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At approximately 5:30 p.m. on February 22, I received a cell phone call from my hysterical sister Ronda screaming, "Hollis is dead!" She was calling from aboard a U.S. Customs boat on the Oakland Estuary, which had just picked her off the 15-ft Whaler on which lay the dead body of her friend and lover, Hollis 'Sterling' March.

Although it was still broad daylight, somehow a larger Whaler had ran over them from the rear, killing Hollis instantly. Ronda was thrown to the right by the impact and only received a glancing blow to the head. The blow to her broken heart was dead on. She and Hollis had just spent a delightful day touring much of the Bay, seeing Pac Bell Park, Sausalito, Angel Island, and finally heading home for dinner. She and Hollis spent the day planning their future together as soul mates. Unfortunately, it's a future that will never be realized due to an incredibly inexcusable act.

Hollis was a happy, eager-to-please guy you ran into all the time. A few years ago Hollis pulled a 70-year-old German visitor out of the Bay when he fell off the docks and couldn't find a ladder to get out. You might remember the 'should docks have ladders' thread that came from Hollis' letter to Latitude. Hollis was our next door neighbor when we lived aboard Island Time at Grand Marina. Every time I ran into Hollis, he made me smile. I think he was so happy because, unlike most of us, he lived his dreams.

Hollis was a professional motorcycle racer who switched to competitive bicycling - until he found he couldn't beat Eric Heiden, the Olympian with thighs like redwoods. Hollis was an excellent yachtsman and incredibly careful. He wouldn't even drink one margarita on his frequent forays to Chevy's in his Whaler. He took his beloved 50-ft Mariner motorsailer Triumph to Mexico in 1999, and lived aboard her after returning to the Bay.

Hollis was remembered in a memorial service at Encinal YC on February 27. He was survived by his mother; brothers Shan, Peter and Phil; and sisters Pam and Cindy. Hollis will be sorely missed by the Alameda boating community.

I am hoping that something good can come from the accident that killed him. Hollis and Ronda were riding in a 15-ft Whaler, which is a substantial small boat. My wife and I have often traveled the same area in our 11-ft dinghy without once thinking we were at risk. No matter how many times you hear it, we can't overstate the importance of keeping a good lookout behind you. Over the past 17 years, we've seen some pretty appalling and inconsiderate boating in the Estuary, and I have concluded that the Estuary should be regulated. The Delta seems to be much better regulated than it was during our first trip there 17 years ago, and it must have many jurisdictional overlaps. Newport Beach harbor in Southern California is totally controlled.

The Oakland Estuary apparently is a jurisdictional mess. The cities of Oakland and Alameda, the County of Alameda, and then, I guess, the State of California, then the Coast Guard all have some level of jurisdiction. It was pretty surreal having an Oakland traffic cop conduct the inquiry of the accident. Do any readers know if there are any efforts to bring all this to a sensible authority structure? Are there any suggestions as to how I can proceed to help bring sanity to this lovely nautical asset? If nothing else, one more time, keep a good watch behind you!

Kirby & Pam Coryell
Beach Music

Readers - It's our understanding that the overtaking vessel was registered to a towing company, and that the operator was a licensed captain. He was cleared of being under the influence of alcohol, but the matter is still under investigation.


The letter in the March issue regarding the use of 'navel jelly' to remove rust stains from Dacron sails inspired some speculation and an amusing flurry of imagined visuals. One wonders whence this material derives. Mutual inspection of my boyfriend's navel and mine revealed a few dead skin cells and a bit of fuzz, but no jelly. Terrestrial mammals would be more likely a source of lint than of gelatinous material, but this could be a function of navel depth/breadth and environment. Marine mammals are a plausible alternative, given the general sogginess of their lifestyles. Do you suppose that one must obtain permits from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, or will a simple statement that "no marine mammals were harmed in the process of harvesting navel jelly" suffice?

By the way, naval jelly works, too.

Jean Ouellette
San Francisco


I was appalled to read the March issue advice offered by Buz Glass, and seconded by Latitude, advocating the use of navel jelly for cleaning rust stains from sails. The packaging clearly states that " . . . Navel Jelly is intended only for cleaning belly buttons." The same manufacturer offers a similarly-named product called 'Naval Jelly' which is useful for reducing iron oxide. I have never tried this on sail stains, but it does work well on metals. I can speak from painful personal experience on the consequences of confusing these two products, having once tried to clean my belly button using naval jelly!

Jim Brown
Already There, F-27

Jim - In these troubled and confusing times, it's important not to confuse navel jelly, naval jelly and grape jelly.


Thank you for printing my letter, and for your reply regarding the proposed anchoring ordinance at Half Moon Bay. However, I must take offense to your comment that I am "all about freedoms and nothing about responsibility."

I am insured. I bring my boat into the harbor during bad weather. If caught out on a mooring, I have my engine running and secondary anchors ready to go. As a student of the Santa Cruz USCG Auxiliary classes - highly recommended - and son of a USCGR Captain, I do well to meet the responsibilities of a skipper living and recreating on the water. And, no, I'm not a druggie.

Permanent moorings, which I'm on, have a minimum equipment specification. My gear meets that specification and then some. I inspect my gear regularly. That's responsible. It's not a guarantee, but it's as responsible as I can be.

In regards to the 'Mexican Solution', U.S. boaters are already liable for damages and cleanup incurred by their vessels. Thus the only difference is a debtor's prison. Imprisoning boaters could burden taxpayers more than cleanup costs - but I am in no way suggesting that taxpayers should be responsible for these charges. By your suggestion, taxpayers would pay for both cleanup and jailing.

If avoiding beachings is the goal, we should support a minimum equipment specification, inspections, and require that if conditions meet a specification for the anchorage - such as winds forecast over 25 knots - vessels on anchor having that equipment must be manned by qualified crew. This has the added advantage of requiring that skippers be aware of conditions when their vessel is at anchor.

Crew licenses should be required as well - the added cost of inspection and licensing paid by owners and/or crew. Sorry, I hadn't thought that far in my first letter.

'John Paul' Lynker
Alicia's Wrath, DownEast 32
Pillar Point

John Paul - Our apologies, for based on the information you provide in your most recent letter, we were wrong to suggest that you were all about freedoms and nothing about responsibilities. In addition, having reread your previous and current letters, as well as our response to your first letter, we find ourselves coming over to your point of view - at least in theory. We think you're right, that just because somebody is on a boat doesn't mean it has an adequate anchor and rode, or that the person aboard would be capable of preventing the boat from going ashore if the anchor or rode failed. We also agree that requiring somebody to be aboard from November to March is an overly broad requirement. If the weather is wonderful and calm on a November day, why shouldn't the entire crew be able to leave the boat and go ashore?

The only problem with your solution - minimum equipment specifications, inspections, and a licensed person having to be aboard when wind over 25 knots is forecast - is whether it can be practically implemented. Who is going to pay for the inspections or crew licensing if the boatowner doesn't have any money? What are the authorities to do if the boatowner doesn't have adequate equipment or the money to buy it? Finally, what are the harbor authorities to do if there's a forecast of wind in excess of 25 knots but nobody is on or around a certain boat? We're not sure it's possible for a boatowner to be broke and responsible at the same time. Any solutions?

If we may be so bold, we think we have a better solution. In the long run it would be more economical for Pillar Point Harbor to spend the money to install mooring buoys - and require all boats to be on them between November and March - than to keep spending money to pull boats off the beach. Actually, we think this should also be done in places such as Richardson Bay and Santa Barbara, where they have similar problems.


A nice thing happened to me yesterday that was due to some coverage in Latitude 38. I was settling into a seat - after getting upgraded - on a flight back from San Juan when a flight attendant noticed my Spinnaker Sailing Shirt. She was curious if I was a sailmaker as her husband is an avid East Coast Star sailor. After explaining that I arrange flotilla trips to different parts of the world, she asked if I was the one who had been mentioned in Latitude 38! She was so enthusiastic to be meeting a sailor who was written about in Latitude that all the passengers in first class were craning their necks to see what kind of celebrity they had in their midst. Thanks for making me feel so special.

Bob Diamond
Redwood City


I read with interest Loren Luke's letter in the last Latitude regarding efforts to get some old IOR boats - in this case the Serendipity 43s - back out on the water together. I was chatting with Ray Lopez of the Davidson 44 Infra Red and Chuck Weghorn of the Farr 51 Zamazaan last fall about getting more of the old IOR boats together and possibly even interesting YRA or the St. Francis YC to take a look at reestablishing some of the old IOR classes. Because let's face it, the newer boats on the line are a bit different in concept than our creations of the '70s and '80s. I've just completed a two-year rebuild of my 1979 Peterson 46 Aleta, and I'm taking delivery of some great new Pineapple Sails, so I would really love to meet a few 'brethren-of-the-era' on the starting line.

Perhaps Latitude would be willing to serve as a central posting board for others who might share a similar interest?

Keith Brown
Aleta, St. Francis YC
San Francisco

Keith - We're a lousy 'posting board', but if you get the old girls - for which we have a soft spot in our hearts - on the water and racing, we'll get the photos in the magazine and help with the buzz.


This might be a little dated, but we'd be honored if a photograph of us 'America's Cuppers' could be published in your well-read magazine. The photo is of the four of us - left to right, Linda Schneider, Pam Phelps, Cheri Hacker, and down in front, Mary Ellen 'Something'. We were the crew of the PC La Sirena for the Ancient Mariner's Regatta in San Diego last November. At the conclusion of the event, our boat's name was unofficially changed to the 44D - due to our 'America's Cups' and the boat's sail number being 44.

