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April 2009

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Thank you for researching the legalities of scattering the ashes of cremated people at sea. But one more unasked question has been bothering me — is it still possible to do burials at sea the old-fashioned way? By that, I mean committing a full body, encased in a sailcloth shroud or casket, to the sea. We did this quite often from one of our charterboats when we lived in Christiansted, St. Croix, U.S. Virgins, in the '60s and '70s.

At the time, we worked with Wilhelm Samuel, the local undertaker, who would deliver the body to us, sewn in canvas, with a heavy weight at the foot. This was in the best tradition of the Royal Navy and, until recently, just about every sea-goer. We'd place the body on a special board on the starboard side of our boat, which was loaded with family and friends, usually many flowers, and often musicians and clergy. Then we'd head out to sea. As I recall, Wilhelm used to specify that we go at least three miles out from land. These burials at sea worked out nicely. We usually knew the deceased, so we joined in the celebration of our friend’s life, and a (reasonably) good time was had by all.

Burials at sea involve no embalming, cremating or other modern practices that are costly to the environment and pocketbook. In fact, I'd like to go to sea one last time that way myself. Can it still be done legally or do we have to do it illegally? Anticipating an unfavorable answer, I've been almost too afraid to ask.

Dick Newick

Dick — Fear not, for it's still legally possible to do full body burials at sea. There are rules, however, which can be found in Section 229.1 of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regulations. Among the highlights: 1) The burial must take place at least three miles offshore and in at least 600 feet of water. 2) The body has to be prepared for burial according to the requirements of the Navy, Coast Guard or civil authority responsible for the arrangements. Indeed, what with there being such a lucrative trade in body parts, the trickiest thing might be getting a funeral director to release a complete body to a civilian. 3) Burials at sea are to be presided over by the captain of the vessel or a representative of the religion of the deceased. And finally, 4) a burial at sea has to be reported to the Regional Administrator of the EPA within 30 days of the burial. Folks who were/are in the military — or who have family that were — can be buried at sea by the Coast Guard or Navy, but with a number of restrictions on when and where. Points of departure for a U.S. Navy burial at sea are: Norfolk, Virginia; Jacksonville, Florida; Corpus Christi, Texas; San Diego, California; Bremerton, Washington; and Honolulu, Hawaii.

If anyone is contemplating a burial at sea, we'd recommend being buried in tropical waters. After all, the thought of spending eternity in cold water is hardly comforting.


The maritime rules say that a boat anchored during the day should display a round black symbol. I've never seen anyone do this, especially when trying to hold against strong tide during races with no wind. Am I missing something?

Dan Borders
Rancho Palos Verdes

Dan — Except when in designated anchorages, all anchored boats are required to display a black ball in the forward rigging. In reality, about the only vessels that comply with this law are megayachts and commercial vessels. Heck, it's been our experience that lots of boats under 65 feet don't even show the required 360° light when anchored at night.

We've never heard of the Coast Guard or anybody else enforcing the black ball rule, which is probably why nobody complies with it. Of course, if someone slammed into your anchored boat and you weren't showing a black ball, it might be red meat for the defendant's attorney. If you anchor your boat during a race, we suppose you are technically required to show a black ball, but it's probably be the least of your worries.


I alternated between guffaws and gagging after reading Latitude's contributions to the planet’s best examples of mal de mer third-person journalism, while wondering if you have yet withdrawn your heads from deep within the sixes of Ted Halstead and Veronique Bardach. I'm referring to the February Changes about the Catana 52 catamaran Verite, and I'm still not sure if it was parody or a true story.

• They flew to France to take delivery of their $1.5 million Catana 50 catamaran.

• They were total novices, having taken only a week of sailing lessons before buying the boat.

• They assumed all they'd have to do is pick the boat up in Canet, add fuel and oil, and enjoy themselves.

• They'd never flown a spinnaker before, and Ted had no idea what an impeller was.

• Even after they started cruising in the Med, Veronique was still asking what a boom was and the proper term for the left side of the boat.

• They loved the cruising community, which they found to be unbelievably generous with their help.

• The first time they dragged anchor, other cruising skippers came over to help — maybe to protect their boats from Ted and Veronique's cat dragging through the anchorage?

• Ted had to attend a business meeting, so he left Veronique, who knew even less about sailing than he did, plus two other non-sailors, to sail the boat from Crete to France.

• Veronique normally drives the cat, but doesn't like to do the lines or trim the sails.

And then there was their close call: "We were motoring up a channel in Montenegro, and were naked because we like to sail that way. We were both inside, and because of the layout of the salon, there were some obstructions looking forward. We weren’t aware that fast ferries charge back and forth across our path at high speed, and by the time I saw one, we were just feet from slamming into it. As I ran to the helm, which is way out on top of the hull, I could clearly see the alarmed expressions on the passengers on the ferry. I turned off the autopilot. We later learned that these ferry captains get their kicks by coming as close to other boats as possible."

Thank you, Latitude, for the best and most hilarious laugh I've had in 87 years. Are there really people like this out there cruising?

Ed Bynon
Aquarius 23, ex-Cal 20, ex-Catalina 30, ex-Westbay 45

Ed — You're very welcome, we're glad that Changes brought you so much pleasure.

Ted and Veronique are not only real people, they aren't that unusual among the intelligent and adventurous cruisers that we come across these days. You might remember our report on Pat and Ali Schulte of the Chicago-based Wildcat 35 cat Bumfuzzle. Having gotten bored halfway through their first sailing lesson, they just flew to Florida to pick out their cruising boat. They spent all of about three hours before selecting their boat, in part because they didn't like the humidity in Florida, and in part because, if they made their selection quickly, they could fly back to Chicago in time to see the Fourth of July fireworks show. Yeah, it sounds crazy to veteran sailors, and indeed, they were halfway across the Pacific before they figured out the concept behind a two-speed winch. But hey, they made it around the world, and without too much trouble, on top of it.

Then there's Manhattan Beach's Mike Harker, another non-sailor who bought his Hunter 34 Wanderlust on a whim. After doing the Ha-Ha and a Baja Bash, he bought the Hunter 466 Wanderlust II in Florida, then singlehanded across the Atlantic and around the Med, then sailed back across the Atlantic, to French Polynesia, Hawaii and California. All this before completing his 11-month singlehanded circumnavigation aboard Wanderlust III, his Hunter 49. Harker, who still doesn't know the names of most of the lines on a boat, or much about the finer points of sailing, is about to take off on his second singlehanded circumnavigation.

While we feel strongly that folks new to cruising would be safer and enjoy themselves more if they took more sailing lessons and/or had a mentor along for the first couple of weeks of their cruise, many prefer to just buy a boat and learn as they go. And if the truth be told, there is plenty to the concept of learning as you go. If you read the Changes about Verite, perhaps you read the March Changes about Henry and Mattie McAlarney, who were just completing a 7.5-year circumnavigation aboard their Florida-based Corbin 39 2Extreme. Henry, who was a fine and experienced sailor before he took off, says the only way for them to learn about cruising — which he specifically said was an entirely different thing than sailing — was by doing it.

While it wasn't the laugh of our lifetime, we did get a chuckle when you said you couldn't figure out if it was parody or the truth that Ted and Veronique "flew to France to take delivery of their $1.5 million Catana 50 catamaran." How else were they supposed to get there, by bus?


I found it very unusual that Latitude didn't run anything about the attacks on the police in Zihuatanejo. I realize that Latitude has always been an advocate of Mexico's safety, and I usually agree. I've spent many years down there myself, and have never had an unpleasant experience. But with the recent outbreak of violence associated with the drug wars, I would think it a moral obligation on your part to reveal potential dangers that are becoming all too common for cruisers.

Stacey Dobson
Shaka, Blackwatch 26
Dana Point

Stacey — Had cruisers or even tourists been even indirectly threatened by those attacks, we would have reported on them. Normally we would have anyway, but it slipped through the cracks because our Cruising Editor was on assignment — cough, cough — in the Caribbean at the time. But as a rule, we don't try to hide the bad stuff about Mexico — or anywhere else.

In any event, here's what happened in Zihua, based on a report from the El Paso Tree, an online publication which seems to know what's going on south of the border. According to the Tree, among the hottest drug war zones in Mexico this year has been the so-called Southwestern Front, which includes the states of Michoacan and Guerrero, particularly in the Tierra Caliente and Costa Grande regions. The problem is that four cartels are fighting for control of areas that encompass opium poppy production, cocaine shipment corridors, methamphetamine maquiladoras, and local drug markets. There has been violence almost daily, although not in Zihua.

But on the weekend of February 21, two policemen and three civilians were injured after two grenades were tossed at the main police station in Zihuatanejo. The following Monday, the 345 members of the Zihuatanejo Municipal Police staged a 10-hour work stoppage for better protection, higher wages and improved working conditions. Days later, police headquarters was sand-bagged and resembled a military outpost.

