Back to "Letters" Index


We understand we needed rat guards for dock lines, but snake guards?
We were walking back to our boat one day at Paradise Village Marina just north of Puerto Vallarta, when my neighbor asked, "What should we do about snakes on the dock lines?" I thought he was playing a joke on me with a fake snake. But we both watched it for a couple of minutes - until it moved its head and stuck out its tongue. It was real, all right!

Sixty new docks are being constructed at Paradise Village Marina, so apparently the snakes are being displaced from their homes. So they go into the water and then slither up the pilings and onto the docks. From there they go to the dock lines. There have also been cases of people finding iguanas on their boats. It's fine with us - as long as the crocodiles don't get so friendly.

Rick and Liz Strand
Sarah Elizabeth, Ericson 37
Paradise Village / Sonoma


I would like to thank fellow windsurfer Steve Yong and the singlehanded skipper of Daffodil for their time and trouble in assisting me on a Sunday afternoon earlier this summer. After a sail around Angel Island and out the Gate, I took several 'precautionary' falls while sailing downwind in overpowered conditions while returning to the beach at the St. Francis YC. At about 4 pm, while water-starting off Fort Point, I heard yelling and looked up just in time to push myself aside from the bow of a sailboat charging downwind. After a tumble in the bow wave and a glancing impact with the hull, I surfaced to see at least two crewmembers watching me recede in their wake. As I sat on my board, I wondered how long it would take them to round up and beat back to my location. Apparently, it took them a very long time. Or maybe they figured they didn't need to bother, as I probably couldn't read the name on their transom - which turned out to be correct.

I was unhurt and my board was fine - but my mast was in three pieces. After 21 years of windsurfing this busy stretch of water, I consider myself lucky that this was my first incident, and that the loss was only financial. I don't fault the skipper of the sailboat for not seeing me in time, but if they don't know how to sail upwind, how did they get out the Gate in the first place?

John Richards
Latitude Reader of 20 Years
Palo Alto

John - No matter if someone is operating a car or a boat, there's no excuse for a hit and run. Given your version of the incident, the only possible explanation we can think of for the skipper's behavior is that the wind was so strong - you, a two decade vet admit that you were overpowered - that he didn't feel capable of safely heading back, and that he saw other vessels coming to your rescue. It would still strike us as pretty lame, and in any event we hope he/she alerted the Coast Guard.

A few sailors seem to have a problem with boardsailors zipping around. Not us. We think it's a big Bay, and that with just the slightest cooperation on the part of everyone, there's plenty of room for sailboats, outrigger canoes, kayaks, swimmmers, sailboards, dinghies, fishing boats and big ships. We love you all.


My wife Jane woke up at 1:30 a.m. and said, "Did you hear that?"
I had heard something, so I put on my smoking jacket and went into the salon to investigate. I turned on the salon lights and there it was - a raccoon sitting on top of the lampshade! It jumped - and so did I! Jane stood by the door ready to scream. I wasn't sure what to do, so I called the Ventura Harbor Patrol. They explained the situation was out of their jurisdiction.

So I went down the dock to wake up Lisa and Greg Collier on Panacea. I needed their dock card so I could wake up the only guy I knew who could get the varmint out of our boat: Monty the rigger. Monty said he'd been in Ventura Harbor for 14 years but had never seen anything like it. He went and got a fish (raccoon) net from storage, and we returned to the boat. Between Monty, Greg and Lisa Collier, Jane, myself, a boat hook, a line, and a fish net, we finally managed to get Mr. Raccoon off the boat.

Chris Lloyd
Spectras, 41-ft cat
San Francisco

Chris - As the Wanderer was raising the sail aboard Profligate on August 11, a mouse/rat tumbled out of the folds of the main! He hadn't been there two days before. After scampering around the cabin top in a total panic, the rat jumped four feet down to the deck, then made a flying leap overboard. When the Wanderer looked over the side, he was touched by the sight of the varmint valiantly swimming for survival in the icy waters of the Bay. Hoping to score some big 'karma points', the Wanderer initiated perhaps the world's first 'rat overboard' rescue. Once the rat was recovered, Peter Costello of Santa Cruz used two plastic buckets and some duct tape to create a 'varmint jail' on the cat's back porch. But sometime during the course of the afternoon sail, the little bugger miraculously escaped! He was last seen scampering around the porch, and is believed to have jumped overboard again.


The other day we saw our first Latitude in a long time - because we just returned from a 10-year circumnavigation. We saw a note about West Coast circumnavigators, and since we qualify, here are some details:

We sailed under the Golden Gate from Alameda in April 1991 aboard Sanctuary, our 1975 Valiant 40. Instead of immediately heading south, we turned right and spent from April until September going north. We slowly made our way to Desolation Sound, where we decided we didn't want to winter in British Columbia, so we headed south and celebrated Christmas of '91 in Turtle Bay, Baja. From then on, one thing led to another, and our 'east about' route eventually included all of Central America, the Panama Canal, San Blas Islands, Columbia, up to the Yucatan, Texas, Florida, across the Atlantic to the Azores, and then on to Ireland. From there, we followed a winding path into the Med, parts of Europe and North Africa, the Middle East, down the Red Sea, over to Southeast Asia via India, then back to the USA from Japan via the Aleutians. We spent the winter of 2000 at Yakutat, Alaska, and sailed down the Inside Passage this spring.

Having sailed to 40 countries, we crossed our track at Lund, British Columbia, completing the circle on June 29. It was 10 years and two months after we'd set out. Sanctuary is now in Shilshole Marina, Seattle. We are thankful to have had this adventure/cruise/voyage of a lifetime.

Jim and Lyn Foley
Sanctuary, Valiant 40


Thanks for your June Sightings on the new Jack London Aquatic Center on the Oakland Estuary. The JLAC is a nonprofit organization that had put together the funding and construction of the facility. It took over eight years. The center was funded by individual and corporate donors, the Port of Oakland, City of Oakland, the Waterfront Hotel, with BCDC, and the California Department of Boating and Waterways.

After our grand opening last October, the Oakland Department of Parks & Recreation - much to our surprise - attempted to take over the programs and operations. They have failed to make anything happen in the last nine months, and we expect to regain control of the center by October. At that point, we will have another grand opening.

Franz Steiner, AIA
Sr. Vice President

Franz - We wish you luck, as government agencies have a sketchy record when it comes to operating boating facilities. In Hawaii, for example, the private Waikiki YC believes it can put in 150 brand new berths in five months at a cost of $1,000,000. The state of Hawaii figures it would cost them $14 million just to upgrade the 600 inferior docks at the Ala Wai.


A few months ago you incorrectly reported the fees for berthing at the San Diego Bay Harbor Police Visitor's Dock. As of over a year ago, the fees were doubled to $10/day for the first five days, and $20/day for the second five. According to a source who works at the docks, the fee was only going to be increased to $7.50 and $15, but they thought that it would be too much of a hassle making change.

Your survey also failed to mention the California Marina in Chula Vista. In my opinion, it's a nice and friendly marina with an accommodating staff, and a little less expensive than some other places.

Tom Emery
Hillary Brooke
San Diego

Tom - You're absolutely right, the Harbor Patrol doubled the prices for the Visitor's Dock last year. What fooled us is that as of August 15, they still had the old prices posted on their otherwise excellent website.


I would like to acknowledge the kind words written about me by Scott of Ebby that appeared in the June 11 'Lectronic Latitude with regard to May's Sea of Cortez Sailing Week. I would also like to acknowledge that much of the credit for the fun-filled event belongs to Pepe and Sue of Melissa, who did the immense amount of organizational work that was needed for the event to happen.

Pepe and Sue - veterans of many Sea of Cortez Sailing Weeks - fully expected to continue running the event at Partidaville, but had to bail after Melissa developed last-minute engine problems. I learned about this when it was announced over the VHF for all to hear that: 1) Pepe and Sue weren't going to be able to come out to the islands, and 2) that I was to be in charge of the event! Unexpected? You could have bowled me over with a feather.
But thanks to all of Pepe and Sue's preparations, the program for the week had been set, and chairpersons were already in place for each of the events. Folks pitched in to cover the few remaining gaps, and had a lot of fun in the process. Special thanks are also due Gary of Ishi for donating the use of his sound system, and for the gift of his special brand of gentle music. I'm not sure who owned them, but I also want to thank the owners of the three generators that appeared on the beach as if by magic to power the lights and sound system. I don't want to forget Scott of Paradise Found Cafe, who had secured the loan of tents and tables and chairs from Tecate Beer, and who kept the beer and drinks flowing. Dave of Magic Carpet Ride was the honcho for the on-site erection crew, which included Scott of Ebby and Mike of Sea Goose - and many others whose names I regret to admit I can't remember. The captain and crew of Sequester are also to be thanked for transporting the heavy stuff to the island.

There were a couple of humorous boo-boos during the Week. Tom of La Casita gave everyone information on the tides. But after pushing the wrong buttons on his depthsounder - and believing the results - found his boat aground the next morning. He accepted his mistake in good humor. And there were the skippers who learned about anchor security, when the howling winds of Wednesday night caused their boats to drag through the anchorage. The same wind picked up several tents on the beach and turned them upside down. The next day the beach was stormed by a second erection crew, who somehow got everything back up for that afternoon. Wow!

Thank you everyone, and thank you Pepe and Melissa.

