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October 2008

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I'm writing regarding the September 17 'Lectronic, specifically the story called Vik's Greatest Summer Ever Ends. I read 'Lectronic and usually enjoy the stories and photographs, as it's a welcome distraction during a busy day. However, as a woman and someone keenly aware of, concerned, and outraged by the growing multi-billion dollar industry of human trafficking, I was alarmed by the above-mentioned article. Is Vik — or the 'Lectronic editors — wanting to discuss sailing related stories, or are you marketing "trendy," "beautiful" Russian girls who "loved to party through the night," and Eastern European girls who "love to pose" in Croatia?

In case you didn't know, the U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report from June, 2008, states "Croatia is a source, transit, and increasingly a destination country, for women and girls trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation . . . Women and girls from Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and other parts of Eastern Europe, are trafficked to and through Croatia for the purpose of sexual exploitation."

Of course, not every "beautiful," "trendy," partying "Russian" girl is a victim/survivor of human trafficking — thank goodness! However, one must not be mistaken by a smile on a face. That smile may hide the atrocious realities these women endure daily as slaves: desperation, intimidation, violence, death threats — on her and her family — debt bondage, and so forth.

Please be mindful of this reality when publishing your stories. Do not further enable the objectification of women and hence fuel the demand for sexual slavery.

Kathy Hargitt

Kathy — There have been well-documented cases of human trafficking in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Should the Chronicle, the L.A. Times, all California magazines, and Hollywood therefore not publish photos of attractive young women, even if they are smiling?

With all due respect, we think your accusation is outrageous because you have no reason to believe that any of the women in the 'Lectronic photos were victims of sex trafficking — and plenty of reason not to. Victims of sex trafficking need to pay off debts through prostitution. As such, they tend to dress the part, and would hardly be encouraged to hang out with Vik, who had no trouble meeting lots of attractive women at his 50 different stops during the course of the summer, and wasn't exactly dripping in extra money. The truth of the matter is that young women — particularly those from the Eastern European hinterlands — like to try to dress up and socialize with adventurous young guys such as Vik. If you do a little research on Croatia — such as in the Women's Travel Directory — you'll read that not only is Croatia considered to be a safe place for women to travel, but that most young women in Croatia tend to spend almost all their money on fashion, and almost all of them choose to sunbathe topless. If Vik, or we, had wanted to play up the sex angle, why wouldn't we have run photos of topless women on Croatian beaches?

As for your accusations of objectification, we find them to be ridiculous. Of the seven photos in that 'Lectronic piece, four of them featured women in one way or the other. One had a woman posing on a rock in a relatively conservative bikini. A second photo had two Russian women, neither dressed provocatively, sipping cocktails. The third was of a demurely dressed Russian woman in a 'we're just friends' pose with Vik. The fourth was of one of Vik's Danish friends, dressed just as any other young woman would for a warm weather sail, driving Geja in lovely sailing conditions.

If you're looking for publications that present women as objects, may we direct you to Cosmopolitan, the world's most popular women's magazine, which is published in 34 languages and distributed in 100 countries. Everybody knows about the covers, which tend to be on the 'see how slutty I can make myself look' side, but check out some of the articles. They'll make your hair stand on end. No wonder the magazine is even banned in Singapore. And what about the way Sex In The City portrays women, or how 'celebrity sluts' are prime time television staples? Please be mindful of the work of those international media powerhouses before you start accusing little old Latitude of fueling the worldwide demand for sex slaves.

Latitude and 'Lectronic are about sailing and cruising. That means if a young guy buys a boat on the cheap in Europe and does a three-month trip, during which time he stops at 50 different places and has 21 different male and female crew, that's right up our alley. And if the young skipper happens to bump into lots of lovely young women on the way, and they all have a lot of fun, well good on the whole bunch of them! Young folks need to meet members of the opposite sex, and they deserve to have some fun while they are young. By the way, did you notice that not once did Vik mention or even suggest any sex acts?

For a more extensive account of Vik's "greatest summer ever," please see this month's Changes.


Do you remember the last time you saw Terry Bingham and me aboard Secret O' Life? We were anchored in La Paz, and the Wanderer/Poobah and Doña de Mallorca sailed by on Profligate. You swung by to say hello, and we both got some nice photos of each others' boats. It was probably the spring or fall of '05.

By now, you are familiar with Terry's untimely passing from complications due to pancreatitis while we were on an inland trip to Bolivia. He had many more miles to sail and places to see. Next on our agenda was to sail Secret O' Life up to the Las Perlas Islands and Panama City for December and January. Then Terry was going to sail singlehanded to Easter Island and Chile. Alas, it was not meant to be. Terry was so full of life that it's incredibly hard to believe he's really gone. I'm working on it, but it's very hard.

Secret O' Life is to be sold. We left her at anchor in Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador, where she is being lovingly watched over by a number of our cruising friends. I will be returning to her, along with some of Terry's children, in late October to retrieve personal items and make her ready for sale and/or sail. We have had many generous offers of help in moving her north, and the general consensus is that she would sell better in Mexico than where she sits in Ecuador. But if anybody is interested, she's ready to go cruising right now. We did a big haulout in April in Costa Rica, so she's good for two years on that score. Plus, she has a brand new mainsail, only used on the passage from Costa Rica to Ecuador. Terry, you see, was somebody with big plans rather than somebody ready to check out. But sometimes life just isn't fair.

I'm serving in an advisory capacity to Terry's children, who are ultimately responsible for deciding whether to move Secret O' Life or try to sell her from where she sits. She will be sold, so that is not in question. I would be interested in any suggestions, thoughts or advice you might have on the subject. We definitely could put together a crew to sail her north to Golfito, and put her on Dockwise or YachtPath, or possibly even sail her all the way up to Mexico. Of all the places in Mexico, I think Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta would be our top places to store and sell her.

Tammy Woodmansee, First Mate
Secret O' Life, Union 36

Tammy — We're so very sorry to hear of Terry's passing. He was a most accomplished sailor and a great guy. And we do remember swinging by Secret O' Life in '05, but it was while you were on the hook at La Cruz, not up in La Paz.

In our opinion, it would be best to sail Secret O' Life to Puerto Vallarta or Mazatlan and put her up for sale there. Ecuador is farther than most boat buyers are willing to travel to see a single boat. If anyone is interested in the '87 Union 36 where she is right now, she's up for sale for $80,000. Call (360) 421-0346 or for details.


I'm writing to set the record straight, and in the hopes that it might be helpful to people heading offshore with their boats.

About a week into the Singlehanded TransPac, my boat lost the ability to generate electricity. As a result, my batteries died, so I couldn't start my engine. I did have a wind generator, but it didn't make enough power to bring the batteries up to a sufficient charge to use my SSB radio. That left me unable to communicate with anyone. The only electronic devices I had that still worked were my little Magellan GPS, my handheld VHF radio and my EPIRB.

I wasn't worried for myself, but I was worried that my wife might think I was lost at sea or something. So it was with great regret that I headed back to the mainland as fast as I could from 860 miles out. Because nobody could communicate with me, I had no way of knowing that Hurricane Faustus had swung north and was waiting for me. After two days of getting bombarded by it, my stout ship and I were 150 miles from the West Coast, my three sails were in shreds, my windvane had come off the wheel, and naturally I had no juice to run the autopilot. Most surprising of all, the propeller shaft had come off due to all the vibration.

Despite all these problems, I was somehow able to still make easterly progress during the day. I would then tie a bungee cord to the wheel at night and try to get some sleep. But when I woke up, I always found that I had drifted back to the west.
By this time, I was really worried that my wife would think something had happened to me. I was still too far to call on the VHF, so I activated my EPIRB. When a Coast Guard plane flew over, I was able to radio them to call my wife and tell her I was fine and sailing toward the Bay. I had no way of knowing that she'd already called the Coast Guard and asked for them to tow me in.

Two days later a Coast Guard cutter arrived, and 24 hours later my boat and I were back at the Corinthian YC dock. I had no idea how tired I was until I reached the dock!

The lesson of my experience is that it's critical to test all your electronics and your electrical system before going offshore.

