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WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Since you always love these types of questions, I've got one for you. If you had $100,000, a year off, and the opportunity to cruise anywhere in the world, what would you do? The assumption is that you'd have to buy a boat and live off the rest of the money.
Thanks for the great publication and Web site. How you maintain your editorial quality after all this time is very impressive.
C. - What a terrific question! It's so pertinent to the legions of Baby Boomers who are increasingly finding themselves with bigger chunks of free time and money - but less time on the 'game clock'. After receiving your question, we blew the next few days 'wet dreaming' about exactly what it is we'd do with the $100,000 and one year. We came up with a detailed answer - we think it will surprise you - and originally intended to share it here. Then we realized it would be even more interesting if we threw the same question out to readers who have already done a lot of cruising. After printing responses from these people - and anybody else who wants to answer - we'll publish our own answer.
I'm Glen Welsh, the green skipper of the 36-ft blue steel ketch Tin Lizzie of Victoria, from the Mexico Class of '82-'84. Your wonderful magazine - the chemistry between you and your faithful audience is unmatched - continues to feed my nautical appetite. I often smile at the Letters, for although 20 years have passed and most of the boats and names have changed, the little crises seem pretty much the same.
I know there are cruisers out there who sometimes get to thinking that cruising is more difficult and/or expensive than they had anticipated. I want to assure them that long after their adventures are over, the dividends will just keep pouring in. After two decades, I still remember the people, boats at the Inner Harbor in Cabo when I celebrated my 30th, as well, of course, as the Cabo storm of '82. I was 100 miles away when it hit, wishing I was in Cabo. When I got there the next day, I was sure glad that I had been out at sea. In any event, I now sit back in my armchair and mentally navigate around the anchorages, longing for the day that I might sail the sea again.
Where am I now? Living at Valemount, British Columbia, which is in the Rocky Mountains. As I write this, it's -23°C, the wood stove is keeping us warm, my wife Shelley is making carameled popcorn, and the dog knows no other life. I spend my time musing of days gone by and those to come, knowing there are two things a modern sailor can't get enough of: Jimmy Buffett and Latitude 38.
Glen Welsh Valemount
Glen - Thanks for the kind words. Your sentiments remind us of a quote from Mark Twain, who has been a major inspiration to this magazine and to our lives: "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
CALLING THE COAST GUARD IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC
The Also II is now in Bora Bora, and we've been enjoying French Polynesia very much. Our favorite spots include Makemo and Toau in the Tuamotus, and Huahine in the Societies. Every time we've stayed in one place to get to know some of the locals, we've had a very rich experience.
For us, it's been very interesting observing the cultural differences. We Americans could learn a lot from these people, as they seem to be happier and enjoy everyday life. In day-to-day things, they are much less competitive, and they are far more concerned with the well-being of their fellow citizens. In general, they are a very warm, friendly and loving people - particularly to people who arrive by boat. They have a respect for people of the sea, apparently because of their seagoing traditions.
Just so nobody gets the wrong idea about the cruising life, it's not always easy. The daily chores of cooking, shopping, laundry and boat maintenance require more time and effort than when living ashore. Plus, we still have to deal with the same frustrations as when living ashore: overdue money, delayed deliveries and, of course, a lack of service from our government agencies.
In the latter, I'm referring to the Coast Guard. You may recall that I previously wrote you about the three-hour boarding ordeal we had when leaving Mexico. More recently, we've had the need to try to reach the Coast Guard over more serious issues - specifically, to advise the Coast Guard of boats overdue or in difficulty. In the past few weeks, one boat has gone missing - since found safe. Two other boats have lost their rudders while on passages, and both of them have reached port under jury rig.
I was directly involved with each of these situations because of my radio work as net controller of the SSB radio net The Rag Of The Air. I became a primary contact person for one of the boats with a broken rudder. In the process of dealing with one of these rudder situations, the skipper of the boat asked me to contact the Coast Guard and advise them of his situation. No problem - or so I thought! I called the Coast Guard on every SSB frequency I had for them - plus four others the French Polynesian Police gave to us for Pago Pago, as that is where the boat with the rudder problem was going to make landfall. I called the Coast Guard morning, noon, and night for three days, but never got a response. It should be known that I talk regularly with the West Coast of the United States, and that I send and receive email daily from the West Coast, Texas and New Zealand. So my radio is capable of reaching the Coast Guard on some of the frequencies I was using - if they were monitoring.
I also had an email address for the Coast Guard, but my email came back "undeliverable." On a later attempt, we eventually got through. Now, several weeks later, we have finally received an email acknowledging our contact and some frequencies for Guam.
The message contained a discussion of search and rescue areas of responsibility, and statements of limited facilities and responsibility. They acknowledged that they were the contact for the merchant marine data base, and that they have a 'drift program' that would help locate a disabled vessel. They encouraged our community efforts in taking care of one another, and said that they appreciated the volunteer assistance we offered. But the Coast Guard stressed that we could not rely on them for search and rescue outside of their area of responsibility. They also said that while email should work, it is not the preferred means of communication because it's not continuously monitored as is the radio. They said that a satellite telephone may be the most reliable way to send a 'Mayday'.
Unfortunately, not many of us have satellite phones! And a lot of us have SSB radios! I have a very difficult time understanding how the Coast Guard can downgrade SSB to the point where they can't answer the radio when urgent information is in the offing, yet they can spend three hours on a useless 'safety inspection' 150 miles offshore.
James - We spoke with TC1 Mike Ladd at the Coast Guard radio station in Pt. Reyes, who explained that the Coast Guard monitors 2182 from Hawaii and other coastal stations. He noted, however, that 2182 is the least powerful of all AM channels, and so anybody using it from the South Pacific is unlikely to reach the Coast Guard in Hawaii or the States. If a mariner wants to communicate with the Coasties by SSB from the South Pacific or other long distances, Ladd recommends using the duplex channels. He gave three examples: 1) Ship: 12242.0, Coast, 13089.0; 2) Ship, 8240.0, Coast, 8764.0; 3) Ship, 6200.0, Coast, 6501.0. These channels have greater broadband and therefore can reach further. For example, Ladd says that Pt. Reyes communicates everyday with two vessels in Antarctica. They use 14,000 to 15,000 at 0300 when the propagation is the best, but have to go to 28,000 during the day - and are still lucky if they can get through.
Is everyone clear on what the Coast Guard's responsibility is to mariners who have problems in the middle of the ocean? If lives are in immediate danger, they will marshal their own and perhaps international resources to respond. But if it's only a case of a broken rudder or a snapped mast, they will not respond. For example, during a recent Pacific Cup, a 33-ft doublehanded entry lost her rudder about 1,000 miles out of Hawaii. Some sailors assumed that the Coast Guard would rush right out and tow the boat in - as though they were a nautical AAA for the Pacific Ocean. Instead, the Coast Guard monitored the health of the crew as they slowly drifted closer to Hawaii. Ultimately, Steve Rander of the Portland-based Wylie 70 Rage and some other volunteers made a mercy mission of several hundred miles to deliver food and an emergency rudder.
So if you're out in the middle of nowhere and have a gear problem - but not a life-threatening problem - here's how to communicate with the outside world: 1) Try to reach any other vessels in the immediate area on VHF channels. 2) Try to reach one of the SSB nets over the usual channels. 3) Try to reach the Coast Guard by sat phone - if you have one. 4) Try to reach the Coast Guard through one of the duplex channels. If your life is in danger, use all of these methods. If none of them seem to work, or if your life is in immediate danger, reach for the EPIRB.
AID TO NAVIGATION HALF MOON BAY
A red buoy marking a reef in Half Moon Bay was blown off its moorings and put on the beach near Frenchman's Creek around Thanksgiving. The Half Moon Bay Harbor patrol reported it to the Coast Guard, but it's still on the beach and the reef remains unmarked. Can you look into the situation and maybe put a little heat on the Coast Guard to get it replaced? The lack of the marker is dangerous, especially when fog obscures landmarks.
Ken - Lt. Ken Langford of the Coast Guard tells us that when one of their lights goes out or buoys break loose, it's assigned a numerical priority - officially known as the "discrepancy response factor" - depending on how critical it is. Based on that list, they repair or relocate the aid as quickly as they are able. Remember, however, that there are lots of navigation aids that don't belong to the Coast Guard. Also remember that after a period of heavy weather, many aids to navigation may be damaged or off station, and it may be months before they can all be returned. This is one of several reasons why mariners are instructed not to rely on just one or two aids to navigation.
