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In response to Vivienne Fagrell's September question about the beginnings of evening 'beer can' races, I don't have the definitive answer, but I do have one part of the puzzle. I was part of the group that started the Friday Night Beer Cans at the Golden Gate YC in the summer of 1965 - if memory serves me, which it doesn't always. At the time, a bunch of us were racing Cal 20s and had set up an informal tune-up clinic off the Cityfront. The initial group included myself, Jimmy Ong, John Webb, Bob Baum, and Tom Price - joined shortly by Jerry Leth, John Poletti, Jack Kostecki (John's dad), and Paul Kaplan. All are deceased except for myself, Poletti, Price, and Kaplan. Jim Ong, John Webb and I were members of the Golden Gate YC, so we arranged for Manny Fagundes to serve his famous 'Seaweed Soup' after the tune-up sessions. By the next year, we were running races and getting over 20 Cal 20s on the starting line. We provided our own race committee - made up primarily of girlfriends, as few of us were married at the time - usually assisted by Manny at the start. Later we were joined by other fleets such as the Knarrs.

There may have been some beer can racing in the Oakland Estuary prior to this, but otherwise the Golden Gate Cal 20 races were the first. Later on, the Sausalito YC, Corinthian YC and Berkeley YC got their programs started, and there are many more today. It should be noted that the 'woodies' - meaning IODs, Frisco Flyers and Folkboats - started a Wednesday night series a year or so before the Cal 20s. But it's my impression that these races were too serious to be called 'beer cans.'

Jon Nicholas
El Granada

Jon - Thanks for taking the time to respond, as we thought it was an excellent question. Can any old hands from the Oakland Estuary - or even Southern California - shed any more light on the history of beer can racing?


Tonight the San Rafael City Council will yet again attempt to remove liveaboard boaters from the harbors that are in the city's jurisdiction. This is a fight for our right to pursue happiness aboard our vessels. The issue of overboard discharge is minute compared to the city's decaying sewer infrastructure. Studies done by civil engineers have advised the city of the enormity of their problem, but the city insists on scapegoating liveaboards. The real reasons are money and greed!

The mean average home in Marin County is $750,000. Living aboard is a low-cost alternative to an ever-increasing cost of living.

John Harvan
San Rafael

John - Lydia Romero, who dispenses public information for the San Rafael City Council, painted a very different picture of what was going on. She says what you were referring to wasn't a regular City Council meeting, but rather a 'study session' in which the Planning Commission presented the City Council with information that had been gathered from all interested parties - including liveaboards - over the past two years. Romero told us that the Planning Commission recommended that the City Council not get into the liveaboard issue at all, but concern themselves solely with water quality. And it looks as though that's what the City Council will likely do. Ordinances regarding the water quality issues will be formulated and presented to all interested parties for discussion and comment long before anything is passed.

Just so everyone is clear on the point, we are big supporters of the concept of living aboard - assuming that basic safety and sanitation requirements are followed. We are not, however, in favor of marinas becoming low-income housing for the general population - not anymore than we favor parks and beaches becoming tent cities.


I am belatedly responding to a February letter by Cindy Douglas about "topsy-turvy insurance" - or when the insurance premiums seem to be inversely proportional to the value of the boat.

I have been a marine underwriter for over 30 years, but it is still a tricky area to deal with. There are many forms of valuation: original cost, depreciated value, replacement cost, book value, market value, resale value, salvage value, and so forth. This is the same issue that caused so much grief for people who had their homes devastated by the fire in the Oakland Hills a few years ago.

Most - but not all - yacht insurance is written on a Replacement Cost (newforold) basis. If something breaks, the insurance company will buy you a new one - so long as the bill does not exceed the total insured value. Even though the insurance company is willing to insure your 10-year-old boat for the price you paid for it 10 years ago, the cost of repairs has increased every year since then. Have you priced new boats lately? Not that many years ago you could have bought a new 30-footer for $30,000. A new 30-footer can cost $100,000. Have you been to the boatyard lately to see what replacement parts cost? And remember, no matter if you're buying parts for cars or boats, the sum of the parts is always greater than the whole.

When an insurance company collects premiums based on a $30,000 30-footer, they know that in fact, the potential for repairs is now on the scale of $100,000 - or more. This is why insurance premiums go up even if the boat hasn't gone up that much in value. The key is the ratio between the current market value of a 20-year-old boat compared to what it would cost to repair it with the price of today's parts and labor. At some point the spread becomes so great between the boat's current market value and its replacement value, that it becomes no longer economically feasible to insure.

Another kind of insurance is called Actual Cash Value. In these cases the premiums are less, but you will only collect on a portion of your claim. The insurance company will insure your boat for what it is worth today, but they will only pay for the proportional cost of any repairs. For example, if you have a mast with a life expectancy of 20 years and it breaks in 10 years, you'll only be reimbursed for 50%. It's obviously very difficult to determine the exact life expectancy on any given part - which makes it difficult to adjust claims on Actual Cash Value policies.

When it comes to insurance, not all types of policies are the same, so you have to be very aware of what you are buying.

Brian Deans
Navigators Insurance Company

Readers - How many of you know whether you have a Replacement Cost or an Actual Cash Value policy on your boat?


We've read in Latitude that some folks are having trouble finding slips in San Diego prior to the start of the Ha-Ha. We had similar trouble before the start of the 2000 Ha-Ha, but finally found a berth at the Marriott Hotel Marina in downtown San Diego. It's not cheap - we paid $1,350 a month for our 44-footer, and the daily rate would have been $67.50. But we got access to the swimming pool and jacuzzi, 20% off on all meals, and a number of other benefits. It was also a great place to provision. There must have been about 10 other Ha-Ha boats in the marina, so we had our own little Ha-Ha kick-off parties. Based on that good experience, we have chosen the Marriott Marina as our Baja Ha-Ha pre-departure spot once again.

Myron and Marina Eisenzimmer
Mykonos, Swan 44
San Francisco YC

Myron & Marina - Thanks for the tip. Downwind Marine in San Diego is once again operating as a clearinghouse for available slips in San Diego. Interested folks should call Steve at (619) 224-2733, preferably on Monday or Tuesday. Budget cruisers should remember that boatowners who don't live in San Diego County can use the anchorage near the Coast Guard Station in San Diego Bay for three months - at no charge. You do, however, have to stop by the San Diego Harbor Police Station on Shelter Island for a permit, and so they can do a basic inspection of your boat and her safety and sanitation equipment.

If you've taken offshore delivery of your boat or want to start the Ha-Ha from Ensenada, there's berthing down there. "We have a significant number of open slips from 36 to 56 feet, a couple of end-ties, and one 350-ft mega yacht pier," advises Gabriel Ley, Dockmaster at Ensenada Cruiseport Village Marina, which is about 60 miles south of San Diego. "So please visit us at We were given the name of Latitude by the owners of Two Can Play, who are staying in our marina prior to participating in late October's Baja Ha-Ha." It's also possible to anchor for free in Ensenada Bay.

Another terrific place to stay prior to the Ha-Ha is Newport Beach, where berths and moorings are just $5 a night and there are always moorings available. Newport is great fun, has everything that a mariner could need, and is only 75 miles from San Diego. Other fine options include Shoreline Marina in Long Beach, which usually has slips up to 45 feet, and Catalina, which has moorings for boats of all sizes. If folks have the time, we recommend all of these places be visited and enjoyed before the start of the Ha-Ha.


While looking for some other stuff on the NASA Web site (, we came across the accompanying photograph and descriptive text [to view photo, see the September 11 'Lectronic Latitude].

"Guadalupe Island, Mexico, August 1991. The elongated, volcanic island of Guadalupe (latitude 29° N) is located in the Pacific Ocean approximately 180 miles (290 kilometers) off the coast of west-central Baja California, Mexico. The island is an extinct volcano with a maximum elevation of approximately 4,500 feet (1,370 meters) above sea level. The photograph illustrates the blocking impact that the elevated terrain can have on low stratus clouds as the clouds move southeastward. The island creates a 'cloud wake' downstream (leeward side) of the island, a rather common phenomenon when low stratus clouds pass islands that have adequate elevations to form an impediment to the cloud's normal flow. The Mexican government has established the island as a wildlife preserve, especially for the protection of elephant seals."

We haven't been to Guadalupe Island - although at least two of the Ha-Ha 2001 boats did stop there - but encountered the same effect at Cedros Island on our trip north in June. In fact, the only time we saw sun between Cabo and San Diego was in the lee of Cedros. The other interesting aspect of the phenomenon is that the wind accelerated around the tips of Cedros, so that it increased from about 15 knots to 25 knots within five or so miles of the tips of the island. In the lee of the island, the wind actually reversed direction and blew from the east at about eight knots. The lesson here is obviously to go inside Cedros when going north - although Ha-Ha'ers would probably want to go outside when going south.

