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February 2011

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I just returned from the ceremony at City Hall celebrating the fact that the 34th America's Cup match will be sailed on San Francisco Bay. All the players were there, including the mayor and Larry Ellison. Larry made it sound as if there was never any choice other than San Francisco. The mayor said that it was right and proper for Oracle Racing to look around at other possibilities. It was another love fest, just like the one in February when the mayor gave Larry the key to the City for winning the Cup in Valencia.

In reality, the venue decision was not a close contest. The only other serious contender was Newport. Italy and Dubai were mere phantom contestants. Newport was given three weeks to put together a bid that it took San Francisco six months to plan, organize and get approved by all those whose approval was needed.

Newport is a small fraction of the size of San Francisco. The real player back there is the state of Rhode Island, a state that has been hit very hard by the economic recession. They were given this 'opportunity' during the holiday season and while the state legislature was not in session. When the bid organizers had a meeting with the incoming governor, they were told there was no public money available for this event. Rhode Island is perhaps even more broke than San Francisco. There was never any realistic chance for Newport to serve as a venue, but the Oracle folks did a good job of convincing the folks in San Francisco that the prize could slip away.

In the end, and with the deadline at hand, there was really only one choice. The 'fingernail story' was just that -— a story designed to put fear in the minds of folks who worked very hard in good faith to put a fair and reasonable deal in front of Larry Ellison.

I think the City, especially the Mayor's Office, is to be commended on the effort they put forth to secure this event. I am one who is frequently critical of our government here in San Francisco, but not this time. The City put together an effort that we have not seen around here for a long time, and it just shows what can be done when we all pull together in a common cause. Congratulations to the City and all those who made it happen. Things will be interesting around here for the next three years at least.

Bruce Munro
Princess, Sabre 402
San Francisco Bay

Bruce — Having followed the years of dysfunctional governance in San Francisco, the publisher of Latitude never gave the Cup more than a 30% chance of coming to San Francisco. We salute everyone — including members of the Latitude staff — who were less cynical and worked so hard to get the Cup to come to San Francisco Bay. We're irked about Newport's continuing to be mentioned as a "backup" venue, but we believe that the world of sailing is indeed about to become a lot more interesting around San Francisco Bay.


In the January issue of Latitude, you hit it right on the head when you wrote that if the America's Cup were held somewhere besides San Francisco ". . . there would be far fewer critics."

I say hooray that San Francisco got the America's Cup, but if you'd read the reader responses to the Chronicle's report on it, you'd have thought nothing could be worse.

'Gee, what a bad deal, to have rotting old piers fixed up and leased out. How awful. Somebody must be cheating us.'

'Oh my, the traffic. Oh my, I jog there.'

'Oh my, my dog poops there.' (OK, that's not a real response, but one I made up.)

Nonetheless, I wish Larry Ellison and the Golden Gate YC all the luck, because San Francisco being San Francisco, I think they're going to need it.

Peter Groves
Fast Water, Tayana 52
Roche Harbor, WA


We want to thank Latitude and everyone involved for the America's Cup FAQs that you've posted on the Latitude website. It answered almost all of our questions. Keep up the great work.

Marcia & Jerry Phillips
Planet Earth

Marcia and Jerry — We're glad you liked it. It was mostly the work of Racing Editor Rob Grant, but with contributions from almost all of the rest of the staff.

As there will be constant developments with the America's Cup, our America's Cup FAQ page on will be continually updated. It should be fun, particularly now that it's been confirmed that the big BMW Oracle Racing trimaran that won the last America's Cup is on her way to San Francisco Bay. Can you imagine how jaws will drop watching that monster sailing machine rocketing across the Bay at near her top speed of over 45 knots?


I'm a singlehander who sails out of Berkeley Marina, and I find that it's always nice to have a destination. Pier 1½, which has that terrific dock with a three-hour limit, is an example. After all, that's plenty of time to shop the sales at Macy's.

Is there any chance that the renovation of piers for the upcoming America's Cup will include public boat access to piers for the unwashed sailing masses — or even those of us who are only sweaty? On the north shore of Lake Tahoe, the local towns negotiated development rights that included some really great upgrades to that shoreline. I'm thinking of Commons Beach in Tahoe City, and the Tahoe Vista boat launch and picnic area. Any idea if the San Francisco Board of Supervisors was prescient enough to have considered local sailors while they were negotiating with the America's Cup folks?

Jackie Philpott
Dura Mater, Cal 20
Berkeley Marina

Jackie — We think your suggestion is an excellent one. There are few things that non-sailors seem to like to watch more than sailboats coming into and out of harbors. And it would be nice for boatowners, too. In looking at diagrams for the proposed America's Cup development, it seems there is space being set aside for visiting boats. However, we're not aware that the details have been worked out. We suspect it would be tremendously expensive during Cup events, but hope it could be free at other times of the year.

It would also be nice if the City made provisions for dinghies to be landed and safely tied up at Aquatic Park. As it stands now, Aquatic Park seems like a facility that's underutilized by mariners.


We're a couple planning to start an open-ended cruise in two years. We are trying to tie off each loose end in advance, but it's amazing how much boat and people prep there is to be done.

One thing we're struggling with is how cruisers declare non-residency in California for income tax purposes, particularly since we're keeping a house and renting it out. We don't want to sell the house, but only because we think we'd take a financial beating, not because we're going to return to it.

The California tax people seem to want to compare ties at a new location to those kept in California, and we won't have any new state. This has got to be something that California cruisers have dealt with before, but I can't find anything on it — including in Latitude's tremendously helpful and easily searchable archives. Can you provide any help?

We haven't told our employers about our plans, so please withhold our names.

Names Withheld By Request
Somewhere in California

N.W.B.R. — As you can read in a report in this month's Cruise Notes, it's easy and very inexpensive to establish residency in another state. For example, if you sign up for mail forwarding with St. Brendan's Isle in Florida, they provide you with a legal street address, where you can get bank statements and your boat documentation. As far as Florida is concerned, that's all you need to qualify to get a Florida driver's license and get on their voter registration rolls.

While that means you would no longer be a legal resident of the once-great and now-completely-broke State of California, it would not mean that you'd be completely free of the state's reach for your money. Rest assured, they will come after you for tax on any income that comes to you from California. While we're of the persuasion that the State of California has a spending problem rather than a revenue problem, and that the high state income tax is just one of the state's many fiscal mistakes, such taxation does seem fair to us.

Here's how California determines the tax liability of non-residents or part-year residents: 1) They add up your total taxable income — from not just the States, but from around the world, too — as if you were a full time California resident. 2) They calculate your tax rate by dividing your ‘Tax on your Total Taxable Income’ by the ‘Total Taxable Income’ itself. 3) They multiply your California taxable income only by this rate.

If you Google 'California non-resident taxes', there will be a number of examples that will: 1) Make your head hurt, and 2) make you take the time to figure out whether you might be better off selling your California house and buying rental property in a state that doesn't have state income tax.


The January 3 'Lectronic story about the drowning death of Roy Wittrup in Santa Cruz brings up two important safety issues that are often discussed in Latitude.

