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September 2010

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I've done two charters in my life. The first was a 10-day charter several years ago in the British Virgins aboard a '30s vintage 74-ft custom sloop. There were three couples in our group, and it was a great experience.

I just returned from my second charter, this one a week-long charter aboard a 36-ft early '80s production sloop in the tropics. It was just me and the captain, as I was checking out this particular model of boat for possible purchase of a sistership in California, and more importantly, to get a taste of the cruising life to see if the reality matched up with my life-long dreams about it.

The most recent charter was also an experience, but one I hope to never repeat because of toilet and bathing issues. If the head procedures followed on the 36-footer are de riguer on all small- to medium-sized cruising boats because of the pragmatic need to avoid clogging heads, then my cruising dream has taken a fatal hit. I'm referring to the practice of never putting toilet paper in the head, but rather dropping the soiled sheets in a plastic bag for later disposal ashore.

As I said, this is apparently done because of the fear of clogging the head — and the even greater fear of having to take the odiferous toilet and hoses apart to unclog it.

I learned that the captain of the boat I chartered was not alone in this policy. The crews of a Lagoon 440 catamaran and an Out Island 44 with whom we shared an anchorage said they followed the same procedure. Does everyone do this? Is this the procedure on Profligate?

Aren't there marine heads for small boats with macerators capable of doing the job, while eliminating the fear of almost certain clogging that mandates the paper not be flushed down the toilet but be placed in a plastic bag? Are electric/vacuum heads a solution? Is there some other solution? By the way, on the previous charter we flushed paper down the toilet.

The second issue was not being allowed to use the shower below "because it causes mildew." As a result, bathing consisted of jumping overboard to bathe in saltwater, followed by rinsing off on deck with a pail of fresh water. I know some cruisers use solar showers with sun-heated plastic bags of fresh water to create a makeshift cockpit or transom shower, but the boat I chartered offered neither, and the result was that I didn't bathe that much.

As a result of the policies regarding the heads and showering, it felt like camping, something I can't accept as a continual lifestyle. I might be able to handle the second procedure with a topside shower solution, but I suspect my female crew would not. A separate shower stall in the head has always been a 'biggie' in our boat selection priorities, but if it's never used, what's the point?

But the toilet paper in the bag trick — yuck! — is unacceptable to both of us. This is a deal-breaker that could scuttle my plan to finally buy a boat and go cruising.

Can you please take the time to shed light on these subjects that, in the many years of reading your fine magazine, I have never seen addressed? I suspect other potential cruisers are similarly curious.

P.S. Please withhold my name so the recent captain will not identify with this article if it is published.

Planet Earth

Anonymous — Great question.

Doña de Mallorca, who is in charge of all domestic issues aboard Profligate, does not permit any toilet paper to be put into any of the four heads. Anybody who violates this rules is thrown overboard and left to fend for themselves. The publisher of this magazine, who is in charge of sailing aboard Profligate, doesn't have a problem with it. Those are the rules we follow when it's just the two of us aboard, so we expect everyone else to follow them.

We follow the same rules aboard the publisher's Leopard 45 catamaran 'ti Profligate that is in a yacht management program in the British Virgin Islands. We're not sure where the yacht management company tells charterers to put their paper, but we do know that they charge a minimum of $125 to unclog a blocked head.

Not all boatowners follow our policy. And if you only put what you've eaten into the head, flush properly — which we think is 25 strokes — and put oil and vinegar in the heads regularly, you should never have a problem. You can also get macerators, electric toilets, and toilets that use fresh water to make your bathroom experience more pleasing. Mind you, just because a head has a macerator or is electric doesn't mean it's foolproof. If you want foolproof, put a garbage disposal in line ahead of the macerator.

The approach to heads is usually a philosophical one. There are cruisers who are willing to spend big money, use lots of electricity, and expose themselves to lots of repair work to try to sanitize the onboard toilet experience. Then there are those, like us, who believe in simple boats, and who would rather sail than do maintenance. To each their own.

That said, anyone who has traveled much in the Second or Third World is familiar with the policy of putting toilet paper in plastic bags — even in some relatively nice hotels — because the local sewer systems and/or septic tanks can't handle the globs of toilet paper and other junk people toss into toilets. But what is more "yucky" about dropping a wad of toilet paper into a plastic bag than into a toilet? Sure, it's different from what is customary in the States, but it quickly seems customary to do it the other way, too.

To be honest, if something as minor as that makes you and your significant other squeamish, there are even more unpleasant things you need to consider about cruising. If there are to be two of you on a 36-ft boat, there is no way that all your body functions aren't going to soon be well known to each other. We're talking burping, farting, and smelly and/or noisy bowel movements. Polite sailing society ameliorates these things as much as possible, but they can't be eliminated entirely.

As for taking a shower inside a boat in the tropics, that's about the weirdest idea we've ever heard of. In four years, we've spent over 200 days aboard 'ti Profligate, and have never once even considered using one of the four inside showers. When we're on 'ti Profligate, we swim between two and eight times a day. After what we think is going to be the last swim of the day, we wash our hair and rinse with freshwater on the back platform with the outside shower. Talk about your great sensual experiences! It would be incomprehensible to us to take a shower inside the boat, where there isn't much room, and where everything would quickly get as damp and humid as New York City in the summer — at which time we'd want to take another shower. Why do they put showers on boats? We don't know. Profligate has only one, and it's only been used twice.

In a related matter, towels are a horror on a boat, particularly when you're swimming multiple times a day in the tropics and need to dry off several times a day. After all, regular towels retain moisture, take forever to dry, and if they don't get good ventilation, quickly begin to stink. Furthermore, it usually costs a small fortune to get towels washed and dried in the tropics. As a result, we either sun dry ourselves or use a little chamois-like swimmer's towel, which dries quickly and is compact. Real towels do feel great, however, so once a week, when we want a real treat, we break down and use one of those.

That's the way we do things on Profligate and 'ti Profligate. We're sure other boatowners and cruisers do them differently, so we and Anonymous welcome all feedback.


I'm writing in response to Christine, the woman who wrote in last month to say that her husband, with whom she has done extensive cruising, feels they need to sell their Catana 43 cat because they have two children, one with ADHD and one with dyslexia.

I have worked with special education children for about 30 years, and I suggest that you don't sell the boat. You have a perfect learning opportunity for your ADHD child. These kids hate, absolutely hate, sitting still in a classroom. We have to make time in the classroom to let them move around. For the most part, these kids learn quickly and well. They just need lots more movement and hands-on learning. They are not well-suited to a classroom environment.

I don't have a lot of experience with dyslexic children, but there is loads of information on the web. I would contact a specialist in this area, and get the child on a home schooling schedule with the guidance of the specialist. It's not rocket science; just fit the teaching environment to the child's needs. As a parent/teacher you will know what the needs are as you work with him. If he responds well to a technique, keep going. Throw out what doesn't work.

My view is that these kids have a great opportunity to avoid the classroom and really learn in a stimulating and active environment. They will be fine, and maybe even better than many kids enduring the classroom.

Good luck and keep sailing.

Lisa Donavan
Love In Vane, Golden Gate 30
Channel Islands


Yes, I want to be a member of the Missing Digit Club. I paid my dues in '07 when we re-anchored late one night at Isla Partida as a Coromuel wind had come up. I lost the top part of my right ring finger after it got into a dispute with the winch and chain. Steve Bondelid is right; crushed or ripped off digits bleed like a tap!

The hospital in La Paz did a nice job trying to stitch it all together the next day, but as it had been completely smashed, it had to be removed. The cost? A mind-numbing $100.

The loss in no way detracted from the great times we had on the '06 Ha-Ha and during the rest of the winter in Mexico!

Anneke Dury
M/V Paramour (formerly Freedom), Offshore 54
Monte Sereno


I would like to formally submit my application to Latitude's Missing Digit Club. I lost my left middle finger two years ago on September 19 — which just happened to be 'Talk Like A Pirate Day'. I lost the finger while using a table saw to make custom furniture. Of course I'd removed all the blade guards.

After an exciting experiment with reattaching what was left of the hobbit-like appendage — while the medical staff constantly reassured me that I was in "good hands" — we embraced the inevitable and succumbed to the stumpification of my most useful digit for driving in California.

