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A few weeks ago while sailing the Wyliecat 48 Ahava with friends, I had a mildly unfortunate - and quite painful - experience. My small finger or 'pinky' of my right hand got caught between a rope and a winch, and a part of it was severed off. I have since become aware that this is not such a rare occurrence among sailors, and therefore decided to share some tips - excuse the pun - based on my medical knowledge and personal experience:

1) Don't panic. Alert others aboard to start looking for the missing piece. (Thanks Skip, for finding mine!)

2) Cover the injured surface with a sterile, non-sticky dressing. (Does everybody know where the First-Aid kit is?

3) In most cases of finger and rope/winch accidents, the tissue is crushed first, so the bleeding will be relatively light. However, a strong rubber band at the base of the finger or a bungee cord at the wrist will provide some hemostasis. Be familiar with the location of the radial and ulnar arteries!

4) The severed piece should be kept clean - an unused plastic bag is fine - and then kept cold on ice or between a couple of cold soda cans. It is better not to have direct contact between the tissue and the ice. Make sure the severed part is kept secure. My fingertip - which was being kept on ice in a plastic bag - took off with a gust of wind. I had to chase my own finger down the street for quite some distance!

5) Even though the pain is considerable, I advise resisting any painkillers or fluids by mouth. None of them are effective for the acute pain, and since most reattachment procedures are done under general anesthesia, the anesthesiologist would prefer that you have an empty stomach.

6) The adrenaline rush - surprise + pain + fear - causes substantial involuntary shivering. It is helpful to have somebody next to you keep you calm and warm. (Thanks again, Skip!)

7) Final advice: "Watch them little pinkies, because they can give you big time pain."

I just want to thank all those aboard who were so wonderful and supportive during and after the incident. Your letters, notes and messages were really helpful.

Michael Katz
Wyliecat 48, Ahava

Michael - We're sorry to hear about your accident, but thanks for the advice. Prevention, of course, is better than a cure, so perhaps all of us need to do a better job of reminding ourselves and our crews to keep hands on lines a minimum of a foot away from active winches.


We're the 'proud' owners of the beached catamaran that was 'Lectronic Latitude's photo of the day for October 23. My wife Dani and I purchased the FP Belize 43 in April of this year, and crash-outfitted her for our first trip to the Delta in August. The photo shows the results of our welcome to the Delta on the first night of our trip.

Here's what happened. After motoring up from Oyster Point, we tied up 'houseboat style' at mid-tide, with the bows in and spring lines off each side. My main concern was floating off at high tide during the night. We awoke to a decided list that we'd never experienced during our shakedown cruises on the Bay. The tide had picked us up, driven us onto the beach, and then left us high and dry. It was four feet to the beach from the bottom step off the stern - normally it's only a few inches off the water.

Having taken stock of the situation, we unpacked our 44-lb Bulwagga stern anchor - which had arrived the day before sans rode - and assembled it with nylon rode and six feet of fresh chain from West Marine. We then motored it out in the dinghy - another recent arrival - and simply dropped it over the side. To my surprise, the anchor didn't drag an inch when we started winching it in. So on the next high tide, we backed off without incident using the kedge along with alternate full reverse from the two 27-hp saildrives. Dani and daughter Kjersti assisted by creating waves with the dinghy.

During the day while our cat was still high and dry, we received a lot of attention from passing boats. A few even came ashore to stroll between the two hulls, accompanied by many offers of help. All in all, it was a great start to a great trip. Our thanks to everyone at Hidden Harbor and the Delta who offered assistance - or just good karma. Thanks also to Dave Wilson for making us famous, and to Neil Kaminar for spotting it.

May all your foibles in life find a home on the web.

Bryan, Dani, Brett, Kjersti and Brittney Hoyer
Rapscullion, FP Belize 43
Oyster Point

Bryan et al - Love your attitude!


My Hunter 43 is currently in the Panama Canal, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to get her back to San Francisco. I'm hoping that you can advise me. Here are the options that I can think of:

1) Truck the boat up from Baja. Dudley Boat Movers estimates a charge of $7,000 with a stopover in Arizona. Do you know anybody else who could do it?

2) Hire a captain to sail it up from Panama. Do you have any recommendations?

3) Sail it back myself over the course of a few months, stopping at various ports along the way.

What do you think, am I crazy?

Steve Rubin
Bay Area

Steve - What we think is that you haven't given us much information on which to make a recommendation. How did the boat get to Panama and what kind of condition is she in? Are her sails and engine up to the 3,737-mile bash? What kind of offshore sailing experience do you have, and how good a mechanic are you? How much income would you have to forfeit in order to take up to 2.5 months to deliver the boat yourself? Are you able to take 2.5 months off? Would you enjoy the trip? Would you have to pay for additional crew? These are important considerations.

Finally, have you considered sailing your boat from Panama to Houston, then trucking her home from there? The sailing part is only 1,600 miles, it's warm, and it's mostly downwind. If your boat is in decent condition and you're a competent ocean sailor, you should be able to complete the leg to Houston in three weeks - including a halfway R&R at Cuba.


I wrote you a couple of months ago about the marina project my father and I are pursuing in Nicaragua. We have since secured title to all the land required, and have received approval from their environmental agency (MARENA). Later this month, we expect to receive our Tourist License from INTUR - which is designed to provide investment incentives for this type of project.

Everything is going along very well, as we're getting total support from local and federal agencies. Robert, my father, is in Nicaragua now and will return to the U.S. after Nicaragua's presidential elections this weekend. Obviously, we'll be following the returns with considerable interest.

I was wondering if you happen to know of a source that could provide us with data concerning sailboat and motoryacht traffic from the U.S. and Canada to Mexico, Central America and through the Canal. Is there some sort of 'census' or market research on this kind of thing, indicating the number of boats, their type and size, the profiles of the owners, the seasonality of their movement, and so forth. We've already made assumptions on the traffic for the purposes of our business plan, but I wanted to see if we could get some harder numbers.

Marc Membreno
Santa Clara

Marc - To the best of our knowledge, there is no market research or hard numbers on the kind of information you're seeking. For what it's worth, the number of marinas popping up in Central America will, in our estimation, continue to attract increasingly greater numbers of cruising boats to the area. There used to be few facilities between Mexico and Panama, but that's all changed. There are now two great stops in El Salvador, Costa Rica has opened up a luxury marina, and several projects are moving forward in Panama. If your operation gets going in Nicaragua, there will suddenly be quite a significant yachting infrastructure in Central America. Good luck!

Participants in the last several Banderas Bay Regattas may remember that Robert Membreno has been an active participant with his Kelly-Peterson 46 Puesta del Sol.


How would you insure a small - 28-ft - yacht that has her homeport outside the United States and sails mostly between the Galapagos and Iceland for educational purposes? The cash value of the boat and equipment is about $6,000. I'm worried that the people who might come aboard could get hurt and use U.S.-style lawsuits against me.

Martin PanDao
Planet Earth

Martin - The bad news is that there aren't any companies that would insure a vessel of such a minimal value for transoceanic sailing - let alone as far north as Iceland. The good news is that the kind of person willing to sail from the Galapagos to Iceland aboard a 28-footer generally isn't the suing type. Unless you have significant amounts of other assets, we'd rely on a combination of explicit liability waivers and a 'so-go-ahead-and-sue-me' insouciance. After all, what court are they going to drag you into?


