Back to "Letters" Index


While reading through the October Latitude, I came across the article and photos about the J/120 fleet action at the St. Francis Big Boat Series. The story also mentioned something about a "South Tower bowmen weenie roast." I know what the South Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge is. I also know about bowmen - and bow women. In addition, I have been to a few weenie roasts in my time. What all three might have in common, however, is a mystery to me - as well as many other people in the J/120 fleet. Could you please clarify?

M.M.W., Mast Dude
Naked Twister, J/120

Mast Dude - Back in the late '80s, the bowmen from several boats climbed to the top of the South Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge, pulled out a cheapo BBQ, and enjoyed a weenie roast - presumably to demonstrate that they were made of sterner stuff than those further back in the boat. When and if you and the modern crop of bowmen decide to repeat this stunt, be advised that we require photographic proof.


Sorry, severe weather fans, but the photo of what was supposedly three waterspouts, as run in 'Lectronic Latitude, has been doctored. The eerie phenomenon depicted did not occur. I confirmed this with Bill Read, Meteorologist-in-Charge at the Houston/Galveston office of the National Weather Service, who says the image is "mostly fake."

Although the doctored photo began circulating by email in early October 2002, just before Hurricane Lili bore down on the Louisiana coastline, in reality the image has no connection with that storm. The original, undoctored photo, which featured only one massive waterspout looming in the distance, was snapped in June 2001 in the Gulf of Mexico by a crewmember of the Edison Chouest Offshore supply boat C-Rambler.

The photo - or an almost identical shot from the same roll - was first published in the Fall 2001 issue of Supply Lines, a corporate newsletter. While it's not unheard of to spot multiple waterspouts or tornadoes in the same general vicinity, another meteorologist explained that the supposed triple waterspout photo struck some scientists as suspicious from the outset because it would be very unusual to see three waterspouts so large emerging so close together - under even the most extreme weather conditions. By the time I contacted them, the National Weather Service employees had already determined it was a hoax.

Scott Keck
Ranger 23, Chaos
San Francisco Bay

Scott - Damn that Photoshop! As with the atom, the power of digital imaging can be used for both good and evil. The photo is indeed a fake, as Miles Barkman directed us to the original at


The photo of the three waterspouts in the October 4 'Lectronic Latitude reminded us that on our way from Los Muertos to Mazatlan following the Ha-Ha last November, we saw two waterspouts just to the north of us. William and Charlotte Johnson, who were also in the Ha-Ha aboard the C&C 39 Camanoe, were also there to see it. Our radar indicated the waterspouts were about eight miles away, and we were able to track their parallel course. It was only blowing 10-12 knots with calm seas where we were, but we were still pretty nervous. We tried to get a photo, but nothing came out.

Donald & Mary Lou Oliver
Cappuccino, Ericson 38
San Ramon


I'm involved in a custody dispute over time with my 3.5-year-old daughter. Her mom wants to be assured that our little girl would be safe without a lifejacket while belowdecks on my Cheoy Lee Lion while at the dock. The parent counselor we see also asked for verification that this would be safe.

I always put a weight appropriate vest on my daughter before entering the marina, and do not remove it until we're in the cabin. I would never leave my daughter unsupervised on deck or be underway without her wearing one. I once saw a young child fall in to the bottom of a swimming pool - to be immediately scooped up by her uncle, and delivered directly into her mother's arms without her knowing what had happened, thank goodness - so needless to say, I'm extremely diligent about safety around our marina.

Is there an official source or highly regarded voice that might give a definitive word that it would be safe for my daughter not to wear a lifejacket belowdecks? I would be grateful for any leads - and so would my daughter, who loves going down to the boat as much as I do.

Tony Solari
Northern California

Tony - You didn't indicate whether your wife is legitimately concerned with your daughter's safety or if she's just trying to make your life as unpleasant as possible. If it's the former, we'd suggest that she, you, and the parent counselor arrange a meeting with a female member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary or Power Squadron to discuss the matter. If it's the latter, get ready for bigger problems than PFDs.

The parents here at Latitude have different policies regarding the wearing of PFDs down below. One of our female staffers does not require that her son wear a lifejacket while below, no matter if at the dock or underway. On the other hand, one of our male staffers requires that his daughters wear lifejackets at all times when on the boat. He believes that it's easier leaving the PFDs on than having to keep putting them on and taking them off. Naturally, there are lots of grey areas. Some children are very cautious, some are reckless. Then there's the question of at what age they shouldn't have to wear a PFD down below. We're not sure there is a cookie cutter solution.

By the way, we were divorced when our children were six and four. Divorce is never good for kids, of course, but we made the best of it for them by never having a significant battle over custody. We sincerely hope that you and your daughter are as fortunate. To that end, we recommend that you go overboard - pardon the pun - trying to work things out with the mother.


I'm not a Burt Reynolds fan, but I am a fan of unusual 'first of a kind' movies - so I have a VHS copy of Lucky Lady, the movie that the Kettel family is looking for. If they still want a copy, they can email me at pattidaum at If memory serves me, the movie was banned in a few places because of the threesome's scenes in bed and in a bubblebath, featuring Lisa, Burt and Gene Hackman. I also recall that Lucky Lady looked really good under sail.

As for myself, I'd like to find an unedited copy of Captain Ron - the one with the complete shower scene.

I've always wanted to thank Latitude for publishing a photo that Pepe of Melissa took of me after I won the bikini contest at Sea of Cortez Sailing Week in '96. The real kick was showing it to my then 23-year-old daughter - and having her male friends ask for autographed copies!

Patti Daum
San Diego


Last month we signed the adoption papers for a St. Bernard/Lab puppy from the Hopalong Animal Rescue in Oakland. Before we did - and became tied to the house with the new addition - we decided to take Blarney4 out to Clipper Cove for a last overnight. After a beautiful evening, we were getting ready to pull up anchor when Chris noticed a group of swimmers followed by a kayaker heading towards our boat to use it as a mark in a fun race. We waited until they had passed to pull up the hook, and watched them head toward a ketch farther out in the anchorage. As we were leaving, we noticed a Yellow Lab barking at the swimmers as they swam away from his boat. Then we watched in horror as the dog tried to jump in the water after them, and ended up being hung by the rope that kept him attached to the boat! We were screaming at the top of our lungs, but the owner wasn't on the boat.

Luckily, Gary, the kayaker, answered our screams. He came alongside our boat and we gave him a knife. By the time he was able to cut the dog loose, she was draped unconscious across his lap. The rope had worked like a noose, and Sandy, the poor dog, was seconds from death. Fortunately, she gradually came to as we towed the kayak over to the marina to try to find the owner. We found a friend of the dog's owner and reluctantly left Sandy with him. If it hadn't been for the fact that the ketch looked reasonably well maintained, we would have taken the dog home. After Gary had filled his swimmer friends in about the accident, he came back to check on Sandy. She knew who her hero was, because she licked his face to death!

I still regret not taking that dog home with us to our half acre backyard and our two boys who are now 12 and 14. She would lead a much better life than tied on a boat. If this story could help save one dog's life, maybe our nightmares would stop. Why do people have dogs on boats? And aren't there better ways to secure them, such as harnesses or PFDs?

Chris, Sheila, Patrick, and Thomas Maher


Is it all right to take cats sailing? In early October, we moved aboard our 36-foot Aventura with our two beloved cats. Neither cat had ever been on a boat before, and other than an unexpected overnighter on a neighbor's boat, there haven't been any problems. But what about taking the cats sailing?

I've read the book about the guy who sailed to Australia with the little kitten who adored catching flying fish while sailing, even with the boat heeled way over. But that cat was practically born on deck, while ours are about 10 years old and accustomed to land. Nevertheless, they are spry, and have been moving around the boat well. We provide them with dry food, wet food, cream, private litter box, pillows, warmth, attention and love. We've seen some confused looks, but there's also been lots of purring and safe exploring. So far so good.

But what about taking the cats sailing? I'm very concerned about them feeling nauseous and being unable to tell us. We sail a lot and are now liveaboards, so this means basically their whole lives may be spent this way in some fashion. I cannot morally do something to an animal - particularly one I know and love - that would cause chronic discomfort. But how will I know? Can anyone who has taken cats sailing reassure me?

In addition, are there some extra safety measures we can take that we may not have thought of? Where are cats put down below when sailing? Do you place them in a bed of pillows and secure it all around, or let them run around the cabin and figure out for themselves how to get around without falling and such? Should food be withheld for a number of hours before sailing. Should cats ever be let on deck while underway? What if the cat falls overboard - which we know happens? Do cats become more used to sailing with time? Is there some clever way to mark your slip, boat or dock box to draw cats back, either by sight or smell, should they become disoriented? Do all the boats look the same to them, or do they come to smell or recognize their own? What about the lack of access to dirt and grass?

We welcome the editors' remarks, as well as e-mails from our fellow sailors at jerickson at

Jennifer Erickson
Marina Bay, Richmond

Jennifer - We've never had a cat aboard, so the only informed comment we can make is that many liveaboard and active cruising boats have been happy homes to cats. In fact, we're quite sure that cats are the most popular boat pet, in part because they are so nimble and self-sufficient. The only thing we don't know is if a minority of them simply aren't suited for the sailing life. Hopefully, we'll hear from our cat-owning readers.


Any leads on bareboat or crewed charters aboard 24 to 30-foot sailboats in Puerto Vallarta over Christmas? All the ones we've seen so far run $100/hour, which is beyond our budget. Is there anyone who keeps their boat in Puerto Vallarta who would be interested in trading hours on our Laguna 30 based in Gashouse Cove?

