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November 2012

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Our time to start cruising is coming near, so my wife and I are spending more time reading Latitude, looking at boats in the Berkeley Marina, and watching You
Tube videos about sailing. Come February, the two of us will be driving our VW bus to Miami to hopefully begin a new life at sea.

I'm a local from the Bay Area, but my wife is from Prague. It's taken me awhile to get her onboard with my dreams of sailing adventures, but she's way down with it now, and it seems as if the time of our lives is quite possibly just around the corner. There are just two assumptions. The first is that she finishes her final semester at Cal. The second, and potentially more troubling one, is that we find a way for her to get over her motion sickness.

My wife is very prone to seasickness. For example, she got motion sickness while sitting on the back of a water ski boat on Lake Tahoe on a super glassy day. She has a hard time with bus rides, and even my driving can give her nausea. The good news is that she doesn't have a problem when she's driving.

So maybe Latitude can answer our two questions: 1) Is it possible for someone who is "very allergic" to seasickness to overcome it; and, 2) what are the best methods for prevention and treatment?

Adam Scheuer

Adam — As we're sure you know, motion sickness isn't an allergy, but rather confusion between the eyes' seeing a world that is still while the equilibrium sensors in the inner ear transmit signals saying that a person's environment is moving. In many people this confusion causes the body — to say nothing of the digestive system — to go into a state of alarm. As is the case with your wife, potential victims often feel better when they drive the car or the boat because there tends to be less internal confusion between what's being seen and what's being sensed.

We're not doctors, nor do we even play them on television, so the following information is just a starting point for a discussion with your wife's physician. There are countless so-called remedies for seasickness, from ginger to acupressure wrist bands to prescription and non-prescription medicines. It's hard to tell what's going to work on any given person.

Based on anecdotal reports, the remedy we've heard to be the most effective is Cinnarizine/Stugeron, which is a prescription medicine in Canada, but is sold over-the-counter in Mexico and just about everywhere else in the world — except the States, where it's not available. Stugeron is an antihistamine that interferes with the signals between a person's inner ear and their 'vomiting center'.

As with all powerful drugs, you don't want to take Stugeron without discussing it with your doctor, and you must be careful with the dosage. If too much is taken, it can make a person drowsy. We're told that when this happens to members of the Coast Guard, they are given epinephrine as the second part of what's known as the 'Coast Guard Cocktail'. But again, don't even dream of doing this without consulting your doctor, as epinephrine is another very powerful drug.

We rarely get seasick, so we're going to ask our more seasickness-prone readers for their experiences with the malady, and remedies that have worked or not worked for them. We wish your wife the best of luck, because as the old saying goes, there are only two states of being seasick: 1) Feeling as if you're going to die, and 2) wishing that you would die.


After reading about Doña de Mallorca's very unpleasant experience with vertigo during the Redondo Beach stop in the SoCal Ta-Ta, I want her to know about a similar experience I had after being aboard for an extended period of time. My ear doctor, who sails a Hunter 36, immediately diagnosed me as having benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. He suggested that it might be related to the movement onboard a boat, and not a cause for alarm.

De Mallorca may have been able to avoid her trip to the emergency room if she had known this information. It might be good for the readers of your — fabulous! — magazine to know, too.

Ron McCarthy
Surprise, Ericson 38
San Diego

Ron — Thank you for your kind words and concern. The paramedics who responded to de Mallorca at the King Harbor YC were very familiar with vertigo. In fact, they even told her it was likely that's what she was suffering from, as opposed to much more serious possibilities such as a brain tumor or stroke. But because her vertigo was so severe — she could barely lie down let alone sit up — the paramedics felt they had no choice but to take her to the hospital where the possibilities of stroke and tumor could be eliminated. Even several hours after being given a medication — Bonine, a common seasickness treatment — de Mallorca was still too dizzy to even sit up. Twelve hours after the attack, she was exhausted but otherwise felt fine. And the doctor even cleared her for a sail to Catalina.

We're convinced that de Mallorca's vertigo had nothing to do with her having been on a boat, as it didn't come on until after she'd been ashore for an hour or more, and the vertigo hasn't returned despite her being on the boat almost full-time ever since.

De Mallorca would like to pass on the knowledge that vertigo is not at all uncommon, so if you experience it, try your best to remain calm, because chances are that it's not serious and it won't return. Nonetheless, if you're more than a little dizzy, you can't risk not being checked out immediately.


There has been a rash of marine-related thefts in the Oakland Estuary area lately. Hearsay has it that somewhere between nine and 15 outboard motors were stolen from boats in just one Estuary marina. I know of at least two incidents of kayaks being stolen. And then, on September 18, my Monitor windvane was stolen off the dock next to my boat at Marina Village. I had removed it from my boat for service, and felt it would be safe on the dock overnight.

I've always found the boating community to be both trusting and trustworthy, so it's sad when a few lowlifes spoil it for everyone. Lots of fingers have been pointed toward the anchor-outs next to Coast Guard Island, but there is no proof that any of them have been involved.

Indeed, because of the different ways the thefts were carried out, it seems there may be multiple thieves. For example, in the case of one of the kayak thefts, people were seen loading kayaks on top of a van in broad daylight, then hastily driving off. But I think my windvane was stolen in the middle of the night by someone in a dinghy. I live aboard my boat at Gate 11, and at about 3 a.m. I was awoken by the sound of a dinghy in the fairway behind my boat. I thought it was suspicious that someone would be motoring around at that hour, but as it was 3 a.m., I convinced myself that I was just being paranoid, and went back to sleep. I awoke to find my paranoia had been justified.

I immediately contacted the police, the harbormaster, and Scanmar, which makes the vanes and keeps a record of every one they sell. I also gave pictures and notices to Aaron Metals, the local recycler, and Blue Pelican, the local marine consignment shop. That weekend I looked for my vane at the swap meets in Emeryville and Martinez, and spread the word to the swap meet 'pros' to be on the lookout for it.

When I went to Aaron Metals to tell them about the theft, there was an Oakland Police Department patrol car in their parking lot. The police were there to investigate a break-in and theft that had occurred there the night before. It's gotten so bad that people are stealing scrap metal from recyclers! I know that a lot of folks are going through tough financial times, and some who would otherwise be honest are being pushed to the edge. But really, stealing isn't the right solution.

I assume my vane was sold as scrap metal for a pitiful $20-$30. However, as the theft coincided with cruisers' annual migration to Mexico, who knows, maybe it will show up on a boat or at a swap meet in Southern California or Mexico. I am offering a reward of $1,000 to anyone providing information leading to the recovery of the vane. It is distinguishable by its serial number (6258-1299), by its missing vane clamping plate, which I had removed for service, and by a plastic arm that I installed to prevent the counterweight from swinging while at anchor. If anyone has information, please contact me at .

Jim Hancock
Solstice, Freya 39
Marina Village, Alameda

Jim — We imagine it wouldn't surprise you to hear that there had been a big ring of outboard motor thieves operating in Long Beach. According to a story by Taylor Hill in the October 12-25 edition of The Log, ". .. . 32 suspects have been identified in the organized thefts of numerous unlocked outboard engines from boats [in Long Beach's Shoreline Marina]. Thieves reportedly loaded the engines onto pallets and sold them in bundles for around $10,000."

The article went on to report that the thieves — 15 of whom were already in custody — specialized in stealing small outboards that could be carried easily by hand. Since the bust, there hasn't been further outboard theft from the 1,764-slip marina.

In what we find to be a strange twist to the story, a federal grant was issued so that the Marine Bureau could purchase and distribute 3,000 engine locks to boatowners. What's next, the government providing homeowners with locks for the front doors of their homes?


