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December 2016

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I have had no contact with the Baja Ha-Ha group since the brief VHF communication and my contact with Pollo of Ullman Sails at Turtle Bay.

As the Grand Poobah knows, we went hard aground at Punta Quebrada, about five miles north of Turtle Bay, on the night of November 2. The wind was 12-16 knots and the seas 2-4 feet, so weather wasn't a factor. I had been waiting for the wind to lighten in order to get the main down. It had become stuck in the boom furler about two thirds of the way down.

Jim, my crew, was below and not feeling well. Andrew, my 22-year-old son, was at the helm. We had been having trouble getting the autopilot to keep a course. It would begin to swing greatly. But we thought we had it settled down, so we began to work on the main. A short time later we hit hard.

The boat immediately heeled hard to port, and waves rapidly flooded the cockpit and cabin. It was very dark, and we were unsure of the shoreline at this point. We placed emergency calls and deployed flares. Andrew went below to assist Jim in putting on a PFD and getting him on deck.

Despite the dark, we were able to get to shore without much trouble. By this time our radio had died, and we were unable to communicate with the boats that had come to stand by offshore. A volunteer Search and Rescue group from Turtle Bay came to our aid about 90 minutes later. These generous people provided us with dry clothes and a meal, and arranged for a room.

The next day the Marines met us at the restaurant and advised us to get to the boat ASAP. I had wanted to get Jim back to the US immediately, but this was not possible. Summerwind was on the rocks about an hour's drive on rough roads from Turtle Bay. When we arrived, we saw that Summerwind had been stripped of anything of value. We were able to get a few items, including — thankfully! — my passport and credit cards.

Upon our return to Turtle Bay, I was advised that I had to meet with the port captain in Guerrero Negro by 8 a.m. the next day. I was very fortunate to have a friend in Guerrero Negro, and he sent a driver down to pick us up that evening. We met with the port captain and gave him the official statement of the events.

We are all in San Diego now. I am planning to return to Turtle Bay in the coming days to gather some of my belongings. I am very thankful to Rodrigo 'Pollo' of Ullman Sails for his help and to the generous people of Turtle Bay.

Although we had some difficulties with the autopilot, the main furler and crew, these should have been better attended to by me, the skipper. Hindsight is always more clear.

This unplanned 'stop' at Punta Quebrada was not what I had envisioned for our Ha-Ha adventure. While the loss of Summerwind to me is a great loss, I know that life can change in a moment. We can choose to move forward, so here we go.

I hope all went well with the rest of the trip for everyone else.

Steve Brodbeck
Summerwind, Newport 41
San Diego

Steve — We're sorry for your loss, but take solace in the fact that nobody was hurt and that your boat was apparently insured.

It was at about 7 p.m. that the Grand Poobah, crashed out aboard Profligate in Turtle Bay, heard that Summerwind was on the rocks somewhere north of Turtle Bay. The reported positions given varied by as much as 30 miles. The Poobah immediately put out a call for a Ha-Ha boat with a reasonably large dinghy and outboard. Kenny Knoll, the ex-Coastie sleeping aboard his Irwin 65 Jersey Girl, was alerted of the situation. He immediately jumped into his dinghy and picked up the Poobah from Profligate. It was pitch-black out and we only had a very general idea of where Summerwind might be. It was a tense situation, as for all we knew we'd have to swim to the boat and might find injured crew or even dead bodies aboard.

For the Poobah, the search became a lesson in how inaccurate and imprecise information can be in emergencies, and how hard it is to find anything that isn't brightly illuminated. Kenny and the Poobah floundered around for about an hour in benign conditions — 5 knots of wind and flat seas — in a vain search for Summerwind. We finally received word — barely audible — that the Summerwind crew had been recovered in good health and taken to Turtle Bay.

We met with some of the local officials and Marines the next day on Profligate, and were told that a fisherman had seen Summerwind go onto the rocks and reported it to authorities in Turtle Bay.

More than 2,500 boats have done the Baja Ha-Ha. Only two have been lost. The J/120 J World sank after colliding with a whale in 2009. After spending several hours in a liferaft, the crew was rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter from San Diego. The second was Summerwind.

We hope you'll be able to join us on another Ha-Ha and enjoy better results.


The crew of the Farr 395 Anduril sends a huge thanks to the Grand Poobah and all his helpers for a great Ha-Ha. It was a wonderful experience for Anduril and crew. The event was so well organized and a ton of fun. And we liked how supportive fellow sailors were of each other. Other than a little terror provided by our crewmembers flying the spinnaker that windy first night, all was well on Anduril.

Check out the photo of the ugly spinnaker wrap that we got on the first night of Leg 1. At midnight, of course! The spinnaker had a torsion line that hog-tied itself onto the furled jib. We had to live with the situation until we anchored in light winds at Turtle Bay. Then it took three sessions with the skipper up the mast to untangle the mess.

Alice Kloosterboer
Anduril, Farr 395
Vancouver, BC

Alice — Thanks for the kind words. If it makes you feel any better, we once got an intractable Leg 1 spinnaker wrap on Profligate and had to motor 40 miles with a flogging chute before we gained a lee and were able to get it down. Having learned our lesson, we now sail a bit more conservatively.


