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July 2016

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The June 15 'Lectronic had yet another report of a boat being damaged between California and Hawaii. This time it was the Andrews 45 racing boat Locomotion, which reportedly hit something 150 miles from San Diego that caused structural damage and a leak the pumps couldn't keep up with. The three crew were rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter.

We know that following the Japanese tsunami of 2011, there is now a huge pile of submerged and semi-submerged garbage floating out there. It seems to me that the hulls of lighter and faster boats have fallen foul of the possibility of a collision resulting in catastrophic results.

What can be done? Fast may be fun, as Bill Lee always said, but at times an overbuilt and overweight 'crab crusher' of traditional design might do a better job of getting a boat to its destination. Maybe it's time to slow down and smell the roses.

Michael Wilson
Tortue, S&S 44
Mazatlan, Mexico

Michael — Since Max Ebb is much more knowledgeable about sailing to and from Hawaii, and about boat design and engineering, we asked him to respond to your letter.

"1) 150 miles off San Diego means it was most likely unrelated to debris from the tsunami in the North Pacific Gyre. Surface winds tend to blow things into the gyre, which is why stuff collects there.

"2) Heavy does not necessarily mean strong, but it does mean slow, and fast means a lot more impact energy. As a practical matter, even a poorly engineered heavy boat built of cheaper materials is likely to be more resistant to puncture than an exotic ultralight. So yes, heavy and slow is generally safer against puncture due to debris impact if no other countermeasures are taken.

"3) Light boats are easy to make unsinkable. Cored construction is very buoyant. It's generally enough to provide only enough flotation to hold up the ballast. (It was easy to make my Merit 25 unsinkable for Singlehanded TransPac, with almost no loss of usable stowage space.)

"4) The best defense against catastrophic damage in a collision is a collision bulkhead. This isolates damage to the bow from the rest of the hull. A full watertight subdivision is also viable on larger and heavier boats. Ships have been using that strategy for over a century.

"You can have it both ways here: Light and fast, with good survivability if holed."

About 10 years ago the Wanderer, de Mallorca and a group of friends were sailing
Profligate from Antigua to Panama. While about 100 miles off Columbia, we came across a 'river' of debris from the Rio Magdalena. Just about sundown we had to steer the boat in such a way as to take a large tree stump between the hulls while doing close to 20 knots. No, we didn't sleep too well that night.
And as a result, when we decided to replace the soles in both hulls of
Profligate a few years ago, we subdivided the bilges into about 10 compartments on each side, and made them watertight. We didn't need the storage space, and we wanted to make sure it would be all but impossible for the cat to ever sink.

There have been several letters in recent issues of Latitude about the 'dezincification' of thru-hulls and other metal fittings that were made of brass rather than bronze. The accompanying photograph is of a 3/4-inch national pipe thread to 5/8-inch hose bib. Based on the 'dezincafiction', I can only assume that it was brass.

I found the fitting while in the process of replacing all the raw-water, heater, and wet-exhaust hoses for my engine on my Cal 40. This particular fitting was on the outlet side of the water strainer. I had replaced the hose, tightened the clamp, and started my engine. I was checking all my fittings and noticed a small leak at this particular one. I tightened the hose clamp — and the fitting broke! It didn't take very much force to break it.

I'm very lucky that it broke at the dock when I was working on it, rather then when I was underway or away from the boat. By the way, the raw-water strainer is a bronze Perko, and it's still solid as a rock.

Vance Sprock
Seazed Asset, Cal 40

Readers — We don't suppose there is any way to know how old that particular fitting was. If it was original, it would be something like 50 years old. But again, there is no telling.

There is an excellent seacock and thru-hull primer on the dangers of brass thru-hull fittings that can be found at The author, whose name we couldn't find, explains that there is a big difference between yellow brass, the worst, and red brass and bronze. Yellow brass, he says, is about 40% zinc and 60% copper, and thus can quickly be eaten away because zinc becomes an anodic metal. When yellow brass turns a "coppery pink" instead of a "yellowish gold" it doesn't have much integrity left.

Can't tell the difference between brass and bronze? According to the author, brass fittings are more yellow in color and frequently have a "machined finish" rather than a "sand cast" finish. That's because marine bronze doesn't machine well. You can also be sure it's brass if it was purchased at Home Depot or Lowe's.

For those headed out on the water on boats, what looks like a perfect day for boating can quickly become hazardous. Drowning was the reported cause of death in three fourths of recreational boating fatalities. Of those drowning victims, 85% were not wearing a life jacket. In 2015 alone, the Coast Guard counted 4,158 boating accidents. Over 2,500 people were injured and 626 died.
The National Safe Boating Council wants all boaters to know and remember that life jackets save lives.

Lindsey Shapiro
Paul Werth Associates/National Safe Boating Council

Readers — While most boating accidents involve Jet Skis and smaller motor-driven boats, wearing PFDs is always a good idea, even on larger sailboats.

Reading an interesting story in a recent Latitude about sailors helping fellow sailors reminded me of an unusual experience I had back in 1984. Some friends and I were motoring Thundercloud, my homebuilt 48-ft catamaran, from San Diego Bay to Mission Bay. We were well offshore to avoid the large kelp bed off Point Loma when we heard someone yell.

It was weird, because there weren't any boats around. Then we saw someone in the water.

We motored over and pulled a Canadian fellow out of the drink.

It seems that he'd been singlehanding and fell off his boat. The obvious next question was, "Where is your boat?"

He pointed to a mast on the horizon and told us the boat was under power and on autopilot. My cat wasn't very fast under power, but we took off in pursuit. More than an hour and many miles later, we pulled up on the port side of the lucky fellow's 50-plus-ft boat. Fortunately, it was calm as a mill pond that day, so he could just step off my catamaran onto his boat.

"Thanks," he said. That was adequate compensation for me, as I was glad that I could help.

"But wear a life preserver next time," I told him.

It's a true story.

Donald Yearout
Red Skies at Night (My second homebuilt cat)
Chula Vista

Thank you for encouraging all readers to wear PFDs when sailing. I found the gentle tone of your article — your life, your choice — very persuasive. I wonder how many yacht club magazines or newsletters carried a safety article in recognition of Boat Safety Week,

Steve Edwards
Cal YC

According to Yacht Racing Association (YRA) safety requirement 3.1, "Each crewmember shall have a U.S. Coast Guard approved Type III or Type V life jacket intended for small boat sailing or other active boating."

The problem with this is it means that the excellent and commonly used Spinlock Deckvest Pro and Hammar PFDs aren't acceptable. Although they meet International Organization for Standards (ISO) and Conformité Européene (CE) requirements, they are not Coast Guard-approved. (To the best of my knowledge the Deckvest 'LITE' model is approved.)

Given that ISO requirements are tougher than the Coast Guard's and are approved by the Ocean Yacht Racing Association (OYRA), I think it would make sense to add ISO to the standard YRA PFD requirement. I think Coast Guard Type I and Type IIs should also be permitted.

I'm asking the YRA to change things, which could easily be done by simply by adding the words "or better" to 3.1.

