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December 2008

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As I watch the value of my investments wither, lament my diminishing net worth, and listen to news of worse to come, I am gladdened to remind myself that, among my many ventures, I deigned to own a little boat. Though her value tallies poorly on my accountant’s balance sheet, whenever I cast off from the dock under a press of sail, the dividends come tumbling in. The follies of greed, avarice and envy vanish in her wake. I am lifted free of all petty concerns. She is the lifeboat for my body, mind and spirit. As for the accountants, financial advisors and other bean counters, I say damn their eyes! She is my one truly recession-proof investment.

Marc Hersch
Songline, J/42
Santa Cruz / Ventura

Marc — We know what you mean.


We just beat to Antigua from the Virgin Islands aboard Woodwind, our 34-ft Gig Harbor, Washington-based gaff cutter. A couple of observations:

First, we were a bit surprised to find so many U.S. Virgin Islanders sporting Obama shirts, buttons, and what have you, because although they are citizens of the United States, and the Virgins are an "organized, unincorporated territory," they can't vote in presidential elections. Oddly enough, they are allowed to vote in the presidential primary elections.

Our surprise grew in the British Virgins, where we saw even more people sporting Obama stuff. For example, everyone on Jost van Dyke — meaning all 200 of them — has an Obama shirt.

But perhaps nowhere is Obama loved more than in Antigua, for the Prime Minister of that country declared that the island's highest peak is now to be known as Mt. Obama!

Needless to say, if any Latitude readers are planning to come to the Caribbean, they might want to pack some Obama shirts and campaign gear. They would make great tips — and even better bribes!

As for us, we'll be headed back to Jost van Dyke soon, where my husband will be working on our boat in Foxy's backyard.

Jan & Bruce Hein
Woodwind, 34-ft Gaff Cutter
Gig Harbor / Caribbean

Jan and Bruce — We wish Obama the very best, and he's going to need it, because not only does he face a mountain of very serious problems, but he will also be burdened by absurdly unrealistic expectations. After all, it seems that many of his most ardent supporters expect him, within 90 days of taking office, to have instituted world peace, revived the global economy, cured AIDS, eliminated all credit card debt, and provided everyone with easy jobs and fat pensions. Even if Obama becomes the best president the United States has ever had, many of his biggest supporters are sure to be disappointed.


It saddens me to hear of George Olson's passing. The first time I met George was sailing on Pete Sutter's boat Spirit that was built by the Kiskaddon family. It was about 1969 and I was working as a sailmaker's apprentice at the Sutter sail loft. Our crew were Pete Sutter, George Olson, Laurie DeWeese and me. The race was the Glen Waterhouse around the Farallones to Monterey and then back to San Francisco via the Lightbucket. We affectionately named it the Water Closet Race.

At times George and I were hot bunking in his North Face sleeping bag until we finally ended up on the same watch. That's when my education began. To this day, I haven't had a better lesson on night steering than I did that night, and for all the miles I've done since then, I attribute them to his expertise.

For navigation we used an RDF to home in on local radio stations and get an approximate triangulated location. Navigation was dicey at best and most of it was by dead reckoning — speed and heading estimated during your watch and entered into the written log at the termination of your watch. Sketchy at best.

He was a great person, parent, innovator and sailor . . . that was George Olson.

John Amen
HFGB's Getaway, Cal 20

John — George Olson was a real hero of ours. We not only bought the factory Olson 30 Collage — made up of leftover parts — after Chuck Hawley sailed her to Hawaii, but later bought a second one and cruised it in Mexico. What's more, way back in the early '60s, we bought a George Olson surfboard. The funny thing is that it weighed a ton.

Read more about George Olson's life in Sightings.


A high school friend of mine recently called and asked where he could charter a boat to scatter his brother's ashes at sea. I thought that would be kind of an impersonal way for a family to do their final memorial of a loved one, so I said it would be my pleasure to take the family out on our Grand Banks 42.

He and his family were delighted, and it turned out to be a very nice family gathering. As I was motoring out of the harbor, my friend asked me if I needed a permit or anything to do a burial at sea, or if we needed to go into international waters. I'd never thought of that.

Whom would you ask for permission? Is there any penalty if you don’t have permission? I figured if anyone would know the answer to these questions, it would be Latitude.

Captain Tom
Grand Banks 42
Shelter Island, San Diego

Captain Tom — You don't need a permit or permission to spread ashes at sea, but there are rules. For ashes not in an urn, you have to be at least 500 yards from shore — although you cannot spread ashes in rivers or lakes. If you're going to put the ashes into the sea in an urn, you have to be at least three miles from shore. If, on the other hand, you want to commit the entire body to sea in a casket, you must be in international waters and there must be a minimum depth of 600 feet.

Experts say there are two common disappointments with burials at sea, and both of them have to do with the wind. As anybody who has seen The Big Lewbowski knows, it's always going to be disturbing if the deceased's ashes blow into the face of one or more mourners. We're told such remains are more similar in consistency to coarse sand than powder, so it doesn't happen that often. Secondly, it's always distressing to loved ones if the ashes are dumped into the water and then are blown up against to and stick on the hull of the boat. It's just not dignified. So please, remember to spread all ashes directly to leeward of the boat.

Before anyone offers the use of their boat to spread ashes, they should read the following letter, which will probably cause you to rescind any such offers. For in stupidly litigious California, judges make sure that no good deeds go unpunished, and that no stupidity or irresponsibility goes unrewarded.


I thought Latitude readers might be interested in the recent judgment in the legal case of Kidrich vs. Long Beach Yacht Club. The 13-page opinion, plus a four-page dissent, goes into the technical details on assumption of risk.

The case was over LBYC providing a boat so a member's family could scatter his ashes. Unfortunately, Carl Kindrich III was injured when he jumped off the boat and onto the dock when it returned to port. He jumped voluntarily, even though he knew that Michael, his adult son, had already gotten onto the dock to assist tying off the boat. Although there was no evidence there was any need for Carl to jump off the boat prior to the stairs being put in place for the safe egress of passengers, he, his wife, and his son, sued both the Long Beach YC and Charles Fuller, the yacht club member who skippered the boat. It was alleged that they were responsible for Kindrich breaking his leg.

The trial court found in favor of Long Beach YC, but then the Appellate Court reversed that decision.

In a dissenting opinion, one judge — perhaps a sailor — wrote, "Today, by allowing suit against a yacht club that tried to help one of the sons of its members in his time of grief, only to be sued when he hurt himself intruding into their conduct of the good deed, my colleagues give this sad commentary on modern society the force of law. I respectfully dissent from that." He further wrote, "My colleagues have expanded civil liability beyond previous decisional law and beyond my ability to sign on. This ship will have to sail without me.

"The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants, and had I been a judge, I would have affirmed it. I believe the trial court was correct in concluding that Kindrich’s specific act of 'jumping onto the dock,' rather than the more generic and sedate 'boating,' was the relevant activity for purposes of assessing his assumption of risk. In my view, jumping or stepping some two and one-half or three feet off the side of a boat onto a dock — merely because portable steps had not yet been put into place — is no more an integral part of 'boating' than diving out a window — because no one has yet opened the door — is an integral part of leaving a house."

Dennis B. Kavanagh, Esq.

Dennis — Right at the top of our list of the "Top Ten Things Wrong with the United States" is that the government and society assure people that somebody else — preferably somebody with deep pockets — is always financially responsible for anything bad that might happen to them, no matter how foolishly or irresponsibly they might have behaved. Jump out the window of a bus driving down a freeway and break a leg? Obviously it was the fault of: A) The builder of the bus for making it possible to open the windows; B) The bus driver for not intuiting a that a passenger would jump out the window; C) The companies that designed and built the freeway for not making the surface soft enough to keep people who jump out of bus windows from getting hurt; and D) The person sitting next to the jumper for having not stopped him from jumping.

Fortunately, not everyone is irresponsible. A few years ago, one of the people on Profligate, without being asked, and to the complete shock of the rest of the crew, jumped down to the dock with a dockline. Since Profligate has about seven feet of freeboard, it wasn't surprising that the man broke his heel. But, being a true man, he blamed nobody but himself for jumping, and has remained a good friend.

Right at the top of our list of the "Top Ten Things That Should Be Taught In Schools But Aren't" is that blaming others for your screw-ups is one of the worst things that you can do to yourself and society.


