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I took the accompanying photos last month while hearing the sound every sailor fears most: five consecutive blasts from an approaching super tanker.

Cuyler Binion
San Francisco Bay

Readers - With the height of the sailing season upon us, can all of us small boat mariners do a little better job of keeping clear of ships? Many of us seem to be under the misconception that as long as a ship has just enough room to get by us, there's no problem. That might be true if each of our little vessels were the only ones on the Bay. However, most of the time there are dozens of small boats on the water. As a result, the bar pilots and captains on ships not only have to worry about avoiding your boat, but also negotiating a path through the dozen or so other vessels ahead, many of which are being sailed on erratic courses. You can get a good idea of how nerve-wracking this can be for those in command of ships by standing mid-span on the east side of the Golden Gate Bridge and watching the bizarre things some skippers do in the path of large ships.

What's the best way to stay clear of ships? Simple - sail away from their path at a 90-degree angle, the earlier the better. This 'tells' the captain of the ship that you're giving him a wide open path and that he doesn't have to worry about you. We do it all the time. You would too if one of your friends had been killed as the result of his 29-ft sailboat being hit by a ship not far from Alcatraz.

On a lighter note, do you know what five blasts on a ship's horn means if you're stuck in the ice at the high latitudes? It signals the approach of a polar bear. It's serious business, too, because, despite weighing 1,400 pounds, they can run up to 40 mph and have no fear of humans.


I am thinking about removing the lifelines on my 30-ft sloop. With the exception of providing protection for children, I have never really understood what lifelines do. In fact, I think they probably provide a false sense of security.

If conditions are rough and I'm on deck, I'm harnessed to the center of the boat. The boat provides plenty of inboard handholds and a substantial toe rail for moderate conditions. Because lifelines are generally well below my (and most people's) center of gravity, I think they would probably flip me into the water head first, if I did go overboard. When I have come in contact with the lifelines, it's because they have been in my way.

They also create one more maintenance issue I don't need, and sometimes contact my jib sheets in ways that don't please me. The lifeline stanchions are a tempting though, in my opinion, inappropriate hand hold for crew on the dock to grab to maneuver the boat.

Yet, given all this, I see lifelines on almost all boats with the exception of some racing boats and Folkboats. Am I missing something? I don't race or sit on the rail and never have children on board.

I can remove the stanchions and leave the stanchion bases to replace the lines for resale. I would be interested to hear of instances where lifelines have helped or hurt sailors.

Bill D.
Addie L., Yankee 30
San Francisco

Bill - The only boats we can remember sailing on that didn't have lifelines were America's Cup boats and Endeavour, the 135-ft J Class yacht, so we don't have a lot of experience sailing without them. Nonetheless, we probably think they are worth keeping - a belief that we suspect would be shared by your insurance company. Anybody else have thoughts on this?

Our main gripe with lifelines is - as you pointed out - many of them are so low that, for taller people, they almost cause you to fall overboard. We have 42-inch-high lifelines on Profligate, and they make you feel absolutely secure, so we love them. Alas, they'd look way out of proportion for most boats.


With my 65th birthday coming up, I'd like to take my wife and two kids, and maybe one or two more, on a two to three-day sailing adventure. I have a fair amount of sailing experience and can help out, but I'd need a captain and a boat. My idea is to perhaps go out to the Farallon Islands and then up into the mouth of Tomales Bay to anchor for the night. Or maybe to Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz. The locations are flexible. But there are no charter companies I can find that do this sort of thing, so I guess I need to find some private party with a decent boat that might want to earn some extra money by taking us out for a few days.

My birthday is October 24, so we'd like to go sometime around then. The kids are 13 and 16, and there might be a 30-year-old.

Do you have any suggestions about how to find somebody who might want to do this?

Peter Beckh
Northern California

Peter - A two or three-day sailing adventure with your wife and two kids is a great idea - but only if you can be confident that you'll have decent weather. To our knowledge, there are no charter companies that regularly send boats to the entrance of Tomales Bay or Half Moon Bay or even Santa Cruz because of the reasonably good possibility that it might be rougher and colder outside the Gate than most casual sailors would prefer. And, unless we're mistaken, you want your adventure to be remembered for how much fun it was, not how cold and seasick everyone was.

Fortunately, there's an excellent alternative to the possibilities you raised, one that offers reliably good weather and even more fun at the destination. We're talking about a weekend trip from Marina del Rey or Long Beach or Newport Beach to Catalina Island and back. It's much shorter to Catalina than it would be to either Tomales Bay or Santa Cruz, and chances are the weather would be both much warmer and more pleasant. And once you got to Catalina, there would be plenty of activities to enjoy at both Avalon and/or Two Harbors, the latter in particular. We're thinking about swimming, great hiking and ending the day(s) with a BBQ and bonfire on the beach.

We'd also encourage you to consider celebrating your birthday in September, as the weather at the island tends to be the best during August and September, with water warm enough for swimming. By the end of October, Indian Summer is just a memory and there are fewer hours of daylight.

It's true that it would be a little more expensive to travel to and from L.A. at the start and finish of your adventure, but advance purchase tickets from Southwest are often reasonable, and the end result would be an adventure that all of you could remember fondly for many years. Among the possibilities to consider are chartering a boat with a skipper or joining one of the number of larger boats that take groups out to the island. No matter which you choose, we think you'll end up agreeing that Catalina is the perfect West Coast destination for a two or three-day sailing adventure with the wife and kids.


Greetings from the southwest Pacific! It's been a while since we corresponded, and I would like to comment on a number of issues raised by the authors of various letters in the May edition. By the way, we really appreciate being able to read Letters and Changes in Latitude on the Internet - made much easier by the new wifi coverage of the Neiafu harbor by Aquarium Café.

First, regarding the cost of cruising. You assured Charlie Ellery that he could easily cruise his Islander 30 on $910 per month. This is in keeping with other reports that maintain cruising costs vary from $500 - really? - to $1,000 per month. In my experience, based on 14 years of cruising throughout Mexico, Central America, Ecuador, the Caribbean and the South Pacific, the claimed costs ignore some 'inconvenient truths' and are unduly optimistic when it comes to long-term cruising. I think it's time for a reality check.

If your readers really want to know the true cost of long-term cruising, there are a few more items to consider than the cost of a bag of fruit in a Third World market. Annual cruising costs should also include: 1) An annual haul-out for bottom painting, at least in the tropics; 2) Boat insurance - do you really want to have to go back to work if you lose your boat? 3) The cost of a survey every three years as required by the insurance company; 4) Health insurance can also be a major expense, particularly for us geriatric cruisers; 5) Trips back to the good old over-priced USA to visit family and friends, and to restock the spare parts inventory; 6) Mooring in a marina while you're back in the States.

The cost of long-term cruising should include the cost of replacing all standing and running rigging, sails, diesel engine, electronics, dinghy, outboard motor, canvas work, etc. - all amortized over a realistic lifespan of about 8 to 10 years. We're talking long-term cruising here. While you're at it, figure on the theft of your dinghy and/or outboard once every 10 years and, if cruising in Central America/Panama, the good chance of losing all of your electronics to a lightning strike. And it doesn't have to be a direct hit, just ask Les Sutton and Diane Grant of the Albin Nimus 42 Gemini.

Of course, you can put off these replacements until something breaks - that's expensive - or until you sell the boat, in which case, a knowledgeable buyer will discount the price to cover the deferred maintenance. One way or another, these expenses will be paid.

Fees are on the increase everywhere. As local officials observe the ever-increasing amount of floating real estate visiting their shores, a Pavlovian reflex sets in - and ingenious new fees and charges materialize. In Ecuador, for example, one of the most economical countries to visit, penalties for overstaying one's visa - by even a day - can result in fines from $200 to $2,000, up from $0.50 per month prior to 2005. Fees for national zarpes tripled in one year.

A blister problem? If not now, count on it after 10 years of sailing in warm tropical waters. Repairs can run from a few hundred dollars to $10,000 or more. Ever run aground? If you visit the coral reefs and atolls of the South Pacific, you probably will at some time. Repairs range from minor dings to the keel and/or rudder to total loss.

Taking all of the above into account, a realistic, long-term cruising cost for a 38-ft boat might be $2,000 per month - a little less for Charlie's Islander 30. Finally, if you are heading to New Zealand, be aware that the prices there will blow your cruising budget very quickly. With the Kiwi dollar at more than $0.70 USD - its normal range is $0.50 to $0.55 - prices are close to US levels.

Secondly, J.R. Floyd Beutler of the Catana 47 Moon and Stars was right on when he talked about fuel contamination. On the passage from the Galapagos to the Marquesas, our Volvo kept stopping while we were trying to charge the batteries. Inspection of the Racor filter showed heavy contamination, but repeated replacement of the 10-micron filter cartridge did not solve the problem. Finally, the engine would not run at all, even with a fresh cartridge. (Incidentally, in an emergency, it is possible to recycle these cartridges by washing them in a solvent such as acetone, blowing them dry, and dunking them in clean diesel.) It became clear that the pick-up line from the bottom of the tank was plugged, and I was unable to clear it. What was worse, the pick-up line had a bronze filter brazed to the lower end, and the pipe itself was welded to the stainless steel tank! It therefore could not be removed for cleaning, a very poor design. I even tried using a scuba tank to back-flush it. This worked for a short time, then the line plugged up again.

