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May 2017

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My wife and I are about five years away from a cruising retirement and want to get some practice in. We have a month off this summer and want to cruise Southern California to work on our skills. Is there a best month? Can you suggest some of the better places to go?

Al and Bev White
Agate, Cal 39 MkII

Al and Bev — The Wanderer would advise against June and July, which are known for coastal gloom, light winds and cooler temperatures. Mid-August through mid-October have historically been the best times of year. Better weather — meaning less fog and warmer air and water — and less crowded anchorages and marinas are among the attractions. Furthermore, later in the year means there is a greater chance of light winds when it comes time for the unenviable bash back up the Central Coast to San Francisco Bay.

While you can have cruising fun all over Southern California, we think the best area to practice cruising is the Northern Channel Islands, meaning San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz and Anacapa. In a stroke of good luck, these are also the closest to San Francisco Bay.

After a two-year closure to search for unexploded ordnance, rugged and windswept San Miguel Island, which is owned by the Department of Defense, opened again last May. New rules mean you have to get a permit to visit the islands, which you can do at the Nidever Canyon trailhead. Unless accompanied by a ranger, visitors may only explore Cuyler Harbor Beach, Nidever Canyon, the Cabrillo Monument, and the Lester Ranch site.

We don't know how many rangers there are on the eight-mile by four-mile island these days, but the lack of them may limit your ability to explore. There's an 18-mile hike on the island, but you have to be accompanied, and you won't be allowed off the trail. The island is the part-time home to 100,000 seals and sea lions, who rest, breed and molt there.

For beginning cruisers, San Miguel is not a top choice except in settled weather. After all, there are no stores or services, help is a long way away, and 30-knot winds are not uncommon. It's cold, too.

If you want the closest good stop to Northern California, we recommend Government Point, just around the corner from Point Conception on the mainland. With almost no development, it's hilly coastal California almost as it was before Europeans arrived. Beautiful! Good surf at times, too.

The next island east of San Miguel is Santa Rosa, which is about 85 square miles. While it's big, Brian Fagan's Channel Islands Cruising Guide only recommends two anchorages: Bechers Bay and Johnson's Lee. Similar to San Miguel, Santa Rosa Island is frequently subject to strong winds and big swells.
The real gem of the Northern Channel Islands — and California cruising — is Santa Cruz Island, which at nearly 100 square miles is the largest of them all. Because it's 25 miles long, the weather at the western end of the island, closest to Point Conception, tends to be windier, rougher and cooler than the more arid eastern end. There are something like 15 popular anchorages, although some are only good for settled weather.

The western two thirds of the island is managed by the Nature Conservancy, which requires a permit to go ashore and has a number of limitations. The eastern third of the island is managed by the National Park Service. You can land without a permit, but dogs are not allowed ashore under any circumstances.

If there were Internet access at the Santa Cruz Island and the Wanderer had a good wetsuit, he'd be delighted to spend an uninterrupted month there. The island has an interesting history, and there is excellent exploring of the shore and caves by dinghy or kayak. The hiking is excellent, and National Geographic publishes a guide to hikes on Santa Cruz and all the other Channel Islands. Most of the Santa Cruz Island hikes are fairly strenuous, the easiest being the 4.5-mile Scorpion Canyon Loop. The surfing and diving can be excellent at Santa Cruz Island.

At 2,500 feet, Devil's Peak on Santa Cruz Island is the tallest of the Northern Channel Islands. Even at lower elevations you can get fabulous views of some of the other islands, the coast, whales, shipping in the Santa Barbara Channel, and much more. In case of emergency, there are usually other boats — often commercial fishing boats — in the vicinity.

Another great feature of Santa Cruz Island is that it's only about a 25-mile reach from Santa Barbara, one of the most attractive cities on the California coast. If you stay at the island during the week and come to resupply at Santa Barbara on Friday or Saturday, you can often get a slip. It's then cheap to Uber to great restaurants. If you want a quick break from the ocean, rent a car and visit Cold Springs Tavern, the San Ynez wine district, Red Rock, and Painted Caves.

Anacapa, the easternmost of the Northern Channel Islands, is only 1.5 square miles, and is only about 10 miles from Channel Islands Harbor. It has a couple of good anchorages — and lots of flies — but can't compare with Santa Cruz Island.

If you only have a month, we'd spend almost all the time at Santa Cruz Island. And we wouldn't venture farther south than Anacapa Island. When it comes time to go north again, don't fight the weather. If the forecast is 15 to 25 knots for the next two weeks, leave the boat in Santa Barbara, Ventura or Oxnard, and don't head north until you get a decent window.


Readers were asked about their favorite articles in the first 40 years of Latitude. I would love to see Latitude rerun 50 Steps to Learning How to Fly a Spinnaker. At least I think that was the title. Included were great photos of various permutations of failures while flying a chute. I was unable to find it in the deep archives.