In many years of offshore crewing for both boatowners and professional skippers, I have come across - and signed - a couple of 'release of liability' requests. It is the direct consequence of living in a litigious society. By the same token, I think the liability exemption should apply to both sides, and therefore crew should be released from responsibility for breakages and damages onboard - except in cases where it was willful or negligent. I hope your upcoming article by a maritime lawyer will address both sides of the issue.

As a personal opinion, I think sailing is a calculated risk, and the relationship between the parties should be one of personal responsibility, good faith, and trust. In the absence of any of these, any time you're in close quarters, leave the driving to the owner.

Mabelle Lernoud

Mabelle - The concept of crew liability is an entirely new one for us. Are you suggesting that if a kite rips, some owners might present their crew with a bill? Given the cost of replacing spinnakers, such owners might have an extremely difficult time convincing anyone else to take a turn at the helm.


We just received the September Latitude with our mail in Curaçao, and wanted to say 'thank you' for the story about Newport Harbor and the Harbor Patrol. I also enjoyed the comments by Capt. Kasules of the Harbor Patrol about Newport Harbor and Dana Point.

I say 'thanks' for the positive story because I worked for the Sheriff's Harbor Patrol for 27 years before retiring - and joining the '99 Ha-Ha. During my years in Newport I always enjoyed meeting visiting cruisers and helping them to find the things they needed. If any readers visit Newport and are on a mooring or in the free anchorage, wave the patrol boat over, as the officers are friendly and knowledgeable about the area. And take Capt. Kasules up on his invitation to visit him in his office to let him know what you think about Newport Harbor and its facilities for cruisers. The Newport area has much to offer.

Since the '99 Ha-Ha, my girlfriend Kathy and I have purchased a Peterson 44 on the East Coast. We are currently on a leisurely 18-month delivery back to Newport Beach. At present, we are getting ready to go through the Canal. Once back on our mooring in Newport, we'll get going on a refit - and hope to publish a cruisers' information sheet that could be distributed by the Harbor Patrol. If all goes well, this should happen by June. Come November of '03, we intend to head out again on the Ha-Ha.

Jerry McGraw & Kathy Hewitt
Po Oino Roa
Newport Beach

Readers - For first-time visitors by boat, Newport Beach can seem a little intimidating. But the Harbor Patrol are friendly and helpful, and truly have the welcome mat out. And don't forget, Newport virtually always has transient moorings available for just $5 a night - one of the best deals on the coast.


Does anyone know what happened to Bear #3 Teddy? I was once the proud owner before selling her in 1986. I now live in Glasgow, Scotland, where I was born. But I deeply miss sailing the Bay aboard Teddy Bear.

Phil J. Dunnery
Glasgow, Scotland

Phil - Maybe one of our readers can help. By the way, we visited Glasgow two summers ago and were both surprised and impressed. But what's the story with the weather? San Francisco seems positively tropical by comparison.


Your editors give excellent advice, and we're looking for some. We have been sailing hard since January, and have purchased a beautiful 1985 Camper & Nicholson 35. She's in mint condition, so we haven't had to do much but enjoy her. However, we want to do much more than that - specifically, we are bound and determined to be thoroughly proficient in understanding and repairing our boat. At this, we are beginners.

My question is this: Besides reading books and manuals, taking things apart and hopefully putting them back together, and trying to figure out things by myself, how can I learn about my boat and start to do my own maintenance and repairs? I want to learn to do this without: 1) Wasting a lot of time with people who may or may not know what they are talking about; 2) Wasting a lot of money being taught simple things which I may not realize are simple; and 3) Doing something terrible to the boat that ends up costing me a fortune.

For example, I'm getting ready to flush the water tank. I've got some good advice from other people and books on how to do it, but I need somebody to walk me through the system, explain the basics about pumps, how to use saltwater as opposed to fresh, and so forth. Pumps are a complete wonder and mystery to me, and I find they are all over my boat! I read and read, and mostly get the concepts, but just can't seem to break through. There are tubes under my galley sink that I have pushed, pulled, labelled, and looked at for a week, and I still feel like I don't quite understand what they are for. I feel as though I know almost everything on my boat that involves the electrical system, but then again not quite. It's the not quite parts that are driving me crazy. Until that gap is filled, I feel a bit helpless. Once it is filled, I know I have the intelligence and wherewithal to be on my way.

Please give me any advice you can and help me understand how others have learned about boats. My goal is to learn all this before I get out to sea, everything breaks, and I have to end up writing a survival guide of some sort.

Clark Erickson
C&N 35 Aventura
Marina Bay, Alameda

Clark - Your intention to want to know about everything is wise, but we suggest that you establish priorities. Pumps, schmumps, when you're offshore the important things are survival, not comfort. So to our way of thinking, you first want to fully understand six things: 1) how to keep water outside of the hull; 2) how to keep the rig up and manage the sails; 3) how the steering and emergency steering systems work; 4) how the engine works; 5) how to navigate, and 6) how the basic electrical system is set up. If you're confident in those systems and your ability to deal with them, you're more likely to be relaxed and enjoy sailing offshore.

Presumably you can figure out the locations and basics of the seacocks and cutlass bearings needed to keep water out of the hull. The steering and emergency steering systems shouldn't be too hard to figure out, and you can take classes on how to navigate. When it comes to the engine, however, we suggest you hire an expert to tutor you in the idiosyncracies of your particular donk and its installation. You'll want to know what filters are required, how to bleed it, how to change the impeller, how it generates electricity, and so forth. As much as we all want to be sailing purists, this is very important. Next, we suggest hiring a sailmaker to come down and check out your rig, sails, and to go over reefing with you, so you can see if there are any things you don't understand, or that might be potential problems. Finally, we'd make sure we had an electrical diagram for the boat, and had a basic understanding of how everything is set up, and how the charging system works. For this you might have to hire an electrical expert. It might not be cheap, but in the long run it would probably be money well spent. The concept is not to try to understand your boat as a whole, but rather as a collection of several independent systems.

As for all the less essential stuff, we'd buy a copy of Nigel Calders' Cruising Handbook and/or the Dashew's' Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia, and use them for bedside reading. If you periodically reread the most relevant chapters, an understanding of how stuff works will start to sink in. In addition, on just about every dock there are a couple of guys who would rather work on their boats than sail. Make friends with them, find out what kind of beer they like to drink, and ask a lot of questions. Before long, you should have some familiarity with all the basics, and over the years you'll inevitably be adding to your knowledge through experience. And remember, you don't have to know every last thing about how everything works. If one of our water pumps or alternators doesn't work, we replace it with the spare - and later let somebody who is so inclined figure out what went wrong with the original.


I was surprised that you didn't mention the 'ship's tender' workaround in your response to the letter about dinghy registration in the November issue. It's my understanding that if a motorized vessel is used solely as a documented vessel's tender, then the Coast Guard does not require it to be registered with a state. But since it's a tender, technically it can only be used as transportation between the vessel and the nearest shore landing. In other words, you can't fish, tour or joyride with it.

By the way, we were once stopped by the Coast Guard for speeding through the Sausalito anchorage in our 10-foot inflatable, and we didn't have our registration showing. We have our registration attached to those plastic boards you see on a lot of dinghies - which, by the way, don't meet the requirements for displaying registration. Anyway, in our haste to make our dinghy trip, we hadn't brought them along.

The nice Coasties who stopped us tried to give us a way out by pointedly asking - at least twice - if the dinghy was our 'ship's tender'. We knew what they were getting at, but we told the truth about the registration anyway. They ended up letting us off with just a warning about the speeding infraction, which impressed me as being very nice on their part.

