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April 2008

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There was a letter in the February issue from Evan Dill which included the following line: "I left my Crowther 48 catamaran Java unattended at Puerto Don Juan for seven weeks. Before I left, I placed a sign on the companionway door explaining, in English, how to get inside my boat."

These are two of the most extraordinary sentences I have ever read - even before adding the fact that this man has actually, and unbelievably, been complaining that his boat was broken into. It's simply amazing, not only that he thought it was a good idea to leave the boat as good as open, but thinks that it is all right to leave a boat unattended at anchor during hurricane season for seven weeks (!) with just a note of directions for others to get his boat out of trouble should the need arise. There must be a reason why the picture that accompanies Mr. Dill's letter shows him in a car.

Jorge Ventura
North Atlantic

Jorge - We have mixed feelings about boats being left unattended on the hook for long periods of time during hurricane season, but we can assure you that it's not at all uncommon in Mexico and many parts of the Caribbean. And in more than a few cases, boats are left unattended for years, not just seven weeks.

In Dill's defense, hurricanes very rarely make it as far north as Don Juan, he set out a number of anchors against the possibility that there might be heavy weather, and he went to the trouble of making it easy for people to deal with his boat, if necessary. That's more than most other cruisers who leave their unattended boats for long periods of time can say.

We also think you mischaracterized Dill's reaction to having had so much stuff selectively stolen from his boat. He wasn't angry - "It's only money," he told us - he was merely disappointed in what he assumed, based on what was taken and what wasn't, were his fellow cruisers. Depending on one's perspective, it seems to us Dill could be faulted or lauded for being too idealistic.


In the March 10 'Lectronic, you had a nice photo by Heather Corsaro of a group of small rays swimming in the ocean. You wondered what the proper name would be for a group of rays. They would be referred to, of course, as a 'beam' of rays.

Nick Mark Wiltz
Hood River, Oregon

Nick - Very funny! By the way, we did a little check on some of the group names for sea life and birds and came up with the following: a grind of bottlenose whales; a gam of whales; a bale, dole or turn of turtles; a shiver of sharks; a romp of otters; a brook, smuck or smack of jellyfish; an array of eels; a bushel of crabs; a congregation of crocs; a troubling of goldfish; and a shitload of oysters. Wait, just kidding about the last one. Unfortunately, we've been unable to find the correct name for a group of sting rays. Can anybody help?

Does anybody know who gets to make up these names? After all, a 'troubling' of goldfish!?


I grew up surfing the Southern California coast between Encinitas and Carlsbad just north of Swami's. When we were learning to surf in the '60s, nobody had surfboard leashes, so we spent a lot of time swimming to the beach to retrieve our boards after wipeouts. I had the misfortune of being stung by rays more times than any of my other buddies during these swim/walks to the beach to retrieve my board. It was probably a reflection of my surfing skills at the time.

Anyway, I wanted to pass on this folk remedy for any cruisers who get barbed by rays. The tried and true treatment for a stingray wound is soaking it in hot water with baking soda. This treatment was common knowledge with the locals, and it's what everybody did after getting stung. I can testify that it worked for me, as it took away the pain and my foot never got infected.

P.S. Thanks for 25 years of great reading, photos, and so forth.

Gregg Mirr
Diva, Cal 2-28

Gregg - Thanks for the tip. The current recommended treatment is to keep pouring water that's all but scalding hot on the wound, which somehow breaks down the proteins that cause the pain. We're not sure what the baking soda might add to the remedy, but we're sure it's not going to prevent an infection. So after the hot water treatment, a visit should be paid to a doctor to make sure there isn't any of the barb left in the wound and to get stuff to prevent infection. After that, the wound should be monitored for infection until it's completely healed.

It was in the early '60s that we started surfing at Kelly's Cove in San Francisco, Wanderer Inn in Pacifica, and Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz. Sometimes we made these trips with a fellow named Wayne Moscow, who later became a yacht broker in Northern California. In the mid-'60s, he often spoke about inventing some kind of strap between the board and a surfer's ankle to prevent the board from being washed to shore after a wipeout. We and the others in our little surf pack hooted and hollered at what a stupid idea it was, so he never got around to developing it. We probably cost him a million dollars. Such is life. The morals of the story are not to let others obscure your visions, and that packs of surfers tend to be collective morons.


This may be a very stupid question, but I don't know the answer. We're currently sailing a Catalina 34 but, unfortunately, as we've gotten older, our knees don't work as well as they did before. This means it's not so easy when we visit other marinas for my wife and me to jump down to the dock with lines in our hands. So far it's not been that bad because the Catalina has a relatively low freeboard and because we normally have one of our two sons sailing with us. But we're thinking of moving to a larger boat with higher freeboard, and we'd like to know how other senior sailors manage to do it - especially in strong winds when somebody must quickly jump off the boat and cleat the lines.

Mark Johnston
Palo Alto

Mark - We think that's a great question, not a stupid question. And frankly, we don't know the answer because Profligate's back steps mean we don't have the same issues getting on and off as do monohulls. But we're certain other owners of monohulls have similar issues and can offer some suggestions.


I've been a liveaboard in a Bay Area marina since '01. My liveaboard community is very congenial - everyone I've met there is happy to live on a boat and has been willing to make large sacrifices to do just that. They live aboard for the love of sailing and being in a boating environment.

Then the old harbormaster was pushed out. He couldn't have been too bad, however, because he was quickly snapped up by another marina in San Francisco Bay. Enter a new and very corporate harbormaster at our marina, one who has a greater passion for the bottom line than for boating.

The new harbormaster just presented us all with a new contract that stipulates such things as a new $25 fee to park in the parking lot, which happens to be owned by the city of Richmond. Another new rule is that nobody is allowed to have more than one car. This makes it hard on me, as I'm a contractor, and therefore need a work truck as well as an economical car. The harbormaster is now telling me that I face eviction if I don't get rid of one vehicle - even though there are plenty of parking spaces.

O.K. fine, whatever. Except that in this contract is the stipulation that if we refuse to sign the contract we will be evicted with a mere three-day notice. In fact, the contract states that, should we not follow the contract exactly, we will be evicted with just three days notice. The contract also states that the marina may evict anyone, at any time, for no reason at all, again with the three-day notice. I know of four people who have been evicted already. These people had decent, well-maintained boats, and were very low key. By looking at their boats you'd have had no idea they were liveaboards.

I know a little bit about landlord and tenant laws for buildings on land, and such rules as stated above - particularly in light of the implication that any of us could be made homeless with three days notice for no reason whatsoever - are patently illegal. Assuming, of course, we're talking about a tenant in a house.

I've done several Google searches, but haven't found any information about what rights - if any - liveaboards have in a California marina. As you might imagine, it's very disconcerting to have a non-boating harbormaster threatening everyone with three-day evictions. It's also sad to have a corporate guy come in and spoil the boating spirit by declaring, in his words, that he wants the marina to become "the most lucrative harbor on the Bay."

But really, how many boatowners are the stereotyped multimillionaire? The folks who own boats in my marina are predominantly working class folks who love sailing. I own a boat in the mid-30-ft range, and spend every spare minute and nickel I have on her. I live aboard so that I may own such a boat and enjoy sailing on the Bay. Is this lifestyle soon to be frowned upon to the point that it is disallowed?

Name Withheld by Request
San Francisco Bay

N.W.B.R. - To our knowledge, most liveaboards have few rights compared to folks who rent space in homes, apartments and condos. It may not be fair, but that's the way it is. As such, the best thing you can do is be a model tenant and give the harbormaster as little reason as possible to find fault with you. If he wants you to get one of your vehicles out of the parking lot, don't fight him, but figure out a way to keep one of them elsewhere. Keep in mind that it's normal for a new harbormaster to come and throw his weight around, both to impress his superiors and to let all the tenants know that he's in charge. It's not necessarily a bad thing as long as he becomes more friendly and mellow - as most do - with time. As such, your strategy should be short term sacrifices for long term gain. As we said, it might not be right, and it may make you angry, but it's making the best of the situation. Good luck.


My, my, now, haven't we all gotten worked up about Sterling Hayden? Now, if your reader, Mr. Seltzer, wasn't particularly impressed with Hayden's Wanderer, or what Hayden personally did in his life, that's certainly his subjective observation. But Latitude wasn't very objective when claiming that he "is most famous for defying a judge's orders and sailing to Tahiti with his kids . . ." Really? Is that incident the defining moment in Sterling Hayden's life? I think not. My observations are a little more objective.

He was a seagoing skipper by age 15. A Commando and Marine. He fought the Nazis with Yugoslav partisans during World War II. He completed dangerous undercover spy work on behalf of the OSS during the war. Yes, and although he despised the film industry - and isn't that a recurring theme in everything from Sunset Boulevard to the novels of Nathaniel West - he pulled off some memorable moments in film, including his roles in The Asphalt Jungle, The Killers, The Godfather, and as the absolutely elliptical and off-balance Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove. There's another book, of course, Voyage, a fictional portrait of schoonermen and the sailing life between San Francisco and Asia.