It's true that although I was still 1,260 miles from Kauai when I decided to turn back, it would have been easier had I just continued on to the island. After all, I would have been going with the wind and current, and I wouldn't have been hit by Faustus. The problem was that my boat needed major services, and I didn't know if I could get them in Kauai. So turning back was, regrettably, the right choice.

I've also two observations. First, there really should be a device other than an EPIRB with which to communicate with family and authorities when you're not in a life and death emergency. And second, a boat's stability is critical in rough weather. When I was in the remnants of Faustus, I was being hit by 20- to 30-ft waves, with occasional rogue waves that were even higher. Capsizing was a real possibility.

By the way, I'm not yet 70 years of age.

Wen-kang Lin
Wenlemir, Swan 47

Wen-kang — Several boats had serious electrical problems in this year's Singlehanded TransPac, so your advice to make sure a boat's electrical system is up to snuff before heading offshore is well-taken. It's important to have a secondary method of generating electricity, and given all the wind of Faustus, we wonder why your wind generator wasn't up to the task.

With all due respect, there is a well known device that's perfect for communicating with family and officials in non-emergency situations — an Iridium satphone. It has its own battery, so it's independent of all other systems, and it works anywhere in the world. Had you had one — many Singlehanded TransPac'ers did — you could have: 1) Called your wife to let her know what your situation was; 2) Called a marine electronics expert to help you try to troubleshoot your electrical problems; and 3) Called Kauai — or better yet Honolulu — to learn that there were indeed all the boat technicians you'd need to fix your boat in the islands. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, and we're not trying to rub it in, but if you'd had an Iridium, you wouldn't have had to worry, your wife wouldn't have had to worry, you could have sailed to Hawaii without destroying your sails, you wouldn't have been caught in the remnants of Faustus and the Coast Guard wouldn't have to had to tow you in.

We've carried an Iridium phone on Profligate for about two years now and ,other than getting weather reports for the fleet during the Ha-Ha, almost never use it. But we're glad to know that we can call people ashore. We wouldn't make an ocean passage without one anymore.


As an avid armchair observer of the Pacific Cup races, I have a comment to make about the September report on the Pacific Cup 2008 winner. The Portland-based Cascade 36 Rain Drop deserves every bit of the praise and acclamations afforded its win this year. Joby Easton and Bill Huseby sailed a remarkable and commendable race to first in their class and first overall. Congratulations to them!

However, in the article the following statement was made: "For Easton and Huseby, this Pacific Cup was a reunion of sorts — the two sailed the race doublehanded in 1988, winning overall on Huseby's Soverel 33 Sting". I recall the 1988 race very vividly and very differently than the above statement. While Sting did indeed win her class, she did not win the Pacific Cup 1988 race overall. Another Portland-based boat, the Westsail 32 Saraband, won that race overall.  Her owner and skipper is Dave King. To be clear, the Pacific Cup 1988 winner's trophy was on proud display on Saraband for twelve months.

Last month's edition of Latitude 38 also made mention of "winning in 1988 overall" for Easton and Huseby. Repeating the inaccuracy a second time warrants correction. In reporting on the race in 1988, The Oregonian and two other local publications incorrectly named Sting as the winner and did not retract their error, write a correcting article or offer an apology to Saraband's crew. 

The sport of sailing encompasses skill and expertise to be sure, engineering marvels, guts and tenacity, and most of all community. The community of boat owners and operators is small and intimate, and to date, free of mean-spiritedness and distortions. Let us keep it that way, please.

Janet Mack
Colton, OR

Janet — Thank you for pointing out our error. You're correct that, while Joby Easton and Bill Huseby won their division in the 1988 Pacific Cup, Dave King and crew won overall honors aboard Saraband, a boat he still owns, by the way. Our sincerest apologies to King for the mistake, as he deserves every bit of acknowledgement for the win.

Your comment about the Cup being displayed on Saraband reminds us of a story we heard about the mixup. As King was sailing Saraband back to Portland after the awards ceremony, the local media, as you noted, claimed Sting was the overall winner. When King tied up in his marina, a fellow walked down the dock and struck up a conversation about the race.

"Do you know the guys who won?" the guy asked. Amused, King said "Yes, that was me." The fellow wanted to start an argument about it — he'd read it in the paper, after all. King finally asked him to step down into Saraband's cabin. "I just want to show you something," King said. As they stepped below, the man saw the Pacific Cup itself strapped to the table. "They don't give that to the guy who lost," King said.


I presume you guys heard about the incident in late August when four masked raiders armed with rifles robbed the mega sailing yacht Tiara off the coast of Corsica. Apparently there were 10 crew aboard, as well as nine guests who had paid over $200,000 for just a week's charter. According to the reports that I read, the boat had been a charter favorite with Hollywood movie stars and the like.

Jonathan Gordon

Jonathan — The robbery took place just before midnight on August 24 while the 178-ft Dubois design was at anchor at Golfe de Porto Novo, Corsica. The nine charter guests were described as "very wealthy but not well known German financiers". The masked robbers, who spoke French with Corsican accents, approached the yacht in a rubber dinghy. Exactly how they got aboard is unclear, because Tiara has very high freeboard and no transom steps. In any event, the robbers got the captain to open the safe that contained the equivalent of $204,000 U.S. in cash, and took off. It all happened very quickly because the robbers weren't interested in any wallets, jewelry or artwork. Nobody was injured during the robbery, nor was the boat damaged in any way.

Despite the fact that Corsica, a territory of France, has a long history of kidnapping as a cottage industry, French officials say this is the first time a megayacht has been robbed in French waters. Given the fact that megayachts — even mega sailing yachts — often carry artwork worth at least as much as the boat, it's something of a wonder they haven't been targeted before. However, nobody should be under the impression that megayachts would necessarily be easy pickings. Many have sophisticated security systems and multiple bodyguards. For example, even if your boat is obviously racing, if you come near Larry Ellison's Rising Sun, your progress will be monitored closely by any number of big, strong, steely-eyed guys who would no doubt be ready to defend the boat and her owner at any cost. And after the Tiara robbery, even the smallest megayacht has had her security measures reviewed.

Tiara was built in '04 by Alloy Yachts of New Zealand, and is known for being the only sailboat in the world on which a helicopter can land on her aft deck.


Having been cruising since '99 and having done two Ha-Ha's, for the last two months Debbie and I, now in Chile, were struggling with where to sail next. We spent nearly seven years cruising the islands of the Pacific — we love them and their call is frequent and strong. On the other hand, the Caribbean would be something new and different. But Debbie loves the Spanish-speaking countries and is always trying to find reasons to visit them. Debbie's biggest concern about returning to the islands of the Pacific are the long passages, especially since she has done so many of them already. I, on the other hand, truly enjoy passage-making.

We finally came up with the next great adventure, one that occurred to me while sailing about 500 miles off the coast of Peru. On a lark, I checked the distance from our position to Cape Horn, and was surprised to find that it was only 2,800 miles. It was then I realized that I was struggling with the fact that there might not be any long passages in my near future, and the fear that cruising might be losing some of its challenge and excitement for me.

So yes, I'm going to sail west-to-east around Cape Horn, and I'm going to do it solo. Lord willing, I'll make the trip nonstop from Callao, Peru, where we are now, to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The total distance from Callao to Buenos Aires is about 4,500 miles, so I think I should be able to make it in about 45 days. Debbie will return home to the States to work for several months, just as she's been doing for the last several years. She'll then rejoin me in Buenos Aires, where we can resume enjoying the Latin American culture.

No, I'm not crazy, nor am I suicidal. Yes, I have thought the trip through, and have spent many nights lying awake and pondering the risks. Here's my reasoning: I'm 62 years old and not getting any younger, but I'm a competent and experienced sailor. I likely won't ever be able to sail around the world, yet the idea of taking on the 'Mt. Everest of sailing' is very much to my liking.

Over the past 40 years, I've sailed over 55,000 miles, and 45,000 of those have been offshore. Sailors Run is a solid, well-equipped yacht, with all the safety gear. I realize that the weather will be cold down by the Horn, but 30 of my years were spent sailing between 48°N and 54°N in all seasons of the year. I expect to encounter sea conditions and winds that I have yet to experience so far. This being the case, my sea anchor and drogue will be at the ready before I depart Peru.

