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I SHOULD BE FULLY RECOVERED BY CHRISTMAS
I wanted to thank you for your best wishes and the solid coverage you gave me and the loss of my Koonawarra in El Salvador in March of this year. Anyway, I wanted to drop you a line and give you an update. There is still no news on the insurance and whether they will cover the loss, but I am recovering well. My burns have healed, and I am only waiting to get the cast off my left leg and start physical therapy. I should be walking and fully recovered before Christmas.
Thanks to your coverage, all of my friends in the cruising community have gotten in touch, including some that I had lost contact with. I will be looking for a boat come the new year, and hope to make the 2002 Ha-Ha.
ex-Koonawarra, Hans Christian 48
Grant - It's made our day to hear that
you're on your way to a reasonably full recovery. For those who
weren't aware, there was a tremendous explosion aboard Todd's
Hans Christian 48 as he was singlehanding off El Salvador on the
night of March 26. Fortunately, he was buddyboating with Barry
and Kathy Devine of the Tayana 42 Joss, and Dale Moore and Kathleen
Murphy of the Island Packet 37 Karina D. They managed to pull
him out of the water, which was littered with flaming debris.
He was transferred to an El Salvador hospital, then to Fort Sam
Houston Hospital in Texas, which is noted for its burn center.
FOURTH OF JULY WAS NOT A HOOT
We decided to enjoy San Francisco's Fourth of July fireworks from our sailboat on the Bay. We'd never done it before and figured it would be a hoot. Hardly!
The chilly 20-knot wind was a minor impediment, but we're tough enough. The real problem was the other boats. Yeah, I know I should have expected it to be crowded - but I didn't expect the number of boats with either no or partial running lights, and the near total disregard for the rules of the road. Many boats were only showing an anchor light and no running lights. It would have been a real challenge without the radar and several spotters.
It was my first and last Fourth on my boat, for sure. And I sure wouldn't recommend it to anyone else. The risk is just too high for the limited rewards - which in my case was near zero because I was so busy dodging boats that I had almost no time to see the fireworks.
P.S. I saw Profligate on the way out from Sausalito - nice boat.
Larry - The evening of the Fourth is always a little crazy on the Bay, but this year's seemed a little crazier than usual. For one thing, it wasn't as calm and clear as it has been the last couple of years. Secondly, the folks in Sausalito started their fireworks early in order to finish before San Francisco's commenced, so once theirs was over, half the fleet made a mad dash for the San Francisco waterfront. Unfortunately, half of the City's 'stereo' fireworks were lost in the fog.
The Wanderer's evening of the Fourth
started badly, as the 'clunk' we heard from the starboard transom
turned out to be the $3,000 sound of the three-bladed Max Prop
bouncing off the rudder before dropping to the bottom of the Bay
near Yellow Bluff. Then Robert Sutherland went overboard trying
to grab somebody's lost fender. Thanks to an extra long traveller
sheet, he was never completely out of touch with the boat - but
he did plane on his stomach behind the boat for about 15 seconds.
By comparison, the boat mayhem on the Bay was mild. But you're
right, the Fourth seems like amateur night on the Bay.
TSUNAMI WATCHES, TSUNAMI WARNINGS
On Saturday night, my wife came in to tell me that a tsunami watch had been issued for 0200. I was ready to take our boat out to deep water when the weather radio reported that the watch had been cancelled.
Are tsunamis a real threat on the Pacific Coast? Where on the Internet can I learn more about them or get real time warnings?
Angelina, Fantasia 35
Neil - Anytime an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 or larger is detected, a Tsunami Watch is declared. Information from tide gauging instruments near the epicenter are then monitored. If no tsunami activity is detected, the Watch is cancelled. If activity is detected, a Tsunami Warning is issued over normal emergency broadcast systems. In such cases, evacuations of low-lying areas are implemented, and seagoing vessels are advised to head out to sea.
Since the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center was established in 1948, a total of 20 Warnings have been issued. Five of them resulted in Pacific-wide tsunamis. Sometimes the warnings aren't enough. In 1960, many folks in Hilo failed to heed the warning, and 61 of them perished as a result. Perhaps the most deadly Pacific tsunami occurred in Papua New Guinea in 1998, when a tsunami hit a narrow strip of land between the Pacific Ocean and Sissano Lagoon, where the villages of Warapu and Arop are located. The residents of the villages live in wooden huts only a few feet above sea level. Over 2,000 of them lost their lives, while another 10,000 lost their homes and personal possessions.
Tsunamis are created by earthquakes or underwater landslides. A tsunami is usually a train of waves - they can be hundreds of miles apart - that travel offshore at up to 500 miles per hour. Rather than being a massive single wave as portrayed in cheap Hollywood movies, a tsunami train approaches like the incoming tide - but on a much faster scale. One sign of an approaching tsunami is the ocean receding from it's normal level - sometimes going out as much as 500 feet. People who don't understand tsunamis often rush gleefully down to the shore to pick up the fish and whatever else that has been left behind, only to be caught in a later wave in the tsunami train.
If a tsunami is approaching, only the ignorant linger by the shore. If we didn't have the time to get our boat at least several miles offshore, we would not attempt to take it out of a harbor. If we did get our boat out, we wouldn't return until it was clear the danger had passed.
The place to find out just about everything about tsunamis is www.tsunami.org. They've also got an archive of terrific photographs.
THE HA-HA'S SISTER CITY IN NAYARIT
We wish to very sincerely thank all of our oceangoing friends for helping the very poor and needy here in our state of Nayarit, Mexico.
During the winter, Gordon and Kaysee of the Westsail 32 Snow Leopard presented us with $420 - 3,990 pesos - that had been donated by members of the Ha-Ha VII from a brief afternoon fundraiser on the catamaran Profligate on a layday at Bahia Santa Maria. We also got another 950 pesos from Deanna Sclar; 1,000 pesos from my friend Juan Flores; and 50 pesos from Tides End. A total of 6,090 pesos.
Here's what we did with the money: A total of 1,600 pesos was spent for clothing. Perhaps the best bargain was given to us by two local boys who own a used clothing store, as they sold us 729 articles of clothing for just 500 pesos. We are very grateful to them. In all, we sent about 1,500 pieces of clothing to the poor villages. Some clothing was also donated by some of the very few cruisers who didn't boycott San Blas - because of the Port Captain - and from Jan and myself. There is one indigenous and quite poor village, Caleras de Cofrado, that will henceforth become the main objective of our efforts.
I recently received a letter from a Mrs. Martinez, advising me that her nine-year-old son Asuncion, who is blind, was becoming very despondent because all he could do all day was sit and listen. We decided to use some of the other money to send her son to the School for the Blind in our state capital of Tepic. A dear friend is administrating the money. I give her 480 pesos every two weeks for expenses necessary for him to learn Braille. Asuncion hopes to become a teacher for the blind someday. He is very excited at his opportunity, and grateful to all who helped contribute. When he was told he was being sent to school, he and his family cried tears of joy.
I hope using the leftover money from this season is okay with all of the cruisers - if not, please advise me. When the money runs out, Jan and I will pay for the rest of the boy's education.
We hope the Ha-Ha and all the cruisers will continue to support our needy, and ask them to remember that the Ha-Ha now has a sister city in the mountains of Nayarit. We ask the Ha-Ha to remember their new 'son', Asuncion, a little blind boy who loves all of you for the help you are giving him. With gratitude and respect, we send all our love to you.
Captain Norman S. Goldie and Janet Mary
Port of San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico
Capt. Norm & Janet - The Grand Poobah
says he's delighted with the way the money has been spent. In
fact, he guarantees that this year the Ha-Ha fleet will raise
a minimum of $1,000 U.S. for the event's 'sister city' Caleras
de Cofrado and for Asuncion's education. In time for Christmas,
THE BCDC DIRECTOR REPLIES
Your coverage of the situation in Richardson Bay in the July edition of Latitude was interesting. I have provided copies to all the members of our Commission.
Rather than comment on your gratuitous insults of our staff, I would like to again - I think this is the third time - offer to sit down and meet with you and your staff in an effort to correct many of the misunderstandings you have about the provisions of state law and BCDC's attitudes toward boaters. Until you can find time in your busy schedule to meet, let me offer a few comments.
First, I recognize that many boaters believe our staff is nuts when we explain that, under certain conditions, a boat must legally be regarded as a type of 'Bay fill'. You have asked us to "declassify" boats as fill. We can't do so because the classification was made by the California Legislature, not by our staff.
For over a generation, state law has treated a vessel moored in one place for an extended period as a type of 'Bay fill'. And for good reason. A boat, whether a single vessel used as a residence or the mothball fleet near Martinez, can have negative impacts on the Bay's ecology, much the same as an artificial landfill. So the law treats the two the same.
And state law prohibits private residences on the publicly-owned open waters of the Bay - just as the law prohibits housing subdivisions from being built in public parks.
BCDC could have interpreted these provisions of law in a draconian fashion. Instead, the Commission recognized that living on boats is part of the rich tradition of the Bay, and that recreational boaters often spend some time residing on their boats as part of an active sailing life. To apply the restrictions of law in a way that will encourage boating on the Bay, the Commission has adopted a self-imposed limitation on its authority. BCDC deals only with those boats that are used as primary residences, are permanently stored in the open Bay, or are abandoned derelicts.
