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March 2009

Missing the pictures? See our March 2009 eBook!


First, let me thank Latitude for running the stories and photos of my Mediterranean adventure last summer with my Islander 36 Geja. For those not familiar with the history of the boat, she was sailed all the way around the world to the Med by teachers Dick and Shirley Sandys of Palo Alto over the course of about 15 years. After Dick passed away, Shirley put the boat, which was in Spain at the time, up for sale for $10,000, as is, where is. She was snapped up by Eli and Sara Bottrell, a young couple from San Francisco, who cruised her in the Med and had a great time. But with so much going on in their lives, they decided they couldn't do a second summer, so they sold her to me, sort of passing on the torch.

Originally, I thought that I, like the Bottrells, would sail Geja in the Med for a summer, then sell her, possibly to a lucky Latitude reader, passing on the torch myself. But since returning from Croatia in late October, I've thought long and hard about doing a second summer in the Med, and have decided to do it. After all, how often does one get a chance to own an affordable, capable and well-equipped sailboat in the Med?

As I write, competent and affordable mechanics in Croatia are sprucing Geja up for the summer season. Meanwhile, Google Earth is ever present on my computer screen, as I dream up destinations in yet another great sailing adventure. Do I head south to the Ionian Greek islands or north and moor in the heart of Venice? Obscure destinations always excite me, and Montenegro, Albania and Slovenia are all within reach. Wherever I choose, I will likely loop back to the area near Split, Croatia.

During the course of last summer, I was joined by 21 different friends and acquaintances from the U.S. and Europe. Among them were Robert Aronen and his wife, who did the '06 Ha-Ha aboard his Nomad. The couple, who now live in Luxembourg, flew to Geja three times to get their sailing fix. While I expect plenty of my old crew to join me again this year, I will also come to the Latitude Crew List Party on March 11 to talk to other interested folks.

Andrew Vik
Geja, Islander 36
Croatia / San Francisco

Readers — At 36 years of age, Andrew is one of the younger boatowners cruising the Med. He's not rich, so he cruises on a budget, and while his boat isn't in bristol condition, she's capable and functional. So if you're young and looking for a sailing adventure in the Med with a skipper who's your age, you might drop by the Latitude 38 Crew List Party on March 11. It will be held at Golden Gate YC from 6 to 9 p.m., and it's still just $7 to get in ($5 if you're under 25!). You'll get the chance to meet dozens of new prospects, talk to the YRA staff, chow down on some munchies and maybe even win a door prize!


I’m writing in regard to the sailboat that washed up on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach over New Year's, the one where somebody spray-painted ‘Bad Vibes Bob!’ on the topsides.

My work buddy is a serious local surfer. He says that Bad Vibes Bob is among the most notorious and iconoclastic characters of the Ocean Beach tribe, and that he tagged the boat shortly after she washed up on the beach. Bob has a reputation for going out of his way to rip on newbies in ways that keep the locals in stitches. It seems to me that he was just practicing his calling on this poor visitor who had the sad misfortune to have his boat end up on the beach.

Chris Northcutt
San Francisco

Chris — One of things we've always found comical about San Francisco is that it can proclaim itself the City of Tolerance — while simultaneously fostering lots of folks from the mold of Bad Vibes Bob. It often seems to us that San Francisco should be more accurately known as the City of Tolerance for All Those Who Agree with Those Who Scream the Loudest.

Of course, sailors aren't always the most welcoming to newcomers either, particularly in the more crowded anchorages. Over the years we've often observed the crew of one boat giving the crew of a newly-arrived boat the stink-eye, meaning, 'Don't even think of anchoring near us'. This is not helpful to either party. We're not vying for sainthood or anything, but we regularly encourage newly-arrived boats to drop their hook five feet behind our transom, thereby both making the new arrivals feel welcome and also helping make the most efficient use of whatever room there is in the anchorage. What would Bad Vibes Bob do in our Topsiders? No doubt he'd drop his drawers, and as the new boat approached, begin to take a dump. Some anti-social cruisers do that, too.


I'm going to join a friend's friend for a trip from La Paz across the Sea of Cortez to Puerto Vallarta. I haven't sailed on this boat before, and would like to be as helpful and prepared as possible. What are some of the things that I can do ahead of time to be ready, and what safety questions should I ask before taking the trip?

Barbara H.
Portland, OR

Barbara — Assuming that you're relatively new to sailing, two of your most important responsibilities will be to travel light and know how to use the head. It might sound like we're joking, but we're serious. The last thing any boatowner wants is someone to show up with a couple of big suitcases. Since you'll be sailing downwind in the tropics, you shouldn't be bringing any more than a standard size duffel bag and relatively small backpack. Unless specifically asked, we wouldn't bring foul weather gear. As for the head, ask to be shown how to use it, pay careful attention, then follow those instructions to a 'T'. Nothing makes a guest less welcome than plugging up the head. Other than that, just be good company, eager to help preparing food, cleaning up, standing watch, and doing whatever the skipper asks you to do — within your realm of experience.

Before joining the boat, you have the right to at least a rough outline of the captain's and boat's sailing history, and their history together. Since you're a woman, if you don't know the captain well, you should ask for a couple of references from women who have sailed with him or who have known him for a long time. If the skipper finds such requests insulting, you might want to reconsider. You'll also want to know who else will be on the boat, and their sailing history.

With regard to safety gear, you're going to want to know where the liferaft and EPIRB are located, and how to operate them. Depending on how many crew there are, you might ask to be shown how to use the radios, start and stop the engine, and turn the house batteries on and off.

The trip from La Paz to Puerto Vallarta is about 400 miles, although many sailors would make the 200+ mile jump across the Sea to Mazatlan, then harbor hop down to Puerto Vallarta. It should be relatively mellow downwind sailing, at least until June. Have a great time.


I was saddened to read the January 26 ‘Lectronic article about the murder in Antigua of Aussie Drew Gollan, the skipper of the 163-ft Perini Navi Perseus. It was 30 years ago that my wife and I first visited the island of Antigua, and we were amazed that we didn’t feel threatened late at night, either on the back streets or in the rundown neighborhoods. We have since been to many of the other islands in the Caribbean, and plan to cruise the Caribbean when we retire.

Nonetheless, Antigua and Barbados hold a special place in our memories. I remember that our first visit was right after an election, and quite a few locals wore shirts that proclaimed, “There’s no stopping us now.” Sad, sad, sad.

Bill McBain
Tucson, AZ

Bill — We've spent quite a bit of time in Antigua over the years, among other things sailing our Ocean 71 Big O in six Antigua Sailing Weeks between '86 and '97. Indeed, we enjoyed some of the greatest sailing times of our lives at that island. Nonetheless, we never felt as though Antigua was the safest place in the world, in part because young males liked to put out danger vibes when people walked the gauntlet between English and Falmouth Harbors after dark, and because there was rarely any police presence. Neither we nor any of our crew — which totalled more than 100 over the years — ever had any incidents, but we attribute that to the fact that we took precautions. For instance, we tried to always travel in groups at night, the women were always escorted, we never closed up bars or nightclubs, and we kept our radar on for situations that could go south. It didn't mean we didn't have wild times, just that we never let our guard down completely.

To put things into perspective, the country of Antigua and Barbuda has about 14 murders per year, which represents about one per every 7,000 residents. This is slightly higher than the one per every 7,500 residents of San Francisco, but way lower than the one per 2,814 residents of Oakland, and the even more dangerous St. Kitts and Nevis, where it’s one per 2,647 residents. The overwhelming number of perpetrators and victims of murders in all four places are young men, mostly of African decent, battling for drug turf and profits. If you look at maps of where the murders occur in Oakland and San Francisco, you'll see huge areas of both cities — the more affluent areas — that are murder free. This is generally true of the Caribbean islands also.

