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August 2011

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We just got back from our honeymoon aboard Tigress, our new Prout 50 catamaran. We spent two weeks touring all over the Bay and Delta, and as far north as Napa. We anchored out most of the time. While we were a motorboat for the trip, we're going to get our mast stepped tomorrow. Finally!

The honeymoon was our first cruising experience, my second time ever anchoring, and Elena's first. We had a fantastic time and learned so much. But it also felt like slipping into comfortable old shoes, doing what we were meant to be doing all along. And wow, being anchored out on a catamaran is just plain heaven compared to being anchored out on a smaller monohull.

At one point during our honeymoon, we were anchored at Decker Island near Rio Vista, of all places, and it was completely, utterly awesome. But it just makes us wonder how much we'll like the anchorages in Mexico and French Polynesia. We can't wait!

We were also excited to see Little Tigress, our wood Bristol Channel Cutter, next to Nautigal on page 94 of Latitude in your Master Mariners Regatta coverage. It was our first time in the regatta, and we had a lot of fun.

We also spent the first weekend of our honeymoon aboard Little Tigress in the Master Mariners Boat Show at the Corinthian YC. It was our second year there. One of the best things about having a wooden boat is the really wonderful people in the Master Mariners Benevolent Association. Hopefully the members won't despise us too much for buying a modern fiberglass catamaran — a 'double Clorox bottle', if you will — which is about as far as you can get from a full-keel wooden monohull.

By the way, we'll keep an eye on La Gamelle for you while you're bringing Profligate back to California.

David & Elena Esser
Tigress, Prout 50 Cat
Little Tigress, Bristol Channel Cutter
Marina Village, Alameda

Readers — We met David and Elena, our new good friends, a couple of months ago when we got an end-tie for La Gamelle behind Tigress at Marina Village.

Does it seem crazy to anyone that a guy who had only anchored out once before in his life would own two boats, including a huge new cat on which to go cruising? And whose new wife was, just a short time ago, so afraid of the water that she had difficulty walking down a dock? If you read this month's Changes about cat builders and owners Al and Jill Wigginton, you'll realize that this 'all in' attitude would make all the sense in the world to them.


It's been a few months, but while on our way down Raccoon Strait to the start of the Elite Keel Race on the Olympic Circle on May 15, we had a very unnerving experience.

It was about 10 a.m., and we were flying the kite on my Etchells as we exited the Strait in maybe six knots of wind. There was a large ship headed north a couple of miles away. This was nothing unusual. Then I noticed a powerboat near the freighter taking off on a beeline toward us. Was this Philippe Kahn's support Protector racing to retrieve something forgotten ashore?

In a few moments, it was clear that it was not, but rather the Coast Guard or something more menacing coming right at us. They buzzed us full tilt and came to an abrupt halt about 30 yards from us with a young uniformed and helmeted fellow aiming his bow-mounted machine gun right at us! For several moments I thought we were going to be killed. I stuck both hands in the air and froze.

Another member of their crew shouted, "If you get within 500 yards of that freighter, we will take ACTION!"

"Yes, sir," I shouted back in disbelief. For a moment I was dazed — and not sure what country I was in. The shock of that incident lasted for days. As far as I'm concerned, it was very unsettling and totally inappropriate. Have other Latitude readers had similar experiences?

By the way, I'm doing a second run of my book, The Legend of Imp, with a number of corrections and a few more photos.

Bill Barton
San Francisco

Bill — According to Homeland Security, recreational vessels are supposed to "keep their distance" — whatever the hell that means — from all military, cruise line, or commercial shipping. When we're sailing La Gamelle in the Oakland Estuary, we and others usually come to within about 15 feet of commercial ships before tacking and nobody has objected yet. So we guess that's a cool distance.

The law is more specific when it comes to Navy vessels. All vessels have to slow to "minimum speed" when within 500 yards of any U.S. Navy vessel, and in any event not approach closer than 100 yards. A violation of the latter is a felony, and could mean you'd be fined $250,000 and have up to six years in prison to work on the next edition of The Legend of Imp.


If I may be so bold as to speak for the other attendees of the Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous, I want to thank Latitude 38 for a remarkable weekend that we'll never forget. From the registration on Friday night to the authentic Polynesian meal on Sunday afternoon, it seemed that all of the events were pulled off without a hitch. Well, if there had been more wind for the sail from Tahiti to Moorea on Saturday, it would have been flawless but that appears to be the only detail that was amiss. As for the Polynesian drummers, I think I'm going to recommend that my yacht club have them at the finish line of all their races. What a dramatic effect!

From the dancing and canoe races to the fruity rum drinks and the memorable awards ceremony, the Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous was really over-the-top fun. Just having a venue for cruisers to congregate in a spectacular setting would be justification for the event, so all of the things we participated in and watched were like icing on an unforgettable cake. The whole weekend has now become a treasured memory.

After the word from this year's participants gets around to next year's Puddle Jumpers, I'm sure the number of attendees will swell. I know I'm looking forward to returning to a future Rendezvous. We are sad to be leaving French Polynesia, but new adventures and destinations await us.

Neal Schneider
Rutea, Contest 48
Opunohu Bay, Moorea

Neal — Thanks for the kind words. Latitude's Andy Turpin is the one who worked tirelessly on this end to put the Rendezvous together, so it is he who deserves the credit. But we could never pull off the Rendezvous without our principal Tahiti partner, Stephanie Betz, who has been a great friend and aid to the international sailing community during her 15 years in the islands. Dates for the 2012 Rendezvous have been set, by the way: June 29-July 1.


I just read the July issue — thanks for including my letter in the Letters section. But there was a significant typo. I've been cruising down here in Mexico on $350/month for two years, not just two months.

Chuck Losness
Hale Moana
Gulfstar 37
Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Chuck — Thanks for the correction. While cruising on $350/month for just two months could be seen as a short-term fluke, cruising on $350/month for two years puts it in an entirely different league.


On the weekend of June 24-26, the Stockton Sailing Club held its annual South Tower Race, a 140-mile all-inland-water race. As anyone who has ever tried to sail back to San Francisco from deep in the Delta knows, it's a very tall order with lots of short tacking, heavy winds and steep chop, and night sailing. And once you get to Blackaller Buoy near the Golden Gate Bridge — pretty beat up, no doubt — you still have a 70-mile spinnaker run back to Stockton.

Given the difficulty of the course and conditions, it's understandable that only six boats entered. Tom Lueck's Hunter 40 Sir Leansalot led the pack — until getting dismasted before even getting out of the Delta. Fortunately the rig fell onto the back of the boat and nobody was injured. They were able to motor home, dragging the mast in the water behind them. Dana Badley's Nonsuch 30 Purrfection turned back Saturday morning after a halyard failed in Raccoon Strait on their way to the turning mark. And Sam Dameron's Hunter 30 Epiphany dropped out on Saturday at the Brothers because of the adverse conditions. It was a hard race.

The race started at 11 a.m. on Friday, and those of us on my Merit 25 Froggy Deux finished about 5:30 p.m. on Saturday — just 15 seconds behind Cloud Nine, Steve Palmer's Catalina 30 from Antioch. With the exception of the delamination of an older jib while sailing through San Pablo Bay, things went pretty well for us, as we had great spinnaker weather all the way home. It was our reward for hanging in there, and we took honors in the division for heavy boats.

The crew of the Ranger 22 Blackfin, the smallest boat in the race, was determined to finish by 8 a.m. on Sunday, the deadline for the award's ceremony. They did.

