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September 2016

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I thought it was terrific that Jim Clark's 100-ft Comanche smashed the old transatlantic record in late July. According to reports, the 'big bottom girl' covered the 2,880 miles in 5 days, 14 hours and 21 minutes, an average of 21.44 knots. That smashed the old record, set 13 years ago by Robert Miller's 139-ft Mari-Cha IV, by more than 30 hours. That's an improvement of almost 20%!

What made the record more impressive is that Ken Read, the boat's usual skipper, had other commitments, so he was replaced by Casey Smith. But Northern California's Stan Honey was the all-important navigator.
I'd like to know a little bit more about the record run, and wonder if you might be able to contact Stan and ask him the following questions:

1) What was Comanche's top speed?
2) What was the boat's best 24-hour run?
3) What was the highest apparent wind speed?
4) Were there a lot of sail changes?
5) Did they ever have to jibe?
6) From the photos I've seen, the boat is very wet at high speed. So I'm wondering if the crew had to wear foul-weather gear the whole time when on deck.
7) Did the boat get wet below?
8) Did any of the experienced sailors get seasick?
9) Out of the 16-man crew — did Kristy go along? — how many drove?
10) I presume the boat was noisy, but I wonder if Stan could give an idea of just how noisy?
11) Presumably the boat bounced around a bit. Was it hard to sleep?

Jeff James
Delta Dreamer, Catalina 30
The Delta

Jeff — Stan was nice enough to take time to answer all your questions.

1) Comanche's maximum 10-second average GPS speed over ground was 31.84 knots.
2) Our best 24-hour run was 550 miles.
3) The maximum apparent wind speed was 39.5 knots. The maximum true wind speed was 32.2 knots. The average TWS was 21.5 knots. The average true wind angle was 130.5 degrees.
4) We made nine sail changes between the fractional zero, masthead zero and A3. We also did four reef/unreefs.
5) We only jibed a few times. We crossed lines of rain squalls around 0600 EDT of July 23, and again around 2200 EDT on July 23. In both instances we spent about an hour on port working through the light air behind the squalls. Then nearing the finish, we spent about two hours on port jibe after passing outside the Traffic Separation Zone that is south of the Isles of Scilly.
6) Comanche is a wet boat. The crew always wore foulies.
7) Comanche did get wet below, but the crew didn't have to bail as much as during prior events because we carried the removable hard dodger.
8) I don't think any of the crew got seasick because we had a very flat sea state. We never had seas greater than 1.5 meters. In any event, it would be hard to tell if anyone got sick because experienced sailors deal with seasickness quickly and subtly.
9) Kristy was unable to join us. Out of the 16-man crew, there were six primary drivers.
10) Comanche is noisy below. On this particular passage, however, we had flat seas and all reaching and running, so we were not pounding. Also, Comanche was set up to only use human power for the winches and hydraulics, so the engine only ran when we were shifting ballast or charging batteries.
11) Was it hard to sleep? Experienced sailors are mostly able to fall asleep nearly anywhere, anytime.

By the way, as a navigator Stan Honey achieved tremendous success and holds a unique position in the sailing world. But above all, as a positive person and great team player much appreciated by everyone, he is not unlike Magnus Olsson.

For those who don't know the unassuming Honey, consider his incredible record as a navigator: Fastest time across the Atlantic. Fastest time across the Pacific. Fastest time around the world. And 11 wins in the Transpac. He's sort of like the America's Cup in that there is really no second best.

By way of comparison, Manouch Moshayedi's 100-ft super maxi Rio100, which crushed the old Pacific Cup record from San Francisco to Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, averaged 17.8 knots. However, Keith Kilpatrick and crew did hit 32.7 knots, which is a higher top speed than Comanche's.

Having read the 'Lectronic piece about the boatowner in San Diego who was badly burned as a result of a propane explosion at La Playa Cove on August 20, I wish someone would explain to me why CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) has disappeared from boating and been replaced by propane.

When I restored my Cal 40 Conquest 10 years ago, I had a hard time finding a CNG valve system. And when I did, it was very expensive. I have sailed to Mexico and Hawaii with CNG. I know propane was always desirable in Mexico because it was readily available, but why did it go away in the States?

Mike Kennedy
Conquest, Cal 40
Los Angeles

Mike — Propane has four advantages over CNG. 1) Propane produces 2.5 times as much heat as does the same amount of CNG. 2) Propane is not classified as an environmentally unfriendly gas, but CNG is. 3) Because propane is under so much less pressure, the tanks are lighter than CNG tanks. 4) The demand for propane is so much greater than CNG that CNG distribution for boats has been spiraling down since the heyday of the 1980s.
CNG has one big advantage over propane. It's not as explosive.
To its credit, in the right situations CNG can be an excellent fuel for vehicles.

I've just published a book about the history of the Westsail line of sailboats, and Latitude readers might be interested. It's titled Westsail the World, a Collection of Almost True Sea Stories as Told by Westsail Owners and Ex-Owners. I selected and edited the stories.

Even before the 1970s it was well known that sailboats were more of an emotional purchase than a rational one. Yet until Westsail came around, most boat companies promoted cold facts and specifications about their boats, hoping that sailboat buyers were knowledgeable enough to translate such dry information into visions of sailing dreams being fulfilled.

Westsail was different. After buying the molds of the Kendall 32 at auction in 1971, owners Snider and Lynne Vick took a different approach. Thanks to Lynne's advertising agency talents, they realized the importance of the emotional appeal. Westsail marketed the sailing dream.

And boy, was it a successful concept! Westsail delivered more than 1,100 boats in less than 10 years. Indeed, they were perhaps too successful at selling their boats. For in addition to having to quickly add many new workers to meet production demands, it often took them well over the budget to complete a finished boat. The problem was that in the early 1970s, unlike now, oil — and thus resin — prices were exploding. As a result, Westsail could make a nice profit on every kit boat they sold, because they could be easily built in just a week. It was different story with completed boats that could take almost a year to build, so they lost money on many of them.

I've had a long history with Westsail, although a relatively short one with the Westsail Corporation. I was hired to supervise the construction of the first four Westsail 32s for the newly formed corporation, then went on to supervise the construction of the next 250 or so boats. I was then put in charge of making the tooling for the Westsail 42, and Westsail hired another production supervisor. When I got done with the tooling and molds for the 42, I was told my services were no longer needed. There were no hard feelings, as I had fun and a good run.

After I left Westsail, I started my own company, Worldcruiser Yacht Co. For the next 10 years I built a number of custom boats in Costa Mesa. I also finished off a lot of Westsails for owners who had bought kits but didn't realize how much work it took to finish them. "Bring the boat over," I'd tell them, "but stay out of our way when we're working."

