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January 2015

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Can somebody explain to me the deal with rich white males naming their mega racing machines after American Indians?

Steve Fossett named his 60-ft ORMA trimaran Lakota after the Sioux tribe of northern Wyoming and southern Montana. The Sioux were very capable warriors.

Fossett then set the Transatlantic record with his 110-ft cat Playstation. After Sony's sponsorship ran out, he renamed her Geronimo and set a new around-the-world sailing record of 58 days and 9 hours. The cat's namesake was an Apache who battled Mexicans and Texans when they infringed on his tribe's land. After Mexican soldiers killed his mother, his wife, and his three children in 1858, Geronimo joined a number of revenge attacks against the Mexicans.

And now Internet billionaire Jim Clark of Silicon Valley has named his new 100-footer ultra-screamer Comanche. The Comanche are the famous tribe of the southern Plains.

And lord knows how many smaller boats have been named after various tribes or individual Indians such as Crazy Horse, Chippewa, Iroquois and more. I find it disgusting. At least Stanford University got rid of the Indians mascot, followed by other enlightened school administrations. I can't wait to see the Washington Redskins get burned for sticking to their derogatory name. At least the University of Miami dropped the 'Redskin' mascot almost 20 years ago.

I know that boatowners will argue that naming their boats after Indians or Indian tribes is a matter of respect, but it's not. And it should stop now.

Sally Jane Tepper
Sundial, Catalina 22

Sally — You may have forgotten that before Fossett set a new around-the-world record with his catamaran Geronimo, the record had been held by French provincial aristocrat Olivier de Kersauson's and his 102-ft trimaran — also named Geronimo. De Kersauson said he named his trimaran after the famous Indian because Geronimo "never gave up," which seems to indicate respect. Oddly enough, Geronimo means 'one who yawns a lot'.

It seems to us all of these boatowners gave their vessels the names they did out of veneration for individual Indians or their tribes. While we think there's a huge movement for people to be offended by just about anything and everything, if Indians don't want their names used, even out of respect, we have no problem honoring that wish. In the case of the Washington Redskins, we think the name is pretty hard to defend, as it's not an Indian name, but a derogatory nickname. It was sort of like trying to defend 'the Savages', which was the nickname for Eastern Washington College up until the late '70s.

The funniest of all mascot names, however, had to be St. Bonaventure's. The men's teams were known as the Brown Indians, while the women were called the Brown Squaws. That all ended in 1979, when a chief in the Seneca Indian tribe and some clan mothers asked the women to stop using the name Brown Squaws. Why? Because it meant vagina. We're not sure if they were kidding or not, but now both St. Bonaventure teams are known as the Bonnies.


My wife Monica and I received a letter from our friend Gayla Pickford about the current status of the presidency of the Pacific Ocean.

"Spike Africa was the first President of the Pacific Ocean that I know of," she wrote. "Spike left Sausalito and spent the rest of his days around Puget Sound. When he died, the title was passed on to Merl Petersen of the schooner Viveka. Merl gave title of Vice President to Bob Dixon, so Bob could take over after Merl passed on. I wonder if there are any of these true old characters still around to carry on the crazy tradition. If you know of anyone, let us know."

I told Gayla that perhaps Latitude would resolve the status of the President of the Pacific Ocean.

Ray Conrady
San Francisco

Readers — First, a little background. Spike Africa was the first President of the Pacific Ocean, and he took the office by self-proclamation. Nobody objected. After all, the colorful Spike not only had a great name, he was considered one of the last great schooner captains on the West Coast, as well as an expert rigger, a writer, actor and inventor. Everyone from old-time roughneck sailors to members of high society — including his wife — found Spike to be a Renaissance man. After his days at sea, Spike was a mainstay at the No Name Bar in Sausalito when it was in its heyday. He is also famous for being the mate of Sterling Hayden's schooner Wanderer when the actor defied a judge's order and sailed off to Tahiti with his kids. Spike passed away in 1985 at age 78, but lives on in the name of the big schooner that Bob Sloan of Newport Beach built in the 1970s and is now working out of Friday Harbor, and in the name of restaurants in places such as San Diego.

Upon Spike's death, Merl Petersen, owner of classic 75-ft schooner Viveka, assumed the position. While not quite the character Spike was, Merl had his moments. For example, he is the only person known to have taken an elephant water-skiing on San Francisco Bay, photos of which made the front pages of several San Francisco newspapers. Merl would later shock friends in Honolulu by undertaking a long restoration of Viveka, which had been built in 1929, and then taking her around the world, including a race to the east coast of Russia. He would own the schooner for 54 years, a remarkable amount of time.

Petersen's taking office of President of the Pacific Ocean was initially met with some resistance. Peter Sutter, founder of Sutter Sails and a longtime soulful sailor, was skeptical. But after meeting Petersen over lunch, Sutter, a friend of Spike's, decided that Petersen was indeed worthy of the title. And that was it.

As the world has become more corporate and less whimsical, and the sailing characters of old have aged or passed on, the title of 'President of the Pacific Ocean' seems to have faded. We're not sure that Bob Dickson ever accepted it. As it turns out, Dickson passed away last month as the result of a fall. The longtime Newport Beach resident certainly would have been worthy of the office, as he was one of those guys who seemingly sailed in every big race and delivered boats in between.
Dickson was involved in two of the better-known moments in recreational sailing when it was really getting going in the 1960s. The first happened when he was bringing Jake Wood's C&C 61 Sorcery back across the Pacific from Japan in March. After three days of 50-knot winds, the seas had built up to tremendous heights when the big boat pitchpoled with some nasty injuries to the crew and damage to the boat. Bob was also at the helm of Bob Johnson's legendary Herreshoff 72 Ticonderoga when she charged down the howling Molokai Channel neck-and-neck with South African Cornelius Brunzeel's van de Stadt 72 Stormvogel for the finish of the 1965 Transpac. 'Big Ti' would nip Stormvogel for line honors.

Spike, Petersen, Sloan and Dickson — may they all rest in peace.


