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In the November issue, you asked about folks who started long passages with less than $11. One morning in 1986, Sandra and I were sitting in the cockpit of Aura, our Lidgard 46 ketch, when a familiar 24-ft sailboat with a green 'eye' sailed into the anchorage at La Paz. Before heading south, we had lived at Oyster Cove Marina near South San Francisco for a few months, which is where we came to know the Scandinavian couple on the small boat. Our friends sailed up to us and asked about check-in procedures. We told them that unless they wanted to pay overtime fees, they should drop there quarantine flag, come over and have some coffee after they got settled, and not check in until Monday.

When we knew them at Oyster Point, they had been doing odd jobs around the marina. We figured they had managed to put away a few bucks for their cruising kitty. Not so, as they told us they sailed nonstop from San Francisco to La Paz with just one chart and just $10 in their pockets! After checking in on Monday, they picked up food for the next leg of their voyage back to Sweden. They had gotten a great deal on beef hearts, and planned on canning them. In partial deference to their budget, we declined an invitation to dinner.

Regarding the 'fake' photo with three waterspouts, I should report that waterspouts are not uncommon here in the Bay of Panama. In fact, the local papers run a photo of a trompeta about once a year. While day sailing out of Balboa YC about four years ago, I saw three waterspouts. None of them reached all the way down to the water, however, and I didn't get any photos.

Dave Wilson

Dave - In the late '80s, Pat Henry left Santa Cruz aboard her Southern Cross 31 - aptly named Southern Cross - and eventually became the first - depending on how you define it - American woman to sail around the world singlehanded. In the pages of By The Grace Of The Sea, her newly-released book about the adventure, Henry writes that she often arrived in a new port with less than $10, and never had so much as a bank account, credit card, or trust fund to fall back on. She felt she had a richer and more meaningful experience for having had to do it that way.


In the November issue, there were several letters about having pets on boats.

In their letter, the Mahers asked why people keep dogs on boats. They do it for the same reason that people keep cats on boats - companionship. In my case, it was unintentional. While living aboard, I was presented with a small fuzzy black dog by an old girlfriend. I really didn't want a dog just then, but you know how it goes - they wiggle into your life and the next thing you know you're hooked. Mine is half chow and half god-knows-what. I had to name him after something black on my boat, and as nothing really grabbed me - winch, shackle, stove pipe - I looked down into my cup of coffee and came up with 'Joe'.

Joe is now four years old and weighs about 60 pounds. He's quiet, doesn't bark, and loves to go everywhere with me. Really, he insists. He sails on my Cal 20, my Pelican, Alma, the scow schooner at the San Francisco Maritime Museum - which is my day job - and anything else I go out on. Trial and error has taught him to head below and out of the way when things get messy with sheets and halyards. He will come out when things have settled down, and enjoy the sail. I tie him up when I'm not paying attention, so he won't wander off. He's done this in the past, and it's a pain. If I don't want him near the gunnels, I adjust the leash so he can't hang himself by going over the side, and I never tie him with a choke collar. A harness that fits snug is best. When at dockside, a leash on the winch works well. He's figured out how not to tangle himself up.

As is the case with kids, you have to train your dog to be a good shipmate. A schedule helps and Joe knows when it's time to go ashore to do his business and just where it belongs. He doesn't poop on the docks, sidewalks, or other places people walk. I don't know how he figured this out, but he did. He will not soil the deck unless he has no other option.

Jennifer Erickson wrote to ask about the advisability of having cats aboard. Cats are great boat pets, and she can back off on worrying. Cats can take care of themselves for extended periods of time, which is why they make great boat pets. If they want our help, they'll ask. Otherwise, you can't find them for love or money. I have an orange tabby named Stretch, who I found as a stray kitten down at a Redwood City marina. Actually she found me. Once again, I didn't want a cat just then, but this cute little fuzz ball just wouldn't leave me alone. She jumped in the truck when I was leaving, and that was pretty much that. I looked for 'lost cat' posters for a while but didn't see any, so she became mine.

Cats love sailboats, as there are all those lines to play with, places to prowl around, and cozy corners to curl up in. In fact, boats are cat heaven. The only problem I've had with Stretch is she likes to visit other boats in the marina. This has led to getting her out of a few abandoned boats and cleaning a dodger. Once I noticed that she wasn't using her litter box, and on investigating found she was making deposits on a neighbor's covers. That wasn't good, so I moved her to Alma. I'd had a cat on there before, so a new one was no problem.

Stretch sails with Joe - they get along well - and I everywhere on the Bay. She usually finds a hole to curl up in while we're sailing and then comes out when we moor up. When we go to places and open Alma to visitors, people always ask if I "still have that cat and the dog." It's great public relations.

If anybody wants to have a pet aboard, it takes a little adjustment and some common sense - which I know can be in short supply - as well as common courtesy to one's neighbors and the animal in question. Regular vet visits and anti-flea medication are a requirement. Later.

Al Lutz
Alma, Scow Schooner
San Francisco


I'd like to talk about fog. On the afternoon of October 20, I was listening to channels 16 and 14, 22A and 13 - I have two VHFs - as I was sailing around the Oakland Estuary alone. I heard a couple on a boat contact the Coast Guard to help them find out where they were, as they were outside the Gate, coming north, but lost in the fog. They did have a radar, but it wasn't working. After seeing surfers, the couple decided to head out on a course of 330°. The Coasties asked them how deep the water was, but they either didn't have a fathometer or it wasn't working.

The Coast Guard and Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) got the people to stop so that VTS could determine which blip they were. It was hoped that the ship California Statesman would see the lost boat as she came in the channel, but they reported seeing no sailing vessels. So the Coasties finally dispatched a small boat to look for the lost boat. After having them do countdowns on the VHF, the rescue boat was able to locate them - despite just 150 feet of visibility - using a radio direction finder. The couple had probably sailed into the Ocean Beach surf zone off Taraval Street, a common surf spot that had surfable waves all that day. If there had been an outside set, the boat probably would have been driven onto the beach. I live in Pacifica, and I have lots of teak and mahogany in my backyard from boats that have washed up on the beach where I live.

While all this was going on, another boat coming down to the Gate from Bolinas via the inside channel called to report that they were also lost in the fog. The last thing they'd seen was a big rock with lots of bird poop. The Coasties figured it was Bird Rock. After about 15 minutes of trying to figure out their position, the sailboat Canada Goose located the lost vessel and guided them into the Gate. On the way in the Gate, the Canada Goose found a kite-boarding kite floating in the water. They called the Coasties, who said they'd rescued the kite-boarder earlier, and that he had gone home. They asked Canada Goose to recover the kite, which was a hazard to navigation, and gave them the boarder's phone number.

As if all this weren't enough, another sailboat reported that they were somewhere near the main shipping channel but lost in the fog also. They were located by the tug Savannah, which guided them in.

It's hard to believe, but all these incidents took place in a two-hour period. The Coasties did a great job, but it must be really annoying to them that recreational mariners could be so irresponsible on such a regularly foggy coast. Didn't these boats have a GPS or two? Having grown up within a few blocks of the ocean, I know about various types of fog. On that day, it got very low down on the water in the afternoon due to an upper level low that compressed the marine layer.

New subject. A few people have written Latitude asking how to be certain their inflatable vests will hold air in the event they are needed. My solution to this is to keep my vest partially - about 10% - inflated using the oral tube. Then I give it a good hug every time I see it on the boat. I had an inflatable that the Navy issues for deck crew on aircraft carriers. After about a year or so, a seam in the air bladder gave out. I learned about it through the 'squeeze' method.