My route will take me about 300 miles offshore down the coast of Chile; then I'll close on the Horn from the west. Once around, I'll proceed north between Argentina and the Falkland Islands, weather permitting.

Sailing solo leaves much to be desired, yet for me the challenge of testing the limits of my endurance and sailing skills against nature should fill that void of being alone. Maintaining a good watch schedule will, of course, be one of my greatest challenges. That and the cold, as the summer temperatures run about 45° both in the air and water around the Horn.

I'm not asking anyone's permission to do this. I just want everyone to know that I'm not doing this on a whim but rather am well-qualified and equipped to make the attempt and manage the risks. But yes, some good luck will help.

I expect to depart on or around December 10 after a much needed trip back to Washington to be with family and friends.

Jeff Hartjoy
Sailors Run, Baba 40
Longbranch, Washington

Readers — We not only believe that Jeff and his boat are well-qualified, we believe that they'll do just fine. We're also happy to report the he'll be providing Latitude with updates every three days during his trip.


I wanted to add to the chorus of positive comments regarding the Automatic Identification System (AIS). Thanks to the recent information in Latitude regarding this system, I put a Milltech Marine AIS unit on our boat just before we left for San Diego. I had to download some charts from NOAA to the AIS directory on the computer, but once that was done, it was fantastic. Here's why: we encountered two days of pea soup fog that didn't clear up until south of Conception. While we did have radar, and it was great, it was terrific to be able to call the big ships by name and verify they had us on their radar — something we couldn't have done without AIS.

However, I agree with the guy who wrote in to say that small boats should only be allowed to have receive-only units. If all the little boats had transponders, too, the screen would get pretty cluttered.

Anyway, Shenanigans is sitting in a 60-ft slip at Pier 32 Marina and ready to start the Ha-Ha. Pier 32 is a very nice marina, but a little bit out in the sticks. They plan to group all the Ha-Ha boats in one area and provide a shuttle to the Ha-Ha Kick-Off Party.

Dave Fiorito
Shenanigans, C&C 36

Dave — This could only be the same Dave Fiorito who sailed his Pearson 34 Northstar — along with 39 other entries — in the first Ha-Ha back in '94. It will be great to Ha-Ha with you again.


As I write this, I'm singlehanding my Catalina 42 130 miles off the coast of South Carolina, and because I'm in the Gulfstream, I'm heading north at nine knots. I have a SR 161 Automatic Identification System (AIS) coupled to a MacBook computer running the GPSNavX navigation program, using a small USB GPS and raster charts. The computer's speakers, including the woofer, are plugged into the sound port of the laptop, and cranked up. For some reason the proximity alarm is a melodic basso-fundo that I call Igor (pronounced "eye-gore"). When appropriate, he calls out "Proximity Alarm is Activated." His voice resonates throughout the boat.

Earlier, at 3 a.m., I was sleeping in the cockpit. The wind was blowing 15 knots, the seas were six to eight feet, and the boat was cooking. It was then that Igor woke me with his announcement that we had company. I went below and saw that the 'Big Oil Fred', aka BOF, was about 20 miles dead astern. The AIS showed me that his closest point of approach (CPA) would be .1 mile, and that his Time of Closest Approach would be 45 minutes. My Catalina might having been cooking along in the Gulfstream, but BOF was cooking even faster. The way things were going, he was in a position to run me over. So I fired up the VHF radio.

Me: "BOF, BOF, BOF . . . this is the sailing vessel Lady Kay."

BOF: Speaking in a heavy foreign accent: "This is BOF."

Me: "Captain, I am a sailing vessel directly off your bow, two zero nautical miles, same course, speed nine knots. Please state your intentions."

There was half a minute of silence.

BOF: "This is BOF, we will turn starboard five degrees."

Me: "Thank you, Captain, that will be excellent. Good night."

BOF: "Good night."

About 25 minutes later, I saw BOF's mast top lights coming over the horizon. After another 20 minutes, I saw his red port light passing about five miles off my beam. Although my radar alarm was set for 10 miles, it never went off.

If I'd been without AIS, and I'd even had time to 'see' BOF, visually or by radar, and called, "The vessel at position North blah blah, West blah blah . . .", I almost certainly would not have gotten a response. In fact, it would likely be someone other than BOF who would have responded, in which case things really would have gotten confused. And meanwhile the wall of steel would have continued heading toward me. That's assuming I even saw him before he hit me.

AIS: $200. Navigation software and charts: cheap or free. USB for the GPSNavX navigation software, $60. Computer: I had it anyway. The results? Priceless.

I would leave port without my VHF before I'd leave port without my AIS.

Oscar van Loveren
ex-Lady Kay, Catalina 42
Rock Hall, MD


The two of us think that AIS is the best thing for cruisers since GPS. Last year we bought a receive-only unit before leaving Malaysia for the Med, knowing that we'd probably see a lot of ship traffic in the upcoming seven months and 6,000 miles of sailing. As it turned out, AIS turned out to be one of the best investments ever. For example, when around Lanka we saw about 50 ships at a time. But that was just a preview of what it would be like in the Red Sea. Thanks to AIS, we always knew whether we were in danger, which allowed us to alter course if necessary. But the best part is that the AIS has information about each ship, including its name, so we could call them on VHF. In each case, we always got an answer. We’d ask the ship's crew if they saw us and what their intentions were. Often they volunteered to change their course. It was truly amazing.

This year we've only sailed around the Greek Islands, and as a result have had to call only one ship. But we would recommend an AIS unit to anyone who will be traveling to areas where there is heavy shipping. Attached is a photo I took of our AIS screen as we were entering the Suez Canal. The red marks are the ones on a collision course with us. Not to worry, we had an Egyptian pilot.

Sam & Bill Fleetwood
Blue Banana, Gulfstar 50
Monterey / Currently in Greece


The letters about getting shorted on fuel in Turtle Bay hit home with me. A few years back, I was delivering a friend's Chris Craft 55 to Puerto Vallarta. We topped the boat's 800-gallon tanks off in San Diego, then made our way down to Cedros Village at Cedros Island. We stopped at the cannery to drop off school supplies and clothes, and were told we could have water and buy fuel. It's a great place to get fuel when the fishing fleet isn't in, and we took on 342 gallons.

We next stopped at Turtle Bay to get some rest and get out of the wind. Since we were there, I thought we might as well top off the 50 to 75 gallons we'd burned since Cedros. As we tried to secure the stern to the pier, Enrique started playing games with our crewman trying to catch the line. Specifically, when Enrique swung the stern line out to the boat, he'd make sure it was a little too short, causing our guy to have to reach way over the side to try to get it. Enrique was trying to get our crew to fall in!

After fueling us up, he lowered the tin can with the bill in it. The bill was for over $800 U.S.! I said that was impossible, as we'd just topped off at Cedros. He then tried to keep the invoice I showed him to prove it! I told them there was no way I was going to pay that bill, so he said he'd get the Federales.

About half an hour later, he showed up with an officer from the Mexican Navy. The officer came aboard without Enrique. I presented him with our invoice from Cedros Village. After reviewing the invoice and inspecting our fuel tanks, he instructed us to pay Enrique for 100 gallons — and to have a nice trip.

On our return home from Puerto Vallarta, we stopped at Turtle Bay to top off again. I was really scared of what Enrique might do. He must have been drunk — a state we were told that he's often in. Surprisingly, I don't think he even remembered who we were. We topped off — and got a bill that was about what it should have been.

After anchoring out, we went ashore and visited with the Mexican naval officer who had helped us. He said that we weren't the first to have been given an inflated bill for fuel. We then got a good night's sleep and took off for San Diego.

Alex Schombec
Long Beach

Alex — Mexicans like to joke around, so it comes as no surprise that Enrique might have tried to lure one of your crew into the water with the old short line trick. You're supposed to laugh and play along — or at least acknowledge the joke with a smile. No wonder he gave you such a huge bill.


We're the ones who wrote the initial letter complaining about Gordo's fuel service at Turtle Bay, which appeared to have sparked quite a debate. This is our rebuttal to a couple of negative responses you received about our letter.

The responses to our letter were positive, with two notable exceptions. Objections were raised by Capt. Pete Sauer of Big Sky Yacht Delivery and Chris Maher, another delivery skipper, who has "sailed and driven boats to Turtle Bay a number of times."