We say "generally true" because Antigua and Barbuda has a history of yachties — and other tourists — being the victims of violent crimes on what might be considered their own turf. In fact, the January 22 murder of Drew Gollan was the sixth killing of a yachtie in a yachtie area in the last 14 years. This is a tremendous number given how small the yachting community and yachting turf are. In addition to the murders, there have also been muggings and assaults.

In regard to the murders, the most horrific of these occurred in '94, when the four crew — including two from the Bay Area — of the 70-ft Computer Challenger were killed by either being shot or skinned alive(!) while anchored off a remote beach at Barbuda. The main salon crime scene was so grisly that it ultimately cost $300,000 to have the boat cleaned. Then several years ago, a young Antiguan, jealous that a yachtie girl he'd dumped had taken up with another man, beat her to death with a hammer, then set fire to the hotel she was staying in. This was on Christmas morning.

Police have arrested 21-year-old Sylvester Lindsey of Antigua and charged him with the murder of Gollan. When taken from the courtroom in shackles, Lindsey was anything but contrite, mugging for the photographers. Only time will tell if there are any lasting negative effects for the island. A number of megayacht captains threatened to leave the island in protest, but it's our understanding that only two of them actually did. At last word, the Antiguan government's response has been to close down all the bars and clubs at midnight. We're not sure this addresses the problem. If the island doesn't want to lose its very valuable megayacht franchise — or the Classic Sailing Regatta and Antigua Sailing Week franchises — it's vital that the authorities make yachties and visitors feel safe. We think they could start by stationing police every 150 or so feet between Falmouth and English Harbors in the evenings during major events. After all, what good are the police sitting in their station? Yachties report that it took police 20 minutes to get to the Gollan murder scene even though it happened less than 200 yards from a police station.

As if yachting in Antigua needed another black eye, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has just accused American Sir Allen Stanford of "massive ongoing fraud." The billionaire is — or was — the main sponsor of Stanford Antigua Sailing Week.


In the February issue, you wrote about Philo Hayward’s mother being treated by a doctor in the mountains of Mexico for about four hours, followed by a ride in an ambulance with a doctor and nurse to Puerto Vallarta, all of which cost a total of $50. You wondered what something like that might cost in the United States. There’s no need to wonder, for accompanying this letter I’ve included a breakdown of why a five minute ambulance ride in San Francisco costs $1,339.

If If those who are uninsured find themselves in the same position and hope to avoid bankruptcy, they should offer to pay a taxi driver $2 a second, which would have saved them over half of the cost of an ambulance.

Name Withheld By Request
San Francisco

N.W.B.R. — As most cruisers will tell you, the only place you have to worry about the cost of health care is in the United States. Here are a couple more examples of health care's being less expensive elsewhere:

In January, Doña de Mallorca had to go to the hospital in St. Barth — a candidate for the most expensive place in the world — for treatment of a painful ear infection. The charge was about 25 euros or $33 U.S. When our friend Bridger fell off a ladder at work, requiring a total of 14 stitches in his head and arm, plus an X-ray, the total charge from the same hospital came to 50 euros or about $65 U.S. There is no way either would have been treated for those prices at a U.S. facility.

We don’t claim to know exactly who is to blame for the ridiculous cost of health care in the United States, but we do know one reason why it’s so expensive in San Francisco. According to data provided by the San Francisco Chronicle, one Special Nurse employed by the City of San Francisco was paid $332,601 last year. This was based on regular pay of $132,740, plus $182,890 in overtime, plus $16,972 in "other pay." Over $15,000 per month every month of the year in overtime — that's pretty good. When you figure the nurse will probably be paid a high fraction of that $322,601 as a pension after 20 or so years of work, it's no wonder that health care is so expensive.


It's not that unusual to buy a boat that’s not too small, not too large, but juuuust right! We took delivery of Antares, our then-new Islander 30 MkII, on Labor Day in '71 — close to 38 years ago. We actively raced her in the Islander 30 MKII YRA one design class which, if memory serves me, lasted 13 years. After the class died, we competed in HDA for several years. We have been regulars in the MYCO/Berkeley Midwinters since she was new.

While we eventually sold the house to move aboard a trawler, we’ve never considered selling Antares. We still race her a little, but she now spends all summer at Steamboat Slough. We have more room now that our kids are grown and gone, but now we have fun spoiling grandchildren. 

Larry Telford
Antares, Islander 30 MkII
Carpe Diem, Royal Star 42 Trawler
Emery Cove, Emeryville


I'm a proud member of the 'Over 30 Club', having purchased my Gulfstar 37 Summer Breeze new at the boat show in Alameda in '78. She still looks like new.

While at the show, in fact the same day I purchased my boat, I picked up a thin sailing sheet. It was your first issue of Latitude. I used it for all my notes at the Boat Show, and still have it in the drawer of my nav station. Thanks for the 31+ years.

Dave Biron
Summer Breeze, Gulfstar 37
Big Break Marina, The Delta

Dave — If you've owned your boat as long as we've been doing Latitude, that's a looong time. But we're a little confused, as the first issue of Latitude was in March of '77, not March of '78. It fact, this issue marks our 32nd year. Funny, we don't feel a day older than 32 ourselves.


In your reply to Leonard Brant, you wondered if there were any others who have owned the same boat for over 30 years. I'm sure you will have a lot of replies, as I think there are several in my marina alone.

For the record, I have owned my Cheoy Lee Offshore 50 for 36 years. Furthermore, I can look you in the eye and truthfully say that in all that time I have never lusted for another man's boat.

Ernie Copp
Orient Star, Cheoy Lee Offshore 50
Alamitos Bay Marina, Long Beach


While I bet that you'll get many reports from members of the 'Over 30 Club' — meaning folks who have owned the same boat for more than 30 years — I nevertheless want to introduce your readers to Ad Lib. She's an International 110 (#430), and was built in '47, which was 62 years ago. I've owned her since 1970, when my father and I started sailing her out of the San Diego YC. After my father passed away in '90, I brought her to Sacramento and had her restored by wooden boat guru Bob Sheffield, who, sad to say, is now retired. Once restored, I began sailing her on Tomales Bay with International 110 fleet #55.

As you can imagine, that 110 holds a lot of memories: my first race with my dad; going up against the 'big boys' from San Francisco when they visited San Diego for the 1970 Districts; and the Nationals on the Bay in '71, when our 110 executed a profoundly accurate impersonation of a submarine and suffered the ignominious fate of being towed home, backwards and decks awash, by Jay Vincent. There was also sailing her one last time in San Diego after my dad’s death, before hauling her home in disrepair to begin a new life and make more memories.

As you can see from the accompanying photograph, the old girl looks pretty sprightly at the tender age of 62, and like her owner, still loves the conditions on Tomales Bay. I've twice taken her across the country, to sail in the Nationals in Hull, Massachusetts — in '94, and in Chicago in '03. But Inverness is where she is at home, and in a breeze she hauls ass. The latter is in large part due to John Burton, the gentleman on the wire in the photo. John had his own 110 in San Diego in 1970, and sailed with his dad against my dad and me. We’ve been friends ever since, and eventually stopped sailing against each other in favor of taking turns crewing for each another. First, I crewed on his J/24 in the early '80s, and since '93 he has handled the crewing duties for me. By both quantitative and qualitative measures, I’ve gotten the better end of this bargain.

I’m incredibly lucky to get to race this great old boat with one of my best friends as a part of a wonderful group of folks that get to sail in a little slice of paradise in western Marin. How great is that?!

