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Regarding the question of whether a guy with a boat or a guy with a bike could do the San Diego to Cabo Ha-Ha faster, bet on the guy with the boat. I base this opinion on an article my wife Bonnie found called Cruising to Cabo With Greg LeMond. It was about Greg LeMond - three-time Tour de France winner - and some other bicycle racers doing a 1,500-mile training ride from San Jose, California, to Cabo San Lucas at the tip of Baja. LeMond's initial plan was to ride 120 miles a day, but this didn't last on Baja. Author Erik Gruenwedel explains:

"Hours later, LeMond, during a break inside the motorhome, devoured a bag of Lorna Doones while studying the map. 'This is crazy riding 200 kilometers a day,' he said, wiping the crumbs on his sleeve. 'It's too early in the year. It's tough enough riding this distance during the summer,' he chuckled, as he skipped down the steps, mounted his bike, and took chase on his already departed teammates."

Bob Fraik
Impulse, SC 52
Dana Point

Bob - There's another reason to favor the boat over the bike - you can sail while you sleep easier than you can bike while you sleep.


I'm sure there are a lot of people who write in asking about the 'perfect boat'. Count me in. I'm in the process of looking for a 35 to 40-foot deep water boat which will be home for me for the next several years. I'm 30 years old, have moderate sailing experience, and hope to start a circumnavigation next year with a couple of friends. I was hoping to spend about $40,000, and wanted to know if you have ever done an article or had people write in about the best liveaboard boat for transoceanic sailing?

In addition, are there any specific features that you would insist on?

I appreciate any wisdom or information that your staff or other readers could share on the subject.

Jeremy Anderson

Jeremy - There's no perfect boat any more than there is a perfect spouse. Some prefer them lean and fast, and others are attracted to fuller and more comfortable shapes. Besides, it's foolish to aspire to perfection, because there's a serious matter of diminishing returns after 'perfectly adequate'. The truth of the matter is that in good hands, probably 80% of sailboats over 30 feet are perfectly capable of circumnavigations. If you've followed Latitude for any length of time, you know it's not that rare for folks to have circumnavigated in smaller boats. While we're not going to do it, others have gone around the world in common boats such as Columbia 24s - and in even much smaller ones. While at Latitude's Sail Expo Party for circumnavigators, we had a chance to speak with Stephen and Marja Vance, who circumnavigated from '79 - '86 aboard a Cal 27 named Twiga, and who have earned their livings at sea ever since. Their advice: "Go with the boat you have, and keep it simple."

We think there are two important things to remember. First, that the type of boat is not as important as the individual boat's condition. Just because you buy a Mercedes doesn't mean it hasn't been trashed out. So if you don't know boats, get a survey from a guy who knows what he's doing. Second, the boat is nowhere near as important as the skipper. Give a poor sailor the best and most expensive boat in the world, and he's likely to end up unsafe and miserable. But give a talented skipper an average and inexpensive boat, and he'll be safe, happy, and comfortable. The old saying is as true today as it was when it was coined: "It's not the ships, but the men in them."

Enough generalities, you want specifics. On the assumption that you're a relatively young guy who is looking for an inexpensive but functional boat that provides a big bang for the buck, you might look into something like a Cascade 36. They may not be the most modern, sleek, or glitzy design, but they sail pretty well and have proven they can do the job. Here's a few other good possibilities and their prices culled from last month's Classy Classifieds: Yankee 30, $7,000; Columbia 30, $12,500; Farallon 29, $7,500; Coronado 34, $34,000; Spencer 35, $39,000; Ranger 33, $17,000; Contessa 35, $39,000; Rafiki 35, $20,000; Rhodes 38, $29,000; and a Chris-Craft 37 sloop, $21,500. Unless these boats have been trashed, they should be up for the job.

When it comes to features that we'd insist on, it all has to do with the basics: that the keel and rudder are in good shape and firmly attached; that the mast and rigging are in good shape; that there's a good set of working sails, plus a couple of good light-air sails. If there are holes in the inventory, you can buy used sails inexpensively. When it comes to gear - which you probably meant by "features" - you'll want the following, more or less in order of importance: Three adequate sized anchors and appropriate rode, VHF radio, two GPS units, a depthsounder, an EPIRB, a good dinghy, and a diesel engine with lots of life left. It would also be nice to have a radar and a liferaft, and if you still have money, it would be nice to have a watermaker and refrigeration. But if it's a case of going without them or not going, you know what to do. Yes, most cruisers would have a lot more gear than you, so here's a mantra for you: 'Less stuff, more fun.' On alternate days, tell yourself, 'Less stuff, less maintenance.' For inspiration, read Joshua Slocum, who humorously and effectively pointed out how little a mariner really needs.

How will you know when you and your boat are ready for the trip? Sail from the Golden Gate to the Farallones and back five times in the spring. If you feel comfortable at the end of that, the rest of the world shouldn't be much of a problem.


I want to find a solid cruising boat - perhaps something like a Southern Cross 31 - to kick around the Med for the summer. You know, do some sailing, then do some excursions to drink wine in Italy, that kind of thing. But I don't know European brands. I'm trying to get something for around 20K. Any ideas on where I should look?

Named Misplaced
Northern California

N.M. - There are so many places to look we hardly know where to recommend that you start. Perhaps Turkey and Greece, which are a little off in the boonies, and traditionally where some cruising dreams founder. Just start visiting all the boatyards and marinas - which in itself, is a heck of a grand time. We also think that Spain and Spain's Balearic Islands would be better than the French and Italian Rivieras, as the cost of living in the latter is so extreme. Anybody else have some suggestions?

We wish you luck - and salute your concept. The Med may be crowded, but there are still many fabulous places to enjoy, even on a relatively tight budget. You just have to be clever. One great feature of the Med is that you're never too far away from side trips to all the great places in Europe. If you're in Barcelona, for instance, grab a couchette on the evening train to Paris, and the next morning you're enjoying coffee and a croissant. From there, it's only a couple of more hours by train to the curiosities of Amsterdam, or Austin Powers' London. Sometimes compact - as in the case of Europe - is good.


While I live on Chesapeake Bay, I sail in San Francisco Bay about three months a year in the summer. After trying several different locations around the Bay, we kept the boat at Richmond, and have enjoyed some good sailing behind the breakwater and out into the Bay. Last year, however, the winds seemed unusually strong. We are wondering if we should try the South Bay, and that sailing out of San Leandro Marina might perhaps be easier. We read Kimball Livingston's Sailing the Bay, but it didn't offer much help on this question.

We sail a Pearson Ensign, which is a 22-footer with a full keel and a low center of gravity. By the way, it was recently reported that this design is going back into production, using the same molds! In any event, we often reef the main, but when it blows over 30 knots, it still gets to us. We're both over 70.

Also, do you have any information on 'blind racing', which is sailing for blind people. We do that here in Virginia.

Signature Unreadable

S.U. - We're not experts on the South Bay, but we'd advise against the west side of the South Bay, as the summer afternoons are very windy. We're not familiar enough with San Leandro, so perhaps some sailors from that area can give us a seasonal weather advisory. Generally speaking, however, we think Richmond's probably a pretty good location. It usually has quite a bit less wind than the rest of the Bay, and you can also take protection behind the breakwater - which San Leandro does not have. Given your seniority, you might also consider the flat water and relatively benign sailing conditions of the Oakland Estuary.

We're not up to speed on sailing programs for the blind, so we suggest that you contact BAADS. The Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors at (415) 281-0212.


On April 16, we believe we had a hoax distress call during the Pacific Seafarer's Net on 14.313 Mhz. It was nearly identical to what we also believe was a hoax distress call on April 9. Last night's call supposedly came from two hours off of Santa Cruz; the call the week before supposedly came from near Cedros Island, Mexico.

The boat claiming to be in distress last night - "I'm taking on water and sinking two hours off Santa Cruz" - went out on 14313. A short time later, the boat supposedly in distress claimed that they were in contact with the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard says there was no such contact. There were other things that lead us to believe that the call was a hoax. Although the boat was said to be 42-ft long, the supposed operator said there was no GPS. Nor could he give the name of the Coast Guard vessel that supposedly came alongside - despite the fact that the Coast Guard vessels always give their name at the beginning of every transmission. In addition, the 'rescue' was just too fast. The radio operator's technique profile was similar to the April 9 incident.

It should be distressing to all mariners and taxpayers that the Coast Guard, which couldn't immediately be sure it wasn't a legitimate distress call, had to dispatch a Coast Guard C-130 to sweep the area. Not only does this cost several thousand dollars per hour, but it puts the S&R crew at unnecessary risk. It's a difficult situation when a psychopathic radio operator needs to bring attention to himself by initiating a hoax distress call. We have to treat distress calls seriously, but by paying attention to the radio operator's techniques, it might be possible to identify him later. Here are the details of what we know about the offending operator in the two hoaxes:

1) Comes on frequency 14.313 without a Mayday call to report that he's taking on water and sinking.

2) After initiating the emergency, and after we move the vessel roll call session from 14.313 to 14.300, he follows everyone to 14.300 - conceivably to create further disruption.

3) Cannot be heard from my location at 40°54'N by 124°06'W. But he is heard by those over 1,000 miles away at 0400z on 20 meters after skip starts stretching out. I believe he is within 500 miles of my location.

4) Leaves the radio for extended periods of time.

5) Reports non-confirmable radio contact with S&R authorities, and visual contact with rescue vessels within an unrealistically short period of time after the initial distress call.

6) Uses either no call sign (09 April) or fake call sign (16 April).

I would only guess that the motive of the offender is to disrupt our 25 vessel roll call session, draw attention to himself, and cause general mayhem. The Coast Guard and Mexican Navy S&R mission scrambles are especially disconcerting.

Any suggestions out there?

Robert Reed
The Pacific Seafarer's Net Amateur Radio Station N6HGG
Humboldt Bay


There are many factors that allow the 'family' of the Mull 82 to continue to be competitive after all these years. One of them - as many of our opponents will attest - is Alejandra, our mainsheet grinder and secret weapon. She has the subtle ability to dredge up one's stored away maverick behavior of years before mortgage payments and workaday taxable living took over our lives. Alejandra also has the enviable feminine ability to defuse volatile tension - such as can be found in the midst of the testosterone-laden wolf pack of 'Jakes Gym'.