After 10 years of doing that, I ran out of customers and closed down. I then went to work for Willard for a couple of years as program manager, building boats for the Navy.

But Westsail owners kept calling me for parts, so I started Westsail Parts Co. in 1988. I worked out of my garage and storeroom — and still do. With more than 1,000 owners on my list, I get calls for parts every day. For example, I just shipped two water tanks to South Carolina, a tiller to England, and some other stuff to Singapore. I primarily sell metal hardware — rails, tanks, rigging, masts and booms. I sell quite a few engines, too. I've sold more than 150 engines over the past 20 years, especially replacing the original seawater-cooled two- and three-cylinder Volvos. I don't sell any fiberglass parts.

Thanks to my longtime involvement with Westsail boats, I was hired by Warner Brothers to be the technical advisor for the making of the movie The Perfect Storm. Readers will remember that the Westsail 32 Satori was a part of the history of that epic storm. That was a fun gig.

Anyway, the stories in this book are about the history of the company, about people building or trying to build the boats from kits, about cruising and racing adventures, and about the owners' association. In fact, proceeds from the sale of the books will be contributed to help maintain the Westsail Owners Association.

Books are available for $24.95, with free shipping in the US from Amazon or from me. Contact me at or (714) 549-9331.

Bud Taplin
Westsail Parts Co.
Newport Beach

Readers — Despite the Westsail 32s being mocked by many in the sailing industry as being 'Wetsnails', the 'Westsail the world' phenomenon turned the sailing world on its head in the early 1970s. But despite selling so many boats, Snider and Lynne Vick had to declare bankruptcy in 1977. A new owner kept the company going for a few years but didn't understand selling the dream concept, and that was the end of it.

Where are Snider and Lynne today? Bud says they still keep a Westsail 42 in Belize, but they live at Point Roberts north of the San Juans, perhaps the only place in the (lower) United States that you can't reach by land unless you go through Canada. Snider owns a Shell gas station and a shipping service. Although the Sniders let Taplin go so many years ago, they remain friends. In fact, Taplin ships Westsail parts to Canadian customers through Vick.

In a testament to the lasting appeal of the Westsail 32 dream, four of them just completed the Singlehanded TransPac. In fact, they had their own 'one-design' class.

We're lucky enough to have nice neighbors at the Alameda Marina where we berth Honey, the Islander 36 that is our Bay Area boat/home. Last Sunday these neighbors hosted a 'morning coffee' on one of the powerboats. It was a delightful group of sailors, old salts and wannabes. The conversation was varied as could be, and the subject of 'community' came up.

We told stories of our 12 years on 'the Farm', an intentional spiritual community that we helped start in Tennessee. This group started out in San Francisco with Monday night classes at the Family Dog on Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Eventually the group created a caravan of 70 buses and 350 people who had pooled money to buy the land in Tennessee back in 1970.

Years later Robert and I would join less organized cruiser communities on San Francisco Bay, in Mexico, in Central America, and in Ecuador. In many ways we found that the boating communities in these places came closer to the ideals of the commune than did 'the Farm'. Each cruiser owns their own boat, runs their own finances, and in essence is running their individual scene, while at the same time participating in the community by sharing local knowledge, giving encouragement, running the nets, helping each other with boat problems, reaching out to the local community, and coming to the aid of anyone in trouble.
With the cruising season rapidly approaching and the Baja Ha-Ha not too far off, we are starting to check off our list in preparing Harmony, our Freeport 41 cruising boat, for our 17th year of cruising. We are looking forward to once again living our dream.

The cruising community is worldwide and springs up in Mexico in places like La Paz, La Cruz, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and the Tenacatita area. The latter is where we'll soon be, again enjoying the camaraderie of other cruisers in that wonderful anchorage. We can hardly wait to get to the beautiful warm water, the gorgeous beach, and even nearby Barra, where we pick up family and friends who come to share the warm weather and the cruising experience.

P.S. As always, we enjoy Latitude 38, which we find to be enlightening, humorous and informative at the same time.

Robert and Virginia Gleser
Honey, Islander 36
Harmony, Islander Freeport 40
San Carlos, Mexico

Readers — As many readers know, Robert and Virginia are the much-loved 'Mayor' and 'First Lady' of Tenacatita Bay, and organize many of the popular social activities in that area. They divide their time between their Freeport 41 that's mostly on Tenacatita Bay, their Islander 36 in Alameda, and the Farm in Tennessee. Like the Wanderer, they believe in living in different parts of the world for significant amounts of time each year.

After I retired from the Navy, I've just tried to live a quiet and simple life aboard my sailboat here in the Inside Passage. I'll turn 75 in September.

'Drone ships', such as the August 8 'Lectronic reports, were proposed and discussed at the international shipping conference in Amsterdam, and encouraged by the likes of Rolls-Royce. Just the thought of a drone cargo ship makes my head hurt.

Clark Tabor
Itchy Feet, Yorktown 41
Rosario, Orcas Island, WA

When I first encountered an article about fully automated drone ships, I thought: "Cool." Then, I started talking to my friends who live aboard ships about what they actually do during a passage.

We are a long, long, LONG way from the reality of fully automated ships. Currently, ships have far too many breakdowns during passages to even come close to achieving any real savings. Imagine sending a tugboat out to fetch one, or dropping a crew aboard to fix one! Also, many of the systems on a ship need preventative maintenance. Guess when that maintenance gets done? You got it, during a passage. The engineering crew aboard ship is busy more than half the time with maintenance. The reason they do this underway is because when the ship is in port it's not making money for the owners.

As someone who works in the tech industry, I can certainly see a time when ships will be completely automated. But at this point the reliability and economics don't indicate that it makes sense.

By the way, for the same reason you teach your children to stay off major roadways when playing outside, sailors will need to learn to stay out of the shipping lanes when sailing the oceans. I'm pretty confident that if sailors learn that the automated ships can't see them and really don't care, then there will not be many collisions.

There is, however, the issue of coming to the assistance of other vessels that are in trouble. It's not clear how an automated ship would do this. But given that we've taught planes to fly and cars to drive without people, I'm pretty sure we'll work that out too.

Beau Vrolyk
Mayan, 74-ft Alden schooner
Santa Cruz

Beau — Maybe we're not as far off as you think. For if all is going according to schedule, Boeing is right now conducting open-ocean tests with their 51-ft Echo Voyager, an unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV) with a range of 7,500 miles and capable of six months at sea. Echo Voyager's huge improvement over the previous-generation underwater drones, the 32-ft Echo Seeker and 18-ft Echo Ranger, is that it does not require the assistance of a surface ship or constant human supervision. It's powered by batteries and surfaces every few days to release exhaust from the generators used to charge the batteries.

