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August 2013

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WANTED: Small boy or girl for work as a dinghy guard. Must have good character, be honest, courageous, obstinate and command respect. Location: San Francisco's Aquatic Park.

It's too bad Aquatic Park doesn't have 'dinghy guards' such as there are at Zihuatanejo and other cruiser stops in Mexico. While anchored at Aquatic Park on the Fourth of July, I left my dinghy on the beach for a few hours, only to later find it occupied by a couple of drunks with a case of Corona. I'd taken the precaution of putting down an anchor with a padlock and chain, so they were having a hard time launching it. They made a number of drunken excuses for trying.

The next day I moved the dinghy to the small beach between the Rowing Club and the National Park pier, since it wasn't open to the general traffic and had some outrigger canoes in situ. When I returned, I found a small boy using my dinghy as a bounce ball. Besides the liability issues, I considered the possibility that he might open one of the tube valves and leave me stranded.

Considering how fantastic the free and sheltered Aquatic Park anchorage is for sailboats, it's sad that it has the minor drawback of no secure place to land and keep a dinghy. With so many swimmers leaving their personal gear on the bleachers, it's amazing there aren't more problems.

Dave Cowell
Mas Tiempo, Islander 30

Dave — The fact there isn't a secure place to leave dinghies ashore or some kind of shoreboat service is what keeps Aquatic Park from being a prime destination for Bay sailors. If there were a Catalina-style shoreboat service, we imagine the anchorage would be packed most Friday and Saturday nights. But that's not going to happen. And given what Aquatic Park means to serious Bay swimmers, we're kinda glad that it's not going to happen.

A lot of mariners are confused about the rules for entering and anchoring at Aquatic Park, so we'll review them. Only non-motorized boats and sail/auxiliary boats — the latter meaning sailboats with motors — are allowed to enter Aquatic Park Cove. Those over 40 feet in length or with more than 8 feet of draft must get prior approval from the National Park Service Harbormaster at (415) 859-6807. You can't anchor after sunset or before sunrise except by permit. Permits are only good for five consecutive nights, after which seven days must pass before you can apply to stay overnight again. You are allowed a maximum of 30 overnight stays a year. Day use of Aquatic Park does not require a permit. There are no mooring buoys, and space is on a first-come, first-served basis. Because of the large number of swimmers in the Cove, dinghies can't be powered by more than a 5-hp outboard. Rowing is recommended.

Did we mention that Aquatic Park is a special place for dedicated open-water swimmers? Please stay as far away from these folks as possible, with both your boat and your dinghy, as they are engaged in a form of meditation and completely vulnerable to getting chopped to bits by your props.


I'm pretty shaken up about the disappearance without a trace of the 70-ft American staysail schooner Niña, apparently during rough weather in the Tasman Sea. I was struck by the fact that the boat was built in 1929 and is thus 84 years old. Can wood boats that old still be safe enough for ocean crossings? And what's this business about the hull and maybe keel having been sheathed in a quarter of an inch of fiberglass?

Robert Winston

Robert — There are many large old wood boats sailing and racing on the oceans of the world.

For many years before building the 289-ft Maltese Falcon, Belvedere's Tom Perkins raced the 138-ft (LOA) Herreshoff schooner Mariette of 1915 — you can guess which year she was launched — on both sides of the Atlantic and across that ocean. The great 72-ft Herreshoff ketch Ticonderoga, which set records all around the world and was first to finish in the '63 and '65 TransPacs, just finished the Marblehead to Halifax Race and sails to the Caribbean most winters. Matt Brooks' St. Francis YC-based S&S 52 Dorade, built in 1929, both won her class and corrected out on top of last month's 58-boat TransPac Race fleet. While in the Caribbean, we raced aboard the 133-ft Fife topsail schooner Altair, which was built in 1931. This year's Antigua Classic Regatta was won, in very rough conditions, by the 99-year-old Fife-designed 94-ft Sumurun. And as we reported in a recent Changes, the beautiful The Blue Peter, a 65-ft Fife design built in 1930, has been raced relentlessly in the Med for 15 years and more recently in the Caribbean. In fact, it's in the Med where big old wooden boats are most prized.

So being 80 to 100 years old doesn't necessarily mean the gig is up for large old wood boats. That said, most of the boats listed above have been refitted extensively, some of them so many times that there is little left of the original boat. Keeping an old wood boat in top seagoing condition is a monumental task that requires a lot of money.

Judging from recent exterior photos of Niña, she wasn't in perfect condition, but exterior photos tell you nothing about the basic structural integrity of a vessel. As for having the hull and keel of a boat sheathed in fiberglass, it's not unheard of, but it usually suggests that the original material may not be as strong as it once was. We have no idea why Niña was sheathed. We do know that owner David Dyche, a commercial ship captain, had sailed Niña extensively during his 25 years of ownership, including across the Atlantic to Turkey and back, to the Caribbean and back, and across the Pacific. Had he any doubts about her condition, he surely wouldn't have risked his life, let alone those of his wife,17-year-old son and crew.


A minor correction to the recent 'Lectronic on the apparent loss of the schooner Niña, in which you reported that Paul and Susan Mitchell's classic schooner White Cloud "sank within minutes" in 1988. As noted correctly in your July, 2007 Latitude, after incurring damage, White Cloud sailed several days to a reef anchorage, from which they were subsequently rescued, and where White Cloud was scuttled. We met the Mitchells in Port Vila, Vanuatu, and helped provide Ham radio relay during the rescue effort by Harrison and Laurie.

Dave Cohan
Tahu Le'a, Morris 46
Redwood City

Dave — That was more than a minor mistake on our part, as it gives an entirely different complexion to the last days of White Cloud. We apologize. When we first heard about the loss of White Cloud, it was secondhand, and we were told she'd sunk within minutes. This was back before international communications were easy, and that incorrect version has stuck in our minds.


I'm saddened by the apparent loss of the 70-ft schooner Niña and her seven crew on a stormy passage from New Zealand to Australia. But what bothers me even more is that she apparently had an EPIRB, but no distress signal was received. Can you explain this? We're hoping to take off cruising within the next two years, and I want to have confidence in EPIRBs.

Sally Marshall
San Jose

Sally — EPIRBs are very effective safety devices. Since the worldwide system was instituted in 1982, EPIRBs are credited with having saved over 28,000 lives. It's not clear if all of these were mariners, but we know of dozens of Latitude readers who have been rescued thanks to their EPIRBs.

There are two main types of modern EPIRBs, Category 1 and Category 2. Both are designed to go off automatically if they are immersed in water. The difference is Category 1 EPIRBs have a bracket that is designed to be used in the cockpit, and allow the EPIRB to be set free of the bracket — and boat — if the boat starts to sink. It's our understanding that Niña was equipped with a Category 2 EPIRB.

As we don't know what happened to Niña, we can only speculate as to possible reasons that no EPIRB signal was received: 1) The EPIRB was defective; 2) The EPIRB battery was dead; 3) Something so cataclysmic happened that the EPIRB quickly went down with the boat, preventing its signal from being received by satellites; 4) The boat hasn't sunk.

EPIRBs are such effective safety devices that some cruising boats carry more than one. Steve and Dorothy Darden of the M&M 52 catamaran Adagio, who are very good friends of the Dyches, told Latitude that even before Niña went missing they were planning to buy a second EPIRB for their cat.

Some EPIRBs also send out a GPS position, which is the difference between rescue folks knowing where you are within 100 meters or within two miles. Which do you want if you have trouble on a very foggy day?

Some of the newer EPIRBs have a feature that allows you to send a 'We're okay' message to a list of email addresses, too. While some EPIRBs now tell you if your distress signal went out, many don't, and that uncertainty can be very disconcerting. It's a major shortcoming of EPIRBs that they only allow for one-way communication.

There are other devices that also allow you to call for help. These would include both a VHF radio, if you are within range of somebody hearing you, and an SSB radio, if you know what frequency to use when calling for help. Both are dependent on having electrical power, which can be lost if the boat takes on a lot of water or has the electrical system disabled by a lightning strike.

