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November 2017

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I live in Baja California and am thinking about visiting the United States, but I am concerned about my personal safety. I just read a Travel Warning that states there is a high probability of a terrorist attack, and there have been threats of nuclear annihilation by North Korea. And in watching the news, it seems as if an all-out civil war could break out at any minute.

I've also grown so accustomed to living inexpensively, and the food down here is not only delicious, it's cheap. I wonder how far my limited finances will take me in the States.

I admit that sometimes I like to drive a little fast, and have heard of people getting fined as much as $600 for speeding! And apparently there is no way to 'talk' one's self out of the ticket with a reasonable mordida.

I sprained my foot down here a few months ago, and, not having any health insurance, ended up paying 100% out-of-pocket for the doctor's exam and the X-rays. It came to $12. What if I have a medical emergency in the States? I have heard of people racking up thousands of dollars a day in medical expenses, and sometimes being charged as much as $100 for a single aspirin. Could I be life-flighted back to Baja and affordable care?

I have also grown fond of people I don't even know greeting me with a "Buenos días," or "Buenas tardes." Are people as friendly in the United States?

Does anyone else have these kinds of concerns about traveling in the US?

Chip 'Tongue in Cheek' Prather
ex-Miss Teak, Morgan 45
Dana Point

Readers — The point that Chip, who, along with his wife Katy, has gone over to the dark side of powerboating, is trying to make is that people can get ridiculously inaccurate impressions of any country by reading Travel Warnings and fear-mongering news articles.

As an example of how ridiculous it can get, last month Doña de Mallorca got a call from a gentleman who asked if the waterfront condo he'd booked from her for January was "still going to be there." When she asked what in the world he meant, he explained, "You know, the hurricanes, the earthquakes, the drug cartels." The gentleman was relieved to learn that hurricane season ends in October, that the Mexico City and other earthquakes had occurred hundreds of miles away in the mountains, and that problems with drug cartels were unlikely as long as he didn't go into competition with them.

As far as the Wanderer is concerned, the most accurate travel warning is the number of people who are fleeing any given place. We don't know of any cruisers who are fleeing Mexico because of concerns about hurricanes, earthquakes and personal safety. Naturally these are legitimate concerns anywhere in the world, but the Americans in Mexico don't think they are any greater down there than they are up here in the States. And neither do we. — rs

The Wanderer recently wrote, "The Grand Poobah is thinking about opening up a floating bar and restaurant at Prisoner's Harbor at Santa Cruz Island next September. Sort of like the late Willy T in the British Virgins. We don't think anybody would care, do you?"

If he was saying that just to get a rise out of those of us who regularly cruise the northern Channel Islands, it worked.

Regarding the idea of a 'floating bar', yes, some people would care about it and would be opposed. Can't some things remain semi-sacred, or does everything have to be exploited? The islands are beauties to be cherished. After all, the Chumash Indians were violently removed, and their land and ways exploited. Does it have to continue on, with more white men appearing on the horizon with their boats bringing alcohol and disease? OK, that's an embellishment, but I do hope you get my point.

As for the Wanderer's desire for "Internet everywhere," as was expressed the previous month, I've received a lot of support from friends who have boats in Channel Islands Harbor, who have been cruising the outer islands for decades, who don't want Internet there. They, like me, truly enjoy the last little slice of undeveloped paradise within close proximity to a mega-population center. And we don't want it overrun because people can get Internet access there, too.

I'm starting to worry about the Wanderer. Now that he's sold the magazine, it seems as though he's got way too much time on his hands. Between keeping an eye on the Presedenshul (sic) Administration, and now having to worry about additional exploitation of Santa Cruz Island, it's getting too much for me!
If the Wanderer wants to operate a floating bar, why not at Paradise Cove, the anchorage just past Point Dume? It already has a restaurant/beach bar ashore, and is where all the Valleys go.

Tom Varley
Spirit, Gulfstar 50
Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard

Tom — The Wanderer is no longer thinking of just a floating bar and restaurant. 'The Cat House' — what a great name! — would be a breakfast place in the morning, an Internet cafe and hookah bar in the afternoon, and a music venue/casino/cat house once the sun went down. But we'd have doctors to check the girls once a week to make sure the operation didn't spread disease like the irresponsible and rapacious white men who came before us. To maximize the profits, we'd offer 'California brownies' and serve underage drinkers. We'd also store fuel for unfortunate smugglers from Mexico who were running low.

