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Okay, I had a nervous breakdown a little while back. My career was fading and my marriage was rocky. I said to myself there is one thing will make this stress go away - at least temporarily - a jaunt out to the Lightbucket aboard my Hobie 20! Just as the thought hit my mind, Jeff, my childhood friend, popped in. I told him to get his wetsuit, gloves and PFD because we were going to go blasting out under the Gate on a Hobie.

He said it sounded interesting, but wanted to know where we were going.

"The Lightbucket," I replied.

"What!?!" he responded. He knew it was 11 miles outside the Gate in the ocean.

One day later we pushed the Hobie off the ramp and headed toward the Gate. Ten knots of wind filled the mainsail, and we were off. As we passed under the Gate, the sounds of the cars and trucks above were eerie. We flew over the Pacific rollers, hulls coming out of the water, landing hard, with spray everywhere. I couldn't have been further from my worries.

But as we flew past Mile Rock and toward Land's End, my stomach got a little queasy. The wind was now closer to 25 knots, the seas were easily eight feet and I debated turning back. Just then, the skipper of an Ericson 29 stared at us in awe. There it was, the reassurance we needed to push on.

Jeff, who was on the wire and starting to grin from ear to ear, laughed at the situation. Positioning myself as far aft as possible, and easing the mainsheet way out, I knew it was time to head back or face the consequences. As we tacked downwind, the Hobie took off like a bat out of hell - surfing at speeds over 25 knots. The hulls were making a humming noise that only Hobie sailors can appreciate. We both positioned ourselves so far aft that the tiller was in front of me.

Shortly after sailing under the bridge, we beached the Hobie at Crissy Field. Jeff and I looked at each other and couldn't help but laugh.

As I drove home that evening, I remembered why I have that shitty job and why I work so hard - to pay for the fun of banging around on the Bay and ocean, which is my true passion. As for my marriage, once we get a bigger boat my wife will be fine. Floating around Raccoon Strait, sipping wine off Angel Island, or heading back from Sam's, she'll get the passion, her own passion, for sailing. It might be a different passion than mine, but being on the water, whatever the reason, is a must.

San Francisco Bay

D.H. - We don't want to sound like a kill-joy or an old crank, but taking a Hobie outside the Gate in high winds and big seas in order to assuage one's anger and frustration is pretty risky business. It's certainly not something we'd recommend to others - unless they had a suitable chase boat.

As for buying a larger boat being the solution to your marital problems, we hope it's that simple for you.

We wish you nothing but the best of luck with your job and marriage, and think that sailing is a great way to recreate and relax, but don't fool yourself, it's not going to be the solution to your problems.


We were disheartened to read in 'Lectronic that Dennis and Leslie Downing lost their Islander Freeport 41 Christabella on the coast of Mexico off Punta Colonette. Despite our sincerest condolences, we're not so choked up as to want to allow them to get a new boat and butt into the coveted 'first on the list' for the Baja Ha-Ha this fall. As many readers will remember, the Ha-Ha Honcho and the Grand Poobah have already agreed - based on our mutual love of sushi and lust for cruising - that our Pacific Wind should be the first entry in Ha-Ha 14.

However, should there be a challenge to our number one position, we feel there should be a competition. We suggest that there either be: 1) A burp-off between Lori and representatives of any other boats, or 2) A match race between Pacific Wind and other boats that might want the slot. I pity anyone who thinks they can out-burp Lori, as she's the best. But let them try.

By the way, we had a wonderful, wonderful time on the Ha-Ha this year crewing on another boat.

Steve & Lori Dana
Pacific Wind, Sceptre 43
Mill Valley

Steve and Lori - Our condolences to the Downings also. We hope they are able to find a replacement boat soon. As you state, the Ha-Ha Honcho and Grand Poobah have already given you the number one position for this fall's Ha-Ha. However, a burp-off - say at the Strictly Sail Pacific Ha-Ha Seminar - sounds so entertaining, in a gross way, that we're willing to accept challengers.

By the way, we realize that a segment of the readership has pretty much had their fill of the Ha-Ha for the year, so we've placed all other letters with that as a subject at the end of this month's Letters.


A bit of a clarification/observation on the subject of sales and use tax on boats as discussed in the November issue. Under California law, citizens and non-citizens of the state are treated differently for use-tax purposes. With some minor exceptions - such as weather making it unsafe to be at sea, and so forth - a California citizen has to keep a boat - or airplane - out of the state for the first 12 months of ownership before she can be brought back into the state without any taxes owed. However, a non-California resident only has to keep a boat out of the state for six of the first 12 months, and can use her in California for the allowable portion of the first 12 months. But remember, it's the 'intent' that counts. You still have to have the intention of using the boat - not just parking it there - out of the state for the period, and should keep receipts, plane tickets, and so forth to document the use of the boat.

Reggie 'the Tax Man' is partially correct in that, for a non-California resident, their LLC would only have to have the boat out of California for six out of the first 12 months. The tax is a 'use' tax, not sales tax, so I guess the state figures if you buy a boat to use her here, they want their pound of flesh.

Reggie's out-of-state LLC approach might work - except for one little hitch. Apparently every marina is required, twice a year, to send the state a list of all vessels in their marina. It seems like it may not be so much that the taxman is all seeing, but that they have forced marina operators to be their snitches.

One good thing that my tax accountant told me many years ago is that the law allows you to minimize the taxes you pay, but not dodge them. One will get you into an argument with a bureaucrat, the other could land you in jail. Besides, Mexico is a pretty cool place to hang out with a boat. The money you save in use taxes pays for a lot of airline tickets and margaritas.

Name Withheld By Request
Southern California

Readers - It goes without saying that opinions expressed about tax law in the Letters section are just that, and should not be relied on as professional advice.


I enjoyed Max Ebb's October article on waves and the ebb tide. However, the formation of a river plume, an important process that can be a major cause of breaking waves on an ebb tide, was not mentioned. On an ebb flow, the warmer, less saline - and thus less dense - water flows over the colder sea water as it moves toward the Golden Gate. This plume is often seen as a brown patch with a very distinct boundary on the water surface. There is often also a distinct boundary under the plume. The forces of water movement generate 'internal' waves in this light-heavy water surface, and these internal waves destabilize the air-water surface, causing breaking waves.

When looking out over the area of the Point Stuart Shoal - mentioned in the Max Ebb article - you often see patches of breaking waves on top of the river plume. As an example of a distinct plume see

Michael Konrad
Northern California


I saw the photos in Latitude 38 of the dinghy going vertical in the surf. Great shot! While my photograph doesn't compare, the side view is pretty interesting, as it shows how a crew can get drenched by even the face of a small breaking wave.

Rob Sicade
Yohelah, Baba 40
Seattle / Ensenada de los Muertos

Rob - Your photo perfectly illustrates the concept of how a small wave - even without an ebb flow - can create a big splash. We don't mean to be critical, but it appears that, for whatever reason, the crew was neither quick nor timely enough to make it out in the 10 seconds or so between waves. Time, tide - and waves - wait for no man or woman.


First, I would throw a cat overboard - not literally - before I'd get rid of a dog. More seriously, it was sad to hear that it came down to the couple having to choose between their two handsome shepherds, on the one hand, and their dream of cruising on their Freeport 36 on the other.

I can understand the choice they made, but non-dog people may be unaware of vast differences between breeds and the great amount of 'hard-wiring' in a breed. It was not surprising to read about the shepherds' behavior at sea: standing, legs planted apart, heavy panting, etc. After all, they are shepherds. Put them in a field with some sheep, and get out of the way! They may swim after a tennis ball for you, but it's not their favorite thing to do.

In comparison, a Lab or Portuguese water dog often has to be restrained to keep him/her out of the Bay, ocean, lake, river, puddle or bathtub. The first thing my Lab does at the Bay or beach is dive in - and the colder and rougher the better. When sailing, she is sure-footed onboard but, if not watched, might jump in for a swim. Fortunately, a little training can solve this problem. Dog overboard drills really sharpen the seamanship! You might recall that this breed was developed to help fishermen on the very cold North Atlantic, to swim from one boat to another, to help retrieve nets and such. Porkies are similarly bred.

Shepherds are great dogs and always try hard to please, but the pasture is where they shine. No wonder that, at the British dog shows, the group is called the 'pastoral breeds'.

And to Mark, Liesbet, Darwin and Kali - good luck and happy motoring.

Peter Fowler
Oakland & Richmond YCs


My Scandinavian ancestry drives me to own a sailboat. But I'm retired and, unfortunately, most of my boat money was lost to dot-com stocks a few years back. As such, the big, new, shiny yacht is out of the question.

I'm now thinking of buying an older boat, say '75 to early '89, about 31 feet long, that is priced somewhere between $25,000 and $65,000. Can you please give me an estimate of what it would cost to have such a boat professionally restored to a safe and appealing condition?

