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October 2012

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As soon as I saw the August 27 'Lectronic photo of the woman flaking the overhanging mizzen on Peter Harrison's Farr 115 Sojana, I immediately thought back to my days when I worked on the tall ship Californian. We had to do something similar, as someone would have to climb out to the end of the 50-ft boom, which hung over the transom, to flake the mainsail. We had a female deckhand named Sarah who was the best at it. You asked about a name for that job. Sarah liked to call it "ridin' cowboy" because you literally had to straddle the boom between your legs, and hold on to the leach of the sail for balance, as though you were riding a bucking bronco.

Mike Loesch
Jacksonville, FL


I see lazy jacks. Stands to reason she must be a 'Lazy Susan'.

Alan Mathison
Effie, Morgan 43
Santa Cruz

Alan — That's pretty funny, but only because we know you meant it with affection.


Miz Flakey Puff 2012.

Dean Wallis
Auckland, New Zealand

Dean — The woman is flaking a sail on what's probably an 80-ft mast while sitting high above the water well behind the transom of the boat, and you want to call her 'Miz Flakey Puff'?


On the Windjammers here in Maine, we call it 'cowboying' the sail. I guess it's because you're riding the boom. By the way, is that Becca West, a former deckhand on Roseaway? If so, Sarah and Jay say 'hi'.

Sarah Burnham & Jay Swett
Sea Angel, Kelly-Peterson 44
Rockland, ME

Sarah and Jay — Sorry, but we're not sure who the woman is; we just knew she was doing a good job. But based on your letter and others, we guess the proper job title — or action — is 'cowboying' or 'cowgirling'. Both of which are better than the most common suggestions we received, which were: Mizz Flaker, Mizzen Maid, Mizzen Mensch, Mizzen Miss, Mizzen Missy, Mizzen Ms, Mizzen Mistress and Boom Mistress.


As one man to another, I'm disappointed in your continued practice of objectifying women, in particular, noticing their appearance first and foremost. Most recently, I refer to the August 27 'Lectronic Latitude:

"Except for cooks and stewardesses, the overwhelming number of crew on large sailing yachts are male. But there are exceptions. In fact, at any big boat center — St. Martin, Antigua, Newport — there are always a couple of boats with a gal, invariably young and attractive, who is one of the deckhands. And we're not talking about token princess deckhands. These gals are smart, strong, and gutsy, and wear their minor wounds as sources of pride. They like to think of themselves as being one of the guys, but they aren't. They look and smell too good, and are usually more responsible and mature for their age.

"We got to thinking about this the other day when we were looking through our photos of last year's Voiles de St. Barth, and came across this photo of an attractive gal singlehandedly flaking the massive mizzen aboard Sir Peter Harrison's much-traveled Farr 115 Sojana. Note that she's about 15 feet in the air and well aft of the boat's transom. We suppose there are a lot of guys who find voluptuous young actresses in gowns and heels on red carpets or Playmates naked near a pool to be particularly attractive. Not us. Tan, fit and knowledgeable — we think that's a very attractive look in a young woman. So here's looking at all you gals!

"By the way, flaking a mizzen on a 115-footer is such a big job that we think it deserves its own job title. Any suggestions?"

I'm going to assume that I am older than you, and know that back in the '50s such behavior was common. Our society has gone through much to try to level the playing field, and your language reflects a little of that change. But your frequent focus on the women you include in the online version of Latitude being primarily on their appearance, followed with some acknowledgment of their competency, is disappointing. You might note that — to the best of my recollection in reading your material a couple of times per week over the last couple of years — you have never commented on the physical attractiveness of the male sailors you have written about.
Sexism — although I would be willing to bet you would strongly deny you are sexist in any way — runs deep within us. I believe it is in all men raised in our society. It's just how we 'act' in our public personas that either consciously or unconsciously reflects that embedded sexism, or otherwise we'd choose to be our better selves and not act it out.

A.S.D., A Concerned Reader
Ann Arbor

A.S.D. — We do the best we can. For example, the day after we got your letter, we flew to L.A. on Southwest Airlines. As we were about to deplane, a little old lady glanced up toward her big carry-on bag in the overhead bin, then looked at us with a smile and said, "I'm an immigrant from the Philippines." It was clear that she wanted our help in getting her bag down.

"We'd love to help you with your bag," we responded, "but as we wouldn't make the same offer to a strapping young lad, it would mean that we were guilty of discrimination based on our embedded sexism — to say nothing of our embedded ageism and sizeism. But welcome to America anyway!" Then we walked off the plane, leaving her to deal with her problem as best she could.

Okay, we didn't do that. We did the politically incorrect thing by helping her, hoping that not too many people would notice.

You lose your bet! As we've written many times before, we are sexist. And like everyone else, we're also ageist, sizeist, racist, and all the other -ists. Most people think discrimination is necessarily wrong. It can be, but not necessarily, as it's also what keeps us healthy and alive. But that's a discussion for another magazine.

We don't want to criticize the accuracy of your recollections, but Latitude has indeed commented on the physical attractiveness of male sailors. The handsome and studly Shannon Falcone of Antigua and the Oracle America's Cup Team is only the most recent. (By the way, he's not just handsome and studly, he's a good sailor, too.)

You'll probably also be surprised to learn that only one Latitude editor has ever had pin-ups of the opposite sex around their computer. And frankly, she's proud of her appreciation of certain male physical characteristics. We guess this means she's sexist, but we still like her.

As one man to another, we suggest you get out of the uptight progressive orthodoxy of Ann Arbor from time to time, and maybe do a little work on what appears to be your stunted sense of humor.


Thank you for acknowledging women in sailing who don't have to get half-naked to prove their worth and attract attention.

Carol Putnam
Walnut Creek

Carol — You're welcome. And thank you for getting the point of our running the photo. While it varies for each individual, we've found that women generally make fine sailors. As you've read in the pages of Latitude, it's been proven by females as young as 14-year-old circumnavigator Laura Dekker, and as senior as Jeanne Socrates, now preparing for her third singlehanded circumnavigation. We won't even mention fabulous French singlehanders, Dawn Riley's America's Cup effort, the Singlehanded TransPac'ers, or all the female-skippered cruising boats.

Personally, we try to sail with as many women as possible. For example, we had four females and just two males aboard Profligate for the recent Ta-Ta. True, it was a little heavy on the estrogen, but the boat sure was clean.


I enjoyed the September report on the current status of Kamali'i, the 75-ft centerboard ketch that had been commissioned by Larry Doheny in 1958, and the report on how she had been hijacked from the Ala Wai following the '71 TransPac.

