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March 2010

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Thank you for alerting Bay Area sailors to the State Water Resources Control Board’s (WRCB) proposed permit and fee ploy that would make marina operators — including the Bay’s yacht clubs — liable for the quality of the water that flows into their marinas from outside sources beyond their control.

It is particularly egregious that WRCB would pursue such a draconian regulatory scheme given there is no evidence that recreational boats in marinas are causing a water quality problem. There is no legitimate factual basis justifying WRCB’s imposition of permits and fees that would compel marinas to individually expend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to conduct the proposed water quality testing and monitoring, which would then have to be reported to state agencies.

Moreover, WRCB’s mandating such a major expenditure without tangible evidence of a problem caused by recreational boating and marinas is devoid of intellectual integrity, and unethical, inasmuch as it simply cannot not improve coastal water quality. Simply stated, if the water flowing through a coastal — including the Bay — marina cannot be controlled by any given marina, forcing marina operators to comply with this ineffective mandate appears to make as much sense as Mrs. Madoff's leaving the porch light on for Bernie.

The hyperbole of WRCB’s proposal is further underscored by the success of the Clean Marina Program conducted by the marina industry and recreational boaters. The Clean Marina Program has enhanced, and continues to enhance, the marine environment through voluntary participation. It has proven to be the most efficient and cost-effective approach to improving water quality in marinas. This program should be the preeminent method to address the state’s water quality goals for marinas.

Moreover, the inequity of this proposal is aggravated by the fact that public records unequivocally establish that local governments, not marinas or recreational boaters, have been among the worst gross polluters of the San Francisco and San Pablo bays, as well as the coastal waters adjoining them.

In '09, the Sausalito-Marin City Sanitary District’s total raw spillage out of Sausalito into the Bay was 775,000 gallons. In '08, there were thousands of gallons of raw flow from Sausalito’s sewers in February, and again in August. The fine for those '08 spills was $1.6 million. Notwithstanding that fine, during the week of January 18, 2010, the Sausalito-Marin City Sanitary District dumped another 40,000 gallons of raw sewage into the Bay.

During the storms that passed through the Bay Area in January, a total of 630,000 gallons of raw sewage spewed from the cities of Albany, Oakland, Alameda, Emeryville, Berkeley and Piedmont into the Bay at 47 spots, according to the environmental watchdog group San Francisco Baykeeper. That was miniscule however, compared with the 170 million gallons of partially processed sewage discharged from three East Bay Municipal Utility District 'wet weather' overflow plants on the eastern side of the Bay.

Given the lack of need for this marina permitting and fee proposal, why is the WRCB even putting such a draconian, unwanted proposal forward? Why isn’t WRCB cracking down on gross pollution by the Bay Area’s governmental entities? Is it because Sacramento bureaucrats, smarting from a 15% pay cut due to furloughs or the public’s three-to-one rejection of tax increases in last June’s plebiscite, want 'payback' against what they perceive to be wealthy yacht owners and their clubs?

One may never know the answer to what generated this superfluous WRCB proposition, but this much is certain: If this proposal is enacted, it will put a spike through the very heart of recreational sailing on San Francisco Bay, one the world’s finest sailing venues.

Tim Cronin
Ruby, Pacific Seacraft Dana 24

Tim — According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, "'nonpoint source pollution' (NPS) is the leading cause of water quality problems. These pollutants have harmful effects on drinking water supplies, recreation, fisheries and wildlife."

What is NPS? The EPA explains: "Unlike pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, NPS comes from many diffuse sources. NPS is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and ground waters. NPS can include excess fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides from agricultural lands and residential areas. Oil, grease and toxic chemicals from urban runoff and energy production. Sediment from improperly managed construction sites, crop and forest lands, and eroding streambanks. Salt from irrigation practices and acid drainage from abandoned mines. Bacteria and nutrients from livestock, pet wastes and faulty septic systems. Atmospheric deposition and hydromodification."

So as we understand the WRCB's proposal, the downstream 'victims' of NPS, the leading cause of water pollution, will be forced to pay for the monitoring of pollution. And will no doubt be charged with ameliorating a condition they have little if anything to do with creating. We all want clean water and a clean environment. The way to do that is to go after the primary causes, not by creating ineffectual proposals that punish the wrong people and take one more step in this once-great Golden State's seemingly inevitable march toward insolvency.

The other thing we find curious is that when there is some human mistake at a sewage treatment plant that allows gazillions of gallons of untreated or partially treated sewage into our bays and oceans, the sewage district — i.e. taxpayers — gets hit with the fine. Why aren't the individuals who screwed up, and the management that supervises them, hit with fines and termination?

It reminds us of an incident we heard about in the Caribbean over the winter. The captain of a new and very expensive mega sailboat was given an excellent employment contract. Despite the fact that the weather on New Year's Eve was stormy, and the port had been cleared out for safety, the captain and the entire crew went ashore, after anchoring the boat out, to celebrate. While they were celebrating, another big yacht dragged into the new yacht, causing some damage. As the damage had happened during the captain's watch, he was promptly sacked. Shouldn't government employees be held to the same standard?


I'm responding to your ‘creative fix’ remark in the February Letters, in which you said you were surprised that nobody wrote in with examples of sailors' starting their diesels without battery power. Many years ago, I hitched a ride from Papeete to San Diego on the schooner Nordlys. Mid-Pacific, our batteries were dead and we couldn't start the propulsion diesel — which was the only way we could charge the engine batteries.

I was not in the engine compartment at the time, but understand that the following was the procedure used to solve the problem: after the overhead valves were pried down, pieces of hacksaw blades were slipped under the rocker arms, which kept the valves open and prevented compression in the cylinders. Then, when we were sailing in such a stiff breeze that the rail was down, the transmission was put into gear. The forward motion through the water spun the non-folding prop, which rotated the compression-less engine. Once the engine was turning over as fast as it ever was going to, the fuel was turned on and the hacksaw blades removed. The engine roared to life. Success on the first try!

Bob Drude
Mill Valley


While we are all waiting for the America’s Cup races to actually take place, one national news commentator made the point that public interest in the event had been waning. That brings to mind that little has been said about it in recent issues of Latitude. No doubt that will change in the next few issues. Nonetheless, I will be very interested in what the publisher of Latitude has to say on the subject.

For myself, the last really great race was with Ted Turner at the helm. Of course, Dennis Conner put on a good show in Australia, too. In the future, I would like to see more attention paid to the meaning of the words in the original Deed of Trust.

Jim Hildinger
South Lake Tahoe

Jim — For the perspective of a true racer, the question would be more pertinent to Rob Grant, our Racing Editor. But if you want the publisher's unvarnished 'Joe Sailor' opinion, here goes:

"I've never been that taken with the match racing concept, as it often results in races that are no more exciting than a nil-nil soccer match. If there was to be a pinnacle international sailing event other than around-the-world or transoceanic races, I'd vote for fleet racing among three-boat national teams, with a small boat, a medium-sized boat, and a big boat. It would be held every two years. One or two of the classes would be one-design — we always thought the 'design-competition' aspect of the American's Cup was overblown and beside the point — to keep down the cost and even out the competition. There would be three inshore races, a medium distance race, and a long distance race. In other words, it would be just like the old Admiral's Cup in England, and to a lesser extent like the Pan Am Clipper Cup and Kenwood Cup off Honolulu. And the boats would have to be fast boats, not like the relative slugs of past America's Cups. The event would have to be held in reasonably strong wind — which would eliminate venues like San Diego and Valencia. I know my opinion will be a minority one and it would never 'sell', but I believe it would have significantly more 'winners', personalities, nuances and texture."


We are delighted to see our Hallberg-Rassy 38 Rägeboge on the front cover of Latitude 38. My son Raphael is so proud to be on the cover that he hasn’t stopped talking about it and showing everyone. I wasn’t even aware of it until a friend of mine emailed me with a shy, "Heinz, that's your boat on the cover of Latitude, isn't it?"

Again, thank you, we're very honored.

Heinz Baumann
Rägeboge, Hallberg-Rassy 38
Basilea, Switzerland

Heinz — The pleasure was ours. Good sailing in '10!


Having ‘jumped the puddle’ to the South Pacific last year, we want to offer future cruisers and others a useful tip. Before you leave for far distant shores, look up DAN, Diver’s Alert Network, at This organization provides emergency evacuation for members for any accident — it doesn't have to be a diving accident — or illness. So if you need to get from the boonies to someplace that can provide first-rate medical treatment for a life-threatening illness or accident, you just call one toll-free number and DAN handles all the details. The cost is ridiculously inexpensive for the basic membership. It costs $35/year for a single, and $55/year for a family membership. You can join online and charge it to a credit card.