In our negotiations to secure this particular crewmember for MEXORC, I can say that Alejandra's mother was promised that her daughter would be placed on a pedestal, and that no money would change hands. Fortunately, Fast Al had been taking English lessons, and had asked me - when the afterguard discussed grinder gender differences - if it could be done without anatomical references.

I think a good caption for the photo would be, "In these days of inflation, it's virtually an insult to tell a girl she looks like a million bucks."

Jason James
Hermosa Beach

Jason - You're obviously smitten with Alejandra, for it's turned you into a blithering idiot. After the first paragraph, we gave up trying to edit the nonsense that you'd written. But don't worry, everyone gets the point.


I have a 20 hp outboard engine that is about 10 or 15 years old. Is there a resource in the Bay Area that could help me find out how much it's worth?

John Imrie

John - Call an outboard repair shop. Naturally, a lot will depend on the condition of the engine and whether it was marketed by Sears or by Honda. In any event, don't expect a fortune, as today's outboard motors are significantly better than those built 15 years ago.


Henry Prokop wrote in to ask about local junk-rigged sailboats. You mentioned Whitefin - which I wrote about in an article you published last year. She's owned by Dave Gissandaner of Dave's Diving Service. Incidentally, Dave bought the schooner Talofa, a former Master Mariner boat that had been in Morro Bay for several years, from a Latitude ad last November. He and some friends delivered it to the Bay a few days before Christmas, and she has been moored right off Schoonmaker Marina ever since. No doubt you've seen her.

Another local boat with a junk rig is Peter Bailey's Bertie, a Spray-design that was built here in Sausalito at the former Shipwright's Co-op at Arques. Bertie, which is berthed at Galilee Harbor, has several ocean passages to her credit, including to Alaska and back.

Steve Virello of Sausalito, known as 'Tow Boat Steve' for his 20-ft tow boat, is yet another local junk rig aficionado. Steve originally built his little fiberglass 'tug' as a junk-rigged sloop with a centerboard. In fact, he once towed a 36-ft Piver trimaran for me from Black John Slough on the Petaluma River all the way to Sausalito with an earlier boat. As we were under tow to Sausalito, Steve had his junk-rig boat sail up to give us some extra horsepower to get across San Pablo Bay. It was quite a sight!

Steve bought a used 24-ft Gladiator sloop a few years ago, gutted the boat, and rerigged her as a junk sloop. He regularly sails up and down the Sausalito waterfront. As is the case with Peter Bailey, Steve could well be considered an expert on the junk rig, having designed and built the rig for his Gladiator 'conversion'.

John Skoriak


We left San Francisco almost four years ago and are currently anchored at the Flamenco Island anchorage in Panama City, Panama - along with 35 other boats from all over the world. Two days ago a megayacht by the name of Tatoosh, approximately 250 feet long, transited the Canal and stopped at the anchorage of Flamenco Island. What makes this so special - aside from the normal accoutrements of really big dinghies and helicopters - is the fact that very neatly nestled on really big davits on the port side of the yacht is a fully rigged, 40-ft go-fast sloop! No kidding. Now that's a class act! Sorry we couldn't get pictures, as the yacht didn't stay long enough.

By the way, Panama City is just amazing. We have been here for two months and just love it. Parts and supplies are available everywhere, and if for some reason you can't get it here, you can have it shipped in and actually receive them. Panama City is an great place, and well worth the time.

Ted and Shari Alcorn
San Francisco

Ted & Shari - Two years ago, two of the McCaw brothers - telecommunication moguls from the Northwest - launched a couple of spectacular motoryachts, said to be the fifth and tenth largest in the world. We can never get this straight, but we think it was Keith, the younger brother, who owned the 323-ft Le Grand Bleu, an industrial-looking monster painted flat blue, that carried the Dubois 72 Bellatrix - among other vessels - on deck. In fact, they launched Bellatrix and we raced against her in the St. Bart's 'Parade' on New Year's Eve. The other boat, which we think was John McCaw's, the really rich brother, was the slightly smaller, 303-ft, Tatoosh, a very elegant design in gleaming white. Her 'sailing dinghy is a 43-ft half size version of the Agnelli family's all carbon, all black, all nasty looking Frers' designed Stealth. Unfortunately, there had been some problem with the 43-footer, so she'd been left in Antigua and didn't race in St. Barts.

As we all know, the last year hasn't been kind to the tech and telecom industries, and the McCaw brothers - as anyone knows who has been following the fortunes of the Craig McCaw-backed OneWorld America's Cup syndicate knows, haven't been spared. So for whatever reason, whichever brother owned Tatoosh sold her to one of the few people who could still easily afford her - Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. The rumored price was $100 mil. Allen then reportedly spent something like $6 million buying a slip for her in Antibes, where he frequently kept Meduse, his little 198-footer.

Anyway, Tatoosh was back at St. Barts for New Years this year, but her 'deck boat' didn't race. And there was no sign of Le Grand Bleu. As it turns out, David, the relatively young captain, was a good friend of Doña de Mallorca's boyfriend when she lived in Palma. In the early '90s, they used to hang out together at Anne Neilson and David Lightowler's famous yachtie bar called - you won't believe this - Latitude 39. David and Doña had a nice chat over the VHF, after which he had to get back to his considerable responsibilities. And this wraps up our mega megayacht report for this month.

As for Panama, we're going to repeat the opinion we've been expressing for years: It's perhaps the most underrated cruising area in the world, featuring incredible diversity, untamed nature, and countless opportunities for serious adventure.


I've spent the last three months in Mexico, so I've been a bit out of touch. But when I arrived in San Diego this week and started reading through the April Latitude, I noticed the article requesting information on West Coast circumnavigators. Well, we're Kurt and Piella Mondloch, and we've just completed a 50,000-mile circumnavigation that saw us visiting 50 countries. We left Puerto Vallarta in April of '96, and headed west. We crossed our outboard track in January of last year.

Our Osprey is a Bob Perry designed Tatoosh 42 sloop homeported in Port Orchard, Washington. Probably the fastest sail of our circumnavigation was from Bonaire to the San Blas Islands, where we had four consecutive 180-mile days in very spirited conditions.

We'd also heard a lot of stories about the Baja Bash, but figured that it was all relative after our six-week experience in the Red Sea. It turns out that we motored out of Cabo on April 1, and arrived 800 miles later in San Diego on April 8! We did five overnighters, refueled in Turtle Bay, anchored in San Quintin another night, then did a final overnighter to San Diego. Obviously, we had an ideal weather window.

As you know, the prevailing winter wind on the Pacific side of Baja is moderate to strong northwesterlies with lumpy seas from the northwest. Spring is the transition time, and the transition weather is signalled when a seasonal low moves over Yuma, Arizona, effectively blocking heavy northwest winds from Baja. The seasonal low established itself for the first time the day we sailed from Cabo. Although the low meant a 'June gloom' marine layer for Southern California and Baja, it meant smiling faces for us, since we didn't have to bash into heavy winds and seas. The Chubasco Net, with their excellent weather forecasts, definitely has my vote.

Unfortunately, we'll be motoring up the coast to Seattle during the Circumnavigator's Ball at Sail Expo, but we'll be there in spirit.

Kurt & Piella Mondloch
Osprey, Tatoosh 42
Port Orchard, WA

Readers - If any of you are heading north from Cabo, we'd underline the bit about seasonal lows over Yuma blocking the heavy northwest winds from Baja. A gloom is better than a bash any day.


My parents, Arthur J. (Mickey) and Eleanor T. (Ellie) Beland, circumnavigated from Long Beach from 1979 to 1982 aboard Aikane, a New Zealand 37 cutter. They and Aikane still reside in Long Beach.

Frederick A. Beland
West Coast

Fred - Thanks for 'telling on' your parents. We'll add their names to our West Coast Circumnavigators List. And we'll continue to request the names of circumnavigators not yet on our list.


Please add Pierre and Yvonne Harwood of the Tayana 52 Alcyone to your list of West Coast Circumnavigators. I imagine they would be the first and probably only brother and sister team to accomplish the feat. They sailed out of Vancouver, BC, but finished their westbound circumnavigation two years later by crossing their outbound track in Honolulu last July.

We met them in Honolulu because we were in the process of delivering our new-to-us Hylas 42 from San Diego to Portland. Alcyone was tied to the front dock of the Hawaii YC, and the dockmaster asked us to side-tie with them until more of the TransPac finishers vacated their slips. Initially, Pierre and Yvonne seemed like reserved English folks, but after we got our own slip, they came by with beers and proved our initial assessment wrong. During a series of conversations, we learned that they had grown up in England, immigrated to Canada as young adults, and that for a time Yvonne had lived in Australia. Pierre went on to build commercial buildings in Vancouver. We learned that both had been previously married, and that their circumnavigation was sort of a Plan B. They did have other crew for the first half of their trip, but after Australia it was too far for friends to travel. They did, however, meet their brother in South Africa.

Pierre's original plan was to do a longer circumnavigation and return to England. But he pushed on, and skipped England and the North Atlantic entirely. Perhaps he was anxious to see his lady friend in North Vancouver, or did he have a premonition? As for Yvonne, she told us that she could have continued on for several more years. We enjoyed their company immensely, and last saw them as they departed Honolulu at the end of July.

When I returned to work in early October, I emailed them. I'd heard they'd had a longer passage back than we, and wanted to give them a hard time about it. When I didn't hear from them, I decided that perhaps they'd met so many people in their travels that they wanted to resume private lives. I couldn't have been more wrong. A few weeks ago we got a long letter from Yvonne with the shocking news that Pierre had suffered a heart attack less than four weeks after returning home, and that he never regained consciousness. When the circumnavigators gather, I hope they'll raise a glass to my friend Pierre.