Cheri Hacker
San Diego

Cheri - We're honored to have the presence of you ladies in Latitude. You all look lovely, but most of all we salute your sense of fun. Lord knows we can all use a few more laughs these days. If you ever see Profligate in San Diego, we'd be happy to take you for a sail - no matter if you're wearing your patriotic 44D cups or not.


It's been six years since I lived aboard in Sausalito, and I'm looking forward to getting back to the Bay. My wife and I are sailing back down from Seattle, but things are looking grim for living board. It feels like the BCDC has really put the screws down on the marinas, and we're having trouble finding a liveaboard berth anywhere in the Bay. Any clues? We're looking for a legal liveaboard berth or even a sneakaboard situation. Any help would be great. We're also looking forward to getting Latitude hot and free off the rack.

Mark A. Graves

Mark - The Bay Area economy may be hurting but some things never seem to change. One is the ever-increasing price of homes, another is that liveaboard slips are continually harder to find. In the case of the latter, it's no longer the BCDC that's the problem. Since you left, there's a new Executive Director who is much more open-minded. As far as he's concerned, as long as you've got another address, you can spend as much time on your boat as you want and the BCDC still won't consider you a liveaboard. So the biggest obstacle now is the marinas, who understandably aren't interested in having a liveaboard in every slip.

In the last couple of years the only vacant legal liveaboard slips we recall hearing about were at Pt. San Pablo Marina and at Richmond. We suppose you could start your search there. As for sneaking aboard, that option is entirely up to you.


I just wanted to add to the letters that have voiced their appreciation for electronic charts. We've used a chart plotter for a few years while cruising the Mediterranean, Caribbean, East Coast of the United States, and the West Coast to Panama. It has become our primary source of navigation - despite the warnings against using it for this purpose. Our strategy changed a couple of years ago from doing primary navigation on paper charts, with electronic back up, to electronic charts with paper back up.

We have a large dedicated LCD display at the pilot station on our big schooner, and we leave it on all the time - even at anchor with the anchor alarm activated. It can take a good dose of saltwater without suffering a meltdown, as might be the case with a laptop. We use CMAP vector charts. This mapping technique doesn't reproduce paper charts as much as it reproduces the individual points on a chart. Instead of copying the chart like a color copying machine, CMAP replicates the point on the chart where the sea buoy is anchored, the line on the chart where the shore exists, and each individual sounding as it appears on the chart - as well as every other detail, including notes. This allows for greater flexibility in scaling up and down the magnification. It also allows CMAP to add other items, such as marinas and the facilities they offer, tide charts, and incorporates current chart changes and additions more quickly.

We have found the data to be very accurate, relying on it in situations where incorrect charts would have been a disaster. Sailing into Favignana, Italy, in the dark during a severe storm is one case that comes to mind. Radar helped, but the clutter on the screen from the sea state and the rain was very bad. I would never have purchased a detailed paper chart of that harbor since we hadn't planned on being anywhere near the island. But since it was the nearest port in that storm, we were thankful to have chart data - it was included in our electronic charts - at the touch of a button. I don't recommend coming into a strange port at night, much less at night during a storm. Nonetheless, the chart plotter made it possible for us to get out of rather trying conditions.

We also used the chart plotter to get through areas we might not otherwise have transited. The passage at Gun Key in the Bahamas is too shallow for boats drawing more than five feet unless you can follow a rather convoluted and unmarked route around the island. It's tough to do by compass and landmarks, however, the chart plotter made it a much less stressful route. We could see our position and soundings as we motored around the island, and especially as we exited the cut between islands and out into the Gulfstream.

The chart plotter also allows for setting an accurate course on the autopilot. Instead of setting the autopilot to follow a compass course, we almost always laid out the course on the chart plotter and let the course computer adjust for set and drift. This gave us much more confidence in using the autopilot.

And sometimes the chart plotter was just plain nice to have. Motoring down the Intercoastal Waterway on the East Coast is not a pleasant task, as it requires 100% of your attention for piloting and navigation. The chart plotter made the task much easier than flipping through the chart book for the ICW and guessing about where you actually were.

We have found a few errors on the electronic charts. While sailing in the Greek islands, we found the electronic chart showing only a buoy where there was actually a fairly sizable island with a light on it. The paper chart accurately indicated the island. We also found that the actual size of Palomino Island - just to the west of Puerto Rico - is probably 1/10th the size shown on the electronic chart. The errors on paper charts are also reproduced on the electronic version. Isla Isabella is still a mile or two off on the chart compared to where you'll actually find it. These errors are not insignificant, but were not a serious navigation problem - though they tend to shake my confidence just a little.

We always bought paper charts of medium resolution and cruising guides for the areas where we traveled. However, we didn't have to buy as many paper charts as we would have had to, if we had relied on paper as our primary source of information. For example, we bought only three charts of the Caribbean Leeward, Windward and Northern Islands, instead of the 10 or 15 charts required for that area. Our electronic chart had very accurate details of every island and anchorage. Our theory was that if our electronic chart or our main GPS failed, we could at least navigate with our handheld GPS and a paper chart to the entrance of a port and then get assistance from there.

Let me also emphasize that we really don't rely on one source for information. We use the electronic charts, but we regularly compare it to paper charts. We also compare data on the chart with actual positions and readings - including depth, distance and landmarks. We also electronically replicate waypoints and marks on our radar screen, so that we can see if the data on the chart matches our physical surroundings. This is all to say that even though electronic charts are our primary source for navigation, they are far from completely reliable - as is the case with paper charts - and we believe they should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism. But electronic charts do contribute a significant amount of information that enables us to navigate with much more confidence.

Paul & Suzie Zupan
Schooner Latitude

Paul and Suzie - Based on your extensive worldwide experience with a chart plotter, your opinions carry a lot of weight with us. Thanks for taking the time.


I have always admired your encyclopedic knowledge of what makes boats go, Lee, but you need to review the chapter on Venetian gondolas. They are rowed by an oarsman standing, facing forward. They are not "poled" as you stated in the March issue.

The oar of a gondola rests on a piece of sculpted hardwood called a forcola, Italian for elbow. It has several places for the oar to touch depending on the propulsion needed: forward, reverse, turning. Skilled gondoliers can maneuver their 30-ft boats through the narrow and twisting canals of Venice, all with a single long oar.

Every summer there is a big regatta in Venice where single- and multiple-oared boats are raced in the Grand Canal. All are rowed by oarsmen standing, facing forward.

Latitude should send you to Italy for penance. ("Oh bummer dude, my bags are packed now, like when do we leave?") It will not do to go to the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas. The 'gondolas' there are propelled by electric motors and steered by the 'oar'. You were expecting the real thing in Las Vegas?

Clyde Jenkins


While on the BBC Web site today, I noticed a developing story about an EPIRB triggering a full-scale alert of rescue resources in Britain. Eventually the EPIRB, which was registered to a ship then anchored off Salerno, Italy, was found in a dumpster in Kent.

With each new Latitude, I turn to Max Ebb for the latest technical mind-stretchers, and just occasionally manage to understand most of the article. In the midst of the March discussion of propulsion systems, I believe I spotted Lee Helm's (surely) deliberate mistake when she asserts that Venetian gondolas 'pole along the bottom'. Not so! They are principally rowed as explained at and again at

Finally, what are the dimensions of Profligate? From the aerial photos taken during the Zihua Fest she looks the size of a small ship!

Christopher English

Christopher - The overwhelming majority of EPIRB signals are false alarms coming from units that were activated by mistake. When a rescue center receives a signal from a ship's EPIRB indicating she's inland - such as in Kent - officials can be confident it's a false alarm. So they track down the vessel or EPIRB owner before wasting valuable resources on a search.

Punts on English rivers are poled, gondolas in Venice are rowed.

Profligate is based on a 60-ft by 30-ft stock design by Kurt Hughes of Seattle, but was stretched three feet and the bridgedeck clearance was increased by six inches. Such a catamaran in the Caribbean would carry about 65 passengers on daytrips, but we never sail with much over 35 people. Adventure Cat, another Kurt Hughes design that is frequently seen on San Francisco Bay, is 55 feet by 30 feet, and she's Coast Guard licensed to carry 49 passengers. One of the really cool things about cats such as Profligate and Adventure Cat is that, although they can easily carry many people, they are very easy to sail by just one or two people.


We loved seeing a photo of a DownEast 38 on the 'looking good page' of the March issue. But if that was a ketch, the mizzen was definitely in a stealth mode. We read cover to cover every month, so keep up the great work.

Joe, Liz & Heddi (the boat dog) Johnson
Odyssey, DownEast Cutter

Joe, Liz and Heddi - Thanks for the compliments, but we seemed to have had both a rig identification and spelling problem in that same caption. Our apologies.


At about noon on February 17, Halcyon, She Wolf and Reaching Deep were in the first few hours of a passage from Santiago Bay near Manzanillo to Zihuatanejo. We on Halcyon were about five miles ahead of the other two boats, roughly 10 miles offshore, and about 40 miles south of Manzanillo when we noticed a couple of guys in a fishing panga waving at us. We thought they were tending long lines, so we changed course to pass out board of them. They continued waving so we changed course again to pass inboard of them. Then one of them took off his shirt and started waving frantically!

We finally realized that they weren't waving us off, but waving us toward them. Theirs was the strangest looking little boat, with makeshift sails made from a comforter, fishing net, and some other unidentifiable piece of cloth propped up with oars. They were flying a black flag on the bow, which is why we thought they were longliners. The two young men aboard were trying to sail with this contraption of a rig and to steer with a 2x4! Naturally they only spoke Spanish, but it was clear they needed agua and comida - water and food. We happily gave them some. They also wanted cigarrillos, but we couldn't help them with that. We asked if they needed fuel, but they said their motor "no funciona," and that they had been drifting for two days!