It reminds me of a fun story from my checkered past with Larry Doheny. Since there were problems with Customs and paperwork on the Mexican end prior to the start of the '70 race to Mazatlan, the Mazatlan Customs inspector was invited to the kick-off dinner as a guest of host Los Angeles YC. As luck would have it, he was picked up on a DUI after the party and hauled off to jail. Fortunately, the Los Angeles YC was able to get him released and sent back to Mexico.

Upon the fleet's arrival in Mazatlan, the formerly jailed Customs inspector decided he would show us gringos how justice worked in Mexico. None of the race boats were able to clear Customs without paying off various officials. Furthermore, no boats were able to retrieve their cruising and delivery gear, which had been sent down earlier and stored in a Customs warehouse.

In response, Larry Doheny called a meeting aboard Kamali’i of all skippers who had gear being held in the Customs warehouse. Larry explained that he had rented a flatbed truck, and that we would stage a raid on the warehouse the following day, a Mexican holiday, around the noon siesta. He advised all the skippers to have their boats ready to leave the docks as soon as they had loaded their gear aboard.

With more than a little trepidation, we did break down the large wooden door of the Customs warehouse, got our gear, and rushed out of Dodge. A bunch of us met up along the way back up to California, and over a few cold ones had a great time reliving the escapade.

No one told the Dohenys what they could and couldn't do. Things were just done differently in those days.

Steve Taft
Santa Barbara

Readers — We didn't start sailing to and in Mexico until '77, which is quite a while after the incident that you describe. But we can assure readers that Mexico was a much more foreign country then than it is now.


I think you made a mistake when you wrote that l'Hydroptère DCNS had right of way over Monarch in the video you posted on the September 7 'Lectronic. According to the Rules of the Road (COLREGS Rule #13), any vessel overtaking another needs to keep clear of the overtaken vessel, even when sailboats are overtaking powerboats.

John Farnsworth
Hunter 46LE

John — We indeed made a mistake. We were so besotted with the exciting footage that we didn't pay enough attention to the relative courses of the two vessels, and thereby didn't fully appreciate the fact that l'Hydroptère was the overtaking — and therefore burdened — vessel.

For those who haven't seen the video, check out at


I got a kick out of the Wanderer's confessing to his dawn misadventure at Driscoll's Boat Yard, as reported in the September 5 'Lectronic. I'm talking about the one in which he whipped aboard Profligate's last dockline, which accidently hit the gearshift and threw the starboard engine into reverse, with nobody left aboard the big cat. I love the fact that the Wanderer was man enough to write about it, and how he was barely able to 'high jump' onto the back steps of the cat, which enabled him to scramble up and throw the engines into forward just before Profligate nearly slammed into several other boats.

Having bought my first boat as a total neophyte, and fully engaged in that phase of my young man's life in which I was 'young, dumb and full of cum', you can bet I ran into everything on the Bay. But even if you keep sailing regularly, it's not as if mishaps ever stop. They may happen less frequently over time, but they still happen.

For example, we were at an end tie in El Salvador where the current runs in and out at four to six knots, but with the ebb always being a little stronger. As we were faced out of the harbor, our boat's stern and the rudder were getting a workout. So I waited for near-slack water, and thought I could just release the bow line and let the flooding current carry the bow out, around, and back to the dock. As that happened, I figured I could easily walk the stern up the dock and tie the stern where the bow had been, at which time the bow would settle back up river against the dock where the stern had been. It seemed like such a simple and intelligent plan.

The problem was, the second I released the bow, it flew away from the dock, and spun downriver before I had a chance to shift the back end of the boat. Stray Cat, a Gemini catamaran, was side-tied directly behind our boat. Our bow swung out and pinned itself firmly against their outboard hull. My wife Molly and Guy from Stray Cat tried to fend off. My wife was pushing so hard it she sounded as though she were in labor again!

Fortunately, about five guys from around the dock saw what was going on and helped me drag the stern upstream, allowing the bow to finally settle in where I'd planned for it to land. Guy and Carol, Stray Cat's owners, were incredibly gracious in the face of my screw-up and happy to overlook a little scratched gelcoat.
I can't wait to see what adventure awaits me next!

Ben Doolittle
Knee Deep, Catalina 38


I'm not sure if this is something I should confess to, but here goes. Not long ago, my beloved and I enjoyed a nice sail around Angel Island on our Newport 33, then returned to our slip. While going through the motions of getting the boat centered in her slip, washing her down, and so forth, I accidentally dropped the shorepower cord. Since I was tired and thinking more about the meaning of life, I wasn't really paying attention to the fact that I had been holding the cord over the water when it slipped from my hands. Thankfully I grabbed it before the whole thing fell in, but not before the plug with the three female receptacles splashed into the water. Crap.

No way I was going to plug that puppy into the boat anytime soon. I tried to shake as much water out as I could, noting 'the look' I got for my error. Then I set the plug down on the dock and went about my other chores.

A short time later I picked up the plug again, thinking any water inside the holes had to have evaporated. But just to make sure, I looked into the holes for any traces of water. One hole still had a tiny drop inside. Easy peasy to get rid of that, I thought to myself. So I puckered my lips, brought the plug close to my mouth, and blew.

A spark of electricity from the live shorepower plug flew through the air and landed square on my upper lip! I jumped from the jolt, and dropped the plug again. Fortunately, this time I dropped it into the cockpit. But the thud was enough to catch the attention of my darling, who looked at the plug, looked at me, and said, "You didn't!" Then he burst out laughing.

Nancy Bockelman
Malolo, Newport 33

Readers — We didn't have room to publish all the 'biggest blunder' letters we received, so we'll have more next month.


In a September editorial response, you wrote, "You seem to think the wave trough between two waves is lower than the normal level of the ocean . . . we're not experts but it's our understanding that this would be scientifically impossible."

Clearly Latitude are not experts, for what you think is scientifically impossible is exactly what the reality is. The impossible thing would be if all the wave — from the trough to the crest — were always above 'normal' sea level. In fact, in the absence of storm surge, which is a general raising of the sea level due to wind piling up the water, there is just as much water above normal sea level as below when a wave passes. For example, if you are sailing and a 20-ft wave passes your boat, the water level, as compared to the bottom of the ocean floor, will increase 10 feet in the crest, then decrease 10 feet in the trough.

Michael Leneman
Professor of Oceangraphy and Multihull Sailor

Michael — We guess we stand corrected. We spent hours searching the internet trying to get the correct answer to that question, but came up dry. So we tried to extrapolate what we had observed when surfing to what happens in deeper water. Apparently it doesn't translate. Nonetheless, we're going to try to confirm your explanation with our depthsounder the next time we get into big waves and shallow water.


