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That's right, as of 4 p.m. on October 19, Harbormaster Capt. Gerardo Sanchez Lias announced that the marina may not accept any new berth rental agreements. This includes the berths at La Isla, as well as all those at Marina Mazatlan. This applies to those who had reservations - even if prepaid - as well. If your boat was not physically in the marina on October 19, you may not enter. If she was here and you take her out, you cannot return.

Why is this happening? What we've been told is that Marina Mazatlan, along with the other marinas owned by Grupo Sidek-Situr, are for sale. And that Marina Mazatlan is to be auctioned off on November 9. According to Capt. Sanchez, a group of minority stockholders has sued Marina Mazatlan/Grupo Sidek-Situr in an attempt to get to be the first to bid on and buy Marina Mazatlan at "half-price." There well might be another side of the story.

Anyway, the impact on cruisers is as follows: If you had plans to come into Marina Mazatlan, forget it. There will be lines strung across the fairways to prevent after-hours entry, and security guards are prepared to enforce it. According to Capt. Sanchez, under Mexican law, even those who had prepaid reservations are not considered to have valid contracts for berth rental. Cruisers who did prepay may apply for refunds by contacting the marina at marinmaz at For now, the telephone number from the States is 011-6-916-77-99 - but it's our understanding that there will be a nationwide telephone format change on either the 11th or 17th of November. Please pass the word along.

Anne Kelty
Michaelanne, Whitby 42
Marina Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico

Anne - Thanks for the information. We have more news on the situation at Marina Mazatlan in this month's Sightings.


Enough already! That picture you always hype as Secret Love crossing in front of the ship during the Big Boat Series is only a product of telephoto magic. Blow it up and read the sail numbers. That's why racers are required to have the numbers, for positive identification.

The yacht you keep running a photo of is actually Aleta, a Peterson 46 with a blue striped hull, single wheel, with white sails. If you go to the hallway by the men's room of the St. Francis YC, you'll see a photo of Secret Love, which clearly has two wheels and brown sails - and therefore is quite different. If you were to enlarge the photo, you would also see a bow wave of the ship in front of the yacht. A real photo of Secret Love in front of the ship would also have had two crew on the bow.

In any event, we on Secret Love were not the first - or last - to cross in front of a ship, only the first to be cited.

Six or seven months after this, a large cruising ketch could not tack, jibe, motor, or otherwise avoid a ship, and hit one, breaking off her bowsprit. Your comment was effectively, "Too bad they'll miss the cruising season."

Major editorial stances are fine, but establish and publish the truth, and be consistent in your comments.

R. 'Longy' Schuster
Southern California

R. - You're correct that the boat in the photograph we've run several times is not Secret Love at all. Here's the story. The photo was taken many years ago by the Wanderer, who back then was also covering racing. When other editors subsequently wanted a photo of that incident, they pulled out the next shot in the sequence, as they wanted to avoid using the same shot over and over. Alas, neither they nor the Wanderer realized that what looked like another shot in a sequence was actually a shot of Aleta. Thanks for alerting us to the error.

Our editorial stance has always been the same: 1) Racing boats can't cross too close in front of ships if we're to continue to be able to race in the Central Bay, and 2) If a cruising boat sails into the side of a ship, it's the cruising boat's fault.


In your August Changes there was a letter by George and Anita Rishell of the Passport 51 Konig that read, "Our trip was uneventful - except when we got into dense fog off Coos Bay and asked the Coast Guard to guide us in." After guiding the Rishells into Coos Bay, the Coast Guard did a safety inspection and cited the couple for two minor violations - which made them very angry. The final quote from the Rishells regarding their displeasure with the Coasties and the citations: "That's your tax dollars and our's hard at work."
I'd like to ask the Rishells, in the future, to leave me and my tax dollars out of their correspondence. Each year the Coasties risk - and lose - their lives helping people who are 'in a fog'. That's my tax dollars at work. I say they should keep inspecting and citing for violations no matter how small. I, for one, don't mind paying.

Kent Sapp
Winchester Bay, Oregon

Readers - The Coast Guard routinely conducts safety inspections on boats that ask them for assistance. We have no objection.


It's been a year since we entered Mexico with the Baja Ha-Ha 2000, and our thoughts are with all of those novitiates who have joined the class of 2001 and are sailing to Mexico for the first time. What a difference a year makes! We made it all the way to Manzanillo - before we had to return to Vancouver for a time. So what have we learned in a year?

1) Never underestimate the generosity of the community of cruisers. Our land life together never netted such a supportive community. Assisted by the Amigo, Picante, and Chubasco nets on SSB, and the local VHF nets, we were able to glean everything from current weather reports, to help with the installation of our SSB, to 'treasures of the bilge' - which are items to trade for 'coconuts'.

2) Learn some Spanish, and then try it out on the locals - who have been both kind and patient with our 'Spanglish', and who enjoy a good joke when we direct it toward ourselves.

3) Respect the fact that Mexico is not the USA or Canada, and savor the differences. Among other things, this means there can be misunderstandings. For example, when we had our boat hauled for "pressure washing" and a bottom job in Mazatlan this spring, we were surprised that this yard's version of "pressure washing" was an 80-year-old man with a rag and a bucket of seawater. When we complained, the yard sent out two, strong 16-year-olds with more rags and buckets in hand. More pressure, you know!

4) Don't take boat breakdowns personally or think that you are unique in having problems. Yours is not a possessed vessel on which you have been duped into spending your life-savings. She's a machine with logical explanations for her malfunctions. On the other hand, do not expect all mechanics to care about your boat as much as you do. So learn about the guts of your boat, and expect wear and tear that comes with a vessel in motion.

5) Do not skip the stark beauty and bountiful wildlife of the Sea of Cortez. Yes, it gets hot in the summer, but the snorkeling and fishing are spectacular.

6) Learn to say 'hello' and 'good-bye'. We have collected a book of cards and photos of the wonderful cruisers with whom we have shared many happy potlucks, and frustrating help sessions over the past 3,000 miles. It is often difficult to pull up the anchor or untie those docklines after sharing so many good times with 'strangers', but the joy of entering a new anchorage and discovering familiar boats on the hook makes up for the twinges of the good-byes.

Enjoy the adventure!

George & Sonia Kuperis
C'est Si Bon II, F/P Fidji Cat 39
Vancouver, B.C. / Panama or Bust in 2002!

George and Sonia - It's wonderful to hear that you're back on your boat and headed to Panama, as last we heard you had to interrupt your cruise for a medical issue. As for your advice to this year's cruisers, we second everything you say.


Sometimes I agree with your editorial opinions, but when it comes to your 'use it or lose it' notion on boat slips, you could be way off base. The subject came up one time at our yacht club, and a member told about a boat on his dock that hadn't been out of a slip in a long time, had heavy growth on the bottom, dirty topsides and so forth. In any event, one day the owner - dressed in a business suit with a young lady on his arm - came down the dock, climbed aboard, went below, put the boards in, closed the hatch, and didn't come out for about an hour. Who is to say that the owner wasn't 'using' his boat? The subject never came up at another meeting.

Relax, you're starting to sound like one of them.

Ed Greene
Santa Rosa

Ed - In other words, it's fine with you and your yacht club if some folks are denied access to the water just so Gary Condit wannabes can occupy a slip exclusively for afternoon nookie? It's encouraging to know that you and your yacht club have your priorites in order when it comes to the use of limited public resources.


Many thanks for the brilliant, moving, sensational and everlasting cover photo of Ocean Planet sailing to weather on our glorious Bay. I was wondering how Latitude would deal with the events of September 11, and I was pleased with your perfectly clear reflections of my own feelings about the tragedy and how we should carry on. You set just the right tone, and I appreciate how this must have been the most difficult of all issues to publish since the very first one - which I remember reading way back then.

Since then, after many years racing and daysailing on the Bay, we have become perhaps your most far-flung regular landlocked readers, living in Kathmandu for the last 16 years. We tried to keep up racing on the Bay during the summers, hoping the Cal 20 class would put together a racing schedule that better fit our summer visits to the U.S. Alas, the class seems to have faded somewhat, and last year we finally donated our beloved Great Egret to the Richmond YC Foundation, stopping the monthly hemorrhage of dry storage fees. We get Latitude in Kathmandu by having it sent to a friend who has diplomatic pouch privileges. This means it only gets sent to Washington, D.C., in the mail, then comes to Nepal in his pouch.

