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October 2016

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I need a ruling from Latitude 38. We were out on the Bay for the last day of the Rolex Big Boat Series on what was a glorious warm fall afternoon, with a nice 12- to 15-knot breeze. We were on a deep reach across from the Cityfront headed for the lunch spot behind Angel Island. We were keeping well clear of the various courses for the different Big Boat Series divisions.

It was great to see the big MOD70 Orion blasting around at high speed. Then the Extreme 40 cat SmartRecruiters also put on a great speed show. On my Beneteau 393, we were chugging along at all of maybe 4-5 knots, when SmartRecruiters changed course and headed directly at us. "Oh great," said the crew, "we'll get some great photos."

So there we were, no other boat anywhere in the area, with this cat screaming down on us at maybe four times our speed. Then the SOB at the helm headed up, then down, and finally blasted by us flying a hull, yelling obscenities, and missing us by just inches!

Okay, okay we were on port and they were on starboard, but there was all the room in the world out there at the time. I didn't even know if they were racing. I held my course as I thought it was the safest and most prudent option given the situation. The cat was many times faster than us, and many times more maneuverable.

I have sailed the Bay for many years, raced extensively for a number of years in PHRF with a previous boat, have done three Ha-Ha's, and hold a captain's license from the Coast Guard. So I'm not a novice.

Anyway, I just thought that Latitude would like to know that SmartRecruiters did a very dangerous thing, and I consider them to be complete assholes. I know the Frenchies are hotshot multihull sailors, but they don't own the friggin Bay! The skipper's behavior was inexcusable.

I'm sorry for the rant, but with the evolution of very fast multihulls, I think they need to go the extra mile so as not to endanger those of us in slowpoke lead mines.

Dave Fiorito and crew
Irie, Beneteau 393

Dave — We weren't there, so we're hardly in a position to give a "ruling." However, we have a cat that can sail in the 20s when the conditions are right, and we've often sailed through crowded Ha-Ha fleets of much slower boats, so we're familiar with the situation. If we are sailing three or four times faster than another boat, we will always go the extra short distance it takes to stay well clear, even if the other boat is on port and we're on starboard. Of course we're not racing in such situations, so our adrenaline levels aren't spiking.

Once again, we weren't there so we can't make a conclusive judgment. But as Rodney King, one of the most celebrated human screw-ups ever, once asked, "Can't we all get along?" We sure hope so, at least on the water.


Awhile back I gave a woman a ride from Trinidad to St. Vincent on my boat. When we got there, she went to Immigration and said she was paid crew. She claimed that I fired her, and I was thus required to pay for her flight home. The folks at Immigration were very sympathetic to me, but they told me that I had very little chance of winning the case, and I would certainly lose a lot of time and money fighting it. So I just paid for her flight.

It's my own fault, as I didn't ask her to sign anything when she came onboard. I was naive.

I was subsequently told that this person had done this another time. This according to the skipper of the Canadian-owned Jolly Friends in Grenada. I was told that she had a written agreement with the owner, and that he offered her a flight in three days time. She, however, said the boat wasn't safe and that she needed $1,000 so she could book a flight out the next day herself. She again involved Customs and Immigration. Not wanting to have his boat chained to the dock, the skipper paid the $1,000.

Boatowners should be aware of what I think are scams such as hers. I think boatowners looking for crew on the Ha-Ha should be particularly aware, as her name might be on the list of those wanting to crew in this year's Ha-Ha.

I would like to know how to craft a waiver for crew that I don't know so I won't get caught in the same situation again.

Ian Parker
Tiamo, Athena 38

Readers — Oh boy, the last thing we want to do is get into the middle of the disputes between skippers and crew. We do, however, want to warn boatowners that taking anybody on as paid crew exposes the boatowner to much greater obligations and potential financial liability. We recommend that you consult with your insurance broker and your lawyer before hiring paid crew so you know where you stand. Having crew sign waivers that they aren't paid crew couldn't hurt.


Dear AIS god. Thanks for your nifty gadget. I love the receiver that lets me identify all vessels over 65 feet, and tells me how close they are going to approach me. What a blessing, especially in the fog and/or at night.

There was a time when only large commercial vessels broadcast their whereabouts, and when you saw a ’triangle’ on your chart plotter, you paid attention. For example, Vallejo ferry, heading 142 degress at 32 knots. That was really helpful.

But now, AIS god, my screen is filled with triangles. Filled with the triangles representing small recreational boats, many of which are moving at no more than five knots. Everyone seems to feel the need to broadcast their stuff. But now I can’t tell a tug and tow from a Beneteau. And with all due respect, I generally don’t want to know about all the paths and speeds of daysailers. I do, however, want to know when a high-speed ferry is headed my way, though.

So, dear AIS god, can you ask your pleasure-boating fans to broadcast their stuff only when they think it is necessary, thus helping me spot that dark-colored tanker masked by the landmass, but heading to sea and likely coming my way?

Jeff Cook
Annie, custom cutter

Jeff — We join you in your plea to the AIS god and owners of recreational boats. If conditions don't require you to broadcast your AIS information, please don't.


I read Peter McCormick's September letter bemoaning the trouble he, as a liveaboard, is having getting accounts with financial institutions because they want a street address for him. They said it was a requirement of the Patriot Act.
I've been a legal liveaboard in the San Francisco Bay Area for many years and have had the same problem. In addition to banks' refusing to accept P.O. box addresses, many mail-order companies won't ship to them either.

I used to have to give my harbormaster's private home address, but it made me very upset to have to do that. I don't do it any longer as it was such an imposition.

But there's a very simple solution. The United States Post Office now offers their street address connected to your post office box number. You give the post office street address followed by your box number — just as if it were an apartment. Say, 200 California Street, Box 324, Happyville, California. By the way, my California driver's license has my P.O. box address on it, too.

Never forget that in America, "the land of the free" . . . you are free to do as you are told.

I absolutely love Latitude, but that goes without saying.