The skipper and crew of J/122 Day Dream want to thank the Poobah and his team for a terrific Baja Ha-Ha. It was our second, but it won't be our last.

The Ha-Ha provides a truly unique opportunity and experience for members of the boating community. In both Ha-Ha's we've participated in, the camaraderie and fleet spirit has been extraordinary. That everyone works to help all the boats to Cabo is inspiring. And then there was the fun, and plenty of it in all forms. And we like the Poobah's kindness and daily sense of humor.

We aren't sure how you're able to pull it all together year after year, but please keep up the amazing work. We absolutely will be back.

Robert Day and the entire crew
Day Dream, J/122
Newport Beach, CA

Robert and Crew — When you're doing something that makes people happy, it's more fun than work and is relatively easy to put together.

After the awards party, Martin Kratz, owner of the Beneteau 473 Soiree, approached the Poobah and said, "This Ha-Ha has been the highlight of my life." The Poobah thought he might be joking. But he repeated the claim. People always ask when the Poobah is going to stop running the Ha-Ha. When he gets compliments like that, how could he ever stop?

While this year's first two legs were about the windiest ever in the Ha-Ha, and thus there were a couple more 'incidents' than normal, the Poobah thought it was a great one. He can't wait for next year. And the year after. And the year after that.


Read about what can happen to you if apply for an FMM visa status for Mexico online, as opposed to applying in person at a Mexican embassy in the United States. If you apply online, there is no check of any of your information until you get to a point of entry. In my case, when I got to Nogales.

When I got to the offices in Nogales, some negative information came up through the Mexican system about a person with the same name as mine. The officials wouldn't tell me what the man had done, but they said he was "a very bad man."

Having no immediate way of knowing that I wasn't the "bad man," they threw me in the slammer overnight! They wanted to hold me until a more senior immigration official came to work the next morning.

When the immigration officer got there, he tried to intimidate me into signing a two-page document in Spanish, which I couldn't understand. He wouldn't even let me send a photocopy to the US embassy.

My wife called the US State Department all night long, but they were no help.

The Mexican officials finally got so tired of hearing me say, "I can't sign a document I can't read or understand," that they deported me back to the United States.

I don't have any unpaid parking tickets, let alone a criminal record. Nada! But now I can't get back to my boat in San Carlos.

Robert Cohn
Nomad, Rival 36
Point Richmond

Robert — We're very sorry to hear about your experience. The Mexican system is getting better all the time, but from time to time there are still problems. Hopefully you can go to a Mexican embassy in the United States and get it straightened out and get your boat.


I'm writing in response to a November issue letter from David Fiorito regarding the close call between his Beneteau 39 Irie and the very fast catamaran SmartRecruiters on San Francisco Bay. Despite being on port, Fiorito held his course, but he got angry with SmartRecruiters despite the fact that they were on starboard.

I wasn't there to witness the incident, but I do race on the Bay a lot. Mr. Florito specified he was on port, but then says he felt he was obliged to hold his course.

Wrong! It does not matter if they were racing or not, or which boat was going faster. The basic Rule of the Road specifies that the boat on starboard tack has right of way, and the starboard-tack boat should hold their course and assume that the port-tack boat understands the Rules of the Road. The port tack boat is obliged to make whatever course correction is necessary. They should do this early and in an obvious manner — meaning a tack or a significant course change — so the starboard-tack boat sees they are paying attention. Someone with a Coast Guard license should know this.

Fiorito also assumes that a cat screaming along is more maneuverable than the racer/cruiser that he was daysailing. Has he ever sailed on a cat like that?

When we come across racers, we assume they know the Rules of the Road. When we come upon cruisers, we assume they are clueless, don't see us, don't care about us, or are unable to actually maneuver their vessels. Please, if you are skippering or driving a boat, make sure you understand the Rules of the Road and follow them. To do otherwise endangers your boat and passengers and other boats around you.

Andy Newell
Ahi, Santana 35

Andy — With all due respect, we're going to disagree with you on one count, and suggest that things aren't as cut and dried as you assume on the second count.

For the last 20 years we've been sailing a pretty fast — when there is wind — catamaran, and on 50 Ha-Ha legs we've let all the other boats start first so we could slalom our way through fleets of 120 to 150 slower boats to take photos. It's been our experience that Profligate going 18 knots is ridiculously more maneuverable when it comes to avoiding a collision than a boat that is going six knots.

A boat doing 18 knots can gain separation three times faster than a boat going just 6 knots. This is especially true with a multihull, where so much of the speed comes from apparent wind. It hardly takes any change in our course or sail trim to either accelerate or decelerate dramatically. In less than a complete turn of Profligate's wheel, we can slow from 18 knots to 9 knots or less. So if some sailors are "screaming along" on a cat and can't "maneuver" quickly, it would seem to us they are not really in control and perhaps should be extremely careful when sailing in the vicinity of other boats.

Secondly, since you brought up the Rules of the Road, let's dig a little deeper. Yes, there are the basic rules regarding stand-on and give-way vessels that hopefully everybody knows. But there is also Rule 17(b): "When, from any cause, the vessel required to keep her course and speed finds herself so close that collision cannot be avoided by the action of the give-way vessel alone, she shall take such action as will best aid to avoid collision."

