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On one of the SSB nets here in the Sea of Cortez this morning, we heard from one of the boats that spent last year cruising Mexico. They are now back up in California and were calling from Catalina. They wanted to make the point that anyone complaining about the $30 clearing fees in Mexico should consider that this would only buy one night's mooring at Isthmus Cove on Catalina!

Jimmie Zinn & Jane Hanawalt
Dry Martini, Morgan 383
Loreto, Baja California Sur

Jimmie & Jane - Fees for the moorings at the Isthmus and at Avalon are as follows: Thirty to 40 feet, $21. Forty-one to 50 feet, $25. Checkout time is 8 a.m., so if you arrive on a Friday afternoon and want to stay until Sunday afternoon, you have to pay for three days even though you are only spending two nights. We haven't heard anybody grousing about the prices - probably because they're not being charged $3/ft/night as some places in the Northeast do. The bottom line is that normal cruising in Mexico is considerably less expensive than normal living in the populated coastal areas of the United States.


I'm writing in regard to Roger Bohr's letter about the failure of his Garmin model 75 GPS. I had a similar failure with a Magellan model 3000, which I had purchased some years ago. I was never very satisfied with it as it was just a handheld that required the frequent changing of batteries. Then I found out I could buy an adapter that would power the unit from ship's power, and I could have a separate fixed mount antenna. This was a great improvement and the Magellan served well for several years.

Suddenly, however, it lost all memory when I turned it off by turning off the ship's power. After several discussions with the local marine electronics techs and several calls to Magellan, I realized that there was an internal battery that had failed. I could see the battery but I couldn't replace it - because it was soldered in! After much aggravation, Magellan finally repaired it. Several years later, it failed again. Magellan wanted an outrageous price to repair it and replace the battery, so now I just keep the ship's power on - even when the unit is switched off. If I remove it from the boat, I put the AA batteries in it. That keeps it from forgetting where it is.

It appears that some instructions and a method for easily replacing the battery would save a lot of problems. As I thought the matter was strictly a Magellan problem, when my Loran failed I bought a Garmin chart plotter. It works fine, but I wonder if it will have the same problem.

C. C. 'Shep' Wagoner
Ranger 28, Abaris
Deltaville, Virginia

Readers - Do your remember how little computer you got for the money 10 years ago compared to what you get today? It's similar with GPS units. While the old ones normally still work fine, they are inferior in almost every regard - including how quickly they go through batteries.


I'm writing this letter as a heads up to all racing sailors. Today, August 4, at approximately 11:30 a.m., I witnessed the Farr 40 fleet short-tacking up the breakwater between Pier 39 and Aquatic Park. I was rowing a Whitehall east along the breakwater as the fleet came into the shore to avoid the weakening flood tide. At the same time, a Zodiac was moving west toward Aquatic Park, spotting two female swimmers making for the South End Rowing Club. The spotter Zodiac was displaying the 'O' flag - Oscar for man overboard. I saw the Zodiac repeatedly move to protect the swimmers, waving the sailboats away from the area, yet the fleet moved into the zone where the swimmers were trying to swim for the breakwater for protection. The fleet came to the breakwater with the only apparent concern being to avoid the tide, maintain starboard tack as long as possible, and make minimal way for the powered Zodiac and for me in the Whitehall.

I feel the Farr 40 fleet put two swimmers in jeopardy of serious injury or death. If a swimmer had been struck by one of the boats, I cringe to think of the outcome. The tidal currents at that time and place would have swept away an injured swimmer, likely under the water's surface, and possibly out of the protective umbrella of the two people in the spotter boat. The tragedy of such an avoidable accident would have been utterly devastating.

I am a sailor and have raced my boat many times up the Cityfront against a flood tide. I knew what the fleet was doing, and although I had to maneuver to avoid boats, I did not feel personally threatened. The spotter Zodiac and the swimmers however, had no idea why these boats were so close to shore, and why the boats did not give way to the swimmers and two smaller boats.

I am confident the fleet did not intend to put the swimmers in jeopardy. Indeed, I think the fleet did not even know there were swimmers in the water.

The San Francisco Yacht Racing Association needs to be informed about the incident. Let this serve to remind us that San Francisco Bay has many users from swimmers to huge commercial vessels. We should err on the side of caution, particularly when racing, because we can become so focused on our own little world in the fleet and how to go fast.

I assume the Oscar flag is the proper flag to display when spotting swimmers. I assume the proper action by any vessel encountering such a flag is to tack away immediately. If my assumptions are incorrect, please let me, the YRA fleet, and people spotting for swimmers know what the proper procedures are.

Joe Boone
San Rafael

Joe - We're great admirers of swimmers, surfers, kite sailors, sailboarders, all forms of rowers and fishermen - everybody who enjoys the Bay except for idiots on jet-skis. With a little bit of cooperation, we think there is plenty of room for everybody.

When you say the Farr 40s "moved into the zone" of the swimmers, we're curious about what you mean. Would that be a circle of 150 feet, 75 feet, or 15 feet? What's close seems to be extremely subjective.

We're also curious about the qualifications a person must have to be the operator of a spotter vessel for swimmers, and what equipment the vessel is required to carry. Since the operator is presumably there to protect the lives of the swimmers, we think at the very least he/she should be familiar with how vessels commonly operate on the Bay in order to prevent potentially dangerous situations from developing. In addition, we would hope that a spotter vessel would be identified by more than just a small 'Oscar' symbol - perhaps a large banner or flag with the international symbol for a swimmer or the well-known symbol of a diver. If we were operating a spotter boat, we'd insist that the boat be equipped with a megaphone and a number of air horns. That way if a fleet of sailboats tacking up the Cityfront looked as though they might endanger one of our swimmers, they'd damn well know about it through a combination of visual and audio warnings.

With a little bit of forethought and planning, there's no reason that swimmers and sailors can't happily and safely coexist on San Francisco Bay. We hope representatives from both groups get together to work out the details before anyone gets injured unnecessarily.


Maybe you could make a deal with Playboy. If they'll promise not to put sailboats on their covers, you'll promise not to put bikini-clad babes on yours.

Michael Shough
San Francisco

Michael - If you're trying to make the silly suggestion that every woman who wears a bikini while sailing in the tropics is a 'bunny' or has a Playmate-like mentality, you don't know what you're talking about. And if you were in any way titillated by the cover, we worry about what kind of effect the covers of Glamour or Women's Fitness must have on you.


This quick note is to say how disappointed I was to see the cover of your August issue! It reminds me of the covers of all those power boater magazines. You don't need to resort to that!

Julie Partridge

Julie - We suppose we did screw up. Next time we go sailing in the tropics we're going to bring along some sweat suits and blankets to cover up any female crewmembers who might happen to be photographed in the course of sailing. They might die of heat stroke or have their necks snapped as a result of getting the hoods caught in winches, but at least they won't offend any tender Berkeley sensibilities.

Seriously, if you think we 'resorted' to a sexy cover to move magazines you're mistaken. We don't need to resort to anything because we give the magazines away rather than sell them, and there's never enough to go around. We can only assume that you - and some others - picked up a sex vibe that never even registered on our radar. If that's the case, we think the bunch could benefit from a lot more sex on a regular basis.

Since we're on the subject of sex, here's our perspective: As long as it's consensual among non-predatory and nonviolent adults, it's good, healthy, and keeps the species going. If young women enjoy getting attention from looking a little sexy, and if guys respond to it in a nonthreatening way, we think that's following Nature's script and are all for it. So get used to it, because it's not going away.

As for the young lady in the photograph, we don't think she was trying to be sexy, she was just wearing what was appropriate for the weather conditions and local customs. Good on her!


The cover of the August issue is a nice example of Nature's curves. Good job. Thanks. 

Dave Biron
Big Break Marina

Dave - We think it would be a slightly better example if the leech weren't quite so strapped.


The cover of the August issue of Latitude reminded me of a line penned long ago by Honore de Balzac. In the novel Old Goriot he wrote, "It is a true saying that there is no more beautiful sight than a frigate in full sail, a galloping horse, or a woman dancing." To have a beautiful woman dance across your sailboat while it is under full sail is then two out of three. Perhaps one of your readers was handed this issue by a messenger on horseback who had just galloped up.



Great cover! It does exactly what a cover is supposed to do - grab the reader by the juguler and not let go. When I first saw this month's cover, I was totally mesmerized. Wow, I thought to myself, what am I doing here? Being on that boat is a situation that all of us who bust our buns 50 weeks a year, just to experience it for two, dream about.