Your sense of literary and film criticism are also slightly out of kilter, for I don't think Hayden ever presented himself, either in real life or in literature, as a "principled and heroic rebel figure." In fact, the opposite is true, as you've noted. During the Red Scare he turned evidence on his Hollywood colleagues, and was forever self-tortured for "ratting" on his film colleagues; he expressed indecision and self-doubt about his incestuous relationship with the industry; he expressed in later interviews his sadness at the way in which he made a mess of his marriages and how he'd mistreated his wives. He copped to his misuse of alcohol, cannabis and cocaine.
But for me, and all but forgotten by others, are the memories of Sterling Hayden being dragged by San Francisco cops out of a Van Ness auto dealership in the early '60s, his long, lanky body being banged on the pavement and his long white beard flowing in the 'Frisco breeze. Hayden had put his body on the line as a protestor for the rights of African-Americans to apply for jobs as automobile salesmen.

Sorry, folks, but when you come up for the tally sheet, tell me how you stand up against Captain Hayden, and then we'll dole out the awards. Warts and all, he was bigger than life. I still haven't read much about Tom Seltzer.

Michael Dobrin

Michael - We're not at all worked up about Sterling Hayden, and while he certainly was a larger-than-life character, we think our evaluation of him was fair and dispassionate. For when it comes to evaluating someone's life, we, like the great moralist - and hypocrite - Eliot Spitzer, feel it should be done not just on the basis of what they achieved, but what they had the potential to achieve. There is no denying Hayden's dedication to his children or his courageous military service, but so much of the rest of it - including his performance as captain of Wanderer on the famous passage to Tahiti - would fall under the 'what might have been' category.

Fortunately for sailors looking for a genuine heroic figure, there is Francis Joyon, who, among many other things, recently sailed his 97-ft trimaran IDEC around the world singlehanded in the astonishing time of just 57 days. In the event that some of you think that we at Latitude have gone disproportionately ga-ga over the Frenchman's achievement, it's interesting to read what the most prestigious English language sailing magazines have had to say about him. Andrew Hurst's editorial in Seahorse, the hardcore ocean racer's bible, started this way:
"What better antidote could there be to the current America's Cup silliness than Francis Joyon's successful completion of another breathtaking singlehanded lap of the planet? There is no one in sailing more stylish than Joyon, nor is there anyone out there who better encapsulates all that is good about the sport itself. We are lucky to be around to enjoy Joyon's accomplishments, luckier still to be in a position to absorb the manner in which he goes about his business." Mind you, this is a Brit writing about a Frenchman in a publication not known for being kissy-ass.

As for Yachting World, editor Andrew Bray listed the top sailing achievements in his 30 years of covering the sport, then concluded, ". . . none is more extraordinary than the events that have been played out over the last few weeks - the phenomenon that is Francis Joyon." He later wrote, "Sadly, I was not able to be in Brest to welcome him back, but I do know that I've witnessed one of the greatest sailing achievements of all times."

Why is Joyon so universally admired and respected? For starters, despite his preference for the simple and less expensive, he never complains, never asks for help, yet has a record of astonishing achievements. Yes, his 97-ft trimaran is new, but she was designed and built using less expensive production boat construction techniques, and her ama rudders had already sailed the equivalent of 10 times around the world. None of the blocks on IDEC are the same because they came from what Joyon had collected over the years. The tri's wheel isn't high-tech and lightweight carbon, but rather an old stainless one from a previous boat. Joyon loves refurbing old stuff instead of buying new, something that gave Nigel Irens, IDEC's co-designer, sleepless nights. Joyon's primary seat on IDEC is a ratty plastic armless thing that looks like it was discarded by a beach bar in Mexico. What's more, Joyon really lives green, and didn't use any fossil fuel while averaging just under 20 knots around the world. In addition to being genuinely modest, Joyon simply doesn't care about the press. He could be the Tiger Woods of France when it comes to endorsements, but he's not interested in the fame, glory or money. When he's not tearing up the oceans of the world, he does things like build a humble home for his family, or cruise with them aboard their cobbled together cruising catamaran in the Pacific.
We think Nigel Irens, as quoted in
Seahorse, said it best: "When you shake Joyon's hand, it stays shook."


In a recent issue, you wrote about 'sailing stunts', and said you half remembered a Mexican fellow who sailed a 15-ft Finn from Mexico to the South Pacific, and who later planned to repeat the voyage in a log canoe. Well, his name is Carlos Aragon, he currently lives in Mexico City, and he's still interested in such voyages.

After the Finn trip to the South Pacific, he and another person attempted to replicate the trip in a dugout log. The attempt was abandoned for a number of reasons: the other person aboard wasn't that determined; they left too late in the season; and the log was overloaded. After a couple of months at sea, they made landfall in Colima, not far from where they started. It's my understanding that Aragon is looking for sponsors for a sailing trip down the east coast of Mexico from the Mayan area to Venezuela or some such, in a kind of vessel the Mayans would have used.

A couple of other adventures come to mind in this area. There was "The Cruise of the Cow" in the '50s made by a guy named Max Miller. It wasn't exactly cruising, but it was an adventure that involved boating in the Sea of Cortez. Long before Miller were Dan and Ginger Lamb, who 'circumnavigated' the Baja Peninsula, then continued on to Panama aboard a homebuilt kayak in the '30s. They wrote Enchanted Vagabonds about the trip. It was published by Harper and Brothers in '38, although I'm not sure I believe everything they wrote.

Mary Shroyer
Marina de La Paz
La Paz, Mexico, B.C.S.

Mary - Great stuff, thank you.


I guess that the publisher of Latitude checked with Tom Reardon, captain of the classic 72-ft Herreshoff ketch Ticonderoga, and he didn't want you to give me, a guy who would like to crew on the boat, his email address. I respect that.

But did the publisher ask Reardon about the rookie crew that I mentioned who said he'd gotten a ride on Ti? Did you forward my email to Tom? It seems like Reardon only recruits 20-year-old Mensa bodybuilders.

But thank you for your response to my letter, and the seasoned, if somewhat overripe advice, along with the unsolicited-and-inapplicable-but-ever-so-enlightening-and-condescending description of Ticonderoga's 'program'. While I am deeply honored that you took time between drinks and high-level meetings with the captain of the Ticonderoga in St. Barts to draft a response to my letter, I think you and Reardon may be enjoying just a little too much distilled sugar mash. Because I have a link that shows the rookie I referred to, Michael Brown, who sailed aboard Ti, standing on the dock next to Reardon.

I guess Brown was lucky that he wrote to the Boston YC in hopes of getting a ride. It's a good thing he didn't try to get his ride on the Ti by writing to the publisher of Latitude, the very good friend and drinking buddy of Reardon - as I did.

I guess Brown got a ride because he took photos? Or because he climbed Mt. Everest - although he doesn't say if he made it to the top. He certainly doesn't fit your profile of the ideal Ticonderoga crew.

Anyway, after I read Brown's story, I thought that maybe the owner and captain of the Ti were regular guys, and open to allowing a regular guy like me the opportunity to sail with them. Why me? Well, I have lots of sailing experience, along with 31 years of honorable service to our country's Army. In addition to knowing the difference between a sheet and a guy, I can tell some good almost-war stories.

My military and life experiences not withstanding, I disagree with your opinion and assumptions about my sailing abilities. I have sufficient knowledge and experience to crew on any boat. While I have never been a paid professional, I've spent many years of my life on boats of all kinds, including four years of college dinghy racing, and a dozen races on various 40- to 50-footers. And I promise you, packing a chute for a sailboat is a lot less demanding than packing a real 'chute you're going to use to jump out of a combat airplane.

I have great admiration and respect for those who race big boats, but it hardly requires the intelligence of a computer chip designer or the athletic skill of an NFL player. Tacticians have to be kinda smart, and America's Cup coffee grinder turners have to be big and strong, but other positions on a vintage sailboat probably fall somewhere in between and far from those extremes.

Given my degree in Engineering from West Point, with minors in Applied Math and Computer Science, IBM just might accept an offer from me to work for free since they once made me a job offer to work for pay. And while I certainly don't have the size and abilities of a professional football players, at 50 years old I can still bench press over 200 lbs, run a mile in six minutes, and swim a mile in under 20 minutes. How many 20-something-year-old crew can do the same? As for the social side of sailing, well, let's just say you made some assumptions about my abilities that are very contrary to fact. At the very least, I'm sure I could to teach those youngsters on Reardon's boat a little humility so they don't wind up being mushy old blowhards.

Maybe we just had a misunderstanding. Maybe I should have been more clear in my initial letter to you. Crewing on the Ti during a race, or becoming involved in the 'program', was not my intention or expectation. I would just like to contribute to a sail on her anywhere. Regardless, thank you for making it clear that, should that day ever come, it will be with no thanks due to you.

But no hard feelings. In fact, I make you this offer - you're invited to participate in some Army activities, such as rifle, pistol, or automatic weapons firing. Maybe a ride in a helicopter - if you're not afraid of getting airsick - or something similarly adventurous. Or, if you prefer something more nautical, a ride on an aircraft carrier or submarine. And don't be concerned that you might not be smart enough or be fit enough to join in. The history of our military has taught us that success is not dependent on what's in a soldier's head or hands, all that matters is what's in his heart.

In the meantime, hoist a few for me with Tom on your oh-so-special boats, with your strapping young, smart crews in ol' St. Barts, while I do my small part, along with my band of landlubbers, to keep you safe when you get back home.