In his September letter, Steve Eiffereim asked for ways to alert whales while underway on a 'silent' sailing vessel. During numerous long-distance races from Southern California to Mexican ports such as Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, we have had numerous close encounters with whales. Over time we noticed that turning our depthsounder on or off had a noticeable effect on whales. Some of them approached our 50-ft boat within a few feet when the sounder was on, and departed when we turned the instrument off.

I discussed some of these experiences with a marine mammal expert while on a whale watching trip along the coast of Maine. She explained that whales can detect sound waves emitted by the depthsounder’s transducer. Experiments and observations showed that some whales actually rubbed themselves against large transducers installed at the bow of commercial vessels when the depth sounder was on.

It seems to me that turning a depth sounder on while sailing would alert whales. If they get too close, shut the depth sounder off!

Victor Beelik
Zephyr Cove, NV

Victor — Given the tremendous increase in the number of whales along the West Coast of North America, it would be nice if there were some scientific, rather than just anecdotal, data to support your hypothesis that depthsounder sound waves are catnip to cetaceans. But since there is nothing to lose when offshore, our plan is to leave our depthsounder off in deep water.


At the closing ceremony of the '11 Baja Ha-Ha, the Grand Poobah awarded the Spirit of the Ha-Ha Award to Zach Lough and his Catalina 30 Panache. Since then, we have been following his adventures, which have been documented with beautiful photographs, at

Zach recently completed his passage from Central America to French Polynesia via the Galapagos. On his blog he boasted about using Ham radio without a license, unsuccessfully sneaking into the Galapagos without checking in, and visiting Fatu Hiva before clearing into French Polynesia at Hiva Oa. I feel that this devil-may-care attitude of flouting authority should be discouraged. It makes the yachtie life more difficult for the rest of us law-abiding cruisers.

I hope that you will have a 'fatherly' chat with Zach and help him return to being the young cruiser who is 'The Spirit of the Ha-Ha'.

Ned Backus
Frannie B, Outbound 44
Seattle, WA
'91-'99 Circumnavigation on Cal 39 Plain Jane


I read the email from Frannie B, and I wanted to be sure everyone got my side of the story. I also want to thank Frannie B for following my blog and caring enough to comment.

While I understand where Ned is coming from — breaking FCC regulations is bad, and sneaking into a country is also bad — he needs to understand that I’m not some cavalier jackass thumbing my nose at authority. There is substantial context missing in his account, and I suspect he is misunderstanding my sarcastic tone.

I meant no disrespect. The portion of my blog post concerning the illegal use of the HF radio aboard Panache was an attempt to be funny by describing an honest — maybe silly — perspective of someone singlehanding across an ocean and then, five days into his crossing, being told he can no longer communicate with the outside world. It was a pretty grim feeling, and I challenge anyone to feel differently. Yes, I should have gotten my license, and yes, I had more than enough time. I admit both these facts on my blog.

“Tried to forward my position using the Maritime Mobile net, 14.300 USB, and was ousted as a non-licensed user." Yeah, I don't have a license, but I am a singlehanded sailor who relies on other people’s knowledge of my position as insurance against worst-case scenarios. Sure, I can transmit if I have an emergency, but what if my emergency rendered me unconscious, or what if my radio were damaged? I understand the rules, but I saw myself as an exception. I am professional when using the radio, don't break protocol (other than not having a call sign), and only transmit my position on maritime nets. My well-being is more important to me than government rules governing light waves. Unfortunately, I don't have a call sign to argue. From here on, I can only listen.

Thank gosh a person doesn't need a license to respond over the Internet. I haven't transmitted on the radio since I was ousted. Ned’s letter makes me out to be some serial pirate Ham operator. Being a passive listener to the 20-meter band since my ousting, I can tell you I am the least of the FCC’s worries. Regardless, I don’t transmit on any frequency anymore, and I don't condone it. doesn't either. Sorry for offending anyone, and know that the first thing I plan to do when I return stateside is get my Ham license.

As for the Galapagos, sarcastically talking about ignoring the port captain is different from actually avoiding port authority. If I meant to avoid port authority, I wouldn't have anchored in front of the Port Captain’s office. As for Fatu Hiva, the port authority had no issue with me when I told them I made my landfall at Fatu Hiva.

I don’t want to step on any toes, but I certainly don't want to be misrepresented. And as to Ned's point about my actions making it harder for future cruisers, while I may write sarcastically on my blog in an attempt at humor, I am always respectful when visiting other countries and dealing with authorities.

Zachary S.O. Lough
Panache, 1976 Catalina 30

Readers — We're not going to get too worked up about this, as we understand both Ned's position as an experienced circumnavigator trying to keep order, and Zach's position as an eager but novice cruiser learning which rules must be followed and which are mere suggestions.

Given the fact that Zach had a radio with both Ham and SSB capability, it was unfortunate that he didn't realize he could have simply started his own SSB net, which doesn't require a license. All he needed to do was pick a name for the net, set a time and frequency, and convince others to participate. The farther cruisers get from the West Coast, the greater the number of SSB nets, and the smaller the number of Ham nets.


In our recent annual trip from Emery Cove to Rio Vista in the Delta, we had the misfortune of running aground about 20 yards north of the deep water channel along the Port Chicago Reach, which is off the Concord Naval Weapons Station pier.

After several attempts to get our Catalina 34 free, we found that she was firmly stuck on the bottom. Several boats in the area witnessed our grounding, and stood off waiting to see if we needed help. White Wolf, a motor vessel, even tried to tow us off. But after multiple attempts and a complete soaking of their crew, they had to give up. We were finally towed to deep water by the professionals of Vessel Assist.

We would very much like to thank the crew of White Wolf and those mariners who offered assistance or stood by. It was very reassuring to know help was close. While no damage was done to our boat, and no lives were endangered, it was scary to be grounded in four feet of water — particularly with the tide going out, and the wind and chop building. Adding to our concern was the fact that one of the people on our boat was a 94-year-old making his maiden voyage to the Delta!

Gayle & Pete Vaughan
Cover Girl, Catalina 34

Gayle and Pete — A salute to all those who actively tried to help or at least stood by.

Your incident reminds us of our all-time greatest grounding, which happened about 25 years ago. A doctor told us we'd die young if we didn't take more breaks from work, so we and a young novice sailing couple headed up the Delta on Little O, the first of three Olson 30s we've owned. We were doing a lot of 10s under a spinnaker in a fresh breeze as we passed the Martinez Bridge. When we got near the area where you ran aground with Cover Girl, we started telling the young couple how smart we were for being in the middle of the channel, because it was so very shallow on either side. Before we could even finish bragging, the Olson lurched a little, went into the mother of all slo-mo round-ups, and came to a halt heeled over at nearly 90 degrees. Fearing that the boat might somehow tip over even more and trap us, we dove into the water and swam away for as long as we could hold our breath. We were about 50 feet away when we surfaced — and were stunned to find we could stand in about three feet of water.

The young couple, clinging to the Olson and fearing that we'd be swept away, screamed frantically for us to swim back to the boat. They need not have bothered, for we were able to casually stroll back to the perpendicular boat in knee-deep water. In fact, we vividly remember sloshing over to the top of the masthead — which was at water level — and bending down to unclip the head of the spinnaker from the halyard.

It was obvious that no boat was going to be able to come to our rescue anytime soon, so out of desperation we got down on our knees by the bow and tried to lift, bounce, and ooch the Olson into deeper water. In one of the great surprises of our lives, thanks to the partial flotation, soft bottom, and strong wind at our backs, not only were we able to move the 3,000-lb Olson over to the channel, it wasn't even very hard. The only difficult part was avoiding getting left behind when the Olson reached deeper water, bolted upright, and took off like a bat out of hell.

