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November 2015

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I was amused by the October 14 item in 'Lectronic about the Pitzer College Student Senate declining the charter of a student yacht club. It reminds me of the time in 1974 when a total engineering nerd — that would be me — was elected commodore of the California State University at Northridge Sailing Club. Our club was the place you went when no cool clubs would have you. It cost $5 a semester, now up to $25, to join. The club's mission was for everybody to have fun and teach sailing, in that order.

We ran an annual fun regatta and invited all the Southern California college sailing clubs to compete in our club's Coronado 15s. The 1974 Regatta was won by none other than Harvey Mudd's Sailing Club. Harvey Mudd is, ahem, a Claremont College, just like Pitzer.

Like the FBI, the Pitzer College Student Senate has no detectable sense of humor. Or irony. Perhaps any remaining fun-loving Pitzer students should consider transferring to Harvey Mudd.

Bill Willcox
Shanghai, China


I loved the editor's take on the Student Senate at Pitzer College, annual tuition $64,000, denying the instatement of a student yacht club on the grounds the title 'yacht club' is associated with an activity considered 'exclusive'. He wrote as follows:

"One would only hope that the Pitzer senators will read some of the work by socialist/anarchist George Orwell before they graduate. The author of the brilliant Down and Out in London and Paris, which is much better than Animal Farm, was not only a terrific social critic, he wasn't afraid to call out his own side for its stupidity, as in the haunting quote, 'So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don't even know that fire is hot.' He was referring specifically to you, senators."

Beautiful! I only fault the publisher for being too nice to the student senators.

David Wilson

David — They're kids. It might take them some time, but they'll learn.


In the October Latitude you had a letter from a Steve Little searching for Brian McGarry. The reason was that back in 1976, McGarry took Little, then a novice sailor, aboard his 17,000-lb yawl Fiona for a voyage from Cape Town to Salvador, Brazil. In his letter, Little said he was hoping to make contact with McGarry, and hoped that McGarry still "stood well in this planet."

I am the Brian McGarry that Little refers to, and would appreciate it if you would pass along my email address. It's 39 years later, I'm still around, and it would be good to talk to him again. I'm 71, live in San Francisco, and have a 25-year-old daughter named Fiona. The last I heard, my former yawl was in the South Pacific.

One clarification. My Fiona was built in 1912, not 1905.

Brian McGarry
San Francisco

Brian — Great hearing from you. We've passed your email along.


I understand that rent is outrageously high in the Bay Area, and that many people would love to live aboard a boat and not pay rent. But I don't think Max Ebb should, as he did in the October issue, be advising your readers on how to 'sneak aboard'. The slips and facilities are leased to the boatowners for a specific purpose and for a specific period of time. A person who is a sneakaboard is breaching the terms of their contract. Is that the standard of ethics Max wants to teach our young sailors?

In addition to the ethics of sneaking aboard, these people are being subsidized by legal liveaboards. I pay an extra $200 per month to be a liveaboard. I am provided water, garbage collection, showers and restrooms, maintenance, pump-out stations, parking and 24-hour security for the extra fee. The cost of providing the services for the sneakaboards is paid by the legal liveaboards.

I made application for a liveaboard slip at Marina Bay in Richmond on January 30, 2015, and was put on the waiting list. I called once a week and got a slip in about three weeks. The length of the waiting list depends, in part, on what size slip is wanted, the location of the marina, and the condition of the docks and facilities. Some of the least expensive liveaboard slips have a long waiting list. But I do not think it takes years. Has Max asked every marina in the Bay about the availability of liveaboard slips for various lengths of boats?

I am sure Max has a response. Maybe his sneakaboard secrets were just a joke. But I read them three times and they do not read as if made in jest.

David Hammer

David — As we explained in the October 19 'Lectronic, and in this month's Sightings, Max wasn't joking. He just had it all wrong.

To be honest, we — who started
Latitude as sneakaboards in 1976 before the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) declared boats to be "landfill" and mandated a maximum of 10% liveaboards in any marina — had it wrong, too. Among other things, it's no longer 1976. We explain the other errors in our knowledge and reasoning in this month's Sightings.

For a while, we also assumed that just as cities are making it easier for people to live in places or in ways that weren't previously allowed, the same ought to be true for marinas. We've come to realize that it's a little more complicated a subject than we'd initially thought, and we're no longer so sure.


I want to express my concern that it was irresponsible for the Max Ebb column to advocate 'sneaking aboard'. It does a real disservice to the local boating community to advocate lying and cheating.

Stephen Orosz
Harbormaster, Marina Bay Yacht Harbor

Stephen — We've come to absolutely agree that it was irresponsible for us to publish the Max Ebb column advocating sneaking aboard, a belief that we expressed in the October 19 'Lectronic and in this month's Sightings. We were ignorant of the facts and not very smart.

We also understand your belief, as a harbormaster, that if someone lies about living aboard, they are more likely to lie about whether they use a pump-out station as opposed to pumping poop directly into the Bay.

Leaving the liveaboard question completely aside for a moment, and entirely beside the sneakaboard matter, the issue of "lying" reminds us of our philosophy classes at Berkeley. One of our favorite philosophers was Diogenes of Sinope, who lived in Greece about 350 BC. He was famous for walking around carrying a lamp in the middle of the day. Why? He was expressing the futility of "searching for an honest man."

Diogenes is regarded as the arcehtype of the Cynic school of philosophy. The purpose of life for Cynics was to live in virtue, meaning in agreement with nature. As reasoning creatures, they believed that people could gain happiness by rigorous training and by living in a way that was natural for humans, rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, sex and fame. In other words, eschewing the Kardashian way.

We think there are a lot fewer Cynics around in modern times than there were in the heyday of Greece. Take President Johnson. He used the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which was based on a complete fabrication, to conduct the bloody Vietnam War without actually declaring a war. And after the recent Democratic presidential debate, an independent organization did some fact-checking. They reported that more than half of the claims made by the candidates were not true. We didn't see the figures for the Republican presidential debate, but we imagine they had at least as many 'stretches'.

Do we not live in a culture where everybody seems to lie about everything? Michael Connelly, who writes some of our favorite crime fiction, had a brilliant start to a book titled The Brass Verdict:

"Everybody lies.

"Cops lie. Lawyers lie. Witnesses lie. The victims lie.

"A trial is a contest of lies."