Linda Hill
Redwood City

Linda - We've never heard of such a thing. Are you sure about this?


This is Linda again, and I guess I was mistaken about the status of ships' tenders. Dennis Nelson, Chief of the Recreational Vessel Division of the Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center in Virginia sent me the following information:

"A 'tender' or dinghy is not excluded from any state registration that I am aware of. Most states require any vessel with a motor to be numbered, and some states even require registration on non-self-propelled boats if they are a certain length. Documented vessels are excluded from state motorboat numbering requirements - but the state may require that they be registered, and many do. A documented vessel's dinghy is not covered by the Certificate of Documentation, so a state's regulations would apply."

Linda Hill
Redwood City

Linda - No harm done.


Several years ago, we purchased a Nicro solar ventilator for our sailboat, and were very happy with it. A few weeks ago, the unit stopped working. Although the unit was over five years old, we sent it back to Marinco-AFI, and within a couple of weeks they sent us a new one - at no charge! That's what we call 'customer service'. You can be certain that we will be loyal customers of Marinco in the future.

Milton and Eva Tanner


My Valiant 40 Nereid and I finally reached 'escape velocity' from La Paz, and did the Baja Bash up the coast to California. I am wintering aboard in beautiful Morro Bay, and next spring/summer plan to slowly work my way north along the coast to Victoria, British Columbia.

In trying to do research for the trip to Victoria, I have found a dearth of printed information - other than the Coast Pilot, Charlie's Charts and a copy of the May 2000 article in Latitude by Capt. Alan Hugenot. But that's it. So, I would like to solicit information and strategies from others who have made this trip. They can contact me at rodmell at If there is sufficient response, I would be pleased to compile it in a hopefully-usable form and send it to you, or post it to my website - - or on another site. I would also like permission to post Alan's article, if possible.

On another topic, I have been a very satisfied user of SailMail since its inception. It's been great to be in touch with the outer world regardless of where Nereid has been. It has also been comforting and helpful for my crew to be in contact with their friends and family.

Rod Mell
Morro Bay

Rod - During the Ha-Ha, Alan Weaver and Chris Maher surprised us by telling us they had an easy trip from San Francisco to the Pacific Northwest with a Catalina about the same size as your boat. They gave all the credit to Commander's Weather Service, which they said was accurate and inexpensive.

On the other hand, a couple of years ago the Coast Guard Group Commander at Humboldt Bay told us the problem with the weather along his stretch of coast is that it can change quickly and drastically. He said that despite mild forecasts, it wasn't uncommon for the wind to be blowing 50 knots on one side of Cape Mendocino and 10 knots on the other side. And the next day it would be the reverse. He stressed the unpredictability of the conditions.

It's our understanding that there are two strategies for going north. One involves harbor-hopping during weather windows. The other involves heading a minimum of 250 miles offshore to get outside of the band of frequently rough wind and seas, and staying there until reaching the latitude of Seattle. If you're going to take that route, you'll want to monitor buoys #46059, #46005, and #46002, which are far off the coasts of California, Washington and Oregon respectively.

Like you, we'd enjoy hearing about the experiences that others have had going north.


In the October issue Jessica Gunther asked what to do with an adventurous cat aboard, and we would like to respond.

We have had pets aboard our sailboats since 1986. We never used a harness or PFD for Joshua, our Schipperke dog, but we did have netting strung from fore to aft along the lifelines. We also made sure that he was down below when we were underway during night passages. Josh traveled with us from San Francisco to the Caribbean and back, and again through Mexico before passing from old age this last July.

We now have three cats aboard, who have sailed with us extensively. However, we never allow any of them out at night or when we encounter heavy wind and/or seas. Despite this precaution, we're pretty sure that cats have a lot of common sense when it comes to self-preservation. Throw them into an unfamiliar situation, and they lose their sense of adventure.

We considered fitting our cats out with PFDs, but after considering the bloodletting - ours - that would have been involved, we decided not to. But at least we got all three used to harnesses early on.

Meriwether, our oldest cat, doesn't like noise - especially the engine - or motion, so when we set out, he finds himself a place he can squish into and feel secure. Quite often this is on the top step of our companionway ladder - which is a bit of a bother for us when we want to go below or come on deck. Another of his secure places is squeezed between one of our folding cockpit cushion/chair backs and the spray dodger panel on the starboard side of our cockpit. The rougher it gets, the more he wants to be outside.

Miss Twiggy, the two-year-old cat we rescued from Nuevo Vallarta, simply finds a place very low in the vessel at the start of any passage and goes to sleep. She has no interest in coming on deck while we're underway.

Angus - a.k.a. 'The Kid' - joined us as a four-week-old kitten in Santa Rosalia in 2000. He's cool to the max about passage-making. He gets very seasick at the start of a passage, however, if we've been tied to the dock for more than a week. He's fine if we've been anchored out, but he loses his 'sea paws' if we're in a marina. He generally does what Miss Twiggy does on a passage, but he does like to come on deck while we're underway. When he was really young, we always put a harness and lead on him. Alas, we should have named him 'Houdini', because he could always wiggle out of it. We just had to keep a close eye on him, but he always had a healthy respect for the waves, and has never tried to get out of the cockpit while we were underway.

When in the marina, we are absolutely against allowing a cat to get out onto the dock. It's the nature of some cats to roam, especially at night. We've known of cats that have pooped in cockpits, managed to get themselves inside a vacant boat and have not been able to get out, or that have wandered off the docks only to get into serious trouble in the neighborhood with stray dogs, other cats, automobiles, and the like. Several of our cruising friends have cats that tend to want to wander, so they put them on a harness and tether. Our youngest cat would be a 'midnight rambler' if he could after we've been in a marina for more than a week, so we enclose all of them down below at night, period.

Oh, and if you have a dodger and/or you put up a harbor shade, watch out for your cat leaping onto either one. Somehow our cats have never sprung themselves off into the water, but it's one of my greatest continuing fears. To that end, dangling a rope ladder or piece of cloth over the side is not a bad idea. Cats are far better at climbing out of the drink than dogs.

We wouldn't trade off having our beloved pets with us for anything, as they are wonderful companions. However, Mike says that I can't 'rescue' any more of them because we wouldn't be able to keep up with the need for kitty litter. Speaking of kitty litter, could other cruisers who are somewhere beyond Mexico and traveling with a cat(s) let me know what they do about resupplying this item?

Anne Kelty
Michaelanne, Whitby 42
Mazatlan, Mexico

Anne - Thanks for the informative letter. Previous pet owners have told us they haven't had any problem finding kitty litter in Central America.


I grew up on a cruising sailboat that was navigated using a sextant, a compass, and dead reckoning. Now I use GPS, which is, hands down, easier, faster, more convenient, and more accurate. If fact, if we'd had GPS, we probably wouldn't have run on a South Pacific reef in the middle of the night after three days of not being able to see the sun. Nonetheless, this doesn't mean that I leave the sextant at home, because with the addition of a good chronometer, it makes an independent navigation backup to the GPS. Should GPS stop working - it is, after all, run by the government - I may still want to know where I am. If the sun, moon, planets, and stars all stop working, I'll probably have bigger problems than not knowing where I am.

