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June 2017

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I just caught up on the April issue of Latitude. I hate to be the guy, but on page 81 — part of the 40 years In Review feature — there is a picture supposedly from the 1988 Big Boat Series, supposedly of Windward Passage, with "dozens of Aussies serving as rail meat." I'm sorry to say, but that is not Windward Passage.

I'd been on Windward Passage during the old Clipper/Kenwood Cup era. That is most definitely not Passage. The photo is of a boat with twin helm stations and a centerline grinder station, neither of which Passage had.

Don't be fake news.

Stephen Balcomb
Moonshadow, Catalina 42
San Diego

Stephen — We hate to be the guys, but that photo is from the 1988 Big Boat Series, there were "dozens of Aussies serving as rail meat," and that really is Windward Passage. Well, Rod Muir's Windward Passage II, a Frers 80 he had built to replace the original Passage, the legendary Gurney 72, which he also owned and you'd been on in Hawaii.

You may remember that 1988 was the epic year of the Big Boat Series, with a large group of maxis over fresh from the Clipper Cup, including Jim Kilroy's new Holland 80 Kialoa IV, which had been dismasted in Hawaii. The Big Boat Series maxi winner, however, was Raul Gardini's Frers 80 Il Moro di Venezia, with Paul Cayard's local knowledge and Aussie Ian Murray calling tactics, carrying the day over the likes of Passage, Kialoa, Jake Wood's Mull 80 Sorcery, Huey Long's 80-ft Ondine V and others. There hadn't been a Big Boat Series like it before, and there hasn't been anything like it since.

Since we're talking about old-school maxis, let it be known that the S&S 79 Kialoa III, which was always Jim Kilroy's favorite, had seven firsts and one third in this May's Antigua Sailing Week. Just like old times! — rs


I want to alert Latitude readers to a recent scam by an outfit that is trying to sell you a renewal process for federally documented boats.

What this company — — does is send an email to boatowners timed to arrive just before their official snail mail renewal letter from the Coast Guard. And their website is designed to mimic the official government website. Only in very small print at the bottom of the page does it admit they are not affiliated with the US Coast Guard.

They charge you $75 to renew your document, something you can do yourself for $26 at the real Coast Guard website. It's actually easier to renew on the official website than use their service, so this is nothing but a scam.

Ray Durkee
Velera, Tartan 37

Ray — Thanks for the heads-up. It sounds to us like a case of intent to defraud. If that's true, we'd like to see the principals of the website have to refund everyone's money, and be given a year's 'vacation' at Club Fed. — rs


I've been reading with great interest the discussions about Lunasea masthead lights' apparently interfering with AIS systems. It puzzled me because a DC circuit such as powers the masthead lights cannot create EMI (electromagnetic interference). However, the little switching power supplies that are part of the LED package can indeed create EMI if they are not built to prevent spurious emissions.

A little research revealed that these emissions are particularly bad at the VHF frequencies used by AIS (~181 MHz). And they particularly interfere with digital FM signals such as used by AIS. Bingo!

The problem is not in the wires running up the mast, but in the LEDs at the masthead. Using higher-quality LEDs, such as those made by Philips or others, might solve the problem. In addition, moving from a masthead VHF antenna to a whip antenna mounted on the stern pulpit would also solve the problem — although the VHF and AIS range would be a bit diminished.

On a related note, I have for years noted interference (EMI) between my Raymarine electronic instruments and my onboard Ham radio. By nasty coincidence, the interference is only noticed on 14.300 MHz and 21.412 MHz — the precise frequencies of the two maritime-mobile Ham networks. Apparently my SeaTalk network wires are too close to my antenna tuner. I don't talk on the radio while I'm sailing, so it hasn't been a big issue. But have others noted this problem? Would an RF choke — ferrite bead — around the SeaTalk wires mitigate this problem? That's a little job. What specific choke? Or should I just reroute the SeaTalk wires, which is a big job?

Bill Rathbun (AI6MB)
Vector, C&C 38

Readers — During last year's Baja Ha-Ha, a number of entries noticed that they lost a lot of their AIS targets when they turned on their Lunasea masthead light or masthead light with a Lunasea LED bulb.

In mid-May we received the following letter from Allen Burley of Lunasea explaining how they see things. — rs


In last year's Baja Ha-Ha it was noted that the number of targets on some AIS units would be lost when one of our Lunasea tricolor masthead lights was turned on. We had our LED light tested in the TUV lab, and it was found to be within the FCC recommended limits.

Nonetheless, in addition to our original 12/24/36-volt light that is undergoing further testing, we have developed a 'linear' 12-volt-only version that uses a different type of power supply. The new version has no emissions, which has solved the problem the original version had with some brand AIS units. It's noteworthy that some brand AIS units used 12db splitters, which, rather than our lights, could have been the source of the problem.

The base problem is the AIS system's ability to find all the AIS's digital signals within the VHF bands when there are often other 12-volt systems on boats, in particular, masthead lights being very close to masthead VHF antennas.

That said, our new 12-volt-only version of the masthead light, which I mentioned has no emissions, has been tested by at least one boat that had problems with their AIS/Lunasea combo in the last Ha-Ha, and it was found to work perfectly.
It's important to note that AIS systems continue to evolve. The newer AIS systems use updated electronics that are tuned to amplify the AIS signals instead of using a wideband amplifier. These systems have less interference problems with other equipment, including LED lights.