George Siro
Froggy Deux, Merit 25
Stockton SC

George — That's a tough course. We salute all of you who finished, and give a tip of the hat to those of you who were brave/foolish enough to start.


Last month's Latitude had a Sightings by me on how to properly clean a fish. I'm going to follow that up with this letter on How to Get Out of a Watch. I have to warn you, it's a little more difficult.

Last November, my husband Dave and I, both in our 30s, were heading south to warmer waters after a summer in the Salish Sea. Our first leg of the trip down was from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Columbia River, and we were transiting the Washington coast about five miles offshore — right where all the crab floats are. This is a place where you really need to pay attention so you don't get a float wrapped around your prop.

Evidently somebody — it wasn't me! — didn't pay attention, because we did get a float wrapped around our prop. We were able to cut the line to the crab pot without too much trouble, but we really needed to get the line off the prop. After all, we were planning to cross the Columbia River bar the next morning, so we needed the engine to be working.

Dave decided to ‘brave the elements’ by jumping into the cold ocean wearing his survival suit. He was actually excited to finally be able to try the suit he had picked up in a screaming deal at a local swap meet. As we both quickly learned, survival suits are apparently only for worst-case scenarios — i.e. you’re nearly a goner already and about all you're able to do is float on your back.

Survival suits are not made for swimming around, let alone diving under your boat while you are out to sea! Dave nearly drowned while wearing the survival suit. After quite a struggle, we got him back on the boat, at which time we needed to come up with another solution.

"What the hell," I finally said, "I'll do it." I’m always the one doing these types of things anyway. I didn’t have my wetsuit onboard, and what’s the point of putting on a bathing suit when you're all alone out there? So I jumped in naked. Yes, the water was cold!

I had on my snorkel gear, a very sharp 8-inch chef's knife was taped to a rope, and we had tied a bowline around me so I wouldn’t get washed away from the boat. Conditions were pretty rough, so it was a struggle for me to even get down to the prop. I started unwrapping the rope, but only got about two wraps off before I needed to come back up for air.

"I don’t think I can do this," I yelled to Dave. "There are like 30 wraps."

"Use the knife," my husband shouted back. "It's really sharp."

So I went back down and, after a couple of more dives, I got the rope off. That knife cut through the line as if it were butter.

All in all, I wasn't in the water for more than a few minutes, and didn't collect more than a couple of bruises. But for the rest of the day, I was 'The Queen'. Warm shower, pillows, fresh coffee — and no more watches for the rest of the day! The things I'll do to get off watch.

For those who might be interested, David, who was a construction project manager, got this sailing thing started by singlehanding his Beneteau from Seattle to Mexico in '05, and continued through the South Pacific to New Zealand. His credo is: "Count me in for shoreside adventures from climbing the tallest mountain to hanging with the locals to tracking down the coldest beer and the best local bands. On the water, you'll find me helping out other sailors, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, reading and maintaining our cat."

It was while in New Zealand that we met. We sailed from there to Fiji and Vanuatu, our favorite place. We then sold Dave's monohull in Australia in order to buy a PDQ 36 cat — in New York, of all places. After sailing her down to Guatemala, we decided she wasn't the boat we wanted for circumnavigating. Fortunately, we just happened to find our dream boat, a Chris White Atlantic 42 catamaran, at a great price in Honduras. This was in June of '09 during the coup there, which was exciting. We sailed our new cat, LightSpeed, down to Colombia, then back up to Belize to get married, then back down to Panama to transit the Canal so we could come back up to British Columbia. As you read this, we're probably up in Alaska for the summer, and Dave has sailed 40,000 ocean miles and I've sailed 15,000 ocean miles.

But we're not done. Here's our plan for the next six years:

2011: Washington, British Columbia, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Baja via the Ha-Ha, and Mainland Mexico.
2012: Mexico, Marquesas, Tuamotus, Society Islands, Cook Islands and Line Islands.
2013: Line Islands, Cook Islands, Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Palau and Indonesia.
2014: Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
2015: India, Madagascar and South Africa.
2016: South Africa, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile.
2017: Chile, Easter Island . . . South Pacific again?

Did I mention that we do offshore sail training charters?

Kathy Kane
LightSpeed, Chris White Atlantic 42

Readers — As thrilling as Kathy's story is, and as much as we admire both Kathy and Dave's bravado, we want to caution everyone that diving under a boat offshore in even relatively calm conditions is a risky proposition. If the hull came down hard enough on the diver's head, or he/she were to get fouled in the line, there could be an unconscious person in the water with just one person left on the boat. Then what?

Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do, of course, particularly if you're an accomplished daredevil. But please, be careful out there.


I'm writing in response to Kathy Kane's July Sightings item about cleaning fish. Has anyone ever sprayed vodka into the gills of the fish? I would think that would be a more humane way of killing the fish than the method described in the article. A plastic spray bottle is not expensive, and a lesser priced 80% proof may work just as effectively as a 100% proof vodka.

Gene Vogele
San Diego

Gene — When in the Caribbean, we've poured rum in fish gills; when in Mexico, tequila; and when in the States, vodka. But after years of observing the results — a relatively slow and violent death for the fish, and a drunk fish ending up as bloody a mess as a human drunk — we've decided that it was actually alcohol abuse. Kathy Kane's ice-pick-through-the-brain — particularly when administered by an attractive naked woman — seems like a far more humane way to be dispatched. And remember, the quicker death leaves the meat in better condition for sushi.


I don't know if you saw the KIRO-TV report, but on July 12, two brothers from Bellingham, Washington, came to the rescue of 27-year-old Vay Vong of Seattle, who suffered leg cramps and slipped beneath the surface of Lake Chelan while trying to swim back to shore from a floating dock. According to the report, a fully clothed Tyson Clarke, 22, and his brother Andrew, 18, immediately dove into the water and swam out to Vong. They kept diving down until they could feel his hand, at which point they pulled him to the surface. After assistance from a high school health class that happened to be nearby, Vong was rushed to the hospital. At last word, he was in critical condition, but recovering.

A friend of Vong's called the Clarke brothers heroes. The brothers denied it, saying they just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Quite a counterpoint to what the Alameda Fire Department did — or didn't do — on Memorial Day.

Paul Brogger
Mid-Life Cruises, San Juan 28
Olympia, WA

Paul — After a troop of Alameda Fire Department's best stood around with their thumbs in their pockets for an hour watching Raymond Zack die in chest-deep water on Memorial Day, a lot of Latitude readers said they thought it was indicative of the country's having gone to hell. We disagreed, saying that we thought the gutless response was an Alameda Fire Department-specific problem. We like to think that the Lake Chelan incident is evidence that we were correct. By the way, the water in Lake Chelan is colder than in the Bay, and the Clarke brothers reportedly had no safety training, no special equipment, and no fat-ass labor contract paying them $15k+ a month. They just had a decent sense of humanity.

By the way, shortly after the Alameda Fire Department let Zack drown without lifting a finger to try to help, the City Council approved a new labor contract with them. On the firefighters' side, they agreed to increase pension contributions by a whopping 2%; that the spouses of those with the department less than five years wouldn't get full health benefits for life; and they wouldn't ask for raises for six years. Of course, with even base-level firefighters having been compensated as much as $249,000 in one year — not including future pension benefits -— that's not giving up much, is it? In return, the city agreed that firefighters wouldn't have to rescue anyone in water over 12 inches deep or less than 80 degrees. Unless, of course, it was some babe between the ages of 18 and 35 in a tiny bikini. Hey, ho, way to go, Alamedo!


