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October 2011

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In the September issue, politically correct Charles Taylor urged Latitude readers to protest the San Francisco visit of Esmeralda, the Chilean tallship/ambassador, because years ago it had been used as a prison and torture ship.

Taylor might then also want to protest the next time Eagle, the 295-ft barque that is the training ship for the U.S. Coast Guard, plans to visit San Francisco. After all, she was launched in '36 as Horst Wessel, a Nazi Kriegsmarine training ship.

Ron Geick
Scanmar International

Ron — We had no idea, but you're absolutely correct. Research shows that both Adolph Hitler and Rudolph Hess, his longtime Nazi Party deputy, attended the launching. Horst Wessel was named after a party loyalist who was assassinated in Berlin and made into a Nazi martyr. Prior to his death, Wessel composed The Flag on High, known as the Horst Wessel Lied, which became the anthem of the Nazi Party. Everyone was required to give the 'Hitler salute' during the singing of the first and fourth verses of the song, which was played endlessly. The anthem has been banned in Germany and Austria since '45, so both Apple and Amazon got into trouble earlier this year for making it available to German customers. This has been your Tall Ship Minute for this month.


Based on letters from environmental groups such as the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, and environmental agencies such as the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), it's obvious to me that not everyone is excited about the America's Cup coming to San Francisco Bay.

Dave Benjamin
Island Planet Sails

Dave — While almost all the groups and agencies are careful to say that they "most definitely want the America's Cup to come to San Francisco Bay", they also make it clear they only want it to come to the Bay on their terms. This is standard operating procedure for all special interest groups. Whenever there is a major event — the Super Bowl, the World Cup, the Olympics — various special interest groups and government agencies see an opportunity to not only press their agendas — which may or may not be altruistic — but also to raise their profiles and solicit money from the public. Yes, everyone wants a piece of the action. Whether the perceived collective 'costs' exceed what the event management is willing to cough up determines whether or not the event actually takes place in a particular venue.

The America's Cup has travelled a long way down the road to taking place in San Francisco in '13, but thanks to special interest groups and government agencies, we figure there is still a 25% chance that the Finals will be held elsewhere. Fun-loving Newport, Rhode Island, where there is a long America's Cup history, where people don't have a problem with big boats and rich people, and where the local government really wants the economic jolt the event would bring, stands at the top of the list of alternative sites.


While taking pics of a freighter passing by at Martinez, I had the opportunity to watch 50 Delta Doo Dah boats sail up the Delta. The high point was when the Union Pacific Railroad bridge raised to 135 feet to let Oli Kai and other boats go beneath. It was a good moment.

Stan Burton
Martinez YC


I saw the September 7 'Lectronic report on the history of late season hurricanes in Mexico. It reminded me of when we encountered a small Mexican hurricane aboard a Yankee 38 during the '77 Long Beach to La Paz Race. I think it was later than the one on your named storm list for '77. Maybe it didn't even have a name because it wasn't forecast.

Our first warning was on the evening radio check-in when we were told that fishing boats were all running for shelter at Cabo. We were south of Mag Bay at that time. Around 7 p.m. we noticed the swell beginning to reverse itself. We were running with a chute in light air, but then the swell started to come toward us.

By 9 p.m., we had 60 knots of wind on the nose. The wind was so warm that we stood watch wearing swim trunks and lifejackets with harnesses. The windspeed pegged at 60 all night, and didn't begin to drop until the morning. By noon there was no wind at all.

Most of the boats in the race hove to, but the Yankee 38 was bulletproof — if a bit slow, So we kept sailing with a #4 and no main. The swells were high enough that the boat stood up straight in the troughs, then got knocked over about 60 degrees on the crests. The only damage to the boat was the companionway ladder, which collapsed under one of the crew when we came off a swell. The PVC tube that contained the masthead wiring also sheared its pop rivets, and then fell three feet to the maststep inside the mast.

We overstood the Cape because the guys on watch were worried about getting too close to shore at night in the storm. That probably cost us, but we still got third in class. The big boats had all made it around the Cape before the storm hit, so they were able to surf north up to La Paz. But I understand they suffered some damage, too.

It was just a little Mexican blow, but it was not a winter storm, as the temp at night must have been in the 90s. Maybe it was a chubasco.

Mike Kennedy
Conquest, Cal 40
Los Angeles

Mike — We don't know what to say other than that the last official named storm in '77 is listed as Hurricane Heather, from October 4-7. Most of the time, she was hundreds of miles off the west coast of Baja. It doesn't sound as if you were hit by a chubasco either, as those are violent squalls with thunder and lightning, and tend not to last very long. We wonder if anybody else in that event has any additional information, including the correct date of the event. If we're not mistaken, long ago one of the Mexican races was held in late September — the height of hurricane season. That was changed after the fleet encountered hurricane swells — but not winds — on their way south.

Maybe it's just us, but if it's blowing 60 knots and we're far enough offshore, we're not going to be flying any sail at all.


I want to echo Latitude's sentiments with respect to the safety of the Baja Ha-Ha. While my friends and I cruise on a fully-equipped Ocean Alexander 54 — we feel a little too old and worn out for the work involved with sailing — we will be running south to Cabo on October 27. Yes, that's technically still hurricane season. We fully expect to mingle with and pass the Ha-Ha fleet on the way down. We'll then spend seven months at San Jose del Cabo.

This will be our fourth trip to Mexico since '05 — and yes, we do the Bash back as well — and we have never once felt threatened by being in Mexican waters. There is safety in numbers, of course, but the hospitality shown by the locals from Ensenada, Mag Bay and Turtle Bay is always one of the highlights of our trip.

Have a safe and wonderful trip going south, and thanks for being a sane voice in today's world of insanity!

Jim Perell
Koulakani, Ocean Alexander 45
Sacramento / San Diego

Jim — Thanks for the kind words. Isn't it funny that people who haven't been to Mexico think we're insane to go down there, and during 'hurricane season' no less? On the other hand, those who have done it feel it's insane not to do it.

Have a safe trip yourself, and we'll keep our ears and eyes out for you. We think there's a Ha-Ha T-shirt with your name on it.


I read with great interest your report on hearing people's voices at sea, and maybe even seeing crew that aren't really there. No matter if it's day or night, if we're doing more than 8 knots on the open ocean, I hear Gregorian monks chanting. This has happened on every ocean passage I've ever done, the latest being when I helped David Kory, formerly with Tradewinds Sailing School and Club and presently with AVI Nautica Worldwide Yachting Vacations, sail his Beneteau 51.5 Ambassador from British Virgins to Fortaleza, Brazil. The monks sang all the way. Although I am not religious in any traditional way, I hear them in the rigging all the time. It drives me to sing my own songs, Bavarian folk songs mostly, just to drown them out. But they are persistent.

With respect to seeing crew who aren't really there, or who are long dead, I haven't had that happen yet. But I have been helped through very difficult situations on the water by one special sailor who passed away a number of years ago. This would be singlehander Hans Vielhauer of the Cal 40 Chaparral. His calm respect for the sea, and humble confidence to figure out what it takes to be part of it, remain a steady inspiration in my sailing life.

Marianne Wheeler
Chaparral, Cal 40
San Francisco

Marianne — We understand your being inspired by Hans Vielhauer. We fondly remember him from when he raced his Scampi 30 Mach Schnell in the first two Singlehanded TransPacs. He was as in tune with the sea as he was averse to publicity and having his photo taken. The only time we got a photo of him was in Hanalei Bay when we tricked him by asking if he'd carry our surfboard around the corner of a building. When he did, we hopped out and got our photo of him paparazzi style! We also remember your letter to Latitude about one of Hans' death-defying feats:

"On June 13, '95, Sonoma's Hans Vielhauer and his Cal 40 Chaparral were caught in the entrance channel of the Ala Wai Boat Harbor by the 'great southwest swell of '95'. This was the swell that caused lots of damage and killed several surfers in the islands. According to Honolulu newspapers, the swells were the biggest to hit the south shore in 15 years. Hans and Chaparral were motoring in the channel when a towering wave broke across the entire opening, ripping the signs off the channel markers and pounding the shore. Chaparral was knocked down by the breaking wave, and Hans was washed overboard. As he went over, the heel of his foot kicked the gearshift into reverse. When the breaking wave passed, Chaparral righted herself, and made a nice circle in reverse — right back at Hans! When he surfaced and saw his boat coming back toward him, he knew there was only one thing to do — get back aboard! Although well past the age of 60 at the time, Hans managed to climb aboard his Cal 40, after which he put the transmission in forward and set a course for deeper water!"

