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February 2013

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Although I'm a 100% daysailor/cruiser on San Francisco Bay and the Delta, I'm still interested in the America's Cup. Have they released the dates of the racing for this summer? It would help me with my planning, as I'm hoping that my annual three-week cruise to the Delta in August — love that heat! — won't mean that I'll miss all the America's Cup action.

Ray Dustry
Windblown, Cal 30

Ray — The only constant with regard to the 34th America's Cup has been change, but the last time we checked the important dates were still the same:

February 1 — Competitors can launch their second AC72.

April 16-21 — World Series event — racing AC45s — in Naples, Italy. The other proposed AC events using AC45s have been scrapped for a variety of reasons, from the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy to the lack of interest on the part of the Kiwis.

July 4-August 30 — The Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger Selection Series. Which teams race on what days won't be determined until it starts, and it's subject to constant change.

September 7-21 — The 34th America's Cup Match Races.

If you can choose the dates of your Delta vacation, we'd suggest the first three weeks of August. That way you'd get to see the early races of the Louis Vuitton Cup, which are likely to be the wildest, because the crews will be getting used to their boats and sailing against other boats at tremendous speeds. Keep in mind that Team New Zealand has already hit 40 knots of boat speed in just 17 knots of true wind — riding on just one L-shaped hydrofoil. But that schedule also means that you'd be back from the Delta in time to see the finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup as well as the America's Cup itself.

If the crews can keep the AC72 together and upright, it should be a wild summer of sailing on San Francisco Bay. We're excited!

And don't forget to sign up for the Delta Doo Dah DIY at It's free and participants will receive a number of discounts and coupons from Delta businesses. See later in Letters for more details on this year's event.


A compliment to Latitude's publisher and his view into the future. In the September Changes in Latitude there was a paragraph discussing tropical storms and hurricanes in Mexico and in the Atlantic/Caribbean. "We're getting overdue," Latitude concluded, saying ". . . this is the longest time in the records of hurricanes that the continental United States hasn't been hit by a major hurricane."

Who would have known how prophetic your words were, and that Hurricane Sandy would arrive and do so much damage to so many? Good writing, and keep up the good work.

Gary Anderson

Gary — Thank you for the compliment, although you may want to retract it after reading the following. Many people have pointed to Hurricane Sandy and said it is conclusive evidence that climate change is causing more and stronger tropical storms than ever. The 'Sandy being conclusive evidence' part is nonsense, because the statement that "this is the longest time in the recorded history of hurricanes that the continental United States hasn't been hit by a major hurricane" remains as true today as when we wrote it in September. We're still overdue.

Sandy topped out with 95-knot winds, making her a mere Category 2 hurricane on a scale of 5. A hurricane has to be a Category 3 or higher to be classified as a major hurricane.

There have been 35 Category 5 hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin since 1924, and lord knows how many 3s and 4s. Remember that as windspeed doubles, the force of the wind goes up exponentially. So the force of Sandy's 95 knots was about one-quarter of what Camille brought to Texas with her 175 knots back in 1969. Heck, the marina at Cabo San Lucas has twice taken direct hits from 100-knot hurricanes and not suffered tremendous damage. So while Sandy was a terrible storm that caused widespread death and destruction, compared to others she wasn't a big deal.

That Sandy caused so much destruction was not so much a function of how strong she was, but rather that she struck the most densely populated region of the United States, one that is not prepared for such storms. That Sandy has garnered so much publicity — and taxpayer money, including for things that have nothing to do with hurricane relief — is partly a function of the fact that New York City is the media and narcissism center of the universe. Other places in the United States have suffered proportionally greater hurricane damage, but have had to rely on themselves, rather than the rest of the country, to recover.

If anyone wants to get an historical perspective of tropical storms for any and all regions of the world, we recommend Googling 'unisys + hurricanes'. If you study the last 50 years of hurricanes in the Atlantic and Caribbean, you'll find alternating periods of intense, very light, and average hurricane activity. We dare you to try to find anything remotely resembling a pattern. For instance, as we mentioned, there have been 35 Category 5 hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin since 1924. Eight of them were grouped in the years 2003 to 2007, with four of them in the wicked year of 2005. There hasn't been a Category 5 in the last six years. How does one explain such inconsistency?

As for 2012 in the Atlantic/Caribbean, as well as off Mexico, it was an average year, as have been the past few years. If anything, this would be evidence for those who argue that climate change isn't having any effect on the number and severity of storms. Not that we're ones to deny the existence of climate change.


When will the America's Cup again become a 'real' America's Cup, with real vessels and not these ridiculous Hobie Cat clones? Who are the morons who created and allowed this current fiasco to take place?

I'd like to see the America's Cup sailed for in classic old monohulls designed by real master naval architects — such as Ted Brewer.

Joe Ratliff
USCG 100-Ton Masters license 1984
14-ft Morgancraft
Winnemucca, Nevada

Joe — Ted Brewer is a prolific designer with more than 200 designs to his credit. He raced 8 Meters in his youth, and was also involved with 12 Meters for previous America's Cups. For example, he assisted in the modification of Weatherly for the successful Defense in 1962, and did all the drawings for the Bill Luders-designed American Eagle. But since Brewer is 80 years of age, don't you think it's time to let the younger guys design for the America's Cup?

As for catamarans in the Cup, there was an interesting news story in Scuttlebutt about Kenny Read, who is president of the North Sails Group, and who just finished skippering a Volvo 70 around the world for the second time. Despite just having raced 50,000 ocean miles, Read decided to jump on a Marstrom 32 catamaran at a post-race party. "I had a blast," Read enthused. "It brought me back to my old Formula 40 [catamaran] days." So when Read got home to Newport, Rhode Island, he wasn't psyched about jumping back into monohull one-design races; instead he started a multihull racing class. "I sent out an email to 20 or so local racers to see if there was interest in starting a new multihull class. And, of course, there was, based on the recent success of the America's Cup World Series event in Newport."


I hope the publisher remembers me, because I'd like to make a correction to the May 2012 Cruise Notes, in particular Latitude's mention of me in an editorial response about the news that Matt Rutherford had completed an epic 27,000-mile, 309-day solo circumnavigation of the Americas aboard his 36-year-old Vega 27 St. Brendan.

Latitude was correct in noting that Eileen Sudet was my sailing partner in 1978 when we delivered my Vega 27 back to California after the first Singlehanded TransPac — and got rolled 360 degrees in the process. But you were incorrect in reporting that I'd learned my lesson, and after the next TransPac had my Olson 30 Hanalei Express shipped back to California. In fact, I singlehanded my Olson back to Santa Cruz.

Indeed, the 'lesson' that I'd learned from the Vega 27 delivery was that November is too late in the year to leave Hawaii for California! I'd already delivered five Singlehanded TransPac boats back to the mainland, and my Lani Kai was my last.

Since those early days of the Singlehanded TransPac, I've raised two kids, and now live in Boulder, Colorado. Cycling — as in bicycling — is my main activity now, and I ride in the Rockies and occasionally the Italian Alps. Nonetheless, I'm going to attempt to contact the skipper of St . Brendan, because I'm getting the sailing itch again, and am thinking of buying a Vega 27 in Europe and sailing her back to the States. Lani Kai was a great little boat, and extremely seaworthy, too.

Like Latitude, I'm really curious about how Rutherford was able to stow everything he needed for 309 days at sea.