William 'Viking On The Beach' Andersen
Northern California

Viking - Professional boat restorations cost a fortune, so we recommend that you avoid boats that are that far gone. What you should be looking for instead is a boat that was lightly used and has been well maintained over the years. They are around, and you should be able to find a very nice 31-footer in your price range. But remember, the year in which a boat was built is nowhere near as important as how well she was built and/or maintained. Good luck.


I'm not familiar with the laws pertaining to the disposal of abandoned boats, but I would think that after sufficient time - say six months - something like registration information, serial numbers and so forth might provide a way for getting in touch with the owner to get him/her to do something about the boat. If they couldn't be contacted, or the owner refuses to pay for the storage or disposal of the vessel, the vessel should be auctioned off, used for temporary housing, or stripped of everything of value or danger to the environment, and sunk where a man-made reef is needed.

If I lived closer to Northern California - say Texas or Southern California - I'd be interested in taking unwanted or abandoned boats off people's hands. A marine junk yard might be a good business.

Les Stafford
Northeast Ohio

Les - Since cars abandoned along public highways and freeways are swiftly removed and, if not claimed after a reasonably short amount of time, auctioned off or destroyed, you'd assume the same would be true with abandoned boats. Alas, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, some of the biggest headaches tormenting harbormasters up and down the coast are getting rid of abandoned and/or derelict boats. Why the laws can't be changed to speed up the process has always been a mystery to us.

Such vessels are completely unsuitable for temporary housing, as in most cases it would cost a fortune to make them habitable. And even if restored, not even poor people would want to live in them. In addition, who would pay the considerable bills for berthing, insurance and maintenance?

The more you know about boats, the less you'd be interested in taking possession of the typical abandoned boat. Almost all of them would require many thousands of dollars to bring them back to even minimally usable conditions, at which point the market value of the boat would still probably be a fraction of what you invested in them. Indeed, unless you know what you're doing, one of the worst things you can do is accept the 'gift' of a free boat.


Sorry to bother you, but I figured if anyone was to give me a hope of identifying the kind of boat depicted in the accompanying photo, it would be someone from Latitude 38. I've been looking for a new boat, and this one caught my eye. I saved the picture to my computer, but then there was a power failure, and I couldn't find the ad again.

By the way, I've heard that it can be a difficult trip bringing a boat like the one in the photo north from California to Vancouver. Is that true?

P.S. I enjoy your magazine so much - although all the photos of the palm trees are a bit hard on me during the Canadian winter.

David A. Brooks, MD
Summerland, British Columbia

David - The boat in the photo is a Santana 30/30 that was designed by Nelson-Marek and built by W.D. Schock Corporation of Corona. They are a relatively popular boat in Southern California. Google 'Santana 30/30' and you'll get all the information you want. We think a 30/30 would be a terrific boat for British Columbian waters, as she was built lightly and given a large sail plan for the waters of Southern California. But unlike other 30-footers, such as the Olson 30, the 30/30 has more accommodations and an inboard engine, which makes them more cruiser friendly.

Sailing north from California to Vancouver is often a very difficult trip because it's against the prevailing wind and seas, and because those winds and seas are often very strong. You'd almost certainly be big bucks ahead by trailering the boat or having her trucked north.

We're sorry about all photos of the palm trees and other evidence of warmth in the tropics, but we feel it's necessary to give folks in the dark north a ray of hope that somewhere it really is quite warm in winter. Some of your colleagues claim it's a cure for - not a cause of - depression.


Do you know of any sailboat experts in the Stockton area? I'm asking because I was out on the river watching my two boys going through their crewing/rowing practice near Rough & Ready Island, and I saw a two-masted sailboat that looked as though she could be between 50 and 70 feet. Does anybody know what make and manufacture she is, and what year she was built? I'd be most grateful for the information. Sorry for the grainy photo, but my camera phone was all that I happened to have at the time.

Elton Hartzler
Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Elton - We can't identify the schooner from the grainy photo, but we're certain that some of our readers - such as Tig Low, Jerry Burns, Merl Petersen or Peggy McDonald - will have an answer in time for the next issue.


Several years ago I wrote a letter to Latitude 38 about Tig Low (or Loe) being my skipper on the delivery of the 50-ft motorsailer Manawanui from Tahiti to Nassau in 1959, and what a vintage year it had been for being in Papeete. Well, on the weekend of November 29 - December 3, five of us from those old days of sailing in the South Pacific got together at my home in Bel Marin Keys. They were:

· Jerry Burns, who was the photographer on Sterling Hayden's great 100-ft schooner Wanderer, and who left Tahiti on the Reposado for points east.

· Charles Ehlert, on the Babboon out of Acapulco.

· Ray Mead, who had the pleasure of spending a few days in the bastille in Papeete for having spent some time in the Tuamotus without benefit of a passport. He later left on the Westward Ho! and later returned to Tahiti on the Wild Goose - at which time he was advised to find other ports.

· Warwick Davies, who arrived on the Crusader and left with me as crew for Tig on the Manawanui.

· And me, Howard Kanter. I'd come down from Honolulu aboard Tahiti, which was a Tahiti ketch.

I thought it would be a good time to have a gathering of the clan, as Warwick was passing through the Bay Area on his way home to New Zealand from a business trip to Scotland. Charlie Ehlert came down from Seattle, Jerry Burns from Texas, and Ray Mead from Florida. To say that the stories told were wonderful - and unembellished, of course - would be an understatement.

The point of this letter is to maybe shake a few of our old shipmates out of the rigging. For example, Bill Lemon, the first mate on the Babboon, anyone from the Wanderer and, of course, Tig. If any of your readers know any of these people or can give us a lead as to their whereabouts, please contact me via email.

A few of the others from that period we'd like to find are Hank Taft from the Blue Sea, who later became Executive Director of Outward Bound, and Nipper Riddell, skipper of the 50-ft Canadian yawl Romayne.

Those days were a long time ago, of course, and many of the figures from those glory days - such as Hayden and Spike Africa from the Wanderer, and Taffy Sceva and John Karlmark from the Ho! - have passed on. But at least five of us are still around, and I'm sure there are others. We'd like to find them. By the way, just before we broke up, we managed to located Russ Nyborg of the Wanderer, who now lives in Ukiah.

Howard Kanter
Bel Marin Keys


While on your Web site I stumbled across the Letters, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that Merl Petersen is still around and kicking! I live in Fresno now and really need to make the trek north to see my old mentor and his 75-ft schooner Viveka.

I crewed on Viveka for several years before she left Sausalito for Hawaii. We were even aboard Viveka when she participated in the first Tiburon Regatta. It wasn't like today's races, because we had an all-girl crew and battled with cannons. Merl liked it that way. And we 'fought' an all-boy crew aboard the schooner Shearwater, which was owned by the Kingston Trio, one of the most popular musical groups of the era. At one point 'Pete' put a whole can of black powder down the barrel of the cannon. It blew so hard that it ripped a cleat right off the deck - and Viveka had big cleats. I even have some photos of Viveka sailing with the city of San Francisco in the background, and, to show you how long ago it was, Coit Tower was the tallest building. What a laugh!

Merl taught me a lot about life, and the schooner Viveka taught me how to love the earth we're on. Pete deserved to be 'President of the Pacific Ocean' following the death of Spike Africa.

P.S. As soon as I can figure out how to get to her, I'm coming home to Viveka. I can be reached via email for directions.

Peggy (MacDonald) Lake

Peggy - We want to know if you were with Merl when he and his friends took an elephant - we've seen the pictures from the newspapers - water-skiing on San Francisco Bay. You don't see those kinds of hijinks on the Bay much anymore.

If you've been out of touch for awhile, Petersen moved to Hawaii for a number of years, where Viveka fell into considerable disrepair. When Merl announced that he was going to refit her and sail her around the world, there was a marina full of skeptics. But son-of-a-gun if he didn't do both, as we recall, taking seven years to circle the globe.


I just devoured the latest issue of Latitude 38 - my favorite magazine - and the section concerning infants at sea jogged my memory. I've enclosed some photos of Lindsay Fagan, daughter of Brian Fagan and Judy Fontana - and my granddaughter. They were taken on the occasion of a two-week cruise in the Bahamas aboard the Valiant 40 Catticus. Lindsay was six months old at the time and was an enthusiastic sailor with a cast iron stomach.

Another photo shows Lindsay, who lives in San Francisco, as she is today. Her mother, now retired, is at sea with Phil Holland, her second husband. They are aboard Fetching Light, a Hylas 46, and are en route to New Zealand via Ecuador.

Fetching Light made her maiden voyage in the '03 Baja Ha-Ha with me aboard. I had the dubious honor of being the oldest crew person in the fleet.

Ralph Fontana


Based on reading recent Latitudes and 'Lectronics, it seems that there are more disaster stories than ever involving folks who are new to the cruising lifestyle. Is this really the case, or do we just hear more about them because the Internet has made the reporting of such incidents so much easier? Or have people, with GPS units held close to their chests, just become more adventurous than before? We're also curious how great a part the lack of experience plays. Just as your Gov. Arnie was warned, "The bullets are real out there."

