HELP WITH BOAT PARTNERSHIPS
I'm writing in response to Jim Rasmussen's request for help on
a boat partnership. There is - or has been - a publication for
that subject titled Yachtsman's Legal Guide To Co-Ownership.
It was written by Dexter and Paula Odin, and published in 1981
by John de Graff, Inc., Clinton Corners, New York 12514. The
publication goes into great detail about how and why to draw
up a legal document for a partnership. I found this little gem
a little late - after a partnership I had been in fell apart.
H. Bernard Quante
BOAT PARTNERSHIPS 101
There was a letter in the May edition
from a Jim Rasmussen requesting information on setting up a boat
partnership. You might want to refer him to the March/April 2005
edition of Wooden Boat, for on page 46 there is an article
titled Boat Partnerships 101.
P.S. I don't know how you keep up the enthusiasm, but Latitude
sure is fun to read!
South Lake Tahoe
Jim - It's easy to maintain our enthusiasm because we love
sailing and writing about it. In fact, we enjoy writing about
it so much that if they ever get high speed Internet access to
caskets six feet under, we may continue even after we're dead.
HELP WITH HIGH SPEED WIRELESS AT PUNTA MITA
I read the 'Lectronic
item about Latitude and SailMail perhaps working together
to set up high speed Internet access for anchored boats at Punta
Mita - and perhaps other anchorages in Mexico. What a great idea!
I'll cheerfully sign up to help pay for the equipment needed
for such wireless hotspots on the water. I'll go a step further
and offer my son-in-law's expert services in advising just what
equipment should be used - he built eBay's entire Web site structure!
Bobcat, Crowther 38
Brisbane, California / Melbourne, Australia
Bob - Our next step is figuring out how much the provider
in Mexico would charge for an indeterminate number of users.
For the record, at this point we're still at the pre-cruising-season
exploratory stage, and haven't even asked SailMail for a technology
commitment. But Stan Honey and Jim Corenman of not-for-profit
SailMail are good friends, and there might even be some good
synergy, because if at some point there were enough hotspots
at Mexican anchorages, it might take some of the load off SailMail
stations, whose capacity can be better utilized for boats offshore.
CAN I GET A BERTH TO NEW ZEALAND?
I'm about to graduate from Georgia Tech in Atlanta, and once
I get out of school I hope to crew on some boats. I've found
a job in New Zealand, and would like to find a berth on a boat
sailing there this summer. Will there be many boats leaving in
late May for the South Pacific? Do you think I'd have a chance
getting on a boat that would take me to New Zealand?
Brian - For both safety and pleasure,
recreational boats have to follow the seasons. There won't be
many boats leaving California for the South Pacific in late May
because, in addition to it being rather late in the season, it
would mean crossing a major hurricane zone right at the start
of hurricane season. If you want to sail from North America to
French Polynesia, the place to be is Mexico in February or March,
when a young guy with a college degree has an excellent chance
of finding a berth.
Another thing to keep in mind is that hardly any of the boats
sailing across the Pacific will reach New Zealand before early
November. Why? Because it's winter in the southern hemisphere
from May to October and, compared to the South Pacific, the weather
If you don't have to be in New Zealand for your job until November,
you could fly to French Polynesia, Tonga, or Fiji right now,
and probably get a berth for the rest of the way to New Zealand
later in the year. Papeete is the best place to find a berth
because there is always a lot of crew-shuffling there.
I'M ASKING YOU TO RISK YOUR LIFE
Blair Grinols made a very provocative statement in the interview
with him in the May issue:
". . . if you just constantly clean your oil rather than
change it, it will last just about forever. I learned that -
and the fact that oil has better lubricity after a bit of use
- at an oil seminar years ago."
I have always believed these things but haven't seen them in
print until now. Grinols is risking his life(!) by saying such
stuff, and now I'm asking you to risk your life(!) by following
up with some investigative reporting. What seminar did he attend?
Who sponsored it? Was he present himself? Who do we contact to
prove his statements? This is big stuff.
South Lake Tahoe
Jim - No kidding we risked our lives by publishing that stuff!
Ever since the May issue came out, we've been followed by guys
wearing sunglasses, black hats, and black coveralls with 'Big
Oil' embroidered on the back. And when we got to our office this
morning, there were a couple of bullets on our desk with our
names scratched in them. They were resting in a puddle of oil.
We're too scared to do any investigative reporting.
Blair says he attended the seminar decades ago and can't remember
who put it on. But it was presented by some guy from the automotive
industry in Detroit. We bet he's dead now(!), don't you? We don't
have any proof that what Blair says is true, but you might be
interested in the following letters.
BLAIR GRINOLS IS WRONG ABOUT THE OIL FILTERS
In the May interview, Blair Grinols said he got "the last
of the toilet paper oil filters." But that's not true. Check
out the following site for a list of current manufacturers at
P.S. Reading Latitude is one of the highlights of my month.
I GOT 986,000 MILES WITH A TOILET PAPER
The 'toilet paper filter' for gas and diesel engines that Blair
Grinols referred to is currently marketed as the Frantz Filter.
And Blair is right, it's the best filter in the world for gas
and diesel engines. I know, because while using them I got 985,000
miles on my six-cylinder Mercedes between 1973 and 1994.
Java Moon, Yankee Clipper 41
THE ROLLS ARE FOR MY OIL, NOT MY HEAD
I have been using a 'toilet paper filter' for my fuel and oil
for years. They work really well. And it's easy to get rid of
the old filters - just take them to the beach and light them
Q, Willard 30
THE MECHANICS OF GETTING A SLIP ARE
Just a little response to the commentary in 'Lectronic
regarding slip prices here in Santa Barbara. I guess I agree
with the point of view that it seems strange that people are
making money dealing in property which is state-owned. I have
a 40-ft slip here occupied by my Beneteau First 40.7. My
slip is purported to be worth upwards of $60,000 at this point.
But let me ask another question: Does it seem rational that I
should be paying taxes - called possessory interest taxes - on
the water that my boat sits in? And is it rational that
the city, who administers our slips, should collect a transfer
fee - which is just being raised from $125 per foot to $150 per
foot - to add a new owner to the slip? And that includes adding
any relative - other than my wife - to the slip lease.
To carry it a little further afield, how is it that a mooring
in Avalon can be sold for $200,000 or more, when the harbor is
owned by the city? I don't think Santa Barbara slip owners
have a corner on the absurdity of the situations created
by the present shortage of certain-sized slips in certain
You mention the waiting list for slips in our harbor. That waiting
list is and for many years has been: 1) A joke to all who understand
the mechanics of obtaining a slip for a boat in Santa Barbara,
and 2) Populated mostly by either fools or people who are speculating
on obtaining a slip for free and thereby getting a quick profit.
So to answer the question of whether or not it's right for someone
to make a bunch of money off land owned by taxpayers, I would
have to say probably not - but to rectify the situation equitably
would require that we correct all the stupid rules set down
by our governments. And you and I both know that's not going
P.S. I've been a fan of Latitude for too many years -
and we enjoy seeing Profligate tied up at one of our million-dollar
Tranquility, Beneteau 40.7
Max - There's not a point in your letter we disagree with
- including the one that nothing is going to be rectified.
Thanks for the kind words. We enjoy tying up at Santa Barbara's
million-dollar slips from time to time - and we'll be doing so
again in early August just before the start of the race to King
EXPENSIVE RIGHTS TO SLIPS IN SANTA BARBARA
I read the report in the April
19 'Lectronic that somebody was asking $1 million for the
rights to an 80-ft slip in Santa Barbara Municipal Harbor, and
that another person was asking $200,000 for a 50-ft slip. Obviously,
the demand for such slips in Santa Barbara is much greater than
I don't have a problem with people making money off of public
property - as long as that was the intended purpose of the contractual
agreement. After all, people and companies pay for the right
to operate businesses on public land all the time.
That said, I think the idea of berth-holders being able to make
large sums of money by selling the right to their slip is outrageous
- because that was never an intended part of the agreement. The
people were paying for a place to keep a boat, not investing
in 'berth futures'.
Such an arrangement also leads to bad consequences, for as time
goes on, only rich people will have slips. And as long as the
berths keep going up in value, people who don't even want to
use their boats anymore will hold on to them for the investment
value of the slip - thereby denying others access to the ocean.
