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October 2014

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I have an addendum regarding the September issue Sightings titled 'Wrong Place at the Wrong Time'. Readers will remember this was about the Stockton-based 42-ft custom double-ender Walkabout that got caught in a hurricane on her way to Hawaii.

I happened to be part of the bridge watch on the M/S Manukai when the situation was brought to our attention on August 10. We were told there were three people aboard the sailboat, a 61-year-old male and two 22-year-old males. They were bailing water constantly, and during this time the 61-year-old suffered what may have been a heart attack, but was conscious.

We were 250 miles south of Walkabout when we received the call from the Coast Guard to go to the boat's rescue. We immediately set a course toward Walkabout — and Hurricane Julio.

Just one hour later the Coast Guard called and told us to stand down, as the Walkabout crew stated that they were confident of riding out the storm and making their way to Hawaii. So we resumed our course for Hawaii.

The Coast Guard called another hour later, as Walkabout had again initiated a mayday. They reported that one of their main hatches had blown off and that they were taking on excessive amounts of water. So once again we set course toward them and Julio.

It wasn’t until we arrived on scene and communicated via VHF that we were told that they planned to remain aboard and press on to Hawaii. All they wanted from us was to take one crew member off and borrow a bilge pump. Having gone 250 miles out of our way, this was a bit disconcerting.

As the Latitude story reported, Walkabout was dismasted during the rendezvous with us on Manukai, taking care of that plan. As experienced sailors probably know, it's not uncommon for sailing vessels to be dismasted when coming alongside merchant ships in heavy seas.

My take on the Walkabout loss is that their first mayday call came when Julio was causing them much harm, including flooding and a medical problem. Then the eye overtook them, and they unexpectedly found themselves in manageable seas, hence the cancellation of their mayday. Finally, as the eye moved on, Julio’s strong contrary wind again knocked them down and wreaked havoc, hence the second mayday call.

What do you think?

Ray Conrady
San Francisco

Ray — We weren't there, and have never been through the eye of a hurricane to get an idea if sea conditions would have improved so much in just an hour, so we're inclined to take skipper Ben Neely's account at face value.

But here's what we think about something else: As you were navigator for Ramon Carlin on his Swan 65 Sayula when he won the first Whitbread Around the World Race back in 1973-1974, it's hard to believe that you're still going to sea.

Fun factoid for readers: Ramon Carlin's Sayula won the first and fourth legs of the event. The other two legs were won by Eric Taberly's Pen Duick VI and Chay Blyth's Great Britain II. That's pretty darn good company.


Although I’ve already been told "I told you so," I wanted to pass along the story of my unpleasant experience at the D Street Basin in Petaluma on the weekend of September 13-14 as a warning to mariners who might visit in the future.

After a few weeks of planning, arranging for a bridge opening, and provisioning, on Saturday my lady friend and I had an adventurous passage to Petaluma's D Street Basin. Our journey started with a Coast Guard boarding and inspection, which was exciting enough. But after five hours of enjoyable traveling and navigating, we arrived in the heart of Petaluma.

We were running late due to the Coasties' inspection and not knowing how long it would take to get to Petaluma. Actually, we were misled by the incorrect estimate the City of Petaluma posts on their website of the time it takes to get to the D Street Basin. Surely they must know there is a five-mph speed limit posted all along the river. In any event, the bridge operator was very polite, and opened the bridge for us when we arrived. Soon after docking, we enjoyed dinner at a restaurant in town and later walked around. After a long day, we went to bed.

About an hour later, my lady friend got up from bed and started yelling at some kids who had climbed onto my boat. Her screams woke me from a deep sleep. She was a mile ahead of me in terms of taking care of the problem, but the panic in her voice shot adrenaline through my body. I was angry, but by the time I'd made it on deck in the dark, the kids were running off. I figured the kids to be high school age or a little older. We went back to bed, but I was shaking and furious that the sanctity of my boat had been violated.

An hour or two later, I was once again awoken by my lady friend's screams. Apparently, a different group of kids had climbed onto the flybridge of my boat while we slept. Having detected them, my lady friend darted out of bed and ran up the steps, furiously yelling at the kids to get off the boat. I ran up the stairs after her, ready for battle.

It was pitch black so I couldn't tell how many intruders there were. But I grabbed the first body I could, and threw it across the boat, yelling for them to get off our boat. I grabbed the second and did the same. After I did, the second one told me it wasn't right to hit a girl. I hadn't hit anyone, just threw them. Besides, it was pitch black and I couldn't tell what gender anyone was.

Anyway, this second person started to attack me, throwing punches and getting totally out of control. I told my lady friend to call 911 while I tried to bear hug him to the ground. He got free from me, however, and the two of them ran off.

About 10 minutes later, the police arrived. We gave them a report, and they suggested that we move to the gated west side of the basin and avoid the east side docks. But by that time I'd had it with the D Street Basin. I called to see if I could get the bridge opened so we could leave. By then it was nearly 11 p.m. and I couldn't reach the bridge attendant.

We eventually did move to the west side, where we were greeted by kind and helpful boaters. Nonetheless, we still had a sleepless night, as we could hear kids in the downtown area. Plus, my lady friend swore she could hear the same kids contemplating revenge.

In all, the bridge attendant, police, and other boaters were very friendly and helpful, but the police agreed that the area has become a hellhole. They suggested avoiding it. I later found out that our visit wasn't the only one that had been ruined by a bunch of punk kids. Apparently it's common.

If I ever return, I'll have my shotgun aboard. When the Coast Guard boarded my vessel, the first thing they asked was whether I had any firearms on board. "No," I responded. Now I regretted having to do that.

Please do not use my name or any information about me, as I'm concerned about retaliation from these punks.

Name Withheld By Request
San Francisco Bay

N.W.B.R. — We're sorry to hear about your frightening experience in the Petaluma Turning Basin, but it seems to be an anomaly compared to what other Bay Area boaters normally report. After we reached out to city officials for a comment, Dan St. John got back to us quickly. A sailor and regular Latitude reader himself, St. John oversees the marina and turning basin in his role as director of Public Works and Utilities.

"We take the gentleman's comments very seriously," he said, then explained that after hearing from you, officials emailed back with a sincere apology. But the crux of the issue seems to be that you docked at the unsecured commercial docks on the north side of the basin, which serve as a shortcut for pedestrians to get from Weller St. to downtown businesses. By contrast, the guest docks on the opposite (south) side of the basin are automatically locked from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., and from there, the nearby restrooms of the Petaluma YC are accessible to reciprocal members. Nevertheless, neither St. John nor police officers he consulted with could recall any previous boardings on either dock during the 20 years since they were installed. Last year 466 vessels stayed for a total of 1,076 nights in the turning basin, including annual cruise-outs from a number of YCs and sailing schools.

In response to the incident, we're told that police have increased their presence around the basin, and a note has been added to the website ( urging overnighting boaters to use the gated south-side docks. For those who haven't made this 11-mile trek upriver from San Pablo Bay, the two most important things to know are that you should plan to enter and exit at high tide if you draw more than six feet, and that sailboats must arrange (at least four hours in advance) to have the D Street drawbridge opened for them when entering and exiting. Also, be prepared to 'Med moor' stern to the dock on busy weekends. A call to (707) 778-4303 alerts the YC and harbormaster to your arrival. Shortly after your arrival, you'll be met by the harbormaster with a welcome packet and gate key. The berthing fee is only $24 per night.