It would be great if a survey blog was put together so would-be cruisers could learn about the experiences of those that have gone before, and thus learn firsthand the pleasures who pitfalls of the cruising lifestyle.

Mike & Mizuzu Wilson
Tortue, S&S 44

Mike and Mizuzu - We don't have any hard numbers with which to back it up, but our impression is that, in absolute terms, there are more boats lost these days than 25 years ago, but not in relative terms. The difference is that there are so many more people out cruising now than there were a quarter of a century ago. Back in the early '80s you didn't see 160-boat fleets sailing from San Diego to Cabo, and a circumnavigation was something special. By now, hundreds of folks from the West Coast have completed circumnavigations, some in boats as small as 12 feet, and some on poverty-level budgets.

It's also true that people of all ages are more adventurous than they were in previous generations. Younger folks with little or no sailing experience think nothing of buying a boat and setting off around the world. For example, when we were coming through the Canal in the spring of '04, we crossed paths with Pat and Ali Schulte of Chicago. The young couple had made a bit of money in the commodities markets or somewhere, and decided to sail around the world. Because it was so hot and humid in Miami on the weekend they'd set aside for boat-shopping, they spent all of about three hours looking at boats before settling on a Wildcat 35 catamaran. And it wasn't until they were halfway across the Pacific that they discovered that their winches actually had both high and low gears. You might laugh, but they've been out since '03 and are now crossing the Atlantic to complete their circumnavigation. There are lots of folks like them who are learning as they go.

And let's not forget the rise in the senior citizen population. Thanks to greater conveniences on boats, and people with a passion for more active retirements, it's not that rare to see couples in their 70s and even 80s out cruising.

The thing that surprises us is the percentage of boats that are lost by people who have considerable sailing and/or offshore experience. The Nordhavn 62 Charlotte B lost on the rocks near Mag Bay was under the command of an extremely experienced captain. Bob Willman had been cruising his Islander 37 Viva! for many years before she was lost at Isla Providencia. The Barletts had made two trips to Acapulco and back and then to the Caribbean before they lost their 470 Starlet in the Western Caribbean. Axel Heller was a very experienced sailor when he lost his Newport 30 Sea Ya in La Paz Bay. Martin and Robin Hardy had tons of experience with their 52-ft trawler Cat's Meow before they badly damaged her on the rocks in the Sea of Cortez. Bear Myers had a long career of sailing before he lost his Catalina 42 Bingo Again! near Cabo Corrientes. The list goes on and on. In most - but not all - of these cases, the skippers would be the first to admit that the cause of the loss was human error - although not necessarily their own - and would want others to learn from their misfortune. And don't put us on any pedestal, not after we T-boned the Carquinez Bridge with our Ocean 71 Big O.

So many sailors seem to want to blame lack of experience for the causes of maritime disasters, but, based on what we know, it's just one of many causes - and not a very big one at that.

There is no doubt that today's wickedly improved communication capabilities have dramatically changed the amount of information we receive about boats being lost and how quickly we get it. For the first 20 years we published Latitude 38, it was so unusual to get a report from a cruiser outside of U.S. waters that we collected the stamps. Thanks to the Internet, it's now possible to get thousands of such reports - with photos - in a fraction of a second from anywhere in the world. As such, if a boat with West Coast connections is lost, we tend to hear about it quickly. In the old days, we might not hear about it for months - if at all.

At times it may not seem like it, but we think the average person going cruising these days is much more prepared, competent - and sober - than the average person who took off cruising 25 years ago.


Petaluma has been, and continues to be, a preferred 'destination' for Bay Area boaters. City-owned docks in the Turning Basin, located in the heart of the city, offer berthing within walking distance of excellent restaurants, quaint shopping, a museum, music venues and movie theaters. Additionally, the Petaluma YC, located within the turning basin, hosts individual boaters and/or multiple boat cruise-ins by other PICYA clubs.

Over the last two years, Petaluma has completed numerous redevelopment improvements that have attracted more visitors. In anticipation of larger crowds of boaters and pedestrians alike in the area of the Turning Basin, the Petaluma YC began collaborating with the City of Petaluma to improve facilities and security in and around the Turning Basin. Early this year, a city department reorganization took some of the wind out of the sails of our collaborative effort and motivated us to take action to regain momentum. To that end, in June of this year, Petaluma YC organized a team to work with city officials to improve the environment for visitors in the area. As a result, our city officials have committed to achieving improved safety and security for the benefit of all. These commitments include:

1) Post signage restricting access to the docks; 2) Install gates to control access to the docks; 3) Improve lighting on the docks; 4) Create a controlled method of registration for incoming boats; 5) Dredge the basin.

The improvements are underway or are in the development process, and we are confident our ongoing efforts with city officials will result in their commitments being in place in the near future. The historic 'Petaluma jewel' is continually being polished for the purpose of welcoming boaters to this gem of a location. With literally hundreds of boaters visiting our city each year, we are proud of being able to offer a safe and pleasant atmosphere and cordial hospitality.

P.S. I'm a longtime sailor - 30 years in Southern California and 20 years on San Francisco Bay and Delta with my Catalina 30 - and I have enjoyed Latitude 38 for a long time. In fact, my wife Linda and I are so dedicated to the magazine that I managed to have copies sent to us for the five years we lived in Sweden and sailed the Swedish Archipelago. I can also guarantee you that the members of Petaluma YC enjoy every issue of Latitude.

Tom Corbett, Commodore
Petaluma YC

Tom - Thanks for the very kind words. Petaluma really is a gem, so on behalf of all mariners in Northern California, thanks for your efforts, and those of the yacht club, to make it an even better place to visit.


Spearfishing during a cruise on a sailboat is good recreation. And seafood rarely gets any fresher than eating what you've taken that day.

However, it's the "eating" part of the report from the guy who wrote in to say he'd "bagged" 12 fish in one dive at Catalina Island that I found so potentially disturbing. Hopefully he bagged the bat ray, angel shark, flounder and stingray with a camera, not a speargun.

Bat ray, stingray, flounder, angel shark - none of these are desirable game fish to kill and eat. Spearing these animals is a waste. All have a place in the food chain, and are important. It would be a disaster if the large numbers of people who visit Catalina Island engaged in such depravations.

I could easily beat the guy's "12 fish in one dive" score. Sometimes I've taken one fish while using my extremely small 45 cu. in. dive tank and 48-inch speargun. One prized game fish of legal size, to be eaten on the back of the boat less than two hours from the time it was taken.

I have also taken four calico (kelp bass) in one dive at Catalina. That can't be done every day with such an alert fish. These calico were 14, 15, 16 and 18 inches long. The spot will remain unnamed, but since I am boatless now, I could be convinced to show the spot in exchange for a place on a boat going over.

The 45 cu. in. tank is much easier to handle from a dinghy, with all the lifting and contortions that are part of diving from a sailboat. I gave up using an 80 cu. in. tank after my first dive trip off my sailboat.

The game fish to spear around Catalina Island include calico, sheephead, halibut, yellowtail and white sea bass. There are designated seasons and/or lengths and maximum daily and possession limits. These species are the best game fish to go after with a speargun at Catalina.

Spearfishing is a great sport, so let's not give it a bad name, nor destroy the environment we enjoy.

Matthew Nelson
Long Beach

Matthew - We also hoped he shot the fish with a camera, because fish are too beautiful to kill unless you're going to eat them. We were down in Mexico last month and got to watch a bunch of small rays - maybe 18 inches across - play around in the little waves lapping on the shore. They were cuter than puppies.


My girlfriend and I will be taking a holiday to the Yucatán coast of Mexico in April, and would like to charter a sailboat for a week. It should be a boat that would be easy for the two of us to sail. I possess the Boat Skipper B license for vessels up to 30 tons in Croatia, and have sailed over 500 miles with various sailing schools in the Med. It would be very nice if you could advise us of the companies that charter bareboats in Mexico. Thank you, and best wishes from Austria.

Christian Köhler

Christian - To the best of our knowledge, the only significant term charter operation in Mexico is The Moorings base in La Paz on the Sea of Cortez. We don't know of any on the Caribbean side. However, if you're going on a month-long holiday, you could easily spend three weeks in the Yucatán and still have time for a week in the Sea of Cortez which, by the way, is about as different from Austria as one could imagine. Just don't go to places like San Evaristo and expect to find Cancun-type bars with American girls dancing half-naked on the tables.

By the way, we're sorry to hear about the lack of snow in Austria - and the rest of Europe - this winter. From what we understand, snow tourism is a major engine of the Austrian economy.


I'm writing in response to your editorial response to Peggy Hammer's complaints about her charter experience in the British Virgins. Normally, I feel that your editorial staff successfully negotiates its way through the treacherous waters of political correctness, and tries to see both sides of an issue. However, in this instance I think that you were way off base.

Severely leaking water tanks, no bilge handles, and no refrigeration shows a lack of professionalism on the part of the charter company - especially when promises are made to rectify the situation. Obviously there was a lack of internal communication, or perhaps the charter boat operator just didn't care. I run a service business, and we try hard not to make promises to customers that we either cannot or will not keep.