I want to thank Latitude 38 for once again sponsoring my schooner Dauntless in the Master Mariners Regatta. We had a great time, and Latitude's Christine Weaver and her boyfriend Jonathan Gutoff were great crew.

We also had a terrific sail back to San Diego. We went a couple of hundred miles offshore, where we found 25+ knots of wind all the way home. This resulted in one 215-mile day. It was an E-Ticket ride. Thanks again, and we're looking forward to seeing you all off at the start of the Baja Ha-Ha again this year.

Paul Plotts
Dauntless, 71-ft schooner
San Diego

Paul — The pleasure is all ours. We can't tell you how much everyone appreciates your bringing your fine schooner 500 miles upwind from San Diego just to help the Master Mariners Regatta be the great event that it is. As for us, it wouldn't be a real start of a Ha-Ha without Dauntless there flying the big American flag in the middle of the fleet. Thank you!


To clarify Latitude's July issue statement about the permit fees for the Nature Conservancy's 76% share of Santa Cruz Island, it's $30 for a period of 30 consecutive days, or $70 to cover all of the months remaining in a calendar year. Permits are required only if you're going to go ashore, as there is no charge to anchor anywhere around the island. No reservation or permits are required to land on the National Park's 24% of the island — unless you plan to camp overnight.

This brings us to the California Channel Islands versus other warmer cruising venues. It’s been a rare early summer for my wife and me, as by the Fourth of July we'd cruised two entirely different U.S. venues.

On Memorial Day Weekend, we joined friends aboard their Island Packet 37 at Tierra Verde on Florida's central west coast for a cruise to the Dry Tortugas National Park, which is the ultimate island group to the west of Key West. We spent five nights on the hook in the cozy Fort Jefferson anchorage, where we were protected from easterly winds by the surrounding reefs and shoals. We mellowed out with gin and tonics in defiance of the pleasantly warm east and northeast winds that blew 15 to 25 knots for our entire stay. The water was a wonderful 82 degrees, there were tarpon everywhere and smaller tropical fish on all the shallow coral reefs, and the vistas were delightful. It made us wonder what could be better.

We suppose there were two downsides. One was the nightly thunderstorms, with gusts to 36 knots and torrential rain. Actually, they didn't make us too uncomfortable — except when upwind boats started dragging! The biggest downside was that it was a 32-hour motorsail each way. In fact, unless you have your boat in the Keys, it’s a long way to the Dry Tortugas from just about anywhere, and it’s not always a pleasant crossing.

Scarcely a month later, over a long Fourth of July weekend, we anchored for the first time in two years at Coches Prietos at Santa Cruz Island, one of the prettiest places in all of the Channel Islands. We had a delightful reach in 12-15 knots across the East Santa Barbara Channel from Ventura, which brought us around to the southern side of the island in less than three hours. From there, we motored nine miles to Coches and dropped the hook, where it remained down for four nights.

It being a holiday weekend, we didn't get one of the best spots close to the beach, but our spot was open to the warmish southwest breeze that filled in each afternoon. It was a mostly sunny weekend, with water near 70°, a little fog in early morning, and some rolling at night — but no storms or rain. Swaying at anchor once again in the afternoon breeze, this time on our own sailboat, with G&Ts in hand, we couldn’t help but compare the Channel Islands to the Dry Tortugas.

Santa Cruz Island is always beautiful, and the wash of the sea against its rocky shore is a refreshing, nurturing sound that we enjoy. The moonless night displayed a breathtaking star canopy comparable to that seen in the high desert. And the placid, open sea to the south was inviting.

Yet the vast, encompassing aqua blue of Dry Tortugas National Park, as seen from atop Fort Jefferson, was comparable to the vistas from Cavern Point on Santa Cruz Island. And the semi-enclosed, protected anchorage was much better for sound sleep — even in thunderstorms — than one open to the sea. And there was more easily-observed sea life at Tortugas. Coches offers more seclusion but, because it's not a national park, there are no services or moorings.

Collectively, the California Channel Islands have nearly — but not quite — everything that one would want in a cruising ground. But what area does have it all? The Channel Islands are certainly unsurpassed in their accessibility to Southern California mariners, and in their variety of venues. Still, there are many other exquisite cruising venues out there to be tried. So we say, 'try 'em all!'

Ray & Bette Wilson
King’s Gambit, Bavaria 38
Long Beach

Ray and Bette — Latitude loves your 'try 'em all' attitude. But sorry that we weren't as clear as we could have been about the landing permit fees for the Natural Conservancy's part of the island. As we're planning several sailing-hiking trips to Santa Cruz Island this summer and fall, we'd done all the research, we just failed to communicate it clearly.

Speaking of communication failures, the 15 illegal immigrants who got dumped off at Santa Cruz Island in early July are probably trying to figure out what their boat driver didn't understand about their wanting to get dropped off on mainland California, not an offshore island.

For those of you keeping score at home, in 2010 some 867 illegal immigrants and smugglers were arrested at sea or along the California coast, which was more than double the number in '09. With recent panga-load landings at such diverse places at Carlsbad, Laguna Beach, tony Malibu, and Santa Cruz Island, the total is expected to be much higher for this calendar year. Officials say that those engaged in human trafficking have been smuggling drugs at the same time, with one boat found to have had 500 lbs of pot aboard. This has led to discoveries of smuggling vessels at Catalina and Santa Rosa islands, and the suspicion that the islands are becoming home to lookouts for the smugglers.


Did you know that Ka-Em-Te, which sank after the two owners and two crew were rescued by a ship 650 miles southwest of Pt. Conception on their way back to the States from Mexico, was a 30-ft Bayliner sailboat? There's a reason they are called Bayliners, not 'Oceanliners'.

Jason Dicks
Myrtle Beach, SC

Jason — We're not familiar enough with the Bayliner sailboats to comment on how stoutly they were built. But according to the blog maintained by Ka-Em-Te's Oregon-based owners, Doug Merrell and Trisha Kelsoe, the couple had made a lot of improvements to the boat prior to their sailing to and spending three years in San Carlos, Mexico. As they elected to try to sail the clipper route back to Oregon, which necessarily took them something like 500 miles offshore and away from almost all shipping, it's clear they had confidence in their boat.

For the record, a lot of very high-quality boats have sunk after striking submerged objects. Ka-Em-Te managed to sail for several more days before her steering became so bad the crew decided to abandon the boat. And rather than freaking out and issuing a mayday, they issued an appropriate pan pan. You might also note that Trisha said she regretted not scuttling the boat because, even in Ka-Em-Te's debilitated condition, she wasn't going to sink right away, and therefore posed a hazard — albeit a very small one — to navigation. You can read the full story of Ka-Em-Te's fate in this month's Sightings.


I anchored my Catana 40 Paradox in Barra de Navidad for a week this March while my wife went home to do tax paperwork and see the kids. One night I got up to pee, and sat down on the bowl in the dark, as I usually do to avoid making a mess. I suddenly felt a scratching around my private areas! I jumped up and turned on the light to find a rat struggling for his life in the salt water of the head. After examining myself to insure the family jewels hadn't suffered any damage, I drowned the rat and threw him overboard. I did notice that he'd scratched off most of the calcium stains that had collected around the base of the bowl, stains I had been meaning to clean.