Michael Britt
Footloose, Catana 47
Roy, NM

Michael — Judging by the title, that feature was from Latitude's early days when the Wanderer was young and was a real smartass. As there was no Google in the late 1970s to automatically archive our articles, someone would have to go through the archives by hand to find that article. Stacked on top of each other, the archives are about 100 feet tall. Call the office if you want to make an ascent.


Latitude deserves special recognition for its coverage of single- and doublehanded sailing events. Starting with the initial Singlehanded TransPac Race to Hanalei Bay, the staff and writers have covered the events and provided a modicum of recognition — and in most cases 100% recognition — of those involved.

In addition, Latitude's coverage of the Three Bridge Fiasco has been instrumental in the success of that event. The work of the race committee and volunteers has been the second, equally important part of the race's success, as an inspired idea can die from poor execution as well as poor coverage.
In addition to the shorthanded racing, which I was actively involved with, I also liked Latitude's wonderful coverage of Bay Area sailing personalities. Two that come to mind are Tom Blackaller and Carl Schumacher. I also liked the coverage of drug smuggler mastermind Bruce Perlowin, whose cohorts managed to smuggle in hundreds of millions of dollars of the stuff right next to the Richmond YC.

Even though I never replaced the sailboat I lost in La Paz after Hurricane Juliet — and a great Baja Ha-Ha — with anything weighing more than 200 pounds, I still feel a kinship with the sailing community that began in 1977 when I moved to California. That kinship continues today.

Thanks for the fun and memories. And yes, I am more than happy to accept any credit for starting the Three Bridge Fiasco Race.

Ants Uiga

Ants — When the Wanderer founded Latitude in 1977, one of the things we recognized was that sailing was beginning to appeal to all kinds of adventurous souls, not like before when almost everyone came out of a yacht club background.

The singlehanded sailing phenomenon was a very important part of this, and Latitude went all in covering it. The first singlehanded event was the gale-struck Singlehanded Farallones Race of 1977. We couldn't have been more involved, as Bill Lee only agreed to compete with his then-brand-new Lee 67 Merlin if somebody would come aboard to help drop the sails at the finish line, which was then in the Oakland Estuary.

The Wanderer was banging on a keyboard at the Montclarion offices in Oakland — where we did early production of Latitude — when we got the call to get our butt down to the Estuary. Lee was finishing and we had been designated to help drop his sails. We made it in time to help Bill, who had sailed a very fast race in strong winds with an unproven boat.

We followed this up with extensive coverage of all singlehanded and doublehanded events, including the first Singlehanded TransPac to Kauai in 1978. Old-timers will remember that the finish line was actually up in the old Club Med on the bluff, not on the water. We remember all of it as though it were yesterday. Along with the launching of Merlin the year before, it was really a time when sailing was blossoming to a new and broader audience.

All sports need new events to keep them vital. Your coming up with the Three Bridge Fiasco years ago, which now draws more entrants than almost any race in the States, is a perfect example. Well done.


The particularly memorable Latitude article for me was the one about the Cabo Storm of 1982. That god-awful night is indelibly burned into my memory, as I was aboard the Islander Freeport 41 ketch Country Gentleman with the owner and my then-wife. We had arrived late in the afternoon from San Diego.

The previous night had been static. Thunderbolts lit the clouds up high, and we just knew something was brewing. But when we reached Cabo the sea and surface were calm. We set bow and stern anchors off the beach near the entrance to what was then the small marina, getting help from legendary French singlehander Bernard Moitessier of Joshua. Given his sailing achievements, I felt honored to be next to him.

We were well outside the surf line and well set with plenty of chain out. I felt secure, so we all tried to get some rest. As the sun set and light grew dim, the swell started picking up. There still wasn't much wind. The swell continued to build as the hours passed, and there was nervous chatter on the VHF.

Then the wind started to fill in at 25-30 knots, and the waves reached six feet on what had become a lee shore. Then it started raining. Wind-whipped raindrops the size of nickels hurt my face. The VHF was now humming with panicked calls. To my right, I saw the first boat hit the beach beam-to. It was Moitessier and Joshua! My heart sank. How could such a thing happen to such a great sailor? I knew then that things were not going to get any better for a while.

Things deteriorated quickly. The waves were now getting up to 12 feet — crashing over the bow — and the wind was 50+ knots and building. My wife was so scared that she went into shock and needed medical attention. I did the best I could to make her comfortable and secured her below deck. I then powered the boat into each breaking wave to ease the tension on the bowsprit and chain, and keep the bow pointing into the breakers. It was then that I looked at the owner — a great guy, but with no experience — and said there was no way we could use the anchor windlass to retrieve the main anchor and get away. We had already cast off the stern anchor.