Gil de la Roza
Planet Earth

Gil — Thanks for the kind words. What you report is news to us, so thank you very much. The big question is whether it will also be news to the financial institutions and others, and if they'll balk at accepting it.


Contrary to Alan Olson's letter in the August issue of Latitude, there was a protest hearing regarding the collision between my Lapworth 36 Papoose and the schooner Seaward.

The decision was that Seaward broke rules 11, 12, and 14, and Papoose broke no rule at all. Seaward's withdrawing from the race was the appropriate penalty, so no further penalty was assessed.

A protest hearing is the only way of assigning fault, other than a court. Although Seaward's insurance company never questioned who was at fault, it would have been unwise to withdraw my protest before a settlement was finalized.

I want to point out the remarkable sportsmanship and seamanship of David James of the Lapworth 36 Leda. When we announced over the VHF that we had been dismasted and were protesting Seaward, we were unable — because our antenna had been damaged by the collision — to hear their inquiry as to whether we were all right. Unable to get a response, and thus unsure if we were all right, Leda withdrew from the race, which they could have won, to came back to stand by us and offer assistance. Seaward did not stop or offer assistance after the collision, so Leda's assistance could have been lifesaving.

During the protest hearing with Seaward, I tried to get Leda reinstated in first place, but it was not possible under the racing rules.

Seaward's insurance company has paid my claim, and I am in the process of fixing my boat. I have ordered a new mast and expect it around the end of the year. Svendsen's is making a new pushpit and backstay chainplate. The bent stanchion is straightened and the damage to the deck and transom fixed. The big unknowns are the other chainplates, so the plan is to remove the most suspect one and inspect it. Getting the chainplate out will do far more damage to Papoose's hull than the collision, but it has to be done.

I hope Papoose will be better than ever and I will keep readers updated once Papoose is back sailing again.

Allen Edwards
Papoose, Lapworth 36

Readers — This letter arrived in plenty of time to be published in last month's issue, but was misplaced. Our apologies.

Regarding the statement that Seaward withdrew from the scene, we reached out to Alan Olson for comment: "The reason we could not stop and assist Papoose is because we were in a dangerous situation ourselves with a broken bowsprit and rigging, and sails crashing about needing to be secured for the safety of the vessel and crew. During that time it was reported over the radio that a vessel was standing by Papoose with no one hurt, she was not taking on water, and was waiting for Vessel Assist. I contacted the Race Committee to report our situation: that we were withdrawing from the race and returning to the dock to inspect our rig for further damage.


Our yacht Avatar, one of the yachts that was temporarily impounded in Mexico a couple of years ago, is currently in Newport, Rhode Island, where she is being sold. She still has a valid 10-year Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for Mexico. It's our understanding that we should cancel it for the benefit of the new owner, but I can't find out any information on how to do that from a distance. We're nowhere near Mexico, and I can't just hand it in to the local aduana.

Whom can we contact?

Carol Parker
Avatar, Dashew 80

Carol — Although we don't know exactly how the TIP canceling process works, we think it might be a little more complicated than handing your TIP to aduana at your last port. We know there is a way you can do it by sending your TIP and zarpe to an address in Mexico City, but we don't have that much confidence in the Mexican postal service. And if they lose your stuff, you're up a creek.

While there are probably a number of agents who could cancel the TIP for you, the one we know best is Yolanda Espinoza, who worked for the Shroyers at Marina de La Paz for 22 years and who has been a yacht agent since 2008. Contact her at or 011 612-348-8787.


I'm skipper of the Dufour 44 All Day that is signed up for this year's Baja Ha-Ha. I just recently realized that my boat has a TIP that was never canceled by the previous owner. I do have his original TIP, but don't have any exit papers (zarpe) for leaving Mexico.

I contacted Yolanda Espinoza, as recommended in Latitude last month, via email. She asked me to prove my boat is in the States, and said the US Coast Guard registration was not enough.

Who knew it would be so hard to prove that my boat, which I am currently on, is in the United States? I will be following up with Yolanda, but feel like I'm hitting a wall.

Could you recommend anything else I can do or anyone I can contact? Like an agent or lawyer? We're getting very nervous that we won't be able to get into Mexico.

Vlad Vassiliouk
All Day, Dufour 44

Vlad — We've repeatedly warned readers not to buy a boat that has a valid TIP for the express reason of keeping them from finding themselves in the very situation that you're now in. All we can suggest is that you contact other ship's agents — perhaps Victor Barreda Jr. in Cabo San Lucas, an old friend who does paperwork for many of the Ha-Ha boats — and see if he can help you. He's fluent in English and has been a ship's agent for many years. You can email him at

TIPs and zarpes are the way Mexico keeps track of boats in their country, and they can be very strict about boatowners' following the rules. Then again, at the times you least expect it they can be very flexible. So just because one aduana office turns you down doesn't mean another one will. That's Mexico. Other than recommending other ship's agents, we don't know what to tell you.

As for everyone else, let this be a lesson. When making an offer on a boat in the States, make it a condition of purchase that the current owner cancel the boat's TIP. It's so important that we're going to repeat ourselves: When making an offer on a boat in the States, make it a condition of purchase that the current owner cancel the boat's TIP.

If the owner says the boat never had a TIP, make such a declaration be part of the purchase agreement so you have recourse if it turns out he's lying. And while it's possible to cancel a TIP if you have even fragments of the old TIP from the 'windshield' and the exit zarpe, we'd require the current owner of the boat to take care of the cancellation the TIP before you buy it. If you don't, it's like buying a car or boat without a clear title. And even if you the buyer don't plan on taking the boat to Mexico, if you eventually want to sell the boat to someone who does want to take her to Mexico, and he knows what's going on, you'll have a real problem.


I am a Master Electrician from Canada with an answer for the Wanderer as to whether he should dispose of the two 50-ft shorepower cords that were connected and fell into the water at the point of connection while hot. Assuming the cord ends were put back on correctly, if the cords do not have any cracks or cuts in the outer insulation, or have been stretched or squashed, I would still use them.