First, there is the matter of intoxication. Apparently we will never know if this was a factor in Roy's falling into the water and drowning, but I'm afraid most of his friends assume he was intoxicated when he went into the water.

Second, there's the problem of people having trouble getting out of the water in marinas. Wittrup apparently fell into the water right next to his boat or from his boat, and couldn't get out. It's very difficult to pull oneself onto a marina dock alone, but when the water is icy cold, it's almost impossible. By the time victims realize that they might have to swim somewhere to get out of the water, they are often too exhausted and hypothermic to make much progress. And their clothes, which are hard to remove, only make the struggle more difficult.

I've read about a number of solutions to this problem in Latitude, but I guess the most useful I've seen are: 1) If you're a liveaboard or on your boat often, you should leave a rope ladder or something similar close to your boat to help you get out. 2) You should have a plan for if you fall into the water. Know where the nearest boats are with sugar scoops or accessible boarding ladders, or what's the closest distance to shore.

Steve Brenner
Necessity, Ericson 25
Santa Cruz

Steve — Falling into the water in the winter and not being able to get out is a much larger problem than we realized, at least until last year. Last winter there was at least one such victim in the Pacific Northwest, two in the Channel Islands area, and yet another in Northern California. That's way too many.

The solutions we liked best are: 1) The Up-N-Out ladder that springs down when pulled, which means it doesn't get encrusted with barnacles when not in use, and 2) Knowing the nearest places to get out of the water, as you suggested. Please everybody, be safe out there, even if just walking the dock to your boat or standing on her deck in her berth.


It being the chilly time of year here in California, I thought it might be helpful to share a very scary incident that occurred last winter. I hope I don't show too much ignorance and naiveté in what I am about to share, but here it goes.

Since it can get chilly in the winter, I bought an oil-burning anchor light and expensive smoke-free oil, and used it inside to take the chill out of the coldest evenings. It worked like a treat for a couple of weeks.

Then one night I woke up at 2 a.m. feeling very groggy. I also had a splitting headache and was barely able to sit up. Furthermore, we were enveloped in a black haze. I tried to rouse my wife, but couldn't get her to move!

I struggled the 15 feet to where the oil lamp was situated, and realized that it wasn't burning correctly. We normally sleep with our port lights open, but we must have closed them at some point so I rushed around to open them all. I managed to push my wife so that her face was right next to an open 10-inch port, and made her keep her face there.

Had I not been awakened by the splitting headache, I'm sure we both would have been dead a few minutes later. The obvious lesson is to be extremely careful how you use oil lamps in enclosed areas — as well as any other devices that remove oxygen from the air. I'm not an expert, so it's just my conjecture that the oil lamp kind of 'turbo'd' when it became starved for oxygen. I wonder how many lives have been lost this way, with the correct cause of death never being discovered because the bodies weren't found until days later?

Furthermore, the danger from the oil lamp indoors was not limited to our dying from asphyxiation — when I rushed to turn off the lamp, some parts of it were red hot and I was badly burned. I was in such bad condition at the time that I didn't realize it. If I hadn't discovered the problem when I did, I believe a fire might have started.

My wife and I count ourselves very lucky to be alive, and hope that Latitude readers will learn and benefit from our experience. We continue to enjoy Latitude, but ask that you withhold our names so as to not alarm loved ones.

Name Withheld By Request

N.W.B.R. — We appreciate your sharing your experience, as it may indeed save lives. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 500 Americans a year die from carbon monoxide poisoning, 40% of them associated with fuel-burning heating equipment in homes, boats and offices. Carbon monoxide is a product of incomplete combustion of organic matter with insufficient oxygen supply to enable complete oxidation to carbon dioxide. As carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and non-irritating, it is very difficult for people to detect.

Boating safety experts warn that flame-producing devices must not be used in non-ventilated areas. This includes alcohol heaters and stoves, propane heaters and stoves, catalytic heaters, oil or gasoline lamps, and charcoal stoves and grills that consume oxygen. As oxygen levels in an enclosed space fall, normally blue flames become yellow and smoky, indicating the presence of carbon monoxide. Reliable carbon monoxide detectors are available and relatively inexpensive.

It may come as a surprise to some, but adverse affects of carbon monoxide may also be experienced by those out in the open. You don't want to swim near the exhausts of running engines or generators, for example, and you can also suffer from being engulfed in oxygen-deficient clouds while being towed too closely behind outboards or when motoring downwind.


For everyone who sailed or had a cocktail aboard my father Howie's 45-ft (LOA) Casey ketch Nereid, which he owned from '64 to '85, and which had been built in '33, I received sad news about her in early January. It happened when I stopped by the Port San Luis Harbor Office and inquired about her whereabouts. The gal in the office told me that Nereid had sunk from the weight of 50 sea lions that climbed aboard her. The woman said she called Nereid's most recent owner to warn him that sea lions had been aboard, and that he needed to clean her decks of the scent because it only attracts more of them.

The accompanying photo of the unfortunately neglected Nereid was taken in November '07 while I was photographing erosion along the Pismo Bluffs. I believe that she was then owned by the third owner after my father had sold her. He called me a few years back to ask if I thought he should remove the ferrocement from around her hull. I told him 'no', because the ferrocement is what kept her from leaking and sinking. When I asked him what condition her interior was in, he said he had gutted it because it smelled bad.

"Did you save the butterfly table in the main salon?" I asked. No. "What about the pull-down Pullman sink in the forward head?" No. "Did you save the cut-out 'Whale locker' cupboard doors in the overhead?" No. "You gutted the entire interior, which had been built of mahogany in '33?" Yes, because it smelled. I told him that he should have started in the bilge.

After reflecting on that conversation, I can understand why sea lions had taken over. That guy didn't deserve to own a boat, let alone a wooden ketch.

Not long after I did a feature story on Nereid for the September '76 issue of Sailing magazine, my father was contacted by a guy in Fairhaven, MA, who wrote to say that he'd helped build Nereid 40 years before. Later, a local savings & loan in Fairhaven bought a photo taken by the famous San Francisco Bay sailing photographer Diane Beeston, a photo of Nereid while she was racing across the Golden Gate in the '79 Master Mariners Regatta. We had Peter English at the helm for his local knowledge in using the tides to our best advantage. Nereid took third place. The savings & loan in Fairhaven used the photo for a full page ad in the local paper to tout the craftsmanship of their residents. The owner of the boatyard sent a copy of the ad to my father.

If anyone has a photo of 50 sea lions on Nereid's deck, I'll buy it for the book I'm writing. Email me.

Pat O'Daniels
Shell Beach

Pat — The loss of a family's cherished wood boat is always a sad thing, but we think it's a little strong to say that the last owner "didn't deserve to own a boat, let alone a wooden ketch." Might it not be more accurate to say that perhaps he didn't have the requisite money, passion, and perhaps knowledge to keep such an old wooden yacht in fine condition? There are precious few people who have those three qualities these days.


After seeing a photo of my sailboat covered in snow, the publisher of Latitude wrote me a short note to ask, “What the heck would compel you to live aboard in the cold of Alaska?” The answer is easy — there is no grander place on the planet than Prince William Sound. Nowhere else where you can anchor before a tidewater glacier in waters calmer than any on San Francisco Bay. Actually, summer sailing up here is no colder than what blows through the Gate in the summer. There are also warmer areas of the Sound, similar to being able to seek warmth in the lee of Angel Island — as I did so many times during the 20-year period when I sailed there.