And up until we got your letter, we were going to book you and your band, Tom Varley and the Sundogs, for the whole first season.

As we said, we can't imagine anyone would object. Not the DEA, the ABC, the anti-trafficking people, the Santa Cruz Island Outfitters, the Park Rangers, the Nature Conservancy — or even you and your friends once we got a chance to win you over. — rs

In the October Latitude 38, it was speculated that Richard Carr, my brother, who is presumed lost at sea on the way to French Polynesia, must not have had the tracking feature of his Garmin InReach turned on. That was not the case, as all of the messages Richard sent during his voyage included latitude and longitude. I used the coordinates from the InReach to track his voyage and keep his family updated on his position.

I also tracked the satellite transponder position of vessels nearest his coordinates. The Coast Guard was given all of the Garmin communications and my tracking information.

Richard also had other electronic equipment on the boat. But after three days at sea, that equipment was no longer functional.

Richard had been stranded in the doldrums after a week or more of sailing in rough and sometimes stormy seas, during which time he reported that he was unable to sleep or leave the cockpit. This was followed by several days of drifting at the whim of wind and current in the doldrums, baking or — as he put it, "being barbequed" — in the hot sun. He was still unable to get rest for fear of squalls that periodically appeared with little warning.

His messages also indicated he was probably delusional. Several mariners who responded to family requests for assistance noted they had encountered something similar, but perhaps not as severe. These delusions are most likely what led to the demise of Richard and the disappearance of Celebration.

The C-130 and Lear Jet searches occurred nearly a month after Richard's last message. By that time Celebration would have been near the Marquesas, Richard's destination. The American Enterprise reached Celebration's last reported location about three days after Richard's last message. They flew several helicopter searches in the area where Celebration would have drifted to, but without finding any sign of the boat or debris. Richard had secured everything from on deck in the cabin after an incident with a squall.

Richard's family is most grateful to the US Coast Guard and all of the entities involved in the search for him and Celebration.

Richard is missed by all who knew him. He was declared deceased as of May 28, 2017, by the California Court on September 8, 2017, based on the US Coast Guard report of the incident. Noting that miracles have happened, and the best efforts of men are sometimes not sufficient, if anyone should encounter a 36-ft sailboat named Celebration with green trim in port or having drifted ashore somewhere, the family would appreciate hearing of it.

John Carr
Richard's brother

John — We're terribly sorry about your and Richard's family's loss, and appreciate the correction and clarification. — rs

Reading the Wanderer's September 25 account of Fin Bevin using a sledgehammer to 'fix' the windlass motor on Profligate brought up a memory. I was delivering a Cal 36 back to Marina del Rey from the 1970 Acapulco Race, which was the last time that race was held, when the Signet autopilot quit.

The problem was that the little compass needle had jumped off its pin. Since it was magnetic, I thought if I had a lump of steel I could maybe convince it to get back on its pin. What's more a lump of steel than a baby sledge? So sure enough, after a couple of tries the sledge had done its job.

So I think that I can legitimately claim to be one of the few people who have fixed their autopilot with a sledgehammer.

Tony Spooner
Macha, Haskins 39 trimaran

Tony — Delivering a Cal 36 back from Acapulco must have been bad enough. If it hadn't been for the efficacy of the sledgehammer, we imagine it would have been darn near impossible to complete that delivery.

Speaking of the Acapulco Race, we attended a presentation by Jim Kilroy, the late, great pioneer of international maxi racing. Having done most every great race in the world several times, he shocked the audience by saying that the Acapulco Race, known for extremely light winds south of Puerto Vallarta, was one of his favorites. — rs

We were southbound to the Bahamas, having just left Beaufort Inlet, when our always-faithful autopilot failed to come to life. After doing the usual checking of all connections, topping off the hydraulic fluid, and trying to diagnose the problem, I resorted to the 'hit it with the big hammer' last resort. Sure enough, the autopilot seemed to understand that I was serious, and worked flawlessly for the next three years.

Cam Simmons
Double-Wide, Seawind 1160
Charleston, SC

I had to remove a winch from a mast with an impact driver and baby sledge. The problem was that a nicely contoured base was welded to the mast, but the stainless screws of the winch base were seized to the aluminum plate. Many whacks released five of six. The sixth broke, but I was able to drill into the remaining portion and, using a screw extractor, remove the remnant piece. To re-install, I drilled and tapped for heli-coils put in with aluminum base anti-seize, and there was no problem.

