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In the June issue Letters section, Betty Wheeler asked for help to find a device that helps women pee like men. I have a totally different take on the issue. When I have friends sailing on my boat, I give these instructions: gentlemen are to either kneel or sit when they use the toilet. They are never to stand upright, not even when the boat is at the dock. The toilet facility on a boat is small and it's low down. Splashed pee coats the multitude of tubes, and the pump, so that within a few hours, the small compartment stinks like a French pissoir on Bastille Day.

When a man goes into the toilet compartment on his first trip, I sneak up to the door, which has louvers in the bottom panel, and check the position of his feet. Ahha - gotcha! Aren't I sweet? Well, after all, women have to sit, so what's the big deal?

Just imagine a sailboat in a lively seaway. A man, dressed in cumbersome foulweather clothes and safety harness, addresses the bowl standing up. He sheds the foulweather trouser suspenders and the trousers drop, compromising his feet. He then holds on to the grab rail with one hand as he's pitched fore and aft and rolled sideways with each gyration of the vessel. He fumbles through trousers, longjohns, and briefs for his personal equipment - but now his foul weather jacket flops over and then his sweater wriggles down. Are you telling me his aim, and his control of turbulent flow and laminar flow are not compromised? Give me a break! For heaven's sake do it right and sit on the damn thing!

Lyn Reynolds
San Jose

Lyn - There's nothing that brightens our morning like getting a letter with your return address on it. We know we're in for fun! But given our litigious society, we'd be careful about sneaking up on, and surprising, men who think they are taking a leak in private. Some sensitive guy is liable to claim he hasn't been able to achieve proper 'laminar flow' since, and that you therefore owe him big bucks to soothe his physical and very serious emotional trauma.

We're not experts, but weren't Sani-Fems designed so women can stand up and pee off the transom - like real men?


I'm very belated in communicating my thanks for your taking the interest to post the situation surrounding my husband Steve's illness - which resulted in Wayne Meretsky of the Alameda-based S&S 47 Moonduster volunteering to come to our aid. Knowing Wayne would be in charge of delivering our Nautitech 435 Kabunza Kat nearly 2,000 miles from the Eastern Caribbean to Florida was the answer to our prayers. Even getting our cat from the boatyard in Grenada was a story. She was splashed just two days before Wayne and his crew arrived - which was three months after we had left her with the yard to complete just a week's worth of repairs. I was immensely relieved to receive Wayne's report that he was headed north.

Wayne delivered our cat safe and sound to her new dock in Marathon, Florida, by Memorial Day of 2003. During the trip north, he put together a list of "things I would do if Kabunza Kat were my boat." We still go over his list when we finish projects to see what should be looked at next. The list is very thorough and speaks to safety, performance, and just plain comfort. Wherever in the world Wayne is, he is always in our thoughts for the wonderful thing he did for us.

Just prior to writing this, I reread the article Steve wrote for the March 2002 issue of Latitude - which was about eight months before he suffered his stroke in Grenada. You published the whole article, and I remember Steve being shocked that you did that. When I reread it, I found myself smiling - and crying - about the passion of the man I am married to. He does love "the boat," and I find myself extremely grateful that the passion remains today.

We made our first post-stroke trip to Kabunza Kat in the Florida Keys in late June of 2003, six months after Steve had been stricken. Fortunately, he has recovered his physical skills quite well, given the massive brain trauma he sustained. We didn't take the boat out on that trip because the weather was unsettled, and because we had 'Wayne's list' to keep us busy.

In mid-October, Steve and his friend David Dissmeyer, who owns the Beneteau 32 Heidi II here in the Bay, returned to Florida to sail and do boat projects for a couple of weeks before our daughter Kat and I showed up. After David went home, our family of three settled in for a couple of months on the boat. We expected to go home after the first of the year so that Kat, who is a sophomore at Healdsburg High, could be back in time for semester finals. At age 15, being stuck on the boat with your parents is not the place to be. But she was there in support of her dad. The weather remained rather unsettled, and it became clear that we needed our own dock in Florida to make the scenario really work.

It has been my job to be Steve's 'coach' as much as I can, and clear the path to keep us moving forward in his recovery. No one can make the brain heal any faster, but it's important to keep the vision of as complete a recovery as can be attained at the forefront. As Steve says, he can do everything - he just can't talk about it! The aphasia is still very evident, and improvement seems so slow when you are the one who is recovering. However, I'm quite certain if we could 'view' the reconstruction that must be going on in his brain, it would be astounding. I do feel he will recover to a great extent, but it will take years, not the months we once hoped for.

Anyway, I had a vision of the type of property we needed to park the cat, and we found it in Marathon on the ocean side of 28th Street. We have 155 feet of dockage, with 55 feet being on an inlet off the main canal, and wide and deep enough for KK to sit safe and pretty. We have 39 feet of the main canal dock rented to a couple from Massachusetts, and have room for another big boat if anyone is looking. Two bedrooms and one bath of the house are rented to a great gal, and we reserved one bedroom and bath for us. We have a workshop/laundry area, and a back patio area as well. We bought the house from the departing manager of the West Marine store! We closed on the house on November 28, and returned home to Healdsburg on January 8 with the house rented and KK well cared for.

Not more than two days after getting home in January, Steve was already talking about the next trip. He and David went again in February, and I went down to spend two weeks after David left. Not more than two days after getting home in March, Steve was already talking about the next trip! (Do you notice a pattern here?) He and David went again on May 23, and will have gone back again in June.

So far they have sailed north on the Atlantic side from Vaca Key to Duck Key and Long Key. They crossed over to the Gulf side just north of Long Key, went north to an anchorage off of Lower Matecumbe Key, and then headed home on the Gulf side to cross under the Seven-Mile Bridge just south of Vaca Key to go back to Marathon. (Wayne would be interested to know that the guy at the drawbridge in Marathon wasn't exaggerating when he said he only had a half a foot of clearance under the wires. Steve touched the antennas coming under the Seven-Mile Bridge.) In true Steve Schultz form, he knew the only way out of the dilemma was to keep inching forward - and all ended well. He called me after he had cleared the bridge. Thank goodness that I wasn't there to watch, as I probably would have died of a heart attack. In any event, Steve and David were out at anchor for 12 days and had a "perfect time."

I just talked to Steve on the phone, and he and David are doing dock projects at the house. I told him I was writing to Latitude, and he said, "Good! Say 'hi' for me." I expect that Steve will follow his recent pattern and be talking about his next trip to the boat when I see him on Monday. As you can see, the boat remains a passion, and having that passion keeps him moving forward. Now we have the same boat, a different ocean, and a different situation than we ever would have imagined. But it sure beats the alternative, which we came so perilously close to!

Ruth Olson
Kabunza Kat, Nautitech 435
Healdsburg / Marathon, Florida

Ruth - It was our pleasure to have played a tiny part in getting your boat to Florida.


My girlfriend and I just completed a 7-day charter in the British Virgins. The sailing was fabulous, with steady 20+ knot winds out of the NE for six of the seven days. The weather was a little squally, but we found that everyone needed to have the big breeze to get charter boats with undersized rigs moving while towing the rigid inflatable that served so well as a 'speedbrake'. It got to be quite thrilling watching that sucker trying to surf its way into our cockpit when running from North Sound to Jost van Dyke.

This being our second great charter in seven months, we really don't have any complaints about the quality of service provided by our charter company - but we do have a growing concern about the environment in which we are sailing, swimming and flushing our toilets. It seems that most of the large charter companies either disable or don't use their holding tanks, so the toilets flush directly into the sea. We understand all of the numbers about dilution and so forth, but that doesn't circumvent the fact that with a hundred boats moored in an enclosed anchorage like The Bight on Norman Island or the Bitter End, there is one hell of a lot of human waste being pumped overboard. With tidal ranges of 1.5 feet, I also question the amount of flushing that really does occur in some of these anchorages. If the thought of swimming through your neighbors' effluent doesn't remove the joy of waking in the a.m. and jumping off the boat for a swim, it at least makes you keep your lips closed really tight.

I'm not certain what the solution is. In a lot of these countries the infrastructure doesn't exist to install pump-out stations at the charter bases, and there seems to be no incentive to install pump-outs at any of the marinas - including the charter bases. At a minimum, they could install waste pumps with holding tanks in the charter fleet, so that the tank could be pumped out at sea rather than in the anchorage. Yeah, I know the pumps can be a pain when it comes to maintenance, but it has to be better than nothing at all.

Your thoughts and those of our fellow sailors would be appreciated.

Nick Salvador
No Strings Attached

Nick - Having had boats in the Caribbean for more than a decade, and being an avid swimmer, we have to say that untreated head discharges have never caused any health problems for us or anyone we know. The worst effects have been aesthetic, and have involved 'friendly fire' - seeing the solids somebody pumped from our own boat. So we remind all crew: "Check for others swimming behind the boat before flushing a #2."