I’ve anchored in well over 400 places in Prince William Sound alone, and a couple of hundred more in the Southeast Alaska Panhandle. I’ve rarely shared an anchorage with another pleasure boat. If anchoring with others is something you like to do, you have to work at it up here. This summer I sailed to the Katmai Region, which is the Alaskan Peninsula east of Kodiak. I saw dozens of 60-ft fin whales, and there were brown bears everywhere. Never did see another pleasure boat, though.

Fortunately for those of us who like the Prince William Sound to be less travelled, there’s a gulf between us and the rest of the cruising world. Most cruisers think that a trip up the protected Inside Passage, which ends about 500 miles to the southeast of Prince William Sound, is 'seeing Alaska'. Perhaps because it’s more challenging to get up here to Prince William Sound, we actually see more French than American cruising boats. One French couple has been up here for years.

We don’t have hurricanes up here because we’re not in the tropics, but a couple of years ago the weather service began using the term ‘hurricane force winds’, though rarely in the summer. In fact, summer winds in Alaska are generally very light — too light, in fact. I miss San Francisco Bay sailing.

Yes, it’s cold and mostly dark during the winter up here, but winter only lasts about five months. I leave ‘town’ — meaning Valdez, population 4,500, in northeast Prince William Sound — about the end of March to start cruising and don’t return until mid-November. Although if you do stretch the season as I like to do, you need to be prepared for anything in terms of extreme weather.

You also need to like the snow to be in Alaska. Those who aren’t familiar with the stuff may not realize that it’s better than rain. Valdez get about 300 inches of snow a year — which if piled up all at once would be higher than the top of my mast. In fact, we’re #1 when it comes to snowfall in the United States, and the town in New York that is #2 doesn’t even come close. Coastal Alaska is much warmer than the interior, with average daytime temps in the winter being 20 to 30 degrees — which is just right for playing in the white stuff. Snow on the deck is also great insulation.

I spent 20 years splitting my time between sailing the Bay and climbing the Sierra before sailing out the Gate for the last time in the fall of ‘90. I cruised the Hawaiian Islands for six months, then sailed for Kodiak on May 1, ‘91. It was a 25-day upwind sail. Climbing mountains is much more convenient for me here in Alaska, as the mountains are only a short paddle away. And when I’m done, I paddle back to my floating home rather than a tent.

I’ve been to Mexico. In fact, I purchased my new Accomplice, which is a Vancouver 32 pilothouse that I found in Latitude’s Classy Classifieds, in Mazatlan. I spent two months preparing the boat when I bought her in ‘06, but Mazatlan was just too hot for me. After all, it was over 70 degrees every day. So I sailed her 4,400 miles — without motoring — to Port Townsend. After continuing the refit, I sailed the rest of the way home to Valdez. All of this was done solo, as my mate has her own sailboat. Can’t have two captains on just one boat, can you? In fact, she’s the woman seen shoveling the snow in the photo. It can’t get any better than that.

Paul May
Accomplice, Vancouver 32
Valdez, Prince William Sound, Alaska


I read with incredulity the story of the loss of Mai Tai, John Gardner’s Catalina 27, at the entrance to Channel Islands Harbor on the evening of November 20. Most unbelievable to me was that a skipper would publish a tale of such folly for the world to read.

The statement that Mai Tai would still be sailing if the Harbormaster’s office at Santa Barbara hadn’t turned him away in the face of a weather threat belies an inexperience and an evident immaturity on the part of the skipper that is totally incompatible with good seamanship and ocean sailing. He is lucky they got ashore. Indeed, Mai Tai’s loss was preventable had Mr. Gardner had simply re-entered Santa Barbara Harbor and worked something out with the Harbormaster’s office — something the woman at the counter had suggested.

Indeed, Mai Tai’s loss was also preventable had Mr. Gardner prepared himself and his crew to enter an unfamiliar harbor at night with following winds and seas. Mr. Gardner stated that due to rough conditions, “We were too busy to really look closely at the charts.” Too busy? By the way, weather buoy #46053, which is 12 miles southwest of Santa Barbara, recorded evening wind waves of 3.3 feet at 4 seconds, a dominant wave height near 4 feet at 12 seconds, and wind speed at 13.6 knots from the west at 7:50 p.m. on the night in question. Sure, these probably weren't fun conditions on a 56-degree night, but neither were they excessively rough.

In fact, Mai Tai’s loss was preventable had Mr. Gardner simply tried to fire up his engine well before entering the breakwater area. He would have then discovered that he had no back-up plan if he encountered trouble when sailing downwind into the entrance. Moreover, experience and caution would have demanded that his engine be run periodically in transit to ensure that the starting battery had an adequate charge when he needed to start the engine at the harbor entrance.

Had Mr. Gardner known that he couldn't start his engine, perhaps this would have occasioned a closer look at his chart, at which point he would have discovered the location of the shoal buoys, and the need to favor the breakwater side of the channel. He might have even considered alternatives, such as requesting a tow into the harbor. (Did he have a VHF, and did it work?)

Indeed, Mai Tai’s loss was preventable in multiple ways, each directly under the control of its skipper. Of course, I empathize with Mr. Gardner on the loss of his yacht, but in the end, the only culprit was 'operator error'.

Ray Wilson
King’s Gambit, Bavaria 38E
Long Beach


We had a problem with corruption only once during our two years of cruising in Mexico. When we arrived in Cabo with the '01 Ha-Ha, the Immigration Officer sent us to the bank to not only pay our fee, but to get 100 pesos for him to process our paperwork. The 100 pesos, about $8 U.S., went straight into his pocket.

Mary Lou Oliver
Cappuccino, Ericson 38
San Ramon

Mary — That's not an uncommon scam. Veteran cruisers know that if you always insist on getting a receipt from an official, the fee is almost always suddenly waived.

The ironic thing is that Americans visiting Mexico for the first time are often, out of ignorance, complicit in the perpetuation of mordita. When stopped by an officer for some driving infraction, you will be told that you need to give the officer your driver's license to insure that you'll show up at the police station the next day to pay your fine. This is the normal process. Yet some Americans are so ignorant and fearful, they try to give the officer $20. If he won't take that, they offer $50. And if they don't take that, they insist on him taking $100, just so he won't take their license. Give him the license, go to the police station the next day, pay your $10, and get your license back.


I used to sail out of Coyote Point in the South Bay, but am now out of Cabrillo Beach in Southern California. I have a question about Coast Guard boardings. I'm aware that there is no constitutional protection from your boat's being boarded by the Coast Guard while afloat, but what if your vessel is in her slip? Is it then considered to be private property?

