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February 2015

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It's very important to be able to stop and take a breather when sailing offshore, especially when the weather is rough and the crew is tired of getting bounced around. It's also important in cases where it's necessary to stop to make repairs.

My wife Kent and I have frequently hove-to on our Schionning 49 catamaran Sea Level. We have done this through the night in 25- to 35-knot winds. We have also done it simply to be able to enjoy a meal or watch a movie. The most wind in which we've hove-to was 38 knots, with 25- to 30-ft seas. That was in the Indian Ocean during our circumnavigation.

I have successfully used the following method to heave-to on several different catamaran designs: 1) Double reef the main; 2) Roll up the jib; 3) Center and strap in the main; 4) Center the rudders. That's it.

If you're on a starboard tack, as in the accompanying diagram, the cat should try to head up, but she will not come around. If the port tack is more comfortable because of the sea state, we use one engine to drive the boat onto the other tack. It might be necessary to move the traveler a little, but probably not.

Once we discovered this method, we were much more comfortable cruising offshore without other crew. We're curious if this method works on all catamarans. Feedback from cat owners, please.

Jim & Kent Milski
Sea Level, Schionning 49
Lake City, Colorado


I have a couple of thoughts regarding organizing and/or sponsoring the proposed San Francisco Bay Record event discussed in the Letters section of the December Latitude 38. But first, let me say I really like the idea.

I assume — and for Latitude's sake, hope — that you intend to run the event under the Racing Rules of Sailing. Some events that have tried to short-cut this have ended up being involved in complex liability situations, and even horrendous actual liabilities. Believe me, as I was an expert witness in one such case.

But with the RRS comes a bunch of other formalities. I know Latitude likes to keep things simple, but certain things are required by the RRS. You need to have an Organizing Authority that is affiliated somehow with the MNA (US Sailing). You need to have a Notice of Race that conforms to a minimum standard. You need to have a Race Committee, although it can be as large or small as you might like. It's best to have a US Sailing-certified PRO, who is automatically covered by personal liability insurance. And you need to have Sailing Instructions, again to a minimum prescribed standard.

I am all for 'let's get out there and have some fun' simplicity, but I would hate to see Latitude or any sponsors end up on the wrong end of a liability suit due to oversimplification.

Bartz Schneider
Expeditious, Express 37

Bartz — We appreciate your concern and information, and will consult with you and others on how to set up the event properly.


Tito Rivano, 86, died in mid-December. He may not be well-known these days, but there was a time when he was a bit of a legend in Alameda's hippie-sailor crowd. That legend lived on in Tito's mind until the end. I say that in jest because Tito was always good for a laugh. And then another one.

The legend of Tito was based on his boatbuilding skills, which he shared freely among the Wylie Design Group, North Coast Yachts, and the Hulse Christman Spars and Rigging crowd. It was Tito who coined Dave Hulse's well-known nickname of 'Squaw'.

Tito was born in Sardinia and lived his life as a seafaring man. He was strong as an ox and stubborn as a bull. He never came sailing without a pot of hot food, and he used to make sublime wine. He was a pain in the ass, too. I'll miss him.

Brian Ebert
Crew, Absolute Saidee, Wylie 33


Even though I've been on the East Coast for a few years now, I just learned from a friend that Tito Rivano passed away in December. I shared many a meal with Tito aboard his Cal on Pier 1 of the Encinal YC. Tito made some pretty good wine that he often shared with friends. He also built many boats, from rowing shells to El Toros to Wylie-designed Hawkfarm 28s.

I also remember Tito tinkering with and sailing Hot Banana, his old wood Zephyr, in the Oakland Estuary. In fact, I can't remember a sunny weekend on the Estuary without seeing Tito sailing the Banana.

Tito was liberal with his advice and help. Many years ago Tito and I were having a discussion about Jimmy Warfield, who had brought his 5.5 Meter to Alameda from Stockton for the Estuary Midwinter Series. Jimmy was nearly unbeatable with his 5.5, but I'll never forget the day Tito told me, in his heavy Italian accent, "You can’t beat dat guy. I can beat dat guy. You give me a boat, you give me a crew dat must obey, and I will beat dat guy.”

Tito was a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy, with a big heart. I will miss him.

Adam Sadeg
Yard Manager, Zimmerman Marine
Deltaville, Virginia


Latitude's January editorial response to a Spike Africa-themed letter begs for an explanation of how a white dude comes to have the last name of Africa.

According to an early 1980s entry in this selfsame august publication, Spike was a less-than-successful used car salesman in a Bay Area neighborhood heavily populated with African-Americans — until he legally changed his last name to 'Africa'. Then when he was met with skepticism upon introducing himself to prospective customers with his new name, he would whip out his driver's license as proof of his 'brotherhood'. Sales skyrocketed. With the proceeds from his now-successful car sales gambit, Africa opened San Francisco's first 'fern bar' restaurant, which he later sold for a cool million bucks — presumably with which he financed his sailing career and 'presidency' of the big pond.

Now, for your readers' enjoyment, can you reprint your circa-1980s yarn involving three Vegas hookers who retired, pooled their savings, and bought a former client's sailboat to pursue a leisurely sailing life? C'mon, you know the story.

Sam Burns
Southernaire, Catalina 309

Sam — Entertaining letter, but you're confusing Spike Africa, who was the first President of the Pacific Ocean, and who died in 1985, with Henry Africa, creator of the 'fern bar' concept, who passed away 28 years later.

We can't remember where we got the info for the 'Henry Africa' piece we ran ages ago, or even the piece itself, but we can tell you that the person you're referring to was born Norman Jay Hobday in 1933 on a dairy farm in upstate New York. He landed in San Francisco on his way home to Buffalo from the service, but got rolled for all his money in a bar just before he was to catch a bus to the airport. He was helped out by a bartender and decided to stay in the City.

According to Hobday's version of his life, he was a driver for Lefty O'Doul and Joe DiMaggio, two baseball greats from San Francisco, when in 1969 he spotted the future Henry Africa's bar location at Broadway and Polk. In order to save money on decorating the bar, he filled it with plants. The unintended — but wildly successful — result was that young San Francisco single women found it a conducive environment in which to meet young San Francisco men in a time when sexual liberation was on the rise. Most other San Francisco bars of the time were somewhat unsavory. The 'fern bar' concept became a smash around the country.