While anchored in the back part of Gustavia's outer anchorage at St. Barth this winter, we were in the general lee of about 25 boats. Given the force of the wind and current, and the curious downmarket appetites of fish, we never noticed any solid evidence of a problem. We swam many times a day without worry, and didn't suffer any consequences. We even swam without great concern in the crowded waters of St. Martin's Pelican Bay during the height of the Heineken Regatta.

If we recall, there was a study done about 15 years ago in the Virgins on the effects of pumping #2 into popular cruiser anchorages. If memory serves us, there was surprisingly little effect. We don't know if any other studies have been done since then.

Despite all our positive experience in this area, we would gladly support the enforcement of the use of holding tanks in crowded areas of the Caribbean.


I'm really new to boats, but when I saw the film Captain Ron, which starred Kurt Russell, a few years ago, I really fell in love with the boat he was running. Where can I find the plans for that boat?

Bradley Hughes
Santa Cruz

Bradley - We ran your question on the June 16 edition of 'Lectronic Latitude, and within 20 minutes of posting it had this reply from Lou Bubeck of Flying Cloud Yachts: "Captain Ron's boat was a Formosa 51."

This design was commonly referred to as a 'Garden 51' and sold under many different model names. There are plenty of them around on the used market. They have nice lines and lots of room inside, but because of the extensive use of wood, they need to be surveyed carefully and require more than an average amount of maintenance.


Copies of Latitude sometimes take a while to travel up into the Sea of Cortez, so only recently did I read your response to my letter on concerns about the experience levels among new cruisers coming to Mexico. A couple of comments on your response.

I don't think I said - and surely did not mean to imply - the Baja Ha-Ha was at all negligent in warning participants about the dangers of open ocean sailing. I have read the liability release you include in your package, and it is certainly clear. Unfortunately, the grossly inexperienced are coming anyway, and not necessarily with the Ha-Ha. (Although there must be a reason why people get a little nervous in November when they see a boat entering a tight anchorage while flying the Ha-Ha burgee.)

All the stories from the old salts about people they knew who overcame their inexperience with various levels of travail are well and good, but just because we all know fools who got away with it does not make it a good idea.

I suppose the proof is in the numbers, and I wonder what the Coast Guard has to say on the subject. Of their rescue and assistance operations, how many are attributed to inexperience or incompetence? Are the numbers increasing? Unfortunately, I have no way to try and research these questions. Besides, it is too nice a day here in the anchorage at Isla Coronado. It's 84°, the water is 80°, the sea and sky are blue, there is a gentle breeze ruffling the ensign, and it's almost cocktail hour.

Jimmie Zinn
Dry Martini, Morgan 38
Thirty-five Months Out of Richmond

Jimmie - Just as we began to reply to your letter, we received the latest copy of the Department of Boating and Waterways Boating Safety Report, and it's very instructive. The two leading causes of boating accidents were - as you might have suspected - operator inattention (40%) and operator inexperience (33%). But get this - 92% of all injuries occurred in open motorboats or personal watercraft (jet skis). Of the 61 people who died boating last year, only four of them were on sailboats, and only one of them actually died while sailing. Of all boats involved in fatal accidents, 89% of them were less than 26 feet. In other words, statistics tell us that if you want to be safe on the water, a sailboat over 26 feet is a good place to be. In addition, many more accidents and fatalities take place on lakes and rivers - in part because there is so much more boating done on those waters.

It's also interesting to compare last year's statistics with those of 1980 to get a historical perspective. Twenty-three years ago, there were 657 accidents, 270 injuries, and 112 fatalities. With many more boats and much more boating activity in 2003, the number of accidents was up only slightly to 963, the number of injuries nearly doubled to 502, but the deaths plunged to just 61 - nearly half of 23 years ago. Even a single serious injury and/or death is too many, of course, but boating is obviously getting safer - even with the dangerous antics of small boat operators and the addition of so many recklessly-operated personal watercraft to the mix.

We don't know how frequently the Mexican Navy comes to the rescue of cruisers, or how often there are serious 'cruiser' incidents in Mexico, but we're not hearing about many. And most of the ones that leap to our mind have involved experienced rather than "grossly inexperienced" sailors. For example, Bingo Again!, which was recently sailed onto a mainland Mexico beach, was under the command of her skilled and experienced owner/skipper. Cat's Meow, which was inadvertently driven onto the Baja rocks in the dark, is owned and operated by a very experienced owner/skipper and his wife. Still Crazy, the Olson 30 that was lost ashore near Punta Mita, was under the command of owner/skipper Ron Corbin, a veteran of the Singlehanded TransPac. We can go on and on like this, proving that shit does happen - and very often to experienced mariners. If there are an excessive number of serious accidents, injuries, and deaths befalling inexperienced sailors in Mexico, we'd like to hear about it so we can report it.

Speaking of the Ha-Ha, it probably provides the best database on sailing to Mexico that exists. For one thing, it has a 10-year history, and there have been about 750 boats that have done it. God knows what the future holds, but in over 500,000 Ha-Ha 'boat miles' covered to date, we can't recall a single case in which the Coast Guard and/or the Mexican Navy had to come to the rescue. There was one death, the result of a woman suffering a massive heart attack while her boat was at anchor. She received immediate expert medical attention, but to no avail. There haven't been any major injuries, and the worst of the minor ones happened after drinking in the Squid Roe bar in Cabo. Rudders and steering systems have failed, but no boats have been lost. That's a pretty good safety record - one we primarily attribute to the fact that the Ha-Ha has enjoyed generally mild sailing conditions. There are certainly many more mishaps on the Baja Bash, but by that time the skippers are no longer novices.

The last point we want to make is that, despite the fact that in the last several issues a number of longtime cruisers have advised that the only way to learn how to cruise is to just go out and do it, we still think there is no substitute for proper instruction and time out in the ocean - not just the Bay - when it's blowing and there's a sea running. Those who have mastered their sailing skills and put in the time in real life conditions will, because of their confidence, have a much more relaxed and enjoyable time sailing to and in Mexico.


I enjoyed Robert Sutherland's photo of 'Pt. Conception' which appeared in the June 4 edition of 'Lectronic Latitude. Actually, the photo is of Pt. Arguello, just left of center, as that's SLC-4 - or 'Slick Four' - on the left, and SLC-6 on the right. Pt. Conception is on the extreme right of the photograph.

I know this because I worked on the Slick Four oil platform for 15 years, and really enjoyed that part of the coast. Near the old Coast Guard Station at Pt. Arguello, you could catch at least five different species of surf perch - as well as just enjoy the beautiful natural setting. 

Rudy Salazar


Chris White's response to Rene and Pam Yruretagoyenas' question concerning the relative pros and cons between cruising trimarans and catamarans had an important omission: insurance.

The last time I shopped for insurance, I found that many companies will not insure trimarans at all. And those that do will generally only accept trimarans less than 15 years old. The agents I talked to had no idea why this was the case, but I suspect the underwriters are red-lining the older, home-built trimarans, while welcoming business from the newer, factory-built Corsairs, Dragonflies and Contours. In contrast, French 'condomarans' have been around for some time, and a similar age exclusion would cut too many production boats, while eliminating a comparatively small proportion of home-built cats. All this is just speculation on my part.

If the Yruretagoyenas find the tri of their dreams, and she is more than 15 years old, they should ask around about insurance before signing on the bottom line. I am including my email address so they can contact me with other questions regarding 40-ft cruising trimarans.

Greg Allen Barker
Cherokee, Cross 42
San Luis Obispo

Greg - We suspect that underwriters feel a lot more comfortable with professionally-built production boats, which tend to have a history, as opposed to home-built boats, which are all one-of-a-kind. As Chris White pointed out, home-built trimarans can be the very best of the breed, but more often are the very worst.

We think you give excellent advice when you suggest buyers make the availability of insurance a condition of the boat purchase. Of course, from a buyer's perspective, there can be a point at which it makes more sense to self-insure.


We are planning on heading south with the Baja Ha-Ha aboard our Brisbane-based Whitby 42, and then continuing on. We have applied for boat insurance with several companies and have been turned down flat for no given reason. We're also told that many companies will not insure a boat built in 1977. Do you have any suggestions on whom to contact about cruising insurance?

Stan & Rochelle Gardner

Readers - Our advice to the Gardners was going to be "just keep shopping around," but then we received the following update from them: "We have found one agent, Al Golden, who has offered insurance, and after receiving our Ha-Ha entry pack, have contacted Bluewater Insurance, which is also supposed to be sending us a quote."


In the May issue, Andy Wisner asked who was collecting data on whale sightings. The answer is Oceanic Society Expeditions (Fort Mason, Bldg. E, SF 94123). If anyone sights a whale, they are asked to record the date, time, location, and behavior - and call (800) 326-7491 to report your sighting(s).

