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September 2011

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Following the loss of two lives on the flipped Kiwi 35 WingNuts in the Chicago-Mac Race, and the capsize of the 100-ft Juan K-designed Rambler in the Fastnet Race, I believe a community-wide discussion of the seaworthiness of such boats is overdue.

Some will say — and with merit — that life on the edge is inherently dangerous, and that danger is the price one pays for living fully. I suggest that at least some of the danger that has crept into the sport could be avoided without appreciable loss of excitement, enjoyment or satisfaction.

No matter what the sport, at the grand prix-level risk is part of the game. But in many sports — NASCAR, for example — much has been done to minimize injury and death. And yet, despite roll cages, Nomex suits, and helmets, the sport remains challenging and thrilling. Have we sailors given the same level of attention to our sport?

I'm not suggesting that we try to create a risk- (and excitement-) free activity. Simply that we should expect our boats to be engineered to a reasonable safety factor.

Will the sensations of speed, intensity and excitement be lost by the addition of a few additional pounds of steel or carbon? For some, perhaps. Danger can be thrilling. But it's one thing to enjoy the excitement of living on the edge at the grand prix-level and quite another thing when that technology and those engineering standards trickle down to the club racer-level — such as where WingNuts was. This puts unsuspecting crew in unnecessarily dangerous situations, ones they may not have knowingly signed up for.

Putting the world of elite sailing aside for a moment, I think the rest of us can have both: the thrill and challenge of intense high-speed action, and the assurance that the wheels of our ride won't fall off as we navigate a hairpin turn.

There is a fine line between courage and recklessness. I think people generally honor courage and disrespect recklessness. I would like to see sailing continue to be honored as an exciting, challenging and responsibly pursued endeavor.

Will Hays
Mentor, Ohio

Will -— We're not sure how your suggestion could be implemented and managed, but philosophically we couldn't agree with you more. There is plenty of danger at the cutting edge of sailboat racing as it is, and we'd hate to see any elite sailors badly injured or losing their lives because a margin of error was shaved a little too thin in the pursuit of an additional 1/100th of a knot of boat speed. By the way, it's noteworthy that as a result of having previously broken three daggerboards, Rambler's new ones were built three times as strong.

The Paul Cayards, John Kosteckis, Stan Honeys and others at the top levels of the racing world are at least somewhat familiar with the kinds of risks they run when racing extreme boats. After all, they've not only 'been around the block' on them, they've literally been around the world on them at record speeds. The same can't be said for club racers who step aboard the likes of smaller cutting edge boats such as the Kiwi 35. We believe more novice sailors deserve to have some idea of what they are getting themselves into when they step onto edgy boats. But again, who is going to set and enforce such standards, and could they do it without insisting that everyone race Westsail 32s?


I was saddened to hear about the loss of life in the Chicago-to-Mackinac Race after the 35-ft ultralight WingNuts flipped and two of her crew were trapped. I think it's time for the sailing community in the United States to require that sailors wear PFDs.

My brother, who lives on the East Coast, finds the idea of PFDs to be bizarre. But with the advent of inflatable PFDs, there is no reason that they shouldn't be required in all races. These devices are not uncomfortable to wear, and they provide the most basic protection needed by a sailor.

Paul McCarthy
Lucky Duck, Wylie 34
Redwood City

Paul — Based on all the reports we've read, the crew of WingNuts took safety very seriously. Rather than simply carrying one GPIRB aboard, each crewmember was wearing his or her own personal beacon. Moreover, each crewmember was wearing a PFD, and they were all tethered to the yacht as per sailing's universally accepted best practices.

The incident seems to suggest that in cases where there might be downdrafts of 90 to 100 knots for an estimated seven minutes, even a PFD will not save you. We know it's heresy, but there is a good possibility that wearing PFDs may have contributed to the two deaths. Think about it: if you're trapped beneath an overturned boat, an automatically inflated PFD may be the biggest obstacle to escaping.

Indeed, a few years back in a Santa Barbara to Redondo Beach Race, we rescued the three crew of a flipped trimaran. One of the three crew was badly shaken — the tri had flipped on top of him — and he said he nearly lost a life-and-death battle to overcome the buoyancy of his inflated vest in order to swim out from beneath the boat. Peter Isler, navigator on Rambler, reported the same difficulty when having to swim out from beneath that monstrously large overturned yacht.


I say 'Not so fast!' to those who are happy to roll out the red carpet for the 370-ft Chilean tall ship Esmeralda, which sailed into the Bay on July 21. During Pinochet's reign, Esmeralda was used as an interrogation and prison ship. Many of those arrested were tortured to death on her.

I have vivid memories of an incident in the '70s when some Berkeley friends and I were hanging out at The Loft on College Ave. Esmeralda had come to visit the Bay with her complement of cadets and diplomats, and there had been protests. Someone ran into the bar and yelled, "Hey, the Esmeralda crew is having dinner down the street!"

A whole gang of us went to the upscale restaurant — now long gone — where the crew was eating. There must have been at least a dozen of these young officer cadets in lovely dress whites, ribbons and braid, and the girls sitting with them were in prom attire, every one of them a knockout. We presented quite a contrast, as if somebody had emptied a holding tank into the room.

I was pretty drunk, and for some reason did most of the talking. I made a short speech about the horrid use to which their ship had been put, and that their visit, in our eyes, symbolized inhumanity and oppression. What I do vividly remember was that when I said the word "torture," the girls looked shocked, as if somebody had slapped them. Perhaps some of the young men, too.

I don't remember many details, but there was no fight, the management was conflicted and, it being Berkeley, they never tried to kick us out. Eventually one of the cadets kind of put his arm over my shoulder and said, "Let's talk about this," and moved closer to the door. I thought he wanted to debate it on the sidewalk, but once I was out the door, he immediately retreated back into the restaurant. Some friends wanted to pound on them, but it being the non-violence phase of the '70s, I talked them out of it.

I got the distinct impression that those cadets and their dates lived a pretty good life and never heard of political prisoners or torture anywhere in Chile, let alone on their own ship. They seemed more shocked at our bad manners and discussing unpleasantness in front of their ladies than over any stench of human rights violations in their backyard.

The Esmeralda, even today, is not welcome in some ports. With a little head start, we could probably have kept her away from San Francisco.

Charles Lane
Shamwari, Tayana 37
Castro Valley

Charles — In '00, Chileans freely elected Ricardo Lagos, heir to the Allende's socialist views, as their president. In '06, Chileans elected Michelle Bachelet, another socialist, to be their first female president. It seems to us that if either of these heirs to the Chilean Socialist movement agreed with you that the Esmeralda continues to "symbolize inhumanity and oppression" for the admittedly terrible things that happened aboard her 30 years ago, they would have had the ship scrapped. Since she's a Chilean ship, it seems to us that the Chileans — and particularly the Chilean Socialist leaders — ought to be the ones to decide if Esmeralda is a proper ambassador for their country.


After running the July 15 'Lectronic Latitude story about the attack against Allen and Kate Barry aboard their DownEast 38 Mendocino Queen in the Tobago Cays, it would be nice if you could post a follow-up. Based on a blurb in, the bad guys might have been caught. The Mayreau Harbor Patrol reported the following to them:

"RE: Burglary Tobago Cays, 2 July 2011. Please be informed that those guys were caught about a week ago by a joint effort between Canouan and Union Island Police. They were since charged for several offences and are presently in prison awaiting trial."

David Kory
Barking Spider, MacGregor 65

David — The biggest surprise to us is not that the alleged thieves have been caught, but how long it took for them to be caught. After all, there are no secrets in Third World islands and villages. Everybody knows who is doing what, including who is committing what crimes. It all comes down to power politics of who gets arrested, convicted, and stays in prison. Come to think of it, in that sense it's a lot like the United States.

