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July 2015

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Harking back to the Wanderer's May issue article on cone clutches in Yanmar saildrives, and the 27mm nut conundrum, I thought I'd mention a somewhat similar problem that I had on my boat.

My Beneteau 343, like many similar boats, has a US Spars mainsail furling system. My furler was leaving four inches of mainsail, in addition to the protective cover, outside the mast, so there was some deterioration of the stitching. Hoping to solve the problem, I gingerly started to remove the drum/spindle, removing the four machine bolts that hold the housing and spindle. Realizing that I would not be able to make adjustments without removing the sail and spindle as per online instructions, I replaced the housing and spindle. The big problem arose when attempting to rethread the machine bolts back into their respective nut assemblies, which are inside the mast. Tink! and Tink! From the minimal pressure of starting the bolts, the nut assemblies had fallen to the base of the mast!

I called US Spars and was told that the nut assemblies are just held in place with "Sikaflex or other caulking." Imagine how effective that caulking is after a couple of years' exposure to heat and cold. Anyway, I read over US Spars' literature several times, along with other online resources, and not once was there any warning to the effect of "Be extremely cautious in replacing the bolts, as you could send their nuts to the base of the mast."

At least in the case of Yanmar's cone clutch instructions there was mention of tightening the nut after replacing the cone clutch assembly, even though it was out of order. Had US Spars done something similar, it would have saved me a long day of difficult work, not the least of which is hoping that I can fish the nuts out from the mast base. Of course, the real resolution is either to have the nut assemblies pressed into the mast, or at least have the nut assemblies secured with a tiny flathead machine screw.

Anyway, thanks for the fine article — maybe that will prompt others to write stories of nightmares that could have been avoided by a simple fix.

Jerry Klatt
Ramblin' Rose, Beneteau 343
San Francisco Bay


I really enjoyed the May issue detail on the saildrive cone clutch rebuild the Wanderer and his friends did on Profligate.

Just so everyone knows, many of those saildrives are reaching an age where major work will be needed. Quite a few years ago we had to do a major repair on Pendragon 4's saildrive, as the rubber seals were over 90% wasted. It would have been catastrophic if they'd failed, as that would have left a 12-inch hole in the bottom. I don’t think most owners of boats with saildrives are aware how the double seals age, and that it's almost impossible to inspect the outside seal.

Mike Priest
Marina del Rey


The Wanderer's May issue report on fixing the cone clutch on his Yanmar saildrive, and his maintaining his sense of humor about it, was fantastic. My suggestion would have been to make it 'gut und tight' like a German virgin.

Hans Roeben
Helgoland, Baba 35
Corinthian YC

Hans — We don't think we've ever heard the expression "gut und tight like a German virgin". We not only don't know what it means, we don't know for sure what you're referring to. Perhaps the torque on the 27mm nut when putting the cone clutch back into the transmission.

But here is something that further adds salt to our frustration wounds. Our old sailing friend Peter Caras of the San Juan Islands sent us a Yanmar PDF titled 'Draft SD Cone Repair', a document that gives detailed instructions on how to effect the repair we wanted to make. Instructions that would have saved us days of work and frustration. The original document was created in 2009. The version Caras sent us was revised as of January 2014 — although it still has blank boxes where photos were intended to be added.

But here's the killer. Nobody we know of but Caras has ever seen the document. All the boatowners who discuss the subject on Google have obviously never seen it. Our Yanmar dealer hadn't seen it. When we discussed the problem with more than one Yanmar distributor, they never mentioned it either. All they could refer us to was the SD 50 Operation Manual, which was of minor value.

If you Google,'Yanmar SD50 cone clutch repair', which we did many times, the third or so result is from Yanmar for the above-mentioned SD40/SD50 Operation Manual.

But if you Google ‘SD 50 Draft Cone Repair’, you get the Yanmar PDF that tells you in detail how to make the repair. Thanks to either Yanmar or Google, including the word ‘clutch’ in the search prevents you from getting the PDF document you really need. A little crazy, no?

If you have a Yanmar saildrive, we highly recommend that you download the correct PDF and keep it on hand. If you have it, you know the exact torque needed on the 27mm nut, as opposed to having to guess by tightening it "like a German virgin."


Dennis Ross provided generally good advice regarding marine surveyors in his June letter to Latitude, but I take exception to one of his suggestions: ". . . one should ask the yacht broker whom they would least like to have conduct the survey — as those surveyors tend to be the most detail-oriented."

If that's the case, the buyer has the wrong broker! The broker has a legal and ethical obligation to look after the best interests of the client(s). One of the best ways of accomplishing that is to ensure the survey process is as thorough as possible so that both buyer and seller have a realistic view of what they're dealing with. Undiscovered defects, especially those relating to the vessel's seaworthiness, can come back to haunt all concerned. Satisfied clients and a good reputation are much more important than a commission.

In California, where yacht brokers have been licensed and bonded since the 1960s, it is unethical for the broker to recommend a surveyor. But in years past, before the arrival of SAMS and NAMS, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend against a surveyor if, in my opinion, s/he was unreliable or of bad reputation. I can remember one who was commonly referred to as "Blind Lloyd." Fortunately, he has long since been driven from the profession.

Don Durant
President, Club Nautique
Merchant Marine Master #98397
CA Yacht & Ship Broker #B-2819

Readers — Yacht brokers tend to come and go, but for what it's worth, Don Durant has been a yacht broker since at least the early 1970s.


You had your presidential candidate bimbos mixed up in your reply to a June letter. Donna Rice, not Gennifer Flowers, was Gary Hart's bimbo on the yacht Monkey Business. Gennifer Flowers was Clinton's bimbo. But I know, it's hard to keep them straight.

John Tysell
Kindred Spirit, Peterson One-Ton

John — It's not only hard to keep them straight, it's hard to remember them all. We even forgot about Rielle Hunter, bimbo, spiritual guide and babymomma for John Edwards. Bimbos have a surprising amount of influence on politics, if not world history. Just think, if it weren't for Rielle, the United States might not have had an African-American president.