But there are other reasons to carry a sextant. Celestial navigation taught me far more than my peers know about astronomy. I know the major constellations of both the northern and southern hemispheres, the times of year they show up in the sky, the major stars and their locations, some of the history of astronomy, and lots of other things that you pick up along the way. Celestial navigation taught me about trigonometry, both plane and spherical. I used those skills in my job as an engineer. Sure, I let a computer do most of the work, but if you don't know what it's doing, how can you be sure you asked the right question? Celestial navigation also got me interested in the history of European exploration, which was largely influenced by navigation. That led to an interest in other cultures and their experiences with navigation and exploration. A lot of the history lessons I learned in school were enhanced by my knowledge of the history of navigation.

Mankind has been steering by the stars since before we could write. There is a certain mystical quality that most people feel when gazing up into a clear night sky, and it frequently leads to a curiosity about the heavens, the world, and our place in it. Somehow, the black box that is GPS just doesn't evoke the same emotions. How many people will take the time to learn about the atomic timing signals and how they work? The LEOS satellite constellation? And all the other things that are required to make the system work? So, before you leave the sextant at home, think about all the other things you might also be leaving behind - you might never know what you're missing.

Don Sandstrom
Anduril, Cross 40 trimaran
Newport Beach (as of today)

Don - Good points. It's also important that mariners don't underestimate the limitations of GPS navigation. For example, a couple of weeks ago we motored in and out of the Caleta Partida anchorage in the Sea of Cortez. When we looked at the GPS chartlet a little later, it showed our exit path as having taken us over a rocky 350-ft hilltop! And the next night, while approaching the Isla San Francisco anchorage in darkness, the radar and GPS disagreed as to how far off we were. The causes of the problems were the same: the charts aren't as accurate as the GPS system itself. No matter the cause, blind faith in the GPS could have led to disaster. So when it comes to close in navigation, we never rely entirely on GPS, but always double and triple check the situation with visuals - when possible - as well as with depth and radar readings.

By the way, what are you doing with Anduril, going around the world for a third time?


We have just completed the Baja Ha-Ha, and I would like to share an unexpected benefit of the cruising life. For many months before we left, I was experiencing 'performance problems' - and we're not talking about the boat or work, if you get my drift. I think the cause of the problem was mostly stress from work, but there was also the stress of getting the boat ready to take off cruising. As a result, our sex life sucked. Actually, I wish . . . well, I guess I shouldn't go there. Anyway, things weren't great in bed.

As we started to head south, there was still quite a bit of stress, as we were still in shakedown mode, so it seems as though something on the boat broke every day. But we did make it down to the Ha-Ha start in San Diego, and had a great trip down the coast of Baja. It wasn't until after we arrived in Cabo San Lucas, however, that we really seemed to start our cruising life. And after just one night in Cabo, I was 'back in the saddle' again - if you know what I mean. Things have been unbelievable ever since.

My advice to everyone is to 'get out while you can'. We're never going back to the old life. The cruising life is for me.

Name Withheld
Cruising And Loving In Mexico

N.W. - You don't suppose it had anything to do with that Viagra additive they put in the Modelo Beer we passed out at the Award's Party, do you?

More seriously, stress is a common factor in just about all performance problems. Given the fact that you were changing lifestyles, getting a boat ready for cruising, and doing the Ha-Ha - to say nothing of 9/11 - no wonder you were having trouble 'popping the chute'. But now that you're free of the crucible of work, the boat is together, and the fast-paced Ha-Ha is over, your mind is free to have more pleasurable inclinations. Of course, surviving a very stressful situation is also a great sex stimulant. During the first leg of the 2000 Ha-Ha, Marilyn Middleton of the British Columbia-based Cartwright 44 Kinship reported that she'd been scared to death when they had a lot of trouble dropping their spinnaker. But when it was all over and things had settled down, she and her husband, despite the three others sleeping only a few feet away, had very, very satisfying sex. On the chart table, no less!

Actually, a Ha-Ha sex survey would be kind of interesting. If you did the Ha-Ha with a partner of at least three months, we'd be interested to know if your sex drive increased or decreased during the Ha-Ha, and if there was a change shortly after it was over. Folks who were single can respond, too. But please identify yourselves as such, because we know that sharing a lengthy adventure with a bunch of new folks is the ultimate aphrodisiac, and we don't want you to skew the results. No, you don't need to include your name or any photos.


Thanks for publishing our letter about the Sierra Nevada Community Sailing Club in the November issue. You asked where we are located, and I've taken the liberty to re-send the info that accompanied our original email. Someone must have overlooked the third sentence where we wrote, "Sparks Marina" - located in Sparks, Nevada, right off I-80.

Although our club is located in Sparks, sailors and prospective sailors can most easily find our nonprofit group at We hope to spread the word that great sailing will be available in northern Nevada to anyone who wants to get out on the water - even in the middle of the desert!

Roger Jones
Sparks, Nevada


The handling of trash in paradise is a 'no-win' situation. Steven and Jackie Gloor's letter, published in the November Changes, outlined problems and possible solutions to this ticklish problem for cruisers. I would like to pose a question in response.

In the spring of 1996, my wife and I towed our 26-foot sailboat down Baja's Highway 1, and spent five months living onboard and sailing out of La Paz and Puerto Escondido. Our scenic trip by road was much different than the typical Baja Ha-Ha trip by water. Let me give you two examples. First, we traveled along miles and miles of barbed wire fence covered with shredded pieces of plastic bags. These bags plucked out of the wind by the wire barbs created what looked like an infinite clothesline stretching over the horizon. Second, at our stop at the little town of Catavina, we took a hike through the magnificent boulders unique to the area. Throughout the many acres of rocks the size of houses were tens of thousands of broken bottles and rusted cans. As the sun set in the sky, the broken glass on the ground sparkled like fairy dust from a Disney movie. This garbage was not piled up, but was rather spread one can or one bottle deep for as far as the eye could see.

Several years ago, I read a story in Latitude about a cruising couple in Mexico that brought two bags of their garbage back to the marina for disposal. The marina operator took it, and told them he would take care of it. He then proceeded to give them a ride to town. Halfway to town, he got out, threw the two bags into the field along the road, and then resumed driving to town.

I used the cruiser's 'burn pit' at San Juanico on our trip because I felt it was the best solution to the trash problem. I was also under the impression that cruisers cleaned the pit periodically, and that the remnants were properly disposed of. I would also like at say that the concept of recycling, as we know it in the U.S., doesn't seem to translate well into other languages.

So my question is which is the more environmentally friendly way to handle non-disposable trash: Take it back to the marina/civilization, where it ends up who-knows-where? Or, dispose of it oneself by burning or burying? I think different places, different times, and different situations affect the answer. I think the best we can do is set an example for other cruisers, locals and fishermen by minimizing our impact.

Ron Hatton

Ron - While there has been improvement, it's no secret that Mexico is generally behind the curve when it comes to the proper disposal of trash. But we don't see why this should have any effect on the good environmental practices of cruisers. The rule is simple no matter where you go: If you bring it in, you take it out. For extra points, take out even more than you brought in.

That some cruisers aren't doing this was made clear to us during a quick visit to Isla San Francisco in the Sea of Cortez just a couple of weeks ago. As we walked along the mostly pristine beach, we were disheartened to come across several examples of trash that had almost surely been left behind by lazy cruisers. The first was a long line of orange rinds in the sand that had obviously been tossed overboard from a boat in the anchorage and drifted ashore. We have to admit that it was a bit of an education for us. Normally we've felt all right about tossing organic stuff overboard. But having seen those unsightly orange rinds slowly decomposing in the hot sun, we're going to be much more careful in the future. The other examples were piles of burned cans and empty bottles just a few yards in from the shore. We don't want to sound holier than thou or prissy, but our experience at the island genuinely was diminished by cruisers' disrespect for the environment of one of the world's great - and still relatively unspoiled - cruising grounds. We don't understand what these cruisers could have been thinking.