There was only one way to get free. We got the hacksaw out, and when there was somewhat of a lull between sets, he was to go forward and use it to cut the chain as fast as he could. I would keep the boat pointing out to sea.

It all happened so fast. There was a lull, he quickly worked his way forward, took about five to ten strokes and — PING! the chain snapped. We were free. But we were screwed, as a big breaking wave engulfed us. I was at full power to break through the surf, and almost went sideways. The owner didn't have to work his way back to the cockpit because a wave pushed him back there 'head-over-teakettle'.

It was a dreadful night of chaos. Locals drove their cars to the beach and left their headlights on. We were able to watch the shadows of boats as they were pounded to bits on the beach.

By first light the wind and sea had subsided. The water was covered with oil, and the floating debris made it resemble a battlefield. Destroyed boats and pieces of them littered the beach. Incredibly, no one was killed! Thankful that we had survived this storm, I broke down and cried — totally exhausted.

The rest of the story is chronicled in Latitude 38's report.

Capt. Peter Whitney
Alive and Well in the Caribbean

Peter — We arrived in Cabo a day later by plane, and our Freya 39 Contrary to Ordinary a day after that. Medano Beach indeed looked like a war zone, with about 30 boats on the shore. Remarkably, a few were pulled back off the sand and continued on to complete circumnavigations.

We were there when the great Moitessier sold his legendary Joshua to a Swiss fellow named Rado. We even helped bail out some of the sand that had almost completely filled the interior. Rado got the Joshua sailing again, and she was a great hit at subsequent Sea of Cortez Sailing Weeks.

We later saw far greater hurricane destruction in the Caribbean, but never as much concentrated destruction as in Cabo. The big problem was that some windward boat would break free and head to shore, dislodging other boats on the way in. Cabo is wide open to an east wind. When in doubt, get out. Around the corner at Cabo Falso would do the trick.


Thank you for printing my letter about problems with T-Mobile in the April issue. I am getting emails about similar problems with T-Mobile from people on the Southbound Net, so it was very timely.

First, let me say that it turns out that T-Mobile actually is, in my humble opinion, still the best deal for cruisers. After extensive head spinning and reading of fine print put out by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and regulators, this is what I distilled:

All telecom companies will cancel your "international and unlimited" line if you roam too much. T-Mobile does it after three billing cycles on the non-carrier network, aka 'roaming'. AT&T will cancel you after two billing cycles. Sprint will cancel you after just one billing cycle. Telecoms can legally cancel your contract if your international usage is greater than the usage of 97% of their clients at a given time.

Here is how we — my wife Helen Chien and our son Isaiah — solved our problem without losing my old number:

1) Since I had to be in the States for taxes, I transferred my line/number due for cancellation to Google Voice for $25. (I really wanted to keep this number for what are probably obvious reasons.) I then instructed Google Voice to forward calls to our Skype number. Be aware that Google Voice will not forward calls to Mexican numbers.

2) My having done this, now all calls are being forwarded to the Skype app on my phone. It works like a charm! By the way, if I wanted, I could also get written transcripts of all my calls and messages from Google Voice emailed to me.

3) Taking advantage of a March promotion, we added a new line to our T-Mobile account, and I have that SIM with me in Mexico in case I need it. For as I said, T-Mobile is still the best option out there.

4) We activated a Telcel number in Mexico, and use it as the main source of Internet access down here. Telcel data costs about 125 pesos — about $7 US — per gigabyte, which is what the three of us use in a typical day.

GYMSIM is the only truly global provider — callback service with British number — but it's too expensive.

In summary, I kept the old phone number, got four ways to call the States, and hopefully will never have to deal with the "fine print" madness again. Above all, we learned that there is no "unlimited international" plan, no matter how hard the telecoms try to imply that there is.

What does all this have to do with sailing? Nothing. But we can't escape the fact that in the modern world our lives depend on communication like never before.
P.S. A little clarification. We did the 2003 and 2005 Baja Ha-Ha's with our Dreadnought 32. We did the 2012 Ha-Ha with, and are still on, our Cape Vickers 34, which is a South African-built Bruce Roberts design #347.

Marek Nowicki,
Raireva, Cape Vickers 34


I read about the Nowicki family's problems with T-Mobile. I have a workaround.
I have had T-Mobile for almost three years without a problem. Until last fall, I shared an account with my girlfriend, and we were cruising out of the country for six to eight months a year. Like a lot of people, we got T-Mobile because of their supposedly unlimited international data feature. While only 2G in most places, it has worked well for email, texting, and even $0.02/minute Skype calls. The Skype calls don't always work.

Last fall I had to get a separate T-Mobile account. It turned out that my daughter and her husband were thinking of switching from Verizon at the same time. This was when T-Mobile had the four unlimited lines for $140 a month promotion. Three lines weren't any less expensive, so we signed up on one account and now have an unused number. But it's still less expensive than competitors.