Chris Waddell
Ad Lib, International 110 #430
Tomales Bay

Chris — Your bringing up the 110 class reminds us of Les Harlander, one of the grand old members of the Richmond YC. If memory serves us, Les told us that the most foolish thing he and his brother did in their youth was to sail a 110 from San Francisco to Santa Cruz in a big breeze. Any interest in doing something like that?


We just got our new issue of Latitude here in south Maui, and were soon sitting on the beach reading it. When we came across the “You Know You’re a Cruiser When . . .” letter by Joe Boyle. It cracked us up. Since Latitude asked if any readers wanted to add to the list, we came up with the following without having to try particularly hard:

You know you’re a cruiser when:

• Your idea of a party is more than one boat in an anchorage;

• Wearing socks constitutes being dressed up;

• Ketchup qualifies as a vegetable serving in your meal;

• Safeway seems like a fairyland, and Costco seems like the freaking Taj Mahal;

• You start thinking of money in terms of numbers of drinks, fish tacos and 'boat bucks';

• When pulled back aboard and opened, beer that had been dragged behind the boat tastes reasonably cold.

Mark & Sandi Joiner
Wailea, Maui


This Louis Vuitton Pacific Series — February's match racing sailed in Auckland Harbor by America's Cup teams rotating through two pairs of Version 5 IACC boats provided Team New Zealand and BMW Oracle Racing — is all very well in that it's good for the sport of sailing, good in keeping the professionals up to speed, and good for New Zealand. However, it can never replace the America’s Cup in being a development-driven series, while, of course, being a sailing race in the end. I say bring back the America's Cup, and require boats, equipment and designs to come from the country they represent. And mostly make it a duel among nations, not companies.

Mike Stevens
Annapolis, Maryland

Mike — We have to agree that there's no substitute for the pursuit of the America's Cup as the pinnacle of inshore sailboat racing. And we also agree that it would be good to get it going again — soon! The Cup has long been the primary driver of technological development for many sides of the sport, and we think it's safe to say that development is fundamental to contesting the trophy. But in the end, it's about who beats whom on the water, not where a team's gear was manufactured or its designer born. Keep in mind that boats and appendages have been required to be built in the country the team is representing even through AC 32.

The four teams that made the challenger semifinals in Valencia were the four best-funded challengers. Each of those carried corporate signage — in fact, just about every team did. At the same time, they all bore some indicator of national identity from the countries they were representing even if it was just the country code in their sail numbers. And as much of a catalyst as national pride can be for interest in the Cup and its impact on sailing in general, even more important is having multiple challengers from multiple countries — especially traditionally non-sailing countries. If you were to require every team to produce its own gear and its own designers, you'd only be making it harder for smaller teams to even think about challenging. Would any non-American team be interested in spending the millions of dollars and 20 years involved in developing and building eight winches on a par with those used by all but one team in Valencia? Probably not, but if their pockets were deep enough, they could probably pull it off, although probably not without violating a very viable American business's intellectual property rights. Would the team from China — which despite having something like five Olympic medals in boardsailing going back to 1992, still has only 1,000 active sailors out of a population of over 1.3 billion people — have any incentive to field a challenge if it couldn't rely on outside expertise? Would South Africa's Shosholoza syndicate — headed by an Italian with a boat designed by an Irishman — have ever had the chance to produce the national pride and international awareness it did as the top one-boat campaign in 2007?

Even the Cup's big-money players are relying on sponsors to some extent, or furthering their business goals by competing. We count only two people on the Forbes 400 list directly involved in funding America's Cup teams. If only a half-percent of the world's richest men and women — who are most capable of funding a team — are interested, then who else will be? The Forbes 401-800, or 801-1200? Bear in mind also that BMW Oracle Racing's America's Cup team doesn't go by the moniker, "Larry Ellison Racing," or "Sayonara Racing." Apparently even Ellison — who never seems to miss a chance to make his disposable income very conspicuous: i.e. building a megayacht too large to access his favorite harbors — doesn't feel like he can afford to not use the team as a vehicle to promote brand equity in his company.

Yet the world just doesn't have money flowing around like it did during the last few Cup cycles, and sponsorship dollars are retrenching in a lot of bigger-money technology-driven sports like Formula 1, which has a far greater reach than the Cup or even sailboat racing as a whole. The political intrigue, design work, and organizational issues that shape the path to that end are significant only insomuch as they contribute to winning one match between two boats — all of which has to be be paid for, one way or another.


We’re down in Mexico to relaunch our Hans Christian 38 Sugata for our second season in Mexico. We'd budgeted about $2,000 a month during our first season, from October of '07 to June of '08, for two adults and one child. In reality, we spent closer to $1,500/month.

However, since I was able to pick up a little computer work from my previous employer — which I was able to do in towns with internet cafes — the net cost, to my great relief, was zero. We returned to California with as much money as we left with.

There were months when we spent well over $2,000/month, and those were when we were in towns and staying in marinas. On the other hand, there were months when we spent well under $1,000. When you're anchored at wonderful places such as San Juanico, Agua Verde, Tenacatita, Caleta Partida and Altata, there are fewer — and sometimes no — places to spent money. But overall, we spent about $1,500 a month.

My partner Susan did a lot of writing about our trip, so if anybody wants to check out her writing and our photos, they should visit Feel free to use any of the photos. I think the photo of me standing out on our bowsprit, while wearing an extra large pair of women's underwear with 'Toro' printed on the back, is a dead ringer for the Latitude cover that featured Lisa Zittel on the bow of Profligate. But please don't put it on your cover.

Todd Huss
Sugata, Hans Christian 38
San Francisco

Todd — We searched your website for the photo of you wearing women's underwear on the bowsprit, but couldn't find it. We have to be honest, we didn't look that hard. But we did like the one of Koiya and her friend in Mazatlan.


We've been back home for about four months after a 13-month cruise aboard our Bertram 35 Sportfisher Wahoo that started with the '07 Ha-Ha. We covered 4,200 miles, including going through the Canal to the San Blas Islands, then coming back through the Canal and loading our boat on a Dockwise ship in Costa Rica. After a few weeks at the 'boat spa' in Ensenada, meaning Baja Naval, she'll return to her homeport of Dana Point.

Although we thought we were being thrifty, the cruise cost $68,000 for my wife and me and our two golden retrievers. Here's a list of the major hits:

Fuel — $10,000. It was $5-$6/gallon south of Mexico.

Capital Expenses and Maintenance — $11,500. Here's a breakdown of this category: 1) $2,000 haulout and bottom job, as our Southern California bottom paint was defenseless against the growth in tropic waters; 2) $3,500 for a new laptop, new camera and air conditioning; 3) $2,000 for a new 8-hp outboard, as our 4.5-hp wasn't safe going through the surf with two dogs; 4) $4,000 maintenance, including refrigeration repairs, a new rudder and watermaker parts, autopilot parts, charts for the Caribbean, oil changes and so forth.

Two Canal Transits — $2,300.

Marinas — $6,800.

Road Trips — $5,000.

Souvenirs — $1,000. Among these were 31 molas and two dugout canoes from the San Blas Islands.

Health and Boat Insurance — $6,600.

Food, beer, wine, DVDs, fireworks, paperwork and everything else — $24,100.

The above total does not include another $11,000 to have the boat shipped home by Dockwise.

Marc & Lynn Acosta, plus Lina and Annie
Wahoo, Bertram 35
Dana Point

Marc and Lynn — Very interesting. The thing that jumps out at us is the $24,000 — or almost $2,000/month for "food, beer, wine, DVDs, fireworks and paperwork." Can we assume that you dined out a lot?


I'm writing in response to Latitude's comments made to Don Shafer regarding the ideal outboard for his little Santana 525. I would like to make a few corrections to those comments, which I hope will constructively assist others in identifying the best motor for their similar boats, given the nature of their particular use.