It was also nice to have something on the cover besides a turbo-sled under full spinnaker blasting across the Bay with a full crew on the rail in their foulies, or a turn-of-the-century woodie with her rail down. Those covers might mean a lot to the individual boatowners, but for the rest of us folks, they tend to run together. On the other hand, August's cover will be remembered for a long, long time. It's nothing sleazy - some folks will try to make it that - but just warm sun, full sails, and a couple enjoying the sailing life. Albeit they're young and good-looking, which takes us back a few years.

Jack Chalais
Hind Sight
San Francisco

Jack - We know what you mean about the covers with photos of boats all starting to look the same. Next month we're going to mix things up a little by putting an airplane on the cover.

Not to infer anything sleazy, but how did your boat come to be named Hind Sight?


On the Sunday afternoon of July 28, while sailing the Catalina 30 Sailbird a half mile north of Treasure Island, we lost our mast, sails, standing rigging, and assorted other stuff connected to it. Actually, it wasn't really lost as we knew where it was located - hanging over the starboard side of the boat.

The reason the mast came down is for another discussion. The point of this letter is to thank all the anonymous people who came to our assistance - sailors and power boaters alike. It was such a comfort to my crew and me to know that boats were standing by to tow us to safety. I also want to give a very special thanks to the people at Treasure Island Marina, including the staff, tenants, and another couple stranded there without a mast. Your assistance made what could have been a very traumatic experience almost pleasant.

I would also like to publicly apologize to the U.S. Coast Guard for announcing a Mayday over the VHF. As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I thought, "Damn, I shouldn't have done that!" But once it was hanging out there in the airwaves, it was too late. Once I realized everyone was all right, I should have taken a minute to evaluate our situation. I have no excuse other than it was my first dismasting.

Steve Damm
Surfbird, Catalina 30
Northern California

Steve - Don't be too hard on yourself for announcing a 'Mayday', as there have been more serious mistakes and you didn't merely run out of gas. We hope, however, that you quickly informed the Coast Guard that nobody was in immediate danger after all.


Glenn Tieman's July letter jogged my old cruising brain cells about him. While anchored at Kosrae Island in Micronesia in 1987, a 26-ft home-brew catamaran named Peregrine sailed in. Aboard was a singlehander, cruising in the simplest mode known to man - which means that Glenn subsisted on bananas, coconuts, and the occasional splat of rice. Knowing that singlehanders are not only short on vitamins and minerals, but also real people to converse with, we invited him aboard for a meal. He was not your typical singlehander - the glassy-eyed loner who talks to bulkheads - but a great conversationalist. We learned that while he'd been at U.C. Santa Cruz, he'd had a very unusual specialty - he assembled nuclear labs. After a week, Glenn sailed to the other side of the island.

Several days later, another singlehander aboard a 26-ft monohull Now Or Never sailed through the pass and anchored. It was the same drill on the vitamins, minerals, conversation, and a meal - but for the life of me, I cannot recall his name. But while at U.C. San Diego, he also had an unusual speciality - he disassembled nuclear labs.

The coincidence of two cruisers aboard 26-ft boats, with 'opposite' occupations, from the U.S. arriving at the same little island in the middle of the Pacific at nearly the same time was too crazy to be happening - and too good to ignore. So I hiked over to the far side of the island and invited Glenn back for dinner, breathing not a word about things nuclear.

The big moment finally arrived, and once the introductions were made and backgrounds described, we sat back and waited for the burst of conversational energy to be released. But there was no such luck. Both were unimpressed with the other, and it proved to be an uninspiring evening. Was it because one was a creator and the other a destroyer? Or was it because both were singlehanders, and everyone knows that they are all a little off-frequency?

I believe that what's-his-name gave up the game and shipped Now Or Never back to California. Glenn was made of sterner stuff, and continued cruising for many years. We last shared an anchorage - and a meal - in Southeast Asia in 1990. He still wasn't talking to the bulkheads, but his vitamin and mineral intake continued to be suspect. However, Glenn cruised closer to the sea and the locals than anyone we have met while meandering around the world.

P.S. If anyone has an email address for Glenn, we'd very much like to reconnect.

Bill Healy
Amadon Light of Honolulu
Pedro Miguel Boat Club
Panama Canal

Bill - It's Now Or Never and you forgot the name of the singlehander? It had to be Elvis, you dummy! This country has had forty-three Presidents but only one King - and you didn't recognize him?


Can you tell me when the tradition of evening Beer Can racing started in the Bay Area, and who might be credited with starting it? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it a fairly recent - last several decades - phenomenon?

Vivienne Fagrell
Mountain View

Vivienne - That's a terrific question for which we don't have an answer. We can tell you that we've been sailing in Northern California for 30 years now, and beer can races were old hat back then. We know they exploded with the advent of fiberglass boats in the late '50s and early '60s, but we are pretty sure they started long before that. Are there any senior salts who can satisfy Vivienne's curiosity?


In the August Changes, you asked cruising couples how well they got along being with each other 24 hours a day, and if they divided jobs into 'pink' and 'blue' categories.

We took our first bluewater cruise about three weeks after we were married, and sailed from Astoria, Oregon, to San Diego, California. In fact, you published our account of it in the November 2000 issue - Dragon, Baptism by Storm. Since that cruise we have put an additional 4,000 miles beneath our keel, cruising from Ventura to the Sea of Cortez for a year, and doing the Bash home five weeks ago. We spent our second anniversary in Magdalena Bay with engine problems, and I can only say that I wish our engine was as agreeable as my partner! We may have an advantage in that we were great friends before, and had known each other for 15 years prior to our first date. We communicate well and neither one of us believes in yelling. We don't even yell in the wind, as we bought little two-way radios for that - which makes us look really professional in the anchorages.

As far as the 'pink and blue' job designations, we seem to be colorblind and both just tend to do whatever needs to be done. I, Nadine, am a better cook and I really enjoy doing it, so I do most of the cooking. Ron is better at painting, so he paints. I like to navigate, do nightwatches, and handle the provisioning. He takes care of the engine, hauls up the anchor, and cleans the bottom. We both clean, sand, and do repairs as needed - although my hands are a better fit in small spaces, and he is stronger and is therefore better at removing stuck bolts. Over time we have gravitated to what we enjoy doing and what we are best at, but he makes great French toast, and I can change the oil and the fuel filters. The only pink and blue things we have on Dragon are the rugs.

Ron & Nadine Crom
Portland, Oregon


Daniel Riedinger's August letter about aggressive tugboat operators is much on point. It reminded me of an incident in early July. Returning from the Delta and sailing well outside the shipping lane in San Pablo Bay, I noticed how a tug made a course change and headed straight for me. When I changed course, the tug did, too, maintaining the collision course. Right at that moment, I heard the high pitched sound of the orange Coast Guard helicopter that now regularly inspects the Bay shores. The tug operator heard it, too, and immediately made a drastic course change away from me.

On another issue, while cruising in the Channel Islands and Southern California this summer, I have not been cited for placing the DMV stickers on the hard transom of my inflatable tenders, but people have commented that this is unlawful. Be that as it may, it's impossible to keep the stickers attached to the soft hull material. Putting them on detachable registration plates is impractical because these are easily lost or stolen, and also invite abuse. I put one sticker on the inside and one on the outside of a transom, which is the only suitable hard surface on most inflatables. The DMV should permit this practice.

Louk Wijsen

Readers - In all of our sailing we've never felt that tug boat operators ever tried to make trouble for us. What about the rest of you?


I was wondering if the Baja Ha-Ha committee has any information on short term moorage options available in advance of the Baja Ha-Ha? I will obviously need to get my boat to San Diego a few days/weeks prior to the rally and have been having a very difficult time finding any available slips.  

Jeff Blyth

Jeff - Lauren Spindler, who is the Honcho of the Ha-Ha, had this reply:

"Faith and flexibility will see you through. There aren't many vacant slips in San Diego right now, and harbormasters generally aren't inclined to reserve slips for boats they haven't seen or aren't in the vicinity. Your best chance at getting a slip in San Diego is by being Johnny-on-the-spot. Another option is for you or one of your crew to stay aboard your boat while she's on the hook in San Diego. You can do this next to the Coast Guard Station for three months - for free! - although you have to stop by the Harbor Police Office for a brief inspection and to pick up a permit.