I also assume that when the ends of the cords were removed and that the outer jacket was cut back a good foot or so, which would be a guesstimate of the length of internal wires that I would expect to have damaged insulation. As long as the conductors inside are not hard and damaged in any way, it should be good.

John Watts

John — We received several otiher responses that said pretty much what you did, and we have since used the once-damaged cords. However, based on the information in the following letters, we have decided that over the longer term, using the cords would be an ever-increasing fire risk, and thus we will destroy them.


I suggest that the Wanderer give the suspect shorepower cords to one of the homeless recyclers who pick through the dumpsters on Shelter Island. They can get some money for the copper.

The limit for 30 amps at 120 volts AC using 10-gauge wire, which is what those yellow cords have, is 100 feet. So with everything in good condition, you were already at the limit. Any resistance from burned or corroded wires would be a problem. The connectors used to splice the wire are also a problem. So I don't think the cord(s) are safe to use.

P.S. See you on the Ha-Ha.

Alan 'Doctor Electron' Katz
Kemo Sabe, Slocum 42
San Diego


The reason for the precautionary disposal of a cord that has hit water while powered is due to the propensity of the fine copper wire in the length of the cord to be 'work-hardened' by localized overheating in a kinked or otherwise stressed area of cord, not just adjacent to the connectors or at the joint of wire to plug. This hidden stress damage cannot be seen or readily tested for. There is also the threat of heat-induced oxidation of the fine-strand wire, causing the wires to isolate from each other. This could cause abnormal heat buildup during use, effectively changing the amp capacity of the cord without your knowing it. There is more, but this is enough to create an unacceptable 'Boat-Toast Risk Profile'. So please don't use it!

Robert Wurgaft
Spanish Charmer, Cherubini Hunter 30
Coyote Point Marina, San Mateo


If in doubt, throw the suspect electrical cord out! And preferably in a million pieces at the bottom of a full bag of stinky garbage so nobody else will try to use it. I say this as a retired firefighter — an expert on electrical fires.

Reverend Captain Malama
S/V Mother Ocean Ministries
Koloa, Kauai

Readers — The following letter explains in considerable detail why we are getting rid of the cords.


The photos suggest that the shorepower cords that were dropped into the water while hot were sold by Marinco. The Marinco shorepower cords I have owned did not utilize tin-plated copper stranded conductors — which is a paradox since Marinco also sells high-quality Ancor brand electrical cable for AC and DC service. The conductors in Ancor cable are tin-plated copper. The tin plating of copper strands is necessary to prevent corrosion of the copper base metal in the strands. The Navy and aerospace industry both specify use of tin-plated copper conductors.

The plugs and receptacle ends in the Marinco shorepower chords are not potted or hermetically sealed. So when the ends were submerged in saltwater, the water wicked up the air spaces between conductor strands. The saltwater will quickly corrode the copper base metal, and the corrosion reaction will create an oxidation product on the copper strand.

This oxidation product has much less conductivity compared to uncorroded electrical-grade copper. The oxidation product will form in the plug and receptacle joints, decreasing the conductivity of the joint and increasing connection resistive losses, and in turn, connection temperature. This cycle feeds back because the increased temperature accelerates the corrosion reaction rate, doubling the rate every delta 10 C.

The corrosion reaction converts electrolytic tough pitch copper — material used to make the conductor strands — to the oxidation product. So as the oxidation product film increases in thickness, the current-carrying cross section decreases. Allowed sufficient time, the reaction will convert all the ETP copper to corrosion product. Fire develops thereafter.

While the plug and receptacle connector corrosion level may be functional for a short term after a saltwater soaking, inevitably the joint conductivity will be high enough to melt the connector insulation/plastic and risk a short circuit and fire.
The resistivity of the conductors inside the shorepower cord also increases, so the losses in the shorepower cable increase gradually over time and the length of corroded conductors increases.

By the way, Marinco power cords with un-tinned copper conductors have a finite lifetime living on the dock, even without experiencing the effects of being submerged in saltwater. The salt products in the marine environment attack the un-tinned copper conductors and eventually cause the cable to fail. I wonder, how many electrical fires that started at the shorepower connection to the yacht were due to corrosion of non-tin-plated copper conductors in the cable system?

I don't work for the company, but if you want shorepower cables with long lifetimes, check out the cables and connectors from SmartPlug.

Marcus Crahan, Power Engineering Corp.
Dauntless, Hinckley Sou'wester, SoCal Ta-Ta 2014
Newport Beach

Readers — Being a Russian major back in our day at the Big U, we like Marcus' answer the best because he ended his letter with a quote from the great Russian author Leo 'War and Peace' Tolstoy:

"The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him."

Marcus has a sense of humor about the advice as it pertains to him: "I must confess that I am that @#$% fellow more times than I admit — just ask my wife and children."


Greetings from Sacramento, where we are doing some housesitting for the month of September. We left our Hunter 45, Jake, in Puerto Escondido on September 2, just in time to miss Hurricane Newton. As much as we enjoyed riding out Hurricane Odile on our boat two years ago, we didn't seem to be too disappointed at missing riding out Newton.

Prior to leaving, we stripped Jake down and got her into hurricane mode. Then we attached her securely to a mooring inside the main anchorage. Apparently those efforts worked, as Jake came through Newton in good shape.

According to friends on-site, the only boat that was significantly damaged was the Seattle-based Due West, which ended up in the north end of the anchorage grounded on small rocks and mangroves. Due West had been on a mooring, but the painter from the mooring to the boat parted. Due West was pulled off by the Mexican Navy boat stationed in Puerto Escondido, along with the assistance of most of the local cruisers and other Puerto Escondido locals. Fortunately, the boat only suffered minimal damage to the keel and rudder.

Friends on site tell us that throughout the storm Javier Fuerte, the new manager of the now-privately-owned Puerto Escondido Marina, was everywhere, working long hours and helping all the boatowners in the anchorage and the marina, as well as coordinating the rescue of Due West. Hats off to Javier!

