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December 2007

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Thanks for the fine publication. Latitude 38 — and the Baja Ha-Ha — get a lot of people out cruising, and that's the whole point.

My wife and I dropped our high-paying jobs in the Bay Area in '03 for the full-time sailing life aboard our Peterson 46, the name of which we'd prefer to withhold because of what we're going to say. We were in our early 30s, and decided it was better to go while we were young than later. It was a fantastic decision that taught us more about ourselves and each other than anything else life has brought our way before or since. We didn’t do the Ha-Ha but, while in Mexico, we did hang out with a lot of people who had participated in that event. They had nothing but praise for it.

That being said, we were just having dinner the other night with another young couple who actually made it all the way around the world, getting back to Ft. Lauderdale last spring. During our conversation, we agreed on a couple things that we really hated about cruising. The first was boats, the second was 'cruisers'. By cruisers (pronounced kroo-serrrs) we were talking about Mr. and Mrs. Master Mariner — MMMM, or 4M from now on — that you responded to in the November issue.

What a breed! How can you quickly and easily identify a 4M? There are seven primary characteristics: 1) They've always 'been there and done that' a few years ago; 2) They love to talk equipment and gear; 3) They are full of do’s and don’ts; 4) They are legally drunk by 3 p.m. each day; 5) They are passed out down below by 6 p.m.; 6) They complain about the locals, other boats, the weather, and everything else; 7) They are one-sided conversationalists, so you better be ready to listen. 4Ms are stickier than 3M!

It's so ironic that some 4Ms should ridicule members of the Ha-Ha by saying they should really be in an RV park, because these are the very same people who, if not found in a marina or a mooring ball at Puerto Escondido, prefer the most protected anchorages and sit in the most protected corners for weeks at a time. And don't get too close, for they'll let you know that they own the place by staring blankly at you from the cockpit while you're setting your anchor. Thankfully you don’t actually encounter 4Ms that often, especially in places that require more than a daysail or overnight to get to.

It was also our experience that the more sea miles folks had, the more humble they were about their knowledge. It was like the more they knew, the more they knew they didn't know. After all, if you get your butt kicked and get really scared a few times, you’ll be much less prone to criticizing people with 'less' experience. Fortunately, 95% of the folks we encountered out there doing it were really cool people. They had adventurous spirits, were easy-going, enthusiastic and optimistic, generous to a fault, and emotionally open.

As we mentioned before, the other thing we four young, fit, able-bodied cruisers agreed that we hated about cruising was boats. We had all done well with our short careers, and had left with some really nice machinery that allowed us to have very comfortable boats . . . for about a month or so. Then things started needing attention. And fixing all that stuff — and it breaks whether you paid a lot or a little for it — gets old in a hurry. So unless you're going to bring along your own engineer, keep that cruising boat simple.

The bottom line is, yes, you should go now rather than later, and you should know how to fix your own boat and how to operate her safely. And yes, keep your boat as simple and easy to use as possible. The other point is that 4M is a rare species.  At any real destination, you are going to find like-minded people with the same spirit as you.  So go out there and join them, as soon as possible.  If that means a Ha-Ha, all the better.

My wife and I (name withheld)
Boat Name Withheld
Portland, Oregon

M.W.A.I. — Having just done another Ha-Ha, this time with 601 participants, we were reminded of how much fun it is to sail the coast of Baja with some folks who are relatively new to cruising. They are jazzed instead of jaded, and their enthusiasm about making their first landfall, seeing their first whale, catching their first fish, and dropping the hook in their first remote anchorage, is infectious. And when they arrive in Cabo, they are so proud of what they've accomplished. We feel privileged to get to be part of it.

What kind of new cruisers are we talking about? Take Angelika Sullivan of Sacramento. She showed up at the Ha-Ha Crew List Party at the Encinal YC in early October, got a ride on Jim Steven's Cross 53 trimaran Blind Luck, and had a fabulous time. How fabulous? She said, "I'm never going to miss another Ha-Ha for the rest of my life!" Only time will tell if that proves to be true, but we're pretty sure she enjoyed herself.

We also subscribe to your philosophy of simple boats. Although Profligate is a very large cat, she's also very simple, which means there is very little on her to break. We love that, because we're primarily interested in sailing our boat, not working on her. But how could you ever hate your boat? We've been indifferent about one or two of ours, but have been passionate about all the others.


I'm completely disgusted with the America's Cup. Alinghi's Ernesto Bertarelli comes to the St. Francis YC to defend his vision of the future of the Cup, and says he hopes that the club or someone in Northern California will see fit to put up the $150 million U.S. it would take to be competitive. One hundred and fifty million!!! The only thing more ridiculous is all the squabbling between BMW Oracle and Alinghi over the nature of the next America's Cup — if there even will be one. At this point, who cares?

And what's with the stupid IACC boats they've been sailing? Sure they can point extremely high, but even Bertarelli admitted they were slow and boring. I like Latitude's idea of competing for the Cup in ORMA 60 trimarans, boats that would sail circles around the IACC leadmines. But I've got an even better idea — make the Cup a G Class multihull race across an ocean.

I'd like to remind everyone that in July of this year, Frenchman Frank Cammas and his crew weren't in some courtroom arguing, but rather setting two remarkable new sailing speed records with his 106-ft G Class trimaran Groupama: 1) 794 nautical miles in 24 hours, an average — average! — of over 33 knots; and 2) A new record on the 2,925-mile New York to Lizard, England, Transatlantic course, averaging 29.26 knots for over four days. Records like that not only impress me, they make me hot! Hell, you could drop an IACC boat out of an airplane and I don't think it would hit 33 knots on its way to the ground.

So yeah, if I had my druthers, the America's Cup would be a TransAtlantic Race from New York to England in G Class multihulls — and they'd push all the sailing lawyers and lawyer-like people overboard halfway across. Wait a minute — what about a San Francisco to Hawaii course? Can you imagine boats sailing from here to Hawaii in under three days? And with the half a billion dollars they saved, they could make the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor into something Hawaii could be proud of.

Jim Stenson, Jr.

Jim — Groupama's new records really impress us, too. In fact, they make us wish that Steve Fossett, the only American who ever gave a hoot about sailing speed records, would reappear from wherever he is, build a PlayStation or Cheyenne II, and restore honor to American sailors. To be honest, we're tired of being shown up by the French.


With regard to the incident on Clear Lake in which the sailboat Beats Workin' II was hit at high speed by Deputy Russell Perdock's powerboat, I see that you are supporting the idea that the sailboat had her running lights on. However, the news video that night showed the instrument panel switches. It showed that the only one that was on was the one for the cabin lights.

It's also worth noting that the crew of the sailboat didn't shine a light on their sails, so it really was their fault they were hit by Perdock's boat.

Furthermore, because the sailboat's cabin lights had been on, they had no night vision, and therefore couldn't see the powerboat approaching. And when a powerboat comes straight at you, it's not that easy to hear.

From the perspective of Perdock, the sailboat would have looked like a house or something on shore with white lights on. The people on the sailboat just screwed up.

It's too bad, but having the right navigation lights on and having good night vision is important. I’ve seen lots of people also trying to use gadgets at night that ruin night vision and then everyone gets upset when the skipper needs COMPLETE light control at night. Always use a red light ONLY for charts and for looking at lines, and compass lights. People don’t know and it gets them killed.

Darrell 'Carey' Caraway
Lake County

Carey — If Deputy Perdock had been patrolling Highway 20 through Lake County some night and seen a car driving without headlights, he'd have pulled the car over, right? That's because the driver couldn't see where he was going in the dark — just the way Perdock couldn't see where he was going that dark night on Clear Lake when he drove his boat into the side of the sailboat at such high speed that it resulted in the death of Lynn Thornton.

We don't know whether the sailboat's running lights were on at the time she was hit by Perdock's boat, but we do know that a marina owner and a former law enforcement officer both testified that they were on — and that the Lake County District Attorney didn't want to take that testimony. Given the fact that the Lake County Sheriff's Department has a reputation for being a 'boy's club' and for all the officers to watch each others' backs, how hard would it have been for one of Perdock's buddies to flick that running light switch to the 'off' position before starting the video recording? We're not big on conspiracy theories, but this case stinks so bad that you can't help but be suspicious.

According to the testimony of a member of the sailboat's crew, Perdock came at them so fast — his speed was estimated at between 40 and 55 mph — that they were hit before they even knew a boat was coming at them. In other words, they never had a chance. The accident was no more their fault because they didn't shine a light on the sails than is an innocent person getting shot because they didn't duck to avoid a bullet they didn't know was coming their way.

You're correct about one thing: from Perdock's perspective the sailboat must have looked like a house on shore. That's precisely why, if you check the Coast Guard's rules for navigation, a boat operator is not supposed to head for background lights. On the other hand, can you find anything in the Rules of the Road that says a powerboat operator is absolved of the responsibility of mowing everyone down in his/her path just because he/she is confused by background lights?