Ain't that the truth! Anybody who has been to court will tell you.

Unions tell whopping lies to try to get higher wages. Management tells whopping lies to try to restrain wage increases. 'All about me' people lie about needing service pets. People looking for free parking in the The City lie about being disabled. Individuals, government, institutions, interest groups — they all lie. Diogenes could walk around with a searchlight these days and still have a hard time finding many honest people.

That's why when applicants tell you they want a berth at Marina Bay but aren't going to live aboard, you don't necessarily believe them.


Yesterday a friend emailed me to say I should look at the October Changes. It's been years since I've looked at Latitude, so I was surprised to see the mention of the cruising guide to the coast of Colombia that Randy and I created. I agree with Latitude, as I tell people who still contact me for our guide, that while some of the details have changed, the GPS coordinates and the location of the anchorages haven't.

You guys mentioned that you were going to re-publish our guide in the November issue, which is fine with me. Colombia is a great place to visit. Those interested in another good source of information about Colombia should go to the free Yahoo group Cruisers Network Online. It's at Our guide is in a file folder with this group.

I have spent several hours today reading and flipping through the pages of the October Latitude. It sure brings back many memories of Randy and me sailing around San Francisco and later cruising the Caribbean for 12 years.

We sold our Moorings 50 Pizazz 10 years ago and moved onto land, having designed and built a house on Bonaire. We love island living in the tropics. Bonaire has only one traffic signal, and it says: 'Stop For Pizza'! Six years ago we bought a Corsair 750 trimaran for daysailing and racing. We won four Bonaire Regattas with her! More recently we began traveling on cruise ships to various parts of the world.

Now for the bad news. Randy passed away in July last year after a short battle against Stage IV melanoma. I continue to live in Bonaire full-time, miss Randy very much, yet remember all of our years together. I will continue to travel.

I just subscribed to the digital version of Latitude, as snail mail takes almost a month to reach Bonaire. But I think it's great that the publisher has been so successful with the magazine. It just proves that working hard and playing hard can be very rewarding.

Lourae Kenoffel
ex-Pizazz, Moorings 50

Lourae — We're terribly sorry to hear about the passing of Randy.

As you'd already let us print your guide more than a decade ago, we were confident that you wouldn't mind if we did it again. But we're glad to get the confirmation. The first half of it appears in this month's


My wife Audrey and I did the Baja Ha-Ha in 2013, and since then have poked our way from Mexico to Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia, and are now in Aruba. We've been meaning to send updates, but you know how it is when you're having fun cruising.

The reason we finally got around to updating you is that we've seen your references and requests for information on the passage from Panama to the Eastern Caribbean, frequently considered one of the more difficult in the world of cruising. Since we just completed that passage in July, we thought you might be interested in some current insights.

First, we'd like to assure anyone thinking about doing it that it can be done safely — if you are determined and patient. In our two years of cruising before this passage we didn't meet a single cruiser who had done it. And virtually every cruiser we told that we were heading east across the top of South America told us that we were crazy, and that we should go clockwise to the Western Caribbean.

Second, if you take the route across the top of South America, you have to be very patient and willing to wait for a good weather window. We left the beautiful San Blas Islands much too soon in order to take advantage of an unexpected window to sail to Cartagena. We later waited in Santa Marta, Colombia, for six weeks (!) before being able to continue on to Aruba.

Third, watch the weather but, as always, keep in mind that GRIB files will underestimate the strength of the wind and waves. We left Santa Marta with wind forecasts ranging from 15-25 knots for the three nights we expected to be underway. In reality, we saw gusts up to 40 knots and very strong opposing currents — especially as we got close to Aruba.

Finally, regarding stopping or anchoring along the north coast of Colombia, there are a few isolated places to anchor, but we'd suggest that if the conditions are even tolerable, you keep going. As Latitude has already indicated, this can be one of the roughest passages in the region, and the weather can change, mainly for the worse, very quickly. With this in mind, if you've been patient enough to wait for a good window, take advantage of that window and get to your destination as quickly as you can.

Our passage from Santa Marta to Aruba on our Beneteau 473 was a little rough and uncomfortable, but the conditions were never unsafe. We're now in beautiful Aruba, patiently waiting out the storm season before heading east to Bonaire, then north to the Leeward Islands.

Richard and Audrey James
Celebration, Beneteau 473
Baja Ha-Ha 2013

Richard and Audrey — Great to hear from you. We like all your tips, particularly 'if the going is good, don't stop!'

The one thing we'd emphasize is that there are more windows during the transition times of year — May and June, and mid-October to mid-December — than the rest of the year when it can blow 25 knots on the nose for weeks on end. So when Doña and crew were taking
Profligate from Mexico to Antigua after the 2004 Ha-Ha, we insisted that they had to go as swiftly as possible, because if they didn't make Antigua by the middle of December, it might be months before they could get there. Indeed, the whole Eastern Caribbean season would be in jeopardy. Certainly there was some weather luck involved, but, as Doña recalls, she and her crew made it from Panama to Antigua, a distance of about 1,200 miles, in less than eight days. And that included a mandatory overnight in Cartagena.


A reader wrote in asking about good centerboard boats. Back in 1966 I crewed for my grandfather on Indigo, his new 47-ft Ted Hood yawl. She was an early Robin design — Hood would go on to design a lot of Robins for himself — and had a fancy centerboard that went up and down as well as fore and aft.

My grandpa sailed on the Great Lakes in the summer and around the Bahamas in the winter. He went between the locales via the Erie Barge Canal, so shoal draft and a centerboard had been a must.

I did the 1966 Bermuda Race with my grandpa, and we finished at the top of our division. The overall winner was a then-brand-new Cal 40. After Bermuda, we entered the Transatlantic Race to Denmark. Three days into that race the centerboard sheared off from metal fatigue, leaving us no choice but to drop out. I remember grandpa getting on the ship-to-shore radio and talking to Ted Hood about it.

Two years later Indigo had a new bronze centerboard and did the Transtlantic Race to Germany. She finished first overall! My grandfather, S.K. 'Scrubby' Wellman, was 78 at the time.

Ted Hood would agree that centerboards and swing keels are great — when they work.