According to Hobday, his mother loaned him the money he needed to open the bar, his fourth — on the condition he name it after an old boyfriend of hers who had been in the French Foreign Legion. We're guessing that Mama Hobday's old flame had served in Africa and had taken on the name of the continent. Sort of like Doña de Mallorca, who wasn't born with the de Mallorca last name, but was given it by the Wanderer as the result of her having lived in Mallorca for eight years. There's no law against a person's taking on or being given a more colorful last name.

When Hobday told his story to the Chronicle in 2011, a couple of years before his death, he didn't mention anything about selling cars to African Americans using Africa as a last name. That doesn't mean it didn't happen. When people get older they often want to delete parts of their history for a more shining legacy.

How does a white dude get the last name of 'Africa'? At least one 'white dude' was born with it, as you'll find in 'Spike's Story', as provided by Spike Africa's Fresh Seafood restaurant in San Diego:

"The name Spike Africa is fast becoming a part of the modern folklore of the sea. He is considered one of the last great tall ship schooner captains on the West Coast. The self-proclaimed 'President of the Pacific Ocean', Spike Africa sailed the waters from Alaska to Tahiti for most of the 20th century. An expert rigger, schooner captain, international boat racer, writer, actor, inventor, and surprisingly a master of macramé, everyone from roughneck sailors to members of high society found Spike to be a true Renaissance Man.

"Born Philip Marion Africa in 1906 on a Newark, Ohio farm, he was drawn to the ships on the Great Lakes and ran from home as a teenager to follow his dreams. In his twenties he moved to the West Coast to work in the logging camps near Portland, Oregon. His sailing career began when he shipped out on the K.V. Kruse, freighting lumber from Seattle to numerous world ports. It was on this ship that he mastered the art of sailing and eventually obtained his mate’s papers for wooden sailing ships. Spike owned and captained the freight schooner Ruby, a true workhorse sailing between Seattle and Alaska.

"Wanderlust struck again as he watched the glamorous passenger ships sailing from the West Coast to Honolulu. The fantasy of Hawaii represented by exotic hula girls moved him to board the nearby cruise ship and sign on. Despite his rough appearance, he was accepted as a deckhand.

"In the short essay titled 'Monkey Fist' in Wooden Boat magazine, Spike wrote '…they sure set a nice table, so I went aboard, donned the whites, squeezed my leathery feet into cute sneakers, and headed for the pineapple country.' Upon arriving in Honolulu, he took it upon himself to help the captain anchor (sic) the ship to the dock. Using old ship parts, he fashioned a loaded monkey fist knot to tie to the anchor line for casting onto the docks. Though his time as a knot inventor was short-lived, it was not forgotten. Spike wrote '…I made a fine pitch and got a US Navy four-striper right between the eyes. He went down like a polled ox. The monkey fist was never retrieved, and I got a citation from the Navy…the only one I ever got. The loaded monkey fist was banned from the docks.'"

"Never known to shy away from confrontation, Spike joined the US Navy and became a Seabee lieutenant in World War II. As a Combat Seabee, he fought in the bloody battle of Peleliu Island, which was depicted in the HBO award-winning mini-series The Pacific.

"Before the war, Spike had fallen in love with Barbara Jean Dunham, better known as 'Red', and married her upon returning home. The daughter of a Seattle doctor and lawyer, her life of high society did not deter her from tying the knot with the rugged sailor. They had three children and remained married until his death.

"In 1958, Spike was first mate on the schooner Wanderer, owned and captained by famous actor Sterling Hayden. Hayden turned a short sailing trip into their legendary voyage to Tahiti when he defied a divorce court order and took all four of his children out of the country. Hayden and Spike’s adventure was chronicled in Hayden’s classic sea tale Wanderer.

"In the 1960s, Africa was a regular of Sausalito’s famous No Name Bar, where he mingled with artists, musicians, beatniks and movie stars.

"In 1977, Africa’s friend Bob Sloan was inspired to design and build the last great coasting schooner, Spike Africa. The graceful yet steady vessel has won awards and has been featured on several Hollywood films and TV shows.

"After returning to the Great Northwest, Africa settled down as harbormaster at the Seattle YC. His reputation was well known as a great captain, as well as a gentleman with clients. He continued to share his adventures and his knowledge of knotting in literary works and publications in the '70s and '80s. There is even a knot named after him which can be found on many macramé bottles.

"We suspect that Africa got his name 'Spike' from a rigging tool used on sailboats, and it fits him perfectly. He stood out among the crowd, and he was a force to be reckoned with when a challenge arose. Even the portrait of him in his old age illustrates his character. His white beard and lines on the facial appearance marked his long tales of oceanic adventures. He loved uncharted waters in the oceans as well as in life. Africa passed away in 1985 at the age of 78. His legend lives on here at Spike Africa’s Fresh Fish Grill & Bar in San Diego, California."

We hope the above clarifies things.

Vegas hookers buying an ex-client's boat? We don't remember any such thing. But our memory is no longer perfect.


I have owned my Cal 20 Spike Africa for over 40 years. I often saw Spike in Sausalito over the years and he was indeed quite a character. One time he visited the Sausalito YC and I mentioned that I had named my boat after him. He seemed pleased — but then wanted money for my having done it! I think he was serious, although with Spike you never could tell.

Sometimes I'd see Spike walking down Bridgeway when I was driving to work, and I'd give him a honk. Even though his head was down and he couldn't see me, he always gave a wave, certain the honk was for him.

Barbara Kavanagh
Spike Africa, Cal 20


We downloaded the December 2014 issue of Latitude 38 with much anticipation as we were hoping to see a picture of ourselves from the Ha-Ha's From Here to Eternity Kissing Contest. It was our understanding that we won the event. At least that's what the Grand Poobah told us on the beach shortly after our 'winning kiss'. In fact, our winning required a second display of our passionate embrace in the surf.

Regardless of who won that contest, we had fun doing it — and we had a great time on the Ha-Ha.

