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March 2017

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Latitude has always done a good job of mixing fun and sailing. However, for most of us the Crew List is very serious business, as a bad crew can not only ruin a trip, they could sink a boat or worse. Yet Latitude combines a 'Crew List' and 'Party'.

I recommend that the Crew List be a totally separate heading. Yes, it's possible that you can meet a good crew at a Latitude 38 party. But I think we should keep the serious and non-party business of finding a crew in as serious a heading as Weather and Navigation.

I'm a citizen of the world; on February 5 I will have taken the morning ebb out the Gate on my way to Micronesia and beyond, via either or both San Diego and Hawaii.

Timothy R. Lutz, DDS
Ali Baba, Baba 35
San Francisco Bay

Timothy — Sorry, but we have to disagree with you. The Crew List Party is a 'meet and greet', such as is typical before all kinds of important business meetings and other serious events. It's long= been recognized that face-to-face encounters in casual environments grease the skids for future 'business' relationships. And the last thing we would want is to provide a solemn or grim environment, as sailing is about fun. Responsible fun, but fun nonetheless.

Based on the many successes in previous crew list parties, we think Latitude's Spring Crew List Party, on March 8 this year, is the ideal opportunity for sailors to have fun meeting other sailors, and for boatowners and prospective crew to perhaps connect. There is no guarantee of anything, of course, but we think it's the best networking opportunity for sailors in Northern California. And no, Latitude will not be held responsible for any resulting nuptials that have resulted or will result.

And don't sell the Crew List short. We were walking the dock in La Cruz last month when Laura Davis, who formerly lived aboard our old Bounty II in Santa Barbara, came up to enthusiastically thank us for the Crew List. She told us that after she and her husband split up, she put her name on the Crew List, and last winter enjoyed cruising from the Bahamas all the way down to Grenada. And just then she was about to join the Westsail 42 Danika — after another connection through the Crew List — for the Pacific Puddle Jump.

The Crew List is like Life: Countless opportunities but no guarantees.


How about an update on the conditions at the entrance to the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor? While on our way back to Sausalito from the Baja Ha-Ha, we ran aground there on the night of January 28, with substantial damage to my boat.

Here are the details from the loss statement I sent to my insurance company:
"On January 28, 2017, at approximately 8:50 p.m., the Ebenezer III struck an unmarked sandbar in the entrance to Santa Cruz Harbor. Almost immediately a set of swells drove my vessel higher onto the bank, where she lay in the breakers. Three adult crew members — Dr. Richard Lambertson, mate; Dennis Hammer, first mate; and Richard Schaper, master and skipper — were aboard. As was customary, all were wearing their PFDs.

"A mayday was issued. There was response from the Santa Cruz Harbor Patrol and from the BoatUS towboat, both of which were inside the harbor. The Santa Cruz Fire Department deployed two swimmers from the BoatUS towboat. The swimmers from the towboat attached a towline to a bridle around the foot of the mast of my boat.

"The bow was then pivoted in toward the harbor, which meant that large swells then broke directly into the cockpit, where crew and rescue swimmers crouched and held on. The vessel was repeatedly lifted by waves, then pounded back down onto the hard sand bottom. My boat draws 4-ft 6-in, while the depthsounder was showing 3-ft 1-in.

"After approximately 50 minutes of pulling on the towline, my vessel made it over the bar and inside the harbor. She had no steering, so she was taken to the fuel dock. An inspection of the bilge revealed that a steady stream of seawater was coming in from the stern. The regular and high-water bilge pumps were able, however, to keep up with the ingress.

The next morning the vessel was hauled out at Santa Cruz Boat Yard and placed on the hard."

Both BoatUS towboat captain Monte Ash and Santa Cruz Fire Department rescue swimmers displayed outstanding courage, professionalism and skill in effecting our rescue. Both followed up with visits the next day, offering any additional assistance we might need.

There is a prominent warning sign at the launch ramp inside the harbor that states: "DANGER; HARBOR ENTRANCE IS SHOALED, BREAKING SURF FREQUENTLY OCCURS." Why was there no such sign on the outside of the breakwater warning that extreme shoaling conditions existed? Nor was there any Coast Guard securité notice to this effect, although the Coast Guard had been broadcasting such a warning about the entrance to the Morro Bay Harbor. And they'd been broadcasting it every 30 minutes for the previous 48 hours.

In addition, the normal navigation buoys inside the Santa Cruz Harbor had been removed by the dredging company. But I ran aground mid-channel on a rising tide. Thus on January 28, 2017, the entrance to Santa Cruz Harbor was a death trap for a vessel such as my Ebenezer III.

Damage to my boat is estimated to be about $35,000.

Richard L. Schaper, skipper
Ebenezer III, Hunter 39

Readers — Given the long history of winter shoaling at Santa Cruz, there is no way we would have entered that harbor, particularly at night, without getting the latest condition report from the Coast Guard or Harbor Patrol. And we can't imagine there is a pilot or cruising guide that doesn't mention the possibility of winter shoaling.

On the other hand, it seems that the Coast Guard or Harbor Patrol should have been advising boats that the channel markers were missing and dangerous conditions existed, either by periodic notices over the radio or, as you suggest, with a sign posted on the end of the breakwater.


There has been some gross misinformation circulating about the status of a 3-ton crane located on the East Lot of Alameda Marina. As the harbormaster, I want to clear up any confusion and provide an accurate current assessment of the situation.

Alameda Marina has a near-perfect safety record with its cranes. The safety of our tenants, boaters, and the community is our primary goal. This led to the decommissioning of our 2-ton crane late last year, and why we will not attempt a 'quick-fix' for the 3-ton crane. Let me explain.

At one time Alameda Marina operated three cranes. The first, known as the '1-ton hoist', was decommissioned many years ago as it interfered with other operations and because it was seldom used because of its limited capacity.

The second crane, the '2-ton crane', was decommissioned last summer due to movement of the ground behind the seawall that undermined its safety. Alameda Marina hired Anchor QEA, a maritime engineering firm, to do a Level One examination of the situation. Anchor QEA declined to certify the crane as safe for public use, so it was decommissioned.

Trained Alameda Marina personnel continue to use the 2-ton hoist as needed, but only to lift work materials, not boats. It would be a liability to the marina and the City to allow the public to use a hoist with known issues.