ANTIFREEZE WHERE IT DOESN'T BELONG
While winterizing my boat this past fall, I put the usual antifreeze in the engine, but then mistakenly pumped a gallon of windshield washer antifreeze solvent through my potable water system. The container carries such warnings as, "Extremely combustible, vapor harmful," and "May be fatal or cause blindness if swallowed," and "Contains methyl alcohol, cannot be made nonpoisonous."
Obviously, the stuff is now in all the water lines as well as in the tank itself. Given the seriousness of the matter, what can I do next spring to make the system safe again?
N.N. - Stuff like that happens - although it's usually cases of mariners putting water into their fuel tanks or fuel into their water tanks. Given the toxicity of the stuff you poured into your boat's water system, we'd consult the manufacturer of the solvent as well as a poison control hotline. For all we know, it may be nothing - or you may need to replace your entire water system. We hope your misfortune leads others to remember to be more careful in the future.
GULF OF MEXICO
In the December Letters, Cynthia Melo asked where to find cruising information on the Gulf of Mexico. When we were researching the Mexico Boating Guide (2001), enough cruising folks asked us to include at least the major cruising stops in the Gulf of Mexico and Yucatan, so we added two good-sized chapters on that enormous, yet relatively undeveloped coastline.
In our boating guide, we covered the region from the Rio Grande, Tampico, Vera Cruz (nice yacht club), Tuxpan, over to Isla del Carmen, up to Campeche, Progreso (new marinas), then all the great cruising stops on the Yucatan Channel, Isla Contoy, Isla Mujeres (nice marinas), Puerto Aventuras (sportfishing marina), Cozumel, Tulum, Bahia Asencion, Bahia Espiritu Santo and the Chinchorro Banks. Besides charts and a zillion GPS positions, we included all the nav lights, anchorages, fuel docks, marinas, port captains' offices, boat yards, where to tune in for Ham, SSB and VHF weather forecasts, plus a few contacts for touring the Mayan pyramids and eco-tours inland.
Each fall, several hundred cruisers head south from ports in Texas through Florida - very similar to our West Coast migration to Mexico. The smaller, or more adventurous sailors, especially those leaving from Galveston (Houston), New Orleans and even Pensacola, Florida, would rather gunkhole counter clockwise around the Gulf of Mexico than dodge heavy shipping traffic, oil rig traffic or bash straight across the gulf on their way down the Yucatan Channel to the Caribbean. Too bad all those East Coasters don't have friends like Latitude and the Baja Ha-Ha to help them get organized and have more fun heading south.
Cynthia and others might also want to check out www.mexicoboating.com, which contains updates and excerpts from our book.
Capt. Patricia Miller Rains, Capt. John
Pat & John - We're embarrassed to say that due to time constraints, we paged through our review copy so quickly that we didn't even notice the material on the Gulf of Mexico.
COMMUNICATIONS ON THE BAY
There were some errors in the January issue article about the Vessel Traffic Service. VHF Channel 13 is for bridge-to-bridge communication, both inside and outside San Francisco Bay. VHF Channel 12 is for VTS traffic outside the Bay, not bridge-to-bridge, as was reported. VHF Channel 14 is for VTS traffic inside the Bay.
Skip - Oops, you're right. Thanks for catching that unfortunate error. While we're on the subject, we should clarify again - for those readers who are as easily confused as we are - that if they ever need to contact a ship's bridge inside the Bay in an emergency, they should try either VHF channel 13 and 14, not 16, as we stated (correctly) later in the article.
HARD TO PORT
I started reading your article on VTS and have a question. Are you sure the Capt. of the Arizona Standard ordered hard left rudder after seeing a red running light? What is described is a port-to-port meeting, and I don't think a hard left rudder would be appropriate in this situation.
Great magazine. I think the publisher may have studied Russian from my father at U.C. Berkeley.
Paul - We stand by our wording, which we took from the official Marine Casualty Report of the Collision Involving the SS Arizona Standard and SS Oregon Standard at the Entrance to San Francisco Bay on January 18, 1971: "Prior to the helmsman steadying on a new course at about 0129°, the master observed the red navigation light of the Oregon Standard one to two points on the starboard bow at approximately 200 yards. The master ordered hard left rudder and stop all engines."
You'll find the complete text at: www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/moa/boards/arizonoregon.pdf.
NOTHING BUT A SMILE TO PROTECT THEM
I have met a lot of real people - including a lot of sailors - in my 71 years. And I can't believe that any of us who have the guts to take on seas half as high as my 70-ft schooner is long, would quiver like mush while some river rats or pirates steal what we have spent our lives earning. I have now read how several of your luckier correspondents have traversed the world with nothing but a smile on their faces to protect them - and made it. I have also read how at least one had to jump into the ocean to escape a mob of screaming Muslim nuts who tried most vigorously to stone him to death.
As far as I'm concerned, the sentiment that "nothing I have is worth taking a human life for" is pure steaming camel puckey. My government sure didn't believe that way back in '51 when 38,000 of us died in Korea to protect what we considered worthwhile. Or later in 'Nam, where 50,000 Yank lives were spent. Or after 9/11. We sailors only get a few thousand days to live on this earth, and spend an awful lot of them working for our little vessels and what's on them. When river rats and pirates want to steal stuff from my boat, they are trying to take part of my life. But I, for one, am willing to put up what's left of my life to protect what Mom, the kids and I have worked for.
No matter where we go, my U.S.-documented vessel is a little floating bit of my native land, and it must be protected. So as far as I'm concerned, if and when pirates decide to crawl over our transom to rob us, they are willing to trade their lives for what they want to steal. And tough for them if they miscalculate the odds.
I find it ironic that Peter Blake, a great sailor from New Zealand, where weapons more effective than a smile are outlawed, had the guts to arm and defend himself. I grieve that he didn't succeed, but he probably left an impression on the remaining Amazon river rats that they may not be the only ones with guns and guts. Folks who come later on boats may live because of that.
It is precisely because Americans are willing to defend themselves effectively that the thieves of the world are a trifle more hesitant to take liberties with them. As far as the cops from the kook capitol of the U.S. are concerned, I'll believe they tossed their $500 dollar Glocks and Winchesters in the Bay when the first Saudi sheik gives up his Americandeveloped oil well, puts on bib overalls and earns the first honest dollar he ever had.
Bob - The potentially fatal assumption we think you're making is believing that everyone puts an equal value on human life. They don't. There are plenty of people in the world who - because of either desperation or stupidity - are willing to engage in gun battles over relatively insignificant things, be they outboard motors to as little as $5. Unfortunately, these people are often backed by others who are equally desperate, stupid, and well-armed. We're not saying that mariners should lack courage or resolve, only that they should pick their battles carefully. To us, this means not upping the ante in minor robberies by introducing firearms.
I was dismayed to read that you referred local sailors - such as Michael and Eva Pardee - to Mexico to get new teak decks on their CT-48. There are a number of fine independent craftsmen and small yards in the Bay Area that have been installing teak decks for years. In some cases, the independent craftsmen may be more experienced and less expensive than the "well-known local boatyards" that the Pardees talk about. My own shop is just completing a teak deck on a 58-ft sailboat, and I would be glad to have the Pardees or anyone else come see the deck. Nobody needs to go to Mexico to get a teak deck.
WE DO TEAK DECKS, TOO
Mariner Boat Yard in Alameda has three journeyman carpenters on our staff. We have just completed installing a new teak deck on the beautiful 70-year-old Alden yawl Cock Robin. She'll be at our docks for a few more months if anyone would like to see her.
Peter Van Inwegen
On page 60 of the January Latitude, there is a letter entitled Teak Decks. In it, your reader expresses frustration in not being able to find a yard which can install new teak decks on his 48-ft ketch. The letter ends with the question: "Do you know anyone in the Bay Area who understands priorities here, and who has journeyman competence with such work?"
You responded that the last time you heard of a local yard putting on teak decks was when Stone's installed them on the 212-ft schooner Adix.
As a friendly reminder, just a couple of months ago you ran a small story on Pelissa, the 90-ft houseboat we built - and which had all new teak decks. We featured the teak decks in our last ad in Latitude. We also just completed a new teak deck installation on a Jeanneau.
We would be happy to help Michael and Eva Pardee with their teak decks.
Jeff, Peter, and Sean - Please accept our apologies for our ignorant blunder. We've since brought ourselves up to speed on teak deck installations in Northern California, and have a report in this month's Sightings.
REGGIE'S BRILLIANT WITH TEAK DECKS
We just got time to read our January Latitude, and saw the letter from the folks with the CT-48 about getting their teak decks refinished. You referred to a guy in La Paz who does good work at a reasonable price, but didn't know his name. He's Reggie Brilliant, but everyone knows him as 'Reggie the Carpenter'.