Marilyn Bruner
Fantaseas, Morgan 462
La Paz

Marilyn - Our apologies for not running your letter when you sent it, as the first copy disappeared into cyberspace. We'd still love to know the basics of Sea of Cortez Sailing Week. How many boats, what activities, who won if there was any sailboat racing - that kind of thing. We're told something had been posted at, but we haven't even been able to pull the site up.


I don't want to be a wet blanket, but I'm curious how Two Guys On The Edge could have won their division in the TransPac when they received outside assistance - Bay Wolf's headfoil - after the preparatory signal? Maybe I've got my facts wrong, but isn't there some kind of penalty? If so, it wasn't reflected in the results.

It vaguely reminds me of a TransPac more than 20 years ago, when one of the boats floated some water jugs over to another boat. Mark Spitz, the great Olympic swimmer, was nearby on his own boat and wasn't sure what to think. That is until one of the crewmembers on the boat receiving the water made a religious slur about the name of Spitz's boat over the VHF - not realizing that Spitz was listening.

When Spitz arrived in Honolulu, he reported the goings on to the TransPac Committee. The Committee dispatched Ben Mitchell to the boat that had received the water and whose crew had uttered the slur. Mitchell told the skipper that it would be in his best interest, as well as that of the TransPac, if he dropped out before he was disqualified. He withdrew. But whether it was because of the outside assistance or the name calling is something that seems to have been forgotten in the long and colorful history of the TransPac.

Name Withheld By Request

N.W.B.R. - Latitude's Racing Editor had the same question, and was told that if nobody protested the boat - and nobody did - it was a non-issue. Technically, that doesn't seem right to us - but we can think of several reasons why Two Guys might not have been chucked. First, despite losing time while accepting the 'outside assistance', Two Guys nonetheless beat the second and third place boats by huge margins. Second, the TransPac had already bent their rules a little - accomodating late entries and such - so this wasn't really that different.


Years ago, we decided to have just one credit card. We chose American Express because we had heard that it was the best one for abroad. Of course, we see numerous Visa ads trying to convince us otherwise. In the opinion of your readers, is any one card more universally accepted than others? We're talking about places such as Europe, Asia and Australia.

Margaret Weller and Conrad Hodson

Margaret & Conrad - While waiting for readers to respond, we'll give you our two-cent's worth. We'd put Visa in first place, because during our travels we've never found a place that took credit cards that didn't take Visa. We'd put MasterCard in second, because some European businesses only accept European MasterCards and not American ones. If you read this month's Changes, you'll also discover that MasterCard is not as widely accepted as Visa in Central America. While there are certain advantages to American Express cards - platinum holders are potentially eligible for free flights home if they become ill - they aren't accepted at many places that do accept Visa and MasterCard. Therefore, they'd be a distant third in our book.

Our two nieces just returned from three months in Asia and Indonesia, and report that there were ATMs all over Thailand and Bali, but there are only four ATMs in all of North Viet Nam - none of which worked. They didn't see any ATMs in Laos or Cambodia, and didn't find any businesses that accepted credit cards. Of course, they were staying in places that charged just $5 a night for four people, so they might not have been in the right places.
Keeping things simple is a good way to go, but we think just one credit card is too simple. We suggest having a primary credit card, but also a second that's only to be used if the primary is lost or stolen. It also goes without saying that you don't want to carry a high interest balance on any credit card.


Last September, Tina Christine tried to give something back to the cruising fraternity by organizing a 'fuel-athon' for southbound boats in San Diego. During the first day, over 30 boats took on more than 3,700 gallons of fuel - at approximately 60 cents/gallon below the 200 gallon rate.

If there is sufficient interest, I would like to do it again this year. I would likely extend the fueling period to two days and would like to be able to commit to over 5,000 gallons in the "tendering request". This will ensure the lowest possible pricing again this year. Last year, I provided all suppliers with the same parameters and asked them to submit their best price for diesel and gasoline/other miscellaneous products, and they all responded. I will be following the same procedure this year.

How can Latitude 38 help? Let folks know that Tina Christine will organize a fuel-athon again this year. It will likely be on October 25, so all boats should arrive light on fuel and then listen on our hailing channel and to the Downwind Net in San Diego on 68 at 0830. It would also be nice if you could let the folks at the Ha-Ha know.

Folks who are interested can email me at tina-christine2000 at

Christopher Paton-Gay
SV Tina Christine
San Diego/Sidney, BC, Canada

Christopher - It sounds like a great idea, and the October 25 date would be good for Ha-Ha boats that will be leaving San Diego on October 30. We'll show up with empty tanks and a camera.


I missed Latitude's earlier request for information on West Coast circumnavigators. I've got two.

First, Mike Kane of Newport Beach, did a circumnavigation from '68 to '69 aboard his 45-foot Piver.

Second, my wife Meta and I, along with our partner Dennis Fontany did a circumnavigation from '64 to '66 aboard Cetacean, a 32.5 Piver Herald trimaran that we built in Port Hueneme from '64 to '66. We left Marina del Rey in '67 and made stops at Mexico, the Marquesas, Cooks, American Samoa, Western Samoa, Fiji, what's now Vanuatu, what's now Irian Gaya, what's now Indonesia, Christmas Island, Cocos-Keeling, the Seychelles, what's now Mozambique, South Africa, St. Helena, Panama, Costa Rica, and the Galapagos. We arrived back in the Channel Islands in June of '70.

Clark Barthol
Marine Surveyor
Marina del Rey

Clark - Thanks for the information. Since Mike Kane was arguably the first to have done a circumnavigation with a multihull, you folks can't have been too much further down the line. Your letter will also give heart to folks interested in ocean passages in relatively small multihulls - no matter what we've said.


It's 0315, and I've just finished both my dinner and the last Latitude. Excellent! I was also given new hope, thanks to your mention that Stephen Faustina, formerly a police officer for the city of Oakland, has broken free and is sailing around the world. Reading about him means that when I retire in 16 months - after being a detective in Southern California for 22 years - we too will take off for the South Pacific and the world aboard Tricia Too, our Peterson 46.

But I have a question: How do other ex-police officers who are now out cruising feel about carrying guns? Having carried a weapon for all of my working life, and having always kept a weapon on our boat, I would like to hear their viewpoints on the question of cruising with or without a firearm, declared or not. I'd also like to know if, when dealing with other countries, they identify themselves as retired law enforcement officers.

As I finish this, I return to our cold sewer, to stand in sewer sludge up to my knees, as we continue to stake out a house we felt was going to have a big drug transaction. As yet, it hasn't occurred. What a glamorous life!

Loren Simpson
Long Beach

Loren - We have a feature article on Faustina in this issue, and didn't neglect to ask him whether he cruises with weapons.


I disagree with Latitude and think that offshore sailors should know celestial navigation and that carrying a sextant should be mandatory cruising equipment. My belief is based on 35 years of experience in national security-related positions, a third of them with the CIA, the rest in the 'military-industrial complex'.

Most cruisers like to consider themselves citizens of the world, free spirits, and non-political. Unfortunately, when you're depending on government-provided and maintained equipment - such as GPS satellites and wireless communications systems - you also assume the same risks and vulnerabilities as our government. The days of the Cold War may have ended, but there are still more than 40 countries that would like to see the American way of life come to an end. You just need to read the papers to realize how volatile the world remains.

The next wars or conflicts will be for information superiority and exploitation of technology, so the new battlefields will be for information. As such, do you think that during such crises - which are sure to happen - that the U.S. government will continue transmitting GPS information that can be used by its enemies? Even if they do, don't you think anti-U.S. terrorist organizations and unfriendly countries will jam, hack or destroy these communications and GPS satellites in order to disrupt our information capabilities? Do not underestimate the capabilities these groups have. It's not just GPS satellites that will be in jeopardy, but practically any wireless communications device or system.
Being a realist, I would not go offshore depending on any electronic device for my safety or for the safety of my crew - particularly those devices controlled by the government. I will also always have a back-up system available. In this case, it would be a sextant and the skills to use it. I hope I'm wrong and that peaceful solutions can be found for all our country's conflicts, and that our communications and GPS satellites will keep on humming. Unfortunately, I believe history will prove that I'm right.

Randy Hasness
Wauquiez 33

Randy - There's certainly nothing wrong with knowing celestial navigation and having a sextant aboard, but it makes us wonder if you keep a stable of horses in case OPEC turns off the oil spigot and renders your car useless. Both are possibilities, of course, but how likely are they? And how good a substitute is a sextant for GPS?

We think the possibility of GPS being turned off or knocked out is relatively slight. But even if it were knocked out, it's hardly the end of the world. In fact, how is it going to be any different than if a mariner with a sextant and celestial skills was faced with cloudy skies or fog? If you're playing percentages, it's thousands of times more probable that the 'sextant system' will be knocked out rather than the GPS system.

And as is the case when a celestial navigator is faced with overcast skies, the lack of GPS shouldn't leave even a novice navigator helpless. We took our Freya 39 to Mexico four times and relied entirely on plotting our speed and course every half hour - the old time dead-reckoning. We never had a problem. When we sailed Big O from Antigua to Venezuela, and then later to Trinidad, it was also done by DR - although we used our radar and depthsounder to confirm our positions.

One of the potentially most dangerous landfalls we've ever made was at the end of a 1,000-mile downwind passage from Antigua to the low-lying San Blas Islands of Panama. Had our GPS gone out, we would have relied on dead-reckoning until it was daylight and clear before approaching those perilous reefs. Which is exactly the same thing a celestial navigator would have had to do in the same situation, because as usual, it was raining like crazy and there were no stars to shoot.