Josh Pryor
Ruby, 64-ft steel sloop
San Francisco


It's 10 days after the conclusion of the SoCal Ta-Ta and it's been a pretty rough trip back up to San Francisco Bay for the Roberts 44 Gypsy Soul. I'm curious as what weather forecasting service — or what? — the Grand Poobah uses.

At this point Gypsy Soul has made it as far north as Monterey. The skipper and crew headed north from there early yesterday, but met with such bad conditions that they turned back. The crew then jumped into a rental car for the trip back to the Bay.

Wendy Rybicki
Gypsy Soul, Bruce Roberts Offshore 44

Wendy — We use all kinds of weather services depending on where we are and what kind of weather we're concerned about. For the big-picture view of the world and regions, we like For an overview of more specific areas — such as the coast of California and the Pacific Coast of Mexico — and for very early indications of possible tropical storm threats in Mexico and the Caribbean, we like Passage Weather. We think EEB.mike is best for Mexican hurricanes as they are happening. We like, too. For the Ha-Ha, we use Commander's Weather. Coming up the Central California coast, we'd probably use a combination of NOAA and Passage Weather.

The thing to remember about bashing up the coast of Central California, like bashing up the coast of Baja, is that you should think twice before taking off when the wind is on the nose, as it usually is, and much over 17 knots and seas over six feet. And if it's over 22 knots, just forget it — unless you need to prove something to yourself. If you insist on sailing into those conditions, you'll make slow progress while beating up the crew and boat. Nor will you do much better if you're motoring, unless you're on a very large boat. If you wait a few days — all right, it can be a week — you can usually make progress north in much more pleasant conditions.

The Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca faced a similar 'do we stay or do we go?' decision when they got to Cabo a few months ago while doublehanding from Puerto Vallarta to San Diego. We ended up spending six days in steamy Cabo in August, which was not our idea of fun. But it was better than pounding our boat and ourselves every 10 to 20 seconds for five days. There are times when you don't have the luxury of being able to sit out bad weather on the nose. But when you do, we think it's a good idea to take it.


I was aboard the Beneteau First 40 Vanishing Girl in the recent reggae-themed SoCal Ta-Ta, my first time as a participant in this event. Talk about fun! There was plenty of sunshine and blue skies and light-to-moderate winds, and we saw a whale and numerous dolphins. We even saw a large mackerel frolicking off our port bow on our way to Catalina.

The first leg of the Ta-Ta took us from Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz Island. Paul 'Pablo' Marston had us anchor at Scorpion instead of Smuggler's Cove where the majority of the fleet anchored. He knew the snorkeling would be better there and the anchorage wouldn't be too rolly. It was a good call. The next day, after hiking on the island and snorkeling among the many small caves around Scorpion, we joined the fleet at Smuggler's.

The second leg took us from Santa Cruz Island to Vintage Partners/Channel Islands Marina in Oxnard. We set off with white sails but later switched to a spinnaker. Once at the marina, it was a free day with no planned activities other than a Ta-Ta BBQ Party, so the Vanishing Girl crew went off in different directions. Back at the boat around 5 p.m., we noticed a Beneteau docked across from us getting ready for a Wet Wednesday race. Short on crew, the skipper asked if we wanted to join them. Two of our crew jumped at the opportunity. Not only did they have a great time and win their division, the Ta-Ta BBQ, complete with a live band, was still going on when they returned from the race.

The next leg took the fleet from Channel Islands Marina to Paradise Cove off Malibu. Since the wind was light, co-skippers Paul and Jared thought it would be a good time to hone our skills with the asymmetrical and symmetrical spinnakers. With the five of us having never sailed together, and three out of the five of us having never been on the boat before the Ta-Ta, there were several amusing moments during sets, douses and jibes. But as Paul later said, "Practice makes performance."

After early-morning swimming and snorkeling the next day, we set out for Two Harbors, Catalina Island. We motored until the wind picked up, and then had a glorious reach the rest of the way.

Once at Two Harbors, Kurt and Katie Braun of the Deerfoot 74 Interlude invited everyone in the Ta-Ta fleet to their boat for Buffalo Milks. For those not-in-the-know, Buffalo Milk is a blended drink of ice, vodka, Kahlua coffee liqueur, crème de bananas, crème de cacao, and milk — or a slight variation of the above. Katie topped the drinks off with whipped cream and a dusting of nutmeg.
Delicious! Thanks Interlude. Dinner at the Harbor Reef rounded out the evening.

The next day was a lay day with an evening potluck/awards and screening of the fleet's photos to wrap up the event. Unfortunately, this Ta-Ta participant had to catch a ferry to the mainland and fly back to the Bay Area, thus missing the final Ta-Ta activity.

Many thanks to Latitude 38, the Grand PooBob, and everyone else involved for putting together a pleasurable, safe cruisers' rally. The Coast Guard helicopter hovering overhead at Santa Cruz Island, the rain and ensuing rainbow, and the tsunami warning at Channel Islands Marina made it all the more interesting. We appreciated the morning and evening check-ins, the weather reports, and advice from the mothership. It can't be easy guiding 40+ boats.

I want to give my special thanks to Jared and Paul, the owner-operators of Ventura-based Pierpont Performance Sailing (PPS), as well as crewmates Karen H. and John R. I had a blast with them aboard Vanishing Girl for the Ta-Ta.

Caryl Woulfe

Caryl — We're not sure why we wrote the article on the event when you did such a better job. Thanks for the summary of the event — and the kind words. It was a great group and we enjoyed it as much as you did.


When friends asked us what we enjoyed the most about September's SoCal Ta-Ta, we have to say it was gaining confidence in ourselves, exploring new anchorages, and spending time on the hook. We also appreciated the flexibility — we could sail or motor, and the starts were casual. The twice-a-day Ta-Ta nets added to our comfort, as did the crews of 40 boats supporting each other. No one would have expected having to deal with a tsunami warning, but being able to talk with Ta-Ta folks who had been through them before kept us relaxed about it.

So thanks to the SoCal Ta-Ta organizers for making us feel so welcome and so safe, and for helping our first Ta-Ta exceed our expectations.

Don and Christine Taugher
Ron and Carol Clanton
Running Free, Ericson 38
Alamitos Bay


We're writing to thank the Grand PooBob and the SoCal Ta-Ta team for once again organizing an excellent Ta-Ta. Although we had some interesting mechanical and later crew- scheduling issues, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

We didn't know how nice Channel Islands Harbor was until we went in and were so warmly and generously received. We actually got there a day earlier than the rest of the fleet, but Dan and Michelle of Vintage Marina Partners/Channel Islands Marina comped us for both nights anyway. It was kind of a deal, as we had to give out the keys for the ABC docks to the arriving Ta-Ta boats. A small task for a free berth.

