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September 2007

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I've got a little more on the 'liveaboard gang' that keeps their boats in the anchorage at Clipper Cove. I've spoken to a few of them about the fact that they are taking up the best anchoring spots available in the cove, leaving the rest of us — who work hard to pay for a slip in a marina the rest of the time — to anchor further out in the wind when we get to visit for a couple of days. I mentioned that I also wanted to be able to enjoy the nice spots in the cove. Their response was that no one should be paying slip rents, that all the waterways should be free to all, and that everybody should be able to anchor wherever they want for as long as they want. They also said that, because they got there first, they have every right to stay put.

So as you can see, their mentality is that of the typical radical hippie boater type, and you can't reason with them. For them, the concept of having a job and keeping your boat in a marina when you're not using it, so others can enjoy the cove, makes no sense.

So good luck to anyone who wants to use the Clipper Cove anchorage but them. And the next time you see kids swimming along the shore, know that these people have no holding tanks and/or service that comes by to empty them. Everything they 'deposit' goes into the waters of the cove, which doesn't get flushed out that well during the changing of the tides. I haven't seen any floaters yet, but I think it's just a matter of time.

Frustrated Boater

F.B. — Our view is that the problem is not so much with the 'liveaboard gang', but crap government. Clipper Cove remains under the authority of the Navy, but they left long ago, and no other law enforcement agencies have stepped in to fill the vacuum on a regular basis. What makes it funny is that the Coast Guard, which is charged with enforcing environmental laws, has a base at Yerba Buena that is, what, an eighth of a mile away?

Of course, the selective enforcement of the law is nothing new on Northern California waters. As anyone who has kept a boat on Richardson Bay knows, boat registration, and safety and environmental laws only apply to boats in marinas, not boats/derelicts anchored out on the other side of the channel. We're not positive how boats anchored out acquired sacred cow-dom status, but have been told that a few years ago John Burton, then the California Senate Pro Tem and second most powerful man in California, simply handed down an edict like he was the Pope and Richardson Bay was Italy. We've never understood why the anchorage hasn't been renamed in his honor.

Mind you, we're not against boats being anchored or moored out on a semi-permanent or even permanent basis — as long as it's done in an orderly manner and the boats involved comply with basic navigation and environmental requirements. It's done in many places around the world and works well. When it's done helter-skelter, as is the case in Clipper Cove, the results are all too predictable.


I've just returned from a two month trip aboard Cheyenne, a 50-footer that started life in '76 as a Kiwi-built Whiting 45. She's been heavily modified and stretched to 50 feet. We had a wonderful sail from Los Angeles to Mangareva, then up through the Tuamotus to Fakarova, where I got off.

I'm writing because of an incident that happened while anchored for two days in the lagoon at Amanu. Having arrived late in the day, we anchored about a mile west of the entrance channel. We were in 40 feet of water, and the anchor was set well. That night the breeze filled at 25 to 30 knots from the southwest, putting us on a lee shore. The anchor held, but in the morning we decided to move to a calmer anchorage on the other side of the lagoon. We found a lovely spot with a big sandy patch in 15 feet of water. But when we raised the hook the following morning, all that came up was chain!

It turned out that the allen head machine bolt on the swivel between the chain and anchor had backed its way out on the anchor side. We'd been using this swivel for the last five years, and had anchored many times between Canada and Mexico. I'm not sure who made the product, but the allen head machine bolts are nicely set in so there is nothing to bind on the bow roller. The problem is that it's held in by nothing but being under tension, and there is no way to pin or wire the bolt in place. We may replace the bolt with something that can be wired or pinned.

After retrieving the anchor, we asked ourselves what would have happened if it had let go in the stronger winds the night before. I guess we were lucky, as I read of the same thing happening to another boat with a swivel problem. They were in more than 15 feet of water, however, and lost their anchor.

I guess it's just one more thing to add to that long list of 'check on me's'.

Dave Fox

Dave — We just purchased one of these types of swivels — there are several designs — from Baja Ha-Ha sponsor Quickline USA. It works much better than our previous system, but we have to admit to casting a jaundiced eye at the bolt held in place only by the fact it's under tension. We can conceive of situations in which the bolt would come out of tension, come out of the swivel entirely, and our boat could end up on the rocks. We're talking to owner Randy Boelsems about ways to pin or wire the bolt, in which case we'd be completely happy.


On July 9, I sent the following message to the U.S. Coast Guard Web Mail:

"On the morning of July 6, 2007, I was sailing the Oakland/Alameda Estuary on my 27-ft sailboat. I was stopped twice by the Coast Guard for 'impeding the right-of-way' under Rule 9. There was no commercial traffic in the area, just similarly sized sail and powerboats. When the Coast Guard red inflatable pulled alongside, it was just after I tacked away from a dock and was heading on a starboard tack. The only traffic in the area was another small powerboat that changed course. The Coast Guard official said he 'didn't care what I had up there,' referring to my sail. When I asked what I should have done to avoid hitting the dock, he replied, 'Throttle back.' I explained that I didn't have an engine and was sailing. His reply was that I 'should have altered course' — which I thought I had done.

"Rule 9 applies to narrow channels and commercial vessels with limited draft. But in this case there was no question about commercial vessels, as none were in the area.

"I have talked to several other mariners in the area, and they all feel that the Coast Guard's action was not correct. I've been sailing in this area for 30 years and have never had such an experience. But I'm sure it's happened to others and will happen again.

"I have always been a supporter of the Coast Guard, the Auxiliary, and am a member of the U.S. Power Squadron. But this behavior on the part of the Coast Guard ruined a good day of sailing."

I received the following reply from the Coast Guard:

"Thank you for contacting the USCG Navigation Center. Your inquiry has been forwarded to USCG Sector San Francisco for further action. For further communication on the matter, please contact Sector San Francisco at 415-399-3523."

I never heard from anyone again. I would have at least expected an email explaining the situation.

Ron Spitz
Sandpiper, O'Day 27

Ron — You should have gotten an explanation that read something like this:

"Dear Mr. Spitz: We're sorry about the incident that occurred on the Oakland Estuary on the morning of January 6. Rule 9 states that a vessel of less than 20 meters in length or a sailing vessel — that would be you — shall not impede the passage of a vessel which can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway. Since there were apparently no such vessels in the area, the Coast Guard crew that stopped you were in error. We apologize for their mistake. In addition, the crew should have known that, by having sail up, your boat had the right-of-way over powerboats that have no trouble navigating in the Estuary. We promise to review the rules with our people on patrol so that such mistakes won't happen again. Sincerely, Admiral Big Cheese, United States Coast Guard, Washington, D.C."


This letter comes from a 23-year-old woman looking for her place in the world. I currently live part-time on my parent's boat in sunny San Diego, but I am looking for something more. I want to be a part of a great adventure. I may not be the most experienced sailor, but I think that I have a lot to offer. I'm a former preschool teacher, and currently hold my CA Multiple Subjects Teaching credential. If there is anyone out there wanting to take their family on an adventure who is looking for someone to join them to help with their children's schooling, I would be perfect for the job. I'm a kind and fun-loving person. I'd be willing and wanting to share the sailing responsibilities, as well as be there for the children and family.

It's hard to explain it all in a letter, but I'm doing my best to network. I want to combine my two passions in the same life — my love of travel, sailing and adventure, and my passion for teaching.

If you have any suggestions as to how I can get this out to the sailing community, I would greatly appreciate the help.

Planet Earth

Erin — Based on the assumption that you really are ready to walk the walk, we have just the program for you. Like all hard-core sailing adventures, there is an element of risk in it both ashore and at sea, but that comes with the territory, particularly when you're a young woman and just starting out.

If you've already got a little bankroll — say $4,000 — stashed away, you should spend all your time between now and November 1 sailing at every possible opportunity. It doesn't matter if it's a beer can race, helping deliver a boat up to Newport for nothing, or whatever, just get on every moving boat you can and soak up as much knowledge as you can. If you don't have a $4,000 bankroll, don't worry about it, just split all your time between now and November 1 making as much money as you can and sailing as much as you can. Forget the guys and forget hanging out with friends — you're in boot camp for your Great Sailing Adventure. Three months from then, they're going to be doing the same old, same old. You'll be living life to the max, and likely be having a social life the likes of which you've never seen before.

On November 1, catch a flight to Spain, then make your way to Palma de Mallorca. Have some good little posters of yourself with some nice photos, then hit all the marinas, boatyards, and crew hangouts. Try to befriend women your age who are already on boats. We don't suppose we have to warn you about guys. Take darn near any job you are offered — it will likely be day work cleaning the inside of big boats — at almost any rate. Sure, you'll get rejected a bunch of times and/or taken advantage of, but so what, you'll be learning at every step and you'll be making your way into the relatively small group of people who travel the world on boats. Once you get a foot in the door of that world, getting the rest of your body in will be easy. What's more, once you're in at one place, you're also in at much of the rest of the sailing world.

A tip on working. There are lots of half-hearted, unreliable, hard-partying workers in the sailing world, particularly at the lower levels. If you stand out as not being one of those, you'll be noticed quickly and more likely get the better opportunities sooner.

Why not just put your name on a million crew lists? Because being on the spot is 90% of the battle. Any captain will tell you that a willing boatworker who is right there on the dock is worth a hundred boatworkers who are somewhere else. All it takes is being in the right place at the right time a couple of times and you're in there.