I think the problem is symptomatic of the fact that berth rates
in Santa Barbara Harbor are too low, because they obviously aren't
reflecting market value. By not having slip rates at market value,
the taxpayers who paid for the marina are getting cheated out
of revenue, while the berthholders who didn't have to pay for
the facility reap windfall profits.
For what it's worth, I've never tried to get a slip in Santa
Cozy Lee, 36' trawler
Eric - It's a thorny issue because good arguments can also
be made for the other side. For example, if you had a boat in
Santa Barbara Harbor and wanted to sell, and the slip couldn't
go with the boat, it would be difficult to sell her. After all,
how many Santa Barbara residents would want to buy a boat when
the closest they could keep her would be 30 miles away? The idea
of charging whatever the market would bear for slips isn't such
a good idea either, because that also would result in only the
rich being able to afford a slip. There's also the problem of
people who have already paid a surcharge of thousands of dollars
for their boats in order to get the rights to the slip. If the
rules were suddenly changed on them, they'd suddenly experience
a 'negative windfall'.
It seems as though there ought to be some kind of middle road
- although we don't know what that would be.
SLIPHOLDERS SHOULDN'T MAKE HUGE PROFITS
I'm writing in response to the report in 'Lectronic
that some slipholders at Santa Barbara's taxpayer-built and maintained
harbor are asking as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars
for rights to the largest slips.
The problem with these marinas - and I include the Ala Wai in
Honolulu and San Francisco's Gas House Cove among them - is that
they have slip rates well below market. As a result, inactive
boaters leave rusting and slowly sinking boats in slips for years
without using them. Taxpayers literally give up revenue - meaning
improved and/or properly maintained facilities - for an individual's
profit. Perversely, every individual in the marina will be happy
to see rates stay low and the facilities not expand - or even
contract, as at the Ala Wai - as it means the value of their
'investment' is surely increasing.
But when the value of 'squatting' on a slip outweighs the value
of sailing a boat, then the purpose of the marina has changed
from public support of a healthy activity and ocean access, to
public support of private individuals making large profits from
'squatting' on taxpayer property. That's not right.
I have a simple proposal to solve the problem. Slip fees must
increase over time, but slipholders will be protected from large
increases by limiting them to the rate of inflation for each
year. But when a boat is sold and the slip is transferred to
the new owner, the slip fee would be adjusted to market rate
- which is likely to be higher than the inflation-adjusted rate.
This would be effective, because the higher the ongoing cost
of a slip, the lower the value of the right to transfer the slip.
Some residual profit would still likely result, but not a lot
of windfall profits.
August - It's an interesting proposal, but we're not sure
the differential between inflation-adjusted rates and market
rates would be enough to have an effect. And then there's the
inequity of one person paying X dollars for a 40-ft berth while
another person has to pay X+10% for an identical berth.
We went to school at Berkeley, so our proposal is even more radical:
Based on the assumption that the purpose of various governments
owning marinas is to provide area residents with reasonably priced
water access, how about making the berth rates inversely proportional
to how often a boat is used and how many people are taken out?
A median minimum usage would be established - say 12 times a
year. The people who use their boats that often would pay the
base rate. Those who used their boats more often, and who took
more people out, would get a proportional discount off the base.
But those who hardly ever - or never - used their boats would
pay a proportionately higher fee. The formula for discounts and
surcharges would be such that it averaged out, thus assuring
the marina the income necessary to properly run the facility.
The beauty of such a plan is that it would: 1) reward those who
actually used their slips for water access; 2) penalize those
whose 'squatting' on a slip denies other people water access;
and 3) provide a strong financial incentive for those who don't
use their boats to store them in backwaters or on the hard until
they start using them again.
One downside of the plan is that it would violate everything
we believe in about individual rights!
LONG LINES AND LONG HOURS IN MEXICO
Thank you for all the information you've been posting about Mexican
check-ins. We traveled in the Sea of Cortez last year as well
as several years ago, and remember the long lines, the long waits,
and the long hours we had to spend whenever we travelled to a
new port. We're going to be heading south again soon, and the
reported change is great news! We thank Tere Grossman, of course,
but we also thank Latitude.
Michael & Normandie Fischer
Michael and Normandie - Gracias. The old clearing system really
was horrible, wasn't it? It made you feel as though you were
being punished over and over again for visiting Mexico.
STILL HAVE TO CLEAR IN AT ISLA MUJERES
We just left the Florida Keys and arrived in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
Just prior to us leaving Key West, it was announced over the
Northwest Caribbean Net that you folks at Latitude had
announced that domestic clearing procedures had been done away
with in Mexico, and it was only necessary to clear into the country
when you arrived and clear out just before you left.
However, here in Isla Mujeres on the Caribbean side, we're told
that this will not be the case for a couple of months, and that
we must still follow the old procedures. As of today, the port
captain will only allow clearing in and clearing out through
an agent. So, regardless of what was said in Mexico City, the
port captains still seem to be making their own rules.
So far it has cost us a total of $140 for the Port Captain, Customs,
Immigration and, we assume, the agent's fee. Other cruisers have
told us that agents have charged them up to $200 for just their
Nonetheless, thanks for all your efforts in getting the changes
in parts of Mexico. We're sure they'll apply to everyone, everywhere
at some point in the future. Perhaps it will happen by the time
we reach the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Right now we are heading
for Belize, Guatemala and Panama. We hope to be in Southern California
this time next year.
Chuck Baier & Susan Landry
Sea Trek, Mariner 40
Chuck and Susan - You folks cleared in at Isla Mujeres just
after the Reglamento 69 was issued and before all the port captains
knew exactly what was expected of them. But there was a meeting
in Mexico City on April 25 & 26 of all the important parties.
During that meeting, Jose Lozano, the Executive Director of the
Merchant Marine, reiterated that the directive had taken effect
on April 19. He said that if any port captains were not complying,
he wanted to be notified. If anyone has any complaints, they
can send them to us and we'll see that they get to Lozano.
By the way, domestic clearing hasn't been completely eliminated.
You no longer have to visit Immigration or Aduana when going
to a new domestic port, but the port captain has to be "informed"
of your arrival and your departure. In many places this is being
done at a marina office or even over the VHF, but in other places
port captains are still requiring mariners to inform them in
person. We doubt the latter is going to last. With port captains'
offices no longer getting money from cruiser clearing fees, we
don't think they're going to want to have anything to do with
A DARK CONSEQUENCE OF THE NEW PROCESS?
My fear is that since the port captains won't be able to get
their mordida from the old clearing procedures, they will
now try to get it by instituting boat inspections, assessing
fines for minor violations, and so forth. The mordida
these folks were getting from each boat having to clear at every
port captain's district was more than they made from their jobs.
That's why the cruisers down in Mexico are telling me they are
worried that new fees, fines, and worse will be imposed to replace
the lost 'income'.
Here's an example. A cruiser friend of mine was stopped for speeding
in a car. He paid the mordida the officer wanted - $20
- and was able to walk away. Had he not done that, his driver's
license would have been held until he saw the judge the next
day. And after waiting to see the judge for six long hours, he
would pay a $3 fine and be on his way. But wouldn't you pay the
Unfortunately, I suspect that some maritime version of this will
likely start soon. As least that's what I'm hearing from folks
south of the border.
Beach House, Switch 51
Marina del Rey
Scott - Ouch! If you were more familiar with the situation
in Mexico, you would have realized that you just falsely accused
all the port captains of being crooks. If you're headed to Mexico,
you might want to temporarily change the name of your boat.
Here's the deal. The approximately $20 fee for clearing in a
port and another $20 to clear out of a port is the normal amount
and is the same everywhere. In order to have checks and balances
over the money paid at port captain's offices, many years ago
the Mexican government changed the rules so these fees were paid
to a bank, not a port captain. This was part of the clearing
aggravation, for you not only had to go to the port captain,
you had to go to a bank to pay the fee, then back to the port
captain to show him a receipt to prove that you'd paid the fee
at the bank. More recently, some port captains were able to accept
credit cards. But the bottom line is that they never saw the
money, so it clearly wasn't a case of mordida.
So when it comes to the loss of current and future clearing fees,
it's not the port captains, but the Mexican government, that's
losing out. But the government is willing to do it in the belief
that such a policy will attract more mariners, and will ultimately
generate more revenue than did the clearing fees.
Where some cruisers suspected that there might have been mordida
involved was when port captains required cruisers to hire ship's
agents to do the paperwork. With some ship's agents charging
as much as $75 per boat for clearing in and out, who is to say
for sure that half of it didn't get back to the port captain
as some form of gratuity? We're not saying that was the case,
but we are saying it was widely suspected. It was one reason
that boatowners were so angry in the few places where they weren't
allowed to do the clearing themselves.