Sure, we can imagine some situations in which the knowledge of celestial navigation would be helpful - but not many. And in any event, it wouldn't guarantee there are clear skies. We don't think it's silly to carry a sextant, but we don't think it should be mandatory.


I was amazed there was no response in your July issue as to the need of never needing more than four volumes of the Nautical Almanac for celestial navigation. The subject is exhausted in Hewitt Schlereth's, The Cruising Navigator, 4v., published by Seven Seas Press in 1983 (ISBN 0-915160-54-4). I doubt that many owners of this set want to sell them, but perhaps their heirs will put them on the market.

'Alaska Dave' Chamberlin
No Tie


I've acquired an EBBCO sextant in good physical condition with case and owner's manual. However, the sun filters are shot as the filtering material is flaking off. The manual says that spares can be ordered from East Berks Boat Co Wargrave, Berkshire, England. But all I can find in East Berks is a wedding service - which is something I don't need. Any help in getting replacement filters would be appreciated. I'm trying to wean myself from my GPS.

West Coast

Mike - EBBCO is still in business and makes two models of sextants. You can contact them at 0491-573390. They are located on Wargrave Road, Henley on Thames, RG937JD.

Your desire to "wean yourself from GPS" reminds us of when Larry Rodamer and Betty Ann Moore - Latitude's 'Innocents Aboard' - didn't want to take a VHF when they went cruising aboard Robin Graham's old Allied 33 Dove in the early '80s. The couple explained that not having a VHF would make their cruising experience "purer". That lasted all the way to Cabo San Lucas, and only that long because there is no place to buy a VHF between Ensenada and Cabo. We'll be interested to hear how your weaning goes.


It was with interest that I read the July article about the loss of Roam - which was apparently driven ashore on autopilot by mistake - because I try to learn from how others react to adverse situations. But when I came to the end of the story, I was shocked to read that the owner of the boat stated that if he could change things, he would have had a "$200 plotter" aboard. What about an up-to-date paper chart? Or dividers or parallel rules? It seems as though the use of electronics has skewed our thinking. Blackouts don't only happen on shore, they can happen aboard a boat, too. What good would all the electronic gadgetry be worth then?

A few months ago, I read another Sightings about a family bringing their boat south along the coast from the Pacific Northwest. That's quite an undertaking. During that trip they had some problems and needed to take shelter in one of the small inlets along the coast, so they called the Coast Guard for the waypoint coordinates of the inlet closest to them. They stated in the article that they informed the Coast Guard they weren't in trouble, but just needed the GPS coordinates. Didn't they have a chart? Didn't they know how to plot a simple course? Didn't they know how to determine the coordinates from the chart?
I'm bothered more and more by all these people who load up there boats with all the latest electronic gadgetry, yet don't seem to know the basics of navigation. I don't worry so much about the danger they put themselves in, but the danger they put their rescuers in.

Steve Hersey
San Diego

Steve - While we would feel comfortable going cruising offshore without a sextant, we'd never like to go anywhere without a set of paper charts. One black night we had to charge through the coastal waters of Costa Rica without the proper charts in order to get our daughter to a hospital, and it made an already tense situation doubly so.

There is a good reason, however, for requesting the GPS coordinates of a place as opposed to just taking them off a chart. Very simply, the charts aren't as accurate - there are many points along the coast that are mischarted by a half mile or more - as GPS coordinates provided by someone who has ready been there with a GPS. This is why almost all the new cruising guides have chartlets complete with at least one GPS reference point, and long lists of GPS positions for waypoints or most popular anchorages. As the crew of Roam learned, you can't use these blindly, because there may be land or a reef in a direct line to the waypoint. But GPS coordinates are a legitimate aid to navigation.


I'm a rather tall fellow who is having trouble finding a boat that has adequate headroom. I'm not looking for much, just something under 40 feet that has more than 6'5" of headroom - and sleeping room. I didn't think this would be so difficult, but it seems like boats are only designed for short people. Can you point me in the direction of something of the monohull variety?

Brian Mitchell

Brian - If you're primarily looking for headroom, see if the Columbia 34 MK II or the Columbia 39 suit your needs. They don't cost a lot, and if we remember correctly, even the cavernous 34 has nearly seven feet of headroom. Some folks might scoff at the quality of some of the Columbias of that era - and we'd sure want a careful survey - but Roy Wessbecher did a circumnavigation with his 34, taking a long series of women crew and spending an average of $15 a day. See the September 2000 Latitude for the whole story.
Anybody else have any boat suggestions for 'tall boys'?


Are you able to advise me as to how I might get hold of the organizers of the West Marine Pacific Cup? I am hoping to bring a yacht up from Australia to compete.

Aaron Goldwater
Planet Earth

Aaron - You can get all the information you need on next July's race from San Francisco to Oahu by visiting If you're going to sign up, don't procrastinate, as historically it has sold out. As of August 20 there are 27 paid entries. For the complete list see this month's Racing Sheet.


I have a warning for anyone making a call on the Dana Point Harbor - Beware of the fuzz!
Sailing home from early July's Marina del Rey to San Diego Race, we pulled into Dana Point at about 10:30 p.m. on July 2. It was my first visit to this harbor. I was used to raising the Harbormaster on Channel 9 - as you do in Catalina - and tried without success. I didn't think to try on Channel 16, which was my error. In any event, we searched for the Harbor Patrol boat, but having experienced engine trouble during the evening, headed for the first available end-tie in the main channel instead of dropping the hook. I didn't want to be stuck at anchor in the morning if I couldn't get the engine started. After looking around for some authorities ashore, we called the local Sheriff's Department, but there was just a machine.

A half hour later we returned to the end-tie - to find my boat was gone! It turns out that a Sheriff's patrol boat had towed it to impound at their base. Fortunately, somebody at a nearby dock advised us of what happened and gave us directions to the Sheriff's station.
There was a deputy on duty who only looked grandfatherly, as he treated us as though we intended to stiff the county of their income. He was not sympathetic or interested in our plight, and was neither courteous nor helpful. In fact, he was the most abusive and rude officer I've ever encountered. Fortunately, a younger deputy who was also on duty said we could spend what was left of the night aboard the boat. But there was no chance we could sneak away, as they'd chained the boat to the dock.

The following morning we pleaded our case to the Sergeant, but didn't fare any better. He had no sympathy for our situation, and said the boat would only be released after we paid for towing, dockage, penalty - and whatever other fees they could think of. It all came to $73.90. Once we got the boat back, we headed over to the gas dock where we met John, the owner. He was the best thing to happen to us at Dana Point. He courteously and efficiently drained the fuel and cleaned the algae out of the tank, cleaned and replaced the fuel filters, and apologized for the treatment we had been subjected to. If there is some way I could use John's services again without having to stop at Dana Point, I sure would. But upon leaving, I deleted Dana Point from the list of waypoints on my GPS.

Per Curtiss
Leading Lady, Cal 31
Marina del Rey

Per - We had a long and pleasant talk with Captain Marty Kasules, who is head of the Sheriff's Harbor Patrol for Orange County - which means he's the head honcho for both Newport Beach and Dana Point. He told us that according to the officers' report, they searched for you for 25 minutes after spotting your boat at the pump-out station dock, and when they couldn't find you decided to tow and chain your boat.

We informed Capt. Kasules that we thought his officers were far too quick to pull the trigger on towing your boat. After all, it was late at night, nobody was being denied access to their berth, and no channels were being blocked. What was the rush? He explained that it was the end of a shift, and that officers don't like to leave work undone for the start of the next shift. Nonetheless, he readily admitted that the situation could have been handled better, and that it's bothered him that a Dana Point visitor had such an unpleasant experience. He said he wanted to refund your money, but it would have cost a small fortune to get it through the bureaucracy.

We then moved on to a more general conversation about his areas of command. Capt Kasules told us with great pride that his Newport Beach crew has always enjoyed an excellent relationship with mariners - see this month's article on Newport Beach for a specific example - and that there have been many instances in which they have happily gone far beyond the call of duty to assist mariners. He says that while the average officer at Dana Point isn't quite as savvy as the best officers in Newport Beach, they often go beyond their areas of jurisdiction to provide assistance.

Capt. Kasules nonetheless admitted that Dana Point has a long history of less than ideal relations with mariners. Some of it, he suggested, stemmed from the fact that some of the former officers who had been assigned to the Harbor Police knew and cared little about boats. This, of course, is a familiar problem along much of the California coast. Despite your incident, Kasules is convinced that there's been a new attitude for the last three years or so, and he's committed to improving relations even further. His goal is for Dana Point to enjoy the same boater-friendly reputation as Newport Beach.

"I'm a boating advocate," Capt Kasules continued. "In the next few months, there will be a lot of boats coming down the coast for the Ha-Ha and to cruise Mexico, and I've been trying to come up with some ideas how we and maybe some of the local businesses can put out the welcome mat. We want southbound cruisers to stop and enjoy themselves at both Newport Beach and Dana Point. Since it's crowded in a lot of places in Southern California, we want all mariners to know that we've always got a slip or mooring in Newport Beach. In fact, we've never had to turn anyone away, not even right before the start of the Newport to Ensenada Race. We also have 48 guest slips at Dana Point. These are often taken during the summer, but frequently during the fall there are openings. We have good prices, too. It's about $14 a night for a 34-footer, and boats can stay for 10 days. Don't tell anybody, but if there are lots of open slips, we might be able to work out a little longer stay. Furthermore, if anyone has any problems at either Newport Beach or Dana Point, I want them to know they can reach me at (949) 673-1025 or by email at mkasules at And even if they don't have a problem, I'd like it if they stopped by my office in Newport and just said 'hello'."