We agree that all cruisers need to set an example for other cruisers, locals, and fishermen on minimizing human impact - particularly in such nature preserves. And there's no better way to minimize the impact of one's visit than by taking all of one's garbage out - no matter what the time, place or situation. Can we cruisers please all be more vigilant about this?

Our hope that Profligate could play 'garbage truck' to the islands in the Sea of Cortez turned out to be a victim of time constraints, but we hope to be able to establish such a program next November. Would anybody care to join us?


I was sailing my C&C 38 The Maggie B just west of Alcatraz in more than 20 knots of wind at about 6 p.m. on November 4 when a small powerboat repeatedly positioned itself about 50 yards to my port and took several flash photos. My first thought was that the Coast Guard was checking me out. But as I looked toward the Golden Gate and took a look at the last light of the evening, I realized what a spectacular sight we presented. And I wondered how I could possibly get a copy of any of those photos.

Thus my questions: 1) Was anyone from Latitude - your magazine is the greatest - out taking photos that evening? And if not, do you have any idea who it might have been? Is Diane Beeston still doing her spectacular work? It's not often that a non-racer gets a good photo of their boat under sail, so I would really appreciate any thoughts you had on the subject.

Steve Blitch

Steve - If it was somebody taking flash photos from 50 yards at 6 p.m. on November 4, we have to assume that it was an amateur wasting film. For at that time of day at that time of year, there's not enough light to photograph something in motion. And at 50 yards, nothing short of a colossal flash could compensate for the lack of ambient light. It certainly wasn't Diane Beeston, who retired to painting quite a few years ago.

So how can a non-racer get a great shot of his boat under sail? Next year we plan to have several 'photo days' on the Bay, where we'll park our Bertram 25 photoboat at some of the Bay's busier spots and shoot every boat that comes by. Then we'll post them on our website for purchase.


Well done - or 'BZ' as they say in the Navy - for Latitude's consistently excellent content. When the topic of good sailing info comes up, I think I start sounding like a nut, fanatically talking up Latitude to the owners of boats I deliver/run/teach aboard. 'Scully' Scales' informative letter in the October issue regarding credit cards to take cruising is an excellent example of the kind of definitive and practical advice Latitude readers contribute.

I have transited the Panama Canal eight times in the last eight years, and look to Latitude for the best and latest word on what is new down there. If I have time to look at nothing else, I at least read the Loose Lips and Sightings sections for better sailing news than I can find anywhere else at any price. Keep up the great work!

Stuart Lochner
USCG 200 Ton Master and CDR USN Reserve

Stuart - Thanks for the kind words. We've said it before and we'll say it again, it's the readers who make Latitude.


Regarding the "Australian flagged yacht" pictured on page 121 of your October issue, I thought you may like to know that this Oyster 42 is owned by a very famous Australian ocean racer, Dr. David Johnson. Gypsy is a spirited yacht and in fact won last year's Oyster Cup in the Corin-thian YC's Midwinter's. Manned by a seasoned crew including; 'one tack Wally', Gorgeous Gordon, Commodore Dan and the Doctor. Gypsy is most often found leading the Gentlemen's Division in the local bay regattas.

William Ambassador
Northern California


I just read Dave Jennings' letter about regarding carrying a gun aboard while cruising. For many years my husband Peter and I have been saying that there is no need to carry guns, and that as Jennings mentioned about his outboard, no material possession is worth a human life. Our opinion is based on 15 years of cruising, much of it in less-travelled places such as Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Southeast Asia. We have yet to feel threatened. In our experience, 99+% of the people we have met have been kind, gentle, friendly, and worth knowing.

In my case in particular, cruising is a life-affirming pursuit. As such, guns have no place in our lives.

If anyone is interested in where we've been, they can check out our website at

Jeanne Pockel
Watermelon, Jeanneau Sun Fizz
Boston, Mass / Presently In Malaysia

Jeanne - For what it's worth, we've made 15 trips to Mexico, had a boat in the Caribbean for over 10 years, and had Big O sail from California to Turkey, and then back to the Caribbean. We never carried a weapon, and never felt we needed one. In our estimation, common sense and prudence are the best weapons.


I would like to bring my 71-ft (LOA) schooner Dauntless to San Francisco for the 2002 Master Mariners Race. I plan to leave San Diego about a month prior to the race and hopefully arrive a week or so before the race. This way I'll have enough time to catch a weather window north from Cojo. Could you give me some numbers to call to arrange for slips or anchorages, as well as the number of the Master Mariners Association so I can find out about divisions, handicaps and so forth. It's important to me to race in the Marconi division, as I would like to compete with the schooner Santana.

Thank you for a great publication and for any assistance you may give me.

Paul Plotts
Schooner Dauntless
San Diego

Paul - You have a lovely schooner. After our catamaran came north from Mexico two seasons ago, we spent one Sunday afternoon sailing around San Diego Bay in close company with your Dauntless. She looked lovely and was sailed so well that we put her on the next month's cover of Latitude.

The Master Mariners Benevolent Association, which determines all divisions and handicaps, can be reached at (415) 346-1656.

As far as berthing possibilities for a large schooner such as yours, we suggest you try the St. Francis and San Francisco YCs, both of which would surely try to accommodate you, or Schoonmaker Marina in Sausalito. Santana is owned by Paul and Crissy Kaplan, who own part of KKMI in Richmond, and City Yachts in San Francisco - and who, we're certain, would be delighted to sail their Santana against your Dauntless. If you get in a pinch for a berth, we're confident they could help you out.

We sure hope that you and Dauntless are able to make it up to the Bay for the Master Mariners, and if you do, we'd be honored if Latitude could be your 'sponsor' for the event. Hello! Merle Petersen, who circumnavigated with his 78-ft (LOA) Lawley marconi schooner, just stepped into our office and said he wouldn't mind racing against Dauntless also. Now if we could just shanghai Ernie Minnie and his schooner for the weekend.


Nick Salvador wrote in last month about lightning strikes, and your editorial response gave some basic advice. But there's more to it. Having lived a long time in the Bay Area, I now reside in the Southeast - where we get a lot of lightning storms, especially from May through August.

Here is what I've been told over the years: Most boats are electrically bonded from the mast/shrouds to the engine/drive train, and ultimately, via the shaft, to the sea. Historically, you read very little about ships, yachts or fishing boats being hit by lightning. Cruise ships, container ships and bulk carriers go through thunder and lightning storms regularly on their trips around the world. Fishing boats don't stop fishing just because there is lightning in the area.

Here on the East Coast, sailors wouldn't get anywhere if they stayed at the dock or at anchor during lightning storms - because they happen almost every afternoon. If you were offshore when a lightning storm hit, you wouldn't want to run to shore because the lightning is often worse close to shore. It's the old land heating thing which causes evaporation, which fuels the clouds. So the best thing here is to just try to keep out of the direct path of the storm. Radar is a wonderful tool for tracking the course and speed of thunderbumpers.

In July of this year, I delivered a 38-ft sailboat from St. Pete, Florida, around the Keys, and up to Fort Lauderdale. From the Keys to Ft. Liquordale, we had lightning storms all around us. We passed Miami at 2300, and the city was alternatively lit up by normal lighting and then by the lightning bolts striking all around. It was a fantastic sight that I'll never forget. So my advice is to check your boat's bonding system, and to buy that 00-gauge jumper cable and seal it in a waterproof bag for use on a day when lightning is all about.