As a former news reporter, for many years I have admired the writing in Latitude 38. As the Wanderer has stated himself, he is an old hand at editing, and the stories and contributions read well and easily. The copy is very well proofed, too: better than 99% of all publications out there. Because of this I am dismayed to see in your magazine a rapidly increasing adoption of the trendy stylistic techniques used in 'new media'.

As you know, Al Neuharth pioneered the use of grammatically incorrect language in 'news' reporting with USA Today, substituting semicolons for verbs and so on. Nowadays, our 'news' media is mostly utter garbage, with most headlines posing a question such as "Should You Be Concerned About XYZ?" instead of actually reporting on XYZ. Other examples are 'Top Ten' lists, compiled by interns scouring the Internet for existing content to be repackaged, and random individuals' tweets being reported as news on CNN.

In recent editions of Latitude and 'Lectronic, we have had "11 Things We Learned at the Voiles." Did you think that we readers wouldn't read it if it were "Report from the Voiles" or similar? And most recently, an article on Rimas Meleshyus that, apart from appearing to be unnecessary piling on, consisted mostly of summaries of Facebook posts by individuals unknown. Sorry, but that was a waste of space.

Please eschew the slow, relentless drive to dumb down journalism. Your voice and perspective are completely unique in sailing; you don't need to follow the (mostly 20-something) herd as it jettisons actual reporting, grammar, complete sentences and other hoary elements of good writing, in favor of "Things We Learned . . ." and compiling social media posts. Maybe the editors at TMZ or even CNN are right to produce ersatz news, but your long-standing and loyal readership is accustomed to the real thing.

Nick Tonkin
True Friend, Catalina 36
Santa Barbara

Nick — We have to disagree with both of your examples, and thus your thesis. As we recall, the record number of pages we've ever done for any one story was 14 pages for one of the Pan Am Clipper Cup Series back in the 1980s. Had we the time and space, we could have and would have liked to do the same for the Voiles. But publishing economics being what they are these days, we had to say everything we could in just 4½ pages, and 4½ pages rightly dominated by photographs. The "11 Things We Learned" format was the best way to cram the maximum amount of information into the least amount of space. Besides, "Report from the Voiles" wouldn't have been the most interesting title.

As for the update on Rimas, we thought the summary and quotes as mostly found on Facebook told the story and presented differing opinions quite well. Had we been able to contact Rimas in a timely fashion, and understand him, we might have done a little more, but we don't think much more could have been added.

As for proofreading, thanks for the kind words. It's difficult with such a small staff, and we wish we could do even better.


I really enjoyed your May 27th 'Lectronic on Rimas Meleshyus and his attempts at "sailing records" with his San Juan 24 Pier Pressure. I feel as though most of the professional media have been very generous with their appraisal of Rimas' voyage, so it's refreshing to read something more critical. I'm all for adventure and taking action toward achieving one's dreams, but in my opinion Rimas is a danger to himself and others. Thanks for spelling it out to your readership.

Chip Hitchens
Fortuitous, Catalina 27
Mt. Laurel, New Jersey

Readers — There were two major points in the May 27 'Lectronic. The first was that even some of Rimas' biggest supporters were critical of the poor way in which he took care of his boat and gear, and his seeming inability — or lack of interest — in fixing even the most basic things. The second was Rimas' apparent desire to replace his San Juan 24 with a boat more suitable for long-distance ocean sailing, such as a Contessa 26. For whatever reason, that idea has been, at least temporarily, withdrawn.


I have enjoyed Latitude's multiple updates on the TIP (Temporary Import Permit) situation in Mexico. Maybe you can help me. I have a 1967 fishing boat that I take into Mexican coastal waters multiple times each year. The vessel is documented through the US Coast Guard, but she was built about 15 years before boats were given hull identification numbers (HINs). It appears that without an HIN, I can't comply with the rules and necessary paperwork.

I read on a cruiser forum that the Coast Guard can issue an HIN, but that it takes six months to a year. I don't want to wait that long, but I don't want my boat to be impounded either. Any advice would greatly be appreciated. My home port is San Diego and the tuna are calling me.

Craig Randle
Tuf Life, 37-ft Cruizon w/twin Cummins diesels
San Diego

Craig — Lack of HIN numbers on boats built before the early 1980s created a lot of problems for Americans with boats in Mexico two years ago. Mexican officials eventually came to understand that older US-built boats, and many modern foreign boats, were never given such numbers. TIP application forms have been changed so boatowners can use the boat's US documentation number instead.

Absolutely make sure you get a TIP, because what irks Mexican officials more than anything is a US fishing boat coming to Mexico and taking a bunch of their fish without even paying $50 for a TIP. It's easy to get your TIP online.

Because it's so important, we're going to bring up an unrelated TIP issue. If you recently bought a boat or are thinking of buying a boat that has been to Mexico, make absolutely sure that her TIP, if she had one, has been canceled. TIPs go with the owner as well as the boat, so if she already has one, you can't get a new one until the old one has been canceled. The same thing pertains to buying a boat whose 10-year TIP may have expired or is about to expire. Make sure it gets canceled before you take her to Mexico or attempt to get a new TIP.


I agree with Latitude, as usual, in your response to Ryan Greenspan, who is planning to take his Catalina 27 to Cabo before donating her to locals. But I have a few suggestions for him or others in similar circumstances. There's what we need, what's valuable, what's worthwhile, and what we want. We end up where our knowledge, effort and budget put us, but priorities do matter. My suggestions:

1) Safety is paramount, so I would add a second bilge pump system entirely separate from the presumably ancient one already aboard. Greenspan can afford this if he installs it himself.