My wife recently purchased the most popular inflatable vest, so I decided to test it a bit. The instructions noted that the CO2 would leak out slowly through the bladder. We inflated it with the CO2 manual cord, and after 2.5 days found that it was damn near empty! I suppose that if a person were unconscious in the water that long, it wouldn't much matter. So topping off the bladder with the oral tube would be necessary for long term survival in warm water. In any event, the vest stayed nearly 100% inflated for two weeks with air from the oral tube.

By the way, I have noted that the oral tube is easy to use on some vests and hard to use on others. A friend had one I couldn't get to deflate without a small pin to push the check valve down. The more popular brand deflates through the tube easily, an important factor if you ever want to test the vest.

Jeff Varner
Ranger 28, Full Circle

Jeff - Given the redundancy of today's reliable and inexpensive navigation aids - GPS, radar, and fathometer - it's hard to believe that anybody can get lost on the California coast. It would be just fine with us if the Coast Guard fined every boat that got lost $250 - the cost of a very good GPS.

For those who didn't grow up near the ocean in Northern California, fall and winter are the most frequent times of year when the fog gets thick as whipped cream while sitting right down on the water. This is as true in the Bay as out on the ocean, so be prepared.


We in Puerto Vallarta have been moved by the outpouring of emotion and concern for our well-being after Hurricane Kenna, that we wish to thank everyone. However, I'm been surprised by what some of you have been telling us about the news reports. In response to some of the exaggeration about the damage caused by the fringe of the hurricane, here are some details:

1) Puerto Vallarta sustained damage along a stretch of beachfront between the Malecon and the Hotel Zone. The dollar damage will be substantial, as the value of the coastal property is some of the highest in Mexico. But relatively speaking, the number of properties affected has been very small. The day after the hurricane, the Weather Channel reported that 95% of Vallarta remained virtually unaffected.

2) Not one death was reported in Puerto Vallarta as a result of the storm. This is not only a testament to the efficiency of emergency and rescue crews along the coast of the Bay of Banderas, but also further evidence that the hillside and flatland communities of this beautiful jungle town were mostly untouched. I did lose the treasured bugambilia tree in my front yard, however not one roof tile is out of place and there is no evidence of water damage. In fact, it was as though there had been no rainfall at all.

3) Many of the first-floor businesses on the Malecon were affected by the storm. However, only two days afterward establishments were already opening for business - including Carlos O'Brian's, which had been damaged but was repaired. PVNet, our Internet service provider, which is located near the Sheraton Hotel, had been flooded, but was 100% operational on the third day after the storm. As I write this, it's only four days after the storm and most Malecon businesses are open once again.

4) Airline service is back to full operating capacity.

5) All roads are open - including the Malecon.     

6) The electricity had been intentionally turned off to most, if not all, of the city to avert any unwarranted damage or injuries. The service remained off during the storm, but within hours virtually all households and businesses had power again.     

7) Telephone service via Telmex was available during the entire storm. I personally made and received several calls during that time.

8) With the obvious exception of parts of the Malecon and certain beachfront establishments, all the restaurants, clubs and stores are open for business, as is the rest of the town.

9) The geography of Bay of Banderas was a clear factor in Puerto Vallarta not suffering more damage. It is also evidence that we can withstand even the very worst storm that can be imagined. The U.S. National Hurricane Center, whose records go back to 1949, has no record of a hurricane core ever hitting P.V. In addition, it has been reported that no other Category 5 hurricane has swept the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Given the magnitude of this storm, I'd say that Puerto Vallarta fared very well.

While I am not trying to diminish the damage, the fact that a hurricane hit, or that thousands of people in the nearby towns of San Blas, Guayabitos, Tepic, and other northern communities were severely affected by Kenna, I do want to report that Puerto Vallarta is not in as desperate a state as some news agencies reported. Due to the fact that we are a tourist destination and are therefore better known than the towns mentioned above that were more seriously affected, we have received most of the negative press. In reality, if nobody had told you that a hurricane had come through, you'd never have known - other than for a few exceptions.

Wayne Franklin
Puerto Vallarta

Readers - As of November 20, Dick Markie, Harbormaster at Paradise Village, reports that everything is totally functional at Marina Vallarta, Paradise Marina, and Nuevo Vallarta - even though the latter was something of a wreck before the storm. La Cruz was hit hard, but things in Mexico are basic and simple, and the people are resilient. Philo is back in town and his music bar is open, the popular Luna y Sol restaurant is operational, and so are most other businesses. Punta Mita, which was much closer to the eye of the hurricane, had a rough time. But there's not much to the palapa restaurants that were resident there, and they can be rebuilt quickly. As for downtown Puerto Vallarta, the Sheraton and Holiday Inn, both of which were damaged by huge waves, are still closed. Their beaches were also badly damaged. There is also still some visible damage to the Malecon. But overall the city was up and running. All the sailing facilities and services were going full bore, and it was 85° and sunny with a nice sailing breeze.

To set the record straight, Puerto Vallarta wasn't hit by even close to hurricane winds, and perhaps the biggest miracle was that it hardly rained at all. It will be remembered, that it was the severe rains accompanying Hurricane Mitch in Central America that were blamed for more than 25,000 lives lost. It's true that Puerto Vallarta hasn't taken a direct hurricane hit in recorded history, and that the tall mountains to the south would seem to protect her. Nonetheless, to claim that a hurricane couldn't make a direct hit, or that the city couldn't suffer severe loss of life because of extremely heavy rain, is to be in denial. It may not be likely, but it's certainly within the realm of possibility.

As for ourselves, as soon as this issue goes to the printer, we'll be flying down to Puerto Vallarta to enjoy the beautiful weather, water, sailing conditions, and surfing.


Last month's Sightings about the possibility of a Cal 40 one-design class for next year's TransPac prompted me to report that Redhead, Cal 40 hull #17, is on the hard at Nelson's Marine. I surveyed her for one gentleman and consulted for another. They were both interested in buying her and outfitting her for the 2003 TransPac, but for various reasons, neither completed the purchase. If any of the readers of that article would be interested, I believe that she is still for sale. She was advertised on page 57 in the November edition of Latitude.

As for my current latitude, it is 22°N at present, where I'm enjoying showery, windy weather on Kauai, watching the kite boarders from my lanai. Unfortunately, I have to be back in the Bay Area just after Thanksgiving, just in time to pick up the December issue!

Jack Mackinnon, AMS®-SMS
Senior Marine Surveyor
San Lorenzo


As you and your readers are aware, Vava'u, Tonga is one of the places to find humpback whales during the southern hemisphere winter. Inevitably, a small industry of whale watching tour operators grew up around this phenomenon. Also naturally, many of the folks on cruising boats wanted to see these animals closely as well. So, at the height of the season one can easily find a dozen or more vessels chasing whales around the western edge of Vava'u.

My own impression is that the whales don't seem to mind the viewing by cruisers nearly as much as the tour operators do. For their part, the whales simply ignore the boats, or, if annoyed, sound and disappear. The tour operators react differently. Citing potential dangers to swimmers and boats in general, the operators came up with a set of rules, which nicely protected their interests. Fine.

Each morning except Sunday, there is a VHF radio net in Vava'u that provides visiting yachts with good information on weather, where to get stuff fixed, do laundry, have a good meal, and so on. Recently, the visitors also have been treated to a recitation of the whale watching "rules" several times a week. Though not a terrible burden to the visitors, the unremitting repetition got to be just a little annoying. After a few weeks of hearing the rules, one fellow, going under the pseudonym Passing Wind broadcast the following - which your readers might find amusing.