We had Reggie refinish the decks on our Swan 65 Cassiopeia in the spring of 2000, and were very happy with his work and the price. Reggie is a hard-working guy who is booked up with deck jobs for as much as a year in advance, so if anyone wants to use his services, they'd better make reservations soon. He can be reached over the VHF in La Paz, and while we have his home phone, we don't feel comfortable giving it out to a mass audience.
Reggie's backlog of jobs keeps him to a pretty tight schedule. Our job was supposed to take four weeks, and ended up taking five - partly because of some extra work we decided to have Reggie do down below.
Rennie and Anne Waxlax
REGGIE WORKS LIKE A HORSE
We had the decks on The Dorcas Hardy, our MMC 41, refastened and regrouted in La Paz in 1998. The individual who performed the work was Reggie Brilliant, a gringo from Massachusetts who had married a local girl and settled in. Reggie worked like a horse and charged $20/hour for himself and a helper.
Our job involved three decks, and required 2,265 new plugs - which Reggie made himself - and 97 tubes of TDS grout. We had to bring the grout down from San Diego. Our job was a big one that took a total of three weeks, and cost a total of $3,700. Our decks still look great.
There were also some La Paz locals doing work on teak decks as well. We watched some try to regrout the decks of a large sailboat, and even though we are novices, we could tell that these fellows clearly lacked the skills for this kind of work. Perhaps they are better now, but our advice would be to stick with Reggie - who answers to "Reggie the Carpenter" on VHF channel 22.
After our Ha-Ha in '97, we hung out in Mexico until April of '99, at which time we made a dash for Florida. We transited the Canal in May and arrived in Florida in June. We have since cruised many U.S. inland waters: through the Erie Canal, Canadian canals, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi, and the Tenn Tom Waterway. We're now getting ready to head for the Bahamas and hope to be in Trinidad for hurricane season. Will we be able to find any Latitudes there?
Dick and Mary Hein
Dick & Mary - Thanks for the firsthand information. There will be some Latitudes in Trinidad, but you'll have to ask around and wait in line. Unless, of course, you subscribe.
THE SAUSALITO NET?
I'm wondering if Sausalito has a VHF net. If not, how do the locals communicate?
Steve - Sausalito has no formal VHF net. Most locals in Sausalito communicate either in person or by cell phone. As good as VHF nets can be, they are the last resort for communications because all conversations are open to the public. For example, if you get on the morning net in La Paz and say, "Blue Wind, Blue Wind, come on up to 72 so I can tell you about the two women I met and had sex with last night," every cruiser in the anchorage - not just the normal 'lurkers' - will come up to 72 with you. 'Reading the mail' is what it's called.
WARNING TO OWNERS OF ATOMIC 4 ENGINES
Last September I encountered difficulties starting the Atomic 4 engine in my sailboat. Because of extreme circumstances, I cranked the engine for as long as one to two minutes. As a result, I filled the exhaust and intake manifolds, cylinders, and carburetor with saltwater, requiring extensive and expensive repairs.
What happened? My boat is equipped with a waterlift type muffler. Under normal circumstances, cooling water enters the engine from the sea and is pumped through the engine by the water pump. The warmed water is then pumped into the exhaust elbow, and then into the waterlift muffler, where it is finally pushed overboard by the exhaust gases. In my case the engine wasn't firing, thus no exhaust gases were available to push the water overboard. As a result, the water continued to accumulate in the waterlift muffler until it filled, at which point it backed up into the exhaust pipe and exhaust manifold. So, as the exhaust and intake manifold valves opened and closed, the water flowed into the intake manifold cylinder and carburetor.
I had no clue that this had happened until a mechanic looked into why the engine wouldn't start about a week later. I also didn't realize that the Atomic 4 engine manual contains the following caution:
"Do not operate the starter for more than 1520 seconds; cooling water enters lift-type mufflers during cranking and may back up into the engine when cranking is stopped if muffler overfills."
I have since checked with six other owners of Atomic 4 engines. None of them were aware of the flooding possibility, and most believed that extended cranking of the engine without it firing would only result in a dead battery. I have subsequently been told that if it is necessary to crank the engine for more than 1520 seconds, the engine intake valve should be closed until the engine stalls. If that is done, however, be sure to immediately open the valve as soon as the engine starts, since the water pump and/or water-lift muffler might run dry, or the hot gases might cause damage to the exhaust hose.
Since I've had my boat and engine for more than 14 years, I'm embarrassed at what I did to it. So I want to warn everyone else with a marine engine equipped with a water-lift muffler, as I don't want the same thing to happen to them.
Prior to sending this letter, I had Mike Haley of Richmond Boat Works review it to make sure it was technically accurate. Thanks, Mike.
A few additions to your most welcome thoughts on the Procol Harum: Keith Reed and Gary Brooker rule!
1) One theory - a strong one - is that A Whiter Shade of Pale refers, in an intentionally oblique way, to the problems faced on stage by members of the band, who consumed substances which caused something akin to seasickness on stage.
2) The eternal appeal of the song is that the music - not the words! - is based on a Top 10 oldie by, we think, J.S. Bach.
3) Do not overlook A Salty Dog, which should be played while one is beating up the Cityfront on a summer's ebb: "We sailed for parts unknown to man, where ships come home to die. No lofty peak, or fortress bold, could match our captain's eye. Upon the seventh seasick day, we made our port of call. A sand so white and sea so blue, no mortal place at all. We fired the gun, and burned the mast, and rowed from ship to shore. The captain cried, we sailors wept, our tears were tears of joy."
We miss our old boat Limelight, but we're enjoying the foredeck on John Scarborough's J/46 and sailing on other J/105s.
Ken and Carol Jesmore
San Francisco YC
Ken & Carol - Procol weren't the only ones to rip off another artist. During Big O's trip to Europe and back, skipper Jim Drake had time to listen to a lot of music. While listening to Elvis - what was he doing on the boat? - one afternoon, Drake came to the sudden realization that It's Now Or Never was a musical ripoff of O Solo Mio on the same scale that The Magnificent Seven was a scene by scene ripoff of the even greater Japanese movie, The Seven Samurai.
By the way, in addition to being theme music to much of the '60s, A Whiter Shade of Pale was the theme music for the mid-'90s French comedy titled French Twist. It was a lighthearted and entertaining flick, and the music was a perfect complement for the lovely French countryside.
I HAVEN'T HEARD A THING FROM THE HA-HA
Having crewed aboard Lee Clark's 62-year-old, 35-ft cutter Vagabond Lady in the '98 Ha-Ha, I would like to enter my new Valiant 42 in this fall's event. I sent a letter and $15 for an entry pack on December 17, but haven't heard a thing back from the Ha-Ha folks. Can you contact them for me please?
Merrill - After the end of each Ha-Ha, the tiny staff and volunteers go into hibernation until May 1. So although they've received a record number of inquiries for this time of year, they won't be responding to them until just after the May Day Parade. They hope you'll understand.
BOARDING IN MONTEREY
Cruisers frequently talk about safety issues here in Mexico, but we haven't had a problem to date. In fact, our only problem anywhere occurred in Monterey on our way south last year. The marina was full when we pulled into Monterey, so the harbormaster offered us a spot on Fisherman's Wharf - which we accepted. At about 0300, our dog Myka started growling. Merry heard him and felt the boat move slightly, so she woke me up. Looking out a port, I saw two teenagers leaning on the railing directly abeam the boat. I then looked out the port into the cockpit and saw a third kid sifting through a canvas bag of odds and ends. I very quietly opened the port and in my best Navy language 'politely' asked him to get off the boat. He was off the boat and down the pier with his buddies in a heartbeat!
About five minutes later, a Monterey city security guard appeared on the pier. After we told him what had happened, he did a search of the surrounding area, but didn't find the kids. The next day the folks at the harbor-master's office told us that it was the first incident they've had of its kind in about five years. Anyway, the kids didn't have time to steal anything.
Since the finish of the Ha-Ha in Cabo, we've sailed to La Paz, Puerto Escondido, back to La Paz, and then back to Puerto Escondido where we left the boat in order to return home for a couple of weeks over the holidays. During our Baja cruising, we stayed in a different anchorage every night, and more often than not were alone - except, of course, in La Paz and Puerto Escondido.
At the end of January we'll cross over to Puerto Vallarta for a couple of months on the mainland. Before we helped deliver Profligate from Puerto Vallarta to San Diego last spring, you told us the trip south was much easier. You were right.
