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February 2009

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I did the '08 Baja Ha-Ha aboard Gary Burgin's SR-55 cat Crystal Blue Persuasion, and I'm now interested in altering my life from working every day to cruising. As you know, ignorance can be an expensive lesson, so any detailed budget information that you can glean from other cruisers would be quite valuable to me. I look forward to what cruisers have to report.

Richard Frankhuizen

Richard — With unemployment on the rise, most investments getting clobbered and it now being a full-fledged buyer's market for boats, this is the most opportune time to go cruising we can remember in 30 years. After all, it's likely that you could take a couple of years off to go cruising, then return with a great tan and the memory of countless adventures, without having missed out on much except a lot of gloom.

The following letters are some of the responses we've received on the subject of cruising costs. As you'll read, the costs range from about $10,000 a year to $100,000 a year. We're not sure that the $10,000/year cruisers have much less fun than those who spend 10 times as much.

The other thing to keep in mind is how lucky we West Coast cruisers are. Mexico is much easier for us to get to than the Caribbean is for East Coast sailors, and it's much, much less expensive than the Caribbean.


I read your request for examples of cruising budgets, and thought I'd share our experience. Our family of four — which includes my wife, Christy, and our young girls, Cassie and Juliana — have been out for 3.5 years now. We've sailed in the Bahamas, which was cheap, to the Caribbean, which was pricey, and to the Med, where the prices are psycho!

Although we don't keep exact figures — maybe we don't want to know the real cost — we probably spend an average of $4-5,000 per month. That would include boat projects, trips home for Christmas, and so forth. We steer clear of marinas — in fact, we haven't tied up since early November in Rabat, Morocco. But we've enjoyed tours, trips and restaurants in the variety of locations we've visited. I would consider ours to be in the middle range of cruising budgets, somewhere between the hand-to-mouth crowd and the fancy yachts with crews.

We just got back to the Caribbean from the Med, and are now hanging out in the Windwards. We are looking forward to a lot more sailing and a lot less motoring than we did in the Med. Despite having crossed the Atlantic, our tanks are still full of expensive fuel we bought in Morocco — and we hope to hold on to it as long as possible. When it comes to sailing versus motoring, the Caribbean beats the Med hands down!

Joe Boyle and family
Zia, Switch 51 cat
Windward Islands

Readers — Joe and his family have a very nice website — — which has lots of great photos and information. In particular, we got a laugh out of their 'You Know You're A Cruiser When . . .' section. As in, you know you're a cruiser when: 1) People offer you food they were going to throw away — and you accept. 2) You take a shower, then put on the same clothes you were wearing before the shower. 3) A swim in a pool or a hot tub counts as a shower. 4) Your friends try to nail you down on a time and place to meet, but you just can't commit. 5) You feel proud when you serve drinks that have ice cubes."

Anybody want to add to their list?


In response to your request, we just figured out our average monthly spending for cruising in '08. After five years of cruising, we've found that we're still averaging less than $1,300/month, and that's with about six weeks a year in marinas. Here's the breakdown on a monthly basis:

Food — $290
Liquor — $55
Berthing — $60
Laundry — $14
Fuel and Oil — $100
Entertainment — $94
Miscellaneous, but mostly medical — $275

We hope this is helpful for anyone thinking about making the 'big break'.

Jay & Janice Hawkins, with Buster, the bad dog
Ceilidh, Pearson 40
Bahia de Los Muertos / formerly Sausalito

Jay and Janice — Thanks for your report. Based on the fact that you're still cruising after five years, we're going to presume that you find the cruising life to be as satisfying as it is economical.


What it costs to cruise each year is a good question. The one thing we've found out is that it's not cheap to winter on one's boat in British Columbia. We're paying CDN$1,050/month for our slip in Port Sidney Marina which, at the current exchange rate is about US$800. We paid over US$4 for a gallon of diesel last month and, even after that, found that our diesel heater is far less expensive than the electric alternatives. That's because the marina charges CDN$0.07 per kilowatt for electricity. Before we knew the cost, we ran up a CDN$283 electric bill our first month here. We are now averaging about US$200/month for fuel, versus US$500 or more per month when we were actively cruising earlier this year. But we spent most of that time motoring up to Alaska and back.

Our food costs are about $400 a month. It's a little unusual, however, because as a result of my medical condition, the only thing I can 'eat' are Nestlé Carnation's Very High Calorie Instant Breakfast drinks. I import these from the States, although the price recently doubled because of a corporate merger. Sharon's food, which is normal, seems a little less expensive than in the States. When the occasional outing for lunch or dinner is included, I'd guess that we spend about $400/month on food.

Our maintenance costs have recently dropped considerably because the major system failures — twice with diesel heaters and once with our Freedom 25 Inverter/Charger — have dropped as well. But we're not down to $0. I figure we were spending over $1,000/month for maintenance during the summer when we were traveling 40 to 50 miles every day. Since 'parking' in Sidney for the winter, that expense is down to about $200 a month. For example, just this week I had to deal with a broken door latch, which I replaced at West Marine for about $30, plus a faulty float switch on the bilge pump. Our insurance runs about $185 a month.

Our other expense is mail and package forwarding, which is around $150 per month. Then there are services to have our banking and checking deposits handled by our accountant, another $100 per month.

The only other significant expense is communications. Because Sharon still works at her public relations business, we have internet costs — Verizon Aircards and BBX WiFi service — of about $150 per month. Cell phones on a global plan run another $250/month, and the satellite phone has been averaging around $180 per month. Throw in SailMail at $20/month and OCENS, another $20/month, and you'll see why communications are one of our biggest expenses.

All of the above adds up to around $3,500/month. I haven't thrown in personal costs unrelated to cruising, but medical insurance is a big expense for us because of my personal health condition. Then there's the airfare for occasional trips that inevitably arise, and other stuff that people often forget to consider. Including everything, we spend close to $6,000/month.

Once we get south, I believe we'll be able to cruise far less expensively, especially by anchoring out. We're currently planning to join this year's Ha-Ha, a full year ahead of our original plan. As a result, we'll have to pick Latitude's brain about communications, and where we should base ourselves for the '09-'10 winter in Mexico to make it possible for Sharon to continue her business. That will require good communications with her clients and reasonable airport access. Latitude probably faces all the same issues, so my guess is you have just the right answer and a healthy list of options.

Richard Drechsler
Last Resort, Catalina 470
Sidney, B.C. / Long Beach

Richard — We expect that you'll be able to cruise on a much smaller budget in Mexico, assuming, of course, you follow through with your plan of avoiding marinas. The best places for you to set up a base are probably La Paz, Banderas Bay, Barra de Navidad, and Zihua. You can anchor for free at all these places and they all have nearby airports. Alaska Air has great flights between California and all these areas. It's just 3 hours and 15 minutes, for example, from P.V. to San Francisco. Thanks to the two-hour time difference, we often catch the 5 p.m. flight and arrive in San Francisco with enough time to get in a couple of hours of evening work at the office. If you book carefully and far enough in advance, the flights can be very reasonable.

The important thing, of course, is to establish a fast, economical, reliable and quiet internet base, where you can both work and make calls on Skype. Using Skype allows you to call all over the world for nothing. Your satphone expenses will likely drop to almost nothing. As for your heating bills, those will be a thing of the past.


The Christmas Trades here in the middle of the Eastern Caribbean have finally calmed down enough so the sailing conditions are becoming decent. The period between the wet and dry seasons started later than normal this year, lasted longer, and was more robust than is typical.

It's my understanding that two charter cats were lost this year. The one that I heard about involved a French family on a bareboat charter out of Martinique. Apparently there was some bad boat handling in high wind and seas. The family drifted in a liferaft for four days until they were picked up by the Trinidad Coast Guard. To me, the skipper's account of the whole thing sounded like an attempt to save face.

Originally from Alameda, I've been cruising the Caribbean for quite a few years now, so I know what I spend. I live on the $1,685 I receive from Social Security each month, and $95 a month is deducted from it for Medicare. If I want to hunker down and not dine out, I can live on as little as $100 a week. But I generally spend about $200 a week on myself. When the diesel engine on my boat finally gave out after about 25 years, I had to use some of my savings to replace it. But I used my debit card and got enough travel miles to fly to the States and back. My boat is self-insured, so there's no expense there.