Dan Borders
Rancho Palos Verdes

Dan — To review the entire issue, boats do not have the Fourth Amendment protection against illegal search and seizure as a result of United States Code, Title 14,§ 89. That code states, "The Coast Guard may make inquiries, examinations, inspections, searches, seizures, and arrests upon the high seas and waters over which the United States has jurisdiction, for the prevention, detection, and suppression of violations of laws of the United States. For such purposes, commissioned, warrant, and petty officers may at any time go on board any vessel subject to the jurisdiction, or to the operation of any law, of the United States, address inquiries to those on board, examine the ship’s documents and papers, and examine, inspect, and search the vessel and use all necessary force to compel compliance."

So to answer two frequently asked questions, it's correct that boats don't have the Fourth Amendment protections enjoyed by things like houses and cars, and yes, the U.S. Coast Guard can board U.S.-registered boats anywhere on the high seas — which includes the middle of the Indian Ocean, the deep South Pacific, the Arctic Sea — not just in U.S. territorial waters. They can also board foreign-flagged vessels anywhere on the high seas that they believe are bound for the United States, but that's quite a different issue.

As for whether the Coast Guard can board your vessel while she's in her slip, the Coast Guard's LTJG Jeremy Pichette tells us: "When determining whether the Coast Guard has the legal jurisdiction to conduct operations, three elements must exist: 1) Substantive law, 2) Vessel status/flag, and 3) Location. Each element can be broken down as such: Substantive law can include an array of U.S. laws but most often the Coast Guard is enforcing drug, fisheries, environmental/pollution, and coastal security laws among many others. For vessel status/flag, as it relates to your reader's letter, if it's a U.S.-flagged vessel, this element is met. And lastly, location — assuming your reader moors his vessel or is under way within internal waters, territorial sea, international waters, or foreign territorial seas given authorization from that costal state, this element is met. In short, as long as all three elements listed above are met, the Coast Guard has the jurisdiction to board that vessel while underway or moored."

By the way, we hope your boat is "afloat," too.


I saw a For Sale sign posted on the late Gerry Cunningham's Ranger 30 Malicka at Marina Seca down here in Mexico. It's the boat he used to chart the Sea of Cortez for his various cruising guides. I know there are other cruising books that might be more current, but Cunningham's guides are still the classics, and hold lots of memories of a bygone era for us older cruisers. Back in the day, we depended on his guides to find the anchorages he so meticulously sketched.

Anyway, Malicka is for sale for just $500. Someone should purchase her and use her as the basis for a museum, to which other artifacts from cruising the Sea in the '80s and '90s could be added, before they all succumb to ravages of time.

Jim Barden
Ann Marie, Morgan 28
Las Cadenas, Sonora, Mexico

Jim — Gerry's boat was actually a Rawson 30 named Birinci Mevki — Turkish for 'First Class'. He bought the bare hull, then designed and built the rest of the boat himself. Gerry's granddaughter, Heather Cunningham, noted that, after Gerry's passing a few months ago, one possiblity that was considered was to sink Birinci Mevki to create an artificial reef for divers. They even cleaned everything that could be a hazard off the boat so it could be used for that purpose.

Gerry lived a long and satisfying life, and was a smiling fixture at all the various boat shows and crew list parties. He cruised the Sea of Cortez for over 50 years, and to our knowledge created the first accurate navigation charts and cruising guide to that area. Gerry was proud to have personally visited every anchorage in his guides with Birinci Mevki, and there are over 250 of them.

Cunningham constantly updated his guides, and there are currently three volumes available but now only in electronic form (PDF and CD). The guides cover 630 miles of the Sea of Cortez shore along with 125 GPS positions. Though the website is no longer active, cruisers can still order Gerry's guides by contacting Heather at (408) 568-4352.

As for a museum dedicated to cruising the Sea of Cortez in the '80s and '90s, we frankly don't think there is that much interest. Besides, there are still a lot of us museum pieces, both two-legged and keeled versions, still around today.


I just read David Kory's November issue letter about strange foods he and others have eaten. This was something of a blast from the past for us, as we lived in Bissau for a time. The little birds Kory was served are actually a Portuguese import — Bissau was Portuguese Guinea until '74 — called pasaquinos. While there, we crunched through piles of the little buggers, often along with rock oysters, another fine dish.

For the record, the country is now called Guinea-Bissau, with a population of just under half a million, and Bissau is the capital. Guinea is the next country down from Guinea-Bissau on the Gulf of Guinea, with Conarky being the capital. Lusafone Africa took a real pounding when the Portuguese folded up their tents in '75 and left. The living conditions in Guinea-Bassau are fairly tough, but the people are friendly and generous.

We have lived in all the Portuguese ex-colonies in Africa, and were married in Praia, Cape Verde Islands. If I remember correctly, the Cape Verdes were under the jurisdiction of Guinea-Bissau at the time.

Thank you, Latitude, for a good read every month. By the way, we now qualify as members of the 'Over 30 Club'. As of this month, we will have owned our Polaris 30 African Rover, since new, for 30 years.

Barbara & Jon Sand
African Rover, Polaris 43

Barbara and Jon — Thanks for the kind words, and for becoming members of the Over 30 Club. We thought we had a pretty good handle on countries of the world that border an ocean, but most of the west coast of Africa is a mystery to us.


I've been reading Latitude's comments about yacht clubs with interest. I have been sailing for over 30 years, and have spent eight of those years as a member of three different yacht clubs. Each of the clubs had a different focus, and, as my interest in sailing changed over the years, it was appropriate for me to change clubs as well.

What I realize now, as a result of reflecting back on your comments, is that the times that I have been connected to a yacht club have been the most enjoyable years of my sailing career. So I would encourage Latitude readers who have never been affiliated with a yacht club, or are not currently in one, to give it a try. And if they're in a club that's not fitting their needs, or if they’re losing interest, they should look around for one that more closely matches their current boating interests.

My experience has been that yacht club members are usually very friendly, you share the same hobby that makes them genuinely interested in yours, and they want to hear about your stories and adventures. They can also be a wonderful resource for sailing/boating information and maintenance tips, possible crew members to lend you a hand, or just to enjoy a day on the water with like-minded folks. Most of these clubs are simply about having fun.

There’s not much downside to joining a club, and if you’re like me, you could find a whole new set of really wonderful friends, and a new focus for fun and adventure in your life.

Phil Helman
Wind Dancer, Hunter 46
Oakland YC

Phil — We're glad you enjoyed Rob Grant's December Sightings article on yacht clubs offering specials for new members. For the record, we belong to one yacht club in California and another in the Caribbean, and five years ago we started a third in Mexico. And through races, various events, and reciprocal privileges, we enjoy visiting a lot of other yacht clubs over the course of a year, from the likes of the mighty and prestigious St. Francis YC, to the humble but happy American Legion YC in Newport Beach.

Yacht clubs as are different as can be, from snooty to ultra casual. And they have very different orientations, from sailboat racing to powerboating to fishing to equal combinations of all three. And yes, there are also clubs that primarily exist as inexpensive places for their members to get smashed.

As you point out, yacht clubs are very different, so you want to pick carefully. Fortunately, people can call any club and ask about membership and a tour. Most clubs would be thrilled at the expression of interest. We also agree that as one's interests change, one might be better served by a different club.