But the bottom line is that Lunasea does have a proven 12-volt-only masthead light that we can guarantee has no interference with AIS units.

Allen Burley
Lunasea Lighting

Readers — About two weeks before we got Allen's letter, we got a copy of the following letter from Allison Lehman of the Point Richmond-based Sabre 426 Kingfisher. She and her husband Jerry Keefe had had problems with their AIS and Lunasea LED masthead light in the last Ha-Ha. Lunasea's Allen Burley sent them a beta version of their new 12-volt-only LED light. The following is a copy of the letter from Allison to Allen. — rs


The new 12-volt-only masthead light does the trick! We have been testing for three days now, and all has been well. Thank you, thank you, we feel much better going into the shipping lanes knowing we see and can be seen!

Latitude readers can test their masthead light/AIS unit as follows: Turn the AIS on without the masthead light on and wait 20 minutes. Record how many AIS targets come up. Then turn on the masthead light and wait 20 minutes to see how many targets you have then. With our original masthead lights, we would go from something like 30 targets to five targets. Obviously, it doesn't have to be nighttime to test your combination.

For what it's worth, we have a Raymarine-brand AIS.

Allison Lehman and Jerry Keefe
Kingfisher, Sabre 426
Point Richmond

Readers — So this is the way we at Latitude understand things to stand:
1) The new Lunasea 12-volt-only masthead light/Raymarine AIS combo on Kingfisher now works perfectly, whereas the original Lunasea 12/24/36-volt version did not work with the Raymarine AIS.

2) Lunasea's testing indicates that there isn't a problem with the Lunasea 12-volt version, and there wasn't with the original one, but perhaps with the 12db splitter on at least one brand AIS unit. At this time Burley declines to mention which AIS brand(s) might have that problem. In any event, they shouldn't be a problem with the new Lunasea light.

There has been some talk of Lunasea's offering to replace the original masthead lights with new ones using the different power-supply technology at below-their-cost-deal terms. At this point such talk is premature, pending further testing.

3) At this point it would be helpful if those who had or are having problems with their masthead LED/AIS combination would inform Latitude of what brand masthead light/bulb you have, and what brand AIS. (Send an email to We can forward that information to Lunasea.
Latitude considers AIS to be among the premier safety devices on a sailboat. Make sure yours is working perfectly. — rs


Thanks so much for the Wanderer's May 12 'Lectronic Latitude arguing that the America's Cup 'emperor has no clothes', and that the foiling cats are mud — or composite — ugly. Fast? Yes. Ugly and soulless. Absolutely!

Some years ago I had the great pleasure of doing the Northwest's annual Swiftsure Race — from Victoria, BC, out the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Swiftsure Bank at the entrance to the Pacific Ocean, and back — while working foredeck on Weatherly, the magnificent winner of the 1962 America's Cup. What a soulful boat she is!

Before the race, as we were rafted up in front of the Empress Hotel, with tens of thousands of spectators flocking to the harbor. I was asked to go to the top of Weatherly's mast to check for sharp edges on the rigging. I packed the bosun's chair pockets with rigging tape, a knife, some other tools — and two cans of cold beer. Once at the top — hoisted by grinders on two sets of coffee grinders, as even on Weatherly I wanted a backup halyard in case a splice or shackle gave way — I had them tie me off. I sat at the top of the mast, enjoyed my two beers, waved to the crowds, giving them a cheer with my beer, and then earned my keep by checking stuff on the way down.

The next day, riding the westerly back from Swiftsure Bank to Victoria, it was a blast to watch the other boats fight broaches as Weatherly stormed along under its spinnaker as steady as a flatcar racing down railroad tracks. In previous years I'd done Swiftsure on my 26-ft Thunderbird, so the difference was quite extreme.

The 12 Meters were gorgeous. The J Class boats majestic.

It was reassuring to hear that I'm not the only one who finds the current Formula 1 on-water contraptions ugly and, despite their speed, quite boring to watch. How did we ever devolve to these silly contraptions that are raced today?

Let's return to 12 Meters or J boats. The money is already there; we just need to bring back the beauty.

Grant Fjermedal
Seascape, Coronado 35
Seattle, WA

Grant — The way the Wanderer sees it, the 12s are too small and slow compared to other monohulls to be viable for what's supposed to be a pinnacle of sailing. The J Class boats would be an option, but if you've ever seen a 180-ft schooner under full sail side by side with a J Class boat, nobody pays any attention to the smaller J, which flies far fewer sails and has a smaller crew. The Wanderer wants the America's Cup to be between 180-ft gaff-rigged schooners such as Elena of London and Elenora.

The Wanderer's
May 12 'Lectronic on the subject of America's Cup boats prompted many letters on the subject, almost all of them in agreement. The text of that 'Lectronic article and a sample of the readers' responses follows. — rs

"By the time the 35th America's Cup Finals, June 24 to June 27, are concluded, the Wanderer predicts that the Cup will have been diminished even more. Not because of ridiculous legal wrangling that besmirched everything leading up to the fantastic Cup Finals in San Francisco, but because the 15-meter foiling cats, the 'brides' as it were, are going to be overshadowed by the 'bridesmaids'. Any wedding planner will tell you that's not a good thing.