We're convinced that Capt. Kasules - it's pronounced like 'castles' - is sincere and really does want mariners to have the best possible experience at Dana Point as well as Newport Beach. We'd program Dana Point back into your GPS and give it another chance.


I've recently installed a Raytheon CRC-RL80 radar/chart plotter, and in the near future am planning a passage from Vancouver to Mexico. So I want a C-map cartridge for that area. However, since I don't plan to return on this route for the foreseeable future, it doesn't make sense to purchase such an expensive cartridge for just that trip. Can I rent the cartridges?

Ken Ross
West Coast

Ken - It sounds like a great idea, but we're not aware of anyone who does it right now.


Reader Rick Daniels asked for suggestions on where to leave his boat in storage on the East Coast. I've got a suggestion - but first a little history. After sailing my Morgan Lynn south from San Diego in the mid-'90s, I did the Mexican thing, the 'Forgotten Middle' of Central America, then transited the Canal in November of '96. I then continued on to Isla San Andreas, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean side of Mexico. Finally, I visited that great place where it's okay to go, just not okay to spend U.S. dollars. Finally, I continued on to the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida, mostly alone.

While on the Gulf Coast, I put Morgan Lynn on the hard at the Glades Boat Storage, which is about 35 miles up the Caloosahatchee River. It cost me $12/day to have her in the work area, but I was able to sleep aboard and use everything but the head. They do, however, have very good toilet facilities. When I left my boat in the long term storage area - which was very secure - it was about $3.50/ft per month, or about $122. It was a good deal, and the trip up the river was good, too.

If anybody wants to know more, Morgan Lynn and I are up the Rio Dulce and can be emailed at mustangsam-iam at

Sam Rohrer
Morgan Lynn
Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Readers - The Caloosahatchee River flows west from Lake Okeechobee, Florida, and empties in the Gulf of Mexico near Fort Myers. Glades Boat Storage is - in east-west terms - in about the middle of Florida.


A friend recently told me about the Plastic Classic, saying that it was a race for classic fiberglass boats that was to happen sometime soon. But I haven't been able to find out any information about it. Does it exist? If so, when and where? Is this information right under my nose? I'm a great fan of Latitude - keep up the great work.

Bruce Baccei
San Francisco

Bruce - If you read the August issue, you'll discover it was indeed right under your nose. It was held in July and we had a big feature on it. There's always next year.


I'd like to call attention to a problem with the use of HF Marine/Ham radios in marinas and anchorages, particularly in Mexico. While there last winter, there were quite a few times during one of the HF-SSB nets that one or more boats close to us were transmitting on frequencies close to the net frequencies. These transmissions were undoubtedly interfering with every other boat in the marina/anchorage that was listening to the net.
The standard recommendation is to transmit at least 10KHz away from the net frequency. But in the case of boats in close proximity, 10KHz won't cut it. If you are only a few boat-lengths from another vessel, your transmissions will cause "fundamental overload" - which means that no matter if you are transmitting on a frequency significantly removed from the one they are listening on, interference will occur. It's the same thing that happens when you are listening to an AM radio in your car and drive past another station's antennas - while driving on 101 from San Mateo to Redwood City, for example.

It's common for people to get in touch with each other on the net and arrange to move up or down a few KHz to have a QSO (or 'conversation'). This practice works fine if you are not close to other boats, but if you are in a marina/anchorage beside another boat who is listening to the net, you will blow them out of the water - no matter what frequency you pick. And many times, moving to another band - from 4MHz to 12MHz, for instance - just isn't enough. The right thing to do is to wait until after the net. Besides, you might learn something if you stay and listen.

I have to admit that this became a problem for me, because even though I politely asked a couple of boats who were, day after day, destroying the reception for the Amigos Net, they'd simply come back the next day and do the same thing all over again at the same time. I'll give them the benefit of doubt and just say they must have been ignorant.
None of us is perfect, of course, and I'll admit to once inadvertently causing this type of interference myself. We had just arrived in mainland Mexico and didn't know all the net schedules. But while listening on the VHF, we heard a complaint and promptly stopped transmitting our HF radio email. My hope is that readers planning to cruise in Mexico this fall will be aware of the problem and take pains to learn the net schedules to avoid problems. It would be a good idea if everyone became aware of the net schedules, and monitored VHF 22 for any complaints while transmitting. Once again, this is only a concern in marinas or anchorages, and is not a problem when transmitting on the open sea.

I'd like to offer another suggestion. If anyone is going to use SailMail - and I'd be lost without it! - I recommend they set up an email account and use the 'POP' feature to transfer email from their SailMail account into the Internet account, so when an Internet cafe is available, they can get their email there as opposed to over the HF radio.
With regard to HF email, cruisers can usually count on the nets being very active between 0630 and 1030. So it's best to avoid these times if you must transmit from an anchorage. When on mainland Mexico, I found that HF email worked very reliably early in the morning on the 7MHz band before the net times, and there was little competition. Late in the afternoon, the 13MHz band opens up, but there was often a lot of traffic.

There never seems to be a current list of the HAM/Marine HF-SSB nets. Latitude has the connections to find out if anything has changed, so is it possible for you to publish a current net schedule this fall as a service to cruisers?

Lastly, I've been collecting Latitude 38 articles and dreaming about cruising Mexico for the last 20 years. I want to thank you folks for providing much of the inspiration that made our trip possible.

Doug Clark
Gypsy Soul, Morgan 462
Oyster Cove

Doug - Thanks for the kind words and informative tips.
Every entrant in the Ha-Ha is given a copy of
Latitude's First-Timer's Guide to Mexico, which includes the times and frequencies of the most popular cruisers nets in Mexico. If someone wants to create a more comprehensive list, we'd be happy to publish it - as well as post it on 'Lectronic Latitude and on our website.


On June 29, I was on my boat in Cabo getting ready to head back to California after two years in Mexico. David Nelson, a friend from San Diego, had just arrived and we were ready to take off when I suddenly became so ill that I had to be admitted to the American Hospital. After three days of tests, I was advised to fly to California to seek more medical care. David graciously offered to stay with my boat for the short term.

Upon my return to California, I was admitted to Sequoia General Hospital in Redwood City. After extensive testing, it was determined that my body had been invaded by some bacteria that lodged in my spine, causing it to become inflamed. The cure was going to take a lot of time. In fact, I'm still under a doctor's care and taking daily dosages of antibiotics.

Having taken me to the doctor in Cabo and later to the airport, David not only took care of my boat - but waited until two other friends, Giuliano Darbe and his partner Lisa Fetherstone arrived. Despite the fact that the couple had just finished the 'Baja Bash' in their own boat, they agreed to help David deliver the boat to San Diego, a trip that took them two hard weeks. The three of them spared me having to worry about my boat during the approach of hurricane season. I hereby wish to publicly thank my good friends for their help - as well as all the other cruisers that go out of their way to help those of us in need. This altruistic attitude is what makes us cruisers a close-knit family, and each of us so fortunate.

By the way, I have been reading Latitude for many, many years, and really enjoy all the features. I know there are cruisers in Mexico and other cruising grounds that would die to get a fresh copy. There are chandleries in Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and La Paz. Wouldn't it be possible to send them some copies to distribute among cruisers?

Aldo N. Salvato
Evening Star, Pier 39
San Francisco

Aldo - What your friends did for you is wonderful. We know of at least three other similar situations in which cruising friends did a 'bash' for a cruiser who had sudden medical problems. Cruisers really do know how to help out - and that's also true when it comes to distributing Latitudes to Mexico and other distant locations. Of all the delivery schemes we've tried to Mexico, having cruisers bring bunches of them down is the only one that has even halfway worked. Shipping Latitudes to Mexico as freight is prohibitively expensive because the issues are so big.


At the top of our packing list for our 2001 bareboat charter in French Polynesia? As many copies of Latitude as we could carry! In previous trips to Australia, New Zealand and Tonga, the publication has always been recognized and eagerly accepted - sort of an international symbol of friendship. As a result, we continue to expand our role as carriers on the world's most farreaching paper route.

So, stashed in our 'essential provisions' - alongside the Starbucks coffee, generic brand gin, pico de gallo sauce and parmesan cheese, were a couple dozen of the most recent Latitudes, secured with duct tape and bound from LAX to Raiatea by way of Papeete. Upon receiving a gracious welcome from the staff of The Moorings base in Raiatea, we offered the armload of issues - which were enthusiastically received as treasures from a faraway land. Two weeks later, we saw copies from our shipment in local bars and restaurants. Now when we travel to the South Seas, our motto is: 'Latitude 38, Don't Leave Home Without It'.

By the way, the unanimous conclusion of our fairly well traveled foursome is that cruising in the Society Islands is heaven on earth. The lurking, jagged jaws of sinister reefs; squinting to see the directional arrows on blacktipped hazard markers; and nervously counting down single digits on the depth meter - are all merely details to be accommodated to enjoy the pink-hued, cotton candied sunsets; friendly smooches from manta rays in warm crystal waters; mystical calling of greencarpeted Bora Bora; and the night's velvety darkness with diamondstudded constellations. We're still entranced, because French Polynesia is a true paradise.