Since I bought the boat 14 years ago, every gallon of diesel fuel poured into the tank had passed through my Baja filter, and I assumed that the tank was clean. Big mistake! I have also consistently used Biobor JF. an additive to the fuel that prevents microbial growth. However, it's difficult to precisely measure the small amounts of Biobor needed, so I usually erred on the side of more rather than less. I have since learned that over-use of this product may produce the formation of solids. It even says so in the fine print!

Finally, using a 5-gallon jerry jug of clean fuel, I devised a separate fuel supply, or day-tank, to bypass the main fuel tank and feed the engine directly via the Racor filter. This took many hours working under rough conditions, which I barely managed without throwing up on the engine. Meanwhile, my partner Linda stood long watches without complaint while I fiddled with the engine fuel system - and other engine problems that I will save for another day - never got sea-sick and managed to serve up delicious cooked meals, even when the conditions were bad. Thanks, Linda!

Upon completion of the bypass plumbing, we once again had a reliable engine and arrived in Fatu Hiva without further problems two weeks later. But the question remained of how to clean the main fuel tank and pick-up line. The only access to the tank was via a 2-inch-diameter port for the fuel gauge, which was too small to provide good access. I ended up using a wooden stick with a putty knife attached to the end. With this, I was able to scrape most, but not all, of the black, granular gunk off the bottom of the tank. The baffles and the bronze filter on the pick-up line made it hard. I then swabbed the tanks and used the electric in-line fuel pump - don't leave without one! - to repeatedly pump the contaminated fuel through the recycled Racor filters and into borrowed jerry cans. Finally, the tank and fuel were judged clean enough, and a nasty, messy job was completed.

Finally, on the subject of ICOM SSB and ham radios, I have to agree with Barry Paddy of Zafarse that the Icom IC706 MkIIG represents much better value than the problem-prone 802. At half the price of the Icom M710, and close to one-third of that for the 802, this little radio - it's also less than half the size and weight of its big SSB brothers - does all that I require and has built-in trouble-shooting features. True, it is limited to 100 watts of power versus 150 watts for the 802, but this does not seem to matter if the antenna and ground system are installed properly. At that price, it becomes feasible to carry a spare! Perhaps someone can explain to me why the M710 and M802 SSB radios are so much bulkier, heavier and more expensive than the IC706 MkII ham radio?

With regard to the old M700, which was a great radio in its day, the only reason I got rid of it was because replacement parts were no longer available. In fact, the Icom dealer in Panama City told me that the only parts available were used parts - and they were probably faulty! Contrary to popular belief, and contrary to what some experts claimed, my M700 proved to be perfectly capable of supporting Pactor controllers. All that was needed was the drilling of a small hole in the case and a little soldering work on the mic board inside. If a retired mechanical engineer such as myself could manage it, anybody can!

John Kelly
Hawkeye, Sirena 38
Seattle / Tonga

John - Thanks for the terrific information based on your firsthand experience.

With regard to the cost of cruising, we think it can vary significantly depending on what kind of cruising is being done, whether it's an individual or couple, and how complicated one's boat is. What you and Linda are doing - long-term cruising across long open expanses of water - is necessarily more expensive than Ellery's plan of retirement cruising in Mexico. For example, here are some ways in which we think Ellery's cruising could easily be much less expensive than yours:
1) No insurance. With an easily replaceable Islander 30, it wouldn't make sense to us to pay insurance premiums. Because there's no insurance, there's no need for a survey every three years - assuming, of course, one has the basic knowledge to evaluate one's boat.

2) No annual haulout. If the bottom paint is holding up on Profligate, we sometimes go two years without hauling. It's particularly easy to do in Mexico, where the water is plenty warm to clean your own bottom.

3) Trips back to the States are optional and/or depend on the number of family and friends one might want to see and where they live. If time isn't an issue, the bus and/or off-season plane tickets back to the States can be reasonable.

4) If you're part of the anchored out cruising community in places such as La Paz, Puerto Escondido, La Cruz, Tenacatita Bay, Barra or Zihua, you can easily find someone in the anchorage who would be happy to watch your boat while you are gone.

5) With a simple and inexpensive boat such as an Islander 30, we'd treat blisters as a non-issue - at least until water started seeping in.

6) Health care is a wild card. If we're not mistaken, Ellery is retired military and therefore covered. In addition, pretty darn good health care is available in Mexico at a fraction of what it costs in the States. But we agree that health insurance could be a major money drain.

7) When cruising in Mexico, there's no real need to replace a lot of electronics as they age or if they get hit by lightning. We twice sailed around the Sea of Cortez with boats that had nothing but a GPS. No depthsounder, no radar, no speedo, no HF radio - and no problems. We wouldn't do that if we were doing the kind of cruising you're doing, of course, but in Mexico it's different.

Lots of couples spend $2,000 - or more - a month, even when just cruising in Mexico, and even without staying in marinas all the time. Based on firsthand accounts by people who enjoy being frugal, $900/month is not out of the question for a couple in Mexico.

By the way, there's an article in this month's issue on how much it cost - down to the last dollar - a Midwestern couple to do a three-year circumnavigation. This was a couple with an ample cruising kitty, so they weren't concerned with cruising inexpensively.


I'm seeking information and advice on California sales or use tax that might apply to my catamaran if I were to bring her to California for an extended stay. I'm a California resident who bought my boat used from the Moorings in Florida in the '90s. Since then she's been documented out of Delaware, and has been sailed and berthed in both the U.S. and foreign ports.

I recall reading stories about sales and use tax in previous Latitudes, but failed to keep and file those articles. I did research the California State Board of Equalization website and found what might be pertinent information. Under 'Tax-Exempt Watercraft' in Publication 40, it states, "Sailing in part on the high seas while traveling to and from California ports does not, by itself, qualify a craft for the exemption. Furthermore, vessels used exclusively to transport their owners' property do not qualify for this exemption." A more recent publication, 79b, looks at the issue of sales or use tax from the viewpoint of purchases made in another state, such as internet purchases, where no California sales tax has been paid, but where the boat was shipped to or brought into California by the purchaser. It says, "If you make such a purchase and then use, give away, store, or otherwise consume the item in this state, you may owe California use tax."

I have called the Equalization Board's information center (800-400-7115) without getting much helpful advice. Can you provide any further update on this matter? Or perhaps someone in your informed readership has wrestled with this potentially ruinous financial problem.


Roy - If you call another branch of the State Board of Equalization - which is usually quite helpful with such questions - we're sure they'll tell you that if you buy a boat outside of California, and keep and use it outside of California for more than a year, and can document that outside-of-the-state use, you won't owe sales or use tax. (By the way, sales tax is applied when you buy a new boat and is collected by the dealer; use tax is when you buy a used boat from another party and it's up to you to pay it to the state.)

However, once you bring the boat into California, the county you keep her in will begin to assess personal property tax of approximately 1% of the value of the boat per year.


I left Hawaii in 2004 in order to buy Mana, a 36-ft plywood ketch berthed in Sausalito. For 2.5 years I lived aboard and worked to restore her in preparation for my lifelong dream - ocean voyaging. I enjoyed many sails on the Bay and then joined the Sausalito Cruising Club to bolster my contacts. For a guy who had to abandon Hana, Maui, to chase the biggest dream he's ever had, living and working on Richardson Bay was a great blessing. Now that I'm living aboard Mana on a mooring off Capitola for the summer, I more than ever appreciate all that Richardson Bay had to offer - glorious weather, inspiring views and tranquility.

With the help of good friends, I departed San Francisco Bay on March 31, with my dad and Hawaiian mutt Pono along as crew. We sailed south to Half Moon Bay, then continued on to Santa Cruz the next day in a strong breeze and in company of one gray whale and a few seals. Andy and Christy, Santa Cruz residents who are my best friends, warmly greeted us at the harbor, and the next day we sailed to the mooring in Capitola. My plan is to enjoy a summer of surfing, fishing and sailing with my friends. I'll continue south in October, and probably sail to Hawaii in November, with the goal of reaching the South Pacific next spring.

There are two places in this world that I've always wanted to see - the South Pacific and Italy - but I never had the means to get there. Pietro Ferrante, my great-grandfather, a fisherman in Sicily, emigrated to the States at the turn of the century and became a founding father of Cannery Row in Monterey. In fact, there's even a bust of him in what is now the parking lot of the old wharf. Anyway, my heritage explains why I've always dreamed of seeing Italy. My desire to see the South Pacific comes from moving to Hawaii in the early '90s and learning to surf. I have witnessed the emergence of surf camps, and always wished I could be one of the lucky ones bringing home stories of surfing places such as Tavarua. And having lived and surfed in Hana, one of the friendliest lineups in Hawaii, I knew that the islands and lagoons of the South Pacific would be at the top of my cruising list.