Dave and Merry Wallace
Dave & Merry - Your incident in Monterey reminds us of one we had while tied up to the Orange Coast College dock in Newport Beach. The Wanderer and de Mallorca were sleeping aboard Profligate when we were awakened by muffled voices just a few feet above our heads. After waiting a few moments to try to get an idea of who it might be, de Mallorca whipped the hatch open and shouted, "What are you doing here?!" It turned out to be a couple of lovebirds, and they'd gotten the fright of their young lives. "I'm sorry, so sorry, so sorry, so sorry," whimpered the trembling girl. It's the last time those kids will pick a strange boat as a place to be alone.
As for Mexico, we've been sailing down there regularly since '77, and have never yet had a 'safety issue'. We do, however, observe common sense precautions - just as we do in the United States and the rest of the world.
Could you do us a favor? We sailed up into the Sea in the middle of November, at which point the air and water temperatures were still extremely warm. But we haven't sailed in the Sea of Cortez in December and January for many years, and would like to get a weather report. Specifically, when did the water become too cold for comfortable swimming? When did the first Norther hit? How many Northers have there been? We're trying to get a better handle on when the weather 'goes south' in the Sea.
JUMPING THE GUN ON SPINNAKER CUP
I read that there's to be more information regarding the charity Spinnaker Cup to be sailed from Punta de Mita to Paradise Marina on Banderas Bay on March 12 - just before the start of the Banderas Bay Regatta. I fear that this may prove to be a popular event and want to secure 'guest' spots for my wife, son, and his family, as we'll all be vacationing in Puerto Vallarta then. I'm working hard on getting my eight-year-old grandson interested in sailing - although I worry that catamaran experiences may have him casting a jaundiced eye on grandad's Cal 39, Allegria.
By the way, we're looking forward to joining this fall's Ha-Ha for our second trip to Mexico. We sailed Allegria there in December of '96. I also had a great time as crew aboard Jim Barnett's Islander Peterson 40 Rat Trap in '99.
Gene - For the convenience of everyone, the event has been moved back to Wednesday, March 13, the day before the skipper's meeting for the Banderas Bay Regatta. So all you and your group will have to do is show up at Punta de Mita about noon and look for all the noise. After a big lunch on the beach, everyone will be ferried out to the boats for the fun spinnaker run for charity. Everyone should be willing to contribute $25 to a local charity - probably the one that helps provide fresh water to the children who live in the Puerto Vallarta dump.
LAGUNA SAN IGNACIO
Is the editor foaming at the mouth - as he claims environmentalists do? Or would he like to have salt plants placed in some of his favorite anchorages? I believe that going to beautiful unspoiled places is the goal of most cruisers, as I haven't seen any articles about people searching the world for the most industrialized and polluted places to drop the hook.
And Japan, taken as a whole, is among the worst in their disregard for the environment. They cut Indonesian hardwood rainforests, harvest everything that lives in the ocean, and were among the last two countries killing whales. The depletion of fish in the Sea of Cortez is a major concern, and it started when Japan swept in with their nets.
If you are truly concerned with the state of the Sea of Cortez fishery, perhaps you should join the environmentalists and try to help - rather than defend the type of projects that would trash one of the last pristine lagoons.
Randy - To demonstrate how thoroughly you missed our point - and are misstating our opinions - we're republishing what we wrote. Please pay closer attention this time.
"Personally, we didn't care about the salt plant one way or another, or the fact that such a ruckus was created that Mitsubishi and the Mexican government ultimately pulled the plug on the plant. What concerns us is our suspicion that this really hadn't been about saving the whales or the Baja environment, but about having a grand time villifying a multinational corporation. For if the sealife and environment in the region were really the issue, why would these 'environmentalists' spend so much time and energy on such a comparatively insignificant matter? Not when the entire Sea of Cortez - a phenomenal marine treasure a million times as big and important as Laguna San Ignacio - is being massacred? This seems particularly odd now that the 'environmentalists' have won the battle of San Ignacio, for we'd have thought they'd have used the momentum to fight to save the entire Sea. Why haven't they? The cynic in us thinks it's because many 'environmentalists' aren't really motivated by saving the environment, but by the opportunity to attack some corporation or government entity. We can't help but believe that the battle would have carried over to the Sea of Cortez if there had only been a 'Sea of Cortez, Inc.' to savage. Such attacks may be emotionally satisfying in a childish way, but in the long run we think they're counterproductive for Mother Nature. Hate, the bumper stickers tell us, shouldn't be a family value. Hate shouldn't be an environmental value either."
We hope this makes things a little clearer. Further, it's completely off the mark to suggest that we're in any way against the environment in Baja or anywhere else in Mexico. Need proof? Name anyone else - let alone a member of the marine industry - who is regularly quoted in Mexico City newspapers as being against most of the 'nautical stairway', Mexico's plan to build countless new hotels, marinas, airports, and golf courses along both coasts of Baja.
We have a question for you. Does it ever strike you as being a little bit hypocritical that we Californians - who have profited so wildly from the environmental desecration of our coast through the development of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other coastal cities - think that all of Mexico should be preserved so we rich gringos can have pristine places to recreate? Don't get us wrong, we're all in favor of Baja being primarily developed for things such as eco-tourism. But if it came down to a case where a choice had to be made between some relatively clean industry providing local Mexicans with lots of good jobs or preserving a relatively ordinary anchorage used only by Americans, we're probably going to have to support the jobs for Mexicans.
One of the reasons we'd support the clean industry is because anchorages in Baja are so plentiful. In fact, when so-called 'environmentalists' like yourself make claims such as Laguna San Ignacio being one of the "last pristine lagoons", it shouts your ignorance. If you'd spent much time along the middle reach of Baja, you'd realize that nearly half of the coast between Abreojos and Cabo San Lazaro is pristine lagoon. And if you'd pick up a copy of Jack Williams' Baja Boater's Guide, you could read the scientific reason why there's a lagoon in Baja almost everywhere that even a creek flows into the Pacific.
SEA OF CORTEZ CRUISER CLEANUP
We are Craig and Sheron Tuttle, trailerboat sailors from Moab, Utah, who are currently enjoying our second season cruising the Sea of Cortez aboard Sundagger, our Kent Ranger 26. We recently arrived in La Paz, and managed to scare up a December issue of Latitude. In it, we read with interest your mention of a possible Sea of Cortez Cruiser Clean-Up for next year. What a great idea! Count us in! We'll be cruising the Sea again next year, and if Profligate is willing to be the scow, we'd happily volunteer as scavengers.
As far as the orange peels washed up on the beach at Isla San Francisco, there were lots of them there last year also. Looks like someone is doing a little juicing. In any event, keep us posted for details on a Clean-Up.
Craig and Sheron Tuttle
Craig & Sheron - We think a Sea of Cortez Cruiser Clean-Up is a terrific idea and would be a lot of fun. It would be easy, too, if several boats and crews were assigned to each anchorage, and if a boat such as Profligate were able to be the main scow. If there's enough interest on the part of people from Santa Rosalia to Frailes, and from groups like the Hidden Harbor YC and Club Cruceros, we'd like to help make it a reality.
Here's the problem: We're developing a near uncontrollable urge to do a lot more sailing in the Caribbean next winter, which might mean that Profligate would have to jam toward Panama immediately following the end of the Ha-Ha. In that case, we wouldn't have the opportunity for a side trip to the Sea of Cortez. However, because the Banderas Bay Regatta had to be moved up this year to avoid conflicting with Easter, Profligate would probably be available for such scow duty during the last week of March and/or the first week of April of this year. So, we're putting out the call to see which boats and individuals in the Sea of Cortez would be willing to participate in a Cruiser Clean-Up of the islands and anchorages of the Sea in late March and early April. It would involve picking up the bottles, cans, and other crap left by cruisers and fishermen, and seeing that it gets properly disposed of. If we can count on your boat and/or you, email Richard to indicate what anchorage, or part of an anchorage, you would be willing and able to take responsibility for.
TRAVEL TO CUBA
I am a retired executive cruising on my boat in the Caribbean, but am effectively prohibited from visiting Cuba. However, I just discovered that tour companies are circumventing the Helms-Burton Act by obtaining permission for travel under the 'cultural exchange' exception - and then marketing the tours to the general public. If the Act cannot be repealed, then certainly individuals visiting multiple ports in Cuba should be granted the same treatment. Better yet, repeal the entire Act and get on with normalizing relations with Cuba.
Roger - The Helms-Burton Act is about maintaining a trade embargo and does nothing to prevent you from travelling to Cuba. The potential obstacle you and other American visitors face is the Treasury Department's prohibition on 'trading with the enemy' - which is what you'd supposedly be doing if you paid to travel to Cuba or spent money while in Cuba. Thousands of Americans get around this each year by sailing their boats to Cuba and claiming - cough, cough - that they didn't spend any money while there. The bottom line is that there's no need to pay the high prices or go through all the red tape necessary to get the 'cultural exchange' status - which is just a bunch of b.s. anyway.
