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February 2012

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At around 5:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve, I went down to a yacht harbor in Marin County to grab a forgotten item from my boat. When I got to the base of the ramp, I noticed a man trying to help an older, heavy-set man out of the water. Apparently the man in the water had unsuccessfully tried to make it down the ramp using a walker because of a recent hip injury.

I hurried down to help. Despite the cold saltwater dunking, the man reeked of alcohol. I could smell it before we even had him out of the water. Remembering the death of sailmaker Rui Luis from heart failure last June after he fell into the water, we had a passerby call 911 as soon as we got the man out of the water. The good Samaritan and I managed to get the man to his nearby boat so he could change into dry clothes and warm up.

Once the paramedics arrived, the other man and I felt the victim was in good hands, so we grabbed a long boat hook and used it to pull the man's walker out of the water. We also found a six-pack of beer that had apparently fallen out of the man's hands or walker and landed on the dock. I threw it in the trash.

In '08, one of my dock neighbors at Marina Village in Alameda fell off his boat in the middle of the night. I had walked by his boat after midnight — not long before he fell in and died — and saw him in the cockpit. He was totally inebriated. For what it's worth, he was a pilot for a major U.S. airline.

There's been a lot of talk about the need for ladders and other means of getting people out of the water around marinas. I think getting people into Alcoholics Anonymous or other rehab programs might do more than any number of ladders to prevent drowning deaths in marinas.

I also think marinas should start evicting tenants who frequently become inebriated. Maybe the threat of losing their boat slip will help people limit their consumption of alcohol.

Name Withheld By Request

Readers — We don't know how often alcohol is a factor when people fall into the water from a dock or boat and drown, but we suspect it's tragically frequent. So while we think ladders at marinas are a great idea, we agree with N.W.B.R. that they are not going to be the entire solution. We would also like to make it clear that alcohol consumption was not in any way a factor in Rui Luis's tragic death.

By the way, we edited this letter on January 17, the day after Jennifer Heather, 40, drowned at about 3:15 p.m. in a very narrow fairway of Southern California's Huntington Harbor that is chock-a-block with houses on both sides. It's unclear how she came to be in the water.


Latitude got it right in the January 18 edition of 'Lectronic when you disagreed with the British Registrar's decision about who was responsible for the loss of life after a yacht delivery captain knowingly took off into forecasted storm conditions. The Registrar ruled that the yacht delivery company, based thousands of miles away in England, was responsible and that the captain, who knowingly sailed into those bad conditions, wasn't even 1% responsible.

Perhaps the Registrar's ruling was affected by the fact that there had been a similar incident with another Reliance Yacht Management delivery skipper in the middle of the Atlantic just two months before. Who knows, maybe the court decided to punish Reliance as an employer? But the reasoning of the court always offers a fascinating insight into cases that go against common maritime law.

As both a maritime lawyer and a delivery skipper, I believe the captain should always have the final say on when to leave port. That's why I have made that stipulation an important part of my standard delivery contract. Not only do I retain the right to make the decision, but I have built in the amount I am to be paid for laydays because of either having to fix an unseaworthy item on the boat or because I have to wait for a weather system to pass.

It makes me sad to read about lives lost because a captain makes a bad choice not only for himself/herself, but for the other crewmembers, when he/she had the alternative to walk away. Someone would have to be desperate for a job to risk their life and that of others when the chips were stacked against them.

Linda Newland
Port Townsend, WA

Readers — Linda Newland has done a number of singlehanded and crewed crossings to Hawaii, and to our knowledge is one of only three Northern Californians to have singlehanded to Japan.

If you're interested in what we said, flip over to page 68 in Sightings for the complete text.


I think there is evidence that delivery skipper John Anstess wasn't considering his crew's safety when he set sail on the delivery of Cat Shot in December of '06. I clearly recall Diana Jessie — the well-respected Northern California circumnavigator who recently passed away — telling me and some dockmates about a conversation she had with Anstess before he headed north from San Francisco. He had come into Waypoint Marine to purchase a chart, although not a detailed one, of Northern California waters. During a conversation with Diana, he told her of his plans to head north. She challenged his decision knowing, as did he, that there was a big storm on the horizon. From what I understand, Anstess' two crew were not experienced sailors.

I wasn't surprised when I learned that the cat had flipped and all three aboard had died.

I can imagine a skipper going against the weather — and knowledgeable advice — only once. If he made it through alive with nothing worse than the crap being scared out of him, he could consider himself lucky.

You can call me a 'fair weather sailor', but I say shame on Anstess.
As for my dear friend Diana Jessie, may she rest in peace.

Karen Crowe
Sogno d'Oro, Pearson 422


I don't completely agree with your view. Yes, I see your point about delivery captains' having the responsibility to themselves and their crew to decide if they will sail into bad weather. However, as you can see from the example you used, Reliance Yacht Management has a pattern of pressuring delivery captains into unsafe conditions. Maybe the responsibilities should be shared by Reliance and the delivery captain.

Ray Chang
Blossom, Pearson Triton

Ray — We respect your differing opinion. Nonetheless, we believe that only one person can make the final decisions on a boat, and that person has to be the captain.

By the way, we've received a credible report that the delivery skipper who died crossing the North Atlantic for Reliance in the winter made the decision to sail that far north. We hope to get permission to release all the details on that tragedy for the next issue, as they are quite illuminating.


Hear, hear to Latitude's comments on a skipper's responsibilities on deliveries — which are no different than at any other time: responsibility to life, limb and vessel — which, by the way, belongs to an owner, not a delivery company — in that order.

Shame indeed on Reliance Yacht Management, too, and a fine be on their heads if their pressure tactics were real and significant. However, this still doesn't relieve the skipper of his obligations. May that message of responsibility be deeply internalized by all skippers.

Tim Dick
Sausalito / Honolulu


Latitude's recommended "F--k you!" to a yacht delivery company that pressures a delivery captain to set sail in terrible weather is the only legitimate response. Whether endangering your own life or that of others, there is absolutely no defense to 'just following orders'. The moment one compromises, the fault becomes shared, as should the unfortunate penalty.

John McNeill
San Francisco


My balanced view is that it would first be the captain's responsibility, but if it can be shown that the company issued unsafe directions with the threat of financial penalty, then the company is at least 50% responsible for what happened. And perhaps 100% if the captain and crew die as a result.

Tom Dalgliesh
Waverly, Islander Freeport 41
Seattle, WA

Tom — It would have been nice if the Registrar had released the evidence of "pressure." After all, what's wrong with a little transparency in legal proceedings?