I'm definitely up for sailing a Latitude 38 San Francisco Bay Record time trial challenge. The attractive part is the infinite choice of start times and start/finish locations, so it's mostly a weather strategy and routing game — almost like a long ocean race. I'll be exercising my Expedition skills along with's new high-res runoff-adjusted current data.

But I have to wonder about making the course identical to the Three-Bridge Fiasco course. 'Fiasco' is the operative word. Can we make the top mark something other than Red Rock? Also, there's a long history of Three-Bridge course records, so there might be more initial interest if the course is different, as the first round of times will all establish new records in each category.

I would also suggest that the course pass as close as possible to all the major marinas, so we can start and finish near our home berths. So let's talk more about the optimum course before official roll-out.

Paul Kamen
Twilight Zone, Merit 25

Paul — We're still in the information and interest gathering stage, so if you or anyone else would like to propose a different course or make any other suggestions, we're all ears. And there is still time, as we won't start the 'season' until May 1 — International Workers Day — which means we don't have to finalize the details until the April 1 — April Fool's Day — issue of Latitude. But starting the San Francisco Bay Record is no April Fool's joke.


The Bay Area Multihull Association has 'maintained' a 10-mile racetrack since 2010. People can sail on it and compete for records any time. The course can be viewed at But I believe it would be more fun to have a longer course, perhaps through Raccoon Strait, around Treasure Island, and around Red Rock in order to include the most variables in wind and current.

J.E.B. Pickett
Serenity, Seawind 1160

J.E.B. — Thanks for reminding us about the 'BAMA Racetrack.' If we're reading the site correctly, a record run hasn't been attempted since 2010. The best elapsed time so far is 1h, 9m, 27s by doublehanders Ross Stein and Bill Pace on the F-27 Mk II Origami. The corrected-time record is held by singlehander Stephen Buckingham's Santana 22 Tchoupitoulas — but by only three minutes and change.


I have the following thoughts regarding a Latitude 38 San Francisco Bay Record such as was discussed in 'Lectronic Latitude and December's Letters:

1) Attempts should be permitted from May 1 until September 30.

2) The following records should be recognized: Outright (elapsed time) record; PHRF (monohull corrected time) record; BAMA (multihull corrected time) record; All-female crew (corrected time); Singlehanded (corrected time); and five or more from a one-design class would qualify for a class record.

If a lot of multihulls wanted to go for the record, perhaps a 'Fast Cat' division could be set up, such as BAMA does for their season championship.

I like the idea of half of the entry fee's going to the sailing nonprofit of the entry's choice.

I've been in touch with Ray Irvine regarding running this event using for entries and results, and he's into it. Jibeset is used by many Bay Area clubs, plus the Yacht Racing Association (YRA) and the Singlehanded Sailing Society (SSS), to manage race entries and scoring. Each skipper could upload their GPS track to Jibeset, and Latitude would receive an email when a track was uploaded. This would avoid the inconvenience of having a race committee volunteer on station each time someone makes a record attempt, as was suggested in a letter to Latitude. That would be completely impractical.

A couple of folks in the know recommend using Time on Time for scoring rather than Time on Distance.

The course could certainly be the same as the Three Bridge Fiasco. I like the option to go either way, plus skipper's choice of going by way of Raccoon Strait or Pt. Blunt. But let's take that one step further. To encourage entries, particularly from smaller, slower boats, why not have each skipper choose their start/finish point on the course, thus avoiding unnecessarily long deliveries? As long as all the marks are rounded and the track crosses itself at the start/finish point, the course has been completed. This feature would distinguish it from the Three Bridge Fiasco and give strategists another piece to play with.

Should each entry be allowed only one attempt? Or perhaps as many as three in a season?

Christine Weaver
Stink Eye, Laser 28
Pt. Richmond

Readers — Christine is also the Racing Editor for Latitude, and we encouraged her to submit her thoughts as a letter. Any comments?

As soon as Stan Honey returns from navigating Jim Clark's new 100-ft screamer in the Sydney to Hobart Race, we're going to ask him what he thinks about Time on Time scoring versus Time on Distance scoring for the San Francisco Bay Record.


Call me a floating pet-hater.

I want to know what the sailing community thinks about pets roaming around freely in marinas. I've lived aboard my boats in several countries for the past five years, and in most places I went there were pets roaming the marinas. As a result, there was dog poop on the docks, and my boat has been boarded far more often by neighbor's pets than by any other uninvited mammal. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings by telling them it's unacceptable to leave their 'furbabies' or 'family member's' poop where my crew and I walk and flake our sails, but if marina personnel can't enforce pet-related commonsense, who will?

Don't get me wrong, I love animals — including human beings. I love them so I don't kill, feed or breed them. I observe them respectfully in the wild, and try to limit my impact on their habitat and our planet in general. I wash guano off my deck and canvas with a Zen smile, thinking a port or anchorage without seabirds would be an even scarier thing from an ecological perspective. I've watched an osprey perch on my masthead electronics and destroy them, without losing my fascination for these gracious predators. I steer well clear of whales, idle or stop my engine when I'm under power near them, and even stop my depth sounder if I don't need it since I don't know if it attracts or annoys them.

To me, the relationship Westerners have with their pets shows a sad disconnect with nature, an acute symptom of our narcissistis anthropocentrism. It scares me that so many people want to show their love to living beings by holding them prisoner — for the greater part of their lives in solitary confinement — and yelling at them while yanking a choking collar after surgically removing parts of their genitals. That's not my kind of love for nature or for my family members, but that's just me.

I know the whole pet deal is wide-ranging from totally happy house cats and healthy family dogs, to unacceptably beaten- up pets and generations of overbreeding leading most of them to foreseeable painful illnesses. I want to be open-minded and respectful about what people do at home (as long as they don't hurt each other), but that theory applies more easily when pets stay where they belong — within their 'master's' sight.

I have a harder time living by the Dalaï Lama's 'tolerance and compassion' words when pets board my boat, with the owner nowhere to be seen. This usually results in items being added to my 'to do' list, which already has an endless number of projects. I've had pets walking on my still-curing epoxy putty, then on the lens of the brand new hatch I was about to install the next day. It topped the time one did the moon walk on my solar panels, and made pounds of dog poop. I won't even mention all the poop I've had to clean from my decks and shoes.

