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May 2013

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When does the sign-up begin for this fall's Baja Ha-Ha Rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas?

Joseph Helfand
Jolin, Nonsuch 30

Joseph — You can sign up for this fall's milestone Baja Ha-Ha — it's going to be the 20th — online starting on May 1 when 'Lectronic Latitude is posted, usually around noon. Keep an eye out at or, after May 1, head straight on over to

While we're excited about this fall's rally, we have to caution everyone to be a little flexible with the starting date. Right now, our plan is to depart San Diego on Monday, October 28, with the Kick-Off Party at West Marine the day before. However, it's possible that the schedule for both events will have to be moved up one day.

The situation is that, while Mexico Tourism has promised to be far more supportive of the event than ever before — details once we can get confirmation — changes in Mexican immigration law, combined with a lack of facilities in Ensenada, are making things a little uncertain. In years past, it wasn't a problem for the Ha-Ha fleet to make stops at Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria before actually checking into Mexico at Cabo San Lucas. That is now against Mexican law, as you have to check in at a Port of Entry — Ensenada is the only POE north of Cabo — before you can make a stop anywhere along the coast of Mexico. So it's possible the Ha-Ha fleet will have to start a day early to allow everyone time to check into Mexico at Ensenada.

The problem with this is that the Port Captain, Customs and Immigration in Ensenada don't have the facilities or manpower to handle what would be an onslaught of Ha-Ha paperwork with any kind of dispatch. As a result, we're working on alternative solutions. Could Mexican officials come to San Diego so boats could check in ahead of time? Could 90% of the paperwork be done in advance so that it would take only 10 minutes per boat to check in if everyone absolutely had to stop in Ensenada? Could members of the Ha-Ha fleet be granted an exemption from the law and not clear in until Cabo, as before?

The answers aren't clear at this point, in part because it's hard to know who has authority in each of the Mexican departments and ultimate authority overall. We have some things in our favor, however. The participants in both the upcoming Ensenada Race and Little Ensenada Race face similar, but not identical, problems. Plus, we have excellent relations with Jorge Gamboa, director of the Mexico Tourism Board, as well as the mayor of Ensenada, who sees the Ha-Ha as very important for Baja and Mexico.

We hope to get definitive answers about the starting date and check-in procedures as soon as possible, but until we do, everyone is going to have to be flexible. Flexible means that we may depart on the 28th or we may depart on the 27th. The one thing we're going to make certain is that all boats should be able to arrive in Cabo by Friday, November 8 at the very latest, giving all crews time to have fun in Cabo but still get back to work by Monday, November 11.


I want to comment on the unfortunate timing of Sunsail’s decision to close their Sausalito base. Less than a year after it opened, they decided to pull the plug — with the America's Cup coming up and just as business was building. I’ve worked closely with Sunsail base manager Travis Lund over the past year, and have the highest regard for the work he did. I managed Club Nautique through the financial crisis of 2008-09, and came out on the other side with an intact fleet and a sailing school that was stronger than ever. From my experience, I think that Travis was doing all the right things. He kept his costs down, promoted the business at every opportunity, and was friendly and respectful to the people working for him. His hand-picked list of skippers represented some of the best sailors and sailing instructors on the Bay.

I can only speculate on Sunsail’s reasons for closing the Sausalito base after such a short time, but what frustrated and astonished so many of us who were involved with Sunsail was the failure at the corporate level to market the base effectively via the internet. Their web presence for the typical Google search was virtually nonexistent.

The eight new Beneteau F40s that Sunsail brought to the Bay last May were powerful high-performance racer/cruisers. They were fast, fun and physical — if a bit intimidating for novice sailors. Sunsail’s concept in bringing the boats to San Francisco was to charter them for teambuilding events and private racing campaigns, following their model in Port Solent, England. I liked both the concept and the boats, and, as one of their most active skippers, I had high hopes for what Sunsail could accomplish in the Bay Area. Everyone I know who came in contact with the boats was excited by them and the potential of the fleet.

It was with great disappointment that many of us received the news of Sunsail’s plans to leave the Bay Area. But there are still people who recognize the promise of the Sunsail fleet, so don’t be too surprised if a phoenix rises from the Sunsail ashes!

Jim Hancock
Former General Manager, Club Nautique
Sunsail Skipper / Solstice, Freya 39

Jim — We're also disappointed to see Sunsail close the San Francisco base. We don't know why management made that decision, but we assume that they weren't seeing the returns they needed on their considerable investment. You can read more about the closure and new offers by the company in World of Charter. But we'll pull for your phoenix.


A reader asked if an Olson 30 was a good boat for cruising on San Francisco Bay. In my opinion, the Olson 30 is a great boat for cruising the Bay.

I bought my Olson 30 Killer Rabbit new in the late '70s, and actively raced her in the one-design fleet for many years. I’m now in my 80s, and when I do get on the water, it's more than likely with older, inexperienced crew. Since I use the smaller storm sail sheeted to the cabin-top winches, there are few, if any, keel boats that are easier to sail. With the storm sail rigged to the cabin-top, the jib sheets are very accessible in the center of the boat. And flying a very small jib means it can be trimmed quickly and easily by inexperienced or unathletic crew. With a main and even a storm jib, the Olson 30 is very easy to sail in light or very heavy wind.

The publisher wrote that if you singlehand an Olson 30 up The Slot when it's blowing, you will get trashed. With a small enough headsail, I don't think you'll get trashed on an Olson in any condition.

With the Olson's sails properly set, the tiller can be controlled with very little effort. Although it was in the distant past, I singlehanded Killer Rabbit home from Tinsley Island — about 70 miles, mostly upwind — several times. To make it easy to drive, I simply tied a bungee cord to the tiller, attaching the free end to each side. This enabled me to relax in the cockpit for extended periods, change sails, or tack her effortlessly.

I hate to motor and love the fact that the Olson 30 will move through the water in only a few knots of wind. As a result, I don't think I've used more than 10 gallons of gas in the 30+ years I've owned my boat.

The cockpit of the Olson 30 is the most comfortable of any boat I have sailed on. It's due to the angle and height of the backrest and the distance from the opposing seat walls. The absence of headroom in the cabin has never been a problem for me, since I never go below while sailing on a boat of any size. The Olson is a comfortable boat to sleep on alone — or with a partner.

When I initially was looking for a boat to buy, I heard that the Olson 30 was too light and therefore didn't sail to weather worth a damn. While I was discussing this concern with someone, an owner of an Olson 30 happened to overhear me. Based on Don Keenan's letter in the February issue, I think it was him. My recollection of the conversation that took place 30-plus years ago — with a Santa Cruz sailor I didn't know and never saw again — was that he had sailed his Olson 30 to Hawaii in the Singlehanded TransPac, and after crossing the finish line, reversed course without having set foot on shore, and sailed all the way back to California. Without a motor.

This sailor rhapsodized about the windward ability of the Olson during this return trip. I recall his saying the size of the boat and performance seemed in perfect harmony with the waves, and the delivery had been an extremely enjoyable experience. I bought my Olson as a result of that unsolicited endorsement.

When I raced my Olson, the boat had a PHRF rating of 96, and usually was the first start in the one-design racing fleets. With a full crew and a spinnaker, the Olsons really scream in strong winds. In fact, on a reach in flat seas they are capable of planing in excess of 20 knots. I did this about three times with my boat, and it was a thrilling experience. That said, you need an experienced crew to race an Olson 30, and certainly when carrying a chute in strong winds.

Numerous Olson 30s have raced to Hawaii, and several times Olsons were the first boats to finish. What a terrific, seaworthy and fun boat!

Bill Coverdale
Killer Rabbit, Olson 30
San Francisco Bay

William — Your report brought back fond memories of racing against you in Olsons many years ago. We probably got trashed singlehanding in The Slot because we always tried to fly too big a headsail. We're re-learning that when singlehanding, a tiny bit of headsail is all that you need in even moderate winds.