2) On an uncored hull — remember them? — such as the Catalina 27, it's not necessary to haul the boat in order to install a depthsounder. The transducer sits in a cup of oil bonded to the hull, and the signal beams through just fine without a hole. There are magazine articles, from years ago, with detailed instructions on how to do this. My Islander 36's fishfinder is installed this way. It 'sees' fish down to 200 feet.

3) Greenspan can get a VHF with a primitive — but potentially lifesaving — AIS display for a small cost premium over a non-AIS VHF.

4) If he gets solar panels, he should get an MPPT regulator, not a PWM regulator.

5) Small — a few hundred watts — pure-sine inverters are now available from Victron and others at a very reasonable cost. But Greenspan would need some 120-volt source to charge his iPad.

6) I hate gasoline on boats, but if Greenspan gets a gas generator, he should also get a high-current 120-volt AC battery charger with current matched to the house battery bank (~ 25% of capacity for flooded batteries) to shorten running time. And a couple more fire extinguishers.

7) If the Catalina 27 has a fridge, he should insulate the hell out of it. After insulating the heck out of the outside of my fridge, I did the same inside with 1½-inch closed-cell foam. It made a huge improvement in efficiency.

8) He should install LED running and anchor lights. In the end he'll save money in energy savings.

9) He might want an external regulator on his alternator to save fuel.

10) Greenspan doesn't say if he has an autopilot, but in that boat — like many others — he should be prepared with enough crew and coffee, for it's likely to be useless in the following seas he's likely to have when heading south.

I absolutely agree with Latitude about donating the proceeds of the sale of the boat, not the boat itself. In view of his charitable intentions, however, I will offer Mr. Greenspan a modest amount of more specific advice at no charge, along with a beta version of an Excel spreadsheet to help him calculate his energy budget. He can contact me via

Michael Daley
Redwood Coast Marine Electrical,

Michael — We particularly like your suggestion of a VHF with AIS.

For what it's worth, Ryan and a couple of friends headed south with the Catalina 27. Because the propeller fell off and because of big waves, they decided to call it quits at Turtle Bay, where they donated the boat to locals. Our son Nick, who years ago was a roommate of Ryan's, got this report second-hand and passed it along.


I'm writing this letter to request help from your publication. For the past several years, I have rebuilt a 1973 Coronado 27 sailboat. During the time I rebuilt this beautiful sailboat, every neighbor on my dock would laugh and degrade my work and my boat. My Coronado would be called every derogatory name on the planet.

I spent $30,000 plus on parts, tools and such. I also spent over 1,000 hours refurnishing her, along with trips around the Bay getting parts. For the past three years I have been stationed overseas in Korea, meaning that I could only return to work on my boat and finish her on breaks, which would also require me to pay for plane rides, hotels, car rentals, food, etc., which also cost me a great deal of money.

Having finished about 80% of a complete rebuild on the boat, I placed an ad on Craigslist to sell her for $25,000. I feel it's a reasonable amount of money considering the time and money I've invested. In response, I have received the most brutal and vicious responses from members of the San Francisco Bay sailing community. My boat and I have been called everything. The quote that's been used the most is that I've been "putting lipstick on a pig." Everyone is passing around my 'for sale' flier and laughing. The vitriol and hate that I have received with regard to the Coronado brand has been astounding to me.

I have taken down my ad in disgust. I am writing this letter to ask Latitude to possibly do a story on my boat or the Coronado brand in general. I believe my boat is a very good brand and she sails like a champ. I have had many responses that state how well-known sailors have all written horrible reviews of this brand. I would like to set the record straight with Latitude's help.

I sacrifice every day to help keep our country safe by being stationed on an overseas frontline base, and am in complete disgust at the way those in the San Francisco Bay sailing community have acted toward myself and my beautiful boat. I really would like to educate those 'sailing experts' with an article that shows how someone's hard work, money and sacrifice can produce a gem that outshines their hate.

Robert Mowery
Coronado 27
San Francisco

Robert — Let's be clear about a couple of things. First, it's uncouth for one sailor to make nasty remarks about another sailor's boat. It's akin to telling him that his wife or girlfriend is ugly. So shame on them. Secondly, while your service in the Armed Forces is admirable, it's irrelevant to the market value of your boat and the reputation of Coronado sailboats.

Restoring anything, no matter if it's a house, a car, a motorcycle — or especially a boat — is a tricky business. You have to be able to buy whatever it is that you're going to restore dirt cheap, and you have to keep restoration costs and labor to a minimum. It's also important that there be a good market for the item when the restoration is complete.

The bad news is that amateur attempts to restore boats — as well as cars and motorcycles — almost invariably result in a considerable loss of the owner's time and money. Don't feel too bad, because it happens to pros lots of times, too.

By the way, advertising a boat as being "80% restored" is often the kiss of death, as few people are interested in taking on another layman's partially completed work.

People who restore things often try to justify the selling price by detailing how much money and how many hours of labor were put into the restoration. We want to put this as gently as possible, but buyers couldn't care less. They want to know how your boat selling for X thousands of dollars compares to other boats for the same price. That's all they care about. The way to find out what your boat is really worth is to 'shop' other boats in that price range, than honestly decide which boat you'd rather have. If people are selling better boats than yours for less money, you've either got to get lucky or bite the bullet and lower the price to true market value.

Coronado Yachts was started by Frank Butler, who later sold the company and then started the wildly successful Catalina brand. If we were to use a car analogy, we'd say that Coronado produced Chevrolets among the many Southern California boatbuilding brands of the high-flying 1970s. Coronado wasn't a top brand, but they built lots of perfectly acceptable boats that afforded lots of sailors many hours of pleasure. While Coronado was a cruising brand, we still remember Paul Slivka winning his class of almost every Sausalito YC beer can race about 10 years ago with his Coronado 27. But to be honest, it wasn't a case of the boat's being particularly fast, but rather Slivka's being a very fine sailor.