John Colby
Portland, OR


In a response to a letter from Darryl Carrie in your January issue, you mentioned a successful campaign by environmental activists to prevent the construction of a 116-square mile industrial saltworks within the UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site - the Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaíno alongside Laguna San Ignacio. I was one of the individuals participating in that campaign, and would like to respond to your comments. In your editorial, you suggested 1) That we merely enjoyed vilifying a multinational corporation, 2) That the saltworks was an insignificant matter compared to the threats to the Sea of Cortez, and 3) That the environmentalists have now abandoned the Peninsula of Baja California and the Sea of Cortez rather than building on our victory.

Any of your readers who have ever anchored in the shelter of the lagoons along the coast of Baja California know the rare pleasure of barely altered vistas, dark starlit nights, and only the sounds of the water lapping the shore - with an occasional whale breath thrown in for good measure. But for the effort to stop the saltworks, it is safe to say this would have been lost forever to all those who enjoyed such peaceful and scenic vistas at Laguna San Ignacio. And it would have set a dangerous precedent for the future of the rest of the Peninsula's resources.

If built, the saltworks would have destroyed habitat by changing the characteristics of the lagoon and the surrounding area through noise, population growth, physical disturbances, and indirect economic development. The plans called for the creation of a massive 116-square mile industrial landscape of evaporation ponds - larger than Laguna San Ignacio itself - a million-ton salt stockpile, fuel and water tanks, a 1.25-mile long pier with a shipping dock and conveyer belts running from crystallization ponds to the pier's end, workshops, headquarters buildings, and the facilities necessary to support 200 employees while on site. The upper end of Laguna San Ignacio would be invaded by noise from 17 diesel pumps operating 24 hours a day to draw 6,600 gallons of saltwater per second from the lagoon into the evaporation ponds. The pier, to be developed exclusively for transporting the salt to ocean-going ships, would have been built in a key abalone and lobster fisheries area, and in the migration path of the Pacific Gray Whales.

While Mitsubishi did provide a villain better than anyone could expect from central casting, this fight was about enforcing the rule of Mexican and international law regarding protected areas, and about protecting the unique ecosystems on the Pacific Coast of Baja California. The victory has earned us substantial leverage, which we now use to protect the biosphere reserves in the Sea of Cortez, other marine resources on the coasts of the Peninsula, as well as to fight against the pillaging of the Sea's natural resources. My colleagues and I have worked in Baja California and the Sea of Cortez for over a decade. It was not our first effort, nor will it be our last.

Laguna San Ignacio has four levels of environmental protection. In 1972, Laguna San Ignacio was declared a refuge for migratory birds and land-based wildlife. In 1976, Laguna San Ignacio was declared a Pacific Gray Whale refuge. A 1988 Mexican government decree created the Biosphere Reserve of El Vizcaíno, and in 1993, The El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve was added to the International Man and the Biosphere (MAB-UNESCO) network. The Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaíno was also inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage Site list at that same time. Laguna San Ignacio is completely within the boundary of the Biosphere Reserve and the World Heritage Site.

The campaign to save Laguna San Ignacio did focus on whales and their habitat. As charismatic species, whales legitimately serve as focal points to stimulate public opinion in favor of efforts to protect the health of their critical habitat and the ocean generally. Whales are high-end indicators of the health of the ecosystems in which they live. There is a direct correlation between their health and the health of the ocean's biodiversity. The Mitsubishi project was condemned as "an unreasonable risk" both to gray whales and the entire lagoon ecosystem by leading international scientists, including nine Nobel laureates, the President-Elect of the Mexican Academy of Sciences, and renowned whale scientist Dr. Roger Payne. In short, there was an overwhelming public and scientific consensus that World Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves, and Whale Sanctuaries must be protected, not industrialized as Mitsubishi proposed.

So there is no doubt about my viewpoint, from February 1995 to March 2000, I was a paid consultant to NRDC and IFAW. In the campaign to save Laguna San Ignacio, I acted as a spokesperson, strategist and advisor for the international coalition of 56 environmental NGOs working to stop the construction of the saltworks facility. Along with my graduate student research team, we helped design a strategy to convince the world's largest multinational corporation not to build its saltworks in a natural protected area. We hope to have similar success in the future in helping to protect the Baja California Peninsula, the Sea of Cortez and our marine environment in general.

Mark J. Spalding
Professor, International Environmental Policy & Law Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, University of California at San Diego

Mark - As we said before, it made no difference to us that the salt plant was stopped. Indeed, in terms of our personal self-interest, it would be great if no part of Baja or the Sea of Cortez were ever developed. Nonetheless, we have major concerns about that environmental 'victory'.

1) It seemed to us that much of the tone of the campaign against the salt plant was hate-based. The world is so full of hate right now, we think it was gratuitous.

2) Many of the so-called 'facts' against the project struck us as being intentionally deceptive. You, for instance, claim there was going to be a "116 square-mile industrial landscape". This reminds us of Northern California 'environmentalists' who claim
that "we've already lost 90% of the Bay" - as if it originally stretched from Redding in the north, to Tahoe in the east, to Los Angeles in the south. In some technical sense the claim might be true, but not in the way a normal person would understand it. With all due respect, we'll bet you a torta and a cerveza that your "116-mile square mile industrial landscape" claim is similarly misleading.

3) To say that the salt plant would have reduced cruisers' enjoyment of Laguna San Ignacio is another unconscionable deception. We've been covering the Baja coast for 25 years, and we've never heard of a single cruising boat that ever used Laguna San Ignacio as an anchorage. Indeed, the Coast Pilot specifically advises vessels not to enter. And it's not as if structures necessarily destroy an anchorage. We've never heard a cruiser complain that there's a village on the edge of Turtle Bay or that there's an ancient smelting plant at Santa Rosalia. Frankly, these structures bring a little interest to what are otherwise virtually uninhabited and undeveloped 700-mile stretches of coast.

4) As you know, there's been a salt plant operating in a similar nearby lagoon for 50 years, without any apparent environmental catastrophe. As such, we're a little skeptical about the claim that a similar - and even larger plant - couldn't be safely operated at Laguna San Ignacio.

5) Above all, we remain profoundly disturbed that U.S. and international environmentalists haven't been similarly vociferous in their efforts to protect the Sea of Cortez - a far greater and more endangered resource than Laguna San Ignacio. The comparative silence of 'environmentalists' over the Sea of Cortez - despite the reports of terrible destruction published by the New York Times and L.A. Times - is deafening. The apparent lack of concern and action about this much greater problem is something we'd like an environmentalist to explain to us. After all, what would be sensible to treat first, a small infection on a finger, or gangrene on an entire arm?

6) Finally, there's the troubling matter of we Californians, who have gotten rich from relentlessly developing our coast, demanding that Mexico's coast be left natural - in part so the more affluent of us can enjoy pristine playgrounds. Doesn't that play on your conscience even a little?

If we were to give environmentalist 'activists' a bit of advice, it would be to cut the deceptions, snow jobs, heavy spins, and other bullshit that's expected of Enron executives. Treat the public with respect by giving us the unvarnished truth, and all possible options to resolve situations.


It's been about 2.5 years since the City of San Francisco awarded the management contract of Treasure Island Marina to Almar, who have since raised the slip fees over 70%. The old rickety docks remain, although a few have been condemned as unsafe. The most noticeable improvement has been a trailer with heads and showers moved into the parking lot. Guest slips are generally not available, however dinghy privileges for anchored boats are available for a fee. The target date for construction of a new marina is the same now as it was before - two years.

Cheryll Buchynski
Long Time Berther, Treasure Island

Cheryll - The delays come as no surprise to us, for it's difficult to get any project underway in Northern California, where there are always agencies and interest groups standing by to stall or oppose any project. If it was only up to Almar, the project probably would have been completed and operational by now.

A 70% increase doesn't sound like a good thing. However, since a few berths in the Bay have been well beneath the market, a percentage increase might not tell the whole story. What's the price per foot for a slip?


Since I will be on Catalina for a conference in early October, I thought it would be a hoot to sail there - "26 miles across the sea" - and back. Can you and the vast readership give me some advice and answers such as what are the wind, weather and current like at that time of year? Which harbor should I start from? Which charter outfits are better than others? Is there any reason not to sail to my conference?

As for background, I've been sailing for over 20 years now and am currently a partner in a C&C 36. I also crewed in the '92 Pacific Cup, did a bareboat charter in Maine on a Sabre 34, and did three bareboat charters in the BVIs - twice on Moorings 40s and one on a 45-foot cat.

Fred Walter

Fred - It so happens that we're writing our response to your letter from aboard Profligate in Avalon, and Bruce Wickland of the Harbor Patrol has just come aboard to put dye tablets in our four heads. So we asked Wickland, who is the author of the Boating and Diving Catalina, what months he likes the best.

"October, because the crowds are gone and the fall weather is warm. The water is as warm as it's going to get, too. September is also very nice, but they've got a lot of fishing tournaments, so it's not as quiet."

It's easy to get to Catalina from just about anywhere in Southern California - even San Diego and Santa Barbara, although they are both about 80 miles away. If you're looking to come over on a bareboat, it would probably be best to leave from Newport, Long Beach, or Marina del Rey. Marina del Rey and Newport probably have a better selection of bareboats, but the wind is better out of Long Beach. From Long Beach, it's usually a little beat and then a reach over, and off the wind on the way back. There shouldn't be any problem with the weather, wind or current.

The only reason you might not want to sail to the conference is that you might have so much fun going over and while there, that you may 'forget' the conference altogether.


Luciano Corsini wanted to know what happened to the Stephens Brothers of Stockton, one of the more noted boatbuilders in Northern California. Theodore's wife is still alive, and there are two sons and one daughter. All live in Stockton. Nell Stephens, Theodore's wife, is a lifetime member of the Stockton Sailing Club. Kathleen, the daughter of Theodore Stephens, and her husband, Richard Dunn, took over the business when Theodore retired. It is now called the Five Star Marina.