If you consider that Rule 17(b) is the last rule to be applied before an impending collision, it could be seen as the 'ultimate rule'.

Many mariners would be surprised by the implications of Rule 17(b). For example, when a give-way vessel without anyone on watch collides with a stand-on vessel, the collision is completely the fault of the give-way vessel without a lookout, right? Wrong. In fact, the Supreme Court ruled that the absence of a lookout was "unimportant" in finding fault in a collision between two boats because the stand-on vessel saw the vessel without a watch well in advance and could have easily maneuvered to avoid the collision.

Similarly, there was the case in which a vessel on the wrong side of a channel collided head-on with a vessel traveling on the correct side of the channel. Slam-dunk case of who was at fault, right? Wrong! Both skippers were cited. The skipper of the stand-on vessel was cited because had he slowed down there wouldn't have been a collision. It's old Rule 17(b) again.

Had there been a collision between SmartRecruiters on starboard and Irie on port, we think both vessels would have been found to be at least to some extent at fault. We think Fiorito's argument that he felt "obligated to hold his course" because he thought it would be the safest course of action would be a very strong one. And based on our experience, we think he's right.

Mind you, we're absolutely not advocating that mariners ignore the basic Rules of the Road, or ignore them because another boat is going very fast or racing. We are saying that the helmsperson of a boat going three or four times as fast as other boats has an obligation to realize that he/she is in a tomcat position and the other vessel is a sitting duck, and as such, the former has an obligation to both avoid a collision and avoid scaring the bejesus out of the people on the other boat. More than anything, it's a matter of being nice.


My husband and I sailed the Jim Brown 37 Searunner trimaran Tiva from San Diego to Hawaii, then as far down as Fiji, in the 1980s. We had a wonderful adventure, and that old polyester tri held up well. We sold Tiva in Fiji, flew home, and started thinking about our next trimaran.

Doggone, our current 40-ft Searunner design, was just three hulls when we bought her from the Napa Valley Marina boneyard in 1998. We had her in the water in one year, and finished her up and set sail to Mexico in December of 2001. We'd signed up for that year's Baja Ha-Ha, but weren't ready in time.

We spent most of the next four years in Puerto Vallarta, and then Greig sailed her back to the Bay in 2006. With our daughter now in Portland, and wonderful memories of Mexico in our heads, we are very glad to be back sailing in tropical Mexico.

Sailing on Doggone is always smooth — unless going to windward in short, steep chop. Our tri is light and therefore easily driven. Doggone has a deep centerboard, so she points well. We hit 16.8 knots on Leg 1 in the just-completed Ha-Ha, and Doggone always felt solid. In addition, our tiller autopilot worked like a champ, even in 20+ knot winds and more than 10-ft seas. Right now we only have white sails, but we'll definitely need to get at least one light-air sail.

Doggone is super comfy at anchor or in a slip, and we really enjoy all her deck space. We run with three 100-watt solar panels, which have provided all the power that we have needed so far.

Because Doggone is plywood/epoxy construction, Greig can readily do the repairs himself. He had to do this after she got knocked off her jack stands when Hurricane John hit La Paz in 2006.

The Searunner series trimarans are very economical cruising boats, well designed and very comfortable. Two years from now, in 2018, it will be time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Searunner trimarans. Our hats are off to Jim Brown!

And hats off to the Grand Poobah and his team for this year's wonderful Ha-Ha experience. The effort that was put into it really showed.

Leslie and Greig Olson
Doggone, Searunner 40


After years of cruising in the tropics and a way-too-long and too-difficult complete refit of Migration in Thailand, Ailene and I are in Japan. Life is good here, but compared to the tropics, it's cold! The temps are in the 50s and 60s now, which is hard to get used to after the tropics.

I saw the request in 'Lectronic Latitude for old cruising photos and decided to send in the accompanying one. That's me at age 24 on the left. It was taken in San Diego in 1983. The circumstance was that my best friends Steve and Shirley had joined me for a trip to San Diego to search the bulletin boards for cruising boats needing crew.

We signed on to a Piver Victress trimaran owned by an Englishman who wanted to sail her back to England via the Panama Canal. Lots of stories go with the adventure, but it takes a whole night to get through them all, what with the torpedo-sized oxygen tank, the Doberman guard dog, an extended Coast Guard boarding, destructive spinnaker-flying in Cabo, etc.

Unfortunately, the elderly owner had waited too long to fulfill his cruising dream. He fell ill and had to sell the boat in Mexico. The experience was life-changing for me because I swore I wouldn't wait too long to go cruising, and I fell in love with trimarans.

Bruce Balan and Alene Rice
Migration, Cross 46 trimaran
California/Currently Himeji, Japan

Readers — Bruce, later joined by Alene, indeed didn't wait too long to go cruising. As long ago as 2008 the couple had cruised to Easter Island and, after a long time in the South Pacific, sailed as far south as the southern tip of the South Island of New Zealand. Having done their time in New Zealand, they are now slowly working their way through Japan, supposedly on their way back to the United States.