We contacted She Wolf, explained the situation, and asked them to see if they could raise the port captain in Manzanillo, which is a big commercial port, to come out and get these kids. But they were too far away to make radio contact. Then Larry noticed a large container ship passing about 10 miles outboard of us, and was able to hail them over the radio. We really only wanted them to contact the port captain, but after the ship's captain spent a few minutes chatting with Larry, he decided a rescue was in order. The captain said they had started their voyage in Peru, stopped in Panama, were stopping in Manzanillo and then on to Japan. They had a few hours for a rescue.

Larry gave the captain our position, and while the CSAV Busan changed course, the captain asked us to stand by so he could keep us on radar. In our broken Spanish, we told the two young men they were about to be lifted onto the barco grande. They took one look at that big ship and started tearing down their custom sails. This ship was about 800 feet long, so you can imagine what it looked like as it bore down on them. By this time She Wolf and Reaching Deep had caught up with us, and we all stood by the little boat.

As the Busan approached and they were able to see the panga on radar, the captain, speaking English with a German accent, said, "You yachtie types may move off now so we don't endanger you with our big ship!" But he did ask us to continue to stand by until the rescue was completed. What an amazing feat it was to watch! The Busan launched a rescue boat, lowered one of the hooks from their huge cranes over the side, and proceeded to rig the panga for lifting. This took some time to accomplish, as their huge block and tackle - which must have weighed hundreds of pounds - swung back and forth.

Finally, they had the young men in the rescue boat and the panga on its way to the deck. It seemed that half the ocean spilled out of the little boat on the way up, but it made it safely to the deck. The captain then hailed Halcyon, to thank us for standing by. After thanks from both sides, we all continued on our way - we three yachts south into what became a beautiful full moon night, and the Busan to Manzanillo with two very thankful young men aboard. The whole procedure took about three hours and we all can only hope that if we ever need rescue the CSAV Busan is somewhere near our part of the ocean!

Larry & Carolyn Dunn
Halcyon, Catalina 42
San Francisco / Mexico

Larry and Carolyn - Great story. It's been awhile since we've heard anything quite like it.


With all the scuttlebutt recently aimed at the America's Cup, I would like to say that I appreciate Latitude's editorial approach, which was to cover the sailing as opposed to the endless legal discussions regarding a yacht race. Loyalties aside, what we saw in this Cup victory was ability, preparation, and experience - things all sailors should prize.

Dave Kendig
Santa Cruz


Last fall in a version of 'Lectronic Latitude you blasted Outdoor Living Network for their supposedly shoddy early coverage of the Louis Vuitton Series. I was just wondering what Latitude has to say about ESPN's coverage of the America's Cup. As near as I can tell, ESPN broadcast the races only once a day - 4 p.m. West Coast time - which was very inconvenient to watch without recording it on a VCR. Then they didn't show race four at all!

In my opinion, OLN ultimately did a much better job than ESPN, especially when considering that they kept rearranging their broadcast schedule to accommodate the rescheduling of races. Additionally, OLN even made Louis Vuitton programming available on prime time. I'm one unhappy America's Cup race viewer.

John McCartney
Menlo Park

John - We only slammed OLN after the first race of the Louis Vuitton Series when they weren't quite ready for prime time. As we noted several times subsequent to that, they improved considerably as time went on. We also thought Sausalito's Dawn Riley did a fine job.

If you think you're disappointed with ESPN, imagine how ESPN must feel about the America's Cup. Delay after postponement after delay. As Gary Jobson told the audience during a recent presentation at the Tiburon YC, it was maddening. We suppose it's now time for everyone to decide whether they want the America's Cup to be a 'pure' event of, by, and for sailors, or something that's repackaged primarily for consumption by a mass television audience. It would be hard to be both. If the America's Cup were to be primarily for a television audience, we think it should be changed to fleet racing using the wild 60-ft trimarans, and it should only be sailed in San Francisco Bay on spring afternoons. Then the average person would have a reason to stay tuned.


As usual I enjoyed reading my issue of Latitude - except that I was embarrassed to read Max Ebb's February article on the America's Cup. Having lived around the world for many years, I have had to deal with the rest of the world's view that Americans are bad sportsmen and poor losers - no doubt initiated by McEnroe in the '70s. However, it's very hard to dispute these comments when one reads such whining and petty articles as the one from Max Ebb this month.

I have thrown the issue out as I was mortified, but I recall that his comments went something like this: "I believe that the America's Cup should have been between New Zealand and Oracle; Oracle had a number of bad calls against them that cost them the regatta."

What rubbish! Oracle had no more bad calls against them than anyone else, but no other team supporter is whining in a public forum.

Max Ebb also waxed sarcastic about the New Zealanders on Alinghi being 'Rent-a-Swiss' or some such rot. He cleverly fails to mention that there were more foreigners on OneWorld than Americans, and Oracle had more than its fair share of New Zealanders in the primary positions.

While I, too, yearn for the days of national entries - the small Italian, Swedish, French, and British entries were at least made up principally of sailors from the respective countries - such childish comments by Max Ebb do nothing for our sport. Maybe he's an Oracle investor, and is horrified that $90 million has simply disappeared?

Apart from this article, I am still a loyal reader of your publication, but please try to curb the children's play drivel in the future!

Nick Mockridge
Newbury Park

Nick - The Max Ebb feature uses fictional characters to illustrate differing points of view in an entertaining way. The quote you paraphrase was made by a minor character - who was immediately challenged by another minor character - for the specific purpose of raising the topic of luffing rules. As for the admittedly sarcastic 'rent-a-Kiwi' comment, it was made to make the fictional character seem more colorful and real. Please, take the time to find another copy and give the February Max Ebb another read. You'll see that it was a well crafted article that cleverly raised and discussed a number of the more important issues regarding the America's Cup.


I have a question for Latitudians. In the great debate about the ideal yacht tender/dinghy, whether rigid hull or inflatable, why don't I hear more about folding boats such as the Porta-Bote? This seems like the ideal solution, yet I haven't seen any comments regarding this option. Are the folding boats just unknown, or is there something so wrong with them that no one ever considers them as serious contenders? Any answers, experiences, and opinions based on fact would be greatly appreciated.

P.S. Thanks for the great sailing rag. You perform a great service to the sailing community in the Bay Area as well as the other watery parts of the world.

Michael Symons
Velella, Cal 28

Michael - Good question. About 50,000 Porta-Botes - which cost about half the price of an inflatable - have been sold, although most of them not to sailors. If you visit their Web site, you'll see a copy of a very flattering review by Practical Sailor, which cites the Porta-Bote's low cost, compact size, performance under power, and positive flotation as reasons to like them.

However, if we were a cruiser thinking about buying a Porta-Bote, our main concern would be how they ride and hold up in chop, slop, and other moderately rough conditions. Bizarrely, Practical Sailor didn't seem to think this was an important consideration. "Lastly," they write, "we ran the Porta-Bote through a series of turns, tight and otherwise, headed for whatever chop we could find (including some fairly serious boat wakes), and generally had some fun." So much for a thorough and rigorous test.

Real world cruisers know that tiny chop isn't something they have to search for, as they often have to face steep and nasty chop, especially if they rely on their dinghy for even half-assed explorations such as are common in Mexico. For example, when we're sailing/surfing Banderas Bay, we'll commonly dinghy five to seven miles a day on surf runs to La Launcha, to the Point, to the palapas, to other boats, and just exploring along the shore. In the morning this is often against a moderate chop created by the offshore wind, and in the afternoon it's often against a pretty good chop created by an onshore wind. Even in this relatively moderate stuff, we sometimes have to come off a plane because our body physically can't take the pounding. Can a Porta-Bote stand up to such real life conditions, or is it just a fair-weather or back-up dinghy? We honestly don't know, so, like you, we'd love to hear from cruisers who have put their Porta-Bote to rugged use. If we're not mistaken, the Winship family have had one for several years of cruising aboard their Crowther 33 Chewbacca, so we expect to hear from them.


It's true that Bill and I met in May of 1996, but it wasn't at a Crew List Party. What happened was that after racing my Shields in Monterey Bay for 20 years, I decided I wanted to expand my horizons a bit. I figured that if Tanya Aebi could sail around the world, then so could I. So I put my name in the "I Want To Crew" list hoping to gain some offshore cruising experience on a boat going to Mexico. I got a lot of responses, but Bill's was the most interesting - until I found out he didn't have a boat! But it didn't matter. We bought a Catalina 36 through the Classy Classifieds, named her Whirlwind, and shipped her up to Seattle. We spent three months cruising up there and into Desolation Sound, then got married in Friday Harbor. We sold Whirlwind, bought our Gulfstar 50 Blue Banana, and the rest is cruising history. Now you know the whole story.

Sam Fleetwood
Blue Banana, Gulfstar 50


I am a crewmember on the N/M 56 Learjet - we did the 01' Ha-Ha - and I'm doing some research and some debating with Glenn, the owner, about para-anchors and drogues. As we're in the preparation stage for this fall's Ha-Ha and a Puddle Jump in '04, we need any information you can provide on the following:

1) How many boats did the Puddle Jump in '02? 2) Of those, how many carried a drag device of some sort? 3) Of these, have many carried a sea anchor - e.g. a parachute deployed off the bow? And finally, 4) How many carried a drogue such as a Galerider from the stern?

Dave Berke
Island Ride, Catalina 390
San Francisco

Dave - At least 50 boats did the 2003 Puddle Jump, but of those who participated in the organized radio scheds we're not aware of any which deployed drogues. Although we don't survey Puddle Jumpers regarding the gear they carry aboard, we'd bet that many of them do carry a sea anchor or drogue.