The loss of a digit hasn't slowed me down one bit. Since recovering from the accident, I've gotten my captain's license, passed several sailing instructor certification levels from both the American Sailing Association and US Sailing, teach at one of the largest offshore passagemaking schools in the country, am the fleet manager for a fractional ownership sailing company, run a charter service in the Caribbean, and I have had my splicing certified by New England Ropes while working in the Rigging Shop at West Marine in Alameda.

Indeed, rather than having been slowed down by the loss of my finger, it's given me more appreciation of what one can accomplish — even if faced with a little adversity. I'm even looking into helping with the Challenged America project for the next TransPac.

I'm back up to 90%, which is still an 'A' in my book. I will tell you, however, that hearing Skip & Co. sing "You Can't Be a Pirate With All of Your Parts" on Thursday nights at Quinn's Lighthouse has helped me through some tough times. I still wear 10-fingered sailing gloves while teaching. When demonstrating proper line/winch-management skills, I often whip off the glove to really drive the point of safety home to my students. When asked how I lost the digit, I always respond with a, "Shark attack, swab." They all say, "Cool!"

Captain Chris Larsen
USCG Master 25 Gross Tons Near Coastal
w/ Sailing & Towing Endorsements
US Sailing & ASA Certified Instructor
Base Manager & School Director, SailTime San Francisco

Capt. Chris — We've always marveled how some people get a hangnail and want to retire on full lifetime government disability, while others — and oftentimes they are sailors — blow right by even serious injuries.

We saw a most extreme example of the latter when we first started kicking around the Caribbean in the mid-'80s, and were anchored next to a lovely 70-ft aluminum sloop being singlehanded by a one-armed French guy named Gerard. He later told us that he'd been building the boat himself when, after he'd completed the basic hull and much of the exterior, a shifting of the boat on the blocks crushed his arm. Not to be denied, this remarkable individual did a beautiful job of finishing the interior of his massive boat by himself with just one arm! And no, we have no idea how he did it. He then singlehanded the boat across to the Caribbean, and with the addition of one or two crew, did group term charters.

We find one of the most disturbing things about the United States is how all levels of our government seem so eager to encourage people to wallow in self-pity rather than achieving all they can. The loss to society is bad enough, but it's an even worse loss for the individual.


I enjoyed Latitude Racing Editor Rob Grant's coverage of the '10 Pacific Cup, and congratulate my friend Pat Broderick and his crew on the Wyliecat 30 Nancy for taking Division A honors. But one statement in the article needs correction: “With its unbalanced sailplan, the Wyliecat becomes a handful while running.” Like the misconception 'catboats don’t point', this is even further from the truth. In my 15 years of sailing a Wyliecat, I've found just the opposite to be true. Downwind stability is one of the strong points of the design. The mainsail has a foot of 20 feet, and while running, particularly in winds exceeding 20 knots, you need to steer 45 to 60 degrees by the lee in order to get the wind behind it and across on a jibe. Unintentional jibes just don’t happen unless the helmsman nods off or just isn’t paying attention.

Like all sailboats, the Wyliecat has its warts, but running in a breeze is not one of them.

Steve Wonner
Wyliecat 30, Uno


On page 72 of the August issue you recommended The Legend of Imp, a new book by Bill Barton. Where can I buy the book?

Lloyd Bacon
Friday Harbor, WA

Lloyd — Our apologies to you and Bill for not including that important information. You can order The Legend of Imp from

At the start of our review of The Legend of Imp, we mentioned that a history of Bill Lee's historic 67-ft ultralight sled Merlin and all the other ultralights out of Santa Cruz still needs to be written. If we may be so bold, we nominate Kimball Livingston for the job. How about it, Kimball?


I was lounging in my bunk aboard the good ship Punk Dolphin in Drakes Bay the other day when I began to reflect on the past. Specifically, I began to go over fond memories of the Pacific Cups and TransPacs that I've done. While I did so, the mental tapes played visuals of the hardships endured in the 'old days' of yacht racing.

For example, I remembered that when I was swinging a sextant — long before the days of GPS — I would observe how each driver would drive, and what course they claimed to be steering, so I could determine what factor I would insert into the 'course made good' equation in an effort to plot an accurate DR. I then flashed to the modern racing boats and the new electronics, and wondered how much difference any of that makes. I have no idea . . . but it did lead to the point of this email.

For the 2012 Pacific Cup, I suggest that an analog rating break of 3 to 6 seconds a mile be given to boats that are navigated under the old rules of the TransPac. In other words, the only electronics you're allowed are speed, windspeed and direction, depth, SSB and dedicated weatherfax. Period. You navigate by celestial, with no GPS or SatNav or anything else. Entries in the Pacific Cup could then decide whether they wanted to make a full-blown moneybags effort with all the electronic toys, or gut it out the old way and get a few seconds per mile break for doing it.

I think a system such as this would help those of us without the money to compete against all the boats with the expensive routing and onboard electronic gizmos that keep a crewmember occupied looking for wind patterns downloaded from the GRIB files. Instead of keeping an eye on the polars and the GRIBs, boats like mine would need the analog version — a skilled sailor who could drive by intuition and navigate by the heavens.

Personally speaking, I would be more likely to enter a race that encourages this — because I miss it! What I always loved about the trek to Hawaii was the challenge of using my skills as a sailor and navigator. In recent years, those skills have been put on the shelf and replaced with computers. As a result, I find that going to sea is not as challenging because you can often 'buy' your way into the winner's circle.

Years ago, when I was on the board of directors that started the Pacific Cup — along with the likes of Jake van Heeckeren, Gary Clifford, and Bobbi Tosse — we wanted the Pacific Cup to be the 'Fun Race To Hawaii'. I think my idea would be consistent with the original intent of the race.

Jonathan Livingston
Punk Dolphin, Wylie 38
Pt. Richmond

Birdman — If you're running 'mental tapes' of old Hawaii races through your mind, you really are an old fart — one who is overdue in joining the digital age.

We understand your wanting to get away from money wars, crews being blinded by electronics, and computers replacing brains and intuition. But our suggestion would be to create a separate division of boats, rather than give these boats a handicap allowance. And rather than doing away with modern electronics entirely, allow just one weather report and two GPS positions a day. Even if this were just done on the honor system, we think it would create a lot more of the old-time challenge and experience. The idea of doing away with GPS entirely seems over the top, particularly on races to Hawaii, when crews often don't see the sun and the stars until just a day or two from Hawaii.

Anybody else have other suggestions?


I'm writing this on August 4, which is the day the U.S. Coast Guard turned 200 years old. I hope to see something in Latitude about the service that does more for your tax dollars than any other government entity.

Chris Karo, QM1, USCG, Ret.
Planet Earth

Chris — Happy birthday to the U.S. Coast Guard!

We have unlimited respect and admiration for the men and women who have worked and now work in Coast Guard Search and Rescue, particularly those who repeatedly put their lives on the line to save the lives of others. They are true heroes.

As for your claim that the Coast Guard does "more for your tax dollars than any other government agency," we're not quite sure how to evaluate such a claim. The Coast Guard was part of the Department of the Treasury until '67, when it became part of the newly formed Department of Transportation until '02, when it became part of Homeland Security. If you're trying to tell us that Homeland Security, as it operates today, is an intelligent or even halfway effective use of taxpayer dollars to secure our borders — LOL — we think you need a brain scan. As for the Coast Guard in particular, we have no firsthand knowledge, but those who have recently left the service tell us that, for all the great things it does, it's a typically bloated, wasteful and inefficient government operation.

Operating under the Treasury Department, then the Department of Transportation, and now Homeland Security, the Coast Guard has always gotten its marching order from the President and Congress — which, by the way, can also make the Coast Guard part of the U.S. Navy by saying the government equivalent of 'abracadabra'. Unfortunately, Washington has sometimes given the Coast Guard idiotic marching orders.

For example, who can forget the infamous Zero Tolerance — or as we called it, 'Zero Intelligence' — policy that was implemented by the Coast Guard starting on March 21, 1988? Within a two-month period, the Coast Guard had seized 27 boats for having even the smallest amounts of marijuana aboard. This included the $2.5 million yacht Ark Royal, which was confiscated when 1/10th of an ounce of pot was found on the charter boat. During this exercise in the service of destroying its reputation as being 'the good guys', the Coast Guard would often board boats at the most dangerous times — such as out in the Potato Patch — rather than letting grandpa and grandma bring their boat into the more sheltered waters of the Bay. But as we said, this wasn't a mission of the Coast Guard's own making, but one dumped on them by the Feds in Washington.