What's the deal with raw-water impellers on sailboat diesels? Because our raw-water impeller is located in an almost inaccessible location on our Deerfoot 62, we have always tried to head off an at-sea replacement by understanding the correct TBO (time between overhaul) for impellers. That way we could always replace the impeller proactively in the serenity of a quiet anchorage or marina.

Finding no data for impellers, we experimented. Our first replacement was a bit late, at 18 months and after more than 700 engine hours. All the fins on the rubber impeller were intact, but 50% of the them were cracked. In fact, we'd probably replaced it just in time.

The next replacement was performed at 12 months and a tad more than 500 hours. Upon removal, we found the impeller was in near-new condition and barely distinguishable from the new one. So that became our unofficial TBO for the raw water impeller. This interval worked for years — until we made it almost all the way across the South Pacific.

While on passage from Fiji to New Zealand, through a stretch of water that's no stranger to bad weather and thus not the place to be changing hard-to-get-at impellers, our impeller failed. The impeller was totally shredded, with bits jammed into the seawater supply — and no doubt ingested into the downstream heat exchanger.

So what happened? Is there a shelf-life on rubber impellers? Should we maintain a FIFO system on our spares? Did we suck sand into the seawater intake? Is it because we started a voyage on a Friday? What's the secret to avoiding this?

John and Debbie Rogers
Moonshadow, Deerfoot 62
San Diego/Currently in Opua, New Zealand


I don't know how many people are following the adventures of Jeanne Socrates, who is the oldest woman to complete a solo nonstop circumnavigation, and who is now, at age 74, trying to become the oldest person to complete a solo nonstop circumnavigation. Latitude readers can learn all about it at

And there certainly was a lot to read about in just the first few days, as almost immediately after she set out from Victoria she got into some nasty weather. Followed by even more nasty weather.

Socrates didn't get out a blog on October 24, so given the very bad weather she was in, many of us were worried about her safety. It's great to learn that she's survived winds in the 60s and seas over 20 feet.

Charlie Stephens
Pacifica, Cal 2-46
Vancouver, BC

Readers — Jeanne, one of Latitude's heroes and one of the Wanderer's favorite people, couldn't have started at a worse time, as she sailed into a series of wicked fronts, most of which hit her right on the nose.

Jeanne's October 20th start wasn't too bad, with mostly light winds. But by that night the wind was in the high 20s and it was rough. The second day featured either calms or strong winds — and a lousy forecast for the upcoming days. Day 3 featured a variety of conditions again, with Jeanne trying to catch up on much-needed sleep. On Day 4 it was blowing 25- to 35-knots on the nose, and the forecast for the next two days was even worse. Day 5 brought the promise of even rougher weather, so Jeanne was getting ready to deploy the Jordan series drogue. Later on Day 5 Jeanne set the drogue and got ready for 50- to 60-knot winds and huge seas. On Day 6 it blew more than 60 knots, and the shackle for the series drogue on the port quarter of Nereida had come undone. Socrates alerted the Coast Guard about her situation.

On Day 7, Jeanne packed a ditch bag with passport and other valuables, and even thought about getting into her survival suit. Mind you, Jeanne is 74 years old and had to be suffering terribly. But her Najad 36 handled the conditions well.

Jeanne had a lot of trouble getting the drogue back in, and when she did, it was damaged. So she decided to head back to Victoria for repairs and a new series drogue.

Days before the start of the Baja Ha-Ha, the Grand Poobah was rolling around the bed of a San Diego budget motel at 3 a.m., unable to sleep. So he sent a message to Socrates, advising her that it would be an honor to buy her a replacement Jordan series drogue. Much to the Poobah's surprise, Jeanne was also awake at 3 a.m., and thus answered immediately. The two traded messages online, with the Grand Poobah ultimately pledging $1,000 on behalf of this year's Ha-Ha participants to her purchase of a new drogue. Jeanne was thrilled. So when she took off again on November 14 on her historic record attempt, a little bit of the Ha-Ha fleet was sailing along with her.


Please post more photos of the Baja Ha-Ha on 'Lectronic Latitude to help us cope with the political misery we've been experiencing during the presidential election back here in the United States. The dispatches from the Ha-Ha encourage us to believe there is a better and more fulfilling life out there. And that life is better than the mudslinging going on — unless, of course, there is Ha-Ha mudslinging for fun.

David Barten
Ikani, Gecco 39
San Diego

David — The Ha-Ha fleet got the election results from the Grand Poobah at 6 a.m. on the day of the start of the last leg from Bahia Santa Maria to Cabo. We were shocked and delighted to not hear any political talk on the Ha-Ha channels afterward, nor had we heard any political talk prior to getting the election results. As such, you can imagine what a shock it was to get to Cabo and have access to television, newspapers and the Internet, where so many people could be observed gnashing their teeth over the surprising results. It was indeed great to have left the country.

The nice thing about being on a boat is that you have too many immediate concerns to be preoccupied or furious about things that you can't control thousands of miles away. We recommend it.


Latitude 38 founder and now former owner Richard Spindler probably won't remember me, but we met in La Cruz on a few occasions, and I did one race aboard his catamaran Profligate on Banderas Bay. I began reading Latitude in the 1970s and have written in on occasion, generally making a complete fool of myself.