Don Keenan
Boulder, Colorado

Don — Thanks for the correction.

How could we not remember you? After all, weren't you the one who bet the owner of a Westsail 32 that you could beat his boat sailing your Olson backward? And then did it.

But why in the name of George Olson would you want to sail a Vega 27 instead of an Olson 30 back to the States from Europe? With any luck, the breeze would always be at your back, and we all know when it comes to off-the-wind sailing thrills, the Vega can't hold a Swedish meatball to an Olson 30. Sure, there aren't that many Olson 30s in Europe, but you could always sail one over there as Hank Grandin and his son Steve did with Tinsley Light. Sure, they got rolled 360 degrees and stayed inverted for awhile, but you've already done that, so no big deal, right?


In the December 31 'Lectronic, the publisher of Latitude wrote that his New Year's resolution was to sail the Olson 30 around St. Barth 10 times. My resolution for the new year is to sail more than motor.

Pam Sellix
Pied-a-Mer III,
Seawind 1160
Clatskanie, Oregon

Pam — Excellent!


Since the skipper, yours truly, and Jean, my first mate, both had medical issues last year that prevented us from taking Hoku lele out in 2012, our 2013 resolution is simple — just go sailing! We're both on the mend and looking forward to keeping our resolution.

Jim Ellis
Hoku lele, Catalina 42
San Francisco


I resolve to sail the entire Ha-Ha course for this fall's 20th Anniversary Baja Ha-Ha.
Patsy Verhoeven
Talion, Gulfstar 50
La Paz, Mexico

Readers — This is a bit of a joke because Patsy has sailed every mile of all six of the Ha-Ha's that she's done — even when it meant, as it did this year, that she and her crew would miss the big arrival party at Squid Roe.


My resolution is to not be a no-show for the 2013 Ta-Ta — assuming that the Ta-Ta is a Go-Go for this year.

Nat Antler
Natiki, Catalina 320
San Diego

Nat — We thought last year's first-ever Ta-Ta was great, particularly with respect to the participants, course, and pace. Alas, if they can keep enough AC72 catamarans together, this is going to be an America's Cup summer, which would present some scheduling conflicts with the Ta-Ta. So at this point we're not sure if the Ta-Ta is going to be a Go-Go or a No-No in 2013. We'll let you know as soon as we know.


My resolution is to make it to Barkley Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island next summer. I've been planning this trip for about 10 years, ever since I brought my Cascade 27 north from Portland to Port Townsend. Alas, I have been waylaid by all the other options on the Salish Sea.
C. Lathrop

Port Townsend, Washington

Readers — For those living outside of the Pacific Northwest, Salish Sea refers to "the network of coastal waterways between the southwestern tip of the Canadian province of British Columbia and the northwestern tip of the U.S. state of Washington". The term was first used 25 years ago by Bert Webber, a marine biologist from Bellingham. The United States Board of Geographic Names approved it in 2009, and British Columbia authorities followed suit in 2010. Critics say the Salish Sea is not a sea at all, but rather a series of interconnected straits, sounds and inlets.


My resolution is to get 70 entries for the 2014 Pacific Cup.

Steve Chamberlin
Pacific Cup YC Commodore

Steve — That would be fabulous. Readers interested in finding out more should check out Sightings.


I sailed casually in my 20s, and then at age 39, after living in Pt. Richmond for 16 years, finally — finally! — hauled my sorry ass over to Tradewinds Sailing School where I promptly got bit by the sailing bug.

I've been sailing for 18 months now, have taken my American Sailing Association (ASA) courses, put in 130 days on the Bay, and sailed a few charters, and I still don't own a boat.

I then thought about all the people I know, from family, to customers, to the members of my entire employee roster, and said, "They deserve to sail, too!" So this year I'm going to make sure I take a novice out every weekend. I'm going to bonus my employees with an ASA Basic Keelboat Class, and encourage people to use our half-day on Fridays to go sailing. That's my resolution for 2013.

By the way, would Latitude recommend the Olson 30 for singlehanded or doublehanded daysailing on the Bay?

Erik Engstrom
Pt. Richmond

Erik — What a guy!

Having owned three Olson 30s on San Francisco Bay, we obviously think they are great for singlehanded and doublehanded Bay sailing. One of our favorite races is the Singlehanded Sailing Society's Vallejo 1-2, a solo to Vallejo on Saturday and a doublehanded return on Sunday. The Olson offers huge fun and speed for the buck, particularly if you're sailing out of a place such as Pt. Richmond, where the wind is often light in the morning and in the late afternoon.

However, you have to be smart when shorthanding any ultralight boat on the Bay during the summer. For example, if you want to sail from Richmond to the Gate in June on an Olson 30, you should work the lee of Angel Island, Raccoon Strait, the lighter winds of Richardson Bay, and then the lee of Sausalito to Yellow Bluff in order to get to the Gate. From there, it's an Olson 30 glory ride down the Central Bay, followed by a broad reach back to Richmond. Do that a dozen times in a summer and you'll be totally in tune with your Olson — and a pretty darn good sailor. But god help you if you try to shorthand your Olson 30 between Alcatraz and Angel Island on your way up the The Slot to the Gate. You'll get thrashed.

Having written about the Olson 30 so often, we want to emphasize that it isn't the only great small ultralight to come out of Santa Cruz. The Moore 24 is a brilliant boat, but a little on the small side for some sailors. The Santa Cruz 27 is a fabulous boat. Many sailors think the best of the bunch is the Express 27, which would explain why there is a one-design class for them in the Corinthian Midwinters and why they've held their value better than the others. Although not many were made, the Wilderness 30 wasn't a slouch either.


My resolution is to sail to Catalina's Big Geiger Cove, drop the hooks, and not move for 30 consecutive days, all the while enjoying snorkeling, napping in the sun, fishing, ridge running, hiking, reading, beer- and rum-imbibing, and socializing with the wonderful variety of people who make up the Blue Water Cruising Club. The BWCC has leased the cove since the 1950s. I'm thinking July 2 to August 2.

By the way, the BWCC has a limited membership — 55 boats — but for the first time in a long time, there are spots open for SoCal-based sailors who love Catalina and who can bow-stern anchor. More info at

There's another part to my resolution. Come October, November, or maybe December, my wife and I will sail Splash to Cabo, then up into the Sea of Cortez. I'm sorely tempted, as I am every year, to join the Ha-Ha, but I like to dink down the coast, stopping at nearly every bay, headland anchorage and island for as long as each spot feels right. Last time, it took us seven weeks to get from San Diego to Cabo, and even then we felt kinda rushed.

I also resolve to see the orcas that have been visiting Southern California waters.

John Griffith
Splash, Catalina 42
Dana Point


My resolution is just to get out on the water more this year. Down here in Texas, we get to sail year 'round.

Capt. Fred Lowe
Kemah, Texas


My resolution is to get a bunch of people sailing on performance trimarans in the Ventura/Santa Barbara/Channel Islands area. To that end, my San Francisco-based biz partner Jared Brockway and I have started Pierpont Performance Sailing in Ventura, where we have Wetas, Corsair trimarans, and my Contour 34 available for lessons and charter, skippered or bareboat, race or cruise. It's a trimaran smorgasbord based on lovely Pierpont Bay!