We welcome dissenting opinions — except when they are unfair. The point is that we were being cheated out of our money, not Sauer's or Maher's money. If we were looking for a delivery skipper, we would think twice about employing either of these two individuals who showed so little regard for their employer's best interests. We wonder what else they would compromise to their customers’ detriment.

We are Canadians. In fact, very proud Canadians. Canadians are closer in culture and values to Americans than any other nationality. To the best of our knowledge, Canadians take no more pride in being rip-off victims than Americans do. Capt. Pete Sauer and Mr. Chris Maher would appear to be exceptions.

Given Señor Enrique Gerardo Castro’s bad reputation at Gordo's, and the glowing praise for competitor 'Servios Anabelle', the latter should have a bright future.

Kris & Sandra Hartford
Nomotos, Simpson 417
Edmonton, Canada

Kris and Sandra — You had no way of knowing, but there were quite a few other folks, including boatowners, who have weighed in on the opposite side of the argument. Some of their responses follow.


Latitude missed a great chance to gig a silly attitude in response to the Hartford's complaint about getting shorted on fuel at Turtle Bay. You should have complained in vain about 'muelleage' that often goes to pay for Pemex bribes, fuel transfers, and cleanup costs at Mexican fuel docks.

Anyway, the complaining Hartfords must have missed the 'Welcome to Mexico' memo about attitude adjustment, as their complaint is laughable and technically inverted. When you're in Mexico — especially if you're an uptight gringo — you've got to learn to look at things through the other end of your body.

We've been cruising the Sea of Cortez for three years now, and I first witnessed the Mexican measurement miracle at a Pemex station where I went to buy gas for the outboard. I didn't want to pay muelleage, and I didn't want to have to put the dinghy in the water and row it around to the fuel dock either. I was delighted when they managed to pour a meter-measured 25 liters of gas into my 20-liter can. "It's a miracle," I thought to myself, but a good one, because at that rate I'd only need two cans of cans of gas for the entire cruising season.

Seriously though, if anyone is going to whine about a fuel measurement conversion factor difference of .0354, they should be either a NASCAR crew chief or an oil company executive. They should not be cruising Mexico. Diesel is so cheap down here — less than $2.50 U.S. a gallon — and your average Mexican is so poor compared to us gringos, that we should be grateful for the opportunity to visit this lovely country and to meet its people. Still in a twist about being cheated? Call it a 7.3% propina and get over it!

John Griffiths
Pegasus, Catalina 36
San Carlos, Sonora

John — For what it's worth, the Hartfords are Canadians who were returning from a long circumnavigation, so we're not sure that they could be considered full-blooded gringos. As for viewing the 7.3% overcharge as a tip, we're not sure that would work, as Canadians — along with Italians, French and Spanish — are notoriously parsimonious tippers.

The most fascinating thing about this fuel shorting controversy is how there are two huge groups with opposing views on it. As we mentioned before, Doña de Mallorca would have been outraged on principle if she'd been shorted that way. We, on the other hand, would consider it to be part of the charm of Mexico, particularly if it were done with a smile. We don't see any right or wrong here, just two different ways of viewing the same thing.

Actually, it reminds us of a recent experience after doing a day charter aboard the 85-ft catamaran Camira out of Australia's Whitsunday Islands. The charter lasted from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., and the captain and six crew had done a very good and conscientious job over the course of a long day. They lined the dock as we passengers disembarked. We were the last off, and asked where they kept the tip jar. The captain said they don't get tips. As the former owner and sometimes captain of a charter boat, our response was, "Well, no matter, we give tips anyway!" And we gave them 10%, enough for each of them to buy a drink. A horrified de Mallorca accused us of "ruining" Australia — as well as everywhere else we visit with our profligate tipping habits. We understand her point of view, but don't agree with her. Do you?


I can confirm from first-hand experience that overcharging and short deliveries of fuel have been going on at Gordo's in Turtle Bay for well over 35 years. In my opinion, the fuel prices deserve to be higher than elsewhere because Turtle Bay is so remote and because they sell such small quantities of fuel. But once the price is set, the agreed upon quantity should be delivered.

But having been a businessman for 54 years, I do not agree with Gallant Fox that someone should or would overcharge simply because the opportunity is there. There never is a proper time to lie, cheat or steal. And it doesn't make it better when you allow your employees to do it for you. After all, remember the old adage, 'Those who will steal for you will also steal from you.'

Ernie Copp,
Orient Star, Cheoy Lee Offshore 50
Long Beach


In the August issue, Latitude made an editorial comment about the price of fuel in Mexico. I have to take exception to it, and clarify what is a misconception on your part. To remind everyone, the following is the comment you made:

"What bothers us a lot more [than overcharges] are the dock fees that some places charge when you tie up to buy diesel. The price of diesel is fixed by the Mexican government, but when you get your fuel bill, it's often much more than whatever amount you purchased times the mandated price per gallon. The extra is a berthing or dock fee you get charged while taking on fuel. The automobile analogy would be if you pulled into your local filling station, pumped in 10 gallons at $5 dollars a gallon, and were given a bill for $60, the extra $10 being a 'parking' fee while you pumped the gas. That sticks in our craw."

Having been directly involved with the construction of two marinas with fuel docks — Puerto Los Cabos and Marina Costa Baja — and as the current operator of a fuel dock, I can assure you that we are not getting that great a return on a very large investment. Here are the facts, which you can verify with other harbormasters:

Pemex, the government-owned and corruption-riddled monopoly, does indeed set the fuel price for all authorized retailers. As such, fuel docks from Cancun to Cabo have to charge the same price per liter as an automobile franchisee ('franquicia') anywhere in Mexico.

The true 'franquicias Pemex' are owned by Pemex, and, of course, get their fuel wholesale — and do not have to show on their receipts for what they actually paid for their fuel. In other words, the profits or uitilidades do not have to be broken down and shown separately from the actual fuel cost.

Independent franquicias that are not owned directly by Pemex, plus all other retailers, such as marine fuel docks, are not allowed to sell their fuel for a price higher than what is set on any given week by Pemex. So how do they make any profit? They make it by charging what has to be a completely separate fee — essentially a loophole that allows these businesses to exist as long as they separate the charges on any receipt generated. This is why a fuel dock that is operating properly will always break down the fuel cost — which is what they actually paid for the fuel — from the 'docking charge', or whatever they choose to create as a means of obtaining a profit. In other words, on any legitimate fuel dock receipt you can actually deduce the profit margin that the marina is working with.

So how much is that margin? At the high end are Cabo Marina and my facility, Puerto Los Cabos, both operating at around 15%. Please remember that we can't have a fuel dock without a marina, and our marina cost $30 million — and that's before the docks were even put in. The cost was so high because we had to build the largest private breakwaters in Mexico, achieve one of the largest excavations in North America, build the riprap perimeter, jump through unbelievable governmental hoops and then finally build the docks. In addition, twice a year we even have to pay SCT a tax based on the area of the water that these docks occupy — even though it is essentially new waters created by us. We also pay an insurance policy in excess of $100,000 per year.

And our fuel dock? We don’t have many commercial boats and are still growing, so we sell only about 400 gallons per day. Our current price is 5.64 pesos per liter, as set by Pemex, plus a 15% surcharge — the one that "sticks in your craw" — that we list on our receipt as 'administrative costs'. In U.S. dollars, that works out to about $846 gross income per day. A 15% surcharge on that gross operating profit is a whopping $127 dollars per day.

Now, even if you don’t want to consider the huge investment in the marina itself — and in most cases you can’t access a fuel dock without a marina — we still had to invest over a million dollars for the fuel dock. This was to pay for dispensers and filters imported from the U.S., the spill containment collar imported from Canada, the training and payroll for three employees and so forth. But let’s not consider any of the initial capital outlay; our direct operating costs for two employees, electricity, liability insurance, spill resources such as absorbers and so forth cost us an average of $200 U.S. per day.

Our net operating 'profit' at the fuel dock is actually a net loss of $73 U.S. per day. Cabo Marina does far better, of course, because they are servicing more megayachts, and they received most of their infrastructure -— such as the dredged basin, the perimeter, and so forth — ready to go from API. All they had to build was their docks. They have a profitable venture, and eventually we will also, but for return on investment a marina or fuel dock is not necessarily the cash cow that you might think. These things are extremely expensive to build.