The bottom line is that the Ta-Ta finally got us out on the water and somewhere new, using skills and abilities that otherwise would have been turning to rust.

Bob Schilling and Charlotte Maure
Tuckernuck, Cherubini 44
Long Beach

Bob and Charlotte — We're glad that you made the Ta-Ta and enjoyed it, because verily 'men and ships rot in port'.

As for Dan and Michelle at Channel Islands, we have mixed feelings about their fabulous hospitality. With the kind of welcome they give, and the kind of place Channel Islands is, how long do you think they're going to have 45 free berths available for upcoming Ta-Ta fleets?


Alex and I had a spectacular time with our Beneteau 47.3 Full Glass during the SoCal Ta-Ta. This was our first rally, and it exceeded all of our expectations. The PooBob, Doña de Mallorca and the Profligate crew were first-class, providing us with an outstanding experience. And the Ta-Ta gave us the opportunity to meet some great folks with whom we plan to stay in touch.

I know you've heard this many times before, but we're enamored with Latitude 38. We've read it cover to cover, month after month, and year after year. And we did it long before we ever dreamed of purchasing Full Glass. You folks have changed our lives, and for that we are eternally grateful.

As Alex mentioned, we're now in our final preparation to head south and cruise Mexico for the season. We're working hard to be done in time to join the Ha-Ha.

Alex and Kristen Mercurio
Full Glass, Beneteau 473
Channel Islands

Kristen and Alex — Your kind words make us blush. Doña and the Poobah/PooBob love to see people having fun with their boats, so while it's a lot of work, it's work that we believe in.


In the September 28 'Lectronic, the Wanderer/Publisher of Latitude wrote about nearing the Santa Barbara Yacht Harbor and seeing the 41-ft Bounty II sloop that he'd started the magazine on 39 years ago. He wrote that he wondered how many readers have come across boats they formerly owned, and how they felt about them.

Between 1978 and 1986 I owned the Sausalito-based Ranger 23 Age of Asparagus. She was a ton of fun, and we sailed her all over the Bay and Delta. Fast forward to being the harbormaster in Oakland in 2011, and I looked out the window of my office and saw a green-hulled Ranger 23 named California Girl. The boat went out almost every day as part of Afterguard Sailing Academy. After about a year, I became curious enough to take a closer look at the boat. Under the green paint of the hull was dark blue paint — which I had applied so many years ago. Sure enough, she was my old Age of Asparagus. Capt. Mary Swift is nice enough to let me sail my old gal once in awhile. She's still a great sailing boat.

Chris McKay

Chris — Given the times, we can understand the Age of Asparagus name. But are you telling us you painted the hull of a boat named Aparagus blue?

Ah, the Ranger 23s. Back when a lot of people sailed small boats on San Francsico Bay, the Ranger 23s were among the most highly-regarded boats of their size and had a strong one-design fleet.


While not exactly an "old friend" to me as the Bounty II Flying Scud was to the Wanderer, I have similar feelings for Nautigal, a 38-ft Myron Spaulding design that was built for my father by Ben Blum at Anderson & Cristofani in San Francisco. Built in 1938, she had a successful career in Bay and coastal races until she was drafted by the US Navy for World War II.

I still occasionally see her on the Bay, as she still sails out of the Richmond YC. While I admire that grand old girl, I'm not ready to take on the responsibility of maintaining an almost 80-year-old wood boat. But the old girl's name Nautigal lives on as Nautigal II, my Beneteau 311 on Lake Tahoe.

Mark Blum
Nautigal II, Beneteau 311
Lake Tahoe


Awhile back we saw our old Mariner 31 Last Farewell on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal. Before that, the last time we'd seen her was at Shoreline Marina in Long Beach when we traded her, plus cash, for the Young 43 Captain Musick. Our little ketch was then given to the son of the former owner of Captain Musick. The son painted her baby blue. Then he painted the wooden spars, the ones that I had so laboriously stripped down to bare wood and varnished. Overall, our old ketch was looking tired.

Anthony and Cara Dibnah
Fallon, NV

Anthony and Cara — It's off-topic, but we remember when the Kiwi owner first brought the 43-ft Captain Musick to San Francisco Bay. When we asked what instrument the owner played, he laughed and explained that Captain (Edwin) Musick, despite being a Southern California high school dropout, was the first pilot hired by Pan American Airlines. As the legendary airline's chief pilot, he flew every new aircraft and new route pioneered by the airline from 1927 until 1938. Notoriously publicity-shy and safety-conscious, Musick won international fame — and the cover of Time magazine — for being the captain of the first China Clipper to cross the Pacific.

Known as 'Meticulous Musick' for the precision he demanded from himself and his crews in everything from the setting of aircraft instruments to the shine on their shoes, Musick was famous for his cautious and conservative approach to flight operations. Nonetheless, he died in 1938 when the the Samoan Clipper he was piloting from New Zealand to Samoa exploded in mid-air as he dumped fuel following the discovery of an oil leak. It's ironic, because dumping fuel from that type of plane was known to be dangerous, and it could have been avoided had Musick simply flown around in circles for hours until he had burned off enough fuel to land.

Thus concludes this month's aviation history lesson.


I have two questions. The first is why am I still reading Latitude, now that we sold our last boat more than a year ago? Maybe it's nostalgia, or maybe it's because Latitude is as well-written and informative as anything else I read these days. Take your pick.

The reason I'm writing is because of two 'Lectronics in September, with the tipping point being the September 28 'Lectronic with the item about encountering previously owned boats. My wife and I left the Bay Area in fall 1988 aboard our Nordic 40 Rosi on our way to the Some Like It Hot rally that preceded the founding of the Baja Ha-Ha. To make a long story short, we ended up at the Annapolis Boat Show, where we contracted to have a new Catana catamaran built for us in France. After taking delivery in the United States, we sailed that cat in the Bahamas during the winters and on the Chesapeake during the summers.

The first year we were in Marsh Harbor in the Bahamas, when we stumbled across our old Nordic 40, then named Chance. We spoke with the owner and found that he was nearing the end of a sabbatical that had taken him and our former boat from the West Coast to the Caribbean.