I'm 10 years from my sailing/boating retirement, but share Latitude's concerns about unmanned cargo ships in the open ocean. It just doesn't seem safe not to have a human on watch — and preferably awake.

I'm enjoying life in Thailand. I have some mobility problems, but I have a few very skilled and caring caregivers attending me. I'll be 78 next month! But I'm still reading and enjoying every edition of 'Lectronic.

John Keen
Knot Yet, Gulf 32 Pilothouse Sloop
San Francisco to Thailand
Knot Yet II, Nordhavn 46 Power Yacht
Thailand to Malta

I can see at least one positive outcome of the remote controlled cargo ships — minimizing the chance of a pirate attack by eliminating the presence of a crew that can be held hostage for ransom. If pirates took over a drone ship they would not have hostage protection when the navies of the world came looking for them. Also, the pirates would lose a lot of leverage for demanding ransom if the only thing they had to bargain with was cargo.

I guess drone ships would still have to take a pilot on board when entering a harbor. Pilots don't generally operate the vessel. It would be a little strange to have a pilot on the bridge communicating with a ground facility to change course or speed.

John Stevenson
Sarah, Pearson 424 Ketch
Jacksonville, FL

John — If we've sent what's essentially a drone to the moon, frequently have commercial airliners land without human help, and soon will have driverless cars on the road, we don't see why harbor pilots couldn't be done away with, too. After all, they have a far-from-perfect safety record, they risk their lives when boarding ships outside the Gate in rough weather, and nationwide knock down a breathtaking average of more than $400,000 a year.

You might have noticed that L.A. Harbor pilots were in the news recently, as the L.A. Times reported that they are the highest-paid public employees in Los Angeles, making an average of $434,000 a year. So it was something of a scandal when a job opening that came up was filled, out of 50 applicants, by 33-year-old Michael Rubino. Rubino just happens to be — what a hell of a coincidence! — the son of Chief Port Pilot Michael R. Rubino. Young Michael didn't last long, however, as it was soon discovered that he had lied about his job experience. At last word, he was seeking to get back into a bar pilot apprentice program in San Francisco.

What would prevent pirates from taking over drone ships?

Herbert Miller
Grace, San Juan 21
Lake Guntersville, AL

Herbert — Surely security drones could handle that task. A bigger threat might be hackers. We could visualize a ship full of sneakers leaving Hong Kong being hijacked by hackers and taken, by remote control, to St. Petersburg, Russia.

'Drone ships' sound like a good idea to me. But I think cargo submarines would be even better. After all, they'd be below the surface, not in anyone's way. They go out the Gate, submerge, and pop up in Hong Kong a week later.

David Hume

Readers — We refer you to the previously mentioned Echo Voyager. She gets seven miles to the gallon. We're not sure how much more fuel a submerged cargo ship would burn compared to one on the surface.
More reader responses to drone ships next month.

In response to Chris Barry's letter about the lack of aluminum sailboats, my wife and I are presently the owners of an aluminum-hulled 1964 Kettenburg K43. She was built in San Diego by the Kettenburg Boat Yard and Yacht Dynamics, the latter a subsidiary of the former McDonnell Douglas aircraft company. We are convinced that the aluminum K43 we own, hull #5, is probably one of the finest examples of early aluminum hull construction and engineering in the United States. Interestingly, the hull is aluminum, but the deck and cabin structure are made of plywood and wood encased in fiberglass on the outside.

I grew up in Guernsey, a Channel Island which is located approximately 30 miles off the French coast in the English Channel. From an early age I was exposed to many French aluminum yachts that visited the island. Between 1975 and 1980, I studied marine engineering at the City and Guilds of London, and in the mid-1980s was part owner of a wooden-boat repair shop in Auckland, New Zealand. Although I have sailed long distances — i.e. Los Angeles to Tahiti, Japan to Russia, and down to Guam — in many wood, fiberglass and metal yachts, my preference, based on the lesser maintenance issues, is metal sailing yachts.

I was living in Southern California in 2004 and searching for a metal-hulled yacht when I came across Proteus, the aluminum K43 that had been built for legendary sailmaker Kenny Watts. A total of 19 K43s had been built, three of them in aluminum. My wife and I tracked one down in Washington state, but I couldn't find the other ones.

My wife and I have spent the past 12 years refurbishing Proteus from top to bottom. Interestingly, the aluminum hull is in near perfect condition. Unlike the French aluminum yachts that were constructed with flat plates and hard chines to save money, our K43 was constructed with a superb marine-grade electro-coated aluminum rolled-plate hull, which was encased in epoxy resin below the waterline.

Although now more than 52 years old, the aluminum hull has minimal plate corrosion (shallow pitting) in a couple of internal locations. Interestingly, the boat has no keel bolts, as lead ballast was directly encapsulated within the aluminum keel plating, plating that is half an inch thick below the waterline. We have experienced some blistering of the epoxy under the waterline, but when treating the blisters, have found the metal under the epoxy to be in perfect condition.

The only significant issue has been the hull-to-deck joint. This is because the original bedding material used to seal the aluminum hull to the plywood deck has broken down over time, allowing moisture to get in. In all instances possible, we have applied strontium two-part epoxy aluminum paint on all internal and external metal surfaces.

After purchasing the boat, we installed an AC shore current isolation transformer from Charles Marine. The isolation transformer make the AC current entering the boat jump over a magnetic field, and in doing so, stops any negative current's traveling back through the shorepower line, something that can cause electrolysis.

Over the 15 years that I have owned the boat, I have experienced minimal zinc anode replacement, and no aluminum corrosion. I have also systematically been updating the internal DC wiring to make sure that there is no negative or positive electrical charge effecting the hull.

Our K43 is a joy to sail.

Tim and Cassie Chauvel
Proteus, K43
Los Angeles

Readers — Records show that in her first year of racing under Ken Watts, Proteus won the prestigious Whitney racing series of Southern California. In later years under three different owners, the boat went on to win the YRA Champion of Champions Race on San Francisco Bay, did a 14-month cruise to the South Pacific, and on another occasion sailed from Hawaii to San Francisco and back.

On April 27 this year, 'Lectronic reported that due to incoming water and other damage, the Peterson One Tonner Kentucky Woman had to be abandoned off the San Mateo coast. Conditions were said to be rough, with 40- to 50-knot winds and 20-ft waves. After battling the boat's problems and weather for 16 hours, the skipper used the boat's Spot Messenger to send a Mayday. The Coast Guard arrived 40 minutes later, and after a dip in the ocean by the rescue swimmer and skipper, the skipper was pulled to safety.