Paul Martson
Orange, Contour 34

Readers — The letter almost sounds like an advertisement, but since Marston has done so much racing and cruising, from Northern California to Hawaii to Mexico, and since he's a veteran of the Ta-Ta and many Santa Barbara to King Harbor Races, we'll let it slide — like his Contour 34 down a wave off Pt. Mugu.


Please tell me the name of the schooner on the cover of the January issue of Latitude.

Susan Beland
Marinelle, Saffier 6.50
Kralendijk, Bonaire

Susan — She's the 180-ft Elena, which was designed by Nathanael G. Herreshoff. The first one was built in 1910. The new version, the one in the photo, was completed in Galacia, Spain, in 2010 under the direction of her captain, Steve McClaren. She raced in the St. Barth Bucket, where we took the photo, with a crew of 65.

Lovers of classic schooners will be disappointed to learn that Elena isn't on the entry list for this year's March 28-31 Bucket. However, a couple of other even larger classic schooners will be returning from last year. First, there is the 181-ft schooner Adela, which was designed by William Storey in 1903 and seen through various updates by Gerry Dykstra & Partners. Second, there is the even larger 203-ft Athos, which was designed by Hoek Design and built by Jachbouw in Holland two years ago. Although not a classic schooner, the 289-ft Maltese Falcon, originally built for Belvedere's Tom Perkins, will also be returning to the grand battle of 40 boats averaging 150 feet in length.

By the way, the publisher and Doña de Mallorca will be hosting a crewed charter for the Bucket aboard the publisher's Leopard 45 cat 'ti Profligate. It will be a combination of gawking at the greatest racing fleet in the world, partying with the participants, hanging out in the quiet anchorages of St. Barth — and maybe a little sailing on the Olson 30 La Gamelle. The cost is $2,500 per double cabin. If interested, contact Doña de Mallorca at .


Can somebody please explain to me why so many cruisers with dogs think that I would enjoy having my leg licked by their pet? If I had $10 for every time a dog owner apologized — or didn't even bother — for their dog's inappropriate behavior, I could afford a cat-amaran.

Name Withheld by Request for Fear of Reprisals
La Paz


I keep getting emails from a fellow in Alaska named Rimas Meleshyus, who says he is planning to be the first American to sail a San Juan 24 around the world via Cape Horn.

"Cape Horn is the much harder way to circumnavigate than by the Panama Canal," he writes, "due to strong winds, large waves, swift currents and submerged icebergs. These dangers have made it notorious as a sailors’ graveyard. To accomplish this trip, I am going to need sponsors or donations. If you are interested in sponsoring or just making a donation, email."

What do you think?

James Reeves

James — San Juan 24s were not designed or built for the purpose of sailing around Cape Horn or the world, so we think it's not the greatest idea in the world. When Webb Chiles says he's considering the possibility of going around the Horn in a Moore 24 — see the December Latitude — we cut him a little slack. After all, Chiles has five circumnavigations to his credit, including one in an 18-ft open boat. Plus, Chiles has already been rolled several times in the course of going around the Horn.

Our overall reaction to the proposed Meleshyus voyage is intense indifference, as we're suffering from 'first time' sailing record fatigue. For instance, right now we're getting reports that Gerry Hughes of Glasgow, Scotland, has been rolled near the Horn with his Beneteau 42 Quest III during his attempt to be "the first deaf man to sail nonstop around the world." Hughes is an accomplished sailor, and we respect his overcoming his disability, but how many 'firsts' can there be before they mean nothing? Chinese singlehander Guo Chuan is also down at the Horn in the midst of an attempt at a singlehanded nonstop circumnavigation in the Class 40 Qingdao. He's not the first Chinese to go around the Horn, but his website lists about a dozen 'firsts' to his credit.

Then there is Yassine Darkaoui of Morocco, who has been getting a lot of publicity for being the first to attempt to sail a Laser 150 ocean miles. Darkaoui is also an accomplished sailor, and is making the attempt to draw publicity to the "evils of drug-taking" — something he fell victim to earlier in his life. The only problem with what might be called 'lesser record attempts' such as his, is that nobody knows if somebody has already done better. For example, as much as we hate to rain on Yassine's parade, young Tania Elias sailed a Laser 285 ocean miles from Cabo San Lucas to Puerto Vallarta in 2010, a distance nearly twice as far as Yassine is planning.

As for whether you should contribute to Meleshyus's proposed voyage, that's a decision you're going to have to make for yourself. Maybe there is a very compelling backstory. But you might inquire about the proposed budget. After all, we've known people who needed $250,000 to sail around the world, while others have happily done it on less than a tenth of that.

Finally, if you're looking for some sort of context for the proposed voyage, here is a list of just some of the West Coast sailors who have completed circumnavigations in small boats, although not all of them via Cape Horn: Ed Boden, Kittiwake, Vertue 25; Alan Butler, Amon-Re, Heavenly Twins 26 catamaran; John Guzzwell, Trekka, 21-ft Giles yawl; Clifford and Marian Cain, Trekka, 21-ft Giles yawl; Brian Caldwell, Miti Vavau, Contessa 26; Nick and Jenny Coghlan, Tarka the Otter, Vega 27; Ardell Lien, Catalyst, Nor'Sea 27; Mike, Karen and Falcon Riley, Tola, Columbia 24; Tony Skidmore, Lorna Doone, Vega 27; Bob Lorenzi, Armido, Nor'Sea 27; Stephen and Marja Vance, Twiga, Cal 2-27.

Many of these people have fascinating stories. Take Ardell Lien, who was so infirm before he decided to circumnavigate that he couldn't make it up a flight of stairs. After getting heart and kidney transplants, he started his 15-month singlehanded circumnavigation at age 69. Of course, how could we forget Berkeley's Serge Testa, who did a two-year singlehanded circumnavigation with the 12-ft Acrohc Australis? It's getting very difficult to accomplish something really extraordinary in the world of sailing these days.


I'm terribly sorry to bother you, but I live in fear of missing the sign-up for the Delta Doo Dah 2013. I know the entry list fills up quickly — as in less than an hour.

I talked my wife into signing up for this year's event, and have been chewing my nails ever since, trying to figure out when sign-up opens. I want to jump on it like a duck on a June bug.

So could you let me know what date/time to be prepared for? I will then gladly monitor the Doo Dah website hourly, lean how to follow Twitter, or sign up for a Friend-Face account — whatever I have to do to sign up. Once it's open, I will eagerly join the stampede to sign up our 30-ft Honu!

Dyer Crouch
San Francisco Bay

Readers — In the summer of 2009, the crews of 30 or so Bay Area boats joined in the inaugural Delta Doo Dah, a laid-back Bay-to-Delta ‘rally’ we dreamed up over a bottle of Champagne at the company Christmas party. The idea was to get folks sailing in their own backyard, and it worked better than we’d hoped.

The next three Doo Dahs grew in size and scope, taking participants to a variety of destinations in every corner of the Delta. More than 100 boats and upward of 300 sailors have enjoyed escaping San Francisco Bay's bitterly cold summer winds for some delightfully warm downwind sailing up-Delta.

The one downside about the event that always bothered 'Doodettes' LaDonna Bubak and Christine Weaver was that they were forced to limit the fleet to 50 boats. While the Delta itself might be large, its marinas and anchorages aren't. Every year, the waiting list grew and grew with folks wanting to join in the fun, only to be turned away.