When we later told our doctor about the incident, he told us we'd probably live the longest if we worked 24/7 and never went sailing again.


I read with interest Michael Nagy's October letter expressing concern about the use of solar-powered LED lights — such as our RailLight — as anchor lights. We wholeheartedly agree that these lights are not designed for such use.

Indeed, we constantly receive inquiries asking whether our RailLight Premium or RailLight Mini will work as an anchor light, and we are careful to tell potential customers that while they will certainly work as an emergency light, they are not bright enough — nor will they last through the night unless there is at least 12 hours of bright, direct sunshine on them each day — to substitute for a hard-wired anchor light.

That being said, our RailLights make an excellent emergency light. When my Venezia 42 cat was struck by lightning in Mexico some years ago, virtually all my electronics were fried. Were it not for my RailLights, a few flashlights, headlamps and flares, my boat would have been totally in the dark.

I have a RailLight Mini permanently rigged on my mast — and a couple in my cockpit — so that if my masthead anchor light ever goes out, at least there is some light on my boat. Especially in Mexico where unlit boats seem to be the norm.

Eric Sanford
Hood River, OR

Eric — For years we had an incandescent anchor light atop Profligate's mast, and in addition to draining the batteries, that sucker was the dimmest bulb in the fleet. But we've had a masthead LED tricolor/anchor light/strobe hard-wired to our house batteries for the last five years, during which time we've had the brightest anchor light in just about every anchorage. We love it.


Michael Nagy's letter on the inadequacy of solar-powered LED lights for anchor lights really got me cranked. Some boats just don’t run anchor lights, and others use these tiny solar-powered garden variety ones that are dead by 3 a.m.

I agree with Mike, and wanted to mention that the vessel he was referring to in La Cruz that stood out because of the blue bow and stern lights was/is our Jacaranda. We could pick out our boat in the anchorage before we even got off the bus coming home from Puerto Vallarta. In addition to the blue Bebi LED anchor lights, we also have an all-round white Bebi LED light just to be legal. Paranoid? You betcha! Our goal is to be seen and not hit!

In the age of inexpensive LEDs, for God's sake, toss those damn lawn lanterns overboard and get something that can be seen at 3 a.m. It always amazes us how many boats, even those with solar-powered lights, can't be seen. Try coming into La Cruz on a dark night with all the background lights, and you will be amazed how ineffective your solar powered anchor light really is. If someone runs into you because they can't see you, you will be held responsible.

We have been using Bebi anchor lights for a couple of years, and think they are fantastic. They switch on automatically and don’t even move the digital volt meter. By the way, these are made by cruisers who employ local Fijians to make them. As they cost just $39 and draw only .065 amp, it's well worth it to order one. Your cruising friends arriving after dark will be thankful at night, and your batteries will be happy in the morning. Thank you for letting me rant.

Chuck Houlihan
Jacaranda, Allied 39
Currently lying in La Paz

Chuck — You're not ranting, as it really is often very difficult to see boats that are anchored out in Mexico. Like you, we think it's important to not only have a brilliant masthead anchor light, but to also light up the deck level of one's boat. Bow and stern lights, such as on your boat, are a little hard because there are four corners on a cat, so we just make sure we leave at least two big CCFL panel lights on in the salon at night, too.


As you mentioned, San Francisco Bay racer and world cruiser Jim Jessie turned 80 last month — and is still racing.

I first met Jim Jessie in the mid '70s at Clear Lake when he was visiting his sister. I was sailing a Hobie 16 then, and his sister asked if I would give her brother a ride. When I was introduced to Jim, he had his pipe in his mouth — yes, even back then — and when he said he would be glad to take a ride on my boat, I asked if he could swim.

“That question does not inspire confidence in you,” he replied.

In '78, he surveyed a Cal 2-29 I was buying — and still race today. I joined the Oakland Yacht Club and became a friend of Jim’s. When he and Diana started their circumnavigation in '85, I was aboard going out the Gate and turning left. I made it all the way to Catalina, at which point I had to jump ship to return to work. They, as everyone knows, kept going and going and going.

Today, Jim is the helmsman and the 'Racing Instructor' aboard my boat, and we have a great time racing up and down the Estuary and in the Bay. The members of our crew refer to ourselves as 'WOOFs' — well-off old farts. Our average age is 73. When we lose our focus, as we sometimes do, Jim brings us back by saying, “Come on guys, let’s do it just like we were racing!”

Dick Johnson
Nice Turn, Cal 2-29
Oakland YC


First rate October 15 'Lectronic commentary on James Kwon, the high-ranking Port of Oakland official who, four years after the fact, was found to have spent $4,500 of taxpayer money at a strip club in Houston one night. My question is what financial abuses have they not discovered yet?

Dave Barten
Ikani, Aqua Lady 38
Shelter Island

Dave — For those who missed that 'Lectronic, the other person who 'Outraged Our Sensibility' was Francesco 'Chicken of the Sea' Schettino, the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which capsized nine months ago off the Italian island of Giglio with the loss of 32 lives. You might remember that Schettino had foolishly approved a 'cruise by' of the island so some of the crew could wave to family members ashore, was absent from the bridge and dining with a blonde at the time of the accident, was among the first to leave the ship, and despite repeated orders from the Italian Coast Guard to return to his ship to take charge — "Get back on board, for fuck's sake!" ­— he stayed on terra firma. As hard as it is to believe, Schettino is suing the cruise ship company for back pay, and to get his job back. If the irresponsible Schettino had had any self-respect for himself or his former position, he would have gone down with the ship and the other victims of his irresponsibility.

How did the former security guard get to be captain of one of the larger cruise ships in the world? Family connections, not merit. In other words, corruption, which along with the lawyer-driven contention that nobody is ever responsible for the terrible consequences of their irresponsible actions, are two of the main causes of misery in this world. At least to our thinking.


I just read Latitude's report on the Windjammer's Race to Santa Cruz, and need to correct you. The overall winner was actually Howard Turner's J/109 Symmetry, which not only won Class 1, but had the fastest time in classes 1 and 2, beating Kokopelli 2, the other class winner, by about 12 minutes.

Jay Crum
Piñata, Olson 30
Santa Cruz

Jay — Our apologies and congratulations to Howard Turner and the crew of Symmetry.


With public interest in the America's Cup on the increase, boatowners might be interested to note that La Mar Cebichería Peruana restaurant, located on Pier 1.5 in the heart of the San Francisco waterfront, has its own public dock where vessels up to 40-ft can tie up for up to three hours at no charge. Of course, boatowners don't even have to care about the America's Cup to take advantage of the dock.

Tom Walton
San Francisco

Tom — Thanks for the reminder, as San Francisco sailors are always looking for new places to visit with their boats.


Thanks for the well-written piece about the pleasures of bringing smaller bikes on boats. As an avid rider and ex-racer, I would advise bringing at least three extra small tubes and tires. Most cruisers weigh more than they did when they were kids, and will tend to wear out two back tires for every front tire. And quickly, too. Replacement tubes and tires are hard to find here in Mexico and many other countries. In addition, cruiser/bikers should also buy a couple bottles of green Slime, the stuff you squirt into the inner tube to stop those nagging flats.

Bikes and cruising boats — a good combination.

Bob Walker
Cactus, Hunter Cherubini 37
Wofford Heights / La Paz


Thanks for the recent great coverage of Ensenada. We were down there in August from Long Beach, and were once again impressed with the facilities and the friendly people. We were on a short stay, so the Cruiseport Marina staff did a great job of expediting our paperwork, giving us the maximum time to enjoy the town and the sights. Many more California cruisers should make a cruise to Ensenada. After all, it really is Mexico, and if you do the Bash back at night, it's easy.