I was initially mad at the pets, but after taking a deep breath and looking at them bolt back home, I figured the poor things are doing exactly what I did for years as a kid — going boldly places I was told not to, and enjoying an arrogant rush of adrenaline running away from the consequences. The pets are not to blame; the owners are, the marina personnel are, and we collectively are.

I'm not writing this to get it off my chest; all of this is part of living in communities I truly love. I just want to know what boaters — pet owners or not — marina operators, and the editors of this magazine think of the issue. Do you guys have tricks to keep free-roaming pets off your decks? Are there marinas that prevent their liveaboards from having pets on board and/or actually enforce their pet-related rules?

Gaël Simon, French Canadian from Quebec
GravlaX, X-40
Berkeley YC

Gaël — The mammals we've had the biggest problem with are sea lions. They are cute — until they crap all over your boat and/or bark all night long.

While we don't have the time to care for a pet, we're generally pet-positive, knowing they often provide outstanding companionship for many humans. Nonetheless, we very much dislike all the dog crap on the docks and around marinas, as well as sleeping dogs blocking docks, and we're frankly sick and tired of dogs licking or rubbing their wet noses against our legs. We can't help but wonder how the owners would feel if we had a grandchild who repeatedly slobbered all over them.

While not sailing specific, what bothers us more is the abuse in granting ever-expanding 'emotional support animal' status. As most readers probably know, the 'emotional support animal' sham went off the graph at 6:10 a.m. the day before Thanksgiving when a woman walked down the aisle of a US Airways jet at Connecticut's Bradley International Airport with a large pig over her shoulder. Everybody assumed that it was a stuffed animal until the pig, estimated to weigh between 70 and 80 pounds, became "disruptive."

According to US Airways, under Department of Transportation guidelines, the woman had to be allowed to board the plane with the big pig because it is an "emotional support animal." Unfortunately, the pig not only stank, but he crapped in the aisle of the plane while the woman was stowing stuff in the overhead bin. "When she tied him to the armrest and tried to clean up after him," a passenger told CNN, "the pig started to howl. The woman talked to the pig like it was a person, saying it was 'being a jerk'."

Pigs are intelligent, which is more than can be said for the woman, and for the bureaucrats who allow people who try to bring new meaning to the expression 'when pigs fly'.


I'm kinda surprised that Latitude found so few women who climb the masts of their boats and/or dive on the bottoms. I do both — as well as the engine work. And recently I've been splicing new Dyneema lifelines. My belief is that if you own a boat, and particularly if you want to cruise, you should know how to do your own maintenance and repairs. That seems normal to me and is not really gender-specific. There certainly are other women like myself I've met around San Francisco Bay.

I've enclosed two photos. One is from the first time I climbed my mast to replace the headstay, which broke last October on a sail on the Bay. Because Kynntana is a Freedom 38 with an unstayed carbon-fiber mast, we were none the wiser in the beginning to its breaking, and just kept sailing. It's probably only 35 feet up the 55-ft mast where the headstay attaches. I climb in a harness because I don't trust the bosun's chair. I'm also planning to set up a self-ascent system because I don't always have the luxury — nor the trusting nature — of having someone else haul me up.

The second photo is of me diving on my boat when I spent a week in Monterey. I did the trip down with a friend who sails and races her Cal 2-27 singlehanded, often in conditions when the rest of us won't go out. We had previously stopped for overnights at Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz. I did a week of diving in the kelp forests with the Smithsonian Institute, then singlehanded Kynntana back to the Bay on a rough 22-hour passage. I came in under the Golden Gate the Friday morning of Fleet Week along with an escort of several warships, then took off the next morning for the Vallejo 1-2. That wasn't exactly a normal week for me, but pretty typical — and a lot of fun.

Carliane Johnson
Kynntana, Freedom 38
San Francisco Bay

Carliane — To clarify, we didn't go 'searching' for women who climb masts and/or clean bottoms, we were just thinking of those we'd come across in our days of sailing. You're not exactly normal — and we mean that in a good way. Respect. By the way, we got so many responses from women that we're going to have to spread them over several issues. But we think it's great, because we'd like to give them the exposure we think they deserve.


John, my husband, hates heights, so I've been up the mast of our Sceptre 41 multiple times. I'm the one who goes to retrieve the halyard. The first time was in Horta, Spain in 2008.

I've taken some tools to the top, too, but I usually don't know how to fix whatever it is that needs repair. In those cases we hire someone to do the job.

By the way, John is a great cook. He not only did all the cooking in the five-plus years we were out cruising, he even had a cooking blog during the winter we spent in Spain.

Shirlee Smith
Solstice, Sceptre 41
San Francisco


I've been up Scoot's 70-ft mast a few times. So far it's only been at the dock, although I expect that at some point I'll eventually have to go aloft at sea.

Before I went up the first time, I insisted that I know the breaking strength of our main halyard. Once I learned that it was 7,000 lbs, I said, "Haul me up, I don't weight anywhere near that much."

The first time I went up, I replaced the cover on the masthead tricolor light. While up there, I naturally took photos of all the scenery, the deck, and my husband way down below.

The second and third times I went up were to remove our broken anemometer and install a new one. Those times the wind was blowing a brisk 25 knots. Since we were tied up at the dock, the boat didn't rock too much, but the wind made manipulating the anemometer kind of tricky.

Our mast is equipped with folding mast steps, so I can just climb right up. I use a climbing harness tied to our main halyard as a backup. Eric, my husband, keeps tension on it from the deck. I really like having mast steps as opposed to being hauled up on one halyard and using another halyard as a backup. That methods requires too many strings.

I don't mind going up the mast, as it can be fun. Either Eric or I might go up, depending on what needs to be done. If the job involves troubleshooting electronics, for instance, he goes up. If it's a mechanical problem, just give me the tools.

Since we've had our boat in places where the water is really cold, we've had her bottom cleaned by professionals wearing wetsuits. Once we reached Mexico, I did jump in to clean the gunk from our knotmeter's transducer wheel. Now that we're in the tropics, I expect to get much more experience cleaning the bottom.