"What to do if you have to leave your boat to return home to take care of last minute business? Think a little further up the coast. Chief Marty Casules of Orange County Sheriff's Department says they've never had to turn a boat away from Newport Beach, where it's only $5 a night for a mooring. And remember, Newport is fun, scenic, and has all the marine supplies and services that any cruiser could want. Casules also says that after summer is over, they often have transient space available at Dana Point. For still more options, look a little further up the coast at Long Beach. The Downtown Shoreline Marina in particular often has 40 or 50 vacant slips in the 30 to 50-foot range. And don't forget Catalina, which, after Labor Day, has hundreds of empty moorings for boats of every size. September and October are two of the finest months out at the island, and by prior arrangement you can leave your boat unattended. None of these places is more than 120 miles from San Diego, which means you're never more than a day away from the site of the Ha-Ha start."


Many non-European cruisers in French Polynesia got a very nasty surprise this season when they applied to renew their 3-month visas. All the extensions were denied - except for those cruisers who had medical, family or technical emergencies. Many who had received 3-month tourist visas from French consulates abroad were wrongly told by those consulates that they could get a 3-month extension here at the DRCL in Papeete. Some were even told - I have no idea where the consulates got this incorrect information - that any police office in French Polynesia could give them an extension.

So many of these cruisers, thinking they got the correct information from their French consulates, leisurely visited the Marquesas and cruised slowly through the beautiful Tuamotu Atolls. At least they got to enjoy those parts, because when they contacted the High Commissioner's Office in Papeete (Direction de la Reglementation et du Controle de la Legalite - DRCL, BP115, Papeete, Tahiti /ph: (689) 54 27 13), they got the nasty surprise that they only had a few more weeks - whatever was left on their visas - before having to exit the beautiful islands of French Polynesia. You can easily guess that these cruisers weren't in a very pleasant mood after their requests to stay longer were repeatedly refused.

The A.V.P - Sailor's Association of Polynesia - did contact the DRCL to request an amnesty for this season because the wrong information had been given out by the consulates. But the law is the law, and there is no mercy. We contacted the consulates about their having given out incorrect information, but they didn't reply.

I have spoken with officials here in Papeete, and this is what non-European cruisers should do next season to avoid any nasty surprises. The good news first. Yes, you can easily get permission to spend six months - or more - in French Polynesia if you follow the correct procedure. For non-European Economic Community citizens, there are three choices.

1) You arrive in French Polynesia without any visa and receive a visa for a month. But remember, there can be no extensions.

2) You apply to a French consulate outside of Polynesia for a 3-month tourist visa. But once again remember there can be no extensions.

3) You contact a French consulate and follow the procedure to obtain a Carte de Sejour - Temporary Resident Card - to stay for more than three months. You can ask for six months - or more. You will certainly have to explain why you want to stay that long, give an idea of what you plan to do, submit proof of financial independence, and they may want to check on your 'good character and reputation'. The consulate will then transmit your request to the High Commissioner here in Papeete, who will accept or deny your demand. Allow some time for that procedure, but don't be discouraged, for according to local sources, justified requests are completed in due time and are often granted.

Cruisers visiting French Polynesia should also be aware of customs issues that relate to them. Any boat entering French Polynesian waters - and this includes French-registered boats - is subject to import duties, which are about 15% to 25% of the surveyed value of the boat - but only if the boat stays in French Polynesia for more than one year in any two year period. Or, if the owner takes a job locally or sells the boat in French Polynesia. Time on the hard or in a marina, while owners are outside of the country, can be excluded by prior arrangements with Customs. Failure to comply with customs regulations can lead to confiscation of your boat until taxes and heavy fines are paid.

If you think this may be inhospitable, try to find out what any foreign cruiser would have to submit himself to if he comes to your own country. The rules might be even more restrictive. The days of free circulation of persons and merchandise are still a very long way away. By finding out the procedures first, and following them, you should avoid any bad surprises. So, you can enjoy the beauty and hospitality of French Polynesia at a leisurely pace.

P.S. I, Luc, am the International Relations Representative of the French Polynesian Sailing Association.

Luc Callebaut and Jackie Lee
Sloepmouche, 46-ft trimaran
French Polynesia

Luc & Jackie - Thank you for your efforts on behalf of this year's cruisers and for clarifying the situation for those who might visit French Polynesia by boat next year. But please, you're insulting everyone involved by trying to defend the indefensible. If the French consulates screwed up, it's they, not the innocent cruisers, who should be inconvenienced. After all, it's not as if American cruisers are terrorists, they just want to enjoy the sights and leave some dollars in their wake. And what about the responsibilities of the French government? Did the French and French Polynesian governments bother to warn anybody about a sudden and dramatic change in what had been the long-standing visa policy? No. Do they care that many cruisers have invested large sums of money into once-in-a-lifetime visits to French Polynesia? Apparently not. As for the suggestion that the U.S. might even be more inhospitable, you need to look into the facts, as we are 10 times more hospitable to foreign cruisers. Pay $18 and you get to freely enjoy our country for a year. Sell your boat here and you're not slapped with punitive duty.

Whenever there are big news events in the world, a lot of Americans fret over what 'our European friends think' of us. This is foolish, because as this instance so clearly indicates, our European friends are perfectly capable of being complete numbskulls. Worse still, even after the French government has acknowledged making a complete blunder, they refuse to take any responsibility or remedial action. "The law is the law" - geez, could there be a more moronic justification for bad policy?

This problem doesn't amount to a hill of beans in the big scheme of things, of course, but symbolically it leaves the French government with 'oeuf' all over its face. Slighted on behalf of cruisers who were snubbed in French Polynesia, we have no choice but to respond in the strongest possible terms - no French fries until the new year.


With regards to Mr. Krangle, who wrote espousing cruisers carrying weapons on their boats, it was said that he keeps a Catalina 45 in Long Beach. Is this a Latitude typo? I don't think Catalina ever made a 45-footer.

I thought your responses to Krangle's arguments were very good. But I, for one, would like to get the full lowdown on the Bob Medd story. The last I heard, which was quite a few months ago, is that a couple of cruisers had, in fact, verified his story. Is there any other information?

Bob Beda
LaBoo, Catalina 30
Vancouver, B.C.

Bob - The 'Catalina 45' was probably a Latitude typo.

As for Bob Medd's story that he was boarded by Mexican fishermen in the Sea of Cortez who slit his throat and left him to die, not even his closest buddyboater or cruising friends believe it. For one thing, Medd had hinted to several cruisers that something like this might happen to him. Secondly, his story changed over time and turned out to be riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies. Out of respect for Medd, who's had some problems, everybody wants to just move on.


I wanted to thank the publisher and volunteers from Latitude for supporting the Baja Ha-Ha. My family and I had a great time doing it last fall aboard our Columbia 45 Sorina. I enjoyed the daily net check-ins and the fish reports done by the Grand Poobah.

While later cruising in Mexico, we found the local net on VHF 22 to be very helpful. In addition, the Ham nets - Chubasco, Sonrisa and Mañana - were very informative and entertaining. The only marine SSB net we found was the Picante Net, which we regularly checked in with on our way back to San Diego.

During the summer, I listened to the check-ins for the racers in the Singlehanded TransPac, the Victoria to Maui Race, and the West Marine Pacific Cup. One thing that these boats had in common with about one-third of the Ha-Ha boats is that they had lousy signals. Either they were too faint or there was too much electronic interference. I suspect that many of the problems were due to last minute installations - such as the one on my boat. I figure I just got lucky with my installation.

As I mentioned before, while there are lots of Ham nets around here, it's like a desert for SSB nets. This means that there is nowhere for SSB novices to practice or check out their radios prior to starting a Ha-Ha or race to Hawaii. I want to try to do something to remedy this, so as of September 2 at 9 p.m., I plan to be on marine SSB channel 4B, 4149.0 kHz (upper side band) - and every Monday night after that. I'll call it the Northern California Marine SSB Net.

Operators checking in should give their call sign, boat name, location, and some information about their radio. We should discuss the net frequency, net schedule, and the format for the radio net. Some possible net check-in topics are the following: emergency or priority traffic, radio checks, hailing other stations and then changing to another channel, local weather information (temperature, wind speed, wind direction, etc.), boating news, marina or yacht club news, items for sale or items wanted, crew positions available or crew positions wanted, and general questions.

I decided to start the net using 4149.0 kHz because this frequency gives good ground wave propagation over the horizon and around hills (unlike VHF), and should be able to reach 100 to 200 miles even in daylight. Also, it should be pre-programmed into many marine SSBs. The negative is that it has a lot of background noise, at least on my radio. During our first net I am hoping for a good discussion and maybe some tests of other channels if this one is not suitable. If we switch to another frequency and/or schedule, I will continue for the month of September to come on Monday night at 9 p.m. on 4149 kHz to tell people where to find the net.