Then on February 25, about 20 armed men in three SUVs ambushed a four-man squad of Zihua Municipal Police on the Acapulco-Zihuatenejo highway 15 miles from Zihua. The police were killed by grenades and automatic weapons fire. The area between Zihua and 30-minute distant Petatlan was the scene of intense disputes between organized criminal gangs a couple of years ago, then calmed down. But violence began escalating last spring after a rupture within the Sinaloa cartel between Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who Forbes magazine just listed as one of the richest men in the world, and Arturo Beltran Leyva and his “pelones.” As a result of the rupture, police, many of whom are presumed to be on the take of one group or the other, are usually the targets of violence.

The Tree concluded its report as follows: "Although violence is on the upswing and many locals are unnerved, the narco-war has so far not significantly altered nightlife in the tourist destination of Zihuatanejo. Large numbers of people attend evening mass, turn out to nightclubs and restaurants, and show off at the Cultural Sundays program on the main beach."

In other words, Zihua and the rest of tourist Mexico is a lot like San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles. If you keep your nose clean, you'll have a great time and no trouble, because the fighting is between narco gangs for turf, and between narco gangs and the government. It's not between the narco gangs and tourists. It's been reported that there were over 6,000 drug war deaths in Mexico last year, a quarter of them in the border town of Juarez, with many more in Tijuana. To our knowledge no tourists have been killed, at least not in any coastal tourist areas. In addition, we've not received a single report from cruisers who said they are leaving Mexico out of fear for their safety. As for us, we're about to head to Banderas Bay for the Banderas Bay Regatta and then up to La Paz for the Sea of Cortez Sailing Week. We have no great concerns for our personal safety.


I appreciated the February letter from Bill Finkelstein and Mary Mack of the Valiant 50 Raptor Dance, who were kind enough to share their lifestyle change and the benefits of a way of eating that gives us older sailors the best chance of 'staying in the game'.

I will turn 70 in October, and although I did a marathon five years ago and have been an avid aerobic disciple since I was 29 years old, I was not exempt from the dreaded battle of the bulge. Three times a week I climbed 72 flights of stairs, but my potbelly persisted. I was maxed out on work-outs, and just didn’t have the energy to put out more physical effort.

Then an friend introduced me to the The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. This is a 30-year longitudinal study conducted jointly by Cornell and Oxford universities, in conjunction with the Chinese Center for disease control and prevention. The relation between disease, especially cancer, and the Western diet was the primary focus. The guidelines in this study for a healthy, sustainable diet are nearly identical to that described by Bill and Mary.

By following the diet guidelines in The China Study, I went from 162 lbs to 154 lbs in three weeks, and yes, it was my belly that disappeared. I know Latitude is a sailing magazine, but for us sailors doing all we can to stay fit, such a diet would seem essential if we want to extend our sailing years with energy, vigor — and even a dash of reckless abandon.

Besides diet and exercise, you can't overlook the factor of attitude. For me, Reese Palley’s Call of the Ancient Mariner is full of good advice and humor for us relics. One of my favorite quotes is, “You are only young once, but you can be immature your whole life.”

So don’t give up. Decapitate your TV, encourage your wife or girlfriend — or both — to join you in a life that takes to the sea. When most of our contemporaries are cashing it in, we are still capable — with a flat belly — of taking a walk on the wild side. This summer you will find me sailing my dark blue Cal 20 Laika on San Francisco Bay.

Larry Patterson
Laika, Cal 20


I barely qualify for the 'Over 30 Club', since I bought my 1971 Cal 39 Catch the Wind in November of '78. That was only 30 years and 4 months ago.

I originally purchased my boat to do the '80 Singlehanded Transpac. It was on that trip that I discovered I was just an around-the-buoys racer. After the first few hours of that event, the adrenaline rush of racing could no longer compete with the sheer enjoyment I felt of just being on the ocean. And in those days before affordable SatNav and the almost unknown GPS, the necessity to learn celestial navigation before I sailed past Hawaii provided me with many hours of mental exercise.

I did have other adrenaline rushes after the first few days, such as when the main had to be taken down and repaired. The adrenaline petered out long before I got the main into the cabin for sewing. It was an eye-opener to learn just how long it takes to do anything when singlehanding. It took four hours to get the main back up.

In the late '80s and '90s I did charters on Catch the Wind, mainly between Point Sur and Trinidad Head. The majority of my charterers wanted the experience of going to sea on someone else's boat before doing it with their own. We practiced things like anchoring, piloting, sail handling at sea, making landfall — things that cruisers should know but might not get from sailing in the Bay. And we did it in an area often hit by very strong winds and big seas. Many of my students did make trips on their own boats, to places such as Mexico, Alaska, New Zealand and Australia.

During this time I also delivered other people's boats from Hawaii, Washington and Mexico to San Francisco. A few years ago I finally cut the Northern California umbilical chord, and my wife Susie and I have been cruising on Catch The Wind ever since, mainly in the Sea of Cortez.

Presently Catch the Wind is in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico, and Susie and I are in Maricopa, Arizona, where she is recuperating at her parents' after having both her knees replaced in Mexico. We should be back aboard Catch the Wind before this issue hits the streets.

Sam Crabtree
Catch the Wind, Cal 39

Sam — We're surprised you didn't mention that you fell down the companionway steps on that Singlehanded TransPac, breaking some ribs, and having to duct tape your chest back together to prevent further injury.


I'm also a member of the 'Over 30 Club', which is for folks who have owned the same boat for more than 30 years. My wife and I bought our Pearson 26 in October of '76 when she was brand new and sitting on her cradle in front of Sailboats, Inc. in Oakland. As the years went by, all of our sailing friends kept getting 'two foot-itis' and buying ever-larger boats, but we just kept sailing our little Pearson. Our kids learned to sail on her, and our son later spent his honeymoon on her.

We did everything under sail — picking up and leaving moorings, going on and off the anchor, docking, and making every mistake possible. We even learned to reef when it was blowing hard in The Slot. We practiced and practiced sailing — and had fun doing it — knowing that it would pay off. It did more then once, too, when the engine — and our 30-year marriage — failed.

After many years of sailing on the Bay and visiting many wonderful spots, the Pearson 26 is now a happy Delta boat. My second wife Rose and I continue to explore the Delta waters during the warm summer months.

Bill Grummel
Midnattsolen, Pearson 26
Discovery Bay


I first want to say that I really enjoy Latitude. I've been a reader since it was first available in Redondo Beach, where I used to live.

Second, I'm a member of the '30 Year' club, having owned the Yankee Dolphin 24 Acamar since '74. I used to cruise her to Catalina and the Channel Islands, and made it as far up as Cuyler Harbor at San Miguel Island. I currently keep her on the Snake River in Washington.

Finally, I thought you might be interested in this article about a boating tragedy that occurred last June on the Columbia River, in which a person operating a powerboat under the influence of alcohol collided with a boat at anchor, killing the owner of the anchored boat and injuring his wife. It's about to come up for trial.

Alan Brothers
Acamar, Yankee Dolphin 24
Pasco, WA

Readers — According to the article Brothers sent, at 8 p.m. on June 14 of last year, Michael Nethercutt was operating his powerboat at approximately 40 mph at the confluence of the Columbia and Snake Rivers, when he slammed into an anchored boat owned by Edward Gilbert and his wife Patricia. Edward, 74, was killed, and Patricia, 72, suffered a broken rib.

There were four people in Nethercutt's boat: Michael, his wife Cynthia, friend Cathie Melde and her son Andrew Melde. Cathie, who deputies testified had a strong odor of alcohol on her when she was interviewed, claimed that Nethercutt had been drinking, but assured them that "he was not intoxicated at the time of the accident." She helpfully added that Nethercutt was "very responsible about drinking and operating his boat." No wonder Nethercutt later pleaded innocent to charges of homicide and assault by watercraft.

Despite Melde's claim about Nethercutt's sobriety, authorities went ahead and had Nethercutt's blood-alcohol level tested anyway. It might have had something to do with what detectives found in Nethercutt's boat — two empty bottles of Jack Daniels and at least 53 empty beer cans. As such, they probably weren't all that surprised when Nethercutt scored a blood alcohol level of 0.324, which is more than four times the legal limit — and in many cases would result in fatal alcohol poisoning. Responsible about drinking indeed.

The death penalty is legal in Oregon, and if the facts against Nethercutt are proven, we're Old Testament enough to believe he deserves the needle. Unfortunately, only people convicted of aggravated murder are good enough for the death penalty.