I set some traps, but never did catch any other rats. The only food damaged was a box of ramen noodles that had been chewed through. I guess the salt made him thirsty, and he fell into the toilet bowl trying to get a drink. Other sailors have told me that snakes as well as rats swim in the Barra lagoon and can crawl up anchor rodes. My advice is to keep the toilet cover down when in Barra.

Carl J. Carlson
Paradox, Catana 39S
Guaymas, Mexico

Readers — In response to our running this item in 'Lectronic, several readers wrote in with suggestions on how to keep pests and vermin off boats. Read on.


Years ago, I used to keep my old Sabre 34 Freedom Rider up in the Delta for a couple of months in the summer. I would work during the week and spend weekends on the boat. When I opened the boat one weekend, I found ants all over the galley counter, the dry locker, and the surrounding cabinets. And when I say all over, I do mean all over!

I was pretty shocked because I'd heard of rats and roaches on boats, but ants? Upon close inspection, I discovered a line of ants coming down my finger pier from the levee berm at the head of the dock. I surmised that the ants had crawled up my dockline and got in the boat via the engine air intake next to the aft cleat.

Not wanting to spray insecticide in my boat, I used a wet sponge and a lot of running water to wipe up the ants and flush them down the drain. It took over three hours, but I cleaned out every cabinet and counter until there was no more trace of the ants. Furthermore, I bought ant traps for the counter and cabinets, and I sprayed my docklines and end of the finger with Raid to prevent another invasion. All seemed good for the next 36 hours, so I figured I had the problem licked.

But when I returned to my boat the following weekend, I found the ants were up to their old tricks. There were not as many as before, so I figured these were stragglers from the first invasion, and that their reinforcements had been cut off when I sprayed the docklines and dock the week before. Once again, I went into wipe-up mode, and for the next 36 hours no ants were to be seen. Mission accomplished!

That Sunday, after a great weekend in the Delta, I started to put my boat away for the week. Going through my shutdown checklist, I lifted the floorboard in the main salon to make sure the bilge was dry. What did I see, but millions — OK, maybe just many thousands — of ants in a mass, many of them carrying eggs! Reinforcements from outside weren’t necessary, as they were multiplying right there in my bilge!

It became clear that my adhering to the Geneva Conventions by fighting ants with just a wet sponge wasn't going to cut it, so I reverted to chemical warfare and sprayed the bilge with ant killer just before leaving for the weekend. The good news is that it did the trick. The bad news was that the boat smelled of ant killer for the next three weeks and I didn't feel comfortable spending too much time aboard. As a result, I lost a couple of weekends of Delta Dawdling.

Jamie Rosman
Tardis, Taswell 49
Ex-Freedom Rider, Sabre 34
San Francisco


Aboard Tropical Dance, we use 'Gecko Guard' for roach and ant control.

Reylyn Yarussi
Tropical Dance
Gulfstar Sailmaster 50
San Clemente

Readers — Some might laugh, but geckos are popular roach controls throughout the tropics as well as in places such as New York City. Noisy geckos are said to be able to consume as many at 200 cockroaches a night. But if you've got a cat on your boat, you won't have your gecko(s) for long.


I suggest putting rat guards facing out on anchor/docklines, and spraying them liberally with pesticide. This definitely works for rats and snakes. A few roaches might be able to scurry around the funnel, but hopefully the pesticide will get them before they become too much of a nuisance.

Paul Fowler
Santa Cruz


When it comes to rats, my advice would be to keep the seat up. It sounds like a great way to catch an unwelcome intruder!

Cameron Vawter


Based on my 17-year circumnavigation, it is virtually impossible to prevent pests from stowing away on a cruising boat. But you don't have to welcome them aboard. We had our fair share of invasions of pests, both vermin and uninvited friends, but I'll limit my comments to the former.

The most inviting situation for rats and cockroaches is for a boat to side-tie to a dodgy wharf. If you want to hail every pest in the 'hood, put your garbage bag on deck or on the bulkhead near your boat, and leave it there overnight. You can avoid almost anything but the odd sea snake by anchoring out, or if need be, tying up in a clean marina. In Europe, it is best to Med-moor rather than side-tie, and raise your passarelle — i.e. boarding plank — when you are not using it.

Keep your food stored in rigid sealed containers, preferably ones that rats and weevils cannot chew through. If possible, store the containers in a locker that has no limber holes or other easy entry points. Putting bay leaves in or near your flour and grain items will help deter weevils. Bugs tend to be more prevalent in unpackaged foods purchased from open markets in Second and Third World countries. Soak veggies in a bucket of water with a drop of bleach to kill bugs and larvae. Put grains in the microwave to kill any bugs or larvae. Leave cardboard and other packaging ashore, as it is breeding grounds for cockroaches and other undesirables. Keep your galley clean and free of grease and food scraps.

As a matter of course, we put cockroach hotels in all our food storage areas and change them regularly. We also keep sachets of rat poison in lockers and bilges throughout the boat.

If you are invaded by pests, you must act immediately and decisively to remove them from your boat. A rat can and will chew through plastic, wiring, and even your sails — and therefore can cause extensive and expensive damage in just a few days. Sharing your living space with a horde of cockroaches is not much fun, either. Pull apart and thoroughly clean any area where there are signs of pests. Make every attempt to remove, trap, or kill the invaders and their nests, and remove any eggs and larvae. Keep some mouse traps and bug spray onboard just in case.

Critters can easily make their way on board. The only problem with 'Iggy', who was a regular visitor while we were in a slip on the New River in Ft. Lauderdale, was when he left a big poo on the deck.

My having made many reports to Latitude over the course of my long circumnavigation, I hope nobody minds if I put in a plug for Moonshadow, my beloved Deerfoot 2-62. She's for sale, and truly in excellent condition and equipped to go offshore tomorrow. We're selling her as a turn-key operation, with all the offshore cruising gear, dinghy/outboards, spare parts, tools, appliances, galleyware, etc. for $499,000. Her next caretaker would literally only have to make a trip to the supermarket and she'd be ready to cruise anywhere.

By the way, I have to agree with the Wanderer about the appeal of small and nimble sailboats. I have been racing on Stewart 34s, a New Zealand one-design racer-cruiser for the past 12 years, and when 'Shadow sells, I plan to buy one. But as the Wanderer also knows, there's nothing like a big boat when you're living on board and sailing across a lot of open water.

George Backhus & Merima Dzaferi
Moonshadow, Deerfoot 2-62
Lying in Jacksonville, Florida
Ex-Sausalito / Auckland, New Zealand


Latitude has been reporting on recently passed legislation in my home state of Washington that bans copper-based bottom paints. As a fish-loving environmentalist, I'm all for it -— but only if adequate alternatives can be developed. In my opinion, the law we passed is a politically mutated sham that will burden the small boat owner and do little or nothing to improve water quality. Why? Commercial vessels and yachts over 65 feet are exempted.

I cannot fathom the reason for this exemption. It is tempting to think that those groups had better lobbyists in our state capital, but who knows? In any case, knowing that Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen's various megayachts and the Washington State Ferry System will be dumping more copper into Puget Sound every day than my little Islander 28 is likely to leach in her lifetime makes it very difficult for me to buy into the idea that I'm going to buck up and help save our waters.

As I said, I'm all for helping to improve water quality, but the policies must be fair. As written, ours is not.