Another great safety and distress device is the handheld Spot Satellite Messenger, which allows you to post your position, show your track, tell friends/authorities whether you're all right or need help, and more. While the handheld Spot Satellite Messenger is waterproof and powered by its own batteries, it does have some shortcomings. If you check its coverage area, you'll see that it's worthless for the last part of a trip to Hawaii, everywhere in the South Pacific, and in parts of the rest of the oceanic world

In the Tasman Sea, where Niña was apparently lost, it can take up to 20 minutes for a Spot Messenger message to be sent. If the schooner had suffered a sudden failure, and had a Spot, the message may not have gotten out. However, had they had a Spot and been using a Spot's tracking feature, family, friends and rescue agencies would have known almost exactly where the schooner was until the device stopped sending information. This would have allowed authorities to pinpoint their search rather than try to search hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean.

Latitude highly recommends that everyone who goes offshore — and especially those who participate in the Baja Ha-Ha — carry both an EPIRB and a Spot Messenger. In fact, we think they are both so conducive to safety and pinpointing rescue searches that one or the other should be mandatory for offshore boats. Plus, the Spot will help the government with one of its primary functions, which is knowing where you are and what you are doing at all times.


I would like to open a discussion about the growing number of dogs in our marina. There are 15 liveaboard boats on our dock, and with last week's arrival of two more dogs, the canine total was brought to eight. With 275 liveaboard slips in the marina, the math adds up to 145 dogs walking our docks. To that we have to add the number of city residents who bring their dogs to walk the pathway that skirts our marina. I believe that our marina is being overwhelmed by dogs, and ours isn't the only one.

Marinas are places to keep your boat when you’re not at sea. They should be a pristine environment for boats, where the boat can be enjoyed, maintained and readied for the next outing. By the way, in the 10 years I've been in my marina, not one of the liveaboard boats with dogs has ever left the slip — except for their annual inspection when they have to. That should tell you something.

There is one guy who tries to guilt everybody into petting his dog every time anyone passes, only to have it roll over on its back and display its pink 'woody'. “Come on," says the owner, "show Buster a little love.” One lady dog owner lets her dog lick the inside of her mouth. She refers to it as "being kissed." I think she needs to get some help. Then there is the 10-dog butt-sniffing party at the top of the ramp. They are all tangled in their leashes so you have to work to get out of the gate. Then there is the fucking Chihuahua that comes out of nowhere to the anchor roller when you walk by and scares the shit out of you with that high-pitched yelp.

What about the times when you're walking back to your boat at night and don't realize that you've stepped in some dog's steamer, which the canine's owner has neglected to pick up? And then you see the smelly mess in your cockpit the next morning.

I’ve obviously had it! The message I'd like to give to you dog owners in the marina is that when you proudly walk by with your 'best friend' in tow, don't think the rest of us admire you and your mutt, because we don't.

You've heard my bitch and you wonder if I have a solution. I do. I say that dog owners should pay extra for their slips. Say $75/month per dog. I bet the better marinas already do this. One hundred forty-five times $75 equals $10,845 dollars a month for my marina. That would help pay for nicer grounds, more employees, and in time, fewer annoying canines.

I beg you dog owners to spend more time enjoying your own species. I think you'll find them captivating — and better at kissing.

Name Withheld By Request
Big Marina, Somewhere

Readers — We realize that dogs bring a tremendous amount of happiness to their owners. We think that's a wonderful thing. We also realize that most dog owners assume that everybody loves being licked and sniffed by their pet as much as they do. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In view of this, it's our belief that pet owners should let humans make the first approach to their pet, not vice versa.


In the June 21 'Lectronic, you asked, "What's with the difference in weather forecasts?" As an example, you cited the fact that Passage Weather had a pretty detailed forecast of the path and strength of Tropical Storm Cosme, while the National Hurricane Center didn't even mention the possibility of a tropical storm until four or five days later.

There's a good description of the differences between the GFS and NAM models by Jackdale on Sailnet at

For Bay Area sailing, I use the WRAMS model on SailFlow, as it has a 1 KM resolution, and is usually more accurate than NAM for racing purposes.

Byron Jacobs
'Ale Kai, Beneteau 393
Sequoia YC

Byron — The weather model business can get confusing fast. The National Weather Service uses five different 'Global' models, four 'Mesoscale' models, and five 'Ensemble Prediction Systems'. Apparently the two biggies are the GFS ensemble, which stands for the Global Forecast System, run by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), a unit of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and NWS (National Weather Service). The other is the NAM (North American Mesoscale) model, which is obviously a Mesoscale model, also run by NCEP. It reportedly has much higher resolution than GFS, and therefore should give more precise short-term forecasts. Both of these models, as well as the 12 others, have what the Weather Service calls 'biases'.

The differences between GFS and NAM modeled predictions may be of importance to local racers because little differences in wind direction can have a big effect on race results. But overall, the two models create similar forecasts.

Our beef is with what seems to be a glaring omission on the part of the National Hurricane Center in regard to the approach, or even potential approach, of tropical storms and hurricanes. Take Tropical Storm Cosme off the coast of Mexico a month ago. When Passage Weather was posting a compelling series of graphics depicting the approach and expected track of the tropical storm six days out, the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center didn't even mention the possibility of such a thing. This seems like rubbish to us. At the very least, we think the National Hurricane Center should have mentioned that conditions favorable to the development of a tropical storm existed or were expected soon to exist. When it comes to dealing with tropical storms and hurricanes, the greater the warning, the better the decisions and responses mariners can make.

When the Grand Poobah calls Commander's Weather each day of the Ha-Ha to pass the forecast on to the fleet, the last thing we always ask is how things are looking with regard to the development of tropical storms. The Commander's folks can check satellites and other sources for signs of conditions that possibly can lead to the development of tropical storms. We want to know about this stuff, not to be left in the dark.

If a tropical storm or hurricane does form, Commander's Weather relies on five different hurricane models to create a forecast. So in addition to the one forecast given by the National Hurricane Center, we also hear about what other computer models are predicting. Oftentimes there will be a general consensus of three of the five models, with the other two suggesting very different outcomes. We want to know about all of them, not just the consensus one issued by the Hurricane Center.

By the way, based on as long as records go, no tropical storm or hurricane has crossed the Ha-Ha course during the Ha-Ha dates.


I have a 40-ft sailboat on the East Coast and time on my hands. I'm interested in cost-effective methods for getting her across the country. I would have thought that there is/was a viable alternative to the Panama Canal, but I can’t find one.

Given that so much yacht manufacturing is done on the East Coast, particularly in Florida, I would think there would be an effort to reduce the cost of transportation by finding a shorter or more cost-effective method than road transportation. Do you know of any options such as a railway or companies that operate a 'road bridge', if not in Mexico then in one of the other Central American countries? I have been told that there is a rail route in Mexico that can take yachts from coast to coast, but I can't find any information on it.

Luke Freeman
Redwood City

Luke — Trucking is the most cost-effective way to get a boat from one coast of the United States to the other, but that doesn't make it cheap. However, based on our experience having the Olson 30 La Gamelle trucked from Alameda to Port Everglades, Florida, the original quote you get from a trucking company might be almost twice as high as the best one you ultimately can get. There are a lot of guys in the South who have a truck or two, or who broker jobs for others with trucks. They sure were hard-asses when we asked for a quote from them, but when their business slowed a month or so later, they cried like babies for our job. So if you're not in a hurry, try to find a truck that otherwise would have to return to the West Coast empty in order to get the best deal.

The manufacturer used to ship Sausalito-built 41-ft Bounty II sloops across the United States by rail. Bums loved 'land yachting' across the country on them. But that was in the late '50s, and we don't know of any boats that have been shipped by train in ages.

The last time we can remember somebody shipping their boat across Mexico was about 25 years ago, and it was a smaller boat. It was quite the adventure, too, as Mexico wasn't set up for shipping boats at either end, and the rail car their boat was on had to be left on a siding at the Continental Divide because the cradle was falling apart. The couple and their boat made it, but it wasn't easy.