John Navas
San Francisco

Latitude will likely have a piece on the beheading of the second of two Canadian sailors who were kidnapped from Ocean View Marina, Samal Island last September.

I'd like to add some perspective. My wife Cecil is a Filipino from the Panabo area that is just down the road from Samal Island. I have visited many times. In fact, we recently purchased two condos there not far from the waterfront. Cecil's entire family — of about three million cousins — lives and works in the area. This is the same city that produced Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, aka Dirty Harry, soon to be sworn in as President of the Republic of the Philippines. It is a friendly and safe place to live or visit.

The beheading of the two Canadian sailors — which took place on separate occasions — is obviously horrible. But it has very little to do with cruising or sailing. They were executives for a local gold-mining company that was involved in a contentious labor dispute. A collection of dingbat goons decided that snatching the executives at the marina would be a good negotiating strategy. They also took a Norwegian and his girlfriend. They first tried to grab an American-Japanese couple, but the couple escaped by diving into the water.
In time, the thugs were hunted down and one of them shot. They panicked and tried to profit by selling the hostages to the Abu Sayyaf, a clownish but brutal group in Zamboanga, which is the mother lode of Muslim separatism in the Philippines. With ties to Al Qaeda, Zamboanga is the Syria of the region, a place where no tourist should or would ever visit.

Abu Sayyaf apparently killed two of the hostages, a very poor business model that is out of character with their history. It is about the money. In time we will get the full story. Perhaps there was a breakdown or misunderstanding.

The point that I would try to make is that the kidnapping was an outlier. It also has very little to do with cruising, as these managers just happened to have boats.

Cecil and I visited Samal Island last October, shortly after the kidnappings. It was swarming with people and tourism. The many expats with whom we have spoken don't consider that area to be unsafe. While we grieve and feel heartbroken over this brutal crime, I would urge restraint in characterizing the region as "dangerous."

On the contrary, Davao is the world's first smoke-free city. It also installed the first 911 response system outside the Western world. And they can claim one of the most sophisticated active security-camera tracking systems on the planet.

Charles Lane
Shawari, Tayana 37
San Francisco

Charles — Thanks for your perspective. While we might agree with most of your conclusions, we think you have some important facts wrong.

1) Neither of the two Canadians who have been beheaded was an executive of a gold-mining company. John Ridsdel was retired, although he did work as a consultant for a mining company. Canadian Robert Hall was an adventurer with a boat who at various times had been an actor, insurance salesman and welder. He had nothing to do with a mining company.

2) If it was "dingbat goon" labor thugs who did the kidnappings, why did they first attempt to kidnap an American cruiser and his Japanese-American wife? The couple struggled and escaped by jumping into the water. The marina manager was taken after he showed up to see what was happening. It seems clear that the victims were targets of opportunity, not targeted members of the management of a gold-mining company.

3) How can you possibly use the word "clownish" to describe Abu Sayyaf? Since it was formed in 1991 with funding from Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law for what it claims is a fight for an independent Islamic province, it has engaged in bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion. Its bombing of Superferry 14 in 2004, which killed 116 people, is the worst terrorist attack in the history of the Philippines. Abu Sayyaf has also been involved in criminal activities such as kidnapping, rape, child sexual assault, forced marriage, drive-by shootings, extortion and drug trafficking. Clownish?

As if that weren't enough, on July 23, 2014, Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Totoni Hapilon swore an oath of loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIL who was just killed.

4) You almost make it sound as if the labor goons should be absolved of responsibility for selling the hostages to a notoriously brutal and violent group because the poor dears panicked after one of them got caught. We're not buying pathetic excuses like that.

While we have to dispute several of the claims in your letter, it's our understanding that you're correct when you say the kidnappings had little or nothing to do with sailing or cruising, and that Samal Island is a beautiful and generally safe place for tourists.

As you note, the citizens of the violence- and corruption-torn Philippines have elected Rodrigo Duterte, who is even more extreme than Donald Trump, as their new president. Duterte says he will cleanse the country of crime and corruption in six months, and has not only encouraged private citizens to kill drug dealers, but has vowed to personally reward them for doing so. We don't see what can possibly go wrong with that.

I appreciated Max Ebb's May issue movie recommendations, but Lee Helm missed one. Cutthroat Island is similar to the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie in that there's great excitement, terrific humor and a nautical theme. The difference is that the hero is a woman and the videography is better.

Perhaps the reason I like Cutthroat Island so much is the circumstances under which I first saw it. It was about 10 p.m. and the other crewmen and I were huddled in the cockpit watching the movie on a laptop as the 60-ft trimaran we were delivering from Panama to New Zealand effortlessly sliced through the waters of the South Pacific in perfect harmony of wind, water and carbon fiber. Suddenly our tall, blond, lesbian captain dashed on deck and said: "All right boys, it's time to take in a reef." It was as if we were suddenly in the movie.

The boat I helped sail across the Pacific was a 1981 custom carbon-fiber 60-ft trimaran. It was built for breaking speed records. It is currently called Titi Nui, which is the Maori name for the shearwater bird. The sooty shearwater migrates from California to New Zealand. A little video about life aboard is at

Dan Marshall
Instructor, Club Nautique and Bluewater Foundation

Readers — Cutthroat Island, a romantic comedy/action/adventure film — why not touch as many genres as possible? — had high production values, a great musical score, fine action sequences, and great shooting locations — at least according to the Google review. But in the opinion of the Google reviewer, that wasn't enough to overcome the many negative aspects of the 1996 movie. "The film had a notoriously troubled and chaotic production involving multiple rewrites and recasts, and received mixed reviews with criticism towards the incoherent script, one-dimensional characters, and the lack of chemistry between the protagonist duo." Ouch.

Cutthroat Island is also notable for having been the largest box office bomb when adjusted for inflation, and was the last film from the original Carolco Pictures before the studio closed. Double ouch.

You know what would be a box office smash? A rewritten remake of Cutthroat Island, but starring the wild, beautiful and bisexual Amber Heard in the Geena Davis role as Morgan, the female pirate captain with a guy's name, while Johnny Depp, Amber's soon-to-be ex-husband, could take on the Matthew Modine role of Shaw, a con man and thief who was a slave up for auction before Morgan/Heard fell for him. Lord knows there would be plenty of chemistry between the stars in the remake — much of it entertainingly toxic.

(If you can make this happy, Scotty, I want credit as executive producer or something.)

I enjoyed the Max Ebb column's discussion on movies that featured sailing ships. To this I'd like to add the 1964 movie Island of Blue Dolphins, which was shot at Anchor Bay on the Sonoma Coast. The movie featured IL'mena, one the more historic sailing vessels that people never heard of.

IL'mena only had a small part in the movie — mainly long shots from the beach: for example, in the opening scene when actor George Kennedy leads a party of Aleut Indians from the ship to the beach so they can trade with local Native Americans before massacring them.