Two years after that, and 11 years after we had sailed the Nordic out the Golden Gate, we saw her again, this time in a slip at Annapolis. Nobody was aboard, but she still had the Avon dink and Nissan 5-hp outboard that we'd bought before leaving San Francisco Bay. We are not in the market for another boat, but she'd always been a lucky boat for us. Among other things, she'd safely seen us through the eye of a hurricane. I would recommend the Nordic 40 design to anyone.

But the really eerie thing was the 'Lectronic post on September 18, the one that featured a photo of the Catana 411 cat Santana sailing in the SoCal Ta-Ta. A Catana 411 is the type of catamaran we'd ordered in Annapolis to be built in France in 1998. We sailed her from the Bahamas to Vero Beach, Florida, in April 2008 and sold her there in May to a Frenchman.

As we recall, the Frenchman had renamed her. But we had put her name and hailing port on both hulls, so we doubt that the Ta-Ta Catana 411 is our old boat. I suppose that someone could have bought her and brought her through the Panama Canal to the Pacific, and after buying her had done research to find that her original name had been Santana, and decided that he liked the name, too. But what are the odds? In any event, does Latitude have any idea about the history of the Catana 411 Santana that was in the Ta-Ta?

Tom Boynton

Tom — As our good friend Scott Stephens, who is an occasional Profligate crew for the Ha-Ha, is the owner of Santana, we had no trouble forwarding your letter to him. We received the following response:

"My Santana is indeed the same boat that Boynton ordered back in 1998. He is listed as the original owner in the chain of title on the boat.

"Renee Penchon, the Frenchman he sold the boat to, retained the name Santana but changed the hailing ports. Apparently Mr. Penchon lived in France, but kept the boat in Florida, and would take her to the Bahamas on kiteboarding expeditions. Sadly, he died in a kiteboarding accident while in the Bahamas. But it was Renee who purchased the black and red spinnaker Santana can be seen flying in the Ta-Ta photo.

"After Renee passed, the boat sat in the Bahamas for quite a while. She was later taken to Florida, where she sat at a dock for a number of years before she was purchased by a Canadian gentleman. Unfortunately, the Canadian became ill and never set foot on the cat again. So she sat baking in the tropical sun for another two years before I purchased her. By all accounts the cat never left the dock between the time Mr. Penchon passed and I purchased her.

"I had intended to change the name of the cat, going so far as to commission an artist in New Orleans to paint the name on for me. But in honor of Mr. Penchon, I felt compelled to retain the name Santana. In the right light and from just the right angle, you can make out the original hailing port of San Francisco on the hulls — ghosts of owners past. These hailing ports had always been a mystery to me, because nothing in the ship's papers indicated the boat had ever been on the West Coast.

"So that is the history of Santana as I know it. If possible, I would like
Latitude to forward my email to Mr. Boynton, as I would love to know more about the history of the boat."

We have forwarded Scott's email address as requested. We're sure that Mr. Boynton will be delighted to know that Scott has done a very nice job of bringing Santana back to fine condition. The Catana 411 is one of the nicer smaller cat designs that we've seen.


I have a nearly 40-year collection of Latitude 38s that I've accumulated dating back to 1977 when the publisher used to personally deliver copies to West Marine store #1 on San Antonio Road in Palo Alto. My collection has a few gaps, but is probably 90% complete. Is there anyone our there who would be interested in a free collection? It takes up about six typical-size moving boxes, and I'd pay reasonable freight costs for anybody interested.

I sold my Tartan 37 Rouser in 2001 when I retired and moved to Nevada. During my many years of sailing I came to realize that I didn't have the 'cruising gene', so I limited my sailing to the Bay Area. But it was incredible therapy for a Silicon Valley wonk such as myself.

I retired at age 70, and moved to Nevada because it was only four and a half hours from the Richmond Marina and the Rouser. But sagebrush ranching turned out to suit me, and I had great fun in the Silver State. As a result, Rouser began to look pretty sad from geezer neglect. So I sold her to a young couple who did have the cruising gene, and they eventually sailed her to New Zealand in 2004-5. By then the rigors of the cruising life had tempered their cruising ardor, and they sold her to a New Zealander in the Bay of Islands.

I now live now on the coast in southern Oregon, and after 85 years of wear and tear on this geezer, I'm downsizing. Thus I need to find a new home for the old Latitudes. I may be contacted at

Bill Fraser
ex-Rouser, Tartan 37
Southern Oregon


A few years ago I ran into the Islander 36 Misfit at the Stockton Sailing Club. My wife and I had cruised her to Mexico many years ago. I was allowed aboard the boat, but unfortunately she was a little worse for the wear. They had removed the stainless propane stove I had installed to get extra storage, and didn't have any idea of how to use the on-demand hot water system I had installed.

Later that year there was a story in the Stockton Sailing Club newsletter reporting that she had hit the Antioch Bridge during the South Tower Race, and then had run aground on Middle Ground and was stuck for three days!

Boats are like old girlfriends. They are fun when you first have them, but going back usually isn't a good idea.

Tim Stapleton
ex-Misfit, Islander 36
San Rafael

Tim — You write about hitting the Antioch Bridge and running aground for three days as though they were bad things. Having t-boned the Carquinez Bridge with considerable damage, and having ground so badly on Middle Ground that we put the masthead in the water, we believe those are things to be proud of. Great lives are made of great experiences, even if not all of them are good.

Now that you've broached the subject, excuse the sailing pun, we're certain to hear from women sailors on how 'boats are like old boyfriends'.


After much thinking and consideration, my husband Mark and I decided not to bite the bullet by going ahead with the essay contest/raffle to win our beloved Fountaine-Pajot 35 catamaran Irie. Readers will remember that we'd unsuccessfully tried to sell her for months. The raffle idea seemed like an awesome alternative to selling her, and it would have given somebody the unexpected chance to win a lovely catamaran in the South Pacific. And at the very least, it would have encouraged some people to dream and maybe even take some nautical action.

The main reason we aborted the raffle idea is that an Australian couple came along and decided to buy Irie. So after eight years of full-time cruising, Mark and I are boatless — and even homeless — once again. But we are so many experiences richer for having cruised Irie. And as one chapter in our lives ends, another begins.