"The Wanderer thinks Russell Coutts and company will come to rue the day they decided to invite the superyachts to their America's Cup party for a Superyacht Regatta June 13-15, and the J Class boats to have a regatta June 16-20.

"The J boats, two of which formerly raced in the America's Cup, are spectacular. The 15-meter foiling cats, on the other hand, will be tossed aside after this year's Cup is over.

"The superyacht event is between the end of the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals and the start of the America's Cup Finals, while the J Class Regatta is in the three days between the third and fourth races of the Cup Finals on June 18, and the fifth and sixth races on June 24.

"There are just six teams that will be vying for the America's Cup, five Challengers and the Defender from the Golden Gate YC, Oracle Team USA. They'll be sailing in just under 50-ft foiling catamarans capable of nearly 50 knots, an experience that almost no other sailors can relate to.

"The entry list isn't yet complete for the Superyacht Regatta, but so far there are 19 boats that have indicated they'll be racing. We suspect there may be many more, hopefully including the likes of the 218-ft Adix. Among the current entries are the 196-ft Perini Navi Perseus, which carries the largest spinnaker in the world; the 182-ft schooner Adela, which dates back to 1903; the 170-ft Royal Huisman schooner Meteor; the 158-ft Frers sloop Hyperion; the 144-ft R/P sloop Visione; and the 138-ft Frers ketch Rebecca. In addition, at least six J Class yachts, about 135-ft each, which will be later racing in their own regatta, are expected to compete.

"The problem is that the 'brides' are, by comparison, tiny techno machines that only nerds and engineers will find it easy to love. They don't have an iota of the style, soul or romance of the superyachts or the Js.

"We've seen almost all the superyachts and J Class yachts race numerous times in the St. Barth Bucket, and often from vantage points less than 150 feet away. They are so spectacular they take your breath away. Even more impressive, they also take your breath away when they're just tied up to the dock. They don't have the speed of the little America's Cup cats, but they've got the gravitas.

"By the time the 35th America's Cup is history, the Wanderer thinks that most people will have found the superyachts and J Class boats to be far more lovable and compelling than the tiny AC cats."


I couldn't agree with the Wanderer more. The AC foiling cats are water bugs replete with technology incomprehensible to average sailors. The J Class sloops are breathtaking and inspirational for every sailor and non-sailor.

The AC folks have insulated themselves in a sailing technology bubble that has lost the loyalty and interest of much of the sailing community. Holding the event at a small, lovely and hospitable island that is unreachable by most people, and making the racing into NASCAR speed runs expressly tuned to TV, has further distanced the event from sailors. They've lost their core audience without creating a new one.

Beau Vrolyk
Mayan, 74-ft Schooner
Santa Cruz


The Wanderer's assertion is spot-on. Five hundred, plus or minus, sailors in the world can directly relate to a foiling catamaran with a hard wing sail. To every other sailor, it is so far removed from their experience they might as well be watching airplane pylon racing.

NASCAR has a similar but less obvious problem. When NASCAR got away from the 'stock car' format, they left behind the 'run it on Sunday, drive it to work on Monday' marketing concept that captured the attention of so many fans. The fans could relate because they could own something similar to the cars being raced. The result of NASCAR's changing the formula is they've lost lots of fans in 10 years.

Sailors can own foiling boats, and I think they have their place. But the hard wing sail places the current crop of America's Cup boats completely out of most everyone's realm of possibility.

However, one of the main reasons people watch NASCAR races these days is to see the frequent crashes and the not-quite-as-frequent fights. If Russell Coutts can figure out how to bring crashes and fights to this year's America's Cup, he may have a winning combination.

Doug Deaver
Iolani, Outremer 45
Santa Barbara

Readers — Doug owns a high-performance Outremer 45 cruising cat. — rs


The Wanderer is right on the layline with his America's Cup prediction! Those superyachts are absolutely breathtaking and compellingly magnificent to watch. The classic lines of the J's are what everyone looks for in a sailboat, and the one-design battle to the finish will definitely be spectacular.

I couldn't care less about those ugly catamaran 'drones' on the water, but I will watch the J's and superyachts battle it out in breathless delight.

Planet Earth

Susi — The J Class yachts are not one design, but are built to Nathaniel Herreshoff's Universal Rating Rule. As a result, some J Class yachts are almost 20 feet longer than the shortest one, and Ranger displaces 20 more tons than all the others. — rs


The Wanderer couldn't be more right. Even though I'm an engineer by training, I have a hard time relating to the foiling cats and tris — as other than high-speed novelties of limited interest. Meaning science, not sport.

Even with the megayachts you are enveloped by nature and multidimensional processes. The foilers are like a drag race, with just speed, no subtlety. I'll stick with F1 racing for my techno speed fix, and sailing will be my poetry.

Don Keenan
Boulder, CO


I understand the Wanderer's point, but those old boats were around for a long time, and I'm not so sure they ever made the Cup popular — and don't compare to the thrill of watching super-fast cats. My Gemini cat was jam-packed with new-to-sailing crew when I went to watch the AC72s race on the Bay in the 34th America's Cup.

The classic monohulls are beautiful to behold, but they also bespeak almost nothing else but Old Money. The cats are obviously expensive, but they talk the language of innovation, which many more people, non-sailors included, can understand and appreciate. So I think having the superyacht and J Class yachts in Bermuda is a great idea, but I don't think it will return the Cup to the old clubbie culture.

