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November 2013

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The best quote to come out of the 34th America's Cup was from Jim Clark before the start of the America's Cup finals: "I don't support cheaters [Oracle Team USA]." Well, here's another Yank for fair play.

Nick Nicolle
Rise & Shine, Colin Archer ketch
Langkawi, Malaysia

Readers — Let's make sure everyone understands the background of this Silicon Valley spat. Oracle's Larry Ellison was an adopted child who grew up in humble circumstances. The University of Illinois dropout moved to Northern California in 1966, and later had to sell his Berkeley liveaboard sailboat to buy food. But with an investment of $1,200 in 1977, he co-founded a company that a few years later would become Oracle, and he is now personally worth about $40 billion. Much of the fortune is a result of Ellison's holding on to Oracle stock in the early days instead of giving in and taking money from venture capitalists.

Then there is Jim Clark of Plainview, Texas, a high school dropout who was introduced to electronics in the Navy and during night classes at Tulane University. In 1982 Clark, by then an associate professor of engineering at Stanford, created Silicon Graphics with some graduate students. The company became the world leader in the production of Hollywood movie visual effects and 3-D imaging. In 1993, Clark and Marc Andreessen came up with the first easy-to-use software for browsing the web. This software became Netscape. Clark's $5 million investment in that company earned him a cool $2 billion. He was subsequently involved in several other start-ups. According to Forbes, Clark was worth over $1 billion in 2005. After the financial crash of 2007, Clark fell off the Forbes list of billionaires. But he made huge bets on Apple at under $100 during the recession, which have subsequently increased as much as fivefold, returning him to the billionaire ranks.

While Clark never had Ellison money, he'd made enough to be able to hand over $125 million in a divorce, and commission the Frers 156 Hyperion (subsequently sold), the 292-ft schooner Athena, and the 135-ft J Class Hanuman. He's currently attempting to have a 90-ft racing boat built in secret in the Northeast. Clark gave Stanford an endowment of $150 million, the largest ever, reportedly to assuage slight pangs of guilt at having spent so much money on Athena.

Enough of the backgrounds. When the International Jury heard the case against Oracle over the illegal modifications to their AC45s in the World Series, crewmember Dirk de Ridder was kicked off the boat, Oracle was assessed a two-point deduction and some other relatively minor penalties were handed down. There wasn't any — or at least not enough — evidence to prove that any of the Oracle higher-ups were culpable.

Clark found it impossible to believe the modifications had been solely the work of Oracle team grunts. He wanted a confession and an apology from Oracle. When none was forthcoming, Clark bought the biggest New Zealand flag he could find and flew it from the foremast of Athena ­— which was prominently stern-tied at the America's Cup Village next to Ellison's two boats. An intermediary reportedly was dispatched to Athena to ask Clark to replace the Kiwi flag with an American flag. Clark refused, and flew the Kiwi flag to the very end.

Not to take anything away from Oracle's miraculous victory in the America's Cup, we, like Clark, find it hard to believe that higher-ups in the Oracle organization didn't know about the modifications to the AC45s. Personally, we doubt that Ellison was that hands-on, but how could Coutts not know?


Thanks for the humor in the September 27 'Lectronic following the 34th America's Cup. I laughed out loud at the publisher's photo and caption of the young lady who "attempted to foil on a puddle in the America's Cup Village." After all the highs and lows of spectacular racing versus big money skullduggery, the laugh was greatly appreciated.

Latitude just keeps getting better with age. Thanks again and keep up the great work!

Eric Beckman

Eric — If you laughed out loud, it makes us feel as if we've done something really good. There is not enough laughter in this world.


Like Marla Forrest, our boat was also the subject of a foiling fly-by by the Oracle AC72. Unlike Forrest, we found it to be absolutely thrilling!

Chuck & Ellie Longanecker
Cat Ballou, Catana 42


In the October issue, Marla Forrest complained about nearly being sideswiped by the Oracle AC72. I'm confused as to which boat had the right of way.

In response to Bob White's letter about the 'If you can't beat 'em, cheat 'em' ethos in motor racing, I remember doing a race aboard a friend's boat in Monterey years ago. We were way ahead of everyone else, but just barely touched a mark when rounding it. Although nobody else would ever have known — and I don't think most of the crew did either — my friend did the 720 necessary to absolve himself of the infraction.

When I commended him on his honesty, my friend shrugged and said, "No point in winning if you can't do it fair and square." Maybe Larry Ellison and his crew should think about that.

P.S. I will miss LaDonna Bubak's writing, but I hope she and her husband Rob have a wonderful trip, and that she'll write about it for Latitude readers!

Mo Newman

Mo — There are some sports that have to rely entirely on the integrity of the participants, and sailing is certainly one of them. That being the case, it's incomprehensible to us that anyone would cheat, as you'd only be cheating yourself. Of course, when you get into big-time racing, other considerations — such as M-O-N-E-Y — intrude.

LaDonna might say she's leaving at the end of the year, but we doubt it, as Latitude is sort of like Hotel California. We, for example, have unsuccessfully been trying to escape for the last quarter-century. Nonetheless, LaDonna's Rob is working feverishly on a plan that will enable them to sail all the way from San Francisco to Cabo San Lucas — without having to make any overnight passages. Punta Tosca to Cabo would seem to be the biggest challenge to that plan.


Was it legal to use an autopilot in the America's Cup? We ask because Oracle clearly used an Autohelm. Look at 19:20 in the video of the final race. There were other examples, also.

As you can see from the video, the Oracle cat is clearly going in a straight line, and Spithill doesn't even have his hands on the wheel. Then you see him push a button to take it off Autohelm, at which point he starts to steer manually. We know that Oracle had an autostabilization system for the foils, which apparently was legal, too.

Name Withheld By Request
Planet Earth

N.W.B.R. — We don't think it's Spithill that you're seeing, but the temporary helmsman on the leeward side getting ready to briefly hold the wheel when Oracle jibes and Spithill has to sprint from one side of the cat to the other.

Autohelm is one brand name for an autopilot, and Oracle didn't have an Autohelm or any autopilot. If Oracle had an autostabilization system, the Measurement Committee — which measured the boat no fewer than 15 times during the Cup — must have been wearing blinders.


What a huge relief it is to learn that Oracle's win was, as Latitude put it, "legit." Apparently you have the requisite knowledge to declare that the technology underlying the "modification" Oracle made to their boat had nothing to do with the dramatic reversal of their fortunes that can only be described as among the most astronomically improbable outcomes in the history of sport. Sometimes the sea eventually does give up her secrets.

Te Kanawai

Te — And sometimes the highly improbable does occur. In the time since the Cup ended, a lot more has been revealed. Oracle's victory came down to the fact that Oracle made a number of small modifications to their boat — Matthew Sheahan revealed several of them — which, combined with major improvements in their sailing technique, allowed them to greatly improve their performance upwind. Specifically, it gave them another 'gear' that the Kiwis admitted they didn't have. Mind you, the Kiwis were the first to admit that both boats were dramatically faster at the end of the Cup than at the beginning. Grant Dalton, head of the Kiwi syndicate, explained that, at the beginning of the Cup, the best speed they could maintain through a tack was 10 knots. By the end of the Cup, they were able to maintain 14 knots through the tacks. The learning 'curve' was all but vertical.