The Commission accommodates as many people who want to live on boats as legally possible. For example, up to 10% of the berths in recreational boat marinas can be used for live- aboard boats. You have asked us to leave this decision up to individual harbormasters. Again, we can't because of state law. The only way we have found to authorize liveaboard boats in recreational marinas is to treat them as a sort of security service for a public trust use - recreational boating. We've stretched the law about as far as we can in doing this. The Commission has also authorized a number of marinas exclusively for houseboats and liveaboard boats - including five along the shoreline of Richardson Bay.
The sheltered waters of Richardson Bay have attracted anchor-out boats for over a century. Over the years, many of these vessels have sunk or been abandoned. The public has been left with the problem of getting rid of the derelict boats and paying to clean up the mess left behind. Other anchor-outs have been moved into marinas that can provide the boat dwellers with sewer connections, fresh water, electricity, fire protection and other amenities.
To provide a long-range solution to the lingering problems, in 1985 the five local governments around Richardson Bay joined with BCDC in adopting a plan. The boat dwellers played an active role in drafting the Richardson Bay Plan, which prohibits new anchor-outs from moving into the Bay and calls for removing the last remaining anchor-outs. The Richardson Bay Regional Agency, which was formed by the local governments to oversee the implementation of the plan, has been making slow, but steady process in cleaning up Richardson Bay.
BCDC has taken enforcement action only against recalcitrant anchor-outs that discharge sewage into the Bay, are hazards to navigation, or pose other public health, environmental or safety problems. Over the years the number of anchor-outs in Richardson Bay has declined, probably as a result of BCDC's enforcement program, the efforts of the Richardson Bay Regional Agency, and the availability of berth space in marinas approved by BCDC. But water contamination is still a problem, and the remaining anchor-outs can pose navigational hazards and interfere with the public's rights to use the Bay.
Despite this progress, last year some BCDC Commissioners questioned why, after 15 years, anchor-outs still remain in Richardson Bay. So the Commission directed our staff to determine the best approach for removing the remaining unauthorized vessels from Richardson Bay. The recommended strategy calls for continued BCDC support for the work of the Richardson Bay Regional Agency. The proposed strategy can be summarized simply as 'stay the course'. If it is adopted, here is what will happen:
People who choose to use boats as their primary residences will still be able to - in houseboat marinas and at recreational boating marinas that have facilities to accommodate liveaboard boats.
Sailors who live on their recreational boats - whether overnight, for a weekend, a month's vacation or during a round-the-world cruise - will not be impacted.
Anchor-out residents will not be evicted and made homeless. The goal of the strategy is to move anchor-out boats and their residents into marinas, not to add to the region's homeless population.
In short, our staff's proposal involves little more than continuing the long-accepted implementation of existing laws and policies. Having said that, I would like to endorse Latitude's idea for establishing an anchorage or mooring field in Richardson Bay for visiting boats. It might be difficult to keep more anchor-outs from moving into such a mooring field, but we have long believed that the benefits to the boating community of such an anchorage outweigh the difficulties of administering it.
I look forward to working with you and the other members of the boating community in getting an anchorage established. And I look forward to eventually having a constructive face-to-face meeting with you.
S.F. Conservation and Development Commission
Readers - On July 20th, we had a very cordial and constructive meeting with BCDC Executive Director Will Travis and Deputy Director Steven McAdam. As a result of our conversation, two of our biggest beefs with the BCDC almost mysteriously seem to have vaporized.
First, we have long complained that it's not the BCDC's place to decide how many people can legally live on their boats. Our reasoning is that no government agency should have the right to limit how much time a person spends on their private property. Travis insists the BCDC does have the right to limit the number of liveaboards, and therefore the number of hours non-liveaboards can spend on their boats . . . but then defused the whole issue by saying that as long as a boatowner can provide some evidence of having another residence, he/she could spend as much time as he/she wanted on their boat without the BCDC considering them a liveaboard. We almost fell out of our chair. In a day and age when anyone who drives to Berkeley with $50 can come back with just about any document - from driver's licenses to passports - documenting that one has another residence is no problema. Caution: Many marinas have more stringent definitions of liveaboards, so if you're not a certified legal liveaboard, your marina is the biggest axe hanging over your head with regard to this issue.
Second, we and many other mariners have long taken considerable umbrage at the BCDC considering boats to be 'Bay fill' for legal purposes. With an emphasis we've never heard expressed before, Deputy Director Steve McAdam told us that generally speaking, the only boats that they consider 'Bay fill' are those that are permanently in place or attached to something. Not believing our ears, we asked him for a clarification. He told us, "Ninety-nine percent of the recreational boats on the Bay are not 'Bay fill'. We were here for the Loma Prieta earthquake, and we weren't shook up as much. Frankly, we're still so rattled we still can't figure out all the implications.
There's so much news with respect to
our meeting with the BCDC - and even more so with regard to general
marina issues from Santa Barbara to San Francisco to Honolulu
- that we've written an entire article that appears later in this
issue. But with regard to the BCDC in particular, the communication
lines are wide open, we're on very amicable terms, and we have
agreed that we're both dedicated to a clean and healthy San Francisco
Bay, but also to maximum access to the Bay for all water and waterfront
lovers. As always, the devil is in the details, but we're certainly
more optimistic than we were a month ago.
WONDERFUL, ADVENTUROUS TIMES
The June Sightings story of the sinking of Passage West greatly saddened us, her former owners, but we were glad to see that Monk survived to tell the tale.
The Wanderer was certainly familiar with the boat, as we remember him rescuing Passage West in Railroad Slough in the Delta (Latitude, July, '82); surprising us on Shelter Island (December, '82); visiting Cabo San Lucas a couple of weeks after the Cabo disaster of December '82 with his expectant wife and their 18-month-old daughter; and knocking on the hull of Passage West many a time in the Sea of Cortez in 1983 looking for stories. We've been going through all the old issues in which we appeared, reliving those wonderful, adventurous times, and feeling sadder about Passage West resting at the bottom of the Pacific. We owned the boat for 15 years, and before selling her to Monk in '94, replaced the original wheel to keep as a souvenir. We intend to fix it up, engrave it, and hang it on our wall as the surviving piece of Passage West.
Our six years of cruising the Caribbean ended in Florida this April with the sail of Passage West II, a Morgan 38. We returned to our house in Mill Valley to await new adventures. But if Monk reads this, we'd like to have him contact us at bobwrigley at aol.com.
Maren Lochridge Wrigley
Maren - Those good times are certainly not forgotten - particularly the one just before heading south from San Diego in early December of '82. As we recall, the two Canadian couples on the CS 36, 'Dr. Bob' and his brother on a Mason 43, the couple from the Islander 28 Rhiannon, you and your friend on Passage West, and our crew on Contrary to Ordinary, somehow ended up at a nudie bar on Shelter Island - naughty, naughty, naughty - which is where the accompanying photograph was taken. Like sensible people, the crews from at least your boat and ours headed back to our vessels to get some sleep before things got too crazy. But somehow Dr. Bob's brother got into a fracas with the San Diego Police, who placed him in the back of a squad car. He then made the mistake of kicking out the car's back window - never a good idea - and got dragged off to jail for the night. If we remember correctly, the charges against him were dropped because the police had also done something very bad, but we're glad we missed it.
As we recall, when it came time for us
to head south a day or two later, Southern California was hit
with some of its worst weather in 25 years. There were gale force
winds and seas to 25 feet in the Catalina Channel. After seeing
full size Navy ships rolling beam-to in the huge swells, we decided
that discretion was the better part of valor, and returned to
port. Less than a week later, we were down in Cabo San Lucas getting
the story on the 28 boats that had washed up on the beach as a
result of the weird storm from the southeast, and a short time
later you and Passage West were there. It seems a long time ago,
but we remember it as though it were yesterday.
QUESTIONS ON THE PACIFIC CUP 2002
My partner and I are interested in signing up our boat for the next West Marine Pacific Cup. I crewed in the '92 race, and am yearning to do it again. I checked the Pacific Cup website, but it only had information on the results of the 2000 and 1998 races. Where can I go to find out the rules for the race, and the skills and equipment requirements? We know that we will have to do some upgrading and want to know specifically what's required so that we can get started.
Fred - Entry packets for the 2002 West Marine Pacific Cup became available on July 25. You can get yours by sending $25 to the Pacific Cup YC, 2269 Chestnut St., #111, San Francisco, CA 94123. The original intention was to put everything up on the website, but then they discovered that the Ocean Racing regulations weren't available on the net. So they are sending hard copies of everything in the packets. By the time you read this, the Pacific Cup website should have been updated also.
When it comes to the West Marine Pacific
Cup, the lessons from the past are simple: Sign up early or risk
not getting a slot. Aloha and mahalo.
In your July issue, there was a letter disagreeing with you quoting Chris White - from his book The Cruising Multihull - about how he wouldn't cross oceans in a cat under 40 feet. About four years ago, I went to the Multihull Symposium in Miami, where White was one of the featured speakers. In front of the crowd, I asked him to expound on not wanting to cross an ocean on a cat under 40 feet. His reply was yes, there had been many ocean crossings in multihulls under 40 feet, but when you get into marginal situations, you'd want something that was bigger and wider.