"Guidelines for Sea Cucumber Watching.

1) Unauthorized sea cucumber watching is prohibited. Violators may find themselves attending a real Tongan Feast as the main course.

2) Disruption of the sea cucumber's meditative cycle is also prohibited. You may think that sea cucumbers are merely resting as the Norwegian blue parrot is wont to do, but they are very spiritual creatures and meditate frequently. Divers fortunate enough to get close enough may hear their characteristic mantra: "More kai - more kai."

3) However tempting, poking sea cucumbers is forbidden. These normally docile animals can react violently when provoked. Doubters may wish to view the classic nature film: Revenge Of The Killer Sea Cucumbers. It is not for the squeamish.

4) Under no circumstances should anyone attempt to drive or herd sea cucumbers. The last attempt resulted in a massive stampede, and when they came ashore the crazed sea cucumbers laid waste to several villages. The cries of the injured could be heard for days.

5) A note for our English colleagues. The sea cucumber is not related to the land cucumber. I repeat, the sea cucumber is not related to the land cucumber. So please, put aside any thought of using these wonderful creatures as filling for your dreadful little sandwiches.

Should you have any further questions regarding sea cucumber watching, you may either ask Holly at the Mermaid Restaurant, or pose them during the act of prayer. Either alternative is equally likely to elicit an intelligible response.

Tom Scott
Planet Earth

Tom - If you are 'the' Tom Scott, famous circumnavigator and dry wit, we'd love to get a more detailed update of your life. For if nothing else, it seems as though you've got a terminal case of the cruising disease.


While the September Max Ebb column, The Coast is Clear, presented a number of interesting arguments about overboard discharge, it passed on an excellent opportunity to present the best reason to keep empty beer cans aboard. That is, to deliver them to an aluminum recycling site. I recently saw on a national television news report that San Francisco was mentioned as having one of the most successful municipal recycling programs in the country, and it's a shame that Latitude is not more in touch. To consider the bottom of San Francisco Bay to be the equivalent of a landfill for many materials may be valid, but it does not say much for your regard for the waters you sail in, and many observers may not appreciate the difference between aluminum cans and other containers they have aboard.

If I recall the last lecture I heard on the subject, it takes 1/5 the amount of energy to recycle aluminum compared to refining it from ore, not to mention the environmental impact of mining the ore, and the waste created in the process. The benefits of recycling go far beyond getting it out of your way, or even out of the landfill. It's hard to envision any long term waste management plan that does not include recycling. It was certainly a disappointment to see sailors write a four page column devoted to waste discharge without even mentioning recycling.

Norm Hansen
Highland Beach, Florida

Norm - A couple of clarifications are in order. First, Max Ebb is a column, so the author's views aren't necessarily those of Latitude. Secondly, Max Ebb's columns are usually fictional stories with fictional characters used to illustrate different points of view. If you read the column again, we think you'll see that the recycling option wasn't mentioned simply so that the author could make a clear comparison between the effects of an empty beer can on the bottom of the Bay versus an empty beer can in a landfill. For what it's worth, the author of Max Ebb has been recycling for many years. As for our policy aboard Profligate, nothing goes overboard - even on long trips - except entirely organic items that will decompose relatively quickly. Everything else - even if it could legally be dumped at sea - is brought back to shore.


You ran some photos of the Mariner 35 ketch Freedom aground on the beach at Z-town after Hurricane Julio, and wondered about the story behind it. So we might as well tell you the story of 'Captain Ron' Cantoro of Long Beach.

Four years ago Ron took Freedom from her I-4 slip in Long Beach with plans to sail to Mexico, the Marquesas, and then around the world. Have we ever heard that before? He had a sailing novice young woman to crew with him, and as they passed the marina office his 'ode to Long Beach' was a 10-second bare ass.

The two of them worked their way down to Puerto Vallarta, where they provisioned for a trip to the Marquesas. As Ron told the story to us, he sailed for two weeks and was half way to the Marquesas, when his dinghy - which was being towed on a single line - was lost. He decided that it would be easier to replace the dinghy in Mexico than in the Marquesas, so despite the fact that it was mostly upwind going back, he turned around!

The return trip was very interesting. Twelve long weeks after turning back, they ran into a hurricane. They rode it out by simply going below and shutting the hatch. There were several knockdowns, the last of which threw Ron across the cabin and left him unconscious. His first mate - it was a strictly platonic relationship - thought he was going to die. Since he'd never shown her how to navigate, she thought that she was going to die too. But he came around and they arrived in Barra de Navidad 18 weeks after they'd left Puerto Vallarta. I understand that their landfall was followed by lots of earth kissing, and that the young woman has not been heard from since.

Ron stayed in the marina at Barra de Navidad, then returned to work so he could save up money to buy new sails and such. Then last year Ron asked Millie and I, who are experienced cruisers, to help him take his boat through the Panama Canal. We agreed, and in the middle of November drove down to Barra in Ron's car, pulling a trailer full of supplies and equipment. We stayed with him for about seven weeks, during which time we learned that for various reasons he wasn't going to be able to get the boat ready for a long passage.

We parted company with Ron in January of this year, and moved onto a beautiful Horizon 84 belonging to a wonderful couple that we met in Barra. What a change in status for us! We rented a car for a week to do some touring, and when we got back, we found that Ron had found a woman crewmember at Minerva's in Puerto Vallarta - and had already left for the Canal! Millie and I looked at each other and said almost in unison, "She's gonna jump ship at the first opportunity."

Well, that sounds like what happened. We don't know if Ron had problems with the boat, which is very possible, or with the crew, which is also possible, but it's clear he got no further than Z-town. We have tried to contact his family and have written to a friend of his in Mexico, but to no avail. He left us an emergency phone number at a Seaman's Mail Service in Esmeralda, Florida, which we contacted to get his family's address or phone number. Unfortunately, they said that giving out the numbers and addresses would be violating their security! I guess having one's boat wash up on shore isn't important enough to violate security.

In any event, Captain Ron has left us with a legacy that we will remember each time we enter Z-town.

Dick DeRusha & Millie Warren
Salty Dog
Long Beach

Dick and Millie - Thanks for that report. One can only wonder how differently things might have turned out had Ron just kept going to French Polynesia after losing the dinghy. Having to make the tortuous upwind sail back to Mexico with a Mariner 35 would have been enough to drive a lot of sailors around the bend. In any event, we hate to see the boat destroyed and Ron lose something that clearly still had considerable value.


Here's an edited copy of a letter that I recently sent to the Coast Guard's National Vessel Documentation Center regarding difficulties I'm having with the current system:

"There are two problems I have experienced as a result of having to renew my boat documentation annually. As a cruising sailor, I often don't stay in one place for very long, and quite often don't have an address for my next destination(s). Consequentially, the renewal notice that you send, and which I must sign, frequently chases me about, or must be held by my mail forwarder until I can give him an address. Since the renewal notice is sent out only marginally early enough to be received and returned in an out-of-the-way location, it usually results in me getting in a panic trying to renew my documentation in time to avoid a significant late fee. Then there is the renewal sticker itself, which only rarely arrives before the expiration date of my documentation.