My husband Bob and I are going for the record books, and we’d like the input of Latitude and its readers. We’ve owned our Westsail 32 Chug for over 30 years and have cruised her all over. When we got rear-ended, she took heavy damage to the rudder, which is where our latest idea was hatched. Rather than fix the boat as usual, we decided to modify her transom into a bulbous bow!

Yes, we intend to sail Chug backward around the world. She is, after all, a double-ender. Work has already begun, and the bowsprit has been decked over to give extra storage space for fuel jugs. We figured that, as most of our circumnavigation will be downwind, having a forward cockpit would be a lot dryer and afford better visibility. We tried running the engine in reverse, but it got too hot. So Bob had a brainstorm — we switched to a left-hand prop, which will "pull" (his word) us through the doldrums. The rudder has been made and is a simple 'barn door' style that is easy to work on if needed.

Chug needed new rigging, so we turned the mast 180 degrees and, with a few adjustments, everything fit. If all goes according to plan, we intend to set off on our voyage this fall and may even join the Baja Ha-Ha.

Mexico, the Guinness Book of World records and the world, here we come again!

Bob & Barb Jones
Chug, Westsail 32


With summer here, can Latitude clarify the law with regard to drinking alcohol on boats. Is it legal? And if so, how much is legal? You can’t operate a car with an alcoholic beverage in your hand, but I see people operate boats with beer — and perhaps cocktails — in their hands all the time. Mostly in the Delta. What's the story?

Dave 'Delta in the Summer' Dawson
Idle, Cal 27

Dave — Good and timely question. To put booze and boating in perspective, alcohol is reported to be a factor in 25% of all boating accidents. And in California, 50% of all boating accidents involve colliding with another vessel.

While you can’t operate a car with an open container of alcohol, you can operate a boat with one. However, it’s illegal to operate a boat under the influence. Under the influence is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08%, which “presumes” intoxication. But a BAC of .05, plus other evidence, can also get you busted for intoxication.

According to officials, a BAC of .01% to .05% results in loss of judgment, decreased coordination, dulled thinking, and changes in mood and behavior. A BAC of .05% to .08% results in impaired operating ability, clumsy hand movements, and impaired walking and speech. With a BAC of .08% and over, inhibitions and judgment are seriously affected — which is why guys try to get women drunk — and responses are slowed and dull. Behavior is greatly affected and there is a high risk of accident. At .08%, you are legally under the influence of alcohol, and the penalties are stiff.

• Operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is a misdemeanor that could carry a penalty of one year in the county jail, a fine not to exceed $1,000, or both.

• Operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and causing injury to another person may be ruled a felony by the courts, and could carry a penalty of one year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

• Operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and causing death to another person is a felony and could carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

• A person arrested for operating a motorboat under the influence may be requested to take a blood or breath test to determine BAC. Refusal to take the test may result in increased penalties (fine, or jail, or both), if convicted.

• A person under 21 with a BAC of .01% or more may not operate any motorized vessel, or manipulate water skis, an aquaplane or similar device.

• Previous alcohol- or drug-related convictions of vehicle and vessel operators can be used to enhance penalties for persons convicted of subsequent vehicle or vessel violations.

• If you are convicted of operating a vessel while intoxicated, the Department of Motor Vehicles may suspend or revoke your vehicle driver's license. The duration of suspension or revocation could range from six months to five years, depending upon the number and type of vehicle and/or vessel violations accumulated.

Have a great time on the water, but be safe.


Steve and I hope to participate in the Baja Ha-Ha and beyond in three years. To prepare, we went on Amazon and purchased a Wonder Wash Non-Electric Portable Compact Mini Washing Machine and a Nina Soft Spin Dryer. The latter is really just a water extractor.

We've been using this combo for a month and have found them to be convenient — no schlepping — and easy to use. Well, easy to use after we found the correct amount of soap to use, as in one tablespoon for a full load of two queen sheets or two pairs of adult jeans. It takes three minutes to wash, and one minute to rinse, with two rinses. You do need a small 120V supply for the extractor, which only runs about a minute for each load, but helps if you don't like wringing the laundry by hand. The downside is that the extractor is twice the size of the washer, and finding space for it might be a problem. We purchased a flat-folding drying rack from IKEA for those days when the weather doesn't cooperate.

We are surprised that no one has written in about using either of these units since we have read so many letters complaining about the issue.

Clara Ann & Stephen Kelley
Armonie, 58-ft Kelly-Peterson
San Diego


Can you recommend a harbor/anchorage-hopping strategy for making the passage from San Francisco to Santa Barbara that would avoid nighttime travel? I've done that very early-in-the-morning leg from Monterey to San Simeon, but hope there is an all or mostly daylight version that works going down and coming back up.

Thanks in advance, and thanks also for Latitude 38, a most enjoyable monthly read.

Jim Bueto
Sea Dancer, Catalina 350

Jim — As we're sure you understand, your trip south is very likely to be a lot faster and easier than is your trip back north, because you can almost surely expect winds and swells from the northwest. That said, the obvious stops and distances going south from the Golden Gate Bridge are Half Moon Bay, about 20 miles; Santa Cruz, 45 miles; Monterey, 20 miles; Carmel, 8 miles; San Simeon, 65 miles; Morro Bay, 22 miles; Port San Luis, 22 miles; Government Point, 52 miles; Goleta, 32 miles; Santa Barbara, 7 miles. There is a doghole somewhere between Carmel and San Simeon that we can't remember the name of, but it's a little dicey, so we're not comfortable recommending it.

Given those distances, you can probably do an all-daylight trip from San Francisco down to Santa Barbara, but you're going to have to really push it on two of them. We doubt you'll be able to avoid at least some travel at night coming back north.

You might want to consider how many extra miles you're going to be adding to the trip if you duck into most or all of the harbors going down. You'd probably be adding at least another day, so unless you have a strong interest in stopping at all of them, we think one overnight might make a lot of sense. For example, it's 120 miles from Monterey to Government Point, during which you can average as little as five knots and still have only had to do one overnight. And remember, there is a good chance you'll be stopping at most of the Central Coast stops on the way back up anyway.