You know, you start out sailing as a kid, graduate to the big boats, circumnavigate the world a couple of times, and the next thing you know . . . you're 80! It happens to the best of us, and this October Jim Jessie, one of the Bay Area's most prolific and respected sailors, will celebrate his turn.

Jim hasn't changed much over the years. He's fiercely competitive and outspoken, and still sports his signature pipe. Honestly, not much has changed. He still races and places with his equally 'experienced' crew in the Oakland YC beer can series, and recently led Oakland YC members in an anchor-out adventure to the Delta. We won't mention that his boat got stuck in the mud!

If anyone knows Jim or has raced or cruised with him, we encourage you to swing by the Oakland YC on Wednesday, October 24 to help him celebrate his 80th. The no-host bar will open at 5:30 p.m., and Happy Hour food will be provided potluck-style by members of the Oakland YC. Festivities will continue until Jim's out of stories or we run out of stories about him! Or, maybe it'll just be bar time, whichever comes first!

Chris Bailey
Oakland YC

Chris — Jim Jessie is indeed a great Northern California sailor, one whose accomplishments have been underappreciated. In addition to his being a respected surveyor for many years, Jim and his late wife Diana Green Jessie not only did a couple of circumnavigations with their wooden Lapworth 54 Nalu IV, but also did the Great Bight of Australia, a nasty stretch of water, won the first Darwin-to-Ambon Rally, and did some crazy race from Mexico to Japan or some other unlikely place in the Far East — and in the terrible weather of a North Pacific winter. They often took the path less traveled, which included, as we recall, down the Mississippi River.

We have fond personal memories of Jim — and his smelly old pipe — too. In '81, we were sailing with our five-month-old daughter aboard the then-ultra-sexy Farr 52 Zamazaan off Waikiki, when we turned around to see Diana lay her head down on Jim's lap. "Hmmm," we thought to ourselves, "it looks like those two are hooking up." They did, and were an outstanding sailing team for decades until her recent passing. After getting reports and photos from Jim and Diana during their first circumnavigation — this in an era when photos meant film and prints, and reports came via international snail mail — we bumped into them at Falmouth Harbor, Antigua, and had a great get-together. Lastly, in the summer of '11 while Zen sailing our Olson 30 La Gamelle on the Oakland Estuary, we sailed past an Oakland YC beer can fleet. "The guy at the helm of that Cal 29 sure looks like Jim Jessie," we thought to ourselves. "Can it be?" It sure was.

We won't be able to attend Jim's birthday celebration because the Ha-Ha starts just a couple of days later, but here's to you, Jim, for 80 great years, and belatedly to the gutsy and talented Diana, too.


I'm coming to this late, but after Rory Kremer's May issue letter — "If I take the helm, I take the responsibility" — about whether the captain of a delivery boat or the delivery company that hired him was responsible for the captain and his crew being killed when their cat flipped in bad weather, I must respond.

While we all agree that the captain is in charge of the vessel once it's shoved off until it returns to the dock, there's another issue here that Latitude and Captain Kremer are missing. Reliance Yacht Management was rightfully found liable for the accident because it illegitimately pressured Captain John Anstess into sailing where and when he did not want to go.

It is a false equivalency to claim that everyone is equally responsible for everything, and so all that Captain Anstess had to do was say "no" and refuse to sail north of San Diego until summer. While you or I may have refused, Reliance has all the power here. If they were to fire Captain Anstess for not continuing to Seattle, he might have suffered severe financial harm. Most people need their jobs in order to pay rent/mortgage bills and eat. A company that controls the purse strings has far more responsibility in this situation than a worker who might lose his home by refusing to follow orders.

Companies that behave like Reliance should be punished severely, to the point of being put out of business and imprisoning their controlling officers. They are responsible for deaths of sailors if they pressure captains to sail into weather that the captains deem unsafe. The fact that certain captains did not say "no" when they should have does not make these companies any less responsible.

Jeff Hoffman
San Francisco

Jeff — We couldn't disagree with you more completely if you tried to tell us circles were made up of four straight lines or that the ocean was dry.

First off, you're factually wrong when you claim that a captain is not responsible until the boat has "shoved off" from the dock. Among other things, the captain is legally responsible to make sure that the boat in his/her charge is seaworthy and clean, has the proper safety equipment and has things properly stowed, and he/she is properly managing the crew. Who do you think should be responsible for all that stuff, somebody in an office 10,000 miles away?

By law, the captain is also responsible for the safe navigation of the vessel. In the case of the highly experienced Capt. Anstess of Cat Shot, that means it was up to him to decide whether it was safe to ignore the advice of experienced sailors and head out when very strong winds and huge seas were forecast for that winter day off the coast of Northern California. Conditions in which it was well known that cats had previously flipped and crewmembers had been killed. Conditions that resulted in Capt. Anstess' command flipping and everyone aboard being killed.

And please, spare the "the captain had a mortgage to pay" rubbish. In the first place, it wasn't true. In the second place, if a professional mariner can't properly prioritize the value of the lives in his/her charge with making a house payment, do you really believe s/he has any business being in a position of responsibility over the lives of others? People not capable of basic prioritizing need to find positions of lesser responsibilities.

It comes as no surprise to us that a lot of people like you think being a Coast Guard-licensed captain to carry paying passengers is a position of little or no responsibility. This is a result of the questionable skill level of many of the people the Coast Guard licenses to carry paying passengers. The dreadful truth is that the Coasties have licensed hundreds upon hundreds — if not thousands upon thousands — of people who are good at taking written tests but who are absolutely clueless when it comes to the actual operation — let alone safe operation — of a sailboat.

When we first wrote about the Cat Shot tragedy, we said that we couldn't think of anything — except a gun held to the heads of our children — that could force us take a boat out in conditions we didn't think were safe. Since you disagree, what would it take to "force" you to risk your life and that of others for a little something extra? A $5,000 bonus? A $500 bonus? We think it's an insult to principled captains the world over to suggest they would violate their professional judgment about safety for anything.

If assuming full responsibility for a vessel and her crew is too much for a so-called captain, s/he needs to get a job with the government or be a politician, the kind of work where nobody is ever held responsible for even the most idiotic and monumental screw-ups.

Make no mistake, we are deeply saddened by the loss of Capt. Anstess' life in the Cat Shot tragedy. Nonetheless, it is our firm opinion that there is no escaping that it was the captain's poor judgment, and his poor judgment alone, that was responsible for his death and that of his two crew.


I'm presently 800 miles north of Oahu aboard the Nordhavn 76 Eliana on a delivery to Seattle. The weather has been great so far, and should continue.