The only point on which we'd have to disagree with you is the viability of sleeping on the Olson. We destroyed a disc in our back from bending over so much while cruising one of our previous Olsons in the Sea of Cortez. And while we've found the quarter berths to be comfortable, we've also found them very difficult to get into and out of. Of course, we're 6'4".

One of the great things about having the Olson La Gamelle in the Caribbean is how much attention she attracts. A few Sundays ago we singlehanded La Gamelle at high speed to, through and around the packed Columbie anchorage at St. Barth, and the captains and crews of all the glitzy big boats hooted and hollered. As we whizzed by one big fellow enjoying a cocktail while floating in an inner tube, he gave the boat an appreciative glance and asked what she was. The fellow was Sir Bobby Velasquez, owner of Bobby's Marina for about a zillion years, and a nearly unbeatable sailor with his Beneteau First 45f5 L'Esperance. We wish George Olson could have been there to bask in the appreciation.

But less than 10 gallons of gas in more than 30 years of sailing? If that's not Zen sailing, we don't know what is. Please send us your address so we can send you a Zen Sailing Federation T-shirt.


Like Latitude, 'we go where the wind blows' — and where Latitudes are very much in demand. Keep up the good work, Latitude, because you have worldwide readership.

With 11 cruises on Royal Clippers under our belt, the officers and crew now know when a stack of Latitudes is coming their way. They treat us royally as a reward for bringing them. We're sending this from aboard the Royal Clipper in the Windward Islands of the Caribbean.

Hans Roeben & Sally Huse
Helgoland, Baba 35
Corinthian YC, Tiburon

Hans and Sally — Thanks for the kind words and for helping distribute Latitude.

In 2006, Tom Perkins invited us to the launching of his 289-ft Maltese Falcon at Portovenere, Italy. Our table companions at the launch dinner included an interesting Swedish couple. At one time they had owned a small shipping company, but the man's dream had always been to design, build and operate large clipper ships. So when they sold the shipping company, they went all in, with him designing the first of several Royal Clipper ships. And he designed everything, including all the plumbing and the entire electrical system. No wonder he looked a little tired.

While Perkins was still trying to decide whether to build Falcon, with her unique and unproven Dyna-Rig, he spotted the clipper at Antibes or some other port in the South of France. Noticing that the vessel had automated sail trim, he asked permission to come aboard. He was welcomed, and the owner/designer, who just happened to be aboard, was happy to go through the automated sail setting, trimming and striking process for him. The two dynamic men naturally became good friends.

The Swedish couple — we're sorry we can't recall their names — went on to build four or five more clipper ships, which as you know are operating in the Med, the Caribbean and the Far East.

We remember asking the man's wife if she was involved in the company. "Oh, yes," she replied, "I'm often on our vessels, and I know the names of every one of the crewmembers." No wonder the company has been so successful. We also asked her what kind of occupancy their clipper ships had. She briefly seemed a little insulted before replying, "Every cruise is sold out."


I was heartened to read that someone — Deyess Payne of Santa Cruz — has rescued the Marples 55 catamaran Crystal Blue Persuasion from what seemed to be imminent demise. When she was in her homeport of Charleston, Oregon, a number of years ago, I used to lust after her every weekend as I walked the docks looking for a sailboat to buy. Eventually she sailed south and had some adventures and misadventures. She was later brought back to Santa Cruz in pretty bad shape and left on a mooring to pretty much fend for herself.

CBP was built by Brian Skallerud of Skallerud Marine using nothing but the best materials and techniques. Her fit and finish reflected the high standards Brian adheres to when building all his boats. It took a crew of five 16 months to build the 55-ft cat out of five layers of four-mil akume plywood using epoxy/vacuum bag technique. Her hulls were finished off with two layers of glass and a beautiful Awlgrip paint job. Her rudders were a combination of stainless steel and high-density foam. During the construction, Brian worked with John Marples to make some aesthetic changes to the stern and house windows. She was launched in April, 2001.

Had CBP not been built so well, I fear that she would not have survived the time she broke free of her mooring and went onto the beach at Capitola.

Anyway, I thought Latitude readers and the cat's new owner might appreciate the accompanying photo of CBP during her construction and launching. By the way, I recently talked with Brian, and he said he would be happy to help the young man who purchased the boat with design and repair advice. He can be reached at .

Monty Beed
Sarrina, Ericson 35 Mk II
Charleston, Oregon

Monty — Thanks for the photo. Owners Larry and Gary Burgin sailed CBP in the 2008 Ha-Ha, then Gary continued on with her to the Caribbean side of Mexico, where he had been led to believe he could start a lucrative charter business. He had been misled, and the already underfinanced endeavor continued to go downhill.

Gary and the cat did make it back to Santa Cruz, but by that time the boat needed a lot of help that, for whatever reasons, Gary was unable to give her. CBP's engines were neglected and in bad shape, and her rudders were badly damaged when she went onto the beach. It's a sad story, as we always thought she was a fine-looking cat, and the Burgin family had a long and proud sailing history.

Deyess told us he was able to buy CBP 'where is, as is' for just $5,000. We're not sure he has the big bucks to make a complete restoration quickly, but we're hoping he can at least do it over time. And we're glad to hear that her builder is happy to share knowledgeable advice.


I've seen lots of discussion in Latitude about anchors, chain, scope and so forth, but I haven't read about what happened to us while pulling up our anchor at Anegada in the British Virgins. Our 3/8-inch chain broke!

At the end of our chain, buried in sand, was a 121-lb (!)Rocna anchor that didn't budge under whatever force it took to part the chain. Fortunately, we had put a buoy on our anchor to keep others from dropping onto our tackle in the crowded anchorage, so recovering our beloved Rocna was no problem.

The chain break happened as we were raising the anchor in 8.5 feet of water. We motored forward and had brought in all but about 25 feet of the chain. While we were picking up the buoy with a boat hook, Moonshadow drifted back on the slack chain in a gust. The wind was blowing 20 with gusts to 25. The combination of the short scope, sharp impact, unyielding anchor and 14-year-old chain was evidently what was needed for one link to fail. (The chain has been well-used. In the last year alone, Moonshadow spent 190 nights on the hook.)

The weak link, about eight feet from the anchor, parted at the weld. There was some discoloration at the weld, which may have suggested corrosion within the weld. Sorry I can't give any particulars on the chain manufacturer, as there were no markings. It had been put on the boat in New Zealand many years ago.

Despite the fact that we still have almost all our chain, I suppose we'll be getting new chain.

John & Deb Rogers
Moonshadow, Deerfoot 2-62
San Diego / Caribbean

John and Deb — As we recall, some anchor chains broke in the storm of '82 in Cabo San Lucas, initiating a chain reaction — pardon the pun — that put a lot of boats onto the beach. But other than that, we can't remember any other instances.

The thing that is disconcerting to us is that, unlike some of the rusty chain we've used on our boats over the years, your chain looks — at least on the surface — to be in excellent condition.

How long is anchor chain good? Certainly it's going to depend on what kind of chain you buy, as the quality varies tremendously. But we don't have any idea, and didn't find much guidance on the internet. Indeed, one poster recommended stainless chain as being the longest lasting. But at the terrific Ship Chandlery in St. Barth, there is a big sign in the stainless chain bin warning that the chain is not for overnight anchoring.

Can we get some informed answers on this question?


I read with interest the letters in the April issue on anchoring techniques. I agree that anchor size and scope are very important, but the letter writers forgot one aspect — luck. Or the lack of it. I have two examples.

A tropical depression came through once while we were anchored in Pago Pago Harbor. Although we stayed put, many other boats dragged. When I tried to raise our anchor, I discovered that it was hooked on a one-inch steel cable. It took some time to bring the anchor to the surface and free it. In this case, the size and type of anchor, and the amount of scope, weren't really factors. It was the cable that kept us in place.