Whatever you do, have a great trip.


I recently purchased a home on Humboldt Bay that has its own dock in back. You can probably imagine how much this pleases a long-time sailboat owner such as myself. I'm dancing-on-the-roof ecstatic!

Having worked my way up from a Venture 21 to a Yorktown 41, to selling the Yorktown to buy the house, I, heh, find myself 'out of my depth', in the shallow channels on my bay.

There seems to be little info about boats with swing keels. I'm looking for something in the 28- to 38-ft range. Does Latitude have any recommendations? I'm likely not to do any voyaging farther than to San Francisco Bay and back.

Mark Brady
Humboldt Bay

Mark — Sorry, we have no experience with boats that have swing keels or centerboards. Those are mostly found on the East Coast. Perhaps some of our readers have experience and knowledge they'd be happy to share.


It's not often we hear from the FCC about changes that affect marine radio operation, and it's even more unusual to learn of a change that benefits cruisers. But that's exactly what's recently occurred. The FCC has implemented a new procedure that enables cruisers to print an original/official copy of their FCC-issued Ship Radio Station License and/or Restricted Radio Operator's Permit from anywhere there's Internet access. The FCC's motivation behind this procedural change is to save money. It also eliminates a new licensee's five- to ten-day wait for the mail to deliver their newly-minted license, and it eliminates the need to pay $65 to the FCC for printing a duplicate license.

The basic steps for printing an "official" version of a license are: 1) Log into the FCC License Manager at using your FRN number and password. 2) On the left-hand side of the License Manager page, click on 'Download Electronic Authorizations'. 3) On the License Manager's Download Authorizations page, select/add the Authorizations you want to print. 4) Print and/or save the authorizations you selected.

Gary Jensen
DockSide Radio
Spiritress, Hans Christian 38T


I'm from Santa Cruz and want to tell you about the spectacular experience I recently had on an amazing boat with an outstanding crew. I'm talking about my joining Lloyd Thornburg and crew for a record-setting run from Antigua to Newport, Rhode Island, aboard his MOD70 trimaran Phaedo³.

Already this season I've sailed on the Santa Cruz 70 Holua, Frank Slootman's Reichel/Pugh 63 Invisible Hand, Tom Siebel's San Francisco-based MOD70 Orion, and Phaedo³ at the Voiles de St. Barth. Luckily, I was asked to join Phaedo³ again for the attempt at the Antigua-to-Newport record.

A sudden gust hit Phaedo³ as we left Antigua on a broad reach, and the trimaran accelerated from 27 to 36 knots in a heartbeat. I was almost knocked backward off my feet, but I had to keep my balance as I was holding the very large jib sheet in both hands. The two windward hulls lifted high as the sails were slightly over-trimmed. If the crew and I hadn't immediately eased the sails, we would have capsized.

All this and it was just two hours after I'd gotten off a long red-eye flight from San Francisco to Antigua. Lloyd and the other five crewmembers had been ready to go for what was to be an attempt at the record, and to position the boat for the start of the July TransAtlantic Race.

Getting the right weather window is important for any record attempt, particularly the 3d, 22h one we were going after. It had been set by the 110-ft maxi-cat Maiden II, which had originally been launched by Steve Fossett as PlayStation. Phaedo³ project manager Brian Thompson, who had sailed with Fossett from the beginning on both his ORMA 60 Lakota and PlayStation, agreed with navigator Miles Seddon that the forecast was favorable on May 5, so we left Falmouth Harbor at sunset.

I hadn't slept a wink on the plane the night before, but with the easterly trades blowing at 18 to 25, I couldn't let sleep deprivation get the better of me. Our six-man crew was split into three watches. The watch schedule consisted of four hours on watch, four hours off watch, and four hours on standby. My adrenaline was running high, but I was tired, and I still had six hours of some of the most intense sailing I've ever done before I could get 'rest'.

While we were sailing in the tropics, we weren't decked out in shorts and T-shirts. Even though it was 80 degrees and humid, we all needed full foul-weather gear and eye protection to shield us from the water deflecting off the bows, which would firehose through the trampoline netting and hit our bodies with tremendous force. In addition, our bodies were losing more water from sweat than we could replace by drinking.

The setting sun soon gave way to a dark night. The wind increased and we took a reef in the main and flew our medium jib. With the boatspeed averaging 30 knots, it was my turn at the helm. It always seems to be my turn to helm when conditions get really spicy.

My sense of direction was not to be trusted with Phaedo³ sailing at 27 to 35 knots, and a wrong reaction would quickly result in the huge boat's flipping. So as I sat in the adjustable bucket seat, I constantly checked the illuminated instruments for information on our compass heading, wind speed, boat speed and wind angles. I had one hand on the tiller, one on the traveler, and one foot on the hydraulic mainsheet release. In addition to the instruments, we also used trimming lights to insure the sail trim was correct according to safety, speed and balance.

Driving a MOD70 in a breeze at night takes a tremendous amount of concentration, and it's mentally exhausting. I began to feel the exhaustion setting in after several hours of trying to finely tune what felt like a runaway train. I had one more hour to steer when, thankfully, a near-full moon rose above the clouds to the east, providing enough light to allow me to see the waves and sails, and restoring my sense of direction. This allowed me to keep going for the next 28.5 miles, at which time my watch was over.

The motion of the MOD70 pitching and accelerating through the mixed swell was relentless, and made even the smallest tasks down below a chore. Moving only a few feet took planning and timing. Trying to retrieve navigation information by moving the cursor on the computer monitor was a test in patience.