When you are on your boat, consider monitoring the net frequency even when it is not net time. Let's try to make the marine SSB bands less of a desert. I will write in next month to let your readers know the latest net news, frequencies and schedule. Also check out website for the latest net information.

Ed Hoff, WDA5925
Sorina, Columbia 45
Brisbane Marina

Ed - Sounds like a terrific idea. We've never quite understood why Ham nets - which require passing a Morse Code test to participate - are so popular in this part of the world, while SSB nets - which don't require code knowledge - are not. In the rest of the cruising world, it's just the opposite.


Maybe you can help us. We used to own a boat from the '30s that was bought by the prop department for the 1975 movie Lucky Lady. Our boat, along with about 10 others, was blown up on location in Mexico for a dramatic conclusion to the film.

We recently bought a new Catalina and named her Lucky Lady Too in memory of our old boat.

We've looked for a copy of the movie in VHS, Beta, and DVD for over a year, but haven't had any luck. We've even joined a Burt Reynolds and Liza Minelli fan club. Do any of your boat-loving readers have any advice on how to find and purchase a copy of this movie? The UCLA Archives has Lucky Lady to view in their library, but we really need our own copy.

Joe, Sharon, George and Susan Kettel
Lucky Lady Too

Kettels - It sounds like one of Burt's movies that didn't even make it 'straight to video'. We don't know where you can find a copy, but perhaps one of our readers do.


Last weekend my bride and I were reaching toward San Francisco from Sausalito's Richardson Bay in 30 knots of wind with one reef in the main. About halfway across, the line to the clew cut loose with a BANG!, allowing the main to snap to leeward and take on the shape of a deformed mushroom. My first thought wasn't whether everyone was all right, or whether the sail was torn, or even if there was any other boat traffic. No, the first thing I asked myself was, "Where are the damned Latitude 38 folks? I hope they don't see me!"

Norman H. Black
Night Watch

Norman - Our cameras are everywhere. The one we have mounted on the Golden Gate Bridge recorded the incident, and we're just now preparing the photograph for an upcoming cover to be titled 'Clewless'.


Like any normal mariner, I sing the praises of the U.S. Coast Guard. But since July 16, I'm somewhat confused about their role in the scheme of things. No doubt they provide security and Search & Rescue, but how about accident prevention?

On July 16, I used my Ericson 26 Tangaroa to teach my friend Tom Gerwe some sailing maneuvers in the light winds east of Yerba Buena. Before long, we spotted a huge wooden beam - about 10 feet long and 15 inches by 15 inches - floating right in the center under the widest span of the Bay Bridge. Not wanting to read an accident report in the papers the next day, I called the Coast Guard on Tom's cell phone. The person who answered wasn't pleased that I'd called them on the only number I had handy on the boat, and suggested that next time I hail them on 16. In any event, he agreed to pass my message along.

As soon as I started monitoring 16, a fast moving motor yacht with lots of people aboard just missed the beam by a couple of feet, and there was another boat approaching the area. So I decided to act fast, first to divert traffic headed toward the beam, and second to try to lasso the hazard to navigation. During the time that this was going on, the Coast Guard issued a hazard to shipping advisory on 16. I responded by informing them that I was willing to tow the object to the Coast Guard station at Yerba Buena, which was in sight less than a mile away.

I assumed that the Coast Guard would want to take the beam off my hands, but to my surprise, they wanted nothing to do with it. They wouldn't send a boat out to remove the hazard, nor did they want me to tow it to their station. They acted as if this obvious case of accident prevention was none of their business - nor would they contact or advise me of some other agency to take care of the problem. As if adding insult to injury, they advised me not to come any closer to the security zone around their station. Apparently they could see me from their window as I struggled with this cumbersome heavy wood girder.

When I asked the guy what they wanted me to do with the beam, he told me to beach it somewhere. I tried to explain to him that I had a keelboat and therefore couldn't get close to the beach. When I asked him to please take the beam off my hands, he wanted no part of it.

What was I supposed to do next? I couldn't just let go of the thing and allow people to get hurt or killed. I won't bore you with the details, but I hopefully disposed of the beam safely inside of Clipper Cove, which is between Yerba Buena and Treasure Island. It took me almost two hours and cost Tangaroa some ugly scratches.

Up until then I had been under the impression that accident prevention is part of the Coast Guard's job, and that they would act to remove an imminent danger to navigation - at least in such a high traffic area. I would like to ask the Coast Guard what their position is, but couldn't find an appropriate email address on any of their websites. I guess they don't want to hear from us. But maybe they read Latitude.

Walter G. Hecker
Ericson 26, Tangaroa

Readers - We contacted Capt. Neil Buschman, Commander of Group San Francisco, who was very responsive to the complaint and unhappy with how the incident had been handled. He noted that it took place just a couple of days after he took command, but that it was nonetheless his responsibility. He reports that he took the liberty of looking up Mr. Hecker's number and giving him a call.

"We had a very pleasant conversation, and Mr. Hecker was able to provide me with additional information, including the phone number he called, along with the time of day," reported Capt. Buschman. "At this point I have a member of my staff tracking down some additional information for me, and at that point we will have a reasonable picture of what transpired. My intention is to utilize Mr. Hecker's experience as a training tool to ensure we are communicating in an effective and professional manner with the public we serve. I believe that Mr. Hecker is satisfied with the steps we are taking to follow-up on his concerns."

As for us, we're pleased with the way Capt. Buschman responded to the constructive criticism and believe he's taking steps to make sure such an incident would be handled better in the future.


This is probably old news to you, but regarding the reason health permits are now required for boats leaving Cabo for the United States, I don't think you need to look any further than the poor guy on Brass Ring. If you remember, this singlehander was having boat and health problems, and had to be rescued south of Cabo in late March, and then rescued again - perhaps two or three times - by the Mexican Navy off of Turtle Bay. If I'm not mistaken, the Mexican Navy impounded his boat for a time until he could find crew so they wouldn't have to rescue him again.

Most things pass in Mexico, but in my opinion a yachtie having to be repeatedly rescued tests the goodwill of a host country. I'm sure the skipper - who sounded experienced and competent when I talked to him on the VHF - had compelling reasons for attempting the Bash singlehanded. Nonetheless, there is fallout for the rest of us cruisers. I don't want to dump on anyone else's misfortune because it's bad karma, but I wonder what other people think about the fallout - should it be determined that it was caused by numerous errors in judgement and/or disregard for the safety of one's self and others on the part of the skipper.

On another subject, my wife Darline, my son Jason, and I think we were the last of the Class of '01 to reach Cabo, as we didn't get there until March. We'd left Eureka on November 7 aboard our Piver Lodestar trimaran. We rounded Cape Mendocino - which we've renamed 'Cape Maytag' - in early January, and after enduring 19 or so fronts, finally reached San Diego. Boy, did we learn how to listen closely to the weather reports for things like offshore flows - Santa Anas - and small craft advisories. What the heck is a 'small craft' anyway?

Actually, I'm embarrassed to complain at all, because our complete cockpit enclosure - made by Doug at Snug Harbor Sails - along with the Coleman catalytic heater from Wal-Mart, kept us warm and cozy all the way to Cabo. We didn't even get a drop of water on us while rounding Cape Mendocino in very confused 14 to 18-foot breaking seas. We did get knocked over a whopping 5 degrees a couple of times. Don't you just love multihulls?

We enjoyed a wonderful two months at Chula Vista Marina - Harbormaster Doug and his crew are the greatest - recuperating and working on the boat. In addition to playing tourist, we spent our share of boat units - each unit being $1,000. After Eureka, we just couldn't get enough of all the conveniences San Diego has for cruisers - and great weather, too. We then had a great time gunkholing down the Pacific Coast of Baja, arriving in Cabo in mid-March. We enjoyed picture-perfect cruising up the west side of the Sea of Cortez in late March, April, and May.

Without a doubt, the best part of the trip were all the great and amazing people we met - especially the younger folks who made us older folks feel so accepted and respected. Muchas gracias to our sailing mentors, Jaye, who is a younger folk, and Irwin, a devilish older folk, on the Acapulco 40 Winsome. They sailed with us from Half Moon Bay to San Diego, and then from Bahia Escondido to Conception Bay. There are so many others we can't list them all.

We got a Temporary Import Permit for the boat at Guaymas, and Jason is the captain for the summer, sailing out of Marina San Carlos. Besides cruising the many anchorages in the San Carlos area, day and night scuba diving, and lots of beach parties while anchored out, one of his tougher duties is ogling the scantily-clad Mexican beauties who were making a Pacifico commercial by the marina hotel's pool. It's a tough life for him. We stay in touch by Sailmail.