Pat & Melodie Williams
Starshine, Outbound 44
San Francisco

Pat and Melodie — We're delighted that you wrote in to remind us that you won, because there was such chaos at the Beach/Awards Party that we couldn't remember who'd won. Thanks to Hurricane Vance, we were delayed in arriving in Cabo, which forced a change of venue. Trust the Poobah, having to share the Mango Deck with lap dancers and competitive drinkers made it the most screwed up Ha-Ha Beach Party ever. Our apologies to all.


Most of my friends dislike rap/trance music. Not me, as those beats can be great for exercising and getting amped up. But I hate the violence and misogyny espoused in so many rap lyrics. What I'm looking for are rap versions of breezy and beachy Jimmy Buffett songs. In particular, I'd like to hear a rap version of 'Boat Drinks'. True, the lyrics include a line about a shooting, but it's shooting a freezer, not another human being. Can you help?

Sally 'Cowgirl' Wrangle
East Walnut Creek

Cowgirl — We did a quick check of Google and couldn't find any rap versions of Buffett songs, but we think you're on to something.


I don't think the December 22 'Lectronic photo you posted of a boat in a shed is the Kamali'i of Transpac and Larry Doheny fame. As a kid growing up in Southern California, I loved to read about boats of this type, and I recall that Phillip Rhodes designed the 75-ft ketch Kamali'i, which was built of wood by Wilmington Boat Works around 1958. I believe that Larry Doheny was indeed the owner, and the boat was built primarily to do the Transpac. If you check out the last entry on the list of boats built by Wilmington Boat Works (WILBO) on the Internet, you'll find Kamali'i. By the way, you can also find the 55-ft schooner Santana, once owned by Humphrey Bogart, on the list.

John Foy
Destiny, Catalina 42
Punta Mita, Mexico

John — The rumor that the boat in the shed was Larry Doheny's famous Kamali'i turned out to be false, as did the suggestion that she was hauled at the Lido Shipyard. The boat is actually La Belle Sole, a 64-ft Rhodes-designed centerboard ketch that was built in 1956, and she's in a shed at the Newport Harbor Boatyard on Lido Island.

Here's a blurb from a website that was created about the La Belle Sole design:

"Rhodes designed this vessel as a fully competent, go-anywhere, do-anything yacht, in a more modest size -— well under his 70-plus footers. She performs well under sail or power, and draws under six feet for the shallow regions of the world. She provides two couples with large, comfortable cabins with their own heads and closets. There is separate space for crew and generous tankage. She was built in steel, with four water-tight bulkheads. The design was so successful that five sisterships were built."

If we're not mistaken, the yacht is being restored nearly from scratch by one of the most charming yacht owners we've ever met, a person who did an impeccable restoration of a much larger Rhodes design a few years ago. Since this individual has not responded to our written request for comments, we're going to withhold his/her identity until it becomes public knowledge.


Another great yacht that is falling apart is Escapade, the Rhodes /Luders-designed 72-ft centerboard ketch that's been beached at KKMI for years.

According to a blurb in Wooden Boat magazine's 'Save A Classic', Escapade was built by Luders Marine in 1938 for ocean racing and cruising, and had sailed on both coasts as well as on the Great Lakes and in Europe. She competed against other great yachts of her time, including Ticonderoga and Bolero.

Rumor has it she was being restored when the West Coast owner ran out of money. She's now on the hard and slowly falling apart.

Vickie Gilmour
Richmond YC

Vickie — There's a great oil painting of Escapade under sail on the wall of Eddy's, our favorite restaurant in St. Barth. After a few 'ti punches, the old-timers from the recreational pot-smuggling days of the 1970s and 1980s will point to the ketch and say, "Since the statute of limitations has run out, we can tell you that she smuggled her share of pot."

About a dozen years ago, Escapade was owned by Northern California lawyer Nikolai Tehin, who sailed her in a race to Mexico. On the way back to the Bay, she hit the Coast Guard mooring just off Pt. Conception, doing considerable damage to her bow. Tehin brought the boat to KKMI in Richmond for repairs. While the boat was out, work was started on replacing the decks, at which point some rot was discovered. Tehin told the yard to "make it all right." After a while the checks stopped coming. Not too long after that, Tehin was charged with, and later convicted of, spending money from the trust accounts of clients, some of them among the most vulnerable in society.

After several years, great effort, and enormous expense, KKMI was able to get title to the yacht. Initially there was European interest in restoring the great yacht, but KKMI's Paul Kaplan was hoping to hold out for an American owner to restore the American-designed and -built yacht. In retrospect, the somewhat romantic notion cost KKMI dearly. At this point, Kaplan admits the best that can be hoped for is to salvage some components of the old boat and build around them. "It would be," he told Latitude, "a really big project."

For those who didn't see the December 22 'Lectronic Latitude that broached this subject, we'll re-run it here so everybody can understand the reason Victoria mentioned Escapade:

"When you’re talking about lucky wooden boats, Finesse, a 52-ft auxiliary centerboard ketch designed by S&S and built by Germany’s acclaimed Abeking & Rasmussen yard, is one of them. She was built of mahogany over oak in 1958 for Cornelius Crane of the Crane Plumbing fortune, who sailed her through the South Pacific for the last 10 years of his life. So she got to see the tropical world.

We’re not sure where Finesse spent the last 45 years, but she’s currently docked at Koehler Kraft of San Diego and owned by CF Koehler, who is noted for loving and restoring wooden boats. Finesse is old and needs a lot of work, but if her luck holds, CF will find the time to do a complete restoration.

"Not as fortunate are Dolce Vita and Tondalayo, two once-great yachts we saw on the hard the other day at the Opequimar Boat Yard in Puerto Vallarta. We’re guessing both yachts are about the same vintage as Finesse, and were similarly among the great yachts of their era. But both are in very sad shape, where the worms that once might have held the frames together dried up and died a long time ago. They are sad sights to see, but reminders that life is short and needs to be lived to the max.

"If anybody knows anything about the histories of Dolce Vita and Tondalayo, we'd love to hear about them."


I have about a dozen old marine flares that are disintegrating. I contacted numerous places in Marin — Marin Resource Recovery, Marin County Sheriff's Department, and even the guys at the local firehouse — but nobody had a suggestion. Any ideas?