Dave and Merry Wallace
Air Ops, Amel Maramu
Moored at Redwood City / Our Hearts Are Still In Mexico

Dave & Merry - We only sailed by Guadalupe once, and it was very slowly. The wind suddenly came up to about 25 knots just to the north - windward - of the island, but died a very short time later. This, of course, doesn't fit any of the models. There was so little wind the rest of the way to Cabo that we had to hail a fishing boat and take on diesel 150 miles off the coast. In addition to the diesel, our fueling friends presented us with the head of a very large - and very unattractive - fish.

As Guadalupe is so inaccessible and desolate, we wouldn't be surprised if Fonatur were to build a marina, hotel and golf course on the island.


We would like to race our Herreshoff schooner in events such as the Ensenada and Little Ensenada Races, and need to know how to obtain a handicap for our boat. The guys at the Chula Vista YC said you might be able to give us direction.

Emil Dopyera
Schooner Raven

Emil - No problem. Just visit the Web sites for either the Southern California Yachting Association or Southern California PHRF, which have all the details. Basically, you have to belong to a yacht club or other affiliate organization of the SCYA - some are very inexpensive to join - and then send in your boat and sail dimensions with a check for a small amount. Folks in Northern California can get all the directions they need by going to the Yacht Racing Association of San Francisco Bay Web site.


The Coast Guard turned in an impressive performance on September 1. Anyone monitoring Channel 16 heard the frantic call for help by a very frightened and panicky lady whose husband had fallen overboard and into the Bay. The Coast Guard radio operator who intercepted the call did a magnificent job working with the lady to determine where she was and what kind of boat she was on. The woman was not familiar with VHF radio procedures, so he kept her on 16 throughout the rescue operation. In addition, this Coast Guard radio operator vectored the rescue boat to the location and the rescue was made. We all hope that the man who went overboard is all right. But I want to congratulate the Coast Guard for a job well done.

As a side note, I recommend that the spouse of any boatowner take classes in boating safety and boat handling, as it could save the spouse's life.

Fran Coad
Northern California


I want to report a negative experience that I had at the Marine Safety Office in Alameda.

In 1994, I sat for a Merchant Marine Officer's license, and passed. Five years have gone by, so it expired. Although I never did use the license, I'd had it framed and hanging on a nice teak-paneled wall. Unfortunately, some water bled through the frame and got onto it. So I took the expired license to the Marine Safety Office to have a duplicate made - with the same dates on it. But I got nothing but 'bad' from the woman in charge. I was told no one had ever asked to get a duplicate of an outdated license, and made me feel like a fool. Although I was willing to pay the $45, it was still no dice.

What's so hard to understand about replacing a soiled license with a new one?

Disenchanted Mariner
Northern California

D.M. - We side with the Coast Guard on this one, as we like to think they have better things to do than duplicate outdated licenses - particularly for people who never used them in the first place.


On September 1, I visited the office at Almar's Ventura Isle Marina, as I was looking into the possibility of keeping my vessel in that marina during the summer of 2003. The office personnel were very helpful as we discussed the availability of slips. As I was leaving the office with an information pamphlet, I was asked what kind of boat I had.

"A 48-foot schooner."

"Is she wood?"


"We don't take wood boats."

David F. Hamilton
Elizabeth Muir, 48-ft schooner
Santa Barbara

David - We were surprised by your letter, as we can't imagine any marina having a blanket prohibition on wood boats - or that any marina wouldn't be proud to have the lovely Elizabeth Muir in one of their slips. For those who don't know the schooner, Elizabeth Muir was built by master craftsman Babe Lamerdin for himself in Bolinas, with the help of master craftsman John Linderman. If she's anything like she was when she was launched, she's a work of art.

Harbor Manager Jeri Dunham of Ventura Isle Marina tells us that they do have wooden boats in their marina, and will continue to rent slips for wooden boats. Dunham thinks that perhaps you were given incorrect infor-mation by the front office staff, who do not have the authority to rent slips to owners of wooden boats, or any boat older than 15 years. Such decisions are left to Dunham, who in the past has driven as far as Long Beach to inspect boats.

Why would any marina - private or public - be so picky about wooden boats and boats more than 15 years old? Harbor-masters up and down the coast will give you the same answer - liability. They can all tell stories of well-intentioned folks who bought fixer-upper wooden boats for as little as a dollar, not having any idea what they were getting themselves into. In the end, many such boats have been abandoned, and the marina has gotten stuck babysitting them - which can mean things such as having to come down in the middle of the night to pump them out or even arrange to have them raised from the bottom. But that's just the beginning of the trouble. Going through the legal process of determining ownership is long and expensive, and ultimately destroying such boats - particularly older ones, which in many cases were built with toxic materials such as asbestos - is difficult and costly.

The bottom line is that the irresponsible behavior of some owners of wooden boats have made it harder for all the owners of wooden boats. When you apply for a slip, David, we think carrying a current photo and recent survey of your fine yacht would solve all the problems.

While we're talking about that part of the world, Dunham reports that Ventura Isle currently has 100% occupancy, something she attributes in part to 9/11. "It seems that a lot of folks bought boats because it allows them to have family fun close to home." If any openings come up for next summer, we'd jump on them. We used to keep our Freya 39 in Ventura Isle Marina in the early '80s, and it was terrific. There's good wind, consistent surf, it's close to the Channel Islands, and Oracle Racing chipped in a bunch of money to deepen the channel.


Larry Weinhoff's August article about preparing the boat you already own for a cruise to Mexico hit home with me, as I have been trying to prep my 1978 Pearson 31 for coastal cruising in Mexico. Lucky for me, my basic boat was built to sail offshore and is structurally sound. Unfortunately, she doesn't have any of the extras that I now consider necessary for that kind of cruising. I speak from the experience of having done a 'long trip on a short boat' - specifically from Cleveland to and throughout the Caribbean and back from 1979-81 on a 1969 C&C 30. We had no GPS, no radar, no refrigeration, no watermaker, but we did have an Atomic 4 gas engine with a 20-gallon fuel tank. It was a great experience and I'm glad to have done it, but I'm not willing to go bare bones again.

Here's my conundrum: I estimate that it will take a minimum of $20,000 to put my boat into basic cruising mode, including $10,000 for a new diesel, and another $10,000 for the radar, refrigeration, watermaker, and so forth. Fortunately, the sails are in good condition.

Sure, I could jerry jug gas and water, and drift through doldrums to save fuel, but installing a diesel would mean increased range and power. During my last cruise, I had my fill of warm Country Time Lemonade & rum to last five lifetimes, so refrigeration is a must. From the last cruise, I also learned that water - or lack of a water source - dictates where and when you go. Being that I would be in arid Mexico, a watermaker is high on my list.

After adding $20,000 to a $20,000 boat, would I have a $40,000 boat? No, but I look at it as the cost of having an adventure. Sure, none of this makes any financial sense, but then I've never been particularly sensible financially. Am I willing to spend all my savings to go? I'm not sure. What I do know is that my small boat is not only more affordable and easier for me to handle than the perfect 40-footer that I may not be able to afford. Besides, time is flying by and I'm not getting any younger. How to make this work without spending every last penny of my savings is the challenge I face. Thanks for the encouraging article showing that it can be done on a small scale.

Christy Schisler
Island Girl, Pearson 31
San Diego

Christy - The good news is that you don't have to spend all your savings to go cruising. We're here to save you as much as $20,000 but still make all your cruising dreams come true. No matter if you were captain or crew, sailing from Cleveland to the Caribbean and back on a C&C 30 was a studly ocean adventure. A cruise to Mexico will be a piece of cake by comparison, and therefore doesn't require so much equipment.

Diesel engines are better and safer than gas engines for cruising, but they're not mandatory. For instance, Butchie and Bitchie of the Sausalito-based Lapworth 40 Contenta have been cruising the South Pacific for eight years with a Gray Marine gas engine, and they're still going strong. So before you plunk down $10,000 to replace your gas engine, we suggest investing a couple of hundred dollars to have it thoroughly examined by an expert. Not the guy down the dock, but an expert. The engine you currently have might well be capable of doing the job for you in Mexico - particularly if you get some tutoring on the love and care of a gas engine. One of the nice things about the mostly light airs of Mañanaland is that unless you have to keep to a tight schedule, it's easy and safe to sail just about everywhere. It does require patience, but it can be done.