Given that international law states that a captain is in "ultimate command" of the vessel, and is "responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including navigation," it's our opinion that the delivery company would have had to apply an inordinate amount of pressure — as we mentioned, a knife to the throat of the captain's mother — for the captain not to be responsible. If it was merely a case of the company offering the captain a 50% bonus if he took off into the storm, we think the captain bears full responsibility.


In the December 28 'Lectronic, you mentioned that Brian Thompson on the Jules Verne record-setting 131-ft trimaran Banque Populaire saw a light in the Southern Ocean that none of the very experienced crew could explain. You then asked if readers had seen similar mysteries when sailing at night. I have.

During an evening sail from Marina del Rey to Catalina Island on my Cal 25, I saw some strange and eerie figures. The first was a grotesque face looking up at me from below the surface of the water. Its tongue was sticking out at me. Next I saw faces looking up at me from both sides of my boat, and for several minutes at a time. They were Day-Glo blue in color, but also translucent. Then some of these people poked their heads out of the water and smiled at me.

If that wasn't enough, some of the people came out of the water and started running back and forth on the surface of the water in my boat's path. Some of these glowing people were close enough to touch, while others ran off and disappeared into the dark horizon. Their images were very clear, and I could make out quite a bit of detail.

The figures didn't come across as threatening, but playful instead. I didn’t have the urge to jump out of the boat and run after them, but I was happy enough to watch them frolicking around in front of my boat. This 'show' seemed to go on for quite a while, until something snapped me out of it.

For the record, I hadn't been taking any medications or drinking any alcohol.

Don Feld
Healing Lightly, Cal 25
Marina del Rey

Readers — It is widely believed that what Thompson and his fellow crewmembers saw on Christmas night was the newly discovered Comet Lovejoy.


In the spring of '92, we did a practice run from San Francisco to Monterey aboard the Freedom 44 cat ketch Ivory Goose in preparation for the Pacific Cup. I was alone in the cockpit for the midnight to 4 a.m. watch. I was well-rested and full of coffee, so I wasn't worried about becoming drowsy. We just happened to be beta-testing an early Trimble Navigation GPS system that was hooked into the steering, so I didn't have to hand steer or worry about our heading.

Around 3:30 a.m. I was jolted upright by the sight of a racing boat on port tack coming on strong from starboard to port across our bow. Although the boat was showing no lights, I could tell that she was really heeling over, and there were three members of the crew on the rail with their backs to me. One of them had blond hair. Their helmsman was looking away from us, so I started screaming and tried to muscle the wheel to turn our boat down. But as the Trimble unit was in control, I couldn't turn the boat. Just as we were about to T-bone the other boat, she was no longer there. Nothing.

It was the most believable hallucination I've ever experienced. And I went to college in the '60s.

Fred Walter


It was about 10 p.m. on a late August night in '08, and we were sailing about 12 miles offshore about 30 miles south of Pt. Sur. It was very windy, with gusts to 40 knots. About this time our entire crew of four observed a shining area in the cloud cover as if there were a full moon. But there wasn't a full moon. The light was about 75 degrees above the horizon, and constant enough to steer by. It stayed there all night, so it wasn't the moon. We never could figure it out.

Lawrence Riley
Arowana, Diva 39
Richmond YC


We left Marina del Rey bound for San Diego at midnight on a Friday in early November of '93. There was no wind. At 2 a.m., having rounded Palos Verdes Point, I saw this very bright white light from what I assumed was a boat. It seemed to come from the surface of the water about a mile just off our port bow. It was moving swiftly across our bow from left to right, appeared to be on fire, and was shooting out sparks like a roman candle. For the next two minutes, it continued its course toward the western horizon at what I estimated to be something in excess of 100 knots. I could not see any running lights or an outline of the boat. I can think of no rational explanation for what I saw.

Devan Mullin
Points Beyond, Shannon 38 ketch
Newport Beach / Key West, FL


I didn't see it, but the strangest thing I ever heard at night was an Italian men's chorus serenading me. It was a lovely treat to help the time pass, and I never did figure out the source. Wind in the rigging?

Bill Fleetwood
Blue Banana, Gulfstar 50
Monterey / Cartagena, Spain


This is not about the strangest thing I've seen on the ocean, but rather the strangest thing I didn't see. We were on our way from Los Frailes to Cabo with a dead diesel. About 20 miles from Cabo, in a mill pond-like sea, we noticed that even though we had six knots of apparent wind from astern, and the boat was maintaining steerage, the GPS indicated that our boat speed over the bottom was 0.0 knots. Wow, we figured, it must be a strong current against us. But something just didn't feel right, so we turned the boat around 180 degrees. Now we had six knots of wind coming over the bow, there was a substantial current coming from astern, and our speed over the bottom was still 0.0 knots!

Perplexed, we got out the back-up GPS. It produced the same 0.0 reading. We were getting a little weirded out, so we turned the boat 90 degrees in one direction, then the other. We still had six knots apparent from the east, significant current from the west, but no movement over the bottom. Our chart indicated that we were in 2,000 feet of water, so we certainly weren't aground. We considered putting someone over the side to see if perhaps we were hung up on a fishing net or a long line, but the speed of the current past the hull made this a risk we didn't want to take on the open ocean.

By then we had some light from the coming dawn, so we launched the dinghy, and keeping it secured to the boat, looked to see if there was anything unusual in the very clear water. Nada. And mind you, we could easily see the silhouette of our keel and rudder. Our next trick was to pass a line completely beneath the boat. Taking a 40-ft length of light line, weighted in the middle with a shaft zinc, we led it under the bow and passed the ends down each side under the entire length of the boat. Again nada!

So there we sat, trying to assure ourselves we were not hallucinating. Hell, we had run out of drugs months before and we don’t drink at sea, so what was going on? We will never know, because as suddenly as whatever was happening, it went away. Our boat began sailing, albeit slowly, in the now very light breeze toward Cabo San Lucas. (Close with sound of theme from “The Twilight Zone.”)

I swear it's all true.

Jimmie Zinn
Dry Martini, Morgan 38
Richmond YC

Readers — We received a number of 'strange things seen at night at sea', so we're saving a few for next month.


I love Latitude, but I'm dismayed at the lack of even the slightest mention about 16-year-old Laura Dekker's incredible effort to become the youngest person to complete a circumnavigation. I realize you have a deep prejudice against young people attempting/accomplishing such feats, but her maturity and skill at managing to get a 38-ft ketch alone around the world is noteworthy. The fact that you intentionally ignore this girl and her accomplishment does not go without notice.

Rich Johnson

Rich — We haven't ignored Ms. Dekker's attempt, as we've written about it a number of times. But you're correct, we intentionally haven't gone out of our way to celebrate it.


