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May 2014

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I was hired to be captain of the Five Stars yacht on the morning of March 31 for a short memorial. On the way back to Sausalito, two heavy rain squalls ripped through with 40-knot winds. The 75-ft motoryacht actually heeled to starboard.

I was kind of getting a kick out of the wild weather — then all of a sudden there was a blinding white flash in the wheelhouse and thunder that sounded as though a bomb went off! The strike shook the yacht so violently that it knocked the interior cabinet doors off their hinges!

When we got back to the dock and secured the boat, my crew and I went around and saw evidence that we'd actually been hit by lightning: the starboard quarter of the teak transom platform had been burned, and pieces of charred fiberglass and wood were scattered around the deck. The daughter of the deceased said her mother had always made a grand entrance. I guess she went out the same way.

In all my years of sailing and working in the Bay, I never heard of a boat or anything being directly struck by lightning. In the future, we may have to look into static wicks, such as are used on airplanes. The Bay Bridge was also hit by a cluster of lightning!

Captain Stephanie Teel
Five Stars
Schoonmaker Marina, Sausalito

Capt. Teel — While boats get hit by lightning all the time in the summer in Mexico, Central America, and the Southeast United States, it also happens on San Francisco Bay. Just not very often, thank goodness.


Not to be a stick-in-the-mud, but there should be an eleventh commandment added to the Ten Commandments of Beer Can Racing. That commandment should read: Thou shalt have a designated driver for after the race or at the yacht club.

I’m not a priss as, having been a sailor and surfer since I was 13, I used to think that salt water and alcohol went hand-in-hand. But nobody needs a 'barging' or 'pitchpole' after fun on the water or in the club.

I'm currently boatless, but I still try to surf at least three times a week.

Keith Dekker
Los Osos

Keith — We'll drink to that — but only because we're driving a computer and not a boat or vehicle.


Prior to doing our circumnavigation, we cruised the Pacific Northwest. It remains one of our favorite cruising grounds.

We left San Francisco on June 28, after waiting a couple of weeks for a weather window. We managed to make it to Port Angeles on July 3. We motored most of the way, but we did manage to fly a spinnaker rounding Cape Mendocino — only to have it torn to shreds after a couple of hours. We knew we were farther north when they had to wait to start the Port Angeles Fourth of July fireworks until 10:30 p.m. because it wasn't dark enough before then.

We spent the next three months on the inside and outside of Vancouver Island, and thoroughly enjoyed the people and the environment. I know it can be a battle going up the coast from San Francisco, but we thought the rewards were definitely worth it.

Our introduction to Canada was using a telephone at the end of the dock to call up Customs and give them our pertinent details. After getting these, they told us to have a wonderful stay.

Barkley Sound, which is also called the Emerald Sea, and Hot Springs Cove, should be on every cruiser's Bucket List.

By the way, two of us agree that the best part of Robert Redford's All is Lost movie was the dialogue.

Jim & Kent Milski
Sea Level, Schionning 49
On the Move, Planet Earth

Readers — We received many responses to our
'What is So Great About Cruising in the Pacific Northwest?' question, but simply didn't have room this month for more than a few. More next month.


I'll tell you what I liked about the Pacific Northwest. I lived — and sailed — in San Francisco for about 14 years, and kept my boat in Alameda, even after moving to Seattle (via Ohio and New Jersey).

Imagine the summertime climate of the Delta, with lots of open water. And lots of islands. And 68 state parks. Yes, it rains a lot in Seattle, but one of the best-kept secrets is that the rain stops in late June or early July and doesn't start again until September. In fact, all summer is kind of like those amazing weekends in September/October on the Bay: sunny, cloudless, light winds, temps in the high 70s to 80s, but with hundreds of beaches, harbors, parks, and coastal towns to explore. And you can fish for steelhead or drop a trap and haul in Dungeness crab.

From Seattle, you can day-cruise to Kingston, find a slip — even with a trimaran —with no hassle, and walk into town for an ice cream cone or a sweet crêpe. For longer cruises, you can go to a place like Roche Harbor in the San Juans, where marina tenants can use the pool — nice if the water is chilly. Or sail to Canada — it takes about two hours from most mainland jumping-off points — and sample the cider and enjoy the company of the friendliest of Canadians.

I cruised on my boat for a month in the Bahamas. If I were a lot wealthier, I'd return every year. But for people living in the Bay Area with sub-Ellison lifestyles, you can't beat $89 each way to Seattle. For racing, you cannot do better than the San Francisco Bay. For cruising, few places in the world, can match the Pacific Northwest.

Bill Quigley
Tatiana, Farrier 32
Seattle, WA


Patty and I sailed from Hawaii to the Pacific Northwest in June 1989 and spent about two months cruising the San Juan and Gulf Islands with Canadian friends — who actually sailed out to meet us off Cape Flattery at midnight at the end of our 17-day passage. We made it as far north as Octopus Island, which is above 50 degrees north.

The Pacific Northwest is certainly different from the South Pacific, but quite wonderful. It seemed as though we were sailing in the Sierra, but at sea level. As for the currents, you'd better plan your passage carefully or you'll end up going backward.

Bill Meanley
Dolfin, Pacific Seacraft 37
San Diego


Here's my thumbnail review of the Pacific Northwest.

The San Juan Islands: There are lots of navigational decisions as there are big tides, and great public islands with mooring buoys and hiking trails. The wind is light during the summer months, so don't expect to sail all the time. Good towns and marinas. Many delightful coves and anchorages. Close to Victoria.

The Gulf Islands are along the east side of Vancouver Island. They are like the San Juans, but a bit wilder and less visited, and have fewer good moorages. But interesting towns.

The West Coast of Vancouver Island is for the adventurous only! This is serious sailing in prevailing northerlies with summer fog. But it's great, with wild inlets and coves.

Desolation Sound and north offers unlimited exploring in a lightly populated area. Huge tides. Some warm swimming waters, and bears on the beach. Lots of motoring.

Steve Bunnell
Sputnik, Moore 24


I'm writing from the not-quite-frozen flatlands of the Midwest, and saw the brief piece about me in a March 'Lectronic.

I appreciate the wishes that I have "good luck," and know that chance plays a part in all voyages but, as in all other aspects of life, I try to prepare both the boat and myself so that we do not need 'good luck' to succeed. The only thing that could make us fail is extremely bad luck.

I'll be heading back to my Moore 24 in California soon. I'll be taking the train because I want to feel the distance across the land. You can't do that on a plane.

Before I set sail around the world on the Moore, I have a few things to do, including fitting the gudgeons for an emergency rudder and provisioning. But I'll be away before long. I'll keep you posted.

Webb Chiles
Gannet, Moore 24

Readers — Chiles has famously circumnavigated five times under sail already, including with an 18-ft open boat. This time he plans to sail to Hilo, nonstop to French Polynesia, then nonstop to New Zealand. After that, he'll decide whether to sail the rest of the way around the world, via Cape Horn, with his little ultralight. If he makes a sixth circumnavigation, it will match the number of times he's been married.