"What follows are two examples of how this renewal policy has made things difficult for me. Two years ago, my mother, who forwarded my mail for me, passed away. Consequently, my boat's notice of renewal was delayed for more than a month, and I ended up having to pay the late fee. More recently, I attempted to check out of Thailand, but because my documentation had expired, I almost was not permitted to leave. In the end, I was allowed to go, but not return - until the documentation was renewed. Fortunately, Malaysia, my next destination, was not so pedantic.

"In any event, I still don't have my renewal, and although I have managed to track it down, won't have it in my hand to sign for another couple of weeks. Brits, Aussies, and Kiwis, aware of my plight, can not believe the hoops I have to jump through on a yearly basis - since their documentation is valid for as long as they own their vessels! This then, is my first question: Is there truly any compelling reason to require cruising sailors to renew their documentation on a yearly basis?

"I expect to leave Southeast Asia in December to cross the Indian Ocean. I'll be passing trough the Andaman Islands, the Maldives, the Chagos Archipelago - where there is no mail service and where I expect to stay for up to four months - and on to the Comoros and Madagascar. I have no address for any of these destinations. Nor do I have any idea where I will be in July/August, when this renewal process is required to run its course. My second question then: Can you please tell me how I might be assured of arriving at one of these destinations with an unexpired documentation certificate, and how I might avoid paying yet another late fee? This is a genuine concern for me, and not just a whine. I'd very much appreciate your suggestions.

"I have sent a copy of this letter to a popular yachting magazine in the hope that it might spark some debate, and perhaps encourage the NVDC to reconsider this requirement.

Scott Bradley
Southeast Asia

Scott - You raise a couple of excellent points. First, would it not save the Coast Guard money, and documented boat owners a hassle, if mariners only had to renew recreational boat documentation once every three, five, or even 10 years? After all, what's sacred about the 365-day time period? Besides, the Coast Guard does all the mailings and administrative work without charging a fee, so it's money they don't recover.

And if for some legitimate reason a multiyear renewal wasn't feasible, couldn't the renewal process get started further in advance of the deadline - particularly for those with boats in foreign waters? We received our notice of renewal for Profligate on October 10. We're human and didn't return it immediately, and then were gone for a couple of weeks while doing the Ha-Ha. We're sure that the Coast Guard will send the renewal sticker back to us before the November 30th deadline, but we'll have already headed south to the boat again. This means we might not be able to clear out of a Mexican port - unless, of course, we bought some blue stickyback paper and created our own 'temporary' renewal sticker until we had time to get the real one to the boat. Making such a 'temporary' sticker would be wrong and illegal, of course, which is why doing it would never so much as cross our minds.

By the way, on the renewal form there's a notice that says, "The Coast Guard estimates that the average burden for this form is five minutes. You may submit any comments concerning the accuracy of this burden estimate or any other suggestions for reducing the burden to: Office of Management and Budget Paperwork Reduction Project, 2115-0110, Washington, D.C. 20503." We timed our 'burden', and it was 17 seconds. Honest. Nonetheless, we're going to write the Paperwork Reduction Project, because if we only had to do it once every five years, it would save us time, the Coast Guard money, and the earth trees.


Check out, a website put up by a 38-year-old retired dot-commer turned environmentalist and his helicopter pilot wife. They've photographed every mile of the California coast to monitor development, coastal access, and so forth.

P.S. I hope everything went well with the Ha-Ha, I was sorry to miss it for the first time in four years.

Bear Turpin
Oso Loco, Kettenberg 32
Santa Barbara

Bear - We think the site is great, for the shots of places such as Newport Beach offer a powerful 'one photo is worth a thousand words' evidence that housing, not boats, are the real threat to the environmental health of the California coast.


If I hadn't canceled my subscription to the San Francisco Chronicle when Herb Caen passed to his reward above Sackamenna, I certainly would have after reading Julian Guthrie's piece of garbage regarding the relationship between the Golden Gate YC and Oracle BMW Racing. Maybe she was trying to be cutesy.

I have been a St. Francis YC member for 20 years, but some of my best boating memories are centered on the Golden Gate YC. After all, who can forget the Wednesday night Folkboat beer can races and Manny Fagundes' feeds after the races? There were as many St. Francis members packed in the old barge as members of the Golden Gate YC. The reporter characterizing one club as elitist and the other as "scruffy" does both clubs, and yachting in general, a real disservice.

Ron Killian
'S Mine, Catalina 310
Long Beach / Born And Bred In San Francisco

Ron - It's obvious that Guthrie isn't very familiar with yacht clubs - and like the general public assumes that most look like the St. Francis. So by describing the Golden Gate YC's very pleasant clubhouse as "scruffy," she's missing the mark.

Her description of the St. Francis as "elitist" isn't accurate either. Yes, the St. Francis is clearly one of the top-end yacht clubs in the United States, and is not for paupers. But what Guthrie failed to mention is that the St. Francis also functions as sort of a regional yacht club, to which just about everybody who races on San Francisco Bay is a nonpaying 'member'. The club has the location and the means to be of great service to many regular sailors in the area, and has been generous with both. In addition, the St. Francis also has a long history of nurturing and supporting talented young sailors - Paul Cayard is just one example - no matter what their background. For the record, we are not and never have been a member of that club.

Other than the selection of those two unfortunate adjectives, we thought Guthrie's article was overwhelmingly accurate and portrayed everyone in a favorable light. The Golden Gate came off as 'the little club that could', with a bunch of regular folks as members. Larry Ellison came off as a billionaire who isn't embarrassed to have invested $85 million in an effort in the name of a modest yacht club. And the St. Francis YC came off as magnanimous, for then Commodore Steve Taft said that while the club was disappointed that Oracle BMW wasn't sailing for them, they were happy for the syndicate's success and "would do anything" to help the Golden Gate YC host an America's Cup. Indeed, if Oracle BMW were to win the America's Cup, we have a sneaking suspicion that both clubs might work together to host it.

Guthrie, incidentally, is the author of The Billionaire And The Mechanic, an article in the October 2002 issue of San Francisco Magazine about how Oracle BMW came to sail for the Golden Gate YC rather than the St. Francis. It's not only well written, but is filled with some terrific insider information courtesy of Ellison himself. For example, he told Guthrie that Dickson didn't get to be skipper because he was verbally abusive of the crew and - get this - despite being the most talented skipper anywhere, "freaks under pressure." Ellison says Cayard was sidelined because they didn't "see eye to eye" and because Ellison didn't enjoy sailing with him. If you're interested in the whole Ellison, St. Francis, Golden Gate, America's Cup thing, you'll thoroughly enjoy this article.


On this new year I am planning a sailing kayak tour of the Caribbean islands from Trinidad to Puerto Rico, and if I have time - I have a little more than a month - perhaps Cuba and the Bahamas also. I am very interested in the winds and currents in the area, and whether it would be better for me to go from south to north or north to south. I plan to cross between most islands on my kayak, but in some places - such as Trinidad to Grenada, and Anguilla to the British Virgins - I will take a ferry. Do you have any information about ferry connections?

Matjaz Prosen
Planet Earth

Matjaz - On the surface, it sounds like great fun. Unfortunately, even if you were the world's greatest kayaker, there are some major problems. First of all, it's about 900 miles from Trinidad to Puerto Rico via the other islands, which means you'd have to cover 30 miles a day. Perhaps a good kayaker can cover 30 miles a day for a month in good conditions, but it's not going to happen on this route because it's often very windy and rough in the Caribbean. This is never more likely to be true than early in the year when the Christmas Trades usually blow. Day after day of 25 or more knots is not uncommon and calms are rare.