Phil Ritter
Gashouse Cove

Phil - We're sure there are some small boat cruisers in Puerto Vallarta who would be happy to take you sailing for less than $100/hour, but they can't legally do so without a permit, which is difficult and expensive to get. There's nothing illegal, however, with trading time on your boat here for their boat there. It's a little late, but you might take out a Classy Classified to see if anyone would be interested in a trade. (In fact, we're just launching a new section in the Classies this month called "South of the Border.") By the way, thanks to the wonderful sailing conditions, the thriving sea life, and the warm temperatures, Puerto Vallarta's Banderas Bay is a fabulous place for daysailing.


As we have been longtime cruisers throughout the South Pacific, we have had the opportunity to see many changes take place here. Over the last seven years, we have been noticing a persistent increase in the restrictive laws governing travel by yacht to some of these lovely islands. Initially, we felt this was caused by land-based travelers either entering illegally or overstaying their visas. We're now convinced that we cruisers are really to blame. For example, while in Neiafu, Tonga, we had the chance to chat with a Dutch couple who had arrived four days earlier. As we sat together in the Mermaid Bar, they gleefully explained that they didn't check into Samoa, hadn't checked into Tonga - and didn't have any intention of doing so. Secondly, during the past three weeks as we've prepared to sail from Suva, Fiji, to New Zealand, we've watched the crews of three separate yachts break quarantine by going ashore previous to clearing. These cruisers were from Australia, Germany, and the United States.

What's going on? Would they support someone else coming into their countries and flaunting their immigration laws? This breaking of the rules must stop or all cruisers will pay the price. Obey the law!

Sean Cody
Suva, Fiji

Sean - What would cruisers from Australia, Germany, and the United States think if people from other countries flaunted their immigration laws? Frankly, they'd think it was the norm - because it is in their home countries.

We don't condone ignoring the customs and immigration laws, but given the current nonsense in Mexico, where yachties have to throw money away and jump through hoops every time they move a few miles down the coast, and in French Polynesia, which refused to rectify their mistake that dramatically limited the amount of time cruisers could spend there, more cruisers than ever are looking at such laws with a jaundiced eye. As has been the case forever, bad laws make criminals out of good people.


In the October issue you wondered if anyone had done a circumnavigation that had taken more than 23 years. I think I may qualify for the record. I left Sausalito in 1965, intending to go around the world. My first stop was Hawaii, where I needed to get some work done on my 75-ft schooner Viveka and to earn enough money to continue on. It took me a lot longer to get things together than I imagined, so I didn't leave to continue west until 1989. It took me another seven years to complete the circumnavigation. When I arrived back in Sausalito in 1996, it was a 31-year circumnavigation. If one wanted to stretch things, I sailed to Acapulco aboard Viveka in 1959 and didn't return there with her until 1995, so that would make a 36-year circumnavigation.

I assume that Mr. Healy, who has been at it for 23 years, also stopped for lengthy periods of time, for it doesn't take that long to go around.

By the way, my Viveka is the oldest boat to receive a Latitude Circumnavigation Certificate. She was built in 1930 - which makes her 72 years old - and is still going strong.

Capt. Merl Petersen
President of the Pacific Ocean


In October 2001, the California Association of Harbor Masters & Port Captains, Inc. (CAHMPC) appointed Jay Elder, Harbor Master at Port San Luis, and Marty Kasules, Harbor Master, Orange County Harbors, to look at the State law on hoax distress calls as they related to marine environment. Elder and Kasules found that there were no state marine related laws addressing the marine distress call hoax. They drafted bill language that fixed the matter, and then got Senator Jack O'Connell (D-San Luis Obispo) to sponsor it (SB 2057). The new language amends the State Penal Code Section § 148.3 to add marine related language - i.e. vessels and aircraft - with regard to distress calls. Governor Gray Davis signed the law on September 13, 2002. 

Back in December of 2001, Latitude ran an article describing how hoax distress calls that diverted emergency resources away from real marine distress calls put sailors in danger. The CAHMPC worked hard to get this law on the books. We are glad to report that the State now has a law that local authorities can use to go after these marine related hoaxs. We appreciate Latitude's permission in using your recent articles in our efforts to get this law passed.

Jay Elder
Board Member CAHMPC
Avila Beach/San Luis Obispo

Jay - We're delighted to have played a small part in getting that legislation on the books.


Our painter broke on Labor Day, and we lost our 11' Zodiac with a 15 hp Evinrude somewhere between the Richmond Bridge and Raccoon Strait. If anyone found it, please contact me at jack.mahoney at or by cell at (415) 271-8393. Thank you.

Jack Mahoney


Over the summer I've noticed that the Coast Guard maintain a secure perimeter around the cruise ships as they disembark from Pier 35 in San Francisco. I enjoy watching the spectacle from my slip at Pier 39. Yesterday, a ship left on a cruise from San Francisco to Australia via Hawaii, Tahiti, and New Zealand. The passengers were on deck in their tuxedos and gowns. It was beautiful.

Part of the spectacle is a little scary, though. Every time a ship leaves on the weekend, the Coasties have to holler at and chase down several boats whose skippers clearly seem to be out of it. The skippers seem not to notice that:

1) A large Coast Guard vessel is stopped right in front of them.

2) The Coast Guard vessel is yelling, with an extremely loud bullhorn, for them to keep away.

3) There is an enormous ship backing out toward them.

None of these skippers were boarded or cited, so they went on their merry way without a clue of what almost happened to them.

It seems fair to ask that skippers keep some kind of a watch out and learn to see that the big white boats with the pretty orange stripes are not just out there for fun. If anything, skippers should learn to identify Coasties so they'll know when to put their beer down and look smart.

Fred Sharples
San Francisco


Latitude asked for memories of the origin of early beer can racing. In Southern California, the first beer can races began in Newport Harbor in 1959, when Jack Baillie's engineless 10 Meter Hilaria took on Eben Sprague's masthead 8 Meter Cherrio II for bragging rights as "the fastest boat on the bay." It wasn't long before other boats joined in the informal, no-holds-barred, Thursday night race that toured Newport Harbor. The only rule was no spinnakers, which meant all sorts of creative downwind sails blossomed at the windward turning mark up the North Lido Channel.

By 1962, Balboa YC had adopted the Beer Can Race as its own, and provided a starting line, clubhouse finish line, and trophies. The popularity of this early beer can series meant that 50-75 boats of diverse pedigree regularly turned out - with more than a few sporting smoking BBQ's and sizzling steaks on the downwind run.

A regular competitor in those early beer can days was Bill Lee - who started Santa Cruz Yachts and was responsible for Merlin and a legion of ultralight sleds - and a crew of Sea Scouts sailing a converted lifeboat. This lifeboat was intended to be dropped from a B-17 to downed flyers, and was designed by Uffa Fox to be light and strong. In its original form, it was equipped with motors and sails, hence a daggerboard slot was already there. Bill Lee and crew put a larger sail plan on their lifeboat and had a grand time - actually winning one of the five race beer can series. They were invited up to the Balboa YC stage to accept their trophy, but not being of age, were served milk instead of beer.

Skip Allan
Capitola YC Historian


In the October issue you mentioned that you were interested in the origins of beer can racing. I'm not sure of the very beginnings, but I can report that in the '50s a group of us sailors started evening races after work that we called Beer Can Races. The first few boats were Fred Rice with Vixen, Oran Wade with Ferns Delight, Dick Stewart with Dancer, and Warren Blinn with Dasher. All were within a foot or so of being 30-footers, and had been designed by Bill Lapworth and built by Carl Chapman in Costa Mesa. We used the races to see how our boats compared to the others. As time went on, other boats joined in the fun, and they became very enjoyable Thursday evenings. After some back surgery I turned to power boating. I recently acquired a Pearson Vanguard to try sailing again, but found that I'm too old for it. So now I'm back to powerboating on the Bay and along the coast.

I can't tell you how much I enjoy Latitude, which keeps me up on all the sailing news and fills that void left in my time on the ocean.

Warren Blinn

Warren - Thanks for the bit of history - and the kind words.


I checked with my 87-year-old dad, who started sailing 'beer can' races out of Balboa YC around 1950. In fact, that's where he started sailing. At that time, his understanding is that the 'Wet Wednesday' races had "been around forever."

My dad sailed aboard Alex Irving's self-designed and built 41-ft sloop Sparkle on beer can and other races well into the '50s and even '60s. Dad recalls a pretty consistent 30-40 boats participating in beer can races in those days, including Humphrey Bogart's Santana. Bogie was a big celebrity at the time, but never acted like it. He always rubbed elbows with other racers at the bar afterward.

Sparkle had actually been sailing beer cans for several years before dad came on board, pushing beer cans back to the mid-'40s. Sparkle also sailed the beer can races out of the old L.A. Yacht Club those same years.

Irving, a fellow engineer at Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, designed Sparkle after a New Bedford whaleboat. She was long, slender, double-ended - and fast. Even with the old, baggy, patched-up sails. Dad recalls one night of light air when they were ghosting past all the hot boats where guys were working frantically to adjust their sails. You know how sound carries sometimes. Well, as they passed one boat, the helmsman looked over and muttered, "Jeeeesus Christ. I'd hate to see what that boat could do with new sails."

"I have great memories of those days," my dad says. "The beer cans were an awful lot of fun."

Incidentally, Sparkle was recently bought and restored by a guy up in Puget Sound. He contacted Alex, and Alex and his old crew - almost all of whom are in their 70s and 80s and still kicking - went up and sailed a race this past summer. My dad was unable to go, as he was having medical problems at the time.

Name Withheld
Lake Isabella


Life wasn't so good for me back in 1993, so I singlehanded my Columbia 30 Frolic to Cabo San Lucas. While on that trip, I learned a lot about myself and about the capabilities of a good boat. By the time I singlehanded most of the way back to San Francisco, I realized how very little I needed to be happy.