First, it should be recognized that the 525 and most other small, light, beamy, 'pumpkin seed'-shaped sailboats have trouble maintaining forward momentum under auxiliary power in choppy seas and high winds. To overcome this, a fair amount of push — or 'bollard pull', as a tug engineer might say — is required to maintain way. This is not just about horsepower, but more importantly about torque and the blade area of the propeller that can convert the motor’s energy into pushing power.

I have owned a few of these types of small sailboats over the years, and while it is true that adding weight to either end of the vessel contributes to pitching motion in a seaway, the extra weight of a 10-hp over a 5-hp motor is a minor issue when considering the increased push the 10-hp motor will provide. My point is that if Shafer intends to take his 525 into open water, he should use the bigger motor. In windy, choppy seas, the choice may just keep his fine little boat off the beach someday. On the other hand, if he is only day racing in more sheltered waters, then Latitude's suggestion of 4- to 5-hp is generally fine. But just don’t power into a slip too hot, because the smaller motor, with its tiny propeller, will only drill a hole in the water when backing down too hard.

I would also add the following suggestions: Get the prop as deep as practical when deployed. This is fairly important to Shafer's application, as it will minimize prop cavitation under high loads, and his coolant water intake won’t be bobbing in and out of the water when he’s at the bow shipping his anchor. Having a heavy, longshaft 8-hp, four-stroke Honda on a San Juan 23 I once owned, I installed the motor on a kick-down motor bracket and reinforced the transom in the area of installation. This allowed the motor to be planted a bit deeper than specified for a runabout, and also got the motor pretty high above the water when tilted with the bracket raised. The only time I had a following sea wash over the kicked-up outboard’s lower unit with this setup was on a return voyage to Newport from Santa Barbara Island. It was a grey, blustery February day at the end of a winter storm. Seas were about 18 feet, and while I don’t recall the exact wind speed, froth was being sheared off the wave tops horizontally, and spray was blasting the back of my neck hard enough to sting.

The other comment I would like respond to is what Latitude apparently believes constitutes the difference between a 10- and 15-hp outboard. I would hate for someone to go out and buy a 9.9/10-hp outboard based on your comments, thinking they could end up with a 15-hp after drilling jets. Carburetor jetting is never how the increase in horsepower is achieved. With any normally aspirated internal combustion gas engine that has a carburetor, the purpose of jetting is to tailor a somewhat universal fuel delivery system to that specific motor’s airflow characteristics. This is to maintain an Air-To-Fuel ratio — or AFR — within the narrow stoichiometric range needed to support efficient combustion.

The 'stoich’ of common motor fuels as used broadly across the spectrum of end uses lies well between 12 and 14 parts air to 1 part fuel at sea level. While it is technically possible to use jetting to lower horsepower by tweaking stoich, the results would be disastrous when trying to reduce power by over 30% — such as in reducing a 15-hp to a 9-hp. For if jetted too lean, or above 14:1 AFR, the motor will fry itself, usually ending life with a melted piston. If jetted too rich, or below 12:1 AFR, then the motor will smoke profusely, foul plugs, and end up bathing its piston rings in gasoline. The result will be shot rings, worn ring lands and so forth — assuming that you could even get it to start or run. Both conditions will also negatively impact fuel economy in a big way.

Historically, two-stroke motors sharing elemental castings and parts groups that have different horsepowers — for example, 9.9-hp and 15-hp — will have different ignition timing advance curves, sometimes used in conjunction with different intake port timings. Port timing is determined by the vertical position of the intake port cut into the cylinder wall — something that is not economical or practical to modify after manufacture. Four-stroke engines, on the other hand, are a bit simpler. Usually a different carburetor and intake manifold, having lower volumetric flow — i.e. a smaller opening — are used, in addition to reduced RPM.

One additional change made when a manufacturer builds a specialized 4-stroke motor, such as a ‘high thrust’ model designed to push-heavy vessels like work skiffs and keelboats, is to change the camshaft profile to tailor the torque curve of the motor. The result is a more powerful and efficient motor in a lower RPM range at the expense of higher RPM performance. When used with a ratio change in the gearbox to further multiply torque, and a propeller having tons of blade area and very little pitch, it is possible to nearly double the ‘push’ of a standard outboard having the same horsepower rating. This is a perfect solution for a displacement vessel with a low hull speed. In other words, if wave trap limits a sailboat to less than 5-6 knots before it becomes a submarine anyway, then who cares if the ultimate speed potential of the motor when planing is cut in half? Pushing power has nearly doubled! Unfortunately, I am not aware of any such outboards offered below the 15-hp range. It seems that outboard manufacturers are not that interested in producing the ‘ultimate’ outboard for small club racers, meaning one that is both light and has good push.

Lastly, 9.9-hp outboards are not produced for economic reasons in the way you have alluded, but rather they were created specifically to fill a market demand for engines that would meet power restrictions when used on inland lakes — meaning they had to be less than 10-hp. By ‘detuning’ a 15-hp motor’s output as described above, the manufacturers have avoided designing and tooling an entirely new engine, and enjoy economies of scale when producing and warehousing parts. More importantly for the end user, though, the larger cylinder displacement of the original design still returns better torque figures ‘detuned’ than a smaller displacement motor that must work harder to do the same job. This also has positive ramifications for longevity.

Boy, I gotta tell you, Latitude missing something is an unusually rare occurrence. I was beginning to think you were all genetically engineered to Wiki all that floats. Thanks for letting your guard down so I could contribute!

Phil Gaspard
Invictus, Polycon 40
Newport Beach

Phil — We're glad to have screwed up if only because we finally got a satisfactory explanation for the difference between many 9.9s and 15-hp outboards. We're obviously not 'motor heads', and only wish we had a dollar for everyone who seemed to know what they were talking about assuring us that the only difference between most 9.9-hp outboards and 15-hp outboards "is the way they are jetted."


This is the 'real' Viva! Bob, happily sitting in Roatan, Honduras, waiting for parts — as usual. And no, I'm not in Nigeria. Evidently, somebody got into my computer, and sent everyone an email saying that I was starving and needed money. While the latter may be true, it wasn’t me that sent the email. In fact, I'm not even sure where Nigeria is, but as I recall, you can't even get there by boat.

When friends started notifying me — over the SSB radio — about the email they'd gotten from 'me', I tried to get into my email account to fix things, but couldn’t access it. I ultimately had to change passwords and do some other things to get back to normal, but what a hassle!

I'm obviously sorry that it happened. On the other hand, I got to hear from lots of great friends, including heartfelt sympathy about my dire 'situation'. There was also some bad language, which I'm sure was directed at the perpetrator(s).

But honest, this missive is from me, and I'm fine. Viva! is floating on the crystal clear waters of Roatan, where the rum is strong, the beer is cold, the local women are young and pretty, and the cruiser community is wonderful. Thank you, one and all, for your concern, and I hope this sort of thing doesn’t happen again — to me or to you!

Bob Willmann
Viva!, F/P Casamance 44
Roatan, Honduras / Golden, Colorado

Readers — Internet scams continue hot and heavy. You may remember that in the December 5 'Lectronic, we ran Rene Pittsey's warning about a scam he nearly fell for, in which the 'Prince of Dubai' sent him a cashier's check for $92,000 more than the asking price of his boat. What a card, that Prince! Lest you think only fools fall for the 'Nigerian Scam', a sailor friend of ours from Michigan fell for a version of this when trying to sell his airplane. And he's a banker!

As for getting websites hijacked, Connie McWilliams reports that the Hidden Port YC in Puerto Escondido, Baja, had their website hijacked for nearly two weeks. It caused no end of misery before they got control of it again.