But here's the funny part - and the reason I'm writing. White said that he's gotten more grief about that line than anything else he's said or written. Unlike monohulls, which rely on ballast to keep them upright, the ultimate stability of a multihull relies on its wide beam, light weight, and the good seamanship of the skipper. A cat or tri must be able to yield to the seas by floating over the nasty stuff and being able to scoot out of harm's way. In a well-designed and properly built multihull, this can only happen if the boat is kept light. If you overload a multihull, you're going to be bashing through seas in something that wasn't designed to bash.
This is a very different philosophy than the cruising monohull, where weight is not nearly such an important issue because you are sailing in something that was designed and built to bash. I think that the over/under 40-foot multihull comment comes down to this: it's a lot scarier in the nasty stuff because you're going to get thrown around a lot. But it's been proven countless times that a backpacker's mentality combined with good seamanship have enabled many small multihulls to cross oceans.
P.S. As always, thanks again for your efforts in putting out an excellent magazine!
Steve - On the day we received your letter, it was reported that the bodies of Guy Hornett and Shelley Hind of Ontario, Canada, were found beneath a flipped 40-foot catamaran - type then unknown - on the waters of Lake Huron. He, a singlehanded Atlantic vet, and she, who hoped to sail in an around-the-world race, had entered the catamaran Great White along with 67 other boats in the annual Doublehanded Challenge from Port Huron to Rogers City. The fleet was hit by 40 to 50-knot winds for up to 20 hours, which created waves to 18 feet. Some said it was the worst conditions they'd seen on the lake in 20 years.
Only one boat, the F-31 trimaran Stampede, managed to finish without taking refuge. Ron White, the owner of Stampede, had done a number of races with Hornett, including three Mackinac races. He described Hornett as one of the most experienced sailors in their group, and said that Hind has been sailing for more than 20 years. White reported that Stampede has been becalmed just before dawn, when there was a sudden temperature drop and they were hit by very strong winds. Overpowered and being driven backwards at five knots, they finally managed to double-reef the main and hoist a storm jib, which they carried the rest of the race. White speculated that Hornett and Hind may have been hit by winds they never saw coming, for they were found wearing only light clothing although the air temperature was just 50 degrees and the water temperature 55 degrees.
People are welcome to criticize us for believing that cats under 40 feet start to be on the small size for genuinely rough ocean conditions, but it is what we believe. Of course, we know that many small cats have made ocean crossings. Indeed, half the male sailors in France seem to have crossed the Atlantic at least a couple of times in a Hobie Cat. That doesn't mean we'd recommend it to anyone, let alone the general sailing population. It seems to us that the risks associated with catamaran size are a continuum, and that all other things being equal, the bigger the cat, the safer the cat. Having said that, we'll nonetheless remind everyone that two 40-foot cats survived the wicked Queen's Birthday Storm in the South Pacific, a blow that resulted in the loss of a number of lives and several excellent quality monohulls. Not only did they survive, they survived without their crews, who abandoned their vessels during one of the worst storms to ever hit a cruising fleet.
The weight of a cat, on the other hand, seems to be a little trickier proposition. While light weight is generally considered a good thing for catamaran safety, we think it's possible to have too much of a good thing. Maybe it has something to do with the photo we ran of the 40-foot charter cat in Nawiliwili that was whipped like a falling star and ended up impaled on the bridge of a Coast Guard Cutter - which ultimately had to be scrapped. Or perhaps the smaller cats that flipped on the enclosed waters of St. Martin's Simpson Bay during Hurricane Luis. Or the 36-foot cat that flipped while shadowing - it wasn't allowed to enter - last year's Santa Barbara to King Harbor Race.
WHAT WERE THE CIRCUMSTANCES?
I just read the July 9 'Lectronic Latitude account of the two people who died on Lake Huron after their 40-ft catamaran flipped. Very sad indeed. It would be interesting to know more of what actually went on. Since they were both killed, I guess we'll never know. There is always more to the story. For instance: How well did they know the boat? Had they shortened sail, and if so, how much? Were they still in 'racing mode' at the time of the capsize? What was the design? Were they trailing warps or something to slow them down while sailing downwind? What specifically did they do, if anything, to get the boat under control, or were they laying broadside to the sea's? Did they have escape hatches in the hulls, with nearby tools to open them? Had they both practiced what they would do in the event of a capsize?
Most multihull enthusiasts don't like to talk about how multis are more stable upside down - but it's true! In the extremely rare event that you do capsize, the good thing is that with proper preparation they make excellent liferafts. I'll take being upside down and living in relative comfort any day over sinking and having to resort to trying to survive in some crummy liferaft. I've read enough of those survival-in- liferaft stories, and they scare the hell out of me. Years ago Jim Brown, designer of the Searunner trimarans wrote a great book called The Case For The Cruising Catamaran, which I'm sure is out of print. It goes into what you should do to prepare for the worst case scenario - capsize - when sailing a tri or cat offshore. It's excellent and I highly recommend it.
I'm really uncomfortable about reports of multihull disasters when important details are missing - especially when they involve racing. I don't think any comparisons regarding the safety of multis should be made when dealing with racing situations, which is why I specifically mentioned the importance of good seamanship in my previous letter (Which is printed above - editor). When winning at all costs is the motto, good seamanship often goes out the window.
About ten years ago we had a monster of a winter storm down here off San Diego and the northern Baja area. All the talking heads on the local news channels went spewing on about a trimaran lost at sea near San Diego, and how dangerous multihulls were. Well, I called the hospital and spoke to the skipper of the trimaran that was lost. He and the rest of his crew were fine, but they had abandoned the boat, and he was now very negative about multihulls in general. It's been too long and unfortunately I don't remember the details, but I did gently question him about what had happened. I only remember now that I was shocked at the time that they had done just about everything wrong possible. The sad thing is that their whole mishap was being blamed on the type of boat. I didn't say anything because that would have been kicking a guy that was already down, but I do remember thinking what a lucky SOB he was and also how foolish he was that his actions - or inaction - had almost caused him to lose his whole family. His wife and two kids were sailing with him.
I emphatically agree with you that size matters when it comes to multihull safety offshore. I mean, geez, that's just common sense! I also disagree with the guy who recently wrote and accused you of being some kind of elitist anti-multihull person. Except for Multihulls magazine, I think Latitude has done more for the multihull movement on the West Coast then anything prior.
Steve - As you say, there is indeed always 'more to the story'. According to a report we just received from Ron White of Stampede, Guy Hornett had packed more adventure into his 59 years than anybody else he'd known. A vet of the British Navy and Polaris submarines, he'd done the 2,000-mile Round Britain Race in a 26-foot monohull; the '72 Singlehanded TransAtlantic with a 42-ft tri and corrected out first in a fleet of 55; a later Singlehanded TransAtlantic; three Chicago to Mackinac Races with White; and lots of other sailing. When not working as a nuclear engineer, he liked to teach kids to sail, ski and play soccer. In other words, Hornett was a very intelligent and very experienced multihull sailor - who didn't shy from pushing the edge. Less is known about his doublehanded partner Shelly Hind, although it is known that she'd been sailing for more than 20 years and was looking to participate in an around-the-world race. So she wasn't a novice either.
We agree with you that there's a world of difference between multihull safety when it comes to racing, and multihull safety when it comes to cruising or daysailing. In fact, we can name a number of deaths or near deaths as a result of multihull racing in Northern California, but none with non-racing multihulls. Great White, the cat Hornett and Hind were racing, was 40 feet long, displaced just 8,000 pounds, yet had a 60-foot rotating carbon fiber mast. The emphasis of her design was obviously speed rather than safety. The following is Ron White speculating what might have happened to his friend:
"I believe when the gale struck us at 0430, Great White was probably as much as 20 miles further to the northwest than we aboard Stampede. They had rounded the Goderich mark over an hour ahead of us and probably averaged two to three knots greater boatspeed than our F-31 in the reaching conditions encountered over the six-hour period between 1900 on 6/30 and 02:00 on 7/1. Great White was found with the spinnaker up. We had the benefit of some visibility from dawn, but Guy and Shelly probably did not. Even if they sensed the shift and temperature drop as I did, they would have had less than a minute to get the spinnaker down, as the wind went from three to 35 knots in under 60 seconds. On Stampede, all sheets and halyards are led to the cockpit and can be reached from the helm. This is not the case on Great White. Halyards are led to the base of the mast and sheets to winches in the vicinity of the helm station. The only action that could have saved Great White from going over would have been a very quick release of the sheet, halyard or tackline. Only the sheet could have been reached by the helmsman, leaving the crewman to cover a vast distance to handle everything else - if that individual was even on deck. Ninety-nine percent of the time Guy and Shelly could have handled it, but in these extreme and quickly changing conditions, the boat was beyond the physical capabilities of two people to handle. I do not yet have enough information on their condition and location in which they were found to speculate on why they were unable to survive after the capsize. They were lightly clothed and not wearing exposure suits."