Bob M.
Planet Earth

Bob - Your personality, as presented in your letter, is a perfect example of why we don't play matchmaker between people we don't know and the owners/captains of boats. And for the record, no, we absolutely did not forward your email to Reardon. After all, despite your sailing experience, you clearly still don't understand that the ability to play well with others is a far more important crew quality than physical strength or superior intelligence. Nor do you have any idea what's involved in running and maintaining a boat like Ti, because yes, it does require an organized program.

In addition, you ignorantly insulted a number of really fine people - including Ti's owner, captain and crew. For example, on what basis did you decide that the Ti crew needs to be taught any humility? As for Reardon, he doesn't drink distilled sour mash. Further, he's about as 'regular' a professional captain as you could want to know, something anyone on the docks in Greenwich, Newport, Antigua and St. Barth could vouch for.

In order to try to make an intelligent response to your letter, we asked Reardon your question about a rookie crew on Ti for a race last year. He thought about it carefully for a minute or two, and said 'no', he didn't recall any. You assume that he was lying. We assumed that he simply didn't recall anyone. After all, we sail with about as many people on Profligate as he does on Ti and, given all the other various distracting responsibilities in running a boat, there's no way we can remember half the people we've sailed with in the last six months.

And what's with the persecution complex? About 30 years ago, Brad Avery, now head of the superb School of Sailing and Seamanship at Orange Coast College in Newport Beach, went to the Caribbean as a young pup to get his fill of sailing. When he saw Ti, he fell in love, and was determined to become part of the crew. Despite being an experienced sailor, he was turned down over and over by her then-captain. Finally, after three years and three seasons of going back and forth across the Atlantic on other boats, he was taken on as part of the crew. So please accept the fact that there aren't a bunch of elitist assholes wasting their time trying to stick it to you.

Could you please stop with your attempts at guilt tripping over our Armed Forces? We haven't always agreed with U.S. foreign and military policy, but we've never once questioned the good intentions of the individuals serving in the Armed Forces. Indeed, we think most young people would benefit more from four years of structure and discipline in the military than the four years of pampering and coddling they get in many high schools and colleges.

As for the inference that we're part of a secret little club and therefore get to sail on great boats, how do you explain our February issue article telling regular folks - like you, if you knock that stupid chip off your shoulder - how to get rides on some of these great boats? Just for you, we'll sum up that article in two words: "Be there!"


When I'm elected President of the United States, I will immediately call on Congress to require that all marine hardware brackets be removable.

Ted Crum
Dominatrix, Santana 22


Ted - That's the foundation of a strong platform that we imagine Democrats, Republicans, Independents - and even those doctrinaire anarchists - can unite around. If you'll also include universal free high speed internet access and low-cost teleportation on your platform, you'll win by acclaim.


You want to know more about the history of Tehongi, the schooner that was used in the '55 film called Underwater! starring Jane Russell? I'm 84 years old now, but remember that, back in '51, Jacques Markwalder sailed her from Wellington, New Zealand, to Victoria, B.C., via Rapa, Papeete, Pearl, finally anchoring her off the Royal Victoria YC. It was there that I bought her.

Built of kauri pine, Tehongi was 42 feet long, had a draft of six feet, and a beam of only nine feet. She had a 10-hp single-cylinder National diesel that you started by handcranking. With some pains, I sailed her from Cape Flattery to San Francisco, San Diego - where we became charter members of the SSCA - Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. When we got there, we were the only yacht in Puerto Vallarta.

We had no additional pains as we proceeded south and east to Panama, then through the Canal. Our transit fee was just $8.65. We sailed out to the San Blas Islands, sailed upwind to Jamaica, day-chartered for a season at Montego Bay - where it just happened that the Queen's cousin fell overboard, Errol Flynn held court, and Lester Hemingway slept on the cabin sole. Then it was on to Nassau for the sailing pictures off Lyford Cay that were used in RKO's Underwater! I even doubled - at the helm - for Gilbert Roland.

We had adventures and more as I sailed her up to the Sassafras in the Chesapeake, and then sold her in '54 for what I'd paid for her. She was deep, narrow, and rolled, but was also fast and steered herself.

Years later I had a charter schooner named Tehongi II in the West Indies, and Tehongi III is the name of the Newport 30 that I berth in the Inner Harbor here at Victoria.

Memories? Oh yes!

Jim Squire
Tehongi III, Newport 30
Victoria, British Columbia

Jim - Thanks so much for sharing that bit of history with us. But you have nothing to say about '50s sex goddess Jane Russell?


I'm writing about last month's letter inquiring about the authority of a captain on a boat. I had many folks crew with me back when I owned boats, and I recall that all kinds of intelligent people - scholars, scientists and engineers - would, unless they had been on sports teams - tend to ask questions when I gave commands such as "Ready about."

The best at accepting commands - making for the smooth running of a vessel - were those who were or had been in the military or law enforcement. They knew the importance of a chain of command. And even those who had at one time had 'birds' on their collars would fall in right away. I guess they didn't get where they did by answering unasked questions or starting a mutiny over grammatical errors.

While in boot camp for the Army Corps of Engineers, I learned that, even if a general came aboard a 14-ft assault boat that I was in command of, he expected me, the captain, to tell him on which side of the boat I needed him to paddle. Some crew called me Capt. Bligh. I took that as a compliment, as Bligh was a great navigator.

Vernon Huffer
Willamette View Retirement Community
Portland, Oregon

Vernon - There can only be one captain on a boat, as all attempts to run vessels as democracies or hippie communes end up in tears. Indeed, one of the biggest obstacles to couples getting along on boats is their trying to run the boat as 'dual captains', because what can they do - but quarrel - when one captain wants to go one way and the other captain wants to go another way? The better solution is that one be the captain for one sail/day/passage, and the other be the captain on the next sail/day/passage.

While Capt. Bligh did have his shortcomings, he was indeed a courageous and competent sailor, and a brilliant navigator for, among others, Capt. Cook.


In the February Letters there was a letter by Guy Sandusky of Los Alamos, New Mexico, who is about to become the new harbormaster at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. He provided incorrect information with regard to yachts visiting that island.

First, it's so typical of the Army to hire someone from New Mexico to be the new harbormaster in Kwajalein. When I was stationed there, the new harbormaster had last been a ski patrolman at Aspen. The best part is that, having been born and raised in Colorado, he'd never even seen an ocean. Further, he could barely swim and knew nothing about boats.

Back to Kwajalein. There is a small island near the base where the workers live, but it's crowded, filthy, and has no services for private yachts. Indeed, the U.S. Missile Testing range at Kwajalein is a top secret facility, so yachts aren't even allowed within 50 miles of the atoll. So a word of warning to all you cruisers in the mid-Pacific: if you need help, don't come to Kwajalein - no matter how bad your problem. No one at the base can or will help you. In fact, they'll launch a helicopter to fly out to your yacht, photograph the name on the transom, then run it through a database to see if you're a bad guy.

Back in the day I was a pilot based out of Kwajalein, and each night we'd make trips to spot the location of the Russian 'trawler' assigned to spy on the base. We were also charged with warning yachts to stay away. It was kind of funny that the Russians kept about 12 miles offshore 365 days a year, but everyone in the command staff got worked up if some private yacht came within 70 miles because one of their crew needed medical help.

It's a federal offense to land or attempt to land at Kwajalein. The Army will impound your yacht, fine you $25,000, charge you for the one night you will be at the base, then charge you and everyone on your crew for the airfare to Honolulu. And they will be sure that you and your entire crew are on the next flight out. Once you arrive in Honolulu, they'll notify you of a $70/day boat storage fee. And if you don't somehow make plans to get the boat out of Kwajalein, they'll ship her back to Honolulu at your expense. So go to Majuro if you need help.
If, as Sandusky says, he has a subscription to Latitude, it's indeed possible to get them there. I got mine when I was based there.

I have a friend with a boat in Long Beach who is in the Coast Guard. He was worried about getting his Latitudes wherever the Coast Guard decided he was to be stationed. They sent him to Iraq. His first assignment turned out to be guarding an oil platform 200 miles out in the Persian Gulf, where they rotate U.S. and British forces. When my friend arrived, he found four copies of old Latitudes that had been left by the British Special Forces soldiers. It turned out that one of the British soldiers has a boat and girlfriend in Santa Cruz, and she was sending issues to him in England, and the military would forward them to his little platform in the Gulf.

Stephen Lee
Newport Beach

Stephen - Great stuff, thanks. While Sandusky has some experience with boats, we had the same befuddled reaction to a guy from the mountains of New Mexico being named the new harbormaster at Kwajalein.


Some of the most entertaining reads in Latitude over the years have been from the mono o gato arguments you had going on about the difference between sailing on one or two hulls. I thought that was pretty much over until you decided to stir things up again with your mini interview with Commodore Tompkins and his thoughts on having sailed a catamaran from New Zealand to Japan. I agree with most of what was said except for your closing statement. I could be one of the "almost non-existent" catamaran sailors who went back to a 'leaner', but there are probably more of us than you think.

Having grown up sailing monohulls, I've also enjoyed racing Prindle 16s and eventually owned a Seawind 24 catamaran for several years. That boat was great fun, and had the added benefit that my kids, as well as other less-seasoned sailors, seemed to like the aspect of sailing flat and fast. Still, I went back, and here's why:

1) Probably more than you'd like to admit, the fact of life is that, whether racing, daysailing or coastal cruising, the place you want to go is upwind. With only about 270° left to sail in, that's not enough to give up any more.