More than a hundred boats typically finish the Ha-Ha each year, and we've never heard of anyone needing to deploy a drogue during the trip to the Cape. Frankly, given the generally light conditions, we've always felt comfortable sailing to and around Mexico without a specific drag device. If we were sailing south from Seattle, however, or going across the Pacific and ultimately doing the sometimes-dangerous passage from Tonga to New Zealand, we would certainly give them greater consideration. Naturally, a lot is going to depend on what kind of boat is involved, how many crew are aboard, and how many of them are good drivers.

Folks should remember that just buying a sea anchor or drogue isn't enough, as some of them are complicated to deploy and retrieve. You have to practice using them. You know how big a difference there is between reefing your main on a calm day at the dock and reefing it in the middle of the night when it's blowing 30 and there's a cross sea? It's about the same difference as setting a sea anchor in calm conditions versus the kind of conditions in which you'd really need one. Without 'real life' trials, there is no way to know if your drogue or sea anchor is up to snuff, if you have the proper leads and chafe gear, and if the crew is capable of deploying it in the severe weather it was designed to be used in.

For example, a few years back during extreme storm conditions on the way from the South Pacific to New Zealand, a family on a 45-footer deployed a parachute sea anchor from the bow. As we recall, the very long and large diameter nylon rode stretched like a rubber band as it went over the bow roller, but snapped after a relatively short time. We're also familiar with instances of mariners being unable to properly set such devices, or even getting them fouled in their keels or rudders.

The correct drag device is a good thing to have if you find yourself in storm conditions - so long as you and your crew know how to set and retrieve it. If anybody would like to share their successes or failures with drag devices, we're all ears. In this month's Changes there is a report from the catamaran Feet on successfully dragging a tire drogue off the Central Coast of California.


I've been living aboard my ferrocement sailboat in the Vallejo Marina for four years. Like many marinas, they now require hull insurance. Despite the help of some others in the marine industry, I have been unable to find a company that will insure cement boats. Other folks with cement boats that are having to come up with proof of insurance are probably going through the same crisis. If you know of anyone, please email me with the good news.

Doug Wagoner
Vallejo Municipal Marina

Doug - The best we can do is put the word out and see if any insurance agents or cement boat owners can help.


Our Grand Banks 42 Redhead came down on the '02 Ha-Ha - thanks for the great time - and my wife and I will be returning her up the coast of Baja to San Diego this spring. What month would you guess we would have the best chance of southerlies, April or May?

Skip Gorman
Redhead, Grand Banks 42
San Diego

Skip - We can't be sure, of course, but we think the next southerly isn't likely to be until November - about a month after the start of the next Ha-Ha. If that isn't bad enough news, April and May might be the two worst months of the year to do the Baja Bash.

In brighter news, the real key to a good trip north is not having to rush to meet a schedule. There are lots of good anchorages along the Baja coast, and the wind doesn't blow forever - not even in April and May - so hang out in the anchorages until it's relatively calm, then go like hell. Generally speaking, once you get a little north of Cedros, you're over the hump, and conditions tend to be more like Southern California.

By the way, most boats wait for calm weather at the somewhat dicey anchorage at the northern end of Cedros, then make a run for it when the wind drops. Delivery skipper Tim Murison tells us he prefers to go all the way out to the Benitos Islands, where there is a better anchorage and there's not so much of a funnel effect of the wind.

If anybody else has any Baja Bash tips, there's a lot of folks who would like to hear them.


We're planning to do the Baja Ha-Ha next year. Do you have any contact information for shipping boats from San Carlos? Many thanks.

Teresa & Don Lindner
Smoke, C&C 40
Victoria, B.C., Canada

Don and Teresa - Contact Jesus at Marina Seca in San Carlos. He can be reached at 52-622-22-61061 or emailed at transport at for an online quote. Marina Seca, which has been in business since 1995, transports sail and powerboats from San Carlos or Mazatlan to anywhere in the United States or Canada. They use specialized air ride suspension hydraulic trailers, and can transport boats up to 50 feet in length, 16 feet in beam, and 30 tons. Once they get the boat to Tucson, Arizona, a crane lifts the boat onto another truck for the remainder of the trip. While an owner doesn't have to be present, the following papers are needed: 1) Vessel documentation or registration; 2) Copy of owner's passport; 3) Copy of owner's drivers license.

We've known many people who have used Marina Seca to have their boats brought back north. So far the biggest complaint we've heard is that if you don't get a reservation early enough, you may have to wait several months. If anybody would like to provide a firsthand report on the service, we'd like to hear from you.

As for the Ha-Ha in late October, it will be the 10th one, so the Ha-Ha folks are hoping to make it the best ever. We'll see you - and hopefully some other Canadian cruisers - at the starting line.


After an awesome nine years of sailing on the West Coast, we are planning to pull up all roots and move to a Long Island shore community in Westchester County. While we'll miss about 330 nice days a year by moving, we'll get to experience entirely new cruising grounds such as the Caribbean, the Maine coast, and Bermuda. Since we've already sailed to Hawaii, Mexico, and more times up and down the coast between L.A. and San Francisco than we can remember, we think the change of pace will be great fun.

As we now have lots of kids and jobs, we have two choices for moving our boat: Either sail a very small part of the way - downwind, of course, from San Francisco to Panama - and then hire delivery crew to take the boat from the Panama Canal to New York; or truck the boat back east.

I've read numerous accounts over the years of people who have had good luck with the trucking option. Our boat is pretty large - 51 feet by 15'6". Can boats this size be trucked? If so, how does one go about contacting a trucking firm? In your opinion, does the boat experience more wear and tear by trucking or by having a delivery crew move it? If we choose the delivery option, what's the right time of year to sail from Panama to the Caribbean?

Also, we'd love to hear any comments you have about what to expect in terms of Atlantic coast sailing. Is Cape Hatteras really as bad as Point Conception?

Susan Pieper-Bailey
Daddaboat, Beneteau 51

Susan - Unless a driver snags your boat on an overpass - it happens - trucking would put much less wear and tear on your boat than sailing her to the East Coast by way of Panama. Sailboats as large as 80 feet are trucked all the time. In the case of larger ones, keels have to be removed and hulls have to be tilted sideways, and that can drive the price way up. In addition, there are often restrictions on the hours they can travel and even what states they travel through. At nearly 16 feet of beam, your boat may run into some of these restrictions. You can start your search for a trucker by calling Latitude advertiser Cam Transport at (800) 646-0292.

On the other hand, since sailing is only good in the Northeast for three or four months in the summer, getting your boat there by way of sailing adventures in Mexico and the Caribbean would be the way to go - if you have the time and money. Here's how we'd do it: 1) In late October, sail south with the Ha-Ha and enjoy as much of mainland Mexico - hopefully to Zihua - as you have time for. 2) Then have the boat delivered from Mexico to the Eastern Caribbean. If you don't stay too long in Mexico, it would be possible to get her to the best of the Caribbean by January - although the nasty trip from Panama could cause delays. 3) Assuming that you would have moved to the East Coast by then, take mini-vacations until early May - it's just 3.5 hours from JFK to St. Martin. 4) At the middle of May, have a delivery crew take her to the Northeast. We came up with this schedule working backwards based on the fact that our friend Tom Reardon, skipper of the legendary Herreshoff 72-ft ketch Ticonderoga for 17 years, says it's pointless to have a boat in the Northeast before June because it's too drizzly and foggy. But wait, there's more. After a full season or two of sailing in the Northeast, we'd base your boat in St. Martin or Antigua for the entire following year. When you live in the Northeast, it's actually quite easy to be a commuter cruiser in the Caribbean.

There's a third option. After taking your boat to Mexico, you can have it shipped - along with other boats - on one of those semi-submersible vessels from Lazaro Cardenas on mainland Mexico to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. They only go about once a season and it's not cheap, but it would mean less wear and tear by a delivery crew. There are a number of companies such as Dockwise Transport that offer this service. But beware that schedules change, so you should spend some time surfing the Internet to get more info.


My son and his wife have been sailing their 41-footer for 22 years, and are currently wintering in Falmouth, England. He wrote telling me about some very bad experiences his friends have had running into rogue containers that have fallen off of ships. He specifically cited your publication as being leaders in trying to get this problem the attention it deserves. I would appreciate it if you could direct me to where I might find current - no pun intended! - information on the subject. I'm an author and certain aspects of this intrigue me. By the way, my latest novel - Dreadnought's Curse - has a nautical theme and will be out soon.

Howard Hilton
Tampa, Florida

Howard - From time to time we write about containers that have fallen off of ships, and much more rarely about boats that may have hit such containers. But we're a small magazine with limited resources, so we can't do anything beyond that. As for organizations taking a more active role in trying to eliminate the problem, we're not aware of any.

For what it's worth, we're far more concerned about hitting whales than containers. We're not sure if we've ever come close to hitting a container, but we've had very close calls with whales on numerous occasions.


I just got around to reading Latitude's reply to Paul Dietrich's letter about free speech, where you spelled out the basics of a 'Life 101' class that should be required for all incoming freshmen at colleges. Wow! I've read your rag for years and have always been impressed by the free thinking and editorial wisdom, but this particular one blew me away. May I have your permission to use it?

Dale Thompson
True Luff, Cat 34
Rolling Hills Estates

Dale - Sure.


In the December issue, Jim and Eleanor Hancock, who are cruising their Freya 39 Solstice in the South Pacific, asked if anybody knew anything about the history of their boat. My husband Hugo and I do, as he was the one who built her and christened her as Harmony. It made us both so happy to learn that Harmony has seen so much of the world! We don't have the Hancocks' address, but this is what we'd like to tell them:

In 1975, shortly after we were married, we bought a house in Pacific Beach near San Diego. I thought my husband liked the house, but I soon discovered that he was mostly interested in the large lot that came with it. Within a short time, he had purchased a Freya 39 hull and deck from Jim Gannon of Gannon Yachts in Petaluma. Once we had the hull and deck delivered to our backyard, Hugo began to have the time of his life!

