes, you can slip your boat into the harbor and motor past the stone jetty and into the bay proper. With a little wind, it's usually an easy reach into Tomales Bay for some spirited sailing. As has been mentioned several times, never attempt to cross the bar into Tomales Bay during a strong ebb and a heavy north swell. Another option, if the seas are calm, would be to sail west past Bodega Head into the open ocean. However, beware of the channel between the Head and the small island, as many fishing boats have been capsized by sneaker waves in this area. If you plan to anchor out in Tomales Bay for the night, you can leave your car and trailer at either campground for the cost of a campsite.

So with a little luck in weather and tide, Bodega Bay can be a comfortable place to cruise something like a West Wight Potter 19 - which is what I own - or a Cal 20 over a weekend. And it doesn't break the bank. Furthermore, we trailer sailors get to head back home at 55 mph.

Eli Thomas
Tateta, West Wight Potter 19
Bay Area


It was with interest that I read the October issue article on the late Myron Spaulding, in particular because I recently owned the 8 Meter Hussy that was mentioned several times.

When I first came into contact with Hussy in 1992 at Terminal Island Marina, Long Beach, she was in a very sad state. The mast was missing most of its paint, there was a loose panel on the starboard side, the decks - which had received a thin layer of teak over the original edge nailed pine and canvas - was almost entirely rotted out, and 85 of the hull's 110 frames were broken - many in several places. Some of the frames had been sistered, and others double-sistered where the original sister had broken. The interior was a complete shambles, with all of the plywood bulkheads delaminating and very little that could be saved. The old Gray Marine gasoline engine was frozen, and little more than a hunk of rust. The bilge pump was running about five minutes every hour, and there were several leaks in the lower planks, with caulking being forced through the planks on the inside.

For 20 years the boat had been owned by a guy named Hal Pritchard, who had lived aboard for most of that time. But he fell ill and went to Florida, abandoning Hussy. The marina took her in a lien sale. The Marina sold her to a new owner, who put in a few month's work before he realized how much needed to be done. So he abandoned her, too. The Marina again liened the boat and again sold her, but the same thing happened again. After this third lien, the Marina was about to haul her and cut her up for the lead in her keel - which is when I found out she was available. I bought her for $1 and six month's slip rental at the marina.

While at the dock, I did some work to stabilize the hull - including replacing the transom and some framing in the counter, and providing covers to prevent rainwater from causing further rot. I also had the mast hauled and stored at the shipyard. I then removed the trunk cabin and stored it in a friend's woodworking shop. It was later stolen during a break- in.

I then hauled the boat at the Cabrillo Boat Shop in San Pedro, and rented a small shop next to the boat for tool and material storage. During the next couple of years, I replaced the top eight feet of the stem post, the stern post, 13 floors, and scarfed and laminated in new frame sections for 65 frames. I removed the deck, which was totally rotten, and installed temporary braces to hold her shape. I replaced about six feet of each beam shelf in way of the shrouds, as leakage around the chain plates had rotted them out. I also repaired the port bilge stringer, which had cracked approximately at midships.

I unfortunately then became ill myself, and was unable to continue work. The boatyard requested that I move the boat, as I could no longer work on her. I rented a small space and a container nearby, and moved Hussy there along with all the tools and gear. For the next two years, my bronchial asthma prevented me from working on the boat. But I did make sure that she was covered and didn't get rained on or deteriorate further.

In September of '98, I received a phone call out of the blue from James Coutouras of Erin, Ontario, Canada. It turns out that he's a boatbuilder and owns a sistership to Hussy that he races in the 8 Meter fleet on Lake Ontario. As I understand it, four of the original 11 boats in the fleet still exist, and Hussy is #2. Coutouras owns #9. In any event, he asked if I was interested in selling Hussy, as he wanted to buy an 8 Meter for his father. A deal was worked out, and in early December she was loaded onto a trailer and trucked to Canada. Coutouras has almost completed Hussy's rebuild, and she should be sailing again next season. He's renamed her Ace II, which was her original name when she was launched back in 1928.

I look forward to her launch date, and visiting her in Canada for a sail one of these days. I'm glad that I played a part in saving this historic vessel and eventually connecting up with an owner who had the time and resources to give her the attention she deserved.

If anyone has information on previous owners of Hussy, races won, or any other information, I'd like to pass it along to the new owner.

David I. Webb
San Pedro

David - What a great story!


We are about to go from Polynesia to Penrhyn (Cook Islands) to Palmyra Atoll, then on to Hawaii. The problem is that Palmyra seems to be in the process of being sold to The Nature Conservancy. If this deal goes down, the island will apparently be closed to cruisers. Can you tell us if this is correct or not?

John Yeamans and Candace Paris
Sea Ray

John & Candace - The Nature Conservancy has signed a letter of intent to buy Palmyra Atoll in early 2001. They say that they realize the only way they can afford it is if they permit some kind of eco-tourism, but as yet haven't determined how they will manage public access. We find it hard to believe that cruisers would be prohibited from at least short stays.

For further information, check out www.tnc.org/palmyra.


It's distressing to see Latitude adding its voice to those perpetrating the fallacy that singlehanding is patently in violation of Rule 5. That's simply not true. The fallacy is based on a careless reading and interpretation of Rule 5.

You speak of a "continuous watch," of which the singlehander is obviously ultimately incapable of keeping. But those words are not found in the rules of the road! Instead, it says that a "proper watch shall be maintained at all times." A "proper watch" does not equate with a "continuous watch."

No vessel - no matter if it's a large ship or fully crewed yacht - maintains a "continuous watch" on the open sea. A ship's officer will (or may) look about frequently, but does not spend 100% of his time staring out over the water. Same for the watchkeeper on a yacht. The Pardeys, who have made a considerable stink on this subject, do not maintain a "continuous watch" themselves. Instead, either Larry or Lyn puts their head out the companionway every 15 minutes and looks around. Is this a "continuous watch?" Certainly not! Yet the Pardeys consider this a "proper watch." I agree.

The singlehanders I know of employ a similar regimen, with somewhat less frequent looks, waking from sleep for the purpose. The safety record of the singlehanders - actually better than that of their doublehanded or multihanded counterparts - attests to their diligence. There's no room for complacency - the root cause of most accidents - when everything is up to #1. Which is not to say that there are no irresponsible singlehanders; there are, just as there are irresponsible operators of ships and crewed yachts.

If you and others keep beating the drum publicly for your misunderstanding of Rule 5, sooner or later Big Brother will hear, and feel it his duty to rob us of yet another fundamental freedom. If that should come to pass, my singlehanded boat will either be for sale or deliberately sunk.

But if Steve Dashew and others really feel threatened by singlehanded boats, perhaps instead of prohibition, they could persuade Big Brother to mandate red masthead strobes on singlehanded boats as a warning to those harboring similar fears. Yellow strobes could be set aside for the paranoid boats which maintain "continuous watches" - and who, of course, will have no trouble seeing the red strobes and can slink off in some other direction.

The world is drowning in a great sea - not of water, but of bureaucracy, which is 'inundating' our two great remaining wildernesses: the forests and the seas. Please, I beg, do not encourage that bureaucracy in its mad onslaught!

Jim Troglin

Jim - We think you're splitting hairs, but in any event we don't see any need to outlaw singlehanding - as long as those who do it agree to take responsibility if there is an accident as a result of their not having kept a watch.


I would like to respond to your comment that "singlehanded sailing for more than a day is, by definition, illegal because no individual can maintain the continuous watch required by law for such a long period of time." Having sailed over 30,000 ocean miles, more than 12,000 of them singlehanded, I feel I'm in a position to comment.

Recently I read Lyn Pardey's account of 'standing watch'. It consisted of reading a book below at night and getting up every 15 minutes or so to have a look around. This isn't nearly as good a lookout as I maintained, because if she was reading a book I doubt she was using a red light, so her night vision was shot. As a result, her look around wouldn't be very effective. In fact, I doubt that she would have seen a hazard to navigation or even a ship that was not lighted. Yes, there are unlighted vessels. When I was in the U.S. Navy, we steamed around at about 27 knots - and without running lights or radar. We did, however, have lookouts.