John Anderton
Sanderling, Cabo Rico 38
Formerly Alameda / Now the Caribbean

Readers — We don't want to give people the wrong idea about the cost of cruising, as some cruisers spend a ton of money. In fact, we're working on an interview with some Southern California folks who have been out cruising for three years now, and manage to spend about $100,000 a year. When you read their story, you'll see how this is possible.


In Latitude's response to a letter asking how far out to sea a deceased's ashes must be spread, you said 500 feet. Are you sure? Wouldn't that be just beyond the surf line? I think it should be more like three miles. After all, that's how far out you have to be to throw organic material overboard. And that's what spreading ashes really is, putting the organic remains of a human — albeit a little overcooked — in the sea. Most of the 'ashes' sink, for they are composed of pulverized bones, but there is a fine dust which remains on the surface. When mixed with flower petals, I'm sure this concoction of human remains floats for some time.

If 500 feet is the correct distance, would it be legal to walk to the end of a pier that length and dump Uncle Charlie in the water?

Jim Barden
Martes, Iroquois 32 Mk2a
Marina del Rey

J.B. — Sorry, but we certainly did make a mistake. The legal distance offshore in California is 500 yards from either a navigable waterway or the ocean. Furthermore, it's not legal to spread ashes from piers or wharves. But given the cynicism the public justifiably feels for government these days, you can be sure the laws for spreading ashes in California are violated all the time. Not only do people not get permits from the city they spread them from or report the spreading to the EPA afterwards, but they disperse ashes from piers and wharves, from the Golden Gate Bridge, and from boats when less than 500 yards offshore.

Come to think of it, President Barack Obama is already in hot water with some environmentalists in Hawaii for the way in which he spread his grandmother's ashes in late December. You may remember that he and members of his extended family spread his grandmother's ashes from a sandy shore on Oahu. That was a no-no, for in Hawaii, the Department of Land and Natural Resources requires that ashes be spread at least three miles offshore. Given these contentious times, we're sure some idiot will say this is grounds for impeachment.


Can anyone tell me what flag Tom Perkins' 289-ft Maltese Falcon sails under? It sort of looks like Bermuda's but it's not.

John Mocnik
Los Altos

John — We'd assumed that Falcon had been flying the flag of Malta while on the Bay, but upon further investigation, discovered that was wrong. So we wrote Capt. Chris Gartner, who provided the complete explanation:

"While sailing on San Francisco Bay, we were flying the flag of the Cayman Islands. But when we added our submarine — actually an 'underwater jet' — we had to reflag her because the Cayman Islands doesn't allow them. Malta does permit submarines, so now we're flying their flag. Cool, huh?"

Cool indeed! What wasn't cool was Falcon's trip from the Panama Canal to Antigua in November. "It was the roughest trip we've had with her to date," said Gartner, "as the unstayed masts were whipping all around in the heavy seas."

While anchored in St. Barth in the second week of January, we noticed the distinctive shape of Maltese Falcon on the horizon. She's different, and took some time to get used to, but she looks pretty hot!


Kudos and glory for Latitude's lists of sailing records, West Coast circumnavigators, lonely circumnavigators and other references. Such a scholarly approach combined with Latitude's flamboyant style is a unique treat.

But there are other lists that are not so glorious. As a person who has spent four decades doing research on singlehanded sailing — my doctoral thesis was World Singlehanded Sailing 1876-1993 — I like to call attention to inaccuracies in some of the solo circumnavigator lists published on the internet.

The problem with inaccuracies in such lists started half a century ago, when French author Jean Merrien published his well-known Lonely Voyagers (Putnam, 1954). The book, written with a Gallic lightness, included different categories of 'singlehanding' circumnavigators, including: 'Almost Alone', 'Alone With A Kid', 'Alone With A Woman'(!), 'Alone With A Friend' and 'Almost Around The World', to name a few.

Lonely Voyagers spoiled all subsequent lists, as many subsequent compilers just copied Merrien's erratic and inaccurate list, not even bothering to do the simplest research, such as reading the books written by the solo — or not-so-solo — circumnavigators.

Reviewing almost all available documents about solo sailing, I discovered that such pillars of the history of solo sailing as Tom Drake, Yves Toumelin, Pierre Auboiroux, Michel Mermod, Wolf Hausner and others, never completed solo circumnavigations! And in an even more interesting case, the Slocum Society list is lacking several well-known solo circumnavigators. In fact, it appears that most of them were removed from the list after they resigned their memberships in the Slocum Society!

All right, no more lamenting from me, because 'boys don't cry'. Chapeau bas! Be positive, gentleman. So which among all internet lists of solo circumnavigators is most accurate? I nominate the one compiled by Richard Konkolski — who was a BOC finalist in '83 and '87 — which can be found at

Since I'm writing, I want to give three cheers — if not more — to the magnificent men (and women!) in their sailing machines who are now doing singlehanded circumnavigations as part of the Vendée Globe. They are truly titans of the oceans. Good luck to them!

Andrew Urbanczyk

Readers — Longtime readers will remember that Urbanczyk wrote a column for Latitude for several years. He knew what he was talking about, too, having singlehanded an Ericson 27, of all boats, from San Francisco to Japan and back. He later did a solo circumnavigation with an Ericson 30+. Wait a minute, we have to amend that, as it wasn't actually a solo circumnavigation, but rather a Solo Circumnavigation With A Cat!


I hate to spoil the opinion of your favorite correspondent, Heather Corsaro, but her comments about the weather in La Paz, as published in the January 7 'Lectronic Latitude, are a bunch of crap! According to her report, ". . . it wouldn't be so bad except that it's freezing! I swear it's going to snow or we'll wake up to see frost on the decks. We've had a bit of rain this past week and chilly winds in the 15- to 18-knot range."

I've been here in La Paz since the end of the Ha-Ha, and while the nighttime temps get down to about 60°, the days are in the mid-70s. I have worn shorts and a tank top every day since November, and it has not rained once. Heather must be living in some fantasy world.

Michael Kary
Beyond, Darwin 37
San Francisco

Michael — We're all living in a fantasy world -— Heather's is just more entertaining than most of ours. As for the weather, we assume that Heather was speaking about it figuratively rather than literally. Besides, she'd just come to La Paz from the much warmer air and water temps of the mainland. That said, it's not uncommon for people to be inaccurate about the climate. For example, the minute we received your email saying that nighttime temperatures in La Paz "get down to about 60°," the Weather Channel and other resources were reporting 48° in La Paz.

To get a more accurate picture of the weather situation in La Paz, we checked the Weather Channel's 10-day forecast. It was almost the same for all 10 days, with highs in the mid to high 70s and lows in the mid 50s to 60s. Very nice indeed. But the thing to remember about winter weather in La Paz is that it can vary greatly. As Neil Shroyer of Marina de La Paz once told us, the winter weather is very nice about half the time, and cool if not downright cold the other half. The problem is that it's 50-50 over a long period of time rather than just a matter of days or weeks. It's been Shroyer's experience that La Paz can have entire months — indeed entire winters — that are either very pleasant or quite chilly. Unlike on the mainland, there is no guarantee of warm weather.

In any event, we're glad everyone in La Paz — except maybe Heather — has been having shorts and T-shirt weather so far this season, and hope it continues throughout the winter.

Update: On January 9, Michael wrote that the first big Norther of the season was expected in La Paz and that the local net was reporting the water temperature as 70°.


I read the January 7 'Lectronic piece on the supposed cold weather in La Paz with much amusement. Our family spent 10 days in the Sea of Cortez over Christmas, and I'm happy to report that we encountered air temps in the high 70s to low 80s. Furthermore, the water was quite comfortable at what I would guess to be 75°. It wasn't a shock for us to dive in and go for a snorkel — although I'd have worn a wetsuit if I'd gone scuba diving. We kiteboarded off the south end of Isla San Jose, and afterwards I'd soap up and take a saltwater shower with no discomfort. The air temperature was probably 80°. We spent evenings in the cockpit, BBQ'd off the stern, all in very comfortable temperatures. But don't tell anyone, because the anchorages were almost empty, and we want to keep them that way.