Don Doe


My wife and I are planning on participating in the 2003 Baja Ha-Ha and staying out cruising for at least an additional six months on our Cape Dory 36. We have a couple of questions that we haven't seen addressed on your Baja web page, and I haven't been able to find the answers anywhere else. Maybe you can help.

1) We currently don't have a watermaker, and wonder how cruisers without water tanks replenish their tanks. It doesn't appear that Mexico has many tropical showers. So how hard is it to locate safe water in Mexico?

2) We currently rely on CNG (compressed natural gas) for cooking, and have found a pretty good string of filling stations along the West coast of California. Are there facilities for refilling/exchanging CNG tanks in Mexico?

3) We don't have refrigeration and rely on ice to keep the ice box cold. How difficult is it to get ice in Mexico, preferably ice that is safe to put in drinks?

4) There is plenty of mention about the best time to make the trip down the coast to Mexico, but there isn't much about the best time to make the 'bash' back north. Can you give us any guidance?

Pat Turner
Salt Shaker

Pat - An unlimited amount of water is a wonderful thing. After the Ha-Ha, Ed and Daisy Marill of the CSY 44 Siesta wrote to tell us how much they enjoyed washing their boat with fresh water every day on the way to Cabo because their watermaker was producing so much water. On the other hand, watermakers aren't cheap, need energy to operate, and require some maintenance, so lots of cruisers don't have them. Guy and Deborah Bunting, for example, have spent the last three years cruising their 46-ft cat in the ultra-dry Sea of Cortez. They don't have a watermaker - and they even have an onboard washing machine! We've sailed our boats to Mexico something like 15 times, and we've never had a functioning watermaker.

Unless you like to luxuriate in the shower, it's not hard to live on small amounts of water. The key is to recognize that there are three different kinds of water, and that each is to be used differently. We only drink and cook with bottled water, which is the most expensive and most difficult to store, so we're careful with it. Then there's saltwater, which is plentiful and free. We often use this for the washing of dishes, clothes, and ourselves. Finally, there's the fresh water from the boat tanks, which we normally use to rinse the dishes, our clothes, and ourselves after washing. You get this from marinas or hoses at certain anchorages. You can also take freshwater showers every time you stop at a hotel for a drink or visit one of the many beaches - such as La Ropa at Z-town - where there are public showers on the shore.

CNG goes much faster than propane, and besides, it's not available in Mexico. You're going to want to switch - and follow the normal safety precautions for using highly explosive propane.

Refrigeration is similar to watermakers in that they're not cheap, need energy, and require maintenance. On the other hand, ice cubes and chilled food are, like unlimited water, a wonderful thing. So the choice is yours. Ice is available almost everywhere there is civilization in Mexico, and it's almost always purificado. It's not cheap, however, and it melts quickly unless kept in heavily insulated containers. Having refrigeration, like having a watermaker, is an individual choice depending on how much money you have to spend and how important it is to you.

Ironically, the best time to do the Baja Bash is summertime - as long as you don't get caught by a hurricane. The next best time is winter - which is when everybody wants to head south. The worst time to bash is spring and early summer, which is when most people need to head back north. Monitor the weather, however, and it doesn't have to be so bad.


As recent issues of Latitudes have drifted through Thailand, I've been following the ongoing topic of teak decks - and would like to add my two cents worth. After 5.5 years of cruising in the tropics, our Hans Christian 48 Annapurna is getting an extensive cosmetic refit here in Thailand. This seems to be the perfect place to have the work done, as the price is extremely right, and with careful supervision, the quality is as good as you'd find in the States. And that's a fact. When I say 'careful supervision', I mean looking in on your boat once or twice a day to make sure things go as planned. Or just being around and available. This is what I'd do in the States, too. So far there have been very few screw-ups.

I was impressed when I read one person's report of the cost of installing teak decks in the States - $20,000 to $100,000. Here in Phuket, I've witnessed four complete teak deck installations on boats 40 to 50 feet in length, at costs ranging from $3,500 to $7,500. These are the complete prices, and the decks were installed per Sikaflex instructions. The teak on our Annapurna is still in excellent shape, so we're just having our decks regrooved, primed, yellow-taped, and caulked - for a cost of $1,200, materials included. I fully understand the differences in labor costs, overhead and such in running a business in the United States, and the freight costs of getting teak to the United States - but I still find the difference in price enough to make me scratch my head.

Just to make everyone back home more envious, we are having our boat repainted with three coats of primer, three coats of Awlgrip, and new letters, for about $3,500 U.S. Pro Yachting, the company we're working with, is run by a young Thai couple, 'Pro' - his full name is about 42 letters long - and Jill, who employ about 50 people. They are the nicest boat-related business people we have ever dealt with. They are professional, courteous, neat, on time, and quick to fix any mistakes with a smile. A smile is nothing out of the ordinary here in Thailand, as everybody smiles all of the time.

Another area that might be of interest to Bay Area yachties is stainless work. They use all 316 stainless, and the work is all the same high quality. It's a bit more expensive than the grunt work, but it's still only about a third of what's charged in California. I know I'm going to get slammed from the boat repair companies in the Bay Area, who will say that I'm comparing apples to oranges or that I don't know what the hell I'm talking about. But I was in the trades for 30 years and know quality woodworking, metalwork, and paint work when I see it.

How practical are teak decks in the tropics? Well, you can't walk on them when it's hot in the tropics - and it's always hot in the tropics! If we were buying a boat now, she would have nonskid decks, not teak. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't have teak anywhere on the boat! She'd also be built of aluminum. She'd also have two diesels, a bow thruster, ice maker, garbage compactor, and a pilothouse. All kidding aside, we love Annapurna, and don't believe that we could have chosen a better, more reliable, more comfortable cruising boat. We'll be in Southeast Asia for a year.

Buddy and Ruth Ellison
Annapurna, 48 Hans Christian
San Francisco

Buddy & Ruth - If Thailand were just a few miles away, we're sure that everyone would take their boats there to give Pro Yachting a try. Just as if Shanghai was only a few miles away, we'd all go load up on the latest DVD movies for a buck and can't-tell-the-difference Prada knock-offs for a tenth of the regular price. Alas, Thailand is nearly half way around the world. But we're glad it's working for you.


I've read Latitude 38 from the first issue, which was 25 years ago. In fact, I saved every issue until I ran out of space - at which time I gave my collection to Rob Moore.

Twenty-five years is a long time, I remember the publisher starting out at Clipper Yacht Harbor when slip fees were $2.75/foot/month. Some of the characters around back then were 'Broken Bottles' Bob Jensen, Rob Moore, the Waters brothers, and don't forget Al Martin. Anchorage Marine was around then too - which was the best marine supply store ever. And who can forget Wave Traders? I still have a bad check from Fat Albert for my self-steering vane; he sold it and then left town. Yes, it's been a long time. I've lived in Sausalito all my life and have seen lots of changes, so it's great that Latitude is still around. So keep up the good work.

By the way, you made some comment about S.F. bus drivers earning $100,000 a year. It's true, but in order to do so, they have to work seven days a week, during holidays, and so forth. Some drivers do it because their pension is based on the highest income they ever made in a year. But, hey, if you can drive Muni seven days a week for a year, you earn it.

Thomas Thomas
Sashay, Pearson Alberg 35

Thomas - It's indeed been a long time. There were also Max and Vera of Maverick, Warren of the Bounty II Dulcinea - which he still has - and Rosa of a Caulkins 50. Who ever thought time would pass this quickly? Or that we'd live this long?

We're certain that a Muni bus driver who works seven days a week and takes all the overtime he/she can get, can earn over $100,000. It might be good for him/her, but is it safe for passengers and pedestrians? Wasn't the 40 - or it is 36 - hour work week instituted to prevent the health hazards caused by overwork? While sailing in Mexico in the '80s, we became good friends with a guy who cruised all winter for something like five years in a row. We assumed that he was a trust fund baby, but then he explained that he was actually a full time San Francisco fireman. He assured us that if you knew how to work the union system, it was no problem for a full time firefighter to spend the entire winter cruising in Mexico. Ever since, we haven't been able to shake the nagging suspicion that San Francisco taxpayers are taking it in the shorts.


One of my two aged Garmin 75 GPS units went deaf recently, just before my fiance Helen was to return to the United States from the Caribbean. A few emails to Garmin obtained a return authorization, and a promise from Melissa, New Product Support Specialist, to expedite the repair so that my fiance could return to the Caribbean with the unit.

One week after Garmin got the GPS, Garmin had it repaired and back to Helen - in plenty of time for her to bring it back to the Caribbean. We would not have wanted to traverse the Turks & Caicos and southern Bahamas without a backup GPS, preferably with the same user and electronic interface, so we are delighted with Garmin's special attention to our needs.

Roger Bohl/Helen Morgan
Ariadne II


I have had a Wilcox-Crittenden head in my boat for 20 years. Not wanting to have problems with this crucial equipment, I follow their maintenance instructions and use the recommended products - namely, W-C Head lube. I just purchased another 8 oz. bottle and a maintenance kit from West Marine for $17.99, but later became distressed when I read the following instructions: "Pumping can be made easier by using vegetable oil to condition the leather and gaskets." Vegetable oil costs maybe $1 a quart!

I have wondered if my penchant for purchasing 'marine grade' products was as big a waste of my money as some have been telling me. In this case, the company confirmed it.

Lynn Meissen
Morro Bay, CA

Lynn - When we were chartering Big O in the Caribbean, none of the skippers bought anything to treat the heads. They'd just have the cooks dump the excess salad dressing into the heads, thereby 'treating' the critical rubber and leather parts of the head.

Are many consumer products monumental rip-offs? It seems like it. While walking through a 7/11 recently, we noticed a 1.25 oz container of "fresh breath drops" priced at 79 cents, and that got us to wondering what the cost was per gallon. If we're not mistaken, it works out to about $81 a gallon. If you buy an 8 oz bottle of drinking water for 79 cents, that's about $13 a gallon. By comparison, gasoline - which must be pumped from the bowels of the earth, shipped halfway around the world, refined, shipped to stations, and is then heavily taxed - costs about one-eighth as much a water. Does that sound like a rip-off to you?