Almost all cruisers, I learned, are very kind and helpful. We help each other because we never know when we're going to be the ones needing help. To all of those who have given me a gentle hand during my sailing adventures, I say "thanks." I also want to thank Latitude. I once sent you a Christmas card from Mexico titled Dreaming of a White Christmas, which featured a photo of me leaning naked over the bow watching the waves roll by. I was thanking you for helping me end up in that situation.

It's now 2002, and I'm putting Frolic up for sale as part of my moving on to another chapter of my life. As part of getting her ready to sell, I've had some canvas work done - and would like to compliment the folks at North Beach Canvas. They not only did a good job, they did some additional stuff at no charge.

Just because I'm getting ready to sell Frolic doesn't mean that I'm gettingout of sailing. In fact, a few months back I found myself intrigued by a cold-molded Simpson 47 catamaran located in St. Maarten. I didn't know much about cats, but thought the price was so good that something had to be wrong. Bay Island Yachts has an office in Alameda as well as St. Maarten, so I worked with Neil Reilly at the former and Jerry and Heather at the latter. They were all likeable and knowledgeable, and when the deal was about to fall apart, they managed to hold it together in a very businesslike way.

I was a little concerned about buying a foreign-flagged vessel, but the Bay Island folks showed me that it was simple - as long as the previous owner's name is deleted from the title before he gets all the money. The broker takes care of this. When it came time to register the boat in California, it cost only $50 - and once I got to the window, it only took 10 minutes. Since my new-to-me cat is in the Caribbean and won't be coming back to California within three months, I don't owe any sales tax.

I also want to thank Rob and Petra of St. Maarten Sails for their kindness. After agreeing to purchase the cat in May, I left her in St. Maarten, while Rob and Petra restitched the UV strips on both headsails. When I returned in September, I put the repaired sails in my rental car and drove to the marina. Since I parked the car within 100 feet of the security guard, I figured I could leave them in the car overnight. They were gone, of course, when I returned the next morning.

My insurance company hasn't been any help, but once again I was given a gentle hand by those in the sailing industry. When I reported the loss to Rob so he could be on the lookout for anyone needing sails recut, he immediately called another loft to spread the word. Then he located a used sail for me. It was worn and needed some modification to fit my roller furler, but it was a headsail. When I picked the sail up a couple of days later and asked Rob what I owed, he just looked at me and told me to return the sail when I left. Naturally, I recommend St. Maarten Sails - which also gave me a good quote to replace the two stolen headsails.

As I drove my fat cat out the narrow entrance to Simpson Lagoon and into the Caribbean Sea for the first time, I was nervous as hell. But once we got going, I knew my life would never be the same, as it's a big jump from a 30-ft monohull to a 47-ft cat. By the way, I've named her Imagine after the John Lennon song.

It was hard to leave my cat in St. Maarten, but I've still got responsibilities in the Bay Area. It will be even harder seeing Frolic's tiller in someone else's hand.

John Rodgers
Frolic, Columbia 30 / Imagine, Simpson 47
Emeryville / St. Maarten

John - Sometimes there's nothing like adversity to bring out the best in each of us. Congratulations on your new boat. If you're in St. Maarten over the holidays, be sure to sail over to St. Bart's for the New Year's Eve 'Parade' - which is really a fun race - around the island. We'll be happy to introduce you, and can assure you that your participation will be as welcome as that of the guy with the $5 million yacht.


I read the response to John Rainey's call for a Ha-Ha boycott of Mexico, and find it interesting that you don't believe that such a thing would have much of an impact on the way Mexico views its clearing procedures and fees.

I think that if the port captain's found a way to catch the Ha-Ha fleet, you might change your tune. For instance, currently you don't have to check in at Bahia Santa Maria. However, there is a man who acts as a port captain at Man 'O War Cove in Mag Bay - which is just a short walk over the sand dunes from Bahia Santa Maria. I wonder how you would react to a new ruling that all Ha-Ha boats would have to check in and out of there. Naturally, the minimum fee of $15 each way would have to be paid, and the boats would have to spend an extra day there. Or perhaps the port captain might decide that all the boats would have to go to Man 'O War Cove for inspections. Would that make it kind of scary?

Howard Biolos
Sailed the Sea of Cortez for Four Years

Howard - Lauren Spindler, Honcho of the Ha-Ha, replies as follows:

"Why would it be 'scary'? The Ha-Ha fleet complies with Mexican law regarding checking in, so what would they 'catch' us doing? If port captains were installed at Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria - something that could certainly happen - each boat might have to cough up an additional $60. That might be annoying in principle, but if the expense were spread between the average crew of four, it would only be $15 in the course of a two-week adventure. So it wouldn't be a 'make or break' deal for anyone. Furthermore, the fleet would also have the option of picking different places to stop in future years or not stop at all. Of all the 'what if' fears associated with a Ha-Ha, the one you raise is about the least of them."

Thank you, Lauren. As for the general concept of Mexican clearing procedures being a waste of time and money, it's true they are, but not to such a degree that they're deterring many cruisers from going to Mexico. So if there was a Ha-Ha boycott and 85 of the 100 boats went anyway, what's been accomplished other than cutting off one's nose to spite one's face? Furthermore, when dealing with Mexico, we personally feel that in the long run it's going to be more productive to work with them rather than confront them. And there is continuing pressure to change the procedures. In fact, before the start of the Ha-Ha, all the entrants will be asked to fill out a questionnaire to help promote a change.

By the way, while the clearing procedures aren't going to stop many cruisers from sailing to Mexico, it's certainly having an adverse affect on the amount of time current cruisers are spending there. More than a few folks who were going to spend two or three years in Mexico have spent only a year or two. We're trying to help Mexico wake up to this fact. It wouldn't hurt if departing cruisers wrote the Department of Tourism and told them they were leaving prematurely in part because of clearing procedures.


I don't know all the details about Richard Van Pham's dismasting and radio failures, but in 'Lectronic Latitude you wrote that his experience was ". . . also about less than stellar seamanship." That could be very unfair. All mishaps at sea are a result of 'less than stellar seamanship'. However, Van Pham's survival for 3.5 months at sea - through hurricane season - leads me to believe that it was a rare mix of stellar seamanship, pluckiness, and self-sufficiency which kept him alive. He should be congratulated!

Larry Freeman, Desk Skipper
Fairbanks, Alaska

Larry - In the beginning, we - like everyone else - were happy to believe Van Pham's tale of an impoverished but plucky immigrant who managed to survive for 3.5 months at sea after being dismasted. But as details were revealed, the story started to smell. For example, Van Pham claimed to have kept his boat in Long Beach's Shoreline Marina - but records show he was only there a couple of days. He also claimed that he never saw a single boat or plane after losing his mast between Long Beach and Catalina. Finally, there's the business of Van Pham having been charged with felonies in California, Texas, and Florida.

Based on medical reports and the condition of his Columbia 26 before the U.S. Navy scuttled her, we have no doubt that Van Pham spent a long time at sea involuntarily. But what he was doing out there is far from clear. We wouldn't be surprised if it didn't have something to do with his having spent six months in a coma after an auto accident- and perhaps no longer having all his faculties intact.


I just thought Richard Van Pham was stupid and maybe a little crazy. Imagine setting out alone for Catalina in a poorly maintained boat without telling anyone. And not even having a cell phone. But my wife - whose intuition for what is really behind someone's behavior continues to amaze me - had suspected all along that Van Pham did not want to be found because he was carrying drugs or some other contraband. I am beginning to think she is correct.

Ron Sherwin
Northern California


I find it curious that Richard Van Pham was able to drift through the Gulf of Santa Catalina in June without spotting another boat or plane. That would be like breaking down on the Nimitz Freeway during rush hour and not being able to see another car. Van Pham also claimed that he was dismasted in a storm sometime in the beginning of June. Storms aren't normal there that time of year.

David Cahak
Northern California

David - Having made 12 trips between Long Beach/Newport and Catalina this year, we think it's preposterous to suggest that a dismasted boat would not have been seen by numerous other vessels. Particularly when the prevailing winds would have pushed the boat back toward the coast.

On the other hand, we don't doubt the dismasting. It can blow in the 20s off Long Beach in the summer, and we saw the low 20s at Catalina in a few places where the wind rushed down the valleys. To some folks, 20 knots of wind is a storm, and to an old mast with fatigued fittings, it could be enough to cause failure.


Late one afternoon in June of this year, we saw Richard Van Pham try to singlehand his boat into the Isthmus at Catalina. There was a breeze on, but the jib was flapping away on his piece of crap boat. He couldn't even make it to the fairway, so the Harbor Patrol came by to offer him assistance. He waved them off, but eventually gave up on getting to the Isthmus and sailed off. We thought all kinds of things at the time, such as, 'What the heck was that?' and 'Some people have no business out here.'

Steve Brown
Southern California

Steve - We disagree that the Columbia 26 MK I is a "piece of shit." She might look outdated - as many 40-year-old boats do - but she managed several thousand ocean miles without a mast.


I've been in and out of Long Beach's Shoreline Marina quite a bit since I brought my trimaran Migration back from Mexico last November. I met Richard Van Pham there sometime in May or June, as he stopped by my boat and we talked for about half an hour.

He was a very interesting guy who told me that he'd sailed to Central and South America. He said that he only stopped once or twice in Mexico on his way back. I have to admit that I wasn't completely convinced by his story - especially given the condition of his boat. I figured he was another of those interesting characters who you meet on the docks. However, he was clearly someone who was comfortable on his little boat, and who needed few amenities. Nonetheless, I wasn't surprised by his story in the papers - both that his boat was dismasted and that he survived.