Just before we permanently left our former floating home in Tahiti, I noticed a familiar-looking sailboat in Papeete Harbor. She turned out to be our first boat, the Islander Freeport 36 Four Choices. Longtime Latitude readers may remember that we sold her 10 years ago because after one day of cruising — we barely made it to Santa Cruz — Darwin and Kali, our two dogs, made it clear they didn't want to live in a tippy and moving house. (They did, however, love Irie, which we bought several years later.)

Four Choices — the new owner Bob Scholl retained the named we had given her — had reached the South Pacific from the Bay Area. In fact, she was part of last year's Pacific Puddle Jump. It was a joy to meet her skipper and to visit her once again. Talk about a 'full circle'!

Liesbet and Mark Collaert
Boatless in New England at the moment

Readers — We'll have more letters next month from folks who came across their old boats years after they sold them.


Boy, did Latitude get it right when, in the September 30 'Lectronic item about the Catalina 27 going ashore at San Francisco's Ocean Beach, you wrote the following: "If your vessel goes aground, it is your responsibility to remove it or pay professionals to do so — and the price tag can be substantial."

Nobody knows this better than I do. Remember the tsnuami that hit the West Coast in March 2011? My LaFitte 44 Breta II, and my Columbia 34 Breta that I circumnavigated on, were docked next to each other at Brookings, Oregon. Like a lot of boats in the harbor, both my LaFitte and my Columbia were torn loose and got sucked out to sea.

The 'heroic' Coasties walked all over Breta II while she was still drifting and undamaged. After they abandoned her — having not found any drugs or terrorists aboard — she drifted for more than three hours before she went onto the rocks and broke up. The Coasties had been the last ones 'in command and control' of her.

Then came the real nightmare — the beach cleanup, which was all on me. Ever try to get an 11,500-lb keel off a rocky shore? If your lead keel ends up on shore in the United States, it will be deemed a hazmat by the authorities. No matter if it's underwater most of the time, you have to remove it pronto under the threat of huge fines. No matter if it's all but inaccessible and slowly sinking to the bottom. No matter that it is inert and going nowhere. No matter if it is early March and the storms are battering the shore. No matter that the Coast Guard were the last in command and control of the vessel. And you will have threatening bosses on the beach who won't take excuses — although they only show up on fine weather days between storms.

It's interesting, but as long as the lead hangs from your boat, it is not hazmat. And if looters or gun hobbyists get to the lead, chop it up, and smelt it down to make it into ammo, then it's certainly not hazmat. In fact, it's not even hazardous, it's constitutionally protected.

I did find a way to 'get the lead out'. but that's a whole different story.

Anyway, the loss of my LaFitte 44 turned into a three-year saga involving so many bureaucrats you wouldn't believe it. I'd share a thumbnail version, but it's just not possible. Let's just say it's the longest, weirdest chain of events I've encountered in my life.

Every guest who comes aboard the old Breta gets some version of the story of why she is on a trailer in my driveway instead of in the water, and what's with all the boat wreckage around my house. It's really a show-and-tell type of thing, so somebody from Latitude ought to come up.

What about insurance? I bought the LaFitte in Mexico and had tried to get insurance at the time. But you know what insurance companies think of long-distance singlehanded sailors. In this particular case, my 'insurance' was the insurance the public port in Brookings has covering its docks. If their docks fail and cause my boat to end up on the beach, their insurance should cover it. And mind you, as I live in the port district, my property taxes help pay the premiums for the dock insurance.

Well, FEMA bailed out the insurer, but FEMA and the insurer denied my claim to be reimbursed for the beach cleanup costs. Anyhow, the insurance battle is just a small story in and of itself.

The Coast Guard, Oregon Parks and Rec, the port, the city, the police, the sheriff, the politicians, FEMA, the Oregon Justice Department, and a whole lot more got involved. It was too hot and too esoteric for the local paper to cover. Even today, more than four years later, the whole sequence of events boggles my mind. I'm persona non grata at the port, hence my Columbia 34 Breta, which survived the tsunami unscathed, being in my driveway. She may be the only boat that circumnavigated that you can airbnb on land.

By the way, this is not just a tale of two boats touched by a tsunami. It is also a tale of how two ports — Brookings and Crescent City, California — reacted to a natural disaster. One got a FEMA bailout and was repaired fast. The other went through a long, slow rethinking and rebuilding. The difference is like night and day. One will survive the next tsunami while the other is fatally flawed — and in some ways is worse than before.

Roy Wessbecher
Breta, Columbia 34
Near Brookings, Oregon

Readers — It was many years ago, but Roy Wessbecher bought a Columbia 34 Mk II for $10,000 and took off for Australia. He didn't try to get crew because he didn't feel he knew how to sail well enough for others to put their lives in his hands. Once in Australia, he started advertising in youth hostels for crew. As we recall, just under 20 people would ultimately join him for one or more legs of the rest of the circumnavigation. All but one were women.

What made Wessbecher's feat even more unusual is that he did it on an astonishingly low budget. Something like $10/day, all expenses included, as we recall. He became one of our cruising heroes.

If you search on YouTube, you can find video of the tsunami hitting Brookings on March 11, 2011. The place ended up a shambles, with many wrecked boats, ripped-out pilings, and other destruction. One video shows what appears to be about a 40-ft sailboat being sucked out at what we would guess to be six to eight knots.

At least one video shows the Coast Guard rescuing several boats. It's not at all clear to us if they could have done more for Breta II than they did, and if they didn't, why not. We also find it a little curious that the port district apparently wasn't liable for allowing boats in their facility to be destroyed. We wonder if the same would have been true if the marina had been privately owned.


I'm sure that I'm not the only reader who noticed the Lyle Hess hoax on page 135, in the Classy Classified section, of the October issue of Latitude. And I don't suppose that I'm the only reader to write Latitude about the subject either. I can, however, provide some additional information not likely discussed elsewhere.

Clearly, Lyle Hess never designed a 40-ft fiberglass boat. The closest thing he drew was the clumsy looking — to my eye — Nor'Sea 37 with a detached rudder. To my knowledge that boat has never been sailed.

Hess did, however, draw and sell excruciatingly detailed plans for all sorts of wooden boats, including a 40-ft English Channel Cutter. If the "Stan" in the 714 area code who paid Latitude to aid him in his program of subterfuge indeed has a mold for the Lyle Hess 40-ft cutter, then he just built it to the lines for the wooden boat. This is not the same thing as a design for composite construction.