Andy Jones

Andy — Thank goodness there is someone to disagree with the Wanderer's opinion. For what it's worth, the Wanderer loved the 34th America's Cup on San Francisco with the 72s, but it was a one-time fling because of the novelty, size and danger of those untried cats.

It was World War II that killed the J Class, as most of them were scrapped for their valuable steel and lead. After the war they were deemed too expensive, which is what brought the 12 Meters to the America's Cup.

While the Wanderer can't back it up with specific facts, he's of the opinion that almost all big boats, and America's Cup boats, are funded with New Money, not Old Money. — rs


Yep. Sack the cats and foils. I've hated them since day one. No grace, no soul.

Mike Scott
Planet Earth


I've lost all interest in the present-day versions of the America's Cup. I think the Wanderer is right.

Klaus Kutz
Sea Otter, Freedom 30


The Wanderer is right on. Who cares about those America's Cup cats? They are cool, but! And like the Wanderer, I own a catamaran!

Fred Paul
Planet Earth


I agree. The superyachts and J Class boats are beautiful to watch. With clouds of sail and lots of crew, anything could happen. Maybe the AC catamarans are super-cool to sail, but the races are so short that they aren't much fun to watch.

As crew on a Commodore Yachts vessel, I was front row for the 34th America's Cup on San Francisco Bay. It was amazing racing, but still.

I recall a sort of Superyacht Regatta on the Bay to go along with the America's Cup, but I could never find any information about which boats would participate and when they would race. Nothing! I happened to catch sight of one as I was driving across the Bay Bridge, but that was it.

Norm Allendorph
Yipe Yipe, Frers 40

Norm — The Wanderer agrees that the 34th America's Cup races on the Bay were shorter than he would have liked, but the 72-ft cats were so outrageous, so untried and untested, and the comeback so Cinderella-like, that the 34th Cup was magic.

As for the Superyacht Regatta that went with it, there was no publicity whatsoever. We at Latitude didn't even know about it. As it turns out, it was won by the 180-ft schooner Adela, which is driven and crewed by good friends of ours from the Caribbean. What a botched opportunity. — rs


We've had — thanks in a large part to Latitude, the Baja Ha-Ha and Ha-Ha participants — three great seasons cruising the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Thanks so very much from Scarlet Fever!

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

Readers — Registration for the Ha-Ha opened at noon on May 9. There were more than 50 paid entries in the first two hours. Sign up now! — rs


I don't know whom to ask, so I hope you can help answer my question. I have a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for my boat for Mexico that is due to expire in December this year. I've been in and out of Mexico a few times since I first got the TIP, most recently in July 2012. I'm not planning on taking my boat back to Mexico until next year's Baja Ha-Ha — I did my first in 2011. My question is, do I let the TIP expire and get another before I go to Mexico again, or do I have to turn this one in before expiration?

George Johnson
Planet Earth

George — Our understanding is that you are required to cancel your TIP rather than let it expire, even if your boat is no longer in Mexico. You cannot get a new TIP until the other one is canceled. Because so many owners hadn't canceled their TIPs, Mexico had several occasions where TIPs could be canceled at one of several of their consulates in the States. But that's over. For an expert opinion on what to do, we'd contact ship's agent Victor Berreda in Cabo at . — rs


After four years of working on my project boat, my son and I had her out on the Bay for her first real sail. For the previous six years we'd been sailing my Santana 22, a very forgiving learning platform, in the Carquinez Strait. That's where we taught ourselves how to sail.

So one day we were sailing the Rhodes 41 in The Slot on the Central Bay between Treasure Island and Angel Island. We were pointing as high as we could, learning about our boat, and trying to make the front of Angel Island on one tack. All of a sudden, along came a fast racing boat with full crew, also on port tack. As soon as the racing boat gained right of way, they cut across our bow in order to get their spinnaker up. They killed our forward progress, forcing us to fall off and totally miss our objective.

If someone wants to race, I say find someone who wants to race with you, and leave us meanderers alone.

Mike Lee
Sea Frolic, Santana 22
Wind River, Rhodes 41

Mike — No matter if it's surfing, skiing or sailing, there are always going to be unfortunate incidents between experts and beginners. While we empathize with you for what happened, if we'd been at the helm of your boat, we'd have deferred just a bit to the racing boat, given all the time and effort they had put into what they were doing. By doing so efficiently, you would have only lost a boatlength or two. It just would have made your challenge a little more interesting. By the way, no doubt they were racing against other boats you didn't see.

You may not want to hear this, but if you really want to have fun sailing, you should do a few beer can races with your Santana 22. There are two reasons. First, you get to copy what the leaders are doing with sail trim, helping you sail your boat better. Second, you'll quickly get comfortable in close quarters, be it with other boats, buoys or obstructions.

Even casual racing will make you a better sailor faster than any other method. And if you're a beginner, rest assured that everybody will be happy to encourage you and give you tips. Before long you'll really feel comfortable handling your Santana, and you can quickly translate that confidence to your bigger boat. So the next time a racing boat crosses in front of you, you can scare the hell out of them by shaving their transom, knowing you're in full control and will only miss them by a smidgen.