The remaining operational crane on the property was the '3-ton crane' in the East Lot. On January 10 a crane operator reported a problem regarding the vertical lifting hoist on the end of the crane arm. We immediately contacted KoneCrane, an industry leader that originally installed the hoist. On January 11 a notice was placed on the crane alerting users that it was out of service. KoneCrane evaluated the crane on January 13, and provided us with a report on January 17, at which time alternatives were reviewed.

During this time, we also received queries about the cranes from a number of tenants, so we sent a mass email advising them that the hoist was then out of service. It was then that we learned that a significant number of our tenants planned to compete in the Three Bridge Fiasco race on January 28, and needed a crane to launch and retrieve their boats.

After conferring with race coordinators and our tenants, we finalized a schedule to provide a mobile crane and operator, as well as free overnight docking, to accommodate tenants who intended to participate in the race. We informed our tenants and the city of Alameda of this plan in another mass emailing and received positive response.

We worked closely with KoneCrane, and were able to get the hoist completely repaired by February 3, one week ahead of our original schedule. We have informed our boaters with a new mass email and the crane was in use over the February 4 weekend.

We at Alameda Marina are pleased that we were able to work with our boating community to find a swift solution to the possible problem with tenants being able to do the Three Bridge Fiasco. The suggestion that the decommissioning of cranes for any purpose other than the safety of our tenants is patently false — and provocative.

Latitude readers should also know that Pacific Shops, Inc., the owner of the property, has an important fiduciary responsibility to the City of Alameda. Under its Tidelands Lease Agreement, PSI is required to have spent at least $500,000 for capital replacement and rehabilitation work to the property and facilities by the end of each five-year period. Since 2012, PSI has spent over $2.1 million pursuant to the agreement, far exceeding its lease obligation in maintaining a safe and functional marina.

For more information please see and — or come down and visit us at 1815 Clement Avenue.

Paul Houtz
Alameda Marina


Not to be pedantic, but the Wanderer was quoting Inland Rules in his article about horn signals. That is fine for San Francisco Bay, but not needed in, say, Half Moon Bay.

The other use for a prolonged blast is one we recreational folks might find useful — to warn other vessels that you're coming around a blind curve. I keep my boat in Ballena Bay in Alameda. We have a long and high — maybe 10 feet at low tide — breakwater followed by a sharp 90° turn into the marina. It's a blind turn. Wise skippers blow a warning signal no matter which way they're going as they approach the turn.

It's similar when exiting a number of marinas in the Oakland Estuary. I've heard slipholders complain that many recreational boats tend to hug the Alameda side of the Estuary, making exiting any of the marinas or yacht clubs into the Estuary a dicey proposition.

P.S. I'm a happy Latitude reader for over two decades of Bay sailing.

Lu Abel
Half Moon Bay

Lu — The boats berthed at Half Moon Bay, aka Pillar Point, are actually in Inland Waters. To quote the Coast Guard, "A line drawn from Pillar Point Harbor Light 6 to Pillar Point Harbor Entrance Light" delineates the demarcation line between where COLREGS apply and where the Inland Rules apply.

If skippers of boats do hug the Alameda — or Oakland — side of the Estuary, we can see how it makes it difficult for skippers existing marinas to see them. Why do skippers sometimes hug the edges of the Estuary? To either take advantage or reduce the effects of currents. We used to love doing it all the time with our Olson 30 La Gamelle. Thus the importance of sounding a horn when leaving a marina.

NO RULE 34(g)

I suggest Latitude learn the difference between the American (only) Navigation Center (of Excellence) of the United States Department of Homeland Security rules, which only apply in the United States, and the International COLREGS.

I say again, the COLREGS 1972, which is the International code, does not have a Rule 34 (g). And it has not been superceded yet.

David S. Wheatley
Been at Sea Off and On since 1956

David — No, COLREGs doesn't have a 34(g). But the Inland Water Rules does, and it reads as follows: "When a power-driven vessel is leaving a dock or berth, she shall sound one prolonged blast."

At almost every bay and harbor along the California coast there is a dividing line between where COLREGS apply and where the Inland Rules apply. These bays and harbors are Mission Bay, Oceanside Harbor, Dana Point Harbor, Newport Beach, San Pedro-Anaheim Bay, Redondo Harbor, Marina del Rey, Port Hueneme, Channel Islands Harbor, Ventura Marina, Santa Barbara Harbor, San Luis Obispo Bay, Estero-Morro Bay, Monterey Harbor, Moss Landing Harbor, Santa Cruz Harbor, Pillar Point Harbor, San Francisco Harbor, Bodega and Tomales Bays, Albion River, Noyo River, Arcata-Humboldt Bay, and Crescent City.

We submit that almost every recreational boat in California lives on the Inland Rules side of the demarcation line, and thus the Inland Rules are in effect. So yes, you are supposed to sound your horn when leaving a berth.


I think the rule broken most often is that a boat's VHF radio isn't on with volume high enough so it can be heard on deck.
Carlos F. Valencia
Planet Earth

Carlos — We would agree that that rule is broken very frequently, but not quite as frequently as the one requiring that skippers sound a horn when leaving a berth.


When reading the Letters section of the February Latitude, I noticed an editor's response that stated Garmin InReach two-way satellite communication devices can be purchased for as low as $230.

Where can you get one for that price? I checked on Amazon, and, depending on the model, the price range was $400-$500. Nonetheless, it sounds like a great device to have on a boat.

Myron and Marina Eisenzimmer
Veterans of Eight Baja Ha-Has
Mykonos, Swan 44
San Anselmo

Myron and Marina — There are two models of the Garmin InReach: the InReach SE and the InReach Explorer. The only difference is that the SE doesn't have the navigation capability that the Explorer version does. While it would be nice to have the navigation capability built in, if you're like most cruisers, you probably have numerous GPSs and iPads with navigation capability already, so it probably isn't necessary.

When we checked on February 4, the SE version was selling on Amazon for $242, while the Explorer version was available for $314. In the big scheme of a cruising boat budget, $70 is chump change, so Latitude would recommend the Explorer. Naturally there are all kinds of accessories for both models that can kick up the price.

