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While I sympathize with Clayton Bowman's predicament - as expressed in the November Letters - of starting his journey "sans first mate," let me assure him that there are some women out there who are very serious about cruising. And Latitude was right in its response: Most women don't want to cruise long term for the reasons that were stated: motherhood, grandmotherhood, miss the girls and that kind of thing.

I have spent a lot of time in many different anchorages throughout the world, and have invariably encountered reluctant singlehanders who have been 'stranded' after their lady friends/first mates jumped ship as a result of the cruising life not living up to the woman's expectations. Latitude and others can do a lot to educate women, not only on the benefits of long-term cruising, but also the reality of it - meaning the trade-offs.

I'm one of the women who is serious about cruising, and I would like to share some of the frustration we women experience. On two occasions I've spent 24 months in relationships with men who were supposedly committed to going cruising. I gave up a 20-year career for one of them - only to find that he just couldn't bring himself to go through the Panama Canal. His explanation was that he didn't want to be too far away from his mother in Virginia, and he didn't have the money to go further. I'm grateful for the 12 months I had cruising in the southern Caribbean, Venezuela and Colombia, but regret that I didn't get to cross the Pacific. Fortunately, I was able to resume my career about 14 months later.

More recently, I parted company with a man who read, talked, emailed, and surfed the Web for nothing but reports of cruising. We planned to leave in November 2001 for an 18-month to two-year cruise of Mexico and the Pacific. This one came to an end in part because of money again, and because he hadn't faced the reality of the trouble and expense of taking his dog across the Pacific. He was a virtual cruiser, not a real one. Two down!

So it's not just women who won't take the plunge and go cruising. There are a lot of men who talk the talk, but only a small percentage of them who actually walk the walk.

If Mr. Bowman's specification of "under 45" were not so specific, I could throw my hat in with him. But not knowing his age, I'll defer. And this brings me to a point that's always irked most women: Why is it that in crew lists and ads, the guys are always seeking women that are 10 to 15 years younger than they are? That might be fine if you look like Mel Gibson, spend like Bill Gates and sail like Tristan Jones, but you probably don't, so forget it! Sure, we'd all like to be paired with the 'body beautiful', but that's not going to get you long-term contentment. I suggest men look for more women their own age.

In so many of the ads put in by men, they specify things like: (a) "looks good in a bikini", and (b) "novice okay, no experience necessary." If you get caught in a storm in the middle of the Pacific - which is where so many of these men say they're headed - what difference does it make how attractive the women's body is? If your life is in her hands, her looks aren't as important as her sailing skills!

Reality is the message I'm trying to put out. Men shouldn't promise things they can't deliver, and women shouldn't believe all the cruising dreams that men promise.

Glenys Taylor
(Temporarily) Grounded Cruiser
Mountain View

Glenys - If we could wave a magic wand that would enable all men and women to connect with a loving partner, we surely would. We'd also wave that wand to rid men of the usually self-destructive quality of wanting only younger and 'Playboy beautiful' women, and women of having a similarly overwhelming preference for tall and affluent men. Unfortunately, we've been unable to find the damn wand, and not enough of us seem to be able to move beyond our basic instincts.

In our opinion, there are many different types of 'cruising', from a couple of months of 'commuter cruising' in Mexico, to a year in the South Pacific, to a 20-year circumnavigation. And there are all kinds of ways that couples handle it. Sometimes the woman is there for every mile, sometimes she doesn't do the longer passages, sometimes she hardly joins the boat at all. Given the variety of options, it seems to us that reasonable and intelligent couples can fashion a cruising experience that is acceptable to both of them.

As for single men and single women finding cruising partners, that's always tough - but perseverance can't hurt. As for women who are truly dedicated to the proposition of long term cruising, our advice is to become a participant in major cruising events. Things like the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, the Ha-Ha, the Darwin to Bali, Fiji Sailing Week, the Port Vila Race, the Eastern Med Rally and the Millennium Med Rally. At such events, you can't help but catch the attention of hundreds of males - some of them single - who have an obvious interest in cruising and women. Furthermore, such group environments are usually quite safe and the opportunities for cruise networking are immediate and unlimited. And surely we don't have to point out that a group of strangers coming together for an outdoor adventure filled with thrills and frights is the world's most potent aphrodisiac.


My brother wants to visit me during Fleet Week 2001. Can you tell me the dates?

Don Konrad
Nonsuch 26, Scat
Northern California

Don - If you'd picked up your copy of Latitude's 2001 Northern California Sailing Calendar, you could have turned to page 49 and found out that Fleet Week will be October 5-7. The Sailing Calendar is available at most places where you pick up Latitudes, and will also be available at the Latitude booth at Sail Expo in April.


So only catamarans qualify as multihulls? I might be a tad biased, but I think the best cruising sailboat ever is the Cross 40 trimaran. Of course, tris are even harder to find than cats, and our Anduril isn't for sale. In fact, she's being outfitted for another long cruise - this time going north from San Francisco in May. Yes, sometimes your kids turn out crazier than you were. It doesn't look as though a third circumnavigation for her is in the plans, but you never can tell because "it's so much easier to keep sailing west."

As for charter cats in the Caribbean, our experience is that most don't sail very well. They're 'room-a-marans' meant for dockside living or partying at anchor - an enjoyable pastime, certainly - not performance sailing.

There is an active fleet of racing tris, mostly F-27s - on the Bay. Anyone interested in finding out more about boats with more than one hull can check the Web site for the Bay Area Multihull Association at www.wingo.com/bama.

Joanne Sandstrom
Anduril, Cross 40

Joanne - Our heartfelt apologies for virtually ignoring cruising trimarans. The focus of cruising multihulls may have shifted from trimarans to catamarans in the last 10 years, but there are still many tris that have made, and continue to make, great cruisers. In fact, if readers poke around the BAMA Web site, they'll find photos of your twice-around Anduril and information on how to buy your circumnavigation book There And Back Again.


I am in mourning over the murder of my friend Wayne Kipp, who was also a friend of many other Bay Area mariners. Wayne was known to many sailors from his tenure at Sobstad Sails, and more recently as the Petaluma Marina Harbormaster.

While at Sobstad in the early '90s, Wayne was my mentor and sailmaker while I campaigned my Santa Cruz 27, Good Timin. All of my boat's racing sails came from Wayne's loft, and he was an excellent coach to both me and my crew. Wayne crewed with us during our wins in the Nationals in '90 and '91. And even though I frequently had doubts about my driving skills, Wayne constantly encouraged me to drive. So in the '92 Nationals, with Wayne at my side, I drove the boat to a second place finish.

While it had been several years since I'd had regular contact with Wayne, this past summer I got to see him more regularly because we were both competing in the J/105 class. And while driving north to Napa with my wife once, we stopped at Petaluma Marina to see if he was in. Fortunately, he was, and, as usual, he gave us a warm greeting and we had a nice conversation.

I will miss Wayne.

Dave Wilson
Northern California

Readers - For more on the tragic and inexplicable murder of Petaluma Harbormaster Wayne Kipp, see this month's Sightings.


I realize that you don't get into the South Bay as much as you may like, which may account for why I haven't seen any of the hard-hitting journalism I have come to expect from Latitude about . . . 'the mystery in the South Bay'. Specifically, what happened to the #3 marker in the South Bay shipping channel? It's gone. Also, the #4 marker is twisted round through 90 degrees, so it now faces across the channel instead of down it. What happened?

Adam Clarke
Integrity, Dullia 24

Adam - We don't know for sure what happened, but if we had to hazard a wild guess it would be that the markers were hit by a tug and/or a barge. After all, it seems unlikely that the damage could have been caused by a truck or plane. If the exact details are important to you, we'll contact the Coasties.


The Coast Guard are the good guys!

On a quiet Christmas Day, some friends and I were motorsailing in light wind and bright sunshine along the Cityfront aboard my boat Tango when I heard a noise that sounded as if we'd gone aground or hit something. But I knew we were in deep water, and when I looked behind the boat for a log or other debris to pop up, there was nothing. Then the prop started making noises, so I assumed we'd wrapped something on it.

So there I was, under sail in front of the St. Francis YC, but drifting backward in a very powerful ebb. We were in no immediate danger because I had steerage and an anchor ready to set, but I felt I needed assistance. So I called Vessel Assist, but they said they'd be slow to respond because of the holiday and that I should try the Coast Guard. Well, the Coast Guard came in a flash in their new aluminum all-weather rescue boat, and towed me to the guest dock at the St. Francis YC. They exercised great care so as not to damage my boat during the tow.

While my boat had been under tow, a huge board with spikes sticking out floated from beneath my boat. After we'd docked, the Coasties helped me check to see that there was no obvious damage to my drive. When they were done with that, they did an extensive safety inspection - and found no violations. Afterwards, the skipper of the Coast Guard vessel invited us aboard for a tour of their new rescue craft. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that we had a female flight attendant as part of our crew.

The Coast Guard crew could not have been more helpful or friendly. What a fabulous and generous safety resource we recreational mariners have at our disposal. They are, in my opinion, too often inappropriately maligned for trying to do their job saving lives. I thank them and commend them.

Howard A. Raphael
Palo Alto

Howard - A few years ago the Coast Guard was often maligned for the 'zero tolerance' policy that was forced on them, as well as countless ill-advised 'safety inspections' mandated by the brass in Washington. Recreational mariners were pissed - and often times we think with good reason. What's more, your average Coastie wasn't too keen on the official policies either.