If it wouldn't embarrass him even in death, Latitude would host a Hans Vielhauer Memorial Climb Back Aboard a Cal 40 Contest in his honor. For those readers who don't recall, Vielhauer also did the '90 and '92 Singlehanded TransPacs aboard Chaparral, and circumnavigated with her and Wheeler from '95-'96. A Latitude 38 toast to this most skilled, accomplished — and above all, humble — mariner.


Latitude was right in the August 26 'Lectronic — the U.S. really does have crazy and contradictory visa policies. You cited the case of Verdo and Gabriela Verdon, Australians who came to Alameda to buy a boat, and who were spending a lot of money. Yet the U.S. made them go to a distant foreign country — Mexico and Canada weren't far enough — in order to apply for another visa. And even so, U.S. Immigration wouldn't guarantee that they'd be allowed back into the country to get their boat! On the other hand, President Obama declared that people in the country illegally — even if they have no money or skills, and are draining our limited services budget — will be allowed to stay as long as they haven't committed a felony.

But the U.S. isn't the only country with such policies. A few years back, our son went to Italy and found a one-year teaching job. After he got the job, the Italians made him fly all the way home to apply for his visa! He got it and flew right back to Italy.

I think there must be some test that all the people who work on immigration policy have to flunk in order to get a job with that agency.

By the way, I made the return trip home from Hawaii with Wayne Hendryx aboard his Hughes 45 Capricorn Cat. It was a great trip, and my first experience sailing at such high speeds. I hope it's not my last.

Pat McIntosh
Peregrine, trawler
Alameda / Sacramento


Do you realize that the entire European Union has immigration laws very similar to the one that Latitude is complaining about? You can't get a work visa in the United Kingdom while in-country, nor can you go to bordering Ireland to get one. You have to go across the English Channel to France.

Frankly, we in the United States do a more pitiful job of protecting our borders and controlling immigration than any country on the planet — Mexico included. I say good on the Verdons for following the rules.

Nick Salvador
Finn, USA 1109

Nick — You're talking apples and we're talking oranges. The Verdons weren't seeking a work visa, but rather a brief extension of their tourist visa so they could shower even more money on the Northern California marine industry. But no, our government made them spend $4,000 of boat money on flying to El Salvador so they could apply for a new tourist visa there. Meanwhile, our president grandly announced that we won't prosecute people who are in the country illegally, taking American jobs and getting free American services. If we're going to turn a blind eye to law-breakers, can't we at least close our eyes to those who are reducing the national debt rather than contributing to it?

On the other hand, we couldn't agree more that the United States does a pathetic job of protecting borders and controlling immigration. If we're going to deliberately ignore our immigration laws and let everybody stay in the country, why are we wasting billions on border patrolmen, helicopters, SUVs, fences, night vision binocs and all that other junk? And if the president announces he's going to pick and choose which laws are going to be enforced, how does he expect citizens to have respect for any laws?

Of course, it's a moot point here in California, where the people of Mexico have all but succeeded in their 'Reconquest' of Alta California. It's just that not everyone realizes it yet.


While dutifully reading the August issue of Latitude cover to cover, I came across a gorgeous photo that featured a girl in a bikini in the foreground on page 134 in Charter Notes. It was part of an article recommending chartering in the Eastern Caribbean. Anyway, after squinting at the photograph for a bit, I could make out the name on the Lagoon catamaran in the background, Chillmore. That's our cat!

Many moons ago I remember reading an article that documented the Latitude publisher's purchasing the Leopard 45 cat 'ti Profligate and putting her into secondary yacht charter management in the Caribbean. Being the subtle instigator that I am, I showed the article to my wife. I managed to convince her that if we followed suit, we'd be much closer to our future cruising plans. My scheme worked! So now we proudly have Chillmore chartering in Grenada while we continue to pad our cruising kitty.

Yes, our boat's name may be slightly askew, but who wouldn’t want to “chill more” while basking in the 85-degree air and water temps of the eastern Caribbean blue? Besides, there wasn’t enough time to appease Neptune with a proper name-changing ceremony before delivering the boat from St. Martin to Grenada this past spring. That trip alone was enough to lure me over to the dark side. We were sailing close-hauled in 30 knots of wind and confused 12-ft seas, yet Chillmore still nicely made way with an average boat speed of eight knots under sail. And our drinks didn't even spill! Not too bad for a cruising charter boat.

With that I would like to cordially thank you and your fine magazine for displaying our boat and inspiring our future cruising dreams.

P.S. If that’s not actually a photo of our boat, please don't tell my wife. She is so excited.

Clint & Dora Rogers
Minha Joia, Cal 2-29
Brickyard Cove, Pt. Richmond
Chillmore, Lagoon 410 S2
True Blue Bay, Grenada

Clint and Dora — Of course she's your cat! We hope that your yacht management program works out as well for you as ours has for us.


With regard to the August 24 'Lectronic write-up on your Alameda Zen Sailing trip, during which time Morgan Jackson of the Catalina 34 Aquavite was photographed doing a flip into the normally chilly Estuary waters, NOAA reported that the temperature was about 68 degrees. Not bad for these parts. In fact, I took my Vanguard 15 over there that afternoon to do some San Diego-type sailing.

David Demarest
Burbujas, Vanguard 15 #1004
San Anselmo


Thanks for the great piece on Zen Sailing, the Richmond Circuit. While I’m probably biased, it often seems that Richmond is too-well-kept a secret, so it was great to see a good review of sailing in the area that captured all the highlights.

The Red Oak Victory is indeed showing her age, but it was just announced that she is scheduled to head to drydock in mid-September for some much-needed maintenance. If all goes according to plan, the ship will be restored to seaworthiness for the first time since 1969. In any case, she should look a lot spiffier on her return.

While there aren’t any mellow small boat races that I know of in the Portrero Reach area, I have been seeing more small boats as well as some of the larger trailerable multihulls launching from the Marina Bay launch ramp for daysailing, . The Richmond YC is definitely the local small boat racing powerhouse, as it has lots of events on the racing calendar and an active junior program. As a dinghy sailor myself, I’d love to see even more small boat sailing in the area. I’ve spent a fair bit of time sailing my Laser out of Marina Bay, and have long thought that the open basin here could be a great spot for short-course small boat racing.

When the wind picks up, we’re seeing more kiters launching from the beach at Vincent Park on the south end of Marina Bay. I haven’t tried it myself yet but I’ve been told this is a pretty good spot to start, as there is sheltered water behind Brooks Island and in the Channel, with the open waters of the Berkeley Circle close at hand. Since kiting seems to be growing in popularity, I expect to see the number of kiters increase in the Richmond area.

We also see quite a few kayakers launching from Marina Bay, and there are a number of S.F. Bay Water Trail kayak launch areas in the Richmond area, including one near the Point San Pablo YC. Several groups run kayak classes and tours in the area as well. I’m even seeing occasional SUP'ers take advantage of our sheltered waters. So it seems as if lots of people are already in on the secret of how good boating is here in Richmond.

You mentioned the need to pay attention to the buoys when entering Marina Bay, and that is certainly true. I have often been surprised at how far boats can manage to get in very shallow water, and how many people seem to forget 'red, right, returning'. The simplest way to avoid problems is to stay in the main ship channel until you can make a 90-degree turn after Daymark 18, and then parallel the Ford Plant wharf into the marina. In other words, don't cut the corners!

The good news is that very soon it will be a much better approach, as dredging has already commenced for the marina entrance channel. When that is completed, the channel will be restored to the design depth of 12 feet over the full 175-ft width of the channel. Once in Marina Bay, the depth is up to 18 feet, so even pretty deep draft boats can come visit on their Zen Sailing tour without too much worry about depth.

Thanks for the great write-up, I look forward to future installments and seeing more people on their own Zen sailing circuits.

Stephen Orosz
Marina Bay Yacht Harbor


Naming something, or judging the propriety, legitimacy or fitness of a name, is the oldest mark of ownership. Other than peeing on things, of course, which dogs still do. This tradition has spanned the ownership of vessels, the ownership of land — and most tragically, the ownership of people. Indeed, unabridged naming rights over one's own self and property has long been a seminal mark of freedom.

While I understand the grave results of impaired cognitive function, and a very fragile sense of machismo induced by testosterone, it baffles me to no end when that machismo is threatened by the putatively feminine being too feminine. It is an ancient tradition to regard vessels as feminine, most often applying pronouns 'her' and 'she' to the vessel. Yet, not too feminine, apparently, or that machismo begins to squirm.

So when the 'For Sale' listings for my boat brought responses such as, "That's not a real boat's name" or "You have to change the name," I really can't decide whether to be more irritated by the testosterone poisoning of the respondent or the broader misogyny of our society.