Since there wasn't any mordida before - or perhaps just
rarely in conjunction with ship's agents - we don't expect port
captains or other officials to start putting 'the bite' on cruisers
now. To date we've heard no evidence of any such thing. Indeed,
we and several marina owners in Mexico believe that in a very
short time the port captains aren't going to want to be bothered
with cruisers at all. They'll want marinas to keep log books
of who comes and goes, and be done with it.
WE WOULD HAVE SPENT LITTLE TIME IN MEXICO
We wish to thank President Fox and the other officials who were
responsible for the clearing rules being changed in Mexico. I
cruised Mexico several years ago, and was put off by the necessity
to check in and out of each port. We're getting ready to start a
circumnavigation, and were going to spend as little time as possible
cruising Mexico due to the burdensome rules. Now that they
have changed, we are going to join the Baja-Ha-Ha,
then cruise in Mexico for several months before moving on to
the South Pacific. Again, thanks to everyone who helped
with the change.
Bill Lilly & Linda Laffey
Moontide, Lagoon 470
OUR GOAL WAS TO TO AVOID PORT CAPTAINS
Many thanks and congratulations for your great work on getting
the clearance procedures changed in Mexico! When we came up the
coast from Panama in 2003, we stopped at many strategic anchorages
and towns along the Mexican coast, our goal being to avoid as
many port captains as possible. In the course of the 2,000 miles,
we managed to only have to clear in and out of Zihuatanejo -
and we're very proud of it!
It would be great if you could spread the
sad truth about the Galapagos Islands.
Peter - What "sad truth" about
the Galapagos are you referring to? That it so rapidly populated
that there are some unsavory areas, where anything and everything
can be bought - including drugs and sex with males and females
of all ages? As true as that may be, we prefer to emphasize the
really great stuff, of which there is a lot. By the way, did
you hear they just had a pretty good volcanic eruption there?
A SYSTEM INTENDED FOR COMMERCIAL VESSELS
I want to thank Mrs. Tere Grossman so very much for all her efforts
on behalf of the boaters here in Mexico. In particular, the streamlining
of the check-in and check-out procedures, which were intended
for commercial shipping. The change should benefit Mexico, as
many cruisers avoided ports with port captains because of this
cumbersome procedure. Because of the change, I believe that many
more boaters will now be inclined to visit Mexico and stay longer.
THE TRIUMPH OF HOPE OVER EXPERIENCE
For someone who exercises extreme skepticism at every letter
written to Latitude, you seem to be throwing all your
critical abilities overboard when reporting on the possible abolition
of the old clearing system in Mexico. Could this not be another
case of the triumph of hope over experience?
Because if you think about it, there must be at least 5,000 Mexicans
employed at the many ports throughout the country engaged in
this clearing work. And there must be hundreds more assigned
to filing the mountain of paper officials collect each year.
Then there would be more employed at state and federal levels
for the same purpose. This, of course, would require thousands
and thousands of square feet of office space. Then there are
computers, vehicles, file cabinets and copy machines by the hundreds.
If the government indeed gets rid of check-ins and check-outs
at each port as we've known them, it might be short-lived when
it becomes apparent what they've done to the lives of thousands
of bureaucrats and others. I can imagine a real tsunami gathering
and lashing back at the officials who put in this new policy.
So I recommend keeping the champagne on ice for a few months
or more. If things have changed and stayed changed by then, it
would be time to celebrate.
Taj - We weren't as skeptical as in the past because a reglamento
(directive) had indeed been issued, and stated that the change
had gone into effect that day. Previously, it was all just talk
about legislation everybody hoped would work its way through
Congress, but which was always blocked by special interest groups.
So this time it was different.
And in the month since the directive was issued, virtually everything
seems to have changed. Mariners report being able to check into
new ports with the greatest of ease, the folks at Immigration
and Aduana offices are telling them they don't have to visit
their offices anymore, and the Executive Director of the merchant
marine has asked to be notified if any port captains aren't abiding
by the new directive.
What the new policy represents is a triumph of what is good for
all of Mexico as opposed to archaic rules that profited just
a few. The more altruistic and intelligent people in government
are well aware of this, which is why Fox issued the directive.
While it's true that the special interests who profited from
the old system can't be happy, we think the new policy will stick.
Nonetheless, we think it would be prudent for everyone to take
a minute and write an email that says something to the effect
of: "Thank you for being a part of changing the clearing
regulations for recreational boats in Mexico, as it will encourage
me to visit Mexico with my boat, and/or stay longer than I otherwise
would have. In addition, I expect that I'll spend as much if
not more money than before, and will have more friends come down
to join me." Something like that, but in your own words.
Keep it very short.
We suggest you send your short and sweet message to the Mexican
Marina Owner's Association. Tere Grossman, a member of that
group, will then forward all of your email messages to Mexico's
Secretary of Communications, the Secretary of Tourism, the President
and the Secretary of the Treasury. Hopefully that will 'seal
the deal' for the rest of cruising history in Mexico.
WAAHOOO! CLEARING IS NOW FREE AND EASY!
I couldn't believe my eyes when I read that the clearing procedures
have been completely changed in Mexico!!! Latitude and
Tere Grossman should be proud of yourselves. Waahooo!!! The trickle
down effect of eliminating the paperwork means more leisure time
to spend cruising the cities, sightseeing, and spending our 'dead
presidents' in a country that can really use them. It's a great
day for all planning a cruise to Mexico!
Joe - We at Latitude would love to be able to take
credit for the change, but in all honesty, we have no way of
knowing how much - if at all - our efforts helped. Our guess
is that Tere Grossman and the Mexican Marina Owner's Association
played the major role, and we provided helpful support. We really
don't care, as we're just so delighted the change has been made.
WE'LL PROBABLY STAY IN MEXICO ANOTHER
We're currently anchored off of Loreto, catching up on emails
and phone calls after we spent two weeks coming up from La Paz.
We have to say the attitude is much more relaxed down here now
that the new simple and easy clearing procedures are in place.
When we left La Paz, the port captain still required a normal
check-out, but that was to change in the next few days.
We stayed in Puerto Escondido last night, and simply had to notify
the local harbormaster that we would be leaving. As we were going
to leave before office hours the next morning, he simply wished
us a good trip.
Our plans for when we return to our boat in San Carlos next fall
will probably change because of the change in rules. We most
likely will stay in Mexico another year rather than head to the
Pacific, as it's now so much easier to get around to see the
places we had bypassed because of difficult check-in procedures.
We want to thank Latitude and everyone else who helped
on this issue. Cruising Mexico will certainly be easier and cheaper
Steve & Susan Tolle
Last Resort, Tayana 37
Loreto / Seattle
Steve and Susan - Thanks for the kind words. We recently spoke
to Mary Shroyer of Marina de La Paz, and she confirms that things
have indeed changed in La Paz since you left. She reports that
when people arrive or depart from her marina, she merely notes
the information in the marina's logbook - for free - and that's
all there is to it! No visit to the port captain, no visit to
immigration, no visit to the bank.
CONGRATULATIONS ON A JOB WELL DONE
I'm sure there were many people and organizations involved in
lifting the yoke of the old clearing regulations in Mexico off
the neck of cruisers, but I think Latitude deserves a
large share of the credit. Congratulations on a job well done
and on showing the power of an activist press.
Tuna Pete's Harbor
Mac - We did bust our butts on that issue for many years,
but assume ours was just a supporting role. But no matter, we're
as thrilled as had we been leading the charge.
WHY DIDN'T THEY DO IT LAST YEAR?
At the risk of sounding like a whiner, oh man, why couldn't Mexico
have changed the clearing procedures last year when we were down
there?! Although I'm the one who said that clearing in and out
was "just another Mexican experience that added to the adventure,"
it didn't really, at least after the first couple of times.
On the other hand, I have to wonder if you're sure they've been
changed. After all, we've heard again and again that the Mexican
government was going to eliminate 'domestic clearing', only to
find out it never really happened. In fact, I still don't believe
it. I just hope that all the people who have interpreted this
to mean that you only need to check into the country once, and
out once when leaving, don't end up losing their boats because
they misinterpreted the new directive. I would certainly advise
caution, especially to all the new cruisers headed south.