The second time we were anchored off Hawaii in February, and the forecast called for a Kona storm. I put out our storm anchor with plenty of scope. It held for awhile, but then the wind started blowing in earnest. The wind, combined with the chop that developed, caused us to drag. I quickly deployed our second anchor, a 66-lb Bruce with 3/8-inch chain. That stopped the dragging. Or so I thought. The next day, when the winds had subsided, I raised my main anchor to find out that it was badly fouled on an engine block encased in concrete.

The lesson we learned is that the only safe way to anchor is to keep a good watch when it starts to blow.

Julius Hanak
Emerald Steel, 38-ft Spray
San Diego


I've followed the comments and suggestions on anchoring in recent Latitudes. As a singlehander who enjoys anchoring in the more isolated spots, I'd like to offer my insight into what has worked for me, and what might be applicable for other sailors.

There are endless combinations of anchors, rodes, seabeds, boats, wind and sea conditions. Arcturus carries four anchors and rodes, three of which are rigged. None of them is oversized, as that would reduce the room I have for wine.

While some skippers seem to get away with almost any choice of gear and very little effort — anchoring roulette? — I believe that applying a back-down load is an essential step that is often ignored. If the force applied by my boat in reverse exceeds that night's expected blow, I can sleep well. Occasionally skipping that step, or more commonly "not reefing when blah, blah, blah," allows me to retest my strength, endurance, vocabulary and, sometimes, night vision.

Paul J. Wall
Arcturus, Endeavour 32
Huntington Beach

Paul — That's a great reminder, as failure to back down — and pretty hard — is perhaps the leading cause of dragging. In the Caribbean, home to thousands of bareboat charters, it's not uncommon to see anchors deployed while the boat is still moving forward at three to four knots. If the captain and crew are really good, they get the dinghy in the water and take off to the nearest watering hole before the wind has a chance to blow the boat to leeward to see if the anchor is holding.


I have to say that I've found the official America's Cup website to be about as useless as they come. I couldn't find any of the info I wanted about tickets to the venues I wanted. Who designed that thing?

Thanks to Latitude for coming to the rescue and keeping us out-of-towners up to date on what was going on sale when. We are now proud owners — well, buyers — of pre-sale tickets to the first two days of the Cup proper. We can't wait!

Bass Sears
Hailey, Idaho

Bass — We're glad we could be of assistance.

We're a little alarmed that a 'season ticket' for the entire event can cost $999 — ouch! — although it's claimed that one-third of them have already been sold. There had better be plenty of places to watch the racing for free — standing is fine — or we're going to have a philosophical problem with this.


My wife and I are cruisers on Witte Raaf, our 46-ft sailboat. We left The Netherlands seven years ago, crossed the Atlantic to the Caribbean, then continued on to Alaska via the Panama Canal, Mexico and Hawaii. We fell in love with Alaska, so we spent two summers there, returning to Bellingham, Washington for the winters.

This summer we will explore British Columbia, and at the end of summer sail to San Francisco. We would very much like to spend four to five months — October to February? — in the Bay Area, and are looking for a berth to rent. Can you or anybody give us advice or help us get a berth?

Jan & Joanneke Buurma
Witte Raaf, 46-ft sloop
The Netherlands

Jan and Joanneke — Thanks to the America's Cup, there is going to be a big demand for slips on San Francisco Bay this summer. But you're in luck because the Cup racing ends in September, which is before you plan to get here. Plus, October is the time of year when many San Francisco Bay boats take off for the tropical waters of Mexico. That being the case, we don't think you'll have any trouble getting a berth.

You might not get a slip in San Francisco proper for a month at a time, but surely you'll be able to find one in Marin or in the East Bay, both of which have great transportation options to San Francisco. Like wine? October would be a great time to take a slip up the Napa River and do some day trips to the wine country.

How to find marinas with slips available? The pages of Latitude 38 have great ads.


I’ve been following your debate with Tony Badger about the relative danger of long-period swells with interest and amusement. In your April issue response, you left it at “we’ll leave it to the readers to decide who they think is right.”

I, for one, think you both make valid points, but overall, I have to side with Mr. Badger. I think you actually agree on the key points: 1) Long-period swells are technically more powerful (i.e., have more energy) than shorter-period swells of the same height, but 2) in deep water, long-period swells are much safer and more comfortable (and in fact, may barely be felt).

The recent letters I read — from Tony Badger in December and Pat Nance in February — never said anything about its being safer and more comfortable to sail in 8-ft waves at 8 seconds vs. 16 seconds. Both these writers referred to the danger of long-period swells in shoaling water, such as the Farallon Bank.

When approaching shore, long-period swells break at a greater depth than short-period swells of the same height (and they approach more quickly). For this reason, it does seem worth warning mariners that if there is an extremely long-period swell, they should stay farther from shallow water (e.g., farther from the Farallon Islands or the Potato Patch) than they would under 'normal' (shorter wave period) conditions.

I also agree with Mr. Badger that an article on waves — with input from a physical oceanographer — would be interesting. For example, some oceanographer should be able to tell us under what combination of wave height and wave period the Potato Patch or South Bar will break.

The debate about 'sneaker waves' seems like mostly a matter of semantics. My impression is that the NWS is using this term — which I’ve noticed myself in weather forecasts — to refer to the fact that with long-period swells — which are generated far away — the wave trains are more likely to separate out into groups with significant lulls between. It would be good to have an oceanographer confirm that as well. Thus beachgoers, or mariners close to shore, might mistakenly believe the waves aren’t very big (during the lulls), only to be taken by surprise when a big set comes in. It seems that this is a good thing for the NWS to warn the public about, and 'sneaker waves' seems to be a term that the public can easily understand.

Although I think you’ve been coming across as unreasonably stubborn in this discussion, I wouldn’t have followed the debate if I didn’t read Latitude every month, which I do because it is such a great magazine. Keep up the good work!

Laird Henkel

Laird — Thanks for the kind words. This lamentable brouhaha started when a reader asked when it would be the safest and most comfortable to sail outside the Gate. As we recall, we wrote that the safest conditions were when there were long-period swells, the swells weren't too big, and the wind wasn't too strong, and there wasn't too much wind against the tide. Sorry if we come across as stubborn, but that's what we've always believed in, and what we continue to believe in.

Alas, the narrative somehow turned from sailing in general into a shoal water-only issue, and some people seeming to think we're responsible for the deaths of people who drown chasing their poodles into big surf.

We sail under the premise that in order to be safe, you must stay in water deep enough so that it doesn't make any difference how big the swell is or how long or short the periods of the waves are. If you're in deep enough water, you don't have to worry about either of those things. And frankly, we find it easier to determine the depth of the water than to try to calculate the danger presented by some combination of swell size and direction/wind wave size and direction/wave period/ebb and other factors. To our way of thinking, deep water, and plenty of it, is the simple and safe solution.

How deep is deep enough? All-universe navigator Stan Honey says the minimum for him is 2.5 times the sum of the maximum forecast swell and wind wave heights. If there's a 10-foot swell running and three feet of wind waves, he wants to be in more than 30 feet of water — which means he doesn't want to be on the Potato Patch or the South Bar. Sounds good to us. And we presume that he would factor in a greater margin of error if there were a significant ebb. The US Sailing investigating committee for the Low Speed Chase tragedy cited another commonly used rule of thumb for minimum depth, which is to multiply the deep-water significant wave height by three. Or four for a greater margin of error. In the case of a 10-ft swell, that's 30 to 40 feet. That's another rule of thumb we believe we can live with.

However, even if you're in deep water, some of the things that can make you miserable, injure you, and break your boat are — who would have thought? — short-period waves. You know, flying off the top of 'eight by eights' that have no backs, breaking human and boat ribs, destroying blocks, snapping sheets, and dropping masts. And if that's not good enough for you, try getting violently thrown head first from one side of the salon to the other in a short-period beam swell.