It's interesting to compare the approach of Chiles to that of Rimas Meleshyus, another sailor attempting to circumnavigate with a 24-footer. (See our interview with Webb on page 94.)


In the Wanderer's March 17 'Lectronic report from St. Barth, he wrote, "This year our musical ritual has been starting the morning with a couple of 'Glorias'. We start with Vivaldi's powerful Gloria in Excelsis Deo, and then we follow it up with Van Morrison's rockin' G-L-O-R-I-A. We suppose that's going from the sacred to the profane, but it's an invigorating musical trip."

Noting that his knowledge of classical music is slim, the Wanderer asked for some help in picking "additional classical selections that might be appropriate for soft, pink-clouded mornings in the tropics." I don't have any classical music selections for the Wanderer, but he should definitely add Laura Branigan's Gloria to his 'Gloria' playlist. I've always liked the song — although I have found it almost impossible to dance to.

Eric Artman
Corinthian YC

Eric — Excellent suggestion! Branigan's is now the third of the 'Glorias' we play each morning. She had some pipes. Her signature song Gloria stayed on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for 36 weeks, at the time a record for a female artist. As someone who writes, we not only appreciate how Branigan belted the song out in her husky alto, but also the lyrics which, because they are snarky, are in direct opposition to the decidedly upbeat music:

If everybody wants you, why isn't anybody callin'?
You don't have to answer
Leave them hangin' on the line, oh-oh-oh, calling Gloria
Gloria (Gloria), I think they got your number (Gloria)
I think they got the alias (Gloria) that you've been living under (Gloria)
But you really don't remember, was it something that they said?
All the voices in your head calling, Gloria?"

Branigan died from an undiagnosed cerebral aneurysm in 2004 at age aged 47. A pity.


You want classical? Try Mozart's horn concertos.

Mike Mellon
Santa Cruz

Mike — Thanks to you, we have. We're loving Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 4 in E Flat.


I enjoyed your description of listening to Vivaldi's Gloria in Excelsis Deo in the morning, as well as Van Morrison's Gloria. You asked for sundowner music.

For what it's worth, it has been my practice on all of my recent passages to listen to Ode to Joy at dawn, and Samuel Barber's Agnus Dei (adagio for strings) at sunset. Find a good chorale version — it is sublime for sunset at sea.

I like to believe that the music makes me born again to each new day and its wonder, and allows me to pass into the darkness with the sun at sunset with no regrets.

Tim Palmatier
Shoofly, Barnett 41


Pachelbel’s very restful and beautiful Canon in D has always been a favorite. Wikipedia says Pachelbel’s Canon was sampled frequently by pop groups in the 1990s for commercial hits such as the Pet Shop Boys cover of Go West, Coolio's C U When U Get There and Green Day's Basket Case.

Lorianna Kastrop
Goose, Catalina 30
South Beach Harbor, San Francisco

Lorianna — Thanks to your recommendation — and that of many other readers — Canon in D is now in heavy rotation on our cat.

We suppose it shouldn't be a surprise that pop groups sample the heck out of classical music. Consider Procol Harum's
Whiter Shade of Pale, an anthem of 1967 that has been the most played song in public in the U.K. in the last 75 years. A Whiter Shade's haunting instrumental melody comes from several Bach pieces, most notably Air on G String, which other readers have recommended, and which we're also enjoying.


Try Handel's Water Music (of course). When Tim and Karen Stapleton left for Mexico aboard their Islander 36 Misfit in the 1980s, I gave them the cassette of Water Music. When Tim got back a year or two later, he said had been their favorite tape.

Water Music has an interesting history, as it was the result of Handel's ride down the Thames on the Royal Barge. He tried to compose music that would sound like the rise and fall of the tidal Thames. If you listen, I think you'll agree that he succeeded.
Handel's rousing Music for the Royal Fireworks is another great way to start the day. Mozart's Jupiter symphony will also get you going.

John Skoriak

John — Got them all. Lovin' them all.


After reading the April 14 'Lectronic about U.S. citizens having to leave Schengen Area countries for at least 90 days in every 180 days — making it difficult if not impossible to cruise the Med, as all the European countries bordering the Med are Schengen Area — I had to look to make sure you weren't publishing it on April 1. How silly does it get?

Jimmie Zinn
Dry Martini, Morgan 38
Richmond YC

Jimmie — We didn't believe it either when we first heard of it because it sounded so ridiculous. After all, what very large collection of countries, many with economies in recession, wouldn't want to make it easy for relatively affluent visitors to spend money, hire their workers, and generally contribute to their GDPs? We know that's the philosophy of the anti-gentrification crowd in Oakland, but at least most Eurocrats have recognized the folly of that thinking and are scrambling to review and modify the relevant parts of the treaty.


I was pondering on the Schengen Area issue and wonder if a visit to Gibraltar would satisfy the requirement of non-Schengen Area individuals having to leave Schengen Area countries for at least 90 out of 180 days?

Marc Bodian
Averi, Bristol 35
Boulder, CO

Marc — Gibraltar is under British jurisdiction, and is not in the Schengen Area, which makes it seem as though it might be a loophole country. But how many cruisers would want to spend three months in a country that's only 2.3 square miles — or about 1/20th the size of San Francisco? Morocco, just eight miles across the Straits of Gibraltar, and absolutely a non-Schengen Area country, would seem like a much more attractive option. But remember, unless you're already in southwest Spain, it's a long way from Schengen Area countries to either Gibraltar or Morocco.


If you look at the European cruising problem, you'll note that Turkey is not included in the Schengen Area. And for a good reason. Half of Turkey currently lives in Germany. They emigrated after World War II as guest workers, and never left. As a result, guest workers from outside the Schengen Area, not just Turkey, have become a huge economic drain on those countries that provide free medical care and other social-support programs. Thus the 90-day visa limitation on Schengen Area countries is not much different from visa limitations on non-Schengen Area visitors to French Polynesia.

But there may be ways around it. Do a little research on your ancestry and you may discover that you're eligible for citizenship in an EU/Schengen Area country. Once you jump through the hoops, and they range from simple to substantial, you're golden.

Nick Salvador
No Strings Attached, Baltic 37

Nick — Turkey is always near or at the top of the list of countries for cruisers to go to when one's 90-day visa runs out in the Schengen Area. Most cruisers love Turkey. But depending on where in the Med you are at the time your 90 days run out, it might not be convenient at all.

"Half of Turkey lives in Germany." You're a little off there, as there are 75 million Turks in Turkey and only three to four million Turks — including those who haven't become German citizens — in Germany.

The Schengen Area isn't like French Polynesia at all. French Polynesia is very small, isolated, heavily subsidized by France, and has a population of just 275,000, and everything but coconuts and fish needs to be imported. The Schengen Area currently consists of 28 mostly self-sufficient countries, most of them contiguous and covering a massive area, and has a population of 400 million. It's also close to being the same as the European Union, which has the largest economy — bigger than those of the U.S. and China — in the world. We can see how it would make sense for French Polynesia to limit the length of visits by cruisers, but not for Schengen Area countries. Apparently Eurocrats agree with us, which is why the treaty may be modified in 2015.