We'd be hard pressed to pick an exact starting date, but the Coastie-recreational mariner relations have done a 180° about-face over the last three or four years. We can't remember the last time we got a complaint - and we used to get them all the time. Instead, we get letters such as yours, proclaiming what a professional job the Coasties are doing and how friendly they are. Latitude's relations with the Coast Guard have improved dramatically also. Five years ago, we couldn't get any information out of them. But when Capt. Larry Hall took over at Group San Francisco, that all changed. If we have a question, they get us the best answers they can, and promptly. And when it comes to demonstrations for our Crew List Parties, the Coast Guard graciously provides boats, helicopters, in the-water-rescue demonstrations and hands-on flare demonstrations.

Based on everything we've seen and heard, the men and women of the Coast Guard are doing a terrific job. We - who used to blast them more than any other marine publication - salute them for once again being the mariner's best friend.


A reader recently wrote in asking for tips on singlehanding. I have a few to share, as I'm 72 years old and have been regularly singlehanding my Ranger 28 for some years.

1) Simplify the tasks as much as possible, because you're going to have to do them all yourself. For instance, a roller furling jib beats going up on the foredeck.

2) Get an autopilot - preferably one size bigger than is recommended for your size boat. But once you turn the autopilot on, don't forget to keep a lookout because you don't want to get caught in the 'where did that SOB come from?' syndrome.

3) Don't get a bigger boat than you can comfortably handle.

4) Learn how to heave to with your boat, as all boats do react a little differently. There are many reasons for heaving-to: fixing the autopilot or engine or some gear; preparing something to eat and eating it; and getting a fix to find out where in the world you are.

5) Practice. The more you do it, the easier it gets.

6) Stay on the boat. If you fall over, there is nobody to fish you out.

7) Go for it! After all, you don't have to worry about a crew's likes and dislikes.

This is in reply to Donald and Judith Kline on Daisy D, who wrote in about a radio noise problem caused by their Cold Machine. My Cold Machine made a hum on my VHF also. After several Danfoss controllers were replaced because they failed, Adler-Barbour replaced them with one of their own make. This didn't eliminate the hum, but it reduced it greatly. Bill Thomas at Adler-Barbour was very helpful and replaced the controllers at no cost to me. However, I did have to install them and send the old ones back. I would think the manufacturer could put in an electronic filter on the Cold Machines, a filter such as I put on my alternator to cut down the noise on the Loran.

Shep Wagoner
Ranger 28, Abaris
Deltaville, Virginia


In last June's Sightings you ran a short item about a "small sloop colliding with a freighter." That was my boat, Hellebore, a 1984 Ericson 30+, which ironically had been featured not long before in a photo that appeared in Sightings as 'lookin' good'. My boat was in a charter program at the time, and I wasn't aboard. I'd like to explain what happened, and some of the lessons that should be learned from the incident.

On May 6, my boat was sailing between Treasure Island and Alcatraz with six people aboard. One of those people had been deemed competent by the charter company to take the boat out. It was blowing about 22 knots at the time, and despite a low overcast there was good visibility. Although the actual collision occurred halfway between Treasure Island and Alcatraz, the skipper of my boat had seen the approaching freighter from several miles away. He tacked in one direction, decided it was a mistake, and tried to tack back in the other direction. For whatever reason - perhaps he panicked at hearing five blasts from the freighter - he got stuck in irons. He ended up on the lee side of the ship as the freighter's rudder was hard over trying to avoid him. Hellebore's rig collided with the transom of the ship, and she was dragged by her rig until it started to break. Miraculously, there was no hull-to-hull contact, and nobody went overboard or got hurt.

When the charter company advised me of the accident, my first response was thank God that nobody had been injured. Given the circumstances, I think it's a miracle that no one was killed! After the initial shock at the magnitude of the material loss - over $18,000 - I began to wonder how such a thing could happen? Specifically, how somebody that had been deemed competent could hit a 789-foot freighter when there was plenty of room, wind and visibility?

Perhaps the answer lies in an excellent article also in the June Latitude that referred to the "big three tenets of sailing," all of which had been violated. According to you guys, the first is "hull integrity, keep the water out." A 789-foot freighter will - and almost did - violate that one with a vengeance. Secondly, "having a rig and sails to propel you through the water." When in irons, the rig and sails are virtually useless. Third, "being able to steer the boat." If not under sail or auxiliary power, the steerage/rudder is also useless. By the way, no attempt was made to start the engine on my boat. I would like to add a fourth tenet: Exercise common sense, and use and apply it in all abnormal situations!

To add to your further advice of "clear a path, you idiot," I would recommend a few basic specifics of seamanship: Know the shipping paths wherever you sail - including the Bay. Be aware of shipping when it's still far in the distance, pick a path and make a bold move to clear the track, and be predictable! Use the motor if you need it, and have it standing by in idle if there's any question.

A few lessons learned. Have a good insurance agent. My agent is Dave Sneary of McGinness/Fireman's Fund, and he really went to bat for me when some pressure needed to be applied to get the claim finalized. Fireman's Fund surveyor Bill Hansen was a true professional, who ensured there were no financial roadblocks to fixing the boat correctly. Tom and the professionals at South Beach Riggers did an outstanding job of putting ol' Humpty Dumpty back together again. Thanks guys.

I also learned a little about liability. Had the boat been sunk or anyone injured, I could have been sued - since I was the named on the insurance along with the charter company. Protect yourself by ensuring that your boat is seaworthy - and certified to that effect by the Coast Guard's courtesy inspection program. Finally, if your boat is in a charter fleet and there is an accident, you, as the owner, may well incur a financial loss.

Mark Becker
Hellebore, Ericson 30+
San Francisco Bay

Mark - Thanks for providing the details of the incident.

Most skippers know that sailboats are required to stay clear of ships. Unfortunately, most skippers don't seem to understand the concept of staying clear. Let us offer a general guideline. If, when on San Francisco Bay, any ship within two miles of you is on a collision course, put your vessel on a 90° course away from the ship's course. If the wind is light and you're not moving very fast, turn on the engine and get the heck out of the way. When a ship passes, in most circumstances you should be at least a quarter of a mile to one side. If that seems excessive, you probably don't appreciate the fact that the ship's captain/pilot may be trying to avoid several other boats in addition to yours. So stay out of their way. Way the hell out of their way!

A particularly dangerous place on San Francisco Bay is the general area between Angel Island, Alcatraz and Harding Rock, because it's here that outbound ships from the North Bay and the South Bay are in the process of completing a 90° turn. Because they're turning, it's hard to know their final course, and in any event they'll soon be making another turn at Harding Rock. So be on the alert for them - they can sometimes sneak up on you from behind Angel Island - and leave the entire corridor open to them. There is plenty of room on the Bay for everyone - assuming we all use a little common sense.


The price of cruising in paradise - Mexico - has just gone up. Along with a new president, Mexico has a new 'tax' for cruisers that went into effect on January 1, 2001.

Prior to that date, a boat cruising in Mexican waters was required to check in with Immigration, the Port Captain and API at each port of call. Immigration is only required if they happen to have an office in that particular port. The next stop is the Port Captain, where you present your crew list and he stamps and logs your vessel into the port. When it came time to leave, you needed to stop by API and pay your port fees - which amounted to five or six dollars, depending on the tonnage of your vessel, and an anchoring fee which, depending on the port, was about one dollar a day. Upon showing your API receipt and a new crew list to the Port Captain, he would check you out to your next port of call.

But on January 2, a new tax went into effect. It states that all vessels entering or leaving a Mexican port will pay a tax. The tax is based on tonnage, with vessels grossing 0-20 tons charged 141 pesos - about 15 U.S. - and those 20-100 tons charged 212 pesos or about 25 dollars. This tax is levied both on entry and exit of the port. There are also higher charges for vessels over 100 tons.

The cost is bad enough, but there's also a time element. The Port Captain is not permitted to take any money, so you have to have him fill out a five-part form that you then have to take to a bank in order to pay the tax. This can't be done at just any bank, as only Banamex will take your money and stamp the forms. You take the forms back to the Port Captain, who gives you a new receipt and your exit papers.

According to the local newspapers, President Fox's spending plan is greater than his budget. If the cruisers feel that the new tax is affordable and continue to frequent Mexican waters, this new tax may go a long way towards helping the deficit.

John Volk
Friday Harbor, Washington


It's with disappointment that I read in a recent 'Lectronic Latitude about the $15 U.S. fee for check-ins and check-outs at each Mexican port. What a bummer! I don't think that all this peso and centavo-ing of the perceived 'rich' gringo cruisers is a good look for Mexico. From all that I have been gathering about the costs of cruising in Mexico, it is beginning to sound like Southern California del Sur.

In any event, I thought that I would share a couple of points that I recall from my cruise of Mexico from after the '96 Ha-Ha through March of '98. During that time, more than a few Mexican officials carefully searched - and sometimes found - a "beeg problema" with my paperwork that could only be solved with a mordida - usually about $20. One has to make sure to cross all the 't's, dot all the 'i's, make extra copies of everything, and do everything according to a constantly changing and never quite clear 'Hoyle' to avoid this. Having gone through the process dozens of times, I got pretty good at it, but still got nicked occasionally. Perhaps the new fee system will alleviate some of this.

According to more than one Mexican Port Captain that I spoke to, a cruiser is required to check in and out of every port, as well as repeat the formalities and submit a new crew list if there is a crew change. If you were to follow the letter of the law, you would literally have to check in with a new crew list for a daysail on Banderas Bay. I had "beeg problema" with this one time when I had visitors in Loreto, up in the Sea of Cortez.

Not to mention any names, but I knew of cruisers who attempted to circumvent the system by avoiding checking in at some ports. Say they were going to sail from Mazatlan to Acapulco, with stops at Puerto Vallarta, Barra de Navidad and Zihuatanejo, without staying in any marinas. They would check out of Mazatlan and obtain a zarpe (clearance) for Acapulco. They then stopped along the way for 'repairs' in case anybody - such as the Mexican Navy - asked. A boarding by the Mexican Navy was always an exciting experience - if you ever want to see an Uzi up close and personal. A little mordida could usually solve any "beeg problema" in the odd event that one was actually busted along the way. I'm not suggesting, of course, that anybody do this.