I'm writing with regard to the comment that appeared in the January 11 'Lectronic regarding 16-year-old solo circumnavigator Laura Dekker: "All we know is that the perception of the bar for singlehanding around the world will be lowered as soon as Dekker reaches St. Martin because it will be "so easy that even a 16-year-old girl can do it."

The person who made that comment ought to have his head examined, as it has to be one of the most stupid opinions I've ever run across in your rag. Why not acknowledge that Laura is a superb sailor? Are you jealous? Misogynist? Have an anti-youth disorder? You know damn well the seamanship and courage it takes to brave the ocean alone, regardless of your age or gender. Why disgrace your otherwise wonderful magazine with such belittling twaddle?

Michael Childs
Sparrow, 30-ft Seychelles gaff ketch

Michael — Please read the 'Lectronic item more carefully. Start with the second line of the second paragraph where we wrote: ". . . we admire Dekker's resolve, courage and skill." We don't believe that expresses jealousy or misogyny.

And if you read the last line of the piece again, you'll notice that we didn't write that doing a singlehanded solo circumnavigation was so easy that even a 16-year-old girl could do it — but rather that it would be the perception many people would take away. You might call it the 'Jordan Romero Effect', after the Big Bear resident who, 18 months ago, scaled Mt. Everest at the tender age of 13.

In a curious way, both Romero and Dekker have diminished their respective accomplishments, because they proved that a 13-year-old boy could indeed climb Everest, and that a 16-year-old girl could indeed solo circumnavigate. And on their first attempts! This is going to be puzzling to lay people who don't understand how critical favorable weather is to success in both climbing and sailing. Who would argue that far better climbers than young Romero have died trying to scale Everest, and that far better sailors than Dekker have died trying to sail around the world alone? It most cases it was a matter of the deceased's having been confronted by much worse weather.


Initially I was in agreement with Latitude’s strong position against age-based sailing records. After all, one only needs to think of the problems endured later in life by child movie stars and Olympic gymnasts pushed by their parents. But I changed my mind when I serendipitously met Laura Dekker while in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. I found her to be competent and self-reliant. Furthermore, she insisted that the idea of a solo circumnavigation was hers alone.

No matter how much youth sailing records are discouraged, there will probably be youngsters who will continue to try to set them. As Latitude correctly points out, that doesn’t make it right. But when there is a person of competence, such as Laura, she should be recognized for her accomplishment.

I first saw Dekker from afar at Durban, South Africa. The marina gate-keepers pointed out her 38-ft Jeanneau Gin Fizz Guppy to me. “Did you know,” they said with reverence and wide eyes, “that a 16-year-old girl sailed that boat all the way across the Indian Ocean by herself?” It had taken 47 days, and she'd previously sailed across the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. I actually wasn't aware of these accomplishments at the time, as I'd been sailing myself and hadn't followed her story.

During the next weather window, my crew and I sailed down the coast to Port Elizabeth, where we ended up berthing next to Dekker and Guppy at the yacht club. Since we'd rented a car to visit the Addo Elephant Preserve, I asked Laura, who hadn't visited any preserves, if she wanted to come with us.

It wasn't long before Laura took over the car navigator's job from my crew Craig, who was bungling it. When Laura later asked me if I thought it was safe for her to walk from the yacht club into town, I decided to err on the side of caution by saying no. The result was that I spent several days taking her shopping, to internet cafes, and to do laundry. She even ended up hanging out and having dinners aboard my boat — and always had second helpings. She even joined four Americans and three Germans for Thanksgiving dinner.

As Latitude has often said, one of the great things about cruising is that great friendships are made very quickly, despite diverse backgrounds and age differences. Like most friendships, particularly those with a 48-year age difference, Laura's and mine is based on mutual respect. There is no question that Laura is a teen, as she finds certain adult things to be “boring” or “annoying.” However, when topics such as sailing, passagemaking and weather at sea come up, her whole demeanor changes. She becomes serious and her voice lowers. It's as if she's suddenly transformed into a mature sailor.

Laura’s upbringing has not been ideal, as her parents — who were independent by their mid-teens — moved around a lot. Laura was born in New Zealand, but even though she hasn't lived there in many years, she flies the Kiwi flag on Guppy. When asked where she considers home, "Guppy" was her answer. Few of us would want our children to have had her upbringing.

But if Laura is under pressure — and she certainly is — it is self-imposed. She just wants to finish the damn trip so she can be free to take crew with her if she wants.

There is no question that Laura's youth record attempt generates interest. Guppy was initially asked to dock next to the Volvo Race boats in Cape Town. But she was asked to move her boat after it drew more attention than did the Volvo boats. But she was invited — and she accepted — to do a day race aboard one of the Volvo boats.

Laura is a public relations person’s nightmare. When the Port Elizabeth YC secretary told her that a local television person wanted to see her, Laura had a one-word response: “No!” Laura does sell a weekly column to a Dutch newspaper, and Santa Cruz documentary film maker Jillian Schlesinger meets her at various ports around the world to get footage. But the local press interest in ports can be overwhelming, and even her documentary crew frustrates her. One of the first things she told me in Simon's Town was what a pain it was to have a cameraman and sound guy around.

Laura and I left Port Elizabeth together, and initially motorsailed into winds that gusted to 28 knots when leaving the large bay. Laura told me over the VHF that water was somehow coming in, and her main salon cushions and books had gotten soaked. “But I’m okay!" she added in a cheerful voice. The next day she tore away some paneling and found the source of the leak under the amidships cleat. A cleat had been torn loose by the heavy surge in Port Elizabeth. She got out the sealant and fixed it.

Laura told me that while in the Indian Ocean, one of the ubiquitous southern swells had collided with other swells to knock Guppy down and fill her cockpit. There was no panic or concern on Laura's part. She simply got her camera and filmed the water sloshing around until it drained out. Laurence Gonzales, the author of Deep Survival, would probably call Laura the ultimate survivalist, as she is able to step outside problems and not be overwhelmed by them.

I write this several days before Christmas and note that Laura will be alone at sea on Christmas Day as well as New Year's Day. That is determination!

I think her around-the-world goal and sailing is carrying her through adolescence with flying colors. And her competence and knowledge are carrying her safely around the world. Even old guys have had childhood dreams of sailing around the world. Some are just able to fulfill those dreams at an earlier age.