I want to concur with Latitude's decision of "not setting up a new relief organization" in the wake of Hurricane Odile. Based on my experience as a correspondent, editor and reporter with experience in several disasters, including the 1985 Mexico City earthquakes, the best thing people can do is send money to established relief groups.

This is especially true past the first few days of crisis. The established relief groups I think well of are the Red Cross/Cruz Roja, the Salvation Army, Doctors Without Borders, Medical Teams International, and other more local groups.

Many people have an urgent desire to help and think that sending perishable food and other items will help. This often results in a logistical nightmare for those trying to provide assistance. In my view, let the experts already on the ground — or trying to get on the ground — do the hard work. The best way to help them is by giving them money.

Keep up the great work in informing everyone about what's going on in post-Odile Baja.

John Enders
Victoria, Pacific Seacraft 34
Anacortes, WA

John — As we're sure you know, the history of even the most well-intentioned relief efforts are pockmarked with corruption, pilfering and tremendous inefficiencies because of logistical problems. It's difficult for people to know how to give intelligently, but we agree with your belief that giving money to established relief agencies with good records, and known local charitable organizations, is the best idea. According to a report forwarded by Holly Scott of Charlie's Charts, anyone who asked was getting "two chickens and a bag of rice" from the Red Cross in Cabo.

A lot of sailors have a romantic idea of showing up at the end of the Ha-Ha with a few blankets, a couple of boxes of baby diapers, a case of canned meat, and a few bottles of aspirin. The sentiment is great, but when it comes to efficiencies of scale, it's at the extreme wrong end of the spectrum. There is a reason all the junk that comes over from China comes in big ships and not little boats. Similarly, it's infinitely more efficient for the stuff to be shipped to Cabo by truck and for the relief agencies to use your money to buy it in bulk off the shelf at places like Costco.

If sailors want to bring some relief stuff down on their boats, that's fine, but you'll be doing everyone a favor if you end up distributing it directly to people in need. If you are willing to donate money, we agree with the agencies recommended above, as well as the Bisbee Cabo Relief Fund for Cabo. In La Paz, friends Dennis and Susan Ross of Two Can Play recommend Judy Peterson's FANLAP
( and Barbara Spencer's Care For Kids La Paz ( as having the highest integrity. The Club Cruceros also has a fund.


You want to help make a difference in the slightly messed-up world we live in? Call off the Ha-Ha for this year unless the Mexican government releases the U.S. Marine they have in prison. Besides pissing off the Mexicans, such a boycott should piss off a few sailors on our side of the border, and maybe they could shake some cages.

T.C. LaTorre
11th Marines (1957-1960)
Twain Harte

T.C. — We're not sure why you think a Ha-Ha boycott of Mexico would "make a difference." The Ha-Ha brings about 500 people to Mexico each year, which is about 1/28,000th of the 14 million foreigners who visited Mexico in just the first six months of 2014. In other words, we're not even a drop in the bucket of tourism, and thus don't have much leverage. So we don't get the point of deliberately pissing off anyone when it's more than likely going to end in a Mexican standoff.

We'll be the first to admit that the wheels of justice move very slowly in Mexico, and sometimes in strange ways. But we also have to admit that Andrew Tahmooressi's story of how he ended up in Mexico with a .45-caliber pistol, a 12-gauge pump shotgun and an AR-15 isn't the most convincing. And for what it's worth, based on personal experience, the U.S. legal system — outside Judge Judy — is hardly something to be proud of.

Moving to a more upbeat subject, Mexican tourism is on a roll. Starting in 2009, tourism to Mexico fell off because of the H1N1 flu scare, and took a further hit after all the grisly reports of cartel murders. Tourism continued to drop from 2010 through 2012, but last year climbed back to 2008 levels.

Tourism to Mexico has exploded this year, with a 20% increase over the numbers from last year and 2008. The curious thing is that cartel deaths are only off about 15% from their peak. They just aren't as highly publicized as they were before, which is fair enough, because previously their effect on foreign visitors was greatly exaggerated by the likes of the New York Times, CNN, and even the U.S. government.

It may be a conspiracy theory of ours alone, but we believe there was an anti-Mexico campaign waged by the U.S. government and media because they didn't want all the American dollars and social security checks leaving the country during a big recession.


Tristan Jones had a list of the three most useless things aboard a sailboat: 1) A wheelbarrow; 2) An umbrella; and 3) A naval officer. Having read the Changes item about Linh Goben of Savannah in the August issue, can we add high-heeled shoes to the list?

Sam Burns
Southernaire, Catalina 309

Sam — You can add high heels to your list if you want, and we agree it would be a good idea for owners of monohulls. But if Linh Goben wants to visit the catamaran Profligate wearing her non-scuff high heels, she'll be welcome.


I'm a long time and enthusiastic follower of Latitude 38. However, the August Changes featuring a pin-up shot of some old gal decked out in high-heel shoes while sitting on a sailing vessel, who alleges that high heels on sailboats are perfectly safe, was the most absurd thing I have ever read in your magazine. And most dangerous, too.

It may have been written to afford your readers some humor, and the woman in the picture her 15 seconds of glamor time, but lots of people new to sailing read Latitude for advice. And this bit was not only silly, it was dangerously stupid. If a caveat advising the reader that this was all just a joke was somewhere in the article, I missed it.

High heels are not safe on sailboats, and they definitely can damage the decks and cabin soles. Fun is fun, but this article seriously told folks that high heels are safe and acceptable as boat shoes. This was dangerous and stupid. By publishing such an idiotic article and validating the subject matter, Latitude's credibility as a sailor's news source slipped tremendously.

Suzanne Biely
Santa Maria

Suzanne — You might want to visit your optometrist, because Linh Goben, the young woman in the photo, is about as far from "some old gal" as could be. In addition to being an exemplary mother and wife, she takes pride in her appearance. As someone who has rarely, if ever, taken any pride in our appearance, we find that to be an attractive quality. Like her husband Teal, Linh cares about quality in all aspects of her life. As if that doesn't put her above reproach, she's a past commodore of the prestigious Punta Mita Yacht & Surf Club.

Is wearing high heels on a boat absurd? Maybe not quite as absurd on a catamaran at the dock — one on which you helped paint the decks — as on a monohull on the high seas, but we would agree that generally it is. Which is why Sperry doesn't have a line of stiletto-heel boat shoes. But high heels are Linh's thing, and we thought — and continue to believe — that it was humorously newsworthy. And yes, there was a caveat that you overlooked. Linh admitted that people on other boats laugh when she walks down the dock in her heels.

We support people who have the confidence to be different, even when others laugh at them. In fact, we like the entire Goben family program, and can only imagine what life in the United States would be like if all families were so hard-working, responsible and self-sufficient, and maintained such high personal standards.

By the way, the photos we published were family photos, not "pin-up shots." If that's the way Linh thinks she presents herself best, we're onboard. We just hope the real source of your umbrage isn't that Linh is young, attractive and Asian.

Warning: You might want to skip this month's Changes because it turns out that at least one Aussie cruiser is not only a dedicated mother and wife, but loves to look her au natural best while doing it. And like her husband, doesn't mind if others admire the results of her efforts.


Hey, mon! Thanks so much for putting on the SoCal 'Reggae 'pon da Ocean' Ta-Ta rally last month. It was wonderful! We had fabulous sailing weather, the reggae parties were fun, and we made lots of new sailing friends.