For what it's worth, the two 40-foot cruising cats that survived the much worse Queen's Birthday Storm - 80 to 90-knot winds and seas to 30 feet - without benefit of their crews, had a lot less sail area and displaced a lot more than did the 40-foot Great White.
Two other comments. Surviving the flipping of a multihull is by no means a sure thing. Sailors have gotten trapped beneath them, they've gotten trapped inside, and they've died of exposure. Secondly, those old horror tales of days-on-end survival in cramped liferafts is almost entirely a thing of the past. Thanks to EPIRBs, it rarely takes more than 12 hours for anyone to be found and receive some kind of assistance.
FCC FORM 506
In your layman's primer on marine radios, readers were advised to get Form 506 from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). I believe the FCC has discontinued use of this form for a regular ship's radio license. If you are a U.S. boat and are going to be using your boat in U.S. waters, no license is required. If the applicant needs an international license, they need to fill out form 605, which costs $120 for 10 years. The form can be completed online at www.fcc.gov/formpage.html. I got this information by calling the FCC at (888) 225-5322.
Amel Maramu III
Jay - We've tried to contact the FCC
to confirm what you say, but haven't been able to get through.
Yes, we're having trouble communicating with the Federal Communications
Dave Fullerton's Getting Radio Ready in the June issue caught my eye. There is a minor error in the article. He refers to the Amateur Radio Relay League, which the correct name is the American Radio Relay League - an organization that has been in existence for about 90 years.
I'd also like to comment on his remark about "snooty hams" - a characterization that I must strongly object to. I am a licensed ham - and have been for 53 years. I was 16 at the time that I got my ticket, and I have been very proud of that ever since. Many hams have passed a much tougher exam than is presently required, and at an age several years younger than I.
The point is that the exam isn't that hard! All that is required is the will to pass it and the mindset to place that goal at a high enough priority level. The fact is that when one is operating on the high seas - 12 miles out - one is subject to U.S. laws, and the operation on the HF bands with a no-code Tech license is illegal. I, for one, refuse to condone or encourage illegal operation on the ham bands, and I don't take kindly to those who think they have a God-given right to do anything they want. And I don't think that's being snooty!
Aside from that, I think Mr. Fullerton did a very nice job of covering a topic that lots of folks are afraid of.
Sandpiper, Catalina 42
Tom - You and all the other hams who passed the harder tests have every right to be proud, and we salute you. In fact, we're further willing to acknowledge that it was the willingness of you folks born in the first half of the last century to sacrifice and do the hard work you were assigned that laid the foundation for America becoming the most powerful nation in the history of the world. Alas, times have changed. Those of us born in the second half of the century tend to prefer self-absorption to self-sacrifice, and were taught to question authority and demand the reasons for having to do anything.
You slightly older folks understandably
want younger folks to learn code - just like you had to. But to
many of us, it's irrelevant that the test isn't hard because we
simply don't see the point in learning code. Certainly it was
valuable in the days prior to GPS, radar, EPIRBs, weatherfax,
SailMail, satellite telephone systems and all the rest, but what's
the point today? We've been cruising to Mexico and other places
around the world for more than 20 years, and we honestly can't
think of a single instance when we wished we'd known code. Furthermore,
it's been more than two years since the last of the 12 North American
stations sent a commercial message by code. As such, the requirement
to learn code comes across as dated form of hazing - particularly
since 90% of the people who pass the code test probably couldn't
pass it again a month later.
Dave Fullerton's June issue Getting Radio Ready article on SSB radio installation was informative. He was, however, somewhat vague regarding antenna installation. A couple of things he said made me suspect that he may have made some mistakes, therefore some clarification is needed in this area.
Fullerton says he chose to use the backstay rather than a three to four-foot stick so it wouldn't radiate RF energy on the occupants. The backstay is a good choice; however, you will have RF energy radiated on you no matter what antenna you use. The three to four-foot stick antenna is not an option anyway because it is too short. A 25-foot whip would work fine - although it's probably not preferable on a sailboat.
The antenna lead runs from the tuner to the antenna, not from the transmitter to the antenna.
Regarding installation of the antenna lead: Fullerton says he installed the lower insulator up high so it could not be reached. I wonder how he routed the antenna lead to the point of attachment above the insulator. If coax was used, this would be a mistake. It would also be a mistake to lash the lead to the part of the backstay below the insulator en-route to where the connection is made.
The antenna lead - which leads from the tuner to the antenna - should be unshielded wire, not coax, with high voltage insulation. It should also be kept at least four inches from anything made of metal. This means it must not be bundled with any other wires, and must not be lashed to the lower portion of the backstay. To facilitate this, the tuner must be located in the lazarette, near the antenna, in order to keep the antenna lead short.
Violation of the above rules would probably not prevent the rig from working at all. It would, however, reduce efficiency, and could put RF energy into other electrical devices. Do you see lights glowing when the radio is operated, even though they are turned off? It could also result in the inability to tune up on certain frequencies.
The following is a quote from the SailMail Web site: "Common mistakes are a ground strap that is too small, or an antenna lead wire that is run alongside a backstay (below the backstay insulator). The latter shunts a large part of your signal to the ocean, so either maintain two to three-inch spacing or, far better, put the lower insulator at the extreme lower end of the backstay. Then use plastic tubing to insulate the lower part of the backstay (above the insulator) that is within the crew's reach."
Victor de Pinto
NEVER AGAIN ON MY BOAT
After reading the June issue article about boat fires, I decided to pass along a warning. Up until last month, I kept one of those butane-powered, pistol-style lighters aboard for the BBQ, the galley, the melting of lines, the lighting of mosquito coils, and so forth. But on one particularly hot day in the Delta, I was working in the cockpit when I heard a loud 'pop' from the direction of the cabin, and then heard something hit the dock. I didn't think much about it, assuming that it must have been a gull dropping or something. But later I found the empty plastic tank from a 'pistol' lighter on the dock. And over the next couple of weeks, I kept finding other parts. Evidently, the heat expanded the butane to the point that the tank ruptured, scattering parts all over the boat and out the companionway. I dread to think what would have happened if the galley stove had been on or a citronella mosquito candle had been burning.
Needless to say, those butane lighters have been banished from my boat - or at least the cabin. The anchor locker, which is designed to drain, might be a good place. But never again inside my boat.
Catalina 30, No Mas
Dave - Thanks for the warning. Has anybody else had a similar experience?
PHONE NUMBERS AND URLS
I really enjoyed the feature on Southern California anchorages and marinas - especially since we're contemplating, after completing a cruise of the Western Caribbean, trucking our Pearson 424 from Galveston to San Diego. Our motivations are to revisit our original sailing/cruising grounds, and to join a future Baja Ha-Ha - both of which hold much appeal to us. I'd also like to meet the Wanderer, as I think we knew one another at UCSB two eons ago.
Anyway, the purpose of this email is that in your June article on Southern California, you promised that you would publish, in 'Lectronic Latitude, all the phone numbers and URLs of all the facilities you mentioned. But I'll be danged if I can find them on 'Lectronic Latitude. Did you put them up? If so, where? If not, could you have somebody put them up? We'd love to have them before we go back to Port of Spain, Trinidad. By the way, if you're really serious about spreading Latitudes around, I'd be glad to take some back with us to all the places in Chagauramus.
Whoosh, Pearson 424 Ketch
Port of Spain, Trinidad
Jack - The Wanderer has a terrible confession to make. He had the time to either publish all the phone numbers and URLs in 'Lectronic, or spend a couple of weeks cruising the Italian and French Rivieras - doing magazine research, of course. He couldn't do both. Since everyone could find the phone numbers and URLs of all the facilities quickly using the fabulous Google search engine, he made the difficult executive-level decision to make the trip to Europe.
We hope you're able to do a Ha-Ha soon,
for if so, we can trade memories of the tank-lined streets of
Isla Vista, of the Bank of America being burned to the ground
- and the tragic death of Kevin Moran, our next door neighbor
during freshman year and a prince of a human being, who was "accidentally"
shot and killed by police while trying to remove a bomb from the
rebuilt Bank of America. You'll not be forgotten as long as we're
THE CONTROVERSIAL 10 KNOT AVERAGE
In view of the controversies that sometimes erupt about being able to average 10 knots, you might be interested in a snippet of information I got from the Yachting Monthly forum today about Hoya 'Round The Island (of Wight) Race in Britain - for which, by the way, there were 1,730 entries.
"And a British boat, the Ocean Leopard, broke the 1996 monohull record of 5 hours, 12 minutes and 3 seconds, lowering it to 4 hours, 5 minutes and 40 seconds. That's for 50 miles over the ground, more through the water".
If my math isn't wrong - it often is - that makes for an average speed of 12.25 knots. Of course, it ain't a Trans-Atlantic or TransPac, but still . . .