Bruce Balan
Long Beach

Bruce - We're extremely skeptical of Van Pham's claim that he sailed to Chile and back in six months, and that he made only two stops in Mexico on his way north. We're not saying it can't be done, only that it can't be done by a guy who can't sail into the fairway at Catalina. Until he can produce a couple of photos or documents of his boat being in Chile, we'll have our doubts.

A 26, NOT A 24

Just a note about your story Forget The Survivor TV Show, This Was The Real Thing item about Richard Van Pham in 'Lectronic Latitude. Yes, his boat looked a lot like a Columbia 24 as you said, but that's because she was an early example of the Columbia 26 Mark I, which was created by stretching the Columbia 24's cabin two feet. This allowed the larger boat to have an 'enclosed head' and hanging locker. The giveaway is that the Columbia 24 had only one small port on either side of the forward part of the cabin, whereas the 26 had two.

Eric White
Columbia 40 #10, Pelago
Former owner Columbia 24 #157, Binary

Eric - Since you are something of a keeper of the flame for Columbia Yachts, we presume you're aware that Vince Valdez, son of Dick Valdez, who made Columbia one of the biggest names in sailing in the late '60s, has revived the Columbia brand. Their first offering is a 30-ft monohull sportboat - designed by multihull experts Morrelli & Melvin!


I'm considering putting my St. Francis 44 catamaran into the Barefoot Yacht Charter fleet in St. Vincent. Has anyone had experience with them? The contract requests that Barefoot get two weeks of free use of my boat, which doesn't sound fair to me. What do other charter boat owners feel about this?

Tara White
Santa Cruz


I'm just back from a trip to Cannes, France, and Monaco. While at the latter, we were astounded to see that the tiny principality has decided to take a page from Holland's operating manual by building not just a bigger harbor, but more Monaco as well. The attached photo shows a substantial landfill project going on at the inland side of Monaco Harbor adjacent to the glamorous harbor-side public piscine, which is a saltwater swimming pool. The tremendous landfill project is possible for two reasons:

1) Monaco land prices make even San Francisco's Pacific Heights seem as though it has WalMart prices. So creating new land is a reasonable option.

2) Monaco is extending its harbor in a big way. I'd have to guess it will double the area inside the harbor as well as provide greater protection from the open Med. This is a good thing because while Monaco is a pleasure harbor, you can easily literally lose a 100-foot yacht among the usual forest of just-polished-this-morning megayachts of 200 to 350 feet.

After I returned home, I learned that the 160,000 ton 'breakwater' not only floats in 179 feet of water, but has a huge ball and socket joint - sort of like how your arm attaches to your shoulder - to keep it attached to land. Furthermore, the inside of the flexible breakwater will be a multistory parking lot. Check out http:/ / to get a better idea of what they're doing. The huge floating breakwater explains the presence of the world's largest floating crane - which appeared to be about 500 feet x 100 feet - and probably could have slung Spiros Niarchos' 350-ft foot megayacht Atalantis II around as though it were a dinghy in stern davits.

By the way, we were welcomed with open arms by the Monaco YC, whose hospitality to pretentiousness ratio could show a few clubs in the Bay Area a thing or two. Skimming the reception book as we signed in, we noted that about half the visitors this summer have been from California - most from Northern California. This would suggest that Californian sailors have a lot of time on their hands or are simply unemployed. At any rate, we enjoyed the fabulous lunch buffet and plat du jour for $25 - which was a bargain compared to prices in nearby Cannes. We later found that we could dine on a huge pizza with all the toppings along the harborside for just $7, and get a pichet or pitcher of wine for another $5. At this rate I'd be ready to move my boat to Monaco - except I'm afraid that I'd never be able to find it among the megayachts.

Tim Dick
Sausalito / Hawaii

Tim - The breakwater project underway in Monaco is an engineering and construction tour de force. Folks with access to a computer should really check out the website noted above.

We've been to Monaco a number of times and have always enjoyed ourselves in a decidedly thrifty way. While it's not cheap there, we agree that it's neither as pretentious or expensive as most would expect. It's been eight years, of course, but when we were there with Big O a Med-tie was less than $1/foot.


We just returned from spending two months on our boat in Spain, and read the August letter from Jack and Patricia Tyler asking for info about the regulations for keeping a boat in the Med.

My wife and I sailed Geronimo, our Olympic 48, to Spain in 1985, and have kept her in Spain or France ever since. We leave her on the hard other than the two or three months we sail her in the Med. We have cruised to almost all of the popular places in the Western Med, including the Balearics, Corsica, Sardinia, the Riviera, Costa Brava, Costa del Sol, etc. Maybe our experience with the regulations and the authorities will be of help.

In short, we have had no bad experiences - or even direct contact - with the authorities in the 17 years we've left our boat there. We've relied on the guidance of the managers of the boatyards, who have told us that if we don't touch our boat for six months of each year, we're in compliance with the law.

As for importing boat parts, we bought a new Volvo engine in France, and had a new mast fabricated and shipped from Los Angeles to Barcelona, and didn't have to pay VAT or duty on either. The key to not being subject to VAT or duty is that our boat is classified as a 'vessel in transit' because we comply with the six-month rule. By the way, when our original mast was severely damaged by electrolysis, we found that we could get a new one fabricated by LeFiell in Los Angeles, and have it shipped to Europe for one-third the cost of a mast built in Europe! Conversely, our new 9 oz. DuPont dacron jib was made in Spain for less than half the cost of one made in the U.S. Once again, there was no duty or VAT.

Hopefully, this info will be of some use to Jack and Patricia. As for sailing in the Med, it really is as crazy as you hear because of the variable winds. Nonetheless, the cruising is great!

Incidentally, since the Tylers have a Pearson 424 in St. Pete, I would like to mention that my brother, Bob Teasley, also has a beautiful Pearson 424 - which he keeps at his home in Tierra Verde (near St. Pete). You two should do some buddyboating sometime, or at least get together and compare varnish jobs!

Len Teasley
Geronimo, Olympic 48
Los Altos / Pt. Richmond


In a recent 'Lectronic Latitude, you wrote,

"Frankly, we're a little miffed if anybody thinks we were trying to do a sexy cover [in the August issue], not because we have anything against sexy covers, but because they might think that was the best we could have done. And we can prove it. So if you're an attractive and fit young lady with an exhibitionist streak who would enjoy being sexy on the cover of Latitude, just give us a call. Because as Bonnie Raitt used to sing, 'we'll give 'em something to talk about'."

Please don't do this, as it's extremely demeaning to women. If you want to put female sailors on the cover, let it be because you're pulling together a great cover article on female sailors, highlighting their sailing skills as opposed to just exploiting their bodies. We're in the new century, please help put a stop to the sexual exploitation of women.

Suna Kneisley
Northern California

Suna - Thank you for your opinion. When we recently ran a photo of Marc Hachey wearing nothing but a Latitude bumper sticker over his butt, we didn't think it was demeaning to men. Nor do we feel we were exploiting men when we ran the photos of the guys in Vanuatu wearing nothing but penis sheaths, the banker halyard-swinging while buck-naked off the dock at Nassau, or the scores of similar shots. Maybe you're too sophisticated or too political to get a chuckle out of such photos of people having silly fun such as that, but we're not.

Women have all kinds of wonderful attributes, one of which is that some of them sometimes enjoy being a little sexy. It might have something to do with the perpetuation of the species. In any event, we feel that if a genuine woman sailor of her own free will decides that it would be a kick to be a little cheeky on a tasteful cover of Latitude, it's neither the end of the world nor even demeaning to women.

For much of the last century, women believed if they wanted to be respected, they had to repress any inclination to be a little sexy. But if you listen to thoughtful opinion leaders of today's women - such as Alanis Morrissette - they aren't buying such a grim and repressive outlook. In fact, they want it all - meaning respect as human beings as well as the freedom to be sexy. We're on the same page.


You're going to run a 'sexy sailor' cover in the February issue. Hell, that's when my wife Anastasia will be 98% through her pregnancy.

"Damn!" she says, "If I wasn't pregnant, I'd apply to be the model myself." She's 34, 6'2" and "just happens to be blonde." By the way, if there were ever a vigorous and outspoken champion of respect and freedom for women, it is she. But she says your project is "just fun enough for me to sign up."

Charles Beyor
Northern California

Charles - We appreciate Anastasia's bright outlook on life - and her faith that we'd create something that was as tasteful as it was fun. Right now, of course, the most important thing is that she have a happy and healthy pregnancy.


Just a short note to say that I really look forward to every issue of Latitude. I read it from cover to cover - especially in the winter while living in South Lake Tahoe. Fortunately, I manage to escape the snow a couple of times a month to race on the Bay.

Your August cover - the one with the couple on the cover, including the girl in the bikini - was fine. But I really enjoyed the September cover - the topless boys on the Hobie Cat, smiling for the camera while letting it all hang out, really made me smile! Keep up the great work that you do so well.

Christy Monohan
Windjammers YC
South Lake Tahoe

Christy - Making other people smile is what we love doing the most. So go ahead and enjoy the shot - as long as you recognize that those boys are not merely objects of your viewing pleasure, but real people with real emotions and feelings.


The cover of the August issue was alienating to me as a sailor. I'm not the only one around the marina who is put off by your frequent displays of nearly naked women. Across the board, the women I've spoken with have felt ignored as readers, and the men just wish that you'd grow up.

I'm sure it's perfectly natural for ice cream servers on the Riviera to go topless, but what does it have to do with sailing? And why was her picture taken? Did anyone ever think of her? Maybe she's a refugee from Eastern Europe who has to do exactly as her boss says or be sent back. More flesh means more ice cream sales. Does more flesh mean more ad sales?