Vandy Shrader
Scoots, Able Apogee 50
San Francisco / Sea of Cortez


We were in Santa Barbara a few years back when my fearless — not! — husband Jimmie informed me that our masthead anchor light was out. He suggested that the task of replacing it could best be accomplished by the lightest person on the boat, which just happened to be me. So up I went. Upon reaching the masthead, I extracted the burned-out bulb and lowered it to him down on the deck.

“Stay put,” he yelled up, “I’ll run up to the chandlery and be right back.”

I don’t know if he stopped for a burger or what, but it wasn't until 30 minutes later that he finally returned, at which point I was able to complete the task. Actually, it wasn’t so bad. The view from 50 feet up was great!

Jane Hanawalt
Dry Martini, Morgan 38

Jane — It's a testament to your character, for a lesser person might now be suffering from abandonment issues.


Bill Lily of the Lagoon 470 Moontide asked me to heave ho on his battle flag, the one with the girl reclining on it, during the 2010 Ha-Ha. I heaved a little too hard and broke the halyard, so naturally I had to go aloft to get it.

I agree with Debbie Haywood Sciaretta, who went up in the 'Lectronic piece, that as long as you have people you trust taking you up, it's fine. In this case it was Bill and Debbie, two of my best friends in the world taking me up. I've also trusted my life to Patsy Verhoeven on the Gulfstar 50 Talion.

In other news, I have been in California for the past month helping my son rehab from a very bad car accident. He was the victim of a head-on collision. I will have flown back to Fiji on December 22 to rejoin Bruce Harbour on his St. Francis 44 cat Skabenga, which I crewed on in the Puddle Jump in the spring of 2013. We have been spending cyclone season in Fiji.

I spent the month before I returned to the States helping Bruce to install two new Yanmar diesels and a new saltwater system on Skabenga — as well as doing a refit of all the fittings while on the hard at Vuda Marina. As a result of that experience, I can now pass along the right tools over 95% of the time.

I recently had a woman captain tell me that the best way to learn about mechanical things is to have someone talk you through projects while you do it. It's good advice.
Hugs to all my many dear cruising friends in Mexico. I miss you!

Jennifer Martindale
Skabenga, St. Francis 44 Cat
Vuda Marina, Fiji

Readers — We saw a video of Skagbenga being relaunched in Fiji. It was one of those situations where there wasn't a single crane strong enough to lower the boat back into the water, so they had to use two cranes at once. It was a very delicate maneuver, but they succeeded.


In the November issue Sightings there was an item about what the FBI described as a ". . . volatile, drug-abusing father who kidnapped his nine-year old son and took him to the South Pacific on his sailboat."

Not so fast, FBI!

When is a father/sailor really a kidnapper? Certainly not when he takes his nine-year-old son and sets forth on his long anticipated dream cruise. Especially not after taking the trouble of going to court and receiving the following agreement:
"After the child reaches the age of nine, the father may travel domestically or internationally for up to one year exclusively with the child.” (Amended Parenting Plan, No 10-3-005509-0 SEA, filed May 5, 2011, 2:27 p.m.; Superior Court of Washington County of King. Note: This order was signed by both parents and the judge/commissioner.)

But when the time for the trip neared, the ex-wife took the boy to the Dominican Republic. Upon her return to the States, she told the father he could never see the boy again. Yet when the father offered her $1,500, she promptly gave up the boy for what remained of his annual summer visit with her.

After the boy turned nine, the father took his son on the agreed-upon cruise. Did he ask the reneging ex-wife? No, as it wasn’t required in the parenting agreement. Besides, would you?

What we're really talking about here is a Seattle FBI office that turned 30 agents loose to collude with an angry ex-wife and trump up a warrant based on hearsay material, material made up out of whole cloth after being gleaned from acquaintances that go all the way back to high school. One of his true friends, since grade school, said the FBI called him and used every psychological technique to get him to say something incriminating about him.

The FBI can call Jeffrey Hanson, who is my son, volatile. They can call him a drug-abuser and a kidnapper. They can call him whatever they please, but they should remember that in 46 years he has never been arrested for anything. As for the mother, I'll only say that her behavior with the boy speaks for itself.

So let's cut to the chase. Those of us who know the mother suspect that she will rush off to the Dominican Republic with my son's son, where she will be immune from extradition. I wonder how the FBI will like their 'kidnapper' then.

To recap what has happened to date, my grandson Billy was yanked off my son Jeff's boat Draco at Niue in the South Pacific in late October. Bill was flown back to his mother's home in Pennsylvania. My son was flown back to the States and is in custody, waiting for a court date in Seattle. I've been unable to contact either one of them.

Draco is on the hard in Niue, where there are already $10,000 in charges against her. The 'food bill' for the haul-out crew, by the way, was $400. I guess the sailboat must have looked like Christmas to the island police as they bent to the FBI's wishes. Most of the other islanders were kind and generous to both Jeff and his son Billy.

William Hanson
Planet Earth

Readers — Child custody battles have to be among the most heart-wrenching miseries known to man. Based on the 'he said, she said' nature of them, it's hard to ever know who is the more deserving and/or unfit parent. So we have no idea what's going on in this particular situation. The point of our running this letter is to try to make sure everyone understands that no matter how emotional one might get, and how unfair things may seem at any given time, it's a complete loser's game to ever try to take child-custody laws into one's own hands. The law has too many resources to be fought.

As people age, there is nothing more important in life than family. So we feel your pain, William, and hope there might be some relief down the road and that you may be reunited with your son and grandson.


I've been sailing for over 35 years and am also a marine scientist with Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge. In fact, I was the founding board member over a decade ago. I am also a member of Berkeley YC, and the Chair of our Ocean Stewardship Committee. As such, I would love to have all sailors become 'citizen scientists' and use our very important free apps to that end. I'm talking about Spotter Pro and/or Whale Alert on your iPad and iPhones, and See & ID Dolphins & Whales on Androids, iPads and iPhones.

The term 'citizen scientist' has taken hold in the scientific community all around the world. There are many international public volunteers who are involved in collecting all kinds of data for many different types of research organizations and studies. It is important to furthering our knowledge.

