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My wife and I are looking forward to starting our cruising life in the next couple of years, but have a question. If everyone sells their home to buy a boat and to fund their cruising kitty, we wonder where they live and what they do for money when they finish cruising? Do they continue to live on their boat, sell the boat and live in an apartment, move into an RV, or what? We're concerned about our retirement after cruising. We're worried that if we sell our house, there's no way we'd be able to purchase a home in the Bay Area again. We don't want to end up in a crappy apartment on social security. We're interested in what your readers have to say.

Northern California

Anonymous - Good question. It will be interesting to see what kind of responses we get. In the interim, we'll offer our two cents worth. The closer you get to retirement, the less sense it makes to have all your financial eggs in one basket, so you may want to think twice about selling your home and pouring all your equity into a cruising boat and cruising kitty.

Consider another option. If you've owned your home for some time, we presume that you've built up a formidable amount of equity. Rather than selling your house, we suggest that you consider tapping into that tax-free equity to buy a nice - but perhaps not the ultimate - cruising boat, and then rent your house out. The idea is for the rental income from your house to cover any remaining house payments and fund your normal cruising expenses.

This might be more feasible than it seems, because the cost of cruising is normally much less than the cost of living in the Bay Area, and the cost of a decent cruising boat can be surprisingly low. For example, In the last two months, two members of the Latitude editorial staff bought very cruisable boats. One is 36 feet, the other is 40 feet. Neither one of them cost more than $25,000. Sure, it would be nicer to have a $250,000 cruising boat with all kinds of gear and everything nice and shiny, but unless you've done some cruising and are absolutely sure you're going to be passionate about it over the long term, you might be a little more conservative. The one thing you've got in your favor is that you're going to work for a couple more years, and thus have the opportunity to sock away a bunch more money to spend on a boat.

Once you're out cruising, you'll discover there are scores of cruisers who are funding their sailing adventures through real estate rentals, often just their own home. A lot of cruisers rent their homes out for six months at a time, which allows them to enjoy six months cruising in the tropics during the winter, then come back and live in their own home for six months during the summer. Others rent their homes year-round, cruising in the tropics six months a year, then travelling around the United States in an RV - or doing other travelling - for the summer. Six months of cruising alternated with six months of doing something else is extremely popular with cruisers.

Once people of around retirement age go cruising and see other great places in the world, a lot of them begin to lose interest in returning to the Bay Area. Part of their reasoning is that the cost of living in the Bay Area is horrendously expensive, the traffic is horrible, the pace of life is hectic, and the winter weather isn't very nice. The other part is that there are a lot of other great places in the world. As such, many of these folks like to spend their post-cruising years aboard their boats in marinas in Mexico or elsewhere in the tropics. And why not? They are among many friends, the cost of living is low, the pace of life is slower, the health care is more personal and less expensive, and the weather is better. Indeed, once folks who retired from cruising get too old to even live on their boats, many simply buy or rent a place nearby. It's all about quality of life. In places like P.V. and La Paz, for example, it's easy to find a full-time housekeeper/cook/aid for just $300 a month. Flush with social security payments, rental income from your house, and the growing equity in your house, you'd be able to live like a king.


The last time I wrote was in August, when my girlfriend and I were looking for our first boat. We had a lot of questions that you were nice enough to answer. We bought an Ericson 27 named Velella, and sailed every single weekend until the winds died down in November. We took family and friends out, we anchored off Alcatraz during Fleet Week, we took overnight trips, I did some singlehanding - it's been a blast.

Then in early January, we went to San Carlos, Mexico, where we spent a week sailing with David at the San Carlos Sailing School. While there, we completed the ASA Bareboat Chartering course in the challenging winter conditions. Having learned to sail on San Francisco Bay, the high winds were no problem.

Now we're engaged to be married, and are also looking for a bigger boat to sail down to Mexico. We've decided that we'd like to get married on a beach down in Mexico, probably near Puerto Vallarta. We're trying to figure out how we can sail down to the wedding and then keep cruising for a while afterwards. Doesn't that sound fantastic?

We're planning/dreaming about making the trip on a catamaran because of all the interior space - I'm 6'2" - and because they sail flat - Sara got a bit seasick during our Sea of Cortez experience. A cat would also be good because we have lots of friends who wish to visit us during our trip.

The problem is that cats are scarce and expensive on the Pacific Coast of the United States. We're wondering how to compromise, and what you might recommend. Money is an obstacle, as our cruising dreams are bigger than our budget. So here are our specific questions:

1) How do you recommend we do this? We can borrow money, but we don't own a house, and paying down a 30-year boat loan is a scary proposition. Would it be possible to stretch our money with a long-term rental? Have you heard of anyone 'leasing' a cruising boat? Do you know of anybody with a cat who wants to keep it, but won't be using it for a year? We'd sure love to talk to them.

2) If we sail south with the Ha-Ha in late October, and are married mid-January near Puerto Vallarta, what type of six-month honeymoon cruising do you recommend? How do the prevailing winds change over the year down there? If we wanted to explore Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, is getting back north easier at one time of the year than the other? What about the heat?

If you or your readers can offer advice, we would love to hear it. We got some great replies last time. We can be reached by email.

Will Sitch & Sara Fuller
Velella, Ericson 27
Santa Rosa

Will and Sara - It's difficult to give intelligent answers to your questions without knowing the basics of your circumstances - age, income, physical condition, cash on hand and so forth. But first, let's clear the air about a couple of things.

One, money is not an obstacle to your cruising dreams. Your current boat may not be what you'd like to cruise Mexico in, but if money is an issue, she's all you really need. Think she's too small? Then check out this month's Cruise Notes item on Ardell Lien of San Diego. Three years ago the 70-year-old was too weak to climb a flight of stairs or lift a bag of groceries, but in the past 12 months he's singlehanded three-quarters of the way around the world - aboard his 27-ft Catalyst.

Two, cruising cats are expensive everywhere in the world, not just on the Pacific Coast. The bad news is that even the used ones seem to be creeping up in price. We're big fans of cats, but you certainly don't need a cat to enjoy a cruise in Mexico or the South Pacific, where the overwhelming majority of boats are monohulls.

Three, we're not aware of any outfits that offer 30-year loans on boats. Based on the fact that you're even curious about such a thing, we wonder if you're not thinking you need more boat than you can comfortably afford.

Four, it's extremely unlikely that anyone would lease you their cruising cat. The main reason is that it would be too easy for you to do far more damage to the boat than the owner would be getting in lease payments. And what's to guarantee the owner that you wouldn't just walk away from his/her boat in Mexico at the conclusion of your fun?

Knowing almost nothing about you, here are our recommendations: Sell all your crap and temporarily move aboard your Ericson 27 to save money. Based on the assumption that you're both working now, both of you should then get second jobs. And no whining, because all kinds of people - from day laborers to small business owners - regularly work 60 to 70-hour weeks. Then live cheap. Don't eat out. Cancel your cable service because you'll be too busy working to watch the tube. If you've got two cars, sell one. By ultra-maximizing your income and ultra-minimizing your expenses for just six months, and by selling your Ericson 27, you should be in a financial position to own a perfectly fine cruising monohull free and clear. Plus, you should still have enough money to cruise for six months. If you look at it the right way, the whole thing - starting with your first hours at your second jobs - will be part of a single grand adventure.

If you do the Ha-Ha, you'll arrive in Cabo the second week in November. If you only have six months, we suggest that you immediately head up to the Sea of Cortez for a month, because the water will still be warm. Once winter sets in, it won't be warm enough in the Sea for comfortable swimming until the beginning of May. Come December, even the air temperature is probably going to be cool 50% of the time in the Sea, which means it will be time to head over to wonderfully warm mainland Mexico. There's so much to do and see in Mexico that it wouldn't make much sense to sail all the way down to Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua for what would have to be a relatively short period of time. Still want to investigate these other cultures? When you get down to Zihua, take a vacation from cruising by hopping on buses to visit those Central American countries.

Does this sound fantastic or what? It should. We hope to see you at the start of the Ha-Ha!


On April 20, we were doing the California Bash up from San Diego, monitoring channel 16. When about 10 miles off of Carmel, I heard a vessel doing long counts up to 10 for a Coast Guard helicopter. The skipper was saying, "One . . . two . . . three," and so forth. This was repeated three times over the course of about 20 minutes. I figured that the helo was trying to home in on their location using an RDF. Since it sounded like some sort of emergency, we stayed tuned in.

After a few more minutes, I discovered that the sailing vessel Celcion - which means 'are we there yet?' in Latin - was lost and that the helo was on its way to lend assistance. Once they found the desperately lost voyager, the helo hovered overhead in order to provide the adventurous captain with his lat/long. The coordinates were repeated several times.

The skipper then asked where he was. The Coasties in the chopper said, "You're six miles from Monterey." The skipper mumbled something about wanting to go to Half Moon Bay, then said, "Could you point me in the right direction?" He added, "I think I have a map of Monterey someplace."

The Coasties were not about to give this guy 'directions', and wisely so. The captain was strongly urged to seek an escort into Monterey for the evening, as it was just two hours from sunset. The skipper accepted, as he was a wee bit humbled at this point.

The pilot contacted Coast Guard Monterey and requested that a rescue boat be dispatched to the scene. Since we were only about eight miles away, we offered our assistance. The helo pilot asked if we could steam towards Celcion's position and act as another asset if needed. We agreed to do what we could and altered course.

About 45 minutes later a Coast Guard rescue boat arrived. We were now three miles from Celcion. Communication between the Coasties and the skipper was a little confused. Several times the Coasties asked if the skipper or his crew had suffered any injuries. The skipper finally understood, and replied, "Only my pride." Eventually the Coasties escorted this rather fortunate skipper and his crew into Monterey for the evening, and we resumed bashing back up the coast.