I think Latitude should have been a little more critical of Tom Perkins' claim that his charter passage aboard the 289-ft Maltese Falcon, which he had built for himself, from Gibraltar to St. Barth was "totally 'green'." As the editors of Latitude have pointed out in the past, Maltese Falcon is an amazing piece of technology and a fine-looking vessel. When she was berthed near Pier 39, I rode down to gawk and daydream a bit. But she's also an amazing example of personal excess.

While Perkins is entitled to spend his money however he desires, his wealth should not exempt him from being held accountable for the accuracy of his statements. When you take something that is clearly bad for the environment, but try to disguise it as being eco-friendly, the popular term is 'greenwashing'. It's like those people who build a 9,000-sq ft vacation home, throw some solar panels on the top, put a Prius in the driveway, and say it's all 'green'.

There are some interesting comparisons between Perkins' trip and some of those made by other contributors to that same December issue of Latitude. Bob Smith, for example, who twice sailed his 45-ft cat 2,500 miles from Puerto Vallarta to Vancouver without motoring. He can label himself 'green' all he wants. Then there was Lee Johnson, who reported that his 28-ft S2 burns 0.35 gallons of fuel per hour when motoring. All things considered, that's pretty 'green'. Falcon burned nearly 3,000 gallons of fuel on a 16-day passage to run just the generators, which means that Johnson could have motored his boat around the planet twice on the same amount of fuel.

Peter Connor
Hana Ho, Catalina 30
San Francisco

Peter — The way we see things, most of us in the First World are wastrels. For example, based on personal behavior and government policy, you'd think that we in the United States had at long last achieved energy independence. After all, despite the fact that for 30 years Volkswagen has offered reliable and comfortable passenger cars that get 55 miles to the gallons, the average MPG for cars in the U.S. is still about half that. Yet wait until you hear all the pissing and moaning when gas reaches $4.50/gallon again. Or take water. According to the American Water Works Association Research Foundation, the average per capita daily water use in the United States is 171.8 gallons, 60 of it being indoors, almost two-thirds of it being outdoors. Ridiculous. Proportionally, how much would each of us have to save in order for the water shortage in the Central Valley not to have claimed so much farmland and so many agricultural jobs?

Of course, there is wasting and there is wasting of Biblical proportions. The day after we received your letter, we received an email from Tom Perkins, so we'll let him defend his claim.


It was interesting for me to read the responses to my 'green passage' on Maltese Falcon — 3,900 miles without using the engines, just the generators.

Some readers thought that the generators' consumption of 11,000 liters of fuel for the passage was too much, even though there was zero use of the main engines. According to Gerry Dijkstra, Falcon’s designer, the average eco-point consumption for a U.S citizen is 2,000 per year. For a crew of 20 people on Falcon's 16-day passage, the eco-point consumption was 1,800. If these 20 people had just been sitting around at home, their eco point consumption would have been 1,818. That makes life when sailing aboard the 289-ft yacht 'greener' than passive existence ashore — and one hell of a lot more fun.

Tom Perkins, former owner and recent charterer of
Maltese Falcon, 289-ft Dyna-Rig


I am trying to link up with Billie 'Bones' Pringle, whom I used to know from my sailing days in the Caribbean. I see you had a post from him in '09, and wonder if you've heard from him since, or if you have an email address for him.

Erica Breslau

Erica — As a rule, we don't honor requests such as yours for two reasons: 1) We don't have the space, and 2) for all we know, you're working for The Man, and Billie 'Bones' is on the lam. We're making an exception because Billie 'Bones' is such a cool name and names like that belong in print more often. By our printing your email address, he can get in touch with you if he so chooses.

Anybody else out there know of any other great sailing names that ought to find their way into print? Email Richard.


What the hell is the publisher of Latitude thinking? I'm referring to the part of his January 10 'Lectronic Latitude item in which he wrote: "Riding our little Honda dirt bike, which hasn't been registered in years, but which doesn't seem to bother any of the police in Mexico, on the warm jungle roads at 9 a.m. in shorts, a T-shirt, and flip-flops was, as you might imagine, lovely."

By his own admission, the publisher had seen the aftermath of a motorcycle accident that very morning, one that I'm sure could have been much worse. Riding around in shorts and flip-flops is insanity, and I speak from the experience of 35 years of riding motorcycles. I once severed my Achilles tendon because I was not wearing proper foot wear and had a wreck. Twenty years later, I hit a buzzard with my helmet while going 40 mph just south of Acapulco. Without the helmet, at the very least I would have probably lost teeth and broken my nose.

I've been a reader of Latitude from the first issue in '77, and cannot remember thinking your ideas were off too many times. Well, the idea of getting a flying dinghy was a bad idea, but you had enough sense to give that one up. Riding in flip-flops is a huge mistake. We experienced riders have an acronym A.T.G.A.T.T., which stands for All the Gear, All the Time. Do your loyal readers a favor and be more careful. A least wear a helmet and sturdy footwear.

Jeff Coult
Arctic Traveller, Defever 49
Juneau, Alaska

Jeff — We apologize for not making ourselves more clear, for we always wear a helmet and carbon-fiber reinforced gloves. After all, if we can't think or type, we're even more worthless than normal.

We didn't ride motorcycles from the time our children were born until we turned 60 because we believed it was irresponsible. Having provided for our kids, we figure that the rest of our life is largely ours. We also figure that all of life — sailing included — is a calculated risk. So after a morning swim off the back of 'ti Profligate in St. Barth, we think there's no better way to start the day than hopping on our Senda 125 CC and taking the back and mountain roads to the patisserie with all the cute French girls in Lorient. And after a morning swim in Punta Mita, we like to ride our little Honda along the jungle-shrouded road to Sayulita for coffee and treats. It's not as safe as staying in our bunk in our boat, but we understand the risk/reward and accept it. And we'll try to be as careful as we can.

We hate to say it, but we've kind of been getting interested in those flying dinghies again. Think of the great photos of anchorages and boats we could take. And thanks for caring.


The Wanderer was wise not to recommend Joe Blow (fictitious name) to be crew on my boat after the Ha-Ha. When I returned to my boat, which I had left in his care at Puertos Los Cabos, I found the following:

1) Both holding tanks overflowing into the bilge.

2) The Zodiac inflatable missing.

3) A substantial amount of cash taken.

4) Expensive turning blocks missing.

5) Tools missing.

6) Empty beer bottles stuffed into the cabinets.

As a result, I reported this fellow to the Mexican Police — to whom I had to pay a $50 bribe to make a report. I also reported him to the San Diego Harbor Police, as I believe he has a boat there. And I reported it to my insurance company.

P.S. The Harbormaster also told me that my boat had been taken out sailing twice!

Name Being Withheld By Latitude
Northern California

N.B.W.B.L. — We're very sorry about your loss, but we don't feel comfortable publicizing any names because we have no way of knowing the other side of the story. And there is almost always some other side of the story.

The lesson to be learned is that if you have an expensive boat, you need to carefully vet those in whose care you leave her. And no matter who you get to watch over her, it's prudent to ask someone — a berth neighbor or maybe even the harbormaster — to keep an additional eye on things.

Two other observations. If you had to pay $50 to get a police report, you must have been in a big hurry. If you'd returned a day or two later, and looked to have all the time in the world, we suspect you could have gotten the police report for a fraction of the cost. And what's the point of reporting the incident to the San Diego Harbor Police? What kind of action do you think they can take based on alleged crimes that took place 800 miles away in a foreign country?