One mitigating factor, of course, is the economies of scale. If you sell a trillon gallons of something a year, you can sell it for a lot less than if you only sell 1,000 gallons. Which, we expect, can go a long way to explaining why gas and vegetable oil sell for a fraction of the price of Wilcox-Crittenden toilet lube. But at least they were nice enough to tell you that you could use vegetable oil instead of their product.

Is it a waste of money to buy so-called 'marine grade' products? Sometimes it is. But in many other cases, nonmarine grade stuff is inadequate for the job and can lead to dismastings and other incredibly expensive mishaps. When in doubt, don't be penny wise and pound foolish.


I happened upon your site whilst surfing the Internet, and could not help admiring your magazine. Despite searching, I cannot find a copy of your magazine anywhere - but that's probably because I live in England. If you have any plans to go global, please let me know. Either that or I have made a stupid mistake in not being able to find your superb magazine!

I'm interested in your opinion of boats with ferro cement hulls. I am looking at a 52-ft ferro ketch at the moment, and I am having a hard time finding some unbiased advice on ferro construction. If you could provide your opinion or a link to some information, I would be most grateful!

C.H.J. Waterfield
Falmouth, Cornwall, UK

C.H.J. - We believe the quality of construction is more important than the type of materials used. In other words, we'd rather have a superbly built ferro cement boat than a poorly built one of steel. Unfortunately, there have probably been more poor hulls built of ferro cement than any other material, and it can be difficult to tell the good ones from the bad ones.

As for going 'global', we probably let our best chance slip by. We were presented with an opportunity to buy into two other marine publications in two other major marine markets outside the U.S. But we passed. We don't like not having direct control, and we didn't want to spend more time on airplanes and less time on our boat. So thanks for the compliments, but you can't find Latitude outside the U.S. You'll have to make do with the web, or move to California with everyone else.


I have been chairman of the Charities Committee for Club Cruceros de La Paz for about four years. Along with my husband and some people from the Mexican community, we have formed Fundación Para Los Niños de La Paz, A.C., as an extension of the charity work for children in the community that Club Cruceros performs.

One of the cases that came up involved a young man from Constitución who was scheduled to receive a kidney from his father in March of this year. Because of the low resources of this family, the foundation was asked for 7,000 pesos to help pay for medications that would be needed in connection with the operation. We only had available 4,000 pesos, so at the Club Cruceros board meeting in March, I asked for the remaining 3,000. I was told that Club Cruceros does not help children past the age of 18, and because this young man was 19, they could not help him out.

Three cruisers who had been present at the board meeting - Jeff of Moon Me, and Mike and Tonya of Amazing Grace - decided to head up a campaign to ask for donations from the cruising fleet. They announced the need during the morning net, and within five days a total of 9,015 pesos had been collected. It was decided that the total amount would go into the account of this young man, since it was collected for his operation.

The date of the young man's operation was changed to April 18, because two doctors coming from Culiacan to perform the operation had a conflict with the earlier date. I will send an update after the operation to notify the fleet and the readers in general of the success of this operation.

The doctors and social workers of Hospital Salvatierra are very grateful for the help of the fleet in this matter. And words cannot express my gratitude to those who have come to the rescue of this very deserving young man.

Judy Peterson, Chairman of Charities
Club Cruceros de La Paz
President, Fundación Para Los Niños de La Paz, A.C.

Readers - We're delighted to report that the patient has had the operation and everything seems to be going well. A special thanks to Jeff, Mike, and Tonya. If you folks ever find yourself up this way, we'd like to present you with Latitude T-shirts.


Has anyone heard anything regarding the whereabouts of Ornaith Murphy and her husband? It was unbelievable to read the Latitude article which reported their status as "missing".

I met Ornaith in New Zealand more than 10 years ago, after her first solo sail from San Francisco to New Zealand. At the time she had a 27-footer. She's so small a gal, the boat worked for her. Over cups of tea - or something stronger - in the cozy cabin of Sola, she told me how amazed everyone was whenever she pulled into a port, to find that she was alone. But if you spent any time talking with her, you knew she had the courage and determination to sail wherever she wanted. With the infamous Irish gift of gab, she was soon my female sailing hero - and I was proud to boatsit for her when she returned to the States.

Another time - after I helped deliver a boat from Japan to San Francisco over a course of 50 days - Ornaith was the first one on the dock to greet us, and brought the whole crew home to her house for pizza and showers.

I sincerely hope you have good news regarding Ornaith soon!

Kathy Bagnell
Currently Boatless

Kathy - We'd like nothing better than to hear good news, but the more time passes, the less hope there is.


The first time I raced singlehanded to the Farallones was in 1998 on a Cal 39 named Sola III. My friend Ornaith Murphy owned the boat, and I had helped her prepare her boat for her next attempt at a singlehanded passage to Cape Horn. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and she was not able to leave San Francisco with enough time to make the southern ocean before midsummer in the southern hemisphere. So there sat this battleship of a sailboat, with no challenges to conquer. Ornaith could recognize the smell of passion I had developed for singlehanded sailing, to stand alone with only your wits and courage against the brute force of nature, so she unselfishly offered to let me race her trusted vessel to the rock pile. I did it.

Through the years she continued to feed me the knowledge of singlehanded sailing and encouraged me to challenge myself in all facets of life, not just on the water. She was truly my mentor. Last December, she disappeared. So did her boat. And her husband, Kieran. Four and a half months later, nobody knows what happened.

The next time I raced singlehanded to the Farallones was in 2002 on a Hawkfarm, a Wylie 28, named Eyrie. My friends Tom Condy and Sylvia Seaberg own the boat, and they too can smell the passion. It was a perfect day, 10-15 knots, start with the ebb, finish with the flood, surrounded by compatriots. With me, I had a picture of Ornaith, taken in Hawaii of the two of us sailing on her first singlehanded boat, Sola I. As I rounded the island, I threw flowers into the sea in remembrance of Ornaith. Concurrently another singlehanded racer, Alan Hubbert, recited a poem he had written about Ornaith over the radio. I then readied the spinnaker, opened a bottle of Lillet ­ one of Ornaith's favorites ­ popped an Edith Piaf CD in the player ­ another of her favorites ­ set the kite and headed for home.

I miss you, Ornaith. I will never forget you.

Synthia Petroka
SSS Vice Commodore/Doyle Sails


Please don't think I want to be categorized with "Ms." March's sex discrimination comments, but I do have an appeal to make regarding the Crew List. My appeal is more to men who read the Crew List, and is made on behalf of women who have 'advertised' their interest in sailing, and are looking for just that - not to be bombarded with romantic inquiries.

A female friend with some bareboat charter experience was looking to get a berth on the Ha-Ha, and put her name in the Crew List. But every response she got seemed to have more to do with her than with sailing to Cabo. Figuring that she shouldn't pass up on every opportunity, she followed up on a few responses by asking the size of the boat, how many others would be aboard, and what her financial and crew obligations would be. The responses she got were typically, "Just you and me, and I'll pay for everything."

I'm not at all shocked, because Latitude specifically warned women to be contacted through email rather than giving out phone numbers or addresses. Nonetheless, I'm asking men who respond to the Crew List ads to please be respectful of those who have taken them out. After all, my friend was looking for an opportunity to experience the Ha-Ha, not the ooh-la-la.

James Ross
San Diego

James - We'll second your request that respondents to the Crew List listings be respectful. We're extremely sympathetic to women who sign up on the Lists, but who are unhappy with some of the responses. However, we're not sure what kind of mechanisms we can put in place to do their 'filtering' for them.

Our recommendation to women wanting to sail in something like the Ha-Ha, is not just to list your name, but call those with boats wanting crew. That way you can do the hanging up if the other person is way off base. We also highly recommend the Crew List parties, because face-to-face evaluations are often the quickest and most effective. When coming to such parties, it's always a good idea to bring an ally, be it male or female, to assist in the process.

As frustrating and inefficient as the Crew List and Crew List Party system might seem sometimes, it's had a lot of successes. Every year we hear of single women who've gotten rides and had a good time on the Ha-Ha this way.

What complicates the whole process is that lots of women - not just men - do use the Crew List and Crew List Parties as a way of meeting members of the opposite sex. Maybe the women aren't as actively looking as most guys, but many of the women aren't against the possibility of romance. Indeed - and this may not be what your female friend wants to hear - in recent years a number of marriages have resulted from couples meeting as a result of the Crew List and/or Crew List Parties. The main thing is that everybody has to be absolutely up front about what they're looking for, and respect others who are looking for something different.


It has come to my attention that you did a two-page article on the Landfall II schooner several years ago, when she was owned by Dale Goff. I bought the schooner in early 2000, and am in the process of renovating her here on San Francisco Bay. Currently she's drying out - minus a transom - at Nelson's Yard in Alameda. We have done extensive work on her, and will perhaps race her in the Master Mariner's as we did last year. In any event, I would love to see a copy of the article. Can you help me?

Also, would you be interested in an updated story of this famous boat, which was built for Maureen O'Sullivan - Jane of Tarzan - in 1934, and of her adventures in the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean in the '50s? I have been compiling the vessel's history with the aid of the Mystic Seaport Museum and a former crewman from Australia.

Mary Sale, Wooden Boat Lover
Schooner Landfall
Polson, Montana

Mary - We hate to say this, but if you don't know when the article ran, we probably can't find it. Up until recently, we weren't very good at indexing.


I'm the owner of the 52-ft racing catamaran Afterburner, and am interested in doing the TransPac in '03. They will accept multihulls, but we have to have four signed up and three of them must make it to the starting line. You might be able to help in a couple of ways. First, Profligate would make an awesome entry. Second, you could encourage other multihull owners to think about it. Second, if you come across anyone that's interested in doing a TransPac - which is a safe, well-organized, and supervised crossing - feel free to have them contact me at bill at Finally, you can offer your suggestions.

Bill Gibbs

Bill - We thought about entering the West Marine Pacific Cup two years ago, but were surprised to learn that they won't allow multihull entries. They didn't have a specific reason, but they were firm. So a multihull division seems like it might be an opportunity for the TransPac to regain some 'market share'. When Explorer, Lakota, and Double Bullet all sailed in the TransPac two times back, it certainly generated a lot of publicity.