As for Willmann's belief that you "can't get to Nigeria by boat," he needs to take a look at Google Earth for a few minutes. Indeed, many of the slaves who came to America did so by boat directly from Nigeria, which is located on the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa. With 140 million people, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the most populated 'black country' — a phrase found in Wikipedia — in the world. Nigeria is the eighth most populated country in the world, and unfortunately, at any given time, it seems half the population — or those claiming to be Nigerian — is engaged in some kind of internet fraud.


Ever since the photo of the birds perched atop the mast of our Catana 52 Escapade appeared in the January issue of Latitude, we haven't been able to get rid of them! Either they read the issue and saw that it was a great vantage point over the harbor at La Cruz, or they all want to get their photo in the mag. Help!

Greg Dorland & Debbie McCrorie
Escapade, Catana 52
Lake Tahoe


Your request for solutions to birds perching on mastheads — it's rather simple — prompts my letter. For a long time a Shelter Island liveaboard, sometimes known as 'The Ace of Space’, used a modern wrist rocket slingshot. The key was the ammo — small pieces of carrots. Though hit by hard shots, the birds — usually cormorants and seagulls — appeared to be unhurt, but left. In addition, if anyone got hit by a bit of a falling carrot, they would not be hurt.

While not a perfect solution, the slingshot method does seem to be humane. But for it to work, you need to be a good shot, you must be vigilant, and you must have the launcher and ammo ready when not underway. Birds are observant and will respect — on any given day — your domain.

Latitude is informative and entertaining, and I appreciate your efforts. But please use your usual positive and level-headed judgment in printing this. I trust that 99 44/100% of cruisers would not misuse a powerful slingshot by practicing on innocent creatures. And like flare guns, these things are totally unsuitable for horseplay.

Capt. Lorenzo Cruz
Chula Vista

Readers — Slingshots, particularly ones with wrist braces, are illegal in many areas. Indeed, even water balloon launchers can be illegal. So we're hoping there might be an even better solution. How about a manually activated buzzer at the top of the mast?


In a recent Latitude, you asked anyone with a solution to carnivorous birds resting on mastheads to speak up. I now live in southwest Florida where we have a terrible problem with osprey. For three years they used my masthead as a dining room, raining fish guts and assorted fish parts down on my canvas. Recently I discovered a product called Bird-B-Gone. It looks like a flower made of steel wire. I installed it six months ago, and no large birds have visited since. A few friends here installed the product also, with similar success. I hope this helps.

By the way, here at Punta Gorda there are three of us who have done the Ha-Ha: Bob and Mary Krambeck of the San Francisco-based Beneteau 411 Best of Times, Gary and Peggy Jensen of the Fremont-based Hans Christian 38 Spiritress, and us, Bob and Toni Dorman of the Escondido-based Catalina 42 Sundancer. However, we left Sundancer in San Diego and now have TC, Too, a Packetcat. Wait, Jim and Ginger Crumbaugh also did the Ha-Ha, but they are currently on the motoryacht Partner Ship. We all belong to Seafarers Boating Club in Punta Gorda Isles.

P.S. We still enjoy Latitude every month.

Bob & Toni Dorman
TC, Too, Packetcat
Punta Gorda

Bob and Toni — We checked out the Bird-B-Gone website, and they have a variety of devices for keeping birds away. It's worth checking out at


I feel terrible for Fred Tassigny, who lost his uninsured Venezia 42 catamaran Courtship after she was hit by a whale several hundred miles from Bermuda. I don’t want to be an armchair quarterback with regard to his abandoning his cat, since none of us knows what we would really do in the same situation, but as a foam-cored, unballasted boat, shouldn’t the Venezia have floated indefinitely? Even a cored monohull with a lead keel can float after holing, as Mureadritta’s designer claimed she would after hitting a whale a few years ago.  Maybe it’s a good topic for Max Ebb to take on — how to know whether your boat will sink if she's full of water.

Bill Quigley
San Francisco

Bill — With respect to Courtship, as long as the bulkheads between the engine rooms and the rest of the hulls weren't breached, we think she's going to happily bob along in the Gulf Stream all the way over to Ireland. Nonetheless, we think you pose a very interesting subject, because we've seen what seems to us to be conflicting evidence.

On the one hand, foam-cored cats in particular would seem to be unsinkable. There was an incident a few years ago when an opened or broken thru-hull caused a bareboat charter group to freak out and abandon their cat. The charter outfit recovered the cat the next day, pumped out a little water, and she was ready for action once again. Similarly, one time we found the entire main compartment of Profligate's port hull — which is about 35 feet long — flooded to within an inch or so of the floorboards. It had so little effect — designer Kurt Hughes calculates that it takes 2,000 lbs to lower the hulls one inch — that we didn't even notice it while underway. Such things would seem to suggest that foam-cored cats are indeed unsinkable.

On the other hand, we've seen post-hurricane photos of foam-cored cats that were 'sunk' to the level of the bridgedeck. They might not have sunk to the bottom, but they wouldn't have been habitable on the open ocean. We think that sealing access ports to a cat's bilge or filling the bilges with blocks of foam or air-bags would make cats absolutely unsinkable, but that's begging the question.

As for ballasted monohulls, they may 'float' for a period of time when filled with water, but they're not habitable in the normal sense of the word.


This may be a rare photo these days, as it's of two mothers nursing — while they're sailing on San Francisco Bay! On the left is Rose, our daughter, with Coral Sierra. On the right is our daughter-in-law Heather, with Onyx Silver Paw. The photo was taken aboard our Islander 36 Honey on a very mild weekend day in February. Probably the last time mothers were nursing babies on a sailing vessel was when Polynesia was being settled by people aboard 90-ft sailing canoes.

Robert & Virginia Gleser
Honey, Islander 38, Richmond
Harmony, Islander Freeport 40, San Carlos, Mexico


As we'll be sailing to Mexico this fall in the Sweet Sixteen Ha-Ha and cruising there afterwards, and we'll need to have good communication links for business purposes, my wife Sharon has done some research on the various options. As a result, we've settled on a comprehensive — although not inexpensive — combination of solutions that should see us through.

To provide some context, for our cruise to the Pacific Northwest, we've been relying on the following: 1) Wi-fi through BBX, which has met all our needs in every Pacific Northwest port we've been to so far for $300/year; 2) A Verizon Aircard which is $129/month on the unlimited global plan; 3) Our Verizon cell phones which cost $70/month for two phones with 2,100 international minutes each; 4) Our Iridium satphone — costing anywhere between $800 to $1,200 — which runs 85 cents/minute for voice and data at 9600 baud, the data being very slow; Aand 5) our SailMail/Winlink over our SSB/Ham radio, which costs several hundred dollars a year after buying the radio and modem, which itself cost several thousand dollars.

As far as we know, there is no common wi-fi provider like BBX in Mexico, and Verizon doesn’t have a reasonable arrangement with TelCel, so we're going to be doing things differently in Mexico. Here are the six methods of communication that we'll have:

1) A TelCel cell phone with a U.S. package that includes 15-minute airtime blocks at a reasonable rate. But we'll have to work something out for billing, as TelCel doesn't accept U.S. credit cards and they require a business address in Mexico for billing.

2) A TelCel PC data card. For $32/month you basically get unlimited usage. Again, we'll have to work something out with a friend or accountant in Mexico for the billing.

3) A satellite voice and data package. By the time this gets to print, Inmarsat will have repositioned their satellites so that their BGAN (Broadband Global Access Network) is available worldwide. The receiver — which will work really well with my FollowMeTV unit when we’re anchored — is only $1,495, and they are waiving the $59.95 monthly fee for the first year. But the data charges are a whopping $6.45/MB! But since this will only be an emergency system for those rare times when Sharon absolutely has to get something out while we're anchored in a remote place outside of wi-fi and PC data card range, it shouldn't be too bad.