Would it be sufficiently machismo if I named my boat the Otto von Bismarck, or perhaps the Titanic, two doomed legacies of machismo at sea? Do Poseidon or Ægir, perhaps, disdain such hyper-masculinity on their waters, perceive a challenge to be the alpha male of the sea, and perhaps reserve a softer spot in their hearts for the more feminine? To me, those macho names would be like putting the gay-male-pride symbol that I think is called 'truck nuts' — they look like a scrotum hanging from a truck's trailer hitch — on this woman's boat!

What about Juggernaut? I can't decide if that's a hyper-feminine witticism or hyper-masculine menacing. Perhaps it's the hyper-juxtaposed androgyny of both in double-entendre — and possibly the same intended message as 'truck nuts'.

Well, my boat — having an extensive cruising history and having been cruised and loved passionately by the same couple for 25 years — is a woman's boat right now. So I don't want to hear anyone tell me she's "not a real boat." For those who don't like her name, I say you don't own her nor do you own the equally marvelous me. Casting judgment on whatever I care to name my boat is beyond anyone's purview.

Unlike owners of boats with masculinized names, I wasn't in competition for macho approval or maximum intimidation. And mine isn't a battle-hardened boat with a gun turret on the foredeck. Sure, these Columbia 34 Mk II hulls have long been very popular in macho competitive contexts such as racing, but currently, mine is a gentle 'lovers and cruisers' boat. She's a boat for love, to love, to be loved.

If someone wants to buy my boat and refit her for a different purpose, then sure, changing her name would be their own choice. But only after they have taken ownership of her. Hell, the new name placard hasn't even been finished or mounted yet, so renaming her couldn't be easier for a new owner.

My Columbia 34 is thoroughly a real boat, a cruiser's boat, a storied boat — but she just happens to be named The Pink Panty. If you can't get over yourself and your need for macho gratification, and your aversion to the feminine, you can either buy the boat and change the name, or learn to live with the loving, vulnerable, gentle, intimate, feminine side of life proudly still afloat.

P.S. Many people love the name. For every criticism of the name, I have received more than several dozen enthusiastic praises. To each her own.

P.P.S. If you are the type that still needs to pee on things to mark them as your own, and intend to pee all over this boat to mark it as your own (rather than settle for buying naming rights with the boat), then I'll tell you now that I intend to not sell her to you.

Madame Dr. Jane Doe
The anonymous owner of The Pink Panty

Madame Dr. — We can't be sure, but it almost seems you're obsessing over this matter. While we're delighted that you didn't add to the legion of boats named Blow Job, Wet Spot, Passing Wind or worse, it seems improbable to us that you think you can remain "anonymous" when you're trying to sell a boat named The Pink Panty. What strikes us as even more odd is that you would care what other people think of your boat's name. We once knew a woman in the Caribbean who had a small sailboat named The Salty Vagina. She was supremely indifferent to what others thought, so there was no controversy at all.

As for your assertion that "Columbia 34 Mk II hulls have long been very popular in macho competitive contexts such as racing," we don't mean to contradict you, but where did you get that idea? The 34 was part of the family of flush deck/blister house boats Bill Tripp designed for Columbia that included the 22, 26, 34, 39, 43, 50, 52 and to some extent the center cockpit 57. While the 43, 50, and 52s were raced with some success many years ago when they were new, in our 35 years of covering sailing, we can't recall anyone ever racing a Columbia 34 Mk II. We're not saying it's never been done, but rather the 34s were better known for their spacious interiors and surprising headroom.

There is, however, a Columbia 34 whose memory always brings a smile to our face. This would be Breta, which is/was owned by Roy Wessbecher, who, if there were a Latitude 38 Sailing Hall of Fame, would occupy a prominent spot. Wessbecher told his story in the August '08 Changes:

"Back in '93 -— after a tough six-day offshore run from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas — I signed in for Latitude's then-'Some Like it Hot Rally'. In so doing, I got a now-famous bright hot pink t-shirt with a green jalapeno pepper on the back. But when the 'Some Like it Hot' list appeared in the next issue of the magazine, I found that I'd been dubbed 'Lonesome Roy'. "The nerve!" I thought to myself. "Do they even know me? That's defamation!" Sure, I was singlehanding my old Columbia 34 Breta at the time, and sure, it would have been nice to have the right partner along, but I was doing fine. So I let it go. Now, having covered 31,700 ocean miles and having visited 35 countries, 'Lonesome Roy' and old Breta are back. I finished the trip as I began it, singlehanded. But while en route I had a total of 17 crewmembers, all of them vegetarians — and all of them female. Cynthia, a Dutch girl, even lasted through the whole ugly Red Sea leg from Sri Lanka up to Israel —- and that 4,400 miles took 147 days. Susanne, a Swedish girl, did the Atlantic and the Caribbean with me, which was 3,400 miles and 109 days. Maus, my cat, accompanied me all the way around.

"By the way, I kept an exact record of all my expenses during my circumnavigation. In the 4 years, 9 months and 9 days it took me to sail from Puerto Vallarta to Puerto Vallarta, I spent an average of $14.66 a day. That's $445 a month, $5,350 a year, or a total of $25,300. I had budgeted $20 day, so I came out way under budget. Those numbers, by the way, include every single expenditure. I did two bottom jobs, one in New Zealand and one in Thailand. I had no major breakdowns and I didn't fly home."


The accompanying photo is of a sign I saw on a head on a charterboat San Francisco Bay. It contains a one-letter typo, which completely changes the meaning. At least I assume that it wasn’t intended to say what it says.

Dan Marshall
USCG Master

Dan — If it weren't for the fact that there are too many typos in Latitude and 'Lectronic, we'd jump all over the author of that sign. But things being the way they are, we just got a chuckle out of it. Some other typos we've seen recently: "Yard Sale 4 Collage Fund" and "Bus Stopped Due to Jass and Rib Fest". Neither was as good, however, as the signs held up at the Martin Luther King memorial celebration that read "I have a deram."


A dedicated reader of Latitude, I was in the monthly process of my cover-to-cover read of the July issue when I came upon the story about cruising on a budget aboard the circumnavigating Vanguard 32 Carmen Miranda with Cindy Holmes — and to my amazement, Faith Tamarin! Faith and I completed our first ocean crossing together in '79, more than 30 years ago.

It came about through a twist of fate. I had been directed to mail a letter to delivery captain Ken Murray, who was living aboard his 38-ft ketch with his wife at the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu — this obviously being eons before email. Several months later, and after a phone call and a face-to-face meeting, I was brought on as crew to help deliver the 50-ft cutter Tuatea from the Ala Wai to Pelican Yacht Harbor in Sausalito. I was young, adventurous, and very inexpensive, so I moved aboard Tuatea in March of '79.

The other crewmember was supposed to be a young guy from New Caledonia, who had sailed with Murray on several deliveries. Unfortunately, he'd let his passport expire. Murray, not wanting to risk having the boat impounded if we were met by the Coast Guard, let him go, and started a search for a third crewmember. This was important because, at that time, my sailing experience consisted of maybe two trips outside the breakwater by the Queen Mary aboard my uncle's 28-ft sloop.

Anyway, Faith had shown up in Honolulu hoping to catch a ride on a boat back to the mainland, and to that end had placed her name on a message board at the Ala Wai. Murray eventually contacted her. That's how crews used to come together 30 years ago.

We spent about a week waiting for the weather to clear, finished with the last of the provisioning, and set sail on April 17. The next 33 days were quite eventful, as it was pretty early in the season to sail back to the mainland. Consequently, we had lots of weather, both good and bad. For example, there was no wind the first couple of days, so we had to motor. Unfortunately, the refrigeration had mistakenly been connected to the engine, so we ruined most of the vegetables we'd stored in the cooler!

Then, about two weeks out of Honolulu, Faith noticed that the backstay was coming unwound. We fixed that situation with a block and tackle arrangement.

Our third week was highlighted by the discovery of an error in navigation, which put us several hundred miles south of our previous day's location. We were supposed to be heading north! To finish it off, the boom broke about four days out of San Francisco.

Despite all this, we enjoyed days upon days of jokes and laughter, sharing meals and countless evenings in the cockpit listening to Mystery Theater over the AM radio. And there were all those sunrises, sunsets and starlit nights.

When we parted in Sausalito, Faith returned to Berkeley to continue honing her sailing skills — obviously with great success. I headed back to Southern California for about 10 weeks, then helped Ken doublehand his ketch from Ala Wai back to Pelican Harbor. Two crossings in one summer wasn't bad.