So this year, as they do every year, the Doodettes are playing fast and loose with the structure of the event. Instead of restricting the entry list to just 50 boats and telling them when they have to leave, anyone can join and they can go whenever they want. There will be no formal itinerary, no limit on fleet size and, best of all, no entry fee!

This year's event has been dubbed the Delta Doo Dah DIY, and more details will be available as the year progresses, but the Doodettes are planning a Kick-Off/Meet & Greet Party for May and a Reunion Party in the fall. Officially, the window of opportunity for enjoying the sizzling pleasures of the Delta will be May 24-September 9, but if you're off by a few days — or even a few weeks — no one will mind. So long as everyone has a fantastic time, it's all good.

Registration for the event, which will get you listed on the website —— and eligible for discounts from Delta businesses, will start April 8 around noon and will end on August 30. Official swag will also be available for purchase. The Doo Dah forum will be the go-to spot for anyone seeking info on all things Delta, from anchoring tips to hot fishing holes to the best restaurants. It's also a great place to coordinate with friends — and future friends — to cruise upriver in company.


The late Chris Corlett actually got tagged with the nickname 'Poodle' because he liked full-size poodles! Yeah, the dogs. I know this to be true because I raced with Chris off and on for 30 years. I still can't believe he's gone.

Greg Paxton
Relentless, Sydney 32
Richmond YC

Readers — Greg notes that John Selbach's explanation for the Poodle nickname — Chris liked to 'sniff' around all new race boats that came to the Bay — may also be true.


I'm planning on a trip to La Paz in a few months, and hope to get a crew spot on a boat headed to the Sea of Cortez — or south or west. How and where can I get on a sailboat in La Paz?

Bob Higgons

Bob — We're confused, as you say you're going to La Paz in a few months hoping to get on a boat headed to the Sea of Cortez — or to the south and west. La Paz is in the Sea of Cortez, and if you go south and west, you're headed across the Pacific. If you want to sail across the Pacific, you're better off flying to Puerto Vallarta.

But but no matter. If you want to get on a boat in La Paz, we have three tips: 1) Show up in La Paz and network; 2) Show up in La Paz and network; and 3) show up in La Paz and network. Networking is particularly easy in La Paz, as there's a big and friendly cruiser community, several cruiser centers, lots of cruiser group activities, and a very active morning net.

Timing matters, however. Lots of boats were headed south from La Paz from early November through late January in order to escape the cold of La Paz for the warmth of the mainland. But starting in March, people start leaving the mainland for La Paz and the pleasures of the Sea of Cortez. Go with the flow, and you should be able to score a berth — assuming you don't have the personality of an axe murderer.


In the editor's response to a letter on Jim Kilroy and his various Kialoas, Kialoa II was incorrectly identified as a ketch. She was actually a yawl, although she sometimes raced as a sloop. Kialoa III started out as a ketch and was later converted to a sloop.

Frank 'Noodles' Ansak
San Francisco

Frank — You sailed on Kialoa II enough to know. Our mistake.


Regarding the connection of long wave periods and sneaker waves in Tony Badger's December letter. I seem to remember that the National Weather Service warning advisories specifically caution against sneaker waves when long-period waves are coming in. You seem to disagree. What gives?

My opinion is that on the shore or in shoaling waters such as the Potato Patch, long-period waves — groundswells — are a major factor in rogue waves. I think this is especially true when shoaling groundswell is refracted into interference patterns by, for instance, the Farallon Bank or the South Bar.

In the simpler but more chaotic situation of deep water and wind waves, I agree with you and oceanographer Mike Leneman — but I bet you'll get a lot of response on this one because you are only partially right.

Pat Nance

Pat — Might your memory be playing tricks on you? Google as we may, we were unable to find anything under 'National Weather Service + sneaker waves'. Not only that, 'sneaker waves' as an entity distinct from just bigger waves than normal only exist in the imaginations of the people who don't know what they are talking about. If you Google 'sneaker waves', you'll read the following from Wikipedia:

"A sneaker wave is a disproportionately large coastal wave that can sometimes appear in a wave train without warning. The terminology itself is popular rather than scientific, as there is no scientific evidence of the phenomenon as a distinct sort of wave with respect to height or predictability — like there is on other extreme wave events such as rogue waves. Because they are much larger than preceding waves and sneaker waves can catch unwary swimmers, washing them out to sea. 'Sneaker waves' are mainly referred to in warnings and reports of incidents for the coasts of Northern California, Oregon and Washington in the United States."

In other words, sneaker waves are just the bigger waves in any system. Surfers refer to them as 'set waves' or 'waves of the day'. Interestingly, if you've surfed or if you talk to any surfers, you'll know that it's not at all uncommon for there to be lulls of a half-hour to an hour between even decent-sized waves. That being the case, people who aren't familiar with the ocean go for a walk on the beach thinking whatever waves are dribbling on the sand aren't going to get any bigger. Then a surfer shouts "Outside!" and everybody paddles farther out to catch a set wave or wave of the day. A minute or so later, the unknowing beach walker gets blasted by the wave, sucked out to sea, and drowns. Witnesses, who know no better than the beach walker, say the victim was hit by a sneaker wave because it had snuck up on him. Being much wiser about set waves and biggest waves of the day, the first thing doctors do after slapping Hawaiian newborns on the ass is tell them to "Never turn your back to the ocean." Mainlanders don't get this same advice and, as a result, something like five people have already been killed by so-called sneaker waves this winter.

By the way, did you notice that there was no mention of any connection between wave period and so-called sneaker waves? No matter what the period, some waves are just bigger — even much bigger — than others.

What's the difference between what is popularly called a 'sneaker wave' and a 'rogue wave'? According to Google search results, "Rogue waves are relatively large and spontaneous ocean surface waves that occur far out at sea. In oceanography, they are more precisely defined as waves whose height is more than twice the significant wave height (SWH), which is itself defined as the mean of the largest third of waves in a wave record. Therefore rogue waves are not necessarily the biggest waves found at sea, but rather surprisingly large waves for a given sea state. Rogue waves seem not to have a single distinct cause, but occur where physical factors such as high winds and strong currents cause waves to merge to create a single exceptionally large wave."

Your opinion/theory about rogue waves breaking on the shore and/or in shoaling waters is pretty much shot down by the fact that science says they only occur far out to sea.

As for your bet, we're sorry to say that you lose. Other than yours, we haven't received a single letter even partially in support of Mr. Badger's tenacious position.


In my 40+ years of sailing, I've never heard the term 'king tide', although I'm familiar with neap and spring tides. According to Wikipedia, king tide is a popular but non-scientific term describing an extreme spring tide when the moon is in perigee.

I can attest to the extreme nature of the tide that occurred on December 12. The water covered the parking lot in front of KKMI, blocking the gate to one of the boat basins at Clipper Marina in Sausalito. As a result, the sailing class I was teaching had to be ferried to the boat! An hour-and-a-half later the water had receded, and we were able to walk through the previously flooded parking lot.

Later that afternoon, during the minus tide, the houseboat area west of the boat basin was totally dry and several feet out of the water.

Dan Haynes
Sailing Instructor
Club Nautique

Dan — Popular terms are overtaking scientific terms all the time. Let's create one ourselves. You know the minus tide following the so-called 'king tide'? Let's call it the 'queen tide'. Pass it around.