'Normalization' of relations with Cuba is an excellent goal, one that we fully support. That it hasn't happened, however, is not entirely the fault of the United States. Although something of a romantic figure because he's the little guy who has stood up to the superpower, it shouldn't be forgotten that Castro is nonetheless guilty of many atrocities and continues to be one of the world's most relentless violators of human rights. For example, in addition to obvious things such as denying the right to free speech and the right to vote, Castro merrily expropriates a high percentage of the salaries Cubans get paid by foreign companies. So if the United States were to instantly 'normalize' without any conditions, it would be tantamount to further propping up what really is the world's biggest and longest running slave plantation.
I caught a glimpse of your reply to my letter regarding check-in fees in Mexico, and I see I failed to make my point. I agree that the entire check-in process is cumbersome, but my main argument is with those cruisers who flout the regulations by anchoring for a considerable time within a port captain's jurisdiction, all the while sneaking around to avoid the check-in procedure and fees.
You state that when Profligate is in Banderas Bay, you stay out of the other port captains' jurisdictions, and thereby avoid having to check in with those other jurisdictions. It certainly sounds as though you're complying with the law, so I have no problem with that. My bitch is with those cruisers who come into a port captain's jurisdiction and anchor for weeks - if not months - and never check-in. In so doing, they irritate the port captain and cause difficulties for other cruisers - such as what happened with Paraquina and Saucy Lady.
Tenacatita is a prime example of where this happens. Once anchored in Tenacatita, where there is no port captain, some cruisers - who may be travelling under a despacho from Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta to Manzanillo or Zihuatanejo, then either travel by bus to Melaque and Barra de Navidad to shop and visit the ATM - right in the face of the port captain. Worse still, sometimes these mariners wait until Friday afternoon, when the port captain closes his office for the weekend, to come to Melaque or Barra to anchor and/or to pick up fuel at the fuel dock, then they return to Tenacatita before the port captain's office opens on Monday.
This kind of behavior can also be found in San Blas, the La Paz area, and around Puerto Escondido.
I believe this practice is what has led to the current situation in Barra, where the port captain is watching boats entering the harbor and contacting them in person at the fuel dock, at anchor in the lagoon, or on the hook at nearby Melaque. He is fully aware of the fact that cruisers are circumventing the Mexican law, and he is simply enforcing that law by making cruisers aware that he is going to insist that they check in. In fact, it appears that the port captain in Barra is now patrolling seven days a week, as we've seen him in the lagoon on both Saturday and Sunday.
While I am also in favor of changing the current system of checking in, a system with an annual fee could prove unfair to those cruisers staying in Mexico for only a part of a season, or who are just transiting the country.
I also don't agree with your comparison of cruising yachts to motorhomes. As it's been explained to me by several Mexican officials, motorhomes enter the country at only one point, travel on a specific roadway system while in the country, and depart the country through only one point. Cruising yachts, on the other hand, have the capability to - and often do - enter at multiple points throughout the country, then are capable of traveling freely from Mexican territorial waters to international waters - and therefore have the opportunity to import goods and people into the country with little regulation - other than the existing check-in requirements. In this case, there are several port jurisdictions where there are no Migracion offices, and the officials have to wear the hats of port captain, custom's inspector and immigration officer. This only adds to the complexity of those port jurisdictions, and demands the utmost respect of Mexican law by visiting yachts.
Terry - We object to any cruisers who deliberately violate Mexican law. Nonetheless, we still think that most of the responsibility for the problems you mention belongs to the Mexican government. As much as we love Mexico and are sympathetic to their organizational problems, it's high time that they get their administrative act together. For starters, it's absolutely incumbent upon them to explain - in precise Spanish and English - exactly what the rules and regulations are for clearing in and out, so everybody can understand them. Right now nobody really knows what's legal and what isn't. For example, how are mariners supposed to know when they've come within a port captain's jurisdiction? Personally speaking, we haven't a clue. And we don't think anybody else does either. If the law were clearly stated, the folks anchored in Matenchen Bay would know whether or not they really needed to check in with the San Blas port captain.
Once the rules are clearly outlined in Spanish and English, the Mexican government needs to make sure that they are consistently enforced by the various port captains. As all cruisers know, it seems like every port captain in Mexico has a slightly different take on the law. In any event, if a port captain knows that cruisers are not checking in as they should, he should give the cruisers warnings - and then fine them if they refuse to comply. After all, if the time on your parking meter runs out, the meter maid doesn't just get irritated. She writes you a ticket to encourage you not to do it again. Law enforcement 101 is simple: 1) Make good laws; 2) Make sure everyone understands them; 3) Enforce them.
It's true that an annual cruiser fee might be unfair to cruisers just transiting Mexico or only spending a short time there. Stuff like that needs fine tuning and can be addressed later. The important thing is to get the Mexican government to realize that creating an annual or seasonal cruising permit, plus streamlining the clearing-in process, is critical to their best interests.
As for cruising boats needing greater supervision than RVs because they have access to territorial waters, we again disagree. Who is going to smuggle people or stuff into Mexico with recreational sailboats, which are too small and slow to be effective - especially with the American DEA constantly tracking all boats along the Mexican coast. And even if recreational boats were regularly engaged in the importation of people and illegal goods, how is the current clearing-in system doing anything to stop it? Charging outrageous fees and making cruisers tramp all over town is no deterrent to serious criminal behavior.
YACHT CLEARANCE REGULATIONS
Here's a copy of the letter I emailed to the two Mexican officials that you suggested. It's basically what you wrote in the January Sightings, but personalized with my last paragraph.
"As a mariner who loves the people, culture, land, and seas of Mexico, I want to respectfully object to the clearance regulations that were put in place by the SCT in January of 2000. I believe the regulations are bad for tourists by boat as well as bad for Mexico. The changes made clearing in much more expensive and time-consuming. In some cases, it could cost close to $120 U.S. in fees and probably more than a day waiting in lines to cover just 20 miles! In the short term, the effect is to discourage tourists by boat from visiting places with port captains, thereby denying business to nearby marinas, restaurants and stores. In the long run, the effect is to discourage Americans from bringing their boats to Mexico - at a time when Mexico is investing $220 million to lure Americans down a 'nautical stairway'.
"I believe that it is in the best interest of Mexico to offer boat tourists a reasonably-priced annual cruising permit - as is done in many other countries where boat tourism is popular. Upon entering Mexico, the owner of a vessel would pay a one-time fee - say $150 to $300 - to purchase a permit that would allow his/her boat to travel about Mexico without having to check in with each port captain - or perhaps only check in by dropping off a crew list and having the permit stamped. Such a system would be much more attractive to boat tourists, yet would provide the Mexican government with an efficient means of collecting a cruising fee and keeping track of all boats and tourists.
"I spent several months in Mexico before departing for the South Pacific in 1998, and look forward to returning to Mexico in the future. I have visited 11 countries since leaving Mexico, and have not encountered any with such onerous requirements as these new regulations. This is a very important issue for boat tourists - and Mexico - so I hope that you will give it serious consideration.
PROHIBITIVELY CUMBERSOME AND EXPENSIVE
The following is the copy of a letter I recently sent to tourism officials in Mexico:
"Over the years, I have frequently visited Mexico, from San Blas to Cozumel, from Vera Cruz to Manzanillo, and dozens of cities and areas in between. I have always felt very much at home in Mexico. Last year was going to be the year when I would sail my boat to the Sea of Cortez and Puerto Vallarta, with the plan to stay in Mexico for two years or longer. I abandoned that plan and instead will take my yacht to Hawaii and other island groups. My reason for avoiding Mexico is that, while I find land travel pleasant and easy in Mexico, your government's regulations for visiting boats make sea travel prohibitively cumbsersome and expensive. I do not hesitate to spend money in Mexico, but being required to go from office to bank to office, over and over again, in almost every harbor, and pay fee upon fee is just not my idea of fun. It should not matter to you that I have changed my plans, but it should concern you that an ever-growing number of others will also stay away.
I understand very well that your government needs to keep track of vessels and visitors in your waters, and levy a fee for services rendered. The problem lies in it applying regulations aimed at commercial vessels to small craft. Viewed from another perspective, what is the different between travelers in recreational automobiles and yachts? While the former are free to travel without repeated visits to government offices and payments of fees; the latter must sacrifice many hours or even days to satisfy clearance rules that should please no one. I refer here to the port clearance regulations that are in effect at the present. These regulations are not only bad for visiting sailors, but in the long run will prove even worse for Mexican businesses that depend on visiting yachts and sailors, e.g., marinas, boat yards, grocery stores, restaurants.