John Colby
Iris, Hylas 42
Portland YC

John — Thanks for the interesting first-hand report. We think we can all agree that what Laura has accomplished is tremendous. Yet it's not something we're going to go out of our way to celebrate or encourage. There are three reasons:

1) Such stunts — and we do consider them to be stunts — will merely encourage ever-younger kids in search of fame and money. And at what age do child sailors become 'too young'? Is it twelve? Ten? Seven? 2) We don't believe someone in their mid-teens has the mental capacity or life experience to intelligently evaluate whether a solo circumnavigation is a risk worth taking. And 3) what do age-based sailing records prove anyway? We'll grant you confidence, determination and perseverance. On the other hand, we'll wager that any number of junior sailors could sail circles around a lot of the age-based record holders and record seekers. The thing that would impress us is if any of the age-based record holders, at age 18, were able to demonstrate superior sailing skills in head-to-head competition — say a 1,000-mile singlehanded race — with their peers.

You describe Dekker as the "ultimate survivalist" because she was calm enough to film water draining out of her cockpit after a knockdown and because she was brave — or whatever — enough to be offshore on Christmas and New Year's Day? Give us a break. Ultimate survival is being able to remain calm enough to live through a crossfire when outnumbered in Afghanistan. Or when you have to gnaw your arm off to get free of a boulder that's trapped you during a solo climb in the middle of nowhere. Or when you grow up in some violence-torn, drought-ridden Third World country where there isn't enough food to eat.

Yes, we're impressed with what Dekker has done, but there's no way of knowing whether any number of her sailing peers could have done the same thing. For the record — pardon the bad pun — the World Speed Sailing Record Council does not recognize age-based sailing records. Neither does the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, which oversees aviation records.


I want to thank Latitude for not hyping teens setting age records for sailing around the world. You have a great outlook on sailing and life in general. Thanks for being out there.

Pat Gilhooly
Corpus Christi, TX

Pat — Thank you. That said, we want to remind everyone that we just express our opinions; it's not as if we're handing down Gospel Truth from on high. So feel free to rip into us.


I took the accompanying photo of a MacGregor 65 rotting away in Moss Landing. Didn't she belong to boatyard owner Hal Nelson back in the '80s? Who would let a boat go like this?

Tom Van Dyke
en pointe, Searunner 31
San Francisco

Tom — According to Carl Nelson, that is/was not his father's old Blackjack, which Hal modified as heavily as he raced her. Since the 65s were built of fiberglass, it's unlikely Andiamo is "rotting away." In fact, there may be a deal there somewhere for a person with an abundance of elbow grease.

The Mac 65s hit the yachting industry like a bombshell when introduced in the '80s, as they originally sold for about $115,000 — or about what just the raw materials were rumored to cost for a Santa Cruz 50. Approximately 100 of the 'Big Macs' were built during the eight-year run that ended in '95. Improbably, production of the 65s was stopped not because of lack of buyer demand, but rather to dedicate the entire five-acre MacGregor site to building the water-ballasted, trailerable MacGregor 26Ms, for which there was insatiable demand.

Criticized by some as being lightly built, the skinny Mac 65s nonetheless established some important race records, even in head-to-head competition with more expensive and highly regarded Santa Cruz and N/M 70s. In '85, for instance, Dick and Camille Daniels's Joss averaged 10.5 knots for 1,150 miles to beat all competitors in the Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta Race. Five of the first seven boats to finish that race were Mac65s. Joss's record stood for 19 years — nearly an eternity — before being eclipsed by Doug Baker's Long Beach-based Andrews 80 Magnitude 80.

While the stock 65s perhaps weren't rugged enough for extensive rough-weather racing, the Mac 65s were popular with their owners. We know of one fellow who bought a regular model because he couldn't wait to take delivery of his ordered pilothouse version, and happily ended up owning two of them. If we're not mistaken, singlehander Hans Vielhauer of Sonoma did a circumnavigation with a Mac65 before passing. And after some Ha-Ha's and cruising in Mexico, Bob Callaway of Pleasant Harbor, WA, did a Puddle Jump and is apparently still cruising the South Pacific with Braveheart.

According to the MacGregor website, consideration is being given to reintroducing the 65, but in a version lengthened to 70 feet and fitted with a ketch rig. Two have been built, including the company's Anthem, which apparently beat legendary sleds Merlin and Ragtime to the finish line of the Ensenada Race.

MacGregor Yachts was started by Roger MacGregor as part of a Stanford University MBA project in the '60s. The company has subsequently sold over 36,000 sailboats, most of them in smaller sizes, under the Venture and MacGregor brands.


I'm hoping you've gotten lots of positive response to your October editor's note saying that you would put on a SoCal Ha-Ha if 30 boats were interested. Count us in!
Mike Leneman of MultiMarine hosts a Summer Splash to Catalina from various Southern California ports each September. Last year we had 30 boats, including some large cats and tris. A few of us did some extra Channel Islands exploring before the event and, while anchored off Santa Rosa Island, discussed the fact that the South Coast needs a proper rally event to take advantage of late summer weather and the great National Park. I've spoken with Mike, and he said he'd be happy to coordinate his Splash efforts with a SoCal Ha-Ha, if you're game.

If a SoCal Ha-Ha is really in the works, I'd rally the ocean-going contingent of the Bay Area Multihull Association (BAMA), as it would be a great event for many California sailors who just can't take enough time off to do a Baja Ha-Ha. And count me in as a volunteer to help bring such an event to life.

Greg Carter
Origami, F27

Greg — Thanks for the offers. There seems to be enough interest, so we're making inquiries with various harbors and government agencies to see what obstacles there might be. Right now we're waiting to learn when Santa Barbara plans to start the dock renovations at Marina 1, which would all but tie up that harbor.

In any event, we'll be happy to coordinate — or at least not conflict — with Mike's Summer Splash, an event we've always wanted to do. We'll keep you posted.


As many Latitude readers know, Pamela Habek and I were the first two legally blind people to not only do the Ha-Ha, but to sail across the Pacific. The main reason we didn't continue farther was due to the risk of Pam losing all of her vision after she suffered a sudden torn retina while we were in Vanuatu. It was very difficult for her to quit our attempt at a circumnavigation, but it was the right decision for her.

There are many things that trouble me on both sides of the Dennis Howard/Coast Guard incident, but the greatest of these is 'able-bodied' people saying that disabled people should not be allowed to undertake such challenges because it will cost taxpayers money. Any transoceanic voyage is dangerous. It is exactly the challenge and the thrill of the danger that calls so many of us to assume those risks of adventure. If people want to play it safe, they should stay home and huddle in the corner playing Wii.

I only hope that other modern-day adventurers will continue to push the limits in life, even if it is dangerous. After all, this is how Edmund Hillary made it to the summit of Everest, how America placed a flag on the moon, and yes, even how Pam and I stepped onto a dock in Sydney Harbour to hoist a well-deserved schooner of beer.