A reader asked about getting television on his sailboat. There are several popular satellite television systems on the market for that purpose. Since 1997 I've had a SeaTel gyro-stabilized dish — about $6,500 installed — coupled with a Dish Network VIP211 receiver, and it's worked great. From Mexico to the Panama Canal, and throughout the Caribbean, you sign up with Dish Network, Puerto Rico, and change out the LNB in the receiver. That costs about $100.

In the seven years I've had the system, we've had reliable TV to check local weather reports in 10-ft seas. There have only been a few places — the deeper fjords of Alaska — where we couldn't receive a signal.

Speaking of Alaska, it's a long way from the tropics, but the scenery is beyond spectacular. Yes, it's cool to downright cold, but you forget it pretty quickly because your jaw tends to drop closer to the cockpit sole as you round each bend going north. I strongly suggest that readers charter a boat in Canada and explore at least from the Gulf Islands to Princess Louisa Inlet — where you have to carefully time your arrival to avoid running the rapids. I could wax on for hours, but you have to see it to believe it!

Dick Drechsler
Last Resort, Catalina 470
Las Vegas


I used to have DirecTV at my dock, but when KVH came out with an antenna with a footprint of just 12 inches, I bought one. It's the same footprint as for my radar dome. The system doesn't use that much power, as it only takes 5 amps for the TV, DVR, and dish controller. The cost for DirecTV for North American service is an additional $5 a month on an existing account. I'm sure most cruisers could find a friend and add the new service to an existing account.

I consider satellite television to be an emergency service in the event of a quake or other disaster — as do all of us who aren't out cruising .

Hosting Superbowl or other television event parties at anchor is part of the fun. I found that the KVH/DirecTV system works where the new digital television does not — such as at Angel Island's Ayala Cove, Paradise Cove, and Clipper Cove, all of which are behind a hill. Being able to rent Pay Per View programming is nice, too.

The installation pretty much consisted of adding a stainless support for the antenna at the back of my boat. This cost $1,500. The KVH system was $1,500 after the rebate.

Onboard television has sort of become like GPS for us. We could live without it, but it's just too much fun to go without.

Jeff Berman
Perseverance, Catalina 36


We have funded the last few years of part-time cruising — and our daughter's college education — as a professional yacht captain and chef, respectively. We ran a Westport 112 to Alaska in the summers for a family from Seattle. Want television on your boat? All you need is money to buy a satellite dome and a subscription to DirecTV. The quality is excellent and the signal is rarely affected — although a dome might look a little funny on a small cruising boat.

Unfortunately, we are currently working in Florida, but we're soon to return to the land of tranquility and cheap tacos.

Rob & Linda Jones
Cat'n About, Gemini 3000
La Paz

Rob and Linda — According to the KVH website, they now have a 12.5-inch antenna "perfect for coastal cruising or sailboats," with coverage in "North America and Europe." That's a small footprint, but we presume there must be some trade-offs for having such a small antenna — or everybody would have them.

By the way, megayachts often have two or four giant domes on their masts, but oftentimes one of them has nothing in it. The second or fourth is to 'balance' the look of the yacht.


After paying last year's "unsecured property tax" on our boat, I submitted a letter to the Orange County Tax Assessor, asking to have my two boats — well, Cherokee Rose and her California-registered dinghy — removed from their tax roster. I included proof of her departure from Orange County. So I was surprised to get another tax bill this year, and called their office to see why. It turns out that you need to prove that your vessel has been out of Orange County for the year after you leave. Failing to do this, or failing to pay the tax bill on time, will result in a lien against your boat.

So keep all of those receipts for marinas, fuel, haulouts/repairs, port fees and such. I have all of these, so I sure hope I don't hear from the taxman next year. Stay tuned.

Michael Moyer
Cherokee Rose, Alajuela 48
Newport Beach / Currently in the Marshall Islands

Michael — It's borderline government harassment such as this that encourages many California-based cruisers to establish residency in other states, such as Florida, before taking off.


I should add one thing to Tony Deluca's April issue suggestion of using a squeeze bulb to prime a diesel engine when necessary. If the fuel level is below the fuel pump on the engine, a vacuum can be drawn from lifting the fuel, causing the bulb to collapse. This would block the fuel and cause the engine to die. By the time you got the floorboards up, the bulb would have expanded, concealing the cause of the problem. This happened to me 41 years ago, so I installed a 12-volt fuel pump in the line for priming and transferring fuel. Since then I've had no problems.

A second comment. One of the causes of engine overheating is that sometimes air will collect and remain at a high point in the raw water intake, resulting in a restricted flow of cooling water. A bleeder valve should be installed at any high point in the line.

Ernie Copp
Orient Star, Cheoy Lee Offshore 50
Long Beach


We are part of a high-end hospitality/culinary service, and we want to explore the possibility of serving the clientele at the St. Barth Bucket in 2015. We would appreciate any information regarding the race, island, accommodations, villas and so forth.

Renee Randolph & chef John Myers
Aquatic Culture, San Rafael

Renee and John — The Bucket is a very high-end event that is served by a number of well-established yacht concierge and hospitality services, most of which are based out of St. Barth and Newport, Rhode Island. It's a niche market where most providers have known and dealt with their clients for years. Indeed, many times the businesses have been started by wives of captains. So in addition to having a built-in clientele, they know many of the other captains and boat owners. Also, they are good friends with many of the owners of restaurants, villas, and other providers on the tiny island. In our opinion, it would be difficult for a West Coast outfit to break in, particularly if you weren't fluent in French and didn't have an intimate knowledge of the island's very limited resources and the very subjective needs of superyacht owners.

You can find out everything about the Bucket online, starting with the Bucket website at


I read the April 4 'Lectronic piece about a man 'casting' for a reality television show based on cruising and starting with the Baja Ha-Ha. I'm not surprised, as it was only a matter of time before something like that was proposed.

I completely agree with Latitude's opinion, which is that cruising and reality television should not cross paths, so I was surprised that there might be filming during the Ha-Ha.

Latitude is savvy enough to know that reality television has nothing to do with reality. I know plenty of people who have worked on such shows and, generally speaking, the shows are scripted, set up, or manipulated, or the drama is created in post-production. They don't have much in common with what really happens. When it comes to sailing — and television — most of the world is a bit clueless and will believe whatever they are shown.

I know that filming a reality television show would bring a lot of publicity to the Ha-Ha, but you might think about how it would change the event for those not participating in the show. Cameras following people around change our experience of life. You’ve seen it at all kinds of events, where recording the scene becomes more important than living it. Sure, we all like photos and the occasional video, but that’s different from a whole show.

I hope you’ll give some thought to whether you'll let a professional crew use the Ha-Ha this way. It won’t stem the tide of reality television, but at least it won’t ruin the Ha-Ha experience for the other participants.

We're still in Thailand and still working on the boat. I wouldn’t recommend doing a major refit here, but more on that when we're finished, hopefully in June.