For conspiracy buffs who think the Cup was rigged, consider two things. First, neither Dean Barker, Grant Dalton, nor anybody else on the Kiwi team believes they were cheated — other than in the sense they didn't have as much money as Oracle. And second, the only thing that kept the Kiwis from taking the Cup to Auckland was the fact that the wind died in the 13th race shortly before the Kiwis could cross the finish line. Consequently, any conspiracy theories must include the conviction that Ellison can control the weather.


In September 27's 'Lectronic there was the following statement: "There seems to be a lot of confusion about who is and who isn't an American. You don't have to live in the United States to be an American."

I don't think that's so confusing. If somebody lives in any of the Americas — North, South, Central — wouldn't you say they were also Americans? I think residents of the United States were called Americans because nobody except the Mexicans had a shorter term — gringos — to refer to us. What were the options? U.S.'ans, pronounced 'Oozens'? 'Statesians'? Gringos works for Mexicans, but I get the feeling that 'Americans' aren't particularly fond of that term.

In the early days of our cruising, I remember someone asking where we were from. When I answered, "America," she said, "Well, so are we. We're from such-and-such a province of Canada. Where are you from?" What a gracious way for that person to make the point that residents of the United States are a bit cheeky to usurp two entire continents and an isthmus as their own.

Maybe Latitude readers could come up with a better term for us than 'American'.

P.S. In 1986 we went cruising "for a few years." After 24 years and 50+ countries, we are still cruising.

Jeanne Pockel
Watermelon, Jeanneau Sun Fizz 38
Green Cove Springs, FL

Jeanne — While it might be a little informal for some occasions, we think 'Yanks' is the most appropriate term. At least it's on a par with the British being called 'Brits', the New Zealanders being called 'Kiwis', the Canadians being called 'Canucks', and the Australians being called 'Aussies'.

As for whether Americans like being called 'gringos', we think it's all about whether the word is used affectionately or with disdain. As with all words, the true meaning is not what you find in the dictionary, but in how it is used. Which is why, for better or worse, the 'N' word can express both extreme affection or extreme hatred.

We'll have more Cup letters later, but for now we're going to change subjects.


I want to extend a heartfelt apology to Robert Mackie and Annie Brennan of the Nellie Dick in Paris for my inappropriate and uncalled-for comments in a Latitude interview about the cuisine of Australia. (Please excuse Sea Level's captain from this apology, as the comment was mine alone.) Having escaped attacks by box jellies, salties, brown snakes and all the rest while in Australia, I find myself in danger of choking on my own foot.

We suffered an adverse move in the exchange rate while cruising Australia, but were pleased to have purchased the kit for our Schionning 1480 catamaran — from Australia — when the exchange rate was such that we could afford it. Had we wanted to buy the same kit when we actually cruised Australia, we wouldn't have been able to buy it.

Australia has one of the few really thriving economies we encountered on our trip around the world, with the $17/hour minimum wage being a real eye-opener. Australia is a grand and hospitable spot. We are pleased to have been able to visit, and happy to have made friends with great people from Bundaberg to Tasmania.

I'm very sorry for making Susan Flieder's delivery of our favorite sailing magazine — with my comments — to her Dutch barge a somewhat unsavory experience.

Kent Milski, Galley Wench
Sea Level, Schionning 49
Lake City, Colorado

Kent — We don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but having traveled to Sydney, and later from Brisbane all the way north to Port Douglas, we must admit that we agreed with your original assessment of Aussie food. Maybe we didn't know where to look, but Aussie food struck us as bland and boring. We would have given anything to find some semblance of the delicious $1 pho dinners we enjoyed on the dark and dirty curbs of Hanoi. Given all the Asians pouring into Australia, we were surprised not to see more 'hole in the wall' Asian places reeking of spices.


Do you have any advice to help me find a crew position for the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) that starts on November 10? And if I had several opportunities, would you recommend that I join a boat that will stop in the Cape Verdes or go all the way across? I'm inclined to go all the way through to have a little more time in Las Palmas, go on daysails to brush up on skills before setting off and, since Tenerife is so close, why not go there, also?

I'm currently in London and will be heading for Las Palmas in the middle of October, but I'm not sure if that will give me enough time to network. Are there any articles I should read or a website I should visit in order to help get an unpaid position? My skills are basic, but I'm confident that I would be an asset to any boat crossing the Atlantic.

I'm so excited about spending some time in the Canary Islands, going across the Atlantic, and then the Caribbean.

Anna Mascaro Fredriksson

Anna — Sounds like a great adventure. You're doing exactly the right thing by getting to the Canary Islands as soon as you can. There is no substitute for being onsite so possible captains/owners can interview you — and you can interview them — face to face. The only other advice we'd give you is to travel light. No owner likes crew with a lot of baggage, be it physical or emotional.

As for whether to join the ARC+, the new offshoot of the ARC that starts early, stops in the Cape Verdes, then finishes in St. Lucia at the same time as the main ARC, our suggestion would be to stick with the main event. After all, it has so many more boats that you'd be likely to make more friends for later sailing in the Caribbean. On the other hand, if you find a really good berth in the ARC+, you might remember that a fish in the hand is worth two flopping around on the hook.


I don't know if Latitude has heard, but last spring the new port captain in La Paz posted notices stating that all work that could introduce contaminants into the water — such as sanding, painting and so forth — now requires a permit from his office. (Fortunately, the clause about scrubbing bottoms was quickly removed.)

I know from personal experience that the port captain and naval officers are patrolling the marinas and will accost/warn/sanction boatowners. Boatowners are also responsible for the actions of any workers, including Mexican workers, they might hire.

A permit can be obtained by submitting three copies of a letter, in Spanish, to the port captain's office detailing the type of work to be done, by whom, the dates, and the materials and steps taken to avoid and/or mitigate pollution. These are stamped, with one forwarded to the navy, one for the boatowner, and one for the marina.

Damon Cruz
Nomad, Horstman 45 tri
Anchorage, AK

Damon — Too often government cures are worse than the diseases. We applaud the La Paz port captain's desire to keep the marina waters clean, but what you've described is about the most inefficient and wasteful way to try to do it. A more environmentally sound solution would be to post signs with the rules at every marina gate to warn boatowners, then patrol for compliance.


I'm a delivery captain and recently underwent fire training again as part of my regular STCW refresher. I also teach safety and offshore sailing skills. I want to respond to the October 14 'Lectronic report from Andrew Rosen of the Beneteau 46 Murar's Dream, which caught fire at Vuda Marina in Fiji. Naturally, I was relieved to read that Rosen and crew were able to deal safely with their fire emergency. The points he made about fire preparedness are mostly good, but I must disagree with two.

His fourth suggestion — to "open areas above [the fire] to let out hot gases" — is dangerous on a boat, as the introduction of fresh oxygen will expand the fire, and the hot gases can ignite new fuel above, such as biminis and mainsails. A better practice would be to seal the doors or hatches to the fire area, which would reduce oxygen and protect personnel and materials from radiation and convection. Then the combustible materials should be removed from directly adjacent areas and bulkheads to eliminate the fire's spreading by conduction.