Although we sold our boat, we still sail the Bay on a friend's boat - and we sail small boats off the beach at our summer house in Mattituck, which is on the North Fork of eastern Long Island, New York. Our home water there is Great Peconic Bay, which lies between the North Fork and the South Fork, home of the famous Hamptons. This is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world, and we say that having sailed the California coast, made a passage from Hawaii to Seattle, chartered in Thailand, and sailed traditional proas in Sri Lanka. On Peconic Bay we have Hobie cats, Lasers and Optimists, but my favorite craft is still the sailboard, which I learned to sail in about 1982 in Berkeley. Having windsurfed Berkeley and the Cityfront, I won't rig a sail - which are all Windwings from Berkeley - for the board on Long Island unless it's blowing 20-25. There was only that much wind about five times this summer in non-storm conditions. No matter how tempting the wind, nobody wants to be caught out in a thunderstorm.

Oh well. As your readers point out in recent letters about the Chesapeake, East Coast sailing is different, with its own advantages and disadvantages. Weather variety, variable wind directions and velocities, and warm and approachable water for small children have all contributed to our spending more and more time each summer sailing small boats right off the beach. But for real sailing, as we know it, I still prefer San Francisco. My favorite locale will always be short tacking up the Cityfront seeking flood relief, calling for room to tack, and leaving Crissy (now Blackaller) to starboard.

Our son had his first sail out of Sausalito at 16 days old, and one day when the babysitter didn't show, even went racing as a baby in a basket on the cabin sole of an Olson 30. At the leeward mark we forgot he was down there, and he got stuffed with the big orange spinnaker! Nonetheless, he grew up loving sailing, spent many summers in the junior program at the California YC at Marina del Rey - while we were spending time with my mom - and was a two-time Cal 20 Junior National Champ. I'm proud to say he is now a senior sailing for Dartmouth.

But back to September 11. It was a glorious clear morning and we were sitting on the Long Island beach, 75 miles east of New York City, watching a lone gull scratch the wet sand for tiny crabs when the phone call came. By choice we don't have a TV at the beach house, so we had to visit a neighbor to see the news. We were numb for the rest of the day, and it seemed the only appropriate gesture we could make was to try to carry on - as Latitude suggested. So we took a Hobie out at sunset, and the sun, sinking through the smoke of lower Manhattan, was the reddest I have ever seen - including the sun setting through the smoke from a huge fire in the Santa Monica mountains over 30 years ago.
Now we have to fly back to Kathmandu. I'm hoping the U.S. doesn't precipitate a disaster in Pakistan which will have an immediate effect on our lives in Nepal. To keep the good thought, I would love a large print of your October cover. Why don't you print a poster of Ocean Planet? I'll bet lots of readers would buy one.

Charles Gay
Los Angeles

Charles - Thanks for the kind words. We've given the cover photo and rights to it to Ocean Planet owner Bruce Schwab, who intends to make a poster out of it. We'll let you know about the details when they become available.


My wife and I recently returned from a four-year cruise aboard our trawler Gracias. We departed L.A. - an awful place - and travelled to Panama. We then returned to L.A. and sold the boat. Currently, we're in Seattle looking for our next boat. Based on our experience, we'd like to comment on a couple of recent issues: carrying credit cards and carrying guns.

We agree with Latitude's comments about Visa cards being accepted just about everywhere any credit card is accepted. We nonetheless found that it's also very handy to have at least three debit cards onboard - one in my name, one in my wife's name, and one in my daughter's name - all tied to the same account. The reason for having three is that for some reason the maximum amount we could get from Latin American ATM machines per day was $200 per card. And we could easily exceed the $200 per day limit while provisioning. Heck, we could probably exceed the daily limit just stocking up on alcohol. And a typical yard bill would generally exceed $600. Having three cards meant that we could take care of most of our financial needs in one day. Before having three cards, it would take us three days to fill the larder - a real pain.

Reader Loren Simpson wondered what other retired police officers thought about carrying handguns aboard while cruising - something that's always a controversial issue. I'm a retired L.A. cop, and we carried a handgun aboard for four years. On the next cruise, however, we plan to leave the gun at home. We didn't feel there was a need for one, and eventually I was more concerned about the authorities finding the gun than having to use it. As some folks might know, it's illegal for all cruisers - even retired cops - to have handguns in Mexico. That's not true in other Central American countries, but it's just not practical carrying a gun. We hid ours and never admitted to having it when stopped by the navy - which happened five times in four years.

It's noteworthy that we also traveled with a large, but very friendly Airedale and a yappy Laso Opso. I think the dogs were a much greater deterrent to theft than anything else we could have done. We rarely locked our boat, even in Costa Rica and Panama, where theft is a huge problem.

When I was a cop, I viewed my handgun as a tool of the trade, and like Loren, was rarely without one. Working in areas with high crime rates does make you a bit paranoid. Even with this new world that we may be living in, I don't feel there is a need for a handgun onboard in Latin America - although I'm not so certain about the rest of the world. I really don't think that terrorists are a threat to cruisers - but I didn't think they would be a threat to office workers in New York either. So, who knows?

Loren had one last question about identifying himself as a former law enforcement officer. I never did, for several reasons. First, they don't care. The Port Captain, Immigration and Customs were only interested in our documents. They didn't care what I did for a living, and why should they? Second, had I mentioned to the Mexican Navy that I was retired officer, I'm sure they would have begun a 'narcotics search' - Loren knows what I mean - looking for a handgun.

If Loren or any other readers have any questions about handguns aboard, they can email me directly at mvgracias at I'm not sure I'll have all the correct answers, but I'll throw in my two cents.

Tom and Judy Blandford
M/V Gracias (formerly)


I'd like to comment on the September edition issues of credit cards and guns. We've been cruising between California and the Caribbean for a number of years now, and can report that Visa is clearly accepted the most, followed by MasterCard in distant second. We have rarely seen American Express accepted. I would recommend carrying two cards, one of them being stored in a secure place in case the first one is lost or stolen. It's also a good idea to have the expiration dates at least a year apart, as we found that there are a lot of places that do not accept the card during the last month it's good. Plus, trying to connect up with a card halfway around the world is not easy.

I'm very much against having a gun onboard as it only invites more trouble. There are a lot of countries that require you to check guns in when you arrive and retrieve them when you leave. So if a situation arises when you think you might need your gun, you may not even have it. You could, of course, hide the gun and later decide to use it. It may save your life, but it also might land you in some Third World jail. And unless you plan to kill someone with your gun, it rarely acts as a deterrent. In situations where we're concerned about our safety, we travel and/or anchor with one or more boats. As far as we know, there has never been an attack on a group of boats. It is usually the lone boat anchored in a remote place that is subject to problems.

We did travel the coast of Colombia with Fancy Free - (see Changes) - but would have done the trip alone had we not found someone. Colombia had some of the most warm and friendly people we've ever met, except for one incident, we weren't ever concerned for our safety. In the one place we were told it wasn't safe, it wouldn't have mattered if we had a gun - unless we wanted to get into a John Wayne-style shootout.

Peter and Nancy Bennett
Swan 46, Destiny
San Francisco


Margaret Weller and Conrad Hodson recently recommended taking just a single credit card when cruising. In my experience, that's not a good idea. For instance, even though the balance on my Visa card had been paid off before I left the States, every time I tried to use it in Fiji I was told that I needed to call the credit card company. That's not always easy in the South Pacific. At $3 per minute, I would get one of those recordings that said, "For X, press #1; For Y, press #2" - and so forth. It wasn't until I got back home four months later that I was able to make contact with my Visa card company to answer a simple question and get the card reactivated.

As for American Express cards, when cruising through Fiji and Vanuatu I found only one bank that would give cash advances on the card. American Express may be great in the States and other places, but it's definitely not number one in the South Pacific.

At the time I cruised, there were few ATMs in Fiji and none in Vanuatu. But there was an upside to it: I didn't spend much money there.

Bobbi Coggins
Northern California


A reader wrote in asking about the desirability of roller furling mainsails. In June of 2000, I bought a new Celestial 50 pilothouse in San Rafael, which came equipped with a full-batten main and typical slab reefing. During commissioning, I had the boat equipped with a FurlerBoom system and UK full-batten main.

Having sailed the boat both with traditional boom and with in-boom furling, I can state there is no apparent difference in performance. There are two costs, however. One is friction and the other is financial.

Since I assume the owner is normally going to want to hoist, furl and reef the sail from the cockpit, there are a fair amount of turns the halyard and furling lines are going to have to make - more than with a furling jib. Even so, my wife can hoist the rather large main in low gear from the cockpit - albeit slowly. At one time, we thought of replacing the manual two-speed winch with an electric winch, but that is again even more costly.