2) When it comes to the joy of sailing, there is a feel to sailing a keelboat to weather that you just don’t get in a cat. To illustrate the point, I’d venture to say that just about any seasoned monohuller can sail to weather, in the groove, with his eyes closed. Of course, it’s a lot more safe and enjoyable with your eyes open, but the point is that cats don’t have the hypnotic, addictive feel of a well-trimmed monohull.

3) On a practical level, with slips in short supply already, who wants to limit themselves to an end-tie?

4) Lastly, not being a cat does not necessarily make it a dog. There are a lot of fast and fun monohulls out there.

You know, a lot of people like cats, but more people have dogs. I happen to own a pointer!

Mark Weinberger
Prima, J/33
San Diego

Mark - Our thoughts on your thoughts:

1) For local sailing, upwind ability is more important. But, if you're cruising to Mexico, most of it is downhill - until it comes time to come back, at which time almost everyone motors. As for circumnavigations, most of the sailing is off the wind.

2) We absolutely agree, sailing a monohull upwind is a much more active and pleasurable experience. So is short-tacking and making other quick maneuvers. It's also more work sailing a monohull, and being heeled over makes it more fatiguing.

3) End-ties are indeed in short supply, and getting berthing for catamarans can be a real problem. On the other hand, larger cruising cats are much better for full-time anchoring out, both in California and beyond.

4) There are indeed lots of fun and fast monohulls out there. And in around-the-buoys sailing, particularly in light air, most decent and decently sailed 40-ft monohulls will kick the butts of similarly sized, and even much larger, cruising cats.

While we own one cat in Mexico and have a smaller one in a charter program in the Caribbean, there are all kinds of monohulls that we'd love to own - particularly if we weren't ever going to take the boat out of California, if we had time to race, and if we were still saving to put kids through school. The other thing to remember is that today's monohulls, as compared to the ones available 10 or 15 years ago, have dramatically improved in almost every respect. They are better looking, faster, easier to sail, and more comfortable than ever. So while we're happy with our cats, we certainly understand why most people choose monohulls.


In response to Curt Christensen's query about inexpensive catamarans in the January Latitude titled There Ain't No Such Animal, we believe that there is.

We bought our '95 Prout Quest 33 catamaran in Everett, Washington, in '03, tooled around the inside coast of Vancouver Island for about a year, then sailed her down the coast to our home in Pittsburg. The Prout behaved like a lady off the not-always-friendly coasts of Washington and Oregon. In addition, she is stoutly built, pretty and cozy. She has a single diesel inboard - like the Gemini cats - which admittedly makes docking a bit of a learning experience. A number of her sisterships have circumnavigated.

The Prout 33s have smaller, older, 31-ft sisters called Prout 31s that are just like ours - except two feet shorter. A fleet of even smaller and less expensive cats, the 26/27-ft Heavenly Twins, have also done the loop. They're a bit cramped, but are still quite popular in England.

Richard Conn & Joyce Gunn
Fantasy, Prout Quest 33

Richard and Joyce - Thanks for the heads up, as that's a segment of the boat market we're not particularly familiar with.


So you want to see photos of fish caught while cruising? After we spent three weeks in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, replacing our transmission, which failed on the south side of the Tehuantepec after a glassy passage, John was delighted to land this huge dorado. It fed us well all the way to Panama, where we gave away the last bag of frozen fish at Shelter Bay Marina, on the Caribbean side of the Canal. Once at Shelter Bay, we went on the hard to repair the skeg and get a bottom job.

By the way, during our first week at Puerto Quetzal, we had the company of a couple of cruising sailboats ­- Kevin Rooney on the Santa Cruz-based SC40 Kokopelli and the San Francisco-based Fayaway. After that, we only had sportfishing guys for company, so it got pretty dreary waiting for our new transmission to make it through Customs. With what Marina Pez Vela charged for a slip, we didn't feel we could afford many trips inland. Antigua was great, but next time we'll visit it from El Salvador.

John Forbes & Shirlee Smith
Solstice, Sceptre 41
San Francisco


Speaking of fishing from sailboats in Mexico, when I used to do Mexican races in the '70s with my Yankee 38 Audacious, my surgical partner, who was also a fisherman, insisted that we troll fishing lines. Today's serious racers wouldn't be very enthusiastic about this, but we only trolled when there was some breeze. We'd usually catch a couple of dorado each day, bake them in the oven, then serve with cocktails at sundown. Another of our crew was John Wintersteen, who, because he was a marine biologist, hated fish. He'd leave the cockpit whenever we hauled one in.

Racing was a bit more relaxed in those days, and I was sorry to see the Mexican races go away. Maybe we'll do a Baja Ha-Ha one of these years with our Cal 40 Conquest. By the way, John, one of the best sailing companions ever, won't be able to join us. He dropped dead at the wheel of his Santa Cruz 70 Hotel California a few years back while practicing man overboard drills for the TransPac. He was too young, but it wasn't a bad way to go.

Michael Kennedy
Conquest, Cal 40 #96

Michael - Maybe they don't get much publicity in Southern California, but the Mexican races haven't gone away at all. Last November, Long Beach YC held their Long Beach to Cabo Race; in February San Diego YC held the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race followed by MEXORC; and late last month Balboa YC held their race to Cabo. We hope you'll join us for a Ha-Ha, but the long distance races to Mexico are still around.


The attached photo is of a dorado we caught from our dinghy while off Isla Catalan in the Sea of Cortez way back in '00. He towed us around for 20 minutes before he got tired. I finally grabbed him by the tail and jammed his head into the small net in the picture. After hoisting him aboard, I tried to finish him off with a bait-cutting knife. It wasn't such a good idea, because he promptly tossed his head and broke the handle off the knife! Now I had a huge and angry dorado with a sharp piece of metal jutting from his head in our inflatable boat along with Ian and Tyler, my two kids. He was finally dispatched rather hurriedly and violently with one of our oar handles, while my two kids looked on in horror. We all arrived back at Ascension, our Prout Snowgoose, covered in blood.

Paul Hebert
Ascension, Prout Snowgoose
Ridgeway, Colorado - which is also at latitude 38!

Paul - We would loved to have shared your great photo but it was just too small for publication.


I'm so impressed that Tom Perkins would use his 289-ft Dyna-Rigged Maltese Falcon to badger poachers at Costa Rica's Cocos Island. Good for him. Now if he could be just a touch more benevolent and have helped out with the out-of-commission Costa Rican ranger's boat. That would have been really awesome.

Linda Wanitschek
Portland, Oregon

Linda - How do you know that Perkins didn't buy them a brand new patrol boat? In fact, do you think you're familiar enough with his charitable activities to criticize them?
And what of the government of Costa Rica? Do you think they have any kind of responsibility in making sure they have a functioning patrol boat to protect one of their most important fisheries and valuable natural resources?


I was just checking Jimmy Cornell's online Noonsite for procedures about clearing into Mexico, and it mentioned two things that I found interesting and strange. Specifically, according to Noonsite, there seem to be some really different clearing-in policies from when I cruised from San Francisco to Cabo and La Paz in '86-'87 aboard Stan and Joy Locke's 50-ft Challenger ketch Pisces.

According to Noonsite, "For cruising Mexican waters, a health permit will be required, and health officials may inspect the vessel or the crew may be required to visit the hospital for a health clearance." I have never heard of this, have you? We certainly didn't have this to deal with way back in the '80s.

Also for pets traveling into Mexico aboard boats, Noonsite says, "A pet health certificate showing that the vaccinations are up to date must be issued within 72 hours of entering the country." How the hell can a cruising sailboat comply with that? This is another thing we didn't have a problem with back in the '80s.

I'm planning on taking off from Florida for the east coast of Mexico at the end of the year, then work my way down to Panama. But if these regulations are in force, I'll have to skip Mexico. I'm not leaving my best friend, who happens to be a doggie, at home. She's the best sailor I know!

P.S. I love Latitude and, although I replanted in Florida, have been reading it from the first issue.

Don Hickstein
Gitano, Challenger 32
St. Pete, Florida

Don - Jimmy Cornell is a friend, but his Noonsite information on Mexico is out of whack. It's true that Mexico has some strange laws on the books, but they are rarely enforced. From time to time, the port captain in La Paz has said that any boat checking out of there for San Diego needs to get a medical clearance for the whole crew. Fortunately, he's been the only one who has believed this, so everybody just clears out for Ensenada, where no such thing is required. As for health certificates being required upon entry, none of the thousands of crew on Ha-Ha boats have ever have been subjected to that, nor has anyone else we know of.

Don't sweat it about your dog either. Mexico does want you to have the right papers, but the 72-hour thing is nonsense. Once again, a number of dogs have come down on Ha-Ha boats and it's never been a problem.

Mind you, sometimes the rules are interpreted a little differently on the Caribbean side of Mexico, but to our knowledge, it's not the case with either of the things that you've mentioned.
The big difference about clearing into Mexico since you sailed there in the '80s is that it's gotten much easier and the officials more professional. Remember how you used to have to go to Immigration, Customs, and the bank each time you wanted to go from one Mexican port to another? Thank god there's no more of that!


The design and welding craftsmanship on the mast step of David Vann's 50-ft trimaran Tin Can, which he proposed to singlehand around the world in four months, has got to be about the worst that I have ever seen! I worked my way through college as a welder/fitter, doing ASME and X-ray quality work, and I know crappy design and welding when I see it. It’s a wonder that Vann even made it out the Gate. If the Coasties inspected Tin Can and still allowed her to continue, you have to wonder about them.