Having spent many half days and full days in the Mexican heat visiting Migracion and Capitanias, getting lots of runarounds and waiting in the company of cockroaches for el jefe to return from lunch, siesta or his mistress, I can see why one would opt out of this tedious and unpleasant process whenever possible. On many occasions, I simply hired an agent to do it, although it was expensive. I have to admit that I also bent the rules from time to time.

Having said all this, and having cruised through the South Pacific for the last several years, I have to admit that Mexico still offers some of the best cruising in the world. I miss it and can't wait to return some day. On the other hand, almost all my experiences with formalities in the South Pacific Islands - including Australia and New Zealand - have been quite positive. In all but one case, officials have been efficient, professional and courteous. There are rarely any fees, and I was never obliged to offer anyone more than a soft drink or cup of coffee.

On another subject, every sailmaker brags when their sails are on a winning boat, but nobody is mentioning who built the 'Cuban Fiber' sails that failed on PlayStation. I think the sailing public should know.

George Backhus
Sausalito / Sydney, Australia

George - We're surprised that you had as much trouble as you report, because we don't remember having any problems like that. And Lord knows, we'd do stuff like check out of Cabo for San Diego and then turn up in Mazatlan. But it wasn't a problem and nobody ever wanted any money. Furthermore, we never had an unpleasant experience with the Mexican Navy. How about the rest of you cruisers?

We also think that things have changed quite a bit in Mexico the last couple of years, and are continuing to change. It must have been two years ago in Barra Navidad that we were shocked to see that the Port Captain had a brand new computer. And the word from Mexico is that newly-installed President Fox is cracking down on corruption - and is having success in large part because the PRI was finally voted out of office. And we may be dreaming, but we like to think that the officials and the system in Mexico are on their way to becoming more professional. For example, the maritime laws will be interpreted the same way all over Mexico, and not differently in every port. And there will finally be fair and clear guidance as to the rules pertaining to things like checking in. How far, for instance, must you be anchored from a port in order not to have to check in? Of course, this is going to require some changes on the part of cruisers, too, because many of us have simply ignored laws that were never enforced. What Mexico - and all other governments - need is the fewest but best possible laws and consistent enforcement.

We also think that the Coca Cola-trained President Fox and his mostly market-driven ministers will realize that the current system of cruiser fees is excessively high and based on commercial, rather than recreational, traffic. And further, the whole business of running around to all the different agencies in every port is an outdated and unnecessary waste of time. After all, why don't RV owners have to check in with the mayor's office at every town? We think the ideal solution would be a reasonably priced annual cruising permit, and only having to check into the country once and out of the country once. In any event, people in the industry are working on it. See Sightings for details.

As for
PlayStation's sails, they were built by Halsey-Lidgard of Auckland. As yet, it's unclear if the problem was with the design, the fabric or the construction - or all three. In all fairness, these sails had to be designed for unknown loads not previously experienced on a sailboat, yet be as light as possible. Furthermore, we're a little surprised that they weren't given at least some testing prior to the start of such an important event as The Race. The dock gossip? That Fossett was going to have North Sails in San Diego build the sails - they had done PlayStation's first set - but didn't like the price.


We are writing to report our recent experiences involving check in/out at the port of San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico. It was our second time through this port, which lies about 125 miles south of Mazatlan. There are two ways one can visit San Blas by sea. One is to go into the estuary adjacent to the town. The other is to anchor out in Metanchen Bay which is about a 25-minute dinghy ride from town. It is also feasible to just take the dinghy to shore in the bay and catch a ride into town from one of the palapas.

Last year when we went to the Port Captain's office to check in, our paperwork was efficiently taken care of by the office staff, and in about 20 minutes we were on our way. This year we learned what a difference a year can make. We were obliged to take our paperwork to an agent, who did essentially the same thing the port captain's staff had done the previous year - but for a fee of 200 pesos - which is about $20. When we protested being required to use an agent, we were told that it was a "new law" being put into effect place by the new Port Captain.

We went to see Norm Goldie about this new procedure, since he is known in San Blas for his assistance to cruisers and for his understanding of Mexican officialdom. As many of your readers know, Norm has had many health problems recently, and is not actively involved in cruisers' aid these days. Nevertheless, he called up the Port Captain's office from his house using his speakerphone, and was told that non-Mexican vessels are, indeed, required to use the agent. An added comment from that office also made it clear that boats anchored in Metanchen Bay, as well as boats using the San Blas estuary, are required to check in. If checking in from the bay is a requirement, it is one being systematically ignored by cruisers. There was an average of 20 boats anchored out each of the two days we were there. When we asked the agent in San Blas how many boats per day she is processing, her answer was two or three per week.

During the four cruising seasons we have been in Mexico, we have checked into and out of many ports without the aid of an agent. It is not that hard to do, as it just requires a little patience, a few pesos to make copies of documentation, and some shoe leather. We have used agents in some marinas which offer the service, but to our knowledge, the use of an agent was always optional. We hope the mandatory use of an agent - as is currently required in San Blas - does not become widespread in Mexico. Our reaction to these events is that we will be avoiding San Blas altogether until the problems there have been resolved. It has already led to an absence of cruising boats in the estuary at San Blas - which is a shame because it is a pretty little town and a great stopping place on the route between Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan. People who wish to register a complaint about this procedure can call the following number in Mexico: 01-800-0014800.

Dick and Carmen Burkhart
Hokulani, Caliber 40
San Francisco / Paradise Village, Nuevo Vallarta

Dick and Carmen - From the reports that we have received, cruisers who adamantly refuse to use a ship's agent in San Blas are allowed to check-in themselves. Mexican officials have long been known for individualistic interpretations of Mexican law, but this guy is the first we've ever heard of that tried to require the use of a ship's agent. Readers need to understand that this is an entirely separate issue from the tax discussed in the two previous letters which requires skippers to pay a new fee when checking in and out of each port. For further details on this matter, see this month's Sightings.


Back in early September, four of us sailing from Berkeley to Southern California found ourselves on the hook one sunny morning at Carmel's Stillwater Cove. We wanted to get underway, but our Perkins 4-108 would turn over but not start. After all our amateur attempts at diesel repair were exhausted, we prevailed upon Artur Granat, owner of Euro Marine in Pittsburg and a longtime diesel expert, to bring relief. Although it was Sunday morning, less than three hours later Artur showed up for the dinghy ride out to the boat. In short order - and for a minimal charge - he corrected the problem.

As one of the grateful crew, I ask, where else do you find that kind of caring service these days?

Jack Ritter


Does anyone at Latitude know the going rates for moorings at: Richardson Bay? Half Moon Bay? Monterey?

John Lynker
Alicia's Wrath

John - While there are scores of moorings in Richardson Bay, none of them are legal. That there aren't legal moorings - as well as a good dinghy dock and restrooms in Richardson Bay - is something we attribute almost entirely to the intransigence of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC). It's our opinion that this agency is controlled by people who are out of touch with the water, woefully behind the times, and have a secret desire to limit society's access to the water. They all need to take a trip to San Diego and check out the Laurel Street Anchorage.

There are mooring privileges available at Half Moon Bay, but you have to buy the transferable permits from the private owners. The San Mateo Harbor District originally issued permits for 200 mooring buoys - this was before the breakwater was built. They are down to about 97 active permits, of which only about 35 currently have boats on them. The going rate for a permit is between $500 and $2,500, depending on the quality of the mooring. In addition, you have to pay a monthly fee to the Harbor District based on the size of your boat. The average is about $30/month. Harbormaster Dan Temko anticipates a mild run on these permits since eviction notices were sent out to everyone at Peninsula Marina. Incidentally, Temko cautions visiting mariners not to just pick up a vacant mooring. "These are privately maintained," he says, "and some of them are no stronger than a paper clip." The Harbor District will soon have about a dozen transient moorings, which will go for between $15 and $25 a night.

There are two mooring fields off Monterey, the Outer Harbor and the East Mooring. There are 156 privately-owned and maintained moorings in the Outer Harbor. While the rights to them can be transferred with a boat, they can't be sold. There is a waiting list, and it's long. City residents pay $25 per month, while non-residents pay $30 a month. Depending on where you want to dock your dinghy, you pay another $15 or $25 a month. The city operates and maintains the 40 moorings in the East Mooring, and they go for between $75 and $125 a month depending on the size boat.

The price also includes the right to dock your dinghy in the marina, which is worth about $25 a month. Located in the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary, boats in the East Mooring must vacate the buoys from November through March because of the threat of storms. But all boats in the East Mooring are assured of a berth inside the marina, taking the place of fishing boats that have left for the season. There are a few East Mooring buoys available right now. The monthly fee for them may increase this summer.


Three cheers for enumerating the methods of stopping a runaway diesel in the October issue. However, you may have misled a few non-mechanical skippers, and you omitted one angle.

The non-mechanical skippers need to know that the ignition switch may not relate to engine shutdown - since the pesky diesel will continue to run as long as it gets air and fuel. An ignition switch is a gasoline engine concept. Some diesel on/off switches are rigged to an electric fuel valve, but many aren't. So what most folks want is a backup method for shutting down fuel flow - as in a push-pull valve knob, such as is frequently already mounted in the cockpit - and a shut-off valve in the fuel line - as a backup - that's easily accessible from belowdecks.

The shut-off option that you didn't mention? My 'other' method - in case the 'off' valve got frozen or was inaccessible as a result of something such as fire - was my largest softwood thru-hull plug, hung by a loop above the engine. So if all else failed, I could yank off the not-too-tightly-clamped air-cleaner and jam the plug into the air intake. No oxygen, no diesel run.