Jeff Lange
Annie Lee, Islander 28
Anacortes, WA

Jeff — It does seem odd that the vessels being exempted from the law will be: 1) Government ferries. Shouldn't Washington's 'green government' be leading the 'green revolution' by example? 2) Boats over 65 feet, which proportionally use more bottom paint than smaller boats. If we ever take Profligate to Washington, we suppose we're going to have to consider adding a 2-ft broomstick to her bow to qualify for the exemption. And 3) the megayachts of billionaires, who more than anyone could afford the extra expense — albeit minor — that will be incurred by the mandated use of non-copper bottom paints.

By the way, has the state of Washington gotten around to passing legislation that will prohibit the use of copper in brake pads? As most people know, copper from brake pads is the biggest source of copper-related water pollution.


Just because the development plans for Treasure Island have been approved by the city of San Francisco doesn't necessarily mean the projected buildings will actually be built.

Years ago, the Navy gave their old training center to the city of San Diego for what was to be low-income housing. It took years for the city to do anything, and when they decided to act, the low-income housing was cancelled because "developers couldn't make enough money." That meant the lottery for getting onto the list to buy the low-cost housing was cancelled as well. A new list of people was created to see who got first crack at no-longer-low-income housing and the list was heavy on city council members and family members of the developers, who bought up a bunch of places. Then they rented them out, even though a condition of purchase was that they be owner-occupied for the first two years.

If you believe what the developers say, you're crazy, but that's how it went in San Diego. We'll have to see what happens at Treasure Island.

Paul Clausen
Washington County

Paul — Are you trying to suggest that developers and members of government have a 'scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' relationship? Come on, this is the United States, where everybody has equal opportunity and is treated equally. The next thing you'll be telling us is that the only two classes of people who can legally profit from trading on inside stock information — a.k.a. having a license to print money — are members of Congress and the members of the staff of members of Congress. Oh wait, we forgot, that's true.


I guess the Bay Area is no different than much of the rest of the world when it comes to marinas being prejudiced against multihulls. I'm wondering when we'll get a marina that caters to multis, such as the one in Annapolis.

I'm down here at Gravelle's Boat Yard working on my Searunner 31 tri, and am hoping to make the Baja Ha-Ha this fall. But if I get a slip in the harbor here, they automatically charge me 200% of the monohull rate. It doesn't make any difference whether I'm on an end-tie, which would mean that I'm taking up the same amount of dock space as a similar beamy monohull. The policy is no different from that of any other marina in the area, so I'm not picking on Moss Landing. In fact, the berth rates here are very reasonable — particularly when compared to those of Santa Cruz. It's just unreasonable that they double my rate for no other reason than that they can.

Tom Van Dyke
en pointe, Searunner 31
San Francisco

Tom — The fact is that multihulls do have a much bigger 'footprint' than do monohulls, so you would expect that they be charged more. Of course, a 60-ft monohull also takes up more than three times the square footage of a 20-ft monohull, but they don't pay three times as much per foot. So you're right, something is funky somewhere.

For the record, the berth rates for a 35-ft slip at the Annapolis Catamaran Center are $800/month.


We enjoyed the June 27 'Lectronic photo of Profligate's tight squeeze when being lifted out at the La Cruz Shipyard. The accompanying photo is of our new-to-us Catana 44 Taiga being hauled for the summer in Charleston, South Carolina, after our winter cruise in the Exumas. You can see the fenders are on the trampoline because we only had two inches' clearance in the slip!

Other than hauling our cat by crane, this was one of only two Travel-Lifts at a dry storage yard anywhere south of the Chesapeake Bay capable of hauling a cat with the 23-ft beam of our boat. The other was in Thunderbolt, Georgia, but they didn't have long term storage available.

Jack & Sherri Hayden
Vets of the '99 Ha-Ha
Taiga, Catana 44
Eagle River, AK

Jack and Sherri — Two inches?! That's one-fourth of the clearance we had. We're going to stop bragging.


I've been on eight fishing trips out of San Felipe, the last two of which were on Erik, the boat that sank in stormy conditions on July 3, tragically claiming the lives of seven Northern California men.

While the fishing boats I went on were not 'Princess boat pristine', to my eye they were seaworthy for the conditions in the Sea of Cortez. The crew were good sailors and great fishing guides.

Anyone going on a trip on a Mexican boat should be forewarned that the regulations and enforcement we seem to resent in U.S. waters are not to be found in Mexico. I spent some time on the bridge with the captain on the first trip that I took and noticed that the only navigation aids aboard were a compass on a gimbal, a chart, and a VHF radio. Realizing that if something were to happen, the radio would probably be out of range and useless, I decided to bring my own emergency equipment on my next trip. For all future trips, I brought PFDs for all in my party, a compass, a chart, and an EPIRB. Fortunately, we never needed this equipment.

My being an avid racer on San Francisco Bay and a reader of Latitude 38, my sailboats and crew were always ready for the worst. Whenever people venture out on big waters, there will be boating tragedies, some because of nautical ineptitude, but most just because of bad circumstances. We have had our share of tragedies in the Bay Area, but sailors here are knowledgeable and prepared. Latitude 38 is a shining light in the effort to keep sailors prepared.

Joe Boone
Blitzen, Ranger 23
Loch Lomond

Joe — Thanks for the observations and kind words about Latitude.

Frankly, we're baffled by several aspects of the terrible Erik tragedy. First of all, we're talking about a 115-ft -vessel that had been safely plying these waters for many years, and with an experienced crew aboard.

Second, although hit by a "furious and brief" storm that reportedly produced 50-knot winds and 15-ft seas, such storms, whether they be elefantes or chubascos, are common as dirt in the Sea in the summer. Every summer cruiser in the Sea has been through a bunch of these "furious and brief" storms, and no doubt Erik and her crew had been through scores of them. So it seems to us that the weather couldn't have been that much of a problem — unless something about the extreme tides in that part of the Sea made the seas much worse than they otherwise would have been.

Third, what in the hell was the captain of the Erik doing steering the vessel beam to the seas? This was reported by one Novato survivor, who had been up in the wheelhouse with the captain until just before the fatal wave hit. No matter if you graduate from Annapolis or are a seat-of-the-pants Mexican mariner, you know that being abeam to big seas is something you want to avoid at all costs.

It's just not clear to us what went wrong — catastrophic boat failure, drunk captain, 'roguish wave'. We'd sure like to know more.

Government oversight of passenger vessels varies tremendously around the world, and can vary even more within a country based on local corruption. Look what just happened in Russia, where 129 people died. And while in Vietnam and Cambodia two years ago, we travelled and/or slept on several dicey vessels we wouldn't have gotten on if we hadn't been confident that our daughter and de Mallorca could have easily swum to shore or to another boat. Indeed, when we heard that one of the overnight tourist boats at Halong Bay, Vietnam had suddenly sunk on February 15, claiming the lives of 12 tourists, it came as no surprise. And if we get a report tomorrow that a river ferry in Ho Anh sank with the loss of 200 lives and 100 motorbikes and 100 bicycles, it wouldn't be a shock either.

While Mexico may not have as high standards as do the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia or the rest of the first world, they do make an effort.

It's important also to realize that we in the States don't have a perfect record either. For example, on March 6, 2004, the Coast Guard-inspected vessel Lady D, with two crew and 23 passengers aboard, flipped while on a water taxi route from Fort McHenry to Fells Point, Maryland. Five passengers died, and four suffered serious injuries after the boat went over in moderately rough conditions.