It wouldn't be that bad if it were all downwind, but no matter if you go north to south or south to north, it's going to be upwind for the first half. Heading south is absolutely out of the question, however, as there's no way you're going to make it upwind from the Virgins across the notoriously rough Anegada Passage to St. Martin - unless you can paddle upwind into 30 knots of wind and breaking seas for a couple of days. And even if you could, you'd still have to make it 100 miles further upwind to Antigua before you could crack off just a little. Alas, the crescent shape of the string of islands in the Eastern Caribbean means you won't necessarily get off-the-wind conditions going south to north either - at least until you get halfway up the chain. This means that you'd have to start with a nasty 65-mile upwind paddle from Trinidad to Grenada, where it can blow like stink. And that would be just the beginning of the tough stuff. Hopping a ferry would seem like an excellent solution - except there aren't any ferries. Not from the BVIs to St. Martin. Not from Trinidad to Greneda. In fact, even though the islands/countries of the Caribbean are rarely more than 30 miles apart, few have ferries between them.

One doable itinerary would be to take a plane and ferry to the Bitter End YC at Virgin Gorda in the British Virgins. From there, it would be mostly downwind in mostly protected waters through the length of the British Virgins to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgins. If you don't get mugged there and still have some energy, you could try paddling the rest of the way downwind through the so-called 'Spanish Virgins' and maybe even as far as Puerto Rico. It's only about 75 miles in a straight line.

Hold the press. . . Shortly after writing up our skeptical thoughts on your idea, we stumbled across an article in the Caribbean Compass newspaper shortly before going to press which discusses - you guessed it - kayaking in the Eastern Caribbean. You can check out the crew's log at


In your opinion, what is the correct and definitive description of an 'open ocean' category boat? My interest lies in a motorsailer, approximately 50 feet long, rigged for singlehanded operation, but not shoal draft. Could you recommend some used boats of this general description? Would any of these be American made?

I have substantial experience in everything from Newport 20s and Dragons to Kettenbergs and Columbia 50s, and my intent is to cruise for a couple of years, including on the open ocean.

While in Europe, I inspected a Palmer/Johnson, which was incredible, but out of my price range. I also saw a condo/Oyster and a greatly mistreated Hinckley.

Jack Rebney
Planet Earth

Jack - We'd love to assist you in your boat search, but you've given us frightfully little to work with. Let's start with seven basic questions: 1) How much do you want to spend? 2) How old are you and what kind of shape are you in? 3) Where do you intend to cruise? 4) Are you an enthusiastic sailor or do you want a boat mostly for mobile accommodations? 5) Are you interested in a systems-intensive boat and comforts, or would you prefer a more simple and functional boat? 6) What's your mechanical I.Q.? 7) A 50-ft motorsailer is likely to be quite heavy and difficult for a singlehander, why does that size and style appeal to you?

As for our definition of an 'open ocean' boat, it's "a boat 25 feet or more that was professionally designed and built for open ocean sailing." That's a big tent under which a lot of vessels can fit.

By the way, if your "condo/Oyster" comment was meant to be denigrating, it shouldn't have been. Oysters are on the luxurious side of the design spectrum, but they are also fine sailing boats.


I was on a mooring at Fourth of July Cove on Catalina in the middle of October on my just refit and relaunched Horstman 38 trimaran Crossroads, when lo and behold Profligate pulled in a few cans over. I couldn't get you guys to look over for even a 'thumbs up'. Don't I even rate a Bronx salute? I know I'm only a little ol' tri, but don't we multihulls all have to stick together? Jeez.

Thomas Wessels
Crossroads, Horstmann 38

Thomas - We're sorry if you felt snubbed, but both the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca gave you a couple of quick waves. Perhaps you weren't looking.

On most occasions we're sociable with everyone - no matter if their boat is big or small, new or old, monohull or multihull - and we're often happy to give tours of Profligate. In this instance, we had more important priorities: 1) Getting the boat squared away with unfamiliar crew at an unfamiliar mooring near the rocks; 2) Getting the other two boats in our party squared away with the Harbor Patrol and onto nearby moorings; and 3) Getting the boat ready for the arrival of about 20 guests. So we were a little preoccupied. We were also exhausted. Until 2:30 p.m. the previous day we'd been busting our butt on filthy jobs at the Channel Islands Boatyard getting the cat ready for the Ha-Ha. So in the less than 24 hours before we saw you, we'd put the entire boat back together, jammed down to King Harbor for a surprise 40th birthday party, been out until late, and then sailed out to Two Harbors. As you probably noticed, we charged out of Fourth of July Cove early the next morning, as there were the small matters of an imminent Latitude deadline and taking care of the last thousand or so details for the Ha-Ha.

So please give us another try when we're not so busy, and we'd be delighted to chat and trade tours of our respective boats.


Here's a copy of a letter that I sent to the OneWorld Syndicate:

"I feel compelled to write to you to express the very mixed feelings with which I observe your progress in the Louis Vuitton Cup. As a sailor for over 30 years, and one who has followed the America's Cup races with interest for years, and much as I would like to see the Cup returned to our shores, I find myself unable to take any pleasure in your victories. Your possession of confidential information about a competitive syndicate's design and plans has compromised the integrity of your effort fatally. The penalty assessed was not nearly proportional to the crime.

"In my view, your group should have been prohibited from competing at all. You have damaged the entire sport in the eyes of the world. If you win, you will have shown the world only that the people of the United States - and Seattle in particular - are not sportsmen, and can win only by cheating. I do not feel that this is the case, and you have done our country a serious disservice through your ethical lapses. Perhaps along with their financial support, you have also absorbed the ethics of the Microsoft cartel? This is a truly unfortunate state of affairs, and no one associated with your syndicate should feel anything but shame, even if you 'win'. Your pretensions to 'environmentalism' turn my stomach. Your behavior has also discredited the environmental movement, which deserves better.

"As a result of your unethical behavior, if you are the Challenger for the America's Cup, I will be rooting for New Zealand. I don't want the Cup back tainted and stained. Let them keep it until an American syndicate that actually deserves to win can be assembled."

Michael Daley
A Sailor With A Conscience

Michael - It's just wild speculation on our part, but we're thinking you probably enjoyed Oracle BMW's 4-0 win over OneWorld in the Quarter Finals.


I'm planning to bring my Hans Christian 38 back up to the Los Angeles area from Puerto Vallarta in late May and early June of next year, and am looking for any information or experiences. My intention is to take the offshore route so as to avoid the standard Baja Bash. I've done the latter twice on another boat and don't care for a threepeat. If anyone has done the offshore route at that time of year, I'd like to hear from you.

Steve Nash
Hans Christian 38
Puerto Vallarta

Steve - We'll give you three good reasons in three years why nobody should try the offshore route from Puerto Vallarta to Los Angeles in late May. In 2000, there was Hurricane Aletta off the mainland coast with up to 90 knots from May 22 to May 28. In 2001, there was Hurricane Adolph off the mainland coast with up to 125 knots from May 25 to June 2. And in 2002, there was Hurricane Alma off the mainland coast with up to 95 knot winds from May 24 to June 1. Anyone who attempts the offshore route from Puerto Vallarta is going to start off by sailing westsouthwest, which will take them directly across this well documented 'hurricane highway'. It's not quite as risky as darting across an L.A. freeway at rush hour, but it's close. And even the worst Baja Bash is like having a kitty lick your face compared to being caught in a hurricane.