In '67, John Hawes, an employee of my father’s, sold his house in Palo Alto and all his luxury stuff, and moved into a dump in the little town of Alviso in the very south reaches of San Francisco Bay. His goal was to build a 60-something-foot Horstman trimaran. I was about 16 when the project started, and watched Hawes and a partner build the tri between two houses they had rented. I temporarily lost track of the tri, which was launched in '87. But I returned to see her one last time in '88, the day before she left Alviso for good.

I have never seen or heard of the tri again, and wonder if anybody knows what happened to her, and where she is today.

As for myself, back in 2000, I sold a German-made 48-footer that had been built for Herman Goring. Nonetheless, at age 57 I'm still going to fulfill my cruising dreams, only with a 28- to 30-ft boat. I've been living in the Arizona desert, and have had enough heat to last me for awhile.

Bob Young

Bob — Little Alviso was something of a hotbed of homebuilt boatbuilding back in the '60s. We don't have any idea what happened to the tri in question, but perhaps some of our readers do. if you know anything about it.


We want to weigh in on October’s Powerboats Aren’t Necessarily Eco-villans letter. On our recent trip from San Francisco to Hilo, Hawaii, we consumed a total of seven gallons of diesel, from anchor up in Richardson Bay to anchor down in Radio Bay. The trip took us 20.5 days — not bad for a boat with a 22-ft waterline.

By the way, the skipper of a Nordhavn 40 powerboat with a single diesel engine has been going around the Ala Wai bragging that he only burned 800 gallons of diesel for the same trip!

Even though we didn't use it much, our 28-year-old Yanmar 2QM20 diesel still runs as good as new.

Ken & Katie Stuber
Sand Dollar, Bristol 32
San Francisco / New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Ken and Katie — Even though the guy with the Nordhavn burned almost 100 times more fuel than you did for the same trip, 800 gallons is a small amount compared to what most other powerboats would have used. Of course, that was going with the wind and seas. It would be interesting to learn how much fuel the Nordhavn would use to return to the mainland.

There's one other consideration. How would you like to be 1,000 miles from land knowing that you were relying entirely on one engine for propulsion? We know there are lots of single-engine fishing boats — and big ships — that cross the Pacific with just a single engine, but it would give us the creeps.


I’m a San Francisco Bay daysailor and weekend cruiser. I consider myself to be an intermediate sailor, and I have been wanting to get a taste of racing. Although I plan to enter some Estuary races through my yacht club — the Encinal YC, which is a really great club with great people — I want to set my sights on a Bay race.

I was looking into doing the Three Bridge Fiasco on January 31, but the information I found suggested that it was for singlehanders only. I could have sworn they also allowed crewed entries. Can you make any suggestions for any upcoming races that allow for crew, are within the Bay, are relatively long (10-20 miles) — and, oh yeah, are fun?

Come to think of it, maybe Latitude's annual Racing Calendar would give me some ideas. When does that come out?

Joe Perez
Kabunza, Pearson 36
Walnut Creek

Joe — The Northern California Sailing Calendar and YRA Master Schedule will be distributed on December 30. It lists all the races and courses, and should give you a great idea of where you can start.

We recommend that you ease into racing with beer can races, where the attitudes are extra-relaxed and everybody is out to have fun rather than win. It's a good place to learn the rules and how to get good starts in a supportive environment.

The classic in-the-Bay race for boats such as yours has always been the season-opening Great Vallejo Race, which is usually a spinnaker run up to Vallejo on Saturday and a beat back on Sunday. In '09 it will be held on May 2-3. The Jazz Cup, held on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, has a very sailor-pleasing course. Other popular races that might interest you are: the Delta Ditch Run to Stockton, although it's a little longer than you specified; San Francisco YC's Moonlight Madness if you want to get a touch of nighttime racing; and Island YC's Silver Eagle Race, which was shortened from 67 miles to 47 miles this year. The Silver Eagle features lots of reaching, which makes it relatively easy despite its length.

As for the Three Bridge Fiasco, it's open to single- and doublehanded boats. It's by far the most popular race of the winter.

We think you'll enjoy racing in and of itself, but in short order it will also make you a much more competent and confident sailor.


My husband, Steve Dilbeck, and I live in Santa Cruz where we own the Express 37 Escape. We also have the Voyage 440 catamaran Skedaddle in the British Virgins.

We were in the British Virgins with our boat in October, getting ready for the season, when Hurricane Omar headed our way. We feared the worst and were in a state of partial disbelief because only four years before we'd lost our Lagoon 42 cat to Hurricane Ivan at Secret Harbor, Grenada. Could it happen to us again? What follows is an overview of our experience with Omar and our charter management company:

October 13 — I downloaded the weather while at anchor at White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, in the British Virgins. I noticed forecasts indicating that Tropical Depression 15 — which would become Hurricane Omar — might be headed our way. We returned to Soper’s Hole ASAP to see if the Voyage Charter folks were making any preparations and to get a safe mooring. When we got to the marina office they told us they didn't know anything about a storm. And they'd checked the weather that morning, too.

Later in the day the forecast was changed from a moderate tropical storm to major tropical storm or even a Category 1 hurricane. At that point we thought we were still all right on the mooring with multiple sets of docklines. We spent that day taking down all the sails. Mind you, we'd had our cat hauled out all summer and had just put her back in the water. In fact, we'd just put up the sails!

October 14 — There was no change in the forecast, as the storm was still tracking toward us. That afternoon we got the bad news. Omar was predicted to become a Category 2 or Category 3 hurricane, and was headed directly toward the BVIs! Until that point, Voyage Charters had all their boats on moorings, too. But at exactly 5:18 p.m., when the new forecast was made, they maniacally began moving all their boats onto land. They hauled out boats so fast we couldn't believe our eyes. We suddenly began to feel all alone with our cat on a mooring. We asked if they would haul us also, but they said they didn't have any room! However, they did tell us that starting at 6 a.m. the next morning, they'd be taking the rest of their boats to a hurricane hole where they had hurricane moorings. But they didn't know if they had enough room for us there either, so they told us to call the base manager at 7 a.m. the next morning.

The night of the 14th was a very long one for us, as we knew we weren't safe where we were, but we didn't have anywhere else to go. We started fearing the worst — that we might lose a second cat to a hurricane. I went around the boat and took photos of everything in case we had to file an insurance claim. We also called our friends who were supposed to arrive two days later, and told them it wouldn't be safe for them to come down. Indeed, we didn't even know if we'd have a boat for them to come to!

October 15 — After a sleepless night, we called the Voyage base manager. He said they did have a mooring for us, and that we should see him immediately. Hallelujah!

All the weather services said that boats had to be tied up by noon that day, as the wind was expected to pick up to 40-70 mph. That meant we didn't have much time, as we had to motor most of the length of Tortola to reach Paraquita Bay, the mangrove-surrounded lagoon that is a major hurricane hole for the charter companies.

Paraquita Bay holds hundreds of boats in a very complicated mooring system. But you had to be there to believe it, as hundreds of boats poured into the bay. They seemingly included the entire fleets from The Moorings and Sunsail. In addition, there were all the dive boats, all the work boats, and just about everybody else. One of the things that makes Paraquita Bay a good hurricane hole is that the entrance is very narrow and very shallow. But it's tricky getting in. In fact, while helping to secure another boat near the entrance, we heard boats hitting the reef just outside the narrow entrance to the lagoon.

There was a constant parade of boats coming in, as hundreds — and I do mean hundreds — of boats poured in during the morning. Although it seemed like every boat in the British Virgins was there, too, we felt like the luckiest people to have gotten a spot for our boat. We got secured with a combination of mooring balls and aft lines run into the mangroves.

Once we'd done everything we could, we rode back to our hotel on the bus carrying all the charter company workers and crews. It was hysterical. Having worked so hard, these guys were ready to unwind a little before the storm hit. As a result, we had to stop two or three times for beer as we returned to the bases. Everybody was in great spirits — partly because they didn’t think they were going to have to work the next day, which meant they could get hammered.

We got into our hotel room at Soper's Hole and couldn't do anything but hope that Omar would pass to the east of us, which would leave us in the least windy quadrant. Some of the computer models began to show an easterly drift to Omar, but two others still had him coming right over us. We couldn't get too hopeful.

Exhausted, we went to bed early with the height of the hurricane expected in the middle of the night. We could hear the wind building and things slamming around. Steve got up a couple times to look out the door to see what was happening. While the noise of the wind was loud, it didn’t get as loud as I feared it would. In fact, we woke up in the morning to the sound of roosters and their cock-a-doodle-doo calls. We assumed that Omar's eye was passing over.