Ken Haas
Liahona, Moorings 4200 cat
La Paz / Orinda

Ken — As explained in the previous response, we're not surprised that you got high 70s and even low 80° air temperatures around Christmas. But the 75° water is warmer than we'd have thought, and is probably a function of the fact that no big Northers had blown down the Sea yet this season. Some years, the Northers start as early as mid-November, and they cool the water down quickly.

For what it's worth, most 20/20 cruisers — meaning those who spend most of their time between 20° N and 20° S, and whose blood has thinned — think 80° water is the borderline between comfortable and too cold for swimming. Many of them wouldn't dream of swimming in 75° water, so yes, they get sissified by the tropical water temperatures.


I enjoyed Liz Clark's description of the good times she had in the Tahitian boatyard. Ah, the joys of grinding grit, cold showers and communal heads! During my 10-week liveaboard odyssey in Seattle, I also encountered homeless guys sleeping in boats, and smoking and drinking in the head. But maybe that's a Seattle specialty; those guys gotta keep out of the rain.

We've had a great time in Mexico for the last two years, but it's time to move on. Some bits of advice to cruisers-to-be: If fortunate enough to cruise in Mexico, go north in the Sea of Cortez, for places such as Bahia de Los Angeles are not to be missed. If you're choosing a boat and you're tall, make headroom a priority — unless you like dents in your noggin. If you're going to put together a medical kit in Mexico, we've posted some pointers — and the list of contents in our med kit — at

We're bound for the Galapagos and the Gambiers, so we'll be attending the Zihua Puddle Jump meeting in February.

Erin & Paul Moore
Romany Star, Ohlson 38


I have a brief comment on the 'Tips For The Class of '08-09' article by Raptor Dance, that appeared in September's Changes. I agree that a high-quality dinghy and reliable outboard are critical pieces of equipment for the cruiser, and I agree that it's fun to go fast and cover long distances quickly. But cruisers who anticipate traveling beyond Mexico might want to know that the most popular and sought after outboard motor in the South Pacific is the two-stroke Yamaha 2-hp. The Mercury 3.3-hp comes in second, but only with those who can't find a Yamaha. The reasons for the popularity of the little Yamaha are reliability, low cost and the limited availability of clean fuel.

Almost everyone in the Pacific — local fishermen, dive operators, village boats and long-time cruisers — use Yahamas because of their reputation for reliability. In addition, there are dealers out here, and parts and service are also available. No other brand of outboard comes close.

Fuel remains very expensive in the South Pacific. I paid $10.50/gallon in Tuvalu last June, and $12/gallon in parts of Vanuatu. And I was glad to pay it, because at least it was available. I've been in Vava'u, Tonga, for weeks on end when there was no fuel to be had. And I've been in Vanuatu when there wasn't fuel for months. In situations such as these, the owners of humble 2-hp Yamahas are in much better shape than those who own 15-hp Yamahas that burn so much more fuel. Out here in the South Pacific, fuel conservation is not optional, which is why more and more cruisers are going with hard dinghies such as the Glacier Bay. Unlike inflatables, it's easy to effectively row a hard dinghy.

Although I know that new two-stroke outboards are no longer available in the U.S., it might be worth the hassle of mail ordering one from one of the bigger chandleries in Australia — or better yet, New Zealand. Why? It's no secret that the quality of fuel in the South Pacific can be abysmal. In Tonga, for instance, gas is usually a mixture of low-grade gas, undrinkable water and fine abrasive particles. Two-strokes do a better job of gagging this down than do four-strokes. And when the witches' brew finally does clog up the works, the simple carb on the 2-hp Yamaha is easy to self-service.

By the way, wheels for dinghies are useless after Mexico, and still having them on your dinghy identifies you as being new to the South Pacific.

Nick Nicolle
Rise & Shine
Majuro, Marshall Islands

Nick — Thank you for the insight, as we can't recall anyone's raising that significant issue before.

However, we do have to correct you on the availability of two-strokes in the United States. You can buy Yamaha two-stroke outboards in many states — such as Nevada and Arizona — but not in California. However, you cannot call a dealer in Nevada or Reno and have him ship one to you, as it's illegal. You have to buy one out of state and 'smuggle' it into California. And yes, people do it — although not quickly, as it's hard to find these outboards in stock in Nevada and Arizona. Furthermore, Yamaha has a limited quota of two-strokes they are allowed to bring into the States each year.

The bad news is that Yamaha no longer makes small two-strokes. The smallest they now offer are the 8, 9.9, 15, and 25-hp. When it comes to four-strokes, which are admittedly heavier and more complex to repair, Yamaha offers a 2.5, 4, 6, 9.9 and 15. However, four-strokes are quieter and about 30% more fuel-efficient.

The bottom line is that, if you've got a Yamaha two-stroke 2-hp, you've got a desirable commodity that is no longer being made.


I smiled with pride when I saw the photo of the beautiful Mariholm IFB on the cover of January issue of Latitude 38. I noted that this IFB is an older model from the late '60s or very early '70s.

These boats were built in Sweden from a design submitted by Tord Sundén, an amateur designer who had been the chairman of the committee that designed the original Folkboat in the '30s. The IFB was a most successful design, as approximately 8,000 of these lovely boats were built and sailed all over Europe. Many of them also ended up on San Francisco Bay and the Chesapeake Bay.

The brochure from 1974 showed two adults, two children, a golden retriever, and what looks like a mother-in-law, all on the boat making dinner. The father and mother were dressed like they'd just finished a race on their beloved IFB.

I note that the skipper of the IFB on the cover of Latitude has set his boat up for serious cruising, with what looks like a masthead light and self-steering. The crew is dry under the dodger.

I waited for 10 months to get my IFB delivered to Oakland in '75, and I have been sailing her ever since taking delivery. I'd tried to find a used one, but no one would sell me theirs, so I was forced to pay $16,000 — a lot of money back then — for a loaded IFB with a Volvo diesel. I have gradually upgraded my boat, and when I became too old to interest young crew, set her up for singlehanded sailing with a furling jib and Dutchman system for the main. They make sailing easy.

Leonard Brant
Michelle, Mariholm International Folkboat
San Francisco

Leonard — We're delighted that the cover brought a smile to your face. Since you've been an IFB sailor for so long, perhaps you remember the name of the minister from the Peninsula who singlehanded his IFB from San Francisco to New Zealand about 20 years ago. That was quite an achievement for the skipper and speaks highly of the design.

We also want to salute you for being one of the few sailors who has owned the same boat for more than 30 years. Is there anybody else out there in the 'Over 30 Boat Club'?


I'm writing in response to the January letter by Jon Christensen and Stu Seymour, who wondered about the possibility of their helping pay to deliver a boat from the West Coast to the East Coast in return for getting to enjoy cruising her along the way. I'm also writing in response to Latitude's editorial comment, which basically was that if the guys were experienced enough, they could probably do a delivery and enjoy the boat, and perhaps not have to contribute much money at all.

In '03, we did something like what Jon and Stu would like to do. We successfully 'borrowed' a 65-ft wooden trawler based in San Francisco for a 10-month cruise to Mexico. The 'we' were two families — four adults and three kids aged 8-10 at the time.

We were experienced sailors who wanted to take a year off and do the Sea of Cortez, and had been looking to buy a boat for such a trip. To briefly recap, we met an older couple with a great boat, became friends and earned their trust and respect. After six months of sweat equity from our working on the boat, a big yard bill paid by the owners, a variety of gear and safety upgrades paid by us, a legal agreement signed by all parties, and a large deposit left by us to deliver the boat back to San Francisco if we bailed out somewhere down south, we were on our way.

So yes, it can work, but there are a whole bunch of details that need to be worked out. I have always believed that there are lots of unselfish boatowners who would like to see their boats used for what they intended when they bought them, but for whatever reason didn't get around to it themselves. Just walk down the docks in any marina. The trick is to create a win-win situation, where both parties get something they want.

Another interesting aspect of our trip was the social experiment of two families living on one boat for an extended period of time. I often told people I had two wives, one husband, and three kids. Folks just didn't know what to think — although they were often jealous.