For the first time in the 24-year history of the Baja Ha-Ha, the Grand Poobah is going to require that every entry be equipped with one of the following: an operational SSB, an InReach, an Iridium Go! or a Spot Messenger. This is for the safety of the captain and crew on each boat, to prevent the Coast Guard from wasting their resources, and so the Grand Poobah can get more sleep.


We're writing for the Wanderer's guidance and opinions on bareboat chartering in the Eastern Caribbean.

We recently sold our Banshee 35 catamaran after a couple of years of not using her. We decided that we would rather charter once a year than dump money into a boat that we weren't using. I was talking to a friend of mine, well-known singlehanded sailor Peter Hogg, and he suggested I email you with some questions I had since you have done extensive sailing in the Caribbean.

First, a bit about our sailing experience. My wife and I started our cruise with our Valiant 32 Algeria on the 1999 Ha-Ha. After Cabo, we spent a while going down the Mexico coast, then Costa Rica and Panama. We transited the Canal, enjoyed the San Blas Islands, and ended up in Roatan to wait out the 1998 hurricane season.

We worked in Roatan for a few years, and ended up selling the Valiant to some friends down there. We moved back to the States in 2003. We bought the Banshee in Seattle that year and sailed her down to the Bay Area in May. We lived aboard for a year and daysailed until work got in the way of our sailing.

Our kids are now 16 and 17. While they have dinghy experience, they don't have any open-water experience. We want our first charter experience with them to be fun rather than overwhelming. We're unfamiliar with the Eastern Caribbean and are hoping you can give us some guidance as to December conditions and ease of cruising.

Everybody recommends the British Virgins, but we also hear that: 1) It's extremely crowded, 2) You mostly moor rather than use anchors, and 3) It's quick one-hour sails between destinations.

We've also been reading about St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We understand that they are a lot less crowded, which sounds good to us; you anchor more, which also sounds good to us; but that it's more open ocean sailing and thus might not be so good for the kids. As we said, we don't want them to be overwhelmed.

Any thoughts or opinions?

Pat and Laura Melendy
Formerly of Banshee 35 Crazy Horse
Formerly of Valiant 32 Algeria

Pat and Laura — If you're going to charter during the Christmas-New Year's school holiday, it's going to be as crowded as it ever gets no matter where you go. If, on the other hand, you can charter the week before or after the school holidays, it will be surprisingly quiet because it will be the 'low high-season'.

The other December issue is the 'Christmas Winds', which are created when the Azores/Bermuda High forms, usually between mid-December and mid-February. The normal winter trades in the Caribbean are of the 12-18 knot variety, except in the channels between the big islands where it can blow the dogs off chains. But when the Christmas Winds blow, you can add five or even 10 knots to the normal wind strength.

While Christmas Trades don't appear or last long every year, they sometimes blow day and night for weeks. Some experts, such as cruising-guide author Chris Doyle, claim that the Christmas Trades only blow in the Leewards, meaning north of Dominica, and not the Windwards, which are south of Dominica. That said, we once had 50 knots for a few hours one December on our way from Bequia to Union Island — both part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines — with our kid. "Should I be worried?" asked our six-year-old.

We've had boats in the Caribbean for nearly 30 winters, and know it can blow long and hard in December and January, with the associated seas you'd expect. This is why we now sail in the Caribbean from mid-February through May, when the conditions are generally less boisterous and often ideal. If you can do a charter with your kids during Spring Break as opposed to Christmas/New Year's, we would recommend it.

The British Virgins are the most popular place to charter because in many ways they are the ideal venue. There are lots of little islands to visit, some less than a mile apart, and you mostly sail in the flat waters of the Sir Francis Drake Channel. There is also great diving and lots of restaurants and support facilities. You're experienced cruisers, so if you're a little creative, you can find plenty of places to anchor, although they won't be the most convenient. Despite the negatives you cited, in our opinion the BVIs are your safest option.

If you're looking for fewer crowds and more anchoring, you might consider the so-called 'Spanish Virgins', made up of the sparsely populated islands of Culebra, Culebrita and Vieques just to the east of Puerto Rico. These are mostly protected waters with lots of great beaches. It's not crowded, but there isn't much in the way of restaurants and services. You can Google reports on chartering there, but be aware that not all charter companies permit their boats to go there.

If you want to charter 'Down Island', we recommend a one-way charter — southbound only! — from St. Lucia to Grenada. You'll be sailing off the wind and there are a variety of islands on the way, including nine inhabited ones that are part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. But the farther south you get, the more primitive things tend to be. Don't, for example, expect a gourmet meal or excellent food selection on St. Vincent or Union Island.

Antigua is another good charter option, and has flat water once you get up to the spectacular Green Island area or in the lee of the island. It's also home to historic English Harbor, lots of megayachts, and 365 beaches. If you go, don't miss the food, music and ganja up at Shirley Heights — which overlooks English and Falmouth Harbors — on Sunday nights.

If you can make your trip during Spring Break rather than Christmas, when conditions are likely to be more mellow, the St. Martin/St. Barth/Anguilla area is terrific, although there is a lot of open-water sailing involved.

As far as we're concerned, it's hard not to have a great time chartering in the Caribbean. Just make sure you don't bite off more than you can chew in terms of the distance you want to cover, and don't fight whatever weather conditions you find.


We love our Jeanneau 45.2. The only thing we'd add to our wish list about her is more waterline. Her large cockpit was a huge asset, as was her ability to make 150-180 miles a day. The single best modification I made prior to our cruise was replacing my golf cart batteries with lithium (LiFePo4) cells. My do-it-yourself bank of 400 amp-hours weighs 125 lbs., and works flawlessly! We almost never charged our batteries from our engine, using solar at anchor and the hydro-gen on passages for 99% of our 140 amp-hour-per-day demand. Believe me, lead is dead! Lithium is the future for cruising sailboats.

Essentials: A strong bimini, adequate solar panels, rain/fly hatch covers, new batteries, a Rogue Wave Wi-Fi extender antenna, a robust autopilot and spares, strong telescoping whisker poles, a spare outboard motor prop, extra fishing lures, an Iridium Go!, and the Joy of Cooking.

Nice to Have: Watermaker, super-efficient and fast-charging lithium batteries, and a hydro generator for power while making a passage.