The new marina management has also moved in the equipment to start construction on the marina addition that will be built in the elipse area adjacent to the current small marina. Most of the boats that had been moored in the Elipse have been removed, and management is about to begin sweeping the bottom to remove the old moorings that have been put in there over the years.

In my previous email I mentioned that the new marina management was waffling on instituting a dinghy-landing policy for those boats who were not direct customers of the new marina. I am happy to report that the new management has agreed to a dinghy landing policy much the same as in effect at Marina de La Paz, Marina San Carlos, Marina Riviera Nayarit and others. This is great news. It appears that the new Marina Puerto Escondido may finally be the organization to develop beautiful Puerto Escondido into the first-class cruiser destination that it should be.

We will be back on Jake on September 29, and expect to make our 21st crossing of the Sea of Cortez the first week in November. We'll be looking for Profligate in La Cruz.

Jake and Sharon Howard
Jake, Hunter 45

Jake and Sharon — That's indeed good news, for a friendly and hands-on harbormaster can make all the difference between a place's being loved and full of boats or being shunned and empty.


is absolutely right in its remarks about the irresponsibility of boatowners leaving boats unattended and in the water in hurricane zones. This is true even if someone is watching your boat, as they will likely have other boats to watch as well, and may be unable to get to some boats they are supposedly watching. On the other hand, an attended boat has a much better chance of survival.

I will always remember the statistics of Category 1 hurricane Marty, which hit Puerto Escondido in 2003: Fifty-one boats were unattended, and 17 of them — one in three — came to grief, either sinking, being beached, or just vanishing.
In addition, there were 21 boats with crew aboard during the storm, and none of them came to grief. In the 'after hurricane party' that inevitably occurs, we on the attended boats congratulated ourselves on how superior our preparations must have been. But when we started telling our stories, we realized that one in three would have been lost had there not been a crew aboard to make adjustments or otherwise take action. One in three was the same percentage of unattended boats that had trouble. So our prep hadn't been any better; our boats survived because we had been aboard to respond to events.

That said, I would never tell someone to stay onboard in a hurricane. It's up to the individual, the location, and the strength of the storm. To be honest, some of those who stayed aboard for Marty had planned to go ashore, but had been caught by the quickly rising wind.

For my part, I was confident that if necessary I could have swum ashore regardless of the wind direction. But in other situations I may not have stayed aboard. Staying onboard in a marina for a really strong storm might actually be the most dangerous thing to do, as big, heavy, hard things get slammed around, and it can become impossible to get off.

But the fact remains that, despite much conventional wisdom, staying onboard can make a big difference. If nothing else, when the eye of the storm goes overhead, as happened with Marty, those aboard have a brief period where lots of things can get sorted out. And they were.

It's easy to second-guess, and I certainly don't mean to offend those who may have lost boat-homes, possessions or at least a cruising season. But I have always felt that if you want to keep a boat in a hurricane zone during the hurricane season, you need to pay the price of staying with the boat and prepping any time a hurricane looms — no matter if the last five times it happened no storm actually arrived. Or you need to keep your boat ashore and secured so that no further prep is necessary, and the yard must be set up to handle it. At a minimum, I would put a plywood sheet under the jacks and chain the jacks together.

Latitude mentioned digging pits for monohull keels. That's a good idea and done in some places. In the Caribbean, most of the safer yards put boats in custom cradles and/or strap them to strong points of concrete set into the ground.

Looking at the photo of the Fonatur Marina in Guaymas, it's clear that the materials and design used for the dock were meant for smaller boats in protected waters. One runs into quite a few marinas with that type of construction, but it's wishful thinking to trust it. For example, it's worlds apart from the Bellingham-designed and -built concrete docks we had at Marina Cabo San Lucas when I worked there.

By the way, Latitude mentioned Odile as having been the worst storm to hit Cabo. But in 2001 Juliette sat on top of us for three days and did tremendous damage to the town and marina. The Grand Poobah will remember that we were barely able to prepare for that year's Bisbee Fishing Tournament and the arrival of the Ha-Ha fleet.

While Newton was hitting Mexico, what was to became hurricane Hermine was a system that threatened, as a strong tropical wave, all across the Atlantic and then into the Gulf of Mexico, before it finally got organized and dashed up the Eastern Seaboard. The Wanderer was probably keeping an eye on it, as 'ti Profligate was potentially in the path. When Hermine first started to catch the attention of forecasters, she was out in the Atlantic, and early forecasts indicated that she had a good chance of developing and going right over the British Virgins, where my Leopard 45 cat Jet Stream and I normally can be found.

I happened to be doing a one-week volunteer stint at a mission orphanage outside Tijuana at the time. I contacted Delta Airlines to see if they would let me change my reservation to go to a hurricane area before the hurricane arrived. They were kind enough to change my reservation. I left the mission a day early, canceled my trip up to San Francisco, and headed back to the BVI to have time to prep.

By the time I got back to my boat, it was clear that not much prep was going to be needed, as at that point Hermine remained nothing more than a strong tropical wave for several more days. But in my opinion, my dropping everything and hurrying back to my boat was simply the price I have to pay for keeping my boat in the water all year in a hurricane zone.

It seems that my other boat, the Hunter 33 Casual Water, survived Newton unscathed at Marina Seca in San Carlos. This was her sixth direct hit or close call. Three times she was on the hard — once in La Paz and twice in San Carlos — once in the marina at Cabo for Juliette, once on a mooring in Puerto Escondido for hurricane Lester, and once on her anchor in Puerto Escondido for hurricane Marty.

Tim Schaaf
Jet Stream, Leopard 45 Cat, Casual Water, Hunter 33
Roadtown, British Virgins / Marina Seca, San Carlos

Tim — While we agree with most of your points, we think you're dreaming to think that you could safetly swim from your boat to shore in hurricane conditions. You may remember that two of the three cruisers who were killed in La Paz Bay during Odile were relatively young professional divers who apparently tried to swim ashore from their boats.

We didn't even pay attention to Hermine, as Joe Naysmith has
'ti Profligate hauled, stripped, and lashed down at North Sound Marina in Antigua for the hurricane season. All that can be done for her has been done, and Joe is on the scene if something comes up.