Then I booted up my laptop to discover that Omar had passed, and best of all, had passed to the east of us in the Anegada Passage between Virgin Gorda and St. Martin. Since we'd been on the back side of the hurricane, we'd only gotten an estimated 50-60 mph winds. It blew 130 knots on the other side of Omar! Even though Tortola didn't get hit hard, the power was out and we didn’t have water, but as we looked around, things were pretty much in order. There was no drama in Soper's Hole. At about noon, we rode across the island back to Paraquita Bay. We saw very little storm damage: a few downed trees and a few mud slides, but nothing catastrophic. And when we got back to our boat, she and all the others in the bay were fine!

So now we’re back on the boat and trying to get all the sails back up and everything else ready for use. Having gotten so much practice, we're getting good at it. We’re over in White Bay again. We like it because the water is so shallow you can retrieve anything you drop overboard. But we did see something we've never seen before — the Soggy Dollar Bar was closed!

Carolyn DeBoer & Steve Dilbeck
Escape, Express 37, Santa Cruz
Skedaddle, Voyage 440, British Virgins

Carolyn — As our catamaran 'ti Profligate is based out of B.V.I. Yacht Charters in Road Harbor just a few miles from your base at Soper's Hole, we monitored the approach of Omar with the same gloomy fascination. We soon received a report that our cat had also been taken to Paraquita Bay. Unfamiliar with this spot, back in California we got onto Google Earth to check it out. It wasn't a real time photo, but there was a mysterious line across the bay. As we zoomed in, we realized that it was about 100 boats rafted up beam to beam in one long line. We can only imagine what that place looked liked when there were hundreds more boats packed in.


Yes, St. Croix is a U.S. Virgin Island, and yes, Hurricane Omar claimed several boats in Christiansted Harbor and at the St. Croix YC, and the east end of the island took quite a beating.

I didn’t send any information earlier because it was on the news and because I thought you didn't care much about St. Croix. But as I write this, many people are still without power and operating restaurants are having to run off generators.

My sister lives in St. Croix, as I once did, and I talk with her almost daily. I also send down Latitudes when I can, and over the years have mailed some copies down to friends. I’m a great fan of Latitude, but somehow St. Croix 'just don’t get no respect'.

My sister built a bunker of a house in the middle of the island, but still lost most of her trees. I didn’t know Omar was hitting her because I was sailing the Niña — a replica of the caravelle sailed by Columbus — from Redwood City down to Half Moon Bay. Any wind we'd hoped for seemed to end up in the Caribbean!

But thanks for finally mentioning 'the forgotten island', which is the only island completely surrounded by the Caribbean Sea.

Inge Lorentzen
St. Croix / Pacific Grove

Inge — We have to agree with you that St. Croix seems to be about as visible to the rest of the world as does South America. We have no idea why this would be the case, as with 50,000 residents it's the most populous of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and its Hovensa oil refinery is among the 10 largest in the world.

As for our being tardy in reporting the hurricane damage to St. Croix, we followed all the post-Omar reports, but there wasn't much good or timely information out there. For example, on October 15, the Associated Press issued the following report:

"Hurricane Omar had maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, but a last-minute shift to the east meant that St. Croix experienced the weaker side of the system. Winds there reached just 48 mph, officials said."

We don't know what officials said that, but other officials later updated the maximum winds to 125 mph.


"Everything in the water in Mexico is relatively harmless," stated David Addleman, my captain, as we and some friends went snorkeling at Bahia de Los Muertos after the Ha-Ha. The subject of dangers had been raised when discussing pufferfish, which you can touch, but you'd better not eat.

After a nice snorkeling session in the warm water, we decided to have some beers ashore. Not wanting to drag the dinghies up the beach, David decided he'd anchor our dinghy out. So after wading the dinghy into shallow water so I could have a 'princess landing', he took the dinghy outside the surfline, anchored it, then made his way ashore.

When he got to the beach, we noticed that his foot was bleeding. Giving it a close examination, I discovered a puncture wound with a slight laceration and a bruise.

"Maybe you kicked a rock," a friend speculated.

David shook his head. "Nah, something bit me or got me somehow."

"Did you do the stingray shuffle?" I asked. You do this shuffle in sandy beaches in Mexico and California to avoid stepping on stingrays, which reflexively lash you with their stinger. It's very painful.

”No, I was only in six inches of water," replied David.

Well, apparently six inches is all that a stingray needs, for once ashore, the waiters at the bar — surely medical specialists in their off hours — confirmed that it was a stingray sting.

Even though I know it's just an urban legend that pee helps ease the pain of stingray wounds, I offered David my services. In truth, it was just to get him back for giving me the 'cure' last season when I was still naïve and had been nailed by a jellyfish. But he politely declined, and asked for the true antidote, which is very hot water applied directly to the wound. The awesome waiter jumped into action, and came up with not only water, but a bit of vinegar, too.

Later on, David would say the hot water worked like a charm. He appeared not to have taken a barb in the wound, which is very lucky, as they can be a source of a serious infection.

Although David would have preferred the incident to just die away, we insisted he give us a blow-by-blow account of his post-sting symptoms. They were the classics: 1) Pain and bleeding in the region of sting; 2) Slight nausea; 3) The throbbing of some poison inhabiting his leg; 4) The ache moving all the way up his leg and through his body — before subsiding about an hour later.

The following morning I asked, for the millionth time, what the pain had been like. David finally came up with "emanating badness".

David feels fortunate, because he thinks he didn't get stung as badly as he could have. Luckily, he only got tagged on the back of his heel and not the bottom of his foot, as it meant he could still walk. But you can be sure that he'll be shuffling in shallow sandy water from now on.

Hopefully other cruisers won't need this reminder, but if they or a crewmember get stung, the thing to do is soak the wound in water that is as hot as they can tolerate for 30-90 minutes. But do be careful not to burn yourself if the area goes numb. Also try to remove the barb — or better yet, get a doctor to do it — if it's still in the wound. Infections must be prevented.

Heather Corsaro
Eupsychia, Cal 36

Readers — Think reef-walker style shoes will keep you from getting stung? In most cases they won't, as the stinger will either go through the shoe or the victim will be lashed on the top of his/her foot or on the ankle. Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle!

Recently while in Australia, where more people get nailed by nasty creatures of the sea than anywhere else in the world, we found most beaches are equipped with bottles of vinegar. We're not sure why, but apparently vinegar plays an important role in the treatment.

As with all the people who are around saltwater in Mexico, guarding against infection is critical. Usually it takes keeping the wound absolutely dry. We recently suffered a minor surfing injury on our thigh in Bahia Santa Maria and neglected to treat it properly. More than two weeks later, it started to look a little worse, no doubt because we irritated it by continuing to surf most days and by swimming several more times a day. So we belatedly began with 'triple antibiotic ointment'. Since that hasn't done the trick, we've moved on to antibiotics and given up on the surfing. If we don't see quick improvement, we're headed to the doctor, as these infections can get bad quickly. So please, everyone be smart and treat the smallest cuts and scrapes immediately.


The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) should have named Francis Joyon — who not only set a brilliant new singlehanded around the world record with his 97-ft trimaran IDEC — Sailor of the Decade, not just Sailor of the Year. What their winner Ben Ainslie accomplished in fleet racing in dinghies was remarkable, but in no way could be compared to what Joyon did. It seems to me that the ISAF rewarded Ainslie for what he's done over the last 12 years, not what he did this year.

I guess my assumption that the award named Sailor of the Year should be awarded for what a sailor accomplished this year is wrong. Silly me.

Dan Blick
Planet Earth

Dan — No matter if it was what Joyon and Ainslie had accomplished over the last 12 years, Joyon would still have deserved the honor — and by a mile. Although it was scarcely covered in the States, back in '00 Joyon stunned the world's top shorthanded sailors by setting a new course record in the OSTAR/Transat with Eure & Loire. What made it remarkable is the Eure & Loire was a heavy GRP trimaran with amas from one boat, a mast from another, and rudders from another. Despite having no sponsorship and the slowest boat in the race — everybody else had the latest carbon rocketships with taller masts — Joyon did what he's always done: punched far above his weight.

