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December 2011

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I'm writing in response to the "Found: One Rudder" letter that appeared in the November issue. The rudder certainly sounds familiar!

On October 8, we chartered the Hunter 34 Neptune from Spinnaker Sailing in Redwood City. Our original plan was to go out for the weekend, sailing from Redwood City to the Central Bay to enjoy the Fleet Week show, then sail her back to Redwood City.

At 4:15 p.m. on Saturday, just as the Blue Angels performance ended, my four crew and I took off on a beam reach in about 15 knots of wind. We were midway between San Francisco's Pier 35 and the Blossom Rock buoy when, suddenly, Neptune did a violent 360. When we completed the circle, we noticed a blue object in the water, which we deduced was the boat's rudder.

We received great support from the crew of the Diamond Springs-based Seductress, who stood by us for an extended period of time. We also informed the Coast Guard of our situation and made our initial contact with Vessel Assist. Since we weren't taking on water and just drifting toward Berkeley, there was no need to put out a distress call. I did, however, issue a pan pan alert at one point, as a container ship bound for the Estuary was heading straight toward us.

We attempted to use a combination of sails and the engine to 'steer' the Hunter, but were unable to keep her from drifting toward the end of the Berkeley Pier. So at 6 p.m. we deployed the anchor in 20 feet of water. We were about half a mile from the end of the pier at the time.

Between then and when Vessel Assist showed up at 9 p.m., we enjoyed both a magnificent view of The City and wine and cheese. Vessel Assist towed us to Treasure Island, and a friend drove us back to Redwood City.

Spinnaker Sailing in Redwood City was thrilled when Chris delivered Neptune's wayward rudder. Many thanks are due to Chris Hatch and his wife on their new F/P Bahia 46 cat Firefly for retrieving it.

Hans Spanjaart
Charterer of Neptune, Hunter 34
San Jose

Hans — Once the rudder broke, it seems as if everybody did exactly what they should have done. Excellent. The only suggestion we have is that when the container ship was headed your way, it might have been more effective to radio Vessel Traffic Service on 14 rather than issue a pan pan.


In the November 14 'Lectronic, you reported that Jan Anderson of the Sausalito-based Island Packet 380 Triple Stars, a veteran of the '07 Ha-Ha, was swept overboard by a 30-ft wave while participating in the North American Rally to the Caribbean (NARC) rally from Newport, Rhode Island, to St. Martin in the Eastern Caribbean.

Was Jan wearing a PFD? Why did her husband Rob leave the boat adrift? I can understand that he might have been distraught at the loss of his wife, but his boat now presents a dangerous hazard that could kill many other people.

The same is true for Elle, a Beneteau 46 in the same rally. I understand that a crewman was injured, but then the whole crew, not just the injured person, got off the boat and let her drift to be a hazard to others. Yet the photo in 'Lectronic showed no damage, not even to the canvas dodger.

I can understand being scared during a storm at sea. But if you decide to abandon your boat, why not scuttle her? Again, the skippers just created two very hazardous situations. This is wrong and the liability should be huge.

John Stein
Mill Valley

John — At the time of our report, Rob Anderson, obviously very distraught at the loss of his wife, was aboard the 600-ft High Jupiter on its way to Europe, so we have no detailed information about the incident or aftermath.

We can't imagine that Jan hadn't been wearing a PFD, but even if she had, we think it's unlikely that it would have saved her life in such extremely rough cold-water conditions. If you were suddenly alone on a 35-ft boat in 30-ft seas, what do you think your chances would be of being able to follow a loved one who had gone overboard, maneuver your boat to her position, and pull her aboard? 'Slim' and 'none' are two words that come to our mind.

As for not scuttling Triple Stars, we still don't know all the facts. Perhaps the boat had plenty of solar panels to indefinitely power a strobe light at her masthead and running lights, and arrangements were being made to have the boat towed to Bermuda after the storm subsided. Given the fact that Rob had just lost his wife, for chrissakes, and was likely not in the best of mental or physical shape himself, we're willing to cut him some slack.

As for your assertion that the two abandoned boats "could kill many other people," we think that's a stretch. Something like 10,000 containers, not all of which sink, are lost off ships every year, and you're worried about two sailboats, both of which would be highly visible during the day, and both of which presumably had radar reflectors so they could be 'seen' at night? And it's likely that both had solar-powered masthead strobes and/or navigation lights that could work for years.

Further, we're unclear on the scenario you envision in which either of the two boats could "kill many other people." In 35 years of covering sailing, we can't recall a single case of a vessel colliding with an abandoned sailboat and people being seriously injured or killed as a result.

Our sincere condolences to Jan Anderson's husband and family for their loss.


I was reading through the November issue when I came across your interview with Tom Corogan, the 84-year-old sailor from Port Clinton, Ohio, who was about to leave San Diego for Cape Horn aboard his Westsail 32 TLC. It was an interesting story, and I was very happy to read his nice comments about our Monitor windvanes, Scanmar and myself. Thank you very much.

Having read that Corogan attributes his active longevity to eating all the dandelion greens he can, drinking well water, and sleeping with his head pointing north, I checked the orientation of my bed in my home in Tiburon. I sleep with my head pointed north, too! But I don't eat dandelions.

Hans Bernwall


In my opinion, Latitude is the best sailing tome published, bar none. Since the hard copy version of Latitude isn't available in my home sailing territory of Hamilton-Toronto at the western end of Lake Ontario, I look forward to its electronic distribution every month. I usually find the editor's notes and comments astoundingly insightful and accurate.

However, identifying Joshua Slocum as a San Franciscan — in the National Sailing Hall of Fame reporting — rather than a Canadian from Nova Scotia is difficult to accept. I realize that Slocum captained boats out of the Bay Area for a number of years, but he was born and spent the first 16 or so years of his life in the Great Frozen North. We freeze up here for six months of every year, so it would be heartwarming if you would correct this misinformation.

P.S. I've also heard that Jimmy Buffett is a descendent of old Joshua, which would kind of make him an honorary Canadian.

Glenn Madill
After You, Catalina 30
Burlington, Ontario

Glenn — It came as news to us, but yes, Slocum was born in Canada and later became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

What other famous Canadians have there been? There's Alexander Graham Bell, a Scot who moved to Newfoundland at age 23, so we'll call him a Canadian. Although Bell is best known for inventing the telephone, he's also considered to have been one of the most accomplished humans to have walked the earth. Then there are Pamela Anderson and Shannon Tweed, two Canadian women known primarily for their breasts and secondarily for being married to rock 'n rollers. Canada also gave us the AM radio, basketball, the snowmobile, insulin, ginger ale, the zipper, Java, the Blackberry, Jim Carey, Keanu Reeves and Linda Evangelista. And let's not forget Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.

