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June 2014

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I ran into an All Is Lost-type situation while sailing my Cascade 29 Hooligan across the Indian Ocean. My boat wasn't holed as Redford's was, but the prop shaft broke and backed out, allowing sea water to pour into the boat. This happened at 1 a.m, of course, while I was 900 miles from Sri Lanka.

I'm not sure what Robert Redford would have done, but I quickly grabbed the dive mask I keep under the dodger, as well as a length of 3/8" line, and went over the side. I discovered that the shaft with the prop had slid back until it was stopped by the rudder. Fortunately, the shaft and the prop were still there.

I pushed the shaft back into place, then tied the 3/8" line to it. After climbing back aboard and tying the line off to a cleat, I went below and plugged the one-inch shaft hole with a teak plug. And then I continued on to Sri Lanka.

How did I know that the shaft had fallen out and water was pouring in? I'd been sailing along with the Monitor windvane keeping the boat on course. So when the shaft broke and the shaft and prop slid back and hit the rudder, it made the boat go off course. It was the resulting flogging of the sails that awoke me — and probably saved my life.

Ed Hart
Hooligan, Cascade 29
San Diego


My Morgan 45 Painkiller hit a log 120 miles north of Cartagena, Colombia, and sank on April 30, 2000. As a result, I've been getting emails asking if I saw the Robert Redford movie All Is Lost. He faced a similar situation in the movie.

I finally broke down and watched the movie with my wife. Redford's character was so ill-prepared for adversity at sea that it made me queasy to watch the scenario unfold. Chuck Hawley's list in 'Lectronic of what he could have done better was a good start, but there were many things that should have been done before the vessel left the dock.

It was blowing over 20 knots, with 12- to 15-ft seas, when my Painkiller sank. My two crew and I were rescued hours later by a tanker.

Capt. Ron Landmann
Minden, Nevada

Readers — What would a log be doing 150 miles north of Cartagena in the Caribbean Sea? It's all about Colombia's mighty Rio Magdalena, which flows 1,000 miles from its tributaries in the Andes to the Caribbean Sea at Barranquilla. For all intents and purposes, the river — with shrubs, trees, dead animals and such — continues far out into the Caribbean, creating navigational hazards for small boats. We remember surfing down waves off Colombia with Profligate, sometimes having to avoid logs by taking them between the hulls. Yikes.


After — like everybody else — ridiculing much of the way Robert Redford’s character handled his Indian Ocean mishap in All Is Lost, I decided to look at it in a different light. Since there was no prologue indicating what experience the character possessed, or what frame of mind he was in, I decided that he was not very experienced at all. The ocean is full of such boatowners. After all, it doesn’t take much to get a boat and start sailing. In addition, the character was a bit mentally challenged due to his age. Please note, this was just character development and is no reflection on 'old sailors'. I know there are many aged ladies and gents that carry all their experience and wisdom with them.

What I really liked about the almost-silent-movie were the conversations and debate that it generated from patrons leaving the theater. Most films these days are all but forgotten as soon as they are over.

Nik Butterbaugh
Kailani, Beneteau Oceanis 440
Kailua, Hawaii


Speaking of 'old hands' — Sightings, February 2014 — I'm 80 years young and my wife Emily is nearing 70. In our younger years we circumnavigated with Quiet Times, our Cal 46 III. That was 1995 to 2000. We sold that boat in 2004.

Last year we decided that we had a few more years of cruising left in us. So we bought another Cal 46 III in Brunswick, Georgia. We rechristened her Quiet Times, and have been cruising the Abacos and Eleuthera in the Bahamas. We dock the boat in Fort Lauderdale when we're not cruising, and come home to San Francisco for a month or two to visit friends and family and catch up with what's going on in the Bay Area. Our next cruise will be to the Exumas, after which we'll sail north to the Chesapeake.

We bought the same model Cal, built in 1977, as before because we are familiar with every inch of the design from stem to stern. A rugged, cutaway full-keel ketch, she can withstand groundings and collisions with coral heads. She's easy to sail, and is very roomy for the inevitable long stretches in port. Thanks to her 85-hp Perkins, she does eight knots under power and sips diesel.

What's nice about the Cal is that there is enough room in the saloon for weightlifting, something I've done for 50 years. I have a five-ft bar, dumbbell bars, and weights. I create a bench using two file boxes with a board on top.

Our surveyor figures our boat cost about one-fourth of what a similar new one would have run, so even with refurbishment costs, she's an inexpensive big boat capable of crossing any ocean in comfort. Some Cal 46 owners love their boats so much that they've turned them into luxury floating condos after they've quit sailing. Eventually we may do the same, but for now ours is a terrific, fully functional cruising boat, complete with a generator, washer/dryer, watermaker and all the comforts.

Ernie & Emily Mendez
Quiet Times, Cal 46 III
San Francisco / Fort Lauderdale

Ernie and Emily — We salute your continued active lifestyle, which most doctors recommend as being a key to the longest and healthiest life possible. And what a great life — a couple of months each year in a vibrant urban area, and the rest of the time on your boat out in nature.


So far Rimas Meleshyus has been successful — and lucky — in his quest to circumnavigate the globe singlehanded with his San Juan 24 Pier Pressure. In getting from the Pacific Northwest to San Francisco, via Hawaii, he has developed a lot of respect for the open ocean. And he's been accepting help in further preparing himself and his boat for his proposed undertaking.

People have sailed much smaller boats around the world and survived to tell the tale, so I don't like to see people trying to spoil his journey before he sees it through. I don't agree with Latitude when you wrote that what Rimas is doing "is on the edge of being a Manifestly Unsafe Voyage." Rimas is a man with a small boat doing his best to succeed in his 'personal journey'.

Most sailors never get off of the dock because they don't think they are prepared to go. But you can never think of everything. And it really doesn't matter what size boat you have, as it's all about your personal comfort level.

Rimas already has more sea miles than most sailors out there. He needs support, not naysayers. Sure, what he is doing is risky, but so is crossing the street.

With very few exceptions, his journey is safe, and for him, sane! Rimas isn't like you or me, he's much braver, and he's driven by his dream.

Shawn Munger
Olympia, Washington

Shawn — All of life is a risk to be sure, and while we're all in favor of adventure, we don't see the point of unnecessarily stacking the odds against oneself. To suggest that the risk of crossing the street is similar to the risk of sailing a San Juan 24 around Cape Horn is preposterous.

We think it's similarly preposterous to suggest that boat size matters only for comfort. There are waves in the Southern Ocean that could easily swallow a 24-ft boat. Sure, former Berkeley resident Serge Testa sailed his 12-ft Acrohc Australis around the world, but he didn't do it via the Horn and the Southern Ocean. Neither did Webb Chiles when he sailed around in his open 18-footer. It's our understanding that about one sailboat per year disappears trying to sail around Cape Horn. We'd bet that most, if not all of these boats, were inherently more seaworthy than a San Juan 24.

We like Rimas for his spirit and his gumption. It's because we like him that we wish he weren't trying to sail around the Horn with a boat that wasn't made for such a purpose. We're not saying that it's impossible for him to succeed — just as we wouldn't say it's impossible to hit on 19 in blackjack and not win. We're just saying that it would be easy to increase his odds of success, something we think is worth consideration when a life is at stake.

To be clear, we're not suggesting there is anything inherently wrong with San Juan sailboats. They are perfectly fine for what they were designed and built to do.


In 1953, at age 13, I was returning to New York City on a Holland American Lines passenger/freighter ship. One day out of New York City, I put a note with my grandparents' Kansas address in an aspirin bottle and tossed it overboard. About three years later I received a letter from a 16-year-old girl in Normandy, France. Her fisherman father had found the bottle. She wrote in French, double-spaced, with someone else’s hand providing the English translation. We corresponded a few times, me with an awkward teenager’s fantasy of having a French girlfriend.