While there have been cases of young Coasties being tragically reckless with their Coast Guard vessels — i.e. the recent case of an 8-year-old boy killed on San Diego Bay during the Christmas Parade — and sometimes becoming a little intoxicated with their authority during 'safety inspections', our experience with the Coast Guard has generally been very positive. Not only have they saved the lives of a number of good friends, but even when they assembled our entire crew on the bow of Big O at gunpoint, they were very professional about it.


You asked for feedback from people who have built boats from bare hulls. Having built our own boat, a Roberts Offshore 44 from steel, albeit from scratch, I have conflicting feelings. While I can certainly say that I don't recommend it, I also don't in the least regret having done it.

Did it take more time than I ever thought it would? Oh my, yes. And as Latitude wrote, the hull and the deck were the easy parts. I don't think building the boat was the cause of the divorce from my first wife, but it's likely that it didn't help either.

There are a number of positives derived from the boatbuilding experience. First, we ended up with a boat we could never have afforded to buy. In fact, I was absolutely astounded at the value the surveyor put on her.

In addition, just about every time we take her out for a sail, I will find myself sitting in quiet amazement, having a bit of trouble believing that I actually built it all myself.

We also got exactly what we wanted, which is a very strong, comfortable, powerful cruising boat. She was designed and built for two people to cruise long term, with additional room for one or two guests for passages or short visits. She was also detailed to meet our needs. I'm taller than most, and Rosey, my dear wife, is smaller than most. So for Rosey we've got handholds lower than on most boats, and for me we've got long enough bunks so that I can really stretch out. And that's just the beginning of the custom features.

How long do I think it would take someone like Eric and Jeanna, who wrote in last month, to complete their Freya 39 from a hull? It all depends on how fancy and complicated they want their boat to be. Do they want all the toys and conveniences and an interior that will take visitors' breath away, or would they be satisfied with something that looks as if it was put together by a stoned monkey? I know of 39-ft boats that were built in a couple of years, and I've known some that took 23 years. I'll let you guess which ones looked as though they were built by stoned monkeys.

By the way, Rosey and I are now living on a mooring in San Diego, and just love living 'out on the ball'. It's almost like cruising. It also helps keep us going while recovering from the economic tornado that hit us in '06 and '07. But come '12, we're out of here!

David Eberhard
Valkyrie, Roberts Offshore 44

David — The only point where we might disagree is whether a long building time is necessarily indicative of a better boat. Some backyard builders create spectacular boats in a relatively short time, while others who take decades end up with lesser yachts. You never know.


Thank you for your piece on Massachusetts Senator John Kerry's having his $7 million, 76-ft boat built in New Zealand, then brought to Rhode Island where he wouldn't owe sales tax or personal property tax. I love Latitude's work.

Patrick Gilhooly
Corpus Christi, TX

Patrick — Thank you. Those who haven't read the piece can find it in July 26's 'Lectronic Latitude, as well as in last month's Sightings.


I wish we had a sailing rag as good as Latitude on the East Coast. Good report on Kerry and his boat. You guys always keep me interested and entertained.

Herbert Lance Mackey
Blewtooth, Westerly Tiger 25
Savannah, GA

Herbert — We try our best. For the record, as a result of the avalanche of bad publicity, Senator Kerry backpedaled as fast as he could and paid the sales tax to Massachusetts.


The Kerry team claimed that his new boat was in Rhode Island to be engaged in the charter business. What happened to the Jones Act? Does the senator somehow get relief?

Peter Treleaven

Peter — This is America, so you can forget any notions about U.S. Senators being treated more favorably than other citizens. That said, the real Jones Act was passed in 1916 and was all about giving the Philippines greater autonomy. The Merchant Marine Act was passed in 1920, but because it was first proposed by Senator Wesley L. Jones of Washington, it also became known has 'the Jones Act'.

One of the main thrusts of the Merchant Marine/Jones Act was to restrict cabotage — a.k.a. coastal and domestic shipping and passenger traffic — to U.S. flagged ships that had been built in the United States and were crewed by Americans. The act was designed solely to protect union jobs on ships and in the shipbuilding industry, but at considerable expense to consumers. Many experts say the unintended consequence was that it created a fat and sloppy labor monopoly that quickly destroyed the U.S. shipping and shipbuilding industries — and with it all the union jobs it was meant to save. Sort of like the American car industry. It's unclear, however, if the United States could have remained competitive in shipping and shipbuilding anyway, given the much lower costs in other countries. Although consumers would benefit considerably by a repeal of the Jones Act, which no longer does that much for unions, recent attempts have failed because the Act has so much symbolism for the labor movement.

So how does Senator Kerry with his New Zealand-built boat get around the Jones Act that requires boats doing charters in the United States to be built in the United States and crewed by Americans? Well, this is where all the clever lawyers that rich people and elected officials can afford come in. There are four kinds of commercial charters: A voyage charter, a time charter, a bareboat charter, and a demise charter. Under a demise charter, the control and possession of the vessel are supposedly shifted from the owner of the vessel to the charterer, who supposedly takes full control of the vessel, including where it's going, along with the legal and financial responsibility. As a result, such charters are no longer subject to the Jones Act. But most demise charters are completely bogus — which is why we twice used the word 'supposedly'. If you think someone like Kerry would charter his brand new luxury boat not knowing where she was going to be being taken — Nigeria, anyone? — we've got a bridge to sell you. There is a lot of winking going on between the parties in these charters, although it's usually done by the brokers who represent them.

It's the same thing with foreign crew, who are usually favored by owners of big boats because they work for less and are often perceived to be more service-oriented than American crews. Since the charterer takes full control of the vessel in a demise charter, he theoretically can choose his own captain and crew. But if you think the Kerrys of the world are going to let a charterer pick his own captain, one who isn't even familiar with the complicated boat, we've got another bridge to sell you. So while it's not legal to say 'if you use my boat, you've gotta use my captain', that's also being conveyed in the winking between brokers.

The above is the most common way around the Jones Act, but there have been others, too. As always, it's all about money and politics creating perversions of normal business, which allow certain classes of people to do lucrative things that aren't available to the Average Joe.


True, Kerry avoided taxes by taking delivery of his boat out-of-state in Rhode Island, where there is no sales tax on boats. But that's a drop in the ocean compared to the many millions in taxes that are not paid by yacht owners. To get the full story, see

On the other hand, the maintenance required for a $7 million yacht is going to put a lot of money back into the local economy and create more than a few jobs.

Rob Spakowski
Newport Beach

Rob — That Seattle Post-Intelligencer article by Eric Nadler, with help by P-I investigative reporter Phuong Cat Le, is superb. Posted in '04, it basically outlines how "several tax dodges, ranging from perfectly legal to dubious, are helping wealthy yacht owners keep their big pleasure boats on the water in Puget Sound and across the country." In fact, it, along with the rest of the series, is must reading for boatowners to make sure they are getting the most tax benefits from owning a boat.

The only fault we have with Nadler is his lack of context. His article makes it seem as if only owners of big yachts get big financial advantages, when in fact many of them are available to small boat owners, too — to say nothing of the much more numerous owners of RVs and real estate. Nadler also neglects to point out that the tax code — which is what, a couple of million paragraphs long? — is nothing but a laundry list of loopholes for individuals, corporations, non-profits, unions, churches, industries, foreign countries, wineries, McDonalds — did we mention Wall St. and Big Oil? — and on and on and on.

There are hardly any operations, public or private, that are straightforward anymore. It's all loopholes, subsidies, bailouts, stimuli, sweetheart deals and outright gifts, with the result that it's almost impossible to tell the true cost of anything and the true profit of any enterprise. In fact, just the other day, one of the heads of the biggest homebuilders in the United States blasted the government for things like the recent $10,000 tax credit for buying a house. While on the surface such a credit might seem as though it would help the struggling construction industry, this homebuilding expert said it does the opposite by distorting the true market. With so many economic perversions, few of which any legislators understand the ramifications of, is it any wonder the United States is now effectively owned by people who speak Mandarin?


In your 'Lectronic item about John Kerry not paying sales tax on his new boat, you also wrote, "Lest anybody think this is an anti-Democratic Party screed, it's not. We're fully aware that Republicans have done as bad, if not worse."