The story of a powerboat slamming into an at-rest boat and killing one of the occupants is all too familiar, isn't it? It reminds us of the ongoing legal abortion of justice in the death-by-powerboat case from Clear Lake in 2006. As most of you will recall, on that fateful and moonless night, Deputy Sheriff Russell Perdock foolishly decided to take his powerboat for a speed run on Clear Lake — despite knowing that there were often unlit boats and rafts on the lake. Driving his boat through the blackness, he slammed into the all but stationary O'Day 28 sailboat Beats Workin' II, at a speed even he estimated to be over 40 mph. Lynn Thornton, a just-retired law enforcement officer for the State of California, was injured so badly on the sailboat that she died a short time later.

In its infinite wisdom, the Lake County District Attorney's Office has filed no charges whatsoever against Deputy Perdock, the reckless operator of the powerboat. Yet they will soon be trying to convict Bismarck Dinius — the man who happened to be sitting at the helm of the idle sailboat — of vehicular manslaughter. Even the family of the deceased has written the judge telling them that the wrong man has been charged with the crime. There is no limit to the contempt we feel for the Lake County District Attorney's Office for trying the wrong man, and for State Attorney General Jerry Brown for not stopping this outrage more than a year ago.

For eight weeks at the beginning of this year we lived aboard at St. Barth, and during that time we made more than one nighttime dinghy ride of about a mile. In addition, we moved our 45-ft catamaran in the dark of night at least five times. Based on that considerable recent experience, we can unequivocally state that when there is no moon, or even just a little moon, you're all but blind when operating a boat at night. When we moved our cat in the proximity of other boats, even five knots was too fast. In these conditions, Perdock might as well has been driving his boat at 40 mph with a 55-gallon drum over his head for all the good his vision would do him. It is Perdock who should be charged and convicted of vehicular manslaughter.

By the way, if you'd like to help Bismarck Dinius with his considerable legal fees, send a check made out to Bismarck Dinius (writing "Bismarck Dinius Defense Fund" in the memo section) to Sierra Central Credit Union, Attn: Brian Foxworthy, Branch Manager, 306 N. Sunrise Ave., Roseville, CA 95661.


The fish being held by Karen Vaccaro on page 150 of the March issue are sierra, not bonita. Bonita have stripes; sierra have polka dots. Sierra taste much better.

John Meyer
La Bellenita, O'Day 32
Point Richmond

John — Sorry, but our fish identification skills are limited to the barracuda and hammerhead sharks, both of which are quite distinctive.


I very much enjoyed Latitude's February issue article titled The Hidden Lives of Harbormasters, and want to commend you for your choice of harbormasters that you interviewed.

Sheila Chandor — or 'Her Majesty', as she is affectionately known — is a past president of the California Association of Harbor Masters and Port Captains (CAHM&PC). Jim Haussenger is known in the industry as the senior statesman of harbormasters, having also served twice as a past president of CAHM&PC. He is now the Executive Director of the California Marine Affairs and Navigation Conference (CMANC). Both of these associations are advocacy groups dedicated to advancing the issues of marinas, harbors and boaters at the state and national levels.

The other harbormaster in your article, Alan Weaver, has logged more bluewater miles than any harbormaster I know of, and is well-known and well-liked throughout the industry.

All three have demonstrated years of tireless efforts to improve and enhance boating in California, a distinction that should not go unnoticed. It has been my pleasure to be associated with these professionals during my career in marina management.

Although the article was meant to be lighthearted and entertaining — and it was — I feel it is well worth mentioning that the accomplished professionals you interviewed are so very honorable and distinguished, yet too modest to say so on their own behalf. I hope this letter accomplishes just that.

“And that,” as the late Paul Harvey, the radio announcer, would say, “is the rest of the story.”

Ted Warburton, Harbormaster
Brisbane Marina


One of my crew for this fall's Ha-Ha has a conflict with the October 26-November 7 dates. Are there any other groups of sailboats heading south about that time?

David Lott
Planet Earth

David — Sorry, but there really isn't anything else like the Ha-Ha. Other boats do start trickling south after November 1, however, so you wouldn't be entirely alone.


The February 16 'Lectronic item on the two cruisers robbed near Chamela was very informative. I'm glad they only lost a little money, didn't resist, and weren't hurt.

As you know, there have been other attacks on sailors recently, and in cases where they did fight back, the sailors were sometimes killed. I don't think it pays to argue with thieves, particularly those who are armed with knives and guns. Let them take what they want, then report the incident.

Fighting back against thieves may be seen as heroic by some, but it isn't particularly intelligent. Especially the skipper of the megayacht in Antigua who was shot dead as he chased after a gunman who had tried to steal his wife's purse, grazing her toe with a bullet in the process.

Michael Gahagan
Flamingo IV, Catalina 30
South Beach Harbor

Michael — The most famous case of this type, of course, is famed Kiwi sailor Peter Blake getting killed after confronting thieves aboard his expedition sailing yacht when at the mouth of the Amazon River. Blake's gun jammed when he attempted to fire on the thieves, making them aware of his presence. Having upped the stakes and suddenly being helpless, he was fatally shot. Other members of the crew thought it was likely nobody would have been hurt if the thieves had just been allowed to take an outboard or two and other items of relatively insignificant value.

It's also difficult to second guess the actions of others when we weren't there, as there may have been cases where fighting back was the sailor's only chance at survival. Nonetheless, as a general rule we'd agree with you, it usually doesn't pay to get into knife or gun fights.


In his series of books on sailing and chartering, the late William F. Buckley, Jr. concluded that a vessel could only have one captain, and that it was best when he, Buckley, was it. Well, we've seen a lot of bossy male crew over the years, and have been leaving more and more of them back at the dock when we make our sailing trips. We've found that Swedish nurses, on the other hand, make excellent crew. We advise that anyone leaving on a voyage take at least one Swedish nurse with them.

Erik Westgard

Erik — We're a little fuzzy on the logical connection between William Buckley saying a vessel should only have one captain, preferably him, and you and the rest of your crew recommending that one or more Swedish nurses be brought along on all sailing trips. But whatever.

Ironically, Buckley, who often chartered Ocean 71s, sisterships to Latitude's Big O, apparently wasn't the most careful of skippers. According to the captain of one of the Ocean 71s Buckley chartered, the author of God and Man at Yale not only drove the boat onto a well-charted reef but, along with his friends, spilled red wine all over the salon cushions. The ever imperious Buckley told the captain to just send him a bill, missing the point that there was no time to get the cushions cleaned or replaced prior to the arrival of the next charter party.

We editorially stuck it to Buckley from time to time because we thought his sailing books were pedestrian and because we thought he comported himself like an arrogant ass. As a result, we were pleased when Buckley, who suffered from delusions of erudition, and having missed our point entirely, referred to us as "dyspeptic" in one of his sailing books.


I've bought many things over the internet over the last few years with little or no hassle, but a recent experience might be of interest to your readers. In February, I ordered a pair of binoculars from an internet company called After 10 days went by without a UPS truck stopping at my door, I made dozens of attempts to contact them on their 800 number but it was always busy. So I went to the 'Help Desk' on their website and inquired about my order. It was finally shipped two days later.

I got my binoculars 16 days after I placed the original order, but they arrived in a box without any cushioning material. When I opened the manufacturer's box, I found that the tube holding the objective lens had broken away from the main body! When I went back to the 'Help Desk' to complain, I got no response at all. After waiting three more days, I enabled scripts and found live help on the website. After some back and forth with a woman named Karen, I was required to ship the binoculars back to — at my expense — in order to get a refund. All this because they'd neglected to properly pack my purchase for shipping.

My experience is a good argument for buying at my local chandlery — or at least shying away from

Edward Kreps
Bisbee, Arizona

Readers — We contacted for comment. We received an automated email response that they'd get back to us, but they never did.


Thanks for the great cover photo on the March issue of Latitude. The San Francisco Bay Folkboat Association appreciates any coverage that we can get, as we are trying our best to keep this classic design vibrant and healthy on the San Francisco Bay sailing scene.

Despite having just completed a tack with the jib trimmer still down in the cockpit, you wouldn't believe how much grief I've gotten from other members of the fleet for having Faith overpowered. "Let down your damn traveller!" they say.

In any event, I liked the shot so much that I have a 2-ft x 3-ft dry-mounted copy hanging on the wall of my office. Peter Lyons, who took the photo, is certainly a top flight on-the-water photographer.

Brock de Lappe
President, San Francisco Bay Folkboat Association


Wow! The January issue of Latitude had an International Folkboat featured on the cover. As an owner of an IF for 16 years, and having sailed in several other classes, I think she is one of the best small boats ever for San Francisco Bay. I wish I still owned one.

In the February issue, the editor made a couple of comments on IFs and their owners, among them that a minister from the Peninsula singlehanded his IF to New Zealand many years ago. So far as I know, I'm the only minister who lived on the Peninsula, sailed out of Coyote Point, and was a member of Coyote Point YC. My son Skip and I were season champions in our handicap division one year with our IF, and were also one-design champs for some five years. However, we never sailed our Wind Song to the South Pacific. The only one I know who did this was Henry Hotchkiss of the San Francisco YC, who sailed his White Lightning to Australia in the early '80s.