Now if I am going three knots and they are going 27, I haven't a chance of avoiding them. Sort of like trying to outrun a gale. But I can maintain a 15 minute lookaround, with my eyes night adapted, forever. I used to set an egg-timer and take catnaps in the cockpit. After a while - especially if I started well before becoming exhausted - it became routine. It's true that I have slept all through the night sometimes, but only after not seeing any other vessels for three days. I take the risk and the responsibility.

While off Mexico once, I saw a U.S. destroyer at night that was running without radar or lights. They were shocked when I called them on the radio and asked if I could be of assistance. They must have thought they were invisible. They probably would have been to most watchstanders on sailing boats. In any event, the destroyer switched on its running lights and took off. We sailors all have to keep well away from Navy ships - as well as fishing boats and powerboaters on autopilot. Most merchant vessels cannot see us before it is too late for them to turn, so we have to see them first and get out of their way. Tricolor lights help as they can be seen a lot farther than the mickey mouse lights such as came stock on my Freedom 28. The lights weren't even legal.

I contend that I can keep as good a lookout while single-handing as most cruising boats can with two people. In truth, most cruisers don't keep a good lookout - neither do most fishing boats and merchant ships - particularly if they are depending on radar. Most sailboats don't show up very well on ship radars. So I shall continue to singlehand my boat and maintain a decent - if not continuous - lookout.

Al MacDiarmid
Broad Reacher, Freedom 28 cat ketch #4

Al - If you're willing to take the risk - and responsibility for the consequences - we've got no problem with singlehanding.


The Seacretspot is safely back in the Bay. Three months ago my best friend and I cast off for the South Pacific to find perfect surf - and almost just as important, warm water. The two of us had no sailing experience, but we did have a big ferro cement boat at our disposal. Well, we didn't make it, but the ferro boat did pretty well and we now know how to sail. In addition, we learned a lot about people - particularly sailors - and life during the adventure.

In the course of three months, we visited Monterey, Morro Bay, Catalina and L.A. In the process, we blew two transmissions. As a result, we blew through our small cruising kitty almost overnight - although not before a great night of karaoke in Avalon. Our trip back up the coast was all about learning, as we had to sail all the way. It was stressful, beautiful, rough, calm, dark, light - and many other things.

Now for the important stuff. Thank you, everyone at Minney's in Costa Mesa - you guys are so helpful and fun. Eric, you're a rare breed, as the trip wouldn't have been possible without you. The lady who runs the guest docks at Marina del Rey won't be forgotten, either. Thanks for putting up with us. We also salute all those sailors along the way who worried about us, but never discouraged us from going. Loch Lomond Marina, you guys rock! Thanks also to our families and Amber. As for Latitude, you're the magazine for crazy dreamers - bless your crazy souls. Nobody can make something like sailing better than you guys!

Bill and Todd

Bill & Todd - On behalf of everyone, thanks for the kind words. As for your trip, anyone with life experience will assure you that you learn many times more from your 'failures' than your successes.


I recently purchased an Acapulco 40 that was two years into a restoration. Despite searching high and low, I can't find much information on this design. I'd like to know how many were built, when, and all that. About all I know is that Bill Carpenter did the design and the boats could be purchased either in kit form or completed by the factory. Can anybody help?

Garrett Caldwell
Tension Reliever, Acapulco 40
fdl at frontierdentallab.com

Garrett - Other than having hung out on one briefly in Mazatlan in the late '70s, we don't know much about the Acapulco 40s. Maybe you should try to contact Ed and Bernie Atkin, who left Brookings, Oregon, in their Acapulco 40 Oriana and spent 19 years and 364 days sailing her around the world. When asked if they'd do it again, Ed responded, "All that time I couldn't think of anything I'd rather be doing, and to me, that's pretty much happiness."

Ed and Bernie are the authors of
One Wave At a Time, the story of their 7,300-day circumnavigation. Their boat is currently in San Carlos, Mexico, and they expect to be back aboard by Christmas.


Our 'passage' from home to Ventura was at an uneventful 55 mph down Highway 126. But when Kathee and I tried to rent a slip at Ventura Harbor Village, we were told they had no vacancies. This was a first, and was the result of a big offshore powerboat race at Ventura. I know these boats are big, smelly brutes, but once in a while they're kind of fun to watch. Maybe I've still got a little of my old small block '66 Malibu in my veins. Anyway, we rented a slip at another marina, had a cheeseburger in paradise, and proceeded to the launch ramp. We lowered the boat in the water, parked the trailer, and loaded our stuff onto the boat. All that was left was raising the mast.

When pushing the mast up, it's almost always been my experience that some part of the rigging snags and stops the process. It was no different this time, as the backstay caught under a wing-nut of a battery that I'd just loaded into the cockpit. What I failed to notice was that the stay had actually caught beneath the wing-nuts on both terminals - causing a direct short and making the stay extra hot. I reached down to free the backstay and ouch! - my left hand got a big burn.

We were tied up to a birdpoop-splattered launch ramp dock at the time, and I was barefoot, having left my flip-flops on the dock to keep from tracking birdpoop onto the boat. The way I deal with burns is to try to cool off the injured area, so I quickly jumped off the boat into the cool water. Suddenly, my life flashed before my eyes in, oddly enough, slow motion. It wasn't my hand that caused it, but a sliver in my foot. To understand the pain I felt, take any sliver you've ever gotten and imagine the pain to be multiplied by infinity! Kathee knew it was a really serious injury because I didn't even utter the F-word. Instinctively, I reached down and tried to pull the sliver out. It didn't budge! So there I was, sitting on a bird poop covered dock with God's own sliver stuck in my foot.

Kathee drove me to the Emergency Room, and after triage, the ER doc tried to pull the sliver out. The pain almost put me in my grave. I remember saying the F-word this time, and apologized to the nurse. "I've heard worse," she said. The ER doc finally gave up and basically told me to take two aspirin and call another doctor in the morning. After an 'interesting' night aboard, I called the other doctor - and orthopedic surgeon - the next morning, and was surprised to be told to come in right away. After I limped into his office I got really worried, because he asked to see me before the other 10 people that had already been waiting.

After setting myself down on the examination table, the doctor walked in. He might as well have come right off the silver screen, as he had silver screen perfect graying hair and pressed jeans. I called him 'Dr. Silver'. Kathee later described him to my sister as being "real cute" - and she rarely uses words like that. Anyway, 'Doc Silver' took one look at my foot and told me to check into the hospital immediately. Naturally, he asked how I got the sliver, and I told him about the dock. Before long, we were talking boats, favorite anchorages on Santa Cruz Island, and other normal doctor-patient stuff. Even though he owned a 32-ft powerboat, I decided to cut him some slack because he might be saving my life.

I'll skip the hospital stuff, except to say that Kathee used her twice a day, 2 1/2 minute visits to smuggle me Coke and Corn-Nuts, and that removing the sliver involved major surgery that required four days of IV antibiotics and a three-night stay in the hospital. Obviously, this was very expensive, so I thank God for my $2,000 deductible Blue Cross policy. As for the sliver, it was real deep. In fact, it went all the way across the the ball of my foot, in one side and out the other. It was six inches long and nearly the diameter of a pencil. 'Dr. Silver' described the wound as a "a real mess". He saved the sliver for me and put it in a specimen container. It now occupies a cherished place on our boat.

I'm convinced that if my accident had happened somewhere where there wasn't a fully equipped hospital with a guy like 'Dr. Silver' around, something really dastardly could have happened to me. As it was, I left the hospital with prescriptions for three more antibiotics. When I asked 'Dr. Silver' what to do if it hurt that night, he gave me a prescription for 40 Vicoden. As Jimmy Buffett sings, "It's time for a well-deserved binge."

When I finally got back to our boat and started hanging out in the cockpit, Kathee surprised me with a bottle of 'Barefoot Bubbly' champagne from Trader Joe's. It was a nice way to start recuperation. There is a silver lining to the story, as I now have a beautiful zipper scar across the ball of my left foot. I love it, because I now leave a distinctive footprint when I walk in the sand. So the next time you're out walking on some beautiful beach in paradise and you look down and see a size 16 footprint with a zipper, you will know that Scar Foot Charlie has been there before you.

The moral of the story, of course, is to always wear shoes on the dock, just like your mother told you. We'd also like to thank the Ventura Harbor Patrol for helping Kathee move our boat from the launch ramp to the slip in my absence.