I have visited the Caribbean twice, and was hoping to winter there on my way to Europe. So my question is this: Does anyone have experience with the routes from the South Pacific east toward Panama - via Galapagos, I imagine - versus continuing west to the Med via the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea? My idea is that I would work my way west from the Marquesas, spending as much of the southern hemisphere winter in Moorea as possible - for the waves and protected bays - dodging weather to reach as far west as Tonga, although probably not as far as Fiji. After that, I'd head south to the higher latitudes, with short layovers at Pitcairn and Easter Islands, before catching the Humboldt Current north toward Peru and maybe even do Peru to the Galapagos. Anyway, I'm looking for route advice from Latitude or Latitude readers.

Tony Smario
Mana, 36-ft ketch

Tony - Your passion for living out your dream is obvious, and that's great. But smart route planning is a major part of making your dreams come true, because, if your route requires too much battling against the ocean instead of working with it, your boat and your passion don't stand a snowball's chance in hell.

To start with, we'd urge you to make the California to Hawaii passage in early October as opposed to November. The problem with November is that the Pacific High will have moved north, so you can't be assured of having the great tradewind conditions that are so common in summer. Sure, it's possible that you might have nice sailing to the islands - but it's also possible that you might have to beat most of the way there and/or have to withstand a nasty winter storm or two. The risks of those far exceed the pleasure you might get from an additional month in California.

You also need to realize that, once you get to Hawaii, you'll be somewhat limited on where you can sail to in the South Pacific. For example, and with no disrespect, there is no way that you and your boat could lay the Marquesas or the Tuamotus from Hawaii, as it requires pointing extremely high in 20-25 knots of wind for 2,500 miles. It's even hard for ex-around-the-world racing boats such as the 65-ft Alaska Eagle to do it. At best, you'd probably only be able to lay Tahiti, which is 750 miles downwind and current of the Marquesas. A passionate guy like you might think, 'Alright, I'll lay Tahiti, then sail the 750 miles to the Marquesas.' But trust us, after sailing into fresh trades and adverse current for a day or two, the punishment you and your boat will have absorbed will make you a believer in something that Pietro Ferrante and everyone else who goes to sea learns quickly - that you want to fight the ocean as little as possible. Whenever possible, always go with the weather. We understand your reasons for wanting to sail to the South Pacific via Hawaii, and think you can lay Tahiti - particularly if you 'cheat' by motoring as far east as you can in the ITCZ and aren't adverse to beating for several weeks. But you should understand why almost everyone else heads to the South Pacific via Mexico rather than Hawaii, and decide whether that sentimental stop in Hawaii is that important to you.

Spend as much time in Moorea as possible? It's is a beautiful place, but there are lots of islands to visit in the South Pacific, and many of them have better waves and fewer people. When we were in Mexico last winter, we met Evan Dill of the Santa Barbara-based Crowther 48 cat Java, who had just come back from years of sailing and surfing in the South Pacific. He said there were uncounted spots with great surf and no crowds, the very best of all of which was . . . wait, we can't tell you that. In any event, he told us had had surf there for four months, and nobody to share it with.

Once you got to Tonga, it would make no sense to not continue on to Fiji. That's akin to making a road trip from San Francisco to New Jersey, but saying you won't drive the last few miles through the tunnel to reach Manhattan. Relative to the totality of your proposed trip, Tonga and Fiji are right next to each other. And isn't Fiji home to Tavarua and lots of other great surfing?

Unless you're a complete glutton for punishment, we'd suggest that, once you're done with the South Pacific, you not even think of trying to sail east to Italy rather than continuing west around the world. If you look at a globe, you'll see that Italy is almost as far away from Tonga as possible. And if you look at a chart of the tradewinds of the world, you'll see that, by continuing west, you'll almost always be going with the wind and current, while if you head to Italy by going east, you'll be fighting the trades and current much of the time or having to circle around them. Going east to Italy would be a much, much harder and longer trip. To paraphrase Jimmy Cornell in his book World Cruising Routes, the vast majority of around-the-world voyages are east to west, the main reason being to take full advantage of the prevailing easterlies in the lower latitudes on either side of the equator. By the way, Cornell's book does a great job of describing the most popular around-the-world itineraries, so it's at least worth paging through.

We'll end what we hope has been constructive criticism with the top two lessons from World Cruising 101: 1) Whenever possible, go with the wind and current rather than fighting against it. In this regard, it helps to buy one of those inflatable balls that have a map of the world and currents printed on them. They are easy to find on the Internet, and we refer to ours all the time. Then take a marking pencil and draw the tradewinds on the ball. The route you'll want to take around the world will quickly and clearly become obvious. 2) Don't microplan such a long trip. It's not at all bad to have major goals like wanting to surf the South Pacific and end up in your ancestral homeland of Italy - but be loose and open about exactly how it's going to come about. You have your goals, you can find the basic routes in Cornell's book, so just let things unfold in good time. And when you get to Capri, Elba, Portofino, Cinque Terra, Stromboli or any of the other great places in Italy, be sure to take some photos for Latitude.


Thanks to it being an unusual upwind race, late April's Newport to Ensenada Race was the slowest in history and recorded the highest number of drop-outs ever. But Lexus, one of the big sponsors of the race, added insult to injury by having an airplane fly up and down the course all day pulling a banner that read: "If you were driving a Lexus, you'd be in Ensenada now." Why a company would sponsor a race and then insult the participants is beyond me. There were quite a few waves of disapproval sent skyward.

Steve Lannen

Steve - It would have been an odd banner for Lexus to fly even if it had been a windy Ensenada Race. After all, who would rather be in Ensenada than sailing on the ocean? But with the Lexus company slogan being 'The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection', you can be sure they are going to try to be less insulting next year. Our suggestion? A banner that reads: "A free Lexus to every division winner!"

We heard the race was so light that some of the competitors eventually ran out of energy trying to whistle up some wind. On the Lagoon 470 Moontide, for example, they resorted to the female crew going topless to try to tempt the breeze. It didn't work, but it wasn't for lack of trying.

For more photo funnies from the Ensenada Race, see this month's Sightings.


Often in Letters or articles there are comments on the importance of checking or replacing keel bolts. However, when doing research on the web, I've found many references which describe checking them as almost impossibly challenging and prohibitively expensive to replace.

There are also different opinions about encapsulated keels, which are variously described as either "completely maintenance free" or "something I'd never have anything to do with." Could you offer any opinions on that subject?

Lastly, I've been very taken with the Cape Dory 30 ketch. Does anybody have any opinions on the design or quality of the boat - other than it's considered to be pretty slow?

Rick Katurbus
Thiells, New York

Rick - Checking or replacing the keel bolts is like just about everything else with a boat, it all depends on how thoughtfully they were designed, built and maintained. In the case of most production racer/cruisers with fin keels, the general assumption is that keels won't ever be removed. As such, it might be considerably harder to get at the bolts and, because they probably haven't been kept dry and rust free, they may be hard to remove. In the case of many racing boats, keels are made to be easily removed for transportation and other reasons. No matter if you've got a production racer/cruiser or an all-out racing boat, it's important for a knowledgeable person to periodically check the keel bolts just as they should periodically check other things such as the rudder shaft. After all, it's not unheard of for keels to fall off, and that's not a situation you ever want to find yourself in.

As you might expect, there are advantages and disadvantages to both encapsulated keels and fin keels. Encapsulated keels should be all but maintenance free, but because they are an integral part of the hull, they can't really be the optimum shape for performance. In addition, running aground or hitting a rock with an encapsulated keel is usually not a serious problem. On the other hand, a well-designed fin keel will provide much better performance, but there is always the risk - generally very small - that it might loosen up or, in rare cases, fall off, particularly if the keel had been run aground hard or hit coral. Some famous boats that lost their keels are Simon Le Bon's maxi Drum; the around-the-world racer Martella, a BMW Oracle America's Cup boat; and the San Francisco-based Holland 68 Charley. In addition, there have been several well-publicized cases of keels falling off production boats in Europe.

Cape Dorys are generally considered to be well built but not particularly stylish. They rate about 200 under PHRF, which is average for that type of boat, but slow compared to boats designed for higher performance. The one thing that you can be sure of is that the keel won't loosen up or fall off.


I read your May 16 'Lectronic item about sea lions having returned to Newport Beach and Newport having passed ordinances requiring boatowners to take steps to prevent sea lions from moving on boats. Most of these low-freeboard boats that become resting stops for the males are, frankly speaking, floating crap, and they look as though they might as well be taken over by smelly ol' beasts. Besides, the owners aren't using them much anyhow. So my thought is to put some food on their decks and put the boats to use for homeless pinnies. If you can't take care of your boat and don't use it, you might as well lose it to the pinnies!

Arlene Taylor
Planet Earth

Arlene - We don't think you realize what you're asking for. It's true that the large ketch that sea lions sank by overloading a summer or two ago wasn't in the best condition but, based on our observations, sea lions are just as likely to try to make a home on frequently used and well-maintained boats. For example, they tried to set up a harem aboard Profligate, a boat that gets used far more than average. In addition, sea lions have also tried to inhabit aids to navigation, many of the 1,200 piers and docks in Newport, and made a real mess out of the white sea bass hatchery.