So as we said, if you or anyone else prefers to sail in short-period swells, be our guest. But our choice will always be adequately deep water, and the longer the period of the swell, the better.

(See this month's Cruise Notes for reports on two boats that were wrecked as a result of being in shallow water, killing some crewmembers and some rescue personnel.)

If the National Weather Service wants to warn people about big waves by giving them a special name besides 'bigger than normal waves', we think they can do better than 'sneaker waves'. After all, 'sneak' has sort of a fun connotation and makes such waves sound like attractive nuisances. We suggest 'killer waves' or 'death waves'.

This thread is closed until July 2015.


I dug your coverage of the theft and beaching of the Oyster 82 Darling, but I have a serious course correction for you. The three perpetrators were not "partying" aboard Darling all day, Sunday, March 3. Far from it. At about 3:30 p.m. that afternoon I spoke to the one who looked like a pirate. I believe the Sausalito Police have phone/video footage to back me up.

Anyway, the one I believe to be Les — not the one "with the bionic leg" — met me on the ramp to Pelican Yacht Harbor, and asked me if I knew where Slip 52 was. I explained that there are two docks at Pelican, the A Dock and the B Dock, so the slips are numbered A34, B25, and so forth. When I asked about the kind of boat he was looking for and who the owner was, he got all vague and evasive. He said his friend with the bionic leg knew the boat, but was waiting in the truck because he didn't want to "stump around" looking for the slip.

There's more detail that I won't go into, but those clowns certainly weren't partying aboard Darling as of 4-4:30 on Sunday afternoon. Quite the contrary, they were searching for a specific slip in a different marina.

Jim Nisbet
Argo, H-28

Jim — According to prosecutors, the Darling theft was the case of one mastermind and two innocent but seemingly not-very-bright acquaintances. We're not sure we believe that. We're not sure the authorities believe it either, but what they believe and what they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury are probably two different things.


Thefts of and from recreational boats and other vessels don't seem limited to any particular locale. It's dangerous up here in the Northwest, too.

In the April 11 Olympian, reporter John Dodge wrote that the steering wheel from the 100-year-old tall ship Adventuress had been stolen last October while she was docked at Percival Landing in Olympia. The schooner has long taken students and the general public out on sailing trips, serving as a floating environmental classroom.

Sound Experience, the non-profit group that owns and operates the Adventuress, found a replacement in a nautical antique store in Seattle. Roger Ottenbach, the store's owner, loaned the non-profit the wheel, and agreed to sell it to them at cost — $900 — if the original wheel couldn't be found.

Despite a search by divers, the original wheel was never found, at which point Olympia-area Rotary Clubs took over. One member had a machine shop, and took care of re-machining the wheel's hub so it would fit. That meant only one public sailing event was missed. Other Rotary Club members conducted an information fundraising drive to pay for the wheel.

Rob Murray
Vancouver, B.C.


In reading the April 3 'Lectronic report on the St. Barth Bucket and the five J Class yachts that participated, I find it hard to accept the idea that the original Rainbow and Ranger have survived. Might the participating boats be replicas? Since the 1950s, my impression has been that they — along with Shamrock, Endeavour and other J Class yachts — were scrapped for World War II. What's the story?

By the way, while in the Bay of Naples, Italy, in 1956, Lowell North and I noticed a large sloop about a mile away and thought that she might be an M Boat such as Patolita or Windward, the largest sloops that we knew were still afloat. We headed over to find out, and the mystery boat turned out to be a J Class boat owned by a Brazilian and based in the Med. Is it fair to say that she was about 50% longer and taller than any other boat that existed at the time?

Jim Hill
Palo Alto / Sayulita

Jim — It is confusing, as some of today's J Class yachts are originals, some are replicas, and some are new builds to old designs that had never been used.

Between 1930 and 1937, a total of 10 J Class yachts were built, six here in the United States and four in Great Britain. Three of those 10 — Shamrock V, Endeavour and Velsheda — survived and are being sailed and raced today. All of the survivors were Brit boats designed by Charles Nicholson.

Three other boats that had been built to the International Rule 23mR also raced in J Class regattas or were converted to J Class boats. Three of these — Astra, Cambria and Candida — survived and sail today. We remember seeing Cambria sail in the 2005 St. Barth Bucket.

John Williams' 2004 launch of a replica of Ranger, with help from Reichel/Pugh and John Elliot, revived the J Class. The next new build was Jim Clark's Hanuman in 2009, a replica of Endeavour II with help from Gerard Dijkstra. A year later, Harold Goddijn launched Lionheart, a Starling Burgess and Olin Stephens design refined by Andre Hoek. Last year saw the launch of Rainbow by Chris Congriep. The original design had been done by Burgess, but was updated by Dijkstra.

There are three J Class yachts currently in build. One is Atlantis, a Frank Cabot Paine design being updated by Hoek. Another is Cheveyo, a Burgess and Stephens design that is being redone by Sparkman & Stephens. And finally, there is Brittania, a George Leonard Watson design being tweaked by Steffano Fagrioni for Sigurd Coates.

J Class boats differ significantly in overall length, waterline length and displacement. As a result, they don't have the same rating, so the first J that crossed the finish line in St. Barth wasn't necessarily the winner. But they rate pretty close to each other, so the racing was spectacular.

There were bigger boats than J Class yachts that survived World War II. For example, the 181-ft schooner Adela, which was built in 1918 and also raced in this year's Bucket. We're told that Hanuman and Adela will both be at least stopping at San Francisco Bay this summer.


I want to make sure Latitude readers are aware of our upcoming opening of 'Impressionists on the Water' at the Legion of Honor Museum, June 1-October 13, which coincides with this summer’s America’s Cup on San Francisco Bay. The exhibition celebrates the French Impressionists’ fascination with recreational and competitive sailing, and offers numerous models — some life-sized — in addition to fantastic paintings and detailed works on paper that illustrate the artistry and technicality of boating and nautical navigation.

To be located in the Legion of Honor’s landmark building overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge, the 'Impressionists on the Water' exhibit will obviously be a lovely complement to the America’s Cup experience.
Clara Hatcher

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
de Young | Legion of Honor

Clara — We think the exhibit is a smashing idea, and can't wait to see it. Monet's Boats at Rest at Petit-Gennevilliers is one of our favorites.


I'm not a big believer in rules, but sometimes they are useful. After being robbed while at anchor at Caleta del Campo, Mexico, earlier this year, Judy and I are now trying to adhere to the following rules every time we find ourselves in an anchorage with a limited number of other cruising boats:

1) During the day, we find a low-power channel — 13, 15, 17, 67, 77 — that is not used in the area. Some of these channels have restrictions on their use or are used by ports, but if in an isolated area, it shouldn't be a problem to find one that isn't used. The idea is to find a channel that has no traffic at night, then have all the boats in the anchorage use it exclusively as a distress or safety channel. If nobody else is using it, we can leave the radio on and not get woken up all the time by non-emergencies. We use low-power to lessen the chances that we will pick up more distant traffic on the channel.

2) When going to bed, we switch to the agreed channel and increase the volume to a level that will wake us up.

3) When we get up in the morning, we switch back to whatever channel is used locally as a hailing channel.

4) We do not use the 'security channel' for anything but safety/distress calls amongst our group. If we want to see if another boat is awake, we call on the hailing channel, not the temporary security channel. This is important, because the idea is any noise on the security channel is an emergency call. If people use it to see if the coffee is ready next door, they will wake up others and defeat the purpose.

So far this idea has met with virtually universal acceptance when we have suggested it to other boats in anchorages with us. It's certainly no assurance of absolute safety, but it does mean others can be made aware of a problem immediately. When we were robbed in Caleta de Campo, two of the other four boats in the anchorage had their radios off, and did not know about the robbery until the morning. If the robbers had decided to hit another boat, there was no way we could have warned them, or gotten medical or other assistance if we had needed it.