Your response sounded like that famous Caribbean Reggae tune Don't Worry Be Happy. I think it's a load of holding tank material.

Steve Hunter

Steve - We appreciate you sharing your point of view. We realize that a lot of people expect all service industries to be similar, and therefore charter boats to be as perfect as the very best rental cars. But that's just not going to be the case for a number of reasons. For one thing, charter boats have to operate in a much more harsh environment than cars, and it's much more difficult to get replacement parts and services in the relatively remote areas in which charterboats generally operate. But the most significant difference is that people who rent cars are usually relatively capable of operating the cars and systems reasonably well. This is not the case with charterboats, which tend to be very different, and are often chartered/operated by groups of people who, at best, just aren't familiar with the model and systems and, at worst, not only have no idea what they are doing but are smashed. As such, charter boats are subject to much greater abuse than rental cars.

The fact that charterboat fleets are tiny compared to rental car fleets is another factor. We once chartered a nice Dehler 36 in Greece, but while at Mykonos lost the bottom 15 inches of the rudder when some Germans untied the boat to get out of the Med-tie against the rocks - they neglected to secure our boat when they left. Had it been a Hertz car, we would have immediately been given a replacement. As it was, we had to spend the next 10 days sailing with a partial rudder that hummed at anything over four knots. Nevertheless, we still had a great time.

We're not defending businesses that don't make an effort, but we caution charterers to have realistic expectations.


With regard to the couple who did a charter in the Caribbean and were upset by the minor problems they experienced while chartering, people need to realize that every boat floating - and on the hard - has a checklist of future repairs. Indeed, brand new America's Cup boats have huge storage sheds with machine shops with which to fabricate fixes to problems.

Had I been on the charter in question, my response to leaking water tanks would be that it's better than leaking fuel tanks. Window screens missing? Close the windows. Pump handle missing? Use the electric bilge pumps. It also sounded as though there was a lot of access to the charter company, which is a lot better than being days away at sea.

Gregory Clausen
San Francisco


After getting the ASA courses from Tradewinds Sailing School under my belt, I've managed four charterboat trips to the Caribbean and one trip to Greece since January '03. Except for this last trip to Guadeloupe with Sunsail, I've always had some problems with the charter boats. By the way, I've used a different charter company for each trip.

Our charter in Greece was the worst. It cost us perhaps 1.5 to 2 days out of the two-week charter due to problems - although I can think of worse things than having to spend an extra day on Santorini. That charter was with a major charter company, and we had a lot of electrical problems. At some point they replaced the main battery bank, and later the alternator, but we were still having problems by the end of the trip. A couple of times we had to raise anchor manually, and naturally the electrical fridge frequently didn't work. At one point our steering froze - which was interesting, but I was able to diagnose the problem and fix it.

We started our charter from one of the company's smaller bases, and the guy who ran it managed boats for two or three different companies. Overall, it was quite a hassle. But you go with the flow and keep the ouzo flowing. In spite of it all, we had a great time, and I'd go back in a second. In fact, I'd use the same company again in the Med because they have bases everywhere, and they also offer a liberal one-way charter policy.

I have a trailer boat which I try to use on the Bay as frequently as possible, but for those of us who have to work, chartering is a great way to see the world and really enjoy sailing!

Dennis Hoey


As comedian Rodney Dangerfield used to say, "We don't get no respect." What do you guys at Latitude have against us? The latest insult came as a result of Latitude incorrectly reporting that Bloom County won the OYRA (Ocean Yacht Racing Association) season. But, in fact, Andiamo is the 2006 OYRA season champion.

This comes on the heels of being completely ignored by Latitude last year after winning the Santa Cruz 27 One Design Championship.

The following are just a few of our other accomplishments:

'99 - Spinnaker Cup to Monterey, 1st in division

'00 - Santa Cruz Nationals, Best Family Boat

'01 - Singlehanded Farallones, 1st in division

'01 - Coastal Cup to Ventura, 1st in division

'02 - Vallejo Race, 1st in division

'02 - W.M. Pacific Cup to Hawaii, 4th in Doublehanded, 14th overall

'03 - Spinnaker Cup to Monterey, 1st in division

'03 - Coastal Cup to Santa Barbara, 1st in division

'04 - Windjammers to Santa Cruz, 1st in division

'05 - Stone Cup, 1st in division (four races)

'05 - Santa Cruz Spring One Design, 1st place (five races)

'05 - SC 27 National Champions at Columbia River Gorge, winning five firsts in 12 races

'05 - Singlehanded Farallones, 1st in division

'05 - Santa Cruz Fall One Design, 2nd

'05 - Windjammers to Santa Cruz, second in division

'06 - OYRA Drake's Bay Race, 1st in division both days

'06 - OYRA Southern Cross, 1st in division

Hopefully the new owner of Andiamo will continue the winning tradition of this great boat.

We hate to toot our own horn, but if we don't, no one else will. Perhaps we should do the Baja Ha-Ha if we want to get some ink.

Dan Simonsen, Crew
Andiamo, SC 27, OYRA Season Champs

Dan - We're indeed sorry about the mistake, but we get all the results from the YRA (Yacht Racing Association) office, and unfortunately they made two mistakes this year. The scoring can apparently get a little confusing because not all fleets count all the same races toward their season championships. Having been notified of the two errors by YRA, we're making amends in this month's Season's Champions feature. And don't feel bad about tooting your own horn a little, you guys deserve it.


In the November issue there was a letter about using baby wipes for field expedient showers. I've been using them for over 20 years when traveling and camping, but to me the drawback is the perfumy smell. It's not too bad at first, but after awhile I can't stand it. Plus, it really stops up my nose.

A solution is available in the form of the Wet Ones brand, which simply have a lemony scent. I've even used Wet Ones to 'wash' my hair. It didn't work great, but it was better than nothing. They are pretty powerful, too. Once I tracked fresh bearing grease - the smelly, black kind - into my camper. The Wet Ones cleaned it up with ease, just dissolving the stuff.

Wet Ones comes in a cyclindrical container that does a good job of keeping them moist. In fact, I've had some containers for several years, and they were still damp when I pulled them out.

P.S. I'm a Southern California beach boy who got squeezed out down there and came to Puget Sound to check out the far north. You know the way people in California talk about traveling down to Mexico? Well, up here they all talk about visiting Alaska. What's more, I've contacted some hotties who love to go fishing - I mean really love it, as in don't mind cleaning the fish.

Kitsap Karl
Ex-Southern California

Kitsap - For us, two of the biggest mysteries in life are how they keep baby wipes - no matter if they are perfumed or lemon-scented - from drying out in the container, and why anybody would want to go where the ocean is cold. Last month we were fortunate enough to be able to do some sailing, swimming and surfing in Mexico where the water was a little over 80 degrees. It was almost unbearably wonderful.


A big hello from the South Pacific! I've just come across your Web site, and have been enjoying the Letters to the editor - and especially the editor's comments.

I gather from a number of letters - such as Dangerous Carb Fuel Jugs - that some new type of refuelling container appears to have become mandatory in California, and that they've been causing a lot of trouble with fuel spills and other problems.

I learned of a new type of fuel can from a boatie in Australia, but have never seen another on the water. We bought ours in Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia, 10 years ago. It is a jerry can that was designed for members of the logging industry to be able to safely refuel their chain saws in the forest without spillage or consequent risk of fire.

The plastic jerry jug sells under the name Smart Fuel Fill Can, holds 10 liters, and is manufactured by Briggs & Stratton. It has a spout that must be armed - by rotating its collar a 1/4 turn until it clicks, which appears to wind up a spring - before it's used. No fuel can escape until this is done, even if the can is upside down. The can still won't allow fuel to escape after it is armed until the spring-loaded collar on the nozzle is depressed against the spring. This normally only occurs when the nozzle is poked inside the receiving vessel and the opening of the receiving tank is allowed to press on the collar. Once the collar is depressed, fuel flows till either the container is empty or the fuel level rises in the tank to cover the spout - at which point the spring-loaded collar snaps back to the unarmed position and the flow is cut off. Brilliant!

I have never spilled a drop with this system and, because no funnel is needed, an outboard with integral tank is simple to refuel even in a chop. You just open the tank, insert the pre-armed nozzle, and allow the weight of the container to rest on the top of the tank, which presses the nozzle's collar against the tank opening. There is no problem with overfilling, as the flow automatically ceases when the tank is almost full and the spout becomes immersed.

The only drawback with this container is that the spout protrudes at a 45 degree angle up from the shoulder of the tank, and it appears in danger of being broken off. It is quite substantial however, and mine has never come to any harm.

Sandy Squire
P'zazz, S cat
South Pacific

Sandy - A number of years ago the California Air Resources Board (CARB), in its infinite wisdom, mandated that only new CARB-approved fuel jugs be allowed to be sold in California. The only problem with that has been that, as even the CARB folks admit, the CARB jugs seems to cause, rather than prevent, spills, and thus, in many cases, are even worse for the environment - and more dangerous - than the old ones.