As for the financial costs, they were $6,500 for boom and hardware, $4,000 for the new main from UK, and about $2,500 for the rigging. My stick had to come down to do the job properly, so that was most of the rigging cost. The FurlerBoom is from Denmark. It was several thousand dollars less expensive than some of the others - at least at that time due to the exchange rate. However, you have to deal directly with them, and there are customs and importation issues to deal with. The system is engineered for the boat, but the FurlerBoom people need to have recent drawings or the boat needs to be a recent design so that they can do the engineering properly. Even so, installing it took some finagling and extra work on the part of the sailmaker and rigger.

Was it worth it? If you wind up doing a lot of reefing and furling - which we did as we went around the Gulf of Mexico, the Keys, Bahamas, and East Coast - where winds seem more variable than the West Coast - I think it is. For casual Bay sailors who start out with light winds and only have to reef once during the day, I'm not sure the cost is justified. But there is also a safety factor of not having to go on deck that is hard to quantify.

When it comes to sail shape, the furled in-boom main has better shape when reefed than does the genoa when reefed - probably because of the full battens and the relatively short length of a boom versus the luff of the genoa. And extreme reefing is even better than with the headsail. I don't have any pictures of the sail when reefed, but there is a good picture of the main under light reaching winds in Do the search for Celestial and 50 feet.

Greg and Jan Vach
Gregarious, Celestial 50
Annapolis, Maryland


Last evening I was lying on the deck staring at the masthead, remembering a glorious sail on the Bay with my parents - their first ever - and I got to wondering what the heck I would do if the mast were to tumble down? Besides ducking. I've never seen this discussed anywhere - other than in reports that so-and-so lost their rig on the way to/from somewhere. I don't spend a lot of time cogitating on the unlikely, and I have gone upstairs to check on the health of the fittings, but stuff happens to even well-prepared boats. There has to be something to do after saying, "Aw, shit!"

That was also a terrific lightning storm we had in early October. Something about sitting ten feet from a 60-ft lightning rod concerned me. Where should I hide, as there's the potential of a lot of voltage coming into a very small space?

Nick Salvador
No Strings Attached

Nick - Dismastings don't happen that often, but they are major mishaps, so everybody needs to plan for them. Personal safety, of course, is of utmost importance, so it's worth taking a few seconds to figure out the best places to 'hide' if the rig starts falling. Serious injury from falling rigs is relatively rare, although one crewmember on a boat returning from the last West Marine Pacific Cup was paralyzed after being hit by part of the falling rig. If we remember correctly, he was standing back in the cockpit.

There are all kinds of dismastings. Sometimes just the top third or so folds over and you've got a dangler. If you're in the Bay, it's not too big a deal. If you're halfway to Hawaii, you could be faced with the decision of either trying to cut the rig down - which could be very difficult - or having to make the long trip to port with lots of unstable metal swinging wildly above your head.

As in the case with broken bones, a clean break of the mast is often best, because then you can throw most of the rig over the side before it smashes a hole in the hull of the boat. This always sounds much easier to do than it really is, because you have to cut all the sails and rigging away to release the spar, and there's always much more of it than anyone realizes. In addition, there are often great loads on the pins that you might have assumed you could easily pull to let the spar go. Having to cut through large diameter standing rigging with a dull hacksaw can be a long and difficult - if not impossible - task. That's why many boats carry heavy duty cable cutters. Getting rid of a mast at sea isn't easy, because it's tough to move around the boat without getting hurt, and because the boat's motion is suddenly so much quicker.

However, there are lucky dismastings, too. A couple of years ago, the Karl and Jill Matzke family of Palo Alto had the rig fall over on their Kennex 445 Moondance while sailing off Costa Rica. Miraculously, the spar stayed on the boat and didn't break. After minor repairs in Puntarenas, they were able to restep it and continue to use it for the trip that took them most of the way around the world.

We're not lightning experts, but it's best to be off the boat if you can. If that's not possible, we've always hooked a big battery cable to the upper shrouds and thrown the bottom half into the water, hoping the bolt would take the path of least resistance to the water. Naturally, you'd want to undo all electronic equipment. And since lightning bolts often jump from the mast to the engine block, don't linger in that area.


I read with interest the October letter entitled A Liability Form For Crewmembers - and your response. Since I am a lawyer with experience with these issues, I wanted to write on the topic. Please note, however, that I am not providing legal advice.

First, let me say that your response to the letter was correct on several points - particularly that people can sue almost anybody for nearly anything, even if the claims are completely groundless. For the most part, there is nothing that can be done about it, unless a lot of money is spent on a lawyer. Ultimately, the groundless cases are exposed and/or thrown out by the court, but not without paying a lawyer some money and the defendant having had to waste a bunch of time.

Now, to the main question about the liability of boatowners. The bottom line is that sailing is a hazardous activity and subject to a doctrine known as 'primary assumption of the risk'. Other sports - such as football, baseball, skiing, etc. - also fall within this doctrine. The theory of this doctrine is that a participant in a sport cannot sue another participant for injuries that arise because of the inherent dangers of the sport.

Thus the only way a plaintiff can prevail on a claim in such a situation - remember a suit can always be filed even though groundless - is to show that the co-participant intentionally harmed the co-participant or engaged in reckless conduct outside the normal activities of the sport. For example, in the sport of sailing, if a crewmember is hit by a boom, or falls into the water, or trips over some lines, those situations are inherent to the activity of sailing, so liability should not be found. Conversely, if a crewmember punched another, or intentionally pushed another overboard, then liability could be found because said actions are not inherent in the sport.

Steven M. Cvitanovic, Esq.

Readers - We've been contacted by a maritime lawyer who specializes in boatowner liability issues who wants to write an article on the subject. We hope to publish it soon.


A few years ago, I took off for a year to sail the Milk Run to Mexico and the South Pacific. I am thinking of taking another cruising jaunt, perhaps on the East Coast and in the Caribbean. However, I would like to have the flexibility of being able to safely store my boat in a marina for up to six weeks from time to time in order to fly home. I wonder if you or your readers would know whether this is feasible. Would I have to hire someone to keep an eye on things? Which marinas in the Caribbean would you recommend? What about Venezuela?

Dean Dietrich

Dean - The 'one foot in each world' style of cruising has become extremely popular, in part because there are so many places to safely leave one's boat. There are safe places in virtually all but the smallest islands in the Caribbean, but we'd particularly recommend Puerto Rico, the British Virgins, St. Martin, Antigua, St. Lucia, Grenada and Trinidad. Grenada and Trinidad are the better choices if you'll be leaving your boat for hurricane season. Lots of folks still keep their boats at Puerto La Cruz and other places in Venezuela, which has the downside of being slightly more difficult to fly in and out of.

Since we're on the subject, we might as well run down the list for West Coast cruisers heading south. There are a number of places in Mexico, of course. Barillas Marina in El Salvador has become popular, as the staff is extremely helpful and friendly. Los Sueños Marina in Costa Rica is part of a swanky new resort, but is on the pricey side. Costa Rica also has Banana Bay Marina. The Pedro Miguel Boat Club on Miraflores Lake inside the Panama Canal is a terrific place to leave a boat, and we understand new options are also soon to become available on both ends of the Canal. Up in the Bocas de Toro region of the Caribbean side of Panama near Costa Rica, there are two marinas that specialize in long term storage. Further north is the Guatemala's Rio Dulce, which has long been popular with cruisers wanting to leave their boats. Cartagena, Colombia, on the South American continent, is yet another extremely popular place with cruisers.

The bottom line is that 'commuter cruising' is possible in all popular sailing areas of the world.


A couple of Latitudes caught up with us here in Venezuela and prompted this letter. First, however, I must report that Venezuela is a wonderful place to cruise. There are lots of beautiful, quiet, picturesque anchorages, and the hospitable locals are wonderfully proud of their country. Puerto La Cruz and Isla Margarita are great places to spend time, as well - although food isn't cheap. But the fuel prices make up for it. This morning we took on 508 litres of diesel for 25,000 Bolivars. That may sound like a lot, but it works out to just 25-cents U.S. to the gallon. I wonder how many gallons I could stash in my bilge to bring back to the U.S.