New York City
John - If anyone really cares to recall
this controversy, it was about whether a Swan 651 that Doña
de Mallorca crewed on could have been delivered across the Atlantic
at an average speed of 10 knots or more. The Wanderer says this
is preposterous - your example notwithstanding. Keep in mind that
a Swan 651 is 16 feet shorter than the 81-foot Ocean Leopard; that she didn't have a
full racing crew or the latest go-fast gear; and that she had
to sail 50 times - 50 times!!! - further than Ocean Leopard's
little afternoon sprint. As we've said repeatedly, averaging 10
knots for 24 or 36 hours is no big deal for a modern racing boat
- or even for a Swan 651. But for a Swan 651 to average 10 knots
for more than 10 days is more than we're willing to believe -
without independent confirmation. And even then we'll think they're
SCARCITY OF BERTHS
We are currently cruising in the Sea of Cortez and I just got a copy of your May issue, which addresses the subject of the scarcity of berths in San Francisco. As former San Francisco residents, sailors and liveaboards, we are obviously interested in the subject.
While it may be intellectually interesting to categorize boat uses - how much a boat is used, the manner in which it is being used - I believe that attempting to allocate slips in such a manner is futile and could ultimately create another bureaucracy. Think about it, if we allocate a slip based on frequency of use, who is going to monitor the use? And what happens if one year I use the boat less? Do I get relegated to a lower priority for a slip? Or for that matter, what happens if I use my boat more? Just think about all of the arguments going on to decide such issues. How about another agency that reviews all of this and makes the decisions?
If we agree that we do not need another level of people monitoring and managing something like this, why not rely on the old standby economic theory: 'supply and demand'. Let that ultimately regulate the problem, which it ultimately will. If the marina raises the berth fees, the person who can't afford it and doesn't make his/her boat a high priority in his/her life will have to move further out - say to San Leandro. On the other hand, a person who is into boating - be it as a liveaboard or daysailing - will be more than willing to shell out bigger bucks to satisfy his/her interest.
What I'm trying to say is that we should keep things simple and not think up a way to create another bloated bureaucracy that decides what you and I can and cannot do. Yes, there are problems, but throwing rules and regulations at something like this is, in our opinion, not the preferred way. Besides, we don't attempt to regulate the 'land-based' housing market with its problems in such a manner, so why berths?
Thomas and Kathryn Knueppel
Tai Tam II
San Francisco / Currently in the Sea of Cortez
Thomas & Kathryn - To the contrary, we think there are any number of ways that a 'use it or lose it' system could be implemented without the need for a complicated bureaucracy. Say the berth fee is currently $8/foot/month. Raise the berth fee to $24/foot/month, but allow credits for use. If a boat goes out 12 times a year, the fee drops to $16/foot/month. If the boat goes out 24 times a year, the fee drops to the original $8/foot/month. Monitoring is simple. Boatowners check out on a computer. Those caught checking out without actually leaving the berth get 'fined' 20 credits. If somebody doesn't take their boat out a certain minimum number of times in two years and the marina has a waiting list, their boat gets the boot and has to relocate to Port Sonoma or some other relatively empty marina on the periphery of the Bay. What could be easier?
Or make more sense? We think the results would be quick, clear, and positive - at least for those who view water access as the purpose of boats and marinas. After all, folks who used prime berths to store unused boats would be fiscally prompted to relocate to less desirable marinas. Folks who used boats solely as housing would have to pay more typical Bay Area housing prices - or be forced to persuade the citizens of California that using a boat strictly as a residence is a proper use of public trust lands. (Elsewhere in this issue, you'll read that one of California's most powerful legislators has suggested just that!) And best of all, people who wanted to use boats and marinas for their intended purpose would actually get a shot at a slip that didn't require them to burn tons of fossil fuels and leisure time just to reach the good sailing areas of San Francisco Bay.
Just today we learned that somebody thought of the 'use it or lose it' concept before we did! Namely Santa Cruz Municipal Yacht Harbor - although it turns out that they aren't the only ones. According to Kimbra Eldridge, the Operations Manager, every berth renter in Santa Cruz is required to use their boat 10 times a year. No compliance means they lose their slip. 'Use' means you check in with the harbor office, tell them you're going to use the boat, then wave at them or contact them by radio as you exit the harbor. Technically, all you have to do is get past the jetty, at which point you can come right back. Exceptions are made for extenuating circumstances, such as illness and ususual work schedules. They try to 'work' with their tenants. If somebody is identified as a non-user, they are sent a letter. This usually gets people to either use their boats more or to realize their boat is no longer very important to them. According to Eldridge, it's been found that this system "keeps the ball rolling" on slips. Right now, there are 60 boats on the 'non-use' list. While this may sound mean to folks threatened with losing their slip, there's another side to it: There are 1,100 people who pay $65 a year just to be on the waiting list for a slip at Santa Cruz. If they're looking for a slip in the South Harbor - where you don't have to lower your mast each time you leave and re-enter the harbor - there's an 18 to 20-year wait!
The way we see it, the 'use it or lose
it' scheme fits perfectly with your formula of supply and demand
- without the unpleasant side-effect of boatowners having to pay
much higher prices for berths. There is a limited supply of berths
for access to the Bay and ocean, and those with the greatest demand
- i.e. the desire for that access - get the supply. Our system
would be based on who wants the access most, not who has the most
money. In these days of wealthy folks willing to pay tens of thousands
of dollars for better located slips, we think it's something that
all boatowners might want to keep in mind.
A REASONABLE EXPECTATION OF SURVIVAL
I read with interest your June issue article titled Bay Area Sailing Primer. I agreed with all your suggestions regarding sailing the Bay - with one exception: Your statement that boats under 20 feet are too small for sailing on the open Bay.
I sail a West Wight Potter 19 on the Bay year round, and although it can be tricky at times, I think if someone knows their boat, has the proper equipment, and understands the currents and tides, one has a reasonable expectation of survival. In the case of our Potter, Riptide's high freeboard keeps her dryer than many boats, and I certainly feel safer than if I were on a Catalina 22. We have been out the Gate on a number of occasions, including chasing the last Lightship Race fleet well past Seal Rock. In fact, I have been more terrified on the 50-footer that I crew on than I ever have been on the Potter.
We do make use of harnesses and tethers with proper anchors. I always check the tides and currents when making plans. And we reef or change headsails when things get to be too much.
P.S. One of my favorite spots to anchor - and beach - is the lee side of the Tiburon peninsula, which is a great place if you want to avoid the crowds of Ayala Cove.
West Wight Potter 19
Davis, 'Not By The Sea', California
Eric - When we finished the Silver Eagle Long Distance Race just before 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 21, it was blowing a solid 25 knots all the way from Pt. Blunt to Pier 39. The strong ebb created a relentless three-to-five-foot chop, with successive waves just a few feet apart. And some areas of the Bay were roiled as though five ships had just passed - although none had.
It wasn't the windiest we've seen the Bay, but we can't remember the last time we'd seen the surface so rough. If you'd have found yourself in that stuff with a West Wight Potter 19, we don't think you could have survived - at least not without outside help. Over the years, a number of very good boats have simply been overwhelmed by such conditions, and many years ago an entire family was lost.
It's no problem to sail an El Toro across
the Bay when conditions are mild, it's when it gets nasty that
a bigger boat becomes a necessity. While it's a generalization,
we think 20 feet is a good minimum size - provided the skipper
is quick to heed Small Craft Warnings.
I currently own a Catalina 36 and have a great time sailing on San Francisco Bay. Recently I got a job offer from a company in Rockville, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C. I was wondering if you could give me a brief comparison between the weather and the sailing season here and there. I'm especially concerned about things that they have that we don't - such as bugs and ice cold winters.
Juan - There are some things that the Chesapeake has that San Francisco Bay doesn't. You mentioned the bugs and snowy cold winters, but don't forget the heat and humidity - and sometimes hurricanes - of summer. Oh yeah, the lightning storms, too. Then there's at least three things that San Francisco Bay has that the Chesapeake doesn't: consistent wind, deep water, and spectacular scenery. We also have fog, but we're not sure if that's a good thing. As far as we can see, the only advantage is that the Chessy is only a couple of hundred miles from the great cruising of the Northeast, which all things considered, is superior to that of Southern California.
If we had to move to the Chesapeake for
business or family reasons, we would keep our boat on the bay
for one summer and fall, then take her to the Caribbean. From
then on, we'd commute to the islands one or two times a month
for great weather and great sailing. If you buy tickets in advance,
it would actually be quite economical - and a heck of a lot more
LOOKING TO LEAVE MY BOAT ON THE EAST COAST
I need information on places on the East Coast of the United States to leave my boat after a passage up from the Panama Canal. I know there are problems with hurricanes, so a spot with a nice hurricane hole would be favorable. And as I intend to leave the boat for about eight months, I'd want a secure location. Any suggestions?
Rick - There are two other boat dangers
on the East Coast: 1) Lightning bolts. When Big
O was in Charleston, boat masts and light poles got hit with
alarming frequency. 2) Astronomical berth fees. Lots of marinas
in prime areas think nothing of charging $2/foot per night for
short term, and $20/foot per month or more for long term. There's
not much you can do to avoid hurricanes or lightning strikes,
but if you're looking to avoid extreme berth fees, we'd recommend
the west coast of Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, or the far
reaches of the Chesapeake. Forget yachting centers such as Key
West, Fort Lauderdale and Annapolis. Perhaps some of our East
Coast readers have some suggestions.