I have to honestly say that without my Latitude fix every month over the last five years, I never could have overcome all the challenges we faced, or soaked up the edu-cation necessary to fulfill this dream trip and change of life. I also want to thank all the many Latitude advertisers for making it possible for me to pick the magazine up free each month.

Ray Thompson
Sea Amigo, Piver Lodestar
Eureka / San Carlos, Mexico

Ray - We're certain there's no connection between the misfortunes of the skipper of Brass Ring and the recent enforcement of the old law requiring boats arriving at or leaving from foreign ports to get health certificates. Things in Mexico move so much slower than that, and there is even less intragovernmental coordination than in the United States.


Does anybody have the line drawings, structural specs, and wiring diagrams for the Hardin Voyager 44? Mine was built in 1978 and I have been living aboard for three years. I just love her. I'm starting to prepare her for cruising in a couple of years, and plan to start with the Ha-Ha.

Rick Huls
Magic Places

Rick - You never know what might turn up, but many of the boats built in Taiwan in the '70s and '80s were seat-of-the-pants affairs.


To the line about Switzerland being the place with "tall mountains and low taxes," I'd like to add "and astronomically high mooring costs." There simply aren't any moorings available on the Swiss lakes. If you want to sail, you buy the mooring first - often with the boat that is attached to it - and then buy the boat you really want to put on the mooring. Then you have the problem of disposing of the boat that had been on the mooring in the first place.

On a different subject, Joshua H., the Columbia 8.7 that formerly belonged to Jim Hagen of Santa Cruz, but which he had to leave in Eritrea, is now in Turkey with her new owners. I bought some Canadian charts from some Latitude readers who put me in touch with some of Hagen's friends - proving either how broad the readership of Latitude is or how small the cruising world is. I wrote to Hagen, but got no reply.

Independent of all this, the new owners of Joshua H. contacted the Columbia Owners Association for info, and have more or less appointed me their 'Columbia 8.7 guru' - since I seem to be the one who has made the greatest modifications to the hull and rig.

John Somerhausen
New York


I don't read the 'Lectronic Latitude too often, so I missed your introduction of the topic of cellular data connections. But I thought that you might be interested to know that I work full time from aboard my Columbia 36, courtesy of two Verizon cell phones. I use about 6,000 minutes per month of air time. For my convenience, I have one phone for voice and one for data.

Check our corporate website at, and you will see that we are 'big ship' naval architects. During my nine months on San Francisco Bay, I produced a comprehensive study of alternative fuels and alternative propulsion systems for the San Francisco Bay Area Water Transit Authority (WTA). See My point in this is to underscore that it is entirely possible to have a full time job and rely on the cell phones for voice and data communication.

Since we are on the move - we're currently in Channel Islands Harbor - I can't always use the Express Network - the higher speed data service - because it's not everywhere that I am. It does get annoying having to choose anchorages according to signal strength. For example, there's no data connection out at Prisoner's Harbor on Santa Cruz Island. However, my friends tell me that there are cell towers at the Isthmus and Avalon on Catalina. I have had excellent data connections in Avalon, but haven't tried it at White's or the Isthmus yet.

By the way, you ran an article on our electric propulsion unit in the December 2001 issue. If you want to see my smiling face, check out the photo on page 138.

Chris McKesson
Sundance, Columbia 36
(on the move)

Chris - You neglected to mention how fast the Internet connection is with Verizon's Express Network. According to their website, it "bursts" up to 144 kbs - a number to which they added an asterisk, so we've got to assume that such a speed is during the best possible of all conditions. Indeed, some industry reports say that in real life the speeds are more like 40 to 60 kbs. That's relatively fast, but not rocket fast. Sprint PCS just instituted their 3G program, which is nationwide high speed data. We tried it at Two Harbors at Catalina, and it ripped getting us onto Yahoo! and our web page. But we had some trouble with speed trying to download Doña de Mallorca's email.

As for cell signals, we didn't have any problem at Avalon or at the Isthmus. The signal strength at White's was marginal, coming in and out depending on unknown variables.

It will be interesting to find out when such high speed data service might be available in Mexico and the Caribbean, as in many countries they rely on cellular far more than we do in the United States, In addition, we're told these less-health-conscious Third World countries often allow their antennas to blast out signals that are many times as strong, giving much greater coverage.


Starting in November, I'm going to sail with my father from Long Island Sound to San Francisco. Our tentative arrival date in San Francisco will be mid-February. I realize that this isn't a lot of time, but it's all that I've been allotted, so I plan to make the most of it. Perhaps you can answer a few questions for me. First, which are the most interesting places to stop along this route. Second, any major issues regarding a Canal transit? Finally, what advice can you give me setting up email communication while at sea?

I love Latitude and read it front to back every month. When are you going to go daily?

Zach Legein
San Francisco

Zach - Thanks for the kind words. We did a little checking and came up with some freaky numbers. According to our Rand-McNally ship routes, it's 2,323 miles from New York to the Panama Canal, and 3,737 miles from Panama to San Francisco for a total of 6,060 miles. Talk about triple doubles! You didn't mention what kind of boat your father has, but a typical cruising boat shouldn't have any trouble averaging 120 miles a day. If you have 3.5 months, you should be spending about half the time underway and half the time enjoying yourselves on shore. That's a reasonable split.

Our first route advice is that your father position the boat in Norfolk, Virginia, sometime in October so you don't have to start from Long Island Sound in November. From personal experience we know that November is too late in the year to start from as far north as Long Island Sound, and could result in long delays and in your freezing your buns off in nasty weather.

While it wouldn't be out of the question for you to go by way of the Eastern Caribbean, that area is so well covered by charterboats that we'd bypass it in favor of places that are normally harder to get to. Our first 'must stop' would be Baracoa, Cuba. It's a scenic and interesting place, and because it's on the Windward Passage at the eastern end of Cuba, it's directly on the way to Panama. Our next stop would be Jamaica, mostly because it's also right on the way to the Canal. Our next stops would be Cartagena, Colombia, and Bocas del Toro, Panama, which admittedly would require some zigzagging. Unless it's extremely rough crossing the bottom of the Caribbean - which it can be at that time of year - we would not miss Cartagena. Panama's San Blas Islands, with fabulously clear water and beautiful little islands protected by a barrier reef - are the biggest 'must stop' of the trip.

As long as you and your crew have decent skills, there's nothing to fear from a Canal transit. For kicks and experience, you should do a transit on somebody else's boat before you do it with yours. When it comes to the required 125-ft lines and tires for fenders, all that stuff is readily available from vendors operating out of the Panama Canal YC in Cristobal. Recreational sailboats stream through the Canal all the time, so you won't be doing anything unusual. For fun, email friends to tell them when you'll be making the transit so they can watch you over the Internet.

In regard to routing up the Pacific Coast, there are lots of good places but few of them are 'must stops'. You'll want to visit some of the islands in western Panama, and make stops at Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and along the Mexican coast. When it comes to Mexico, most cruisers would recommend Acapulco, Z-town, Tenacatita and Banderas Bays, and Cabo will be obligatory. If you need to be back in San Francisco in mid-February, we'd leave Cabo no later than the third week in January. You shouldn't have too difficult a Bash so early in the year, but you never can tell. If you run behind schedule or hit storms on the California coast, you can always leave the boat in Southern California for a few months.

For onboard email, visit, which can fill you in with everything you need to know. If you're Ham operators, there's also Winlink.

You should enjoy lots of spirited sailing in the first half of the trip, particularly in the Caribbean. But figure on a lot of motoring from Panama to San Francisco. We would concentrate our free time enjoying places between Cuba and El Salvador, as they would require the most effort to return to. Have a great trip - and don't forget to send us some emails on your progress.


The cruisers who came to Banderas Bay last season enjoyed great sailing, romantic sunsets, and wonderful parties - but still managed to contribute time and money to support School of Stars, the local facility here for children with special needs. Financial donations are always welcome, but the school also needs items that can be obtained much less expensively in the United States. Educational toys, for example, such as jigsaw puzzles with big pieces, form fitters, paints and brushes, crayons and paper are all needed. I just bought a cartload of such treasures at a thrift store for less than $20. If anyone wants a list of items that we need or has any other questions, please email me at: abmarine at, and address it to School of Stars.

When folks arrive in Banderas Bay with these materials, they only need to contact Lupe on Moon & The Stars or me, Tea Lady, on Channel 22. We also invite everyone to come to the school to see the difference that their time and money is making.