I remember looking into the big empty hull with only a few bulkheads, wondering how Hugo would know what to do first. As I quickly learned, Hugo had it all planned out in his head long before anything was delivered to us. In Germany, a Schreiner - Hugo's last name - is a woodworker/carpenter. Well, Hugo was true to his German heritage, as he knew just what to do. Hugo balanced work and boatbuilding for the first half of the project, then quit his job with the airlines to finish the boat.

Harmony took three years to build, and Hugo was so happy with every part of the project. I'd watch him bound up the steep stairway to the boat, carrying one large object or the other. He sanded and painted the same surfaces many times over, and there were never any 'holidays'. Latitude said that Hugo was something of a perfectionist. That's an understatement. The varnish was so beautiful, and the white painted surfaces so glossy and perfect. All of the hardware was the best.

It wasn't always easy work. One vivid memory I have is of the day we put the black caulking between the strips of teak deck. What a mess! But in the end, the teak decks were quite beautiful. The part I liked the best of the whole building process was seeing Hugo being so happy and creative.

Many folks came to see the boat while Hugo was building her. Because she didn't look anything like most homebuilt boats, we had several offers to buy her before she was even complete. Launch day was quite fun, and everything went just fine. My husband drank so much that he was crawling on the floor when he got home - and our 18-month-old daughter started mimicking him!

We lived aboard Harmony at Shelter Island Marina Inn, and had many enjoyable sails. The boat had a good stereo, and we had Jimmy Buffet blasting at the threshold of pain. My favorite sailing trip was up to Newport Beach one Christmas to visit relatives. Our original intent was to sail off to the South Pacific with our good friends Jake - who had helped Hugo build the boat - and Pam Jacobson. But we ended up just doing a lot of daysails.

There were several reasons we never made it to the South Pacific. One is that Hugo started crewing on competitive Star Class boats in 1980. He really loved it and enjoyed success right away. The Star races took him traveling all over the world, during which time he won two World Championships, a European Championship, a Gold Medal in the Pan American Games, and much more. Given the commitment required, thoughts of cruising were long gone.

After the birth of our second daughter in July of 1981, we were down to just occasional daysails on Harmony. Living aboard a Freya 39 with two young children was a bit tight. Because we weren't quite ready to leave the water, we accepted a trade deal for Aleutian Tern, a unique wood trawler. Harmony's new owner then sailed her up to Sausalito.

At the time, I didn't have much time to think about giving up Harmony and our dreams because I was so busy being a mom and working. Now it saddens me that we sold such a labor of love. Luckily, it has given many people pleasure on the waters of the world.

In 1997, our daughter was rowing for the Humboldt State crew on an early morning practice on San Francisco Bay. She saw a boat coming toward her that she thought for sure was Harmony. It would be an interesting coincidence if it was! Please know that you are welcome in our home if and when you come through San Diego. We have photos that we can email to you, and would love to hear from you in the future. We can be reached at giants6550 at Good luck with your cruising and God bless.

Hugo & Martha Schreiner
San Diego


I'd like to propose our classic sailboat Harpoen as a Latitude Boat of the Month. She's a solid fiberglass - with lots of teak - Javelin 38 that was designed by Bill Tripp, Sr., and built in 1961 by C. van Lent & Zonen Jacht en Scheepsbouw DeKaag in Antwerp, Holland. Hull #9 of 24, she is 37'10" long, has a waterline of 26' 7", a beam of 10", and draws 5'6". She weighs 15,500 lbs and has a CCA rating of 26.5. She has a modified full keel with a cutaway forefoot, and an attached rudder with an aperture for the prop. Harpoen was imported by Seafarer Yachts of New York in 1961, and has been in our family since 1966 when she was purchased by my late father, Claude Witzel, and my uncle, 'Mo' Witzel. My sister, Valerie Ridgeway, and I are the current owners.

We raced Harpoen extensively on the Bay in the late '60s and early '70s with a PHRF rating of 174, and won the Yankee Cup in 1977. We also did the Windjammer Race to Santa Cruz in 1971. After winning the Yankee Cup, we've only done Marin YC races. After major cosmetic refits for the hull and non-skid, we primarily use her for daysailing.

Originally powered by an Atomic 4, Harpoen has since been repowered with an Albin diesel and two Yanmars. Over the years we also upgraded to an aluminum mast, a ProFurl rollerfurler, and we're on our second full-battened main.

If you want proof that the Javelin 38 is a lasting design, Majek, a sistership with a 5-foot-taller mast, won the Marion to Bermuda Race in 1997.

Ron Witzel
Vice Commodore, Marin YC
San Rafael

Ron - We really enjoyed hearing the story of your family's boat - particularly since you've owned her for 37 years. Nonetheless, she doesn't have quite enough broad appeal for a B.O.M. feature.


In the Latitude interview with david Wegman in the February issue, he says that The Moorings was the first bareboat charter company in Tortola. I think he's wrong about that. If my aged memory serves correctly, they were preceded by CSY. They had a base in Tortola in 1973, and had already been in operation for some years.

Carl Ondry

Carl - To test your theory, we checked with Simon and Nancy Scott, BVI bareboat industry pioneers who now operate Cruising Guide Publications. The fact is that CSY opened in St. Thomas, USVI, prior to The Moorings opening in Tortola, BVI, and a short while later CSY also opened a base on Tortola. So, for the record, The Moorings was, in fact, the BVI's first bareboat charter outfit. In any event, it's hard to believe how many charter boats and operators there are in the British Virgins these days. But it's still a sensational place to sail, with near idyllic conditions.


Want help keeping alert, happy, and entertained while maintaining a 100% lookout 24 hours a day? To help watch-keeping on our 52-ft catamaran Adagio a few years ago, we started listening to books on tape. But now the same concept is even better, thanks to our new MP3-based capability to listen to books, magazines, and radio reports at any time of our choosing.

Some cruisers read while on watch. On Adagio, the two of us prefer not to read because it takes our eyeballs off the horizon and radar. It also affects your night vision and makes it easy to lose track of time. Given the average speeds of our catamaran, we feel that five minutes is the longest interval we can take between 'look arounds'.

Our solution was to purchase an Apple iPod, which is offered in three sizes: 5, 10 and 20GB. For MP3 recordings of books, the 5GB size is plenty big enough to hold a dozen, as well as 500 to 1,000 typical size CD tracks.

As there are at least two watchkeepers, it's important to have enough books stored so that each watchkeeper can be 'reading' their own book. Why? Because the iPod keeps track of where you left off. So, when you stop 'reading' a book at the end of one watch, it will automatically start at the place you left off when you begin your next watch. Since the books are about eight hours long, it's not much fun to have to fast-forward to try to find your place.

A great resource for such 'reading' material is In addition to books, they offer subscriptions to magazines such as Scientific American, Forbes, MIT Technology Review, and others, as well as newspapers such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. They also have radio programs such as National Public Radio's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Science Friday, and others. We have found's book offerings to be excellent quality and much less expensive than typical audio books on tape or CD - $10 to $20 U.S. for those we've purchased. The only negative is that their total catalog is smaller than available in the traditional formats, currently about 4,500 book titles. Due to the production costs, the catalog is obviously slanted towards what is popular.

Any free audio available on the web is another source of listening pleasure. We like NPR, the BBC, or here in Australia, ABC National Radio. ABC has an excellent program called Background Briefing comprised of 50-minute investigative/analytical reports.

Any audio book you already own can be transferred - the easiest are CD-ROM books because iTunes will automatically load any CD inserted into a Mac into your music/audio library - and thence will automatically update your iPod when the Firewire cable is connected.

In summary, any audio source that can be converted to MP3 can be added to your listening library - e.g., airwaves-radio. We have focused upon Internet radio simply because it's difficult for us to pick up scheduled broadcasts and have the attention span available to set up a recording. So we are basically time-shifting as one would do with a VCR for television segments. When we stop somewhere that offers an Internet connection for a laptop, we grab some more spoken-word audio in the background while doing email and web research.

An iPod and a Mac offer the most painless way to do this, but the iPod also works with Wintel computers. ( says support for iPod/Wintel is "coming soon"). There are also several other MP3-capable devices that support, including the Audible Otis, which is free with a one-year subscription, or costs US$119 just to buy the player. See their website for details. The Audible Otis holds about 17 hours of content - enough for about two books, so its storage is 75 times smaller than the smallest iPod.

Any of these MP3 devices can be interfaced to an automobile radio for those who don't care to use headphones. Interface examples: via an unused FM frequency, or a gizmo that inserts into a tape player. For the iPod, see:

Lastly, 'for free' you get another benefit - a portable music library! On Adagio we have loaded our entire CD-ROM music collection into iTunes. Besides giving us access to everything no matter where we are, iTunes magnifies the utility of your library by making it so easy to discover music you have forgotten you have, and to customize play lists for particular listening desires. For example, when off-watch, we'll often put the headphones on to listen to pre-sleep music (which really helps when Adagio is moving fast, when there may be wave/sail/sheet/winch noises that make it difficult to sleep).

Steve & Dorothy Darden
Adagio, Morrelli & Melvin 52 Catamaran
Hobart, Tasmania

Steve and Dorothy - Excellent report, thanks for sharing that information.


There is a community of cruisers, and it is truly a community in that there are no elected leaders, no written rules, and no political or geographical boundaries. It's a cohesive group that stands ready to come to the aid of anyone in need while maintaining their own rugged individualism. We've seen this concern for others in action in the earthquake relief efforts of cruisers in El Salvador, in their response to hurricane Kenna's direct hit on San Blas, Mexico, in the cruisers' support for the Indian school in Zihuatanejo - and many other cases.