How are we coping with the fact that we were robbed while at anchor? We've convinced the Grand Poobah to let us be entry #1 in this fall's Ha-Ha.

Bill Lilly & Judy Lang
Moontide, Lagoon 470
Chacala, Mexico

Bill and Judy — We think your idea is a good one. We also suggest having a big "Go ahead and make my day!" flare gun or two handy but out of sight. Not only can it help warn nearby boats of potential danger if you've been robbed, but in some cases it could be waved around preemptively to discourage an uninvited boarding. We know you had one and it didn't help other boats the night you were robbed, but we think several flares might do the trick.


I hadn't been to the British Virgins in about 10 years, but just got back from a bareboat charter. The sailing was as good as ever, although it seems as if there are nearly twice as many bareboats as before. They were everywhere!

But the thing that surprised me the most is how much bigger today's bareboats are than they were 10 years ago. The monohulls are a lot bigger, mainly because the wider-than-ever beam is being carried almost to the transom. But it's nothing like the increase in volume of the interior and exterior of the catamarans. Most of the new cats, even ones as small as 40 feet in length, have some sort of upper steering station. But they are boxy, with none being more boxy than the Lagoons. I can't say that I like the look of the exteriors, but lordy are they comfortable when at anchor!

A feature common on the new cats is hardtops. The whole cockpit is covered with a hardtop rather than a soft bimini, both for protection from the sun, and also so there are places for people to sit on the 'second story'. While it might be a bit of an illusion, the covering makes the cockpits seem even larger than if they were uncovered.

Another apparent recent innovation is forward cockpits. The woman at the charter base told me they were added to the Leopards, Lagoons and some other brands because the combination of the afternoon sun and the easterly trades in the Caribbean meant that all the charter guests were getting burned to a crisp by the late afternoon tropical sun. Some of the Leopards even have hard 'sunscreens' over the forward cockpits, sort of like those found on cars in the '50s. I can't imagine they are very aerodynamic. Indeed, none of these charter cats seemed to be rocketships. Not that any of the charterers seemed to care.

As much as boats have changed, the constant trades, the warm and clear water, and the friendly people are as I remember them from before. The only thing I don't like about the Caribbean is that it's so far away from the West Coast. It makes me wonder why The Moorings or some other big charter outfit doesn't have a base in Banderas Bay, Mexico. La Paz is nice enough, but Banderas Bay seems like the ideal place for one-week charters.

Neil West
Carson City, NV

Neil — You're absolutely correct; today's charter boats are so much bigger for the same length. All you have to do is compare a 40-ft monohull from the early 1980s with a modern 40-ft monohull. What a difference!

We've never understood the obstacle to bareboat charter fleets operating on Banderas Bay. After all, they've had charter fleets in La Paz for years. The ideal situation would be to have the fleet in Banderas Bay for the winter and then move it to La Paz for the summer. For selfish reasons, we don't mind that Mexico doesn't have big bareboat charter fleets.


What a lucky dog you are to be able to sail the Caribbean for three months a year! I wish I could be you. But why do you seem to spend all your time in St. Barth?

Paul Smith

Paul — It's not quite as glamorous as it seems. Our typical day is as follows: Dinghy the half-mile or so to shore at 8 a.m. After a shower, pain au chocolat, and coffee, we're in our office — an old tattoo parlor with no windows — by 9 a.m. We work really hard until about 1:30 p.m. We take a half-hour to an hour break for lunch, then it's back to the office until about 4:30 p.m for a half-hour break. We're back in the office from 5 p.m until just before it closes at 7:30 p.m. We have a cold beer either while watching Sports Center at Oubli or with friends at Le Select. We dine out on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Most nights we get back to the boat between 9 and 11 p.m. When we get back to the boat, we crash immediately. That's our routine about 60% of the time, and includes Saturdays and Sundays just before deadline. We do get more time right after deadline and early in the cycle, but not that much.

Our goal has been to sail La Gamelle around the island 10 times in the three months we're here. After getting everything set up, we got off to a good start, with two circumnavigations in three days. Thanks to the Bucket, the Voiles, deadlines, having to go to St. Martin to buy batteries and fuel, having to make boat repairs, computer screw-ups and internet interruptions, and too much wind, we haven't been around again since. Thus we've got our work cut out for us to achieve our goal.

There are other fine islands in the Caribbean, but the truth of the matter is that all the great boats, and most of the great sailors, come to St. Barth. So it's more efficient to let them come to us rather than try to chase them all over the Caribbean. Then, too, we've already been to the BVIs, St, Martin (several times), and St. Kitts. Plus we've been to all the other islands a number of times over the years. None are as clean, safe or exciting as little St. Barth.

The other influence is that we've had many great friends on St. Barth for years, so it's like a home to us. Plus, St. Barth has more unusual flowers, if you know what we mean, than anywhere we've been before. Nonetheless, if we didn't have to work, we'd love to head down-island and hang out in places like Grenada for a couple of months.


I saw the April 12 'Lectronic story about Abhilash Tomy's being the first Indian — East Indian — to circumnavigate. If memory serves, Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo and nonstop around the world, built his Atkins 32-ft ketch Suhaili in India while serving in the British Army. The Indian skipper says he had been dreaming about circumnavigating for 14 years. I wonder if Suhaili played any part in his dreams.

Tim Schaff
Jetstream, Leopard 45
Road Town, Tortola

Tim — We have no idea. Knox-Johnston actually served in the Merchant Navy and Royal Navy Reserve, not the Army. After finishing Suhaili, he suggested that his wife and daughter join him for the passage from Bombay to England. His wife was so underwhelmed by the suggestion that she left him. But they were remarried several years later and had more children and many grandchildren.

When he got back to England, Knox-Johnston decided to enter the Sunday Times Golden Globe Singlehanded Around the World Race. He was the only one of nine entrants to finish, as Bernard Moitessier famously decided to drop out to follow his bliss. Knox-Johnston donated his prize money to the family of competitor Donald Crowhurst, who had apparently committed suicide during the race. Knox-Johnston has continued to be a relentless adventurer, doing another solo circumnavigation in his late 60s.

Abhilash Tomy is a Lieutenant Commander in the Indian Navy, and he completed his circumnavigation in 156 days, which is exactly half the number of days Knox-Johnston took. Tomy finished just two days after Guo Chuan, the first Chinese citizen to complete a solo circumnavigation. We expect more Asians in their wakes.


I know what would bring more interest to the America's Cup. Gambling.

I don't like casinos, and those Indian casinos in particular. If you're going to gamble, I say go to Vegas and do it right. Better still, if I could afford it, I'd go to Macau.

But I think casino games are a drag. Blackjack, poker, roulette, craps — what a snore. If you're going to gamble, I think gambling on sports is the most fun, because you get to use your brain a little. Since I'm a sailor, I want to be able to gamble on the America's Cup. What are the odds of being able to gamble on the Cup, and what are the odds on the various teams?

Sausalito Slim

Slim — The odds that you'll be able to gamble on the Cup are good. There are several internet sites based in England that list the America's Cup as an event that can be bet on, although no odds have been posted yet. However, it's illegal for Americans to gamble online, so you might have to go overseas and use an assumed name. Frankly, we think it would be the most fun if there were a 'Gambler's Area' set aside for degenerates at the America's Cup Village.

As for the odds, most experts seem to favor the Kiwis, although in order to get into the Finals they may have to build a boat more suited to the stronger winds of July and August. Oracle, meanwhile, can concentrate on a boat that will excel in the slightly lighter conditions expected for the Cup itself in September.

We're picking Oracle to retain the Cup, primarily on the basis of Jimmy Spithill's being a guy who can get the job done. But we're not betting the ranch, because we don't own a ranch.

Anybody remember the year a gambling outfit in Costa Rica promoted gambling on the TransPac? Talk about an event that would be easy to throw. Does anybody know anybody who made a bet on it?