Her last letter was very short. “My older brother, in the French military, was killed in North Africa.” I never heard from her again. I have imagined the grief her family must have felt, to have raised a baby during World War II, only to have him killed in yet another war. Maybe her parents stopped the correspondence because they sensed the potential loss of now their only child to a foreigner.

Welton Rotz


While kayaking around the Berkeley Marina in September 2006, I came across the following message in a bottle: "Stranger. It's not my fault that I get naked. The music requires that I do so." It was signed Shakira. The handwriting seems to match that on Shakira's website, and she'd been on tour and had been performing in San Jose a week earlier.

Paul Kamen, Naval Architect, P.E.

Readers — For those not current with pop culture, Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, best known simply as Shakira, is a Colombian singer-songwriter, dancer, record producer, choreographer, and model. She was born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia. Having sold over 70 million albums, she was named one of the 100 Most Influential Women in the World by Forbes magazine.


About 50 years ago our family was beachcombing around Red Rock, the island near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. My mom, now 93, had us two little sea squirts hanging onto her skirt. We found a bottle with a note in it that instructed us to, of all things, take it to Macy's department store to receive a free gift. My brother and I were so excited! When we got to Macy's, the lady at the counter slid a box of 12 bottles of after-shave cologne across the counter at us. That took the wind out of our sails. But from then on our mom could keep track of her crew by smell.

Molly Pruyn
Alberg 35
Richmond YC


I've never found a message in a bottle, but I tossed a bottle with a message overboard. It was 1968, and I was somewhere between the Gate and Monterey at the time. Three years later somebody in the Marshall Islands found the bottle and message, and they contacted me. I've since heard that such things are not uncommon.

Brooks Townes
Port Townsend, Washington


On December 21, 1967, I was home on leave from the Army at my parents' house in south Orange County. As I remember, the weather was fabulous — mid-70s, water about 60°, small north swell running. So my buddies and I went surfing just south of San Onofre. Before paddling out — no wetsuits or leashes in those days — I found two glass bottles on the beach. This was long before plastic trash appeared on our beaches. The bottles were green and had a series of five-pointed stars around the neck. Inside were notes that said if the finder would send the time, date, and location of finding a bottle, along with the note to the Queen Mary in Long Beach, he or she would receive a gift.

I kept one bottle and sent the other note in the other to the address indicated. A few weeks later I received a very nice ashtray (?) with a picture of the Queen Mary and an inscription stating the dates of her last voyage: October 31 to December 9, 1967, Southampton, England, to Long Beach.

Keith Fullenwider
Capistrano Beach


I sailed to Oahu from San Francisco in 1989. When we hit the halfway mark, we celebrated with a bottle of champagne. When we were done, I put a drawing of the boat and my card in the empty bottle and tossed it overboard. A year later I got a letter from a U.S. Marine in Japan, who had found the bottle on a beach on a small island off Okinawa. He took a photo of it in the sand and one of him holding the drawing.

Steve Andersen
Thetis, Ericson 32-1
San Rafael


Do you know what kind of satphone the Kaufmans used on Rebel Heart to call the Coast Guard, the one that then didn't work anymore? Was it an Iridium, a Globalstar, or a Thuraya? Apparently their satphone stopped working because their SIM card was no longer valid.

We are concerned about the SIM card issue, because we found out that Iridium SIM cards get deactivated if you run out of minutes and don't get more within a few days. Please advise, as this is a serious issue because more and more cruisers are using satphones instead of SSBs.

Marek Nowicki
Vet of the 2003, 2005 and 2012 Ha-Ha's
Raireva, Vickers 34
Green Cove Springs

Marek — This is indeed a serious issue, as satphones are increasingly the emergency lifeline cruisers have when far offshore. When there was a serious illness on the Ha-Ha last year, having a satphone aboard Profligate was a godsend. We presume that Rebel Heart used an Iridium phone, as it's the most popular satphone in the United States. Globalstar's bent-pipe technology wouldn't have worked as far offshore as Rebel Heart was.

Eric Kaufman told NPR radio that they used their satphone to call the Coast Guard and give a pan-pan advisory of their situation. But their phone no longer worked after the first call. Kaufman said one of the factors in their decision to activate their EPIRB was that they were offshore with a sick infant and boat problems, and could no longer make calls to the Coast Guard and doctors.

The Kaufmans say they later found out that their satphone time provider had sent them a new SIM card. They hadn't gotten it because they were in Mexico and/or had already taken off when it arrived.

It's not entirely clear to us why the Kaufmans were sent a different SIM card, but an experience we had last summer may shed some light on it. When the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca brought Profligate north from Mexico, we were surprised to discover that our normally reliable Iridium satphone wouldn't work. Assuming that we needed more time, de Mallorca called the retailer and ordered more time via credit card. The phone still didn't work.

When we got to California, the retailer explained that either the time period for using the minutes, or the minutes, had run out. In either case, for some reason we needed a new SIM card.

We'd never had this problem before because previously the retailer would notify us when we needed to sign up for new minutes and/or a new time frame in which to use them. They had a good reason to do this, as selling time is one of the biggest ways they make money. Alas, the reliable woman who had handled our account had left the company. She had been replaced by a numbskull who: 1) Neglected to notify us our time period for using minutes was about to expire, and 2) neglected to inform us that just putting more money into our account wouldn't help at all because we needed a new SIM card.

We don't know the details of the Kaufman case, but we assume something similar happened to them. Even more troubling is the fact that we've heard from at least one other Puddle Jump boat whose Iridium would no longer work because they also needed a new SIM card.

The bottom line is that prior to making a trip offshore, somebody needs to make sure that your boat's satphone has enough time and a long enough time frame in which to use the time, ensuring that your SIM card will continue to be good. One would like to think this is something that time providers would handle, and with plenty of advance notice. But as we've seen, they can't be relied on.

So if you're about to do a Pacific Cup or Singlehanded TransPac or otherwise sail offshore, make sure that you've checked with your provider to make sure you won't have any problems.


It’s been five years since our Catalina 27, with an outboard, was the 'little boat' in the 2009 Ha-Ha. So we thought it was time to catch up.

Signups for the Ha-Ha have just begun, so we're writing to encourage owners of small boats to join the Ha-Ha, as they can have a wonderful time cruising in Mexico. In fact, we think they can have a better time than a lot of folks with the bigger boats, because costs increase exponentially in every respect with boat length. Potential cruisers should also remember that no matter what size boat anyone has, everybody's boat has the same size 'backyard', and the backyard is just as beautiful. We're in no way disparaging those with larger boats, but we can’t count the number of times owners of larger boats have said, "I wish I had a smaller boat" or "I wish I'd kept my Catalina 27."

Our Willful Simplicity is well-known on the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez, especially around La Paz. Shortly after we got here, we befriended the residents of the fishing village of San Evaristo, 50 miles north of La Paz. They have taken us in as part of their family. They put two moorings in the anchorage that are theoretically there for their boats, but they want us to be safe, so they want us to use one when we are there.

Four years ago we started accepting donations from cruisers for the village of San Evaristo. We'd get on the La Paz morning net when we'd go down there every six weeks for reprovisioning and announce that we were accepting stuff. The wonderful cruisers that have been in and through La Paz during the last four years have been unbelievably generous. They have donated everything you can imagine, from clothing, to school supplies, to batteries, to solar panels. And when they've come through San Evaristo, they've also donated their time and labor. None of what we have been able to accomplish in San Evaristo would have been possible without the great people who made the leap of faith to become cruisers.

We are excited because this has opened up San Evaristo as a place where cruisers know they will be welcome to experience an authentic Mexican fishing village, and to discover just how wonderful these people are. Spending so much time here, and becoming part of the family, has truly been the experience of a lifetime. It's so rewarding to live with people who know that family is the most important thing in life. We have learned a true definition of wealth. Maybe not everyone would understand or agree with us, but we are truly grateful.