But the real congratulations go to Faith and Cindy for making it around on their Vanguard — and apparently on just $500 a month. Way to go, ladies!

If Faith would like to touch base as much as I would, she can reach me via email.

P.S. I'm eyeing the Ha-Ha Crew List!

Kevin Bowls


I'm not sure why you would give Ha-Ha naysayers the recognition of a response. I have met several people who have done the Ha-Ha, and the response has always been, "It was a blast!" Of course, there are always those who can't stand it when others have fun and enjoy themselves. They would probably bitch if they were hanged from a new yard-arm.

For the second year in a row I won't be able to make the Ha-Ha because of health reasons — my boat is sick. And I feel I need to get more experience sailing my 39-ft oldie-but-goodie. However, I feel I'll still be part of this year's Ha-Ha. As the Grand Poobah might remember, I attended the Ha-Ha presentation at the Strictly Sail Boat Show in Oakland, the one where the audio visual equipment didn't work for the first 15 minutes. In order to kill time, the Grand Poobah asked for suggestions for a nickname for this year's 18th Annual Ha-Ha. I'm the one who came up with the 'Barely Legal' nickname.

Steve Denney
BreakTime, Yorktown 39CC

Steve — We think it's a good idea to listen to and occasionally respond to grousers, even if some of them have all the facts wrong and seem to be completely off their rockers. As for constructive criticism, it's even more helpful than praise, so we welcome it.

As for the 'Barely Legal' nickname for this year's Ha-Ha, you indeed are the man, and as soon as we get the shirts printed up, we'll have a Ha-Ha XVIII t-shirt for you.


I loved your August 29 'Lectronic article defending the Ha-Ha. We heard the same "You're crazy, you're gonna die if you go to Mexico" nonsense when we left on the '10 Ha-Ha. In reality, we felt much less safe in Coos Bay, Oregon, when the drunken fishermen started shouting, fighting and shooting.

My wife didn't like the pace of the Ha-Ha, but I felt we got our money's worth and learned to keep a schedule.

I think you should also mention the good work done by Andy Turpin, the Assistant Poobah, and the others who made sure everybody got to Cabo all right, or got rescued — like the guy who went aground just to the north of Bahia Santa Maria.

Damon Cruz
Rose of Erin, Hughes 40
'10 Ha-Ha vet
Juneau, AK

Damon — Thanks for the kind words. We understand your wife's point of view. While there are stops of 24 to 48 hours at Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria, the Ha-Ha nonetheless moves south toward Cabo at a reasonably brisk pace. It has to or it would take more than two weeks, which would make it impossible for many of the entries to find crew. In years past, a few folks have dropped out at Bahia Santa Maria, as they had gotten far enough south to find warm air and warm water, and wanted to explore the Mag Bay area.

Andy Turpin, the Assistant Poobah, and Doña de Mallorca, the Chief of Security, have done something like 30 Ha-Ha's between them, and have done a fabulous job. So have the many volunteers. Thanks for remembering them.

For the record, Dachyon, the DownEast 38 that went aground north of Bahia Santa Maria was not part of the Ha-Ha fleet. But it's not uncommon for Ha-Ha boats to come to the assistance of non-Ha-Ha boats, be they on the beach or otherwise disabled and in need of a tow. After all, helping others is part of the fun of cruising as well as part of the Ha-Ha ethos. By the way, we're happy to report that Mark Cholewinski, who owned Tachyon, now has a new steel boat that he is fitting out for more cruising.


What's with the BS'ers going on about the Ha-Ha anyway? They're always the loudest, usually the rudest, and are just plain full of it. Every year there's a few who talk down the Ha-Ha, almost all of whom have never done the event. I think they're just plain jealous.

Sure, a very few people who have done it say they didn't care for it, the typical reason being that the Ha-Ha moves a little too fast for their taste. But these people don't bad-mouth the event.

We've cruised south to Mexico twice, once on our own in '03, and then again with the Ha-Ha in '05. We were bummed that we were too late for the '03 Ha-Ha, and ended up sailing from San Francisco to Puerto Vallarta in just 15 days. We did make the '05 Ha-Ha, however, and we're sure glad we did. We loved it.

The Ha-Ha is the greatest way we can think of to escape to the cruising life. You make many new cruising friends, and it really gets you in tune with your new way of life. It is especially good for the first mates and the crew — for us, our crew were our children. They really need to get in touch with their own, and for that, the Ha-Ha is where it's at.

When I saw the August 29 'Lectronic photo of all the Ha-Ha kids on the beach in Cabo, with our own 'Princess Jacque' right in front, all our Ha-Ha memories came rushing back. What a great way to make it through another Monday.

Our kids blossomed in ways only cruising kids can. We weren't even 24 hours into the Ha-Ha when Jacque decided the kids needed their own morning net, so she got it started right away. I remember that one boat that radioed in a complaint about the kids doing their own net, but they got shut down right away by a huge number of calls in support of it. There's always got to be one in every crowd! I know the Poobah loves the kids. Seeing their faces and looking through their eyes makes you feel young again and really appreciative of life.

Much of the joy of cruising is about the people you'll meet and the lifelong friendships you'll make. There is no better way to get started on it than on the Ha-Ha. Next time we head south, you can bet we'll be with the Ha-Ha and our new group of friends. Forget the BS'ers, they're so full of shit!

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

The Day Family — Thanks for the very kind words. Professionals tell us that hatred of something is almost always rooted in jealousy and feelings of inadequacy. Without jealousy and inadequacy, there would merely be indifference.

The kids' nets are fascinating, both because of how quickly the young participants pick up the skills and etiquette, but also because, unlike adults, they usually say exactly what's on their minds.

We look forward to doing another Ha-Ha with your family in the future.


How about having an event similar to the Baja Ha-Ha, but with Hawaii as the destination? It's easy to cruise there, people could buddyboat, and you could have net controllers on the water and on the land. And depending on the entrants, you could have starts on different days so people would arrive at about the same time. I'm sure Charles at Kewalo Basin Harbor would be up for it. I think there are many sailors who would like to participate in just such an event; they just need a slight push. And having the chance to do it with other cruisers would be the big push. I'd be willing to help get it going.

Lynn A. Stokes
Morro Bay

Lynn — There already is such a great such event — the Pacific Cup, aka The Fun Race To Hawaii, from San Francisco to Oahu's Kaneohe Bay. While the event always has some hot racing boats, there are fast cruisers, too. And they have plenty of pre- and post-race social activities, plus all the communications you could want. The next one starts on July 16, 2012.

But let's be realistic, a trip to Hawaii and back is a much greater challenge than a Ha-Ha and return trip from Mexico. Here are a few of the reasons: 1) The Ha-Ha is one-third the length, and the fleet stops every two or three days for a couple of days of rest and socializing. 2) The Ha-Ha weather conditions are warmer and more mild than that on a trip to Hawaii and back. 3) If the weather were to turn nasty or the crew really wanted to stop and rest, there are a number of good anchorages on the coast of Baja, but there are none on the way to Hawaii. 4) It's less than a 10-day trip to Cabo, including the two stops, while many Ha-Ha boats would take two or more weeks of nonstop sailing to get to Hawaii. 5) Mexico is much less expensive. 6) And we hate to say it, but Mañanaland marinas are much nicer to mariners than those in Hawaii, which has zero aloha for sailors. (However, we do hear that Kewalo Basin, run by Almar rather than by the often-uncaring state of Hawaii employees, is an exception.) It's true that Hawaii has Hanalei Bay, probably the single most beautiful anchorage in either of the two places, but it's a long way to go just for that.

Doug Thorne of the Alameda-based Celestial 48 Tamara Lee Ann has done a couple of Ha-Ha's, so he sailed to Hawaii and back this summer for a change of pace. On a scale of 1 to 10, he said the Ha-Ha's were a 1 in degree of difficulty while the Hawaii trip — particularly the sail home — was a 10. It doesn't surprise us, because it really isn't an "easy cruise" to Hawaii and back. (See Thorne's Changes in this month's issue.)

If we were to start another cruising event, it would be the So-Cal Ha-Ha, a 10-day event that would have the following itinerary: Start at Santa Barbara; two nights at Santa Cruz Island; one night at Paradise Cove just inside Pt. Dume; King Harbor for a night; Catalina's Two Harbors for two nights; Long Beach for one night; then down to the finish in Newport Beach. It would be around Labor Day, when Southern California weather is the best. Our purpose in life has turned out to be helping people have fun with their boats, so while we don't really need another sailing event in our lives, if 30 or more boats express an interest (email Richard), we'll be there for them.