What prompted me to write, however, was your solicitation of information about sailing in Chesapeake Bay - which we plan to make our base when we return to the U.S. By the way, we started cruising from San Francisco in '95 and have seen both sides of Central America, the East Coast, and are finishing our second year in the Caribbean. We've passed through the Chesapeake several times on trips up and down the East Coast, and found it to be wonderful. The premier Chesapeake Bay cruising guide has about 250 pages - each page of which shows four to six anchorages among the many estuaries. The sailing is pretty good, but the generally shallow depths tend to put a pretty mean chop in the water when there's a good wind. By most accounts, the biggest drawback to the area are 'sea nettles', the jellyfish that deter swimmers from midsummer on. This is particularly true in the lower reaches, which get less fresh water from the Susquehanna River.

Annapolis is a wonderful place to visit, reprovision, and to find services and parts. There are plenty of places to anchor - except when boat shows are going on. The local bus service is inexpensive and excellent to West Marine, shopping malls and downtown. I'm also told that Washington, D.C. - which is up the Potomac River - has an excellent anchorage close to the Capitol area as well.

As Latitude noted, the Chesapeake is centrally located for trips to New England, Maine and Canada, or south to Florida, the Bahamas, Cuba, and for the more serious, the Eastern Caribbean. In fact, it's this central location that has prompted Helen and me to decide to settle on the East Coast when we return to the U.S. I think we would get 'cabin fever' in San Francisco and the Delta after getting used to a variety of cruising destinations.

Roger Bohl
Ariadne II, Stamas 44
Isla La Tortuga, Venezuela

Roger - Not many people think of petroleum when they think of Venezuela, but the United States imports more oil from them than any other country. When we bought fuel for Big O in Puerto La Cruz in the mid-'90s, it was selling for about 40-cents U.S. a gallon. It's nice to hear that the price has dropped. We hope that crime against cruisers has also dropped, as it was a serious problem back then.


On July 1, I received an email from my insurance company informing me that as of August 31, my boat insurance would be cancelled! However, they advised me, if I wished I could continue coverage for the remainder of the insured period for an additional premium of $178 - but that I would not be covered for named storms. I know of one other boatowner cruising in Mexico who had a similar thing happen to him. As I understand it, in his case the insurance was simply transferred to another adjuster at no extra cost.

Fortunately, I was in the States at the time I got the information, so I could contact the insurance company and discuss the situation with them directly. Had I been in some remote part of the South Pacific, I dread to think what the consequences could have been. The insurance company told me that they had been audited, and that the auditors' recommendation was to cancel these policies because of high claims they had experienced in the Caribbean and because of future weather predictions.

My question - and I think I know the answer before I ask it - is whether they were legally able to do what they did? After all, I had a contract for insurance for a year, and without any reason on my part, they cancelled it. I did receive a refund for the balance of the policy, but how can these policies be worth the paper they are written on? Why bother to take out a policy for a year as opposed to month by month?

I won't name the company, as I don't think it's relevant. But if there are any other cruisers out there who have had a similar experience, perhaps they could write and let us know about it.

Ray Taylor
Sundancer II
Mazatlan, Mexico

Ray - We don't quite understand it, but insurance companies seem to be able to get away with stuff that just doesn't seem right. Seemingly being able to back out of contracts - such as you describe - is just one example, but certainly not the worst. A number of years ago, an insurance company that offered hard-to-get cruising insurance to members of the Seven Seas Cruising Association - and collected lots of premiums - shortly thereafter went out of business. If that wasn't bad enough, they neglected to get the word out to many of their policy holders, who were sailing around the world assuming they had coverage when they had none. Does the government not have industry regulators to prevent such abuses?

The best advice we can give you is to go with an insurance broker who has been in business for a long time, and who hopefully can place your insurance with a highly-rated American underwriter - for which there are theoretically some consumer safeguards. Always make sure that you actually receive your policy. You might even call the company to confirm that the policy is not counterfeit, as that stunt has been pulled before by a small minority of unscrupulous brokers.


Is anyone interested in a non-spinnaker class for next year's HDA season? I'm told that five entries are needed to form such a class. Sailing without a chute is less expensive and requires less crew, so it might be a popular idea. Anyone interested should let Lynda at the YRA office know. Her number is (415) 771-9500.

Val Clayton
Northern California


Having read The Abandonment of Bonaire article in the September issue, I have a couple of comments.

The first regards the decision of the crew to take the EPIRB with them. Presuming the EPIRB was properly registered, if it were automatically activated, a rescue effort would not have been mandated until the registered owner had been contacted ashore. In this case, he would have reported that the vessel had been abandoned and the crew picked up.

It would have been easier for the insurance company to make their decision regarding a salvage effort if the EPIRB had been left aboard, since 'no signal' would probably have indicated that Bonaire was still afloat, while the automatically activated EPIRB would probably have indicated that she was lost. All concerned are probably aware of this by now.

P.S. Just to be picky, a 'Pan' call should have been made rather than a Mayday. A Mayday call is for immediate peril, while a 'Pan' is for danger which may well lead to peril. That's not the exact definition, but I'm too preoccupied to look it up.

Ray Conrady
Aboard M/V APL

Ray - The Coast Guard specifically told the skipper of Bonaire that the EPIRB was not to be used to indicate the location of the vessel once she was abandoned. We presume that meant not after they got off, and not if she sank several days after they got off. We're not completely sure what the problem would have been, but we assume it was to prevent any interference with any other possible emergency situations.


We just finished reading the gripping Changes that recounted the grounding of Alex Moyer's Cascade 42 Neosol - and are relieved the tale had a happy ending for the boat and all concerned. The seamanship and creative teamwork of those rescuers in the Nuevo Vallarta community was most impressive, and we commend them for their efforts in refloating Neosol.

As builders of the Cascade 42 hull, we would like to remind our fellow sailors that we build into every hull the ability to absorb a great deal of punishment. Our hulls are among the few still constructed entirely of woven fiberglass. They have endured collisions, such as the Cascade 29 with a freighter at sea (Latitude 38, July 1999), the deck removing propane explosion of a Cascade 36 (an early spring article in Latitude 38, 1992) or the many groundings of intrepid Cascade sailors around the world.

With Murphy alive and well, we feel that sooner or later our 'bulletproof' hulls will be tested. Better than insurance, they will bring you home!

Stu Whitcomb
Cascade Yachts, Inc.
Portland, Oregon

Readers - Cascade has built over 850 fiberglass boats since 1954.


I've just read your Coastal Cleanup Day article in the September issue. I work for the Environmental Health Department for Humboldt County, and went to the Dockwalkers training for my area. I find your tone of voice and certain statements in this article absolutely abhorrent. I think the Coastal Commission, Dockwalker volunteers, and boaters alike can agree that there are many things that pollute our water - including household hazardous waste, vehicle waste, and much more. The California Coastal Commission is in charge of protecting the water of California, and the Dockwalkers program is one way that they succeed in this.

Whether you agree with the California Coastal Commission or government agencies in general, the volunteers are not at fault for any problems with the Dockwalkers program. Attacking volunteers for eating meat, wearing cotton or synthetic clothing, having a lawn, or driving to work, is not an issue, and is a completely unfair reason for putting them down. These people do not become Dockwalkers so that they can yell at or have control over boaters. The volunteers give up their weekends to help in any way they can. They should be given a pat on the back and, good heavens, thanked by mariners for doing their bit in protecting the water for all - mariners included.

The attitude portrayed in your response suggests that boaters know everything and that environmentalists should go somewhere else. Guess what? Not all boaters know how to properly care for their boats while not polluting the waters. That statement should not be a shock to anyone, as there will always be some people that are aware and others who are not. Thus Dockwalkers are just trying to educate those that are unaware, not in a condescending manner, but as peers.

It is too bad that you can't respect the work that is being done, thank the Dockwalkers for trying, and give Miriam Gordon suggestions on how to improve her program instead of putting down everything it has to offer. Nobody is perfect: not boaters, environmentalists, nor the government and its programs.

Louise Jeffrey
Humboldt County

Louise - Nobody is asking for perfection from our government agencies, just a little common sense so our taxpayer funded environmental efforts can be respected. The first step in solving any problem is understanding it, so an intelligent response can be formulated. If the problem is water pollution, the first step should be to identify the primary sources of that pollution. Miriam Gordon, the brains behind the Dockwalker program, apparently failed to take this elementary but critical first step. As a result, for all we know Dockwalker volunteers might create more pollution in the process of taking the training and travelling to docks than their efforts would save.

Suppose you, as a Dockwalker, engage a boatowner in pollution education and he/she asks how much pollution is caused by boats. What are you going to tell him? If you refer to your Dockwalker's manual, it's worthless, as this most basic factual information is nowhere to be found. But we'll give you a little tip. Coastal Commission Executive Director Peter Douglas told Latitude that boats are a "minimal" source of water pollution. Maybe you'd like to make a note of that on the cover of each booklet you hand out to boatowners.

