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September 2015

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My experience clearing into the United States after bypassing San Diego wasn't as painful as the one that Greg King of the 65-ft schooner Coco Kai had a few months back, but it certainly was confusing.

I departed Cabo San Lucas on July 16, 2014 on my Pearson 365 Laelia. I sailed nonstop to San Francisco Bay, arriving on August 15. I called the Coast Guard on VHF 16 about two hours out of the Gate to find out how to clear in. They didn't know. But they wanted my vessel information and passport number. The Coast Guard eventually referred me to Vessel Traffic Service.

VTS didn't know how I was supposed to clear in either, but they eventually came up with a phone number for the TSA. After calls to several different numbers, and repeating my vessel information and passport information, I was asked if I had a cruising permit. They asked this despite the fact that they were well aware that I am a US citizen with a US-documented boat. After a long pause, I was instructed to proceed to Jack London Square, where someone would come to the boat and process me.

It was after 6 p.m. by the time I got to Jack London Square. My initial calls to TSA went to voicemail, but eventually I got a human to pick up. The speaker said she would check with her supervisor to find out what to do. About a half-hour later, I got a call saying I was cleared in and could proceed to my marina.

Is clearing into San Francisco from a foreign port that unusual, or did I just hit a bad day?

Ralph Lewis
Laelia, Pearson 365
Northern California

Ralph — We think it's pretty unusual for a small boat to check into the United States at San Francisco. And based on reports we've heard from both American and foreign sailors, US Customs, Immigration and Border Patrol folks can have a hard time handling anything out of their normal routine.

For example, about a year ago we reported on a friend who delivered a US-flagged boat from Puerto Vallarta to Tampa, Florida. When he got to Tampa, none of the officials had any idea what the procedure was for clearing in. As we recall, he finally got it done after 12 hours, which included long visits to two airports.

In the past, owners of foreign-flagged vessels have complained to us that many US officials didn't know the law. When coming into the US, a foreign-flagged vessel has to check into the United States, the owner has to get a cruising permit, and then the owner has to check with US officials "every time the boat moves to a new location."

Owners of foreign boats groused that when they tried to report a change in their location, some US Customs and Border Protection officials and/or the US Coast Guard weren't even aware of the requirement, and couldn't figure out how to accept the information. One owner of a foreign-flagged vessel told us he was literally kicked out of a US Customs and Border Protection office on the East Coast for insisting he needed to report his boat's change in location.

Fortunately, the system for keeping track of foreign boats has improved, as foreign boatowners can now call an 800 number to report a change in their location. On the West Coast, the number is (800) 432-1216. For jollies, we called the number and asked the agent what exactly was meant by a "change in location." For instance, if a foreign-flagged vessel was in one marina in San Diego and moved to another marina in San Diego, did they have to check in?

"Yes," the agent responded, "it's a change in location and so they have to check in."


I’m not sure I really understand the point that Max Ebb was trying to make in last month's column titled Like Flies to a Dead Snake on a Hot Country Road. I want to point out that no boat wishing to enter a Racing Division of the Pacific Cup has ever been excluded because the entry list contained boats in the Cruising Division. Could Max have been suggesting that the Pacific Cup requires boats to race? Or is he offended that Cruising Division boats are allowed to use their engines? Or is he just annoyed that they can sail to Hawaii without a precious and indispensable rating?

In 2013, his objection was, "If they are not racing, how will they be penalized for bad behavior?" We at the Pacific Cup agreed to address this oversight, and were prepared to insist that any offenders anchor out until their 'time out' had elapsed.

The decision about which division, racing or cruising, a boat will race in will be in the hands of the entrant — which is where it should be.

Eleven months before the start of the 2016 Pacific Cup, we’re thrilled to have 11 entries in the Cruising Division, and we look forward to welcoming more. Rather than cheapening the race, the cruisers provide a boost to the event with their enthusiasm. And the added number of entries enables the race organizers to provide a higher level of support to all participants. Lastly, entrants in the Cruising Division don't whine about their rating at the Kaneohe YC bar.

Steve Chamberlin
Staff Commodore
Pacific Cup Yacht Club


The Max Ebb article in the August issue was critical of the Pacific Cup’s Cruising Division. The fictional inept cruising character depicted in the article doesn’t accurately represent any of the cruising class entrants. Given Latitude's support as a sponsor of the 2014 race, as well as its promotion of other cruising events such as the Baja Ha-Ha, we were surprised and disappointed to see Max's diatribe about cruisers in the Pacific Cup.

From its inception, the Pacific Cup was envisioned as a low-key 'Fun Race to Hawaii'. Now in its 36th year, it has a tradition of a wide spectrum of participants, from the very relaxed family effort to a heavily pro-crewed rocket sled program. The Cruising Division was offered for the first time in 2014, much to the dismay of certain racing purists such as the author of Max Ebb.

Yet by all accounts, the inaugural 2014 Cruising Division was a great success. In fact, the only boats that required outside assistance for extra fuel and water were in the racing divisions. Once on the water, we've been pleased to see that our cruising fleet takes their seamanship every bit as seriously as our racers, in some cases outperforming them. And while we do recognize the cruisers with fun awards based on their detailed logbook entries, we expect some new performance-based categories for 2016 based on our entrants' input.

Cruising Division entrants receive the same level of support as the racers, helping to ensure a safe and enjoyable passage. The Cruising Division allows sailors to participate in this great adventure with a bit less pressure on boat performance — like sailing at night with white sails only or letting the autopilot steer during the dogwatch.

It's also noteworthy that one of the Cruising Division entrants for the 2016 Pacific Cup has done 11 Transpacs. Another Cruising Division entrant sailed in the cruising class in 2014, and is returning in 2016 because he was able to enjoy the experience with his wife, who isn’t interested in the additional rigors of racing.

Whether one's taste runs to a surfing sled, a mid-sized racer, a small or shorthanded boat, or a cruising effort, the Pacific Cup has a place for you. As for Max's 'kissing your sister comment', one sled entrant in the 2016 race stated, "I do plan to kiss my sister — right after I kiss my wife on the dock at Kaneohe"

Gary Troxel
Tiki Blue, Beneteau 423
Commodore, Pacific Cup Yacht Club

Steve and Gary — We appreciate differing opinions on everything from multihulls in the America's Cup, to furling mains, to a Cruising Division in the Pacific Cup. That said, the opinions expressed in the Max Ebb column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Latitude 38.

In the case of the Pacific Cup, we understand Max's arguments for wanting to keep the Pacific Cup a 'pure' sailing event. Nonetheless, we disagree with his conclusion that there shouldn't be a Cruising Division. The official
Latitude position can best be summed up as 'the more the merrier'.