The fees charged in each port can become outrageously high in certain situations for even short distance travel, but in most cases will not add up to much more than 100 or 200 dollars a year, which raises the question of why your government does not simply impose a one-time cruising permit fee of about 100 or 250 dollars, good for one or two years, and leave it at that. That could eliminate almost all of the current time-consuming requirements that make life very difficult for the visiting sailor, and for the solo sailor almost impossible.
Once the yachting permit has been obtained, the visiting yacht could report its arrival and departure to the Port Captain, with either a single personal visit or a radio or telephone call. Once a yacht is registered with the authorities as in possession of the permit, it can be allowed to move freely between ports. Streamlining the present oppressive system will prove beneficial to Mexico.
Louk Wijsen, Ph.D.
MEXICAN CRUISING PERMITS
Here's a copy of a letter we wrote to officials at Mexico's Department of Tourism:
"My family and I intend to cruise in Mexico starting in October of 2002 aboard our 48-ft sloop Tamara Lee Ann. We expect to continue cruising in Mexico through the spring of 2003. We are very concerned, however, about the stories that we have been reading about arbitrary and excessive charges to enter and leave each Mexican port of call. If these stories are true, we may cut our planned cruise short or decide not to visit Mexico at all.
This would be a tremendous disappointment for us, as we have long hoped to spend considerable time in your country, getting to know your waters and your wonderful people. Would you consider making it easier for us, by perhaps implementing different clearing-in procedures, or maybe an annual cruising permit that would be good at all Mexican harbors? Living in California, Mexico is a natural place for us to visit on our boat.
Please consider these suggestions, and let us know whether we might expect things to get better before we begin our cruise.
Doug, Tamara, Taylor and Maxwell Thorne
WHERE DON'T YOU HAVE TO CHECK IN?
Thanks for all of your efforts in helping to resolve the checking in hassles in Mexico. Let's hope we can collectively make a difference in the near future.
In the meantime, does anyone out there have a list of places to go in Mexico, such as Turtle Bay, that don't require you to check in? It would be fun to see how long you could cruise around in Mexico and not check in. Is that possible?
Peter - Off the top of our heads, we know there are port captains at Ensenada, Cedros Village, San Carlos (inside of Mag Bay), Cabo, La Paz, Puerto Escondido, Santa Rosalia, Bahia de Los Angeles, Punta Punasco, San Carlos (mainland side), Mazatlan, San Blas, Chacala, La Cruz, Nuevo Vallarta, Barra de Navidad, Manzanillo, Lazaro Cardenas, Z-town, and Acapulco. Where have we missed?
When you consider that the coastline of Mexico is longer than from Sitka, Alaska to San Diego, that's not many port captains at all. In fact, you could easily clear out of Ensenada for Acapulco, take the whole season to get there, have a wonderful time, and never have to come within 50 miles of a port captain. But you'd miss all of the cities.
NO LOANS FOR BOATS OVER 20 YEARS OF AGE
For the fourth time in a row, a boat financing company has turned down my request to refinance the 1980 Hans Christian 33T that I bought last year. I wanted to get a lower interest rate. The problem seems to be that lenders are no longer willing to provide original loans or refinancing for boats that are more than 20 years old. The impact on all boat owners could be significant, for if those of us with older boats can't sell them because new buyers can't finance them, there's no way we could buy new boats.
Fortunately, I have a boat and want to keep her. Nonetheless, I'll continue to search for a finance company that will help me. But who knows, if I'm still unsuccessful I might turn my boat into a 2002 corporation and then take out a loan on the corporate assets. Any other ideas would be appreciated.
THE TOPSY-TURVY INSURANCE ZONE
I would love to write a letter filled with wonderful stories of sailing under a spinnaker in warm winds, however, I feel moved to write about the most boring of nautical topics - boat insurance. I own, along with my dad, a 1969 Yorktown cutter. She's an amazing boat, and all we need to safely take us out to the Channel Islands and back. We instinctively know that her good lines and sturdy construction are more 'insurance' than any small piece of paper will give, and we also know that our combined 50 years of sailing experience is invaluable. But try to tell that to insurance companies - even those that have been around as long as our boat.
Our problem started when our surveyor told us our boat's 'replacement value' is 50 times greater than her 'market value'. Where do they come up with such figures. My guess is from one of those black, plastic 8-balls that were popular in the '70s. Is the boat worth 6k, 8-ball, or 4k? I can see the murky response from the 8-ball: "Ask later."
Then our insurance broker got the survey and told us that although our boat is now worth 10 times less than she was last year, the insurance premium is five times as much. I'm wondering if, in the upside down, topsyturvey insurance zone, it could get so bad that the premium is more than the hull coverage.
I would love it if someone could write an article on how boat insurance works, and how owners of classic yachts, such as ourselves, can get policies that make some sense. I would like to see the article cover how a surveyor makes his/her calculations. Will insurance agents always single out older boats as being on the verge of sinking? If so, where do they get the statistics to back up such an assumption?
Cindy - Those are excellent suggestions for articles, we'll see if we can't act upon them.
CLEARING FOR FOREIGN BOATS IN THE U.S.
Thanks for your work in putting together and running the 2001 Ha-Ha. We had a great time. We left Cabo on December 5 and made it back to the Bay Area on December 23.
I will be writing something for your campaign to change the check-in/out procedures in Mexico. In particular, I am concerned about how the check-in/out procedures can cause mariners to miss important weather windows.
Do you know what the requirements are for Mexican or other foreign cruisers for checking in while cruising the United States? We asked a few Canadian cruisers what was required of them when they entered the U.S. One told us they just had to place a phone call to an 800 number when they entered the country. Another told us they used the 800 number and had bought a decal for $25 with a number on it that they use as their registration when they enter a marina or guest docks at harbors. It sounded pretty simple.
Ed - Check out the next letter.
AMERICAN CHECK-IN PROCEDURE
We have just skimmed over your letter about the Mexican check-in procedure, but will not comment on it at this time. We have a Canadian-registered sailboat, and when we left Canada, we were required to check in and check out of every American port we entered - all the way from Victoria, British Columbia to San Diego. There was no payment to be made until we left California, where the fee we paid as a foreign vessel checking out was something like $8.14 U.S.
The point we're making is that we, as owners of a 'foreign' vessel in the United States, had to do the check-in/check-out waltz in the U.S. So, we don't see a problem with us and other foreign vessels doing it in Mexico or any other country.
Barrie and Carole Grant
Barrie & Carole - Maybe it would help if we pointed out the difference in the U.S. 'waltz' and the Mexican 'waltz'. When a Canadian boat under 90 tons enters the United States, they check in at a port of entry and pay a whopping $19 for a one-year cruising permit. After that, they only have to make a phone call to the local Customs office at each new jurisdiction. In the case of Seattle to San Diego, most boats can get away with making a half dozen or fewer calls. Honestly, Barrie and Carole, how can you compare that to Mexico, where cruisers have to spend a small fortune and endless hours every time they want to check in or out? If the Mexican system were as inexpensive and efficient as the U.S. system, there wouldn't be a single cruiser complaining.
I received my Latitude with the published response to my request for information on the Master Mariners race. I'm ecstatic that you have offered to sponsor Dauntless. It would be our extreme pleasure to fly Latitude's house flag, and hopefully have a couple of you aboard with us in the race.
As of this date, I've heard from Master Mariners, and they have offered to try to arrange for free berthing while the schooner is in San Francisco. They have also invited us to keep Dauntless there through the Wooden Boat Show on June 23, which we would love to participate in.
Paul - Fantastic. We're eagerly looking forward to it - especially since we haven't sailed aboard a schooner in two years. We're hoping that your participation might inspire other classic yachts from Southern California to make the trip up.
THE YAWL DAUNTLESS
The photo of the schooner Dauntless in your December issue made me do a double-take. A closer look and the text assured me that it was not the original marconi-rigged 42-foot sloop/yawl Dauntless, which was built for and owned by Claude Benham. In 1938, Benham willed the boat to his crew - which included Masten Spencer, Curly Mitchell, and my dad, Walter Sandy.
My question is about the Benham Opening Day trophy, a bequest by Claude which is awarded to the yacht club with the best turnout each year. I assume that it has long since been retired and wonder where it is now? Do the owners of the present Dauntless also have a dinghy named Timid?