At 25 feet, our boat was the smallest in the fleet of 43, but we had everything we needed. The only difference for us was that we started each leg a bit earlier than the official start time so we could sail with most of the fleet.

In addition to the great sailing and lively reggae parties, the week included getting to watch the Super Moon rise over Anacapa Island, resulting in moonshine sparkling on the water. We also explored sea caves from our dinghy, swam and snorkeled in the unusually warm water, hiked — and even got to see the 394-ft mega yacht A cruise down the coast.

We're looking forward to next year's SoCal Ta-Ta!

Don & Linda Murphy
Serendipity, Catalina 250

Don and Linda — We're glad that you had as good a time as we did on the Ta-Ta. What great people and what great weather!

A lot of folks, ourselves included, were unsure what a Super Moon is. Google tells us that a Super Moon is when the moon is not only full, but also when it is closest to the earth. Thanks to the lack of any marine layer, we got to enjoy the Super Moon in all its glory.

Like you, we saw the 394-ft superyacht A motor down the channel during the Ta-Ta lay day at Santa Cruz Island. She'd been on a trip up the West Coast to Seattle, and had previously stopped at other California garden spots such as Redwood City's industrial port.

Here's a little secret if you promise not to tell anyone. Despite the fact that we believe A has relegated all other large motoryachts to the dustbin of inferior style, and the fact that Andrey Melnichenko, her 42-year old-Russian billionaire banker owner, had begged the PooBob to let A enter the Ta-Ta, we had to turn him down. Despite tearful pleas by Aleksandra, Andrey's gorgeous ex-model wife, to make an exception for them, we had to explain that the Ta-Ta is limited to boats between 25 and 390 feet, and rules are rules, even for Russian oligarchs and their beautiful wives. Besides, we'd once been anchored next to A in St. Barth for a couple of weeks, and they didn't so much as invite us over for vodka and caviar once. Like most billionaires, the duo didn't like being told no, which might be why A took off down the Santa Barbara Channel so quickly.


We want to thank Latitude for organizing the second SoCal Ta-Ta, as a rally is a great way to help people like us set a date and go for it. For years we talked about sailing our own boat to Southern California to do some cruising, or chartering a boat in Southern California for the same purpose. But we never actually did it. The Ta-Ta helped us make it happen, and thanks to Latitude's advance planning, it was so easy. The Grand PooBob was an enthusiastic and patient leader.

David, Kathi & Blake Westcott
Ellis Island II, Catalina 34
Redondo Beach

David, Kathi and Blake — The PooBob thanks you, as seeing people having fun gives him the most pleasure.


I flew out of LAX on Friday, September 12 to Vancouver to join the Cal YC's Commodore's Cruise. I was sitting on the right side of the plane as we lifted off and over Santa Monica Bay, and soon spotted a row of boats with spinnakers heading out of Paradise Cove toward the west end of Catalina. Perfect!

Mike Priest
Marina del Rey

Mike — Perfect really is the word to describe it. We were able to start sailing right out of the cove at 10 a.m., and had a delightful close reach in flat seas the entire way. Several of the multihulls enjoyed long stretches in the teens, and the displacement boats were hitting hull speeds. It was warm, too. We hope you'll be participating next year.


There is a photo of a Ta-Ta and future Ha-Ha participant, identified at two-year-old Grace of the Horstman 38 trimaran Reprieve, in the September 12 edition of 'Lectronic.

She's playing on the boom. Sadly, she is not wearing a PFD, which is a bad habit and also illegal.

Bob Temple
Orinoco Flow, Pearson Ariel

Bob — There are facts and opinions. When you say the photo of Ta-Ta favorite Grace depicts something illegal, you are factually wrong. The following are the State of California requirements for PFD use:

"Children under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket when aboard an underway vessel 26-ft in length or less. Under state law the operator may be fined up to $250 for violation of this requirement."

Based on the regulations, there are two counts under which Grace was not required to wear a PFD. The family's Horstman 38 trimaran Reprieve is over 38 feet in length, and the trimaran was tied up at the dock in Channel Islands Harbor at the time the photo was taken.

As for your opinion that Grace's not wearing a PFD in that situation is indicative of "bad habit," we disagree with you. For one thing, during the course of the week, we noticed that Grace was usually outfitted in her PFD, even when not required by law. For example, during the Channel Islands Marina / Vintage Marina floating dock party. Grace is a lively young one who likes to run around and dance, so her parents had her wearing a PFD.

In our opinion, there was nothing wrong with Grace's sitting on the boom, sans PFD, with her parents supervising. The overwhelming trend in the United States is for parents to tend to be overprotective, preventing their children from being exposed to even minor risks. We don't think this is any more healthy than parents who try to prevent their children from being exposed to germs.

We spend a bit of time in Mexico and the Caribbean every year, where 'helicopter parents' are few and far between. American parents would be horrified to see how freely children are allowed to explore, take risks, and learn from their mistakes. While there is some greater risk and pain in the short term, we believe those kids grow up more confident and better equipped to evaluate risks than those who are the victims of well-intentioned overprotection.

This reminds us of a story that Commodore Tompkins once told us. Commodore grew up aboard the great 85-ft pilot schooner Wanderbird, and in the movie 50 South to 50 South, there is footage of a young Commodore and his sister happily swinging in a swing below a boom, despite the fact it was blowing hard and they were in very large seas in what looked like the Southern Ocean.

In other footage, a young Commodore can be seen sliding down the headstay, using just his hands and feet, with no safety gear at all. He once told us he only remembered one time that his father somewhat reined him in. It happened while they were sailing along somewhere in the middle of the ocean and young Commodore decided it would be fun to hang, one-handed, from the bowsprit over the water. His father leaned over, watched for a moment, and said something like, "I don't think that's a very good idea." And look how good Commodore turned out from that kind of parenting.


After 3 years, 355 days and 4 hours, we arrived back in San Francisco Bay aboard our Island Packet 37 Dragon's Toy. After a month in San Francisco to take care of the necessary evils of life and some boat projects, we will be headed out again.

We left San Francisco on September 10, 2010, and turned left to participate in our third Baja Ha-Ha. After spending the winter in Mexico, we joined the El Salvador Rally to Bahia del Sol. After three months of land tours up and down Central America, we left Dragon's Toy in the estuary at Bahia del Sol and joined Mark and Dot Hazlett on their Honolulu-based Outbound 44 Pua'ena to cruise from Papeete to Samoa and American Samoa.

We then returned to Dragon's Toy to continue our travels. We stopped briefly in Honduras and Costa Rica before doing the Canal and the San Blas Islands, then making the long haul up to Belize and eventually Florida.

We took Dragon's Toy up the East Coast from Florida to Maine for five weeks of warm, sunny days. That's right, no fog in Maine for us! We then high-tailed it back down to the Chesapeake just in time for Hurricane Sandy and the Salty Dawg Rally to the BVIs. Once we got to St. Martin, we bumped into the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca at the St. Martin YC.

After two seasons in the Caribbean, and summering in Grenada, we headed west for Galveston, Texas. It was here that we cheated a bit, as we loaded Dragon's Toy aboard a truck for Seattle. After careful calculations, we decided that trucking was less expensive than sailing to Seattle, not to mention much quicker.

We had a wonderful summer in Seattle, playing grandparents to our four-year-old granddaughter and sailing though the San Juans and Desolation Sound. The Pacific Northwest was quite a culture shock after the hustle, bustle and crowded anchorages of the Caribbean.