Tom and Sarah Brown
Scott and Lisa Schalon
San Diego

Tom & Sara, Scott & Lisa - We can't tell you how much we appreciate your efforts to spread Latitudes around the globe.


I'm hoping to go cruising in the near future, and want to know where to turn for insurance for sailing beyond the territorial limits of the United States. And where do I look to check on the past performance in paying legitimate claims?

As a cruiser wannabe who expects to spend a substantial amount on a 40-foot catamaran that will be our only home, I feel that I need to have my insurance ducks in a row prior to handing over a downpayment. Since Mexico would be our first destination, coverage for that area would naturally be a nice start.

P.S. Latitude has been my 'bible' since the dream first took hold some six years ago. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Gary E. Lott

Gary - For those used to buying home or car insurance, cruising insurance is an entirely different ballgame. For one thing, probably well over half of all cruisers don't have cruising insurance, either because they feel the premiums are too dear or because they can't find any to buy.

If you purchase a boat and want to sail her in California waters, you shouldn't have too much trouble getting insurance, even if you have relatively little experience. And most sailors with a reasonable amount of experience and a boat that surveys well don't have much trouble getting insurance for the winter season in Mexico. But if it's your first boat or it doesn't survey well, you may not be able to get insurance. The biggest problem is trying to find insurance for cruising beyond Mexico. If you're short on sailing experience, don't have a good boat, and don't have a history with a insurance broker, you may not be able to find any insurance, or it may be prohibitively expensive.

If you want to look for cruising insurance, we suggest you start by checking out the brokers that advertise in Latitude. Just don't expect to find a buyer's market.

How good various insurance companies are about paying out claims will always be a matter of tremendous dispute. Folks who are insured often grouse that they got screwed, and sometimes there seems to be some validity to their stories. On the other hand, it's a fact that insurance companies often get screwed, too. More than a few folks have scuttled their boats, companies that do repairs often jack up bills when an insurance company is on the hook, and sometimes policy holders think that having to file a claim is akin to winning the lottery. So there are two sides to the story.

Five tips: First, try to deal with an American company, as in theory they can be held accountable in U.S. courts. Second, check the rating of the underwriters with one of the rating services. Third, make sure you actually get a policy, then call the underwriters to confirm that it's a genuine one. You'd be shocked at how often brokers - mostly outside the United States - have collected premiums without actually purchasing the insurance. There's nothing worse than thinking you have insurance, losing your boat, and then discovering you aren't covered. Four, it's better to pay a little more to develop a long term relationship with a broker than it is to flit around and save a few bucks. Five, no matter if you have insurance or not, avoid getting into accidents the way you would avoid getting into lawsuits or having a root canal.


Dolores and I are anchored in Loch Craignish in northwest Scotland reading the May issue of Latitude. I am ashamed to admit that our last contact with you was from the west coast of Baja in '94. We spend each summer - four to six months - cruising, then leave Rolling Stone for the winter. Since '95, our Burns 36 has spent winters in Panama, Maine and Scotland. We have explored the west and east coasts of Canada, Mexico and Central America, from Alaska to Newfoundland. And last summer we crossed the North Atlantic to Scotland. We plan to continue on to Norway.

What prompted me to write, however, were your 'use it or lose it' comments in the May issue of Sightings. I'd love to be able to read the responses you get, but will have to wait until the September issue. Because of a large waiting list, in the late '70s we tried to institute a 'use it or lose it' slip policy at the Presidio YC. I don't remember the specifics, but a rule was passed that boats had to leave their slips at some fixed interval. The whole thing sounded reasonable when we - the bridge and board of directors - sat around and talked about it. But administering it was impossible, unfair, and thankfully soon died. A better approach - at least at the yacht club level - was face-to-face discussions with those who didn't use their boats.

In my opinion, if someone pays for a slip and maintains insurance on his boat, the use of the boat is his business. This problem will correct itself as reduced supply and increased demand drive up prices. The last thing we need is more rules, since rules always come with BCDC-type bureaucrats.

You also ask why do such people hang on to slips? You cited one reason, but my experience tells me that the major reason is that a boat represents a dream, either past or future. It doesn't matter that most people won't actually go any great distance, but as long as the boat is there, their dream is alive. I think that's okay, because where would we be without our dreams?

I also enjoyed the article by Matt Stone from Saga. I can relate to most of what he says except for having kids aboard. We've managed to cruise these many years aboard Rolling Stone without refrigeration and many of the other things that many cruisers feel are 'must haves'. The first piece of cruising gear I bought was a Monitor vane in '79, which I used in the '82 Singlehanded TransPac. I had to sell my motorcycle to buy the vane. We've added things over the years, but except for the GPS, we could probably do without much of it. In Mexico the most important gear were the fans below and sunshade above. In Newfoundland, the diesel furnace rose to the top of the list. I endorse Matthew's suggestion to just go and get stuff as you need it and can afford it.

I've enjoyed Latitude since your first issues. While not a good correspondent, I have left copies all over the place, particularly in the higher latitudes.

Robby and Dolores Robinson
Aboard Rolling Stone

Robby & Dolores - Be careful what you ask for, because allowing berth prices to be determined by supply and demand would be a financial disaster for all but the wealthiest mariners. For instance, in Santa Barbara people gladly pay an extra $50,000 for a boat just to be able to get the rights to a 50-foot slip in that marina. And there's no end to the number of affluent people who wouldn't think twice about paying $25 or more a foot per month - as some already do in Newport Beach. Santa Barbara - and many other marinas - deliberately keep slip fees low so less affluent people can afford boating. Are you sure you want to destroy that? The alternative is Antibes, where the biggest slips sell for $5 million. And there's Avalon, where bigger mooring buoys go for over $100,000, and the owners don't even get the money when they are rented out.

Or consider Santa Cruz, where there is an 18 to 20-year waiting list for slips in the South Harbor - the only place where masts don't have to be lowered and raised each time a boat goes in or out. How would you like to have to get into a bidding war for a slip with the 1,000 people currently on the waiting list - many of them newly rich from Silicon Valley? It wouldn't be any fun, particularly when guys like Larry Ellison or Philippe Kahn wouldn't blink at paying $50 a foot for five or 10 slips.

We think if you were willing to look at it dispassionately, you'd see that the 'use it or lose it' system is the fairest for the greatest amount of people. It wouldn't deny people the boat they need to own to keep their sailing dream alive, as long as they used it once in awhile. And it wouldn't prevent new and active mariners from being able to achieve their sailing dreams. After all, we're not suggesting total revolution here, just that the 5% or so of boats that haven't been used in years be moved to peripheral marinas so those who actively want to access the water can do so? Others are free to disagree, but it seems like common sense to us.

While we disagree on berthing, we couldn't agree more with you and Matt about not having to have every bit of cruising gear before taking off. Take Profligate. The first two years in Mexico, she had just one interior light - no joke - and no windlass. She still has no water heater, no watermaker, no shower, no roller furling, and the wind instruments and speedo are yet to be hooked up. Some of this gear we don't need because of peculiarities with a big cat, but we also took our Freya 39 and Olson 30 to Mexico a total of five times without most of this stuff, too. Sure, it would have been nice to have all these things, and some day we might get around to putting them in, but meanwhile it hasn't prevented us from having heading south or having fabulous times in Mexico.


I've read your ideas for helping the problem by monitoring boat usage, and it's clear that you haven't considered the infinite variety of boat owners' needs. Furthermore, you seem not to understand how harbormasters in San Francisco Bay regulate the problem of unused boats that decay through lack of use.

Each person has a unique life experience. Some people, having loved and regularly used their boats, are stricken with illness, a broken marriage, a serious accident, a mental condition. Some people find that life's pressures creep up on them so that at the end of the week they are so wrung out all they can do is hide on their boat and recover enough to take on the next week. Your idea would punish people like these. Well, sir, ma'am - whoever is promoting this silly idea - shame on you.

All the harbormasters that I know do an excellent job of managing the best interests of the infrastructure, the security of boats, and the infinite variety of boat owners' needs - and they do this without the comfortable insulation from human contact that your magazine enjoys. They don't have to implement a Stalinlike check-in and check-out procedure, and they don't intrusively poke and pry into painful personal circumstances of boatowners who don't fit the profile of Latitude's ideal boater. Instead, they use intelligence, discreet inquiry, common sense and patience. It's a thankless job, but they do it damn well.

Unquestionably, Latitude is the finest magazine - not just sailing magazine - that I have ever read. It's an institution! So why not use that excellence and avid readership to help solve the problem of berth shortages by promoting the idea of making new marinas? Just sail the coastline between Oyster Point and China Basin, or from San Leandro to Alameda, and see for yourself the many sites that would be ideal for three or four 500-slip marinas. Forget the Stalin approach and concentrate on the American way of solving problems.

Lyn Reynolds
San Jose

Lyn - Thanks for the compliments - and the opposing point of view.
When we say 'use it or lose it', it's a very general concept that could easily include sitting on the boat as 'use' or otherwise provide for special situations such as the ones you mention. If you read the last issue, you know Santa Cruz Harbor has a 'use it or lose it policy', and this doesn't prevent them from working with berthholders who find themselves in such situations. Yet the program does weed out people who no longer use their boats. Far from being Stalinist, we think it's the fairest and most democratic system we've heard of so far. We're just not sure - given the tremendous demand for slips in Santa Cruz - that it goes far enough.