If we ever did the Pacific Cup with
Profligate, it would be in the Cruising Division. An incident during the first night of the second leg of last year's Baja Ha-Ha explains why. The wind had come up, and we on Profligate were sailing side-by-side with Jim Milski and his Schionning 49 cat Sea Level, which had recently circumnavigated. The two cats were sailing in the high teens and above, and everybody was having a wonderful time. But as darkness fell, we elected to drop our chute, not wanting to risk tearing it or incurring other expensive damage. Sea Level dropped their chute a few minutes later.

When we reached Bahia Santa Maria the next day, Milski came over and thanked us for dropping when we did. "We'd hit 21 knots and I was worried that we were going to destroy the chute," he said, "but I wasn't going to drop it until you did. So I was glad to see you drop yours when you did."

Winning isn't everything for us. In fact, it's hardly anything at all. Our pleasure comes from sailing with others, be they on our boat or on boats around us. It doesn't mean we're not going to push it when we feel the time is right; it just means we're not going to push it when it likely means that we — and our friends — would be tearing up $1,000 bills for bragging rights. We have no beef with Max and others who think differently than we do, but that's our opinion.

In his column, Max took a potshot at boats that have mains that furl in the mast, lots of electric winches, and so forth, suggesting that they might not be up for a fast trip to Hawaii. If such boats are properly maintained, we don't think they have to have those problems. As evidence, we cite the experience of Charlie and Cathy Simon of Spokane and Puerto Vallarta, who recently did an 11-month circumnavigation aboard their 77,000-lb Taswell 58 Celebrate. It was only the two of them for almost the entire 30,000 miles or so, but despite the fact that they are both north of 60, they said "it was easy," in large part because of the manpower-saving gear the boat had.


In the August 10 'Lectronic by Sailor Cherry of the Serendipity 43 Hooked, she is quoted as saying "People didn't understand why I didn't just buy a tarp, but we make it a priority to use as little plastic on board as possible, especially a tarp which has high risk of sailing into the water and adding to the ocean plastic epidemic.”

While I have always outfitted my own vessels with Sunbrella fabrics, I must point out that they are made of synthetic, acrylic fibers made from polyacrylonitrile polymers. In other words, Sunbrella is yet another plastic.

Now about those polyethylene terephthalate sails constructed of a fabric that everyone refers to as “Dacron”. . .

John Farnsworth
Senior Lecturer, Environmental Studies & Sciences
Santa Clara University
Bashful, Hunter 46LE


My wife and I took our honeymoon in the British Virgins and did a week on a charter boat from one of the big charter companies, and then a week at a resort. It was amazing. We loved the boat, which was basically new at the time.

It turns out that the boat we sailed seven years ago is coming out of charter and is up for sale. What's the scoop on buying a former charter boat? I could only imagine that hundreds of novice sailors have run the boat aground and had other mishaps with her. What do you think?

Stephen Baloglu
Desert Star, O'Day 34

Stephen — On the negative side of buying a used charter boat is the fact that the boat has probably been used a lot. But remembering that 'men and ships rot in port', the upside of buying a used charter boat is that she's probably been used a lot. As long as a boat gets proper maintenance, we think it's preferable for a boat to be used rather than be idle.

Naturally, you have to be careful that the boat you might buy hasn't suffered any significant structural or engine damage over the years. But in the case of cats, even going onto reefs isn't a big deal. The Leopard cats were built so that damaged keels could be swapped out — without even having to be hauled out! The good news is that the marine surveyors we've dealt with in the British Virgins are very professional and do thorough surveys.

As you probably know, we bought a Leopard 45 catamaran when she came out of The Moorings program in the British Virgins when she was five years old. We then had her in the BVI Yacht Charters yacht management program for nine years. In fact, that was right up until a couple of weeks ago. In other words, she's been extensively sailed by many novice sailors, to say nothing of the three months we used her each year. In our opinion she's still in very good shape — other than needing a new set of sails and a few additional relatively minor things. As such, we're keeping her as our floating sailing home in the Caribbean.

The big thing we worried about prior to buying
'ti Profligate was that some charterer had trashed or would trash one or both of her very expensive Yanmar diesels. Well, both the engines have in excess of 10,000 hours now, run great, and don't even burn oil. In fact, they are in much better shape than the same engines in big Profligate, which have half the hours. We have to give credit to the service department at BVI Yacht Charters for taking such good care of them.


The 100-ton purse seiner Ferrigno Boy crashed into the Ventura Harbor Travelift pier and docks on July 29. According to eyewitnesses, she was doing about 10 to 12 knots at the time. It's my understanding that the crash caused somewhere between $1-2 million in damage.

Apparently the mishap was caused when the pin that holds the shift cable to the transmission — which probably costs a dollar — fell out. When the skipper driving the big fishing boat tried to put the engine in reverse, the boat just kept right on going in forward.

The sound of Ferrigno Bay splintering the wooden docks and cracking the concrete ones was like a big truck driving through three giant wooden barns. I was 100 feet from the gangway when it happened and ran down to see my beloved Solera being thrown up onto the docks as Ferrigno Boy's stern swung to port, pinning my boat. Fortunately, my 1964 Charlie Morgan-designed Columbia 40 CCA racer was built like a brick shithouse. If not, she would have been destroyed.

As I write this letter, the awesome crew at Ventura Harbor Boat Yard are fixing the damage to my boat. Her bowsprit was broken, the lifeline loosened up, and the hull gouged in a few places. Considering the damage that could have been done, I'm very lucky.

I singlehanded my boat back to California from San Carlos, Mexico. In fact, I was in Turtle Bay when last year's Ha-Ha fleet came through. The Grand Poobah anchored Profligate a short distance in front of me, and surprised me by being able to correctly identify my 50-year-old boat, despite the fact that not many had been built. My plans were to return to Mexico this fall, but I'll have to wait until the repairs are completed. It's a hell of a way to get a free haulout.

The incident is actually more personal to me than one might expect. As an employee of Major Engineering Marine, I helped build these docks years ago. I am saddened by the destruction, but will stick around to help my old company fix the damage. During the first four days, we cleaned up the carnage, including removing the broken pilings and fishing two more off the bottom. The squid boat hit one piling so hard that it chopped it clean in two, like a carrot. And the pier for the 35-ton Travelift is now six inches narrower than it used to be.

Mark Anderson
Solera, Columbia 40


We read with interest the letters regarding Temporary Import Permits (TIPs) in Mexico and Latitude's response in the August issue. What you said may apply to the Pacific Coast of Mexico, but our experience in the Yucatan was quite different.