My impression is that women are part of the prize to you. Buy a boat and a half-naked woman comes with it. That's your problem. Mine is this: I want you to know you have female readers who don't think of themselves as appendages of their partner's boats, but who are sailors in their own right. You're suggesting that women should "loosen up" and be objectified. That's just not gonna fly. You need to get with the times and get a grip. Maybe a woman on your editorial staff could help you.

Andrea Lynn Jalickees

Andrea - We semi-apolgize for the following reply, but if you're going to blatantly misstate the facts and put words in our mouth, expect to get as good as you give.

The August cover, which depicted a young couple sailing in normal attire, did not alienate you as a sailor. It may, however, have alienated you as the member of a fundamentalist fringe group.

You are mistaken to imagine that a majority of our readers would prefer less frequent displays of "nearly naked women," because just the opposite is true. This doesn't mean they're going to get more of them, however, because it wouldn't represent the publisher's vision of the reality of sailing. Similarly, don't expect us to require women sailors to remove their makeup and don burkas before they can appear in Latitude just to make you fringe folks happy. For that's not the reality of sailing either.

You don't know a damn thing about the woman in the photo selling ice cream on the French Riviera. The fact that you imagine she's an Eastern European refugee forced to disrobe to flog more ice cream for an evil boss - as opposed to being a happy young woman enjoying getting an even tan - speaks volumes about the unhappy movie that seems to be playing in your mind.

If you think that we're sluts for money, and that more sex in Latitude means more pages of ads, why wouldn't we eliminate photos of boats in favor of photos of boobs? The truth is that both your premises are silly. We've been operating on the same editorial principle for 25 years: Portray sailing realistically and we'll get more readers; get more readers and more advertisers will follow. You say this "won't fly," but a quarter of a century is a long flight.

If "women sailors" feel ignored, that means we're doing our jobs. Confused, aren't you? We write for sailors, not 'men sailors' or 'women sailors'. If you and your fringe friends are seeking gender specific sailing articles, you should pick up a different publication.

It's very observant of you to note that half-naked women are the "prizes" men get for buying boats. After all, when was the last time you saw a boat on the Bay that wasn't crawling with topless women? And certainly every woman within earshot pulls out her breasts each time a guy mentions that he owns a sailboat, right? But if that were really the case, it would be a much more damning indictment of women than men, wouldn't it?

Over the years, we've had a couple of thousand women sail on our boats, be they captain, crew, passenger, or party guest. While their sailing skills ranged from expert to zilch, we defy you to find one of them who felt they were treated like an object rather than a person. It's also instructive that Profligate's expensive mainsail was sponsored by a software company run and mostly owned by women who know and love Latitude.

We've had a woman on our editorial staff before and wouldn't mind another. In fact, we'd be happy if you were to apply - after you'd taken some tolerance training and worked through your bikini issues. The doctor prescribes a long, buck-naked ocean passage in the tropics.

Having said this, we're cutting off all comment on this subject for the next four or five months, as it's become tiresome. Until then, live, laugh, and love - while following the Golden Rule.


I don't mean to say 40 - I just had my birthday - is old, but your call for young women who might want to be on the cover revisits the correspondence from a year or so ago from/about men "of a certain age" wondering where all the nubile 19-year-old virgins are who could be having the cruising adventure of a lifetime with them. It's sad that many such men could have their choice of women closer to their own age - say, a 50-ish divorcee whose children are grown, and who might be at a place in life where such an adventure might appeal to her - but who will be overlooked (in spite of good health, financial independence, even cooking and - gasp! - sailing skills) because she's old enough to remember the rotary phone. As one begins to, hmm, get up there a bit oneself, one becomes more sensitive to the age bias.

But I digress. Attribute it to my age. Here's another photo for your amusement - abs of steel, baby! Ha, ha. By the way, thanks for the September cover!

Terry Roy

Terry - For people who keep fit - abs of steel is right! - 40 isn't old. It can be prime time, when the mind/body combo is operating at its best.

Thanks for the interest and photos sent by you and a number of other women readers. We think we've got the woman we need for our February cover, but if you don't mind, we'll keep all your names and see if we can't use you in other photos - we can always use models - in the upcoming months.


On October 6, I ran aground in the channel leading to Emeryville. Almost before I had a chance to survey my situation, not one but two sailboats came to my aid. With Ripple heeling me over with a line attached to one of my halyards and Mojito pulling from the front, I was under way in no time flat. Thanks a bunch!

Sam Fisher
Supernaut, Newport 32


It was good to read about Guadalupe Island in the recent issue. My favorite way to go south to Mexico is by way of that island. Twice I've had a good reach out to Guadalupe and tried to make it back to Turtle Bay. Once it worked out fine, once it was too rough on the beam so I fell off and had a good run to Cabo. Most boats leaving San Diego about noon would arrive off Cedros early on the second morning. It's not hard to find because it makes the best radar target that I've ever seen. There's never been wind on the lee side of the island when I've been there, so it's a perfect opportunity to motor in order to charge batteries and pull down the freezer.

There aren't many visitors to Guadalupe, so it's a good place to trade for seafood. If you arrive during abalone season, you might find some tough, black abalone that's the size of a baseball. They aren't worth hammering into steaks, so I suggest that you put them in your freezer until you get far enough south to catch some small squid. Then thaw the abalone, grind it up, and stuff them into the body tubes of squid. Simmer them in spaghetti sauce until tender, and you'll be an acclaimed gourmet chef.

I want to thank Lauren Spindler, head honcho of the Ha-Ha, for making me an honorary member of this year's group. It's seldom we get rewarded for just doing what we want to do as opposed to what we should do.

Ernie Copp
Orient Star, Cheoy Lee 50
Long Beach


Are Bay Area sailors aware that a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility is being proposed for the south end of Mare Island, and it could have a negative effect on sailing in the Bay? I have some serious concerns.

Shell Gas & Power and Bechtel Enterprises propose to turn the southernmost waterfront of Mare Island - immediately adjacent to the entrance of the Vallejo estuary - into a significant LNG storage facility, power plant, distribution hub, and shipping/off-loading facility. We're talking huge storage tanks, huge ships and in my opinion, more unsightly industrialization of what presently is an open and natural landscape.

What's wrong with this project? First, I don't think it's the best use for the land. With a beautiful waterview golf course already situated on the bluffs directly above and bordering the site, and with a natural tidal basin, I think if the land is developed at all, it should be as a destination resort hotel and marina, with a waterfront park and concert facility. Imagine a genuine sailing destination resort offering world class golf, restaurants, lodging and an open air entertainment venue. Such land utilization would create hundreds of jobs and bring millions of tax dollars to the city of Vallejo. I think a resort would create more long term economic gain, and the downwind neighbors wouldn't need to worry about half a bazillion cubic feet of compressed gas blowing up near them.

The Shell and Bechtel plans call for the dredging of a huge turning basin for the ocean going LNG tankers. Hell, we can't even get the dinky little entrance to our marina dredged, but supposedly they'll get the permits to dredge millions of tons of bottom in order to facilitate this proposed plant. Where's the EPA, BCDC, XYZ, ABC, LMNOP, HUA and all the rest? And by the way, where do they think all the residual silt is going to flow once it's stirred up from the bottom? Yep, right into the neighboring marinas.

Then there's the impact on recreational boating in the region if the project is built. I understand that whenever one of their big LNG tankers was in port, there would be a significant security zone established around the ship and small craft will be required to steer well clear. Imagine sailing around a giant LNG tanker with your family aboard, watching streams of vapors and emissions wafting from pipes and hoses, and wondering what it is that you're breathing. In the public relations literature, Shell and Bechtel make some vague mention that the facility will benefit recreational boaters - but they don't say how. They should be held accountable to such claims. Also left out of the PR literature is mention of the steady stream of LNG tanker trucks adding to the surface street traffic, which will no doubt pose it's own risks.

There's also the question of whether we Californians really need such a plant in the first place. Maybe only the folks who will profit will be Bechtel, who will build it, and Shell Gas & Power, which will operate it. Both, no doubt, will benefit from all the known interplanetary tax incentives - and then some.

Could the proposed facility be located elsewhere? Yes! How about Port Costa, which is a relatively secluded deepwater alternative with abundant surrounding open space for a buffer zone and access to rail spurs and highways. Why have they chosen to propose such a plant in a densely populated municipality when better sites are available? Could Shell and Bechtel simply be taking the path of least political resistance?

I don't think the idea of a waterfront LNG plant as proposed is good for anyone except Shell and Bechtel, and hope that sailors will let the city of Vallejo know what you think.

Steven J. Duffy

Steven - We don't have enough facts about the project to have developed an informed opinion - but we're not so sure that you do either. These days major projects are more complicated than a couple of companies seeing some open space, drawing up plans for a catastrophic project, paying off the city council, and starting in with the shovels while the 700 government permitting agenices are off at lunch. Heck, you can't fart these days without filing an environmental impact report and getting a permit from 20 agencies.

There are only two things we feel confident in saying about the south end of Mare Island: 1) There won't be an LNG plant built there without lots of oversight and some stink; and, 2) we can't think of a worse place for a destination resort/marina/music venue. After all, it howls in the afternoon and at night, the view of the oil refinery across the way isn't that pleasant, the water is muddy, and it's pretty much out of the way.


Aloha. A reader wrote a letter about the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu claiming that the "old docks nearly killed two boaters." As a yacht broker here in Hawaii, a 20-year resident, and a nine-year resident of the Ala Wai, I find that questionable. The letter comes across as one of facts, but let's take a few statements and look at them.