I have some comments on the letter by Fred Engerer regarding the loss of Capt. Al Wilderman — a classmate of mine at the Naval Academy — from the submarine Plunger outside the Gate many years ago. Wilderman wasn't standing on the deck of Plunger when he was washed overboard, but rather on the top of the sail. He was wearing a lifejacket, but had only a railing to hang on to.

Plunger had just finished an overhaul at Mare Island, and was heading offshore for a test dive and sea trials. I don't understand why the boat was heading out so late in the day, as usually you leave for sea trials in the morning. The officer of the deck and two lookouts were standing about five feet below Al and in front of him, so they could see over the top of the sail, but were protected by it. Depending on how the sub was trimmed, the top of the sail was probably 25 to 30 feet above the waterline.

I was the Duty Officer at Hunters Point Shipyard that fateful night, and heard the radio traffic between the Coast Guard and Plunger. As best I could determine, the sub was about a mile or two west of the Gate when the accident occurred. The bow of the submarine is shaped like a bullet, and even at rest most of the bow is underwater. The boat was heading into the seas, and was probably making 10 to 12 knots or better.

When a submarine hits a wave, the bow doesn't rise up and cut through it, but rather goes through the wave and is forced down by the added weight and hydrostatic force. Of course, the faster the boat is going and the steeper the wave, the more pronounced the effect. Consequently, even a 15- or 20-ft wave could easily wash over the top of the sail. I assume that's what happened.

The OOD and the lookouts would, of course, have been inundated by the wave, and the water pouring down the open hatch into the control room would have added to the confusion. By the time the others realized that Capt. Wilderman was missing, it was too late. They never found his body.

Jerry McDaniel, Lcdr, USN (ret)
Misty Blue, 32-ft Nordic Tug

Jerry — We suppose it just goes to show that sometimes even the best equipment and training aren't enough to protect mariners — or rescue them — from going overboard.


Times are getting tougher and thefts are increasing. Three of us boat-project addicts have been restoring a 40-ft trawler at San Carlos in the Sea of Cortez. We are in our third season and will finish this year.

The project is on the hard, and we have used a bodega and cargo trailer within a walled compound for work and storage. This summer the trailer was broken into and emptied of everything valuable, including tools and boat parts worth several thousand dollars.

With the recent presidential election in Mexico and the change of parties in power, public service coffers were emptied and basic services such as garbage pickup and police patrols stopped. City electric bills went unpaid, and street lights were turned off and removed. Several police officers were later arrested with lots of booty that had been taken from homes. None of our things have been recovered.

Enrique Pena Nieto is now president of Mexico and the PRI party is back in power. Services have resumed, and the lights are back on. Life is good, but tourism is slow, and every day we get approached by Mexicans looking for work. These are good, hard-working people who have fallen on tough times. Secure your things well and pray for the best.

Tom Frey
San Carlos, Mexico

Tom — From time immemorial, leaving stuff behind in Third World countries — walled compound or no walled compound — has been risky. And the presence of security guards often means nothing. On our way to the Caribbean, we once spent a night in a small hotel in St. Martin, and asked if there was a security guard. The owner said no, explaining that security guards were often the problem, as they were the ones who knew which guests were in their rooms and which were out for the evening. In some cases, the security guards were crooked from the get-to, while in other cases gangs threatened to beat the crap out of security guards who didn't cooperate with them.

When there is a change in political parties in Mexico, those who get ousted often grab what they can before they are removed. The same thing happens in the United States, but in a more sophisticated First-World way, such as through crony contracts, deliberate lack of financial oversight, and political appointments of unqualified relatives and brown-nosers. But as you note, services have resumed in Mexico and the quality of life is good. Why else would more than a million Americans elect to live in Mexico?

We have to take exception with your claim that tourism is off in Mexico. When the Ha-Ha arrived in Cabo San Lucas in early November, it was all but impossible to find a hotel room, with no clear explanation of where all the tourists had come from. We don't know what it was like over the holidays in San Carlos, but it was booming in the Vallarta/Riviera Nayarit area. Planes were packed, hotels were sold out, and reservations were needed at many restaurants where they had never been needed before. When we asked Rudi, who is part of the cooperative that takes tourists whale-watching and to the Tres Marietes from Punta Mita, how business was, we were shocked at his response. Every time we asked him about business the five previous years, he had a pat answer: "Terrible." This time he said business was, "Excellent, much better than it's been in years." We were so shocked that we fell over and had to be revived.

Mexico certainly does have problems, and there are too many willing people unable to find work. Sort of sounds like in that big country to the north. But there is also quiet optimism in Mexico, for unlike in the United States, the middle class is growing rather than shrinking, and the GDP is up a very respectable 3.6% year after year. Best of all, for whatever reason narco violence seems to be down.


I have an alternative history lesson for Lee Helm.

In the January issue, Lee compares the bow profile of Dionysus’ sailing dinghy of the ancient world to the wave-piercing bows of the AC45 and now AC72 catamarans. I think the differences may be a little more than a few millennia of time between the two, and the lesson may come from the wrong side of the world.

First, Dionysus still had significant reserve buoyancy at the end of his ancient bulbous bow ram. Second, his sails were significantly less efficient and lower to the waterline, thus reducing the pitchpoling moment. Last but not least, Dionysus’ dinghy was a monohull with significantly more waterplane area for her length.

Lee also notes that the reverse bow has been used on the small racing A-class catamarans for over a decade. But a quick search on YouTube reveals that these types of craft have been pitchpoling for as long!

Perhaps Lee Helm should look to the Polynesians, the original multihullers, for clues on preventing pitchpoling. The bow and stern end pieces in the accompanying photo are found on both paddling and sailing multihulls. They aren't there for ornamentation, but for good reason — they help prevent pitchpoling. I’ve paddled down waves at Waikiki in Hawaiian canoes, and the bow end piece gets you wet — but I’ve never seen one pitchpole.

Another modern example is the semi-SWATH (Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull) powerboat that my colleagues and I drew up while working at Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale. You can see in the photo that as a semi-SWATH, she has the bow of a SWATH and the stern of a catamaran. She was built by Armstrong Marine in Port Angeles, Washington in 2008, and her sea trials were in the notorious Cape Flattery area in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. With her powerful diesels, we were able to launch her off the crests of 14-ft head seas at 33 knots — we could hear the engines race as the waterjets sucked air. Falling down into the trough was like falling down an elevator shaft, but the reserve buoyancy in her flared bows never once dug in, nor gave us a hint that she wanted to pitchpole.

It took 30 years to get folks to believe that well-designed catamarans don’t always want to capsize, and I’d hate to see it take another 30 years to get folks to believe that high-performance power and sailing catamarans don’t always want to pitchpole!

Steve Bailey
Los Gatos


Barry Foster's recent unpleasant experience — having his cash and passport stolen while staying at a place provided by Ernesto — in Turtle Bay is unfortunate. Having stopped there seven times myself — five times in the course of Ha-Ha's and twice during Baja Bashes back up the coast — I've seen a whole different side of what I consider to be a wonderful small Mexican town.

Turtle Bay was our second stop in May of '03 when we Bashed back to California from Puerto Vallarta. We were exhausted when we reached Turtle Bay, as it was just Roger Mammon and I doing the delivery. We needed fuel, but stupid me didn't have enough cash, and back then they didn't take credit cards for fuel. So we had to go to the Western Union office in town to try to get some cash wired down.