I owned Kentucky Woman for over 25 years before selling her. She was a great old One Tonner, and along with her old crew, I really miss the old girl. I would like to know what happened to her.

I currently own a Santa Cruz 27 and two Lido 14s.

Thomas Hume
Cookie Monster, Santa Cruz 27
Everett, WA

Thomas — The Coast Guard reported that Kentucky Woman was left to drift. Due to the fact there had been incoming water, we presume she sank within a matter of days. We can recall at least two other sailboats that were abandoned off the California coast this year and allowed to drift.

We're not sure if there has been a change in Coast Guard policy, because the Coasties used to always open seacocks or otherwise make sure abandoned boats would sink so they wouldn't become hazards to navigation.

Maybe Max Ebb can answer the following question for me: Why can you ride the flood from Angel Island to Stockton, but when returning from Stockton, you run out of ebb around Benicia? The question assumes that you leave Angel Island at the beginning of the flood, and you leave Stockton at the beginning of the ebb, and use the same throttle setting in both directions.

I have asked a sailmaker, a harbor pilot, and the chief navigation officer at the Bay Model the same question, but none of them had an answer. But inquiring minds still want to know.

Robert Fairbank
Double Down, Schumacher 30
San Francisco

Robert — Max and Lee answered this question way back in 1980. Nothing has changed, so here it is again:

"The South Bay tides resemble a standing wave — like one end of a sloshing bathtub. The North Bay tides move as a progressive wave, from the ocean to the Delta, like a very long trench with one end open to the sea. When the ocean goes up, water flows into the river. This pulse of flood current propagates upriver. When the ocean goes down, the ebb current also propagates upriver.

"It's a system with a lot of inertia and a lot of friction, with the forcing function of the ocean tide level acting at one end only. It's not symmetrical. The effects of ocean tides always move in the same direction, from Angel Island to Stockton.

"When you're sailing upriver, you can ride the wave of flood current all day. When you're coming downriver, you're moving opposite the wave of ebb current, so you pass through it quickly."

I recently moved aboard my boat and have been happily sailing around the San Francisco and Monterey bays. But I have run into a problem as a result of the Patriot Act.

I have been informed by two financial institutions that my United States Postal Service box address is not a "proper domicile," and thus my accounts were flagged. In order to reduce money laundering and such, the Patriot Act require a "proper domicile" to open accounts with financial institutions.

I've had this problem with Morgan Stanley and the Liberty Group. Both are requiring that I list a physical address. I was proactive with the Liberty Group folks, as I did not want them to be surprised or otherwise cause trouble that would have surprised me later. I suspect I will soon be having the same problem with Bank of America, but for now mum is the word.

Morgan Stanley didn't just pick up on my lack of an address, they froze my accounts! Fortunately, I simply reverted back to my old address, which is still valid for another month or so. I have a good relationship with them, and they worked with me to quickly fix the issue.

Here is what I have found so far:

— Most people in my situation use a relative or friend's address and call it their home. It's an inconvenience for the ones receiving mail, but with paperless billing and such for online banking, it might not be too bad. But still, there are things like voter registration and calls to jury duty that will need a person to look into.

— I found a website called, which has a service with addresses in Texas, Florida, and one of the Dakotas. This service caters to RV people, but should work for sailors, too. You do need to take steps to virtually move to those states and establish a residence, but they will forward your mail, and they will give you a legal physical address — or so the story goes. I am a little unsure of this approach, but it seems viable. But I would actually prefer not to move out of California. It's not a great tax state, but it is my home and where I have lived all my life.

— I could sign up to be a liveaboard at some marina. They provide an address that I think would suffice for this law. But liveaboard slips are hard to come by. And I don't want to live in a marina. I'm living on the hook and planning to do it even more than I am now.

I hate the government, and would like to know how this legislation ever got passed. All I want is to be able to have my mail go to a place on the Peninsula, but the box number is not a residence, so I can't use it at the financial institutions. Funny, the Patriot Act would have the founding fathers rolling in their graves. They should have called it the 'Nail the Citizens Act'.

Peter McCormick
MacPac, Nantucket Island 38
Redwood City

Peter — The Patriot Act requires people to have a proper domicile, meaning a place they live or even just intend to live — as opposed to a residence — in order to have accounts with financial institutions. The idea was that this would help the government prevent money laundering, and has been about as successful as gun-control laws have been in Chicago. We hope you're not one of those who thinks it has something to do with the government's keeping tabs on you, because our government would never do anything like that.

In addition to having accounts at financial institutions, a proper domicile is also required if you want to get a passport, register to vote, register a car, and things like that. The biggest reason, of course, is so you won't miss out when they want to send you a letter calling you to jury duty.

You're correct; there are a lot of people in positions similar to yours, and not just the homeless. It also includes cruisers, members of the merchant marine, full-time RV people, nurses who work internationally, and many more.

The most common and perfectly legal solution is, as you mentioned, to use the residential address of a family member, good friend, ex-wife, someone like that. Preferably find someone who won't just throw your mail in the trash.

Another popular solution is using a mail-forwarding service. It's true that the Patriot Act does not consider a PO box or the like to be the address of a proper domicile, but some mail forwarding services have long been able to provide street addresses that have been accepted by the government.

The most popular states for getting a mail forwarding address are Florida, South Dakota and Texas. It's just a coincidence that those are three states without any state income tax. Such mail services usually start at about $10 a month, and they can handle almost all of your affairs.

Perhaps the most popular mailing service with cruisers is the highly regarded St. Brendan's Isle in Green Cove Springs, Florida. They can open bank accounts for you, get credit cards, register you to vote, and much more. If you want them to, they will scan the front of any mail you get, and ask you what you want done with it. Upon request, they'll open the mail, scan it, and send it to you.

By spending a little time on the Internet, you can determine if St. Brendan's Isle is the best service for you, but it has proven to be for many cruisers.

We were born in Berkeley and haven't lived in any other state, but don't understand your sentimentality for a spendthrift state that is horribly in debt despite nicking most people for 11% or more in income tax.

I'm planning on sailing my boat back to the US from Mexico next spring via the offshore 'Clipper Route'. I would love to hear from anyone who has used that route.

I'm wondering just how far west they had to sail before they started getting lifted to the north. Did the Pacific High play a big part in their course strategy? And any other tips or advice they might have.

Steve Hersey
SeaScape, Union 32
San Carlos, Mexico

Steve — Hopefully you'll get some response to your letter. But we're going to caution you that you shouldn't assume that you'll be able to sail west when leaving Cabo. More than a few people tell us they've had to sail southwest — yes, almost 180° away from their ultimate destination — before they got the gradual lift. It's especially hard for boats that don't point well.