I read the April 19 'Lectronic piece about the SC70 Hotel California in the Caribbean. I think it's nice that the current owner has not changed the boat's name.

After years of crewing for me and others, my old sailing pal John Wintersteen got a SC40 for the 1983 — I think — TransPac. Then he bought a new SC70 and named her Hotel California. It was while he and his crew were doing MOB drills for another TransPac that he dropped dead at the wheel. If a sailor has to go, what better way?

John was a great guy, and seeing the boat name again reminded me of him. He was part of the funniest and best crew there ever was.

Mike Kennedy, Sr.
Los Angeles

Mike — Even though there were only something like 22 SC70s built, two of them were named Hotel California. First there was Wintersteen's, and then there was Steve Schmidt's cruising version, the only one of those ever made, named Hotel California, Too. We've got a Changes on Hotel California, Too, in this issue.


A sunny day on the water can turn deadly in seconds. California ranks #2 in the nation for boating accidents and fatalities, with boating mishaps causing more than 50 deaths in the state in 2011 alone. Chances of survival in the water go down drastically with decreasing water temperatures, especially if you aren't wearing a lifejacket.

We’re hoping to increase PFD safety awareness, as approximately 84 percent of drowning victims in recreational boating accidents were not wearing a lifejacket. That according to the U.S. Coast Guard 2011 Recreational Boating Safety Statistics.

The North American Safe Boating Campaign — simply known as "Wear It!" — is a year-long effort in the U.S. and Canada focused on spreading the message of boating safety and the critical importance of consistent PFD use. The National Safe Boating Council is a leading partner of the campaign.

Dan Hedman
Paul Werth Associates

Readers — Latitude 38 encourages everyone to wear PFDs when on boats or whenever at risk of falling into the water.


Nice story in the April issue about really good ideas on making the fiberglass cave more homey. I recently tore out the dirty old headliner and painted, then I switched over to new LED lights. My girlfriend took over the projects of the bedding, the head and setting up the galley. We will be ready for the season.

Greg Clausen
Wisdom, Santana 3030

Greg — If it weren't so great we wouldn't keep saying it, but the 16-ft 12-volt LED strip lights for $15, and the $5 dimmers for them, have been brilliant on 'ti Profligate, completely transforming the ambience of the salon. The outdoor version of the lights has done the same for the cockpit. We got ours through Amazon. And we hear that Latitude Editor LaDonna Bubak followed our lead on her boat and is equally thrilled.


I have a thought concerning what's supposed to be 'cruiser friendly' racing in the Banderas Bay Regatta. I think the Notice of Race for any future BBRs and similar events should include the following line: "Any — ANY — contact between racing boats will result in the disqualification of both boats." After all, we're supposed to be having fun out there. Alternatively, maybe they should just drop the Class A fleet altogether and keep it a cruisers' race. You know, a 'race your home' regatta.

Just my two cents' worth. Thanks for the coverage.

Capt. Debbie Orlando
Puerto Vallarta

Capt. Debbie — We understand your sentiment, but don't think your first suggestion is a viable solution. After all, it means that a cautious, safety-first, rule-abiding sailor whose boat got hit by a reckless, drunken, incompetent fool could be disqualified. That wouldn't be right.

We think your second suggestion, chuck Class A — where most of the boats aren't cruising boats — is more reasonable.


It's too bad our government can't be run with the efficiency with which the Banderas Bay Regatta Protest Committee handled the dispute between Camelot and Blue. And nice work, Latitude, for making the process and results available to your readers. It's the first time I've ever witnessed how a protest is handled, and I found it to be impressive and educational.

Herb Clark
Hotel Charlie, Catalina 25
Chico YC

Herb — A summary of that process can be found in this month's Latitude, while the entire report can be found in the April 1 'Lectronic.

If everybody in the judging process had been pulling down $400/hour, we don't think it would have been so efficient. Government, including the judicial system, is inefficient because it's so lucrative for those involved. Judge Judy for Swift Chief Justice!


The incident involving Blue and Camelot at the Banderas Bay Regatta, which resulted in both of Blue tactician Mike Danielson's legs being broken, is exactly why I rarely participate in racing events, even those billed as 'cruising races.'

I know enough about the incident and the players involved to have a strong opinion about who was in the right, but that's not the issue I wish to address. It's not that I don't enjoy racing. I was bowman on a couple of the top Schock 35s during their heyday, and then graduated to the Santa Cruz 70s before deciding I wanted to be a cruiser.

I was sorely tempted to participate in this year's Banderas Bay Regatta, but I hadn't been happy with the changes to December's Banderas Bay Blast, also billed as a cruiser regatta. During the Blast, the race organizers actually had the multihulls starting with monohulls of similar ratings. Apparently no consideration was given to the fact that the two types of boats sail and maneuver differently. In addition, the starting line was far too short for cruising multihulls — even if they weren't mixed in with the far more maneuverable monohulls. I feared that the Banderas Bay Regatta would be more of the same, and I think my instincts proved me correct.

I believe that there is a fundamental problem with 'cruiser races' that are organized by sailors who are really racers. It is the distinction between organizing an event that's designed for excitement and competition rather than for safety and fun.

Problems are bound to occur when people who are racing their homes are put into the same class as people who are racing their toys. It's easy for someone on a racing boat to intimidate a cruiser on a cruising boat. Similarly, it can be difficult for a laid-back cruiser who hasn't raced much to anticipate tricky situations he/she may be getting into with an aggressively sailed racing boat. Even if there is no yelling or collision, it's unlikely that the frightened and intimidated cruiser will dare race again.

I have presented the problem, so I will present a solution that I think is the hope of salvaging cruiser racing in Mexico. My solution is that there needs to be separate racing for racers and for cruisers. Those who have to win in order to have fun need to be kept apart from those who just have to sail to have fun. I know 'racer' and 'cruiser' are not mutually exclusive terms, but I think I can make a distinction. If you are living on your boat, you're a cruiser. If you are not living on your boat, she's a toy and you're a racer.

The bottom line is that Camelot's cruising plans were put on hold while the BBR incident was resolved, while Blue sat empty in her slip as she normally does when she's not out proving she's "the winningest boat on Banderas Bay." As I write this, there are rumors of lawyers getting involved, at which point you know nothing good will come of it.

For me, the attraction of racing was the adrenaline rush of the moment. It was the endless rehashing of the race later at the yacht club, and the maniacally competitive sailors, that bored me silly. I decided to become a cruiser, as it better suited my interest and temperament.

I understand that there are people who feel they have to prove they are better than everyone else, no matter the cost. I avoid them. That's why I don't race. Not even in so-called cruiser regattas, where many of the participants aren't cruisers at all.

Captain Glenn Twitchell
Beach Access, Lagoon 380
Newport Beach / Mexico


I'm disappointed in your article on the collision and injury that occurred in the Banderas Bay Regatta. There are two sides to most stories, and you only portrayed one.

Without agreeing on who had rights when the Hunter 54 Camelot and the J/160 Blue collided, we can safely recognize that the captain of Camelot failed to comply with "RRS Sect. B, 14 Avoiding Contact: A boat shall avoid contact with another boat if reasonably possible . . ."

And, 16.1 Changing Course. "When the right-of-way boat changes course, she shall give the other boat room to keep clear."

And Maritime Rules of the Road: Pt B Steering & Sailing 8. Action to avoid collision. "Actions taken to avoid collision should be positive, obvious, made in good time."

I know for a fact the driver of the J/160 had Blue's wheel hard right, upwind, to the lock, just before and during the collision. The skipper of Camelot did not have control of his vessel at time of collision. He had room to bear off and did not. Serious injury to the tactician on Blue was the outcome.

Too many times skippers and crew forget the first rule of maritime safety and racing, as put into law through COLREGS and the Racing Rules of Sailing. That rule is the first responsibility of the skipper is to avoid contact.