To each their own, of course, but if our goal was truly cleaner water, we'd want to aggressively go after the major causes of water pollution, not just hassle boaters who cause a few drops here and there. Unfortunately, the overwhelming sources of water pollution are average citizens on land such as you and us, and various government agencies. Do you know how many days California beaches had to be closed last year because of pollution? The next time you go in for Dockwalker "training", why don't you ask how many of them were caused by boat pollution? If they give you the correct answer, you'll find yourself wanting to direct your water quality efforts elsewhere.

By the way, it certainly does makes a difference if Dockwalker volunteers drive cars, eat meat, have lawns, and wear clothes using materials that required the use of pesticides. Why? Would you have faith in a cosmetologist whose unkempt hair was full of lice? Would you trust the medical advice of a doctor who didn't wash his hands after a prostrate exam? Would you buy a suit from a tailor who had different length sleeves? You wouldn't because you'd have had good reason to believe that they either didn't know or care about their supposed area of expertise. Well, the same thing is true for fossil fuel-burning, meat-eating, lawn-mowing, pesticide assisted clothes wearing Dockwalker volunteers who either don't know or don't care about what they're professing to protect. It's as absurd as the Reverend Jessie Jackson having an extramarital affair while ministering to President Clinton about his extramarital affair.

If volunteers want to give up their weekends to help reduce water pollution, that's fine with us - as long as they're armed with facts and willing to go after the real sources of water pollution. In the meantime, they should refrain from getting in the faces of mariners, many of whom are more knowledgeable on the subject of water pollution than they. As for ourselves, we're happy to do more than our part to reduce water pollution, and to encourage other mariners to do the same. But we're not going to sit back and once again allow mariners to be made scapegoats for the shortcomings of others.


My husband and I are boatowners and boat operators. In order to become safe and responsible on the water, we took several Coast Guard Auxiliary classes - and subsequently joined the Auxiliary. We are vessel examiners and volunteer Dockwalkers for the California Coastal Commission.

As Dockwalkers, we take the opportunity to chat with other boatowners - but only if they are interested or if they initiate the conversation. Our task is public education only. Our training emphasizes a positive approach. We are never to criticize boaters, simply try to make them aware of their surroundings -and again, only if they want to hear it.

The Dockwalker Program is supported by the California Coastal Commission and the United States Coast Guard. Dockwalkers do not have, nor will they ever have, any authority. We support a clean and green policy because it makes boating more pleasurable, and because it makes sense. We desire to leave a legacy for future generations of a marine environment that supports pleasure and commerce.

We hope you'll reevaluate your reaction to the program. If your article was the result of a personal experience with a Dockwalker, we apologize on their behalf. We believe that all of us are sincere in our efforts to educate and assist the boating public in maintaining and improving our waterways and the boating image.

Bob and Faye Graham
Northern California

Bob and Faye - We share your belief that clean water is best and makes boating more pleasurable. And what San Francisco Bay sailor doesn't know that dirty brown water is ebb - and pollution - from upstream, while the greener and cleaner water is flood from the ocean?

We wouldn't find the Dockwalker program quite as objectionable if the volunteer's manual were completely rewritten to reflect the true and comprehensive facts about the sources of water pollution. If that were done, of course, most Dockwalkers would realize that going after boatowners was time ill spent compared to going after bigger sources such as - we're not making this up - Chinese restaurants. In fact, we suggest that you and Miriam Gordon get together and do a little research into what percentage of water pollution cases were caused by backed up sewers - sewers primarily clogged by the fat poured down the drains of Chinese restaurants? We think that both she and you will be stunned - and enlightened.

We don't for a minute doubt your sincerity and good intentions, which is why we urge you to demand facts about the sources of water pollution from Dockwalker trainers. If you're not afraid to ask simple questions, you won't become the chumps of what we view as a disinformation program intended to unfairly demonize mariners. We suspect that if Miriam Gordon has her wish, all boats would be removed from the Bay. But even if that happened, the reduction in water pollution would be insignificant.


While visiting Santa Barbara Harbor last week, I was visited by one of the Coastal Commission's volunteer 'dockwalkers'. After a greeting, I was given a gift pack that included an oil spill pad - of which I already had a dozen aboard - a cute tote bag and some literature. Since I will be out cruising in the near future, and I'll miss the Coastal Commission's survey on the plan, I'd like to give my opinion now.

I've owned my Cabo Rico 38 Silhouette about 3.5 years. Most of that time she was berthed at Richmond Municipal Marina, although at the end I had moved to Loch Lomond Marina in San Rafael. During that time, I've had Seashine come to my boat twice to clean the bilge, which was an oily mess. While in Richmond, there was an oil recovery tank on site so I could properly dispose of the engine oil after changing it. Even though some literature states Loch Lomond has such facilities, they don't. I had to go some five miles away to the San Rafael landfill site to turn in my used oil. In my opinion, every sizable marina should have an oil recovery site, a bilge pump out site, a holding tank pump-out facility, and a portable 'honey pot'. It makes no difference how many educational programs or Dockwalkers there might be, for without these facilities, you're missing what the marine community needs to keep our waters clean and unpolluted. The Santa Barbara Marina I was recently in had all these facilities within a short walking distance - and even had designated trash receptacles for soiled oil pads! Perhaps the Coastal Commission could do a survey of the marinas to see what working facilities they have?

My last point concerns human waste. My family has regularly walked a quarter mile each way - we called it the 'long hallway' - to use the 'land head' at our last marina, and regularly pumped out our holding tank at the fuel dock when going out for a sail. However, I was aware of many liveaboards who never took their boats out of their slips, who I never saw going down 'the long hallway'. At least we can assume their bilges aren't fouling the waterways, because they are never used. I hazard to guess that the same cannot be said for their holding tank/thru hull! I don't think it's asking too much of the boating community to have plugs installed in their boat/home's thru hull valve, unless they can show use of the pumpout facility or portable honey pot service.

As much as I dislike more personal freedom taken away, I believe the environment - especially in marinas with poor water flushing actions - is losing out to the irresponsible actions of a few boaters. Just how many yachts go three miles off the coast, for example, to pump out their tanks? Darned few! But I can't see how the Coastal Commission's prized Dockwalkers could make any impression on these problem mariners.

I believe that marina owners/operators should be required to install the necessary equipment to allow recreational boaters to easily comply with clean/green boating ideals. This includes restrooms near all the docks, and facilities for oil recovery, bilge recovery and holding tank pump-outs.

Captain Alan E. Wulzen
Cabo Rico 38, Silhouette
Fry's Harbor, Santa Cruz Island

Alan - You make some excellent points. But did you know that there's another option that's long been available in most places that would eliminate the need for walks down the 'long hallway' and/or using a holding tank? It's the Electra/San Marine Sanitation Treatment System that uses a combination of electricity and saltwater to kill coliform bacteria to meet EPA Type I standards for overboard discharge. It sounds expensive, but they cost a reasonable $849 for a system that can handle two heads. Lectra/San was recommended to us by the folks at Adventure Cat, who reported no problems after thousands of passengers had used theirs over a five-year period. We've had ours aboard Profligate for more than a year now, and once plumbed properly, it has worked fine. Several other Latitude employees are partners in a Ranger 33 that is also equipped with a Lectra/San that has worked well.


I believe there was a sailboat named Latitude in the movie Romancing The Stone that starred Michael Douglas. Do you recall her? If so, what became of her?

Stew Rayfield
Major USMC (Ret)

Stew - We didn't see the movie, so we don't know. Perhaps Mike Priest, who lines up vessels for the movies, might be able to tell us.


I'm Zach Taylor, one of four college graduates from Durango, Colorado, who recently decided to sail around the world. The catch is that none of us had ever set foot on a sailboat. Since we made the decision a year ago, we've all worked two jobs, read from a library of sailing books and magazines, met invaluable sailing friends, and shopped both coasts for the boat. We're currently living on and outfitting a Morgan Out-Island 41 in Miami, counting down the days until we start our world cruise. Would you be interested in reports on our trip?

Zach Taylor
Miami, Florida

Zach - We're always interested in cruising tales from our readers - particularly ones that are accompanied by photographs.


We got ahold of our very own copy of the September issue and enjoyed it very much. We thought you did a great job on covering the attack on Bob Medd and the wreck of TLC! And we know what kind of a deadline you were working under.