When possible, such fires should be attacked from below and the side, with wide sweeping motions of dry chem or CO2. In the case of a lazarette fire such as that shown in the accompanying photo, when there is no other point of attack, opening the hatch just enough to point the nozzle of an extinguisher down onto the base of the fire is the safest and most effective solution. CO2 is excellent for contained fires, such as in relatively closed lazarettes, as it immediately starves the fire by forcing out all the oxygen.

Rosen's fifth point implies that water can be used on a fire once the electricity has been disconnected. That's not entirely safe. Electronic devices — especially things like the AC unit noted in the story — may contain capacitors that carry a deadly charge much higher than the supply voltage, and can hold that charge for hours after the electricity has been disconnected. I recommend that water, foam and wet chem never be used on any fire suspected as electrical in origin, even after source disconnection. Only CO2, dry chem and Halon should be used on fires suspected of having an electrical origin. Halon is being deprecated due to its proclivity for releasing toxic HCl into the atmosphere.

Water is generally only effective for organic fires — paper, wood, cotton or wool clothing, and so forth. Dry chem and CO2 extinguishers are significantly better to have and use aboard a boat, as they are more functional than water on a wide range of typical fire classes. The Coast Guard requires uninspected passenger vessels of 26 to 40 feet to carry a minimum of two B-I extinguishers. UPVs of 41 to 66 feet need a minimum of three. B is the classification for oil, gas, grease and fuel fires, while the number following is the weight. I = 2 lbs payload. II = 10 lbs payload, and III a 20-lb payload.

I recommend that cruising vessels of 30 to 60 feet carry a minimum of four B-II extinguishers and learn how to use them on various classes of fires. Knowing how to properly dispense extinguishers is critical to firefighting, as it's not just 'point and shoot'.

Finally, I recommend that all sailors and cruisers take and regularly update training courses on marine firefighting, and conduct drills on their sailboats on a regular basis. Safety training is only as effective as our ability to remember that training when it is needed.

Charlie Wood

Charlie — Thanks for the information. We really should have confirmed all of Mr. Rosen's well-intended advice prior to publishing it.

In the course of just having Profligate surveyed, we reviewed the number and type of extinguishers we have. We carry four of the B-IIs, which have 10-lb payloads, plus about four little ones. In our opinion, knowing there are 10 lbs of dry chem in them is less informative than knowing they are only good for 17 to 25 seconds of spraying. That's not a lot. As a result, we're going to get rid of our smaller secondary extinguishers, which are only good for a ridiculously short 7 to 15 seconds of spraying, and replace them with additional B-IIs. The possibility of fire at sea spooks us more than almost anything.


I am sad to report the passing of Don Sandstrom, my father, at the age of 76. He died suddenly on the evening of his and my mom's 54th wedding anniversary.

Dad always said he was bitten by the adventure travel bug as a result of reading National Geographic as a teenager in the 1950s. During the 1960s he took up sailing, and successfully campaigned a 15-ft Sea Spray catamaran in Southern California. Long before Oracle Team USA — and without the massive budget or team — he spent countless hours in the garage building custom daggerboards and rudders using the latest NASA-developed foil sections. In fact, he capsized during one practice session and, seeing one of his master creations floating away, swam after the board rather than righting the cat.

In the early 1970s he merged the adventure with the sailing and started building Anduril, the family’s 40-ft Cross trimaran. During that effort, at just age 36, he was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease. Despite a debilitating tremor that he would battle for the next 40 years, he launched Anduril in 1975. Packing up his wife, the kids, the cat and the sextant, he took us on a five-year circumnavigation via the Suez and Panama Canals.

Dad, the rest of the family, and Anduril completed a second circumnavigation in the late 1980s by way of the Cape of Good Hope and the Panama Canal.

Between and following those major adventures, my father spent a great deal of time on the Bay Area Multihull Association’s race deck, including for the eventful Doublehanded Farallones races of 1982, 1984 and 1995. He was also a multihull ambassador, and gave freely of his time mentoring, teaching, and encouraging anyone who had an interest in sailing and in multihulls. I know that he touched the lives of many sailors both here in the Bay Area and around the world.

My dad took pleasure in the simple things and in the traditions of the sea. To all who might want to remember or honor him, he would appreciate a toast of the finest spirits aboard, reserving a tot for Neptune, as is fitting for a sailor embarking on his final voyage. He will live in our memories and in the people he inspired.

Donald Sandstrom

Readers — Two family circumnavigations on a self-built 40-ft trimaran in the 1970s and 1980s, before GPS and EPIRBs, and after being diagnosed with Parkinson's. Few West Coast sailors have accomplished so much with so little, even in perfect health. We certainly will have toasted the memory of Don Sandstrom during this year's Ha-Ha.


I enjoyed Latitude's article on Hoarders versus Tossers. It reminded me why I wrote the 'What's on My Boat' app, which has proven to be hugely popular. It would appeal to both the Hoarder and the Tosser.

I am a local app developer who sails a Sabre 32 on the Bay and who has advertised in Latitude in the past. This letter is an unashamed request to let me give a 'shout-out' about my app, which can be found at

Adrian Stanway
Lee Hound, Sabre 32
San Francisco


Folks starting to cruise this season need to be reminded of the Baja Net and the Mañana Net on SSB radio. The Baja Net is on daily on 7.233.5 LSB at 1600 hours. The Mañana Net is on every day except Sunday on 14.340 USB at 1900 hours.

Food for Thought, the recent article by Kurt and Katie Braun, who just did a 12-year circumnavigation with their Deerfoot 74 Interlude, recommends SSB radio. "To cross oceans, an HF radio — SSB/Ham, or at least shortwave — is a must," they advise.

Ken 'The General' Roper of the Finn Flyer 31 Harrier, and many Singlehanded TransPacs, introduced me to the Mañana and Baja nets years ago. When I lost a headstay and then my engine on an offshore return to California from Mexico, both the nets were a big help. And as Latitude knows, the folks on the nets live and breathe to help cruisers.

Frank Gumbinger
San Pedro

Frank — We couldn't agree with the Brauns more completely about HF radios for oceanic passages, and with you about SSB net folks 'living' to help other cruisers.


I read Latitude's recent article on SSB radios. My questions are: 1) When does a sailor need a SSB radio? And 2) what kind of minimum knowledge of SSB do you recommend?

Sandy Edens
Gratitude, Hunter 42 Passage
San Diego

Sandy — By the time you get a SSB radio installed and the special antenna properly grounded, you're looking at more than $3,000, so it's not a purchase you want to make unless you need it. You don't need a SSB if you're just cruising the States, as a satphone is much less expensive, easier to use and more versatile. If you're spending a season in Mexico, SSB is good for the cruiser nets, but you can easily live without one. It's when cruising across the Pacific or into the Caribbean that SSB becomes close to a necessity, as it's the way cruisers stay in touch with one another for news, pleasure and safety. In the December issue we'll have a Changes that will illustrate how useful SSB was to a couple after they lost the rudder on their Davidson 44 in the South Pacific.