The movie is based on a true story. Aleut sea otter hunters on the brig IL'mena, which was captained by a Russian, visited San Nicholas Island in Southern California in 1811. They apparently massacred all of the native Chumash Indians — except for one woman. She survived on the island alone for 18 years. The story of her plight became a children's classic by Scott O'Dell. Universal produced a movie, directed by James B. Clark, about it in 1964. Local Pomo Indians from Point Arena were used as extras.

That movie was a real stinker except for actress Celia Kaye and the Sonoma Coast. Celia won a Golden Globe Award for being the Best New Actress, and a New York Times review wrote, "The most attractive thing about the picture is the idyllic loveliness of the landscape — rocky coastal lines, gleaming beaches and azure skies."

The backstory is that the Russian-American Company bought the brig Lydia from a Boston merchant in Hawaii in 1812 and renamed her the IL'mena. (The date of purchase suggests that maybe she really wasn't involved in the massacre a year earlier on San Nicholas.)

Anyway, on June 19, 1820, after eight years serving Russia in its failed attempt to colonize America, the IL'mena went aground at Cape Barro de Arena, now Manchester Beach State Park, approximately 100 miles north of San Francisco. The brig's intended passage from Alaska to Fort Ross was supposed to have been her last anyway. She was abandoned in the surf, the first recorded shipwreck at Point Arena.

IL'mena is believed to have been built of teak, and was similar in design to Pilgrim, the 86-ft brig on which Henry Dana sailed in Two Years Before the Mast.

In 1998, Jim Allan, an archaeologist from Berkeley, mounted a scientific expedition to try to find and recover the IL'mena. He didn't find her. In 2012, on the 200-year anniversary of the founding of Fort Ross, Russian and American historians and archaeologists convened in Santa Rosa to discuss the history of that era. A video documentary on the search for the IL'mena was shown.

According to the last known sighting, the IL'mena sank in the surf an estimated 150 feet from the beach: "At this time, the keel was buried five feet in the sand according to the depth markers on the stern post," recorded an agent for the Russian-American Company on June 28, 1820.

The latest strategy to locate the exact spot where she rests involves strapping a magnetometer on a drone to scan the beach for signatures of the wreck.

Magnetometers can detect objects through sand up to a certain point, although after 200 years, it is not known how deep the IL'mena might have sunk into the sand. It is known that her masts were knocked down during the grounding, and
most of her cargo was salvaged. But as she was carrying a load of pig iron for the shipyard in Fort Ross, that pig iron might well still be covering — and protecting — the hull from further deterioration.

Rich Sequest
Jewel, Ka Shing 37 Trawler

Rich — A day after we got your letter, the Wanderer received a letter from an aging relative in Germany who has long had an obsession with trying to find the remains of the German sailing vessel Bremen, which was lost on the Farallon Islands in 1858. He reports that they have a highly qualified search team, and that the BV-Bremen Bank has agreed to put up $100,000 for the search. After more than 150 years on the bottom of that often-riled-up patch of ocean, how much could be left?

We want to join this year's Baja Ha-Ha, but have heard that there were problems with Mexico and Hull Identification Numbers (HIN) a couple of years ago. We have a Beneteau 473, and her HIN number has been painted over and is no longer visible. We have the hull number on the inside of the boat, but not on the stern. How important is it to have it on the stern of the boat?

Carol Kratz
Soiree, Beneteau 473
Redondo Beach

Carol — It was two years ago that AGACE, a tax assessing and collection agency of the Mexican government, went a little crazy. Actually, they went stark-raving nuts and created a public relations disaster for Mexico.

Six marinas were raided in a most heavy-handed way by AGACE officials and marines armed with machine guns. Over 300 boats were impounded, sort of, for various perceived paperwork shortcomings or offenses. We say 'sort of impounded' because many boatowners were never informed their boats had been impounded and carried on as though nothing had happened.

One of the main issues was whether boats had Temporary Import Permits (TIPs). If a boat didn't have one, it was subject to import tax, although we don't think it ever came to any foreign boatowners' having to pay it.

Another of the paperwork issues was whether boats had HIN numbers where the 'inspectors' thought they should be. Mind you, the inspectors were such nautical novices that they had to be given little diagrams to show them the location of things such as the bow, the stern, the mast, and so forth. In many cases boats were identified as "Yanmar 55," "Johnson 150," "RayMarine" and other obviously wrong names. In many cases boats were 'impounded' even if they had a HIN number in the appropriate place. Why? Because the owners didn't happen to be aboard to point it out.

AGACE's intentions were reasonable — to get a handle on what boats were in Mexico and to make sure they were in the country legally. Their execution, however, was abysmal. As in an F­–. Despite a tremendous amount of bad publicity in the boating world, the following year's Baja Ha-Ha fleet was even bigger than the previous year's.

Anyway, it seems like ancient history now. The Mexican officials are much wiser and more reasonable, and the marina officials now ensure that every boat that comes into their marinas has all its paperwork together.

If your boat no longer has a visible HIN number, or never had one, don't worry. The new TIP forms allow you to use your federal documentation number instead. Alternatively, you can put the HIN number on the stern of your boat in any semi-permanent or permanent way you want.

It's our belief that you have nothing to worry about. Nobody had problems last year.

Hurricane Ike struck the southeast coast of Texas in 2008, and damaged or destroyed hundreds and hundreds of boats in places such as Houston, Beaumont and Port Arthur. The following year I went online searching for hurricane-damaged boats. I found a website that listed about every kind of watercraft: sailboats, powerboats, duck boats, large and small fishing boats, cabin cruisers, Jet Skis, everything. The boats were going to be sold via auction on the Internet.

So I flew to Houston to look at a Catalina 34 that was only lightly damaged. While there, I also saw a 2000 Catalina 320 that had minor damage to the hull and damage to the pulpits and stanchions. But she hadn't been sunk and there was no damage to the mast or sails. She looked like a good candidate for rehab.
After returning home, we began the long wait — 18 months! — for the boat to come up for auction. But on Labor Day Weekend 2010, we were the successful bidders on the Catalina 320, and got her at less than 10 cents on the dollar.
Now we had to get the boat to Marin. We decided to truck her, which took about three weeks in all. We shipped the boat to Matt's San Rafael Yacht Harbor, where we could have Gordie Nash do the expert fiberglass work, and where we could do the rest of the work ourselves.

The pulpits and stanchions looked as though a giant had stepped on them, and the anchor roller had taken a real hit. The anchor roller was repairable, but all the rails and stanchions had to be replaced. The starboard mid-section caprail had been crushed and required rebuilding.

The list of things to repair and replace was about as long as my arm, and the following things needed attention: standing rigging, three halyards, VHF masthead antenna, upper rudder bearing, electric bilge pump, new anchor roller and stemhead fitting, running lights, backstay adjuster, topping lift, filters for the oil, fuel and water, circuit breakers — and one and on.

After all the repair/rebuilding was done and the bottom cleaned and painted, we turned our attention to getting the engine running. After an attempt or two, we succeeded. Much to our surprise — and delight — there were only 147 hours on the diesel of the 10-year-old boat. It was hardly broken in.