OK, I'll bite. Which Republicans have done worse? I'd really like to know! I'll bet it's a really short list!

Stuart Gregor
Solitude, Catalina 30


It's four days later, and I'm still waiting for all the "worse" things Republicans have done. You may find one or two things, but nothing even close to the antics of these hypocritical, disgusting liberals! Rangal! Obama! Dodd! Pelosi! Clinton! Biden! And the list of lying morons just goes on! Good luck with finding the "worse" Republicans have done! I really think you should retract that stupid statement!

Stuart Gregor

Stuart — We didn't answer your first letter because we thought you were being facetious. Kerry wasn't guilty of doing anything illegal, just something that was politically very stupid. Sort of like in '98, when Congressman Patrick Kennedy, alleged Democratic champion of the poor, proposed a Republican-like 20% tax rebate for anybody who bought a yacht. If you honestly can't think of a Republican who has done as bad or worse than Kerry, take a second to Google it.

We believe in hard work, personal responsibility, self-sufficiency and thrift — which means we've been abandoned by both the Democratic and Republican parties. Sure, sometimes they pay lip service to such concepts, but their actions tell an entirely different story. The only difference we see between the two parties is that they are pimping for different special interest groups. A pox on the both of them.


I just returned from 10 days in Turkey prepping our next cruising boat, the Deerfoot 63 Kailani, for her passage back to the West Coast. Some readers may remember that Jennifer and I did a circumnavigation from '04 to '06 aboard our Sausalito-based Hans Christian 41 Manu Kai.

We bought the boat a year earlier than we'd planned since our work schedule is not quite wrapped up. Consequently, there will be no Med cruise this time around, but we hope to return when our daughter Sophie, now two, can better appreciate the history. So I'll be delivering Manu Kai to the Caribbean for the winter months in two legs: Marmaris to Gibraltar and Gibraltar to somewhere in the Caribbean. I start from Marmaris in mid-September with assorted crew, mostly friends and family. Jen and Sophie will join me for the holidays, and we'll cruise up the Caribbean islands for a couple of months before taking on crew and heading off for Panama in April. We'll make the trip from Panama to Seattle in the month of May, haul the boat in Seattle, make some system changes, then spend the summer in British Columbia and Southeast Alaska.

Why we would go halfway around the world to buy a boat when there are a dozen boats for sale within a stone’s throw of our front door in Sausalito is a story for another time. Anyway, we are currently berthed in Yacht Marine in Marmaris, Turkey. While here, I have noticed there are a lot of U.S.-flagged sailboats showing a hailing port of Wilmington, Delaware. I further discovered that most of these boats are owned by residents of the European Union or Turks!

Apparently there is a segment of the European yachting population that finds the United States, or at least Delaware, to be a tax haven for boats. By forming a company in Delaware for under $1,000, these people can escape the usurious VAT and other taxes imposed by the European Union or Turkey. They must pay an annual fee, but it is still a lot less expensive than succumbing to the local taxing authorities.

For our part, we will intentionally remain far from California waters until well after the anniversary of our purchase. After all, tax avoidance is a global past time.

Harley, Jennifer & Sophia Earl
Kailani, Deerfoot 63
Sausalito / Turkey


Having done the '07 Ha-Ha with our two boys, Kyle and Ryan, we know how wonderful all the kids are in Turtle Bay. Upon hearing that the Ha-Ha will be having a fun baseball game between the cruisers and the fishermen and local kids of Turtle Bay, my two boys are really excited to gather up all their outgrown baseball equipment and give it to the kids. We have shoes, pants, jerseys, gloves, bats, and so forth.

Debbie & Rich Farmer
Oasis, Mariner 48
San Diego

Debbie — That's fabulous. Send whatever you can — the more balls, bats and gloves the better — to Baja Ha-Ha, c/o Gretha Record, West Marine, 1250 Rosecrans, San Diego, CA 92106. And gracias!


I own an Ericson 35 that's located in San Carlos, Mexico, and I would like to get her back to San Diego without having to sail her down to Cabo and then do a Bash up the coast.

I called the folks in San Carlos for a quote on trucking the boat back, and it was over $6,000. I thought that was exorbitant. As such, I'm searching for other options.

I would love to sail my boat up to San Felipe and have her trucked the mere four hours to San Diego. Do you know if San Felipe has any infrastructure to assist in boat transportation? I'm thinking about a lift, a crane or transport truck. My boat weighs 16,000 lbs, so I think it could be pulled with a regular truck and an extra heavy duty trailer.

With all the boats that return from Mexico to Southern California, I would think there would be a better option than trucking from San Carlos. Or maybe I'm just a cheap wimp.

Ed Tackabery
Little Waimea, Ericson 35
San Diego

You Cheap Wimp — Just kidding. Thrift is always good. Too bad it wasn't 150 years ago, because they used to bring boats to the north end of the Sea of Cortez, then up the Colorado River almost as far north as Las Vegas. But the casinos in Vegas use so much water in their fountains that the old waterway hasn't been navigable in a long time.

According to the Information Institute of San Felipe — whatever that might be — the only launch/retrieval facility is a typical launch ramp. Your Ericson 35 would be a little much for that. We also think you'd need a heavy-duty truck and heavy-duty trailer to tow 16,000 lbs. Then there's the problem with all the permits for driving in Mexico, crossing the border, and driving in the United States.

When all is said and done, we think you've got to either cough up the dough or do a Bash via Cabo. If you did the Bash in middle to late October, you'd have a warm Bash, and chances are that the winds wouldn't be too strong. You would, of course, have to keep an eye out for hurricanes.

Good luck!


Although you gave Mark Dawson a good answer about the wisdom of taking the diesel out of a cruising boat and replacing it with a transom-mounted outboard, I thought I'd add my two cents' worth since I did just something similar on a Rawson 30 I owned and sailed to Mexico. I replaced the inboard because it was an old Palmer gas engine. If she had come with a diesel, I never would have changed it out.

Your answer about the main problem with a transom-mounted motor being cavitation of the prop in any kind of a seaway was quite correct. The 15-hp Yamaha I put on that boat worked just fine when the sea was calm, but it couldn't be used whenever there was any kind of a sea running, or for motorsailing to windward — as those of us with slow sailing boats often have to do. The other problem with a transom-mounted outboard is trying to slow the boat with reverse thrust.

Dawson might also explain to his potential partner that if they replace the diesel with an outboard, they'd take a real hit in resale value. Even though putting an outboard on my boat made me a better sailor, I would strongly recommend keeping the diesel.

Steve Hersey
SeaScape, Union 32
Escondido / San Carlos, Mexico

Steve — Your two cents is much appreciated.


In the last issue you wrote, "We wouldn't go sailing without our iPad." It makes me wonder why anyone bothered to go sailing in the pre-tech days. Could it be that they enjoyed sailing rather than gadgeting?

Dick Schwartz
Brown 31 tri

Dick — Interesting point.

In our situation — and that of other sailors and cruisers we know — having things like iPads, modems and laptops means that we can now go sailing and be on our boat much more than we could have in the past. And given the choice of working in our office and working/living on our boat, we're almost always going to chose the latter. While there is always the danger of becoming addicted to electronic devices, just because you have one doesn't mean you have to use it.

By the way, it would've been more accurate if we'd written, "We wouldn't go sailing — or biking, motorcycling, or out to breakfast — without our iPad." We do all of those things, and when needed, have found the device to be extremely valuable because we lust for facts and information. We draw the line, however, at taking the iPad when we go snorkeling or surfing.


On July 1, I helped get the vessel Estelle, a 50-ft ferro ketch, get aboard a Dockwise transport vessel in La Paz for the passage to what was supposed to have been Florida, but ultimately turned out to be the Bahamas. Although the Dockwise ship was old and in obvious need of repair, the loading went well. What didn't go as well was the way the crews of the vessels that had been loaded had to get off the Dockwise ship. An extension ladder was lowered from the ship's deck, and because there was no support at the top, two Dockwise crewmembers had to hold the ladder while we climbed up to a 12-inch wide catwalk.

Next, in mildly choppy conditions, a shore boat that was supposed to take us back to shore, tried several times to come alongside the ship's boarding ladder — which had no platform at the bottom. The ship's boarding ladder was finally positioned about two feet above the bouncing bow of the shore boat, at which point the people from the yachts were expected to jump aboard the pitching vessel. Many of us cruisers are 60 years or older, and such a system was an accident waiting to happen. I was not impressed with the way Dockwise handled this matter.