Among the least known Canadians is ultramodest, ultra-accomplished sailor Mike Birch, who is known to a hundred times more French than to Americans and Canadians, but who nevertheless is arguably the equal of Slocum. A pioneer in racing multihulls across the Atlantic, Birch took second in the '76 OSTAR with a tiny 32-ft tri, and two years later won the first Route du Rhum with a 30-ft tri. A little 30-footer, for god's sake. Birch set the 24-hour sailing record 25 years ago by covering 516 miles in the Quebec to St. Malo Race. That was aboard Formula TAG, a catamaran that he built, and which later became more famous for setting an around-the-world record as ENZA.

Birch continued to race many of the great multihulls and even got into racing Open 60s. Now 81 years old, he's long retired and spends his days sitting on a couch looking at the wall. Just kidding! Birch really is 81, but get this, he's not only continued to race at the highest levels of competition all along, but he and Etienne Giroire will be doing next year's Doublehanded TWOstar aboard Francis Joyon's old Eure-et-Loir, one of the fastest and most sensitive 60-ft trimarans ever built. Mike Birch, a Canadian sailor to rank with the immortal Joshua Slocum.


Lee Helm's brief October-issue overview of using moon shots for longitude location was fascinating, but a little too brief to really wrap my mind around. Any chance you could persuade Lee to do a master's thesis on this subject as a step-by-step publication, and feature it in your fine sailing publication? I'm a celestial navigation fan.

Todd Frye
Bonneville School of Sailing

Todd — Lee Helm had the following response to your request:

"Don't you, like, keep all your back issues of Latitude? I explained to Max how my Method of Lunar Position works in much more detail way back in November of '81. That was before I was born, but it just goes to show how long I've been in grad school working on my thesis. And, like, I really, really don't want to start it over on a new topic.

"In case you're a liveaboard and all your Latitude back issues had to be replaced with some denser material that makes better ballast, check out the Wikipedia article on 'Lunar Distance' for the more traditional and more accurate way to find longitude using the relative motion of the moon with respect to the stars and planets. Hey, it worked for Slocum."


There was a very inaccurate piece in the October 31 'Lectronic that attempted to compare the risks of violence in Mexico to those in San Francisco. The writer produced "evidence" that 40 people were shot in San Francisco over that weekend. This is simply not true. I think the author was quoting 'Shotspotter' data, which is audio data of gunshots or firecrackers or cars backfiring — not necessarily gun violence. Shotspotter is a system that triangulates loud noises with a citywide grid of microphones and computers. While it is a significant aid in gun violence investigation, it is no quantitative measure of shooting violence. For details, see

When in Mexico, or anywhere in Central America, staying in the marina is good, not going out at night or alone is better, carrying pepper spray or mace is best, day or night. Exaggerating or misrepresenting California gun violence will not change the fact that Mexico is dangerous, and is in the midst of extreme drug violence and near civil war. Awareness and consideration of relative risks is the first step to good personal self-defense.

I love Latitude, and I will continue to visit Mexican marinas, but I will do so with extreme caution and awareness. Please correct this inaccuracy about California shooting data in the next errata.

John Ragozzino
Cazador, Hunter 43
San Diego

John — We apologize for the Shotspotter piece, which mischaracterized the situation in San Francisco. As you say, Shotspotter gathers data on loud noises, not necessarily gun violence. Though to be fair, the writer did not suggest 40 people were shot, only that 40 'shots' had been reported.

Speaking of loud noise, we hate to say it, but what you're now hearing is Americans and Canadians in Mexico howling with laughter at your assertion that "staying in the marina in Mexico is good, not going out at night or alone is better, carrying pepper spray or mace is best, day or night." With all due respect, we believe those are among the most ignorance-based assertions we've heard in a long time. What marina in Mexico have you been afraid to leave without mace?

As we've reported for the last several months, the cruising areas of the Pacific Coast of Mexico are statistically — as well as in our opinion and that of most other cruisers and Americans in Mexico — safer than almost all big American cities. We've spent a lot of time in coastal Mexico the last bunch of years, and are in Mexico as we write this, and we walk around day and night, without any mace and without any concern for our personal safety. And so does Doña de Mallorca, as do countless other single men and women.

Yes, we understand the terrible narco violence death toll in Mexico and all that, but we're here to tell you that, while we're here in Mexico, we're more afraid of being eaten by a polar bear than we are of being shot in a narco gun battle. We know that's not going to change the minds of people who haven't been down here and are scared out of their wits to come down, but it's the truth. Those people also probably won't believe that in many ways the quality of life is much better in Mexico than it is in the United States. But that's true, too.


If one million Americans living in Mexico is proof — at least to you — that some things in Mexico are better than in the U.S., what does 9.8 million — 6.3 million of them being undocumented — Mexicans living in the U.S. indicate to you?

Nick Salvador
Finn, USA 1109

Nick — It indicates to us that if a government of a wealthy country — the U.S. government, for example — offers money, free food, free housing, free education, free health care, and free voting rights to anyone who asks for it — impoverished people will cross a border to take advantage of it.

In what respects do we believe the quality of life is better in Mexico than the United States? 1) The cruising is better; 2) the coastal weather is better; 3) the people are nicer and don't put money and material goods above everything else; 4) the cost of living is much lower; 5) health care is much more accessible and less expensive; 6) the pace of life is slower; 7) there's better and less expensive local and regional transportation; and 8) coastal Mexico is safer than big cities in the United States.

In the following respects we believe the quality of life is better in the United States: 1) Better educational opportunities; 2) higher wages and more opportunities for entrepreneurs; 3) better specialized medicine for those who can afford it; 4) less trash; and 5) a greater variety of international foods.

So while Mexico may be great for certain groups of people at certain times in their lives, it's not for everyone. Nor is the United States.


I was wondering if Latitude is going to do an article or series on the potential impacts of the tsunami debris field headed our way from Japan following the 9.0 Tohoku earthquake that hit Japan in March. When reports on the debris came up in the news the other day, I was struck by the fact that the only impact they mentioned was what might end up on the beaches. Obviously lots of it will stay out in the ocean.

Is there anybody out there mapping it or trying to understand what and where things are and/or will go? I am trying to imagine the impact on shipping lanes and silly things like boat races, and I'm not coming up with anything good. Could you even sail, much less race, to Hawaii when there's a debris field like that in your way?

My sense is that this is going to be a big story, but our feeble media won't be able to cover it because it doesn't involve celebrities and sex scandals. I can't wait to read what Max and Lee have to say.

Allison Baumhefner
San Rafael

Allison — In addition to the 16,000 lives that were lost in the tsunami in Japan, more than 200,000 buildings were washed out to sea by waves up to 135 feet high. And there have been reports of cars, tractor-trailers, capsized ships and even whole houses making their way east with the current in a flotilla the size of the state of Texas.

Yes, the debris field is being tracked. Estimates vary, but experts say that parts of the flotilla may hit Midway this winter, Hawaii by early '13, and the West Coast of the United States by '14. However, it's expected that much of the initial 20 million tons of debris won't come ashore or even survive on the surface. Large amounts of it will decompose, sink, be ingested — or end up in the whirlpool that's become known as the North Pacific Garbage Patch. Only time will tell.