As for the high prices at Turtle Bay, I certainly agree that Gordo’s family will try to get you coming and going. But having driven the awful road — now finally paved — between Highway 1 and Turtle Bay, and having seen many frustrated truckers reviewing the damage caused to their vehicles by trying to reach that remote spot, I take that with a grain of salt, too. But in terms of ROI, the fuel operation at Turtle Bay may be the best in Mexico — after all, look at their infrastructure!

By the way, even with the surcharge, the cost of diesel at Puerto Los Cabos is still only about $2.50/gallon, which is about half the price as in the States.

Finally, before you go quickly dismissing the potential — you think about a 5% chance — that the Mexican government will require AIS units on all boats in Mexico, please keep in mind that many people down here thought that the NOM 29 law would never get passed. But it did, thanks to massive corruption within CONAPESCA, and now I can look out from my office several days per week and see purse seiners from Ensenada and Mazatlan depleting the local sport fisheries. Believe me, the Mexican company that wants to be the official provider of AIS rental equipment to yachties here is pressing hard behind the scenes at SCT to have it made a requirement. I certainly hope that it won’t happen, but I believe a preventive stance is the best one.

By the way, Puerto Los Cabos is jammed starting in October, with many of our slips that don't even have electricity being rented out. I would put out the welcome mat for the Ha-Ha fleet since I know many sailors don't care that much about electricity, but despite all its shortcomings, Cabo is still a lot more fun for the Ha-Ha group — at least for a couple of days — and the free anchorage is usually good, too. But in the off chance anyone is interested, I can do a special Ha-Ha rate of $1/foot/night for slips without electricity, or $15/foot/month, also for slips without electricity. No, it's not as inexpensive as some places in the States, but it's very inexpensive for Cabo.

Jim Elfers
Puerto Los Cabos Marina
San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur

Jim — Thanks for providing us with so much factual information on the fuel situation. On many occasions we've tried to get explanations for the surcharges for fuel docks, but nobody could seem to explain them.

Thank you also for putting out the welcome mat for Ha-Ha boats. While Puertos Los Cabos is about 19 miles east of Cabo San Lucas, it wouldn't be the end of the world for Ha-Ha folks to 'commute' to the Friday Beach Party and the Saturday Night Awards Ceremony by bus/taxi/rental car. And Puerto Los Cabos is much more convenient to the Los Cabos Airport. We think you'll get more than a few takers.

With regard to an "AIS rental equipment" provider in Mexico putting the pressure on SCT to pass a law making them a requirement on recreational boats, we're confused. First of all, you buy the units rather than rent them, and certainly almost all American boatowners would buy them in the States rather than Mexico. Furthermore, we're still pretty sure the officials down there don't really understand what AIS does. For example, it's not a way of tracking small vessels, as the units can be shut off as easily as a VHF radio can be turned off. But we suppose only time will tell.


My friend and I went out sailing one Thursday in September on his Corsair 31 Roshambo. While heading under the Bay Bridge, we saw a tanker sound not one, but two series of five warning blasts on his horn, to the sailboat seen in the photo. From a distance, it was hard to tell how close the sloop came to getting hit, but it was close enough for my friend and me to hold our breath and wait.

Cuyler Binion, crew
Roshambo, Corsair 31
San Francisco Bay


In response to September 8's 'Lectronic "near miss" photo, it might be helpful to point out that back in the 1880s William Froude discovered that the wave patterns of hulls have a geometry that is related to the relative speed or 'non-dimensional' speed through the water. In fact, it's what led to the practical adoption of towing tank tests.

One such non-dimensional speed that naval architects often use is the speed-to-length ratio, which compares the speed of a boat to the square root of the waterline length. Many sailors no doubt have recalled reading that the practical top speed of sailing yachts is limited by waterline length. For example, 1.34 times the square root of the waterline is often quoted.

The practical result of this is that when big ships travel at the same absolute speed of small vessels, the wave patterns of the two look very different. The textbook example is of a tug making a great fuss to keep up with an accompanying ocean liner that is making almost no perceptible wave.

So a 1,000-ft container ship may appear to be moving slowly because almost no waves are visible, and often we may subconsciously use the size of the wave pattern to judge speed — but be terribly misled.

Karl Kirkman
Interim Escort, Shamrock 26
Oxford, MD

Karl — Bow wave or no bow wave, the best thing to do when a ship approaches is to head 90 degrees away from its projected course until you're sure you'll be clear. Unless a ship has made an unexpected turn, there is no reason for a small boat to be caught anywhere close to a ship.


I'm in the Coast Guard and work as a rescue swimmer from a helicopter. In fact, I just hit the 20 years of service mark in February.

Anyway, an old pilot buddy of mine recently mentioned that he remembers an issue of Latitude that had a story about Bill and Penny Brownrigg’s adventure at sea off California's Cape Mendocino back in August of '98. I was part of the crew that extracted them from their 40-ft sailboat Credimus. Several months later Credimus was found adrift off the Hawaiian Islands.

I'm wondering if there's even a dark chance that I could get a copy or print of the story you did on the Brownriggs' adventure. It would be something to show the grandkids one day, God willing.

I'm still in the Guard . . . and still jumping outta perfectly good aircraft.

AST1 Pat Estrada
U.S. Coast Guard
Sitka, Alaska

Pat — For a guy who does what you've been doing for 20 years, heck yes, we've got a December '98 issue that we're happily sending along to you. Unfortunately, our story was written back in the day before news was disseminated as easily as it is today, so we didn't even get your name in.

Credimus, of course, drifted to Hawaii in the remarkably fast time of three months, and other than missing her mast, arrived in good shape. It was reported that the Brownriggs were back home in Ireland when they got the surprising news that their boat had made it to Hawaii. Our report ended with the couple being on their way to Hawaii to reclaim their boat, but we never heard from them again.


While I understand the general context of Latitude's response to the high fuel consumption of a 50-ft twin diesel sportfishing boat, I think that it paints an only partially accurate picture.

As someone who used to be a delivery skipper, I know all too well that a 50-ft powerboat on a plane can slurp 50+ gallons an hour. But there are also very economical and ecologically conscious alternatives within the powerboat market. Trawlers, for example, are a common 'next step' for many sailors. How efficient are they? When I did the '06 Ha-Ha aboard a fairly new Willard 40-ft full-displacement trawler with a very efficient John Deere 130-hp turbo diesel, we burned under 1.5 gallons per hour while averaging around 7.2 knots. You may remember us — in an attempt to be the first powerboat to have sailed at least part of the Ha-Ha, we sported a rather large genoa and more or less sail/drifted across the Leg 2 finish line. On the 1,000-mile trip from Long Beach to La Paz, we burned less than 200 gallons of diesel.

On a hypothetical cruise, say a three-year coastal cruise of 7,000 miles to the San Blas Islands and back, an efficient trawler would burn roughly 1,500 gallons of diesel. A comparable cruising sailboat would probably burn about 1/4 to 1/3 of that. The cost difference? Probably about $4,000. It's probably not a lot more than the cost many cruisers would put into rigging, winches, folding props, sails and other stuff.

As for the differences in carbon footprints, yeah, I get that. But it's my guess that a typical Bay Area couple probably uses at least two automobiles for their commutes, and even if the cars are Priuses, they will easily eclipse the fuel burn of a modern trawler.

And by the way, modern industrial diesels are reliable. The Deere diesel is adapted from constant industrial use applications, where 40,000 hours of run time are expected. A well-maintained marine version will easily see 15,000 hours with regular use — a stark contrast to the lightweight diesels in many sailboats that are tired and worn at 1,500 hours. Imagine the carbon footprint tradeoff of a new engine installation.

Don't get me wrong, the price of diesel has shocked the powerboating community, and it is clearly changing habits. True displacement trawlers, which have good fuel efficiency, are surging against their look-alike but pricey 'fast trawler' brethren. And the term 'motorsailor' is popping up with greater frequency. But in the big picture of cruising, spending an extra $100/month to operate a trawler versus a sailboat is a rounding error. And I can't help pointing out that, despite a very modest boat speed of seven knots during the Ha-Ha, we were always among the first to have our hook down at the next anchorage because we could take a more direct route.