As for Profligate doing the TransPac in '03, we regret to say that it's unlikely. The main problem is that we're not that interested in racing for such a long distance, and because our cat was designed for fast cruising, not serious racing. On the other hand, if there were a cruising race from Mexico to the Marquesas or Tahiti, we might be tempted.

Nonetheless, there are more multihulls than ever on the West Coast, and we'd be surprised if you couldn't get enough for a class in the TransPac. We hope you do.

For what it's worth, readers, Afterburner rates -152 PHRF. During her delivery from Ventura to Newport for the Ensenada Race, she was screaming along in the low 20s when it was only blowing 15 knots.


There were a few nasty letters in the March issue about an item you wrote discussing the state of the climate in Antarctica. I just want to encourage you not to let the morons grind you down. You are doing a fine job, and anyone who thinks that the world's climate has nothing to do with sailing needs to get off the pond. There are three place that are most important to a sailor or anyone who uses water- which I believe is everyone on earth: your immediate location, the South Pole, and the North Pole - in that order. Your immediate location equals weather (can I sail out today?), and the poles dictate climate (can I make it my destination?).

By the way, there was a good article in the April 2, 2002, New York Times by Kenneth Change called Deciphering Contradictory Antarctic Climate Patterns. Check it out.

Steve Burch
Planet Earth

Steve - We don't think the folks who wrote us were morons, they were just expressing opinions. In any event, the fellow who suggested that we "stick to sailing" didn't mean that global warming wasn't an issue to sailors, but rather that we should stick to writing about stuff we presumably know something about. He was miffed at our suggestion that there may be indications that global warning might not be caused by humans. As such, he'll be even more miffed about the April 2, 2002 article in the New York Times - which is the most interesting article we've ever read on the subject. In fact, the next time some over-simplistic ecological know-it-all tries to dominate the conversation with certainty about global warming, here's a good question to ask him/her:

Would the immediate effect of global warming be to raise sea levels? Actually, it wouldn't. "Counterintuitively, global warming would actually lower sea levels at first. In warmer temperatures, evaporation of ocean water increases and more snow falls, more than offsetting the melting ice at the edges. But over the longer term - perhaps centuries, perhaps thousands of years - prolonged warmth in Antarctica would add to the ocean depths."

Here's some other tidbits from that article we found interesting:

"Those warning of dire consequences from global warming and those playing down the dangers of heat-trapping greenhouse gases can both find pieces of data [from recent scientific data] to support their views."

"The changes in the Antarctic landscape do not have a single cause. Some are part of the natural cycles of the continent. Some are probably delayed effects of the end of the last ice age. Some may have been brought on by the warming trend of the last century."

"A melting ice shelf is not necessarily a sign of human-induced global warming. Ice shelves have grown and shrunk through the ages, mirroring the natural cooling and warming of the climate."

"The part of the Ross Ice Shelf where the iceberg broke away is now the same smaller size it was when the explorers Robert F. Scott and Ernest Shackleton observed it at the start of the 20th century."

"The rest of Antarctica shows no signs of widespread warming. In an article in the journal Nature in January, Dr. Doran of the University of Illinois and his colleagues reported that temperatures in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, a rocky, ice-free area west of the Ross Ice Shelf, had cooled about 2° Fahrenheit from 1979 to 1998. Extrapolating that data with other temperature measurements in other parts of Antarctica from the past 35 years, they concluded that Antarctica as a whole has cooled, too."

"Scientists at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center have also reported that satellite measurements show that sea ice now covers about 2 percent more area around Antarctica than it did two decades ago, another suggestion of recent cooling."

"The thinning of the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers "may be a direct impact of global warming that happened 20,000 years ago," said Dr. Robert Bindschadler, a glaciologist at Goddard. "It may be only now that Antarctica is getting around to its full-fledged response to that."

Based on this article, it seems as though the only people who don't know anything about global warming are the ones who do claim to know something.

WHO WANTS $1,000?

Why are there no ads for used boat gear in Latitude? I see a lot of them in similar magazines. P.S. I get your magazine every month here in Sacramento, and love it.

Charles Kite

Charles - We're not sure. But if any boatowners want to score some cash, they only need go through their lockers and bilges for stuff they don't use anymore, then take out a Classy Classified. For when readers do run ads for used stuff, it goes like hotcakes.


We'd like to request registration forms for the 2002 Baja Ha-Ha. We are part-time residents of the northern Sea of Cortez, and this spring will be taking delivery of a Gato Loco, a new Seawind 10 Meter catamaran. We've followed the past Ha-Ha's in Latitude, and would enjoy your rally being one of the legs in our trip from San Diego to Puerto Penasco, which will be the boat's new homeport.

Our plans would be to try to keep Gato Loco in a slip at Cabo from the end of the Ha-Ha until the end of December - at which point we would move her north to the La Paz area. We understand that slips in Cabo are on a first-come, first-serve basis, and would like to try to reserve something that will take a 34 by 20 foot boat.

Please forward details and registration information to Lowell.mcculley at

Lowell McCulley and the Crew of Gato Loco
Phoenix, AZ

Lowell and Crew - While the Wanderer happily volunteers to be the Grand Poobah each year, the Ha-Ha is an entirely separate entity from Latitude - and has been for a number of years. To get an entry pack, send a check for $15 made out to the Ha-Ha, Inc., and send it to 21 Apollo, Tiburon, CA 94920. For further details on the Ha-Ha IX, see this month's Sightings or their Web site at

The Ha-Ha doesn't have any control over berths in Cabo, although the marina management frequently assigns berths on the basis of the order that boats signed up for the Ha-Ha. In addition to being hard to come by, berths in Cabo are muy expensive. So if money is an issue, you might want to continue up to La Paz right after the end of the Ha-Ha. It shouldn't take more than 36 hours unless there is a Norther. Once you get your boat to Punta Penasco, we'd like to hear more about it.


I need some sails for my 28-ft sloop. I've noticed that a lot of boats for sale in the Classy Classified section list what's in their sail inventories - some of which I need. Is it cool to contact the seller just about the sails? I imagine that most boatowners don't want to start piecing-out their boats, but it seems like a way of getting the sails without waiting for a used one to become available. What do you think?

N. Celan
Northern California

N. - We think you'd have much better success buying used sails from someone who is in the business of selling used sails. There are thousands of used sails around, thanks a large part to racers, who have to discard fine sails that are no longer competitive at the highest levels of racing. On Profligate, for example, we've flown used chutes from Pandemonium, Swiftsure, Mirage, and other big sleds. They're great - and cost a fraction of new sails. Given the rate that we shred spinnakers, it's a big savings.

Many sail lofts sell used sails as well as new ones, but you might also try The Sail Warehouse, The Sail Exchange and Minney's, all of which specialize in used sails.


My wife Sandi and I just returned from a wonderful season of cruising in Mexico, and can't help but respond to Laurie Paine's thought-provoking April letter - and some humble advice for those heading down to Mexico for the first time.

Paine says most cruisers in Mexico "formed into groups and had little time for others." We were based out of the same harbor as Paine for a couple of months this season, so we feel as though we know the community - actually two communities - fairly well. The first is the community at Marina Nuevo Vallarta, which is long established with many long time liveaboards. Like any established community, it takes a while for newcomers to break in. Even so, we always felt welcome at their potlucks, swap meets, and special night at the charming outdoor Estudio Café, which is run by a local Mexican family and caters to cruisers.

The second community, across the channel at Paradise Village Marina, is much more transient. But there is an established potluck on Wednesday nights, run by Tealady, a well-loved local from the nearby town of Bucerias. Everyone is welcome, and every Wednesday sees a mostly different crowd, so you can't help but make friends there. In fact, we found the cruising community to be open and easy to approach throughout all of Mexico.

We have three words of advice for anyone heading south to Mexico this winter: Do the Ha-Ha! Some people think it's too quick a trip down Baja, that the stops are too short, and that there are too many people. Nonetheless, we suggest you do yourself a favor by just doing it! We can't begin to tell you how many friendships you'll make that will last through your time in Baja - and beyond. We literally made dozens of friends with whom we later did cockpit socializing, buddyboating, and sharing of anchorages and marinas. This season's Ha-Ha burgee was yellow, so every time we saw one of these burgees flying in Mexico - which was often - we knew we had approachable friends. By the time we left Mexico in April - six months after the Ha-Ha - most participants were still proudly flying their burgees. The Ha-Ha is a terrific event that we can't recommend highly enough - and we're not the only ones who feel this way. If Paine had started southbound with the Ha-Ha - as opposed to coming north - he would have had a totally different experience in Mexico.

Paine also complained that the morning nets were "overly formal and paternalistic/maternalistic." We experienced just about every operating morning net on the West Coast - including some wonderful impromptu nets - and consistently found them to be very helpful. On more than a few occasions, the nets provided us with critical information that would have taken us days to learn about on our own. Sure, there are the usual 'radio Nazis' here and there, but they're all over the world. Overall, we thought the net controls were very friendly and efficient. And as the Wanderer pointed out, if you don't like the nets, don't listen to them.

As Paine and Latitude pointed out, the irregular, expensive, and time-consuming clearing procedures need to be changed. We agree. And yes, sometimes you'll get ripped off for small amounts of change - although this never happened to us away from tourist areas. Overall, we found the people of Mexico to be very friendly and honest.

We do agree with Paine that Mexico is an expensive place. There is the common impression that everything in Mexico costs a fraction of what it does in the United States - and this just isn't true. Generally speaking, provisioning costs are equivalent to - or sometimes higher - than supermarkets and farmer's markets in the U.S.