Charlie Sparks
Princess Kathleen Too


While sailing up the coast in mid-September we stopped at Ventura Harbor. We didn't have a pleasant experience at all, and want to warn others about it.

We'd just cleared the outer breakwater when we hailed the harbormaster for a transient slip. The response was, "Slow down to five knots and make no wake." All right, we'd been doing six knots with quite a small wake, but why didn't the harbormaster say anything to the guy in the 20-ft runabout who was leaving the harbor at full bore. Oh well, no big deal.

After asking for a slip assignment, I was told to proceed to slip #XXX for "inspection", after which I would be given a slip assignment. Inspection? What's up with that? A few minutes later we were hailed and told there had been a change in plans and we were to proceed directly to our assigned slip of #YYY.

A dock worker met us at the slip and handed us a folded piece of paper and instructed us to check in at the office. While walking down the dock, I starting reading the form. It was an 8-1/2 x 11" registration form with the first two-thirds filled with legal mumbo-jumbo and the bottom third asking for normal information - but also my driver's license number, social security number, the year the boat was made, who built it, and the hull material. Weird!

I only filled out what information I thought they needed, but the guy in the office stated he needed my social security number. I didn't want to argue with the guy, so I made one up. When he said they really had to have my driver's license number, I asked why. He said they run it through the DMV computer. They do the same with the boat's documentation number. This was getting really creepy.

He then asked for the hull material of the boat, and I told him it was wood.

"Oh, that's a problem," he said.


Yes, he said, because if the boat was wood he needed proof of insurance. Fortunately, I had it with me. He took it and photocopied it. I asked why wood was a problem, and he replied that it was "a fire hazard". I pointed out that fiberglass burns just as well, and once started is harder to put out. It didn't matter to him.

My shipmate had been in Ventura Harbor about a month before and had encountered none of this. So he asked what was going on. Apparently Ventura County has taken over the harbor. They have declared it to be a totally commercial harbor and intend to discourage recreational boating. Towards that end there were a bunch of new rules in place:

- No boats under 35 feet.

- Wood boats are permitted for now with proof of insurance, but will soon be prohibited completely.

- Nobody may sleep on their boat. When I asked about transient boaters, I was told that an exception would be made for one or two nights.

As if all that wasn't bad enough, we were informed that the docks, which are patrolled by armed guards, are closed to everyone between midnight and 0700. I didn't ask what would happen if we stepped off our boat to go to the bathrooms. I was afraid of the answer.

Quite frankly, I wouldn't have been surprised by this kind of BS in some Third World dictatorship, but I was shocked to be treated that way in California. Perhaps somebody can shed some light on what the heck is happening there. No matter, as I'll definitely bypass Ventura my next time down the coast. I'd rather give my money to a community that values cruisers and treats them like real people. Fair warning.

As a creepy coincidence to this experience, we were in Chetco River, Oregon, about a week later. I was woken up around midnight by activity at the USCG station across the channel. There was a fire in the marina. It had started on a fiberglass boat and spread to two other fiberglass boats before it could be contained. All of them burned to the waterline. So much for the hazard of a wood boat in a marina.

Jim McCorison
Seattle, WA

Jim - It seems you were mostly the victim of a bad circumstance. There are actually three marinas at Ventura: Ventura Isle Marina, Ventura West, and the Ventura Port District-run commercial harbor that only has slips for about 10 pleasure boats. When a pleasure vessel skipper asks the harbor patrol for information on a transient slip, he/she will almost always be directed to either Ventura Isle Marina or Ventura West, both of which usually have available transient slips. Even if it's after hours, the harbor patrol will try to contact one of the private marina harbormasters by cell phone. But apparently they weren't able to reach anyone in your case, so by default they put you in the port's commerical space. As for the business about wood boats being a greater fire hazard than fiberglass boats, that's rubbish.

We used to keep our Freya 39 in Ventura Harbor, and it's a great place. Not only is it a little out of the way from the masses, but it's got a great beach for swimming and surfing, and it's also just a few miles from the Channel Islands. And we salute the Ventura Port District for not sticking their noses into liveaboard situations, allowing the private marinas to decide how many are appropriate. Ventura Isle set their limit at 10%, while Ventura West, which was built as a liveaboard marina, has 40 to 50% liveaboards. If anybody is headed for Ventura and will arrive after hours, the folks at Ventura Isle Marina say they'll be happy to prearrange a slip for you.

Despite what happened to you, Jim, the welcome mat is out at Ventura.


My girlfriend Gina and I are planning on taking a vacation to Mexico, and have noticed a number of Classy Classifieds for 'good deals' on outfitted cruising boats already in places like La Paz and Mazatlan. We're interested in upgrading to a 30-some foot cruising boat in the future and would like to check out some of the bargains below the border, but aren't familiar with the areas. Can you guys recommend an area where we might find the highest concentration of boats for sale? Since we don't plan on renting a car, we'll be relying on public transportation.

Rich DeAngelis and Gina LaTulippe
Cal 24, Primer

Rich & Gina - The greatest concentrations of cruising boats are in San Carlos/Guaymas, La Paz, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. It's easy - although it takes time - to get from one place to the other via public transportation. La Paz, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta make a pretty easy triangle, but Guaymas - where hundreds of cruising boats are on the hard - is a little out of the way.


As one who has made ocean passages on both a monohull and a catamaran, I've been pleased and generally in agreement with Latitude's balanced opinions on the issue of cruising catamarans versus cruising monohulls. And I think your response to the folks on Zeeotter in the November issue continued in that vein - with one exception.

At one point you state, "Some of the most powerful evidence for the ability of smallish cats to survive atrocious weather comes from Ramtha and Heart Light, two cats of less than 40 feet that survived the Queen's Birthday Storm with little or no help from their crews." You go on to mention four monohulls that were abandoned or sunk.

Leaving it at that might lead someone not familiar with the Queen's Birthday Storm to conclude that there were six boats caught in it and that the two that survived intact were catamarans. The truth is both Ramtha and Heart Light were abandoned by their crews. Ramtha was later recovered and towed to Tonga. And in the August '94 issue of Latitude you reported that after Heart Light's crew were rescued by a fishing boat, "the catamaran flipped and broke apart." Like Ramtha, one of the Westsail 32s that was abandoned during the storm was also later recovered intact after having anchored herself in 290 feet of water. Perhaps you confused Heart Light, a 42-foot cat, with Vivace, a 50-foot cat that did weather the storm without being lost or abandoned.

If the Queen's Birthday Storm is to be used as evidence for the fitness of cats or monos for bluewater cruising, it would be more helpful to answer the question: What proportion of the catamarans in the storm area were abandoned or lost, and what proportion of the monohulls in the same area were abandoned or lost? In the September '94 issue of Latitude, you reported that two out of three catamarans in the storm survived, those being the three mentioned above.

I realize that the intent of your statement was to support the concept of cruising catamarans and not to imply that cats make better cruising boats than monos, but the way it was said -and taken out of context - it could lead some to that conclusion.

In '94 you reported that 150 yachts were in the waters between New Zealand and Fiji at the time, and that as many as 40 were in the area traversed by the storm. It's a pity that the vast majority of what was written - not just by Latitude - about the storm focused on the boats that were abandoned or lost. What might we have learned if equal time had been taken to interview all the boats that survived? Latitude's reports from Heart of Gold, Vivace, and a couple of others were helpful.

Steve Van Slyke
Gig Harbor, WA

Steve - Thanks for the warning. Kim Taylor wrote a book called The 1994 Pacific Storm Survey about the Queen's Birthday Storm. It has lots of holes in the the boat reports and the author seems to draw a few odd conclusions, but it's packed with tons of information. The book also pointed out - as did Latitude - that the catamaran Heart Light wasn't flipped or sunk by the storm. On the contrary, her owners only agreed to be rescued by a 180-foot fishing boat on the condition that the skipper agree to ram Heart Light until she sank. This was so the cat could serve as a lighthouse of sorts for the forces of good in the seventh dimension trying to find their way into the fabric of our world in order to promote harmony and world peace. Something like that.