Despite all the roaming I've done over the last several years, I still haven't gotten my 'Dear Bill' letter from T-Mobile. I'm thinking maybe that's because only one of the four lines 'roams'. I'm wondering if their restriction is per number or per account. If the former, that might offer a solution, and make your kids smile at the same time.

Or, since you probably spent a lot of your money on them over the years, they might make you a gift of cell service. I'm going to ask that my last name not be used, as I suspect there are some loyal T-Mobile employees among Latitude's readership.

Just Bill
In the Caribbean

Just Bill — The Wanderer has had the same experience you have: lots of roaming over the last three years — supposedly way over their three-billing-cycle limit — but still haven't been cut off. Meanwhile, Doña de Mallorca, with the same program, has gotten her 'Dear Doña' letter from T-Mobile. The only difference is that the Wanderer has four lines for $140 and the other three lines never travel. T-Mobile says this shouldn't make any difference, but we don't trust a word those guys say.


Latitude's March article on Alan Olson and the Educational Tall Ship's crew of dedicated volunteers working on the Matthew Turner was inspiring to all who have ever wondered about what — and whom — it takes to build a vessel like that. I salute and congratulate Alan and his crew, as their achievement is awesome!

May I point out that in addition to ETS, there are several ways to see, build, and even sail wooden boats.

Spaulding Marine Center is active on all decks, offering classes for adults and children (who can build their own skateboard or paddle), speakers and seminars, with some exciting new projects in the works. The Friends of Freda program encourages approved sailors to sail Freda, an 1885 gaff-rigged sloop beautifully restored by Bob Darr at Arques School of Traditional Boatbuilding.

The Spaulding Center is actively soliciting donations to upgrade Freda's sails. I've taken several classes — made a toolbox, paddle and canoe — and enjoyed speakers in the rustic workshop at Spaulding. I highly recommend dropping by to feel like an authentic wooden-boat aficionado. John Bachman and Bill Edinger are very welcoming.

Coincidentally, the Master Mariners Benevolent Association (MMBA) celebrates their 150th year this year. Their mission is "to foster participation in yachting and the preservation of wooden boats." Individual works of wooden art that command admiration will be on display at the 24th annual Wooden Boat Show at the Corinthian Yacht Club on Sunday, June 25. It's the one time of year you can see and board a collection of wooden boats from all over the Bay Area. It's also a great event for children of all ages.

Wooden boatbuilding is not a lost art largely because of a little paradise in Maine where I go every summer. It's the WoodenBoat School in tiny Brooklin, ME, which is the hub of the universe for building and sailing wooden boats. You can sail in a 12.5-ft Herreshoff, go gunkholing around Penobscot Bay, and dine with a boatwright, bronzecaster and sea captain at the same table. In one week you can build a dory, dinghy, canoe, kayak or other small boat to call 'yours'. WoodenBoat School is magical indeed, but you'll come away with practical know-how. Check it out at

What are you waiting for, the Matthew Turner to come to you? Wood is… good! No matter where you do it!

Shelly Willard
Corinthian YC

Shelly — This is really Alan Olson's moment to bask in the reflection of the Matthew Turner. About a year before the 34th America's Cup on San Francisco Bay, the Wanderer had dinner with Alan at his and his wife Angie's home, at which time Alan unveiled his plans for getting the Matthew Turner built.

"There will be all kinds of rich guys in the area for the Cup," he told the Wanderer, "what do you think of my idea?"

"I'm sorry to say I honestly don't think there's any chance you'll be able to make this happen," we told Alan. Fortunately, he ignored our 'expertise' and, along with all the volunteers, made something really great happen. We salute Alan, the big players, and all the little players, too.

We're also glad that you mentioned the Spaulding Center, the Wooden Boat Show at CYC and the WoodenBoat School. All are terrific.


I recently turned 79, which is kinda scary to me. I find it hard to believe that I'm not just going to be middle-aged soon.

My health has been good, other than being diagnosed with wet macular degeneration in one eye. This requires monthly eye injections from a decent ophthalmologist ­— you don't want just some random dude sticking a needle in your eye. But it's been cramping our cruising style. With luck the injection intervals will be increased.

Ann, now 77, has had more issues. She's had spinal surgery, hernia surgery, and various knee operations culminating in bilateral replacement and then revision of the replacement, followed by a sepsis episode that nearly killed her. Poor dear. But what courage she's shown. Causes me to stifle any thought of complaining!

So we struggle onward. Life in Tassie [Tasmania] is good. At least in the summer. It's incredibly beautiful, the locals are friendly and interesting, and there is a great balance of solitude and company. But it gets too bloody cold for us around the equinox. So we'll be heading north to the tropics once more, which will require our 30th crossing of Bass Strait.