By the way, one of the owner's biggest fears was that we would abandon their boat south of the border, and they would have to deal with getting it back to San Francisco. As it turned out, they so enjoyed having their boat in Mexico that they kept it down there at the end of our travels. She's still down there today. Despite a generational difference in age, we have remained great friends. In fact, we've even become partners in a beautiful property at San Ignacio, Baja.

Pat Conroy
Moss Beach

Pat – We've seen all kinds of variations of what you describe. Walter Flesch, a Dutch captain who does some delivery work for us in the Caribbean, tells us he has different rates for his transatlantic deliveries. "If they want the boat across the ocean quickly, I charge one rate," he says. "But if they let me take my time and enjoy the trip, I charge them a lower rate."

You may remember there was a letter in the January issue by Jorge Ventura who, having delivered a number of hybrid cats over the years, said all the problems had been worked out, and now was the time to support that technology. Perhaps not. The above-mentioned Flesch's latest delivery across the Atlantic was a Lagoon 42 that started out as a hybrid but had been repowered with traditional diesels. It's Walter's understanding that almost all of the Lagoon hybrid cats have been repowered — at enormous expense — with traditional diesels.


My wife and I are in the process of looking for another boat. For six years we've lived and sailed on a '75 Ericson 29 that we outfitted ourselves. We spent two years based out of a marina in San Diego, and four on the hook. One of those years on the hook was in Southern California; the other three were in Mexico. We loved it and are looking forward to getting back to it.

Having sold the Ericson, we are looking for a permanent liveaboard boat. The Ericson had a good turn of speed, was all right at sea, and took a breeze standing up — well, mostly standing up. But we always thought she rolled like an empty beer can at anchor, and she was a lesson in compact living.

Anyway, here are the basics of what we're looking for: a comfortable 30- to 32-footer with a diesel engine, as much tankage as possible, furling and reefing from the cockpit, a propane stove with oven, reasonable comfort, low maintenance, and capable of open ocean sailing. Currently we are looking at both a Gulf 32 and Westsail 32, both of which are cutter rigged. We think we prefer the Gulf 32, as the Westsail seems as though it would feel like living in a cave. Both are heavy, sea-capable boats — the Westsail probably more so, as she doesn't have big windows/ports. Speed? Our Ericson could be pretty quick, but we averaged about four knots over six years, and only put 800 hours on an Atomic 4 gas engine in six years. I don't know if that's good or bad, just that we did it and that we preferred sailing to motoring.

What other boats come to your mind that are under $60,000? We want to sail the East Coast of the U.S. this time, as we've seen about all there is of the West Coast and Mexico. Besides, it seems as though the East Coast is maybe a little more boat-friendly. It also has access to the entire Caribbean, the Caribbean coast of Mexico, Central America, and maybe, just maybe, Europe.

So what do you think, the Gulf, the Westsail, something else — or just stay home and take up knitting?

Craig & Celeste Adamson
Phoenix, Arizona

Craig and Celeste — Given that the world is so full of interesting people and places, you know our answer to your last question. By the way, LaDonna Bubak, our Sightings editor, wants you to know that it's not only possible to cruise and knit at the same time, it's also a heck of a lot of fun.

People asking us what boat they should buy is a lot like their asking us which person they should marry. It's all about personal preferences and chemistry. In the case of the Gulf 32 and the Westsail 32, we think you've evaluated them pretty well. The Gulf is going to be less like living in a cave, while the Westsail might be a little more reassuring in very rough conditions. A number of Westsails have done circumnavigations, but we also know of at least two Gulf 32s that have travelled more than halfway around the world.

As for other boats in the under-$60,000 price range, there are an untold number, and it's certainly a buyer's market, so you can expect to get much more in that price range than you could a year or two ago. Given that situation, and the fact that you are planning to do the Caribbean and maybe Europe, we suggest that you look at slightly larger boats that would still be easy to doublehand. The larger length would tend to mean more comfort on the hook and in rough conditions, as well as more speed under sail.

Happy boat hunting!


Your item in the January 7 'Lectronic about the surprise cruisers get when they discover that New Zealand isn't tropical nearly made me choke on my morning cuppa. So true! And Auckland is at the northern end of the country. Anyone who bothers to venture farther south — to Tauranga, Wellington, the Abel Tasman, the Marlborough Sound, and some of the other spectacular destinations here — is in for a real shock.

I always roll my eyes when someone from home seems surprised to learn that Christchurch may as well be Oregon for its latitude — but is worse for the crazy maritime climate. I remind them that a thousand-odd of miles of Southern Ocean is all that separates us from Antarctica. Brr!

Sutter Schumacher
Christchurch, New Zealand


I'm about to make my first sail to Mexico — singlehanded — but can't find any information out about how far out the north/south shipping lanes are. I searched for an answer in previous Latitudes, but every mention of shipping lanes suggested that everybody knows where they are. This same specific question has been asked on Wikipedia, but has not been answered yet.

If I'm not mistaken, the shipping lanes have been moved farther out in order to protect the whales, but I'm unable to find how far out they've been moved. I'm tempted to sail in the most consistent wind, which I figure would be about 50 miles offshore, but fear that would put me directly in harm's way with regard to ships.

I'm a shoestring cruiser with a lifelong dream and little else — no radar, no SSB, no self-steering, and a sounding lead for depth. I do, however, have a VHF. But I'm not whining, as my boat is very seaworthy and has many sails. In fact, I feel like the luckiest man in the world to be able to do this. My boat is blessed with twin running sails, which eliminates the need to steer or for self-steering — as long as the wind is from the stern. When I sailed down the California coast in October from Santa Cruz, I had 25-30 knots of wind. But thanks to the twins, it was a breeze, as I didn't have to touch the tiller for three days, and then only because the wind died behind the Channel Islands. I'm hoping for a similar experience going down the coast of Baja.

By the way, I'm a big fan of Latitude 38 and have been an avid reader for years.

Tony Smario
Two Harbors, Catalina

Tony — The term 'shipping lanes' can be misleading. In some places, namely approaches to big ports such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Long Beach, and in places where there is somewhat limited water, such as the Santa Barbara Channel, there are actually defined lanes. You can find these on your charts.

To our knowledge, there are no 'lanes' that have been established to protect whales from ships, but ships do have to stay a certain distance off the coast of California — it's not that far — in case there is an oil spill.

The term 'shipping lane' also loosely refers to routes commonly taken by a large number of ships. For example, all the ships heading from the Panama Canal to ports on the west coast of Mexico, the United States and Canada pretty much follow the same route, which is pretty much hugging the coast the entire way because it's the shortest route. That's why the Ha-Ha fleet crosses paths with so many ships each year. However, you'd be wrong to assume that ships always take the shortest route between two ports. For example, ships making runs between Japan and the U.S. often vary their routes tremendously, particularly in winter, because of weather concerns.

The bottom line is that ships can and do go anywhere they want, except for a few well-defined areas, where they have to follow certain rules. But the farther offshore you go, the less likely you are to encounter ships. Most offshore sailors breathe a sigh of relief once they get 50 to 100 miles offshore. If you do find some spare cash, you might want to equip yourself with an AIS B system, so you can set the alarm to indicate the approach of any large ships. If you have radar, you can set the alarm for that also, although it's not as effective in rain and sloppy seas.

Don't have a SSB, radar or self-steering, and you'll be using a lead line for a depthsounder? Don't worry about it, as you — particularly with your attitude — can do just fine with all that stuff. We twice had a stock Olson 30 in Mexico and had a blast with her . . . at least until we blew out a disc as a result of being scrunched over from the lack of headroom.

Thanks for the kind words — and don't forget to send a report on your trip.


Per the discussion surrounding "Cruisers' Remorse," let me give a hearty second to Latitude's suggestion that people keep their boats simple so the maintenance and repairs don't become overwhelming. In my 30+ years of cruising, I've come to the conclusion that the Number One factor in people's giving up cruising — other than those who have to leave because of illness, family, or finances — is the constant work, expense and hassle involved with fixing their boat.