Briggs & Stratton, which makes the Smart-Fill Fuel Can, is a grand old American company. According to those who have used the Smart Fill, they have many positive features: fill outdoor power equipment without spilling, are clean and convenient to use; automatically shut off when the tank is full; reduce the release of gas vapors that are harmful to the environment; and are durable.

There's just one downside to the product. It's illegal for the cans to be sold in or even shipped to California. For folks who don't live in California, it might seem insane that only jerry jugs that are bad for the environment are legal, while anybody using the ones that are good for the environment would be breaking the law. But once you live here for awhile, you understand that such things are par for the course.


While looking at the November issue photo of Joe Slagle spraying paint on Profligate, I hoped he wasn't spraying Awlgrip, because he wasn't wearing an active respirator. It's my understanding that without an active respirator, Awlgrip does nasty things - like glue your alveoli shut.

Does the manufacturer warn about this just because of legal liability? Do pros spray with nothing more than an organic respirator - such as it appears Joe was wearing?

P.S. I love the new eBook version of Latitude 38, as it makes my 14-hour flights a lot more bearable.

Bill Quigley
Columbus, Ohio

Bill - Slagle was shooting our cat with Awlgrip - at least we think it was that and not some water-based latex paint from Home Depot - so we hope he was using the proper respirator. There are, of course, different kinds of air filters and respirators for different purposes, so if anybody is doing work on their boat, it's critical that they get the right one for the job.

We'd always thought alveoli was a basil-heavy pasta sauce popular in Northern Italy, but having looked it up, we now know they are the tiny sacs in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide take place. If they get destroyed, so does your life. So get the right respirator!

Slagle did a wonderful job of painting Profligate, but not two months later, thanks to operator error - our operator error - she got a two-ft-long scratch down by the waterline. We were so grief-stricken that we couldn't figure out whether to be depressed or angry - so we were both. It reminded us of a time at Gorda Sound in the British Virgins many years ago, right after we'd had the topsides of our Ocean 71 Big O painted. Having misread the depthsounder, one of our crew didn't put out enough scope, so the ketch dragged when a major squall came through while we were ashore. She dragged right along the bow of a pointed and metal-tipped C&C 41, resulting in 50 feet of Big O's port hull getting wildly scratched. Awwwwww!!!!!

When we mentioned this incident to Brad Avery of the School of Seamanship at Orange Coast College, he laughed and explained that they were typical examples of "new paint karma." In other words, as soon as you paint your boat, she's going to get the worst scratch she's seen in years.

Has this ever happened to you?


I just read Latitude's response to Patrick Turner's question on how to make sure the water is good on boats. Buying bottled water, as Latitude suggested, makes as much sense to me as paying for the wind. I'd like to suggest another option in areas where the marina water might be dodgy.

When we take on sketchy water, we filter it through a ceramic filter - also known as a candle. This seems to remove most of the bad bugs - not to mention silt that we don't want accumulating in the tanks. We've lived off the water in our tanks for years now in many Third World countries, and have had almost no problem with dysentery.

I purchased my first candle in Mexico 10 years ago for about $15. The type I use fits into a standard filter container used in marine applications. They do require cleaning after every use, and they wear thin and lose effectiveness over time due to brushing off the accumulated muck. I just replaced a new one here in Malaysia for about $6.

George Backhus
Moonshadow, Deerfoot 64
Lying Langkawi, Malaysia / Sausalito

George - It's hard to argue with your experience. And based on research on the Web, such ceramic water filters have been made since 1827 - and that's no typo. According to one supplier, "A variety of dedicated fittings are placed inside the bore of the element to remove chlorine, bad taste and odor, pesticides, herbicides, industrial solvents and heavy metals. This ceramic candle combination provides 100% rejection of cysts and >99.99% of pathogenic bacteria, depth filtration of particulates >0.2 micron (dirt, asbestos, iron, etc). Our product turns even heavily polluted waters into safe drinking water without the use of harsh or distasteful chemicals."

Do tell. Nonetheless, old habits die hard, so we're probably still going to use bottled water for drinking aboard Profligate.


We had a great time in Turtle Bay as part of the Baja Ha-Ha fleet and were really disappointed when we couldn't continue on with everybody because Les got ill. It was nothing serious, just a little upper respiratory infection that was going around the dock in Ensenada before we left. We treated the symptoms with meds and, a couple of days later, he felt much better.

After that, we travelled in loose company with Bellavia, Milton and Eva's Passport 40; Hooligan, a Beneteau 43 with Tim and Paula and their dogs Maggie and Nigel; and Endless, Marvin and Donna's Wauqiuez 35 that they'd just had shipped from Australia to Ensenada.

We subsequently stopped at Asunción and then all came together again in Bahia Santa Maria for a week of hikes on the beach, exploring the mangroves, socializing, and waiting to see what Hurricane Sergio was going to do. There was never a shortage of food or friendship at BSM, as the pangañeros came by with everything from bottom fish to sierra and red rabbits - all very tasty.

There was a shrimper in the anchorage, so the crews of Hooligan and Gemini paid a visit to try to buy some shrimp. There was none to be had. While there, we cruisers learned that the shrimper was actually disabled, as they'd gotten a net fouled in their prop.

Tim of Hooligan is a diver and had tanks onboard, so we told the shrimper crew we'd try to clear the prop. A half hour later we were in the water, Tim with a tank, and Les with just a snorkel. After an hour of hard work with sharp knives from the captain, the net was freed from the prop.

Having completed the job and untied our dinghies to go, we were called back by the captain. He handed us an onion sack with something north of 30 pounds of shrimp. As we were about to go, he stopped us again to give us 10 pounds of the largest shrimp that Tim or I have ever seen. They looked like mini lobsters!

Needless to say, for the next several days all the cruisers in the anchorage spent a lot of their time trying to come up with new and interesting recipes for shrimp. Nonetheless, our freezers were still filled with it.

As Sergio continued to wind down by going nowhere, we moved on to Belcher Cove in Mag Bay. It was very pretty, with stunning geology and green water. But we still couldn't wait to head further south.

Les & Diane
Gemini, Albin Nimbus 42
Mag Bay / Alameda


Raven does my favorite 'Mexico song', and it goes like this:

I just got tired of that same old job

tired of fighting that freeway mob

I bet you never thought I'd really go

I'd never get as far as Mexico

I've even learned to speak the language some

down on the beach drinking coke and rum

You wouldn't know me with this golden glow

soaking sun in Mexico

I'm eating right and I'm living good

doing everything I said I would

I should have left a long time ago

who needs you, I got Mexico

Through it all nothing's really changed

no matter what, honey, that's a shame

I still love you that's the way it goes

He's got you, I've got Mexico

I'm eating right and I'm living good

doing everything I said I would

I lost you a long time ago

He's got you, I've got Mexico

Is that the one you were thinking of ??

Mark Wieber

Mark - Thanks to iTunes, we were able to discover that 'Raven' is actually Eddy Raven. While the song isn't the one we were thinking of, it's a darn good one in the Jimmy Buffett tradition. In fact, we ended up buying about four Eddy Raven songs and have put them in heavy rotation, as they say in the radio biz.

A big musical hit aboard Profligate during the Baja Ha-Ha were the acoustic guitar songs of the Duo Tones, who play surf music and other popular '60s and '70s tunes in a toned-down manner. Perfect for geezer surfer/sailor guys and gals on sailboats the world over.


In response to your request for music that gets one in the mood to head for Mexico, I have to vote for the music of Mark Mulligan. He's an ex-pat musician who lives in Guaymas. During the winter he plays the clubs in San Carlos, and during the summer he tours the States.

Although all his music is great, what really gets me thinking of Mexico is his song There's Always Mañana from his Going Coastal CD. While I'm driving the highways here in the States waiting for the season to come, I put Mark's music in the CD player of my truck and it takes me right back to the blue waters, warm weather and fine people of Mexico.

Mark's music can be found at his web site at

Steve Hersey
SeaScape, Union 32
San Carlos / Highways Of The U.S.


I felt a lot of empathy with Liz Clark of Swell after she reported, in the November Changes, on the problems she had with her holding tank - specifically that the pickup was three inches above the bottom of the tank. We had a similar 'design compromise' on our Baba 30, although with a much smaller tank. There was no way the tank could be pumped below the top of the hole, which meant gallons of human sewage would permanently be left in the tank.

But there's good news, because there is actually an easy fix. Well, it's easy once you've completely emptied and cleaned out the tank, which is neither easy nor fun. The first step is to measure the diameter of the hole. Then go to a place that sells home plumbing supplies, and get a PVC or ABS elbow with an inside diameter that's a little bigger than the diameter of the hole in the tank. By the way, try to get one that curves smoothly rather than having a sharp bend. Anyway, fit the elbow over the hole, pointing down, and see how close to the bottom it comes. You want it to get down to about three-quarters of an inch from the bottom of the tank. You may need to add a bit of tubing or cut a bit from the elbow to get the right length.