In any event, the only point we were trying to make is that although we personally aren't yet up to sailing across open oceans in cats under 40 feet, lots of sailors are - and some such small cats have even survived very serious storms without the help of their crews. Above all, we'd like everyone to be clear on two points: 1) Different boats caught in the Queen's Birthday Storm faced very different conditions, so one has to be very cautious when trying to draw conclusions; and 2) We don't think that cats are more seaworthy than monohulls or vice versa - it's just not that simple.


I just received my first issue of Latitude today. What a joy! I've been reading this fine magazine since '83. I don't usually write letters to the editor, but after reading the Nobody Was On Deck letter from September 2000, I had to voice my feelings. To paraphrase the author, Mr. Pursell:

"I was becalmed aboard my Mariner 31."
Dead in the water . . .

"Two children were below, asleep."
He is a protector. . .

"There is a 14-ton steel vessel bearing down on me."
All systems on alert for action. . .

"I decided that the approaching vessel was swinging by to say 'Hello'."
Closed minded decision . . .

"I watched this boat maintain a collision course for one half hour."
Oh, really?

"I became more and more concerned."
Yes, and . . .

"I noticed that no one was on the helm."
Cause for more concern?

"I seemed to think I should jump up and down and yell 'ahoy'."
This is getting thin . . .

"At a particular point, I should have started the motor."
We're thinking here, albeit, a little late. . .

"I was frozen, like a deer caught in the headlights."

Mr. Purcell is either trying to put one over on the reader, or his claims to have 50,000 miles under his keel are a bit far fetched. I'll refrain from commenting on certain points - such as seamanship, personal responsibility and, I hate to say it, child endangerment. My children would have been roused from their slumber and into lifevests. And the diesel would have been roaring - as we got the hell out of the way!

P.S. I love Latitude.

J. Craig Uhrhan

J. Craig - Thanks for the kind words. We agree that if someone is rammed by a boat they've watched slowly approach for half an hour, it seems as if they might have been able to do something. On the other hand, there could have been all kinds of mitigating circumstances - geographical and otherwise. Without knowing them, it's probably best to withhold judgement.


Having to abandon a boat at sea must be frightening and extremely dangerous. I can't report on it firsthand, thank goodness, but I have come through some rough situations - such as the Queen's Birthday Storm - and my heart goes out to all those who've had to abandon their boats at sea. But it raises an important issue. What is the proper thing to do when you leave your disabled boat to board a rescue vessel or get into a liferaft? Should you sink her by cutting a seawater inlet hose, such as the crew on Pilot did, or get off and let the boat drift and hope to be able to recover her later, as the couple from Ramtha did?

I read reports of boats being abandoned each year, and usually hear that they were left afloat rather than sunk. Usually I get concerned about this when I'm sailing at hull speed on a dark night with little visibility. I keep wondering if some unmanned, abandoned vessel might be out of sight just over the horizon, posing a threat to the safety of my boat and my own life.

The fate of one's boat may be the last thing considered in the midst of disaster and emergency. Therefore, I think it would be prudent for each of us to know our own minds about this issue - as well as the moral and legal liabilities incurred by the decision to leave such a boat afloat - in case we're ever faced with such an unfortunate situation. I'd like to hear what you and your readers think.

P.S. Our compliments on a fine publication.

Chuck Houlihan and Linda Edeiken
Jacaranda, Allied 39
San Diego

Chuck & Linda - The last thing anybody should do in most situations is leave their boat until it virtually sinks beneath them - which would take care of the problem right there. But there are unusual circumstances - a ship standing by in the middle of the ocean that can't wait forever for you to decide to stick with or abandon your vessel - when you wouldn't have time to think about making such a decision. To be honest, we're unsure of the moral and legal responsibilities, but we think our decision would depend a great deal on the circumstances: how badly the boat was damaged, the likelihood of her being recovered, whether she was in heavily trafficked waters, and so forth. At the very least, we'd illuminate the boat. If circumstances permitted, we'd leave a transmitting EPIRB aboard. And if we did abandon a still floating vessel, we'd take some comfort in the fact that in numerical terms, it would be a relatively miniscule problem compared to that of all the half-submerged containers bobbing around in the oceans of the world.

By the way, the folks who abandoned
Ramtha assumed they would never see her again. They were shocked to be informed that their cat had been found in quite good shape near Tonga about two weeks later. They reclaimed her and eventually sailed back to Australia.


Wayne and I sold our Crealock 37 in January of this year. We'd used the boat in the '97 Ha-Ha and for cruising Mexico until we did the bash back up to San Diego in '99. Our bash back was in order to buy a bigger boat. After traveling from San Diego to Bellingham, we finally found our new boat - a 1979 Fuji 45 ketch - in our old stomping grounds of Alameda!

As part of our preparation to take the boat south, we took our liferaft to Sal of Sal's Liferafts in Oakland. And boy, are we glad we did! It seems that the previous inspection had been lame at best. Sal insisted we be there for the inspection. When we tried to inflate the raft, there wasn't enough air in the cannister to do the job, so the tubes only partially filled. We also learned that everything was eight years out of date. Furthermore, the pump to inflate the tubes no longer worked.

If you don't have firsthand knowledge of the condition of your raft, take it into somebody with a good reputation. By the way, the person who last inspected the raft is no longer in business. What a surprise! You hope you never have to use your liferaft, but if you do, you want to be able to count on it.

Cherry and Wayne Knapp
Temptress, Fuji 45

Cherry & Wayne - That's good advice. Lots of mariners don't seem to understand that liferafts will deteriorate badly if exposed to water and heat for several years. If they're inspected each year as they should be, they'll last much, much longer.

Just before the start of the Ha-Ha we borrowed a friend's liferaft intending to take it along on the trip. We took it in for inspection - and it failed with flying colors. We now have a new eight-person raft we intend to take very good care of.


I just bought an old O'Day 20 real cheap - $1,500 - and, yes, she floats. I want to learn how to sail, but only have a budget of about $500 for that purpose. Do you have any suggestions on a school to teach me the basics? Do you think it would be too dangerous for me to take the boat to a lake and learn myself? I bought a book on sailing fundamentals and have already learned quite a bit from that. Finally, is there going to be a Baja Ha-Ha again next year?

Daniel Blake
O'Day 20 Owner

Daniel - There are a number of commerical sailing schools around the Bay that offer a wide variety of excellent classes at all levels. But if you're on a tight budget, there are other options. The classic way to learn to sail is by going out with a friend/mentor, either on their boat or your own boat. If you do it this way, you can save your $500 to fix up and equip your boat - although your training might not be as professional. Many other sailors have started with community based sailing programs, which often use El Toros or other dinghies for instruction. This is fine, because everything you learn in such little boats will translate to your own boat. After only a few hours you might well be prepared enough to take your own boat out on a lake - although it would be best to have an accomplished sailor come along to check you out. In addition, many yacht clubs - which are overwhelmingly not bastions of the rich and arrogant - offer very low cost sailing programs. Finally, you could hire any number of licensed captains to tutor you on your own boat for about $25/hour. Learning how to sail doesn't have to be expensive, and once you've got the basics down and a feel for safety, you can refine your technique for the rest of your life on your own boat or by sailing with others.

By the way, we have fond memories of buying boats for $1,500. About 12 years ago we bought a Cal 25 for that price on a Wednesday, and that weekend trailered it to the Sea of Cortez. What a great adventure! Small boats offer a big bang for the buck.

The Grand Poobah tells us that as a result of another great group of people in the recent Ha-Ha, there will be another one in 2001. In fact, it will start from San Diego on October 30.


Greetings from the Isle of Youth, which is south of mainland Cuba. We started to write over a year ago, but got caught up in fun stuff and time just flew past. You know how it is when you're spending time on and in the water.

It seems as though we're about the only cruising boat in Cuba, at least on the south side. The few other cruising boats that came down here left about a month before we arrived, so we're hanging on our own. We're also searching out resources, because we have a problem. We discovered that our cruising guides are on the edge of being outdated, and therefore don't agree with each other on details - such as underwater obstructions. After all, they were written five years ago, and much has changed since then. Furthermore, our set of Cuban charts lacks detail - probably because there are still some places the Cuban government doesn't want cruisers to go. This is a long way of getting around to saying that we found a coral reef a few days ago, one that didn't appear on the charts. As a result, our Manta 40 catamaran now has a hole in her port keel and a chewed up starboard rudder.