The sails were in very good condition, the upholstery clean with no damaged spots, and the interior had very little wear. We think the owners mainly used the boat for staying aboard and not much motoring or sailing.

The bottom line is that for the last five-plus years we've had a great boat that looks almost new, sails well, and has been a very good investment. Her name is — what else? — Phoenix, and she can frequently be seeing pleasure sailing or racing.

If any readers want to know more about my experience with a hurricane-damaged boat, I'm open to talk about it. I can be contacted at

Jon Rolien
Phoenix, Catalina 320
Corte Madera

Jon — Our only caution for readers thinking about buying damaged boats is that it's very easy for the layperson to underestimate the cost of the repairs.
Actually, more than a few industry experts have made that same mistake. So be very careful not to overpay, particularly if you're going to pay others to make the repairs.

I enjoyed reading the June 1 'Lectronic story about Tania Elias Calles planning to sail a Laser to Hawaii, and the editor's mention that Carlos Aragon, also a Mexican, had sailed a 14-ft Finn from Mexico to the Tuamotus many years ago.
While I was marina manager at Marina Cabo San Lucas, I became quite good friends with Alex Bulaich, another somewhat iconic Mexican sailor. Alex had done the Whitbread on Flyer, having previously — and, in retrospect, sadly — turned down an invite to sail aboard the late Ramon Carlin's Sayula when she won the initial Whitbread Around the World Race.

I first met Alex when he showed up in my office, having left his wife, four kids, and a large dog at the fuel dock with the family's cruising boat — a J/24! They had started their cruise from Santa Barbara some weeks earlier, and had even picked up an old sailing friend for the final leg between Mag Bay and Cabo. That made for a total of seven people and a large dog on a J/24.

Alex and family lived aboard the J/24 at the Cabo Marina for another year or so. I routinely looked the other way when they cooked using a hibachi at the dock, which was against the marina rules. But their story was a great one, and Latitude did a nice recap of it.

While on the beach one day, Alex introduced me to another Mexican sailor, who I am 99.9% sure was Carlos Aragon, the one who had sailed the Olympic dinghy across the Pacific to the Tuamotus. With a twinkle in his eye, Alex told me about Carlos' amazing singlehanded voyage. What made the trip particularly unique was the cooking — or non-cooking — arrangement, as Alex and Carlos were only too delighted to describe.

Nobody could figure out how Carlos was going to be able to carry enough provisions, let alone prepare and cook meals on such a small open boat. But Carlos came up with a simple solution. For several months before his departure, he ate and ate and ate, gaining a very large amount of weight. Then he fasted the more than 3,000 open-ocean miles to the Tuamotus, cooking nothing and eating nothing! Aragon reported that he arrived in the Tuamotus back at his normal weight, in good shape, fit — and more than a little hungry!

By comparison, it makes Webb Chiles' attempt at a sixth circumnavigation, this time with the Moore 24 Gannet, seem like a luxury cruise.

The Aragon story goes to prove that where there's a will, there's a way. And that the intrepid sailors of Mexico have done more than a few amazing things.

Tim Schaff
Jetstream, Leopard 45
Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Tim — We don't think there is any doubt that Aragon completed his incredible voyage with a Finn in 1977, but we can't help but be a tiny bit skeptical of the claim that he didn't eat any food on the way. True, during a fast at age 74, an already-thin Mahatma Gandhi survived for 21 days on just a few sips of water a day. And the Scientific American reports that there are well-documented cases of people surviving for 28, 36, 38 and 40 days without any food. But Aragon took 107 days to get to the Tuamotus. Could he really sail a Finn, a difficult boat to sail in the first place, for 107 days without any sustenance?

Perhaps Aragon didn't bring any food, but caught and ate fish or barnacles that surely grew on the bottom of the boat. That's what the French physician-navigator Alain Bombard when he drifted across the Atlantic Ocean in an inflatable boat many years ago, deliberately starting out with no food or water to prove certain survival beliefs he held. We find it amazing that Aragon was able to carry/collect enough water for 107 days in the hot tropics. At the very least, we need a couple of liters of Pellegrino a day to survive. And to thrive, some vodka and ice to go with it.

For small-boat voyaging context, it's important to remember that Webb Chiles didn't just cross the Pacific in an 18-ft open boat, but did a circumnavigation with one. Actually two Drascombe Luggers, as the first one was confiscated by officials in Saudi Arabia, who also threw Chiles in prison for a spell.

I'm considering buying a Pacific Seacraft 25 for two reasons. First, because she's seaworthy. Second, because she can be towed to and from cruising grounds in the United States and Mexico.

I really want to do a Baja Ha-Ha in the future, but before I buy the Pacific Seacraft I'd like to know that she'd receive dispensation for being less than the Ha-Ha's normal 27-ft length limit.

Jim Palermo
(melting in) Phoenix, AZ

Jim — Assuming that you have even a modest amount of sailing experience, and a little bit of overnight experience, the Poobah would not have any trouble allowing you to enter the Ha-Ha with a Pacific Seacraft 25. The biggest issue is not really the seaworthiness of smaller boats, but rather whether they are fast enough to keep up with the pack. Nonetheless, in past Ha-Ha's we've allowed such boats as a Cal 24, a Flicka 20, and even a Mirror 19.

There's a bit of a funny story about Dulcinea, the Flicka 20 we allowed Randy Ramirez of Stockton to enter in the 2006 Ha-Ha. When discussing whether he could enter the Ha-Ha with such a short boat, the Wanderer asked him about his sailing experience. He responded that he'd previously sailed some boat from Catalina and back. But thinking he'd said that he'd sailed the boat to Canada and back, the Wanderer said sure, you can enter. He and Dulcinea did just fine.

Five years later, Jenny Haldiman and Randy Ramirez not only sailed across the Pacific in their Mariah 31 Mystic, sort of a bigger brother to the Pacific Seacraft 25, they used only 12 gallons of fuel between the West Coast and New Zealand.

For the life of us we can't remember or find the name of the elderly Southern California sailor who singlehanded a Pacific Seacraft 25 around the world. It was an incredible story, because he'd reached the stage where his heart was so bad that he was unable to walk up a flight of stairs. We can't remember what he did, but he recovered his health enough for a small-boat circumnavigation.

19, NOT 9 FEET
In the June 1 'Lectronic about Tania Elias Calles planning to sail a Laser from California to Hawaii next year, Latitude mentioned some other long-distance voyages in small boats. Among them, Kenichi Horie's voyage from Japan to San Francisco with Mermaid, which Latitude described as a 9-ft sloop. Mermaid is actually 19 feet — and may still be on display in the San Francisco Maritime Museum.

Gerard McBride

Gerard — Our apologies, it was a typo. But it gives us an opportunity to review the incredible voyages of Horie.

Kenichi made that voyage to San Francisco in 1962 at the tender age of 23, when he became the first person to sail solo across the Pacific. He'd tried to get a passport, visa, and US currency before leaving Japan, but small-boat travel wasn't common then, and he couldn't get any of them. So he was promptly arrested upon his arrival in San Francisco, which was not yet a 'sanctuary city'. But when Mayor George Christopher, San Francisco's last Republican mayor, heard about it, he had Horie released, got him a 30-day visa, and awarded him the key to the city.