We think the more important thing is how, or if, the assault has affected the Barrys. Immediately after the incident, they said it wasn't bothering them, and based on the following email we received from them several weeks later, we don't think there have been any lasting effects: "We think that you [the Wanderer] should work less and sail more. I, Allen, turn 65 this year, and one of the best ways to stay healthy and fit is to live actively — as in cruising. We are currently hauled out at the Tyrrell Boat Yard in Carriacou for a bottom job and should launch in a couple of days. We hope to see you in the Caribbean soon."


Sisiutl's autopilot went out the first time we did the Puddle Jump, which was unfortunate because it happened before we added a windvane. The loss of the autopilot required us to steer 24/7.

Several days later, in the middle of the night, I had to swerve in order to avoid a Puerto Vallarta bus that appeared directly in front of my boat's bow. The bus was so clear and vivid that I could see not only the writing on its side but also the alarmed faces of passengers that thought we were going to run into them. In reality, I guess it was just my mind telling me that I needed to get some rest, so I rapped on the bulkhead and woke up my partner for her shift at the wheel.

During ocean passages I often hear outboard motors so clearly that I must get up and look around for them — even though we're 1,000 miles from anywhere.

I am still in Danga Bay, which is in Malaysia across the waterway from Singapore. We seem to have stalled here to the point that I bought an air conditioner because of the heat. We'll leave next season for an as-yet-undetermined destination.

Bob Bechler & Alexandria Bauista
Sisiutl, Gulfstar 44
Johor Bahru, Malaysia / Seattle

Bob — Seeing the frightened faces of the passengers on the bus you were going to 'hit' in the middle of the ocean — that's classic.


The Wanderer asked about sailors hearing voices of people who weren't actually aboard their boats with them. It happened to me during the breezy finish of the '82 Singlehanded TransPac. I'd launched my Wylie 34 Pegasus just a couple of weeks before the start, and the first few days of the race had been miserably slow. But with the wind up during the last several hundred miles, my autopilot couldn't handle the boat with the chute up. I had to drop the spinnaker every night, which was, as you can imagine, frustrating.

So at dawn on July 4, I took a sun, planet and star sight — electronic navigation wasn't allowed back then! — so I knew precisely where I was. I plotted our position — my having built her, the boat and I will always be "us" — walked off the miles, and figured that I would finish in the evening on July 5, about 36 hours later. Being young, I figured I could stay awake and drive that long, thus enabling us to keep the spinnaker up and sail a lot faster. So I fixed a great breakfast, set the spinnaker, and headed for the horizon.

About 22 hours later I was really sleepy, but I figured I'd better get out the RDF — the only electronic navigation allowed back then — and get a LOP to Kauai. This would allow me to home in on the island, meaning I wouldn't have to drop the kite to take and reduce a sight. I dialed up a Kauai station, but to my dismay I had drifted to the south in a surprisingly strong current. So instead of bringing the pole aft, I had to reach hard with the pole just off the headstay — a more challenging point of sail.

Not only was I bummed, but it was hard reaching, so we flamed out every now and then. I was seriously groggy by mid-morning, by which time I was steering in human autopilot mode. In other words, my eyes were open and I was steering to the luff of the sail, which requires precision, yet I was asleep, just like soldiers who fall asleep while marching. Unaware of my surroundings, I nonetheless wasn't rounding up much at all. When I did round up, I would become aware for a bit, then drift off into la-la land again.

During the first five days of the race, which had had very light air, I'd read Shogun. So as I was driving on the tight reach toward the finish, Anjin-san, the 'honorable pilot' character in the book, came to me. What's more, he started giving me grief: "If you lose this race by two or three hours," he scolded me, "it will be because you let your boat drift south! Now you're hard reaching and going slow!"

The fact that Anjin-san was standing over the water at the time didn't seem to bother me. And to this day I'm not sure if I actually talked back to him or just imagined that I did. But I replied, "It's not my fault, I couldn't get fixes at night, and I was too far away to get the radio station!"

He would have none of it. "It's your fault," he repeated. "You should have been paying attention!"

I was about to reply, but then reality hit me. 'Wait a minute,' I thought to myself, 'I'm in the Singlehanded TransPac, what's this guy doing here?!' The realization hit me so hard that I was shocked awake — as which point Anjin-san disappeared. It was weird! But it was also so real!

The shock made me think, "You know, I ought to be able to see the island now." I stared ahead, and sure enough, the cloud ahead of me looked different . . . and there the island was beneath it! It was off in the distance and hours away, but there was dirt beneath that cloud. From then on, I was so wired that I had no chance to be tired.

I finished just before sunset, and had won a bet, so I kept getting free drinks all night. But I still never got tired. I went to sleep around 1 a.m. to the sound of the frogs in the gentle rain, then woke up before dawn — completely refreshed.

For many years after, I had this feeling that I hadn't been alone out there, and that Anjin-san had really been there. I know he wasn't, but the feeling of certainly was so incredibly strong! Nor could I ascertain if it was a hallucination or just a dream.

Four years later, I again drove for the same final 38 hours of the '86 Singlehanded TransPac aboard my Olson 30 Francis Who?, but wasn't as tired and didn't have any hallucinations whatsoever. I didn't have the same conditions for the '92 Singlehanded TransPac, so I didn't have to drive my Newland 368 Pegasus XIV as much in the end. Besides, by then I was an old guy at age 36.

I've never had any other hallucinations or dreams like that since.

Dan Newland
Pegasus - Pegasus XIV
Port Townsend, WA

Readers — For the record, Dan, with or without the assistance of Anjin-san, was the overall winner of all three of the Singlehanded TransPacs in which he raced.


I enjoyed reading Greg Carter's August issue letter about watching the Wanderer Zen sail the Olson 30 La Gamelle on the Oakland Estuary. I have owned my Pearson 26 Midnattsolen since she was brand new — in fact, still on her cradle — back in '76. She is now still pretty much as she was back then, as I have not added a self-tending or roller furling jib. Nonetheless, she is a pleasure to sail. The extra work involved because I don't have a self-tending or roller furling jib is no work at all, but rather adds to my enjoyment of sailing her. After all, how many thousands of years had man been sailing the 'old-fashioned' way before self-tending jibs, roller furling, engines and the like?

We sailed Midnattsolen on the Bay for many years but are currently based out of the Delta. In fact, I work at a marina that is almost exclusively populated by large powerboats and wakeboard boats. The channel from the marina to 'fast water' is just under one mile in length. My dog CC and I tack out the channel, waving at all the boats driving by us. CC is always decked out in her PFD, sitting in the cockpit, watching the boats going by and the dog walkers on the levee, and listening to the classical music wafting up from the cabin. Life is good. Whether we sail for an hour or three, it is time well-spent that no motorized boat driver could ever appreciate.

The satisfaction one gets from executing a perfect — well, almost — tack and then setting up for the next one is worth the little extra 'work' involved. The more tacks you make, the easier they become, and the more fun you have. This also builds confidence in your sailing ability.

Sailors should never forget that they are on what is, first and foremost, a sailboat. As such, they should be able to do everything under sail. Motors are great when they work, but that's something they don't always do. In fact, they tend to stop working at the most inopportune times. If you have practiced your sailing, you will be able to calmly handle the non-motor situation with ease. The more you practice sailing, the more fun you will have sailing, and the more sailing you will do.

By the way, the Delta is a great place to hone all sorts of sailing skills. It is for the most part a very forgiving place to sail, and as an added bonus, the water is warm in the summer. It's a great place to try anchoring under sail, and/or picking up and leaving a mooring under sail. And given the Delta's warm water, it's a great place to practice man overboard drills under sail. Thanks to the narrow sloughs and rivers, you get plenty of practice short-tacking, too.

But no matter where you keep your boat, the main thing is to just get out and sail. As my sainted mother always said, "Sailing is like voting: if you don't do it you, can't bitch when the motor or elected officials fail."