I saw the TV news report of Latitude's catamaran Profligate leaving the Oceanside Harbor during that huge swell in September. It was a case of a well-designed and immaculately maintained boat, sailed by a skipper of great experience and good judgment, in conditions that were well within the capabilities of both. Very well done. I do wish more people understood the full dimension of the control available with such a craft to experienced crew in safety.

Robert Wilson
Bobcat, Crowther 38

Robert — Let's not get carried away. First of all, Profligate is a heavily used work boat, not a yacht, so nobody who comes aboard and sees the paint peeling on her decks is going to accuse her of being "immaculately maintained." And while her skipper may have sailed for many years, there are far more skilled and experienced sailors around.

We waffled about running the video in 'Lectronic because we didn't want to give sailors the idea that it's wise to take risks leaving harbors when a big swell is running. That's why we carefully noted that Profligate, thanks in part to a clean bottom, was able to motor out at more than 10 knots during a lull. Had she been a seven-knot boat, the first wave would have broken on her, and she and her crew could have easily been driven onto the eastern breakwater by the following two waves. We also noted that we had observed the entrance conditions for more than an hour before leaving the dock, then hovered just inside the breakwaters for at least 30 minutes before finding what we believed was a suitable lull. Had we not found a good lull within the next 15 minutes, we were going to return to the dock.

The thing we want everyone to be clear on is that it can be life-threatening to leave harbors when big waves are breaking, even if the harbor patrol hasn't closed the harbor. People also need to know that non-surfers are generally poor at estimating how quickly waves approach, something that's proven all the time by the number of dinghy dumpings one sees along the coast of Mexico. So please, please, please, don't leave a harbor unless you are absolutely sure that you can make it, and make it with a wide margin of error.


On the great suggestion of the Grand Poobah, we sailed up into the Sea of Cortez right after the conclusion of the '06 Ha-Ha. To this day, it stands out as one of our best cruising adventures. The beauty, the solitude, the warm water and the people — all of it was wonderful.

We ended up on a mooring in the Puerto Escondido inner harbor when the first Norther of the season blew through. After three days of 40-knot winds, which had our inflatable with her 8-hp outboard flipping behind our transom, and the final insult — our having to put on fleece clothing — we decided it was high time to head south and over to the mainland. So when the wind abated to just 25 knots, we split for Mazatlan.

We had a legendary 36-hour sail! The wind was fixed at 140 degrees off our port quarter, and never blew less than 20 knots. The sailing was too wonderful for us to ever go off watch, and I don't think I adjusted the sails even once. I can still feel the rhythmic rising, falling, surfing, settling in the trough — then repeat and repeat and repeat. It was fine, fine sailing.

We finally anchored behind Isla Pajaros off Mazatlan at 2 a.m. and got some sleep. The next morning we headed for the breakwater and channel that leads to Marina El Cid and Marina Mazatlan at the north end of town. We could see big swells and hear them breaking on the breakwater, but as with the Wanderer's experience at Oceanside, there were also long lulls. We watched the pattern for about 30 minutes, and when it was consistently flat, we powered in.

Once we were safe inside the channel, we looked back — and were surprised to see 8- to 10-ft seas breaking all the way across the channel entrance! When we tied up at the El Cid Marina, we were informed that we had entered a closed port.

I suppose that we technically broke the law, but I didn't feel we took any undue risk. Going to sea in a small boat has some inherent risk which most sailors accept — and maybe even crave. I chafe at the nanny state idea that it can all be made safe by some more laws and regulations. Risk-takers make the world interesting, and their screw-ups make great stories. Here is to the American spirit that sees a challenge, measures the risks and acts. Be it a harbor entrance, starting a business, or building a sailing rag publishing empire!

Craig & Lamia Alger
Page One, Beneteau First 42
Emery Cove and Chico

Craig and Lamia — Empire? You've gone way overboard.

But as we're sure you'll agree, everything has to be evaluated on a risk-reward basis. Since our reward — getting to Catalina that day as opposed to the next or the next — wasn't that great, we were fully prepared to return to the dock and spend another day with the fine folks at the Oceanside YC.

We're glad our advice to head up into the Sea immediately after the Ha-Ha worked out well for you. It is terrific — at least until that first Norther blows through — and it's totally different from the lush mainland. You'll be happy to learn that folks in Puerto Escondido tell us that, having gone through a very rough patch this last year, things — at least some things — are starting to look up again.

As for the entrance to El Cid and Marina Mazatlan, we believe it was designed too narrow and in big swells it can be very dangerous. Geronimo, the harbormaster at El Cid, will be happy to give approaching boats advice. The nice thing is that it's only six miles down the coast to the wide and safe ship entrance at the port of Mazatlan, where there's a small boat anchorage just inside.


After retiring with more than 25 years in the Coast Guard, I can assure Latitude that the machine guns on Coast Guard boats that some readers have complained were pointed at them are not .50 cals, but rather the .30 caliber M-60s. The major difference is that the .50 would pass right through your boat — and probably one or two more near her.

But seriously, ask the Navy what happens when a small boat packed with explosives detonates next to the hull of one of their ships. It's happened one time too many for them. Admittedly, it hasn't happened in U.S. waters, but that scarcely matters to those who were killed or injured.

Remember, the Coasties aren't pointing guns at recreational mariners for fun or profit. They train hard under a very rigid and unforgiving set of rules and regulations to prevent avoidable incidents.

I think sailors should view incidents such as those that have been described in Latitude as they would if a cop who had his hand on a service sidearm told them to do something. The smartest thing is to do as you're told and worry about your rights — the ones elected representatives are eliminating — later.

By the way, when is the Wanderer going to do a Catnip Cup again? I haven't seen him in quite a while?

34-ft Land Yacht

Ron — Sorry about the mistake, but we sailors tend to be lovers not killers, so we're not very familiar with weaponry. As for your advice about following the instructions of people with weapons — be they thugs or police — we couldn't agree more. If we're not mistaken, it's called the 'Oscar Grant rule'.

We understand that individual Coasties and the Coast Guard are merely following marching orders from on high. The unfortunate incident in San Diego where a young boy was killed by a Coastie overenthusiastically responding to a minor incident notwithstanding, and excluding the fact that a few Coasties let their authority go to their heads, we believe they do a good job.

As we wrote last month, we think the whole Homeland Security task is all but an impossible one. For example, in early September we motored Profligate out of the entrance channel to San Diego Bay at the same time an aircraft carrier was approaching from the sea. When abeam of Pt. Loma, one of the Naval Security vessels that was riding shotgun about an eighth of a mile in advance of the carrier came alongside. "What can we do for you?" we asked with a smile. "We need you to proceed outside of the channel," they responded in a pleasant but firm manner. We did exactly as instructed, but for all they knew, 30 seconds later, when the carrier was just 150 yards away, a bunch of terrorists could have come on deck with some serious weapons and done a bit of damage to the multibillion-dollar ship. Or one of the several submarines just a few hundred yards in the other direction. There simply can be no such thing as total security — or even close to it — in a free society. So what's the answer? We're not sure there is one, but we think the country could spend billions less and still have as much security as we have today.


I keep reading about SB623, which is the California legislation to remove all copper-based bottom paint from recreational boats, and am becoming more confused than ever.

'Unfair' is the first thing that comes to my mind. If recreational mariners have to use non-toxic stuff, why not commercial vessels and the military, too? And since the copper from brake pads is a much greater source of copper in our streams, rivers, bays and oceans, why isn't more being done to eliminate that much greater cause of pollution?

Nonetheless, as a concerned resident of Planet Earth, I agree that we have to start somewhere. But if the legislation passes, and I can find the money to repaint my boat's bottom because the government makes me, I'll still be a little confused. Suppose I want to take my boat up to Puget Sound to visit my son. Am I going to be singled out and keel-hauled because the state of Washington has passed requirements that are somewhat different from California's? I feel it would be stupid — and once again unfair — for different states to have different laws, dates for laws, and tactics with regard to outlawing copper bottom paints. Shouldn't this be a federal issue?

I would also like to see a magic bullet that would cure the bottom growth problem without resorting to toxic stuff, yet I don't think careening my boat on a sandy beach at low tide and setting fire to the growth — as Changes reported is done on the coast of East Africa — is going to be in my future.

I personally would like to see more scientific testing and honest results so politicians can — unless they are complete idiots — make more educated proposals. And then I'd like legislators from all the States to join up and get legislation right the first time. And yes, I know that I'm dreaming.

By the way, I wrote to my state senator, but he ignored me and the desire of most of his constituents and voted for the legislation. His explanation was that if the legislation would help force recreational boaters out, it would make more room on the waterfront for more profitable businesses — i.e. commercial shipping.