There is, however, a great new tool that can really help you out in your decision-making. It's Windyty, the Internet site that gives you a great animated — rather than static — view of the wind anywhere in the world. We'd watch that carefully for several weeks before you take off, and use it to plan your strategy.

As I remember, last year the Wanderer had a suggestion for what cruisers doing 'six and six' should do in the six months it's too warm to cruise in Mexico. The suggestion was buying a small canal boat in Europe. If I'm not mistaken, he claimed that it was less expensive than buying a motorhome and RV-ing around the West, and less of a burden than trying to spend six months couch surfing with family and friends.

If I'm not mistaken, this would be the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca's second summer of doing this. I'd like to know how it's turned out, and if it's still as inexpensive as he claimed it was last summer.

Fred and Judy Holleren

Fred and Judy — Based on our experience with our canal boat in Europe for three months last summer and three months this summer, we think it's a no-brainer to buy and keep a canal boat in Europe for the six months you're not cruising in the tropics, as opposed to buying an RV and taking it around the West or staying with F&Fs.

If you have miles and book early, you can get to Europe and back for just taxes and fees. If you don't have miles but book early, you can get economy fares on the likes of Wow or Norwegian Air. The latter flies new 787s from Oakland and L.A. to cities in Europe.

Thanks to the continuing favorable exchange rate, the cost of living remains pleasantly low in Europe, except for hotels and fuel. Once you get your boat, you won't need to pay for the former, and because the speed limits are so low on the rivers and canals, you don't burn as much fuel as you might think.

No matter if you dine out in France, Belgium or the Netherlands, restaurant meals are quite reasonable. Even in Paris or Amsterdam, figure on paying less than $20 for three courses. And the Dutch in particular don't skimp on portions or sides, which is why they are the biggest people in the world. The meals are even less expensive than you initially think because the tax is included and you hardly tip anything. So a $20 dinner in Paris is about 30% less than a $20 dinner in the States. Decent wine in typical French restaurants usually doesn't run much over $5, particularly in the countryside. You can buy a whole bottle of decent wine in a store for $5.

We highly recommend that you look for a boat in the Netherlands, probably the province of Friesland, for several reasons. First, the quality of Dutch boats is superior to the French boats, and the Dutch do a much better job of maintaining their boats than do the French. It also helps that most Dutch speak English, and in the Netherlands, your bill of sale is your registration. It's more complicated when buying and registering a boat in France.

If you're on a budget, you can find a decent 30-ft Dutch steel boat — not a romantic-but-expensive-to-maintain old barge — for $20,000 to $30,000. If you want something more spacious and luxurious, plan on paying $50,000 to $60,000 for a nice one in the 36-ft range. You don't need anything bigger. In fact, a couple doesn't need anything bigger than a 30-ft boat.

Berthing and mooring are cheap. In fact, they're free in many places in the Netherlands and France. And in France, sometimes the water and electricity are free, too. You can berth a 30-ft boat across from Central Station in Amsterdam for $10/night, about $190 less than the average hotel room. By far the most expensive place we stayed was Paris, where we paid $45/night for our 42-footer, a boat that is much larger than anyone needs. But we were in Paris, for God's sake.

You can tie up almost anywhere along the shore in France as long as your boat won't be a hazard to navigation. The Netherlands also has plenty of places to tie up for free.

As you'll read in
Changes next month, we asked the Aussie owner of a 28-ft cat in the Arsenal Marina in Paris if his family of three could cruise the French canals on $1,000 a month. "Easy," was his reply. This assumes that you're cooking most of your big meals on the boat.

Doña was getting a coffee and a croissant in Paris in the morning for as little as $2. You can get delicious sandwiches for less than $5 for lunch.

What you must have on your boat are bicycles. The Wanderer rode about 200 miles in Paris alone this summer, enjoying some of the greatest times of his life. Most of the riding along the rivers and canals is flat because river and canal water can't go uphill.

It costs the Wanderer $2,500 to keep the 42-ft Aqua Rosa in a slip with electricity for the nine-month off-season. Places farther from Paris are less expensive, as are off- season slips for small boats. We hire a guy to winterize the boat and do any engine work. It's not overly expensive.

Since only slime grows on the bottom, most people only haul their boats every four or five years. That's not expensive either. Since it's not a saltwater environment, canal boats require much less maintenance than boats on the ocean.

What are the downsides? Traveling by canal boat is slow. Very, very slow. In many places the speed limit is 5 mph. And there are some canals with more than 150 locks. You are not going to find any thrills on a canal boat, at least until you tie up at one of the larger cities. But the countryside is often spectacularly beautiful, the history is epic, and the culture is as rich as can be.

Because canal boating is so slow and bereft of excitement, three months a year is enough for many people. Thus it's possible to go partners on a canal boat, cutting the purchase price in half.

The Wanderer sold the 31-ft Marjani to former
Latitude ad salesman Mitch Perkins, his brother, and his brother's wife. He ended up with two people furious with him. First, Doña de Mallorca, who vehemently wanted to keep the boat, since it gave her a home in the Netherlands in perpetuity for just $100 a month. (Fortunately, we were told we can use Marjani anytime the owners aren't.)

Perkins was also mad. "You've ruined me!" he said. "I'd always thought California had everything I ever needed. I was blown away by Europe from the very first night in Zwolle, and now have to structure my life around spending time in Europe every summer."

After a great day cruising in Croatia on our quite luxurious Catana 52 catamaran Escapade, my wife Debbie and I enjoyed a delicious dinner and watched a good movie, and then I took a long hot-water shower before climbing into my spacious bunk. We're anchored right next to a 25-ft boat that is currently home to five adults, three kids, and a huge dog. One of the kids sailed a couple of miles out here from Stari Grad on his Laser and is now spending his second night on the 25-footer. Earlier I saw somebody waking up after spending the night sleeping on the foredeck wrapped in a sail for warmth.

I would feel guilty about having it so much nicer than they are having it, but I'm old and I ache all over. Plus, they are so busy having fun sailing, swimming, and playing around that they don't have time to realize how unfortunate they are.

Greg Dorland
Escapade, Catana 52
Squaw Valley

Readers — Given the choice, which would you take, luxury or youth? We'd take youth, because you can have mega fun on a mini boat.

I saw Latitude's aerial photo and article on Sausalito Yacht Harbor and Pelican Harbour in the August 15 'Lectronic. As a tenant of Sausalito Yacht Harbor, I wish we had security gates. I've found that many tourists, especially Asians, don't hesitate to step aboard boats so they can take some photos of themselves on them.