William Grummel
Midnattsolen, Pearson 26
Discovery Bay

William — We know, as you do, that Zen is the opposite of instant gratification, which is nothing but the sugar high of life. In fact, if we had to do it again, we wouldn't have even put a roller furling headsail on La Gamelle. We say that based on the fact that little issues have kept us from using it, during which time we discovered that we don't need it. If there's too much wind for the #4, we just drop the sail entirely. The other good news is that while Zen sailing in the Richmond Riviera, we discovered three more lines on deck — and associated gear — that we don't need for Zen sailing.

Since you're located up in the Delta and can't conveniently do the Wanderer's four-part Zen Circuit on San Francisco Bay, we'd nonetheless be honored for you to accept a Zen Sailing Federation T-shirt for your Zen-like approach to sailing.


I don’t know if we qualify as Zen sailors but we dig where the Wanderer is coming from with the Olson 30 La Gamelle. It was in '03 that Terry Shrode and I returned from a circumnavigation aboard my Ericson 39 Maverick. We were sailing her on the Bay one day with some guests when Terry and I looked at each other and one of us said, "What’s the fun in this? You can’t die or anything." It was then I decided it was time to part with my beloved sloop.

We had no plans to do any more ocean voyaging, Maverick had a ton of gear, and was simply an overkill for daysailing and overnighting. I remembered that before our circumnavigation, I loved taking my dinghy on little mini-passages instead of limiting myself to racing. So trading down suddenly seemed alluring.

The concept Terry and I followed next was to get a well-used Catalina 22. The cost of the boat, along with things like sails, rigging, and parts, was laughable compared to that of the big boat. We knew we could put her on the trailer and get places we had never been, and also to places we’re very fond of but are a bit of work to get to by sea — such as Tomales Bay. We knew nothing about the Catalina 22 design, but as 15,000 of them had been sold, we figured it must have something going for it.

There has been a downside in trading down: our Catalina 22 is appallingly — or perhaps appealingly — unmotivated to go fast. However, the only time I notice this is at the Richmond YC beer can races. We’re still learning and tweaking the boat, however, and last week finished in the middle of the pack. We counted that a resounding success — even if it’s a notch or two down from how we used to do.

But when I'm on my own on the boat on the Bay, I couldn't care less about her speed. It’s weird, but we seem to get as much pleasure sailing her and working on her as we did with the big boat. Of course, you can’t rule out the possibility that we’re idiots.

We’ve still got an outboard and carry a radio and depthsounder, so we haven’t quite reached the Wanderer's state of enlightenment. Maybe some day. But it wouldn’t really be Zen to make a contest out of it, would it?

Tony Johnson
Whisper, Catalina 22
San Francisco

Tony — Sailing contentment certainly isn't a contest, and Zen sailing is different for every person and every boat. Find your sailing Zen, and enlightenment is yours.


With regard to the Wanderer's decision to not risk a horse race up the Baja Bash course with Hurricane Dora, I've got some advice. The two most important rules for a skipper are: When in doubt, don't do it. And, when in doubt, do it. These rules have stood by me as loyal friends in the cockpit.

John Boye
Tom Thumb, Havsfidra 25
Brookings, OR

John — Funny, it almost sounds like Zen, but it's not, is it? What you're really saying is that the decision you make isn't nearly as important as that you stick with it once you've made it. It seems like generally good advice, although when taken to the extreme, could come to a bad end.


I just finished reading about the current cost — approximately $1,500/month — for a couple to cruise in Mexico. I thought I would compare that with our cruising for 2½ years from the Bay Area as far south as Costa Rica and back in the mid-'70s. On average it cost us $150/month over that time period, and that included all food, fuel, maintenance and entertainment costs. Of course, there were no marina costs in the '70s because there were no marinas south of San Diego — except for the private Club de Yates Acapulco, which was $100/day back then.

Other considerations were no insurance costs because few cruisers could afford it back then. There were no haulout costs for us, because we'd run our Piver 41 trimaran up on the beach where we'd take advantage of huge tidal swings to do a quick bottom job. Fuel? We griped about the $1/gallon cost in California because diesel was just 16 cents/gallon in Mexico. Beer was 15 cents a bottle.

There were other bargains, too. In El Salvador, they'd repair your boat battery by cutting out a bad cell and installing a new one — for $3. I kept getting my Timex diver's watch repaired every three months or so because the series of $5 charges was cheaper than buying a replacement. When it came to booze, you could buy moonshine that had been locally distilled by the Costa Rican government for $3/gallon — but you had to supply your own bottle. And you had to mark your bottles carefully, because you used the same type of bottle to get your stove alcohol. Since the moonshine smelled worse than the stove alcohol, it was important not to mix the two.

Given that inflation has raised prices by a factor of 10 — and sometimes more — I don't think cruising is any more expensive now than it was back then. Back then, you could buy a decent cruising boat for under $20,000 — it cost us $12,000 to buy our tri — and today you should be able to buy a good cruising boat for under $200,000. I know the cost of extra goodies can really add to the prices of today's boat, but you can still find a decently outfitted boat for $200,000.

For those who weren't around in the '70s, you could get a new car for $3,000, a nice new house for $40,000, and as I mentioned, diesel in Mexico for 16 cents/gallon. Of course, $10,000 was a darn good salary back then, sort of like $100,000 today.

When we returned to the Bay Area in '76, we had plans to get a rental house. If we had rental income of $1,000/month in the late '70s, we figured we could literally live like kings while cruising Mexico and Central America. Well, we ended up getting more houses, a job, and more things to tie us down, so we never did get back to full-time cruising. However, we did take our 45-ft trawler to Cabo for four months in the '80s — and were appalled that we had to pay the Baja panga fishermen $1 for each lobster. Previously, they'd been happy to give us 10 lobsters for a single Playboy.

We later bought a house at Mulege, near Concepcion Bay in Baja, and lived there part time for 15 years. Even though we had an 18-ft panga, it wasn't the same as cruising. We lament those 'old days' when our only navigation gear was a compass, a plastic Davis sextant, the star tables, and those 1889 charts made from the soundings of the USS Ranger. Well, I lament not being able to live those days now, but my wife says, "Are you mad?!"

Thinking that bigger was better, we got a 70-ft motoryacht to cruise the Bahamas and Caribbean a few years ago. But unlike Mexico and Central America, the waters in the Bahamas are seldom 10 feet deep. With a draft of six feet, that really sucked. Because of our draft, there were only two marinas between Miami and Key West that could accommodate us. The only way we could get into one marina in the Turks & Caicos was by churning mud at high tide. We learned our lesson, so if we ever return to the Bahamas, it will be in a vessel drawing less than three feet.

While the costs of cruising are higher now, the amenities south of the border are also much improved. And there sure are more people out cruising. Back in the '70s, there were maybe 20 boats that sailed south of Mexico to Costa Rica to escape hurricane season.

In our opinion, the $1,500/month per couple cost of cruising in Mexico is the best cruising value you'll find for your money.

Jim & Lyn Hall
Cold Duck, Piver 41 Tri, 72-76
Slow Duck, Willard 39, '96 to present
Discovery Bay

Jim and Lyn — Thanks for that entertaining trip down cruising memory lane. Having just done another Baja Bash, and having had to skirt Sacramento Reef at 3 a.m., we have to admit that we don't miss the days of cruising south of the border with just a compass, depthsounder and broken RDF. Thank god for GPS and radar.

While there are some places — such as Southeast Asia — where it's possible to cruise happily for less money than in Mexico, we have to agree with you that Mexico still offers the best value for American cruisers. Seven reasons immediately come to mind: 1) The people of Mexico are as wonderful as ever — and let's face it, are often more pleasant than many people here in the States. 2) A couple can cruise happily in Mexico for well below the official poverty level in the United States. 3) No matter if you're cruising Baja or the mainland, you can totally get away from civilization, or you can avail yourself of the pleasures, such as they are, of city life — including the nearest Costco or Costco-like store. 4) Nature is so much more accessible on a boat in Mexico than in the States. 5) You can now get internet access on your boat near almost every population center — a huge improvement over the 'old days'. 6) Good and inexpensive health and dental care is widely available in Mexico. And 7) If you need to return home to visit family and friends, it's not that long or expensive of a trip.