Hess designed both wooden and composite boats, and they are not the same shape. The one possible exception is the 28-ft Bristol Channel Cutter, which is just a modification of Lin and Larry Pardey's 29-ft Taleisin. Hess drew Taleisin for the Pardeys, and the design was later modified to be built in fiberglass. The Bristol Channel Cutter has somewhat different dimensions than Taleisin, but still very much looks and sails like a wooden boat.

Other Lyle Hess fiberglass boats were designed entirely for composite construction. That is to say they have lines that would be difficult or impossible to reproduce with plank-on-frame construction. This is particularly true of the Nor'Sea 27, which looks very much like a lapstrake-planked wooden boat. Even without the faux lapstrakes, the Nor'Sea 27 has an overall look to it that is extremely reminiscent of wooden boats in general. The difference is that the lines of the Nor'Sea 27 are too extreme for plank-on-frame construction. This is also reflected in the sailing characteristics of the Nor'Sea 27, as she does not sail like a wooden boat. No matter how heavily the Nor'Sea 27 is loaded, she's just never quite the same as a wooden boat.

Michael Traum
Red Bluff

Michael — You're obviously very passionate about this subject, and know far more about Lyle Hess and his designs than we do. That said, we thought it was necessary to give Stan Susman, who placed the ad, an opportunity to respond to your charges that he's perpetrating a hoax and is engaged in subterfuge. By the way, you were the only one who responded to the alleged hoax.


I think Mr. Traum either has a little too much time on his hands or lives too close to wine country and likes to support the local economy as much as I do.

Ian Finley is the gent who spent over 130k, and several thousand hours, until his life's end, producing the beautiful tooling I'm selling. I think there are photos around of Lyle Hess working with Ian during the construction.

I worked with Lyle on several tooling and production projects myself during my younger years as a boatbuilder, and learned much from him, as he was a sharing and patient man.

I don't know what naval architecture school Mr. Traum is a graduate of, but in my 40+ years of building boats, hanging out with builders and designers, and being in the boat business, I've known of plenty of wooden boat designs that have been converted to production in fiberglass. While not a naval architect, I play one when I modify Lyle's boats for racing. He can ask around.

I'm rebuilding a Hess design I built 30 years ago. I know Lyle is squinting his eye and grinning as he watches me screw up his design work, because we used to talk about it while sailing together on one of his small boats.

I don't want to waste my time in a pissing match with Mr. Traum, as it's likely that we have common interests and could maybe drink beer and have a spirited chat about why he thinks wood boats are so cool or his latest design. Hell, I like anyone who enjoys small boats for cruising or racing, and I consider them friends. But speaking of "hoax" and "subterfuge" is dangerous. Not from me, but from those fellers that I work with. They can get a little cranky.

Stan Susman
Planet Earth


When I'm stranded somewhere due to a diesel problem and gripe about the reliability of marine diesel installations at the local cruisers' bar, I'm invariably met with defensive retorts such as, "Diesels are great, I got 10,000 hours out of my last diesel." Or, "The diesel on our yacht hasn't given us any troubles except . . . (followed by a list of the troubles.)"

The problem with both of these responses is they have nothing to do with reliability. In reliability engineering, reliability is usually measured as mean time between failures, with a failure being anything that impedes the normal utility of the diesel that isn't part of the regular maintenance regimen. This is not the same thing as longevity, and listing the few troubles that may have occurred is meaningless if no indication of how many useful hours were obtained.

Furthermore, when one considers the reliability of a diesel installation, especially in comparison to an outboard engine, one has to consider more than just the engine, but also the saildrive, prop shaft, fuel contamination, etc.

Having owned and crewed on many outboard-powered and diesel-powered cruising boats, I'm convinced that the reputation for reliability of diesel installations is unearned when a true measure of reliability is used. Diesels certainly have many merits over modern 4-stroke outboards, but reliability isn't one of them.

Mark McNulty, Crew
Wahoo, Schionning G 1400 Catamaran
Marina del Rey/Currently Stranded in Panama

Mark — You're correct when you point out that there is more to diesel propulsion than just the engine itself, as there are saildrives, props, fuel systems, and more.

On the way to the Eastern Caribbean from Cabo San Lucas in 1995, Doña de Mallorca and crew had to make a pit stop in Panama to replace both saildrives. One had gone bad and the other sounded as though it was about to fail. In a case of surprising speed, they got to the boatyard in Panama on a Wednesday, we had new saildrives to the yard on Saturday, and they were installed in time for the cat to transit to the Canal on the following Tuesday.

It's also true that there have been too many cone-clutch failures inside Yanmar saildrives. Although as we learned and wrote about earlier this year, the problem can usually be fixed in a couple of hours. And yes, we've had two different brands of props fall off.

And twice we've had the ignition relays fail, meaning we had to jump the solenoid with a screwdriver to start the engines. And twice we had to replace the alternator.

So yeah, there are reliability issues with diesels. On the other hand, we've also had various problems with our numerous outboards over the years. The hubs went bad on three of them, two props broke, and we've had assorted and sundry electrical and carburetor issues.

Despite the problems we've had with both our diesels and outboards, we'd consider the "reliability" of both to be very good. After all, we've put tens of thousands of hours on our diesels and a whole lot of hours on our outboards in the last 45+ years of messing around on boats. So it seems to us it comes down to 'horses for courses'.

You're in Panama looking at the 2,500-mile trip up to Ventura. All we can tell you is that de Mallorca and crew powered the 2,800 upwind miles from Panama to San Francisco on the way back from the Caribbean in 1995 on
Profligate, and made it in just 19 days, stopping briefly only to take on fuel and for one overnight in Acapulco. That's an average of 6.35 knots from the Yanmar diesels. De Mallorca wouldn't have wanted to try that with a couple of outboards, and probably couldn't have carried enough fuel if she wanted to.

De Mallorca has also made the 1,000-mile Bash from Puerto Vallarta to at least San Diego with
Profligate 16 times in the last 16 years. She can recall just one engine failure during these deliveries, and it was one of your 'not with the engine itself' failures. The alternator that charges the battery that provides juice to the MicroCommander controls failed, defaulting the engines into neutral and at idle. This didn't stop the engines from running, so the Wanderer disconnected the engine controls and 'locked' them in forward and at a certain rpm, and they were able to keep going to San Diego without delay.