WHAT MY OLD MAN SAID
Sorry to be so late with this, but living out here on Island time, it takes a long time and a lot of money to get our mail. I'm surprised no one has got the right answer to whether it takes more or the same amount of water for a small boat to transit the Panama Canal as a big ship.
There was a guy last November who almost had the correct answer, but not quite. We are in agreement that it takes the same amount of water to raise a Panamax as it does to raise a dinghy. But the question of the volume of fresh water needed for the transit changes when you down lock. As you enter from the lake, the lock is full of fresh water, so as you drive your Panamax ship into the lock, you displace a lot more water back into the lake than a small boat would before the lock doors are closed. This difference in displacement is a net saving of fresh water. In fact, they ought to pay us for helping save them water by filling in the unused spaces. Just kidding.
We're really enjoying Vanuatu after a second great season in New Zealand. After here and New Caledonia, we'll be heading back to New Zealand. After that, we have to spin the big wheel to see where next.
Our favorite boat name? A friend back home had a Riva he called Momasipia - which stood for 'My Old Man Always Said I'd Piss It Away'.
Jim Forrest and Jeanette Denby
Jim & Jeanette - Our head still hurts
from all the thinking we did about this question the first time
it rolled around. We'll leave it at this: The Panama Canal Commission
says it takes 52 million gallons of water each time a vessel -
no matter if it's a ship or a dinghy - transits the Canal.
I'm soon to be new to the Bay Area, and am hoping you can suggest a good cruising guide.
Joe - David Kennedy of the Armchair Sailor
Bookstore in Sausalito recommends San
Francisco Bay Cruising Guide by Carolyn and Bob Mehaffy. It
doesn't cover the Delta, however, so you'll want to pick up one
of Hal Schell's books or maps. In addition we strongly recommend
you acquire a copy of Kimball Livingston's Sailing the Bay.
COASTIES TO THE RESCUE
Arnold and Deb Owens of Grass Valley sent me this email from their Southern Cross 31 Moondance, and gave me permission to forward it to you. I thought your readers might be interested in the experience they had on their way to Hawaii.
"So here we are 250 miles offshore on our way from Cabo to Hawaii. The night brought no wind, and we both were drifting in and out of our watches. Arnold had developed an awful-looking red bump on his upper eye lid. It started the day we left Cabo. Yesterday we kept hot compresses on it through the day, but this morning it looked a little worse. He's had this little bump since a motorcycle trip with his bud Chuck in Costa Rica, and now it decided to abcess. Nurse Deborah read the first-aid book, which indicated the need to open it if it didn't open itself. But all we had were cooking knives.
"Then Arnold spotted something on the horizon. He pulled out the binoculars to get a closer look, and decided it was a ship heading our way. The closer it got, the whiter it looked. The radar confirmed that it was heading straight for us. We took the opportunity to check our radio and see if they had picked us up on their radar. They had, and lo and behold, it's a 300-foot long U.S. Coast Guard cutter!
"Nurse Deborah radioed them and told them about Arnold's eye. About a minute later, four young guys boarded our boat, put Arnold in a big orange rescue boat, and took him to the Coast Guard ship. He came back in an hour, Deborah having passed the time talking about life with the three Coasties who remained aboard. When Arnold came back, he had a patch over his eye and looked like a pirate. He'd also been given a handful of medication and directions for taking care of things for the next week - and a box of pastries from the Coast Guard vessel's cook!
"All in a day aboard the little ship Moondance on her way to Hawaii. Who says we are way out here in the middle of nowhere and there's no one else around? Again, be careful what you ask for, cause you always get more than you bargained for. We are sooooooo well taken care of."
Second Nature, Prout 33 Catamaran
A few months ago, one of your readers in Thailand wrote in about problems with their Azimov lens. I permanently 'fixed' my Azimov lens by super-carefully unscrewing the existing lens from the light fixture. I then hack-sawed the top portion of the lens off, leaving about an inch or so above the flange with which to cement a replacement lens to. The trick was to then find any drinking glass or dome that is about 2.75-inches in diameter and about 5.5-inches tall. It's easiest to find a plastic one, which will last for two or three years, or until you find the perfect glass one. Practically all glass tumblers that would fit have bases that are too thick and heavy. I figure that there's a lot of whiplash at the top of the mast, so you don't want heavy. When using a plastic glass for the lens, drill a series of small holes around the base of the glass and around the stub of the base for the cement to grip to, then use a polyurethane-type sealer. Let it cure thoroughly, then go back up and screw your new 'lens' on.
I ultimately did find the ideal glass 'lens', which turned out to have started life as a nice little Christmas candy container shaped like an undulated Christmas tree. It is both cemented and SS wired on, so it should be there forever. And I love it!
P.S. Sometime this year I hope to depart the Bay for an east-about circumnavigation.
Gypsy Dancer, Cascade 29
San Francisco Bay
KUDOS TO WEST MARINE
Several months ago while temporarily back in the United States - we are 40,000 miles into our circumnavigation - I purchased a 3,000-watt inverter/charger from West Marine. However, when we got to our boat in Australia and installed the unit, it didn't work in either inverter or charger mode.
I contacted the manufacturer, and they gave me an Australian company which was their repair agent in Oz. It should be noted that the model I purchased is not sold in Australia, and it was the first time the agent had ever seen the model. After several weeks, they returned it, charging me for several items - including shipping back the damaged parts and unreimbursed man hours from the manufacturer. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper, as the inverter did work, but the charger still didn't.
I was not about to go back to the manufacturer or the agent so they could take another chunk out of my backside. Instead, I contacted West Marine via email - although they do offer a toll-free number from Australia. Karly Dotter of West Marine handled my complaint quickly - even refunding some of the outlandish charges imposed by the manufacturer through their agent - and shipped us a replacement.
The new inverter/charger has been installed and is working as advertised. Needless to say, I am very lucky to have done business with West Marine.
Steven and Aleta Hansen
Final Frontier, MacGregor 65
DID YOU THROW A BANANA PEEL OVERBOARD?
It was great to read Conrad and Charlotte's June letter about their long circumnavigation. We met them at the Hawaii YC, where they captivated our family. I don't know how old they are - they could be my grandparents - but they were the most competent sailors we'd met. They chose not to include themselves in the club's activities such as potluck dinners - "I love Charlotte's cooking," said Conrad, once, with a twinkle in his eye.
My favorite Conrad and Charlotte story took place when we were on our way from Hawaii to Alaska, and Wisp was on her way to San Francisco. We had set up a twice-a-day sked on the HF, and Charlotte always operated the radio. On the afternoon when our Rutea was about 100 miles north of Wisp and about 500 miles north of Hanalei Bay, Charlotte asked me, "Did you throw a banana peel overboard?" Her voice was both accusatory and irritated at the same time. It was clear from the way she asked the question that she and Conrad never threw anything overboard. I was humiliated. I stared at the mike in my hand. My face flushed red as my family listened to our crime being announced to the entire northbound fleet. I don't believe I've ever thrown anything overboard since!
Wisp was later battered by a strong gale as she headed west towards San Francisco. As I recall, they had some damage to their sails. During that time, Charlotte's radio transmissions were strong and without duress. It's always good to hear about successful sailors.
Rutea, Contest 48
BANDERAS BAY REGATTA
Thanks for the great article on this year's Banderas Bay Regatta. My wife and I are in Puerto Vallarta every year around March, and next year we're going to do our best to find a boat to crew on.
South San Francisco
Scott - The atmosphere at the Banderas Bay Regatta is such that everybody is welcome, so you shouldn't have any trouble getting on a boat. We suggest buying the ticket that entitles you to three nights of all-you-can-eat finger foods and all you can drink - plus the elaborate award's dinner presentation. It's a bargain, and will make it impossible for you not to meet scores of new sailing friends. By the way, next year's Banderas Bay Regatta will start on March 14 - which is a little earlier than normal to avoid a conflict with Easter. For those who buy tickets early - Alaska Airlines now has non-stop service from San Francisco - it can be a bargain vacation in a terrific sailing area.
GOING TO CUBA LEGALLY
You may not be the right folks to ask, but I'm considering going to Cuba in the coming months - although not on my current sailboat - and have a question. From what's been published in Latitude, I understand that it's not exactly illegal to travel to Cuba, but it's illegal to spend money there. There is a $250,000 and 10-year prison term penalty for anyone who violates this law, but I don't believe anyone has been tried and convicted.
I also understand that you can travel to Cuba legally under specific conditions - such as being a journalist. Can I go there and write about marinas and such for Latitude? I also understand that if you go there illegally, Cuban Customs will not stamp your passport, but they could also hassle you if they chose. But, I also thought the Latitude article indicated you could legally sail to Cuba. Is there a contradiction or am I forgetting some caveats?
Two more questions. Do you recall if it's only illegal to spend U.S. dollars? What if you used Canadian or Bahamian money? Second, do you know of any contacts, either related to that article or other sources, that have information on travelling to Cuba? A few of the web sites I've visited seem to have some good information, but also a separate agenda.