More than any other publication, Latitude helped keep me abreast of what was going on in the sailing world. It also helped keep my cruising dreams alive. When I was working on tugs in the Arctic and elsewhere in Alaska, I had copies sent up each month. They never failed to entertain me and brighten my day. I savored each and every one of them.

I'm glad that Richard/Wanderer is going to continue writing for the 'new' Latitude, and I hope he continues as long as it's fun. I wish him nothing but the best in his partial retirement. He's earned it many times over.

John Tebbetts
Ichi Ban, Yamaha 33
Fofoa Island, Tonga/Fiji

John — Thanks. Even if it was really hard, at least we were doing something that we truly loved. As we've said before, we think Latitude is now in the best hands possible, and the Wanderer wants to do all he can to help it be a success.


Latitude founder Richard Spindler and Latitude 38 have been an inspiration to me and many others to just get out there and go sailing. I've been reading the magazine since the mid-1980s, and was inspired by Latitude to go down to one of the first Sea of Cortez Sailing Weeks. We sailed against Richard and his Ocean 71 Big O with the Ocean 71 sistership St. Elmo's Fire. I also did the inaugural Baja Ha-Ha in 1994. What great times!

I've gone through three big boats, and am currently sailing and setting up for another to cruise — hopefully next fall. Good on Richard's partial retirement; he has reason to be proud.

Dave Fiorito
Irie, Beneteau 393

Dave — It's been the Wanderer's life's goal to try to help other people have fun, preferably on the water. The Wanderer is committed to helping the new Latitude be as much of an inspiration in the future as it was in the past.


I'm searching for an Ocean 71 ketch for a client, but can't find any for sale. What ever happened to the Ocean 71 Big O that was owned by the founder of Latitude 38? Might she be for sale?

Eric Jones
World Yachts
Brookfield, WI

Eric — As you might know, 21 of the Ocean 71s were built by Southern Ocean Shipyard in Poole, England, and four 71s with 4-ft extensions were built by Camper & Nicholsons. When the van de Stadt design, based on the famous Stormvogel, was introduced in the early 1970s, she was one of the biggest cruising/charter boats around. Many of today's megayacht skippers cut their teeth on them. The Ocean 71 was a fabulous ocean boat, particularly comforting and comfortable in rough weather. On the downside, like all boats from 45 years ago, the interior volume is much smaller than today's 71-footers.

This summer we ran into Joe Hutchens, who used to run an Ocean 71 between Antigua and the Med in the 1980s and 1990s, and is now a partner in a yacht concierge service in Antigua. It might have been his rum talking, but during a dinner he said, "I loved the 71. In fact, if I saw one again, I'd buy her."

We sold Big O in the Caribbean 20 years ago to Tom Ellison of Vancouver. He spent a ton of money doing a massive rebuild, which she needed, and christened her Ocean Light. For nearly 20 years he's successfully chartered her on spirit-bear charters in the waters near Vancouver Island. In the process Ocean Light has been featured in National Geographic. The charter brochure can be found online.

As for the other Ocean 71s, they are scattered around the world. St. Elmo's Fire, which used to be on the Bay, was recently sold in Croatia. Second Life, another Ocean 71 that sailed the Bay for a long time, sank in the Caribbean under curious circumstances.

Going online, we found a couple of other Ocean 71s for sale in Europe for about $300,000. As great as the Ocean 71s were, a buyer would have to remember that the boats are from the early 1970s. We wouldn't worry about the hulls, but we'd be frightened at the cost if the interior needed lots of work. For even a small 71-ft boat is a very big, and therefore very expensive, rebuild.


Where were the 'big boats' for the Rolex St. Francis YC Big Boat Series? Why don't they get the maxis to come race around the buoys, in which case we'd have a real Big Boat Series again? I watched some of the video from this year's event, and it looked like a bunch of Clorox bottles out there. Where is Jim Clark's 100-ft Comanche?

Grey McGown
Lonesome Dovekie, Dovekie 21
Fort Worth, TX

Grey — With the average size of a Big Boat Series boat getting ever smaller, the title does seem like a misnomer. But times have changed. And regattas don't get 'maxis to come to them'; maxi owners choose where they want to race their boats. And mind you, what used to pass for a maxi is now a comparatively small boat.

The zenith of the St. Francis Big Boat Series was, if memory serves us, 1985, when there were something like 12 maxis from all over the world competing in an epic regatta. At that time, the owners pretty much agreed that 80 feet was 'the' big boat size. But since then what was once the upper end of yacht racing has splintered into countless factions.

The more affluent of yesterday's owners of 70-ft sleds and 80-ft big boats have moved up. Way up. The 80-footers of the 1980s are now 100-200 feet. Some of the owners of these boats, such as Jim Clark of the 100-ft Comanche and George David of Rambler 88, have gone for insane no-holds-barred racing machines that can only be sailed by large crews of professionals flown in from around the world. Those who aren't quite as obsessed with racing still like to do certain famous races. For instance, for the first time ever next year's Fastnet Race will not limit boat length to 100 feet. Owners of much bigger racer/cruisers demanded a place on the starting line.

But most owners prefer a combination of worldwide cruising and more genteel racing, such as found at the St. Barths Bucket, various megayacht regattas in the Med, and brand-specific events such as the Swan, Perini Navi and Oyster Regattas.