We and our friends on the catamaran At Last both sailed south in the 2004 Ha-Ha. We obtained a 10-year TIP, spent time in Mexico, and then moved south. Both boats have been in the waters of Central America for the past 10 years.

This spring we both brought our boats up through Belize to the Yucatan. We checked into Mexico at Isla Mujeres, planning to spend about a month there. We were advised that we needed to obtain a new TIP since ours had expired in November 2014. We were told to take our old TIP to the Banjercito office near the ferry terminal in Cancun to get a new one. The woman there located our boat by the hull number. Even though our boat was built in 1976, she has a Hull Identification Number. The woman told us she couldn’t issue us a new TIP because our outdated TIP had not been canceled. In order to cancel it, we had to go to the main aduana office at the airport.

We got a cab for the long ride to the airport, and after wandering around in the 90-degree heat, finally found the correct building. Only Tom and Mike were allowed to go in, and then only after showing proper ID, signing in, and donning orange vests. They emerged two hours later after being told that we must each pay a fine of approximately $500 because our TIP wasn't canceled when it expired. A fine is assessed for every 15 days the boat is out of compliance. They also mentioned that they were aware of only one other boat that had experienced this, and they paid the fine.

We felt that we should not have to pay a fine, as we had never been told about needing to cancel the TIP, nor was there language to that effect in the document itself. We went back to our boats in Isla Mujeres and sent an email to the aduana official trying to explain our understanding of the term 'expired'.

We received a response a week later quoting articles and sections of the Customs Act (in Spanish). The bottom line of this was that if we wanted a TIP, we needed to pay the fine, and the clock was still ticking. We did not get the TIP, and checked out of Mexico three weeks later. Our boat is now back in the United States and listed for sale.

Tom Reagan & Patti Pratley
Liberty, Cal 3-46
Dana Point

Tom and Patti — It's more than a little odd, but officials on the Caribbean side of Mexico have always interpreted the laws a little differently, and tended to be more hard-ass than officials on the Pacific Coast. This was something confirmed by Geronimo, who runs both the El Cid Marina in Mazatlan and also a marina in the Yucatan. Of course, inconsistent interpretation of Mexican law has long been a problem even on just the Pacific Coast of Mexico. One of the more recent examples is the head aduana guy telling a delivery captain taking a boat from Panama to California that he didn't need a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) because the boat was in transit. Everybody else in the world seems to be under the impression that every foreign boat in Mexico had better have a TIP. We belong to the latter school.

The thing that is unclear to us is what would have happened had you canceled your outdated TIP before returning to Mexico. Could you have gotten a new one and not been subject to the fine?

In any event, all this points out the importance of TIPs. The basics are as follows. 1) All boats need a TIP before going to Mexico. Get one online. It's easy, only about $50, and it's good for 10 years. That's a heck of a bargain. 2) TIPs are good for multiple re-entries, so you don't need to get a new one each time you take your boat to Mexico. 3) If you got a TIP and are never going to return to Mexico, cancel it at a Banjercito office when you leave Mexico. TIPs can't be transferred to new owners, so if you don't cancel it, this could result in any future owner who took the boat to Mexico ending up in a world of trouble. 4) If you are buying a boat that's been to Mexico, it is essential that you find out if she had a TIP and the status of that TIP. We would not buy a boat that had been to Mexico until we knew for sure that the TIP had been canceled. Not expired, which doesn't mean anything, but canceled.


I have a suggestion for an article. With the building of El Niño, there has been lots of talk about how it could influence the upcoming winter in California. I've Googled and Googled for any info on how a strong El Niño would affect the typical winters in Baja California/Sea of Cortez. Wetter? Hotter? Changes from the normal wind patterns?

Maybe the answer is pretty boring in that it won't really affect the weather patterns that much, and thus has inspired little writing about it. But I'd love to hear more from a weather expert.

Bryan Miller
Vela, Nor'Sea 27
San Francisco / San Carlos, Mexico

Bryan — We addressed the El Niño situation extensively in an editorial response to a letter in the August issue. The short version is that a developing El Niño can reverse itself, as it did last year, and quite quickly, so it's no sure thing. But even if it continues to be a strong El Niño year, as it appears it will be, it doesn't even mean that many of the effects often believed to be closely associated with El Niños will occur. Indeed, sometimes weak El Niños result in stronger El Niño-associated effects than do really strong El Niños.

Historically, El Niño effects — primarily rain — have tended to be most strongly felt in Southern California and, to a lesser extent, in Northern California. But remember that we're talking about a weather phenomenon that can be dramatically affected by a nearly infinite number of other weather factors. The bottom line is that nobody knows for sure what's going to happen. If you're going to be sailing to Mexico, make sure that you and your boat are as well-prepared as possible — just as you would normally do.


In the last issue, Jim Quanci wrote that the Perkins diesel on his Cal 40 Green Buffalo was still running fine after 48 years. The editor responded by saying he remembered racing against Green Buffalo in the early 1980s when then-owner Clarence Nelson let a young woman named Peggy race the boat. That Peggy is Peggy Patrick, who is now married to St. Francis YC Staff Commodore Monroe Wingate. Green Buffalo was the first boat that I ever raced in the ocean.

Kimball Livingston
San Francisco

Readers — Now for the big question: Why would anyone name their boat, even if she was puke-green, Green Buffalo? It's such a terrible name that it's great.


There were HINs — hull identification numbers — prior to 1982. Our 1974 Cal 29 Noah's Kid had the builder/hull #/month/year engraved or stamped on the transom starboard side — as did Pearsons and other brands. You can walk through boatyards and identify many of these, unless the HINs were sanded away when prepping the hulls for painting.

P.S. Thanks to Latitude for continuing publishing. We have been fans since the early 1980s.

Helen Horn & Edward Stancil
Caliente, Cal 36
Redwood City

Helen and Edward — We may be wrong, but it's our understanding that HINs were not required by law until about 1982. Prior to then, builders of production yachts put HINs on their boats for their own record-keeping.

Since Mexico will now accept a US document number or a HIN on applicationsfor a Temporary Import Permit (TIP), it's no longer much of an issue.


There were going to be four multihull entries in the multihull division of the just-completed Transpac. But days before the race started, that number dropped to three, as Lending Club 2, the monster 105-ft trimaran that used to be Groupama 3 and Banque Populaire VII, dropped out. She dropped out because charterer Renaud Laplanche and co-skipper Ryan Breymaier decided that if she started on her allotted Transpac start day, it was unlikely they would be able to crush the Los Angeles-to-Honolulu record — which is why they'd brought the boat all the way from Europe.

By starting early, Lending Club 2 was able to beat the old record by a huge margin and establish an astonishing new course record of just 3 days and 18 hours. But by starting on schedule, all the other Transpac boats got the short end of the weather stick. I can only imagine how they felt watching Lending Club 2 sprint to glory while they awaited their unfortunate fate.