An open season on seal and sea lions who are a nuisance along the coasts of California and Oregon needs to be implemented now. Not only because they create herding problems on small boats and docks that is becoming an increasing problem in both states, but also for the sake of both sport and commercial salmon fisherman. None of these pinnipeds were protected 50 years ago, and their population density during those years was never in jeopardy. Sea lions and seals are quick studies, and it wouldn't take long for an open season to have the desired effect of reducing or eliminating the present problems. I feel very strongly that existing historical information about the use of population control measures ensure that its use would not add another species to the endangered list, and is the obvious long-term solution to the problem.

Kirby Kelley
Roseburg, Oregon

Kirby - The sea lion problem in Newport Beach is only a couple of years old, and at this point is mostly limited to the lower parts of the bay. At this point 'open season' on sea lions seems a little extreme to us, but we're not experts on their effect on fisheries. But we can tell you that sea lions are covered under the Marine Mammal Act of 1972, even though they are not an endangered species.


Like most of God's creatures, sea lions are prone to developing lifelong habits in fairly short order. And any parent will tell you that habits, once established, are very hard to break. Therefore, the primary goal should be to act very promptly to counter such bad behavior, not waiting until the singular baddie becomes a photo-op gaggle of them such as Pier 39. As for specific tactics, at the risk of generating righteous PETA reaction, the first thing that came to my mind to create unwelcome consequences for sea lions trying to board boats might be tack strips or something like that. Of course, if one were to discover how to entice all the females to some other location, the problem would evaporate.

John McNeill
San Francisco

John - Doña de Mallorca's solution to sea lion invasions on Profligate was to cover the transom 'grand stairway' steps with those plastic sheets made for office chairs to roll on, but to place the sheets upside down with the 'tacks' facing up. No sea lions came aboard after that. Other boatowners have used chairs, kayaks, canvas covers, netting and other devices to keep the persistent sea lions away.


I think the jurisdiction making the rules for Newport Harbor should install pontoons, such as at Pier 39, and make the sea lions a tourist attraction. Yes, the noise would be a problem, so the pontoon rafts should be away from homes but near where tourists could come. This would be a more positive step than requiring boatowners to create barriers to sea lions coming aboard, which is crazy. If I had my boat in Newport, I'd put up solid railing so they absolutely couldn't get aboard. Yachts are not a natural habitat for these creatures, so I'd do whatever it takes to protect my boat.

P.S. I'm halfway through my 20-year circumnavigation.

Fred Reynolds
Sarah, C&C 34
Cartegena, Colombia

Fred - The Newport Beach City Council didn't pass the ordinances they did to punish boatowners, but rather to try to develop a community-wide plan to nip the sea lion problem in the bud. The plan is two-fold. First, get everyone with a potential haul out area - meaning the owners of boats, of which there are 10,000 in Newport Harbor, and the owners of piers and docks, of which there are 1,200 - to make their facilities sea lion proof if sea lions are in the area. At this point they are only trying to occupy the lower part of the bay. The city and harbor patrol have posted photos on their website of the different methods that may be used to prevent sea lions from trying to haul out. The second part of the plan is to try to eliminate all direct and indirect feeding of sea lions by making it illegal to throw anything - including food and pieces of fish - into the water.

The last thing anybody wants is for sea lions - which are stinky, extremely noisy, and potentially aggressive - to become a Pier 39-type tourist attraction in Newport. Besides, Newport Beach land is extremely desirable and expensive, so there is absolutely no remote place where such sea lion haul out areas wouldn't be an extreme nuisance.


How about providing more attractive rest stops arranged strategically around Newport Harbor. As smart as sea lions are, they would soon separate the easy access from the difficult. Then maybe some soothing pinniped music or a vibrating deck surface or Disney movies or other amenities that would make them really comfortable. Then, ever so slowly, move the digs to a more suitable location further away from humans. Hey, the same basic strategy worked with my kids!

Ray Thompson
Sea Amigo, Cross 38 trimaran
Eureka / San Carlos, Mexico

Ray - From May to July, male sea lions establish harems for breeding purposes. They are noisy as hell because the males, which displace up to 600 pounds, bark incessantly to defend their established territories. You don't want to encourage even temporary settlements.


Has anyone tried solar-powered electric fences to keep sea lions off boats? If I was going to do it, I'd put a grid down right on the deck and not try to electrify the lifelines or create a classic fence. A leaping 500-lb sea lion will break down such a fence before it would have a deterrent effect. But if Mr. Flipper landed on an electrified pad, he wouldn't want to stay long. Speaking from personal experience, such electric fences won't hurt you, but one shock is enough. Fences are available on the net for $100 at places such as the Pet Warehouse.

Stan Wieg

Stan - That's an interesting idea. We wonder if such a fence would somehow run the boatowner afoul of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.


The sea lions really haven't been too bad this year in Newport. The city and harbor patrol have done an excellent job promoting the idea that if boaters deny the sea lions boats as habitats, they'll just swim around the harbor looking for fish and keep relatively quiet. It's only when they find a place to hang out and bark - such as an unprotected boat - that they become a real nuisance.

Robert Spakowski
Newport Beach

Robert - We agree that the city and harbor patrol have done a good job of coming up with a plan to nip the problem in the bud, and we hope it works. But the real test will be in the next few months when the sea lions try to establish their breeding grounds.


When I lived aboard in Moss Landing for awhile, I used to have issues with sea lions on the dock. I kept the hose handy, and found that a squirt would get them moving. My solution for the folks in Newport is to put a water tank on a utility boat and hire marine biology majors to go around squirting the critters with reclaimed water. Once they start getting squirted on a routine basis, perhaps they'd seek other places to haul out.

Dave Benjamin
Island Planet Sails

Dave - Ironically, sea lions really do dislike being squirted with water. As such, one of the preventative methods suggested by the city and harbor patrol is the 'Scarecrow', which combines a motion detector and a sprayer to try to squirt sea lions when they come aboard. The parts cost about $600, and we're not sure how effective they've been.

We think the idea of having some college kids on vacation running a 'sea lion' patrol is a great idea, particularly since there have been instances where sea lions have simply smashed down all barriers and taken over boats despite the best efforts of the boatowners. Because the sea lion infestation is currently limited to a small area of the lower bay, it would only take a couple of kids in kayaks with water pumps to patrol the whole area. It seems possible that the sea lions would quickly get the message and move out of the harbor entirely to their more natural habitats.


I understand that we can't turn sea lions into some stylin' waterproof sea boots. Really I do, even though they'd look pretty damn nice with Dubarry soles and feel really fine with a nice set of Asics footbeds and insoles. I'm a size 9.5/43. My girlfriend, a size 7.5, wouldn't want a pair either, even though they'd be guaranteed to keep her feet warm and dry for years.

By the way, the seagulls in Marina Bay in Alameda are being forced to become a lot more cautious. Yesterday one of my neighbors was feeding the gulls - some people haven't figured out why their boats become covered in guano - when a blue shark of unknown size rolled up to the surface and scarfed down one of the feathered rats. Maybe Newport needs some predators.

Nick Salvador

Nick - Newport has big problems with seagulls, too. Men, women, surfers, sailors, Dennis Rodman, sea lions, sea gulls - just about everybody and everything seems to be attracted to that high end waterfront community.


I'm sure that most Newport Harbor Patrol boats have fire fighting systems on them, and sea lions hate being hit with high pressure streams of water. Most harbor patrol guys don't have that much to do, so why couldn't they, for a week, try to be very vigilant by hosing every sea lion they see on a boat? What do they have to lose, as it would cost nothing extra? But it would have to be a constant effort for a week or so, not just a single dousing, to really drive the sea lions out. I know how much sea lions hate being squirted because I've seen it when they've come looking for food when I've been driving or docking party fishing boats.

Michael Dias
Newport Beach

Michael - Given the fact that Newport Beach is a busy 10,000-boat harbor, we're not buying the notion that the harbor patrol guys don't have that much to do. Indeed, just last month we watched as about 20 patrolmen on three or four boats moored an old aluminum boat next to ours and, fully kitted out, oxygen tanks and all, spent the next couple of hours practicing putting out boat fires with what appeared to be different materials and different techniques. Putting out a boat fire might sound as easy as peeing on a match, but after watching them battling to put out the fire for about the 20th time that morning, we came to appreciate the importance of technique and training, both to protect property and their own lives.

Nonetheless, a part of their job is to simply patrol the harbor with their boats, something they do on a regular basis. It seems to us they could carry a sprayer onboard - it doesn't even have to be high pressure - and squirt any sea lions they saw on boats. They could leave the full-time effort to college students in kayaks, but is there any reason they couldn't remove targets of opportunity? Of course, for all we know, they do that now. They will not, however, respond to calls from boatowners asking them to go out and get the sea lions off their boats.


I've enclosed a photo of our Tiki Blue, my Beneteau 423, as seen recently participating in the Vallejo Race, the largest inland sailing regatta in the United States. We got third place on Saturday on the way up, and second place on Sunday on the way home. Last week my 'Beneteau brother' Torben Bentsen and I did the doublehanded ocean race aboard his Beneteau 42.7 Tivoli, and corrected out third. Torben and I are geared up to do the Pacific Cup next July, with additional crew of Judy, Torben's wife; Ricky, Judy's son; Ryan, my oldest son; and Gary, a beer can racing friend. My wife is excited also, as she'll be flying to Hawaii.