Terry Robertson
PRO and Merchant Marine Master

Terry — You're correct, of course: it is the responsibility of the skipper of a boat to avoid contact. But your assertion that "we can safely recognize that the captain of Camelot failed to comply" is false. If you'd read the Protest Committee's report in the April 1 'Lectronic, you'd know that it was Blue, not Camelot, that was found guilty of not keeping clear. Blue's GoPro video of the incident was posted on Sailing Anarchy, home to many fervent racers, and the overwhelming majority of them agreed with the Protest Committee's ruling.

You also appear to not know that the Protest Committee ruled that Camelot could not have gone down to avoid a collision because there was a boat with rights to leeward of them. There is a good reason that windward boats are required to keep clear of leeward boats. If they weren't, everybody would just reach down the starting line, crashing into one boat after another.

With regard to the actual contact, we think you should consider the possibility that it was caused by the helmswoman on Blue putting the wheel hard over, which you seem to think was a good thing. But as you surely know, the turning axis of a sailboat is her keel, so when the helm is put hard over, she's going to 'hip-check' any boat just to leeward of her. Once you get really close to another boat, the only way to avoid contact is for both skippers to very gradually steer away from each other. As intuitive as hard-over might seem to a novice, it's exactly the wrong thing to do in such a situation.

When you say that you're a PRO, we presume you mean that you're a qualified Principal Race Officer. If so, how can it be that when we asked how you knew something was a "fact," you replied you knew from the "Testimony of the of J/160 skipper and crew." You're a PRO and you consider the testimony of one side to be fact?! Why then wouldn't the testimony of the other skipper be "fact" also?


The collision, serious injury and protests in this year's Banderas Bay Regatta are an example of why I no longer participate in that event. A bunch of assholes who race J Boats and have a profit motive have turned what once was a cruiser regatta into a 'win at all costs' event. We never had protests and the like until sailors who should be competing elsewhere forced their politics on the milquetoast race committee.

How many boats participated this year? There's your answer to the problem.

Please Withhold My Name
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

PWMN — While we can somewhat agree with your basic thesis, your supporting evidence isn't as strong as it could be, and we think the situation is more nuanced. For instance, this year's fleet consisted of 52 boats. While there may have been a greater turnout in the very early years of the BBR, when it seemed as though every cruiser on Banderas Bay showed up, this year's participation was greater than the average of the previous 10 years.

Secondly, you refer to a "milquetoast race committee." However, the Vallarta YC recently denied entry to a boat that, as we understand it, they felt had been sailed too aggressively in a previous BBR, and whose skipper they felt had been too argumentative for the spirit of the event.

To illustrate the dilemma when hosting a 'cruiser regatta', while the organizers felt the boat may have been sailed too aggressively for the spirit of the event, we have reason to believe that the organizers knew the boat had nonetheless sailed within the racing rules. The problem was the owner of the less-aggressive boat became so angry that, after the race, he grabbed some kind of bat, and he and his crew took off with the intent of letting the other skipper know just how they felt. Fortunately, the other skipper had taken someone to the airport, so there was no violence.

There seems to be a major philosophical divide between mostly more competitive sailors and less competitive sailors — such as ourselves — over the question of whether there can be such a thing as 'toned-down racing'. Their argument is that the rules exist for good reasons, one of the primary ones being to prevent accidents. Our response is yes, the rules do need to be there for safety, for without them there would be chaos.

However, we also believe that boats can be raced with different degrees of intensity, aggressiveness and margins of error. And should be, depending on the type of regatta. When cruisers race their homes with family and friends, it's more likely that things will go wrong than on frequently raced boats with regular crew. For example, somebody's sister may not let the traveller down fast enough to duck a crossing boat. Or a less-experienced skipper with a dirty boat bottom may miss a tack and stall in front of a mark. If some boats are sailing very intensely, these screw-ups could lead to close situations, if not collisions. But if all participants recognize what is supposed to be the light-hearted nature of a cruising event, and maintain generous margins of error, there shouldn't be any yelling or screaming, let alone collisions.

We're confident that toned-down racing can work, because it's been working for years in the multihull class of the BBR, where the boats are much larger and much less maneuverable than smaller monohulls. And because it's been working for years in events such as the Antigua Classic Regatta, the St. Barth Bucket and others, where special rules and 'spirit of regatta' rules have been invoked.

A big issue in cruiser regattas is intimidation. As the owners of a 63-ft long, 30-ft wide, 13-ft tall catamaran that can easily sail in the teens, we're fully aware of our potential to scare the living daylights out of just about anybody else on the course. In the spirit of fair play and caring more about everybody's having fun than winning, we never try to use that advantage. Indeed, we don't believe even the hint of intimidation has any place in a 'cruiser regatta'.

We understand exactly why you've made the decision not to participate in 'cruiser regattas'. We hear it all the time from other sailors, even very talented ones who have raced at the highest levels for many years. Until this philosophical difference of opinion can be settled, we fear cruisers will avoid any kind of racing in droves. After all, the risk/reward equation doesn't compute for them.


I'd like you to consider the implications of both your 'Lectronic articles on the Banderas Bay Regatta incident between Camelot and Blue. Your first article seemed to be almost entirely based on rumors and one side of the story. You seem to have made little effort to get Blue's side of the story, and the tone of your article placed the blame on them.

I think you also need to appreciate the reach of your publication, and realize that there was potential for those on the jury to have read it, possibly making it harder for them to come into the protest unbiased.

Your second article about the end of cruiser racing in Mexico was alarmist. Yes, the incident was terrible, and no one wants to be involved in anything like that. But to me, your logic is the same as that of somebody who hears of a plane crash and never wants to get on a plane again — forgetting about the millions of flights that land safely each year. Let's remember the many BBR races that have gone on in the past 20 years without incident.

If you want to promote cruiser racing in the bay as you say you do, you should take this opportunity to use your publication to teach cruisers the rules, admit that there are risks in yacht racing, explore how to minimize them, and have the entire cruising community come out as more knowledgeable and safe racers.

Now an article on the Vallarta YC claims that some of your quotes are false. You have certain responsibilities as a journalist, and this protest hearing has severe implications no matter how it ends up.

Max St-Maurice
La Cruz, Mexico

Max — You claim our report was ". . . almost entirely based on rumors." We're going to prove you wrong right now.

There were five boats in the immediate area of the collision between Camelot and Blue. We received eyewitness accounts from very experienced racers on four of the five boats: 1) Craig Shaw, skipper of Camelot, professional rigger, a sailor with 41 years of racing experience; 2) Eugenie Russell, crewmember on Olas Lindas, which was just to leeward of Camelot, longtime skipper, sailing instructor, and racer; 3) Bill Lilly, skipper of Moontide, longtime racer, who was close to the start and a witness at the protest hearing; and most influentially to us, 4) Randy Hough, Principle Race Officer, on the race committee boat, who sent the following email to the skipper of Camelot:

"I'm sorry to have missed you at Vallarta YC tonight. We talked with Ken [Sears] [of Blue] and many witnesses. Blue put herself into a bad position with nowhere to go. They were not aware that Olas Lindas was taking you up and that you had nowhere to go. Eugenie from Olas Lindas was very open, and it was her account that helped everyone understand what happened. From our vantage point on the RC boat, we were not aware of any contact. It looked like a barging/over early "no harm, no foul" sort of thing, and we expected Blue to come charging around the RC boat to restart. I heard that you and the crew were very concerned when you heard Mike was injured and I thought I would bring you up to date."

You still want to claim that our 'Lectronic reports were based on rumor? Furthermore, we also received an email from a normally reliable source that Blue had admitted fault. Upon further investigation, it turns out this was a misinterpretation of a person's actions, but it was the information we got.