Try to look on the bright side. It didn't cost you that much, and you're much wiser.


We're off to pick up our Jeanneau 45 Utopia in Puerto Rico. This may be our last season in the Caribbean, as we're going to try to sell our boat.

I started sailing the Caribbean in '76 with the first Utopia, a Morgan Out-Island 36. So I have put in my time down there. This brings me to Bob Dylan's traditional Bequia schooner Water Pearl, which I hadn't realized was no more. I first met her captain in the late '70s, right after she was built, I believe as a mail boat and/or light freighter. In '84, I was a co-captain of the Antigua-based Ocean 60 Ocean Mistral. We'd picked up a charter group from Mammoth Mountain, and anchored next to Water Pearl at Deshaies, Guadeloupe. We had a tough time getting our CQR to hold, but finally felt we were in for the night.

We all went to bed except for one young lady who wasn't tired. She stayed up, often looking over at Water Pearl. Around 2 a.m. I sensed there was a strange boat motion. I got up, looked out, and sure enough, Water Pearl was right next to us. But something was strange, as I looked around and noticed that I couldn't see any land! I realized that both our boats had dragged out to sea. When I asked the young lady why she didn't call me, she said, "Water Pearl was always in the same place, so I never noticed that we were going anywhere."

By the way, I want to join Latitude's Missing Digit Club. I lost part of my right index finger in a snow blower accident in '72 when I lived at Mammoth Mountain.

John Tindle
Utopia, Jeanneau 45
Hermosa Beach

John — The Ocean 60s, Deshaies, boats dragging in the night . . . just those few words bring up countless memories of adventures in the Caribbean. If we're not mistaken, a number of schooners were built on the beach at Bequia, mostly as light trading vessels, but Water Pearl was built specifically for Dylan. But hey, our recollections may have been clouded by the passing of the years and the sipping of Mt. Gay and tonics. If this is indeed your last season in the Caribbean, we hope it's your best.


I saw the comment in Loose Lips in the January issue on Jean Socrates' observation of a green flash.

Contrary to popular notion, they are not uncommon. We see them several times a year, only because we make it a point to look for them on clear days with a sharp horizon (land, sea or sharp-edged clouds), sunset and sunrise.

The coolest one, by far, was sunrise from a cruise ship off the Sonoma coast on a crystal clear fall morning. I just happened to be looking at the spot where a brilliant but momentary blue flash appeared on the crest of the Sonoma hills, immediately transforming to a bright green flash of a couple of seconds. Even though I enthusiastically brought it to the attention of my breakfast companions, it was over by the time they turned to look.

I found a great video of a very typical green flash — see it at Not only is it out the Golden Gate, a sailboat crosses in front just before it flashes.

Chris Northcutt
San Francisco


I don't know exactly how to put this, but there was a report in Latitude during the last year about a "pirate attack" on a boat in Central America that perhaps — I'll be the first to admit that I myself don't know for sure — didn't tell the entire story. But the result of the story was that many cruisers became reluctant to visit the area and/or country.

But if reports to various cruising websites, as well as conversations I've had with what I consider to be reliable cruisers, are true, the robbery was far more a planned and perhaps understandable payback than an unprovoked pirate attack. I do know that many cruisers had been repeatedly disgusted by the behavior of the victim(s) toward what might be called 'eligible' or 'desirable' local women. The fact that the victim(s) have been so low-key since the attack would suggest that perhaps there is some credence to this explanation.

Latitude might want to do a more thorough investigation.

I Must Remain Anonymous
Central America

I.M.R.A. — Latitude would love nothing more to do such an investigation, but we don't have a fraction of the resources that would be required. As such, we have to rely on the courage of cruisers to speak up.


So I was messing around with my computer, and asked Google to notify me when something new related to 'Olson 30' came. I got the following:

"Robert Paul Olson, 30, of Orlando, was arrested by Lake County deputies after making arrangements to have sex with a 14-year-old girl . . ."

I'm sure as hell glad that Robert Olson was arrested, and that, unlike in Japan and Italy, 14 isn't the legal age of consent in the United States. Nonetheless, that's not exactly the kind of 'Olson 30' information that I'd been seeking.

Jeffrey Moore
Santa Cruz


I just watched a video at that shows commandos from the Russian Navy aboard a Somalian pirate ship shortly after the pirates from that ship had captured a Russian oil tanker.

After the Russian Navy commandos freed their compatriots and the tanker, they took the Somali pirates back to their pirate ship, and found many weapons and explosives.

All the commentary in the video is in Russian, so I couldn't understand it. The single exception was when a Somali pirate, who had been shot in the ass and was bleeding, claimed it was a fishing boat. Having discovered all the automatic weapons and explosives on the fishing boat, the Russian responded, "Why do you lie to me, this isn't any fishing boat."

The Russians departed the pirate ship, apparently leaving the 30 or so Somali crew handcuffed to their ship. Then the Russians blew the ship up with all the pirates on it.

The Russians eliminated the pirates and the pirate ship without the bother of lawyers or court proceedings by relying on the anti-piracy laws of the 18th and 19th centuries, which allowed the captain of the rescuing vessel to decide what to do with the pirates. Captains usually ordered the pirates to be hanged.

I would imagine that from now on, Russian ships will not be targets for Somali pirates.

Name Withheld By Request

N.W.B.R. — The jury seems to be out on whether capital punishment is a deterrent to crime, but there can be no doubt that zero is the recidivism rate for dead pirates. In reality, though, the pirates were actually arrested, not blown up. Of course, the Russians probably wouldn't mind if word to the contrary got back to their pirate pals. Then, if the United States and European Union members want to continue with their dainty and squeamish response to pirate threats and attacks, perhaps they could merely equip their merchant vessels with Russian flags and ride on the backs of the Russian bear.

For the record, the Combined Maritime Forces in the region report that pirates in ships made 160 attacks on vessels in '10, an increase of 15 over '09, and that pirates captured 53 ships, up from 51 the year before. The Somali pirates now hunt prey much further offshore instead of just in the Horn of Africa region.


I loved the January 12 'Lectronic story on Cita Litt's restored 90-ft Rhodes-designed Sea Diamond. Having grown up weekending on my parents' powerboat in Newport Beach and out at Catalina, particularly at White's, we used to see her often. I remember Sea Diamond as being the most beautiful boat that I'd ever seen, as she oozed elegance, seaworthiness and comfort.

At my very young age, Sea Diamond also infused me with an appreciation of motorsailers. To this day, I don't understand why they aren't more popular. I love racing, speed sailing, and sweet sailing boats, but the realist in me understands that we all have the iron gennies going more than we'd like to admit, and many of us have had all the sun we need. So why are boat designers so resistant to drawing and developing motorsailers? Catamarans aside, are there really so few sailors who want to sail while in a warm and protected house/cockpit? That said, I would certainly enjoy 'working out on the open' on the foredeck of Sea Diamond.