On a personal note, you may soon see me singlehanding across the Atlantic on a very small boat. The bug has bitten me.

Scott Duncan
Disability Program Analyst
U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C.

Scott — Without casting judgment on the Howard case or what you and Pamela accomplished, you don't really believe that all transoceanic voyages are of equal risk, do you? We think the skill of the skipper and crew, the preparation of the boat, and the quality of the construction and maintenance have a lot to do with how voyages turn out. Consider the case of modern 950-ft cruise ships that take thousands of passengers from one great Med port to another. What could possibly go wrong with one of them? Er, wait a minute, maybe that's not such a good example.

Our philosophical position is that people who are old enough to understand the risks of more extreme adventures should be able to assume them — as long as they don't count on taxpayers to go to extreme expense to save them or to take over the cost of raising their orphaned children.


I found your comments in the January 6 'Lectronic about the four models wearing retro bathing suits for publicity at the opening of the London Boat Show to be worth thinking about. As usual, you prefer to see a maximum amount of female flesh. But you might want to think about this: When the more modest retro-style of bathing suit was the norm, say in the late '40s and '50s, this country was near its peak, socially, morally and in terms of personal happiness. Then came the bikini, which you love so dearly. And what do we have today? Legal murder by abortion, same sex marriage, Obama, perverts, overcrowded jails, an economic mess like never before, and unemployment without solution.

I think that I would prefer a little less skin and a little more morality.

Robert Lockwood
Celebration, Gulfstar 50

Robert — Fascinating letter. When it comes to bathing suits, our personal preference is for whatever suit best complements a woman's physique and personality, and which she's most comfortable wearing. Since the brain is the biggest and most potent sex organ, more skin certainly doesn't necessarily equate to more stimulation, at least for us. For example, we don't find sleek 20-year-old French girls frolicking in the surf at St. Barth wearing only tiny bikini bottoms to be sexually stimulating, but rather marvelous celebrations of nature and youth. We admire them in the same way we admire beautiful flowers.

But if we had to pick a favorite suit for an even slightly older woman, it would be a more sophisticated sleeveless one-piece black suit cut high in the thighs to accentuate the legs' length, but also have a nearly turtleneck collar that says the woman is confident enough in her ability to attract attention without feeling the need to resort to 'working the rack'. She might not be the first woman in a crowd who would attract our attention, but all things being equal, she would likely get more appreciative and lasting attention.

While we agree with your assessment that civilization is in a downward spiral, we don't agree that the bikini is the cause, or that the things you cited are evidence of the decline. In our estimation, it's the insatiable lust most people have for money, and the almost universal infestation of corruption at all levels of government, that are both the main causes and primary evidence of the decline.


In the late '80s I helped deliver Nadejda, a 60-ft steel boat from Moss Landing to San Diego. The Colin Archer design was beautifully outfitted and, because of her great beam, was larger down below than most houses in Pacific Grove. And the aft master stateroom featured a claw-foot bathtub, with a hatch above to keep things from becoming too steamy.

In any event, we departed Monterey Bay in a northwesterly gale and heavy following seas. The weather conditions weren't a concern since the boat was such a tank, but two of the crew became too ill to stand watch for the first leg. Once we rounded Conception and reached flat water, my shipmates miraculously perked up and gave me some needed relief from the helm. At that point Jay, the owner and skipper, invited me to take advantage of the luxury of a bath as a reward for my having stood extra watches. I was all for it, as I had never taken a fresh water shower on a boat before, much less a hot bath!

After easing myself into the warm and soapy water, I closed my eyes and felt a sense of complete relaxation. But it didn't last long. Although I'd heard the sound of two grown men giggling, I didn't open my eyes in time to see the five gallons of icy sea water being dumped down the hatch and onto my head.

Thanks, Jay and Mike; those were good times. But just remember, revenge is best served cold.

Brian Ackerman
West Wind, 1927 Monterey Clipper
Moss Landing


We have a bathtub — or what I call a 'sitz tub' aboard our Deerfoot 62 cutter Moonshadow. It is a bit shorter than a home-sized bath, has higher sides, and has a step on one end that is perfect for sitting on. In theory, one could have a relaxing bubble bath in it, but out of reverence for the hard work our watermaker has to do, we've never indulged.

Ironically, the thing we really appreciate about the tub is that it's perfect for taking a shower. You see, we shower every day, no matter if we're on the hook or on a passage. We encourage our crew to do the same. When it's rough, the tub comes in handy because the person taking the shower can sit down and wedge himself in while showering. This can be done even when a stand-up inside shower or a deck shower might be untenable. The tub also helps keep the water going where it should — down the drain as opposed to all over the furniture in the head.

When partially filled, the tub has an endless number of uses, starting with soaking salty foul weather gear, aching feet, questionable fruit and vegetables, laundry, or anything else you can think of when the sea state would not be conducive to the use of a bucket or the galley sink. When it's all done, a flick of the switch gets rid of the water.

A bathtub is definitely a luxurious touch by liveaboard cruising standards, but it is one of those features of the boat that helps keep the Admiral happy. And when the Admiral is happy . . . you know the rest.

By the way, Moonshadow remains for sale in Jacksonville, Florida. She's done one very long lap around the planet and is ready to go again. If she doesn't sell by April, we plan to cruise up the East Coast for the summer.

George Backhus & Merima Dzaferi
Moonshadow, Deerfoot 2-62
Ex-Sausalito / Auckland, N.Z.


Ever had sex in a sailboat sitz tub while doing the Baja Bash? I recommend it. The rougher the better. I'm talking about the sea state, not necessarily the sex.

Stockton Sailing Club


I recently read an article in another sailing magazine about composting toilets and the Airhead Composting Toilet in particular. On the manufacturer's website they claim no odor, no holding tank, no clogging, fewer breakdowns, less maintenance, easy installation, low cost, good on the environment, no hoses and all that stuff.

It almost sounds too good to be true, so I'd like to hear from someone in the area who has used or still uses a composting toilet. Do they work as well as is claimed, and particularly, are they really virtually odorless?

Gordo Klenk
Perigee, Beneteau 43
Truckee / Emeryville

Gordo — We'll be as interested as you in the responses.


In the November Latitude there was a reference to philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein by the publisher in an editorial response, as well as references to quantum mechanics by Max Ebb in his column. I don't see that kind of stuff in the downstream sailing rags.

I have always wanted to name a boat Private Language, but I've only done so in a parallel universe.

Tony Johnson
Whisper, Catalina 22
San Francisco

Tony — We're not trying to be 'higher brow than thou', but we did go to college and assume that most of our readers did also. And when we get a letter like the next one, we just can't help ourselves.