Unless I'm mistaken, the skipper of the Celcion had left San Francisco Bay on a trip to Half Moon Bay - and wound up totally lost and confused near Monterey. I wonder if this is how Gilligan's Island started?

With apologies to the MasterCard commercial:
· 1.5 Hours of Coast Guard Helicopter flight time = $20,000
· 3 Hours of Coast Guard rescue boat time = $5,000
· Unexpected long weekend in Monterey courtesy of U.S. taxpayers and the Coast Guard = priceless!

Arnstein Mustad


I just can't sit by and let Bill Hinkle get away with his May issue comments about how people shouldn't go cruising when they are young. His contention that it's a "senseless existence" until you reach retirement age got me so riled up that it took me a few days to calm down enough to compose a letter that could be printed.

I wasn't aware that there was some national standard of accomplishments that we must live by. And since when is crossing an ocean not an accomplishment? Am I correct in assuming that personal accomplishments don't account for anything on this national scale?

The generalization that "we" must work and raise families in order to be happy is crap. I'm a 40-year-old female with no desire to have 2.5 kids, a mortgage, a dog, a minivan and a stress level that's through the roof. Life's too short not to live it to the fullest, and to live it in a way that makes us happy. The way you choose to live your life is your prerogative.

I intend to continue cruising, tacking mile after mile onto the 15,000 miles that I've already sailed. My adventures through the South Pacific only whetted my appetite, as I learned there is a whole world out there waiting to be explored. There are remote islands with picturesque anchorages and sandy beaches, new and different cultures, new foods, markets, and many other things that I need to experience. All of one's life should be a beautiful time, not just retirement. So why should I feel obligated to work my butt off hoping to stay healthy enough to maybe enjoy it after paying my debt to society?

I will not apologize for my choice to cruise, and I encourage anyone thinking about going to just go and do it. You only live once, and you should make the best of it. Do what makes you happy, not others. And do it now.

My husband and I are currently back at work - at low-stress, fun jobs - and saving every penny we can so we can get back out there again. We've experienced the cruising lifestyle, and can't get enough of it. But that's what makes us happy.

Caution: The cruising lifestyle isn't for everyone.

Emmy Newbould
Nataraja, Flying Dutchman 37
Zephyr Cove / Richmond

Emmy - Each one of us is created differently, and we're all shaped by the culture and era we grow up in. Hinckle, like a lot of folks who lived through the horrors of the Depression and World War II, seems to have that Old Testament kind of drive, the "be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it" attitude. Alas, it seems that an increasing number of folks in succeeding generations - having seen that mankind has now overfilled the earth, subdued it, and seems hell bent on destroying it - don't share that outlook. They don't see themselves as "worker ants," as does Hinckle, but more as artists, vagagonds and explorers. And they are more interested in new and interesting life experiences than material things, as the latter often prove less satisfying than hoped.

A guy who was a little ahead of his time in acting on this point of view was French painter Paul Gauguin, who rejected his successful life as a banker to become a struggling painter, but who eventually found great success while working and messing around in French Polynesia. Interestingly enough, Gaugain's last work, considered to be his masterpiece, is titled Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? If you're ever in Boston, you should check out the 5-ft by 12-ft canvas, as it's hanging in the Museum of Fine Arts.

Of course, there are other views on the meaning of life. For Monty Python, the answer is that there is no meaning at all. "You're born, you eat, you go to school, you have sex, you have children and you grow old if somebody doesn't kill you first. When you die, you go to Heaven, where every day is like Christmas." For Muslims, the meaning of life is nothing short of total allegiance to God - which, thanks to extreme interpretations, can have some pretty bloody consequences. Mystics don't worry about accomplishing things in life, as they see it as happening or unfolding. Hindus see life as a game in which everyone unwittingly plays, and in which there is no final goal. Then there are the cynics. "We're all just here to fart around," wrote Kurt Vonnegut, "don't let anyone tell you different."


I'm not part of any business and am not trying to sell anyone anything, but what if I told you that you could own a 30-ft sailboat on San Francisco Bay for - after the initial purchase price - as little as $3 per day? I know you can because I've done it for six wonderful years. The secret is partnerships. If you thought owning a sailboat was too expensive, then you should read on. Partnerships are a way to meet great folks and economically sail a boat of your own.

The first step is to find your partners and pool your resources. Your partners could be family members, close friends, co-workers, or folks you meet through the Classy Classifieds. Choosing the right partners is, of course, a critical part of building a successful partnership. You want to make sure that everyone has the resources to afford a boat, has a steady job, and is not likely to be leaving the area soon. Another plus is that all the partners have a sailing background or at least be willing to take some sailing courses. It's good to have similar sailing goals, too, as a partner who wanted to load a boat down with cruising gear wouldn't be very compatible with other partners who wanted to strip the boat for racing. But be forewarned, even if you pick the best possible partners, compromising will still play a big part in the arrangement.

How many partners do you need? You can have as few as two, of course. We started with three, went to four, and now have five. Four works well as every partner can each have one week a month when the boat is 'theirs'. The nice thing about our partnership is that we've found we all get to sail as much or as little as we want. We assign one week to each partner starting on Thursday. This way if someone wants to take the boat for a long weekend, they don't have to worry about trading days with the other partners. If one of the other partners wants to go sailing, they just email the partner whose week it is and work out the details. When it's 'your' week, you can just head out. With a partnership, you also have a built-in crew who often want to go sailing with you. Just let them know and off you go for a daysail or whatever.

Another important aspect is figuring out what kind of boat your partnership wants. Does your group want a daysailer, racer/cruiser, or maybe a coastal cruiser? We wanted a safe daysailer that we could also use for weekend trips on the Bay and week-long trips up to the Delta. As such, we needed a boat that could sleep 5-6, have a galley, and have a private legal head.

Our partners were keen on a used 30-ft boat in the $15,000 range, which meant we'd all have to come up with $5,000 for an initial investment. Based on the April edition of Latitude, at this price we could have had our pick of a Hunter 30, Pearson 31, Catalina 30, or an Islander 30. And with most sellers you can negotiate lower than the asking prices.

We started our boat search looking through the Classy Classifieds, and found several we wanted to look at. The third boat we looked at, a 1981 Gary Mull-designed Newport 30, turned out to be a great one. We met with the owners - who turned out to be three partners about our age. They'd had the boat for six years and were moving on. When our surveyor got done with his job, he said, "Buy this boat!" The boat sailed great in the sea trials, so we negotiated the best deal and signed on the bottom line. We got ourselves a beauty!

Once we'd done the deed, we still had some work to do - such as register the boat at the DMV, transfer the title, get insurance, and pay the sales tax. Yes, every time a boat is sold, the state wants sales tax. Lastly, we needed a place to keep the boat. We decided to keep her in Alameda, and just took over the slip that she'd always been in. This worked out well, as the less experienced of us could practice sailing in the Estuary without worrying about getting into too much trouble.

With five of us each paying $100 a month, that covers all the expenses - insurance, property taxes, bottom cleaning, canvas work, etc. - leaving a little extra for the little things that come up. We haul the boat once every two years to have the bottom painted and do minor repairs. Some of the haulout is covered by the kitty, but most if it comes out of our pockets. It usually has run about $300 to $350 a person.

In order to tie it all together, we made a simple contract and had each partner sign it. The contract stated the purchase price, who the partners were, and listed all the basics of our arrangements - such as who gets to use the boat when, keeping the boat clean for others, getting repairs done in a timely fashion, and a minimum length - one year - of participation. The contract also stated that sailing is a dangerous sport and that no one will sue any of the partners unless there was gross negligence.

The contract also stated that if a partner decides he/she wants out, it will be their responsibility to place the ads and do the sea trials for potential replacement partners. Once that is done, each of the current partners gets to meet the prospective partner and determine if the person would be a good fit. If for whatever reason the majority of partners don't feel comfortable with the potential partner, they can deny him/her and the process starts over. We've never had a problem with the latter.

We've had a wonderful experience with our partnerships over the last six years. If you do your homework and pick the right people to get involved, you can be sailing the Bay for a few dollars a day, too!

For more information about our boat and partnership, visit our website at

Craig Russell
Addiction, Newport 30

Craig - Thanks for your report. With time, money and berths in seemingly shorter supply all the time, boat partnerships are becoming more attractive. If any of you readers have been in such a partnership, we'd love to have a brief report, no matter if it was a success or failure.


The article about Richard Woods abandoning his 34-ft catamaran Eclipse in the Gulf of Tehuantepec will hopefully provide some lessons to those new to offshore sailing. Even though Woods - a designer and builder of small catamarans - claims to be a very experienced sailor with 70,000 offshore miles and 45 years of experience, he made several major mistakes.

1) Dinghies should never be carried on davits at sea. Not ever. It's not a matter of 'if' they will get filled with water and become a hazard to the safety of the vessel, but 'when'.

2) You should never get off a boat until you have to step up into a liferaft. There's no need to risk the lives of others unless you are seriously in danger. Being scared doesn't qualify. Woods commented that Eclipse was still seaworthy, could be salvaged and, at the time of the rescue, the wind and sea conditions were moderating. He should have called off the rescue.

3) A lightweight vessel like a cat with no lead keel or ballast is like a ping-pong ball on the water. For situations with exceptionally strong winds, owners of such boats need to have several heavy weather options. It turned out that the best for Eclipse was dragging warps. Woods would have been far better off if he'd bought a drogue or two to slow the boat to manageable speeds. With two, he could have streamed them from each hull, and thus been able to control the speed and direction of the boat. Also, by varying the length of the tow lines, he could have reduced the risk of both drogues coming out of the water at the same time, reducing the inevitable 'rubber band effect' that puts significant strain on lines and fittings.