Talk about a frustrating endeavor! We had to fill out a long Western Union form in Spanish, in triplicate, to get $400 U.S. The Mexican clerk who helped us didn't speak a word of English, and why should he have? But he didn't give up, despite three failed attempts to get the wire to go through. With his insistence that we change the answer on one box on the form, we finally got the funds. Yes, it took hours, but I was so impressed with this kind Mexican's willingness to stick with us through the confusion that I haven't forgotten it. A great Turtle Bay experience!

When we arrived in Turtle Bay on November 30 of last year — doing my second Baja Bash — it was 4 a.m. We anchored just off the fuel dock, had a few beers, and went to sleep. When I awoke after four hours of much-needed sleep and stumbled topside, there was a panga with its operator politely standing off our boat, waiting for some activity on deck. Seeing me, the pangero offered to take our garbage, and bring water and diesel if we needed it. We needed 165 gallons of diesel, but I wasn't sure they could ferry that much fuel.

I was happy to have the water and garbage problem solved, but I still wasn't sure what to do about the diesel. But as it's difficult to bring a sailboat in stern-first to Turtle Bay's fuel dock — you have to back down and set an anchor — and with the pangeros assuring me that it was no problem, I decided to take a chance that Enrico's fuel barge could handle that much fuel.

Enrico's people brought the fuel and efficiently started pumping it into my boat. I started out using a Baja filter as a precaution, but after 20 gallons I could tell that the fuel was clean, so I allowed them to pump full speed. We had agreed on a price, but the pangeros couldn't take a credit card in the anchorage. As best I could make out, they indicated they would be back later with some kind of credit card machine.

After a few hours of making repairs and the crew walking around Turtle Bay, I was ready to go to sea again. But I still hadn't been able to pay for the fuel, as nobody had shown up asking for nearly $600. They sure were trusting, as we easily could have set sail — although we wouldn't, of course.

I hailed the next pangero who came by, and he delivered me to the fuel dock. Enrico's son was there, and though he doesn't speak much English, he indicated that I should come with him to pay for the fuel. We jumped into his truck and headed uptown. I have to admit I became a little nervous as we continued far beyond the Vera Cruz restaurant (WTF?! where are we going!?). But it turned out that Enrico lives past the edge of town.

We eventually pulled into a dusty — kind of a redundant adjective for Turtle Bay — but neat little home at the edge of town. Enrico welcomed me warmly into his casa, took my credit card, and processed it with a reader on his kitchen counter. With that, the deal was done. Since Mexicans are especially appreciative of business, Enrico shook my hand again, after which his son drove me all the way back to the fuel dock.

I want Latitude readers to know that I have warm feelings and respect for all the wonderful people I've encountered in Turtle Bay — and all of Mexico — over the last 10 years. I hope and believe that Barry Foster's experience in Turtle Bay was an aberration.

As for the next leg on Tamara Lee Ann to Ensenada, what a Bash! Sometimes in winds up to 40 knots on the nose, with commensurate seas. But that's another story.

Doug Thorne
Tamara Lee Ann, Celestial 48


Beth and I anchored at La Playa Cove, San Diego Bay, for the New Year's Eve holiday celebration. It turned out to be a not very pleasant experience because of decisions made by the Harbor Police.

As ours was going to be the host boat for a planned raft-up for New Year's Eve, I had pulled a permit to anchor in the cove — as is required by San Diego Bay rules. As friends, who had chartered a catamaran for that special night, and another boat, came alongside to raft up, we noticed the Harbor Police going around checking permits.

Before long, the Harbor Police came over to verify my permit — and then asked for the permits of the rafted vessels. I explained that the other boats didn't get permits because they were rafted to us instead of being anchored, and because rafted boats had never needed permits before.

The Harbor policeman replied that it would be unfair if I had to get a permit and the other two boats didn't. That explanation didn't make much sense to me, as the permits are free — though I'm getting the feeling that such permits won't be free much longer.

Currently 39 anchoring permits are available for La Playa Cove on a given weekend. Why not 40? I have no idea.

We went online and were unable to find anything about rafted vessels needing a permit. Since the cove was well under capacity that evening — fewer than 25 boats in an area allowed to have 39 — we figured that maybe we could get permits for the other two boats online. There was no way to do it.

The Harbor Police informed us that we could stay for a couple of hours, but would then need to break up our raft-up before the start of the New Year. Since we had chartered the cat for the party, and people had come from out of town to celebrate the New Year with many family and friends, we decided that we'd just let the Harbor Police give us a ticket and deal with it later.

But oh, no, that's not how the Harbor Police decided they would handle it. They told us that getting a ticket wasn't going to be an option. In fact, we were given five minutes to either depart or have our boats impounded!

Not knowing how it was going to play out, the captains of the respective boats had the presence of mind not to exceed alcohol limits. I wonder what would have happened had the captains consumed too much and then been forced to move the boats. So our planned party broke up, and the few who could dinghy ashore did so. It was a bad time to end the 100-year tradition of rafting boats in La Playa Cove. I'd like to thank the Harbor Police for changing the rules without letting anybody know.

Anyhow, I thought Latitude might like to know what kind of stuff goes on in San Diego Bay. With the rates at the Police Docks having gone up 300% in the last year or so, and what I suspect will be a forthcoming charge to anchor in La Playa Cove, it feels as though we mariners are getting pushed around.

At least the weather is good here. And with the Coast Guard, Navy, US Customs, Harbor Police, and Navy Security, we sure feel safe.

Chris Catterton
Sophia, Islander 44

Chris — We can understand the rationale for there being a limit on the total number of boats allowed in La Playa Cove, as opposed to just the number of boats at anchor. After all, suppose every boat had four boats rafted to her. But as this clearly wasn't the case on New Year's Eve, it seems like a case of overzealous law enforcement. Particularly if permits hadn't previously been required for rafted boats.

We've never quite understood the concept of highly paid, gun-carrying law enforcement being in charge of berthing — as is the case at most government-owned harbors on the coast. After all, isn't it basically the nautical equivalent of a parking lot attendant's job, something that can be handled by a low-level employee of Parks & Recreation? If there's trouble, the police can be summoned, just as a parking lot attendant would do. Of course, we're talking about a state where even members of the State Milk Board are also armed — to what, shoot cows? — and paid extra to carry arms, so what do we expect?

The other issue is that San Diego has a much different law enforcement culture from that of places such as San Francisco. Part of it is based on the fact that San Diego was long a military town, where you followed orders — or else. It probably also has something to do with the fact that there are no fewer than nine law enforcement agencies who have some sort of authority over San Diego Bay.

According to government statistics, if someone is arrested in San Diego, they are 10 times more likely to go jail than someone arrested in San Francisco. Mind you this is despite the fact that it's very difficult to get arrested in San Francisco in the first place. For example, if you were to take a dump on the sidewalk on front of San Francisco City Hall, somebody — probably a member of the Board of Supervisors — would likely be right there with a roll of toilet paper and vouchers for malt liquor and hotel rooms. Take a dump in front of the Harbor Police substation at the end of Shelter Island and you'll be getting a jail cell but no malt liquor and no San Francisco-style lovin'.