This letter is an invitation to sailors to become citizen scientists by collecting whale-, porpoise- and dolphin-sighting data. The increase in ship traffic around San Francisco increases the probability of ships hitting whales. Having citizen scientist/sailors on the Pacific or in the Bay collecting data on whale, dolphin and porpoise sightings will provide important data and help identify 'hotspots' as well as recording the temporal and spatial distribution of whales. It could result in a reduction of collisions between vessels and whales.

As a marine scientist, I was very pleased and excited when I received the Spotter Pro app, and field tested it from March through December 2013. I also used it all of 2014. The app was given to me through EarthNC from NOAA Cordell Bank (CBNMS) and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries (GFNMS), and Point Blue Conservation Science to field test it on my many trips offshore as a trip leader and sailor. Each time I was field testing the Spotter app, I created a summary of what went well as well as recommendations for changes. The app was constantly upgraded for several months in 2013 by EarthNC.

I have made my invitation to the general public as well as captains on whale-watching trips and fishing vessels. Everyone has been very impressed with the collection of data using the Spotter Pro app, and it is really cool to see the nautical chart and show the track lines in or near the new shipping lanes created in June 2013. This app shows the location of whale sightings using blue balls on the nautical chart on my iPad.

All of these important data are collected quickly and efficiently. For the past 20 years I have collected data by writing down the latitude, longitude, weather and sea conditions, number of whales and other comments. When I got to land, I entered the data into a large database and conducted an analysis. Thanks to the apps, the data on the iPad and iPhone are live and are uploaded to NOAA and Blue Point.

Following are instructions for downloading these apps: Spotter Pro became available to the general public in August 2013. When you are at the iTunes Store, search for 'Spotter Pro' and this will appear: “Spotter pro-field data capture & sync”. Click on 'download'. This is the app that I have been using since March 2013 as a marine scientist, and I still use it. It works great on all the trips I do as a leader during whale watching trips out to the Farallones and beyond. I also use this app, which works well along the coast of California, when I'm sailing. When I was in Baja in February 2014, the GPS worked but the nautical chart did not show up because it's not available in Mexico.

Whale Alert became available mid-September 2014. When you go to the iTunes Store, search for 'Whale Alert', and you'll get 'Whale Alert-reducing ship-strikes'. Click on that and it shows up on your screen. Then click 'download'.

See & ID Dolphins & Whales will help you identify species and includes guidelines on how to see the species. You can also download this free app from iTunes.

It is extremely important to document the locations and numbers of gray whales and the endangered blue, fin and humpback whales, especially if they are sighted near or in the shipping lanes.

If you have any questions you can contact me at or .

Carol Keiper
Sea Quest, Ericson 35
Berkeley YC


For the mother of all pilot charts, visit It's really quite cool.

Charles Lane
Shamwari, Tayana 37
San Francisco

Charles — We've mentioned this in Latitude before, but it's so great that it merits being featured once again in case anyone missed it. What can't be seen in the still photo version is that the site graphically illustrates macro wind patterns around the world using video. And the 'globe' can be rotated, so any particular spot in the world can be selected for a more detailed view of the wind as well as the wind speed. It's absolutely brilliant.


Like a lot of sailors, I was really impressed when the animated weather graphics of the world came out. But it appears they have been leapfrogged by For in addition to the wind patterns of the world, you can also select overlays of wind, temperature, pressure, clouds and humidity, and you can pick the altitude. Unreal.

Devan Mullin
Points Beyond, Shannon 38
Newport Beach

Devan — That site is a new one to us, but we have to agree that it has eclipsed the other one. But we're sure the latter will soon attempt to catch up, as we're pretty sure everybody has access to the same databases.


The rain pelted down on the cabintop of my boat as I perused the December issue of Latitude. In a world bursting with gluttony for fame and recognition, did National Geographic search out their 10 entries for 'Adventurer of the Year', or did the entries self-qualify or nominate themselves? And are armchair warriors who vote for the candidates supposed to vote on known, rather than unknown, variables about each person and each adventure? After all, things like sponsorships, trust funds, and other forms of financial support can certainly play into who is the 'most adventurous'.

The way I see it, each of the candidates probably faced many common challenges, and in addition was unwilling to let life slip by while being an idle spectator. In the case of a sailor, it would be the inability to find home in a slip.

'Contests' such as the National Geographic's seldom encapsulate reality, isolation, and challenges faced by all people each day. I think we should all boycott this, and adventure outside more often. I encourage all to look past the wipers at the distant drops falling.

Andy Stuhan
Anemone, Searunner 42

Andy — We did our best to edit your letter, but must confess we're not completely sure what points you were trying to make or what you want to boycott.

For what it's worth, Liz Clark of the Cal 40 Swell told us she was "surprised" at being one of the 10 nominees for National Geographic's Adventurer of the Year, so we assume she didn't nominate herself.


I agree with Latitude's negative feelings about National Geographic's having people vote for one of 10 candidates to be the winner of their 'Adventurer of the Year' award. I'm sure they will do a nice write-up on all 10 of the nominees, but having readers vote for a winner?

We have been reading the publisher Richard Spindler's fine mag since 1985, and I have to admit, I agree with everything he says. It sounds kind of weird, but it's true. As I read some of the letters, I think to myself, 'Oh boy, Richard will have something to say about this'.

We saw Profligate a couple of summers ago anchored by Birdrock. We had a pitcher of Bloody Marys. The lights were on at Profligate, but nobody was home. Next time.

Mark & Patti Miller
Patricia A, Westsail 28
Southern California

Mark and Patti — Nat Geo's 'Adventurer of the Year' sounds like the magazine version of 'America's Next Top Model' or some other trashy television program. We are firmly against the concept of ranking 'adventuring'. Furthermore, we think there is another category of adventurers who are so into it they never care about recognition or come to the attention of the mass media.

Southern Californian Glenn Tieman, for instance, who years ago built Peregrine, a Wharram Pahi 26 catamaran for $3,000. As memory serves us, Glenn cruised the Pacific on $1/day for the first five years, then $3/day when he spent the next five years cruising to and around Asia. After his family convinced him he was missing out on life, he returned to Southern California briefly to teach school. Realizing that his family was wrong, he spent $14,000 to build Manu Rere, an ancient flat-deck 38-ft catamaran design. Lashings were all that were used to hold the boat together, and to attach the rudders to the hulls. The last time we saw Tieman was in Turtle Bay in November 2007. There's a guy who belonged in National Geographic but wouldn't want any part of it.