By the way, trying to sail up the face of Angel Island on one tack was one of the favorite 'games' the Wanderer enjoyed with his boats on the Bay. It sure helps when there's an ebb, doesn't it? — rs


In response to the Wanderer's citing of our blog post regarding our complaints about restaurants in downtown Cabo not allowing dogs, we have to agree with him. While we were disappointed that the restaurants in Cabo didn't allow us to have our dog with us if we wanted to eat, like the Wanderer we don't like barking, licking, crapping or bothersome animals near us either. That's why we pride ourselves on being responsible pet owners. If our Tessa were to present a problem to anyone, we would remove her from the situation — although I can't ever remember needing to do this.

We wish parents of children would do the same.

By the way, our dog loves cruising. She's an avid swimmer, and gets to swim to her heart's content off the back of the boat on a homemade doggie boarding ladder.

As for our comments on Cabo, I was just surprised by how overrun the downtown area had become. Fortunately, we eventually found plenty of inexpensive but delicious food in and around Cabo, and thus stayed for three weeks. Special mention to the pet-friendly Cabo Cantina. So we did have a good time, but I'm not sure we need to return to downtown Cabo, as it's not our scene anymore.

We're absolutely loving La Cruz de Huanacaxtle on the mainland, as everyone has been extremely welcoming. In fact, over-the-top welcoming. And now that we're berthed for the summer on the same dock as Profligate, we know where to take Tessa for her morning walks!

By the way, I've seen the photos of your motorcycle. I need one for the summer. Can you help?

Chris and Monica Glubka, and Tessa
SeaGlub, Hylas 46
La Cruz for the Summer

Chris and Monica — Good one!

We know there are lots of very responsible, good dog owners. The problem is that there are so many irresponsible ones that our guard almost automatically goes up whenever we see a dog.

And unfortunately, there are more than a few dog owners who are just plain hostile to anyone who doesn't automatically like their dog. For example, a few years ago we were walking along Costa Baja Marina in La Paz when a drunk owner of a fishing boat saw that we wanted to avoid his pit bull — who was dragging his own leash. So he picked up the leash and led the dog toward us. When he got close, he threw the leash on the ground. Nice passive-aggressive way to make friends and influence people.

As for downtown Cabo, it's an ever-changing, tawdry mess. It's geared to visitors from cruise ships and the Thursday-Sunday morning party crowd from the States. Your staying there for three weeks may have set some kind of record.

There is a cruiser/motorcycle group in La Cruz/Vallarta that was started by the late Philo Hayward and is still going strong. Ask around about Buddies in the Saddle. The ride from La Cruz to Mita is great, and the ride from Mita through the jungle is even better. The wild driving antics on Highway 200, however, creep us out. — rs


I was very disappointed to read the Wanderer's April 26 'Lectronic Latitude comments titled About Dogs. And Cats. And Cruising.

The Wanderer — Richard Spindler/the Grand Poobah/the Grand PooBob — voices his opinions about dogs, boating and dock life, to which he is entitled. I know the crew of SeaGlub, who were the subject, and have been witness to how they ensure their dog is happy and well cared for.

We have Rocket, a 75-pound dog, aboard our boat, and the Wanderer has seen me take my dog out paddleboarding and swimming from his boat ramp when at places he is not allowed to go ashore — such at Santa Cruz Island.

I hope the Wanderer will reconsider his thoughts about dogs on boats. Our Rocket gets a few years younger when we pull out of the slip. He loves sailing, dinghy rides, paddleboarding, and most of all swimming.

Rocket came from a shelter and has spent every one of his ten years aboard Volare. This is his home. He feels happy and safe here. There's not a dog in the world that would rather stay in a shelter than go home with a boat family. Please don't discourage boaters from adding dogs to their lives. It wouldn't be fair to the boaters or the dogs.

We respect the rules and other mariners, pick up after our dog and other dogs, and don't allow our dog to disturb others.

We take our dog everywhere we can. Having a dog is about companionship, and thus being with the dog. If a place does not allow us in with a dog, that's fine. We will find a place that does.

I believe that what SeaGlub wrote was part of a personal blog. But what the Wanderer wrote, in a professional publication, is: "It seems so unfair to the dog to have a big dog on a boat." This passing of judgment on other boaters' choices and lifestyles goes too far. If this is truly the Wanderer's opinion, it makes me reconsider joining this year's Ha-Ha. I do not want to begin my cruising journey with someone so quick to pass judgment. I believe the hundreds of other cruisers out there with dogs would agree with me.

Thanks for all you do for the boating community and for listening to our input!

Jessica Heinicke
Volare, Catalina 440
San Diego

Jessica — As we've had the pleasure of meeting you and your husband Adam aboard Profligate on two SoCal Ta-Ta's, we like to think you know we think the world of both of you — and that's even before taking into account that you both did two tours of duty as helicopter pilots in Middle Eastern war zones.

If all dog owners were as responsible, considerate and in control of their dogs as you two are, we and others wouldn't have an issue with dogs on boats. The sad truth is, not everyone is as responsible and considerate as you two. Surely you know this from having to pick up poop from other dogs.

We like to think that there's a significant degree of difference between having an opinion, such as ours, and casting judgment. And our opinion on big dogs on boats was based on experiences such as the folks on Irie had, having to give up cruising after just one day because their dogs were so uncomfortable with their Freeport 36 heeling over. And others admitting that having a big dog on a boat was not ideal.