Karen Whittaker Crowe
Sogno d'Oro, Pearson 422
Karen - Read this month's
Changes and you'll see that cruisers in Mexico have been
checking into new Mexican ports either via marinas or by VHF
with no problem. Some have gone to Immigration and Aduana offices
to get the confirmation that they no longer have to check in
there and that their 10-Year Temporary Import Permits are still
Yes, there were a lot of false starts
with getting rid of the old clearing procedures, but they were
caused by special interest groups thwarting the legislation in
Congress. President Fox finally got fed up with it and issued
a Regelamento or directive - which didn't require congressional
approval - to get around Congress.
NOTHING TO DO WITH BITING WOMEN'S FANNIES?
Your explanation of the boat name Tabooma is really far
out. It makes for a good story, but it wasn't what the Columbia
26 Tabooma was named for. She was, in fact, owned and
named by the late great Wayne Bartlett of the Richmond YC. I
don't know the exact dates he owned her, but I think it was in
the '70s and '80s. Wayne and I both worked for Merrill Lynch;
he in San Francisco and me in Los Angeles.
'Tabooma' does stand for 'take a bite out of my ass' all right,
but it's an old acronym used by the wire operators when all stock
and bond orders were handled by wire. That's where Wayne got
As far as Tabooma having Bora Bora for a hailing port,
I think it was just Wayne's twisted mind that came up with that.
As far as I know, the boat was never in Bora Bora - in fact,
it was never much out of the Bay Area.
I don't know when Wayne sold the boat, but I know that he was
transferred to New York in the '90s and retired from there. He
finally made his way back to the West Coast, and passed away
about 10 years ago. He might have sold the boat before moving
to New York or it might have been part of his estate.
Wayne was a character in the true sense of the word, and did
love his boat. I hope this information helps out Mr. Schujman,
Tabooma's new owner.
ex-owner of Windbreaker
Readers - Everybody loves knowing about the history of their
boat - and even boats they no longer own. For example, we just
got a long letter from Peter Prowant telling us that his family
used to own the Ocean 71 Oceanaire, which we later bought
and renamed Big O. Although we haven't owned her since
'97, his report still made for fascinating reading. And then
just last week Doña de Mallorca was in St. Barth for a
wedding and had dinner with Bruno Greaux, the longtime harbormaster.
He told her that he remembered when our ketch was one of the
biggest boats tied up in Gustavia. Times have changed, of course.
Now she'd have to be more than twice as long to achieve that
GOOD WEATHER SITES FOR FREE
I suggest everyone add the following to their list of useful
weather Web sites: www.wrh.noaa.gov/mtr/.
Then they should try 'Weather Planner - Experimental'. By fiddling
with it, readers should be able to obtain some very localized
- lat-long - hour-by-hour forecasts for wind direction, wind
speed, and so forth.
I think that the 'weatherbuoy.com'
- which you at Latitude recommended - is a great site.
Weather junkie that I am, I'll probably still subscribe. At $30
a year, it's cheap enough. But hey, the dot-gov site is free,
and might be all that some folks need.
Leslie and I still sail in Southern California as well as Northern
California, and have blocked out the August 13 weekend in Two
Harbors, Catalina, when the Ha-Ha folks will be putting on a
Ron - The basic stuff at weatherbuoy.com is free. For example, we
spent a lot of the winter on the hook at Punta Mita stalking
surf. Each morning we'd go up to the Internet cafe and check
out weatherbuoy for the surf and weather forecast. It was reasonably
accurate - and it was free.
IS MY BOAT SUITABLE FOR THE HA-HA?
I'm the owner of a 1995 Catalina 30 MKIII, and have been dreaming
of sailing south to join the Baja Ha-Ha. I've had lots of experience sailing
from Puget Sound north to Desolation Sound on the Catalina 30
as well as on a Catalina 25 and a Catalina 27. I'm wondering
if it's insane for me to think that a Catalina 30 would be safe
for the trip down to the Ha-Ha start and later for whatever the
Sea of Cortez might throw at me?
I've looked through the results of past Ha-Has and noted that
some older Catalina 30s have participated, but none of them from
the Seattle area. Is my boat up to making the trip down? Would
I need to make upgrades? I just don't want to be a Baby Boomer
who has to face retirement in a motorhome watching the boats
Port Orchard, Washington
Dave - In order for us to answer that question intelligently,
we'd have to know how skillful a sailor you are, what condition
your boat is in, and what kind of weather you'd encounter. If
we can operate on the assumption that you're an experienced offshore
sailor, that your boat is in good condition, and that you don't
get hit by severe weather, we think your chances of making it
are good. But if your boat isn't in good shape and/or you get
caught in 45-knot winds for a day or two - which is possible
between Washington and Pt. Conception - you might find yourself
in trouble. As for the Sea of Cortez - and, in fact, all of Mexico
- a Catalina 30 would be a fine boat - as long as you can avoid
the worst of the Northers that blow down the Sea in the winter
and you don't do a Baja Bash in wicked conditions.
By the way, neither Latitude nor the Baja Ha-Ha give specific
recommendations as to what skippers and boats are suitable for
the Ha-Ha. If anyone has the least bit of doubt, they are required
to get a trip survey from a recognized marine surveyor.
HAGAR THE HORRIBLE'S WIFE IS MY ROLE
I just returned from my boat in Baja once again. Boy, I wish
I was retired and could stay down there all the time.
You may remember that the Grand Poobah awarded me a Viking helmet
at the end of the 2004 Baja Ha-Ha for being "the toughest
woman skipper." I never whined, did I? I accepted the helmet
with pride, and wondered how you guessed that Hagar The Horrible's
wife has been my role model.
Anyway, I have been scratching my head - which isn't easy to
do with the helmet on - ever since, trying to figure out where
to put this darn thing on our 32-ft boat. In fact, I nearly chucked
it overboard a couple of times, but was stopped each time by
my sailing buddy Anh.
But I finally found the perfect place for it - as you can probably
see from the accompanying photograph. Can you guess why? If not,
here's a clue - if the helmet isn't as effective as I hope it
will be, I may have to move to Mexico permanently and start a
Con Te Partiro, Bristol 32
San Francisco Bay / Baja, Mexico
Jeannette and Anh - We're delighted to hear that you gals
are having such a great time cruising in Mexico. But if you think
birds are a problem, be thankful you don't have transom steps
and that your boat is in Newport Beach. Those sea lions are lovely
to look at . . . from a distance. Up close, they smell as bad
as whale's breath.
HOW CAN I CONTACT HIM?
In December of last year, Dick Boden of Calamity wrote
you a letter about buying a PDQ 32 in Florida and having it shipped
to Mexico. I'd like to do the exact same thing, and would like
to contact Mr. Boden to ask about his experiences with his PDQ
and the shipping process. Could you relay this request to him?
Possible PDG 32 Buyer
Howard - We can't possibly honor all the requests we get to put
people in contact with other people, plus, it's against our policy
to give out such information.
For this reason, we have established a new category in our Classy Classifieds so people can contact
others easily and inexpensively. The category is called "Trying
to Locate." You can post an ad of up to 20 words for just
$10. Keep it short. Just say who you're looking for and how they
can contact you. You can mail it in with a check or money order
or go to our Web site, www.latitude38.com,
and into the Classified section
where you can post it safely with a credit card. Classified deadline
is always the 18th of the month at 5 pm.
INTERNATIONAL CALLS FOR TWO CENTS A
We've been down here cruising in Banderas Bay, and have a money-saving
tip plus a caution.
First, in order to save money on international calls, we've been
using SKYPE - skype.com
- as our method of calling. SKYPE is freeware. If you call from
a computer with SKYPE to a computer with SKYPE, it costs absolutely
nothing. But if you have SKYPE on your computer and the other
computer doesn't, it costs a whopping two cents a minute to anywhere
in the world. Let's see, that's $1.20 an hour - which is what
I call dirt cheap. We've had incredibly good reception - as opposed
to just good to excellent reception - even when the Internet
The only thing you need to buy to get set up is a $25 headset
with a microphone. I suggest getting an even better quality one
for about $10 more, then setting up your audio and speaker correctly
in Windows, and leaving SKYPE as is. Windows defaults should
normally work fine.
Now for the caution. There has been a general recall on all Elliot
liferafts made up until and including September 2004. The pressure
valve may corrode and become faulty, particularly in tropical
climates. We have a six-man Elliot liferaft that we've been told
we'll have to haul off to Mazatlan - or maybe even back to the
States for a recall repair. This seems like a rather expensive
'repair' for the consumer, so we're going to apply a bit more
pressure on the manufacturer to see what comes of it. In any
event, we'd hate to have our $6,000 marvel fail when our lives
depended on it.