4) Lastly, I question the skipper's decision-making. Woods was northbound and knew there was a gale coming. He decided to cross one of the most dangerous bodies of water despite the forecast. Then he headed offshore rather than inshore, and got into even stronger winds. I see from the location of the rescue that he was not even halfway across the Gulf of Tehuantepec when he and Jetti were rescued. How in the world did he think he could make it all the way across?

Yes, I know all about us armchair sailors, and that it's easy for us to make good decisions when hunkered down in our home by the fire on a stormy winter night. However, good decisions at sea require good planning. To all who go offshore, I recommend going by the good old Boy Scout motto of 'Be Prepared'.

By the way, I'm a vet of the last Ha-Ha, and just completed my first long solo passage - from Mexico to Hawaii in 20 days in light wind conditions. I'm 67 years old.

Glen Read
Nootka, Island Packet 40
Port of Edmonds, Washington

Glen - Congratulations on your singlehanded crossing.

We'll be the first to agree that Woods made a very poor decision when he tried to cross the Gulf of Tehuantepec knowing full well that a gale was on its way. We wouldn't have tried that in our old Ocean 71 ketch, let alone in a small and light catamaran. We can only assume that being from England, Woods wasn't sufficiently familiar with how treacherous the gulf becomes when a Tehuantepecker comes through. We know some experienced sailors aboard a Freya 39 - a very good heavy-weather boat - who were reduced to lying on the cabin sole during a 'Pecker and praying to be allowed to survive. Then there was another experienced cruising couple with a Morgan 38 who almost immediately gave up cruising after being caught in a similar storm there. Both of these cases happened about 20 years ago when Tehuantepeckers were harder to forecast and harder to be informed of. Now they are easy to forecast and therefore easy to avoid.

As for Woods' subsequent decisions, we're much more hesistant to be critical. We weren't there, so we have no idea how much he and girlfriend Jetti's physical and mental states might have deteriorated as a result of the long pummeling. Fatigue has a tremendously debilitating effect on physical and mental performance. Then, too, we have the benefit of hindsight. Suppose Woods - as you recommend - had waved off the rescue, then the wind and seas started to build again, the cat flipped and the two were killed. We can only imagine the second-guessing that would have gone on then. Nor are we sure it would have been advisable to set two drogues in those conditions, as it seems as though violent out-of-sync waves might have pulled the two hulls apart like a wishbone. But as we weren't there, we don't know.

Woods probably could have made better decisions, but the fact that he and Jetti survived indicates to us that he could have done worse.


Joe Elliott's two-part article on cruising the coast of California seemed to be a contradiction in terms. While cruising often means many things to many people, it always seemed to have a certain amount of self-reliance to it. Elliott seemed to think that seamanship can be replaced by whining on the VHF for the Coast Guard to bail him out of his troubles.

Also, when did marina hopping, with an occasional dropping of the hook, fall under the category of 'cruising'?

I once owned an Islander 30, too, but it was 30 years ago, and we sailed her to Banderas Bay, Mexico. This was when you had to navigate with a sextant using sight reduction tables, a Nautical Almanac, and a Walker Log. Those days are gone, Joe, but you seem to think being a prudent mariner is no longer necessary either.

Perhaps the Coast Guard should charge a fee to recover the costs incurred bailing novice mariners - such as Elliott - out of problems they neglected to prepare for at the dock.

Elliott's 'got to have' and 'not necessary' list was interesting. He may disagree with me, but I enjoy spending weeks at isolated anchorages, where water may not be available. And since I've grown tired of lugging water from land sources when it was available, I therefore disagree with his conclusion that watermakers aren't important. After all these years of cruising, I still find that I ask questions, inquire, and try to find solutions rather than relying on some self-inflated image.  

In closing, I'd like to remind Elliott that diapers aren't just for the very old, but for babies, too. Pick up a rattle while you're getting the diapers, because somebody may recognize it for the EPIRB that you decided was unnecessary.

Jerry Metheany

Jerry - Elliott had a lot of controversial opinions, so we're surprised that there wasn't more reader reaction to some of them. Here's our response to a couple of the things he claimed weren't necessary for a California coastal cruise:

- A RIB tender with a big outboard. In our book, there is no substitute for a planing dinghy. In fact, it's our opinion that while his Sea Eagle tender might be marginally acceptable for putting around in sheltered harbors, it would be grossly inadequate - both in design and construction - for the kind of coastal cruising we enjoy. We need a dinghy that can withstand being rolled in the surf, dragged over sharp rocks and barnacles, and be capable of making headway in relatively rough open ocean conditions.

- Spinnakers. We can't imagine cruising south of Pt. Conception without a spinnaker or gennaker. In many cases it makes the difference between having a wonderfully satisfying sail and having to listen to a noisy diesel. We've had some fabulous spinnaker runs in the Santa Barbara Channel between Pt. Mugu and Pt. Dume, and back and forth between Catalina and Long Beach, Redondo and Newport Beach. Contrary to Elliott's contention, we think it's far more "suicidal" to fly a spinnaker on San Francisco Bay than it is in typical Southern California conditions.

In addition, the crack about diapers was absurd. The fact is that the oceans of the world are overflowing with guys - and a few gals - in their 60s and 70s and 80s, who can still cruise with the best of them. Elsewhere in this issue we note that Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to singlehand around the world nonstop, will be doing it again next year, at age 67, with a big, beamy Open 60. Then there's lifelong smoker Tony Bullimore, who at age 67 is going to attempt to singlehand his 102-ft racing cat Team Daedalus around the world. The list of people sailing the oceans of the world past age 65 is a very long one. Besides, does Elliott think it would be better for them or the world if they were warehoused in senior care facilities?

Of course, we don't agree with Metheany on everything, either. We've got a wonderful Spectra watermaker on our catamaran, but the only time we've used it was from California to the Caribbean and back, and when we have a dozen or more people on Profligate for a Ha-Ha. If we stop at a fuel dock or marina every two weeks, we can take on all the water we need for the next couple of weeks without ever having to fire up the watermaker.


I'm a huge and longtime fan of Latitude, but thought you might appreciate a different perspective on your cruising Vietnam story that appeared in the May 8 'Lectronic. Certainly a case can be made for cultural exchange and personal relationships being built between nice people, and the Vietnamese are generally very nice people. It is also one of the most beautiful spots on earth - especially the Central Highlands.

However, no cruisers will see the Central Highlands because it is the home of religious and racial persecution against the Montagnard (Dega) people. It is locked down. Journalists and diplomats are not allowed. Immigration is denied. The Dega aligned themselves with Special Forces and fought valiantly for their freedom. They fought innumerable battles that American soldiers didn't have to fight. They were abandoned and misled by our government, which is largely to blame for their present dire situation. A pitiful few escaped through Laos and now have exemplary communities here in the United States.

The point is that we are condoning a ruthless and totalitarian country by glibly taking a tour or cruise and pretending everything is fine. It is not. If you go, please make a point of asking about the Montagnards. They may have saved your brother or uncle way back when. You owe them.

Steve Hatch
Black Irish Dive Service
South San Francisco

Steve - A clarification is required. The author of that piece is Jack van Ommen, who singlehanded to Vietnam from California. He first went to Vietnam very early in the '60s, at which time he fell in love with the place. We don't think his visit condones the current deplorable state of human rights in that country any more than our cruise to Cuba condoned the tyranny of Castro. Indeed, van Ommen's article on Vietnam, like ours on Cuba, provided an opportunity to remind everyone of the terrible human rights abuses in those countries.

In case we've been unclear on the matter, there are three principles we at Latitude stand for: 1) free people, 2) free trade, and 3) personal responsibility. As such, we're diametrically opposed to virtually everything the notably corrupt Vietnamese political and economic system stands for. Indeed, we're encouraged that hundreds of people in Vietnam - including priests, monks, former Communist Party members, academics, engineers, teachers and many others - were brave enough to sign two public appeals two months ago. On April 8, they risked their lives by signing the Appeal for Freedom of Political Association, and two days later, by signing the 2006 Manifesto on Freedom and Democracy for Vietnam.

"In Vietnam, the mere act of signing such documents routinely triggers a police investigation, detention and often imprisonment," said Brad Adams, Asia Director at Human Rights Watch. When it comes to human rights, Vietnam is high on the shit list of groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other advocacy groups.

But talk about the ultimate irony, can you imagine a country losing two million of its people in an armed conflict - and the survivors ending up even more enslaved than ever? What an incredible waste.


Thank you so much for choosing the wonderful photo of my Black Soo Mirage for the centerfold in the Singlehanded Sailing Society's Farallones Race coverage last month. It was a great day to be out there - fine weather, gentle breezes, and being on a great boat that loves those tight reaches.

Of course, there is a story. Mirage was, of course, the 'honeymoon ride' for my lovely wife Lucie and me during the last West Marine Pacific Cup, so this was to be Lucie's first singlehanded Farallones Race on the boat. I was going to take Georgia, our soon-to-be cruising boat. Well, stuff happens, and lucky me ended up taking Mirage. Thank you Lucie!

So there I was at the starting line looking for the other Black Soo, Greg Nelsen's Starbuck, to push both of us to the limit. But there was no Starbuck in sight! I got a good start, and by the time I sailed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, I could still read the sail number and name on Mark Holman's Hobie 33 Sleeping Dragon. So I wasn't doing too badly. But looking aft in the direction of Pier 39, I could see a narrow and low shape so familiar to participants in SSS events. It was Starbuck, late to the start because Nelsen's outboard had crapped out off Treasure Island and he'd had to start sailing from there.