Sister Mark (Bea) Sandy
Sister - We think the trophy's still around. Perhaps some readers know about the dinghy,
IT'S PARTIALLY YOUR FAULT THAT I'M MOVING
I've been reading your great magazine since 1979, when I moved to Greenbrae from the East Coast. Please stay irreverent - not that you aren't or could do otherwise! I'm now moving back to the Bay Area from Oregon - and it's partially your fault for having reminded me of all the great times. No words are sufficient to thank you for what you've given us. I do, however, wish that more Classy users would use the net with photos!
John - Your compliments are too kind. If you've been away from the Bay Area for a number of years, you're going to notice two things: 1) It's become insanely crowded, and 2) There's nonetheless still all the room and tranquility in the world when you're out on the Bay enjoying a sail. For the last two or three years, the Wanderer and de Mallorca have perhaps been the most active after-work sailors on all of San Francisco Bay, and we're here to tell you that the Bay offers the most beautiful, consistent, and enjoyable summertime urban sailing in the world. It is sensational.
CELESTIAL NAVIGATION CLASSES
I'd like some help finding a group of people who get together on a regular basis to study and practice celestial navigation techniques. My request is prompted by Don Sandstrom's What You'll Miss Without Your Sextant letter in the December issue. I studied celestial navigation with Sam Crabtree, enjoyed it, and had a lot of fun on a couple of deliveries in 1998 using my new skills. Since then, I got a job that has pretty much kept me ashore, and my skills are eroding fast. If you don't know of such a group, perhaps your amazing readers could help.
And thanks for a wonderful publication.
Readers - Who can guide Mac to celestial navigation devotees?
We sailed San Francisco Bay for over 20 years in a Snipe, a Windward 24, an Ericson 27, a Santana 30, and finally the best of them all, a Nonsuch 30. All the while we enjoyed reading your great magazine. Now that we're retired in Roseville and are boatless, it's great being able to get on the net and still enjoy your publication.
Jim and Karen Smart
Readers - We put about half of the print version of Latitude on the www.latitude38.com website each month. In addition, most days we have all kinds of additional material - including great color photos - on 'Lectronic Latitude. If anyone out there is only reading Latitude and not checking out 'Lectronic Latitude, they're missing a tremendous amount of sailing fun.
HELP WITH BOAT PARTNERSHIPS
A friend and I are discussing taking a long cruise, perhaps even doing a circumnavigation. We're also discussing a partnership as a possible structure for ownership of the boat. I noticed the letter inquiring about boat partnerships in a previous issue, and was interested to know if anybody responded with their experiences and possible documents for a partnership.
Tom - Unfortunately, we haven't gotten any responses on the subject yet. Can any of you boat partners offer some guidance?
DOCKS NEED LADDERS
In response to the Dock Dangers item in the January Loose Lips, now is the time for mounting a campaign to require that all new docks constructed in California include ladders every 50 feet extending down into the water. On most present-day docks, a person in the water has no way of getting out - regardless of how strong or how skilled a swimmer he or she might be.
Michael - We think you're slightly overstating the case. After returning from a cold January sail one night about 25 years ago, we remember jumping off the high freeboard of a Columbia 45 down onto a dilapidated dock in Sausalito. Because the foam buoyancy was so out of balance, we were launched backward into the water - almost as if off a diving board. Despite the fact that we were wearing a big sweater and a heavy, absorbent jacket, we were out of the icy water in a flash without help from anyone. A couple of years ago our brother - thanks to too great an effort to prevent a boat from drifting away from the dock - was pulled into the Bay. He also was out of the cold water in seconds. We also know of plenty of others who have jumped off or been thrown off docks and did not have a problem getting out of the water.
We only mention the above because we don't want folks who fall in to have a fatalistic attitude. While we know that many people - especially those who are younger and in better shape - have been able to get out of the water and onto docks, there are plenty who would not be able to do it. As such, we agree that such ladders and/or other get-out-of-the-water devices would be a good thing.
ELECTRIC POWER WORKS FINE ON MY BOAT
I just read Bill Waterhouse's letter about driving his boat with electric power. I have a Coronado 22, and also decided to get rid of the gas outboard. I have one 50-watt (12 volt) solar panel, charging diode (12 volt), six batteries (12 volt), and a 24-volt electric outboard. My only trouble is changing two batteries to 24 volts. But if Waterhouse wants to do a 12-volt outboard - which will have less power - he can take one (gel) battery into a skiff with the motor or even a solar unit. I do it on my boat, it is easy and it works fine.
I am in the process of converting my 1969 Bristol 33 to electric auxiliary power, and was elated to see your article on other such conversions.
Upon reading the Letters in the January issue, I'm compelled to offer additional info. Folks who are interested in electric power can log on to www.electricboat.com. This site is the home of the Electric Boat Association of the Americas, and has numerous links to informative sites of hull, motor and component manufacturers and suppliers. There is also a message board through yahoo.clubs that has over 1,500 postings of electric power discussions regarding everything from horsepower and torque to prop design to battery technology and fuel cells.
When my own conversion is completed, I will be able to quietly motor out of the marina - imagine actually being able to converse in a normal speaking tone under power - and my setup will generate power as I sail and recharge the batteries.
Latitude could also use this system on Profligate, with the addition of a small generator, creating essentially a hybrid system, eliminating a lot of weight - the two engines - and tripling - yes, tripling! - your range with the same size diesel fuel tanks. Ships and locomotives have used this system reliably for many years. The technology is all available today at a very reasonable cost. Anyone who would like more info or to discuss my project can contact me at cwbyslr at prodigy.net.
Paul - That sounds great, but based on the following letter, it would seem that driving Profligate with electric power would require a very large generator and her range would be severely limited. What's the story?
EQUATING HP AND WATTS
I'm writing in response to the letter from Bill Waterhouse in the January 2002 issue. There's a handy-dandy conversion factor that he can use: 1 h.p. = 746 watts. This, of course, assumes 100% conversion efficiency. I won't go into the details of where this conversion factor came from, but it is somewhat like saying 1 foot = 12 inches. It's not a 'fudge factor', it's real.
If Waterhouse desires the equivalent of 6 h.p. to drive his boat, it would require 746 X 6 watts - or 4476 watts at 100% efficiency. The process of converting from electrical energy to mechanical energy (watts to h.p.) will involve some loss (in the form of heat, mostly), and if he wants some speed control rather than simply on-off, there will be additional loss. With very good equipment, about 75% efficiency can be achieved. That means the batteries should be capable of supplying 4476/0.75 or 5968 watts.
For a number of reasons, it would be better to run such a system at a higher voltage than 12 volts. This can be done by connecting the batteries in series. A good start would be 36 volts. At that voltage, the batteries must supply 5968/36 or 165.78 amps. The battery capacity is obtained by multiplying the amps times the time duration desired.
Waterhouse says he only wants 30 minutes of power. That requires 165.78/2 or 82.89 amphours. Batteries should never be discharged more than 50% of their rated capacity, therefore, the battery capacity should be at least 165.78 amphours. At 36 volts, that's about equivalent to three 8D batteries connected in series.
I don't know what kind of dinghy he has, or how big a man he is, but that's a bit more than I can simply "plop into the dinghy." If a generator is going to keep up with a 6 h.p. drain on the batteries, it would have to be equivalent to the power consumption - 5,968 watts - as a minimum. There's also some loss involved in this process, and a generator shouldn't be run at its full rating for extended periods. You'd probably be looking at about an 8kw unit to keep up.
I'm not familiar with the power requirements for his boat, but I suspect he could drive the boat for short periods on less than 6 h.p. Electric power isn't totally impractical for short periods at relatively low power settings - as some folks have already demonstrated - but the above demonstrates that there are a few problems to face when trying to use electric power for long distances. Hope this helps.
Tom - It sure helped us put things in perspective, thanks.
75-KNOT BOAT UNDER ELECTRIC POWER?
I'm in the process of trying to set a world speed record for electric boats, using a picklefork hydroplane with an electric outboard motor. I also have a 27-ft trimaran that will carry an electric outboard.
Boats with gasoline outboards are not stuck with the choice of either a low-power electric trolling motor or a complicated inboard installation. It is relatively easy to have a machine shop make an electric golf cart motor (e.g. advanced DC 8" diameter) mounted vertically to a standard outboard lower unit. A controller would be needed, and the Curtis or similar golf cart quality controllers are tough and stand up in Pebble Beach-type coastal environments. Use 6-volt golf cart batteries wired in series to get the voltage (power) you want, and then add more strings wired in parallel to get the amps (running time) you need.
My motto for the trimaran is 'add lightness', so we will only use six or eight batteries. However, those who need lead weight down low could get very creative.