Steve Denney
BreakTime, Yorktown 39

Steve — It's a difficult problem. While non-toxic bottom coatings are improving, they still aren't as effective or economical as the copper-based stuff.

Adding to our confusion about the matter is the fact that on September 19, a comprehensive report on the environmental quality of the Bay, funded mostly by the EPA, noted that "the amount of copper and nickel dropped by nearly 50 percent from '95 to '10 thanks to tightened restrictions on water treatment and industrial discharge." A 50% drop prior to any restrictions on the amount of copper in bottom paints and brake pads!? It makes us wonder if non-toxic bottom coatings for recreational boats might only be an expensive and somewhat ineffective solution to something that really isn't much of a problem after all. Remember that the leading source of copper in the rivers and bays is from car brake pads. We've got an open mind about all this, but we'd like to see some more factual information.


The August Latitude contained an editorial response to a letter that asked about copper brake shoes in the state of Washington, which are a major source of copper in the water. The state passed legislation in March banning them.

Ned Cook
Resolution, Elizabethan 29
Puget Sound

Ned — Washington's SB 6557, which passed in March, calls for the banning of brake pads containing more than trace amounts of cadmium, chromium, asbestos, lead and mercury beginning in '14. It sounds wonderful, doesn't it? But to enduring skeptics such as ourselves, it's bogus as a $3 bill.

First of all, "the banning of more than trace amounts" of elements such as copper starting in '14 is as misleading as a drunk saying he is going to become sober by limiting his consumption of alcohol to two bottles of gin a day — "starting" a couple of years down the road, and then eventually working down to just a couple of drinks a day. As we read the legislation, by '21, brake pads in the state of Washington will still be allowed to be made of 5% copper. We don't know about you, but 5% doesn't sound like a "trace amount" to us. Indeed, 'trace amounts' are generally considered to be "enough to identify but not enough to quantify." So we assume that SB 6557 simply guarantees that brake pads, not boat bottoms, will continue to be the greatest contributor to copper in Washington streams, rivers, bays and oceans for many decades to come. No wonder the legislation was enthusiastically welcomed by the automobile industry.


During the America's Cup trials in Plymouth, England, many of the 45-ft catamarans cartwheeled or otherwise went over on their sides. As far as I'm concerned, it justifies the crew of Oracle racing wearing crash helmets on the cover of the July Latitude.

I just watched the Rolex Big Boat Series, which was raced in winds to over 30 knots, with many round-ups. Yet I didn't see anyone wear a helmet. Will the St. Francis YC or Yacht Racing Association (YRA) soon require boatowners to supply their crew with helmets and require them to wear them — as is the case with PFDs?

Arnie Gallegos
Mi Amor, Islander 36

Arnie — Regarding requiring helmets on Big Boat Series participants, as they are for America's Cup sailors, we posed the question to Jeff Thorpe, who sailed the R/P 45 Criminal Mischief as fast as 23 knots in 29 knots of true wind. "There is substantially more risk of a head injury when cartwheeling on a carbon 45-ft cat than rounding up on a monohull," he said, clearly not enthused about the idea of having to wear a helmet. So it's not exactly apples-to-apples. In fact, we can't recall the last time there was a head injury while racing on San Francisco Bay.

So that everybody understands the facts, the rule regarding the wearing of PFDs in the Rolex Big Boat Series is as follows: “Competitors shall wear personal flotation devices at all times while racing, except briefly while changing or adjusting clothing or personal equipment. Wet suits and dry suits are not personal flotation devices.”

The YRA requires that every crewmember have one onboard, but sailors are only required to wear it when the "Y" flag is displayed. The one exception is that the Offshore Yacht Racing Association (OYRA) requires sailors to wear their PFDs at all times.

In a somewhat related matter, last month California Governor Jerry Brown inexplicably vetoed a bill that would have required kids under the age of 18 to wear helmets while skiing or snowboarding — something they are required to do when riding bikes. Brown, usually a believer that the state is the solution to all society's problems, had jaws dropping when he channeled Ron Paul by saying he was "concerned about the continuing and seemingly inexorable transfer of authority from parents to the state." Wah!? Since both the California Ski Industry Association and the National Ski Area Association supported the legislation requiring the mandatory use of helmets for youth, it must have been reps of personal injury lawyers who were cramming all the green stuff into the governor's pockets.


I read the bit in 'Lectronic about using Plasti-Dip to keep your steel windlass motor case from corroding. I've used Plasti-Dip in the past with some success, but proper surface preparation can be an issue.

About six years into my 17-year circumnavigation, I discovered another product that I now swear by. It's called Soft Seal and is made by CRC, which is a New Zealand company. In the States it's marketed as something like a 'heavy wax anti-corrosion film'. It comes in an aerosol can and can be easily applied to any surface, even one with a bit of rust already on it.

The product information on the can says "CRC Soft Seal is a petroleum-based protective coating that forms a light amber transparent film, 2 to 5 mils thick. It never becomes brittle and will not craze. It is highly resistant to saltwater and salt spray, making it particularly useful as a long-term outdoor rust preventative. Meets military specifications," etc.

The stuff could be removed easily with a solvent if you wanted to paint the surface. I have used Soft Seal to protect everything from exposed electrical connections and throttle/transmission linkages to tools and bare metal areas on engines and motors. I now apply it to almost all new items that have mild steel bits. It's not cheap, but a little goes a long way, and it is the best of many products I've tried over the years for this purpose.

George Backhus
Moonshadow, Deerfoot 62-2
Auckland / Fort Lauderdale

George — We were very happy with how easily and well the Plasti-Dip worked on our windlass motor. The motor was too big to dip, of course, so we painted the stuff on with a cheap brush. We left the electrical contacts unpainted, but smeared them with dielectric grease.

We'd been having a similar but less serious case of corrosion on the motor of our electric mainsheet winch. Since it would be difficult and time-consuming to remove that motor to paint it with Plasti-Dip, we sprayed the living daylights out of it with white lithium grease, and we're hoping it will have the same effect as Soft Seal, which we weren't able to find locally. We'll be monitoring the results and reporting them.


I was thrilled to read in Latitude that Gordon West is still 'the man' when it comes to all things SSB! He was of enormous help to me when I was prepping for the '00 and '06 Pacific Cups. Here are a couple of tidbits he passed on to me that were not in his September Latitude article on SSB.

Establishing a good ground plane — counterpoise — is always a hot topic. He told me that the concept of running miles of copper foil through the boat is mostly a ploy to have marine professionals spend lots and lots of time in your boat. He stated that it is only important to connect the radio to the ocean. In '00, I connected my transceiver to the automatic tuner with foil, and then to a brass thru-hull fastened with a hose clamp. If your thru-hulls are Marelon, you'll need to take it to the stuffing box. Nothing more is needed!

Also, one of the main causes of weak transmissions is voltage drop. Therefore, keep your transceiver as close as possible to your house bank, go one size larger in wire size than is recommended, and charge your batteries just before using the radio. A 100-watt transmitter will draw 8.5 amps whenever you key the mike — that's a bunch if your electrical setup is less than robust.

But kudos to Gordon, as we all owe him big!

Ted Morgan
Tumbleweed, Cal 39
La Paz and Richmond

Ted — In no way do we want to diminish the lifelong contributions of Gordon West, but there are actually five names we think are deserving of recognition.

There is Gordon, who over the years has taught countless cruisers Morse code and their basic SSB radio skills. Then there are Jim Corenman and Stan Honey, who teamed up to create the SailMail system, which has allowed cruisers to stay in contact with friends and loved ones from all around the world via SSB. Jim circumnavigated with his wife Sue aboard their Schumacher 50 Heart of Gold, and knows more about radios than most radio manufacturers. Stan, who also brought us the televised yellow first-down lines on football fields, continues to navigate the fastest boats around the world while staying involved in the most cutting-edge electronics. Then there is Shea Weston of San Diego, who has long been an expert on SSB radio installations and use. We would also be remiss if we didn't mention Northern Californian Don Melcher of HF Radio Onboard, a marine radio retailer who has aided countless cruisers in Northern California with their cruising SSB radio needs.

For those new to SSB radio and heading to Mexico, Gordon will be making a 'Using Marine SSB' presentation at Downwind Marine in San Diego from 5 to 9 p.m. on October 11. It's $25 per person or $30 per couple. We highly recommend it, as using an SSB radio correctly and effectively can be significantly more difficult than using a VHF radio. After the first leg of any Ha-Ha, invariably a couple of folks get on the net and ask for help figuring out how to work their SSB. Gordon can bring you up to speed before you leave San Diego.