People talk about 'no brainers', but in this case it really applies. DAN membership could save you tens of thousands of dollars if you should have to shoulder the expense of emergency evacuation yourself. We know of many people who have been DAN members, and who have been very glad that they were. We also know people who didn't have it, suffered an accident or illness, and were stuck with huge expenses trying to get to competent med care.

In the interest of full disclosure, we have no affiliation with DAN. We just think it's a good idea, and have been members since '03.

Philip DiNuovo & Leslie Linkkila
Carina, Mason 33
Kingston, WA / Neiafu, Tonga

Philip and Leslie — We're going to sign up right now. Back in the mid-'80s, we were doing Sea of Cortez Sailing Week on our Olson 30 when we blew a disc at Caleta Partida. The pain was excruciating, but we tried to gut it out — and probably greatly worsened our condition — by pounding on the floor of a hotel room at the Los Arcos Hotel. We did that because there was no way we could sit upright in a commercial plane to the States, and even back then the cost of a medevac flight from La Paz to L.A. was $25,000.

Our having DAN, things eventually got so bad that friends finally dragged us to the Navy Hospital in La Paz, where we were given some really good drugs. They then used our credit card to buy six seats on an Aero Mexico commercial flight. The six seats were removed so we could fly north on a stretcher in a cordoned off area of the plane.

If anyone has firsthand experience with DAN, we'd love to hear about it. Email Richard.


The accompanying photos are of the two young Beashel boys sailing on the south end of Lake Macquarie, Australia. The older of the two is 18 months old, proving that they start them young Down Under. The boys are the sons of Adam and Lanee Beashel.

The boat was built by the boys' grandfather, Ken Beashel, a sailing legend in the Sydney area. Ken designed, built, and sailed most of the skiffs found locally, and garnered numerous championships over the years. Adam, one of Ken's sons, is the guy you saw up the mast of Team New Zealand when they raced in the America's Cup. Colin, Ken's other son, was at the helm on a bunch of Australian America's Cup challengers, and a top skiff sailor in his own right. Colin now runs the family boat shop in Elvina Bay, Pittwater.

Ken put a bowsprit on the grandkids' little skiff because he plans to fit a different rig later, including a ballooner. Unlike the 'real' skiffs, the grandkids' skiff has a keel with a bulb.

I used to race against Ken in a variety of boats in the '60s and '70s, so I stopped to visit when I cruised down here with my boat. The Beashel spread is on Lake Macquarie and its front door about 30 feet from the water's edge, which has a gently shelving beach. Their Townson 38 is moored just offshore. Pretty sweet.

Father and sons were frolicking in the water when we arrived. The rest of the day was spent at a nearby sailing club, watching a fleet of 10-footers racing for the state championships. The 10-footers are gaff-rigged, open designs with long booms and bowsprits, and sailed by three men. It's very hard to be more water-oriented than this!

Warwick 'Commodore' Tompkins
Flashgirl, Wylie 38+
Pittwater, Australia


Sure, the British can knock you on the head as well as anyone.

No less than the Bay Area’s Stan Honey came out in Latitude last month to say. "The French world of offshore sailing is a very closed world, and it is a huge honor to have them ask me to come along." I would expect nothing less of Honey for a quote like that to sum it all up.

Now to the quote of the day, from Loïck Peyron of France, who is a floater on Alinghi 5: "I have the chance to learn something every day. I love to jump from one boat to another. A year ago I was sailing around the world on my own, and here I am sharing with tremendous guys with a lot of different sailing areas, from the Volvo Race, from the Cup. For me, it is the first time that I have felt the acceleration of a small multihull, like I love to do on the Swiss lakes, like the D35 or the small really light ones. But Alinghi 5 has the power of a big offshore multi, and the acceleration of a small multihull. It is the first time I have felt both these two feelings.

"It is quite interesting to be at the helm of a boat like this, having behind me Mr. Butterworth, and in front of me, Mr. Warwick [Fleury], and Simon [Daubney], stars I have seen in the papers for so many years. And I have to say, 'OK, guys and now we have to do that. . .' And so for me, that is quite interesting.”

Despite all the whining from the TV broadcast mentality crowd, I think the current America's Cup is good for sailing.

One last quote from Honey: "Franck Cammas is an incredible athlete, but he is also a very smart engineer who thinks things through technically. He's a very, very smart guy."

I don’t know what these French guys have been drinking, but I want some, because they ain't like us.

Brad Smith
Hobie 18
Santa Cruz

Brad — We don't really understand what you're getting at, particularly how Brits hitting you over the head has anything to do with the French offshore world being a very closed one. If your point is that the French are more passionate about offshore sailing than the people of any other country — including New Zealand — we'd have to agree with you. What many people may not realize is that almost all of the French sailing greats come from southern Brittany, where the sailing conditions are very difficult, and the often small and wiry French sailors are up to the challenge.


In explaining the many virtues of Thailand, you mentioned that one of them is: "If you’re a lonely guy, you can find an attractive young Thai ‘girlfriend’ in about 10 minutes on any night of the week. Even if you’re 80 years old."

That might be wonderful for old, fat, unattractive men who don’t care about exploiting other people’s misery, but I'm sure that it's not so wonderful for the people of Thailand. I am not a puritan, nor do I believe that all relations have to be between people of a similar age. But I do believe that sex should be something for the mutual enjoyment of all parties concerned, not entered into because one person is in poverty. Then it’s exploitation.

As for the age differences, there's a reason why we have statutory rape laws in the U.S. Maybe we're overly restrictive, but there is a place for them. Maybe you disagree and think that it’s fine for senior men in the United States to have sex with 12- or 14-year-old girls. Or maybe you just feel that it’s okay in Thailand, but not in the United States.

And please don’t try to claim that you were only reporting on the facts. From the context, it was clear that you were saying this is a positive thing.

John Reimann
Y-Knot, Catalina 36

John — Who said anything about 12-year-old girls? Since you completely missed the context, we'll give you our two-word idea of what should be done with men who prey on underage girl and boys: Death penalty. Need any more clarification?

As for sexual and other relationships between Thai women of age and Western men, we don't claim to begin to understand them, but we can assure you that they are much more nuanced and complicated than you think. Certainly some of it — heck, a whole lot of it — is slam-bam-never-see-you-again sex. But judging from the nearly nonstop shrieks of the five million or so bar girls we walked by in Thailand, nobody was holding a gun to their head and making them giggle. For all we know, many of them think their line of work is preferable to being married off against their will for money by their parents to some Thai boy or man they hate — particularly if there is some chance they can get their hooks into a Western male.

One of the things that surprised us on our recent trip to Thailand was learning that many Thai women — and apparently many Vietnamese and Malaysian women, too — prefer relationships with Western men. We're told that many Thai women often view even old and fat Western men as being more romantic, courteous, and respectful and less abusive than Thai men. Apparently the latter have a reputation for liking to spend time with other men drinking, gambling and visiting prostitutes. Google around and you'll see that we're not making this up.

The other thing that may not be obvious from Oakland is that women in other parts of the world have very different concepts of what makes a man desirable. About 20 years ago, we sailed Big O to Fantasy Island in Costa Rica's Gulf of Nicoya. The place was then owned by an 82-year-old retired sailor from California's Central Valley. While we were at the bar, a gorgeous 23-year old Filipino girl with an electric smile and terrific personality introduced herself as the wife of the owner. She explained that they'd met while he was traveling in the Philippines and had fallen in love. And she was as serious as she was gorgeous. Who knows, maybe she saw a payday later on for her and her family, but she was certainly enjoying her life with her husband in Costa Rica.

One last curious thing about Thailand. For all its reputation as the sex capital of the world, the Thai people avoid public displays of affection. While it's changing in Bangkok and the cosmopolitan areas, Thai couples generally don't hold hands, hug, kiss, or even air kiss. About as intimate they get is sniffing each other's necks — we're not making this up — from a distance.


I’d like to comment on Dave Ganapoler’s December letter regarding right of way. Not to pick on Dave, but I'm sure we've all heard, "Starboard!” and thought, “Huh?”

There’s a good reason why the stand-on vessel should not alter course in a crossing situation, and why the give-way vessel should make “early and substantial changes” in course. Let’s say you’re sailing on starboard, and you decide to head up a bit to cross behind a powerboat. The conscientious powerboat operator is going to alter course a bit to port, to pass behind you, and so on, and the next thing you know you’re the Andrea Doria.