In 1974 Horie did an east-to-west circumnavigation, and four years later did a "north to south" circumnavigation. In 1985, he sailed a solar boat from Hawaii to Japan. From 1992 to 1993, he sailed from Hawaii to Okinawa in a pedal-powered boat. In 1996, he made a 10,000-mile, 148-day crossing of the Pacific from Salinas, Ecuador, to Tokyo with Malt's Mermaid, a solar boat made of recycled aluminum.

Kenichi went big-boat in 1998 when he sailed from San Francisco to Japan aboard Malt's Mermaid II, a 32-ft by 17-ft catamaran made mostly of 528 beer kegs welded end to end. The cat had masts on each hull and the junk-rigged sails were made from recycled plastic bottles.

In 2002 Horie sailed from Japan to San Francisco aboard the Mermaid III, a replica of the original Mermaid, but constructed from a variety of recycled materials, including whiskey barrels for the hull, aluminum cans for the mast, and plastic soda bottles for the sails.

For good reason Horie is considered Japan's greatest sailor — and one of the world's most accomplished seamen.

I only recently started reading Latitude 38 in October last year and can't tell you how much I enjoy it. I especially enjoyed the letters and editorial comments about sneakaboards, which leads to the reason for my letter.

Let me start at the beginning, I'm a US Navy vet for Nam. I got myself balled up and am now in recovery at VA SORCC near Medford, Oregon. I've always wanted to return to the sea, and thanks to back pay I'm hoping to get, my chance may come soon.

But I need some guidance and haven't gotten any from writing to yacht brokerages. Maybe you can help. Here's my situation:

1) I've got about $15,000 for a down payment.

2) I've never bought a yacht before.

3) It needs to be large enough for my daughter, my five-year-old grandson and myself.

4) Safety is critical.

5) I need refresher lessons in sailing.

6) I would need to get an upper and lower survey for the boat.

I've looked at several boats online and concluded that a motorsailer with a center cockpit pilothouse, schooner or cutter or junk rig, might fit the bill.

But a wise man asks for help. That's the gist of it. Can you help?

Steve Meer
White City, OR

Steve — We're sorry if this letter is getting published a little late, for it seems to have slipped through the cracks.

That said, first things first. Since you're not the young pup you were the last time you went to sea, the first thing we'd recommend is to take sailing lessons, both to help you re-learn things and to help you decide if getting into a boat is something you really want to do.

The important information you left out is what you're going to do with the boat and where you're going to do it. We presume she's going to primarily be for living aboard, but that you want to do some sailing, too. Where you're going to do that is going to make a lot of difference.

If you can put $15,000 down and you have good credit and supporting income, you can probably afford a $60,000 boat. We're not sure you're going to find many center cockpit motorsailers in that price range, mostly because not that many were made. A boat that might really work for you is a Columbia 45, which is an unusually large 45-footer with a sort-of center- cockpit arrangement. Based on a wild night 40 years ago, we know the aft cabin is unusually large for a boat that size. We saw one listed for $45,000, but she's in New Jersey. We saw another listed in San Diego for $69,000.

No matter what boat you buy, if you get a loan she's going to have to pass a survey. With a boat that age — we're talking the early 1970s — you're going to want to make sure the diesel surveys well, too.

Good luck.

How do they do it?

I'm 66 years old and in moderately good physical condition, but I feel all of my 66 years. And I love and need my naps.

So I find it hard to believe — although it's clearly true — that Jeff Hartjoy, who just turned 70, of the Baba 40 Sailors Dream, could do a 167-day singlehanded circumnavigation via the five great capes. Day and night for 167 days, much of it in the icy and damp Southern Ocean, and having to sew up his headsail about a million times — how did he find the energy!? And all the repairs he had to make whenever something broke, all the reefs he had to take in the middle of the night, etc. I'm surprised that he didn't fall over from exhaustion.

And then I read in 'Lectronic that 71-year-old Jeanne Socrates is getting ready to set off on her fifth solo trip around the world with her Najad 380 Nereida, intending this to be her second unassisted, nonstop go-around.

I get exhausted just thinking about what these incredible senior citizens have done and are doing. What is their secret?

Alfred Jenkins
Reno, NV

Alfred — We'll ask them the next opportunity we get, but it probably has something to do with good genes, powerful desires, and a 'use your health or lose your health' attitude.

I now have a deadline for my departure to South America, the ultimate goal that will mark the finish of my 'around the world before 80 years' dream. I have until February 28, 2017, to do it.

I will be giving some SoloMan presentations at the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, and then heading south on September 12, the day after the festival is over. I plan to make several stops along the West Coast before continuing on to Mexico at the end of the hurricane season in November. Right now I'm hauling Fleetwood for a bottom job, with the intent of being back in the water for Gig Harbor's annual blessing of the fleet.

After I sailed my first Fleetwood 48,000 miles to 51 countries in nine years, including 'circumnavigating' Western Europe, funded by no more than my modest monthly Social Security check, I lost my boat in the Balearic Islands after a series of November storms. At the time, the publisher of Latitude, who has long been a been big fan of mine, asked if I would be willing to accept donations from Latitude 38 or from Latitude readers to help keep my 'around the world before 80 years' dream alive. I declined at that time, as I had about $5,000 to my name, and friends, so I didn't need any help.

As many Latitude readers know, I've since been able to acquire a sistership to Fleetwood in the Northwest. But I still have a number of things to purchase and install on her before I leave, not all of which I can readily afford. So if anyone has any of them in their garage for donation or sale, I have published a list of what I need at www.

In addition, I'm open to suggestions on choices for navigation and communication while along the coast of Central America and while on the Caribbean coast of South America.

I also benefit if anyone buys either of my SoloMan and Mastmakers' Daughters books on Amazon — or even offers a positive reviews. The positive reactions I have had so far confirm the intentions I had in writing the book. It is less about the sailing experience and more about the discoveries and the people I met.
By the time this letter appears in print, I will have already done a SoloMan presentation at the Encinal YC for the Summer Sailstice Weekend, and also at the Santa Barbara YC a couple of days later. If any other yacht clubs or groups would be interested in hearing my story, I would be happy to appear in September or October, asking only that I be allowed to sell my books. I can be contacted at

Jack van Ommen
Fleetwood, Naja 30
Gig Harbor, WA

Readers — We are indeed big fans of Jack, for when he went bankrupt at about age 60, and sometimes couldn't even make his monthly rent payment, he demonstrated just how much a person can do with so little. As a result, he's since led a much richer life than many of his contemporaries.

Van Ommen's story is a terrific one, so if you need a speaker for your group or yacht club in September or October, you should think about contacting him. We're hoping to be able to have him speak just before the October 31 start of the Baja Ha-Ha in San Diego. We're also going to be checking his 'shopping list' to see if we can't help with the final outfitting of his boat.