On the following day, October 12, Jim and Shea will be giving a seminar on 'Intermediate and Advanced SSB for Email' at the Pt. Loma Assembly Hall in San Diego from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. It's $50 per person or $75 per couple. Once again, we can't recommend this seminar highly enough, as you will be getting the information from the people who know more than anybody.

For more information on Gordon's presentation, contact Downwind Marine. For more information on the Corenman/Weston presentation, go to Weston is also the man to hire to check out your SSB radio installation.


I was glad to see Gordon West's timely primer on SSB communications, but he neglected to mention the optimal times of day when the various frequencies are "open" to long distance communications. Because the ionosphere is in general charged by the sun, higher frequencies (14-30 MHz) are best for long distances when the path of the radio wave is through daylight — if you're thousands of miles from anywhere in the middle of the night, do not expect much of a "bounce" on frequencies of 16 MHz and above. Similarly, lower frequencies (<2-4 MHz) have a much better signal-to-noise ratio at night when solar noise is generally lower — that's why many AM radio stations have to lower their power at night to avoid interference with distant radio stations on the same or nearby frequencies.

Due to statistical variations in atmospheric and solar conditions, there are no hard rules as to which frequency is best to use, but in general 14 to 21 MHz has the best chance for long-distance communications during daylight hours, and 2-4 MHz is best for night. Frequencies above 30 MHz (VHF) are pretty much line-of-sight.

It would be interesting if Gordon would write a follow-up article on radio wave propagation and ionospheric conditions to determine what/when is currently the optimal frequency to use.

Bill Rathbun
Rhumbline, Islander 30 Mk II


You should cancel the Ha-Ha to protest the narco violence in Mexico. The Ha-Ha has some clout to send a message to the Mexican government that they need to have an all-out war against the cartels that are overtaking their country. The terrible incidents down there just keep occurring.

As with the Viet Nam war, large organizations such as the Ha-Ha can write letters to the honchos and say, "We aren't coming down and bringing our money to Mexico until you straighten this out." Or, you can look the other way and say, "It's only happening with the cartel guys and our cruisers will be O.K." That may be true, but it's kinda like saying cruising around Germany during the Holocaust would have been all right because the violence was taking place away from the cruising areas.

The situation is ridiculous, as my wife and I really want to go to Mexico for the first time this season, and are torn about whether to go south or not. As you probably know, some of the cruise lines have cancelled sailings to Puerto Vallarta and other ports because of the violence.

We've gotta wonder when the first Ha-Ha crew will be taken hostage by drug runners who are using ocean routes now that there have been crackdowns on land routes. Are you guys thinking about this?

George Kosta
Planet Earth

George — We're mostly thinking that you don't have a very good handle on the situation. First of all, while Latitude and the Ha-Ha might be a relatively big fish in the very small world of sailing, and Mexican officials welcome our fleet and enjoy hearing our opinions, our influence in the wider world of Mexican tourism is almost infinitesimal. To give you an idea why, the Ha-Ha brings about 600 visitors a year to Cabo San Lucas, while the various airlines bring in about 8,000 a day. So if you're looking for political leverage, you're looking in the wrong place.

Perhaps you're not aware, but the narco death toll in Mexico — and it truly is horrible — is widely attributed to the fact that Mexican President Felipe Calderon decided to declare an all-out war on the drug cartels, making it a mainstay of his six-year presidency. A lot of people think this was a huge mistake in the same way Prohibition in the United States turned out an unwinnable war. But it's hard to say for sure, as Colombia seems to have done a pretty good job of eliminating much of the power of the drug cartels. In any event, we're told that some of the major candidates for next year's presidential election in Mexico have plans to make a big change in policy with regard to the narcos. The policy can be summed up as follows — "If stupid Americans insist on continuing to demand mind-numbing amounts of drugs, we'll let our smugglers do it, as long as they don't kill innocent Mexicans in the process."

Your Holocaust analogy is silly, for it would mean that we should also boycott Oakland, Richmond, San Francisco and just about every major city in the United States. On the contrary, we're proud to sail to Mexico and bring our spending money with us. So many of the people in that country are suffering financially because of the need of so many Americans to get high. It may not be a popular thing to say, but anybody who smokes Mexican weed, or weed grown by Mexicans in U.S. national parks, is supporting the violent Mexican cartels. Indeed, they have blood in their lungs.

Torn about going to Mexico this season? Given all the misinformation that's been disseminated about Mexico in the last couple of years, we can't blame you. But as we've said before, so far narco violence hasn't touched cruisers on the Pacific Coast. We don't expect it to, either, but if it does, we'll be the first to let you know — and get our butts out of there.

There are map charts showing where narco violence has taken place in Mexico, such as at Such maps are both informative and misleading. No doubt you'll be shocked when you first see the map, but if look at the one for Oakland, you'll never go within 100 miles of that city again.

The interesting part of the Mexico map is that it clearly shows how little narco violence there is on the coast. For example, there is almost none anywhere in Baja south of Tijuana and Rosarito Beach. Over on the mainland, there are no coastal problems from San Carlos/Guaymas down to Mazatlan. While most of the 'Mazatlan' violence takes place a little inland where two cartels vie for dominance, killings are way up in the region. If there were one place we'd exercise greater caution on the coast of Mexico than we do in the States, it would be Mazatlan. But south of Mazatlan, past San Blas, and along the Gold Coast of Puerto Vallarta, Tenacatita Bay, Barra, and down to Manzanillo, there is like zilch narco violence. And from Manzanillo down to Zihua, it's also like zilch. The map does show Zihua to be a violence center, but that's misleading. It's true there were 16 murders in the Zihua area last year, which is way down from previous years, but according to cruisers we talked to, they all felt perfectly safe in Zihua, which has been going upscale.

Furthermore, the narco violence hasn't affected cruisers. We spend three to four months a year cruising coastal Mexico, and no matter whether we've been in Cabo, La Paz, Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo or any of the small towns, we've never once felt as threatened as we do almost all the time in many parts of Oakland, San Francisco, Richmond or where our son lives near the Staples Center in downtown L.A. Those places are filled with crazy and violent people! Surely most of the million Americans who live in Mexico — including 30,000 in Puerto Vallarta alone — feel pretty much the same way we do about safety in Mexico.

For what it's worth, Virgin America is initiating nonstop service from San Francisco to both Cabo and Puerto Vallarta in December, so they don't seem to be any more worried than we are.

Why do you think any drug runners would want to take any Ha-Ha crews as hostage? Smugglers like to avoid people, not mingle with them. And if they wanted to get into Somalia-style kidnappings, they'd just carjack Americans as they drove out of the gates of the Four Seasons and other high-end resorts. That way they wouldn't have to worry about boat maintenance, would they?


I would like to put the problem of noise pollution in anchorages before this year's cruising fleet. There are many beautifully calm and quiet evenings to be enjoyed in the beautiful Sea of Cortez and along mainland Mexico — as long as people aren't subjected to the drone of some inconsiderate cruiser's generator. Unfortunately, a small number of cruisers don't seem to care if they ruin a beautiful evening for everyone else.

A Honda 2000 portable generator is bad enough on an otherwise quiet night, but last year there were a couple of big vessels with some of the loudest generators I've heard in my 30 years of cruising. I'm not sure if their generator exhausts had been designed by someone lacking in even the most basic marine engineering skills, but if you happened to be anchored next to them, your evening was almost sure to be ruined by noise pollution. So come on, folks, have a little respect for all the others by toning it down.

One of the biggest drains on electrical power is a boat's refrigerator/freezer. For such systems to be efficient, which means less power demand on your batteries, you need a well-insulated box and an efficient refrigeration system. I know because I've designed, built and installed such systems on cruising boats for 10 years. You'll hear no noise from them! Silence is not only golden, but you'll not need to source as much fuel for the generator or deal with as much maintenance.

We also changed all the lights on our boat to either LED or fluorescent tubes that run directly on 12 volts. In addition, the fans we use are the finger-safe Caframo Model 747s, which pull a measly 0.44 amps and move lots of air.

To power all this, we have a 500-watt solar array that charges a bank of six 6-volt golf cart batteries to give a total of 675 amps at 12 volts. At 50% discharge, it gives us almost 340 usable amps. We get a solid five years out of the batteries before changing them out.

We have a separate starting battery for the engine, and a dual pulley driven 160-amp alternator. The system has been in full-time use for the last 15 years, and even if there is no sun for a couple of days, we hardly ever need to start our little Honda gas genset. If we ever have to run our generator, we scope out the anchorage first, and make sure everyone else is up and around doing their chores before we start making noise.