With the colder weather approaching, it was time to head for warmer climes. After a month in San Francisco to take care of business, we will be joining the 21st annual Baja-Ha-Ha for the run down to Mexico. After that, it will depend on which way the wind blows.

On the subject of bikes, we've had two Dahon all aluminum bikes on Dragon's Toy since we left San Francisco four years ago. We used them quite a bit down the California coast and in La Paz. South of there we didn't break out the bikes again until after going through the Canal and up the East Coast. We rode them all over Charleston for the Spoleto Music Festival. We also used them a little bit in the Eastern Caribbean, but the roads were really too narrow and the drivers are not used to sharing the road with bicycles. We also had them out a couple of times this summer while we were in Seattle. We're not sure if the bikes will stay on the boat when we go south with the Ha-Ha.

Tom Kohrs & Cary Purvis
Dragon's Toy, Island Packet 37
Currently between Pt. Arenas and Pt. Reyes (heading home)

Tom & Cary — We take it as a considerable honor that you, who have cruised so far, have signed up for yet another Ha-Ha.


I'm currently shopping for two bikes for my husband and myself. We have looked in many shops and online, but hope to see lots of responses to Latitude's request for info and advice on bikes on boats.

Rose Alderson
Aussie Rules, Catalina 34 Mk II
Gabriola Island, BC

Rose — You're getting what you hoped for, as we got plenty of reader response. The following is just a sample.


My wife Jan and I, and our two Montague folding bikes, just completed an 8-year, 46,000-mile circumnavigation aboard our Slocum 43 Baraka. The 21-speed, full-size bikes were fabulous! They lived under the floor during passages in special bags that Jan made for each wheel and each folded frame. On land we used them for touring and shopping, enjoying the great range — and great exercise — they provided.

Previously, starting in 1988, Jan and I, along with our then-10-year-old son Joel, did a four-year sailing trip from Seattle to Turkey. This was aboard our Hans Christian 33 Moulin Rouge, on which we carried three stainless Dahon folding bikes. The three of us had a wonderful time biking around many European cities. That positive experience convinced Jan and me to definitely take bikes again when we began planning our most recent trip.

Dave Pryde
Baraka, Slocum 43
Seattle, WA


Bikes are invaluable when cruising in foreign countries. In Hiva Oa in the Marquesas, for example, it's a loooong walk to provision. Having a bike makes it so much easier. I think the accompanying photo of doing boat errands with a bike in Papeete is funny because we had all this stuff for a 40-minute ride back to the boat. Another day we even brought a kitesurf board package back to the boat, something I don't recommend.

My only caution is that riding a bike can be dangerous in places like Papeete.

Jen Martindale
Big Sky, Montana


We have two full-size cross bikes, which we've had modified with flat mountain bike-style handlebars, battery-powered lights, and small handlebar bags. They are carbon, so they aren't cheap, but carbon makes for a comfortable ride for a guy with a bad back. We use them to both ride to stores and go on long rides for exercise.

We absolutely love our bikes and wouldn't want to give them up. We found that the roads are a little too steep and the driving too wild to ride in St. Barth, but we rode them in St. Martin and in Mexico where, come to think of it, driving habits are pretty wild, too. Our best riding has been on Molokai and Cuba, where there are so few cars. Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and Newport, Rhode Island all have wonderful bike trails with great destinations at the end.

Bikes are the best way to see the countryside!

This is the fifth year that we've owned the bikes, and we brought them home to Tahoe for summer vacation and to replace a few worn-out or rusted odds and ends. When cruising, we remove the front wheels and hang the frames vertically by fork brackets in the forward 'crew locker' on our catamaran.

Greg & Debbie Dorland
Escapade, Catana 52
Lake Tahoe


We own a Giant aluminum seven-speed folding bike, which my wife loves, and a steel, 24-speed folding bike made by Bike Friday, which I love. We took them to Mexico on the Baja Ha-Ha last year aboard I'O. They were great for getting around, except in Puerto Vallarta where the cobblestone streets were treacherous. The bikes expanded our touring area, and we engaged with many locals on a deeper level. Mexicans are huge bike fans.

We store the bikes in bags so we can quickly spray them for rust yet not spread grease around the cabin. We also use the bags to transport them on the buses in Mexico, and the airlines don't charge you for a bagged bike when you fly.

In addition, we purchased a used folding single child trailer — Burley is the best — from Craigslist. This fits into a large West Marine duffel bag.

We used a seam ripper to remove the child seat in the trailer and create a larger cargo area. The dog, provisions, jerry cans, parts and the outboard have all had rides. In addition, car drivers see the trailer, expect kids to be in there, and give us a wide berth. The trailer also provides us with the opportunity to do some overnight bike touring when we want to get off the boat.

We also purchased the most expensive Abus U-lock to ensure we keep the bikes, and lights for night travel. My wife has realized the additional benefits of cycling in feeling better and toning muscle. I appreciate her muscle toning.

Frank & Barbara Lagorio
Escapade, Rawson 30 ketch
Spa Creek, Annapolis, MD


We have two Tern C7s bikes that fit in sail bags and are stored in our sail locker. They don't have any rust so far, and we couldn't be happier. We bought ours through REI, but the last time that we looked they only stocked the single speed version. If anyone will be riding up even moderate hills, multiple speeds are a must. Tern does make a DC8, which has eight speeds instead of the seven on our bikes.

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


My wife and I have had folding 27-speed performance Bike Friday bikes for 10 years. They fit nicely on the sidedecks of our Fisher 30, and even inside my West Wight Potter 14. They will also fit into suitcases and can be taken onto planes as baggage.

We have taken our bikes to the San Juans, Angel Island, San Diego, and Catalina. On Catalina we rode from Two Harbors to Avalon on very challenging terrain, loaded with panniers.

We had a strange experience on Catalina, as even though we'd obtained the necessary permits, we were detained at the 'Airport in the Sky' and forced into the ranger's van. Why? Because "small wheeled bikes are not allowed on Conservancy property." I think it was just B.S. to keep pilots from taking folding bikes along to avoid paying the ridiculous cab fare down into Avalon. The rangers eventually refunded our permit fees, but spoiled a fine day.

Our bikes are pricey — $1200! — but they build them to order using your body measurements to customize frame dimensions and components, making them the most comfortable bikes we've ever ridden, small wheels or large. They have held together for a decade, and thus have been worth every penny.

The accompanying photo is of my wife Gale and our bikes at Cat Harbor, Catalina. Having bad knees, I'd go nuts without a bike. When I was crewing on a ketch in Turkey, they had a bike with only one pedal. Using it as a scooter and to carry groceries was still better than walking.

Jim 'Goose' Gossman
Gale, West Wight Potter 14
Eroica, Fisher 30 PH


Bikes are great for cruising!

Our favorite bikes, by far, are the full-size Montague folding bikes. Ours has always fit through the forward deck hatches into sail lockers and into lazarettes on all our boats. Plus, Montague always has 'off road' versions in their line, which is really great for riding on remote atolls.

We've biked in Mexico, French Polynesia, New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, and on Fanning Island. The latter has an abundant supply of bikes for all visitors, thanks to the occasional visits by Norwegian cruise lines.

The accompanying photo was taken on the southeast coast of Fanning Island with Bob and Laurie of Susuitl and my wife Sue of Kiapa.