Not Needed: Kayaks, SUPs, dinghy wheels, a wind generator, a diesel generator, windvane self-steering, and a machete.

Stuff We Added on the Way: A nylon screacher that furls and two terabyte hard drives.

Gerry Gilbert
Huzzah, Jeanneau 45.2
Gig Harbor, WA

Gerry — Cruisers certainly have different opinions. Probably the single most raved-about bit of gear has been windvanes. But you classify yours as 'Not Needed'. Interesting.


I want to thank my participation in the Baja Ha-Ha for getting me discounted slip fees at Grand Bay Marina in Barra Navidad, Paradise Marina in Nuevo Vallarta, El Cid in Mazatlan, and Costa Baja Marina in La Paz.

After several Ha-Ha's, I'm now looking forward to our Pacific Puddle Jump.

Paul Hofer
Scarlet Fever, Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 509
Wilmington, DE

Paul — De nada. As we've pointed out for years, Ha-Ha discounts can easily exceed the cost of entry. Registration for this fall's event will start in early May.


On the behalf of Fleet One, J/105 San Francisco, thanks to Latitude 38 for a well-written article on our much-loved J/105s. The history, personal quotes and comments made for one of the most interesting profiles I've read.

For even more information for 38 readers, visit our Facebook page at, which now includes the J/105s on the cover.

Donald Wieneke
Fleet Captain, J/105 Fleet One

Donald — We're glad you liked it.


I read the February 3 'Lectronic Latitude piece about Tom Siebel's having launched Svea, the largest J Class yacht ever built.

Although I'm still young, I'm planning on becoming fabulously wealthy, and would like to know how much money I'll need to set aside to have a similar yacht built.
Do J Class yachts have interiors the likes of which my future girlfriends will find to their liking?

Fredrick 'The Great' Fuchel
Silicon Valley

Frederick — In today's dollars you'll want to set aside something like $12-$15 million. If you plan on racing her, you'll need to set aside 15%-20% of that each year for sails, crew, transportation, champagne and such. You'll probably also want a shadow yacht to carry all the equipment.

J Class Association rules require that all J Class yachts have sumptuous interiors. The way we heard the story, Siebel's Svea started out as what was intended to be a J Class yacht with stripped-out interior, but with suitable weight added to make it sail like the other Js. The Association was aghast, and said the boat would never qualify for membership. And thus the scene was set for the hull's original owner to sell to Siebel.


A few years ago I heard that Scripps Institute of Oceanography (SIO) was under contract to send one of their vessels out to investigate plastic in the Pacific Gyre. This struck me as ironic, given that I had firsthand knowledge that at least one SIO vessel had thrown many thousands of full-sized plastic garbage bags overboard in every ocean it had worked in. It was company policy to do so in order to avoid having to pay for garbage removal services in ports.

I am now 55 years old, and have been chewing on this information ever since I was a young man of 28 in late 1989-1990. It was then I worked as Ordinary Seaman aboard the R.V. Melville for SIO for a six-month stint. I met the ship in Punta Arenas, Chile, and sailed to Cape Town, South Africa, then back across the Atlantic to Montevideo, Uruguay, up to Barbados, then up through the Caribbean to Miami.

Ordinary Seaman is the lowest rung on a ship, and generally my duties consisted of cleaning one area of the ship every morning before heading out to chip rust, prime and repaint those areas. Also among my duties was to keep the hundreds of full-sized plastic bags of trash and garbage sequestered in an area on deck. These were full-size bags that were produced by a ship with approximately 50 people during each 35- to 45-day leg of our voyages.

Among the trash were countless empty three-gallon jugs that had once contained the cooking oil that the cooks used, plus the thousands of pieces of plastic created by the 50 people onboard. This is not quite as much as we each probably use at home, but enough all told to add up to approximately 100 to 200 large plastic bags full during each leg of the voyage.

While I was on the Melville, every single one of these bags was tossed overboard on the last day of each of the three legs! If anyone says differently, a little research to find corroborating stories from others who have worked aboard the Scripps' vessels over the years would confirm my story. Throwing plastic overboard was done in plain sight of the entire crew, be they the ship's crew or the scientific crew.

Several crew told me that the Scripps policy was followed by every other ship at sea. Some of the ex-Navy crew said that the US Navy had the same policy. But as I have never been in the service, I'm not able to say if this is true or not. All I know for sure is that I was told that this policy had been followed by SIO for as long as anyone could remember, and that what they did was legal.

We were allowed one can of beer per person per day while at sea. The beer had a taste that was incredibly foul, even for Rainier. I poured one into a glass and saw that it was full of particles of corroding can liner.

It was Christmas, and without much to do I wandered about the ship, during which time I ran into the captain and a few of his cronies in the mess. I told him about the floaters in the beer. He replied that my claim was bullshit. I got them to pour one of the beers into a clear glass so that he could see for himself that I was right. He was surprised.

It turns out the ship had been in Seattle for a stint a few years before and had loaded up on cheap beer. The beer was kept in the belly of the ship through several seasons in the warm waters of the South Pacific and back and forth to the cold waters of San Diego. That had been the undoing of these 250 or so cases of beer.

The next day the captain ordered the deck crew, which included me, to throw every one of these hundreds of cases of beer overboard! When I protested that we at least needed to remove the plastic rings from the four six-packs in each case, I was told to shut up and keep throwing the cases overboard. This was in the Caribbean Sea two days out of Miami.

The captain and the bosun were to blame for this particularly asinine act. The bosun had the authority to let us remove the plastic rings from the six-packs before we threw them overboard. I felt sick watching those hundreds of six-packs floating away, knowing that they would end up on every shore, and maybe around the necks of sea birds and mammals.

Some will fault me for having not refused these orders, but at just 28 I still had enough respect for authority to do as I was told. Today I would tell them what to do with their orders.

I have wanted to tell this story in a public forum for all these years, and should have done so many years ago. For this I am at fault.

I have no idea how many years SIO had been following this policy before my six months with them, or for how many years after 1990 they continued this policy. I only know what they did then, and have ever since been disgusted by the actions taken by them. It is possible that throwing all trash overboard, plastic included, was legal at the time, as I was told it was. I don't know if it's still legal today.