SSB radios are much more complicated than VHF radios, which is why one of the most common requests for assistance at the first stop of the Ha-Ha is from boatowners asking for help in understanding how to use their SSB. If you have your radio and antenna professionally installed and checked out, and have the SSB set up with channels so you don't have to tune to frequencies, you should be able to pick up the SSB basics in about a half-hour. Learning how to use SailMail and get GRIB files can take considerably more time.


I just reviewed the 'Lectronic Latitude wrap-up of the 2013 Rolex Big Boat Series, and wanted to make a rather trivial correction, necessary only for the record to be factually correct. Mirthmaker, the winner of IRC Division D, is not owned by Tad Lacey, nor is the boat based out of Belvedere. In fact, at this time Mirthmaker is the only Archambault 35 in the United States. She is owned by me, and she is based out of Sausalito. I loaned the boat to Tad, a friend of more than 30 years, for the event.

With two kids in private school, I am not really in a position to be racing in high profile venues these days, while Tad was looking for a boat to skipper in the BBS and knew Mirthmaker's abilities. So I was happy to have the boat showcased by one of the Bay's best, most experienced racing sailors. I'd say things worked out satisfactorily for both of us, and for the Archambault brand. With that, Latitude is now the only sailing media outlet to have the (trivial) facts. Thanks.

Kirk Denebeim
Mirthmaker, Archambault 35

Kirk — No problem at all, as we're happy to have the record set straight. It's not always easy for reporters covering sailing events, as sometimes owners want to remain anonymous and therefore list the skipper or someone else as the 'owner', and use his or her homeport. Then there are loan or charter situations, where the one who owns the boat and the one who actually enters and races the boat aren't the same. And finally there are instances where the person listed as skipper doesn't, for a variety of possible reasons, even sail on the boat. We try to copy from the yacht club results to keep from getting confused, but can sometimes end up sounding foolish or being wrong.

By the way, we're pretty good friends with the guy at the St. Barth YC who is the Caribbean dealer for the Archambault line. We know he has an A38 in St. Barth available for charter for next April's Voiles de St. Barth. For a change of pace, you could put the kids in public school for a year and use the money saved to charter his boat along with Tad and a couple of your friends for a different kind of yacht racing. The sailing is just the same as in San Francisco — except that you race in the open ocean, and the air and water are 20 to 30 degrees warmer. The after-sailing partying is a little different, too, as the women "walk like cats" and it's just assumed that everyone will dance on the tables.

P.S. Our smartass remarks mean no disrespect to your kids. We admire those who revere education.


In your reply to Mike Crew's letter complaining about county tax assessors in California trying to tax boats that have left their counties, you point out the many benefits of establishing residency in Florida and other states and using a mail-forwarding service such as St. Brendan's Isle to do it. We have done this and have been very pleased with the service.

There are lots of advantages to doing this, but boatowners should be aware of one pitfall. As a Florida resident, if you purchase a boat and then sail it to Florida, the Sunshine State will expect you to pay sales tax and to register your vessel as soon as you enter the state — even though she is federally documented with the Coast Guard. The requirements and considerations are too convoluted to detail here, but John Kettlewell tackles the subject admirably in the May/June issue of Ocean Navigator.

Despite our following Florida's rules — including purchasing, docking and registering the boat in another state — we recently received a bill for sales tax, plus penalties, for the boat we purchased a year ago. Until we straighten that out, I'd better withhold my name and the boat name from this letter. Given Florida's confusing policies, we do not plan to stop there as we head back to Green Turtle Cay in November.

Anybody considering buying a boat and then cruising in Florida might want to first contact the state of Florida to get your specific questions answered in writing.

By the way, the hailing port on your boat and documentation doesn't matter to the state or the Coast Guard as long as it is displayed properly.

Name Withheld By Request.
Currently in Beaufort, North Carolina

N.W.B.R. — The rule of thumb for not being subject to sales/excise tax is never bringing a new-to-you boat into the state in which you have legal residence for more than a year. But if you have thousands of dollars at stake, get the facts instead of relying on rules of thumb.


I read the Wanderer's response to Mike and Holly Sanderson regarding options of sailing a year or two in either Mexico or the Caribbean, or maybe one year in Mexico and one in the Caribbean. Latitude's insight was much appreciated, especially with regard to the observation that Mexico is generally more homogeneous and sedate, while the Caribbean is much more diverse and has a much livelier social scene for younger cruisers. I've been thinking about making the jump from Panama to the Caribbean for over a year now and your response helped put some wind in my sails.

My question is what equipment and gear you think you might need in the Caribbean that you wouldn't need in Mexico. Since I have an 80-gallon water tank and will be cruising alone, I'm probably not going to invest in a watermaker.

My other question is, if heading to the Eastern Caribbean from Panama, would you: 1) Jump directly across the Caribbean Sea to Cuba and then on to the islands of the Eastern Caribbean, or 2) come up the coast of Central American then cut across the Caribbean Sea, or 3) take the southern route and head up to Cartagena, Aruba, and Trinidad to Barbados, then Martinique and the rest?

Steven Thomas
Scouser, Beneteau 36

Steven — When cruising Mexico, the most important thing is to have a reliable engine because the winds are often light and frequently die completely. In the Caribbean, the most important things are robust sails for winter winds of 25 knots or more and robust anchoring gear.

It blows and blows and blows in the Caribbean, so you don't really need an engine. As evidence, singlehander Steve Schmidt, formerly of Saratoga, cruised and raced Hotel California, Too, his Santa Cruz 70, for two years in the Caribbean despite the fact that her broken transmission meant he had to do it entirely under sail, and often singlehanded. When we got our Olson 30 La Gamelle to St. Barth, we removed the outboard from the boat. We just didn't need it. While it's nice to have an engine on a cruising boat in the Caribbean, it's more important to have strong sails plus oversize anchor gear. Without the latter, you won't get any sleep when it starts howling in the many crowded anchorages.

The other thing to remember is that getting work done on your boat in the Eastern Caribbean can be much more expensive than in Mexico, Cartagena or even the States. It's not that they don't have boat parts or materials in the Eastern Caribbean, as the duty-free chandleries in St. Martin are the best we've seen anywhere. And the prices aren't bad. It's the labor. We'll never forget Tahoe's Greg Dorland asking a diver in St. Martin for a quote to scrub the bottom of his Catana 52 Escapade, and getting a quote of something like $750. That's about $700 more than it would have cost in Mexico. The engine guy we rely on charges $150/hour.

We think the best way to start to get to the Eastern Caribbean from Panama is to sail to Cartagena, Colombia. It's not too hard and Cartagena is a great city you don't want to miss. It's once there that you have to make your decision to: 1) Reach off to the east coast of Central America and to Cuba; 2) Sail as close hauled as you can to hopefully lay Jamaica; or 3) Take the southern route via Colombia's Cabo Velo and the top of South America. The best route is going to depend on the time of year you plan to make the trip and how quickly you want to get to the Eastern Caribbean.