By the way, I read a lot of the industry publications, and Latitude is the one I look forward to reading the most due to the straight-shooting style and lack of spin. Plus, I personally identify more with the Latitude / Ha-Ha attitude toward controlled self-reliance than the paternal philosophy in evidence at last year's first FUBAR, which is sort of a powerboat version of the Ha-Ha. For example, I was in the crowd at the '06 Ha-Ha skipper's meeting when someone raised his hand and asked whether it was okay to go inside the San Benito Islands. I forget the Grand Poobah's exact answer, but it was along the lines of, "It's your boat, your crew, and your capabilities. Look at the chart and make your best decision, skipper." I suspect the same question would have been answered much differently at the FUBAR. It's only a guess, but I'd imagine the FUBAR had waypoint lists that folks blindly downloaded into their GPSs. That's not necessarily bad, just a more paternal approach to risk mitigation.

Peter Pisciotta

Peter — Thanks for the kind words. We couldn't agree more that there is a great variety of types of powerboats available, and that some of them — mainly trawlers with modern diesels — are much more fuel efficient than the rest. It's similar to cars, where you can drive a 2008 Lamborghini Murcielago and get a combined 10 mpg, or, if you're in Europe, you can get a VW Jetta that gets 50 mpg. (Thanks to government intelligence, we can't buy the 50 mpg VWs — which get rave reviews — in the States until next spring.) And it's not like we're telling everyone with a powerboat to buy a sailboat, because in some important respects they are different activities.

Our powerboat expert in Newport Beach tells us that it costs $750 to take a Bertram 46 to Catalina and back, while it only costs him about $130 to make the same trip with his 53-ft trawler. The difference is that the Bertram is doing 18 knots, while he's only doing eight knots. And he confirms that the effect of higher fuel prices on powerboat sales and habits has been dramatic. Powerboats aren't being used as much, he says, and when they are, they are being used much more economically. For example, the heavy old Bertram-type boats that were equipped with Jimmy diesels built in an age when fuel economy was of no concern piss fuel away when operated at 18 knots. So in response to the higher cost of fuel, owners are now using these powerboats much less, and when they do use them, they're driving them at just 10 knots — essentially using them as trawlers — and reducing fuel consumption by half.

The one area where sailboats continue to have a huge advantage over even trawlers is on long off-the-wind passages. Earlier this year, the yachts Coco Kai and Moonduster reported 3,000-mile passages to the Marquesas during which they used less than 20 gallons of fuel each. And then you have the nearly 100 boats that sailed to Hawaii in the Pacific Cup and Singlehanded TransPac, none of which used more than minimal amounts of fuel to charge batteries.

However, we disagree with you about the life of small diesels in sailboats. Yanmars and Volvos are the dominant brands, and everyone from diesel mechanics to charter fleet operators in the Caribbean tells us these engines are routinely good for 10,000 to 15,000 hours. Our R&C 45 catamaran 'ti Profligate in charter in the British Virgins has two Yanmar 52-hp diesels with about 5,000 hours, and they run perfectly and don't smoke or burn oil.

As for the Ha-Ha, we have what we've consider an Australian government's attitude toward mariners: "Your safety is our concern, but it's your responsibility."


I was saddened to read about the death of Daniel Dryden, who was killed by robbers with machetes while he and his wife were preparing dinner on their Southern Cross 39 Sunday's Child in Guatemala's Lake Izabal. It sounds to me as though Dryden put up an admirable fight with the very worst of consequences.

We've cruised aboard our trawler from Los Angeles to Panama and back since '96 with a few breaks in between. We spent about three years in Mexico. While there, I kept a hand gun aboard the boat. I'm a retired L.A. cop, so having a gun aboard was like having another tool in my tool box. However, as you know, the Mexican government has a different view of weapons, and the consequences of being caught with a gun in Mexico can be devastating. Eventually, I became more concerned about being caught with the gun than without it. Mexico, I believe, is a very safe cruising destination, and we no longer carry a gun aboard. But the issue of self-protection is still important.

I did a little research on the subject of good weapons for cruising boats. I personally like the Taser — especially for police use. Unfortunately, they're illegal in Mexico, Canada, and other countries, and a few states in the U.S. In addition, it may not be the best choice for self-protection aboard a boat. As you correctly reported, the C2 Taser was developed for civilian use. It's designed to disable a suspect for about 30 seconds — a much longer period of time than the police version, which does it for about five seconds. The C2 concept allows the victim to shoot the suspect, drop the Taser, and then escape unharmed. But here there are problems. A Taser can only be used against one suspect, while many confrontations with cruisers involve multiple suspects. It could be very difficult to 'escape' aboard a small boat. (After being Tased, a suspect quickly regains the ability to cause problems.) And the generally non-lethal Taser could turn into a lethal weapon should the suspect fall overboard after being Tased.

Hollywood would like us to believe that flare guns and spear guns are effective as weapons. They are not. Spear guns are extremely unsafe when fired out of the water, are only good for one shot, and can be difficult to use in a confined space. Flare guns are extremely inaccurate. With the permission of the San Carlos (Sonora), Mexico, commandant of police, I test-fired a flare gun from a local beach. A 12-gauge flare easily penetrated a 1/4 inch sheet of plywood, but the sight picture was off by over two feet from a distance of only about 10 feet! In other words, you cannot hit a close target with a flare gun.

As a police officer, I was not very fond of pepper spray. My partner was a notoriously poor shot with it, and on at least two occasions involving scuffles with combative suspects, I received the bulk of the of the spray. This delighted both my partner and the suspect. However, I think the device has a lot of potential for cruising boats. Pepper spray is legal in Mexico, but not Canada.

Interestingly, bear spray is legal in Canada, and there is very little difference, chemically, between the two. The active ingredient in both is oleoresin capsicum. Pepper spray can be used against multiple suspects. Unfortunately, it only has a range of about eight feet. I did not test pepper spray during windy conditions, but it could be a problem if the suspect is upwind.

I like bear spray. It has a much greater range, being effective for as far as 30 feet. In addition, the canister contains far more liquid than human pepper spray, making it especially effective against multiple suspects. Bear spray manufacturers make it clear that it should not be used against humans, but I suspect that may be a liability issue. When I asked the commandant about bear spray in Mexico, he smiled and said there were no bears in the Sonoran Desert. But the smile said a lot. We now carry bear spray aboard Imagine Me and You. I just hope my wife is a better shot than my old partner.

Tom & Judy Blandford
Imagine Me and You
San Carlos, Mexico

Tom and Judy — Thank you for the knowledgeable and insightful report.

It seems to us there is no perfect solution. If there was only one assailant, a C2 Taser seems like it still might be an effective solution, as the assailant might assume you had more. Indeed, if you had a second one and he got another 30 seconds, he'd almost certainly be inclined to split. In addition, the 30 seconds would give you time to either whack the guy over the head a couple of times with a cast iron pan, hit him in the nuts with a winch handle or, perhaps better yet, hop in your dinghy and take off to neighboring boats. While Tasers may not be legal in Mexico, the C2 version looks a lot like a stylish vibrator, and we don't think the complications would be as great as if you had a hand gun.

That you like the bear spray carries a lot of weight with us. And while not explicitly legal in Mexico, again we don't think it would result in the reaction that carrying a hand gun would.


I hope that you're still accepting reports of top monohull speeds, for in June of '89, while bringing my parents' Columbia 43 Adios, which I now own, back from the '88 Pacific Cup, we hit 15.5 knots. The anemometer was pegged at 50 knots at the time, and all we had up was a small headsail. I was driving and screaming, "Fuuuuuck, what are we doing out here!?" The wind was blowing the tops off the waves and the whole ocean was white frothy foam. The bow came out of the water and there was nothing but spray from the shrouds aft! We made great time in the direction of the mighty Columbia River.

By the way, thank you for reviving the Sea of Cortez Sailing Week, and for hosting most of the social events for that event on Profligate. I had a great time crewing for Patsy on her Gulfstar 50 Talion and am now working hard on getting Adios ready to sail south for the winter.