Radar is a wonderful thing, both for being able to 'see' ships in a thick fog and to doublecheck GPS and the depthsounder to confirm your position. But you don't need radar for a cruise to Mexico, where once you get halfway down Baja there's rarely any fog and where the navigation is mostly straightforward. If you've been able to manage without radar in San Diego, you can easily manage without radar in Mexico.

Refrigeration and an unlimited supply of water can make the cruising life much more luxurious in Mexico, but if funds are tight, you can very easily do without both of them. To a far greater extent than in the Caribbean, cruising in Mexico is a social activity, so dining on other boats and attending potlucks is the norm rather than the exception. So even if you don't have refrigeration, you'll still be enjoying plenty of fresh foods and ice cold drinks. And, you never enjoy a cold drink as much as when you only get a couple of them a day.

Today's watermakers are more efficient and reliable than ever - but we've taken our own boats to Mexico something like 17 times and have never once had a functioning watermaker - and it's never been a big problem. For one thing, we only drink bottled water. Secondly, we shower onboard with a Sunshower, which is inherently frugal with water - but still provides all you really need. Plus, you'll be spending a lot of time on the beach, where many restaurants have showers, or you could have a cold drink in a fancy hotel, where you can use the hot tubs, pools, and showers. Yes, it would be wonderful to have endless water, but in Mexico it's not hard to do without.

Here's a bonus! The beauty of not having refrigeration and a watermaker is that you don't have to do any maintenance on them, and you wouldn't be having to run your engine - perhaps the old Atomic 4 - to power them.

Your Pearson 31 should be a fine boat for cruising Mexico, Christy, but we'd feel terrible if you spent all your savings on accessories that you could quite easily live without in Mexico. If your engine is shot, that's a serious matter. But not having a radar, watermaker, and refrigerator shouldn't prevent you from having a fabulous time in Mexico.


I am upset by noted sailor Gary Jobson's September 2002 Sailing World article about the tragic death of Jamie Boeckel - because Jobson doesn't recommend the one action that would most likely have prevented this horrible accident - and the one action that most amateur sailors crossing oceans use - wearing a safety harness.

I have participated in numerous ocean races up and down the west coast, including a number of TransPacs and West Marine Pacific Cups. On every offshore race, the rule at night is that one must have a harness on and must be clipped in at all times. Jacklines run from bow to stern allowing all maneuvers at night to be completed without being disconnected from the boat. I have been involved in numerous safety at sea seminars, where time and again people are told to use harnesses - especially at night. In the West Marine Pacific Cup, skippers have been required to tell their crew in writing the boat's requirements for the use of flotation and harnesses - impressing on the skippers and crew how important flotation and harnesses are.

I also believe there is a growing danger among the more professional crews, too many of whom believe that because of their experience and talent, that these safety requirements don't apply to them. In this year's West Marine Pacific Cup, there was a man overboard from one of the professionally crewed boats - and as was the case with Boeckel from Blue Yankee - the man who went overboard had no flotation and no harness on. In this case, thank God, they recovered the person. On the amateur boats, no one would think of performing maneuvers at night without being harnessed in.

Anyone who has been out to sea knows that if someone goes overboard at night, with flotation on or not, the odds of not being able to find them is too high. This is doubly true on a fast boat with a spinnaker up, where it can take many yards and many minutes to stop and return to where the crew went overboard.

I think Jobson's article does the sailing community a real disservice as it doesn't strongly recommend - in fact, doesn't recommend at all - the one most effective remedy one can take. Do not get disconnected from the boat - use a harness. The use of a harness is only mentioned in passing in Jobson's article - and virtually written off because the crew felt it wasn't necessary. Since when do skippers pass on responsibility for the safety of their crew to the crew?

Was the obvious need for crew to be harnessed in at all times during the night not mentioned due to potential liability - or feelings of guilt? Surely Jobson and Isler know that everyone on the boat should have been wearing a harness - and owe it to the sailing community to say it.

I get a sick feeling in my stomach saying all this, as I am sure the crew of Blue Yankee already feel terrible and guilty about what happened, and this letter is rubbing salt in their wounds. But we need to learn from this tragedy and let the sailing community know how to prevent it from happening again.

Jim Quanci
San Francisco


Last summer, our family went on one of those Maine schooner cruises, which is sort of a sailing dude ranch. We stopped in Stonington, where the crew bought two lobsters for each passenger for the lobster bake the next day. While there, I noticed an unintentionally humorous sign on the wharf, which announced, "Two Hour Birthing Limit." I wish I could have gone there for the birth of my son, for it took almost 24 hours before he was finally in his berth beside me in the hospital!

Germaine Krase
Northern California


Regarding the August cover: That doesn't look like the Latitude 38 I know out on the Bay. It looks more like 'Latitude 36-24-36'. I'd be curious to know how many of your readers made the same observation, in exactly those terms.

Shelley Rogé
Northern California


Did anyone complain about two guys in swimsuits on the September cover? Two guys, swimsuits, Hobie Cat - seems pretty racy to me. Hey wait, they're sailing!

Jon Kaplan
Port Townsend, Washington


I want to express my disappointment with your September cover photo. I understand that you might choose to put an attractive catamaran on your cover now and then, but the one on the September cover has one hull totally out of the water! Where is your sense of decency?  

Max Crittenden
Martin 32
Menlo Park


Your September cover is entirely too suggestive and downright lewd. All that exposed skin! Practically nude bodies! I can't believe you have to resort to this to sell your rag. You have to do better, so stick to your primary subject!

Sound familiar?

Doug Terrell
Sandpoint, Idaho


It's funny what people object to. My wife Marian and I have always used Miracle Max, our C250 WB, as a big, floating, tanning bed. It's great to go to a warm water lake and cruise around soaking up the rays.

Back when Marian was still just my girlfriend, I was teaching her how to sail my Sunfish on San Jose's Lake Anderson. Outfitted in a bikini, she had the tiller and was having fun using the wind and rudder to get where she wanted to go. As we glided past this fellow on a Laser - who had all the competitive gear including a butt bucket - he looked at me sipping champagne with my head resting on Marian's lap, and said, "I think you're taking this sailing thing entirely too easy." Maybe that was the 'problem' with the August cover, the couple looked as though they were taking the sailing thing too easy.

P.S. I enjoy Latitude and read 'Lectronic on my computer every day.

Bob Bumala
Palo Alto


I love your 'Lectronic Latitude responses to comments about the sexy August cover. I spent a number of years in advertising, so I always get a chuckle when publishers are criticized for using attractive women on their covers. I've never known a magazine to go out of business because they used attractive women that way. In fact, just the opposite is true. Just look at what happened when Sports Illustrated started their annual swimsuit edition. Obviously, these attractive women didn't offer much in the way of sports coverage, but boy did they increase circulation. Damn that sex, it ruins everything!

I think that adventure, woman, and romance are all part of the cruising dream - and reality. Since it's incumbent upon Latitude to cover all aspects of sailing, I hope to see more of them.

Bob Clark
Southern Run, Wauquiez 43
2001 Baja Ha-Ha Alumni

Readers - Perhaps we've spent too much time sailing in the French Islands where it's common for women to wear little or nothing on boats, beaches, and even at lunch, but we can't get over what we feel is the ridiculous overreaction to August's perfectly innocent cover. In fact, what really pisses us off is that anybody could mistake it as an intentional attempt by us to create a sexy cover. If we wanted to do sexy, we could have done much better than that - and we intend to prove it. So if you're an attractive and fit young woman with an exhibitionist streak who would enjoy being tastefully sexy on the February cover of Latitude, email Richard. Because as Bonnie Raitt used to sing, "Let's give 'em something to talk about."

Only a couple of hours after we ran the above response in 'Lectronic, we got the following email from a very tall, attractive, and shapely woman - who just happens to be blonde - who wrote, "I'll give 'em something to talk about! You can count on my support - wire-cup or padded - if you ever need it for your cover. People are too persnickety and I wouldn't want sailing to get a rap for being uptight!"

The next day we got an email and letter from another lovely woman who, despite looking very feminine, truly has 'abs of steel'. She'd make a lovely cover model also.