We will eventually, maybe not so distantly, have to stop this liveaboard life and move ashore. The thought fills me with dread. After 30 years of life aboard, dirt dwelling has little appeal. But I'm trying to come to grips with reality.

Jim and Ann Cate
Insatiable II, Sayer 46
Port Cygnet, Tasmania

Readers — Jim and Ann departed Northern California decades ago aboard their original Insatiable, and have lived aboard in the Southern Hemisphere ever since.

The Wanderer has lived aboard most of the year for more than a decade in various places in the world. It can be challenging at times, but the thought of moving back onto land seems so boring and detached from nature.


Yanmar diesels, of which I have two on our Lagoon 42 catamaran La Mischief, have an excellent reputation. The same can't be said for the Yanmar saildrives. Many owners of boats with such transmissions report they have failed, often without warning.

It took a long time for Yanmar to acknowledge the problem, which they eventually did by calling for the 'lapping' of the cone to be done every 400 or so hours as a 'maintenance item'. This is an unusually complicated 'maintenance item', as the engine has to be separated from the transmission.

The first time an owner does this process, it might take four hours — assuming the owner has a vise or tool for the spline nut. Once an owner has done the entire lapping several times, it can usually be completed in about two hours.
There are any number of sites on the Internet that show how to do it.

I recently received a copy of a letter from David and Mary Margaret Leu, the owners of a Dana Point-based Lagoon 440 with Yanmar saildrives, who are in the midst of a "10- to 15-year circumnavigation." They forwarded a letter to me in which it's claimed that someone has come up with a kit to permanently solve the problem.

They learned about it from a guy named Brett Chapman, who got it from a fellow named Gerry Groves, who has a Lagoon 440 with saildrives in Portugal.

"The 'Rework Kit' was developed after supposedly identifying the cause of the slipping cone clutch on Yanmar saildrives. In short, it's claimed there is too much up/down play on the center shaft. This play, combined with the limited travel of the selector, causes the selector to retract before the cones have made firm contact, allowing slipping.

"The Rework Kit replaces the Yanmar thrust washers on the vertical shaft with thrust bearings — similar to those on Volvo saildrives. The thrust bearings allow a much closer set-up tolerance, and have reduced wear.

"The selector washer/shims are also replaced with an adjustable set screw and locknut, allowing accurate setting up, and easy adjustment without removing/disassembly of the selector assembly.

"Part of the Rework Kit is a vent assembly, allowing the saildrive to 'breathe', thus reducing the possibility of oil seal failure at both the engine input and propeller shafts.

"The Rework Kit consists of: a new larger-diameter top nut; a new larger-diameter lower collar; two thrust bearings; three o-rings; lapping paste; Loctite; a selector set screw and locknut; a vent barb fitting; 1.2m vent rubber tubing; and a vent end filter.

"Also included are rework instructions based on the Yanmar cone-clutch lapping procedure, which covers the removal, rework, setting up, cone lapping, installation, oil level/specification and adjustment of the cone clutch, and selector assembly.

"We also have a spline holding tool available, which makes removal of the top nut a lot easier during removal and installation. The price for the Rework Kit is $480, the spline holding tool is $46, and shipping would be about $100 by FedEx."

The kits are sold by a Gideon at . He and his kits have gotten some good reviews on various cruising forums.

If anybody has installed this kit, we'd like to know how it's worked.

Steve Tull and DeAnne Trigg
La Mischief, Lagoon 42
Australia/Southern California/Caribbean

Readers — In the 20 years we've owned the 63-ft catamaran Profligate, we've had our Yanmar saildrives fail four or five times. Sometimes it was a gradual failure, giving some warning. Other times they failed suddenly. With two engines, it's usually not catastrophic losing one engine, but with engines far off centerline on a cat, it can be difficult or impossible to maneuver inside a marina or in tight quarters.

As far as we're concerned, the fact that Yanmar, after many years of pretending there wasn't a problem, finally called for cone-clutch lapping every 400 hours as a maintenance item, is admitting a design failure. And a pretty serious one, too.
Originally, it was assumed that boats had to be hauled to solve the problem. But a number of years ago a procedure was developed where that wasn't the case. You can find instructions all over the Internet, including those put up by Yanmar.

We don't know of anybody who has attempted the permanent solution with the above-mentioned Rework Kit. There seem to be mixed opinions about it on the Internet, with some calling it 'snake oil'. If it was proven to work, we'd install it right away, but it would take a lot of proof. Until then, if you have a Yanmar saildrive, you'd better know how to fix the problem. After you've done it once or twice, it shouldn't take you more than 90 minutes.


A couple of months ago the Wanderer wrote about trying to find a starter motor for one of his Leopard 45 catamaran's Yanmar diesels on a Friday afternoon in St. Barth. And being successful in finding one, and at only 170 euros.