Marc Johnstone
Ragnar, Catalina 36

Marc — Tourists love to stroll along the Sausalito Yacht Harbor walkways and look at the boats, don't they? While we understand the downside for boatowners of not having a security fence, it's nice there is still an old-school marina that doesn't seem like a prison. In fact, off the top of our heads we can't think of another marina that doesn't have security gates.

When Latitude wrote about 'location, location, location' for marinas, we can report that we've found a marina with a perfect location for us. We're talking about Glen Cove Marina in southeast Vallejo, which is our home away from home.

The marina is protected from the prevailing SSW winds by a conveniently located bluff, yet it's only 50 yards from the Carquinez Strait, which many sailors consider to be the second windiest sailing venue in the Bay and Delta.

Glen Cove is a safe and friendly marina. In the three years we've berthed our boat here, we've become comfortable with not worrying about leaving a tool or even an electronic device in open view in the cockpit or on deck for days at a time. While there is no boatyard at the marina, there is plenty of DIY work on any given day.

Glen Cove has the usual amenities — a friendly and helpful staff, a sizable guest dock, secure parking, restrooms with showers, laundry facilities, a pump-out station, free Wi-Fi, along with electrical power and fresh water at each berth. What more could one ask for in a marina?

Bill and Kathy Crowley
Erewhon, Newport 30-2

If a boatowner also likes to surf — like I do — there aren't many better locations for a marina than Oceanside Yacht Harbor. One of the best beach breaks in Cali is just across the channel.

David Hudson
Mare Alta, Downeast 38

David — Other marinas in the Sailor/Surfer Hall of Fame would include La Cruz, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Oxnard and the Ala Wai. We'd give honorable mention to Newport Beach, and Barra Navidad. Are we leaving anybody out?

Since you ran the aerial photo of two of the Sausalito marinas, I'm sending you one of the public marina at the Port of Brookings in Oregon. It comes from their website, but I know the pilot who flew the plane for the shot.

The public marina has new management, so I'm probably no longer persona non grata. Heck, maybe I'm even persona molto benvenuto. The old management left on short notice under a big cloud, as public port managers so often do.
Who knows, maybe I'll put old Breta back in the water. Maybe.

Roy Wessbecher
Breta, Columbia 34 MkII
Santa Clara

Readers — It's been years now, but Roy completed one of the all-time budget circumnavigations with a humble and basic Columbia 34 MkII. She's currently on a trailer in his driveway where he books her through Airbnb.
You might remember he also bought a Lafitte 44, which was swept out of the harbor at Brookings after heavy rain and destroyed on a nearby rocky beach. He had no insurance, and the Coast Guard and the marina have denied responsibility.

In case anyone hasn't heard, the Fonatur Marina in Puerto Escondido was sold effective July 1 and is now known as Marina Puerto Escondido. There are two new owners. The managing partner is the local business person who built the small marina adjacent to the Fonatur Marina in the canal three years ago. The other partner is the Hammon Group out of El Cajon, California.

As part of the unusual sale agreement with Fonatur, the new owners must construct a marina in the Ellipse and a 62-unit hotel adjacent to the Ellipse in the next three years — or the property reverts back to Fonatur with no compensation. Needless to say, the new owners are motivated to complete these improvements as fast as possible.

So far the new staff have proven to be very friendly and helpful.

One big change is that all mooring-buoy, marina, and dry-storage rates are now being quoted in US dollars. The new rates, plus the increasing value of the dollar versus the peso, have effectively raised the rates by about 50% compared to the previous Fonatur rates in pesos. That means for our 46-footer, the total daily rate on a mooring buoy is now $13.34/day or $346.84 a month. We think those rates are still reasonable, and, if they aren't raised again, shouldn't scare people away.

However, the new owners have adopted one new policy that would not come under the heading of 'cruiser-friendly'. Unlike other marinas in Mexico that have an adjacent or nearby anchorage, Marina Puerto Escondido does not have and doesn't want to have a program for anchor-outs who want a place to tie up their dinghies so they can patronize the stores, restaurants and so forth.

I have had several talks with Javier Fuerte, the new marina manager, trying to impress upon him that it is a common practice for anchor-out dinghies to be accommodated at places such as Marina de La Paz, San Carlos Marina, Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz, and others. They allow dinghies from outside the marina to land for a daily fee of between $1 and $4 a day. I have also tried to impress upon Javier that these people may not be your customers today, but they may be tomorrow. Neither of these two points made much of an impression on Javier, although he did say he would "put it on the table" for the partners in the future.

In case anybody else would like to weigh in on this issue, Javier's email is .

I do hope Marina Puerto Escondido's big plans come to fruition, so that Puerto Escondido can finally achieve the potential we have all known for so many years to be here.

We are spending yet another summer in the Sea of Cortez, although we'll be doing a housesitting gig in the Sacramento area in September before returning to the boat and heading for the mainland for the winter.

Jake and Sharon Howard
Jake, Hunter 45
Seattle, WA/Sea of Cortez

Jake and Sharon — 'Unrealized Potential' could be the nickname of Puerto Escondido. The first time we were ever on a boat in Mexico was at Puerto Escondido back in 1978. We were there — along with Pat Rains of Point Loma Publishing — when Fonatur officials unveiled the first of their many grand designs for that well-protected harbor. Who knows how many millions of dollars have been pissed away there, and how many projects have failed.

In addition to providing one of the most protected anchorages in the Sea of Cortez, Puerto Escondido has the towering and stunningly beautiful peaks of the Sierra de la Gigantica as a backdrop. Watching the light of the morning sun on the striations is something special. In addition, there are fine anchorages as close as four miles on offshore islands. Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante is the closest, and there is also all of Isla Carmen, which is almost the size of Catalina, not much farther away. Alaska Air provides service from nearby Loreto, the nearest 'big city', to Los Angeles twice a week.

As far as
Latitude is concerned, the 110-mile stretch between La Paz and Loreto is the most rewarding in the Sea of Cortez. Indeed, for those who aren't wiped out immediately following the end of the Baja Ha-Ha, we recommend a quick trip up to the La Paz-Loreto area before the Northers start. It's often the best time of year, with great weather and warm water.

In response to the editor's request for folks who have crossed the Pacific while using little or no fuel, I crossed the Pacific Ocean from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to Gladstone, Australia, in 1988. I did it with two friends aboard my C&C 34 Warp 9.