Then Christine Watson of the East Coast sent a picture of herself, starkers, behind the wheel of her boat, and wrote: "People are so darned uptight about the stupidest stuff. Even as a strong feminist, it never occurred to me to be offended by the August cover of Latitude. After hearing all the hoopla, I looked at it again, and all it did was remind me how much I miss being at the helm of my own boat on a balmy summer day. By the way, nobody mentioned the fact that there is a guy in the picture as well, wearing less than the girl, and he's sitting in a rather suggestive position to boot. The attached photo was taken in the Intercoastal Waterway somewhere in North Carolina during the third week of November. Two days later I was wearing a hat, coat, gloves, boots, long underwear - and was still freezing! But on that particular day, the temps rose into the 70s, and I began to get more in tune with the natural method of sailing my boat. After a while, my crew and I passed a boat headed in the opposite direction, with two women at the helm, wearing coats, hats and gloves. They remained frozen in place, only their heads swiveling around to stare at me as I passed. They had incredulous expressions - as if I were the one who was crazy!"

Then we got perhaps the most interesting letter. "I'm not the one for the sexy cover of Latitude, but I praise you for keeping life real. My husband would love me on the cover, but I prefer to keep myself for him. Nonetheless, don't let the judgmental folks make us all drones of the false and hippocritical moraes."

We've received several other applications also. We don't want to exclude any potential cover girls, so the offer is still open: Again, if you're an attractive and shapely woman with a sense of humor and an exhibitionist streak who would enjoy being featured tastefully on a sexy cover of the February Latitude, email Richard with a couple of photos.


Just a quick correction to one of the items in 'Lectronic Latitude. Yes, Dennis Conner is the new Etchells 22 North American champion. However, the event was not sailed off Marina del Rey, but rather hosted by the Alamitos Bay YC in Long Beach and sailed outside the Los Angeles / Long Beach federal breakwater. By the way, this is near where Conner's Stars & Stripes America's Cup effort for the New York YC has been training - and where their new boat recently had an 'accidental grounding' - in about 30 feet of water.

The folks at Alamitos Bay hosted a fine event and should be congratulated for their continuing support of high quality one-design sailing. Note that the next big event for them is the Snipe Western Hemisphere Championships.

Wayne Rodgers
Southern California

Wayne - Our apologies to the Alamitos Bay YC, as we indeed incorrectly reported that the event took place off Marina del Rey. Our mind was on the recent Nautica Star World Championships, which had been held there.

When reading 'Lectronic, everybody needs to remember that it's hastily put together each morning in order to be as timely as possible, so there is always a chance of errors in spelling, syntax, and grammar. However, we usually get the important facts right.


In your September coverage of the recent Nautica Star World Championships, you mentioned that Dennis Conner had won the Star Class before winning the America's Cup. He not only won the Worlds, but he did it with five bullets. In the September edition of Sail, Dennis is quoted as saying, "Anyone can win the America's Cup, but no one's going to win five of five races in a Star Worlds. Eighty-seven boats. It's the number-one single hardest thing to do." In 1977, Dennis did win every race, not counting the throw-out. How many people know that his crew was Ron Anderson - owner of Anderson's Boat Yard in Sausalito? Ron has dipped his feet into sailing again by purchasing a J/105 and competing in several regattas.

About a year ago we spoke on the phone about the Kennex 445 we own in the British Virgins, and the trouble we were having with charters and the company that was managing her. So we've been going 'round and 'round wondering what to do with Whisper. Your article about the Seiberts - who are having their Kennex 445 brought by ship from the East Coast to the West Coast - couldn't have been more perfectly timed. I sent them an email this morning to get the particulars about shipping our cat with Dockwise.

Since we're in that part of the world, I should report that mutual friends Bob and Denise Carson - who raced on Big O a number of years ago in Antigua - send their regards. In addition to selling and managing boats through Southern Trades and shaping surfboards, they just bought a really cool place just up the point above Tortola's Cane Garden Bay. They can see the entrance break to Bomba's.

Jim Robinson
Whisper, Kennex 445
Tortola / Northern California


With great weather and personal fanfare, we cast off from our Oakland end-tie, sailed under the Gate, and turned left. We later waved hello to my son in his lifeguard station, and decided to dock in Santa Cruz Harbor since one of the things we still had to do was mark 50-foot increments on our anchor chain. Ray Kytle, our friend and mate, suggested that we eye-splice a piece of three-strand anchor line to the bitter end of the chain and then to the pad-eye in the chain locker. The purpose, as most sailors know, is to provide some shock absorption in the case our chain accidentally ran all the way out, thereby preventing the pad-eye from being ripped out of the boat, and saving 250 feet of chain and a CQR from permanently ending up on the bottom.

We realize that any mariner worth his or her salt should know how to splice lines, however, despite all our combined experience, we had never needed to whip a line or create an eye splice. Until now. So out came the knot book. It didn't look too hard, but it was a bit confusing, and we didn't want the eye-splices to fail. We made several inquiries for help, but they didn't pan out. Fisherman splice line all the time for their crab pots, but they were either fishing or had the flu. While checking in at the Santa Cruz Harbor Office, we asked if anyone happened to know how to splice. "Alex Prince knows," answered Deputy Harbormaster Steve Redfield. Deputy Prince appeared from the back office. "Where's your boat?" he asked.

An hour later both Alex and Steve showed up at our boat. We produced the project and told him we wanted to watch and learn. Alex did a wonderful job of both creating neat eye-splices and taking us through the steps. We offered a remittance, but he refused. We were both amazed that the Santa Cruz Harbor Patrol would go so far beyond their call of duty. Our anchor chain is secure now, and we consider this another good omen as we continue our journey down to San Diego for the start of the Ha-Ha.

Donna Wilson and Kermit Black
Pura Vida, Explorer 45

Donna & Kermit - We're impressed with the Santa Cruz Harbor Patrol's willingness to go beyond the letter of their job description. It's an attitude that engenders lots of friends and goodwill.


I've just booked a Mooring 4500 cat for a 10-day charter next Easter out of La Paz. It will be my first visit to the Sea of Cortez. Looking at the chart and guidebook, all of a sudden 10 days seems like a very short time. How about an article on suggested itineraries for bareboat charters from La Paz?

Michael Slater
Sebastopol / Sausalito

Michael - When cruising north from the La Paz charter base, you stay in a pretty narrow band, even if you go the entire 140 miles to the Puerto Escondido area. So it's not so much a matter of which places to visit, but how many you get to see and what order you see them in. We are, however, expecting to have an article on cruising the Sea of Cortez in a few months, and will touch on most of the places that you're likely to visit.

While it would be easy to spend an entire spring or fall in the Sea of Cortez, 10 days should give you enough time for an excellent introduction. On the assumption that there will be plenty of other folks with you, the Moorings 4500 cat should be an excellent cruising platform. Easter falls on March 31, so you've picked an excellent time of year, as the air temperature should be plenty warm but not overwhelming, and the water temperature should once again be warm enough for comfortable swimming. As such, you've got some fantastic cruising to look forward to - as long as you're not expecting towns, bright lights, restaurants and bars.


This may be an odd request, but I would very much like to get a large copy, suitable for framing, of the terrific photo of what appears to be a Hobie Miracle 20 flying a chute with the skipper on the trapeze. It appeared on page 115 of the September issue. What beautiful form - I always show pictures like that to my crew to show the right way to trim a cat. These guys really are ready for the Worrell 1,000! Is there a way to get a digital copy so I can get it enlarged or a print?

Frank Jesse

Frank - There's nothing odd about your request, as readers buy photos from us all the time. The one you're referring to was taken with a high resolution Nikon D-1 digital camera, so we can just send you the file. Contact Annie, our photo guru, at (415) 383-8200, ext. 106 or email her.


Earlier this year I read that Latitude was going to set up a photoboat somewhere on the Bay and take photos of all the boats that came by. Then boatowners would later be able to get photos. Did I miss the day, or has it not yet happened?

Mike Rogers

Mike - It hasn't happened, and unfortunately won't happen this year. We simply ran out of time. There are a number of sailing photographers around, however, and we're sure that you could work something out with them.


The strange vessel Jonathan Hunt saw and inquired about in the August 21 edition of 'Lectronic Latitude could have been the 323-ft by 88-ft Australian-built HSV-X1 doing her service speed of 40 knots. The rooster tail from the four 10,000 horsepower Cat diesels driving waterjets can be 30 feet high and 100 feet long. The HSV-X1 recently completed an around-the-world mission with time in the Arabian Gulf.

Although large wave-piercing catamaran technology has come to dominate international fast ferry routes over the past 15 years - even replacing the last English Channel hovercraft - it does not exist in the United States. These ships are impressive, as they can carry up to 900 passengers and 270 vehicles. Wave piercer catamarans combine superior economics, weight-carrying capacity, reliability, and seakeeping versus hovercraft and other more traditional ships.