Tardis, Columbia 45
Pete's Harbor, Redwood City
Edward - When we sailed Big O from the D.R. toward Cuba in '96, we were stopped by the Coast Guard in the middle of the Windward Passage and asked where we were headed. When we told them Cuba, they said they had to advise us not to go there. We asked if they were just giving us advice or ordering us not to go there. They reluctantly admitted it was only advice, and there was nothing to legally prevent us from visiting Cuba. Later on, after they'd searched our boat and we'd become sort of friendly, the head of the boarding patrol, a woman, told us to take lots of dollars "because it's expensive in places like Havana". She said she knew, because her father-in-law had just spent three months there. When we finally parted company, the Coasties told us to have fun in Cuba - and to call them if we had boat problems. Stunned, we asked them if the Cuban government allowed the Coast Guard into Cuban waters. The Coasties told us they entered Cuban waters all the time - with Cuba's permission - to come to the aid of recreational mariners.
So here's the deal. It's perfectly legal to take your boat to Cuba. In fact, one of the crew from our trip has since returned to Cuba with his boat many times. It is, however, considered to be 'trading with the enemy' if you pay money to travel there or if you spend money there. Everybody knows the prohibition on American's spending money in Cuba is a joke, because there is nobody there to catch them. One or two folks who have made a big deal about spending money in Cuba have been threatened by the U.S. government, but they haven't done anything. If you take a plane from Canada, Mexico or the Bahamas to Cuba, you can also get in hot water. However, Cuban Immigration will usually grant your request to stamp a white piece of paper instead of your passport, so U.S. Immigration won't be the wiser that you've been naughty and gone to Cuba. We have some friends who flew in and out of Cuba from the Bahamas, and inadvertently let the Cubans stamp their passports. When they got to U.S. Immigration back in the States, the Cuban stamp was noticed. They were taken to a room and sternly warned that if they got caught doing it again, they'd be prosecuted.
Bottom line, it's perfectly legal to take your own boat to Cuba, but it's illegal to spend U.S. dollars to get there and while you are there. By the way, U.S. dollars are the only thing Cubans want. Just don't expect to be the only American in Cuba. Hundreds of thousands of Americans visit legally and illegally each year, and Hemingway Marina is loaded with American-flagged vessels.
Visitors to Cuba have different reactions.
Some think Cuba is primarily a victim of the United States. We,
on the other hand, saw it as a giant slave plantation overseen
by a megalomanic whose several good ideas had been completely
overwhelmed by his colossal blunders. Worse still, his monumental
pride has prevented him from admitting his mistakes, completely
ruining the lives of more than 10 million people. If anyone thinks
capitalism sucks - and some aspects certainly do - they should
visit Cuba and check out an iron-fisted dictatorship. Viva la
In the April issue, someone refers to yachties - yachtsmen/women - as boaters. A 'boater' is a straw hat to cover dumb heads.
Later in the issue, some literary genius refers to 'Ugly Americans'. Does that dummy know where that expression came from? I wager no! It was a movie about hustlers that went to Europe to scam the countries after World War II. I resent Americans being called ugly, even if they are ill-mannered. They are just ugly, period! Ever see an ugly German, Frenchman or any European - no. They are just plain ugly. So, shut up you illiterate moron!
Stan 'Hambone' Lieberman
Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico
Hambone - Whatsa matter, you sit on a cactus or something? 'Boating' or 'boaters' have never been our favorite nautical terms, but they are so commonly used in magazine titles and trade associations that we're surprised you've gotten so worked up about them.
As for the "literary moron"
crack about the Ugly American, you've got to be pulling our leg
pretending not to know William Lederer and Eugene Burdick's great
1958 novel of the same name that so graphically outlined the diplomatic
blunders America was making in Southeast Asia. The book's well-defined
themes and characters have made it a popular high school and college
text ever since.
WHAT ABOUT CORPORATE RIGHTS?
In your tirade against West Marine's no-smoking policy, you state "what we can't understand is that most state and all federal courts permit companies to intrude in the personal lives of their employees". Then you lament "where is the America (sic) Civil Liberties Union hiding?" Then you launch into a far-fetched analogy of Hitler's Third Reich.
My first reaction is to thank God that the Federal Government has chosen not to interfere, at least in this instance, with the rights of private companies to dictate what they, the private company, feels is a significant health hazard to their employees. No individual has a right to demand employment by anyone else, and if you don't like the company's policies, go somewhere else.
The most intrusive agency in the world - that's a big one - is the United States Government. We are the country which locks up its citizens to keep them from hurting themselves. If you can't equate with this, you need look no further than the G.D. U.S. Coast Guard, the people who tear your boat apart for a 'safety inspection' and tell you to go to hell. If you resist, they throw you in jail. Or try Ruby Ridge, the Branch Davidian massacre, or the Bay Conservation and Development Commission. Do you want to expand the authority of these people?
As for the ACLU, when have they ever supported any group of citizens against the government. They only support anarchy by high-profile individuals, they never take on the Coast Guard or FBI.
Please stick with what you do best, reporting on boating issues. No more sextants you say? I don't want to be on your boat when you drop your GPS in the drink.
Frank - Please don't use the word 'boating', it gets Hambone hotter than a chili pepper down in Guaymas.
What's the big deal if we dropped our GPS in the drink? We'd just go into the salon where we have two backups and lots of batteries. On the other hand, what would you do if you dropped your sextant over the side? Or if it got foggy?
With regard to employers being able to dictate what their employees can and cannot do on their own time, can we presume it would be fine with you if IBM prohibited employees from having a glass of beer on weekends because a certain percentage of them are susceptible to alcoholism? If McDonalds didn't allow their employees to eat meat because it's bad for their hearts? If General Motors refused employment to gays or blacks because they have shorter life expectancies than straights and Caucasians? Or if your employer didn't allow you to sail because sunlight promotes skin cancer? Certainly there are situations in which employers have a legitimate right to set limits on the off-hour personal behavior of their workers - nobody, for instance, wants the pilots of 747s slamming tequila shooters until an hour before takeoff - but we think individual rights should normally trump corporate rights.
HOW TO PHONE THE COAST GUARD
With increasing numbers of mariners using cell phones to "call the Coast Guard," the following might be very useful information:
The phone number of the San Francisco Search and Rescue Coast Guard unit is (415) 556-2103. They cover the Bay Area, the Delta, and as far south as Pt. Sur. South of that, the corresponding phone number for the Long Beach Search and Rescue Coast Guard unit is (310) 732-2043. These are the main points of contact who will then communicate with the closest Coast Guard station - e.g., Rio Vista - for action and status. Mariners should have these numbers handy, as they are unlisted. The folks at 411/Information usually give the number for a business or recruiting office. Calling 911 just leads to delays as they try to find the above numbers in their references - and then they have you call the Coast Guard anyway. Cell phones are not the only communication tool - spotty coverage, especially down the coast, is a problem - but they can be a big help.
By the way, the Coast Guard does a super job with their rescue attempts. Your vivid Crash Course story in the July issue was a reminder of this dedication.
Cal 34, Impetuous
Encinal YC Coastal Cup Race Committee
NOW THAT'S CRUISING
This Bay sailing is not as easy as one might think. This short story about my recent experience trying to get out the Gate might be entertaining and educational. The names are changed to avoid total embarrassment.
As is often the case, I was going to be singlehanding out of Berkeley. In preparation for my sail, I stowed the food and water, checked the tides, double-reefed the main, and hanked on a new eight-ounce storm jib. Reduced sail is the only conceivable way of my getting to the bridge. Anyway, after about four hours of tacking, I made it to the east side of the beautiful span.
I had never sailed into the small marina next to the North Tower, but some friends had said it was easy to get in and out of. As I was sailing in, I realized how desperate I'd become to use my Porta Potti. So I quickly lowered the sails and set the anchor. Fortunately, it held. But I was still in a rush, as using the Porta Potti on my boat requires that a small box be moved out of the way, a small door be propped up, the lid lifted and all that. In addition, I had to get out of some of my clothing. Having been in such a rush, I hadn't closed the companionway door or the hatch. As I was working on my business, I heard somebody shout "Hi!" I can only assume it was someone up on the Visitors Area of the bridge who was using one of the telescopes and had a good sight angle. I could ignore them.
A few minutes later, three or four Coasties came into the harbor aboard one of their inflatable boats. They wanted to know if I had a problem, and if I knew that I couldn't anchor there. Fortunately, I had done my business legally, and was suited up again and ready to raise the main. So I picked up my anchor and set sail to the far side of the bridge. I eventually raced the Hawaiian Chieftain - and beat them - downwind through Raccoon Strait and back over the flat waters my boat knows so well. That's cruising!
J Dock, Berkeley
A - We completely understand the pleasure
you get out of your singlehanding in the Bay. When we had our
first Olson 30, we frequently used to 'race' our best time from
Sausalito, around Angel Island, and back to Sausalito. We took
a lot of pleasure in sailing the same course over and over, trying
to do a better job each time, and enjoying how the conditions
changed with the days. If your regular route is from Berkeley
to the bridge and back, you've got all kinds of great options
depending on the wind and current - and you get to finish sailing
downwind. Thank you're lucky stars you're not sailing off a featureless
coast such as Marina del Rey.