While on the subject of provisioning, we recommend that southbound cruisers not bother with filling their bilges with all manner of paper goods - and other stuff you assume that you can't find in Mexico. We found everything from fluffy toilet paper, to paper towels, to Zip-lock bags in plentiful supply at all the major cities - Cabo, La Paz, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Z-town - and other places too. The products may not always be of the same quality, but they are definitely there. The only things we couldn't find, were chicken broth, canned tomatoes, and pesto. If you want them, bring them with you. Similarly, if you have a BBQ that uses the little cannisters, bring plenty of refills, as they are very hard to find. As has often been recommended, bring spare parts for your boat, as you don't find many marine parts in Mexico, and importing them is time-consuming and difficult. After trying to import a boat part for a long time, some friends of ours gave up and flew all the way home to personally bring it back with them.

Continuing on the subject of costs, one can almost cruise more cheaply in California than Mexico - if you stay away from marinas - which are actually more expensive in Mexico. As stated above, provisioning costs are about equivalent, there are no exorbitant port fees, and almost everything chandlery related is easier to come by and cheaper. This has not always been the case. Six or seven years ago, things were truly cheap in Mexico, and we miss those days. So Paine has a good point there.

As for his contention that there is a lack of opportunity to interact with regular Mexicans, we find this hard to understand. The town of Jarretederas - which is very much a 'real' Mexican town and a short walk from Nuevo Vallarta - is a good example of a village where the locals and the cruisers interact regularly and closely. We never had a problem interacting with the Mexicans, and found them to be universally outgoing, friendly and helpful. And it's even more true if you make an effort to speak Spanish.

Lastly, Paine spoke disparagingly of Mexico's beauty. Having spent several springs in the Sea of Cortez, and having traveled throughout the Med and the South Pacific, I'd put some of the coves on the various islands in the Sea of Cortez against anyplace on the planet. This is especially true if you love the desert - which we realize is not everyone's cup of tea.

So if you're thinking about cruising to Mexico this year, we encourage you to go - and to start with the Ha-Ha. You'll have a great time!

Mark and Sandy Joiner
Ku'uipo, Swift 40
Nuevo Vallarta / Orinda

Mark & Sandy - Thanks for the nice comments about the Ha-Ha. Speaking as the Wanderer, we honestly believe that our purpose in life is to help other folks have fun. And the reason we continue to volunteer as the Grand Poobah of the Ha-Ha each year is because people seem to have so much fun. We get strokes for publishing Latitude, but it's nothing like the strokes we get for the Ha-Ha. So for folks with the proper boats, equipment, and experience, we recommend it, too.

The one part of your letter that we disagree with, is that it's as expensive or more expensive to cruise in Mexico as it is in California. This is true - but only for people who stay in marinas, and who eat and drink at tourist restaurants and bars. It's true that you can cruise very inexpensively in California, but it's difficult, in part because of the colder weather, fewer anchorages, and less free things to do. In Mexico, on the other hand, you can always be warm, there are countless anchorages, and there are endless really great and free things to do - especially if you love the water. In fact, check out this month's Sightings to learn how remarkably inexpensive it can be to cruise Mexico - while enjoying a full, vibrant, and elegant life.


I'm the sailor who was knocked unconscious and then overboard from the Express 37 Elan during the Spring Keel Regatta in March. Like the owner/skipper Bill Riess, I had been a reluctant convert to personal flotation devices (PFD), having spent the majority of my sailing years not wearing one. But after recent incidents - including many that were thankfully not fatalities, I began wearing the inflatable SOS-penders about five years ago. Just this year, after hearing numerous reports of auto-inflating vests not inflating, I switched to the regatta vest for additional safety. Having it on was a critical factor in my surviving.

It also goes to show that no matter how well prepared you are, the worst can still happen. Thankfully for me, I was supported by two very courageous crewmates, Scott Sorenson and John Kernot, who without hesitation risked their lives coming to my assistance. Without them, I would not have been so lucky.

Richard Beauregard


I've read Latitude cover to cover for 15 years, and love it. But I have a complaint. On page 197 of the March issue there is a great article on chartering in the Pacific Northwest, and a photograph to illustrate it shows a young boy riding a boogie board in what appears to be white water rapids. But no PFD.

I have been sailing the Bay for 12 years on boats, five more on sailboards, and have more experience on rivers. In the '70s, it was a big deal to float rivers without PFDs, and many were drowned doing it. As professional guides, we spent altogether too much time helping to find the bodies. The thing to know about white water is that it's white because it's full of air. Unlike water, air does not support a person. So if you are swimming in white water, you are under the surface. We used to say it is 'too thin to swim in, and too thick to breathe'. In my opinion, anyone doing the boogie board thing should have a PFD - with more flotation than normal.

The other thing missing from the boogie boarder was a helmet. The bodies we pulled from the rivers usually had dents in the heads. An unconscious person or even a disoriented person in white water is as good as dead. Not even a PFD will guarantee safety when in this condition. I would also recommend a wetsuit in cold water, particularly for small people, as the cold can contribute to disorientation.

I love all water sports and support their enjoyment - but we should all look very closely at the risks, and take advantage of equipment to keep things safe.

Charlie Snyder
Moonraker, Ericson 35 MK II

Charlie - We appreciate the input from someone with as much experience as you.


Are you still offering a Latitude T-shirt to anyone doing a full week of Beer Can racing? From my look at the Sailing Calendar, there are only two weeks with a race on every weekday night. I'm willing to give it a shot if the T-shirt offer still stands.

Darrel Lager

Darrel - It does stand. Just remember to wear your PFD.


I disagree with the couple in the December issue who wrote that San Diego Bay wasn't friendly to cruisers. From what I've seen, the only cruisers who have had problems with the San Diego Harbor Police are those who have created the problems. For example, people who overstay the limits at the Police Docks; who 'cockroach' by not paying their marina bills; who ram other boats; and who get into confrontations with other mariners. In the year we've been here, the Harbor Police has always been friendly and helpful, and we've never had a problem.

San Diego offers free anchorages, guest slips at a variety of marinas, and 30-days on mooring balls when available. We've never even had a problem getting a permit for popular La Playa Cove - even on the few occasions when we've called at the last minute. With so many options available, it's inaccurate to criticize San Diego as a "six day harbor in a seven day week".

I think the boat that made the complaint has been in Southern California for three years, which makes them residents rather than cruisers, and as such they shouldn't be using the A-9 cruiser anchorage in the first place. In addition, they are years past the legal limit for changing their boat's registration from Washington to California.

San Diego Bay would be a much nicer place if 'cruisers' who don't follow the reasonable rules, get in trouble, then loudly complain about it, would just leave. San Diego is more visitor friendly than most harbors, so these people should quit their whining.

A.J. Taylor
Misty Morn, Spencer 35

A.J. - Our apologies, as your letter got lost in our hard drive for awhile.

We consider San Diego to be cruiser friendly. Boats not registered in San Diego County can spend up to three months a year at the A-9 anchorage at no cost, and there are several other anchoring/mooring options. It may not be everything that mariners might want, but it's not bad. In addition, about 10 years ago we used to receive lots of mariner complaints about the Harbor Police being overzealous and unnecessarily gruff. We can't remember the last time we got one.

This is not to say that we can't think of several ways in which the situation in San Diego could be improved. First of all, we're puzzled why there can't be at least one shower in each bathroom at the Police Dock guest berths. After a bash up the Baja coast or a sail down from Long Beach, a hot shower is a wonderful thing. If you get a guest slip or mooring from the Sheriff's Department in Newport Beach, you can take a hot shower - in a not so clean bathroom. So why not in San Diego? In addition, given the often severe lack of vacant boat slips in San Diego, it would make sense to us if the number of mooring balls at Laurel Street were increased or another mooring field established.

Update! The San Diego Police Docks will be getting showers, in their new restrooms, hopefully by the end of the year.


A while back, you mentioned that you thought that Jim Hagen aboard Joshua H., a sistership to my Columbia 8.7, had made it around to the Red Sea, and possibly continued on to complete a circumnavigation. I thought of writing to you to ask if you had any more news, when I saw the following [edited] email on the Columbia Yacht Owners' Association bulletin board:

Last year, Tanya and I took ownership of a Columbia 8.7, which had been left in Eritrea by a wonderful American who had been on a circumnavigation before the situation here - and his health - deteriorated. So we have spent the last year working on Joshua H., and sailing up and down the Eritrean coast. Unfortunately, we broke the mast over a tammy lift - don't ask!!! - but at least the hull now has another 30 years on it. Presently we are trying to get out of Eritrea and make it to Jeddah, where we hope we can get the engine repaired or replaced. The previous owned had installed a Universal M4-30 back in '92. Unfortunately, five years of neglect caused severe damage to the engine, and we're now paying the price - and Torrenson Marine is rubbing their hands with glee. The other day a Kiwi from another yacht in Massawa came over to see how we were doing. He peered down at our engine and said, "That's a Kubota." I replied, "No, it's a Universal." Anyway, for many years he sold and worked on this exact model engine in New Zealand. He said they were great engines and that we should do everything we can to get it repaired. We shall see." [Signed] Julian and Tayna.

Since Jim left the U.S. in 2001, he couldn't have known of the CYOA, and would not have registered his boat, so I can't find his address there. Maybe you would know of some way I could contact him to compare notes about the 8.7s behavior offshore.

John Somerhausen
Pampero IV, Columbia 8.7
Douglaston, NY

John - We only knew Jim Hagen through his letters, but we're very sorry to hear that he apparently fell ill. He'd been a real inspiration, as he'd only been sailing a short time before he began what we believe was an attempt to do a singlehanded circumnavigation. We hope he's well, and would love to hear news of him.

By the way, we know the Joshua H. well. She was originally owned by Harold Upham, who retired from Pac Bell after undergoing open heart surgery. Harold sailed the boat in two of the early Singlehanded TransPacs.


I'm currently rebuilding and outfitting a Wharram Tangaroa catamaran in the fishing port of Bandon, Oregon. I've found this southern Oregon harbor at the mouth of the Coquille River to be extremely boater friendly, secure, and inexpensive.

For example, the harbor personnel recently came to my rescue when uneven tire pressure overstressed an axle on the extensively modified trailer I was using to tow my 37-ft cat out of the water. They loaned me their portable welder so I could make repairs and eventually take the boat a half mile down Highway 101 to her new work shed.