As a delivery skipper who delivers only catamarans — and who has sailed his own catamaran around the world — I see more cats than ever headed from the East Coast and Caribbean to the West Coast.

I'm back in Panama for the second time this year with another Lagoon catamaran headed for Cabo. West Coast sailors have taken longer than I anticipated to become enthusiastic about cats, but the interest seems to be accelerating. There are probably 10 catamarans here at Shelter Bay Marina in Panama, either in the water or on the hard. Each time I come through there seem to be more. I even got a tour of a Gunboat 66 that was about to make a transit.

There are some trimarans, too. I saw an old Piver as well as a Horstman.

A woman named April just opened up a sail loft here at Shelter Bay Marina. We had the jib, spinnaker and bimini professionally repaired by her, and at a reasonable price. April plans to run her shop for about a year, during which time she hopes to train some local talent to keep it running. Then she and her husband will continue with their voyage around the world.

Jim Milski
Sea Level, Schionning 49 Cat
San Diego

Readers — Another cat coming to the West Coast and then Hawaii is Tim Dick's just-starting-to-be-built-in-France Lagoon 42. The is an amped-up version of the new 42 with all kinds of custom go-fast features. This sounds pretty hot, as there is a video of a stock 42 screaming along at about 19 knots. If we remember correctly, Dick's boat is slated to do the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers and then next year's Transpac.

Dick says the cat should be sea-trialing in early September. "Lagoon is doing a special build: flush thru-hulls, faired epoxy bottom and extra-precise layup. A custom inventory of new DFi sails (similar to North 3Di) from Incidences will include a Code 0, A3, S2, etc. It should be a fun boat ­— I can't wait."

Dick has named her Tardis (from Dr. Who) ­— Time and Relative Distance in Space — as she's bigger on the inside.

I read with much interest your Building Nemo article, which articulated Terry Alsberg's and Ron Moore's involvement and love of the boatbuilding project. I hope readers understand the importance of the two men's personalities and how it affected the boat's design and boatbuilding process.

For years Ron dreamed about building a 'hot rod' Moore 24. In January 2015, there was Terry in Riverside Lighting asking if Ron was interested in building his 'hot rod' Express 27. Within one week the project began.

Terry has a strong opinion on boat design and construction. After all, he owned Alsberg Brothers Boatworks years ago. He asked Ron, a perfectionist, to build his boat.

I had to laugh at your report that Ron "designed" the kelp cutter. Ron actually just suggested copying the kelp cutter on the Melges, but Terry insisted on his own design. Ron built an entire hatch off-centerline to accommodate the kelp cutter. Terry knew it wold be expensive, but he did it anyway.

Since Latitude 38 was last at Moore Sailboats, Nemo has been rolled over, the keel fit, and hull perfectly hand-faired. The sanding sent Ron to an orthopedist for treatment of his shoulder. Ron knew the cost of that, too, but he did it anyway.

The paint job is a unique copy of the original Nemo pattern. It is a labor-intense, lengthy process, with many lines that must be perfect. Then it will be rubbed out to a mirror finish.

Construction materials, boatbuilding techniques, sailors' desires, and standards have changed since the 1980s. The ULDB needs to change as well. Nemo is an example of a new ULDB 'hot rod' that can keep up with larger yachts and win the race, and will provide for comfortable daysailing. But an even better second 'hot rod' Express 27 could be built.

Christine Weaver's article on Nemo was interesting and accurate. And I particularly enjoyed the rare photo of Ron and Terry smiling at the same time!

By the way, I am married to Ron and have worked with him for 34 years. Terry was the manager of Moore Sailboats when I was hired.

Martha Lewis
Moore Sailboats

During a recent relocation of a new Jeaneau 509 from Seattle to San Diego, I had an interesting experience with lights while on night watch. We were a few miles off San Simeon, and because it was a clear evening, I could see a few lights from homes near the shore and the occasional car headlight.

Then I noticed a vessel nearby. She was between us and shore, which I found quite interesting as I had thought we were fairly close in ourselves. I could clearly see the boat's port running light and a steaming light. A few minutes later I looked over that way again, and now saw her green running light — and figured that she had turned and was now heading out our way. Looking over at her just a few moments later I was now seeing the red running light again. Figuring she'd resumed her original course I stopped watching her.

Yet when I looked her way again later, I could clearly see her green running light. As I continued to watch this vessel to determine just what she was doing, I saw her green running light seem to turn yellow and then red. Not quite understanding what I was seeing, I kept watching.

Then it dawned on me that I had been looking at a lone stoplight on shore that had a utility pole with a light mounted on it.

Captain Jack De Friel
Kirkland, WA

Capt. Jack — There's a signal light on the PCH near Dana Point that can confuse mariners coming up from the south. And signal lights in the background can make entering Santa Barbara Harbor tricky at night.

I've been a reader of Latitude 38 for years, and think it would be fun if you had a section titled 'Where Is Rimas?'

I've been sailing since the tender age of seven and am past 50 now. I have to say that I find Rimas to be an inspiration.

Joe Ibanz
Planet Earth

Joe — An inspiration. In what way? Based on the fact that Rimas has almost always required assistance to complete his record-slow voyages anywhere, and frequently has ended up in places he didn't intend to go, it seems he has appallingly limited sailing skills. Furthermore, he seems incapable — maybe just uninterested — in even the most modest boat maintenance. Yet he incessantly proclaims himself to be some great sailor on a historical voyage of his own imagination. We wish Rimas all the luck in the world, but if you're looking for inspiration, we'd suggest Jeff Hartjoy, Jeanne Socrates, Pete Passano, Webb Chiles or hundreds of others. In our opinion, it's insulting for them to be mentioned in the same sentence as Rimas.

In the June 15 'Lectronic, the editor asked if anyone had sailed across the Pacific without burning any fuel, or knew anybody who had. The subject came up because the editor had stumbled across a letter from 2012 in which Randy Ramirez of Stockton and Jenny Haldiman of the Mariah 31 Mystic had sailed from the West Coast to New Zealand starting in 2011, and had burned only 12 gallons of fuel.

Does using less than 200 gallons while doing a singlehanded circumnavigation with my self-built 39-ft ferro ketch Eos in 1977-1980 get my any 'points'? I did the Milk Run from San Diego to Australia with a Mercedes 636 engine, then changed to a Volvo three-cylinder in Australia. I didn't burn much fuel with either engine, but that's because I couldn't afford any. I was living on $225 a month, and only had money for food, not fuel, too.

I later sailed to the Philippines with Eos II, a Hollman 50. Photos of both my boats can be found in books by Steve Dashew.

In the intevening 27 years I've built two cats between 50 and 60 feet in the Philippines. I'm now in the process of building myself a very light and fast modified Kurt Hughes 54-ft cat, to be outfitted with two 30-hp outboards. I'll be using more wind and less motor than with my previous boats. Go simple! You can see my new boat on Google Maps at 10.948 North and 124.031 East.