Ron Landmann
Catalina 42, The Usual Suspects
Brunswick, Georgia


I'm old and slow, so certainly someone has already pointed out that the photograph on pages 206 & 207 of the October issue isn't Cabo San Lucas, but rather San Carlos, Sonora, on the Mexican mainland. I'd guess the photo was taken around 1985.

Tom Thompson
Northern California

Tom - Right you are. We actually realized the error before going to press, but since it actually looked an awful lot like the inner harbor of Cabo as viewed from the Hacienda Hotel, we thought we'd see if anybody would catch the mistake. And you did.


I've been considering purchasing a 34- to 40-foot sailboat in partnership with two or three others. But I've found surprisingly little information on the web about how to set up such an arrangement. Do you have any pointers on boat partnerships? What kind of contracts do people put into place? What happens if one party stops paying the monthly expenses? I'd appreciate any information you have on the subject - or places I could look for more info.

Frank Bien
Northern California

Frank - Asking us for pointers on boat partnerships is like asking us for pointers on sharing girlfriends - both are fraught with so many potential dangers that we hardly know where to start. The attraction of boat partnerships is obvious: you can pretty much get all the use of the boat you want for a fraction of the cost. If the partnership works, it can be a great deal for everyone. And we've known lots of them that have worked. Some were based on formal contracts, others were based on each partner's word being his/her bond. Obviously, the type of arrangement has to suit the personalities of the partners involved.

Unfortunately, we also know of a few boat partnerships that ended in animosity, arguments over money, and ruined friendships. We'd like to report that we've been able to discover the common properties of partnerships that succeed and partnerships that fail, but we can't. Not anymore than we can predict which marriages will succeed. Actually, that's not really true. Two rules for successful partnership are: 1) Never get into a boat partnership with a person who can't really afford it, and/or 2) whose love interest hates boats and sailing.

Many years ago we published a detailed boat partnership contract, but we haven't been able to find it. Perhaps some of our readers who are in boat partnerships would be willing to share their contracts - as well as tips on dos and don'ts.


We've been reading Latitude for years, and have a small book of sailing adventures clipped from all the info you have presented in your great magazine. In the September issue, we noticed a photo of our boat - the Samson 49 ketch Surfergirl with the Hobie 16 on the foredeck - in your pictorial of Catalina Island. We're not from Southern California, however, having left Port Townsend, Washington, on October 1 to head for our first tropical island. We've now travelled over 5,000 miles.

It was 3.5 years ago that we started looking for a South Pacific cruiser. The first boat we considered was a 40-ft IOR design with a fin keel that drew 7.5 feet. She came with five spinnakers, but had very little tankage and storage. We were about to trade my house in Todos Santos, Baja, for her when we found B.U.B.B.A. - Big Ugly Boat But Affordable - in Port Townsend. She displaces 35 tons and had lots of everything. After one year of working on her 24/7, we sailed south. We enjoy the comfort level of our ketch, but even though we're in our mid-50s, we also enjoy the thrill of speed and gunkholing in shallow water. That's why we have the Hobie Cat, which we can launch in about 15 minutes.

We have enjoyed Southern California sailing, and hope to sail Magdelena Bay this winter. We have been on the hook most of our time in Southern California, and have found that San Diego has been the most challenging place to visit. It seems the Port District controls all of San Diego Bay moorings and anchorages, and boaters don't seem to be very important to them. The only exception is Chip Sherard, a great guy, who has been trying hard to give the Port a human side. San Diego Bay seems like a six-day harbor in a seven-day week, which means the Harbor Police hound everyone without a permanent slip.

For us cruisers, this becomes a problem once you use up your three months at the cruisers' A-9 anchorage - which we just learned sits on a PCB toxic waste pile. Locals recommend wearing rubber gloves when handling your anchor. We signed up on the list for a mooring ball, but it's been four months and we're still waiting. It's possible to anchor at La Playa Cove on the weekends, but you need a permit, and some weekends you can't get one. There's also the Glorietta Bay Anchorage, but that's limited to 72 hours. The last option is the free anchorage at A-8, but every cruiser we've talked to who has checked it out says it makes them too nervous. That's why we have been making more trips to Catalina - to have a place to go without being hassled. The welcome mat is definitely out at Catalina.

In any case, cruising Southern California can be a great adventure, with all the harbors and offshore islands to visit. While at Catalina during the America's Cup races, we created a great sailing board game called Crib Sail, which comes complete with bronze yachts, a vinyl roll up grid board, cards, instructions and a sail bag to carry it all. We make the game aboard Surfergirl and market it by sailing to different locations. The game can be very challenging, and everyone we meet loves it.

Surfergirl has over 85,000 miles under her keel. She's made four trips to New Zealand, two trips to Alaska, and has visited many islands in between during the last 30 years. Did we mention that she's a homebuilt ferro-cement boat?

Gigi Stockton & Michael Carroll
Port Townsend

Gigi & Michael - Thanks for all the interesting information. As for your comments on San Diego Bay, we don't completely agree with them. It's true that almost all of the slips and moorings in the bay are occupied, and that it would really help if a couple more Laurel Street anchorages could be established. On the other hand, the Port does offer three months of free anchoring in A-9, which is nice and convenient, and there are several other shorter term options, including the Police Dock on Shelter Island. It may not be a perfect situation, but it's certainly not the worst.

It's also only fair that we report that the San Diego Harbor Police were very accommodating to everyone in the recent Baja Ha-Ha - well, except for Tim Leathers, Cabrillo Isle Harbormaster, who is seen being 'arrested' in the accompanying photograph. In fact, Lt. Ken Franke of the San Diego Harbor Police has generously offered the use of the department's fire boat for the start of next year's Baja Ha-Ha. Look for a 400-foot vertical column of water at the 'pin' end of the line.


I need some quick help - there's a tight deadline - to evaluate the possible purchase of a boat in Mexico that was damaged by hurricane Juliette. Can you tell me if you've heard anything bad about the yacht brokerages in La Paz? The broker says that the change of ownership must take place 12 miles offshore. Is this legal or would I be breaking some Mexican law? Could you refer me to anyone else for help? I wish I had more time, but I'm doing the best I can.

Kathy Courter

Kathy - A lot of folks seem to be under the impression that we're available 24/7 for quick responses to all sailing questions. Alas, that's just not the case. For example, we left for 2.5 weeks on the Ha-Ha the day before your email arrived.

We're not familiar with what's required to buy and sell boats in Mexico - or just outside of Mexico - other than that you had better be dealing with someone who knows what they are talking about. One way to assess this would be to call several brokers in Mexico and simply ask them what the necessary procedures are. If they all give the same answer, you could be confident that it's accurate. In fact, if any brokers in Mexico would like to explain the legal issues involved and the possible pitfalls, we and our readers would certainly be interested. After all, there's getting to be a good-sized stock of cruising boats for sale in Mexico.

By the way, we recently visited Astilleros Marina in La Paz, and can report that all the boats that had toppled over in Hurricane Juliette are now upright once again.


My letter might be a little dated because I was away in the Northwest when my September issue arrived. But while in the Northwest, someone in my Vancouver audience asked if I had read the Latitude article about Bob Medd of TLC - who allegedly had his throat slit by two panga fisherman while motorsailing on his boat in the Sea of Cortez. Although Medd said they left him for dead, he miraculously survived.