Aloha, I forgot to mention the insulator, a phenolic fiber-reinforced plastic — the old brown FRP — between bronze winch base and aluminum winch mount.

Jim Nash
Kaneohe YC, O'ahu, HI

Readers — If you have an older boat and do some work on her, you'll no doubt develop an intimate relationship with ex-outs and heli-coils. — rs

There is a scene in the movie Splash when a character says, "I can fix it, I'm a mechanic." Then he hits the outboard with his hammer.

Folsom Phil

Folsom — Well, did it fix the outboard? — rs

While the hammer is one of my favorite tools, I've also found that choice swear words are effective when I'm confronted with a problem. While swear words may not solve the problem, at least they make me feel better.

In addition, some of the more difficult repairs usually require some bloodletting in the form of scraped knuckles, fingers and the like.

Joe Altmann
Planet Earth

Joe — The most choice swear words are usually reserved for when the mechanic hits his fingers with . . . the baby sledge. — rs.

Remember the old adage, "If at first it doesn't work, get a bigger hammer?" Personally, I get an odd warm feeling when I smash the crap out a piece of recalcitrant electronics.

Fast Freddy
Fury, C&C 44
Portland, OR
2013 Baja Ha-Ha

If it takes a sledgehammer to get a DC motor going, it's time to replace the brushes and/or clean the commutator. Of course, the other possibility is that the hammer jogs the solenoid relay. In that case, rust or corrosion inside will be the root cause.

Paul Mathews
Whidbey Island, WA

Paul — Unfortunately, the windlass motor on Profligate lives in one of the most corrosive atmospheres known to man, so it's difficult to keep the motor case and terminals free of rust. Although the motor continued to work after 'hammer time', we've taken it to the electric motor doctor for a diagnosis and possible repair.

We were also shocked to discover that West Marine sells a replacement motor, from Lewmar, for only about $300. That's less than we've sometimes paid to have similar motors rebuilt. — rs

Although we are paid entries in this year's Baja Ha-Ha with our Olson 40 Euphoria, my wife Lisa and I will not be able to make it. We bought the George Olson-designed boat in February and started a complete refit. Unfortunately, while the yard doing the work is fantastic on craftsmanship, they are hopeless on project management. So what has been done has been done amazingly well, but she's still on the hard in Santa Ana. The lessons we've learned:

1) Don't assume great craftsmen can do project management.

2) Don't assume great craftsmen have any business sense.

3) Don't assume a fixed-price bid, with a discount for paying upfront, means anything at all.

We paid, it's not done, but the owner of the yard can't make payroll to keep the work going.

Another factor is that my dad passed away on Sunday, hours after my brother Randy Smyth, catamaran great, was inducted in the National Sailing Hall of Fame. My dad had a major stroke about noon on Friday, and so he was unable to communicate except in two ways: First, he made it absolutely clear that he would not accept a feeding tube or IVs. Second, he was clearly emotionally moved to hear my brother's speech.

Lisa and I are both looking forward to the Baja Ha-Ha in 2018!

David Smyth
President, Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology
Euphoria, Olson 40
Waikiki, HI

David — We're sorry to hear about the passing of your father and that your Olson 40 won't be ready in time for this year's Ha-Ha. On the bright side of things, it means you and Lisa will be doing the grand 25th Anniversary Ha-Ha, which we think will be special. The Silver Ha-Ha will start on October 29, 2018.

We hope that other boat owners getting major work on their boats take heed from your experience. Just as is the case with home remodels, everything takes more time — and money — than even experienced professionals estimate. — rs

We are Pajo and Ava, two Seattleites who are sailing around the world fueled 100% by renewable energy. We converted our boat from diesel to an electric drive, which is powered by solar energy and regeneration under sail. We are do-it-yourselfers, who are sharing everything we learn along the way in hopes of inspiring others to become more sustainable. We can all do our part for our beautiful planet — and have some fun adventures along the way.

It all began in 2015 when Pajo was sitting in a Seattle cafe, plugging away at work and daydreaming about escaping it all. He was overwhelmed by what some might call a crazy idea. That idea was like an itch that would soon spur him into insatiably following a dream. A dream to ditch the regular script and create his own, which is to sail around the world using sustainable energy.

Since the inception of the dream, Pajo has acquired three sailboats and spent lots of time sailing around the lakes of Seattle and the pristine wilds of the Puget Sound and British Columbia.