By the way, if you're thinking of putting your hand over the air intake to stop a runaway diesel, don't do it! The suction might well be enough to pull your hand into the engine and disassemble it.

Dave Smith
ex-Moremesa, Now Between Boats

Dave - We chose our words poorly, so we may have mislead some readers. When we wrote, "hit the kill switch," we didn't intend to imply the ignition switch, but rather the engine shut-off. On many diesels this is a pull mechanism. On Profligate, it's a button - that we commonly, but inaccurately, refer to as a switch.


I' m writing in response to the several letters that have been published regarding trying to stop a diesel engine by cutting off its air supply. Please be warned it can be very painful! I have experience both as a professional and as a hobbyist working on engines. Diesel engines differ from gasoline in more than just the fuel they use. They also move a greater volume of air through them, and this is where the danger lies.

Just before the start of last year's Baja Ha-Ha - which we were signed up for - I had the misfortune of getting my hand sucked into the intake on our main engine, a Perkins 6-cylinder turbo diesel. I had just rebuilt the cylinder head and was testing the engine at approximately 1,500 RPM. Very foolishly, I started to reinstall the air cleaner with the engine running. When my right hand got to within a couple of inches of the intake, it was - without warning - violently pulled into the intake housing that unfortunately contains the turbocharger blades. These blades spin at extremely high RPM, and even though I jerked my hand out quickly, they still mangled the end of a couple of fingers. I am extremely lucky I still have a right hand. As it was, I ended up with an exposed compound fracture, severed tendons and missing skin to the worst-injured finger. After reconstructive surgery and three more minor surgeries, my finger almost looks normal - except for being permanently bent. And a year later it's still damn sore.

Since this dumb stunt, I have heard horror stories from a number of diesel mechanics about parts - both human and otherwise - being inhaled into diesel intakes. The lesson is to be extremely careful around a running engine, especially diesels! Never try and stop one, even a non-turbo model, with your hand or a rag. Many older engines have simply a thin screen covering the intake. This screen, the rag, and possibly a finger or two could be easily drawn into the intake.

If your normal diesel engine shut off system fails, you are better off manually pulling the fuel cutoff lever on the high-pressure fuel injection pump - this is how most pull or electrical-type cutoff switches operate - to stop your engine. You might familiarize yourself as to what this looks like with the engine stopped, and before you need it in an emergency. In a diesel 'runaway' situation - which is where the diesel is also burning the engine oil as a fuel source - the only way to stop the engine is to both cut off the diesel fuel and the air supply. An engine in this condition may accelerate the RPMs very suddenly until it literally explodes, possibly ejecting a connecting rod out the side of the crankcase.

Do you really want to risk injury trying to save an engine? Unlike Harry Potter, most of us don't have a magic wand to regrow our body parts, so use care around running engines.

Hollis March
Jack London Square Marina

Hollis - We always thought that killing a diesel by putting a hand over the air intake was a no-no. But when we checked with our engine expert, he chuckled a little and said, "I do it all the time." We assume he chuckled because he knew it was something he shouldn't be doing. In any event, let's make it official: Never put your hand over an engine air intake.


I have owned many boats, including three major keelboats. My fondest memories by far are of my Clipper Marine 30. Your final comments in past articles regarding Clipper Marine boats are right on target. It is not the big dollars spent, but the attitude and enjoyment that create wonderful sailing experiences.

My major purpose in sailing the Bay was for a quick daysail or possibly a weekend with an overnight stay in a cove. The Clipper was always there for me. My Islander 36 needed a new motor. That was ten grand. New sails, ten grand. Oh, yes, a blister job. Another ten grand. My Clipper 30 had an outboard in a well. If it ever broke, I could take it to a shop. I never had to fix my Clipper's depthsounder because there wasn't one. The thru-hulls didn't need double clamps because there were none. The head was a Porta-Potti and the sink emptied above the waterline. What a great concept, a cheap boat with few moving parts. The boat had only one battery, a simple lighting system, and a manual water pump for the sink.

There were some things that weren't as good. The keel was attached with iron bolts, which is not a good idea. Most had rusted through on my boat, so I replaced them with stainless steel bolts. Some Clippers had their keels fall off. There was also a Clipper where the hull separated at the mold joint. People died.

If you were to ask me if I would take the Clipper out the Gate, the answer would be no - unless I had a boatload of attorneys, was heading into a perfect storm, and had the only lifejacket. Even then I'd feel bad about losing the boat.

I spent a decade on the Bay and up the Delta in my bright yellow Clipper Marine 30. Memories of kedging off, heeling over, and general exhilaration abound. I am due to retire soon, and I'll look for simplicity again in my next boat.

George Houghton
Formerly of Delphi, CM-30
Santa Rosa

George - We love a guy who isn't afraid to share the good - and bad - about his boat. Thank you.


My wife and I have been tenants of Ventura West Marina since 1989. We watched it deteriorate from a happy place filled with enthusiastic boaters to a half-empty marina with lots of problems. For most of the past five or six years, more boats moved into the marina under tow than under their own power. It seemed to us that the place was turning into cheap digs for the homeless, drug addicted and sexual predators. And the docks were cluttered with piles of debris! Our complaints fell on deaf ears, as the old management did nothing to change things or to offer us any protection. It was getting pretty dangerous and scary to remain here. Any new manager sent here to improve things was surely in for some troubles.

A new manager, Bill Chase, arrived last February, and in the beginning he ruffled a lot of feathers - ours included. But within a matter of a few months he had transformed the marina into an attractive, secure and quiet place to berth a boat - no more waking up to hear a woman screaming. Unlike before, the docks are clean, the parking lot is secure, the restrooms and laundry are first rate, and we have a real sense of community. Ventura West Marina is now a safe place to enjoy the liveaboard lifestyle.

My wife and I want to thank Bill Chase and the staff at Ventura West Marina for all their hard work in giving us back our marina.

Anthony Stincelli
Ventura West Marina


Ex-prison inmate Jim Troglin and Warden Bill Chase? I would like to take issue with the letter written by Jim Troglin in regard to Bill Chase's style of running the Ventura West Marina. As with most disgruntled people, they only present their side of the story. Here's mine:

I have been a resident of the Ventura West Marina for over four years. When I first brought my sailboat here from Marina del Rey, the condition of the marina wasn't as good. Since Bill Chase has managed the marina, there have been many improvements: special family events and parties, dusk 'til dawn security, improved parking lots, well-lighted walkways, new landscaping, new hot tub and boater's deck, unsafe boats removed and criminal activities eradicated.

According to Mr. Troglin's account, I should have already been asked to leave the marina because I have a 25-foot antique wooden sailboat that I'm in the process of restoring. Although she's not a pretty sight at the moment, I haven't been asked to leave. And I not only sleep on my boat, but live aboard. And for that privilege, I pay what is called a 'liveaboard fee' of $100/month. Perhaps Mr. Troglin is not aware of what this means. It entitles said boat owner to all liveaboard privileges and means I don't have to dodge any authorities - or keep an eye out for 'Warden' Bill Chase. The liveaboard fee in the Phase II section is $50 a month.

With regard to Troglin's complaint about "not having rights to the dock," the Ventura Port District - not Bill Chase - enforces the cleanliness of the slip fingers and docks. This is a county safety issue, not a personal vendetta of Chase's. When I first got here, the docks were clogged with extra refrigerators, assorted gas barbecues, large garbage cans, dinghies and all kinds of other miscellaneous stuff. When you pay a liveaboard fee, you're entitled to one of the 4x8 foot rental lockers - for $15/month - and rights to use the freezer - $6/month. The marina also provides exterior lockers - $7.50/month - for any other items that might otherwise clog up the docks.

As for Troglin's contention that friends are "desperate to escape" Ventura West Marina, I find it laughable. Why couldn't his friends get out? Bad credit history? Boat not in seaworthy condition? Illegal liveaboards?

Lisa G.
25-ft Wood Boat
Ventura West Marina


It sounds to me as though Jim Troglin needs some cheese and crackers to go along with his whine about Ventura West Marina. We have lived aboard our sailboat here for nearly five months, and were certainly not "forced" into it. In fact, we checked out over 20 different marinas before choosing Ventura West. This facility was designed with full-time cruisers and liveaboards in mind. Bill Chase was not exaggerating when he described its numerous features and facilities. We like it here because it's quiet, the people are friendly, and the Ventura schools are excellent.

Treated like second-class citizens or criminals? We think not. Yes, our boat documentation and driver's licenses were checked, but since we aren't trying to hide from creditors, the law, or a drug-deal-gone-bad, it seemed reasonable to us. True, the marina has some rules - although nothing you wouldn't find in any upper-middle-class community on land. Your boat has to be insured, seaworthy, safe and neat - just like any home should be. You have to control and clean up after your pet - which you'd do anyway if you cared about it. You can make small repairs and work on your boat so long as you don't make a mess or create a hazard. About once a month the marina hosts some kind of social gathering. In October it was a big barbecue, and the marina provided all the food, sodas, and entertainment.

The office staff is friendly, helpful, and nearly always has a pot of coffee to share. The maintenance people have been on the spot when we needed something fixed, and they never act surly or put-upon. Is this sounding like prison to anyone so far? Bill Chase the "power tripping prison warden?" All we can say is that kids have no reason to suck up and they can spot a jerk or a phony from a mile away. Yet our kids go by his office from time to time to give him treats or just to talk. Another teenage boy described him as his "second dad." Bill is more like an overstuffed teddy bear than Ghengis Kahn.