The funny thing is, the newer the boat, the worse the problems seem to be — probably because systems have gotten so much more complicated. Even if something is under warranty, it often leads to long delays and huge hassles while parts are secured or repairs are made by supposed professionals. In fact, in many cases, the repair job is botched, leading to further issues.

To enjoy cruising, you really have to be able to fix almost anything yourself and/or oversee the work that is being performed. In fact, you somehow either need to enjoy it or at least don't let it get you down. It really is true that cruising is simply taking care of a series of repair jobs in exotic ports around the world.

John J. Kettlewell
Minke, Finnsailer 38
Saratoga Springs, NY

John — Maintenance and repairs certainly are a fact of life when cruising, and for those without a basic knowledge of electrical systems, engines, and plumbing — and we include ourselves among them — they are an even bigger fact of life. For folks like us, less stuff can indeed be more fun.

As for repair problems with new boats, there is just no telling. We know of people who have circumnavigated with complicated boats considered to be second-tier quality — and they had almost no problems. On the other hand, we know people who have bought the best of the best brand boats, and it took the better part of a year to get them completely sorted out.


Like all of us, I was excited to see Maltese Falcon sailing on the Bay this fall — although I wasn't impressed by what I found to be her ultra-unattractive instrument holder on the bow. However, I do think it's time for the talk about her rig's being revolutionary to be exposed as false. For when I read page 73 of the February 1980 issue of Latitude 38, I see where Perkins surely got the idea for his boat. Yet I've never seen any credit given to Latitude for the development of the rig.

By the way, it was great looking back through that nearly 30-year-old issue. I'd saved it in an old box because of the article about the "interesting adventure" on Bill Clute's Peterson 41 High Noon during the 1980 SORC. But I was struck by something else, too — the ad for Pineapple Sails being on page 3, the same place it is today. In addition, City Yachts had their full page ad — actually, 1.5 pages, just like today.

Anyway, hopefully Tom Perkins sent you a thank you card this holiday season, and perhaps Pineapple Sails and City Yachts got something special in their stockings.

Chris Boome
Geezer, Laser
San Carlos

Chris — It might've had something to do with the fact that it ran 28 years ago, but we'd totally forgotten the piece we'd run about the proposed 526-ft Dynaship, which was a cargo ship to be powered by the sails on six rotating wing masts — exactly as on Perkins' Maltese Falcon. We also we reported that William Warner of Palo Alto was the president of Dynaship, which had purchased the patent rights from a German-owned company. An interesting feature of the proposed design was that it was to have 16-ft daggerboards at the bow and stern. The proposed ship was never built.

When Perkins began to think about buying the already built 289-ft hull that was to become Maltese Falcon, it was the Amsterdam-based naval architect Gerry Dijkstra who proposed the idea of fitting Falcon with a Dyna-Rig. The scientist in Perkins was intrigued enough to acquire the rights to the Dyna-Rig technology, then spend $10 million over a period of about two years to see if the theoretical rig would work in practice. It wasn't until they got a very small version of a Dyna-Rigged boat to sail in the canals of Amsterdam that Perkins committed the real money necessary to build the boat.

While the Dyna-Rig technology had been developed in the '70s, it had never been perfected or employed on a yacht or ship. Maltese Falcon was the first. Perkins says it hadn't been technologically possible until the development of carbon fiber for the masts — the original idea of building them in steel wouldn't have worked because they couldn't have taken the repeated stress.

Is the world now ready for ships powered by Dyna-Rigs? Perkins says they still don't make economic sense on commercial vessels.

For those who weren't around 28 years ago, the SORC stood for the Southern Ocean Racing Conference, which was held in the waters off Florida and the Bahamas each winter. Back then it, along with the Admiral's Cup in England, was the premiere offshore racing series in the world. We bumped into High Noon's owner Bill Clute in a Tiburon sushi bar a few months ago, and were glad to see he was doing well. Two winters before, we'd bumped into Donny Anderson, Clute's old captain, who was running Jimmy Buffett's motoryacht Continental Drifter in the Caribbean and the Northeast.

As for Pineapple Sails, they are the only advertiser who has run the same size ad in the same place for the entire history of Latitude. We thank them immensely.


I'm writing in regard to the letter by Bob Young in the December Latitude. As a dyed-in-the-wool Horstman trimaran nutcase — I've owned three of the beasts so far — I always have my 'Tri Star radar' on.

Since '82, I've scoured the West Coast looking for my 'next one', and clearly recall the trimaran building frenzy in Milpitas-Alviso nearly 30 years ago. There were trimarans all over the place, including some sitting bow down in the mud and marshgrass, with cobbled-together gangplanks extending out to them from the banks.

I don't recall seeing the tri Young describes in Alviso, but there was a 60-ft or so tri at the docks in Sausalito in the '80s named My Way. She was distinctive for her series of rectangular windows in the amas — six in a row, as I recall. She appeared to have been very nicely done, but I have no idea of her history or where she went.

Is Young sure he is talking about a 60? There was a 48-footer in Nanaimo, Canada, for sale about 10 years ago.

As for myself, I started with a 30, moved up to a 41, and now sail a 39-footer, the former Puffin now named Crossroads. Love those Horstmans!

Thom Wessels
Crossroads, Horstman 39 Tri Star
Long Beach


I wanna get my buns in print, so here's a full size photo of me mending my Speedo, and another photo of me wearing the finished result.

Even though I'm a norteamericano, I have hot Sicilian blood gushing through my veins, and like my European brethren, love Speedos. When wearing one, you can almost feel naked all the time — even at dinner parties with friends.

You know what else I'd like? To get a date with Liz Clark. Can you help?

If anyone is interested, I own Little Bird, my beloved Hobie 21 beach cat with wings that I sail off Capitola Beach. I think my cat is one of the fastest and scariest rides on Monterey Bay. I can usually keep the mast up, although I have capsized twice. Once I flipped her with my buddy Pete in the kelp beds next to the wharf, and then another time during a desperate yet blissful singlehanded reach somewhere near the cement ship. The first time I was rescued by the Capitola Pier harbormaster, the second time by the Santa Cruz Harbor Patrol. Bless their hearts, for without them, I'd have had a shortened stick upon impact with the shorebreak.

But if anyone is interested in foolin' around on Little Bird with me next summer, they know where to find me.

Vince Pastore
Little Bird, Hobie 21

Vince — Sorry, but we don't arrange dates. Besides, if you'd kept up your reading, you'd know that Speedos are one of the few things that really gross Liz out. She finds them disgusting. Speedos, of course, are ubiquitous in Europe, even among the cool. If the French see you wearing a pair of California baggies when not surfing, they think you're an idiot. They wonder why you don't just wear a pair of jeans in the ocean, something that has inexplicably been popular with locals in Mexico.

For the record, Speedos — aka 'budgie smugglers' and 'banana slings' — originated on Bondi Beach, Australia, in 1928. The appeal has always been that they dry quickly when you get out of the water — and that they can double as underwear.

Liz is entitled to her opinion on the aesthetics of Speedos, but we believe they are wonderfully functional cruising attire for men who frankly don't give a dang what others think of their comfort wear. If you have to bring a dinghy through the surf, you strip down to your Speedo, keeping your shorts in a dry place. Once you've made it through the surf and your Speedo has dried off, you put your shorts back on. Speedos — albeit only the black ones — were once so common with cruisers in Mexico that they were dubbed 'Baja Tuxedos'.

While the Speedo won't get you very far with most modern women, Vince, the picture of you at the sewing machine is almost certain to make most women weak in the knees. According to surveys in women's magazines, the only thing more certain to turn women on than Brad Pitt in the buff is a guy — and almost any guy will do — washing dishes. Freud could never figure out what it is that women really wanted, but it's simple — help with domestic chores.


The Grand Poobah and Baja Ha-Ha staff have an obvious love for that event, and the folks on our boat want to say we had a fine time — even though we missed the Downwind Marine and West Marine Ha-Ha parties just before the start of the event, and the Ha-Ha party at Bahia Santa Maria. The latter was because we had to start a day early to take our crew to Cabo because of a family emergency. But we loved the closing ceremony in Cabo — very well done. It left us with a fine feeling for the event.