Well, by the time we got to the Farallones, Greg had closed so much that I could almost read his sail number. That's why I was frequently looking back about the time the photo was taken. As it turned out, on the way back to the Bay, Nelsen opted to go to the northside of the shipping channel while I took the southern route. Although his Starbuck finished ahead of me by about five minutes, she owed Mirage time because she's been modified. When it was all over, I corrected out ahead of Greg by a mere eight seconds! It was that close. We took second and third overall in the sportboat division, five corrected-time minutes behind Sleeping Dragon.

By the way, those hard-chine 'plywood boxes' are the greatest little sailing boats - especially in the ocean. In fact, I'm quite sure that Lucie fell in love with Mirage long before she fell in love with me!

Ben Mewes
Mirage, Black Soo 31

Ben - Thanks for providing 'the rest of the story'. Sailing is deceptive, for so often what looks like nothing more than a boat sailing along is actually part of an exciting on-the-water drama - albeit usually just between a few people. We were involved in competitive sports for a long time, and have to say that we rarely had more fun than when shorthanded racing with/against friends.

Speaking of 'plywood boxes', you probably won't be surprised to note that Jack van Ommen, who did the '82 Singlehanded TransPac, had no trouble sailing his triple-chine Naja 29 Fleetwood from California to Vietnam.


Did anyone see Survivorman on the Science Channel? I'm thinking of the installment where the guy inflated a liferaft from the back of a sailboat and proceeded to practice his survival techniques for a few days on the open ocean. The liferaft he was using opened upside down, which he said was common. As a result, the survival gear inside the raft got soaking wet. In addition, he had a terrible time with leaking from the floor and from the inflated areas. He had to continually bail the raft out and reinflate the sides. All this happened in relatively calm waters.

If anyone knows the type of liferaft used, I'd like to know about it so I can avoid purchasing that brand. There was no reference on the show or on their website as to the brand.

Randy Hasness
Manassas, Virginia

Randy - There are different rafts/liferaft models for different situations. Some are classified for use less than three miles offshore, some three to 20 miles offshore, and others for more than 20 miles offshore. In some ways these categories are ridiculous, because if your boat sinks three miles off the Marin Headlands when the Potato Patch is breaking, you're likely to need a better liferaft than if you sank 2,000 miles into the Pacific.

As you might expect, the better made and equipped liferafts cost substantially more than the basic models. As you also might expect, many boat owners purchase the least expensive models in the belief it's unlikely they'll ever have to use it.

It's not uncommon for liferafts to inflate upside down and/or roll over in windy conditions. That's why candidates for Coast Guard six-pak licenses have to get into a pool and prove they have mastered the techniques necessary for righting such liferafts - in a swimming pool, at least. And if you read accounts of people who have had to spend long periods of times in liferafts during rough weather, being rolled and having the raft fill with water is not uncommon.

That liferafts flip might seem like a severe defect - until you realize that there are other important requirements that have to be met also. For instance, a liferaft has to be compact enough to fit on a small boat, light enough for one person to launch in severe weather, yet large enough to accomodate several people. If you want to take a crack at meeting all those design requirements in one package, you'll see that there is no way to avoid some serious compromises. For example, if you're thinking of adding ballast to keep the raft upright, you'll no doubt make the raft too heavy to be launched in the first place. And even if it could be launched, it would leave the raft relatively stationary in the water, and therefore a sitting duck for breaking waves that, over time, might tear it apart.

We think a lot of mariners have a vague notion that if they buy a liferaft, everything will turn out hunky-dory, even if their boat suddenly goes down in 35-kt winds and 15-ft seas. To assume that it would be easy to launch and board a liferaft in such conditions is complete nonsense. Having a liferaft is not a guarantee that you'll survive such situations, just that you'll have a fighting chance at it. The first challenge in an abandon ship situation is very physical - getting the liferaft into the water from the probably pitching deck without anybody getting hurt in the process. It's not unusual for liferafts to be inflated - intentionally or unintentionally - on deck, in which case the problems are multiplied many times over. Even if the crew gets the raft into the water, can you imagine the force that 35 knots of wind puts on a bulky liferaft? If you can, you'll understand why many liferafts get blown away before their crews can even climb into them. And even if they are launched upright, and stay upright, rafts can still be extremely difficult to climb aboard in stormy conditions, rope ladders notwithstanding. If you read the accounts of people who have had to spend long periods of time in liferafts, they usually had a lot of trouble with eliminating moisture. And with the moisture comes sores and often rapidly deteriorating health. As such, if you have to get into a liferaft, the most important thing is to make sure you get out as quickly as possible - which is why an EPIRB and/or satphone are so important.

Sal of Sal's Inflatables brings a raft that we inflate at every Crew List Party, so everybody has a chance to crawl around inside. While it's fun, hopefully it also makes everyone think twice about what it would really be like to have to survive extreme conditions in such a raft.


Visitors to Two Harbors at Catalina Island should be aware of a new rule that we ran afoul of during a recent visit to that wonderful place. Our problem began just as the sun was setting below an adjacent yardarm, as Phil, one of our stout-hearted crew with a passion for heavily iced gin and tonic, made a seemingly innocent quip to a passing Harbor Patrol officer about our lack of ice. The officer said nothing at the time, but he, and others on nearby moorings, clearly made a note of our four rowdy crew - all in our '50s and '60s - aboard La Storia.

About an hour later, there was an insistent rapping on our hull followed by a loud, "Ahoy!" It was the same officer as before, rousting me from below where I was preparing dinner for my crew. As I scrambled up the companionway steps to meet the officer, my mind raced through the list of sinful ommissions or commissions that could have brought the officer to our vessel. The rest of my crew breathed an accusatory "Ooooh." I greeted the officer with a smile that hopefully masked my anxiety, and asked as innocently as possible how I could help him.

He gruffly informed me that one of our neighbors had lodged a complaint.

I again racked my brain for a transgression. True, we'd been having a good time, but I couldn't imagine that we were disturbing the early evening peace. After all, a cold wind was blowing across the Isthmus, so we were all down below bending elbows, listening to Sinatra, munching cheese and crackers, and roasting the political establishment while I burned the vegetables.

"What's the problem?" I asked. He replied sternly that our neighbors had observed the crew of La Storia having cocktails - without ice!

As my expression morphed slowly from confusion to understanding, the officer, now sporting a big smile, handed over a five-pound bag of frozen cubes, while captain and crew burst into relieved and appreciative laughter. The officer graciously refused payment for his contribution to our icebox, and motored off to perform his official duties with Two Harbor's unique hospitality.

Burt McChesney
La Storia, Catalina/Morgan 45
Chula Vista

Burt - We've spent quite a bit of time at Two Harbors over the last five years, and thus have had plenty of opportunity to observe how the place is run. In our opinion, the management and employees do a superb job. What gives the place such a pleasant vibe is that all the harbor patrol folks come across as facilitators of fun rather than law enforcement officers. That's probably because they aren't law enforcement officers and don't carry guns - even though they do have "Limited Police Officer Power," which does allow them to make arrests and write citations. But based on our experience, they do their best to avoid doing that or calling the L.A. Sheriff who is stationed there. We also want to put in a good word for the great harbor patrol folks at Avalon. They aren't part of the same organization, but they do an equally good job. A tip of the hat to all of them.


As a boy growing up around the Bay, I sailed two to six days a week year 'round. Sunshine, fog, rain - it didn't matter. As an adult, however, I settled into a bimodal child-centric, workaholic lifestyle, and my time on the water shrunk. The decades raced by, responsibilities grew, and eventually my passion for sailing had to be crammed into a measly 10 or 15 days per year. In recent years, I compounded the problem by getting onto airplanes several times a month, though I still preferred sailboats. But clearly the work thing had gotten the better of me.

In January 2003, in an attempt to restore my psyche, I took the advice of my friend Dave Parker and sent out the "mother of all racing schedules" to a group of sailing buddies who might crew for me. As Parker suggested, a company of crewmembers signed up for laughs and luck on i, and ever since we have been off to, well, the races.

My wooden beauty was built in Norway in 1937. I bought her in '91, and after an extensive restoration in '93, have berthed her in the bucolic San Francisco YC harbor in Belvedere Cove. After paint and polish, she was renamed Youngster - "because she doesn't look or feel her age" - by Christina, the youngest of my four children. We are thankful that our spry 69-year-old has the wherewithal to come and go as often as she pleases.

A while ago, Hank Easom mentioned that he couldn't believe how often he had seen Youngster sailing - we keep no quarter with engines - in and out of Belvedere. I began to wonder how often that had been. So crew chief Chris Sidner and I added up our racing schedules, and discovered that the Youngster indulged us with a whopping 92 races on 82 different days in '03, 84 races in '04, and 85 races in '05. According to our schedule, we'll be doing 88 races this year. I actually wish we could race her more, because each time we go out I feel privileged.

Youngster feels alive, is easy on the eyes, and rejuvenates our spirit by providing constant play on the Bay. Who can fault us for enjoying such a healthy elixir as often as possible? 

Ron Young
San Francisco

Ron - Getting out an average of 85 times a year is pretty rare. Can any readers top it?


Gary Wyngarden quoted Steinbeck's description of Cabo San Lucas in The Log of The Sea of Cortez - based on a trip the author took aboard the Western Flyer in 1940 - as a reason to question why the Baja Ha-Ha ends in Cabo. That bit of historic description reminds us of the value of contemporaneous historic accounts - the best of which is probably Richard Henry Dana, Jr.'s Two Years Before The Mast, which I am reading again with great enjoyment.