Craig Shaw
Adios, Columbia 43

Craig — We're glad you enjoyed Sea of Cortez Sailing Week, which we plan to host again starting on April 1 of next year.


I know that Latitude has written enough about me for several years, but I thought you might like to see a photo of my Hunter 49 Wanderlust 3, on which I did an 11-month circumnavigation last year. The speedo shows 10.3 knots, which isn't a great burst. The significance is that I maintained almost this speed — carrying a main, a staysail, and a 120% genoa poled out — for three days and nights in about 20 knots of wind. This was during one of the three weeks in which I covered 1,400 miles, or 200 miles a day.

As for a top speed, my speedo recorded a top speed of 14.8 knots. Mind you, this was with a relatively heavy and loaded down stock cruising boat singlehanded by a guy who is still learning to sail and who doesn't like to heel more than 16 degrees.

By the way, I'm writing this on September 7 from Newport, Rhode Island. I was on a mooring last night when what was left of Hurricane Hanna came through with 55 knots of wind. Every boatowner had removed his/her bimini, dodger, dinghy and so forth. But I just left everything on my boat the way it had been when I sailed in 55 knots of wind for three days in the South Pacific. I had no problem.

I also got to go aboard Virgin Money, the brand new 98-footer than Richard Branson has chartered so he and his kids can try to break the Transatlantic record. I may even get to sail on her. I also met the guys on Eleanora, the 137-ft Herreshoff schooner that I filmed at Antigua Sailing Week for ZDF TV four years ago. They invited me for a ride, and told me they'll see me at the St. Barth Around the Island Race on New Year's Eve and at Antigua later in the season.

I'm keeping busy for an 'old' retired guy.

Mike Harker
Wanderlust 3, Hunter 49
Manhattan Beach

Mike — Top speeds can be deceptive, as they are frequently just short bursts, often down steep waves. Maybe we should have asked for the best 24-hour or week-long runs.


As part of our circumnavigation, we left La Gomera in the Canaries aboard my Ericson 39 Maverick to cross the Atlantic to the Caribbean. As configured, Maverick had a PHRF rating of 105, but she's a heavy IOR design not noted for surfing. We had departed in anticipation of a gale that would get us down to the tradewinds fast. We ended up with wind in the 30- to 40-knot range for several days, and the seas built to about 20 feet. Terry Shrode, my mate on the circumnavigation, was hanging off the transom fixing something that had gone awry with the Monitor vane, and I was at the helm, when we caught a particularly fast ride down the face of one of these bad boys. I whoooped, but Mr. Shrode did not quite share my enthusiasm when he saw the rooster tail. The GPS confirmed that we'd hit 17.7 knots.

Tony Johnson
Maverick, Ericson 39


Thanks for putting out the best sailing magazine anywhere!

I loved the Sightings piece on Kialoa III being for sale, and I hope she finds a new, loving owner. But I thought you might like to know that the old Ondine II is for sale in Seattle. This is the famous '67 Abeking & Rasmussen yacht built in Bremen that was first to finish the '68 Sydney-Hobart — with Ted Turner helping at the helm. She went on to wins in the Buenos Aires to Rio Race, the Trans Atlantic Race, and other races. In fact, under owner Huey Long, she was the boat to beat until Windward Passage and Kialoa III came along, and was one of the first yachts to travel around the world to compete at different racing venues.

Bay Area sailors may know this Ondine — there were later ones also — as the 'almost twin' to TransPac winner Blackfin, in part because there's a large model of Blackfin in the lobby of the St. Francis YC. The two boats have identical hulls, but Blackfin had a spade rudder instead Ondine's retractable rudder/keel trim tab arrangement — which was later changed to a huge transom-hung rudder.

The current owner bought the old Ondine in Florida in the late '80s, renamed her Atalanta, and brought her to Seattle, which has been her home ever since. After having Bob Perry re-design the interior and adding hydraulic furling and winches, the yacht can now cruise in comfort while still winning ocean races in the right — read 'windy' — conditions. As Atalanta, she has done another Sydney-Hobart, and won the Swiftsure, Vic-Maui and virtually all the Pacific Northwest distance races over the years. After finishing the Newport-Cabo race in '05 amongst the Santa Cruz 50s, we went on to cruise the Sea of Cortez in comfort for two months. While crew on other boats complained of bruises from the rough run down the coast, our only injury was from a crew member's falling out of the aft stall while taking a hot shower!

As captain of Atalanta, I sometimes bemoan the schizophrenic nature of my responsibilities on such trips: offloading race sails and onloading cushions and toys, and wondering whether to worry about the operation of the primary grinders or the ice-maker. But she does make a great cruising platform, and it is fun to slow down and enjoy places once you get to them.

Fraser Yachts has the listing on Atalanta. The asking price is $750,000, and she's ready to go around the world.

Stuart Lochner, Captain
Atalanta, Bill Tripp 74

Stuart — Thanks for the very kind words and giving us the heads-up. There's a real soft spot in our hearts for those big old warriors of the late '70s and '80s. In fact, while in Australia's Whitsunday Islands last month, we came across a whole slew of big old war horses that are now being used as day charter boats. Among them were Bob Bell's Condor, which was the Ron Holland 80-ft sistership to Kialoa IV, Bill Koch's Bill Cook-designed 84-ft Matador II, George Coumantaros's 80-ft Boomerang, Syd Fischer's 80-ft Ragamuffin, the former Whitbread Race competitors The Card and Merit, as well as a couple of former Australian 12-meters — they're all down there enjoying life in the tropics. And some of them, such as Condor and Matador, looked to be in superb condition.


In the September Changes, you listed the 11 U.S. boats entered in November's Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), and wondered if any of them were from the West Coast. I can tell you that Phil Stolp, a member of the Marin YC, bought a Hallberg-Rassy 53 in Europe, christened her Souverain and will be one the participants in the rally to the Caribbean.

Ron Witzel
Harpoen, Javelin 38
San Rafael

Ron — Thanks for the heads up. With the euro having traded at as much as 1.60 to the dollar for much of the last year, it's a wonder that there are even that many American boats in the ARC. Given the tumult in U.S. financial markets, it's hard to know what things will be like in even a couple of days, but the euro has fallen to as low as 1.39 to the dollar. If that trend were to continue, there might be a lot more U.S. entries in next year's ARC.

Update: It's been a couple of days since we wrote the above editorial response. Given the massive government bailout program being proposed, we now wouldn't bet the ranch that the dollar is going to continue to build in value relative to other currencies.


I found the picture of the dead or dying seal or seal lion, used to illustrate International Coastal Cleanup Day in the October 19 'Lectronic, to be a real winner. There are so many of them now that they are destroying boats, mostly sailboats, in places like Newport Harbor. I'm sorry to say that I don't find it sad to see sea lion expire.

Gene Barrett
Planet Earth

Gene — We presume that you've written in a moment of anger and frustration, and that it doesn't represent your true feelings. There is no doubt that, because of an apparently booming population, sea lions are seeking out habitats in places they never frequented before. And in many cases, these habitats are on recreational boats and docks all up and down the coast. NOAA gives information on how to stop them on individual boats, which is a good thing, as a species-wide solution doesn't appear to be at hand. Check out their suggestions at

By the way, you wouldn't be the manufacturer of Dead Seal Surfboards, would you? A few years ago, Hall Palmer found a Dead Seal board floating between Pt. Conception and San Miguel Island. Not knowing what to do with it, he gave it to us. We've kept it as a guest surfboard on Profligate ever since, and a number of Ha-Ha folks have gotten their first rides ever at Bahia Santa Maria with it.


Wow, the shocking news that Singlehanded TransPac winner Skip Allan had to scuttle Wildflower on the way back from Hawaii proves that things like that can happen to anyone. This should be a great lesson to any know-it-alls out there.

Jeff Hoffman
San Francisco

Jeff — No one could have been more shocked at the news than we were, as for 30 years we've been using Skip and Wildflower as an icon of what a fine sailor can do with a small boat. Further along in this issue is a feature on Skip's decision to sink his beloved yacht.