There is a rail route across the narrow Gulf of Tehuantepec from Coatzacoalos in the Gulf of Mexico to Salina Cruz on the Pacific side. We have no idea if they have the infrastructure you need to cost-effectively get your boat from the water to the train at one end and vice versa at the other. Or if you can find a knowledgeable person to build a suitable cradle. Nobody said being a pioneer was easy. The thing to remember is that if you have to sail from the East Coast to Coatzacoalos, and then from Salina Cruz to California, it's not much shorter than if you took your boat through the Panama Canal.

Since you've got time, if you have a sense of adventure, we'd recommend you deliver your boat to California by way of the Canal. We're not sure where your boat is on the East Coast, but you should have the wind at your back most of the way to Panama, the Canal is a hoot, and then it's just 2,500 miles of mostly light-air motoring to California. You could do it in three months, stopping at some really great places — like Cuba and the San Blas Islands — on the way. Good luck!


What do you do other than reef early when sailing a cat off the wind in a big breeze? There isn't much that you can do. I learned my lesson in the summer of 2010 sailing our Catana 52 cat Escapade from St. Barth to Bermuda. With Alan Weaver and Michael McGrath as crew, my wife Debbie and I departed St. Barth in 18 to 20 knots on the port quarter. The forecast was for good breeze for the next few days on our way to Bermuda with a small chance of an early-season depression to the west of our intended course.

By the end of the first 24 hours, the wind speed was pushing 30, then rose steadily to 35-38 knots. By the third day we were seeing 40 to 45 knots. As Escapade is a big and heavy cat, we'd started the passage with a full main and a genoa. By the second morning, we were down to the full main and solent, while still on a broad reach with the apparent wind slightly aft of the beam. Once the wind speed increased, and the height of the waves correspondingly so, I thought it imprudent to try to turn the boat through the 'zone of death' and into the wind to reef.

At one point we tried to grind the main down. As a result, it only ended up being pressed harder against the shrouds. By this time we were consistently surfing in the mid-teens, and soon broke our long-held record of 17 knots on the GPS.

As the wind built to 40+ knots, I was getting really concerned, but I still couldn't see trying to turn the cat into the wind in order to get the main down. During Debbie's midnight watch, Escapade fell off a wave and the GPS flashed 22 knots. If I was concerned before, I was really gripped now. But I just couldn't figure out what to do.

As it turned out, we left the jib up to keep the boat balanced, and simply held on until the wind dropped into the low 30s the next day. When it did, we dropped the main completely. We sailed comfortably under solent alone, and eventually reached Bermuda in just under four days.

I learned my lesson from that trip. Making a few more miles per day just because we leave the full main up in strong winds doesn't mean much compared to peace of mind. So I'm going to follow the pattern of those who reef at night.

Greg Dorland & Debra Macrorie
Escapade, Catana 52
Lake Tahoe/Currently Newport, Rhode Island

Readers — In his website discussion on catamaran basics, multihull sailor, designer and builder Gregor Tarjan wrote, "The beauty of a well-designed cruising catamaran is that it does not necessitate rounding up against the wind to reef the mainsail. Today’s fully-battened mainsails and lazy jack systems allow a multihull to be reefed even when sailing downwind."

The Escapade crew having found it impossible to reef their main off the wind in a blow, and our having had the same experience with Profligate, we asked Tarjan for a step-by-step guide to reefing the main when sailing downwind in more than 30 knots. His reply appears in the next letter.


Reefing downwind on a catamaran is a tricky thing, as the publisher of Latitude may have noticed on Profligate. And as I have written, "It's never pretty."

I was once forced to do it on an Outremer 64, which is a performance cruising catamaran. The lower batten was broken in the process. But in that situation my only other option would have been to turn the cat into the wind, which would have been bringing her through beam to the wind and big waves. That would have been more dangerous. Reefing downwind is usually a tactic you only want to take in two extreme conditions: in either very light air, or in a super strong breeze and swell.

It also depends on the apparent wind angle (AWA) that you start from. If you are higher than 90° AWA, I would head up. I'm talking about in less than 35 knots of true wind speed (TWS) and normal accompanying sea state. Sea state is an overriding factor to wind strength, as sometimes you can have a strong breeze but relatively flat seas. The opposite — light winds and big seas — is more tricky. If you have only 25 TWS, which is blowing against a current, and have big lumpy seas left from an old system, and your boat is traveling fast at the edge of control, then I would also opt to reef downwind.

In cases where I was already sailing deeper than 90° AWA and the wind was blowing hard, I would also try to reef downwind.

Although it would depend somewhat on the layout of a cat, my reefing downwind technique would be as follows: 1) Center the traveller; 2) Tighten the mainsheet; 3) Try to sail as fast and deep as possible. Rapid boat speed will reduce the apparent wind speed, keeping the leach of the main from getting too far out of control as you lower the sail. When reefing, the compression force on the battens and mast cars will be very high, so if you don't already have luff reef lines rigged, it helps to have a cunningham to help pull the luff down.

I hope this helps Latitude readers who own catamarans. If I may be allowed a small blurb, my company Aeroyacht, the largest multihull dealership in the world, has recently introduced the Alpha 42 catamaran that I designed. We have sold eight of them already, and I'm happy to report that #3 is going to a young family from the San Francisco area who plan to begin a circumnavigation after taking delivery next spring.

Gregor Tarjan, President
Aeroyacht Inc.
Long Island, NY

Gregor — We appreciate your response and understand how in theory you reef a big cat in a big breeze. But we think it's much more easily said than done — as you found out on the Outremer 64 — and as Dorland and we have found on our big cats. When you're talking about large mainsails, any kind of release of the halyard will result in the sail's becoming so full that it becomes plastered against the spreaders and shrouds. The only thing worse than a flat main in a big breeze is a really full main.


I've been sailing multihulls offshore for over 35 years, and have sailed them tens of thousands of ocean miles — including four Atlantic crossings. Yet I have never luffed up head to wind to reef. That sounds frighteningly dangerous to me.

Most of my sailing has been on smaller — under 40-ft — multihulls with masts up to 55 feet. I strongly recommend that anyone with a mainsail luff over about 45 feet fit a Harken Battcar or Schaefer's Batslide system on the mast. Readers can go to to see a video of how they work. I'm sure that there is such a system on Profligate's mast.

I also use a luff downhaul. That's a line — say 10mm — tied to the mainsail headboard that leads down the mast to the gooseneck. I keep it slack, and lace it between the occasional sailslides so that it doesn't flap around and catch on spreaders or some other thing. When reefing downwind, I release the main halyard and pull on the downhaul. It releases the luff tension and the sail will start to drop. Maybe all the way, maybe not. But if I pull on the downhaul again and again, it works every time.

The downhaul is also handy for lowering the sail when I can't be bothered to fit the sail cover, as the downhaul holds the halyard tight and the headboard doesn't flap around and look untidy.

Richard Woods
Woods Catamaran Designs

Richard — It seems to us that smaller mainsails and lower windspeeds make all the difference in the world. In the video you recommend, it looks as though the wind was blowing well under 15 knots. But we have to remember that as the wind speed doubles, the wind force quadruples. So the force of the main against the spreaders and shrouds, and the compression on the front of the battens, is not twice as much in 30 knots as in 15 knots, but four times as much. When the main is more than 70 feet on the luff, nearly 28 feet on the foot, and weighs 200 lbs, no husband and wife are going to be able to manhandle it.

We don't think a downhaul attached to the headboard of the main is a solution in windy conditions, as it wouldn't prevent the main from becoming much fuller the second you ease the halyard. The only thing we think would work would be to incrementally pull down maybe six inches at a time from both the bottom and the top of the luff. But even if you could somehow grab just six inches of the bottom at a time, and had powerful winches, it would still be extremely difficult. And yes, we have Battcar-like systems on both Profligate and 'ti Profligate.