But as the former owner of an IF Boat, thanks for bringing back grand and lifelong memories.

Rev. Jim McAllister (retired)
Santa Rosa

Jim — We obviously got a little confused, so thank you for the correction.


In the February Letters, reader John Harrod of Lake Tahoe wondered if you had any photos of Sea Runner, "a gorgeous wooden boat" that he remembered from Monterey in the late '70s, and one that owner Bill Bacon apparently sailed around the world. I remember Sea Runner. In fact, I remember being on her and sailing wing-on-wing beneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

Sea Runner was a very pretty white-hulled 52-ft gaff schooner, a smaller version of Gloucester schooners such as Bluenose. In the late '60s and early '70s, she was owned by George and Judy Knab of Alameda, and took 3rd in class in the '71 Master Mariners. Later in the '70s, she was owned by Bob Wilson and kept on Pier 3 in Sausalito, next to Freda and Mayan.

I always thought that Bill Bacon owned her before the Knabs did, but I might be wrong. I don’t know what’s become of Sea Runner, but I'm still in touch with both Bob Wilson and Judy (Knab) Moore. If Mr. Harrod wants to contact them, he can get their addresses through me at

Howard 'Howie' Rosenfeld
Friday Harbor, WA


I'm writing after reading the March issue Cruise Notes item about the British singlehander who suffered a heart attack in the middle of the Atlantic, seemed to do well for a number of days, but then died before he made it to shore.

I'm no medical expert, but I do know that most medical experts say that taking 325mg of aspirin can be an immediate big help in the case of a heart attack. So I always carry the 325mg aspirin in my boat duffel bag and in my car's glove box. Mind you, only aspirin works, not other pain relievers such as Tylenol, ibuprofen or others. Also note that taking an aspirin after a heart attack is not the same thing as taking aspirin on a daily basis, which has a long list of pros and cons, and should be discussed with one's doctor.

Aspirin is a salicylate, so it can be used after a heart attack to prevent clotting. During a heart attack, the heart is deprived of oxygen, which can result in significant damage to heart muscle and tissue. The main thing is to get the whole aspirin into the body quickly. After the attack, most patients require treatment soon to reduce and repair the damage, and to improve their chances of survival.

I was aboard a boat returning from Mexico when a female crewmember suffered a heart attack. During the response to our mayday call, the Coast Guard doctor said, "Grind up one 325mg capsule of aspirin, put it in half a cup of water, and have the person drink it." Putting the aspirin in water is suggested because people in pain may not be able to chew properly, and it's important to get past any coatings on the aspirin tablet.

When kept in humid environments, aspirin degrades in about one year, so date your bottle and replace it when the time comes, and keep it sealed until needed. The 24-pill Bayer bottles are ideal, but they are coated aspirin, so you have to grind them up.

I also liked the fine letter in the February issue on alternators and alternator maintenance by Michael Daley. It brought back memories of the alternator problems I've experienced myself and have heard about on the various Ha-Ha's I've done over the last decade. Having 'been there and done that', I ordered an exact replacement alternator for our boat. My wife Marylyn, who is completely non-technical, suggested that I should 'alternate the alternators' at the dock just to be sure there wouldn't be any problem if I had to do it at sea.

"Yes, dear," I replied. But when I tried to replace it, I found that the pivot bolt on the exact same alternator was 5/16" rather than 3/8"! It only took a five-minute run to West Marine to get the stuff necessary to fix the problem, but I'm glad I didn't have to do it offshore or at night.

There are two good reasons for following my wife's suggestion. First, physical access to many alternators can be difficult, depending on how and where they are located. And second, putting the 'alternate alternator' on is a good way to know what tools will be necessary to do the job.

Mike Chambreau
Impetuous, Cal 34
Los Altos

Mike — Many doctors suggest giving a heart attack victim an uncoated aspirin, as it will act more effectively. Aspirin should never be given to anyone suspected of having a stroke, because the aspirin might only make the patient's condition worse.


In a recent Latitude, reference was made to a Hugh Angelman ketch. We all know what kind of a cruising ketch that was referring to, right? The beamy, gaff-rigged Sea Witch or something similar. But I thought I'd share some local history about an entirely different Hugh Angelman ketch, a design that isn't as well known.

In '65 I was looking for a sailboat that my wife and I could live on while we did our medical and pediatric internships in San Francisco. I made the case to her that it would not only be fun, but a cost-effective living situation as well. After all, why pay rent? Being as madly in love with me as I was with her, she went along with this proposition. Eventually, I found the Nelly Bly, a 42-ft Hugh Angelman "ocean racing" ketch for sale at the Berkeley Yacht Harbor. She was a mess. In fact, the halyards were still on the dropped sails, which were slatting about.

The story was that she was owned by a UC Berkeley professor who decided to sail out to the Farallones in preparation for a cruise to the South Pacific. Apparently his singlehanded sail to the Farallones and back didn't go so well, for when he returned, he dropped the sails, tied the boat to the dock and simply walked away. He not only didn't remove any of his personal gear, he never stepped aboard her again! So for $13,000 — and a lot of maintenance that needed tending to — my wife and I had a home. We donated the whiskey decanter to the boat broker who negotiated the transaction.

Angelman had drawn the ketch as a one-design ocean racer. In the accompanying photo, taken in the '60s by my friend Robert Van der Vegt, note the tumblehome and belaying pins — you can't see the cool stern boomkin. In all, three of these vessels were built by Wilbo, the Wilmington Boat Works in Southern California. They were actually pretty modern looking for having been built in the mid-'30s. After we bought Nelly Bly, my wife and I saw the two sisterships. One was in Southern California, the other in Honolulu.

Thanks to her low freeboard and narrow beam, Nelly Bly was a wet boat, but she was beautiful and fast — especially when sailing off the wind with her spinnaker and mizzen staysail set. Once her cloud of sail was up, she really pulled and was a glorious sight!

We enjoyed a wonderful year of living aboard Nelly Bly in the old Berkeley Marina, and did lots of evening sails after work. Initially the boat had some rats, but our cat quickly solved that problem. We sold Nelly Bly a year later for $14,000, prior to being assigned overseas with the U.S. Public Health Service.

Years later, I saw an article about the Nelly Bly having become a charter vessel in Hawaii. Her provenance had been lost, so the owners had no idea of her history. I wrote a long letter to them explaining what I knew of their vessel. I never got a reply. I can't imagine that she's still afloat, given what it takes to keep a wooden sailing ship such as her intact. I would love to learn otherwise.

For the record, the boat's namesake was a fiery advocate of feminism in the earliest days of the movement. She was also credited with becoming the first investigative reporter in the history of journalism. For in 1888, while working for Joseph Pulitzer's New York World, she posed as a mentally ill patient in order to expose the abuses and neglect in the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell Island. Her work created an uproar, major reforms followed, and investigative journalism was born. Bly went on to lead an active and fascinating life, including inventing and patenting the prototype of what would become the 55-gallon drum. She did this while functioning as the only female industrialist of that time. She also set a world's record for circumnavigating the world à la Jules Verne.

I hope your readers find this additional information on Hugh Angelman ketches and Nelly Bly interesting.

O'Neil S. Dillon
Lagniappe, Ericson 38

O'Neil — Great stuff! To have owned a boat named after the inventor of the 55-gallon drum — that makes us jealous. As for that Angelman design, she looks surprisingly sleek for the '30s. We can imagine that she was at least as fast as she was wet.


I just read the letter in the November issue about 'the right way to cruise', and Latitude's editorial response. I live up in the Delta aboard my Catalina 27. I sail the Delta during the summer, and also sail the coast. But I do the latter as skipper on my friend's O'Day 28. My sailing goal is to sail around the Pacific, then maybe continue around the world. In the November letter, the author seemed to grouse that some cruisers weren't really cruisers because they had one foot on their boat and one foot on land. I was offended by that attitude.

Let me tell you a story about my hero, who happens to be my father. He's almost 70 years old, and spent 26 years in the U.S. Navy. He went around the world twice in the late '50s and early '60s aboard the USS Shangri-La. He's now the owner of a Columbia 26 MKII. His boat sits in her slip a lot, but he's still a cruiser. He did it on a carrier.

And another thing: I look at all the cruising boats out there in which so much money has been invested. What happened to the days when a sailboat had rope for standing rigging, canvas for sails, and blocks made of wood? Is there any advantage to newer boat designs other than speed?

People talk about cruising funds. I don't have the funds, but I've got my boat, which is sound, although not well equipped. I'm going to have to get some safety gear and some navigation equipment, but I'll go cruising even if I have to do it with a sextant, compass, clock and charts. So am I doing it 'wrong'?