Here are two more reasons why the 'offshore route' wouldn't be good for you in particular. First, the better a boat points, the more the route makes sense. The HC 33 has a lot of nice qualities, but pointing ability is perhaps the least of them. Second, the further north that your ultimate goal lies, the better the offshore option becomes. But since it's only 1,000 miles from P.V. to L.A., it just doesn't make sense to sail 700 miles offshore at a nearly right angle to your ultimate goal. To our knowledge, not a single one of the cruising boats that tried the offshore route last year stuck with it.

Our suggestions: 1) Leave P.V. by mid-May on a traditional Baja Bash. The worst Bash weather is in late March and April when the seasons are changing. By mid to late May, the worst of the weather is usually long gone. In any event, leave yourself time to sit out crappy weather in comfortable anchorages. 2) Or, take the boat up to San Carlos and have her trucked back to L.A.

What do other folks think?


A friend mentioned that there had been an article in Latitude about transporting boats across the narrow part of Mexico in order to avoid having to go through the Panama Canal. I have a boat in Houston that I desperately need transported to the west coast. Do you recall that article, as I'd like to contact the people who wrote it?

Don Madson
Houston, Texas

Don - We recall the article, which was written about 20 years ago. The gist was that it was a completely 'custom' arrangement and that it didn't go very well. It would have helped if you mentioned what kind of boat you're talking about, but when it comes to getting a boat from Houston to the West Coast of the United States quickly, the only way is by truck. And some mighty big boats can be trucked. Later this year, for example, the 86-ft Zephyrus V is going to be trucked across country to South Carolina!


I bought a 7-ft Fatty Knees dinghy, built in 1983, with a sail kit and outboard. She's in good shape and I've had a blast sailing her around the marina.

Using common sense, I set up the mast, boom, tiller, daggerboard, and rigging, and got her to sail, but I'm not sure I have the sheet led exactly the way it's supposed to be. While I have the original advertising brochure, none of the numbers are good anymore, and I suspect the Fatty Knees is no longer in production. I've also tried the Internet, but struck out. Do you know of anyone who has the rigging instructions for the sail kit?

John Hudson
Planet Earth

John - The Fatty Knees Dinghy was designed by Lyle Hess, who is famous for - among other things - designing the Pardeys' two cruising boats. About 1,800 Fatty Knees have been built, many of them by Edey & Duff Ltd. of Mattapoisett, MA. You can still get them in 7, 8, or 9 foot models. Edey & Duff have built 1,200 boats since they opened back in the '60s and we love their motto: "Build one boat at a time, use the best materials, the finest craftsmanship, and pay close attention to detail."

Anyway, something must be wrong with your computer, for by using on Netscape, we banged in 'Fatty Knees Sailing Dinghy' and got everything anyone could possibly want to know about them from the Edey & Duff site, including a photo that pretty well shows how to rig the mainsheet.


I'm trying to find a hands-on class to learn celestial navigation. I don't have a lot of money, so I'm trying to find a nonprofit group such as the Coast Guard Auxiliary that might teach such a skill.

Randy Ramirez
Santa Rosa

Randy - Due to the popularity of GPS units, the number of celestial classes has plummeted. We bet there are a bunch of guys around who'd teach you for free just to keep the skill alive. Unfortunately, we don't know who they are. Check also with the Bay Area sailing schools who advertise in these pages.


I would like to respond to two letters in the November 2002 issue. First, in response to the Maher family's question about whether they should have kept the dog that nearly hung itself from a boat in Clipper Cove, I say yes, they should have. Anyone who is so careless as to leave a pet of any kind, anywhere, anytime, which has the potential of hanging itself, does not deserve the privilege of the unconditional companionship provided by a pet.

In answer to the question of why people have dogs on boats, I say it's not more unnatural for a dog to be living on the water than a human. We humans also evolved away from the water environment sometime ago, but can't seem to shake the desire to be near/on it. Our two golden retrievers have been weekend sailors all their lives, and absolutely love it! They love being on the boat, the fresh air, barking at dolphins, orcas, gray whales and such, and just being with us. Our dogs have life jackets and are used to being on a tether and jackline while at sea. They are left in the cabin when the human crew is off visiting non-dog friendly boats. I would quit sailing if I couldn't take my dogs with me!

The second letter I would like to respond to was from Jennifer Erickson of Aventura. In my limited experience and observations, some cats - like humans - never adapt to the motion of being on a boat. Some can't even adapt to being in a car. Other cats can become quite comfortable with the boating life. We have several friends whose cats are regular members of their crews and wouldn't think of leaving them at a shoreside home even if they had them. As to what to do with the cats when sailing, I think they should be left to determine where they want to be. If you treat them like just another crewmember and provide for their needs accordingly, they'll be welcome members of your boating family.

Jeff Hubbell
Storm Petrel
Winchester Bay, Oregon


I'd like to comment on Ralph Deed's November letter to the editor about not being able to get insurance for his Cal 36 in Mexico, and the editor's reply.

Deeds wrote that he hasn't had an insurance claim, and infers that he has had trouble finding an American (USA) insurance company to insure his boat in Mexico. I am baffled by his letter, as it flies in the face of my recent experience with him. First, Deeds recently received an offer from us to write his insurance - in spite of the two claims he reported to us at the time we offered him coverage. The offer of coverage was with an American insurance company - also in spite of the fact that he reported that his boat was for sale and the policy might be canceled prematurely.

As for the editor's response, I was a little taken aback that you do not appear to be aware that at least two of your advertisers offer the coverage that Deeds was seeking. We are one of the brokerages offering Mexico and worldwide coverage for over 15 years, and have never had an interruption of service in Mexico or anywhere else in the world.

Mike Barnett
Blue Water Insurance
San Diego

Mike - We can't speak for Deeds, but with regard to our editorial reply, we think you read something into it that wasn't there. Our first statement was, "We can't imagine that either your [Deeds] boat or her location is a problem" - which we thought clearly expressed our belief that there was no reason why he shouldn't be able to get an American company to insure his boat in Mexico. Our second statement, "It's just that insurance companies drop out of markets from time to time," was meant to explain why his previous policies might have been cancelled.

To clarify, American companies do offer insurance for cruising in Mexico and other parts of the world. We apologize if we confused anyone.


I'm writing about the Delta sheriff's patrolman who threatened to cite people who were riding on the tubes of their inflatables. The Coast Guard has jurisdiction over all navigable waterways, which means they oversee white water rafting programs. In 25 years of running rivers, I have never seen any raft being paddled down a river where the paddlers did not sit on what the sheriff's deputy wants to call 'gunwales'.

In the '80s, a feature - toe cups - appeared on paddled white water rafts that might make sense for yacht dinghies. These consist of a half cone of material similar to what is used for the tubes, which is sewn to the floor at a slight angle allowing the gunwale rider to hook a toe into it. The cone shape is too small to allow the foot to extend out past the end, which allows for quick egress if the boat turns turtle. Over the years I have fallen out of many paddle rafts and lived to tell about it, but now I use these toe cups on my boat all the time. One toe cup per passenger would be enough, which means maybe four to six cups on a 12-ft inflatable. There are always ways to make things better, and this one is also cheap.

Charlie Snyder
Ericson 35
Oyster Point

Charlie - It seems to us that if the passengers in an inflatable need footstraps - in addition to the normal handholds - to keep themselves inside the dinghy, the driver is operating it at a negligently fast speed. We've driven countless types of dinghies in lots of different conditions over the past 20 years, and don't see the need for either prohibiting sitting on the tubes or footstraps. We do, however, see a need for responsible operation. Does anyone have any firsthand experience that would argue against our point of view?