As for agreeing with everything we've written, thank you, but we're not even sure we do.


I just read your response to my November issue Letter regarding the Profligate-Panache 'meeting' at Scorpion Bay, Santa Cruz Island, in early September. You wrote that you'd T-boned a boat in Richardson Bay in 1979. OMG, I’ve been laughing for three days! You guys are something else.

Anyway, thanks for the accolades regarding Panache. She's still an unfinished symphony, but then aren’t all boats? I really didn’t expect a cover shot; besides, I’ve got way better ones than what I sent you. I only used it as it pertained to the story.

We’re planning to be out at Santa Cruz Island next year, potentially in late spring. Any chance you’ll be there then? If not, we’ll plan to be there the same time you're scheduled to be there. A cover shot from the Latitude quad chopper would be awesome!

The last time Panache was covered in Latitude was in June 2004, page 115, in the Sightings section. I purchased her six months later. There was a second photo of her on page 178 of the same issue in an advertisement for Yvonne Soy Photography. The photo showed the previous owner trimming lines from aft.

Adriel, my wife, and I also want to thank you for your dinner offer, and will take you up on it. What do you say we settle up on that next year at Santa Cruz Island — but only if Profligate is anchored!

Martin Buxton
Panache, Bill Lee ULDB 40
Santa Cruz

Martin — Here are the details on the time we T-boned a boat in Richardson Bay in 1979. We'd been up in the Delta aboard our 41-ft Bounty II Flying Scud, and had left Antioch at about 7 a.m. to catch a favorable ebb and beat the afternoon breeze. We arrived back in Richardson Bay about 4 p.m., a little bleary from strong winds in San Pablo Bay. All of a sudden we felt the bow of our boat collide with another vessel. We were so pissed that some ignorant jackass could have hit us as we were motoring up the Richardson Bay Channel on a clear and calm afternoon. As we went to the bow to give the idiot owner of the other boat hell, we were surprised to notice two things: 1) The other boat was anchored, and 2) We weren't in the channel after all. Based on that information, it seems as though the collision might actually have been our fault. We're happy to report that we haven't come close to having a collision with a boat, underway or at anchor, until we gave you a fright in September.

Next year at Santa Cruz Island on September 7 and 8 right after the Labor Day crowds have left? See you there.


I sent the following letter to Tere Grossman, President of the Mexican Marina Owners Association:

It's been a year since I 'lost' my boat Pelican to the Mexican government via SAT (the Mexican IRS) in Guadalajara, and I still await learning the legal status of my boat. As we plan a trip south, I wonder if I can make stops in Mexico, or must I sail directly from Los Angeles to Central America?

Would it help if we 'charged back' the MasterCard payments for slip fees of $3,000 when my boat was 'owned' by the Mexican government? Or possibly the other marinas that collected some $12,000 after 2009 by accepting my supposedly invalid Temporary Import Permit?

On November 28, I received the following response from Ms. Grossman:

"I am in Mexico City, and today I went to the Tourism Department with Maria Elena Carrillo, our association lawyer, to inquire about your case. It seems as though your boat will be released soon — albeit maybe 'Mexico soon'. When that happens, the file will be closed and it will be as though nothing ever happened with your boat. But until that happens, the authorities recommend that you don't stop in Mexico. These days information on all boats in Mexico is on computers, so no matter where you went in Mexico, you could have problems until the file is closed. I will let you know when the file on your boat is closed."

I thanked Tere for the information and her efforts, and assured her that I would not try to bring Pelican back to Mexico until I heard from her. After all, we are still recovering from our 'run for the border'.

John Hands
Pelican, Beneteau Idylle 1150
San Diego

Readers — This letter begs for some background and clarification. In late November of 2013, AGACE, a subagency of Mexico's version of the IRS, raided about eight marinas in Mexico, complete with heavily armed marines and prison buses. The new head of the agency was under the false impression that they had stumbled upon a bounty of foreign-owned boats in Mexico that owed a fortune in duty. Unfortunately, the AGACE 'auditors' knew as little about boats as the head of AGACE knew about the legality of the boats' being in Mexico, and 338 foreign-owned boats were impounded, some for as long as four months. The hiring of lawyers in attempts to free impounded boats only seemed to delay their ultimate release. It was one of the most self-destructive moves that Mexico could have made, and cost them a fortune in bad publicity.

Seventy-five year old John Hands was born in Berkeley and had a long career working for the likes of IBM, Control Data and Amdahl. He retired to Mexico for the first time in 1981, then came back to California for six years of work, during which time he bought Pelican as it came out of The Moorings charter program in Loreto. He later brought the boat up to the Delta to outfit her for cruising, then returned to Mexico in 2003. He spent five years — and four hurricanes — in the Sea of Cortez, two years in the Huatulco area, and most recently three years in the Puerto Vallarta area. For years, Hands extolled the pleasures of living aboard in Mexico.

Alas, Hands was one of those who got trapped more than most in the temporary insanity of a seemingly unthinking and uncaring Mexican bureaucracy. When his Pelican was 'audited' by AGACE at Nuevo Vallarta, they noted that his 10-year Temporary Import Permit seemed to be out of date, and declared that his boat was in Mexico illegally. They wanted a $7,500 USD fine — in addition to keeping his boat! Nice for a guy living on Social Security who had long been one of Mexico's most vocal supporters.

The 'problem' was that Hands had gotten a 10-year Temporary Import Permit in 2009 at Salina Cruz. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to Hands, an official used the expiration date of Hand's 180-day tourist visa for the expiration date of his TIP — even though that was 9½ years short of the true expiration date. After all, he'd gotten a 10-Year TIP, not a Six-Month TIP, which doesn't even exist. While this was an obvious error on the part of some Mexican bureaucrat, for reasons known only to other Mexican bureaucrats, they not only refused to correct the error, they seemed intent on nailing Hands with an inexcusably large fine and the outrageous seizure of his boat.