John Gardner
Serenity, Catalina 27
Owl Harbor, Isleton

John — You'd be doing it 'wrong' in the sense that you'd be much better off with a GPS — or two — than with a sextant, compass and clock. After all, a basic GPS not only costs a fraction of a sextant, but comes with a clock, a compass, and basic charts of the world built in. It will also give you your speed, so you don't need to spend money on a knotmeter, and tons of other information.

While we'd personally prefer to go around the world in a somewhat larger boat, if you did go around in a Catalina 27, it wouldn't be that unusual. After all, Berkeley resident Serge Testa once did it with a 12-footer, and different Northern Californians have gone around on a Columbia 24, a Contessa 26, a Cal 27 and other small boats. And there was a Virgin Islands-based sailor who did a circumnavigation with a Catalina 27 about 25 years ago. Prior to leaving, he beefed up the hull at critical areas such as the chainplates and bulkheads, and took extra care to make sure the rudder and rig were in good shape. So don't get the wrong idea, older boats such as yours have proven to be surprisingly capable. Many readers would be shocked at how little gear these people needed for long distance cruising.

Furthermore, you can cruise and/or circumnavigate on the cheap, too. Our friend Jim Green of Martha's Vineyard left Panama for the Marquesas during the second of his three circumnavigations aboard his submarine-like 10 Meter Tango II with just $150. He figured everything would somehow work out — and it did, because he salvaged the wreck of a new powerboat that the owner was attempting to deliver to San Francisco from Taiwan. While on a honeymoon in Bora Bora a few years back, we met a Greek guy named Thomas Grammatikos, who was three years into a six-year circumnavigation on a 23-ft boat. He was living on $600 a year. He saved money by, among other things, never bothering to clear in and out of any ports or countries. Then there is Glenn Tieman of Ventura, who spent 10 years cruising his 25-ft Wharram cat Peregrine to southeast Asia, and spending an average of less than $1,000 a year. By the time you read this, Tieman should be part way across the Pacific toward the Marquesas aboard his new boat, a 38-ft cat he built from scratch for $14,000.

Lest anybody get the wrong impression, all of the above are moderate to extreme examples of sailing long distances or around the world, and would no doubt be a little more spooky and dangerous than if done on most larger boats. Similarly, if you're going to cruise on less than $200 a month, you're going to have to give up a whole lot things most sailors would consider to be essential. Nonetheless, as a number of men and women — who have more balls and brains than us — have demonstrated, it can be done. It's just like the old adage, "It's not the boat, it's the sailor."

To answer your question about what happened to 'proper yachts', in general, only the very rich can afford them — or at least afford to keep them in fine condition. For unless you're a meticulous wooden boat expert along the lines of a Larry Pardey, who has the knowledge, skill, time and patience to properly maintain a wooden boat, or have an unlimited budget to hire other people to do the work for you, you're almost always better off with a plastic boat. Traditional wood boats — as opposed to wood/epoxy boats — require almost constant attention. Let a wood boat go for too long and she can rather quickly become all but worthless. Plastic boats, on the other hand, can be ignored for decades with little, if any, structural damage. In regard to sails, canvas can't hold a candle to synthetic materials when it comes to shape, durability and overall value. The same is true with natural fiber lines and wooden blocks.

The best way to appreciate the differences between wood and plastic boats would be to cruise on a wood boat — or just lend a hand in maintaining one. Find a wood boat that really appeals to you, then offer to give the owner a hand in maintaining her. You won't have to ask twice. Don't get us wrong, there is nothing more beautiful than a proper wooden yacht — as long as someone else is doing the work and footing the bills.

There have been tremendous advances in yacht design over the years, and they haven't been limited to speed. Most modern boats tend to have a much sweeter motion at sea and on the hook than older ones, in part because of more sophisticated designs and the use of plastic and/or composites in keeping weight out of the ends. Just the other day we were at an anchorage when a mild swell was coming directly in. Whereas all the more modern boats — most of which were typical charter boats — had a slight fore and aft motion, there was an old wood ketch that threatened to put her bowsprit under with nearly every swell. For any given length and budget, plastic boats tend to have more interior room and be more comfortable. This is true not only when comparing plastic boats with wood boats, but when comparing older plastic boats with newer ones.

With all due respect to your father, we'd categorize him as a 'local sailor'. We congratulate him for his service to our country, but we don't think going around the world on an aircraft carrier counts as cruising, at least as it's understood by most sailors.


When I arrived on St. Martin/Sint Maarten in the French West Indies/Netherland Antilles for the Heineken Regatta in early March, I came across an interesting story about two thieves who were convicted as the result of some unusual evidence.

Guy and Christine, a Canadian couple, bought a timeshare on the Dutch side of the island years before they took delivery of Princess of Tides, their Knysna 44 cat in South Africa. Their delivery from South Africa to Florida was followed by a year of getting their boat fitted out the way they wanted her, as well as closing his law practice and her retiring from a radiology clinic. It all ended with Princess of Tides clearing Fort Pierce, Florida, for a cruise through the Caribbean.

In early January, Princess of Tides dropped her hook in Simpson Bay Lagoon. By coincidence, their Sint Maarten timeshare dates always put them on the island in early March, just before the Heineken Regatta. So Guy and Christine prepared to spend the first week of February in their timeshare, then move back aboard Princess of Tides to hang out on the hook during the Heinie. Guy is a hell of a chef, so half their boat galley gear had to be schlepped to their tiny rental car, driven to their timeshare in the resort, then carried 1,000 steps up to their condo. By the time they moved all their clothes, toiletries and dog paraphernalia, it had taken them six trips! And by the time it was done, they realized it hadn't been worth it for what was just going to be a six-day stay.

Two days after checking into their timeshare, Guy went down to check on Princess of Tides — and discovered she had been burgled. There was no damage to the any of the hatches, so the thieves had entered through the sliding glass door that separates the cockpit from the main salon. When the rollers on the bottom of such doors are out of adjustment, it's child's play to lift the slider enough to unlatch it, at which point the sliding door can be opened.

Guy was amazed to find that none of their big and expensive electronic gear had been taken, but rather just small and easily concealed items. He figures that the thieves just pulled the dinghy under the bridgedeck between the hulls where it couldn't be seen. Then one thief stayed in the dinghy while the other passed the stolen goods through the 12-inch by 12-inch Lewmar escape hatch in the hull to the guy in the dinghy. This way they had all night to empty the boat with little chance of being detected. Fortunately, things like the big, beautiful 52-inch flat screen LED TV and other large items wouldn’t fit through the hatch. Unfortunately, small items such as jewelry, money, handheld VHFs, kitchenware, wineglasses, food and booze could be stolen.

Kitchenware, wineglasses, food and booze? Guy and Christine figured that no drugged-crazed West Indian would ever risk jail time or worse to steal equipment needed to prepare from scratch a béarnaise sauce, frozen daiquiris or serve a properly chilled pinot grigio. After all, these items couldn't readily be fenced at a San Francisco street fair, let alone a tropical island in cruiserland.

As soon as the couple discovered the theft, they moved back aboard Princess of Tides lock, stock and barrel — another 12,000 steps and six trips in the French mini-car. Then they began to catalog what was stolen, and clean and restock the cat. They didn't bother to notify the police, believing that it would be a waste of time. After a day or two, the distress of their boat being violated began to wear off, and routines on the cat resumed. Even the cruiser net traffic on the incident quieted down. The consensus was that it was simply another case of local West Indians breaking in and taking everything they could easily steal. End of story.

Not quite. You see, Guy and Christine have a dog named Princess, a once feral golden retriever that is not only the apple of their eye, but also their reason for avoiding British Commonwealth islands and the inspiration for the name of their boat. As it would turn out, the dog's need to poop would prove the downfall of the thieves. Two days after the burglary, Princess got into the dinghy with Guy, and they motored over to Great Cay (aka Explorer Island) for the dog's afternoon pooh-fest and stick chase. While strolling along the beach, Guy noticed two 30-something Continentals sunbathing and enjoying a bottle of chardonnay. Though the brand of wine was the same as had been stolen from Princess of Tides, Guy thought nothing of it. After all, it was the same $3 stuff that half the cruising fleet had bought at the Match grocery in Marigot.

But then a familiar item caught his eye — a heavy, frosted, plastic, blue-green wine goblet. It was standing in the sand beside one of the Frenchmen. The other goblet was being drained by his friend. Guy and Christine had bought four similar goblets in Canada before they left, but one had been washed overboard at Grand Turk, leaving them with three. The stupid thieves had only stolen two of the three. Guy’s attorney brain sprang into gear, and he played dumb, engaging the two men in casual conversation. As he did, he noticed that one of the men wore a watch identical to one stolen from Princess of Tides. But it was a Timex, and thousands had been made and sold. The brand of Chardonnay and the watch could be coincidences, but the unique goblets — not a chance!