Ronnie Barclay
Tea Lady

Readers - The day before the start of last year's Banderas Bay Regatta, the Wanderer co-hosted the First Annual Spinnaker Cup for Charity Race from Punta de Mita to Nuevo Vallarta, with all the proceeds going to the School of the Stars. We plan on doing it again this year, and hope that many of you will be able to participate. It is a good cause.


In the July Sightings, you stated that "A 32-ft Beneteau . . . came straight into [the maxi trimaran] Geronimo at an estimated 20-25 knots." Wow! Two thoughts come to mind. Either a Beneteau fell out of a passing airplane or Olivier de Kersauson should abandon the trimaran business and get himself a Beneteau! Thanks for the laugh.

David Kramer
Boatless in San Jose

David - Making mistakes is one of our specialties. The wind was blowing 20-25 knots, the Beneteau was not moving through the water at 25 knots.


Have you heard anything new on the 'land canal' project to haul boats the 80 miles across the Baja peninsula from the Sea of Cortez to the Pacific? We have driven down Baja three times and there is quite a bit of publicity on the highway, but we haven't heard of any time frame besides mañana.

Fruitcakes is still in La Paz after last year's Ha-Ha, and we have been having a great time cruising the Sea of Cortez. Several of last year's Ha-Ha'ers are still hanging out in La Paz. Bring on this year's folks and we'll make 'em feel welcome.

Steve and Angelina Phillips
Fruitcakes, Catalina 42 MKII
La Paz

Steve and Angelina - We know that a breakwater has been built at Santa Rosalalita on the Pacific side - not to be confused with Santa Rosalia on the Sea of Cortez side - but that's about it. We haven't heard any word that the opening of the 'land canal' is imminent.


The Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu is slowly emerging from a decade of indecision. 'Privatization' is now firmly under way, as was decided by the Hawaii State Board of Land & Natural Resources, and subsequently signed off by Governor Cayetano and the State Auditor earlier this year.

The privatization option has been accelerated as a result of Hawaii's budget shortfall caused in part by the fallout of 9/11. The Ala Wai receives several hundred million dollars in tax subsidies. The need for a change in management was turbocharged by the spontaneous collapse of one dock, then several more, from old age and corrosion. Two mariners were nearly killed as a result of one dock collapsing, as they were unceremoniously dropped into the harbor between two large boats last November.

Substantive progress has already occurred in the harbor, as both the Hawaii and Waikiki yacht clubs have emerged from a decade of limbo last year by having their year-to-year leases upgraded to long term. As a result, both clubs have invested heavily in their premises. This includes a new upper deck dining area at Hawaii YC and beautiful new docks at the Waikiki YC. We hear that the Hawaii YC is also contemplating new docks as part of the privatization upgrade.

One of the reasons the Ala Wai has cost taxpayers so much money is that the slip fees are so low. They run 15% to 40% below that of slip fees in the Bay Area. For example, a 38-ft slip at the Ala Wai runs about $160/month. Since it's cheaper to continue to pay the low slips fees than dispose of derelicts, many boats just sit - and with amazing frequency spontaneously sink at the dock. Some marina fingers are home to what amounts to homeless encampments, and the crime rates for murder, robbery, and drugs in the harbor and nearby park reflect it.

It appears that the leading gubernatorial candidates for the Democratic and Republican parties - Ed Case and Linda Lingle respectively - firmly support privatization, so progress shouldn't stop after the election in November.

It's conceivable that next year's TransPac will be welcomed to a gorgeous new Ala Wai, however it ain't over 'til it's over. The bid packet has yet to go out and the politicking continues - although dangerous docks are already being replaced, continuing to burn an even bigger hole in the State's pocket. (

A variety of special interest groups are continuing their efforts to resist privatization, coming up with proposals such as to 'self manage' - which could turn out to be the very definition of the 'tragedy of the commons'. This proposal seems ludicrous in light of the tens of millions of dollars required to replace all the docks, repair the parking lots, and manage an 800-slip marina. (

Furthermore, charges of 'exploitation' by private contractors continues to be hyped by marina tenants who enjoy such low slip fees. (

Tim Dick
Eau De Vie, First 42s7
Sausalito / Honolulu

Tim - We've visited the Ala Wai nearly once a year for the last 25 years in conjunction with covering the various summer races to Hawaii, so we have a long term perspective on the facility. As we've stated before, we think the Ala Wai is a crumbling monument to the inability of the state government to run such a facility. Thanks to decades of mismanagement, what should be the premiere marina complex in the Pacific has been a major failure for taxpayers and mariners alike.

A while back a comment of ours about dirt cheap slip fees resulting in the Ala Wai becoming a "dead harbor" were reprinted in Honolulu's major daily. Ray Pendleton, the columnist who ran it, said he got six emails in response - all of them in agreement.

More on the Ala Wai in this month's Sightings.


Would you please add us to Latitude's Circumnavigators' List? We left Los Angeles in March of 1996 and returned in April of this year, having travelled 40,000 miles and visited 56 countries.

The reason we went around so quickly is so our son Ryan can attend high school with his peers. He was just an eight-year-old boy when we left, and is now a 6'2" 14-year-old. It would be interesting to know how many children have done the full trip like Ryan. We would like to be contacted at svdolphinspirit at by parents who have gone around with their children. Like us, they will know that having children along opens many doors and enriches the cruising experience. Don't leave home without at least one! We would also be happy to pass on our experiences on education, child development, and other related matters, to those contemplating taking children on a cruise.

Although we knew our post-circumnavigation decompression would be a little difficult, we didn't expect it to be quite so traumatic. I guess we had selective memories about our pre-cruising life - just as we are now blocking out the bad parts of cruising.

Having heard all the horror stories about the Baja Bash, we were really concerned about our final leg. During our six year circumnavigation, we'd never experienced sustained winds of over 35 knots, so we were wondering if Dame Fortune would finally turn on us. As it turned out, we made it from Cabo to San Diego in seven days in April. The winds were light and the seas were calm - except for an hour or so around Cabo Falso. We made one stop. Thank you, thank you, thank you, to whoever organized the weather. Once again we proved that being patient and waiting for the right weather pays big dividends.

I guess I should be pleased that those who have taken exception to my April issue - perceived to be negative comments about Mexico cruising and cruisers - have got my name wrong. In the future, we will take your advice and start from the north. This time it would have been difficult, given our approach from Panama.

We did enjoy racing aboard Profligate during the Banderas Bay Regatta. My hands and muscles have already recovered nicely, thank you, and the back spasms are almost gone. I am looking forward to the next time.

Laurie Pane
Dolphin Spirit, Mason 53 Cutter
Los Angeles


I have moved my Freedom 28 Broadreacher from Owl Harbor Marina in Isleton to the Antioch Municipal Marina. It's going to be a real shocker to some, but after 21,000 miles without an engine, I broke down and rigged up an outboard. I figured that I'm just getting too old to wait out adverse currents and calms. I turned 70 last April, so I'm not too old to sail, but I am slowing down a little.

The winds have been strong the first two weeks of August.

Al MacDiarmid
Summer Onboard in Antioch / Winter in Benson, AZ


I've written this by hand because I just gave my word processor away. In fact, I'm getting rid of all my landbound possessions so that I can go cruising again. As I started looking for a boat, friends steered me to Latitude. It's great to see that you're still alive - and better than ever - after all these years.

I hope to shove off in November for the Marquesas aboard Offshore No. 2, my Islander 30 MkII. Perhaps I can visit Offshore, my first boat, which I had to leave on a reef in the Tuamotus. In any event, I'm reading everything I can about the Marquesas and Tuamotus these days.

Ron Johnston sent me the June issue of Latitude so that I could read about Skip Allan, whom I used to race against in the old days. A page before Allan's letter was another letter about the Survivor television show that had been filmed at Daniel's Bay at Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas. I'd wanted to watch Survivor to see the scenes from the Marquesas, but I couldn't stomach the show. I was also worried about what they might do to the bay. I used to work in Hollywood, and know that exploiting locations was the norm. Location productions burn up good will, break promises, and leave behind broken things and big debts. So like Latitude, I was surprised by Clark Straw's mild assessment of the after effects of the show.

I'd been to Daniel's Bay in '74 with my boat. All the yachties in Taiohae came aboard my Offshore along with Maxine, our local friend and pilot. With four cruising skippers aboard, the sails were hoisted, and the halyards cleated and coiled like magic. I thought, "Boy, I could sail around the world with a crew like this!" We sailed for Daniel's Bay. When we got there, we went to visit his house. As you entered Daniel's house, you stepped over a great foundation beam. If you are as tall as me, you smacked your head hard on the great roof beam. Daniel walked over and handed me one of his wood carving knives. I looked at the beam, which had a row of notches cut into it, and carefully cut the next notch.