I would be interested to get a response from the folks at Scripps Institute to have them attempt to explain these actions. I would love to know how long they kept this practice up, and if and when they stopped it. It would be interesting to know if the thousands of ships plying the world's oceans are still at it, too.

One would expect a bit more from Scripps Institute of Oceanography. I hope they have risen above this by now. Have they?

William Harrison
Santa Rosa

William — A fascinating and disturbing report. As shameful as the plastic-disposal policy of Scripps might have been, there was a time when it wasn't illegal. That changed when MARPOL Annex V came into effect in December 1988, instituting a complete ban on the dumping of plastic into the oceans.

While not exonerating the culprits, it's important to remember the context of the times. For example, when the Wanderer first started publishing Latitude in the late 1970s, and for years afterwards, it was common practice for sailors to smash beer bottles and toss them overboard.


The Grand Poobah's saying that his catamaran Profligate is like his "own little country" a few months back reminded me of Frank Zappa's list of 'minimum requirements' for being a country. I couldn't remember them at the time, but I finally managed to find them.

According to Zappa, you can't be a real country unless you have "a beer and an airline." He went on to say that "it helps if you have some kind of football team or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer."

Kurt Langford
Ha-Ha Crew on Profligate
Farm Country, Tennessee

Kurt — The fact that the Wanderer was never a big Frank Zappa fan has no effect on the reality that Zappa was a little off the mark. After all, look at some of the insignificant places that are considered to be countries: St. Helena with 3,900 people; the Falkland Islands with 3,000 people; and Tokelau with only 1,276 souls. None of them has its own beer, airline, football team or nuclear weapons, but they are accepted as among the 233 legitimate countries in the world.

But it turns out that Profligate has more area than does at least one of the 233 countries. That's because the Holy See, despite having 801 residents, has no land at all. We're not going to get into the niceties of why the Holy See is an independent sovereign entity and not part of Vatican City, but they are separate, and the Holy See occupies a smaller area — nothing at all — than does Profligate.

The Wanderer is thus sticking with his claim that Profligate is her own country, number 168 between Portugal and Puerto Rico. On second thought, given the state of the 'family of nations', Profligate will remain unaligned with everyone else. A sovereign of the universe, Profligate's foreign and immigration policies are being refined as we speak.


I started my sailing career in the early 1960s. I sailed with George Olson aboard Grendel in the 1965 and 1966 Midget Ocean Racing Association (MORA) races out of San Francisco. Grendel was berthed in Sausalito.

After the races and before starting home for Santa Cruz, I would occasionally stop at a restaurant in Sausalito called Latitude 38. No, I'm not dreaming.
It had a kind of low-key Chart House atmosphere. It was located on the inland side of Bridgeway a block or so south of the main part of town. You could probably verify that with some real old timers.

Don Snyder
Pacific High, SOB 30 (for Snyder, Olson & Bassano)
PPYC, that's Pleasure Point YC
SCYC, that's Santa Cruz YC
BGYC, Bitchin' Guys YC

Don — The Wanderer can verify that there was indeed a restaurant called Latitude 38 in Sausalito in the 1960s. He knows, because that's where he got the name for the magazine. He's so glad you wrote in about it, because over the years he'd forgotten where the name had come from.

For readers who may not be familiar with Northern California sailing history, George Olson, Don Snyder and Dennis Bassano were part of the delivery crew that brought the Lee 67 Merlin back to California after she crushed the Transpac elapsed-time record in 1977. During the delivery back, the trio came up with the basic design of what would become the Olson 30. George Olson would eventually build nearly 300 of them, although only the first had teak decks.

As some Latitude readers know, the Wanderer has owned and loved three Olson 30s over the years, and sailed them in Northern California, the Sea of Cortez, and from Martinique to St. Barth in the Caribbean. In fact, as this issue hits the streets, the Wanderer should be adding to his total of 15 singlehanded circumnavigations of St. Barth with La Gamelle.


When I cruised the South Pacific with my family for five years aboard our Marquesas 56 Rhapsodie, we had a number of bad experiences with crew who had hidden alcohol problems.

Excessive drinking can be a serious problem for many reasons. People who drink can be a terrible risk to themselves, as they are prone to tripping, falling overboard, and otherwise hurting themselves.

Irresponsible drinkers can also be a danger to the crew. They let lines go at the wrong time, fall asleep on watch, and do other dangerous stuff.

Irresponsible drinkers can also be dangerous to the boat, causing accidents and broken gear. They can also be harmful to the reputation of the boat if they make an ass out of themselves in public or with officials.

I'm no prude and enjoy a cocktail on a semi-regular basis. But trust me, having a crew with an alcohol problem can be an absolute nightmare for the owner of a boat. Sometimes it's impossible to get such people off the boat promptly, such as if you're in the middle of the ocean or on some remote island in the Pacific. And it can cost you a lot of money if, as often is the case, you have to repatriate them.

Now that I'm on the verge of buying another catamaran for cruising, I will soon be ramping up my screening process for potential crew with alcohol problems — unfortunately you can't rely on potential crew to tell the truth about their drinking habits. And for some people a 'light drinker' means a glass of wine a night, while for others it's someone who limits him- or herself to a bottle of hard liquor a night.

Based on my experience, some people outright lie about their consumption. Such as the guy who says he doesn't drink, but is found to have half-empty vodka bottles stashed in various cubbyholes.

And don't think that drinking problems are limited to men. We had a very educated woman crew from Australia who would get smashed all the time. One night she fell into the water trying to get into the dinghy. When we woke her in the morning, she was still wearing her sopping wet clothes and had made a terrible mess out of the bunk.

So how do you screen? After my bad experiences, I would ask potential crew to meet me in a bar. In advance, I would tell the bartender to serve me water even though I ordered vodka. When the potential crew showed up, I would ask them if they wanted a drink. If they did, I'd buy it. And when they finished it, I'd casually ask them if they wanted another. And another after they finished the second one. And on and on. A true alcoholic cannot turn down another drink.

This is not going to eliminate those who have lesser alcohol problems, but I've found that it eliminated some crew I was very glad not to be stuck with.
If anybody has any other strategies on how to screen for crew with alcohol problems, I'd like to hear about them.