Having finally had a chance to read the article, I'd like to give an account of our experiences with panga fisherman in the Sea of Cortez over the last 45 years. For what it's worth, I always have two or three crew with me, and the cockpit is always occupied while underway. At night, we have two people on watch, prepared for weather emergencies - and now, for unwanted boarding emergencies, too.

In all my years in the Sea of Cortez, I have only once been approached by a panga. Actually, it was three of them that charged out of a fogbank and immediately headed for our boat. Their only reason for doing that, however, was to ask for directions to Isla Tortuga. After being given the course, they took off.

While at anchor, we've often been approached by fishermen offering to sell fish or lobster, but we have never been asked for water - as Medd apparently was. But since it's a very logical request, I'll follow the suggestion of others to have some at the ready - but in the cockpit, so nobody would have the chance to jump aboard while I was going down below.

One time while anchored in a little bay about 12 miles from San Carlos, my wife and I noticed two fishermen ashore beside their panga, who appeared to be observing us too closely for our comfort. Our response was to raise anchor and move on. I should confess that our 30-footer is anything but in 'Bristol condition' when it comes to cosmetics, so potential boarders might - having gotten a closer look - gone in search of better prey.

In nearly half a century, we've had nothing but positive experiences with panga fishermen. On one occasion, for example, we were towed for some reason or other, and I failed to retrieve 100 feet of nylon with a stainless snap shackle on one end. The next morning the panga fishermen stopped by to return the line. Another time I gave them 100 pesos for some service or other, which they were reluctant to take. So I said "es por cerveza". Sure enough, an hour later back the fisherman returned in the panga with 'my' cerveza! They are mostly good guys down there with a few bums, just like us in the United States.

I hope there is good response to the trust fund set up to help Medd.

Gerry Cunningham
Patagona, Arizona

Readers - Cunningham obviously wrote this letter before reading the November issue, in which there was an article casting significant doubt on Medd's story. Many cruisers are now deeply skeptical - despite the slashed throat - that any attack took place. See November's Sightings for details.

As we think back on the few serious incidents between cruisers and Mexicans over the last 25 years, only one of them involved a panga fisherman. There was the cruiser murder in Turtle Bay about 15 years ago, but that was associated with an onboard robbery perpetrated by a local who had just returned from Los Angeles. Another cruiser was stabbed to death in Mazatlan about seven years ago, but that was after he'd done a lot of drinking with some Mexicans in a bar and went to their apartment. Even when Blair Grinols' Capricorn Cat was boarded by a guy with a gun - possibly empty - for a robbery at Bufadero, the perpetrator was not a fisherman. Indeed, the only major negative incident we can recall between cruisers and panga fishermen was about 10 years ago when a Long Beach boatowner in his dinghy was run down and killed - presumably by accident - by a panga fisherman. On the other hand, there have literally been tens of thousands of friendly visits between cruisers and panga fisherman. We just spent a few days cruising in the Sea of Cortez, and it never crossed our mind that any of them were a concern to our health and well-being. We have always considered the panga fishermen to be our amigos, and will continue to do so.


I really have enjoyed getting 'Lectronic Latitude, so keep up the great work - and enjoy the Ha-Ha.

I have a little more on the Volvo (ex-Whitbread) and Northern California sailors John Kostecki and Paul Cayard. Both are products of the Richmond YC Junior Program. I'm not sure how long Paul was involved, but John was there for many years. In fact, he won the prestigious Sears Cup with some other Richmond YC Juniors, and I believe that his dad was the head of the program for some time.

I believe that Paul also spent a lot of time sailing at Lake Merced in the City and then at St. Francis YC where he became Tom Blackaller's heir apparent. He spent a lot of time sailing 6 Meters and Lasers at the St. Francis with the likes of other young Northern California sailors who went on to great success.

Dick Loomis
Former RYC Junior Program Director

Dick - Thanks for the info. We know that for many years the Richmond YC was sort of the 'farm team' for the St. Francis, but we weren't aware that Paul was part of it.

By the way, we want to thank you for something that you did - or rather didn't do - nearly 25 years ago. When we started Latitude back in '77, our Bounty II Flying Scud was not only our office and recreation platform, but was also our home at slip 363 in Sausalito's Clipper Yacht Harbor in Sausalito. We're sure you remember, because you were the Harbormaster. We think you had a pretty good suspicion that we were living aboard illegally, but you were nice enough to ignore it. We can't thank you enough, because back then we hardly had two nickels to rub together, and without your 'oversight', could not have afforded the few bucks necessary to launch the magazine. Thanks.


Your response to the recent letter from Peter Douglas, Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission, was hostile in tone toward the Coastal Commission and its legacy. Without going into space-eating detail, your discussion of the Dockwalkers and other well-intentioned programs of the Commission leave the reader with the impression that Latitude is critical of most, if not all, of the good deeds and accomplishments achieved by the State agency since 1972.

When you imply that boatowners do not need "special environmental education" and "staunchly oppose it," you ignore reality. We all need it. To separate boatowners from the rest of the general population as to intelligence, concern for the environment, and esthetic sensitivity, is to bury one's head in the water.

However, my primary distress is with your comments about the Commission's 'Marine Vista' program. I have sailed this and many other coasts over the last 30 years, and believe the view from the sea is at least as important as that from the land. Ask any fisherman who has worked the coast over a period of years about how he/she feels about the latest mega-home appearing over the brow of the coastal bluff, or the beach-walker glancing upward from what was once a solitary stroll. Property rights, yes, but not to the great detriment of the general public - which is why the Coastal Commission exists with good reason.

Incidentally, I haven't missed an edition of Latitude, except when cruising, since its inception.

Richard Wasserman
Cutter Spray
Pier Facilities Manager, Point Arena

Richard - If you'll reread our article, you'll see that on several occasions we noted that the Coastal Commission has done much good. But this doesn't make them immune for criticism of specific plans or policies - such as their apparent ambivalence over whether or not they support the concept of creating much needed fish habitats.

If, as you say, "we all need environmental education," why should boatowners be singled out - and thereby be demonized - with remedial environmental education programs, particularly when even Director Douglas is quick to describe boats as a "minimal source of pollution?" Now that winter is here, the major sources of pollution become obvious each time it rains, as storm drains leading to the rivers, bays and ocean gush with dark liquids and beaches have to be closed because of the pollution. Who are the responsible parties? Duh! It's the general population - which, of course, includes boatowners - and worst of all, the government. So why the emphasis on ragging in the face of boatowners?

If you like Douglas' proposal of a 'Marine Vistas' program, which would apparently prohibit the building of houses that could be seen for more than a couple of miles from sea, you'll love the new 'Aerial Vistas' program. You see, sensitive general aviation pilots are complaining that their views of the ocean and the California landscape are being marginalized by the presence of boats such as yours, structures such as the pier you work at, and residences such as the one you live in. Being offended as such, the pilots are asking the State Lands Commission to ban the construction of any new structures and roads, and want them to look into the possibility of eliminating those that already exist. Sure it sounds a little extreme, but don't worry because it's all being done for the 'public good'.


Earlier this year at least two mariners died of hypothermia in Northern California while waiting for the boat they fell off of to recover them. The traditional method of maneuvering a boat to come to a stop right next to the person in the water was not effective in these cases. Water-skiers have shown us how to get a line to a person very quickly. They merely tow a floating - polypropylene - line while they circle the person. The person in the water grabs the line and can either pull themselves into the boat or grab the handle for another start. I have used this method while practicing MOB drills on my Santana 22 in Monterey Bay. It is quick, and the person in the water has never missed the line.