Bruce Balan
Migration, Cross 45

Bruce — We appreciate your concerns, but aren't too worried. In the first place, we suspect the concept is still 'in development', as they say in Hollyweird, which means the chances of its actually happening are slim. We don't think television people have any idea of how difficult it would be to video such a show, and how expensive it would be to do it even half-assed. For starters, the space on small boats is confined even without the addition of a cameraman.

As you can imagine, this is about the 100th time we've heard somebody saying they were going to do a reality television show having something to do with boats. There is a reality show about crews working on megayachts, featuring a guy who had done the Ha-Ha, but it can't compete with the Real Housewife Hookers of Reno, or whatever is hot these days.

Anyway, we'll see how things go before we get too concerned. If it turns out the project actually gets funded, we'll set up guidelines — right after we get a facelift and new teeth, sign up for acting lessons, and get an agent.


I sent the following letter to Mark Fife, who proposes to do a reality television show on cruising:

In my humble opinion, we already have an ever-increasing number of people who, because of their inexperience with the basics of seamanship, put others in danger because they need rescuing. As I'm sure you're aware, a few years ago a racing crew on the West Coast hit an island because they'd been on autopilot using GPS input and not maintaining a proper watch. They all died. I think these developments are due to overly dependent reliance on electronic navigation, global communication capabilities for mayday calls, and ready access to current weather forecasts at sea — all of which make cruising seem to be a less formidable challenge.

For example, all onboard electronics could be fried by a single strike of lightning. If you didn't know celestial navigation, and didn't have a sextant and paper navigation charts on board, you'd be screwed. As a result, I don't think the public at large should be seduced into thinking that cruising is like a walk in the park, and thus decide to try it for themselves just because they might have enough money for a boat.

By the way, new boat designs are not nearly as seaworthy as the more traditional designs, because design considerations have moved away from safety and toward more space for amenities and comfort.

If your television series emphasized the bad and the ugly more than the good, you'd be doing a service to the non-sailing members of the public. It would test their resolve to pursue the lifestyle. However, what are the chances that you end up filming a boat during extreme weather and other life-or-death emergencies — unless you stay with a boat that's attempting a circumnavigation for the first time?

Ronald Swirsky

Ronald — You say you worry about people not familiar with seamanship putting others in danger because they need help, and you cite the case of the boat that hit one of the Coronado Islands during the Ensenada Race, killing all aboard. That incident doesn't support your argument at all, as those who died were all experienced sailors, and the skipper had previously won his division in a previous Ensenada Race. Nor would the Low Speed Chase tragedy at the Farallones support your argument. While we can't be sure in the case of the Ensenada Race boat, it would appear both of those tragedies were caused by experienced — not inexperienced — crews not being vigilant enough.

You claim that "you're screwed" if you suddenly lose your electronic navigation. That's ridiculous. You might have trouble if you were caught in the fog in the reefy areas around Nantucket or at night in the Tuamotus, but on the West Coast and Mexico your safety shouldn't be compromised at all. After all, everyone should know that deep water and safety are to the west. Even if lightning made a direct hit on your compass, you know where west is because that's where the sun sets. Land, and potential danger, is to the east, where the sun comes up. And who doesn't know how to find north? The first time we raced to Mexico we relied entirely on dead reckoning, even when working the eastern shore of Baja on the way to La Paz.

You know when you're really screwed? When you're trying to navigate with sextant and it's cloudy or foggy, and has been for days.

New boats not as seaworthy as older ones? Perhaps in the case of some extreme sportboats, but not in general, at least in our opinion. Newer boats benefit from better design and construction techniques, and better materials. After all, an unnecessarily heavy boat built with inch-thick fiberglass hulls is actually less safe than one with a half-inch-thick hull if all that's needed is a half-inch.

It seems to us that the only way to become a safe and competent cruiser is by doing it. Sailing isn't and never will be for everyone, but we know many smart people who have gone from zero to considerable offshore competency in a matter of months.


Having heard about John Hards fleeing from Nuevo Vallarta with his sailboat because Mexican authorities wanted to seize his boat as a result of a Mexican bureaucrat screwing up the expiration date on his Temporary Import Permit, we're delighted to learn that he and his cat made it safely to San Diego. If there is something we could do to help him, we'd like to, so please send him our email address.

As for ourselves, we can't wait for the end of October to start Baja Ha-Ha XXI.

Mike & Kimber Hamilton
Freebird, Jeanneau 43
San Diego

Readers — There is more about Hards' situation and escape back to the United States elsewhere in this issue.


In mid-November, after a couple of weeks in San Diego doing some spring cleaning, our captain Rod and crew sailed our Dashew 64 FPB motoryacht Avatar 70 miles south to Ensenada for a bottom job. That project went well, and in a few days Avatar was ready to return to San Diego to prepare for our next cruising adventure. That's when things literally went south.

On November 26, AGACE, a Mexican federal taxation agency equivalent to our IRS, raided eight marinas across Mexico, including Marina Coral, where Avatar was at the time. The inspectors were accompanied by three truckloads of heavily armed Marines. They seized 47 boats in our marina, Avatar included, and a total of 338 across Mexico. They placed them under 'precautionary embargo' while they supposedly investigated whether the boats had the appropriate documentation to be in Mexico, and whether the claimed owners were the real owners. All that's required are the normal boat documents and a $50 Temporary Import Permit that is good for 10 years.

Avatar's 'problem' was that the AGACE inspectors could not find her HIN (hull identification number). Please take a look at the accompanying photo, and you'll see that Avatar's HIN number was engraved in the hull, right where it's supposed to be on the transom. We also had our boat documentation number ­— correct size and location — engraved in the inside of the boat.

Not only could the inspectors not find the HIN number, they didn’t bother to ask to be shown it. Avatar's captain was present and available to show it to them. Marina Coral management and attorneys spent months hustling between Ensenada, Tijuana, and Mexico City trying to sort out our situation, but to no avail. Their own businesses were also suffering from the negative publicity.

On our behalf, I started contacting Arizona’s senators, the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana, our insurance company, and attorneys on both sides of the border.

Meanwhile, our cruising plans came to a grinding halt. Not only would we not enjoy an idyllic February trip down the coast of Baja this year, visiting the gray whales en route to Panama, now we never will. Because of what became a four-month nightmare, we will never consider cruising — or spend any money — in Mexico again.

In February, word started trickling in that some boats were being "liberated." But somehow Avatar and the other embargoed boats in Ensenada wound up at the bottom of the list, and remained embargoed. We were told AGACE was simply following a "procedure." A better description might be called 'saving face'.

Finally, almost four months to the day after our boat was impounded, we received documents affirming that we: 1) Had entered Mexico legally. 2) Had been in Mexico legally the whole time. And, 3) Were the legitimate owners of our own boat! The release document, releasing not only Avatar, but almost all the other boats still impounded in Ensenada, is more than 100 pages long. We’re on page 95!

Our original cruising plans for 2014 were to head to the East Coast from San Diego via the Canal. My husband Mike and I planned a spring/summer of leisurely cruising up the Intracoastal Waterway from Florida to the Chesapeake, with opportunities to entertain the grandkids onboard, now that Avatar was no longer thousands of miles away in the South Pacific.