4) A two-watt wi-fi card with a USB adaptor for trying to pick up better wi-fi signals.

5) Our SailMail/Winlink data communication via SSB/ham radio.

6) Our Iridium satphone.

Dick & Sharon Drechsler
Last Resort, Catalina 470
Long Beach

Dick and Sharon — That's an excellent overview of the communications options. It would be great if there was one fast, reliable and economical way to get voice and data by satellite to handle all communication needs, but we're not there — or anywhere close to it — at this time.


We've got some useful information for anyone thinking of trucking a sailboat from the U.S. to Marina Seca in San Carlos, Mexico, via Tucson. Marina Seca had informed me that they could load my boat for the trip to Mexico with their self-loading truck without the use of a crane. But I found out the hard way that in order for Marco Crane to be able to do this, the keel of a boat must be at least 12 inches off the ground. If not, the self-loading truck can't self-load, and you've got to pay $500 — Marco's flat rate — for the use of their crane.

Unfortunately, the keel on our Ericson 38 was only five inches off the ground. Marco Crane refused to take any responsibility for transferring our boat, saying they were only following instructions. After we complained to both parties, Marina Seca negotiated a reduced rate with Marco Crane, and also agreed to give us a storage credit for the amount I paid for the use of the crane. I'm glad to report that both parties were very helpful in resolving the issue.

Leonard & Belinda Smith
Nomad, Ericson 38

Readers — A few months ago, Kiki Grossman informed us that Marina Seca had sold their truck, and would no longer be trucking 80 or so boats a year back to the States from San Carlos. Given that they had just trucked a boat from the States to Mexico, we called for a clarification and were informed that they had been "making changes" to their trucking service, which was put on hold for a month-and-a-half waiting for customs documents. They can now transport boats up to 50 feet, 30 tons and 16 feet wide.


I saw the February 6 'Lectronic photo that Latitude took of the 10-ft tiger shark at Corossol Beach in St. Barth, and I'm wondering if you'd give me permission to use it.

By the way, for many years cattle were slaughtered at St. Barth at the abattoir inside the harbor at Gustavia. The practice ended in the early '70s, but sharks have a long memory. In fact, they were known to congregate in Gustavia Harbor on what had traditionally been slaughter days. In Australia, great white sharks still hang out at the old whaling stations, even though it's been more than 40 years since the whales have been butchered there.

So have fun in the Caribbean, but be careful! And if you see D. Randy West, tell him Linda (wink) says hello.

Linda Anne Chancler
In Transit Aboard a Land Yacht

Linda — Yes, you have permission to use the photo we took of the shark for non-commercial uses, and we appreciate your asking. Photos that appear in 'Lectronic and Latitude are copyrighted and can't be used without permission.

For those who might have missed the February 6 'Lectronic item on the tiger shark, here's what we wrote:

"They’re cutting up a 10-ft tiger shark at Corossol,” was the report that came to the Bar de ‘Oubli — Bar of the Forgotten — in Gustavia, St. Barth, French West Indies. Since we’d anchored our Leopard 45 cat ‘ti Profligate off the tiny village of Corossol, and since we often swim in the little bay there, we decided that we should check it out. Tiger sharks are the second largest predatory sharks after the great whites. They are known for enjoying a varied diet, including fish, seals, birds, smaller sharks, squid, turtles, dolphins — and even man-made waste such as license plates and bits of tires. No wonder they are sometimes referred to as “the wastebasket of the sea.” Tiger sharks are also notorious for attacks on swimmers, divers and surfers in Hawaii. Some studies suggest that the same tiger shark will return to the same beach at the same time of year to attack humans.

"When we got to Corossol, all that was left was the shark’s head, minus its many rows of razor sharp teeth. According to the translation of the French-speaking fishermen, the shark had been about 10 feet long, weighed about 400 lbs, and had put up a heck of a fight. Yeah, but did they catch it in the little bay or farther out to sea? The best answer we could get was that they’d caught it after motoring west of the island at high speed for about 40 minutes. The fishermen said that it’s not uncommon for them to come across tiger sharks, but they’re only found close to shore when the mothers are giving birth. Somewhat reassured, we nonetheless checked the water carefully for dark shadows before we jumped off our cat to go swimming later that day."

As for the abattoir, Port Captain Bruno Greaux reports that it was just a few feet from the current location of the port captain's office, and that it was used until the late '70s or early '80s. "Some people talk as though there were swarms of sharks — like the current swarms of tarpon down by the fish market — back on slaughter days, but that's not true," says Greaux. "Back then the commercial ships used to come all the way into the harbor, and sharks didn't like being around them. So sometimes a shark or two would show up on the night of slaughter days, but they were never tiger sharks, and it was never a problem."

As for D. Randy West, who you probably know was something of a 'land shark', he's running a big catamaran in Florida, hoping to get back to the island after sailing in the Heineken Regatta in St. Martin in March.


The Singlehanded Sailing Society tribe is well known for their event organizing efforts that result in some of the best and most memorable races held on the Pacific Coast. And once again, the SSS volunteers have stepped to the plate by building a new trophy for the Overall Corrected Time Winner in the Singlehanded TransPac.

What happened to the original 'bowling-style' trophy? It was damaged when Skip Allan was abandoning his Wylie 28 Wildflower on his return from the '08 Singlehanded TransPac. The new trophy, which features a Hawaiian pu shell horn on a beautifully grained koa base, is the collaboration of Synthia Petroka and Sylvia Seaberg. These two SSS stalwarts created the design, custom travel case, shell resting pads, and new plaque. The old plaque, listing winners of the SHTP since 1978, was also integrated into the new trophy.

With help from Mike Warren and some serious machines in his professional wood shop, the koa base was transformed from raw wood to a thing of beauty. The finish work and assembly was done by Tom Condy, who obsessed over the tie down mechanism — bronze cleat — for the beautiful shell, which is removable to be blown by future SHTP winners.

Hawaiian pu horns, made from the triton's trumpet shell, have been played since ancient times to announce the beginning and ending of a ceremony, and to honor royalty and famous people. In total serendipity, an ancient royal pu shell horn was recovered in '98 by the Smithsonian Museum from the remains of King Kamehameha's sunken royal yacht Haaheo O Hawaii at Hanalei Bay, just a stone's throw from the anchored SHTP fleet.

The new SHTP trophy was unveiled during a celebratory evening hosted by Stan and Sally Honey. Stan won the SHTP in '94 with his Cal 40 Illusion. Skip Allan was also presented with a beautiful oil painting of his late Wildflower carrying a spinnaker into Hanalei Bay, created by Ruth Petroka.


Thanks for mentioning me and my Freedom 44 Ivory Goose in the February 9 'Lectronic item about Fred Evans and his Freedom 44 Coyote. I have many fond memories of that first Ha-Ha!

I've just arrived in Key West after singlehanding down the ICW. After voting for Obama, I left Annapolis on November 5. But I'm now sailing a Mark Ellis-designed Cabo Rico NE 400, which has a big pilothouse and two helms. She sails well, but she does have a jib.

The Freedom 44 is a great bluewater boat. My Ivory Goose is presently being sailed in the North Sea by a Dutchman who decided to keep the name Ivory Goose. As for my new boat, Compañera, she's better for coastal trips. My dinghy, a 10-ft Pilot, is named Muy Solo.

I still read Latitude and 'Lectronic, and marvel at your continued output. I suggested your name to Jon Eaton at IM, saying that he should sign you up for a book.