I used to do a lot of small boat racing out of the Richmond YC 25 years ago, then bought my Beneteau a couple of years ago. I'm really looking forward to the Pacific Cup, as it will be my first long ocean race. But until then, we've got to get ready for the Delta Ditch Run.

Gary Troxel
Tiki Blue, Beneteau 425
Richmond YC

Gary - We love hearing from folks who are passionate about sailing. Good luck in all your sailing endeavours.


Please help! My relatives and I have become obsessed with a non-fiction book that we read a couple of years ago. It was about a missionary, a pregnant woman, and another person who left from either Oregon or Washington aboard a trimaran, bound for missionary work in South America. The trimaran had been built by the missionary. Unfortunately, the boat and crew met with tragedy shortly after the start of their trip, and both the missionary and pregnant woman perished. The book was written by the third crewperson, the only one who survived. If you or any of your readers know the name of the book, please email us.

Should I mention that Latitude is the best sailing magazine that I have ever read, and that I've been reading it for years?

Jim Reaney

Jim - Thanks, but don't mention it. But could you be a little more specific about having developed on "obsession" with the book? Was this tragedy much more gripping than others, was the book particularly well written - what's the deal?


Our family was aboard our Shannon 38 in Key West when we got a call from Richard Wexler, my best friend. He was home early from his Mediterranean cruise and wanted to tell us why. He'd been aboard the Sea Diamond cruise ship that sank after hitting a reef - in the middle of the afternoon! - while entering the cove at Santorini, Greece.

For those of us used to being on boats, it may not have seemed like a big deal because it was daylight and the ship was sinking just a quarter of a mile from shore. But according to Richard, it was really a dangerous situation. The captain didn't alert the passengers of the problem for two hours, not all the emergency systems worked, and the crew was confused. Richard says there was panic everywhere, and he thought he was going to die.

The April 28 edition of The Wall Street Journal had an excellent article on the incident that left two of the 1,547 passengers dead because of the mistake.

Devan Mullin
Points Beyond, Shannon 38
Newport Beach

Readers - Sea Diamond was the first large cruise ship to sink in 14 years. Indicative of today's diminished sense of honor, the Greek captain elected not to go down with his ship.


I agree with much of what Steve Hyatt said in his letter regarding Ken Barnes having to be rescued from his Gulfstream 44 Privateer far off the coast of Chile during what he hoped was going to be a non-stop circumnavigation. Armchair sailors smugly take solace in Barnes' failure because it justifies their own cowardice. They are just 'girlie men' who can only dream of living life with the enthusiasm that Hyatt and Barnes do.

Having said that, as a Pacific Northwest resident, I'd like to add that every year I read about the rescue efforts that must be undertaken to extricate idiot 'mountaineers' from the various volcanoes, who headed off with only Hyatt's recipe of "balls and a little luck." Their self-centered attitudes fail to take into account the fact that the lives of rescuers, volunteers or not, are needlessly endangered because of their small-minded need for self-affirmation. There's also the large financial burden involved in finding and removing their frozen asses, and the grief their loved ones will face if the worst happens. I have great admiration for those with the mental and physical qualities necessary to make a well-prepared, thoughtful, safety-conscious ascent. But I think the guy who attempts a winter climb without proper training or equipment, or full regard for potential bad weather, might do well to keep his extra large testicles warm within his cranial cavity because it is obviously otherwise occupied by only his ego.

I understand the need for adventure and that adventure, by its very nature, involves risk. But I would suggest that those who choose to apply Steve's recipe add one more ingredient - brains.

Steve Sprinkle
Kirkland, Washington

Steve - When we look back at the adventurous things that we've done in our life, there were several times that the only thing that saved our butts was pure luck. And we thought that we'd always done a good job of assessing risk. But adventure necessarily entails risk, and risk necessarily entails the possibility of bad outcomes.


On page 207 of the April issue, you ran a photo of a sailing ship at anchor in the Caribbean, but said you didn't know which one she was. She's the Dutch extreme clipper Stad Amsterdam. I had the pleasure of being a passenger aboard her during an Atlantic crossing earlier this year. We departed Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain, on January 14, with our final destination being Marigot Bay, St. Martin. My journal indicates that, on the morning of January 31, we were anchored off St. Barth, prior to sailing to St. Martin later that day. The photo may also have been taken later in the winter, as the Stad Amsterdam continued to tour the Caribbean.

Tom Nuckton
San Francisco

Tom - We took the photo on January 31, a particularly lovely morning because of all the pink in the clouds for those aboard 'ti Profligate, which was anchored in her normal spot beneath Fort Oscar. Stad Amsterdam was anchored off Shell Beach, looking magnificent. That must have been a great trip across the Atlantic.


Just when we thought that we realized how small the world was, it shrunk some more.

We don't know who wrote the February article about Lone Fox, the classic Robert Clark 65 ketch that is owned by Ira Epstein of Bolinas and now charters out of St. Barth, but please pass this along to him. While recently in Falmouth Harbor bars trying to find a ride for the Antigua Classic Regatta, we bumped into Randy West, who is surely a friend of the Wanderer's. West introduced us to Epstein. I told Ira that I thought I'd met him years before because he'd sailed with "the legendary" John Smith and another friend. "No," Ira corrected me, "I sailed with John and his brother Bruce." Well, I'm Bruce's wife! Ira said that he hadn't seen Bruce in over 30 years. People mistake Bruce for John everywhere we go these days.

My husband Bruce had recently told me the story about Ira coming to the Caribbean for the first time, and how Dana, his college sweetheart, had come months later but broke up with him here. Dana turns out to be famed boat photographer Dana Jenkins, and she was also aboard Lone Fox, along with her daughter Jordan, who is editor of the super glossy Boat International.

Long story, small world.

Jan Hein
Woodwind, 34-ft gaff ketch
Gig Harbor / Caribbean

Jan - Small sailing world indeed. We wrote the Lone Fox story and, sure, we know D. Randy West. Met him in '86 when we did our first Antigua Sailing Week with Big O. He was sailing his catamaran Skyjack, with none other than Doña de Mallorca as part of his crew. We met her for 10 minutes, then didn't see her again for 10 years. We saw a lot of West, though, as our first sail on a catamaran was aboard his Shadowfax, and we've had many subsequent adventures with him. In fact, we've made him an honorary Californian so he can join our West Coast group for the annual January 1 BBQ turkey feast at Auburge de la Petit Anse, St. Barth.

Speaking of Lone Fox, the day after Ira took possession, she was booked for a fashion shoot. The model turned out to be Brazilian supermodel Giselle Bündchen, and the shoot was of Victoria's Secret spring collection. Anybody seen that yet? To prove it's a small world, Victoria's Secret is owned by Leslie Wexner, whose beautiful 315-ft motoryacht Limitless was anchored nearby for much of the winter. Built in Germany, Limitless was the largest motoryacht in the world for about six years and, in fact, started the whole mega powerboat craze that continues unabated.

But now for the important stuff - did you get a ride on one of the 62 classic yachts, and if so, how was this year's Classic Regatta? By the way, Ira Epstein's friends will be delighted to learn that Lone Fox was second of nine boats in Class D. Chalk one up for the yacht center of Bolinas!


Could I get a copy of the picture of Margaret Rintoul screaming along to use as background on my computer? I would love it, and so would my 82-year-old mother.

Eduardo Ruffat.
Vallejo / Oakland Riviera

Eduardo - What a strange request! If we're not mistaken, you're casually asking for a photo we took a quarter of a century ago, for god's sake, of what was a Frers 55 or something from Australia? What made the photo interesting was that she'd just set her chute at the windward mark of a Clipper Cup Series race off Diamond Head in very strong winds, and was screaming down the face of a wave, spray flying from both sides of her hull. It was such an exciting shot for its time that North Sails bought the rights to the photo to use in some of their ads. But if the truth be known, it's a rather dated shot. It was in black and white, and because it was an overcast day the exposure wasn't that hot. In addition, compared to the spray thrown by today's much faster Volvo 70s and such, it's not all that exciting. If you want to take the time to search our archives, be our guest, but we think you might be disappointed.

There were actually five Margaret Rintouls built for prestigious international events such as the Sydney to Hobart, Admiral's Cup, Clipper Cup and so forth. Who was Ms. Rintoul? It turns out that she was a domestic servant in Glasgow back in the late 1870s, who could neither read nor write. She had a daughter who, after World War I, married an Australian soldier named Edwards and moved to Oz. The descendants went on to found the well-known Rintoul construction and interior design company which even did the fitments for the Australian Parliament Building. Although the family surname had always been Edwards, Stan Edwards, who campaigned most of the boats, said they used the name Rintoul for all their boats and businesses because it had always brought them luck. So that explains that.

The mystery is why your 82-year-old mother would love a black & white photo of a boat, surfing off Honolulu, named after an illiterate domestic servant who lived in Scotland more than a century ago.