I just wanted to say that I grabbed a copy of the August Latitude at the Ko Olina Marina on Oahu before we left. What a great editorial response to the 'Denial on the Bay' letter about the Low Speed Chase tragedy and who was responsible! Latitude not only says it like it is, you say it like it ought to be.

Rob Wallace
Eliana, Nordhavn 76
North Pacific Ocean

Readers — Our editorial reply was to a letter by P.K. Edwards, M.D., a very experienced racer from the Ventura YC who had written to say that he felt that Crewed Farallones Race, sponsored by the San Francisco YC, was among other things, "an accident waiting to happen." With all due respect to Mr. Edwards and his considerable sailing experience, we couldn't have disagreed with him more strongly.

Rob Wallace, the author of the above letter, is a lifelong sailor and professional captain on yachts up to 150 feet. He agrees with our sentiment that Mr. Edwards was particularly wrong when he wrote, "While the ultimate responsibility for the decision to go out in bad weather or to take an acknowledged dangerous course belongs to the skipper, yacht club race officials need to rethink their level of responsibility relative to safety."

To our mind, and that of Rob Wallace, there are no degrees of responsibility in operating a vessel any more than there are degrees of pregnancy. Either you're pregnant or you're not; and either you're responsible for starting and continuing a race or you're not. So to our thinking, if a skipper signs a liability release that says it's his responsibility alone to start and/or continue a race, and s/he does start and continue a race and something goes wrong, s/he should look in the mirror to find the responsible party, not point fingers at unpaid volunteers in some race shack many miles away.

The problem is that when people aren't responsible for their behavior, they feel free to make all kinds of foolish decisions without fearing the consequences, and it encourages people to become reckless and do stupid things. We feel sorry for folks who were raised — by parents and the government — to believe that they aren't responsible for the consequences of their foolish decisions and who, as a result, end up with terribly warped expectations about life. If we were dictator, students from the first grade on would be relentlessly taught that, while you can try to deflect responsibility for the consequences of your poor decisions, when you do, the real losers are you and your loved ones.

P.K. Edwards, M.D. ­— whose sailing credentials we respect, but with whose opinion we respectfully disagree — took exception to our editorial response. We'll be publishing a new letter from him in the November issue, when we'll have more room in Letters to revisit this important issue.


I was wondering if you could give me some advice. I'll be graduating in Environmental Science in December, but more than anything I want to sail, hopefully starting in December or January.

I've spent the summer doing an internship with the Smithsonian, and a retired scientist in my lab has taken me sailing many times. I have learned as much as I can about sailing, and have never done something I enjoyed as much. I love travel and adventure, so I want nothing more than to find work or volunteer as a deckhand on a sailboat. I would prefer to do this from Southern California.

Is this a fairly reasonable thing to try to do? I'm in great shape, love to work hard, and enjoy learning new things. How can I make this dream a reality?

Jared Stapp
Southern California

Jared — Assuming that you have a decent personality, a variation of your dream can certainly be made a reality. We say variation, because forget starting from Southern California in late December or early January. Almost all boats leaving from there for Mexico, Central America and the South Pacific will have already taken off.

If you want to do Central America or the South Pacific — with possible connections to New Zealand, Australia and Southeast Asia — we suggest you fly to Puerto Vallarta in January. There are two reasons. First, it's from there that most people start the Pacific Puddle Jump to French Polynesia, and it's also where a lot of people begin the El Salvador Rally or individual cruising in the direction of Central America. Second, it's inexpensive to stay in places such as La Cruz, where there is a tremendous amount of social interaction among all the cruisers at the Marina Riviera Nayarit, as well as those based out of Paradise Marina, Nuevo Vallarta Marina, and Marina Vallarta.

There are, however, a couple of potential downsides to this scenario. First, it's highly unlikely you'll be able to find a paying position. Indeed, most folks would expect you to chip in for at least your share of the food. A second potential downside is that most of these boats would be in the mid-40-ft range, and you'd probably be sailing with a couple, very likely a couple in their 60s. If you do get on a boat, it's probable that you'll boat hop across the Pacific, meaning switching boats in Tahiti and maybe Tonga and/or and Fiji, too. That doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you or folks on the boats, just that people on smallish boats tend to need space or a change of personalities from time to time.

Your other — and we think better — option is to head for the Caribbean, specifically Roadtown in the British Virgins, St. Martin, or Antigua. Roadtown is the bareboat capital of the universe, with lots of crewed charterboats and private yachts, too, so there are lots of jobs. Naturally there is quite a bit of competition for these jobs, but you're going to prove that you're a better candidate than most of the others, right?

St. Martin is the base for much larger — 80- to 200-ft — crewed and private sailing yachts, the likes of which you'll rarely see in Mexico. They offer great gateway and gap year positions, which are much sought after by a younger and more socially active crowd than found in Mexico. Your problem will be that the season will already be in full swing by mid-December, so most of the positions will have been filled, and you'll also be way behind in the all-important networking game. The same will pretty much be true in Antigua, the other big boat and crewed yacht center.

If you want to get a gig sailing in the Caribbean, step one is to show up. Forget applying for jobs from the other side of the world, as captains and owners want to look you in the eye. Once you get to the Caribbean, there are two major ways to get your foot in the door. The first is that you show up at every local beer can race, weekend race, and regional and major regatta, ready to sail and work harder than anyone. Being willing to do the grunt work is much more important than being an expert sailor. Second, and perhaps even more important, is to make yourself available to help deliver boats, even if you have to do it for just food and experience, and even if the deliveries are all upwind against the trades. Sailors bond on the water, be it during races or while making passages, so you want to do as much of both as possible. Trust us, if you work harder and happier than most of the others, captains and owners will take notice, and you'll be on your way. In many cases it takes just one or two big regattas on decent boats and you're a 'made guy'. By the way, always get a shirt or hat from every delivery and regatta. These are your calling cards and ice breakers.

Another great way to work your way into the mix is to offer people a hand, for free, anytime you see somebody needing it. If you help tie up a guy's boat or help him carry some junk up the dock in the afternoon, there's a chance he'll buy you a drink in the bar that evening and introduce you around. Hear a guy saying he needs help to move his boat a few miles to a boatyard? Volunteer. Getting sailing jobs is all about networking and being johnny on the spot, so while you don't want to be obnoxious, you can't be a wallflower either.

Drinking is pervasive in the tropics, so it's normal to have a drink or two most nights with new friends. And you can even have a blowout every now and then at the end of a regatta or tough delivery. But you don't want to get a reputation as a guy with an alcohol issue.