If it weren't for the long Disney history in the Transpac, I can't help but wonder if Roy Disney, who must have spent a lot of money bringing the 100-ft Wild Oats up from Australia, might not have started early, too. This would have encouraged the two other 100-footers to do the same.

The question I want to ask is whether we've gotten to the point where it might be a good idea to go to flexible starting dates to insure at least reasonable Transpac weather for as many boats as possible. Race starting dates have been changed for really heavy weather. Maybe they should be changed for really light — or otherwise crappy — weather, too.

I know this would entail all kinds of scheduling issues for crews and such, but you can't expect me to solve every problem.

Brett 'Glad I didn't start on Tuesday' Wilson
Marina del Rey

Brett — Interesting suggestion. Like you, we can only imagine the frustration felt by those knowing their Transpac conditions were going to be less than ideal. But your flexible start 'solution' is really no solution at all, given the massive logistical problems everyone would have. It's sort of like saying, "I've done my job by figuring out how to drive to the hospital, it's the doctor's job to figure out how to cure cancer."


I think it's so cool that a boat as old as Grand Illusion, one of the early Santa Cruz 70s, took overall honors in the Transpac. And for the third time in the same family. How much did Santa Cruz 70s sell for new, and how much would I pay for a good one now?"

Just Dreamin'
Newport Beach

J.D. — We're not sure what SC70s sold for new, and surely the price changed depending on what year they were purchased and how they were modified. But you can get one for 'almost nothing'. For example, Yachtworld has a listing for the 1987 Santa Cruz 70 Windancer, currently in Muskegon, Michigan, for just $259,000. From the sound of the sales blurb, she's a good one:

"Originally known as Drumbeat, this Santa Cruz 70 spent only a few summers in saltwater. From then on, she spent summers in freshwater and winters in storage. As Cynosure under her second owner, she was extensively updated with the best of everything. She was twice the overall winner of the Chicago-Mackinac Race, and her current owner holds the record for having sailed the most Chicago-Macs ever — 66! The current owner has done a great job of keeping this yacht both clean and fast. Being SC70 #8, she is only two boats later than Transpac winner Grand Illusion.

Mirage, a 1990 SC70, is for sale in Long Beach for $355,000. Both boats would be perfect for next year's Pacific Cup.


Aloha. I want to thank Latitude for publishing the article Ronnie Simpson wrote about me in the March issue. My first year of cruising has been a huge learning experience. I left Hawaii with about one month of ocean sailing experience. Since then I've covered over 10,000 miles while spending more than three months at sea. I've also visited six countries, as well as Palmyra and American Samoa.

It's funny, I set out to sail solo around the world, or at least make it to Thailand. Despite having covered enough miles to make it nearly halfway around at the equator, I've only crossed three time zones. I guess the cruising lifestyle has slowed me down more than I thought it would.

It would be difficult for anyone to do what I've done and think they've done it by themselves — except when they were at sea. For example, my friend and former roommate Brandon Kloth stopped charging me rent, topped off my diesel tanks and my food/liquor stores, built my dodger, and spent a month sailing around Hawaii with me. I still have quite a bit of food left from Hawaii, although the liquor supply hasn't held up as well. Then there are my Hawaii friends, who all took time to help get my boat sorted out before I left, including throwing a going-away party/fundraiser hosted by Lavern's. Worthy of particular note is Jeremy Thuma, who built my massive solar arch.

After a year of cruising, I've acquired a lot of sailing skills. For instance, I now know how to sail onto and off the hook — thanks to a blown gearbox and my friend Allan Weeks of the Atlantic 57 cat Cereleon. And it was both Allan and Liz Weeks who showed me how amazing this cruising lifestyle can be, and who have always offered good food and good company. Tristan Ashborne and Wendy on Pangea helped get my refrigerator sorted out, and always offered a place for amazing food and impromptu dance parties. After the Latitude article appeared, Scanmar contacted me and sent me the parts I needed to get my Monitor windvane working again. This was despite the fact that my windvane pre-dated Scanmar's owning Monitor. I've now sailed 700 miles after the repair with no problems.

It was Brett Uys of the Jaguar 36 cat Moonjoos who helped me fix my gearbox. He then had enough faith in my five months' — at the time — worth of sailing skills to have me deliver his catamaran to New Zealand and then Australia.

Once again, I've been accepted into a new community and lifestyle here in the South Pacific. Not only have I been able to keep going, I've even been able to save some money. I couldn't be happier to become part of this community.

While I'll take the title of singlehanded sailor, there is no way I could think I've really been doing this solo. I want to thank everyone who has helped to keep me going.

Dustin Reynolds
Rudis, Alberg 35
Keauhou, Hawaii

Readers — Dustin's story reminds us that we became friends with a one-armed French sailor in the Caribbean about 30 years ago. He'd been building a 70-ft aluminum sloop himself when the hull shifted on the stands and severed one arm above the elbow. Incredibly, he finished the interior of the large boat with just one arm. He then sailed the boat across the Atlantic and ran her as a charter boat in the Caribbean for several years. As we can tell by reading the news every day, humans are capable of terrible things. But as Dustin and the French guy have demonstrated, humans are also capable of incredibly good things, too.


In the editor's response to a letter from John Neal and Amanda Swan Neal in the August Latitude, he mentioned a cruising guide that Randy and Lourae Kenoffel of the Moorings 50 Pizazz wrote about for getting from Cartagena past Cabo Vela, Colombia. Apparently it was published in Latitude in 2003. Unfortunately, your online archives only go back to 2007. Is there any way I can get a copy of the guide?

Bill Lilly
Moontide, Lagoon 470
Newport Beach

Bill — As making it east of Cabo Vela really gets Eastern Caribbean-bound sailors 'over the hump' in getting across the often wicked Caribbean Sea, we'll republish it in the October issue. Mind you, it's a rougher guide than most, and is written as if one were going east to west, but it still describes where to stop between Cartagena and Aruba.


Even if you're a seasoned sailor, you have to take a test with 20 questions before you're allowed to rent a sailboat on Big Bear Lake in California. So I took the test. A young man marked my test and told me one of my answers was wrong. After we had a long debate about it, I was able to rent a 19-ft sloop for one hour.

After raising the sails, I got underway. The wind was brisk, gusting to about 25 knots. As long as I was able to feed the mainsheet into the block, which sat on the centerboard trunk, I had no trouble spilling wind from the main. But round-bottom boats heel easily, so I had to be quick.

