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September 2012

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Will the America's Cup ever go back to monohulls? I have no interest in watching multihulls race.

Scott Michaels
Scottfree, Ericson 35-3

Scott — In the America's Cup, as in war, the spoils have always gone to the victor. So the boats used in the following America's Cup were largely determined by the Defender, who got to pick the Challenger, who was selected on the basis of proposing to sail the next America's Cup in boats the Defender wanted to race in. So much has changed with the America's Cup that perhaps this protocol has been changed a bit — who can keep up? ­— but we assume that the winner will still be calling the shots.

There is a significant portion of the sailing population who, like you, don't like the idea of multihulls in the America's Cup. But as there is nothing that can be done about it at this point, we suggest keeping an open mind until after the fat lady sings next fall. It might turn out to be a lot better than you think, particularly with the monster cats. Or it could be an experiment that falls on its face. Only time will tell.

Besides, what kind of monohulls would you like to see in the America's Cup? It was kind of embarrassing when competitors vied for the Cup in monohulls that weren't even close to being the fastest single-hulled boats around. For us, the important thing about the next Cup is not what boats are used, but that the Cup be structured in such a way that at least 15 teams want to compete and can afford to compete. For example, think how much more international interest there would have been in this running of the Cup if there were also teams from big sailing countries such as Australia, the Netherlands, Denmark, England, Ireland, Spain, and even countries such as Singapore, Russia, and Hong Kong (Special Economic Zone now) where there has been interest in the past.


Latitude's summary of US Sailing's report on the Low Speed Chase tragedy at the Farallon Islands was well-written and much appreciated. The Latitude team is a class act.

Bryan Chong

Readers — Bryan was one of the three crewmembers who survived the Low Speed Chase incident. He was writing after reading our summary in the August 8 'Lectronic. It appears on page 98 of this month's issue.


When waves build on the open ocean, why don't boats — 'specially ones with deep draft — bottom out on the sea mounts? For example, if a wave height is 25 feet plus, and the depth over the mount is only 20 feet, wouldn't a boat drawing six feet hit the bottom — i.e. the top of the sea mount — when in a trough? That's the assumption I would make unless there is some majik afoot that you could explain to me.

Bilge Rat
Planet Earth

B.R. — You seem to think that the trough between two waves is lower than the normal level of the ocean. Indeed, one Northern California sailor insisted that because his boat had been in huge swells outside the Gate, she had bounced off the bottom, even though she was in an area where the charts indicated there was 24 feet of water. We're not experts, but it's our understanding that this would be scientifically impossible, as the height of waves is in addition to the ambient depth rather than the depth of the troughs being deducted from it.

Things often aren't as they appear, and that's certainly the case with waves. For example, when you're in big waves on the ocean, it appears that a lot of water is moving forward. On the contrary, almost all of what's moving is wave energy, which is being transferred through the flexible medium that is water. The whole paradigm changes, of course, when waves get into shallow water and break.


I was rowing in to Schoonmaker Point Marina recently when I heard an alarm going off in Cara Villa, the old black tug berthed there. It sounded like the prolonged ringing of a phone. So I notified Bill, the harbormaster. To make a long story short, the new owner of the boat was called, drove down from the Delta, and was welcomed by two feet of water in the tug's engine room.

Bilge alarms — as well as eyes and ears — are needed to keep old boats afloat.

The Wanderer should be patient with his Apple stock. With the new dividend, and an iPhone 5 on the way, as well as a new iPad, mini iPad, China, mobile, and iTV, the Force will be with us stockholders!

P.S. Did you read the Bohemian article about the 'anchor-outs' in Richardson Bay?

Capt. Jim Kennedy
Alita, S&S "Weekender"

Capt. Jim — If there isn't an iPhone app for bilge alarms, somebody ought to get on it. Such alarms are needed on new boats as well as old ones. By the way, as we type this reply on August 20, Apple has rebounded from 580 to 660 in the last month to reach an all-time high. And yes, the Wanderer has been patient.

Thanks to your heads-up, we did read 'The Anchor-Outs, In Sausalito's Shadow, a Community Adrift', which appeared in the July 18 Bohemian. Thorough, even-handed, and entertaining, it's probably the best article we've ever read about Richardson Bay anchor-outs, and certainly the best article we've ever read in the Bohemian. The business about some anchor-outs taking "knife showers," in which they scrape the dirt off their bodies with a knife because they don't have access to water showers, gave unusual insight into certain members of that community. The article was produced as a project for the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, a program of USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Well done.


My wife and I are planning to join the '13 Baja Ha-Ha, so we're doing some advanced planning. We expect to be in the Bay Area around the time of the Mexico-Only Crew List Party at the Berkeley YC on September 5, and were wondering if it's open to folks who aren't going this year.

Vic Addison
Emerald Seas, Hunter 38
Alexandria, VA / San Diego

Vic — Of course it's open to everyone. We look forward to meeting you and your wife, and then seeing you at the starting line in '13.


I'm the proud owner of a Cal 20 that I keep in Martinez Marina, and I have a bit of a problem with my boat's rigging. I asked the harbormaster if he knew anyone who could help me, but he didn't. So I'm asking Latitude, do you know anyone who knows how to lower a Cal 20 mast and connect the port shroud? I'm looking for someone who would be willing to do this in exchange for going sailing with me and being treated to dinner at a really nice Chinese restaurant. I can be reached at

Barbara Ludder
Cal 20

Barbara — Pardon us if we're off base, but we're going to make several assumptions, hoping that they are in your best interest. First, we're going to guess that maybe you're fairly new to boat ownership and maybe even sailing. There is nothing wrong with either of those, of course, because we all started knowing nothing.

Our concern is that you have a relatively small boat for the Martinez area, where the wind often blows hard in the summer, where the chop can be tall and steep, and where the tides and river currents can be very strong. If you're an experienced sailor who just doesn't know about rigging, that's cool. But if you're relatively new to sailing, please realize that there are three things you need to know in order to safely sail your boat in those sometimes boisterous waters.

First, you need to know that your boat's primary components are all in good working condition. We're talking about her mast and rigging, sails, rudder, and auxiliary propulsion. None of them have to be brand new, but you have to be able to count on each and every one of them. Secondly, you need to know how to sail your boat well. If you're comfortable gybing her in 25 knots of wind — or even 'chicken gybing' her in 25 knots — you're probably ready. If you're not comfortable with either, you're likely going to find yourself in situations that may unnecessarily scare the hell out of you, thereby ruining any interest you might have in sailing. Lastly, you need to be confident enough in your auxiliary power so you don't freak out when you start getting swept downriver on a light air day.