Al Winn
Oso Negro, 46-ft Hatteras sportfisher
Chicago, IL / La Paz, Mexico

Al — Wow, it looks a little dicey to us, too.


Most Latitude readers would agree that the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu needs some remodeling. Nonetheless, some new floating docks have recently been built in the Waikiki YC area, and they are very nice.

As a member of the Honolulu YC, perhaps I'm biased, but I just love the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor. It has a nice Robert Louis Stevenson vibe that can't be beat: tradewinds, hula dancing, Magic Island, dynamic city life just blocks away with fancy accommodations, pristine white sand beaches, aquamarine waters, and friendly and interesting people from all walks of life. What more could you ask for?

Everyone wants to blame the government when things aren't perfect. Okay, but the real reason that the Ala Wai looks as if it needs some polish is — and I hate to say it — the boats need some polish. Yes, the boatowners need to keep their boats in better repair. The problem at the Ala Wai is not so much government negligence as it is the irresponsibility of the boatowners to ensure that things look nice.

By the way, there is non-stop fun at the Hawaii YC. I was there recently when George Clooney and his film crew popped in for a few drinks. Clooney graciously volunteered to help tend bar, and later said, "I would love to stick around and help wash the glasses, but I have a movie to make." What a cool guy! In a recent issue of the yacht club newsletter there is a photo of Clooney behind the bar helping the bartender, and another photo of him with some club members.

I now keep my boat in Sausalito.


Anonymous — You think the Ala Wai has "a Robert Louis Stevenson vibe?" Are you referring to the ultra bland '60s East German architecture of the Harbormaster's Office and restrooms, the paucity of vegetation and shade trees, or the vast expanses of unswept hardtop? The only RLS-ish qualities we can think of in the nearly ambience-free Ala Wai are the Hawaii YC, the little community behind the fuel dock, the boatyard, and the surfer's hangout in front of Ala Moana break.

"Everyone wants to blame the government when things aren't perfect?" Is "not perfect" what you call it when berths are allowed to become so badly dilapidated that something like 30% of them had to be condemned, and many of the rest aren't in much better shape? In our opinion, the Ala Wai has been a world class embarrassment of a yacht harbor for decades, and there is simply not enough 'polish' in the world to suffice for the massive rebuild that's long overdue. And while we haven't visited the Ala Wai in several years, over a period of several decades we'd found the harbor staff to be about the most indifferent and uncaring in the world.

As for the "really nice" floating docks over by the Waikiki YC that you like so much, are you under the illusion that they are the work of the State of Hawaii? It's our understanding that the state had nothing to do with them — other than getting the hell out of the way and letting self-supporting non-government entity that is the Waikiki YC demonstrate how to improve a marina facility. While the Waikiki YC docks were being built, the State of Hawaii, despite healthy annual surpluses from berth fees, inexplicably let the Ala Wai and Keehi Marinas fall into states of nearly complete disrepair. If there was ever a textbook example of how poorly a government agency can ruin something, we think the Ala Wai is it.

We agree with your assertion that, in general, the boats in the Ala Wai tend to be a little older and scruffier than the boats in many other marinas. But you don't seem to understand the reason. Historically, the berth rates at the Ala Wai — despite waiting lists of 10 to 20 years — have been ridiculously low, in many cases less than half as much as at similar marinas elsewhere in the States. Since the berths cost so little, people with berths would hang on to them forever — even long after they stopped using and maintaining their boats. The berth fees were so low that some boats were — and probably still are — rented out as storage space for the owners of neighboring boats! It's been the preposterously low berth rates, combined with the woefully inefficient use of marina space, that have prevented enthusiastic new blood and better maintained boats from coming into the Ala Wai. No wonder it's been something of a 'dead marina' for so long.

You listed seven reasons that you love the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor. Did you notice that not one of them had anything to do with the Ala Wai itself? Imagine how great it would be if the Ala Wai were even just a half-assed yacht harbor, and the state demonstrated an inkling of pride of ownership. By far the two best parts of the Ala Wai are the Waikiki and Hawaii YCs. What a coincidence that they are both overseen by mariners who care about the facilities, and not by government employees who so often have seemed to be content with doing little more than collecting their salaries and counting their days to retirement. If the rest of the Ala Wai were half as nicely run and maintained as the Hawaii and Waikiki YCs — and in a similarly friendly manner — the Ala Wai would be much a better place.

When a facility has been as been as badly mismanaged as the Ala Wai has been for decades, the management deserves the blame — and like it or not, the Ala Wai has been managed by the State of Hawaii. As we've written time and again, it's in the interest of everyone, from taxpayers in Hawaii to boatowners, that the State of Hawaii get out of the marina management business. To see what happened when they actually did that at one marina, see the following letter.

By the way, we've never heard of the Honolulu YC and can't find any reference to it on the net. Can we assume that you meant to say that you're a member of the Hawaii YC?


Finding a spot to tie up in Hawaii continues to be something between tragedy and a very bad joke — with the exception of one very positive development in Honolulu. After sailing 2,000-3,000 miles to get to Hawaii, most sailors are keen to find a nice safe spot to tie up, blast off the salt, and get some sleep. Sadly, nature and the State of Hawaii continue to conspire to make this difficult.

For cruisers from the mainland United States or Mexico, Hilo, because it's the shortest distance, is often the first stop in Hawaii. Hilo has one of the prettiest little bays in all the places we've seen in the Pacific. Arrivals are all ushered into snug Radio Bay, which is made a little more snug by three boats that are permanently moored there, two boats abandoned by discouraged cruisers, and one boat that sank at the quay a long time ago.

But the biggest problem with Radio Bay is that it's tucked way into the bowels of the container port. Between the sights, sounds, and bright lights of the barges loading and unloading 24/7, and the post-9/11 security requirements, it’s no longer a very pleasant place to visit. In addition, anyone who does not have a TWIC, which is a Transportation Worker Identity Card, and a MARSEC, or Marine Security Certificate, must be escorted from the front gate to and from their boat. And no visitors are allowed inside the port facility.

For well-found boats with crew keen to visit the Big Island, stays in Radio Bay are strictly limited to 30 days. This includes folks like the singlehander who had just sailed up from the South Pacific, and was flying in his non-sailing wife from Germany to enjoy the islands for the summer months. The authorities told him he must leave in 30 days. Period. The rule apparently does not apply to derelict boats and the handful of local craft.

There happens to be a beautiful big anchorage just off downtown Hilo that is well inside the breakwater and just southwest of pretty little Coconut Island. Anyone spending any time in Radio Bay would unquestionably want to anchor there to get a break from the noise of the forklifts and containers. We repeatedly asked the harbormaster for permission to anchor out there, but were consistently warned that anchoring in Hilo Bay is strictly prohibited. Why? "Security reasons."

Radio Bay is bordered by the port on the west and south, while the breakwater and the ocean beyond are to the north. On the east, somewhat ironically, is a beautiful park-like setting with grass, a launch ramp, picnic tables, and public access. It turns out that this is state land administered by the University of Hawaii. I ventured to ask if cruisers could use this area to get to and from their boats — as opposed to having to be escorted through the container port. I was advised that it was “not recommended.” Why? "For security reasons."

I also learned that when implementing the post-9/11 security protocols, it was suggested that Hawaii's Small Boat Division take over Radio Bay and change the Radio Bay access point to the “park-like setting.” In other words, fence Radio Bay out of the container port instead of inside it. This would have been less complicated and would have cost less. But apparently the Harbor Division didn't want to give up control of Radio Bay. Go figure.

It’s such a shame that a gem like Hilo Bay can't be used more effectively for recreation. For me, the ultimate irony is that the container port, around which everything seems to revolve, makes no sense at all. All barge traffic comes from Honolulu, 200 miles northwest. If you’ve ever seen a tug and barge chugging upwind through the Alenuihaha Channel, you know what a struggle this is. After all, it's one of the most consistently windy and rough passages in the world, maybe second to only Cook Strait in New Zealand. By contrast, the west coast of the Big Island has a barge harbor, and the tall island typically projects a 100-mile wind shadow that runs to within about 50 miles south of Oahu. Is using Radio Bay all about unions hanging onto jobs in Hilo, or just a state government incapable of progress?