It is true that a few harbormasters do regulate the problem themselves, but many - particularly at government-operated marinas where nobody knows or cares about boats - do not. If you'd been walking marinas from California to Honolulu for as many years as we have, it would be obvious. Where the problem isn't regulated, marinas and harbors become stagnant, which is in nobody's best interest.

While 'use it or lose it' might sound like a "silly policy" to you in your current situation, we think it wouldn't hurt to look at it from a more altruistic point of view. For example, would it still sound silly if you were one of the thousands of people whose only nearby marina - we're talking of places such as Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara - won't have room for your boat for the next 20 years? And when you wanted a slip, you'd have to 'pay' $1,000 a foot for it? Would it seem fair to you that you were denied access to the water because others were using the taxpayer-subsidized low berth rates to build up tremendous equity in the value of berths they don't own? It doesn't seem exactly fair to us - and as you'll read later in this issue, it doesn't sound right to the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury, either.

By the way, the issue may become moot in a few years, as it looks as if things are starting to roll on an 800 to 1,000-berth marina at the old Alameda Naval Air Station. Details in Sightings. But this will do nothing to help the problems in all the places on the coast that are packed and have no room to expand, and in Honolulu.


I was coming to agreement with the thought that unused boats in marinas should be displaced by more actively used boats. Since I'm a very active sailor, my house is falling into disrepair - and I am becoming concerned that they might start to apply the same standard to homes. I'd hate to be kicked out of my house just because I don't use it enough!

Phillip Kane
Happy Feet

Phillip - That's a terrific analogy - assuming that your house is located in the middle of Golden Gate Park - or some other public land. The problem with berths in many areas is that there aren't enough of them and there's no room to build more. So when a person uses a berth merely for storage, he/she denies someone else access to the water. The problem with houses is not a shortage - check the Sunday paper - it's that they are so expensive. We think different problems call for different solutions.


I have a home in Sunnyvale that I've owned for 40 years. I've kept my boat in a slip at Coyote Point Marina for the past five years. When first renting the slip, I was told that berthers were allowed to stay aboard their boats for just 48 hours a week, not 72 hours. The marina management said that if they allowed longer stays, the BCDC would require them to install all kinds of extra equipment for so-called 'liveaboards'. My question is this: Will the BCDC be in a position to mandate what must be done to the marina to allow the boatowners to stay on their boats in the slip without imposed limits?

By the way, I have a Coast Guard-approved Lectro-San sewage system installed aboard my boat. When I used to cruise with the boat and used to pump stuff directly overboard, it was always smelly. It's not like that with the Lectra-San.

Conrad Skladal

Conrad - It's the BCDC's position that when the 'use' of a boat is changed from nautical to residential - or even back and forth - it's a change that requires a permit from the BCDC. And that nobody can live aboard in a marina without the marina having a permit from the BCDC for them. In order for a marina to get a permit, the BCDC can make them jump through hoops. A number of marina managers have told us that they haven't applied for such permits, because it would cost them $100,000 or more to comply, and that the BCDC would require that they do crazy stuff, such as install full-size dumpsters on docks, dumpsters that could only be picked up by trucks, and in any event wouldn't fit through the gates. The BCDC denies this is the case.

But here's the weird thing. Last month BCDC Executive Director Will Travis told us that if you have another residence - as you do in Sunnyvale - you can stay aboard your boat 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - and the BCDC doesn't consider you a liveaboard. One last twist: Just because the BCDC doesn't consider you a liveaboard, doesn't mean that whoever owns and operates the marina doesn't consider you to be a liveaboard. And they don't have to allow liveaboards.


Madeline and I spend time in Mexico nearly every year. Each and every trip is immensely rewarding and rejuvenating, giving us a needed break from the daily challenges up here in Northern California. Our reasons for returning to Mexico are the warmth in the sun, body-surfing, lush vegetation (in many places), value for the dollar, and so forth. But none of that would matter if it weren't for the wonderful hospitality we have found to be nearly universal, whether in a resort or small town off the beaten track (often our preferred location). People do make the difference.

To that end, enclosed is a $100 contribution - inspired by the letter from Captain Norman and Janet Goldie in San Blas, about how well the money raised during the Ha-Ha had been used. We want Norm and Goldie to use it as they see fit, for Asuncion's braille schooling, for more clothes, whatever is the best use.

Latitude's goal of raising $1,000 by Christmas should be a snap, if for example, each HaHa boat puts up $10 each and a few other readers chip in. We'll have Asuncion reading in no time.

We won't be in on the HaHa fun this year, as our current boat, a 14' O'Day sloop, isn't big enough for the trip. But we sail her from our backyard dock in Bel Marin Keys, so we get our fun on the water. We read Latitude regularly with great interest, and think that we'll be participating in the Ha-Ha in the not too distant future.

P.S. Thanks again for helping out a few years ago when I put out the call for help when J.T. Meade of Modern Sailing lost his boat to a fire. That story had a happy ending, with many readers sending checks which really helped out a member of our sailing community.

Don and Madeline Swartz

Don & Madeline - Thanks for your unexpected contribution! You'll be happy to know that on August 13, we blasted right over the $1,000 goal for Profligate's 'sister-city' of Caleras de Cofrado, as some folks interested in cats took a Saturday sail with us aboard Profligate.
Thanks to Steve and Robin Dinger, who are hoping to get a big cat for Europe; Mark and Ingard Berhardt, who want a big cat to sail around the world; Scott Myer, who is having an Ian Farrier 41-ft cat built in Australia; Glenn Fagerlin, who has a Kronos 45 cat on the Bay; Daniel Chollet and Elaine Dell-Santina, who are thinking about buying a cat in a couple of years; and Robert Wilson, who has a monohull, $1,100 was raised. Thanks to all of you.
Weather permitting, we'll be having another fund-raiser at Bahia Santa Maria during the Ha-Ha, and also at the Banderas Bay Regatta next March in P.V. By the way, we're proud to report that when we do fund-raisers with Profligate, 100% of the money goes to the charity involved. Nothing is held back in 'expenses' for the skipper, crew, wear and tear or anything else.


I'm looking into purchasing an Alberg 35. Would it be possible for you or someone on your staff to give me a ballpark figure on what it would cost to rig the boat for singlehandled sailing?

Robert G.
West Coast

Robert - You're not giving us enough information to work with. If you're just going to be singlehanding around the Bay, it doesn't have to cost you anymore than if you were going to sail her with crew. You just have to be a little bit clever.

If, however, you're talking about long periods or out in the ocean, you'll probably want a windvane or autopilot, depending on whether you'll be cruising or racing. Let's assume that you're primarily interested in cruising. If you buy a used vane and install it yourself, you should be able to get away with between $1,000 and $2,000. You might also want a radar with a feature that periodically searches the horizon, which would be another $2,000. If the boat doesn't have roller furling, that's another couple of grand. If you want an autopilot so you don't have to steer while the boat is motoring, figure on between $1,000 and $2,500. You can spend as little or as much as you want equipping your boat for singlehanding.
For what it's worth, there's no better way to quickly hone your sailing skills than singlehanding. And, it's tremendously satisfying.


Back in May, you kindly ran my letter inviting like-minded sailors to check out our Christian Singles Sailing Club as part of Equally Yoked Sacramento. I received many terrific responses - but one took me back in time to 1891, and then to the 1939 San Francisco World's Fair!

A kind Christian man responded to my letter, and through our faith we became friends. After a couple months corresponding, he became quite excited to learn of my family's past involvement in Bay Area sailing, and put me in touch with the San Francisco Maritime Museum. My granddad had once owned the 1891 barge named the Alma, which is now owned and operated by the museum.

After making contact, I offered to share photographs of her with Taylor, the archivist at the museum. He was delighted, and asked if I had any other photographs of old wooden boats. I did, and told him of a national one-design named the Mab, built by my granddad and raced by both him and my mother. He asked if he could see the photos and trophies that I still had. I was astonished when Taylor said he knew of Mab, and even more so when he verified the family story - that she'd been exhibited at the 1939 World's Fair on Treasure Island.

Taylor asked if I knew what had become of Mab. I told him the last time I'd seen her she was rotting away in a barn, my request for her having been denied. Both my granddad and mother have passed on, and I had no idea what had become of the boat. That's when Taylor dropped the bombshell. He had Mab at the museum!

A short time later, on my late mother's birthday, Taylor and Judy - another museum historian - were kind enough to show me the restored Mab. Soon I found myself sitting at the helm - in a vast warehouse! I closed my eyes, slid my hand onto the tiller, and tears welled up in my eyes as I remembered my mother.

That wasn't the end of my blessing. I could not imagine why anyone would make a fuss over a dirty old barge - which is how I remembered the Alma. I had heard that her tall sides and pilothouse had been torn down, and a couple of masts stepped, but I was not prepared for what I saw from the top of the marina gangway: my granddad's old scow schooner, but in tidy shape!

But could this box-with-masts sail? I was about to find out. Captain Al and First Mate Alice greeted me most graciously, as did the rest of the crew. We cast off and I felt a familiar rumble under my feet as we powered away. Amazingly, after Captain Al expertly trimmed her out, the 80-foot LOA, 22-foot beam Alma sailed herself! I steered her through a couple tacks, which was a heavy-handed challenge compared to the Cal 22 sloop I usually skipper. Then the best fun: a close reach, a beam current and more wind gave Alma cause for guidance. Soon someone called out, "8.4 knots!" Alma fairly skipped across the waves. I could not stop grinning, as my granddad would have loved this!

Thanks so much for running my letter in the May issue.