Bob Schilling
Tuckernuck, Cherubini 44
Long Beach

Bob — We did two trips to Ensenada this summer, and really enjoyed ourselves on both occasions. Yes, at first glance the downtown area looks as though it could use a little spiffing up, but we quickly forgot all about it as we were swept up by the friendliness of the people of Mexico. Because Ensenada is so close to California, sometimes we think it's not really Mexico. But it is.

From now on, Ensenada is going to be our last stop when doing a Baja Bash at the end of each cruising season — and not just because fuel is so much less expensive than in the States. We're also putting early October's Little Ensenada Race, followed a day later by the 16-mile Todos Santos Race, on our annual calendar. They were a blast. We're going to try to get more multihulls, too, because being the only other boat on the starting line with the old Waterworld trimaran was a little lonely.

The other thing that surprised us about Ensenada is how many veteran cruisers have elected to base there — instead of a U.S. harbor — because they like it more.

Ensenada Mayor Enrique Pelayo told us that he understands how important it is for American boatowners to be able to clear into and out of Ensenada quickly and at minimum expense. Despite the fact that Immigration and visas are federal matters, he and local legislators are working to get the federal government to make Ensenada a special zone — sort of like Tijuana and other border towns — where visitors coming for less than 72 hours don't have to do paperwork or pay for a visa.


Having recently woken up in the morning on the Napa River to pea soup fog, a falling tide and a need to get back down river that day, I am now duly impressed with navigation apps for Apple products. Without our being able to see very far, one crewmember simply and quickly downloaded a navigation app, and it worked flawlessly. However, there seems to be a number of navigation apps, and I'm wondering if Latitude or any Latitude readers have a preference.

P.S. I absolutely love Latitude, so please don't retire.

Art Hartinger
Pied-a-Mer, Beneteau First 310
South Beach Harbor

Art — Thank you for the kind words.

The only marine navigation app we've used extensively is Navionics, and we've been very impressed with it, no matter if we were navigating in California, Mexico, or the Caribbean. Because the Navionics app has worked so well, we really haven't given iNavX a try, and that may have been our loss, for apparently the iNavX has a lot of features that the Navionics doesn't.

For instance, iNavX has all the free NOAA raster marine charts, with detailed coverage of the U.S. West Coast, Gulf Coast, East Coast, Great Lakes, Alaska, Hawaii, and US Virgin Islands. It also can make your iPad or similar Apple product function as a repeater for popular marine navigation software that supports NMEA data over TCP/IP. We're talking about GPS, AIS receivers and transponders, and depth, speed, wind, engine, and battery instruments. According to the press release, iNavX gives you "the power of a color chartplotter for a fraction of the cost." As far as we're concerned, the anchor alarm is worth the entire $49 price.

So our highly technical and definitive product review is as follows: Navionics is a terrific marine navigation app, but for all we know, the iNavX app might even be better." To comment — on the products, not our review — .


It was good to read your timely note about rebuilding diesels, as we ourselves were faced with a diesel problem here in Turkey. But after a week of twisting on a mooring in a little Turkish fishing harbor, we have decided that we will repower with a new Yanmar rather than rebuild.

Our Angel Louise is a 25-year-old Catalac 41 catamaran and was repowered 20 years ago by her previous owner. He did it partly to get more power, so he installed twin Yanmar 3JH2Es. Those two 37-hp diesels mean we usually can motor faster than we can sail.

We bought Angel Louise in '07 as our 'retirement home' after auctioning off our real home in Des Moines, Iowa, and all our stuff in it. We've since been across the Atlantic with her, spent a winter in England, and most recently did a very rare west-to-east crossing of the European continent. She's been a grand retirement home, and provided us with a way to see a lot of the world and life as well.

Anyway, we lost the right engine two months ago when cruising down the Danube River just short of Belgrade, Serbia. From there on — including through Romania and the Black Sea to Istanbul, where we restepped the mast — we had the use of only one engine.

Maneuvering Angel Louise with just one engine was hairy. In part because the remaining working engine was offset from the centerline of the boat, but also because there was a strong following current in the rivers. Trying to stop or maneuver Angel Louise with one engine was sort of like trying to stop a car with one brake locked on winter ice in Iowa. Given the sometimes narrow channels, and the huge sandbanks in them, we easily could have been stranded for the entire winter.

Nonetheless, our trip from the Netherlands and over the continental divide of Europe — elevation 1,340 feet above sea level — was well worth it. Plus, we had a nice 48-hour sail down to and through the Bosporus into and through Istanbul. For those not familiar with the area, the 31-mile long Bosporus, also known as the Istanbul Strait, forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. Connecting the Med to the Sea of Marmara — and from there the Black Sea — it's the narrowest strait in the world that is used for international navigation.

Anyway, we stumbled upon this local fishing harbor at Istanbul where the locals took us under their wing, despite the fact that none of them speaks any English. They gave us a free mooring right in the middle of their harbor, and insisted that we pay nothing for it. Everyone greets us with smiles and a friendly "Merhabba," which means 'hello'. They could not have made us strangers feel any more welcome.

We managed to find a true 'salt of the earth' local mechanic, who, along with his two sons, lifted the 400-lb engine out of Angel Louise's right engine well. After driving it to the mechanic's shop 20 miles away, they found that the crankshaft journal — the part the #1 piston connects to and rotates around — had worn away to the point that the piston was flopping up and down and not working, making the engine shake horribly.

With the help of folks who follow our travels by email, we did a search for a new crankshaft. After searching in Japan, the United States and Europe, we found that the very last crankshaft in the Yanmar system had been sold while we were searching for it, and Yanmar had no plans for making more. We had been prepared to fly to wherever and bring a crankshaft back in a suitcase, but we heard that there is a lot of red tape involved in bringing parts to boats 'in transit'.

Even if we could have found the crankshaft, the cost of rebuilding our engine was going to be close to half the cost of a new one. And if we rebuilt the engine, we would be rebuilding a 20-year-old engine that already had seen 7,500 hours of service. I figured that was akin to rebuilding a car engine with 250,000 miles. Not a pleasant thought to ponder since we would be crossing the Atlantic a year from now.

I'm writing the day after we paid half down for a new Yanmar 3JH5e. It is to be delivered out of a bonded warehouse next week to the Yanmar distributor. We hope our friends in the engine shop will be able to put it into Angel Louise on Wednesday, and the electrician can wire up our old panel and instruments to certify it for warranty purposes. An additional bonus of buying a new engine is that we'll be able to carry the old engine's 'top shelf', and all her other critical parts, for spares for the remaining 3JH2E to use to keep her going.

Readers would have been amazed to see these Turks lift the old engine out of the well and slide it to the stern, then lift it onto a helping fisherman's boat. It was a very scary job, with two guys balancing a huge and heavy engine, and putting it on shore before loading it into their truck. I fear my heart will race seeing the same trip in reverse bringing the new engine to the boat at her mooring. But that's how they do things in Turkey — and the Third World.

Our cruising adventure continues into year six! We will spend the winter at Marmaris on the 'Turkish Riviera'. Next year we'll complete our circle of Europe by sailing west across the Med, then follow in Columbus' wake across the Atlantic.

Ed & Sue Kelly
Angel Louise, Catalac 41 catamaran
Istanbul, Turkey

Readers — It's hard to say how many hours is a lot on a diesel, but 7,500 doesn't sound like that much. We say that because both of 'ti Profligate's diesels have close to 9,000 hours and have — touch wood — been running great. The mechanics at the charter base tell us that it's not uncommon for diesels in frequently used charter boats to run for 14,000 hours. But things like not changing the oil on schedule, lugging the engine, and running dirty fuel are just three of the many things that can dramatically shorten the lifespan of a diesel.