If you want to try to match that endurance record with outboards, be our guest.

For what it's worth, the two Yanmars on 'ti Profligate in the Caribbean both have more than 10,000 hours, and both run great.


Do rammings of boats by killer whales go under-reported?

In the early 1970s, the Robertson family had to abandon their wooden boat one minute after an orca from a pod rammed and punctured the hull of their 40-ft sailboat near the Galapagos Islands.

And during a delivery of a 40-ft ketch a month ago, I was near the entrance to the Gulf of Panama when the boat I was delivering was rammed by an orca. The boat lurched sideways. Fortunately, the sturdy fiberglass ketch didn't spring a leak.

At the time I was bound from Buenaventura, Colombia, to Puerto Amistad, Ecuador, but due to the Peru Current, headwinds, and algae in the diesel, I ended up going the opposite way, to Panama City.

I've heard that orca pods that are traveling somewhere are not dangerous or territorial.

Jeff Stump
Balaton, 12-Meter Far East Ketch

Jeff — We imagine attacks on boats by killer whales do go under-reported for the simple reason that we don't think anybody — ourselves included — would know to whom to report such an attack. We know of no central agency that gathers such information.

Interestingly enough, you apparently aren't aware of what happened to Marcie and Maralyn Bailey of the 31-ft British yacht Auralyn. In 1973, also while near the Galapgos Islands, their boat was struck by some kind of whale and sank. They famously spent 117 days in their liferaft before being rescued 1,500 miles to the west. In a warming postscript, a year later they took off cruising again, this time aboard Auralyn II.

Following those two attacks, author Don Holm devoted a chapter in his book on small boat voyages to encounters with whales. At the time — we're talking 40 years ago when there were far fewer people cruising — he was able to cite 12 attacks.

Off the top of our head we can think of three boats in the last five or so years that were sunk by some kind of whale. One was off Hawaii, one was a singlehander coming up the coast of Baja to end a circumnavigation, and one was a participant in the Baja Ha-Ha. Although it was sometimes close, all crewmembers survived, thanks in large part to modern electronics.

While not common, whale attacks aren't rare either.


We quit our jobs in 2004 and went cruising full-time aboard our Gemini 3000 Cat 'n About — despite not having any health insurance. Readers may be interested to learn how that's turned out over the last 11 years.

Here's our medical expense history during that time: I paid $25 for a visit with a dermatologist in Ecuador who took a couple of sun-damage bumps off my shoulder. Dental care outside the United States has always been very good and reasonably priced. When we started, a cleaning was about $40 and has since gone up to about $50. But it depends on what country you're in. In Guatemala it was just $15.

We've found meds available and reasonably priced outside the US. I take a pill to ward off kidney stones, and that's always been available and cheap. Since being diagnosed with a tendency to kidney stones in 2015, I had one. I visited a doctor in Puerto Vallarta who spent lots of time diagnosing the situation and treating the stone. His bill came to about $40.

Last year I came down with arthritis in my left hip, with the only fix being a total hip replacement. Blue Cross said the hip replacement would cost just under $60,000 in New York, although only $16,398 in Montgomery, Alabama. I just had my hip done at an expensive private hospital in Guadalajara, Mexico. My surgeon specializes in hips and knees, and is considered one of the best in Mexico. The care was first-class, the cost included everything from the surgeon, to the hospital, to the meds, and even the follow-up physical therapy. The bill for my new hip came to $12,250.

We have several cruising friends who have the same kinds of stories with major surgeries. My point is there is excellent health care available outside the US at a reasonable price.

Rob and Linda Jones
Cat'n About, Gemini 3000 cat
Whidbey Island, WA


I'm writing in response to Bass Sears' September letter about charging smartphones and other devices on boats. Older PCs — including laptops and notebooks — typically require 19 volts DC to properly charge their four stacked lithium-ion battery cells. A fully-charged Li-ion cell sports a 4.2-volt charge, so 4 x 4.2 = 16.8 volts. The additional 2.2 volts powers the circuitry that 'sits on top' of the four cells configured in series.

Automobile laptop chargers that plug into cigarette lighter sockets are inexpensive — but notoriously inefficient. They convert about half the wattage drawn from the car's electrical system into heat, which doesn't help charge your devices at all. But who is counting when you are in a car and not on your boat?

From an efficiency standpoint, the worst way to charge a computer on a boat is to power up the inverter — which converts battery 12 volts to 120-volt AC — and then use the standard charger that came with the computer to convert the 120-volt AC back to the required DC voltage.

A more efficient — although more expensive — laptop- charging solution employs a DC-to-DC 'boost' converter to conjure up the required laptop charging voltage from the boat's 12-volt battery bank. I use a PowerStream ED1075 with 12-volt input and 19-volt output to power my onboard Dell Inspiron notebook, which displays my AIS transceiver's information.

Before buying a DC-to-DC boost converter, read your computer owner's manual specifications to get the nominal charging voltage — and the size of the 'barrel connector' plug on your AC charger. Manufacturers typically do not specify the efficiency of their products, so you will have to call their technical support to get that information. Don't settle for less than 90% efficiency — unless you have a monster solar/windmill output.

I'm a former power-products engineer for Linear Technology Corp.

Sam Burns
Southernaire, Catalina 309
Alameda Marina

Sam — We love it when we hear from somebody who obviously knows what he/she is talking about. We checked on the Internet and the ED1075 sells for about $79.


I enjoyed the September-issue article on my old 55-ft cat Crystal Blue Persuasion. I wish Deyess Kanaloa Payne, her new owner, all the best with her.

Earlier this year my new wife and I went up to Anacortes and purchased the Lagoon 380 cat named Neverland. We renamed her Itty Bitty Kitty because she's smaller than Crystal Blue. We delivered her from Anacortes to Santa Cruz at the end of April. Our crewmate Tim Holcomb, an amazing writer, wrote a story about the trip. I've suggested that he forward it to you.

I look forward to doing a Baja Ha-Ha on Itty Bitty Kitty in 2016.

Gary Burgin
Itty Bitty Kitty, Lagoon 380
Santa Cruz

Gary — Congrats on the new-to-you cat. We'd gladly have run Tim's story about the delivery south, but it's longer than War and Peace.



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