If you're not yet a pretty competent sailor in strong breezes and chop, we'd recommend that you have somebody help you move your boat down to a berth in Vallejo so you can hone your sailing skills in the Mare Island Strait. Yes, there will be plenty of wind there, but you'll be sailing in flat water, which is many times easier for gaining initial faith in your boat and becoming a better and more confident sailor. You'll also face a much smaller possibility of getting swept down to San Pablo Bay if you have an engine problem. Once you get to know your boat like the back of your hand — and it doesn't take that long if you sail a couple of times a week and concentrate on developing your skills — you can think about moving her back to the more challenging conditions to be found around Martinez.

By the way, learning to sail your boat really well is a blast, particularly with a small boat such as yours. Quick tacks in succession, sudden gybes, figure 8's as close as you can around buoys — stuff like that. There's nothing like having the feeling that your boat is your dance partner.

As for dealing with your mast problem, Cal 20 masts are easily lowered using hoists found at yacht clubs and some marinas. We don't personally know anyone who would fix your port shroud in return for a chance to go sailing and for a Chinese dinner, but we wouldn't be surprised if another Cal 20 sailor, or perhaps another woman sailor, might be willing to at least take a look at your boat out of the goodness of their heart. And we'd have them look over the entire boat carefully. Cal 20s are pretty simple boats, so it shouldn't be that big of a deal. And if you do have to hire a rigger, it would likely be the best money you spend.

Don't get us wrong, the Cal 20 is a fine little boat with a tremendous history, and many San Francisco Bay sailors got their start on them. The first Cal 20 was built by Jensen Marine in '61, and was followed by an astounding 1,944 sisterships. The boats are still actively sailed in countless parts of the United States, and the Cal 20 Association is alive and well after all these years. Indeed, 53 Cal 20s from all over the West Coast recently gathered in Alamitos Bay for the 50th anniversary National Championship.

While designer Bill Lapworth was probably horrified, some bold Cal 20 owners have taken their little boats offshore. At least one Northern California sailor cruised his to Hawaii, and in '08, Robert Crawford, having already done the Singlehanded TransPac to Kauai with an Ericson 32, did it again with the Cal 20 Black Feathers. She is still the smallest boat to have done that 2,200-mile race. Similarly, back in the day of the Midget Ocean Racing Association (MORA), some brave souls raced their Cal 20s from San Francisco to Southern California and Ensenada. More recently, Robert von Ehrenkrook's Cal 20 Can O' Whoopass has put together an enviable record while racing shorthanded both in San Francisco Bay and out in the Gulf of the Farallones. Not that you'd catch us sailing a Cal 20 offshore.

Our apologies if we come across as condescending; we just want you to have the safest and most pleasurable sailing experiences possible.


In the August issue's Letters, Cathy Kirby of the Hunter 41 Manu Kai wrote about having trouble with slippery-soled boat shoes. We have been sailing on the Bay for 40+ years, and for many of those years shared that frustration. Then we discovered that Crocs makes boat shoes. In fact, they make a full line, some cute, some typically funny looking. But no matter if the decks are wet or dry, we've found that they've stuck to the deck remarkably well. I suggest that Cathy check out their website.

Mary Lou Oliver
Cappuccino, Ericson 38


I sense there will be an uptick in U.S. defense spending. If China indeed starts building multihull aircraft carriers, then a fleet of ultralarge supertankers, I think their intentions will be clear.

Of course, this supposed multihull design could all be part of an internet 'gotcha!' But if the Chinese have a very large shipyard that is shrouded from satellite view, we'll need a man on the ground there. I personally doubt that the Chinese could build something like this. After all, big dams and bridges are relatively simple, but a nuclear carrier with a fighter wing?

Larry Watkins
ex-Moondance, Beneteau OC 400
Long Beach

Larry — We say never underestimate an 'opponent', as it's foolish and dangerous. Just ask the many USC alum/mariners we were with at the Harbor Reef Bar at Two Harbors on October 6, 2007. It was on that fateful afternoon that the mighty All-American-studded USC football team, despite being rated #2 in the country and having a 24-game home winning streak, fell to the 41-pt underdog Stanford Cardinal in what many consider the biggest upset in college football history. Mind you, this was a Stanford team that had gone 1-11 the year before, was playing with a backup quarterback who had only thrown three passes, and was playing on SC's home turf. Pride before the fall, baby.

Remember, too, that China is graduating about 400 times more top-flight engineers than the United States per year, and hardly any Chinese engineers are ironic hipsters intent on making fortunes creating video games and social media in San Francisco. Furthermore, take note that a few experts — but certainly not all — believe the Chinese had an Oriental Armada with 27,000 soldiers and sailors before the time of Columbus. The armada is said to have had nine-masted junks, some as much as 400 feet long and 90 feet wide.

Did you notice that the monohull aircraft carrier that the Chinese certainly are building has a ramped-up flight deck, which would seem to be a brilliantly simple way of assisting airplanes in both taking off and landing. Why we didn't think of that? And what's wrong with a catamaran aircraft carrier? After all, the U.S. Navy long ago went over to the 'dark side' with some big troop- and gear-carrying trimarans.

But enough about powerboating, let's get back to sailing.


Was Latitude editor Andy Turpin kidding when he asked if African-American singlehander Cliff Vaughs's having his boat boarded and looted by a group of thugs off the Caribbean coast of Honduras was a case of 'thuggery' rather than 'piracy'? Not only did they take everything Vaughs had, but they took his sailboat Amistad, which ironically means 'friendship', and made him swim to shore.

The guy was robbed and his boat stolen, so what doubt is there that it was 'piracy'? In case you don't have a dictionary, here's one definition: "An illegal act of violence, depredation (e.g., plundering, robbing, or pillaging), or detention in or over international waters committed for private ends by the crew or passengers of a private ship or aircraft against another ship or aircraft or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft."

Dancing around this subject with political correctness is going to get people hurt and killed! But then Latitude is based out of California and I'm in Florida, so we probably have different opinions.

The only place in the Caribbean that doesn't have piracy is the Bahamas. There hasn't been a violent piracy crime in years — at least that I could find out about. Why is that? Because most everyone on boats in the Bahamas is armed! The criminals know it, so they don't mess with boaters.

There were 95 murders in the Bahamas in '10, and all of them took place on New Providence (Nassau). They were all crackhead against crackhead, and no mariners were touched. The point here is that this is the only place in the Caribbean where you can say this. And coincidentally, it's the only place in the Caribbean where you're allowed to carry all the guns you want. Is there a connection?