It made me think that I should remind everyone with a boat or boat type — particularly catamarans — that has been or is being used in charter programs, that there are more of these boats in the British Virgins than anywhere else. So if you're scrambling for parts, one of the best places to look is the Caribbean.

Time is money in the charter business, so all kinds of spares and replacement parts are commonly stocked in chandleries and other businesses. And the vendors are knowledgeable about them.

One summer I needed a new Lewmar traveler car, a pricey item, for my Leopard 45 catamaran Jet Stream here in the British Virgins. I couldn't find one in stock anywhere in the United States, so I called Lewmar in the United Kingdom. They told me they could get me one in six weeks. Great.

Just for the heck of it, I called Wickham's Cay Rigging here on Tortola to ask if they had the part. They had it in stock! I had it on my boat the next day. Things like that have happened several times.

By the way, the aftermarket starters for Yanmar are available here in Tortola, too. The last time I checked, they were selling for about $120, about a third less than in St. Barth.

Tim Schaff
Jet Stream, Leopard 45
Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Tim — Good point. Other islands with an excellent number of parts and replacements parts — for things like engines, stoves, winches, windlasses, ports, etc — are St. Martin and Le Marin in Martinique. One island where you want to not have to buy anything because of high duty is Antigua. The guy who watches our cat in the off-season says they charge $400/gallon for bottom paint.

Sometimes prices in the Caribbean make no sense at all. Our friend Mauricio on the Lagoon 47 Nuage needed a new starter motor for his Volvo diesel. They didn't stock them on St. Barth, and when he finally found one on Guadeloupe it cost him nearly $800. That's more than four times as much as the starter motor we found for our Yanmar on expensive St. Barth.It works for food, too. At Marche U on St. Barth they have rotisserie chickens for just $8. Elsewhere in the store they have uncooked "plein air" natural chickens for $50!


Our boat was part of the Baja Ha-Ha Class of 2015. Now that we've shipped our boat to Port Everglades, Florida, via Dockwise, we'd like to share a bit of information. If you ship your boat out of Mexico, officials will insist that you cancel your boat's TIP, no matter where you are shipping her. And they will send you an official notice of cancelation. I don't know if they also require the cancelation for boats being trucked out of Mexico.

By the way, Mexican officials also conducted a full inspection of our boat before she was allowed to be loaded onto the ship. It was the only inspection we had of our boat in Mexico.

Hartley Gardner and Lesley Johnstone
Atsa, Tayana 48DS
Phoenix, AZ

Hartley and Lesley — Thanks for the information. Although we wonder if that's a consistent policy throughout all Mexican ports. In any event, no big deal, as TIPs for Mexico are — don't tell anyone — ridiculously inexpensive and easy to get.

You are not the first couple to report having your boat inspected upon departure rather than upon arrival. It makes no sense to us, but gringos and Mexicans often view things from different points of view.


My wife and I have had a sailboat at Marina Seca near San Carlos, Mexico, for a number of years. We had previously cruised Mexico for two short years. We then put the boat in dry storage and went back to work in the States.

We have always tried to adhere to all of the many changing rules and regulations pertaining to having a boat in Mexico. Our first port of entry was Ensenada, where we acquired a TIP (Temporary Import Permit) for our boat that was good for 10 years.

Fast forward to present time. We knew our TIP was expiring soon, so we researched Latitude 38 letters and articles for info and found the Banjercito website. Since we still had an active TIP, we looked for a 'renew a TIP button' on the website, but there was none.

We then emailed Marina San Carlos for assistance. Silvia L. Ramos Vazquez responded by saying that our only course of action would be to let the existing TIP expire, and as soon as possible after that, apply for a new one online. In their experience this was the only way to 'renew' a TIP, and had worked in the past.

We waited for our TIP to expire and applied online for a new one. After a few days we received a puzzling email from the Banjercito. My wife is pretty fluent in Spanish, but couldn't understand the email. We forwarded the email to Silvia. Silvia took the time to go to the Banjercito to ask what the problem was. She called us afterwords to let us know there had been a change in how the Banjercito handles renewals. Since our old TIP was now expired, we could not renew it, nor could we get a new one.

Being the rock star she is, Silvia hired a lawyer on our behalf to untangle the mess. The lawyer was able to cancel our old TIP and acquire a new one for us. Thank you Silvia and Marina San Carlos Seca.

In summary, until the Banjercito website gets a 'renew option', there is only one way for boats with expiring TIPs to renew. Bring your unexpired TIP — more than one month prior to expiration — to a Banjercito in Mexico or to a limited number of embassies in the United States, and renew. If, as in our case, the nearest Banjercito or embassy is thousands of miles away, you may be able to hire someone from your marina to renew for you. Do not let your TIP expire.