"The Ala Wai receives several hundred million in tax subsidies." Where did that come from? "It's a place of crime and lowlifes." Nothing like a tourist to tell us about our problems.

Yes, the Ala Wai is run down. The docks were built for a life expectancy of 25 years, and we're now about 15 years past that. A new marina would be nice, but an increase of fees to double or triple is not exactly what most tenants desire. Since the Ala Wai is home to many boats with out of town owners, there would be a mass exodus of boats, with a flood on the market of boats for sale. There are solutions, but they're not as easy as many assume.

I say let's stick to facts.

Richard Nyren
Ala Wai Yacht Brokerage
Honolulu, Hawaii

Richard - We'renot sure where the "several hundred million" figure came from either, but let's do some simple math. On the assumption that 800 Ala Wai berths are $240/month below market, that's $192,000 a month, or $2,300,000 a year. Over the course of the 25 years we've known the marina to be deteriorating badly and woefully undercharging for slips, that's $57 million - or most of what it would cost to rebuild and reconfigure the Ala Wai into the world class marina that it should be.

Who has benefited from this lavish taxpayer subsidy? A very small number of people - some of whom use their boats exclusively as ridiculously cheap housing on some of the most expensive waterfront in the world, some of whom live out of state and who therefore almost never use their boats, and a majority of people who no longer use their boats but who can't afford to give up their slip because they are so darn cheap. If we were a taxpayer in Hawaii, we'd be infuriated at such a subsidy - and the thousands of others like it that come with a poorly managed - if not corrupt - government.

It doesn't surprise us that current tenants don't desire a change in the current system. After all, if we were getting something valuable for 60% off, we wouldn't want change either. What about the less affluent folks who would have trouble affording higher slip fees who still wanted to sail? We've got two solutions. First, anybody who used their boat a minimum of twice a month every year would have their berth fee grandfathered for five years at just half the amount necessary to bring slip fees to market rate. Secondly - and more importantly - a nonprofit sailing program modeled after the one at Orange Coast College, which provides low cost sailing to several thousand people every year, could be established. The bottom line is that ocean access of the many shouldn't be denied merely to preserve a subsidy of the few - who rarely still make use of their ocean access.

We agree that there would be a mass exodus from the Ala Wai if market rates were charged because it would no longer make sense to hold onto a boat just because a slip was so cheap. Based on the fact that the Ko Olina - which has a much less convenient location down by Barber's Point - has no trouble attracting boats while charging market rates, we predict there would also be a mass migration of much needed new blood into the Ala Wai.

Had the state properly managed the Ala Wai, the current crisis wouldn't have developed. But it's gone on so long, that even the Democratic governor recognizes it. As the racers say when they're caught on the wrong side of a windshift, 'when you've got to eat shit, take big bites'. In other words, it's time for the state to get out of the marina business completely, and allow greater ocean access for everyone, no matter their economic status.


I read the letter about the SC 50 charterboat Scotch Mist II in Maui, and can confirm that it's fun. The sail was good as were the champagne and chocolates, and the girls who run it. But then I went on America II, berthed right next to Scotch Mist, and for the same price had a sail that was as different as night and day. They took us out in 25+ knots of wind and huge ocean swells for open ocean extreme sailing. It was insane - and when I say "they," I mean the two crew. They were awesome and on top of it, pulling fish by hand without even stopping the boat. It was definitely worth the trip, and one I'll not miss the next time I'm on Maui.

Planet Earth

Jay - We can't imagine a more inappropriate vessel for "extreme open ocean sailing" than a leadmine such as America II, one of the many 12 Meters that challenged for the America's Cup in 1987. Are we missing something?


In the latest Latitude, you asked for ideas about improving the system for clearing into Mexican ports. We have now spent two winter seasons in Mexico, and are as tired as anyone of the high costs and time-wasting check-in procedures. We would love to see the check-in process simplified and fees reduced significantly. If, however, a complete fix is not possible, here are some small steps the Mexican government might be willing to take to make things easier:

1) If a boat needs to come into port for fuel only, require only a VHF notification and permission of the port captain. A complete check-in would not be required.

2) Allow boats to enter a port - without formally checking in - for 24 hours for the purpose of anchoring to get rest. A bigger step - but one that would benefit the economies of many ports - would be if cruisers could stop at any port for 24 to 48 hours without checking in. As it is now, we often bypass places we'd like to visit and spend money because the hassle and expense of checking in is too great.

3) Once a crew has cleared Immigration when checking into the country, eliminate the requirement to have it done again and again - unless there is a change in crew. Instead of having to repeatedly check in with Immigration, cruisers should be able to provide the port captain with a copy of current valid visas and have the port captain check identities.

4) Allow cruisers to purchase small denomination scrip for paying port fees only. These would have no value as general currency, but could be collected for fees by the port captain, be signed/stamped by the port captain, and turned over to the bank on a weekly basis. This would give each port captain full credit for fees collected in his or her jurisdiction, and eliminate multiple trips to the banks for we cruisers.

None of this addresses the amount of the fees, which we would very much like to see lowered. But they do address the equally onerous hassle factor. The best, of course, would be if all of the above suggestions were instituted, which would mean that we'd only have to go to the port captain's office. How nice that would be!

Russ & Donna Sherwin
Four Seasons

Russ and Donna - The ultimate, of course, would be for Mexico to come to their senses by requiring that boats only have to check in once per six months to pay something like $5 to $10/foot for a cruising permit. Because as you and we both know, the current system is nothing more than a waste of everybody's time and money, and one that is giving Mexico a black eye. If anybody were to need an example of the corrosive powers of a bureaucracy run amok, this would be it.


I'm a new boatowner, so I jump at the chance to sail with more experienced sailors. Recently, I went sailing with Glenn Aitkens on his Hans Christian 38 Endeavour, a South Pacific vet. Our plan was to leave Marina Bay Yacht Harbor, sail across the Bay and up through Raccoon Strait to Sausalito, then try out my new cruising spinnaker on the way home. Our sail across the Bay was uneventful except for seeing the beautiful 12 Meter yachts out racing. But as we were about to make our second tack in the Strait against the flood, I felt the pressure on the helm disappear. Then the wheel spun freely. "I think we've lost steering!" I told Glenn.

Raccoon Strait was no place to lose steering, as we were surrounded by many sailboats, 12 Meters racing, and people in cigarette powerboats flying by at idiotic speeds. As one sailboat came near, we sounded our signal horn and waved our hands to signal our problem. After some quick thinking, Glenn let the main sheet go to spill the air from the sail, and proceeded to furl both the jib and staysail. Although our forward progress slowed, we were still getting close to shore. With the sails struck, we got out the emergency tiller, flung open the hatches, and inserted the head onto the rudder shaft. We came about with less than 1/8th of a mile to spare. Although we made it back to Marina Bay without further incident, we were surprised at how much force it took to bring the boat about using the emergency tiller.

Based on our experience, we think it's important to remind all sailors how important it is to know what kind of steering their boat has, and what procedures they should employ in the case of steering failure. Furthermore, it's important that everyone knows where their emergency tiller is and how to quickly install it.

After getting back to the dock, we discovered that Endeavour had lost her steering because a line in the stern lazarette had found its way between the rudder quadrant and cable, and eventually wedged the cable off the quadrant.

Jason Hardi
Marina Bay Yacht Harbor

Jason - Our most memorable steering failure happened at 3 a.m. while running wing-on-wing in 25 knots while sailing past the Martinez Bridge on our way up the Delta aboard our old 41-ft Bounty II. Rapidly approaching the Shell Oil Pier, we either had to do something drastic or be dismasted eight feet above the deck. A dismasting would only be the beginning of the damage and perhaps personal injuries. So we sheeted in the main, which rather quickly brought the boat 180° around into the wind, where she basically luffed in place. This gave us the time to determine that a bearing had broken, and to fit the emergency tiller.

While it might not have been appropriate for your situation, most boats are designed with a slight weather helm, which means if the main or main and jib are sheeted in, the boat should luff indefinitely or flop over to a 'hove to' position. In either case, it should buy enough time to determine the nature of the problem and, if appropriate, fit the emergency tiller. All this, of course, presumes that the rudder isn't permanently bent off to one side.

By the way, there are no 12 Meters on the Bay. We presume you were referring to the IACC boats, which replaced the 12 Meters in the America's Cup about 10 years ago.


I love your magazine - and wanted to say it up front so you don't think it's another one of those ridiculous emails complaining about the bikini cover in the August issue. I teach sailing for U.C. Berkeley, and always mention Latitude and 'Lectronic Latitude as fine resources to my beginning sailors. I estimate that each year I teach, inspire, and inject about 400 students a year into the sailing community. I suppose you can say I'm a 'crew breeder'.

As I teach in Berkeley - ground zero of political correctness - you can imagine the minefield I have to tiptoe through each time I open my mouth. Some women are so uptight these days that if I should have a politically incorrect thought - that men and women aren't exactly the same, for example - my boss would get a complaining phone call. But there are differences between men and women, it's the nature of nature. And what's wrong with letting Nature be natural?

Keep doin' what you've been doing.

Douglas Chew
Challenger, Merit 25

Douglas - Thanks for the kind words and recommendations. When we went to Berkeley, we protested in favor of the freedom of speech. How odd that Berkeley has become the hotbed of restricting the freedom of speech and thought. We've always thought of political correctness as being an attempt to use politics to modify reality. Sort of like a bunch of sincere activists passing a resolution to repeal gravity or wind on the nose. A law can be passed, but reality won't be changed.