It appears that Deputy Perdock will never face criminal charges for the death of Lynn Thornton — but only because the Lake County District Attorney, in what appears to us to be a clear case of cover-up, steadfastly refuses to charge him, preventing an impartial jury from getting the chance to ever render a verdict. The D.A.'s pathetic excuse? He claims that he can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Perdock was operating his boat at an unsafe speed — despite the fact that Perdock admitted he was travelling 40 to 45 mph at the time of the impact, and that others estimated his speed to be 55 mph. As such, this will just be like the O.J. case, where the public will have to look to the civil case against Russell Perdock and/or the insurance company negotiations to get a real verdict on his guilt or innocence. And you can take it from us, Perdock is going to be the big loser.

A few months ago, there was a young soldier back from Iraq, who, in a fit of whimsy, threw a big rock off a cliff somewhere in Wyoming. Unbeknownst to him, some people were rock climbing below. Tragically, the rock hit and killed one of the climbers. As soon as the soldier learned what happened, he was grief stricken, but nonetheless ran down below to confess his responsibility. Despite the horrible tragedy, and the foolish thing the soldier had done, you have to at least respect the soldier for taking responsibility for his actions. Indeed, the brother of the dead climber immediately forgave him. Does anybody see any similarity between Perdock and that young soldier? We don't.


I have a little item to report on that's somewhat lighter than the very sad and shocking oil spill story that has been dominating the local waterfront news. The spinnaker halyard of my faithful Santana 22 Smooth parted during a gust on leg one of the Vallejo 1-2. It left me with trying to figure out the easiest way to replace it — preferably without having to go up the mast. So what I did was get the boat to settle solidly in the mud at the dock behind The Cove Apartments in Tiburon. I then secured the top of the mast to the balcony, which has a very wide top plank. From there I was able to replace the halyard and even install a Windex — "Et voilà le travail." It was a fun project for a Sunday afternoon.

Jean Vaury
Smooth, Santana 22


Every mariner and marina resident has seen them, no matter if they are newborns, toddlers or teenagers. I'm speaking of kids who live aboard boats with their parents. And I don't think anybody would argue against the lifetime benefits of growing up on a boat within a boating community. After all, for how many of us has an early introduction to sailing started a lifelong passion? And how many of us wish that our relationship with sailing had started earlier?

But what happens when a child’s lifetime home comes under fire because one parent chooses to make it an issue in a custody case? I'm left to ponder what a social worker is going to say about the liveaboard environment for a child. How will I argue that the liveaboard environment is both nurturing and safe? I would appreciate any legal or other advice from Latitude 38 and fellow mariners.

And thanks for the 'child friendly' November issue cover.

Michael Wasilewski
South San Francisco

Michael — We're naturally inclined to be sympathetic to your case, but find it difficult to be helpful without you providing even the most basic information. For starters, what kind of boat do you live on and what marina do you keep her in? Even more important, what's the age and sex of your child? Does he/she know how to swim and/or sail? Are there other kids around? How far is it to the child's school? What kind of work do you do, and who takes care of the child when you're away or at work? Those are all legitimate questions.

We don't think living aboard a boat in a marina is inherently any better or worse than living in a more traditional home. Each could be excellent or terrible; it all depends on the details. Hopefully a social worker will think the same way, and that your liveaboard situation is conducive to the health, safety and welfare of your child. But above all, let's hope that neither you nor the mother are using the child as an artillery piece in a battle between the two of you.


If the three proud owners — Russell Houlston, Bill Woodruff, and Jeff Klausner — of the Catalina 30 Huge, had been told that within seven months of the purchase of their boat, their children, ages 6 to 10, would participate in sailboat racing against adults in a recognized beer can series, they would have disbelieved it on several different levels. That's because:

— The wives/mothers had given them the "over my dead body" speech.

— The kids knew it would be dangerous, and would have said, "Yeah, dad, what were you thinking?"

As such, none of the owners thought about it when they looked at an ad for a boat on the other side of the continent and said to themselves, "Let's get that one." But as it turned out, they bought the Catalina MK 3 Huge, had her trucked to the West Coast from Georgia, and immediately entered her in the Friday Night Series at the South Beach YC. South Beach has a one-design class for Catalina 30s because there are so many of them.

We battled it out with nine other Catalina 30s, coming in second in the second half of the season, and third for the entire season, having finally overcome a string of East Coast lightweight gear failures. By the end of the season we'd replaced most of the on-deck hardware.

When Bill Woodruff woke up on most Saturday mornings during the racing season, he'd be pestered for detailed reports on the previous night's race, the finish times, the boat names, and boat standings, by his six-year-old son David, who would also frisk him for trophies. Eventually, David talked his father into letting him come on board during a race. Despite some serious racing drama and close-quarter duels, he enjoyed himself immensely.

But due to the competitive nature of the division, it was a less than optimal situation for the other partners to be distracted by watching out for a six-year-old while dueling it out with other large boats. So the partners decided to introduce all their offspring to racing in a separate series, where they could focus on safety first, winning second, and in which the kids could participate as real crew. The venue chosen was the Monday Night Madness Series at the Bay View Boat Club.

To keep it safe, several onboard rules were established: Adults would handle the starts or any maneuvers close to other boats. Adults would handle the mainsail. Adults would handle the buoy roundings. Adults would take over when winds were over 18-20 knots. The rest of the racing — included sheeting in the jib during tacks, grinding in the jib, and driving — would be handled by the kids.

The kids learned how to drive quickly, despite not being as tall or as strong as would be ideal. In a couple of incidents the adults only became aware that the helm was too heavy when the helmsperson was pitched across the cockpit! Fortunately, this was accompanied by much laughter and very little blood.

We adults expected to have to help grind in the jib, but the determined kids weren't interested in giving up their positions. They managed — sometimes eventually — to achieve good upwind sail shape on most of the upwind legs. Of course, the pace with which the sheet was brought in was almost tortuously slow for us adults to watch. But other things made up for it. For example, while the jib was still barely beyond luffing and we were almost halfway to the next mark, one young grinder asked, "When we win the trophy, who gets to take it home?"

In any event, the result was three first place finishes and a second — and an overall series victory! It should be noted that the Bay View's Monday Night racing isn't as competitive as the South Beach's on Friday nights. When the kids went into the Bay View Boat Club they were treated as celebrated champions by all. Sportsmanship flows even faster than the beer in that hallowed place.

Stunned by the success of the 'little people', the big owners plan to return to the Bay View Boat Club with their now- seasoned kids for the Spring Series.

Participants included: Foster Houlston (9), David Woodruff (6), Henry Klausner (9), Teddy Klausner (6), Jack Lugliani (6), Gretchen Mendel (10), Shae Kober (6), Cameron Burns (6), John Safipour (8) Harrold Pigman (7) and Sophie Pigman (10).

By the way, we've made a few notes for next time:

1) No Oreos — for the kids — before the racing is over.

2) No chips or chocolate until the kid is on the dock.

3) The kids will be trained to open the (beer) bottles and hand them to the adults.

4) Adults get one beer each before the race to steady their nerves.

5) Kids will not use the head. It's a long story, so don't ask.

Russell Houlston
Huge, Catalina 30
South Beach YC


Some guys have all the luck. Jim Stevens, who has been totally blind since age 19, not only owns the Cross 53 trimaran Blind Luck, but had his 'luck' further confirmed during the Baja Ha-Ha by putting together, with the help of skipper Michael Fanfa, a crew of eight beautiful women. Hmm, could this be another first for the Ha-Ha?

Stevens told me that he'd always wanted to do the Ha-Ha, and signed up because he also thought it would be a good way to prepare his boat for the Pacific Cup race from San Francisco to Hawaii. When his skipper volunteered to assemble a crew, and told Stevens that he'd like it to consist entirely of women, Stevens told him to "go for it"!

Three of the Ha-Ha crew met up with the San Leandro-based tri in San Francisco for the trip down to San Diego. But it wasn't until arriving at the fuel dock in San Diego on October 28 that all the women crew met each other for the first time. All but a token Canadian were from California. Excited at the prospect of an adventure the likes of which none of them had seen before, the combination of experienced sailors and novices got to know each other over a few drinks, while Stevens and Fanfa observed in amazement at the camaraderie that was building among this randomly selected group of women. How random? Half of them were recruited from the Latitude 38 Crew List, the others came from various meetings in and around San Francisco.

Stevens is a quiet and thoughtful man, gentle and kind to the core. Despite his lack of sight, he lives aboard during the week in San Leandro with his guide dog Cayenne. For obvious reasons, his boat has to be orderly. He's not only employed, he's an IT Director for Kaiser Permanente. On weekends, he returns home to his family in Davis.

Behind the person the world sees, Stevens is a man whose passion for life has not been dampened by his inability to see by conventional means. He has never allowed his lack of sight to stop him from doing the things he loves, and one of those passions is sailing. Stevens knows Blind Luck as well as any sighted man, and can sense the wind speed and direction as well as any instrument. Listening to the wind in the sails, you'll hear him say things like, "Let's trim in the genny a bit and really make this boat fly."

As orderly as Blind Luck was before the start of the Ha-Ha, I leave it to your imagination the metamorphosis that took place once all the crew arrived. Stevens' orderly world was suddenly thrown into a bit of chaos, but he loved it!