Latitude readers might be interested in information about the first-ever yacht marina to be created in the Kingdom of Cambodia. This is a historic event, because Cambodia has never been on the main route for pleasure boat sailors. Furthermore, in the past we've only had primitive wooden piers, no port service, poor security and other issues.

But Cambodia is a developing country that wants to forget its terrible past. It has a lot to offer tourists, with all the temples and the mysterious history of the Khmer Empire. Cambodia knows that it needs to be more open and welcoming to the world.

Cambodia doesn't have a pleasure sailing tradition, which is why there hasn't been any infrastructure for yachties. We decided to break this tradition, and with a certain degree of adventurism decided to build a small but professional marina. The first part of the marina, with slips for 20 boats, will open in October. We'll see how it goes from there.

Our marina is protected by a breakwater at the harbor resort of Sihanoukville. Our docks and such are from companies in places such as Finland, Norway and England. The staff is Russian and Khmer. It's a complicated salad.

P.S.: Please do not judge strictly my Russian-English. I am a former sailor and navigator, but I have not been in the practice to talk.

Andrey Mantula
Harbour Master, Marina Oceania
Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Readers — The main cruising route in this part of the world takes circumnavigators WNW through the Banda and Java Seas, between the big Indonesian Islands of Sulawesi, Borneo (shared with Malaysia and Brunei) and Java and Sumatra, then up past Singapore at the southern tip of Malaysia, and farther up the Malacca Strait to Phuket. Sihanoukville (Kampong Som), Cambodia would be an interesting stop for adventurous cruisers, but it would require going 700 miles out of the way to the north, then having to backtrack 700 miles back to the south to round Singapore. It's possible that a different cruising route could evolve from the Philippines to Vietnam to Cambodia and then up into the Gulf of Thailand. Alas, it's currently impossible to cruise Vietnam, which is run by the paranoid and corrupt, and Thai officials in the Gulf of Thailand are not friendly to cruisers, just the opposite of how they are in Phuket. We wish the new marina luck, but Cambodia is sort of stuck on its own in the relative middle of nowhere, and we're a little skeptical about how welcoming Cambodian officials are going to be.

Sihanoukville is Cambodia's only deepwater port, and is located in the Gulf of Thailand between Vietnam and Thailand. It's a growing urban and tourist center, and a few years ago the New York Times wondered if it was going to become "the next Phuket." However, crime and drug abuse are problems in some areas, as is the rampant and irresponsible use of Jet Skis and long-tail boats. The beaches of Sihanoukville and nearby islands are similar to those of Phuket, but are much less developed — for both the better and the worse.

Cambodia's "terrible past" that Mantula refers to is something that the world should never forget. It started when Pol Pot, guided by the idiots of the French Communist Party, assumed dictatorial power of Cambodia in 1975. Pol Pot imposed Agrarian Socialism, an insane version of Marxism designed to take Cambodia back to the Stone Age. It required all urban dwellers, including those dying in hospitals, to drop everything to go work on collective farms in the countryside and/or at forced labor camps. Even the most basic aspects of citizens' lives were controlled, from what they could wear, to whom they could talk to, to what they could think. People were killed for having lived in cities, having read books, and even for having worn glasses. Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge believed that adults had been tainted with capitalism, so the children were taught how to torture and then given leadership roles in the executions of hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens. In just three years of Pol Pot's inspired leadership, an estimated 25% of Cambodia's entire population had died of executions, forced labor and/or malnutrition. Despite being considered an even greater monster in relative terms than Hitler, Stalin or Mao, Pol Pot never stood trial for his crimes. Indeed, the United Nations recognized Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge as the rightful government of Cambodia until 1997, by which time he'd been out of effective power for more than 15 years and was hiding out with a small band of soldiers near the border with Thailand. Way to go humanity!

We have one last chapter in this Cambodian geo-history lesson. As strange as it might seem, the last official battle in the Vietnam War took place at the islands around Sihanoukville, which is why the names of the American soldiers killed there are the last ones on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The battles that took place were the result of the Khmer Rouge hijacking the merchant ship Mayaguez, and President Ford, smarting from having had to pull the U.S. out of Vietnam, decided that the U.S. couldn't be seen as wimpy. So in a series of blunders that were reminiscent of much of the Vietnam War, 41 Americans died and millions of dollars were squandered on a major operation — despite the fact that the Khmer Rouge had already abandoned the Mayaguez and set her crew free. Tourists to Sihanoukville can dive on two shipwrecks at Koh Tang Island that were a result of this military misadventure.


Before Latitude accused the Quesadas of having their memory playing tricks on them, Latitude might have checked its own memory.

As S&S designed her, Orient was 63 feet, not 65 or 80 feet.

And Soliloquy was 12 Meter #2. She was active in Southern California waters from the '50s to the '70s. She was designed by Starling Burgess, built by Abeking & Rasmussen in 1928, and was originally named Isolde. Before being shipped to the West Coast, she changed hands several times in the New York area, and was also named Sally Ann and Ptarmigan.

I saw Soliloquy sail off Catalina many times. She was a powerhouse upwind. I'm sorry to report she was broken up in Australia in 1988.

Roy E. Disney did order a Morgan 40 ketch from Charlie Morgan in 1970. Originally named Impossible Dream, she was delivered to Driscoll's Boat Yard that year. Throughout his life, Roy Disney championed wildlife protection, and was especially active in saving the peregrine falcon. I suspect he renamed his Morgan ketch Peregrine for his love of that magnificent raptor. Incidentally, in 1969, Roy Disney made a classic nature documentary film, Varda the Peregrine Falcon.

Skip Allan

Skip — We don't think we "accused" the Quesadas of their memory playing tricks on them as much as wondered if that weren't the case. As it turned out, it was our research that played tricks on us.

We searched the entire database of the 170 12 Meters ever built — they were originally used in the Olympics — looking for more info on Soliloquy. How were we to know her name had been changed from Isolde and Sally Ann and Ptarmigan? Changing the name of a 12 Meter is sacrilege. In some countries it's probably a capital offense. Then there is the whole business about the International 12 Meter Class and boats such as Soliloquy, which complied with the 12 Meter rule, but hadn't been built as racing boats. Nonetheless, our apologies to all.

Since it's TransPac time, this is a great time to remind our readers that when Skip Allan was 21 or so, he, his brother Scott, and several other 20-ish sailing friends from the Newport Beach area took overall honors in the 1967 TransPac with the Cal 40 Holiday Too. Skip subsequently went on to great helming success in IOR boats, and equally great success cruising and racing his custom Wylie 28 Wildflower to Hawaii.


Hurrah! Our family has decided to move back to the U.S. Virgin Islands. My wife Cath and son Stuart are going to fly, while I'm going to sail our Hylas 49 Gallivanter by way of the Cape of Good Hope. Although I'm capable and prepared to do the trip alone, I always prefer to have a friend or two aboard to share offshore adventures. So I'm putting the word out.

Gallivanter is a well equipped S&S Hylas 49 that our family of three sailed from the Caribbean to Australia in recent years. I've just hauled and inspected her, and she's in good shape. Gallivanter has all the equipment you'd expect: two chartplotters, radar, four GPS units, paper charts, a sextant, a liferaft and fishing gear. She's got a watermaker, freezer, fridge, hot shower, TV with lots of DVDs, and all the rest.

I've been working as a licensed captain for the past 20 years, and have 1.5 circumnavigations to my credit, including most of one with an Islander 37 pilothouse sloop I bought in Hawaii. A number of my adventures have been recounted in the pages of Latitude.

I'll be departing Brisbane and starting to sail north and over the top of Australia around the end of August. I intend to sail along the coast and stop at a few places between here and Darwin. From Darwin we'll head north and island-hop along the islands of Indonesia to Bali, and maybe even wrestle a Komodo dragon at one of the Indonesian islands.