Lansing Hays
Compañera, Cabo Rico NE 400
Annapolis, Maryland

Lansing — It's so wonderful to hear from you. After more than 15 years, we can still remember taking forever to overtake you on the second leg of the Ha-Ha with Big O. We were most impressed with the Freedom's downwind speed.


A number of months ago we wrote the following letter:

"We live in almost exactly the center of the United States (central Kansas), and sail on a very nice inland lake. But it is now time for us to start planning our cruising escape, and we don't know in which boat or which cruising ground to begin our journey. The basic plan is to sell our current sailboat, a Hunter Vision 32, in Kansas, and buy a nice, pre-cruised 40- to 45-ft sailboat in a coastal port, get a slip there for 6-12 months to retrofit and acclimate, and then sail off to the nearest cruising ground. Currently it seems we have three basic choices:

"1) Buy in Florida or the Carolinas, and initially sail the Bahamas and then on to the eastern Caribbean;

"2) Buy on Galveston Bay, Texas, and go to Mexico’s Yucatan, and Belize and Guatemala’s Rio Dulce; or

"3) Buy in Southern California and do Baja and the west coast of Mexico.

"Some other basic information: Although we have some good sailing and chartering experience, we have never cruised, so we have a lot to learn, and would prefer doing it in a relatively forgiving environment. Our primary objective would be to cruise the tropics rather than the northern latitudes. We prefer quiet and safe anchorages to marinas. We like snorkeling in clear water, fishing, and all the other activities cruisers enjoy. We will also want to store the boat for the first one or two hurricane seasons while we return to Kansas. So which of the three cruising grounds would most likely have storage facilities available that are relatively secure? Also, what about slip availability for the 6-12 month retrofit? Do you have another suggestion for a cruising scenario that we might enjoy? We would really appreciate your thoughts on our plan and which initial destination might work for us."

In a return email you said that you would respond to our inquiry, but we don't think we ever got one.

Although, we would have liked to have your response, it no longer matters as much because in August we purchased a new Jeanneau 45DS in Annapolis. We will sail her part-time on the Chesapeake, for probably two years, then the Bahamas for a year or so, and then go full time in the Caribbean. When we're not using the boat, we'll have her in a limited charter program with Annapolis Bay Charters.

Jan & Jean Windscheffel
Selene, Jeanneau 45DS
Annapolis, Maryland / Lake Wilson, Kansas

Jan and Jean — Please accept our apologies; it makes us so mad when we forget to do something. That said, we don't think we could have done a better job of outlining the three best options for you. And from there, it would have been up to you to chose the one that suited you best. So congratulations on your new boat and laying out your path to the future!


In the January 16 'Lectronic, you made the editorial comment that the size of one of Roman Abramovich's yachts appears "a little unseemly" to you. In fact, here's the item in its entirety:

"If you follow the news, you know that Russian oligarchs are among the richest people in the world, but that they have suffered almost unfathomable financial losses in the last year. Among them is Roman Abramovich, known in yachting circles for having the world’s largest private navy of pleasure yachts. According to Forbes Magazine, in March of ’08, Abramovich was the 16th richest person in the world, with a fortune of $23.5 billion. But according to Wikipedia, Abramovich 'has lost most of his fortune due to the worldwide financial crisis of ’09.' Abramovich often spends New Year’s and parts of the winter on his yachts in St. Barth, so when we saw his 377-ft Pelorus on the hook near our tiny cat a few weeks ago, we were wondering if the poor guy was having trouble paying his bills.

"Apparently not. While on the town last night, friends in the know said that when Roman wanted to send a lady friend back to Moscow from St. Martin last week, he didn’t use either of his two smaller but perfectly capable jets stationed at the airport, but rather his private Boeing 767. The woman was the only passenger. Roman had bought the 767 from Hawaiian Airlines before they took delivery and had it refitted to his personal standards. In other news that would suggest Abramovich won’t be selling apples on the street corners soon, he’s said to have just plunked down $40 million for a hilltop villa in St. Barth to overlook his fleet.

"We’re not sure the following is accurate, but according to Wikipedia, in addition to Pelorus, Abramovich’s navy includes the brand new 525-ft Eclipse, which at $300 million is said to be both the largest and most expensive private yacht in the world; the 282-ft Ecstasea, the largest Feadship ever built; the 370-ft Le Grand Bleu, one of the megayachts formerly owned by the McCaw family, but which Abramovich has since 'given' to an associate; and the 163-ft Sussurro, which is used as a tagalong yacht. Despite having a '40-man private army' to protect him, the young — mid-30s — and undistinguished looking Abramovich can be seen from time to time walking around St. Barth alone or sipping wine in bars. If he’s got money problems, he’s faking it really well.

"In any event, the Russian economy is in shambles, the average Russian is hurting and afraid, and there have been incidents of civil unrest across the country. While it’s true that Abramovich may be a one-man stimulus package for the megayacht industry, it’s a little unseemly, don’t you think?"

That's what Latitude wrote. But isn't 'spending' the catchword for 'economic recovery'? The construction and operation of a boat — of any size — creates jobs. Capitalism thrives on the creation of jobs. Had Mr. Abramovich left his money in the bank, no one would have benefited. Isn't it odd the Russians so quickly mastered the fundamentals of capitalism?

Bruce Conn
Trabuco Canyon

Bruce — Most economists will tell you that some kinds of spending are mildly stimulative, but certainly not all. For if it were, why didn't the U.S. government come up with a $100 trillion stimulus package instead of a mere $890 billion one?

That said, the kind of spending Roman Abramovich has been doing — a private person acting as the ultimate profligate, and thereby creating private sector jobs and paying taxes — is truly stimulating. Nonetheless, it seems vulgar to us given the times.

What's more, when you assert that the Russians have "so quickly mastered the fundamentals of capitalism," we have no idea if you're being sarcastic. Sure, Abramovich started his business career by selling plastic ducks out of his apartment in Moscow, but there is more than a little evidence that he became fabulously wealthy by dubious means and by using his superior knowledge of free markets to play average Russians for fools during the privatization period. In '92, for example, the young Abramovich used fake documents to divert a train with millions of dollars worth of oil and, despite being arrested, basically got away with it. He later became great friends with an associate of then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin, and together they paid $100 million each for the controlling interest in Sibneft Oil Company — a company most analysts believe was worth billions. Such a deal. Mind you, this is the same method used by Carlos Slim of Mexico, sometimes called the world's richest man, to gain that 'honor'. His big deal was putting together a consortium of companies to privatize the Mexican phone system in the early '90s, paying what many consider to be a small fraction of the real value of the system. Having established all but a monopoly, Slim, also a serial megayacht owner, then mercilessly jacked up the phone rates on the mostly impoverished population. Having made so much money, Slim has now bought a large interest in The New York Times, which only recently suggested he was a robber baron.

You be the judge. Were Abramovich and Slim just smart businessmen or did they 'steal' the resources belonging to the rest of the population? No matter what you decide, we don't think either should be compared to most of the folks in Silicon Valley, for example, who mostly made money by saving other people lots of money.

By the way, we'd like to make a correction to that 'Lectronic. Abramovich's 525-ft Eclipse won't be launched until later this year.


I’m rereading Vito Dumas’ splendid Alone Through the Roaring Forties, and have had an uneasy feeling about the name of his 31-ft ketch, Lehg II. I’d been thinking that the pronunciation, were it said aloud, would be similar to ‘leg’, the things upon which I stand. But as the name is actually made up of the initials of his mistress, L.E.H.G, I realized that I have absolutely no idea if the letters are pronounced separately, or some other way of which I haven’t a single clue. Could someone please enlighten me as to how I should use this name?