We're not going to get too excited about all this debris until we get a little more clarity on what might happen. For example, if 25 partially submerged houses from Japan wash up on Midway this winter, we'll be sure to write an article about it.

It's worth remembering that this isn't an isolated case. The great tsunami of '04 also took a tremendous amount of debris out to sea, and to our knowledge that hasn't caused terrible trouble for shipping or fishing. Then, too, after storms on land there is a large amount of debris that floats out into the sea and ends up on nearby shores. When we sailed to Cabo with the Long Beach YC in '93, for example, there was a huge storm down at the Cape that sent entire golf course holes, countless homes and cars, and cattle and cactus into the ocean. And there's always a 'river' of debris as much as 100 miles into the Caribbean Sea coming out from Colombia's Rio Magdalena, littered with trees, logs, dead cattle and what have you. Indeed, we can recall Profligate's hulls straddling some logs while surfing down waves on a passage from Antigua to Panama. That was a little spooky.

The optimist in us believes that it's an almost unimaginably huge ocean between Japan and Hawaii, and that while light stuff will float, the heavy stuff that could do serious damage to hulls will sink before too long. So for right now, we're not going to worry about it.

By the way, we don't think the problem of widespread ignorance is the result of a feeble press, as you suggest, but rather the fact that the majority of people choose to read rubbish rather than stuff with substance. If you want to be more informed and more intelligent six months from now, we suggest that you spend a half-hour each day reading the Financial Times, and an hour reading their more broad-based Weekend edition. And not even for investment purposes. Six months from now you might not know whether the Kim/Kris nuptials were a publicity stunt, but you'll know a whole lot more substantive things about the nation and the world.

Here's a perfect example. Right now there's a sudden uproar about the fact that members of Congress and their staffs are the only people in the United States who can legally engage in insider trading. This wasn't news to us as, about a year ago, the Financial Times published an article about two United States Senators, one Republican and one Democrat, who have spent nearly a decade trying to pass legislation to outlaw the outrageous practice, but who could never enlist the support of their crooked colleagues. And if you don't like FT, read The Economist or a broad selection of international newspapers. The information is out there; people just need to take a little trouble to find and read it.


The November cover of Latitude is a truly great one. It reminds me of sailing with my kids aboard our O'Day Tempest 23 on the Chesapeake 40 years ago. I have sent it to our far-flung gang.

Latitude is one of my three favorite magazines.

John Morgan

John — Thanks for the kind words. We loved the cover too, so we were surprised to get a letter from one reader who said that while the cover was "cute," it wasn't as "breathtaking" as the ones of boats. We love seeing people with smiles on their faces, we love kids, and we love sailing, so choosing that cover was a no-brainer for us.


We also had a very close encounter with the two Oracle AC45s on San Francisco Bay. They passed very close to us while we were on a starboard reach and they were on port. But the biggest problem is that one of their chase boats came within a few feet of ramming us. If we hadn't yelled at them, they definitely would have hit us amidships. As nice as the people on the Oracle team might be, they need to know that they don't have exclusive rights to the Bay, and they need to consider safety.

Barry Foster & Kathy Crabtree
Tinuviel, True North 34

Barry and Kathy — We're pretty sure that nobody on the Oracle America's Cup team thinks they have exclusive rights to the Bay, and we're equally certain they take safety very seriously. On their behalf, we apologize for your getting a fright from a chase boat.

It's unfortunate that a health issue prevented you from participating in the Ha-Ha, for among other things you could have learned how different the 'comfort zones' are for different sailors. For example, we overheard a conversation in which one skipper advised another that he'd come within half a mile of him, and that was too close for comfort. We don't believe we made a comment on the radio, but we thought to ourselves, "Half a mile? In sailing that's the equivalent of about halfway around the world." Then we realized that maybe we've raced too much, and it might only seem like a really large separation to us.

Maybe boats sailing the Bay when America's Cup boats are around should signify the distance of their comfort zone with a number on the bow. As in '50' for 50 feet, '100' for 100 feet, '200' for 200 feet and so on. We'd put a '5' on the bow of Profligate. We've got that much confidence in the crews of the AC45s and think it would be so much fun to have them sail so close. Besides, when you drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, you pass within about 10 feet of cars coming at you at a combined speed of about 120 mph. And the drivers are often texting, looking at a map, or otherwise not paying attention.


My father Joe and oldest brother Pat came down from Idaho and Washington to spend a week sailing from Stockton to the Bay with me, visiting all the stops we could, and all along buddyboating with Dave and Kathy Gladden on their Cal 2-25 Idaho.

After our first night on the Bay, which featured a broken head and repairs needing to be made the next morning, we headed for the buoy about a mile outside the Gate for a spinnaker run under the Golden Gate Bridge and along the San Francisco Cityfront. On our way, we noticed two of the AC45s — easily recognizable with their black square-top sails — being towed by Pier 39. "Wow!" we thought to ourselves, "wouldn't it be cool if they sailed by us?"

The two AC45s were towed just outside the Bridge, took a few minutes to get everything ready — and then took off like the rockets they are! They not only came by us, at one point they went on either side of us and one sailed between us and the Gladdens. As they passed about 30 feet from us, we were so busy hooting and hollering that we almost forgot to take photos. But we did get waves from some of the crew as they flew by.

Among the five of us on the two boats, we did manage to get some evidence that our story is true. One picture taken by Dave Gladden was of their first pass from under the Golden Gate. That's us on my Cal 2-27 Sweets 3 living one of the best days I've ever had on the water, and certainly the highlight of my week.

Along with spending about four hours with the AC45s, which covered every corner of the Central Bay — and came really close twice — we enjoyed a great and relaxing sail on gorgeous San Francisco Bay in the middle of October.

Don Quinly
Sweets 3, Cal 2-27
Stockton Sailing Club


We know you're busy, but October 21 on the Bay was just too good not to share. We were out on Grimsby, our Cal 39, with our friends Jack and Maria Caffey. It was a gloriously warm late October day, with about 10 to 12 knots of breeze. As we sailed between Alcatraz and Angel Island, we saw the AC45s being towed out. We got some great pictures when they started sailing, too.

Then, as we were reaching across the Bay toward the Cityfront, they came up behind us on the same point of sail. They blasted past us, close on either side! We were so excited that we didn't get any photos. They were so close that we could hear the whine/hum of their rigs. Greg and one of the helmsmen exchanged salutes.

It was an exciting day to add to our stash of golden sailing memories!

Val & Greg Gillen
Grimsby, Cal 39
Los Altos


I was a little surprised at the editor's dismay at Governor Jerry Brown's veto of the mandatory helmet law for snowboarders and skiers under 18. What would the reaction be if the proposed law were to mandate wearing safety helmets at all times when sailing? After all, a boom to the head could be quite dangerous. I'm sure insurance companies and the manufacturers of safety helmets would support it.