We think it would have been in the best interest of the San Diego Police to handl the incident in a more citizen-friendly manner. As in, "No sweat about the raft-up boat permits for your friends tonight, but please be advised that they now are required. Happy New Year to you all."


After decades of hard work, I'll be retiring this fall and sailing south as part of the 20th anniversary Baja Ha-Ha. I don't plan to return to California anytime soon, as it's no longer the magnificent place it was 30 and 40 years ago.

Like all retirees, I'll have less income and will therefore be looking to save money where I can. One place is personal property tax on my boat. It makes sense to me that I should pay personal property tax on my boat when I keep it within a certain county, as supposedly I'm using that county's resources. But it makes no sense to me that I should have to pay for such services if I take my boat out of the country for a year — or, hopefully, years. But it's my understanding that some California county tax assessors believe that I should. How can I avoid doing that?

An even bigger area where I can save money is when it comes to California state income taxes. I have to pay 9.3%. I guess I should consider myself lucky, as high-income people have to pay 12.3%. As lucky as I might be, I'm one of those people who believe that California doesn't have a tax revenue problem, but rather a spending problem. After all, any state that pays a prison shrink $820,000 a year either is grossly mismanaged or doesn't need more money. (I think it's both.)

When I lived and earned my money in California, I grudgingly paid that tax — not that I had a choice. But once I start cruising, I'll no longer live in California, so I'll certainly not feel any obligation — moral or otherwise — to pay for what I consider to be outrageous government programs, ridiculous public employee salaries and pensions, trains to nowhere, and the widespread corruption and incompetence. But I presume that I had better establish residency in some other state if I want to make sure that California doesn't come after me.

What do you know about all this?

Please withhold my name, as there are reasons I don't want people to know that I'm leaving in October.

Name Withheld By Request
Los Angeles County

NWBR — County tax assessors in California have interpreted the personal property tax laws differently. Some have said that all boats — even foreign boats in transit — in their county on January 1 have to pay personal property tax. Others have claimed that no matter how long you take your boat out of the state — even five years or more — you still owe personal property tax. Yet other county assessors have — as have other states — ruled that if you take your boat out of the state for more than six months in any given year, you don't owe any personal property tax. Our advice is to immediately determine the policy of the assessor in the county where you keep your boat. Then you may or may not have to do anything.

It's true that many cruisers who once lived and paid taxes in California establish residency in other states when they take off, in a large part to avoid California's very high income taxes. One way to do this is to buy or rent a residence in a state that doesn't have any income tax — such as Texas, Florida, Nevada, Alaska or South Dakota. But California tax collectors may suspect that just having a residence in another state may be a ploy to escape taxes, and may put their taxpayer-funded tax collectors on your tail. So here are some other things you want to do in the new state to make it seem/be legit: get a driver's license, register to vote, open bank accounts, register any vehicles you might have, and get your credit card bills and other important documents sent to an address in that state.

Buying or renting a residence, of course, may cost more than any state income tax you would save. This is where mail forwarding services come in. Such services are located in all states that don't have income tax, and most will help you get a street address — as opposed to a shady-sounding post office box address. They also will help you get a new driver's license and voter registration, and help you register your boat and vehicle(s). Such mail forwarding services often cost less than $150 a year, and do a great job of letting you know what mail you have. Some will even take care of renewing your boat's Coast Guard documentation.

If you still get some or all of your income from business activities or salaries or pensions in California, you may still be required to pay tax on some — if not all — of your income. You're going to have to consult with a tax expert for advice on that.

By the way, if you think states hate the idea of people taking their former tax obligations to states where there is no such obligation, think of how much the federal government hates U.S. citizens moving to countries with a lower cost of living — and possibly higher quality of life — and cashing their social security checks in them. If most of the million Americans living in Mexico are collecting social security and government pension checks, and cashing them and spending the money in Mexico, it's a significant outflow. It's a big enough 'problem' that Canada solved it by requiring that their citizens spend at least six months a year in Canada in order to be eligible for health coverage.

If you're a cruiser who has had success or failure with changing your residency, we'd like to hear about your experience.


After going back and forth, it looks as though we'll be bringing Moontide back to Southern California after the season in Mexico. As such, we want to lobby for my cat to get the number one spot for the 20th anniversary Ha-Ha. Here's our pitch:

1) We love the Ha-Ha. I've done it five times with Moontide and another time on another boat.

2) I always have fun and good-looking crew.

3) Moontide, like Profligate, is a fat boat.

4) Judy, my girlfriend, is fun and hot.

5) We throw a great unofficial party at Bahia Santa Maria.

6) My astrologist said the moon and stars are perfectly aligned for this.

7) We give the Profligate crew some relief for one night. (See #5 above.)

8) It might be Moontide's last Ha-Ha, since we'll probably not return to California after this summer.

9) The Poobah won't get emails from my potential crew asking why Moontide's name isn't on the entry list.

10) We were the last entry last year, so it only seems fair that we average out by being first this year.

If these aren't enough reasons, let us know and we will cook up some more.

Bill Lilly & Judy Lang
Moontide, Lagoon 470
Newport Beach

Bill and Judy — You're number one — as long as you promise not to send us any more reasons that you think you deserve that position.


Having done a moderate amount of cruising, including my share of anchoring out, I’m still mystified by the seemingly serendipitous nature of the relationship of various anchors to holding ground.

In 1998, after sailing my Nonsuch 26 to Baja with the Ha-Ha fleet, I cruised up to La Paz and the nearby islands. One memorable night in one of the anchorages of Espiritu Santo, my 22-lb Bruce anchor dragged repeatedly. It was blowing 30 knots and the bottom was sand. I finally gave up and set my Fortress, which did hold. The Bruce had held every other time — at least 15 times — on that trip, including in winds in excess of 35 knots.

Now the owner of a Norseman 447, I visited the islands off La Paz this fall. I set my anchor in half-mile by one-mile Partida, using the Rocna 25 (55 lbs) that came with the boat, with 100 feet of chain in 20 feet of water. I dove to check it, and found it well set in sand. Remembering the 1998 adventure, I thought that maybe I should set the Danforth instead. But recalling the write-ups on the Rocna — "the true all-purpose anchor" — I put my faith in what I had out.

That night a Coromuel wind blew into the anchorage with gusts to 35 — maybe 40 — knots. Everything seemed fine. But then I awoke at 3:30 a.m., as I felt that something just wasn't right. Indeed, I saw a rock wall about 50 feet off the stern. My boat must have dragged a half-mile or so, so smoothly through the sand that it didn't even rattle. My having just lost use of my windlass due to electrical problems, it was a bit hairy getting the Rocna on deck and motoring out of there.

Over on the mainland the following week, I anchored at Stone Island near Mazatlan. Some enterprising locals helped themselves to my RIB and 15-hp Mercury. It was hoisted horizontally up to deck level with a spinnaker halyard, which we do for security each night. The thieves just boarded the boat at midnight, tow line already in place, cut the halyard, and took off. I was up on deck in no more than 10 seconds — in time to see them speeding off with my dink in tow.

Not feeling completely comfortable sleeping at Stone Island after the theft, we motored over to Isla Venado, a place I’d anchored at before. I tried getting the Rocna to hold no less than four times in 12-18 feet of water, again with 80 feet of chain. Putting some strain on the tackle with the Yanmar in reverse, it just kept dragging along. But it was bumpy, so I assumed the bottom was rocky.