The other possibility is being the victim of a not-so-conscientious operator, which happened to me on Lake Erie. The appropriately named Pirate Clipper, a 6-pack charter fishing boat, was motoring slowly on a converging course with nobody at the helm. I altered course to pass astern, and ended up sailing — at 15 knots — over some bait box contraption they were dragging, which damaged my boat. I should have made a more radical course alteration, or sounded a horn, but years of sailing among other experienced boaters — both power and sail — on San Francisco Bay lulled me into thinking that most boaters have some idea how to operate their vessels and at least some awareness of the Rules of the Road. Bad assumption.

P.S. Keep up the good work. Latitude is one of the ways I survive the snow.

Bill Quigley
Tatiana, Farrier 32
Alameda / Columbus, OH

Bill — Younger Latitude readers may not be familiar with the Andrea Doria, so we'll fill in the blank. The Andrea Doria was an elegant 700-ft luxury cruise ship that carried 1,200 passengers and 500 crew. She was owned by the Italian Line, and was the pride of post-World War II Italy before transatlantic jet travel took over. The Andrea Doria collided with the Swedish American Line's 525-ft Stockholm off Nantucket Island on July 25, 1956. The Andrea Doria had been inbound for New York, the Stockholm had just left New York for Sweden. Struck on her beam, the top-heavy Andrea Doria immediately started to list so severely that half of her lifeboats were unusable. To make matters worse, many of the Italian crew abandoned the passengers and rushed into the lifeboats. Fortunately, only 46 people died, many of them as a result of the impact and immediate flooding. The Andrea Doria sank the next morning, the last of the great transatlantic ships to go to the bottom.

It's hard to believe, but despite heavy coverage in the press, no determination of the cause(s) of the accident was ever published. This was apparently a result of an out-of-court settlement between the two shipping companies.


In the February 8 'Lectronic, you asked Latitude readers if we thought you were being too harsh on Jessica Watson and Abby Sunderland, the two 16-year-olds who are attempting to singlehand around the world non-stop via the Southern Ocean. I don’t think Latitude has been too harsh, and if either or both of them make it, I'm sure you'll happily lead the celebration and eat a bit of crow.

I don’t know of any sailors who would have taken off — like Abby did — with so little preparation and testing, and all by a volunteer and resource-challenged shore crew. Power generation and power output is pretty easy to check, so Latitude's dig in that regard was more than fair.

I don’t mind that the kids, Jessica and Abby — God bless ‘em and keep ‘em — don’t know any better. But their parents are another story.

I don’t know anything about Jess, but it seems pretty clear to me that Abby wouldn’t get to Catalina without her family's active support. That said, life is all about choices and, for the moment, they have been made. Abby is underway, and it would be less then charitable to wish her and her family anything less then fair winds and a following sea.

Christopher Korody
Se Vuela, J/32
Marina del Rey

Christopher — For the record, if either or both of the girls make it around as planned — and even though Watson is halfway around, we still don't think either will — there is no way we could or would deny what they had accomplished. We'd still think it was idiotic and irresponsible on the part of their parents to have let them make the attempts.


I think Latitude has been right on about Abby Sunderland. After reading the heartfelt daily posts from her brother Zac during his circumnavigation, I felt as if he was my son or brother or fellow sailor. Abby, on the other hand, seems to think of herself as a Hollywood starlet, insulated and isolated from reality. Her thing is all slick and glossy.

After Zac came home and rumors of Abby’s trip started to circulate, I couldn’t believe my ears. What mother/father would willingly sacrifice their 16-year-old daughter to the trials of the sea? After Zac’s hair-raising trials, I cannot imagine allowing my daughter to follow in his footsteps. It's the gender thing! Not that there is difference in talent, but I would be concerned for her virtue. You know, pirates and so forth.

Personally, I don't believe Abby has been "sailing all her life." From what I can tell, the family has been without a boat for many years, and they live 30 miles inland.

Most of all, I'm concerned about Abby's boat. We all know how many repairs Zac had to have made to his boat. Nonetheless, I wish Abby the best, and will continue to follow and root for her.

Name Withheld By Request
Planet Earth

N.W.B.R. — It's a common misconception that Abby plans to "follow in Zac's footsteps." Nothing could be farther from the truth. Zac took a relatively easy route, and stopped many times for repairs. Abby, on the other hand, plans to not just sail around non-stop, but via the treacherous Southern Ocean. This is an enormously more difficult challenge because of the much more severe weather and greater stresses on the boat's systems. Sailors like Yves Parlier have managed to effect miraculous repairs to their damaged boats on such routes, but Abby ain't no Yves.


I came down on the Ha-Ha this year, and have stayed in Cabo ever since. After Abby Sunderland pulled in with electrical problems, I saw her and her parents working on the boat.

Although I'm also a bit skeptical about a 16-year-old’s ability to solo circumnavigate, Robin Lee Graham sailed his Lapworth 24 Gladiator three-quarters of the way around the world when he was that age. And his was a much more dangerous prospect as, unlike Abby's fully-equipped Open 40 Wild Eyes, Graham's boat didn't have a watermaker, AIS, radar reflectors, electronics, GPS or a reliable way to communicate with land. His trip was therefore much more dangerous.

I'm am not passing judgment, but I did see Abby up the mast doing some, if not all, of the work on her boat. As she has already made her choice, we can only wish her luck and see what happens.

Tim Marsolais, Crew
Marishanna, Wylie 39
San Francisco

Tim — While Robin Lee Graham's circumnavigation was much harder because his boat and systems were much more primitive, he — like Zac Sunderland — sailed a much easier course. Around-the-world, solo, non-stop, via the Southern Ocean, is a monster challenge.


Latitude is being too hard on Abby.

Vince Brackett
Planet Earth


Too harsh.

Dale DeHart


Your points could have been made in a much better manner. I agree,16-year-olds sailing around the world is foolish at best. But sarcasm sucks.

Daniel G. Hayes
Planet Earth


I don't believe Latitude's coverage of Abby and Jessica has been mean. Furthermore, I appreciated and enjoyed the unnecessary sarcasm. My disdain for Abby runs deeper than for Jessica, and time will tell if her lavishly sponsored joyride/publicity stunt will pay off as well for her as it did for her brother.

Having tried to put together a bluewater cruising boat and the finances necessary for cruising with my wife and four kids, then losing the boat — selling her at quite a loss — due to the economy, I will certainly think twice about using the products of the sponsors of Abby’s boat. Not as if I would wear those shoes anyway. Marine products are expensive enough, and while I will never deny the attempt of a company to make as much money as they are able, I hate to see the profits of my boat gear purchases going to such a waste. And I know that I'm not alone in feeling this way.

And I’m sure the world will hold its breath if Abby drops her satphone while adding highlights to her hair for her blog photos, and loses contact with her folks.

Name Withheld By Request
Channel Islands


If anything, I think Latitude has given these girls — and the other kids sailing around the world — too much attention. These kids seem to be actors in spectacles developed and managed by adults and enabled by a too-eager-to-please press.

I was in elementary school when Robin Lee Graham sailed Dove and Dove II around the world. As I recall, the only coverage of the trip was an article every few years in National Geographic. Graham later wrote a very good book about the whole adventure. The press in those days covered only what he actually accomplished, not up-to-the-minute reports of what he planned to do, wanted to do, or thought he could do.

I thought the coverage of Zac Sunderland's circumnavigation was a bit too breathless for a kid who was met by his parents at every port with a whole support team. It left me wondering how much he did, and how much he did as he was told. What did he learn along the way? And was there a point to it other than to garner attention?

I find the whole spectacle of 'adventurers' seeking sponsorship so they can go do something fun for them — and of dubious value to anyone else — to be somewhat decadent. And in the case of kids, spurred on by publicity seeking parents, it's even worse.

It seems to me that young Jessica Watson knows what she is doing, and is doing it well. Bully for her. But this Abby girl seems only to be seeking attention. If she wanted to prove she was capable of sailing around the world, she should have started with a manageable voyage on a boat she could handle. As for running short of electrical power on the way to Cabo, she could have saved a lot of energy by waving goodbye and telling us her story after she finished her voyage. I don't think the world needs daily broadcasts.

If Abby could have proved herself with a voyage to Hawaii or Panama — or wherever — then she could have fine-tuned her boat and carried on. If she found herself too weak or too scared or too bored, she could quit and try again when she has grown up. But she can’t take any of those prudent steps because her goal is to be the youngest. For that, she must seek money now and sail now, no matter if she's ready or not.