Along the way, he managed to convince a certain Jersey girl, me, to be his first mate. Turns out, I share the same itch for adventure and overwhelming desire to see the world. I'd never set foot on a sailboat before meeting Pajo, but now can't imagine the next chapter going any other way.

For those interested in our solar- and regeneration-
powered electric drive, please visit

Pajo and Ava Gazibara
Cinderella, Ericson 35-II
Seattle, WA

Pajo and Ava — We love dreamers and hope your electric drive works out well for long-distance cruising. As you probably know, electric-powered engines in offshore boats have had limited success so far. About five years ago Lagoon equipped a bunch of their catamarans with electric engines, but eventually had to replace them all with diesels because the electrics just weren't up to the job.
But that was five years ago, and technology marches on. We hope you can help lead the march.

As everyone knows, Hurricane Maria wiped out Puerto Rico's already-hopeless electrical grid. Forward-thinking Elon Musk of Tesla, space exploration, ultra-high-speed transportation and other projects, made the suggestion to the governor of Puerto Rico that they go with renewable energy as much as possible as an alternative to the old grid.

Musk got a lot of grief for his suggestion, but we'll counter at least some of that grief with a report from longtime friend and sailor Warren Stryker of St. Thomas, who is originally from Sausalito. Stryker's house on the hill above Magens Bay was hit as hard as all the other houses on St. Thomas by Hurricane Irma. But unlike most other residents, Stryker came out in relatively great shape. Armed with plenty of solar panels, Stryker never lost power for his lights, refrigeration, computers or anything else. And because he drives an electric-powered Nissan Leaf, he didn't have to waste any time standing in line for diesel like most everyone else.

It may not be a popular philosophy, and it can be difficult and/or not always feasible, but the Wanderer believes that the more people rely on themselves as opposed to the government, the better off they will be. — rs

Several decades ago I researched the story of 'The Lost Woman of San Nicolas Island', about whom there was a letter and long editorial response in the July issue. My research path led to the Southwest Museum in South Pasadena, where I met a truly ferocious librarian who was actually quite helpful. Strangely, the history of the 'Lost Woman' story starts with China and Russia. Specifically, how was Russia going to pay China for all the tea they wanted?

The Russians were mad for tea, but had nothing to trade for it. Except gold. During the days of the gold standard, Moscow was watching their gold reserves plummet, millions of sips of tea at a time. They cast about for some other commodity the Chinese would want in exchange for tea. They discovered Lutra maritimus, more commonly known as sea otter fur. Sea otter fur is the densest of any mammal fur, with up to one million hairs per square inch.

The climate in northern China features brutally cold winters, so sea otter fur was the ultimate luxury. The Chinese gladly traded tea for the pelts, so the Russians slaughtered the otters through the Aleutian Islands and farther south. In fact, they wiped out sea otters in one area after another. The operations featured a sailing ship manned by Russians, who hired native Aleuts to catch and skin the otters.

In search of more sea otter pelts, the Russians kept pressing farther south, through British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and on to California. Fort Ross, north of Bodega Bay, owes its existence to the sea otter trade.

In 1825 the Russians came sailing down from the north to the shores of San Nicolas Island. The Aleuts set to work killing and skinning the otters there. While they worked, they noticed that the island had a really nice climate. And fine-looking women. They also studied the men, and decided, "We can take these guys."

When the ship was full of otter pelts and the Russians prepared to leave, the Aleuts came up with a plan. They told the Russians that they were going to stay, so the Russians took off. Before long, the Aleuts massacred all the island men save one, took control over the women, and made San Nicolas theirs.

Several years passed before a priest from El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula, now better known as Los Angeles, decided a rescue was in order. Did he know about the massacre? I don't know. Maybe he just wanted some more converts. Anyway, a voyage was organized with the only ship on the coast deemed capable of making the trip.

Despite its size, San Nicolas really only has one anchorage. It's on the southwest side, and even it isn't very good. The priest's ship anchored there and took everyone on the island aboard — except for one woman who stayed behind in the mountains.

Two later accounts said the woman had been on the ship, but dove off and swam back to the island. But both the captain and the first mate of the ship dispute this. They say the woman was never even seen on the beach. In any event, with the weather turning bad in the poor anchorage, the captain decided they had to leave and would return another time.

As the only offshore ship on the coast at that time, it was needed in Northern California. At one point it was carrying timber from the North Coast to San Francisco and got rolled off Mile Rock. The crew made it to shore safely, but the ship, full of timber, was swept out on an ebb tide. She didn't sink and was later recovered by the Russians.