In the July issue of Latitude, Sightings had an article titled 'Politics As Usual', which was about the prospects of SB 623 — related to copper-based anti-fouling paints — passing. What I found most interesting was the mention of the RBOC’s — Recreational Boaters of California — potential hand in the last drafting of the bill.

I thought I would share the experience the motorcycle industry has had in thinking it could outsmart the lawmakers and bureaucrats by inserting language that would make pending legislation unenforceable or unmanageable — as RBOC seems to have done. The lesson learned was that lawmakers don’t really care what is practical or unpractical in the laws they sign, as implementation is rarely their concern. The bureaucrats just follow the letter of the law regardless of the outcome.

A case in point is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of '08. Some U.S. motorcycle industry lobbyists and their clients felt it could be beneficial to nail Chinese manufacturers of low-cost ATVs by getting these products included in the act — even though it was unlikely that a child would ingest the lead battery terminals and valve stems of an ATV. The intent of the law was to keep toxic toys out of children's mouths, but the U.S. motorcycle industry thought they could use it to keep Chinese ATVs out of the States.

Alas, when it came time to implement the new regulations, logic and reason had no bearing. If there was lead in the product, and it was designed for a child, then the products were verboten. Lawmakers threw up their hands and claimed they could do nothing, that it was up to the Consumer Products Safety Commission to properly implement the new rules.

As for the CPSC, they claimed that they couldn’t interpret the rules; they could only implement the law as passed, and their rules came from a rigid interpretation of the law. So on February 10, 2010, dealerships holding these products in inventory, and manufacturers with inventory, found they had a lot of unsellable items. Since that date, a groundswell of parents and dealers has managed to push back the implementation — but at considerable cost. Almost two years into the implementation of the Act, they are still operating under temporary relief though a permanent resolution is said to be in the works.

A similar situation developed a few years ago when the AQMD mandated annual smog testing for motorcycles in the same manner as is required for automobiles. Unfortunately, no equipment existed for doing the testing as envisioned by the AQMD, and AQMD issued no detailed testing guidelines that could be used to develop a process and methodology.

Based on these and other past experiences, my personal opinion is that if regulators can’t figure out how to implement a new guideline, they take the most brutal and blunt force approach. If SB 623 is instituted as currently proposed, it will be impossible to manage, and they will go to the fall-back "safe alternative," which is to outlaw all anti-fouling paints for recreational vessels, regardless of whether they have been proven to be harmful or not.

By the way, a frequent government out is through the “unless proven not to be harmful” catch-all. This tasty morsel of liability gives fits to manufacturers, distributors, retailers and anyone else in the chain of supply. The risk is that someday in the future, the government will decide that what you did was unsafe, and then you are hit with damages going back in time. It's at this point that many suppliers decide it is in their best interest to pull the plug on their product rather than risk a future that they have no control over.

Richard Craig
Long Beach

Richard — Thanks for the insight.

We attended the Port of San Diego-sponsored Eco-Friendly Hull Paint Expo at Driscoll's Boatyard in San Diego in early August, and spoke to representatives for all the non-toxic bottom paints. The gist we got from them is that while all are making progress with their products, there is still no comparably priced non-toxic bottom coating that can compare with the efficacy of the toxic paints. We're keeping our fingers crossed that there will be rapid progress — and/or that legislators and bureaucrats use common sense — as time goes on.


Larry Toenjes, 74, of Houston, set sail from Galveston, Texas, on April 22 aboard his Freya 39 Liberty bound for the southeastern Med to do what the U.S. Government has long failed to do — commemorate the lives of 34 American servicemen who were killed by Israeli forces aboard the USS Liberty during the Six Day War in '67. He was accompanied as far as Malta by frequent cruising crew Joe and Sherrie Wagner of an Ingleside, Texas-based Westerly 34.

Now alone in Malta, Toenjes still has 1,200 miles to go before he reaches the spot 25 miles off the coast of Egypt where the USS Liberty, an electronic surveillance ship, came under attack. The ship had been monitoring transmissions in international waters off the coast of Egypt when she was attacked. Larry plans to hold a memorial service at that location.

After first extensively reconnoitering the well-marked USS Liberty, Israeli air and sea forces suddenly began a two-hour assault, shelling, napalming and torpedoing the ship. As a result, more than 200 of the ship's crew were either injured or killed. In addition, lifeboats were shot up and stretcher-bearers machine-gunned.

A crewmember — later presented with the Silver Star for bravery — managed to repair the one antenna the Israelis had not knocked out in the first minutes, so the ship was able to send out a mayday that was picked up by two nearby U.S. aircraft carriers. Two rescue flights were dispatched to the USS Liberty — but both were recalled by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and President Lyndon Baines Johnson. President Johnson later said that he didn’t want “our ally to be embarrassed.”

Toenjes first learned about the incident eight years ago, and was amazed at the courage exhibited by the USS Liberty's crew. In fact, USS Liberty is the most decorated ship since WWII, and may be the most decorated ship for a single attack in U.S. history. Her captain was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Outraged at the abandonment of these men by the U.S. government, both at the time of the incident and since, Toenjes decided to do something about it. He thus began plans for the voyage and the memorial ceremony. As his wife, I am proud, supportive — and extremely worried. For not only has my husband faced the dangers of an ocean crossing — it took 78 days to cross the Atlantic to Lagos, Portugal, via Florida, Bermuda and the Azores — but he still has to finish crossing the Med, and he also faces possible danger from Israel.

Toenjes and USS Liberty veterans have requested that the U.S. government send a representative to participate in honoring the fallen, but have been turned down. They’ve also asked the government to demand that Israel promise not to attack Toenjes' sailboat. Since American taxpayers give Israel over $8 million per day, this seems a reasonable request. Once again, however, it looks as if an American vessel is going to be abandoned by the U.S. government, as they've turned him down cold.

Jean Garst
Houston, Texas

Readers — Upon receiving Jean's letter, we had an interesting telephone conversation with her about her husband Larry, who she reports is in excellent health. She says that he grew up in Woodland, Washington, where in addition to operating a family sawmill, Larry's father built a series of 50- to 60-ft tuna boats out of wood. His father would fish each one for a couple of years, sell it, then build another boat. Having learned boatbuilding skills from his father, Larry later built two boats of his own. One of them, a Charles Miller design, was built in Illinois and Texas in '83, and outfitted with a lot of gear salvaged from boats damaged by Alicia, the hurricane that devastated the Texas coast in August of '83. Larry and Jean cruised that small boat all over the Gulf of Mexico, including several trips to both Mexico and Key West.

Toenjes got his bachelor and masters degrees from UC Berkeley in the mid-'60s, back when Mario Savio was encouraging students to throw their "bodies into the gears and levers of the University." After attending the Coast Guard Academy and serving in the Faroe Islands, Toenjes got his Ph.D. in economics from Southern Illinois University. A quantitative economist, he held a number of positions, including that of research professor at the University of Houston, until his retirement.

In '03, Larry sailed his Rafiki 35 Galatea — with the Wagners as crew — through the Panama Canal, over to Hawaii, up to Seattle, and farther up to Glacier Bay, Alaska. He sold the boat in Canada.

If Toenjes' cause is one that stirs you — he and Jean also traveled to Washington to march with 100,000 others to protest the start of the Iraq War — you could help by crewing with him from Malta to the site of the attack on the USS Liberty. Or she suggests that you can contact your Congressperson to object to the fact that the USS Liberty incident is the only one of its sort in the history of the United States that has never been investigated by Congress. Toenjes, by the way, has the full support of the USS Liberty Survivor's Association. You might also want to read the Wikipedia summary of the USS Liberty incident, a summary that lends credence to the suspicion that wars tend to have unintended tragic consequences.