In March, April and May, the big yachts leave the Caribbean for Florida, the Northeast, and Europe, or the Canal and the South Pacific. Long before then you should have worked your way into the mix, and if you can't snag at least a long-distance delivery position at that time — which is when most crews are in a state of major transition — you've been doing something really wrong. Within a year from December, you should have at least sailed across the Pacific to New Zealand and Australia, or sailed from the Caribbean to the Med — and back. It's not always going to be easy or convenient, but if you're truly into sailing and adventure, it's all there waiting for you. Good luck.


My wife Lisa and I went sailing on the Bay on the evening of September 8, leaving Treasure Island's Clipper Cove at about sunset going around the north end of the island and toward Yerba Buena. The lights of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge were beautiful. As we entered the Oakland Estuary, I casually mentioned to Lisa that I was keeping a close lookout in case there were any small boats running without lights. We both laughed.

A few minutes later I saw a dark shadow against the lights of Alameda, and sure enough, some idiot on a 20-ft sailboat was waving a flashlight at me as he scooted by with no other lights showing. A few minutes later the ferry Peralta roared by — and those guys move! — just where the idiot and his boat had been.

I don't know if the moral is to keep a good lookout, to use lights at night, or that God protects idiots, but all three work for me.

Scotty Correa-Mickel
Paradise, Catalina 34
Santa Cruz, but cruising San Francisco Bay


I want to warn cruisers who put solar-powered LED lights on their rails that these lights are not bright enough to act as anchor lights. If you rely on them, you may experience a nasty bump in the middle of the night from another boat.

I do most of my cruising in the Sea of Cortez and along the Pacific Coast of Mexico, where the use of these lights seems to be spreading. Based on my experience, most of them are quite dim by 2 a.m., and can only be seen if you're within 150 feet.

The 1980 U.S. Inland Navigational Rules and Canadian collision regulations govern the color, range of visibility, placement and use of lights and shapes. But since there are no such rules in Mexico — or if there are, they aren't enforced — many cruisers have a laissez-faire attitude toward this very important anchoring safety feature.

In my five years of cruising in Mexico, I have come across all sorts of anchor light schemes, from no lights at all to lights of almost every color. It seems to me that if the intent of the law is for boats to be seen, then it behooves us cruisers to at least try to get it right.

An anchor light at the top of the mast is good — if it is bright enough. But it doesn't solve the problem of small boats and pangas zooming around the anchorage at night, whose operators are looking forward, not up. So I think an anchor light at deck level is preferable.

The brightest deck level lights I've seen were on a boat in Banderas Bay, where a sailboat had two blue LED all-around lights at bow and stern. They could be seen over a mile away, even with background illumination from the city. I would suggest that instead of spending a couple of hundred dollars each for such lights, boatowners can visit any truck stop where they can find large amber LEDs that would be perfect for water-level illumination — and at a fraction of the cost. I bought mine online for $15 each.

And please don't think that you don't need such lights if you're the only one in the anchorage when you turn in for the night. Many of us cruisers who know the anchorages feel safe coming in after dark using GPS and radar. It can be done safely. But if the other boat(s) don't have a good anchor light, the situation becomes a lot more hazardous.

Michael Nagy
Sunshine Lady, Camper Nicholson 33
Mazatlan, Mexico

Michael — Excellent advice. On Profligate we use a brilliant LED masthead anchor light, which is twice as bright as the old incandescent anchor light we used to have. We also turn on at least two bright red high-output cold-cathode fluorescent lights in the main salon, light that, despite the fixture's name, gives out the most people-pleasing white and red light we've ever seen. Given the low cost and low power consumption of LED lights, there is no excuse for cruising boats not to be illuminated like UFOs in Hollywood movies.

As for entering familiar anchorages at night in Mexico, we do it all the time, too.


How about an explanation of how penalties work in the new America's Cup? I understand that boats no longer do circles for penalties, and I know about the lights on the boats. But once a boat receives a penalty, what happens next? I have been unable to find anything that explains this.

Planet Earth

Lew — The way penalties were absolved in the World Series was perhaps the least-understood aspect of the event. As we understand it, when the judges ruled there had been an infraction, a light would go on aboard the cat in question, and the cat would have to slow down until the computers determined the penalty had been taken, at which time another light would come on. As we understand it, the more quickly a skipper absolved his boat of the penalty, the shorter it was. It seemed like a cool system to us, although it's not practical for any other sailing events.


Many stars in big name sports are measured only by what shows up on the scoreboard. But you don't fully respect exceptional character and heart until you actually encounter it.

As someone who grew up boating — and who is now the father of boys 6 and 8 — I followed the America's Cup for decades. When the America's Cup World Series finally came to the Bay Area, my boys and I drove down to Vallejo, caught the ferry to San Francisco, and walked the busy streets to the Marina Green. From there we watched the amazing AC45 cats clawing at their moorings. My boys were flying high with excitement.

And as a working stiff who supports my family and sailing lifestyle, I can see the America's Cup as big business. The viewing bleachers were sold out, the clerks couldn't ring up the logowear sales fast enough, and every rock and nook on the shoreline was covered with bodies hoping to get a good look at the action.

But before the racing started, my boys and I rested on a park bench on the Marina Green. Before long, a stout figure lumbered up behind us on his way to his Artemis catamaran. Wearing lots of sunscreen, wrapped in battle colors, and wearing a helmet, he was obviously intensely focused on the upcoming race.

I hadn't looked back to see who it was, but my 8-year-old yelled out, "Hey, Terry!"
It was Terry Hutchinson, skipper of Artemis. He changed course, stopped, and with equal excitement replied, "How are you?!" Then he gave my young sailor a high five and a great smile. He then continued on toward his cat.

My boy beamed for hours, and talked about how one day he, like Terry Hutchinson, would be skippering an America's Cup boat.

My hat's off to the visionaries who planned, approved, and made the America's Cup World Series happen — but especially to Terry Hutchinson, who had enough heart and character to share his passion with an impressionable 8-year-old Sunfish sailor.

Wayne Dorchester
Shibumi, Gemini 34

Wayne — As we mentioned last month in our review of the World Series, we thought the organizers did a terrific job. And one thing they did particularly well was to make the participants accessible to their fans, by having them pass through the crowd when going to and from their boats, and getting them up on stage right after the racing. That kind of personal outreach is so important to young sailors such as your sons, sailing in general, and the success of the America's Cup.


My dad Sig bought a Baltic 48 last year, and we've been racing Ellie Mae ever since.

Naturally, we took the boat out for the America's Cup World Series — what a spectacular event! Check out this photo taken between fleet races one and two on Saturday August 25. Team Korea came out into the spectator fleet, and I got a high five — while at the helm of Ellie Mae — from most of the crew, including skipper Nathan Outteridge! Yes, they were that close. With that, Team Korea won a new fan! I will never wash that sailing glove again.