I grew up on powerboats and 'progressed' to sail. Nonetheless, I could never understand the 'raggers vs stinkpot' war. It all comes down to the fact that we all enjoy being on the water. Personally, I love 'soul sailing' the most, and cherish the moment the engine is turned off. Furthermore, I don’t feel whole on a boat without a rig. To have several means of propulsion in my quiver — be it a motor, sails, oars, paddles or electric — lends a sense of security whenever I'm on the water. And I appreciate the seamanship of those who know how to use what they have to be self-sufficient.

With the exception of a few beauties like Sea Diamond, and the undeniable success of the MacGregors — which do have a few positive attributes — nobody seems too interested in motorsailers. It's a shame.

My current sailboat is a highly modified '66 West Wight Potter 14, modified in the sense that she has twin rudders and her Honda 15 will push her along at 8 to 10 knots. Nonetheless, we got 6th overall in last year's Cruiser's Challenge, which is an annual regatta off Monterey for trailer sailors. We also got 4th overall in last year's Delta Dinghy Ditch Race, during which time we averaged over 8 knots for several hours, despite having tweaked the mast and having to limp to the finish. When the wind and tides on the Bay make bashing to weather less than fun in a 14-footer, I simply turn the key for the outboard, dump the main, pop up the dodger, and continue on.

I recently rescued a Fisher 30 Pilothouse motorsailer which has been stranded for the last decade on a horse ranch. She looks a bit like Sea Diamond's little sister, and will provide comfy and warm viewing of the America's Cup on San Francisco Bay. I don't know why there aren't more of these kinds of boats around.

Jim 'Goose' Gossman
Gale, West Wight Potter 14
Eroica, Fisher 30 PH

Jim — Sea Diamond really does ooze elegance, doesn't she? While there aren't a lot of motorsailers anywhere, there are more of them on the East Coast than the West Coast, and, we imagine, more in the drizzly Northwest than in California.

We agree with you that we don't feel 'whole' on a boat that doesn't have some kind of redundant propulsion system, preferably sail. The worst scenario of all would be to be on a larger single-engine motoryacht that loses power, because the crew is then helpless to take care of themselves. God, we'd hate that. Well, we suppose there could something worse, and that would be to be on a vessel that had both power and sail and lost the ability to power, whose crew felt incapable of sailing the boat to shelter. This happened with a Ha-Ha participant two years ago in mild conditions, and the ensuing calls for help from the ketch greatly disturbed Patsy Verhoeven as well as other members of the fleet.

Verhoeven, who has sailed the entire length of all her Ha-Ha's with her Portland- and La Paz-based Gulfstar 50 Talion, was so miffed by what she considered to be a lack of seamanship that she took it upon herself and her crew to make special provisions for the most recent Ha-Ha. "If anyone got on the radio and asked for a tow to the next port, we were going to track them down, put some of my crew on their boat, and have my crew teach them how to sail their darn boat," she said. "We weren't going to do this to humiliate them or show off, but rather to teach them how to be more self-sufficient, and therefore less of a danger to themselves and others while on the water."

We're not quite as hard-assed as Patsy is about towing, but speaking as the Grand Poobah, if somebody can't sail their boat downwind to the next port in mild conditions, they should consider themselves to be not qualified for the Ha-Ha.

We have some very good friends who own powerboats, and appreciate that both powerboaters and sailors love being on the water. We're not trying to start a squabble, but we nonetheless think there are some differences between the two groups. One is ecological. Even in the case of sailors who do a lot of motoring in light-air areas, such as parts of Mexico, sailboats tend to be more fuel-efficient than motoryachts. Second, it seems to us that sailors tend to be younger, more lively, and more physical than those who cruise on powerboats. In addition, a lifelong delivery skipper who has done both the Ha-Ha and the FUBAR — the latter being a biennial variation of the Ha-Ha — told us he found two big differences between the two events. The first was that the FUBAR apparently has 'rescue' boats in case a member of their 'sail-less' fleet loses power and needs a tow. Compare that, he said, with the TransPac, Pacific Cup, Singlehanded TransPac, Vic-Maui, the transAtlantic races, the races to Mexico, the Ha-Ha, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, and the Caribbean 1500, none of which has ever had a rescue boat, and all of which expect participants to be both self-sufficient and prepared for problems. The second difference the delivery skipper noticed is that there wasn't as much socializing in the FUBAR. "At the end of each leg, people would mingle a little, but mostly stick to themselves. There was none of the tremendous socializing that occurs in the Ha-Ha."

Mind you, we've never done a FUBAR, have absolutely nothing against the event or any of the participants, and wish them and the event the very best. These are just the observations that a participant wanted to share with us.

It makes no difference to us if you have a 90-ft motorsailer, a 14-ft West Wight Potter, or a 50-ft trawler, just as long as you enjoy yourself, share your joy with others, and be as nice to the ocean as you can be.


On page 54 of the December issue, Bob Lorenzi wrote about a singlehander named Steve Brown who was lost off the coast of California in '03 following his second circumnavigation. I hadn’t read about it at the time, but was this the Steve Brown who is/was the son of Jim Brown, designer of the Searunner trimarans? I'm curious, as that Steve Brown caught a passage with us from Key West to the Cayman Islands on our Brown Searunner 37 Samuel S. Lewis in the mid-'80s.

Bob Lanham
Planet Earth

Bob — We doubt that it was the same Steve Brown for two reasons: 1) It seems unlikely that the son of multihull designer would do a circumnavigation in a vessel as slow as a Bingham 32, and 2) The Steve Brown in question circumnavigated the first time from '85 to '89.

The then-54-year-old Brown went missing in July of '03 on a passage from San Diego to Morro Bay. His last log entry was made on July 8, and 20 days later his Nor'West 33 was found drifting 800 miles off the coast with nobody aboard.


It has always been a tradition for me to stop at historic San Blas after making the crossing from Baja, and this year was no different. It's great to spend time with old friends and tour the area, if for no other reason than to see what's changed.

This year a group of us spent a day at the Singlar Shipyard and Marina San Blas up the estuary. What we found was one of the cleanest facilities that we’ve seen in a long while, and the courtesy we experienced was overwhelming. The yard has a 50-ton lift and way more than reasonable layday charges, and it allows you to work on your own boat. This is something that some yards in Mexico don't allow you to do, and I think it's a plus. The real big plus comes when you fuel up. The fuel prices are the same that you would be charged at any Pemex station in Mexico, with a 10% fee for tying up. Based on my experience, it's a very good deal.

The San Blas bar/estuary has always had a reputation for navigation issues so the marina will send a boat out to guide you across the bar and up the river to the marina. It goes without saying that it's best done shortly before high tide. The yard manager, Raul Lopez, speaks perfect English, and can be reached on Channel 74 VHF.

And while I know many readers have hoped to never hear about the following subject again, they might nonetheless be interested. In using Channel 74 to communicate with the marina, we discovered we had a 'radio stalker'. Yep, good old Norm Goldie, a.k.a. Jama. Over the years it's always been my practice to ignore what I've considered to be Norm's delusional nonsense, and just enjoy San Blas and the surrounding areas. However, this year he was a bit overwhelming, coming on the air at least three times a day — we call it The Jama Hour — beginning his broadcast with a five-minute dissertation regarding the ongoing conspiracies against him.