As a fellow habitue of UC Berkeley in the days of that rabble-rouser Mario Savio, and someone who previously owned a Freya 39, and one who doesn't approve of opaque governing, we wish Toenjes success in his quixotic mission. For further information, email Jean Garst.


I just bought a Cal Cruising 36 in Los Angeles and I intend to sail it upto San Francisco soon. I've been reviewing all the options, and I think the best way is for us to harbor hop up the coast. I have about two weeks to make the trip, so I'm assuming that should give me plenty of time to wait for good weather windows.

I know that some sailors recommend going offshore and basically making one big tack out and back to San Francisco, so I'd like your opinion of which method you would choose — and also what time of year would be best to make the trip. I would like to start this trip in mid-September, but could delay it if it would give me a better chance at nice weather. I have a few offshore miles under my keel, including five trips down the coast and one Ha-Ha, so I'm not a complete novice.

James Lathe
No Name Yet, Cal Cruising 36

James — Congratulations on your new boat! The 'offshore' or clipper ship route only makes sense if you're starting from Cabo or farther south, because you have to sail 600 miles or so west — or even south of west — before you get to flop back onto the other tack that will hopefully allow you to lay San Francisco.

The other consideration is that your Cal is a new-to-you boat, and hundreds of miles offshore is not the place to learn about her idiosyncrasies and possible shortcomings.

The good news is that September and October tend to be two of the best months to make your way north to San Francisco. Getting WNW from L.A. to Cojo, the beautiful anchorage in the lee of Pt. Conception, shouldn't be much of a problem. You just hang there until the coast is clear for the 150 or so miles up to Monterey, after which most of any hard stuff should be behind you. Good luck!


More than 3½ years after doing the '07 Ha-Ha, we and our Gulfstar 50 Tropical Dance have finally made it back to the States — although on the East Coast. Having done 26,000 miles cruising in Mexico and the Caribbean, we were surprised that you didn't mention the difference in the water in each location when making your comparison in August's 'The Sea of Cortez or the Caribbean' article. The water is so different that we believe it has to be factored in.

If you want warm water, you have to pick the Caribbean. Personally speaking, I only want to jump into the water if it's warmer than 84 degrees. And that's hard to find in the Pacific. In the Caribbean, on the other hand, the water is always in the mid- to upper 80s.

The clarity of the water, and the amount of coral, are two other factors where Mexico can't compare with the Caribbean. I've got a photo of Reylyn free-diving in Roatan that shows the amazing visibility. And we've taken hundreds of thousands of photos of beautiful underwater reef life we never would have seen along the Pacific Coast.

On the other hand, the fishing is great in Mexico and sucks in the Caribbean. If we wanted fish for dinner when cruising on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, all we had to do was put a hook in the water while underway, and we'd soon be dining on either tuna or mahi. (We never fish while at anchor.) But the fishing is so bad in the Caribbean that we simply put the gear away. And believe me, we tried. There just isn't much there. At least nothing to compare to the Pacific.

We loved Mexico and the Pacific Coast. We loved the Caribbean. But from the surface of the water down, they are completely different.

Dan Yarussi
Tropical Dance, Gulfstar 50
San Clemente / Currently in Brunswick, Georgia

Dan — We agree with you that the waters of the Pacific Coast of Mexico and the Caribbean are completely different. When it comes to water clarity and coral, you're right, the Caribbean has it all over the Pacific Coast of Mexico. You're also right that fishing in the Caribbean can't hold a candle to that of Mexico — at least until you get off the continental shelf, which unfortunately is often 20 to 40 miles to windward.

It's with regard to water temperatures that we're going to split a few hairs with you. The Pacific Coast of Mexico extends from 15°N to 33°N, a north-south distance of 1,100 miles. The Caribbean Sea extends from about 9°N to about 18°N, a north-south distance of about 630 miles. If you're at the same latitude in the Pacific and the Caribbean — i.e. Zihua and St. Croix — the water temperature is going to be pretty much the same. But if you're somewhere in the Pacific that's way farther north than in the Caribbean, yeah, the water is going to be significantly cooler.

But "mid- to upper-80s" in the Caribbean? We've spent a lot of time in the Caribbean in the winter and spring high seasons, and cool water wimps that we've become, we're sure it's never been over 81° at that time of year. Having just spent July on Banderas Bay, we know what 80° degree water feels like — i.e. you can stay in for hours and not feel the least bit cool — and St. Barth water isn't that warm, even in the spring.

If we had to decide where to go based solely on the quality of the water, we'd easily chose the Caribbean. But as you know, there are so many factors that make a cruising area great. As you say, it's hard not to love both Mexico and the Caribbean, which is why we're so incredibly lucky to be able to work in each location for half of each winter.


I want to thank the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca for having me aboard Profligate for the trip from Cabo to Banderas Bay last fall, and for letting me stay on her on the hook at Punta Mita. Having crewed on Profligate opened many doors for me. Once I told people, they instantly trusted me. But I like to think my personality had a little to do with it, too.

As you know, Profligate was the first boat I sailed on, and after that experience I just couldn't get enough. I crewed on another boat in the Banderas Bay Blast, then for a month I volunteered on a couple of boats that daysailed out of Puerto Vallarta. I next crewed on a Skye 51 heading south, although that didn't work out. So I backpacked all over Mexico before ending up getting on the LaFitte 44 Maya at Marina Chahue in Huatulco. This boat, a Ha-Ha vet, took me as far south as Marina Papagayo in Costa Rica, making various stops in Salvador and Nicaragua along the way.

Humorously, Dustin Houseknecht — who also crewed on Profligate for the trip from Cabo to Banderas Bay, and stayed on her for another month or two — was crewing on another boat, Maja, covering the same ground as I was. Our two boats, Maja and Maya, actually buddyboated.

I later boat-sat for a six weeks in Bocas del Toro, Panama. From there, I took weekend trips to Escudo de Veraguas, Bluefields, Bastimentos and Zapatillas. It was all like living the dream. In fact, I think I'm still dreaming.

I actually learned the most and had the most fun on a Nordhaven 55, the owners of which I met when they needed linehandlers to go through the Panama Canal. I joined their crew and did watch-standing, cooking, cleaning, line-handling, anchor-handling — and yes, even navigation! We crossed the Canal, cruised to San Blas, Jamaica, the Bahamas and Florida. We also made contacts with racers during this time, especially in Jamaica, so we went out sailing on numerous occasions.

I'm back in London now, but I'm thinking that I may start cruising again next year — but this time in a paying position. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. I have a big student debt that I need to clear, and think that there is always great earning potential for the right candidate in the boating world. At the same time, it would be great to earn money where I'm most happy, which is at sea!

Anna Mascaro Fredriksson

Anna — Great to hear from you! And my, didn't you get around to see a lot of the world in a short time? Well done.

The global economy being what it is, paying crew positions aren't as common as they used to be, but there are always openings for the better candidates. The single biggest event in the Atlantic/Caribbean is the ARC or Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, which starts from your old stomping grounds of the Canary Islands in late November. All 225 boat slots are filled every year, so you can imagine the crowd that gathers in Las Palmas about three weeks before the start of the event. We're not sure if there will be any paying positions, but there is no better place for you to begin networking for the Caribbean. And the sail across the Atlantic — nearly 3,000 miles — is usually one of the sweetest in the world.

Once you get to the Caribbean, we suggest you migrate toward the big yachting centers of St. Martin and Antigua to see if you can catch on with a boat in either of those places. Just before Christmas — right after the ARC — is when most crews are finalized for the charter season. Those two places — English Harbor and Simpson Bay Lagoon, to be precise — are the big centers for paid crew positions, and they've got crew bunkhouses and other crew services well-established.