I intend to hang around Bali for a few weeks before departing mid-October for the 3,500-mile passage across the Indian Ocean to Mauritius, after which we'll look for a decent weather window for the 1,500-mile leg to Durban. That can be a nasty one. I intend to be in Cape Town by mid-December, and will fly to the Virgins to spend the holidays with my family in our new home.

I'll begin the last leg, from Cape Town to Trinidad, in mid-January. Our transAtlantic crossing will consist of the 1,700-mile sail to St. Helena, and maybe a stop at Ascencion, before the last 3,100-mile leg to the Lesser Antilles. Gallivanter averages about 180 miles a day, so we should be able to do that last leg in 20 days. After the first couple of hundred miles, the trip across the South Atlantic is considered to be one of the nicest in the world.

I don't pay for crew, but I cover fuel, food and expenses for the vessel. About all any crew would need is a passport, toothbrush, sunglasses and a few changes of clothes. We can expect to catch all the fish we want, and have periods of sunshine and rain, pleasant star-filled nights, periods of being becalmed, and maybe a moment or two of sheer terror. But it can sometimes be repetitive, so bring a book.

I like to have three people aboard for ocean crossing, and Gallivanter has three cabins. I maintain an easy watch rotation, and Otto the autopilot will do most of the driving. Simple, easy meals are what I prefer, and everybody cooks.

Crew do need the spirit of adventure, however, because you never know what will happen when you're dealing with boats and nature. For example, Gallivanter got clobbered by a runaway vessel in last January's floods of the Brisbane River, so she had to be hauled out for minor repairs — and to avoid more flooding. We did this at a tide-restricted yard at Redland City Marina on Moreton Bay. With the king tides of our winter solstice, my nine-year old son Stu and I launched Gallivanter and began snaking our way through a mangrove creek under the cold silver moonlight on the longest night of the Southern Hemisphere year. For an hour, we strained our eyes to see the reflections from the two dozen markers before finding enough water under our keel to get a solid reading on our depthsounder. Once clear of the channel, I engaged the autopilot, shook the wrinkles out of the main and genoa, and proceeded toward an eight-mile-distant anchorage.

Things were going well under the Southern Cross — until a loud thump shattered the peace just after midnight. A quick survey revealed that, in my haste at the launch, I had neglected to secure all of my lines properly. Stupid me! A bow line had washed over, fouled the prop, and destroyed the ceramic Drive Saver in our shaft coupling. I quickly anchored and found the spare Drive Saver I had purchased when installing the engine back in St. Thomas eight years before. I was able to unwind the rope-jam from within, replace the coupling, and make it to the secure anchorage by 3:30 a.m. Stuart slept through the entire ordeal.

Thinking more about the delivery to the Virgin Islands, I've decided to include the Chagos Archipelago in the itinerary, as I know I would regret not including this extraordinary Indian Ocean stop. What's funny about paper charts is they can make potential destinations seem way out of the way, even when they only involve only a few extra miles. For example, one time we were at the Greek island of Santorini about to sail 475 miles trip to Malta. The north coast of Crete was down at the bottom of the chart, so just out of curiosity, I added the ancient capital of Crete as a waypoint. It turned out that it would only add 18 miles to our 475-mile passage.

By the way, I'm told that Harry Heckel, the oldest person to sail around the world solo twice, published a book titled Around the World in 80 Years. I'm hoping one of my crew will bring a copy. We met Harry in Borneo in 2000. While in Norfolk, Virginia in '05 or '06, we presented Harry with a certificate of achievement on behalf of Latitude. If I'm not mistaken, Harry is now 97 years old!

As much as my family has enjoyed Australia, Cath's homeland, we're eager to move back to our adopted home of the U.S. Virgin Islands. For one thing, I've been driving a car ferry back and forth across the Brisbane River — every five minutes for 13.5 hours a live-long day — for the past 10 months. I can't wait to quit this mind-numbing job in three weeks and cast off Gallivanter's lines to begin sailing home to the Caribbean. By the way, I've just completed everything necessary to upgrade my Aussie marine license from a Master 5 to a Master 4, which means I can move up from driving 80-ft vessels to 230-ft vessels. It was a major pain in the ass getting the upgrade, but the sea time I've gained working here in the Land of Oz is also applicable to upgrading my USCG ticket when I get back to the Land of the Free.

For those interested in crewing on Gallivanter, I can be reached at Please do not contact me if: 1) You're not super enthused about the opportunity, or 2) You're not sure you can take the time off from whatever else you're doing or family obligations. Thanks.

Kirk McGeorge
Gallivanter, Hylas 49
Brisbane, Australia


I watched the terrific June 3 'Lectronic video the Wanderer took from onboard while the MOD70 Orion sailed across Banderas Bay at speeds up to 35 knots. Pretty cool!

Then, in the June 24 'Lectronic and on page 72 of the July Latitude, I saw the photo and story of the MOD70 Spindrift flipping over and breaking her mast during the La Route du Princes series in Dun Loaghaire, Ireland.

Since the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca were lucky enough to be aboard Orion for that sail on Banderas Bay, I'd like to know whether you were concerned about the tri flipping or whether you felt pretty secure.

Bill McClintock
San Jose

Bill — Neither of us was concerned about flipping for three reasons: 1) Orion had a great crew headed up by multihull and MOD70 guru Steve Ravussin; 2) Until that time, no MOD70 had flipped, and the whole bunch of them had raced across the Atlantic at extremely high speeds; And, 3) because the winds on Banderas Bay were steady without any strong puffs. San Francisco Bay is a much different proposition, as the wind is often very gusty, so we hope Orion is being sailed conservatively. By the way, Orion reportedly hit 42 knots of boat speed in 20 knots of true wind, just shy of the 44.15 knots Emirates Team New Zealand hit just as this issue was going to press.

Last summer we also got a chance to sail the 74-ft foiler l'Hydroptére across San Francisco Bay at 34 knots. Our impression — and it's nothing more than that — is that l'Hydroptére might be more stable than a MOD70 in gusts because she seems to be able to translate the power into speed more quickly.


I just read Latitude's comments on the capsizing of the MOD70 Spindrift and watched the video of the incident. I agree, I didn't see any sign that the mainsail was eased at all. From the photo in 'Lectronic, it looks as though the MOD70s may have a semicircular mainsheet traveler. This is what I have on Pantera, 26 feet of track. With this arrangement, I only need 30 inches of travel on my mainsheet. I get this from a hydraulic cylinder in the boom and a hand pump at the helm. All these do is control the twist in the main, and I usually don't have to adjust it more than six inches between sailing upwind and downwind.

In my view there are a number of benefits to this system. First, hydraulics are ideal for high-load, short-travel applications. Second, it eliminates the potential of the mainsheet's getting snarled in the cockpit, as you'd need a very long mainsheet in order to ease off enough to depower. Third, my 'mainsheet', all 30 inches of travel of it, can be adjusted with a valve for fine-tuning and 'blown' with a press of either of the 'panic buttons', one that's at the helm and the other in the bulkhead at the head of my berth. I have never used either panic button, no matter if I was racing or cruising.

The other method to de-power Pantera is the 26-ft curved track with a custom machined car from Lewmar. The traveller control line is two-part, comes off the winch on the centerline, and can be brought into the main cabin and left on the dinette table an arm's length from my pilot berth, which is at the same height. While I can completely depower my main without ever getting out of my bunk, I've never needed to do it.

All the winches on Pantera are self-tailers, but consistent with my previously stated Three Laws of Multihull Sailing, all sheets come out of the self-tailers into vertically mounted cam cleats on bulkheads or coamings — when they aren't being hand-held. This means they can instantly be snap-released from anywhere in the cockpit. To review the Three Laws of Multihull Sailing: 1) All sheets must be free and ready to run; 2) All sheets must be free and ready to run; 3) All sheets must be free and ready to run.

So what happened on the MOD70 Spindrift in Ireland? From a couple of angles it seems clear the main was not eased at all. A racing crew should have been able to do that. Gusts usually show on the water in advance. Someone should have seen them coming. Someone should have been hand-holding the mainsheet. And someone else should have been ready on the traveller, too.