There are actually two technologies the U.S. lacks to build these ships: one is the wave-piercing hull forms, pioneered by Incat, a Tasmanian firm. The second is the metal cutting, forming, and welding technology needed to form 80mm - over 3-inch-thick - aircraft grade aluminum alloy sheet into the world's largest welded structures. Don't try this at home. Bollinger Shipyards in Louisiana has licensed Incat technology, but it takes many millions in investment and substantial time to construct the sophisticated 'metal bashing' equipment and capabilities. This is why our military now operates two second-hand Australian ferry boats. In addition to the HSV-X1, there is also the 330-foot Austral, which is under long term charter to the U.S. military for logistical support out of Okinawa.

As for the situation at the Ala Wai Marina in Honolulu, slip costs will apparently almost double under the privatization plan. Some opposition to privatization disappeared when the state announced that the doubling of slip fees would cover the cost of rebuilding the marina and getting it to break even. For the past few decades, taxpayers have been heavily subsidizing the marina.

The other big marina in Hawaii is the relatively new Ko Olina Marina down by Barber's Point, Oahu. It's drop dead gorgeous. When is the last time you were in a marina with a lava rock shower that had gold taps? In addition to being able to handle megayachts, it's also adding 170 slips and has recently organized a yacht club. On the less positive side, Ko Olina prices aren't cheap, and it's on the leeward corner of Oahu, which means it's typically a serious 20-mile beat to get up to Waikiki, and/or a looooong day or more to get around to Kaneohe Bay. It's also a 30 to 90-minute drive from where most people live on Oahu, depending on how bad traffic is on the H-1. (Yes, the dirty little secret of 'paradise' is that it has worse traffic jams than 101.) But the Ko Olina is close to Makaha, which has better surfing in the winter - although tourist authorities and guidebooks advise not parking rental cars at 'Waianae side' beaches due to the high rate of break-ins and thefts. Nonetheless, we have always found the natives to be friendly.

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


We at Incat, builders of HSV-X1, are delighted at the response the craft has received during this latest stage of her deployment with the U.S. military. There is no doubt that the abilities of HSV-X1 has turned many heads, and we look forward to seeing more HSVs in U.S. service in the future. Jonathan Hunt's What The Heck? report on our ship in the August 21 'Lectronic Latitude had been brought to my attention. With your permission, we're going to include the above titled report on our website. We will of course give full acknowledgment to 'Lectronic Latitude, and also include a link to your site. We in Tasmania would like to thank you for the coverage you have given to the craft.

Justin Merrigan
Public Affairs Officer, Incat Group
Hobart, Tasmania/Australia

Readers - Naturally, we gave Merrigan permission for Incat to use the item. We also asked the Public Affairs Officer to comment on a report from Richard and Sheri Crowe, who skippered Alaska Eagle to Tasmania not long ago for Orange Coast College, that the head guy of Incat had run one of the huge catamarans on the rocks during a sea trial. Here's the response we got:

"Chairman Robert Clifford is captain on all new Incat vessels undergoing sea trials. I have to say I have never before seen him described as in your email, but I will concede he is somewhat unconventional! The craft concerned was hull number 034, Condor 11, and the year was 1994. The accident really did illustrate just how well built Incat vessels are. After sitting on the reef for six weeks, Condor 11 was finally pulled clear and returned to the yard for repairs. The structural integrity of the craft and the inherent safety features of the design were proved beyond any doubt. That a ship could withstand such treatment with minimum damage impressed the shipping industry to no end. Today we are up to hull 060 and Robert can still be found at the helm of each new vessel constructed."


Bill Healy, who had a letter in the September issue, was walking through my marina a few days ago, and remembered being on my boat in Mexico 25 years ago. So we spent two hours talking about mutual acquaintances we have met in far-flung places. Healy has been cruising continuously for 23 years, with flights home about every five years. His boat is currently at the Pedro Miguel Boat Club inside the Panama Canal, and he's about to sail down through Ecuador. I don't know how much longer it will take him to complete his circumnavigation, but unless he has already done that and didn't mention it, he may soon set the record for the slowest continuous circumnavigation.

Although I'm in my late 70s, I'm getting that ocean itch again, so we'll be heading south to Mexico again this winter. We're going to break it up so we only have one overnight on each passage, so we're not going to be able to keep up with you folks in the Ha-Ha. This time we'll spend our time on the Baja side, as the mainland is a little hot and muggy for our taste.

Ernie Copp
Orient Star, Cheoy Lee 50
Long Beach

Ernie - We know several couples who took almost 20 years to do a circumnavigation, but 23 and still counting might well be a record. Does anyone know of a longer one?

We hope you have a wonderful cruise this winter. In consideration of your many years of cruising and previous participation in the Ha-Ha, Lauren Spindler, the Ha-Ha's Head Honcho, tells us that she's making you an honorary member of the 2002 fleet. She hopes that you cross paths with Profligate this fall so you can be presented with all the normal Ha-Ha swag.


In the September issue the question was posed whether automotive-type radar detectors could detect ships. The answer is an unqualified maybe.

The problem is with the operating frequencies. Higher quality automotive-type detectors are tuned to those type of radars, which operate in a different frequency range and different mode than radars found on ships. The higher quality devices probably won't work as well as ship detectors.

Lower quality automotive detectors are simply broadband detectors, and will respond to just about anything - even your own radar - over a broad range of frequencies and modes. Because they are broadband, they are also wide open to noise, and have a hard time telling the difference between a radar signal and just random noise. In order to reduce the number of false alarms, the detection threshold is therefore set rather high. The result is that they don't detect until they get a very strong signal.

The other problem is that automotive-type detectors are non-directional. Even if we assume they infallibly detect, one can't tell where the signal is coming from. That may not be a probem far offshore - at least you might know someone is around. Close inshore there are so many radars banging away that the detector would be in constant motion.

My opinion is that using such automotive-type detectors could give a false sense of security. If they did detect, it would probably be too late to react, or conversely, they would detect so much they would be ignored - like the proverbial cry of 'wolf'.

Having 'been there', I can assure you that I wouldn't trust my boat or my life to gadgets. There's no substitute for a good pair of eyes!

Tom Daggett
Sandpiper, Catalina 42 Mk II
San Pedro

Tom - And when it's foggy, there's no substitute for a good radar. Early last month we had to pass in front of the ports of L.A. and Long Beach during a thick fog, and with all the horns going off, we would have jumped out of our skins without radar. Sometimes we couldn't see very large ships until we were less than 250 feet away. Reliable radar and GPS, what greater blessings could mariners have wished for?


I just read the September letter by Jon Jones about his confrontation with the sheriff in the Delta who claimed that it was illegal to sit on the tubes of an inflatable. It seems as though one piece of 'jail house lawyering' deserves another!

Since Officer Dugger bases his objection on subsection a) of Section 655 of the Harbors and Navigation Code, and since Jones and his kids were not riding on the transom. Officer Dugger must have been objecting to their riding on the gunwale. What is a gunwale? After checking the following references - Chapman, Piloting, Seamanship and Small Boat Handling, 2) Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, 3) Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary, International Edition, 4) Royce's, Sailing Illustrated, 5) Roland Denk, The Complete Sailing Handbook - gunwale is consistently defined as where the top plank of the hull where the deck meets the hull. The name derives from the old sailing ships, where muskets were set on the top plank of the hull to steady them - thus the gun plank (wale), which became gunwale.

It seems that Officer Dugger has not only stretched the point of the law, but also 'skinned his ignorance'. At exactly what point would he say that the deck meets the hull of an inflatable, thereby defining the gunwale.

I don't know about the rest of Latitude readers, but I drive my inflatable on the starboard deck - not the floorboards - so therefore the law doesn't apply to me.

P.S. Great magazine - I read it cover-to-cover every month, then pass it on to others!

Tom Daggett
Sandpiper, Catalina 42 Mk II
San Pedro

Tom - Historically, one of the biggest sources of friction between law enforcement and mariners is when officers don't have any boating experience or knowledge. We suspect that's the case with Officer Dugger.


Virginia, my wife, and I have been doing the 'six months of cruising, six months back home' routine. Right now we're home in Modesto building up the 'boat units' and 'book units', the latter for our daughter's tuition to UC Santa Barbara - parteeeee!

Anyway, in the middle of the hot summer here in the Central Valley, I began reading the books of Tristan Jones for the first time. Amazing! I had to reserve Ice, as I guess other people had the same idea for cooling down as I did. In any event, it was great reading, and he began several of the chapters of his various books with sea chanties of one sort or the other, often very risque ones. Virginia just loved it when I'd read them to her. Do these qualify as poetry?