A little more than a year later, the Ethan Allen, a 40-ft, glass-enclosed tour boat flipped with 47 passengers — mostly senior citizens — in calm conditions on New York's Lake George. Twenty passengers died. Despite the fact the Ethan Allen was certified by the Coast Guard to carry 47 passengers, the National Transportation and Safety Board later concluded that she shouldn't have been certified to carry more than 14 passengers. Weather was determined not to have been a factor.

Then there was the famous case of the 310-ft Staten Island ferry Andrew J. Barberi, which crashed full-speed into a concrete pier at the St. George, New York, ferry terminal on August 15 '03. Eleven of the 1,500 passengers were killed and 71 injured, some critically. The law, reasonably enough, required that two pilots be in the wheelhouse when the ferry was about to dock. Alas, most of the pilots thought this policy was too much of a bother to follow, so only pilot Richard Smith, who had been observed slumped over the controls, was in the wheelhouse. Shortly after the incident, Smith tried to commit suicide, first on the vessel by slashing a wrist, then at home with two pellet gun shots to the chest. He wasn't any more successful with these attempts than he was with docking the ferry.

Smith, who was found to have taken two painkillers and fell asleep while at the helm, was later sentenced to 18 months. He must have come before a hard-ass judge, because that's just over six weeks for every life that was lost on his account. To date, the city of New York, which argued that the accident was an "act of God," has shelled out $55 million to victims and families of victims.

We support your idea of bringing your own radio, GPS, EPIRB or Spot Messenger, and PFDs on fishing trips to Mexico. And probably on other private and public transport vessels, too, no matter if they are in India, Mexico or the United States. No, we aren't very trusting of others.


When I was a cadet at Cal Maritime, we were steaming toward Tahiti at 10 knots and we hit a whale. So the slow speed didn't prevent the collision, as the activists' proposal for marine sanctuaries along the California coast is mean to accomplish. I'm not sure if the whale we hit survived or not, so I don't know whether the slower speed was less fatal.

Richard Frankhuizen

Richard — Given the dramatic increase in the whale population on the west coast of the Americas, we sure wish something could be done to eliminate or at least reduce collisions between whales and vessels of all sizes.

When we had Profligate hauled at La Cruz Shipyard last month, the Pearson 36 Luffin It II was hauled out nearby with a big crack forward of the starboard beam and a mangled prop shaft. Yard Manager John Gerber explained that she had been hit by a whale. If we're not mistaken, the cost of the repairs — all the interior near the crack would have to be removed and replaced — was going to exceed the value of the boat.


I have been sailing the Bay for the last six years. Having read about how couples can cruise in Mexico for $1,500/month, including maintenance and expenses, I'd like to find out if such expenses include boat insurance, health insurance, related car expenses, clothing, repairs and more. I ask this because my annual boat insurance cost is nearly half of this stated monthly expense. I would be interested in reading about how those out there do this.

Haro Bayandorian
Sail La Vie, Catalina 36
Coyote Point Marina

Haro — The following letter should have what you're looking for. You should also be able to find all the details in July's Cost of Cruising article, which features several spreadsheets that detail every penny that a cruising couple or family spent. Other readers told of their cruising expenses in July's Letters. You'll note the costs ranged from $350/month to $5,000/month. And yes, there are others who spend much more money than that each year.

When it comes to boat insurance, it would be interesting to know what percentage of cruisers have it. We'd guess fewer than 50%, but with a much higher number of more expensive boats being insured.


I've become curious to learn what we've spent this year to keep our boat in Mexico and cruise her roughly seven months a year. We stay at our San Diego home the rest of the time, keeping our boat in Marina Mazatlan when we're not using her. The following annual costs — they are rough rather than exact — do not include the costs related to our San Diego home.

1) Insurance: We pay $1,700/year for our '84 Sabre 38 that is valued at $80,000. This includes Mexican liability.

2) Marina slips and a boat manager when we're gone: $3,700.

3) Boat repairs, bottom paint (ours lasts three years), spare parts and misc.: $1,100. This number could vary if a major component needed replacing.

4) Round-trip airfare for the two of us from Tijuana to either Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta on Volaris, the Mexican discount airline: $1,400.

5) Visas and fishing licenses: $130.

6) Day-to-day expenses, such as eating out, fuel, food and pocket cash: $7.500.

The total annual cost is $15,530, divided by 12 is $1,295/month.

We try to stay out of marinas as much as possible, but it still works out that we have our boat in a marina about seven months of the year. Since our boat is just 38 feet, we usually get a lower rate than 40-ft boats. And the summer rates are much lower than the winter rates.

While we don't dine out a lot, we don't severely limit ourselves either. We haven't done as much inland travel as many cruisers do, so we haven't incurred any of those costs.

Since being in Mexico, we've had some other major expenses that weren't reflected in last year's totals. They include major upgrades, such as a new engine, a new windlass, an SSB radio and so forth. I assumed the 'cost of cruising' premise is to know what it costs to cruise only, as those major costs would have been in incurred if the boat had been kept up in the States, too.

I hope this adds to the information out there. We'll be interested in seeing what others are spending down here.

Jan & Vivian Meermans
Ha-Ha '06
Capriccio, Sabre 38
San Diego / Mazatlan


Nancy – Bahama 25
Mike Nichols
My first change in latitude!
(San Francisco/Monterey)

My 'cruise' only involved a one-degree change in latitude, but it was a start. I left Paradise Cay in Tiburon on Monday morning, June 6, after a weird weekend of weather. I thought I was clear of it, but I was greeted with showers and 17 knots of wind at the Golden Gate at 9 a.m. They say your worst weather is either at the beginning or the end of your voyage, so I hoped I was getting mine at the beginning.

I had a nice but cloudy sail down to Half Moon Bay, where I spent the day and night. The next day started out light, but then southwest winds slowed down my passage to Santa Cruz. I tacked all day and, in the afternoon, the winds picked up to 20 knots or so. I was only off Pigeon Point as the sun went down, so I dropped the sails and lay ahull all night. It was a bit too rough for me to change headsails and heave to, but lying ahull worked just fine. I was up every hour or so checking my position, and only drifted about four miles. The sea was full of phosphorescence every time a wave broke!

At first light, I headed east to Santa Cruz. It was about a seven-hour sail with following winds and seas. What a beautiful day!

I spent a couple of days resting and visiting in Santa Cruz. Considering the damage caused by the recent tsunami, the harbor looked pretty good, although they were still driving new piles and cleaning up. And the boatyard was busy inspecting boats that had come adrift and might have suffered damage.

The Santa Cruz Harbor has a great location, with restaurants, coffee shops and a great beach. I wish it were a bit closer to Steamer Lane or Pleasure Point, as getting to those surf spots takes some time.

After waiting out small craft advisories for four days, I headed for Monterey on June 13. The sail was great, and I saw whales, dolphins and all kinds of birds. When sailing over Monterey Canyon, I marveled at the fact there was 10,000 feet of water beneath my boat's keel. And that Mt. Whitney, just a few hundred miles away, is 14,000 feet above sea level.

I spent a couple of nice days in Monterey exploring the Old Town, as well as Cannery Row and the Aquarium. I am doing the trip in legs, and hope to get as far as Mexico. But for me, it was time for me to head home. So I left the boat on a mooring ball in Monterey Harbor, which is close enough for drives down to do some sailing and upgrades/repairs. I hope to sail from Monterey down to Morro Bay or Ventura in October.