The first leg of the Pacific crossing was to Hilo, Hawaii. We didn't even start the old Atomic 4 engine once during the 24 days it took us to make the crossing. We had put in two brand-new deep-cycle batteries just before leaving, and also bought one of the very first solar panels. We didn't know if the engine would start after so many miles and days — it did — but we were prepared to sail into Radio Bay if we had to.

After a few months in Hawaii we sailed to Palmyra, which was allowed back then. We didn't start the engine until we got to the entrance to the pass. And so on all the way to Australia. I think we only filled the 20-gallon fuel tank once in the whole crossing, as we only used the engine for anchoring, docking and entering harbors.

Since then, I've continued sailing by teaching my four kids to sail their own boats, doing the Ensenada Race eight times as skipper (winning my class twice), doing the Pacific Cup in 2014 with my son, and doing the SoCal Ta-Ta in 2015 aboard the Ericson 32 Latitudes.

Thanks to the Poobah for organizing the SoCal Ta-Ta and publishing a great magazine, which reminds me of all my early sailing travels across the Pacific.

Marc Marois
ex-Warp 9, C&C 34

The August 12 'Lectronic Latitude piece about the sinking of the Conestoga brought to mind a new museum exhibit in Portsmouth, England, that we recently had the good fortune to see while our Switch 51 waits out the Caribbean hurricane season on the hard in Grenada.

The Mary Rose was the flagship of King Henry VIII, yes, the famous fat one who beheaded two of his wives, and sank in the Solent as he watched from land during a battle with France in 1545. Speculation is that newly added gunports down low in the hull caused flooding when the ship heeled to a sudden breeze.

The ship's remains were painstakingly raised over a number of years, making the Mary Rose one of the oldest, if not the oldest, raised wreck. About one third of the hull was covered by sediment and quite well preserved. She is beautifully displayed in a way that allows viewing of the entire ship.

But the truly amazing aspect of the exhibit is the breadth of items recovered near the wreck, even including the bones of the ship's dog, who apparently lived with the carpenter. The items recovered, from sailing hardware and weapons to shoes and bathing articles of crewmembers, paint an exceptional picture of life aboard a Mddle Ages warship. Anyone interested in sailing history should see and go visit in person if given the chance.

To our thinking, the Mary Rose exhibit overshadows even the Victory, Lord Nelson's flagship in the famous battle of Trafalgar. She was launched in 1765 and remains intact, in truly amazing condition, as a commissioned British Navy warship. She sits out in the elements next to the Mary Rose's museum.

Peter Malloy
Neko, Switch 51
San Francisco

It's been a long time since I've written in response to a 'Lectronic article. Simply put, why did you have to write such a trashy, gossipy, scathing, invective-laced article that is partially conjecture about people's leisure time? I'm referring to the 'She's a Guest On His Megayacht?' 'Lectronic item that appeared on August 17 and was about Ivanka Trump and others who were guests on David Geffen's megayacht Rising Sun in Croatia.

There were too many lines in poor taste for me to even list them all! I fancy myself a conservative in terms of political leanings — although I'm not a supporter of the present presidential ticket — and even I can't get comfortable or take pleasure in reading such a tabloid-worthy commentary on some of the most liberal hypocritical Democratic financiers out there. That piece was garbage, just garbage.

Keep it classy Latitude; otherwise, you just sound like a poor sport with a bad attitude. My two cents.

Ashley Knox
Ohana Kai, Catalina 30
Corona del Mar

Ashley — We appreciate your opinion, but think you missed the point — which is that money, not necessarily a political point of view, is the common denominator of the very powerful, and what a very small and interwoven group that is.

We received two letters on that piece. As you'll see from the next one, the other respondent had a completely different reaction from yours. But before we run that letter, we're going to rerun the
'Lectronic item here so everybody knows what we're talking about:

'Yachting with the Enemy' is the headline that the Daily Mail gave to their recent article about global movers and shakers enjoying some R&R on yachts in Croatia. The DM reported that Ivanka Trump, new mother and the daughter of you-know-which presidential candidate, and her husband Jared Kushner, son of a New York real estate honcho who is in big trouble with the Feds, were vacationing aboard the 450-ft yacht Rising Sun.

The huge yacht was built for Larry Ellison, who later sold it to David Geffen. It may also be remembered that Geffen is the poor boy from Brooklyn who lied about graduating from UCLA in order to land a job in the mail room at a prestigious talent agency in Hollywood. Based on his incredible business savvy, the diminutive and proudly gay man, now in his 70s, became a multi-billionaire.

Geffen is used to having celebrities on his yachts. Earlier this year in St. Barth, he played host at one time to Oprah Winfrey and her life pal Gayle King, Bruce Springsteen and his wife Patty, Tom Hanks' wife Rita Wilson, Disney CEO Bob Iger, former Beatle Paul McCartney, Dasha Zhukova, and others.

Geffen was one of the earliest supporters of Barack Obama back in 2007, and said horrible things about Hillary Clinton. He famously told a reporter that he didn't like either of the Clintons, not because they lied, but because "they lied with such ease."

Now that Obama is being termed out, Geffen has done a 180 regarding Hillary, and can't say enough good things about her. He is surely not a supporter of guest Ivanka's father's run for the presidency.

Now for the juicy part. Also aboard Geffen's yacht was Wendy Deng. If you don't know who Wendy Deng is, you ought to read up on what might be history's most accomplished social, business and political climber.

Wendy was born into a poor family in China, broke up a Southern California couple by marrying the husband after they brought her to California to go to school, graduated from Yale Business School, married Rupert Murdoch, and fell in love with then British Prime Minster Tony Blair destroying her marriage with Murdoch and destroying Murdoch's long friendship with Blair. Wendy has reportedly also had affairs with several of the most exalted men in tech in Silicon Valley, leading at least one cucked wife to go on a megayacht-buying spree.

As if that weren't enough, Deng has been widely rumored to be the love interest of Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin. Indeed, when we were in St. Barth this spring, it was widely believed that Putin and Deng were having a secret rendezvous on a yacht.

That yacht was Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich's 530-ft Eclipse, which was anchored a couple of hundred yards from us on 'ti Profligate. Several times we saw Deng who, being six feet tall, is hard to miss, getting into and out of Eclipse tenders.

It will come as no surprise that Abramovich — whose longtime girlfriend is Dasha Zhukova, a graduate of UC Santa Barbara — and Russian strongman Putin are very good friends. So good that Abramovich gave Putin a megayacht.
Eclipse was anchored off St. Barth for several weeks. We don't know how long Deng was aboard, but it was known that neither Abramovich nor his girlfriend Dasha was aboard the monster yacht at the time. The yacht was clearly at Wendy's disposal, leaving a lot of women wondering what she's got that they don't.