For several years it was known up and down the coast that the Lost Woman was still out at San Nicolas. Passing ships would leave a cooking pot or knives at the cove. They would shout, yell, and briefly search for her. But she would never appear. Later visitors would report that the items left had been taken.

Eventually Captain George Nidever of Santa Barbara organized a true rescue attempt. After arriving, his group began a systematic search starting at the south end of the island. After half a day, they found the woman in her camp, preparing lunch for them. Communicating as best they could, they asked her if she would have come out to meet them. "No," was the answer. Would she come away with them to the mainland? She indicated "Yes."

After a few days of hunting seals, the skins of which would pay for the trip, the rescuers and the Lost Woman set off for Santa Barbara.

As so often happens between San Nicolas and Santa Barbara in the summer, the wind came up to 35 knots, and right on their nose. It was very uncomfortable — and a bit distressing for the crew. The Lost Woman noticed their concern, and indicated she would take care of it. She went to the bow, kneeled, and engaged in some activity. It was duly noted in the ship's log that the wind and seas soon abated. They had a very pleasant sail the rest of the way to Santa Barbara.

The woman from San Nicolas was given the name Juana Maria, and lived in the home of George Nidever. By his account she was a joyful, delightful person. When guests came to visit she would do a dance of welcome. She loved fresh oranges, plums, apples and other fruit. Unfortunately, after her lifetime of living on rotting, rancid seal meat, the fruit diet proved fatal.

Author Scott O'Dell based his novel Island of the Blue Dolphins on the Lost Woman's story. Mr. O'Dell's publisher insisted that he change the Juana Maria character into a male, and threatened not to publish the work. O'Dell refused. The publisher ultimately relented.

In the late 19th century a Basque shepherd, along with his sheep, took up residence on San Nicolas Island. Every year a ship would come out and trade food and wine — lots of wine — for his wool. The shepherd would tell stories about the voices he heard: screams of grieving and pain on the winds of San

Nicolas Island.
Lawrence Riley
Planet Earth

We think we have accomplished the impossible, which is to get the Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for our new boat White Knuckles using the Mexican government's online website.

Here's a few tips for getting a TIP:

1) Leave the box for "mother's maiden name" blank. If you fill it in, it will add your mom's maiden name to your name — as is done in Mexico.

2) The boat manufacturer listing is very limited, as a previous writer noted. Find "otros," meaning 'other', on the list and select that. A box will then open up with "Other Manufacturer." Type over this with your boat type.

3) Make sure you have scanned your passport, boat documentation, a letter that indicates who is in charge of the boat, as well as documentation on who owns the boat as separate files. Be sure that they are less than 1 megabyte. You might have to adjust your scanner and scan them separately. You have to scan four separate documents and you can't move forward without four documents.

4) When you finish a page of the application, it allows you to save and exit or continue. If you click "continue" and you haven't done everything correctly, the screen will gray out and you will think it is hung up. It isn't. Scroll back up to the top of the screen to find out what else to do.

5) Most of the English version is pretty good — except for "otros." When you get your notice that your application is approved, it's all in Spanish.

Adriana van der Graaf
White Knuckles

Adriana — Thanks for the great tips. Nonetheless, it's the Grand Poobah's recommendation that nobody waste their time tearing their hair out trying to decipher the online TIP application. Not when so many Baja Ha-Ha entrants have gotten their TIPs in a matter of 15 or so minutes from the helpful staff at the Mexican consulates in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Sacramento. Not San Diego or San Francisco.

If you're not close to a consulate where you can get a TIP for your boat — and there are others in places like Phoenix and Chicago — simply wait until you get to San Diego and take a short trip to Customs at Otay Mesa or even Tecate. Everybody we've talked to who has applied for a TIP in person at a consulate or Customs had gotten it in less than half an hour with no problems. — rs

I hope the two young Yutzy farmer ladies, as featured in the September 20 Lectronic, found a ride for the Baja Ha-Ha.

I can vouch for getting crew from the Latitude 38 Crew List, as my wife Marina and I have used it three times now to find Ha-Ha crew. All the crew we've gotten were adventurous people who were willing to help where needed.

To all the people looking for crew, I suggest you use the Crew List — but clearly define your expectations up front. And be open to different levels of sailing experience. If so, you'll find a match.

Our Crew List crew have been really fun people and good crew — even though they didn't have the sailing skills. With good people, it will work out.