TOOK THEIR BOAT ACROSS TEHUANTEPEC BY TRAIN
In the July issue, Fred De Lance wondered about transporting his boat by train from the Pacific across Mexico's Isthmus of Tehuantepec to the Caribbean. The editor said Latitude knew a couple who did it.
I wonder if the couple were Robert and Linda Smith, my friends from Tradewinds Marina in San Rafael, who did just that with Mata Hari, their 30-foot Chinese junk. They even stopped along the way to give birth to their son. As I remember, they left in 1980 or thereabouts, and arrived in Tehuantepec a couple of months later. They, too, had troubles with the makeshift cradle aboard the flatcar. It was especially annoying, because they stayed aboard their boat for the entire crossing. But they made it in fine fettle, newborn babe and all.
Once they got to Campeche, they hired a crane to put them back in the water. From there they had a pleasant sail down the coast of Quintana Roo to the Rio Santa Elena, where they were welcomed by the Mexican Navy, which escorted them across the river to the Belize border. They spent a year or so cruising the offshore cays as far south as Livingston, Guatemala, and up the Rio Dulce to Lake Izabal. I accompanied them on some of these trips and found the cruising delightful, which encouraged me to settle in Belize City for several years. During that time, I had a Piver-designed trimaran built.
Linda eventually returned home, but Robert stayed on, developing a steady charter trade based in the upscale tourist resort of San Pedro on Ambergris Cay. As far as I know he is still there. You can write to him at: 1 Barrier Reef Drive, San Pedro, Ambergris Cay, Belize.
Another possibility De Lance may want to consider is across Nicaragua, by way of Lake Nicaragua and the Rio San Juan River that flows down to the Caribbean. I'm surprised the editor who wrote the response didn't mention it, since a very detailed article on that passage was published in Latitude in the last year or so. As I remember, it involved a rather small trailerable, shallow draft vessel, which the owner had trucked from a Pacific coast seaboard up to the lake, made the crossing, then descended the river with the help of a local guide. This, rather than Panama, was the route initially chosen for the trans-Isthmian canal. There was no mention of the subsequent voyage down the coast, so one may assume that it was uneventful.
I think you will find Belize to be both incredibly attractive and incredibly infuriating - but always interesting. I spent most of my time there on Caye Caulker, one of the small islands that litter the offshore reef. The people were friendly, the diving excellent, and the police and immigration authorities abominable. Anyone who would like to hear more about my stay there, and the excruciating torture I suffered trying to get my boat built, may write to me at: 1001 Bridgeway, PMB 916, Sausalito, CA, 94965.
P. Thorvald Chase
Anchored-out off Sausalito
P. - The folks we know who took their boat across the Isthmus of Mexico by train were not Robert and Linda Smith, and they certainly didn't have a baby on the way. And if we remember correctly, their boat was only about 28 feet. But they did make it.
Perhaps you misread the article by the crew of Miki G., who a year or two ago went to Lake Nicaragua and hired a guide to try to take them down the Rio San Juan to the Caribbean. Although British and Spanish ships once held naval battles on the river, and it was a preferred way for 49ers to get to the Pacific, they found that it's only a foot or two deep in some places and therefore no longer navigable.
When you say that the Immigration authorities
in Belize are abominable, you're not kidding. It's a well-known
fact that anybody on the run from the IRS - or anybody else -
can quickly buy citizenship for $50,000 and not have to worry
about extradition. Belize - which has bitter land disputes with
Guatemala - is the size of Massachusetts and has a population
of just 275,000.
I WISH LATITUDE'S EDITOR WERE RUNNING THINGS
As a long term anchor-out - I have lived in, on, and around the Bay since 1967 - I read your July article on anchor-outs with great interest. It was one of the very few pieces on the subject that was accurate, factual, and well-reasoned. The editor's suggested solutions were right on, so much so that I wish he were running things around here - instead of the dim-witted dipsticks who are. There is one exception: Bill Price, the current Harbor Administrator, has been a godsend. He has somehow managed to satisfy his employers without betraying the interests of the anchor-outs. I have found him to be consistently fair, even-handed, and often sympathetic and helpful to those of us who, for whatever reason, find ourselves in his purview.
Some years ago, when things were getting really nasty around here, I was inspired to write the enclosed poem, which I believe sums up the attitude of many anchor-outs. I believe it is timely and pertinent. I am aware of your long-standing bias against publishing poetry, but perhaps it is time you made an exception. If you decide to use it, you may edit it in any fashion you see fit, even alter the lines to make it look like a prose piece.
Look What They've Done to My Bay, Ma
"I've labored long and hard for bread,
For honor, not for riches,
But on my toes too long you've tread,
You fine-haired sons of bitches!"
Who's that rockin' on my boat?
Who's that knockin' on my door?
With his three-piece suit, in his hand a writ,
He's about as welcome as homemade s--t.
What makes him think he's to say
Who can or can't live on the bay?
Where to crap or where to whiz -
Who the f-- k does he think he is?
Not even God Almighty comes on so heity-teity.
You give a man a badge and a gun
And next thing you know, you're on the run.
It's time to remind him, with a 2x4,
Just who he's supposed to be working for.
What's this jive about 'the public trust'?
What am I, a speck of dust,
A motley mote in the developers' eyes,
A nuisance to be "abated" by a chorus of "ayes"?
If they have their way, they'll sell us down the river
To make room for the developers' greedy endeavor.
They'll swallow the waterfront and abate our boats
And build cute little condos on ferro-cement floats,
And boardwalks and boutiques disguised as cabooses,
And have the gall to call them "water-oriented uses".
But what of the community, the way of life,
That was here before they came with a knife
And cut out its heart and left it to bleed
And trampled its corpse to gratify their greed?
What of the houseboaters, last of a breed,
Who have no use for mortgage or deed,
Who live by their wits or the craft of their hands,
Where will you banish them, to what alien lands?
Or do you think when their boats are "abated"
They'll vanish into the air - evaporated?
In their zeal to protect the public trust
They forget one thing: the public is us.
They'd sell out our birthright for a pot of message
And have us believe it's a benison and blessage.
Well, I didn't just fall off the turnip truck,
So they can all go and take a flying f--k!
Like that other dissenter, Olaf, I solemnly repeat:
"There is some s--t I will not eat!"
Bart - Given the stunning recent developments
in Richardson Bay - see elsewhere in this issue - it looks as
though you won't be having to eat poop for awhile.
In the July issue, Bernard Barden wondered where the schooner Cubuf is located. Here are the details. She's now owned by Wayne Bonde, who grew up in Pleasanton, has sailed the Bay since he was young, and is now a rancher in Fallon, Nevada. Wayne had known the previous owners for quite some time, and eventually bought her. He then had her trucked to Fallon. It gets very hot in Fallon, and the humidity is 5 to 10%, so I asked Wayne how long Cubuf sat on the ranch before he could see through the hull. "Not very long," he said, so the struggle to keep the hull and deck humidified was underway.
After the boat's restoration was completed, she was hauled up to Lake Tahoe. Once in the water, it took several weeks for the wood to expand, and Wayne had to constantly run several pumps. Cubuf's new homeport is Tahoe Keys Marina, South Lake Tahoe. She is a surprising sight, a gorgeous, classic 1931 schooner that had been built in Virginia, completely surrounded by hi-tech plastic boats. Wayne loves to show the boat, and also charters her through the Tahoe Schooner Company at (530) 542-2217 or tahoeschooner at webtv.net.
Cubuf has an interesting history, and one of her bulkheads is covered with plaques documenting many of her accomplishments. By the way, the proper pronunciation is Cub, as in bear cub, and uf, as in buff. The last time I spoke to Wayne, he thought Latitude 38 was going to visit and do a short story about the schooner.
Sierra Sail & Rigging
Ric - Thanks for the info. We still plan on doing a story on the boat, but we'll have to wait until the busy summer sailing season tails off just a little.
PIVER AND THE ATLANTIC
In the July issue, Rose Wager wanted to know if Arthur Piver of Mill Valley - the father of the trimaran movement in the United States - ever singlehanded across the Atlantic. As far as I know, he didn't. Having been delayed in the Azores en route, when he finally showed up in Plymouth, England, in 1960 for the start of the first Singlehanded TransAtlantic Race, the race had left without him.
Regarding the editor's note to Ms. Wager's letter, it was the 30-ft Nimble that Piver sailed across the Atlantic. The 35-ft Lodestar, built a few months later, was sailed to Hawaii in '61 and the South Pacific in '62.
DOCUMENTATION WON'T FREE YOU FROM TAXES
I need some reliable information regarding
offshore deliveries and U.S. Coast Guard vessel documentation.
I'm buying my partner out of the boat, which to the banks makes
it look as though I'm buying a new boat - in which case I'd have
to pay sales tax as though I didn't already own half the boat.
I've been told that offshore delivery and/or Coast Guard documentation
would solve the problem.
Namesless - If you already own half the boat, there must be some way where you don't have to pay tax on your half of the boat all over again. If you don't, offshore delivery will solve your problem - although there's considerable time and expense involved. Call the State Board of Equalization in Sacramento for details. Getting your boat documented by the Coast Guard rather than registering her with the state doesn't have any affect on sales or personal property tax.
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