If, after 10 days in Palma, you're still not finding what you're looking for, fly to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands on November 11, where, two weeks later, some 225 boats will be leaving on the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers to St. Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean. It's the same drill as in Palma. Get your poster up, go to all the many events, be gregarious, and befriend as many people on boats as you can. If you're a 23-year-old woman who is really willing to work, there's no way you won't get offers. Naturally some of them will be of the 'with benefits' nature, but you don't have to put up with that crap. Always wait a day or two before accepting an offer, as it will give you time to ask a lot of questions about the boat and crew in order to make a better evaluation.

If you can't get a ride for the ARC, you'll have to seriously evaluate what you're doing wrong. You can still fly to Antigua in December and give it a third try, but if it comes to that, you just might not be cut out for that kind of life.

On the assumption that you'll get multiple offers for the ARC, pick the one with the most knowledgeable crew, then be a sailing-knowledge sponge all the way across the Atlantic. That way, when you arrive in St. Lucia in the middle of December, you'll have 3,000 ocean miles under your belt and should know how to be a real asset on a boat. As a result of the crossing, you'll have scores of new sailing friends with whom you've shared a major life experience. A number of these friends will be on boats that will need crew to head up or down island. If you liked the ride you had across the Atlantic, stick with it. If you didn't — jumping ship at the end of a passage is as normal as tradewinds in December — find a boat heading to Antigua or St. Martin, the two compact and busy sailing centers of the Caribbean. Along the way, and when you get to either place, you'll see lots of familiar faces and boats, and shouldn't have any trouble finding some kind of job that will at least keep you fed and having fun. It will be the beginning of the Caribbean season, and you'll want to participate in as many events as you can — the New Year's Eve Race and Party in St. Barth, the January Classic Regatta in St. Martin, the Heineken Regatta in St. Martin in March, the BVI Spring Regatta in March, Carnival whenever that is, Antigua Classic Regatta in early April and Antigua Sailing Week at the end of April and in early May. By the time the season is over, you'll have shared many great adventures with hundreds of people you never met before, many of whom will be your friends for years to come.

With the end of Sailing Week in April, you'll have a big decision to make. Boats will be looking for crew to the Northeast, the Med and the South Pacific. You can pick one of those destinations or decide that you've had enough and return to the normal life in California. No matter what you decide, you'll have just experienced six of the most memorable months of your life.

As we said in the beginning, there will be some dangers and risks. Since we don't know you, we have no idea if you're mentally and physically ready for the challenges, so you'll be on your own in more ways than one. But we can assure you that this is the classic way for people — such as Doña de Mallorca — to hook into big sailing adventures.

It's possible to do the same thing in the Pacific, but there aren't anywhere near the same number of opportunities or large boats which offer the kind of situation you're looking for. Good luck — and don't forget to write.


We're heading to Mexico again this winter, but a bit after the Baja Ha-Ha as we want to stop a lot along the way. One of the places we want to stop is Cedros Village on Cedros Island. Do you know if we need a visa ahead of time? Ideally, we wanted to wait until Cabo to get ours so as to postpone how long it would be before we had to renew it. We got our visas in San Diego prior to the '03 Ha-Ha, and nearly didn't get a renewal.

In the last year or so you published the names of some antennas that were said to help pick up WiFi signals from greater distances. Do you remember the name of the products?

Tim Harmon
Luna Sea, Irwin 37

Tim — Cedros Village is a port of entry with a Port Captain and an Immigration office at the airport on the south end of the island. So if you stop there, it's likely you're going to have to get a visa and start the clock ticking on your 180 days. You're likely to run into the same problems if you go into Mag Bay. As you know, those doing the Ha-Ha won't have to get visas until Cabo, as the two stops, Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria, are not ports of entry.

As for the latest on WiFi and antennas, check out the following letter.


My reaction to John Navas's Tapping Into Shore-Based WiFi article that appeared way back in the April issue is: "It's sure going to keep me very busy next year!" Since I retired and we started cruising in '04 — and did both the '04 and '06 Ha-Ha's — I've been very busy helping folks with their radios, computers, WiFi connections and other technoid stuff. I've seen all kinds of WiFi set-ups, including those described in the article. In my opinion, the article may seduce some people who are outfitting their boats for Mexico into spending a lot more money on equipment that they won't be able to keep running once they're away from the geek who set it up for them.

I've seen quite a few boats with permanent installations with Ethernet client bridges that just plain don't work in the real world of cruising. Remember, you'll be moving from place to place, and you will need to be able to connect to a wide range of shore WiFi access points, all of which are set up differently! This also means dealing with a wide range of methods used to control access. Most client bridges have problems with some or all of the access control methods, and some just plain don't play well with strange access points. There are a few totally open and free access points, but not enough to rely on. Based on anecdotal evidence only, I would go so far to say that, of all the client bridge installations I've seen, most don't work!

Here are some examples of the wide range of access control methods:

1) The Vallarta YC at Paradise Village uses the MAC address of the WiFi adapter as its access control method, which is the hardware address unique to every WiFi adapter made. The easiest way to get it right is to look at the printed sticker on the adapter. Folks who try to look it up on the computer often give the club the wrong address. This same approach is used by Rick's Bar in Zihuatanejo.

2) At the Isla Navidad Marina in Barra de Navidad, you get a 'ticket' with a secret code at the concierge desk at the Grand Bay Hotel. These tickets are good for a specific time frame — one hour, 24 hours, a full month — from the time you first connect. This requires that you go through a curious log on process with your computer. Similar techniques were used at Marina Palmyra in La Paz the last time we visited.

3) Other locations use secret encryption keys that you need to set in your WiFi adapter's configuration.

I strongly recommend avoiding the investment in a boat-wide internet access Ethernet client bridge and other complex gear — unless you're geek enough to thoroughly understand it, reconfigure it, figure out how to connect to strange access points, and generally keep it running. This gear can also cost quite a lot. I've seen installations that cost well over $1,000.

I suggest keeping it simple. We have and use both of the following: the Hawking Technologies $60 HWU8DD. As mentioned in the article, it comes with a six-ft USB cable. I recommend getting a 10-ft extension cable, putting it in a Zip-Loc baggie, and putting it on top of your boat's cabin — or better yet, on top of your boom. If it's windy, put a soft SCUBA weight or something similar in the baggie to keep it from blowing around. And take the unit in when you're not using it and overnight to keep it out of the dew.

If you're going to be at anchor a lot, consider Netgate's $200 EUB-362-EXT Marine Kit. This comes with a higher-power USB adapter and an omnidirectional external marine antenna. With this set-up, you can run the antenna outside and keep the adapter down below out of the elements. You can mount the antenna permanently if you want, but we just run ours up a halyard when we're at anchor. We used this set-up when we were anchored in Tenacatita, and could occasionally hit an open access point in four-mile-distant La Manzanita.

We found that the combination of these two adapters works best in the variety of circumstances we've seen. We have yet to find a place where a permanent installation with a client bridge works and either the Hawking or Netgate doesn't. In San Diego, for instance, there were too many access points around Shelter Island for the omnidirectional Netgate setup to work. We saw over 40 of them online, and half were on WiFi channel 6! We had to use the Hawking and aim it at the access point we were using to have any success at all. At anchor away from it all, however, where we swing around, the Netgate works great. In those situations the Hawking is troublesome, as it won't stay aimed in the right direction.

By the way, I don't own stock or have any interest in any of the companies mentioned.

Bill Finkelstein and Mary Mack
Raptor Dance, Valiant 50
Paradise Village Resort Marina, Nuevo Vallarta


I've read with interest your articles on elderly people who still sail. Never did I realize that, at age 77, I am one of them. Nevertheless, on January 2 I'll be sending my Little Harbor 62, currently at the San Francisco YC, through the Canal to the East Coast. I plan on spending a year with her there, mostly in the Bahamas and Charleston.

By the way, does the publisher of Latitude 38 still remember doing the Long Beach YC's Long Beach to Cabo and La Paz Race in December of '81? I still remember us on my Cheoy Lee Offshore 47 Pericus and the publisher on his Freya 39 Contrary to Ordinary with all those girls, becalmed near Catalina after a small front came through, just after the start.

John Alden Williamson
Pericus, Little Harbor 62
San Francisco YC

John — We remember being briefly becalmed next to your Offshore 47 off Catalina as though it were yesterday, although we can't remember whether it was at the beginning of the '81 Long Beach to Cabo and La Paz Race or the '83 Long Beach to Cabo Race, both of which we did. We do, however, remember being glad that neither of us had done the '79 Long Beach to La Paz Race, in which just six of the 21 boats finished because of one of the worst storms ever in the Sea of Cortez.

As luck would have it, we just came across the program for the Long Beach YC's '83 race to Cabo, and it had a wealth of interesting information. For example, the 937-mile race to La Paz started in '65, back when we're certain the 'city of peace' was nothing like it was today — or even was 20 years ago. We note that you started doing the race back in '71. As we paged through the program for '83, we were surprised at the number of folks who are still in sailing: Jeff Madrigali and John Jourdane who were on Brooke Ann, Tom Leweck on Heat Wave, Sam and Pete Heck on Mimi B., Mike Campbell and Rob Wallace aboard Cambell's Cal 40 Murphy's Law, Mike Priest on Rodeo Drive, Doug Baker and Bruce Nelson on Baker's sled Saga, Norm Devant on Salsa, Craig Fletcher on Aleta, Dennis Choate on his Brisa, Bob Lane on his Medicine Man, and Dick Deaver on The Shadow. We also note with pleasure that we'd apparently nipped you for second in PHRF in the Cabo Race the year before — although you did cream us after the upwind leg to La Paz was factored in. Great times!

IS 86 THE NEW 45?