Why do we humans never learn from our mistakes? There was a quick history of piracy by a maritime attorney that recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal that illustrates my point. In short, Spain discovered the New World and proceeded to loot it. France and England watched, wanting in on the looting, but they weren't ready to start a war with Spain over it. So England sanctioned privateers to harass Spain. Piracy flourished. Later, after England, France, the Netherlands and Spain cut a deal to share the New World, piracy became a nuisance to all of them, so they cut a deal to end piracy. This was accomplished by permitting guns and/or arms on all private and merchant vessels, and promoting the concept of shooting pirates on sight. Equally as important, it allowed pirate and merchant ships to have arms while in port. Piracy was practically eliminated.

Then along came the crooked, self-serving and basically moronic United Nations. (If you don't believe my evaluation, read up on the UN's 'food for oil' program with Iraq.) Starting in the '50s, the UN started promoting laws to prevent guns on ships in ports all over the world. Not because there was any significant crime wave from merchant and private vessels shooting innocent people, but because of Europe's 'no gun' philosophy.

This brings us where we are today. Doesn't it seem silly for companies such as Brinks and Wells Fargo to have armed guards in their armored trucks to protect the cash they collect and distribute? Do they think someone might try to rob them if they weren't armed? Do they think that armed guards are some kind of deterrent? So what's more important to protect with armed guards, a truck with maybe $100,000 in cash, or a ship with a cargo worth tens of millions? With so little risk, no wonder piracy has become such a booming business. But that's the UN for you. Morons!

Fortunately, the pendulum is starting to swing back the other way. Merchant ships have started to arm their vessels because police and military can't be everywhere. And in the case of the Somalis, piracy is down substantially as a result.

So describing the Honduras incident as 'thuggery' seems to be downplaying it — which is a good way to promote and encourage the pirates. And get a lot of mariners hurt. As for those liberal dreamers on boats who believe in having no protection, and who are waiting to get boarded, beaten, robbed and thrown overboard, I'm going to post a sign on my boat that will read: "My boat neighbor does not believe in guns or self-defense, so I will honor his beliefs by not coming to his defense with my guns."

The world is not getting safer, it's getting more dangerous. Hotels, restaurants and the like are laying off young men in tropical areas, and they are going to do what they have to do. As unemployment increases, so will crime. Protecting yourself, not downplaying such incidents, is the only answer.

Timothy Benner
Planet Earth

Timothy — As Latitude Managing Editor Andy Turpin noted, the Amistad incident in Honduras may have fit "the classic definition of piracy," but he wondered if another word might have more accurately described what happened, especially as compared to what Somali pirates have been doing. After all, the Honduras case of 'piracy' seems haphazard and isolated as opposed to the highly organized and repeated instances of Somali piracy.

Not to niggle, but the classic definition of piracy also requires pirates to have a "ship," something we don't believe the Honduran pirates/thugs had.

Not to niggle again, but we can state with certainty that the Bahamas are not the only place in the Caribbean that doesn't have piracy — for the simple reason that the Bahamas are in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean. Beyond that, we don't believe that anyone — except perhaps you — would say that the Caribbean has a problem with piracy. Crime ashore, most definitely, and from time to time crime that occurs on boats, but not piracy as it's normally understood. Which was Mr. Turpin's point.

As for your belief that there is a simple and direct correlation between cruisers carrying guns and being free of the threat of violence, we wish there were compelling evidence that there was such a simple solution.


The term 'crime against cruisers' doesn’t get a lot of attention. 'Piracy' does. Cruisers may choose whether to visit a place where there is crime or not cruise at all. So was it overblown to call the incident in Honduras 'piracy'? Probably. But will the problem get resolved if it's merely called 'petty theft'? I don't think so.

In the Caribbean, the Safety & Security Net was a good source of information. I'm surprised there is nothing like it on the West Coast. is the only other source for piracy information.

I don’t care whether it's a murder, boarding or theft, I want to know the full spectrum of attacks against cruisers in order to use this information to make a well-informed decision, as captain, as to whether I want to economically boycott those places that allow such crimes to occur. I boycotted a few places in the Caribbean, and took precautions in the others where I knew there were risks.

Occasionally, I get the feeling that Latitude tries to minimize crime against cruisers. I’ve read justifications about how Mexico is safer than the United States and seen crime reports buried below the ad section. I know you don’t want to scare people, but everything needs to be reported and be available.

Just my two cents worth.

Dave Deakyne
Tortuguita, Privilege 45
New Jersey / Guaymas

Dave — Marine publications pretty much had a 'don't do death' policy when we started Latitude 35 years ago. But like you, we always thought it was essential that mariners knew about the real risks of sailing and cruising so they could make informed risk-reward decisions as to whether they wanted to participate. Believing it is our journalistic responsibility, it's been our policy since the first issue to report on all maritime deaths and all violent crimes against sailors we hear about, and to warn sailors of particularly crime-ridden ports and areas. We believe this 'telling it like it is' policy was instrumental in Latitude's becoming so successful so quickly. Gee whiz, who would have thought that people would want the unvarnished truth?

That being the case, it more than pisses us off when people such as you suggest that we might be managing the news by either withholding reports of crimes against cruisers or "burying" reports on crime in Mexico "below the ads." Bullshit! We've always put reports of such crimes in either Sightings or Cruise Notes, neither of which ever has ads above it. As for, we like them and think they do a good job, but if you think they — or any other marine media outlet — does a more thorough job of reporting on crime in areas cruisers frequent on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, you don't know what you're talking about.

You know why there isn't a Safety & Security Net in Mexico as there is in the Caribbean? Because there hasn't been a need for one. As we reported last month, we can't recall a case of a violent attack on a cruising boat in Mexico in decades. When we asked our readers last month, they couldn't either. If anyone has evidence to the contrary, we stand ready to be corrected.

You also accuse us of "justifying" how safe it is in Mexico. We've never "justified" the homicide rate; we've merely sought to put it in context with other countries, and with cities in the United States. Since you obviously don't know the facts, prepare to be stunned. Even with the horrible narco-on-narco war in Mexico, the homicide rate down there, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, is 22 per 100,000. That's just a fraction of the homicide rate in Honduras (91), El Salvador (69), Jamaica (52), St. Maarten (47), Venezuela (45), Belize (41), the U.S. Virgins (39), Guatemala (38), St. Kitts & Nevis (37), or Trinidad & Tobago (35). That's right, Dave, the murder rate in Honduras is more than four times higher than in Mexico, and the murder rate in the United States Virgin Islands — which likes to flaunt itself as "America's Paradise" — is more than double that of Mexico. Yet when is the last time CNN, the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times thought that such comparative information was newsworthy? And when was the last time the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning for those thinking about taking a cruise ship to the U.S. Virgin Islands?