Dean Vincent
Central Philippines

Dean — Let's see, you built your own 37-ft ferro boat and sailed it solo around the world in the late 1970s. According to Latitude's 'Adjusted Fuel Usage Formula', you only really burned 17 gallons. Congratulations!

Good luck with your new cat, as sailing her is going to be an entirely different experience from the ketch. And if you really do build her light, you'll hardly ever want/have to use the engine.

To be clear, more than a few sailors have crossed the Pacific without using any fuel. From way back when there was Harry Pidgeon, then John Guzzwell, and more recently the Pardeys, Webb Chiles, Ronnie Simpson and others.

If anyone has sailed across the Pacific burning little or no fuel, we'd like to hear about it.

I heard that Russell Brown, Jim Brown's son, crossed the Pacific with his 36-ft proa Jzerro, which he designed and built, and which presumably has no diesel. A friend who crossed the same year as Brown said he'd roll up the boat each night, and wake up the next morning to set out on another screaming day's run. Rinse and repeat until he reached landfall.

Tom Van Dyke
En Pointe, Searunner 31 tri
Sabang, Indonesia

I was reminded of William Willis, who rafted from Peru to Australia in the mid-1960s, if I remember correctly. He was an interesting character. I don't know if his voyage by raft qualifies in respect to your question, but as so often is the case, one of your articles has generated memories and interest beyond the original story.

Bob Bean
Noosa Heads, Queensland, Australia

Bob — We'll give Willis props, but rafting, like rowing, is sort of a different deal than sailing, in that a sailboat can become a longtime home on the water. For what it's worth, several people have drifted across the Atlantic. These include the previously mentioned Alain Bombard in 1952. Four years later, the German doctor Hannes Lindemann crossed the Atlantic in a stock Klepper inflatable kayak. It took him 72 days, but he brought food and even beer with him.

Then there's rowing across oceans. It's become so common that there are even rowing races across the Atlantic.

I can't believe how time flies! It seems as if it was just last month that my wife Carol, friend Jeff and I joined the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca for a week aboard their Leopard 45 catamaran 'ti Profligate in St. Barth. But it wasn't a month ago, it was 14 months ago!

It just happened to be the week of the St. Barth Bucket, and the scale and majesty of the boats — minimum size was 100 feet and the largest boats were right about 200 feet — was hard to believe. We got to watch these behemoths race in what has to be the most spectacular sailing event ever on this planet. Despite the size and speed of the boats, the Wanderer got us so close to the action that had a boat gotten dismasted, we would have been hit on the head.

My favorite was Seahawk, the 196-ft Perini Navi with the brilliant red standing rigging, and the enormous chute with the screaming sea hawk in the center. The amazing thing is that we never saw the slightest crew screw-up in the fleet, be it a backwinded sail, an override on a winch, a lousy jibe, or anything like that. The seamanship required was astonishing.

And after the racing, most of the boats tied stern-to the quay, where the crews partied with the same skill and enthusiasm as they sailed. Many of the huge yachts were Med-moored side-by-side. One had a full-on reggae band and 100+ people dancing on deck, the next one had a Cuban salsa theme with another 100 people dancing, the next one was rocking with an Elvis, and on and on. Money, imagination and enthusiasm had been unleashed. I have a huge 'bucket list', but the St. Barth Bucket hadn't been on it.

But that wasn't all, as Jeff and I also got to do a Zen circumnavigation of St. Barth with the Wanderer's Olson 30 La Gamelle. Going around the sparsely inhabited windward side of the island and shooting the narrow gap between Turtle Island and the Grenadiers was great, and so was short-tacking the Ferrari of a little boat through the crowded anchorage. I liked to watch the owners of anchored and moored boats prairie-dogging out the companionways, hoping I wouldn't sail into them. What a great time!

Having traveled all the way to the Caribbean, we didn't fly home directly after our week in St. Barth. We went to St. Martin instead, where we did some sailing on the 12-Meter that Dennis Conner used to win the 1982 America's Cup. It was my third time aboard.

Every time I pick up a Latitude, I'm inspired to add things to my bucket list. Chartering in Turkey, New Zealand and Thailand. A long boat trip to Alaska. Doing the canals and rivers of Europe. And then there are all the non-sailing things, such as doing a Grand Canyon river trip.

As we're over 70, we realize that we've got to get going! So it's with a bittersweet heart that we've decided to put our beloved 45-ft Capricorn Cat up for sale in the Classy Classifieds. I've been working like crazy on her, and she's now ready to show.

But I want to thank the Wanderer and de Mallorca for constantly fueling our sailing and adventuring dreams, bringing out the best in us. We're determined to follow in their wake. Latitude has helped me through some dark and stormy times in my life by reminding me that Mexico — and indeed most of the world — is just a sail away. I just had to let the docklines go.

Latitude has always advocated 'Get on the boat and get off the dock!' I agree. As long as the basic boat is ready, you can finish the other stuff under the warm Aztec sun in Mexico.

It's very difficult to imagine the abyss there will be in my life after Capricorn Cat is gone. But Carol and I are so lucky to have each other — and to have options. For if the Cap Cat sells, we can jump onto our bucket list of things to do. We'll do some of them no matter what happens. And if she doesn't sell? We'll do another Baja Ha-Ha this fall. God, I love my wife and I love my life.

Wayne Hendryx
Capricorn Cat, Hughes 45

Wayne — Thanks for all the kind words, but you seem to have forgotten that you sailed your Ariel 26 to Hawaii and back long before we started Latitude 38. (See elsewhere in this issue about the fellow who sailed his Ariel 26 to Australia.) And you did all that other cruising from Mexico to Panama.

Anyway, we're glad you enjoyed your time in St. Barth with us as much as we enjoyed having you. The Bucket is indeed spectacular, but if you want super-competitive racing on some of the world's fastest yachts, with epic partying à la française, the Voiles de St. Barth, held a month later, is even better.

Yes, we're proud to encourage people to do all they can do. The limitation on most people is not money, but as so many contributors to Latitude have demonstrated, simply the desire to do it. Funny that.

On the one hand we wish you good luck in selling Capricorn Cat. On the other hand, we wish you bad luck. It would be great to do yet another Ha-Ha with you and Carol.

Latitude 38 is the primary institution giving us landlocked sailors a clue to anything that is happening. It would have been nice for you to let us in on the 'Day of Hope for our Oceans' a little earlier than the day of it. I am quite bummed that I had no previous notice, as I might have been able somehow to contribute to the cause.

Thanks for the great work you do, but please try to give us some notice of coming events, not just racing events.

Mark Ellerman
Lake Tahoe, NV

Mark — We'll try to do better in the future, but sometimes we don't even receive notice of such events until they happen.

And it's actually a little confusing, as 'World Oceans Day' is not one specific thing, but rather a grouping of something like 100 very different events around the world 'coordinated' by the Ocean Project. Indeed, everybody is urged not only to participate in Ocean Project-coordinated World Oceans Day events, but to start their own World Oceans Day project.