Maybe you can help us with a problem. Last year I designed and began building a 28-ft trimaran. I hope to have it finished by November or December of this year, trailer her to San Carlos, then sail her down to La Cruz in Banderas Bay. Unfortunately, this means there would be very little time for serious 'big sea' trials. I've designed and sailed bluewater monohulls across oceans, but have no previous experience with multihulls. And at age 86, like my wife, I'm a little apprehensive given this lack of multihull experience to start in the Sea of Cortez with an untried vessel.

Although I'm an avid reader of Latitude 38 , I haven't kept up with the Baja Ha-Ha folks this year, and wonder if you know of any trimarans in the Ha-Ha where I might sign on as crew. I think it would be worthwhile for me to do the outside route south prior to taking my own boat south inside the Sea. I've done the former trip three times on monohulls already, two of my own design, and I'm in excellent physical health for my age — my balance and strength aren't what they once were, but are adequate for the normal duties expected of good crew — and I would enjoy making the trip with someone else. Where can I look for crew positions?

Jack and Muriel Taylor
'The Dancing Sailors'

Jack and Muriel — Congratulations, you've just set a record. Prior to your letter, the oldest people we knew who started construction on a new sailboat was a couple in their early 80s. It's true that theirs turned out to be the spectacular 155-ft Vitters-built ketch Timoneer, but the same principle applies.

As far as finding a crew position on a boat heading south, we'd highly recommend that you add your name and bio to our Mexico-Only Crew List, and check out the list for Skippers Looking for Crew list. This new online list is much more dynamic than the old lists we used to publish in the magazine every October, allowing skippers and crew to add info and even remove their names when they find a berth/crew. All the forms and instructions can be found at here. Good luck!


I want to pass along a possible solution to folks who are bothered by sea lions coming aboard their boats and making a mess, a topic that has been much discussed in Letters of the last two summers. What I'm referring to is the Scarecrow Sprinkler, which is available from Real Goods of Hopland, CA. You can view the product at

Here's the description from their catalog: "Hook the Scarecrow Sprinkler up to your garden hose and stake it. The smart motion sensor detects an intruder up to 35 feet away, and sends a full pressure blast of water right at it. It switches off immediately, using a conservative two cups of water per discharge. You preset the detection area (protects a 1,000-sq. ft. area) and sensitivity to prevent triggering by household pets. Sensor sensitivity is automatically dampened in windy conditions, to avoid false triggers. Up to 1,000 discharges on a single 9-volt battery (not included). Reinforced nylon stake with sturdy step and hose flow-through. 24 in. high overall." The retail price is $89.

Although it's designed for a garden or yard, I'm sure it could easily be adapted for a boat, perhaps even hooked up to one's washdown system. The solution is based on the fact that sea lions hate to be sprayed with water.

Jerry LaCroix
Planet Earth

Jerry — It sounds like a possible alternative to the one suggested by the folks in Newport Beach, which runs almost $700. It would be necessary, of course, for the boat to be hooked up to shorepower or have the batteries charged on a regular basis.

It should be noted that last May the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) came up with a list of harbor seal and sea lion "deterrents" that are legal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Some things that are allowable might surprise you, such as paintball guns, rubber bullets, fire crackers, propane cannons, slingshots, cattle prods, super soakers, pepper spray and the like. But before you run out and buy a paintball gun and play Rambo with the sea lions and harbor seals, here are some things to remember:

1) You can only use these methods if you own developed waterfront, decks, floats, docks, piers, bait receivers or have a vessel on a mooring or at anchor that is being threatened.

2) If you seriously injure a sea lion or harbor seal, or injure bystanders, you'll be in a heap of trouble.

3) The use of suggested deterrents may be in violation of local laws and regulations. For example, before loading up on fire crackers or paintball guns to discourage seals and sea lions from coming on your boat in Newport Harbor, you're going to want to clear it with the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

For details on NOAA's suggestions, visit


In your reply to a letter on page 52 of the August issue, you say that you are the only ones who have consistently pushed for multihulls to race in the America's Cup, but that's not quite right. I've been doing so for a long time. But since I lack your excellent bully pulpit, you may not have heard my feeble voice.

The closest it came was after the dumb Michael Fay 'big boat' versus Dennis Conner's Stars 'n Stripes catamaran mismatch in 1988, when a new race rule was in the works. I was — quite out of place — at a Newport, Rhode Island, gathering of yachting movers and shakers discussing what had to be done. Every time I mentioned multihulls, the reaction was either a frozen silence or instant derisive dismissal. They wanted change: their change.

As Larry Ellison has recently illustrated, to the America's Cup people, a multihull is only useful to rescue them from an embarrassing rule interpretation. History repeats itself while a few of us continue to enjoy our fast sailing.

Dick Newick
Newick Nautical Design

Dick — We're happy to stipulate that you favored multihulls for the America's Cup long before we did, but as you were on the East Coast for most of those years, we didn't hear your voice in the pre-internet days. As you've probably read, the BMW Oracle challenge calls for boats that are 90 feet long and 90 feet wide. A lot of people seem to interpret that as calling for catamarans. Correct us if we're wrong, but wouldn't 90' by 90' more accurately describe a trimaran rather than a catamaran, for the beam on the latter are usually 50% or less of the length?

For readers not familiar with Newick, he started on multihulls in the Caribbean, moved up to the Northeast, and became one of the most influential and successful multihull designers and builders ever. He's designed over 150 multihulls, many of the plans for which can be purchased at


I read with interest Mark Johnson's August letter in which he expressed his shock at being expected to pay property taxes on property — a government-owned marina — that he doesn't own. I keep my boat in Los Angeles County, where I rent my slip from the city of Long Beach, which owns the marina. My slip is taxed by the Los Angeles County Tax Assessor, and I have to pay that tax.

As Johnson stated, I don't see why I should have to pay the property tax for property I don't own. It smells like an illegal tax to me, so I've copied the Howard Jarvis Tax Payers Association to see if I can pique their interest in fighting it.

Bob Daniel
Huntington Beach

Bob — The downside of fighting such a tax is that, if you win, the city could just raise the slip fees accordingly to cover the tax they would then owe to the county. And they'd probably add another 10% for their trouble and to discourage troublemakers such as you.

Incidentally, Dennis Williams, who parks a plane in Sacramento, says that Sacramento and most other counties assess property tax on those who rent space for plane tie-downs. It's called a 'possessory interest tax'.


I am planning to take my Jeanneau 41 Snow Goose south from Puerto Vallarta to the Panama Canal, and then onward to Florida or the Caribbean area. I would like to begin November 1, after the end of hurricane season, and would appreciate advice on the best times to do this and, after transiting the Panama Canal, the best route and times to complete the journey. I'm not in a particular hurry and would be prepared to park my boat as required. So far I've consulted sources such as Charlie's Charts of Mexico, J.A. Rogers' Cove Hopping South to Panama, John and Pat Rains' Cruising Ports: Florida to California via Panama, and David Wilson's A Captain's Guide to Transiting the Panama Canal.

I want to know if it makes sense to leave Puerto Vallarta about November 1. The main concern, I gather, is to get past the Gulf of Tehuantepec by waiting for a good weather window at Huatulco, then sticking close to the beach. Ditto for Papagayos.

Should I park my boat in Panama, say at the Panama Canal YC on the Pacific side, as mentioned by Wilson, to wait for winter northers to abate in the Western Caribbean? I gather there is no good place to keep a boat on the Caribbean side of the Canal. I also gather the winds in the Western Caribbean can be strong from January until the end of March. On my way north, I'd like to stop at Providencia, cruise the Bay Islands of Honduras, Guatemala's Rio Dulce, Belize, Isla Mujeres and on to Key West. Once in the States, I'd like to continue on up to New York.

Or, would it be better if I pushed on from the Canal to Barranquilla, then head north to Jamaica? This, of course, would involve dealing with the winter trades in the Caribbean. Are there any other options. Would it be better if I didn't start until next spring?

Larry Mosher
Snow Goose, Jeanneau 41
Crested Butte, CO

Larry — You've got a great trip planned, and since you're not headed to the Eastern Caribbean, we think your timing is just about right, too.

Winter is the time to go south in Mexico toward Central America and the Canal, and if you leave right at the end of hurricane season in early November, you'll be giving yourself the maximum amount of time to enjoy the stops along the way. Your only real weather worries will be the Tehuantepeckers, which are easy to predict and therefore easy to avoid. The Papagayos aren't as strong but are less predictable. And because the coast is almost west to east where they blow, you need to take care not to get blown offshore because it will be a heck of a long way back.

The weather can be brutal in the Caribbean, particularly from December through February when the trades are often reinforced. If we were you, we'd try to get through the Canal by the first half of January, at which time you could leave your boat at the new and very nice Shelter Bay Marina across from Cristobal while you briefly return home. Much has changed in Panama in recent years, so beware of outdated guides. For example, the much-loved Pedro Miguel Boat Club, located inside the Canal next to the Miraflores Locks, is no more. You're also going to want to pick a good day or two and sail out to the fabulous San Blas Islands, which are protected from the swell, where you're going to want to spend at least a couple of weeks.

The big decision after San Blas is whether to sail up to Cartagena which, unlike Barranquilla, is a great cruising destination, and then up to the Western Caribbean, or west to the Bocas del Toro, another great cruising destination, and then northeast up the Western Caribbean. You pretty much have to pick one or the other because they are in opposite directions. Leaving from Cartagena gives you a better sailing angle to the Western Caribbean, but it's a longer distance.

No matter where you decide to go next, the Caribbean trades and the Northers coming down from the States shouldn't be as strong or as frequent by March. As such, that's a great time to head north for all the Western Caribbean delights that you mentioned. You can spend a couple of months enjoying the stops on the way up to Key West but, by mid-June, South Florida could pass for a sauna, so you'll want to be on your way to New York.