The thing about much bigger and faster boats is that San Francisco Bay is way too small to have a regatta for them. The bigger racer/cruisers can take 15 minutes and several miles to jibe. You can't have boats like these engage in tacking duels up the Cityfront. The more suitable racing venues for 100-footers and up are events such as the Transpac, Pacific Cup, Transatlantic, Fastnet, Caribbean 500, St. Barths Bucket or Voiles, Sydney Hobart and the Middle Sea Race.

Back in the heyday of the 70-ft sleds, owners would move their boats from Southern California to San Francisco Bay for the Big Boat Series. These days the likes of Jim Clark will rush his 100-ft Comanche from Australia to the Caribbean (by way of the East Coast), to Europe, to maybe South Africa to maybe Los Angeles for the Transpac. For these owners — he also has a 292-ft cruising boat and a 135-ft J Class yacht ­— expense isn't an issue. It can't be.

Another obstacle to a big-boat regatta on San Francisco Bay is the lack of warm water. When it comes to racing a modern 180-ft yacht, the choice between doing it on the cold and gray waters of San Francisco Bay versus the tropical blue waters of St. Barth or Antigua, it's not a tough decision. The Bay also suffers from the fact that it's not on the Med-Caribbean-Northeast megayacht circuit.

So while the Rolex Big Boat Series once meant a regatta highlighted by a few large boats that were spectacular for their era, now the 'big' in Big Boat Series refers to the number of boats participating. And in Latitude's view, while a Big Boat Series with 100 mostly smaller boats may lack the grandeur of a Big Boat Series with a few 100-footers, we'll take greater participation over greater size every time.


I met and chatted with the Grand PooBob/Wanderer during the SoCal Ta-Ta this year. It was my first rally, but it certainly won't be the last. I hope to do the Baja Ha-Ha in 2018.

I saw two photos of Profligate in the November 14 'Lectronic Latitude, and the caption described her as "a sunny place for shady people." I wonder if the Wanderer stole that appellation from Elmore Leonard?"

Kent Fletcher
Andiamo, Catalina 30
Santa Cruz

Kent — The caption was a joke, sort of a play on the fact that countless places from Key West to St. Barth have adopted the clever 'sunny place for shady people' title. If Leonard used it, he didn't invent it, as the line was coined by W. Somerset Maugham about the French Riviera in general and Monte Carlo in particular.

Nonetheless, Elmore Leonard, who didn't sell his first novel until he was 65, remains one of the Wanderer's favorite authors.


The St. Francis YC has nothing on the blue blazers, brass buttons and stiff tillers up of the Ida Lewis YC of Newport, Rhode Island.

"Visitors from Reciprocal Clubs wishing to visit ILYC must provide ILYC with a letter of introduction from an Officer or Manager of the reciprocal Club directed to the attention of the ILYC Club Manager. Upon confirmation with the requesting Reciprocal Club, the ILYC Club Manager may approve the request. In this event, the Reciprocal Club member will have access to the Club facilities for a period of up to three (3) consecutive days. Prior to using the Club facilities, the Reciprocal Club member must check in at the Club Dock Office where they will be provided a Guest Card which they may use at the Club during this period. The reciprocal Club member may be allowed to attend events at the Club after all Members' requests to attend that event have been satisfied and permission has been given by the Club Manager. The list of Reciprocal Clubs will be posted on the Club bulletin board. Continued status as a Reciprocal Club is at the discretion of the Flag Officers.

"Our facilities are available only to visiting Yachtsmen who show membership in a recognized Yacht Club by letter of introduction, or Membership Card; and their guests. If you plan to use our facilities, no matter how slightly, we ask you to come ashore upon arrival and register at the Dock Office.

"We charge a daily fee of $65, payable in advance. This permits visiting yachtsmen to use our facilities as available each day from 12 noon to 12 noon. We monitor VHF 78A- Telephone 401-846-1969."

My parents were members.

Name Withheld by Request


With regard to reciprocal privileges, the Pacific Interclub Yacht Association (PICYA) does not require or outline the participation of member clubs:

"There are over 100 yacht clubs and boating organizations in PICYA, each unique in size, structure, membership interests, and facilities. Therefore, it must be the responsibility of each club to develop its own program of activities and its own policies and procedures about reciprocity with other clubs. There is nothing automatic about reciprocal privileges, despite the fact that uninformed individuals and organizations pass this word along. While we believe that all our member clubs have a spirit of sportsmanship and friendliness toward other boaters, we support every club's right and responsibility to establish its own policies with respect to visiting privileges. Reciprocity is a privilege not a right."

That said, I have been well received at every club I have visited. I typically call local clubs in advance to learn about the rules and expected decorum. The Golden Gate, Oakland, Benicia, Vallejo, San Rafael and Bay View clubs have all been fun stops for me.

Sailing south, I did visit Monterey YC, where I was very well received and where Gary Haas was behind the bar sporting a full-on blue blazer and tie — with shorts and sandals. My kind of place all around!

We checked in at Santa Barbara YC unannounced and were given a three-day pass to their facility — which is stellar, with a great bar and deck. And we had several dinners at the Puerto Vallarta YC, where we met other cruisers, and where, in my opinion, the food rivaled that of any five-star club in the US.