It was all working out fine, and sailing in freshwater is always a treat. But reality intruded. The next time the boat was hit by a strong gust, I eased the main — but the sheet got jammed in the block! The boat heeled sharply to port and the gunwale went under! It was capsizing, so I jumped clear so as not to get trapped in the rigging beneath the surface. After the boat flipped upside down, I swam back to her and held on.

Fortunately, a small cabin cruiser saw me go over. They came and took me aboard. But a small thing like a jammed block could have killed me.

Two men from the rental office eventually came out to right the sailboat. I couldn't resist the opportunity for some bizarre humor and yelled, "I've still got 20 minutes left!"

They didn't laugh. Fortunately, all I lost was my deposit and 20 minutes of sailing time.

Ron Caravello
West Palm Beach, Florida

Ron — There are a number of ways in which a line can get jammed in a block. Was it a problem with an 'asshole' in the line, a bad lead, or a problem with the block itself? A diagram showing how it happened would have been cool.

Your bailing out of the boat reminds us of the only time we've done it. We were flying the chute up the Delta on our first Olson 30 when the boat started heeling way over — even though it had nothing to do with the wind. We'd run aground and the boat was being driven over on her side by the forward momentum. Not wanting to be trapped below the surface when the main flopped over, we dove into the water and swam for our lives. We surfaced about 30 feet away, surprised to realize the water was only knee-deep. As our crew shouted for us to get back onto the boat, as she might sail away, we casually walked over to the masthead, which was only inches above the surface, and undid the shackle on the spinnaker. Then we walked over to the bow, got down on our knees, and bounced/floated the Olson back to deep water. Hilarious.

We assumed that the most danger you were in was from what had to be the near-freezing water of the 6,700-ft-high lake. But we just checked, and the August 17th water temperature was 70 degrees.


About this time of year, many sailors are thinking about cruising south and thus thinking about installing SSB radios on their boats. When I upgraded from my old Islander 30 MkII to a C&C 38, the new-to-me boat came with an insulated rod backstay, but no radio. So it was only natural that I wanted to install a SSB.

I’d had a Ham license when I was a kid years ago, and knew a few things about radios and electronics, but my license expired decades ago, and my knowledge base was more than a little dated. Luckily, it wasn’t very hard to study the license questions on the Web and get a new amateur radio license. I also got marine radio licenses, operator and station, online from the FCC site.

My next step was looking for the right equipment. Based on both reputation and affordability, I began looking for a used Icom M710 with an external antenna tuner. I found one on Craigslist for $600.

I read all I could about proper installation procedures, and found a lot of contradictory and misleading information, especially concerning the antenna’s associated ‘ground plane’ or ‘counterpoise’ system. Some say you need an expensive grounding plate bolted to the outside of your boat below the waterline. Others say you should connect the tuner’s ground lug through flat braided cable to the engine block and/or keel bolts. Others say never do the latter because of potential corrosion issues. Still others swear by the ‘KISS SSB’ solution, while naysayers — who have probably never tried it — claim it's all hocus-pocus.

The thought of drilling another hole in the hull to install an expensive brick that would collect barnacles and induce drag didn't appeal to me. Nor did I want to do anything that might cause galvanic corrosion. So I went the 'KISS' route.

I saw a YouTube video that showed the KISS SSB system to be a bunch of 14-gauge marine-grade wires, cut to specific lengths to match the quarter wavelengths of commonly used frequencies, looped back and forth in a bundle, and then sealed in a plastic tube about eight feet long. I had several partially full spools of marine wire left over from old boat projects, so I decided to try to make my own ‘KISS system'.

I cut several lengths of wire, each sized to exactly one-quarter the wavelengths I planned to use. These were the 80-, 40-, 20-, 17-, 15- and 12-meter Ham bands, the 4-1, 4-2, 8-1, 8-2, and the emergency marine bands as listed in Latitude’s ‘Idiot’s Guide to Marine SSB’. I actually cut each wire 18 inches short of the computed length to compensate for an 18-inch length of cable that connected the antenna tuner's ground lug to the wire bundle. I ended up with a bunch of wires looped back and forth to form a bundle about 1½ inches in diameter and about eight feet long. I wanted to fit them into a plastic tube to make it look more professional, but balked when the local hardware store wanted $50 for an 8-ft length of plastic tubing. I chose to just cinch the wire bundle together with tie wraps, and suspended the ‘big snake’ below the deck, hanging from the stanchion bolts.

The first test of my installation was a scheduled marine band contact with another boater in the marina. Unlike what Gordon West said to expect in his excellent treatise on SSB communications, when I depressed the transmit button and spoke into the microphone, my house lights didn’t dim, my bilge alarms didn’t go off, everything was just . . . normal. The system worked fine.

I later connected with a Ham in New Mexico, where my signal was 5x9 — i.e., loud and clear — with good audio quality. Later that day I contacted a Ham in Tokyo, who also said my signal was 5x9. I made a test with the Tokyo Ham, reducing my power from 150 watts to 60 watts. My signal was still 5x9. I further reduced power to 20 watts, and my signal strength dropped to 5x7 — still perfectly readable. My simple system was working well.

The bottom line for me is to keep it simple. You don’t need a metal brick bolted to the outside of your hull. You don’t need to connect the RF ground to your keel bolts or engine, introducing potential galvanic corrosion problems. You do need a decent marine-grade transceiver with an automatic antenna tuner. For the ‘counterpoise’ or ‘ground plane’ you just need a bundle of marine-grade wires cut to one-quarter wavelength for each band you plan to use. I was able to build my own because I had a ton of spare wire and connectors and know a little bit about radio and electronics. If I had to buy all the wire new, especially if I wanted to put it inside a plastic tube, the cost would exceed that of the KISS SSB commercial system, and it would be simpler to just buy the KISS system.

I have absolutely no affiliation with KISS, but I appreciate their philosophy of just Keep It Simple!

Bill Rathbun
Vector, C&C 38-2

Bill — Ground planes for SSB/Ham radio antennas — that's a topic that's sure to result in different opinions in the radio world. Having not used a KISS system, all we can say is that it might be the cleanest and easiest system to install, and that lots of boatowners say it works well for them. And at $149, it might be wiser to buy one than to try to make one from scratch as you did.

It's a little off topic, but your letter serves as an excellent reminder for those about to head south on boats equipped with SSB radios. If you haven't used your SSB radio in a while, it's a great idea to give it a bit of a workout to make sure everything works as it should, and for you to review your basic and emergency radio procedures. For your convenience, here's
Latitude's list of emergency marine bands.

2182, the distress channel

4125 (4S)

6215 (6S)

8291 (8S)

12,290 (12S)

16,420 (16S)

Copy it in big type, laminate it, and keep it by your radio.