Myron Eisenzimmer
Mykonos, Swan 44
San Francisco

Myron — Based on anecdotal experience, oftentimes the least satisfactory crew aren't the least experienced sailors, but the more experienced, who frequently seem to think they have a better way of doing things. The worst? Young sailing instructors who think they know everything. "I'll never take another sailing instructor again," is a sentiment we've heard several times. — rs

To the racing sailors of Vallejo Yacht Club:

On behalf of Benicia Yacht Club, I, Dan Carnahan, Race Chair, on this 27th day of September, 2017, now do approach Vallejo Yacht Club with the following assertion:

Whereas Benicia YC and Vallejo YC are of neighboring communities, and
Whereas members and residents of Benicia regularly join in Vallejo YC's racing events, and, as well, members and residents of Vallejo regularly join in Benicia YC's racing events, and

Whereas we desire to renew a collective association together, with a regular, annual, midsummer, competitive racing event, where we come together as neighbors, as friends, in friendly competition and celebration, with beer, camaraderie, food, fun, barbecue, music, laughter, and more beer, I do hereby officially give challenge to the sailors of Vallejo Yacht Club, signified by the ceremonial hurling of my sailing glove at the feet of your officers, to engage with Benicia Yacht Club in an epic contest of sailing skill, strategy, and daring, for the coveted prize of a grand trophy, and for the sweet satisfaction of victory and of glory.

Dan Carnahan
Race Chair
Benicia YC

Readers — This letter was written on formal Benicia YC stationery and came to us in the form of an emailed PDF. "I've attached for your amusement the speech that I read, with great drama and pompousness, to the sailors of Vallejo YC, during dinner after their very last beer can race," wrote Carnahan. "I crewed on one of their boats that night. My presentation was met with great enthusiasm from the Vallejo sailors!

"Feel free to run any or all of the letter," he added.

We're looking forward to the first challenge race between the two North Bay clubs. — cw

It's been a great fall with some sailing and varnishing and so on at Owl Harbor. Last week I even tried sail-trolling for salmon. Didn't catch anything though.
Dock neighbors Howard and Donna related an incident that happened to them this weekend. They had just purchased the newest member of their fleet, Annie, a Catalina 25, and were taking some friends out for a Delta tour. They had previously gone out with the prior owner and had some familiarity with the boat and her idiosyncrasies, one of which was that the motor needed some attention and would only run with the choke adjusted just so.

As it was, their cruise went well until they were out in the San Joaquin channel — that is the main shipping channel for Stockton — when the motor quit. For all his efforts Howard couldn't re-start it and they were adrift. Donna gave me a call on the telephone to see if I could give them a tow but I was over on the Sacramento in Mas Tiempo and at least an hour and half away. I then heard them on the VHF calling another sailboat on our dock and she responded that she was on her way out and could come to help them. At least they weren't going to need a tow from BoatUS or to spend a long time adrift on the water. They would be rescued. But then there's the rest of the story…

As they were floating around relaxing in the warm sunny weather and calm conditions, waiting to be rescued, they heard the five blasts of a big ship's horn and saw they were right in the path of an ocean freighter coming down the San Joaquin. The immediacy of their new position set in and they frantically began paddling to move their boat out of the way. This became apparent to the freighter, which had no recourse but to re-issue its warning and brace for what would be an unfortunate situation. Howard figured out the trajectories though and managed to paddle just far enough to be missed by the ship, by "two boatlengths," he said. Fifty feet close to a thousand tons of steel moving at 15 knots must have been exhilarating!

For some unknown reason Howard then re-tried starting his engine, only this time he re-set the choke into the run position. The motor started and ran like a clock. The foursome then made their way back to the dock and celebrated their near miss and the return to normalcy of their boat's motor. All's well that ends well.

The moral of this story is that, when in a dire situation, don't choke!

Dave Cowell
Mas Tiempo, Islander 30 MkII

I don't miss many Latitude issues, but I haven't seen any comments on the proposed WaterFix Project ( This is Governor Brown's proposal to build two 40-ft-diameter tunnels through the Delta. Three water intake tunnels would be built on the Sacramento River (near Hood and Courtland). The three intake tunnels would merge into a 'lake' built east of Walnut Grove and feed into the large tunnels built 125 feet below ground and running to Clifton Court Forebay (Tracy), where the water would be pumped into the existing canals running to Southern California. The tunnels are larger and longer than the Chunnel that runs from England to France. Cost estimates have run from $15 billion to $50 billion. All cost for planning, construction, environmental mitigation, maintenance, and operation would be paid by those persons or parties receiving the water (i.e. no taxpayer dollars).