If you have to return home during your trip, you can leave your boat at any number of places in Mexico, two places in El Salvador, in Nicaragua, on both sides of the Panama Canal, Cartagena, Bocas del Toro, Belize, Guatemala, Isla Mujeres and all up the East Coast. You shouldn't have any trouble getting good weather reports, particularly in the Caribbean where you'll want them the most. Have a great trip!


I read your comments about Chart #1 in 'Lectronic Latitude, and want to report that it's been required on every vessel over a certain size — I can't remember what size — for a long time.

While we were getting ready to do the Baja Ha-Ha two years ago at Marina Village in Alameda, the Coast Guard offered free safety inspections during the weekend boat shows. Since we were shaking down our boat Daydreams after major repairs necessitated by hurricane Marty, my wife thought an inspection would be a good idea. I must admit that I was reluctant to submit our boat to the inspection, but figured it was well worth it for my wife's peace of mind. One of the first things the Coast Guard asked for was a copy of — you guessed it — Chart #1. Digging around in the chart table, I found a copy, which pleased the Coasties. The rest of the inspection went great, too, which made my first mate happy.

One of the best parts in Chart #1 are depictions of the light configurations for various types of commercial vessels and what they might be up to. And there's a bunch of them. Chart #1 is so full of great info that it should be on all boats even if it wasn't required.

J.D. and Crew
Daydreams, Pearson 385+

J.D. — We think you may be confusing Chart #1 with the USCG Navigation Rules which is required on all boats 12 meters (39.4 feet) or longer. Regardless, we agree that Chart #1 is a great resource that every boater should have in their chart table.

Here's something we — and we bet most other sailors — didn't know. Since 2005, every boat with a motor in California has been required to have a decal at both the engine controls and next to the engine exhaust on the outside of the hull warning against carbon monoxide poisoning. The 2004 law was enacted to help prevent deaths caused by 'teak surfing' behind powerboats, but the wording includes all "motorized vessels," including sailboats with engines, which are decidedly hard to 'teak surf' behind. The labels have been sent with all boat registrations since '05. If you 'lost' yours, you can order them online at


I don't know if vessels not heard from in the Bahamas can make the news in Latitude or not, but here goes. It's been five weeks since I've heard from Brit Nick Watson of the 26-ft gray-hulled Joy. When last heard from on June 20, Watson was planning to leave Staniel Cay, head north through the Bahamas, with a final destination and ETA unknown.

Joy is a steel boat with a soft chine and is very strong. She has a 6-hp Yamaha mounted on her stern, but no dodger, bimini or roller furling. She has no name on her hull, but has the following registration on her bow: SSR113740. As for the 6'1" Watson, he has blue eyes and is a very competent sailor.

There haven't been any hits from his EPIRB, but EPIRBs don't always work. Such a long time without word from Watson is highly unusual and is becoming very worrisome. If anybody knows of his whereabouts, please me.

Christine Watson
Clarity, Cal 36

Readers — Just a day later we received the following update from Watson: "Thanks to the Abaco Cruisers' Net in Marsh Harbor, I learned that Valero reported seeing Joy's skipper looking fit and well while paddling his kayak for exercise around Fox Town, Abaco, and was reportedly headed for Green Turtle Cay. I'm so glad that Nick is alive and well, because now I can kill him for making me worry so much about him!"

Over the years — and particularly in the days before satphones and SailMail — we used to get calls from worried spouses, children, parents, and girlfriends about their loved ones being overdue on boats. In the end, not one of them ever had been in trouble, they just never bothered to report that they were well. The funniest of all were the kids, who got so angry with their "irresponsible" parents who didn't keep in touch from their boats. The parents, of course, thought this was hilarious, given all the torment their kids had caused them by not checking in during their teenage years.


Many thanks for your August issue report that the folks on the Albin Vega 27 Lealea made it to shore safely. We'd been on a month-long cruise on the west coast of Vancouver Island and, for weeks, every marine weather forecast we heard from Environment Canada included an alert for the overdue sailing vessel en route from Hawaii to the San Juan Islands. Then suddenly the notices just stopped. We, of course, had no idea whether they had arrived safely, been confirmed sunk, or the Canadian Coasties had just given up on them. We're delighted to read that Chuck and Laura Rose made it back safely.

Gary Wyngarden
Wanderlust, Hunter 37.5
Orcas Island, WA

Gary — It would make sense for authorities to report the disposition of cases of boats they've been searching for, but we have no idea if they do, and if they do, for how long. Does anybody know about this?


There was a time when Latitude 38 could dish it out, and take it, too — and without references to "stupid" or "Beavis and Butthead." In the June issue you'd wondered, "Had any lesbians gone around the world?" To which I responded in the following month's Letters, "Was your inquiry geographical in nature?" I was just poking fun at your staff for the composition of the sentence, and could really care less about other people's sexual orientation. On the other hand, I have clearly offended your feelings about what is and is not politically correct, and to that I say damn that rap music and Starbucks super caffeinated go-fast drinks. Calm down Latitude, don't blow a head gasket, and call off the dogs.

Jerry Metheany
Rosita, Hunter 46
Neither Roeing or Wading, Mazatlan, Mexico

Jerry — You seem to have missed the point completely, as our response had nothing to do with lesbians, political correctness, rap music or go-fast drinks. The hallmark of a Beavis and Butthead 'comment' is taking an innocuous word or statement, hearing it as being sexual in nature, and being excessively amused by it. For example, upon hearing a woman order two chicken breasts from a butcher, Beavis and Butthead would snigger, "She said 'breast', snort, snort, heh heh. Wonder if she's a lesbian? Heh heh."

So when we, having just written about a gay couple's circumnavigation, wondered in print, "Have any lesbians gone around the world?" everyone in the world knew exactly what we meant. It would have been more precise to have substituted 'circumnavigated' for 'gone around', but there was nothing wrong with the composition. Your "Was your inquiry geographical in nature?" response was pure Beavis and Butthead. And yes, their comments are stupid by design. Nonetheless, we thought it was worth publishing, thanks mostly to the clever Roe versus Wade joke we managed to slip in. And by the way, we don't own any dogs.


I read your August 13 'Lectronic Latitude report on the fire and sinking of the Hatteras 68 Grunt at her mooring at Cherry Cove on Catalina. What a loss! It's unbelievable! I spent many days and nights aboard Grunt, which was a beautifully maintained yacht at every level. Greg Grani, her owner, is a great friend and a very competent owner, captain and pilot.

Having spent many hours aboard up on Grunt's tuna tower, it made me so sad to see the photos of the boat on fire and on the bottom. I'd caught many of the catches of my life from that boat. Goodbye ol' friend.

Rel Vrooman
Southern California

Rel — It was indeed a somber Sunday morning at Cherry Cove, seeing the once-magnificent boat on the bottom. Several of the harbor patrol folks and shoreboat drivers spoke very highly of Greg and his wife Debbie, and the way the boat had been maintained and run. The important thing, of course, is that nobody got hurt.
It turned out to be an expensive weekend for insurance companies in Southern California as, just several hours before
Grunt caught fire, the 65-ft powerboat Crescendo was driven onto the southeast breakwater at Newport Beach. She sank in 135 feet a short time later. Given that both boats were probably worth in excess of $1.5 million, it's going to take a lot of insurance premiums to cover those losses.


This July I was on my way from Florida to California, and put into Turtle Bay to top up the fuel for the last leg. There was only one yacht in the anchorage and, while I was negotiating my diesel purchase with the great panga fuel operation there, Mr. and Mrs. Cruiser hopped in their dinghy and came over to do the social thing. Looking at our considerable spare fuel capacity and the three young guys on our boat headed north, they correctly identified us as delivery crew. I didn't say a word, but my crew confirmed that we'd come up from Manzanillo, were bound for San Diego, and would leave as soon as we'd got all our diesel.

"You won't make it to San Diego," Mr. Cruiser promptly declared. "It's going to blow 35 knots. I've been up here before."

I remained quiet, but one of the boys replied that we'd be all right.

"Yeah," responded Mr. Cruiser. "You delivery guys don't care when you break stuff because it's not your boat."

His response is the reason that I'm writing this letter. If it was just this particular cruiser who had aired such a view, fair enough. But in over 10 years and over 130,000 miles of offshore deliveries, I've ended up taking a lot of social calls from members of the so-called cruising community, and far more than a couple of times I've heard the same insulting line that basically says, "It's not your boat, you don't care." The truth is that delivery captains care more than they get credit for, and for a number of reasons:

1) Gear breakage due to stress of weather obviously weakens the yacht and diminishes her performance. It's not our boat, but she still has to take us to where we're going safely. The more that breaks, the more we're in danger.

2) If you don't care, you can't do a good job, which means your reputation will go down the drain and you'll soon be out of work. Unless, of course, by 'delivery captains' these cruisers actually mean any cowboy who can sail a boat and will do it once in a while for kicks. I'm talking about professional delivery captains, not those who just take jobs.

3) Unlike most of the cruisers, who are responsible for their own boats, we are answerable for the safety and condition of boats that we could not afford in a lifetime of work. Taking a half-million dollar yacht you've never sailed before and had only three days to prepare, with an unknown quantity for crew, and gales as well as calms to negotiate, is not all fun and games. Plus, 9 times out of 10, your employer has little notion of what's entailed sailing a yacht 5,000 miles on short notice, and therefore has unrealistic expectations.