I rebuilt my Perkins 4-108 diesel in the late '80s after it spun a rod bearing while motoring up the coast. My prior experience was having helped rebuild a Model A Ford engine as a teen, building a Ford Cortina (British) 4-banger for SCCA production-class car racing in my 20s, and having overhauled a couple of dunked outboards. So I had some idea what I was doing, and I had the help of a San Rafael machine shop.

It also helped that I was rebuilding a durable — considering that it was British — engine. When I tore my Perkins down at a friend's shop, he was tearing down the GM 6-71 diesel that ultimately ended up in Alert, Harold Sommer's tug. I noticed that I took seven parts off my Perkins for every one he took off his Detroit Diesel.

Getting the engine out of the boat, and later putting it back in, was fun. Seriously. I looked at it as a heavy puzzle. It took some thought, a couple of timbers, a chain hoist, a come-along, padding, and the ability to hold one's breath. But no teak got scratched, and only about an ounce of blood was spilled.

I got lucky when it came to parts. That model Perkins was popular in tractor-trailer refrigeration units, and I found a San Leandro refrigeration outfit that was wisely switching all its reefer units over to Yanmar diesels. Thus they had no further use for their stash of Perkins parts. So I managed to buy a brand-new crank, rods, pistons, pins, valves and springs, an injection pump, and such — all for a dime on the dollar.

By working slowly and carefully, and never when tired, and with several smart mechanic friends to check procedures with, I got the engine back together and into the boat. It was a success, and I was amazed. The engine ran sweetly for years — until the sensitive, ethereal sort who bought my boat promptly ran it without water and fried the thing.

I would not advise the mechanical clubfoot to take on such a project, but anybody savvy enough to go world cruising successfully with limited funds should be able to rebuild a small diesel. After all, they get overhauled under astoundingly crude conditions in the Third World all the time. But it does take some common sense, and a willingness to get dirty and to bleed some.

Brooks Townes
Port Townsend, WA


I offer a woman's point of view on diesel rebuilds. I've had three boat diesels rebuilt to varying degrees, and found each one to be a learning experience.

The first was an engine rebuild and repair of a broken crankshaft on my Columbia 43's Perkins 4-108. I did this on the dock at Marina de La Paz in '94 under the tutelage of a fellow cruiser who was also a mechanic. Every evening he'd come by for his sundowner and to assign me tasks for the next day.

In '95, an oil line split on that same engine, causing it to seize. This time I did the rebuild on the dock in Portland under the daily guidance of a friend who owned a Portland boatyard.

On the way to La Paz after the Ha-Ha in '09, the diesel on my Gulfstar 50 Talion gave it up. Since it was a much bigger engine than I'd had on the Columbia 43, and because I'm older and wiser, I had Colin, a gringo friend in La Paz, do the rebuild. Lucky for me, Colin let me do what I could — the wiring, plumbing, painting and cleaning — to keep the cost down.

All of my diesel rebuilds have been overwhelming and filthy tasks that ran over budget. On the plus side, I learned so much about my boat and engines from my three mentors that I'm no longer as intimidated when things go wrong.

Patsy Verhoeven
Talion, Gulfstar 50
La Paz, Baja California Sur


For the last 12 years I have been tending to the diesel engines aboard our three charter cats here in Belize. We have a Lagoon 47, a Lagoon 500, and a Voyage 500 that our son manages. All have twin Yanmar diesels. So I probably have a lot more time on diesels than do most cruisers.

Even though I consider myself to be a reasonably competent mechanic, I would never, ever try to rebuild one on my own without access to a proper machine shop. In addition, you should remove the engine from the boat and have the proper, clean space to work on it. Otherwise, you are probably wasting your time — not to mention the considerable cost of the parts. Once you start a rebuild, you will probably want to have the head planed, the valves ground or replaced, and so forth.

By the way, things are great here in Belize.

Cliff Wilson
Aubisque, Lagoon 47

Readers — Cliff was a very active San Francisco sailor for many years. He did the TransPac twice, once with Troublemaker, his IOR One-Ton in '81, and once aboard the Lee 67 Merlin as part of a charter group in '83. He later sailed on the Leigh Brite's Express 37 Ringmaster and was part of a championship effort for several years on the J/40 China Cloud.


Should an average do-it-yourselfer try to rebuild a diesel engine? What a great question!

The important first step is to determine what's wrong with the engine, assuming it's something beyond the normal high hours. For example, if the engine had been overheated, there could be internal cracks that would be hard to find — unless all components were magna-fluxed. With severe overheating and an engine that would not run correctly, attempting a rebuild would be a gamble.

But if we're talking about a dependable old diesel with a trillion hours that still runs, was never overheated, but blows oil through, that would be a good candidate for a rebuild. Of course, the do-it-yourselfer would still need good tools and some experienced machine shop or mechanic to walk him/her through it.

Dave Biron
Big Break Marina, Oakley


I would say 'no', it's not appropriate for the average boatowner to try to rebuild a boat's diesel engine. First, you need special tools that you'd need only once. Second, you need to spend a lot of time becoming knowledgeable before you begin. And three, just the smallest mistake can ruin the engine.

That said, I think the kind of sailors who built their own boat would be right at home rebuilding their diesel engine. So for some boaters — the kind who derive as much joy from the building and maintenance process as from sailing — it makes complete sense. But forget it if you're just trying to save a few bucks.

Greg Retkowski
San Jose

Readers — Greg cruised his Morgan Out-Island 41 Scirocco from California to Florida, then built his own airplane, and is now, with his wife Cherie, looking to buy either an F-27 or an F-31 trimaran.

We got a tremendous amount of response to our 'should a do-it-yourselfer try to rebuild a diesel' question, and will have more responses next month.


I was crew on Paul Martson's Contour 34 trimaran for the first ever SoCal Ta-Ta in September, and we had a great time! The sailing was absolutely perfect — and we didn't have to bring the boat all the way back from Mexico as we do after a Ha-Ha. Congrats to the Grand Poobah and the Ta-Ta staff for pulling off such a wonderful and well-organized event.

Jared Brockway
Orange, Contour 34

Jared — Thanks for the kind words, but no matter if it's Latitude's Baja Ha-Ha, SoCal Ta-Ta, or Delta Doo Dah, what makes an event are the participants. We love doing these events — well, Christine Weaver and LaDonna Bubak run the Doo Dah — because the participants have been so fun, so interesting and so responsible.


In the article about the Ta-Ta, you wrote that you were surprised that none of the six people on my little Cal 27 jumped ship. The explanation can be found on Carmela's menu for the week, which included roast lamb, linguine, heroes, taquitos, burgers, bacon and eggs, and tons of salad. By the way, thanks for all your organizing work, as it made the trip a huge success for our crew. We can't wait for next year's Ta-Ta II.

Jean Mondeau
Carmela, Cal 2-27


The closest I have ever been to the Caribbean is doing the Miami-Nassau Race many years ago. But Rick Meyerhoff of Marin, one of my customers I knew from a former life, has invited me to come sailing with him in the Caribbean aboard his LaFitte 44 Maya — if I can find the time. He will launch his boat in Grenada in November, and then just cruise the Caribbean until the onset of hurricane season in about July. If I can find 10 days or so, what would be the best area with respect to good sailing, good people, good places to visit, and so forth? And from where it is reasonable to fly in and out?

Chris Boome

Chris — Nassau in the Bahamas is actually in the Atlantic, a long way away from the Eastern Caribbean. Everybody on the West Coast makes the same mistake — except for those who have tried to sail from the Bahamas to the Eastern Caribbean.