I loved the July 31 'Lectronic piece about Andrew Vik aboard his Islander 36 Geja getting an 'up close and personal' look at the Super Scooper firefighting aircraft while he was anchored at Brna Bay, Croatia. As I write this, we have a Bombardier Super Scooper based here at Lake Tahoe. Within a week of its arrival, it was used on the Kyburz fire along Highway 50. Thanks to the plane, the fire was kept to about 75 acres in the very rugged terrain. But if anyone comes up here during fire season, they might get to watch our own local 'air show'.

Candy Morganson
Infidel, Swan 44
Alameda / Incline Village, Nevada

Readers — The photo Vik took also appears in this month's Changes. There are some other places where boats and planes share the same space, such as Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, in the US Virgins and much of the Pacific Northwest.


In the July issue, Mark Brady of Humboldt Bay wrote asking for information about swing keel boats, which he would need to get through shallow water to his backyard dock. He might be interested in a Kadey-Krogen 38, a sturdy cutter rig with a swing keel. Ours crossed the Atlantic twice and sailed extensively through the Caribbean and Europe under previous ownership. The K-K 38s are primarily East Coast boats because swing keels are needed in the Chesapeake, Florida and the Bahamas. There’s a Facebook page called Krogen 38 Cutter Owner’s Group, and he can Google several magazine articles/boat reviews on the design.

Frances Garrett
Dorian, Kadey-Krogen 38
Long Beach, CA and Madisonville, LA


Mark Brady asked about swing keel sailboats. A very good friend of ours in Fort Lauderdale, who is also an excellent sailor, absolutely loves his Ted Hood-designed Wauquiez 38 swing keel boat.

Peter Hartmann
Ahaluna, 52-ft Michel DeRidder sloop
Ensenada, Mexico

Readers — Back in the 1980s, when the Southern Ocean Racing Conference (SORC) was one of the pinnacles of ocean racing, the late, great sailing legend Ted Hood regularly competed in a number of swing keel boats named Robin that he designed. He did extremely well, even when his boat was primarily crewed by family members. A Ted Hood-designed shallow-draft boat is one with a very good pedigree.


Our boat is in the Med, a few klicks down from the Canal du Midi in the South of France, so we like to visit there and kibitz with the Brits and other English-speakers going through the locks. We love to see boats flying American flags. An American cruiser we met there with 'Schengen issues' asked about our experiences with the second step in our obtaining a French long-stay visa. As Latitude readers might recall, the first step in the process was applying for the LSV at our local embassy in the United States, which for us was San Francisco. This got us a visa sticker in our passports.

We then had three months to complete the second step, which was, once we got to France, to present our documents, our money and ourselves for physicals. One requirement of the second step was proving we had an address in France. To that end we provided them with a photo of our Joy of Tahoe — with the Statute of Liberty in New York Harbor in the background! — along with an unpaid five-month marina agreement from Cherbourg. It's hard to believe, but the officials accepted it. So we got the LSV pasted into our passports the same day as we passed our physicals. We are now happy legal American cruisers in the Schengen Area.

We spent last winter in Cartagena, Spain. That was technically illegal because, not having a LSV at the time, we were supposed to have left the Schengen Area after 90 days.

For this summer, we secured a five-month contract at the marina in Gruissan, France. Gruissan is like a very windy Napa/Sonoma, with chateaus and 1,500-year-old ruins. Our new prefecture is at Carcassonne, the World Heritage Site just 30 minutes away. The people at the prefecture took our 105-euros-each fee and papers, and gave us an email address to find out when our LSV would be ready. Three weeks later the email arrived. At that point we drove up to the prefecture and were presented with our thick plastic EU Schengen French visa identity cards for our second LSV year. They also advised us that we could apply online for another LSV three months before the current one expires. That's the best news yet! But we'll have to see if it works.

We and several other US cruisers we know have chosen the legal way to cruise in the Schengen Area countries, which is most of Europe. On the other hand, we have yet to hear of a single Aussie cruiser — and there are a lots of them over here — who has bothered to pay any attention to the Schengen regulations. This is also true with a lot of US cruisers. If they get asked about overstaying their visas, they say they plan on sailing to a non-Schengen Area country, such as Turkey, then return to a different Schengen Area port. So far it's been working for them, but it would make us too nervous.

US cruisers who are thinking about coming over to Europe also need to remember a totally different issue: the Value Added Tax (VAT) deferment for boats that have not already paid VAT. There is also the situation in Spain, which tries to enforce the concept that if you keep a boat in that country for 183 days, it has residency, and thus the very expensive VAT is due.

We're not sure if the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca are still on the rivers and canals of Europe, but we hope they are enjoying these countries as much as we are.

P.S. I couldn't help but include the tourist shot of Joy in lavender fields and the Nimes Roman Viaduct Pont de Gard in Provence.

Walt & Joy Kass
Joy of Tahoe, Lagoon 440 #121
Lake Tahoe / Port Gruissan, France

Walt and Joy — The Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca enjoyed 2½ months of river and canal cruising in the Netherlands, Belgium and France, including 18 days in Paris. We enjoyed it very much, especially since Europe is on sale — except for fuel and transportation. That said, by the end of the 2½ months we were lusting for the greater excitement and adventure of ocean sailing. But we'll be back early next summer.

The Schengen Area 90-day limit for American and other foreign boatowners is, as we've said before, crazy. It costs Schengen Area countries lots of much-needed income, and as you note, Aussies and lots of others are simply ignoring the law because they can.


Yanmar continuous duty marine diesels are routinely bench tested under 100-percent load for 10,000 hours. Even World War II Detroit diesels will run 20,000 to 25,000 hours between overhauls — if they have been properly operated and maintained. That's why they remain the world's most popular marine diesel.

Diesels are designed to run under 70 to 80 percent of maximum load. With super-clean fuel and strict adherence to oil/filter changes, industrial/fishing boat diesels commonly run 20,000 to 25,000 hours before being overhauled. The problem with running diesels under light loads — as sailors often do — is that it leaves carbon on the valves and allows moisture to build up. Both of those lead to premature engine failure.

The other problem is that diesels for recreational boats don't have robust cooling systems, and running a diesel at the correct temperature is critical.

For me, it's easy to tell whether a diesel has been well maintained. If it has fresh hoses, belts and shiny paint, it suggests someone who cares. Another good sign is if an 'Engineering Log' has been maintained throughout the diesel's life. That's routine for commercial users, but rarely done by recreational sailors. Another hint is if the diesel engine owner has a 'heat gun' to check temperatures over the engine's cooling and exhaust system. But I give too much away.