Peter Wolcott
Kiapa, M&M 52 cat
Southern California


Following a recent Richardson Bay Regional Association (non-)meeting about the ongoing problem of illegal anchor-outs in Richardson Bay, I wrote the following letter to Kate Sears, President of the Marin Board of Supervisors:

I cannot tell you how disappointed I was at the RBRA meeting on Thursday in Sausalito. This was my first RBRA meeting, and I was looking for the stewards of Richardson Bay. I found none. Is there not a policy in place to make sure there are at least three boardmembers in attendance at a meeting? Would this lack of concern be the same if the subject had been Muir Woods?

The number of illegal anchor-outs on Richardson Bay recently doubled to 218 'boats'. I consider this to be the wholesale giving away of public land, and it's happening on your watch. At what point do you draw the line? Marin County is the last area to allow this permanent 'fill' of the Bay. Oakland, Redwood City, Clipper Cove, and the Delta have all taken control of their public lands. I am not asking you to enact new county laws, all I am asking is that you enforce the current laws of the County of Marin and the State of California.

San Diego had a similar situation, which they controlled with regulation and enforcement. You can do the same. I suggest you move the County Sheriff's patrol boat to Schoonmaker Point Marina in Sausalito to show presence. Then have the Sausalito Police Department boat patrol the bay between the hours of 7-9 a.m., and the Sheriff's boat between the hours of 4-6 p.m. You have no idea of the impact that it would have.

This cannot be a budget issue, as the county and other government agencies have already spent millions on the problem. Please just enforce the laws of Marin County and make the prevention of the loss of public lands in Marin County a priority.

Recently, two boats washed up on the beaches of Richardson Bay. You might also look up the article on about the owner of one of them, Paloma. According to the article, he was wanted in San Mateo County on a $70,000 drug conviction warrant. Both of these boats had gallons of motor oil and diesel oil that leaked from them. I understand the clean-up cost over $100,000.

Why are the anchor-outs given immunity from state and county law? This amounts to selective prosecution for those of us who follow the law.

The winter storms are coming soon, so now is the time to act. Millions have been spent on the Richardson Bay problems to date, but the number of illegal boats has just increased and the problems gotten worse. Nobody in government is being held accountable for this. You are our elected leader, so it's your responsibility to be on top of this.

After seeing the apathy at the RBRA meeting, I have contacted Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Kamala Harris, and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission. If you're not up to handling the problem, maybe the state needs to do it for you.

We need to solve this problem, as more people than ever are using the Schoonmaker Point beach, a beach where I have seen everything from dead bodies to human waste wash ashore. We owe it to our children to clean up the situation.

Name Withheld By Request
Richardson Bay Boatowner

N.W.B.R. — We at Latitude have nothing against the concept of anchor-outs, as we ourselves are anchor-outs for at least three months of each year. But the thing that has always boggled our minds about Richardson Bay anchor-outs is that they seem to be sacred cows.

A few years ago, a member of the Marin County Sheriff's Department wrote us a citation at Schoonmaker Point Marina because we'd inadvertently put the state registration sticker for our photoboat on our dinghy, and vice versa. It was an obvious error on our part, and if the deputy felt he had to write it up, so be it. But what really bothered us was not getting any response when we pointed to the fleet of 'boats' anchored about 200 feet away, almost none of which had any registration, let alone met any navigation or environmental standards, and asked why none of them were ever written up.

Can you imagine if the Highway Patrol only enforced laws on newer cars, and ignored rolling wrecks without headlights, license plates or seatbelts? In our view, Richardson Bay is the nautical version of that.

How did the anchor-outs acquire sacred cow status? We're not sure if it's true, but the way it was explained to us in the greatest of confidence, 15 or so years ago the BCDC was going to come down hard on the illegal anchor-outs because they consider them 'Bay fill'. But just before they did, San Francisco's John Burton, then-president pro tempore of the State Senate and said to be nearly as powerful as the governor, told the BCDC to back off or he'd make sure their budget was slashed in half. Anchor-outs have seemed to be immune to BCDC regulations — which are strictly enforced on everyone else — ever since.

As we said, we don't know how much, if any, of the above explanation is true, but some things would seem to fit. Burton, for example, has always been a champion of the poor and homeless. Indeed, it's the main focus of his foundation. And having resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982 because of admitted addictions to cocaine and alcohol, he has always felt empathy for people struggling with those problems, as a number of anchor-outs do.

(In an aside, Burton, now 79, was the kind of swaggering, adept and imperious politician who won't be seen again anytime soon. Notoriously foul-mouthed, Burton, according to the Daily Show's John Oliver, cursed “more than a West Coast rapper." And despite being as progressive as could be, Burton settled a $10 million sexual harassment suit in 2008 with Kathleen Driscoll, who had been the executive director of his charitable foundation for homeless children. According to Google, Driscoll accused Burton of making lewd and suggestive comments about her underwear and body parts on a near daily basis, accused her of being “probably wild sexually like all Catholic girls,” mimicked masturbation on a number of occasions, and introduced her to business associates as a thong model. While Burton would be unelectable today, he currently is — you can't make this stuff up — the Chairman of the California Democratic Party.)

We might not be understanding you correctly, but it sounds as though you're opposed to all anchor-outs, referring to them as Bay "fill" — as the BCDC famously does. We're not in agreement with the concept of boats being fill, or the idea of eliminating boats from Richardson Bay. In fact, we think Richardson Bay is a lot more scenic with boats on it than without. However, we think that boats on the bay for the long term should be in specific mooring fields, and should have to meet the basic navigation and environmental requirements. In addition, there should be specific areas set aside for short- and medium-term anchoring. And derelicts should be removed.

Years ago San Diego had a similar problem with collections of illegally anchored boats that had sometimes become crime centers. They came up with what we believe has been a good solution. They organized mooring fields and made sure the boats in them met and continue to meet navigation and environmental standards. The Laurel St. Anchorage is one example, and is a very attractive part of the San Diego waterfront. In addition, San Diego has a reasonably large area where out-of-county boats — meaning legitimate transients — can anchor, after obtaining a permit, for up to three months at no charge.

We'd like to know why something like that can't be done with Richardson Bay. The only reason we can think of is that there isn't the political will. Unless we're reading them wrong, members of the RBRA and Marin Board of Supervisors have historically thought of Richardson Bay as an acceptable place for homeless people and/or those recently released from San Quentin and other detention centers. As if they would allow Muir Woods to serve a similar purpose. In our opinion, the RBRA hasn't done a good job in this respect. And in the long run, we don't believe they've done any favors for the down and nearly out people whom they apparently believe they've been helping. We're sure others will disagree with us, but that's our opinion.


Is there a plan to do daily radio check-ins via SSB in the Baja Ha-Ha? I know that's been the case in the past, but with so many cruisers now having phones that work in Mexico, plus everybody with a marine VHF, Shea Weston and I are trying to decide if offering a one-evening seminar for SSB voice operation makes sense. What are the comm plans for SSB for the Ha-Ha?

Gordon West
Gordon West Radio School
Los Angeles

Gordon — When at sea during the Ha-Ha, we have the VHF-only boats get on the radio at 7 a.m. to try to reach a SSB boat to relay their 6 a.m. position. Then at 7:30 a.m. on the old 4A, the Grand Poobah on the mothership Profligate starts the SSB net, asking if people have medical or mechanical problems, giving the weather report, taking roll call, and asking about fishing successes and other nonsense.