Mike and I recently became beneficiaries of the kindness and generosity of the cruising community late last December while in Zihuatanejo, when I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. This was like a rogue wave overwhelming us. I am just one year shy of eligibility for Medicare and we, like so many other retired people, are on a limited cruising budget. The cruising community came to our rescue both financially and with prayers and emotional support. I was able to consult with an oncologist in Acapulco, and receive one treatment of chemotherapy immediately.

Through the assistance of Rick of Rick's Bar and our friends on Saucy Lady, Avalon and Siesta, and together with countless other members of the cruising community from California to Panama and beyond, I was able to fly back to my son's place in California where I am now under treatment for this terrible disease. The prognosis is excellent. My doctors believe we caught this reoccurrence early enough that my chances are better than ever of getting it under control. The prayers of all these good people have helped. They came to our aid without hesitation, including helping Mike bring the boat from Zihuatanejo to Nuevo Vallarta.

To the generous and kindhearted people of the cruising community, I send my heartfelt thanks. We may all be people who seek to sail the ocean with only the stars and wind for company, but we are never truly alone as help is always near. God bless these good folks.

Anne Kelty
Michaelanne, Whitby 42
San Francisco / Nuevo Vallarta / Currently Ashore In Bishop, CA

Anne - On behalf of all the cruisers, you're welcome. We're all pulling for you!


I have enjoyed reading Latitude over a number of years, and find a few mariner 'pearls of wisdom' in each and every issue. The reading has made me a better skipper, so many thanks. When my wife and I traveled to Opua, New Zealand, a current copy of Latitude served as our ticket to their Christmas party at a yacht club where we met terrific people.

The purpose of my letter has to do with helping sailors have many more happy days behind the wheel or grasping the tiller on a beam reach. We all know about pride of ownership for our boats and how important it is to keep up with the zincs around the prop, zincs at the heat exchanger, do routine oil changes, clean and clean and clean the boat, check lifelines, and so forth. I keep a logbook documenting service like every good boat owner should.

Something recently cropped up in my life that had, and may yet have, the potential of altering the number of happy days I have behind the wheel of Dazzler, our Catalina 34 that we named after the boat in Jack London's Cruise of the Dazzler. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer at a very early stage. The irony of this is that I am trained as a pathologist - the person who looks at the slides - and I am a specialist in cancer biology and tumor immunology. I had been having routine PSA examinations done over the past several years, and noted a slight increase in the values. Since I knew that I have a 20% risk of having cancer, I went in for the 'educated feel' by a urologist, and then had biopsies. What do you know, I had cancer in one of the 10 biopsies. I, of course, had to look at the slides for myself and confirmed the diagnosis. I evaluated the basic forms of prostate cancer treatment and I am currently being treated.

We were sitting at the bar at the Seal Beach YC when the topic of 'my news' came up. One fellow on one side of me said, "Oh, I had prostate cancer," and the fellow on the other side said, "Me, too." Yes, it is a common disease being diagnosed in more than 200,000+ patients per year in the United States. Approximately 31,500 died of it in 2001.

The question that I asked myself was, 'How can I help to spread the word to those I care about most - fellow pirates and their wenches - about the need for men to take more 'pride of ownership' for their health and get screened for prostate cancer?' I immediately thought of Latitude. So here it is mates:

All cancers are not equal. There are small C's, middle C's and big C's. Examples would be basal cell skin cancers, prostate cancer, and lung cancer, respectively. Most cancers are treatable and many can be cured. Your body has very poor early warning systems - not unlike the bilge on your boat.

What can you do? First, don't smoke. Tobacco and its by-products contribute to greater than 50% of all cancers. For cancer screening, it is very clear. Know the signs of skin cancer. After the age of 55, be screened for colon cancer by a gastroenterologist. After the age of 50, have yearly PSA evaluations performed. If your values are elevated, and if there is an increase, see a urologist and have the biopsies. If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, choose a treatment that works for you. It is important to detect any cancer at an early stage before it has spread, and this is especially true for prostate cancer.

While you are creating your 'personal health care logbook', you should go ahead and have your blood pressure and lipids - cholesterol and the sub-fractions - checked. I would hate to have you cured of prostate cancer and then have you die of a stroke from high blood pressure. If you follow my suggestions it is highly likely that you will have more days to enjoy your boat as well as your sailing mates. Isn't that what we sailors want to do?

Over and out, as I have to go back to cleaning the boat and checking the bilge.

H. Terry Wepsic, M.D.
Huntington Beach

H. Terry - We don't have to be a medical professional to know that you're giving an excellent prescription. And we're pleased that you decided to pass along the information in Latitude. Maybe at next year's Crew List Parties we'll have liferaft demos . . . and prostate exams!


In the March issue, Mary Ann Reseigh asked how to make fresh water by heating saltwater in a pressure cooker. Here's one way:

Fill the pressure cooker with seawater, close it up and put it on the stove. Remove the counter weight. Connect a length of tubing - I used clear plastic hose - to the nipple on top of the pressure cooker. If you pick the right diameter of tubing, you can simply push it on. Then run the open end of the tubing into some sort of condenser. I used a one gallon water bottle, about half full with fresh water.

The steam will come out the tubing, and bubble into the cold fresh water in the bottle. Because it's cool, it will condense. If the water is cool enough, it will work quite well. Not efficiently, but well. I made a quart or so in a half hour.

To be more effective, I should have snaked the steam hose directly into the ship's water tanks, as this would have ensured that the condensation took place. With my method, once the condenser heated up, there was a bit of steam that escaped.

Of course, I suspect that you would only be getting about a couple of gallons of water per gallon of propane using this method, but in an emergency it could be worth it. Me, I only did it to see if it worked.

Chris McKesson
San Diego

Chris - Based on your clear explanation, we suppose that the watermaker companies need not worry that technology has leap-frogged them.


We came very close to 'shoplifting' the current issue of Latitude while shopping at the West Marine store in Shilshole, Washington. As we were leaving, I was informed that I hadn't paid for my Latitude. I thought the cashier was joking, only to find out he was quite serious. He was a bit ashamed to be charging a buck for your great magazine, but serious. I thought you might be amused.

My husband Mike and I recently purchased our Hallberg-Rassy 42 in Seattle, and have been outfitting her to do a little cruising here in the Puget Sound before bringing her south to Alameda in May. We're enjoying the chilly Pacific Northwest - lots of long underwear and fleece instead of bikinis - and plan to head north through the San Juan Islands towards Victoria and Sidney, British Columbia next week.   

Tracy & Mike Day
Morning Star, Hallberg-Rassy 42
Morro Bay / Currently in Seattle

Tracy - Latitude 38 is distributed free within the state of California because, generally-speaking, the readers are close enough to patronize the advertisers. But that isn't as much the case in the Pacific Northwest, Mexico, the East and Gulf Coasts, the Caribbean, and French Polynesia, where literally tens of thousands of sailors would be delighted to get free copies of Latitude. We still ship Latitude to those places, but only to selected locations, and only where the distributors agree to pick up the freight charges and pass them on to customers. Since each copy of Latitude weighs about a pound, the freight charges are considerable. In those out-of-state locations, sailors get to make the choice of whether or not a copy of Latitude is, to them, worth half the price of a single cup of fancy coffee. Given the amount of information and fun we like to think we cram into each issue, if it's not worth it to them, they're not the kind of reader we want to target.

By the way, we love the photo of your new boat. Not wanting to run it small in Letters, we've moved it to the Cruise Notes section at the end of Changes.


Happy 26th anniversary to Latitude! It's nice to know that we have an anniversary in common. In 1977, we 'sailed away' from the mainland. Twenty-six years later, the adventure and romance continue. Thanks for a great publication.

Pat & Jan
Away from the Mainland

Pat and Jan - Happy anniversary to you also. We're happy to say that we still feel the romance and have an adventure each day we come to work - which is every day when we're in town.


I'd like to know if mariners are required to stand by other mariners who need help. Here's my story:

I completely refit Makai, my 1960 Pearson Triton 28 in Alameda. She's in mint condition with over $100,000 in her. I did all the work myself, so I'm pretty knowledgeable about her. I recently buddyboated down the Baja coast with a couple of folks from Northern California aboard a big ketch.

The sail down the coast started out nice enough, but then a storm hit hard and fast, with no time to drop the sails. We figured it was blowing 45+ with gusts. The course, swell, and wind were all in different directions. I had waves coming over the dodger, and water from the swell crests crashed into the cockpit. I babysat the tiller for about 16 hours. When I tried to leave the helm for a bathroom break, the boat turned beam to the swell and almost broached several times. The pounding knocked loose my wiring to the engine and I lost all my battery power. The separate battery banks actually weren't separated - thanks to an Alameda electrician who did a lot of things wrong.

Of course, it went from chaos to a dead calm the next day. I sat motionless after the engine died. It seems that I was in the same location as the cruise ships heading to Cabo as they passed very close to me. I knew that sometime soon the other boat would be sailing in behind me. I intended to flag him down to report that I didn't have any power.

Well, it got worse. I was carrying canned and freeze-dried food. First, my can-opener broke. I was also a little low on water as I had given my emergency rations to my buddyboating friends back in Bahia Santa Maria after the 120 gallons in their water tank had siphoned out somehow. I kept enough water to get me to Cabo.

The other boat passed me without a word. I thought it strange as I could see someone sitting at the helm steering. I shot off several flares, blasted my horn, screamed, whistled, and jumped up and down on deck to get their attention. They never saw me!

As the wind had died, they started going in circles to drop their sails. By accident, they saw my boat and headed back towards me. I explained that I'd had no sleep, no food, no water, no radio, no engine, and no lights. I had ordered a handheld VHF back in Catalina, but it arrived defective.