If you sail up the coast of Central America to Cuba, it's going to add 600 more miles to what would have been a direct route to the Eastern Caribbean, and the last 1,000 miles will be almost as long and nasty as if you started from Panama — although you can take refuge at several islands along the way. It's almost as long and bad if you sail to Jamaica from Cartagena. These are good options, however, for people who want to see eastern Central America, Cuba, Jamaica and the D.R., and who have lots of time to wait patiently for big weather windows.

If you want to make it to the Eastern Caribbean quickly and pretty much directly from Cartagena, we think your best bet is the southern route across the top of South America. If you check Passage Weather frequently, you'll notice that the 400 miles of water ENE of Cartagena is among the nastiest in the world on a regular basis. But there are a couple of remote anchorages, and once you make it around Cabo Velo, you can work east along the north coast of South America in reasonably decent conditions. Mind you, Venezuela has about the highest murder rate in the world right now, and too many cruisers have been attacked if not killed in northeastern Venezuela. See this month's Changes.

Generally speaking, the best time to make any of these upwind passages across the Caribbean is November through early December, or June and July, which is when the seasons are changing. The ideal time for the southern route is when there's a hurricane to the north that screws up the normal windy pattern in the Caribbean. Trying the southern route from mid-December through April, on the other hand, is like asking to get thrashed.

Barbados? The only sailors who stop at Barbados are those who are coming downwind from the other side of the Atlantic or up from South America. It's a long and hard slog upwind from Panama to the islands in the Eastern Caribbean, so nobody is much interested in doing more of it just to get to Barbados, which, Rhianna and Mt. Gay Rum notwithstanding, is not that interesting for a cruiser.


Max Ebb's great articles in Latitude make the magazine even more valuable. However, his story about a sailboat in distress probably should have been followed up with an article on how a crewmember on a boat with a DSC-enabled VHF radio would have made the distress call.

I bought a new Catalina 350 some 10 years ago, and the radio has a red 'Distress' button under a flap. There are important steps in the installation and operation to make the DSC part work as designed. But once the preliminary steps have been completed, it's quick and easy to make a call for assistance. You press the 'Distress' button for five seconds, and all the information that was previously registered is transmitted, including your current latitude and longitude, to the Coast Guard. The Coasties will then acknowledge your call on Channel 16.

There is a lot of information on DSC on the internet, and the United Safe Boating Institute has an easy-to-understand brochure.

P.S. Latitude has no equal! Thank you for getting it to Southern California each month.

Horst Lechler
Seahorst, Catalina 350
Marina del Rey

Horst — Thanks for the good advice and kind words. Interestingly, Editor LaDonna Bubak was planning to write an article on registering her own DSC radios for this month's Sightings but the government shutdown meant the FCC's website was also shut down.


My hat finally arrived!

But the story began nine years ago in New Zealand when I bought a Greek fisherman’s cap named the 'Nelson'. It was made of wool in Scotland for Thomas Keeble. Three years ago it simply started to wear out, so I started to search for a replacement in every store that might have one. I even had a close friend search both islands of New Zealand on two different trips looking for a replacement.

Finally, last year The Hat Co. in Santa Cruz referred me to John Helmer in Portland, who in turn referred me to BBC America in New York, which in turn referred me to Camwrap in Mobile, Alabama. All this took at least two years — but my hat arrived tonight and I am ecstatic! The hat, also called the Nelson, is made in Scotland by Camwrap Woollens. It fits perfectly, and best of all the wool feels good on my head.

If anyone is looking for a Greek fisherman’s cap, this is the one you want, as it has a soft rim. The ones with stiff rims are not comfortable.

The cap is available from Thomas Keeble/Camwrap, 259 Charles Street, Mobile, AL 36604; (800) 353-9004;; . I had an email connection one evening, then the next morning I called and said, "I want to order a hat." The immediate response was “Oh, you must be Mr. Hildinger.” Boy, was I impressed!

Jim Hildinger
Cadenza, Catalina 27
South Lake Tahoe

Jim — While the Greek fisherman's cap is associated with seamanship, it also became popular with musicians. While you can see Bob Dylan wearing one on the cover of his first album in 1962, it was John Lennon who really made the hat popular during the Beatles' 1964 tour of America. In fact, during the mid-'60s it became known as the 'John Lennon hat'. Ringo started wearing one, too, then folk-rocker Donovan sported one on the cover of four of his albums. Women have liked the style, too, including Princess Anne, actress Diana Rigg of The Avengers — although not when dressed in her leather outfits — and Sienna Miller. While those people are posers, sailors wear wool hats because they know the body loses much of its heat through the head.


Anyone who has lived for the dream of commanding their own vessel, and paid the price in blood to do so, will understand how difficult it is to sacrifice that dream. Having to lose the synthesis of materials that becomes like an extension of one's own self is like losing a limb. Or worse. It's like losing love. If I had the choice, I might prefer to pluck my eye out than to lose my boat. Sadly, I don't have that choice. But it's not for me to complain, as many people are having it tough these days, and most are having it tougher than me.

My dream started when I saw an ad for a boat in Latitude 10 years ago while I was living happily in Hawaii. But the ad reignited a childhood dream and changed my life. I had always wanted to sail around the world, to become a true man of the sea, and to learn to maintain my vessel and guide her safely through all conditions. Unfortunately, I didn't make it as far as I planned, but in getting as far as I did, I was blessed to have learned so much about the sea and the wonderful sailboat Mana.

While in Mexico this year, Mana fouled her anchor and dragged onto the rocks. In the process, her stainless rudder post was bent and there was damage to the fiberglass along her keel and in various places on her starboard hull. Mana was so stoutly built that the only wood damaged was a bit at the keelson, which has already been replaced. The rest of the wood that was exposed has been sealed.

After the unfortunate incident, Mana was sailed under her own power to San Blas where she was hauled, and where she awaits a proper repair and relaunch. Unfortunately, family emergencies and other factors prohibit me from being able to be the one to repair her. Yet I am liable for the dry storage fees, and I fear the day that liability would cause Mana to be sacrificed as a derelict. It would be such a waste of one of the best cruisers of her type.

The 39-ft Mana was constructed in the early 1970s by Robert Mulvany, another dreamer. He built the 9-ton, hard-chine ketch from plans drawn by East Coast naval architect Victor Harasty, who was known for designing work boats to fish the rough waters around Nova Scotia. Mana is of the larger Atlantis 39 version of the two yachts Harasty designed, and I still have the plans. Mana's hulls are one-inch plywood, the quality of which is no longer available, and covered in glass. Mulvany's plan was to sail to the South Pacific, where his parents had moved to live out their lives. Alas, after spending three years building Mana, Mulvany discovered that he was prone to seasickness. He sold the boat he'd labored so long over, then found other means to get to the South Pacific.

The couple who bought Mana cared for her for 23 years, infrequently sailing her along the coast of Northern California. I purchased Mana from them in September 2004. I spent 2-½ years on her in a slip at the Arques Marina, reconditioning her and sailing her on beautiful San Francisco Bay. I left the slip for good in March 2007, determined to follow my dreams. And I did, sailing her as far south as Zihuatanejo before returning north to the Puerto Vallarta area for the hurricane season. I have lived in that area for the past three years.