I'm much more impressed by people who take off and learn to live at sea, whether retirees or relatively young. Or like the surfer girl Liz Clark, who is often featured in Latitude. There is a young person who seems to be learning from life, gaining independence, and achieving various personal goals — but not waving them in front of us, asking for our money, or unduly relying on outside assistance.

I don't see the Robin Lee Graham spirit in the two girls, so even if they get around the globe at their young age, their accomplishments will seem hollow.

Jonathan Ogle
Grumpy old fart
Serendipity, Pisces 21

Jonathan — While Liz Clark is engaged in a very different kind of adventure than Jessica or Abby, and has often sought to avoid rather than get publicity, it must be noted that she couldn't be doing what she's been doing without a large amount of financial support from her parents and others. On the other hand, Liz hasn't shied away from months and months of the lowest grunt work on her boat in the most unpleasant conditions.


'Harsh' is not a strong enough word! Your 'holier than thou' attitude is way over the top. In reading your magazine, I have learned to read the letters, but not the replies.

Robert Lockwood
Celebration, Gulfstar 50

Robert — Ouch! But thank you. While we realize that there is no way we can please all our readers, it's important to get a good slam every now and then to encourage us to review our opinions and points of view.


I think your coverage of most stories is even-handed and I always like the subtle humor. So you've been doing just fine with regard to Jessica and Abby.

As I write this, Jessica is more than halfway around the world, and doing well managing her boat's systems — even after some very seriously nasty weather that caused her boat to be knocked down. She's doing it, so what else can I say, but 'Go Aussie, Go!'

As for Abby, if she — and the adults around her — had announced that she had been doing a shakedown sea trial to Cabo, that would have made sense. But we all know she only stopped in Cabo because she had to "to repair and revamp some systems." Specifically, she was using more amps per day than she was generating. Most experienced sailors I know would have cut back and managed, and repaired as they went, as opposed to going to mass storage and putting more stuff aboard.

A 7- to 14-day singlehanded voyage would have been a proper shakedown for Sunderland before attempting a non-stop circumnavigation via the Southern Ocean. I think there was too little preparation of the skipper and the boat. As time has marched on, it looks more and more as if they are operating under the pressure of getting her around before she's too old for the record.

Nonetheless, I wish both girls the best of luck. I also hope they stay safe, keep their harnesses on, stay with their boats, and return safely to their families with new life skills attained only on a voyage that would test any person.

Keith MacKenzie
Vancouver B.C.


My question is for those who have been and continue to be enthusiastic supporters of 16-year-olds Jessica and Abby. If either girl were to go permanently missing in the Southern Ocean, would you feel a smidgen of responsibility?

Mike Johnston, Jr.


I have been writing a weekly piece about Jessica Watson’s progress on her circumnavigation for While I admire her sailing abilities and courage — and now that of Abby — I am nevertheless left with one nagging question. If either or both of these adolescent adventurers should meet with disaster, should their parents be charged by authorities with child endangerment?

Ray Pendleton


Why do you have to be critical of either? Why not just report what is happening and let your readers form their own opinions? Most of them can think for themselves.

Curtis G. Smith
Planet Earth

Curtis — As arrogant as this might make us sound, most casual sailors don't have enough knowledge about the proposed trips to "think for themselves." Specifically, many people assume that Abby will be "following in Zac's footsteps." This would be like saying somebody climbing Mt. Everest is following in the footsteps of someone who climbed Mt. St. Helens and who had R&R crews every 100 yards.

Besides, we think it's our responsibility to be critical of what we believe are pointless publicity stunts that recklessly put the lives of minors at risk. If we prevent even one stage mother or father from encouraging their 14-year-old daughter to attempt to sail solo around the world for fame or glory, we'll feel our efforts have been worthwhile.


Latitude hasn't been nearly as hard on Abby as the Southern Ocean will be if she gets there. Personally, I think this whole age-based record stuff is for the birds anyway. Once we get into this challenge of being the youngest or whatever, any record will be fleeting. By the time there’s an eight-year-old circumnavigating solo, no one will remember who Abby Sunderland was because she’s not really pushing the limits of human endeavor.

Having said this, I know the risks for the girls are real, and I wish them well. I’m just not sure I understand the point.

Andy Crawford
Hope, Cal 25
Long Beach


More interesting to us than Jessica Watson and Abby Sunderland is what's up with Jeanne Socrates. You’ve written about her and her Najad 380 Nereida before, but do you realize that she, at least to our understanding, is the 'most senior woman' to have done a singlehanded circumnavigation? And she's attempting another one via the Southern Ocean!

When I was 16, as Abby and Jessica are now, I could have sailed around the world with the support systems they seem to be getting — no sweat. But Socrates, well into Social Security age, that's something to get excited about.

Scott Stolnitz
Beach House, Switch 51
Papeete, Tahiti / Marina del Rey

Scott — You raise a good question. What would be more impressive, a heavily supported 16-year-old girl singlehanding around the world for fame and glory or a self-funded 60-something-year-old woman doing the same thing for personal satisfaction?

In case you missed it, an autopilot control unit malfunction off southern Mexico in '08 left Socrates 60 miles short of completing a singlehanded circumnavigation — but we still consider her to have finished. Right now she's in South Africa finalizing an engine replacement so she can continue her attempt to sail solo around via the Southern Ocean. At last word, she hopes to make it to this summer's start of the Singlehanded TransPac.

Unlike the kids, Socrates, who prefers not to play up her age, does not have a big 'support team'. And for the record, she's told us that she has no way of confirming that hers would be a real record. Follow her trip at


Is Latitude being too hard on the kids? You just hit with words. What the Southern Ocean hits with is much harsher.

I am following Jessica, and she's doing well. She should make it unless she has a major breakdown or gets hit by a big storm.

Abby is another story. I'm still trying to understand who did the math with her power generating versus power consumption problem that forced her into Cabo.

Greg Clausen
Wisdom, Santana 30/30
Marin County

Greg — A major breakdown or a big storm are the two biggest challenges any voyager faces, along with physical and psychological stresses. Even though Watson has been doing great and is more than halfway around, we still think her attempt is going to be done in by some kind of mechanical failure.


When Abby starts out for the second time, let's hope she finally has everything she needs — like a spare fork and spoon. She must have knives. And spare pens or pencils. Windspeed and direction instruments. A charging system. She probably didn't have time for a windvane.

I believe the coverage from Latitude has been fair and polite enough. Personally, I’d love to be able fly around on an Open 40. But at this point I think Jessica's Pink Lady is the more capable and prepared vessel. I sincerely wish Abby the best, and Jessica has suggested that we adults shouldn't be choosing sides.

David Dodds
BoulderDash, Precision 23
Boulder, CO


Latitude probably would have been critical of the Children's Crusade in the 12th century, when something like 30,000 children in France and Germany took it upon themselves to travel to the Holy Land and convert the Muslims to Christianity. Sure, most of the kids never made it to the Holy Land because the Med didn't part as they expected it to. And the few who set out by boat were shipwrecked off Sardinia or sold into slavery in Tunisia. But they had good intentions. And imagine how great it would have been if they succeeded.

Jonathan Ross

Jonathan — Historians believe the 'children' in the so-called Children's Crusade were actually wandering poor people, and that much of the alleged facts are nonsense.


If Abby is old enough to go to sea, she’s old enough to be held to the same standards as anyone else. As the captain of her vessel, she's responsible for its safety and good order at all times — without exception. Any errors in planning, preparation or performance are, by definition, her responsibility. Latitude has been paying her the respect of treating her as she has asked to be treated — as a full-fledged sailor, who, before she leaves, should be "ready in all respects for sea."

Beyond that, I think that the ethics of responsible journalism would call upon Latitude to emphasize the need for adequate preparation for a long voyage. Let’s not encourage the naïve and excessively optimistic to throw a few cans of tuna into a locker and head for the far beyond.

If Abby is “only 16,” maybe she should stop in Puerto Vallarta and enjoy the summer. If she really is going around alone, she’s going to grow up quickly, and will no doubt return to us a young adult. Latitude, as it should, is helping to start that process by holding her to adult standards from the start.

Bob Schilling
Tuckernuck, Cherubini 44
Long Beach, CA


Latitude hasn't treated the girls as harshly as high latitude storms will. On a voyage such as this, Abby and her shore team should be very, very hard on themselves.

Lawrence Riley
Planet Earth


Your treatment of the two sailors has been fair.