As you can see from the accompanying photograph, our extremely fond memories of those wonderful Clipper Cup days 25 years ago ultimately forced us to dig into the photo archives ourselves. We hope you like the shot, which is actually a little more dramatic than we remembered. By the way, it's our opinion that the Pan American Airlines Clipper Cups of '82 and '84 were, in many respects, the zenith of offshore yacht racing. A lot of relatively average people could afford to enter competitive boats, the racing itself was terrific, and just about everybody was an amateur. It was like yacht racing's version of the Summer of Love in San Francisco - something special the likes of which won't be seen again anytime soon.


I first met Jake Wood, who passed away last month, in the fall of 1973. Skip Jordan, a yacht broker in Marina del Rey, had called and told me that Jake had just bought a C&C 61 he would name Sorcery. I didn't know too much about the flush deck boat, but knew it was on the East Coast. I had been racing for four years at the time, loved the long distance races, and had six Mexican races, three Big Boat Series, and the '72 Tahiti Race under my belt. Being single and an L.A. County fireman allowed me to take off and pursue sailboat racing at its best.

Telling me that Jake was planning to do the Southern Ocean Racing Conference - a Florida event that, at the time, was the height of competitive offshore racing in the States - Skip told me to come by his new Newport 41 the next weekend to meet Jake and see if I could be crew. When I climbed aboard Skip's boat, he introduced me to Jake. We shook hands, and he offered me a beer like the one he had in his hand.

As the beer was coming, I looked Jake over and thought, "He looks like a country bumpkin!" He was wearing a pair of double-knit yellow pants, the loudest Hawaiian shirt that I'd ever seen, and black shoes with white socks! He picked his words carefully, speaking rather slowly between sips of beer and lighting Parliament cigarettes. We talked about his new boat and his future racing plans. I was starting to get excited, as a 61-ft custom racing boat was rare on the West Coast back then. We had Ken DeMuese's Blackfin, which I'd raced on in the '72 SORC, and the famous TransPac winner Windward Passage, also 73 feet. And Theo Stephens of Stephens Brothers in Stockton had Lightning on San Francisco Bay, but we didn't haven't any 60-ft racing boats in Southern California. Enthused, I asked Jake about his travel plans for the crew, how the guys get to Florida, and whether he was going to buy the plane tickets.

Jake took a drag on his cigarette, put his right hand on his chest, extended his forefinger straight up into the air, and looked me right in the eye. "Ugh! I don't buy plane tickets." Needless to say, I was a little taken aback. The year before, Allan Blunt and I had flown a red-eye to Tampa for the circuit and the fare had been $100 - a lot of money in '72. Since Jake had been so forceful in expressing himself, I figured the meeting was over. But the yacht broker in good old Skip came out. He said, "Wait a minute, Phil. Don't you drive a VW bus?" I said that I did. Then Skip told Jake that he was going to need a vehicle to carry sails and extra gear around Florida and do things like buy food for the crew. "Jake," he said, "why don't you cover Phil's expenses driving his VW to Florida, then use it as a boat van." Jake thought for a minute, looked me in the eye, and said, ""Hmm . . . I'll do that." We shook hands and that was that. It turned out to be the start of my 17-year involvement with Jake's Sorcerys, which would take me to Mexico, Hawaii, Tahiti and Japan, and back.

Jake was a genius in the sense that he could look at some broken metal piece and make a replacement. If he had a tape measure or a pair of verniers, he would measure the part, never writing the dimensions down, go back to his factory, and make a new part. When he got to the boat, he'd say, "Try that little baby." It would always fit, and be better than the original.

Jake was also the most patient man I've ever met. When we left Hawaii to race to Japan in '75, Timmy Ray stole the toilet seat from Jake's head. Jake never forgot, and carried a tube of instant glue in his pocket for five years, waiting for a chance to repay Timmy for his transgression.

After the SORC in '74, Jake decided to do the inaugural Nassau to Jamaica Race. Bob Dixon and I remained on the boat in Nassau between events to watch over her and get her ready for the next race. In those days, we crew paid our own way to and from the races, so we had very little money. As such, we proceeded to eat everything there was to eat on the boat. When Jake returned from California two weeks later, he had to have the cook restock the entire boat - and wasn't happy about it. "If you guys would stay out of the bars," he told us, "you might have money to eat - know what I mean?" he said. Jake wasn't cheap in any way, but the way he viewed it, he provided the boat to race on and the crew needed to pay their own way."

We went on to win the race, tearing through the Windward Passage at 16 knots with a 1.5 chute up and getting in some good surfing. We finished off Port Royal at 5:30 p.m., and the pilot boat escorted us into Kingston Harbor and to the guest dock at the Royal Kingston YC. We were met by several hundred members of the club and three cases of Appleton Rum. Jake had a huge grin and was very proud of our performance. The boats that finished after us had to anchor overnight, as the pilot boat crew went home at 6 p.m.

I got a call from Jake in August of '75. It went something like, "Strauss . . . you want to go to Japan"? Jake, who would race his boat anywhere anytime, had accepted an invitation from the Japanese to race from Honolulu to Okinawa as part of their Expo '75. So in mid-October we took off across the Pacific to Japan with a crew of 13, including Jake. We arrived 22 days later, crossing the finish line in front of the six Japanese boats. We were given a hero's welcome, and were put up for the night at a very fancy hotel. On each of our beds were these beautiful house coats that are known as 'happy coats' in Japan. How were we supposed to know that they were only for wearing around the hotel and that we were supposed to leave them when we checked out the next day? That afternoon we were called to a crew meeting by Jake. He stood us up in a line, looked us over, and said, "OK, where are the happy coats you guys swiped from the hotel?" Jake was very big on maintaining a good image, and not insulting our hosts. Of course we returned them and all was forgiven.

We stayed in Okinawa for two weeks, and during that time Mr. Lane, the Ambassador-at-Large in the Pacific, brought various dignitaries to visit the boat and meet with Jake. But Jake wasn't much on formalities, and would rather have a few beers with the crew or other sailors. One day Ambassador Lane stopped by and told Jake that the Russian Ambassador would like to see his boat. Jake stopped cold, looked the American Ambassador dead in the eye, and said, "No Commie S.O.B. is coming on my boat!" That was typical Jake Wood.

Phil Strauss
Geumes Island, WA


Your reply to my comment on why I voted 'no' on the photo of Lisa Zittel for the May cover of Latitude was way, way off the point. As I remember, the question came about because you had taken a picture of a girl who had been crewing on your boat, and the girl asked, "Was the photo good enough to be a cover photo?" Lisa being married, me being married, sailing lifestyles, Mexico, other sailing magazines, Lisa's father's feelings, mother-in-law's feelings, and Lisa's father had nothing to do with the question. It was really a simple question of whether readers, such as myself, thought it would be a good photo for the cover. My answer was no, I didn't think so.

I still say that if a talented photographer took 100 pictures of a girl in a bathing suit, the one that appeared on your cover would rank about 75th out of the 100. There is, of course, the fact that I'm part of a generation ahead of you that has taste and does not live by the 'anything goes' or 'if it feels good, then do it' approach to life. It's that '60s mentality that has brought on the worthless TV and news reporting you have complained about.

The fact that I'm the only one to have voted against using the photo does not hold water either, as it's been shown that for every single vote there are 100 others who share the same opinion, but simply didn't bother to make their feelings known.

Robert Zimmerman
Zim, H36

Robert - We apologize for misconstruing the reasons for your objection, but have to confess we're still not sure we understand the problem. Last month we thought it was because Lisa was only wearing a swimming suit and therefore not leaving enough to the imagination. But this month you tell us that a photographer more talented than we are - something not at all difficult to imagine - could have taken many photos of the same subject in a swimming suit, and almost all of them would have been more tasteful. Tasteful in what way? By having Lisa wear one of those new burka-style swimming suits developed for Muslim women? By having her strike a much more sedate pose? If we hadn't been driving the boat with the chute up while we were taking the photos, we're pretty sure we could have done a better job. We'd have had Lisa throw her head back more, eliminated the shadow on her face and neck, had her twist her torso so her hips faced the camera at a slightly lesser angle, and had her extend her left leg a little further forward. It would have been a better photo, but we don't imagine it would have been any more tasteful to the '50s generation. But that's the best we could do.

As for things like sailing lifestyles, Mexico, and the other things mentioned, of course they are pertinent. If, for example, we'd been taking photos of Condi Rice for a State Department publication, we wouldn't have shot her in a bikini on the seagull striker of our catamaran - because it would have been completely inappropriate. But in the case of Lisa, who was crewing on our boat, and who was wearing what's commonly worn on sailboats in the tropics, what could have been more real and appropriate?

While we're sure there are a few others who share your opinion, we've still yet to receive another complaint.


At the next photo shoot for a Latitude cover, will you please remind the delightful young lady who was the model to remember high heel shoes, fishnet stockings and a gggarter belt? Oh man, I can't even say that word without stammering!

Lyn Reynolds
San Jose

Lyn - What is it with you more senior guys? The photo on the cover is of a healthy, vivacious, athletic, fun-loving crewmember dressed appropriately for an afternoon sail in the tropics. What would high heels, fishnet stockings, a garter belt and stammering have to do with it?


Congratulations on a tasteful May issue cover - a wonderful photograph of an athletic woman on a sailboat. Your description of the 'test marketing' you did - to see if the bluenoses or the politically correct crowd objected - was interesting. But still, one person did object.