Thanks to all those I spoke with — including Latitude — who encouraged me to peel myself away and go! One degree down, more to come!

Mike Nichols
San Rafael

Mike — As Lao Tzu pointed out, "A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step." But perhaps even more applicable to you, he also wrote, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." Hmmmmmm. Something to meditate on while lying ahull.

By the way, we put your report in Letters rather than Changes because an old Latitude rule says a contributor has to sail south of Point Conception or north of Drakes Bay to qualify for Changes. So we'll be looking forward to your next report.


I'm a bit behind the curve on the Petaluma Bridge height caper, but thought I would throw my two cents in the ring.

First, Beau Vrolyk, the previous owner of our Wylie 65 Saga is correct, just send somebody up the mast to make sure it will clear a bridge. That's what we did while working our way up the Rio Dulce when we weren't sure about the bridge height there. Saga's stick topped out at around 95 feet off the water, so thank God for the electric winches to raise somebody to the top of the mast.

By the way, we were comfortable with this technique when it came to checking the clearance on bridges, but didn't feel comfortable with it when we encountered high-tension power lines — such as near Poulsbo in the Pacific Northwest. In that case, we felt discretion was the better part of valor.

Second, as the owner of the cat going up the Petaluma River demonstrated, just because you don't 'fit' doesn't mean you can't go. This was demonstrated to me many years ago when we were doing the Intracoastal Waterway on our 40-ft sloop. We arrived at a bridge at the southern end of the delightfully named Pongo River / Alligator Swamp Canal, to find a bigger sloop jilling around the bridge there. We came up alongside, and the skipper asked if we wouldn't mind doing him a favor. His mast was a bit tall for the bridge, he explained, so he wondered if we would take his spinnaker halyard to our weather rail and help pull his boat over sideways a bit. Without too much thought I agreed.

He had calculated the angle of heel required to reduce his mast clearance sufficiently to get under the bridge. We cinched his halyard up tight with the boats rafted together, being careful not to bring our masts into contact. Then we slowly steered toward opposite sides of the channel. It is an eerie feeling to be heeled over, rail under with no sail set! My ever-suffering wife kept an eye on the other boat, I kept my eyes dead ahead, and we made it under the bridge none the worse for wear.

I'm not sure that I'd want to do that every day, but the laws of geometry are there to be used.

It reminds me of the old French joke about two truckers who get to an underpass and realize their truck is a few inches too tall. After a few minutes of head scratching, one driver's face lights up and he says, "I've got it; we'll just let some air out of the tires until we get under." His partner gives him a withering look and replies "You idiot, it's not down there that's blocked, it's up there!"

Matt Stone


When I have nothing else to worry about, I worry about how one would take down an in-mast furling main that has become hopelessly jammed while halfway out. Naturally, I add to the fun of worry by imagining this calamity occurring in the middle of The Slot with the wind blowing 30 knots.

I would love to hear the presumed wisdom about what to do in such a situation. The simple answer, of course, would be to not let it happen. The second simple answer is to not have in-mast furling. But what if?

Tony Sowry
Bantham, Catalina 42

Tony — It wouldn't be the ultimate calamity if such a main got jammed in The Slot because, without too much trouble, you could get into the lee of the Sausalito headlands or Angel Island until things settled down. What would be worse is if it happened halfway between Mexico and French Polynesia — which is exactly what Pedro Fernandez de Valle, in this month's Changes, reports happened to the crew of the Jeanneau 54 San Souci II. When they sent a crewmember to the top of the mast, the brave soul was, thanks to the rolling seas amplified by the height of the mast, "beaten like a piñata."

Anyway, that's a great question to those who have in-mast furling mains. Has your main ever gotten jammed, and was it difficult to get unstuck without professional help?

It's expensive, of course, but there's always the technique used by around-the-world maxi multihull racers who, if they were unable to reef the main because of the force of the wind, reserved the right to shoot it to bits with a shotgun.


Simplification is a beautiful thing. That's the hit I got on the Estuary on Friday, June 17, and again on Saturday, June 18, when I saw the Wanderer 'Zen Sailing' his syndicate's pretty old Olson 30 La Gamelle. Based on the big smile on his face, he sure looked happy messin' around sailing that boat. In fact, it got me in the right mood to give the public free rides on my F27 Origami during the Sailstice event at the Encinal YC on Saturday.

As it turned out, one guy came up to Origami bummed that all the slots for rides on my boat had been taken. He seemed all right, so I told him if he could figure out a lift back to Alameda that night, he could help me deliver my tri back to Sausalito rather than just get a wimpy little 'ferry' ride on her near the Encinal YC.

As we motored out the Estuary toward the Bay, I pointed out the Wanderer, who was tacking up the Estuary aboard La Gamelle. The guy, Nate Cutler, replied, "Yeah, I know him. I recently had my Olson 30 up for sale and we talked on the phone quite a bit. It was only because of a various set of circumstances that I ended up selling my boat to someone else."

So naturally I felt the two of you should meet, which explains why the Wanderer and La Gamelle were being chased by the nitwit on the motoring F27 while you were tacking out the Estuary.

Once Nate and I got out to The Slot, we saw 17 knots of sustained boat speed, and were getting soaked on the ama. I was a little worried I might be freaking him out, but I needn't have worried. Tiller extension in hand, Nate told me that the F27 was his dream boat, but that he'd never been on one before. A simple afternoon sail on an older boat making a guy happy — seems I'd seen the same thing back on the Estuary two days in a row.

Following the Wanderer's stories about Profligate years ago contributed to my multihull conversion, and I've vowed to get Origami to the start of the Ha-Ha in '12. But watching the Wanderer sail the syndicate's pretty little La Gamelle, a guy could easily get distracted into burning some airline miles in helping with a delivery or racing crew to/in the Caribbean. Simple sailing for our overly complex lives. If the Wanderer is keeping a potential crew list, perhaps he could tack on one more name and number.

But I'm glad you found your latest boat and are restoring her to sailing grace. It's a really good story.

Greg Carter
Origami, F27

Greg — We can't tell you what pleasure and contentment little La Gamelle has brought us in such a short amount of time, thanks to her reintroducing us to the very essence of sailing. She's far from being in perfect condition, but so are we, which means it's been a perfect match.

While we're still in the communing-with-La Gamelle-one-on-one stage, it's funny how, if you really enjoy an activity, you get almost as much enjoyment by sharing it with others after a while. That being the case, when we get to Bahia Santa Maria during the Ha-Ha each year, or over to Punta Mita, we actually have a better time teaching people how to surf than surfing ourselves. And how, when we get the chance, it's so much fun to take new people sailing on Profligate. Indeed, we hope to get a lot more people out on the big cat in Southern California this summer and in Mexico this winter.

As you might imagine, the other members of the La Gamelle Syndicate are asking how and when the Olson 30 is going to get to the Eastern Caribbean. The answer is that we don't know, but we suppose the first step would be to find a truck and trailer to drive her to the East Coast late in the fall or early in the winter. Anybody have any ideas? As for future crew/delivery opportunities on her in the Caribbean, we'll keep everyone posted.

$27.50 IN CASH OR A $50 CAR RIDE

After four years in Mexico, we brought Psyche back to the United States. Though it's a little late in the season to pass on the news to others doing the Baja Bash, I learned something about U.S. Customs in San Diego that might be helpful to others.

It's true that you can tie up to the Police Dock in San Diego 24/7 to clear Customs — although you may have to wait an hour or more for them to come from the airport. However, you will need exactly $27.50 in cash or to be able to write a check for that amount.