In general, other yacht clubs owe you nothing. You are guests in their house. You do get some 'street cred' if you arrive by boat or are far from home. But you can burn it right up by being rude, pushy or demanding, or by disregarding rules or decorum guidelines.

Mark Wieber
Goliard, Slocum 43

Mark — We're still looking for a better — meaning more accurate — term than 'reciprocal privileges'.


I have been in and out of Morro Bay YC many times, and although I am a member of Richmond YC, I've always had to pay for berthing. It's no big deal. And I've met Lynn, the port captain. She seems all right in my book.

Steve Cameron
Selket, Columbia 32
Point Richmond


I read about the 'reciprocal privileges' kerfuffle at Morro Bay YC in last month's Latitude, with all sides weighing in. As a member of Columbia YC in Chicago, when traveling with family via car or airplane but not boat, I've taken advantage of 'reciprocal privileges' to dine in a club in the city we're visiting, usually with friends/family that are local and have never been inside. Our most recent visits have included the Balboa YC and Naples YC in California and the Sarasota YC in Florida. We've always phoned first to make sure we wouldn't be turned away at the door. Each of the yacht clubs mentioned above treated us as 'visiting members', and helped create great memories for our family and friends.

But 'reciprocal privileges', correctly identified as a misnomer by Mike Priest, has an additional exclusion radius factor within Chicago. The club whose name is the same as the city's invokes a 75-mile exclusion radius before reciprocal privileges can be invoked. This essentially eliminates these privileges for members of other yacht clubs on the southern tip of Lake Michigan.

Thus, the special right of privilege is variable, and contains with it hidden responsibilities and exclusions. "User beware" may be appropriate.

P.S. I love reading Letters, especially the Wanderer's replies, and Max Ebb each month. Please keep up the great work. Take care.

Jay Grizzell
Shoe String, Olson 34
Chicago, IL

Jay — Calling ahead is always a great idea.

Not wanting to be picky, but it was the Wanderer who identified 'reciprocal privileges' as being a misnomer.


The Nantucket YC offers no reciprocals to anybody. They are very snobby. I have informed the manager of my club, the San Francisco YC, to toss out anybody who comes from the Nantucket YC. Too bad for them.

When it comes to a simple, outstanding yacht club with wonderful hospitality, it would be hard to beat the Royal Victoria YC of Vancouver Island.

Charles Pick
Elusive, Olson 911S
SFYC, Belvedere


I stopped at the Morro Bay YC in 2007 during a delivery back home following a particularly windy Coastal Cup. I tied up at their dock, found the dockmaster's phone number and began the conversation with, "Good morning; how and to whom do I pay for an overnight at your dock?" The crew and I were given the key to the damn place so we could take showers, and we were told where to find the fenderboard to protect our topsides from the pilings at the fuel dock. They even welcomed us back 30 hours later after we got our asses handed to us beating toward Point Sur. The Morro Bay YC rocked for us.

I find first impressions to be pretty important, and know that people can tell over the phone if you're smiling or snarling. No matter where you go, I think it's best to go in with low expectations. After all, you are asking for a favor, even if you are paying for it.

As for the dockside hospitality at the Kaneohe YC, I've found that it's wholly dependent on the size and displacement of one's boat. Their docks aren't built to accommodate an Andrews 56, so they prefer such boats to anchor out. But the docks are just fine for a Baltic 37. As such, I've had the best and worst of Kaneohe YC hospitality, and both for perfectly understandable reasons.

Nick Salvador
No Strings Attached, Baltic 37


There is no excuse for mistreating any honorable guest on a yacht club premises. The idea of having to coax cooperation from the yacht club management for sundowners is nonsense. If the club isn't immediately hospitable, they ought not to exist.

I find that many, if not most, establishments that supposedly cater to private-vessel owners have snooty and uncooperative staff and management — unless the vessel is opulent or the captain and crew kiss up to the staff — as in the sundowner scenario you suggest. We already have plenty on our plates without having to also handle a supposed service-providing establishment with kid gloves and jumping through their egocentric hoops. They generally need to realize they are the commercial establishment, we are the customers, and we are generally prepared to behave normally and properly in return.

Richard Stanard
Lakota, Dufour 433
St. Petersburg, FL


The Sausalito Cruising Club was wonderful to us. We enjoyed a warm welcome and a two-week stay at their dock. We paid a small fee but were given the run of the place along with their members. Even our two granddaughters felt welcome. A big shout-out to John and the members of the Cruising Club, the best of hosts.

Debra Perfitt
Coastal Drifter, Folkes 42
Puerto Peñasco, Mexico


Before anyone's fantasy sets in about sailing their own boat around the Mediterranean, there are currently two major legal/fiscal issues that need to be carefully considered. Neither of these affects people on normal tourist vacations to Europe.

The first concerns your boat. A boat not flagged in the European Union is generally allowed to stay in the EU for 18 months before any tax is assessed. At the end of 18 months, Value Added Tax (VAT) has to be paid on the boat. It varies by country but is about 20% of the value of the boat. That's a big number!