I have a snapshot of Daniel carving on a great slab of rosewood, which was to be a coffee table to order. His daughter then guided us on a two-hour walk through jungle to the waterfall. In the next snapshot I'm between John Neal of Mahina and Bill of Gypsy Cowboy. Bill would later die in a Harley crash. I wonder what John is doing these days and if you know how I can get in touch with him.

Daniel asked if we would take his wife to the infirmary at Taiohae. We wrapped her in a blanket and she sat with her back to the spray. The course home was straight into fresh trades with a seaway. I fired up the Saab diesel, put the variable pitch prop in low, and we plowed into the seas like a Coast Guard cutter.

I had hoped to sail back to Daniel's Bay in the fall and run my fingers over those notches. But now his old house and the notches are gone.

Bill Amberg
Offshore No. 2, Islander 30
Big Bear City

Bill - If you can get on the Internet, you can find John Neal at He and his wife Amanda sail all over giving offshore instruction. But he's a couple of boats past the Vega 27.


I've written before, telling you what a great time I've had sailing my Hunter 23 in the northern parts of the Sea of Cortez. Last year you even graciously gave me a nice mention in 'Lectronic Latitude. I live in Fresno, but keep the boat in Mexico for most of my winter sailing. It's a 12-hour drive, but I find it well worth the effort three or four times a winter in order to fly spinnakers, do overnight trips, and sail with dolphins.

I have been going down to Mexico for 18 years and telling my two brothers about it. My older brother John lives in Maine and sails a Hunter almost identical to mine on lakes around his home. My younger brother Mike lives just outside of Kansas City and hasn't sailed much. We all have families and don't get to see each other very often, but we decided to get together for a week-long trip in Mexico on my boat.

In late February, I picked them up in Phoenix and we drove south to the boat at Puerto Peñasco, which is about 60 miles south of the border. We provisioned and set sail the next day. The weather was fantastic, the water beautiful, but having my two brothers experience something that I've always wanted to share with them was the biggest thrill for me. We spent several wonderful days sailing the area and had some good adventures. For example, we all had to work together to push the boat off a rough bottom after we'd gone to shore and the tide went out further than we had anticipated. As many sailors know, the tides can be very deceptive in the northern Sea. We also had a few rocky nights on the hook when large swells rolled in.

Despite any discomforts, we all agreed that spending quality time together on a sailboat - as well as eating well, enjoying moonrises and sunsets, and being warm in the winter - left very little to be desired. We caught up on each other's lives in a way you cannot do with a phone call or letter. Three brothers on a sailboat in Mexico was indeed special - and, I suspect, a rare event.

P.S. I'm a loyal reader who appreciates all you do. I sold a boat and bought my current boat through the Classy Classifieds.

Patrick Cavanaugh
Let's Go For It!, Hunter 23


So there we were, anchored in Clipper Cove, Treasure Island, congratulating ourselves on setting up the railside stainless steel gas-bottle powered BBQ, and looking forward to BBQ'd halibut steaks from the Q and rice cooked on the galley's CNG stove. Did I mention that we didn't have any matches or lighters with us, and someone had cleaned up the boat and removed everything that would be useful in creating a flame? Our choices were 1) Sashimi and cold rice, 2) Up anchor and borrow some matches from another boat and then reanchor in the dark, 3) Light the BBQ with a distress flare, or 4) Start the BBQ with a spark.

Option #4 sounded the best, but we had no wire, and the 9V flashlight made a pitiful spark. Sparking the boat's 12-volt battery leads sounded iffy, and the batteries were too far away from the galley stove anyway. What to do?

We kept looking around the boat and finally found a circuit with excess wire under the bunk. We cut out the excess, and made a very healthy spark to light the BBQ bottle/regulator assembly's nozzle, which we had brought belowdecks. The well controlled - seriously - flame was then walked to the galley stove, where the burner was lit. Then the BBQ was reassembled, and lit with a burning brand ignited from the stove's burner. Yay team!

Then we turned the stove burner too low and the flame went out! So we repeated the whole process a few times until we finally decided to light both stove burners as cheap 'fire insurance'. A hot dinner was duly enjoyed by 10 p.m.

On my next trip there will be matches in my shave kit - even though I don't smoke.

Tony Hitchings
Crew on Lionheart II

Tony - That's a very clever solution. We can't recommend it to others, however, as we think that ultimately it would be a recipe for a disaster of one type or the other.


I read about the serious health problems that have beset Sausalito master shipwright John Burns. I sent a letter to our local paper - which covers an area in which wooden boats are cherished - describing Burns' accomplishments and current troubles. If folks in the Port Townsend sailing community would like to make a contribution, where should we send the checks? I also mentioned the September 8 benefit for Burns at the Tiburon YC - just maybe some folks from up here will attend.

As you know, Port Townsend is home to the Wooden Boat Foundation. If ever a poster is created for John Burns, I would like to put one up at the Foundation office. This may be a long battle for him, and we want to be there for him.

Daryl Bulkley
Port Townsend, WA

Daryl - For complete information, call John Donavan at (415) 331-6313 or visit Thanks for your concern.


We just caught up with the July Latitude, which was great, as usual. We appreciated the extra info on the Cabo checkout business, but have one small correction regarding our letter on the subject. When we arrived at San Diego, nobody asked us for any Mexican checkout papers. We don't know if we got away with something or whether they never ask for them.

Also, reading the part of your response that says the old Mexican law " . . . requires that boats have a sanitary inspection when arriving from or leaving for a foreign port . . . " raises the question of whether the 2002 Ha-Ha fleet is gonna get whacked for an extra $100 per boat when they arrive in Cabo. It's probably not practical, but maybe you should stop at Mag Bay instead of Bahia Santa Maria, or arrange for the Mag Bay port captain to motor over and clear in the fleet.

Anyway, we certainly hope it works out for everyone going south. We just wish we were going again this year - we'd gladly pay the extra bucks! Any cruisers who boycott Mexico thinking it will change the clearing procedures is out of touch with reality. And they - as Latitude has said - are making a serious mistake, because cruising in Mexico is more than worth the extra expense and minor hassle. Not that we wouldn't mind an improvement in the clearing costs and procedures.

Dave and Merry Wallace
Air Ops, Amel Maramu
Redwood City

Dave and Merry - We don't recall American officials ever asking us for the clearing papers from a foreign country, no matter if it was from Mexico, Cuba, or any number of islands in the Caribbean. Indeed, we've known of a number of cases where cruisers have elected, for one reason or the other, to leave a country without clearing. If they had a good story, it usually - but not always - was accepted without a problem at the new country.

As for the Cabo Harbormaster requiring $100 health certificates for all the arriving Ha-Ha boats, we suppose it could happen, but doubt it. If nothing else, it would provide a perfect opportunity for hundreds of cruisers to protest Mexican clearing fees all at once.

We do, however, think it's important to keep everything in perspective. In the unlikely event each boat would have to pay $100, it would still pale by comparison to the $3/ft/night - not per month - fees being charged by some marinas on the East Coast of the good old U.S.


There is a firm named Sea Fever Gear that recycles old sailcloth into usable items such as windbreakers, gear bags, and such. It is owned and operated by two sisters, Pixie and Penny. If owners send their old sails to them, they can have gifts made for their crew. Pixie's email address is: pixieh at The firm's web address is:

Kerry Myers
Mill Valley

Kerry - We gave Penny Cronen a call on Cape Cod, and she told us that Sea Fever - named after the family's former boat, a Mercer 44 of the same name - is basically her and her sister Pixie Haughwout, who works out of San Diego. Much to our surprise, Penny said they have no excess of material - and would be delighted if anybody wanted to 'dispose' of their old sails by giving them to them. They accept both spinnakers and white sails - although we can't imagine they'd make one of their 'naughty nighties' out of an old Kelvar heavy #1, what with the danger of nipple rash. In any event, if you want to get rid of some old sails, call Penny in Cape Cod at (508) 945-6463 or Pixie in San Diego at (619) 222-7024. We shredded a lovely half ounce white chute on the recent King Harbor Race, and now we know how we're going to get rid of it.


I do not want to get caught in a dangerous place between a tugboat operator and a mad scientist, but it didn't make sense to me that a market checker was the most dangerous occupation. Before I proceed, I admit that there are more Chinese people dying each year than people from Denmark or Finland, but I am pretty sure that is because there are so many more Chinese people. Similarly, more truck drivers die on the job than pilots because there are so many more truck drivers.