Mexico also has a lower homicide rate than the Bahamas (27), Puerto Rico (26), St. Lucia (25), and is about the same as St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Dominica. Surprised? You wouldn't be if even the most revered news organization gave you the facts instead of sensationalism.

When the U.S. news media report on homicides in Mexico, do they mention that the murder rates in many big U.S. cities are much higher? New Orleans (49), St. Louis (40), Baltimore (34), Detroit (34), and Newark (32). Mind you, this is after three years of murder rates generally plummeting in the United States. We won't even mention Chicago, our President's hometown, where more Americans have been murdered this year than in Afghanistan.

We all know, of course, that crime statistics can be misleading. In many places gang-on-gang violence accounts for nearly all the homicides. That's true in most big cities in the United States and in many countries — including Mexico. If you drop out narco-on-narco violence in Mexico, the homicide rate is about 5. Son of a gun, that's about the same as for the United States (4.8). Who would have thought?

For cruisers, the big question is what's the chance of being violently attacked on one's boat? Based on the last 20 years or so, it's much lower — non-existent? — in Mexico when compared to St. Maarten, Antigua, Panama, Honduras, Belize, Colombia, Venezuela, Dominica, the U.S. Virgins — and many other of the most popular cruiser destinations. It's also noteworthy that American and Canadian tourists are generally considered to be sacred cows in Mexico, unlike on many islands in the Caribbean where they are considered prime targets.

The bottom line is that there is no guarantee you won't get attacked or murdered if you cruise in Mexico. But based on historical fact, it's actually one of the safest cruising areas in the Americas. If that changes, we'll be the first to let you know.

What places in the Americas have the lowest homicide rates? Canada (1.6), Martinique (4.2), Anguilla (6.8), Antigua & Barbuda (6.8), Haiti (6.9), Guadeloupe (7), British Virgins (8.6), Turks & Caicos (8.7) Grenada (11.5), Costa Rica (11.3), and Nicaragua (13.6). But this can be misleading, too, because while the homicide rate in Antigua is quite low, the percentage of victims who have been tourists or sailors has been quite high.

Just so you know, when it comes to the world, Africa and the Americas are murder meccas. We kill one another at about five times the rate that people do in Asia, Europe and Oceania.


I'm writing in response to the August issue letter claiming that Southern California fiberglass boats built before the Oil Embargo of '73 had thicker hulls than those built after the embargo. Post embargo oil prices — and therefore resin prices — had skyrocketed.

I was production manager at Westsail during those years, and can well remember facing resin shortages while having lots of orders for sold boats. As a result, we often contacted one of our favorite bootleggers, let them know we needed 1,000 gallons of resin, and set the date and the time for delivery.

We would then have some of the yard guys come in at midnight, open the rear gate of the shop, and have 20 or so 55-gallon drums waiting to be filled. The bootlegger would show up with an unmarked tanker truck from some unknown source, and as cash was handed over, offload the resin into the drums. After a few beers were consumed, the driver would take off, the gate would be locked, and the workers would go home.

Naturally, we tested every drum of resin to make sure it was good before we used it. But given the unknown sources of resin, no wonder so many boats from those years ended up having problems with blisters.

We at Westsail also considered using less fiberglass and resin in the laminate. Cooler heads prevailed, however, as it was decided that if word got out that boats laminated after a certain date had less material in the laminate, it would certainly kill future sales. Instead, we raised the price by enough to compensate for the added resin cost. Westsail continued to laminate and sell over 1,100 boats during the eight-year time span between '72 and '80.

I find it fun to periodically reminisce about the heyday of Southern California boatbuilding, which was in the '70s in Costa Mesa, when the smell of resin and marijuana seemed to float over the entire west side of town.

I also enjoyed the Latitude and 'Lectronic articles about Santa Fe's Mike Johnson, who made so many magnificent passages with his Westsail 32, and who more recently has been doing the same with Gitana, the 44-ft schooner that I designed and built. I recently surveyed the boat for him in the Chesapeake, and found that he keeps her looking like new, despite the many miles and years of sailing that she has seen. It's kind of nice to see one of your 35-year-old children doing so well.

Bud Taplin
Worldcruiser Yacht Co.
Newport Beach

Readers — For those who were young or not alive for the Oil Embargo of '73, it was a very rude shock to Americans accustomed to buying gas for 20 to 30 cents/gallon and having attendants pump it for them and clean their windows to boot. Suddenly fuel prices not only soared to unimagined levels, but gas often wasn't available at any price. Indeed, based on your license plate number, you could only buy gas every other day, and you often had to wait in line around blocks for the privilege.

For those who weren't alive or into sailing in the '70s, Southern California, and Costa Mesa in particular, was indeed the center of the universe for the building of fiberglass production boats. Cal, Columbia, Coronado, Newport, Ericson, Islander, Ranger, MacGregor, Westsail, DownEast, Challenger, and many more, were doing gangbuster business in the Southland.

It's said that necessity is the mother of invention, and that was true with boatbuilder responses to the leap in the cost of resin. A few manufacturers simply raised their prices to cover the increase. But in the early days of fiberglass boats, most 'engineering' was done by trial and error, and most builders erred on the side of way overbuilding the hulls. With dramatically higher resin prices, more emphasis was placed on science-based engineering, and it was discovered that boats could be made as strong if not stronger using a combination of better engineering, better glassing techniques, and better materials — but less resin. These boats would generally be lighter, too, which generally made them a little faster.

Whether pre-'73 fiberglass boats are stronger than post-'73 fiberglass boats was always good for a waterfront argument — until the folks who had been around back then mellowed with age.


I'm working day in and day out getting my little Falmouth Cutter 22 ready for a winter in Baja. The problem is that I'm still hopeful of finding a crewmate with the opposite genitalia of mine to join me, and in my optimism, I'm trying to make space for such a person on my impossibly small boat.

There are things making space tight. For example, five years of back issues of Latitude, as I can't seem to part with a single one. And so far I have loaded six months' worth of dog food, six cases of wine, and three months' worth of beans, rice, pasta, and other treats. All the little things that make life fun.

I find that I now have everything I need except space for a crewmate, so the question is, do I find a girl or keep my beloved back issues? I'm torn and it's all Latitude's fault.

Alan Oberlander
Thè, Falmouth Cutter 22
Bellingham, WA

Alan — The solution is simple. Keep the back issues of Latitude, keep the space for the woman, but donate all that dog food, pasta, beans, and other food stuff to charity. Like a lot of first-time cruisers, you seem to be under the impression there is no food in Mexico. Trust us, they've got food. In fact, there's a huge Costco right outside Cabo San Lucas and in most other big Mexican cities. No need to ruin your boat's performance by overloading her with staples you can find everywhere.