In the first paragraph of your letter you mention that people who are supposedly on the scene and paid to watch boats might not actually do what they are paid to do, or might have too many boats to watch. As both you and the Wanderer know from many years in the Caribbean, there are still plenty of pirates willing to take money for jobs they promise to do, but don't do. The following letter suggests such practices are not limited to the Caribbean.


I saw the photo of my Ericson 35 Ronin in the September 9 issue of 'Lectronic, as she lay aground on the mogote at La Paz following hurricane Newton. Latitude classified her as "unattended." Unfortunately this was accurate — although not through lack of planning, attention or work on my part.

I engaged the services of a gentleman in La Paz to take care of Ronin at his mooring for a monthly fee. He promised to take her into a Costa Baja Marina before any hurricane struck. I'd had my boat at Costa Baja Marina previously, and they had all my paperwork and were expecting her. Alas.

I will be flying down tomorrow to see if I can save Ronin. The port captain has apparently declared that all boats with no American present will be impounded.

Sarkis Matossian
Ronin, Ericson 35

Readers — As Latitude has not been able to contact the individual who was supposedly watching over Ronin for a possible other side of the story, we have temporarily withheld his name. But if Sarkis' report is accurate, it would not be the first time such a thing happened.

Once we hired a Brit to stay aboard our Ocean 71
Big O for the six-month hurricane season at Falmouth Harbor, Antigua. About six weeks into the job he was desperate to get off the island, and called us on a satphone. He mentioned he was about 150 miles east of Antigua on another boat headed for the Med. We asked him if he'd forgotten about Big O. He told us he hadn't, and had taken the initiative to hire a young Brit friend of his as a replacement. A few weeks later, the numbskull friend of the original numbskull we hired took off, too. Fortunately Antigua was spared hurricanes that summer.

The good news is that there appears to be very little damage to Ronin. We'll have more on her story next month.

By the way, we've gotten a couple of reports from owners of boats that had been knocked off their stands on the hard in the San Carlos area. So far they seem to be undamaged, but only time will tell. If your boat was knocked over, we'd like to hear from you.


I read Latitude's article on boats damaged by Newton, and noticed that you talk about boats being left 'unattended'. We recently had a few tropical cyclones/depressions come uncomfortably close to our boat near and at Oahu during and after this year's Pacific Cup race, and the word was not to stay on the boats during the storms. So our boat was left anchored out in a safe spot in Kaneohe Bay for several days while one storm passed over the island. Then we moved to the Waikiki side of Oahu, where she was docked while several more storms skirted the Hawaiian chain.

Could you please define what you mean by 'unattended'?

Maryann Hinden
Surprise, Schumacher 46
Palo Alto

Maryann — That's a great question and perhaps we weren't as clear as we should have been. By 'attended' we don't necessarily mean somebody has to be aboard. God knows, in the wrong place in the wrong conditions that could be a death sentence. And while boats can be replaced, lives can't.

To our mind, 'attended' means that either the owner or some responsible representative is nearby to do whatever can be prudently done to try to make sure that as little damage as possible is done to the boat, as well as to other boats in the area. In the case of Ronin, mentioned in the letter above, it meant moving the boat into the marina from the anchorage — which wasn't done. Or it could mean moving a boat from one side of an anchorage to another, or one side of the island to another, as you did, and then getting off. If it's only a mild tropical storm, for healthy younger folks it might mean staying aboard, for reasons pointed out in a previous letter. There is no one-size-fits-all correct response to all storm situations.

By 'unattended', we mean leaving a boat for months at a time without anybody's keeping an eye on her or making final preparations for the arrival of a storm or the aftermath of a storm.


I read the September 19 'Lectronic item about the murder of expat Landon Hollander in La Cruz. Readers might want to know that September is a desperate month at Banderas Bay for many Mexicans. The deal is that from November thru May we have many winter residents visiting. In June and August the children are out of school and there are plenty of vacationers around from abroad. August is Mexico’s month of vacation. In October, boats and part-time residents begin to return.

But September, nothing. Nothing! They call it siete hambres instead of Septembre. The 'month of seven hungers'.

I believe that the local authorities will expend a lot of energy to catch the criminal(s) who killed Hollander. All of the La Cruz residents are horrified.

Steve Willie
Landfall, Vagabond 47
La Cruz

Readers — As we wrote in that 'Lectronic item, relations between expats — such as Hollander — as well as cruisers, and the locals, have always been excellent in La Cruz as well as all along the Vallarta Coast. In addition, while Hollander's car was stolen — and later found in Chacala, about 40 minutes up the coast — there is reason to believe that the motive may not have been theft. Several months before he was murdered, Hollander wrote about being devastated by the poisoning of one of his dogs. When another of his dogs was poisoned later on, he wrote a very angry post on Facebook. The poisonings suggest to us that perhaps there was some kind of serious bad blood between Hollander and someone else.


I'm writing in response to Steve Hersey's inquiry about doing the Clipper Route home from Mexico as opposed to the Bash.

I, of course, had heard countless references to Bashing up the coast of Baja, mostly under power. I didn't want to do that. I have an aversion to running the engine in a perfectly good sailboat. So I took the Clipper Route from Cabo San Lucas to San Francisco Bay. I left Cabo on July 15, 2014, and arrived in Alameda on August 16, 2014.

My boat, Laelia, is a Pearson 365 ketch with a shoal draft keel. In offshore conditions, the best I could do was to tack through 120 degrees. It took me a couple of days to figure out that the mizzen was doing me no good while hard on the wind. In fact, it was occasionally backwinding the Monitor windvane and causing the boat to tack at random intervals.

I was singlehanding, so I wanted to stay well offshore to avoid shipping and fishing boats. My strategy was to depart Cabo on starboard tack and stay on starboard tack until reaching the longitude of the Golden Gate. From there, I would take the most favored tack to reach the Bay while remaining west of that longitude and at least 40 miles offshore.