We'd hoped to do a little gunkholing between Hilo and Honolulu. There are some beautiful anchorages, but nature demands lots of patience to make such a cruise work. Unfortunately, we only had a couple of weeks to work with, and the trades had come up big time. It was blowing 25 to 30 knots in all the channels, and 35+ at all the points. In these conditions, the list of acceptable anchorages gets pretty short: Sugar Beach and Honolua Bay on Maui, Kaunakakai and Lono on Molokai, and Kaumalapau on Lanai. We’ll have to do yet another lap of the Pacific if we're to get to the spectacular north shore of Molokai. But for those who aren't familiar with cruising in Hawaii, if you're going to cruise, you'd better have lots of time to sit out periods of heavy trades.

Having been roughed up a bit between the Big Island and Oahu, we were looking forward to some R&R at the famous 600-berth Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu. To our surprise, there was a little less 'aloha' than there had been in the past at the Hawaii YC. While there were seven or eight boats on the Aloha Dock, there wasn’t even any discussion — as there always would have been before — about whether to move, raft, or otherwise squeeze in one more boat. The Waikiki YC did have some empty space at its transient dock, but it was "reserved." Nonetheless, it remained empty for three days.

That left us with the Ala Wai State Harbor part of the Ala Wai — which is the overwhelming majority of it — as our last resort. We called them five times between 12:30 to 3:00 in the afternoon — but nobody ever answered. So we tied up at the fuel dock to get the scoop. As it was late on Saturday afternoon, a local suggested that we wait till after 4:00 p.m., then just grab a spot somewhere in the harbor. There is a loading dock in the inner corner of the harbor, and a long, brand new dock that is yet to be assigned to anyone. It was explained that the since the harbor office would be closed until Tuesday, staying there would give us more than enough time to come up with a plan.

After getting fuel, we opted for the new dock, as it was easy to get our catamaran in and out, and it had fresh water. But we weren't tied up there for more than five minutes before the Harbormaster and his assistant — it was now after hours — came running over to shoo us away. As we had nowhere else to go, they were kind enough to let us use the loading dock for one night. It wasn't a horrible spot — as long as we made sure we didn't get any of the many plastic bags in the water sucked up into our engine intake, and presuming we stayed aboard at all times to guard the boat against the many people who walk right by on the sidewalk.

We still would have been in a world of hurt but for a cruiser we met in Hilo, who told us that the Kewalo Basin Marina in Honolulu had started accepting recreational vessels. For decades, the Kewalo Basin had been run by the state's Harbor Division, mostly for commercial fisherman and big charter boats for tourists. Given the basin's desirable location near the Ala Moana Mall and Park, apparently the state decided to spruce the area up a bit. To do this, they turned operations over to the Community Development Agency, a state department. To everyone’s amazement, this agency — unlike the Harbor Division and the Department of Land & Natural Resources — recognized that they know nothing about running a marina. So they handed the operation of it over to Almar, a private marina manager with lots of locations in California.

While Almar has impressive long-range plans to improve the infrastructure and deal with the strong surge that reflects into the harbor from the Ala Moana surf break, the new team has turned the place around by simply taking care of basics. Charles, the harbormaster, and staff members John and Hillary,answer the phone, collect rents, offer reasonable security, keep the place tidy and free of trash, and work to get boats into empty slips. What a concept! Keep an eye on Kewalo Basin, as it's going to give the Ala Wai a real run for its money. The attached photo is of the view we had looking south from our slip in Kewalo Basin. Not bad, is it?

Pete & Sue Wolcott
Kiapa, M&M 52 Cat
Kapa'a, HI


I see that my criticism of how you wrote about Thailand is raised once again in the Letters pages. I hope I will get a chance to respond. Readers may remember that the dispute arose from an article in your February issue which celebrated the fact that, "If you're a lonely guy, you can find an attractive young Thai 'girlfriend' in about 10 minutes on any night of the week." In other words, there is a prevalence of prostitution in Thailand.

Now a letter writer — Mike Riley — claims in the August issue that Thais are more free than we are here in the United States. He bases his claim on his visit to Thailand. His view is testimony to the fact that people can visit a country and come away knowing less about it than before they went there. Had he done just a few minutes research, he would have found that it is a crime, punishable by 15 years in prison, to "insult" the king. This is not some dead letter of the law. When the military overthrew the elected government in '06, noted Thai professor Ji Giles Unpakorn criticized the fact that the coup apparently had the king's blessing. He was brought up on charges of insulting the king ("lese majeste") and had to flee the country.

Some freedom of speech.

John Reimann
Y-Knot?, Catalina 36

John — For the life of us, we don't quite understand what gets you so worked up about Thailand. Yes, prostitution is common there. It's also common — although not quite so public — in the Bay Area and the rest of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, all over Europe, throughout South America, all over Asia — and even in some Muslim countries. So what was your point again?

You say that our photo caption — "If you're a lonely guy, you can find an attractive young Thai 'girlfriend' in about 10 minutes on any night of the week," — "celebrates" that such a thing can be done. Nonsense. It simply states a well-known fact.

When Riley — who has circumnavigated twice, and lived in Thailand — says that Thais are more free than we Americans are, you jump all over him because — as you correctly note — it is a very serious crime to insult the King of Thailand. But are you trying to suggest that your single example proves a much broader generalization about freedom? We hope not.

Deciding if one relatively free country is more free than another relatively free country is a fool's errand, for it all depends on how one is going to measure something as elusive as freedom. You may disagree with Riley, but we can assure you that many cruisers believe the United States is effectively a lot less free than many other countries in the world.


In regard to the photo on page 78 of the August issue, showing a man preparing to step the mast on his sailboat with a rope hanging from the Highway 37 bridge, I talked to the guy. Evidently, the Highway Patrol officer who showed up shortly after the photo was taken didn't have a problem with the man's mast hanging sideways from his boat suspended by a rope. It's conceivable that the officer just wasn't paying too much attention, because the owner of the boat told me the cop had asked him if he had seen anyone jump off the bridge! Apparently someone had seen the owner of the boat on the bridge getting the rope ready for his mast and jumped to conclusions.

When I showed up to launch my boat, the man already had the mast up and the rigging in place, and was preparing the rest of the boat to go sailing. When I spoke with him, I learned that his sailing experience consisted of a test sail in Seattle, when he bought the boat. I pointed out that he wasn't going to get his boat launched right then because the tide was out, and he'd likely have to wait until high tide at 2 p.m. to have enough water.

When I returned from fishing at 2:30 p.m., his boat was in the water. But he asked me if I had some gas for his kicker motor. I replied that I had a couple of gallons, but that he was going to need more than that for the 15-mile trip to his moorage. That was the end of my contact with him, but I wonder how he fared getting to his destination. After all, he was a pretty inexperienced skipper and his boat wasn't even registered. But somehow I think he did pretty well because he managed to get his boat rigged and launched all by himself — no mean feat when it comes to a 28-footer with a full keel.

Nick Kies

Nick — At least he was smart enough to step the mast from the Highway 37 bridge and not the Golden Gate Bridge.


I'm the guy you busted for using the Highway 37 bridge to step the mast on my O'Day Outlaw. I don't know if Managing Editor Andy Turpin remembers, but I spoke with him briefly at the Strictly Sail Pacific Show in Oakland, and thanked him for helping me find my boat through a Classy Classified.

To clear things up, here are the facts: I'm a very broke sailor, and I knew that by using the bridge to step my mast, I was flirting with some kind of citation. And, in fact, I couldn't have come any closer to getting one. My one-man covert operation of flying the block off the bridge was supposed to occur at zero-dark-thirty. Instead, having taken more precautionary time to haul this rare Martha's Vineyard '67 O'Day Outlaw for her first California dip, I arrived well after sunrise. Not good.

While scurrying up the narrow side of Highway 37 to launch the block, I was seen — and worse — reported by a passing commuter. Imagine my horror when, not 10 minutes after the scandalous photos that appeared in Latitude were taken, a Highway Patrol vehicle swung around and pulled up next to me. And by that time, I had the mast of my boat clearly hanging from the bridge.

"We got a report that someone jumped off the bridge," said the Highway Patrolman. "How long have you been here?"

"Oh, about two hours, sir."

"Well, I guess nobody jumped then. Have a good day."