Caren Edwards
ex-Rhapsodie, Marquesas 56
Silicon Valley

Readers — Although the Wanderer has lost much of his interest in consuming alcohol, he has no problem with responsible drinking. But he knows that drinking can be a serious problem on boats, and not just with alcoholics. Sometimes crew who are on a long-awaited break from work really want to tie one on for a night or two when joining a boat or chartering.

And some cruisers fall prey to the tropics' being so conducive to drinking. It's easy to become used to having a sundowner every night. And if some people don't watch it, it can turn into a second and a third and a fourth each night.
Potential crew also need to remember that boatowners can have drinking problems, too. You don't want to be stuck crossing an ocean with an alcohol-impaired skipper.

The Wanderer has no problem terminating crew who are found to have drinking problems. We once had a crewmember — and a good one, too — who got drunk and played the drunken fool in front of our kids when they were young. Despite the fact that we were in Costa Rica at the time, he was gone in the morning. One strike and he was out.


The January 23 'Lectronic Latitude included an item titled 'The Wanderer Battles Boat Lust'. It was about the Wanderer's struggle not to buy yet another boat, specifically Bill Anderson's Hughes 42 catamaran Feet.

In the bicycling world, the Velominati, who are the 'Keepers of the Cog', address the issue of how many bikes to own. It's part of their rules on The Path to La Vie Velominatus. The formula for the number of bikes to own is n+1. The minimum number is supposed to be three.

N is thought of as the number of bicycles you need, although that's open to interpretation, so the formula is the number of bikes you need, plus one more.
The n+1 rule can have a downside, as it can easily turn into s-1, where S is the number of bikes you owned that pissed of your partner, inspiring her to leave.

Mark and Patti Miller
Patricia A, Westsail 28
Southern California

Readers — We found the Path to La Vie Velominatus rules to be humorous and often applicable to sailboat racing — or sailing in general. For example:

Rule 5 — Harden The F--k Up!

Rule 6 — Free your mind and your legs will follow. Your mind is your worst enemy.

Rule 9 ­— If you are riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period. Fair-weather riding is a luxury reserved for Sunday afternoons and wide boulevards.

Rule 10 — It never gets easier. Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

Rule 11 ­— Family does not come first, the bike does. While being interviewed after the 1984 Amstel Gold Race, Sean Kelly noticed his wife leaning against his Citroën AX. He interrupted the interview to tell her to get off the paintwork. "In your life," she shrugged, "the car comes first, then the bike, then me." Instinctively, he snapped back, "You got the order wrong. The bike comes first."

Rule 22 — Cycling caps are for cycling. They can be worn under helmets, but never when not riding, no matter how hip you think they make you look.

Rule 25 — The bikes on top of your car should be worth more than the car. If you're putting your Huffy on your Rolls, you're in trouble.

Rule 33 — Shave your guns. If for some reason your legs are to be left hairy, make sure you can dish out plenty of hurt to shaved riders, or be considered a hippie douche on your way to a Critical Mass.

Rule 42 — A bike race shall never be preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run. One should only swim in order to prevent drowning, and one should only run if being chased. And even then, one should only run fast enough to prevent capture.

Rule 43 — Don't be a jackass. But if you absolutely must be a jackass, be a funny jackass.

Rule 51 — Livestrong wristbands are cockrings for your arms. While we hate cancer, isn't it better to just donate some money and not have to advertise the fact for the next five years? You may as well get "tryhard wanker" tattooed on your forehead.

Rule 55 — Earn your turns. If you are riding down a mountain, you must first have ridden up the mountain.

Rule 57 — No stickers. Nobody gives a shit what causes you support, what war you're against, what gear you buy, or what year you rode RAGBRAI.

Rule 62 — You shall not ride with earphones. Cycling is about getting outside and into the elements. You don't need to be listening to Queen or Slayer in order to experience that. Immerse yourself in the rhythm and pain, not in whatever '80s hair band you call "music."

Rule 65 — Maintain and respect your machine. Bicycles must adhere to the Principle of Silence, and as such must be meticulously maintained.

Rule 68 — Rides are to be measured by the quality of their distance, not the distance alone.

Rule 77 — Respect the earth; don't litter. Cycling is not an excuse to litter.

Rule 81 — Don't talk it up. Rides and crashes may only be discussed and recounted in detail when the rider required external assistance in recovery or recuperation.


While the Wanderer is correct that once Value Added Tax (VAT) has been paid on a canal boat or other vessel in the European Union, the tax will never be due again. But buyers should be aware that some boats built after 1986 were built as 'residences', and therefore didn't owe VAT. If you buy one of these, get proof that the tax was paid originally, or you might someday be billed for it.

We have purchased two canal boats in Europe. The first one was registered in the United Kingdom, and we kept the registration — even though legally we should have been either a resident or citizen of the United Kingdom. We bought our second boat almost nine years ago in Belgium. It had also been built and registered in the United Kingdom, but we decided to be proper by getting US registration. It was easy to do with the help of a documentation agent in San Diego. It was all done by mail and email.

We see many boats that are registered in one country, say the Netherlands, but are flying the flag of the owner's country. This might not be illegal, but it certainly isn't proper. We proudly fly our American flag and have had no problems. In fact, flying the flag has opened many doors for us, giving us opportunities to meet people whom we would have otherwise missed.

A boat built in the European Union, with VAT paid when applicable, is still an EU boat. She can stay in the EU no matter what flag is flown. However, it is true that by having a US-flagged boat, we might someday get stopped and have to prove our boat's origin. But in 10 years on the canals for half of the year, no one has ever asked.

We definitely agree with the Wanderer's statement that the Netherlands is a good place to buy a boat — as long as the type of boat you are looking for can be found there.

No matter which registration you have, you will need the ICC (International Certificate of Competency) — unless your boat is too big, in which case you need another license. In France, an ICC is good for operating boats up to 19.99 meters — except in Germany, where the limit is 14.99. Our current barge is 14.94 meters.

There are numerous people offering weekend courses where you can get an ICC license. Our ICC licenses are with the Royal Yachting Association in England, obtained in France, using our US address.

When a US tourist gets off the plane in the EU, he/she gets three months. The law says that after three months, he/she must be gone for three months before returning. Despite this law, we have spent six months each year on the canals in France. Like the Wanderer, we just overstayed, and nobody seemed to care. But lately, with the refugee thing happening, officials are looking a lot closer. We solved the problem by getting a six-month visa from the French Consulate. It's a nuisance, but we have been told that if you get caught staying too long, you must leave the EU immediately, and your passport will be stamped "DEPORTED."