Peter I. Berman
Author, Outfitting the Offshore Cruising Sailboat

Readers — The 'heat gun' Peter doesn't want 'to give too much away' about is actually a laser infrared thermometer, a device that allows you to take the temperature of things from a distance. Home Depot sells any number of models from $40 to $100. The reason you might want a heat gun is that overheating is probably the number one destroyer of diesels, and if you get a baseline temperature for critical areas of the engine, you can tell if something is starting to overheat, which is likely indicative of something being clogged or about to fail. Heat guns can also help isolate where the overheating problem is.

When using a heat gun to get baseline numbers, and later to see how the engine is doing, you need the engine to be in good running order, meaning having clean fuel, a clean water strainer, an unobstructed exhaust elbow, a new impeller, and the engine operating at the correct temperature.

Where should you take readings with the heat gun? 1) At the raw water intake pump, as the temperature readings you may get later on in the engine might vary slightly depending on whether raw water is icy from the Arctic or warm from the Caribbean. 2) At the heat exchanger raw-water outlet to the transmission cooler. 3) At the raw-water end of the heat exchanger. 4) The wet side of the exhaust elbow is a critical place for taking the temperature. The purpose of the exhaust elbow is to cool the hot exhaust gases so they can run through the rubber hoses inside the boat without melting the hoses. If you only use your diesel for short periods of time — as is the case with so many sailors — exhaust elbows tend to load up with rusty scale and carbon. A narrowing or complete blockage of the exhaust elbow will cause disastrous overheating of the engine. 5) The dry side of the exhaust manifold is another critical spot, as it tells how hot the dry exhaust gases are. If the difference in temperature between the wet and dry sides begins to increase, you should suspect that the injection elbow is beginning to clog.


Yanmar diesels like to be run hard, period. Yanmar states that a properly run and maintained engine should go 12,000 hours or more before it needs to be opened up. The 10,000 hours for the publisher's Leopard 45 cat 'ti Profligate are not particularly unusual for boats in second-tier charter fleets, so keep doing what you've been doing. If you are worried about the engines, run an oil and compression test. You should also check what prop you are using and make sure you can get to the rated rpm of 3,800 under load. I've found that lots of Leopard 45s have the wrong prop.

A couple of years ago, I had the Yanmar diesel in my generator rebuilt because it was starting to lose power. Basically, it needed a ring job. When the mechanic opened up the engine, he asked how I ran it because the insides "looked new." I answered that I always ran it hard. In fact, I would often throw on an extra air conditioner just to keep the engine under proper load.

The 2,500 rpm that the Wanderer has been running his Yanmars on 'ti Profligate is not particularly high. I try for 2600-2800 when using both engines, and a bit higher when using one.

I have always felt that catamaran engines should last longer than monohull engines. When you need less power on a cat, you run one engine hard instead of loafing on two. When you need more power, you run both hard. That way you are always putting them under a good load. A monohull designer always has this problem: If the engine is small enough that it is always well-loaded, it won't get the boat up to hull speed in challenging conditions. If it is big enough to do hull speed in challenging conditions, most of the time it will only be loafing.

Tim Schaff
Jetstream, Leopard 45 cat
Tortola, British Virgin Islands


I'm a longtime reader, and did the 2000 Ha-Ha with my Beneteau OC400 Moondance. I was also a marine engineer in the Army, which had a lot of vessels with a lot of hours on their diesels. In particular, generators that ran for weeks at a time. So I've been around diesels a long time, including diesels on boats I've owned. With that introduction, I can tell you that a diesel wants to be run hard — at 90 percent of capacity — and regularly. And it wants to be run with clean fuel and the oil changed regularly. If you do that, you can expect 15,000 hours.

Larry Watkins
Moondance, Beneteau OC400
Long Beach

Larry — We understand the advice, but situations can be complicated. For example, what are people supposed to do who keep their boats on the hard in places like Mexico for six months — if not six years — where it is not possible to run the diesel(s) on a regular basis? Similarly, most boats in the Northeast are kept out of the water, with their engines not getting run, for seven or eight months a year.

In the case of
Profligate and 'ti Profligate, when we leave them for any amount of time, we hire people to run the engines for 20 minutes each week. But it's hard to run them under high load without the marina folks getting mad for putting such strain on their docks. Any suggestions?


I liked the 'Lectronic piece on the Wanderer's strange nautical dreams. He's probably supposed to epoxy the floor of his garage before it floods.

In the fall of 2006 we were looking forward to another season of cruising in Mexico with our Swan 65 ketch Cassiopeia. But then I was diagnosed with lymphoma. My oncologist, who has a very dry sense of humor, slapped me in the hospital immediately and began chemo treatments. After several months of spending a lot of time in the hospital, I mentioned to the doctor that I was repeatedly having a vivid dream in which I was trying to run toward our boat, which in the dream was in Puerto Vallarta, but I was in mud up to my knees, and the harder I ran, the harder it was to get to the boat.

"You're not very creative, are you?" was my oncologist's response.

Nonetheless, we were back in Mexico and Puerto Vallarta for a great 2007-2009 sailing season.

I am a cancer survivor and have been cancer-free for nine healthy years now.

Rennie Waxlax
ex-Cassiopeia, Swan 65
San Pedro

Rennie — Even if you and Cassiopeia weren't veterans of several Ha-Ha's, we'd be delighted that you're in good health.


For months last summer and fall, I dreamed about some broken-down docks that were barely floating. I'd see these docks over and over again in my sleep, and it never made any sense.

This past winter I helped a friend find his first boat, one he'd lost track of years ago. When we finally found her, she was in a rather rundown marina with poor docks. As we walked down her dock, being careful to stay on the high side to keep from falling in, I looked to my right — and there was a dock identical to the one in my dreams! We later learned that the then-current owner of the boat had passed away right before my dreams started. Strange, but true.

Nancy Bockelman
Santa Rosa


My recurring dream is that I'm on a sailboat traveling down city streets — I'm not sure how the resistance of the keel against the pavement is overcome or how balance is maintained — and I'm approaching a cross street or red light. But I have no way to stop the boat to avoid cross traffic. Sometimes I try to sail in circles to avoid a collision until the light turns green!

Murray McLeod
Addiction, Newport 30

Murray — We've had a similar dream a number of times.


When I was a kid, I read and re-read all the sailing magazines and books I could get my hands on. This included everything written by the renowned Eric Hiscock. For many years, including well into my late teens, I had a recurring short dream. I would be standing on a barren bluff, hundreds of feet above a slate gray sea, as the Hiscocks' Wanderer III sailed by below. That was it. There was no fear, no falls and no drama. To the best of my recollection, each of these dreams — and I had them many times — was identical. That's what strikes me as strange.