John and Bridget Wilson
Sailsoon, Sabre 34
San Carlos, Mexico


I liked the April issue piece on Michael Johnson of the schooner Gitana. Johnson was featured in my book Westsail the World because of his wrong-way voyage around Cape Horn with his Westsail 32 Aissa in 1990. What follows is the footnote to that story.

Johnson not only made the voyage from the East Coast of the United States around Cape Horn against the wind and current, he did it without engine propulsion — the prop shaft was disconnected and sealed — or electronic navigation aids. He sailed from Rio de Janeiro anchorage to Easter Island anchorage, a distance of 6,730 miles, in 84 days. He then continued on to Tahiti and New Zealand, during which time he was rolled.

In 1990, the Ocean Cruising Club's Barton Cup was awarded to Johnson for a "most meritorious voyage." While precise records had not been kept, he was thought to have taken the smallest engineless vessel around the Horn, east to west, nonstop, under sail.

Michael continued his circumnavigation, rounding all five southernmost capes east to west. He did this over an extended period of time, not returning to the East Coast of the United States until seven years and seven months after he'd started.

Johnson was awarded the Bluewater Medal for 2016 from the Cruising Club of America for long circumnavigation and for his recent transit of the Northwest Passage.

I'm proud to say that I was at least partially responsible for both his boats. I was Production Manager at Westsail when his Westsail 32 was built, and I designed and built his 44-ft schooner in my custom boatbuilding yard in 1979.

Bud Taplin
Westsail Parts Co., Worldcruiser Yacht Co.
Newport Beach


In the April 10 'Lectronic Latitude, the Wanderer addressed the issue of which was now the largest privately owned sailboat in the world, Andrey Melnichenko's recently launched 465-ft A, or Oceanco's 347-ft DynaRig Black Pearl. The Wanderer argued that A should be disqualified on two grounds. First, that the builders describe her as being "sail assisted" rather than a sailboat, and because she's so ugly.

In my opinion, a boat's ability to move effectively under her own sail area should be an important factor. As such, ships that employ kites to assist in fuel conservation should not be considered sailboats. And when it comes to privately owned vessels, motoryachts such as Grand Banks that have a mast, boom and steadying sail are not sailboats either.

As such, I agree that Black Pearl is the largest privately owned sailboat in the world.

Jeffry Matzdorff
Planet Earth


I don't know whether A can really sail or not, but at best she should be classified as a motorsailer. The massive amount of freeboard, along with those things that sort of look like masts, relegate her to fair-weather conditions. I am no naval architect or ship's captain, but I think her design would make her a handful, or even dangerous, in Force 10 winds and above. One wonders if she even has a keel, or is she simply a massive motoryacht with some masts designed in to confuse the issue?

I have reached the conclusion that A is clearly in a class of her own, and therefore is not a true sailing vessel. Therefore she does not compete for largest privately owned sailing yacht with the likes of Black Pearl, Maltese Falcon, and Eos. I'll leave it to you to coin a term to describe her classification.

Stephen Costanzo
St. Petersburg, FL

Stephen — Hideous is the first word that comes to mind.


For me, there is a simple criterion that determines if a yacht is eligible to enter the world's largest privately-owned sailing yacht competition. It's whether I would spend more than a day on the thing if somebody gave her to me for free.
A fails this basic test. In the powerboat world, so would Venus, the slab-sided thing that Steve Jobs fathered and his widow is now sporting around the Caribbean. While only 328 feet, Denny Washington's Attessa IV, in Puerto Vallarta recently, isn't a vessel that I would kick out of bed.

Richard Elder
Jackson, WY

Richard — Oddly enough, we think that Melnichecho's first boat, the Philippe Starck-designed 390-ft motoryacht A, was the coolest and most brilliantly innovative motoryacht ever. Which is why his new 'thing' is such a disappointment.


I think you are debating which is the longest vessel, not which is the largest. I seem to remember that the Queen Elizabeth II was allowed to retain her title as the 'world's largest ocean liner' even though newer ships were longer. This was because her displacement was greater. It seemed like a sensible rule. Which of these behemoths, A or Black Pearl, has the greater displacement?

Art Watson
East Coast Lurker and Big Fan

Art — A is much longer and displaces much more.


A slightly smaller-scale digression on the question of which is the largest privately owned sailing yacht in the world:

When I first saw the Swan 112 Song of the Sea, and compared it to the Swan 82RS Opus, it became obvious that money does not equal good taste. Mondavi had it with Opus. The boat was understated, elegant and tastefully done. The owners of Song were garish, and did not have it. The master head and shower on that boat belonged in a Nevada brothel. So bad taste doesn't have to start at 300 feet.

Maltese Falcon was walking the line with the interior decorating, but that was Perkins. At least from outside, Falcon was a stunner and the damn thing could really go uphill.