More seriously, we recommend that you buy an iPad for navigation, news, email, books — and so you can read all the issues of Latitude without taking up any space at all. Remember, too, that Latitude photographs look 10 times better online than on newsprint. As for the space for a female crewmate, you're not going to need it, you old romantic, if you continue to identify women by the fact that they have "opposite genitalia." Women like to think there's a little more to it than that.

One last tip. It's often cold in Baja over the winter, certainly too cold for swimming. It's warm on the mainland, and it's not that far away. But no matter what you do, be safe and have a great time.


Alene and I really enjoyed the July 25 'Lectronic report on the New York Times' report on Wave Vidmar's proposed kayak trip from Sausalito to Hawaii. Well-written and funny, it was a nice diversion on this grey morning in the South Pacific.

Bruce Balan
Migration, Cross 45 trimaran
California / South Pacific

Bruce — When it comes from a guy whose has cruised as far as you and your wife have, the compliment means a lot. So others know what you're talking about, and because there is a lot of history, we suppose we should reprint the item:

"We rarely stray beyond sailing at Latitude, but today we lost our path thanks to a sometimes unintentionally funny and sometimes factually inaccurate story in the New York Times. The story is about 48-year-old Wave Vidmar, who apparently is soon to depart Horseshoe Cove in Sausalito for 2,200-mile-distant Hawaii aboard a double-ended kayak.

"In the first sentence, the Times wrote that if Vidmar succeeds, it will be the longest voyage of its kind. And later in the article, a member of Vidmar's staff tells the Times, 'The expedition will redefine what can be achieved with solo open ocean travel.'

"These claims are kind of funny because in the very same article the Times reports that in '67, Edward Gillet kayaked from Monterey to Hawaii, arriving 63 days — and 25 lbs — later. So how can Vidmar's proposed trip to Hawaii really be any longer than Gillet's? And how could Vidmar possibly 'redefine' what's already been done?

"Had the Times done a little research, they also would have discovered that back in '51, Dr. Hannes Lindemann kayaked across the Atlantic in a Klepper inflatable kayak, using a model that is still in production today. But that's nothing compared to the accomplishments of Oskar Speck. Over a course of seven years in the '30s, Speck used a foldable kayak to make it all the way from Germany to Australia. If anybody is going to 'redefine open ocean solo travel,' they are going to have to deal with Speck's legacy.

"We don't want to rain on Vidmar's planned parade — after all, he has 100 times the courage we have — but we would like to provide some context for what he is planning to do. First of all, did you know that more than 300 people have rowed across the Atlantic Ocean? And that one man 'swam' across, sleeping at night in his little boat? And that another fellow — obviously French — drifted across the Atlantic on a mooring ball? And that it's farther across the Atlantic than it is from San Francisco to Hawaii.

"Indeed, drifting is the main moving force for many of these small boat ocean accomplishments. Lindemann, for instance, went with the wind and current across the Atlantic. Dr. Alain Bombard did the same, when he took off to prove his inflatables were seaworthy. But we'll give Bombard bonus points, because he set off with nothing more than a sextant and very little food.

"One wonder of Gillet's 63-day 'paddle' to Hawaii is that it took so very long. Our old friend George Sigler who, as the owner of the long-gone Survival & Safety in Alameda founded the Singlehanded TransPac, once drifted from San Francisco to within 60 miles of Hawaii in just 56 days on a big sloppy raft. And that included getting rolled the first night and losing virtually all of his and his partner's supplies.

"If a kayaker wants to impress us as having paddled — as opposed to drifted — across the Pacific s/he will have to do it from Hawaii to San Francisco.

"Three other phony factual claims in the Times had us scratching our heads: 1) That Vidmar could face seas up to 45 feet high. Right. Although we suppose that could be true if he paddled to the North Shore of Oahu and joined the surfers waiting for the first big swell of winter. 2) That if he needs to be rescued, it could take days for help to arrive. We suppose that would be true if his EPIRB broke and/or the AMVER rescue system suddenly failed. And, 3) the trip will be about 3,000 miles. Does Vidmar plan on going to Hawaii by way of Cabo San Lucas?

"And now, back to sailing."


Latitude needs to do a little fact-checking as well. Lindemann did not cross the Atlantic in an inflatable Klepper kayak, but in a foldable Klepper kayak. Klepper doesn't make inflatable kayaks.

Anytime I read something that Latitude writes, I feel I have to check your facts because you handle them very loosely, e.g. such as declaring India as having the fourth largest economy in the world.

Richard Leute
Acey Deucy, J/44

Richard — One of the challenges we face trying publish as much original editorial content as we do with an editorial staff that could fit into an El Toro is that, individually and collectively, our minds sometimes become so overloaded that we transpose numbers and facts, and we don't always get as much time to double-check facts that we're just pretty sure are accurate. It's a pity, but it's also why we always remind people never to believe everything they read. No matter where they read it.

That said, we think the fact that we forgot that Klepper crossed the Atlantic in a foldable as opposed to an inflatable kayak is hardly as serious an error as was the Times reporting that Vadmar would be accomplishing something that hadn't been done before. Or that he'd have to worry about 45-ft waves, and that it would be a 3,000-mile trip, all of which were more significant factual boo-boos.

That said, we read the New York Times every day, as we think it's important to understand the perspective of a few rather affluent opinion-makers who live in one small but very densely populated part of the Northeast.


When it comes to paddle-powered trips, don't forget Dana and Virginia Lamb's canoe/kayak trip from San Diego to Panama in the '30s. It was chronicled in Enchanted Vagabonds, their classic armchair adventure book.

Larry Radcliffe
Ladies Choice, Catalina 27
Pt. Richmond


I've read about the baseball games between members of the Ha-Ha fleet and residents of Turtle Bay, the event's first stop. I'm an athletic equipment manager and have access to extra equipment, but only want to give the stuff away to places where it would really be appreciated.

Ken Bliss
San Luis Obispo

Ken — The folks in Turtle Bay, population of about 2,500, are crazy about baseball. They have four traveling teams, and their 'six years and under' squad traveled to Cabo to capture the championship of Baja for their age group. In a small town where many of the kids don't have much at all, a ball, a glove, a bat — or even a hat — is a much-appreciated gift.


I've got a story that should be of interest to sailors who enjoy classic sailing yachts, particularly ones that have had a bit of an unusual history. The yacht I'm referring to is Kamali'i, the 75-ft centerboard ketch that was built in Southern California in '58. She was commissioned by Edward 'Larry' Doheny III, the grandson of Edward Doheny. In the '20s, Edward Doheny was said to be the richest man in America, having made his fortune in oil in the Los Angeles area and Mexico.