Earlier this year, I delivered a catamaran from the West Indies to Richmond in your Bay Area. At one point the owner forwarded me a story concerning a 60-ft cat that was delivered from roughly the same place to San Francisco in a month. His unstated point was that I'd better get a move on. Well, we were 15 feet shorter, with correspondingly less speed and fuel range, with three crew as opposed to six, had no autopilot, and had to deal with several problems the yacht had since I'd delivered her from the shipyard more than 7,000 miles away. But that wasn't a big deal, I was just about to get moving. Just because a "Please, as soon as you can" is added doesn't make it sound less like a "Get a move on" call.

As most Latitude readers know, a cat that was being delivered to the Pacific Northwest in December of last year was flipped off the coast of Oregon, and none of her three crew were ever seen again. The captain worked for the same company I used to work for. There is ample room to criticize his decision to leave with such an unfavorable forecast, but the set of factors that comes to play in a delivery skipper's mind when it comes to making decisions is considerably different from those which influence a cruiser deciding over the same matters. The outcome in that case was horrible, but for every gamble that goes wrong, there are hundreds, big and small, that pay off handsomely.

Now I don't tell the cruisers I meet how I feel about the way most of them just live on boats and call it sailing. I abstain from telling them that they don't really need to spend all that money on security gizmos and gadgets since they are never going to get into any serious weather anyway. And I refrain from saying that I think that someone who can't be trusted to stay on a deck in 15 knots of wind without a harness probably shouldn't be at sea to start with. I rarely point out what a boon the internet has been for worriers and procrastinators, who can always find "something building up there" as a good reason not to take off. It's been great for people who love to look at monitors and listen to radios and other peoples' opinions of the weather more than they actually enjoy being out in the weather and dealing with it.

Nor do I mention that I can't think much of the love some people have for sailing and the sea when they spend 9/10ths of their time tied up or anchored. Or that I'm more impressed by doubled bilge pump capacity and oversized ground tackle than I am by all the lights, blinks, screens, satcoms, deep freezes, televisions and other add-ons. That I hold to the deep belief that despite the great efforts of the industry — that I work in and benefit from — and press, not everyone can be a sailor.

I also know very well that there are plenty of cruisers out there who have sailed far longer and farther then I have, who can sail circles around me, and that some others have far more mechanical, navigation, meteorological, medical and you-name-it knowledge and experience than I, and that I'm as likely as the next man to make mistakes. We're not in a competition of any kind, as the seas are still largely free and all should be free to do it their own way. I wish good luck and great joy to all, regardless of how people choose to do their sailing/boating. But the next time you meet a delivery crew and feel inclined to visit, please show some respect by not making the 'you don't care, it's not your boat' comment.

By the way, we left Turtle Bay after we got our diesel, never saw more then 25 knots of wind on the way to San Diego, and didn't break a thing. I was on a plane heading to my next boat while Mr. Cruiser, according to his own stated plan, was still anchored in Mexico, waiting for his 'weather window'.

Jorge Ventura
RYA Yachtmaster, Delivery Captain

Jorge — It's hard for us to understand why you would care what Mr. and Mrs. Cruiser think of the way you handle your professional responsibilities. What you're doing and what they're doing are worlds apart, and based on a five-minute encounter, their knowledge of you, your crew and the boat you are delivering is slim to none. Besides, we can't tell you how many times we or Doña de Mallorca have taken off with Profligate when others expressed concern about the weather conditions. After last year's Ha-Ha, for example, a number of sources said it was going to blow 25 to 30 knots on the nose on the way from Cabo to Puerto Vallarta, which resulted in many boats delaying their crossing. For them, it was probably the right decision, and we'd never criticize it. But de Mallorca figured that 25 knots on the nose was well within what she and Profligate had experienced many times before, and therefore was no reason to stay in port. They made it to Puerto Vallarta without ever seeing more than 15 knots. It's up to each skipper to get the best weather information, then make their own decision about what's best for them and their boat. Unless it's an obviously lunatic decision, we agree with you, people should keep their opinions to themselves unless asked.

As for owners not understanding why it takes so long to get a boat from Place A to Place B, we do, having done it plenty of times ourselves. Sure, we've known of cases where delivery skippers bringing a boat from the Caribbean to the Bay Area have paused in Costa Rica for a month to do some on-the-side day charters to pad their wallets, but with professionals, the delays tend to be real.

As for the month delivery from the Caribbean to the Bay Area by the cat referred to, it's no doubt the time three years ago when we sailed Profligate from Antigua to Panama, after which Doña de Mallorca and her volunteer crew brought the boat the rest of the way to San Francisco. Making that 5,000-mile trip in just under a month is not something anybody should take as being anywhere near the norm. After all, we had 12 crew for the fast tradewind trip from Antigua to Panama. Then we paid a $2,200 premium because we had to get through the Canal the next day as opposed to the next week. Finally, Doña de Mallorca then pushed the big cat relentlessly for 3,737 miles in just 19 days, making just five short stops for fuel and two overnight stops. She benefited from mostly benign conditions, particularly on the last leg from San Diego to San Francisco. Originally we'd intended to stop in Southern California for a month to wait for good weather, but when she and the crew got to San Diego, Commanders Weather gave her 47 hours of mill pond conditions going north. Not about to look a gift horse in the mouth, she and her tired crew hauled ass north in calm conditions, not seeing any wind until Montara, just 15 miles shy of the Golden Gate. In all, she and her crew made it from Panama to San Francisco at an average of over eight knots — stops and all — which is truly amazing.

If we were to deliver 'ti Profligate, the R&C 45 catamaran that we have in a yacht management program in the British Virgin Islands, from the Caribbean to the Bay Area, we'd figure on two months for the trip. And if it actually took three months because of a combination of engine problems, breakdowns, Canal delays, crew problems and other factors, we would not be surprised.

We know there are a few cushy yacht delivery jobs, but by and large it's a very tough way to making a living, which is why we have the utmost respect for the real professionals.


I'm just reading the August Latitude 38 and feel compelled to respond to Lyn Reynolds' letter about the smile on the face of the model who was holding up some phones in a photo in Sightings. Your response to him was right on.

I'm a mature woman of the '50s or earlier era, and have been reading — and very much enjoying — Latitude since its inception, when I was living in Squaw Valley and didn't even have a boat. In all those years I have never seen or read anything in Latitude that I thought was offensive or disrespectful to any gender. Latitude is the greatest sailing magazine going, so keep up the good work.

Roswitha Hutson
Paradise Express
Puerto Vallarta and Big Bear Lake, CA

Roswitha — We appreciate your support. We pride ourselves on being cheeky and playful from time to time, but not disrespectful.

While we've had some tiffs with Lyn Reynolds recently, he and his wife Tessa are a very interesting couple, so we were saddened to read the following letter.


Six weeks ago, while sailing off Angel Island in heavy weather with my wife Tessa, I was hit in the head by the boom. Days later I was taken to the hospital emergency room with a massive brain hemorrhage. We are now putting April Dancer, our Fairweather Mariner 39, up for sale. We plan to return to our family in England. Therefore, we wish farewell to all the delightful people whose company we have treasured, and bid our last farewell to San Francisco Bay. It's been a wonderful 30 years, and our hearts will be here forever.

Lyn Reynolds
April Dancer, Fairweather Mariner 39
San Jose

Lyn — We're very sorry to hear about your injury and the news that you'll be leaving. We wish you a full recovery — and pleasant sailing in Old Blighty.


Please pass the following along to all Pacific Puddle Jumpers and others thinking of taking their boats to Australia: It is imperative that everyone learn and understand the latest rules and regulations of Australian Customs, and learn them at least 96 hours prior to entering any Australian port. Failure to observe the '96 Hour Rule' may result in your arrest and fines of between $3,000 and $16,000, plus 'court costs', which may exceed $20,000!

Don't believe it? Well, it happened to James and Dorothy Manzari, an American couple. They were operating on written — but outdated — yacht entry instructions given to them by an Australian Consulate! It also happened to Bram and Magda Goedhart, an elderly Dutch couple. A magistrate fined them less than what the Manzaris were required to pay "because they aren't rich Americans."

For details on these and other Australian Customs horror stories, go to, and follow the instructions. The Coastal Passage even provides email addresses for Australian officials so that you can get their side of this squabble. I regard The Coastal Passage and Bob Norson, the editor, as Queensland's counterpart to San Francisco's renowned Latitude 38 and its publisher.

Miles B. Lewis
Miles Ahead, Ericson 39
Alamitos Bay

Miles — Thanks for the kind words and yet another heads up on the situation in Australia. Readers need to understand that the Australian rules are strict and, depending on one's communications systems and the weather, can be very difficult to comply with. We note that certain parts of the cruising world seem to be going through a period of much greater regulation than in the past. Australia, Ecuador and Panama are all making life more complicated and expensive for cruisers.


For reasons that will become obvious below, I'm a little embarrassed to write this letter. I was bitten by the sailing bug about 30 years ago when I met Mike and Rebecca Greenwald, authors of The Cruising Chef, at tiny Marsh Harbor in the Bahamas. When I heard their stories of cruising in the Med and observed their lifestyle, I became infected. Since then, this dream has festered on, and has been the end of one marriage and another serious relationship.

I like to create paradises, and have done so with two properties in Sonoma, the last one being a 35-acre parcel in the hills outside of town. For the first year we had no electricity, took outdoor showers, had kerosene lamps for lights, and used an outhouse. We did have propane systems for hot water and a fridge. For the next six years, I used solar panels and car batteries to run a 12-volt system that I wired myself. We used a diesel generator to pump water from a deep well and to power a pump to push the septic uphill to leach lines. We finally got PG&E, but the only reason we needed it was to avoid hauling the big generator around.