If you arrive late — we arrived at midnight — and don't have correct change or carry checks, they will pull your ship's papers and make you travel to their downtown office the next day to pay. As anyone who has been there knows, the Police Dock is a pretty quiet place late at night, so there was no place for us to get exact change. Since the Customs folks would accept nothing else, we were forced to delay our departure — we wanted to leave immediately as the weather was as good as we’d seen — spend the night, and pay $50 for a round-trip taxi ride to their office downtown.

Granted, it takes a specific set of circumstances to get hung up like we did. And even the police officer in charge of the dock the next morning said he couldn't understand why Customs does it that way, as many arriving mariners are caught unaware. So make sure you have the cash or a check — or arrive during the day when you can get change.

Steve Truax
Psyche, Taswell 43

Steve — Thanks for the heads up. True, the information may be too late for most of this year's Bashers — but not all. We got your email on July 13, and we and Profligate were still in La Cruz with our Bash ahead of us. Here's hoping we have correct change in U.S. currency.

By the way, we wondered if you were joking about there being a place called Lotus in California. We Googled it and found out you weren't pulling our leg, because it's right there near Placerville.


My husband and I are trying to get our ducks in a row so we can join this year's Baja Ha-Ha. Do you have any info on having a boat trucked back from Cabo to Ensenada or the United States? And what would be the cost and recommended companies?

Terry Albrecht
Planet Earth

Terry — To our knowledge, it's never been done from Cabo or La Paz, although we're not quite sure why. Marina Seca, near San Carlos on the mainland, did it for many years. They would lift out the boat, put it on their truck, and drive it to Tucson, where it would be unloaded and put onto a U.S. carrier. If we remember correctly, it cost about $5,000 to ship a 40-ft boat back to Southern California, but apparently it just wasn't worth the effort, as they stopped the operation a few years ago.

However, in early July, after 15 years of battling over the details of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the U.S. and Mexico recently signed an agreement that would finally allow Mexican trucks to deliver goods into the United States and U.S. trucks to deliver goods into Mexico. Perhaps this will encourage somebody to jump into the over-land boat delivery business. Of course, the agreement also has to be passed by the U.S. Congress, so don't hold your breath.

Other options are having Dockwise bring the boat from La Paz or Lazaro Cardenas to Ensenada in the spring, or having someone like the author of the following letter deliver the boat back. By the way, if you just want to do the Ha-Ha and get your boat right back, November and December are considered generally good months to Bash.


As I write this, I'm in Turtle Bay in the middle of my eighth trip back to San Diego from the Mexican mainland. For me, this year has been a little up and down relative to the weather, but watching the news, it seems the weather has been a bit weird all over. We’ve been bucking marginally high winds, and have had seas ranging from flat calm to 8- to 12-footers with 8- to 10-second intervals.

In the past, I always contended that traveling north was only a Bash if you made it one. I know there have been books written about it, and different theories thrown from here to there. But just going out there and getting yourself beat up so you'll have something to write or complain about is not quite my cup of tea. I believe that picking weather windows and having places to pull into is a bit smarter.

After stopping in Cabo for fuel and/or provisions, past trips have taken as long as 15 days — although some have been as short as five days. I find it interesting that this year, of the 12 boats in Turtle Bay with us, half are world-class cruisers, some of whom are completing their third circumnavigation. Another who is a frequent flyer in the singlehanded events between California and Hawaii. None of these folks are complaining.

In fact, it was interesting to listen in on a radio conversation between two of the more seasoned cruisers. What I heard was, “We don’t mind the wind, 20 to 30 knots is nothing. However, at our age and the time spent out here, we like a little more comfort." It seems they have learned something in their travels.

For those folks who are thinking about using Dockwise to ship their boats home, I will gladly deliver your boats north at half the price. I love to sail. We spend about half our time sailing when going north. It may take us a couple of days longer, but we have a good time.

See you this fall!

Harry Hazzard
Vet of five Ha-Ha's
Distant Drum, Beneteau Idylle 51
San Diego

Harry — We bumped into Dan Orlando, captain of the big motorsailer Firefox, which he delivers north from Puerto Vallarta to California each spring. We told him that we heard it had taken him 23 days to do the Bash, so it must have been nasty. "Oh, not at all," he replied. "The boss said there was no rush to get the boat back, so we spent a lot of time waiting out bad weather in good anchorages like Turtle Bay. We had a great time."


Latitude readers might be interested to know how our family, having just completed a circumnavigation, dealt with the Baja Bash. The fact that we started on May 19 from San Jose del Cabo and didn't arrive in our homeport of Redondo Beach until June 13 will give you an idea of what kind of battle it was.

We had mostly uneventful passages between anchorages, with the exception of Turtle Bay to Bahia San Carlos. The wind, current, swell and wind chop were the most challenging during this passage. Following non-traditional advice, we chose the outside passage from Turtle Bay around Isla Cedros. The obvious 'out' would have been the San Benito Islands or the northern anchorage at Isla Cedros, but we were well north of both of those two options when it got rough, so we gutted it out and arrived at the Bahia San Carlos anchorage early in the morning.

We made stops to wait for more favorable conditions in the following anchorages: the Puertos Los Cabo Marina in San Jose del Cabo, Bahia Santa Maria, Bahia San Juanico (Scorpion Bay).Turtle Bay, Bahia San Carlos, and Ensenada's Coral Marina.

Patience was the name of the game. But we admit to being frustrated by hearing of fellow cruisers making the entire 2,800-mile passage from Cabo to the Marquesas before we were able to make it halfway up the 750-mile Baja coast! Seriously, a good sense of humor was needed, and we spent the time in anchorages well by exploring, visiting fellow Bashers and meeting local business people

We utilized the SSB twice a day, listening to the Amigo Net in the morning and the Southbound Net in the evening to get the latest weather. Don of Summer Passage provided additional weather insight, and we utilized every electronic weather prediction website we could access.

Jim, Emma, Phoebe & Drake Mather
Blue Sky, DownEast 45
Redondo Beach


Two of my three crew for the my Baja Bash were from the Latitude 38 Crew List. And I used 10 crew from the Latitude Crew List during my eight months in Mexico. The outstanding crew in the photo were recruited from the your Crew List after countless hours of emailing and screening for excellence. I recruited seven additional crew from the list during my eight months in Mexico — all superb! They are what made our journey safe and enjoyable. You can take that to the bank!

Brad Brown
Easily Influenced, Hunter 42
San Diego


Latitude should be ashamed of itself! I'm sure that your model Crissy Fields is a nice girl who probably looks after your every need. But to have her model the Latitude T-shirts and not even show her face leads me to surmise that she's the victim of abuse. Surely you should have her face on the 'Lectronic site. Perhaps you should let her get a tan, too. And why is it nobody has ever seen her on Profligate? Are you guys too cheap to fork out the air fare? Just remember, we girls are great crewmembers, and we just want fair and equal rights.

Enraged Eva
South Bay

Eva — As a highly paid fashion model, Ms. Fields is prohibited from showing her face in ads for Latitude shirts due to contractual obligations. Ms. Fields is happy to model for us as long as we keep her face out of the photos. Because of her sensitive alabaster skin, she prefers to sail the cloud-covered waters of the Pacific Northwest rather than aboard Profligate in the tropics. Gal sailors? We love them! We always have as many aboard Profligate as we can get.



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