I don't know how mainsheets are controlled on MOD70s. Maybe the loads were too high to release the sheets. Maybe something jammed. If so, why wasn't the traveller eased? It sure looks like a full-width traveller from the photo. Can you remember from your sail on Orion? I would like to know.

Another issue I'm sure you're aware of is that boats like the MOD70s, and to a much lesser extent Pantera, bring the apparent wind so far forward that you don't have to ease the main much to have it luffing completely. So my guess is the capsize was the result of some crew error or something jamming.

By the way, Pantera turned 17 years old on July 6. She's got 52,000 miles, all of them right side up.

Bob Smith
Pantera, 40-ft custom cat
Victoria B.C./La Paz

Readers — Even more impressive than 52,000 miles is the fact that Bob has twice singlehanded this high-performance cat from Mexico to Victoria, B.C., often in high winds, and never once used the engine.

The MOD70 mainsheet traveller looks to be about a 20-ft-long semi-circle. Not only does it not go from one side of the boat to the other, it doesn't go from one side of the main cockpit to the other.


It was sad reading about GD 'Zen' French and his wife 'Lady Zen' abandoning their Iroquois 30 catamaran Zen II 250 miles out into the Pacific, and his analysis that he was "not a sailor" because he discovered that he didn't like bluewater sailing. I disagree with the notion that disliking offshore sailing means that one is not a sailor.

Sailing means being on a boat that is propelled by the wind, and being a sailor means being able to control and otherwise maneuver the boat. The vast majority of sailors never sail offshore, regardless of how much they may dream about it. Day and coastal sailing are just as much sailing as bluewater sailing, you just get to shore more often.

While most of my sailing miles were offshore, they were all from one voyage, the 1995 Tahiti Cup from San Francisco and the delivery back via Honolulu. So none of my sailing except that one voyage has been offshore. But I consider myself a sailor because I sailed a lot.

While I wouldn't trade my offshore experience for anything — I'd been dreaming of bluewater sailing since well before I was in high school — there were definitely some very negative aspects of it that I did not realize until I did it, starting with sleep deprivation. I have no interest in sailing offshore again, except under a very narrow set of circumstances — 50-ft cat of my own in the tropics — that probably won't occur. Does that mean I'm not a sailor? Of course not.

I hope that Latitude and/or someone else will encourage Zen and Lady Zen to continue sailing, even if that sailing is not offshore.

Boatless in Berkeley

B in B — It seems to us that you can certainly be a 'sailor' without ever leaving the confines of Belvedere Lagoon, Lake Merritt, the Oakland Estuary or San Francisco Bay. Bluewater sailing is a niche that only appeals to a few.


I'm taking advantage of Latitude's kind offer to let authors review their own books. I've written Celestial Navigation Without Almanacs, which covers noon and Polaris sights with a sextant, and a variety of non-sextant methods using stars and sunrise and sunset times to get both latitude and longitude to within about a fourth of a degree — near enough to make sure you don’t miss that island if you find yourself without GPS. All the sun and star information needed to do this until 2050 is included in the book, compiled from data published by the US Naval Observatory. This means you don't need to buy nautical almanacs each year or keep sight reduction tables.

I recently sailed from Oregon to La Paz aboard my Columbia 8.7 Witch of Endor. On the way, I was able to practice some of the methods taught in my book.

Sailing from Ensenada to La Paz last fall, I noticed two obvious — even stunning – ways to get your latitude from the stars while sailing down the Pacific coast of Baja in November. Shortly after dark in November, Orion, the best known of all constellations, rises in the east. At the latitude of San Diego, just after Orion has risen, the line between its two brightest stars, Betelgeuse and Rigel, is exactly parallel to the horizon. As you sail south, this line starts to be at an angle to the horizon. By Turtle Bay, Rigel, the more southern of the two stars, rises eight minutes before Betelgeuse, and the line between the two stars is at an angle of 5° to the horizon just after Orion has risen. This is because we are sailing around a curved Earth, and Turtle Bay is 5° of latitude south of San Diego. San Diego is at N 32° 40’ (at Pt. Loma) and Turtle Bay is at N 27° 40’. As we keep sailing south, this angle becomes about 8° at Mag Bay, and 10° at Cabo. At any point along the way, we can find our latitude by measuring this angle, and subtracting it from the latitude of San Diego.

There is another star to steer your boat by on this voyage. Once you are about 3° south of San Diego, at about 11 p.m, you will see a bright star, Achernar, just above the southern horizon, sitting there all by itself, beckoning you southward. But to find out how to use Achernar to navigate southward in November, you will have to go to my website!

I have a number of pages at my website for Celestial Navigation Without Almanacs, including one that describes in more detail how to get your latitude from the stars while sailing south to Baja, with color diagrams of what the stars look like along the way. There are also excerpts from the book, a short fictional account about using the book to find Hawaii after being struck by lightning at sea, and information about how to purchase the ebook. You can find the main web page, with links to the others off it, at

Mark Mason
Witch of Endor, Columbia 8.7
La Paz, Baja California Sur


In my opinion, the liveaboard community near Oakland's Union Park adds to the whole 'vibe' here in Oakland. And there is so much to like about this town. Having visited many parts of the world — including Venezuela, Egypt, Mexico, Pakistan, Britain, Germany and more — I have to say that while Oakland definitely has its problems — on which Latitude seems to continually focus to the exclusion of everything else related to this city — there is much to like about it.

In particular, for a city of 400,000, it is one of the most diverse cities I've ever been in. I ride the bus frequently with my grandchildren and they love listening to all the different languages and getting into all sorts of conversations with fellow passengers. For its size, Oakland also offers a huge choice of cuisines, and at a much more reasonable price that most other towns around. We also have the best weather in the Bay Area. And there is probably a higher density of beautiful old Victorians in Oakland than anywhere else around.

I frequently drive by Union Park, and when I have time, I often stop and park there just to look at that liveaboard community. Sometimes I go with my grandchildren, who are fascinated by it. It's one of the little communities that makes Oakland what it is. I have had a chance to stop and chat with some of the residents, and have never had an unpleasant conversation. 'Live and let live' seems to be their operating philosophy.

Latitude implies that maybe the city wants to get rid of this community because it is a 'crime center' where the residents think they are 'above the law' — although you present no evidence. True, you don't say it directly, but it certainly is implied. Having lived where I do for all these years, I have gotten pretty familiar with the evidence of 'crime centers'. One is broken window glass on the street or sidewalk. Another is used condoms on the ground. I have never seen either of these in the parking lot right by this community.

In fact, anybody who takes a look at Oakland politicians' campaign contribution disclosure forms, which are on file, will see that the real estate developers are a major power in Oakland city politics. And they have their eyes on the entire shoreline. There's nothing wrong with developing some nice housing, parks and walking areas, but the developers see communities such as the one near Oakland's Union Park as an eyesore that brings down property values. Plus it galls them just to think that somebody is living somewhere for free. It's just as if they are trying to get some of the artist/hippie collective housing out of the shoreline, and to close down the San Leandro Marina. I'll bet anything that's who is behind this drive to get rid of these liveaboards.

As far as crime goes in Oakland — the issue on which Latitude seems to focus to the exclusion of everything else — yes, it's a real problem. But I've lived in the Oakland flatlands for 44 years, and I ain't dead yet. But I will admit, Oakland definitely isn't for snobs.

John Reimann
Y-Knot, Catalina 36

John — Having attended elementary, junior high and high school in Oakland, we have more than a passing knowledge of the place. We've lived in East Oakland, North Oakland, in the Montclair District, and after going to UC Berkeley, the Dimond District. The first and only time we ever levitated was in the back of a pizza parlor in East Oakland's Eastmont Mall. We began our journalism career working for The Montclarion in Montclair and later down on Piedmont Avenue, which is also where the early issues of Latitude were produced.