Dave Cloud, the builder and crew chief on my hydroplane, holds many of the current distance and speed records for electric cars and boats, and converts cars for a living. Check out the hydroplane at www.cloudelectric.com, and click 'Cloud EV Projects'. Dave consults on projects and also builds things; he is a real resource for electric boat conversions. Incidentally, we missed the 70 mph U.S. record by 10 mph at Devil's Lake, Oregon, last October, so I'll be running again in March outside Sacramento with a second electric motor mounted on top of the first one and fresher batteries. Target: 75+ mph.
I read your December article on the handful of brave souls on the Bay who have repowered their sailboats with electric motors. I wanted to try to contact them to compare notes on a project that I'm working on - repowering my 1974 Ericson 32 with an electric motor. Unfortunately, I left my copy of Latitude on a plane over the holidays. Would it be possible to get a copy of the article? Could you tell me how to contact the folks interviewed in the article?
Robert - For copies of articles that appeared in back issues of Latitude, mail a check for $7 to Latitude 38, Attn: Back Issues, 15 Locust Ave., Mill Valley, CA 94941.
It's not our policy to give out private addresses, but we printed your email address so that they could contact you if they so desire.
When we left Ventura in December of 2000 to head to Mexico, I - like Doug Clark who wrote to you in the September issue - looked everywhere I could think of to get the current net times and frequencies for HF radio. What I found were bits and pieces that didn't add up to what was really happening. As the holder of a Ham Amateur Extra license, I was interested in all the nets in the area. Over the last several months I have compiled the following information - valid as of November - which might be of help to others:
Marine Radio Service Nets - commonly called 'SSB nets'.
UTC FREQ NET
0200 4.054 USB South Bound (Alternate .048)
1400 8.116 USB Amigo (Alternates +/- .003)
1500 6.212 USB Picante (formerly 6.203)
Ham Nets - which require a General license or higher; or in Mexican waters, Technician license and the Mexican Provisional permit. In either case, to operate legally in Mexican waters, their Provisional permit is mandatory. The Chubasco and Baja nets, in particular, are a great source for weather information.
UTC FREQ NET
0000 3.968 LSB Happy Hour (during Std Time only?)
0230 14.313 USB Pacific Seafarer's (time approx.)
0330 14.313 USB Pacific Seafarer's Roll Call (time approx.)
1430 3.968 LSB Sonrisa (Warm-up session at 1415)
1530 7.294 LSB Chubasco (WX at 1533-35) (Organizational session at 1515)
1600 7.238 LSB Baja California Maritime (WX at 1615)
1700 14.340 USB Calif/Hawaii (Warm-up at 1600)
1900 14.340 USB Manana (WX at 1915) (Warm-up session at 1830Z)
2200 21.402 USB Pacific Maritime
24 hr 14.300 USB 24 Hr Maritime
All nets are seven days a week - except Calif/Hawaii and Manana which are Monday through Saturday.
Some nets change times and/or frequencies with the time changes as noted:
Baja CA Maritime: PacStd, 16Z, 7.238; PacDLSvgs, 15Z, 7.260 (maybe)
Chubasco: PacStd, 1530; PacDLSvgs, 1445 (Organizational session 15 min before)
Picante: PacStd, 1500, PacDLSvgs, 1430 (net time changes "around" the Time Change periods)
Sonrisa: PacStd 1415 Warm-up, 1430 Net; PacDLSvgs 1330 Warm-up, 1345 Net
Begin DLSvgs time: US, 1st Sun in Apr; MX, 1st Sun in May
End DLSvgs time: US, last Sun in Oct; MX, last Sun in Sept
Currently, from Santa Rosalia to below Mazatlan, these nets start at 0700 and last until about 1000. We would hope cruisers will refrain from using their Airmail/Sailmail during these times while close to other boats in an anchorage or at a marina. Archie and Beverly Ackart Sea-tacean In the Sea of Cortez
PHOTO ON THE BAY
Yippee! That's me aboard my Freya leading the parade of Catalina 34s around Blackaller in 'Lectronic Latitude's coverage of Seaweed Soup on San Francisco Bay. I never thought I'd make it into Latitude! But we had a great race, too, ultimately finishing third, a personal best.
I'd like to have a copy of the photo, so I'd like to know your policy on reprints. I'm looking for either a hard or soft copy for an 8x10.
George - Clip the page out of the magazine or xerox it, and send it to Latitude 38, Attn: Photo Requests, 15 Locust Ave., Mill Valley, CA 94941, along with a check for $25 for a black and white print or $50 for a color print (depending on original source). Email Annie with further questions.
OPEN 30 CLASS
In order to create greater awareness, the newly-formed Open 30 Class has switched websites to www.open30.com. The Open 30 development rule is dedicated to producing innovative, high-performance, offshore racing designs according to a simple and cost-effective formula. Many top designers have joined the Open 30 movements, including the Owen Clarke Design Group, Van Gorkom Yacht Design, Mills Yacht Design, and Alan Andrews Yacht Design.
PLANNING FOR CRUISING WITH CHILDREN
Over a year ago we purchased a Passport 42, and since then have been preparing her to take off cruising in October of 2003. We have two children - Emily, 7, and, Martin, 6. I would like to get to know another family that is getting ready to go cruising. Ideally, this family would also be in the San Francisco Bay Area, and would be preparing to cruise in 2002. We would like to shadow them. I like to trailblaze when there is a need to trailblaze, but if there is someone who has gone down a similar path just before, it would be nice to have their information. Besides, I think it would be a good outlet. After all, I know our friends are getting a little tired of hearing of our preparations. We can be reached at: ace at malindi.com.
We are considering doing the 2003 Ha-Ha, as we know it would be a great opportunity for networking and sharing experiences. But we wish more families took part in the Ha-Ha.
P.S. I'm one of those that has to pick up two Latitudes - so my husband and I don't have boisterous discussions over who gets to read it from cover to cover first. I love the stories and Letters. I also think Mary in Classified Advertising is great. She helped me sell our Club Nautique membership.
Mary Heeney, Lou Dietz, Emily and Martin
Mary, Lou, Emily & Martin - Thanks for the nice words. What you might also be on the lookout for are families sailing south who maintain active Web sites; there are some great ones out there these days. As for the Ha-Ha, there's usually about 10 to 15 kids under the age of 16 - which is about 10 to 15 more kids than you're likely to encounter at any other time while sailing south to Cabo.
Dave Harrison wrote in asking about Olson 30 sailing in San Diego. He should contact Keith Lorence, who not only has an Olson 30 in San Diego, but is the most winning skipper in Olson 30 Nationals. Keith works at Sail California Yacht Brokerage on Shelter Island.
Ken Vander Hoek
THE BEST LITTLE CRUISING CITY ON THE EAST COAST
While in Florida last spring, my husband and I were reading a treasured Latitude cover to cover when we were quite taken aback by one reader's unfavorable report on Fort Lauderdale.
Since we had been West Coast cruisers - we did the fun-filled '98 Ha-Ha aboard Sanctuary and the '99 Ha-Ha aboard Tapatai, we entered the world of East Coast cruising with caution and without local knowledge of Fort Lauderdale. Having sold our Ericson 46 Tapatai in California, we were beginning the all-too-familiar experience of refitting a new-to-us Tayana 52 Shamal. This meant searching for the best boatyard, marine stores, and marine service people. We had positive experiences that began in the fall of 2000 and are continuing today. In fact, here are some specific recommendations we'd make to fellow cruisers: Summerfield Boat Works (www.summerfieldboat.com), a full-service yard with a cordial, punctual, and competent staff on the New River; Unlimited Electronics and Ward's Electronics. Beard's Refrigeration; Sailorman (www.sailorman.com), West Marine, and Boat Owners Warehouse (888-262-8799), for boat gear; and Gaghagen's Diving & Towing Salvage Company, (pager 954-992-4461).
When it comes to marinas and slips, it's very expensive in Fort Lauderdale, but the marinas offer all the conveniences and extras. A more affordable option is to look for slips in the area around Las Olas or a slip in front of a private home.
We'd also like to recognize the friendly assistance we received from the Sheriff's Department, the Marine Division of the Police Department, the medical services, and Chinnock Marine, Inc. - all in the Lauderdale area. There are 165 miles of navigable waterway here that feature lush, tropical beauty, miles of pristine beaches, and countless restaurants, nightspots and other activities. And the Intracoastal Waterway is quite the highlight for many boaters.
For us it's unanimous, Fort Lauderdale is one of the best places to outfit and cruise a boat.
Mike and Sallie Arndt
Mike & Sallie - Thanks for the report. Just one question - and we're not trying to be smart - how do you cope with the heat and humidity of summer?
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