If the WaterFix Project were to be funded and built, it would have a devastating effect on boating in the Delta. First, the tunnels would take, at times, one-third of the fresh water flow from the Sacramento River and divert it to Southern California. The result would be loss of 'flushing' flow through the Delta. Saltwater intrusion would protrude farther inland, and Delta waters would stagnate. Invasive aquatic plants (such was the water hyacinths) would not be flushed; swimming and on-water activities might be dangerously unhealthy.

Second, the construction project is proposed to take 13 years and would probably take longer. The main construction staging area is the south end of Bouldin Island. This area is just at the north side of the Potato Slough anchorage. Large docks would be built on the waterways to land the large pieces of construction equipment, including the 40-ft-diameter tunneling machines. There would be blockage of waterways, increased barge traffic, and much dust and noise.

Third, the barge and boat traffic associated with the construction would increase dangers to boating safety. Construction is not just on Bouldin Island. The tunnels would continue under Venice, Mandeville and Bacon Islands, requiring additional large construction projects.

Fourth, there is the potential loss of the beauty of the Delta. The fish, bird and other wildlife species that have strived to exist in the Delta would be harmed to the extent of extinction in some cases.

There are great political, power and money interests at play for and against the WaterFix proposal; however, the balance does not lie in favor of boating or the Delta. Full details of the pros and cons of the project would take ten full issues of Latitude.

There is some ray of hope that the project will fail, at least in the near future. The Westlands Water District (Fresno, Kern County) has voted not to support the project. Thus, other water districts would have to make up the cost for the tunnels and be less willing to vote in favor of the project. Groups such as Restore the Delta (, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance ( and Friends of the River ( are diligently fighting against the tunnel project. Sailors and boaters of all types should become informed and get involved in the fight against WaterFix.

Dave Fries
Kievit, Cape North 43
Stockton Sailing Club

With Svendsen's in Alameda leaving for Richmond, there will be very limited options for marine repairs/haulouts in the East Bay. I know I can't haul at Grand Marina without disconnecting my forestay, nor can I stay aboard when hauled. When the chandlery closes, and it will, it's going to be a pain to drive to Richmond from Alameda to hopefully find parts (we spent almost six months in Svendsen's yard getting a new teak deck along with a Swan 41 of the same vintage named Nuance.

It's sad that the City of Alameda seems determined to erase its long maritime history and drive out marine businesses.

Candy Morganson
Infidel, Swan 44
Marina Village, Alameda

I am interested in finding out about any local classes or seminars on do-it-yourself (DIY) diesel engine maintenance and troubleshooting. I am a solid wrench on gasoline/automotive and marine repair and maintenance and would like to expand my skillset to include diesel power trains.

Michael Law
Serial boater
San Ramon

Eight bells for Captain Paul Kassatkin, skipper of The Pegasus Project for over 20 years, a lifetime sailor and a genuinely nice guy. A passerby found him dead on the morning of October 5 in the water in the marina near the boat on which he lived. Speculation is that he fell overboard the previous night, may have hit his head and drowned, or may have suffered some type of unknown medical event and slipped on the deck of his boat. The crew of Pegasus are all devastated.

Paul's legacy will include the many thousands of kids who got to experience sailing aboard Pegasus under his watchful eye, and the hundreds of crew who got to share his enthusiasm, good humor and love of sailing aboard a classic wooden yacht.

Mark Caplin
Bay Area

As I was drifting with sails down and engine in idle near Alcatraz waiting for the Blue Angels, all of a sudden, I saw this guy, with full sails up, coming full-speed toward me. I could not go forward because there was another boat. So I desperately tried to back up at full RPM. He barely missed me. After I showed him the finger, he yelled at me that he had the right of way.

And this guy wasn't the only one forcing his way through a crowded field of anchored and drifting boats and assuming the right of way because he was sailing and expecting everyone to move out of his way.

I realize that when the sails are down and the engine is running, you're considered a powerboat — and sailboats obviously have the right of way. But it is not clear to me what the rules are in this type of situation.

Mark Johnstone
Ragnar, Catalina 36

Mark — You're right, it should be common sense, as well as common decency. Technically speaking, a sailboat under sail has the right of way over a boat that's motoring (even idling), but the right-of-way boat has to give the 'burdened' boat time and opportunity to get out of the way.