As a couple who raised athletic kids - who are now raising athletic kids of their own - we can assure you and all your readers that we consider the May cover picture to be in good taste and very ladylike! Women do not long for a return to Victorian crinolines and whalebone corsets! An objection to a cover photo of a fit woman clad in a bikini - such as is commonly seen on any beach in the world - is all the more remarkable given our society's increase in obesity and our Puritan inability to feel comfortable with the human form - especially one that is aesthetically pleasing. Congrats for showing good common sense both in running the cover shot and in your gracious reply to the objector.

Les & Sue Polgar
Tonopah, C&C 37

Les and Sue - We're glad you liked it, but now it's got us wondering if we couldn't have done a better job. Maybe a little steamier but a little more "tasteful" at the same time. What do you say Lisa, shall we try it again for next May's cover?


My wife and I would like to sail our Catalina 28 through the Golden Gate and up to Pt. Reyes, anchor for the night, then sail back the next day. We're wondering what would be the best time to leave the Bay - during the flood, ebb or slack? And which would be the best time to return? In addition, can you recommend a route? Based on looking at the charts, the Bonita Channel might be the way to go.

Grady Leaver

Grady - We're going to give you more information than you asked for, but that's just the way we are. Because it's just you and your wife on a relatively small boat, we're going to assume that you're making the trip for pleasure, not to prove anything in particular. Based on that assumption, the most important thing you can do is have an alternative destination in case it's blowing 25 knots and there are 10-ft seas outside the Gate. If it's too rough, you can just bail on the ocean and sail up the Petaluma or Napa Rivers, and still have a great weekend of sailing.

The other thing you want to do is get a relatively early start, like by 9 a.m. As such, we recommend you spend the night at Pier 39, Angel Island, Richardson Bay or some other place near the bridge.

Because it's going to be a relatively long sail on a 28-ft boat, we suggest trying to pick a weekend where there's a pretty good ebb between 8 and 10:30 a.m., which will whisk you right out. If there's any wind that early, it's going to be wetter and bouncier than if the current were slack or flooding, but that's much better than having a flat water flood holding you hostage inside the Gate.

During the big swells of winter, waves break all the way across the Bonita Channel and onto the rocks of the Marin Headlands. That's unlikely to happen until next fall, so unless there is a very large swell - in which case we'd recommend you sail up the Petaluma River instead of going to Pt. Reyes - you can use the Bonita Channel. But if you're riding out on a nice ebb, it wouldn't make much sense to sail out of it too quickly. From then on it's just going to be a beat up to Pt. Reyes.

The return trip is straightforward and, because it will almost certainly be downwind, should be much quicker and more pleasant. In the slight possibility that a large swell has come up, you'd want to be careful about using the Bonita Channel - or even being on the Potato Patch. But in a small or moderate swell, you can sail straight in. There's no real point in worrying about the state of the tide, because you'll round Pt. Bonita and sail into the Gate whenever you do. If there's a strong ebb in the center, you'll want to work the flooding countercurrent on either the north or south shore. If it's flooding, just sail right down the middle - keeping an eye out for ships, of course.


I thought Latitude readers might like to hear about 1in3Trinity, a completely new kind of energy drink that will fuel your body in a wholesome way! 1in3Trinity is a faith-inspired, fashion and lifestyle branded company that now makes an energy drink perfect for all-day regattas - or just an extra boost in your engine.

While the 1in3Trinity line is designed to empower Christians to be bold in their faith and confidently reflect the Fruit of the Spirit to the world, anyone, regardless of their faith, can enjoy the tasty combination of pomegranate and grape. You can take 1in3Trinity with you anywhere - on the Bay, to the yacht club to watch the America's Cup races on television, or served over ice at home to get the crew pumped up for the race later in the day.

Emily Larsen
Three Girls Media and Marketing

Emily - We're basically secular consumers, but thanks for the offer to try your products. Our readers might be interested to know that your media and marketing company are also responsible for - we're not making this up - Holy Chocolate, and managed to get Miracle Oil product-placed in a recent issue of Penthouse. Somehow the image of a copy of the Bible next to a copy of Penthouse on the bedstand rings a little strange.


In response to Tony Badger's letter about wave period, I have to say that he was correct and that your editorial response that it was nonsense was not. Wave period does have much to do with how a wave will react, and your response that a one-foot swell, regardless of period, could never be an issue is false. Take the case of a tsunami, which in the open ocean will normally only displace a few feet of vertical height, but will have a wave period of thousands of feet or even miles. The tsunami wave is quite benign until it reaches shallow enough water where it can drag on the bottom and pile up on itself and go vertical due to the huge volume of water behind it.

In less dramatic fashion, we had a swell here a year or two ago from a huge storm in the South Pacific. When the swell got here, it was about six feet at a 25-second period, yet it produced huge waves in the south-facing bars and harbors. However, it was almost unnoticeable in open water.

To say that a long period between swells equates to a safe passage overall would be irresponsible - especially for those having to transit bars or other shallow - less than 50 feet - waters. There is no hard and true rule when it comes to wave dynamics once you factor in the influence of the bottom, as there are too many variables. Did I mention the current? At this point, only experience and knowledge of a particular area's dynamics are key, yet you're still never going to know for sure. All factors must be considered before determining whether any particular route may be safe given the conditions.

But one thing is clear - a long wave period is as much a factor in the creation of a breaking wave as is the wave height, once the bottom is involved. The reaction can be determined by a mathematical formula, and both the height and period are significant factors.

Captain Mike Giraudo
Fishing Luhrs

Capt Mike - We think you're getting confused as a result of mixing apples with oranges with tomatoes - the open ocean swells being apples, tsunamis being oranges, and waves caused by swells hitting shallow water being tomatoes. The results are as predictable as trying to make a bloody mary using orange or apple juice.

Tsunamis are much more like tidal surges than open ocean swells and waves peaking/breaking in shallow water, in part because they travel at close to 500 mph on the open ocean yet usually can't even be felt. Up until about 20 years ago they had always been referred to as 'tidal waves', a term no longer used because it's so misleading. The case of a tsunami hitting Mexico's Tenacatita Bay about 15 years ago illustrates another of the differences. The first thing that happened was that the ocean receded about 200 feet all around the bay, which allowed locals to rush out and pick up disoriented fish floundering on the now-dry bottom. A few minutes later, the tsunami surge came in at about the pace of a normal person walking, and continued about 200 feet further inland than normal. The water went out and came back in a few more times in less dramatic fashion, than resumed its normal level in relation to the shore. As we all know from the tragic Sumatra-Andaman tsunami a few years ago, tsunamis can get much bigger than the one that hit Tenacatita Bay, but they still have significantly different characteristics than the waves surfers ride on California beaches.

Similarly, open ocean swells aren't like waves peaking or breaking on shallow bars or beaches. You can see that by standing on a beach for 10 minutes observing that the swell that doesn't break in deep water becomes a breaking wave in shallow water.

Having hopefully made those distinctions clear, we'll say it again, all other things being equal, the longer the wave period, the more pleasant the ocean sailing conditions are likely to be. You can prove this to yourself and your friends. The next time it's '8 by 16' - 8-ft waves at 16-second intervals - down at Pillar Point, take some friends out on your boat and motor into the seas for an hour. Then the next time it's '8 by 8' - 8-ft seas at 8-second intervals, motor your boat at the same speed for another hour. We'll bet you a salmon that your friends make you turn back in less than an hour, and that you'd be all too happy to comply.

As for the supposed 25-second period between waves in the swell from the "huge South Pacific storm" a few years ago, that's literally off NOAA's graph for the possible period between waves.

On a somewhat off-the-point but lighter note, the highest ocean waves believed to be reliably recorded were by the USS Ramapo, a US Navy oiler, in the North Pacific in 1933. During a seven-day storm on their way from Asia to San Diego, they measured waves that were 112 feet peak to trough and had a period of 14.8 seconds. Thanks to the relatively long wave length - about 1,200 feet - the 478-ft oiler was able to ride with the monsters without suffering any structural damage. However the laundry detail reported an influx of an unusually high number of soiled shorts.


A friend in Washington forwarded me a recent Latitude item about the inaugural Singlehanded Farallones Race back in 1977. I skippered my family's Piver cruising trimaran Harmony to second across the finish line behind Bill Lee and his 67-ft ultralight sled Merlin. It was definitely a race not to forget, as it was the most challenging race I'd ever been in.

With three decades having passed, I thought it was time to touch base and give an update on what's happened to us and Harmony since you took photos for an article on us at the Napa St. Pier in '77. In November of that year, my wife Mary, our seven-year-old daughter Amy, and I set out on our cruise across the Pacific, which began with a 21-day passage directly to the Marquesas. We then did the 'Milk Run' down through the Society Islands and across to Suvarov Atoll, where we stayed about a month. The lone occupant, Tom Neale, had been evacuated from the island months earlier because of a terminal illness, and his home and belongings were exactly as he had left them. We then proceeded to Samoa, Fiji, then Australia. We settled in Brisbane.