Our having lost four months to the blundering of the Mexican government, the entire schedule was thrown into disarray, as it would now force us to head south at the onset of hurricane season. We are still reconsidering our options, but for now it looks as if the Pacific Northwest is in our sights for this summer’s cruising, and any trips to the East Coast are delayed by at least a year.

To be fair, this entire unpleasant episode could have been worse. At least our crew was allowed to stay aboard Avatar and maintain her, and they were free to come and go. Our worst fear — that our boat would be permanently forfeited to the Mexican government — turned out to be unfounded. We did, however, spend many sleepless nights during the first few months worrying about the possibility. And we didn't have to pay any money to the Mexican government. There were no fines, levies, or hands extended for bribes. The attorneys we consulted declined to charge a fee, both saying they were doing the other a favor.

Lastly, Ensenada is a reasonably pleasant place to spend the winter months, as our Rod compared his detention there to being ‘locked in a golden cage’.

Carol Parker
Avatar, Dashew 64
Tucson, Arizona

Readers — For us, there are two big takeaways from Carol's letter: First, the tunnel-visioned SAT/AGACE bureaucrats, and those higher up in government who oversee them, have no clue how destructive it's been to Mexico to impound foreign-owned boats for up to four months in order to confirm that they were in the country legally, and that those named on the boat document were indeed the owners.

Second, the fact is that nobody in the Mexican government was looking for money. "We didn't have to pay any money to the Mexican government," wrote Parker. "There were no fines, levies, or hands extended for bribes." Latitude's Profligate was similarly impounded for several months and, as was the case with the Parkers, there was never a suggestion of any bogus fines or hands out for bribes. As such, the allegations that the whole business was a PRI-inspired scam to get money from foreigners carries little weight.

It's true that a few boats were fined, but in all the cases we're aware of, it's been because a boatowner's TIP was out of date or because some Mexican bureaucrat made some kind of mistake on the paperwork. AGACE/SAT didn't create fines out of thin air.


While out at Isla Espiritu Santo, one of the great islands not 25 miles from La Paz, we got a text from someone at Marina Cortez, the marina that we'd been staying in. They informed us that "inspections" were going to take place the following day. We were very happy not to have had our sailboat in her berth at the time the inspectors arrived because, although our documents were all in order when we sailed to Mexico in the fall, our Coast Guard document had expired on January 31. And we had forgotten to bring the new one down with us on our last trip.

Please let readers know that Mexico's 'inspections' are not necessarily over, and to be aware of any expiring documents. I feel we may have dodged a bullet, so to speak.

P.S. Please withhold our boat name out of concern that she will be inspected.

La Paz

Susan — You're obviously concerned about 'inspections'/'audits' as conducted by AGACE last November. Given what has transpired, we don't blame you for being a little jumpy. But since AGACE hasn't done an 'audit' of boats since November, we doubt that's what happened. So we contacted Marina Cortez Harbormaster J. Eduardo Corona Arballo to get the story:

"Our marina had a check-up from API (Integrated Port Administration), one of the government authorities that regulate all marina concessions in La Paz. It was not a check-up by AGACE, a sub-agency of SAT (the Mexican IRS), the one that caused foreign boatowners so much trouble.

"I don't believe AGACE is conducting any more 'audits', thanks in part to pressure from Mexico's Tourism Department and the Mexican Marina Owners Association. In any event, we are prepared for any visit AGACE might pay us at any time. Since their foolish operation started, marina owners have been in touch with the owners of marinas that were visited by AGACE to find out how they were treated, what documents were wanted, and unusual situations and special requests — all so we and our clients could be prepared. In some cases I have sent my clients to get new TIPs so all the information — such as engine serial numbers — is up to date. In addition, we have print-outs of HINs on a piece of paper or tape. I have all those prints on file.

"While our check-up with the API went fine, they are entitled to do additional ones whenever they wish. But their job is checking installations of things in our marina to make sure we comply with conditions of our permits and concessions, not the paperwork of boats."

One of the things that gives Latitude a measure of confidence in taking our boat south to Mexico again in the fall is the fact that the marinas have been through this before, and have communicated with each other to find out everything possible that AGACE might want. They are as prepared as they can be, because they all know how much money the fiasco has cost them.


I just read March 26 'Lectronic about people unsure about cruising Mexico this upcoming season, and wanted to let you know that we are Bashing our Catalina 42 Flibbertigibbet back to Discovery Bay from Mexico. Why? To have her in California in anticipation of doing the Baja Ha-Ha XXI. We've even talked some of our friends into sailing their boats in the Ha-Ha! See you in October.

Jim & Betty Adams
Flibbertigibbet, Catalina 42
Discovery Bay

Jim and Betty — While we can't guarantee that the Mexican government won't make more blunders in the future, we doubt it. Which is why we'll be heading south again in the fall after we bring Profligate up from Puerto Vallarta.

We think the key to avoiding problems will be to have all the possible paperwork onboard, with copies in the marina offices, and make sure every number and spelling on every document is correct. The problem is Mexico doesn't make it clear what documents they want, as at times officials want to see documents that aren't even required, such as marina-created Arribos. Plus, Mexican agencies have a history of losing documents emailed to them. Prior to the start of the Ha-Ha, we will be providing everyone with what we believe is a definitive list of required documents as well as those that are merely suggested by marina owners.


My husband Josh and I did our first Baja Ha-Ha in October, and we absolutely loved it! We've been looking for a cruising sailboat for a couple of years, and after our great Ha-Ha experience the stars aligned and we are now under contract to buy a Voyager 500 catamaran. It's so exciting!

We need to sail the cat out of Florida. As we live in San Diego, we hoped to berth her in Ensenada until October, then start our cruising life with the 2014 Ha-Ha. Yet we are very concerned about the impounding issues in Mexico. What are your thoughts on the safety of keeping our boat in Ensenada, and more importantly, on being able to take her out of Mexico when we want to?

The information you've provided on what has happened in Mexico has been amazing, and we are grateful for it.

We will need to leave Florida ASAP if we are to go to Ensenada. If we don't make a window to get up there, we will leave our cat back east and cruise the eastern seaboard this summer.

Suzee & Josh Lippitt
San Diego

Suzee and Josh — Congratulations on what is likely to be your new cat, and thank you for the kind words.

Our gut feeling is that Mexico realizes that the AGACE audits were a monumental blunder, but refuses to apologize for it because they don't want to lose face. In this regard, they are like the United States government — and all other governments. But given the tremendously self-destructive fiasco, we're cautiously confident they won't do it again, at least in such a screwed-up way.

As we've said before, it's incumbent upon the Mexican government to clarify the rules and regulations, and reassure owners of foreign boats that there will be no problems if they follow those rules. They have not done a good job of this to date.