We love our time in the EU, exploring rural villages and big cities, eating great cheeses, drinking fine wines, and meeting interesting people. We spent 26 years cruising the oceans of the world and seeing wonderful places under sail. We are still cruising on our barge, but it is the kind we can do forever as we get older, as there are no night watches, no waves and no anchor drills.

Paul and Susan Mitchell
Bateau Gulliver
Somewhere in France

Readers — The Mitchells originally left San Diego aboard their big wood schooner White Cloud, which rather suddenly sank beneath them in, if we remember correctly, the Coral Sea. They subsequently bought a 40-ft aluminum sailboat in Australia and continued ocean cruising for years.

A lot of people assume that flying an American flag in foreign countries will subject them to problems, if not abuse. Like the Mitchells, we have found this not to be the case. People may not like American foreign policy, but they like Americans — in part because we are the world's most generous tippers.

We always thought that only Mexican law and procedures were not set in stone. Having spent two summers in Europe, we've come to the conclusion that such uncertainty is universal.

For instance, we're not sure how the Mitchells managed to get their ICC, as we were repeatedly told Americans weren't eligible to take the test because the United States was not one of the 42 countries that signed onto the applicable treaty. We were only able to get our certificates because we became 'residents' — ha, ha, ha, we spent one night there — of Ireland. We've never been asked for our certificates. Another San Diego barge owner told us he's been doing the canals of Europe for 20 years and still doesn't have his ICC. Even though they cost hundreds of dollars, we'd recommend getting one.

The same unpredictability applies to the 90-day limit on EU stays by Americans. We've inadvertently overstayed three months in both of the last two years, but nobody at exit immigration in France bothered to go through our passport and make the complicated calculations necessary to figure how long we'd been in the EU. When we nonetheless asked what the penalty would be for overstaying, the immigration officer said 200 euros — about $200. But it could be much worse, as the law indeed calls for penalties up to deportation.

Dealing with foreign governments — it's all part of the adventure.


We've got some recommendations, based on our last couple of seasons in the South Pacific, for those who are going to do a Puddle Jump. We are a Canadian family, with children 13, 11 and 3, who are cruising a 1982 Stevens 47 monohull, which has proven to be a good platform for our adventure.

We started our cruise from Anacortes, Washington, sailed down the West Coast, and joined the 2012 Baja Ha-Ha. After two seasons of working on the boat, seeing a bit of Mexico, and having a baby, we did the Puddle Jump in 2014. Benjamin, the junior crewmember, was born in Puerto Vallarta just four months before we took off for the Marquesas.

We had a nice 21-day passage to the Marquesas, motoring just seven hours. We did well fishing and didn't have too many boat issues. We spent our full three months in French Polynesia, then took a bit of a flyer off the beaten path to Penrhyn. From there we rejoined the normal migration, with stops at Suwarrow, Niue, Tongatapu, and Minerva Reef, enroute to New Zealand. We spent our next season in Fiji, followed by a return to New Zealand. Our last South Pacific season was also spent in Fiji, including some yard time at Vuda Point. We are presently in the Marshall Islands, having visited Tuvalu and Kiribati on the way north.

The points below are some of our observations that may be of interest to those about to Jump this year or sometime in the future.

Boat Maintenance. Be aware that your boat will suffer more wear and tear than in many seasons of just putting around the United States or Mexico, even if you never see any extreme weather. We rarely saw less than a six-foot swell, which means the boat, and especially the rigging and steering, were constantly being loaded and unloaded. Chafe has also been an ever-present threat, so make sure everything runs freely.

There will be lots of downwind sailing, so make sure you have figured out how to fly the spinnaker and/or go wing-on-wing safely — and without chafe. We have two asymmetric spinnakers that we use fairly regularly, but we also use wing-on-wing when it's windy and we're sailing deep downwind.

Given all the downwind sailing, a robust and easy-to-adjust preventer system is also critical. Ours has two Spectra lines along the boom that can be connected with soft shackles to the Dacron double-braid line that runs along the deck. But remember, the leg from the ITCZ to the Marquesas may be a close reach — ours was — so it will not all be easy downwind sailing.

Yes, bring lots of spare parts, but also remember to bring spare materials to allow you to jury-rig solutions. We have found Dyneema line, spare blocks, low-friction rings, rescue tape, sail-repair supplies, epoxy putty, JB Weld, and epoxy/fiberglass materials to be helpful. For even when you have the correct replacement part, you may decide it's safer or more practical to do a temporary repair until you get to a port.

For example, if you have a small leak in your exhaust elbow, you may choose to use high temp JB Weld as an interim measure, and replace the elbow when you get somewhere safe with a machine shop. Spare hoses and fittings are also useful.

Consumables, such as oil for at least two complete changes, and a big stock of fuel and oil fittings, are good insurance against water in the oil and fuel-quality issues.

Autopilots and watermakers seem to be high on the Failure List during a cruiser's first season in the South Pacific. Have a robust autopilot system with spares, and know how to troubleshoot and fix it. We have two autopilot systems and a spare drive unit. We found that although our autopilot drive's brochure stated that it was acceptable for a boat of our displacement, and although we sail conservatively, the drive was working too hard too often. It suffered an early and inconvenient death between Tonga and New Zealand. A new and bigger drive from a company that specializes in autopilot drives and steering systems is going in to replace the Simrad drive unit.

Power Generation. Marinas are few and far between in the South Pacific, so a reliable power-generation system is required. With the warm water and hot air temperatures, your fridge and freezer power consumption will rise. We have 600 watts of solar and a wind generator, plus two big alternators on the Perkins diesel to charge the house bank. Running the engine solely to charge the batteries is painful, as it is hard on the engine and heats up the boat. As a power-generation backup, we have a dependable Honda 2000 portable generator that we bought at the last minute in Mexico. We are glad we did! If you have and rely on a diesel generator, which we don't, have a backup plan if it fails.