Guy and Princess jumped back into their dinghy and headed for the gendarme’s office on the French side of the lagoon. On the way, Guy stopped by Princess of Tides to tell Christine to get her camera. He then arranged for a neighboring cruiser to take Christine to the island in his dinghy for a photo shoot.

Guy expected nothing more than a big yawn from the cops, but they immediately sent a squad over to Explorer Island. When Guy identified his goblets, the two bad guys — much to their surprise — were arrested on the spot and taken to the gendarmerie. But the game wasn't over yet. Just because the two perps had made a frog walk into the station didn’t mean the case was closed. All the crooks had to say was that they'd bought the watch and the wine, and were given the goblets by a couple of local druggies. In that case, the most that could be proven is that they were in possession of stolen wine glasses. The judge would say, "Sorry to bother you, but take this slap on the wrist and be on your way. Oh, and don’t forget your new wineglasses."

While the two suspects were being questioned by the gendarmes, Guy hot-footed it back to Princess of Tides to retrieve the third goblet. In a scene out of Perry Mason, Guy arrived just as the suspects were being questioning about the goblets. He sat down in a chair against the wall in the back of the concrete block room, keeping the Coke-bottle green goblet in a plastic grocery bag while the cops grilled the two guys on the origin of the two goblets they had. The two Frenchmen kept to their alibi — they'd bought them on St. Barth a year before — confident there was no evidence to link them to Princess of Tides. Halfway through the fifth telling of their alibi, and in the best tradition of courtroom drama, Guy finally stood up and shoved the third goblet in their faces! Confronted with the evidence, the suspects melted and confessed. The two turned out to be French nationals who, after arriving from St. Barth, had been living aboard a derelict in Simpson Lagoon for a couple of months. One had a record, so he was definitely facing time behind bars.

Some things to think about: 1) Many cats have sliding glass doors. Make sure they are properly adjusted so they can't be lifted above the hatch. 2) During long stays, it’s easy enough to rig a line or two between the bows of the hulls to stop bad guys from easily parking dinghies beneath the bridgedeck and out of sight. 3) If going ashore for a day or two, have a cruising buddy take you ashore so you can leave your dinghy tied to the boat, making it look as though you're there. 4) Leave on lights — a couple of LEDs will do — aboard the boat. And finally, 5) remember that it's not always the locals who cause the problems, so refrain from stereotyping.

Joe Russell
On Assignment in the Caribbean

Joe — In the March 9 'Lectronic, we reported that while in St. Martin, we recovered the dinghy and outboard that had been stolen from the W-76 Wild Horses in St. Barth. The thieves were French nationals on a ketch, not West Indians. So yes, stereotypes can be misleading.


I spent a week in a boatyard in Mazatlan in February while mechanics from Total Yacht Works replaced a leaking transmission seal on my 37-ft sloop Xanadu. A week later, while en route to Puerto Vallarta, I discovered that the new transmission seal wasn't doing its job, as oil was still dripping into the bilge. I fired off a message to the boatyard describing the problem.

Total Yacht Works responded quickly. "Return to Mazatlan. All work is guaranteed. You will not be charged for the repairs, slip or anything."

A lifetime of less-than-satisfactory dealings with ersatz 'Mr. Goodwrenches' has sharpened my cynical nature. Too often these 'good guys' have hemmed and hawed in an effort avoid responsibility and wiggle out of their guarantee. "Well, that wasn't part of our original repair," they would whine. "You only told us to replace the seal." But 30 miles south of Mazatlan, my pessimism went into overdrive. I was dubious, to say the least, but I felt we had no alternative than to return to the boatyard. Although not life-threatening, a leaky transmission seal is a problem that only worsens with time, and would foul the bilge with oily sludge.

Rafael Serrano and two other mechanics met us at the dock when we returned to Mazatlan the following morning. They quickly removed the transmission from the boat — luckily our boat has a V-drive — and discovered the problem. The sleeve that surrounds the propeller shaft had become badly corroded and pitted over the years, and prevented the seal from doing its job. Hence the oil leak.

Rafael offered no excuses. To the contrary, he apologized. "We should have seen this the first time. I'm sorry for the inconvenience. We will pay for all repairs as well as the dock fees." Whodathunk?! I offered to pay for the sleeve's re-facing, thinking it only fair, but he would have no part of it. An act of responsibility like Rafael's tends to ameliorate my otherwise cynical nature.

I thought Latitude readers ought to know that if ever they need marine mechanical work in Mazatlan, Total Yacht Works is a good place to go. They can be contacted on VHF channel 22 or via email.

Paul Cahill
Xanadu, custom 37-ft sloop


I really enjoyed the March 9 'Lectronic article about the dinghy being stolen from St. Barth and you guys finding and recovering it two days later in St. Martin. Good on you! That begs the question for many long time cruisers — what tactics and/or equipment should be used to prevent dinghy thefts. Perhaps you can collect the ideas and put them in an article.

George Backhus
Moonshadow, Deerfoot 62
Sausalito / Auckland, New Zealand

George — The way we see it, protecting one's dinghy is complicated because you have to protect it in a number of different situations. For instance, in the 30+ plus years we've been sailing in foreign waters, we've had two dinghies stolen, but neither was the classic middle-of-the-night theft from the back of the boat. The first happened at Palm Island in the Caribbean, when we took our family to the resort for an evening jump up. The guard on duty at the dinghy dock told us not to worry, he'd keep a very close eye on the 15-ft dinghy with a 40-hp Yamaha that we'd got used at an incredible price. The problem was that the guard was actually a thief who was just posing as a guard. As soon as we walked away, he jumped into the dinghy and roared off through the night in the direction of Union Island. Although we chartered a small plane the next day, Easter Sunday, to search the mangroves for the dinghy, we never saw it again. We also had a smaller inflatable with a 15-hp Yamaha stolen from Big O when she was anchored about 200 feet off Club Nautico in Cartagena, Colombia. We'd been specifically warned not to leave our dinghy unlocked alongside our boat. But one of our crew figured he need not bother to lock it when he'd gone in to just change his pants. Alas, in just the minute or two it took for him to change his pants, the dinghy and outboard were taken, never to be seen again.

When turning in for the night, the best anti-theft action boatowners can take is to lift the dinghy out of the water. This is usually very effective, but not foolproof, as thieves in Costa Rica have been known to lower dinghies into the water from cruising boats in order to steal them. How do they do it without being heard? They wait until it starts raining like crazy, as it often does at night in Costa Rica. When the owner can't hear so well and isn't very inclined to check on odd noises, they strike. So to really be safe, we'd suggest lifting the dinghy out of the water, and then locking it to something solid on the boat. When tying a dinghy to a dinghy dock, we think the best protection is a heavy duty stainless steel chain, wrapped through the outboard, the dinghy and the gas tank, and secured with a big lock. It's a pain, but it's a lot more theft-proof than the more commonly used cable, which can easily be cut by thieves armed with only a hacksaw. Unfortunately, there are some places — such at the St. Martin YC in Sint Maarten — where locking dinghies to docks is prohibited.

In many cruising areas, it seems as if almost every dinghy looks the same — a grey inflatable with a dark colored outboard cover. Thieves love such pickings, as once the dinghy and outboard are stolen they won't be the least bit conspicuous. If, however, the dinghy is a red or yellow inflatable, and the outboard cover has been painted a bright color, it will be distinctive enough that it's less likely to attract smart thieves. Unfortunately, most thieves are too stupid, drunk or drugged up to know any better, so even that doesn't always help, as was the case with the Wild Horses dinghy.

None of these suggestions is new, but they are the best we can think of — short of keeping a pit bull in the dinghy at all times. Anybody else have some advice to share? Send suggestions to Richard.


I'm very interested in purchasing a sailboat. I'm tall, however, and therefore don't want to waste time searching and viewing boats that don't have enough headroom. Is there a way to find out how much headroom a given design has? I'm 6'9".

Jack Marshall

Jack — Sorry, but headroom height is rarely included in boat specs. We're not going to lie to you, it's going to be tough to find many boats that you can stand up in. If you gave us an idea of what size boat you're looking for and how much you're interesting in paying, perhaps our readers could offer some suggestions.


A couple of weeks ago, I met and chatted with Dan, the owner of Sea Venture in Marina de La Paz. Dan has a business in San Diego, and comes down to La Paz to go fishing whenever he gets the chance. We talked about a lot of things, including the local foundation Fundacion Ayuda Ninos La Paz (FANLAP) that helps poor kids attend school; something that can really improve their prospects in life.

A couple of days later, I got a call from Dan on the VHF, wanting to know if FANLAP could use some fish. We said sure, but were not prepared for the graciousness of his offer. Dan and the lads on Sea Venture gave us 100 lbs of dressed and frozen marlin. We took it out to the Colonia kitchen, from which 100 or so kids are fed most days. When the cooks saw it, their eyes lit up. They figured the fish would result in three or four dinners for each child.