Typically, about half the Ha-Ha fleet has had SSB radios. For an event like the Ha-Ha, SSB radios are terrific, because with all the SSB boats being able to listen to all the other SSB boats, it allows a sense of community to develop. People who have done the Ha-Ha with VHF-only, then upgraded to SSB, tell us that the addition made a big difference in their enjoyment of the event.

During the stops, of course, we have VHF nets so everybody can be a part of the radio fun.

We know that the SSB radio requirement has been dropped in a number of Hawaii races in favor of satphone position reports. In some ways satphones might be a more efficient way to report positions, but people on the other boats can't hear it when boats report on satphone. The result has been a gradual demise of the much-loved 'Children's Hour', something participants have groused about.

Racers and cruisers have different needs, of course, and most racers have little need for SSBs. Most folks cruising to Mexico or beyond for more than six months generally find that SSB radios, which admittedly are expensive, are major additions to safety and social enjoyment.

This is our very long way of saying yes, we think a one-evening seminar on SSB radio a week before the start of the Ha-Ha in San Diego would be welcomed by participants. If you decide to do it, we'll be happy to publicize it.

By the way, the one change we're considering instituting in this year's Ha-Ha is moving the VHF and SSB times back half an hour each to avoid a conflict with the Sonrisa Net.

For readers not familiar with Gordon West and Shea Weston, they are like West Coast high priests of Ham radio and SSB.


It seems that California bases property tax on boats based on whether they are in the state on January 1 each year. Knowing that I would be coming through California a year or so ago, I had my son pay for a slip in advance, as I wanted to make sure that I would have a slip. Although I contracted for the slip in December 2012, my boat didn't come into the state until February 2013. I also left the state in October 2013, but kept the slip until February 2014 because I thought I might return from Mexico instead of traveling farther south.

My son later received a bill from the county, stating I owed them for property tax on my boat for the last two years. This was based on their records, not on my boat actually being there. It's my understanding that if I fill out some paperwork and send it to the Assessor's Office, it will be straightened out.

But what really chapped my hide was the attitude of those in the county Assessor's Office. When I spoke to one woman in the office, she insisted on getting my current address for their records. She came unglued when I told her that I didn't have an address. I explained that my retirement check went to my bank account, and my bank statement went to my email address.

It's California law, she told me, that I had to have an address. She didn't seem to understand that I was cruising and didn't have one. She argued that it didn't matter if I was cruising, I had to abide by the laws of the state. This was after I told her that my boat was documented in another state, and that I had no contact with California except to pass through every now and then.

I'm wondering how California gets off declaring that even genuine transients have to comply with the rules and guidelines of those who actually live in the state.

If California wanted to charge for a cruising permit each year, I'd be happy to pay it. But this county property tax is crap. And the fact that I had to prove that my boat was somewhere else on January 1 seems really wrong. I don't live in California, my boat isn't documented in California, and except for the fact that my son lives in California, I have no connection with the state.

Please withhold my name and boat name, as I don't want to have any more issues with California.

Name Withheld By Request
Planet Earth

N.W.B.R. — The State Board of Equalization sets the rules for assessing personal property tax on boats in California, but it's the job of the assessor in each county to decide how to follow those rules. In theory, they should all be doing it the same way, but there is actually considerable room for interpretation.

But let's clear up the January 1 misunderstanding. If anyone thinks that all a boatowner has to do to avoid paying property tax is to get his boat out of the state on January 1, half the bigger boats in Southern California would ring in the new year at Ensenada. What really counts is where you 'habitually' keep your boat. What is meant by 'habitually' is, as you might expect, where the interpretation business comes in. But if your boat is from out of state, and you can prove your boat is not habitually berthed in California, you hopefully won't have a problem.

The same couldn't be said for people with boats based in some California counties. The problem is that some county assessors don't care if you go cruising for even four or more years, as they believe if you are ever going to return to their county, that it's your boat's habitual home. And thus you owe property tax even for the years that you were gone and didn't use any services. The popular boatowner responses to this have been: 1) Move one's boat to a more tax-friendly county before leaving, or 2) use one of the mail forwarding services to establish a legal residence in another state. The latter is pretty easy and inexpensive to do.

As for the woman who came unglued because you didn't have a fixed address, give her a break. Half the people in downtown San Francisco and downtown L.A. have no fixed address, and a couple million people who permanently live in California have fixed addresses in Mexico. Since her job is impossible, you should have thrown her a bone by just making up an address. How about 77 Sunset Strip?


I went online to apply for a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for Mexico, as we'll be doing the Ha-Ha this year for the first time with Wind Dancer. When filling out the online application form, there were about 12 choices for 'Port of Entry' in the dropdown box, but neither Cabo San Lucas or even Ensenada was listed. Nor did the drop down menu allow for writing in a different Port of Entry different from the choices listed. Since Mexicali was the only Port of Entry listed on the Pacific side, I selected that.

My concern is that when we get to Cabo to check in, the officials won't accept it, and will want to send us back to Mexicali. While I have not yet applied for our tourist visas, I understand that it has the same drop down box with the same menu choices. Help! What do we do?

Phil Helman & Desley Oliphant
Wind Dancer, Hunter 466

Phil and Desley — It's exasperating, isn't it? Neil Shroyer of Marina de La Paz told us the problem is that the new form for boats was based on the new form for cars, and some bureaucrat didn't realize that boats don't sail into landlocked Ports of Entry.

On September 22, we applied for both our tourist visas and a new TIP. The new tourist visa form lists 'Baja California Sur' as a Port of Entry, which is a little weird since it's a region, not a port. But we think we're good with that.

But when applying for a TIP for our boat, we ran into the same problem that you did, as only landlocked Ports of Entry are listed. We'd hoped that this menu problem would be taken care of by now, but it hasn't. Rather than continue, we stopped the application process, as once it's done, they promise it will only take seven business days to get the TIP. We're consulting with Tere Grossman, President of the Mexican Marina Owners Association, who will talk to the government authorities for guidance on what people should do. We'll also ask her what you should do in your situation. We don't think it will be a problem, as the Mexican government will be wanting as many visitors coming to Cabo as possible. Keep reading 'Lectronic for updates, but we'll also be sending emails to all Ha-Ha entrants.


A month ago I tried to get a Mexican TIP (Temporary Import Permit) online. It was a thoroughly frustrating process. The online application form doesn't make any sense, and the pull-down menus where you indicate who manufactured your boat and your expected Port of Entry were incomplete. Regardless, I submitted my application. It was rejected because "one or more of your documents are incomplete."

After more than a dozen email exchanges, I was told my TIP was being mailed. But I didn't trust the process, so I flew to San Diego, crossed the border and went to Ensenada, and got the TIP in person. There I learned that I had been charged for the first TIP, but they wouldn't be mailing it to me because something — they couldn't tell me what — wasn't in order. Getting a TIP in person was easy, but I wouldn't suggest getting one online as it was just a pain train.

Graham Wilson
Arctic Tern, Nordic 40
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

Graham — Remember how smoothly the application process for Obamacare went? Governments aren't as good as private enterprises in rolling things out, which is why we have encouraged people to wait until at least early October to apply online for TIPs and tourist visas. As we mentioned in our previous response, we tried to get a new TIP for Profligate, but ran into the same 'Port of Entry' problem as you. As for the pulldown menu for 'What Kind of Make', it did have the option 'Other', which we chose. It later allowed us to select 'Inboard sailboat'. Yes, the form is a little confusing, and the Port of Entry question needs to be resolved.