Of course, it was in '04 that Joyon started to become internationally famous — and with good reason. Working on his own to prepare Olivier de Kersauson's "ancient" 90-ft tri Sport Electric, which was designed to be sailed by a full crew, he sailed her around the world in an astonishing 72 days. In so doing, he knocked an unbelievable 20 days off the old record — despite using 10-year-old sails and not having the services of a weather router! Joyon's time was just one day longer than a full crew had taken to sail the then-Sport Electric to Jules Verne victory. If this achievement of Joyon's wasn't among the greatest in racing history, kindly tell us what would be.

Of course, Joyon didn't stop there. The next year he broke the 11-year old transatlantic record with IDEC, in the processing setting a new 24-hour singlehanded record of 543 nautical miles. Refusing help to sail across the English Channel when returning to France after the finish, Joyon fell asleep, and IDEC was destroyed on the rocks.

And in '08, sailing the 97-ft IDEC II, Joyon singlehanded around the world in just 57 days, knocking two weeks off the record then held by Ellen MacArthur, and coming within just a few days of the crewed around the world record. Not only was the speed brilliant, but he was the first sailor to have made the trip 100% green! Mind you, because Joyon is the man he is, IDEC II is the most simple and inexpensive tri that could be made, nothing like the fancy-schmancy 105-ft tri of his greatest current competitor, Thomas Colville. You've seen all those jazzy Recaro seats in all the around the world boats? Joyon used a plastic beach chair, such as those found at palapa bars in Mexico. Despite having to sail for so long in the freezing conditions of the Southern Ocean, Joyon wore a couple of extra layers of fleece rather than take a heater that would have required diesel to run.


I agree with Latitude Racing Editor Rob Grant's rant in November 12's 'Lectronic Latitude about Francis Joyon's being snubbed. Singlehanding around the world trumps buoy racing every time. And I say that thinking that buoy racing is cool, too. But in the minds of the many, long distance solo attempts in any sport are not worthy of the attention lauded on those of the shorter and more spectator-friendly events. After all, who would get chosen as Swimmer of the Year, Olympian Michael Phelps or Benoît Lecomte, who, a few years ago, swam across the Atlantic?

Tony Bourque
Now & Zen, Newport 30 II

Tony — We're not sure we agree with your last point. When it comes to sailors, we think that many more sailors could tell you what Joyon did than what Ainslie did.

As for Lecomte's 73-day so-called swim across the Atlantic in '98, we always felt that was more a stunt than an achievement. After all, he spent up to 75% of each day aboard his support boat, stopped for a week in the Azores, and for at least some of the time was aided by the current. Heck, a number of people have drifted across the Atlantic in dinghies faster than Lecomte swam across.


It was Joyon's one achievement versus Ainslie's multiple achievements. Man against the clock versus boat-to-boat combat. It was a tough decision, but I think all but a few competitive sailors can relate to winning on the course much better than a 'Mount Everest' undertaking. So why second guess the judges?

Bruce Conn
CTS, 42-ft sloop
Alamitos Bay

Bruce — It truly is an apples vs. oranges situation, but to our thinking Joyon's was a 100-lb apple to a couple of extra large oranges on Ainslie's part.

But no worries for Joyon, who avoids the press as assiduously as he pursues sailing records, who validates his own achievements, and who would be politely indifferent to the ISAF's recognition. Indeed, we can't help wondering if the latter is why the ISAF didn't name him Sailor of the Year. Besides, the much-loved Joyon knows full well that his achievements are held in the absolute highest regard by his peers, the only ones who can fully appreciate what he's done. The following is the editorial written by Seahorse, the most prestigious yacht racing magazine in the world:

"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. At a time when sailing is becoming ever more complex and expensive, and by implication more challenging in terms of the resources required to take part, Joyon demonstrates what can still be achieved if you try hard enough.

"Joyon and Ellen MacArthur make fine rivals; both got where they are today through hard work, an aggressive hunger for knowledge and self-improvement and a steely determination. While MacArthur has now turned her hand to event management, and the promotion of new talent, Joyon has kept it all simple, forging a productive friendship with his sponsor and close friend Patrice Lafargue of IDEC, and focusing 100% on delivering value and success in return for the support he receives. And Joyon is very good at what he does, understanding the ocean itself better than any performance sailor since Tabarly or Blake. While Joyon and the talented and likable Thomas Coville set off on similar voyages, at a similar time and in similar craft, few were surprised that somehow it was Joyon who got around a fraught racetrack intact while Coville ended his speedy but brief sprint in Cape Town with hull damage. There have been similar parallels in previous crewed attempts on the round the world record — some get through while others find the rocks.

"Nigel Irens sums up Joyon, this quiet giant of ocean sailing when he gently says, ‘Francis is not like anyone you encounter in normal life.' Quite so; be grateful for everything that is implied in those few words."

None of the above is in any way meant to diminish the achievements of Ben Ainslie, but come on!


By the time I finished reading Gary Barnett and Marianne Smith’s letter in the November Latitude, in which they classified various cruising styles into rather negative categories, the phrase 'cruiser’s remorse' kept popping into my head. Latitude's lengthy response was right on the mark — by the way, I always enjoy your long responses because I find them the most illuminating — and I got the same impression that your “psychiatrist cruiser” friend had regarding their possible insecurity. I’ve long felt that you’ll only hear generally disparaging comparisons or remarks from those who need to make them.

In the case of Barnett and Smith, I wondered if they might be experiencing some disillusionment with the cruising dream in general, and since they did chuck everything before casting off, might feel a sense of being stuck with their decision. Of course, this is all just an impression since I don’t know them. They did, however, remind me of a couple from my club a few years ago.

This couple and I were outfitting our newly acquired boats for cruising south — which, sadly, I’ve had to put off for awhile though I'm still living aboard — and I encountered similar behavior from them. Though they were not unfriendly people, they had no tolerance for any ideas that they were not implementing themselves, no matter if it was with regard to boat equipment or general cruise plans. Any description of ideas that I had decided to pursue which were in any way different from theirs was met with a long lecture on why it really wasn't the best way of going about it. I began to avoid them. It was only when I learned that they had done almost no offshore sailing — I've done a fair amount — that I understood and had greater sympathy for them. It was all about their insecurity over what they were doing.

What I also feared was that once they headed off and gained more cruising experience, it might give them license to become truly insufferable. But when I saw them at the club a couple of years later, in the middle of their cruise, my fears hadn't been borne out at all. They'd become a happy-go-lucky cruising couple and loved to tell stories of their experiences, no matter if they recounted their joys or their mistakes.

The actual point of my letter was to ask you, who have met countless cruisers, what percentage of cruisers experience cruisers' remorse. And what has been the most common outcome? Obviously, some must have called it quits shortly after they started, but what about the ones who have pressed on? Is there a hump that almost everybody has to get over? Are there ways of dealing with such remorse? And feel free to write as much as you want.

Pat Felten
Croc Eau, Lacoste 42

Pat — Oh geez, we don't even know where to begin to answer your question. Yes, there are some who quickly feel remorse about their decision and sell their boats. Curiously, sometimes they experience remorse over their remorse, then go out and buy another boat and do it all over again. At the other end of the spectrum, we see people who we figure would be lucky to stick it out through the end of the Baja Ha-Ha — and they end up happily cruising for many years. And there is just no way to predict which people are going to react which way.

The most accurate description we've heard about cruising is that it's never, ever how people expect it's going to be. Not that it's particularly better or worse, but that it's just not like they imagined. Some find that troubling, some are delighted by it.

On the surprisingly positive side, we think most people are surprised at the number of really, really close friendships they develop among cruising friends. Friendships the likes of which they rarely develop 'back home'. We think the most common disappointments revolve around becoming comfortable on the ocean and being able to deal with the inevitable maintenance and repair issues. Some people just never feel comfortable on the ocean, so cruising can involve a lot of anxiety — and this is true with both men and women. The repair and maintenance issues can become huge for folks who aren't mechanically inclined and who have complicated boats. We're not the least bit handy, so we compensate by keeping our boat as simple as possible.

There are also many people who don't have remorse, but have to at least temporarily stop cruising for things like lack of money, the desire to be with family, or the need to care for ill parents or to be plugged into the fast life. Many times these obstacles are overcome by cruisers who do 'six and six', meaning six months of cruising and six months back home, or some variation of it. One of the more popular variations is the man does eight and four, and the woman, who misses the family and particularly grandkids more, does six and six.