If you do make it to the Caribbean this winter, there are three events you certainly don't want to miss: The St. Barth Bucket (March 22-25), the Voiles de St. Barth (April 2-7), and the Antigua Classic Regatta (April 19-24). Those are tremendous opportunities for networking in the sailing world, not only because you'll meet many of the core people in the industry, but also because it's near the end of the season, and many boats need new crew to head for the Northeast, the Med or Panama. If you do all three events, we can assure you that by the end of the Classic you'll know just about everyone.

Some readers may be interested in how Anna got on Profligate. She'd been 'couch surfing' in San Jose del Cabo when last year's Ha-Ha fleet arrived in Cabo, so she came down to the docks and started inquiring about crew positions. We'd already picked up two young guys — Dustin Houseknecht and George Fuerst, both of whom had done the Ha-Ha — for the trip to Banderas Bay, so we needed a little estrogen, and signed on Anna, too.

One of the most entertaining aspects of cruising with folks in their 20s is following their various romances. For example, Dustin and George met two visiting Italian girls on the beach in Punta Mita, and two relationships bloomed. When the girls left, arrangements were being made for "our boys" to visit the girls in Rome later in the spring. We wonder whatever happened to all that.


I wanted to thank you for putting our discussion about Kendall 32s in the Changes section of Latitude. It was really nice of you. The only — funny — problem now is that every Westsail 32 owner in California is trying to sell their boat to a "rich rock star." Alas, I'm far from rich.

But I did learn about a Westsail that I've become interested in, so hopefully I can sell my Vancouver 25 soon. In fact, I'm going to take out a Classy Classified for her today.

Jonny Kaplan
Opah, Vancouver 25
Marina del Rey


After circumnavigating — and being listed on Latitude's Circumnavigator's List — and participating in the '09 Singlehanded TransPac, I've done about all I want with my Islander 36 Pakele. Having spent the last three years refurbishing her, I find that it's time to move on to other boating activities.

I know that Latitude played a role in the sale of the Islander 36 Geja in the Med, and thought you might mention something in the magazine about my plans to sell my boat.

Gary Gould
Pakele, Islander 36
San Diego

Gary — We're happy to give anyone who has done a circumnavigation a free mention that their boat is for sale. You obviously know your boat well, so interested people can contact you by email.


As an aerospace marine engineer — recently retired — and an avid reader of Latitude for years, I would always open my Latitude straight to the exploits of Max Ebb and Lee Helm. In reference to Lee Helm’s comment in the July issue regarding the incident of the AC45 pitchpoling on the Bay. I concur with her assessment that the majority of forces are hydrodynamic, and that the conventional bow restoring-force is hydrostatic. But I think it goes beyond this point to that of the 'reverse bow' being incorporated on sailboat hulls.

The reverse bow has a stem line that slopes aft rather than forward, as on older catamarans, and rather than the plumb (vertical) bow on the catamarans of the last few decades. The reverse bow essentially has a negative reserve buoyancy to intentionally allow the bow to pierce the waves. The reverse bow is a trend that started in power catamarans Down Under with companies such as Incat, Incat-Crowther, and Austal in ships, and with Gold Coast Yachts for smaller power catamarans in the Caribbean.

However, power catamarans are completely different beasts than sailing catamarans. As the wave-piercing bow plows into a wave, the added resistance below the vessel’s center of gravity adds a bow-down pitching moment. However, on a power catamaran, the waterjet or propeller thrust line is either at the same depth or even deeper, and adds a compensating pitch up or pitch neutralizing moment. Now look at the case of a sailboat, where the thrust of the sail is high above the deck, generating a very large bow-down pitch moment. As Lee Helm notes, it's pitchpole city!

Secondly, her comment that the conventional bow restoring force is hydrostatic is not completely true. On high-speed vessels, the flare of the bow adds significant hydrodynamic lift when pushed into a wave. Remember when the original windsurfer came out, the board was relatively flat for its entire length. We used to wrap the bow in black garbage bags, and prop it on a chair in the sun with added weights on the deck. The added 'kick' warped into the bow kept the windsurfer from wanting to submarine in a manner similar to the AC45s.

It’s my opinion that the restoring forces of bow flare need to be brought back in the AC72 design. I’d be interested in Lee Helm’s thoughts, or perhaps those of the design teams of the AC72s. I’m sure that they read Latitude 38!

Steve Bailey
Los Gatos

Steve — Very interesting, and very clearly explained.


If not for my personal experience after last year's Blue Angels' Fleet Week performance, I would have found it difficult to believe Bill Barton's complaint about outrageous Homeland Security behavior — as recounted in his August issue letter titled 'Inappropriate Coast Guard Action'.

In my case, several sailboats were sailing south along the Cityfront, just past Fort Mason. We were probably an eighth of a mile off the shoreline doing about four knots. As we passed the area where some Navy ships were docked, one of the small Coast Guard gunboats swept in between us and the ships, and started doing tight donuts at high speed. All the while their sirens were blaring and their lights flashing, and crew screamed into their hailer: "Move to port, move to port immediately!"

We all gladly complied as quickly as we could at four knots.

I understand what the Coast Guard was doing and why they were doing it. However, if they had simply parked or idled their small boat between our boats and the Navy vessels, instead of hot-dogging, and calmly and professionally given the order to move away, they would have achieved the same result without looking like complete idiots!

However, when you have a .50 caliber machine gun pointed at your face, as Mr. Barton reports happened to him, it's no laughing matter. Even if Mr. Barton was mistaken and the cargo ship that was being protected was just a mile away instead of two miles away, there was obviously no imminent threat from a day-racing sailboat flying a spinnaker. Sure, a sailboat loaded with enough explosives could be a weapon of mass destruction. However, given their inherent lack of speed and maneuverability, I doubt sailboats would be the delivery vessel of choice for terrorists.

Finally, a mile or two away is light years away on a sailboat, even if the ship was standing still. The intensity of the Coast Guard's approach was completely unnecessary and inappropriate. They could have calmly approached Mr. Barton's boat and said "Skipper, please be sure to avoid that cargo ship by at least 1,000 feet" — or whatever distance they thought was appropriate.

I suggest the Coast Guard work on training their cadets to win the hearts and minds of the taxpayers who support the Department of Homeland Security, instead of unnecessarily alienating them. Oh, and they might want to cut back on the Red Bull, too!

Bill Demeter
San Francisco


I read Bill Barton's account of being buzzed and threatened by the Coast Guard with great interest because yesterday I noticed for the first time that the Coast Guard had someone manning the .50 caliber gun on the bow of a boat patrolling the Alameda Estuary.

Since 9/11, we have seen Homeland Security dollars squandered on a variety of police and military toys, and now insult joins injury. We should not tolerate threats — implied or overt — embodied by a Coastie's hands touching the grips of those guns. We mariners are using the inland waterways of the country most of us grew up in, and there is no reason for the Coast Guard to treat us like criminals or hostile combatants. Please, Latitude readers, make some noise about this. If nothing else, our Congressional representatives should hear that we do not like how the Coast Guard is treating us.

Brian Ebert
Absolute Saidee (ex-Absolute 80), Wylie 33, Crew

Brian — For the record, it's Congress who approved Homeland Security, oversees Homeland Security, and funds Homeland Security. We suspect complaining to Congress would be like complaining to a wall.


If you've sailed in the Delta much, you may have come across the USS Black Hawk, a government vessel that comes in to port at Port Chicago from time to time. She must have some very important stuff onboard to warrant four Coast Guard gunboats being on patrol when she's docked.

While crewing on Sam Dameron’s Hunter 30 Epiphany in last year's South Tower Race, we picked up a couple of blue lights while we were going by the Black Hawk. We were then hailed on the radio, told that we were too close to the ship, and instructed to bear away to the required distance of 500 yards.