Knowing Oakland as we do, the thing that really pisses us off is that we know what a really great place it inherently is — and could be — but how dreadfully far it has fallen from its potential. (Yes, we know there are still some really beautiful and reasonably safe places in Oakland, and that some areas are rising from ruins.) But when violent crime is a never-ending worry, the quality of education dismal, and the city government highly suspect, the Mediterranean climate, the many wooded areas, and the fertile flatland soil don't count for much. At least not to us. Neither does the 'vibe' or varied cuisine.

While our parents lived in Oakland until almost their passing, we decamped for hippie Marin in our early 20s and have never regretted it. We believe the most important responsibility of government is to provide a safe environment for all citizens, and that Oakland has failed dreadfully in that regard. Since you've lived in Oakland for 44 years, you have no idea how liberating it is not to have to worry about having to lock the front door to your house or your car, to say nothing of not having to worry about the personal safety of your kids.

We think diversity is grossly overrated when compared to things like personal safety and respect for other people. We don't care of what color or sexual orientation anybody is as long as they're non-violent, value education, don't peddle drugs or flesh, keep their residences in reasonable shape, and don't own pit bulls. Before you make a knee-jerk reaction to our politically incorrect indifference to diversity, remember that by choice we spend about a quarter of the year based out of a very poor village in Mexico and another quarter of the year in either West Indian or French parts of the Caribbean. We also have small businesses in Mexico and the Caribbean, and travel to considerably more countries on a regular basis than most people. One thing we've learned is there are many places where poverty is not seen as an excuse for violent crime.

Like anybody who takes taxis, we're exposed to countless immigrants from all over Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the old Soviet Union. They all think they've died and gone to heaven, not because things have been given to them, but because they now have an opportunity to make a decent life for themselves and their families. We love that attitude. As for varied cuisine, we get our fix in the dives of downtown L.A. and the various 'towns'. No snob or pretentious food for us, thank you.

We live aboard about six months a year, so we certainly don't have anything against that concept. But we do believe that liveaboard vessels should be required to follow the same laws as all other vessels when it comes to navigability, safety and environmental requirements. Harbormasters from one end of the state to the other will tell you that when you start giving passes and making excuses for illegal and irresponsible behavior, liveaboard communities devolve and become havens for a host of problems. One need only look at what happened at Clipper Cove and the current state of Richardson Bay. Just because you live on a boat or leave a boat at anchor shouldn't mean you get a pass from laws or personal responsibility — even if you live in Oakland.


When we set sail from San Diego as part of the 2007 Baja Ha-Ha, we had no idea that thousands of miles and years would pass between us participants, and that we would be forever connected by 'learning how to Ha-Ha' together. Despite the fact that we lived so close to the ocean, we didn’t have the benefit of living near a thriving sailing community prior to the Ha-Ha, so all of our cruise planning was done reading websites created by other cruisers, reading books, and dutifully reading Latitude 38.

When we first registered for the Ha-Ha in 2007, it finally became real that we were going cruising. More real than when we'd sold our home, quit our jobs, and loaded our Morgan 452 Ketching Up with 63 lbs of home-schooling books. The Baja Ha-Ha was what we considered the real start of our sailing adventure.

For me, those final pre-Ha-Ha days in San Diego were all about 'kid boats'. If I was behind someone with an equally large load at Trader Joe's or Costco, I’d casually ask “Are y'all doing the Ha-Ha?" (We Southern girls don’t hesitate before asking personal questions of total strangers.) We were in full frenzy mode by the time we got to the Kick-Off Party, and all my social energies had been zapped by last-minute preparations and the reality of 'Oh my God, we are really doing this!'

But before we really met any 'kid boats', we'd begun friendships with Airwego, Acapella, Wahoo (the lone powerboat) and Cirque. Despite the fact that we had three bouncy boys, we were welcomed onto all these boats — more than just once, too, thank you very much — and our boys felt right at home with their new cruising families.

When we said our final goodbye to Airwego in La Paz, we endured the first of many boat ‘break-ups’. Why hadn't anybody warned us about this heartfelt pain in any of the cruising books? Give me sloppy seas and gusty winds any day, as the saying goodbye to cruising friends really sucks, pardon my French.

When you become cruising friends, you share everything: the weather, boat parts, provisions, adventures, life histories, taxis, holidays, therapy, charts — and on and on. Who else but a cruiser will loan you $700 in a Costco in Acapulco knowing you only by your boat name? Who else but a cruiser offers you their old dinghy for free when they hear over the cruisers' net that yours was stolen? There is absolutely nothing like a shared cruising experience to bring total strangers together. Our initial cruising goal was passports full of stamps from foreign countries. Our trip really became about our new cruising friends and the great adventures we shared.

So our hearts were heavy when we received the word from Airwego that, after a successful Pacific Puddle Jump and months exploring in the South Pacific, they had hit a reef. They were safe, but their boat was lost and their adventure over. And when one of our favorite cruising families separated after returning to land, we tried to imagine how that could have happened, since they were frozen in our minds as the happy, salty and sun-kissed crew on our final happy hours in Z-town.

And most recently, there are no words and or explanations that will make any sense of the heartbreak of Laura Willerton, Louis Kruk's beloved wife, losing her courageous battle with cancer. Louis and Laura were our dear friends. Our boys developed their VHF confidence hailing Cirque, as Louis always responded, parroting the pronunciation he heard from two of our crew members who’d lost their front teeth, and referred to our boat as “Ketchin Gup.” We spent many sunsets together, enjoying a drink and reflecting on wonderful days. And tonight, as we watch the sunset from our home in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, we feel a world away, knowing this is Louis’ first of many sunsets without his wife Laura by his side.

There were moments I wondered how I ended up on a boat surrounded by a summer squall, with lightning close enough to make the hair on my arms stand up at attention. Or how I got stuck in a leaking boat in the middle of the first recorded tropical storm — thank you, Alma — in Costa Rica. Or found ourselves floating backward in the middle of the Bay of Panama after the wind died and our prop shaft broke. But there were many more moments, a lifetime of moments, that I will never forget, all filled with cruising friends who taught us how to Ha-Ha.

Fair winds, Laura Willerton, fair winds.

Ashley DesMarteau, wife of a Gentleman Pirate
with former cruising kids Griffin, Wils & Cooper
Ketching Up, Morgan 452
South Carolina


On a recent trip to Santa Barbara, I noticed several placards noting projects that have received funding from Cal Boating. The first project is the repair of the launch ramp. This seems like a worthwhile use of funds, as it serves the general boating, kayaking, Jet Skiing, fishing and paddleboarding public. I call this one 'good'.

The next placard indicates that Marina 1 is to have several of its dock fingers upgraded and repaired. The unusual thing about the docks in Santa Barbara is that the rights to use the space are sold to the new boat owner by the prior boat owner. To somewhat legitimize this process, the Santa Barbara Harbor Department charges a fee in excess of $300 per foot of boat length when a slip is transferred. So the buyer of a 30-ft boat will have to pay the Harbor Department $9,000, plus $30,000 to $40,000 to the seller for the right to use the slip. Keep in mind the docks are owned by the public and maintained with public monies. So in this case, Cal Boating is spending its funds to support a few wealthy individuals. As the docks are improved, the value of the slip should increase, thus enriching the existing owners when they sell the rights to the slip.

I think this is roughly the same as owning the rights to use a parking place on a city street in front of one's home. I hate to think what it would cost to purchase a parking place in downtown San Francisco. So I call this upgrade of Marina 1 as a 'bad' for the general public.

The last placard piqued my curiosity. It was at an end-tie that was probably 60 or more feet long, and said it was being made three feet wider. This project is a windfall profit for whoever the slip holder is. I call this one 'ugly'.

Because of the unique structure of slip ownership in Santa Barbara, I believe that Cal Boating projects are enriching a few wealthy and well-connected boat owners.

Please do not include my name or boat name as I would probably never be able to get another guest slip in Santa Barbara. I'm afraid that I'll then be stuck in cold and windy Ventura Harbor eating sponge cake and Pop Tarts.

Name Withheld By Request
30-ft sloop

N.W.B.R. — Unlike some places, we think Santa Barbara is a city where you can criticize a government decision and not have to worry about extreme retaliation.