Bill Sewall
San Jose


Latitude’s coverage of the kids’ attempts to circumnavigate — especially Abby’s — has indeed been churlish. But then Latitude has been getting ever-rastier for some time.

Legitimate are concerns over whether the girls are mature and experienced enough. And it’s natural to hear of their ages and think of that 16-year-old girl who damn near ran you over while texting. When you consider historians' reports of numerous square-rigger captains who were 19, however, and consider how many young women are now rising above alpha males running businesses, it seems plenty plausible for a couple of teenage girls to sail the globe in modern boats equipped with the latest labor-saving and risk-reducing devices.

It’s not just coverage of the girls: When Latitude was young, it seemed edited by a Miata driver. It was agile, light and fun. In recent years it’s sometimes seems driven by an angry tailgater in a jacked-up pick-up truck.

Brooks Townes
Weaverville, NC

Brooks — "An angry tailgater in a jacked-up pick-up truck?" You sure you got the right people? We're the ones who are deeply bothered that our government won't let us buy a VW diesel that gets 55 miles to the gallon and lasts for 300,000 miles — such as were available 30 years ago. They might not be good for angry tail-gating, but they are functional transportation, and would meet with our stated but unrealized national goals of reducing dependence on foreign oil and reducing the carbon impact on the planet.

It's true that there were square-rigger captains as young as 19. But we can't help thinking that they'd already had a lot of harsh ocean experience — maybe 10 years — before they got those positions. In any event, as we've written before, if somebody is 18 and wants to sail around the world in a bathtub, god bless, they are no longer minors and they can make their own decisions.


Yes! You have been too harsh on Jessica and Abby.

Teresa Morey
Planet Earth

Teresa — For what it's worth, the 'Lectronic piece that sparked accusations of our being "too harsh" was written by Latitude's LaDonna Bubak. It struck the publisher as being a wee bit harsh, but we appreciated the unvarnished opinion of our female editor.


I'm concerned about the kids. The one you need to be hard on is Abby’s father for sending her out before she'd even done a decent shakedown cruise. He did the same thing with Zac. Check out how many times Zac broke down.

Good luck, Abby. You'll need it.

Name Withheld By Request
Planet Earth


You are right on with your concerns. It's ridiculous for both Jessica and Abby. And more so for the parents.

Richard Tirrell
Carol Marie, Islander Bahama 30
Cabrillo Marina, San Pedro


I just thought I'd make a small correction for you. Whenever you mention the 70-ft catamaran Humu Humu, you say that she was designed by Morrelli & Melvin. Actually, she was designed by Gino Morrelli and Rudy Choy of Hawaii.

By the way, we're cruising Aita Pe'ape'a, our 46-year-old 33-ft Rudy Choy-designed cat in the South Pacific. Readers can check us out at

Tristan & Mindy Nyby
Aita Pe'ape'a, Choy 33
Los Angeles

Readers — Tristan and Mindy are correct. In the early years, we usually identified David Crowe's Nuevo Vallarta-based Humu Humu as a Morrelli/Choy 70. But as the years went on, and the Morrelli & Melvin firm became ever more famous, Morrelli & Melvin instead of Morrelli & Choy began to slip off our tongue and keyboard. Our apologies.

As for Tristan and Mindy's invitation for readers to check out their blog, we have to advise caution. The photos of them and their boat in the South Pacific are enough to make anyone sitting at a desk in California sick with envy. And their reports, such as the one that follows, won't make you feel much better:

"It's been calm — virtually no wind and stifling hot! We’ve been waking up to 85-degree heat with 91% humidity. Luckily, the water is still cool and refreshing. We decided to take advantage of the calm seas and head to Maninita, the southernmost anchorage in the group. It was beautiful — a clear shallow lagoon surrounded by a vibrant reef. We spent a few days on the island with our friends Noah and Vickie from Serenus, as well as Kevin and Brandie and their kids, who are transplants from Texas now living on Eueiki Island. We, of course, spent our time snorkeling and exploring, but Noah and Kevin also went spearfishing and came back with a prize — a dog tooth tuna that must have weighed at least 150 pounds. It was a tasty BBQ that evening!"

Think you can take more?

"After Maninita, we spent a few days in Kenutu and then meandered over to Port Maurelle. All were beautiful — but hot! On a particularly sweltering day, we escaped the boat for a walk, and found a trail leading us into the bush with tons of mango trees. We were overpowered by the pungent smell of rotting mangoes, which was oddly comforting, and reminded us — hey, we’re in the tropics! We picked through the fruit on the ground and had a delicious snack on our walk. At the end of the trail we were greeted by two children pushing an empty wheelbarrow around. They led us into a charming village with a beautiful white sand beach."

We're hoping for a more detailed report from the couple on what it's like to cruise the South Pacific aboard a small cat that's nearly 50 years old.


In a recent 'Lectronic, you wondered whether any sporting event has been delayed as much as the 33rd America's Cup. The answer is yes! The Mavericks Surf Contest here at Pillar Point.

Alan Smith
Pillar Point

Readers — Mavericks is a world-renowned big wave break a half-mile off Half Moon Bay. Every winter between November and March, a handful of the world's best surfers wait to see if the stars will align to offer the giant 50-ft breakers the spot is famous for. Some years they're disappointed. But when conditions are deemed perfect, 24 contestants are given 24 hours' notice to get themselves and their boards to Northern California for some of the most awe-inspiring wave-riding on earth.


In the story about John Connolly of Modern Sailing that was in February's Sightings, you referenced the quote "He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches." While not the precise wording originally used, it's close enough for government work.

However, H.L. Mencken? Not remotely close. It was George Bernard Shaw.

Lee Turner

Lee — What a careless error! That's what we get for only checking the first five Google search results.


Sorry I’m so late in writing, but we just arrived in Hilo from the Marquesas, and it's taken awhile for us to get through the backlog of Latitudes. My little correction is on a response you made to Roger Behnken in the October '09 Letters.

In your response, you say that a boat was attacked on the Pacific Coast of Colombia last year, and the crew "only survived because they attracted the attention of another cruising boat that happened to be near by."

First, we didn’t just "happen to be near by," we were cruising together for this kind of security.

Second, the attack didn’t occur in Colombia, but rather Punta Pedernales, Ecuador. We — our crew and the crew of the other boat — anchored at Punta Pedernales that evening, even though it was a terrible anchorage and almost completely unprotected, because if we'd kept going we would have arrived at our next stop, Punta Galera, Ecuador, after dark.

The attack was pretty much as Latitude described it — armed men boarded our friends’ boat and threatened them. At one point the male member of the husband/wife crew was pinned to the cockpit settee with a gun in his mouth. This is what got the female member of the crew screaming, and it's what woke my wife, who woke me. The noise we made — including shooting off two SOLAS grade parachute flares — scared the attackers. They fled after taking a portable GPS and about $40.

My point is that, with the exception of the coast north of Tumaco to about Cabo Corrientes, the Pacific coast of Colombia is pretty safe. At least that’s how I felt when we were there. Every port we went into had a marine base, complete with Boston Whalers fully rigged with .50-caliber machine guns mounted at the bow. All the solders were well-trained and equipped in new uniforms with new automatic rifles. I always felt that if we were boarded, the cavalry would be there in seconds.

The attack in Ecuador caught us by surprise. We were expecting Colombia to be the problem area. I’m sure our friends felt the same way, so please help us get the correct information out about Colombia.

P.S. Please keep my name and my boat's name out of this letter. There are a few family members of the other boat who read Latitude, and as far as I know, still do not know about the attack. Naming us might tip them off. After some time in Hawaii, we'll be taking off to French Polynesia.

Name Withheld By Request
Hilo, Hawaii

N.W.B.R. — We can't apologize enough to you and Colombia for the error. One of the drawbacks of getting older is that sometimes we're so confident of some information — such as what had been written in Changes about the attack — that we don't feel we have to reread it to get the facts straight. We'll try to do better in the future.


I just saw in the February Changes that the propeller tube on Liz Clark's Cal 40 Swell still leaks after what she and the yard in Raiatea hoped was an adequate repair. Liz need not despair, as I had the same problem with my Cal 40 and got it fixed.

For whatever galvanic reason, the bronze tube on my boat corroded severely. We first noticed the problem when a hole about 1/16” developed, with a similar-sized stream of water nearly sinking our boat after we'd been away for two weeks. Our 'fix' was to slide a section of rubber hose over the exposed section under the engine, and then secure it with multiple hose clamps. It wasn't pretty, but it was a temporary solution.