Thanks again to the Grand Poobah and the staff at Latitude, because five years ago you made this possible for us. The Poobah has always said that it's not important how big your boat is, just that it's safe, after which you just need to sever the docklines and start experiencing the joys of cruising. So we recommend that owners of small boats sign up for the Ha-Ha, then come and see us at San Evaristo. We've got some great people for you to meet.

P.S. Latitude did an article on the full reconstructive back surgery I had after our first few months down here. It was a total success, and we still highly recommend the medical professionals down here.

Steve & Charlotte Baker
Willful Simplicity, Catalina 27

Steve and Charlotte — Thanks for all the kind words. For what it's worth, the Bakers and their humble Catalina 27 had no problem on the second leg of the 2009 Ha-Ha, which was probably the roughest of the 60 legs of the event to date. That the wind was from aft of the beam didn't hurt.

We like to think that we have a pretty good handle on the pros and cons of big boats and small boats, as we've sailed Mexico in everything from a Cal 25 to an Ocean 71, and the Caribbean in everything from an Olson 30 to our Surfin' 63 catamaran. The simplicity of small boats is hard to beat, but so is the pleasure of being able to sail with a dozen or two of your friends on a bigger boat. A boat for every purpose. We love them all.


The Wanderer’s April piece comparing cruising in Mexico with cruising in the Caribbean caught our eye. Having had boats in both places, we have to chime in. We agree with everything the Wanderer wrote — up to the closing “can’t live without either” comment. For after years of sailing in the U.S. Virgins, British Virgins, Spanish Virgins, and a couple of side trips to St. Martin and St. Barth, we would be happy if we never went back.

The trouble with the Caribbean, especially for West Coast sailors, is that it's a long, hard trip to get there. Soon after 9/11, when flying stopped being fun, and when the price for a slip on Tortola reached over $1,000 a month for our Catalina 42, we started keeping our boat on the hard in Virgin Gorda because it cost half as much. But what we saved in slip fees, we paid for in difficulty getting to our boat.

From our home in the Bay Area, we had to make a trip to SFO, fly across country, change planes on the East Coast, take a taxi from the airport in St. Thomas to the ferry terminal, then take two more ferries to get to our boat in Virgin Gorda. It took us 30 exhausting hours, and sometimes our bags didn't arrive with us.

Now that we keep our boat in La Paz, we can drive from our home to our boat in 26 hours, which is four hours less than it took us to fly and ferry to the Caribbean. And it's a lot less expensive for two to drive to La Paz. In addition, when driving to Mexico, we can bring anchors, sails, hardware, bundles of Latitude 38s for friends, and other goodies. Being able to bring stuff to our boat is a big money-saver. For example, we were quoted over $1,000 just to ship a boarding ladder to St. Thomas. When we drive to Mexico, anything that fits in the back of our SUV is fair game. Half the stuff we bring is for dock neighbors.

We also think the Wanderer neglected to mention one of the negative things about Mexico — Jet Skis! I don’t remember ever seeing them in the Caribbean. But there have been a couple of times in the Sea of Cortez when we've been anchored in a quiet anchorage, and along came a big-ass powerboat with one or more of the damn things. It made us think we were back in the Delta.

Anyway, it was a great piece, although you could have mentioned the greater safety and more friendly locals in Mexico a few more times.

P.S. On our last two trips to Mexico we brought armloads of Latitudes — what a hit that was!

Jim & Betty Adams
Flibbertigibbet, Catalina 42
La Paz, BCS, Mexico

Jim and Betty — It does take a lot of time and money, and is exhausting, for West Coast sailors to get to and back from the Caribbean. It's gotten worse since American stopped flying to the British Virgins and started charging, like most other airlines, for just about every bit of baggage and inch of legroom.

On the other hand, 'commuter cruising' to even mainland Mexico is perfectly viable from the West Coast. If you buy tickets in advance during non-peak periods, they aren't that expensive. And flying time between San Francisco and Puerto Vallarta/Banderas Bay is just 3 hours and 15 minutes.

That said, the pure sailing conditions in the Caribbean are simply the best in the world. We've sailed the Olson 30 La Gamelle out of St. Barth for three seasons now, and have never once needed the outboard we removed three years ago. That's Zen sailing at its finest. You can do that in the Caribbean, but you can't do that in Mexico. The much more expensive Caribbean also has bluer water, better beaches, and an infinitely higher percentage of younger sailors and world-class yachts.

As we wrote, Mexico and the Caribbean are about as different as two tropical places can be. To each their own, but we can't live without the yin and yang of the two.


We completed our circumnavigation in October 2013 when we crossed our outbound track at the Balboa YC in Panama. Like a lot of boats that have been pushed around the world in five years, we had some accumulated maintenance issues that we decided we'd get taken care of while we were in Mexico. Having been around the world, if we had to be stuck somewhere for a few weeks, Mexico would be at the top of our list of places.

When we passed through Mexico on our outbound leg six years ago, several experienced cruisers told us that we were not going to find any place better than Mexico. They were right. We had great times in Peru, the Galapagos, Australia, Vanuatu, Maritius, South Africa, Namibia, St Helena, Ascension Island, and Puerto Rico. But as a cruising destination, Mexico is still unbeatable. Our favorite places so far are Zihuatanejo and La Paz.

Anyway, we decided to have our boat work done by the premium yacht maintenance organization in Mazatlan, which was then called Total Yacht Works. Like several other boat owners, we got caught in the middle of the mess that resulted when Canadian Bob Buchanan, the majority owner of Total Yacht Works, fled the country following some sort of disagreement with a former business partner.

We don't know any more of the back story behind Bob's departure than what we have read in Latitude. We have heard lots of contradictory rumors about who did what to whom, but never really tried to figure out the details of why Bob bolted. It was not relevant to the situation we found ourselves in, which was a real mess. You see, we had no warning. We learned on Monday that Bob would not be in that day. On Tuesday we learned that he had left the country on his boat and would probably never come back.

Our boat was, at the time, on the hard in the Fonatur yard. Our engine was in pieces in a shop that was under threat of being seized by the government. We were told that the assets of the business — did that include our engine? — could be used to satisfy severance pay obligations to the employees. For the rest of our stay in Mexico, we were worried that some government agency would slap a lien on our boat over this mess.

But at the height of our anxieties and frustrations, we were, once again, able to experience the incredible decency of the Mexican people. It was the former employees of Total Yacht Works, who stood to lose the most, who bailed us out. And they never said a word about what must have been a devastating event in their lives.

The workers just buckled down and got our engine and boat back together, and back in the water. They never asked if we were going to pay them for the week they spent finishing our repairs, and never cut corners to do the job before them. When one of the bolts securing our motor mounts broke, there was no question about replacing them all, rather than just the bad one. Replacing all the bolts was the right thing to do. I never had to say a word. David, the mechanic in the group, made two trips to the local stainless fastener shop to get the right bolts. Nothing was forced to fit. Our week was full of examples like that. Roberto, the parts manager, sourced parts that we needed, and drove all over town picking them up.

In the end, we paid the workers directly for their labors. They then pitched it all in to take over the shop and build a new business from the ashes of the old one. They named their new business Active Marine Services — after the name of our boat, Active Transport.

We have no financial interest in the business they are building, but can't help but wish them the best. We are confident that cruisers who follow us will enjoy the same excellent service and honest craftsmanship that we did as the company's first customers. Their new web site is

If I may pitch their business a bit more, there are several benefits to using Active Marine Services. For one, the Fonatur yard they use is spotless. The management must really stay on top of the businesses that operate in the yard, because most yards aren't anywhere near as tidy. If you live on your boat during your haulout, you get access to the heads and showers of the small but well-maintained Fonatur marina, which are close by. You also get to use the second-story swimming pool.