December and January are when most people sail in the Caribbean, but they do that because that's when the weather is so crappy in the States and people get time off from work. Alas, that's when the Christmas trades blow the strongest in the Caribbean, and they often blow hard for weeks without stopping. Seriously. Some guy flicks on the Azores High in mid-December, and it blows like a huge fan day and night until the guy turns it off two months later.

Generally, the weather improves with lighter winds — 15 to 20 knots — and smaller seas starting in early February. That's why Doña de Mallorca and the Wanderer wait until then to open the Caribbean office of Latitude, and keep it open until early May. The Eastern Caribbean weather doesn't get bad — meaning really hot and humid — until July.

We're not sure how far north Rick is going to cruise this winter, but here is a general guide for you:

The British Virgins offer the easiest sailing, thanks to flat water and countless places that cater to the charter fleets. But Rick might not want to go that far north. Furthermore, the British Virgins can be very crowded in season, and it might seem awfully structured to some. That said, there are good reasons that the British Virgins are to charter sailing what Vegas is to gambling.

Our favorite area of the Caribbean, as all Latitude readers know, is tiny St. Barth, which is atypically clean, safe, and full of characters. We won't even mention the very skinny and stylish French girls who stop by the pâtisseries for coffee, croissants — and everyone's viewing pleasure. St. Barth is mostly our favorite because we bought Big O there in '85, and over time have become dear friends with many of the residents. If you stay on a boat, St. Barth doesn't have to be that expensive. You don't need a car, you're surrounded by the great yachts of the world, and the anchorages and beaches are wonderful. St. Barth is close to St. Martin and Anguilla, which have great cruising, too,

Antigua's historic English Harbor is another big boat yachting center, and the island has a beach for every day of the year. There is fabulous sailing as you reach past Cades Reef and get into the lee of the island, and as with all the islands of the Eastern Caribbean, there is excellent diving.

Guadeloupe and Martinique are huge sailing bases for the French, and have plenty of attractions. But the islands are expensive, there can be a bit of a language barrier, and except for Guadeloupe's Îles des Saintes, which are very crowded, there isn't much that other islands don't have.

Some of the lesser known islands are fabulous, too, such as St. Lucia, St. Vincent and all the little Grenadines, and Grenada. But things are markedly more primitive and slower paced 'down island'. Not bad, mind you, just much slower and less developed. So where you should go all depends on what kind of experience you want.

If you want the most mellow time with the easiest sailing, we'd recommend the British Virgins. If you're more adventurous and don't have a problem with open ocean sailing, we'd try to meet Rick at St. Martin and kick around there and Anguilla, and spend most of the time at St. Barth. If you could pick any time to do this, we'd go during either the St. Barth Bucket, the greatest sailing spectacle in the world, or the Voiles de St. Barth, which is smaller, but nonetheless totally French sailing and partying fun. The beauty of going during either of these events is that you can choose to enjoy great partying at the quay next to many of the great yachts of the world, or you can motor about three miles to the Columbie anchorage, where there are not only no roads or houses, but no lights either. If you want the 'path less travelled', sail down-island with Rick. But the truth of the matter is that if you can't have fun sailing anywhere in the Caribbean, you've got a serious problem.

It's not that hard to get to any of the islands of the Eastern Caribbean. From the Bay Area, you fly to either Miami or New York, then get connections to the bigger Eastern Caribbean islands. If you want to go to the smaller islands, there are fewer flights, and you will probably have to go through Puerto Rico or St. Martin, which may cost you a day of sailing fun. Flying between the islands of the Eastern Caribbean — even many of the bigger ones — is often difficult if not impossible, and it's always expensive. So plan carefully.


I appreciated your recent editorial response to a letter regarding cruiser safety and Mexico. In that response you wrote, "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."

Well, I would like to remind the sailing community of Alameda sailor John Long, who was killed off of the coast of Southern Mexico in '08. And I would encourage the sailing community to read David Vann's moving piece, Last Voyage of the Culin, which is about the incident. It appeared in Outside magazine, which can be found at

San Francisco

Perry — We're very sad to hear about the death of John Long, and wish we'd been told about it earlier.

We'll gladly alert our readers to that incident, and to the article in Outside magazine. But frankly, we hardly know what to make of it, especially when Vann claims that Long "was killed" as opposed to simply having died. After all, Vann's tale not only is colorful, but also seems to be full of exaggerations, embellishments, admitted speculation, and what we find to be questionable conclusions. Speaking as an editor, it seems to us that Outside went hook, line and sinker for a sensationalized bit of writing, assuming few of their readers knew anything about sailing in Mexico.

Consider, for example, the following paragraph: "The truth may be elusive in other places, but here in Puerto Madero and La Cigüeña, I believe it never actually exists. Even as events occur, they immediately become something else. An outsider can never know anything for certain, and this is partly because we are mythological creatures, born of conquistadores and sitting on our mountain of gold in El Norte. We aren't believable ourselves, even our existence, so we're told stories, and every story is about one thing: money."

We're pretty open-minded as an editor, but we'd have suspended Vann's poetic license for at least six months for writing stuff like that. Furthermore, it doesn't sound anything like the coast of a country we've visited countless times with our own boats over a period of 30 years.

Mind you, there is no doubt that Vann knows something about Puerto Madero, for he writes about his misadventures with his own boat there 15 years ago:

"My sailboat was a 48-ft ketch, just like Long's, and in the late fall of 1997 I hired another captain to deliver her from San Francisco to Panama while I finished a semester of teaching at Stanford. My plan was to pick up the boat in Panama and continue to the British Virgin Islands, where I would run winter charters. This boat, Grendel, was my business and my home.

"But the captain I'd hired, an accomplished sailor in her thirties, took on some bad diesel in Acapulco, diesel with water in it, and limped into the town of Puerto Madero on a bit of wind. For some reason, she waited a week before calling me. Then the cook took off on another boat for la pura vida in Costa Rica, and took my $2,000 in emergency cash with him."

It would have been helpful had Vann identified his accomplished female skipper, as it would have allowed us to ask her why she supposedly waited a week to call him about the boat's problems, and generally get her version of the events that took place. Anyway, when Vann got down to his boat in Puerto Madero, things were grim. Really grim:

"My sailboat was large and broken, tied to the one crumbled chunk of concrete on the shoreline, visited by rats, snakes, begging children, prostitutes, the police, the navy, drunken fishermen, and the crooked port captain's men. At first I tried to have the engine fixed, but a mechanic with a disco shirt, gold chains, and a group of thugs at his shop held the high-pressure injection pump for ransom, demanding $900 instead of $100 for the repair. So I tried a new tack, spending $3,500 to buy a used engine and have it trucked down from California. This engine was stolen before it ever arrived, only to reappear mysteriously months later, a 500-lb hunk of metal dumped on the beach in the middle of the night."

Nothing but rats, snakes, begging children, prostitutes, the police, the navy, drunken fishermen, and the crooked port captain's men — do tell! We find this description to be just a wee bit dramatic, even for Puerto Madero, which admittedly was for a long time the most corrupt port on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. It's now home to the new Chiapas Marina, which we're told is being run by the much-liked former harbormaster at Huatulco.

We also find it interesting that in the 35 years we've covered cruising on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, we can't remember anyone — but Vann — using the incendiary word "pirates" in Mexico. Pirates who Vann claims sometimes transport drugs nearly 2,000 miles up the Pacific Coast to California in pangas powered by 115-hp outboards. Boy, their asses must be sore when they get to the States.

The other thing that gives us pause with regard to the veracity of Vann's speculations was the 78-year-old Long's physical and mental condition at the time of his death. Long is said to have been in such poor physical shape that he could hardly climb the bleachers at baseball games. As for his mental abilities, Vann reported that Long twice left San Francisco and turned north, somehow thinking that Tomales Bay was on the way to Mexico.