From San Diego to Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria to Cabo, the crew of Blind Luck truly had the adventure of a lifetime. Despite being 48 years old, and having both sailing and life experience, I confess that I cried like a baby when it came time to say goodbye to Jim. The theme song from the movie To Sir With Love kept running through my mind the day I left Blind Luck. Jim's kindness, generosity and, most of all, courage to overcome adversity and live his dreams — no matter what! — was heartwarming. I'm eternally grateful for the opportunity to have known and sailed with such an extraordinary man, and have been inspired by him to live my own dreams.

Lee 'the token Canadian' Wolff
Crew, Blind Luck
Baja Ha-Ha '07

Lee — When you asked if the Blind Luck's voyage in the Ha-Ha was "another first," you needed to be more specific. Was it the first time that a legally blind skipper sailed in the event? No, as you'll learn from the next letter. Was it the first time that a legally blind person — or for that matter, any skipper — had done the Ha-Ha with eight women crew? To the best of our knowledge, yes. In any event, we're glad that you and the others enjoyed yourselves.


Wow, what a year of cruising it's been for the two of us and our 'Blind Circumnavigation'. In some ways it feels as though we've been running to stand still because we haven't gotten very far. But even though we've put fewer miles under our keel than we planned, we've met so many wonderful people and have had a fantastic experience in Australia.

As those who have been following our website already know, the engine on our Pearson 390 Starship died a sudden death outside of Sydney just prior to our arrival in Australia. Once we cleared in and got settled, we had a rebuilt, rather than new, engine installed in an attempt to save money. Everything seemed fine as we sailed out between Sydney Heads, but various problems began to arise with the engine on our way to Pittwater. We kept thinking we got the engine problems licked, but the gremlins just kept at it. Once we arrived in Newcastle, we'd lost all faith in the engine. Fortunately, Bob, who was both our mechanic and friend, kindly agreed to take the engine back and give us a full refund.

At that point, we decided to invest in a new Volvo Penta diesel rather than a rebuilt engine. Our Volvo not only purrs like a kitten, but has a three-year warranty.

By the time we got our engine problems behind us, it was very late in the cruising season, and tropical cyclone season was looming. As such, we've decided to keep Starship in Australia for the duration of the cyclone season, which means until April of next year. To fill the time until then, we have set our focus on working in order to feed the ever-hungry cruising kitty. As such, Scott has returned to the States and is consulting in chilly Virginia, while Pam is beating the pavement looking for work in Newcastle. Scott will be returning to Australia for the holidays, so we hope to get in some coastal cruising in Australia’s beautiful cruising grounds.

Our plans for the next cruising season are similar to what our plans had been for this one before the demise of our engine. We will depart Australia to the northeast, make a quick stop in Kumac, New Caledonia, and head off to Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. We will then turn west, stopping in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and finally Thailand for the '08/'09 cyclone season.

As always, check out our website at to share our adventures when we depart Australia to continue our Blind Circumnavigation.

Scott Duncan and Pam Habek
Starship, Pearson 390
San Francisco

Readers — Why would anyone sail around the world if they were legally blind? Scott responds by writing, "First and foremost, I would probably have undertaken this challenge if I were fully sighted. I grew up near the beach in Santa Monica and I have always loved the water. I was a swimmer in school, became a certified diver, and have always dreamed about sailing around the world. I'm also a person who believes deeply that we should all pursue our dreams. I would also like my challenge to encourage anyone living with vision loss. The world has a way of placing limitations on anyone who does not fit the 'normal' mold. Since my birth, doctors told my parents that I would never be 'normal'. "Don’t expect much from him, and you may want to consider sending him to a residential school or institution," they were told. Unfortunately, this has been a constant theme throughout my life. To sail around the world will be one more accomplishment in a long line of accomplishments made by visually impaired people, one that will send a signal to everyone that the capabilities bar has been raised another notch higher."

Pamela's response is, "Sailing has always been in my blood. I grew up in Maine on Mount Desert Island, and my father worked as a sailboat rigger for Hinckley Yachts. Growing up in rural New England, I never had the chance to interact with other blind children, and sighted people always told me what I could and could not accomplish. It took me until the age of 23, when I moved to San Francisco, to challenge my family’s perceptions of my capabilities. I met many blind people in San Francisco who served as role models, so I pushed my own boundaries to achieve independence. I am participating in this voyage to reach out to blind children everywhere who feel all alone and live by the limitations set by others."

By the way, if you're a sailor looking for a worthy cause to contribute to over the holidays, check out Scott and Pamela's dream at


I'm the wife of a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter pilot, and am writing to you in protest of the preponderance of negative portrayals of the Coast Guard's interactions with members of the local sailing community. Those negative portrayals also bother me as a recreational sailor and pilot of a small aircraft.

My husband — and all Coast Guard personnel — have and will continue to search for members of the Bay Area sailing community who find themselves in distress, and they will even do so in conditions that would be considered unsafe and unflyable by civilian pilots. In many bad weather conditions, it's only members of the U.S. Coast Guard who will risk their lives to save you.

And by the way, if you're a sailor in distress and a Coast Guard helicopter has come to rescue you, do not, as a sailor recently did off Sausalito, train your high-powered light at the helicopter. You'll temporarily blind them, making it impossible for them to help.

Despite the fact that it seems no positive portrayals of the Coast Guard will appear in Latitude 38 , mariners shouldn't be afraid, as nobody in the Coast Guard will hold it against you. If you find yourself in danger, please call for help. But please, try to call before it has reached the point where the lives of the rescuers will be put in danger as well. They expect no thanks, for they are just doing their job.

Evelyn Greene

Evelyn — What do you mean there have been no positive portrayals of the Coast Guard in Latitude? Countless times over the years we've editorialized that when mariners need help, there is nobody who will try harder — including by putting their lives on the line — than members of the U.S. Coast Guard. We've reported many stories that detailed Coastie heroism, and pointed out how it was often made necessary by the incompetence or inexperience of recreational mariners. We have nothing but the highest respect — and repeatedly have stated it in writing — for members of the Coast Guard Search & Rescue, and are hardly unique among the boating community.

Where the Coast Guard has come in for lots of criticism by recreational mariners is in regard to safety inspections and similar issues. We go to pains to point out that, in these instances, the Coasties are merely following orders from above, and that it's the higher-ups and members of the Executive branch of the government who need to be taken to task.


I've been sailing and racing 20 to 30 days a year for over 30 years, the first 10 in Chicago, the last 20 on San Francisco Bay. In all that time I'd never been boarded by the Coast Guard. I'd heard many horror stories from others about such boardings, so I'd always dreaded having to endure one. Well, I finally got boarded about a month ago while I was motoring singlehanded from Richmond through Raccoon Strait. And I must say that my trepidations were totally dispelled.

The boarding launch had six Coasties on it, of which three actually came aboard my boat. All were extremely courteous at all times. The lead officer came below with me and performed the primary steps in the safety inspection. He was at every turn fair in his application of the requirements, if not sometimes even generous. In the end, I didn't meet all the requirements, but he explained to me exactly what the process would be for enforcement of future compliance. When the inspection was complete, one of the crew printed out a detailed record of the event for me from a handheld computer/printer.

All in all, it had been a very constructive event, handled professionally, and I actually felt that the future safety of my boat, passengers, and crew would be enhanced by it.

I don't know if the contrast between my expectations and the reality was due to real improvements in Coast Guard procedures, or if the actions and directions of the new commander played a role, but in any case, the whole process could not have been done in a better manner.

Bartz Schneider
Expeditious, Express 37
San Francisco

Bartz — While the Coast Guard is not perfect with regard to safety inspections and issuing citations — something Capt. W.J. Uberti admitted in a letter to Latitude last month — we've never had what we consider to be a bad boarding either. But then we've always gone out of our way to be as cooperative as possible. We think some people would be surprised by the results of being nice to law enforcement. A few years ago there was a period in which we were stopped by law enforcement five times in a row — for things like no proof of insurance, missing registration, doing 59 mph in a 45 mph zone on Tiburon Blvd, not wearing a seat belt, and something else — without being issued a citation. Our success drove Doña de Mallorca and our kids crazy. Our 'secret' was always being cooperative, and in the cases where we were guilty, fessing up to it right away. When we were caught driving 15 mph over the speed limit on Tiburon Blvd, the officer was so shocked at our admitting guilt that he simply said, "OK, just don't do it again," and walked off.


I don't know if you were testing your readers' geographic knowledge in last month's Cruise Notes, but the last time I was anchored off the navy base in Puerto Quetzal, it was in Guatemala, not, as you reported, El Salvador. And I don't think El Salvador has invaded Guatemala and conquered it in the meantime. For more on Puerto Quetzel, see page 29 of Capt. Pat Rains excellent new guidebook, Cruising Ports, the Central American Route.

Sven Querner
Reliance, Brewer 50

Sven — We apologize for the error. Our minds tend to disengage near the end of an issue.


In the November Latitude, Larry Brown claims that "the jury is still out" on global warming. No, Larry, the jury has actually decided. Maybe you just don’t want to inform yourself of the facts of the case, and therefore simply don’t accept the jury’s verdict.