Last but not least, there is Miriam. This young woman, who runs the office and the Marine Travelift, really knows her stuff and treats boats with great care. The Travelift operator for our haulout was a very competent young man, but only because Miriam was training him. She is the pro.

In our opinion, cruisers who find themselves in need of a good and economical yard for boat work in Mexico should seriously consider Active Marine Services.

John Lewis
Active Transport, Tayana 37
Hilo, Hawaii

John — We've heard several other very positive reports about Active Marine Services, and wish them the best.

It's interesting to note that you're not the only circumnavigators to have a letter this month naming Mexico as the best place you've cruised in the world. That's a much-needed feather in Mexico's cap.


Based on an article I read in the New Zealand Herald, Puddle Jumpers need to be aware that cases of dengue fever, aka breakbone fever, are at record levels in the South Pacific. There have been almost 10,000 cases and at least 11 deaths recorded in Fiji since last October. An increase in cases has also been noted in French Polynesia, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. You get the fever from Aedes mosquitoes, which bite during the day, particularly in the early morning and late afternoon.

Two other mosquito-borne viral diseases are causing problems in the South Pacific. The first is zika fever, previously only seen in Africa and Asia, which has been causing illness in French Polynesia since October last year. This is usually a mild illness, with fever, headaches, conjunctivitis, rash, and muscle pain, though there have been neurological complications in some cases. The second is chikungunya fever, also from Africa, which is similar to dengue, but with prominent joint pain, and which can be severe. Cases of dengue in people returning to New Zealand have increased fivefold from the same three-month period two years ago.

Jessie Balding
Etoile, Ecume de Mer 26
Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Jessie — Dengue has long been a big if not bigger problem in the Caribbean, where chikungunya has now made its unfortunate appearance, particularly in the French Islands. We have two good Bartian friends who got 'chikun', and they reported it's not only wicked, the terrible arthritis-like symptoms can keep reappearing for months, if not years.

The only prevention is to not get bitten by the mosquitoes. This means using DEET liberally while ashore. It also means cruisers are lucky, because mosquitoes usually don't make it out to boats. In places they do, screens are a must.


It's been 28 years since we bought and moved aboard the Serendipity 43 Wings in Seattle, and 18 years since we started sailing around the world. That's a long time, of which we've enjoyed just about every minute. It's time for an update.

Judy and I are now in Costa Rica, nearing the end of our very long circumnavigation. Wings hasn't changed much in all that time, but we have — we're a bit older. As such, maybe it's time for us to settle down a little. So after another 1,000 miles or so, during which time we'll cross our outbound path, we'll probably stop in Mexico and base out of there.

Here are a few highlights of owning Wings. We lived aboard and raced in Seattle for 10 years, then sailed south to Mexico in 1986. Mexico was wonderful, of course, and we enjoyed the Sea of Cortez, La Paz, Mazatlan, Guaymas, Puerto Vallarta and all the other stops along the West Coast — including Acapulco. We raced in the Banderas Bay Regatta in 1997, and won our division. That was fun. Mexico is like our first love, the one we'll never forget.

Crossing the Pacific in 1998 was also wonderful, with our landfall in the Marquesas being particularly unforgettable. We had great weather for that crossing, and met a lot of really neat fellow cruisers in the South Pacific. That was the year when we made our best 24-hour run, 203 miles, between Bora Bora and Samoa. In those years we hadn’t learned to slow down, and still sailed Wings as though we were racing her. I guess that 450 races in Seattle before we left had given us some bad habits, I'm not sure I've lost all of them yet.

When we arrived in New Zealand we fell in love with that beautiful green country and all her fantastic sailors. Judy and I both worked for a year in Auckland. Then I quit the corporate world and got media credentials so I could work as a photographer for the 2000 America’s Cup. One day I met Wings' designer, Doug Peterson, at the media center and told him what a great boat we thought the Serendipity was for cruising. He seemed surprised.

A couple of years later, after trips to many of the Pacific Islands, we sailed into Sydney Harbor. We beat past Sydney Head in 25 knots on a sunny Sunday, and came upon a race inside the harbor. All the racers were wearing shorts and T-shirts. It was surreal because we were still bundled up in foulies. We stripped off our heavy gear and joined in the race!

It took two attempts, but in 2004 we finally made it from Australia to Hong Kong, where we spent 18 months. Hong Kong is a fantastic place, and we loved it. We sailed out of Discovery Bay on Lantau Island, and found the Hong Kong sailing scene to be vibrant and fun. Sailors in Hong Kong know how to have a blast, and we readily joined in. But you need to have money for the good life in Hong Kong, so we both went to work again.

After a second cruise through the Philippines, in 2006 we sailed to Singapore, where we got new jobs. We then moved to Bangkok for three years, keeping Wings in either Raffles Marina in Singapore or Yacht Haven in Phuket. During those years we commuted to the boat every two weeks and raced every chance we got. Among the races we did was the 2007 King's Cup, which we won. If Mexico was our first love, Thailand was our second. The food, the people, the cruising — all are top-notch. We miss it.

We had one false departure for crossing the Indian Ocean, which, after experiencing some really bad weather and other unfortunate circumstances, made us turn back. It fact, it almost ended our cruising, as we were ready to ship the boat back to North America. We finally decided to take on crew — Pierre, the famous French guy in Singapore — for what turned out to be an epic sail across the south Indian Ocean. That was probably our most arduous sail, as we had 18 days of strong winds and big seas. We arrived sunburned and salty at Mauritius, where Pierre left us. He would later be replaced by Jean and Jennifer Mee, a delightful Mauritian couple. They are good sailors who are always up for an adventure.

Six months later we sailed to South Africa, which proved to be another fantastic stop. We had some boisterous sails in the Agulhas Current down the east coast of South Africa, but never had any real problems. We bought an old Mercury so we could tour game parks and other places in Africa. In 2012, we set off across the Atlantic with Randy and Laura, formerly of Pollen Path.

St. Helena, Fernando de Noronha, Brazil, and finally Trinidad — all interesting stops, and we had pleasant winds, favorable currents, and excellent crew the whole way.

I won't say too much about the year we spent in the Eastern Caribbean, except to say that despite the crowds and perhaps higher-than-necessary prices, it rewarded us with lots of great sailing and many new friends. We raced a few races, including Antigua Sailing Week, where we were trounced for the first time ever. That defeat still burns.

Now, after a long stay in Colombia and another in Panama, and a transit of the Canal, we find ourselves back in the Pacific and closing in on completing our circumnavigation. We have visited 45 countries by boat, and many others by land and air, and it's been great. We've had wonderful experiences that we will treasure always, and made countless great friends. We've raced in dozens of ports, and joined boats for races — such as the Sydney to Hobart — where we couldn't take Wings.

Our Serendipity 43 has been a fantastic boat. We still love her and we love living aboard. This has been a great life that we don't want to be over, so we'll be looking for more sailing adventures in the future — even if it doesn't include any more ocean crossings. We've sworn off those.

Thanks for mentioning us in the May issue and publishing the photo, but there were a couple of errors. First, the woman in the photo with the giant squid was actually Andrea Nowasad. Sorry about the mixup in our blog. Andrea and her husband Neale have sailed — and raced! — their Vagabond 47 Epic out of Hong Kong for many years. Their boat is now for sale as they have an Oceanis 45 on order.

Also, while we did have some really bad weather on our way from the South Pacific to New Zealand in 1994, we weren't actually in the Queen's Birthday Storm.

Fredrick Roswold & Judy Jensen
Wings, Serendipity 43
Golfito, Costa Rica

Frederick and Judy — Thanks for the terrific update. The reason we thought you'd been in the Queen's Birthday Storm is that, as you might remember, we used a two-page spread photo of Wings in rough South Pacific conditions to illustrate that storm. Sorry. In any event, congratulations on the upcoming completion of one of the longest circumnavigations by West Coast sailors we can recall.