Bill Houlihan
Sun Baby, Lagoon 41
San Diego

Bill — Thanks for the kind words. We received many letters of appreciation for last year's Ha-Ha, but just don't have the space to run them all. But what a great group of sailors.

Yes, we love the Ha-Ha, and are already looking forward to the Sweet Sixteen version that will leave from San Diego on October 26. By the way, in response to popular demand, we've scheduled a full moon for November 2, right in the middle of the Ha-Ha.


I just came across the Latitude website, and I have to say — what a find! As I'm from Australia, we don't get a lot of information about cruising in the Sea of Cortez. My family and I wish to enter the '09 Baja Ha-Ha, but we need to know the best place to find a good secondhand boat in the 40- to 48-ft range. The West Coast, East Coast or Mexico, it makes no difference to us where we buy her. We plan to visit La Paz and Puerto Vallarta in March of this year to start our search.

Warren Neate
Down Under

Warren — If you want to do the Ha-Ha, there are legions of suitable boats in your size range from the Pacific Northwest to Mexico. You're sure to find what you want, and at a good price, too. By the way, if you're into Ha-Ha type fun, make sure you and your family get on a boat in the Banderas Bay Regatta, which is a terrific 'nothing serious' event for cruisers only.

Interesting fact: For many years the average size of an entry in the Ha-Ha has been about 43 feet.


The following is my message to the State Attorney General's Office regarding the Bismarck Dinius case:

It would seem to me that a simpleton could understand that a person driving a boat at a high rate of speed in the dark while under the influence would eventually hit something. Unfortunately, in this case the person, Deputy Perdock, not only hit something, but by doing so, caused the death of an innocent woman. It seems that Perdock was lucky to be a law officer because, according to all the information I've heard about from Lake County, fellow law enforcement officials have found someone else, Bismarck Dinius, to blame for his recklessness.

Having been a California State Police Officer, I feel disgraced by the actions of the Lake County District Attorney's Office in this case. It appears to me that someone made a decision to cover for Officer Perdock, and now there is no way of backing out — without either admitting their stupidity or their flagrant disregard for the law.

To do the proper thing, the Lake County District Attorney's Office needs to drop the charges against Dinius, a man who was merely sitting at the helm of a drifting sailboat when it was hit by Perdock at high speed. Then the District Attorney's Office needs to formulate new charges — the ones that should have been filed in the first place — against Deputy Perdock, and make a formal apology to the citizens of Lake County and the boating public in general. They should also file charges against the officer(s) who drove Perdock around, which I believe is called aiding and abetting. Lastly, charges should be brought against the Lake County District Attorney's Office and all other parties involved with the handling of this case.

Robert L. Walker
Grace, Traveller 32
Grass Valley

Robert — While we agree with almost all of your letter, there is no proof that Perdock was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are, however, questions about why he wasn't tested for several hours, and some suspect that the results were falsified, but there is no hard evidence.


I just read Roger England's letter, in which he mentioned not seeing any people trafficking in the Adriatic area. We live in Vibo Valentia, Calabria, Italy, and just came up from Malta. As such, I can report that human trafficking to Malta and Lampedusa is mind-boggling. Just this month alone, Lampedusa received 1,800 assorted souls. And scores are found washed up on the beaches from Potzzalo, which is at the southern tip of Sicily, all the way to Reggio di Calabria and beyond. Human trafficking is as lucrative as drug running. Malta is now labeled as the largest recipient, per capita, of victims of human trafficking in Europe. It's overwhelming.

Nick Borg
Captain Pepper, Panda 33
Vibo Valentia, Italy

Nick — According to a four-part series by Meredith May in the San Francisco Chronicle about 18 months ago, San Francisco is also a major center of human sex trafficking:

"Once limited to infamous locales such as Bombay and Bangkok, sex trafficking is now an $8 billion international business, with San Francisco among its largest commercial centers. San Francisco's liberal attitude toward sex, the city's history of arresting prostitutes instead of pimps, and its large immigrant population have made it one of the top American cities for international sex traffickers to do business undetected, according to Donna Hughes, a national expert on sex trafficking at the University of Rhode Island."

Most victims of sex trafficking are kept "deep underground," so unless a resident of San Francisco visits an Asian massage parlor, he/she would be unlikely to encounter such a victim. Interestingly, the website , which posts consumer reviews of sex workers and sex businesses, and therefore is one of the police department's main insights into the business, indicates that there are at least 90 massage parlors in San Francisco where sex is offered for sale. Of these, 37 are licensed as legal massage parlors by the San Francisco Department of Health.

As a reminder, the whole sex trafficking topic came up when we ran some photos of cruiser Andrew Vik of the Islander 36 Geja in Croatia partying with some girls who looked like typical girls from Marin County. We think the chances that those women were victims of sex trafficking are about nil.


I was saddened to hear about the passing of Mik Beatie. I first met him at the Richmond YC back in the '80s when he owned the Express 27 Beth!, and his son Hogan, now a big time sailor, was in the junior program. Mik's wife Suzy had a long history with the club, as her dad had been a past commodore. I still remember thinking they were the coolest married couple I knew. In an age of divorce and unhappy relationships, Mik and Suzy always seemed happy.

I heard only a few of Mik's old war stories from his Windward Passage days, so most of my sailing memories of him involved sailing against or with him. Once I looked back to see Beth! go into a spectacular broach — throwing Mik right off the boat! We later learned that happened a lot. But back at the dock there were never dampened spirits, just big laughs.

Several years later, I got to sail with Mik. He was short one crew and I was the only one around with the right qualification: my name was Steve — the same as his two other crew. We had a few close calls, but nobody went swimming that day.

Years later I was sailing with Walt Logan on his Farr 40 Blue Chip. We were sailing north to the Richmond Bridge when we looked behind — and were startled to see a Larkspur Ferry coming up our transom at a high rate of speed! Then we heard the big booming laugh and saw the big smile on the face of the captain — it was Mik, taking the new ferry out on a trial run. He was one of a kind.

Steve Bates
Wind Blown Hare, Wylie Wabbit
Richmond YC


I read with interest the December letter from Heather Corsaro regarding stingray wounds and various remedies for stings and burns. I listen to National Public Radio a lot, and they have one program about health and home remedies. For burns, one listener suggested a thorough soaking in soy sauce. It struck me as very interesting, so I remembered it.

As luck would have it, about three weeks later I was making coffee in the cockpit of my boat when I accidentally hit the handle of a small pan of boiling water. As a result, some of the boiling water splashed on the top of my right hand. Remembering the NPR program, I grabbed the Kikkoman soy sauce from my galley supply, and generously applied it to the scalded skin. I then soaked a bandage with soy sauce and applied it to the burned area — as had been recommended.

In about 10 minutes the burning sensation was relieved by almost 90%. When I removed the soaking bandage the following morning, the skin on my hand was a little red, but I had no blisters and felt no pain. I don't know what's in soy sauce to do what it does, but I'm a true believer in its medicinal qualities.

I love soy sauce, but now I keep an extra large bottle onboard just in case there are any burn incidents. Unfortunately, soy sauce doesn't work on chemical burns. But I thought I'd mention it as we — no pun intended — all get burned once in a while.

Dana Vincent
Gladys Erzella, Cape Dory 25
San Diego Bay

Dana — We don't know about soy sauce's being good for burns, but we do know your letter has made us salivate for two orders of saba, two of hamachi, and two spicy tuna rolls.

As for the stingray wound on David's heel, we saw it about a month later when it looked like this. It appeared to be a prime candidate for a nasty staph infection, but he left it the way it was.


I lived aboard in Monterey for three years in the early '80s, and there was a gorgeous wooden boat in the marina called SeaRunner. She was owned by Bill Bacon, a then-elderly man who had circumnavigated with her once — if not twice. Even in his late 70s, Bacon was very popular with the attractive young ladies, for he served fine dinners aboard his beautiful boat.

SeaRunner was very sleek, like a miniature meter boat, and about 36 feet on deck but with long overhangs. She was built of spruce and had lots of yellow-gold colored brightwork. She was perhaps the prettiest boat I've ever seen, and Bacon kept her in immaculate condition.