But I want to assure Liz that we were able to remove and replace the bronze propeller tube without removing the engine or the V-drive. We did this when we hauled a year later with the help of Doug Grant, a former Cal 40 owner, of Vangmaster in Southern California. It was Grant who convinced us to remove the whole tube.

The first step in getting the old tube out was to disconnect the propeller shaft from the V-drive, and remove it from the tube. Grant then concocted a 'slide hammer' from a six-ft section of stainless rod that was threaded on each end. After the rod was inserted into the tube, a 3/8" thick end-plate — which was the same size as the outside diameter of the tube, was fitted on the inboard end of the rod. The cap is what would ultimately slam against the tube and pull it out. A second, smaller cap, was attached to the outboard end. In order to finish making the slide hammer, Grant used a 15-lb brass weight, hex in shape for no apparent reason, and about eight inches long, as the hammer part. He bored out the center so it could slide along the half-inch rod.

As for the actual hammering, we simply started sliding the brass weight along the stainless rod, until it got to the end and slammed into the stopper nuts. The effect was to smash against the inboard end of the bronze tube and begin to knock it out. When we slid the hammer hard enough, the tube would back out about 1/8" to 1/4". After we did it a bunch, the tube had come out a foot, leaving two feet still inside the keel.

At that point, the tube in my boat just wouldn't back out any more. Due to some weakness in the bronze tube, the inboard end started to mushroom. Knowing that lubrication always helps, we put some liquid soap on the part of the tube that had been exposed at the aft end, and then hammered it back into its original place. We then used a Sawzall to cut two inches off the inboard end of the tube, added some liquid soap to what was exposed, and resumed hammering. Then the tube started to move more easily. With each slam on the slide hammer, the tube would come out another half inch, until half of its three-foot length was out of the boat. The last half simply slid out.

It was a very satisfying process, especially as Dennis Choate, one of our highly regarded local boatbuilders, had suggested that we "simply" cut out the entire section of the keel and rebuild it after we replaced the tube.

The new tube, made of G-10 rather than bronze, was supplied by Doug Grant. He slid it into place with a healthy slathering of West System epoxy. It should last for a very long time.

Fin Beven
Radiant, Cal 40 #24
Long Beach


Mike Harker’s story in the January Changes about the successful repair on his Yanmar diesel after the failure of an anti-siphon valve brought to mind many things that I learned during my decade of cruising in Mexico.

First, as my grandfather taught me, you can learn something new every day — as long as you’re not too stupid.

Second, properly looking after your boat's power plant and drive train is an important and rewarding activity if you want to cruise happily.

Then we can go on into all the reasons to run a boat's engine(s) regularly — and in gear! For instance, if a prop shaft isn't turned for a prolonged period of time, the lack of water circulation at the packing gland makes the shaft vulnerable to crevice corrosion. And shaft replacement is not cheap. It's not just the shaft that benefits from regular use, but all moving parts, such as in the transmission, the folding props, the shifts, and throttle linkages. If anything can be moved, it should be moved regularly.

Running all boat machinery, and then checking it for leaks, loose bits, proper belt tension, fluid levels, and so forth, should be routine and regular. Nobody should underestimate the importance of proper belt tension. I’ve seen many expensive high-output alternators cook out their bearings because a loose belt slipped enough to overheat the pulley and shaft during full-output charging.

Diesels are sturdy and reliable engines, but if you overheat them enough, it will cost you a bundle to put them back into service. This being the case, it's critical to inspect things such as impellers, water strainers, heat exchangers, hoses, thru hulls, and all the other elements that keep the coolant happily doing its job. It's not only a good habit, but it will definitely reduce the 'Stupid Tax' bill.

Of course, this tax is not limited to one's own stupidity. Harker, for example, had to pay for the stupidity of others, too. As far as I'm concerned, if a modern cruising boat like Harker's has a plumbing system so reliant on a single anti-siphon, it was poorly thought out. I can hear the voices out there saying that their boats have never had any trouble with their anti-siphon valves. But I’ve also heard many motorcyclists say they’ve never crashed (yet), and many cruisers who say they’ve never dumped their dinghies in the surf (yet).

I say listen to the experiences of others, for my grandfather was right when he said you can learn something new every day. And after listening, resist the urge to say, "That can’t happen to me!" Look instead to the most remotely possible events, and check to see how you might reduce your vulnerability to them.

P.S. I still enjoy Latitude after all these years.

Tim Tunks
Formerly 'Padre Timo' of Scallywag, Islander 37
Marina del Rey

Tim — Boats and boat systems are like human bodies: the more you use all the parts, the better they work and the longer they last.


The Super Bowl wasn’t the only big event on February 7, as five couples who are veterans of the Ha-Ha and/or Doo Dah rallies crossed tacks in Roseville for an evening of telling stories and lies, and laughing out loud.

Here's the breakdown of who was there:

• Phil & Nora McCaleb, Hunter 42 Shiraz (Ha-Ha '05 & Doo Dah '09)

• Paul & Marilyn Butler, Tayana 48 Renegade (Ha-Ha '06 & Doo Dah '09)

• Randy & Nancy Rowland, Pacific Seacraft 27 Aphrodite (Ha-Ha '04 & '06)

• Chris & Robyn Parker, Island Packet 35 Robyn's Nest (Ha-Ha '06)

• Pat & Carole McIntosh, Hunter 430 Espiritu (Ha-Ha '06, '08 & Doo Dah '09)

The only ones with their boat still in Mexico are the Rowlands, who ‘commuter cruise’ out of La Paz.

The year after the Parkers sailed to Mexico, they loaded Robyn's Nest onto a Dockwise ship for the trip to the Pacific Northwest, where they have been sailing ever since. Last year they made it to Alaska and back, and their boat is now in Vancouver, B.C.

Phil and Nora McCaleb made it to Panama before returning north at the end of the ‘08 sailing season, and are again sailing out of Marina Village in Alameda. They, along with Paul and Marilyn Butler, became charter members of the ‘Cedros Island Yacht Club’, when they and several other sailboats were stuck there for a time waiting for a break in the weather on the way north in '08. The Butlers sail out of Vallejo now.

We — Pat and Carole McIntosh — brought Espiritu north after two seasons in Mexico. Right after we got back, we signed up on the Latitude 38 Crew List and got berths on Sun Baby, a San Diego-based Lagoon 41 cat, for the '08 Ha-Ha. We now have a trawler in Alameda.

With only five boats represented, it's fantastic to realize how many other boats and people and places and special times came to mind, and the hundreds of mutual friends we have all made from the Ha-Ha and Doo Dah. We hope to see many, many more friends from these events at the Latitude 38 Baja Ha-Ha (and Delta Doo Dah) Reunion Party on April 16 at Strictly Sail Pacific.

Pat & Carole McIntosh
Alameda / Sacramento

Readers — It's been said an endless number of times that the greatest thing about the Ha-Ha — and now the Doo Dah — is the friends you make.


Just before Thanksgiving, David Davids' sloop Melody ran aground on a reef outside the harbor at Santa Rosalia and was lost. Despite his loss, David was mortified that in Latitude's report, most of the credit went to the marina employees, when there was actually only one who helped. It was the lovely cruisers in the marina who formed a tireless 'fireman's line' up the cliff to remove as much as could be removed from his doomed boat. As David said, it was "like seeing the cliff lined with angels."

After an entire night of sitting in his boat while it was being smashed apart on the reef, David could not believe that the Mexican government provided four guards, with machine guns, to guard his boat.

David would like both groups to get a bit of credit in your fine magazine.

P.S. After seeing what he could salvage, David managed to buy a Balboa 26, so he's up and sailing again!

Kenny Lindsay
Topaz, 36-ft Blue Sea trawler
Santa Rosalia, Baja


I read the February 3 'Lectronic item about the unexpected tremendous winds that hit Banderas Bay and other parts of the mainland coast of Mexico. It was interesting because such weather is so unlikely at that time of year.

But I do remember something similar. Checking my log, I found that I was caught in Careyitos [sic] in January of '92 with two other vessels fighting similar weather. It rained so hard that there were huge waterfalls coming off the cliffs amongst all those brightly colored condos and homes. The ocean was dark brown, and the seas were six feet coming into the tiny anchorage. It flooded Rosa's little restaurant. Playa Blanca, the old Club Med, was essentially shut down. All three of us on boats were constantly in fear of ending ashore, as there was no room for much scope on the anchors — we were all on one hook — and no one wanted to get out as we all knew the open ocean would be horrendous.