We now need to consider all the options for getting the boat repaired. Our only means of communication is email, and occasionally, when the propagation is good, SSB cruisers' nets. We have no phone, no Internet access, and there are no resources available in Cuba - such as parts, publications or anything normally associated with a First or even Second World cruising area. SailMail is our lifeline to friends, family and the rest of the world. By the way, thanks for recommending it!

So far we've contacted friends via email, and have used their suggestions to contact Caribbean charter companies who maintain fleets in this part of the world. We've had a suggestion to try the Rio Dulce in Guatemala, although a straight shot to the Yucatan Peninsula and Isla Mujeres or Cancun would be better for us. Do you have any information in your archives about the possibility of hauling out a 40-foot cat in the Yucatan area? How about Belize? Our 40-foot cat has a beam of 21 feet.

Gene Ferris and Marcia Mason
Manta 40, Pangaea

Gene & Marcia - Sorry, we weren't able to answer your question in a timely manner because we were out of town. But given your location to the south of the Cuban mainland, we suspect you soon learned that you had a variety of options. For example, it's only 180 miles south to the Cayman Islands and a similar distance west to Cozumel. Both places have tourist catamarans which means they have places to haul them out. When we cruised our boat to Veradero, Cuba, we visited several large Cuba-based cats, so you can haul out there, too. But if you're going that far, you might as well continue on to Key West, where there are many large cats. At least you can count your blessings: a hole in your cat isn't going to prevent you from traveling around the Caribbean to find the best place to have the boat repaired.

No other cruising boats in Cuba? Maybe not on the south side of the island, but surely there are a bunch on the north coast near Hemingway Marina.


Last month my son and I joined some friends in bringing their newly acquired Fisher 37 from Santa Barbara to Sausalito. It was a great trip, with stops along the way at such places as Cojo anchorage, Morro Bay (with the world-class nice folks at the MBYC), San Simeon, Año Nuevo Island, and on to The City.

We left Santa Barbara in the fog, which soon lifted to reveal a clear and calm morning. We motored along and enjoyed bow-wave visits from dolphins. After a while, though, the dolphins split and we found ourselves motoring into a seemingly endless slick of crude oil. It was a thin film, but there was enough oil to foul the air - as a paving machine does on a highway. It also turned our white wake an unsavory brown. It wasn't until we passed an oil rig that we got out of the smelly, disgusting oil.

I grew up in the Bay Area and never had much exposure to oil rigs, so maybe I'm a little uninformed as to what is winked at by the EPA regarding Big Oil. But this was bad. Does it happen on a routine basis? Is the non-boating public aware of it? I would think they would be, what with the gooey gobs of oil along the beaches at Santa Barbara. Who's supposed to be watching those guys?

John Boye
Fisksatra 25, Tom Thumb
Brookings, OR

John - It's indeed normal for there to be large sheens of oil, big globs of tar, and a dreadful petroleum stench in the Santa Barbara Channel - particularly a mile or two offshore about halfway between Santa Barbara and Point Conception. Many people assume that it has something to do with the oil rigs, but it's all natural - sort of like the La Brea tar pits in L.A. In fact, the tar globs and oil have been oozing out of the bottom of the Santa Barbara Channel for ages. The Chumash Indians used the stuff to waterproof the seams in their canoes when they wanted to row across to the Channel Islands for some uncrowded surfing. Big Oil is guilty of many sins - and so are we consumers for becoming so dependent on it - but this isn't one of them. Incidentally, steer well clear of the stuff as during warm weather the big blobs of tar will stick to fiberglass hulls. It's very difficult to remove.


I had the chance to visit Jack London Square on the Oakland Estuary, during the NCMA's fall boat show. While on the docks, I was appalled to witness the flagrant and wanton disregard of the basic boating speed law that regulates boat speed on the waters of this state. I watched boat after boat performing 'fly-bys' at well over 5 mph and not more than 50 feet from the docks. While the wakes entertained some folks, this certainly wasn't the case with those whose boats were in danger of being damaged. I was amazed that the skippers of the fast-moving boats just didn't seem to care. The most surprising thing is that most of the offending boats were not runabounts operated by typical weekend warriors, but vessels 30 to 45 feet long.

I blame two groups of individuals for this unacceptable vessel operation. First, the moron who doesn't know what he's doing. Such individuals should exchange their big boats for runabouts. Secondly, local law enforcement for not educating the ignorant through citations. I don't believe Big Brother should control our everyday affairs, but government does have a purpose - and one of them is to keep irresponsible skippers away from the rest of us. After a few $259 boating citations, these operators might think twice the next time they're on the water.

R. Jacoby

R. - For those who may have forgotten the law, there is a 5 mph speed limit for vessels under power within 200 feet of boat docks. We think a couple of more signs along the Estuary wouldn't hurt - in fact, it would be an intelligent use of all the money we mariners pay in boat taxes. A few warnings by law enforcement - followed by citations to repeat violators - wouldn't hurt either. On a personal level, the repeated sounding of a horn while pointing at the offending skipper during the day, or a bright light directed at the offending boat at night often seem to bring positive results.


I've just come across your Web site, and have read through a lot of your previous posts. What a great source of inspiration and sage advice. Some 15 years ago, I owned and lived aboard a little 26-ft timber gaffer. It was my intention to do extended cruising, but apart from exploring the top end of Australia, I never ventured overseas - mainly due to the strength and size of the boat. But it was always my dream to continue this adventure, and after five years of college and another seven years of working in internet technology, I'm finding it harder than ever to live on land. During this period, I've unfortunately narrowed down my wish list for a boat - and am coming to the conclusion that either I'll have to build this thing or settle for less in a second hand boat. It's the old dilemma of having too much time on land to contemplate the perfect cruising boat.

My wish list? A 50-foot full-keel, double-ended, gaff-rig in either steel or alloy, with a Gardner diesel and variable pitch propeller - which I already have. I also want abovedecks living, flush decks, and an engine room with headroom. My theory is that 50 feet of boat is required for marital sanity, abovedecks living gives comfort in port and protection at sea, and a full size engine room will mean sanity rather than frustration when it comes to maintenance. I don't care if I only get 50 degrees to weather or six knots of cruising speed.

All this would be expensive, traditional and probably excessive. But having read previous letters on your site about the benefits of buying over building, I'd be keen to hear suggestions as to why my wish list is completely unreasonable - or better still, how I might be able to go about some way to achieving it without building.

Andrew McClure
andrew at amac.com.au

Andrew - Only you can judge whether your wish list is "completely unreasonable", as you're the one who is going to have to pay the bills and live with the results. But if you want our opinion, you first need to ask yourself whether you aspire to be a boatbuilder or a cruiser. If the thought of spending the next five to 15 years building what you hope will be a perfect boat gets you hot - and will keep you hot for the duration - take that path. But if it's cruising that you really want to do, maybe you should consider some compromises. After all, would you dismiss an otherwise perfect boat just because it wasn't double-ended or because it had a Perkins diesel as opposed to a Gardner? We sure wouldn't.

If you decide that you absolutely must have a custom boat as opposed to buying one that already exists, you'll almost certainly end up better off emotionally and financially if you keep working in the lucrative internet tech field doing your thing and using the money you earn to hire boatbuilders to do their thing. Custom boats are expensive - but after the boat is ultimately sold years later and all costs are factored in, they are often half the price of owner-built boats.


My daughter, who grew up sailing my Pearson both on the Bay and here in the Delta, just bought a 1966 Tidewater 24 sailboat. We have tried to find out some information on Tidewater boats, but without success. I know from past experience that your readers are the best informed sailors in the world, so maybe they could help.

William J. Grummel
Bethel Island

William - We're not familiar with the boat. Lots of boat companies formed in the mid-'60s with the advent of fiberglass boats - and quickly folded. But perhaps one of our readers can help.


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. In Bermuda, for example, I paid $216 for a visit to the hospital emergency room to care for a major 'boat bite'. In St. Lucia, I paid $30 for a doctor's visit and $48 for an ultrasound.

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. 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 quite 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 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 in newspaper format that's produced in the Caribbean. It provides timely local information, letters that are very useful to cruisers and racers, and content similar to Latitude. I suspect it's what Latitude might have looked like in the early years.