Solar Planet, Beneteau 50
Lisa - While there have recently been some relatively economical
ways of phoning home from Mexico, nothing touches the two-cents-a-minute
rate. Imagine, if we get the high speed Internet working out
in anchorages such as Punta Mita and La Cruz, possibly for free,
you could call home from your boat and talk all day long. Then
again, would that really be a good thing?
It's ironic that with the approach of nearly free international
phone calls, other phone service seems to be getting so much
more expensive. For example, rates for calling home from the
ubiquitous pay phones in tourist areas of Mexico are outrageous.
But we're not even sure if those rip-offs top some phone rip-offs
in the States. While at a pay phone at Seattle's Pike's Place
Fish Market last month, we got a quote on a pay phone for a call
to our office in Mill Valley, CA. They told us - and we're not
making this up - $13.90 for the first minute!
THE FISH THAT DIDN'T GET AWAY
I read with interest Rick Strand's fish story - catching a big
dorado in shallow water by herding it ashore - published in the
March issue. It brought back memories of the Sea of Cortez Sailing
Week back in 1986. As Latitude mentioned in their response
to Strand's fish story, the same thing had happened at that Sailing
Week. I know it did, because those involved with herding the
fish were myself and the fine crew of my Vagabond 47 Muddy
Water. The crewmembers included Linda Waterman, who was the
Wet T-shirt Queen of that week, Russ Bruns and Brenda Eiler,
the latter two being winners of the Sand Dragon building contest.
I looked into my old photo album and found the Latitude
article on that Sailing Week, but didn't find any photos of the
fish. But as I remember, it was 18 pounds and very delicious.
One of the other participants in that week claimed that fish
who beach themselves have to be ill - and offered to kindly take
care of it for us. Nice try!
We went on to sail Muddy Water from
Mexico to the Marquesas, Tonga and New Zealand. Naturally, we
have lots of stories to tell - but one of the best is about the
fish that didn't get away.
Malcolm - Things sure have changed over the years, haven't
they? If we remember correctly, nobody had GPS back then. And
as for the politically incorrect behavior at Sea of Cortez Sailing
Week, we're sure that you'll remember that the Wet T-Shirt contest
had about 25 entries - and that didn't even include the 30 or
so men eager to wiggle their butts in the Men's Wet Buns Contest.
NO, WE DON'T
You don't keep logs?! That's not very seamanlike, is it?
And as for 'seat of the pants sailing' with two GPS units and
radar - how is that 'seat of the pants'?
Duncan - When we started sailing up and down the coast in
the '70s, there was no electronic navigation, so keeping a log
made sense. It also made sense in the days of Loran, which wasn't
always so accurate, and SatNav, which had long gaps between positions
and wasn't very reliable. But with multiple GPS units accurately
recording one's track, in normal circumstances we don't see the
need for keeping a log. If you do, could you please explain why?
It's true that we require our crew to keep a log, but that's
primarily to keep them occupied and help them stay awake at night.
Despite having two GPS units and radar, we indeed consider ourselves
to be 'seat of pants' sailors - because the GPS units we use
are so old they have relatively small b&w screens and because
we don't spend all our time diddling with the knobs on the radar.
When we sail our boat, we sail it, rather than monitor a bunch
of controls like a video game. For an American, we think that's
pretty 'seat of the pants'.
THE ABILITY TO SAIL MADE THE MOVE PALATABLE
There's a sailing treasure in Oakland, as the city runs a sailing
program on Lake Merritt. You can rent a Capri that accommodates
six people for just $12/hour. What's more, a nice young man will
rig it for you, patiently help everyone aboard, and cast you
off. Because it's a keel boat, it would be virtually impossible
to flip. A canoe paddle is provided for pushing off if you run
The afternoon wind on Lake Merritt is reliable, and it shifts
enough to keep things interesting. The views of the city from
the lake are terrific, and it's fun to sail near the shore and
interact with the joggers. You're also certain to see plenty
of ducks, cormorants and Canadian geese, as well as many other
more exotic species.
While the lake is great for young sailors, it's terrific for
older sailors, too, because there are numerous retirement homes
around the lake. In fact, based on my father's experience, I
can recommend Piedmont Gardens and Lakeside Park, which specializes
in Alzheimer's care.
For many years Joe Marshall, my Dad, loved sailing and racing
his Ariel on San Francisco Bay. When the time approached to move
from his home into a retirement home, he was full of dread, as
almost everyone in that position is. Realizing that he could
still sail on Lake Merritt made the move much more palatable.
I NEED PRE- AND POST-BITE RELIEF
We've just flown home after a year of cruising from San Francisco
to Cartagena, Colombia. We will return to our boat, which is
now at Panamarina in Panama, to continue the adventure. However,
much of paradise was lost on me, as bites from no-see-ums and
mosquitoes kept me itchy day and night. When I return, I would
like to have a less itchy experience. Perhaps some readers who
are savvy in repelling the beasts, as well as itch relief, could
share their wisdom. The best itch relief I have found is ammonia
followed by Ben Gay. Until I find a solution, you can call me
sleepless in San Blas.
Felicia 777, Esprit 37
Carol - No matter if you mean sleepless in San Blas, Mexico,
which is the mosquito capital of the universe, or sleepless in
the San Blas Islands of Panama, where we've never had a problem,
we recommend the old standby of Avon's Skin So Soft or products
with DEET (30 to 100%). But we've never really had a problem
ourselves, so perhaps other readers have better suggestions.
EACH ROUTE HAS PROS AND CONS
We appreciate your critical comments on our Exploring the
Pacific Coast guidebook. Please let us explain.
You are correct about our having poor scales on our 'decorative'
chapter maps. As a user of mercator projection maps and charts
for over 50 years, I always measure distance with dividers, using
the latitude tick marks, and the latitude tick marks on our chapter
maps appear to be fine. But using a single distance scale for
such maps doesn't work well on this projection. So in the new
edition - to be released next fall - we will correct what was
apparently sloppiness and use of an improper scale bar on page
The Proven Cruising Routes© are uniquely selected GPS waypoints
that Réanne and I choose as meeting our safe navigation
criteria. These routes, composed of our GPS waypoints, are based
upon our own actual experience in sailing from 60ºN to 56°S.
(See Cape Horn: One Man's Dream, One Woman's Nightmare
ISBN 0-938665-83-9 for an example of our 160,000-miles of cruising
If you had read the page following the Bluewater Route, you would
have found details on two other very popular routes, closer inshore,
that we also recommend. One is the Express Route, preferred by
many delivery skippers, which has the advantage of avoiding thousands
of crab pots (the crabpot-free tow zones). The other, which Réanne
and I prefer, is the Inshore Route that allows our slow Baidarka
to play the backeddies, to 'keep one foot on the beach' all
the way north or south, and to be anchored by afternoon every
day. Each of these three routes has advantages and disadvantages,
which we discuss throughout the book.
Let me assure you that the Bluewater Route remains a favorite
of short-handed sailors and singlehanders who prefer to run 24
hours per day. And it is certainly the preferred route running
downwind, either north or southbound, when time and simplicity
are important. The Bluewater Route is more forgiving for inexperienced
watch-standers or single-handers, and/or on boats that are not
Réanne and I would like to hear from Latitude 38
readers about any other discrepancies so we can correct them,
as well as any kudos, of course. Bon voyage.
FineEdge Productions LLC
Don - We're sorry, but we think it would be irresponsible
of us not to call you on the purported popularity of the so-called
Bluewater Route. You say it's a favorite of shorthanded and singlehanded
sailors who prefer to run 24 hours a day. If that's true, name
five. Frankly, we don't think you can, because it would often
be a stupid route.
Here's one reason. As we write this response on May 16 at 10
p.m., it's blowing a nasty 20 to 29 knots with 10 to 15 foot
seas outside the Channel Islands on the so-called Bluewater Route,
while it's blowing a pleasant 7 to 11 knots with 3- to 5-foot
swells inside the Channel Islands on what we'd call the Common
Sense Route. And as you surely must know, there will often be
a similar disparity in weather conditions for the next six months.
So when you claim the Bluewater Route is faster, more simple,
and easier for inexperienced watchstanders, you're dead wrong
on every count. In fact, it would normally be harder, slower,
and more dangerous than the Common Sense Route.