Two things. First, the article was mostly written by Suzy, and thus all quotes attributed to me were really hers - although I did add my two cents and double-checked the spelling. Mostly I spent my time trying to get the photographs I took to you in time for publication. Second, her name is spelled, S-U-Z-Y. Small points perhaps, but I just wanted to set the record straight.

Ken Mayer and Suzy O'Keefe
Wishful Thinking, Mariner Centaur 34
Bahia de los Angeles

Ken & Suzy - Thanks for that information, we're glad to be able to give proper attribution. See Sightings for new developments in the Bob Medd story.


Even though this is my first time off Fanning Island in almost seven years, I know Latitude very well because its one of the first things I ask for when a yacht arrives. Located halfway between Hawaii and Tahiti, Fanning is one of those idyllic looking islands. We're about 165 miles north of Christmas Island and part of the Republic of Kiribati - formerly the Gilbert and Ellis Island Colony. We have no electricity, no phone, no doctor, no plane, and no cars. But we do have one truck and one tractor. The 330 families living here are subsistence fisherman. Back when Fanning was a plantation, it was said to be one of the most beautiful islands in the world.

I'm a California surfer/sailor who came to Kiribati 23 years ago looking for good surf. Starting in '79 I lived the life of a South Seas island trader, visiting the islands by copra ship and surfing at every stop. I ended up getting married, and in '92 expanded our trading business to the Line Islands. Later that year I became a citizen of Kiribatis. I also made my first visit to Fanning - and discovered both year-round, world-class surf and a place I could call home. So I've been living here ever since. Often times I've had almost no money, but I've always had a rich life.

Times have been changing down here. Because of the United States' Jones Act, when a Norwegian Cruise Line does its Hawaiian cruises, it has to visit at least one foreign port. For many years it was Vancouver in the summer and Mexico in the winter. But about eight years ago, NCL began visiting Christmas Island. And in late '97 they 'discovered' Fanning. They have found the island to be so worthwhile for their cruises that they have built a new $400 million dollar super ship that carries 3,300 passengers and crew. NCL will soon visit Fanning weekly as part of a 7-day Hawaiian cruise. "Visit five Hawaiian Islands and Fanning, our private paradise, a paradise you may never want to leave," reads their website. NCL is in the process of spending $3 million on upgrading the island, building boardwalks, restrooms, restaurants, gift shops and such.

I realize that some folks in the Western World may view this as a negative development, but a Third World country such as Kiribati views this as an opportunity. As for myself, I would like to be constructive and use the opportunity to help others living on the nearby islands who don't have the same opportunity to sell their handicrafts. Since late 1997, NCL has made about 15 exploratory visits to Fanning with the World Discover and the Crystal Voyager. Every single handicraft the islanders were able to make sold out in the first three hours. With a ship three times bigger than any before her about to visit every week, opportunities are opening up.

For instance, there might be an opportunity for a limited group of people to form a partnership to buy a small yacht to travel among the other nearby islands - it's a triangle of about 800 miles - trading for their handicrafts, pearls and shells that later could be sold at Fanning on cruise ship day. Members of the group could, of course, come down for a certain part of each year to take part in the trading trips. I expect they would be two to six week cruises covering anywhere from two to five islands. Each group could bring down all the things the islanders need - such as trading goods, medicine, educational materials and mail.

If anyone is interested in such a concept and has ideas on how to bring it to reality, I'd like to hear about it. My email address is c/o pamacorbet at (The website is under construction). My phone is (775) 674-2999. Or mail can be sent to Chuck Corbett, Fanning Island, Republic of Kiribati.

Chuck Corbett
Fanning Island, Republic of Kiribati

Readers - Normally we wouldn't run a letter such as this, but it was filled with such interesting information that we couldn't resist.


I realize sailing is a white man's sport, but it seems to me if you are going to list all of the Bay Area talent on the Volvo Ocean Race, you were seriously remiss in not mentioning Melissa Purdy, in 'Lectronic Latitude on the 21st. As Tiburon's own sailing rockstar, she's a trimmer and helmsperson on Nautor Challenge.

P.S. I waited a week to drop you a note, figuring some woman would drop you a note and that you'd print an update. But I haven't seen anything so far.

David Demarest

David - Sailing may be a "white man's sport" to you, but not to us. We hired a female captain for our boat in Mexico back in the early '80s, and ever since have probably had more female than male crew - no matter if we were daysailing, racing, or crossing the Atlantic. The fact that women look and smell better is just the beginning of the story.

'Lectronic is cranked out in a frenzied few minutes each morning and isn't meant to be the definitive anything. On the 21st, we reeled off the names of John Kostecki, Mark Rudiger, and Dee Smith, because they were all skippers or honchos aboard their Volvo Round the World Race boats. We take umbrage at the suggestion we might have been deliberately snubbing Melissa Purdy, who besides being a great sailor, makes our son's favorite pizza at her Waypoint Pizza on Main Street in Tiburon. Say, we just received a couple of messages from Melissa aboard America Sports Too on the Volvo Race:

"It's been a week on the boat now, and we're only allowed one email per week. We've had some highlights and many mishaps. We blew up our chute at the starting line, so we failed in our goal of not embarrassing ourselves. Then it was my turn to drive. I sailed from way behind to pass Kostecki and illbruck like he was a constipated turtle. I snapped some photos. A couple of days later, we slowly started falling behind. Presently we're only in front of one of the other seven boats and about 50 miles behind the rest. Unlike the brochures, we've been sailing upwind almost the entire time, in conditions ranging from no wind to 30+ knots with big, choppy waves. Half the crew was booting over the side. I couldn't sleep for two days, I just held myself in my bunk to stop from launching on each pounding wave. During those conditions we pretty much lost all our electronics. Things are slowly returning to normal, so we can receive a little weather. The satellite dish in the bow is no go. Tactically we haven't done anything brilliant, but we haven't done anything stupid either. We lost ground to the boys because we were girly - meaning overly cautious with the sails and rig. And naturally we had to take time out for our nails and hair to be done. Actually, hygiene on the boat is just as I thought it would be. We're salty and sweaty, and our underwear, T-shirts, and socks are on the verge of being gnarly. No nudity yet. We share food bowls with the same freeze-dried mash potatoes, rice, and pasta everyday. I personally haven't cooked anything yet, although I did try to make hot drinks. It took me about two hours. Otherwise, I'm just sailing and growing some dreads under my salty cap. After falling behind the fleet, we girls are starting to become more competitive. I wish we pushed everything a bit harder because we'd do better."

And another message from Melissa arrived a week later:

"Please don't let our pizza patrons down! All I think about is pizza. What it would taste like and how wonderful it would be to chat at the bar over a fine glass of Eschelon. You don't know how good that is until you're out in the middle of the Atlantic struggling to stagger across the boat to pee off the back of a monster wave, and hoping things will calm down before you have to poo. All we have to drink is warm water in this 100° heat or some rancid Jungle Juice. Even our vitamins went off in the heat. The highlight of each watch is the hot beverages, and I am now an expert at blending the powdered milk with the bitter coffee to make a fine cup. Despite all the difficulties, I must be out here because I like the sailing and the company for the most part. We finally made it out of the doldrums. Unfortunately, we entered them sixth of seven boats, and after many days of no wind to 20-knot thunderstorms, we exited fighting for last place. There is definitely room for improvement. Now we are heading to some islands off the coast of Brazil. Tonight we cross the Equator and will have the traditional ceremony. I am the designated driver."


I sailed to Mexico with the Ha-Ha in '98 aboard my trimaran Gypsy Dolphin, and would recommend the event to anyone headed south. My boat is still in La Paz and my experience over the past three years has prompted me to write and recommend a book for all cruisers going to Spanish-speaking countries. A year ago, Latitude published a review of Spanish For Cruisers, Boat Repairs and Maintenance Phrase Book by Kathy Parsons. I bought the book and have found it to be invaluable, because it contains the words for just about every tool, nut, bolt and widget found on a boat. And it's all in an easy-to-use format. I even think the Ha-Ha folks ought to purchase a copy for every participant and add the price on to the cost of entering. Someday all of the entries would be thankful.

Ethan Windahl
Anchorage, Alaska


Do you at Latitude have an opinion and advice on the pros and cons of saildrive systems versus the more conventional shaft and strut systems? It seems more sailboats - especially those made in Europe - are coming equipped with saildrives. The armchair experts here in Ventura don't seem to have a good answer. What's the real lowdown?

P.S. I very much enjoyed the article on digital cameras. Cool stuff.