I did get a nice bunk to lie in for four hours, although I didn't get anything that I would describe as sleep. With little rest and no sleep, Warren Fitzgerald, the boat captain and my watch-mate, and I negotiated exiting our bunks to make room for the next off-watch while we moved to standby. It wasn't easy. Standby watch consisted of being fully dressed and ready to assist the standing watch with any maneuver or task they needed help with for four hours.

On standby watch, you’re neither on nor off. Usually we sat in the doghouse, which is a large hard dodger above the companionway, with two benches on either side that accommodate four people. From there, we watched the computer monitor and instruments, while mostly resting with our eyes closed and ears open, ready to react.

Our next watch was in the morning and the wind was still blowing a perfect 18-22 knots. Warren and I sailed the boat at 30 knots for a few hours in fully powered reaching conditions. Then sleep deprivation reared its ugly head. Both of us were exhausted, and we battled to stay alert while helming and trimming. Instead of switching helming every hour, we shortened driving stints to just 15 minutes. The potential consequences for complacency were too high not to.

Our watch finally came to an end, and I soon was in my bunk. I was relentlessly tossed around and deafened by the sound of water rushing by the hulls and the sails being ground in or let out. Knowing I had to sleep, I tried to put the motion of the boat and the sounds of sailing into a dream. I started thinking about the bumper car rides I went on as a kid, where you were uncontrollably jostled around by collisions from different directions. I had fond memories of the bumper car rides and fell into a deep sleep.

I have sailed in some incredible situations during my years of offshore sailing, and during many outstanding sessions on the MOD70 over the previous two years. I thought the first night of our record run was perhaps my best night of sailing ever — until the second night.

We had the gennaker up with one reef in the main. Crew boss and general offshore stud Sam Goodchild, along with Miles, had the boat fully powered up and perfectly balanced. The sea state had flattened and the motion of the boat was much smoother. The moon and the stars were shining brightly. I was rested and we were blasting along above 30 knots on a regular basis. As far as I can tell, sailing doesn’t get any better than the session we had on May 6.

In our first 24 hours, we had made good 653 miles toward our destination! This was by far a personal best for me, and it was like being on another planet compared to sailing most boats. After all, sailing more than 300 miles a day would be reason for celebration, even on a sled.

As we continued to sail north past Bermuda, the wind slowly began to shift north and decrease. The changing breeze didn't slow us down much, and we still managed to cover over 600 miles on the second day. Our navigator Miles had placed us in a perfect position — between a tropical storm to the west, another low pressure to the east, and a high pressure to the northeast.

Approaching the Gulf Stream, the wind started to go light. Luckily for us, Miles had put us in an eddy of the Gulf Stream with favorable current. We drifted slowly for half the day, caught up on sleep, ate, and dried out. We made it through the Gulf Stream and the water temperature plunged from 77? to 50?. The breeze slowly began to build, and that's all it took for us to be sailing at 20 knots once again.

Along with the cold water came the fog. Fog so dense we could barely see Phaedo³'s bows. The strangest thing about this weather is that there wasn't a ripple on the water. We were doing 21 knots across a glassy sea!

As we closed in on Block Island and the East Coast, the air temperature dropped significantly. The frigid air combined with the apparent wind speeds of 30-35 knots meant we were freezing. We put on every bit of clothing we had, and we were still very cold.

The East Coast is littered with islands, reefs, rocks, shipping traffic and navigational aids. In other words, there were tons of obstacles to run into on a dark, foggy night without radar.

Five miles out of Newport we sailed out of the fog and into a beautifully crisp clear night with flat water. A small boat with record officials and a media crew greeted us as we sailed past the Beaver Tail toward the finish. We crossed the finish line at 12 knots — it seemed as though we were hardly moving — but we'd achieved our twin goals of safely delivering the boat and crew to Newport, and setting a new course record. Three days, five hours and 55 minutes from Antigua to Newport, knocking 17 hours off the old record. Wow!

Paul Allen
Santa Cruz

Readers — This really should have been an article, but this is the only place we had room for it.


I chartered the Wanderer's Leopard 45 'ti Profligate for two weeks in 2012, and loved sailing on her. It was the only charter trip in which nothing on the boat broke. I recommended her to my son, Alex, and he will be leaving on July 3 for a 10-day charter.

Al Wallash
Tradewinds Sailing Club
Marina Bay, San Francisco Bay

Readers — We're publishing this letter for two reasons. First, to support our often-expressed contention that, after just a few years, it's not the age of the boat that matters, but the way in which she has been maintained. At the time Mr. Wallash chartered the boat, 'ti Profligate was 12 years old and probably had 9,000 hours on both her Yanmar diesels. We lived on her from early February to early May this year, and can't recall having any problems with her. It helps that she's a simple boat, but speaks mostly to the great care that Antonio and the other service staff at BVI Yacht Charters gave her. A heartfelt 'thank you' to the whole bunch of them.

The second reason we mention this is that, despite being in very good condition — except for the somewhat weary sails —
'ti Profligate is exiting the BVI Yacht Charter program at the end of July. They were so gracious as to let us keep the boat in their program for much longer than normal because they kept getting requests specifically for her, but they naturally prefer to offer newer boats to their clients.

So what's up for
'ti? She'll be based out of Jolly Harbor, Antigua when we don't use her in St. Barth from February to May. Each week her engines and all her systems will be run because "men and ships rot in port," or when they aren't used. If someone with extensive sailing and boat ownership experience would be interested in doing a long-term charter — one to three months — we might be open to it.


The idea we're about to run by Latitude might sound crazy or far-fetched, but we know that Latitude has an open mind and strong opinions — which we appreciate.

For six months, Mark and I have been trying to sell Irie, the Fountaine-Pajot 35 catamaran that we bought on the East Coast, spent years on in the Caribbean, then sailed here to French Polynesia. She is in great shape, very clean, well-equipped, and well maintained, and she is perfect for sailing in French Polynesia or cruising farther west to Tonga and Fiji. But we've had no luck. Although the price is 'right', it's still negotiable, and we are confident that when someone finally makes the effort to come and have a look, s/he will like Irie a lot.