When Mana was hauled out at San Blas, her 27-hp Isuzu Mariner diesel, installed by Stone Boatyard of Alameda in 1983, was pulled and dismantled to check the condition. The mechanic estimated it would cost $500 to grind the valves, put in new gaskets and so forth, after which she would be "like new." He has already been paid for the pulling of the engine and the cost of reinstalling it. I'm no mechanic, but the engine never failed me in 10 years, and it's what provided the power for me to get to the boatyard.

Mana's rig was built in Sausalito for a Marco Polo schooner, but for some reason never found its way to the intended boat. It's made of boxed spruce with bronze boom fittings cast to Herreschoff’s original design. The stainless rigging is oversized, and while it was installed 15 years ago, has only seen a few thousand ocean miles.

I have hundreds of photos of Mana’s reconditioning in Sausalito, and her travels down the west coast of Mexico. She is an amazing vessel that is sea-kindly and dry. Her classic lines turn the heads of old salts. She appears to be drawn from the lines of Ingrid ketches, which were popular in the era when she was built.

I'm hoping that this letter in Latitude will alert the right person that Mana needs a new owner, and I'm ready to make it worthwhile. Unlike the marinas in the Puerto Vallarta area, the San Blas Marina allows owners to work on their boats and stay on them while they are on the hard. I estimate that Mana needs about $5,000 to finish the repairs, and that includes painting the bottom and sides. I can pass her on to a worthy owner for about $15,000 and, for the right owner, can even accept payments over time. I might also be able to help with the repairs.

I feel like a shipwrecked sailor about to lose everything if I can't sell her, and I don’t know where to turn. I can be reached at .

Tony Smario
Mana, Atlantis 39
San Blas, Mexico


We seldom hear a reference to celestial navigation anymore, but today's cruisers probably don't realize that it was the only offshore navigation option — other than dead reckoning — prior to 1980. You had to know the basics or else.

While people who teach celestial often seem to make it sound as complicated as possible, I taught myself from a book, and I'm no smarter than the average cruiser. The key was to learn the terminology first, then how to extract the information from the almanac, and most important, have or make preprinted forms so you will place the information in the correct order.

The trick instructors use to make celestial sound more difficult than it is is to give you one sight in the North Atlantic to work out and another one in the Indian Ocean, giving you no way of confirming that your work is correct. In real life, you will know where you are within 100 miles of where you were the day before, so if you do make an error that places you somewhere other than where you are, you can go over your work and find out where you made the error.

The only star sights I needed to take were of Polaris, which is the easiest sight of all.

And no, you don't need an expensive chronometer. I did have an expensive Japanese chronometer, but I also had a cheap Time Bowl clock. My Japanese chronometer finally stopped working, but the Time Bowl is still on my boat's bulkhead and has been running since 1980. And it was always as accurate as the chronometer.

I just Googled Time Bowl to see if they are still in business — and they are!

Ernie Copp
Orient Star, Cheoy Lee Offshore 50
Long Beach


Susan and Ed Kelly certainly deserve much recognition for their 6,200-mile internal 'circumnavigation' of Europe via rivers and canals with their catamaran Angel Louise, but that path was originally paved in modern times by the one and only Tristan Jones.

As recounted in his book The Improbable Voyage, Jones was recuperating in Santa Barbara following the amputation of one leg when he decided to show the world that it was possible for a disabled person to accomplish a seemingly impossible voyage. So he set out from San Diego on the 36-ft trimaran Outward Leg, and after many weeks at sea reached New York. He then crossed the Atlantic to London, after which he published the first cruising guide for that route.

From London, Jones sailed through the Netherlands, then primarily via the Rhine and Danube Rivers, through the then-Iron Curtain countries of Eastern Europe to the Black Sea and Istanbul. This European voyage only covered 2,307 miles, but he did it through countries that were bureaucratically inhospitable at the time. And he did it in winter.

Upon reaching Istanbul, Jones continued down the Red Sea, across the Arabian Sea to India, and finally on to Thailand. The story of the third leg of the voyage by the one-legged sailor was told with great style in Somewheres East of Suez.

Glenn Dorfman
Santa Barbara

Glenn — Thanks for reminding us. While we don't believe all of Tristan's stories — such as the business of teaching his dog how to play chess in order to pass time while trapped in Arctic ice one winter — he clearly completed some incredible voyages and wrote some engrossing books. That said, we can all be thankful that he didn't write a book about his non-nautical adventures in Thailand during the last years of his life.


Are you aware of any restrictions on the importation (by boat) of meat to Mexico? When we did the Ha-Ha 10 years ago, we had to dispose of all our chicken when we arrived in Cabo.

Gisela Gosch
Dolce, Island Packet 45
San Diego

Gisela — We're glad to see that 10 years after doing your first Ha-Ha and going on to cruise to the South Pacific, you and Eric are back for another Ha-Ha.

Our experience is that you never know about agricultural inspections in Mexico. Sometimes boats aren't inspected, sometimes they don't allow chicken, pork or beef, sometimes they allow some of those but not others. You never know. Our advice is not to buy six months' worth of steak or whatever, as it might get confiscated. Besides, you can get great beef at Costco in Cabo and at other big stores in larger cities in Mexico.

We don't know if you drink wine, but they don't confiscate that, and you can certainly get better quality inexpensive wines in California than you can in Mexico. Plus, many small restaurants in Mexico allow you to bring your own wine without charging corkage, knocking your dinner bill down to almost nothing. So fill your bilges.

Just so nobody gets the wrong idea, Customs and Agriculture in the United States are no more consistent than in Mexico. Some years we've pulled into San Diego and agents have made us throw a bunch of stuff away; some years they've allowed us to keep the very same stuff. The funny thing is, the agents never seem to follow what the Agriculture Department publishes as being prohibited. The lack of consistency makes us wonder if it's not a bunch of baloney.


When Oracle jibed at the leeward mark for the reach to the finish of the 14th race of the America's Cup, we noticed — watching the event on television — the Kronos 45 cat Perception in the background. She's one of 12 sisterships to our Ocelot. and was previously owned by Glenn Fagerlin of Fairfield. Our emails to him have bounced, so we're wondering if anybody has a contact for him. If they do, we can be reached at

Jon & Sue Hacking
Ocelot, Kronos 45 stretched to 48 feet
Somewhere in the world of cruising

Readers — If anyone is interested in hardcore family cruising, we suggest they check out the Hackings' blog at Starting from South Africa in the 1980s, Jon and Sue cruised for seven years on a monohull. They must have liked it because, after having a son and daughter, they took off again from St. Martin in 2001, this time aboard a Kronos 45 catamaran. Both Chris and Amanda moved off the boat to attend the University of Washington, but Jon and Sue plan to continue cruising for the foreseeable future.

Actually, Jon and Sue haven't done much sailing for the last two years, as they've been in Thailand stretching Ocelot to 48 feet and giving her a total — and we mean total — refit. Prior to the start of the refit, Ocelot had taken the family from the Eastern Caribbean through the Panama Canal, across the South Pacific and the Indian Oceans to Africa, then back to Asia.