I had a friend ashore giving me weather updates via my DeLorme inReach satellite messenger. He was paying special attention to the position of the North Pacific High.

Well, the high never really did develop during my passage. For all intents and purposes, the wind blew straight out of the Golden Gate toward my boat for most of the passage. At one point — about the time I reached the latitude of the California-Mexico border — I was 400 miles offshore.

After the first day I sailed under working jib and an appropriate number of reefs in the main. I hove to twice because the bashing into short, steep waves was hard on the boat and on my nerves. I had two days of conditions light enough that I spent a lot of time hand-steering.

Starting early morning on the last day at sea, the wind shifted to the south, seemingly in a welcome effort to suck me in through the Golden Gate. The day finished off with a fast passage through the Gate, down the San Francisco waterfront, and under the Bay Bridge.

I would take the Clipper Route again rather than Bash my way up the coast. The thought of dodging fishing boats and big ships, as well as finding my way into unfamiliar harbors, arranging for slips, etc, is not one I relish.

My AIS alerted me to traffic several times as I neared shipping lanes, and I saw one other sailboat passing well to the south of me. Other than that, I saw no other boats until I neared the Golden Gate.

All in all, I would rate it as an easy passage.

As I have mentioned in other letters to Latitude, checking back in to the United States was confusing. After several VHF contacts and phone calls, I was told to tie up at Jack London Square for inspection. After several hours of waiting, I got a phone call checking me in. Nobody ever showed up.

Ralph Lewis
Steppenwolf, Tayana 37
Alameda, CA

Readers — The concept of the Clipper Route is that you depart Cabo on a starboard tack, and keep going on that tack until you gradually get lifted so high that you can flop over and lay San Francisco or your other West Coast destination. It could take three weeks or more before you tack.

We like Ralph's honest assessment of only being able to tack in about 120 degrees. So when people think about taking the Clipper Route, they should go to to get an idea of what the wind direction will be like. They'll soon realize that they'll likely not even be able to sail west from Cabo, but more likely southwest — and thus away from their ultiimate destination. A sailor has to have complete faith that he will get lifted, because if he gives up early, he will likely have sailed a week or two and made very little if any progress.

Most people we know who have done the Clipper Route have taken about a month.

One thing not yet mentioned is the possibility of getting mixed up with a tropical storm or a hurricane. Readers can go to and see how tropical storms Darby, Estelle and Frank all would have been a concern had Ralph done the Clipper Route this year. They may not have crossed his path, but they would have been a concern.


My girlfriend and I purchased a Santana 37 fixer-upper two years ago and are completely reconditioning her. New interior, tanks, windlass, rebuilt engine, solar — all for cruising. We are currently living aboard and look forward to doing the Ha-Ha in a couple of years.

We are also contemplating buying a small cabin cruiser in Europe to cruise the extensive canal and river systems there, and thus are interested in anyone's experiences in doing this.

We also contemplated going together with a small group of others to accomplish the same thing, with the idea that each partner would get one entire summer month to enjoy the boat. Again, any information on costs/pitfalls from people that have actually done this would be greatly appreciated.

Alan Green
Hetaira, Santana 37
No Fixed Address

Alan — As we've written several times before, we think a canal boat in Europe is perfect for cruisers looking for something to do during the six non-hurricane months of the year. You could get a functioning canal boat equivalent to your Santana 37 in the Netherlands — which is where you want to buy — for no more than 25k. The two of you could cruise for less than $1,000/month, and pay no more than $150/month for offseason storage, insurance, etc. See this month's Changes about an Aussie couple doing it with a sailing cat they bought in Strasbourg, France. By their reckoning, it's less expensive for them to cruise Europe than to live in their home in Adelaide.

Partnerships in canal boats are not uncommon. You would face all the normal issues of partner compatibility, boat maintenance differences, what to do when one person wants to sell, and so forth, complicated by the fact that boat is on the other side of the world. Like all boat partnerships, sometimes they work great, sometimes they don't work very well at all.

A year or so ago we thought about getting partners for our Leopard 45 cat
'ti Profligate in the Caribbean and our 42-ft canal boat Aqua Rosa in France, but we never followed up on the idea. Then, three months ago and out of the blue, we had individuals contact us with a very strong interest in being partners in both boats. But after thinking about it a bit, we decided against both potential partnerships. Despite the fact that we knew and had sailed with both individuals, the complications/risks just didn't seem worth the possible rewards. Maybe we'll change our minds at some point in the future, but at this point we're much too attached to the boats to have partners and don't want to have any complications.

We are, however, partners of sorts in the Olson 30
La Gamelle in the Caribbean. But that's a very simple and inexpensive boat in an unusual situation.

The other day our first ex-wife said, "I love coming home to the same place at night, but you, you don't really have a home do you? You just live on different boats in different parts of the world."

She was right, and we love it. The way we see it, once the kids are raised — and maybe before — houses are no longer as good for living in as they are for rental income to finance boating adventures around the world. We've been in a lot of spectacular houses in our time, but we've yet to see one that got us to thinking we've prefer to give up the wandering lifestyle. People are different, of course, but we think you are on the right track, Alan.

By the way, if anybody thinks we're off-base in our remarks about canal boating, Larry Coor wrote to tell us that our reply to Fred and Judy Holleren's questions about canal boating was "a nice response." We were flattered, because Larry has spent the last 16 summers on the waterways of Europe.


As for the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca's recent fiasco in attempting to check back into the United States at the San Diego Police Dock, I am not at all surprised. The same thing happened to me, most notably when returning to Key West from Colombia via Isla Mujeres, Mexico. We also picked up the dock phone in Key West and called Customs to check in. The person on the other end said that since it was the Christmas/New Year's holiday, could we wait a week or two?

Say what!?

I even mentioned that we were arriving from Colombia and Mexico, two countries noted as being the source of smuggled drugs and humans. Still no interest.

As we had two crew that were flying home to elsewhere in the States in a few days, I finally insisted that Customs come and check us in. They reluctantly agreed to meet us the next day at Customs. An 'official' showed up in shorts and sandals, having come from a BBQ outing. He begrudgingly stamped our passports and so forth.