Charlie Wilson
Planet Earth

Charlie — In our opinion you're trying to compare a significant problem to a nearly insignificant one. In the case of young snowboarders and skiers, whacking one's head on a hard surface — the ground, a tree, a tower base, or someone else's skull, isn't uncommon. Getting hit hard in the head with a boom — which can certainly be lethal — just isn't that common.


We want to give the Richmond YC a big thumbs up for having a 'Deadhead' theme to their famous Great Pumpkin Regatta. In these days of real pirates kidnapping and killing cruisers on a regular basis, it's hard for many of us to find 'pirate' themes cute anymore. Deadheads, on the other hand, have always been fun and playful. Give the Richmond YC folks a hug for us, will you?

Rod & Elisabeth Lambert
Proximity, Swan 41
Currently in Whangarei, New Zealand

Rod and Elisabeth — Consider it done.


I saw your 'Lectronic article about the demise of Leading Lady. A sad end for sure. I owned Leading Lady from '80 to '82, at which time I sold my interest to Bob Klein. A Doug Peterson-designed custom Two Tonner, Leading Lady was quite the boat in her day, which was the heyday of the International Offshore Rule (IOR). We sailed her to victory in the St. Francis YC Big Boat Series, the Danforth Series and our YRA division.

But perhaps Leading Lady's biggest victory came when we took her to San Diego in '80 to challenge the San Diego YC for the San Francisco Perpetual Challenge Cup. This venerable Cup had been held by San Diego YC for the previous five years, and they were determined to keep it. We put together an all-star team with Tom Blackaller as skipper, and Steve Taft, Doug Holm, John Ravizza, Tad Lacey, Skip Stevely, Mark Mamar, Ken Gardner, my boat partner Stan Reisch, and myself as crew. San Diego YC, as was permitted under the rules, brought two boats to the starting line for this match race. Their first boat was Forte, their heavy-weather choice, skippered by Malin Burnham. Their second boat was Dust'em, their light-air boat, skippered by Robbie Haines.

Just before the warning signal, they elected to go with their light air boat Dust 'em. After all, we were racing in San Diego, a venue notable for light air. But their choice turned out to be a mistake, as the wind came up after the start and blew between 13 and 18 knots for most of the race. Having been optimized for racing on windy San Francisco Bay, Leading Lady just loved the stronger than usual conditions in San Diego. As I recall, we even shifted down to our #2 jib for the last leg. Able to sail higher and faster, we led the entire race, and the final margin of victory was in excess of two minutes.

But the fun didn't end when we crossed the finish line, for on the way back to the San Diego YC for the victory celebration, we came across a boat full of Pacific Southwest Airlines flight attendants who were having a bachelorette party for one of their group. They were all in bikinis and looking for some male company. We happily obliged, and about two-thirds of our happy crew jumped ship and got on the girls' boat. Those of us who had wives waiting for us at the dock thought better of that idea and brought Leading Lady back in. However, one of the flight attendants came on Leading Lady, and Steve Taft promptly tied her to the rigging. We were quite the sight when the two boats arrived at the San Diego YC ready to celebrate our victory.

Leading Lady was a great IOR boat, but that was as far as it went. Once the IOR rule — which favored bumped-out beams and pinched sterns — faded into history, so did she. Leading Lady's typical IOR shape allowed her to sail fast to the rule, but made her a beast downwind. Even the great Blackaller had trouble controlling her on a run. In fact, I remember a windy race on the Bay when Tom drove her into such a hard round-down that the tip of the top spreader of our three-speader rig broke.

I have many fond memories of my racing days on Leading Lady. May she rest in peace.

Bruce Munro
Princess, Sabre 402
St. Francis YC

Bruce — Although we weren't there, we well remember the reports of Leading Lady's victory and party in San Diego. For younger readers to better understand the significance of hooking up with a bunch of PSA stewardesses on San Diego Bay, we need to remind everyone what flying was like back in '80s. There were no security checks and not many rules back then. If you were running late, you just abandoned your rental car in front of the terminal, sprinted down to your gate with whatever bags you had, and dashed onto the plane seconds before it pulled away from the gate. If you were flying PSA, it was your lucky day, because almost all the stewardesses were about 20, cute and fun-loving. Furthermore, they were decked out in Swingin' Sixties mod outfits with the shortest of skirts and go-go boots. If it was a late afternoon or evening flight, by the time the plane was halfway to San Francisco, the stewardesses would have usually congregated in the back of the plane where everyone would smoke, drink and flirt like there was no tomorrow. PSA even had a couple of L-1011 wide-bodies equipped with stand-up bars. Flying was fun back then. A lot more fun than trying to drive an IOR boat on a run from the Farallones.

If you'll indulge us on another trip down memory lane, your Leading Lady story reminds us of an even greater match racing upset in that same era. We can't remember what trophy was being competed for, but it pitted Dave Allen's world-conquering Holland 40 Imp from the San Francisco YC against Les Harlander's black-hulled Richmond YC-based production built C&C 40 Mirage on the Central Bay. As expected, Imp and her all-star crew pulled out to an early and comfortable lead in what looked to be a not-very-exciting race. But Mirage somehow managed to always stay within shouting distance. Then, at the start of the last windward leg to the finish line, the wind came up strong. Although overpowered, the much stiffer Mirage could sail higher and faster than the even more overpowered Imp. With not enough time to change to a smaller headsail, all the Imp crew could do was watch as the production boat and boys from the "lesser" Richmond YC rolled 'em to take the trophy. As we recall, even the winners could hardly believe what had happened.


While reading the October 14 edition of 'Lectronic, I learned of the imminent demise of Leading Lady, the Peterson 40 that my late husband Bob co-owned and then owned outright for a number of years. As I recently sat in Bob's office, I could look up on the wall and see many photos of Leading Lady and her dear crew.

Latitude may not know that I donated Leading Lady to the California Maritime Academy in '94 after Bob died. After all, a used IOR war horse couldn't have brought her worth in resale, and being aluminum, she needed TLC. I liked the idea that the Maritime Academy is located where the freshwater of California's major rivers flow into the Bay, as it might be easier on her aluminum hull. Alas, the midshipmen wanted her closer to the racing venues, which meant the salty waters of the Berkeley Marina became her new home.

Many a young sailor, a few of them female, such as the champion Liz Baylis, honed their sailing skills under Bob's genial — except on the race course — guidance. Yes, Bob was a hard-driving racer, but he also justly deserved the affectionate nickname of 'Big Daddy'.

We bought Lady from Stanley Reich, her original owner. To make the price 'right', Stanley was invited to come along for the first few races of Bob's ownership. Mike Trimbel, our great foredeckman, loved to tell the story of a dreadful ocean race -— probably a Drakes Bay Race — when the wind fell so light that it was dawn before Lady finally crossed the finish line in front of the St. Francis YC. Mike starting packing the spinnaker down below near where Stanley had enjoyed a good night's sleep.

"Have we finished?" Stanley asked.

"Yes," Mike answered wearily.

"Good," said Stanley, stretching from his comfortable night of sleep. "We on Leading Lady aren't quitters."