David Demarest
San Anselmo

David — Properly disposing of dated and/or disintegrating flares has long been a problem. Orion, a well-known manufacturer of pyrotechnic distress signals, recommends the following:

1) Donate expired flares to local Coast Guard Auxiliary or Power Squadron for use in training classes.

2) Ignite hand-held signal flares on land in a safe area, much the same as highway flares would be ignited.

3) Contact a local law-enforcement or fire-protection agency for their advice on proper visual distress signal disposal.

4) Retain the flares for backup use to expand signaling time in the event of an emergency.

Orion says you are never to do the following:

1) Jettison visual distress signals overboard.

2) Activate marine flares in a non-emergency situation on or near regulated water.

3) Dispose of flares in household trash.

Since all of Orion's recommended solutions are either non-solutions in California and/or the rest of the states, or are limited, we suspect that many marine flares are at risk of being disposed of illegally and/or in ways that Orion warns against. We have commonly gotten rid of old flares by setting them off in celebratory fashion at the beginning or end of regattas in foreign countries when there clearly was no emergency. Mind you, we're not recommending that anyone else do it.


The latest bit of good gossip/rumor is that Thailand's mandatory AIS rule is being totally disregarded. Why? The maritime official who'd pushed for it was involved in a kickback scheme to install land-based tracking stations. He's allegedly absconded with millions of baht.

By the way, there is an app you can install on iPads — as well as other mobile devices — to use the devices as AIS transponders. I can't substantiate results, but thought it would be of interest.

And Defender is now selling a stand-alone transponder with its own screen and antenna for about $800. I would buy one if I hadn't already bought the Standard Horizon VHF/GPS AIS receiver combo. I find it to be all I really need — except when being mandated by a government to have the transponder, too.

Tom Van Dyke
En Pointe, 31-ft Searunner trimaran
Pangkor, Malaysia

Tom — As far as we're concerned, there are two kinds of terror in the world: the violent kind, with guns and other weapons, and the silent type, meaning corruption, which is perhaps even more corrosive to civilization. While corruption may be practiced more blatantly in the Third World, we believe it's as pervasive and expensive in the United States.

Readers recall that members of Congress and their staffs were the only ones to whom laws against insider trading — i.e. legalized theft — did not apply. After years of just one Republican and just one Democrat trying in vain to stop this outrage, an episode on the television show 60 Minutes so embarrassed members of Congress that they reluctantly passed legislation to prohibit the practice. But only for a short time. About a year later, Congress gutted the legislation via some addendum to unrelated legislation, allowing them to resume their thievery. A pox on the bunch of them.

You know what country is really cracking down on corruption? It's China, ever since Xi Jinping took power as president in 2012. For example, in 2013 alone, Chinese courts convicted and punished 31,000 people for embezzlement, bribery and breach of duty. The convicted people included 'tigers and flies', meaning members of the military and politburo as well as ordinary citizens.

Back to sailing. To our knowledge there is no app that turns a smart device into an AIS transponder. The closest they come are apps that allow owners to use their smart devices to mirror or control their AIS devices via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. There are also smart device apps that allow users to get AIS information, both locally and around the world, but it's receive-only, and you need to be connected to the Internet for it to work.

There are a number of brands of transmit-and-receive AISs in the $650 range sold at places like West Marine and Defender, but they need to be hooked up to a monitor. Stand-alone units with their own screens are in the $800 range.

We at Latitude think AIS receive-only is an incredible safety device, while AIS transmit capability is nice but not as necessary.


I had the great pleasure of crewing on the 2014 Baja Ha-Ha that, minor paperwork issues notwithstanding, was an enjoyable experience start to finish. However, there was an issue beyond the control of the organizers that I'd like to address. Many participants did not display the proper lighting configuration for motorsailing at night. A substantial number of the boats used their sidelights, their masthead light, and their tricolor light simultaneously.

While on watch and scanning the horizon, I occasionally saw a boat on my port side showing green over white over green. I wondered if this was a trawler or an improperly lit vessel motorsailing. On my starboard side there were boats showing red over white over red, the lights of a fishing vessel.

Since I knew there were close to 150 sailboats in the area, and a few of them were visible by moonlight, I assumed the lights were on the Baja Ha-Ha fleet generally going the same direction that I was. I was not lulled into complacency, however, because two recreational vessels heading out to sea on autopilot did cross in front of us during the night while we were the stand-on vessel. They were properly lit but without a lookout. That’s a separate story.

In any case, boats showing their sidelights, their masthead light, and their tricolor light simultaneously are sending the wrong signal.

Dave Allocco
Summer Nights, Capri 22
Phoenix, Arizona

Dave — You are correct about the impropriety and illegality of showing sidelights and a masthead tricolor at the same time, something we have to admit we didn't understand in the first 20 or so years of our sailing. While it's the responsibility of each skipper to show the correct lights, and the Grand Poobah mentioned the matter at least once, he could have done a better job of reminding everyone in the Ha-Ha. He will strive to do better in the future.


To answer the question posed in the December 15 'Lectronic, the folks depicted dumping buckets of water over their heads are Mary McCarthy and Dave Milligan, who were crew on Roy Neyman's Seattle-based CT-41 ketch Mabrouka for the last Ha-Ha. Mabrouka is a lovely vessel.

Craig Russell
Addiction, Newport 30 Mk III

Readers — Since a lot of readers may not understand what's going on in the photos, let us explain. We at Latitude believe that sailing traditions are important as they can create great and lasting memories. For centuries, people who sailed across the equator for the first time had to participate in an initiation rite known as the Crossing the Line Ceremony to commemorate their crossing the equator by vessel for the first time. This initiation is observed by the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marines, the Coast Guard, the Royal Navy, the Russian Navy, the Dutch Merchant Navy, the British Merchant Navy, and many recreational vessels. It's believed that such nonsense boosts morale.

Ceremonies vary widely, but almost always include an appearance by King Neptune. After suitable hazing, which often includes such things as the liberal application of shaving cream, ridiculous costumes, the consumption of raw eggs, and the like, the former pollywogs or griffins are elevated to Shellbacks or Sons of Neptune status.