When the weather abated and we were finally able to head north, we had to dodge all kinds of flotsam. The Rio Ameca in Banderas Bay had literally washed away whole villages, and much of the residue was out in the bay. We had to dodge things like refrigerators, stoves, logs, and quite an assortment of expired animals, too.

The weather gurus at the time called it an 'Enhanced Banana Express.' Whatever. It was one hell of a lot of rain and wind. It also caught everyone off-guard, just like the episode in Banderas Bay.

P.S. In spite of our enjoying skiing this winter, we're looking forward to Serendipity's third Ha-Ha this fall.

Barritt Neal & Renee Blaul
Serendipity, Kelly-Peterson 44
San Diego

Readers — While we're sure there have been other unexpected blows in Mexico, the others we remember are the Cabo Storm of December '82, which left 27 boats on the beach, the non-hurricane storm that hit Cabo in October of '93 and sent houses, overpasses, dead cattle and entire golf course fairways into the Pacific, and a nasty cell that hit the anchored fleet in Zihua sometime around '98. Anybody remember any others?

By the way, we're told that Don Anderson of Summer Passage is the only person who forecast this year's blow. A tip of the hat to him.


If any of your other readers find themselves in the same predicament as Thomas Todd of the Hunter 54 Topaz, and need to splice a fan belt, I have a suggestion other than the butt splice, which takes some skill.

I'm talking about a simple Molly Hogan, which can be done in a few minutes. You take a piece of three-strand, and if it's soft and limp, dip it in boiling water to make it stiffer. Cut a piece three times as long as the loop or grommet you need, then unlay one strand of it, and keep it in its original form as much as possible. Cross the single strand at one-third of the length, and relay it into a three-strand rope. Whip the loop at the ends with some sail thread.

During my last two cruises to Mexico, I switched to the plastic link belts that can be assembled to any size. These may stretch initially under heavy loads, such as with a belt-driven compressor, and need a link or two removed, but they are many times superior to any other type of belt for cruising.

Ernie Copp,
Orient Star, Cheoy Lee 50
Long Beach


In the February 5 'Lectronic, you had a caption for a photo of Liz Clark of the Santa Barbara-based Cal 40 Swell and Jimmy Buffett that said Buffett "knocked down a reported $100 million a year." Get real.

Madonna may look silly with her youth obsession, but you gotta give props to the Material Girl for her ability to make millions. This year Forbes magazine ranked her as the top earning musician, as she reportedly made $110 million from her Sticky & Sweet Tour and from Hard Candy, her 11th studio album.

According to Google, here's the list of the Top 12 highest earning singer/musicians for the period spanning from June '08 to June '09.

1. Madonna: $110 million

2. Celine Dion: $100 million

3. Beyonce Knowles: $87 million

4. Bruce Springsteen: $70 million

5. Kenny Chesney: $65 million

6-8. Rascal Flatts: $60 million

6-8. Coldplay: $60 million

6-8. AC/DC: $60 million

9. Eagles: $55 million

10. Toby Keith: $52 million

11. Bon Jovi: $50 million

12. Dave Matthews Band: $45 million

You might notice that Buffett's name wasn't on the list.

Pat Moriarty
Reliant, Catalina 320
Austin, TX

Pat — The 'Lectronic caption didn't say anything about limiting Buffett's income from music. In spite of Buffett's beach bum persona and lack of success in winning awards for his songs, he's had tremendous success with all kinds of other artistic and business endeavors. For instance, he's written three #1 bestsellers, two of them fiction, one non-fiction. Laugh all you want, but the only other six authors to have accomplished this are Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, William Styron, Irving Wallace, Dr. Seuss and Mitch Albom. That's pretty good company, and Buffett can surf better than any of them. He's also been involved in children's books and various movies and movie soundtracks.

Buffett owns or licenses the Margaritaville Cafe and Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant chains. Before you scoff them off, the Margaritaville Cafe in Vegas alone grossed $41 million last year, making it the second highest grossing restaurant in the U.S. Buffett also owns part of two minor league baseball teams. Working with Anheuser-Busch, Buffett produced Land Shark Lager, and the Miami Dolphins' home field was renamed Land Shark Stadium for the '09 season. How about casinos? In '07, Buffett, in partnership with Harrah’s Entertainment, announced plans to build the Margaritaville Casino & Resort in Biloxi, Mississippi. Its 788 rooms are supposed to open this year. Another Margaritaville Casino, slated for Atlantic City, has been put on hold. Buffett has also licensed Margaritaville Tequila, Margaritaville Shrimp, Margaritaville Footwear, and we're not sure what else. He's also got Margaritaville Radio and Sirius XM Radio. All this from a guy who looks like he's hardly even trying. Pretty impressive.

We got the $100 million a year figure from Wikipedia. We have no idea if it's right or wrong. At the very least, it's unlikely that Jimmy will ever have to go back to robbing filling stations, as he lyrically did back in '75, scoring "$15, a can of STP, a big ol' jar of cashew nuts and a Japanese TV."


I've been a lover of sailing since I was a kid, and a reader of Latitude 38 for almost as long. I think that if one does the former, it is beneficial to do the latter. A wealth of good sailing information, most wouldn’t argue.

Sometimes I disagree with the editor’s opinions. I get hot once in a while, particularly when they concern subjects other than sailing. "Stick to sailing!” I grumble into the magazine. A complaining email starts to form in my head, but fades, and isn't sent.

But I am writing, finally, in reply to your specific comments about the concept of 'snitching', after Steve Knight used the word in his letter. Well said. Your opinions regarding this cultural cancer couldn’t have been more concise. That term was created by criminals to further their lives at the expense of society.

Who turned in Bernie Madoff? His kids. Ted Kaczynski? His brother. The world is a better place for it.

Dave King

Dave — "[Snitching] is a term created by criminals to further their lives at the expense of society." We couldn't have put it more accurately or succinctly if we'd banged at the computer all year.


I wanted to thank Latitude for the recent pieces on the loss of JoJo, and the responsibilities and limitations of the Coast Guard.

I just finished my enlistment of eight years with the Coast Guard, serving as a Boatswain’s Mate at the station in Vallejo, and also aboard a 270-ft cutter out of New Hampshire.

I want to extend condolences to the Livengoods for the loss of their boat, and to thank Latitude for your treatment and understanding of the Coast Guard. In response to all of the letters saying that the Coast Guard should have done more in the JoJo case, it’s easy to armchair quarterback the entire incident by suggesting that regulations should have been bypassed, and to point fingers at anyone and everyone. I realize that the limits of the Coast Guard as an organization are sometimes frustrating, both for taxpayers and for the young men and women crewing on Coast Guard boats.

I also applaud the letters that endorsed self-reliance and personal responsibility.

My wife, Amanda, and I first became sailors when I was transferred from a ship in New Hampshire to the Small Boat Station in Vallejo. Before I even found an apartment to live in, I'd bought a Hunter 25 sailboat. We kept the boat in Oyster Cove, and sailed every chance we got. We often marveled at the contrast between the traffic on 101 and the usually lonely beauty of the Bay. Since then, we’ve moved up to a Formosa 35, which we live on in San Rafael.

I think that my life and duties as a Coastie have been much improved by my sailing experiences. After all, wearing a uniform sometimes seems to separate an individual from reality. Occasionally at work we’d be amazed at the messes folks ended up in due to their own carelessness and lack of seamanship. That’s when I’d remind my Coast Guard crew that not everyone got the training that we did, and that our job was to help people, which is something that almost all Coasties love to do. Every single person I served with took great pride in the moments that made a difference, when lives were saved or even just helped. It often wasn't an easy job, and it also wasn't for everyone. But being a public servant means just that, serving.

Being the forum that it is, Latitude 38 probably receives more complaints about the Coast Guard than we do. Boardings, safety and security zones are part of the world we live in, and necessary for the safety of all out on the water. With so many jobs and responsibilities, the Coast Guard multitasks more efficiently than any other federal organization. I’d like to ask for readers and sailors to keep faith in the Coast Guard.

The recent tragedy in San Diego has brought out many negative responses to the Coast Guard. I grieve for both the family and their loss, but also for the coxswain and crew involved in that accident. In times like this, our servants need guidance, support and empathy, not anger or despair. The Coast Guard has changed in so many ways while I've been a part of it. It’s been given a great responsibility in securing our nation’s safety, but the goal of preserving life has never waned.