You might remember that our family did a charter with the Wanderer in the British Virgins many years ago.

David Anderman
Ellie Mae, Baltic 48
San Francisco Bay

David — The America's Cup skippers' and crews' interacting with fans and spectators was a great part of the World Series. Much of it was by design, but we like to think it was also personal on the part of the sailors. No matter, it was a big success.

As for the Big O charter that you and your parents and sisters did with us in the British Virgins, it was long ago, but we remember it as if it were yesterday. We could spend hours reliving that one over a few beers.

You no doubt remember that your dad really wanted some photos of your lovely sisters up on the bow while our big ketch was hauling ass under sail. We were a bit of a cowboy back then, so we got the boat on a steaming reach, told everybody not to touch anything, and jumped overboard just as we had you cut the little Boston Whaler tender loose. After climbing in the Whaler and starting up the engine, we gave chase, which allowed you to lower yourself into the Whaler from Big O's starboard quarter. Together we charged out in front of Big O and got the photos Sig had hoped for. Somehow we managed to get back aboard Big O. It was probably the stupidest thing we've ever done in all our many years of sailing. But all's well that ends well. Alas, we recall that the photos didn't come out very good because some guy in a stateside camera store had sold Sig exactly the wrong color filter for the job. We just hope you folks had as much fun as we did.


I think Northern California sailor and technology visionary Stan Honey deserves the Sailor of the Year award for developing the electronic technology that was required to make watching the recent America's Cup World Series understandable and therefore so much fun. His magic allowed everyone from sailing novices to experts to, for the first time, be able to tell who was actually ahead in each of the races, as well as how far the others were behind, how fast each boat was going, how close to the boundaries they were, and so forth. Fantastic! Compare it to the last America's Cup in Valencia, where it was all but impossible to tell by watching who was ahead, Ellison's trimaran or Bertarelli's catamaran.

I don't know about everyone else, but I attended each of the World Series races in person during the day. It was really exciting to be so close to the boats, the action, and the sailors. But when the racing was over, I'd go home at night and watch the races all over again on my computer, complete with the electronic aids created by Honey that made it all so understandable. They were two different but wonderful ways to enjoy the racing.

I think another major award should be bestowed upon the guy at NBC, who for their Sunday live coverage, managed to make the dull green and murky waters of San Francisco Bay look as if they were the clear, blue, inviting waters of the Caribbean. How the hell did he do that? Sure it was fake, but it really made San Francisco Bay look like an even greater sailing paradise than it already is.

Greg Olson

Greg — We couldn't agree with you more, as we thought watching the World Series with the naked eye from shore and watching the aerial coverage with enhanced information on the computer or television were both excellent experiences. The sad thing was that the original plan called for a giant Jumbotron to be floating on a barge on the Bay so everyone watching from ashore could see both the action with their own eyes and the aerial views with all of Stan Honey's magical information overlaid on it. If we're not mistaken, swimming club members were instrumental in preventing this based on "environmental concerns," ones similar to that of birds being scared by the boats. It's these and similar kinds of questionable actions over the years that have us thinking environmental groups aren't necessarily to be trusted any more than used car salesmen or Wall St. bankers.

For environmentalists we totally believe in, see this month's Sightings feature on the Coastal Clean-Up along Seven-Mile Slough headed up by the folks from Andreas Cove YC and Owl Harbor.


Will you please take your crowds and funny boats to San Diego? A guy has to wait a month from a major Bay Area marine supply store for a spool of 1/2-inch rope? And they're out of varnish, too? WTF? Go home!

Bill Kelly
Surface Time, Four Winns
Rio Vista

Bill — So if we understand you correctly, you believe that there was some kind of cause-and -effect relationship between the America's Cup World Series in late August and a major marine store being out of 1/2-inch line for a month? And being out of varnish, too? Seems like a stretch to us.


The attached photo of a bird with America's Cup catamarans in the background, taken by Gilles Martin-Raget, would seem to indicate that our local birds were pretty much unruffled by the America's Cup World Series last month, no matter what the environmentalists thought. I've found most birds to be quite curious. So instead of spending $150,000 to do a study to see if America's Cup boats scare birds, maybe the S.F. Board of Supervisors should have spent the money confirming that sailboat racing is a fun and stimulating activity to be around.

Derek S. Beck
Planet Earth

Derek — Apparently you're not aware that the City of San Francisco is absolutely rolling in excess cash. You can tell because, while it is only the 14th largest city in the United States, it has the highest-paid police chief, the highest-paid fire chief, and the second-highest-paid Muni workers. Heck, one Muni mechanic just knocked down $302,000 in one year. Imagine what his pension is going to be. Given this fiscal backdrop, what's $150,000 spent to study birds, and $75,000 to pay the lawyers who brought the suit?


The answer to the September 10 'Lectronic Quiz — which A List actor defied a judge by sailing off to the South Pacific with his children? — is, of course, Sterling Hayden. I know, because I was living aboard my boat Calypso in Sausalito at the time, very close to Hayden's schooner Wanderer (ex-Gracie S). Hayden had the vessel all fitted out with stores, crew and his kids on board, ready to sail for Tahiti. The judge in Hayden's custody battle with his wife finally told him that he could not take the kids out of the state. So Hayden told the judge that he would just sail down to Southern California with the kids. Instead, he took off for Tahiti under cover of darkness. I know, because I woke up one morning to find that the 98-ft schooner was gone.

When Hayden didn't show up in Santa Barbara after a few days, the alarm went out. But he was well offshore by that time, and wasn't heard from again until they arrived in Tahiti. I don’t recall how long the kids were there with him, but eventually they flew home. This was in either late '58 or early '59. Time flies doesn’t it?

I don’t recall if Hayden incurred any legal sanctions because of his actions, but he did eventually return to Hollywood to star in Dr. Strangelove or How To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. He eventually spent the rest of his life in the Bay Area.
The accompany photo is one I took of Gracie S off Yellow Bluff before she became Wanderer.

Bob Petersen
Long Beach, WA

Bob — If memory serves us, Hayden was the epitome of indecision as he sailed south from San Francisco toward Santa Barbara, deeply conflicted as to whether to stay in the States or flee to Tahiti with children Christian, Dana, Gretchen and Matthew. Compared to what would happen today, he got off scott-free. To the best of our knowledge, the worst Hayden suffered was at the hands of Marin County Superior Court Judge Harold Haley, who forced him to repay Republic Pictures the $50,000 they had loaned him so he could make the trip to the South Pacific.