Some of us checked on Goldie's often-made claim that he's some kind of official representative for some level of the Mexican government. Local officials and the Port Captain assured us that there is no evidence to support it.

Our next step was to ask the U.S. Consulate General in Guadalajara if Norm represented the U.S. government in any official or non-official capacity. You won't believe it, but we got a letter saying that he does! Norm Goldie is now, in fact, a warden for the U.S. Consulate General in Guadalajara, which means he acts as a liaison between the Consulate office and the American community in San Blas. A warden is a United States citizen who volunteers to assist the Consulate by rapidly disseminating official U.S. government information to other U.S. citizens, especially in times of emergency. However, wardens are only to contact U.S. citizens if those citizens have registered with the U.S. Consulate.

The Consulate asked if I had any specific concerns about Mr. Goldie. I told them that there might be a few areas in which Mr. Goldie may be overstepping his role. And unfortunately, because of his long history of acrimonious interfacing with many Americans, the Consulate could issue a 'Warden Message' that the world was coming to an end, but nobody would believe Goldie.

Harry Hazzard
Distant Drum, Beneteau Idylle 51
San Diego

Harry — We'd heard secondhand that Goldie had recently gained some kind of relationship with the Consulate and that, as a result, he'd toned down his behavior on the VHF. Maybe it didn't last.

Our congratulations to Warden Goldie, as we're sure he's very proud about his new title. On the other hand, we know that a lot of cruisers are going to wonder who is doing the vetting for wardens at the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara. As we've written before, Goldie has long been a very controversial figure in the cruising community, loved by some, loathed by others.

To give readers some context, Hazzard has done, if we're not mistaken, six Ha-Ha's with his Beneteau, and cruised Mexico extensively. So he's no 'new kid in town'.


In the January 10 'Lectronic, the Wanderer wrote the following photo caption: "This blanco hotel on the southeastern shore of Santiago Bay has to be one of the largest between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco. The cove in front of it is a lee shore anchorage in the afternoon, but if you've got a good hook, there shouldn't be a problem with dragging."

That caption sure took me back! I lived in Mexico for four years when I was a kid, and we spent a summer on that very beach, La Audencia, which is just over the hump of the small peninsula from Las Hadas. There was no hotel there at the time, only a ramshackle trailer park, We parked our trailer right on the wall on the beach.

I have incredibly fond memories of the place from back then, as the bay was pristine. When my wife Alisa and I cruised Mexico in '93-'94, we came around the corner with our Shannon 38 Points Beyond, and I was heartbroken to see that monstrous hotel. Ugh!

By the way, the scenes from the movie 10, in which Bo Derek is ogled while running down the beach in ultra-slow motion, were actually shot at La Audencia, not next door at Las Hadas.

Devan Mullins
Points Beyond, Shannon 38
Newport Beach

Devan — It occurs to us that people who haven't cruised Mexico might get the impression that the coast is heavily populated, particularly after all the development of the last 10 years. But with the exception of the few big cities, nothing could be farther from the truth on Baja or on the mainland coast. There are miles and miles and miles and miles of pristine beaches with nobody around. While most of it is open roadstead that might not always be suitable for overnight anchoring, it's also true of many well-protected places such as Chamela Bay. So all is not lost.


As you know, good books take longer than expected to complete. But I'm happy to announce that my new book, The Boy Behind the Gate, should be available by the end of January. In the book, I celebrate that Ken Smith, my partner, and I become the first openly gay couple to sail around the world. In so doing, we broke stereotypes during our six-year journey. Except in a few countries in the Middle East, we flew the rainbow flag all the way around the world, and celebrated who we were.

I think my book is an important one not only because of our accomplishment, but also because of the way we handled being gay.

The Boy Behind the Gate is as much the story of a journey through life as a journey around the world, but its audience shouldn't be limited to any given sexual orientation. My theme is that anybody can make his or her dream come true. My many short stories in the book are about taking risks, facing our fears, taking action, persevering, and living life to the fullest. I also share the real story of cruising, which is that there are both ups and downs.

My book is 360 pages, with 32 pages of four-color photographs. It will be available everywhere, from Amazon to bookstores. I like to think that my writing is clean and tight, particularly after its evolution through two professional editors, and that Latitude readers will enjoy it.

Larry Jacobson
Julia, Stevens 50 cutter
San Francisco

Larry — We actually don't know how long it takes to complete a good book, because we've never had the guts to try to write one. We wish you every success.


We on the Blind Circumnavigation haven't updated our status in quite some time, and that's because Pam Habek and I have been grappling with some very difficult questions and made some major decisions.

We were in Vanuatu when Pam had to be rushed to Australia because she was diagnosed with a retinal tear and hemorrhage in her right eye. She eventually had two surgical procedures and made many visits to a retinal specialist. While Pam wasn't able to get a concrete answer to the cause of the sudden vision loss — perhaps the result of a fall, genetics, or fate — or regain the sight she lost, her vision at least stabilized.

But the result is that she reevaluated her life and her goals. "The voyage thus far was the highlight of my life," she said, "but with the delays from my surgeries, and the overall length of the voyage to date, I was feeling both a financial strain and a desire to resume life on land." Pam told me she wished to make Australia her new home, and had already found employment with Northcott Disability Services, an Australian non-profit.

While Pam convalesced and found her new path, I returned to the United States to work as a consultant and plan for the continuation of the circumnavigation. But I had a number of hard decisions to make as well. Thankful for the adventures I'd shared with Pam, as well as having been in awe of her dedication to the trip and her raw bravery, and happy for her being able to make a new start in Australia, I had to decide whether to continue without her or seek out a new visually-impaired sailing partner. Fate intervened over the months I mulled over the decision, for while in the States I was offered a position with the U.S. Department of State providing on-site technical support for their disabled employees around the world. It meant that I would not only continue to see the world, but I would help pave the way for the hiring of many more disabled employees in international high profile positions.

It all came as a surprise to me, as I wasn't looking for employment. But it was a rare opportunity. I finally decided that the voyage Pam and I had accomplished — the first legally blind couple to sail across the Pacific Ocean — was something that we'd done as a team. And that I would rather we bask together in the satisfaction of having done that, than continue on without my partner. As a result, I decided that our 17,000-mile passage should stand alone.

Today, I am seeing the world in a very different way. I'm sitting at a desk in a hotel in Brunei, and own a small condo in Alexandria, Virginia. But I know that my adventurous side is only in remission, for I'm already thinking about a sail across the Atlantic, or perhaps from New York to San Francisco, with a crew of cross-disabled sailors, hopefully to include Pam.

Finally, we want to thank our supporters. While we two legally blind sailors crossed the Pacific independently, we didn't do it alone. Many of you were there with us, no matter if you guided us into tricky anchorages, spoke to us via satphone during storms, encouraged us via SailMail, or just thought good thoughts about us. Although there are far too many people to thank individually, we would like to single out Captain Arnstein Mustad for special recognition, as it was his kind and disciplined instruction that gave us the core skills that surely kept us alive. We thank him and everyone from the bottom of our hearts.

Scott Duncan
Starship, Pearson 390
Alexandria, VA



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