Navigation. Be aware of the shortcomings vector charts have with scaling. This was one of the main causes of the Team Vestas Wind grounding in the Volvo Ocean Race — and, we are sure, of some of the cruiser grounding incidents as well. We always check the route and, while underway, the area ahead of COG at a large enough scale to see details. We zoom in on our chartplotter until the soundings appear, to be sure that we are at a sufficiently detailed level of zoom.

Many surveys have a different datum than the electronic charts, resulting in your plotted position and the underlying data being different. This offset varies from place to place, so you must be vigilant. In addition, surveys were incomplete in many areas, and many of the reefs are not shown. In others, the chart data shows many features, giving a sense that it was adequately surveyed. In reality, it may just be a computerized analysis of satellite imagery that is fairly nonsensical. This is often true in the Tuamotus.

Satellite imagery is a very helpful tool if you want to stray from the well-surveyed areas, meaning if you want to go anywhere but the big ports such Suva or Papeete. The three main tools cruisers use here are SAS Planet and Open CPN/GEKAP on PCs, and Ovitel Map on iPads. We mostly use SAS Planet, as it works well with a variety of data sources — we use Google, Nokia and Bing imagery — and works well with our navigation software. We have also used Ovital maps in Fiji when Internet was easy and affordable.

OpenCPN/GEKAP is also very popular, but we have not used it ourselves.
Mark I Eyeball Navigation. Nothing replaces keeping a good watch and choosing the right time for higher-risk areas such as passes and some lagoon traverses. Even with satellite imagery and previous tracks, we are hesitant to go through some areas without good visibility. Remember that most accidents are not due to one single failure or incident, but rather a cascading series of incidents resulting in the eventual accident. Good practices give you a buffer against individual failures becoming major accidents.

Anchoring/Lagoon Traversing. The lagoons in many destinations are of significant size, resulting in fairly long traverses. We mentioned using satellite imagery previously, but the only real sensor to trust is the Mark I Eyeball. During these long traverses we have liked having Bluetooth wireless headsets so the person on the bow can communicate with the person on the helm without shouting. Sometimes it is difficult to find just the right spot to anchor between the coral bommies, in which case headsets are again helpful.

While it is possible to anchor in reasonably shallow water in many places, having lots of rode gives you more flexibility. We carry 300 feet of chain, plus two spare combo chain and rope rodes, plus two spare anchors, and have been happy to have them. Having significant rode gives you some flexibility when your chain wraps around a bommie. When this happens at 0300, you can pay out more chain, reducing the snatch loads on your tackle, as a short-term solution. In the morning you will want to unwrap your chain to reduce wear and tear to your chain, not to mention damage to the coral.

As with the rest of the boat systems, the anchor tackle — from windlass to anchor — will see hard work. So make sure everything is in good shape and that you have the necessary spares. Servicing your windlass regularly means that it is easy to take apart to replace worn or broken parts.

A good snubber system is essential. We have two: a primary one about 15 feet long and a shorter backup one to help with heavier loads.

Comms/Weather. For our time in Mexico and our first two seasons in the South Pacific, we only used the SSB/Pactor modem for weather and long-range communications. This worked fine, but took some effort to keep it all working well. For the last nine months we have been using the Iridium Go!, and we love it. As a bit of a weather geek, I like the ability to have a fairly unlimited ability to download weather data for as wide an area and as often as I like. With homeschooling and family to stay in touch with, the easier and faster communication of the Iridium Go! is much appreciated.

I have read a bit about the Garmin InReach, and some of our friends have them. They seem like interesting devices, but they are not in the same league as the SSB or Go!.

One reader wrote in to Latitude to rave about their InReach because people on shore could send them weather info or they could get spot forecasts directly. For longer-term cruising, I think being able to look at your own weather over a broader area is more sustainable.

In preparing for the Puddle Jump, we noticed that most people, ourselves included, focused almost exclusively on the long passage to French Polynesia. Remember there are a lot of sea miles from the Marquesas to New Zealand and/or Australia, with more varied and challenging conditions than one is likely to see on the long passage to French Polynesia. Do not let down your guard when you arrive the Marquesas. I am sure that most of the boat losses occur after the 'big jump'.

Most of the anchorages are in big lagoons, so keep an eye on the weather for the winds to shift around from their normal southeast tradewind direction to the northwest as a trough passes through or nearby. The long fetch can make the normally good anchorages untenable.

Overall, while there is a continuing requirement to stay vigilant, remember to have fun!

Max, Elizabeth, Victoria, Johnathan and Benjamin Shaw
Fluenta, Stevens 47
Presently at Aur Atoll, Marshall Islands


Too bad there was a pile-up in the Three Bridge Fiasco at the Yerba Buena Coast Guard Station, particularly since it's a documented restricted area.
I understand that it's difficult to score the race due to the fact that so many boats are finishing at the same time, and from different directions. However, since over $20,000 was taken in in entry fees, I, as a competitor, would expect there to be a staff with the appropriate level of resources, both on the water, and on the race deck. There was no expense for mark sets, and I only heard what sounded like a boat on the water at Red Rock patrolling that restricted area.

I think there was far more concern about retaining revenues instead of properly staffing the event to increase the probability of a successful event — which would include timely results. It sounds as though there was one volunteer — the person from Lightspeed — working his butt off to resolve the inconsistencies. Not good. Lightspeed got thrown under the bus in the after-race work.

As I write this on Tuesday night, there still aren't results from Saturday's race.

Rick Wallace
Bosporus II, Columbia 36
San Francisco Bay

Rick — David Herrigel, commodore of the SSS, responds: "The preliminary results were posted within 24 hours of your letter. In historical context this is within 24 hours of a normal turnaround for this race, which does present unique challenges, particularly on years such as this when there are large numbers of boats finishing in close proximity with darkness falling. This year's results turnaround was particularly challenged, not by an under-resourced race committee, but by the urgent response requested by the USCG for an account of why several of our competitors came in contact with a government vessel.

"It is not the RC's duty to patrol or umpire restricted areas. We count on participants to have a Corinthian spirit, and to retire promptly if in violation of rules. Having said that, we have discussed and will likely bring back a set mark or marks around YBI.

"There are several lessons coming out of this year's event that will be addressed. A few of them may require spending a few more dollars, including the set marks mentioned and possibly the addition of a chase boat, particularly as a reverse angle on the finish area."



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