Indeed, the whole 'Proven Cruising Route' business seems like
a gimmick to sell books to sailors who don't really know what
they are doing - and a potentially dangerous gimmick at that.
For, given all your sailing experience, surely you know that,
given any particularly strong weather conditions, some sailing
angles are much better than others. If it's blowing 25 knots
with 15-ft seas from aft, it would certainly be safer to sail
on a broad reach rather than DDW because there would be less
chance of an uncontrolled gybe that would knock your block off
or cause severe damage to the rig. And the broad reach would
be faster. But there are plenty times when your 'proven' route
would dictate that a boat sail on just such an unsafe and slow
Further, a sailor would have to have an I.Q. lower than the water
temperature off Point Conception to be unable to create his/her
own route between San Diego and San Francisco. And naturally
such a route would continually be subject to change due to changes
in the weather. You say there are three routes up or down the
coast. We say there are a million of them, and if you have any
brains, you pick the best one based on the weather conditions,
not a bunch of waypoints published in a book.
And what's this major emphasis about crab pots? They may be a
considerable problem off the coast of Oregon and Washington,
but Profligate goes up and down the California coast like
a yo-yo every year, and crab pots have never been a problem.
On the last trip, only two were spotted in 400 miles along the
Common Sense Route.
We think there's a lot of helpful information in your cruising
guide, but unless you ditch that Proven Cruising Route nonsense
in the next edition, we'd be hard-pressed to recommend it.
I FELT THEY WERE A POOR VALUE
I read with interest the 'Lectronic
piece about Exploring the Pacific Coast, San Diego to Seattle,
by Don Douglass and Reanne Hemingway-Douglass. After reading
their book, Cape Horn, One Man's Dream, One Woman's Nightmare,
I was surprised to find cruising guides written by them. In the
book she whined and bitched so much about sailing that I didn't
think she'd ever step foot on a boat again.
They've also written a guide to our area, meaning the British
Columbian coast, but it costs $60. I checked their guides out
while I was in the store, but feel they are a poor value. I'd
be interested to know what other people think.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Chuck - We've seen worse cruising guides than Exploring
the North Coast of British Columbia, and as it's nearly 600
pages, they certainly put in some effort. However, they've got
some very stiff competition, for Waggoner's Cruising Guide
covers the entire Northwest from Puget Sound to Prince Rupert,
has lots of color photos instead of just black & white, and
has helpful ads from local businesses in each area. The deciding
point might be that it sells for one-third the price. But everyone
should decide for themselves.
But thanks for writing, as it gives us a chance to run a photo
we took of the Vancouver waterfront a couple of weeks ago. What
a lovely city. We were impressed with how clean it was and how
nice the people were compared to San Francisco.
AN INTERPRETIVE ACTIVITY . . . WITH
It is with some interest that I have read the recent spate of
letters regarding the docking and mooring policies at Angel Island.
Although the level of enforcement present in Ayala Cove may strike
some as excessive, most of your readers are probably not aware
that Angel Island is subject to intermittent raids by a most
virulent band of pirates. And I do mean the cutlass and cannon
To clarify, the California Department of Parks and Recreation
operates Angel Island State Park, including the Ayala Cove docks
and mooring field. Your humble correspondent, however, has the
honor to belong to the Angel Island Association, a nonprofit
organization that assists the park by raising funds and performing
interpretive activities that provide the visitor with a better
understanding of the island's natural and cultural history. Some
of us who volunteer with the Angel Island Association are also
boaters and avid readers of Latitude.
Among the many ongoing events performed by the AIA are weekend
cannon-firing demonstrations that are held at the former military
post of Camp Reynolds on the west side of the island. We also
turn out our cannon from time to time in order to repel the assaults
of the pirate vessel Royaliste. For those of you fortunate
enough not to have encountered this fearsome craft, the Royaliste
is a 65-ft gaff-rigged square-topsail ketch which is armed to
the teeth and crewed by the blood-thirstiest gang of buccaneers
it has ever been my displeasure to encounter. On numerous occasions
the dread Royaliste has exchanged volleys of artillery
and small-arms fire with our heroic garrison on Angel Island.
Obviously, such a spectacle is not something one sees every day,
and the Angel Island Association would like to invite your readers
to view our next engagement, which shall be held on the weekend
of June 11 & 12. This event will be a full-fledged mock Civil
War battle with infantry reinforcements, exploding pyrotechnics,
and activities for children. Details about this and all our other
events may be found on the Angel Island Association's Web site
After one has witnessed just how much havoc and mayhem the brigands
aboard the Royaliste can cause, it becomes clear why security
has been stepped up on the island!
Angel Island Cannoneer & Crew
Shadowside, Allied Mistress MKIII
A FULLY-OPERATIONAL SEAGOING MEMORIAL
On the off chance that you might sometimes feature a stink-pot
- in this case a very big one - I'd like to tell you about the
Lane Victory, a World War II cargo ship that is based
out of San Pedro. She's owned by an all-volunteer group of mostly
seniors, who restored her and continue to maintain and operate
World War II ended 60 years ago, which is when Lane Victory
was built. She was one of more than 530 Victory cargo ships built
late in the war to replace the hundreds of merchant marine ships
that had been lost to enemy attacks. These ships were designed
to become the backbone of the postwar American merchant marine
fleet. Lane Victory hauled munitions in the South Pacific
at the close of World War II. During the Korean War, she ferried
troops and evacuated 7,000 civilians as the Communists advanced
on Inchon. She was called for duty a third time in Vietnam, and
then was laid up in 1969.
The Lane, deeded to the United States merchant marine
veterans of World War II in 1989 by then President Reagan, was
towed to San Pedro Harbor where restoration began. An all-volunteer
group of dedicated seniors, made up of former merchant marine,
naval armed guard, and others restored the ship. She is a designated
Today the Lane is a fully operational seagoing memorial
to all civilian merchant marine and naval armed guard lost at
sea in time of war. The ship is supported by six summer day-cruises
off Catalina Island each year. The day-cruises begin early, with
a continental breakfast and departure at 9 a.m. as we head down
the main channel at San Pedro and out to sea. The ship's crew
and interested passengers can watch the U.S. Navy Sea Cadet Honor
Guard participate in a memorial service to remember a merchant
marine ship and crew lost at sea in World War II. During the
passage to Catalina, everyone is invited to take a tour of the
engine room, visit the wheelhouse, and 'man the big guns'. There
are two great museums to enjoy. The main museum is dedicated
to nautical memorabilia of the merchant marine, with many large
models of the merchant ships of that period. The centerpiece
of the second museum is the triple-expansion engine from the
movie Sand Pebbles. Guests get to watch it in operation.
The Lane Victory has been featured in many movies and
on television, including Titanic, The Thin Red Line, Outbreak,
Jag and X-Files, to name but a few.
A great catered buffet lunch is served set against the magnificent
backdrop of Catalina Island. Plenty of seating and shaded areas
are available, and live music of the World War II era is played
throughout the day.
Turning away from the island, the ship is 'attacked' - weather
permitting - by 'enemy' aircraft. During this time a general
alarm is sounded and the naval armed guard man their guns. When
enemy planes are spotted by a sharp-eyed passenger, their response
to the attack begins. Despite the response of the big guns, the
situation is perilous - until American planes come to the rescue
by attacking the enemy planes. When the aerial attack is over,
the planes form up and fly the length of the ship. At this point
everyone should have their cameras ready.
Finally, as we approach the harbor, Stearman aircraft make several
fly-bys, and as we return to the dock the passengers enjoy a
fireboat water display courtesy of the Los Angeles fireboat.
Anyone interested in joining one of these trips should visit
or call (310) 519-9545.
Jan Michaelis, Volunteer
SS Lane Victory
Jan - While sailing from Two Harbors to Newport Beach one sunny
Sunday last summer, we happened to cross paths with the Lane
Victory as she began to head home from Catalina. A few minutes
later the aerial attack began. It was a terrific show. We wish
we had known about these trips a couple of years ago before our
father passed away. A World War II Navy vet from the Pacific,
he would have loved it.
SCANDINAVIA IS NOT APPROVED IN THE U.S.