Doris Klein
Bay Area


A couple of months ago we had a flare demonstration at Oakland Marinas as part of our annual BBQ, and I thought readers might be interested in the results. The demonstration uncovered several surprises. The first was that about one-third of the mariners present had never fired a flare of any kind. The second was that about half of the outdated flare gun shells were duds. So maybe those expiration dates really do mean something!

The biggest eye-opener was realizing, after setting off a bunch of small handheld flares and shooting small flare guns, how not particularly visible they were during the day. They weren't that bright and didn't stay in the air that long. If that's all you had and you wanted to be seen, you'd need to have a bunch of them and fire them off at 10-second intervals.

After being underwhelmed by the smaller flares, we fired off the big gun with a hand-held parachute flare. What a huge difference! That thing had a real kick, and flew about twice as high in the air as the smaller ones. It was way more visible, too, as it hung in the air much longer. It's true that the larger flares cost about $40 each but, for my money, I would rather have a couple of these than a box of the little guys. I’d love to hear comments from other boaters.

Chris McKay
Marina Manager, Oakland Marinas

Chris — To be fair to the flare manufacturers, different flares are designed for different purposes. If someone is looking for you and you want to be seen, there is no substitute for the largest parachute flares.


Fucking brilliant! That's our reaction to your reaction to being 'denounced' by some unknown person(s) to Mexico's Department of Migracion for putting on the Ha-Ha.

We're reminded of the adage ascribed to the Buddha in which he teaches us that "there is no problem from which we cannot simply walk away." I suspect that Buddha would be onboard for sailing, too.

If 'they' ever get you down, know that at least one family thanks you for your 'work' in Mexico. My son's life, for example, will forever be enriched by our time in Mexico, which was inspired by the Poobah and the Latitude staff. See you at Ha-Ha 21 for another lap!

Burke, Kacey & Quinn Stancill
Isis, Allied Princess 36
Piers Island, B.C.

Burke, Kacey and Quinn — Thanks for the nice words. We suppose that we believe in a modified kind of Buddhism — we think there are problems that you can't and shouldn't walk away from. For example, we believe it's important to stand firm against bullies and corruption, even if you have to sacrifice to do it. If we and others don't, the results are devastating for all of society. It doesn't mean you go looking for trouble, but it does mean that you shouldn't be intimidated into abandoning basic human principles.

For those who didn't read the November 9 'Lectronic item that your letter refers to, it read as follows:

Hating the Grand Poobah and the Ha-Ha

November 9, 2011 — Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S.

Shortly before the start of the Ha-Ha, we mentioned that there are certain people who appear to be obsessed with hating the event and/or the Grand Poobah. Those who doubted us should have been at the Baja Cantina Beach Party for the Ha-Ha fleet last Friday. As we were getting set to be the target of the 'Anti-Authoritarian Water Balloon Attack on the Poobah', one of this year's new events, we were visited by three officials from Migracion. Over the course of the next hour, they informed us that we were the subject of a denunciation by person or persons unknown, and that we would have to be present for an investigation the following Monday. It was unfortunate, because it meant the water balloon attack on us had to be rushed so the Ha-Ha group could clear the area for a previously scheduled wedding. But that's life.

We showed up on time at Migracion on Monday, accompanied by the General Manager and Manager of IGY's Cabo San Lucas Marina, and Ismael of Baja Cantina. Victor, the Cabo ship's agent, had hoped to be there also, but had pressing business at the last minute that prevented it. It was no big deal, as we were only allowed to see the administrator handling the case with a translator, Enrique Rivera, and a friend, who was Ismael. The administrator showed us the denunciation against us, which was about 20 pages long, and clearly took lots of time and money to put together. It accused the Poobah of working illegally in Mexico, and the Ha-Ha fleet of leaving the beaches of Mexico filthy, polluting the water with oil, and generally being about the worst curse to ever befall Mexico.

When we asked who had filed the denunciation, the administrator said it had been done by a front organization, which meant the identity of the real person making the attack can never be found. "I can tell you that it was filed in Ensenada," said the administrator, "and could have been done by a Mexican or even some angry American."

Anyway, the administrator allowed us to give our side of the story, which was that all Ha-Ha activities in Mexico are put on by Mexican businesses, and that the Poobah and Ha-Ha in no way profit from them. To back this up, we showed the administrator photos of the Poobah with the smiling Mayor of Turtle Bay, and with the Port Captain and Immigration heads in San Carlos, who had come up to Bahia Santa Maria specifically to clear Ha-Ha boats into Mexico. We also explained that it was one of the top priorities of the Ha-Ha to leave all beaches cleaner than we found them, and that any coward who made accusations to the contrary was either ignorant or a liar.

It was a meeting that went on for several hours, mostly in Spanish, and was very educational. The administrator explained that anyone in Mexico can file an anonymous denunciation against anyone else, and it was Migracion's responsibility to investigate. When we asked him if they got many, he pointed to the file cabinet behind him and rolled his eyes. He said it was not uncommon for Americans to file them against other Americans. When we later left the building, we noticed a post office-like box where people could drop off denunciations.

We found the administrator to be extremely competent. He took the charges in the denunciation seriously, but he also took our responses to the accusations every bit as seriously. By the time it was all over, he had created a three-page single-spaced document that would have taken someone in the U.S. courts a month to create. It stated his finding, which was that we hadn't polluted, and that we hadn't collected money in Mexico, but that we had been in a small technical violation because we didn't have 'MC of beach events' on the back of our FM3 visa.

When the administrator said there was going to be a small fine because we were in a small technical violation of the law, it was a tie between Enrique and Ismael to see who could first say who was going to pay for it on behalf of the Ha-Ha and the Poobah. The amount of the fine will be determined later, but the administrator said it would probably be somewhere in the range of $100-$300. It didn't make any difference to him if the fine was going to be paid by the marina and/or Baja Cantina. Further, he thanked the Poobah and the Ha-Ha for all we have done for Mexico. He pointed out that our FM3 needed to be updated by December, and that if we added party host for Ha-Ha on the back, we would have no similar trouble in the future.

Hate usually pays poor returns. In this case, whoever went to all the time and expense of trying to get us and the Ha-Ha in trouble with the Mexican authorities came out the big loser. A lot of psych experts contend that hate is both a cry for help by insecure people and the externalization of some amount of self-hatred. We don't know about any of that, but we do know that for less than $10 you can buy a Zen garden that will fit nicely on most chart tables. And we know that working the sands of one's garden is much more productive than becoming the slave of others by virtue of hating them. Peace."


I'm really appalled that some person(s) filed a denunciation against the Grand Poobah, and that Migracion even went to the trouble of dragging you into their office. The Ha-Ha is a great program, and the worst that is leftover is the carnage from the water balloon fight with the fleet's kids — mine included.

What struck me as funny is where the denunciation was made — Ensenada. I was there two weeks before delivering Concordia back to the States. It was the most disgusting port that I've seen in a long time. There was floating garbage, murky water — I even saw the body of a dead pit bull lying under the stern of a boat on the rails.