I really appreciated your May issue article about the long and interesting history of the mega sailing vessel Phocea. I think it would be interesting to know what has become of other famous and infamous big racing yachts - such as Michael Fay's KZ1 that he entered in the '88 America's Cup in San Diego and other such vessels.

Ricardo Escovedo
Planet Earth

Ricardo - Thanks for the feedback. We'll keep our eye out for other such famous sailing yachts with interesting histories. As for KZ1, she had a rather banal life after those few America's Cup races, spending most of her time atop a pedestal on the Auckland waterfront.


Will adventures never end? I hope not. I would like to inform you and your readers that around February 20 of next year, I will be bringing a 68-ft Formosa ketch from Virginia via the Panama Canal to her new home on the Southern California coast. The purpose of the trip is to deliver the boat to California for what I expect will be frequent trips to explore the lovely Channel Islands, but also to enjoy the delivery.

The current itinerary is to depart Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, on February 20, and arrive in California by May 2. We are planning one Caribbean stop and at least three stops along the coast of Central America and Mexico. After fueling and provisioning at each stop, we plan to take a few days to enjoy the sights.

This ketch has done a couple of transpacific voyages, extensive Caribbean cruising, and has sailed the East Coast of the United States. She has just completed a major refit and is seaworthy. If any Latitude reader would like to join in on a leg or several legs of the trip, they can contact me for the particulars. Everyone will be required to pay their own expenses to and from the boat. Potential crew might use this trip as a 'feeler' for open ocean sailing, documented hours toward getting a Coast Guard license, or for old fashioned fun sailing on the open ocean.

Interested parties should write me for more information at 3700 Peninsula Rd., Oxnard, CA 93035. I can also be reached at (805) 382-9916 or on my cell (805) 857-1344.

Paul Bick

Paul - Here's to adventure - and putting together a happy crew!


I'm sorry to bother you, but I need some help. In February of this year I purchased a 1981 Cheoy Lee sloop, but I got gypped because I was not told the truth about it. I now find that I have dry rot going about 10 inches up from the base of the hollow wood mast. I'm hoping that you can put me in touch with someone who could give me some advice on what to do to repair it. I have tried calling the dealer, but without any success. I'm currently in Barra de Navidad, Mexico, hoping that you can help.

Fred Plews
Barra de Navidad

Fred - According to Warwick 'Commodore' Tompkins, who has been crossing oceans on wooden boats for more than 65 years, if the dry rot is limited to the bottom 10 inches of the mast, you're in luck. After cutting off the bottom 10 inches, you can simply make a solid new bottom 10 inches - almost any decent wood will do - and glass it to what's left of the mast. Compression won't be a problem, and there are minimal side loads down that low. Now that the cruising season has started, there are sure to be some shipwrights sailing through who can further advise you.

By the way, you had the boat surveyed before you bought her, didn't you? What does the surveyor say?


Here's the latest news from the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu. On October 5, I took a photo of a liveaboard boat - the owner was there at the time - on the newly rebuilt G Dock. The sign reads 'Bikes For Sale'. Although judging from the bikes in the photo, we'd expect that one's 'actual mileage may vary'.

G-dock has been rebuilt for at least a month, but as of October 5 still didn't have power. According to the Harbormaster, "The engineers have not yet approved the installation." The berther's translation is: "The #!!$*!!! power still doesn't work!" It's hard for me to imagine that a private marina operator would not have power on rebuilt slips more than a month after they were occupied - for fear of noncollectible rent. But then the Ala Wai is state-run.

When I spoke with the Harbormaster, she suggested that she didn't think the marina would stay in the state's hands much longer: "I don't think we'll be here by the new year. I don't want to give up my (state) security, so I'll probably put in for a transfer within DLNR (Department of Land & Natural Resources)."

But it's not over until it's over. During an October 5 hearing on the possible privatization of the yacht harbor, many liveaboards and others expressed predictable reactions to an increase in fees and such. This followed a morning column by Ray Pendleton in the Star-Bulletin that was centered on - and most agreed with - Latitude's belief that the state needs to get out of the marina business.

In the November issue, Richard Nyren of Honolulu doubted the facts I cited in my September letter criticizing the Ala Wai and management of the Ala Wai. I'd like to repeat my criticisms and cite the source of my facts. First, however, I'd like to start with an apology. I had written that berthers at the Ala Wai were subsidized by "hundreds of millions of dollars a year." This was a typo, as I meant to write "millions of dollars a year."

Facts One and Two, were about whether or not Ala Wai docks fell last year and how serious it was. This came from a story in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin that can be found at It reports that one of the concrete bulkhead docks across from the Chart House restaurant fell under the weight of two fishermen in November of 2001. The hole remained there for months.

Fact Three, that crime and the homeless are indeed a big and growing problem in the harbor and adjacent area, meaning Ala Moana Park. This came from another Star-Bulletin story that can be found at Even Fodor's Travel Guide agrees that it's a high crime area after dark.

Fact Four is that I'm not a tourist, but rather live in Honolulu and regularly sail out of the Ala Wai. I don't own a boat there, but I do pay taxes. I keep my boat in a private yacht harbor in Sausalito - where I pay fees higher than are even being contemplated if the Ala Wai does get privatized.

Tim Dick
Honolulu / Sausalito


A friend has one of the popular DownEast 38s that were built in the late '70s. They are a great, stout, ocean capable craft. However, it appears that they built the boat around her water and fuel tanks. My friend's diesel tank has begun to leak, and it appears it's going to be a very costly job to remove and replace the original tank. The saloon deck sole would, apparently, have to be removed and some fiberglass molding cut away. This seems to reflect less than a forward thinking design, which I find hard to believe with an otherwise very nicely built boat. I may, however, be missing some key information needed to solve this dilemma that one of your readers knows about. Do you know where I can get any information, drawings or advice on the replacement of the fuel tank in this particular vessel?

Gary Ivey
Long Beach

Gary - We don't have the information your friend needs, but perhaps one of our readers does. If the folks at DownEast did indeed build the boat around the fuel and water tanks to save time, they weren't the first to do so - nor will they be the last.


We had just crossed the starting line off San Diego for the start of the 9th Annual Baja Ha-Ha and were doing a steady 7 knots and showing off for the photographer in the helicopter hovering overhead when - wham! - the clew of our 130% genoa ripped out. We weren't even a mile into the rally!

Since the 130% is our mainstay for lighter winds, we made an immediate decision to turn back to port to get it repaired. We called a 'sailing 911' on the cell phone to UK Sails in San Diego, which was bought earlier this year by Tom LaFleur. As he'd done the Ha-Ha last year with his Swan 53 Mistress, we knew he would appreciate our situation. As soon as we pulled into the Southwestern YC, the UK gang rivaled the speed of any pit crew. Ray LaFleur, loft manager, pulled up with a van at 1 p.m. and had the sail repaired and back to us by 3 p.m. Forty-five minutes later we were headed out of the harbor to resume the rally.

We spent a year in San Diego after a last minute back problem knocked us out of the last Ha-Ha. During that time we found friendly people and excellent marine services. Nonetheless, UK Sail's service in this instance was over the top.