The only boat or person who suggested that Camelot was at fault at the time was . . . well, there wasn't anyone that we knew of. As you might remember, Blue did not file a protest either immediately after the incident or within the time prescribed in the race instructions. If anyone had made any statement or taken any action to indicate Blue thought they hadn't been at fault, we would have written the story differently. But when there is a collision between two boats and one boat drops out and doesn't protest, it doesn't take the ghost of Bertrand Russell to deduce that the other boat seemed to think they were at fault.

It is true that we could have attempted to call Mike Danielson and the Searses. But to be honest, we are — or at least were — friends with all three, and given the accounts of others and the lack of a protest, we thought it would have been unnecessarily ghoulish.

Indeed, we'd been through something similar a year or so before in the Pirates for Pupils Spinnaker Run for Charity. There was very light wind at the start, and in an apparent attempt to find more wind or less current, Danielson took Blue far inshore of all the other boats, into what we and many others thought was dangerously shallow water. Well, she hit a reef with such force that we watched a crewmember fly off the bow like Superman. Blue remained trapped in the rocks for something like 15 minutes while we stood by.

We later saw the Searses in the yacht club restaurant and got the kind of smiles that we interpreted to mean, 'Thanks, but we really don't want to talk about it.' Who could blame them? It had been what tennis players call an 'unforced error' and resulted in the boat's having to have an expensive haulout and inspection. With Danielson badly injured after this year's collision, and everybody in the area saying Blue had clearly been at fault, and without any hint of protest on the part of Blue, we decided not to contact Danielson or the Searses with any of those 'How do you feel?' questions. In retrospect, maybe we should have, but we thought we had good reason not to at the time.

That said, the moment we heard that Blue was planning to file a protest, we published a new 'Lectronic citing the reason they were allowed to make a protest after the normal protest deadline, and outlining the grounds on which they might protest.

You accuse us of having taken the tone that Blue had been guilty. We did, and given the information that was available at the time we wrote what we did, we think it was reasonable. Curiously, your letter, written before the protest was held, seems to take the tone that cruiser Camelot was obviously guilty. "You should take this opportunity," you wrote, "to use your publication to teach cruisers the rules." How do you feel now that the protest committee has ruled that it was Blue, not the 'cruiser' Camelot, that was guilty of violating one of the most basic and important of all racing rules? Is it not you who was guilty of judging too soon — and when you, unlike us, knew full well there was another side of the story?

As for your suggestion that our first piece influenced the jury, we find that to be ridiculous and insulting to all three members of the jury. We're confident they had the ability and integrity to determine the facts and make a ruling on their own. Particularly as there was a video of the incident.

You think our saying that the incident might be the end of cruiser racing in Mexico was "alarmist?" Are you aware that Randy Hough, the event PRO, says that after being so generous with his time and boats for 30 years to help racing, he's done? Are you aware that some members of the Vallarta YC have called for the club to disassociate itself with the BBR? Are you aware of the once-good friendships that have been destroyed as a result of the collision and what followed? Are you aware of frequent participants in the cruiser races in Mexico who say they will never sail in an event with certain other boats or sailors again?

Unlike you, we've been responsible for founding and putting on countless cruiser races for charity in Mexico, from Zihua SailFest to Sea of Cortez Sailing Week to the Banderas Bay Blast and more. As such, we think we know more about hosting cruiser races than you do. We can tell you that when something does go wrong, as it did in the BBR, people — and seemingly Americans more than other nationalities — seem to look around for someone else to blame and/or sue. If your name is in any way associated with an event and if you have any assets, you might as well have a big target on your back. Even if people don't follow through on their threats to sue, who needs it? If you put on events, even supposedly 'strictly for fun' charity events, you soon learn that Clare Boothe Luce was right: "No good deed goes unpunished."

As for your saying we want to promote cruiser racing on Banderas Bay, given what's happened, we're not at all sure that we do. We'll be in Banderas Bay this month to discuss the issue with certain people, but if cruiser racing is going to be about risky sailing, unnecessary collisions, injuries, and ensuing bitterness, we don't want any part of it. So maybe you should step up to the plate and put your name behind an event. Then maybe you'll understand what it's like to potentially be accused of being responsible for whatever crazy behavior someone in the fleet might engage in.

As for your condescending comment that we should teach cruisers the racing rules, do we need to remind you that not only was the 'cruiser' in this incident right and the 'racer' found to be wrong, but the helmsman on the 'cruiser' has 41 years of racing experience?

As for the business about quotes. We edit for brevity and clarity. After the protest committee ruled against Blue, Danielson asked that the protest be reopened based on the minor changes. The request was immediately denied.

Just so everybody knows where we stand with regard to Mike Danielson, we don't know of anyone who has promoted sailing as relentlessly as he has, and we've been putting on cruiser events with him, and participating in his events, for years. That said, we've always been at odds, and sometimes to a great extent, over how competitive those events should be.


I've tried to keep my mouth shut about the unfortunate incident with Blue in the Banderas Bay Regatta, but I would like to respond to some people who seem to dismiss us as 'cruisers' who don't know anything about racing or the racing rules.

My dad and I both started racing 41 years ago. We started with Shillelagh, a Luders 16, and raced her in just about every race and series on the Columbia River. When he bought his tall rig Ericson 29 Donna Gay, we each raced our own boats, and also raced on other boats. We participated in almost every race there was.

My first Oregon Offshore Race was in 1977, and I subsequently did about 15 of them, most of them on my Columbia 43 Adios, and mostly with my mom and dad, who owned her at the time. I've also done three of them on their newer boat, the Hunter 54 Camelot. We also won the 1985 Oregon Offshore Overall with Adios.

Between Adios and Camelot, we've also done about 12 Swiftsure Races out of Victoria. Our best was a second with Adios on the Long Course. I also skippered Adios on my own with my ex and a bunch of friends at Whidbey Island Race Week in 1985. We were written up as the most improved boat for the week. I have to say that I was initially intimidated at the starts by all the hot Seattle sailors, but soon realized that they were almost all barging. So I just did my timed starts, and we did very well.

We also continued to race Adios in almost every race on the Columbia River, with Mom, Dad, myself and crew. We also did the week-long Six Pac Race in the summer.

In 1988, we raced Adios to Hawaii in the Pacific Cup with Mom cooking an awesome turkey dinner at the halfway point. Dad, a couple of crew and I sailed Adios home in 16.5 days.

We also won our class in the Six Pac a few times, and after it got changed to Gorge Race Week in the early '90s, we took overall honors with Adios four times and also got a second overall.

In 1998, we raced Camelot to Hawaii in the Pacific Cup, with Mom once again making a full turkey dinner at the halfway point. Once again we came in fourth after 10 days at sea. I skippered Camelot home to Portland with a friend and one pick-up crew in 16 days. Dad also raced in the 1979 TransPac as crew on the Cascade 42 Nimble.

In 1998, I sailed about 8,000 offshore miles on Hunter 54s, sailing Camelot from Portland to San Francisco, then to Hawaii and back to Portland, then crewing for Hall Palmer on his 54 in the Ha-Ha. I also crewed on Talion in the '07 Ha-Ha, and skippered Adios in the '09 and '10 Ha-Ha's, as well as skippering Camelot in last year's Ha-Ha. I've also bashed Adios back to Portland from Cabo twice, and am just getting ready to bash Camelot back to Portland for the summer.

I realize that this might be too much information, but I hope it clears up any misconception about our racing experience and our knowledge of the racing rules.

Craig Shaw
Adios, Columbia 43


In an oversight, Latitude 38 did not credit me as being the author of 'Resurrecting the Golden Rule — The Anti-Nuke Flagship' in the March, 2013 issue. When I called the matter to your attention, you acknowledged that I am the author, and that I hold copyright to the article. You also made a donation to the Golden Rule Project.

The issue has been quickly and amicably resolved, and I remain a Latitude 38 enthusiast.

Arnold J. Oliver
Sandusky, Ohio



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