Before we left on our last cruise, which started with the 2011 Ha-Ha, I built a very cool 18-ft carbon and fiberglass sportboat. Think Viper, Open 5.70, J/70, etc. It was a pretty straightforward build, which got me to thinking that it would be a great project for high school kids. They could spend a year building the boat with their mates, then race against the other boats in the spring.

Students would learn composites fabrication, woodworking, hydro and aeronautical engineering, sailing, fundraising and business management, social media, teambuilding and community spirit — and have a great time doing it.

This project would ideally involve approximately 10 students, and require no more than one school year to complete. The build takes approximately 800 man hours. It would also require the support of one faculty/staff point person from each campus to coordinate and oversee the project on site. Each school could decide if they wanted to offer this as a regular class or an after-school project. The project would also require an indoor shop space of no less than 20 x 30 feet and a collection of basic hand and power tools.

The boats can be built for under $10,000. I spent $6,000 using some second-hand components, such as rig and sails. Each student should be prepared to raise or contribute $100/month. Keep in mind that at the end of the project, the team has a finished race boat that can be sold/auctioned off to reimburse contributions or used to fund the next year's build. Depending on the quality of the build, the finished race boat would be a modern design that should be marketable.

Over the course of the build, I would be available to assist not only with design and build questions, but also to teach the students how to sail.

I think the greatest potential benefit is for the 'slip between the cracks' student who is likely not college-tracked, but also not raising any red flags with poor performance or behavior issues. This student can acquire some very valuable real-life skills that can carry him/her into the workforce after high school.

I'm trying to do this in my home area of Sacramento, but thought I would throw it out there to see if anyone in the Bay Area has any interest in getting this project going in a school near them.

I can be reached at .

Ben Doolittle

Ben — We apologize for being somewhat facetious, but you might try the Sausalito Marin City School District, which the San Francisco Chronicle reports spends $30,000 per year per student — or about three to four times the average in California. The student scores are still dismal, demonstrating once again that throwing money at educational problems is rarely a solution. The person to talk to would be Steve Van Zant, who as superintendent of the one-school, 150-student school district, gets paid $165,000 plus benefits a year. And that's for working just three days a week. Is this a great country or what?


I just read the April issue letter about “the annoying buzz” of the author's Monitor timer — timers such as have been a part of the annual Baja Ha-Ha swag for years. The comment made me laugh out loud!

When we got a new Monitor windvane for Catch The Wind in 2006 — to replace the one Sam finished installing at sea during the 1980 Singlehanded TransPac — we got one of those little timers as a complimentary gift. While we were cruising around in the Sea of Cortez a few years ago, we used that timer to remind us to check the refrigerator temp, to time cooking food, and to do so many other things. The timer had a magnet, so it conveniently stuck on the side of the radar.

We returned to the Bay Area in October 2009, and moved into our Antioch home in January 2010. When we did, Sam bought a fancy new timer for the house. But it never worked correctly. Just a few months ago, I tossed that timer in my grandson’s gadget drawer. On our next trip to the boat, I grabbed the Monitor timer off the radar, brought it home, changed the battery — and found that it still works great!

We sold the Monitor windvane last year because we don't need it sailing around the Delta, but we've kept the Monitor timer.

Susie Wilson Crabtree
Catch The Wind, Cal 39


I've been planning on doing some sailing for the last couple of years, but didn't have the chance. Having just graduated from college, I finally have the freedom to commit. As such, I can't explain how eager I am to make this fall's Baja Ha-Ha my first voyage. All I need is a berth on a boat. I'm an athletic, outgoing, enthusiastic guy of 24.

I'm writing to ask for the best way to land a berth on a boat, as I have very little sailing experience. Could you share your wisdom? Where can I make the best contacts, and what training or certification is required?

Mitch Kautza
Colorado Springs, CO

Mitch — While you don't need any certification or specific training to crew on the Ha-Ha, the first thing we'd suggest for your safety and sailing pleasure is some basic sailing experience. We suggest a two-pronged approach to that end. The first is to get in some small-boat experience — an 8-ft El Toro in protected waters would be perfect — where you're the skipper. There's no better way to learn the basics of sailing than by doing, and small boats talk back to you more clearly than big ones. If you find yourself anywhere near Oakland's Lake Merritt, they have small boats you can rent inexpensively. There are similar programs near most bodies of water.

You should also get experience on larger boats. Check out the
'Looking For Crew'section in Latitude and on our online Crew List. Ideally you could find somebody who is looking for weekday evening Beer Can crew, as 'nothing too serious' racing will make you a better sailor faster than anything.

The three best ways to get a berth on the Ha-Ha are: 1) Attend the Ha-Ha Crew List Party at Encinal YC on September 10; 2) Sign up for the
Ha-Ha Crew List at; And 3) take out a Classy Classified to announce your interest and availability.

Good luck!


Please, please tell the Tom Coulombes of the world — he told you to "Stop ass-kissing Mexico. I bet you're the only ones with an impounded boat who keeps saying how great that shithole country is right now." — to stay home, where they belong. Coulombe should count the letters sent to you by cruisers who are positive about Mexico — and pretty much every other country — versus the negative. Of course, he'd probably just say that Latitude only prints the positive.

Mac and I are fine and 9/10ths retired. We are so happy to have our son Neil doing all the important work at Marina de La Paz, and doing it well.

Mary Shroyer
Marina de La Paz

Mary — We don't know how Mexico haters come to grips with the fact that so many cruisers — and others — love Mexico, and thus in many cases stay for years longer than they'd anticipated. As the AGACE fiasco demonstrated, Mexico isn't perfect, but it's still the most popular country with U.S. emigrants. Here are the top five: 1) Mexico, 510,000; 2) Canada, 310,000; 3) Puerto Rico, 210,000; 4) United Kingdom, 190,000; 5) Germany, 120,000.

'Emigrants' are not to be confused with the number of American citizens living in Mexico at any given time. Nobody seems to know for sure, but the general estimates are between 600,000 and 1,000,000.


Latitude asked readers for opinions on whether parents, such as Eric and Charlotte Kaufman of the Hans Christian 36 Rebel Heart, should go bluewater cruising with children as young as the couple's one- and three-year-old daughters. Many years ago my wife Karen and I circumnavigated on an engineless Columbia 24, and in the process our son Falcon was born in Malta. Mind you, this was after his pregnant mother and I fought the strong headwinds of the Red Sea.

We left Malta after just 10 days, as it was getting cold. We cruised the Med, the Atlantic and the Caribbean, and then transited the Canal when Falcon was 14 months old. We continued on to Hawaii, where we sold the boat, bought a bigger boat, and did another circumnavigation with our still-young son.

Did we do something bad? Were we irresponsible? I don't think so. We and hundreds like us sail(ed) around the world's oceans without calling out for any help. Cruisers do it while home-schooling their children, and while teaching their children personal responsibility — a lesson seldom learned by their shore-born brethren. Growing up cruising gives kids a chance to grow exponentially more than in the structured environments on land.

The truth is that parents who raise kids on boats are not the irresponsible ones; the irresponsible parents are those who raise their kids on land. You farm your children off to inadequate schools, you let them waste their childhood playing video games, and you teach them that good enough is a job well done. Those who sail with their children think differently. We're preparing our children for a new and different world. To be survivors, yes, but more importantly, to be adapters.