As for getting rid of wooden boats, our dock neighbors on the wooden Nathaniel Bowditch have never complained about the marina. Furthermore, Nathaniel Bowditch is older than I am. Of course, their boat doesn't have enough barnacles growing on the bottom to anchor it to the harbor, and she's well kept and maintained.

We have found that Ventura West is a quiet, clean, place with a small-town feeling of community. This is one of the reasons we gave up living on land in the first place. We hope there will still be a place for us here when we return from cruising. I can't help but wonder if Troglin and his boat aren't here anymore because he refused to pay the liveaboard fees.

Nadine Crom
Ventura West Marina, Ventura


From time to time we are reminded that there is always room for improvement. Mr. McCorison's letter in the December issue is a good illustration of this commentary. Although not completely accurate, Mr. McCorison's experience has initiated some changes at the Harbor Village Marina. Scott Miller, the Operations Manager with the Ventura Port District Harbor Patrol, immediately contacted Mr. McCorison to express our sincere regrets relative to this isolated incident at the Ventura Harbor.

The Ventura Harbor is home to two private marinas that specialize in recreational boating. The marina at Harbor Village focuses primarily on commercial fishing vessels. All the marinas recognize the importance of satisfying the needs of the boating community.

Mr. McCorison's experience at the Harbor Village Marina was the exception, not the norm. In addition to making modifications to their policies at Harbor Village, a better training policy has been implemented for the dockmasters. We invite all recreational and commercial boat operators to enjoy our new and improved customer service policies and the ambience of the Ventura Harbor. We hope that Mr. McCorison will feel encouraged to return to the Ventura Harbor, realizing that we value our boaters and try to meet their needs.

The other fine facilities in the Ventura Harbor include Ventura Isle Marina, Ventura West Marina and the Ventura Yacht Club. These marinas are also happy to serve the boating community.

Oscar Pena
General Manager, Ventura Port District

Oscar - We can't tell you how impressed we are with your response. We're sure it will make recreational mariners suddenly feel like they've got a friend in Ventura. We salute you. We also salute all of you folks in Ventura Harbor for becoming the spring and summer training grounds for Oracle Racing's two-boat and 70-person America's Cup team. We're certain it's going to bring you a lot of visitors and really put your harbor on the map.


I just wanted to let everyone know how much we like our Pfaff 130 sewing machine. We just finished converting another hank-on jib that we got at the local swap meet to roller furling, and because of the machine were able to do it ourselves. We bought the machine at a marine swap meet, and it has already saved us the purchase price. We wouldn't be without one and will be taking the machine cruising with us this fall.

Scott Fratcher

Scott - When you're out cruising, you'll find that somebody is always in need of a sail repair or canvas work. Hone your skills and you could offset lots of your cruising costs.


I love the name Doña de Mallorca. Talk about nostalgia, in 10 years of sailing around and through Europe, between Greece and Finland, I was drawn back to Mallorca several times. I spent many happy months gunkholing around the island and tying up to the town docks. This seemed to be the place that many longterm cruisers from the world over came to stay awhile. The friendly dockmaster rode by every day or so on his moped and collected the moderate dock fees, unlocked the water supply, or helped in other ways.

While there, I remember seeing a beautiful nude 'barber' from one of the smaller boats giving her guy a haircut on the stone wharf. The already sunny morning suddenly got even finer. There was a less salubrious time when the reverse gear on my Volvo diesel blew as I was leaving the mouth of the Rhone River on the mainland. As it turned out, I sailed in and out of seven Spanish ports without finding a Volvo service shop that wasn't already tied up with commercial work. Then Jack Sherman from the Sequoia YC met me in Barcelona and we sailed to Mallorca, still without prop thrust. When we got to Mallorca, an Aussie cruiser encouraged me to do it myself. The local hardware store had the necessary prop puller and the Volvo dealer had the parts within three days. My many years of do-it-myselfing paid off, and we got the job done.

With his "heavy lead mines" comment in the November Letters, Steve Dashew joins the ranks of those who put down other people's boats. I remember that Jim Jessie of Nalu IV did the same thing with his "crab crusher" comment several years ago. These guys already know everything there is to know about sailing - hah! - and I cheerfully admit they are good at it. But why do they have to get too clever for words when it comes to commenting about boats that are different from the ones that they own? People choose boats for all kinds of reasons: tradition, performance, comfort, price, nostalgia, innovation and more. We need to honor that. All these factors are seldom combined in one design. I appreciate Latitude for respecting this.

Jim Crittenden
Columbia 8.7
San Rafael

Jim - Doña's first name really isn't Doña, but it's close. And her last name really isn't de Mallorca, but she did live on the island for seven years. So the Wanderer decided it would be more colorful and fun if she went by Doña de Mallorca. The Wanderer believes that most people's lives can be improved by changing their names - and maybe even their personas - from time to time. Variety is the spice of life and all that.

We didn't get to spend enough time at Mallorca when we visited with
Big O, so one of our goals in life is to return for an entire season - with side-trips, of course, to the other Balearic Islands of Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera.


In a recent 'Lectronic Latitude, you asked what was wrong with a photo and caption from Showboats magazine. Several respondents got part of the answer right, that the couple identified on Endeavour were not Larry and Lyn Pardey, but Elizabeth Meyer and her husband. What else was wrong is that it shouldn't take a week to sail from Newport, Rhode Island, to Mystic, Connecticut. I know, because Mystic isn't far from Narraganset Bay, where about 15 years ago I worked as a boatwright at Newport Offshore. I used to sail a Beetle Cat on Narraganset Bay.

Rick Mercer
San Rafael

Rick - When we go to St. Barts for New Year's, many of our friends who are captains and crew spend the summer in the Northeast. The thing that came as such a surprise to us is that the Northeast season there is so short. "It's just 10 weeks," says Tom Reardon, longtime captain of the classic Herreshoff 72 Ticonderoga. "It starts in the middle of June and is mostly over at the end of August."


There I was, minding my own business, with a good job, stable home life and a decent golf handicap. Then, without understanding the consequences, I started reading Latitude 38. Not many years later, I've quit my job, sailed the high seas and bought a boat. Please, I beg all of you, stop reading now and save yourselves from the mistakes I made! Don't listen to their tales of warm water, golden beaches, leisure sailing in tropical waters and all that rubbish of camaraderie and friendship. It's a vast conspiracy to steal your soul!

Oh yeah, at first it's really easy. You casually walk into West Marine pretending to be shopping, and slowly make your way over to the adult section where they put the new issues of Latitude. Then, trying not to be too obvious to the people at the front counter, you furtively dart out the door with the magazine. However, that's only the beginning. The deeper into sailing you get, the more real and expensive the visits become. At first, it's foul weather gear, but the next thing you know you're buying zincs, then fuel additive, and before you know it you're into lines, blocks, cleats, bosun's chairs - well, no need to get too graphic, you get the idea. It is truly ugly, this addiction to sailing, and I urge you to take heed of my warning lest you start wondering what happened to your weekends and how the 'to-do' list will ever get done by the start of the new season.

That said, let me get to the point of my letter. This summer I sailed in my second Pacific Cup, this time aboard Ariel, Jim and Diana Freeland's Santa Cruz 52. We had a great, albeit slow, sail to Hawaii. I know it's a little late, but I want to take this opportunity to personally thank all those folks who make the race possible - great job!

I've read letters concerning the size of the Pacific Cup, and the possibility of expanding it in the future. I suggest that this may not be the solution - and I speak as a person who bought my boat specifically to do the race but failed to sign up in time and didn't get a slot. I feel that one reason some participants might have felt slighted is partly due to the large number of boats already racing. More boats will only exacerbate that problem. The volunteers have their hands full and only have so much time and attention to give. In my opinion, the lack of an easy alternative for handling the boats and the people in Hawaii is an argument for keeping the race within the constraints at Kaneohe - assuming they will continue to graciously host the event.

In any event, I want to thank Jim and Diana Freeland for a great ride on a well-prepared boat with a terrific crew. Most importantly, I want to thank them for accommodating my desire to get to Hawaii in time to enjoy some vacation with my wife, as I'm sure they have endured endless hours of explaining why we started motoring. In the future, I will allow for a couple of extra days of racing.

Finally - and risking all hope that this letter will be published - I want to share with your readers a tribute to the 2000 Pacific Cup. I call it the Pacific High-ku:

Slatting sails
sail like snails
bobbing, drifting, ghosting

Mike Maloney
Mintaka, C&C 36

Mike - We've got a different take on last year's West Marine Pacific Cup. As far as we could tell, the only folks who felt slighted were those who gave up and motored or who finished after the deadline - and were then not called up to the stage during the awards ceremony. The organizers admitted this was a blunder, one that wouldn't happen again.

We love the Kaneohe YC and the Pacific Cup atmosphere there - but as a finish line and destination it comes with several inherent problems that require a tremendous amount of resources to offset. For example, there's the business of having to set and maintain an offshore finish line, and a committee up on a hill to observe it. Then there's the very, very long and tricky channel from the finish line to the club - which uses up astronomical amounts of volunteer time and requires many hard-to-come-by pilot boats and skippers. Finally, there's the chronic shortage of berthing, which requires a 24-hour docking committee - and still results in an arrangement that's nothing less than a serious personal injury waiting to happen.