My point is that I did all of this myself, in addition to having all the usual animals and gardens of a small farm, and putting up fences, building corrals, creating a small lake, and hosting a lot of fun parties. I was a do-it-yourselfer who knew everything about how to make a farm work

Then I literally sold the farm and bought my beautiful Marquises 56 Amani, which is Swahili for peace. I've always seemed to live the life of bigger is better, work hard, but spend all the money as soon as you make it, and don't worry about anything. Well, that's changed.

I had a lot of custom work done to the boat in Seattle — hardtop with solar panels for the cockpit, wind generator, DirecTV, surround-sound Bose, and other things like that. The result is a sexy, luxurious floating condo with an all-wood and suede interior, dishwasher, clothes washer, trash compactor, watermaker, every satellite gimmick you can think of, and even central vacuuming. My cat has a fantastic layout for sailing and a social life.

Needless to say, there is a lot to keep track of with regard to wiring, plumbing, and sailing stuff that I'm not familiar with, such as navigation. I'm having trouble getting my head around it all, which is a new experience to me. Being a total novice at sailing, I worked with some excellent instructors, and got some confidence. Nonetheless, I've learned that a boat as big as mine has a lot of momentum, and overpowering her is a mistake.

I also made a mistake by spending more money on the boat than I made selling my property — I'd planned to pay off all my debts before going cruising — so I've had to continue working.

My plan had been to leave for parts unknown and never come back to what I consider to be the madness of the United States, and California in particular. The Golden State has been ruined by traffic, pollution, suburbs, politics and ignorant government bureaucrats.

What's embarrassing is that I haven't been anywhere with my boat other than San Pablo Bay. Part of the reason is that I'm still in debt, but the other part is that I don't feel as though I have enough experience. I've turned down several offers to go on the Ha-Ha, but haven't felt aggressive enough to find regular crew, and am stuck on wanting to have a female partner in all this. I do love living at an end-tie in Vallejo with sky all around, quiet and solitude. I love sleeping on the water, my only companion being my cat Freddy.

But if you have a boat such as mine, you're supposed to go somewhere. I feel guilty at having such a beautiful boat, not knowing all the systems, and just using it as a floating condo. By the way, I'm a psychiatrist, so I probably get caught up in my psychodynamics. I guess I need to be reassured.

Doug Smith
Amani, Marquises 56

Doug — We don't have to be a licensed shrink to tell you that feeling guilty about something that doesn't harm anyone else is a waste of your time and energy. If you really enjoy just living on the water in Vallejo and not sailing anywhere, stop feeling bad and just enjoy it.

If, on the other hand, what's really troubling you is having not realized you and your boat's cruising potential, we, who know what it's like to own and operate a large catamaran, can tell you it's all a matter of what made-for-dummies movie psychiatrists would call 'baby steps'. If we may be so bold, we're going to outline them for you:

1) Realize how much you've got going for you — specifically, a personal history of self-reliance and a great boat on which to go cruising.

2) Realize that having a luxurious boat with all the goodies can often be an obstacle rather than facilitate cruising pleasure and success.

3) The way to become comfortable with your boat is to mentally restrict yourself to the basics, which are three — that your boat isn't sinking, that the steering system works, and that you have some means of propulsion, be it sail or power. Beyond that, everything else is details. Some of the details are important, to be sure, but you've got to keep your priorities straight.

4) Why you don't accept invitations to do the Ha-Ha is beyond us, as it's a great learning experience, particularly on somebody else's boat for the first time. But the heck with that, let's make your goal to do the Ha-Ha next year on your own boat. Here's how you do it:

a) Despite the fact that your cat is — at 56 feet by 26 feet — so big, she's nonetheless incredibly easy to maneuver because her two engines are more than 20 feet apart, she has integral keels, and always stays flat. Unlike monohulls, you can easily make your cat go circles in her own length and do all kinds of other tricks. Start out by spending two hours a weekend for the next two months becoming an expert at maneuvering your cat under power, with both one engine and two. We've been to your berth several times with our seven-ft-longer and four-ft-wider cat and know that it's a squeeze, making it the perfect place for you to practice. Worried that you might get a few scratches? That's life. No courage, no cruising. After two months of practice and learning from your mistakes, you should have that aspect of your boat's operation down cold.

b) Get comfortable under sail. To do this, go out into the center of San Pablo Bay where there is plenty of room, then, when the wind is blowing less than 15 knots, put just the main up. Don't try to sail anywhere, just see what happens when you do different things — such as let her be on her own with the main in tight, then the main in loose. Will she feather into the wind, tack, jibe or just pick up speed going backwards? Then force the boat to jibe on her own, carefully noting what happens to the main, the rig, the steering and everything else. Then do the same things with the jib up and in progressively stronger wind. The whole goal is to become familiar with your boat's habits so that you know how she'll react in any circumstance. After a couple of months of doing this for several hours each weekend, your boat won't have any more major surprises for you.

c) Get into heavy daysailing mode. Every weekend sail your cat to The Brothers and back. You can take crew, but if you really want to learn to sail and to get to know your boat, don't have them help with anything but making lunch, working the stereo and helping dock. Doing everything yourself is, to our thinking, the key, as it's the only real way to become one with your boat. Sailing in San Pablo Bay is great, because it offers a variety of conditions, from light to very strong winds, from flat water to big chop, and with all kinds of interesting currents. It's the perfect place to practice with a big cat like yours.

d) The next step is overnight sails to places like Clipper Cove, Pier 39, Richardson Bay, Angel Island and all the other spots. Not only will this help reinforce all the things you learned on your daysails, but will help you become proficient at anchoring.

The thing to remember is that adversity is your friend. Engines crap out when you're about to enter the Vallejo Marina? Once you've figured out how to deal with it, it won't be such a problem the next time. Overpowered while beating to weather in 25 knots and don't have the manpower to reef the main? You'll learn to ease the traveller all the way down, flatten the main like a pancake, and feather. Snag the anchor on something that won't move on the bottom of Clipper Cove? You'll figure out a response. It might ultimately be to buoy the anchor and come back later with a diver, or even abandon it, but when the same thing happens to you in some distant place, you'll have been down that road before.

Since adversity is your friend, remember to welcome it.

By next spring, you'll be ready to stick your nose out into the ocean and start dealing with ocean swells, then make short trips up and down the coast.

Navigation is nothing to be feared in this day and age. If you have three independent GPS systems, know how to use your radar, have a depthsounder, and use common sense, you shouldn't have any problem. Particularly if you make a habit of crosschecking the data you get from your instruments and the way you digest it.

Volker and Mai Dolch of the Belvedere-based Marquises 56 Dolce Vita did the Baja Ha-Ha and cruised Mexico in 2002. Volker died of cancer too short a time later. As part of working through the grieving process and also as a tribute to her much loved husband, Mai decided that she would not only learn about her cat, but how to be the skipper. It wasn't easy in the beginning, and there were times of doubt, but she's persevered, doing another Ha-Ha, another trip to Mexico, and still has other cruising plans.

It's common for men to say that when they find the right woman, they'll go cruising. Once they get past their 20s, women aren't that interested in men with potential, they want men who have accomplished something. As such, if they are interested in an adventurous cruising life, they would naturally gravitate toward someone who has a history of competence in that area. You may be able to offer a cruising-positive woman a lot now but, if a year from now, you've gotten your cruising stuff together and are doing the Ha-Ha with confidence, you'll be just that much more interesting and attractive. As women often say, "It's just as easy to fall in love with an experienced sailor as an inexperienced one." Or something like that.

There are two areas we can't help you with. The first is the complicated nature of all your systems. We deliberately kept Profligate simple and non-luxurious because we'd rather sail and have adventures than fix things. You need to work your systems problems out with experts. Or you can follow the lead of Ramon Carlin, who won the first around-the-world race with his Swan 65 Sayula back in the day. Since then, when anything non-critical breaks, he just throws it away or ignores it. He's de-evolved his boat into a simple one. The second thing we can't help you with are money problems. If you're a psychiatrist, you should be able to make a lot of money in the 15 months before the next Ha-Ha, as god knows there are a lot of people around who need help. Making money during the week working to help others, then playing during the weekends to help yourself sounds like a good and healthy plan to us. You could also solve your money problems by trading down to a smaller and less complicated cat.

If you just put your mind to implementing the plan, you have no idea how much pleasure and satisfaction awaits you.

If we sound like know-it-alls, it's because we know how to completely screw up, too. See this month's Sightings.


I have two racing trophies that were awarded to the Farallon Clipper Gauntlett, and would like to know how to contact the present owner. The cups were presented by the Corinthian YC in '55, '56 and '57 for the Midwinter series.

Latitude 38 is one great publication!

Paul Oz
Planet Earth

Paul — Thanks for the kind words. Based on some fast work with our calculator, we determined that at least one of those trophies is over 50 years old. In all probability, you'd need a boat geneaologist to discover what name Gauntlett goes by today — assuming that she's even floating. Given that the current owner surely has no connection with the cups, we suggest that you present them to the Corinthian YC to pass out as special trophies for this year's Midwinters.


While looking at the April 17, 2002 issue of 'Lectronic, I saw the name Angela de Vargas and her photo. That happens to be the name of a relative that I haven't seen for many years. I can't tell for sure if it's her, but it sure looks like it could be. I'm thinking it's likely her because she really enjoyed surfing and because she had some relatives who lived in the San Diego area. My parents used to live in Manhattan Beach, and back when Angela's parents used to live in Monrovia, she'd stop by our house on her way to the beach. If you could help me find out if she's the Angela de Vargas that I'm related to, I would very much appreciate it.

Ted Moody

Ted — We'll be happy to publish your address and if it's her, and she wants to contact you, she can. Good luck.