To set the record straight, we had to refer to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy to fully appreciate your Private Language joke. Pretty funny.


I've been following the Latitude Classy Classifieds for several years and am curious if you have a way of telling whether boats that no longer appear in ads have actually sold or if their owners have simply taken them off the market for a lack of buyers. This info might help me in future negotiations for a boat.

I might add that I'm currently in Penang, Malaysia. While dock haunting one afternoon, I met Allen and Margaret, a couple who are doing a circumnavigation aboard their junk-rigged schooner Zebedee. They were delightful, and generous with their advice and stories of their adventures. This often seems to be the case when I walk the dock and meet cruising sailors.

I've been traveling for seven years, mostly in Asia, although I returned to the U.S. in '09 to complete a seven-month bicycle ride through the States that covered 13,700 miles and crossed into 32 states. I had a BOB trailer for my camping equipment, and had an amazing time.

But I must say, I'm a big fan of taking off on a sailing adventure, and am researching boats, mostly styles that are knockoffs of the Folkboat, such as the Pearson Triton. My funds are modest and I want to keep things small and simple. Like the Pardeys. And because my funds are modest, I want to get the best deal on a boat that I can.

Allen Sneidmiller
Chico / Penang, Malaysia

Allen — We're intrigued by your email address, which starts with 'heraclitus'. Heraclitus was, of course, the pre-Socratic philosopher from Ephesus — now Turkey — best known for his contempt of mankind and his belief in constant change. "You can't step in the same river twice" is his best known dictum, and his belief that "up is the same as down" seems to have a delightful whiff of Buddhism.

Enough of that. We can't give you any exact figures, but boats are no different than houses in the sense that when the market is soft — as it certainly has been for some time — inventory frequently gets taken off the market after not selling for a period of time. For instance, we know of a number of cruisers who have their boats up for sale because they want to move up to larger boats or switch from monohulls to more expensive catamarans. But if they can't sell the boat they already have, they can't afford the new boat. So when the November-to-May cruising season in Mexico rolled around, they took their boats off the market and took off for tropical Mexico. For a slight variation on this theme, see the letter above from circumnavigator George Backhus.

But take our word for it, there has never been a better time to get a bargain on a boat, no matter what price range you're in. The struggling — but maybe slightly improving — economy in the U.S., the debt woes in Europe, the aging population — everything favors great deals for boat buyers.

Without any disrespect, it sounds as if you know about as much about sailboats as we do about bicycles. We base this on your comment that a Triton is a "knockoff" of a Folkboat. That's not really true, as about all they have in common is a single hull, a single mast, a rudder, and a full keel. Until you've been into sailing for a period of time, it's hard to appreciate the seemingly subtle but nonetheless substantial differences in boats.

Assuming you want to cross oceans on a budget, the biggest decision you'll probably need to make is where you want to be on the speed/comfort spectrum of boats. If simplicity is your thing — as it is ours — you might be interested in a boat that is more on the performance side. No matter if you opt for more speed or more comfort, we think you're going to have a blast exploring the world by boat, and at a surprisingly low cost.

Oh, and to answer your original question: no, there's no way for us to track which Classy boats sold or were merely pulled from the market.


A friend of mine recently crossed the Atlantic and is in Grenada. He'll be headed north shortly to St. Martin and Antigua. What airports in that region are the least expensive to fly into? He'll be in the Caribbean all season.

Dave Benjamin
Island Planet Sails

Dave — Ticket prices to the Caribbean vary wildly depending on the airline, the month, the day of the week and loads. You can fly to some of the big islands directly from Miami or New York, or else you have to fly into the big Caribbean hubs of San Juan or St. Martin and then catch puddle jumpers from there. We'd look around on or similar websites to see what you can come up with.

If you have a couple of weeks, we'd start in Martinique or Antigua, then work toward St. Martin or the British Virgins rather than vice versa. That's assuming you're of the school of thought that believes it's more fun to reach and run than beat into the trades.

We know that you did a season cruising in Mexico, so we're going to warn you to be prepared for: 1) Severe sticker shock, as the prices of everything — especially food — are astonishingly higher, and 2) island populations that are generally much less friendly than the people of Mexico. On the other hand, you're going to love the clear water and consistent sailing breezes.


Why is it that almost every boat in every marina is plugged into shorepower? What's the point in having miles of heavy electrical cord servicing phantom loads on boats — boats which, in many cases, are seldom visited? Sure, you need the shorepower if your boat leaks and will sink once the bilge pump goes off and the battery runs out of juice. And yes, you need to keep your boat plugged in if you've got frozen bait in the freezer.

But aren't boats supposed to represent freedom and independence?
Can you imagine a Viking saying, "Hey Erik, get the shorepower unplugged, we gotta go raid the English." Or on the Deadliest Catch: "Hans, get the shorepower cord, we gotta go catch some king crab."

For the cost of a shorepower cord and an electrician to fix the sockets that often go bad, you can buy a solar panel that will keep making power for the next 15+ years. And can you imagine the awful working conditions in some Third World country where factory workers have to labor to bring us a 50-ft shorepower cord that costs $100?

In my opinion, having shorepower to run all kinds of consumer goods is what's wrong with boating today. Nothing says 'I'm not staying here for very long' like an array of solar panels. And if you really want your neighbors to be more than happy to help you get your boat ready for a cruise, you might install a wind generator. They really howl.

Tim Sell
Lucky Star, Brent Swain 36
Sausalito / Honolulu

Tim — Like you, simple is our personal preference. That's why we don't have blenders, coffee makers, ice makers, bread machines, televisions or toasters — let alone a microwave oven — aboard Profligate. And which is why Doña de Mallorca, who is in charge of domestic matters aboard Profligate, often unplugs or turns off the shorepower when we leave the boat for even a few days. Yes, we have solar panels to keep the house batteries topped off. But sinking is not a concern because Profligate has five separate bilges in each hull.

But if we're not mistaken, the number one reason for having shorepower connected is to keep the bilge pump running if the boat begins to leak. Most solar panel arrays in Northern California are not going to be able to keep up with the electrical needs of a bilge pump that's going non-stop. Juice is also used to keep a humidifier and/or fan on in the winter in order to prevent mold. To our thinking, those two reasons are enough to justify hooking up.


You asked for suggestions about America's Cup courses. Well, I'm asking Latitude to please rally the sailing community, the media, and America's Cup officials for a Farallon Islands leg. It would lend a lot of drama — especially during a reinforced tradewind — and would truly challenge both the men and the machines. The boats would be followed by helicopters that would broadcast the drama. And the course would be sailed no matter how strong the winds or how big the seas.