If anyone is interested in what became of Falcon, they can buy The Education of Falcon on Amazon. It might open their eyes.

Mike Riley
Beau Soleil, Dickerson 41
Coronado / Whangarei

Readers — We'll have more on the Riley family in the June issue. They have been cruising nonstop for decades on about $500 a month. "I don't know how most cruisers spend so much money," says Mike.


I think raising one's family on a boat is one of the best educations children can be given. They grow up 'color blind', they learn how different cultures live, and most likely their home-study courses provide them with a better education than they would receive in most public schools. Many of the cruising children I’ve met along the way don’t even realize their lives are uniquely different from those of most children. I wish I could have been raised aboard a boat traveling the world!

I wish little Lyra a speedy recovery, and I hope the Kaufman family is able to acquire another boat and resume their journey soon.

Shelly B.
Long Beach

Readers — It should be noted that we asked for responses to the Kaufman situation before we reported on another boat, the Open 50 Anasazi Girl, having trouble with young children aboard. The parents, James Burwick and Somira Sao, were sailing from New Zealand and attempting to round Cape Horn with three children — Tormetina, 5, Raivo, 3, and baby Pearl, 1 — aboard. Their boat was dismasted when she was too far out for an air rescue. They were picked up by a Chilean Navy ship, in what was described as a very difficult rescue. Unlike the U.S. Coast Guard, the Chilean Navy towed Anasazi Girl to port. We have a feeling that some of the sailors who support what the Kaufmans were doing would not have supported what Burwick and Sao were trying to do.


I've been reading that some of the critics of the Kaufman family have suggested that taking an infant offshore is so reckless that their children should be taken away from them. Good idea! And that they should pay for their rescue. Every penny of it!

Then there was a piece on National Public Radio this morning reporting how increasing numbers of educated middle-class people in places such as Marin County are not having their children vaccinated for such potentially fatal diseases as measles and whooping cough. In fact, some preschools in Marin have vaccination rates of less than 50%. The parents risk not only the lives of their own children, but the lives of all the other children in the school and in the neighborhood. At least the Kaufmans were only risking their own children.

But given the low vaccination rates, isn't it clearly reckless to raise children in places like Marin County? In fact, it's been pointed out that the risk of your children's catching a serious disease avoidable by vaccination is inversely proportional to the distance to the nearest Whole Foods. Certainly children should be removed from any family reckless enough to live within 10 miles of a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe's.

As for the economics of it all, when a measles or whooping cough epidemic occurs — and they are occurring with increasing frequency — the cost to the public health system is about $10,000 per child. Certainly this cost should be passed directly to those who do not vaccinate.

I have sailed the same offshore waters as the Kaufmans aboard my 35-ft cutter. Tradewind sailing is not particularly dangerous in itself, but you have to seriously face the fact that it may well take you three weeks to get to medical care. I personally would not take small children on such a voyage, but I defend the rights of parents to make these decisions for their families.

Alan Westhagen
Norwegian Steam, Jason 34
Seattle, WA

Alan — We'd like to know where you came up with data supporting anti-vaccination rates being so high near Whole Foods stores. We don't necessarily doubt it, but we suspect it's another one of those phony 'facts', such as Superbowl Sunday being the day with the greatest number of cases of domestic violence.

It's a little off the subject, but in case anybody has been getting on the anti-vax train along with the likes of self-styled celebrity medical experts Jenny McCarthy, former MTV bimbo and Playmate of the Year, and Kristin Cavallari Cutler, reality television star and wife of a Chicago Bears quarterback, they should check out Penn & Teller's vaccine episode of Bullshit! It's a hilarious but educational depiction of the risk to your child and society of going anti-vax.


Embarking on the trip of a lifetime aboard a properly equipped boat with a well-prepared crew — which I understand was the case with the Kaufmans and Rebel Heart — is hardly more hazardous than raising a child in Chicago, Detroit, or Washington, D.C. And let's not even talk about the more than 40,000 people that die on our nation's streets and highways in automobiles. I hope the Kaufmans can get another boat, throw off the lines, and take their children on the trip that they will be telling their grandchildren about. They cannot expect those who don’t have a dream to understand, so they shouldn't waste the oxygen trying.

Howard L. Ward
Notre Reve, Island Packet 40
Chandler, AZ


Although we've now lived on a motor yacht for 15 years, we were originally sailors, so we understand how compelling it can be to make a boat your home. However, we think it was completely irresponsible of the Kaufmans to take their young daughters on this trip, especially on a sailboat of that size. If you need an ambulance while on land, you will most definitely be charged, so they should have to pay at least a portion of the excessive cost of their rescue.

Julie & Chris James


I've known half a dozen families over the past 40 years who have taken long voyages or lived on the water, my family being one of them. This is the first time I've heard of a rescue at sea of one of them. The families have always benefited from the experience.

As a single dad living on a boat with my two sons, I've found that my harshest critics have been childless women burdened with unrealistic notions of child rearing. If the nay-sayers want to keep children safe from harm, the best advice I can give them is to give up the automobile, lock themselves in a room, cover their heads, and pray that there will be no intruders, fires, earthquakes, tsunamis or Republicans in office.

Michael Childs
Sparrow, 30-ft Seychelles gaff ketch


After first reading about the Kaufmans' plight on CNN, I was floored by the vitriol being thrown at these poor people — and not just in the comments to CNN and other media outlets, but also to their own blog and Facebook page.

As former cruisers aboard our Tayana 42 Compañia in the 2001 Ha-Ha, my husband and I met many wonderful cruising families with children of all ages, including very small ones. Most all of these kids seemed very well-adjusted, happy, and having the time of their lives. Furthermore, many of them seemed to have very well-developed social skills for their age, and were unusually at ease around adults.

Is a one-year-old too young to be taken on a Pacific passage? Perhaps, but I'm sure little Lyra isn't the first. The Kaufmans had a well-found boat and seemed no worse-prepared than any of the other cruising families we met, many of whom made successful crossings of their own. As an experienced sailor, I'm reserving judgment. I only wish the hundreds of trolls out there, who don't know a sheet from a sail, would stop hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet to hurl insults, foul language, and ill-informed opinions — things they would never say to someone in person. It's shameful.

Susan Pazera
ex-Compañia, Tayana Vancouver 42
San Francisco


I cannot believe that the Kaufmans say they are proud of their choice to put their child in danger — and cost the American taxpayer thousands of dollars They should be made to pay restitution. And Eric's captain's license should be revoked. I say this as one who has circumnavigated.

Ed Hart
Hooligan, Cascade 29
San Diego


I take issue with one part of Latitude's report on the Kaufmans. You wrote, "Eric, a former U.S. Navy corpsman who holds a U.S. Coast Guard Master's License, called rescue authorities on his sat phone — luckily he and Charlotte had the foresight to bring one along." Luck had nothing to do with it. The end of the sentence should have read " — Eric and Charlotte had the foresight to equip their boat with a sat phone in case of an emergency."