In 2002, after years of dreaming, I flew off to South Africa with money and cash advances. The South African Rand was quite low at the time, and I was able to score a great deal on a used '94 St. Francis 44 catamaran. Other than a Hobie 16, it was my first boat. Labor was so cheap in South Africa that I went crazy. Even though Birdwing was in pretty good condition, I spent about $30,000 on a major refit — including rebuilding the rig and one engine, putting in new upholstery, cockpit cushions, solar array, wind genny, new genoa, screecher, linens, kitchenware, a surfboard and so forth. In addition, I spent thousands on new tools and spares. I was hoping to charter the cat in the Caribbean until I could afford to go cruising.

Two South Africans and I had a great 6,000-mile sail from South Africa to Trinidad. When I got to the Caribbean, I realized that I'd gone way over my budget and needed to go back to work. I made the assumption that if I put her into a yacht management program, she would be well taken care of and looked after. I chose Barefoot Yacht Charters in St. Vincent.

One of my big concerns had been theft. I didn't think putting Birdwing on the hard was safe, and Seth at Barefoot Yacht Charters told me that all the people with boats in their program were given a secure storage locker for their personal gear. That sounded good to me. Birdwing was with Barefoot from December '02 until June of '06. During that time she grossed about $125,000, of which I received about $15,000. The rest went into maintenance, repairs, cleaning and fees. I figured that $20,000 to $30,000 a year would have been enough to keep her in excellent condition.

But when I got back to the boat in January of this year, I realized that about $16,000 in damages had been done by Barefoot skippers and charter guests. Barefoot's owners, Seth Narendra and Mary Barnard, informed me that they weren't responsible for any of the damage — which included six bent stanchions, a bent bow pulpit, a kink in the port cap shroud, a trashed screecher — which was not supposed to be used at all by Barefoot or their charterers — and a shredded 1.5-oz spinnaker they had billed me about $600 to repair. In addition, there were cracks in both sugar scoops from being backed into docks, damage to deck-to-hull joints from hitting docks, a rowing dinghy full of cracks, a bent boarding ladder, and the galley woodwork had been painted with house paint. But worst of all, they painted the hulls of my boat without asking permission. Not only would I not have given them permission to paint the hulls, but they did a crap job of it, and charged me $3,000! The original gelcoat had been fine, so I can only assume that it had been so scraped up that they had to paint it.

I'm no master shipwright, but is it good practice to glue expensive new teak and holly saloon flooring over the old carpet?

Listen to what Seth says happened to my six-man liferaft, which he'd taken to his house and stored in his garden shed. According to him, the gardener accidentally inflated it, then had to cut it with a knife to deflate it in order to get out of the shed. He refused to take any responsibility for the raft, so I asked that it be sent, at my expense, to St. Martin for repacking. When I got to St. Vincent in January, the liferaft was missing and Seth and Mary said they don't know where it is. So I guess that's gone.

Sometimes things got broken through negligence — such as someone dropping the EPIRB and breaking the antenna. I was billed for that. Another time somebody got a reefing line caught in the wind generator, breaking the blades. I was billed for that, too.

I wish that was all, but it's not. Here's a list of my personal gear and boat gear that was missing from her when she left the Barefoot fleet: a $1,300 bronze sextant in a wooden box; a $150 Baja fuel filter; a $140 Bosche jigsaw; a $150 speargun in a case; a $350 professional pop rivet gun; a $40 metal vice; the $3,500 six-man liferaft; two $500 North spinnaker snuffers; a $100 stainless pressure cooker; a $70 set of wood oars; two new $110 water pumps; a $177 Nico snatch block, a $150 longboard bag, and lots of other items that I could itemize. In all, it was only about $8,500 worth of stuff, but I'd spent months gathering just what I wanted for my boat. I can't help but wonder if Barefoot knew my gear would be stolen by their employees, or was it simply appropriated by the Barefoot maintenance department?

It wasn't until I'd taken my boat away that I realized my beloved Plath sextant was gone. I emailed Mary and asked her where it was. "Please believe me when I tell you that we have no more of your gear," she wrote. But when I called Jasmine, the receptionist, she said she had my sextant under her desk! She asked Mary where it was, as it had recently disappeared, and Jasmine told me that Mary had it at her house. Mary wouldn't respond to my emails to have it shipped to me at my expense in Trinidad, so I had to sail all the way back to St. Vincent to get it.

I was thinking that maybe the employees are so poorly paid that they're forced to steal from boats in the management program to survive. I remember the head carpenter at Barefoot telling me he was making $50 U.S. a day in '05. Shawn Starr, my South African friend who sailed across the Atlantic with me, got a job at Barefoot when I put Birdwing into the fleet, still works there, and is an excellent skipper. He makes $100/day for skippering. It seems a bit low to me.

In addition to all my lost stuff, my boat suffered from a long list of crap workmanship.

I now realize that there were so many red flags that I should have pulled my cat out of the fleet much earlier. One red flag was that, when I questioned them about anything, I would get the run around, no reply at all, or was told to come and get my boat if I wasn't happy. And, on several occasions, Seth told me to keep some information "confidential" — like they had some secrets to keep. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the time off to take my boat out of the program earlier.

I'm happy that the boat was enjoyed in those three years, and I'm happy with normal wear and tear, but the expenses seem excessive, and I'd love to know if others have had similar experiences with yacht management companies. Or was I just naïve?

Vincent Pastore
Birdwing, St. Francis 44

Readers — We've published this long complaint letter, and the following even-longer response letter, not to tarnish the reputations of the owners or the business, but to give folks considering putting a yacht into a yacht management program a realistic idea of the kinds of problems that can arise.


Representing Barefoot Yacht Charters, I'd like to respond to Vincent Pastore's accusations:

His Yacht:

1) In late '02, he contacted us regarding placement of his yacht in our fleet. Contrary to his claim that he "chose Barefoot" he had, in fact, approached other companies, but they weren't interested because his boat was eight years old at the time. When he finally came to us, we accepted him — on the condition his yacht be in perfect condition. As a gesture of goodwill, we waived the first three months of management fees, worth $1,500.

2) With the agreement signed, we started to book the yacht, the first charter to start on 12/27/02. Birdwing didn't arrive at our base until 12/10/02, at which time she was under the command of Shaun Tarr, one of the South Africans who helped deliver the boat to the Caribbean. Tarr told us, verbally and in writing, that Pastore had hired him, at a rate of about $15/day, to "refurbish" the yacht in Trinidad prior to coming to our base. Tarr said that virtually no funds had been made available for parts and repairs, and, as such, much of the work hadn't been done.

3) We found the yacht to be in disgraceful condition when she arrived, completely unfit for charter. We informed Pastore of our disappointment with the yacht's condition, and told him that we had substantial forthcoming charter commitments, and would therefore need to spend significant sums of money in order to bring his boat up to charterable standards. On the basis of deposits that we held for future charters, we agreed to pay for the work and to debit Pastore's account. In just the first six weeks, we incurred $6,814.38 in bringing his boat up to minimum standards to be acceptable to charter guests.

4) Despite our efforts, we had a succession of unhappy charter guests who complained about the tired and worn state of the yacht, and of incessant equipment and system failures caused by age and lack of proper maintenance prior to the boat joining our fleet. In our view, the yacht should have been immediately withdrawn from charter service and had approximately $50,000 spent to bring her to acceptable standard. Unfortunately, we had significant bookings in place and no alternative vessels onto which to place these bookings, and so we had no option other than to continue to operate Birdwing, spending money on her between charters in order to gradually resolve her many problems.

5) Throughout her time in our fleet, Birdwing was a 'problem yacht' with a string of upset clients. The owner was not prepared to invest one cent in improving his vessel, meanwhile our reputation with our charter guests was being severely tarnished.

6) After more than three years of struggling to keep Pastore's yacht in reasonable condition, we finally realized that we needed to withdraw her from charter service, and we gave Pastore a notice of termination of the management agreement. The yacht left our base in July of last year. As a parting gesture, we waived his debit balance of $417.17.


1) Pastore states that he received approximately $15,000 in income when, in fact, we paid him a total of $22,833.94 during the yacht’s time with us.

2) On many occasions, Pastore’s account went into debit of as much as $7,630. We carried that negative balance in spite of the fact that the signed management agreement required that the owner pay any negative balance within 30 days of the invoice. Contrarily, we sent Pastore a check every month there was a credit.

3) When referring to income and costs, Pastore omitted that we paid, on his behalf, a total of $14,905 in yacht insurance premiums, in spite of the fact that the signed management agreement states that the yacht’s owner is responsible for that.

4) Prior to the boat joining our fleet, and on the assumption that it would be in good condition on arrival, we projected that Birdwing would net Pastore approximately $19,000 per annum. Other multihulls in our fleet of similar size and configuration — but in well-maintained condition — have far exceeded these returns. That Pastore netted considerably less is simply due to the abysmal condition of his yacht when we got it. In fact, in March of '05, we sent him the following message: "We have had many good experiences with older charter yachts, but Birdwing was probably in the worst condition of any yacht that has ever joined our fleet. If it weren't for the fact that we already had charter commitments that couldn't be shifted to other yachts, we would not have accepted her. As I explained to you before, if she had arrived here in charter-ready condition, you easily would have netted $20,000 per annum or more."


1) We have a small owner’s lock-up storage on site at our marina. When Birdwing arrived in our fleet, she had enough excess equipment to pretty well fill a ship’s container. We did not have the space on site to store such a vast amount of additional equipment so, as a gesture of goodwill, I offered to store his excess equipment at my own home — without charge. A rented storage facility would have cost him around $100 per month, or $4,300 for the duration of the time the yacht was with us.