Since a very small percentage of sailors will ever sail small boats across the equator, we at Latitude thought there needed to be a lesser tradition to signify a somewhat lesser nautical achievement: specifically, the first time people sailed across the Tropic of Taurus. So during the Ha-Ha a few years ago, we created the Crossing of the Tropic of Taurus Ceremony. It's quite simple. At the first suitable opportunity after crossing the Tropic of Taurus, each first-timer is to pull a bucket of tropical water from the sea and 'baptize' him-/herself. In the accompanying photos, both Dave and Mary are seen to be doing an excellent job. They are to be commended.

What's the deal with the 'Tropic of Taurus'? We'll let the folks at astronomy website Mexican Skies explain:

"The Tropic of Cancer, an imaginary line circling the globe at 23.5 degrees north latitude, was given that name because that is where the sun is directly overhead at the moment of the summer solstice on June 22. Some 2,000 years ago, when the line was named, the sun was in the constellation Cancer on that date. Due to precession, the sun is now actually in Taurus on June 22. So far nobody has suggested the line be renamed the Tropic of Taurus."

Mexican Skies should have written that nobody has suggested the line be renamed Tropic of Taurus except for those of us at Latitude 38 and the Baja Ha-Ha. If we're going to have a 'crossing into the tropics for the first time' ceremony, what could be more hip — and curiosity-inducing — than a perplexing name? Thus the dumping of the bucket of tropical water over one's head for first-timers sailing into the tropics is called the 'Crossing the Tropic of Taurus Ceremony'.

We'll be the first to admit that this 'tradition' has been slow to catch on. But we're patient. Besides, we think we can instantly goose the popularity of the tradition by offering free CTTC t-shirts to those who provide photographic proof that they complied with the baptism during next fall's Baja Ha-Ha. You can't believe what people will do for free commemorative t-shirts.

Two Fun Facts: The Tropic of Cancer (Taurus) moves a little bit each year, and the progression is marked by signs on major Mexican highways. Fun Fact Two: It's now more properly the Tropic of Sagittarius, not the Tropic of Capricorn.


In her January letter titled 'What's in a Boat Name, White Man?', Ms. Tepper refers to the University of Miami changing its mascot name some 20 years ago to something less insulting to our red brethren. She's confused, for the change from Redskins to Redhawks was made by zealots at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, not by the University of Miami (Hurricanes) in Florida.

Miami University officials consulted the elders of the Miami Tribe before the change was enacted. The elders universally declared that the change would be an unwelcome slight on their proud tradition in Southern Ohio, and that they considered the mascot name an honor and certainly not disrespectful. (The Tribe's forebears had greeted George Washington when he surveyed the area long before becoming our first President.)

Despite the wishes of the elders of the Miami tribe, Miami University made the change in mascot names. From that day onward, when fundraisers have called me for my annual alumni donation, I cheerfully respond that I will send a check as soon as the mascot name reverts to the original.

Dan Robson
Pelican, Dyer 40


I read the January Racing Sheet article about a collision and protest that occurred in a race on San Francisco Bay in December, and didn't think it was egregious — meaning the article, not the collision. Granted, I've done a lot of racing, so to my mind the fact that one party files a protest doesn't mean that the other party is guilty or admitting fault if they don't file a protest, too. I'm guessing that most racers understand that, too. I'm not sure how non-racers would interpret it.

Bill Lily
Moonshadow, Lagoon 470
Newport Beach / Mexico

Bill — We apologized for the article's not being clearer because we believe that many non-racers would get the misimpression that not filing a counter protest would be an admission of guilt.

Apparently the protest hearing was delayed numerous times because of the holidays and other reasons, and it was postponed again when, just as the hearing was to begin, a member of the committee was informed his house was in the process of being burglarized.
(See our clarification for this protest at 'Lectronic Latitude here.)


It wasn't until late December that I got around to reading the December issue — including the letter from the gentleman who complained about the Ha-Ha. I was appalled by his complaints.

I’ve only done one Ha-Ha, which was on the Celestial 48 Tamara Lee Ann in 2012. I had to read the complainer's letter twice, as I had a hard time putting the boat in the same cruiser rally that I had enjoyed. Eventually it dawned on me that the author is a curmudgeon. By definition, curmudgeons are not happy people.

The editor's response was inspired. In fact, it’s not often that I get to read something like that. Whether Capt. Curmudgeon realizes it or not, he was filleted in your pages and left to bleed out. It wasn’t death by a thousand cuts, but rather 25 or so knife pricks inflicted by a very sharp knife. I may cut out the offending letter along with your response and hold it until a time when I need a long, low chuckle.

Capt. Ron Landmann

Capt. Ron — We agree that the gentleman's expectations were out of line, but it did give us an opportunity to clarify Ha-Ha expectations and the culture of the event. So in that respect, we welcomed his letter. But don't worry about the Poobah as, following the Ha-Ha, he's received countless compliments about adapting to the unusual situation in last year's event.

It was not our intent to 'knife' or belittle anyone, but having put in as much effort as the Poobah had in difficult circumstances, we wanted to make sure his point of view was presented forcefully.

The way you signed your status — "Sail/Power/Steam" — provides us with an opportunity for some offsetting levity. A few years ago we bought a motorcycle in St. Barth from our longtime French friend 'Big Yves' who, because he empties septic tanks, is sometimes described as "the most important person on the island." Anyway, we picked up the Spanish-built bike at the guesthouse of the La Vie En Rose villa, which is where Yves and his wife Veronique, who manages the estate, reside. So we were given the tour.

After a brief meeting with the effusive owners, who were in residence, and who despite speaking even less English than we speak French, insisted we come stay with them for a week at their estate in Aix-en-Provence, Veronique gave us the walking tour of the grounds and pool area.

When we asked what type of person pays $40,000 a week to rent a place like that, Veronique named an actor who is famous for having played James Bond several times. "He rented the place just two hours before he and his entourage arrived. There was the actor, another guy, another guy, another guy and a little girl. They were all very nice."

"You mean to tell us that the actor who played Bond is gay?" we asked in surprise.

"I don't know for sure," Veronique replied, "but we French have a saying that translates to something like, 'He uses both sail and steam.' So you may want to be careful how you identify yourself.