Melnichenko's 'sailboat' A would be best served by open sea valves and deep water. That goddamn thing is an eyesore, and his designer should hide his name from Putin.

Nick Salvador
No Strings Attached, Baltic 37

Nick — We're not familiar with Nevada brothels or the master head and shower in Song of the Sea, but based on the rest of the yacht, we think she's quite lovely. That said, we agree that A is hideous.

EDUCATION ON THE WATER, run by Jody Watt, is a new addition to our design and construction business. It is exciting to be attracting new and young blood to our Sail4Science Education & Environmental programs. The public, the schools and the corporations have all enjoyed the Bay and ocean aboard the Derek M. Baylis. Latitude 38 has been very supportive of these programs and, as always, kept the sailing community up to date on the fun and the adventures. Many thanks.

Dave, Jody and Tom
Wylie Charters


I've always wondered why Latitude hasn't provided more — any? — coverage of people who row, or as Chris Bertish recently did, paddle, across the Atlantic or Pacific. These are incredible achievements.

Chris Ross
Palo Alto

Chris — We've gone over this before, but there are a number of reasons we give little if any coverage to those voyages. Primarily, it's because Latitude is a sailing magazine, not a rowing or paddling magazine.

The other thing is that while we recognize these crossings as being remarkable, we don't think they are worthy of the "near impossible" and other superlative accolades that everybody else seems eager to pile onto them.

Take Bertish's supposedly 'paddling' his custom SUP across the Atlantic — Morocco to Antigua — earlier this year. It might be heresy, but the Wanderer questions how much of Bertish's progress can be attributed to paddling. He covered the 4.050-mile distance in 93 days, an average of just 1.8 miles an hour. This was with a custom SUP that was more than 20 feet long.

Let's compare Bertish's speed with the progress Steve Callahan made on much the same route with his liferaft after his boat sank in 1982. Callahan covered 1,800 miles to Antigua in 76 days, an average of about 1 knot. Mind you, a liferaft is designed to stay in one place. In any event, based on Callahan's experience, more than half of Bertish's speed can be attributed to drifting.

And how much can be attributed to being blown by the wind? With 15 knots of wind and no sail up, our 45,000-lb Profligate moves to leeward at nearly two knots. If Bertish stands up, his body alone makes for significant sail area. We'd love to know how fast his SUP moves downwind in a typical tradewind breeze with him doing no paddling at all. Or with him standing and holding out a big sheet. As such, we don't think Bertish's accomplishment is notable for speed.
Nor is his crossing notable for having been done in a particularly small vessel.

In 1968 Hugo Vihlen sailed from Casablanca, Africa, to Miami in the six-foot April Fool, which was less than one third as long as Bertish's SUP. In 1993, Tom McNally sailed the 5.5-ft Vera Hugh from Portugal to Puerto Rico in 134 days. If there were PHRF ratings, McNally would have crushed Bertish on corrected time. And in 1993, the previously mentioned Vihlen sailed the 5-ft 4-in Father's Day across the Atlantic.

The truth is lots of people have made it across the Altantic in floating objects shorter and less appropriate for downwind speed than Bertish's 20-ft-plus custom SUP. We're talking about inflatable dinghies, inflatable kayaks, beach cats, sailboards, and mooring balls. One guy even claimed to have swum across the Atlantic, although, once again, we think he mainly drifted across in the little boat he slept on at night.

We're not going to question Bertish's bravery, courage, skill or any of that, we just want to put what he's done in context. And when viewed in context, it's impressive, but not that impressive. If he wants to really impress us, he'll have to paddle from Antigua to Morocco, something that for obvious reasons he's never going to attempt.


Regarding your article 'Petaluma River Basin Silted In' that appeared in the April 14 'Lectronic Latitude, we just returned from a trip up to Petaluma on our Island Packet 370. We successfully navigated the river and entered the turning basin on a high tide through the D Street bridge without any issues. The currents were as published and we made over 6 knots most of the way. We side-tied to the empty dock and never touched bottom through a 0.4 low tide during our three-day stay. There is significant silting and boats drawing more than 6 feet will have a tough time, but we had a lovely time, enjoying the yacht club and downtown. Boaters, particularly those with a shoal draft or shallow draft like our Island Packet, can still enjoy Petaluma and all that it has to offer.

We planned our departure on a +2.4 tide and navigated around a little hump just off the end of the dock, but otherwise had no issues leaving on an ebb tide through the river and back into San Pablo Bay. I thought the article was a little too "doom and gloom" and discouraged people from enjoying this area — which is still accessible to a number of boats like ours.

Erik and Brian Jones
Aventura, Island Packet 370

Readers — The Island Packet 370 has a "long keel" with a 4.7-ft draft. You can see a graphic they created of the shoaling during their cruise to Petaluma in the April 24 edition of 'Lectronic Latitude.



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