With more money than God, grandson Larry spared no expense when having the yacht built. He had her designed by Phillip Rhodes, a premiere naval architect of the era, and had her built at Wilmington Boat Works, one of the great yards of the time. Kamali'i is truly a magnificent piece of yachting history. She's 75 feet LOA, 54 on the waterline, has a beam of 18'2", and displaces a shocking 143,000 lbs.

Larry Doheny was an avid yachtsman, and raced Kamali'i in all the TransPacs between '59 and '71. After Doheny died in '99, Kamali'i languished in Newport Beach until she was purchased by James Booth of Auckland. For quite some time now she's been undergoing a major restoration and refit in Newport Beach.

I'm a marine scientist and a volunteer at the Center for Wooden Boats, and am happy to say that I've been invited to help sail the ketch from Newport Beach to Auckland, with one stop in Tonga. The crew for the trip to New Zealand will consist of the new owner, two guys from New Zealand, two from the United States, and two from the United Kingdom.

As always, there have been delays in getting the work completed, so we'll not leave in early August as planned. But by the time this letter makes print, the owner and crew should have arrived in Southern California, and we should be in the process of completing a couple of weeks of shakedown sailing in the Channel Islands. After that, we'll set sail for Auckland. Because of our late start — well into the hurricane season — we will initially be heading west toward Hawaii, and then south for our first landfall in Tonga. The final leg will be Tonga to New Zealand.

I'm looking forward to sending reports to Latitude on the trip.

Wayne Haight

Readers — There's some fascinating history here. Edward Doheny, a part-time painter and prospector, arrived in the small town of Los Angeles from Santa Fe in the late 1800s. He was so broke he couldn't pay for his room and board. But when he spotted tar-asphalt just below the surface at the current site of the parking lot of the Echo Park swimming pool in downtown Los Angeles, he borrowed $400 from a part-time business partner, and using picks and shovels, plus a drilling system that utilized the trunk of a eucalyptus tree, dug down 225 feet. It was either the first or second well drilled in downtown Los Angeles, and produced 40 barrels a day. That wasn't a lot, but it was the first step in the drilling of 300 more wells in the area.

Doheny cleverly got the railroads to switch from coal to oil to power their locomotives, then went down to Mexico in search of oil. In '16, his company's Cerro Azul #4 well exploded with a stream of oil 600 feet in the air and a blast that could be heard 16 miles away. For many years it was the world's biggest producing well, and would indirectly lead to the formation of PEMEX. That Doheny produced so much oil in Los Angeles back when it supplied 25% of the world's oil, and owned the world's most productive well, made him fabulously wealthy. The Doheny name is all over Southern California, from Beverly Hills to Dana Point. Well-known for philanthropy, the Doheny name was nonetheless besmirched as the result of his bribing the Secretary of the Interior in order to get very lucrative no-competition bid-on rights to Kern County oil in the historic Teapot Dome Scandal.

Now for some fun sailing history. Edward's grandson Larry raced Kamali'i in every TransPac from '59 to '71. Shortly after the conclusion of the '71 race, and just prior to his delivery crew's setting sail for California, Kamali'i was hijacked from the Ala Wai by three young numbskulls from the mainland. Armed with knives, they forced the three-man delivery crew to take Kamali'i out of the marina and head in the general direction of Tahiti. About 170 miles out, the hijackers, who knew nothing about sailing, despite one's service in the Coast Guard, put the crew in a liferaft and continued on. Incredibly fortunate, the displaced crew were picked up in the middle of nowhere by an Italian ship taking bananas to Tokyo. The Coast Guard was alerted of the ketch's general position, and a plane was sent to search for her. According to news reports, the hijackers tried to "hide in a line squall" 300 miles from Honolulu, but were spotted by the Coast Guard plane.

Soon, Larry Doheny and crew arrived on the scene aboard a Coast Guard cutter. Initially the hijackers were defiant, flipping the bird to the Coast Guard and the yacht's angry owner. But the sight of guns gave the hijackers a change of heart. Doheny and crew boarded Kamali'i and locked the hapless hijackers in a forward locker for what must have been a long, strange beat back to Honolulu. Kamali'i broke down nine miles from the Ala Wai and had to be towed in.

Kamali'i was not the first Doheny vessel to be threatened. In December of '41 — which for you young readers was just after the outbreak of World War II — an Imperial Japanese submarine attacked the 7,000-ton oil tanker Larry Doheny near Cape Mendocino. Four shells hit the bridge of the tanker, but thanks to the help of a U.S. military plane, the tanker escaped.


I have a couple of follow-up observations on the "Time For A Baycation" article in the July issue. There are serious depth issues going into Treasure Island Marina. First of all, the channel is not marked. Based on my experience, I suggest clinging to the pier and shore to the right when entering. The center approach can be very challenging at low tide.

In addition, The Winery, although only a stone's throw from the marina, is no match for several other wineries about a 20-minute walk away. Especially Bodega Wine Estates, which is well worth the effort needed to get there.

Jon Price
Adagio, S2 9.2A


To further the discussion in last month's Latitude about collisions between boats and whales, these are tragedies for both the whales and the humans, and we need to apply some more thinking about how to warn whales that our boats are coming their way.

I'm not sure if much serious research/engineering has been done on keeping whales and small boats apart, but there has been lots of research done in the hope of preventing collisions between large ships and whales. Particularly North Atlantic Right Whales in the Stellwagen Bank area northeast of Boston.

Sailors along the West Coast would be concerned mainly with grey whales, of which there are about 20,000 that migrate up and down the coast. They usually travel within a few miles of the California coast, and if equally spaced in a long line, would be about 100 feet apart. So knowing where they are and keeping a good watch during the migration season would help.

It's likely that most collisions occur when whales are sleeping. But I'm sure that there is a better way to announce the approach of one's small boat than by playing rock music or horns through our hulls. Horns work pretty well on our highways, which are an acoustically-poor atmosphere. Whales are highly tuned in to their acoustic environment, and the ocean environment is superb for acoustic transmission. Perhaps the sounds made by an approach of killer whales would wake them up.

Hopefully some enterprising marine engineering groups, such as those up and down the California coast, will pick up the challenge. A working warning system, especially one that is a simple add-on to a depth-sounding system, should be a popular seller. The whales are increasing in population, which is a good thing, and we need to learn how to live with them.