Roger Bohl
Ariadne II, Stamas 44

Roger - Like you, we enjoy the Caribbean Compass, which used to bill itself as the 'Marine Monthly of the Southern Caribbean'. Now they cover all the way up the chain to the Virgin Islands. Although we've only met our counterparts over the phone, they're great folks, and they produce a publication far superior to what ours was like in the early years. For subscription information, visit their website at www.caribbeancompass.com. Although their 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 to Trinidad.


I've owned my boat - a Diana 38 - for three years, but have never seen or even heard of a sistership. She's 38 feet long, 34 feet on the waterline, and has a beam of 11 feet. She's cutter rigged, and has a canoe stern and a cutaway keel. G.H. Stadel III did the design, her mold was made at the Ta Shing Boatworks, but she was built by Tung Hwa Industrial Co. in Taiwan. If anyone owns or has information on this design, I wish they'd contact me at eveningtide at hotmail.com.

Don Smith
Garden Grove


I was sorry to read of the untimely death of Shimon Van Collie. His sense of humor brought some real joy into my life, particularly his article way back in time about the then 'new' Richmond Marina. I don't know if anyone has considered it, but I think it would be a fitting tribute for his family to publish a book of his stories, anecdotes and quotes. And wouldn't this be a great way to finance his son's education?

James McPherson

James - Shimon left a great body of work in his writings for Latitude, Sailing and other publications. It would indeed be a fitting tribute if someone could put them together in a book. While Latitude doesn't have the resources or manpower for such an undertaking, we'd be delighted to cooperate with anyone who did. Additionally, we'd like to remind everyone that there is a fund set up for Shimon's son Chai. Checks can be made out to Chai Van Collie and sent to 5223 Gordon Ave., El Cerrito, CA, 94530.

CAL 37

Does anybody know where I can find more information about my boat Pacifier, a 1970 Cal 37? From what I understand, she was the last of eight boats that came out of the Cal 40 mold with three feet taken off the transom. According to my boat's previous owner of 14 years, designer William Lapworth and builder Jensen Marine got into a legal battle over whether Jensen was authorized to build the shorter boat. After my boat was finished, the mold was destroyed.

George Books
Pacifier II, Cal 37

George - Eliminating the last three feet of a Cal 40 is ruining a masterpiece - sort of like cutting the bottom two feet off of Michaelangelo's statue of David so it would fit into somebody's den. We don't know the whole story behind the Cal 37s, but there are probably some people around the Los Angeles YC who do.


My opinion on Latitude's Crew List is that it's a great idea - but also sad. San Francisco is supposed to be the center of the world for liberated, independent, intelligent women, and so you would think they all would like the adventure of a sailing trip to Mexico and/or the South Pacific and/or around the world. I figure there are probably 20,000 single women in the San Francisco Bay Area available for the adventure of their lives. But how many of these women are under the age of 45 and put their names on the Crew List for Mexico? A total of just 16.

I'm leaving on my big adventure in approximately five months, but will delay it until I find the right lady for the trip. Since I am working in Paris two to three weeks a month, it's very difficult to follow through on such a quest. So I'll continue to go through the normal 20 minute phone call and 30 minute lunch to find a lady for my/our trip. I know she is out there someplace.

By the way, the following are some of my experiences looking for female crew, not just from Latitude's Crew List, but also from contacts with other sailing friends:

- One nice lady I had lunch with asked if there was a chance we could get married before we left.

- One asked if I wouldn't mind paying for college for her two daughters and making the $3,500/month mortgage payment on her home.

- One lady asked if she could bring her four kids and dog along.

- The last one told me she wouldn't cook, and wouldn't sail any leg longer than five days, but would fly there to meet me at the next port. Nor did she want to help to get the boat ready.

Along these lines, several women have told me that my call was the only one they received and/or I was the only one to meet them face to face at lunch. Some women told me they only got one or two calls off the Crew List.

My good friend Rob Walter, a doctor from Seattle, left on his big adventure. He got as far as Bora Bora, at which time his girlfriend, also a doctor, told him it was too boring and flew home. Now my friend has spent the last four weeks in Tahiti trying to find someone else so he can continue his adventure.

It's not that easy, but my search goes on. Great magazine.

Clayton Bowman
Paris/Newport Beach

Clayton - If you think that 'all the independent, intelligent and liberated women in the San Francisco area' want to make a long cruise on a sailboat, you need to study up on the Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus book. While there are many exceptions, the primary interests of the majority of women are things like motherhood, relationships, a home, security and comfort. "All" of them don't want to go cruising; heck, hardly any of them do! And many of the ones that do go only start because they want to maintain a relationship with a husband or boyfriend.

You're obviously interested in developing a relationship with a woman. Nothing wrong with that. But most of the women who sign up for or respond to the Crew List are primarily interested in sailing - at least in the beginning. When it comes to speed, dealing with women is like dealing with Mexican officials: slow is fast. Also understand that many women prefer to call potential skippers as opposed to having their name on the list. If you don't understand why, ask a couple of women.

We're not very interested in dispensing relationship advice, but delaying your trip until you find a woman is both trying too hard and getting everything backwards. After all, most relationships happen when people aren't trying. Take it from 'Lonesome Roy' Wessbecher of
Breta, the all-time female crew magnet. When Roy took off to sail around the world on his humble Columbia 34, he assumed he'd have to do it alone because he wasn't a good enough sailor to take crew. In other words, he was a modest guy with a vision. Women just love modest guys with visions. Small wonder that 17 of the 18 crew Roy ultimately signed on were women - some of whom were raging babes. Roy had so many women crew he ended up turning off the spigot.

So follow your dream and let the relationships fall into place. Trust us, you have no idea how many relationships - and marriages - have been spawned by the Crew Lists and the Ha-Has. After all, everyone knows that there's no better environment for relationships than an adventure. Besides, when you're moving, you're always meeting new people. Finally, like food, there are women all over the world. What's to stop you from meeting someone in Costa Rica or Panama? Or New Zealand or Australia. Frank Robben of
Kialoa II met his wife in Sri Lanka.


A few months ago, I put an ad in Latitude's Crew List to seek a first mate or crew position on a boat. A few women sailors contacted me to ask how my search was progressing. After spending this summer sailing in San Francisco, San Diego, the Caribbean, and the San Juans, I offer the following progress report:

First of all, I would like to thank the many skippers who 'showed me the ropes' and were gentlemen by respecting my request to be 'friends first'. This request helped to keep expectations down. It also helped to separate out the skippers who were only looking for a bed partner instead of someone who wanted to be a crewmember, too.

After initial contact was made, I would begin by communicating by email and phone. In my emails, I would ask questions about their geographical and physical preferences. I welcomed questions from them, too. If our answers matched well, we'd then progress to phone conversations. The next very critical step was to meet one another. I paid for all of my transportation, and I took turns paying expenses to keep monetary obligations at bay. Guys who came on too fast and hot lost major points. As gentlemen know, this is not the way to compliment a lady! Most of my experiences were positive - until I flew to Puerto Vallarta to check out the sailing scene. I met a powerboat skipper whom I had been in contact with. This deviated from my sailing goal, but I want to learn everything about all boats.

The quality of the skipper's boat is another vital factor for me, along with the skipper's integrity and experience. It was disappointing to discover that the fellow's powerboat was poorly maintained - a major red light for me. I also found out that the skipper had outright lied to me. He hadn't been divorced twice as he had claimed, but six times! When I told him that his interrupting and yelling weren't appropriate, he demanded that I pack up and get off of his boat - or he would throw me into the Paradise Marina. He claimed that this was his right under Mexican maritime law! He made this threat twice as I quickly packed.

Although it was almost midnight, a hospitable lady boater nearby welcomed me and my belongings aboard - as the skipper of the powerboat tried to get security to throw me out. Since that traumatic night, other boaters have been very helpful to me - and mentioned this fellow has a bad reputation in Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan. From this experience I have learned another vital step: ask for references from previous crewmem-bers.

Unfortunately, this skipper continued this confrontational drama by sending ''a warning'' filled with absurd accusations and lies about me to other skippers. This has been a very upsetting situation for me, since I have had many favorable sailing experiences.

My search for a skipper and a gentleman has been a process mainly centering around wants and needs, and how to express them. Besides communicating clearly about each other's expectations and experiences, it has been useful to be monetarily independent, and to get references. To be treated badly is a difficult experience, but I know that what goes around, comes around. I hope that this information will be helpful for others on their search.