Please add us and our Hardin 45 Alegre to your list of circumnavigators. We left Portland in July of 1998, spent 15 months in Puget Sound and Canada, nine months in the Bay Area and Delta, 16 months in Mexico, and then headed across the Big Pond more or less following the Milk Run. We spent two seasons in New Zealand, one in Australia, went through Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, across the Indian Ocean to Oman, up the Red Sea, and to Cyprus where we spent a year.

After four years in the Med, we crossed to Trinidad & Tobago, did Bonaire, the San Blas Islands, and continued to the Canal Zone. Back in the Pacific, we went to Costa Rica, and then offshore direct to San Diego. We crossed our outgoing track offshore of Manzanillo, having taken just over nine years for the actual circumnavigation. In all, we visited 37 countries and travelled about 38,000 miles. Our Hardin 45, which we lived aboard since June of 1980, isn't too fast for a boat, but is pretty quick for a house.

We read Latitude 38 regularly. It is still 'King of the Mags'.

Gordon & Joan Mery
Alegre, Hardin 45
Portland, Oregon

Gordon and Joan - Congratulations on your excellent circumnavigation. If you're not worldly wise at this point, we're not sure who would be.


I'm afraid that the information I submitted to the Ha-Ha may have resulted in my Ha-Ha 'bio' in the October issue being mixed up. What I meant to say was that Ti Amo will be the second Oyster to have done the Ha-Ha, as Scott Oakley did it with Tiger's Life in 2000. I'd like to make this clarification because Scott is not only younger than I, but a much better composer and musician. I also see that John Furth has entered this year with his Oyster 485 Darling. I first did the Ha-Ha in '96 with Tally Ho, my Nauticat 43.

Carl Mischka
Ti Amo, Oyster 485
Newport Beach


Is there someplace that lists the GPS coordinates for all the points, harbor entrances, navigation hazards and such on San Francisco Bay? I had carefully programmed them all in my GPS, but then managed to lose them.

Ed Murphy
Northern California

Ed - There probably is a list, but we're not sure where you would find it. We're a little gun-shy about relying on such coordinates as opposed to constantly monitoring one's progress, as navigators who do things too automatically tend to forget that sometimes there are obstacles - such as remnants of the Berkeley Pier or Angel Island - between two points.


In the May issue of Latitude there was an article on the Banderas Bay Regatta - which you refer to as the 10th Annual. We beg to differ. The first Banderas Bay Regatta was in 1991, not 1992 -and we have a plaque in our nav station to prove it. It reads: "2do. lugar Categoria A Regata Bahia de Banderas 1991."

The following is a quote from our May 1991 newsletter. "The best time we had during our Puerto Vallarta stay was the First Annual Banderas Bay Regatta. The Mexicans running Nuevo Vallarta, along with others in the area, decided to promote water sports in general and sailing in particular. In less than two weeks, they managed to plan and execute a splendid event. We met at 4 p.m. Saturday in La Cruz for a skippers' meeting, cocktails on the beach, and a hosted fish dinner at a local restaurant. The restaurant didn't know that over 100 of us were coming until the first ones arrived! Service was understandably slow, but many pitchers of free margaritas made the wait enjoyable. The race began at 1 p.m. on Sunday with a 'rabbit start', which lengthens the line and theoretically results in a safer start. This was especially appropriate that day as there were 27 mostly non-racing cruisers milling around in 20 knots of wind. We were first across the starting line, but after a two-mile upwind leg, were second at the windward mark. The rest of the race was a lovely six-mile run back to the marina. We were unable to overtake the boat ahead of us, but we steadily increased our lead over the rest of the fleet. Gometra was first, Avatar second and Sharazad, a dockmate from Alameda, third. Besides the 27 yachts that raced, another dozen crews participated on committee boats and press boats or crewed with a racer. We were joined for the weekend by Dick and Teri from Genesis and Karl and Andrea from Cap'n Kidd. The festivities ended with an awards ceremony consisting of a cocktail party and buffet with speeches in Spanish and English, a mariachi band, and folklorico dancers. What a great weekend."

As you can see, it was a far cry from the current Banderas Bay Regattas, but all great events start with baby steps. And today's participants couldn't possibly have a better time than we did. It was just for fun, with very little serious racing apparent. We were fully provisioned, didn't leave our dinghy or anchors at the dock, and didn't even clean the bottom. Perhaps the reason for your mistake concerning the anniversary stems from the letter from Doug and Anne Murray. We do remember Murmur in Mexico, but they weren't at the first regatta in 1991.

In three days, we complete 13 years of cruising - six full-time andseven half-time. We are thinking about tossing in the towel, but we will write more in another letter.

George & Brenda Milum
Avatar, Mull Custom 45
Squaw Valley / Islas las Aves, Venezuela

George and Brenda - We reported that it was the 10th annual Banderas Bay Regatta because that's what we were told by officials and that's what it said on the program and T-shirts. Perhaps somebody counted wrong or missed one of the years. But thanks for setting the record straight.

As for folks not being able to have a better time these days, we're not so sure. Nobody takes the racing that seriously, as the vibe is that everybody is racing with as opposed to against each other. And while some boats remove dinghies or anchors, many sail fully laden for the South Pacific, with dirty bottoms, and with anybody who happens to be around for crew. The Banderas Bay Regatta has terrific group spirit, is free, and the weather conditions and facilities couldn't be more ideal. And if those bunch of young ladies go down the dragon slide into the pool stark naked again after the award's ceremony, what more could a sailor ask for?

Next year's Banderas Bay Regatta will be March 20-23. We'll be there with Profligate, and highly recommend that everyone make plans for being there also.


I got quite a surprise reading the August letter that implored cruisers not to give things like money and clothing to impoverished people in poor countries. 'Man, that sounds just like this guy I used to know', I thought to myself - so I wasn't shocked to see Pascal Cellier's name at the end of the letter. I'm just a little disappointed that the Frenchman's attitude hasn't changed after living in our country for all these years. When I knew him he was a financier in San Francisco's Financial District. This is my reply to him:

"Have another Pernod and chill out. Your Star Trek ideal of the Prime Directive - for you non-Trekkies, it's the 'non-intervention directive' - doesn't hold much credence with me. If you were truly sympathetic to the ideal of helping other countries maintain their culture, you shouldn't have gone to all those foreign countries with us, as your presence would have had an ill effect on them. Face it, I don't think there would be the kind of arts and crafts and other things - such as bars and restaurants - on the islands we visited if they weren't helping the local economy. And I don't remember you eating like a local in those places.

"Your outlook borders on isolationism such as the Japanese once tried. They didn't want any foreign influence on their culture, so they would kill any foreigners. Now look at them, they have bread, cars, phones, televisions, trains, and are part of the world economy - yet they remain uniquely Japanese. Heck, most of them still don't even use forks. There are still men and women who grow rice, fish, weave, and attend to the traditional things that make up their culture - including flying kites, origami, sumo, judo, karate, and the parading of a 20+ foot tall phallus in one celebration. Yeah, one of my Japanese friends did flake out on the 400-year-old family business of brewing sake to get an MBA, but where did his family send him? You got it, the United States. But after he got his MBA, he returned home and put his knowledge to work to ensure that his family and their traditions will continue to exist for several more centuries.

Having said that, I take extreme umbrage with your five-cent psychoanalysis, chastising us Americans for somehow acting paternal out of an innate superiority complex driven by some "underlying racism." Screw you! Had that purported American attitude existed towards your native country during the two world wars, you might not have been here to enjoy the benefits of living in the United States for all this time.

Perhaps you need to talk to some of the previous generations back in France before you continue with that claptrap. If anything, we Americans feel somewhat ill at ease or maybe a little guilty when we come across abject poverty. Perhaps that inspires us to try to help in some little way while we are there. I would rather be known as a generous American than a stingy one, especially when it takes so little to put a smile on the face of a little one.

Further, you demean the efforts that many Americans make to help these people. For example, my sister, while working for an optometrist, used a decade worth of vacations to go to depressed parts of the world to make sure that poor kids got eye glasses so they could see and learn to read. Further, I strenuously disagree with that idea that giving assistance teaches people to be slackers or turn their backs on their heritage. I'd give a thousand pens and books away if I thought it might help those kids in school, and I have no problem buying things from the local merchants and participating in their economy while I'm there. If I'm not mistaken, even France benefits from tourism, and it hasn't seemed to change that culture much. Except, that is, when we Americans and our money stay home.

The bottom line is that while in the military and as a civilian, I've been all over the world, primarily Asia and Central America, where the average population is dirt poor by even the lowest American standards. I can't think of one parent that I met who would not have loved to have one of their family get ahead and make that "ten times" what he/she did, so that his son didn't have to do the same thing for a living. Furthermore, I never saw anyone throwing money or anything else on the ground looking for a photo opportunity of kids fighting for money.

Of course, what would Pascal think if we the United States had, during the beginning of both world wars, behaved the way he recommends we individuals do. What would have happened if we Americans had refused to help anyone, anywhere, any time, and had been the ultimate spectators? Would Pascal have recommended that we stood back and watched while country after country was overrun by crazed dictators? While people were being massacred by the millions? While the infrastructure was being destroyed and there wasn't any food or medicine? Maybe France should have called somebody who cared, not the United States. We're already paying the bill for the last century with people trying to blow our collective asses up. Have another Pernod Pascal, preferably on a trip through the Ardennes Forest.

Steve Romine
San Jose

Steve - Pascal's 'let them to starve to death to preserve their culture' concept is a little off the deep end. We also think Americans are basically very generous. We know we'd be a hell of a lot more generous if the money/food/goods/drugs given to places such as Africa actually went to people in need, as opposed to being hijacked by corrupt dictators to further their grip on power.