If we can almost always enjoy onboard life without the use of a generator, you probably can, too. But if you can't afford to switch to a more efficient system, and have to run a noisy generator, please have respect for everyone else by anchoring as far from others as possible and keeping the generator off until well after sunrise and well before sunset.

Mike Wilson
Mexicolder Tropical Yacht Refrigeration

Readers — Anybody want to suggest any 'guidelines' for running generators in anchorages?


Thirty-some-odd years ago, I met Myron and Barbara Campbell at their business, Golden State Diesel, located at little Lani Kai Marina in Oakland. I was an independent marine mechanic, and Myron and Barb helped and coached me in the business. Years went by.

Eventually, I took a break and went cruising for a few years. In '89, I left my boat at Isla de Plata, Venezuela, and flew back to Northern California to refill the cruising kitty. Myron had suffered a heart attack and was on an oxygen bottle then, and they needed help with dockside work. I ended up staying for three months, during which time Myron passed away. So I hung around a bit until Barb managed to find some good help and figure out how to run the business on her own. I eventually flew to my boat, and ultimately sailed her back to the Bay.

Barb has been described as "hard as rocks," "tough as nails" and "sweet as sugar." It was a real hoot to be picking up parts when a male customer would come in and ask to speak to a mechanic about some engine problem. I'd then watch Barb humble the guy with more experience and knowledge of his boat than the guy had. She was always polite, helpful and kind. She was also a woman in a man's business.

Barb passed away on September 7 from complications following heart surgery. It breaks my heart that she's gone, but at least I was lucky enough to be able to visit her in the hospital. A couple of days before she passed, I asked her if she wanted whiskey or bourbon. Even with a breathing tube in her, she managed a smile. Barb didn't think much of drinking.

I'm sure there are still cruisers out there in ports around the world who are friends of both Myron and Barb, and who have many stories to tell. They did such a good job.

As for Barb, I wonder if there are any women out there in the marine industry who will take her place.

Michael Lord
Elsewhere, Van der Vlis 31

Michael — We were sorry to hear about Barbara's passing. She and Myron were long-time advertisers, and many in the Bay Area sailing community shared your feeling that they were truly wonderful people.


I've been in several sailboat partnerships, both in the Bay Area and more recently on Kauai. They all worked out great. These were full partnerships, and not fractional usage arrangements. With a full partnership, everyone is in for the benefits, responsibilities, and expenses. In all cases we had a formal partnership agreement that was drafted by an attorney. The attorney who drafted the original agreement gave us the best advice: "A partnership is no better than the partners!"

Dick Olsen
Staff Commodore
Nawiliwili YC, Kauai


I was involved in a 50/50 equity-based partnership for nine years from '87 to '96. I had small kids and a fairly intense work schedule at the time, so it made sense to seek something other than full ownership, but I wasn't interested in any kind of club chartering arrangement.

I placed an ad in Latitude's Classy Classifieds, and quickly had several responses — and ultimately got together with someone who shared my sailing goals and ambitions. My new partner had a friend who was selling a Cal 3-30, which was a good fit for both of us, so we bought her for cash. The boat was berthed in Alameda, and we were both happy to keep her in the same slip.

Before moving ahead with the partnership, we did two things:

1) We put together a budget to cover berthing, anticipated maintenance costs, insurance and capital expenditures. I became the secretary, and set up a checking account with both of us as signatories. We each put in $150 per month, which today sounds like such a complete bargain. There were only a few occasions when we had to do a modest assessment to cover our costs.

2) We drew up a contract outlining the terms of our partnership and had it reviewed by an attorney to be sure we were not missing anything. To me, the two most important clauses related to how we would divide up the usage of our boat, and what procedure would be followed when one partner wanted to sell his equity interest.

At the end of the year, we would set up usage for the entire new year. Each partner had exclusive use of the boat for one week from Tuesday to the following Monday. If one partner was not going to use the boat during his week, then he was obligated to let the other partner have the boat. This system ended up working extremely well for the duration of our partnership. During the nine years, we only sailed together three times, and one of those was to take the boat to Richmond to have her Atomic 4 engine rebuilt.

Since my partner was more mechanically inclined than I was, he generally took care of those issues and I did the grunt work to keep the boat looking good. There was no formal agreement on this, but we were lucky that each partner was able to do what he most enjoyed. We set up 'work days' about every three months or as necessary to take care of issues requiring both of us. As a result, we had a boat that was in good shape and almost always ready to go.

My overall experience was very positive and worked well for both of us. However, when my kids grew older, I wanted to spend more time on the boat and do some things differently, so the partnership lost a lot of its attraction. I ended up selling my half to my partner's grown kids using the formula outlined in our contract. Everybody walked away happy.

Today I cannot imagine sharing a boat with anyone other than my wife. But now is a different time and place from when a partnership was the right thing to pursue.

By the way, you can count my wife and me among those who love sailing and living in Mexico. Last year we cruised as far south as Zihua and as far north as Puerto Escondido. We loved it and always felt safe. We can't wait for the start of the Ha-Ha to return to those wonderful and warm waters, and the wonderful people of Mexico.

John Foy
Destiny, Catalina 42
Alameda / Punta Mita, Mexico


For two sets of three years each, I had an 'operating partner' in my Triton and then my Ericson 35, both of which I kept moored at the Corinthian YC. Although I continued to cover berthing, taxes and major expenses, in both cases the operating partner covered all operating costs — annual haulout, hull polish, interior upkeep, and so forth. In return, the partners got relatively unlimited use of the boats.

This arrangement was never reduced to paper, but since we were old friends, we never encountered any problems. I wasn't doing any regular long cruises, so use of the boat was primarily for day and weekend sails. From my perspective, this arrangement reduced some of my expenses, while insuring that the boat got used and checked more frequently, since I was living in the East Bay for much of that time.

As I write this, I'm watching my Seawind cat swinging wildly on her mooring while we await the arrival of Hurricane Irene — just downgraded to a tropical storm. I'm a little nervous, since I lost my first East Coast boat, a cold-molded 34-ft sloop, off a mooring in Rockland, Maine, 12 years ago in another tropical storm. Despite our much shorter sailing season here, at least we don't waste a lot of time worrying about earthquakes or tsunamis!

Mike Herz
S.F. Baykeeper, Emeritus
Damariscotta, Maine

Readers — We'll have more letters on boat partnerships in a future issue of Latitude.


After 31 years in the film business, I am looking for a new career. Years ago Latitude ran a piece about actor Humphrey Bogart's 55-ft schooner Santana, which was, other than actress Lauren Bacall, the love of the great actor's life. After she spent many years berthed on the San Francisco waterfront, a new owner bought the vessel and had her refit.

I'm now writing a fictional novel in which Santana plays a significant and crucial part. I am hoping that someone at Latitude recalls the article and can let me know the name of the new owner — and any information regarding her present location.

Although this is a fictional story, I would like to make the details of the vessel as true to fact as possible. In short, the story is the quest of an old man to do something to restore the honor of a long-deceased actor who had a significant role in his development as a young man.

My wife and I have a Mariah 31 on the hard in Puerto Vallarta. Now that I am retired, I'm hoping to get back to Mexico and spend more time on Gertrude.

Harry Lee Utterback
Gertrude, Mariah 31
Puerto Vallarta

Harry — Santana was purchased, restored and is being raced in appropriate events by Paul and Chris Kaplan of KKMI boatyard in Richmond. She couldn't be in better hands, and we're sure Paul would be happy to assist you in finding all the historical information you might want.

Santana wasn't just a plaything for Bogart, as boats are for many actors. In his father's biography, Stephen Bogart writes that Humphrey took the boat sailing an astounding 25 to 45 weekends per year from '45 to '57. Most of the time "stag," as Bogart complained "the problem with dames is they can't pee over the side."

"The sea was my father’s sanity," the younger Bogart wrote. "An actor needs something to stabilize his personality, something to nail down what he really is, not what he is currently pretending to be." Hello, Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan.

Anyway, good luck with your book. Banderas Bay in Puerto Vallarta is, based on personal experience, a fabulous place to live aboard and write. Having been in the film business, you no doubt know that writer/director John Huston used to hide out from Hollywood in the small jungle village to the southwest of Yelapa, which is far to the southwest of any road on Banderas Bay. All this long before anybody had heard of Puerto Vallarta. Huston wrote and directed 37 feature films, including classics such as The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Maltese Falcon, Key Largo, The Asphalt Jungle, The African Queen, Moulin Rouge, and The Misfits, all of which are better than anything you can see in a theater today. Bogart became a star as a result of his role in Sierra Madre, and would play a leading role in many of Huston's films.



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