John Tebbetts
Ichi Ban, Yamaha 33
Vavau, Tonga


I had a very vivid dream about halfway into the ’89 Transpac. The power of the dream and the difficulty in shaking it off were so strong that the dream is perfectly clear to me to this day. And I rarely remember any of my dreams for more than a few minutes after waking.

In short, I was off-watch and asleep. Somehow I managed to leave the boat in order to attend a really big party. But I couldn't enjoy myself at the party very much, as I was really worried about getting back to the boat for my shift on the 3-6 a.m. dogwatch. I awoke in a state of panic about having not returned to the boat — having done the one thing that worries me the most, letting my shipmates down.

Upon putting my feet down on the cabin sole, the wave of relief I felt at having not shirked my duty was sooooo very strong! I sure didn't want to be the guy who didn't show up for his dogwatch.

A few minutes later, of course, while checking out the cockpit situation, I came to the realization that for the time being there was no place other than being aboard, and had a bit of a laugh at myself.

Daniel Weyant
The Shark, Sonoma 30
Waikiki YC, Honolulu, Hawaii


Along with a lot of other really good information in Michael Daley's July-issue letter, he stated that you need a 120-volt power source to charge an iPad. This is not true.

What messes people up is they often try to charge an iPad, or other tablet, with too small a cigarette lighter-powered charger. Some only put out 1 amp at 12 volts, or even less. Some put out as little as 500 milliamps or 6 watts. The smaller output charger sometimes will run an iPad — but not charge it — and sometimes it won't be recognized by the iPad at all.

To charge an iPad off a 12-volt source, you need a charger that draws 2.1 amps or better — so 25.2 watts or better. These are easy to find for a little over $10, and I've had them work flawlessly, even with my very small 350wh battery on my trailerable Nimble 20.

Bass Sears
Turnstone, Nimble 20
Hailey, Idaho

Bass — Well that certainly explains a lot of the trouble we've sometimes had trying to charge the iPad on our boat. What we don't understand is why the charger manufacturers don't do a better job of explaining there are less and more powerful chargers for devices with USB slots. We didn't know this until we recently bought a dual USB output charger. The top USB slot puts out enough power to charge the iPad, while the lower USB slot puts out only enough power to charge an iPhone.


I can tell you about the sailbag you ran a photo of in the August 10 'Lectronic. Before Jim DeWitt was an artist, he was a sailmaker, and at some point he and Don Peters were partners.

I remember having them recut the mainsail for my Thunderbird Andante in the late 1970s. Having sails recut was something we thrifty sailors did with slightly blown out sails back then. Boy, does this bring back a lot of memories.

Laraine Salmon
Bewitched, Merit 25


The sail bag is from the loft of Jim DeWitt, now a well-known marine painter.
I have several DeWitt sails from Santa Cruz 50s and earlier, including sailboats like the one in the photo. And yes, from the 1970s. It's good to remember master craftsmen such as Jim DeWitt and Pete Schoonmaker.

Lani Spund
Kokopelli², Santa Cruz 52

Lani — Technically, the sailbag was from the Don Peters / Jim DeWitt partnership. As for the 'Pete' you refer to, we're sure you're thinking of Pete Sutter, who was the longtime owner of Sutter Sails in Sausalito.


The logo is from when Jim DeWitt partnered with Don Peters Sails. Our family used DeWitt Sails from the early 1960s on our Cal 20, Cal 28 and Cal 34. That was when the sailmaker would actually sail with you to make sure the sails were right! We even had Jim do a painting of our Cal 20 when we won the MORC Pacific Coast Championships in the early 1960s.

John Frazier
Current Asset, Islander 30 MkII
San Leandro


I'm 77 and had a Catalina 22 named Helios from 1973 to 1978 with DeWitt & Peters Sails. We raced in the Catalina 22 Nationals in Seattle around 1975. Jim DeWitt sailed in the regatta on a boat using his sails, and I think he got second or third out of 30 boats. As members of the Richmond YC, we got to know Jim better over the years. I had his sails on our Santana 28 Gusto. That bag brings back memories!

Carl Bauer


I first encountered DeWitt & Peters Sailmakers when they were in an old World War II building in Richmond in 1971. My dad and I were sailing our International 110 Ad Lib in the 1971 Nationals — the last time they were held on the Bay. I was all of 15 at the time. We needed some work on our sails, and didn't know that we'd find ourselves in the presence a future Bay Area sailing icon, Jocelyn Nash. But she was the one who helped us.

Flash forward four years, and I wouldn’t have won the 1975 110 Nationals without my DeWitt spinnaker, which was wicked fast. In the small world department, current 110 sailing buddies Millie Biller and Dave West were young kids working at DeWitt in 1975, and may well have had a hand in building my chute. I think I still have that sail tucked away somewhere.

Chris Waddell
Ad Lib, International 110


The bag, of course, is from the Richmond loft of Jim DeWitt and Don Peters before they updated their logo to a more colorful one. In the early 1970s, my dad had them build a main for our Trintella, and later added a storm jib that saw frequent use when we traversed the Circle.

I remember applying for a job at the loft one summer, but since the bus from North Berkeley took about an hour, it was decided that I should stay closer to home. So I just hung out at the Cal Sailing Club instead.

Nick Gibbens
Shenanigans, Express 27
San Francisco YC


Hang on to that sailbag, it could be a collector's item! Here's the story behind it. My name is Jim DeWitt and my partner was Don Peters. We made sails in Richmond years and years and years ago. I'm 85 now, and I was a kid when I started making sails. At that time, sails were made of Wamsutta, a long-fiber cotton, and hand-roped with tarred hemp. I made sails for 34 years!

Bay Area sailors who worked at DeWitt & Peters Sails as youngsters in the 1960s and 1970s included John Kostecki, Tom Wylie, Mike Herlihy, Jim Warfield and Billy Green. We were well-known for both big-boat and dinghy racing sails, especially on the West Coast.

Sailing legend Jocelyn Nash worked for us for 20 years. She was my right hand. She also crewed for me when I won the North American Men’s Sailing Championship (Mallory Cup) in Annapolis in 1963.

In 1983 we sold the loft to Sobstad, which later sold it to Quantum. The Quantum loft remains active in Pt. Richmond.

Here's how I got started making sails. After high school, while studying art for six years at two of the finest schools — Arts and Crafts in Oakland, and Art Center School in Pasadena — I made sails for myself and friends. It morphed into a full-fledged business. After art school I set up my art studio in the sail loft, and was both an artist and a sailmaker. When I got out of the sailmaking business, roughly 25 years later, I became a full-time artist. You can see my artwork on my website

Above is an example of my artwork showing John Kostecki in a Star boat; I think I did this in the 80s.

Jim DeWitt



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