Heavy weather sailing for the Cup would be spectacular!

Philip Hoffman

Philip — Sounds like lots of fun! Alas, the most extreme racing boats are designed and built to meet conditions they are expected to race in. As Buddy Melges once famously noted, an ideally designed and built America's Cup boat would fall apart the second she crossed the finish line of the last race. If she didn't, she would have been overbuilt and therefore slower than she could have been.

To ask America's Cup sailors to sail a leg out to the Farallones and back no matter how strong the winds would be like asking Formula One car racers to drive the Baja 1000. Not that smart. If, on the other hand, the weather guys could promise less than 15 knots of wind and flat water, we'd be totally in favor of one such race. It sure wouldn't take long, would it?

Not to be snarky, but Northern California doesn't have tradewinds, let alone reinforced tradewinds. Bay and Delta winds come from the Central Valley heating up during summer afternoons, which causes the cold ocean air to be sucked in through the narrow gaps toward the Valley in order to equalize the pressure. The hotter the Central Valley, the stronger the winds — unless there is a big high pressure area over the entire area. San Francisco Bay winds are generally lighter in the winter because there isn't a very big difference in temperature between the Central Valley and the ocean.


I'm a bit of a dated foredeck man, so I'm not the best one to ask about the best possible America's Cup courses, but these are my suggestions:

Long Course: Start in front of Golden Gate YC; upwind to Blackie; across to a buoy off the Spinnaker Restaurant in Sausalito; down Raccoon Strait close to the Tiburon shore to a mark off the south side of Angel Island; back up The Slot from Angel Island to Alcatraz; then upwind home to the Golden Gate YC finish. There would be plenty places that would offer lots of room for spectating. Yes, I know there would be lots of wind in some places and not so much in other places, but I think that would make things more interesting for all.

Short Course: I don't like the idea of a short course. Screw short courses!

Oops, the wife just went by with no clothes on. Gotta go.

Pete Groves
Fast Water, Tayana 52
Roche Harbor, WA


I'd like to chime in on the January issue letter from Karen Sullivan complaining about the attitude the security people at the America's Cup World Series event in San Diego had toward non-VIP spectators.

My wife Jennifer and I watched the races on the water from a friend's boat, and they were nothing short of fantastic! When I landed, however, I have to agree with Karen, as we got the same attitude from the security forces. But it's San Diego, you know. While I hate to stereotype an entire city, law enforcement in San Diego seems to have a bit of a militaristic mindset. After all, who can forget the famous Harbor Police 'panty raid' and subsequent 'panty protest' during and after the first Ha-Ha?

By the way, Jennifer and I just got back from the British Virgins where we did a week charter with John and Lynn Ringseis aboard the publisher's Moorings/Leopard 45 cat 'ti Profligate. We had a blast. And despite the fixed three-blade props, we really had her moving on a 25-knot day from Jost to Anegada!

Dave Fiorito
Shenanigans, C&C 36

Dave — We're glad you enjoyed the America's Cup action in San Diego, and hope the organizers will be able to put a friendlier face on security when the World Series resumes. After all, we plan to spend a lot of time at the venues, and like Larry Ellison, we've always had an anti-authoritarian streak.

As for 'ti Profligate, we're glad you enjoyed her. It's a shame, however, you weren't able to take all the new Gianola's Sausalito-made salon cushions down as luggage, as it would have allowed you to christen them with your bottoms. Now we get to do it.

How is this for an unabashed plug? The folks at BVI Yacht Charters book 'ti Profligate at perhaps the lowest price of any four-cabin, heads ensuite, 45-ft cat in the Caribbean. And she's in fine shape. Maybe that's why she's not available again until June 2, but it's not too early to book her for next winter. 'ti Profligate is a strictly 'big bang for the buck' cat, so while she came directly out of The Moorings program a few years back, she doesn't have air conditioning, AC for hair dryers or coffee makers, or electric toilets, as do some of the more modern Moorings charter cats.


I brought my new Kindle Fire down to Puerto Vallarta with me so I could stay connected. I'm currently sitting on a balcony overlooking Banderas Bay catching up on the 'Lectronic postings. 'Lectronic looks fantastic on the Fire.

Doug Vaughan
Odyssey, Jeanneau 37
Oakland YC

Doug — We love it! You can also get the eBook version of Latitude on your Kindle. Just download the file(s) to your computer, then transfer them to the Kindle via the USB cord. Here's a link to a complete set of instructions and a video:


As Latitude is the best and most informative sailing publication, what would you guys think about having a boat test section each month, as they do in motorcycle and car magazines? Comparing the sailing, quality, performance, quirks, and availability of three or four new or used boats — i.e. a Catalina 36 against an S2 36 or Saber 36 or Islander 36. I think this would give Joe Public an idea what might be the best product or application for them.

Don Little
Syzygy, Santana 20
Folsom Lake

Dan — We don't know if Latitude is the best sailing magazine, but our staff busts our bottoms each month to try to provide readers with the most information we can. So on behalf of them, thank you for the kind words.

It's always been our opinion that you can't test or compare boats as you can cars or motorcycles. It's not a problem to quickly find the variety of environments motorcycles will operate in. Give us a car in Marin County for three hours, and we can give you a decent assessment of how it will do on freeways, in traffic, up hills, on curvy roads, fleeing the police, and in most other conditions except snow.

Because sailboats operate in a much greater variety of conditions, legitimate testing would take far more time — as in days, if not weeks. Heck, the folks from Adventure Cat once told us it took them a year to understand how to sail their cat. After launching Profligate, we understood what they meant.

In addition, the operator of a sailing vessel is a much greater variable than a driver of a car, so that could throw things way off, too. For example, if you put a good sailor at the helm of a Corsair 31, he or she will quickly have that tri singing. But put a novice or average sailor at the helm of the same tri, and he/she might soon be swimming next to the overturned hulls.

Yachting World has always done the most extensive boat tests and/or comparisons, but we're still not crazy about them, which is why we've never done them. Sorry.


Thanks for the wonderful December Sightings on the Cat 2 Fold 36 design. While I did the 3D modeling and drafting of plans, Rafi Franke created the innovative concept(s) and design improvements after the plans.

Kurt Hughes
Seattle, WA

Kurt — Thanks for the heads-up. And thanks again for your 60-ft charter cat design, which was the basis for Profligate. It's been the all-but-perfect cat for us.


I recently attempted to learn something about the history of Latitude 38, but couldn't find anything on your website. It might have been because I had a few beers in me. But I think you've been around long enough that you need to talk about it.