In your September 2 'Lectronic, you reported that Singlehanded TransPac winner Skip Allan scuttled his Wylie 27 Wildflower 250 miles offshore to avoid her becoming a hazard to navigation. It got me wondering about the insurance implications. I'm not sure if Wildflower was insured or not, but I'm wondering how an insurance company would respond to paying a claim on a boat that was voluntarily scuttled, as opposed to being abandoned and then lost.

Murray McLeod
Addiction, Newport 30

Murray — In the case of Allan, Wildflower was not insured. However, during the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers a couple of years ago, there was a skipper who couldn't continue and a crew that couldn't sail the boat the rest of the way across, despite the fact she was in fine shape. After consulting with the insurer, it was agreed that the boat would be scuttled and that the insurer would pay the claim.


After a two-month visit to the States, my wife and I returned to our boat Tigger on the hard at Marina Singlar in Guaymas. We got there on August 25, just as tropical storm — we can't remember the name — was making its way up the Sea of Cortez.

Guaymas expected to be doused with about two inches of rain but actually got deluged by 7.5 inches. As a result, the streets of Guaymas flooded with mud from the surrounding hills, filling many of the stores with mud and water. Over at Marina Seca, where hundreds of cruising boats are stored, the rain caused a cinder block wall to partially collapse, causing damage to two catamarans and three trimarans. The rumor around here is that the school adjacent to the boatyard, which put up the wall, is refusing to compensate the owners of the damaged boats, and Marina Seca isn't accepting responsibility because it wasn't their wall.

P.S. We've been reading Latitude from the beginning. Thanks for a great rag and keep up the good work.

Rick & Sheri Eichmann
Tigger, Granger 36
Coos Bay, OR

Rick and Sheri — If we're not mistaken, all that rain was dumped by the periphery of tropical depression 11 E, as records show there were no tropical storms in the Sea of Cortez on August 25. But that didn't stop the rain — or unsupported cinderblock wall — from tumbling down. Fortunately, none of the boats look terribly damaged, and we hope that some sort of settlement can be arranged.


Here's a list of the stuff we lost overboard on the Friday of Labor Day weekend: One boat hook. (It's possible to snag a loose main halyard from the deck of a bouncing boat with a boom, but I wouldn't recommend it.) One Tilley hat. One 3' x 5' U.S. flag with the teak flag staff. And one man's wedding ring. For the time being I've decided to keep the husband, but some days I'm not so sure.

I want to say a special 'thank you' to Heather M. for rescuing and returning my husband Norm's hat, which was picked up off Muir Beach. Considering my husband lost it east of Alcatraz, the trip almost to Stinson Beach was quite a ride. Kind of a 'message in a bottle' thing. I'm curious to know where the rest of the stuff ended up. Anybody know?

All things considered, we had a great time, and some great new sailing the Bay stories. My wrenched thumb and bunged up shoulder are not really worth mentioning. Here’s looking forward to more fun, wild weekends on the Bay.

On a lighter note, I always smile when people brag about their boat speed. It’s all relative, isn’t it? We got our 1943 Block Island Cow Horn up to 7.8 knots Friday with just a 90% jib and a blown mizzen. Not bad for a WWII tank!

Karleen Harris
Sans Souci, Block Island Cow Horn
Oyster Cove, South San Francisco


With regard to the request for info on do-it-yourself boatyards in Mexico, we left Legacy, our Sage 43, at Marina Seca in San Carlos for the summers of '04, '05 and '06. We'd return each fall for a week of bottom and other assorted work. San Carlos is convenient to the U.S. for supplies, and the weather is reasonable — but only if you wait until October 15 to start work.

In '06, we made the mistake of returning the last week in September. The mid-day temperatures were about 100°, which combined with the brilliant sun, meant working in Tyvek suits was not just hot but dangerous. We managed by starting at sun up and working until about noon, then taking a siesta in a cool place until about 4 p.m., then working until dusk. The only saving grace was that there was a steady breeze. I was able to survive by stepping back from the work every couple of minutes and having my wife mist me with the hose. The water cooled the interior of the suit for a couple of minutes, but having to do it sure slowed down the work. Did I mention that we each drank about a liter of water an hour? The water and ice vendors got to know us well.

After October 15, the temperatures drop to the mid 80s during the day in the San Carlos area, and life becomes good in the yard. It can actually be cold in San Carlos during the winter, which is good for doing work in the boatyard. The bad part about that means you'd be missing cruising along the Gold Coast during the prime season.

Chris & Heather Stockard
Legacy, Saga 43
Juneau / Bahia Caraquez, Ecuador


We hauled out at the Atalanta Marina dry storage yard next to Marina Palmira in La Paz last June with the expectation of doing a bottom job before launching in November. Yes, the heat will be hard to deal with, but the price will be right. It's the only DIY yard that we know of, but I think one could do work at Puerto Escondido's Singlar facility if one could stomach the price of the haulout. We'll drive down to La Paz expecting to bring most of what we need from San Diego, but Lopez Marine in La Paz has a lot of stock for yard work. We'll let you know how things work out.

Jan & Vivian Meermans
Capricco, Sabre 38
'Lucky 13' Ha-Ha vets

Jan and Vivian — We'll be interested in your report. By the way, we don't think the heat will be too big of a problem in November.


It's been a few months, but we noticed that you reported our Insatiable II as being a Standfast 36. That, my friends, was the original Insatiable on which we sailed from San Francisco back in '86.

Insatiable II is a 46-ft one-off that was designed by Aussie naval architect Jon Sayer and built by Gary and Sue McAulay in central Queensland in '90. She's done in strip-planked composite, has a gorgeous hardwood fit-out below and sports a big fractional rig to drive her roughly 11-ton loaded displacement. We love her!

Insatiable the original is berthed in Manly, Queensland, and is in the hands of an enthusiastic wannabe cruiser who is slowly repairing all the horrors accomplished by the chap who bought her from us. We have every hope that she will soon be cruising again.

Jim and Ann Cate
Insatiable II, Sayer 46
Southwest Pacific

Jim and Ann — Having recently travelled the length of the Queensland coast, we can understand why you've been down there so long. It's so clean and as uncrowded as California used to be 75 years ago, and there are so many places to explore by boat.


In response to a request of what I've been up to, my Wylie 60 OceanPlanet, the veteran of two around the world races, is now getting a flashy new topsides paint job to go along with her new white bottom paint! This is in addition to a refaired keel, bulb, and rudder. It's all very nice.

While it would have been great to sail OceanPlanet across the Atlantic to France to watch the start of the '08-'09 Vendee Globe, we must do what makes the most financial sense. And since more potential paid crew have signed up for a run to the Caribbean, we'll do that instead. But it will be a great run.

The trip to the Caribbean will be in two parts. Leg One will be from New England to Bermuda. We'll probably start on October 27 with the North American Rally to the Caribbean (NARC) fleet, although we'll quickly leave them behind. The second leg will be from Bermuda to St. Martin. I'm not sure when we'll start the second leg, as it will be either right after the first leg or right after I return from France and the start of the Vendee Globe.

The cost for doing both legs is $5,000, while Leg One alone is $2,500, and just Leg Two is $3,000. We suggest that 50% of the cost be considered a tax deductible donation. The OceanPlanet Foundation is a 501(c)(3) entity. There is still plenty of room for both legs, so if anyone is interested they should .

But I must warn anyone who is thinking of crewing that OceanPlanet is a very special boat, and you'll have a hard time going back to plodding boats afterward. It's sort of like after using high speed internet for the first time.

Bruce Schwab
OceanPlanet, Wylie Open 60
Portland, ME

Readers — To remind everyone, Bruce was part of the Northern California sailing industry as an Alameda-based rigger. In 1996, he won the SSS Singlehanded TransPac with the near antique Rumbleseat. He then had Schooner Creek Boatworks in Portland build the Wylie 60 OceanPlanet, which he ultimately sailed nonstop around the world in 109 days in the Vendee Globe, becoming the first American to complete that prestigious event.

As for the NARC, it's a rally to St. Martin in the Caribbean, with a stop in Bermuda, hosted by lifelong sailor Hank Schmitt. Started in '01, it reportedly attracts about 30 boats a year. Ha-Ha entrants might want to take note that the entry fee is $650 per boat, another $100 for each crew over two, making it almost twice as expensive as the Ha-Ha.


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