Unable to pay the fine, Hands simply took off from Puerto Vallarta with Pelican and made a 1,000-mile run for the U.S. border. As you might imagine, doing a Baja Bash running from Mexican authorities was anything but tranquil. But Hands made it.

As illogical as the Mexican government can be, sometimes they are surprisingly forgiving. For instance, a couple of folks with boats impounded in Ensenada were successful in runs for the U.S. border. Months later, the files for their boats were cleared by AGACE, and they were told they were free to return to Mexico — despite having blatantly defied Mexican authorities by running for the border. And Hand's Pelican will, apparently, also be forgiven — albeit in 'Mexican time'.

As far as we can tell, Hands was one of the few foreign boatowners who wasn't cleared within less than four months, and was treated much worse than almost all other boatowners.

The good news is that AGACE, AGACE agents, harbormasters, and foreign boatowners seem a lot more knowledgeable these days, so nobody is expecting a repeat of the November 2013 fiasco. That said, if you're coming to Mexico, make sure you have all the correct paperwork, make sure everything on your TIP — including serial numbers — is correct, and follow the rules. It's not that hard and it's certainly not that expensive.


It's raining lions and St. Bernards up here in Portland, so in order to warm up, I sat down and read 'Lectronic Latitude. What a great job you're doing with the aerial photos from your DJI Phantom Quad and Go Pro at the Marina Vallarta and other spots. It's an awesome tool for Latitude — and your own childish enjoyment. By the way, that's a major compliment, as you never really want to grow up. And congratulations on sticking with it even after the disappointment of losing a few quads.

I turned my antique Kearney swaging machine into a super swaging machine by having a machinist friend make longer shafts and an outer bearing plate, all to my design. It works awesome! In fact, I just finished up doing the rigging for a 50-ft ketch, and will be driving my camper — with my 10-ft sailing dinghy — down to Baja next month to install the rigging. I can't wait for the sunshine, the beauty of Baja and the Sea of Cortez, and to see all my wonderful friends in Mexico again.

I've enclosed a photo that somebody — I wish I knew who — took of my Columbia 43 Adios during the 2013 Baja Ha-Ha. I sure have loved doing the Ha-Ha's in the past, and am looking forward to doing this fall's Ha-Ha for sure.

Craig Shaw
Adios, Columbia 43
Portland, Oregon

Craig — We're glad you liked the shots from the 'drone'. They were actually taken with a $1,400 Phantom Vision 2+ rather than our Phantom 2 with a GoPro. A couple of days before, we 'weed-whacked' a palm tree near a pool and crashed the latter. As it hit the ground, it broke into its three components. The quad itself landed on the ground next to the pool but was undamaged. The GoPro landed on the ground and was also undamaged. Alas, the gimbal, a critical $350 part, hit the ground and then plopped into the swimming pool. Electrical components don't want to swim any more than cats do, so that will have to be replaced.

The truth of the matter is we greatly prefer the Phantom Vision 2+ to the nearly twice- as-expensive Phantom 2 with a Go Pro. While the latter takes higher quality video, the photographs are no better than with the 14 megapixel Vision 2+. The problem with the Phantom 2 with GoPro is that you have to choose video or still photo and all other control choices before you take off. With the less-expensive Vision 2+, you have full control and information from the quad from the get-go, and thus don't end up with thousands of stills and minutes of video you never wanted.

DJI was supposed to come out with a new $2,899 Inspire top-of-the line model featuring 4K video. Unless you're shooting in or for Hollywood, we suggest that the Vision 2+ is more than adequate for 95% of possible uses — and until you have one, you never know how many great uses there are for them.

Congrats on the antique swaging machine. We love all that ancient heavyweight equipment that still works as well as when it was new, the better part of a century ago. What craftsmanship! You should visit the Matthew Turner tall ship building site in Sausalito, as you'd be fascinated by some of the great old equipment they are using to build that vessel.


During the last cruising season NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) announced their intention to provide operational forecaster-curated weather forecasts for the Pacific Ocean from the U.S. border to Ecuador. As you know, there are no professional forecasts available for this area, so this would be of great use to all cruisers in Mexico. NOAA has delayed implementation of that plan, but an email campaign from "important customers" — such as us cruisers — can help get the implementation back on track.

The following is an email that I received from Jeffrey Lewitsky of NOAA:

"Our initial plans were to have the forecasts that you mentioned become operational on December 1, 2014, however, that will likely be delayed until sometime in 2015. Please note that what is currently available is not directly enhanced and adjusted by our forecasters, as it is not yet operational. In other words, our forecasters do currently create an underlying 10 km by 10 km gridded database which is updated every 6-12 hours, but the resultant text output that you have seen is not yet edited once it is created. Once the forecasts become operational, our forecasters will thoroughly quality control the text output. In addition, they will also create a synopsis at the top of the product, describing the weather conditions and forecast for the next 1-5 days. We also hope to include wave direction and period information in the text products in 2015.

"I will keep you posted on our progress. In the meantime, if you have found these forecasts to be of use, could you please send another email stating such and your desire for them to become operational? The more such feedback we get from important customers such as yourself, the more quickly we can implement this new enhanced service by showing that there is a great demand for it."

In view of this, I encourage everyone to write Lewitsky at , stating that the experimental forecasts have been of great value, and that you eagerly await the operational version.

Rob Murray
Avant, Beneteau First 435
Vancouver, BC


All the people I know who participated in the 21st Ha-Ha gave it an enthusiastic thumbs-up. I can only assume that Mr. McManus, who complained about it in December Letters, was the kid nobody liked in school.

Bill Reitz
Kind of Blue, Catalina 36

Bill — We appreciate your support, but don't think you need to say nasty things about people. What really gets us is that we don't try to sugar coat the Ha-Ha — even though it's by far the easiest of the well-known cruising rallies. We try to list as many possible hazards as possible and go out of our way to point out that we have no control over the weather — as if anybody needed to be told that. For what it's worth, more than half the other big cruising rallies were delayed this year: the ARC, the Caribbean 1500, and the TransAtlantic.