Jim and Rita Suley

Jim & Rita - According to Tom List of List Marine, there are a number of advantages to saildrives - which is why they are found on so many new boats. Here are some of them: 1) Saildrives are very compact, while traditional engine and shaft combinations are eight to 10 feet long. 2) Saildrives are easy and less expensive to install on round bottom boats, and don't require as much precision. 3) Saildrives have level thrust, while traditional shafts put out thrust at a downward angle. 4) Saildrives don't have stuffing boxes or struts, so they are simpler and have fewer alignment and vibration problems. 5) Saildrives are popular on racing boats because they are compact and therefore can easily be positioned in the middle of the boat for centralized weight.

On the negative side, up until recently, you couldn't use a saildrive on an engine of more than 50 hp - at least you couldn't and keep the warranty in effect. Yanmar, however, has or is about to market a 75 hp version. In addition, the alloy saildrives are more susceptible to damage by corrosion if the zincs aren't kept in good shape.


I'm purchasing a boat in San Diego and shipping her to Houston. I hear this is a relatively common thing for West Coast cruisers to do. Do you have any yard recommendations in the Houston area or know of anyone that has done this recently?

Jeff Goff

Jeff - Sorry, but we don't have any recommendations on yards in Houston. Is shipping boats between California and Houston something that's commonly done? It's more common from Houston to California, but yes, people were even doing it when we were selling boats nearly 30 years ago.


I'm writing to clarify an apparent mishap that took place in your September issue. As the Race Chairman of the Jazz Cup this year, naturally I was keenly aware of all the various rules and regulations that we skippers must comply with. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw a picture of me - at the helm of Spellbinder during the Jazz Cup - on page 184 of the September issue. For I was not just shirtless, but appeared - as would be against the rules - PFD-less! It was a shock because as each of my crew will testify, I wear a PFD at all times. Sometimes even at the bar.

As I paged through the rest of the issue - specifically to your article on digital photography - I began to get an idea of what might have happened. I suspect that you wanted to show your readers how they could, as you say, ". . . alter them [digital photographs] with dazzling special effects". While I'm all for digital photography, dazzling special effects are no substitute for truthful photos. As you can see from the accompanying, I really was happily wearing my PFD during the Jazz Cup.

Joel P. Davis
Spellbinder, Santana 35
Rear Commodore, South Beach YC


Given the events of September 11, I was wondering if you've changed your views about relying on GPS as opposed to also carrying a sextant. Could GPS coverage be in jeopardy? Might the GPS accuracy be intentionally decreased? Would civilians be made aware of such possibilities in advance?

Randy J. Ross
Ocean Beach

Randy - We have not changed our views about not carrying a sextant because of 9/11. Indeed, if the government was ever going to suddenly turn off or degrade the GPS system without warning, we think it would have been on that day. From our perspective, there's always a far greater chance that fog or clouds will obscure the sky and render a sextant useless than there is that the government will turn off the GPS system. And even in the remote chance that the government made such a decision, it's not as if mariners wouldn't have plenty of other navigational tools available - such as radar, speedo, depthsounder, visuals, and dead reckoning.


When you responded to John Carleton's question earlier this year about using four consecutive issues of the Nautical Alamanc for all future years, you said that you believe "sextants are no longer necessary on boats".

What will you say next? "I don't need water tanks, I've got two watermakers." Or, "Who needs paper charts, I've got 'em all on CDs."

I hope the poor devil who takes your advice seriously isn't one of the unfortunates who gets hit by lightning and loses every electronic thing onboard, irrespective of whether it was hooked up to an antenna or not. Or, more mundanely, loses battery power for one of the many reasons that happens.

I can't believe you said that.

Beau Hudson
Formerly of Lionwing, Freya 39

Beau - There are few sailors we admire more than you, but yes, it's our opinion that it's no longer necessary to carry a sextant. It's certainly true that a bolt of lightning could fry all the electronics on a boat - but it's also true that the navigator could drop the sextant overboard or the ship's dog could eat the necessary pages in the almanac. Given the fact that most cruising boats today carry two or three GPS units - often with at least two of them independent handhelds - we think the latter is actually more likely than the former. But even if both happened, shouldn't a skipper with a compass and the ability to roughly gauge his boatspeed be able to safely navigate his way to some port?

And our opinion is not that of a electro-mechanical freak. For example, we have a 30/gal/hour watermaker, but it's still in the box rather than aboard our boat. We carry two big tanks of shower and washing water instead, and lots of gallon jugs for our drinking water. And in addition to a minimum of three GPS units - at least two of them handheld - and Costco packs of batteries, we carry paper charts, many of which are duplicated in chart guides, for every place that we sail. But we don't carry a sextant.


Are you aware of any source for commercial videos that may have been made of the restored J/Class boats, or some of the big boat races that are held in the Caribbean and Med? Latitude as well as other sailing publications have run articles and photos on these boats, but it would be nice to be able to watch them in action.

Denis Neumann
Redwood Shores

Denis - It would indeed be great to see them in action, but we're not aware of any such videos. It's possible that somebody may be putting together a video of the America's Cup Jubilee that took place last August, a spectacular event that included the J/Class boats, as well as many of the other greatest sailing yachts in the world. We'll let you know if we hear anything.


We're starting a non-profit community sailing program here in the desert, a program based on Cal Sailing Club in Berkeley and Community Sailing in Boston. We have very high expectations, and need all the exposure and help we can get to make it a success. We have a terrific new venue, and next year will be building a 4,200 square foot boathouse with classrooms and other sailing facilities. In addition, we plan to use affiliations with other groups to migrate a lot of kids and adults - as they become more proficient - to other venues, including Lake Tahoe, the Delta and, naturally the Bay. So we hope to be developing great new sailors for the west coast sailing community.

P.S. Thanks for all the great stuff that is Latitude 38 and 'Lectronic Latitude. As an avid subscriber and sailor, you guys are definitely the best.

Roger Jones
The Desert

Roger - Sounds great. But where in the desert are you?


Last July, my wife Linda and I took possession of our new-to-us boat, the Fantasia 35 Angelina. Since we both enjoy the Delta, we decided to keep our new boat at the Antioch Marina for a few months, giving us a chance to enjoy weekend sailing getaways in the Delta. So we subleased our permanent slip in Santa Cruz - thanks to Harbormaster Chuck Izenstark - and sailed up to Antioch. The last eight hours from Richmond offered glorious downwind sailing.

Antioch Marina is a small man-made basin on the south side of the San Joaquin River just up river from New York Slough. It's a great place, there are plenty of available slips, and the fees are reasonable. The people who run the marina - especially John and Karyn - go out of their way to be helpful. Security is very good, and the air-conditioned bathrooms and showers are kept squeaky clean. There is a laundry facility and a Delta style '3B' - bait, beer and beef jerky - shop. Humphrey's restaurant, located at the marina, offers discounts to slip renters - although some limitations apply. The fuel dock provides diesel, gasoline, water, and pump-out facilities. If you need more food, there are mom-and-pop grocery stores within walking distance, and an Albertson's about three miles away. Antioch has all the modern conveniences - except a West Marine, the nearest of which is in Stockton.

Antioch is the gateway to the Delta, and there is quick access to both the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. The wind blows almost constantly upriver, so we could always set our spinnaker for the ride to False River. Some of our favorite anchorages are about three hours away from the Antioch Marina, so it was convenient. Since it was always upwind coming back, we always motored. And we only ran aground once.

We had many memorable weekend sailing adventures in the Delta with friends, kids, and grandkids. We'd usually sleep on the boat Friday night and leave early Saturday morning. After enjoying the trip up and setting the hook, we still had time for swimming, eating, exploring, and after-dinner poker. It wasn't hard for us to return to our slip and get the boat cleaned up by 3 p.m. on Sunday, which meant we'd get back to our house at a reasonable hour.

The only tricky thing at Antioch is that the constant wind makes it a little hard to get in and out of the slip. Fortunately, there was almost always an empty double slip that is perpendicular to the wind direction. So to get in, we'd just motor into the middle of the double slip and let the wind gently push us against the dock. To get out, we set a line to the stern to spin the boat into the wind - otherwise the wind would push our bow in the opposite direction that we wanted to go.

It was nice to return to Santa Cruz at the end of the summer. But we had such a great summer in the Delta, we'll probably do it again next year.