I sail to Catalina quite frequently, and over the years have anchored at several different coves. I’ve never, however, tried anchoring atop or near Harbor Reef off the Isthmus. But I've seen Latitude's catamaran Profligate anchored there several times, and have read that you've spent quite a bit of time on the hook there. So I hope you can answer a few questions.

What was your experience with the holding ground? What's the bottom like? Is there any part of the triangle formed by Bird Rock, the pole, and the buoy that you recommend?

My boat draws 4'11" — about the same as Profligate — so it seems as though there would be enough water on the reef, as long as I avoided the well-charted rock on the southeast part of the triangle. There is also one spot on the reef where the depth appears to be just shy of six feet, so I'd avoid that if there were a minus tide.

Since this area might be a bit less-protected, and therefore more rolly than in the deeper water against the cliffs, I'd probably deploy a flopper stopper. But Profligate is so stable that I'd guess the rolling wouldn't be an issue for you.

Alan Gomes
Spartina, Ericson 26
San Pedro

Alan — We haven't spent much time at Harbor Reef recently, but over the years we've probably spent over 150 nights above it. Ninety percent of the time we've had the place to ourselves.

The reef is rock, and except for the spot next to the southeast piling, and the one shallow spot halfway between the piling and the buoy, it's about 10 to 50 feet deep. On one occasion one rudder tapped the rock at the shallow spot halfway between the piling and the buoy, and a couple of other times we shortened up on the rode because it looked as though a rudder might tap it again. But depth has rarely been a worry.

After we've dropped a honking big Fortress anchor on the rocky reef, there's never been a danger of our boat dragging. Supposedly there is a sand patch in about 50 feet just to the north of the reef where you can drop a hook, but we've never bothered to look for it. The rocks on the reef are craggy, so sometimes our anchor chain will get snagged and jerk the cat up short. Once, we couldn't work the chain free and had to have a diver free it from being wedged between some rocks. Usually there is a thick kelp forest atop the reef. It might be our imagination, but it seems the gentle motion of the nubby kelp rubbing against the hulls kept the bottom clean.

There are some great things about anchoring on Harbor Reef — you're by yourself, the water is often very clear, the kelp forest is beautiful, the scenery is beautiful, the Internet is decent, and unlike when on a mooring or anchored near the cliffs, you don't need clothes. Oh yeah, it's free, too.

There are two bad things about anchoring on Harbor Reef. The first is that people with relatively large powerboats think nothing of passing within 50 feet of you at 25 knots, creating huge wakes. Thanks a lot. Even big ferries passing 200 yards away can rock the fillings out of your teeth. But worst of all is that on many afternoons there is a southwesterly wind blowing out from the Isthmus, and a northwesterly swell coming down the face of the island. The result is that any boat anchored on the reef — which gets almost no protection from the swell — is going to be beam to the swells. Thanks to Profligate's 30-ft beam, we've never had to move because it was so unpleasant, but sometimes it's been pretty noisy and certainly less comfortable than if we'd been anchored closer to shore. However, on many afternoons it would simply be untenable for monohulls, which is why you rarely see them out there. Mornings and evenings are normally much calmer.


There have been a lot of comments about cruising with young children, as the Kaufmans were doing. My wife and I were blessed with a daughter, born in Fiji, who sailed the rest of the way around the world with us. Were there risks? You bet. Were there uplifting life experiences for us all? You bet. People can live their lives in cul de sacs if they want. There won't be many risks, but there won't be many uplifting experiences either.

Gary Balding
Heart of Gold, 30-ft sloop
Winchester Bay, Oregon


I recently received an email from Austrian friends Karl and Alexandra Mayer, aboard their 47-ft steel boat Muktuk. They've been cruising with their sons Jan and Noah, who I believe are 9 and 7. Karl used to be a tech guy on the world motocross circuit, and has been quick to help other cruisers with their mechanical problems. 'Ally' is a teacher who homeschools their sons. They are the sweetest and most humble people.

Not long ago the family finished a circumnavigation of the Americas, meaning from the Northwest Passage to Cape Horn, and now they are sailing a course that many others wouldn't dare — nonstop from New Zealand to Alaska. I think what the family has done and is doing is a great counterpoint to the Rebel Heart incident. They would make a great interview. Based on the most recent email, here's a synopsis of what they've been up to lately:

They spent six months in New Zealand, two of them at Stewart Island, circumnavigating what they found to be a very beautiful country. They headed south from Opua so early in the season they only saw two other cruising boats the whole time. They had "shit weather" for the first four weeks, with "only two days without gale or storm warnings." But they wrote of great anchorages, lovely scenery, and plenty of seafood. While going up the west coast, they stopped at the fjordlands. They departed New Zealand at Nelson for Alaska in March.

"Tomorrow we will have been five weeks at sea, during which time we have covered 4,000 miles," they wrote. "We still have another 2,300 to go to Dutch Harbor. We are all doing great beating into the tradewinds, but we are definitely looking forward to some cooler weather. The South Pacific Convergence Zone and the ITCZ made sailing quite miserable. Who needs the doldrums anyway? Our route might not be the most logical, but it will get us to the Aleutians. The boys are doing great. They are in their offshore mode, which means reading a lot, listening to audio books, having school in the morning, telling stories only they can understand, and spending hours knitting and crocheting. They've already made a collection of hats and scarves."

Yes, I think they'd make a great interview.

Tom Van Dyke
En Pointe, Searunner 31
Santa Cruz

Tom — What the Mayers have done and are doing is more extreme than what most cruising families do. Heck, it's far more extreme than what most cruisers do. So yes, we're sure they'd make a great interview. That said, we'd be more inclined to do an interview with a California cruising family doing something more middle-of-the-road.


I think it's wonderful when children have the ability to be with their parents in a constructive environment like cruising. I say more power to the Kaufmans and the many other cruising families of the world. Undoubtedly their children will not grow up to be drug-using, lazy, homicidal pieces of dirt that the United States seems to be turning out in abundance.

If we mariners were to have to pay for the rescue of fellow mariners such as the Kaufmans, then I think the survivors of airline crashes should have to pay for their rescue, too. The same can also be said of commercial fishermen, people in train derailments, canoeists, and motorists evacuated from their vehicle during a flood, hurricane, or any other act of God.

Hundreds of boaters from around the world are heading to the South Pacific at this time of year. Unfortunately, many of them do not have the experience of Mr. Kaufman, nor a boat as seaworthy as the family's Hans Christian 36. The Kaufman family was doing everything that many other experienced sailors are in the process of doing at this very moment. Wake up, America! The mainstream news organizations should be ashamed of themselves for the shallow treatment given to this topic. No wonder the Kaufman family was sailing away.

Mark Bigalke
Vancouver, Washington

Mark — It's a bit of an exaggeration to say it's 'beyond a doubt' that kids brought up on cruising boats won't turn to drugs. It's happened. That said, based on the cruising kids we've known, particularly those who have become adults, being raised on a boat and in the cruising community seems to offer a lot of advantages and opportunities to take on major responsibilities at a young age. We think this is particularly true for kinetic boys, who seem to learn most quickly by doing things they find interesting in the real world, and who seem to be failed by the current education models here in the States.


After I wrote my May issue article about solo sailor Webb Chiles, who plans to sail around the world singlehanded with a Moore 24, I was notified of multiple mistakes and inaccuracies in my piece. I'd like to correct them.

I incorrectly stated that Carol, Webb's current wife, is his sixth wife. She's actually only his fifth wife, as he once married the same woman, Suzanne, twice. He's been married six times, but only to five women.