Keep up the great work. If you need to pass the hat around to pay your 'fine', I'll chip in.

Craig Moyle
Concordia, Cape North 43

Craig — Thanks for the support. A couple of thoughts: 1) Migracion was just doing their job, and we thought the administrator was fair; 2) As we told the administrator, we are delighted to be guests in Mexico, so we're naturally happy to comply with all their laws; 3) The Ha-Ha always uses biodegradeable water balloons, and our normal policy is that when the throwing is over, we recruit all the participating kids to help pick up the bits, even if they are biodegradable; 4) As for Ensenada, it's a busy commercial port, and like much of Mexico, they are still getting the hang of the clean environment thing.


As a lifelong sailor, I’ve enjoyed Latitude for many years, and would like to share an interesting experience with your readers.

We departed San Diego three days after the Ha-Ha, and arrived in Cabo two days before the first Ha-Ha arrivals. It seems my 1,000-hp downwind 'sails' did very well on this trip. Actually, my sportfishing boat Koulakani caught up with the Ha-Ha fleet in Bahia Santa Maria, where we anchored off Profligate's beam. We certainly enjoyed the Ha-Ha beach activities, and want to thank the Grand Poobah for including us in the fun of the well-organized event.

The real purpose of this letter is to forward a photo of the Mexican Navy boarding Koulakani in calm waters 30 miles south of Ensenada. As you can see, the sailors were heavily armed and at least one of them wore a mask to hide his identity. Once we were boarded, it was much like the U.S. Coast Guard inspections I have undergone in my 45 years of sailing — but with a special twist. As they came alongside, our main fresh water line ruptured in the 100-degree engine room. Without asking, one of their professional and efficient crew asked for some tools and some replacement hose. Then he made the repairs for us! After accepting a soda and our thanks, they quickly got underway again.

This is just one small example of the kindness and consideration extended to me by our neighbors to the south. Koulakani will enjoy another season of fishing the Sea of Cortez, and will continue to enjoy the hospitality extended by the people and government of Mexico.

Art Dunn, owner
Jim Perell, Tony Albano, & Gary Wellwood, crew
Koulakani, Ocean Alexander 48

Art and Crew — Thanks for the kind words. Your view of the Mexican Navy and of the Mexican people is the same as ours. We West Coast mariners are so lucky to have a place like Mexico so close.


We're totally up for your idea of a SoCal Ha-Ha from Santa Barbara to Newport Beach with stops at Santa Cruz Island, Paradise Cove, Redondo Beach, Two Harbors and Newport Beach. It would be a great warm-up for the real Ha-Ha, which we plan to do next year. I don't think you'd have any trouble getting 30 boatowners interested.

Ron Betzing
Desperado, Catalina 42
San Diego


I usually read every issue of Latitude thoroughly, but I missed the apparently obscure mention of a possible SoCal Ha-Ha. Just do it! I have no doubt you could get the minimum of 30 boats. In fact, I think you could probably get almost that many from San Diego alone.

So many of us would love to do the Baja Ha-Ha, but are unable to for a number of reasons — time and the Bash back being two of them. But a two-week cruise of the best cruising areas on the West Coast, such as you have described, would be great. The start would be easily be accessible from most California marinas in two days, allowing for your suggested 10-day cruise from Santa Barbara to Newport Beach to be completed in a typical two-week vacation span. Plus it would be a great opportunity to explore and appreciate one of our unique National Parks.

You said that you "may not need another sailing event," but we do. To steal a line from Steve Jobs, it would be a cruise "for the rest of us."

Nat Antler
Natiki, Catalina 320
San Diego


I would be interested in participating in a SoCal Ha-Ha. As a Bay Area resident and working stiff with minimum time off, I could get onboard with this event.

Andy Smith
Tilligo, Union 36
Coyote Point Marina

Andy — The only caution we would give you is that unless you have time to wait for a weather window coming back north along the Central Coast, it can be a rough trip back to San Francisco.


We would love to do the SoCal Ha-Ha — but please, please, please allow boats as small as 25 feet! We understand the rationale for the Baja Ha-Ha requiring boats of at least 27 feet, but for our local Southern California cruising, a well-found 25-footer with a reasonably experienced crew should be more than adequate and able to keep up.

An example of a suitable vessel might be a Catalina 250, with a solid lead keel and an outboard with an alternator. She would be appropriately equipped for local cruising with a VHF, GPS, two anchors, enclosed marine head with holding tank, fresh water system, stove, ice chest, BBQ, charts, dinghy with outboard, and a whisker pole or cruising spinnaker. She can motor at 5.5 knots and sail about the same speed in a reasonable breeze.

I would suggest that the profile of a "reasonably experienced crew" might be a couple who, although never having done any real cruising, have sailed on and off in Southern California for some 25 years, have previously owned three other sailboats — a MacGregor 25, a Cal 34 and a Catalina 30 — have sailed out of nearly all of Southern California’s harbors, have been to many of the Channel Islands, and years ago made an extended coastal cruise from Marina del Rey to Princess Louisa Inlet in Canada and back, anchoring most nights along the coast.

In addition, the profile may happen to include sailing in San Francisco Bay and in the Delta — and hoping to sign up for the next Delta Doo Dah — and sailing in Lake Tahoe. If boat speed were an issue, such a couple would be glad to leave early when needed, and would motor when necessary to keep up. This couple might even have been dreaming of doing the Baja Ha-Ha ever since reading about the first ones in Latitude, and may be getting closer to a point in their lives where it’s feasible.

As luck would have it, we do happen to know of a vessel as described above — ours — and a couple that meets the profile — us. Submitted with high hopes and fingers crossed!

Don & Linda Murphy
It’ll Do, Catalina 250

Don and Linda — You say that you've never done any "real cruising" but you sailed from Southern California to beautiful Princess Louisa Inlet in Canada and back? If that isn't 'real' cruising, we don't what would be. The Baja Ha-Ha sometimes gives special dispensation to owners of boats less than 27 feet. We've allowed a couple of 24-footers and one 20-footer. Given your experience, you'd have no trouble making the SoCal Ha-Ha, assuming we decide to go ahead with it.


I recently joined the board of the Channel Islands YC, which is really trying to build up both the club and our harbor. Having learned that you are considering starting a SoCal Ha-Ha, I'm wondering if you might consider starting the event at Channel Islands Harbor or at least including our venue in your event.

I know that Santa Barbara, which you mentioned as a possible starting point, can get quite crowded, while here at Channel Islands we have many open slips. Because of the good turning basin, nice yacht clubs, and several new restaurants, Channel Islands is a real sailor's harbor. The Channel Islands Marina has all brand new slips and we're working with them to promote their marina, too.

Dan Jordan
Channel Islands YC

Dan — We're quite familiar with Channel Islands Harbor because, until a few years ago, it was home to one of the few facilities in California that was able to haul a cat with a 30-ft beam.