Cap't Rob and Virginia Gleser
Harmony, Islander Freeport 40
Alameda / San Carlos, Mexico

Cap't Rob - Yes, those risque sea chanties that your wife loves so much would qualify as poetry - and would therefore be banned from the pages of Latitude. It doesn't surprise us that Jones would include them in his books, for when we knew him he was quite the lecherous fellow - even though he was no longer in the best of health.

By the way, we attended UCSB during the mid-'60s, and between surfing at Campus Point, burning down the Bank of America Branch at Isla Vista, critiquing actor Michael Douglas in student plays, and attending a few classes, we managed to party as much as the next student. However, you might caution your daughter that things have changed at the party-by-the-sea university, as it's apparently become much more of an academic challenge.


In the September issue, the Kettels wrote to ask if anyone knew where to get a video of the movie Lucky Lady, in which their previous boat had been featured. I couldn't find a video anywhere, although I did find a 16mm copy for sale on Ebay. I'm sure it could be converted to tape for a pretty reasonable price. They'll find the film at [Webmistress's note: When we checked this link, the page 'could not be found'.]

Steve Dyrdahl
San Diego


Sometime in 2001, somebody wrote in asking about boat partnerships. In your erudite answer, you said that Latitude has previously published a sample contract, but you couldn't remember when. My question is did you ever find it? I would very much like to get a copy.

I ask because my 20-year-old son has a 23-ft sailboat that he sailed through Turkey and Greece, but can't quite afford on his own. But he has several potential partners willing to buy one-third shares. (He was disappointed to learn that there could only be three one-third partners in any deal.)

Chris Geankoplis
Medford, Oregon

Chris - We couldn't find the partnership agreement that we'd run before, so we suggest that you contact Nolo Press, because they specialize in that kind of thing. One caution, though: partnerships between folks who are young and short of cash often turn out badly. You might suggest that your son take six months off and bust his butt working so he can remain the sole owner.


I thought the readers might like to hear about our dismasting on the Bay.

We - Darrel Jones and myself - headed out of Richmond on the morning of August 29 aboard the chartered Newport 30 Chocolate Float intending to watch the Tall Ships Parade. Conditions were lively, with a big chop. By the time we approached Raccoon Straits, we were overpowered, so we made for the lee of Angel Island to get some shelter. While on a close reach, we proceeded to put a reef in the main. The wind was still howling behind the island, but the chop wasn't quite as bad. When we began to furl some of the jib, there was suddenly a loud bang and the mast fell into the water! The bang came from the backstay parting. Although the mast went over the side, it was still intact, and the boom was still aboard the boat.

Fortunately, the mast angled away from the boat, keeping the spreaders from holing the boat. My thanks to the large sloop - I didn't get their names in all the excitement - that stood by and offered us a tow. I declined the tow, fearful that the mast might become unstable. I didn't think our situation was dire enough to issue a mayday, but the other boat did.

The first thing Darrel and I did was haul the main aboard and get it secured to the boom. A few minutes later, the Coasties showed up in a motor lifeboat and put two of their men aboard to help. They weren't much help clearing the rigging, but four more strong arms were great for the final heave to bring the mast back aboard.

By this time we were rolling heavily on the swell and rapidly drifting down on the Southampton Shoal platform. Hustling, we got the jib and all the lines aboard, and started the engine just in time. Then the MLB came by, and after several attempts were able to retrieve their crew. Motoring back to Richmond was uneventful.

Later on we visited to see what the winds had been. According to that site, one gust at Crissy Field at 12:15 - about the time our mast came down - that went off the scale of 50 mph. Angel Island recorded an average of 40 mph from noon until about 2 p.m.

Overall, I think we were quite lucky, as we sustained only skinned knuckles, and the boat had only two slightly bent stanchions. There didn't appear to be damage to either the sails or mast. But we did miss the Tall Ships. We were glad to have the Coast Guard around, for if the spreaders had punched a hole in the hull, we would have needed them in a hurry. Thanks guys!

Mike Miller
Glen Ellen

Readers - Unsure of when to broadcast a mayday - or one of the other two radio alerts? See this month's Sightings.


Dang, I always thought the reason that Mollie Stone's was soooooooo expensive was that she had visited Cabo San Lucas and stumbled across Aramburo's or Mercado Sanliz. Read me lips matey: $5.73 U.S. for a quart jar of Best Foods Mayonnaise in the Sanliz. Or how about $6.11 for a small box of Post Raisin Bran in Aramburo's. Just because most Mexicans hate pepinos eschebeches (pickles) doesn't explain $4.20 for a small jar of dill spears. Both stores sell fuerte avocados for a dollar each. They charge these prices because they can get away with them. "Hell, we're in Mexico, whaddaya expect?" roars a semi-inebriated captain of a yacht with more square footage than my house. He then peels off a thin stack of 500 peso notes to pay for a small cart of groceries.

But on the other side of Cabo, down a dirt street just a stone's throw from the old Faro Viejo Trailer Park, is the other Sanliz market, the one where the Mexicans go to shop. But even that's not the least expensive. When I lived in Cabo, I found that I could save money by shopping in La Paz - a 200-mile trip.

As is the case in Mexico, there are several tiers of markets in the United States. I shop at Henry's Marketplace for fruits and veggies, and shop using grocery cards at Ralph's and Von's. About the only thing that's cheaper in Mexico than the United States these days is rent, fruits and vegetables, and labor.

I feel more than sorry for the Mexicans, especially the poor ones in the interior or way down south. Can you imagine paying one-quarter of a day's salary for a Coke? Or half a day's wage for a gallon of gasoline?

David Eidell
La Manzanilla, Jalisco

David - Bicycle riding can also be cheaper in Mexico. Having ridden our mountain bike at Catalina for a week, we later learned that we were supposed to have bought a permit for $50. It doesn't matter if you ride for 10 minutes or 10 days, the permit is $50! For once, we broke the law and we won.


My letter is in response to Michael Sutherland and Jennie Cobell's letter in the August Latitude, in which they claimed that food costs more in Mexico than in the United States.

First of all, each of the towns listed in their letter about where they recorded food prices is a town more heavily populated with, and visited by, North American expats, retirees and tourists than Mexicans. They don't live on the local economy and don't 'eat what the Mexicans eat.' Furthermore, almost every item mentioned in their letter is imported, and probably even the bread and cooking oil was foreign made. Only a very small segment of the Mexican population - even on the mainland - can afford to buy imported products or shop in the supermercado - which means those stores can't sell the volume that a Safeway can, and therefore must pay (and charge) a higher price for them. These stores were created for the very small and elite middle and upper classes. The tourist takes them for granted.

I'm sure if Michael and Jennie were Mexican, were fortunate enough to own a store in any of the towns they mention, and watched thousands of well-dressed, well-fed, healthy U.S. citizens come to their town via airplane, late model car or private yacht year after year, knowing they were going to spend at least a few weeks, if not a few months or years, vacationing/cruising - with all that usually entails, meaning eating and drinking lots of expensive (to them) food/beer/liquor - they too would charge the highest price these goods can command. They don't care what it costs you to buy these products back in your home town. Why should they? If you don't like the prices, stay home and shop.

Instead of complaining about how much it costs them to consume imported products in Mexico, Michael and Jennie should forego the potato chips, bacon, salami, "American ham," and peanut butter - or bring it from home where they can buy it cheaper - and start buying and eating in the local markets, where the overwhelming majority of Mexicans (the indigenous, the working class and the poor) shop. The markets would love to have the business, they'd meet the average 'Jose onthestreet', and they'd learn a lot. In fact, they'd discover the 'real Mexico'. They might also start reading some history and economics - bone up on NAFTA and globalization - to understand just why it is that we Americans have so much and the Mexicans have so little. And why the gulf continues to grow wider.

Roxann Daily


The answer to the Tylers' question about regulations for U.S. boats in Europe is not as simple as the response from the Zupans suggests. One reason is that the European Union is still at the 'Articles of Confederation' stage - the equivalent of our 'Philadelphia Convention' - which is now going on in Brussels. It just so happens that Brussels is the capital of the European Union - and my hometown.

There are three aspects to the Tylers' question: boats, people, and 'in transit' imports.

Boats - The Tylers indicated they intended to buy a boat in Europe. In that case, VAT (Value Added Tax) has to be paid upon purchasing a boat in Europe. However, this VAT can be refunded upon proving export to a non-EU country - provided that it's done in a reasonable amount of time. If, however, the Tylers come from the U.S. to the EU on their own boat, their best bet would be to pay the VAT on their boat at Horta in the Azores, which has a lower VAT rate than continental Portugal and the other EU countries. I was told that a good agent there could 'negotiate' the value on which the tax was calculated. Having once paid the VAT, there would be no restriction on the time they could spend in EU waters.