Worker's Compensation Insurance rates are a very good barometer of how dangerous a job is, and since I was pretty sure loggers' rates are among the highest, I looked up the information on an OSHA website. The chart I found gave both the total number of workers killed and the percentage rate of deaths per 100,000 employees for the year 2000, which is the only rational basis for comparison. To keep it short, deaths per 100,000 employees are as follows:

Loggers 122.1
Pilots 100.8
Truckdrivers 27.6
Agriculture  25.0
Police 12.1
Sales 2.3

Tugboat operators, market checkers, and teachers did not make the list. While this does not settle the dispute between the science teacher and the tugboat operator, hopefully it will rationally set the general record straight.

Ernie Copp
Orient Star
Long Beach

Ernie - Remember the old line about 'statistics are like prostitutes in that you can pretty much do whatever you want with them'? There can be countless variables in the way statistics are gathered, so it wouldn't surprise us if there is 'evidence' to support any number of occupations as being 'the most dangerous'.


This is a copy of a letter that I sent to Chuck Hawley of West Marine Products that should be of interest of anyone with an inflatable:

I am a West Marine customer who has purchased two Avon Rover inflatables through your South San Francisco store over the years. On August 10, I was pulled over by the San Joaquin Marine Sheriff patrol boat near Tinsley Island. Officer Mike Dugger very politely told me that I was operating my boat in a negligent manner by sitting on the outer tubes of the inflatable. My three sons were also sitting on the tubes of our 12-foot boat. While the boat's capacity is 1,200 lbs. (boat and motor 178 lbs. + crew), our combined displacement was about 180 lbs. under the limit.

I explained that inflatables are designed to have the occupants sit on the boat's tubes, which are the center of buoyancy. Officer Dugger told us that we could return to our sailboat about 100 feet away, but if we I continued toward Herman & Helen's Marina, I would be cited under code 6697 - Prima-Facie Evidence of Negligent Operation. I returned to our vessel and stewed.

The following week I called the Sheriff's Department to inquire if this was a misunderstanding, or whether I had been operating my boats incorrectly for the last 13 years. Today I received a package from the deputy who pulled me over, with a very professional note and the copy of the code he felt applied to my situation. Code 6697 reads as follows:

"Pursuant to the provisions of Section 655 of the Harbors and Navigation Code, the following described acts endanger life, limb or property and constitute evidence of reckless or negligent operation. a) Riding on the bow, gunwale or transom of a vessel propelled by machinery underway when such position is not protected by railing or other reasonable deterrent to falling overboard, or riding in a position or manner which is obviously dangerous. These provisions shall not apply to a vessel's crewmen in the act of anchoring, mooring or making fast to a dock or another vessel, or the necessary management of a sail."

Items b) and c) did not apply to my situation.

While I consider myself a very safety conscious sailor, I don't feel that the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Marine Division is properly applying this code section. It seems to me that the best use of an inflatable boat is to load the center of the craft with your gear and sit on the tubes which are the buoyancy centers. What are your thoughts? Should West Marine - probably the largest retailer of inflatables - be advertising "reckless and negligent operation" (2002 catalog, pages 236, 238, 243 and 259 with your picture on it!)? I think it is ironic that I upgraded to a larger inflatable and a four-stroke outboard only to be told I can't use the boat for its intended purpose.

Chuck, you do a great job in your capacity with West Marine. I hope that together we can bring about a change of attitude on this subject with the Delta marine authorities.

Jon Jones
Northern California

Chuck Hawley of West Marine responded as follows:

"I agree with your observations about the advantages and logic of operating an inflatable from the tubes, rather than either sitting on the sole or on a thwart. Generally, I sit on the starboard side of the boat's hull, and steer with my left hand. I know others, including those who do surf rescue, who steer from the port side, but it's a matter of personal preference. My passenger generally sits opposite me in the forward port area.

The new air floor boats allow one to sit on the sole or floor with greater comfort, but with far less visibility. I still feel like I have more control when sitting on the tube.

In a current Zodiac catalog, I can only find a few images where the operator appears to be sitting on the starboard tube. In virtually all images, he is crouching on the floor, starboard aft, while his passenger sits on the thwart. It doesn't seem very realistic, but I believe they made the change in the catalog in response to the legal issues you have described. (The catalog also shows nearly 100% compliance with PFD usage.)

I am not sure what to tell you. We even put handles in positions so that tube-driving operators can hold themselves in place in rough conditions. But it could very well be that there is a law, based on less stable aluminum and fiberglass small craft, that prohibits sitting on the "gunwale".

If you want to pursue this, you might contact NASBLA, the National Assn. of State Boating Law Administrators, and see if there are exceptions for inflatables in any states ( You could also contact the Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety, 202-267-1949, and see if they have any other input. That's the Chief of Boating Safety's inside number, but there's a new man in charge whom I have not met. Please let me know what you find out! I have also copied Virgil Chambers of the National Safe Boating Council, who is very well informed on boating safety laws."


Readers - As long time operators of inflatables, we ride in exactly the manner that Chuck Hawley does - aft on the starboard tube with the first passenger forward on the port tube. We're glad to hear that Officer Dugger was polite, but we would have countered that we certainly were in compliance with the law as set forth by Section 655 a), for we indeed had a "reasonable deterrent to falling overboard" - specifically, the right hand grip that's built into the starboard tube for the very purpose of keeping the driver secure. At the moment of impact with a wave, this active restraint - like a hand-operated seat belt - is far more effective than a passive rail would be. If Officer Dugger would like a demonstration, we'd be happy to provide one.


I'm writing in response to Frenchman Pascal Cellier of New York, who in the August issue wrote to implore cruisers not to give money, clothing and such to the impoverished residents of bucolic Mexico and other poor countries.

I spent the first 20 years of my life as a child in Appalachia, a most lovely, pastoral, poverty-stricken 'paradise'. I have even the credentials of having a Native American mother. But I can tell Pascal that poverty sucks. Take him out of New York and let him spend six months contemplating the tail and rectum of a mule in the hot sun, and his attitude will change. He and all his kind can kiss the ass of my mule Sarah - and mine, too.

I got out through hard work and capitalism, not through the benefits of jerks like him.

Robert French
San Rafael

Robert - Your letter seems a little contradictory. On the one hand you imply that it's important that cruisers help out with money and clothes, but on the other hand say you got out of poverty through hard work, not the benefits of jerks. We're puzzled.


Your August issue was outstanding. In fact, it was the only thing that allowed me to keep my sanity during the interminable flight from Providence, Rhode Island, to Sacramento, that brought me home from racing a chartered boat in the International 110 Nationals in Newport, Rhode Island. I particularly enjoyed the story of the family who cruised up the Delta in the late 1940s - it was one of the best items to ever appear in Latitude.

Speaking of 110s, I've been meaning to thank you for your May coverage of the reunion of 110. I was able to attend, and I think that your reporter did a great job of capturing the spirit of the event and the love that a lot of folks have for what is admittedly a unique boat. It's probably as much my fault as his that there was no mention of the existing fleet that sails on Tomales Bay, but Stan Morris' photograph of our fleet that you so generously ran on your June 3 'Lectronic Latitude took care of that oversight. We expect to have several more boats on the line next season. Anyone who is interested in joining us should contact me through the International 110 Class website at

Chris Waddell
International 110 #430


Larry Weaver of Santa Cruz asked what he could do with his worn out Mylar sails, and you asked if anybody knew an answer. We know what to do with them! is a new Northern California company specializing in recycling Kevlar, Mylar and Dacron sails into useful things such as duffel bags, wallets, tablemats, travel document folders, and other things. We've got a good selection of bags in stock that are available at, or you can contact me directly about recycling sails from your boat in to duffel bags for your crew. Great holiday gift idea, huh? Our new website with full product descriptions and pictures launches October 1, 2002.

Ashley Perrin
Nothern California

Ashley - Sounds great, we wish you the best of luck.


Our letter is to thank all the returning racers and fellow sailors who stopped or called out to see if we needed help on July 27 in the Alameda Estuary. We were blown into the loading dock, which broke our forestay, which caused our mast to come down. A special thanks to Mike Simpson, who jumped off a friend's boat to help us get the mast and rigging onto the boat and the sails off. We also we want to thank the two young men in the cabin cruiser who kept circling giving moral support. Last but not least, a big thanks to Sandie and Dennis from the Treasure Isle Marina. They welcomed we weary survivors with open docks, a telephone to alert worried family members, and hot showers. Thanks to all!

Gail & Wym Price
Out of Petaluma

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