During Webb’s sea trial around Guadalupe Island, I reported that his Moore 24 Gannet often saw speeds of eight knots in just 10 to 12 knots of breeze. I stated that he'd been flying a spinnaker during these times. He was actually sailing with just a full main and a furling 110% jib.

Since Gannet will have no windvane — or wind instruments — I reported that Chiles would rely on tiller pilots and solar power for steering, and that he planned to spend long periods of time at the helm. This is incorrect. His backup 'autopilot' will be sheet-to-tiller steering. He hopes to spend little time driving the boat.

I interviewed Webb on two delightful afternoons in San Diego, during which time we had lunch and hung out on Gannet. I took extensive notes and wrote down lots of quotes. But thanks to our lively discussions about singlehanding small boats, followed by my long solo passage to Hawaii, I may have become confused about some of my notes.

I apologize to Latitude readers and to Webb for misrepresenting his words. I promise to do better in the future.

Ronnie Simpson
Mongo, (Nor)Cal 27
Currently in Lahaina, Hawaii


Although many people, ourselves included, go to Mexico and enjoy the food and drinks with few to no problems, it was disturbing for us to read about Jeff and Debbie Hartjoy’s experience of Debbie's possibly being drugged by one of the margaritas she drank. And then having the Wanderer follow it up by mentioning that his whole crew of healthy 30- to 40-year-olds once had a similar experience with a pitcher of margaritas. The reason we found it so disturbing is as follows:

A few years back, Ray and Diane Edwards, dear friends of ours, enjoyed the Baja Ha-Ha and then continued to enjoy cruising Mexico aboard Last Duck, a Gemini 32 cat that was their retirement home. We were to meet them in Mazatlan and all enjoy a Sea of Cortez crossing back to La Paz. The day we flew into Mazatlan, we were greeted at the entrance of the marina by Ray, who asked us to give him a hug because Diane, who'd had no medical issues at the time, had died during the night. This was after they'd both been brought back to their boat by the police because she passed out and Ray was incapacitated. The police asked to be allowed to take Diane to the hospital, but Ray, not knowing what he was doing or saying, declined.

The police decided that the most probable cause of death was their having drunk a couple of margaritas that had something in them.

Drinking the margaritas was the last thing Ray says he could remember before they were brought back to their boat. Diane was left passed out in the cockpit, and Ray then passed out in the forward berth. He didn't know anything was seriously wrong with Diane until he awoke the next morning.

It should be noted that Diane was not a heavy drinker anyway, and Ray only remembers their having two margaritas: One each at two different, but very nice, locations.

After the Hartjoys' letter, Latitude's response, and what happened to Diane, we can't help but wonder how prevalent this is.

I had known Diane since the first grade back in Cary, North Carolina. Jack and I introduced Diane to Ray. We married the same year, and moved to California the same year. We worked together for a period of years before work took us to different towns. We stayed friends and shared a love for sailing, as well as partnering on boats. This was a couple we had known a long time.

We currently have a wonderful S&S Catalina 38 berthed at Brickyard Cove in Richmond. We've read about the Baja Ha-Ha since Latitude started it 21 years ago, and it's been our goal to do a Ha-Ha in the future.

Jack & Brenda Payne
Show Biz, Catalina 38
Brickyard Cove, Pt. Richmond

Jack and Brenda — What an awful story. It would have been good if there could have been an autopsy done on Diane, but it certainly sounds suspicious.

We don't know how prevalent such incidents are, if they are prevalent at all. Our incident happened in 1983, which was a long time ago. People we know have collectively consumed about a million margaritas in Mexico since then, and these are the first two times we've heard of any serious problems. Has anyone else had a similar incident?


There is a photo spread on pages 84-85 of the April issue, and if I'm not mistaken, it's of Saba Rock Resort in North Sound, Virgin Gorda. That's one of my favorite stops when sailing in the BVIs. We were last there in 2011 during a two-week charter aboard the Wanderer's catamaran 'ti Profligate. We are looking forward to a return, probably in 2016.

While attending the Strictly Sail Pacific Show a while back, I picked up BVI Yacht Charters' brochure from their booth. When I later looked at it, 'ti Profligate was no longer listed among the catamarans available for charter at their Tortola base. I'm curious if you've taken her out of the program, moved her to the company's St. Martin base, or just placed her on the 'secret menu' at Tortola because she is so heavily booked that no advertising is needed.

Bill Crowley
Clarsa, Newport 23

Bill — The closest of your guesses is that 'ti Profligate is on BVI Yacht Charter's 'secret menu'. But yes, she's still part of the company's fleet. We just checked her calendar, and she's got four more charters available before the start of August and already has a number of bookings for the next high season.

'ti is one of head mechanic Anthony's favorite boats because she's so simple, which means she has fewer problems than the others. We've just spent 11 weeks on her, during which the biggest problem we had was corroded wiring for the overhead lights in the two heads on the port side. The second biggest problem is that the bulb fell out of the light fixture over the cockpit. So she was pretty darn trouble-free. If you saw 'ti today, you might not recognize her, as we've given her a new color scheme.


If the Wanderer thinks it costs $100 for a couple to have dinner in the Caribbean, he needs to get out of St. Barth and visit more of the restaurants that cater to cruisers instead of those on megayachts. While the French islands in general tend to be higher-priced than the 'English islands', even the French find St. Barth to be expensive. If a table comes with a cloth tablecloth, expect to pay more. Here in Grenada, we wouldn't expect to pay more than $40 USD per couple for a sit-down meal with alcohol. Unless, that is, we go to an upscale resort. And most meals are much less.

P.S. We're refugees from Riverside who have been sailing the Eastern Caribbean continuously since 2006.

Michael & Cynthia Staudt
Minx, Lagoon 42

Michael and Cynthia — Forty dollars for a sit-down meal with booze in the Caribbean? Maybe you can find something like that down-island, but we sure couldn't find it at sailor hangouts in Martinique, the Saintes, St. Martin, St. Barth, the British Virgins or the U.S. Virgins. Maybe there are a couple of rasta shacks selling plates of ribs and frites for less at St. Martin's Grand Case, but in those cases we'd prefer to cook on the boat, as the food would be less expensive, taste better, and be healthier.

From time to time people ask us why we spend so much time at St. Barth, so we'd like to explain. The biggest reason is that we cover sailing, and St. Barth is the epicenter of every kind of sailing during the spring. In addition, all the new and great yachts — and many great sailors -— from around the world come to the little island, and there's the Bucket, the Voiles, the West Indies Regatta, and this year the AG2R TransAtlantic. If you're a journalist covering social media, you're going to want to be in San Francisco — even if the meals are expensive — because that's where the action is. If you cover sailing, you want to be in St. Barth or nearby — see this month's guide on page 94 for details — for the same reason.

Other reasons we spend so much time in St. Barth: 1) It's about as clean and safe as Atherton or Belvedere. The older we get, the more we prefer that to 'edgy'; 2) We have many good friends on the island from when we bought Big O there three decades ago. It's truly a second home; 3) We've found considerably more intellectual stimulation on St. Barth than on other islands in the Caribbean. That may sound snobby, but it's true, and it's important to us; 4) We don't speak the language, so we often don't know what's going on. We find that refreshing; And finally, 5) the women walk like cats.

We've been to almost all the islands in the Eastern Caribbean several times back in the days of Big O, and we'd love to spend more time in the Saintes, Antigua, Bequia, the Tobago Cays, and Grenada. But that's not going to happen while we're still working full time, as they are much farther from our cat's Tortola base.


Many people, sailors included, don't realize that a sailboat is a lightweight industrial environment. It isn't subject to OSHA or other safety standards, but it should be thought of as exposing people to similar risks. Otherwise it's far too easy to get hurt.