We're mulling over the SoCal Ha-Ha concept, and trying to determine whether there would be too many obstacles in putting on such an event in California. But given your interest and open space, if we go ahead, we'll certainly try to include you.


I think a SoCal Ha-Ha is a great idea! I'm a member of the Ventura YC, and have been sailing out to Santa Cruz Island and points south for over 30 years. I sail a J/30, and your suggested itinerary sounds wonderful. I know at least 10 boats from Ventura YC alone that would join a cruise of this type. It's such a great idea that I hope it can happen.

Larry Thompson
Lotta Zuma, J/30

Larry — Based on the letters we've published and others, we're going to make some phone calls in December and see what kind of obstacles there might be to hosting such an event.


I'm researching a Ted Brewer-designed sailboat that I'm very interested in, and based on a photo of her with the Golden Gate in the background, you might know something about her. I wonder if any of your readers know where she was built, how she sails, and so forth.

Gerald S. Pajon

Gerald — Unless we're mistaken, she's Millenium Falcon, a 60-ft Brewer three-masted schooner that Alameda's Michael Ganahl and Leslie Hardy sailed in the '00 and '06 Ha-Ha's. We're not sure if they still own the boat, but if they or anyone else wants to share information with you, they can reach you via email.


I wouldn't be so sure when Latitude says that a Canadian boat passing through California might not be assessed personal property tax. Several years ago I talked to a couple who had two boats, one in the Northwest and one in Florida. They sold the one here and brought the Florida boat around.

They happened to be in California on inventory day, and were assessed the tax. They hired an attorney to fight the county that had assessed the tax. I'm told that the attorney eventually gave the retainer back, saying that while he was sure he could win the case, he was shocked that he still wouldn't be able to get their $6,000 back.

The Northwest Marine Trade Association (NMTA) has made things a little friendlier in Washington, but still believes the state needs to do more. In the meantime, someone better know the visitor permit rules and not be in the state a single extra day, unless they have paid sales tax/use tax somewhere. Or they will end up like the nice couple from the Midwest whom I met when we were both in Silva Bay, British Columbia this summer. They ended up having to pay $80,000 in sales tax and $4,000 per year registration to keep their boat in Washington.

Pacific Northwest

D.B. — A call to Tim Ashdown at the Marin County Assessor's Office answered the question of whether transient boats in California waters on January 1 would be assessed a personal property tax. "In general, the answer is going to be no," he said. "It's possible they might get contacted by a county assessor asking them to fill out a questionnaire about their intent with regard to the boat, but simply passing through would not make them eligible for the tax."

Since your friends were in California on January 1, we'd guess that they were waiting till spring to move the boat north, and had signed on as long-term renters at a marina. If they were in the same marina for several months, it's likely they were added to the marina's tenant roster, which is sent to the county each January 1.

Washington's rules are much more clear-cut: visiting boats are allowed to be in state waters for 180 days, regardless of the time of year (though visitor permits are required after just 60 days). If you haven't filed for an extension by your 181st day, you can be slapped with a hefty tax.


I met the Wanderer a few months ago while I was a rigger at the West Marine store in Alameda. As I told you was going to happen, I transferred to San Diego to become a rigger at the West Marine store down here. Naturally I brought our Lagoon 47 with us. Is Profligate's old mainsail still available for $1? I haven't thought of any immediate ideas for it on my Lagoon 47, but they'll come.

Jason Hudson
Excellent Adventure, Lagoon 47
San Diego

Jason — We got a lot of calls about that sail, and it was gone the next day. But trust us, an 11-year-old totally worn out Spectra sail has no use on a 47-ft cat. For one thing, it weighed 250 lbs, and even when 'bricked' took up a large amount of space.

The downside of sails made with Spectra and other high-tech materials is that once they're shot, they are worthless. Dacron sails are a different story. They may not have as good a shape as in the beginning, but you can get some use out of them for a long, long time. For instance, right before the Ha-Ha, Patrick Hughes of the 65-ft schooner Patricia Belle told us his main was first used on a 12 Meter 50 years ago!


I had to chuckle seeing your ad in 'Lectronic to sell Profligate's old mainsail, 'where is, as is', for $1.

I think it was '07 when I was one of the crew on Profligate for the Banderas Bay Regatta. After trying everything I knew about main sail trim, and beginning to irritate the skipper with suggestions, I turned to Kimball Livingston, who was standing next to me, and asked him his opinion of what we could do to go faster. He gave me a calm, level look and said, with just a touch of disgust in his voice, "That mainsail and I have no relationship." I don't suppose that Kimball sent you an email to volunteer to pick up the sail for some sort of reconciliation!

Have a great Ha-Ha this year and congrats on a new main — I look forward to reading about your new blinding upwind speed.

Craig Alger
Page One, Beneteau First 42
Emery Cove / Chico

Craig — We love Kimball and his sense of humor, even though we know in this case he was serious.

Oddly enough, we've always been as loyal to our sails as we have been to our boats. We know that the old main hadn't been looking too good the last couple of years — mildew is rarely a good look — nevertheless we remained very fond of her. And the more snide comments people and crew made about her shape and color, the more we wanted to stand by her and get another passage or race out of her.

It's true that when we put the brilliant white new Quantum main on in San Diego, we were happy. But not that happy. The shape and fit were great, and the sail was so white that we needed shades. But we didn't have a relationship with her as we'd had with our old main, which had been rolled up in a brick on the dock. We've now sailed 1,000 miles with the new main and are really happy with it, but the emotional bonds are just beginning to grow.

When we bought the Olson 30 that has become La Gamelle, she had a well-worn Dacron main bent on, but also a nearly new North Gatorback main in a roll. For reasons we can't explain, we sailed the whole summer with that beat up old main, and didn't use the good one once. What's more, we even had Kame Richards at Pineapple Sails build a new #4 so we had a sail that we could roll up on the new Harken furler. But we'd become so attached to the half-shredded old #4 that couldn't roll because of its horizontal battens, that we still haven't put on the new Pineapple headsail or used the roller furling. Weird, don't you think?

Anybody else have similar 'issues' parting with their old sails? Any shrinks — amateur or otherwise — want to take a crack at an explanation?


Since you happened to mention From Here to Eternity, one of my favorite movies, in your November 9 'Lectronic, I thought I'd bring a very minor error to your attention. The late Deborah Kerr’s character was actually named Karen Holmes, the neglected wife of Capt. Dana 'Dynamite' Holmes, the corrupt and vindictive company commander. Prewitt was the late Montgomery Cliff’s character. His girl was dance hall hostess — whore in the novel — Alma 'Lorene' Burke, played by the late Donna Reed of It's a Wonderful Life fame.

More to the point, the movie is fiction. The couples in the Ha-Ha's Here to Eternity Kissing contest are really living, and that's what counts.

Marc Garcia
Solla Sollew, Catalina 36
San Buenaventura

Marc — Oops, sorry about the mistake. Published in '52, From Here to Eternity was the debut novel of James Jones, and frequently appears on the list of the top novels of the 20th Century. It's a great read, although one that can't be fully appreciated until you've actually participated in the kissing contest inspired by the movie made about the book.