My wife Linda and I have cruised tens of thousands of bluewater miles in a Hans Christian slightly smaller than Rebel Heart, and we support the Kaufmans' choice to go offshore with their children. Everything parents do with or for their children has risks. There are also benefits. The risk of taking children offshore is great, but so are the rewards for the children and parents.

John & Linda Gratton
Nakia, Hans Christian 33
Redwood City / Hawaii


Sailors come in all types and ages. If a boat and crew are well prepared, an offshore voyage may not be everyone's choice, but the choice should be everyone's. This includes families with small children. If expensive rescues become necessary, it would be like insurance, as each of us pays into the pool by paying taxes. Some never need to use the resources, but by paying into the pool, they can access the services if needed. A similar example is the money being spent looking for the missing jetliner. The bottom line is the Kaufmans were apparently well-prepared, but their child got sick and needed medical care. It is a service that our society provides. Anything less would be unacceptable.

Scotty Correa-Mickel
Rosa Nautica, Catalina 400
Santa Cruz


The backbone of our society has been watered down to such a degree that it seems anyone wishing to live their lives outside a routine 8-to-5 existence is looked on as living irresponsibly. That's wrong. And I have no patience with those who have no cruising experience passing judgment on this family.

I think the best environment for a new family is the challenge and camaraderie of long-distance cruising. The results are strong family bonds and independent, well-adjusted, self-confident children. I applaud the efforts of the Kaufmans to get out there and do something with their lives, including doing so with their new baby.

Ted Lavino


Most of the sailors being rescued by the Coast Guard or our Navy are American citizens, and they are generally not the type of people who are burdens to society. They're not in the justice system. They're not in jail. They're not on welfare or disability. They obviously didn't choose the situation that causes them to need being rescued. As people go, they probably have not burdened the public treasury to any extent. So if they run afoul of bad luck, I say rescue them. It's not as if we had to build a ship and send it after them. How much money is wasted on fake rescues in the name of training?

Greg Gibson
Grass Valley


There was no extra cost incurred by the Kaufmans' rescue mission. This kind of operation, no matter how elaborate from a civilian's point of view, is within ANG 129th's core competency. This is simply a training exercise to them, and we taxpayers have already paid for it, whether it's a mock or a real rescue operation.

As to parenting, at the end of a day it's the parents' decision whether they want to raise the next generation with the help of video game consoles or in the sun and surf. I for one applaud what I believe was their correct decision.

Robert Tseng
Planet Earth


If we can afford to spend trillions in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, then I say we can spend a few million here at home rescuing our own citizens in need. Either that or we should get the heck out of all the other countries in the world and send them bills for services rendered.

Dave Barten
Ikani, Gecco 39
Point Loma

Readers — For the record, there are over 160,000 U.S. troops stationed in 150 countries around the world. Of these, 50,000 U.S. troops stationed in Japan, and over 40,000 in Germany. Oddly enough, these numbers are both significantly higher than the 33,000 in Afghanistan, where that war drags on for the 12th year, the longest in U.S. history. We'll let everyone decide for themselves where money is being foolishly spent.


Bravo to the Kaufmans and the entire rescue team group of sailors, jumpers, pilots/air crew, and the Navy personnel. All are wonderfully brave! And the kids — I don't know too many young folks who haven't wished their parents weren't more adventurous.

As for the costs, the United States seems to be ready to rescue anyone and everyone else on this planet, at whatever costs. Why not our own?

George Higbie


Having sailed offshore for three years with three children, albeit young teens, I absolutely support families' taking children sailing. Yes, there are risks, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. Young families who are well-prepared and qualified should not hesitate.

My prayers and good wishes go out to the Kaufman family for their baby's complete recovery, and my condolences on losing their boat. I also support the efforts of the Navy in assisting the Kaufmans. We probably would not have heard this much about the rescue (and who is to pay for it) if it had been some big, expensive yacht in trouble during a race. The Kaufmans have suffered enough; have some compassion and leave them alone.

Josie Glenn Hyde
Morro Bay


The funniest comment was by one of the anchors at The Today Show, who said bluewater cruising was dangerous "because you could be capsized by a rogue wave at any time." This only demonstrates how people should keep their mouths shut when they don't know what they are talking about.

Cruising can definitely be a family experience, but it may be better to wait until the children can appreciate and understand it. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that anyone can get sick at sea or have a crisis, and this should not deter families from such amazing adventures.

As far as the cost of the rescue, speaking as one who completed a Pacific Puddle Jump last year, they weren't doing anything particularly dangerous. And as Americans, we all pay taxes to have access to these services. I have no problems with providing the assistance without charge to the family.

Andrew Rosen
Murar's Dream, Beneteau 46
Marina del Rey


The essence of the issue is determining what the risk/reward bright line is, and who should be allowed to make it. Is that something we let the government do? Certainly when it comes to letting kids suffer in a hot car (no risk/reward ratio there), or feeding your adolescent hard alcohol or illegal drugs, most would agree those are actions of a parent who should be held accountable by authorities.

When parents let their adolescents play football, as mine did, or sail a small boat alone two miles across Hull Bay without supervision at age 10, as mine did, who judges whether attendant and obvious risks are outweighed by the benefits?

It is a thorny question and people have highly subjective opinions. I'm not smart enough to have the answer, but that's for the philosophers, not the lay people. I work very hard to avoid placing blame on any parent for creating risk for their child if there’s any chance they are, at the same time, trying to prepare them for this very difficult challenge ahead of them called life.

Rich Jepsen
CEO, OCSC Sailing
Survivor of childhood

Readers — If anybody cares how Latitude sees it, here goes: We have no doubt that the Kaufmans aren't stupid and love their daughters very much. That being the case, we don't have a problem with what they did. Indeed, if there were such a thing as a Parental Irresponsibility/Stupidity Index, what they did wouldn't even register compared to what tens of thousands of parents in the United States do or don't do with their kids every day. In fact, you have to wonder what percentage of adults should even be allowed to have children. As for the cost, rescue officials have repeatedly explained that it's already been built into their rescue and training budgets.

The publisher's daughter learned to walk in Cabo San Lucas at age 11 months during a weeklong visit to her dad's Freya 39. When she was four and her brother two, we began taking them on one-week boat trips around the Sea of Cortez, and nine months later started taking them on annual three-week winter sailing vacations to the Caribbean. We're not sure our daughter remembers being on a boat when she was just 11 months, but it was great being together as a family. We do know the kids well remember the longer boat vacations in Mexico, and starting when they were almost five and almost three, in the Caribbean. All we have to do is drag out the photos, and the memories and laughter start flowing nearly 30 years later. It was adventurous stuff, so not all of it was idyllic.

Actually, the worst incident of all these sailing adventures occurred when they were flying home from the Caribbean on an American Airlines 767 that hit an air pocket west of Miami, resulting in numerous serious injuries and the plane's having to return to Miami. As they were flying with their aunt and uncle, who were several rows away, it scared the daylights out of them, and has had lasting effects.



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