In criminal law, a preponderance of even circumstantial evidence is enough for a conviction. So let’s consider the circumstantial evidence:

Polar Ice Caps — According to the website, the average temperatures in the Arctic region are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere in the world. The Arctic ice is getting thinner, melting and rupturing. For example, the largest single block of ice in the Arctic, the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, had been around for 3,000 years before it started cracking in 2000. Within two years it had split all the way through and is now breaking into pieces. And the polar ice cap as a whole is shrinking. Images from NASA satellites show that the area of permanent ice cover is contracting at a rate of 9% each decade. If this trend continues, summers in the Arctic could become ice-free by the end of the century. A similar process is underway in the Antarctic. These developments are threatening animal species ranging from polar bears in the Arctic to penguins in the Antarctic. They also directly threaten Inuit people in the North, especially those living on some of the islands around Alaska.
Tropical Glaciers — According to Raymond Pierrehumbert, a climate dynamicist at the University of Chicago, "Throughout the tropics, glaciers are in retreat. Well-documented examples include Quelccaya, Huascaran, Zongo and Chacaltaya in South America, and the Lewis, Rwenzori and Kilimanjaro (more properly, Kibo) glaciers in the East." The steady decrease in the size of these glaciers is shown to be unprecedented in the last 1,500 or more years.

Sea Levels — According to Joseph Romm of the Center for Energy and Climatic Solutions, "The planet is warming — especially the oceans. Since 1955 the oceans have absorbed roughly twenty times more heat than the atmosphere. Even at a depth of 600 feet, the North Atlantic has warmed .2°C [about 32°F] thanks to human emissions." According to the IPCC report, global average sea level rose at an average rate of 1.8 (1.3 to 2.3) mm per year from 1961 to 2003. The rate was faster from 1993 to 2003, about 3.1 (2.4 to 3.8) mm per year. This is caused both by the fact that water expands as it gets warmer by and the melting of Arctic ice.

According to one researcher, 10% of the world's population — 634 million people — live on low-lying (meaning under 30-ft elevation) coastal areas. Two thirds of the world’s cities with five million or more people are at least partially in such regions, and in most parts of the world, countries’ populations are increasingly shifting to such cities. In addition, a rise in sea level will not only directly affect coastal areas, such rises could also flood further inland.

Rising sea levels are already having an affect on some parts of the world’s human population. According to Ross Gelbspan, some 40,000 inhabitants of the Duke of York Islands near Papua, New Guinea, began evacuating in the year 2000. This was due to global warming threatening the inhabitants of these low-lying — 12 feet above sea level — islands. Some 10,000 people in the island nation of Tuvalu are in the process of resettlement for the same reason.

Gelbspan writes: “According to scientific estimates, a rise of one meter – which has been predicted by the IPCC – would submerge 17.5% of Bangladesh, 6% of the Netherlands, and 80% of Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands." In Alaska, some villages are considering moving their entire populations inland because the higher water levels are destroying their homes.

Sea Water pH Balance — Some scientists had previously thought that all or almost all CO2 produced by human activity would be absorbed by the world’s oceans. This has proven to be incorrect. However, the oceans have absorbed massive amounts of CO2, but not without a problem developing. As the oceans absorb more carbon, the pH balance changes. This is the balance that makes water either alkaline or acid. The lower pH balance in the oceans has meant increased acidity due to the formation of carbonic acid (H2CO3). This acid tends to dissolve shells of microscopic shellfish, whose shells are made of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), as well as bleach coral. These microscopic sea animals are some of the basic building blocks for the oceans’ food chains. This, along with the warming of the oceans, is causing the coral reefs to bleach and die.

Hurricanes and Typhoons — Hurricanes and typhoons receive their strength by the difference in temperature between the air and the surface sea water. As the temperature of this sea water increases, one would expect these storms to increase in strength. And this is what's happening. As the IPCC reports: "Specifically, the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes increased by about 75% since 1970. The largest increases were in the North Pacific, Indian and Southwest Pacific Oceans. However, numbers of hurricanes in the North Atlantic have also been above normal in nine of the last 11 years, culminating in the record-breaking 2005 season."

Drought — Residents of the Southeast United States are presently caught up in a record-breaking drought. Boaters are complaining that they can’t take their boats out on Lake Lanier in Georgia, and homeowners are complaining that they can’t water their lawns or wash their cars. But these are minor inconveniences compared to what people are going through in other parts of the world. Istanbul is described as "a dry, desolate, dusty city without even a hint of green anywhere, and precipitation is way down elsewhere in Turkey." While precipitation rates have varied throughout history in the region, there has not been a multi-year trend like this. The same is happening throughout the Mediterranean, which is related to the disastrous fires that swept Greece in the summer of '07. The IPCC reports that, "Drying has been observed in the Sahel, the Mediterranean, southern Africa and parts of southern Asia." There is also the record-breaking multi-year drought in Australia. Due to the warmer weather, rain patterns have shifted south, so the rain has missed Australia.

Forest Fires — On October 21, CBS’s 60 Minutes did a portion of their show on the increased forest fires in the western United States. They interviewed a fire chief in charge of teams that fight such fires. According to him, ten years ago a 100,000-acre forest fire was considered huge. Today, he said, a 200,000-acre fire is "just another day at the office." Seven out of 10 of the busiest fire seasons since the '60s, when records started being kept, are from 1999 to the present, with 2006 being the worst year in U.S. history for forest fires.

It's true that, to an extent, the Forest Service's success in fighting fires has allowed an increase in undergrowth that helps fuel these fires. However, this is not the total reason. According to the Forest Service, global warming has meant that spring comes earlier in the year and summer ends later. This has meant that the fire season has been extended by 78 days. Coupled with persistent low precipitation, this means that the forests are drier for longer than ever. They are also more vulnerable to attacks of such pests as the pine beetle, which leave even more dead and dry trees. It should be noted that large scale, and extremely hot forest fires do immensely more damage, including destroying the soil, thus preventing these forests from growing back.
Incidentally, a huge mistake some people make is to say that if it’s not possible to accurately predict the weather in the next week, then we can’t for the coming years either. This is like saying that if we can’t predict whether a coin will land on heads or tails the next time we flip it, then we can’t make any prediction for the next 100 times. In fact, the general pattern is far easier to predict than any single event.

I find it incredible that sailors, of all people, would close their eyes to the facts surrounding global warming. For one thing, our 'footprint' is far smaller than those of many others. In addition, far more than most, we base our sport and get our pleasure from the wonders of nature. I know this letter is pretty long, but people had better wake up and listen to the jury! And I accept that sometimes the jury makes mistakes. I wish they had this time, but they sure have the preponderance of evidence behind their verdict. I know that some people feel that the conclusions regarding human-caused global warming don’t fit with their general social attitudes. If they want to blind themselves, that’s their right, but facts are stubborn things; they just won’t go away.

John Reimann
Y-Knot, Catalina 36

John — We're very sympathetic to your point of view, but just because you and others say that the jury is no longer out on global warming doesn't make it true. There are some — not a lot — of respected scientists who still disagree with some or all of the conventional thought. So to follow your analogy, if you were the D.A. and you were trying to get a conviction on global warming, there are several reasons that we wouldn't be so sanguine about your being successful. First, your medical examiners — i.e. politically driven scientists — have been wrong a few too many times before for at least one member of a jury not to have 'reasonable doubt'. Second, arguments such as the one comparing the long term certainty of the results of flipping a coin, in which there are only two possible outcomes, versus long-term predictions of what the climate will be like 50 years from now, in which there are an infinite number of outcomes, seem silly. Finally, the fact that scientists have such radically different forecasts for global warming only underscores what would seem to be their real lack of knowledge of the situation.

But as we wrote in the November issue, despite our inherent skepticism of just about everything, we're willing to go along with the argument that says that global warming is real and that it's primarily being caused by additional CO2 created by man. And we're also willing to modify our behavior in a number of ways that many scientists believe might help lessen or prevent the problem. As we also reported last month, it's not hard to take this position because the behavior it calls for is both in our personal financial best interest and the country's security interests.

But to paraphrase Mark Twain, everybody talks about climate change, but not many people are doing anything — or at least enough — about it. We think it's an absolute no-brainer that private enterprise and government should work toward developing solar, wind, and all other forms of alternative energy. And naturally, we should be using traditional energy — such as oil — as efficiently as possible. What's with people buying cars that only get 25 mpg when 50 mpg cars are available? Unfortunately, even a combination of all these isn't going to be anywhere near enough to meet the upcoming clean energy needs of the world, not with hundreds of millions of people coming out of poverty and dying to emulate the highly consumptive lifestyles that even middle-class Americans have enjoyed for all these decades. It seems pretty certain there are going to be some big changes ahead, it's just not clear what kind of changes they are going to be.


I did the 'Lucky Number 13 Baja Ha-Ha' in '06 aboard my Cal 34 Gypsy Soul, and have been keeping her at Marina Costa Baja in La Paz ever since. I get down once every couple of months to do some 'commuter cruising'. I just returned from another great week, in which we enjoyed both La Paz and a couple of nights at nearby Islas Espiritu Santo and Partida. What an awesome time we had! The water and air temperatures were still 80 degrees. The accompanying photo was taken on November 7 at the El Candelero anchorage at Espiritu Santo at sunset, with Gypsy Soul resting at anchor.