P.S. Anyone seeking information on sailing with EY Sacramento can email jjluvsjesus at

Justine S. Skipper
EY Sacramento


I read with highest interest David R. Prince's June letter about bringing a Dreadnought 32 up the coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco - and your well-balanced answer. It was a long time ago that I did that trip, but I remember every one of those nearly 500 miles as though it were yesterday. Yes, it was me, wild and crazy Uryzycybuncycki - or however you spell my name - who sailed non-stop from Los Angeles to San Francisco aboard my Ericson 27 Nord III. Singlehanded. Without self-steering or radio or liferaft. But I did have a hull full of dreams, hopes and bravado.

How was it? It took me more than 10 days, but it was more than great! In fact, although a short time later I would singlehand Nord III to Japan and back - including 49 days from Yokohama to San Francisco, a then-record noted in Guinness - I was never as close to heaven as those 10 infernal days of sailing from L.A. to San Francisco. I am ashamed, however, that I never published a word about this misery - to warn others about the forces of the Pacific Coast, and to have them laugh at my misadventures.

Andrew Urbanczyk


My last two boats - in a long and eclectic line - were elderly trimarans. I refit and then cruised them in Mexico. With that experience, I can recommend them - with the usual older boat caveats.

I found Patches, an unnamed 24-foot Piver tri, sitting on the hard collecting boatyard dust in Chula Vista. She was a Boy Scout donation, and someone had already put considerable TLC into her. I was happy to pay the $3,000 for her, although I could have got her for less. I figured the bucks were going to a worthy cause.

After she was given a new paint job, Patches' hull was in excellent shape. So I set about getting her ready to cruise south. After a pleasant few winter months of '92 in the yard, I launched her and kept her on a mooring in lovely Glorietta Bay. I immediately became a multihull convert for a number of reasons. First, she sailed so sweetly - and flat, by God - with so much flat deck space. And she was so light and responsive to the tiller, that Fred Asteer, her old Tillermaster autopilot, handled her without any strain. I left her on the mooring for a summer of work in Alaska.

When I returned that autumn and swung aboard, the rotted mooring line let go. I lucked out on that one, but the next time it happened would be disastrous. I worked intensely on Patches until I just couldn't stand it anymore. Finally, I threw the unfinished to-do list overboard, the only forgivable littering I'd ever done. I weighed anchor by hand - an easy affair with a boat that weighs less than a ton - and headed south with the Class of '93-'94. I had no engine, no crew, and just a compass with which to navigate.

My plan was to sail about the Cape and up to San Carlos in three weeks to meet a friend for Christmas. Right. Two weeks later, I pulled into Cabo exhilarated. But little Patches had taught me much about cruising. What I learned most is that I wanted an engine, and that it's not smart to make cruising plans. Above all, I learned that we have reserves of Self we never know about until they are called upon. Though I shared some deeply meaningful conversations with God on a couple of long nights when it blew 40 knots, I don't recall ever feeling really threatened, though I have been known to go into denial.

For the next few winter seasons, dear Patches and I explored the gorgeous Sea of Cortez. I would leave her in the summer - often on a mooring or even just an anchor - to work the season in Alaska, praying she would be there on my return. This despite the fact that I always arranged to have someone keep an eye on her. She was always there wagging her stern every autumn - until '98, when she just wasn't there. She had died on the rocks. A friend hadn't put a safety line to the mooring after he borrowed her. He's still my friend, though. And the incident led me to the next and better boat. The point I want to make is that she was a well-found, functional, little boat, and both easy to buy and maintain. We had a lot of fun together, and I didn't have my life's saving's tied up in her - not that I had any.
Then I did it all again. I found Patches' bones in Marina Seca, San Carlos, lying next to her big sister, a Piver 35. I got a lot of boat and cruising gear by paying a disillusioned owner $7,500 and the yardbill of $1,500. I spent a pleasant couple of months bringing Angelica up to speed, threw away the to-dolist in an environmentally friendly manner, and went cruising. Two years later, I sold her in San Carlos for what I then had into her, to the most perfect couple - the kind of folks I like to run into out there.

I'm now building Angelica II in my backyard in western New York State. She was supposed to be a Hughes 36 cruising cat. For various reasons explained in an article in the May/June issue of Boatbuilder magazine, those plans remain rolled up behind the woodstove. Angelica II is well along as a 50-ft traditional wood cutter, a choice made around bucks and time, not multihulls versus monohulls.

The fine points of finding, selecting, refitting, and sailing these venerables is beyond the scope of this letter. I just want to encourage the fence-sitters who have already done the early work to go for that dusty old girl - if she fills the good construction, good materials bill. She won't be as fast as more modern boats, and she might need a skin graft by replacing patches of loose polyester with glass/epoxy, and not all eyes will see her beauty out in the anchorage. But you'll be out there, by God. And I gotta tell you, many is the time that I was told Angelica was the prettiest boat in a full anchorage!

Jim Dell
Angelica II, under construction
Angelica, New York


We were anchored in Potato Slough with friends Harley and Anna Gee on the Fourth of July waiting for the fireworks show when we read Latitude's Delta Primer. It had been our second cruise of the summer to the Delta aboard our The Darlen'B, our first having been in late May for the Jazz Festival in Sacramento. Every time we come up to the Delta, we realize we love it as much as we did when we first sailed up years ago.

After the fireworks and our time in Potato Slough, we went to Stockton to visit our son George, a firefighter. He'd helped crew for us during the '97 Ha-Ha. After visiting George, we went up the Mokelumne River for dinner at Guisti's, then to Lost Slough to visit Jim and Kattie Hayward. They tie their boat Mokelumne at their cabin, and stay for the summer.
While at Lost Slough, I picked enough blackberries from the bank to make a pie. While relaxing with the Haywards later on, I mentioned your Delta article and the one by Earl Stanley Gardner called World of Water. Jim went down to his boat and returned with a copy of Gardner's 1965 book, and opened it to a page of pictures showing his lagoon - where we were anchored - with about 20 boats sailing on it. It had been a popular place 35 years ago.

After a few days of rest, we returned to Point Richmond, stopping at Antioch and Benicia marinas on the way.

Darlene and Bill Wilcox
The Darlen'B
Point Richmond

Darlene & Bill - Cruising the Delta, it's all about the sloooow life.


I'd like to say a word of praise for Pillar Point Harbor at Half Moon Bay. Some two months ago I sailed down to Half Moon Bay and dropped hook in the outer harbor. The following day I got a slip at the marina for $13.50 a day. Much of the salmon fleet had gone up to Bodega Bay at that time, so there was plenty of space. My plan was to sail to Año Nuevo, an open anchorage about 18 miles to the south, the next day. But I hung out at Pillar Point for the next nine days instead.

At night I'd have a few drinks at the friendly fisherman's bar behind the harbormaster's office. I felt at home, as it reminded me of when I used to work as a commercial fisherman in Florida.

The area around the harbor couldn't have been more quiet, uncrowded and beautiful. The sweep of the bay - with a long beach extending from Pillar Point to the cliffs at the southern end - offers a lovely walk and, if you still have cartilage left in your knees, a great run. North along the shore line past Princeton leads you under a high bluff and to the breakwater, where you can look out over the patch of wild sea named Mavericks, known around the world for huge waves. In a local restaurant there are large photos depicting the 50-foot breaking walls of water that hold a near fatal attraction for the bravest surfers.

You can buy fresh fish at the dock at Pillar Point, and if you like comfortable little cafes with plenty of newspapers and magazines to browse through, there are some great places to eat. My time at Pillar Point flew, but before I left, every fisherman I'd spoken with told me they'd anchored at Año Nuevo. They said the holding ground was good. I wonder why it gets so little mention in the cruising guides?

I sailed back to San Francisco Bay under bright sunshine and a blue sky - with near gale force winds. It was as good as it gets.

Leon Cyens
Sea Dancer

Leon - Despite the fact we can remember the Express 27 Locomotion being lifted out of Año Nuevo by helicopter after going on the rocks, it is a pretty good anchorage - and there's good surfing, too.

The drawbacks are that the weather along that part of the coast is often gloomy, it's not easy to get ashore, there are no facilities, and the bright lights and pretty girls of Santa Cruz are just down the coast.


Reading your comment about the yacht Georgia in the May issue - ". . . one of the less attractive yachts we've seen" - reminded me of a story about a U.S. Army Captain assigned as a liaison to a British Colonel in Great Britain before the Normandy Invasion, when the Yanks were said to be "overpaid, oversexed and over here." At a reception, the Captain observed, "What an ugly woman that is coming down the stairs."

"Sir," objected the Colonel, "that is my wife."

"No, not her, the old broad behind her."

"That, sir, is my mother."

Closing his eyes and sliding home, the captain blurted, "I didn't say it!"

I was always taught that aesthetic opinions are: 1) highly subjective, and 2) best expressed out of the earshot of all vested parties. However, I have been told I have many oldfashioned ideas. This may be one of them. I will let the Wanderer be the arbiter. If so, there is another older theory - this one concerning stones, glass houses and the people who live in them. Wasn't it your hand that signed off on the design of Profligate? I have 'admired' that accretion of ad revenue from many angles - at the dock, underway, backwinded and with a bone in her teeth - and I must say, for all her fine sailing qualities and comforts of home . . . well, I didn't say it!"

Aldred B. Chipman
Sausalito / The City

Aldred - We agree that it's bad manners to speak poorly of another's boat. However, we make light-hearted exceptions for examples of particularly wretched excess - such as Georgia, which was given the maximum interior volume, the tallest mast in the world, and was painted the most subtle shade of fire engine red.