Steve Eittreim
Unanimous, CS-30
South Beach Harbor

Steve — We were motoring Profligate north about 10 miles off the coast of La Jolla a few weeks ago when we came across a line of blue whales. At up to 100 feet in length, the blues are the largest known animals to have ever lived. The line of whales extended for as far as the eye could see in both directions. What we wouldn't have given to have had a device that could have warned them of our approach! Alas, we don't think the technology exists. Yeah, we could figure out a way to make the whales hear us, but West Marine doesn't yet sell a device that tells the whales we mean no harm, and that we just want to pass by them.


Harbormaster McKay and I were having a debate over the cost of chartering 'ti Profligate during the months of November and December in the British Virgin Islands. In the ad on page 121 of a recent issue, it said that the boat was available for five weeks in November and December for $4,995. Our disagreement is about whether or not the $4,995 is for one week or for five weeks.

P.S. I love Latitude and have been reading it since it was in single digits.

Doug Royer
Sudden Impulse, Catalina 27

Doug — Perhaps the ad wasn't worded as clearly as it could have been. 'ti Profligate is a Leopard 45 catamaran that sleeps eight in four cabins with heads/showers ensuite. And you're correct, it's $4,995 per week, not for five weeks. The 'five weeks' refers to the fact that the price jumps in mid-December as the season heats up.

If Harbormaster McKay wants to shop around, we think he'll find that it's a killer deal. To put the 'ti Profligate price in context, a new California-based sailing media outfit has rented smaller Lagoon 41 catamarans for that same time period, and from the same BVI Yacht Charter folks who manage our cat. The media company is charging $4,100 per double cabin for their cats, or just $400 less than all four cabins on 'ti Profligate. True, their cats come with a captain. But when the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca run 'ti Profligate for the St. Barth Bucket in St. Barth, we only charge $2,500 per cabin. And there's an Olson 30 thrown into the mix. It's as they say, when companies compete, the customer wins.


On Page 125 of the August issue you had an article, plus a supporting photo, from Whidbey Island Race Week. The photo shows a woman exposing her breast. On page 124, the opposite page, there's an article about young junior sailors competing in the Governor's Cup, but with no supporting photos. Where is your head at? What were you thinking?

Youth sailing is a major sport that contributes to Olympic sports. The Governor's Cup contributes to America's Cup sailing. Your choice of photos says 'where you're at'.

Bob Strang
Sky, Hylas 49
Mud Island, TN

Bob — We think you can best evaluate where our editorial heads "are at" by reading the entirety of the 172-page issue, not just extrapolating from one photograph out of several hundred.

We can see how you might have made the mistake, but the photo of the woman with the exposed breast on page 125 — as well as the photo of the bare-breasted women in Sightings — are actually from the Bay View Boat Club's famous Plastic Classic Regatta, not Whidbey Island Race Week.

The partially clothed women at the 'T Mark' — we'll let you guess what that's supposed to mean — have a greater historical significance than you apparently realize. If you go to 560 Broadway in San Francisco's North Beach, you'll see a bronze historical plaque that proclaims that it was in the little Condor Club on June 19, 1964, that waitress Carol Doda, then a 34B, climbed atop a white piano, took off her top, and began dancing erotically, allegedly giving birth to topless dancing in the United States. Within days, every other bar on Broadway featured topless dancers, and within weeks there were women in scanty outfits dancing in cages above Broadway. Thanks to the mobs of people, it took a couple of hours to drive a block on those nights. About five years later, having long before augmented herself to 44s, Ms. Doda upped the erotic ante by going bottomless at the same Condor Club, another alleged first for the United States.

These incidents are part of the treasured history of San Francisco, sort of the equivalents to Washington's crossing the Potomac in D.C. or Paul Revere's ride through Boston. As such, when the Bay View Boat Club organizers of the Plastic Classic Regatta for older fiberglass boats wanted to publicize the event and have a little fun, it was only natural that they got Ms. Doda — and her classic plastic breasts — to serve as the T Mark. While Ms. Doda no longer shows for the event, other fun-loving women stand in her stead for a few laughs and to uphold a San Francisco tradition. Sort of like the Daughters of the American Revolution marching in Fourth of July parades and the peasants running with the bulls in Pamplona. We know this is naughty, ribald, scandalous, disgusting — pick any two — behavior, but it's what passes for very mild-mannered good fun in San Francisco, and therefore demands our coverage.

If you think we're pandering to the prurient interests of our readers with such photos, that's insulting. If we wanted to give our readers erotic photos of women, we could do a hell of a lot better. And trust us, the requests for such photos are never-ending.

As for junior sailing, the interest is naturally intense among family members and a few yacht clubs, but virtually doesn't register with the average Latitude reader. Or advertiser. Furthermore, the Olympics and the America's Cup notwithstanding, we believe it's healthy for junior sailors to sail in relative obscurity for as long as they can. Lord knows there is plenty of evidence of how destructive too much fame can be on the young.

Before any San Franciscan goes to all the trouble of writing us about the third famous incident at the Condor Club, we'll share it with everyone. In November of '83, Jimmy Ferrozzo, the extremely overweight PR rep for the Condor, and Theresa Hill, an exotic dancer, decided to have sex atop the famous white piano after the club had closed. During the flailings of love-making, one of them accidently hit the switch that activated the hydraulic system that raised and lowered the piano. Alas, the two lovers were apparently so lost in passion that they didn't realize, until too late, that the piano they were on was headed toward the ceiling. Ferrozzo was soon crushed to death. Hill, after being compacted with the dead man for several hours, was eventually discovered by a janitor and survived. "If Jimmy had to die young, he would have wanted to die doing something he loved," said a co-worker.

Anyone who thinks that we made any of this up is encouraged to Google it.


I got a laugh out of the August 13 'Lectronic item that compared boat names to the people on them or the actions of the boats. For example, two people snoozing in the afternoon sun beneath the name Thriller, and Clueless as the name of a boat that almost swamped your boat with their wake.

But I wonder if you've ever considered commissioning a study to test the validity of the long-held belief that there is an inverse correlation between how noisy a boat is and the size of the owner's penis?

Stephen Faber
Sherri Lynn, Grand Banks

Stephen — To be perfectly honest, we've never considered commissioning such a study. One reason is that we're not really that interested. Another is that we don't have the money. However, you might try the National Institute for Health, the ones who decided to spend five years and several million dollars to determine whether alcohol consumption by Chinese prostitutes — in China, not the United States — was related to their contracting HIV. It seems as if that government agency might have more money than they know what to do with.


The correct name for what you were talking about in the August 13 'Lectronic is 'aptronym', which means a humorously appropriate name. Such as 'Grace' for a clumsy woman, or 'Speedy' for a pet slug.