People - In 1995, five EU countries signed the 'Schengen agreement' suppressing border controls between themselves. Others have since joined, so now there is no more control on people traveling between Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. In principle, the stay of non-EU residents is limited to 90 days in a six-month period, but an extension could easily be obtained at the nearest Foreigners Office.

(You may wonder what the hell Iceland and Norway, who are not members of the EU, are doing in this list of countries that have eliminated border controls. The Nordic countries had a border free-passage agreement before the creation of the EU, and it remains in place. Besides, we don't expect all that many Icelandic or Norwegian terrorists).

In transit import - It's possible to get one of these, provided that you can clearly demonstrate that you are going to leave the territory of the EU, not just going from one country to another - just as you couldn't obtain it here if you were going from California to Oregon. It would be simpler to get your 'in transit' stuff in places like Gibraltar or Malta, although I'm not familiar with the red tape in these two places.

On a completely different tack, I wonder why Capt. Earl put out a mayday after his boat was dismasted. The correct thing to do would have been to issue a 'Pan'. The Coast Guard and the nautical media don't seem to insist enough on the three degrees of emergency: 'Sécurité', 'Pan' and 'Mayday'.

John Somerhausen
Pampero IV, Columbia 8.7
New York

John - We're not experts, but when it comes to avoiding paying VAT in European Union countries, we understand the most common practice is to briefly take the boat to a non-EU country. The most popular seem to be Gibraltar, Malta, Turkey and Tunisia. We don't know of anybody who has sailed their boat from the United States to Europe who actually paid VAT.

You're correct, there are three specific terms to be used for different levels of emergency. Maydays should be reserved for immediate life-threatening distress - such as your boat rapidly sinking or somebody having fallen overboard at night. Pan-Pan - pronounced 'pon-pon' - is to be used when there is an emergency that is not quite so urgent. Perhaps a vessel at sea has lost its steering or someone has taken quite ill. Sécurité is to warn of things like the approach of bad weather or that an important navigation light is out. In other words, the three levels are for going to die really soon, could develop into a situation where somebody might die, and something is coming up that might create a situation where somebody's life might come into danger.


I recently heard from a sailing friend in Florida that the U.S. government has begun a push to prosecute several thousand Americans who have sailed to Cuba during the past couple of years. Do you know if there is any truth to this?

Jay Marlow
Citrus Heights

Jay - There is some truth to it. During the Clinton Administration, the government just looked the other way. The Bush Administration - we think counterproductively - has decided to get hard-ass about it. They've apparently sent notices to thousands of people who sailed to Cuba, asking them to somehow prove that they didn't spend any money to get there or while there. The last we heard, hardly anybody was offering proof or paying the fines, and that it was all sort of in limbo.

This would not prevent us from taking our boat to Cuba again, as we would carefully create a paper trail to best document how we were making the trip without spending any money there. Americans, as you probably know, aren't prohibited from travelling to Cuba, however, spending money to get there or while there is considered "trading with the enemy," which is a crime. The problem with the paper trail, of course, is that it's hard to prove a negative.


You have been 'selling' cats for years now, but it was your "anything that a trawler can do, a cat can do better" response to a letter in the last issue that finally sold me.

My question is how do you decide on which cat. As I seem to remember, you said that a cat needs to be 40-feet or more for safe ocean passages. Can you please suggest a make and model? Is there a good book or article somewhere that is not a sales pitch for a designer or manufacturer?

I think a 'great trawler cat' needs:

· good sailing and safety features

· a great galley

· at least one extra suite for guests

· a large cockpit and large table for many guests

· an office

I would appreciate your thoughts.

P.S. Thanks for all the years of providing a great social event every month. The covers even get better; August was outstanding!

Dick York
Northern California

Dick - Chris White's The Cruising Multihull covers all the basics, although we feel it's becoming a little bit dated. In it, White notes that he and most other multihull designers believe that 40 feet is pretty much the minimum size for offshore sailing. There are plenty of exceptions, of course. Michael Beattie and Layne Goldman sailed their 34-ft Miki G from Santa Cruz to Panama and up to Florida. And the Winship family regularly write in from the Crowther 33 Chewbacca, on which they've been cruising for two years. But we personally aren't going offshore in anything less than 40 feet.

Trying to pick out a cat for somebody else, is like trying to find them a wife - doomed to failure. Generally speaking, however, our priorites would be maximum length and bridgedeck clearance, and minimum weight. That's for an offshore performance boat. If maximum performance isn't that critical, and the boat will only be used in the Bay, Southern California and Mexico, length, weight, and bridgedeck clearance aren't quite as critical. For maximum maneuverability and redundancy, you'll want a cat with two diesels, which should allow the boat to cruise at eight knots or more. The boat should be able to be driven from inside, even if by using the autopilot.

If you're really serious about a cat, you should probably fly to either St. Martin or the British Virgins to walk the docks and see what appeals to you.

The bad news is that even production cats were never cheap. The good news is that there are now enough used ones that the prices have dropped significantly. For example, for $150,000 to $200,000 you should be able to find a good 42 to 45-footer - which has the same space as about a 60-foot monohull.

By the way, when we say "a sailing cat can do anything a trawler can, and better," we really mean it. Except look good. There are lots of aesthetically pleasing trawlers, but not many handsome cats. It's the nature of the beast.


I disagree with your response to Barry Johnson's letter, in which he said he would be willing to boycott Mexico if it helped solve the clearing in and out process. Irrespective of whether Mexico's regulations are a consequence of ignorance or animosity, the fact remains that nothing will change unless the country sees a drop-off, or the real threat of a drop-off, in the number of boats cruising their waters. When the Mexican authorities see yet another fleet of a couple of hundred Ha-Ha boats organizing for their sojourn, it only serves to reinforce their notion that nothing's wrong. You guys represent the biggest and most visible mass of cruisers, so it only tends to follow that the Ha-Ha event is the biggest culprit in the status quo of this whole mess being preserved. Call it off! Send the Mexican government a message, and send it now. If things change for the better, call it back on again. Otherwise, let individual boaters decide for themselves, at least for the upcoming season.

My wife and I cruised Mexico in '96, '98 and '00, and the thought of once again putting up with what we encountered during our last trip - especially on the mainland - is off-putting to say the least. The absurdity of Chacala - a safe anchorage for maybe five boats - being called a port while Turtle Bay is not is incomprehensible. I spent some time chatting with Victor, a well-known ships' agent in Cabo San Lucas, and he simply shook his head in agony over the situation. Worse, he indicated that Mexican Immigration is now seriously considering duplicating the Capitania de Puerto's clearance process by also collecting fees at each port. Can you imagine four separate visits to Banamex at each port?

John Rainey
Huntington Beach

John - We can't call off the Ha-Ha because it's an entirely separate company that has been completely independent of Latitude for a number of years. But here's what Lauren Spindler, the Ha-Ha Honcho, had to say in response to your call for a boycott:

"You greatly overestimate the number of boats in the Ha-Ha, as there have never been more than 106. The Mexican government hardly knows that the event exists, because there are no port captains at our first two stops of Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria. By the time we get to Cabo, our boats are a drop in the bucket compared to the sportfishing fleet, and our participants barely noticeable among the hordes of regular tourists. A Ha-Ha boycott wouldn't work because the object of the boycott has to be aware that there is one. If you want to do something that would have some impact - albeit still not a very great one - I suggest that you convince everyone who currently has a boat in Mexico to remove it from that country. But I don't think you'd have much luck, because even with the high fees and cumbersome procedures, most cruisers feel that Mexico is still a very good deal."

Well put, Lauren. We would add that anyone who thinks that a small group of comparatively rich gringos can force the Mexican government to change some policy through a boycott doesn't have a very good understanding of Mexican culture. If we're patient and respectful, we gringos might be able to work with them to improve things, but we're not going to get anywhere by putting a fiscal BB gun to their collective heads. They'd just have a hearty laugh, insist that we pull the trigger, and then take us out for cervezas. Trying to out-macho Mexicans just wouldn't be smart.

For what it's worth, before the end of the Ha-Ha, the Grand Poobah plans to get the expected 350-400 participants to sign a petition respectively asking Mexico's Department of Tourism to look into the possibility of changing the current system. For it's only by convincing the Mexican government that it's in their best interest to change the current system that we'll be able to get anywhere.