Perhaps the litmus test Homeland Security uses for drug runners is that they don't usually bother to call to check in.

Frank Magnotta
Planet Earth

Frank — On one level that's hilarious. But just one level.


I'm a little late in writing this letter because we just got home from a month in Desolation Sound — the warmest sea water north of the Sea of Cortez. Anyway, we cleared into San Diego in 2001 at the end of our seven-year circumnavigation. We called Customs on the designated phone at the Police Dock and waited hour for agents to appear. When they did show up, they hadn't brought along any paperwork for us to complete, so they couldn't/wouldn't clear us in.

They wanted our Canadian passports, but I refused to surrender them as they are Canadian government property and are not to be surrendered to anyone. But I did give them our ship's papers.

These US agents refused to return to the Police Dock, so I had to go to their office in Skid Row the next day to complete the clearance. Nobody else was allowed to leave the boat until that was done.

When I arrived at the office the next morning and tried to complete the clearing and get a cruising permit for our trip north to Victoria, the agent we spoke to claimed they didn't have my ship's papers, that they knew nothing about any cruising permit, and wanted exact change for my clearing fee.

I was steamed. So in a loud voice, I proclaimed that after visiting 43 countries around the world, I had never been treated so poorly. I told them to give me my damn papers back and I would leave the f--king country within the hour.

At that point an older officer came out of his office, found our ship's papers, filled out the cruising permit, found change for my fees, and told me to enjoy my stay in the United States.

I haven't returned to United States waters since, and I probably never will.

Rob Dodge
Nanamuk, Endurance 35
Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada

Readers — Rob reminds the Wanderer that we first met in the Sea of Cortez in 1982 when the Wanderer had the Freya 39 Contrary to Ordinary and Rob had only recently completed Nanamuk. It's great to know we're both still sailing.


We made it up from Ensenada to San Pedro early on a Saturday morning with our new Outremer 45 Iolani, which had been unloaded from a Sevenstar Yacht Transport ship in Ensenada a few days before. The unloading is an interesting tale for another day, but I want to share my experience with Mexican customs and immigration in Ensenada, and US Customs in San Diego.

We started the check-out process three days before, using a Hotel Coral Marina expediter for $30. We'd given him all of the necessary documentation the afternoon before, so we left the marina office and drove into town right at 11:00 a.m. As many people know, Mexican customs and immigration are in the same building, with their respective staff so close to one another that they could talk loudly and have an interagency conference. Unfortunately, they don’t.

Although there was only one person ahead of us, it took about an hour for each agency's staff to do whatever they needed to do before we were able to leave. Why we even needed to be there, considering that we had a paid expediter to 'expedite', is a mystery.

I thought we were done when we left at 1 p.m., but we left empty-handed. Apparently the port captain, with offices in the building 50 feet away, felt he needed to review each and every entrance and exit request before any documentation could be released. The documents were finally ready and delivered back to the Hotel Coral Marina office at around 6 p.m.

Hotel Coral Marina staff explained that the port captain was new and thought that he needed to review everything personally. I explained that the port captain was likely costing the Port of Ensenada quite a lot of money, because the consensus of the cruisers I spoke with at the marina was that avoiding Ensenada when you are going north or south saves a considerable amount time and significant frustration.

When they shrugged their shoulders, I suggested that it was likely that many readers of a California print and online magazine had heard of the customs and immigration problems in Ensenada, they seemed to become concerned. I suggested that they find someone with sufficient authority to give the port captain his own pause for concern, and have him or her speak to the port captain about correcting this peculiar — understatement intended — process.

With regard to San Diego Customs, I had been warned that it could take hours for them to respond to our call to come to the Customs Dock, which is clearly the Police Dock, because they had eight 30-ft police patrol boats taking up most of the dock space.

We arrived a little before noon on a Friday, and had to stand off the dock for 20 minutes with a 65-ft powerboat, while a 60-something-ft Deerfoot skipper thoughtlessly took up all the limited dock space while a BMW motorcycle of all things, was lowered to the dock from its position on the foredeck.

I called US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and got the watch commander directly. He advised that the boat in front of us had called minutes earlier, and that officers were en route and should arrive within 30 minutes. In fact, they arrived within 15 minutes, took care of the boat in front in 10 or 15 minutes, moved on to us, and took about 10 minutes to clear us. They were courteous, efficient — and more importantly, allowed my son and me to get to the San Diego YC for one of their famous cheeseburgers before the hunger got the better of us.

Doug Deaver
Iolani, Outremer 45
Santa Barbara

Doug — We don't like to repeat ourselves, but Mexican officials are given wide authority to decide how to interpret the law and how certain processes are to be handled. They can be efficient and they can be ... well, incredibly frustrating. We don't know why, but despite their 'one window' that was supposed to speed everything up, Ensenada has historically been among the slowest and most frustrating places to clear out of Mexico. Come to think about it though, at times La Paz has been even worse. Puerto Vallarta and Cabo have historically been much easier and quicker.

Trust us, the folks at Marina Coral would love the process to be easier. So would the mayor of Ensenada, who told us that to our face. It's just that government in Mexico, as well as in the United States, doesn't always see things from the consumer's point of view or have any interest in efficiency. And remember, Ensenada is a busy port, so the port captain has bigger fish to fry.

We recently paid Marina Coral $30 for 'expediting' our clearance for
Profligate. We thought it was money well spent, as we didn't have to pay for two taxi rides — which would have cost almost that much — or feel our way around the process.

As for checking in at San Diego, experiences vary greatly. Sometimes officers come right away, sometimes it takes hours, and sometimes they don't even answer the phone.

By the way, the proper name for the agency of the officers coming to the Police Dock is not Customs and Immigration or Homeland Security, it's 'Customs and Border Protection', CBP, a division of Homeland Security. 'Border Protection'? That part of the agency name may have been somebody's idea of an insider joke.