The eastern population of the gray whale migrates along the west coast of North America on a yearly migration that can extend from Baja California - where they breed and give birth to their calves during the winter - to the Arctic seas north of the Aleutian Islands and regions along the Pacific Northwest - where they feed during the summer and fall. The northward migration generally occurs from February through May-June, and peaks in March. It includes - in the order of reproductive condition, sex, age class - newly pregnant females, adult males, immature females, and last in this migration, the females with calves. Off central California, we start to see northward migrating whales on the way to their feeding grounds as early as mid-February; females with calves can be seen as early as April and as late as June. During spring, on their journey north, gray whales venture into San Francisco Bay, depart, and head further north. Individual residence time in the Bay is unknown. A few individuals remain at the Farallon Islands as late as July.

Reports of gray whales in the Bay have become more common since 1997. Oceanic Society Expeditions launched a study (1997-2001) to document the presence and behavior of gray whales in San Francisco Bay, and found whales within the Bay from February to May, with an increased presence observed throughout the study period. (Whales were sighted on six days in 1997, and increased to 116 days in 2001). Although the majority of whales were juveniles between 25-37 feet, all age classes were observed from the southern to northern regions of the Bay, with most sightings in the central Bay. Behaviors including traveling, milling, socializing and foraging were observed. Because foraging whales in the Bay are potentially exposed to toxic contaminants in the sediments - they are bottom feeders and eat the critters found in the mud - there was (is) a concern about the risks to the health of the feeding whales.

The number of whales that enter the Bay during the spring is highly variable, and seeing them in the Bay - especially while sailing - is quite a treat! Important guidelines should be followed when viewing whales: never approach a whale closer than 100 meters; no quick or sudden bursts of speed that could startle a whale; basically, don't do anything to alter the whale's behavior.

During 1999-2001, greater numbers of whales were observed in San Francisco Bay - and I personally saw them feeding in the Bay along Southampton Shoal just northeast of Angel Island.

Carol Keiper
Seaquest, Ericson 35
Berkeley Marina

Readers - Carol Keiper is a Marine Biologist/Ecologist, with "Oikonos-Ecosystem Knowledge" - whatever that is. We thank her for her information.


We are re-subscribing to Latitude, as we have decided to leave Connecticut next year for the Bay Area.

Yours was the first sailing magazine we subscribed to when we got the cruising bug a decade ago back in Austin, Texas. A neighbor gave us some old copies and we were hooked. In our late 40s at the time, we were inspired by the motto 'justdoit', so we set a goal and worked on our sailing skills. After seven years of planning, a week-long sailing course on San Francisco Bay, buying a Tayana 37, and sailing trips to Florida and Mexico, we quit our jobs and became fulltime liveaboards in Galveston, Texas, in January of '02. We then spent six months cruising up to Stamford, Connecticut, where we now live and work. We've enjoyed cruising Long Island Sound and Block Island, and traveling inland to visit the sights of New England and New York City.

But with the pull of new grandchildren in Marin County, we've decided to scrap our idea of sailing to the Med someday, and next year plan to cruise up to Nova Scotia, then down the East Coast, to Cuba and the Western Caribbean, through the Ditch, and up to the Bay Area. We're thinking of a time-frame of May 2005 through May 2006, leaving the States in late November. I know that's rushed, but do you or your readers have any thoughts or suggestions as to whether it's doable - with enough time to stop and see at least some of the sights along the way? We prefer anchorages to marinas, and seeing a few places well rather than hitting all the spots.

One chief reason for renewing our subscription is to monitor the liveaboard situation in the Bay. We know it's been dicey, but we're hoping to get a slip in Sausalito - we've always been dreamers. Any chance the rules are loosening up or will be loosening up for liveaboards in the next couple of years? From the talking we've done with harbormasters there, the sticking point is not the marinas, but the government officials. Have you run any articles on the subject lately?

P.S. Thanks for all you've done to inform and inspire us over the years!

Jim & Sue Goodman
Adelante, Tayana 37
Stamford, Connecticut

Jim and Sue - Thanks for the kind words.

If you leave the States - presumably Florida - in late November, you'll have plenty of time to enjoy places on the way and still be able to reach California by the following May. And we don't believe you'd ever have to stay in a marina. It would be wonderful if you could stop at Cuba, but because of what we believe are misguided policies recently enacted by the Bush administration with regard to visiting Cuba, we don't recommend it. Of course, there's an election between now and next year when you would be visiting, so the situation could change.

In a certain respect, the liveaboard situation has loosened up in the Bay Area. It seems to us that virtually all government agencies have come to the realization that there is a crisis in affordable housing, so most of them are going along with their own version of 'don't ask, don't tell'. This is not to say that there are any liveaboard slips open, and that the marina operators wouldn't like to reduce the number of liveaboards they already have. So it's best to limit your expectations. The default, of course, is anchoring out in Richardson Bay. It may be illegal to live aboard out there for more than three months at a time, but that doesn't seem to stop anybody. It's not an easy life, however.

We can understand the draw of grandchildren, but have to caution you that Marin County is not the place it once was. It's much more crowded and expensive compared to the old days, and we sense a lot of free-floating hostility. Of course, that's probably true of all the desirable places to live in the United States.


Sailing is one of the best things that our family ever did together. We started sailing when our kids were young. We lived in Fresno and sailed and raced on Millerton and Huntington Lakes. For the last 22 years we have sailed out of Emeryville and Berkeley.

After 30 years, our kids - and now our grandkids - still sail with us every chance they get. Our oldest grandchild started sailing on the Bay when she was two weeks old, and at age 15 still sails. The boat is the favorite place for our four grandkids to sleep, either while under sail or at the dock.

Both of our kids went away to college and then came back after graduation - at least in part because that was where the sailing experiences were. And they brought their friends and future spouses along. Safety was never an issue.

It's true, in our busy society everything we do requires that we give up something. For our family, sailing was a priority - along with church, school and Boys & Girls Clubs - all of which we have been heavily involved with for 35 years.

One last thing - if you wait until they are 15, it's too late to get them started sailing. Sailing helps develop the personality and interests of young people. If you wait any longer, they'll be more interested in speed and powerboating.

Ken Quenzer
Laurel Anne, Wauquiez Hood 38


Sorry that I'm way late in responding on the subject of families and sailing, but I'd still like to get a word in.

In my opinion, kids and sailboats are a wonderful combination. My son Joseph, 13, and daughter Jacquelyn, 8, have spent all of their years aboard boats. Having always lived in Nevada City, much of their sailing has been on mountain lakes such as Scott's Flat and Tahoe. In addition, we've periodically kept a boat on the Bay, and chartered in faraway ports. We currently own the Pearson 38.5 Daydreams, in which we cruised as far south as Zihuatanejo last year.

Our children absolutely love sailing, and we love being able to enjoy it with them. Joseph and Jacquelyn can sit still for watches, plot a course, plane a dinghy, catch and clean fish, host a morning net, raise an anchor, understand and perform sail changes, identify many kinds of marine life, prepare meals in a galley, and speak a little Spanish. I could go on, but I think you catch the drift. And thanks to the kids, we meet a broader spectrum of mariners.

We'd planned to continue cruising this year, but we've had to postpone it because our boat suffered severe damage from Hurricane Marty last fall in Mexico. We decided to bring our boat home so we could be actively involved in her repair. Joseph works several times a week with his dad on the boat.

Marty slowed us up a bit, but hasn't come close to stopping us. We plan to leave early next fall for the Sea of Cortez, then continue south and through the Canal. Our children have enhanced our sailing experiences tremendously. My advice to others with kids is to do it now.

Melinda Solis-Day
Daydreams, Pearson 38.5
Nevada City

Melinda - We think you and other parents might find the two-part Latitude 38 interview interesting in this and next month's issues, as it's with a Northern California family of four who did a five-year cruise in the South Pacific.


I bought my first 'in-the-water' boat when I graduated from college in 1965. I then had a string of older, relatively inexpensive wooden boats, and was fairly successful racing them. When I got married, bought my first house - a real fixer-upper - and we had our first baby, I quickly learned I could not afford the time or money to have an older wooden boat in addition to a wife, child and house. Something had to give, and it was the boat and yacht club membership.

A few years later, when the house was liveable, I was able to acquire a small trailerable keelboat. It was nice that I was able to keep it in the garage, because it meant I could maintain her while baby-sitting the kids. During this stage of my life, I didn't race - and rarely even sailed in the main part of the Bay.

After the kids had gone through the Richmond YC's Junior Program and were safe around boats, I bought another Bay-type boat and gradually got back into Bay sailing and racing.

Now I can sail or race the boat with my wife, kids, sons-in-law and grandkids.