Unlike many leading men in Hollywood, Hayden, a 6'5" high-school dropout, was a genuine adventurer. He enjoyed long stints as a fisherman in the Grand Banks, running a trading schooner in the Caribbean in the late '30s, and making other long sailing passages. He also engaged in numerous daring exploits during World War II, including some behind enemy lines. Hayden's most famous Hollywood role was that of General Jack D. Ripper in the hilarious Dr. Strangelove, but he also starred in movies such as Johnny Guitar and The Asphalt Jungle, and played a cop in The Godfather.

In the early '60s, Hayden rented one of the pilothouses of the retired ferryboat Berkeley, docked in Sausalito, where he resided while writing Wanderer, his autobiography. He also kept a house in the Northeast and lived on a houseboat in Paris. He died of prostate cancer in Sausalito in '86 at age 70.

The moral of the Maffei misadventure (see Sightings) is that custody issues are taken much more seriously in '12 than they were in '59, and that today you are subject to a much harsher grade of justice.


Latitude's comments about the Unleashed theft/child abduction case make it less difficult to empathize with Mr. Maffei and his lapse of judgment. Passions can indeed run high when kids become the rope in a parental tug-of-war, and it's possible to imagine losing one's mind when dealing with the myriad hot emotions, but you can't let it happen.

As a former litigator and occasional judge, I can also wholeheartedly concur with Latitude's analysis, which is that the family courts aren't likely to be terribly impressed with the kidnapping action.

What you failed to note, though, is the extent to which Mr. Maffei's choice of vessel — a Hunter 41 — painfully demonstrated Maffei's abject lack of taste in sailboats. The man is clearly unfit to raise young sailors.

Burke Stancill
Piers Island, BC

Burke — We appreciate your attempt at humor, but we think it's a bit of a low blow on several levels. First, while Maffei is certainly guilty of terribly foolish and self-destructive behavior, we don't know him well enough to write him off completely. Second, we don't think your evaluation of Hunter boats holds water. We're not experts in Hunters, and while we heard complaints years ago that some models didn't seem to be as rugged as other brands, we know a lot of Hunter owners who have been very pleased with their boats. Take former San Francisco Bay resident Tim Schaff, who for the last five years or so has been doing crewed charters in the British Virgins with his Leopard 45 Jetstream, and who for years was the dockmaster at Cabo Isle Marina in Cabo San Lucas. Tim still owns his vintage Hunter 33 in Mexico, and thinks she's an absolutely terrific boat. Then there is the late circumnavigator Mike Harker of Manhattan Beach, who owned three Hunters. He was so pleased with his Hunter 34 in a Ha-Ha that he bought a new Hunter 466 and singlehanded her from Florida to and around the Med, then sailed her back across the Atlantic with crew, to French Polynesia and California. Until the rudder snapped in French Polynesia, he told us the only problem he ever had was a lightbulb burning out. Mike lastly circumnavigated with a Hunter 49, which he said was a terrific and nearly trouble-free boat.


I was part of the delivery crew that brought the Hunter 41 Unleashed back to Alameda from Monterey after the child abduction and boat theft drama. I want to say 'thank you' to the people at Coast Guard Station Monterey for their help with the recovery, as well as their help getting Unleashed ready to bring back to Alameda. The boat was nursing a bad hangover when we first got there, as it looked as if a food fight had broken out at a wedding reception. There was uncooked rice all over the cabin sole, and dried spaghetti on the cabinets and ground into the upholstery. The Coasties were kind enough to lend us their Shop Vac, as the rice could have created problems if had fallen into the bilge and gotten wet. The Coast Guard also stood by while we cleared the raw water system, which was clogged and needed priming.

Thanks guys and gals of the U.S. Coast Guard. Semper paratus!

Gary Scheier
Serenisea2, Hunter 376
San Rafael

Gary — The only thing more foolish than trying to escape with a sailboat is trying to escape on a sailboat while simultaneously having to care for two very young kids that you love. Talk about a load of work! No wonder Christopher Maffei quickly developed second thoughts.

It was good they got the rice out of Unleashed's bilge. Back in '70, the Taiwanese cargo ship Sian Yung inexplicably struck the bank of the Panama Canal near the Gaillard Cut, and sank with a cargo of 8,000 tons of rice. It took only a couple of days for the rice to ferment in the tropical heat, creating a hell of a stink. Fortunately, the suction pumps used to keep silt from collecting on the bottom of the Canal were adaptable to pump the rice out of the ship's hold or, experts believe, the rice might have expanded until the ship's hull was forced open.


Thanks for hosting the Crew List Party at Berkeley YC last month. I went looking for a crew position to Mexico, and also for crew for daysails aboard my Venture of Newport 23 Clarsa out of Glen Cove Marina. I not only made one contact for the former and three for the latter, but also hooked up with a boatowner in Sausalito seeking crew for daysails aboard his boat. All that, and a new black Latitude 38 T-shirt to boot, made it the best $7 I've spent in many a moon!

Bill Crowley


We on Daybreak are in a dilemma about whether we should sign up for this year's Baja Ha-Ha. Our family wants to socialize and thinks the Ha-Ha would be a lot of fun. Yet the captain wants to take time on the way down Baja to windsurf and surf. So our question is whether we can sign up for the rally, but take off early or stay longer at places such as Punta San Carlos for windsurfing, then catch up with the fleet in Turtle Bay. In other words, can we casually do the Ha-Ha to meet our surfing needs?

Frank Dubuc
Daybreak, Perry 43 motorsailer
Squamish, BC

Frank — Of course you can. The purpose of the Ha-Ha is not to try to make folks adhere to a strict schedule and an arbitrary set of rules, but to offer a framework for them to have fun with their boats while cruising south. As a result, we frequently have boats leave a little early or late from San Diego, as well as Ensenada or one of the two official stops. We've also had boats stop at Isla Guadeloupe, the Benitos, and Cedros on the way to Turtle Bay, as well as some of the surf spots. Basically, we want participants to do whatever they feel like doing, as long as it's safe and responsible. All we ask is that everyone be scrupulous about letting the mothership know what they are doing so we don't send the Coast Guard out looking for them.

We're pretty sure that your kid(s) would have more fun on the Ha-Ha than sailing down solo, as they would no doubt enjoy socializing with others their age. And like all kids, they'd probably like to engage in a little anti-authoritarian behavior, which in the case of the Ha-Ha usually involves 'water-ballooning' the Grand Poobah. But no matter if you decide to join the Ha-Ha — we're confident that you and your family will have a great adventure cruising down the coast of Baja.


My husband Robert and I crew on his brother's Sausalito-based Kalimera about 18 times a year. Robert doesn't miss an issue of Latitude, which he reads from cover to cover.