Philosophically, we strongly agree with the concept that private citizens shouldn't be able to profit from owning the right to public property. But berthing rights are a little more complicated than they might seem on the surface, and government agencies up and down the coast have struggled to find equitable solutions.

The 'slip can go with the boat' policy started innocently enough. If you wanted to sell your Santa Barbara-based Cal 25 to someone else in Santa Barbara and the buyer couldn't keep the berth, where was s/he supposed the keep the boat? If the buyer was told s/he would have to take the boat to Ventura, it would be a deal-breaker. In places such as Santa Barbara, where the demand for slips has long been much greater than the supply, wise sellers realized that their Cal 25 with a slip was more valuable than a Cal 25 with a slip in less-desired Ventura or other places where slips were plentiful.

With Santa Barbara's seemingly never-ending increase in desirability over the last 30 or so years, the premium for a slip going with a boat has skyrocketed. If you have a sinking 40-ft wreck, she was worth about $40,000 — if the right to the slip came with the wreck.

There are, of course, negatives to slips going with boats where there isn't enough supply. First, it allows for private individuals to profit greatly from public property. It meant entry to boat ownership in Santa Barbara became extremely expensive. And the combination of the increasing value of slips and Santa Barbara's low slip fees discouraged boatowners from selling their boats — even if they never used them.

Latitude has always thought there should be a 'use it or lose' it policy for berths where they are in short supply. Since ocean access by boat in those areas is limited, it could be made more available if boatowners were required to take their boats out 24 times a year, which is only twice a month. If the boat owners don't take their boat out the minimum number of times, they would either have to pay double the normal slip fees or give up the slip. If they still didn't use the boat at least 24 times a year the next two years, they would lose their slip. We think such a policy would greatly open up the number of slips — and increase the number of new and lower-income sailors — in places like Santa Barbara. As brilliant as our idea is, nobody has ever seemed to like it.

Places such as Santa Barbara have long been wise to folks with rights to slips being able to profit greatly from them. The argument against stopping boats from going with slips cold turkey is that people who have paid the going rate — $1,000 or so per foot — for the right to a slip would suddenly lose their $25,000 to $500,000 'investment'. After a tremendous amount of discussion, Santa Barbara came up with what they believe is a fair compromise solution, which involves the harbor's getting a cut of the action. Since it's a compromise, there are always going to be people who are unhappy with the program. While we don't think Santa Barbara's plan is good as our 'use it or lose it', we think it's reasonable.


I'm very happy to hear that Doña de Mallorca is all right after rolling over twice and ending up on a berm in a Chevy Tahoe after being run off the road on the way to Punta Mita, Mexico. Just one question. You indicated the treatment she received at the San Javier Hospital in Nuevo Vallarta was "not cheap." Did you mean in U.S. terms or Mexican terms? Not cheap in the United States probably could have meant at least multiple thousands of dollars.

Jimmie Zinn
Dry Martini, Morgan 38
Pt. Richmond

Jimmy — The ambulance that picked up de Mallorca asked if she wanted to go to the public hospital in San Pancho or the private hospital in Nuevo Vallarta. She couldn't get a CAT scan at the former, but she could at the latter. Doña, a nurse, decided that a CAT scan would be a smart idea to see if she'd suffered any hairline fractures or other problems.

The crew of the ambulance — which was free — couldn't have treated her better. And entering the San Javier Hospital in Nuevo Vallarta was like being admitted to a hospital patient's ultimate fantasy. Everything at the San Javier Hospital was brand new and sparkled so brightly that you needed sunglasses. The ratio of hospital staff to patients was about 25 to 1. Most important, the doctor seemed competent and had unlimited time to spend with her.

De Mallorca's bill came to $3,300 USD. That's very high by Mexican public health hospital standards, and even some other private Mexican hospitals, but we suspect it's comparable if not lower than it would have been in the States.

It was an interesting comparison to de Mallorca's vertigo episode during the SoCal Ta-Ta that saw her spend eight hours at the Little Company Hospital in Torrance and four more hours at the Kaiser Hospital in South City. While the staff was great at the Little Company, there were 86 other emergency patients, with moaning people on gurneys everywhere. Naturally, the doctors and nurses didn't have unlimited time with patients. At San Javier, the doctors and nurses had all the time in the world. The Little Company/Kaiser bill came to about $14,000, and included a CAT scan and some other tests. De Mallorca's Kaiser health insurance paid for almost all of the first incident, and they've said they will pay for most of the incident in Mexico, too.

Based on reports from various friends who have had surgery for things like pacemakers, torn Achilles tendons, appendicitis and such, the costs are about one-quarter of that in the United States and the level of care has been excellent.

By the way, Jimmie, the next letter is for you.


After Latitude started the 'Where Are They Now' feature about boats from peoples' past, Jimmie Zinn asked about the whereabouts of In Lieu Of, the Newport 30 on which he had his first wild sailing adventure. She currently lives on the Oakland Estuary at Pacific Marina.

Matt Peterson
FastBottoms Hull Diving


As you know, Louis Vuitton is asking for a $3 million refund from the America's Cup organizers because there aren't the promised eight or more teams in the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series. To me, this proves that this America's Cup is not about sailing. What happened to the days when the actual competitors — Ted Turner, for example — actually sailed their boats? Instead, we now have very wealthy proxies, who are rounding up hired hands to do the on-the-water trivia, while they are busy bickering over TV schedules, reserved zones on the Bay and other forms of income. I'm also not happy about the fact that, whereas America's Cup entries used to represent a country, they now have mercenary crews who have no relation to whatever country they are supposedly sailing for.

I find the entire America's Cup unbecoming, and don't believe it promotes an interest in sailing. It stinks!

Anneke Dury
Paramour, Offshore 54
San Francisco

Anneke — Louis Vuitton has been an America's Cup sponsor for the last 30 years — except for the 2007 Cup, when they dropped out because they said "commercialism" had overtaken the sailing competition. Prior to Louis Vuitton's picking up the tab for the Challenger Series, the challengers had to split the cost among themselves.

In return for sponsoring the Challenger Series for the 34th America's Cup, Louis Vuitton ponied up $10 million — about the equivalent of the retail price of 270 of their leather hammocks — against a guarantee that at least eight teams would take part in the Louis Vuitton Cup. To provide some context, there have been anywhere from seven to 13 teams taking part in the Louis Vuitton Cups since 1980. As a few people have noticed, there are only three challenging teams this time around, and three is fewer than eight. Little wonder that Louis Vuitton isn't happy. By the way, Louis Vuitton products have always been a little rich for our blood, but we've always liked their association with the America's Cup.

We agree that the America's Cup has become more about business than sailing, in the same way that the NBA and the NFL are more about business than basketball and football respectively. We'll leave it to each sailor to decide whether that's a good thing. But from the very beginning, Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts made it clear that they were all about trying to make the 34th America's Cup a mainstream made-for-television sporting spectacle that attracted a big audience and therefore big sponsors — in the same vein as soccer, baseball, football and basketball. They made bold moves with the boats and the courses in an attempt to achieve that goal. Alas, at this point it seems they were too bold with the boats, which have turned out to be too extreme for safety, and too expensive for all but a few billionaires. And to date there is little evidence that sailboat racing will ever attract a mass audience.

As tangential as we believe the 34th version of the America's Cup is to the sailing that 99% of us enjoy, we hope that Oracle retains the Cup and that it's held again in San Francisco. But with much less expensive one-designs that will attract a minimum of 12 entries, and far fewer delusions of grandeur. After all, San Francisco Bay is the best America's Cup arena, and if done properly, the 35th America's Cup could be an entertaining sideshow to mainstream sailing.


I saw Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa compete in the first-ever battle between AC72s. It looked to me as if the Kiwis came to San Francisco to bring the Cup back to New Zealand while the Italians came to sell shoes and handbags.

Louis Kruk
Cirque, Beneteau First 42s7
San Francisco



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