Don McCrea
Stormrider, Aphrodite 101


Having completed a long circumnavigation in '02, I hope you'll allow me to comment on a number of topics that have recently been in Latitude.

Katie McWilliam, who wrote in the May issue, is absolutely correct in taking her son cruising. In 1996, my wife Carole, eight-year-old son Ryan, and I set off on a circumnavigation. Six-and-a half-years, 56 countries, and 40,000 miles later, we finished our trip. Since we home-schooled Ryan the whole way, readers might be interested in the results.

On the plus side, Ryan is socially light years ahead of his contemporaries. He mixes very well, is comfortable in adult company, and is a great conversationalist. On the minus side, he is socially light years ahead of his contemporaries. He therefore has trouble relating to teens his age, whom he generally dismisses as being childish.

The latter has created some reentry problems, partially compensated for by another plus - he is two years ahead of his peers academically. We compromised by putting him into Grade 10, not Grade 9 as his age suggested. By the way, the university system requires formal grade records, and home schooling has some problems in this area, if, as in our case, we set the curriculum ourselves.

On the plus side, Ryan is a brilliant swimmer, a qualified open water scuba diver with an Underwater Naturalist Certification. He can sail, navigate, drive a dinghy and water ski. On the minus side, he has no experience with team sports, and has little patience with the hoopla that seems to surround them in high school. He did, however, make the volleyball team in his second formal year of school.

I'd like to explain his being a dinghy driver. We had Ryan go through a formal training period with the dinghy, then issued a provisional 'license', during which time he could only operate the dinghy with an adult with him. Finally, he was given a real test on the rules and operation before we issued him an 'unrestricted license'. He's subsequently said that this gave him an easier time getting a driver's license for a car.

On the plus side, our son has been to 56 countries and learned about the geography, history, culture, people and language of each. There is no minus to this. He has seen every major Greek and Roman ruin, and most of the minor ones. He has visited most of the significant cathedrals and mosques, and been to Petra. How do you quantify the experience of sailing within 100 yards of an active volcano (it wasn't as stupid as it sounds), having an entire village in Indonesia line up to touch you, watching for hours as a humpback mother teaches her calf to breach, and exploring an underground city in Turkey? I could go on with such experiences, but it would take the entire magazine.

Having children aboard while cruising requires dedication of the parents to home-schooling, to being a playmate when other children aren't around, and permits a less spontaneous cruising lifestyle than enjoyed by cruisers without children. Some people perceive this as a downside, but we do not.

Of utmost importance is how Ryan regarded the experience. I can tell you that he didn't want to stop, and kept lobbying to continue for at least another year, then another. Our advice on children and cruising? Don't leave home without one.

Mike Moore's letter explaining why a certain Hallberg-Rassy carried her dinghy so high raises a couple of issues about Med mooring that perhaps need explaining. Early on in our two years in the Mediterranean, we developed a Med-mooring technique that has stood the test of hundreds of applications. We never went in stern first with our Mason 53, but always bow first - and for a number of reasons. First, I have much better control - which is important in a crosswind. Secondly, the available space is generally much less than our 15-foot beam plus two feet of fenders on each side, so the pointy end fits in better. And, the resulting sideways shuffling of the neighbors is more gradual. Thirdly, it is much more private not having our cockpit under the eyes, and our BBQ under the nose, of every person strolling the dock.

We solved the climb-down-to-the-dock-over-the-pulpit problem by designing a ladder that hung off the pulpit, with a folding leg to brace it off the bow. This was generally the most photographed object in every marina we visited, and I will be happy to provide design details.

I have some differences with Jimmie Zinn's letter in the May edition titled, Mexican Waters Can Become Dangerous. I, of course, can't disagree with the truth of the title. I do have to say that during our six-year-plus, 40,000-mile circumnavigation, we never experienced more than 35 knots of sustained wind at sea. We achieved this by utilizing one of the hardest to learn sailing skills - patience. As an example, we sat for three weeks in San Remo, Italy, waiting for a suitable weather window to cross the Golfe de Lyon to Barcelona, Spain - and as a result had a wonderful sail. Others who took off earlier got beaten up to various degrees. Admittedly, San Remo is not the worst place in the world to spend three weeks, but you get the point.

Before departing any port, we would tap all the sources of weather information that we could: weatherfax, SSB, VHF, AM, FM, newspaper, local fishermen and anything else available. Then if, on our intended day of departure, the sailing conditions were not 100% sure, we stayed in port. Part of our pre-sail routine is a series of questions my wife and I ask each other. One of her questions is, "Does it feel right to go?"

Unfortunately, most sailing schools don't teach patience, and racers never learn it. The skill can be gained only by cruising experience, and then only by dedication and devotion to that lifestyle.

David Hammer's May Courtesy and Respect letter on the so-called 'Ugly American' syndrome brought to mind the 56 countries we visited on our circumnavigation. We had no problems with the officials in any country by following a very simple rule: "It is their country, their rules and regulations, their language, customs and food, and if we don't like it we can leave." Under no circumstances did we complain in public. This stood us in good stead while wading through the 27-form entry marathon in Fiji, coping with arrest by the secret police in the Sudan, dealing with the Sri Lankan customs officials who wanted to be presented with every loose item they saw, and generally making every country a real pleasure to be in.

Having a child with us was a major plus in this regard, and opened many doors that would have otherwise been shut. Making an attempt to learn and speak a few phrases of the local language is the second best icebreaker. Sure you may not say what you think you are saying, and you do have to grin when you are laughed at, but it is friendly laughter. I once had a 30-minute conversation with an old gentleman in a market in the middle of Turkey, surrounded by quite a crowd. Neither of us spoke more than a word or two of the other's language, but gestures, air-diagrams, and arm-waving did the trick. I have absolutely no idea what we were talking about, but it was a wonderful experience, and everyone had a great time.

A number of people reported problems in Mexico with DHL. We would have been delighted to have those problems in most of the countries we visited during our circumnavigation. The one exception is Panama where, as the Wanderer reported, you seem to be able to get everything very quickly and without a lot of red tape. Our boat was hit by lightning in the San Blas Islands, which wiped out all of our electronics. Pantaneus, our wonderful insurer - and, I just noticed, a new Latitude advertiser - simply told us to replace the damaged equipment with new and send them the bills. They even offered a cash advance to help out. We placed the equipment order with a dealer in Marina del Rey, engaged an agent in Panama, and all 20+ boxes arrived on the boat in a week. Our only hassle was finding storage for them.

Contrast that with Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas. There is an airport there with daily flights from Papeete, so both the U.S. freight company and I were confident that our part would have speedy transit. Despite our limited grasp of each other's language, after three weeks of daily visits by me, the local postmaster and I had become quite friendly. Finally, I understood what he was saying. "You are waiting for a package! Only letters come by plane, packages come by boat."

Contrast this with Indonesia, where the part we were having shipped in was clearly and identifiably duty-free - but the freight company paid duty anyway. "Because that's what we do," the agent told us! And he wouldn't release the package until I had paid him the duty that didn't need to be paid. "You can get a refund from the government," he told me.

With a great deal of trepidation, I must take on Max Ebb and Lee Helm for mostly getting it wrong in their May issue comments on attributes required by cruising boats. My ideas of right and wrong are based on my six-year-plus circumnavigation, which involved innumerable discussions over cocktails with other cruisers. Having said that, I will be the first to admit that there is no right and no wrong - but there are immutable truths. The first of these is that the singlemost important thing to look for in a cruising boat is storage. Almost everything else can be added later, but rectifying inadequate storage is difficult, expensive, and often simply not possible. I don't just mean storage for food and clothes, but books, CDs, videos, oil, spare parts, dive gear, swim gear, toiletries, paper towels, toilet paper (a subject of major discussion by cruisers), computers, pots and pans, dishes, cups, wine (the next subject of major discussion by cruisers), and with these I am only just starting.

We met a cruising family - husband and wife, plus three teenagers - in Puerto Vallarta about to set off across the Pacific on a lovely new locally-built 52-ft racer/cruiser. The family all slept in pipe bunks, clothing was in suitcases as there was no storage, and a lot of food was in boxes for the same reason. They were fast - but I don't think they were comfortable or happy.

This brings me to another immutable truth - you want beds for cruising, not bunks. Racers sleep in bunks, cruisers sleep in beds. Can you imagine six years of not being able to stretch in bed, and not being able to roll over? Comfortable beds are a cruising necessity.

Not so much a truth, but as a general rule, I'd say the cutter rig is the best possible cruising rig. Both the jib and staysail should be permanently mounted, and preferably both should be roller-furling. For every horror story I have heard about problems with roller furling, I have heard 100 about problems with changing headsails.

Remember, real cruisers don't tack more than once a day, and then only after several hours of deliberation and long VHF consultations. The permanent staysail therefore isn't a problem. We spent a lot of hours in 25-knot winds with two reefs in the main, the full staysail, but no jib - and were perfectly balanced doing 10+ knots.