But Irie is located in French Polynesia, thousands of miles away from most boat buyers. And therein lies the problem. Not many people, particularly Americans, are willing to take the expensive risk of flying here and purchasing a boat in a French-speaking country. We were thinking of reimbursing the plane tickets of interested buyers, but even that might not do the trick.

I recently stumbled upon a contest for an inn that was for sale in Maine. For a relatively small sum of money — $125 — and a well-written 200-word essay, a person could win the inn — assuming the current owner reached her goal of 7,500 entries to cover the value of the inn. It got me thinking that maybe we should do the same thing with Irie, and I wonder what Latitude thinks.

The way we visualize it, each person would pay $200 and write an essay on why they wanted to own and cruise Irie. All submissions and payments would be received electronically. The competition would run for two months. Contestants would receive a number next to their name/email address, and the same number would be placed on their essay to keep the stories anonymous. Mark and I would go through the pile of essays and select the top ten. Then an unrelated and respected individual who is familiar with sailing and cruising would pick the winning essay and two runners-up.

We would need 700 entries to represent the $140,000 value of the boat to make it worthwhile. We would cover all the Paypal fees, and we would reimburse all the money if the goal of 700 entries was not met. It would also be our decision to go ahead with the contest and the prize-giving if we receive fewer than 700 entries. On the opposite side of the spectrum, once we received the 700 entries, we would end the competition.

We are not trying to take advantage. The contest would be open to citizens of all countries, we would give specific rules and guidelines, and we would disclose everything there is to know about Irie, and answer any questions anyone might have. There might be tax implications for the new owner of Irie, based on the country s/he is from. We would try to publicize the event as much as we could online and via sailing magazine contacts around the world.

We think this is a great alternative way to sell our boat, as the winner would have to show a certain skill and be motivated about owning a sailboat in the Pacific, and wouldn't have to be affluent to be cruising a cat in paradise. Cheesy as it may sound, it might make someone’s dream come true.

If Latitude thinks this idea would fly, we would like the Wanderer to be the “unrelated, neutral sailing expert” to pick the final winner(s).

What do you think about this idea? If anyone else has any thoughts on the idea, we can be reached at

Liesbet Collaert & Mark Kilty
Irie, Fountaine-Pajot 35
Moorea, French Polynesia

Liesbet and Mark — The first thing we think is that your feelings about Latitude and the Wanderer are a little inflated. That said, we know of homes in Marin County that have been 'sold' in a similar manner, although they might always have been for charity, if that makes any difference.

If we were you, we'd be inclined to just go for it — although we're not sure about the essay requirement. If we didn't know you as honest people, we'd have concerns that the top ten essays would turn out to have been written by relatives of yours. Yes, we're journalists, so we've seen more than enough to be a little cynical.

The biggest question is whether there are 700 people out there willing to ante up $200 for the possibility of winning a catamaran in French Polynesia. Although the probability of winning would be much greater than that fool's game that is the California Lottery.

As much as the Wanderer is honored by your wanting him to be the judge of the essays, he can't, as his plate is already overflowing with the monthly
Latitude, three-days-a-week 'Lectronic, the Ta-Ta, the Ha-Ha, and trying to squeeze in a little pleasure sailing.

But good luck!


I especially enjoy the Letters section of Latitude, but I got a special kick from the one in May about the underwater weight of Liz Clark's anchor.

First we were told this was, "in this case, saltwater," and then it was pointed out that "the density of water is 62.4 lbs per cubic foot (lb/cf)."

That was followed by "(Note: this density is at 23? Celsius)."

That's all well and good. It sounds very impressive, almost like something you might get from an engineer at the government's Department of Redundancy Department. Of course, you might have wondered why the temperature was given in Celsius, since none of the other units were metric?

But in any case, if the goal was to be a little more accurate — unless Liz's anchor was in Gatun Lake — wouldn't it be better to use the density of saltwater, rather than freshwater?

If I recall correctly from the most basic class in fluids I ever took, 64.2 pounds per cubic foot is the number we used to use for saltwater, and 62.4 for fresh. It's easy to remember — a 6, a 4, and a 2 — and you simply transpose a couple of digits to get from one to the other. Obviously saltwater is heavier than fresh, what with all that salt in it.

I think the philosophy/Russian major Wanderer does a pretty good job, certainly a good enough one. But if you want to talk technical accuracy, I'm putting my faith in Lee Helm. I don't think she would ever have let a mistake like that slip!

Keep up the good work; we love the publication

Kevin Reilly
Skylark, Columbia 50

Kevin — As always, we appreciate the kind words — and the necessary corrections.


As I wrote in a previous email to you, I'm sometimes annoyed at the way some mariners are celebrated by Latitude.

In the June 10 'Lectronic, you reported that the crew of the sloop Corazon de Acero sailed from Mazatlan, which was not under a hurricane watch, to La Paz, which was. Did they miss the weather report before departure? And then upon arrival they proceeded to run aground in view of the malecón. Are we to assume that they were not only unfamiliar with the prudence of checking weather on an intended course, but reading navigation aids/buoys and/or using chartplotters? Or dare I say paper charts?

I know, of course, that Latitude advocates simplicity in all things, but this truly was a story that should have been headlined with something like 'What Not to Do When Cruising.' Like not having the equipment to check weather and other aids to navigating in unfamiliar ports.

I seem to recall that there was a fatality in La Paz during Hurricane Odile last fall when a good Samaritan came to the aid of some sailor who had remained with his anchored vessel in the middle of La Paz Bay during the storm.

More frequently than ever, I seem to see this kind of poor seamanship. And I see the same thing on San Francisco Bay and wherever else I roam, which tends to be from Alaska to Costa Rica.

There is more to safe cruising than buying the boat, taking a few Club Nautique lessons, and heading out. And Latitude knows this. I fear that your failing to point this out is reckless. I anticipate that your response will include the words "nanny state," "I learned by just doing," "back to basics," and so forth.