The next step is to epoxy the elbow over the hole. Rather than sit there and hold the elbow with my arm through the inspection port until the glue cured, I used modeling clay to hold it in place. Once the epoxy has cured, mix up some thickened epoxy and make a nice smooth fillet around where the elbow meets the side of the tank. This adds strength, helps stop leaks - which will break the siphon - and makes cleaning the tank easier. Once all this is done and the epoxy has cured, fill it up with water and give it a good test pump! If everything worked, you should have less than an inch in the bottom which can be easily tamed with a weekly shot of OdorLos.

I hope Liz - and everyone else with the same problem - finds this tip helpful. I've really enjoyed reading about her adventures and hopes she continues to contribute to Latitude 38.

With regard to your request for cruising music, Chris Isaak's Baja Sessions is one of our favorites.

Cindy Ballreich
Mandisa, Baba 30
Newport Beach

Cindy - Thanks for the suggestion. We're not plumbers, but we keep wondering if there isn't some good explanation why tank manufacturers don't have pickups that go all the way to the bottom of tanks. It's so counterintuitive that there must be a reason.

We're glad you enjoy Liz's reports. We particularly enjoy the young woman cruising alone perspective she brings, as it's so different from the norm.


I'm interested in any thoughts you or your readers have with regard to the best time to leave for and return from the Pacific Northwest. I recall seeing several letters on this subject in Latitude several years ago and would appreciate a refresher.

My wife and I lived in Seattle for 24 years, and have done extensive cruising as far north as Desolation Sound and the islands and channels north of there. We circumnavigated Vancouver Island in '01. We now live in San Francisco, but are very interested in revisiting many of our previous destinations.

In March, we purchased a Catalina 42 with some good friends in Ventura, and the trip up to San Francisco was pretty rough, particularly off Pt. Conception and again off Pt. Sur. If possible, we would like to avoid 25-35 knots winds on the nose, and make numerous stops, if possible, to explore and hide from those northwesterlies.

Joe Cunningham

Joe - Having not made the trip ourselves, we don't feel qualified to comment on the subject. You may want to check out Cruising the Northwest Coast, which was written by 71-year-old George Benson of San Leandro. In '03, he singlehanded his heavily modified Coronado 25 Teal from San Francisco to Port Angeles. He stopped 21 times along the way and says that there weren't any legs longer than 70 miles, and the majority of them averaged just 25 miles apart. The downside is that, as a result of making so many stops, it took him 48 days.

Latitude's LaDonna Bubak and her husband made the trip from the Bay to Vancouver Island in June, 2004, and report they saw light southwesterlies for the first 24 hours and dead calm most of the way after that. But they waited six weeks to get that weather window.

If anybody else would like to offer some advice on how and when to go north, we encourage you to contribute.


I read with interest the November Loose Lips about Tom Condy's wild ride aboard Sparrowhawk's jib halyard. First, let me say that I am glad he is all right. But two facts are alarming to me.

The article says, "He estimates that he might have traveled as much as 10 feet through the air before slamming backwards into the side of the boat at the hull-deck joint . . . the main impact was to this left side, arm and back. It knocked the wind out of him and opened a gash in his arm, but it was the pain in his back that worried everyone the most. A Santa Cruz YC crash boat that had arrived on scene a few minutes earlier escorted them back to Santa Cruz, where Tom was taken to an Urgent Care clinic."

Due to the potential of Condy's having sustained a serious injury, it was at least a 'Pan Pan Pan' situation. The primary symptom of a back injury is pain. And, as we say in the business, he had a significant mechanism of injury. It would have been better to call the Coast Guard or Harbor Police, advise them of a possible back injury, and have the victim treated and transported by trained responders with a backboard. Moving him put him at risk of a permanent spinal injury.

Secondly, this situation required more than an evaluation at an Urgent Care Clinic. At a minimum, he may have required treatment in an Emergency Room and possibly even a Trauma Center. He should have been evaluated by paramedics, and they could have determined what level of care he needed. The problem with trauma is that it doesn't always present with big ugly signs on the outside. There can be serious damage to your innards - spleen, kidneys and liver - that leave no marks. Then the person 'crumps' in front of you 20 minutes later.

I don't mean to be a Monday morning quarterback, and I know that, in these situations, the victim may "not want to be a bother to anyone." They convince you that they are fine. But I can tell you that, having been a paramedic, for over 20 years, denial is not just a river in Egypt. It's easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment, but after things settle down, take a minute to stop and evaluate the situation and the injured person. Ask yourself, is this something you can handle or should you call in the cavalry?

Mark Caplin EMT-P, PA-S
Safety Officer, Pegasus

Mark - For what it's worth, the correct announcement would have been "Pan-pan medico, pan-pan medico, pan-pan medico," but it sounds so pretentious that we probably would have just called the Coast Guard - if we felt it was necessary - and said, "We need help with an injured crew person."

The problem with a lay person deciding whether or not somebody is injured enough to warrant seeking further medical attention is, of course, that the person needing to make that decision is a lay person.


[Editor's Note: Usually we edit letters for clarity, brevity and spelling, but in this case the original was too precious to meddle with. We're not worried that our publishing the original will hurt the author's feelings, as it was written by our friend Julian 'Jo-Jo' Chatnueff, who splits his time between Orinda, St. Barth, and setting up pool tables wherever the Rolling Stones are on tour, and is said by some to not have any feelings. At least not when it comes to subletting his room to French mothers in desperate straits. In order to comply with full disclosure, we must confess that we owe Jo-Jo an expensive dinner in St. Barth as a result of coming up on the wrong end of a USC vs. Texas bowl game bet last year - despite the fact that Jo-Jo knows even less about football than sailing.]

Journalism - to the point. I read a question letter in your magazine I have some myths ("many"). Two answers: The name of Bob Dylan's boat was Water Pearl, and "sunk it." Pictures and story's! You can decide what should be public and what may be true! CU at Eddy's, and maybe at a bowl game gathering!

The #1 non-sailor checking in! I just got my batch of Latitudes (November) for taking Down Yonder to St. Barth! Do you know how much 20 Lat 38s weigh? 320 grams each! Wait I'm gonna sell some glasses! Don't move. OK better now! I happen to read some of your magz, proves you can't trust a coursier being curious as to what is the 'heavy' x 20 pieces.

Julian 'Jo-Jo' Chatnueff
Orinda / St. Barths / Rolling Stones Tour

Readers - If you spent all your time setting up and taking down pool tables for the Stones, you'd probably have trouble writing a fully coherent letter, too. But what Jo-Jo is trying to say, in response to our question, is that Bob Dylan christened his sailboat Water Pearl. She was a traditional Bequia boat, having been built on the beach of the small island in the northern Grenadines in the late '70s or so. Jo-Jo knew her name because that's a photo of him and Yankee aboard her at Gustavia, St. Barth, back in the day.

We were somewhat surprised to discover that we weren't able to find out much more about Water Pearl. Dylan himself wrote that, after his family sailed her up and down the Caribbean chain many times, and with much pleasure, she lost her rudder and was lost on the rocks of Panama.

But Jimmy Buffett, who Jo-Jo shared a lot of drinks with in St. Barths in the old days, mentioned Water Pearl in his book A Pirate Looks At Fifty: "I [while in Bequia] overheard the talk at the next table. Water Pearl was in the harbor, and everyone was talking about whether or not the owner was on board. She was a beautiful traditional Bequia schooner that had been built on the island, and was a home away from home to a Minnesota boy named Zimmerman - or for those who don't know, Bob Dylan. 'The boss' was on board, and heard I was in town as well, and asked if I wanted to come out and see the boat and have lunch. We didn't talk music. We talked boats over lunch. He gave me a tour of Water Pearl, and I can still smell that unique combination of pitch, canvas and wood that is the essence of a traditional sailing rig. I have seen Bob on a number of occasions since then, but that was the last time I saw Water Pearl. She foundered on a reef off Panama a few years later."


In the October and November issues you had a couple of letters about puzzling right-of-way situations on the water. I have some information - in fact, I think I read about it in Latitude first - that may help. If someone has a different take, I'm all ears.

If memory serves me, when sailboards ('windsurfers' and so forth) first hit the market, the manufacturer fought the issue of requiring that they be registered with the state like other vessels. They claimed they didn't apply because they were "swimmer's aids" as opposed to "vessels." The manufacturers had a monetary motivation, of course, in that sailboard sales would be discouraged if buyers had to pay to register them and pay for the items necessary - stickers, numbers, PFDs - for state registration.

Since no sailboards are seen with state registration numbers, it's obvious the sailboard manufacturers won that battle. I presume the same can be said for kite boards.

That being the case, sailboards, because they are classified as a swimming aid, fall outside COLREGS. COLREGS is only relevant to vessels, power and sail. I expect the same is true for kite boards, surfboards, water wings and so forth.

As the popularity of sailboards increased, US Sailing added a section to the (sailing vessel) Racing Rules specifically for sailboards (and also included sections for remote control sailboat racing). I am not an attorney, but I don't think these rules would stand up in court after a collision between a vessel and a swimming aid.