The real reason for roller furling is safety. The more things you can do from the safety of the cockpit, the better. As most cruisers are couples, either person can reduce sail with perfect safety and ease, during the day or night. This means not only does sail get reduced when it should, but the off-watch person can continue sleeping. And the latter, my friends, is priceless.

The cruiser's dinghy is his sole means of transport, and needs to be as big, with as powerful an outboard, as the yacht will carry. So many times the best/safest anchorage is a long way from the store or the best snorkeling spot. Without a good dinghy/outboard combination, the only alternative is the poor anchorage. We carried a 12-ft inflatable with a 15-hp for general running around, and a 30-hp for long distances and water-skiing. When it comes to inflatables and outboards, get the best. It's only in Mexico and the Caribbean that there are problems with them being stolen. We never locked them up anywhere else.

I really love old wooden boats - other people's old wooden boats. They are a delight to look at and to sail - but to live in? I like my clothes and food to stay dry, and I like to spend my time at anchor swimming and exploring, not caulking and varnishing. I would also like to continue living, so would all wooden boat enthusiasts please remember that I am talking about long-term cruising, not local cruising.

P.S. Please Mr. Ebb and Ms. Helm, don't go into a decline because you gave incomplete advice. I am sure that you are perfectly sound in the fields you know. The Wanderer is bound to overlook this aberration in the light of your long service and devotion.

P.P.S. Life back on land has proven to be much more difficult than we expected, but we're muddling through.

Laurie Pane
Dolphin Spirit, Mason 53
Newport Beach / Brisbane, Australia


We're moving shortly, and I'd prefer not to have to toss a main and a jenny for a 23-footer. Do you know of any organization that collects old sails for the material?

Barney McCloskey

Barney - Come to think of it, we do. Check out the next letter.


I'm interested in finding some old canvas sails that would normally be headed for a dumpster. I am Native American, and we use canvas for our sweat lodges for ceremonial use. I would be willing to place a Classified ad if you could direct me in how to get the most responses.

Pablo Viramontes
Los Gatos, CA

Pablo - In the interest of putting less stuff in landfills, as well as helping with your ceremonies, we'd be happy to publicize your need for canvas sails without you having to take out a Classified. As you may know, very few sails are made of canvas anymore. Would it be sacrilegious to use Dacron or Spectra sails? If it wouldn't, we could get you all the sails you need.

But first, if anyone has any old canvas sails to donate to a good cause, please contact Pablo at his email address.


Since Foxen, owned by Pete and Tracy Caras, now in Ventura after many years in Sausalito, was my conception, I take considerable satisfaction in knowing that she's been so successful over the years. Credit is due to John Alden, the architect; to Lester Stone, builder without peer; and to the magnificent craftsmen whose work can't be duplicated today.

Due to sudden financial reverses, I had to sell the 40-footer much too soon.

As I'm now 95 years of age, I take particular satisfaction in that she retains her original name of Foxen. He was a British sailor who became an early California rancher of some note.

Leonard H. Brown, Jr.

Leonard - As you may know, Foxen won last year's McNish Classic Regatta out of Channel Islands Harbor, and will be back on August 7 to defend her title. In the last issue, we incorrectly said the McNish would be held on the 17th.


When my wife and I purchased our 1986 Passport 40, the previous owner told us that when leaving the boat in Mexico for the summer, he added a bit more Clorox to the water tanks than necessary to retard the growth of any algae during their absence. When they returned several months later, they found that the tanks were leaking at the welds and, as a result, they had to remove and reweld the tanks.

I recall reading about this problem more than once - probably in Latitude - and the subject has come up in conversations with other cruisers. The thinking is that the Taiwanese welds were in some way defective. The problem has since been identified and the welding process changed.

In cruising Mexico from La Paz to Zihuatanejo during the past seven months, we found that marina water in La Paz, Manzanillo/Las Hadas, Barra and Ixtapa was potable. At least other cruisers were drinking it with no negative consequences. The marina operators in Cabo and Mazatlan recommended not drinking the water. However, some cruisers were adding Clorox to it and experienced no ill effects. We found disinfecting agents at stores specializing in camping and hiking equipment, but the stuff is pricy.

Our solution is to use bottled water whenever possible. This costs about $1.40 US for a 5-gallon jug delivered to the boat. When we need to top off with marina water, we Clorox and vent the jerry jugs for a few hours before adding to our main tank, which keeps the chlorine concentration to a minimum. I inspect and clean the interior of the tanks every several months, and so far haven't seen any pitting.

We have been cruising Mexico - and loving it!

David & Mollie Spaulding
Tumbleweed, Passport 40
Sausalito / La Paz


I saw Jane Woodward's letter in the June issue about whether adding chlorine to water might have damaged her boat's stainless steel water tanks. The intersection of drinking water disinfection and corrosion has been of professional interest - and a means toward a cruising kitty - to me for many years, so I'd like to share some information.

Over the last 100 years in the United States, we've all but managed to forget that waterborne diseases have historically been a significant killer of humankind. For much of the rest of the world - including many areas that might be visited by cruising sailors - waterborne diseases are still a fact of life, and are estimated to be the cause of 4% of deaths worldwide. (For some fascinating reading on the subject, see

The number one preventative measure is disinfection of the drinking water supply. There are three relatively common methods that are reasonably available to the cruising sailor: ultraviolet light, ozone treatment and chlorine treatment. All are capable of providing four nines - 99.99% - or better destruction of harmful pathogens.

I don't include the reverse osmosis watermaker process among the disinfection measures, for while it does provide physical removal of contaminants, it doesn't meet the traditional requirements of disinfection.

Of the three disinfection methods, only chlorine provides a lasting disinfection residual. UV light disinfection occurs in a chamber with a lamp that emits UV rays. This results in the death or destruction of most common pathogens. But there is no residual effect, meaning that as soon as the water comes out of the chamber, it is susceptible to recontamination. The same is essentially true of ozone, as any residual effect is short-lived. Both UV and ozone can and are used to provide safe drinking water. The use of either UV or ozone requires that all piping, tankage, and appurtenances downstream of the water treatment system be maintained in a sterile condition. This is possible on a boat, but difficult.

All of the above also apply to reverse osmosis seawater from our watermakers. But with physical removal, we also have to worry about minute amounts of water bypassing the treatment process - say slightly leaky seals - and contaminating our storage tanks. This is why various chlorine disinfection techniques are popular in the United States.

There can be lots of discussion about cancer caused by chlorine disinfection and its breakdown products, and all of those points are valid. However, on a risk-adjusted basis, chlorine is the most forgiving disinfection option for the small water system because it can provide a residual effect that can last days or weeks. This means that downstream storage and distribution facilities need to be kept clean, but are kept sterile by the residual chlorine.

Assuming that most sailors use household sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) bleach as their source of chlorine for disinfection, I'll run some numbers for you. Most bleach is about 5% NaOCl, or 50,000 parts per million. In liquid form, this disassociates to sodium ions (Na+) and hypochlorous (OCl-) ions. It is the latter that provide the disinfection power, and in standard bleach it is present at a concentration of about 34,500 ppm. The amount required for disinfection varies depending on the contamination burden in the water to be treated. Most guides generally recommend a dosage of about 10 ppm of OCl- to start with. This is equal to about one-third cup of household bleach per hundred gallons of water (20 milliliters per 100 liters).

After a brief contact time (half an hour+/-), if there is any remaining residual chlorine present, the disinfection is complete, and the water is safe to drink. If there is no residual chlorine, more must be added until a residual is detectable. In the water treatment business, we used to use 0.5 ppm residual as proof of disinfection. In reality, this value was based on that being the lowest level that could be reliably detected by testing. Current technology allows reliable detection down to about 0.1 ppm, and somewhere between these two values is now used to indicate complete disinfection. Where water is to be stored for an extended period, a higher value is used. When water is to be used immediately, a lower value is used. After all, the less chlorine used, the fewer the by-products - read carcinogens - that are generated.

For the cruising sailor, a cheap swimming pool test kit can allow you to test down to about 0.5 ppm - and provide confirmation of disinfection while minimizing chlorine use. For those who think they can keep everything clean, small treatment units using either UV or ozone treatment are available from a number of marine manufacturers. For those of us who use watermakers, UV, or ozone treatment, it is a good idea to disinfect the entire storage and distribution system at least once a year with a chlorine-based treatment. You want to make sure, of course, that none of the chlorine gets into the watermaker itself, as this can destroy the very expensive reverse osmosis membrane in short order. The water used for the disinfection can be discarded - preferably to a pump station, as residual chlorine can kill marine life if discharged to the ocean - and the user can return to drinking water disinfected by other methods.