Larry Watkins
Moondance, Beneteau OC400
Long Beach, CA

Larry - As we reported, the Coast Guard did stop Tin Can. After checking that he had the required safety gear, they allowed Vann to continue. Had they felt he was making a "manifestly unsafe voyage," they had the authority to terminate it.


I've been following the (mis)adventures of David Vann and his 50-ft trimaran Tin Can with interest. His plight reminds me of a group of Russians on the St. Petersburg-based trimaran Blagovest we met while in the Red Sea last year. To the best of my cruiseheimer's affected memory, the owner was formerly in the Russian military, and was thus able to procure a large amount of surplus titanium at a very low price. He also obtained an old ship's lifeboat, which he used as the main hull of the trimaran! The amas were fabricated of titanium plating. He connected the bits together, and laid wooden decks on top of the framework. As the boat flexed in swell and waves, it sounded like walking across one of those rickety cable suspension bridges. As you can see from the accompanying photo, she has a homemade Aero-Rig with canvas over the spar sections to improve her aerodynamics.

The owner apparently did all the design and construction work. To fund their circumnavigation, the owner and crew busked on the streets of the cities they visited, and gave presentations on their journey - accompanied by live music - at yacht clubs and everywhere else they could. While theirs was about as bare bones a circumnavigation as could be, they were also some of the nicest, friendliest, and happiest cruisers we've met to date. Being tied up next to them in the Larnaca Marina in Cyprus was a real joy, as they entertained us with live music on a regular basis. We showed our appreciation by donating some surplus clothing and galley items, for which they were most grateful. We last waved goodbye when we departed Larnaca in June of last year.

Their trimaran was a bit worse for wear, but I am guessing/hoping they made it back to Russia before winter to close the loop on their westabout circumnavigation. The owner reckoned that, based on the current commodity prices, he could sell the titanium used in the amas for enough money to fund another trip around on a better boat.

George Backhus
Moonshadow, Deerfoot 62
Sausalito / New Zealand / Larnaca, Cyprus


In the March issue reader Eldon McMullen asked about information on cruising Mexico's Caribbean coast, and you recommended my Mexico Boating Guide. I want to thank you for the recommendation, but my guide covers just Baja, the Sea of Cortez, and mainland Mexico to Guatemala. My other book, Cruising Ports: the Central American Route, is the one that contains all the stuff about Mexico's east coast.

Cruising Ports picks up where MBG ends, on the Pacific side of Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Then on Mexico's east side, it covers from the Texas border down and around the Mexican Gulf Coast, up and all around the beautiful Yucatan peninsula - nice safe marinas for checking out the nearby Mayan ruins and diving the jungle cenotes - and down the Yucatan Channel, through Belize, all of Rio Dulce, Honduras and Roatan, down the western Caribbean islands and Panama's Caribbean cruising grounds - ending in a transit of the Panama Canal. Cruising Ports and the Mexico Boating Guide are companion books, but Cruising Ports covers a lot more ground.

McMullen and others should be aware that Mexico's east coast between Cancun and Belize was shredded, devastated, ground to a pulp by Category 5 Hurricane Dean last fall, so we found that many of the tiny reef passes have changed. They've been silted up, broken open farther, or been fouled by recently detached coral heads. Between Tulum and Ambergris Cay, cruisers shouldn't trust anything but their well-tuned depthsounder and closely-peeled eyeballs. This stretch is now 'go slow and use a lead line off the bow' territory.

My husband John and I now cruise these areas on other people's boats, and I post regular updates for both Cruising Ports and Mexico Boating Guide online. Unfortunately, it's going to be another nine months to a year before I can research and create new charts for what Fonatur calls the Riviera Maya. In fact, their huge - three ships at a time - new cruise ship pier at tiny and pristine Majahual was totally destroyed by Hurricane Dean. Now, instead of automatically rebuilding it, someone realized that maybe it's not such a good location.

Pat Rains
San Diego


In a response to a letter from Eldon McMullen in the March edition, you stated that Pat Rains' Mexico Boating Guide is the only Mexico guide that covers the east coast of Mexico, too. You should also be aware of Capt. Freya Rauscher's Cruising Guide to Belize and Mexico's Caribbean Coast. I'll be using it when I charter a cat later this month in Belize. From what I can tell, it's an excellent guide. By the way, having owned property on Cozumel for about 10 years, I know that the sailing between the mainland and Cozumel is generally excellent, with some great nice ports between Cancun and Akumal.

David Hammer
Casa Martillo Condos, Cozumel, Mexico


For the record, the Cal 40 Argonaut will not be the only boat with a tiller doing the Pacific Puddle Jump this year. Our Serendipity 43 Scarlett O'Hara has a tiller, too, and we'll also be going across. Or at least trying. Last time our rudder separated from the tiller.

Renee & John Prentice
Scarlett O'Hara, Serendipity 43
San Diego / Mexico

Renee and John - Our mistake. We should remember your rudder falling off during an '04 Puddle Jump attempt. We made another error in the Argonaut report. Owners Mike Stout and Liz Strash said that, while they aren't racers, they might be the first to take a Cal 40 around the world. How could we have forgotten that frequent singlehander Hans Vielhauer of Sonoma County, who died a few years ago, had done it with his Cal 40 Chapparal? It wouldn't surprise us if somebody else had done it with a Cal 40, also.


I read with great pride Latitude's interview with circumnavigator Mike Harker in the February issue. Mike is indeed an inspiration, and we at Hunter are thrilled that he chose the Hunter 49 as his platform for sailing around the world.

However, I just want to clarify for your readers that his Wanderlust 3 is indeed a Hunter 49, not a Mariner 49, as was referred to sometimes in the interview. In addition, Mike chose a number of factory options that we offer on the base boat, and made a few customizations to meet his own needs. However, Wanderlust 3 was built the same way that all other Hunter 49s are built. We made no special considerations for him in the construction of the boat.

Although Mike mentions a 'Bluewater' version of the 49, we don't actually offer any different versions of the boat, just the various options that are available to all buyers.

John Peterson
Director of Sales & Marketing
Hunter Marine Corp

John - As we all know, singlehanders tend to hallucinate from fatigue and lack of sleep, so presumably that's where Mike came up with the three different 'models' of the Hunter 49. Thanks to your clarification, we're now clear on the concept there is just the Hunter 49, for which many options are available.


Having spent five days at Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle from February 12-17, I was interested in the March 12 'Lectronic Latitude article about the price hikes there, and what seems to be some developing ill will between some cruisers and the marina.

Overall, we had a positive experience. In February, at least, the marina fees did not seem out of line with what the Puerto Vallarta marinas were charging per their websites - but at least Marina Riviera Nayarit had plenty of slips available. As with any marina, Marina Riviera Nayarit has pluses and minuses. For example, the docks are new and appear well built, but the water is non-potable. (Water and shore power are extra at the marina, but we used so little they waived the fee.) Internet access was free but intermittent when we were there, which we consider acceptable for a marina under construction. The marina staff, from the management to the line-handlers - were courteous and professional. Even though large parts of the marina were still under construction, we found it to be clean. The onshore showers were free and are about the best we've seen in the U.S., British Columbia, or Mexico since we moved aboard our boat in '03. Heck, last year I paid $7 for a shower in British Columbia, and there was no hot water or water pressure - so I appreciated Marina Riviera Nayarit's good facilities. There was no fuel dock, but other marinas placing ads in the usual cruising guides describe full service features that they don't always have either. For example, Pat Rains' cruising guide describes an established, functioning fuel dock at the new Puerto Los Cabos Marina, and it didn't exist when we stopped by in November of '07. I don't know if a fuel dock is still planned for Marina Riviera Nayarit, but Banderas Bay as a whole could certainly use one more fuel dock.

We've heard many longtime cruisers lament at how the increasing prices for all amenities have "ruined" the cruising experience in La Cruz and elsewhere. They say that the anchorages are being taken over by resorts/marinas, and blah, blah, grouchy blah. Yes, it is getting more expensive every day, everywhere, but there are many more cruisers in Mexico - and more norteamericanos and Mexican nationals buying vacation condos - so things simply aren't as low-cost as those cruising books full of information from the '80s would have one believe. I would love to find a 5-cent beer, but I'm not expecting to in the 21st century. This is still wonderful cruising out here, and most everyone seems to be having the times of their lives. Why should Mexico - or anywhere else - not qualify to gouge the cruising consumer the way other countries are already doing?

On a final note, I agree with Latitude completely about the La Cruz anchorage in front of the breakwater entrance to Marina Riviera Nayarit being dangerous. When we anchored there in February, there were 42 sailboats in the anchorage, obscuring, if not completely blocking, the entrance to the marina. And at night, only 16 of those 42 boats displayed any kind of anchor light. A habit like that is a self-created hazard that can certainly end in tears. Now that there is a marina inside the breakwater and so many boats still using that anchorage, cruisers and the marina should work together to make both the anchorage and marina safer and accessible to all.