This may not seem like much of a task, but when it's after dark, you're already tired, and you're not even halfway done with an overnight race, it can be a little unnerving. Particularly since you know the .50 caliber guns are tracking you even in the dark. As soon as we got far enough away from the ships, the patrol boats went back to their stations, and that was it.

I can feel for anybody who has stared down the barrel of a .50 caliber gun, but I have to say that at least the Coast Guard doesn't play favorites. If you get close to the ship, you'll have a very big weapon pointed your way. Don’t get butt-hurt and think things like 'What a waste of taxpayer money' or 'Do I really look like a terrorist?' Just move along as they ask.

I'm sorry to say that I didn't get to see the Black Hawk while on this year's South Tower Race — nor did I get to see the gunboats, the 'Ghost Fleet', or even the Golden Gate Bridge. What I did get to see — and experience firsthand and up close — was the dismasting of the sailboat that I was on. I'm sure glad that I've gotten that off my list of things to experience.

Dan Dallas
Sir Leansalot, Hunter 40, Crew
Stockton Sailing Club

Readers — Based on these and similar letters we have received about hands on .50 caliber guns, our readership isn't very happy with the way Homeland Security is being administered.

And as much as we dislike being skeptical once again, does anyone really believe the Homeland Security measures are anything but a wildly expensive 'feel good' fool's errand? If even a half-assed terrorist organization wanted to bring this country to its financial ankles — as opposed to its financial knees, where it currently rests — it wouldn't be hard. They'd just need 100 virgin-hungry suicidal maniacs, of which there seems to be an endless supply, plus a few homemade bombs — directions for which can be found on the internet — plus some automatic weapons purchased at local gun shows.

If they were so inclined, 15 such terrorists could set off backpack bombs at the 15 biggest subway stations in New York, 15 of them could set off backpack bombs at the biggest subway stations in Boston, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, 20 of them could create 'carmageddons' by bringing down the 20 most trafficked freeway overpasses in our 10 largest cities, and 50 more could station themselves with AK-47s at the end of runways at our busiest airports. Heck, if you're standing in the Hertz parking lot at LAX or on the top floor of the parking garage at Laurel and Kettner in San Diego, you're so close to the landing passenger jets you could probably bring one down with a Super Soaker.

The Port of Long Beach has spent well over $1 million a month since '02 for what is supposed to be additional security. But has it really done any good? After all, we all know that people and drugs are being smuggled across the border and/or up the coast in pangas from Mexico with impunity. It's as if we've got tons of security guards watching the front door and the garage door of our house, but nobody watching the windows or the back door. Real effective.

We realize providing security for the United States is a very difficult — let's face it, impossible — problem to solve. But does anybody really think that the current Homeland Security measures have any effect other than pissing off law-abiding citizens?


The August letter inquiring about having a boat trucked back to the States from La Paz or Cabo brings back memories of when we did it. So the answer to the question of whether it can be done is that it's been done at least once that we know about.

It happened after our Pearson 385 Daydreams was damaged when Hurricane Marty swept through La Paz in September of '03. We were left with some tough decisions after the hurricane, as we had a great boat that needed to be repaired, but our insurance company was denying our claim. So should we have her repaired in Mexico, or bring her home where I could find the cheapest labor — me! — to repair her? We decided to truck the boat home to Nevada City from La Paz.

It was a crazy idea, but I found just the right guy — Jim, who became my new best friend — to do the job. All I had to do was get a trailer to La Paz, and Jim would tow her home. I found the trailer in the Latitude Classy Classifieds, and the quest was on. I modified the trailer to fit our Pearson 385 — which has an 11-ft beam — then towed it to La Paz. Once we arrived, we loaded the boat and towed it to a friend's yard, where we made final preparations for the long trek up Baja.

I would pilot for Jim and his semi as we made our way through all the military checkpoints and searches. But it turned out not to be hard, as Jim had made the trip over 60 times with lots of heavy equipment, so he knew everyone. We completed the trip home in four days, so not only did we pull it off, we did it in what seemed to be record time.

Once Daydream was home, it took me about a year to rebuild her. As a result, we were ready in time for the '05 Ha-Ha and several more seasons in Mexico.

Would I trailer the boat home again and repair her myself? No way! But we did get the last laugh, as our lawyer kicked the insurance company's ass. We got all our money, plus the recovery costs, plus our attorney's fees. Our guy whomped the insurance company so badly that they even waived our deductible!

A special thanks to Latitude for keeping our cruising dreams alive. We're still cruising, although just closer to home for now.

Joe, Melinda, Joseph & Jacque Day
Daydreams, Pearson 385
Nevada City

Readers — It turns out that we gave everybody incorrect information last month when we reported that you can no longer have your boat trucked back to the States from Cabo, La Paz, Puerto Escondido or San Carlos. You can, although there are some restrictions.

According to Daniel Steadley of the Charleston-based Big Dog Marine, he's taken over 200 boats — mostly power — up or down the Baja Peninsula. However, because the TransPeninsular Highway is a narrow two-lane road, he and others are limited to trucking boats that weigh less than 18,000 lbs, are no taller on the trailer than 13½ feet — and here's the killer — don't have a beam of more than 11 feet. He says he can actually be sneaky and get away with a 12-ft beam, but that's the absolute limit. The charge is $6/mile, and doesn't include the yard costs at both ends.

Wider boats have to be trucked up from San Carlos, which has a four-lane highway to the border. A couple of years ago Kiki Grossman of Marina Seca, which had been the main provider, told us that they were selling their trailer and going out of that business. It turns out they had a change of heart a few months later, and have been doing it again for the last several years. However, Jesus, who is in charge of the service, says business has been slow, as they've only delivered about 20 boats north so far this year. They have the capacity to do two a week.

Marina Seca can truck boats up to 30,000 lbs, with a height on a trailer of 15 feet, and a beam of up to 14 feet. The service is a little complicated in that they use another company's truck and their own hydraulic trailer to take a boat to the border, where another company trucks the boat to nearby Tucson, where yet another truck and trailer will take the boat to her final stateside destination. Jesus said they recently had a 39-ft by 12-ft boat trucked from San Carlos to San Francisco for $7,800, not counting the yard fees at the destination. Had the boat been wider than 12 feet, they would have had to pay an additional $1,000 for a pilot car in California. They also shipped a 44-ft by 14-ft boat from San Carlos to Seattle for $10,700, not counting the yard bills in Seattle.


When I was young, I attended the Merchant Naval Academy in Amsterdam, and during the holidays worked in my grandfather's shipyard. It was a small yard with about 10 employees. During coffee time, all the workers would gather around a long table, while my grandmother poured the coffee. Grandpa always sat at the head of the table.

On one of those occasions when I was working in the yard and had joined the team for a cup of brew, I suddenly heard my grandfather say, "I have been thinking about those plastic boats, and maybe we should build a couple." His statement was met with dead silence. Everyone thought the old man had gone crazy. Nevertheless, his yard built two fiberglass sailboats, both of them 38-ft Sparkman & Stephens designs. One of them was launched in '52 and was christened Josephine after one of my aunts.

About eight years ago, I was meeting a friend on Hog Island, which is just off Grenada in the West Indies. While I was waiting, I looked at the boats anchored in the bay. One of them looked so familiar that I borrowed — all right, I snatched — a dinghy that was lying on the beach to go out to the boat for a closer look. Sure enough, she was Josephine! She appeared to be in perfect cruising trim. The owners were not onboard, probably having gone to shore to provision. I asked around, but no one had seen the boat before, so obviously she had recently arrived from, well, who knows where? Josephine was about 51 years old at the time and still going strong.

Then a week ago, I had another surprise. I received an email from a friend who said that he had just spotted Josephine in Hawaii! Isn’t that amazing? After 59 years, she's still cruising the world!