Now about chlorine and corrosion. Ms. Woodward's letter asked whether the use of chlorine disinfection could have caused failure of the stainless steel tank in her boat. The brief answer is yes, but it's unlikely. What Ms. Woodward probably heard reference to is chloride pitting of stainless steel. Chloride pitting can indeed be the cause of rapid, catastrophic failure of stainless steel. For instance, I recently performed a failure analysis for a new drinking water plant in Arizona, where chloride in the groundwater led to failure of stainless piping less than a year after the plant opened!

The chloride ion (Cl-) is different from the hypochlorous ion (OCl-) used in disinfection. However, the breakdown of OCl- during the disinfection process can lead to an increase in the Cl- concentration in the water. If a dosage of 10 ppm of OCl- is added to water and all of the chlorine becomes Cl-, it will increase the chloride concentration in the water by about 7 ppm. The exact chemical process of chloride pitting of stainless steel is still subject to considerable debate, but the general consensus is that stainless steel is suitable for water containment at chloride concentrations up to about 100 ppm. Above 100 ppm, some stainless steel alloys can be used successfully if other factors are controlled.

Thus disinfection by use of chlorine and the relatively minor increase in chloride concentration that may be attributed to the disinfection process is not likely to result in chloride pitting failure of stainless steel. Unless, that is, the water is severely overdosed, but at that level it would be too stinky to drink. A swimming pool that stinks of chlorine has a residual of only 2-5 ppm chlorine.

Having said all this, chloride pitting failure of the tank is still possible. In the Bay Area, some public water supplies - mostly those that rely on Delta or groundwater - may contain chloride concentrations that are harmful to stainless steel. The same may be true outside the Bay Area, depending on the location.

In addition, the ocean in which our boats float is full of sodium chloride at concentrations that are definitely harmful to stainless steel. The salt concentration in sea water is about 35,000 ppm, which results in a chloride concentration of about 21,000 ppm. This is why stainless steel is not recommended below the waterline - and is a poor choice for anything that will be in regular contact with bilge water. Instead, bronze and monel fasteners are used, or specialty alloys of stainless steel such as Aquamet. Even above the waterline, stainless steel failures can frequently be traced to chloride pitting where the saltwater can dry. The chloride combines with the sodium to form salt, reducing the pitting potential. But in hidden nooks and crannies - inside swages, trapped behind chainplates, in tiny stress cracks - where the saltwater can stay liquid, and perhaps increase in chloride concentration through partial evaporation, the chloride in the saltwater can lead to rapid failure of the stainless steel.

In the case of a storage tank, pitting from the outside can be caused by bilge water, or the introduction of just a little sea water - say through the vent- into the inside of the tank, can increase the chloride concentration to a level harmful to stainless steel - without affecting the taste. About 0.5% seawater will bring the chloride concentration above 100 ppm. For more information in an understandable format, check out:

Because of the possibility of chloride corrosion, I'm not a big fan of stainless tanks in the bilge of the boat. I know they have been used in a lot of cases, but there have also been a lot of failures. If stainless is a must, careful selection of the alloy is required. If it can be maintained, coating the outside of the tank with paint, plastic, or powder coat can greatly reduce the chance of chloride pitting by providing a physical barrier between the stainless steel and the chloride. (And you thought using stainless steel meant you didn't have to do that!) The risk here is that a scratch in the coating can provide one of those nooks or crannies and speed up the pitting.

That's my brief version of an answer to Ms. Woodward's question. There are textbooks devoted solely to chlorine and corrosion.

Anduril is here in the Bay Area for the summer. We spent a year doing a northern Pacific loop to Hawaii, Midway and Alaska. We've just completed a major refit, and will be headed south this winter - although probably not with the Ha-Ha, which is too big a crowd for us. But thanks for putting out a great publication that has stayed true to its roots.

Don Sandstrom
Anduril, Cross 40 trimaran

Don - And thank you for the excellent letter, as we think we now actually have a basic grasp of the subject. As a result, even though we have a watermaker, we may go back to buying bottled water for personal consumption.

For readers not familiar with the Sandstrom family's Cross 40 Anduril, she's also done two circumnavigations. Joanne Sandstrom wrote about their boat and travels in the 1983 book, There And Back Again.


In the June issue, Tom Dagget inquired about the protocol in flying flags and burgees. It is all in a booklet entitled, Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association, Yacht Club Uniforms, Flag Etiquette Guidelines 2000. Copies are available.

Dedrick Denison


Hey, that's my boat! At least she was in the '50s. The photo on page 117 of the May issue of Latitude shows Mistress dismasted and disheveled, a sorry condition for a lady. And make no mistake, my Mistress was indeed a lady. Before I met her, she had won many races around San Francisco with Aldo Alessio at the helm. She had raced to Honolulu, and then to Tahiti. I acquired her soon after she returned to San Pedro, and in 1956 raced her to Acapulco to capture the President of Mexico Trophy. More silverware followed in the 1957 TransPac and the 1960 Acapulco race. All the silverware she won in these and lesser races was not her main attraction, however.

Mistress changed my life. She introduced me to cruising in Mexico during the '50s and '60s, when five or six sailboats clustered at Cabo San Lucas made that unprotected anchorage look too crowded. Those 'frontierland' voyages eventually led to my writing the Mexico Report column in SEA magazine for about 15 years. Two cruising books and numerous magazine articles added to my writing credits. From all this I've made a fortune - if you count your 'wealth' in the number of friends you've made. All this, thanks to a very aptly-named boat. I can't help but wonder who Mistress has been hanging around with the past 40 years.

P.S. I've lost track of how many years Latitude has been popular on the waterfront. Congratulations, and keep up the good work.

Dix Brow

Readers - We remember reading Dix's books when we started cruising. He also did deliveries, but as he noted in one of his books, "Nobody ever paid me to deliver a boat downwind."


I wanted to give you a heads-up that the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors ( needs a new rudder for their Ranger 29. I only know this because one of their members posts to the Ranger 23 list I belong to. I'm not affiliated with BAADS myself.

I think BAADS may be contacting Foss Foam about a new one, and they're probably looking at costs of $700 to $1500, plus shipping and installation. That's just a guess on my part. At any rate, I know Latitude readers to be a helpful bunch, and thought it might be something you'd get a kick out of sharing with them. Who knows, maybe a local yard would even donate some labor to replace the rudder.

Scott Keck
Chaos, Ranger 23
Emery Cove, Emeryville


A couple of years ago we bought a new Forespar boom vang from West Marine for our Swan 65 Cassiopeia. The end fittings are castings, and one of them shattered in moderate wind and sea conditions last fall on the second leg of the Ha-Ha. I called Forespar, whose factory is about an hour from our marina in Southern California, and told them the warranty period was long over. They told me to bring it over.

Well, I just picked up the repaired vang with a new end-fitting and a new spring. I hadn't asked for the spring, but they installed it because they've re-engineered the spring since I bought the vang. Furthermore, they refused payment for the repairs. You gotta love a company that stands behind its products even when the warranty period is past.

P.S. We loved the winter coverage of St. Barth and the rest of the Caribbean. Now if we can just figure out a way to get the time off in order to take Cassiopeia there.

Rennie & Anne Waxlax
Cassiopeia, Swan 65
San Pedro


I would like to add a few comments to your discussion with Pete Kantor, and explain some of the real advantages to a ketch rig.

First, it was hard to follow the discussion, as you seemed to be confusing the yawl and ketch rigs, which are very different and designed for different purposes. A yawl has the mizzen mast stepped aft of the rudder post or rudder shaft, which makes it a relatively small sail. The designed purpose is as a riding sail, not a driving sail, and it is mostly used to keep a boat headed into the wind, either while fishing or at anchor. A yawl mizzen is usually cut flat.

The mizzen mast on a ketch is stepped in front of the rudderpost or rudder shaft, and its designed purpose is to reduce the size of the individual sails - and still provide the total amount of sail needed to drive the boat. The full mizzen on a ketch is not usable as a riding sail, as the draft provides enough drive to move the boat around. To use the mizzen on a ketch as a riding sail, it must be reefed down to a very small area.

The most widely used argument for a sloop over a ketch is the increased efficiency for going upwind, which is a fact, but that advantage comes at a heavy price. The taller rig exerts more heeling moment, which requires a lot of rail meat or additional ballast somewhere else. I have not noticed sloops having any advantage over ketches on other points of sail. And of course, the taller rigs on sloops are weaker and give more problems.

I buddyboated with a sloop and a cutter for a lot of my trip to New Zealand. Both were more modern designs than my boat and had longer waterlines. But I had no trouble either keeping up with, or making faster passages than, Dick and Al with their different rigs.

The poor upwind performance on a ketch can be greatly improved by setting the mizzen traveler more upwind to get it out of the dirty wind from the mainsail. On all other points of sail, it is equal to or better than the other rigs.