I tried the Danforth, which wouldn't hold either. Since there was no wind, I just left both anchors down with 80 feet of chain on the Rocna and 100 feet of line on the Danforth. I didn't really sleep, but my boat didn't drag either.

No morals of the story here — just sharing some frustrating experiences and looking for some advice.

Brian Bouch
Albatross, Norseman 447
Petaluma / Lying Mazatlan

Brian — If you want the advice of someone who has dragged in anchorages from Bodrum, Turkey, to Dickenson Bay, Antigua, to Panama's San Blas Islands, to even Caleta Partida, Mexico, it would be that the next time you anchor somewhere when it's blowing 20+ and the water is clear, you dive in with a mask to observe what happens to the anchor and rode when the boat jerks back on them. It will give you a better appreciation of the dynamic forces at play than when you go to a boat show and steadily pull miniature anchors and chains through various types of 'bottoms' in baking pans. If you're like us, watching those dynamic loads will make you a firm believer in very big anchors and very long scope — at least when the wind is up. Yacht designer Steve Dashew has given a lot of sailing advice over the years, and we think the best was when he wrote something to the effect of "You know you have the right anchor when a sailor walking down the dock sees it on your bow roller and bursts out laughing because it's so big."

But to your specific situations:

In the case of Espiritu Santo with your Nonsuch 26, you didn't say how much scope you had out, so we're missing critical information. That said, the Fortress is a better design than the Bruce in hard sand. But no matter what you put out, scope is critical. Most anchors are designed to have at least 7:1 scope. Frankly, we're surprised that your Nonsuch's 22-lb Bruce could hold your boat on other occasions in up to 35 knots of wind — unless you had really long scope and the bottom was mostly Gorilla Glue. For comparison, we use two 45-lb anchors on a lot of heavy chain for our Olson 30 La Gamelle in St. Barth — and she displaces one-third as much as your Nonsuch. And we still fret when the wind tops 20 knots.

As for the 55-lb Rocna for your Norseman 447, it might be adequate if you're anchoring in light-air regions and for weekend use. But when you cruise the Sea of Cortez, it's a different story. Sure, it's very often light air, but you also know that it's subject to Northers, Corumuels, and elephantes, all of which come up quickly and can blow hard. If we were you, we'd go up two sizes from what's normally recommended.

As for 100 feet of chain in 20 feet of water, that's just plain inadequate when cruising — except when just stopping for lunch. If it were us, we'd suggest carrying 200 feet of honking thick chain for rode. The two areas where cruisers short change themselves the mostareis when it comes to anchors and rodes, and dinghies and outboards. Don't be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to these critical cruising components that are used almost every day.

We don't know what other sailors think, but if we anchor on a lee or potentially lee shore and the wind is blowing more than 25 knots, somebody has to be on anchor watch. Thirty-five or 40 knots of wind? We don't care how many anchor alarms have been set, somebody has to be up and monitoring the situation.

That you dragged across the anchorage at Caleta Partida actually brings back fond memories. We once dragged anchor — a CQR — all the way across the Caleta Partida anchorage with our Freya 39 Contrary to Ordinary. This happened during a Sea of Cortez Sailing Week in the early 1980s, and it was a miracle our boat somehow made her way through most of the 100 anchored boats without making contact. The only thing that kept our boat from going to ashore is, as you know, that the bottom gets shallow very slowly, so the more we dragged, the greater scope we had. Lucky us.

We're sorry to hear about your dinghy at Stone Island. As for Isla Venado, we've never anchored there, so we don't know what to tell you — except to keep repeating the anchor and rode mantra: All other things being equal, bigger and longer are better.


Latitude's recent discussion about Fanning Island, the Nature Conservancy and Palmyra Atoll got my attention.

Palmyra had rats in 1985. I know, because several got aboard my boat Isla. And when I shimmied up a palm and was finally within arm's reach of some coconuts, a rat took a well-aimed piss, which dribbled down a couple of downspout-like palm fronds and onto my head!

I doubt that the Nature Conservancy has rid Palmyra of rats. As a result, their big fee to check a boat for rats is a joke.

When I arrived in Palmyra, there were just two dogs — named Army and Navy — living there. They were by themselves because they'd been left behind by somebody. I can't recall the story.

The dogs lived on sea bird eggs. They also herded small sharks into the shallows. The dogs would get very excited when herding baby sharks, and when the shark's tail fins broke the surface, the dogs would move with what seemed to be lightning speed to bite onto them with their teeth. They would then whip the little sharks ashore, then go berserk pouncing, jumping, yelping and biting.

Army and Navy were a tough pair — they had chunks of their lips and noses missing, and were covered in scars. (I think there had been a third dog, Palmyra, before I landed.)

I spent a month at Palmyra. It was an absolute paradise — heaven! It was very hard for me to leave. The dogs sensed that I was going to leave and that they were going to be left alone on the island again. They swam far out into the lagoon trying to follow Isla, barking and yowling mournfully.

I continued on to Tonga, but a small part of me has never let go of Palmyra.

The Nature Conservancy subsequently bought the island, and I find some of their restrictions to be troubling. But it's better than the island's having become an offshore gambling haven.

Jim Hodges
Loomba-Loomba, Fairweather Mariner 39
Bainbridge Island / Mexico

Jim — Palmyra has had quite a history, from being named after the wreck of the USS Palmyra, to U.S. Navy operations there in World War II, to the Leo-Fullard family having to go to the Supreme Court to get it back from the U.S. government, to the infamous murders of San Diego cruisers Mac and Muff Graham, to the wacky Frenchman who used to manage the island for the Leo-Fullard family, to its current status.

With regard to Palmyra's current status, we weren't quite accurate in our mention last month. The atoll, which is just 4.6 square miles and located halfway between Hawaii and Samoa, is actually the only unincorporated territory of the United States, and is therefore subject to all the provisions of the Constitution. But since it's an unorganized territory, and there is no Act of Congress specifying how it should be run, the President of the United States has the authority to administer it as he sees fit.

The Nature Conservancy owns Cooper Island, the biggest of the atoll's islands and home to the World War II airfield, but nothing else. The rest of Palmyra is under the jurisdiction of the not-so-beloved US Fish & Wildlife Service, and is administered from Washington, D.C., by the Department of the Interior.

There are no permanent residents of the atoll, but there are research scientists in residence from time to time. Captains must get permission from the Nature Conservancy before they can anchor in the lagoon or come ashore.


Latitude's response to Ken Mumford and Cathy Kirby's December letter regarding the use of depthsounders in the presence of whales fails to acknowledge that fact that there are now two distinct families of orcas, a.k.a. killer whales.

These are the resident populations — an arbitrary name — and the transient populations. Although the physical differences between the two are very subtle, the behavior is very different.

The commonly observed orcas are the residents. They are highly vocal, curious creatures that readily approach boats. They eat fish almost exclusively. The transients are loners, who pass by quietly, avoid boats, and feed on marine mammals such as seals and otters.

Frank Taylor
San Diego

Frank — We're not whale experts, so we had no idea there were two different kinds of orcas. But according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are actually three types of orcas: The residents, who eat mostly fish and live in big extended families; the transients, who live mostly on marine mammals and live in small families; and the offshores, who feed on schooling fish and travel in groups of 20 to 200. God bless them all — as long as they don't ram our boat.



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