Just as there is an infinite number of ways to cruise, there are an infinite number of reactions to cruising. As for those who are feeling a touch of cruisers' remorse, the cruiser psychiatrist has some recommendations: 1) Take a vacation from cruising. If you start to feel like it's all too much — even after just a couple of months — take a break. Go back home for a week and see if you're not suddenly reminded of why you left in the first place. And see if you don't find yourself getting all excited as you tell friends about the various adventures you've had. When you get back to your boat and your cruising friends, you may start to see how lucky you are. 2) Make sure you've got a reliable way to communicate with family and friends back home. Sending email is good, but sometimes nothing is as satisfying as hearing the other person's voice, so become friends with Skype. 3) Pay some knowledgeable veteran cruiser to go through your boat with you and give you instruction on how to troubleshoot basic electrical and mechanical problems. Your cruising will be all the more enjoyable if you know the basics about your electrics, refrigeration, watermaker, diesel and outboard. And yes, it's a lot. But once you start to pick it up, you'll feel more confident. And 4) remember that what you get out of cruising is, like the rest of life, a function of what you put into it. For the first time in no doubt many years, you'll have lots of time. So rather than just using all your time to sit in the cockpit and read books, get totally involved with things, such as all the interesting places along the coast and inland, the local language, cooking, getting in the best shape ever, doing yoga, playing a musical instrument, learning to dance, and so forth. If you immerse yourself in all the opportunities that you have when cruising, you'll be too busy and happy to feel anything like remorse.


I don't know what to say about the Costa Baja Harbormaster's assessment of the wind velocity from hurricane 'Norbie' in La Paz in October, except to say that we were aboard Jim and Heather Donnell’s Ventura-based 49-ft cat Meerkat at the Costa Baja having a hurricane party — Domino's pizza and cerveza — and we accurately reported the readings we got from the masthead.

In any event, after spending two summers in Mexico without air conditioning, let me pass on a little advice to the Class of '08-'09. You have three choices for the summer if you're on the mainland or in La Paz:

1) Leave your boat and return to the States.

2) Head farther north into the Sea of Cortez.

3) Sweat it out in the marina.

Each option has its pros and cons. If you leave and have a place to stay for the summer, or can afford to vacation somewhere, that's a good option. But if you're like Kellie and me, who have lived aboard for many years and don't have another home, you need a place to go.

The going north into the Sea for the summer is a blast, and you will build relationships like in no other place in Mexico. But it's hot. Damn hot! The upside of this is that you get to spend tons of time in the water — swimming, noodle parties, snorkeling and such. For months on end we woke up to the sound of whales breathing as we slept in the cockpit. A downside, besides the heat, is the lack of provisioning opportunities and restaurants. As you go north from La Paz, food becomes harder to find and is much more expensive.

If you decide to stick it out in a marina, it's still going to be damn hot! Be prepared to never see the temperature in your salon drop below 89° for months on end. This is true farther up in the Sea also.

Having stayed in a marina and having gone farther north into the Sea, I think it's a toss up. I also think that the ladies have a harder time with the heat than the guys. But remember, if part of the crew is uncomfortable, none of the crew will be comfortable. So if you're considering cruising the entire year in Mexico, have lots and lots of fans, which are less expensive to buy in the States.

As I write this on November 9, the heat has finally 'broken'. We are able to sleep comfortably in our v-berth. Hurray! And we can get boat projects done without sweating profusely 24/7.

Our plan is to head for Mazatlan for Thanksgiving, and Puerto Vallarta for Christmas. We probably won't get south of Barra this year because we'll be heading for the barn next summer. We wish the best to all our fellow and future cruisers. And for those thinking about cruising, you can check out our website at and see what we crazy cruisers do down here.

P.S. I'm turning 50 this year, so my DaveFest birthday week celebration is going to be more awesome than ever!

David Lewis & Kellie Coyle
Sweet Lorraine, Catalina 36
Ventura / Mexico


My favorite reading in Latitude is the reports from young Liz Clark, who is singlehanding and surfing the in the Pacific. No matter if they are about crossings, sultry lagoons or sleazy boatyards, I've been touched and inspired by this intelligent, persistent and sassy young lass. I just love her writing, and hope she writes a book about her journey soon.

But I just don't understand how she has been able to continue singlehanded with all the lovely young hombres out there. Does she just love the bliss of quality time alone? I know some of us are just too eccentric to normal people to be date-able.

I confess, the best part of my cruise last winter was the 2,000 miles I singlehanded from St. Martin to Guatemala. I was so happy to get to know myself a little better, and really tune into the subtler vibrations of the sea, the sky and my cat. It also meant that when I did meet new people, it was really exciting, sort of like meeting movie stars.

For love, for music, and to see it for myself — including the fact that it just got hammered by Hurricane Paloma's 145 knots — I am going to Cuba. Paloma means that Cuba has been slammed by three 'fatties' this year, and the people have lost so much of what little they had. One-third of all their crops and most of their tobacco drying sheds were shredded. So I plan to bring some supplies — and a surfboard, of course. I'm counting on Obama to open the door to this fabled land on January 20, so if any salty puppies want to join me, I'll donate a third of my charter and guest fees to the cause. I can be contacted via .

Say Liz, how about a surfing school in Cuba?

Vincente Pastore
Birdwing, St. Francis 44 Cat
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Vincente — Liz writes from a uniquely personal point of view that we. like you, find to be very interesting and entertaining. As for her writing a book, we think she's far too busy 'living' the material to do that now. From time to time Liz has been joined by friends, although recently she's been singlehanding almost exclusively. As for her 'date-ability' and love life or lack of it, we're not interested in it unless she volunteers it. But with each passing day, we're more impressed with her dedication to completing the mission she set out to accomplish. We knew her when she was a hopeful novice, and it's been exciting to follow her as she's evolved into someone who walks the walk far more than most.

As for Obama being able to make Cuba a viable destination for American cruisers the day he takes office, it will be great if it's as easy as that. As we've said many times before, we think as many Americans as possible should visit. Our two-week sailing trip along the north coast of Cuba back when Clinton was president and didn't have the Treasury Department threatening to prosecute cruisers for, ahem, "trading with the enemy," was a mind-boggling educational experience. Prior to that, we'd had no idea how appalling it is for people to be denied their most basic human rights — such as freedom of speech, assembly, travel and dissent. Indeed, if a visit to Cuba doesn't make you want to support a counter-revolution to free the people, you may have been at sea too long.


I read the Max Ebb rigging knife article in the November Latitude, and for the first time I can remember, think Lee Helm got it completely wrong. Before you start gloating, I’m sorry to say that you did even worse!

In my experience, the best rigging knife has neither a marlinspike nor a shackle key, but is, in fact, a Leatherman. They’re stainless, easy to operate with cold hands, and have tons of attachments. Best of all they have a handy pair of pliers for opening things like shackles and tight knots. On many occasions my Leatherman has allowed me to easily take care of a problem that had the rest of the crew scratching their heads or waiting for someone to dig out the toolbox.

The only thing that a Leatherman lacks is a marlinspike, but how many crew need one of those on hand to whip out a splice on the go? Certainly not a first-timer to Mexico. Most boats have a marlinspike or splicing wand on board, and most of us need to break out Chapman's just to remember how to do a splice anyway. So I say dump the pricey rigging knives and drop a Leatherman into your pocket.

And thanks again Latitude for being such a great magazine. It just goes to show that sometimes you get a lot more than you pay for!

David Kramer
Boatless in Santa Barbara

David — We asked Max for his thoughts on your letter:

"I like the Leatherman tool, but always felt it made too big a lump in my pocket to carry around. Lee says that any heavy item you can legitimately carry as personal gear is that much more movable ballast.

"There's one in my quick-access racing toolbox, though, along with a sailor's hammer (vice-grips) and a small screwdriver that fits the luff foil feeder."


As part of the Ha-Ha fleet, we pulled into Turtle Bay at sunrise one morning and were delighted to be escorted in by dolphins and pelicans. As we looked for a place to drop the hook, a man in a 16-ft Bayliner Capri motored up behind us and greeted us with a warm welcome. It was Enrique, who has been the subject of numerous, and sometimes negative, letters in Latitude lately. He handed us his business card, told us what channel we could reach him on, and advised us that he could take care of our needs for fuel, water, ice and garbage disposal.

Over the next couple of days, we used Enrique for all these services — as well as docking our dinghy at his dinghy dock next to the pier. One evening Enrique personally went out to purchase a pack of cigarettes for a crewmember, charging him half of what it costs for a pack in the States.