Fortunately, we've got a couple of nieces who aren't so cynical. Despite having grown up in Belvedere, they spent part of their high school summers digging latrines in the poorer parts of countries such as the Dominican Republic and Mexico, and have continued to work on other health projects in impoverished countries during breaks from their university studies.

On the other hand, there are plenty of times and places where it would seem that Cellier's warning that merely giving cash to the impoverished has contributed to the destruction of countless lives and cultures. In fact, one need look no further than downtown San Francisco, where a strong argument can be made that misguided compassion has been the critical force in the destruction of tens of thousands of lives - to say nothing of a once magnificent city.

We don't think there are any simple answers about what to give or even where to visit. It has to be made on a case by case basis, operating on the best information available. Who ever would have thought travelling and small-time philanthropy could be so difficult?


I thought Jim Quanci's response to Gary Jobson/Peter Isler's Sailing World column - which didn't mention the fact that Capt. Jamie Boeckel, who was lost overboard from the boat on which they were sailing - was spot on. I submit that Jobson/Isler weren't wagging the finger too much because the finger is actually wagging at them.

There are two other issues here. First, the sea treats everyone the same, no matter if they are professional crew on a gold-plated yacht or a nobody such as myself. Secondly, the ultimate responsibility of this accident lies not with the owner, Jobson, or Isler, but with Mr. Boeckel himself. He paid his money and he took his chances - just like the rest of us.

Jack G. Clayton
Virginia Beach, Virginia


A little over three years ago, I had an incident that was very similar to the one reported by Louk Wijsen. I keep a detailed ship's log, and below is exactly how I wrote it down three years ago, while motoring from Pittsburg Marina to Richmond's Marina Bay Yacht Harbor. It was aboard my previous boat, a Catalina/Morgan 45:  

"Sunday May 30, 1999.

"Had an incident in San Pablo Bay with the tugboat Titan at approximately 1900 local. Noticed Titan approaching from about 1.5 NM off my starboard bow. Her course eventually appeared to be crossing my course from my starboard to port. With Titan about .5 NM away, I altered course about 20° to starboard to make an obvious gesture, and so that we would pass port to port. Titan appeared to alter her course to her port, having all appearances of now being on a collision course. I altered course again, another 20° to 30° to starboard. Titan then altered her course again to maintain an apparent collision course. Titan appeared to be running me down! 

"I then altered course to my starboard so that my final course was now 90° to Titan's. At a distance of about 30 to 40 yards, Titan finally veered to her starboard, the skipper waving his hands, as if he were angry with me. I don't understand it. I was never in a position of being a danger to Titan. I cannot explain the reasons for the skipper's actions."

Immediately following the incident, I called the Coast Guard Group San Francisco on VHF channel 16. We then moved off to channel 22, where I reported the incident. I was then asked to call the Coast Guard at 510-437-3073 where I again reported the incident. My location at the time was approximately 38° 02.391, N, 122° 19.758, W. I have kept a copy of my track in the Cap'n track files.

As with Mr. Wijsen, I was outside of the marked channel, as I routinely cut the corner when traveling between Carquinez and The Brothers. There was no other traffic in the area, and absolutely no reason whatsoever for the tug to maneuver that close to my boat.

Ed Johnson
Dakota, Hunter Passage 42
San Francisco

Ed - Given that you recorded the incident as it was happening, we find it very difficult to doubt you. Perhaps some of the skippers of tugs aren't quite as professional as we thought. If there are many more reports such as yours and Wijsen's, perhaps the tugs need to paint big "How's My Driving? Call 1-800-987-6543" on the sides of their stacks.


In response to your request for info on tug skippers possibly making trouble, I can also say that I've never had a less than professional experience when encountering a tug in the bay. I have sailed both the Chesapeake and San Francisco Bays with no bad experiences. My most recent encounter happened last fall when sailing with a great friend/teacher/sailor, Mike Joyce off of Alcatraz. We were on a starboard tack heading toward The Rock when approached by a Foss tug. Following the rules of tonnage, we were about to change course when the skipper of the tug changed course around us without a word. We waived thanks to the tug and continued on.

We need to give the big guys a wide berth, or else it's kinda like cutting off a semi with a Pinto!  

Joe Mihalick
Boatless in Manteca


Having had the fortune to sail the west coast of Mexico for three winters whetted my appetite to explore the Caribbean. Acting upon that silly notion two years ago, a couple of friends of mine trucked my boat to Florida and we sailed to Cuba. It was absolutely great, as many of your readers and Latitude had attested.

Now that my boat is residing in the Florida Keys, some of my crew and myself are wanting to do some of the fun races in the Caribbean - such as the Pineapple Cup, Antigua Sailing Week, and so on. My boat is a Doug Peterson 38-ft fractional rig racing boat, which is both a great performer and fun to sail. My issues are that I am just a regular sailor, meaning I don't have deep pockets. Therefore, we'll either have to do it on a cost-shared basis or charter the boat out for some races to be able to keep up with expenses. Having done neither before, I'm looking for ideas/data/experiences from sailors who have had racing charter experience, either chartering their own boats or bare boat chartering other boats.

The most difficult issue I am facing is coming up with reliable numbers to tell my friends or interested parties how much they should have to expect to pitch in. I would welcome any advise from your readers, as well as the venerable Wanderer in this regard. The replies can either be a letter in Latitude or to me at utkans at

Utkan Salman
Brown Sugar, Peterson 38

Utkan - We have fond and humorous memories of Brown Sugar, as she was born at about the same time as Latitude. In fact, we were at the Ala Wai in '79 when she finished first in Class D of the TransPac. The owner had a little problem getting the crew to pack a chute, because one of the crew - who has gone on to enormous success in the racing world - had been sitting on the bow pulpit taking a last dump of the race when the chute collapsed and swept across his bottom. The result was a noticeable brown streak on Brown Sugar's chute that nobody wanted to go near. And who could forget the Big Boat Series protest in which the boat's owner, furious about coming out on the short end of a protest, dashed across the club to put a choke hold on the opposing skipper. Those memories get better with every passing year.

Where were we? Oh yeah, financing a racing program in the Caribbean. It's impossible to say how much it would cost because you haven't told us anything about the boat or what you have in mind. How grand prix are you going to race? Will you need any new sails, and what kind? Are you going to sail the boat to the Caribbean and back yourself, or will you have it shipped or delivered by a professional? Are you willing to pick up most of the expenses, or are you hoping to split all costs evenly? How good a racing record do you have? How affluent are your friends?

Off the top of our heads, we'd suggest a three event circuit, starting with the Heineken Regatta in early March, the BVI Spring Regatta in SSS, and topping it off with Antigua Sailing Week starting at the end of April. The prospects of chartering your boat to someone other than a close friend for one of the events is probably nil, as your boat is an unknown quantity in that part of the world and probably not optimized for the Caribbean Handicap System. It doesn't help that a 38-footer is a little small for many people to sleep on, so there would also be hotel bills for at least some of the co-charterers. Worst of all, folks who just show up can usually get rides - plus the usual crew swag - for free.

We wish we could paint a rosier picture for you, but we'd think we've be misleading you.


I'm just back in Smogville after another Big Boat Series delivery. While suffering the usual boat-partum-ocean-separation anxiety, I'm also suffering from another form of confusion. Maybe those people in the red-roofed building just downwind of Crissy Field can clear it up by answering one simple question: Who are you and what have you done with 'Frank's House of Hospitality'?

For four of the last five years, I have taken a boat from Southern California up to the Bay for the Big Boat Series. The trip north is generally cursed. Headwinds, steep waves, fog, and mechanical problems combine and take their toll. I have been creamed at Conception, pureed at Point Sur. But by far the biggest hurdle, the one which generates nightmares year after year, has been pulling into the guest docks at the St. Francis YC. For three of the last five years, I have been treated like a redheaded stepchild. To say that the welcome was not warm would be an understatement. It's sort of as though I've been a softwhite fur baby seal with big eyes and they have been men in boots with bats. The crew and I even had a pet name for the facility: Frank's House of Hospitality.

So this year, after spending the last 20 hours changing filters and swallowing diesel - contaminated fuel tanks suck - all I wanted from the St. Francis YC was a safe place to tie up, a hot shower, and a few hours sleep. From my previous experiences at Frank's House of Hospitality, I knew not to get my hopes up. And wow, was I surprised!

Patrick, the dockmaster, was incredibly helpful and accommodating. And the people inside the club couldn't have been nicer or more professional. To say that the welcome was warm would be an overstatement. But let's put it this way: it's as though I were a baby seal with soft white fur covered in stinking diesel which made my eyes red, and they were Greenpeace. Nice.

To everyone at the St. Francis YC, thank you. I know it's not in your job description to make us delivery guys feel at home. Nor should it be. Year after year you all go above and beyond just to pull off the Big Boat Series. This year you went even further. Again, thanks.

One problem, though. What am I going to call that place now?

Thornton Reese
San Pedro


Although I've never filed a claim with either, after one year an American insurer, and then a British insurer, cancelled coverage on my Cal 36 based in San Carlos. The boat surveyed fine two years ago and is in good condition.

Do American-owned boats based in Mexico use Mexican insurance companies? Is the problem with the age of my boat or her location - or both? We use the boat for cruising in the Sea of Cortez and had coverage for as far south as Puerto Vallarta.

Ralph Deeds
Birmingham, Michigan

Ralph - It's been a few years, but we know some boats in San Carlos damaged by hurricane Ernesto had Mexican insurance, and mostly felt their claims were handled fairly. Anybody else have any experience?

We can't imagine that either your boat or her location is a problem. It's just that insurance companies drop out of markets from time to time for a variety of reasons. September 11, believe it or not, was probably one of them.

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

Subscriptions / Classifieds / 'Lectronic Latitude / Home

© 2002 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.