We were careful to preface our opinions by noting how incredibly important dogs are to some people, and what a huge factor they are to the happiness of many owners. We're all for that. By the same token, we're all against dogs who bark all night long every night. And with owners who seem oblivious to the detriment it has on others.

We're glad to see that you're open-minded enough to our being open-minded, and thus have signed up for the Ha-Ha. We'll even let Rocket bite our leg — if he promises to do it softly. And we're sure we'll be great friends with the SeaGlub folks when we get a chance to meet them, despite the fact they promise to take their Tessa for a walk around Profligate every evening. — rs


In my opinion, About Dogs. And Cats. And Cruising is the best 'Lectronic the Wanderer has ever written. I would gladly patronize every restaurant in Cabo that the SeaGlub folks were upset about because they wouldn't allow their dog.
That's why I like Paradise Marina in Nuevo Vallarta. Dick Markie has prominently posted signs saying they won't tolerate dogs off-leash. Nor their self-righteous and oblivious owners.

Years ago I had several boats at Napa Valley Marina. There was a big sign right at the entrance to the marina, 'Please Leave Your Pets at Home'.

In Sausalito and the rest of Marin County, it's even worse. The most ardent pet lovers would hate dogs if they came to Schoonmaker Marina. Especially the beach area, which locals now refer to as 'Dog Beach'. On nice days, dog owners who pretend to be oblivious to new "DOGS ON LEASH ONLY" signs all over the beach and public-access areas let their pets run free on the beach, walkways and docks. Usually the dog owners are on their mobile phones texting, completely ignoring their pets, while their pets poop, pee and race around the beach full of barefoot little kids and their moms. And yes, there are pit bulls among these dogs.

Schoonmaker recently had to buy a half dozen new signs, post them right at the entry to the beach, and still dog owners claim, "Oh, sorry… I didn't see your sign." Harbormaster Mike Rainey recently asked a dog owner, "How many signs do we have to post before you control your dogs?"

"I'm sorry that you feel that way," she replied, completely ignoring his question.

I certainly don't hate dogs, and in the past I have cruised, sometimes for a few weeks, on boats with owners and their dogs. But now dogs seem to be everywhere and out of control. Like bratty, spoiled kids, so many dog owners are oblivious to their pets' behavior. Or the fact that not everyone likes their precious pet. Then there is the whole rampant misuse of so-called 'service dogs'.

John 'Woody' Skoriak
Marin County


People might think the new upscale Harbor Sands — with cabanas, lounge chairs, plants, and waiter service — at Two Harbors is cool, if they never knew it the way we knew it. For me, it's a sad transition.

Gone are the days of having to dodge the buffalo after a hike to the back side. Gone are the days when Perry Como was so drunk late one night that he had us drive him back to his boat in his Boston Whaler tender. Alas, my dad wouldn't let us keep the tender.

My first trip to Catalina was in 1963. My dad had mooring N8 at the Isthmus. His twin brother had one on the inside at Avalon. My grandmother lived in Avalon for a while back in the 1970s. I used to dive for coins when the ol' steamer would come into Avalon with tourists. Growing up as a boating brat on Catalina was a hell of a good time!

Geez, we buried my dad out off Ship Rock. I wonder if the changes are making him toss around in the deep blue yonder. R.I.P. Isthmus.

Dave Lewis
Formerly Sweet Lorraine, Ventura
Currently F/V Kellie Ann, Kealakekua, HI

Readers — We didn't expect that a lot of mariners were going to be thrilled about Harbor Sands, and the response we've received bears this out.
We understand why they are doing this, but that doesn't mean we like it. We suppose just how unpopular it will be with mariners depends on how many of the free activities and areas will no longer be available to them. — rs


I've been going to Two Harbors on Catalina Island for just short of 50 years. As a young teenager, I remember the wonderful feeling of being on an imagined desert island outpost a million miles away from the real world.

As time has marched on, there has been some limited development of housing for staff and other improvements. But until the current upscale Harbor Sands remodel, that desert-island feeling remained. The Two Harbors beach area, where once pickup volleyball games, families having BBQs, campers and Scouts running around waiting for the Catalina Express ferry home, were the norm, has now been stolen in the name of profits.

People now have the 'privilege' of paying to be on the beach by renting a chair or cabana. The same beach area that had been utilized in the past for all sorts of boating groups and yacht clubs to host events for reasonable fees. New liquor-license restrictions that now extend down to the high-tide line, coupled with the unreasonably high fees to host an event, are making groups and clubs rethink booking events there. I know of several that have canceled previously booked events.

At the east end of the island near Avalon, Descanso Beach has a similar area with cabanas and beach chairs you can rent. People who wanted that kind of experience traditionally went there.

The plan to bring in more people from Avalon on a high-speed boat to rent chairs and cabanas on the beach will further erode that deserted-island feeling.

I have asked a lot of my boating friends what they think of Harbor Sands, and not one of them likes these changes. The thought of Santa Catalina Island Resort Services "preserving the present for the future" does not ring true for us. SCIRS should have kept what was there six months ago as the 'present', and that would have preserved the future.

In the movie Field of Dreams, they heard a whisper of, "If you build it, they will come." I hear a loud voice saying, "If you charge too much for Two Harbors, they won't."