Early on Saturday morning, when more than 135 Ha-Ha boats were about to start the second leg, Enrique — exhausted from having catered to the fleet for several days — came by to say 'good morning'. We asked if he could get us some potable water. Even though the stores wouldn't be open for nearly 90 minutes, he said he'd see what he could do, and motored off. An hour before the stores officially opened, he brought us 20 gallons of drinking water, delivered to our cat, for $8. I thought it was an amazingly good deal.

Unlike in Cabo, at Turtle Bay we were chauffeured by pangas at all hours of the day and night. And unlike in Cabo, nobody at Turtle Bay begged or panhandled. We found the people of Turtle Bay to be warm, friendly, and extremely hard-working. As far as I'm concerned, Enrique, his staff, and all the people of Turtle Bay provided first class service for the participants in the '08 Ha-Ha.

Richard Frankhuizen, Crew
Crystal Blue Persuasion, SR-55/SX

Richard — We heard nothing but good reports from Turtle Bay — and that goes for Servicios Annabelle, which is Enrique's main competitor.


The recent mentions of Skip Allan in Latitude reminded me that we were at anchor in Hanalei Bay in '78 when Skip Allan and the other participants in the first Singlehanded TransPac from San Francisco to Hawaii showed up. I particularly recall Skip Allan because he gave my grandson Scott sailing lessons in our Sabot. Among other things, he taught him to sail backwards!

Another memorable moment was when I recognized the person swimming past Barones as Peggy Slater, perhaps the first woman to skipper a boat in the TransPac. "Oh, hi Peggy!" She was on her way to her vacation house on the other side of the bay. As it was a long swim, we offered to ferry her over, but she declined, and invited us for breakfast instead. Some of the solo racers were there for breakfast too.

Barones, with Al Mayes and myself, continued on for an extended near-circumnavigation.

Henriette (Rita) Groot
Barones, 35-ft wooden yawl
Morro Bay / Ventura


In June, my family and a group of friends did a charter with a major bareboat company in Belize. I'm a lifelong sailor, having sailed much of the South Pacific on my own boat, and had always wanted to sail the legendary cays of Belize.

We chose the charter company because it had a generally good reputation and a significant presence in Belize. The charter was a nightmare, so we unilaterally terminated it early. I did have what was called 'trip insurance', and therein lies the rub.

When we got to Belize, I inspected the boat and found several faults, the worst of which was an every-five-second drip from the starboard water tank. The staff fixed this, and I asked them to refill the water tank, which by then was almost empty.

Other problems were corrosion on the mainsail track that made it very difficult to raise the main, and a very poor refrigeration system that caused our food to rot in the freezer within 36 hours. Before going to bed one night, I charged the batteries for 1.5 hours as instructed. At about 0100 the low voltage alarm went off. I got up, charged the batteries for an hour, and then went back to bed. When I got up the next morning, one of the engines wouldn't start because of low voltage. The other engine started because it was not connected to the house battery system. I only mention this because the cabin battery was significantly discharged after six hours of three cabin fans operating off of it. That morning I noticed the refrigerator was warm and the freezer temperature had gotten up to 50°.

That day we motorsailed to Laughing Bird Cay, which was very nice! But by midday we ran out of water from the first tank. I tried to switch the pump over to the second tank but couldn't get the water to flow. When I called the base, they recommended that we return to get it fixed. After we spent the morning of the second day at the charter company base, they fixed the problem with the water tank. It turned out to be a design problem that allowed an air bubble to block the flow from the new tank to the pump. The office staff said that I should have known this.

But we were also greeted by a foul smell — that of our food rotting. After discussion with the other members of our party, we elected to terminate the charter early for our safety and comfort.

Although these issues were annoying, we thought they were forgivable. After all, things do happen. And in any system, the likelihood of a failure is proportional to the complexity of that system.

What really infuriates me is that I've now sent two letters by mail, and faxed another one, to the number provided for the charter company's headquarters in an effort to get either a partial refund or credit on another charter. Despite the fact that we spent $4,500 on the charter, they haven't replied or attempted to contact me in any way.

Chartering is a great concept, as it's a major pain to get your boat to many of the best cruising grounds. I had planned to charter in Tonga next summer, but now I won't because I won't use a charter company, and I have no reasonable way to get my boat to Tonga for a three-week sailing vacation.

Thanks for letting me bitch,

Andre England
Planet Earth

Andre — We're sorry that you had a bad experience, but there are two things that seem inexplicable to us. The first is that the charter company, one of the two big ones, didn't get back to you. These companies live on customer feedback. We wonder if it might have something to do with the fact that you tried to contact them via letters and fax, two forms of communication that are rarely used anymore. We suggest that you call the company's reservations number, tell them that you're thinking of doing three weeks in Tonga, but that you first need to talk with a supervisor about problems you had with a charter a few months ago. You'll get someone to talk to.

The second thing that seems inexplicable to us, and we say this with all due respect, is that you thought a five-second drip in a water tank was the most serious problem in a charter you decided to cancel for reasons of "comfort and safety." Travel all that way to Belize and an experienced cruiser gives up on something as minor as that? Rotting food and batteries that won't stay charged -— seemingly related — would have been the things we would have insisted the company remedy.

Nonetheless, we still think you should call the reservations number and speak to a supervisor, and the sooner you do it the better.


It seems you regularly have to run a letter from a woman who is disgusted by a photo that’s more tawdry or cheesy than usual. Well, I find that sailors — especially San Francisco Bay sailors — are a pretty tawdry bunch, so my expectations aren't so high. As long as everyone concerned is a consenting adult, they can show off whatever the law will allow.

But what does disgust me is the one-sidedness of it all. Given the testosterone-saturated eye-candy I can find on any dock in the Bay, where are the men wearing nothing more than a little equipment and a big smile? Throw me a bone, here. I want to see short shorts scarcely punctuating tanned torsos, too — I just want something different in ‘em.

Neat or bearish, lithe or cuddly, let’s see some three-day scruff and zestful grins, great legs bracing mighty efforts, backs rippling with working muscles, those perfectly-proportioned sailorly arms — and skin, skin, skin!

I’m no pervier than anyone else around here, it’s just that if you’re going to sink to such shameless cheesecake, you owe it to your own gleeful tastelessness to serve up some beefcake, too.

And don't tell me that you don’t know how to assess male charms. Not given the power of the internet and your occasional success — such as the October Latitude cover. Nice! If nothing else, you can solicit input from your readers who do know how to assess male charm. I, for one, would be delighted to help. And I can see several ways women might rate ‘em: flat coil vs. stretched out; flakes neatly vs. folds neatly; etc. By the way, there is nothing sexier than a guy washing dishes. Try it sometime.

Women are coming into their own in the sailing world as never before, and Latitude doesn't want to be too slow off the mark to catch them.

Hope to see you on the water. With yer shirts off!

Isabel 'Piper Afloat' Tifft
Voyager, Ranger 29
Ballena Isle

Readers — While we were off doing the Baja Ha-Ha, Associate Editor LaDonna Bubak had control of 'Lectronic Latitude. For some reason beyond our comprehension, she actually agreed with Isabel's letter — indeed, she's been very vocal about this topic since she started working here a couple years ago — and ran it in the November 5 edition of 'Lectronic.

Her response to Isabel was: "We like to consider ourselves fair and balanced — at least where tastelessness is concerned — so we invite you to share your tawdry photos of more manly models. Just be sure to send them to for . . . um . . . evaluation." Then she went and posted a photo of a sailor dude's butt.

The response from readers was impressive. The vast majority — men included — believe that fair's fair but there were a few dissenters. Read on.


If you're going to be fair and balanced about the racy photos, why not show some aged, wrinkled butts and boobies that stretch down to the knees?

The women in your photos are beautiful, like the boats. I don't care for men's butts or senior wrinkles. The point of Latitude 38 is not to pander to prurient drool — there are plenty of internet sites and magazines to serve those interests. But even the classiest of slick magazines and megayacht ads feature beautiful women — not hunky men.

So please don't cater to Isabel's roving eyes. Stick with beautiful boats and women.

Captain Lewis Keizer
Sandpiper, Ericson 27
Moss Landing



Capt. Keizer wrote “But even the classiest of slick magazines and megayacht ads feature beautiful women — not hunky men."

Dude! That’s because men own those magazines and that’s the demographic the advertisers are targeting. Slick magazines and megayacht ads are catering — just to a select monied set of roving eyes.

So I say stick with catering to the full monty suite of sailors and Latitude readers, male and female! Same sex! Opposite sex! Polyphonic sex! If you're going to celebrate prurient drool, why censor?