Vann speculates that Long was the victim of an attack by 'pirates'. It's possible. But we're skeptical. Very skeptical.


To a prudent sailor, aggressive sailing and poor seamanship are one and the same.

While on a Crewed Farallones Race about 35 years ago, I experienced both aggressive sailing and poor seamanship. We were just outside breakers in strong winds and big seas, when suddenly the Farallones became so enveloped in fog that we couldn't see them. Our best crewman suggested to the owner that we come up in order to clear the island safely, but the owner ignored that advice. We all quit the boat after that race.

I had raced in the Bay and offshore many years before that race, but I realized that I was not willing to risk my life and limb so some owner could feel like a winner.

Arthur D. Saftlas

Arthur — We totally empathize with your not wanting to have your life in the hands of an owner/driver who you think is operating whatever vehicle you're on — be it a sailboat, a car or an airplane — in a reckless manner. We can't remember being in that situation on a boat, in part because we're semi-control freaks who rarely like to sail on boats other than our own, but it's happened to us a number of times when we were in cars or taxis. And we've never hesitated to get the heck out of the car, no matter where we were. We've felt so strongly about control over our lives, and those of our kids, that we made sure they got cars as soon as they turned 16. The last thing we ever wanted to happen was for them to be injured or killed as a result of being in a car operated foolishly by some reckless friend.

The problem with boats, of course, is that you can't just get off them anytime you feel they are being operated dangerously. So it's important that crewmembers, owners, and skippers all be on the same page when it comes to what level of risk-taking they want to engage in. The longer and rougher the sail, the more important it is to be on the same page.

We disagree, however, with your assertion that aggressive sailing is necessarily the same as poor seamanship, in part because those are subjective terms. For example, some sailors believe that good seamanship means that you should always reef the main and take down the spinnaker at night. But to many sailors, and particularly experienced racers, keeping the main and spinnaker up at night in moderate and even fairly strong conditions is neither aggressive nor poor seamanship. Of course, much depends on one's age and sailing experience, the type of boat, skill of the driver and crew, and so forth.

The nice thing about sailing is that you can pretty much pick the level of risk you want, based on what and where you sail, and with whom you sail. After all, the risk level is considerably lower when sailing in a non-spinnaker division of a beer can race on the Oakland Estuary than it is doing something like the Doublehanded Farallones on a Moore 24.


Thanks for the interesting article on the Phil Rhodes-designed 90-ft motorsailer, Sea Diamond. I'm Phil's grandson, so I read the article with interest, in part because Sea Diamond was my favorite of his designs. But I was curious about the caption you had for the photo of the original nameplate, which read, "Oddly enough, the only slightly cheesy thing on the great yacht is the original nameplate." Why was it cheesy?

I loved the information in the article and the fabulous photos. I hope to get a glimpse of her at the shipyard in Newport, Rhode Island.

Doug Harrison
Stamford, CT

Doug — You're a little behind the times, as we recall that article ran a couple of years ago. But no worries, we're glad you liked it. Our remark about the nameplate was not to suggest that a nameplate is a cheesy thing, but rather that the quality of the nameplate on Sea Diamond seemed inferior of the rest of the yacht.


When Latitude introduced the idea of a SoCal Ta-Ta, my wife and I realized that it would be the perfect vehicle to kick ourselves in the ass and get moving to make ourselves and our boat ocean worthy, and to gain more practice for the family cruising adventure we hope to start in the near future. So we signed up and got to work. We got the radar working, we tweaked the watermaker into shape, and we sailed around the Farallones and up to Drakes Bay on a blustery 25-knot weekend. Family Circus, our Fontaine-Pajot 35 catamaran, shined the whole time we were on the water. We even made our first boat flag and had plans for making a Ta-Ta pennant.

We decided to head down to Southern California early, as I couldn’t take enough time off work to do the delivery and the Ta-Ta all at once. Then we did final engine checks, and unfortunately discovered our port engine was starting to lose compression and thus wasn't doing so well. We decided that we'd nurse it down to Southern California for the Ta-Ta and back, then get the engine overhauled upon our return.

Alas, as we entered Monterey Harbor to refuel — there was no wind the first 12 hours out of the Gate — we couldn't bring the engine to life. Faced with a difficult decision of where to have the major engine work done, and what adventures we could undertake safely with all our kids aboard during the event, we decided that we had to abandon our hopes of doing the Ta-Ta. So we returned to San Francisco Bay under one engine.

What made it worse was that our kids had just learned that you had given the Ta-Ta a 'Reggae Pon Da Ocean' theme. They were totally into it! In fact, they even asked if we could charter a boat for a week so we could still take part.

So even though we didn't get to do the Ta-Ta, signing up for it did so much to further our progress toward our cruising goal. We hope to join Latitude on a future adventure, and hope the fleet had a good time.

Chris Tzortzis
Family Circus, Fontaine-Pajot 38
San Francisco

Chris — We're sorry that your family wasn't able to make it, as we think we can safely say that the Ta-Ta turned out to be a pretty enjoyable event. But we're glad it helped you get off the dime with respect to preparing you and your boat for an upcoming cruise. By the way, did you realize that next year's Ha-Ha is going to be the 20th?


Latitude asked what bikes are best for cruising boats. I had a pair of full-size mountain bikes aboard my Deerfoot 62 Moonshadow during our '94 to '11 circumnavigation. They got a lot a use and really added to the experience. When we sold the boat earlier this year, we left the bikes aboard so John and Deb Rogers of San Diego, the new owners, are enjoying them now.

After selling Moonshadow, we went to the dark side — for cruising anyway — and bought a Mainship 39-ft trawler near Baltimore. Because space is very limited, I picked up a couple of folding bikes from an online store — and Merima and I couldn't be happier with them. We spent a couple of months cruising down the Intracoastal Waterway, and are now in Ft. Lauderdale. The bikes got — and still get — a lot of use. While not as fast and stable as full-size bikes, the folding bikes are easier to store and handle. We took them out almost every time we stopped at a marina. They look pretty cool and get a lot of compliments.

We're now waiting for a ship to take our boat — and our bikes — home to Auckland next month.

George Backhus & Merima Dzaferi
Jolly Mon, Mainship 39
Lying in Ft. Lauderdale / Auckland / Formerly Sausalito


We have a pair of Montague folding bikes for our boat that we bought in December of '02, and we absolutely love them! They are full-size mountain bikes, and we have logged a lot of miles on them throughout Hawaii, Alaska, and many South Pacific islands.

Some of the islands that we visited — such as Niue, Wallis and Funafuti — don't have public transportation or taxis, so the bikes allowed us the opportunity to tour the islands without the expense of hiring a car. We met so many locals while riding along! On many occasions we were flagged down and invited to join in at a meal or were offered a drinking nut. The locals were very curious about us and really wanted to talk to us. It was great fun.

Another benefit of bikes is that they allowed us to explore more remote areas.

The full-size bikes make it much easier to tackle the uphill grinds, so we're glad we chose them over the smaller ones.

Emmy Newbould & Eric Willbur
Nataraja, Dutchman 37
Brickyard Cove


I'm worried about the creosote at the Army Corps of Engineers site in Sausalito. There are times when the creosote odor from the pier is so strong that it causes lung and eye irritation, as well as dizziness. It's especially bad when the Corps uses heavy equipment to break down the piles of stuff they bring in from the waters of the Bay. The particulate matter is blown across the water, and can be smelled on boats in the vicinity.