Jay Sousa
Gypsy Soul, Cal 34

Jay — You don't have to convince us of the pleasures — visual and otherwise — of La Paz, the nearby islands, and the Sea of Cortez. And as you probably know by now, March through June, and October through early December, are the prime times. For folks who haven't been there before, it's not until late spring that the water has finally gotten warm enough for swimming again, while in fall the air temperatures are bearable and the water is still warm.

In fact, we remember anchoring our Freya 39 Contrary to Ordinary at Isla Partida on Thanksgiving Day in '82, and then lying in the 87° shallows with our then-wife and Latitude 38 co-founder Kathy McCarthy. It was at that moment we came up with the idea for Sea of Cortez Sailing Week — an Antigua Sailing Week-type end-of-season chance for everyone to see each other and have some sailing fun before heading off in all directions. That event had about five really terrific years — with as many as 200 boats participating — before descending into mediocrity and finally death because of poor organization.

The only downside to La Paz, of course, is that it's become so popular with mariners. Despite the fact that just two years ago the number of berths in La Paz was doubled, it's now difficult to find a berth there in the winter. What's driving the huge demand for berths in the Sea of Cortez and the rest of Mexico? Boomers like you and us, who have come to realize that 'commuter cruising' to our boats in Mexico is not only relatively inexpensive and convenient, it's fabulous.


I was pleased to read your comprehensive article on long-distance Southern California to Mexico races in the November Sightings. Unfortunately, you failed to mention the oldest continuous race to the Mexican mainland. The Del Rey YC's Marina del Rey to Puerto Vallarta International Yacht Race began in '71, and has been held biennially ever since! Some of the most illustrious yachts in the world — Windward Passage, Ragtime, Pyewacket and so forth — have participated, and earlier this year Doug Baker's Andrews 80 Magnitude 80 broke the elapsed time record.

Incidentally, the San Diego YC's very well-run race, which was featured in your article, actually finishes at Punta Mita at the tip of Banderas Bay, and the fleet ends up staying at Paradise Marina, which is in Nuevo Vallarta. So technically, the DRYC Race is the only Puerto Vallarta race that actually terminates in Puerto Vallarta!

Plans are now in progress to make the DRYC 2009 Puerto Vallarta experience the most unique and enjoyable ever. Our PV '09 Series will feature stops in the beautiful anchorages down the coast of Baja and separately scored races. Additional details will be forthcoming as they become available.

Tom Redler
PV’09 Race Committee Chairman
Del Rey YC, Marina Del Rey

Tom — We didn't mention the Del Rey YC's race because we were limiting the scope of our article to races to Mexico this winter. After all, we don't want to steal the thunder of this season's events. When the time comes, we'll be more than happy to alert our readers to your race.

Although you didn't spell out the details, it seems that you're going to be trying a different concept next year, with a race that features several legs, each one of them scored separately, rather than a nonstop run. It's an interesting idea, as it will certainly give a greater number of folks a better chance to be a 'winner' in at least some part of the event. But if we can offer some constructive input, we see two things you might want to consider. The first is that it would make the event longer, and people just don't seem to have too much free time these days. Secondly, while the weather was almost perfect at Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria during the Baja Ha-Ha, it's because we stop in those places in early November, prime time for good weather. Come February, the water will be cold in both places, and the wind often howls. In any event, good luck with your race.


How jolly that you remembered the original painted fish and ribbon trophies that we gave out at the first Melaque to Tenacatita Regatta more than a dozen years ago, the ones the Ha-Ha 'trophies' have been modeled after. The fact that you mentioned those Scallywag days in the November issue resulted in my getting many emails and phone calls from friends from those wonderful days.

I happened through a box of photos last month, and saw many shots of the trophy presentation brunch the morning after that first race. I think there was one of your delivery crew accepting a fish and ribbon trophy for your Ocean 71 Big O’s superb performance in the 'non-entrant' class.

You may also recall that was the season that Big O pulled in right behind Scallywag, and spent a month or more anchored off La Ropa Beach in Zihuatanejo. I was an early adaptor of the stand-up panga style of dinghy driving because my outboard turned with great difficulty. Having been the auxiliary engine for my last sailboat, it'd had little opportunity to turn, so it didn't do it particularly well. Many others soon imitated that stand-up style.

I also remember the Grand Poobah’s spectacular stand-up crash when he hit a mooring float line at full speed one evening, ripping the handle off the outboard in the process. Thereafter it was easy to spot Big O’s dinghy, for the driver was always in a tight embrace, with one arm around the engine and the other pulling the throttle cable.

You mentioned many of the Mexico races in that issue, but you left out one of the oldest — the Del Rey YC's semi-annual Marina del Rey to Puerta Vallarta race in February.  They plan many wondrous innovations for ‘09, including lots more classes and lots more fun. They have been reviewing the history of the stuff like Sea of Cortez Sailing Week, and all the laid-back cruiser races we had in the various parts of friendly Mexico, in order to try to bring more good times to the prestigious P.V. race.

Tim (aka Padre Timo) Tunks
Scallywag, Islander 37
Marina del Rey

Tim — We're always happy to give credit where it is due, and you deserve all the credit for those simple but cool trophies that the Baja Ha-Ha adopted — as well as much of the 'nothing serious' attitude for many of the casual 'races' in Mexico. "Superb performance in the 'non-entrant' class" indeed!

Speaking of giving credit, we regularly note that it was Hugh Lamson of the Long Beach YC who came up with the basic concept of the Baja Ha-Ha. He was instrumental in the Long Beach YC having a cruising division in their '93 race to Cabo, which featured stops at Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria. We were part of that small fleet. Since the club wasn't going to do another until at least '95, if at all, we decided to create the Ha-Ha for '94. Because the Ha-Ha wasn't going to be a yacht club event, Latitude, which started it, was able to charge a much lower entry fee and run a significantly less structured and more casual event than a yacht club is used to doing.


We left Vancouver Island on August 28 and arrived in Port Angeles, Washington, where we were cleared through Customs in less than an hour by two very courteous and professional Customs officers. In the process, we got our six-month U.S. cruising permit. All was well.

The next day we cleared Cape Flattery and prepared for the downwind sleighride to San Francisco. Unfortunately, the sleighride turned into 36 hours of motoring due to a lack of wind. Nonetheless, we had a great time in San Francisco playing tourist, seeing a ball game and staying at South Beach Marina. The staff at South Beach were a big help with sending faxes to Mexico and telling us places that we should see. All was well in San Francisco, too.

We then arrived in San Diego on October 1, at which point we were required to phone Customs for clearance. No problem. We stayed at Chula Vista Marina for a month and had a great time, meeting some wonderful people. The trolley system from Chula Vista to downtown San Diego proved to be exceptional, and we found the shopping and restaurants to be superb. With our Canadian dollar at a record 1.07 to the U.S. dollar, the exchange rate certainly didn't hurt. The people we did business with at West Marine and Downwind Marine were very helpful, so that was all good, too. Up until that point, all was well in San Diego, too.

On November 4, we cleared through Customs in half an hour to head for Mexico. It was after that when we had our problem. As it was already 4 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, I noticed that there were slips available at the Police Dock. So I went to the Harbor Police office and inquired about a slip for the night. The man at the desk said they were filled up. When I mentioned that there were empty slips, he said that they were reserved for the rally to Cabo San Lucas. I thought the slips at the Police Dock were first-come, first-served. I guess I was wrong.

When I asked if I could anchor at La Playa Cove for the night and leave in the morning, the man behind the desk said that we'd be towed away if we anchored there because we didn't have a permit. I asked if we could get a permit. He said we couldn't because they needed 24 hours advance notice to give us a permit. Furthermore, he said it was 'people like me' who ruined it for everyone else. When I inquired if there was anywhere else we could go for the night, his response was, "I couldn't care less where you go," at which point he returned to his desk and sat down.

It my opinion, it's people like us who keep the boating business going in California. After all, we spent money on moorage and a new radar in San Francisco, and on moorage, a satellite modem and new refrigeration in San Diego, and general tourism dollars in both places.

Anyway, I hope the Harbor Police officer who waited on us gets promoted, because that way maybe they'll be able to fill the position with someone who is better at dealing with the public. We talked to several other cruisers who reported they also had problems with this particular fellow.

Otherwise, we had a great time. We've enjoyed reading Latitude 38 for several years and will continue to do so.

Jim and Dianne Currah
Ladysmith, Prairie Oyster 1
British Columbia, Canada

Jim and Dianne — We hope you got the officer's name and reported the incident to his superiors, because they care about stuff like that. We had one bad experience with the San Diego Harbor Police during the first Ha-Ha and lodged a rather unorthodox protest that involved members of the Ha-Ha and others sending ladies panties — it's a long story — to the San Diego Convention and Tourism Bureau. Much to our surprise, the then-Chief of the Harbor Police took our complaint seriously and made changes in the department policy. The Ha-Ha has had excellent relations with the San Diego Harbor Police ever since.

As for the slips at the Police Dock, we've always been told they were first-come, first-served, and have never known the policy to be any different. But we're confused by the officer saying that the Police Dock slips were reserved for the "rally to Cabo San Lucas," because as you're probably aware, the Ha-Ha fleet departed San Diego on October 29, six days before you made your inquiry. So either the officer was giving you bad information or the slips were being saved for the FUBAR powerboat rally to Cabo San Lucas. Those powerboat guys have so much money there is no way of telling who they might be able to influence.