Jill Marshall


Capt. Lewis needs to loosen up and not be such a stuffed shirt. If he doesn't like it, he doesn't have to look; that is what women have been doing for years!

My wife and I have found that women tend to make better crew and as such hardly ever take guys along anymore. Weather permitting, we always let our lady guests pick out the Captain's attire. The only rule is that Admiral Rosey says the package must be covered; that is for her eyes only. The gals love it and so do we.

Capt. Lewis, welcome to the new age of equality. It's all in good fun, and we do have fun, that's for sure.

David Eberhard
Valkyrie, Roberts 44
San Francisco


For a lot of sailors, male and female, sailing au naturel is an enjoyable part of the sailing lifestyle. My wife and I believe it's appropriate for Latitude to publish photos of fit people enjoying sailing in this manner. Sailing is fun, so let's keep it that way.

R. Dennis Delzeit
Planet Earth

Dennis — The next reader seems to agree with you.


This picture was taken by my wife off of the Florida coast in the Gulf. It was one of those perfect days: gentle winds, calm seas and warm temperatures.

I sent this photo to my friends back home explaining this was my new "office" since I am now retired.

Skip Hatton
Fantasy, Chrysler 26


Captain Lewis has it right: there is no way a man's butt dresses up a sailing magazine.

Robert Lockwood

Robert — We see it the way you do, but apparently some women think otherwise.


I'm writing to let you know how much I enjoyed that photo of Mr. Alaska Sailor. I haven’t seen anything like that in a while! Please keep up the good work.

Lynn Langdon

Lynn — First you want male booty in Latitude, so what next, the right to vote?


Sometimes I get a little tired of the scantily-clad women that appear in sailing mags. Makes me feel like I shouldn’t be reading them myself. But I have to say, I laughed my, uh, ass off when I saw the beefcake picture in 'Lectronic Latitude. It’s not quite the shot I was expecting!

Let’s not get carried away with the cheesecake and beefcake, but I do feel that everyone is entitled to the picnic. This magazine, as well as this sport, is not just for men!

Pamela K. Jennett
Avalon, Mason 43
Lake Tahoe


Beefcake doesn't do a thing for me, but I believe fair is fair, and can appreciate the hard work that goes into keeping a well-toned bod of any sex. So yeah, stick a few in there!

And besides, I think anything that might encourage more ladies to get into sailing is never a bad thing.

Larry Earl
Ichiban, Fuji 35
Morro Bay


While I am saving myself for the right gal, because y'all insisted, here's a picture of me. Notice the sexy bottom . . . paint.

Yes, I do have a boat, and might one day travel. In fact, I’m looking at heading out by spring, so all you eligible gals need to hurry before my mistress, Miss Atlantic, lays claim on this hunky beefcake of a guy.

Bill Leggett
Pretty Lucky, Coronado 30
Planet Earth


I write this in response to a letter a few months ago when a reader was looking for his dream cat, even if it cost quite a bit of money. I fully agree with Latitude about the positive aspects of having simple systems on boats, and if I had to do it again, I’d buy our family’s Outremer 55 Light catamaran.

Our catamaran aside, I would suggest that potential multihull buyers think about visiting Australia and New Zealand before making their next purchase. The modern Aussie and Kiwi catamaran designs are alive and well, and in my opinion, second to none. Their field testing — in the rough waters off their coasts — is often significantly more hardcore than most round-the-world cruisers will ever experience. And most multihull owners in that part of the world actually use their vessels for voyaging. In addition, few, if any, of the Aussie designs are modified charterboats.

Designers I would be following would be Schionning, Grainger, Chamberlin and Bob Oram in Australia, and Malcolm Tennant and Ron Givens in New Zealand. Unfortunately, Tennant died earlier this year, but his design plans are still available. Of course, there is also the grand old master of Aussie multihulls, Lock Crowther, many of whose designs are still going strong and can be picked up relatively cheaply. Other designers include Perry, Simpson, Lavranos and Roger Hill. Many of these designs can be seen moving up and down the New South Wales and Queensland coasts during their cruising season. As a testament to their success, most buyers are local.

As if to confirm Aussie construction — and prices — Thomas Colville’s Sodeb'O, the 105-ft maxi tri he used to set a new solo transatlantic record, was built and launched in Australia. In fact, we saw her in New Caledonia, where she reached 20 knots of boat speed in just 10 knots of true wind.

While I don’t agree that Australia and New Zealand are now on sale — as suggested in 'Lectronic Latitude — the U.S. dollar is slowly regaining lost ground. In fact, the U.S. dollar has been so weak that it actually fell against the Fiji dollar after their fourth coup in 20 years. And Fiji’s GNP is just $5 billion!

An additional benefit of looking in Australia or New Zealand is that there is a good-sized used market from owners of offshore multihulls who have swallowed the anchor. These are usually well shaken-down vessels that may be picked up inexpensively.

One strategy to find a multihull could be to fly into Sydney and drive north to Cairns, stopping at harbors and yards along the way. An abbreviated version would be to fly into Brisbane and drive north to Airlie Beach. If you don’t find a multihull to your liking along this coastline, then at least you will have a great time, see some fantastic scenery and cruising grounds, and be treated to some genuine Aussie hospitality — I can guarantee it!

Chris Bridge
Cheval, Outremer 55 Light
Corona del Mar 

Readers — The Bridge family of Corona del Mar bought their Outremer from the factory in ‘03, did some cruising in the Med, and crossed the Atlantic to the Caribbean where we met them at St. Barth in ‘04. Since Chris sailed the boat to Panama, the family has been splitting time between the three kids in school in Southern California and cruising in the South Pacific. Chris will fly back to their boat in Australia in December and take off for Hawaii. His wife Carolyn and their three children will, as they have for years, join him about a month later.

The timing of Chris’ letter couldn’t have been more interesting, as we’ve just finished making almost the exact trip he recommends. We flew to Australia, spent several days in Sydney, flew up to Brisbane, then drove the 1,000-mile coastal road to Port Douglas, which is as far north as you can go in Australia without a four-wheel drive vehicle. The drive was almost always through beautiful, sparsely populated country, and the rental car was surprisingly inexpensive. However, once you get an hour north of Brisbane, it’s a two-lane road all the way to Cairns and Port Douglas. And of the 1,000 miles, only a few miles of it are close enough to see the ocean! In fact, we constantly had to make 20- to 50-mile turnoffs from the main road to get to the coast for a look at anchorages and boats.

So what looks on the map as though it might be a 1,000-mile drive for someone on a boat hunt, would in reality be more like 1,500 to 2,000 miles. And such a search still wouldn’t even take you within 500 miles of Sydney and the populated southeast coast of Australia. Furthermore, many of Queensland’s marinas and boat clubs are relatively small and at the end of long roads in the middle of nowhere. In order to do a relatively thorough search, we’d recommend that the boatbuyer set aside a month for the task, and plan on doing a lot of backtracking. The way to do it would be with a ‘vanaroo’, which is an inexpensive small campers, and stay in campgrounds, which are clean, fun and located everywhere in Queensland. As Bridge says, you could have a heck of a great time just looking for a boat.

We were surprised by the very large number of offshore catamarans in Australia, particularly those less than 45 feet or so. The Australian-made Seawind 1160s were ubiquitous, and we also saw a number of homegrown Perry 43s. Given Australia’s long history of boatbuilding, we were somewhat surprised to see a number of French and South African-built production catamarans. Australia is also home to countless custom and homebuilt catamarans, many of them very well crafted.

While we certainly didn’t see every cat from Brisbane to Cairns, we did see a lot of them, including at Airlie Beach in the Whitsunday Islands. But unlike Bridge — who has much more offshore catamaran experience than we do, and whose opinion we hold in the highest regard — we weren’t as impressed as we thought we’d be with the cats or prices. It's not that there was anything particularly wrong with them, it's more that we didn't see any cat that we really lusted over. That somewhat surprised us. On the other hand, Bridge has spent a lot more time in Australia than we have, so he's certainly seen a lot more boats. But except for those who have the time and enjoy driving, camping and exploring — what fun! — Australia wouldn't be the most convenient place to shop for a cat.


I’d seen a lot of pictures of the Maltese Falcon prior to her arrival in San Francisco, and the photos pale in comparison to actually seeing her in person.