Marianne Smith & Gary Barnett
Gallant Fox, Malo 39
La Paz, Baja California Sur

Marianne and Gary - While there have been some changes in Mexico, we're absolutely, positively not buying the notion that cruising has been "ruined" down there. In fact, we can't think of a way humans could have more fun less expensively than by cruising in Mexico.
For those who are whining - and some people always whine - we'd like to know what anchorages have been "taken over" by resorts and marinas? While there are some problems in La Cruz right now, and the situation needs to be monitored, at last word cruisers could still get their dinghies to shore for free. It might not be quite as easy as before, but it was still possible, and, with the combined efforts of businesses and cruisers, we like to think it will get even better in the future. After all, with 64 boats anchored out at La Cruz when we last looked, how long is it going to take some panga fisherman to realize that he can make more money shuttling cruisers between the shore and their boats than by fishing?

As for the price of food, we and Doña de Mallorca enjoyed a wonderful sit-down taco dinner in La Cruz that consisted of nine tacos and a Pepsi for a grand total of $7. And this may sound strange unless you've been there, but the ambience was wonderful. Such low food prices aren't at all unusual, as Wayne and Lisa Zittel, the owners of J/World in Nuevo Vallarta, report that they eat out at the wonderful taco stands in Sayulita almost every night, spending an average of about $4 for dinner for the two of them. The bus is still only $1 to Punta Mita or into downtown Puerto Vallarta from La Cruz. And perhaps best of all, Mega, a new Costco-like place with great inexpensive food - you should see the great selections of fresh fruits, veggies, meats, and fish - as well as everything else, opened up not five miles away. Did we mentioned that fuel is also a lot less expensive in Mexico?

What has changed dramatically in Mexico - and we think this has confused some cruisers - is that it's now possible to spend lots of money on things like meals and accommodations. For instance, you can now dinghy in at Punta Mita and spend $150 for dinner for two at the lovely new Hotel des Artistes del Mar, or $15,000/night for the villa JayZ and Beyoncé stayed at, or even $10 million for a waterfront home. What cruisers have to remember is none of this changes the fact that you can anchor out and dinghy ashore all season at Punta Mita - or scores of other places in Mexico - for absolutely nothing, and still have great meals ashore for the cost of a meal's propina at the Hotel des Artistes del Mar.

Banderas Bay does need more fuel docks, specifically, one at La Cruz and one at Paradise Marina. Paradise has been trying to get one for years, and Marina Nayarit desperately wants one, too. There're some screwy bureaucratic obstacles to getting them in good time, but both have told us they hope to get them soon.

When all is said and done, we challenge anyone to come up with a better place to cruise than Mexico, when all the major factors - potential low cost, variety of cruising venues, number of free and uncrowded anchorages, friendliness of the people, quality and availability of food - have been taken in consideration. It's still possible to cruise like a king in Mexico for well under the poverty level in the United States.


I read your 'Lectronic item about slips for 44-footers costing $1,000 a month at the new Marina Riviera Nayarit. It turns out that it's not that much higher than places in California.
My wife Tracy and I went to a Ventura Port District meeting last fall about berth rates. After a number of people spoke about trying to keep the rates reasonable for middle class boatowners, Oscar Pena, who has been a Port Director for what seems like forever, made his position clear. I'm paraphrasing, but he stood up and said, "That's enough input from you boatowners, but you're just going to have to suck it up and then cough it up, because there is no end in sight for the hikes in berth fees." Nice.

When we first got a berth for our 40-ft boat in Ventura in the spring of '02, we paid $500 plus change a month, and that included water and electricity. When we sold our boat last fall, it had gone up to $822 - although that did include a liveaboard fee, plus some charges for a mailbox and storage locker. But it's not like the facilities were great, nor are they anywhere new like at Nayarit Riviera.

We got offered a lot of money for our classic Alden wood boat, so we sold her, fully expecting to buy another boat shortly thereafter and resume living aboard. After all, I've been living aboard for 28 years. But after the meeting at which Pena spoke last year, my wife and I looked at each other and said, "No way!"

We jumped in our car and drove to Washington. We now own a three-bedroom house on a half acre of land with a shop and some outbuildings, and we're paying less for it - taxes and insurance included - than we would have for our berth in Ventura! For the first two weeks I was living on land, I was traumatized by not being on a boat any longer. But I've gotten used to it, and it helps that I move boats for a living.

My point is that the berth rate at the Marina Riviera Nayarit is not that much higher than at Ventura, and the facilities are newer and will soon be better.

Pete Caras
Ex-Foxen, Alden sloop
Port Angeles, Washington


I read on 'Lectronic about the ProSail 40 cat Tuki and her record in the Jazz Cup, but do you know that the 505 dinghy class - they are 16.5-footers - used to have a marathon on the Bay back in the early '80s? It was my first race on my new 505 'punishment pony', and there were about nine other entries. Anyway, it blew like shit that day, and the winners were Jim Wondolleck and Jay Kuncel, aka the 'foul balls'.

It was a 47-mile course from the St. Francis YC to the South Tower, then down to the Palo Alto YC. Although it was tight racing, the winner let her rip, and covered the course in 2 hours and 45 minutes. That's an average speed of 17.09 knots, so suck on that, ProSail 40!

Jonathan 'Birdman' Livingston
Punk Dolphin, Wylie 39
Pt. Richmond / Lahaina, Maui


Thanks for the useful articles on keeping the stinky old iron genny going. I was rereading Part Two from your December issue before cutting it out for future reference when I noticed a couple of things that could have been added.

First, when the engine turns over but doesn't start; if the engine cranks kind of sluggishly, that could be an issue. However, an old hand showed me how critical the oil condition and level can be with my Perkins 4-108 a couple of years ago. When it wouldn't start, he checked the oil and instructed me to add some - after which the engine started. After a complete oil and filter change shortly thereafter, the engine started even easier. So a low oil level and/or extremely dirty oil can keep a diesel from starting.

Oil issues also apply to point number four, which is when the engine runs poorly or doesn't seem to have much power. You mentioned the importance of a clean bottom, but particularly important is a clean propeller. A propeller fouled by marine organisms will not only make the engine seem as if it were underpowered, but can also make it seem as though the shaft is out of alignment.

Greg Barker
Cherokee, Cross 42
Morro Bay


I'm writing in regard to a February Changes entitled Making A Run For It.

First, the official name for the port of Puerto Madera has been Puerto Chiapas for several years now. The Puerto Madera name is now used only for the village on the north side of the port. The port has been tuned up in the past couple of years with beautiful new cruise ship shore facilities and a proper Pemex marine fuel dock with very easy access. The entrance has two big breakwaters, is dredged to 32 feet, and has all the correct lights, buoys, and so forth for day or night entrance. There are very good anchorages in both arms of the bay.

Second, we cleared in there in March of '07 with another sailboat on our way north from Panama, and experienced nothing like the hassles reported by John Thompson - no relation - of Ketch 22. Nor have any of the other cruisers we've met who have stopped at Puerto Chiapas. In fact, we thought the clearing-in process was quite painless and the officials were very friendly and helpful. For instance, the port captain's employees helped fill in the clear-in forms. Immigration is at the nearby airport at Tapachula, which is about 12 miles away. You can get there by bus or taxi on the four-lane highway although, in our case, we were given a ride by new friends. Before anyone can clear out with the port captain, they have to visit the local API office and pay a small anchoring fee, if you stayed overnight. This is the same as in Ensenada and other controlled ports in Mexico where API has an office.

Because of the volume of drugs and gun-running along the coast of southern Mexico and Guatemala border area, there is a permanent detachment of the Mexican Navy in Puerto Chiapas. Further, it is a requirement for the Navy to inspect all boats, no matter if they are entering or leaving port. This is not a big deal, and takes maybe 10-15 minutes. The Navy guys came out in a panga, very courteously used their personal life jackets as fenders to protect our topsides, and brought a friendly dog on board for a quick sniff around. And they had that dreaded Mexican Navy 'paperwork' that the Ketch 22 folks feared - a two-page form. Yes, the Navy has to look at your boat documentation, passports, and so forth. This is the same automatic Mexican Navy inspection that you'll get in Huatulco if you anchor in the bay where the cruise ship dock is, or lots of other places in Mexico.

Third, it seems to me that the folks on Ketch 22 had bad cases of macho attitude and bad cruiser manners. Cruisers who don't leave a 'clean wake' as spelled out by the Seven Seas Cruising Association should be chastised - rather than called "ballsy" - for these actions because they tarnish the whole cruising community. All through Central America and especially Costa Rica and Panama, the U.S. Coast Guard has a very high profile - lots of ships, helicopters and men. I'd like to see these "ballsy" guys pull this stunt on a USCG cutter in Panama. They'd be looking at some serious ramifications - and maybe a learning experience.

Jeff Thompson
Victoria, Sea Raker 50
San Carlos, Sonora

Jeff - The term 'ballsy' has a lot of different connotations. When we used it in regard to what Ketch 22 did, it was in the sense that we sure wouldn't have done the same thing in that situation because, among other things, the reward-risk equation was way out of whack. This is not to say we always go by the rules, because there are times when we don't. For example, we'll run just about any risk on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten in the Netherland Antilles in order not to have to deal with those obstreperous female officials. If we had about 15 blank editorial pages, Steve Bonner of the San Jose-based Eluethera 60 catamaran Caribbean Soul could detail his version of why. Let's just say that a couple of the officials could give the U.S. military tips on mental torture.