Fortunately, there is an easy solution to this problem, because all you have to do is take the boat out of the EU for an unspecified period of time — as little as one day. Once you return to an EU country, the 18-month clock starts ticking anew. Reasonable and practical countries to visit in order to take your boat out of the EU for a day or more are Montenegro, Albania and Turkey. Although given the current political situation in Turkey, it might be better to leave it off the list. Morocco, at the western end of the Med, will work as well. Tunisia used to be a favorite spot for this, but is much less so since the hotel massacre a while back.

Make sure you keep proof — dock and fuel receipts — showing that the boat has been out of the EU. Your stamped passport is not proof that your boat left the EU.

Be advised, however, that an EU resident can only be aboard this non-VAT paid boat for 30 days. As I understand it, Americans such as Debbie and I, who have gotten either a Carte de Séjour from France or the Long Term Residence Visa from Italy, are technically 'residents' of those countries and are thus subject to the 30-day limit. That's one reason not to get either a Carte de Séjour or Long Term Residence visa.

The biggest elephant in the room, however, is the Schengen Area Agreement, the primary purpose of which was to allow the citizens of the 26 signatory countries to travel and work freely throughout the area. Non-EU citizens — including Americans, Brits, Canadians, Australians and Kiwis — don't need to get a visa, but they are limited to 90 days in the EU out of any 180-day period.

The key to the 90/180 is to think of it as a rolling clock, and to realize that any combination of days is acceptable. The 90 days do not have to be consecutive. For example, you have been in Italy for 60 days, and you now sail to Croatia (which is EU but not Schengen) and sail for 30 days, before arriving in Greece. You have now used 60 of your 90 days, and have 30 days to remain in Schengen Greece. At the end of 120 days, you must leave the Schengen Area, as you have accumulated 90 days within the 180-day period. So you sail off to Turkey, which is both non-EU and non-Schengen. At the end of 60 days in Turkey, you count back and see that you have your full 90 days in 180 in the Schengen countries, But, it is now 180 days since your arrival in the EU, so now each succeeding day you are lopping off day 181, then 182, etc., from your time in Italy. So you can return to Schengen. Mark your calendar and count back 180 days.

What if you decide the Schengen Area limits are rubbish and you ignore the 90 out of 180 days limit? In theory, almost anything can happen, from nobody's even noticing you overstayed, to a fine, to an 'Overstay' stamp on your passport.

Some people think Italy and France are pretty lax on checking how long you've stayed, while Germany and Switzerland are more organized and therefore more strict. However, we had our passports scrutinized very carefully by Immigration at the airport in Venice.

So what to do? If we didn't have our expensive boat here, we wouldn't overly concern ourselves with the Schengen time limitations. After all, I'm not taking someone's job; all I'm doing is contributing to the local economy. As a boat owner, I'm making a big contribution. This part of the Schengen rationale doesn't make sense to me, as it only hurts their member countries' economies. Noonsite reports that there is a movement to modify Schengen to offer a one-year touring visa. But until the law changes, we will play by the rules.

Also be aware that Croatia, Montenegro and reportedly Turkey, which are all non-Schengen, also have their own 90-day stay limits. The good news is these 90-day limits are not linked to Schengen countries, but you are limited to 90 days in each of these countries within a 180-day period.

And be aware that Croatian authorities are a real pain in the ass and go out of their way to fine cruisers. We recently spent 12 days in Montenegro just to 'save' enough time on our Croatian 90-day limit so we could return and have enough days left to make our boat's scheduled haulout and our flight back to the States. On the bright side, we were able to purchase duty-free fuel in Montenegro for about 50 cents a liter, about a fourth the price of other places.

While I complain about Schengen to anyone who will listen, I'm aware that the US has some very stringent rules affecting Europeans cruising in our waters.

Greg Dorland
Escapade, Catana 52
Squaw Valley/Cavtat, Croatia

Readers — One of the delights of international cruising is trying to figure out which laws countries/political alliances enforce, and which ones they don't care about. In the case of Greg and Debbie, they have gone to incredible time and expense to try to do things legally. What they've ended up with is a variation of 'no good deed goes unpunished'.

During our last two summers in Europe, we've learned that all kinds of cruisers blow off the 90-days-in-180 limit — and have done so for years with no consequences. The Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca also suddenly came to the realization that since St. Barth and continental France are both France, we've been overstaying our Schengen limit by nearly 100%. But no Immigration officials at busy Charles de Gaulle ever bothered to examine our passports carefully enough to notice it. So we had the 'Gaul' to ask an immigration officer what would happen if we overstayed. He said it would be a $250 fine.

There are other laws or rules that officials on the other side of the Pond don't seem to care about. For example, in order to legally operate a canal boat in Europe, you need both an International Certificate of Competency and a CENVI inland waterways license. We went to great trouble to get them, but nobody has ever asked to see either one. We later met a guy who has been doing the canals for 20 years without either of those licenses, and he said he'd never had a problem. There is also some stuff the Wanderer is supposed to do because the Dutch-flagged boat has been in France for over a year. But nobody has said anything. We're not worried.

In our opinion, violating any VAT provisions is a serious thing, because governments really want that tax money. To us, the 90-days-in-180-day limit isn't anything to lose sleep over. But every boatowner has to decide for him/herself.



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