All the hoopla about the 25th anniversary of the Magellan Nav 1000 handheld GPS reminded me that mine stopped working in January 2000. I thought it was a victim of the Y2K hoopla, which we all know turned out to be a false alarm. Nonetheless, I thought my 1000 had given up the ghost for good.

Being a good pack rat, I've kept the Nav 1000 along with all the rest of my nautical memorabilia. To my surprise, a recent article in Latitude mentioned that some folks were still using their revered handheld GPSs. So I guessed Y2K had been no match for the 1000. After 14 years of its collecting dust, I put new batteries in — and the old Nav 1000 came back to life!

It took about 25 minutes to find satellites and digest the data, but it's as reliable as before. I guess I’ll keep it for emergencies, or conversation.

Jorge Moreles
Bolero, J/46
Dana Point


In a recent Latitude, the editor wondered if flares are still necessary in the age of GPS. When my Morgan 45 Painkiller sank in the Caribbean in 2000, we were in 12- to 15-ft seas. At midday, when the Coast Guard C-130 was flying ellipses over us, we used the flares so they could spot us amongst the spume.

By the way, I had both my new and outdated flares, and all of them worked. So don't discard the old ones. But don't store them with the current ones either, as the Coast Guard doesn't approve of it.

Ron Landmann
Minden, Nevada

Ron — There was an incident in the Ha-Ha this year where the Ericson 35 Lily Rowan, which had a non-functioning engine, called for assistance to get towed the last few windless miles into Bahia Santa Maria. We're still not sure why they didn't start by giving a GPS position, but eventually they fired a flare. Even though it was a beautifully clear and calm day, it could barely be seen from just a few miles away. Perhaps what we're really trying to say is that mariners need to fully understand the considerable limitations of flares.


On page 72 of the November issue you report on a 'whale of an app' concerning whale populations, and mention that "sailors — especially those who transit coastal areas —are often concerned about colliding with cetaceans, for their own sake as well as for the whales' sake . . ."

Tell me about it. As Latitude knows, in June 2012, while I was singlehanding up the coast of Baja to complete a 12-year circumnavigation with my Perry 47 Reflections, my boat was hit by a whale and sank.

The U.S. Department of Commerce and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration subsequently sent me about 37 database pages of information about reported whale collisions. So there really is a problem.

But having had my boat sunk by a whale would not stop me from sailing around the world again. Those 12 years I spent circumnavigating were just amazing.

A very wise man once said, "The path to happiness is paved with interesting experiences, not things." That wise man was the publisher of Latitude, and I have that quote posted on the map of my world cruise. But having read that you bought a canal boat, how many boat 'things' do you have now? LOL.

But thank you so much, my friend, for Latitude 38. I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed it over the many years it has been published.

Max Young
ex-Reflections, Perry 47

Max — Thanks for going overboard with the kind words.

The sentiment about experiences bringing more happiness than objects has been expressed by many people over the years since about the time of Confucius, so it's hardly original. In fact, if we remember correctly, we were paraphrasing something Paul Cayard had recently written in Seahorse magazine.

We now have four boats/things. True, on the surface it might seem hypocritical to have four boats while claiming that experiences are more important than things. But the boats are actually tremendous 'experience generators'. Take the 63-ft catamaran Profligate, as she has been the mothership of 18 Ha-Ha's, was the mothership for the founding of the Zihua SailFest, the Northern California Cat Cup, the Banderas Bay Blast, the Pirates for Pupils Spinnaker Run, the SoCal Ta-Ta, the Sea of Cortez Sailing Week Revival. In addition, she's done more races, shorthanded and fully crewed, than a sailor could shake a winch handle at. She's also been to the Caribbean and back, rescued people on flipped boats, towed boats off rocks, and played host to literally thousands of guests and contributors to charitable causes. We can't imagine what our life would have been like without her.

Our second largest boat is the Leopard 45 cat 'ti Profligate, which we have in a yacht management program in the British Virgin Islands, but personally use three months a year. Our belief is that if you don't spend time in the Caribbean each year, there is no way you can keep up with what's going on in sailing. La Gamelle, which we picked up for under $5,000, is the third Olson 30 we've owned. We used her for Zen sailing on San Francisco Bay, then took her to the Caribbean, where we gave away the Honda outboard and now Zen sail her singlehanded. To our way of thinking, sailing the engineless Olson 30 in the Caribbean is about as close to pure sailing as you can get.

As reported last month, we recently bought a surprisingly inexpensive small steel canal boat in the Netherlands, which we plan to share with two partners and use two months each year in Europe. The four boats are our 'homes', for as the French would say, we have "no fixed domicile." The Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca do a lot of 'sleeping around' and have a lot of 'experiences'. We wouldn't trade it for all the cars, jewelry, clothes and other crap we could have spent the money on.


After Latitude's recommendation a couple of years ago regarding 12-volt LED light strips, I purchased several. They've worked great in the galley, saloon and master stateroom. They easily attached to the flat-surfaced gelcoat with the stickyback.
Recently, however, the strips have begun to fail. Not the whole strip, but individual LED 'bulbs'. They start flickering, then go out. I can get them to come back on by pressing my fingernail on the failed 'bulb', but after I let up, it goes out again. It's not as if I can replace the individual bulbs. I guess I'll have to live with it, or replace the whole strip.

I look forward to Latitude every month.

Scott Harris
Makarios, Island Packet 485
Lake Havasu, Arizona

Scott — Thanks for the kind words. We haven't had a problem with individual 'bulbs' failing, but our strips have gotten about 20% dimmer. So we bought three new 15-ft LED strips, which cost all of about $50, for Profligate's large saloon. If and when the old LED strips get too dim, we'll replace them. For right now, they're bright enough.


It is highly unlikely — basically impossible — that the actual LEDs are degrading. More likely the problem is a resistor or other component in the dimmer control, or possibly oxidation of the connector to the LED strip. Fixing the latter requires plugging and unplugging the connector a few times to wipe off the oxidation, then coating it with Vaseline to prevent future oxidation. Many, but not all — sigh — LED strips can take straight 12-volt via a good old-fashioned switch. Of course, that only gives you two choices: lighting with all the romance of an operating theatre or none at all.

Tim Dick
Sausalito / Honolulu



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