Congrats on Profligate's giant new hardtop. I see that there isn't much space between the boom and the back of the hardtop, so I'm thinking you might have some clearance issues when/if you are going to install some solar panels. Unless, of course, you install some thin ones.

I bought two of the Solbian panels, which are about 1/16-inch thick and weigh less than 5 lbs. They are highly efficient monocrystalline panels and kick ass. We love them! The mono panels are more expensive, but we think they are worth it. We move ours around on the boat, and they are so much easier to deal with than the heavy-assed solar panels.

I got our panels from Bruce Schwab, the longtime East Bay rigger who won the 1996 Singlehanded TransPac in Rumbleseat before finishing the 2002-3 Around Alone and the 2004-5 Vendee Globe with his Tom Wylie-designed OceanPlanet. He lives in Bath, Maine now, but he's a great guy and was very helpful. He has some less-expensive polycrystalline solar panels as well.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to whine about the television coverage of the Volvo Ocean Race. The shows have been pathetic wastes of time. Some of the stuff that's been bad: 1) It's hard to understand the basic facts; 2) The coverage is disorienting; and 3) The camera work is shaky. It's hard to believe that any organization is paying money for such poor coverage.

Devan Mullin
Points Beyond, Shannon 38
Newport Beach

Readers — As long as the solar panels aren't close to the centerline on Profligate's hardtop, there isn't a clearance issue. We already have several solar panels on Profligate and intend to add more. While we can't live off-the-grid at this point in our lives, we love the concept.

Unfortunately, there are many decisions to be made when deciding what kind of solar panels are needed on a cruising boat, and how many, and how to manage the power. Getting expert advice is usually a good investment.

As for the Volvo coverage, we think Stan Honey and his team for the 34th America's Cup set the bar too high for those in their wake.


It's a little late, but I want to point out a couple of errors in your November 2014 issue, neither of which was your fault.

You have a photo in which the caption says that Aspara is on top of Dorikam, but it's actually the opposite. My lovely Aspara is the one on the bottom and Dorikam on top. This took place on the Magote in La Paz during Hurricane Odile. It breaks my heart.
After the purchase of another boat, Aspara was reluctantly placed for sale. A person, who shall remain unnamed, was paid to look after Aspara while I crewed on another boat on a trip to Alaska. A late departure from Alaska left me fighting southerlies, and I was unable to return to La Paz in time to deal with the issue. We finally made San Francisco, and I plan to fly to La Paz from here.

I want to thank Jordan of Sea Witch, a great guy, for stripping Aspara of her valuables and saving them for me. Jordan helped many others in their time of need, too. Anyone in need of parts for a Roughwater 33, or similar boat, is welcome to contact me.

Russ Morgan

Russ — We're sorry to hear about your loss, but think it's important that everybody understand that leaving one's boat in somebody else's charge doesn't always work out.

About 25 years ago a young Brit in Antigua told us he absolutely, positively wanted to spend the off-season in Antigua, and very much wanted the job of staying on and watching over our Ocean 71 Big O. We warned him that English Harbor became all but a ghost town after Antigua Sailing Week, and that he could look forward to six months of humidity and rain. We were told not to worry, as he dearly wanted the opportunity to get some big-boat experience on his resume. He had some decent references, too.

About three weeks later, we got a call from him. He casually mentioned that he was 150 miles east of Antigua, at which point he seemed to forget why he called us. He remembered when we reminded him of his promise to watch over our boat. He insisted that he was sorry, but "everybody" had left, it had gotten hot, and he kind of missed his ex-girlfriend back in Old Blighty.

When we asked if he thought he perhaps should have informed us of his abrupt change in plans before leaving, he told us not to worry because the good news was that he'd found another brilliant young Brit to watch over our boat. Chills ran down our spine when he told us, "You have nothing to worry about."

Sure enough, the "brilliant and reliable" friend lasted only a couple a weeks before he, too, left without bothering to inform us. This happened at the same time we had a disc problem that required surgery. The result was that Big O spent most of the hurricane season floating unattended and as vulnerable as could be in Falmouth Harbor. We were later told that nobody would go near her, fearing she was full of drugs or that there was some other reason to stay well clear of her.

Even in the cases where we've paid people to watch over Profligate in a marina we've had mixed results. For example, assurances that her engines would be run for at least 15 minutes each week were routinely ignored, and promises that our boat would not be the site of parties were forgotten. Fortunately, our most serious loss was some of our faith in humanity.

This is not to say that there aren't individuals — we had one last year — who are true to their promises of being responsible. But when hiring or arranging for someone to watch over your boat in your absence, particularly if she's to be anchored out, it's good to have an independent party verify that what's been agreed to is actually being done. All too often, out of sight is out of mind.


For Christmas, I got one of the inflatable LED Luci lights mentioned in the January 12 'Lectronic. It truly is amazing, but I need two more — one for my ditch bag and another for my liferaft canister.

On the broader subject of LED lights, I think Lunasea has by far the best selection, and most are rated for 12-30 volts. I replaced all the bulbs with theirs on my old Swan 51, which is a 24-volt boat, including those pesky festoon bulbs in the old two-way (white/red) dome lights. From another source I even tracked down a tiny single-LED bulb that fit under the windvane dome.

Lunasea also carries a full range of bulbs for the running lights. Svendsen and San Diego Marine Exchange carry Lunasea bulbs at reasonable prices.

Lou Freeman
Seabird, Swan 51
San Diego


Nice write-up on the Luci LED lights. Just so you know, they are also available at one of your longtime advertisers, West Marine, for $14.99. LED lighting gets better every year, with powerful LED spotlights, multiple versions of small, powerful long lasting flashlights, halogen replacement bulbs, and so on.

I enjoy 'Lectronic, one of the few e-newsletters I always read. I'm glad to see that the publisher is still out there having a blast sailing and writing about it.

Our Wylie 65 Convergence has been resting at a marina in Corfu for the winter. We cruised her in Croatia last summer and will be heading to Sicily and points beyond this summer.

Randy Repass
Convergence, Wylie 65
Santa Cruz

Readers — Randy is, of course, the founder of West Marine. We're glad to see that he and Sally-Christine are still having a blast sailing, too — and that Randy is still keeping an eye on the business.