I'm wondering if you have any photos of SeaRunner from your early issues. I tried a search, but didn't have any luck. However, I do know that she was one of two boats that were built at the same time in the '30s. The other boat is either in Santa Barbara or in Morro Bay.

I lived and sailed on Aldens, both originals and copies, with the wooden boat contingent in Monterey. Those folks were such great company. Folks like Steve Gann with his immaculate Vim, winner of her class several times in the Master Mariners Regattas. The early '80s were a good era in Monterey. I'm sure that a mooring costs an arm and a leg now, but back then you could get one for $50 a month.

I've been living in Tahoe since '89. Sometimes I buy sandwiches up here at Yellow Subs, which always has issues of Latitude. Looking through those pages makes me homesick for the good old days in Monterey. Latitude is a wonderful magazine — may she live forever!

John Harrod
Lake Tahoe

John — Thanks for the kind comments. Sorry, but we don't remember SeaRunner. That was still in the relatively early days of the magazine, so we may have missed her and the exploits of her owner. But there must be somebody out there in our readership who remembers such a boat. If you do, .

For the record, moorings at Monterey now go for $110 per month for a 30- to 40-ft boat.


You guys are killing me with the photos of St. Barth in 'Lectronic Latitude. It's the wind and the color of the water that I miss most about the Caribbean. Well, those things and the fact that people there don't act their age.

We're hoping to get down the coast of Mexico and Central America quickly to Panama, then on to the Caribbean. With some luck and continued health on the part of parents, we hope to be in St. Barth next December. Even if we don't make it that soon, we'll feel damned fortunate.

By the way, we think it's great that Latitude keeps encouraging people to go out and use their boats during these tough economic times. I understand it's good for your advertisers, but it's probably most important for the mental health of sailors.

Greg Dorland & Debbie Macrorie
Escapade, Catana 52
Lake Tahoe

Greg and Debbie — We agree that going sailing, even in the middle of the winter, is great for clearing your head and getting a better perspective on things. And since most boatowners are already paying for their boat, berth and insurance, it's not like it's going to cost them much extra to use their boats more. Besides, as one sailing doctor recently told us, boats are like sex organs — if you don't use them frequently, they stop working like they are supposed to.

As for St. Barth, we just moved aboard our boat in Gustavia last week, and love it, love it, love it. What we don't love is that the powers that be on the little island seem to have lost their minds when it comes to anchoring fees. Despite 200 fewer boats showing up for New Year's, and villa occupancy down 40% over the holidays, the local government has seen fit to jack up the rates. For example, they are now charging US$900 a month for a 45-ft cat, such as ours, to have the privilege of anchoring anywhere around the island. We love all our friends here, and we love the island, but this is something like a 70% increase this year on top of something like a 30% increase last year. It's something we can't accept on principle. Either they rescind most of the increase or we — and we suspect many others — will find somewhere else to play in the future.

On the subject of massive price increases, we're told that one of the major marinas in the British Virgins raised their berth rates 50% without any increase in services or improvements in the facilities. The result was that just about everybody, even the high-rolling owners, moved their boats out. Although the marina subsequently rescinded the price increase, the miffed owners still haven't seen fit to return. Price gouging in these very difficult times doesn't seem like a smart move.


January's Sightings had a fascinating story of Simon Winer and Claire Arbour making a very fast trip down to Bahia de Los Angeles in the Sea of Cortez with their Moore 24 Extra Action. But where did they store their truck and boat trailer?

It's also possible to get to the Sea of Cortez via Yuma, Arizona, which is only 65 miles from the Sea.

Jim Mikkelsen
San Pedro

Jim — Simon and Clair stored their truck and trailer in a nearby hotel parking lot — for a reasonable fee.

While it's only 65 miles from Yuma to the Sea, what are the cruising attractions that far north in the Sea? It's our understanding that there are few. What's more, the farther south you get in the 750-mile-long Sea, the warmer the air and water tend to be.


Several folks have pointed me in your direction for information regarding surfing destinations between San Francisco and Panama where there is good access from a cruising boat. I'd like the emphasis to be on Baja, but other data would be welcome as well.

I'd like to explore the coast from Cojo anchorage — near Government Point and The Ranch, to the west of Santa Barbara — down to Cabo on the first leg of our trip. Unfortunately, many of the cruising guides only mention surfing in passing. And the surfing publications and other surf reports focus on surf spots that can be reached by land.

My girlfriend Shawn and I would like to make our southbound trip surf-centric, and as such hope to put together a list of remote, hard-to-get-to-by-land breaks that would also be suitable for an anchored sailboat. Any suggestions?

Chris Jaquette
Tao, Nor'West 33

Chris — We've been too busy with sailing to have accumulated a list of promising surf spots easily accessible by boat, but there are plenty of them along the coast of Baja and farther down. Various surfers/sailors in the Ha-Ha were telling us they were stopping in places we'd never heard of, and that they had great waves to themselves. And even once you get to the Cape, there are a bunch of fine surf spots that are only easily accessible by boat. The cool thing about being able to anchor at a surf spot, even if it's relatively easy to access by land, is that you're always right there to know when the waves are the least crowded or when nobody is out at all.

By the way, as we wrote this response in December, countless fine waves were breaking and unridden on the north coast of Banderas Bay, and the water temperature was in the low 80s. The night before, we'd surfed until nearly an hour after sundown, and never felt the slightest chill.

If there is anyone out there who would be happy to share their cruising boat-friendly list of surf breaks with Chris and his lady, they can be reached by .


Thank you for your editorial reply to the disheartening letter from Gary Barnett and Marianne Smith, who seem to be very judgmental about there being a correct way to cruise.

I'm a new sailor and, while reading that letter, began to doubt my experiences over the past year. But somewhere after the first few paragraphs of that missive, I concluded that it had to be an April Fool's joke, and checked the publication date of the magazine. Alas, it was not a joke — at least not an April Fool's one.

Sailing was one of the items on my Bucket List that I hadn't checked off, but then my wife made the mistake of reading a billboard advertising a boat show while we were driving down I-95 near Richmond, Virginia, last year. I found the highway exit and walked into a wonderland of new boats.

I live on Lake Gaston, North Carolina, am a powerboater of long standing, and therefore am not easily impressed. But the sight of a Beneteau 34 standing tall above the hundreds of other boats took my breath away. Even my "not quite a sailor" wife was impressed with the cabin, but I thought the whole boat was the most beautiful object that I'd seen in some time.

While at the same show, I came across a booth run by Capt. Dave Wilbar, manager of the Sailtime Virginia Beach port, where I was introduced to fractional ownership and the American Sailing Association. I am now ASA101 certified and bought my first boat, a Cal 21, which is perfect for a novice such as myself on our lake.

Since that first talk with Capt. Dave, I have met many dozens of sailors, and I find that I like all of them. Well, there is one exception, but I won't go into that here. All of them have been helpful and kind, and generous with their time and their willingness to share their experiences and suggestions. In light of this, I believe that Barnett and Smith's letter is an anomaly and in no way reflects the attitude and experiences of the rest of the sailing world.

I live about two hours from Norfolk, which is the closest saltwater to me, and Latitude 38 is not available around here. But I have a sailing friend who lives in Norfolk, and he brings me copies of Latitude when he visits his weekend home on Lake Gaston. I have enjoyed many hours of sailing and conversation on Lake Gaston with Charley aboard his Catalina 22.

I plan on continuing with my sailing education, and maybe I'll someday find a way to join in the Ha-Ha.

Bill O'Neill
Cal 21
Henrico, NC

Bill — We can't remember the last time we got as much positive reaction as we did to our editorial response to the Barnett and Smith letter. The very essence of cruising is doing it whatever way you want. Big boats, small boats, full time, part time . . . whatever, whenever and wherever. If you've always had a problem with authority because you've needed to do things your way, cruising is for you.


One of the most common problems that seem to afflict boats that have just started cruising, or have just started to be sailed again for the season, is that the alternator doesn't charge the battery. The field connections on alternators seem to be especially prone to failure. There are a number of reasons for this:

1) They live in the engine compartment, which often contains saltwater, fumes, and/or hydrogen from batteries. All of which are corrosive.