Based on that book, why would anyone want to go to:

Santa Barbara, which lies "on a low, flat plain, covered with grass, though entirely without trees . . . and is composed of one-story houses build entirely of brown clay - some of them plastered - with red tiles on the roofs." Dana estimated there were 300 buildings, plus a presidio that was "apparently, a little stronger."

San Diego, which is "composed of about 40 dark brown looking huts or houses and two larger ones," and protected by a garrison of "12 half-clothed and half-starved fellows," with "only two guns, one of which was spiked and the other had no carriage."

San Francisco, on the other hand, sounds like a place that even back then we might have wanted to visit. It has "a magnificent bay," with "small and beautifully-wooded islands." Dana predicted that "if California ever becomes a prosperous country, this bay will be the centre of its prosperity. The abundance of wood and water, the extreme fertility of its shores, the excellence of its climate, which is as near to perfect as any in the world, and . . . the best anchoring grounds in the whole western coast of America, all fit it to be a place of great importance."

Above all, Two Years Before The Mast is a great sailing book. The new American Library edition, beautifully bound on high-quality India paper includes Dana's To Cuba and Back, and Journal of a Voyage Around the World. They are fun to read and an inspiration to all sailors.

Ken Harms
Land Locked in Yorba Linda

Ken - Another excellent historical book that would be of interest to many mariners is David McCullough's The Path Between Two Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal. It's a scholarly, rather than pop, book, in which much can be learned about: U.S. politics (why the Canal site was changed from Nicaragua to Panama at the last minute); international politics (how the United States all but created the country of Panama in a few weeks out of what had been a valuable part of Colombia); wild business speculation (how millions of innocent French investors got fleeced by investing in the failed French attempt to build a sea level canal in Panama); and medicine (at the time, malaria, literally 'bad air', was thought to be the cause of malaria and yellow fever.) The only bad thing about the book is that it's so scholarly that it bogs down a bit. McCullough should have done a pop version for the layman. But it's still an excellent book.


Some people ask why we gave our Freya 39 - just back from a multi-year cruise in the South Pacific and antipodes, the name Solstice. As most readers probably know, the solstices are the two days of the year corresponding to the first day of summer and the first day of winter. These are the longest and shortest days of the year, respectively. I liked the name for its connections with the sun, and also for its symbolic allusion to highs and lows, turning points, natural cycles, and the balance and symmetry in nature.

As much as I thought of solstice as sort of a celestial yin-yang, it turns out the connection is much closer than I had originally realized. The Chinese words yin and yang literally mean moon and sun, and the yin-yang symbol comes from plots of a pole's shadow through the seasons of the year. The dots in the yin-yang represent the sun at the summer and winter solstices!

The word solstice comes from the Latin solstitium, which means "the point at which the sun stands still" - referring to the sun's arrival at the northern or southernmost limits of its annual travels. This happens at 23.5º from the equator, and the lines circling the globe at these latitudes are called the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere and the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere. The word tropic comes from the Greek tropikos, which means "of or pertaining to a turn or change," once again referring to the turn of the sun when it reaches that latitude.

The choice of Cancer and Capricorn to name the tropics is no accident either. These are the astrological signs where the sun is at the summer and winter solstices respectively. Furthermore, the astrological signs of Cancer and Capricorn begin on - you guessed it - the summer and winter solstices.

(At one time the sun was in the constellations of Cancer and Capricorn during the solstices, but due to the earth wobbling on its axis - a phenomenon known as precession - this is no longer the case.)

So another way to think of the solstices is as the boundaries of the tropics. I can't think of a better name for a tropical cruising boat!

Jim Hancock
Solstice, Freya 39

Jim - Very interesting. Anybody else have an entertaining explanation for the name of their boat? If, however, your boat is one of the many named Blow Job or Wet Spot, we're really not that interested.


I'm a novice sailor who is considering buying a boat and going cruising for a few years, and maybe more. In preparation, I'm busy taking sailing lessons, reading books and back issues of Latitude, and saving money. But I've got a couple of questions that I haven't seen answers to.

First, would you recommend - or caution against - buying a wooden boat? I love the idea of wooden boats, and when looking at the 'Classics' section of the Classy Classifieds, it seems like you can get a lot of boat for the money. But will I wind up spending a fortune on upkeep and will my life turn into an endless saga of repairing dry rot? I've read some books by happy owners of wooden boats, but other books have implied that a wooden boat will all but crumble into nothingness the instant you sail it into the tropics. Will I have a harder time finding repair facilities/materials in foreign countries? Any other considerations I'm missing?

Second, I'd like to pick up some boat-related job skills before I go cruising. I'm a computer programmer, so with some luck I'll be able to do some telecommuting to pay some of my cruising bills. But it would be nice to have some backup job skills and/or skills that could allow me to do some of the maintenance on my own boat. I've considered working for free at a boatyard, perhaps learning to fix wooden boats, or learning electronics, engine repair, carpentry, sailmaking or something like that. I've also considered trying to pick up a mishmash of this stuff by reading books and crewing on other people's boats. Do you have any recommendations on what skills might be most useful for saving/making money while cruising, and how you'd recommend picking them up?

Jason Duell

Jason - Traditional wood boats - as opposed to strip-planked and other epoxy-saturated boats - almost always require considerably more time and money to maintain than boats built of other materials. This is a shame, because wood is the most natural and beautiful boatbuilding material of all. If you want to get an idea of how much more work is involved maintaining wood boats, become a part of the Master Mariners fleet and volunteer to help some of the owners maintain their boats. We're not saying that you can't successfully cruise on a wood boat, just that there are plenty of good reasons why most people don't try it. In addition, some wood boats seem like 'a lot of boat for the money' because those who aren't experts don't have any idea how much work is required to bring them up to snuff.

Most modern cruisers tend to have a lot more money than they do mechanical skills. As such, if you find yourself in a cruising center and know how to diagnose and repair diesels, refrigeration systems and electronics, you'll usually have all the work that you can handle. But we're talking about really knowing what you're doing. There are all kinds of so-called 'mechanics' out there who know just enough to be dangerous, but the word usually gets around pretty quickly. If you're serious about learning how to repair diesels, electronics, or refrigeration systems - and we suggest that you become an expert in one field rather than a jack of all trades - we recommend that you get formal training at the appropriate school.


Elisabeth and I are planning our escape, one that will eventually take us across the Caribbean and then across the Atlantic to Europe. Everything I can find says that going west to east across the Caribbean is not just uncomfortable, but really bad. You and Profligate have done this a number of times, haven't you? We'd like to know what route you took. It would appear that the southern harbor-hopping route would be the best, but there's the Colombia and Venezuelan crime factor to take into consideration. Is the northern route via Jamaica and Hispanola any better? We'd really appreciate any insight that you might be willing to share.

I have Jimmy Cornell's World Cruising Routes book and the pilot charts. We're looking at a fall/winter/spring trip that would put us in Antigua in time for the May start of the ARC Europa.

Rod Lambert & Elisabeth Lehmbert
Proximity, Swan 41
San Francisco

Rod and Elisabeth - A west to east trip across the Caribbean from Panama to Antigua is one of the nastiest passages in all of cruising because it's 1,200 miles - if you could make it in a straight line, which you can't - directly into the relentless Caribbean trades, seas and current. In the winter, it's not uncommon for the trades to blow 25 to 35 knots for weeks at a time. During the summer, when the trades are generally lighter, there's always the threat of hurricanes. Every year there are people who try to make the straight shot, but Herb Hilgenberg, the Canadian weather guru for the Caribbean and Atlantic, thinks it's a terrible idea. "Boats have such a hard time making much headway into the trades in the first place, and then they lose about 30 miles of that each day because of the current."

In modern times, it's been Randy and Lourae Kenoffel of the San Francisco-based Beneteau 50 Pizazz who have popularized the harbor-hopping route that hugs the north coast of South America. The really hard part is the 400 miles from Cartagena to Aruba, generally thought to be the roughest part of the Caribbean. The Kenoffels have put together a rough cruising guide to making that trip with only, as we recall, one overnight passage. A just-updated version can be gotten directly from them by email. The files are very large, so don't attempt it over SailMail or Winlink.

This southern route would probably be more popular were it not for the fact that several crews - including that of a former Ha-Ha boat - have been violently attacked at anchorages along the coast of Colombia. Despite the handful of attacks, many cruisers have been following the Kenoffel's advice. In the opinion of the couple, the best times of year to attempt this route are during the transitions between the wet and dry seasons, meaning between March and early June, and September through November.

With all due respect, we don't agree completely with the Kenoffel's recommended time frames. The last time we sailed from Antigua to Panama, it was in early May, and it blew in the high 20s to the low 30s almost the entire way, and there were two swell trains. Trying to sail or motor into that would have been all but impossible. As such, we think late May or early June would be better before the beginning of the wet season, and based on Profligate's experience, after the wet season a crossing might be doable as late as the middle of December. But you just never can tell.

Another timing strategy along this route is to wait until a hurricane passing to the north - which could happen any time between July and December - kills off the normal trades and westerly swells. At that point you want to haul ass nonstop from Cartagena to Aruba while praying the hurricane doesn't make a surprise dip to the south. Of course, this would require waiting for a hurricane that might never come to do exactly what you want it to do. Once you're Aruba, you're still not home free, as it's still a long way against the trades to Grenada, at which point you can start heading up the chain of islands. If you hug the coast of Venezuela, you can often avoid most of the trades on the way to Grenada. Nonetheless, you will have covered a hell of a lot more than 1,200 miles before it's all over.