Bandon, the gem on Oregon's south coast, welcomes cruisers and delivery crews on the often difficult passage up and down the coast of the northwest United States. Twenty miles south of Coos Bay and 80 miles north of Brookings, northbound crews can take haven in worsening conditions, while southbound boats can stretch a day's sail past Coos Bay to help shorten the long Pacific Coast passage.

The Coquille River bar is dredged to 13 feet, and with the aid of the channel range is passable at all tides. The entrance is marked by a two-mile and a one-mile lighted buoy, as well as a horn when there is limited visibility. Naturally, extreme care should be taken on the few days of the year when surf breaks on the bar. Bar conditions can be obtained from the Coast Guard in Coos Bay - which maintains a rescue boat in Bandon from late spring through early fall - or from the Port of Bandon during working hours by calling 541-347-3206.

There are 90 well-maintained berths in Bandon Harbor, with fees of just $7/day for boats up to 40 feet. The prices are slightly higher for larger boats. Diesel and gas are available, and there is a pump-out station. The Port is currently constructing an extensive nature observation walk along the harbor perimeter, and will soon start on two large fingers for boats up to 110 feet. Old town Bandon fronts the harbor, and there's a good selection of shops and restaurants. More info about Bandon is available at its own Web site:

Walter Alter
Tezcat, Wharram Cat
Bandon, OR


When we departed California for Mexico in 1997, it was not without some trepidation. But we were confident, thanks to years of planning ­ we had binders full of Latitude articles on everything from best anchoring spots, to Loreto Fest, to Christmas in Z-town, and the like.

Although we were unsure as to what life in a foreign country would be like, we were never mislead nor had any doubts about "The Mexican Paperwork Cha Cha." We expected long, hot walks to opposite ends of the village to visit the Capitania de Puerto, Migracion and API (Port fee) buildings. We were laughingly told that was how you got to see so much of the town! We anticipated 15-minute experiences turning into all-day projects. After all, didn't everything take longer to accomplish in Mexico?

So we were a bit taken aback by all the discord regarding checking in and checking out, walks to the various offices/bank, and the amount of time involved to accomplish tasks once undertaken as an adventure. We're sure that it's the matter of additional fees that are the bone of contention, but gosh, we didn't used to be so whiney. We're not saying we always enjoy the 'process - we won't even go into the fun of renewing FM3s - but we've never felt that we, as visitors in a foreign land could do anything about it. One can always be hopeful that the letter writing to Mexican officials will be beneficial to the future cruising generations. In the meantime, Mexico is still a land of wonders.

We continue to make our dream happen, and recently finished a trip inland to the Copper Canyon and surrounding areas. What a monumental adventure and bargain that is!

Roy and Keri Hendricks
Mazatlan, Mexico

Roy & Keri - Based on our conversations with cruisers, the complaints are evenly split; about half are mostly upset about the amount of the fees, while another half is mostly unhappy with the excessive amount of time required to check-in and the irregularities in the procedures. We're bothered by both of them, because compared to the rest of the cruising world, both the fees and the hassle are excessive. Yet we're bothered even more because Mexico is shooting itself in the foot, for they are about to spend a quarter of a billion dollars to attract American boatowners at the same time they are making life unnecessarily difficult for the mariners who already have come down. The current system is simply not in Mexico's best interest. We're confident that they are ultimately going to realize it, it's just a matter of how long it will take. Nonetheless, cruising in Mexico is certainly worth the expense and hassle.


Having spent most of the time since the 2002 Ha-Ha thoroughly enjoying sailing the west coast of Mexico, we thought we would add our two cents to the idea of an annual cruising permit for Mexico. We've added up our fees for checking in and out so far, and they've come to around $350 U.S.

So in our opinion, $300 to $500 U.S. wouldn't be out of the question for an annual cruising permit. Perhaps there could be term fees similar to those for fishing licenses - week, month, and year. For those passing through Mexico on their way south or north, a shorter term fee might be applicable. We would also support the concept of being able to check in with a port captain via radio, so they could keep track of foreign boats in their waters.

We haven't had any problems with the current system other than that it's cumbersome. The only questionable incident we had was with Immigration in Cabo, when the official insisted we bring back a receipt showing payment to the bank - plus 100 pesos in cash for them! We're pretty sure that wasn't legit. We found most of the port captains to be friendly and helpful, and were especially pleased with Chacala and La Cruz, which were one stop deals because there wasn't any Immigration or bank.

Our experience with San Blas, however, will lead us to avoid it in the future. We were sailing northwest from Chacala to Mazatlan in the company of a singlehander aboard Second Wind, when the weather turned nasty. So at dusk on Saturday night, we turned into Mantenchen Bay, which is just south of San Blas, and dropped our hook about a half mile offshore. Almost immediately, we got a call on the radio from "Norm", who apparently is the self-appointed representative of the port captain. We have no idea how 'official' his position is. Anyway, using the call name Jamon or Jammin, he started berating us as law breakers and told us in no uncertain terms that we weren't welcome there. "Get out, we don't want you here!" is one of the things he said.

We left at first light on Sunday, at which time Norm called on the radio again, and launched into a harangue about us being lawbreakers. Bob, the skipper of Second Wind, got into a very tactful but lengthy conversation suggesting that Norm try to make cruisers feel more welcome. Norm responded by criticizing Captain Rains' cruising guide to Mexico and Latitude for disseminating false information about Mexican law.

It seems to us that a sailor should not have to fear taking refuge from stormy conditions anywhere along the coast. If it had not been Saturday night, and if we had planned on using any San Blas facilities, enter the Port of San Blas or go ashore, we would have been happy to check-in and out. But it would have cost us at least two if not three days to comply. By that time, our guest waiting in Mazatlan would have been a bit frantic.

P.S. Yes, the no-see-ums at Mantenchen Bay are as bad as reported.

Don and Mary Lou Oliver
Cappuccino, (berthed in El Cid)
San Ramon, CA

Don & Mary Lou - We're in favor of week, month, and year long cruising permits, but believe that $500 would be too much for even a year. It's just completely out of line with what all other countries charge, and doesn't recognize all the foreign money that cruising boats bring to Mexico.

As for the clearing mess in San Blas and Mantenchen Bay, the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the Mexican government for having unclear laws and allowing port captains to interpret them any way they want. There is no way for a cruiser to know whether he/she needs to check in at San Blas if anchored in Matenchen Bay, and it's hard to rely on the port captain's word, because the previous San Blas port captain screwed many cruisers by claiming they had to use a service to check in and out.

As for Norm Goldie, it's a bit of a strange situation. As we understand it, he and his wife Janet are New Yorkers who moved to San Blas something like 30 years ago when there weren't many people cruising in Mexico. Over the years, the couple more or less made it their life's work to become semiofficial ambassadors to cruisers. There is no doubt that the couple has helped many cruisers get through tricky situations, both in town and on the water. In recent times, however, cruising Mexico has become commonplace, and an increasing number of cruisers feel that they don't need anybody's help, or any self-appointed authority sticking his nose in their affairs. We think the fact that cruisers no longer need his help as much as they once did is hard on Norm, as is the fact that he's no longer in the best health. It's doubly complicated for us at Latitude, because in the past several years we've entrusted him with several thousand dollars we raised for the poor families living in the mountains above San Blas. Let us state clearly, however, that we're absolutely confident Norm has spent the money well. It just makes things more sticky.

What strikes us as being odd about Norm going off on you is that you arrived on a Saturday night - which means you couldn't have checked-in until Monday anyway. The only reason we can think that Norm ragged on you is that he mistakenly thought you'd been there all week.

Alas, these are exactly the kind of predictable problems when there are fuzzy laws which are erratically and unevenly enforced. It's not the end of the world, but it sure is annoying, and it creates unnecessary problems. Por favor, Mexico, get it together by the start of the cruising season next fall!


I saw your item in 'Lectronic Latitude about the trimaran that Kevin Costner used in the movie Waterworld seemingly just gathering barnacles in San Diego. Actually, there has been a lot of progress on the boat - most of it behind the scenes and under the tarps. For example, the cockpit was redesigned, a new engine was installed, and the interior was redone. In addition, the owner bought the old mast from near sistership Primagaz, and had it shipped over from France.

Bob Dixon, who helped Dennis Conner build the America's Cup cats, and who sailed with Steve Fossett on Lakota and Bob Hanel on Double Bullet, is the project manager. His last project was repairing the carbon fiber mast on Bill Gibb's 52-ft catamaran Afterburner.

So the Waterworld tri isn't as bad as she looks. Painting the hulls will be one of the last projects, at which time she'll be an exciting addition to the West Coast sailing scene.

Chris Glass
San Diego

Chris - Thanks for your info. We did call Dixon, who confirmed that progress is being made. We still think it's a shame that Fossett's Lakota, a near sistership, was sold away from the West Coast. That tri was in fine shape and ready to go.


I'm a 35-year-old single woman in decent shape who was introduced to sailing last year. I did a three-week trip from P.V. to La Paz, and later did another 10 days in the Sea of Cortez. I've also done a few races here on the Bay, and completed the basic sailing class at Tradewinds Sailing School. I'm writing because I've become hooked on sailing and would like to do more of it this summer. I don't want to race quite yet, but I'd like to learn more skills and do more day sailing. I catch on fast, am a hard worker, easy to get along with, and always willing to learn something new. Can you help?

Donna H.
Northern California

Donna - First, check out the Daysailing Crew List that appeared in the April issue, and make some calls to folks who are actively looking for crew. When sailing with anyone for the first time, it's good to have at least one other woman aboard. Second, although you're not interested in racing yet, we recommend the evening beer can races. This isn't serious racing, but it's an excellent opportunity to quickly increase your sailing skills. Once the races are over, you go back to the clubhouse for a drink and a burger, and can't help but meet lots of other folks who need crew. Since you're in the East Bay, you might try the Wednesday night races at the Oakland YC, or the Friday night races at the Berkeley or Encinal YC. If you ask, somebody will try to help you get on a boat.

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