Making a trip to Ensenada is one way to solve the problem, and the seafood is delicious down there, but it seems like a time-consuming and expensive way of getting things done. We think there'll be a better pre-Ha-Ha solution.

By the way, we hope you filled out the TIP in such a way that your outboard and dinghy are good for the 10-year duration of the TIP, not just 180 days. See
Sightings for details on how to avoid this potential problem.


Remembering that some foreign boats got impounded in Mexico last year because AGACE agents couldn't find the Hull Identification Numbers (HIN), I'm worried about that happening to me. I want to do the Ha-Ha this year, but the mounting bracket for my Monitor windvane completely covers the HIN number. In your expert opinion will this be a problem?

Dick Johnson
Deborah Rae, Pacific Seacraft 40
La Habra Heights

Dick — We don't believe it will be a problem if you get a Dremel tool and engrave your boat's HIN number on the hull at the spot closest to the original. In any event, a combination of better-educated AGACE agents, plus the much more informative new TIP (Temporary Import Permit) forms, should eliminate 95% of last year's problems.


Do you think the Mexican Embassy in Honolulu has the latest poop on the paperwork foreign boats need for sailing to Mexico? I don't. I'm flying to Honolulu at the end of the month to deliver a Catalina 42, with the owners aboard, to La Cruz, Mexico. They will then be heading through the Canal to Virginia. Do you think it would be better to do all the paperwork on Oahu or at La Cruz? Or would I get the runaround in Oahu?

Capt. Lynn A. Stokes
Morro Bay

Capt. Lynn — You wouldn't get the runaround at the Mexican embassy — actually it's a consulate — in Honolulu, they just wouldn't know what the heck you were talking about. If they did, they'd tell you to do the paperwork online. When you do, remember to do separate tourist visa transactions for each member of the crew — and keep the credit card receipt. You'll need it at Immigration. And you'll want to stop at a Port of Entry before La Cruz. Puerto Vallarta would be a good choice.


As of September, the feds in Mexico have added a 3% tax on marina charges to go along with the 16% IVA already charged. I talked with a harbormaster today, and it was unclear to him if it applied to everyone or just liveaboards. Apparently the new tax has something to do with the hotel tax. But he was reluctant to talk about it for fear of problems with SAT (Mexican IRS), such as happened last year.

Name Withheld By Request

N.W.B.R. — It seems like everybody is trying to nickel-and-dime consumers. Mexico has this tax, airlines have new fees for bags, San Francisco restaurants have a healthcare tax on meals for workers, Two Harbors has an 'eco tax' on food. Who knows where it will all end?


With a lot of folks about to take off cruising for the first time, Anna and I thought they might like to know what stuff we low-budget cruisers wish we'd brought along, and which stuff we wish we hadn't.

Stuff we wish we'd brought along:

• A second computer, especially since one computer is our sole navigation instrument. Panasonic Tough Books are awesome, and if you have the money, you can get them with an internal GPS and waterproofing.

• Extra external hard drives. Everyone here in the South Pacific trades movies and music, so you will need plenty of storage space for that, as well as for all the amazing photos you'll be taking. We have a 1.5-terabyte hard drive that's completely filled. We could use at least three.

• More ammo. Seriously. If you're not stopping in Mexico — where you don't want to be caught with guns or ammo — and are heading straight for the Marquesas, you can make lots of friends with locals by bringing them ammo. They are looking for .22-caliber rifle shots, 12-gauge shotgun shells, and 30/30 rifle shots. Locals always need ammo for pig hunting. If you've got some, you'll be king.

• Leather saddles. No kidding. You can sell the $500 saddle you bought in Mexico for about $2,000 in French Polynesia. If you have a larger boat, it might be a money-making idea.

• Lots and lots of canned meat, at least if you're a meat eater. Canned corned beef, canned chicken, canned roast beef, and even Spam. Totally load up on this stuff at Costco before you leave.

Don't worry too much about canned tuna, because the South Pacific is full of fresh tuna, mahi and wahoo. But I would bring Mason jars and extra lids. When you catch a fish bigger than you and your friends can eat, you don't want it going to waste.

• Lots of cheap wine and booze, which you can bring to boat and dinner parties. Bring as much as your boat can carry. Customs has never checked our boat to see if we were stashing alcohol. You might have to fib when you report how much spirits you have aboard, but it's worth it.

Alcohol is very expensive in French Polynesia. You can trade locals a bottle of Two Buck Chuck for a whole lot of fruit and veggies.

• A five-gallon beer fermenter to make your own beer. This is particularly true if you don't want to carry tons of wine and spirits because you think you might get caught, as beer isn't beer until it's brewed.

Friends of ours get great results with Coopers Beer kits. They come in a tin that looks as if it has maple syrup inside, and includes yeast and instructions on how to brew it. It's around $14 Kiwi a tin, but makes five gallons of delicious beer. Once you're done, you put it in one-liter plastic bottles, and away you go. If you bring 50 tins, you'll wish you'd brought twice as many, because nothing makes friends faster in the South Pacific than a cold beer.

Things we're glad we brought with us:

• Lots and lots of tools! Socket sets, screwdrivers, wrenches, vise grips, hammers, and a lot of other hand tools. I'm always repairing, fixing, building, tweaking and adding new things to the boat, so I probably use the jigsaw more than any tool, followed by the grinder. Those with newer boats naturally won't need or use them as much. But if you're planning on cruising, especially cruising economically, you'll need a lot of tools.

• A good set of electrical connectors, which have been worth their weight in gold. Make yourself a nice set. Then buy a proper pair of plier crimpers, which means the most expensive. Loose electrical connections cause the majority of boat fires, so always tug on your connections to make sure they won't come apart.

• A good set of stainless screws, bolts, nuts, washers and lock washers of all shapes and sizes — especially small screws and bolts. I'm always breaking out my box of stainless to fix or add something to the boat. If anybody is leaving from San Diego — and most cruisers are — they can get great 316 stainless hardware at K-Surplus in National City. The store has a lot of other useful stuff for cruisers, too.

• Lots of line. Buy a whole spool of good line that you can make into halyards or sheets. You'll need it, because even with chafe gear, the chafe is intense on long passages. My friend Jim off Dancer also uses old hose with a squid skirt to make his fishing lures, and it's worked incredibly well for mahi and tuna. Also, bring lots of extra Spectra with proper thimbles. This can be used for so many things, such as emergency rigging, lifelines, topping lifts, etc. It's inexpensive and super-strong. But learn how to splice it, which is also easy.

• Seat belt strapping. My friend Peter Boersma bought a 300-ft roll of seatbelt strapping from K-Surplus for cheap and gave it to me as a going-away gift. You can't believe how much I have used, traded and bartered. We've used it to repair sails, make flyswatters, and fabricate a belt to keep the cook from being thrown out of the galley. The Polynesians love webbing for their horses, cows and horses.

• Before any budget cruiser buys some fancy navigation system or super pricey chartplotter, I suggest they try Open CPN, an easy-to-use free program that you can download from the net. After you plug an inexpensive GPS into your laptop, it tells you right where you are. The program does not come with charts, but the CM93 charts are easy to get from other cruisers. AIS also plugs into Open CPN, along with GRIB files and much more. I really don't know where Anna and I would be without Open CPN, as it's saved our lives and our boat many times.