For more information, or to donate, go to the Ocean Project website. Not that it necessarily means anything, we were unable to find a rating for the organization in any of the nonprofit- watch websites.

But people are cleaning up the waters and beaches without being associated with World Oceans Day. Tom Van Dyke of the Santa Cruz-based Searunner 31 En Pointe sent us a photo of folks at Pulau Rubiah, an Indonesian national park near Sabang, doing it on their own. The area has great snorkeling and diving, and local officials likely reason that the cleaner the area is, the more attractive it will be to tourists.

I need a lot of work done on my Cascade 29, such as installing an engine and having rotten wood replaced. Does Latitude have any suggestions on a yard in Mexico that has a good reputation? I won't hold you responsible if anything goes wrong. The boat was built in 1973.

Eliot Ackerfield
Cascade 29
Planet Earth

Eliot — We know people who have had good work done in the Vallarta/La Cruz area, Mazatlan, La Paz and San Carlos, but we're not in a position to make any specific recommendations. In any event, it would probably be less expensive if you had independent contractors do the work, as it doesn't sound as if your boat needs to be hauled out in a yard. We suggest you ask for recommendations from people who have had work done.

You didn't ask us, but we think you also want to be careful about how much money you're willing to pour into a relatively small boat that is over 40 years old. If you can't do most of the work yourself, it might not make economic sense.

I know that you installed electric heads on Profligate before the start of the Baja Ha-Ha last year. What kind are they and are you happy with them?

Rollo Tomaso
Newport Beach

Rollo — There is a bit of a story to them. Since we were fitting out Profligate to do a limited number of legal charters on Banderas Bay for very small groups, we decided that we needed a couple of electric heads. As is the case with most people, we wanted reliability above all else, so we contacted Jay Gardner of Adventure Cat in San Francisco. His company's two cats have done thousands upon thousands of charters on San Francisco Bay in the last 25 or so years.

Jay recommended Galley Maid toilets from a company in Fort Lauderdale. "They are industrial-strength electric heads, and we haven't had a problem with them in 20 years."

That sounded good to us, so we called the company to order some. Apparently they build them one at a time. The brochure wasn't particularly clear to someone like the Wanderer, who is more lyrical than mechanical, but we went ahead and ordered them.

We were rather shocked when they arrived, for in addition to the toilet bowl there was a macerator that was the approximate size of the jet engine on a 737. It was as loud as a jet engine from the 1970s, too. Even if we could have lived with the sound, they were simply too big to fit, even in our large head compartments.

The folks at Galley Maid said that we should have ordered the slightly less industrial model that has the macerator inside the toilet. They were nice, as they didn't make us pay a restocking fee on about $4,000 worth of toilets. But we ended up having to pay something like $700 in shipping. Ouch.

As you might expect, by this time it was just days before the start of the Ha-Ha. We conferred with Patsy 'La Reina del Mar' Verhoeven of the Gulfstar 50 Talion, who had been going around singing the praises of her Raritan Electric Toilets. She said they were great, she'd never had a problem with them, and they were fabulous.

So we rushed over to the West Marine Super Store in San Diego to pick up a pair. They not only didn't have any in stock, they don't even carry them. What they did carry was a similar model for the same price. And they could have those delivered by the Thursday before the Monday start of the Ha-Ha.

We hired the guys at Driscoll Boatyard to install them, and they were under tremendous time constraints because the yard was closing down the next day at 3 p.m. for their annual Pumpkin Drop. Yeah, they buy a crate of pumpkins, then raise small groups of people about 50 feet in the air in a scissors lift, and they try to throw the pumpkins into a bucket.

Anyway, the two guys, who have been working on boats forever and say they love it, got to work. It wasn't easy, and soon there were more tools on the soles than in Home Depot. By Pumpkin time on Friday, both heads were hooked up, but only one of them would pump water out. There was a collective scratching of heads trying to figure out why.

The top guess was that the exit thru-hull was plugged — "It has to be!" So we went at it with a clothes hanger from the outside, and then opened it up from the inside. That wasn't it. We were stumped, and had a weekend jammed with Ha-Ha activities, so the plan was to contact Raritan at 7 a.m. on the morning of the Ha-Ha, at which time we'd have the Driscoll Boat Yard crew all ready to go. The Raritan tech guy was terrific. Following his instructions, the guys were able to determine that there was a problem with the motherboard on one head. After some thinking, the tech guy figured a way to work around it. We tried it, and it worked! And we still had two hours before the start of the Ha-Ha.

Our glee turned out to be short-lived on a limited basis. The one head worked fine. Unfortunately, the head with the jury-rigged motherboard seemed to be a little on the weak side. For while it was able to flush urine without a problem, solids just sat there in the bowl, seemingly waiting for a much more powerful flush.

We had three fully functional heads on the cat, so we were able to live with the situation. We planned on trying to fix the bad head in Mexico and brought down a part for it. The part didn't look like anything on the other head, so we decided we could live with one full electric head, one pee-only electric head, and two manual heads until we got back to California. And that's what we've done.

We're told that the fully functional Raritan head works great. Despite having spent thousands on them, we personally haven't used either one once. Such is life.

That said, except for odd negative reports, our understanding is that most people love their electric heads. For those who want to do research, Practical Sailor seemed to do considerable in-depth testing.

Folks headed to French Polynesia in next year's Puddle Jump might benefit from knowing there is a good technique for not getting your anchor chain wrapped around a 'bommie'. Bommies are individual coral heads that litter some of the best anchorages in the Tuamotu Atolls.

When you lay out enough scope for the depth, your anchor chain is almost certain to foul the coral — as you can see from the accompanying photo from the anchorage near the south pass into Fakarava Atoll.

The second drone picture shows the trick we learned on how to avoid this problem. In the photo we are anchored in about 18 feet of water at Hirifa, in the southeast corner of Fakarava's vast lagoon. Moonshadow's anchor is in the patch of clear sand at the lower left corner of the drone shot. But there's a row of five bommies rising to five or six feet above the sand, which threatened to snag our chain, which would have reduced the scope and its spring effect. This could easily lead to having to dive to clear the chain. The chain could also get wrapped tightly around the bommie.

Cruisers down here explained that the way to cope with the problem is to put a buoy on their anchor rode, thus floating the chain above the coral.

In this case we put our float right above the threatening coral heads, which kept the chain hanging a couple of feet above the bommies. It worked great. We haven't fouled our ground tackle in three weeks of anchoring in these situations.
By the way, we also installed mast steps up to the first set of spreaders, as well as a waist-level pulpit on the port side of the mast so I can stand on the spreader to see the bommies. We have used both everywhere we go. You can't believe how much easier it is to see and avoid bommies when you're that much higher above deck.

Another big help for cruising in these waters is the crow's nest that we put on the mast. Deb drives and operates the cockpit windlass control while I climb the mast, allowing us to place our anchor exactly where we want it — at the windward quadrant in a large circle of sand. Then we use fenders to float the chain over the bommies at the leeward end of the circle.

John Rogers and Debbie Monnie Rogers
Moonshadow, Deerfoot 62
San Diego



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