Today some of my fellow cruisers and I drove 90 minutes north to Mosquito Creek, South Carolina to retrieve a boat for a friend. Before going to the boat, we picked up the owner at a local hotel. He hobbled out of his room to the truck on crutches. His ankle was swollen and his leg was lacerated with quarter-sized stripes that wrapped around his ankle, calf and thigh. He could stand, but only with difficulty.

What happened to him? He had been singlehanding his boat north for the summer, and had anchored in the mud bottom of Mosquito Creek for the night. The next morning he tried to raise the anchor, but couldn't get it to budge. He put the boat in reverse to rock the anchor a bit, and went forward to pull on the rope and chain of the anchor rode.

He didn't realize it, but as he was pulling, the rode formed a loop, and he stepped into the loop with one leg. Since the boat was in reverse pulling against the anchor, the line started to feed out, catching his ankle, then pinning his leg to the bow of the boat.

The man hadn't thought to carry a knife to the bow with him, and didn't have a VHF or cell phone on him. He tried to free himself for several minutes, but the forces he was battling were too strong. The line sawing into his leg put him in such agony that he even considered throwing himself overboard. But he gutted it out, trapped on the bow of his boat by his anchor line, unable to rescue himself, unable to reach anyone else, and the line constricting the blood flow to his leg while beginning to saw through the skin and tissue.

Mosquito Creek is a fish camp, and luckily an early morning fisherman passing by heard his cries for help. The fisherman radioed for help on his way to render assistance. First responders arrived in about five minutes. They cut the rode free from the man's leg and rushed him to the hospital.

When we got to the boat this morning, two weeks after the incident, several of the locals who had helped, including the dock owner, expressed their relief that the injured sailor was alive and well. According to their accounts, he was in pretty bad shape when help first arrived. In the spirit of Southern hospitality, they refused any offers of money, even for the dock space.

Our friend will make a complete recovery, but please let his experience be a cautionary tale. When you are out there alone, or with inexperienced crew, always carry a knife and a VHF or cell phone. We have these things on the lifejackets on our boat, and they are part of our pre-departure checklist. You are using a checklist, aren't you? OSHA would approve.

Frank Lagorio, vet of two Ha-Ha's
Escapade, Rawson 30
San Francisco

Frank — Your story immediately brings to mind two similar incidents involving two very experienced West Coast sailors. The first is that of Bob Smith of the Victoria-based custom 44-ft cat Pantera. He got an anchor line wrapped around his lower leg while trying to anchor in current-riddled Bahia de La Paz. He was trapped for some time, just like the skipper in the incident you mentioned, and badly injured his ankle.

Then there is Greg Dorland of the Tahoe-based Catana 52 Escapade. While furling the headsail because of the approach of a big squall near Annapolis, he got his lower leg wrapped in a genoa sheet, and it snapped the lower part of his leg. Not only was it extremely painful, but it took several years for him to recover.

Of course, just about every activity can be hazardous. When we saw Dorland in the Caribbean earlier this year, he was limping noticeably again, so we asked if his leg was still bothering him from the sailing accident. He explained that he'd actually had another accident, this one at his Tahoe home following a long transcontinental flight from the boat. Standing on his porch in the middle of the night, he somehow fell 16 feet to the ground, knocking himself out for 45 minutes, and breaking a shoulder and both legs in the process.

In a similar height-related accident, Wayland Coomb-Wright recently fell from a roof he was repairing at Octopus’s Garden, his and wife Aruna Piroski's restaurant/bar/dance studio/Huchoil gallery in La Cruz. He severely injured his upper spine. Wayland and Aruna are two of our most interesting and soulful friends in Mexico. Many years ago they built a small catamaran — with a mast on each hull, no less — in England, They then sailed the unusual boat, with their infant daughter, to Mexico via the Canal and spent several years in Nicaragua. It all just goes to show you, no matter if you're on land or at sea, you've always got to be careful.


I'll be signing up for this fall's Ha-Ha, but before I do, I need to paint the bottom of my boat. I'd be very interested in knowing the name of the eco-friendly Pettit bottom paint that Latitude wrote about in January 2012. It sounded good to me. I've searched the Latitude website and haven't seen any updates.

Bucky Jordan
Planet Earth

Bucky — The product is Hydrocoat Eco, which Pettit describes as a "self-polishing, water-based, ablative technology with Econea, an organic biocide. Pettit's innovative technology replaces the harsh solvents found in most bottom paints with water. This formula provides the user with an easier application, soap and water clean up, and no heavy solvent smell. This formula is also copper-free, making it compatible over almost all bottom paints and safe for use on all substrates." End of commercial.
We're not sure why, but the product was not yet available in California the last time we checked.


A portion of the ashes of Merl Petersen, 'President of the Pacific Ocean', have been quietly spread aboard his beloved 75-ft schooner Viveka. As you know, she's presently in Rutherford's Boat Shop in Richmond undergoing a complete refit for her new owner. Now Merl's spirit will travel forever with his schooner on her future voyages around the world. Another portion of Petersen's ashes will be consigned to the San Francisco Bay from the SS Jeremiah O'Brien on her Memorial Day Cruise, as per Merl's wishes.

Regarding the 'Short Film About Long Race' in the April Letters about the first Whitbread (now Volvo) Around the World Race: Thank you for remembering Irv Loube, owner of many Bravuras, who helped owner Ramon Carlin put his winning Sayula effort together, and myself, lucky enough to serve as the navigator.

Ray Conrady
San Francisco


Latitude was wrong in the reply to Bill from Napa about the Armed Forces of the United States. Yes, there are seven uniformed services, which you accurately listed. However, there are only five services comprising the armed forces.

The armed forces are listed in Title 10 of the U.S. Code, and while the Coast Guard is part of Homeland Security and not the Department of Defense, they also have responsibilities under Title 14 — which sets them apart from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines by providing law enforcement authority (among other duties and responsibilities).

Thank you for a great magazine!

Dave Kalis
Lieutenant Commander, U. S. Coast Guard, Retired

Dave — And thank you for correcting us. We must have incorrectly assumed that if you got a uniform, you were also entitled to have a weapon.


We're sorry to hear about the problems the boaters are having in Mexico. If former President Fox had something to say about this, he would be upset. We have been long gone from cruising in Mexico, and are now nestled in the mountains of Arizona. But we miss the boating life, as it was an adventure of a lifetime.

Roger & Celia Guiles
ex-St Bridged, Piver Victress Tri

Roger and Celia — While AGACE's impounding all those foreign boats for no reason last November was a fiasco on the part of the Mexican government, we're becoming increasingly confident that it was a temporary governmental brain fart rather than a harbinger of future harassment of nautical tourists. Why? Because SAT (the Mexican IRS), SCT, and the Mexican Marina Owners Association have been meeting regularly to clarify and standardize the paperwork and procedures to prevent anything like that happening again.


I enjoyed Latitude's explanation of the Schengen Area limitations on non-Schengens cruising in Europe. I'd been trying to figure out what the rules were for awhile, and there you laid them out for me. And I agree, it would limit visits by individuals who could bring a lot of economic stimulus into an area that is still struggling with recession. It would be lovely if the problem could be resolved.

Since all challenges bring opportunity, I see one additional work-around to the ones Latitude suggested for folks wanting to cruise the Med. I'd call it 'Schengen Sharing', and it would be if two individuals/couples were to timeshare one boat, which meant they could alternate 90-day periods of using the boat over the 18-month period the boat was allowed in the Schengen Area. Granted, you'd need a lot of things to come together, but it could be a way to have a boat in the Med, timeshare it with someone else, and maybe make it work.

Terri Watson
Delphinus, Mason 33
San Francisco

Terri — If you need an example of a Schengen problem, look to Jack van Ommen of the old and the new Fleetwoods. He had overstayed his 90-day visa, plus the 30-day extension, which meant he was illegally in the Schengen Zone several months longer than he should have been. He reports he had some "anxious moments" at passport control in Reykjavik, Iceland, when they noticed he had long-overstayed his visa. Fortunately, the guy at passport control assumed that van Ommen, who speaks several European languages, had a Dutch passport as well. Jack didn't correct him and was allowed to get on his flight to Seattle.