The northern route consists of heading from either Panama or Cartagena to the Cayman Islands or, if you can point high enough and don't get set too much by the current, to Jamaica. You can still get the living crap kicked out of you, and once you reach Jamaica, you're still left with an upwind, upcurrent bash of nearly 1,000 miles to get to Antigua. But at least you can duck in and out of harbors and anchorages in Hispanola, Puerto Rico and the Virgins, picking the best weather windows. Thanks to the 'night lee' effect of the islands, it's possible to work eastward in relatively calm weather - but only in the wee hours of the night, and only for short distances. For details on this, you'll want to read Bruce van Sant's colorful A Gentleman's Guide to Passages South: The Thornless Guide to Windward.

It's possible to take this route more months of the year than Cartagena to Aruba because it's usually not as rough once you get 100 miles away from Cartagena. But once again, May to June are good, as is the summer if there are no hurricanes. And you can usually do it as late as December. The worst time is mid-December through early April. There are, of course, exceptions, as you can sometimes find great weather windows during the worst months and horrible weather during what are normally the best months.

Our boats have gone eastward across the Caribbean twice. The first time, Jim Drake left Cartagena, Colombia, with Big O, hoping to take the southern passage across the top of South America to Aruba. It was February, about the worst month of the year. As we recall, he left port two or three times, and each time was turned back by winds to 45 knots and seas to 15 feet. So finally he elected to sail north to Jamaica, then work his way east across the islands. It was not a pleasure cruise, and this was with a boat that can handle heavy weather.

The other time, Doña de Mallorca and crew found a decent enough weather window to streak from Cartagena to Aruba to Antigua in early December. But in order for them to be able to do that, they had to leave Cabo the first week in November - right after the end of the Ha-Ha - and charge all but nonstop to Panama at an average of 8.5 knots to position themselves for the window. Few monohulls or smaller cats would be capable of doing this, nor would their crews want to try. Had the Profligate crew not reached the Canal until the middle of December, chances are they would have been turned back by the full fury of the reinforced trades - and perhaps not been able to make it to Antigua at all until the season was over. Indeed, prior to the start of the trip we'd reconciled ourselves to the fact that there was a good chance it wouldn't be successful.

The problem with leaving California in the fall with a slower boat and trying to get to Antigua by May is that you can't leave California until the hurricane season is over, but you have to make it to Panama before the reinforced trades kick in. If you don't, you'll likely have to wait until April to try to cross the Caribbean in decent weather to reach Antigua by the early May start of the ARC - meaning that you'll have had no time to enjoy the Caribbean. And that would be a shame. If your primary goals are to cruise Mexico, the Caribbean, and then Europe in one year, you might want to see if there isn't a Dockwise ship that could take your boat from Mexico to the Eastern Caribbean in January or February.


Thanks for your March issue advice on whether we should join a boat for the trip from St. Barth to St. Kitts and back. You gave good advice and we had a phenomenal time!

I was armed with Latitudes for both the port captain and Marius Stakelborough of Le Select. I didn't actually get to see the port captain, but I met the gracious Marius, and he was delighted to get the April edition. I brought some more Latitudes which I gave to other cruisers we met along the way.

The boat we joined up with in Gustavia Harbor, St. Barth, was Black Angel, a CSY 41 with a custom sugar scoop on the stern. The boat is owned by friends Tracy Brash, originally from Belvedere, and Robyn Bently of St. Helena. They'd purchased her at Tortola in the British Virgins.

We enjoyed St. Barth for a few days but, before we spent all our money, departed for Saba, where we anchored for a day while getting a tour of the colorful mountain that comes straight up out of the sea. We were taken to Hell's Gate, high above the airstrip. Trying to land on that strip on the side of a mountain must be a real white knuckler for pilots. The runway is only 1,300 feet long, and it drops 200 feet to the sea at either end.

After sailing a lively beam reach in 22 knots of wind to St. Eustatia, we pulled into the lovely bay at Oranjbaie. It was Monday on Easter week, and the sound of reggae music was booming from the beach. We picked up a mooring in the bay, and it was here something occurred that your readers who may visit Statia in the future will want to know about.

After securing the mooring, the three of us were emerging from below to take the dink in to check out the festivities on the beach - when we saw a 40-ft sailboat rapidly coming toward us, seemingly out of control. The skipper of that boat and all of us raced to our stern port quarter, where we managed to avoid full impact. After several tense moments of fending off and uncoupling, we pushed her bow away.

But get this! It was only after untangling their spare anchor from our stern rail and pushing the two boats apart that we learned that they were securely at anchor and that we'd 'reverse t-boned' them! Luckily, we only suffered a scraped toerail and they a superficial gouge in the bow. We surmised that the cement anchor on our mooring had crumbled, setting us adrift in the offshore breeze. We were amazed that they, Rico and Jackson Verburg of the Austin-based 40-ft Apparition, were so calm and nice about the whole incident. We gave them a bottle of our best wine and chalked the whole thing up to experience. We now know not to trust unknown mooring balls. The park ranger who spoke with a Dutch accent was unapologetic as he collected our $10 fee for spending the night, no matter if we were tethered to a mooring or at anchor.

Later, on a hike up the volcano, I told a local what happened. He told me that just a couple of weeks before a Moorings charterboat had dragged her mooring and wound up on the rocks. Later, while fishing the reef outside the breakwater, we saw a fairly new Moorings 37 in a junk pile, with the bottom of the hull looking pretty trashed. Yikes! In a stronger offshore breeze, and no one to stop us, that could have been us aboard Black Angel!

We went on to St. Kitts and Nevis without incident, except for a pod of four humpback whales that surrounded Black Angel for some exciting moments. I left Tracy and Robyn anchored in Oualie Bay off Nevis. At last word, they were in Guadaloupe on their way to Venezuela for the hurricane season.

But thanks once again for the good advice.

Joe Bunker
San Rafael


I'm asking your readers and the Latitude staff for some perspective and wisdom with regard to boats. I need to buy a yacht, and would like to be doing some cruising in about four years. I have looked at a plethora of boats in the $150,000 to $250,000 range. But what's the deal when it comes to the relative costs of owning a boat when compared to a house? I realize that real estate is obviously a better investment, but I'm wondering more about the ongoing costs.

After doing some cost analysis - based on lots of reading of Latitude and sites on the Internet - I think I have a decent idea of boat costs. Say I buy a boat that costs $200,000. The ballpark figures I come up with are about $2,000 a year for insurance, $400 a month for berthing, and about $10,000 a year for maintenance. With regard to the latter, I'm assuming that I've bought a well-maintained yacht without any brightwork, and that I will be doing some of the maintenance myself. So let's say it costs $1,500/month to run the boat.

Having not owned a home, I'm not familiar with the associated costs.

I'm interested in opinions on whether I should forego buying a house and simply plunge into a yacht. And yes, I realize that I'd have to live in a studio apartment until I leave the Bay to cruise.

Planet Earth

Anonymous - Let's clarify a few things. First, real estate is not obviously a better investment. While it's been a terrific investment for the last few years, many experts believe there is a bubble that's about to burst anywhere from 15 to 25%. We personally don't think that's going to happen because the supply-demand ratio for housing is so out of whack, but it's certainly possible. If it did happen, and you had purchased a median-priced house - $700,000 - in the Bay Area, you might lose anywhere between $105,000 and $175,000 - or darn near what you were thinking about paying for a boat. So when it comes to investments - real estate included - nobody knows for sure what the future holds.

There is one thing, however, that many experts agree on - that this is a great time to rent rather than own. Why? Because even with relatively low interest rates, it's a hell of a lot cheaper to rent a $700,000 house than it is to make payments on a $700,000 house. And if you buy instead of rent, the personal property taxes are just devastating. If you buy a $700,000 house, you're going to be paying more than $700 a month in personal property taxes alone. Yeah, you'd have to pay those taxes on a boat, too, but because the boat would cost so much less, the tax bill would be so much less. It's just our opinion, but given the much higher cost of making mortgage payments than rent payments, and the extremely high expense of personal property taxes, anyone who buys a house now is speculating that the market will continue its blistering rate of appreciation. It could happen, but we wouldn't bet on it.

Although we've owned a house for nearly 30 years, we're so disinterested in it that we can't even remember what the expenses are. And, of course, the cost of home ownership can vary wildly depending on what style you like to maintain. But any good realtor could give you some good estimates.

As for your estimate of $1,500/month to berth, insure, and maintain a boat, we think that's a little high for a typical $200,000 boat used for sailing on the Bay. The berthing and insurance sound about right, but $10,000 a year for maintenance seems over the top to us, assuming the boat is reasonably well equipped and in good condition to begin with.

We don't know if this is at all applicable to you or your situation, but one option you might consider is buying an even nicer boat than you were considering, and then living aboard instead of buying a house or renting an apartment. You'd clearly be way ahead in terms of cash flow. It was the only way we could afford a boat in the beginning, and it helped us buy a house later. And now, like a lot of boomers, it gives us the option of renting our house out to pay for our cruising. The problem with this approach, of course, is that it can be very hard to find a legal place to live aboard.

For what it's worth, few people refer to their boats as a 'yacht', as it seems a wee bit on the pretentious side. 'Yachtie', on the other hand, is much accepted, as it has a whiff of self-depreciation.


I was a bit dismayed by George Backhus' letter in which he expressed his apparent disdain for Amateur Radio operators. As an avid reader of Latitude over the years, I have enjoyed the letters from Mr. Backhus, and admired his achievements as a bluewater cruiser. But I would like him to know that not all Hams whine about the rules and restrictions for "our club." As an avid amateur for the past 40 or so years, I found the rules and limitations somewhat comforting in that they kept out the duffers and folks with lots of money but no radio knowledge.