So a big 'thank you' to Dan, his wife and the crew of Sea Venture.

Bob Walker
Cactus, Hunter Cherubini 37
Wofford Heights, CA


Regardless if our boats are drifting toward the rocks, a huge concern for the majority of people in this country is where our health care system is drifting. The last couple of months there have been letters in Latitude comparing care received by folks cruising with similar care here in Northern California. For example, in the March issue there was a letter about a reader's very short ambulance ride in San Francisco that cost $1,300.

Latitude's editorial response was that you didn't know why health care costs so much, but suggested that one factor might be high salaries — and cited the exceptional salary — $332,601 in one year — for a nurse working for the City of San Francisco. I agree. I would, however, like to point out that more than half of that money was for overtime, and that the nurse actually makes $63.80 an hour. Rather than blame the nurse for making that much in a year, you might want to look at why so much overtime was available/required. Through my association with working nurses, I have learned that poorly allocated and managed personnel is the culprit in many of the cases where there are exceptionally high salaries. It would have been a lot safer, and saved us all money, if the City had hired an additional nurse.

There are many factors that contribute to the outrageous cost of health care in this country. I, and many others, would argue that the most significant is the interjection of for-profit health insurance companies between the patient and the care. Health insurance companies swallow up 31 cents of every dollar paid to them in administrative costs. That is roughly $350 billion, which, in addition to the money we already contribute to health care though our taxes, would be enough to provide health care to all Americans, regardless of employment or economic status.

The answer to keeping our health care system from going up on the rocks is to eliminate the insurance companies from our basic health care, and to go to a single payer system. Now, before you recoil in fear, this is not socialism striking a wooden stake into the heart of capitalism. This is the way, like all other modern (capitalist) countries, for you and me and all those who contribute to this society, to have the basic health care that we deserve. Single payer means that the money paid out to medical providers comes from one single source, not the myriad of insurance companies whose principal motivation is to keep as much of it as possible.

Maybe someday we'll be able to afford to go to doctors in this country instead of having to sail off to St. Barth to get health care.

Capt. Joshua Gordon
San Francisco

Capt. Joshua — Our intent in reporting on the difference in cruiser health care costs in the United States versus other countries was to simply report that it exists and that it's dramatic, not to ignite a rehash of the familiar arguments for and against single payer health care. But since you brought it up, we're going to share our thoughts.

Many are against single payer health care because they say it's 'socialism'. They note that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once said the only problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money to pay for the things you want for yourself. But the concept of socialism has never bothered us, as the United States has never been remotely close to being purely capitalistic. Our objection to socialistic schemes such as a single payer health care system is that they would be run by the government, and the evidence is overwhelming that all levels of our government are monumentally incompetent and corrupt, and getting more so by the minute. One only need to look at the fiscal disasters at the local, state and federal levels, and the fact that the Obama administration — to which we're very sympathetic, by the way — seems to have every bit as many corrupt players as the Bush administration. It's hogs at the taxpayer trough on part of both people in government and the ones in private industry — many of whom used to be in government — whom they collude with.

You couldn't be more right, Joshua, it wasn't the nurse's fault that he/she made over $16,000 a month in overtime, it was the fault of politicians and public employee unions in San Francisco for creating and enforcing a system in which such atrocities against taxpayers — and patients — are allowed to thrive. Unfortunately, we don't think you can expect better from any branch of the U.S. government, which couldn't make a profit on a snow cone monopoly in hell.

Don't get us wrong, we think the problems with the health industry are no different than with the sub-prime credit industries, in that there are plenty of guilty parties in the private, public and non-profit sectors. So no, we're no great fans of the health insurance industry — nor are we of fans of the epidemic of medical malpractice frauds, disability frauds and all the rest. There is a mountain of money in the government's health industry, and there are way too many hogs at the trough seeking to profit inordinately and fraudulently.

We've come up with our own single payer health care system, one where each of us would be in charge of our own health care, and one which would be far more efficient than anything the government or private enterprise has been able to put together. It's a 'single payer' system in which those who want health care, pay for it themselves with the money the government and the health care industry are no longer allowed to take from them to operate their overpriced and inefficient systems. Stop for a minute and ask yourself why should we pay for your health care and why you should pay for ours? If that's such a good idea, maybe you should have to buy our car and we should have to buy yours.

Wait a minute, let us restate the situation a little more accurately. Why should our children and grandchildren have to pay for your and our health care when there isn't going to be anyone to pay for theirs? Does anybody else find it ironic that Bernie Madoff has been sent to prison for life for his $65 billion Ponzi scheme when, in the guise of the Social Security and Medicare, every President and Congress since the FDR administration has been working the identical fraud on American taxpayers? If people under age 45 had any realization of what was really going on, they'd overthrow the government — and with complete justification.

There are people who believe in 'nanny states' and people who believe in 'rugged individualism'. Since sailing is all about rugged individualism and personal responsibility, guess which philosophy we're partial to?


While reading the January Changes, I read your request for strategies to keep birds off mastheads. As the dockmaster at Cabo Isle Marina in Cabo San Lucas a number of years ago, I developed a strategy that worked pretty well — although better for masthead rather than fractional rigs.

As I walked around the marina, I would just give the genoa roller furling drums — which I could reach from the docks — a little spin. As little as a quarter of a turn, actually, since the furling lines and sheets prevented turning the drum any farther. But that quarter turn, transferred up to the swivel near the top of the mast, spooked the devil out of most roosting birds. Not only would they vacate immediately, they would often stay away for a few weeks.

Not to toot my own horn, but speaking of annoying 'wildlife', while cruising in the northern Sea of Cortez, I came across an utterly foolproof way of swatting flies. Using the technique, I almost couldn't miss. To my surprise and delight, I see that my old friend and writer Carolyn Shearlock shared the secret with the readers of the January edition of Cruising World. All you do is hold the swatter in one hand, putting pressure on the shaft with your thumb. With your other hand, pull the paddle end of the shaft back. Line it up with the fly from a good distance and let go, sort of like a catapult. The flies never see it coming and you can reel off a dozen hits in a row. I remember days spent in the upper Sea of Cortez where various boats compared their successful swatting streaks after having adopted this technique! There was abundant opportunity to use it.

By the way, I read your report about how the officials in St. Barth proposed to raise mooring fees dramatically, and that the publisher of Latitude and others were fighting it. Whatever happened?

Tim Schaaf
Jetstream, Leopard 47
Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Tim — Those birds at Cabo Isle must have been pansies, because down in Banderas Bay we often shook the living daylights out of one of Profligate's upper shrouds, causing the whole masthead to shudder, but the birds were still reluctant to budge. And even if they did, the bird — or one of his poop splattering buddies — would return to roost a short time later.

Speaking of flies in the Sea of Cortez, would you or anyone disagree with the assertion that Isla Ballena, right off Caleta Partida, is the fly capital of the world? On several occasions we've been stalled near that island in light air, at which point our boat was invaded by thousands of flies. We assumed that they'd quickly leave once the wind came up and we sailed away from their 'hood, but we were wrong. It seemed as though they wanted to get away as badly as we did.

As for the fees for anchoring — not mooring — at Gustavia's outer harbor, the proposal was to increase the price for boats such as our Leopard 45 to $900 U.S. a month! Thanks to the efforts of Fafou and others, and a little encouragement on our part, the monthly rate is now, depending on the exchange rate with the euro, about $240 a month for a Leopard 45. While we're not happy with the concept of having to pay for the privilege to anchor, we can live with it at that level. If we're not mistaken, it's still possible to anchor just around the corner at Shell Beach, or over at Columbie, for no charge at all.

Thinking of buying a medium-to-large powerboat? The captain of a 131-footer tied up at the quay in St. Barth told us that he pays $10,000 U.S. for a stern tie. When our jaw dropped, he noted that the biggest yachts that can fit into the inner harbor, the 200-footers, pay over $30,000 a month. "It's actually a bargain," he continued, "because over in St. Martin, I'd have to pay $30,000 a month for a stern tie. The reason most boats go over there and pay the higher rate is that captains don't like the surge that we sometimes get here in St. Barth, and because the young crews prefer the more active nightlife on that island. I don't mind the surge, and I get better work out of my crew when we're here in St. Barth because they can't afford an active nightlife."


This really happened to me, and I'm sticking to my story. I hope you print it.

A neighbor who sails and her friend asked me if I would take them for a daysail on San Diego Bay aboard my boat. I said I would. As we were leaving the dock on a Sunday afternoon, one of them, a nurse, took the bow lines and threw them onboard.