As I said, I welcome constructive comments and do not pretend to present this information as being absolute fact.

Mike Sands
Dana Point

Mike - Interesting stuff. However, it seems to us that things may be classified or treated differently by different government agencies. For example, while Boating and Waterways might consider boats to be just boats like you and we do, the BCDC (Bay Conservation and Development Commission) considers them to be 'Bay fill'. As such, it seems possible that while a state agency might view sailboards as "swimming aids," the Coast Guard and courts might well view them as vessels needing to obey the rules of the road. But like you, we don't claim to know for sure.


Just a quick note to confirm that there was no tsunami damage here at Port San Luis on November 17 as implied in your 'Lectronic piece on Crescent City. No boats "ripped from their moorings" or anything like that here. A pretty interesting tidal surge was witnessed at the boat launch, but there was no damage of any kind. I heard several stories from the harbor at nearby Morro Bay where some movement was also detected, but again, no damage. Just trying to set the record straight.

Jeff Chamberlin
Port San Luis Harbor Patrol

Jeff - You're right, we didn't clarify that the boats that reportedly "ripped from their moorings" were actually in Santa Cruz, not Port San Luis.


Please allow me to express my thanks to the Grand Poobah, Doña de Mallorca and Banjo Andy for yet another perfect Baja Ha-Ha! This year I had the pleasure of serving as a 'hired-gun' aboard Louella-Joie de Vivre, a new Beneteau 423, for her shakedown cruise. While the owner was a competent sailor and navigator in his own right, I was brought along to share my local knowledge, offer a second opinion, and generally provide a little extra peace of mind. We all got along famously while enjoying the warmth of the sun and water.

In fact, by leaving Cabo on Saturday afternoon before the awards ceremony, we were also able to enjoy most of the Baja Bash. With an overnight fuel stop in Turtle Bay, our weather window allowed us to motor home to San Diego in only 5.5 days. This included a double man overboard drill, while landing a tuna (PFD/harness tethers firmly attached!); a broken deck wash hose that resulted in water over the floorboards; fog; whales; and a boarding by the U.S. Coast Guard in Mexican water. We had it all!

By the way, word has it that we might have clinched third place in the Huevos Rancheros division. If so, how might we get the 'hardware' to the Mellon family?

Mark 'Capitano Marco' Sciarretta
Consigliare, Beneteau First 41s5
San Diego

Mark - Thanks for the kind words. It wasn't a bad Ha-Ha, was it? We're glad that your Bash north was pretty good, too. Louella-Joie de Vivre did indeed take third place in the Huevos Rancheros division - in an unusual tie with nine other boats. Her 'trophy' is currently aboard Profligate in Mexico, but won't be available until the cat arrives back in California in May.

For couples thinking of doing a Ha-Ha in the future, we highly recommend bringing along a hired gun or unpaid mentor who has made the trip several times before, as it generally allows the skipper and mate to be more relaxed and rested, and therefore have more fun.


For all those folks who did the Baja Ha-Ha and might be curious, we made it to Cabo and then over to Banderas Bay, our boat is doing great, and we're now a lot more familiar with her systems. And we want everyone to know that, despite having to return to Ensenada one day after the start of the Ha-Ha, we ultimately did finish the course - so we were just delayed and didn't really "drop out." We also met some wonderful cruisers once we restarted, which eased the pain of not being able to be part of the Ha-Ha fleet.

Here's what happened. The first night out, we experienced a total power failure on the boat, with the engine being the only thing that was left working. We had no lights, no nav equipment, radar, GPS, radio, autopilot, wind instruments - nor did we have refrigeration or even the ability to use the solenoid-controlled stove. We did have our handheld VHF, a battery-operated GPS, some flashlights and one really big flashlight. After letting several of the Ha-Ha boats in the area know what had happened, and alerting them of our presence with the spotlight, we kept going.

For some reason the power came back on the next morning, and stayed on most of the day. However, the battery banks indicated a less-than-good recovery, and anytime we turned on something with a significant electrical load, we'd lose power all over again. After this happened a few more times and, anticipating somewhat stronger weather that evening, we decided that, if we couldn't figure out exactly what the problem was, and that it was capable of being fixed using the limited resources available in Turtle Bay, we'd turn back to Ensenada.

We talked with several skippers and discussed what might be wrong, and received gracious offers of hands-on help and spare parts once we got to Turtle Bay. But in the end, we decided to play it safe with the crew, our boat, the boats around us, and the members of the Ha-Ha fleet who might have to go out of their way to help us if things got really out of hand. So with our options being 2+ days and lots of nighttime sailing to get to Turtle Bay, or only one night and a day of daytime sailing to bash back to Ensenada for easy access to repairs, we all decided that going back made sense.

We arrived at Sergio's in Ensenada on Wednesday afternoon, and happened to meet a young guy on the dock who was getting his boat ready to sail down to the Canal and up to Florida. It just so happened that he's an electrical physicist, so it took him all of about 90 minutes to figure out that we had a bad ground wire for the boat's main electrical system. There were also several other electrical glitches and some 'operator errors' with the various new systems we'd added to the boat. But we think it was a good thing that we returned to Ensenada, as it still took us a couple of days to find all the new electrical connections we needed and get them reworked and soldered so we didn't have any similar problems in the future.

Although we were only with the Ha-Ha fleet about a day, we'd formed a lot of new friendships with other participants on our way to San Diego. If you get a chance, please let everyone else in the fleet know that we didn't "drop out" - as reported - we were just delayed. Furthermore, please thank the fleet for their help and encouragement on Monday night while we were sailing without any power at all.

Pat & Carole McIntosh
Espiritu, Hunter 430


After reading about the Baja Ha-Ha for at least the last six years, I decided I wasn't going to just read about it any longer, but somehow, some way, be a participant.

Unable to take my Seattle-based boat south for the rally, I was fortunate enough to land a crew position on Francesco, a Rafiki 37 out of Gig Harbor, Washington. For all those like me who yearn to join the Ha-Ha fun, I can only say - "Go for it!" My hat is off to Lauren Spindler, the Ha-Ha Honcho, the Grand Poobah, and the others for putting together a fabulous 12-day event. I'd wondered just how a group of 165 boats and 650 people could be organized in any meaningful fashion. After 13 years, I guess you guys have figured it out.

The morning nets, on both SSB and VHF, were structured in such a way as to ensure everyone's safety and well-being. Whatever problems a boat may have experienced, the support structure was there to lend a helping hand. And the accounting of all boats, each and every day, assured that anyone who might have gotten themselves into trouble would be 'on the radar screen'.

For anyone beginning a cruise, the Ha-Ha is a great way to go. My only suggestion to improve one's experience would be to learn a little Spanish first in order to be able to interact better with the local kids and adults. By speaking their language, you're no longer just a rich gringo but, in a way, a local, too.

Thanks again to everyone, I'm already making plans for this fall's Ha-Ha.

Derek du Nann
Far Niente, Westsail 42
Seattle, Washington

Derek - Thanks for all the kind words, but we haven't figured anything out in 13 years of doing Ha-Has. This year's event had the same 'herd-of-cats' mentality, 'everybody-help-everybody-else' vibe, and 'as-few-rules-as-possible' structure as the first one. It's not a credit to us, but to the many thousands of folks who have participated that it works so well.


After finishing the 2006 Baja Ha-Ha, our crew of Tracy Call, Chris Blain and Tela Favalaro went home, and Nellie and I bashed up to Los Frailes from Cabo San Lucas. It was a windy and tough day for going north, so we motorsailed most of the way with a double reef in the main. In the 750 miles of the Ha-Ha we never got wet, but we got soaked from the waves on the less than 100-mile trip to Frailes.

About 75% of the way to Frailes, we crossed paths with the intrepid Flicka 20 Dulcinea, skippered by Randy Ramirez with Matt Gardner on board. Just as in the Ha-Ha, Randy and Matt were committed to sailing all the way, and were tacking up the shore under reefed main and jib. We got to the anchorage about 5 p.m. and that duo arrived four hours later. As far as we were concerned, those two were the heroes of the Ha-Ha.

From Frailes we went to Mazatlan for about a week, and then on to the nature reserve of Isla Isabella, where we anchored behind the mighty stone pillars known as the Monjas. We had gone to the Galapagos in June with our grandson, Nikhil, and were anxious to once again visit with blue-footed boobies, frigates and tropic birds that inhabit Isla Isabella.

We were anchored at the island for two relatively calm days and two nights when it blew 15 to 18 knots. Our Beneteau 36.7 is equipped with a 33-lb Bruce anchor, 50 feet of chain, and 200 feet of nylon rode. All this was new and in perfect condition, and had functioned perfectly in numerous anchorages since we left Monterey on October 8. But that was all about to end.

At 9 a.m. on the second morning, we had some unwanted excitement, as we heard a couple of loud horn blasts from a neighboring boat. At the time I was working on my journal and Nellie was doing a crossword puzzle, but we knew the signal meant trouble. We rushed on deck to find our boat drifting perilously close to the beach! Something in our anchoring system had failed.