While shopping around for insurance quotes, we were offered coverage
at what seemed to be a very good price by a California broker
representing Scandinavia Insurance. It sounded a little too good
to be true, so we got a second opinion from another agent. This
is what he wrote us:
"I am familiar with Scandinavia Insurance, which is a relatively
new 'insurance company' based in Russia. I'm not sure why they
adopted the 'Scandinavian' guise, but perhaps it's because the
insurance business in Russia is largely unregulated. Scandinavia
is not rated by any of the major financial rating organizations
- A.M. Best, Standard & Poors, Moody, Fitch, and so forth
- nor, as far as I can determine, have they got any reinsurance
support. They certainly don't in the London and other major European
markets. They may well have the financial strength to pay some
claims, and indeed have the goodwill to do so, but as far as
I am aware, none of their 'assets' are held in G7 countries,
so effectively they are 'judgement proof'. This means that the
people they insure will have to rely on Scandinavia's desire
to pay claims as opposed to normal legal obligations to do so.
"For our part, we would not place business with them, as
we will only work with well-known, well-rated, well-established
insurers with the highest reputation. Unlike the people we represent,
Scandinavia is not approved anywhere in the United States, the
United Kingdom, or the European Community.
"It is the Insured's decision if he/she wants to take a
risk on security to make a small savings in premiums, but we
would always recommend that they only place their business with
rated insurers. I hope this advice proves helpful."
Just Another Cruiser Trying To Be Helpful
Readers - Every time we talk to people who have had to file
a claim with an insurance company, they all seem to have the
same regret - they wish they had read the policy more carefully
before they bought the coverage. We don't know if it would be
wise or unwise to be covered by Scandinavia, but we do know that
everybody should read any policy carefully so they understand
exactly what it is they are buying and who they are buying it
from. 'Let the buyer beware' is true of insurance more than most
things because the amounts can be so high.
Having said that, sometimes insurance really does work like it's
supposed to. A couple of months ago, we were rear-ended on the
405 in Los Angeles while driving one of Mr. Hertz's cars. The
impact sent us slamming into the car in front of us. All three
cars suffered about $2,500 in damages. We all had insurance like
we were supposed to, and traded our information. About a month
later, a representative from the company insuring the guy who
started the collision called to report all three cars had been
taken care of, and he wanted to make sure we hadn't suffered
any lasting injury. All we were suffering from was shock that
the system had worked like it was supposed to.
AN IMMUTABLE AND UNCHANGING LAW OF THE
When it comes to whether crew are responsible for costly mistakes
on boats, I believe there is a well-established protocol - at
least in the case of winch handles dropped overboard. In such
cases, the crewmember has a responsibility to replace the winch
handle with one of equal or better quality at the earliest opportunity,
then present it to the owner as soon as possible. I believe it's
the 3,646,125th Law of the Sea, which all good sailors accept
as immutable and unchanging. However, I could not find it in
a search through Google.
In the case of other mishaps, no matter if of greater or lesser
magnitude, I agree with Latitude that the owner is responsible.
Flat Out, Ericson 39
Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Rob - Your letter just made us realize that we're sexist.
If somebody dropped a winch handle off our boat, we wouldn't
expect them to replace it. However, if a male crewmember dropped
one over and replaced it, we'd say, "Thanks, that's cool."
But if a woman replaced it - as Suzie Barnes once did - we'd
be so embarrassed. Disgusting, isn't it? We're going to sign
up for some insensitivity training.
DAYS OF REASONABLE CANAL TRANSITS ARE
We just completed our southbound transit of the Panama Canal
aboard our Hallberg-Rassy 46 Indeed, and found the Canal's
new way of handling sailboats to be quite different from what
it used to be and what the cruising guides say. Not only was
it different, it was much more expensive.
We used ship's agent Tina McBride to do our paperwork, and we
think she did a great job. However, the new fees really jack
the cost up. The 'new thing' is that sailboat transits now start
around 5 or 6 p.m., and even sometimes later at night. Your mandatory
Advisor then takes you as far as Gatun Lake, where you moor to
a big mooring buoy for the night, and he goes home. Actually,
just three sailboats go through on a normal day, and they are
all rafted to the same buoy.
The next morning you get a new Advisor to complete the transit.
So far, this is all fine if you just had to pay the normal $600
transit fee and the $850 'buffer', which is to be deposited if
you don't cause any delays or damages.
What's not fine is the new charges that we were hit with:
Delay fee for taking two days to do the transit - $440
Mooring fee for rusty buoy at Gatun Lake - $100
Launch fees for Advisors - $320.
So the reported $600 transit fee suddenly adds up to a whole
lot more, particularly when you add in the $500 for the ship's
agent, and the various other charges such as the cruising permit,
visas, and such.
Then there is the wait for a transit slot, which this season
was anywhere from 10 to 19 days, with 15 days being the average.
Of course, you don't have to wait for 15 days in lovely Colon,
for you can request that your transit be supervised by a Pilot
rather than a mere Advisor. If you do this, you can pick almost
any day to transit, and you might be able to complete the transit
in one day rather than two. The only hitch is that there is a
$2,250 fee for taking a Pilot rather than an Advisor.
Clearly the days of transiting the Canal for $500 are gone for
Although we're from San Diego, our boat has never been there.
We took delivery of her at the Hallberg-Rassy yard in Sweden,
then sailed her across the Atlantic in the 2003 ARC, then around
the Caribbean, up to Bermuda, and as far north as Newport, Rhode
Island. Then we headed down to New York City, Annapolis, Hampton,
Virginia, did the Caribbean 1500 to the British Virgins, then
sailed to Panama. We are now in the Galapagos and will be headed
to the Marquesas in a few days.
Indeed, Hallberg-Rassy 46
Giorgio - We don't doubt that you were smacked with those
charges, but based on what other people are reporting, they haven't
experienced any increase in Canal fees.
WE DON'T THINK THERE'S BEEN A PRICE
Like Latitude, I read Indeed's report on increases
in Panama Canal fees with surprise. We transited in early March,
and the fees were still the $600. And someone I know went through
just three weeks ago and didn't pay any more than we did.
As for it taking 15 days to get a transit date, that's the time
the Canal Authority often quotes. However, most cruisers who
hang around get bumped up to an earlier slot. For example, the
boat we went through on only had to wait about a week.
As you can guess, this means we didn't take our own boat through
the Canal. We've left her down in the tropics, but will be going
to British Columbia this summer anyway. In fact, we're joining
a 38-ft monohull in Sitka on July 4th to slowly sail south to
Oregon. We're looking forward to it!
Woods Designs Sailing Catamarans
Plymouth, United Kingdom
Jetti Matzke, Oakland
THE TOTAL COST OF OUR TRANSIT WAS $800
I just read the item in 'Lectronic
about Indeed having to pay much more money for their Canal
transit. That doesn't jibe with the experience we had transiting
with our 42-ft cat Hapai or Cheyanne, the boat
I linehandled for. Yes, we did start at 4 p.m., and yes, we had
to spend the night on a mooring on Gatun Lake. But we were not
charged an overnight fee because the scheduling had been done
by the Canal Authority. Nor were we charged for the mooring or
a pilot pickup fee, and for the same reason. By the way, we thought
it was a plus to spend the night on the lake. The lake was calm,
it got us out of Colon, and it was fun to hear the howler monkeys
and parrots in the morning.
We had to wait 14 days for our transit. Cheyanne - a Wylie
34 from Sausalito - had to wait 11 days.
When it comes to getting the paperwork done, we would highly
recommend Rudy, a fast-moving taxi-driver. He got us through
the procedures for $50, got us our tire fenders at $3 each, and
the four lines at $15 per line.
So the total cost of our transit was $800. Jim on Cheyanne
managed to get his tires for free, so his cost was a bit lower.
When you think of the Canal, you think of the locks, of course.
But for me, the highlight was the pristine beauty of Gatun Lake.
I enjoyed both of the transits we did, and both went smoothly.
A Panama Canal transit is nothing to be feared.
Hapai, Venezia 42 cat
WHY NOT A SUBMERSIBLE BARGE IN THE CANAL?
I just read Girogio Cagliero's report in 'Lectronic about
the astronomical fees for transiting the Panama Canal aboard
Indeed. With costs so high, I wonder if anyone has considered
setting up a floating drydock that could be towed through the
Canal by tug. What I'm envisioning is a submersible barge where
you simply power in, divers install jackstands, and the barge
is then floated. Boats could actually be rafted up for a while
with the barge submerged until enough boats are present to make
the transit worthwhile. This shouldn't take too terribly long
- almost certainly less time than the 10-19 days mentioned in
that letter to 'Lectronic.
Island Planet Sails
Dave - We've long said that the Panama Canal is too major
an asset to be used to get boats under 50 feet from one side
of the Canal to the other. It's like using a missile to do a
job that requires nothing more than a BB gun.