As for his comment about making Ham band utilities available to SSB, it's apparent that he doesn't understand the function of the Federal Communications Commission and "their" rules. By the way, SSB is a form of radio frequency modulation, not a set of bands set aside for a particular group.

Finally, I was one of those who was violently opposed to the abolishment of the Morse Code requirement. I hope Mr. Backhus enjoys sending email by SSB as much as I do using Amatuer Radio - even with its attendant rules and limitations.

Byron Corley, Ha-Ha '00
Sabrina, Rawson 30

Byron - Here's what we find troubling about your point of view. We use computers even though we don't know how they work. We use cell phones even though we don't know how they work. We use SSB radios even though we don't know how they work. As such, how much do we have to know about how Ham radios work before we can use them?

Similarly, it's befuddling to many of us why we should have to know Morse Code - a completely outdated skill in this era of satphones - in order to get a Ham license. It's almost like saying that nobody should be allowed to drive a car in the fast lane unless they can prove they can drive a car with a manual transmission. As such, it seems like hazing to those thinking about applying for a license.


Too bad you were so quick to belittle Rick Gordon in your reply to his question about how far it was from San Diego to Ensenada. Look at line six and seven of your reply, and you'll see where better proofreading might have spared you some embarrassment. You stated "one degree of latitude is equal to 1/60th of a nautical mile."

Please print a correction. You might add that one minute of latitude is equal to one nautical mile, and one second of latitude is equal to 1/60th of a nautical mile - and that these degrees, minutes, and seconds are related to angles of arc and not temperature and time.

Capt. Dave
Los Gatos


Not only does Rick Gordon show a lack of knowledge about navigating in his letter in the May issue, but you are leading him farther astray with information such as, "one degree of latitude is equal to 1/60th of a nautical mile". If that's true, Gordon wouldn't need a boat or any form of transportation other than his feet to get to Ensenada, as it would be a short stroll.

I think what you meant is that one degree of latitude is equal to 60 nautical miles, and if you use the latitude scale on a small scale chart, use the latitude scale opposite your estimated position. The latitude scale varies when using charts that cover large areas.

Dan Haynes
Pappy, Wilderness 21
Menlo Park

Dan - Either we planted that misinformation to find out how many of you were reading closely, or we made an embarrassing typo that new editor Herb McCormick will be glad happened before he comes on watch on June 1. You decide.


During the Latitude 38 Crew Party at the Golden Gate YC on April 5, one of your staffers asked who did the transom extension on my Perry 47. At the time I'd had a beer or two too many to recall, but now I can tell you it was a fellow named Pete from H&H Boatbuilders in Auckland.

What got me interested in them doing the job is that I met Pete and his girlfriend in New Caledonia. They'd just sailed there from New Zealand aboard his Ranger 36 catamaran that he'd extended to 39 feet. Interestingly enough, he extended the bows as opposed to the transoms - and did a flawless job. He also did some work inside the pods that was again flawless.

Pete designed and built the pilothouse for my Perry 47, and did a typically excellent job. What a maestro of design and fiberglassing! I learned a lot from him, and he even helped with the design of my stern extension. But when it came to the setting of the mold and fiberglassing for that job, a shipwright, a laborer, and I did all the work.

At the time Pete did the work, he was so meticulous that it drove me crazy. After all, it took a lot more time and the additional time cost me a lot of money. But when I look at the pilothouse and can't find a flaw, I realize it was all worth it.

The last I heard from Pete was three years ago. Someone in Fiji had hired him to come up there and do some work on his 65-ft ketch. The last email address I have is: peteandjudi at - or maybe peteandjudi at

Max Young
Reflections, Perry 47
Antioch / Thailand


I thought you might be interested in seeing the latest addition to our Wylie 38+ Flashgirl after we cruised her from San Francisco to New Zealand - a rigid dodger. It has been painted and fitted, we just took measurements for making the windows, and soon we'll attach flexible solar panels to the top. It will have two LED lights on the underside, one on port and one on starboard, with switches down below.

Since a major expense of such a project is the making of the mold, those of you with similar Wylie yachts - and you know who you are - might be interested in having one of these puppies made down here. We have determined that the dodger could be made down here, shipped to the States in two parts, and then custom-fitted to individual housetops.

Another photo shows my husband, Commodore, sanding our lightning dissipater spider. We plan to coat it with prop guard, the same stuff we've used to coat and protect our propeller.

Doesn't our boat look nice with her new Micron 66 bottom paint job, her raised waterline, and her newly painted vivid red topsides?

Our launch date is May 16, the next time the tide will be high enough here at Waipapa Landing. Flashgirl was hauled on January 16, so she will have been in the yard for exactly four months. We'll launch with the boat mostly empty, then stay at Dove's Bay in Kerikeri while reloading the boat. Once she's reassembled, we plan to sail down to Auckland to test all the systems and visit a few friends. Then we'll return to Opua Marina and provision for our departure to Tonga. I'm thinking it will be mid-to-late June by the time we leave New Zealand.

As I write this in early May, yachties are heading north to Tonga and Fiji in droves. There was a cruise rally that left Opua last weekend for Tonga, and Bob McDavitt, the Kiwi weather ambassador, recently gave a South Pacific weather presentation at the Russell Boat Club. I think there are 25 boats leaving for Fiji this week. Perhaps we'll arrive there in the lull between the cruisers leaving here and those arriving from California and Mexico.

Nancy Tompkins
Flashgirl, Wylie 38+
Mill Valley / New Zealand


I was telling the story of auctioning off copies of Latitudes for Heinekens at the Dinghy Dock Bar in Marigot Bay, St. Martin, the other day for the hundredth time, when I just happened to get a current issue of Latitude. Your response to Jim Prevo's letter asking for advice on buying a boat is typical of one of many reasons why your magazine is so valuable. The way you succinctly worked your way through this difficult area - which is fraught with myth, urban legend, insanely strident true believers, and the world's wide-set spectrum of opinion - was not only a joy to read, but full of valuable information.

By complete accident, I started my boat-owning career with one of the recipes you recommended - a washed-up race boat. Specifically, an IOR Santana 525 Quarter Tonner. She served me wonderfully for 10 years.

I would like to suggest that you consider writing a column or a book installment on sailing advice, caveats, great blunders, insights, guidance, moral teaching, good bets, secret weapons, shoal avoidance, relationship counseling, and weather forecasting. Maybe you could get a TV show. Dr. Spindler presents The Sea Was Angry, But We Were Brave! Sailing Through Life and Oceans, Too. I can see it now. Somebody says, "Dr. Spindler, I want a monohull, but my wife favors the new catamarans, and our marriage counselor is into powerboats. What do we do?"

I'm about to start cruising, and I'd love to hear your recommendations from A-Z for getting started. I plan to start my cruise by doing this year's Baja Ha-Ha.

Keep up the great writing, and hold forth for the unlearned. Your advice is very, very valuable.

Dan A. Baker
Lake Havasu, Arizona

Dan - Thanks for the kind words. We're just expressing one person's opinion, not the gospel truth, so don't believe everything you read in this space. Besides, the one thing that we've learned from our 30 years of kicking around boats and waterfronts is that there are usually a number of different ways to do things.

T.V. show? Not interested. Book? Not anytime soon.

Our advice for how to start cruising? 1) Buy a boat that was designed for the ocean and has been well maintained. 2) Learn how to sail the boat really well. Be able to tack, jibe and do a figure-eight by yourself at the drop of a hat. To us, this is one of the keys to being able to really relax and enjoy cruising. 3) Learn the basics of your diesel and charging systems. 4) Go oversize on the anchor and rode. 5) Keep it simple. You can always add stuff later. 6) Be active. In addition to sailing, go on hikes, swim, surf, snorkel, take bus trips, learn about the sea and birdlife, and interact with locals. 7) Monitor your alcohol intake.

By the way, thanks for bringing up Marigot Bay on the French side of St. Martin. It was the site of some of the best cruising debauchery we've ever enjoyed, and the memories are delicious. Long live the Bar de La Mer!


I want to remind all Latitude readers of the annual Marina del Rey to San Diego Race, which will be held July 1-2. This year will be the 39th running of the event, and we're expecting about 75 boats for this 'survive the night' overnighter from as far away as Northern California, Arizona, Nevada and Washington.

This year's event promises to be one of the best ever, as the huge pre-race party for racers, cruisers, and friends will kick off with a BBQ feast of tri tips and chicken - complete with Pusser's Rum Painkillers - at the Santa Monica Windjammers YC on Friday the 30th. The next morning the Order of the Blue Gavel will prepare a pre-race breakfast. The race will finish early Sunday morning in San Diego, where the Southwestern YC will host another great party. July 3 will be the awards breakfast at the same club, with countless trophies and prizes from Pusser's Rum.

On July 4, a flotilla of race participants will head back up the California coast, with planned stops at Mission Bay, Oceanside, Dana Point and finally Isthmus Cove on Catalina Island. The parties continue for a week with events on Catalina Island hosted by Arizona YC.

Because it's often light between Marina del Rey and San Diego, cruisers will have a mandatory three-hour motoring period, with an engine time offset. In addition, the use of autopilots and windvanes will be allowed. Classes will be established using PHRF based Off Wind Course ratings, with divisions for racers, cruisers with spinnakers, cruisers without spinnakers, doublehanders and multihull sailors. Participating boats must be 24 feet or longer, have a minimum waterline length of 20 feet, and be equipped per PHRF Category 2.

All entries received prior to June 19 will be provided complimentary berthing for the week prior to the start of the event. Guests berthing at the Southwestern YC can also be made in advance.