We still have Harmony, and she's still going strong, although presently she's up in the backyard waiting for me to pull the engine for a rebuild. She will be 34 years old from her launch in Novato this June 3. Thanks to an unusual modification, Harmony is now 3.5 feet longer than the 30 feet she was when she was launched.

When our daughter was born in '81, a 30-ft trimaran proved to be a little too small for us. Since I didn't have money for a new boat, my solution was to chainsaw the tri in half athwartships, and add about 3.5 feet to the midsection. It was all done by rule of thumb, but proved to be successful - as shown by our taking the Queensland Multihull Cruise/Race championships for two years in a row.

I worked in my trade as a wood boatbuilder and multihull builder for several years while doing some marine survey work. In the mid-'90s I converted to full-time marine surveying, which I've been doing since. I have been an active member of the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors since '02, and am in daily contact with other surveyors in the Bay Area and around the U.S. who keep me informed of developments. I even have a Profligate T-shirt which I wear on appropriate occasions.

We are happily settled in the Brisbane suburb of Hemmant, near the mouth of the Brisbane river, and we love it here. I try to get back to the Bay Area every year to do professional training and visit my relatives, who reside in Larkspur. I don't see many Latitudes these days, but it has always been a very informative read.

Paul, Mary, Amy & Jessie Slivka
Brisbane, Australia

Paul - It has been a long, long time, and we recently got you confused with your brother, and the Brisbane here in the States with the one in Australia. Duh! Anyway, we're pleased to tell you that you can follow Latitude via the internet by subscribing to our eBook feature. Just click here.


The April Latitude had a short item about a Parade magazine article that listed what are supposedly the 10 Worst Inventions Ever. Coming in second was the Jet Ski.

However, a recent experience of mine has taken them off my list as "the most criminal sport on the water." I was motoring our Pearson 22 into Santa Cruz Harbor powered by a Johnson 6-hp outboard. Just as we got between the two jetties, the ends of which are probably less than a couple of hundred feet from each other, the outboard died and would not restart. Although both the wind and current were light, they were from the same direction, driving us toward the western jetty. While my partner continued to work with the engine, I hailed the closest vessel on the water - which happened to be a Jet Ski. The operator immediately came to our assistance, putting his Jet Ski between our Pearson and the jetty when we were less than 10 feet and 10 seconds from the rocks. Not only did he spin us out of the danger of contact, he positioned himself to tow us into the marina.

We secured a bridle to the Jet Ski from our boat, and put my partner on the back of the Jet Ski to oversee the lines. In addition to towing us into the marina, the operator took us to the Upper Harbor, which is where our slip is, first allowing us to lower our mast over him in order to clear a local bridge. He brought us into our slip at a perfect speed, then departed immediately with a cheerful wave.

That Jet Ski operator saved us from possibly having to jump onto the jetty to prevent getting a hole in our boat, and certainly from embarrassment. I'm not only grateful for the assistance, but the experience put Jet Skis and Jet Ski operators in a better light. I hope we learn to work with them cooperatively so that we can all have fun out there.

Mike Faulk
Gitana Azul, Pearson Electra
Santa Cruz

Mike - There is no doubt in our mind that there are some courteous and helpful Jet Skiers out there. It's all the others who bother us. We've never understood why people with PWCs behave as though there's nothing anybody would rather do than watch and listen to them roar around in circles. If you're one of those folks, here's the deal - none of us really want to see or hear you, so could you please do it away from us?


While in the satellite fax section of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) website, I learned that our illustrious government and the Coast Guard are considering closing down the HF Weather Fax system due to the cost of replacing antiquated equipment that is either beyond repair or for which no spare parts are available. After reading about all the Puddle Jumpers in a recent 'Lectronic, I thought you might want to comment on it.

If this service is discontinued, I, for one, will find it very hard to make the passage again, as I could not afford the alternate methods of getting weather faxes today. I did a South Pacific 'Milk Run' in '97-'98, and am getting Mouse Pad ready to do another next year. But I couldn't have completed my first trip in safety and comfort without the daily weather faxes transmitted by NOAA.

By the way, it's only taken me 10 long years - during which time I got divorced, had a heart attack and got plain lazy thinking about all the fun I'd had in the past and not about the future - to get my act together. While recovering from my heart attack in the summer of '05, I decided that 2007 would be my last in the United States. With or without a female partner, I'll be leaving for the South Pacific again, but this time I'll be continuing on to Malaysia, Micronesia, and eventually to the Mediterranean. The last time my 'jump off' point was Cabo San Lucas, but next time I'll sail directly from San Diego to the Marquesas.

In any event, I encourage everyone to email their comments on HF weather faxes. The full document can be reviewed at

Phillip J. Seaman
Mouse Pad

Readers - Jim Corenman, who circumnavigated with his wife Sue aboard the Schumacher 52 Heart of Gold, and who is the co-founder of SailMail, addresses the government's proposal to eliminate HF radio faxes in this month's Sightings.


I love your magazine's online content and am an avid reader. I particularly enjoy the letters from your readers, your responses, and the Changes section. Because you've brought me many hours of pleasure, it causes me great dismay to read your skepticism of a human-induced component to global warming. I certainly respect the skeptic in you, but within the scientific community, the debate is over. And not because we're all left-leaning touchy-feely sorts or have some other 'politics' creeping in to the science. The debate is over because hundreds of scientific articles by scientists in dozens of disciplines support the ideas that 1) the earth has warmed at an unprecedented rate in the past century, and 2) a significant portion of that warming is attributable to anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

This information is summarized in the latest IPCC report (see I urge you to take a look. Yes, the earth has gone through many natural climate cycles, but the current warming is decidedly not a part of any natural variability. At this point, the naysayers consist of a perhaps a half-dozen, vocal critics who are largely supported by oil companies who effectively act as their lobbyists. They call for doing nothing in the face of what is potentially the greatest challenge civilization has faced. If you want to find politics in the debate, you are looking on the wrong side of the fence.

Stephen Burns
Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA

Stephen - Our skepticism is all but gone, but you'll recall that, even when we were skeptical, we were in favor of a number of no-brainer CO2-limiting measures, in part because they also align with the geopolitical interests of every citizen in the U.S. and the country as a whole. For example, we vowed that our next car would be a 49/mpg VW diesel, and we can't wait for them to be available. For both geopolitical and environmental reasons, we can't understand how anybody can buy a car these days that doesn't get well over 30 miles a gallon. Sure, there are going to be a number of obvious exceptions, but for most of us it's inexcusable to enrich those who want to destroy us and not take advantage of the easiest way to limit emissions.

We also stated that, after the most recent generation of mega sailboats, which had already been in the hopper before climate change came to the attention of most everyone, we can't help but cast a jaundiced eye at new megayachts. As fantastic as they might be in many respects, how can they - like very large new homes - not be in bad taste? The worst of all, of course, are the mega motoryachts, which the yards simply can't build fast enough to meet the unprecedented international demand. How do new owners look themselves in the mirror without laughing, particularly the ones who claim they built the boats to "help save the oceans" and the planet. That makes about as much sense as Laurie David, the Queen of Conservation, flying around the country in her husband's private jet to warn the little people about the effects of excessive consumption, and Al Gore, the High Priest of Conservation, living in a house that had a gas and electric bill of $30,000 a year. If you want to be a leader whose message is taken seriously, you've gotta walk da walk, not just talk da talk.

We also think there's a huge danger in the voted-for-Nader-in-'00-and-cost-Gore-the-election type idealists who are dead set against proven and potential technological solutions - such as nuclear power, developing oil sands and coal as clean fuels, trapping CO2 and all the rest. The notion that the world is going to be able to conserve its way out of the climate change problem strikes us as being absurdly wishful thinking. Even if every American suddenly switched to 50 mpg cars and reroofed their homes with solar panels, it's not going to come close to offseting the fact that there are hundreds of millions of people who are in the process or have come out of extreme poverty in places such as China and India. The wealth of the world is migrating from the U.S. to the East, and the exploding demand in China and India for transportation, housing, travel, electronics - and every other kind of consumption - is going to far outweigh any conservation efforts we Americans can mount. And if anyone thinks one billion Chinese are going to deny themselves the very basics of life just to prevent a few islands from slipping beneath the waves of the Pacific, they don't have a clue about human nature. We're not saying that we Americans shouldn't conserve, but rather that tech got us into this climate change problem, and it's going to have to get us out. As such, environmentally as well as politically, these are extremely exciting times.

In reality, cutting back on consumptive things that aren't important to you isn't hard. For example, the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca care a lot more about boats than homes, so when a San Francisco YC family suddenly needed a three-bedroom, two-bath home while their own home was being remodeled, we gladly moved into the cool granny unit that used to be a garage - and have come to love the utter simplicity of it. There's no room for anything but the basics, so we don't buy anything. Ah, the joys of the slightly more simple life.

(By the way, the San Francisco YC couple moved into their new house, so if anyone, preferably sailors, is looking to rent a completely rebuilt - vaulted ceilings, wood floors, two environmentally unfriendly fireplaces - three-bed, two-bath home in Tiburon, email Doña. This is a total kiddie neighborhood situation, and the elementary and middle schools are not only brand new palaces, but the school district is among the top in the state.)

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