"The refit should be complete by the monsoon season," the Hackings report, "so we'll be staying put here on the Andaman Sea side of Thailand and Malaysia for a few months. It's great cruising grounds, and also a good place to shake out the wrinkles after the refit. Other possible adventures include more inland travel to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, which is a trip — or series of trips — we've wanted to do for some time. After that, the crystal ball gets fuzzy, but the Philippines seem to be in there somewhere."


In February 2014, I plan to travel with three friends to Puerto Montt, Chile, where we will board Venus, a beautiful Baltic 52 charter yacht. We'll then embark on a five-week cruise south through the incredible Canales de Chile. If time and weather permit, we'll stop at Cape Horn Island before ending our adventure at Ushuaia, Argentina. This will be my sixth trip to Chile and Tierra del Fuego, so you can surmise that I am enthralled with the area.

Anyway, I'm considering renting a satellite phone to take with me. Do any Latitude readers have experience, advice or opinions regarding my idea?

Fred Huffman
La Diana, Contessa 35

Fred — You can rent an Iridium satphone for a little more than $100 a month from any number of outfits, and you pay about $1.25 a minute. Sailors rent these phones all the time.

The other option is a Spot Global phone. If you check their coverage map, it gets weaker the farther south you get in South America. The phones rent for less, but until somebody in that part of the world confirms that there is decent coverage, we'd stick with the Iridium.


I am trying to locate Larry Herbig, my brother, who is a longtime sailor. He worked at North Sails in Alameda for many years in the 1970s and 1980s, then moved to Maui to spend his time sailboarding. He apparently left Maui in August, and our family suspects he may have returned to the Bay Area for the America's Cup. But we have been unable to find him. There are serious health issues in our family, and I dearly want to contact him. I can be reached at . Thank you.

Marilyn Wood
Planet Earth


Elly and I came up from Roatan, Honduras, for three weeks to watch the America's Cup and it was, hands down, the best sailing event ever. At 1:15 p.m. on days after the Cup was over, we went into withdrawals.

I'm a hardcore monohull sailor, but I think going back to monohulls would be a big step backward. The America's Cup is all about the cutting edge, and watching those cats foil at 40 knots was just amazing. Foiling should definitely be allowed, as watching those boats carve a tack or jibe on foils made them look like downhill racers. There is no other place on earth that is such a perfect natural amphitheater to watch racing as San Francisco Bay.

Wayne Smith
Zeppelin Dive & Sail
French Cay Harbour, Roatan, Honduras

Readers — Those of you who've had your fill of the America's Cup can stop reading this month's Letters right now, for we decided to let as many readers as possible speak their minds.

We got a huge amount of reader response when we asked for thoughts about the next America's Cup. There was almost total agreement that the next Cup should again be held on San Francisco Bay, and about 80% believe there should be at least a partial nationality rule. About 80% of respondents are in favor of foiling multihulls over monohulls, but only about half of those thought the boats should be one-design.


With the improved television coverage, I’d prefer the monohulls with spinnakers for the Cup, as it's easier for us sailors to relate to. The longer races would provide time for mistakes, and catching a puff that would bring boats back together. If the AC72s had been identical boats, my guess is that the first boat into the starting box would have won every race — not much excitement there.

Jim Dinger
Landlocked in Kentucky

Jim — If you review America's Cup history, we think you'll find that you have it backward. With monohulls, whichever boat won the start usually won the race. That wasn't true with the AC72s, as the boats often traded leads, and even leads of more than 500 yards weren't safe.

Having been to almost every 34th America's Cup race, we have to say that we were converted to the format of two relatively short races a day. No significant television audience is going to stick around to watch a single race of two or three hours.


The America's Cup was so spectacular that I traveled down from Petaluma nine times, bicycling the last stretch from Larkspur to San Francisco, which greatly added to my fun. I even postponed my trip to Kona for a day in order to see the last race.

Viewing the races was awesome from a number of locations, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the Presidio hills, the Marina Green, the spit past the Golden Gate YC, and from a sailboat on the Bay. I found the America's Cup Village at Pier 27 to be a little far from the action for my taste.

I hope the next Cup is held on the Bay, and now that foiling is out of the bag, not allowing it would be like living in the past. A nationality rule for a percentage of the team would give fans more pride in their country's team — although I don't know if the U.S. could retain the Cup.

Mark Bidgood


After watching the AC45s in the World Series last year, I thought the AC72s might be the most spectacular sailing boats ever seen. And they were. I watched videos of many of the races, and watched races 17 and 18 from shore. I am emphatically for foiling multihulls, and San Francisco Bay is the only place. "Your Majesty, there is no second."

Douglas Cole
Electric Kool-Aid, Laser


Why did the illegal modification of the AC45s by Oracle in the World Series have an impact on a different boat in a different event, meaning the AC72s and the America's Cup? If a driver cheats while driving a stock car, do they penalize him when he drives in the Indy 500?

Steve Haas
Tesa, Catalina 42
San Jose

Steve — The World Series and the America's Cup were part of the same event. Think of the World Series as having been the first round of the NFL Playoffs and the America's Cup being the Super Bowl.

For those who think the two-point penalty was too severe, be aware that some believe that the International Jury actually wanted to hand down a much more severe penalty if not kick Oracle out of the Cup. This idea is based on the belief that the jury was convinced Oracle had made much greater modifications to their AC45s, but most of the evidence was gone a year ago. So, the theory goes, the jury gave Oracle an outsized penalty for the evidence that was found.


Thank you Latitude for your objective coverage of 34th America's Cup. Not having been exposed to such races before, I was surprised to see that both boats were built in New Zealand, both teams had CEOs and crews mostly from New Zealand, and this was somehow supposed to be a USA-versus-New Zealand race? There were two Americans on the Oracle Team USA boat, but one got removed early on. It looked more like ETNZ against the world — plus parts of New Zealand.

Ivan Ilieff
Palo Alto

Ivan — Thanks for the kind words; it was a lot of fun.

The rules for the America's Cup frequently change with respect to things such as where the boats have to be built and nationality rules for the crews. For example, Oracle's trimaran for the 33rd America's Cup in Valencia was built in Washington. While Oracle can put together a team to build the latest hi-tech boats, that's not true of all the countries that wanted to compete in the America's Cup. They just don't have the expertise or experience. But in order to address both these issues, there is talk about some parts of the boats for the next America's Cup being one-design and a certain percentage of each crew having to come from the team's country.

We know we've picked this nit before, but Oracle's Shannon Falcone is from Antigua, and if you check your atlas, Antigua is just as much a part of America as is the United States. So at one time, the Oracle boat had three Americans as crew.


I loved seeing the high-tech aspect of the 34th America's Cup, but it didn't seem right that the AC72s couldn't race in conditions that most San Francisco Bay sailors take pleasure in. As I recall, the Bluenose schooners from Canada were stout enough for any weather, but they were still able to sail competitively against AC boats in the 1920s.

R.W. Catlette

R.W. — We remember that on the day of the start of the very first Ha-Ha, practice sailing for the America's Cup boats in San Diego was called off because it was too windy.