After reading your recent report on the Luci LED lights, I came to the realization that they could make great running lights, as they come in red and green as well as white. It would be pretty simple to set up some sort of charging holder on deck. Have you heard of anything like this being done? Has your experience with them been good enough for that application?

John McNeill
San Francisco

John — No, no, dear God no! The Luci LED lights would be horrible for running lights. They are bulky when inflated and would blow all around, putting their only modestly strong handle at risk. An even bigger defect is they wouldn't show themselves in a very specific range of degrees off the bow, which is necessary to meet legal and safety requirements.

But no worries, as there are all kinds of LED lights made specifically to be running lights. The last one we bought was a lovely stainless one for our Olson 30 La Gamelle, and it only cost $22. It had a one-mile range, making it legal for all boats under 65-ft. But it did require 12-volt power. Solar lights are not suitable for running lights as they are likely not to work after a few hours.


Regarding 'pink vs blue' crew assignments, most of the long-distance sailing I’ve done has been as part of a small crew, usually three or four people in all. We didn't have the luxury of having a designated cook/swab aboard, so everyone did everything. But I will admit that when it came to serious engine/systems issues, it usually was a male who ministered to the affected item.

That said, it can be useful to be comparatively short/small. I'm about 5’5”, so not only do I have standing headroom on most boats, but my weight hasn’t been a major load on a halyard or for the person grinding when I needed to go aloft.

The first time I went up was a few decades ago, and it was up the 50-ft or so mast of a Swan 43 at the Berkeley Marina. I didn’t go to the masthead, as I just had to retape a shroud/spreader junction. Being big-time acrophobic, I was shaking so hard that it must have felt like a Richter 5 temblor down on deck.

My most recent ascent was on an Alberg 35 in Neah Bay, Washington. I was at the masthead, about 44 feet above deck, to tighten a masthead light connection. The effect of having weight at the far end of the lever on this smallish boat required small, gradual movements to minimize rolling and heeling. But the view was great!

Tips? Start with a sufficiently long halyard tail so that the person tending it has a good amount of line to hold. Have a grinder you can trust, and communicate clearly — especially when you’re negotiating your way around shrouds and spreaders. And attach tools with small stuff so you don’t drop them.

Jean Ouellette
San Francisco

Jean — We may be wrong, but sense that pink and blue jobs on boats are more the rule than the exception.


I don't see what the big deal is about one's gender and going up the mast, out on the pole, diving on the keel — or anything else for that matter. It's more about whether a person as crew is willing to do it.

In my 25,000+ miles of ocean racing/sailing, there were plenty of men who wanted nothing to do with strapping on the climbing harness and going aloft. With a crew of 18, most of them men, on a 68-footer, I was one of only three people, all women, who were willing to be mast monkey/kite spiker when at sea.

The highest mast I ever climbed was 100 feet, but the roughest climb was aboard the Beneteau 411 Bequia in the 2012 Pacific Cup in 25 knots of wind and moderate seas with a series of fast-approaching squalls. I carry my own Petzl climbing harness, as I do not trust the ancient bosun's chair that is usually dug out from the dark/damp recesses of any given boat. I tie my own knots. I use a safety line. And I select who will be at the helm and who will be at the end of my halyards.

On long ocean races, going up the mast or out the pole is the only way to find some solitude!

Shana Bagley
Walnut Creek


We once sent Mary Compton to the top of the 105-ft-tall mast on her husband Dick's Andrews 77 Alchemy. She did a great job cleaning the mast with a white t-shirt.

Mark Coleman
Wainui, Cal 48


In all the sailing venues that Latitude has been you only know a few females that have gone aloft?!

I have been up the mast many times. If my husband was up there, he would be worried about my dropping him, and I would be calling out all the places that needed inspection and just bugging him in general. I trust him to keep me safe and he trusts me to do the work. I put up the lazy jacks, halyards, new wind indicator, antenna and so forth. We do need a new masthead light, which is going to be hard because that's at the very top of the mast.

To be fair, it is my boat and I have had the mast down twice, so I'm pretty familiar with her. And the mast isn't very tall. And no, I wasn't wearing a pirate outfit.

I also feel it's my responsibility to do the oil changes, fuel filters, and transmission oil. Why should I make him do that? When I get really frustrated with seized parts, stubborn hoses, and the like, my husband helps me and I do appreciate it. Neither one of us cleans the bottom much. We hire somebody to do it.

It did upset some Mexican boatyard guys to see me with the wrench and my husband with the vacuum cleaner. It doesn't fit with their world view.

Anyway, to each his/her own. Whatever it takes to keep boats out on the high seas.

Name Withheld By Request
Still in Mexico After the 2006 Ha-Ha

N.W.B.R. — Sailors and others doing jobs outside their traditional roles can really confuse workers in Mexico and other Third World countries. Generally speaking, you are a laborer, supervisor or owner. Supervisors and (boat)owners are not expected to do manual labor. It can be upsetting to laborers when this tradition is not adhered to.


I love going high! On calm days it's fun to go aloft. On windy days, when the boat is really moving, it's exhilarating. The views are great and it's great exercise, too.
I wear my Metolius climbing harness, in addition to our new and very comfortable padded bosun's chair, when going up the mast. The climbing harness makes me feel more secure, especially if I'm doing something at the top of the mast. By the way, the owners of the company that makes the Metolius harness are cruisers who did the Puddle Jump last spring.

My husband John and I are both climbers, so we're both comfortable going aloft. We hoist a 5:1 block & tackle system up the main halyard, which reduces the pull to about 25 pounds. Then we use a jumar on the haul line to stop anywhere we need to work. For a quicker way up, the person at the bottom can pull and help with the hoist. It's a good workout for the arms.

Regarding blue and pink jobs, we have blue and green designations instead. John does most of the blue (boat) jobs and I do the green (money/work) jobs. We share the pink jobs and I help with the blue jobs when I can and when it makes sense — such as contorting my body into small engine area spaces and doing electrical work where having small hands is beneficial.

Cyn McDaniel
Alcyone, Ericson 35 Mk3
Currently in Mexico"


I'm a woman and I go aloft on the 65-ft mast of our Swan 41. Not to boast, but I may be one of the older women who goes aloft. For a few months now, I've been able to tap into retirement funds without penalty.