We had set up two times each day for radio checks, but they never did a radio check. When I asked why, they said they were busy.

Since it was a dead calm and it was sunset, I asked for a tow. We were about 30 miles from Cabo Falso. They said they couldn't tow me because it was too far. They said I had to sail to Cabo. I explained that if the dead calm lasted beyond that night, I needed them to come back for me the next morning or send help to get me the next morning. I asked him to please check on me the next morning as I didn't know how many days I could go without food, water, nav lights, and sleep.

So I spent that night drifting towards land, staying awake yet another night. At about 0400, a cruise ship started bearing down too close to me, so I flashed my flashlight into its windows as flashing on my sails didn't help. Yes, I have a radar reflector. The ship flashed a white light and then changed course.

The next day I realized that I had drifted close to land. I waited for the ketch or other help to show up. Meanwhile, many fishing boats headed out for the day. I flagged a couple of boats - they waved back and continued on. I made a sign that read 'HELP', but it was too small for anyone to read.

I drifted all day in the hot sun, as there was no wind to move the boat. I finally realized that nobody was coming for me, so I used my kayak paddle - the longest paddle aboard - and rowed the boat into Cabo. Once I rounded the Friars, my slow rowing held up the departure of two cruise ships. Then a guy arrived in a panga to tow me into the harbor, saying he was responding to a call about a 'mariner in distress'. I guess you could say that was me. However, since I had made it there, I was determined to make it into the anchorage myself. It took several more hours to get the anchor set, so it was much after dark. There was much hoopla in the harbor - 'what an active place', I thought to myself. It turns out that I had arrived on New Year's Eve.

When I arrived in Cabo, I learned that some other boats had been in the same storm as I. At least one of them had lost their electrical system as well. I also learned that my 'friends' in the ketch had issued a mayday around midnight, for after they passed me their steering cable had snapped. They knew before leaving Bahia Santa Maria that two of the five strands on their steering cable had already parted.

I collapsed on deck from lack of sleep, lack of food, and lack of water. My hands were black, red, and very swollen. Several people said I looked shell-shocked.

The people of Cabo have been most gracious to me helping me to recover from my ordeal. When I asked the guy on the ketch why he never came back for me or sent help, he replied that he couldn't tow me because his steering cable had parted and the boat wouldn't have handled towing my boat. He never did explain why he never sent help for me.

My questions are these: Isn't a mariner required to stand by to assist another boat when she's in distress? And shouldn't the ketch have put out a pan pan call rather than a mayday?

Patrice Scofield
Makai, Triton 28
Cabo San Lucas

Patrice - Yours is a very difficult letter to respond to. On the one hand, our natural inclination is to be very sympathetic. On the other hand - and try not to take this too personally - taken collectively, your claims sort of don't ring true. They also make it sound as if you're not quite ready to make offshore passages alone.

Here are some of the things you said that would give any experienced mariner reason to pause: 1) You have $100,000 in a 43-year-old 28-ft fiberglass boat - despite having done all the work yourself. Unless the keel was recast in gold, this claim screams out for some kind of explanation. 2) A sudden storm with more than 45 knots along the Baja coast? Possibly, but not very likely. In any event, if that had been the case, it sure as heck wouldn't have been calm the next morning. 3) A storm that hit so fast there wasn't time to take the sails down? Possibly, but again not very likely. 4) You drove in storm conditions with all sail up for 16 hours? In addition to it being hard to believe that you could do it for so long, or that something wouldn't have broken, what prevented you from heading into the wind, clawing the sails down, and letting the boat take care of herself? 5) Despite claiming to really know your boat, you were unaware that your two battery banks operated as one. 6) Is there some reason you didn't reattach the battery or other wires to the engine when it calmed down the next morning? 7) The handheld VHF you got in Catalina came defective from the manufacturer. Once again, that's certainly possible, but doesn't happen very often. In any event, why didn't you replace it before leaving San Diego? 8) Perhaps the most disturbing statement is that your can-opener broke. If you were intending to suggest that this in some way presented an obstacle to your getting at your canned food, you're not going to get much sympathy. Maybe you need a weekend course in survival training. 9) You infer that despite having no food or water, you rather quickly rowed your relatively heavy boat the last 30 miles to Cabo Falso and then around the Friars and into the anchorage. With a kayak paddle. With all due respect, you were either delirious and just thought you paddled your boat that far, or you made it up. Either way, it tends to cast suspicion on the veracity of your other claims - including the one that other mariners refused to help you. It might well be true, but given your other statements, and our inability to contact the other two for their side of the story, we've deleted their names.

Does a boat have to stand by if another boat is in distress? Yes, as long as it doesn't put them in jeopardy also. Although there might be some gray area about what constitutes 'distress'.

If we came across a becalmed sailboat with only engine problems 30 miles from Cabo, we wouldn't feel any obligation to take the boat in tow. However, if the sea surface was calm we probably would, especially - and we know this is really sexist - if it were a woman singlehander. Once the wind came up, however, we'd certainly expect the other boat to sail the rest of the way because that's what we'd sure want to do. Naturally, we'd have provided any food, water, and fuel necessary to make it to port, as well as a working VHF radio. (By the way, because of the hill to the north of Cabo, a VHF would only reach boats north of Falso, not in Cabo itself.)

If, however, we came across a boat 30 miles from Cabo whose skipper or combined crew was mentally or physically incapacitated - as it seems you may have been - we would take the person(s) aboard and get them to medical attention in Cabo as quickly as possible. Depending on the sea conditions and how much crew we had, we'd either take their boat in tow or leave one of our crew to sail the boat to Cabo.

If the boat was 30 miles from Cabo and had lost her rudder or mast, we'd take her in tow as long as conditions permitted. If conditions were too rough, we'd go over the options with the skipper. In any event, we would not leave them stranded.

As for the other boat you refer to, if the wire broke on their steering quadrant and the skipper and crew were not in immediate physical danger, a mayday was certainly not called for. Since it's such a freeway of boats just north of Cabo, we wouldn't even bother with a pan pan, we'd just get on a working channel and arrange for a tow. Actually, the first thing we'd do is put in the emergency tiller and resume our course without the need for any outside assistance.

While mariners are obligated to come to the assistance of those in distress, all mariners are also obligated to take all reasonable steps to make sure they aren't going to end up in a distress situation. We admire your courage in singlehanding down the Baja coast, but based on what you've told us, we think it's our obligation to tell you that you're not quite ready for it. For your own health and well being - and future enjoyment of offshore sailing - we strongly suggest you don't go offshore for awhile without at least one experienced crew. We also suggest picking up a copy of Lin and Larry Pardey's Self-Sufficient Cruiser while you recuperate.


As you know, we participated in the No Comprende - motoryacht - division of last year's Ha-Ha and had a wonderful time! I highly recommend the event for anyone working their way south from San Diego, as it's great to travel with a group of boats, meeting and getting to know the crews at each stop. When the event is over, you keep seeing folks along the way, and it makes for great fun.

The reason I'm writing is to set the record straight regarding the vessel that came to Mike Campbell's aid when his Lancer 30 Geronimo lost her rudder near Cape Colnett during the Ha-Ha. She was the 68-ft trawler Kirawan, not a 50-ft motorsailer as was reported in the February issue. Owners Lee and Kitrina Higbee of Anchorage had left Alaska in August and so far have cruised as far south as Manzanillo. They are currently in Mazatlan preparing to make the run back to Alaska - with only one or two stops along the way. Lee and Kitrina are both extremely competent offshore cruisers, and routinely operate Kirawan well offshore with only the help of Sis, their cat.

Since Lee and Kitrina immediately came to Geronimo's aid, putting their vessel in harm's way, I felt credit should be given where it was due. And unassuming Lee and Kitrina would never have done it themselves.

Capt. Mike Schachter
Sobre El Mar, 55-ft DeFever Offshore Cruiser
Mazatlan / Long Beach

Capt. Mike - Thanks for setting the record straight - and for the kind words about the Ha-Ha.


I started sailing at age five in 1961, at a club that was founded in 1894, and where racing was and remains a passion. We have now owned a keel boat on the San Francisco Bay for 10 years. It has been our experience - with very few exceptions - that members of one Pacific Inter-Club Yachting Association PICYA yacht club would be given reciprocal berthing privileges at another member club for a night or two. For 100 or more years this was done in the name of promoting boating, and was one of the absolutes that you could count on.

There is now something afoot that should greatly concern every member of every club that is part of PICYA, for it seems that the current stewards of some of these clubs are now throwing out the reciprocal berthing tradition in the name of raising a little extra revenue. These clubs are starting to charge berthing fees for the first night - fees that sometimes are in excess of those charged at municipal marinas! These well-funded clubs certainly will not gain from this practice, as in the long run this will discourage boating and people coming to their club at all. And it will almost certainly end up creating a retaliatory list at other yacht clubs.

This month our club had almost half of the scheduled boats cancel a cruise to another member club after being notified that the other would levy charges for a first night's stay. Our club - which for many years has supported one of the largest two-day races on the Bay, the Vallejo Race YRA Opener - has never treated the members of any other club this way. We're quite sure that when the news of this club's actions reaches members of other PICYA clubs, most members will react quite negatively.

The front office of these clubs may see a few extra bucks by making this new charge, but the boater is being fleeced. Imagine going from having getting the first night free at a yacht club and the second night for $20, to suddenly being charged $1/ft per night for both nights. Now that's inflation!

We would encourage all members of clubs that affiliate with PICYA to get in touch with their leadership and stop this practice before it gets totally out of hand.