As to the usual refrain that mizzen sails cost more than they are worth, I never heard that argument until the big boat selling boom was taking place a few years ago, and the competition turned yacht salesmen into high pressure operators that would say anything to sell the boat they had in stock. My best guess is that the extra expense for a ketch rig is probably 5% or less of the total cost of the new boat, and even that is partially offset by the shorter main mast, shorter rigging, and smaller mainsail. Spread over the 30 or 40 year life of a boat, the cost of the mizzen rig on my boat comes to about 100 dollars a year in 1970 dollars.

Now, I will get personal and tell you why I bought this ketch 32 years ago - and have never seen a sloop I would trade her for. At that time - before the development of roller-furling and self-tailing winches - the conventional wisdom was that a man in good shape could safely handle a boat with a mainsail of about 500 sq. ft. For a man like myself who likes crew, but does not want to be dependent on them to go or continue cruising, that size mainsail pretty well limited the size of sloop I could handle by myself to around 40 feet. But by going to a ketch rig, I was able to step up to a 50-ft boat. I have 1,200 sq ft of sail to drive my larger boat, but the main is still only 500 sq ft. I believe with roller-furling and other advances that those boat size numbers could be increased, but the relative difference would be the same.

I have seen several well-balanced discussions in Latitude about the relative merits of monohulls and catamarans, and the final deciding factor comes down to the personal objective of the owner. I feel the same situation pertains to the relative merits of the different rigs.

Ernie Copp
Orient Star, Cheoy Lee Offshore 50
Alamitos Bay Marina, Long Beach

Ernie - Thanks for the informative explanation.


I've been reading your publication for nearly three years while building my sailing skills on both the Columbia River in the Portland area as well as in Puget Sound. I'm looking for information/publications on where to be during what months to enjoy relaxing sailing. Certainly there are areas to avoid during certain times of the year because of prolonged bad weather or hurricanes. And places like Puget Sound are generally great after the Fourth of July to the end of September. Is there a book or a reference that provides information on the Pacific and other cruising areas?

Alan Hughes
Vancouver, Washington

Alan - We suggest you consult the specific cruising guide for each area, or for a more global view, check out Jimmy Cornell's nearly 650-page World Cruising Routes.

For a general view of the most popular places in the Pacific, it goes like this:

The Pacific Northwest and Alaska - Summer only for the obvious reasons.

Northern California - Best in summer because of the temperatures and the more consistent wind. Late summer is warmer and tends to have lighter wind and flatter seas.

Southern California - Best in the summer, but there can be many shorts-and-T-shirt days even in the winter. June and July are often overcast and gloomy. September and October are uncrowded at places like Catalina and it's often the best weather of the year.

Sea of Cortez - Spring and fall are the best, because winter is too cold for swimming and summer is hotter than Hades.

Mainland Mexico - November through late May are wonderful, but June through November bring heavy rains, high humidity, and the threat of hurricanes.

Central America to Panama - Winter is great. Summer is terrible because it's the rainy season and it rains buckets. The lightning can be wicked. Some parts of Costa Rica and Nicaragua average 50 strikes a year - per acre!

The Northeast United States - June through the end of September. It's too cold and drizzly the rest of the time.

The South Pacific - The best time is March through the end of October. You can go to the Marquesas as early as December and probably won't have problems with tropical cyclones, but it drizzles all the time. You want to be gone by November 1 to avoid tropical cyclones - or else have a heck of a good hiding place.

The Caribbean - The Caribbean offers great conditions all year, although they are different between summer and winter. Winter is windier with rougher seas, and all the great boats are there. The weather is perfect! Come summer, the wind is lighter and the seas flatter - which may be more enjoyable for less-experienced sailors. However, it's a bit hotter, more humid, and there is a chance of hurricanes.

The Med - Winter is too bloody cold! Summer is very hot and crowded, but can be lots of fun. Late spring and early fall are probably the best.

In general, sailing is best in the temperate areas of each hemisphere during that hemisphere's summer, and best in the tropical areas of each hemisphere during that hemisphere's winter. There are a few places where sailing out of season makes sense, but not many. So plan carefully.


In the May issue, Mike Moore mentions that a dinghy, held up high on its davits, ". . . increases the inertial stability to the boat."

In your response, you assert that ". . . having a heavy dinghy up so high is not going to increase stability, but rather decrease it. For maximum stability, as much weight as possible needs to be as low and as close to the center of the boat as possible . . ."

I suggest that what you really meant when you wrote "stability" is the overall righting torque of the boat, and that when Mike wrote "inertial stability," he meant rotational inertia.

The book General Physics by Douglas C. Giancoli and published by Prentice Hall, defines, on page 173, rotational inertia or moment of inertia of a body.

In the case of a sailboat, the axis of rotation would be at or near the center of buoyancy.

In numerical terms, rotational inertia is defined as the sum of all the point masses contained in the body multiplied respectively by the squares of their distances from the axis of rotation.

So if one of the masses that comprises the boat as a whole is moved farther from the center of buoyancy, rotational inertia is increased.

In conceptual terms that apply to a sailboat, rotational inertia is the tendency of the boat to resist any impetus to begin heeling or to stop heeling, without regard to the issue of gravity and therefore without regard to ballast.

I believe that the usefulness, with regard to stability, of keeping a dinghy raised up high on the davits applies to stationary situations such as those which are typical while moored or at anchor, in which the boat stays very nearly upright and therefore the horizontal component of the distance of the dinghy from the center of buoyancy - the anti-righting arm, and therefore the anti-righting torque of the dinghy - tends to be very small.

Certainly I wouldn't place the dinghy so high while underway or, God forbid, while racing, as the anti-righting torque grows proportionally to the sine of the heeling angle (measured from vertical).

In light of the above, I think that you're both correct, but neither used the most proper nomenclature.

John Brenneise

John - All right, all right, so we didn't do very well in high school physics. We blame it on our darn teacher at Skyline High in Oakland, who kept excusing himself to sneak into the back room to inhale a couple of more Pall Malls. The 'high booty' davits might be a good idea inside quiet marinas, but not necessary at anchorages. Some of them - such as Corossol, St. Barth, where the photo of the Hallberg-Rassy was taken - are subject to a lot of rolling, which means you'd have all kinds of trouble with, you know, the overall righting torque business. That might keep you up all night.


In your May issue Letters, Michael Murray wrote: "Hawaii is in the middle of the Pacific, so it obviously gets weather, but the weather only hits one side of the island at a time."

I respectfully but strongly disagree. Without even going into the way the wind gets compressed between the islands and other geographical variables, I'll simply point out the day this past January when Kona (southwest) winds were blowing at 40 knots on the leeward coast, and as they came over the top of the Ko'olau mountains, the downslope effect created recorded winds of up to 92 knots in Kaneohe Bay. It was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride on both sides of the island. And it's not unusual.

Rick Ermshar
Kaneohe, Hawaii


It seems impossible that it was all the way back in '95 that you did the Latitude Interview with Ann and me - and that we've not communicated since. We're still cruising, but with a new boat, and are still caught in the 'South Pacific eddy'. What finally got me motivated to write was the series of letters regarding DHL's seemingly atrocious record with delivering cruiser packages in Mexico. Sadly, DHL's sad performance has spread as far as Tasmania. 

In February, we ordered a new prop from the Flex-O-Fold dealer in the Northeast United States. They shipped the prop via DHL and promised delivery in Hobart in four to five days at a cost of $208 U.S. When our prop failed to arrive after 10 days, we started looking on their website tracking feature. Bottom line? "It's lost, mate." After more time and phone calls, the vendor filed a claim.

By this time, DHL was required to really look for it - and found it in, of all places, the bin marked 'Melbourne' at the airport in New York City . . . just where it was supposed to have been. Fancy that. So a few days later, DHL shipped it to Singapore, where it languished for a few more days before being transshipped to Melbourne. There, they contrived to lose our prop again! There were more phone calls, each with a frustrating period of being put on hold whilst listening to recorded adverts lauding DHL's reliability.

Eventually, they managed to get it to Hobart - where they lost it again!

After having our prop in their hands for 25 days, they delivered it to friends in Hobart - where they presented a bill for an additional $203.50 in 'airport fees'. With winter approaching and a dead prop on our boat, we were pretty desperate to get to warmer northern climes, so we paid the ransom and accepted delivery. To say I'm not pleased with DHL is not quite severe enough - but then I'm turning into a crotchety old fart. I just don't think that I'll use their services again!  

Jim & Ann Cate
Insatiable II
Manly, Queensland, Oz

Jim and Ann - Twenty-five days and over $400 to ship a prop to Tazmania? That's not very impressive.