Sylvia Fox & Michael Fitzgerald
Sabbatical, Maple Leaf 48
San Francisco


I plan on taking my 30-ft sailboat cruising to Mexico, Central America, through the Panama Canal, and up into the Caribbean. I've found that 50 feet of 3/8" chain and 300 feet of 5/8" nylon anchor line has always served me well. I could get 300 feet of chain, which would mean I'd never budge, but it would be a tremendous amount of weight on the bow of my 11,000-lb sailboat. Would you recommend an all-chain rode in the area I plan to cruise, or is line all right?

P.S. For a publication which I find inspirational to male and female sailors, I find the recent discourse on covers to be quite humorous. I especially liked your response to a letter in last month's issue . . . "live, laugh, and love."

Dave Kendig
Santa Cruz

Dave - We generally prefer all chain, but given the size of your boat, the fact that most anchorages between San Diego and the Panama Canal are relatively shallow and free of coral, and our assumption that you probably don't have a windlass, we'd go with the chain and nylon combo. But we'd be religious about inspecting the nylon line for wear. We'd also cut the 300 feet of nylon into (two) 150-foot lengths, then buy 50 more feet of chain, giving yourself (two) 200-foot combo rodes. With all the experience you'll gain on the way to Panama, you'll probably have a firm opinion by then whether or not you'd be better off with all chain. There certainly are lots of anchorages in the Caribbean with coral that can wear through the nylon, but usually you can find alternatives.

You didn't ask, but buy a big-ass anchor for better sleeping at night.


I remember reading a lengthy Latitude article about a local Bay Area couple converting a catamaran from diesel power to electric. They maintained a small 7Kw generator for emergency backup. I believe they replaced fuel tanks with batteries of the same weight and engines with much lighter electric motors, and covered most of the cabintop with solar cells for power generation. I can't remember the couple or boat's name. Will you run a follow-up article on this interesting project?

Bruce Williams

Bruce - We think you're referring to Russ and Suki Muncell of Marin, who bought a 46-ft Brazilian cat in the Caribbean, then sailed her to the East Coast where they refit her and replaced her diesel. At the time of our article, they'd used the system for most of a season and were making significant modifications in an attempt to improve performance. We've not heard from them since, but we'll try to get an update. We're not sure we're on the verge of adequate solar powered propulsion for boats, but it would be terrific if we were.


'Atta girl to Terry Roy for her letter in the November issue standing up for women who are older than 30. She can set up housekeeping on my boat any time she wants.

I obviously can't speak for men in general, but I would much rather sail - and do anything else - with a woman with experience in all areas, who is mature enough to carry on a cohesive conversation, rather than with a brainless airhead whose positive qualities may not go beyond her svelte body and youthful face. Granted, not all young women fit that description, but nevertheless, there are a lot of shallow twits out there. Substance counts for a lot in the long run, especially if you're confined together on a sailboat for any period of time. I've never met any "nubile 19-year-old virgins" - which has to be an oxymoron! In fact, I think they're a fantasy concocted by middle-aged men trying to recapture their youth. If some men can pull it off, my hat is off to them. But like gravity, reality eventually sets in.

On the other hand, if there were more women like Terry around, maybe a lot more 'older' men would be a lot less interested in those 'sweet young things'. The apparent dearth of female potential sailing partners in the 40+ range may, in part, account for many of us being so interested in the younger set.

John Kelly
Palo Alto

Readers - Three words of warning for older men trying to use younger women to recapture their youth: Anna Nicole Smith.

Also, a friendly reminder to everyone that last month's photo of Terry was taken by her husband - which means she doesn't need offers of places to set up housekeeping.


In getting my own 25-foot boat ready for offshore sailing, I came to the issue of a storm drogue - and realized that I hadn't seen this item mentioned in Larry Weinhoff's August article about outfitting his Ericson 28+ for cruising in Mexico. Maybe it's because I live on the stormy Oregon coast - I'm only half joking when I say that when we go out for a daysail, we notify our next of kin - and Larry was basically looking at preparing for the relatively light weather areas of Mexico, but I want to say that although the drogue may be the least-used item in the lazarette, when you need it, you're going to need it badly.

I'm thinking of a 'series drogue' that consists of a line with a lot of little parachutes on it that can be let out in increments off the stern, depending on the amount of drag one needs in the situation. But whatever one chooses to use, I think it's good to consider adding something to the list that's in this category. And to practice using it once or twice in moderate conditions.

John Boye
Tom Thumb, Fisksatra 25
Brookings, Oregon

Readers - We've never carried a drogue on any of our boats, figuring it was unlikely we'd get into heavy enough weather to need one, and that if we ever did need one, we'd be able to use long lines, perhaps weighted, as a reasonable substitute. Our decision not to carry a proper drogue has also been influenced by few, if any, reports of sailors saying their survival depended on a drogue. Are we being foolish? We address this question to folks who have either badly wished they had a drogue or who have benefitted from carrying one.

On the other hand, if we were sailing a 25-ft boat off the Oregon coast, we definitely would carry a drogue.


I'm just ending my week in Auckland watching the Louis Vuitton Quarter Finals. George and Sheri Clyde, good friends with the GBR campaign, and six more of us came over to visit. As usual, I carried a few clothes amongst a bundle of November Latitudes - and healthy stacks of the September and October issues, too. As bartering currency, the Latitudes proved extremely valuable!

First off, on the drizzly Weiheke Ferry I ran into a couple of sailors. The 11 a.m. Steinlagers were a giveaway. But then, who else walks around in Musto foul weather jackets! I didn't know them, but if it's Tom Purdy who owns the Waypoint Pizza place in Tiburon, and John Perkins who sailed to a 20th place with Jeff Mosely in the Etchells Worlds, that's who I gave the first Latitude to. Perkins immediately turned to the Race Notes, of course.

The next day, I packed a couple of Latitudes into my daypack, and went shopping. First to Prada. A cool bag, a hat suitable for the rainy weather, and short and long sleeve polo shirts came to a mere $675 Kiwi. When will I ever have a chance to buy Prada at those prices? Luckily the shirts were for someone else.

Outside the Oracle compound, I ran into acquaintances Bill LeRoy of the St. Francis and Grant Dalton of the Whitbreads, Volvos, and Jules Vernes. The long story about a family connection is unnecessary here, but suffice it to say I went inside and delivered Tuesday's Latitudes to Chris Perkins, and I was invited to go out on the Oracle boat to watch the races the next day. What a treat!

By then I thought it was getting to be a small world, but it had been nothing. While on Oracle's base boat, an excellent catamaran, one of the guests stood alongside as I read the bulletin board. Naturally, we struck up a conversation about how little time I had, and how Wellington, his home, was too far away to visit in a week. During lunch, it seemed that this gent and his wife and daughter were looking for a table, so I invited them to join Mike and Anna Hearn and myself at our table. We ending up sitting with Brad Webb's family, who are proud that he's on the pointy end of Oracle BMW.

The small world coincidences continued all week, with last night's really topping things off. My personal inventory of Latitudes had been completely disbursed, so I took a few from George and Sheri's home on my way to dinner. I had no plans in particular, so I was delighted when I ran into Tisha Adams, who is working on John Sweeney's charterboat here, and was invited to join their party. When I sat down I was introduced to Brad Webb, who hadn't seen the November Latitude. Imagine his glee to see that it was him on the bow of Oracle BMW on the cover!

I know people make fun of me, but when I go places I carry as many Latitudes as I can. They gain me entry into stuffy yacht clubs and to fun parties - but most of all they help me meet great sailors wherever I go!

'Queen' Lucie Van Breen
Berkeley Yacht Club

Queen Lucie - We greatly appreciate the valuable distribution work that you - and others like you - do on behalf of Latitude.

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