We recently made an improvement to our Wyliecat 48 Ahava that we thought might be of interest to Latitude readers. As we have more and more young sailing guests — also known as grandchildren — on the boat, we were looking for ways to increase safety in the cockpit. We felt that the very long main sheets were passing very close to the person at the helm, so we were looking for ways to move them up and away. We summoned our ever so loyal boat designer Tom Wylie of Wylie Design Group for solutions.

One obvious solution would be placing the main sheet blocks on top of a bridge over the cockpit, something seen on many other production boats. When we reviewed Tom's proposal for such a structure, we didn't like the aesthetics or the hefty price tag. So it was back to the drawing board.

Tom next came up with an 'aft post for mainsheet blocks' solution that achieved all we wanted, and at a reasonable price. It is minimally protrusive and not at all obtrusive, as one can barely see it from distance. In spite of its phallic appearance, the femininity of Ahava has been clearly preserved.

We are not aware of any official nautical name for an 'aft post for mainsheet blocks', so we'd like to propose the shorter name 'stroongy' for this type of an appendage. This has no specific meaning, but sounds sweet and endearing. "Hey, Mike, have you seen my gloves?" "Yes, just saw them right next to the stroongy."

Mike Katz
Ahava, Wyliecat 48


I was trying to follow the Ha-Ha fleet on SSB, but didn't know what channel you were on or at what time. I did follow Profligate's Spot Messenger position reports on the internet, and finally figured out that you had roll call on SSB Channel 4A at 7:30 a.m.

I was able to listen in from our mile-high home in Arizona just 150 miles from the Sea of Cortez. I can't transmit on that marine band frequency, but can listen in and did. I then reported the Ha-Ha progress every day on the Sonrisa Net (3968, 3965, 3972 etc. kHz)

The background noise you might have heard at times during the Ha-Ha net was from the Amigo Net on 4B (4149 kHz), as there could have been a little bleed-over from your 4A (4146 kHz). You may want to consider 4C (4417 kHz) next year to provide more separation and better transmission and reception for the fleet.

You may also want to consider a brief Ham band net check-in with the Sonrisa Net, as many other cruising boats and land-based radios monitor it for emergencies, weather and local conditions. The Sonrisa Net schedule can be picked up off the internet.

Bob Norquist
M/V DarkSide
Sierra Vista, AZ

Bob — Thanks for the heads up and suggestions. We had really good radio communication this year on 4A, so unless someone reports that we were messing with the Amigo Net on 4B, we'd prefer to leave the Ha-Ha roll call where it is.

Checking in with the Sonrisa Net might be a good idea, but the problem is we have a ton of information to give to and receive from the fleet, so we're not sure how the scheduling would work out. But we'll look into it.


The passing of our friend Rui Luis, owner/operator of Rooster Sails in Alameda, has left a large hole in our sailing community. I can’t help thinking that if he’d been able to easily get himself out of the water, instead of needing a couple of people to drag him up onto the dock, he might still be with us.

I spend a lot of time teaching in Emery Cove Yacht Harbor and sailing out of Richmond YC, both of which have ladders for people to get themselves out of the water quickly. Even though they’re completely different designs, they’re both waiting at the end of a nearby finger pier for the inevitable.

I know many sailors, and almost all of them have a story about the time they fell in at the slip. This makes it a 'when', not an 'if', proposition. Most people don’t have the upper body strength to pull themselves out of the water onto the dock. It’s much more difficult than you think. So it's ironic that we religiously don our PFDs and clip the lifeline gates closed while heading out of the marina, but most people fall in at the dock, where they’re more likely to get injured on the way down.

A quick Google search for 'marina ladder' yields some promising results. I found several large, heavy-duty, commercial, expensive, fixed ladders made out of plastic or aluminum that are permanently deployed. Then I came across one called the Up-N-Out — they've even advertised in Latitude — that’s affordable and telescopes.

I strongly believe that we should talk to our marina managers and harbormasters about this truly life-and-death issue. Let them be proactive about installing safety ladders before someone else in our community pays the ultimate price. They can promote it as a marina feature and set themselves above their competition. The ladders are a cheap insurance policy compared to the alternative.

Captain Chris Larsen
Tempus Fugit, Precision 21
Pt. Richmond

Capt. Larsen — When we were younger, and had a better upper body strength-to-weight ratio, we thought such ladders were a joke. But with age comes wisdom — and often weight. So we agree that it would be nice for all marinas to install some type of ladder, and for them to be clearly marked with bright paint. After all, such ladders aren't going to do much good on a dark winter night if someone in the water doesn't know they are there.


I'm sending this letter from Australia, as I had to leave the States and my 47-ft yawl due to an expired visa. Because of a lack of time to prepare for leaving, I had to trust a local boatworker and his friend with my boat and all my cruising gear. He and his buddy are now doing something called a 'conversion' of all my property, and if they aren't stopped I'm going to lose it all.

I'm absolutely not rich, and my boat and my gear are my life's savings. I would appreciate it if you would publish the names of the people involved and let the sailing community know what they are doing — which is bankrupting me. If all goes asunder due to two con men, I will never make enough money to replace my boat and gear. And I am desperately in love with my boat.

If you have any way at all of stopping the sale of my stuff and/or telling me whom to contact, I would be eternally grateful. Having lived in the States for a year, I am rather depressed at the lack of morality in your country. People who seem okay turn out not to be. It's really hard to trust anybody there.


P.L. — We know nothing about your situation, but we suspect that it might be a little complicated. In any event, you need to either get back here right away or hire a lawyer to protect your property and interests. Lord knows there is plenty of immorality in the United States. Nonetheless, the U.S. legal system usually does a pretty good job of preventing one person from just taking another person's boat and gear. Good luck.


We're in the process of purchasing a very nice CS 30 that is currently at the Napa Valley Marina. If the purchase goes through, we want to bring her to Alameda. We aren't familiar with the Napa River, and I haven't found very good charts yet. We know that you have hauled Profligate there, and wonder if you have any advice. We'd also like to know if it is reasonable to do the trip from Napa to Alameda in a single day with a 30-ft boat.

Brad Kerstetter
CS 30

Brad — We're not sure if you're going to get this information in time, but transiting the Napa River shouldn't be difficult. The river is buoyed, and you can find a good chart in the standard Delta Chart portfolio. In addition, the guys at the Napa Valley Marina will be happy to tell you if any areas have shoaled in.

If you've got the time, we'd suggest using your boat as a homebase for at least one winter visit to the Wine Country. If we're not mistaken, you can take your boat almost all the way to downtown Napa. From there it's not far to lots of great restaurants.

You could make it from Napa Valley to Alameda in one day, but you'd almost certainly have to start before daylight and finish after dark. After all, it's winter and the days are much shorter and the wind much lighter. It's colder, too. Our recommendation would be to try to make it to China Camp the first day, then finish the trip to Alameda the second day.



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