In any event, we encourage you to write a letter of complaint to Chief Kirk Sanfilippo, Chief of the Harbor Police. According to the Port of San Diego, which is in charge of the Harbor Police, complaints are welcome and will be thoroughly investigated by an officer who is a sergeant or above. You can complain in person, by telephone or by mail, but since you've already sailed south, it would be best to download a PDF complaint form from the Port's website. Although you can file complaints anonymously, it would obviously be best to sign your name so you could be contacted. According to the website, within 30 days of the conclusion of the investigation of your complaint, you'll be sent a letter informing you of the conclusion of the investigation and provided with a report on the general disposition of your complaint. We think it's in everyone's best interest if you take a few minutes to fill out such a form — after all, lots of sailors would like to know what it takes to reserve one of those desirable Police Dock slips.


My Polish friend Marchin Grzeslo, who lives in Qingdao, China, where he races the Flying Tiger 10 Meters that you featured in Sightings last month, sent me some photos from the Shangri-la Cup, which was held in Qingdao at the end of September. He skippered for Team Emerson Challenger to a third place finish in the 14 boat fleet, earning him the Bronze Medal. The teams from Maersk and Asahi Beer finished one and two.

After viewing his photos, I realized that what's really missing from our races here in Northern California are cheerleaders. As such, I couldn't resist sending you the photos of cheerleaders for sailing, who will be in action at the Olympic Village Sailing site next year.

Larry Weinhoff
Synergizer, Ericson 28
Daly City

Larry — There is so much new and dynamic stuff happening in China that we in the somewhat stodgy-seeming U.S. can't help but be a little jealous. Cheerleaders – why not?


I'm sending you a commentary from Seaflow, a nonprofit organization working internationally to protect whales, dolphins and all marine life, about the 902-ft container ship Cosco Busan colliding with the base of a Bay Bridge Tower. They contend that international trade is very destructive from an ecological standpoint.

I realize that Latitude supports international trade because it's good for the economy. Aside from my strong disagreement with that assertion, if you prioritize the economy above the environment, not only will you immorally pollute and destroy much of life on earth, you will not have a planet to live on.

Since we’re all sailors, we should appreciate and respect the sea and waterways like the San Francisco Bay, and we should prioritize their protection above economic concerns. I have long viscerally hated hideous monstrosities in the water like large freighters, tankers, and military ships. The only reasons I give them right-of-way are that it’s legally required — and because they are so much bigger than any sailboat that I've ever been on that I assume the boat along with all her crew would be crushed if we were in a collision. I’d like to see a small maximum limit be imposed on the size of these ships and a drastic curtailment of international trade, which is so ecologically destructive. Stopping all dredging, which causes more environmental harm, would be another good place to start.

Jeff Hoffman
San Francisco

Jeff — Why settle for half measures? If you really want to help the environment, why not support a Jim Jones'-style extinction of the human race?

You're correct, we are big supporters of world trade for the simple reason that it's been the engine that's pulled more humans out of poverty than anything else in history. We think that's a good thing. In fact, whenever we hear somebody say they are against world trade, we also hear the corollary, which is that they're also in favor of global poverty. Idiots! Even St. Bono of U2 argues that what the world really needs is more, not less, globalization.

It's childlike to think that you can do anything as simple as "prioritize" the environment over economic concerns, as they are totally interdependent. If you think the world's got environmental problems now, just throw six billion people back into poverty and see what an orb of misery and war you'll have. And if you think poverty doesn't breed inefficiency, stupidity, violence and waste, you haven't been spending enough time in the Third World.

We're not arguing that improvements shouldn't be made to World Trade. For example, the mindless consumption of crap ought to be curtailed — but that's a personal decision that has to be made by each one of the four billion of us who can afford to buy such rubbish. And the massive pollution caused by the burning of bunker oil — as well as archaic union work rules in places such as Southern California — should have been remedied years ago. But still, let's not cut off our noses to spite our faces.

As fun as it might be to allow yourself to be consumed by "visceral hatred," the downside is that it blinds you, and leads you to crazy ideas such as thinking it would be better to have more smaller ships. Aren't you the least bit familiar with economies of scale as they apply to both economics and the environment? What's next, are you going to call for people to abandon buses because they are big and go back to using single-passenger vehicles?


I always enjoy reading Latitude 38 , but every once in a while something inaccurate slips by your watchful eye. For example, in the article Captain's Licensing there were a few items in the 'Licenses for Operation' section that were less than your typical perfection. To give credit where it's due, the licensing requirements and the Code of Federal Regulations are difficult to read and understand, so this sort of thing crops up from time to time.

1) Uninspected passenger vessel (OUPV or 'Six-Pack') licenses are, in fact, not issued at various levels of tonnage. They are issued for inspected vessels, e.g., 25 GT, 50 GT, 100 GT, etc. (FYI, I have a 50 GT, and had an OUPV, which I had to relinquish when I was issued my Inland Master license. I still have my OUPV for Near Coastal.) In addition, the tests are not "the same," but they are similar. You have to get a higher percentage of the questions correct and, if my recollection serves me, there are more questions in the tests for the Master-level licenses.

Even less well understood is the maximum number of paying passengers allowed on an uninspected vessel when the skipper has a Master's license. That number is six, the same number as for an OUPV license. The number allowed only increases when it is an inspected vessel.

2) A valid day on the water can be as little as four hours, depending upon the appropriateness of the situation. Most OUPV license holders don’t document eight-hour days.

I quote from the CFR: "On vessels of less than 100 gross tons, a day is considered eight hours unless the Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection, determines that the vessel's operating schedule makes this criteria inappropriate. In no case will this period be less than four hours."

3) Just prior to this section, there was a mention of a conical, inverted shape "required" by vessels propelled by sails and engine. This is only somewhat accurate, as this applies to vessels upon international waters, or if inland, 12 meters or longer. (Rule 25). The implication from the article was, from my read, all vessels.

Jonathan (No Last Name, Please)
Planet Earth

Jonathan — Despite trying our best, we still make plenty of mistakes in every issue. We want to thank everyone who takes the time to correct any substantive errors.

Since you seem to be up on the regulations, we've got a couple of questions for you. In the old days, if someone gave the owner of a boat a sandwich, a gallon of gas, or something else of value to help offset a day's boating expenses, he/she technically became a 'paying passenger'. Given these litigious times, that would never do, so a number of years ago the Coast Guard changed the rules. As best we understand them now, a person can now contribute as much cash, sandwiches, booze and whatever he/she wants, provided that it doesn't exceed the expenses of the trip, and still not be considered a paying passenger. We have two questions. First, do we understand the regulations correctly? Second, by "not exceeding the expenses of a trip," does the law mean that the owner can include the pro rata costs for things like boat payments, insurance, haulouts, maintenance and so forth? We'll take our answer on the air.


Several years ago I wrote about sailors needing to check their PSA (prostatic specific antigen), a blood marker for early prostate cancer, as well as the need to check their boat’s bilge. I am a sailor, as well as senior cancer specialist M.D. who chose proton beam radiation therapy at Loma Linda Medical Center in the spring of '02 for curative treatment. All my flow systems work, and my own tabernacle mast and the one on my Catalina 34 Dazzler still go up and down as needed.

Keeping saltwater out of my boat has been another issue. First, there was the time I lost the rubber gasket on the screen filtering the water intake for the heat exchanger. Dumb mistake. There was also the time when the packing gland lost its packing and the bilge pump was on manual. Another dumb mistake. By far the most interesting bilge filling occurred when we were out for an afternoon sail. As I was raising Dazzler’s tabernacle rigged mast and attaching fittings, my wonderful wife and first mate said, "There sure is a lot of water coming out the back of the boat." Since I had just changed out the impeller, I wasn’t too concerned. But she insisted that I check things out, and boy was I wrong! The water was being pumped out of the bilge like a guy after prostate surgery!

I went below, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but smoke and a lot of fumes from Bertha, my trusty 1986 vintage M-25 Universal diesel. I shut things down, let the bilge pump empty the bilge, and sailed into Alamitos Bay, Long Beach, to tie up and assess the situation. I restarted the engine, and no water was exiting the boat from the saltwater pump.  After investigation with a more knowledgeable friend, we (he) discovered that I had a major leak in the exhaust system. My wonderful water pump was pumping water backwards through the exhaust leak instead of through the muffler box, as the former was the path of least resistance. I was pumping saltwater into my boat, and maybe into my engine. Unfortunately, Bertha doesn’t like saltwater in her orifices. Well, we (he) fixed it with a new elbow, new hose, new wrapping and so forth, and we were soon both happy, as Bertha was purring, and water was exiting the boat rather than entering it.

I gave my friend a generous 'thank you', and asked what I could do for him.  "I'm happy to help you fix the boat," he said, "but you should just keep talking to people about prostate cancer and effective proton curative treatment. It all comes around."