"You need to help me turn the boat," I told her, so she grabbed the lines again and pulled. But when I motored off the dock, she wasn't able to climb aboard. She ran down to the end of the dock and waited for me to pick her up again. It was a bad place for me to have to stop, as it was between two large boats, but I still tried to get her aboard. Unfortunately, my top shroud caught on the big anchor of one of the large boats while she was climbing on. The snag turned my boat sideways. I tried going in reverse with my engine, then went forward again, nicking another boat. Finally, we got away from the dock.

'Nurse Ratched' told me that I'd damaged both my boat and other boats, and that we should return to report it.

"My boat's fine and I don't think I hurt the other boats," I told her, so I continued out onto the bay. But Ratched wasn't having it, and stopped me from putting up the main.

"That's mutiny," I told her. "My boat doesn't need two captains." Because the two women weren't obeying my orders, I let them off at the fuel dock. Even though they abandoned me, I was able to take my boat out on the restful ocean because I know how to singlehand.

After a couple of hours, I started back. As I sailed into my slip, everyone was waiting for me, including the Harbor Patrol. They asked for my ID, so I got it for them. It checked out fine. They told me to be sure to let the other boatowners know about the accident in case there were insurance claims. But they looked over my boat for damages and found none.

Then I saw Ratched, and told her she'd never get on my boat again. A male friend of mine told me that Ratched was lucky. "In the old days they used to keel haul mutineers, and getting keel-hauled is no fun."

A female friend of mine was there, too, and told me that Ratched had also called my daughter and son to report me. After driving down to San Diego, my son met me in the parking lot. He told me to look at my car. I told him that someone had bumped into it in the parking lot and the fender had come apart, but that I'd had it fixed. He also checked the other boats I bumped, but couldn't find much wrong with them.

My son then took me out to eat and talk. He told me that he wanted to take me back home with him. This worried me, because I thought he might make me move away from the marina. I told him I'd move in with him, but reminded him that nobody had gotten hurt and that I loved living in the marina.

"I know you love living in the marina," he said, "but things are getting harder for you. I was very worried about you when I got the call about the accident."

After spending a couple of days at my son's place, he said he didn't want to see me unhappy and that I was hard to be around, so I could go back to the marina.

Once back in the marina, I saw my friend again who told me that Ratched had told the marina office and everyone else about the accident, and that she wished I would leave soon. But when I saw the owners of the other boats, they said everything was all right, and there would be no insurance claims. So it looks like I'll be around for some more sailing! But I now also realize what a big responsibility it is to be the captain of a boat.

San Diego

M.F. — We're glad that everything turned out all right. But it seems to us that a lot of people care about your health and welfare — Nurse Ratched being one of them.


With the 62nd running of the 125-mile Newport to Ensenada Race coming up on April 24, I'm reminded of an incident from my youth. Back in the mid '70s, after a few too many cold beers in Blackies by the Sea in Newport Beach, two of us then-young surfers concocted a liquor-induced dare to sail the other guy's 18-ft Pacific Cat in the following morning's race to Ensenada.

So at about 1 a.m., we found ourselves standing in line at a supermarket to buy the following supplies: canned food, beer, water, more beer, a can opener and even more beer. It was then that it began to hit me that perhaps I wasn't making the best decision of my then-short lifetime. But since the other guy wasn't backing out, I was too drunk, stupid and/or stubborn to give up either. While it's true that I was an experienced Hobie and Pacific Cat beach cat sailor, I'd never sailed either offshore or at night, as we would have to do in the Ensenada Race.

When I was in the 6th grade, I worked for Carter Pile, the owner of Newport Pacific Boats, and Mickey Munoz, one of the top West Coast surfers in the era of El Teléfono and El Quasimodo surfing moves. My job was sweeping the floors and doing whatever for 25 cents/hour. And I was stoked at having the job. Among other things, I busted up the mold for the Pacific Cat, and watched Pile get a tear in his eye watching all the years and hard work that had gone into the molds pass by.

During my time working for Pile and Munoz, I more than once heard them tell stories about doing the Ensenada Race with beach cats. In fact, I clearly remember Mickey saying: "At this time of year, there's a full moon, and if you sail down the throat of the moon during the night, you'll be heading close to Ensenada. When daylight comes, you'll be able to smell Ensenada, so just follow your nose!" What I didn't find out until later is that neither one of them had ever made it past Rosarito Beach.

Anyway, my friend and I met at 7 a.m. on the day of the race, at which time it became obvious that he hadn't sailed the cat in several years, so she wasn't in the best shape. Nevertheless, we trailered her down to 15th Street, and launched her on to the beach to do some very quick repairs and updates. After that, we duct taped the shackles so they wouldn't come apart during the rigorous trip to Ensenada, and put the beers in the storage areas in the back of the hulls. As we were doing this, my friend's portable radio was blaring some cool surf music. We finally wrapped the radio in a trash bag then, while it was still playing, gingerly duct taped it to the masthead. We hoped it would work all the way to the finish. While we'd been drunk the night before, at the time we did this we were just hungover, stupid . . . and working on a new drunk.

We were late to the noon start of the race by about two hours. Once we cleared Newport Harbor, we headed — as per Carter and Mickey's instructions — to the Pacific Rim. We weren't so stupid as to have not brought a compass or have written down the course to Ensenada. Unfortunately, in the process of reaching for a cold beer as we passed the end of the Newport breakwater, I knocked the compass overboard. At this point I was inclined to give up on our mission, but since my friend didn't seem to want to give up, I decided not to either. Besides, two of the very best, Pile and Munoz, had given us all the directions not once, but twice.

Because she was a light cat, we were able to overtake most of the entries in the Ensenada Race during daylight hours. But as night fell, my friend and I realized that our best bet was to try to follow the masthead light on some boat in front of us. Assuming, of course, the white light was on a boat racing to Ensenada and not a ship headed to China. By this time it was wet, and despite having brought warm clothes, we were cold.

After many hours passed, we spotted what we were sure was a masthead light, so we headed toward that boat to confirm that we were on course. We thought we were, because the moon was out and, as per Carter and Mickey's instructions, we were sailing towards it. As we closed on the masthead light, we could see that it was on a beautiful schooner that looked to be about 80 to 100 feet in length. Once we got within shouting distance, someone looked over the side at us with a shocked look on his face.

"What in the hell are you doing out here?" were the first words out of his mouth. "Are you lost? Are you insane?"

As our beer had long been consumed, we soberly explained our mission had begun after a night of drinking, and that we just wanted to know that we were on course. After assuring us that we were heading in the right direction, he asked us to stay alongside for a moment. He went below, and all of a sudden we could see lights going on throughout the boat and people moving around inside. A few minutes later the entire crew of the schooner was clinging to the lifelines and looking at us, while the owner of the schooner was telling his crew to have a look at "true sailors." He continued to say that, while we were wet and miserable, we were nonetheless the epitome of tried and true sailors. As we left them behind, he was saying something about the chateaubriand and wine they'd had for dinner, and how he wanted us to come aboard for dinner when we all got to Ensenada.

Yes, it was a stupid drunken idea, but not only did we meet them in Ensenada and have dinner aboard the schooner, we met up with them again the following year when we yet again raced the Pacific to Ensenada.

It's been something like 30 years since we sailed the Pacific Cat in the Ensenada Race, so I can no longer remember the name of the schooner or the owner. Can anybody help?

Doug Rugg
Costa Mesa

Doug — Given your state of preparation — or more accurately, your lack of it — it's a wonder that you survived. Especially since you must have misunderstood the business about the moon. The date of the full moon changes from year to year, while the date of the Ensenada Race is relatively constant. Furthermore, sailing "to the throat of the full moon" would not take you to Ensenada, but would rather have you sailing a constantly changing course, and ultimately to the west. Surely Munoz, who went on to sail to victory in an America's Cup with Dennis Conner, knew better and you just misunderstood him.

As daring as your accomplishment was, beach cat enthusiasts have since pushed the envelope much further. Not that we recommend anybody else try any of the following, but in '86 Tony Laurent and Daniel Prada sailed a Hobie 18 some 2,500 miles from Senegal, Africa, across the Atlantic Ocean to Guadeloupe in the French West Indies in a time of 18 days. We can't be sure if they were the first, however, as every French offshore sailor worth his salt seems to have sailed a beach cat across the Atlantic at least once.

In recent years, the beach cat bar has been raised even higher. Singlehander Vittorio Malingri covered the same Senegal-to-Guadeloupe course in just 13 days, 17 hours with a 20-ft beach cat. Then a little more than a year ago, Frenchmen Benoit Lequin, 33, and Pierre-Yves Moreau, 35, did a 2,700-mile Atlantic crossing with a beach cat in a time faster than any of the 240 large boats in the 2,700-mile Atlantic Rally for Cruisers.

Of course, how can we forget Alessandro di Benedetto, who was not only the first person to singlehand a beach cat across the Atlantic, but then spent two months doing the same thing from Japan to San Francisco.

Once again, we do not recommend any such attempts for our readers.



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