While I never miss an issue of Latitude, and I understand that you make your living selling this concept, it might cost someone his or her life.

Dane Faber
WAFI, Vagabond 38

Dane — If you're suggesting that we sugarcoat safety issues related to sailing, you couldn't be more wrong. When we started Latitude in 1977, none of the other marine publications 'did' death. We thought that was bullshit, because we think people need to have some idea of the risks they are taking when they engage in an activity. So since the first issue, we've covered unfortunate incidents and tragedies as well as we could.

And have you ever seen our Baja Ha-Ha liability release form? We do our best to go overboard listing all the ways people could get hurt or killed on a boat.

The problem with any cookie-cutter approach to sailing safety is that people are so different. We've known people who have had 100-ton licenses and Coast Guard tickets to carry paying passengers for years whom we wouldn't sail across the Bay with. And then there are people who teach themselves how to sail in 90 minutes, take off across the Atlantic, and have no serious problems. And the 'Chicken Man' we recently featured in
Changes isn't the only one.

We think the best way to learn to become a safe cruiser is to: 1) Take lessons. 2) Buy a boat. 3) Have some mentor go over your sailing lessons as they apply to your boat. 4) Have a mentor help you race your boat — even if she's not a racing boat — in beer can races. 5) Race the boat yourself in beer can races. 6) Race her, with you in charge, on the Bay. 7) Race her, with you in charge, on the ocean. We know that almost nobody will do this, but if they did, in six months most people could be pretty damn competent sailors.


My wife and I did the 2014 Baja Ha-Ha with our Hunter 49 Bon Voyage, and we'll be doing the Ha-Ha again this fall. We spent last winter in Mexico, but after the 2015 Ha-Ha plan to sail to the Eastern Caribbean, with our ultimate destination being the British Virgins.

From the reports we've read online, sailing east from Panama into the prevailing northeasterly trades can be a very difficult experience. Can you give us any advice, particularly about the route and time of year?

Craig Fecker
Bon Voyage, Hunter 49
San Diego

Craig — We're looking forward to seeing you in this fall's Ha-Ha. When and if you make it to St. Barth, we'll be delighted to stand for celebratory drinks at the Bar of the Forgotten.

Profligate made the trip to the Eastern Caribbean after the Ha-Ha 10 years ago, the plan was predicated on getting across the Caribbean Sea before the onset of the 'Christmas Winds'. These 'reinforced trades' are generated by a high-pressure system near the Azores. They usually start to blow in mid-December, and often don't let up for more than a couple of hours until mid-February. And they blow like stink — 18 to 30 knots — from the Eastern Caribbean most of the way to Panama. You can imagine what the seas can be like.

In order to leave from Cabo on November 9 and make the 3,000 or so miles to Antigua, including a Canal transit, by December 16, there could be no lollygagging around. So as soon as
Profligate arrived in Cabo, all nonessential stuff was taken off, and the crew left that night. Because she needed to stay around for the rest of the Ha-Ha festivities, Doña de Mallorca later flew to Acapulco to catch up with the boat.

This crew ran 24 hours a day — except for six fuel stops, to replace both saildrives in Panama (which was accomplished in four days), and a mandatory overnight in Cartagena — until they got to Antigua before mid-December. As we recall, it took them something like 31 days in all, which is hauling butt. It was a long motor to Panama, followed by some moderate bashing across a not-yet-terribly-rough Caribbean, via Cartagena and Aruba.

You need to remember that
Profligate motors quite a bit faster than most boats, and that this was a hard-core delivery. So even if you wanted to move quickly, it's unlikely you could reach Panama before the start of the Christmas Winds, at least without killing yourselves. But say you got to Panama in the middle of January and the Christmas Winds were still blowing. Unless you're John Neal and Amanda Swan Neal, who sail rhumbline from Panama to the Virgins no matter what it's blowing, your options as mortals are hugging the north shore of South America or the east coast of Central America.

The benefit of going along the north shore of South America is that you can usually make it to Cartagena, a wonderful city, fairly easily and then have a great place to wait for a possible break in the trades. If you get a four- or five-day break, you can usually make it up to Cabo de la Vela. In the old days, that meant you pretty much had it made with regard to the Christmas Winds, because you could then duck into the Venezuelan shore, which is south of the Christmas Winds, until you got to Trinidad. At that point you'd start your jolly time sailing up the crescent of islands in the Eastern Caribbean.

Alas, Venezuela has descended into complete chaos, where the rate of theft and murder has become astronomical. It's our understanding that these problems haven't made it out to the Los Roques Islands, which are fabulous. So it still might be an option, but we can't guarantee it.

The other option is to play the weather windows to work up the east coast of Central America. The problem is that once you get as far north as the latitude of the British Virgins, you're still 1,500 miles directly downwind of them. True, there are a number of islands on the way where you can wait out particularly rough weather, but it's sort of like a Baja Bash — only twice as long.

If time isn't an issue, and we hope it isn't, we'd suggest you take your time to enjoy the great cruising in Panama, on both the Pacific side and in the fabulous San Blas Islands and Bocas del Toro regions on the Caribbean side. Then, in May or June, when the strong trades should be long-faded, you could make your move for the Eastern Caribbean. Usually the best time to do this is when there is some hurricane in the Eastern Caribbean, as nothing screws up the normal tradewind pattern better than a hurricane, and a screwed-up tradewind pattern is precisely what you want.

The downside of this plan is that it puts you in the Eastern Caribbean at the start of the hot, humid hurricane season. If you have the time, we think the ideal solution would be to make your way to Panama or Cartagena — where boatwork is dirt cheap — this winter season, then cross to the Eastern Caribbean in early November just before the start of the next high season in the Eastern Caribbean.

Hope this helps. Whatever you do, we're sure it will be a great adventure.



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