I went up the mast twice last year, with my husband Rod doing the grinding. I help Rod by pulling and pushing myself up wherever I can get a hold of something. I use a Spinlock climbing harness, which I prefer over a bosun’s chair.

Earlier this year we were on our way from Majuro in the Marshall Islands to Funafuti, Tuvalu when a sudden loud bang came from the forestay area. It turned out that the forestay was still intact, but the genoa was no longer connected to the halyard. After lowering the genoa, we found that the shackle connecting it to the roller furler had broken. This was rather disappointing, since the roller furler is only two years old. If we'd been farther offshore, Rod would have had to go aloft while we were at sea. But we made our way to Funafuti under main only and with some help from the engine. Once in the anchorage we had to retrieve the upper part of the roller furler, an easy task. When I asked Rod if I could do the job, he said, "Of course." All I needed to do was to connect a line to the furler, so we could pull it down. So, up I went. While aloft, I took some photos and enjoyed the beautiful view. Piece of cake!

My second occasion to go up the mast last year arose when we were preparing our boat for going into a pit at Vuda Marina, Viti Levu, Fiji for cyclone season. The wind instrument had to come down, so again I volunteered to be hauled up. Camera in pocket, up I went.

I really enjoy going aloft — although I confess I haven't tried it while underway when the boat is really moving around.

I've also used an ATN Mast Climber to get to the second spreader to install some lazy jacks. But since going down is as much work with the ATN as is going up, I don't use it to go to the top of the mast. As I write this, I am promising myself to do just that to get the wind instrument back up when we return to our boat in March next year.

Elisabeth Lehmberg
Proximity, Swan 41


I don’t know if you want secondhand stories about women who go up, but since I lost contact with the woman involved years ago, I’ll tell it anyway.

Back in the 1980s I learned to sail from Charlie Kern, an older guy who owned Valiant, US 24, a 12 Meter that had been built for the 1970 America's Cup. Most of the sailing we did was between Los Angeles Harbor and Catalina on weekends.
Charlie enjoyed taking lots of folks sailing because the boat needed a lot of crew. And he enjoyed taking people who would be sailing for the first time. One time Patty, one of the regular crew, brought a never-been-sailing-before boyfriend along. While lowering the sails at Catalina, he lost his grip and the mainsail halyard went to the top.

Since Patty had invited the one who let the halyard go, and since she was also the lightest person aboard, we sent her up the mast. As I recall, the mast was 85 feet tall, and Valiant being a monohull, she was rolling in the anchorage. Patty didn't have a good time going aloft, but she got the job done.

Valiant had big winches for the headsails and there was a two-person grinder, so hoisting Patty was the easiest ever. I'm sure she weighed less than the main.

Doug Ford
ex-Valiant Crew

Readers — We love the stories of women who go aloft . . . and sometimes go down, too. They deserve the attention, so you can look forward to them in future issues.


There haven’t been a lot of big success stories in the American sailboat building industry in the last 20 years, but I certainly think that Peter Johnstone’s Gunboat International qualifies. I get regular newsletters from the company and couldn’t help being impressed by information in the most recent. Among other things, it reported:

1) That both Cruising World and Sailing World named the new Gunboat 55 catamaran their Boat of the Year, and that 15 of the cats have already been sold.
2) That they have received orders for a new Gunboat 64 and Gunboat 70, both of which will also be built at Gunboat’s relatively new plant at Wanchese, North Carolina. (Previous Gunboats were built in South Africa and China.)
3) That the first Gunboat G4, Yachts and Yachting’s 2015 Performance Boat of the Year, is slated to sail in Antigua Sailing Week in late April. This is described as “a new multipurpose 40-ft coastal cruiser-racer.” In that initial brief they didn’t mention that the cat, which displaces a mere 6,000 lbs, is designed and built to foil!

I’m not pimping Gunboats and could never dream of affording one, but I love American success stories, particularly American sailing success stories, and I think this is one of them. As a monohull sailor, however, I wonder if these performance cats might be too performance-oriented for some. This concern comes from reading the following line in the latest newsletter:

“An updated salon and skyscraping Hall rig are the highlights of a major refit performed in the Gunboat 62 Tribe by Newport Shipyard. With her new Doyle sails, she will be a force to be reckoned with. As the older Gunboats are powered up with larger sails and taller masts to keep pace with their newer sisters, we urge caution and safety to all this Caribbean season. When racing, always keep hands on the sheets!”

“Always keep hands on the sheets.” Yikes! The newsletter went on to report that up to 10 Gunboats are expected to participate in “three of the Caribbean’s best events, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, Les Voiles de St. Barth, and Antigua Sailing Week.” I think it’s pretty exciting in more ways than one.

Thomas Fuller
Currently Boatless and Traveling in Asia
Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Thomas — We agree that Johnstone and Gunboat deserve a big shout-out for what they’ve done in the last 15 years. It started when the Johnstone family, disappointed with the lack of comfort in cruising a sled in the windy winter Caribbean, prompted Dad to come up with a better solution. Unlike a lot of companies, Gunboat has continued to innovate over the years, as the new 55, and particularly the new G4, are entirely different beasts than the original 62. And yeah, we think it’s really great that they are being built in the US.

And it’s not as if the Gunboats are inexpensive. During a discussion of cats on Facebook with Johnstone, we asked him what the new 55s sell for. Johnstone, who was nice enough to take a moment to compliment multihull designer Chris White and say kind things about Latitude’s Profligate, reported the base price of a 55 was $1.9 million, and true sailaway was $2.1 million. They'd sold 15 of them by the time the first one was launched. Very, very impressive. (By the way, anyone who wants to eavesdrop on the Facebook chatter between Johnstone and the publisher of Latitude is welcome to 'friend' Richard Spindler.)

As for the 'always have hands on sheets' caution, we presume it's in part a result of a near capsize of a Gunboat 66 in last year’s windy Voiles de St. Barth, the one in which Steve Schmidt’s short-masted Santa Cruz 70 hit 22+ knots under white sails alone. As evidenced by the fact that we own a big cat, we think they are safe. But performance-oriented cats, no matter the size, demand continual respect.



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