Pat McCormick
St. Somewhere, Beneteau 440
Alamitos Bay


I think Harbor Sands will definitely ruin the ambience of Two Harbors. So I hope it fails as a commercial venture.

Lon Bubeck
Flying Cloud Yachts
Long Beach


The changes at Two Harbors are obviously aimed to increase revenues. There are about 18 million people living in Southern California, so I imagine it was only a matter of time before management would make changes to try to attract more of them.

I live at San Pedro South Shores, which is just 19 miles from Two Harbors. But I stopped going there five years ago when 'revenue enhancement' took hold.

My game plan is to have a house, which is an appreciating asset, and a boat, which is a depreciating asset, and thus be able to travel wherever I want. But I think it's the Wanderer who really figured it out.

Marek Nowicki
Raireva, Dreadnought 32
Splitting time among SoCal,
Mexico, Costa Rica and Poland


Latitude's response to the Whites asking for advice on cruising in Southern California this summer included some good points, but I'd like to add a few.
It's true that September/October may offer the best conditions of a given year, but since 'calendar summer' ends near mid-September, the Whites could be looking more at fall cruising.

The conditions around Santa Cruz Island can be blustery and cold in July and August, but are not continuously so. What you experience chiefly depends on your whereabouts. The mildest conditions are characteristically along the shores of the eastern third of the island, as Latitude mentioned. The anchorages, spread over a travel distance less than 30 miles, include Pelican Bay, Prisoners Harbor, Scorpion Ranch and Little Scorpion, Smugglers Cove, Yellow Banks, Alberts, and Coches Prietos. There's plenty of anchoring and shore excursions among those spots to occupy cruisers on a round trip of one month's duration from Cupertino!

It's only an 18-mile reach to Ventura Harbor from Little Scorpion if folks wish to come to the mainland. The free Ventura Harbor to Downtown Trolley operates between 11 a.m. and midnight, Wednesday to Sunday, carrying visitors between the harbor and downtown. The latter is a fun destination. Ventura Harbor is very well equipped to service cruising yachts, although there are no grocery stores there.

The chance for an overnight transient berth in Ventura Harbor during summer is better than in Santa Barbara Harbor. If folks wished to spend a day seeing Santa Barbara Harbor and the area, they could ride the Pacific Surfliner (Amtrak) from Ventura. Our trolley stops at the Ventura train depot.

Conversely, if our cruisers decide to keep to the western portions of Santa Cruz Island, plus visit the outer two islands, Santa Rosa and San Miguel, then summertime could indeed produce challenging conditions. Hailing from the Bay Area, I can easily imagine their being accustomed to cold, windy conditions, and they probably have the gear for meeting them as well.

Finally, it's minimally 50 to 70 miles to other harbors or islands southeast of the east Santa Barbara Channel. Visiting any of them would represent a lot of traveling to put into a single month, so visiting the areas mentioned here and earlier is the best bet.

Ray Wilson

Ray — Thanks for the additional information. Ventura Harbor is a little isolated, so the free downtown trolley sounds terrific. According to the website, the trolley runs every 55 minutes, and, with advance notice, can make special stops along the way. — rs


I agree with Latitude's response, as far as it went, to Rochelle Martin, who wanted to sail rather than fly home to New Zealand. But I think you could have been a bit more helpful.

I quickly Googled "travel by cargo ship to New Zealand," and found that it's still possible to book passage on some cargo ships. You're not looking at warm stone massages on the Lido Deck, but it could be a viable solution for someone with a dislike of flying. And it only takes about 11 days from Long Beach to Auckland.

It would be more expensive than an airline ticket, but less than an actual cruise, and looks to be a better value than taking Amtrak across the United States in a private sleeper compartment. And it's a cargo ship, so you can take lots of luggage.

Greg Barker
Currently sailing OPBs
(three hulls are better than one or two)
San Luis Obispo


A few years ago, while looking west late one afternoon across Colvos Passage from our bluff home on very rural Vashon Island, I spotted some sort of disturbance in the water. Through a telescope, I saw a man in the 40-something-degree water, and his 10-ft aluminum skiff was making rapid circles around him. I called 911 to report it, and was told to call the Coasties. They said they couldn't get to him for half an hour.

At that point we were watching a man drown in front of us, with no way to help. Unknown to us, some nearby folks had also spotted him — although they could barely see him from their elevation — and rowed their dinghy to their moored 18-ft runabout.

By the time they reached the scene, the man was spitting up and barely able to keep his head above water. His boat was partly swamped, but still going in circles trying to run him down. With much difficulty they managed to get this big guy into their boat and to shore.

By this time some island paramedics had arrived at the neighbors' house and took over. I don't remember what we were told the victim's core temperature was, but they said he wouldn't have survived if it had been much colder. He was then airlifted by chopper to Harbor View Medical Center, where he made a full recovery. We didn't see him again, but he did contact the neighbors to thank them for saving his life.

Which brings us to the kill-switch part. He said he left home in a hurry for the south end of the island to tend to some crab traps. He forgot his lunch, but did remember some beer. He spent the day working his traps and was hurrying home when a wake or something knocked him out of his boat. As he went overboard, he pulled the throttle to him, and put the boat into its turn. He said his first problem was avoiding getting run down. That quickly changed to battling hypothermia. He was very thankful to everyone involved, and said he learned some lessons — as we all can from his story. Not the least, that a kill-switch lanyard could save your life.