My wife and I are going cruising in August and I feel quite prepared with the seamanship experience the Coast Guard has given me and would like to thank Latitude again for continuing to inspire my dreams of sailing for life.

Christopher LaClair
Liberte, Formosa 35
San Rafael


Last year we spent almost three months in San Blas, Mexico, and became very close friends with Norm and Jan Goldie, who have lived ashore there for years. We maintained email contact with them through our summer in the Sea of Cortez, and had a happy reunion when we returned to San Blas last December 22. So we understand how some cruisers view Norm — a controversial figure in the cruising world for decades — and Jan favorably.

But within a few days of our return, Norm started acting weird. He began to say that we were helping incoming cruisers too much. He said that we should stay quiet and let him do it. Several days later, a group of five boats — all people we knew from the Sea of Cortez — approached San Blas. I had been talking to all of them via SSB, and they knew I was anchored in the San Blas estuary. As they approached, they called me one by one, and asked for advice in crossing the sand bar. I readily gave them that information. The last boat to arrive had lost the use of its engine because a rag had been sucked into the air intake, and needed help into the estuary. I immediately launched our dinghy and helped them in, using the VHF to coordinate the effort.

I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but my helping the other boats made Norm very angry. While I was in town the following day showing other cruisers where the bakery was, Norm called me on the VHF. He told me that I shouldn’t be trying to play 'Mayor of San Blas'. He told me that I was just a tourist and therefore shouldn't be giving advice or showing people where things were in town.

Bewildered, I said "O.K."

While I was in the bakery and not able to pick up anything on the radio, Norm hailed our boat, and my wife answered. When I got back to the boat an hour later, she was in tears. She told me that Norm had screamed and yelled at her, and was ranting about my giving help to the cruisers.

I called Norm to get to the bottom of it. I didn’t have a chance to ask any questions because he immediately went into an angry, breathless rant about how I was trying to take over the job that five different governmental agencies had asked him to do. He told me that I was destroying the economy of San Blas, and that my talking up San Blas on my blog would lead to increased tourism and destroy the town. He said that I should just shut up and stop talking to cruisers.

Thinking that Norm had somehow gotten the wrong impression, I asked to come to his house the next day and meet with him and his wife. Much of the early discussion was odd, and covered everything from how Norm thinks the locals really hate American tourists, to how Mexico still resents the Spanish/American War, and how he thinks most cruisers are ignorant of seafaring skills and arrogant.

I wasn’t sure how to handle many of these remarks, so I tried to steer the conversation back to why I'd gone from being an adopted son to an apparent deadbeat cruiser. The conversation kept going into general grievances, and how he has been helping cruisers for 44 years without pay or compensation. I kept pushing back to what it had to do with me, and why I was in trouble with Norm for offering help to my cruising friends. Apparently not knowing how to express himself, Norm kept getting angrier.

Finally Jan entered the conversation, and I think I got an honest answer. Jan told me that by my giving advice and passing along information to the cruisers, I was cutting Norm and her out of the loop. I told her that I didn’t see it that way, and that I was encouraging people to talk to Norm and Jan, as they were people very knowledgeable about San Blas. She replied that by my giving out advice, Norm would then not have the chance to ask arriving cruisers for a tip or donation, and that it was belittling for someone who had only been in San Blas for four months to take the 'job' of someone who had been doing it for 44 years.

When I explained that cruisers all over the world help other cruisers in this way, both Norm and Jan got angry. They insisted that I was wrong, and that most cruisers they knew didn’t help people the way I did. Then they said I was only doing it to insult Norm and to take his 'job'. Not wanting a confrontation, I told Norm that I would try not to interfere in what he obviously viewed as exclusively his job in San Blas. We parted with a handshake.

The following morning a friend came into the anchorage and called us on 22 for advice and information. During the conversation — which I knew Norm was listening to — I went out of my way to downplay my knowledge and play up Norm's. But the damage was done.

Immediately following our VHF conversation, Norm came on the hailing channel and angrily said that I should have told the people where I had gotten all of my information. During the VHF net the following morning, he started in with rants and angry personal attacks — and included lots of profanity. Later, members of the fleet said they listened in horror as several times a day Norm would get on the radio to rant about how we were backstabbers and worse. Almost daily we were warned that if we didn't leave San Blas, he'd talk to his friends at Immigration and other official offices about us. Norm told us to make sure we had our passports and visas ready to show the authorities. It was at this point that two other cruising family boats left San Blas, feeling it was not safe to stay.

It was scary having someone threaten to bring the Mexican government down on our family, so we decided we would follow the other two boats. But after telling our story to our local Mexican friends while saying our goodbyes, we decided to stay and fight. Not just for us, but for the other cruisers that Norm has bullied out of San Blas.

We then had meetings with the Port Captain and other government officials. They expressed their sincere apologies for Norm’s behavior! They told us that they are constantly receiving complaints about Norm, but have little power to stop him. They currently are trying to force him to stop using his VHF radio, as he has no boat, and no reason to use a VHF radio. In the words of the San Blas Port Captain, because he is on land, Norm is using his VHF illegally.

After talking to locals, I think what's really been going on is that Norm makes money by getting kickbacks from the businesses he recommends. And then there's the issue of his ego and his being the big man in San Blas.

However you look at it, it's an ugly situation indeed. But I thought the Seven Seas Cruising Association needed to know about it, because Norm often legitimizes himself by mentioning that he's an official SSCA cruising station over the VHF.

Last week the cruisers got together and assembled a cruising guide and cruiser's map of San Blas. We have given them to the marina and are spreading them out through the cruising community.

Rich Boren
Third Day, Pearson 365
Port San Luis

Readers — Norm Goldie has been controversial in San Blas for decades. As we've noted many times before, he's been of major assistance to many cruisers, and has been a big help in several medical emergencies involving cruisers. On the other hand, countless cruisers have complained that he's relentlessly stuck his nose in where it wasn't wanted. And after being rejected, Goldie is well known to have become vindictive.

For as long as we can remember, Goldie has tried to give cruisers the impression that he has some kind of official standing with the Mexican government. He has none. If he tries to pull this on you, demand to see a uniform, a badge, or an official document to that effect. He has nothing.

If any cruisers want to avail themselves of Goldie's services, that's fine. If they want to give to his 'charities', that's fine, too. And if a business gives him referral fees for bringing them business, that's nothing unusual in the world of tourism.

On the other hand, if you want to discover things for yourself, or if you want to use the advice of cruising friends already in San Blas, that's your business. With confidence, tell Goldie to butt out. His threats are nothing but hot air. If he bothers you enough, report him to the nearest Department of Tourism office.

There are more cruiser comments on Norm Goldie in this month's Cruise Notes.


I was invited to a very pleasant gathering at Golden Gate YC last month to help celebrate the club’s recent capture of the America's Cup. One of the principal topics, after the champagne toasts, was whether or not the club could host the America's Cup on the Bay.

As a San Francisco native, I naturally would love it if we could hold the 34th America’s Cup match here, but consider this: Going back to the 32nd America's Cup — the last 'normal' one — the course format was a three-nautical-mile leg sailed windward/leeward, twice around. In all multi-challenger events to date, at least two separate racing areas have been designated, one for the use of the defender(s) and one, or more, for the challengers.

There is only one part of the Bay which is both open enough and deep enough for a three-mile, or anything close to it, circle. Even the middle of the Bay is not very good, since the marks would have to be set in very deep, very tidal places, and the area is sliced to bits by shipping lanes and ferry routes.

If the practical maritime concerns aren’t enough, please consider also that:

• There will be no joy from any governmental body. They may even fight the idea. San Francisco has scant need for more tourist traffic in summer, and very little appetite for an 'elitist' activity such as the America's Cup, which would require municipal resources and infrastructure.

• The San Francisco Bay Yacht Racing Association has established rights to set its courses on the Bay, too.

• It’s hard to find enough real estate for a Halsey St. or Darsena-type Cup Village. If you can find it — on Treasure Island, Alameda or maybe on abandoned piers — it would be terribly expensive and hard to get the permits.

• People have floated various other ideas, such as sailing smaller boats on smaller courses, or sailing the Louis Vuitton Cup Series elsewhere, and just holding the Cup here. The first idea doesn’t do justice to the Cup, and the other falls apart for myriad reasons.

I wish it were otherwise.

Dick Enersen

Dick — As much as we wish we could disagree with you, we think you're right on all counts. Holding the America's Cup on San Francisco Bay would require both the interest and a 'can do' attitude from local, regional and state government. Unfortunately, we don't think either exists — particularly the 'can do' attitude.



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