• We also have a program called GE to KAP, which is another free download that takes Google Earth images and puts them into a chart file that you can upload onto Open CPN. The images are accurate for going through reef passages, and have been very helpful in places like Fiji, the Tuamotus and Tonga, when we needed to see the passage through the reef before going through it. Be aware that the CM93 charts are off in some places, so try to think about where you might go on your cruise, and overlay Google Earth images over any tricky spots you might encounter. By the way, those who have been in New Zealand waters tell us there are free, accurate chart downloads for Fiji and Tonga. Search for New Zealand raster charts and you'll find them.

• A wi-fi antenna booster for your laptop. Ours has come in very handy.

• Quality masks and fins that fit well. Don't cheap out on your dive gear, as you're going to be using this stuff all the time for pleasure and otherwise. I have a hookah line that connects to a scuba tank, and have found it to be invaluable for changing zincs, cleaning the bottom, and diving on the anchor. My wetsuit is something that I use all the time, too.

• I didn't get a spear gun until American Samoa, but I was glad I did get one. It's not only a fun sport, it puts a lot of food on the table.

• Things to enjoy while at anchor, such as a sailing dinghy, a kite-surfer, a paddleboard, and my favorite, a surfboard.

• Gifts for the kids and adults you'll meet in villages. That means old t-shirts, shorts, hats and sunglasses. You can buy a box of cheap but cool sunglasses online for about $2 a pair. These are great for the kids and adults everywhere in Polynesia. Bracelets for girls — and boys — are also big hits. You won't believe the joy the young ones get from simple gifts. Their faces light up like Christmas trees.

• The most important thing we brought with us has been a good attitude. The islanders have a lifestyle much different than us Americans', and you don't want to try to impose your values and morals on them. Although it sometimes looks as if they are impoverished, they are quite content and happy — happier than most people living the Western way. So respect their way of life.

Everybody wants to know how much it costs to cruise. It depends on where we are in the South Pacific. French Polynesia, for example, is very expensive compared to Fiji. But if you trade with locals, it becomes more reasonable. Anna and I rarely eat at expensive places. We catch and eat a lot of fish, and we do things like bake our own bread. And we don't stay in marinas. On the average, I say we spend about $500 a month.

We also look for work whenever we can, and the good news is there is always work to be had for the willing. I have cleaned many boat bottoms, done rigging work, cleaned the inside of boats, done sail repair, and played music — the latter being the best 'job' we've had so far. We have played at many resorts, marinas, and yacht clubs, and gotten paid in food, booze and wonderful tips. If you keep an open mind, you won't have a problem surviving in Polynesia with just a little money.

One thing you don't have to worry about is going hungry. Fruit is falling off the trees everywhere, and there are plenty of fish in the sea. Another thing not to worry about is making friends, as the members of the cruising community are some of the most magical people on the planet. We like to help others, and the cruisers we've met always lend us a helping hand and support us in any way they can. With the cruising community behind you, you can go as far as the eye can see — and far beyond.

To all of the potential budget cruisers out there in search of inspiration, we can only echo the words of the Pardeys: "Go small, go simple, go now!"

The scariest day of my whole life was the day Anna and I left San Diego bound for the Marquesas. Leaving the comfort of your home and leaving your family and friends for the unknown is perhaps one of the most frightening things a human can do. But at the same time, it was one of my best days ever, as it has permanently changed my life. Once I saw how great the cruising life is, I knew I'd never go back to the normal life. And I'm not the only one who feels that way.

Actually, the only thing scarier than taking off from San Diego was the thought of not taking off and regretting it for the rest of my life.

Justin Jenkins & Anna Wiley
Ichi Ban, Columbia 34
San Diego


I loved the last America's Cup Finals on San Francisco Bay because of the speeds, the unique boats, and the fact that the sailing was unlike anything we'd ever seen before. Oh yeah, and because of the great Oracle Team USA comeback.

But as a resident of San Diego, I was flabbergasted to read a report in a late August edition of the San Diego Union Tribune that the organizers for the next America's Cup are asking San Diego's Marketing Tourism Board for 10,000 free hotel room nights in the three years leading up to the Cup Finals. Excuse me, but WTF?!

Now I understand why only San Diego and Bermuda are on the list of possible sites for the Finals in 2017. The mystery to me is why anybody would want to be the host. We in San Diego have hosted the America's Cup three times. It was great, but it really wasn't that big of a deal.

I hope the Tourism Board told the Cup organizers to stuff it. According to Forbes, Ellison is the fifth richest guy in the world, worth $48 billion. I figure it takes a lot of gall to ask local businesses to sacrifice to put on his event. As a San Diego resident, I hope the Cup goes to Bermuda.

Terry Roth
San Diego

Terry — We're not sure if you read the entire article, because it said the Cup folks want an additional 7,500 rooms at half price, too. The total value of the 17,500 rooms would be something like $2.75 million.

It seemed outrageous to us, too, but according to the article, such deals are not uncommon. According to what seems like the same story you read, the Tourism Marketing District (TMD) relies on a hotel room surcharge of 2% to finance the marketing of San Diego. This is said to bring in about $30 million a year, most of which goes directly to the San Diego Tourism Authority for citywide tourism promotion.

To give an idea of what happens to the money, the marketing district board had just approved $37,600 for the International Surfing Association StandUp Paddle Championships in May 2015, which is expected to generate 4,950 room nights. It also agreed to spend $120,000 for the National Association of Sports Commissions annual symposium in April 2018 or 2019. In addition, a number of events throughout the year, from Beer Week and the Rock and Roll Marathon to the California State Games, get smaller allocations, with the understanding that such events will help fill hotel rooms.

Apparently the head of the Tourism Marketing District responded to the America's Cup proposal with a counterproposal of hotel rooms worth $1 million.

We understand the Ellison/Coutts vision of the America's Cup becoming something like soccer's World Cup or the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, we think the hole in their premise is that most people couldn't give a hoot about sailing, let alone a competition of billionaires.

Personally, we couldn't care less if the America's Cup becomes a gigantic international event. As great as the Cup Finals were in San Francisco, we want the Cup to be about sailing, not about big business, lawyers and never-ending marketing. If we were Ellison's tactician, we'd tell him it was time to tack.

By the way, we just saw a video of the two Prada AC45s foiling across the Bay at a nice clip. They looked great. Until such time as the next 'big boat' America's Cup can be properly set up in a proper venue, we'd suggest the 35th America's Cup be held in these affordable boats, believing that 20 countries would then be interested in participating. And that it be held the only place it should be, which is San Francisco Bay.


How about moving the base of the America's Cup to Alameda? The Swedish Team looked a little lonely here, and there is plenty of room for more teams. We've got deep water, and a windward leg to AT&T Park would provide great sailing conditions as well as a beautiful backdrop. Such a course wouldn't have the hassle of commercial traffic. And nobody would have to deal with the City of San Francisco.

Tim Donnelly
Chewink, Golden Gate 14

Tim — We never thought much of Alameda as being a base for the America's Cup, but when distant Bermuda and light-air San Diego are the only other options, Alameda leaps to the top of our list.


Looking at the U.S. Government liquidation site, I think I found just the boat Latitude 38 needs to mount a challenge for the 2017 America's Cup. She's a Contour 50 trimaran that the government paid $1 million dollars for, including her very unusual multi-wing sail. The minimum bid was $25. It can be viewed at America's Cup Harbor in San Diego or at They said it was used for "experimental purposes."

Just add beer and crew and claim the Cup.

Rob Murray
Avant, Beneteau First 435
Vancouver, B.C.

Rob — Our tax dollars so judiciously spent and so hard at work.



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