We're not sure your 'Schengen Sharing' idea is feasible. There are plenty of challenges in owning a boat, and even more when in a boat partnership. If you're looking for exponentially greater challenges, get involved in a partnership that involves getting a boat to Europe, alternating usage, taking care of maintenance, handling emergency repairs in countries where you don't speak the language, and then getting the boat back to the States. We're not saying it's impossible, only that it would take special people to make such a partnership work.

We think the new 'sharing economy' for things like cars, lodging, tools, professional equipment and so forth is both good and unstoppable. We know that a number of people have tried to start similar 'boat sharing' programs, but we're skeptical. The problem is that systems on privately-owned boats, even if they are sisterships, tend to be unique, and thus complicated to even experienced sailors. If you have a $200,000 boat, are you simply going to hand over the keys to someone in return for a few thousand dollars? We don't think so.


I feel really bad for those 'poor cruisers' who don't feel as though they can cruise the Med because of the Schengen Area visa limitation of 90 days. They got a boat and all, so why can't they just live where they want? After all, they have money.

I know some of these people, and they get mighty upset when their offshore documented vessels — yes, plural — have to leave the United States for a few days a year. And they have to go to all the trouble of hiring and firing of crew, and have fake work done, all to document why they need to stay longer. It's such a hardship for them. Rules and regulations were not made for them, they were made for other people.

Boat people not of money get turned away every day. Well, most die before they get turned away. So I say give everyone everywhere a 90-day visa.

Claire Kavanagh
Poulsbo, Washington

Claire — You don't have to feel "really bad" for the '.00001 percenter' cruisers, who have multiple vessels and crew, as they ultimately have little difficulty living wherever they want anyway. Really big piles of money solve most every kind of problem anyway. Does the name Marc Rich ring a bell?

The people you should feel bad for are the employees of marine and cruiser-related businesses in Schengen Area countries, who are underemployed or out of work because shortsighted bureaucratic twits in Brussels were unable to distinguish between visitors who contribute to economies and those who don't. Many of the Eurocrats are coming to their senses, however, so it's expected that the visa limitations will be changed by 2015.

By the way, as long as we or others contribute economically and otherwise to a country and a society, why the heck shouldn't we be able to live where we want for as long as we want? Stuff your groundless rules and regulations.

By the way, before you rag on anyone, even a .00001 percenter who documents their vessel(s) offshore, you should bone up on the Jones Act of 1920, aka the Merchant Marine Act. That was a seminal piece of protectionist legislation that ended up picking a lot of winners and losers. If you're a 'regular person' who owns a modest boat, it's likely you've been a loser.


I hope you're getting into the swing of spring, as those of us down here at 31°S are feeling the winter chill. The Wanderer's asking for musical suggestions prompts me to recommend a couple of my faves: Michael Praetorious' Dances from Terpsichore, and Ottorino Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dances. Both contain peaceful movements and what can only be called 'boppy' bits. Great listening.

As the old saying goes: If it ain't baroque, don't fix it!

Mark Walker
Kempsey, NSW, Australia


There are lots of terrible classical music recordings. By terrible, I mean too slow, too fast, poor recording quality, poor acoustics, why-the-hell-is-this-guy-conducting-that-piece, and stuff like that. There's only one Sticky Fingers album, but there usually are dozens of recordings of popular classical pieces in release at any given time, hundreds more that are out of print, and most of them suck. My recommendations:

Die Moldau by Bedrich Smetan. There are many terrible, plodding, agonizingly slow-tempo performances of this piece, but Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic keep it from sending you back to sleep. Overture to the opera Tannhauser by R. Wagner. Karajan/Berlin again. Prélude à l'Après-midi d'un Faune by Debussy. I know the translation is 'Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun' but it goes with a sunrise, too. Le Tombeau de Couperin by Ravel. Pieces inspired by some guy's tomb usually deliver. This is no exception. A Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams is possibly the most beautiful piece of music ever composed. It's so beautiful that I weep when I hear it.

Mike Crews
Valinor, Ericson 32-300
San Pedro

Mike — We'll have to give A Lark Ascending another try, as it didn't do it for us the first couple of times.

We're going to have to listen to the von Karajan pieces because we have an obscure connection. As you know, he was a temperamental perfectionist, so when it came time to build a boat, he picked only the very best of the very best of the very best welders at, we believe, Royal Huisman, to build what would become his 80-ft maxi racing boat Helizara. Back then, when spinnaker sheets were made of wire, his boat would do battle with the likes of Drum and other maxis. After von Karajan sold Helizara, she turned up in St. Barth shortly after we'd purchased the Ocean 71 Big O. Brash as ever, our captain Don Antonio challenged the skipper of Helizara to a match race, insisting that Big O would kick their ass. This was like claiming a Ford Explorer would beat the pants off a Ferrari. Thanks to a ripped genoa and broken coffee grinder on Helizara, Big O did emerge victorious, just as Don Antonio had predicted. He's never let anyone forget it either.

Readers have suggested many other great musical pieces. We wish we could list them — or have even had the chance to listen to them by now. But thanks to all of you.


It never ceases to amaze me the amount of 'junk' cruisers think they absolutely must have aboard. Years ago we left England with a 4-year-old and a 15-month-old, and managed to cruise for 2½ years on a 37-ft boat. During that time we cruised the Med from one end to the other, crossed the Atlantic, traveled the Caribbean from Trinidad to Hispaniola, and continued up through the Bahamas and the Intracoastal Waterway to Virginia.

Our boat carried 70 gallons of water and just 20 gallons of fuel. And we absolutely did not line the rails with jerry cans of fuel or water, as this was considered unseamanlike! There was no reverse-osmosis watermaker, no SSB radio, no GPS — although, when it worked, our SatNav gave us a fix every 90 minutes — no solar panels, and certainly no computers.

The current crop of cruisers are more akin to gypsies than sailors, as their boats are festooned with all kinds of gantries, their rails lined with jerry cans, and their boats loaded down with unknown quantities of detritus.

We didn't travel in a 'pack'. There was no Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, no Baja Ha-Ha, no Puddle Jump and no Caribbean 1500. We left Las Palmas by ourselves on an Atlantic crossing, so there was no buddyboating, and we were prepared to live by our decisions. We didn't have satphones, Spot messengers, SSB email, or EPIRBs. We were on our own, so to speak.

It was exciting, and we felt we'd accomplished something on our own. I often wonder how many of the current crop of wanderers would be prepared to undertake such a journey.

Leif Watson
Dodger Too, Condor 37
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Leif — It seems to us there are very different types of cruising depending on people's interests and stages in life. At the two extremes are low-budget/high-adventure cruising, usually favored by the young because they can't afford anything else, and greater-comfort/convenience cruising, favored by older folks who often have accumulated some money and need more comforts. And naturally there is every gradation in between.

When we were younger, cruising was all about the adventure and adrenalin. Even if we'd cared about things like SSB, electronic navigation or watermakers, it wouldn't have mattered because we couldn't afford them. So we did things like dead reckon to Mexico.

Now that we're older and have owned a business for close to 40 years, we're more safety- and comfort-oriented. While our boats don't have many of the comforts and conveniences found on most cruising boats — we're thinking of giving Profligate a hot-water shower later this year — we have more than we did when we were young. Furthermore, a greater percentage of our 'cruising' now consists of sitting in a great anchorage, instead of being underway, and totally immersing ourselves in Nature.

It's true that lots of folks who are currently cruising wouldn't be if it were not for modern safety features and conveniences. We're not going to hold it against them — or ourselves.



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