I have four things to say about the September issue:

1) Your editorial reply to a letter about cruiser safety in Mexico really got our attention. You said you can't recall the last time a cruiser had been attacked on their boat in Mexico. Did you overlook the unfortunate incident in which a man was beaten to death off the west coast of Mexico, which you reported on in '11? Perhaps that doesn't qualify as 'piracy'.

2) You used the United Nations as your source for the number of homicides per thousand in a whole bunch of countries in the Americas to compare the relative safety. Do you rely on the U.N. for accurate statistics? Given the calibre of research they are known for, I wouldn't.

3) Your readers are awesome.

4) Have you considered the service you would be doing for Americans were you to publish a newspaper? Those in the Bay Area and beyond are piddly by comparison. How refreshing to read someone's opinion that is blunt, honest and apolitical!

Helen Jefferson & Robert Todd

Helen and Robert — To answer your issues one by one: 1) None of us can recall a cruiser's being beaten to death off the west coast of Mexico last year. It would have made enormous news. We assume you're thinking of something that happened in another country.

2) We used the United Nations' numbers because they were all that were readily available, not because we necessarily believe the figures of any agency. Here's why: a few years back we were talking with a cop in Manhattan, and he told us that the brass were put under tremendous pressure to reduce crime rates. "It was easy," he confessed. "We just classified every crime as being one level below what we would have done previously, and didn't even write up the lowest level crimes. The crime rate plummeted, we all got our raises, and everybody was happy." While the United Nations' numbers might not be exact, we think they give a decent overall idea of relative crime rates in the various countries.

3) It would have been helpful if you'd explained what it is about our readers that you think is "awesome." We think it's because of the great Letters and Changes they send to us.

4) Publish a newspaper? Thanks for the encouragement, but we're pretty happy in our relatively quiet corner of life.

"Apolitical" you say? Are you being facetious? We're apolitical in the sense that we despise the Democrats and Republicans with nearly equal ardor, believing that each is the poodle of the various special interest masters that own them, and believing that each one is ignoring the crushing local, state and federal government debt because either they are too stupid to understand it or know they won't be around or be held accountable when the day of reckoning arrives. The collective habit of 'kicking the can down the road' merely insures that when the shit hits the fan, it's going to be exponentially more horrible, particularly for those at the lower end of the economic spectrum. Idiots.


I was wondering about Randy Turpin. I watched his Marples 55-ft catamaran Crystal Blue Persuasion being built in Coos Bay, Oregon. Then I read the reports in Latitude about her doing the Ha-Ha in '08, sailing through the Canal to Mexico's Yucatan, coming back to California in '09, and lastly breaking free of her mooring in Capitola in March. I'm wondering if Randy and the boat are all right.

Brad Owen
Coos Bay

Brad — We think you're referring to Gary Burgin. He reports that Crystal Blue Persuasion suffered some hull damage as a result of going on the beach earlier this year, and that she needs "a haulout and a place to call home." Apparently the port engine is out of action, but Gary has the parts, if not the time, to repair it.


This year's southbound sailors might be interested in our recent experience with Mexican medical care. While in the US a month ago, my wife was treated for a bladder infection. But it didn't go away, and yesterday she was experiencing pain in both her kidneys. So we went down the street in Punta Mita — about 12 miles northwest of Puerto Vallarta — to see Dr. Olga Larios, one of the local doctors in the village.

Since it was not only Saturday, but also Mexico's Independence Day, we were pleasantly surprised to find out we had no problem seeing Dr. Larios. Furthermore, when she called the lab to see if they were working, they were, so there would be no delay in getting the results. So Dr. Larios took samples to the lab herself, and got the results a short time later. She then had my wife return to her office, where she clearly explained what was going on. Dr. Larios prescribed one shot and two oral antibiotic medications, all of which were available from her on-site pharmacy.

The cost for the one-day consultation, lab work, and three medications? An unbelievably low $52. And all this on a major Mexican holiday. For what it's worth, Dr. Larios' husband is a doctor, too.

This hasn't been our only positive experience with medical care in Mexico. I've received cardiac care — the treatment of which was confirmed by my stateside cardiologist — at a similarly low cost. And my wife has had other excellent care.

Though we're long-time residents of Alameda, my wife and I have been living in a condo on Banderas Bay and sailing our Catalina 42 out of a nearby marina for four years now. We absolutely love Mexico!

Name Withheld by Request
Punta Mita, Mexico

Readers — As is the case everywhere in the world, some doctors are better than others. But wherever cruisers gather, you can usually get great recommendations for the best doctors.


Last night at a school function for parents, I told a story about a boat that got struck by lightning and lost all her electronics. As a result, the gal had to build a sextant from a pipe and a DVD, and did all the navigation math by hand in order to navigate the boat back to Hawaii. I thought it happened in one of the TransPacs, and that the boat's name was Wild Child or Wild Orchid. It happened within the last five years.

One of the teachers wanted to tell the story in class, and asked me to get more information on it. But I was unable to find it on your website. Do you recall it?

Jeff Rollert
Sailor and Avid Reader
Planet Earth

Jeff — It doesn't ring any bells with us. In fact, it doesn't sound very likely. First of all, there isn't a lot of lightning in TransPacs or around Hawaii. Second, almost all boats have two or three GPS units, including one or more handheld units, so it's hard to believe there's an offshore boat that doesn't have at least one functioning one at all times. Could your memory being playing tricks on you?


I saw the story about the Wanderer riding his bike around San Diego, and his note soliciting comments from others who have bikes on boats. My wife and I have a Vagabond 47 that is currently based out of La Paz, and which we cruise part-time. We are avid cyclists and agree whole-heartedly that bikes open up a world of possibilities when you pull into a new port.

We've tried several different types of bikes, and we've found that skinny tire road bikes are a poor option for cruisers. The tires can't handle the usual rough roads around the waterfront or the varieties of terrain you might encounter while cruising, at least outside the United States. They tend to be a little more finicky maintenance-wise as well.

Full-size mountain bikes and hybrids are great for getting around town and hauling groceries. But with a full-size bike comes full-size storage problems. We tried a folding Montague bike, a Navigator hybrid. It rode very well and would work for powerboats and bigger sailboats. But we found it a chore to wrestle the bike up and down the companionway. Finding a place to store it while underway was hard, too.

My wife currently rides a Dahon Speed P8, and we are very pleased with it. Santa might bring one for me this year as well. The bike is comfortable and handles well. The 8 speeds help when the roads go vertical. The fat tires handle almost anything, and the smaller wheels and frame make it a breeze to store.

For those cruisers with a bigger bike budget, Bike Friday is one of the premier quality folding bike makers. For cruisers, their mountain and touring bikes would be a delightful way to get around.

Bill Silvestri
Jade Dragon, Vagabond 47



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