Ivanka, daughter of a US presidential candidate in a country supposedly in a near-Cold War situation with her shipmate Deng's supposed boyfriend, has made no attempt to hide the fact that she and Deng are good friends. She posted their photos on Instagram.

It seems to us that people may disagree on politics, and even which side to be on in a Cold War, but everybody agrees that it's fun to have tons of money and be on megayachts in Croatia.

If the Daily Mail is to be believed, Ivanka and her husband hit the same spots — Dubrovnik, Hvar and Split — that we did earlier this year aboard Greg Dorland and Debbie Macrorie's Squaw Valley-based Catana 52 Escapade, which proves you don't have to be rich or have friends with a megayacht to enjoy the same waters as the rich and famous.

I really enjoyed the objective reporting in your 'Yachting with the Enemy' piece about Ivanka Trump and others on David Geffen's yacht in Croatia. You avoided lots of complicated partisan political issues by simply relating the interesting facts and backgrounds.

Most of all, I completely agreed and identified with your point that locales can be equally — perhaps more intimately — enjoyed aboard our own more modest vessels. My 1989 Catalina 42 Splash and the places we have been together are a dream to me, despite falling many millions and more than 400 feet short by other measures.

John Griffith
Splash, Catalina 42
Long Beach

I hate to tell you this but the photo of Rising Sun was not taken at Cabo San Lucas, but at the Island of Capri in front of the three rocks called Faraglioni.

Mike Fink
Los Angeles

Mike — You're right, but Faraglioni sure does look a lot like being off the Friars, what with the tall rocks soaring out of the water as well as an arch.

I read the August 22 'Lectronic about Profligate's arriving at the Police Dock in San Diego from Mexico and not having any luck with Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. It's not that they didn't have any luck in getting any CBP people to come to the Police Dock quickly, but they couldn't get anybody at CBP to even answer the dedicated phone line. Or in any other way let them know how to proceed.

I'm not sure why the government even requires US boats to check back into the country, as anybody who wants to come into the US does so anyway. And once they get into the States, the government not only ignores the fact that they are illegal, but throws money, food, housing and everything else at them. As for checking for prohibited agricultural products, CBP officers, as Latitude has repeatedly pointed out, have been consistently inconsistent in what they allow and don't allow into the US. It makes you think it's all a bunch of baloney.

Have I ever decided to just blow off checking in at San Diego and continue farther north? Yeah, I have. I'm not particularly proud of it, but I figure since more than 10 million illegal aliens have come to the US without bothering to check in with CBP, why should I, a US citizen, bother to do it?

No, I'm not telling you my name, my boat name, my boat type or my hailing port.

Southern California

Readers — It may be that Homeland Security has changed the rules without telling anyone. We base this on the fact that Myron Eisenzimmer of the San Anselmo-based Swan 44 Mykonos, which has done the Baja Ha-Ha many times, tells us that CBP allowed him to check in by cell phone following a Bash in May this year.

About a year before that, Homeland Security told the Monterey owner of a boat arriving in California from the Far East via Hawaii that they would meet him when he got to California and so there was no need for him to contact them. But he's never heard from them.

I would probably do what the Wanderer did, but like Doña de Mallorca, would have kept looking over my shoulder. I lean strongly to 'responsible' behavior, as it was beaten into me by Catholic sisters in grade school.

In the meantime, I have applied for and received our SVRS number, which requires only a phone call once back in the US. No face-to-face inspection is required. But since I haven't tried it yet, I don't know if anyone would have answered the phone.

Bill Houlihan
Sun Baby Too, Lagoon 410
San Diego

Bill — An SVRS number. What the hell is that?

We'd never heard of an SVRS or Small Vessel Reporting System until your letter. So we looked it up on the US Customs and Border Protection website. Lo and behold "low-risk" mariners can enroll in the SVRS program, and, if approved, can check back into the US with a phone call rather than having to get a face-to-face inspection. Why this program hasn't been publicized is beyond us.

Of course, if we'd had a SVRS number when we pulled into San Diego with
Profligate, it wouldn't have done us any good, because when we called the CBP number, nobody answered.

We spoke with a CBP supervisor about what people should do when they arrive at the Police Dock and nobody answers the CBP phone. She didn't really respond other than to say they'd been having 'problems'. When we suggested they should put a sign on the dock to inform arriving mariners of what they should do, she — and we're not making this up — hung up on us.

Donald Trump wants to make America great again. We'd settle for a president's getting the government to operate at even mediocre minus.

We'll have a lot more letters on checking back in to the US — and not checking back in to the US — in the October issue.

We entered Mexico in November 2006 with our Islander 41 Lovely Reta and got a 10-Year Temporary Import Permit (TIP). Being cruisers, we assumed that 10 years would be 10 full years. But now when we look at the TIP, it says it needed to be renewed in April 2016. We're late.

What can we do? We don't plan to go to the boat in Mexico this year because our house burned down and we have to rebuild it.

John and Debby Dye
Lovely Reta, Islander 41
Channel Islands

John and Debbie — We suggest that you consult with Yolanda Espinoza at in La Paz. We base this recommendation on the fact that she was able to get a TIP canceled for a Seattle couple after they had left Mexico, something that is not always easy to do. Some people know the ins and outs of Mexican paperwork better than others, and Yolanda seems to be one of them.

We're going to take this opportunity to remind boatowners that if you leave Mexico with your boat and aren't going to go back, you need to cancel your TIP. For if you don't, and you sell your boat, the new owner won't be able to take the boat to Mexico and get a TIP. Similarly, if you're going to be buying a boat and taking her to Mexico, make absolutely certain that she doesn't have a current TIP. TIPs go with the owner of the boat, not the boat, and cannot be transferred. If a boat has a current TIP, the (new) owner cannot get a new one.

I don't know if you intend to write anything about Pacific Cup boats' return trips, but we had one experience beyond the normal rainbows, porpoise visits, and Farallones whale- watching that might interest Latitude 38 readers.

On August 14, just southwest of Noonday Rock (north of the North Farallones), we found ourselves in the middle of the biggest group of humpbacks I've ever seen (at least 15). We were heading for the Gate, on port tack, doing about 8 knots on a beam reach. Suddenly, an adult humpback lazily surfaced for a blow not more than 20 feet to port on a starboard-tack collision course. I put the helm hard over to turn down and away, almost crash jibing in the process. The whale decided to dive at that point — the only reason we didn't collide. Harold Marsh was on deck with me and was equally terrified.

Based on our experience, it seems the Farallon humpbacks have gotten too accustomed to boats and whale watchers. It's hazardous out there, for us and for them.

Buzz Blackett
California Condor, Antrim Class 40
Point Richmond



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