Manners aside, we agree that aesthetics are somewhat subjective - but certainly not entirely so. We'd hate, for example, to simply dismiss qualities such as proportion and harmony. After all, wouldn't you be a little hesitant to hire a designer who thought a Winnebago was more sleek than a Ferrari? Our belief in these matters was reinforced this June when we again stumbled across Georgia while she was stern-tied at the Monte Carlo YC. In truth, she's far from the worst- looking yacht in the world, but it's not attractive that everything about her is so maximum. Sort of like a ranch house that occupies 90% of a lot. Or Dolly Parton emphasizing her already extremely voluptuous figure.

Part of our belief in at least partially objective standards of aesthetics is that no multihull can look as pleasing as a well-styled monohull. Multihulls are inherently awkward-looking from any number of angles - although a few of the latest 60-foot racing tris are starting to look less so. Most multihull sailors would probably agree that their boats are primarily beautiful as a matter of function rather than form. For example, if you think Profligate looks rather massive and plain at the dock, we'd be the first to agree with you. But when she's doing what she was designed to do - effortlessly reaching across the Bay in the teens, without any of the 25 or more passengers wearing foul weather gear or spilling their wine, and raising money for non-profits at a clip of $2,000/hour - she's lovely enough to us.


I dropped some friends off at Sam's Anchor Cafe in Tiburon a few Sunday's ago, and as I motored out of the harbor I noticed a large catamaran heading up Raccoon Strait. I promptly changed course to admire Profligate. It was a pleasure to see her.
P.S. I'm an avid reader of Latitude 38. In fact, it's so awesome I always deliver a stack of them to my parents in Victoria, Canada.

Pavel Rozalski
Catalina 380, Crusader
Northern California


Thanks for the lovely ride on Profligate last Saturday. It was a delight to romp across The Slot with a couple of ladies in deck chairs while the few other boats around were reefed and their crews were concentrating on hanging on. It was a delight to sail with somebody who considers their boat a vehicle for going places rather than settings for their personal jewel, to be polished and adorned. Long may she continue to please you!

Bob Wilson
Northern California


How can I find how much difference there is in performance between roller furling mains versus regular mains? I know a roller furled main has its advantages, but does it perform as well?

Randy Ross
Ocean Beach

Randy - The main appeal of roller furling mains has always been convenience. Instead of having to flake them and put on sail covers, you just roll them up. Many early attempts at roller furling mainsail systems weren't reliable and didn't - in part because they didn't permit battens - provide very good sail shape. So performance suffered significantly.
It's a much tougher call these days, as some modern roller furling mainsail systems permit the use of even full-battened mains and are capable of producing excellent sail shape. Nobody is going to use them on hot racing boats, of course, but some of them provide very decent sail shape. But it's impossible to quantify the difference in performance because there are significant differences between various systems and what they're to be compared to. Perhaps the biggest drawback is that they are expensive.


We will be joining the Ha-Ha this fall - but alas, will have to return to the Bay Area shortly thereafter. We still have some commitments here before we can permanently cast off late next year. We've explored trucking the boat home, but came to the decision to do the Baja Bash north sometime between late December and early January. This being our first 'Bash', we wondered if any other Ha-Ha boats were interested in forming a northbound flotilla. We would be happy to serve as a point of contact for any who may be interested in talking about it. Anyone who might be interested should email us at PhillipsSG at
We'd also be happy to provide a bottle of fine wine - or any other reasonable bribe - to anyone willing to let us read their copy of The Baja Bash by Capt. Jim Elfers. The book is impossible to come by. We're looking forward to Halloween full moon sailing!!

Steve and Angelina Phillips
Fruitcakes, Catalina 42
Napa Valley

Steve & Angelina - We've put the word out. The nice thing about heading north in the middle of winter is that it's usually the easiest time to do it, as normally there is less wind and flatter seas. Nor is it uncommon to catch a southerly.


We arrived in San Diego a few weeks ago aboard our Frers ketch Quest, after sailing from Rhode Island via Panama. We'd bought Quest 18 months before, and she'd come equipped with over 20 bags of sails, mostly by UK. One was an unused Tape Drive Passagemaker, a glued and laminated Kevlar headsail. It sure looked pretty, and as it had a foam luff, we decided it would be our working headsail for making passages. Over the next 18 months, we grew to love the sail, which had great shape and was strong. Unfortunately, while coming up the coast of Baja, it delaminated. All the seams came unglued and it was only held together by Kevlar tapes.

As the sail was two years out of warranty, I expected problems when I took it to the UK loft in San Diego. After taking a quick look, Charlie Gautier was quite critical of the construction. We left it with him, expecting that we'd have to write it off and go back to a conventional dacron headsail. When I phoned Charlie a few days later, I got a pleasant surprise: UK would fix it for us at no cost. I want to thank Charlie and UK Sails for standing behind their product. We have since used the sail to get to Ventura and have found the repair - with sewn seams - to work quite well.

John Shaw
Ventura West Marina


I appreciate your coverage of the Richardson Bay anchorouts and the BCDC. You have worked hard over the years to set straight the rather Jonathan Swiftian boatsasfill argument.

I'd like to add that, far from being a community liability, anchorouts save the lives and property of recreational boaters. We are fortunate to have people who live aboard their boats throughout the anchorage, as they are often there to help in the evening when most other people have gone home, or on weekdays when most people are working elsewhere. So your suggestion for concentrating the liveaboard vessels might not be as good as dispersing them. Incidentally, boaters who have been aided are often embarrassed, and would just as soon forget about these incidents, so nothing is ever heard. I believe those who live on anchored vessels conform to the public trust through their service, just as fishermen and others who live aboard commercial vessels do.
One more thing: I've been a Ham operator since 1960. Back then when Hams had the 11-meter band, I was very much in favor of its becoming the less regulated 'citizen's band'. Just tune into some CB channels if you wish to observe the anarchy that has ensued. Great! I'm still for CB radio, but the requirements for becoming a licensed Ham serve to maintain a standard that enables communication.

Derek Van Loan
Sailing Dinghy, Sleeper
Mill Valley

Derek - We fully support the concept of anchor-outs, but think the concept of 'anchor-outs as saviors of lives and private property' argument to be a little bit of a stretch. For one thing, it's been our experience that more anchor-out lives and property have been saved by recreational mariners than vice versa - at least on a per capita basis. We've pulled several anchor-outs from the drink over the years, and like you say, nobody makes a big deal of it.
When anchor-outs are taken as an entire class, it's hard to argue that they don't represent at least a little bit of a community liability. After all, there is no denying that inadequately moored ones get blown into other boats and/or ashore each winter, or sink in the Bay, forcing taxpayers to to pick up the expensive tabs. Fortunately, there's a good, inexpensive and proven solution: mooring buoys. These would not only make the anchorage safer, but allow for more boats. Naturally, they would need to be supported ashore by dinghy docks and restrooms/showers.

Ever since our remarks in the last issue about anchor-outs, we've been approached by any number of them promising to write letters about where they stand on various issues. Since nobody has ever followed through, we've got 10 questions for anchor-outs, the answers to which would help everyone understand where everybody stands:

1) What facilities/policies would make your lives easier and better?

2) If an anchored out boat drags and damages another boat, or goes ashore and needs to be removed, should the owner be responsible? (The corollary, of course, is whether or not the owner of an anchored out boat should be able to be compensated if, for example, his/her boat were to be run down by the Golden Gate Ferry.)

3) Should vessels or floating objects on Richardson Bay be required to have state registration? If not required to have state registration, should there be some way in which the owner can be identified?

4) Should vessels or floating objects in the Bay be required to be capable of navigation?

5) Should individuals be allowed to use the Bay for the storing of vessels or floating objects? If so, should they be able to rent out space on these stored vessels or floating objects?

6) Should anchor-out dinghies be subject to the same provisions as dinghies for non-anchor-outs?

7) Should there be any boundaries on where boats and floating objects can be moored?

8) Should there be any ultimate limits on the number of boats allowed to anchor-out?

9) Should boats or floating objects be required to have minimum standards for anchors, or should there be mooring buoys?

10) What, if any, safety and pollution standards, should be required of anchored out boats?


While the case might be made that a private residence on publicly owned open waters is akin to housing in public parks - as stated by Will Travis, Executive Director of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission - how is a liveaboard in a paid marina slip considered 'Bay fill' any more than the commercial marina itself? The marina pays public agencies for the opportunity to conduct business on publicly-owned waters, and the liveaboard pays the marina. Is it that a commercial entity - read: wealthy corporation - has more rights to the open waters than individual taxpayers? I think it's time for the BCDC to unambiguously acknowledge that they have no jurisdiction over liveaboards in commercial or public marinas, and to notify the marinas. Properly managed liveaboards add to the waterfront community in many ways.

J. Pluth
San Francisco

Executive Director Travis responds: "In response to an invitation from the editors of Latitude 38, I am planning on providing them with a more extensive discussion of BCDC's authority over boats. I hope that upon reading that article you will agree that there is a reasonable rationale behind the Legislature's decision to have BCDC exercise control over how the Bay is used, that BCDC does its best not to micro-manage marinas, and that the Commission has stretched the law as far as possible to accommodate people who choose to live on boats."

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

Subscriptions / Classifieds / 'Lectronic Latitude / Home

© 2001 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.