We like and recommend always leaving a 'clean wake', but we're going to refrain from chastising the skipper and crew of Ketch 22 because we don't feel as though we're familiar enough with the details of that specific situation. If we're not mistaken, not long before some misguided officials at Puerto Madera/Puerto Chiapas were charging - possibly out of ignorance - hundreds of dollars for exit visas. If that or the threat of that was the case, we might understand Ketch 22 bailing. But we think the officials on the Pacific Coast of Mexico are professional and fair, so we do all we can to cooperate with them.


Here are my two cents worth on the drip/no drip packing gland controversy.

I commissioned boats for many years and packed hundreds of glands. My basic approach was as follows: First, do keep in mind that the principal issue associated with packing glands is one of heat, not drips. Then, proceed as follows: Run the engine, if possible, with the engine in gear and the shaft turning in the direction that will tighten the packing gland. Then tighten the gland as much as possible consistent with your being able to keep your hand in contact with the gland without it becoming uncomfortably hot for a duration of 20 minutes. When you've achieved that, you simply let the drips fall where and as often as they may. From time to time, you also want to check the temperature of the gland while underway.

There are other nuances, but the significant issue is heat, not drips. Excessive heat will weaken the shaft and ultimately cause a failure.

Don Scotten
Sprague River, Oregon


In the March issue, a reader asked what a captain can reasonably and legally do if a crewmember starts to lose it and begins to endanger the safe operation of a boat. In your editorial reply, you wrote that professional captains are responsible for all aspects of a vessel underway, and have enormous rights - including the power to use deadly force to suppress mutiny and piracy. You also said that you assume even amateur captains have the same rights.

I think you have it backwards. A paycheck does not add nor take away from the rights and responsibilities of the captain. The person whose status is in doubt is the crewmember. Unless there is a paycheck involved, the legal status of a person on your boat is as likely to be passenger as a crewmember. Passengers can't mutiny, but they can interfere with the operation of the vessel, which would also be illegal.

I would think that a captain would have to have a very good case to actually kill a passenger or crewmember and not face some legal consequence. However, if, in the case that was mentioned, a member of the crew would have caused a collision with a ship by deliberately interfering with the ability of the skipper to tack, he/she could certainly get keelhauled or suffer a few stripes from the cat 'o nine tails and no jury of sailors would convict.

By the way, in reference to David Vann's 50-ft aluminum trimaran, you certainly can fly across the country in a airplane that costs less than $25,000. You might only be able to do it at 95 knots and you'd have to make a lot of fuel stops, but you could get across sooner or later. You could also buy a seaworthy boat for that sum. Too bad Tin Can didn't qualify.

Joe Della Barba
Coquina, C&C 35 Mk I
Kent Island, Maryland

Joe - We're a little confused. We said that professional captains do have enormous rights, and that the same is probably true for amateur captains. So you're agreeing with us. However, you're mistaken about the definition of a passenger. In the eyes of the Coast Guard, a person is not a passenger unless they are paying for the transportation.

While we still don't claim to be experts on the right of captains and crew - we have no idea, for instance, at what point crew or passengers can legally revolt against a clearly insane captain - we've learned two things. First, when a crew refuses to obey orders at the dock, it's a strike. But if they do the same thing after the vessel has left the dock, it's mutiny. Secondly, a single person can disobey orders but not mutiny. Why? Because a mutiny, by definition, is a conspiracy.


Since sailing into U.S. waters over four years ago, first on the East Coast, then recently along the Pacific Coast from California to Alaska and back, my husband Steve and I have been avid readers of Latitude. We've enjoyed almost all the letters published, even the ones we disagreed with, for we knew the editor would almost always respond with fair and honest comments, without favoring one side over another. But a few times, the editor would take a firm stand on something he really believed in. Latitude has been quite a refreshing read, as this type of editing is pretty rare.

However, I have to take some of this back, as the editor's comments to a March letter were not only erroneous, but indulged in some petty slagging off. I'm talking about the Bloody Frogs letter that you published.

First of all, it was a real surprise to see that Kenny Lindsay, a resident of British Columbia, would make such an obvious error in his letter. The French words for the equivalent acronym UTC (Universal Coordinated Time) was not as listed, but rather is Temps Coordonne Universel - or TCU. So don't blame the French this time for using UTC instead of UCT. For a Canadian, Lindsay doesn't seem to know much about his second official language.

However, if it somehow was written as UTC, what is the reason for blaming some other country if your own country chose to adopt it? Every country is free to set its own standard, and if you travel around, you will notice that GMT is also widely used as well as Zulu Time and many other local abbreviations. Although the need for standardization for communications at sea is helpful, there are often several options to choose from.

If you want to blame the French language for setting its words 'the other way round', you should also blame the Spanish, Italians and Greeks for doing the same thing. In any case, it was the Romans who started it, and it should be applauded and cherished for its richness and diversity.

His comment on how "those bloody French have a different word for everything" is pretty lame. First, to be different and express oneself differently should be acclaimed. The variety of languages and cultures throughout the world is what makes it so incredible, and the main reason why people travel all over by boats. Why else would anyone want to see another part of the world unless it is different from what you know?

Secondly, the U.S. has its share of 'differences' with the rest of the world and, in my opinion, should stay different. For example, using imperial rather than metric units, although the latter has been adopted by 99% of the world's population. Or the different spelling of many American words from their British counterparts.

Considering the country of origin of the English language, someone in the U.S. has been making changes. These changes were deemed progressive and beneficial for this country at the time, and they should be enjoyed.

It is also interesting to note that the terms 'french fries', 'french doors' and 'french toast' do not originate from France, but were rather used by English-speaking nations for boosting the sale of their products. If you want french fries while in France, you have to order frites.
Finally, your comments on your experiences with the French culture and people was also pretty sad. Of course, there are small-minded people everywhere and, after spending our last four years in U.S. waters, we also have met our share of rude and shortsighted people, but that doesn't mean we judge the entire population by those few bad apples.

Travelling and meeting other cultures is one of the reasons why we love cruising. We love the many aspects of any new country, and try not to judge any one people too quickly, as there is always good to be taken with the bad. Long live differences!

Sylvie Wolpert
2nd Wind, Glacier 40 Steel Cutter

Sylvie - We think your accusations of "slagging off" are taking things a little too seriously. The letter and our response were just friendly joshing in the spirit of the famous joke that holds, "Heaven is a place where the police are English, the chefs are Italian, the car mechanics are German, the lovers are French, and it's all organized by the Swiss. And Hell is a place where the police are German, the chefs are English, the car mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, and it's all organized by the Italians." Sure, it's full of stereotypes, but the reason it's funny is because most people recognize kernels of truth in it.

We agree that cultural differences are one of the main attractions of travelling to different countries. In the last six months, it's been our great fortune to be able to spend equal amounts of time in the United States, the French West Indies, and Mexico - and what a delicious cultural feast that's been! Mentally pulling back, we've found many things to like - and a few things to dislike - about each culture.

'Differences' are a good thing - within limits. For example, if everybody used a different system of weights and measures, trade would be difficult, if not impossible. Indeed, it's one of the reasons that Napoleon tried to impose an early form of the metric system on France. We really enjoy the differences in languages, but there are big problems in countries where many segments of populations can't communicate because they speak different languages or dialects.

Our experiences in the French West Indies - where we have been sailing annually for more than 20 years - hasn't been sad at all. We've seen a few things that as an American mystify us - for example, could there possibly be French words for 'efficient' or 'customer service' or 'discount'? On the other hand, we've come to appreciate many other French cultural attributes. They really know how to take time off from work and to enjoy life and, unlike Americans, their friendships aren't based as much on looks and money. But in the majority of instances, it wasn't the French way or the American way that was better, they were just different. We loved those.

And over the years, we've made many good friends in the French West Indies, St. Barth in particular. In fact, we're going to take this opportunity to introduce you Rachel and Lucky (pronounced 'loo-key'). Lucky has an extraordinary amount of common sense, a million stories, and can dance solo so well he'll keep a crowd entertained for half an hour. Rachel manages a few villas, and is full of stories about billionaire friends of the Queen of England calling her up late on New Year's Eve asking her, the villa manager, to come over and iron their T-shirts. But Rachel's best story was about her parents - or as she puts it, "my really, really, crazy parents." Her story about them went like this. "They got married during World War II, and if you grew up in Brittany at that time and didn't have 100 friends come to a post-wedding dance, your wedding was a disgrace. The problem was it was war time and the Germans didn't allow French gatherings and nobody could think of a place big enough to hold 100 people. They lived near the German submarine pens at Lorient and, not far away, the Germans had big ammunition dumps. So where did they hold their after-wedding dance? Inside the German ammunition dump. If the Germans had found them, they would have machine-gunned them all there and then. But that's what my parents did. They always did crazy stuff like that!"

Naturally it's more entertaining when you hear it told in a thick French accent accompanied by Lucky's laughter, but Rachel is full of non-American stories like that.

So we're with you - let's not judge a country or culture by a few bad apples, or even a few perplexing cultural attributes. On the other hand, let's not pretend that some countries or populations don't have certain habits that are worse than in other countries.


Some 15 years ago I paid $5/gallon for soy diesel in Pt. Richmond to burn in my boat's diesel engine. I mixed the stuff with regular diesel and it worked great. Thanks to the smell of my diesel exhaust, people could have been excused for thinking that I was baking bread! But that soy diesel retailer is gone.