Consider an alternative plan. The finish line would be at the Diamond Head Buoy, which means you only have to have one finish line guy at the light with a simple VHF radio. By the way, we'd also eliminate the 100-mile and 25-mile radio check-ins, which require 24/7 radio operators and expensive radios. We don't see much purpose in these check-ins anyway, but if they're still deemed necessary, why not have skippers send in their check-ins over SailMail. A Diamond Head finish would also eliminate the need for setting and maintaining a buoy, as well the need for pilot boats. Sure, the TransPac finishes at the Diamond Head Buoy and still uses pilot boats to get the boats to the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor - but is that not the silliest thing in sailing? If a skipper and navigator equipped with GPS can't safely get from the Diamond Head Buoy to either the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor or the Ko Olina Yacht Harbor without assistance, they don't belong outside the friendly confines of Lake Merritt. And if arrangements for finish line docking at the Ala Wai or Ko Olina were made in advance, boats could be assigned yacht harbor slips before they even left San Francisco - eliminating the need for the always-harried docking committee. After all, do intelligent adults equipped with a diagram really need help finding slip D-4?

If the Pacific Cup continues to end at the Kaneohe YC with the restricted fleet size, that's fine with us. But it has to be recognized that this is an extremely expensive option - most of the entry fees go directly to the yacht club - and makes extreme demands on resources and manpower.


I know nothing about the Clipper Marine boats - one of the big topics in the November Letters - but the jibe about wearing your PFD in the shower reminded me of the last time that I wore my lifejacket in the shower. By the way, I have been out in scary conditions both on the Monterey Bay and outside the Golden Gate, and there is absolutely no comparison. The water off Santa Cruz is relatively deep and the wind blows down the coast, so there is good shelter under the points. Plus Santa Cruz is self limiting; in truly bad weather you can't get out of the harbor into Monterey Bay. But place yourself under the Gate at certain times of day and year, and you can be sucked out into an area that is not safe for a 21-foot sailboat - no matter if she has a swing keel or fixed keel. In fact, I was aboard a 40,000 pound Peterson 44 that was rolled over on her beam ends and skidded 100 yards sideways when we got caught too close in by the South Channel. After motoring back out to sea for 10 miles and detouring out to the Lightbucket, we came in the Main Ship Channel. There were huge waves breaking everywhere - except in the channel itself. So, now, a few windy days off Santa Cruz will be no preparation at all for the Gulf of the Farallones.

But where was I . . . oh yeah, about the lifejacket. After the '98 Doublehanded Farallones, we tied Snafu-U to the dock, and without so much as rolling up a sail, walked fully clothed into the showers at the St. Francis YC. As the hot water poured down, I slowly took off my foul weather jacket, insulated balaclava insulated hat, lifejacket, bib overalls, polypro long underwear, rubber boots and wool socks. After more time under the shower, I took the whole sodden mess into the sauna and started wringing it all out. I was still there in the locker room when we started hearing the terrible rumors of a sailor lost overboard. It wasn't until we spent more than half an hour in the sauna that we were sufficiently recovered to put the boat away. So yes, there are times when you will wear your lifejacket in the shower.

Tom Conerly
Wildfire, Moore 24
Northern California

Tom - Amusing story, we like it. Anybody else out there - perhaps a woman - ever wear their foulies in the shower? Inquiring minds would like to know.


Our recent exchange of letters is a good example of how wars get started - by not communicating clearly. When I first commented on the 10-knot average controversy, I never thought to indicate that - of course - I was referring to an average passage time in a cruising context. To me, an average cruising context means that boats power in light airs. Perhaps it was different on Big O, but most of the cruisers we know turn on the engine when speed drops below a certain level. This is especially true when one is traversing areas of changeable and potentially difficult weather.

Now, as to the last exchange of letters, a couple of 'facts' need to be clarified. First, Beowulf is 78 feet, not 84 feet. And as much as I'd like to agree that she does 15 knots under power, that is a bit of an exaggeration on the Wanderer's part. We normally cruise at between 10.5 and 11 knots.

Then there is the issue of the 'racing record' of our designs. We have never claimed that we designed anything near to racers or even racer/cruisers. What we have focused on are pure cruising boats, optimized for a couple sailing without crew. Our goal has been to design and build the safest, most comfortable cruising boat possible - one which would, in all probability, represent the owner's house budget, and be uninsured.

The underlying premise of our design approach was twofold. First, that our boats be able to do well in heavy going; and two, that they be able to find shelter in the event of being caught in a tropical storm of major proportions. When you add these factors together - big boats, small crews, heavy weather and hurricane shelter - you quickly find that what works best is a combination of a moderate beam hull - which is easily driven by a small rig and is balanced when heeled, self-steers easily - and shallow draft to allow access to mangrove swamps and/or to cross shallow river bars. All of these factors add up to fast, comfortable passages - but are slower than other design configurations around the buoys or dead upwind. But in a short-handed, ocean crossing context, where there is just a couple aboard, these boats will make passages faster than larger, deeper, and taller-rigged configurations, which in any event can't be sailed anywhere near their potential by short-handed crews.

A good example of this was last spring, when we were bringing Beowulf back from Bermuda. The skipper of the 145-ft Frers designed ketch Rebecca was clearing Customs at the same time as us. We chatted about the weather, and when we found we were both heading to Newport, Rhode Island, a friendly wager of a six-pack of beer ensued. Rebecca was sailing with 10 professional crew, while it was just Linda and me on Beowulf. Rebecca's skipper explained they used their engine on passages and we said that we did, too. We left Town Cut together, and proceeded with our 'race'. We both encountered a variety of weather: two frontal passages, a big lightning storm/squall line in the Gulfstream, winds on the nose and on the stern and everywhere in between, and everything from light air to more than 30 knots. We made the 630-mile trip in 60 hours, while Rebecca came in 5.5 hours later. We both pushed to get in ahead of a forecast low pressure system that would have made the last 200 miles a hard beat with storm force winds, and we both powered any time that boat speed was under eight knots. Had Rebecca been racing us with 45 crew members, all pushing her to the limit, the outcome might have been different. But we were both in short-handed passage-making mode, and that is what our boats are designed for.

From the Wanderer's comments, we infer that he thinks our designs are slow, and that they need to be race proven. Not many of our owners race, and we certainly have been out of the competitive game for many years. Still, the odd result does creep up here and there. One example was last April, when Linda and I and our son-in-law Todd, a non-sailor, did the Guadeloupe to Antigua Race. The three of us made the 42-mile passage in three hours and one minute, a 14-knot average, breaking the 146' Mari Cha III's record in the process. We had moderate reaching conditions - 16 to 19 true from just aft of the beam - and, of course, were carrying our usual payload of cruising gear. In addition, Artemis, the first of the Sundeer 64s, was the first monohull to finish the ARC in 1994, and before that George Backhus's Moonshadow (under a different owner), a Deerfoot 2-62 ,held the ARC record to Barbados. Both of these boats were cruising designs drawing less than 6.5 feet, which happened to find themselves in moderate weather and had a chance to stretch their legs against larger boats. But neither they - nor the boats you referred to that raced against Big O in Antigua Race Week - were ever conceived as around-the-buoys or upwind machines, or configured to take advantage of big crews. Their venue of choice is the short-handed cruising passage. In that context, they will sail comfortably with any mono or mulithull of any size, without a lot of effort on the part of the crew.

Steve Dashew
British Virgins/Tucson

Steve - We're real sticklers when it comes to claims about sailing performance. And as Doña 'we-sailed-all-the-way-across-the-Atlantic-on-a-Swan-651-averaging-10 knots' de Mallorca can assure you, we're hardest about this on friends and lovers.

As for
Big O in the ARC, yes, once we started, we sailed the whole way across the Atlantic. Sure, we drifted in circles a couple of times and had two days of very light stuff toward the end, but to us there was something particularly satisfying about sailing the entire way. Similarly, in Mexico - where there is often very light or no wind at all for long periods of time - we enjoy trying to avoid turning on the engine. When the wind disappeared completely on the first night of the last Ha-Ha, we simply closed up shop for about four hours rather than turning on the donks. And in several Ha-Ha's, we've sailed long periods of the last leg at less than one knot without giving any thought to motoring. We don't claim to be - and aren't - purists such as the Pardeys, we just normally prefer to sail as much as possible.

At this point, we want to make it absolutely clear that we don't have anything against people who motor when it does get light. Most cruisers do it, and why shouldn't they? If we remember correctly, the great Lowell North told us that during his circumnavigation with Bea, they motored whenever their speed dropped to less than four knots. And when the Wanderer founded the Ha-Ha, one of the basic premises was that participants would be able to motor as much as they wanted. Finally, nobody will deny that there are countless situations in which motoring is the only safe and prudent thing to do.

Nonetheless, if somebody motors during a passage and later makes a claim about their blistering speed, we believe it's incumbent upon them to make it perfectly clear whether or not they motored and for how long. For example, you infer that you 'beat'
Rebecca on the way back from Bermuda by 5.5 hours. But how are we to evaluate such a claim without knowing how much and when each of you motored? If one boat motored for 10 minutes and the other for 20 hours, it's apples and oranges and therefore a meaningless comparison. Having raced against the 144-foot Rebecca in the Caribbean, we can say this for certain: If you're claiming that Beowulf is boat-for-boat faster on any point of sail in any condition, the captain and crew of Rebecca are going to vehemently disagree with you.

Similarly, to say that a Deerfoot 2-62 was first to finish the ARC in '94 is meaningless until we know the full story - how much she motored and who her competition was. For instance, your Beowulf set the all-time elapsed time record in the Caribbean 1500 last November. That sounds great - and was - so you are to be congratulated. But it doesn't sound quite as impressive upon learning that you motored 20% of the time - even though it was legal - and only narrowly edged a humble Pearson 424 on corrected time.

Do we think your designs are slow? Compared to what?

If you're even beginning to remotely suggest that
Beowulf might be anywhere near as fast as the 145-foot Mari-Cha III - which you seem to be doing with the Guadeloupe to Antigua Race story - that's simply preposterous. We raced against that magnificent yacht - which holds both the TransAtlantic and Sydney to Hobart records - on New Year's Eve in the Caribbean, and can unequivocally state that on a boat-for-boat basis, Beowulf would be as if stuck to the bottom.