It's inevitable that mistakes will be made. The important thing is what a company does to rectify them. For example, last winter we flew American Airlines from San Francisco to St. Martin on our way to St. Barth. Within our baggage was a much-needed and rather expensive high-output alternator. For some reason that one box got shipped to Jamaica rather than St. Martin. We weren't thrilled that our alternator didn't show up, but were more than satisfied when American delivered it all the way to St. Barth within 18 hours.


I'm happy to report that after 10 years and 25,000 nautical miles and smiles, we sold our beloved Pilothouse 37 Polly Brooks. And even though she was in the Virgin Islands, we sold her exclusively through the Classy Classifieds!

Having sold Polly, we're now in the final stages of getting underway aboard our newly-acquired Hylas 47 Gallivanter. She boasts classic Stevens lines and has the fine attention to detail for which Hylas is known. Although she's a great boat, she was suffering from four years of Caribbean charter abuse and then 10 years of neglect in the backwaters of the local lagoon. So it's been a challenging task to resurrect and convert a performance charter boat into a comfortable cruiser - while getting adjusted to a new life with a new baby aboard a new boat. Toys and tools are scattered everywhere - and we're loving it! We've had to repair or replace nearly every system in the boat, and I've tried to redo everything better than original while I'm at it.

Given the importance of rigging strength, and knowing the problems associated with stainless steel chainplates suffering from crevice corrosion due to oxygen starvation, I am curious if you or any of your readers have anything positive to say about replacing the chainplates with ones made of manganese bronze. I'm not a metallurgist, but it seems to me that manganese bronze would be far superior to stainless steel for chainplates, as I have come to believe that it has greater tensile strength, does not work-harden, and does not corrode in tight spaces lacking free oxygen movement. Many of my friends who own old wooden boats tell me their bronze chainplates are original equipment, and they have never had to give them any thought in the decades they have owned them. On the other hand, knowledgable friends with fiberglass boats tell me it's prudent to have new stainless steel chainplates made at least every 10 years . . . and that if bronze were any better than stainless steel, then modern boatbuilders would surely have been using it.

We plan to meander back across the Pacific as soon as our son gains his sea legs, and hope to take several years to get to the other side of that ocean. I intend to install new chainplates before we leave the Caribbean, as they're bloody expensive on this size boat, and I certainly do not want to have to start looking for a metal shop as soon as we get back to Ozzy - should we have the good fortune of a 10-year voyage. And why not bronze chainplates?

P.S. Sorry we missed Profligate during the recent Caribbean capers. Perhaps next year?

Kirk, Cath & Stuart McGeorge
Gallivanter, Hylas 47
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Kirk, Cath and Stuart - Surely we'll get a response on your chainplate questions from someone who knows more on the subject than we do. As for our not making it to the U.S. Virgins this last year, we probably won't be back until the winter of '05-'06 - although you can never be sure.

As you were the ones to introduce the sailing world to the transit of Venus, how did your big party go at one of the observation sights from 400 years ago?


My wife and I recently visited San Francisco Bay and the Oakland Estuary with our Santa Cruz-based 32-ft Bayliner. On April 10 we were stopped and were issued a citation in the Estuary for travelling at an unsafe speed - 15 in a 5 mph zone! We're protesting the way it was handled.

Not only were we not doing anywhere near 15 knots - our diesel-powered Bayliner has a top speed of 13-14 knots and cruises at 10 knots - but we were unfamiliar with the area, and we didn't see any of the speed limit signs that were supposedly posted.

To make matters worse, we were told that our speed wasn't the problem, our wake was. Since it was a windy day, just about any speed would have looked like it was producing a wake. I was further told that even 5 mph would have been too fast as our boat was too big!? That I needed to cross the Estuary at idle.

Since I fly fire-fighting aircraft for the California Department of Forestry, I don't understand why I can't get a continuance until fire season is over.

We further don't understand why a citation is the only way to go with the city of Alameda. We could certainly understand the city's policy if we had a slip on the Estuary and were familiar with the area. But Alameda is simply telling their officers not to exercise any judgement. If Alameda has a 'no tolerance' policy, we have one, too. We'll never again cruise the Estuary. We find the area hostile, unhelpful, and I will never put my perfect driving record at further risk again.

Raymond G. DiLorenzo
Nevada City

Raymond - California state law says that the maximum speed for a motor vessel within 200 feet of a dock or landing - which means much of the Estuary - is 5 mph. In most cases, the problem with boats going faster than that is not so much their inherent speed as the wake they create. A 32-ft Bayliner doing 10 knots is going to create a substantial wake. Our catamaran is on an end-tie in Sausalito, where the 5 mph law is often violated, so we're experts on the subject.

Boat wakes have done a lot of damage on the Estuary over the years, so boatowners and marina owners finally got so fed up that they've recently put a lot of pressure on government agencies to do something about it. They'll be glad to hear you got a citation. Whether or not you should have gotten away with just a warning is something for others to debate.


I would like to thank all of the cruisers who stopped at beautiful Bahia Asunción along the Pacific Coast of Baja this year, particularly those who shared their books, videos and stories with my family. It was great to meet you all - and speak some English! For those who don't know, I used to be a cruiser until I married a Mexican fisherman who lives here. Speaking on behalf of everyone at Asunción, it was a pleasure helping you get diesel, food, medical attention - and even sending your emails.

But I'm primarily writing to remind cruisers that we have the same radio regulations in Mexico as in the States. That means Channel 16 is a hailing and emergency channel only. Along the Pacific Coast of Baja, most villages don't have phones, so the people have to rely on VHF radios for important communications. Since we leave our radios on all the time, it's infuriating to hear the number of cruisers who use 16 for idle chitchat. It may not look like anyone is around on the seemingly isolated Pacific Coast of Baja, but we are, so after hailing another boat, take your conversation to another channel.

A second issue I'd like to address is that of cruisers hiring Mexicans to provide services. Because we aren't as organized as you are in the States, there are no set prices, and there can be a vast difference in costs for services rendered. The important thing is to ask first! Establish a price before you agree to the service. I say this because I've heard some horror stories about expensive laundry, fuel delivery, water taxi services, and the like. Make sure you know what you are going to pay before the fact.

In our less-organized environment, prices can fluctuate wildly depending on the individual, and how broke or how hung over he/she might be. One day a fisherman may bring you to shore for next to nothing - but the next day he'll demand 100 pesos - or more! So buyers beware, agree on a fee beforehand, and save yourself a big hassle later.

And you can shop around. One local fisherman once charged a guy 400 pesos to deliver 40 gallons of fuel. So if you think a guy is asking too much for a job, wait for another person to make an offer - or seek assistance on the radio. And while you shouldn't get ripped off, remember not to be cheap, either. You don't want to insult the locals, or you may find yourself having problems later. You may think you got a real bargain by trading an old cap for a dozen lobsters, and that the guy liked you because he smiled graciously and thanked you. But you should hear the fishermen tell the others what a cheap, insulting and ignorant the S.O.B. you are.

I don't think all cruisers realize that lobster they give you means less pesos to feed their family. So try to be fair. A lobster costs nearly $10 U.S. if you buy one from the plant - which is the only legal way to do it. So if you illegally trade for lobster, make it a fair deal. Fishermen usually won't ask for money in exchange for lobster, as it's highly illegal. And they will smile when you give them an old shirt or a can of Spaghetti-O's in return, but come on! Do what's right.

The Mexicans are a generous, gracious people who usually don't charge enough. So cough up something decent - fishing lures or some cash for those yummy lobsters. Help their kids have good meals, too.

I hope these suggestions will help make everyone's cruising in Mexico pleasant and safe. And when heading south or north this fall, remember to visit us at Bahia Asunción, where we can take care of what you need, from fuel to laundry, and do it safely. Hail Sirena on 16. We want to be your cruising connection on the Baja coast, and we're looking forward to seeing you.

Shari Bondy
Bahia Asunción

Shari - Good advice all the way around.


In the April issue, Jim Barden wrote a letter complaining about having to replace the partially corroded burner caps on his four-year-old Force 10 stove. He noted that the burner caps on our new stoves are now stainless, and therefore won't corrode.

The reason his stove didn't come with stainless burner caps is that our supplier did not offer them at the time. In fact, the only stove available with stainless burner caps four years ago was an Australian model that cost three times as much as Barden's Force 10 model.

At Force 10, we continually work to upgrade our products. So as soon as our supplier made stainless burner caps available, we put them on all our new stoves. Unfortunately, this required a redesign of the burner caps, so the new stainless burner caps don't fit on our older models.

Periodic part replacement is not uncommon with boat gear, and while we're sympathetic to Barden, we don't think having to pay $19 every four years for new burner caps is excessive. Periodic maintenance is also important for marine stoves, and as such, we encourage everyone to visit our website to review the maintenance procedures necessary to keep our stoves and other products in top conditions.

Brad Clark
Senior Vice-President, Force 10 Marine

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