He then drove off. I'm not sure how to sum up that one but to say I was just damn lucky . . . except I had to throw away the pair of underwear I'd been wearing.
By the way, I used the boat's Barlow winch to hoist the 125-lb mast as quickly as I could, at which point I secured the shrouds and retrieved the block. Other than that, the launch went very smoothly. There wasn't a single disaster, and it was my first time launching her.

But it was indeed Latitude that found the Outlaw, one of only two known to be on the West Coast, for me. I placed an ad in Latitude looking for an Outlaw, and after three months I got a call from an Outlaw owner in Olympia, Washington. The boat hadn't been advertised for sale, but the owner said she was "a very nice one." I left to see her the very next day.

She immediately seduced me — her curves, low cabin shear, perfect paint, and balanced teak trim. Plus, she was original and 98% uncut. Although I had never sailed in my life, I fell head-over-heels in love with the boat. We agreed on a fair price — thank you, Mr. and Mrs. H — I took many pictures, then I drove home to begin raising money. I had to build a cradle, then retrofit a trailer from discarded mobile home running gear. To make a long story short, a year later I arrived at the launch ramp and scrambled up to the Highway 37 bridge with a block.

I want to thank everyone at Latitude for helping me find this beautiful Outlaw, and in no small way, for bringing me my favorite sailing magazine.

For what it's worth, I'm a licensed A&P mechanic and a 500-hour multi-engine pilot, currently running my own handyman operation in Southern Marin and living with my girlfriend in San Anselmo. My father just bought a house in Sausalito for me to fix up, and I'll be moving there soon — which is nice, because that's where I'm keeping my Outlaw.

Brian Piercy
Renegade, O'Day Outlaw

Brian — When we started Latitude in the mid-'70s, there were all kinds of interesting, independent and fearless folks like you living near the water in Sausalito. Over the years, almost all of them were replaced by lawyers, accountants, dentists and financial managers. Not that there's anything wrong with them, but we're glad to have some of the free-wheeling spirit back in town.


We are interested in exploring what medical insurance options are available to cruisers, and whether cruisers have had good or bad experiences with them. Are there any important nuances to know when selecting one plan over another?

We're looking for coverage in the case of heart attack, sudden illness and things like gallbladder surgery, and are looking for a plan that would be good around the world. Can you ask cruisers for their recommendations?

By the way, we had an excellent experience with DAN when Dennis was injured in the Galapagos in '03. They paid $18,000 to have two pilots fly Dennis and me, along with a doctor, to Quito. It was wonderful how DAN organized Dennis's care, choosing the city and hospital, and coordinating medical care for him. DAN doctors were available to discuss his case, answering questions along the journey of three surgeries in Ecuador. They also paid for my return flight back to the Galapagos.

Nobody should go cruising without DAN insurance coverage. We can't say enough excellent things about them. Unfortunately, I don't think DAN covers regular health care or sudden medical conditions.

Marta Jensen
Freeland, WA

Marta — We'll be happy to ask cruisers what they do for health insurance while traveling. We suspect there will be a variety of answers. The answer we always seem to get from budget cruisers is that the United States is the only place you have to worry about medical bills, because treatment is either free or so reasonable everywhere else.

Nonetheless this is an important topic, so if you're out cruising, we'd very much appreciate your sharing what kind of insurance you have, if any, where you got it, and if your experiences have been good or bad. Send your responses to Richard. Thank you.

As for DAN, we've received nothing but positive comments about them. For those who aren't familiar with it, DAN stands for Divers Alert Network, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit medical and research organization dedicated to the safety and health of recreational scuba divers, and is associated with Duke University Medical Center (DUMC). DAN is supported by 200,000 members, and in addition to providing a 24-hour medical hotline, offers up to $100,000 in medical evacuation in the event of a diving injury.


We would like to apply for membership in Latitude's Over 30 Club for people who have owned the same boat for more than 30 years. We purchased our '78 Explorer Elfinstar in Seabrook, Texas, in February of '80. We've lived aboard her for 20 of the 30 years we have owned her.

We borrowed almost the entire amount of money we paid for our boat, so funds were pretty tight for the first 15 years. As a result, we didn't have a lot of electronics that were common on other boats of the time. For example, no Loran C, no depthsounder, no knotmeter, no radar and no wind instruments. We navigated using bulkhead and hand-bearing compasses along with an AM radio. It wasn't hard to tell when the water got too shallow for our boat, because we simply ran aground — something we did 36 times. The water in Galveston Bay, which is where we sailed in the early years, only averages about 10 feet, and our boat draws eight feet, so running around was easy to do. Fortunately, the bottom of Galveston Bay is mud, so there was never any damage done. The lack of common navigation and electronic gear wasn't all bad, as it forced us to develop skills we wouldn't have learned otherwise.

One thing the boat did have was a decent set of Lee hank-on sails, and a very tough spinnaker — but no spinnaker gear. We later found a broken whisker pole off a big boat and welded it up to make a spinnaker pole — which we still use today. We started doing some TGIF races and other low-key events. Since fixed marks were used in those days, and the courses were the old Olympic triangles, there was often a lot of reaching in windy conditions. This very much favored our kind of boat. We not only had a ball racing, but it made all the difference in the world in helping us develop our boat handling skills and confidence.

A job change required a move to SoCal in '87, so our Explorer 45 made the trip to Marina del Rey via I-10. Our running aground habit didn't change, as the trailer our boat was on high-centered twice during the trip, which required the services of a winch truck both times.

We joined Windjammers' YC in Marina del Rey in '88, and began doing PHRF racing. Unfortunately, the windward-leeward courses and light air are not kind to our heavy, traditional boat with a full keel. So we took some ideas from the casual races in Texas, added a few twists of our own, and developed the Cruising Class of racing boats at the Windjammers' YC. The first distance race to have a formal Cruising Class was the Marina del Rey to San Diego race sponsored by the Windjammers' and Southwestern YCs in '89. I created this class so we would be able to continue to enjoy racing, having no idea it would be adopted by many other clubs in Southern California. There is even a Cruising Class in the Ensenada Race and other races to Mexico.

Elfinstar was finally paid off in '95, and ever since we've been catching up on maintenance and adding gear, some of the latter for comfort, some for ease of sailing. We now keep our boat at the Cabrillo Beach YC in San Pedro. We no longer race Elfinstar, as she's too heavy now, and the care and feeding of a crew for a 45-ft boat is a bit more than we wanted. But we wanted to keep racing, so we bought a Cal 20.

At the same time, we're almost finished outfitting Elfinstar and are preparing to go cruising. We have installed all of the systems on the boat ourselves, and use them every day, so we are confident that we can keep a complicated boat going without too many issues. Hopefully you will see us on the starting line of the Ha-Ha sometime within the next three years. Until then, we will enjoy as many weeks and weekends as we can at Cherry Cove in Catalina. Hope to see you there.

Wayne & Enola Gay Warrington
Elfinstar, Explorer 45
San Pedro

Wayne and Enola Gay — Thanks very much for that recap. By the way, if you're indeed responsible for the advent of the Cruising Class in races in Southern California, to some degree you are responsible for the Ha-Ha. It was after entering our Ocean 71 Big O in the Cruising Class of the Long Beach YC's Cabo Race in '93 that we decided to start the Ha-Ha, which is an all-Cruising Class rally to Mexico. So we can't wait to see you on that event.


Max Ebb wrote a generous article about the discovery of a book, Saving Sailing by Nicholas Hayes. According to the author, the number of people sailing is down from '79, and he makes an argument and proposal to grow the sailing population. Of course youth programs are critically important for the longevity of the sport.

But what I find amazing about Max is his attitude toward powerboaters. And I quote, "The trailerable powerboat or Jet Ski — usually hauled around by an SUV — is the natural enemy." Really?

When you set off your EPIRB or your boat breaks down, does the Coast Guard or one of the tow services send a glider or a sailboat to search for you? No, they send an airplane or a powerboat, both of which are powered by engines, because they are the best choices for the job.

The fact is that powerboaters and sailors have one major thing in common — a love of being on the water. The fact that we use different means for propulsion means almost nothing. Given that a sailboat under power is essentially a powerboat, it would appear that there is hypocrisy in the antagonistic attitude that some sailors have toward powerboaters. I believe that since both groups share the same love of being on the water, the best possible alliance is for sailors and powerboaters to join forces and work together to protect the sports we love. Besides, introducing powerboaters to sailing could create a rather rapid increase in the number of people participating in sailing, even if it were an occasional event.