Nellie got to the wheel and started the engine while I raised the rode like a demon. It wasn't hard because it had parted! Our anchor, 50 feet of chain, and who knows how much rode was on the bottom. After Nellie motored us away from the shore, we went over to thank our saviors, fellow Ha-Ha'ers Paul and Meridee Thompson of the Newport Beach-based Lancer Bohemian.

We'd been unbelievably lucky, for if our rode had parted at night when it was windy and we were asleep, there probably wouldn't have been anyone to warn us of the danger. What good luck for us that Bohemian had arrived the night before and happened to be on deck when we got so close to shore.

Alerting us of being in danger is not all the Thompsons did for us. Paul is an expert diver, having been certified when he was only 13, and had brought a hookah along for the trip. A hookah is a long air hose with a regulator and mouthpiece that attaches to a distant air tank. Anxious to test the hookah, Paul went off in his dinghy to search for our anchor. He found it and marked it with a buoy. The two of us then got into our two dinghies and tried to raise it. We could get all but the last 12 inches, as the chain had embedded itself under some large rocks and would not come up.

Paul backed Bohemian up so we could attach my remaining anchor line and chain to his boat and try to winch it up. We could get the anchor to the surface, but the snagged chain wouldn't allow it to rise any further.

Paul then went down again with his hookah - what a guy! - lifted the rocks off the chain, and brought the chain and attached rode to the surface. The anchor was then free, and we pulled it aboard. We'd recovered our entire anchoring system. The only trouble was that it was now in two pieces.

Based on the evidence, we had a pretty good idea of what had happened. During our two days at Isabella, the wind was light from the northwest, but both nights it was relatively strong out of the southeast, kicking up quite a bit of chop. As a result, our chain and rode lay on the bottom in circles, and partly buried themselves under sharp rocks. Eventually the nylon line was sawed in half by the sharp rocks rubbing on the tensioned line.

We have two other anchors aboard, a large Fortress and a small Fortress. We used the large one for the day and left that night for Puerto Vallarta. We certainly weren't going to risk yet another night at Isla Isabella with nylon rode.

Once in Puerto Vallarta, our first order of business was to find another 200 feet of chain to add to the 50 feet Paul recovered so that we could go to an all-chain set up. We found the right size chain at the Zaragoza chandlery, but had to pay a princely sum for it. But I have never been happier to part with some shekels.

The cruising guides recommend all-chain set ups for anchoring in Mexico, but I didn't like the idea because I didn't want all the weight in the bow. My expert friends felt that 50 feet of chain and 200 feet of nylon rode would be fine. For the most part, they were right. The failure was that I hadn't read the small print in the cruising guides, which reported that the anchorages at Isabella have bottoms of coral and rock. If you have all chain you won't drag, although you might have to dive on the chain and anchor if they get wedged in the rocks. But if you have chain and nylon rode, don't even think of trying to anchor at Isabella, no matter how much you might love the blue boobies.

Paul & Nellie Brocchini
Athena, Beneteau First 36.7
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico


Wow, what a great time! I was aboard Orange Coast College's S&S 65 Alaska Eagle for the Baja Ha-Ha, and had a wonderful time. I was impressed with all the work that went into the event. The Poobah and his assistants deserve a season in Mexico!

During the 165-boat start off Pt. Loma, I was stunned at the thought of all the years of dreaming, planning, saving, buying and life changes that it represented.

Down in Turtle Bay, I have no idea how the Poobah kept his cool answering some of the silly requests on the Ha-Ha VHF net. My favorites were the fellow who asked if anybody had a replacement for their glass coffee-maker carafe which broke on the high seas, and all the requests for sail repair tape. Had I been the net controller, I'm sure I would have made a few smart-assed comments! It was reassuring to note that those types of requests faded away as the days went on.

It was also great to hear how many cruisers offered to help folks in the fleet with their various kinds of problem. I'm sure the coffee-maker guy got some help jury-rigging a replacement - or was reduced to boiling coffee like the rest of us. A barge with a Starbucks outlet aboard would have made a mint.

I just renewed the Classy Classified ad to try to find a new home for my Cal 30, as I plan to buy a Cal 40 and enter her in the '07 Ha-Ha.

Holly Scott
Catspaw, Cal 30
Alamitos Bay

Holly - Thanks for the kind words. As the Poobah, it was easy for us to be patient when people ask what might have seemed like silly questions - because ours were no better when we made our first trip south 25 years ago. Anyway, we're very much looking forward to you entering your own boat in the Ha-Ha this fall, as there are never enough female skippers.


We want to thank you for the great experience provided by the Baja Ha-Ha. We are currently in La Paz with a number of other members of this and previous years' Ha-Ha fleets. We all appreciate the leadership you have provided and supported with Latitude 38.

We also want to thank you for helping us work through our problem of not having any cash during the stop at Turtle Bay. We never connected with you again to return the $40 you lent us at the Vera Cruz restaurant so we've enclosed a check, but it made our evening for us.

Once again, our trip has been fantastic, and the Ha-Ha was the key.

Jill & Evan Jacoby
Avrio, Globe 41
Lake Stevens, Washington

Jill and Evan - Thanks for the kind words, but it was absolutely our pleasure to be part of yet another Ha-Ha. As for not having cash in Turtle Bay, you're not the first folks to assume there might be a bank in the village. But as you now know, it's even too small a place for an ATM. And since there's even much less of a village at Bahia Santa Maria, all cruisers need to carry some cash - American dollars are fine - for the trip between San Diego and Cabo.

Just to clarify one more time, even though the Grand Poobah, Assistant Poobah, and Chief of Security all work for Latitude 38, the Ha-Ha is a completely separate organization from Latitude. The Poobah and Chief of Security are unpaid volunteers who are happy to manage the event simply because it's so much fun. The only relation between Latitude 38, which indeed started the Ha-Ha, and Baja Ha-Ha, Inc., is that Latitude pays an editorial fee to be able to produce the program and cover the event.


I wanted to properly thank the Ha-Ha folks for another great Ha-Ha. As some might remember, we Kiwis did the second Ha-Ha ever, in '95, aboard our CF 37 Gumboot, before sailing her across the Pacific to our home in New Zealand. This year we crewed aboard Bluebird, Tom Cullen's Santa Barbara-based J/120.

When Bluebird reached Cabo, we did the usual laundry and re-provisioning, and then had a lovely meal at the roofless Mi Casa restaurant. But maybe we shouldn't have drunk the water, since all three of us promptly came down with turista the next day. We couldn't even bring ourselves to swim ashore to say goodbye at the beach party at Mangos.

We split that night, as we had to get kids back to school in Puerto Vallarta, and ourselves back to our blueberry farm in New Zealand, where it's busy springtime in the orchard. But we did stop at Isla Isabella on the way, and it was worth it. We also stopped at Santa Cruz in Mantachen Bay to see a Mexican family that have been my husband Bob's friends for 30 years. They thought it might be us when they saw our mast light, as they hadn't had another boat stop there since we'd last done it 10 years before!

We soon found out why few boats stop there. Last time we had an enjoyable four-day stop at Santa Cruz in what must have been unusually calm weather, but this time we couldn't even stay in those shallow waters for four hours. Heading back to Bluebird to make dinner was a real challenge, as a 15-knot breeze had come up on the nose, and our dinghy, filled with six people and powered by just a 2-hp outboard, turned out to be a wet, rough and slow ride. We also became anxious for Bluebird, as she was jerking on her rode, with not much water beneath her keel.

The funny thing is that several times during the Ha-Ha the children had become worried and asked if they should be scared. This usually happened after we had schooled them on the importance of not falling overboard and then, while clomping around noisily on deck trying to unwrap the huge spinnaker in the middle of the night, started shouting "Fall off, fall off!" In truth, the kids were in more danger during the long and wet dinghy ride back to the boat, with water washing in over the bow and stern, as we hobby-horsed every inch of the way, than they ever were during the Ha-Ha. The kids were not only not scared, they loved it, yahooing all the way, while we adults got a few more gray hairs. We obviously made it - not back to town to dine with our friends, but rather with Bluebird to the other side of the big bay where there was so much more shelter.

But it certainly was wonderful to be back in Mexico, although now we'll just have to make the best of it by reading about it in Latitude again. And for any cruisers coming down to New Zealand, do visit, as we're starting to pick the biggest and juiciest blueberries ever.

Jennie & Bob Crum
Owners, Gumboot, CF37, 1995 Ha-Ha
Crew, Bluebird, J/120, Santa Barbara, 2006 Ha-Ha
New Zealand

Jennie and Bob - The thing we love about the Ha-Ha is that you live life to the fullest, and therefore make vivid memories. In fact, we can remember back in '96 when you were out surfing the point at Bahia Santa Maria and sort of got trapped in the rocks there. Your kids, much younger, seemed a little upset that mom was getting raked over the rocks a bit, so we got to come to the rescue in our inflatable. Lots of fun, no?

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