Name Withheld

N.W. - Thanks for sharing your experiences and advice. Nobody deserves to be treated badly by anyone, so we're glad you got the support you deserved from the others in Puerto Vallarta.


In a reply to an earlier letter on 10-knot average speeds, it was stated that, "If you motor at 15 knots for half a passage, you only have to sail at five knots during the other half to average 10 knots for the whole thing."

Certainly the average of the two numbers 15 and 5 is 10, however that will not be the average speed for the total passage. Take an example: The first half is 15 nautical miles and the boat speed is 15 knots. That takes one hour. Next, the other half - 15 nautical miles more - if done at five knots, takes another three hours. The total number of hours is four for the total distance of 30 nm, which translates to an average speed of 30/4 = 7.5 knots. Not 10 knots.

This is a good example of one of the ways math teachers often trick students. One needs to consider the total time in addition to the two different average speeds.

To get the necessary speed for the second half of the trip, the total distance divided by the overall average speed will give the total time. In the above case, 30nm/10kt = 3 hours. Thus, if the first half took one hour, the second half had to be completed in two hours to get the average to 10 knots. The second half speed would thus need to be 15nm/2hrs = 7.5 knots.

P.S. I enjoy your 'Lectronic Latitude site. Someone earlier wrote to compliment you on the clean presentation, free of all the flashing scripts and logos that are now so common to many Web sites. I'll second that. I also enjoyed seeing the Panama Canal explanation diagrammed in the November Letters.

Wayne Schnepple
Santa Barbara

Wayne - As you have so clearly demonstrated, we tricked ourselves. Thanks for pointing out our error.


Your suggestion that Se Fjern beeline to Catalina Island and ditch the frigid Delta for the winter season was brilliant. We headed south from Puget Sound in September of '99, dinkin' all the way. We ended up at Catalina's Cat Harbor for almost two months, spending Christmas there and bringing in the New Year. If it weren't for my need to supplement the kitty, I'd still be out there instead of laying varnish here in San Diego. I can't understand why more folks don't spend more wintertime at Catalina. When you pay for two day's of mooring, you get the next five days for free! The food is expensive, however, so stock up before heading out.

Six more weeks of varnish, and we're outta' here. Save us some Baja heat.

Manchester, WA


I'm responding to Joe Cox's November issue inquiry about Clipper Marine boats. I've had quite a bit of experience with the Clippers, having owned a 21-footer exactly like his. Based on my experience, I have to say that you fair weather cousins at Latitude must not be familiar with the Clipper experience - and probably wear PFDs in the shower. I took my Clipper 21 out to sea from Santa Cruz numerous times and had a lot of fun. I have also sailed the Clipper 21 on San Francisco Bay. She's a fast boat in strong wind.

In any event, here's my two cents on Clipper 21 safety and performance:

1) The Clipper 21s were fitted with an iron swing keel that is hinged with a large bolt or pin through the keel envelope in the hull. These need to be checked and the bolt needs to be inspected and/or replaced with one made of stainless steel. Make sure there are large plates on either side under the bolt head and nut so the load is distributed evenly on the envelope.

2) Keel: When the boat pitches fore and aft, the keel has a tendency to swing fore and aft, causing it to bang into the front end of the envelope where the bottom of the boat gives way to the keel slot. This is a bad thing - and will lead to structural failure and leaking in this area. I have seen several Clipper 21s - mine included - with this problem. You can test for a leak by filling the bilge with 40 gallons or so of water while the boat is out of the water. If you find a leak, dry everything for a couple of days and then apply at least four layers of woven roving and some mat using polyester resin to eight inches out from the envelope joint. I never had any problems with my swing keel after I made that repair - and I owned the boat for 12 years. A friend of mine still owns that boat and he's still a friend - and his wife likes the boat.

3) Before I was finished with the keel, I made a special guard from heavy rubber pad and fitted it up inside the envelope around the leading edge of the keel. The keel pin held it in place via two holes drilled in the rubber guard. When the keel is in the down position the rubber fold protects it from smacking the fiberglass. The pad was like a piece of 11 x 17 paper folded in half the short way. Stuff it up in the slot and mark the holes.

4) Lastly on the keel, if you keep a bit of tension on the winch, it will prevent the keel from banging around. I think some boats may have had extra holes for stopper pins. The way to use the stopper bolts is to let the keel down all the way, put in the stopper bolts, and then wind the keel back up a bit and against the stopper pins. This would prevent the keel from swinging and also rake it back a bit.

5) Moving the keel back has a lot of effect on performance. If the boat develops weather helm on a hard reach, crank the keel up a bit. I know this sounds dangerous, but you only lose a little righting force as the keel is mostly moving back rather than up. And it eliminates weather helm giving you a blast of speed. Thanks to the boat's flat bottom, it was not uncommon for my Clipper 21 to go 10 knots off Santa Cruz on a good day. Yeah, that's fast.

6) The stopper pins and safety. If stopper pins are not in place and the boat heels way over or takes a knockdown, it's possible for the swing keel to slide back up into its envelope - which is a bad thing. If this happens, the boat may not right itself quickly. This situation is extremely rare, but you should be aware of it.

7) One final note on performance. In heavy wind, which is the condition in which we often sailed the boat, we would move the main traveler all the way to windward and then ease the main sheet out with the vang off. Doing this created a large arc in the leech, dumping the excess wind out of the sail - and seemed to give us the most speed. It's kind of unique to Clipper 21s. I'm not sure why this worked, but perhaps it had something to do with the keel in the slightly raised position.

One final thing. You folks at Latitude mentioned there is a guy who does a good job of sailing a blue on blue Clipper Marine 30 out of Sausalito. I'm that guy. My Clipper 30 does 7+ knots all day long when on a reach in The Slot - and looks darn good doing it! For the record, I have refitted the keel and the rig has all new hardware. But I'll match my lady with anybody else's anytime.

P.S. Just outside of the Clipper Yacht Harbor Office in Sausalito - which was named after the Clipper line of boats - sits one of the first boats built by Crealock.

Brad Alvis
Stepping Stone, CM-30

Brad - You put a nice reef in your main and obviously enjoy your Clipper 30, both of which are great. But we're still skeptical of whether the Clipper Marine boats were designed and built for rough weather sailing. But we'll leave the final decision up to buyers and their surveyors. And we're surely skeptical of any 21-foot displacement sailboat ever hitting 10 knots.

What we know for sure is that you're confused about a relationship between Clipper Yacht Harbor and Clipper Marine fiberglass sailboats. Cliff Andersen, owner of Clipper Yacht Harbor, started building the Myron Spaulding-designed 17-foot Clippers in 1937 behind the Marin Theatre on Caledonia Street. Hull #1 of that design indeed sits in front of the marina offices. In 1948, Cliff and Shirley Morgan bought what was to become Basin #1 from the War Assets Administration, and acquired the land for the additional basins over the next few years. Clipper Marine wasn't started until the '60s in Southern California, so the marina couldn't have been named after it. Indeed, there is no relation between Clipper Yacht Harbor and Clipper Marine fiberglass boats.


[Editor's note: We received this letter two months ago, but it temporarily got lost on the hard drive.]

Your article on the Pacific Cup 2000 stimulated quite a bit of conversation by and amongst the crew of Alcyone. The photograph of Alcyone with the emergency rudder mounted is accurate, but the accuracy ends there. The caption states, "Alcyone's 'emergency rudder' wasn't up to the task. They had to be towed in." Hello? Where did you get that information? Certainly not from me, the owner, nor from any of the crewmembers.

I recently had the occasion to meet and speak with Paul Kamen, who wrote the story. He acknowledged that his information came from "sources" inside Latitude. After hearing what really happened, he suggested that I send a letter in to be published and set the record straight. Here's that story:

Just after midnight on July 25, we were sailing my Hinckley sloop under a double reefed mainsail and a partially furled blast reacher. The winds were blowing 20-24 knots and the seas were 8-14 feet. Two crew were on watch, wearing approved inflatable PFDs and tethers attached to pad-eyes in the cockpit. Suddenly the boat took a sharp heel and rounded up a bit. This was followed by an even sharper heel and rounding. The heeling was of enough force that the crewman on the starboard cockpit seat was thrown across the cockpit onto the port side. Our memories are not perfect, so we are not sure whether the "loud bang" happened on the heel or the recovery, but in any case, we quickly discovered that the upper bearing housing of the rudder post had sheared away from the boat. In addition, the rudder had dropped down and was 'soup spooning'.