Richard Lyon and Joan Ouderkirk
Gig Harbor, WA

Richard and Joan — So many people, the Wanderer included, ignore the kill switch. That's stupid and reckless. We know quite a few cases where people were either injured, killed or nearly injured or killed by runaway outboards.

It happened once with the dinghy from our Ocean 71 Big O while she was anchored in English Harbour. We were in California at the time, but one of our crew got into our dinghy and started the engine. Unfortunately, it was a Yamaha model — either a 15- or 25-hp — that would start even though it was in gear. The woman was thrown out of the dinghy, but was able to scramble to safety on the big boat before the dinghy came back to chew her up.

The dinghy, however, kept roaring around in circles — as all dinghies will — in crowded English Harbour. Nobody knew how to stop it. Thankfully, Richard and Sherri Crowe of the Farr 44 Tabu and Orange Coast College Sailing School arrived on the scene. Expert that Richard is, he threw a floating line into the out-of-control dinghy's path. When the prop fouled in the line, the engine immediately stopped.

Dinghies with outboards seem like fun machines — and they are. But they can kill you if you don't use them safely. — rs


I started boating in my dad's Old Town canoe on the East Coast a long time ago and built my first boat out of pine and canvas, waterproofed with paint and roofing tar, when I was about 10 or 12. My most notable experience was getting busted by the Coast Guard out of Woods Hole with another crazy friend when surfing the canoe on big swells while they had Small Craft Warnings. I graduated to skiffs and motors soon after, then went on a hiatus for about 40 years until I moved to Alaska. With about 30,000 miles of coastline I had to go boating again!

I started with an old Fiberform runabout that I rebuilt and constructed a cabin on. I sold it at a profit, then bought a commercial fishing boat and then another, then built a Bruce Roberts-designed 40-ft steel workboat, and moved on to a 40-ft aluminum longliner. After sailing with some friends out of Emeryville on a Freeport 41, I got the sailing bug, then went home and sold the longliner — $4 a gallon for fuel also had something to do with it. I researched the cruising-boat market and bought a 41-ft Fraser center cockpit sloop in Port Roberts, Washington. I talked the previous owner into helping me get it home to Alaska and ran it 24/7 for 14 days straight to get to Seward, AK, into headwinds the whole way. I sailed around Resurrection Bay and Prince William Sound for a season and then hauled out and started an extensive two-year refit. I left in the winters to do some custom boat work around Emeryville.

My wife and I brought Hoku Iki ("Little Star" in Hawaiian) down the Inside Passage in 2015 and sailed and motored around the San Juans last summer. I never found the weather window I liked for a passage to SoCal (and then the Baja Ha-Ha), so I hauled out in Anacortes. We're currently continuing the refit and anticipating poking around here and around Vancouver Island in a month or so, then maybe watching for that weather window southbound again. Last year was a never-ending succession of lows all fall from Juan de Fuca to Mendocino.

John Schroeder
Hoku Iki, Fraser 41
Anacortes, WA

Readers — John was the winner of a Latitude hat when he picked up a copy of the April Latitude 38 at his local West Marine store and found the prize note inside. — ja


I read of the successful voyage up the Petaluma River by a boat drawing all of 4-ft 3-in whose skipper had the good sense to schedule with appropriate tides. The facts are:

The river in general and the basin are now very well silted in and provide little water other than at selected parts of the docks. Those of us involved are working vigorously to get the Corps of Engineers to support and execute dredging of this waterway to preserve what has been the very heart of Petaluma's history and was once an active commercial port. It has been, I think, over ten years since any dredging has been done. We would like to avoid the fate of Port Sonoma and Lakeville Landing.

By tide scheduling, the river appears navigable, at least to a 4-ft-draft boat, but I would guess that is a fairly narrow segment of the Bay Area fleet. Perhaps, if a service to mariners is possible, it might make sense to get some actual draft numbers in key points at mean low tide. The cruising options are not reassuring the way things are now.

John McNeill
Yankee, 1906 53-ft Stone schooner
San Francisco/Petaluma


My slip at Petaluma Marina is closest to the river and thus subject to the worst silting. However, I walked back to the farthest slips and the boats were all sitting above their lines. May's minus 1.4 tides should be interesting. I predict the fairway between A and B docks will dry out as well — it only had about an inch of water when I took this photo.

My boat has run aground twice a day for years. Why haven't I moved to a different, deeper slip? According to my diver, there is a hole in the mud underneath my boat shaped like my boat. If I move to another deeper but still shallow slip, I will have to 'moosh' a new hole to match my boat in that one. Depending on the consistency (and contents) of the mud, that could be more damaging or dangerous than staying in this one. If there is a pre-existing hole that doesn't match up well, it doesn't matter where you tie your boat using mooring lines, the boat will move to the center of the hole as the tide goes out. If your lines don't break or rip off your cleats, they can be stretched beyond their yield points. I wondered for a long time who was loosening my lines each time I snugged them up until I went to the boat at a minus tide several years ago and found the dock hanging from the boat. All the lines were guitar-string tight. Now that the marina has silted in more, the dock runs aground about the same time as the boat so I don't have to adjust anymore. The deeper slips farther back still have the dock-hanging-from-your-boat problem.

Name Withheld by Request
35-ft Sailboat



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