2) Our signed management agreement very clearly states that Barefoot Yacht Charters cannot accept responsibility for items stored ashore. I have better things to do than to spend my time keeping an eye on someone else’s yacht equipment that is stored gratis in my own house. There is theft in the islands, and my own house has been broken into twice. There is no way, legally or morally, that I am prepared to accept responsibility for this type of thing. In fact, I should have thought that a 'thank you' from Pastore would have been more appropriate. I’d be surprised if the manager of any other charter company would be prepared to personally transport a yacht owner’s excess equipment to his own home, and to store it without charge for more than three years.


1) Birdwing’s spinnaker and screecher sails were never used by Bareboat Charter guests — we don't allow it. The fact is, the only one who ever used those sails was Pastore's skipper, Shaun Tarr. Indeed, I'm aware of one occasion when Tarr destroyed the screecher and had it repaired at his own expense in Trinidad. When the owner of a yacht has allowed his skipper to take the vessel and to use his personal equipment, we will not and cannot be held responsible for the damages.

The other items of alleged damage to which Pastore refers were addressed by us in the following e-mail sent to him 2.5 years ago:

"We do not intend to pay for the repairs to the pulpit and stanchions. We have already discussed this with you in detail. Neither Barefoot nor our skipper was responsible for the damage. As we have told you before, the yacht was in Union Island in tropical storm conditions, and you should consider yourself lucky that, thanks to the skill of the skipper, not more damage was done. (The extent of the damage was such that insurance would not have covered the cost, as it was less than the deductible. Once again, our management agreement clearly states that we will not be held responsible for Acts of God, and in our view, a tropical storm is just such an act).

"We do not intend to pay for the broken EPIRB antenna. Shaun has no way of knowing if charter guests broke the antenna or not — unless it happened whilst he was skippering the yacht, in which case he should have informed us accordingly, so that the clients could be billed. If he failed to do that, he should be paying for it. We do not intend to pay for the broken spriddle blocks. Once again, Shaun has no knowledge of this, and certainly did not inform us that guests had damaged the blocks. We do not send the yacht out with the bowsprit rigged. It is possible that Shaun has skippered the yacht with the bowsprit rigged. If that was the case, he is responsible for the damage. We have no way of knowing that the swim ladder was damaged by guests. Ditto with the sugar scoop.

"You state that 'other charter companies' confirm that the $15k you have received is 'very low.' We wonder if those same charter companies would feel the same if they knew of the appalling condition of your yacht when she joined our fleet, and of the extensive work that has been required just to get her back to 50% of the condition that she should be in for charter. Our guess is that, like TMM, no other charter company would ever have agreed to operate your yacht in the state in which she came to us. You cannot have it both ways. We will not operate a yacht that is in poor condition that reflects negatively on our reputation. If your yacht had joined us — in accordance with your contract — in fit condition to be chartered, then you would easily have netted the returns that we projected. Our other multihulls do. The bulk of the income that Birdwing generated has been put back into the yacht in order to get her into reasonable condition. And she's still not there.

"You talk about us 'making a nice bundle of money' and you refer to 'a large labour mark-up' and 'expensive parts.' For starters, we do not make any 'large labour mark-up.' On the contrary, if you check your accounts and look at the total labour costs in relation to the amount of work that has been done, we would say that the labour charges have been extraordinarily low. You would have paid ten times that sum to have had the work carried out elsewhere. Regarding parts, you are well aware that parts are very expensive here and that, even when we purchase overseas at wholesale prices, there are freight costs, stamp duty, brokerage and clearance fees, etc. We certainly have no intention of providing you or anyone else with spare parts at cost price. We are in business, not to rip our owners off, but to cover our costs and make a profit. Our other owners understand that. You do not. What you seem to want is to have your yacht upgraded, put into acceptable charter condition and be properly maintained, but not have to pay for it. Sorry to say, but that is totally unrealistic.”

Seth Narendra
Mary Barnard
Barefoot Yacht Charters & Marine Centre
PO Box 39, Blue Lagoon
St Vincent & The Grenadines

Readers — Who is telling the truth in the Birdwing controversy or is it somewhere in between? We don't know, but we think we can make a few helpful observations on the general subject, in part based on our having put a used 45-ft catamaran into a yacht management program in the British Virgins last December.

First, repeat business is a key to a successful yacht management company, so it's critical that a company's boats be in good cosmetic and mechanical condition. So when we wanted to put a R&C/Moorings 45 cat into the BVI Yacht Charters program in Tortola, we worked carefully with the management to make sure that we found a yacht that wasn't too old and that would be acceptable to their customers. As such, we concentrated on cats that were just being phased out of The Moorings program at their base located only 100 yards away from BVI Yacht Charters. This meant that all the cats had been used for charter only, and were less than six years old — two things that BVI Yacht Charters sensibly insisted upon.

Thanks to a Moorings sales rep in Florida who placed his personal interests above ours, we spent considerable money flying a surveyor to look at a Moorings 45 cat in their program in St. Martin. Despite the salesman's repeated assurances that he'd just seen the cat and that she was in superb condition, our surveyor couldn't have disagreed more. He said she was cosmetically in poor condition relative to sisterships and had many mechanical issues — including the fact that she had obviously been grounded, had rudders badly out of sync, had mismatched props, and so forth. We ultimately bought a Moorings 4500 out of the Tortola base. The former Evil Louise had the normal minor issues, but we and BVI Yacht Charters thought she was in more than acceptable condition. Indeed, most of the cabins looked as though they'd almost never been used. Even more importantly, she was given the seal of approval by Tim Schaff, a friend from his days as Dockmaster at Marina Cabo San Lucas. He has since relocated in the Caribbean, where he and his partner not only charter their own Moorings 4500/4700, but have become among the world's experts in the design and the relative value of different ones.

The things that strike us as most odd about the Birdwing situation are: 1) That Birdwing was allowed into the Barefoot program sight unseen. After all, she was eight years old at the time, had seen considerable use as a private yacht, and had all kinds of non-charter gear aboard — three big red flags. And why Barefoot would keep a 'problem yacht' in their program for years is as perplexing as Pastore leaving his boat in a program he wasn't satisfied with.

One thing we know about boats — although we don't know for sure that this applies to Birdwing because we've never seen her — is that once a boat has gone even a little bit to seed, it costs a fortune to try to bring her back, and even then such efforts are rarely successful. While such boats can be bought inexpensively, they soon require large infusions of cash. As such, it's almost always wiser to buy a more expensive boat that's in much better condition, as the total cost can be amortized over many years and there won't be the seemingly never-ending demands for chunks of cash.

When you put a used boat into a charter program, there is a natural inclination to try to add stuff. For example, we bought a bunch of nice tools, which industry experts universally told us was a terrible idea, and which the management company took off the boat. They told us that tools would not only rapidly disappear but that, even worse, they would encourage charterers to attempt 'repairs', invariably with disastrous results. The industry-wide advice is to have nothing more or less on the boats than what's specified in the charter agreements. When it comes to personal stuff, it should not only be removed from the boat for good business practice, but based on our experience, removed from the entire Caribbean. We previously had our Ocean 71 in the Caribbean for a decade, and stuff disappeared from her like crazy. Storage lockers, smorage lockers — we wouldn't leave anything of significant monetary or sentimental value in the Caribbean.

We promised to report how things were going with our 'ti Profligate in the BVI Yacht Charters program, as several readers expressed an interest in doing something similar. It's been six months now, and we're currently showing a credit of about $12,000, although we paid $8,000 for insurance, so it's more accurately just $4,000 in positive cash flow. That's not a great return on $270,000 of capital, but there are two mitigating factors: 1) We got a very late start on the season because we didn't buy the boat until late December, missing the lucrative holiday charters. 2) We used the boat ourselves for six wonderful weeks at St. Barth, which meant she wasn't available for charter during that time, and that we got what, on the retail market, was about $33,000 of high-season use. The folks at BVI Yacht Charters said that we did very well for the first six months, and that we can expect the next 12 months to be even better. We agree with their assessment, and are doing just about how we expected.

As always, when somebody is managing something for you in another part of the world, there can be blips. The BVI folks notified us that their landlord failed to live up to his promise of completing the breakwater that would protect their entire fleet from waves in the case of a hurricane. So the management company wants to put half the cats on the hard for the next three months, which would allow the boats left in the water to have two berths each in the event of an approaching hurricane. Naturally, the out-of-water storage is going to cost a little more than had been anticipated — $900 a month. In any event, they wanted to know if we'd be willing to have our boat hauled for three months. Some folks might have whined about this, pointing out that it would eliminate even the possibility of a summer charter. Not us. We immediately agreed to have our boat hauled for two reasons. First, even though we have insurance, if our cat gets damaged by a hurricane, we know that we're going to take a financial bath. If she's out of the water, the chances are less that she'll be damaged or as severely damaged. Second, karma. If we can do the management company a little favor now, who knows, maybe they'll do a favor for us in the future.

The bottom line is that, come October, when our cat will go back in the water, we'll have broken even in operational expenses, and gotten $33,000 in boat use as our return for our $270,000 investment. It's noteworthy that our cat investment is fully tax deductible because we got the money as a result of a refi of the house we've owned for 30 years. We're not suggesting that putting a new or used charter boat in a management program is an appropriate investment for anyone but, to date, we've been satisfied with our situation. In fact, we can't wait for the first week in January, at which time we'll be living on the hook again, floating in the very warm and blue waters of Gustavia Harbor. By the way, if you want to charter 'ti Profligate in the high season in the British Virgins, don't hesitate to call BVI Yacht Charters now — (888) 615-4006 — because we're told that she's booking fast.


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