I am writing this letter from Molokai and looking at beautiful Maui. I greatly enjoy Latitude each month, and give many thanks to the staff for the many lessons learned by me and others through the Letters section. Hopefully this letter will help other sailors who find themselves pumping saltwater into their boat, and/or sailors who are diagnosed with prostate cancer and need to choose a lifesaving therapy that has minimal side effects. If you have a leaky boat, call a friend like my buddy, Ed.  If you have questions about prostate cancer, me or check out

The other lesson is that we all need to check out our personal and boat exhaust systems. To check out your personal exhaust system, have a colonoscopy after age 55 or so to prevent and defeat colon cancer. For your boat, you need to unwrap the exhaust system insulation tape after 10-15 years of service and check the integrity of the system. Let’s keep the fumes flowing out of the right holes to keep sailing in fair winds as long as possible. Saving boats and sailors one at a time seems to be my calling.

H. Terry Wepsic, M.D.
Dazzler, Catalina 34
Huntington Beach

H. Terry — An ounce of prevention works for both boats and bodies, right?


People have asked me what the sailing conditions were like in the Baja Ha-Ha.

On the morning of the start from San Diego, there was absolutely no wind 10 minutes before the start. Then it filled in, as if on cue, with 10 knots from the northwest, providing for a beautiful spinnaker start. We ended up leaving the Coronado Islands to starboard, which resulted in light wind in the lee, but it picked up again. That first afternoon my crew asked about my procedures for taking the spinnaker down. I thought I was joking when I told them that we wouldn't take it down, that God would. It really was my plan to keep it up the entire way, but at 5 a.m. on the second morning it literally blew to bits. During the roll call that morning, a few boats reported 30 knots of wind. It was a bit breezy, but I don't know about 30 knots. Anyway, that spinnaker had been my favorite. It was 24 years old and had come with my boat when I bought her. It had been repaired many times, but there's not much to fix this time. Oh well, it's a good thing we had three more onboard. We had good wind for the entire first leg, but my wife reminds me that the seas were a little "yucky."

The second leg started just like the first, and we had a headstay reach with the kite up. By midday the wind had clocked and we were running deep. As I recall, the seas were flat. By the next morning the wind had shut down entirely, and Profligate, the 63-ft catamaran mothership, started motoring for the first time. But we decided to cook breakfast and wait it out. By midday the wind was back, and we were glad we waited.

The start of the third leg, Bahia Santa Maria to Cabo, was delayed an hour. Santa Maria is a very large bay that's protected from the northwest, but not the south. There is nothing there but a fish camp and a few recently built small buildings. There was nothing there in '99. Anyway, there was a large swell coming through the anchorage that was generated by storms at 40°S, which made crossing the bar in a dinghy to get to the beach very dangerous. I made it in and out once while alone in my 15-hp powered dinghy. But I saw another dinghy with four people get flipped on their way in. When I told the rest of my crew that taking our dinghy meant we might end up swimming in, they decided to take a panga.

As many people know, pangas are open high-speed fishing boats about 20 feet long. The pangañeros are really good at driving them over the bar because they do it for a living every day. Almost everyone took a panga in the afternoon of the beach party. There was no moon, so when the sun set, it got dark very quickly. When it got dark, Richard, the owner of Latitude and the Grand Poobah of the Ha-Ha, announced that those still on shore should stay on shore rather than risk a panga ride back out through the surf. We'd gotten a panga ride back to our boat just before dark, but heard that the last one to make it out had gotten totally airborne. Mind you, this was a heavy panga full of passengers. After that, even the fearless pangañeros called it a night, resulting in 72 Ha-Ha folks — including two of the three folks who manage the event, Banjo Andy Turpin and Doña de Mallorca — having to spend the night on the beach. What a story they have.

Because of the time it took to get the folks on the beach back to their boats the next morning, the start was postponed from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. Nonetheless, it was yet another spinnaker start, with light to moderate winds and a somewhat moderate sea. By the afternoon, it was blowing pretty good, maybe 20 knots. By the next morning, it had shut down again. We were wing-on-wing with 20 miles to the finish. The wind never really came up, but we stuck it out nonetheless. We figured we could turn on the motor at any time and be in Cabo in just a few hours, so we decided to see what would happen. At times the only progress we made was due to the shore current going our way. At other times the swell, which was about six feet, got us up to two knots. I think our top speed for the day was three knots, but we crossed the finished line at 5:30 p.m., having sailed the entire Ha-Ha course. We're all glad we stuck it out.

I love doing the Ha-Ha and recommend it to everyone. In fact, I'd do it every year if I could.

Phil MacFarlane
Sail A Vie, Ericson 35
San Mateo

Phil — That you and Mark Deppe, who was part of the Profligate crew, both enjoyed the Ha-Ha meant a lot to us. After all, the two of you have seven Singlehanded TransPacs to your credit, and you've both won the event, so we have great respect for your sailing skills and your opinions.

The Ha-Ha boats get spread out over quite a distance, some inshore and some offshore, so boats reporting considerably different wind strengths doesn't surprise us. Like you, we never saw 30 knots on the first leg, but we sure didn't see 20 on the afternoon of the third leg either. We would have loved that! Our best sailing was just after crossing the finish line of the first leg, when Carol Cort, wife of the Los Angeles YC Commodore Dave Cort, used the warm winds to repeatedly rip off extended bursts of 17 to 18 knots in flat water. It was idyllic. Having done the Ha-Ha course at the same time of year for 14 out of the last 15 years, we can report that it was a typical weather year. The wind was a little stronger than normal the first night out of San Diego and maybe a little lighter on the afternoon of the second leg, and the air was a few degrees warmer at night, but all in all, it was typical Ha-Ha weather.

By the way, the decision to make the announcement that nobody should go back out across the bar at Bahia Santa Maria after it got dark was a no-brainer. A longtime surfer, we understand the damage those kinds of waves could have done to a panga full of people, both on impact and once 10 or so folks not used to swimming in big waves — let alone big waves in the pitch black — found themselves in the drink. After all, why risk the very real possibility of somebody being injured or killed when the other option was to stay ashore, where it was warm enough that there weren't going to be exposure issues and where there was food and water? We'd make the same decision any time.


Twelve years ago, we sailed from Berkeley to Baja and left our Valiant 40 at Puerto Escondido. Each year since, we've returned for two to three month's worth of cruising. Up until just a few years ago, we were used to seeing 50 to 60 boats in the Inner Harbor, and even more during Loreto Fest.

Puerto Escondido was arguably the safest hurricane hole in the Sea of Cortez until '05, at which time Singlar kicked out all the anchored boats and put in more than 100 unsafe moorings, making it one of the least safe places in the Sea. It bothers us that word the moorings aren't safe hasn't been getting around, and that Americans there who know better aren't telling people.

What's wrong with the moorings? They were built 'upside down', with line from the block up to the chain at the top instead of vice versa. In addition, the line is not spliced, but rather attached with a galvanized clamp. They are so bad that buoys have broken loose in strong weather — even with no boats attached. The latest failure took place during Hurricane Henriette in October, when the mooring the sloop Erikazona was on broke loose, causing her to sink on the rocks. You can see the photo of the result on page 201 of the October Latitude. The mooring did not drag, as Latitude had been told, it broke.

Adding credence to the fact that the moorings are bad, Singlar tells us that money would be available to repair them "sometime in 2008."

Speaking of money, one of the reasons there have been so many problems at Puerto Escondido is that Singlar's rates for moorings are so high that nobody has wanted to pay them. As a result, most moorings that have been put in have never had a boat on them, and the once-thriving cruiser community, which tended to watch over the boats of folks who had gone back to the States, has disappeared. Most boats and their owners have left.

Call us naïve, but since there had never been any significant number of thefts in Puerto Escondido prior to Singlar putting in the moorings, we still thought it was safe to leave our boat in Escondido after the cruising community had left. But starting this fall, unoccupied boats were broken into. Our boat, which was on an improved Singlar mooring, was hit on or before October 11. Even though a Singlar employee noted that our companionway was open, they failed to notify us for another 11 days, by which time $16,000 of equipment and personal items — all the radios, the little dinghy motor, solar cells, dive gear, sail sheets, tools, etc. — had been stolen.

After we were notified of the theft, we arranged for our boat to be moved and we flew down. We were devastated. We also learned that our boat was the fourth one to be broken into. The next shock we got was what we consider to be the total lack of support from members of the local American community, most of whom live ashore in neighboring Juncalito. The police told us that the prime burglary suspects lived in Juncalito, and that palapas there had been broken into. When we inquired about this on the net, it was met with silence. When we asked acquaintances of many years about it, we got more silence. Finally, one person told us that we should leave! Only our real friends offered assistance.

We then spent a week working with the police, district attorney, and Singlar attorney, and discovered what we believe is the real reason for the silence. The police investigations of criminal activity in the area include Federal officials, and many Juncalito Americans have 'dirty laundry' to hide. We only met one Juncalito resident who refuses to live in fear and who takes action when threatened. The others prefer to bury their heads in the sand and distance themselves from victims. Some refuse to speak out against Singlar, and because they hope to get future employment from Singlar remain silent about the condition of the moorings.

We shall continue pursuing action to recover our stolen goods and compensation for our losses. Nonetheless, as we were leaving for La Paz, we heard angry remarks directed at us by cruisers who didn't know the details of the crime against us and hadn't even been in Escondido at the time. It was a sad commentary on human nature.