The technique is rather simple. Tie off one end of the polypropylene line to the boat, and then pile the line in a bucket or on the deck so that it will play out without tangling. Then tie a ski vest, ski belt or some other floatation device to the end of the line and have it ready to toss over the stern clear of any rigging. When the MOB call comes, turn upwind for a short distance, tack, throw the floatation device over the stern so the line will play out, and then sail around the downwind side of the person in the water. After rounding the person, sail upwind until the rope gets close to the person and then put the boat in irons. Then simply haul the person in. If the person cannot get back aboard and if you can get the line around the person under the arms, you can use a halyard and halyard winch to winch him aboard. Alternatively, you can use the boom and the topping lift as a hoist. The commercial version of this equipment is sold under the trade name Lifesling.

Since I sold my boat, I now carry poly line whenever I charter, and use one of the boat's lifevests as the floatation device. Assembling the gear and drilling with it until the MOB procedure is routine could save you from a bad day sailing.

Gene Coussens
Los Altos

Gene - We often tow people on planing boogie boards behind our dink, and when they fall off, we use your basic method to retrieve them. As long as the MOB victim is conscious, your plan sounds like a good one to us - assuming, of course, the skipper can keep the polypro line from getting caught in his prop. We're curious what other readers think.


I have an 'on demand' hot water heater manufactured by Paloma aboard my boat. It has worked great for the three years I have owned the boat, but it has now developed a leak and I need some technical assistance. Paloma was located on James Street in Bensenville, Illinois, however they are no longer there. Can you help.?

Gary Ivey
Long Beach

Gary - We don't know where Paloma's home office is, but a quick Internet search will yield a variety of vendors that carry Paloma products and parts..


I'm just checking in to say 'howdy' and to send you a couple of photos. The helicopter shot is of Superstar winning the Catalina 38 Nationals in Marina del Rey in October of this year. And that's me, 'Padre Timo', standing at the shrouds trimming the kite. The other is a recent shot taken while sailing over to Catalina Island for a Diveboard promotional event. Perhaps it can replace the file shot of me you've been using for the last six or seven years.

I'm off to Mexico soon, where the news from Puerto Escondido is that no one has paid the $75 per month yet, and that the authorities have not pressed for payment. It looks like another fee that will just evaporate. While you were on the Ha-Ha, I hope that you continued to preach that folks should just relax when they get to Mexico. Most of the bad stuff that comes up seems to go away on its own if you let it.

Tim Tunks
Islander 37, Scallywag
Mexico / Marina del Rey


You do such a fine job on all the Latitude covers, but I especially like October's. The flag is obviously very timely, but as an artist I really appreciate the painterly quality of the flag, boat, and sails, and the soft, almost abstract San Francisco skyline. It could be a Jim DeWitt painting.

Evelyn Drew

Evelyn - Thanks for the compliments, but there's a big difference between a DeWitt painting - of which we have two - and our covers. DeWitt's are the result of years of developing a great talent, while our covers are the result of banging on a few computer keys and crossing our fingers for luck. Naturally, each month's cover comes as a surprise to you. Unnaturally, they also come as a surprise to us - and we create them. In theory, we should know exactly how they are going to look, but in reality the process often changes things in unexpected ways. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

Want to give your sailing photographs a Latitude cover treatment? Once you get the photo digitized, open it up in Photoshop and mess around with Levels, Color Saturation, Contrast, Brightness and such to your satisfaction. Then go to Filters, Pixelate, and finally Facet. Whack the Facet option a couple of times to give it a sort of DeWitt quality. Then go to Image, Adjust, and start messing around with the Posterization. Usually we stay between levels 7 and 14. Once you get it the way you like it, you can print it - although you may have to switch from RGB color to CMYK color - don't ask - which can make dramatic changes. What to do if the print looks different than what you saw on your computer screen? Learn to accept it, as we have. What to do if the edges are too jaggy or the Facet tool smears the edges too much? Start with a different original resolution on.

It all sounds difficult, but if the Wanderer can do it, so could a chimp.


I'm a longtime reader with a question. My boyfriend is taking me to the British Virgins where we'll be chartering an Oceana 452. I would like to know where I can go on the web to find out more about this type of sailboat.

Gigi Kimball
Headed For The British Virgins

Gigi - An easy way to find information on just about any model boat is to go to and type in the model of the boat you're interested in. But we wonder if you have the model name right. We suspect you're thinking of one of the Beneteau Oceanis models, which are popular charterboats in the Caribbean. By the way, we're envious of your trip, as we haven't been to the British Virgins in a couple of years, and it really is a terrific place for chartering. The winds are consistent and warm, the seas are blue and flat, and from Foxy's to Pusser's, they know what to do with rum.


Latitude often has detailed information on cruising in the Sea of Cortez. Do you have similar information on sailing in the Gulf of Mexico? In May we're thinking about sailing from Galveston to Veracruz, and would appreciate any info.

Cynthia Melo

Cynthia - To our knowledge, few if any boats cruise the Mexican coast of the Gulf of Mexico - particularly as far down as Veracruz. But perhaps some of our readers are more knowledgeable.


Several letters over the last few months have talked about sailing in New England. My wife and I just completed a week-long driving trip up the coast from Rhode Island to Maine. The country is beautiful and the ocean vistas are breathtaking. The late October weather was in the '60s, which was unseasonably warm. But it was obvious that October is not a boating month in Maine, as the mooring buoys were empty and the boatyards were full of shrink-wrapped boats. We missed having lobster at the lobster pounds - which were closed for the season - but we didn't miss the traffic and crowds of the high season. The few remaining boats in the water were mostly commercial fishing or lobster boats. There are still many traditional wooden New England boats in evidence. Fiberglass hasn't totally taken over the local ports.

One of the highlights of the trip was a stop at the Sample Boatyard in Booth Bay Harbor, Maine. Booth Bay is about an hour's drive from Portland. The replica sailing ship Bounty, originally built for the 1962 movie Mutiny on the Bounty, is being rebuilt there. The ribs below the waterline are being replaced due to worm damage. Right now the planking is off and you can see the construction of the ribs and keel. The ribs are about 8" X 12" and doubled up. The hull planking is about 4" thick. The ship is also planked on the inside. The replacement ribs and planking are being fabricated using traditional woodworking methods. The parking lot is adjacent to the ship, so visitors can get a close up view of the work. It is certainly worth seeing if you are in the area.

Another highlight was the arrival of a new tall ship, the Lynx, into her new homeport of New Bedford, Mass. The Lynx is a replica of an 1812 privateer that was commissioned under a letter of marque to harass British shipping. The government used privateers to enlarge the navy, while shipowners viewed privateers as commercial ventures, where they got a share of any foreign cargo that was captured. Even in those days, shipowners tried to get somebody else to subsidize their hobbies. The Lynx arrived with its crew in period uniforms, and the city officials met the ship in period costume also. The ship will be used in educational programs. New Bedford is also the home of the Whaling museum, another 'must see' attraction. The voyage in Moby Dick starts in New Bedford, and some of the buildings mentioned - including the seaman's chapel - are still there. The museum has a 2/3 scale whaling vessel built inside of the building. Being on a whaler for a multi-year cruise does not look as though it were fun.

October was a beautiful time to see New England. My wife and I are eager to go back - but next time we'll do some sailing and exploring of the coast from the water.

John Palmer
Bethel Island

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