This makes me muse about fiberglass boats. The rage really didn't start until the early '70s, when Catalinas, Columbias and Cals — to name a few — started to roll off the assembly line. In the time it would take a medium-sized yard to build a steel or wood boat, each of these big companies could produce dozens of fiberglass boats. This completely changed yacht ownership, as suddenly it became affordable for those with moderate incomes, not just the wealthy.

Wood eventually rots and decomposes, steel rusts and can be recycled, but fiberglass seems to last forever. At first it was believed that fiberglass would eventually melt, or turn into powder, or that osmosis blisters would make the boat sink. None of those predictions has turned out to be true. Having been a marine surveyor for some 42 years, I have witnessed this to be a fact. By comparison, how many cars built in the '70s do we see on the road? Except for the odd one categorized as a collectible or antique, virtually none. Yet, look in the marinas, in the bays, and on the water, which are full of fiberglass sailboats built during those years.

Someday, when the earth is completely destroyed and mankind is part of history, those fiberglass boats will still be around, waiting patiently for the next intelligent species to install new machinery and rigging.

Due to the present day economy, the values of many used boats have fallen at an alarming rate. This phenomenon has been accelerated by high fuel prices and expensive moorage rates. But prices are also down because of an ever increasing inventory that exceeds demand. Marinas are already packed, and becoming more crowded as more boats keep rolling off the assembly line. Combine this with the fact that the demographics have changed. Most boats are owned by the Baby Boomers who are reaching an age where sailing no longer suits their lifestyle as well as it once did. And the newer generation is different, as they are not as interested in boating as their parents were. They are into running and cycling and, not to forget, pushing buttons on their iPads and other computer gadgets. The result of all these factors is that we are now getting to the point when there are more boats than people who want boats.

Obviously, mass production will have to come to an end. No doubt, one-offs and mega yachts will continue to be built, but the invention of fiberglass, while successful in the beginning, will soon turn out to be a curse for a large sector of the boat building industry. At least that's the way I see it.

Jan de Groot
Langley, B.C.

Jan — Actually, the first large fiberglass production sailboats in the United States were the 41-ft Phil Rhodes-designed Bounty IIs, which were built in the Bounty Building in Sausalito in the late '50s. The really big production yards were ripping by the mid- to late '60s.

Like all well-built fiberglass boats, those Bountys are still going strong. One beauty, Red Witch, is entered in this year's Ha-Ha, another that had spent a month on the bottom courtesy of Hurricane Marilyn did Antigua Sailing Week this year, and while looking at some photos of Rebak Marina in Malaysia the other day, there was the Bounty II Linda in the foreground. Some of the Bounty IIs were even built with fiberglass masts that are still in use.

We think your analysis of the boat market is reasonably accurate. Because so few of the fiberglass boats became obsolete, the supply has just kept growing — even though the big production yards mostly disappeared by the early '80s. That, combined with today's rotten economy and jobs market, means there are great bargains on sailboats. The old ones can't touch newer ones for performance, interior space, and conveniences, but they sure can be had at bargain prices. And so you see some young people going cruising on boats that cost less than cheap used cars.

So whatever happened to grandpa's yard?


I want to thank the Wanderer for having three boats. It makes my having two boats somewhat acceptable to my family and friends, who think I'm weird to have one boat and out of my mind to have two.

But hey, the Islander 36 is my Bay Area condo in wonderful Alameda, a great place to stay when Nana babysits the grandchildren or we decide to partake of the Bay area 'cultcha'. It also gives us a break from the Central Valley heat — although we are liking our new repo house with its nice swimming pool. Plus, the Islander 36 is a great sailing boat that we love to sail on the always-exciting San Francisco Bay.

Early each October we head off to Harmony, our Islander Freeport 40, which is presently on the hard — along with 600 other sailboats -— at Marina Seca, San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico. We'll throw on some bottom paint and splash, then slowly work our way down the Sea of Cortez in what are usually perfect cruising conditions, as the Northers haven't started to blow and the water is still plenty warm. We end up at Tenacatita/Barra de Navidad on the mainland, where we spend the winter on our boat. Our kids and grandchildren are already making plans to come down to visit this year.

We — the lovely Miss Virginia Gleser, First Lady of Tenacatita Bay, and I — are looking forward to seeing everybody who comes south, and we'll save a place for the Wanderer at Tenacatita.

Robert Gleser, The Mayor of Tenacatita
Honey, Islander 36, Alameda
Harmony, Islander Freeport 40, San Carlos, Mexico

Robert — We think you make us sound a little bit more profligate, ahem, than we really are. For example, the Surfin' 63 cat is not only owned by Latitude 38, she's also been the greatest editorial tool ever. In addition to being instrumental in starting all kinds of charity and other events from the Zihua Sailfest to the Banderas Bay Blast to the Revived Sea of Cortez Sailing Week, she's been the mothership to more than a dozen Ha-Ha's, has taken thousands of people out sailing for free, and has been on the scene for countless stories.

Although not currently registered that way, the Olson 30 La Gamelle is soon — if all goes to plan — to be owned by the La Gamelle Syndicate of four in St. Barth. At just over $1,000 per share, she's been — as we've reported — quite the bargain.

The publisher of Latitude does personally own the Leopard 45 'ti Profligate in the Caribbean — but what a pleasant financial surprise she's been! In the six years we've owned her, we've enjoyed a total of nearly 12 working months on her in the Caribbean during the high season — which has a retail value of more than $250,000 — yet after all the maintenance, fees, repairs, and the folks at BVI Yacht Charters having done a great job of taking care of absolutely everything to do with her, we're still in the black. Mind you, this does not include the initial cost of the boat.

The way we see it, both of the cats have earned and continue to earn their own way, and our share of the Olson should be minimal.

People have different priorities in life. For a long time ours was having a moderately nice home in a good school district to give our kids a decent start. Now that they've moved on, it's all about adventures and friends in many different parts of the world as opposed to 'thing-things'. Like Doña de Mallorca, we couldn't care less about cars — both of ours have more than 150,000 miles — furniture, jewelry, clothes, fine dining, expensive wines, tickets to sporting events or any of that kind of stuff. A sailboat in the tropics, a surfboard, a small motorcycle, high-speed internet access, and a huge variety of friends in all the different places we visit — if we've got those, we're happier than if we were staying at the Four Seasons, riding in limos, and eating at the most pretentious restaurants.


Holly and I were excited to read the article 'The Sea of Cortez or the Caribbean? — that you created based on our inquiry about cruising on a Catalina 34, and whether to do it in Mexico, the Caribbean — or both! Your response has made us more motivated than ever to sort ourselves out and get going.

Holly seems to like Option 3 — get a bigger boat and do both the Caribbean and Mexico. Since the idea of getting a bigger boat appeals to her, I guess we'll start poking around to see what we can find. A larger boat might mean a taller mast, of course, and I'm not sure if you can tell from the attached photo or not, but Holly wasn't exactly enjoying being in the bosun's chair working on the radar on the mast of our Catalina. But she's a real trouper, and got everything wired the way it needed to be wired.

A bigger boat would also mean putting off cruising for at least another year while we try to earn enough capital to buy a boat and have money for cruising — which is a whole other story. This being the case, we've both been following the 'cost of cruising' articles and letters closely.

Mike Sanderson
Southern Cross, Catalina 34
San Diego

Mike — Life is all about choices, isn't it? One the one hand, you've got the school of thought that says 'go with what you've got now', while others would tell you that even a slightly larger and more suitable boat would dramatically increase your cruising pleasure.

For what it's worth, we recently had a phone conversation with Greg Dorland of the Tahoe-based Catana 52 Escapade who, having sailed extensively in the Caribbean and Mexico, said, "Your August article about Mexico versus the Caribbean was spot on, with the differences in the people, the wind conditions and so forth. They're both great places to cruise, but very different."

Good luck!



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