EJ Koford
Patches, Floating Fourteen
Elk Grove

EJ — It would seem 'aptronym' doesn't work in this context as it means "a name that matches the occupation or character of its owner." We couldn't find a word that describes the opposite of aptronym, so maybe we should coin one. How about 'opptronym'?


The best name we've ever seen — and we've been around — was on a rather rough steel cruising boat that had no doubt been homebuilt by someone's little brother. She was named Rumpledsteelskin. The name still brings a smile to our faces.

Jim & Ann Cate
Insatiable II, Sayer 46
Iluka Harbour, Clarence River, NSW, Oz


I haven't seen a boat named TotheMotus, but that's going to be the name of my boat when I get one. I thought of it after being in Tuamotus, one of my favorite places in the world, after the Puddle Jump last year.

Jennifer Martindale
Sayulita, Mexico


While we were in Marina de La Paz, there was a Karma right across from a Kismet. I guess it was fate. I remember the amusing confusion on the Ha-Ha morning net when Whatchagonnado came up.

John Fluno
Alias, Hylas 47
Santa Rosa

John — Barritt Neal tells us that he and his wife Renee woke up on their Peterson 44 Serendipity in Trinidad one morning to find they were between two other boats named Serendipity.


While in Newport, Rhode Island, many years ago, I saw a boat named Overdue. I couldn't help wondering what would happen the first time he called the Coast Guard. "Coast Guard, this is the vessel Overdue . . . ."

David Forbes
Mr. Squigley, Colgate 26


Mark Denzer's Sonoma 30 Cowabunga lived up to her name by sinking in the Kauai Channel last month. Fortunately all seven crew, including Zack, Mark's son, are all right. Mark wasn't aboard, as this was the delivery home after this year's Kauai Channel Race.

Tim Dick
Sausalito / Honolulu

Tim — We're not sure how the name Cowabunga relates to a boat sinking. As we always understood it, Cowabunga! was the way Chief Thunderthud — he being the only Native American to ever sport a mustache — greeted the Peanut Gallery in the old Howdy Doody Show. It later became a popular form of greeting between surfers.


I saw a boat named The Office. I can just picture a boat-owner telling his wife or girlfriend that he is "going to The Office." Or, "I can't talk right now, I'm at The Office."

Robertta Edwards

Robertta — At least he wouldn't be lying.


My favorite is Never Again II.

Michael Roth

Michael — Never Again II is actually a pretty common boat name. We have a friend in the Caribbean — back in the day he wanted to take West Marine public — who was most recently up to a big catamaran called Never Again V.


Some of my favorite boat names from Marina del Rey were Doctor's Orders and Branch Office, both great excuses for not coming to work. "I can't come in today, Doctor's Orders." Or, "He's not available today, he's at the Branch Office." But my all-time favorite was Ape Ship.

Two Bay Area favorites are Gruntled and Wife Not Happy, both of which should rank high on any list of funny names.

In regard to the photo that ran in the August 13 'Lectronic, it looks to me as if the grounded vessel in the photo, with Brooks Island in the background, may have been outside the channel to Marina Bay. Every so often a skipper gets tempted by what looks like open water, and strays outside the marked channel trying to take a shortcut, and runs aground. But if you trust your depthsounder and navigation, and have a shallow enough draft vessel, it is possible to circumnavigate Brooks Island at the higher tides. If you’re willing to take the risk of getting stuck for a tide cycle.

Stephen Orosz
Harbormaster, Marina Bay Yacht Harbor

Readers — We've always thought Gruntled was the most clever boat name ever, assuming that it was the back formation of a word that didn't even exist. But it turns out that 'gruntle' really is a word which, despite the sound, means pleased, satisfied, or contented.


Our Amel Exit Strategy uses a simple float gauge for the 1,000-liter water tank. The gauge goes up and down against a calibrated scale, and is readily visible near the companionway. Our boat's fuel tank is, on the other hand, measured with an aluminum dipstick. The stick never lies, so there is never any guesswork — and you know when you're getting ripped off by one of the fuel vendors in Turtle Bay.

Dave Benjamin
Exit Strategy, Amel Maramu


Sight gauges work perfectly — provided you have the space for them. Actually, it's things like sight gauges on tanks that set proper boat design apart from the other kind.

Martin Goldsmith
ex-Gold Eagle
Seal Beach


The Tank Tender system I have now for my two water and two fuel tanks never seems to read right. I've had them calibrated full and empty, but get different results from one reading to the next.

My Peterson 33 had a float type system that would read full on the starboard tack and almost empty on the port. With my Ericson, I used a marked stick that I dipped in the fill hole.

My older Catana catamaran had the best system ever — sight gauges. These consisted of tubes brazed to the top and bottom of the tank, connected by clear fuel hose. This was the perfect system, as it was simple, easy to read, and had no moving parts.

Brent Schneider
Cyclone, Morgan Nelson-Marek 36

Brent — We've owned 11 boats over the years, and most of them had the usual float gauges. Most of them worked most of the time, but it was a pain when they didn't. We used to have a wooden stick to measure the fuel in the big tank on our Ocean 71 Big O. As Dave Benjamin wrote above, "the stick never lies." Sticks are cheap, too. A four-foot long 3/16" maple dowel costs about $2.40 at Home Depot. We think sight gauges are simple and accurate, but more simple and accurate than a stick?


If your boat has an engine hour meter, you don't need a fuel gauge. The way the engines in boats are used, the consumption is pretty steady. Based on the hours you've run your engine, you know how much you've consumed and when to refuel.

Richard Leute
Acey Deucy, J/44

Richard — In times of normal usage, we think you've got a great solution. But fuel consumption estimates may be way off when doing something like a Baja Bash.


We spent almost 10 years cruising Mexico and the Pacific Coast down as far as Panama aboard our Hunter 42, and enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. In '06, we settled in a house in Channel Islands Harbor and now each month we relive our cruising adventure through the pages of Latitude 38. Whether it's a picture of boats anchored in San Francisco or San Juanico, or a discussion of Norm Goldie or just finding boat parts, the Letters and articles in Latitude make our day. After six years we still look forward to each issue.

Since it's almost time for this year's cruisers to be making their way to San Diego and points south, we encourage Northern California and Pacific Northwest sailors to remember Channel Islands Harbor. It's easy to enter, there are plenty of guest docks, and it's convenient to shopping and all levels of restaurants — not to mention being the gateway to cruising our magnificent Channel Islands.

One of the highlights of this great stop — and located right on the main channel — is the Channel Islands Maritime Museum, displaying fine art from the 17th century on, as well as world-class ship models. It's well worth the time.

Gene & Kandy Harter
Passage, Hunter 42
Channel Islands Harbor

Gene and Kandy — Thanks for the kind words and advice.



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