We did the Ha-Ha with Spirit of Adventure in 2014. While I filed my departure papers from Cabo, I let them know that my next port would be Long Beach. I did make a couple of stops for fuel on the way home, but I did not check in or out at any of those stops.

No officials in the US ever came to our boat or checked my entry into the country. In fact, I had never officially departed from the US.

I was new to all of this, but I felt that if I was very diligent with my Mexico paperwork, I could get by on this side of the border. That's my story, and I believe I would do it again.

Don Stoutenger

Don — A couple of points. First, nobody checks out of the United States with a zarpe. Indeed, just try to get the Coast Guard or any other government agency to understand what one is. Every now and then a Mexican official will ask for one, which causes some problems.

If you clear out of Mexico for the United States from Cabo San Lucas, you're not supposed to make any stops for fuel. But almost everybody does, and nobody cares.

When US boats come back to the States, they supposedly have to stop at the Police Dock and get checked in. A surprising number of boatowners tell us they don't even bother, which is not something we recommend. Others clear in at Long Beach, which is said to be easier.


I've Bashed north to San Diego twice. Once in 2009, when I cleared out of Mexico at Ensenada and into San Diego at the Police Dock, just as I was supposed to. My boat was boarded and the officers sat me down and questioned me for awhile. I think they were trying to make me sweat. I didn't start crying or anything, so they just took my money and let me go.

My second time was in 2011. I was in a rush to see my gal, so I blew off checking into the US at the Police Dock and proceeded to a well-known yacht club. For a couple of days I waited for a knock on the hull, but it never came.
I sailed back to Mexico and checked in again in 2012 with no problems at all.

La Cruz, Mexico


Next time Profligate comes north, the Wanderer should skip San Diego and just stop at the Parker's Lighthouse Docks in Long Beach. You'll get a clean deal with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) there. It doesn't sound as if the San Diego aggravation is worth it just to go to Driscoll's, when Marina Shipyard in Long Beach does great work, too.

David Bloom
Thee Amazing Grace, Vector 39, Ha-Ha 2010
Long Beach

David — It's been a few years, but we've had fine work done on our various boats by Marina Shipyard. The most fun time was about 35 years ago when we were going to get the headstay on our Freya 39 Contrary to Ordinary replaced. It was a Friday afternoon and they were days late getting the job done, so they offered to lift us — ! — to the masthead with their crane so we could attach the headstay ourselves. We took them up on it and had a great time aloft. We can't imagine they'd do that these days.

We've also been very happy with the work at Driscoll's, and in addition, it's warmer in San Diego and we get a million-dollar view of the lights of downtown San Diego from our place at the work dock. It sounds crazy, but we love living on the boatyard work dock.


I suspect the problem with checking into the States at San Diego lies in a lack of funding thanks to the dysfunction of Congress. That being said, I am a follow-the-rules sort, and had I been the Wanderer and de Mallorca, would have waited a day, growing ever more frustrated with the situation. It probably wouldn't have lasted very long because my co-crew would have been lobbying for beer and creature comforts.

Maryann Hinden
Surprise, Schumacher 46
Palo Alto

Maryann — If lack of money was the real issue — and trust us, it never, ever is — they could just send one Customs and Border Protection agent to check boats in at the Police Dock instead of two.

After our somewhat mocking
'Lectronic piece about the CBP, they gave the Wanderer and de Mallorca a three-hour tour of about five miles of the US - Mexico border at Tijuana. During that tour we learned that officers, male or female, often patrol long stretches of the border by themselves, even in the middle of the night when they are likely to confront desperate groups of males sneaking across the border. If they send individual officers into those very risky situations, why the heck do they need two gun-toting officers to check yachties at the Police Dock?

By the way, the CBP gave us some data sheets on how many people they've apprehended each year trying to cross the border in just the Tijuana area. In the mid-1990s, before the first of the two fences was built, they were apprehending about 500,000 Mexicans trying to sneak into the States. After the second fence was built, that number has declined steadily to about 25,000 a year. The agent who gave us the tour told us that in her opinion a Trump Wall would not stop people sneaking across the border, but would reduce the numbers.

Despite the fact that it's profiling, the CBP also keeps track of OTMs, which stands for 'Other Than Mexicans'. While the absolute number of OTMs is relatively small, in the last few years they have increased from about 1,500 to 5,000. We were told that these were mostly Pakistanis, Romanians and Chinese. When these folks get caught, they claim asylum for one reason or another and are given money and told to show up for a court date. Naturally they never show up for the court date and stay in the US permanently. Is the United States a great country or what?


I'm thinking about doing the Ha-Ha, although I may have to wait until next year to do it. I don't have much sailing experience with a gennaker or spinnaker, and I'm wondering if any Ha-Ha boats do the event with only white sails. Is a gennaker or spinnaker really necessary? How much extra gear is required?

Peter Podesta
Central Valley Girl, Catalina 42

Peter — About 25 to 30% of the entries in a typical Ha-Ha year sail with white sails only, so it's certainly possible. The downside is that Ha-Ha winds have historically been light to moderate and from aft, which are the very conditions in which gennakers and spinnakers have tremendous advantages over white sails.

If your sailing skills are fairly modest, and particularly if your boat isn't already equipped with spinnaker gear — spinnaker pole, topping lift, foreguy, etc — we'd suggest going with a gennaker, which isn't that different from a genoa. Once you get the hang of it, we think you'd really enjoy sailing with a gennaker. You should also talk to your sailmaker about what kind of gennaker you should get, as different ones are built for different conditions. And remember, just as it's time to reef your main as soon as it crosses your mind, it's time to douse the chute or gennaker as soon as that crosses your mind.

Your question reminds us of a conversation we had with Aussie Lionel Bass of the M&M 52 Kiapa before he headed across the Pacific. After buying the lightning-fast cat from Pete and Susan Wolcott, Lionel sold all the boat's spinnakers. But after
Profligate came from way behind to walk away from Kiapa during a spinnaker reach in a Todos Santos Race, Bass told us he'd been kicking himself ever since he'd sold the chutes.

Off the wind with white sails is very slow.



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