Neil and Linda Kaminar
Santa Cruz


I'm writing as a Sausalito Planning Commissioner - although not on behalf of the Planning Commission or the City. We're about halfway through rewriting the City Zoning Code to conform to the City General Plan. Among the many goals of the General Plan, the following three may be of interest to Latitude's readers:

Policy LU-1.7 Liveaboards. Allow limited residential use of pleasure boats in the marinas located throughout the City for security purposes, while prohibiting the multifamily or commercial use of liveaboard recreational boats.

Program LU-1.7.1 Liveaboard Use Criteria. Develop liveaboard use criteria, in accordance with area plans, which marinas and navigable vessels must satisfy.

Program LU-1.7.2 Zoning Ordinance (Liveaboards). Amend the zoning ordinance to permit marina management to allow limited residential use of up to 10 percent of the pleasure boats in all recreational marinas.

The first and third are relatively easy to deal with - and keep in mind, as a Planning Commission, we're charged with implementing the plan, not changing it. The second one is trickier: Just what is a liveaboard? As the only boatowner on the Planning Commission, I've taken on drafting this section. The definition I've proposed is this: Any vessel occupied more than 180 nights a year is a liveaboard vessel. If you live on it half the time, it's a home. To be a liveaboard vessel, the vessel must be capable of moving under its own power - sail or engine. If the vessel can't move, it's a houseboat and subject to a different - and more strict - part of the zoning rules. The idea here is to come up with a reasonable definition and to apply it in a way that promotes safety and gives everybody a clear idea of what the rules are.

In addition, there are some basic safety and sanitation rules - some of which come from existing code:

1) Liveaboard vessels must comply with current USCG Safety regulations including, but not limited to, fire extinguishers, placards, holding tanks, discharge and life preservers.

2) Water connection. Every liveaboard must have a secure water connection above the waterline with an approved backflow prevention device.

3) Sewer. If a direct sewer connection is not available, adequate holding tanks must be provided and provisions made for emptying them regularly.

4) Every boat shall maintain adequate lines, cleats and other mooring equipment.

5) Vessels used for marine service purposes are exempt from the no-commercial-use provision.

6) Vessels may not be rented for residential purposes.

Finally, it's been suggested that we add language requiring that half of the liveaboard berths go to low to moderate income households, to be achieved through attrition.

Unfortunately writing zoning code is, to put it kindly, boring, so we often don't get any feedback on issues. Since this is a somewhat controversial topic, I'd like to give readers the opportunity to comment. The best way to do this is to write to: Sausalito Planning Commission, c/o Community Development Director, City of Sausalito, 420 Litho St., Sausalito, CA 94965.

P.S. When my boat was damaged by a badly-driven powerboat that didn't stop, it was my liveaboard neighbors who got the name of the boat and called the police. The security thing really does work!

John Pettitt
Wyliecat 39, Lilith

John - It's nice - but risky - of you to offer your code ideas up for feedback. For as you must realize, you've given all the major constituencies reasons to be angry with you. For example, the anchor-outs who wouldn't mind getting low income liveaboard slips will be mad that you want them to comply with Coast Guard regulations - and maybe even register their boats. Some current marina tenants will be horrified that you seem to be encouraging low income liveaboards, as they fear the prospect of more 'Tall Tims - he being the one charged with felony assault after sending Schoonmaker tenant Mark Cenac to the hospital with a broken nose, punctured lung and a couple of broken ribs - becoming their neighbors. And marina owners can't be thrilled with the idea of the city thinking that all tenants should be able to live aboard from April thru September without being considered liveaboards, as none of the marinas have sufficient showers, bathrooms or parking. So good luck with the feedback.

For us, there are three major disconnects with Sausalito trying to write code for liveaboards. First, just because the city is willing to allow up to 10% official liveaboards - half of them being low or moderate income - doesn't mean the marina operators want official liveaboards. The fact of the matter is that so-called low income liveaboards in marinas and anchored-out have been causing a disproportionate number of problems along the waterfront and in the marinas. And it's getting worse. Before writing any liveaboard code, we think the city should consult with the marinas and tenants to become better informed about the growing amount and seriousness of waterfront crime.

Second, who do you propose to enforce the liveaboard codes and how? Is some city official with a clipboard going to knock on 1,500 hulls every night to keep track of who is closing in on 180 nights a year?

Finally, what is the point of writing codes and laws if the city happily allows them to be flaunted? For example, there are multiple signs posted on Schoonmaker Beach stating that dogs are not allowed on the beach. By refusing to respond to numerous complaints, the city of Sausalito has allowed it to become a de facto dog park, with countless dogs running around off their leashes, pooping with the babies, pooping on the walkways, and nobody cleaning up after them. Then there's the low income harbor in the middle of Sausalito whose approval was predicated on a number of conditions - one of which being that they'd provide a public dinghy dock. They did - for about two weeks before pulling it out. In a letter to Latitude a year or two ago, they promised to come into compliance, but never have. Some folks - ourselves included - believe the reason they refuse to put in the required dinghy dock is because these low income folks don't want low income anchor-outs coming near or hanging out around their boats. Does that fact that Gallilee Harbor doesn't have to comply with this condition have anything to do with the fact that the harbor is home to a Marin County Supervisor and BCDC Commissioner? Then there's about 100 boats anchored in Richardson Bay that have no registration - a fact that's conscientiously ignored by the Marin County Sheriff Marine Patrol and the Richardson Bay Harbormaster, who will happily cite boats with registration. None of these things are big deals in themselves, but if Sausalito codes and laws don't apply to dog owners, subsidized marinas, anchor-outs, and many others, why should anybody feel as though Sausalito's codes or laws should apply to them?

Our suggestion? Before the City of Sausalito embarks on writing new codes and laws, they ought to review the existing ones and make sure they're worth enforcing. And then enforce them. For if not, why waste time writing code when everybody could adjourn to Smitty's.


I recently made an application to the Federal Communications Commission for a VHF radio license which is required to legally operate a radio in Canadian waters. I used an outdated application form, and as a consequence, the F.C.C. denied the issue of the license and confiscated my $75 filing fee. I can understand the agency requiring a current form, but think it is outrageous that they can confiscate the filing fee. Obviously, this government agency has forgotten who it is working for and who pays the bills.

For the information of Latitude readers, one can file for a license electronically at and select Universal Licensing System button for instructions. If one files by mail, forms can be obtained at, or by calling 800-418-3776.

Joe Richerts
Quiet Time, Newport 33
Sequim, Washington

Joe - We agree that they should not have kept your fee.


Some of us were wondering if it was possible to avoid having to register a tender with the state of California if the vessel she is a tender to is a Coast Guard-documented vessel.

We're aware that California has a small boat exemption: "An undocumented vessel propelled solely by oars or paddles and an undocumented vessel eight feet or less propelled solely by sail are exempt from [California registration]." - California Vehicle Code section 9873(e). However, as soon as you put a motor on such tenders, or if they are sailing vessels over eight feet, you must register them.

Well, what if the main vessel is documented? Is there a federal law that would exempt your primary tender from state registration? We called the Vessel Documentation Service and learned that the Coast Guard defers registration of small vessels to the state. According to their website: "Documentation of your vessel does not cover the vessel's tender or dinghy. These craft fall within the jurisdiction of the motorboat numbering laws of the state of principal use. Please contact your state agency that handles the registration or numbering of motorboats for further information."

In other words, their concern is only with the documented vessel. Since the smallest vessel authorized to be documented is five net tons - except certain oil response vessels - this, for all practical purposes, precludes documentation of the average cruiser's tender.

So as we understand it, anyone who uses an unregistered, motorized inflatable or a sailing vessel over eight feet in California waters, is in violation of California law - no matter if the main vessel is documented. If you are a visitor from out of state, your state's registration laws are honored in California. It is not necessary to temporarily register your tender in California, unless you establish residency. But you may run into trouble if your out-of-state registration has expired - just as if your out-of-state driver's license expired.

This information should be generally helpful to California-based cruisers who spend much of their time in California waters. For more information, you can check out the Coast Guard's website at Click on 'Services We Provide', then select 'Vessel Documentation Center'.

P.S. There remains the question of international travelers. How do federal and California state registration laws treat them? We could not find the answer to this in our research, but we imagine that it depends on visa requirements, length of stay, and so forth.

Scott Valor and Rachel Dinno
Nordstar, Cheoy Lee 41 ketch
Santa Cruz

Scott & Rachel - We're a little puzzled by your confusion. We don't know of any state or national government that treats tenders as appendages of larger vessels as opposed to entities unto themselves. And with good reason, as there is nothing that prevents a tender from being transferred from one larger boat to another, or being operated independently.

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