2) While the alternator output connection is usually a stud with a nut and lock washer on it, the field connection is usually a Faston quick-disconnect terminal. The alternator vibrates with the engine, while the wiring harness is usually tied to the bulkhead. This often causes vibration directly at the connection — the worst possible place for it — causing an intermittent connection.

3) The field winding has inductance. (Don't worry, most engineers these days don't really understand what inductance is/does either.) This makes the impact of the vibration-related, intermittent connection much worse, as is explained below.

Inductance is present whenever wire is formed into a coil, especially if there is iron inside the coil, as in an alternator field coil. When current flows in any inductor, a magnetic field is created. This field is what makes the alternator work, so there's no way around it. But in addition, this field stores energy. If the connection is broken, the energy needs to go somewhere.

When current is changed in an inductor, this stored energy creates a voltage that opposes the change in current. The faster the current is changed, the higher this voltage. I could explain it all in differential calculus, but just trust me. This is also the reason you can blow up your alternator by switching your battery switch while it is charging. Extremely high voltage — hundreds, even thousands, of volts — can be produced, blowing out the diodes or even breaking down the insulation inside the alternator.

Back to the field winding with an intermittent connection. This voltage will appear across the connector as it disconnects, causing an arc. This can weld the connection shut, but more often just removes a chunk of metal from the connector, and deposits carbon at the interface, while also heating the connection locally. After a while, it's all over but the shouting. It's a vicious cycle of more intermittences, more arcs, a worse connection and so forth. You may have noticed the arc at the plug when you unplug your vacuum cleaner without turning it off first — it's the same thing.

To avoid these problems, I have two suggestions for my customers:

1) Replace the female field quick-disconnect on the field wire every year or two — before it fails. Then carefully examine the male connector on the alternator. If necessary, clean it with 1,000-grit sandpaper, being careful not to sand through the thin tin plating on the tab.

2) Install a loop of high-flex wire — at least 49-strand, though preferably 133- or even 361-strand — between the connector and the existing wire, and physically attach it to the engine. This way the vibration will be in the wire between the engine and the bulkhead, not right at the alternator field connection.

Actually, the best thing would be to eliminate the connector completely and solder the connection. But care must be taken not to unsolder the field connection inside the alternator, or the alternator will need to be rebuilt.

Although the connection at the alternator is the most likely to fail, the connection at the other end of the wire, the regulator's field connection, and the regulator's ground connection — which everyone seems to ignore — also see the field inductance. Although they usually see less vibration, if these connections go intermittent, they will arc too, and things get nasty fast. I suggest careful examination of them as well, and replacing these connectors every few years can do no harm.

I know this is more of an answer than you expected, but I'm an engineer. I hope everyone understands the cause of these problems, and now they'll know more than most electricians ever will.

Michael Daley
Redwood Coast Marine Electrical
Point Richmond


From time to time, you've responded to readers' requests for advice on various kinds of cruising boats. My girlfriend and I are relatively new to sailing and are looking to buy a boat, but because of other commitments, don't have any plans to sail outside the Gate anytime soon. And given the high cost of housing, we're even thinking about living aboard. All right, I'm more up for living aboard than she is, but can you give any suggestions for 'big bang for the buck' boats for the Bay and Delta?

Tony Arrcardo

Tony — It's too bad you didn't mention your ages, because that would have had some influence on our advice, but we're going to assume that you're between 22 and 32. For younger and more adventurous sailors, it's possible to go with something as small as 22 feet. However, we'd strongly recommend a proven design for the windy waters of San Francisco Bay, something like a Santana 22. Such a boat would be wet crossing The Slot and in ebb tides, so you'd want good foul weather gear, too. She'd also be very tight for overnights at Angel Island or Clipper Cove, but for young folks, it's all about the adventure, isn't it? Boats this size are too small for living aboard.

The next category would be around the 27-ft range. Back in the heyday of Southern California boatbuilding, which was in the '60s and '70s, there were many fine 27-footers built by the likes of Catalina, Cal, Ericson, Ranger, Islander, Yankee and others. Some had inboards, some didn't. Boats in this size range are big enough to handle all but the very roughest days on the Bay, and are large enough for as many as four young folks or a family to take up to the Delta for a week or two. As for living aboard, we consider this to be the minimal bachelor pad size.

The next step up would be in the 30- to 32-ft range. Once again, there were countless designs built in the '60s and '70s by Southern California and East Coast manufacturers. Generally speaking, by moving up to this size range you get more speed, size, comfort — and an inboard diesel. As far as we're concerned, this is about the minimum size in which two people could live aboard comfortably. There are people who have sailed boats in this size range for decades and have been satisfied that they didn't need anything larger for the Bay and Delta. And no matter if you're talking about a Catalina 30 or a Bristol 32, more than a few of them have been cruised to Mexico and beyond, and even raced to Hawaii.

Over 32 feet, you just get more of everything, including comfort and liveaboard space.

While newer boats are more expensive than these classics from the '60s, '70s and '80s, if you've got the money, they are worth looking into. The difference in size, usable space, comfort and features between a boat from the '60s and the '70s and those of more recent vintage is dramatic.

One caution. Many first-time boat buyers are fooled into buying fixer-uppers. Unless you can absolutely steal one to the point that you should be wearing a mask and carrying a gun, avoid them, because bringing boats back to good condition always takes way more time and money than a novice can possibly imagine. Instead, look for a boat that's been loved and maintained well. Thanks to today's economy, it's both a great time to buy a boat and a great time to liveaboard.

Since you're new to sailing, you may not know that Latitude was started aboard a 41-ft Bounty II sloop — which because of her 27-ft waterline was a lot smaller than she sounds — that served as our home, office, photoboat and recreational craft. She wasn't that roomy or luxurious, but we wouldn't have traded the experience — or the low cost — for anything.


Like many Americans, my wife Mary and I have been in a constant struggle to maintain a healthy weight and manage our cholesterol and blood pressure. Over they years we've tried all the diets, and while we did achieve short term results, nothing worked over the long term.

The last straw for me was when I saw the attached picture from Canada Day '05, when we were cruising in British Columbia. I didn't like what I saw. That started us on a sincere quest to 'clean up our act'. By last summer we'd made progress, but had only gotten halfway to our goals. Plus, my doctor wanted me to go on cholesterol medication and to up my blood pressure medication. So obviously we hadn't cleaned up enough.

Fortunately, we found two doctors in the Bay Area who have taken medically sound approaches to health and weight management: Dr. John McDougall and Dr. Dean Ornish. Both have websites with information on their programs: and These lifestyle diet changes are medically sound and scientifically based. They originated from studies of the diets of the healthiest world populations. Fundamentally, they are starch-based, low fat (less than 10% total calories from fat), no added sweetener, and vegan.

We've found that we can eat as much as we want of the whole foods on the diet, without any portion controls needed. The diet works because we're eating healthful vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and other plant-based products. We also exercise moderately when we can.

As a result of making this lifestyle change, neither of us feels deprived, which is important. But the results speak for themselves. Our weight is down. In fact, I've lost 70 pounds and Mary has lost 55 pounds. My blood pressure has gone from 180/110 to 120/70, and my total cholesterol has dropped from 260 to 150. So I'm off all blood pressure, cholesterol and other medications. We feel more energetic and alert than ever.

Diabetes has become a huge problem in the United States, and my mother's family has a long history of diabetes. But thanks to the diet, my blood sugar has dropped from 110, which is pre-diabetic, to 74, which is great.

Unlike the other diets we tried that resulted in yo-yo results, this is a lifestyle change that we've found to be easy to stick with. But since it's a lifestyle thing and not a religion, we've been known to still occasionally have a 'feast day' — such as last night when we had pizza and beer at Philo's with other cruisers.

And vegan food can taste good, too! We know this because our vegan chile continued our winning streak at the Vallarta YC and Zihua SailFest — four Chili Cookoff wins in four tries!

While not everyone will get the same results that we have, it's worked for us, and it may well be worth a try for others.

Bill Finkelstein and Mary Mack
Raptor Dance, Valiant 50
Tiburon / But mostly the Mexican Riviera



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