Rob Boyle
Planet Earth

Rob — We think we've told this story enough, but since the next issue will mark the 35th anniversary of the founding of Latitude 38, we guess we can retell it one last time. The idea for Latitude came from a dreadful boating magazine in Southern California whose publisher said he worked two days a week in shorts and flip-flops and made $2,000 a month — a very decent amount of money back then. We made the mental commitment to go ahead with the magazine while watching the Bicentennial fireworks explode over San Francisco while sailing home from the Delta in '76 on our 41-ft Bounty II Flying Scud.

The magazine was an ultra-low budget operation from the get-go, funded with $2,000 — which was all we had to our name. We believe that starting with so little money, along with assiduously avoiding debt, have been two of the keys to long-term success. The original staff consisted of the current publisher, then 29, and Kathleen McCarthy, our then-wife, who sold advertising and quickly became a mainstay of the magazine.

Flying Scud, berthed in Sausalito's Clipper Yacht Harbor, served as our home, office and photo boat. Actual production was done in the middle of the night using The Montclarion production facilities in the Montclair District of the Oakland Hills. We drove over the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges countless times at 3 a.m. Immediately after starting the magazine, we were transformed from a happy-go-lucky, carefree — and probably very lazy — person into the workaholic we remain today. We can't believe we still haven't kicked the disease.

The first issue of Latitude, 40 pages, appeared in the spring of '77, and featured Bill Lee's revolutionary 67-ft ultralight Merlin. By sheer luck, sailing was mushrooming. In addition to Merlin acclerating the Santa Cruz ultralight revolution, Dave Allen's Imp soon took the international racing world by storm, singlehanded sailing exploded, the Pacific Cup was founded, and sailing became more about individuals and less about formal yacht clubs. In other words, we were in the right place at the right time.

Not realizing how much work was involved in putting out a magazine — we'd been an indifferent Philosophy and Russian student at UCSB and Berkeley — we were briefly hospitalized for exhaustion prior to the completion of the second issue. By November of that year, the magazine had grown to a seemingly gigantic 72 pages, nearly double what we had hoped for in our wildest dreams. Exhausted once more, we flew to Hawaii to recuperate, and vowed to never do such a big issue again. Yeah, right.

As the magazine grew through the '80s and '90s, we continued to add employees. During the first 10 years, it was not unusual for the entire staff — then up to about 12 — to be up until 1 or 2 a.m., rushing around the rabbit warren of an old house/office we had acquired in Mill Valley, putting the next issue to bed.

For most of the run, we personally have had great but odd places to write. Following the advice of noted author James Michener, we'd put our typewriter (later our computer) on a piece of cheap Formica held up by two cheap file cabinets in a dark and windowless basement space. If you write, the last thing you want are views and other distractions.

Putting a magazine together was incredibly labor-intensive until technology really kicked in, so at one point we had 17 employees. We worship Apple, Google and other technology companies, for without them the magazine wouldn't be anything like it is today. In fact, it would have become fiscally untenable 15 years ago. The biggest issue of Latitude was over 300 pages and came out in the early '00s.

It goes without saying that the three most critical components to the magazine's 34 years of business have been a fabulous readership, great advertisers, and absolutely terrific employees. Without any of the three, we'd no doubt be enjoying ourselves cruising in the tropics somewhere.

For entire history of Latitude, the publisher has been the editor for all the Letters and Changes, in addition to writing feature articles and Sightings pieces. Although Latitude, like all publications, is smaller than it once was, in some ways its completion is a more difficult editorial task because we and our staff still want to get the same amount of factual information into less editorial space.

We've always thought of Latitude 38 as our 'art project' rather than a business, so we often went for many months without looking at 'the books'. We'd still rather get a root canal than look at the books.

Oddly enough, it took us the better part of 25 years to feel as if we really knew how to write. Prior to that it seemed as if we had to grind out the articles while trying to keep them funny. We finally think we've learned how to express ourselves clearly.

One of the unique things about Latitude is how personalized it's become, particularly through the editorial responses to letters. That wasn't planned, it just happened. The responses in Letters have always been the most popular feature of the magazine, but if at any point a large number of readers want to 'fire' us because they are sick of our opinions and/or responses, we won't be insulted or brokenhearted.

If we had a nickel for everyone who told us what a fabulous life we get to live, we'd actually be able to live that life. While it's true that we get to enjoy an inordinate amount of time sailing in great places and covering sailing events around the world, few people have any idea how much work or pressure is involved, and often under very trying — i.e. slow internet — circumstances. After all these decades, very intense 12-hour days — weekends included — at the keyboard are still par for the course near deadline.

We started a number of charity sailing events from La Paz to Zihua in Mexico, where a little money can go a very long way in helping truly needy people. In '94 we started the Baja Ha-Ha, which has hosted something in the range of 10,000 sailors on over 2,000 boats. It took us a few years to appreciate it but, if you will pardon our conceit, we think the Ha-Ha has evolved into one of the great sailing events in the world. Once again, it wasn't planned that way, it just sort of evolved. And it's almost all because of the quality of the participants. Since we were put on earth to help people have fun, particularly with their sailboats, the Ha-Ha has been an ideal vehicle for us.

We've owned about a dozen boats, from an Ericson 27 to three Olson 30s to an Ocean 71. We went over to the dark side in '96 by having the catamaran Profligate built in Long Beach. She's been the perfect Ha-Ha mothership, and our goal is to take 500 — maybe 1,000 — people sailing on her this year, hoping all guests will donate at least $20 to their favorite charity. We also own the Leopard 45 'ti Profligate in a yacht management program in the British Virgin Islands, and we use it in St. Barth during the high season. Knock on fiberglass, but to date the program has worked out better than we expected.

People always ask us how much longer we're going to do Latitude and what we want to do next. We still love sailing, we still love writing about sailing, we still love sailing photography, and we still love doing layouts, so we'll probably maintain our course. But we want to do at least a couple of the four major regattas in Southeast Asia next winter, and we're planning on writing a book and making a supporting documentary, both of which are to be titled 4-3-12. Or maybe 3-4-12, we still haven't decided which we prefer. The book and documentary will be about the rewards of living in different cultures for significant periods of time each year.

Although we think of ourselves as being very liberal socially, we're also huge believers in personal responsibility. On the other hand, we're ultra-conservative fiscally, and believe that the noble calling of public service has, over the last couple of decades, devolved into a cesspool of racketeering and corruption on both the right and left. God help the future generations. In a more pleasant vein, our favorite sailing manuever is gybing the symmetrical spinnaker.

We hope that covers it, because it's the last history we plan on writing. We sincerely thank everyone for their many years of astonishing support.



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