By the way, if anyone hasn’t read Alone Through the Roaring Forties, you are in for a treat when you do! What a splendid feat Mr. Dumas accomplished, and what a thumping good read!

Bill Nyden
Mountain View

Bill — We hope one of our readers might be able to help with the pronunciation, because we haven’t a clue.

To summarize Dumas’ remarkable achievement, he started his singlehanded circumnavigation of the Southern Ocean from Buenos Aires in '42, which was the height of World War II. He carried only the most basic gear, and specifically didn’t carry a radio out of fear it would be discovered and he’d be shot for being a suspected spy. Since hi-tech cold weather gear wouldn’t be available for another half century, he stuffed his clothes with newspapers to try to keep warm. During his circumnavigation of the Southern Ocean, Dumas made only three stops. In the course of his trip, he became not only the first man to singlehand around Cape Horn, but also the first man to singlehand all of the three great capes. Had he been an American or European instead of Argentinian, he would have become much more famous.


I take umbrage at the accusation made in the "Westpoint Marina Update" in the February Sightings that I’m a professor of law at Santa Clara University. For the record, I hold a joint appointment in the English and Environmental Studies departments, which places me on the faculty of the Santa Clara University College of Arts and Sciences, not the law school.

As to the allegation that I “absconded” with a dour work dock and transformed it into a proper party barge, complete with bimini, Adirondack chairs and tiki torches, I have no comment. But I will say that the tiki torches are solar-powered, making it a carbon-neutral party barge.

John Farnsworth
Bashful, Hunter 46LE


What a wonderful thing to purchase a boat, enjoy a wonderful first weekend sail on the Bay in awesome January sunshine two weeks later — and then see a photo of your boat in the next month's Latitude!

Jean-Marc Cabrol
La Soñadora, Islander 30


If you want more info on what happened to Carpe Diem, here's a report I received from Joe and Pam Cunningham, who are cruising their Catalina 42 MkII Sea Escape in Mexico.

"At about 10 p.m. on January 19 while about 60 miles southeast of Cabo, we heard a mayday from a vessel named Carpe Diem. We waited to see if anyone would answer. The mayday was repeated, during which time the man making the call sounded more stressed. So we answered, and learned the call was from a singlehander aboard a 44-ft sailboat about 21 miles to the south of us. He reported that his boat’s bilge was five feet deep, but that he already had water six inches aboard the floorboards. He said there was so much stuff floating around that he couldn’t find the source of the leak, and that his only bilge pump, a dinky one, couldn’t keep up. We felt so frustrated for him, as the source of the leak was probably something simple, and a larger pump might have given him the chance to find and fix it.

"We’re not sure if we were the only ones picking up his distress call, but we were the only ones responding. He was speaking in English, so perhaps Spanish speakers couldn’t understand him. We stood by while he continued to see if he could find the leak. He checked in about every five minutes. After a few rounds of this, we put out an all stations call for him. It took a couple of tries, but we finally got a response from the cruise ship Northern Star, which was 30 miles from him, but could not hear his radio transmissions. We gave the cruise ship his position, and without hesitation they changed course to go to his aid. After about 20 minutes the cruise ship could hear his radio transmissions, so we handed Carpe Diem off to them.

"The cruise ship was going to be able to reach him in 1.75 hours, while it would have taken us twice as long. The cruise ship contacted the U.S. Coast Guard, which contacted the Mexican Coast Guard. They reported that they were on their way to the scene, but it would take them 2.5 hours to reach the stricken vessel.

"The skipper of Carpe Diem asked the cruise ship if they had a big bilge pump. They said they did not. The captain of the cruise ship instructed the skipper of sailboat to get his papers together and prepare to abandon his boat. He wasn’t happy to hear this. “Do I have to?” he asked. “My boat is my home.”

"Those on the ship, being all business, replied that their first responsibility was to rescue him, and he needed to get his stuff together and prepare to abandon his boat. We felt really sorry for him, as there was probably just a small problem that had gotten serious, and now it was going to cost him dearly. The cruise ship told the skipper that the Mexican Coast Guard could save his boat, but we didn’t know how hard they would try if she was sinking.

"When we later contacted the cruise ship, they confirmed that they’d rescued the skipper, that he was safe, and that they were taking him to Mazatlan. About 15 minutes later, the ship came on with a sécurité announcement about the boat being abandoned at such and such a location. Don’t you know every fisherman — or anyone else who was close enough — was going to converge and get the prize?

"Anyway, we were wondering if his abandoning his boat might have been a little premature, as it didn’t sound as if his boat was close to sinking, although it eventually would if the source of the leak wasn’t found and repaired. Of course, it’s not good to second guess somebody who is alone and in trouble on the ocean.

"We were also wondering about one’s responsibility after issuing a mayday. Under maritime law, would a skipper be obligated to accept help from the first vessel that arrived? It would seem like a last resort response to an emergency to send a mayday. So those trying to help might have to come into harm’s way, and it clearly wouldn’t be good if you then didn’t accept their help."

Greg Davids
Pura Vida, Hylas 47

Readers — To our knowledge, mariners don’t necessarily have to accept a rescue from the first vessel that arrives on the scene, or even from any rescuer at all. A few years ago we wrote about how a couple ran their Columbia 34 aground at the Benitos Islands off the coast of Baja, and called the Coast Guard. When a Coast Guard chopper, at the maximum extent of its range, appeared overhead, the couple declined to be taken off, saying the locals, who lived in boxes, were treating them so well they wanted to stay.

In the case of Carpe Diem, you can’t help wondering if the guy couldn't have stalled the cruise ship until the Mexican Coast Guard arrived, which apparently wasn’t going to be much later. Of course, without any detailed information on the weather conditions, the state of the boat, and other things, it’s hard to make any kind of intelligent second guesses.

Almost everyone is under the impression that if they come across an abandoned vessel at sea, it's theirs for the keeping. Nothing could be farther from the truth, so we'd like to set the record straight. There are actually two kinds of salvage that recreational boatowners might be involved in. The first is 'Contract Salvage', in which the boatowner or his insurance company agree on a contract prior to the start of salvage operations. It can be a fixed sum, a ‘time and materials’ sum, or whatever the parties agree to. It’s not uncommon for there to be a ‘no cure, no pay’ clause, in which the salvors get nothing unless they are successful.

The second type of salvage is known as 'Pure Salvage', where a reward for the salvage is implied rather than in a contract. In such cases, the salvor must bring his claim to court, which will award a sum based on the merit of the service and value of the property saved. Pure salvage cases are divided into High Order and Low Order. In the former, the salvor exposed himself, his crew and his equipment to danger in order to save a vessel, such as if there was very heavy weather, the boat was already in the surf or the boat was on fire. Low Order salvages are along the lines of providing fuel to a vessel that has run out, towing a vessel off a sandbar, and other rescues where there is little or no risk to the salvor.

Even in cases of High Order Pure Salvages, it’s very rare that a salvor would be entitled to more than 50% of the value of the vessel. More commonly they would be awarded 10 to 25%. If you own a boat and run out of gas or need to be pulled off a sandbar, you might want to make it clear to the captain of the rescuing vessel that you’re accepting assistance and don’t consider it to be a salvage.


I liked Latitude's summary of the "salient" racing rules that appeared in the 2009 Northern California Sailing Calendar and YRA Master Schedule. But I think you missed the most important one. I'm referring to the first rule, which I think is also the shortest:

"1.1 Helping Those in Danger: A boat or competitor shall give all possible help to any person or vessel in danger."

Nick Roosevelt
Cookie Girl, Ultimate 24

Nicholas — We'd thought it was such common sense that it need not be mentioned, but thanks for bringing it up.



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