As for the Hidden Port YC, it's really just a 'palapa club', meaning people who live ashore. There is no active boating community in Puerto Escondido like there used to be before Singlar came in.

We are sad and angry — but will not let other cruisers be fooled. All the Singlar moorings are bad, and the Inner Harbor and Juncalito are no longer safe anchorages.

Jane Pitts and Frank Hubach
Shore Loser, Valiant 40
La Paz / Northern California


The November Sightings article titled "Horseshoe Cove Marina Faces Closure" leaves out some important facts.

First, the Presidio YC is a social organization under the sponsorship of 60th Services Squadron, Travis Air Force Base. Membership is available to all active duty and reserve military forces, retired military, federal employees, National Park employees and auxiliary members of the Coast Guard. The docks do not belong to the club; the buildings do not belong to the club; the rental/training boats do not belong to the club; and the bar and grill does not belong to the club.

As the Presidio YC continues to bring in members who are not associated with the military, they continue to forget the prime mission of the marina. It is not for the PYC members, it is for use by the military members — active duty, reservist, guardsman, and retired military — who have earned that privilege through honorable service. Those participants who are government employees or who work for Homeland Security — to include the USCG Auxiliary — or work for the National Park Service are invited to participate with the Presidio YC and can then, through that door, use the marina services.

Presidio YC members work at the marina attempting to maintain the docks and the buildings, assist with maintenance of the boats at times, and promote seamanship and nautical activities. They are also allowed to use the facilities for club functions. But contrary to what many people think, the marina is not part of the Presidio YC. By doing this work, the members provide a symbiotic relationship with the Air Force, since they provide the free labor to maintain the facilities at no cost to the military. If not for that fact, the marina would probably have closed in '96. When the Presidio was turned over to the civilian population, Travis Marina could have taken possession of the docks and parking areas, but the military was not interested in gaining additional property during the time when military installations around the world were being closed. It was an opportunity missed, Travis Services Squadron and the National Park Service established a rental agreement. You can say that the nails were being driven into the marina coffin at that moment

That said, let's discuss why the marina is being closed. All MWR facilities must meet some basic requirements to survive in today’s military: They must meet the mission of providing recreation opportunities for all military members, they must be cost effective, and they must reflect a positive image for the military. How does the Travis Marina measure up to these standards?

Mission: The Travis Marina, the bar and grill, and the Travis Sailing Academy exist for the sole purpose of providing recreational services to the members of the Armed Forces. The biggest attraction for the location of the Travis Marina is also its biggest detriment — it's 55 miles from the base and is not served by public transportation. For many young airmen, it would be too expensive to make the trip, even if they did own a car. And once they have participated in sailing activities, they face a long drive back to the base. The distance also keeps the facility out of the day-to-day thoughts of leadership. Many commanders and first sergeants aren't aware that the marina exists and, if they are, they haven't taken time to visit the facility. In any event, the primary purpose of having an MWR site at Horseshoe Cove is not being fulfilled.

Cost Effectiveness: There is a lack of funds designated to the marina, so the docks are literally falling apart. Pilings are rotting and breaking with those being replaced by concrete pours mixed at the dock and poured down a tube that surrounds the rotten timber; the dock fingers lack cleats and are unstable; and the utilities — both water and power — are unreliable, with the power boxes lacking individual circuit breakers. The cost to bring these up to the standards as set forth by Army Corps of Engineers or even the California Department of Boating and Waterways would be in the many millions of dollars, especially given the location and the need to meet all of the restrictions established in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Marina is not cost effective.

Image: As mentioned before, the docks are in disrepair. To add to this problem, red tape and lack of support from base leadership has led to the marina being occupied by a number of dilapidated vessels. Some are absentee owners who may or may not be current with their dock fees. If those owners are not absent, their boats are often covered in mold, dirt, and pollution; the bottoms are covered in marine growth; dock boxes and various boat parts crowd the small walkways; and the lines, often supplied by the marina, are tied together sections of various sizes. The cove is slowly silting in, and is also the dumping ground of the Bay, with dunnage and flotsam, dead animals, and of course, oil spills, all finding their way into the marina. In addition, the Cove has problems with high levels of feces in the water. And although there have been major strides taken to clean up the buildings, the Presidio YC and boatowners have been using the marina buildings for their private storage facility. As a result, the marina is not in 'Spit and Polish Fashion' as should be expected of a military facility, and therefore does not present a positive image.

I support the Air Force having a marina. I support the need for members of the military being able to learn to sail at prices they can afford. Having learned to sail at the Travis Sailing Academy, I support the need for the military members to have a recreational outlet. Until recently, my wife and I ran, on a voluntary basis, the Travis Sailing Academy, making it the most profitable MWR facility at Travis. We had people come from as far as Omaha, to take sail training at our facility, and one of the students became an instructor. As an American Sailing Association facility, we graduated students with an average score of greater than 90%. We’d love to continue to teach sailing — with compensation — for the Air Force.

Having said all that, I don't believe it's in the best interest of the military to maintain the current Travis Marina site. More suitable locations, such as Mare Island, would be better suited for the younger airman if the Air Force wanted to have a marina. Public transportation is available, it’s only about 20 minutes from the base, and you can add fishing boats to the mix for a full-service MWR facility.

I'd also like to address anchoring at Horseshoe Cove. It's necessary to use a fluted anchor, as plow anchors won't hold in the soft mud. Those who do anchor there will be affected by the tides, currents, gusty winds, and noise from the 24-hour flow of traffic across the Golden Gate Bridge. While an overhead view of Horseshoe Cove might make it appear similar to the Ayala Cove at Angel Island, Mr. Kasiersk has never spent a night on the hook or even tied up to a dock in Horseshoe Cove. It’s not the most comfortable place. But one thing is sure, you can't beat the view! So if somebody could dredge the entire cove and did a good job of putting in some mooring balls, you could have a nice view while being bounced around all night.

Jeffrey Keeton, USAF (Ret)
ASA Instructor — CONI
P B & J, Hunter 31

Jeffrey — Thanks to your portrayal, which is as gloomy as a foggy and windy February afternoon in the Cove, it would seem that the marina isn't a good fit with the military. Indeed, we have to wonder how it ever could have been, and are curious what kind of Treasury-draining boondoggle ever created it. Nonetheless, it's a rare and unique marina site, so we think it ought to be made available to folks or organizations with greater vision and resources. Wouldn't you agree?


On November 12, I visited the Greenwich Observatory in England, GPS in hand, and stood on the prime meridian. My GPS read 51° 28' 677"N, 00° 00' 088"W. I had to walk a couple of hundred feet west in order to get all zeros.

I couldn't get an explanation from the Observatory.

John Hill,
Ariel, Columbia 29

John — That's hilarious! We presume, although aren't certain, that there's a very simple explanation, and that it's the same one that results in GPS charts not corresponding with reality in various places in Mexico. The problem is that the charts, which were based on less-accurate pre-GPS navigation methods, are simply wrong. If this is true, we think the folks at Greenwich should create a new, accurate line, and then use both the old and new to show how navigation accuracy has improved over the years.

Speaking of Greenwich, isn't that one of the most bitchin' places in the world for a sailor to visit? For those who haven't been there, the Royal Naval Observatory was established, on beautiful grounds, by King Charles II in 1675 to figure out a way to accurately determine longitude, as the inability to do so was causing the loss of many British ships around the world. The Observatory soon became the acknowledged experts in determining longitude. We've been lucky enough to visit a number of times, and have always enjoyed the walk from the park-like grounds of the Observatory to the town of Greenwich, with the Cutty Sark in the background. While still in the park and just before Greenwich, you see few signs of modern life, but do see the tall masts and broad yards of the Cutty Sark in the distance, so it's easy to imagine yourself in London hundreds of years ago, on your way to your ship, about to set sail for the West Indies.

By the way, to show you how cooperative the French can be with the international community, in 1884 delegates from around the world gathered at the International Meridian Conference in Washington to come up with a single prime meridian. At the time, 72% of the world's shipping was using Greenwich as the prime meridian, while the other 28% of the world's shipping were using 10 other prime meridians. The French said they would only accept the prime meridian at Greenwich if Great Britain adopted the metric system. While virtually all of the world accepted Greenwich as the prime meridian, and Great Britain did adopt the metric system, the French went back on their word and kept their own prime meridian for many years.

Greenwich Time is mean solar time, with midday defined as the time at which the sun crosses the Greenwich Meridian, which, by definition, is 0 degrees longitude. Originally, a second was defined as 1/86400th of a mean solar day. But because scientists later determined that the earth wobbles in its planetary orbit, in the '60s a second began being defined by relation to the speed of which radiation was emitted from an atom of caesium 133. No, we don't understand it either. In any event, it was then that Universal Coordinated Time, or UTC, despite the abbreviation being wrong, replaced Greenwich Mean Time, although almost everybody still refers to it as Greenwich Mean Time or GMT. While UTC is based on Greenwich time, it's coordinated from Paris because, you know, the rest of the world had to throw the French a bone to get them to come along and play with everyone else.

By the way, the last time we were at Greenwich, Doña de Mallorca straddled the prime meridian — and said that it "tickled." Since it apparently wasn't the prime meridian after all, do you suppose that she was just putting us on or was the tickling self-induced?


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