A friend sent me a copy of John Vigor's piece about de-naming a boat - and just in time.

I bought my boat about four months ago and didn't give any thought to changing her name. Three months ago, the jib sheets parted. Two months ago my starter burned up. Last month my boat tangoed with another during a tropical storm and traded some rigging. And as I was returning to the dock last week, my prop got fouled on some three-strand line. While reaching for a heaving line thrown by a helpful bystander, the VHF antenna on my stern pulpit tried to puncture my brain via my nose! As my friend Charlie later said, "Dennis, you couldn't have done that on purpose in a million years."

I think it's definitely time to get in touch with the gods of the seas and make amends. I've got a genuine Celtic priest laid on to perform the appropriate ceremony, and in keeping with the Celtic theme, a bottle of Jameson standing by.

Dennis Lindemann
Yokosuka, Japan


As cruisers in California are getting ready to head south to Mexico, many of them wonder about the best kind of gifts they can bring or donations they can make to help the less fortunate folks south of the border.

I personally prefer that Mexican kids not be handed a bunch of candy - although they certainly like it. Sugar is cheaper than dirt in Mexico, and as it is, the kids get a lot of heavily sweetened drinks, candy, cereal, milk, and so forth. I think it's better to give the kids more useful things such as pencils, paper - even discarded computer paper - crayons, small toys, used clothes, and toothbrushes. If anyone has quite a bit of stuff and are stopping at a place that has a school, leave appropriate stuff with the teacher, as he or she will be delighted. If anyone has any medical stuff, give it to the nurse at the clinic. Whatever you do, please just don't hand out money. (By the way, foreign coins have no value in Mexico.)

If anyone is coming to La Paz and doesn't know where to make a donation, here's a description of one that I like: Three years ago, the non-profit La Fundacion Para Los Ninos de La Paz, A.C. began to support a group of students who otherwise would not be able to proceed beyond elementary school. The support consists of buying uniforms and school supplies at the beginning of the school year. The program began with three students. This year there are 23 students who have started junior high school - which is called Secundaria in Mexico. This increase in scholarships has stretched the budget of the foundation beyond its limits. The foundation is looking for help in raising enough to keep as many of these students in school as long as possible.

Since the uniforms and school supplies have to be purchased for this year, what the students really need is money, on a monthly basis, for transportation to school. Neither the city nor the state provide public transportation for school children, so the students use the peseros which pass through their neighborhood at the very back of town. There is no Secundaria within walking distance of their neighborhood. Each student needs 90 pesos a month, which for the foundation comes to just over $200 for the entire group.

There are many fine charities and causes in Mexico, but any money given to the La Fundacion Para Los Ninos de La Paz will help keep 23 deserving kids in school.

Mary Shroyer
Marina de La Paz
Vancouver, Washington / La Paz


While reading David Helvarg's Blue Frontier: Saving America's Living Seas, which has a short history of the California Coastal Commission and its infamous progeny, the BCDC (Bay Conservation and Development Commission), I came across the following:

". . . as a result of the Corps of Engineers 1959 plan to fill the San Francisco Bay. . . Richardson Bay in Sausalito, where I lived for six years, a sparkling arm of the larger Bay blessed with houseboats, sailboats, egrets, great blue herons, tidal marshes, and occasional barking sea lions chasing herring, would have become an industrial flatland."

Wait a minute! Do you mean to tell me that the birthplace of your august publication was saved by the big, bad BCDC? That's almost like discovering that King Herod rescued little Moses from the bulrushes way back when! Well, almost.

Sam Burns
Grasshopper, Irwin 30
Boulder Creek

Sam - For what it's worth, the BCDC was created in 1965 and the California Coastal Commission was created in 1972, so the latter could not have been the former's progeny.

As for all the past and current 'they want to pave the Bay' claims, there is some exaggeration. According to the BCDC's webpage, the threat of indiscriminate diking and filling of San Francisco Bay had reduced the size of the Bay from 680 square miles in 1850, to 430 square miles in 1960. Much of the San Francisco waterfront, including the Financial District, is, of course Bay fill. By 1959, the federal government published a report on land-use reclamation that revealed of the 430 remaining square miles, it was possible that 325 of them could be developed through fill and diking. What really got people worked up, however, were proposals to build new freeways along the western shore of the Bay, specifically along the Sausalito waterfront and over the Marin Headlands to Bolinas. By 1964, it was estimated that "if the rate of reclamation continued unabated, then the expansive beauty of the Bay would disappear behind dikes or be lost beneath a sea of dirt, sand, and concrete in less than 100 years." To our knowledge, there were never any plans by anyone to even remotely 'pave the Bay' in a literal sense.

As for the apparent assumption that we at Latitude and the BCDC are at loggerheads on all issues, it's not true. Our basic desire is for a big and clean Bay with close to maximum access for the public, and the BCDC's vision is generally the same. Where we have big differences is whether or not boats should be legally considered "Bay fill." The BCDC has to have that definition to have any control over boats. We, on the other hand, say common sense renders the definition preposterous. Another difference is with regard to liveaboards. Under previous BCDC leadership, there was the constant BCDC threat over the heads of most liveaboards and sneakaboards. We thought - and continue to believe - it was none of their business. There haven't been any changes in the law, but under current BCDC administration, for all practical purposes, the BCDC isn't going to object to anyone living aboard. (This is not to say that the marina and local governments might not object.) Finally, there is our belief that the BCDC has sometimes demanded such great concessions prior to permitting the repair of weather-damaged waterfront facilities that it was nothing short of extortion.

Despite these differences, we consider Will Travis, the Executive Director of the BCDC, a friend. If we had a complaint with the agency or agency policy, we have no doubt that he would gladly give a serious listen to our point of view.


Thank you for publishing such a wonderful magazine. For the past 12 years, Latitude has been a household name and piles of back issues decorate my tiny office. When I purchased my first boat, an Islander 36, you were a source of inspiration and guidance. In addition, your informative articles on the San Francisco Bay Area and Delta have inspired some of our best family vacations. For years, I have even read appropriate sections of Latitude to my children as bedtime stories. We have also been following the Wanderer's voyages on Big O, and now on the catamaran Profligate.

This brings me to the point of this letter - which is that you cannot imagine my surprise one July morning when I looked out the front window of my home on Balboa Island to see none other than Profligate doing a 180° turn under power to line up for the fuel dock. I woke up my wife and children, yelling, "You will not believe who is out front!" The vision of your silhouette brought the stories we had been reading about even more to life.

While rowing around the bay a few days later, we glided between the hulls of Profligate and under the bridgedeck, and felt the smooth underside. What a thrill for the kids! Your September articles about Southern California remind us of how special our own stomping grounds can be.

The next time you are in Newport during the summer, check out the Balboa Island YC, a sailing club for kids 4 to 16 - that's run by kids. They sail Lasers and Sabots off the beach in front of Buddy Ebsen's (aka Jed Clampett) house. It is a great junior program.

Thanks once again for the stories that enable us to dream about the sailing life.

P.S. I know the old greeting for Big O was for the entire crew to form circles over their head and shout "Big O! Big O! Big O!" What's the new greeting for Profligate?

The Vitarelli Family
Whisper, Formosa 46
Balboa Island

Vitarelli Family - Trust us, you are far too lavish in your praise - particularly for the Wanderer. Normally, we'd ask you to stop by Profligate anytime you see us moving about on the boat, but now we're afraid because once you meet us the image you've built up will be shattered. Ask anyone who knows us and they'll tell you that we're so 'just regular folks' that it's painful. We suppose we could buy some cool clothes, style our hair, and hire an acting coach to develop a hip persona, but we're just too lazy.

One warning. If you or anyone else rows between the hulls of Profligate, get ready to catch hell from Doña de Mallorca, as it drives her crazy. Despite the best intentions of rowers and kayakers, many of them bang into the side of the boat or doink their heads on the bottom of the aft crossbeam, and things go south from there. It's better to just say 'hello' and get a tour.

Newport Beach is terrific. In fact, you'll find a feature about it in this issue.

The Big O hail was a great one, and was known from one end of the Lesser Antilles to the other. We're almost embarrassed to tell you about the one for Profligate, but here goes. The entire crew stands along one rail in the 'at ease' position. Simultaneously, everybody's torso hops to 'attention' position, while the left arm forms a semicircle to the waist, creating a 'P', and the right hand grabs the crotch a la Michael Jackson. The yell is . . . well, there's the problem, as the three syllable Pro-fli-gate really screws things up. No wonder it hasn't caught on - even with us.

Rants, raves, comments, drink recipes, may be sent to our Editor.

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