Now that everybody seems to be aware of global warming and hopefully wants to live greener, I can't find anywhere in the area to buy soy diesel. All the websites about the product are about its benefits and/or how to make it, but nothing about where to buy it. I'm sold on the stuff, but does anybody know where I can actually buy it in the Bay Area?

Stephanie Teel
Noelani, Vindo 50
Pt. Richmond

Stephanie - We've made a lot of calls, but apparently soy diesel is not available in Northern California. Clipper Yacht Harbor in Sausalito was going to sell biodiesel awhile back, but even that's no longer available. It doesn't help that some marine diesel mechanics caution against using it.


First, I'd like to compliment Latitude for presenting both sides of controversies - such as Frank and Jane of the Valiant 40 Shore Loser and the residents of Juncalito - for us readers. As my mother used to say, "There are three sides to every story - your side, their side, and the truth."
There are three items from the February issue that I'd like to address, although none are related to any controversies. First, we recently had some rigging work done on our Slocum 43 by JP Boatworks, and J.P. asked us which side of the boat we normally use to climb onboard. The reason he wanted to know was to determine which side to run the lines for our roller furling jib and staysail. For even with the sheets wrapped about the sails several times, it's still possible for the sails to unravel in a big wind. But if you keep one sheet fastened down, the roller furling line prevents the sail from rotating in the opposite direction, you are pretty much set. Our previous boat had a continuous furling line, and I had always just cleated off the loop. It never occurred to me that the single line roller furling systems on our new-to-us boat could unwind backwards!

With regard to packing gland adjustments, where Latitude quoted several experts, I thought one piece of information was missing. When I worked on mine, I was surprised to discover how little screw-down pressure was required to get an adequate drip for lubrication. It's probably worth mentioning that packing glands don't require much torque, and that most people probably overdo it. Locking nuts are, however, essential.

Finally, I really liked your tips about local places to cruise. You mentioned Pier 39 in passing. Although it can be very bumpy on the transient - sea lion - side, we have really enjoyed staying there. There is a grocery store, lots of restaurants, and some great attractions in easy walking distance. Plus, friends can come by ferry to visit.

However, as far as we know, Pier 39 hasn't been open to transients or accessible for over four years. Three years ago, we inquired about purchasing a slip at Pier 39 but were told that they were refurbishing the docks and wouldn't reopen to transients for about three months. Since then, they have updated the website every three months with new dates for transients. The water has been too shallow for the 6' 4" draft of our boat for the last three years and, as far as I know, there is no concrete date for dredging. Are we missing something?

Mark Wieber
Planet Earth

Mark - If you've ever had to get permits to do anything around the waterfront, you can understand what's taken Pier 39 seemingly forever to make their transient docks available. The good news is that they are just waiting to get the final inspection of the facilities, at which time they'll gladly welcome transients once again. Will they be open by Opening Day? They hope to be, but just can't make any such promises because it's not entirely in their hands. They say they'll be running an ad in Latitude as soon as the slips are available, or you can call them at (415) 705-5557.


We read a report in the Sacramento Bee that said, for the second time in a week, California Assembly Republicans rejected the Governor Schwarzenegger-backed proposal to eliminate a tax break for some owners of boats, airplanes and motorhomes. The break allows owners to take possession of their property outside the state's boundaries and legally avoid California sales taxes - if they leave them out of state for a specified period.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, D-Los Angeles, said it was "reckless and callous" of the GOP to protect wealthy people when the Legislature approved health care and education cuts last week as part of a $2 billion mid-year reduction package to maintain cash flow through the spring.

Most Republicans opposed closing the loophole, saying it would push luxury item purchasers out of state and could result in lost tax revenue and job losses. They denied they were defending wealthy yacht owners. "I am not working for Thurston Howell III," said Assembly Republican leader Mike Villines, referring to the millionaire character on television's Gilligan's Island.

David & Sally Jensen
Hopalong, Freedom 39
Northern California

David and Sally - Here are some things to consider on this sometimes emotional issue:

- California is never going to get sales or use tax from Californians who buy really big boats, because such boats are bought through corporations and flagged out of places such as Jaluit in the Marshall Islands, Valleta in Malta, and Georgetown in the Cayman Islands.

- It's not that the California Assembly was considering eliminating a loophole as much as trying to tighten it a little. For many years, California boatbuyers only had to take their boat out of California for 90 days in order to not be subject to sales or use tax, something which gave rise to the virtual '90-Day Yacht Club' in Ensenada. When the legislature increased to one year the period a yacht had to be used outside of the country to be considered tax exempt, some folks in the Mexican marina business jumped for joy. They claimed it helped pack their marinas and allowed them to jack up the berth rates.

- Frankly, we think it would be very difficult to determine whether a 90-day or one-year out-of-state requirement would be more beneficial to the state treasury. For the buyer of a $500,000 boat, saving $40,000 in taxes is a hell of an inducement to enjoy the wonderful cruising grounds of Mexico for a year. With the boat in Mexico, the owner is going to spend less money on boatyards, workers, crew, and marine gear in California. It's hard to say whether that will make up the $40,000 lost in sales tax.

Certainly there will be winners and losers, depending on whether the law becomes 90 days or one year, but we're not clear on the overall effect. As it stands now, the 90-day rule is still in effect. If it changes, we'll announce it first on 'Lectronic.


I saw your February issue Sightings piece on the care and feeding of your digital camera. Although I have yet to "scrub out" my Nikon D-80, I did, as you ultimately recommended, clean it with a slightly damp cloth. The accompanying photo was taken last June while en route to Corinthian YC prior to the start of the Delta Ditch Run.

I've been sailing for almost three years, and have enjoyed reading Latitude all during that time.

Drew Meyers
No News, Newport 28


I crewed on a custom 48-ft ketch to Tahiti from San Francisco, then returned, via Oahu, on a Santa Cruz 50. While the SC50, which was Latitude's Boat of the Month feature last month, might be more comfortable than other racing boats, it certainly isn't comfortable as a cruising boat. My comparative impressions of the boats were that the ketch was much slower but more comfortable, while the SC50 was much faster but less comfortable. In addition to the way she sailed, the SC50 is narrow, which means less room, and has pretty low freeboard, which makes it pretty wet.

I'm not trying to put down the SC50s, as they are excellent at doing what they were designed and built for - which is racing downwind. But if someone is looking for comfort, racing boats such as SC50s are probably not the way to go.

Jeff Hoffman
San Francisco

Jeff - We can't imagine that anyone would disagree with your general evaluation of the SC50. But you have to remember that folks have different needs. For most, comfort is way up there. But for a smaller segment of the sailing population, speed is even more important than comfort and, for those folks, an SC50 - despite her various compromises - might be just the ticket. Indeed, a number of folks have done the Baja Ha-Ha with them - and loved their boats.

It's also worth noting that SC50s aren't just race boats, they're ultra-light displacement boats. This means they are fabulous off the wind, but not as good upwind or overall as some of the IOR-type racing boats of her era.


Thinking about the deaths of Kirby Gale and Anthony Harrow of the Cheoy Lee 31 Daisy in March's Doublehanded Lightship Race, it's all too easy to forget that yacht racing is an extreme and hazardous sport, particularly shorthanded, and that conditions outside San Francisco Bay can be treacherous. We've lost a number of good, well-sailed boats in the past few years. For example, a friend of mine lost his J/35 in a very similar manner a few years ago, but was lucky - along with his crew - to survive.

In the case of the Daisy, there was apparently no EPIRB signal, so it's likely there was no automatic EPIRB properly mounted and in working order. Had there been, the Coast Guard might have been alerted in time to have saved the men's lives. There've been discussions about making EPIRBs mandatory in ocean races, but no action has been taken thus far - even though the cost of EPIRBs is now as low as $500. Hopefully, this tragic incident will improve the chances of making EPIRBs mandatory in ocean races - preferably automatic EPIRBs that are properly mounted and ready.

John Navas
San Ramon

John - Sailing on the ocean is all about personal responsibility, and we think it's only responsible for folks who race in the ocean to carry EPIRBs. They're not that expensive, they do work, and they do save lives.

We're just sick about the deaths of Gale and Harrow. Most yacht racing really isn't dangerous. But, as we try to warn our readers each year, you have to be very careful outside the Gate when a big swell is running, and doubly so in the winter. Those conditions make for some fabulous sailing that is sort of the equivalent of double black diamond ski runs. But like double black diamond ski runs, the risks are much greater, too.

All race instructions carry the warning that it is the complete responsibility of the skipper to decide whether or not to start and/or continue a race. This responsibility can't be taken lightly. If you're not the best sailor or don't have the best boat or equipment, please think twice before doing any racing outside the Gate when there's a big swell running. Because of the Potato Patch and South Bar, it's much more dangerous in those conditions than sailing off Santa Barbara, Marina del Rey, Newport Beach, San Diego, or most other places. If you get caught in the shallow water, waves will break, and it may be impossible to save yourself. For those who think they can escape by staying in the deeper water of the shipping channel, the currents and the wind may make it a lot more difficult in reality than in theory. What's more, breaking waves curve and do all kinds of strange things, so there are times when they break in the main shipping channel, too.

Please folks, use good judgement when deciding whether or not to go outside the Gate when there are big waves, and make sure your boat is properly equipped. Until you and your boat are ready, there are lots of great shorthanded races inside the Bay that we would consider to be much less inherently dangerous.

For more on the tragic loss of Daisy and her crew, see this month's Sightings.


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