Rich Smith
Braveheart, CSY 37
San Francisco 


Thank you for Latitude’s coverage of the arrival of Falcon. I had to miss her arrival because we had a race on Saturday in Santa Cruz, and being foredeck, I couldn’t miss it. As it turned out, we were short on crew, so we got a DFL, another DFL, and an almost DFL. Guess where I would have rather been! My two six-year-old boys are already respectable Santa Cruz 27 sailors, so we made plans to drive up to the Bay to see Falcon.

By the way, I’ve read both Valley Boy, which is Perkins autobiography, and Mine's Bigger, David A. Kaplan’s book about Perkins and the building of Falcon, Jim Clark’s Athena, and Joe Vittoria’s Mirabella V. When is the publisher of Latitude going to write about his life and times? We’d be there for the book signing. Unless, of course, I have a race.

Richard Smith
Saffron, Santa Cruz 27
Santa Cruz
Richard — As for the publisher of this magazine writing about his “life and times,” we’ve being doing that for nearly 32 years, and have to believe that everyone has had more than their fill of it. Besides, the first non-Latitude writing we’d like to do is some non-fiction about slowly drifting through southeast Asia on a sailboat — and we’ve never even been there yet. So we expect your boys will have graduated from college before we ever hold a book signing.


Thank you, Latitude, for your frank analysis of the construction and use of megayachts. You guys are dependable that way: direct, informative and respectful.

In the September 26Lectronic, you wrote: “As for how megayachts, even sailing megayachts, fit into today’s world of shrinking resources and perhaps climate change, the answer is not very well.”

It makes me wonder if anyone — meaning the owners of these yachts — is paying attention. When I listened to Lesley Stahl’s interview with Tom Perkins on television, I found that a spend-it-if-you’ve-got-it attitude drives Perkins, who admittedly likes to impress people. When asked how much Falcon cost — then up for sale at $170 million — Perkins admitted that he was too embarrassed to say. Why? Stahl suggested it might be because “there’s the homeless and charity and there’s lots of things you could do with that money that would improve the world, right?” When Stahl asked Perkins if he had an ego, he admitted he did. I’d like to know when ego became an honorable excuse for being reckless and wasteful?

I agree with Latitude and Ron Holland that 60 feet is long enough for any private boat. And really, is Falcon a sailboat or just an amazing new computer toy? My 50-footer is to his 289-footer what a hang-glider is to a 747. Where’s the joy?

I will admit that I’ve written up my share of megayachts — most of my work has more soul — and sensational capitalism always reads vapid to me compared to the optimism of innovative research and purpose. Comparing the pursuits of Paul Allen — who spent over $200 million for his 414-ft motoryacht Octopus — with those of Bill Gates — whose Gates Foundation spent $170 million to develop vaccines — we can see that there are different options when it comes to ways of impressing people. I hope we’ll be seeing a new paradigm in ‘personal success’.

That said, I made sure I was on the Golden Gate Bridge when Maltese Falcon passed beneath. Yikes, what a show that was! We rode our bikes onto the west side of bridge and had quite a thrill watching Falcon sail in and out of the fog toward us. Conspicuous consumption at its best. Stunning! It was a joy to be there.

Nonnie Thompson
San Francisco
Nonnie — As we’ve mentioned several times before, Maltese Falcon was started almost 10 years ago, when it was a very different world. Indeed, the hull was built many years before that. If someone wanted to build a Falcon-sized yacht today, we’d find it difficult to be very enthusiastic.

Where's the 'joy'? As we’ve also written before, Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy’s 192-ft Holland-designed, Huisman-built ketch Ethereal is about the last megayacht we feel good about, and in large part because he’s spent big bucks to make her as 'green' as possible. She was expected to be launched last month.

We're fully aware that the design and building of mega-yachts creates many great jobs and advances technology, and we know the operation of these yachts does the same. And while we think it’s important to let individuals conceive and create great things, and that competition is the underpinning for almost all significant progress, we nonetheless think there is both a context and a limit to things. As such, if someone were to try to outdo Maltese Falcon today, we’d find it to be in poor taste.

As for Perkins himself, you should read his book and — you didn’t hear it from us — maybe Kaplan’s book, too. These will give you a lot of insight into what makes Perkins tick, what drives him — and others like him. As the French say, to understand all is to forgive all.

Sure he has an ego, but let's be thankful that some people have bigger egos than others. For without outsized egos, there would be no pyramids in Egypt, there would be no Stonehenge, no Eiffel Tower, no Panama Canal, no great clipper ships, no solo around the world sailors . . . nothing but mediocrity. Perkins said he wanted to recapture the glory of the clipper ships, even though he was fully aware his yacht would be over the top. And at least he’s honest. The ultra rich who irk us are the hypocrites who claim to really, really care about the poor, but continue to maintain gigantic fortunes and pass them on to their offspring while millions starve each night. Actions speak louder than words.


Tom Shafer, my boyfriend, and I had only been together for 10 months before we decided to buy a Valiant 40 in Antigua in the West Indies. When we first talked about buying a boat, Tom was thinking about a little 20-something-foot jobber that we could sail around the Bay before committing to a big boat. But I knew that he really wanted a Valiant, so I thought why spend the money on a small boat — let's get what we want now! That’s all he had to hear. In fact, he tells the story to friends all the time.

Two months later, we were on our way to Antigua to kick the tires, so to speak, of our potential new yacht. We met with the original owners, took her for a sail, and closed the deal on the spot. Valiant Lady was ours! We were so excited, and I was looking forward to putting some new adventure in my hum-drum daily life.

That was December 2006, and since then Tom and I have made two six-week trips to the Caribbean. The first was to explore the Leeward Islands. I hadn't had any sailing lessons at the time and barely knew anything about it. In fact, my only experience was a few trips on the Oakland Estuary aboard a friend's boat. I was, however, intrigued by the idea of the cruising life and had read some books.

Tom, however, was a longtime sailor. So while I didn't know the first thing about sailing a 40-ft boat, I trusted that he had the experience to get us where we wanted to go. Heaven forbid that anything happens to him while we were at sea. Yikes!

My first ocean sailing experience was a short one, about one mile from Antigua's English Harbor to Antigua's Falmouth Harbor. It was as rough as it was short, with 20-knot winds and 7- to 12-ft swells. We ended up staying in Falmouth for about 10 days, waiting for parts because of alternator and battery problems. I didn’t mind, because at that point I was petrified to leave the harbor.

When we finally got the repairs taken care of, we sailed to Barbuda. It was beautiful! Although Tom did all of the sailing, I was able to help navigate by plotting our course using the compass and a cruiser's guide. I did drive a little, but wasn't that good at it. But the thing that I wasn't prepared for was constantly worrying that something would need to be repaired before we could continue on with our trip. It seemed that every time we were about to shove off to the next island, we'd be delayed because of a dead battery, a bad alternator, or the wind generator's not working up to snuff. The wind generator was crucial, because it powered the refrigeration system that kept our drinks cold!

These delays left me — a Type A individual — feeling anxious and stuck. Tom always brought things into perspective by saying, "Well, what a beautiful place to be stuck." And he was right. That’s when we came up with our cruising motto: "It’s always something, but when you're in the Caribbean, every night is Friday night, and every day is Saturday."

During our first six-week trip, we sailed from Barbuda to St. Barth, St. Martin, Saba, Statia, St. Kitts, Nevis and back to Antigua. By the end of our trip I felt like a seasoned sailor — and an expert at anchoring.

Before our six-week trip the next year, I took basic keelboat sailing lessons. This gave me more confidence, and I’m sure it made Tom feel better that I could actually help in an emergency. Then last April, we sailed from Antigua to Montserrat, Guadeloupe, The Saints, Dominica and back. But as the first half of our saying goes, "It's always something." In this case, the outboard wouldn't work on the day we were to set sail from Antigua,

It's never easy to fix things when you don't have the right parts or tools, but Tom is as inventive as they come. And to him, every breakdown is a challenge. So I started to call him 'Tommy the Tool Man'. There wasn’t anything he couldn't jury rig to get us on our way until we could find the right part or mechanic. In the case of the outboard, he had to jury rig part of the throttle system because there were no replacement parts immediately available. But Tommy's 'The Man', and soon we were off to Montserrat.

In addition to Tom's repair skills, I love his positive attitude and enthusiasm when we get stuck. At the end of every sail, we'd swim, shower — and then it was cocktail hour. Rum punches all around! Life is good!

In March of next year we plan to take another six-week cruise, perhaps down to Trinidad and Bonaire.

Admiral Tammy Mercado
Valiant Lady, Valiant 40
Antigua / Oakland


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