If the Deerfoot 65 is compared to the average 65-foot boat out cruising, we'd say she was very, very fast.

If the Deerfoot 65 was compared to a Swan 68, a J/160 or an SC 52, the PHRF numbers say she'd be a slower boat. But that's not really fair because the Deerfoot really has a different purpose than raw sailing speed, and in the case of the smaller boats, is much heavier and more luxurious.

If you talking a Deerfoot 62 versus a 50-foot multihull in 'real world' cruising conditions, in which competitive skippers both sail and motor, we've got it from George Backhus that they're about the same speed. Last November, he and
Moonshadow left New Caledonia on a 1,100-mile passage the same time as David aboard the 50-ft cat Bossanova. "We're pretty evenly matched as far as speed," said George, "and when you have two boats going to the same destination, it's a race." For the next 1,100 miles, the Deerfoot 62 and the 50-ft cat sailed and motored trying to get the better of each other. George neglected to mention who actually got to Sydney first, but they had been trading places for the whole 1,100 miles, so they were indeed quite evenly matched in speed.


In the January Latitude, there was a letter from Paul Perez and Paul Bruner about their Catalina 27. My wife and I also have a Catalina 27 that we're going to haul this spring. A couple of the rear keel bolts are rusting, and we're interested in finding out how to replace them. Can you put us in touch with them so we can find out about the procedure they used? We have been researching this also, but have found very little information so far.

John and Laurel Wetzork
Catalina 27, Finesse

John & Laurel - We're printing your email address here so they, or others, may contact you if they wish: wetzork at impulse.net


Several months ago, I acquired a Yorktown 39 center cockpit sloop. The engine has a metal tag on it that reads 'Tempest', and indicates that it was built in Great Britain. I have talked to two registered surveyors and neither one has ever heard of a Tempest engine. Would you or any of your readers have any idea of where I might obtain additional information about this engine and its manufacturer?

One boatyard owner told me that the Yorktowns - the 35 and the 39 - were only built from '72 through '75. And that while not the sleekest things afloat - to say the least - that they were well built and extremely stiff. Are you familiar with them? Is there any kind of Yorktown club or association on the West Coast?

Jim Crowell
Bend, Oregon

Jim - Hopefully somebody will reply with some engine information. We suspect that the Tempest is a marine version of some other common engine.

As for the Yorktowns, we know of at least one - and perhaps three - that have done circumnavigations without any major problems. We still hope you got a surveyor to check all the important components and systems. Sorry, but we're not aware of any Yorktown association.


John Vigors' article on 'de-naming' a boat was wonderful. Thank you. Do you have a 're-naming' ceremony? If so, publish it soon.

A point on the usage of libations. John is quite right, don't bless or cook with anything you wouldn't drink.

Peter & Jackie Robertson
Island Girl

Peter & Jackie - You might try the classic Caribbean re-naming ceremony used for Big O, as it touches on all the important elements in life: air, water, earth, food, spirits, and music. We gathered all our friends around the boat and treated them to the best in food, spirits and festive music - which meant Caribbean-style BBQ'd chicken, Pusser's Rum, and Bob Marley. Oh, it was a great party! After the sun went down, the guests removed their clothes one by one, threw them into a giant bonfire, then jumped into the warm Caribbean Sea to symbolically cleanse the boat of her old name. They were given Big O hats as replacement clothing. Then - among the dancing, laughing and screaming - everyone took a big drink from the communal barrel of rum punch, tickled the thru-hulls, kissed the rudder, and shouted the boat's new name three times at the top of their lungs. At which point the boat was no longer Oceanaire, but Big O!

Actually, that's the ceremony we planned. Unfortunately, the staff at The Moorings Marina in Roadtown, Tortola - where the boat was berthed at the time - said that while the re-naming ceremony sounded as though it would be very effective, they couldn't allow it because it would scare all their bareboat charter guests. "But if you find some other place," they added, "don't forget to invite us!"

Basically anything works - as long as you mean it.


I would like to thank Paul Perez and Paul Bruner, the owners of the Catalina 27 Due Regard, for their very kind words about me in the January issue. I never expected such gratitude and flattery for such minor help. Besides, when I found out they were Air Force trying to sail, I knew they needed all the help they could get. Seriously, my unsolicited assistance came very naturally, and can be attributed to the mind-set instilled in me as a result of my being the recipient of countless acts of kindness and support in my sailing endeavors. I want to thank Latitude for continually sharing these simple tales, which spark others to pass on knowledge, skills, and above all, friendship.

I took up sailing eight years ago after becoming weary of the increasingly mad chase to the Sierra. I bought a great older boat and learned how to maintain and sail it - thanks to the assistance from many other sailors and the endless networks within the sailing community. I now singlehand all over the Bay and out the Gate - but never across the South Bar. While out on the Bay, I take great - and sadistic - pleasure in watching the crazy traffic on the various bridges. Recent claims of averaging 10 knots on a Bay Bridge passage - even in a Lexus - are unfounded. There is no doubt in my mind that captains Perez and Bruner will be helping countless other sailors in the future - and will never think twice about it.

Gregg Johnson
Sundancer, Catalina 27
Coyote Point

Gregg - Your help was beyond the call of duty - and an inspiration to others.

We must confess that while sailing on busy weekends, we also take sadistic pleasure in watching all the cars stuck in traffic on Doyle Drive, the Waldo Grade and the three main bridges. That's not living! The Bay is a tremendous regional recreational resource that unfortunately isn't being made available enough to the dramatically increased population. Just as our legislators have failed to ensure California citizens with an adequate supply of energy, the BCDC and city governments are failing to provide the population with adequate water access on San Francisco Bay. It's not the '70s anymore. The region needs more marinas and other water and waterfront access. See this month's Max Ebb for some interesting thoughts on this issue.


I read Latitude every month, so when a friend approached me with the following question, I immediately thought of the Letters section. Perhaps you and/or your readers know the answer to this question. For background, my friend is in Tomsk, Russia - as in Siberia - and wants to build a boat and sail it to the Arctic. Here's what he wants to know:

"If I build a boat in Tomsk and sail it north on the Ob River, arriving in the Yamal Estuary - just east of the Ural Mountains - is it then possible to sail west across this section of the Arctic to get to Norway and the Atlantic? Or is there too much ice? Do people sail in this part of the Arctic? How long would this stretch take? I could only arrive in the Arctic about June 15 at the earliest.
"It would be nice to build a boat, but there is no other way to get it out of here except going north. I guess that's why the prison camp system worked so well, right? No way out. Anyway, building a boat would be cheap here, although the quality might not be so good."

P.S. I followed the Ha-Ha on 'Lectronic Latitude, and really wished I'd joined. But I got a job instead, which was a good choice.

Celeste Mirassou
Northern California

Celeste - We're no experts on Arctic sailing, but the Yamal Estuary flows into the Kara Sea at a latitude further south than Spitzbergen, so we suppose it's possible. If the weather were decent, he could probably make Norway in about a week. And late June would be about the best time to do it. But if the guy is not in a prison camp, he should say the hell with building a boat and sailing the Arctic, and instead take a train or plane down to the Black Sea and hop on a boat for the Black Sea Rally.


Last year we tried to sail to Hawaii, but lost our steering while riding to a parachute anchor. While riding to that storm anchor, our boat sustained a lot of damage. Just about everything that could be replaced, refurbished and/or renewed has been. Nereid was better than new when we took off for the Ha-Ha late last year.

Readers may recall the story about how our Nereid lost her steering while riding out a gale on our sea anchor, and sustained a lot of damage. Afterwards, Para Tech, the vendor of the parachute anchor, had very little to say, even after we emailed them a copy of our story. On the other hand, there was considerable response from several amateurs and experts about how to set and recover a Para Anchor. For instance, we received a phone call from both Lyn Pardey and an email from Steve Dashew, both of whom were concerned that we get things right the next time. We have read the Pardeys' book Storm Tactics as well as Dashew's book, Surviving the Storm. Once set properly with a bridle - we didn't use one - the parachute anchor can improve heaving to by reducing drift. We think the key to success is using a bridle.

One response to our experience that Latitude printed was from Fiorentino Para-Anchors. In his letter, Zack Smith offered to come up to the Bay Area and demo his anchors for us while teaching us the proper techniques for set and recovery! We took him up on his offer - except we visited his store in Southern California. When we said we weren't sure whether to get another Para Anchor, owner Gerrold Fiorentino told us Zack had an idea for us to consider. That idea was for us to, absolutely free of charge or encumbrance, take one of their 12-foot Para Anchors on our cruise for a year or two! Such an offer doesn't come along very often, and then only by people who truly believe in their product. Thanks Zack and Gerry, we will definitely practice with it in the appropriate conditions and report on how it works. But we still think recovery in anything but calm conditions is going to be very difficult.

We also bought a Galerider drogue for a good night's sleep when it gets rough. We opted for the Galerider instead of the Jordan Series drogue, mostly because we found the assertions of Don Jordan, the latter's designer, seemed a little outrageous. To just throw such a device off the stern and then go below and forget about it - to the exclusion of any other option - seems a bit too much to believe. Conventional wisdom seems to be what most sailors already know: heaving to or using a drogue or parachute each have their applications and situations - including the type of boat and the skill and endurance of the crew. And it only makes sense to try each one before you have to use it, thereby increasing the chances of the survival of the boat and the crew.