Todd & Agatha Mehserle
Vallejo YC

Todd and Agatha - We're not sure if there can be a happy solution to this problem, but we think a start would be for you to take a more realistic look at the nature of it. On the surface, the concept of swapping X for X might sound simple and equitable, no matter if X is a car, a house, or berthing privileges. Where the problem arises is that not all cars, houses, and berthing privileges are necessarily anywhere near equal in value. For example, if you had a brand new Ferrari, would you feel good about swapping it for a week with a guy who had a broken down Yugo? Or if you had a $5 million house in Manhattan, would you feel good about swapping it for a week with a guy who had a crummy bungalow in Selma, Alabama? Probably not. Therefore we assume you can understand why some of the more expensive, opulent, and fortuitously situated yacht clubs - whose berths are naturally in great demand - might not want to reciprocate equally with a hypothetical Rinky-Dink 20-ft Runabouts R Us YC of the distant Delta, whose facilities are too distant and too shabby for any mariner to visit.

With a better understanding of the problem, perhaps the officers of the various yacht clubs, with guidance from the PICYA, can come up with some kind of better solution.

Just to lay our cards on the table, we are members of the St. Barth YC, and honorary members of the Long Beach YC. In an effort to stay neutral, we don't belong to any Northern California yacht club.


Over the years, I have started to acquire a collection of outdated flares, including ones that are fired in the air. How should we dispose of them? Is there a way to legally set them off, such as a demo sanctioned by the Coast Guard?

Gary Scheier
San Rafael

Gary - A few years ago, Capt. Larry Hall, Commander of Coast Guard Group San Francisco, would come to the Latitude 38 Crew List Parties at the Corinthian YC in Tiburon and at the Encinal YC in Alameda, and supervise the firing of flares, aerial and otherwise. At times it was wild. One year there was so much smoke from flares that the Tiburon Fire Department showed up three times to investigate and the St. Francis YC called to see if the Corinthian were burning down. Another time the Encinal half-filled with orange smoke.

Alas, the Coast Guard has other priorities in this post 9/11 era, so we can't do that anymore. Now we get rid of our dated flares by firing them off at the opening parade of the Banderas Bay Regatta. As to what you should do with yours, the Coast Guard does not accept expired flares, however, most toxic waste disposal sites do (check your county phone listings). Another idea, offered by a West Marine staffer, is to keep expired flares aboard as a backup to your currently-valid flares. In our experience, expired flares often function perfectly, long after they are legally out of date.


My copy of Chapman's does give the specifics of the 'red over green' masthead lights. But you have to read very carefully! If you look at the color pictures of the various lighting setups, you may notice these pictures have numbers and or letters. These refer to explanations on a following page. Specifically, note 'C' says that the picture applies to sailing vessels under 20 meters in length. Then, over to the right, "optional - two all-round lights at or near the top of the mast, red over green, separated at least 1 m, vis. 2 mi." I got the information that these lights can be used in conjunction with the deck level lights from somebody studying for his USCG license.

Also, Perko makes two fixtures, the 200SGB DP1 (green) and the 200SRB DP1 (red), that when used with the 222 DP (pipe mounting bracket), allows one to make their own 'masthead visibility enhancer'.

Eric Thompson
South San Francisco


In the interest of brevity - since I know space is short in your Letters column - I might not have been thorough enough in explaining why a tricolor light and red-over-green lights were prohibited. A sailboat may exhibit three configurations of navigation lights:

1) Deck level lights. 2) A single tricolor light at or near the top of the mast. 3) Two lights, red over green, at or near the top of the mast.

These three configurations are meant to be mutually exclusive, i.e., either you display configuration #1, or #2, or #3. If you try to display two configurations at the same time, you might be displaying some unintended light configuration. The USCG makes one exception. They will permit one to display configuration #1 and #2 at the same time. Why? The lights at deck-level and the tricolor at the top of the mast will probably be separated by 40 feet or so. Given the large separation, they probably won't be confused with some other combination of lights.

By the way, I've seen the combination red over green ('a sailing machine') just once, on a mast that was being repaired, lying horizontal, in San Diego, before the start of last year's Baja-Ha-Ha. The red and green lights were separated by about two feet. I've not seen it on a functioning sailboat.

Leslie D. Waters
Redwood City

Leslie - We've cut your letter off near the beginning because you're wrong about showing both deck level running lights and a masthead tricolor at the same time. It doesn't matter how far apart they are, it's a big no-no. Check out the next letter.


To answer your question about the red over green lights for sailboats, perhaps it is best to go direct to the source. Chapman's and the Annapolis Book of Seamanship are both excellent books, but in regard to the navigation rules, they only summarize the relevant parts of the International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea (COLREGS).

In this case, Rule 25 spells out the lights a sailboat underway shall ("shall" being mandatory, while "may" is optional) exhibit, which are the side lights and stern lights we are most familiar with. The rule provides that a sailing vessel of less than 20 meters (65.6 ft) may combine those lights - "in one lantern carried at or near the top of the mast. . ." Most of us refer to this as a tricolor. In this case it is an either/or proposition; either you have deck lights or a masthead tricolor.

Section (c) of Rule 25 provides for the "red-over-green, sailing machine" lantern, and states, "A sailing vessel underway may, in addition to the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule, exhibit at or near the top of the mast where they best can be seen, two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being red and the lower green, but these lights shall not be exhibited in conjunction with the combined lantern permitted by paragraph (b) of this Rule." So the red-over-green masthead light is an optional addition to the standard red and green side lights and white stern light - but not the masthead tricolor.

Since there is nothing else permitted in the Rules that looks similar, I believe that the intent is to further distinguish a sailing vessel as such in much the same way that a fishing vessel or vessel restricted in their ability to maneuver are distinguished by their lights. I don't know why the red-over-green lighting configuration isn't more common, as it seems to be a good idea to make a sailing vessel more visible and to identify it as a sailing vessel to other traffic. This leads to my biggest pet peeve on the water - dim navigation lights!

In my brief time in the navy, on tugs, and as a recreational boater, I have been regularly amazed by the number of recreational boaters out in the dark with barely visible lights. It has always struck me as somewhat suicidal to be out with barely visible lights since the point of having lights is so other boats can see and avoid you! Add to this the guys who are out with lights so old that the red has faded to pink or the green has almost disappeared to white! Dude, you got your money's worth with the old ones, so buy yourself some new lights and make life on the water easier for everyone.

Anyway, the COLREGS spell out in detail the exact color specifications, visibility and positioning specifications in Annex I. Read it carefully if you ever have trouble falling asleep. Much of that really only applies to the manufacturers, as most of us are pretty much stuck with what we can buy and mount on our boats. But Rule 22 concerns the minimum visibility range of lights, and states that for vessels of 12 meters to less than 50 meters in length (39.4 to 164 feet), a masthead light must be visible for five miles (three miles for under 20 meters) while the side and stern lights must be visible for two miles. Vessels under 12 meters need a masthead and stern light that are only visible for two miles.

The minimum visibility requirement provides a reason that the red-over-green mast light might be a good idea. Depending on the size of the boat, a masthead light will be visible at two, three, or five miles, while the side lights are only visible for one or two miles. That makes it more likely that other boats will see you from a greater distance if you have a masthead light - assuming they are keeping a lookout, of course. Since the greater height of a masthead light increases the distance at which is may be seen, that also serves to increase a vessel's visibility.

One of the disadvantages of a tricolor light is that since it is at the masthead, it is often less visible the closer one gets to the vessel. Since the red-over-green light must accompany the deck-mounted side and stern lights, that solves this problem. Perhaps other readers will have more input on the relative merits of the different permitted lighting configurations, but I do think that whatever lighting configuration one has on their sailboat, the key is to make sure that the lights are doing their job. Check the connections and the wiring to make sure the lights are as bright as they should be, and make sure that the lights aren't obstructed by any gear on deck. And keep a good lookout yourself.

For what it's worth, I seem to recall that it is required to have a copy of the COLREGS on board any vessel 12 meters and over, but I couldn't find the reference so perhaps I'm mistaken. But regardless of the size of boat, I think every skipper should have a copy of the Navigation Rules in their library. The key parts aren't that difficult to learn, and everyone out after dark should know all the different lighting configurations so they can recognize what other vessels are out on the water, what direction they are going, and who needs to keep clear of whom.

Stephen Orosz
Santa Monica

Stephen - Thank you for the excellent report. One of our pet peeves is a variation on yours. We agree that the lights on many recreational boats are too dim. Once we were 17 stories up on the bridge of a 900+ foot American President Lines container ship as it was about to leave Angel's Gate in Los Angeles in the wee hours of the morning. In the misty and dim gloom ahead, we could barely make out the form of a small sailboat in our path moving across the center of the Gate. It wasn't for another minute or two that we were able to see - and just barely - the little vessel's stern light. It was ridiculous! The other part of this peeve is that some large ships, especially cruise ships, have so many bright lights that it's hard to pick out their navigation lights.


I wanted to thank you for the recent series of articles about flotilla chartering and sailing in Belize. I've been hooked on tropical chartering since I moved to the Bay Area in '97 and started reading about it in World of Chartering and Changes in Latitude. I'd been wanting to do a trip in Belize for some time, but could never seem to get enough friends together at once. When I heard about the OCSC flotilla trip, I immediately reserved my own boat.

Just as you described in the article, I eventually collected a full crew of six great people for the charter. My girlfriend, who has little sailing experience, was initially skeptical of the trip - and the bit about small Belizean planes crashing into the ocean didn't help. But she eventually had a fantastic time and is looking forward to the next one. We chartered a 38-ft catamaran out of The Moorings' base in Placentia. The accompanying photo is of Holly while sailing from Pelican Bay back to Placentia. She's reading Latitude to scout out our destination for our next charter trip.

Peter Kacandes
Menlo Park

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