No girlz allowed? The deck of an America's Cup boat is no place for a woman — at least that's what it looked like from shore. Four women participated in the America's Cup in 1934, so I know there is no rule against it. The America's Cup is a private enterprise, and as a man who is all for free enterprise, I don't think the America's Cup should be forced to include women. But I think the event and the spectators would benefit from it. The first female Navy SEALs are scheduled to hit the beach soon, so if the Navy can be this forward-thinking, maybe the America's Cup teams should realize that a concerted effort to be more inclusive would be great for the sport.

Jamis MacNiven
Portola, Legacy 34

Jamis — We agree that it would have been great — and great for publicity — if there had been a 'World Women' team in the World Series or a women's team in the Red Bull Youth Championships. But those events were sailed in AC45s which, while physically demanding, are not as physically demanding as the AC72s are. We know it's politically incorrect, but we don't believe that women have the upper body strength necessary to sail an AC72 competitively. We base this belief on the fact that when the San Francisco Fire Department was ordered to have women in the Department, all the physical standards had to be lowered.

(Before anybody goes sexist on us, our fire chief friends tell us that there is much more to being a top-flight firefighter than just muscle.)


As a member of Oakland YC and its race committee, I want to recognize the Alameda Theater and Cineplex for their support of the America’s Cup. On March 1, they hosted the Artemis team, which allowed our community to meet the team members and begin to catch America’s Cup fever.

There's more. As the racing progressed, through trials, tragedy and triumphs, Alameda watched. As the America’s Cup finals continued in September, many sailors and non-sailors made their way to the San Francisco Cityfront, with others gathering in front of televisions or watching YouTube replays. But by far the best opportunity to feel as if you were there on the Cityfront, with the advantage of the details of television coverage, was the Alameda Theater and Cineplex. The good folks there hosted free big screen viewings of the America’s Cup races, where you could almost feel the spray as Oracle and Emirates New Zealand foiled upwind! A big 'thank you' to those good folks.

Debby Ratto

Debby — What a cool thing for the Alameda Theater folks to have done! Thanks for bringing it to our attention.


Excellent articles on the America's Cup.

I’m one of the few Americans who isn't exactly jumping up and down about the victory. Yes, it was a great series. Yes, it made non-sailors actually take notice the sport for the first time. And yes, the jury ruled that Oracle's automatic stabilization system was legal.

But you reported that, among other things, Oracle added a fillet to their T-shaped rudders to reduce cavitation, and added an 'interceptor' to the transom to modify water flow. How was this permitted in the middle of a series? It’s one thing to make sail changes, adjust the rake/rig, or tweak any other existing system on the boat, but changing hull performance by adding components? Really?

No doubt the Kiwis are tremendous sportsmen, because there’s a good chance they would have won in court. As a Wednesday night beer can racer, a coastal cruiser, and yes, a mechanical engineer, I believe Oracle's string of wins was unfathomable without a 'Eureka!' moment.

Franz C. Alvarez
New York City

Franz — The International Jury did not rule that Oracle's automatic stabilization system was legal because there wasn't any such system.

Oracle was able to make the modifications it did because it was legal to modify the boats under the rules of the 34th America's Cup. Because of modifications, Oracle was remeasured at least 15 times during the Cup, while the Kiwis had to be remeasured at least eight times. You might remember, for example, that the Kiwis used J-shaped daggerboards some of the time and L-shaped daggerboards at other times.

The Kiwis didn't sue because, as Grant Dalton said, there was nothing to sue about.

Yes, everyone agrees there was a 'Eureka!' moment. It's when Oracle mastered foiling upwind, giving them a gear that the Kiwis didn't have. When the Kiwis saw it in the next-to-last race, they knew it was all over.


Whatever type of boat they want to use in the next America's Cup is fine, but the cost has to come down. And greater participation is paramount. How sad if the Kiwis couldn't do the next Cup because it cost so much! San Francisco is a great venue for the Cup, but they need to have a variety of courses.

David O'Hara
Cape Cod

David — Hamilton Island YC, which is the Challenger of Record for the 35th America's Cup, and therefore will be hammering out the details of the Cup with Oracle, said lower cost and increased participation are two of their most important goals. Oracle has agreed. They are trying to come up with a Cup that wouldn't cost teams more than $50 million, which is half of what the Kiwis spent this time around. We'd like to see the budgets max out at $25 million. The Kiwi team raced under the assumption that if they didn't win the Cup, there would be no funding for a future America's Cup effort. Fortunately, they represented their little country — it has fewer people than the Bay Area — so well that New Zealand has decided to put up $5 million to at least temporarily keep the team together.


The AC72s were awesome, but I think 65-ft one-design monohulls would show more crew work, and if they were sailed on the Bay, could really get going.

By the way, the Lahaina YC was packed for the last two races of the Cup, as there was a lot of interest as Oracle kept winning.

Steve Taylor
Lahaina, Maui

Steve — While it's true that teams could build very fast 65-ft monohulls, it's also true that Redwood City's Tom Siebel could still sail circles around them in his MOD70 Orion. That would be embarrassing.


I have actively followed the America's Cup since Bill Ficker skippered Intrepid to a win in a very close series against Australia's Gretel II in 1970. By 1983, the America's Cup had nearly gone extinct, as for a decade only one nation bothered to compete. But the persistence of the Aussies and their radical new keel design changed all that, and for the subsequent Cup in Perth, there were no fewer than 13 syndicates with 25 12-Meters. The Cup was back!

The 1988 preemptive Kiwi challenge to the San Diego YC with the spectacular 120-ft monohull KZ-1 was met with the most embarrassingly poor sportsmanship that I have ever witnessed in the America's Cup. I'm talking about Dennis Conner embarrassing our nation by refusing to meet the challenge on a level playing field and responding with a catamaran. Conner was not just the only American skipper to lose the America's Cup twice, but he had the audacity to call the fantastic 1995 all-female crew of Mighty Mary "The Lesbian Crew." Fortunately, one of the Mighty Mary crewmembers emptied her glass on Dennis' head during a dinner at the yacht club one night.

I was glad to see the 12-Meters, which are good-for-nothing boats, go the way of the dodo bird. I wasn't fond of the IACC yachts either. I am very glad to see the advent of multihulls.

The 2013 America's Cup included many great changes for the better. Exciting new ultra-performance boats? Check! A beautiful, accessible and windy location? Check! Superb television coverage with graphic overlays? Check! Intense competition with perhaps the greatest comeback in sports history? Check! What wasn't fantastic was we had two expensive capsizes — one fatal — and wind-speed restrictions that created delays for television and forced many Kiwi fans to return home before the Cup was over. Ugh!

I used to think Larry Ellison was just another arrogant billionaire out to buy my Congresswoman. In fact, I believe Mr. Ellison has done a huge amount of good for the America's Cup. The AC34 had some issues, but given the amount of changes and 'new territory' traversed — both logistical and technological — it was a rousing success! I so appreciate all that resulted from Larry's vision and leadership, and the City of San Francisco's commitment to support this world-class event.

Mark Blackburn



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