Last year Carl Radusch of the South Coast Corinthian YC took racing honors with his custom 48-ft Sparta, posting an elapsed time of 23 hours and 44 minutes. The San Diego YC-based Speedplay took honors in the J-105 fleet, while the Arizona YC-based Zonnie took honors in the PHRF C fleet. Ray Durand and Gary Green took first in the two cruising classes, with the Catalina 320 Bellezza and the Catalina 380 Green Dragon, respectively.

Because the race usually features light winds and gentle seas, it's considered an ideal event for skippers and crews to get into ocean racing. To join the race and follow the fun, visit

Orlando Duran
Cuba Libre 2
Marina del Rey


In the January Changes, you characterized it as a "miracle" that the Mexican Navy towed Sam Thayer's Hans Christian 33 from Los Frailes to Cabo. I did not realize it at the time, but apparently I witnessed a pretty significant miracle a few years before.

Back in 1997, I was crew for my friends Barry and Ann Graf on their Stevens 40 Abacus. During our trip down the outside of Baja, we stopped in Bahia Santa Maria, where a Mexican navy ship was anchored. Not long after we arrived, a launch from the ship arrived alongside our boat with six armed men. The senior officer asked permission to board and inspect our boat. About 20 minutes later they were all done. All in all, it was pretty painless.

The same cannot be said for our neighbors aboard another cruising sailboat in the anchorage, the name of which I can't remember. The navy launch pulled up to their boat, but after one hour they were still there! Eventually the launch left, but two sailors had been left aboard the boat. Boy, did we think they were in trouble. Over the remainder of the day and into the next morning the launch made several more visits, picking up and dropping off more sailors. It seemed that our neighbors had to be in hot water over something.

Well, it turns out that our neighbors had a serious problem with their rudder. Upon learning of the situation, the Mexican Navy jumped into action. First, they attempted to make the repair. Determining that a part had failed, they took it to their ship and attempted to repair it there. After all of the attempts to fix the rudder failed, the Navy performed their 'miracle' and towed the boat from Bahia Santa Maria to Cabo - a distance of over 150 miles - and at no charge! How's that for service!

I want to be clear in relating this story. I'm not implying that one can assume the Mexican Navy will 'be there' - as we assume the Coast Guard will be while we're sailing in U.S. waters. In general, I believe that all sailors should assume they are on their own when it comes to dealing with problems as they arise. That said, situations do occur where one needs outside help - and as you reported many times, cruisers are certainly a fantastic bunch, especially when one of their own needs help.

I do, however, want to make sure that credit is given where credit is due, and I am sure that the Mexican Navy has offered more than their fair share of assistance to cruisers.

Jamie Rosman
Tardis, Taswell 49

Jamie - Our apologies for not running your letter when you first sent it, as it disappeared into cyberspace for a few months. The Mexican Navy certainly has helped cruisers over the years. Nonetheless theirs has been a very spotty record. Most troubling are those cases where the Mexican Navy has told the U.S. Coast Guard that they will be assuming responsibility for a particular rescue, but don't do it - and worse yet, don't even inform the Coast Guard that they're not going to do it after all. We reported on just such a case in the January issue. The Mexican Navy has done nice things for cruisers, but if our life depended on their coming to our rescue, we wouldn't feel all that confident.


In the April issue, Julie Bassett mentioned that your female readers were interested in pictures of scantily clad men. You corrected her by saying that men are never "scantily clad," but are sometimes "buck-naked." That reminded me of a photo of a sailboat that I have in which the male crew may not be buck-naked, but they are at least butt naked. I'm not sure that this is what Ms. Bassett had in mind - it does show some male 'buns' - but I thought your readers might get a kick out of it anyway.

The boat is The Endeavor, a 50-foot cutter-rigged ferrocement ketch. The owner kept her at Treasure Island - one of the perks of being an old Navy vet. After sailing her around California for years, he reluctantly had to sell her. In order to do that, he thought it would be good to get a photo of her sailing and framed by the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. So he positioned his wife on the dock by Crissy Field with a camera, and sailed by with all of the sails up.

Unfortunately, there were fishermen on the dock who took exception to his sailing so close to the docks - and they let us know how they felt in a loud and colorful manner. My father thought that we had every bit as much right to sail the Bay as they had to fish it, so he took offense to their profanity. So he handed me the helm, and gave the command to come about and show them our bottom paint. My younger brother, who was also aboard, suggested that we should show them our personal bottoms as well. And it was so ordered. All male sailors were ordered on deck - the females were spared. The result is captured in the accompanying photograph, which as unlikely as it might seem, has become something of a family treasure.

P.S. I read Latitude from cover to cover each month.

Robert Vallentyne

Robert - That's an entertaining little tale, but we're not sure Ms. Bassett will be pleased. As best we understand, today's women demand close-ups. However, we're sure she'll appreciate the gesture.


While on a hike at Land's End on the afternoon of May 8, I watched a near-disaster unfold a short distance outside the Golden Gate Bridge. Hearing the constant sounding of a ship's horn, we ran to an open vista to see a sailboat headed toward a tug towing a barge. The horn blasts continued. It was blowing about 25 knots, and it seemed to us that the sailboat wasn't coming around fast enough - and therefore was either headed into the barge or the cable between the tug and the barge.

The sailboat passed between the tug and the barge. To those of us watching from shore, it looked as though the sailboat's mast and sails would be cut down by the cable between the tug and the barge. But apparently the skipper of the tug slowed down, allowing the cable to go slack, which allowed the sailboat to pass over it without being damaged. If that's what indeed happened, it was a case of good seamanship on the part of the tug captain.

As the sailboat continued out to sea, her jib flapping in the wind, another tug rode her ass like a big bull seal, no doubt having a few choice words for the skipper of the sailboat.

John Graham
San Francisco

John - It's inexplicable to us why the skipper of any sailboat would want to be anywhere near a tug and barge, as that combo is even much less maneuverable than a ship. And when you're talking about anywhere in or around the Bay, there are strong winds and currents, not to mention lots of other boat traffic, that the tug captain also has to worry about. It's real simple, if you're on a sailboat and you see a tug and barge - or any other commercial traffic coming - get way the hell out of the way. It's not only easy when you do it early enough, it's required by law.


I have a question for anyone who might be able to help. I have an Ericson 30+ with a deep keel. The boat has too much draft for low tides, keeping me from getting into marinas. So I'd like to either find someone with a shallow-draft keel that we might swap, or information on how to change my keel so it won't be so deep. I was told that you might have recently run an article like that.

Latitude has been a big part of my life since I started reading it several years ago. I did the '95/'96 Baja Ha-Ha with my boat, and have left her in Mexico.

Rich McCracken
Talisman, Ericson 30+
San Carlos

Rich - One solution would be to 'wing it'. Chop off the bottom foot or so of the keel. Then, using that lead - and a bunch more because you'll be reducing the righting moment by ultimately having a more shallow keel - create wings that you would attach to the stump of the keel. It would require making wing molds, heating the lead to molten, shaping the keel, and all that stuff. It sounds like a tremendous amount of potentially dangerous work and expense for very little benefit. According to the specs, an Ericson 30+ doesn't even draw six feet, so we're having trouble figuring out what marinas you can't get into.

In any event, if we were you, we'd leave the boat stock. Then when absolutely necessary, extend the boom with buckets of water at the very end to heel the boat over to momentarily reduce the draft. If that didn't do the trick, we'd skip that marina.


Clipper Cove has always been one of our favorite spots to anchor, as it's unique in the Central Bay in that it's protected from almost all wakes and from all winds except those from the east. And it's scenic. Fortunately, the problem of derelict boats has been much reduced since your articles on the subject earlier in the year. Thank you!

What concerns me are the plans for the marina expansion into Clipper Cove as part of the development of Treasure Island. If the marina is expanded southward into the center of Clipper Cove, it will greatly reduce access to the most scenic and peaceful parts of the anchorage. However, if the marina is expanded eastward along the Treasure Island shoreline, the impact on anchored boats would be minimized. I believe boatowners need to band together to have a voice in how the marina is designed. Representatives of the group could attend design meetings, write key decision-makers, and generally make sure the cruising boaters are represented.

Compared to the San Juans and much of the East Coast, we have few places to anchor, so we need to protect - even increase - them. ?I've been told that such a boater's group was formed in Canada's Gulf Islands, and they have been instrumental in creating many marine parks, with state run mooring buoys, as well as anchorage areas. We chartered there two summers, and were very envious of the wonderful anchoring opportunities.

What are your thoughts on forming such a group?

Martin Thomas
Kokopelli, Sabre 34

Martin - If there are people who have the time and interest to form a boatowners group to, among other things, encourage the development of anchorages and the placing of mooring buoys to better serve the boating public on San Francisco Bay, we think that would be great. But we imagine it would be pretty hard to find people with the free time and expertise to effectively deal with all the different government agencies in order to get something like that done. We imagine it would also cost a small fortune in environmental impact reports.

When it comes to the new marina at Treasure Island, we think the plans have already been approved. As one has to expect, there have been tradeoffs, specifically, the number of permanent berths versus the amount of room that will be left for anchoring. We think the best that can be hoped for is that mooring buoys will be put in to most effectively make use of what space will be left.

It's true that there are more places in the San Juans and the East Coast to anchor than there are on San Francisco Bay, but we should count our blessings. We do have Clipper Cove, Hospital Cove, Belvedere Cove, Richardson Bay, the lee of Angel Island, and the lee of the Tiburon Peninsula to enjoy, not to mention China Camp, the Petaluma and Napa Rivers, and the whole Delta. Plus, we've got one huge thing they don't - reliable summer winds.

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

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