We'd also like to use Latitude to thank some people who really deserve it:

Sal of Sal's Inflatables. We never met anyone so willing to give of his time and resources.
Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance company. They weren't pushovers, but they were fair and paid in a timely manner. If you are considering a second-rate insurance company - meaning really low premiums and/or less than an A++ rating - and expect your broker to be running interference for you, think again. That brokers can override or overrule insurance companies on behalf of their customers is a myth, and we can't imagine who might have started it. A good insurance company will not need to be threatened. Most claim problems arise when the claimants fail to provide sufficient documentation and ask the carrier to take their claims at face value. For the most part they will, but there reaches a point where truth and imagination begin to blur.

Svendsens Boat Works. They do excellent work and in the final analysis we were satisfied, but the yard had too much work to get our job done in a timely manner. Barbara, Joe, Jeff, Pat and the gang in the store were great, as was Karsten's metal shop - too bad he's moved on.

Finally, we'd like to thank Latitude for providing a forum for discussion of these and other concerns of the amateur sailor. You do a hell of a job. A woman who crewed with us to Mexico and who has done a lot of sailing says that Latitude is the most sought after sailing rag from Hong Kong to Singapore, and from Phuket to Malaysia.

Michael and Joyce Creasy
Nereid, Wauquiez 43


Although Pete Sutter passed on a while back, his Wylie 36 Wild Spirit is alive and well. Christine, his widow, has refitted the boat and is now cruising. She left the Bay Area in November and is now in La Paz. During a winch maintenance session, we discovered a missing pawl spring on a small two-speed Barient winch. The standard pawl springs available are too big. I called the rigging shop in Florida that has parts, but they were out and didn't know where to get these parts. I'm convinced they are available, but not called winch pawl springs. Can anybody help?

is a great magazine. I have crewed in Turkey, Mexico and to Hawaii twice, and have a future trip to Panama lined up - all arranged through contacts from your Crew Lists.

DuWayne Olds
Sea Robin, Fuji 35
Humboldt Bay

DuWayne - A good place to start your search would be West Marine. They have a small winch repair kit with springs and pawls (#164582) for under 30 bucks. Call their catalog division at (800) BOATING.

Since you've had great success getting rides on cruising boats to great places, perhaps you'd be willing to share some tips.


We were moored in La Paz next to Marilyn of Tortuga when she returned from a trip to California with the latest Latitudes. Getting Latitudes in Mexico is such a wonderful gift to us cruisers! Anyway, the issue she brought had the one with our letter about rounding Conception. There was an error in the editing that changed the meaning, and we'd like to correct it. We rounded Conception between 10 and 11 p.m. under very clear and starry skies, and all of a sudden the light went out, Fog didn't have anything to do with it. When we passed close by, we shined our spot on it, but there was no light. It was as we were anchoring at nearby Cojo that the fog came in.

It was just a strange occurrence, and we wondered if anyone else has ever experienced or heard of such a thing. After all, the Conception light is one of the most important on the California coast. By the way, Latitude is right about GPS and radar being wonderful tools. Many of us cruisers wouldn't be out here on wild adventures if it were not for them.

Robert and Virginia Gleser
Harmony, 41 Islander Freeport

Robert and Virginia - We apologize for the error. We struggled for a long time trying to figure out what you meant before publishing what we did. We're glad you corrected us.

Our only unusual lighthouse experience - other than Mexican lights being out all the time - was arriving just north of Cabo to find the Cabo Falso light stuck in one position as opposed to rotating. Anybody else got a better story? We really like lighthouses and they're great for confirming positions, but with the widespread use of GPS and radar, they certainly aren't as important as they once were.


The most entertaining boat name I've ever seen? Never Again II. The prettiest boat name? Caprice of Huon. Huon is a river in Tasmania. My boat's name is Tivoli, as this was my attempt at a Danish name for a small wooden boat built in that country. However, my former wife pointed out that I had gotten it wrong yet again as Tivoli - as in the gardens in Copenhagen - is actually derived from an ancient summer resort outside of Rome. But that's not why she's my former wife.
My life has been guided by two sayings: "Life is too short to drink bad wine or sail ugly boats." To which one might also add, "or drive ugly cars." Second, "I may be old, but I'm not mature - nor is it a goal in my life."

I've decided that the primary reason for the success of Latitude is that you are so opinionated. And since your opinions - with few exceptions - are the same as mine, you are also correct in all areas. Thanks for bringing a great deal of pleasure to my life for so many years.

Herb Recktenwald

Herb - Thanks for the kind words. Currently, our favorite boat name is Mr. Terrible, which is written in bold foot-tall chrome letters on the back of a big powerboat we see in Cabo after every Ha-Ha. How can you not like a guy who calls himself Mr. Terrible? It turns out, he owns the string of gas stations called Terrible Herbst - a great name in itself - and a casino or something in Vegas. Alas, Doña de Mallorca is pissed at the boat's crew. After telling the owner's son how much she liked the boat's name, he offered to give her a boat hat if she came back the next day - which thrilled her to no end, because she collects them. Sadly, she didn't get back for two days, at which time Mr. Terrible and Mr. Terrible, Jr., were no longer aboard, as they were doing some motor vehicle race down the Baja Peninsula. Unfortunately, the captain was condescending, unlike Mr. Terrible and Mr. Terrible, Jr., who are said to be very pleasant folks.


I just got back from Georgetown on Grand Cayman Island - where I had a terrific diving trip. But I found no interest at all in sailing there. Do you have any idea why, let alone why nobody there has heard of Latitude? I'd brought a couple of extra issues for any cruisers starving for a Latitude, but most people assumed it was a real estate magazine!

During the entire week on Grand Cayman, I only saw one sailboat offshore. I couldn't figure it out, as the conditions seemed excellent - a steady 10 to 20 knots of wind with smooth seas. Given your extensive knowledge of the Caribbean, perhaps you can solve this mystery.

Dave Viglierchio
Windchime, Catalina 36
Redwood City

Dave - The Caymans are all about offshore banking - it rivals Switzerland as a financial center - diving, and run of the mill tourism. We don't know why sailing isn't important there, but we suspect there are two primary reasons. First of all, the islands were too small to be a significant trading partner with anyone, so there's no tradition of sailing.

Secondly, unlike the islands of the Eastern Caribbean, where the next country is always in plain sight about 15 miles away, the Caymans are out in the middle of nowhere. It's the same reason hardly anyone sails to Barbados from other islands of the Leeward Antilles.


We are prompted to write to you after an experience with a Caribe inflatable dinghy with a wood floor. We bought the dinghy in 1998, but really hadn't used it at planing speed until we got to San Diego recently. At planing speed the floorboards would flex almost to the point of popping out. The retailer in Alviso where we'd bought it directed us to the manufacturer's rep at Tradewinds Inflatables in Costa Mesa.

Rick Wagner at Tradewinds thought it might be a problem with the keel tube because of a design change, and wanted to take our dinghy back with him to the factory in Venezuela. That was going to be difficult for us for a number of reasons - not the least of which is that we needed the dinghy to get to and from our anchored-out boat. We were pretty worried, but then Rick really came through. He found a spare tube at the warehouse in Costa Mesa, then installed it himself just eight hours before his flight to Costa Rica.

In the meantime, the Boat Depot in San Diego, our rendezvous point with Rick, agreed to immediately do the 20-hour service on our Honda outboard at the same time Rick was repairing our dinghy even though they are normally two weeks out on service orders.

Thanks to Rick Wagner at Tradewind Inflatables and Brad Gilliland at Boat Depot in San Diego, we were back in business almost immediately. We thank them both.

Karl & Maggie Zimmerman
Eleuthera, Nantucket Island 38
San Francisco


In a letter in your December issue from Wayne Schnepple, you were taken to task for bad math. I think you were a little too quick to admit to an error. The question revolves around your reply to an earlier letter where you said, "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." Mr. Schnepple is obviously correct in his math - if you assume that "half a passage" is based on distance. But it also may be more correct to base "half a passage" on time, which would make your statement entirely correct. (For example, if you were to motor at 15 knots for an hour and sail at 5 knots for an hour, you would have travelled 20 nm in two hours and would have averaged 10 knots).
A good part of my limited sailing experience consists of cruising the California coast between San Francisco Bay and San Diego with my good friend Bill Barrett aboard Desert Star. We usually harbor-hop during daylight hours. Often, our goal is to average five knots - 10 knots is for the big boys, not a 34-ft sloop - for the day, allowing time to find our way into port with good visibility. To average five knots, we may be content to spend the morning hours sailing at three knots in expectation of the usual stiffening afternoon summer breezes that will push us along at seven knots for a like number of hours. So in our view, your math is entirely correct.

John Herren

John - Thanks for coming to our defense.


My father and I were at a Fort Lauderdale restaurant called the Bimini Boatyard when we noticed a series of really nice photos on the wall of groups of boats with their chutes up. I thought it was from a local race or maybe the SORC. But when I saw Fort Mason in the background of some of them, I realized I wasn't in Kansas anymore. The 30 x 30-inch aerial photos showed a dozen or so IOR boats with chutes - and bloopers! - running east from Chrissy. I could identify one of the boats, Scepter, in the middle of one photo. Each boat had about a dozen crew. The bowmen were decked out in clothes ready for winter, but as you moved back people were wearing less clothes. The tacticians, for example, were in shorts and T-shirts. There wasn't a PFD in sight. I didn't recognize any boats, but I've only been racing on San Francisco Bay since the mid-'80s. But the photos were great.

Lance Berc
San Francisco

Lance - There are also some very nice - but very dated - aerial shots of boats racing on the Bay to be found in the food concession area just before the security check where you go out to the Alaska Airlines gates at San Francisco International Airport. For longtime Bay sailors, it's a fun game to try to identify the boats.

By the way, can you explain the attraction of Fort Lauderdale as a boating center? We always felt it was a terrible climate in which to try to get any boat work done, and the city itself was a congested mess that made it difficult to get around to pick up parts. Can somebody clue us in?

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