I'm concerned because creosote can cause cancer. I've contacted the City of Sausalito, but they say it's a federal issue. I contacted the Army Corps, and they said they would look at doing testing. Isn't that something they should have done before? If the Army Corps were a private business, I suspect such tests would have been required. I've contacted the BCDC (Bay Conservation and Development Commission) but they said there was nothing they could do.

If the predominant winds blew toward the many offices in the area instead of toward the water, I wonder if there would be more of a response. Do you have any suggestions on what else can be done?


C.M. — We originally thought you were making a big stink out of a slight odor. But then we went down to the Army Corps site, and we were surprised by how strong the creosote fumes were. Nevertheless, a history of creosote, as well as an understanding of its current uses, makes us wonder how dangerous it really is. Particularly when compared to the more powerful toxins sailors are frequently exposed to.

Even before the chemical compound that is creosote was 'discovered' by Western scientists, it had long been the chief active component in many medical remedies around the world. For instance, it was used by Greeks in the time of Pliny, by Native Americans in the Southwest, by Caribbean and South American Indians, and throughout the Middle Ages in Europe. Creosote from wood sources such as chaparral remains a popular herbal remedy today. It was also used frequently in Western medicine, primarily as an expectorant, antiseptic, astringent, anesthetic and laxative.

But get this — creosote is the primary ingredient in most 'liquid smoke' food products! Shortly after the creosote chemical compound was discovered in 1832, it was found to keep non-refrigerated meats from putrefying. And many people thought it gave meat a mouth-watering smoky flavor.

Our conclusion is that worrying about moderate creosote fumes might be more dangerous than the fumes themselves. But who knows for sure? Unless you want to become the Erin Brockovich of creosote, we think the best short-term solution is to simply move your boat north or south, so you're not directly downwind of the Army Corps site.


I enjoyed your October 5 'Lectronic tribute to Jim Kilroy of the various Kialoas. He truly is one of the great sailors of the last 50 years.

I grew up in Newport Beach and attended junior and senior high with Dana Kilroy, one of Jim's daughters. In the mid-'60s, catamarans were just catching on on the West Coast, and as I recall, the catamaran adherents were making as many enemies as friends. It was only renegades such as James Arness of the 58-ft Seasmoke and Buddy Ebsen of Polynesian Concepts I, II, III and IV, who bought them. I should say renegades who were also actors, as Arness was the star of the hugely popular television series Gunsmoke, and Ebsen was a very busy actor, playing countless roles from the original Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz to Jed Clampett in the Beverly Hillbillies.

But as I recall, Jim Kilroy chartered a large cat — I believe Alley Cat — during a weekend of particularly ferocious Santa Ana winds in the Newport area. It was so windy that Kilroy and his crew must have been the only ones sailing that day. Anyway, the catamaran flipped in the middle of Newport Harbor, sticking the masthead in the mud of the shallow harbor.

The catamaran remained capsized in the middle of the harbor for at least a few days, a shrine to either — pick one — failed seamanship or too much bravado. Anyway, some smart ass rowed out to the inverted hulls, which floated at least five feet out of the water, and used them as a canvas on which to paint the popular World War II slogan, "Kilroy was here!"

I was a 12-year-old paper boy for the Daily Pilot back then, and each day I read the paper as I folded 75 copies for later delivery via my Sting Ray bicycle. On the day after the capsize, there was a magnificent photo of the flipped cat, sporting the slogan, on the front page of the Daily Pilot. I thought it made for one of the funniest pictures that I'd seen in 55 years of yachting. I would love to search the Daily Pilot archives for that photo. Kilroy naturally took a lot of ribbing over the incident.

As I'm sure Latitude is aware, many of the early California catamarans were designed by Rudy Choy of Hawaii. I attended Rudy's memorial service at the Outrigger Canoe Club in Honolulu about 18 months ago. I first met Rudy at Corona del Mar High School, where he presented a movie and lecture about catamarans a few years after the famous Kilroy capsize. I was sent to a prep school on the Big Island for my junior and senior years, where I became a classmate of Robin, Rudy's daughter. Small world.

Cats rule!

P.S. I love Latitude 38.

Mark Blackburn

Mark — Thank you for the kind words.

The Kilroy cat flipping story is interesting, because we once saw the man who introduced Kilroy to the Southwestern YC audience — our new buddy Dennis Conner — flip a cat. It was when Dennis was practicing for the catamaran-versus-Kiwi 'Big Boat' America's Cup in 1988, and Dennis and crew did a little-too-aggressive fly-by of the San Diego YC one festive weekend. After the capsize, Dennis casually swam over to the yacht club dock, a big smile on his face, leaving the crew to deal with the cat's remains.

Chuck Driscoll of Driscoll's Boat Works in San Diego told us an interesting story about Kilroy and the building of his S&S-designed 74-ft ketch Kialoa II. At the height of S&S's glory, they wouldn't let just any yard build their designs, and also required an approved expert to supervise construction. S&S agreed that the yacht could be built by Yacht Dynamics of Harbor City — which was some sort of joint venture of Ken Watts of Watts Sails, Bud Gardiner, and Donald Douglas of Douglas Aircraft Corp. — but only as long as Gerry Driscoll would supervise.

Driscoll was a sailing champion several times over, and 20 years before had started numerous boatyard enterprises in the San Diego area with his brother Harlan. The only problem was that Gerry lived in San Diego, and the 100,000-lb aluminum Kialoa II was being built in the South Bay area of Los Angeles. As one can imagine, making five round-trip driving trips a week between San Diego and Los Angeles got old really fast, even in the '60s. Kilroy's solution was to buy a plane and have a pilot fly Driscoll between San Diego's Lindbergh Field and LAX every working day. After a month or so, Kilroy paid for Driscoll to take flying lessons, and Driscoll eventually made about 18 months' worth of round trips as his own pilot until the yacht was completed.

Kilroy's Kialoas seemed to be everywhere. As we mentioned, Frank Robben of Berkeley bought Kialoa II and sailed her relentlessly around the globe for 15 years before selling her to a Dutch businessman in '99. Google 'Kialoa II' and you can read all about Robben's many adventures with the yacht. Kialoa II has been totally refit twice in Turkey in the last dozen years, and is now for sale — for over $1,000,000!

Kialoa III, of course, was the most ubiquitous of all Kilroy's yachts, and made her presence felt all over the world, first as a wildly successful racing machine, and subsequently as a cruising boat — albeit not the most comfortable cruising boat in the world. It never surprised us to see Kialoa III racing on San Francisco Bay, in Southern California, or to Hawaii. But when we sailed our Ocean 71 Big O from California to Turkey in '95, we were pleasantly surprised to tie up next to Kialoa III at a marina in Marmaris. In fact, we poached 'Big Bill', one of her Aussie crew, for the trip back across the Med and Atlantic. As mentioned before, the Palmer-Johnson-built Kialoa III is structurally in fine shape and for sale in the San Pedro area. Alas, the same couldn't be said for Kialoa V, which we saw a few years ago on the hard at La Rochelle, France, looking more than a little out of sorts. Lord know where Kialoa IV is.

Jim Kilroy, truly a sailing legend.


I became involved with sailing this summer and had a blast! I mostly sailed beer cans out of Richmond YC, and I want to thank all the folks on Gruntled, Lighten Up 3, Mirage, and Monterey Peninsula's Yankee, for sharing their knowledge and love of sailing. I liked it so much, I wrote a love letter to sailing to sum up why I enjoy it so much.

[Poem deleted by publisher.]

I'm looking forward to getting out this fall and winter, and to continuing to read Latitude.

Linda Dayoan

Linda — While it was important for us to let you express your sentiment, we've had a firm policy for the last 35 years of not allowing poetry. The problem is we simply don't like it. But if it will make amends, we hope you can join us for a sail aboard Profligate sometime.



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