The on-watch crew called below for assistance. They didn't have to wake me up, as I was sleeping in the quarter berth and the violent heel had brought my eyes wide open. We quickly assessed the situation and broke out the emergency rudder and mounted it on the transom. We exercised the emergency rudder to insure that it could steer the boat, and then turned our attention to the damage.

The crew of Alcyone was made up of seasoned sailors and racers, and included a licensed merchant marine captain. We quickly determined that we could stop the slewing of the rudder post by rigging lines up through the lazarette to the port and starboard sheet winches, thereby stabilizing the movement. We then used the main halyard to connect - through the access hole - onto a jury-rigged loop on top of the rudder post. We were therefore able to pull the rudder and bearing housing back up and against its original anchor point. This allowed us to steer, albeit gently, with the main rudder.

The next step was to more securely attach the bearing housing back to the boat. This was done by using bolts and nuts that were in our various onboard kits, and borrowing others from padeyes and cleats that would not be needed in the short term. We drilled six holes up through the bearing housing and on up through the helmsman's seat and reattached the housing to the boat. With the main halyard now being used to continue to support our fix, we deployed the storm trysail on the main mast, using a spare halyard, and rigged a block and tackle to control the leech and foot of the sail.

When the rudder dropped down, it damaged the stuffing box at the lower bearing. After our repairs were completed, we inspected and found that the stuffing box was leaking, and we were taking on water. We repaired the stuffing box as best we could, which slowed down the water incursion, but did not stop the flow. So we deployed the belowdecks hand bilge pump, and made the abovedecks hand bilge pump ready for immediate deployment. The electric bilge pump was keeping up with the incoming water, but we wanted to be ready for any further water problems.

While this was going on, we also initiated contact with the Coast Guard at Com Sta Kodiak, Alaska. Why not Coast Guard Hawaii? Well, we could not raise anyone on the designated emergency channel, and were not able to raise Coast Guard Hawaii on their working channels. Com Sta Kodiak was very responsive and, after giving all the initial details of the situation and other particulars that they asked for, we began an hourly radio schedule. So far so good. By the way, we did not need to use the emergency rudder other than to insure that it was installed and working, and that we could use it to steer the boat if necessary.

Next, we had to address the weather situation. Some folks may recall that hurricane Daniel was at that time projected to either hit the northern sides of the islands or pass close to the north. We laid out our track with our new steering and speed capability, and then projected Daniel's track. This showed us a CPA of zero. So, being a prudent mariner, I made the judgment that a boat taking on water with a damaged main rudder wasn't in the proper condition to ride out a hurricane. That's when I called for the tow. We were able to motor sail and meet the tug about 150 miles out. This allowed us to get into Waikiki and get the boat hauled before Daniel passed north of Oahu. We had a new upper bearing housing built by Ala Wai Marine in Waikiki, and Dave Becker and his crew did a great job. We then sailed Alcyone back to Santa Cruz.

I recall meeting someone from Latitude while in the yard, but he didn't ask any questions, saying only that the publisher had asked him to take a photo of the emergency rudder. So it seems that at least two editors of Latitude had more than ample opportunity to get the facts correct. Why didn't it happen?

Jack McGuire, John Wurster, Barry Hopkins, John McGuire, Chris McGuire and Peter Dalton
The crew of Alcyone

Alcyone Crew - Thanks for straightening us out on what really happened to Alcyone. We apologize for our earlier error.

Here's the clarification of how we got your story wrong. First, understand that
Latitude has a tiny editorial staff of just four full time people and one regular contributor. This means that there is never more than one person to cover an event - even if it's a Pacific Cup where there are more than 70 boats and 400 people. And where most of the boats and people - as you probably know - arrive in the middle of the night, then drift off to other parts of the island. Some immediately fly home and some only sporadically reappear, so it can be nearly impossible to track down stories. It's an enormous undertaking for one person.

Yes, there were three
Latitude people in Hawaii after the Pacific Cup. Rob Moore arrived well after it was over, but he was there exclusively to cover the Kenwood Cup. The Wanderer was also there. But having written the last bunch of Pacific Cup stories, he was theoretically on the island only as part of a family vacation. Covering the event was left up to Paul Kamen, a regular contributor. This was perhaps bad planning, as we neglected to realize that Paul - who would win the best navigator award - understandably arrived exhausted and not in the best condition to take on such a big research and writing assignment.

As to the specifics of how we muffed the
Alcyone story, the Wanderer happened to be at the Kaneohe YC when he bumped into Bruce, who was slated to deliver Alcyone back to California. Bruce told the Wanderer that he was looking for a new delivery job because you'd lost your rudder, the emergency rudder apparently wasn't working well, and that you had to be towed in. The Wanderer passed this information along to Kamen, and in the jumble of the following days, it ended up being self-corroborating. If we'd have seen you and known it was you, we'd have certainly asked you about it. But since we assumed we already had the basic story, didn't see the need - or more importantly, have the time - to check it further. That's the downside of a free and understaffed publication.


I was immediately sickened - although not surprised - to hear about the ensuing legal battle regarding the rescue aboard Kokopelli2. I have been on the helping end of a rescue situation, and can report that the internal euphoria and satisfaction of successfully helping someone is instantly converted to anger if you have to mortgage your house to defend yourself. Admittedly, I know only what I've read in Latitude, but it makes it really hard to want to 'do the right thing' and help.

I hope the issue of negligence is limited to the incident and not the rescue - assuming there was any. As we know, sometimes stuff just happens.

Joby Easton

Joby - Perhaps we didn't express ourselves clearly, but we know of no legal action being initiated against any of the rescuers. We apologize if we gave anyone that impression.


I'm responding to the September issue letter from Fred Beach of Quintana Roo about the so-called 'Cape Cod Dining Society' at the Pedro Miguel Boat Club in Panama. I am taken aback by the 'cold shoulder' you were given by the East Coast 'Cape Cod Dining Society' . . . terribly poor manners on their part. However, one of the freedoms allowed members of the Pedro Miguel Boat Club is to pursue individual or group functions in peace. That is one of the reasons many folks cruise, to get away from the conformity of landlocked society. The freedom to associate or not, as one desires, is fundamental to the existence of a true sailor's soul. And we at the Pedro Miguel Boat Club concur.

Incidentally, we looked through our club's files and were unable to find any record of a visit to the club by you or a boat named Quintana Roo. The Panama Canal has no record either. I cannot understand why one would use anonymity or deceit when publicly disparaging an individual or group.

If you are still trying to get invited to dine 'Cape Cod' style, which you appear desperate to do, there are better ways. Is it possible that you were traumatized when visiting New England as a youth and are having flashbacks of being excluded from a clam bake? While I would agree that most New Englanders are a bit 'reserved', I have never heard a New Englander whine about being excluded from the West Coaster's sundowner club. I can only assume that they are confident and content to be part of the Cape Cod Dining Society.

In any event, let me know the next time you'll be visiting the club, and I'll try to arrange initiation into the society for you. In the meantime, practice saying good things about people or nothing at all, as one of the prerequisites for entry into the Cape Cod Dining Society is to sit quietly for a day without whining.

Craig Owings
Commodore, Pedro Miguel Boat Club

Craig - We're a little surprised at your somewhat harsh response. First of all, we've received letters from Quintana Roo before, so we don't think the skipper was making his complaint under a false name. We suspect he's cruising around the Pacific Coast of Panama and has visited the Pedro Miguel in person but not with his boat, and as yet hasn't gone through the Canal.

Secondly, we don't think his complaint was completely outrageous. Lots of folks from New England are reserved, and there's nothing wrong with that, but we've also met a few who glide around with airs of superiority. This has always struck us as amusing, for we have no idea who they think they could be superior to - surely not Californians such as ourselves. But we can see how it might tick some people off.

Finally, the most surprising thing is that your tone almost intimates that the PMBC is a bastion of social cliques. It was just the opposite when we were there, and our impression has always been that it's an overwhelming equalitarian place.

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

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