I think it's our job as private citizens to invite other people into the world we love, no matter if it's sailing or powerboating. And yes, I know everyone has a powerboating horror story. But there are lots of sailing horror stories too, such as that of the boat that t-boned Maltese Falcon.

The part that I find most idiotic in the 'Better Way to Save Sailing' outline is the judgment that powerboating should be banned. This is the United States of America, a land once defined by people free to choose the life they love. If the author has his way, he'll dictate what your freedoms should be and what choices we're allowed to make. It's actually rather offensive that Max thinks he knows what is good for all of us. Rather than be divisive, perhaps both groups could start working together. Or is it more important for Max to maintain that air of superiority and arrogance over anyone who doesn’t see the world the way he does?

Richard Frankhuizen
Powerboat owner and sailor

Richard — Whoa! There needs to be some clarifications, and on several levels, too. First, what Max writes is his opinion, not necessarily the opinion of Latitude 38. Having said that, let's review Max's three main points.

1) Max said that trailerable powerboats and Jet Skis are the "natural enemy" of the Audubon Society and Sierra Club, not sailors — although we can certainly think of specific times and circumstances when, recklessly operated, both are the enemies of sailors. Such as when they slam into sailboats a la the tragedy on Clear Lake, and when they endlessly and noisily circle sailboats.

On a second reading, we can see how some readers might think Max was saying that trailerable powerboats and Jet Skis are the natural enemy of sailors. If that's what he meant, we strongly disagree with him. It's a big Bay and ocean out there.

2) Max said that all operators of powerboats need to be licensed. Given the meaninglessness of automobile driver's licenses, we're ambivalent about licensing in general — at least as practiced in this state. But given the huge disparity between the number of people injured and killed in small powerboats and Jet Skis compared to the number injured and killed in sailboats, we think it's an idea worth considering. But only in the case of boats that can regularly be operated in excess of 10 knots. There is no denying that speed kills on the water, and many trailerable powerboats and Jet Skis have that kind of speed — and often a lot more — to burn.

3) Max said he supports "no-wake areas and powerboat bans" in "small bodies of water." We suppose his statement could have been read to mean they should be banned entirely, but we're certain he didn't mean that. After all, what would he use for race committee boats, crash boats and research projects?

Due to a scheduling mix up, we were once given a powerboat rather than a sailboat for a week long 'familiarization' tour of Tonga. We found the powerboat to be convenient, but boring as hell. But hey, if that's what somebody else likes, good for them. Our only hope is that no matter what kind of boat anyone operates — including an auxiliary-powered sailboat — that they do so being mindful of how much fuel they burn, using it as efficiently as possible. At some point — maybe burning 50 gallons an hour — it becomes just a bit tacky.


This is a good news follow-up to an article I first submitted in '00 about my husband Howard's eye cancer. Hopefully it will help others.

We left San Diego aboard our 41-ft ketch Nintai in November of '98 and sailed to Mexico. We spent 4½ wonderful years in that country before continuing farther south. But in May of '00, while having a blister job done at a boatyard in La Paz, we returned to California while the hull dried out. Howard lost his glasses somewhere in the Dana Point West Marine, store where he'd gotten a part time job, and went to Costco in Capistrano Beach to get replacement glasses. He wasn't a happy camper — and apparently even made a lot of noise in the store about it — when he was told his prescription was too old and that he needed an eye exam. But forcing him to get a new eye exam probably saved his life. (Howard would later return to Costco and thank the man who refused to renew his prescription.)

Howard had his eye examined at the V.A. facility in San Diego, during which time his eye was dilated. The doctor noticed a growth, which looked like a pimple the size of a dime at the back inside of his left eye. A retinal specialist eventually diagnosed choroidal melanoma — scary stuff. Howard had never had any discomfort, loss of vision or other symptoms. Had the growth not been caught, Howard would have ultimately lost his vision and the cancer might have spread to other parts of his body.

We learned that choroidal melanoma is sometimes called 'sunburn of the eye', and can come from being out in the sun too much and not wearing sunglasses. About six million people — age is not a factor — are diagnosed with it in the U.S. each year. The good news is that it's a very slow growing cancer so, caught early, it doesn't spread. In some cases, doctors will just watch to make sure it doesn't grow too fast. The consensus then was if the depth got over 3 mm, something had to be done before the bad cells spread to the liver and lungs. Howard's was 2.8 mm.

In '00, there were three choices of treatment. Option 1 was to watch it for three months and see if it grew. But this was melanoma, so we didn't like this option. Option 2 was having a 'plaque' — which is sort of a disc of gold, a little bigger than the growth, that is filled with radioactive material — tacked to the backside of the eye behind the growth. In some parts of the U.S. and the world, patients have to stay in isolation because of the radiation. In California, patients are sometimes put under house arrest for a week. All patients wear a lead-lined eye-patch for the week the plaque is in. After 5-7 days, the plaque is removed, and at different intervals the eye is checked to see if the cancer has grown or shrunk. There is no chemotherapy or other radiation on the eye. A variation of Option 2 is to have the growth zapped from the outside with radiation or lasers. Sometimes this damages the eye or results in the loss of vision.

In Option 3, the entire eye is replaced with an artificial one. Today's artificial eyes are really good, and they even move around like a regular eye. Removal of the eye used to be the regular procedure when a person was diagnosed with this disease, and it's still done if the plaque treatment isn't used.

Strangely enough, Howard's sister-in-law, who also lived on a boat, had had cancer in the front of her eye a few years before. She wasn't aware of it until she started having vision problems, so the only option was to remove her eye. In her case, the cancer wasn't caught in time, it spread, and she passed away. She was a special lady and we miss her.

Howard decided on Option 2, so on September 28, 2000, a one-hour outpatient surgery was performed at the Shiley Eye Institute in La Jolla. Howard got four stitches behind the eye to hold the plaque in place. For the next week, he wore a very stylish lead-lined eye patch. After the surgery, Howard's two complaints were that he couldn't get to McDonald's soon enough for breakfast and his eye itched like crazy. Most of the next week he lay around and watched the Olympics. On October 5, he returned to Shiley Eye Institute where they performed the same procedure, but this time removing the plaque. Again we rushed to McDonalds for breakfast. After there was no sign of infection, we returned to our boat in La Paz.

Howard's short term complaints were that his eye itched, and it hurt when he looked far to the left or right, the latter being a result of the eye muscles having been moved during surgery, For a few weeks after the surgery, his depth perception was off, so he didn't drive. By the end of November, he had normal vision straight ahead, but double vision when looking to the sides or up or down. He no longer has double vision.

Twice a year Howard returned to California to have his eye examined and get a blood test and a CT scan of his liver. In the subsequent years, he's been checked out in the U.S., El Salvador and Costa Rica. His last examination was done in August of '09, and everything was still fine. Yeah! The growth itself will never disappear, but it is still measurably smaller and no longer has active edges — something that's very important.

What we learned from this is how important it is to have a good eye exam — by an ophthalmologist — during which time your eye is dilated so they can look around. Howard's cancer could not have been seen had his eye not be dilated.

In addition, it's very important for anyone in the boating community to wear sunglasses, sunblock and hats. Statistics show that people who spend a lot of time outdoors but don't wear sunglasses are very prone to this eye disease. We feel we are really blessed that Howard’s eye cancer was found early and responded to quick treatment.

When buying sunglasses, it's really important to make sure they are UV protected. If you buy sunglasses outside the United States, they may not be. While in Cartagena, I bought a pair of sunglasses with a stick-on 'UV' label from a street vendor. After purchasing the glasses, the vendor peeled the label off and stuck it on another pair of sunglasses to sell to some other unsuspecting tourist.

P.S. After leaving Mexico, we spent six months at Bahia Del Sol in El Salvador, a short time in Nicaragua, and six months along the coast of Costa Rica and inland. We arrived in Panama in April of '04, and a year later transited the Canal. We made a couple of trips to Cartagena, Colombia, and continued to enjoy the San Blas Islands. We just transited the Panama Canal from the Atlantic side back to the Pacific side, and are currently on a mooring at the Balboa YC. In March of this year we had a chance to meet Latitude's Andy Turpin when he spoke to the Pacific Puddle Jump group. Happy cruising to all!

Donna Maloney
Nintai, 41-ft ketch



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