But we think the same would be true of your plan to use a submersible
barge to transport boats from the Pacific to the Caribbean and
vice versa. Such barges are very expensive and the labor would
also be very high.
The thing to realize is that all but a mile or two of a Canal
transit consists of motoring across a lake that's 84 feet above
sea level. So the real problem is just getting the boats around
the locks and up or down 84 feet. This could be best accomplished
using a hydraulic trailer - such as is used to truck boats from
San Carlos, Mexico, to Tucson, and at many boatyards. Such trailers
are much less expensive than a barge, and using them would require
only a couple of workers.
It never made a lot of sense to use the Canal for small boat
transits. But with the development of hydraulic trailers to lift
out and transport boats, and with the growing congestion and
lack of advisors in the Canal, it's a no-brainer. Such an operation
could be up and running in a couple of months.
By the way, you can see from the previous letters than the astronomical
fees charged to Indeed were apparently an oddity.
HE GAVE ME A REPLACEMENT FREE OF CHARGE
I want people to know how thankful I am for Don Melcher of HF
Radio on Board in Alameda. We've had nothing but trouble with
our ICOM 502 VHF. The command mike in the cockpit hasn't worked
from day one. We had it fixed - I won't go into how unhappy I
was with ICOM, which initially refused to honor the warranty
- before leaving on last year's Ha-Ha. But it broke again in
Mexico. Not confident about getting it fixed, I figured I'd have
to buy another radio in Mexico - not the best place to buy marine
Then I unexpectedly had to return to San Francisco for two days,
but couldn't bring the radio with me. Don didn't care. He offered
to replace the radio free of charge. He said he'd deal with ICOM
directly, and I didn't even have to give him the bad radio until
I returned in a couple of months. Needless to say, this was beyond
the call of duty, but it made me a very, very happy customer.
By the way, the material Don puts together for SSB purchasers
is wonderful. It's so good, that by using it I was able to help
people get their radios and email up and running!
OZ, Talisman 37
Port Townsend, WA
I HAD TO EXPLAIN TO U.S. CUSTOMS WHAT
The life of foreign boats in the United States is not easy. We
had our Talofa in San Francisco Bay from '78 to '89 when
we lived in Oakland. Since my wife and I are foreign nationals
(and permanent residents), we could not document the boat, so
she was registered in the state of California. However, according
to U.S. Customs regulations, the nationality of a boat is not
determined by its flag, but by the nationality of its owners.
Therefore our boat - although flying the U.S. flag - was considered
a foreign boat. This meant that we had to clear in at San Francisco
when we arrived.
Clearing in meant not only a trip to the Customs office, but
it also meant that the Customs office took away our boat's documents
- meaning our California registration - with the understanding
that the documents would be released upon departure! The regulations
specified that the boat can move freely within the area of the
specific Customs office. This means that we could have sailed
to Half Moon Bay or Monterey without any problems, but if we
sailed down the coast we had to clear out of San Francisco, clear
in to Santa Barbara, clear out of Santa Barbara, and so on for
Los Angeles and San Diego.
It's true - as someone suggested - that sometimes the Customs
officers themselves were unaware of the legal requirements. As
a matter of fact, I always had a copy of the law with me when
I cleared in so that I could explain to the customs officer what
they were supposed to do.
When we arrived in Hawaii on our return from the South Pacific,
we cleared in at Hilo, and then we cleared out and back in at
Oahu. However, we were going to leave from Kauai for the States,
and Kauai was part of the Oahu Customs Office. So we sailed to
Kauai, and then we had to have our boat documents mailed from
the Oahu Customs Office to a Kauai office so we could get them
before our departure!
U.S. citizens should not be too fast to criticize other countries
about boat clearing regulations.
Cesare - Before we stop criticizing the old policy in Mexico,
please tell us, did the U.S. folks charge you as much as $110
every time you checked in and out of a port? Did you also have
to go to a bank before and after visiting the port captain? As
with just about everything, we don't think the U.S. is perfect
- but it's still better than most countries.
HE SAILED A CORONADO 25 TO THE NORTHWEST
A recent letter inquired about information for cruising north
from San Francisco. I recommend Cruising The Northwest Coast,
From the Golden Gate to Port Angeles by George Benson. This
recently published 144-page book is an aid to near-shore cruising
along the Northwest coast, and is available for $20 from George Benson, 16700 Highway
96, Klamath River, CA 96050.
George is a good writer and an excellent sailor. After looking
for a larger boat to replace his Coronado 25 Teal, he
finally just decided to add two feet to his current boat - and
did a beautiful job. Teal is the boat that he sailed north
to Puget Sound, and his email accounts of that voyage convinced
me to order his book - even though I have no intention of sailing
that far north.
Columbine (a mountain flower, not a tragedy)
Chuck - We call such boat-stretching 'Pyzeling' - after Mike
Pyzel, who stretched the Cal 28 he sailed from Santa Barbara
to the Santa Cruz Islands several hundred times to a 30-footer.
We'd never do anything like that, but admire folks who can. We'll
have to give that guide a look.
BARBED WIRE SHOULD DO THE TRICK
A diver in Monterey - who also has problems with sea lions climbing
on boats - told me once he laid barbed wire on the decks of an
old tug. The sea lions couldn't quite get comfortable, so they'd
move on to smoother pastures. Carpet tack strips might also work.
Brad - We'll keep those tips in mind for when we return to
Newport later in the summer.
A LINE PARTING WAS THE BEGINNING OF
I was aboard Altura when the 83-ft Windward ended
up on the beach at Yelapa, Mexico, those many years ago. We had
three anchors - Windward's, Sea Drift's and also one that
Eight Bells had lost - to work with for that final attempt
to pull her off. The heaviest line, which was like 1.5 inches
in diameter, led through the anchor hawse on the bow back to
the mainsheet winch, which was a Herreschoff the size of a samovar,
in the cockpit. I was to do the grinding. The other two lines
came through bow chocks to two of the four foredeck winches.
Each of these lines went from winch to winch to a tailer, so
there were six guys on the foredeck. In addition, there were
four of us in the cockpit, and six to eight Mexicans with buckets
down below ready to bail.
We worked Windward off the beach and into the surf until
she was standing up and bouncing on her keel with the rise and
fall of each wave. Then one of the smaller lines parted. That
was the beginning of the end, as two of the other lines quickly
parted, too. Windward slewed around, and the 10-ft seas
put her right back on the beach. At that point the garboard was
so open that it would have been impossible to get her to a boatyard
even if we could get her off again. In retrospect, the lines
parted for the same reason that the anchor chains did.
By the way, I'm delighted and surprised to hear Bob Dickson is
alive and kicking.
WE'VE REPEATED THE CEREMONY FOR 15 YEARS
I enjoyed April's Ten Tips For
New Boat Owners. It's been a long time since we christened
April Dancer for the first time, but reading your Tip
#1 about using champagne prompted me to offer an alternative
When Tessa and I took delivery of our Fairweather Mariner 39
April Dancer, we were concerned, not only about broken
glass, but about the BCDC bitching about fish, SUI. So instead
of breaking the bottle on the bow, we stood on the foredeck,
popped the cork of a bottle of bubbly plonk, and sprinkled a
few drops on the deck. Then we drank a toast to all three of
us and, slightly inebriated, took the bottle and glasses below
for a giggly cuddle. In fact, because we needed regular practice
to hone our skills, we have continued the tradition every time
we're on board together. After 15 years, we're definitely getting
better at it.
Incidentally, unless the product actually comes from France,
it's not good to refer to bubbly-plonk as champagne. Otherwise
the French get their knickers in a twist, and a twist-knickered
Frenchman is not a pretty sight.
Lyn - We know the distinction between champagne and sparkling
white wine, but as long as it does its job - give pleasure -
we don't think Pierre should be so uptight about it. In fact,
his time would be better spent trying to figure out how France's
socialistic tendencies can possibly survive the onslaught of
the Chinese and Indians in the new global economy.
A PUBLISHING FANTASY
After all the stuff about Alcatraz being a floating island, you
run a letter in the May issue about
a tunnel to Angel Island - give us a break! Maybe you should
do some minor checking before publishing fantasies such as that.
John - It was reader E.J. Koford, not
us, who reported on the tunnel from Tiburon to Angel Island.
We don't know anything about it - other than the proposal to
double the toll so they can bore another hole.