Regardless, all vessels are required to avoid a collision, so even if you have right of way, you cannot (nor should you) barge into a crowd of boats and expect everyone to clear a path. — cw

I saw the article in 'Lectronic Latitude about the fraying mic cord and I have a suggestion. A few years ago, I ran across this stuff called Sugru (available online and at Target stores). It's an air-curing rubber compound that has become a must-have for me. I have the same issue with lots of electronic cords. I simply mold the putty around the fray when it first shows up, and it hardens to rubber in 12-24 hours. The life of the cord can be extended for years.

Donald McIlraith
Walnut Creek

It's not just the microphones of the Icom 802 SSB that are failing. This is off an Icom CommandMic III VHF remote. Perhaps all the Icom mics share a common supplier?

Tom Keffer
Velocity, J/42 (#39)
Portland, OR

I just finished watching Captains Courageous on TCM, (Channel 1755 in Alameda). Once you get past the first 20 minutes of Freddie Bartholomew's 'spoiled brat' there are some really great scenes of schooner sailing and life aboard the fishing vessels. Outstanding!

Frank Swift

I saw Captains Courageous recently — when it was a first-run picture, 80 years ago! Seems like yesterday (or was it the day before?).

Martin Goldsmith

I saw Captains Courageous very recently as I bought the DVD. Fantastic movie in every which way.

Robert Cleveland

Readers and film fans — Captains Courageous was the Latitude Movie Club's third film, but without a doubt, one of the most recommended by our readers. As we sat down to re-watch it for the first time in nearly 25 years, we were worried that it would come across — like some old movies do — as horrendously dated, where you cringe at the quality of acting, the agonizing length of the scenes, and the scratchiness of the film.

But even though it's 80 years old, Captains Courageous felt, well, modern. The dialogue was smart and witty, and the footage of Gloucester schooners sailing for all they were worth got us fired up. — th

Many of us have seen some of our favorite cruising locations in the Caribbean hit hard by hurricanes this fall. Many places we have enjoyed, including yacht clubs, harbors, restaurants and bars — not to mention people's homes — are now just rubble.

As one example, the British Virgin Islands were devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Please support the wonderful people of the BVI as they work to recover by contributing to your favorite relief fund, a few of which are as follows:

— Virgin's BVI Community Support Appeal (Richard Branson/Virgin Unite contributes 100%, no fees).

— VISAR YouCaring Fund, which was created by Virgin Island Search and Rescue.

— Cane Garden Bay Power-Rebuild on is a fundraiser for a well-organized rebuilding initiative for the entire community of Cane Garden Bay.

Also, there are several sites selling BVI Strong T-shirts to raise money for hurricane relief. These communities are resilient and determined to rebuild, but they need our help. Please give what you can to support recovery in your favorite places in the Caribbean so that we may all enjoy this special part of the world again!

Susan Luttrell
Planet Earth

Any way you could publish a list of states that have similar card requirements? I'm in my 60s and a native who no longer wants to help fund this state, so I'm leaving. Can't stand Big Brother telling me what's good for me and at the same time giving rental jet skiers a pass. Probably going to berth in Mexico to avoid all of this B.S., but the list might change my mind. Been a subscriber since the dawn of time.

Curt Simpson

Curt — As of this writing, the United States Power Squadrons says, on their website, that seven states currently do not have a mandatory boater education law: Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Arkansas, Maine and Hawaii.

However, we've heard from a reader in Hawaii who said that as of three years ago, the Aloha State has started requiring boater education, and that it is far more comprehensive than California's forthcoming law (please see the next letter). — th

In 2014, every recreational boat operator in Hawaii was required to get a certificate for boating safety. I did mine online through the BoatUS Foundation. The course took me two days to wade through but it was very comprehensive — I learned a lot. I spent at least 16 hours on the course and the exam at the end. I'm required to keep a copy of the certificate on the boat to produce if asked by the Coast Guard (and I'm guessing the Department of Land and Natural Resources too).

Interestingly, a friend of mine signed up for a course given by the Coast Guard for $80. When he showed up in the morning at 9 a.m., he saw a pile of certificates already made out in the names of the students in the class. The whole course, including the exam, took only five hours. They were taught only the questions in the exam (and the right answers to those questions). I grilled my friend the next day, and he knew next to nothing. I guessed they covered only 15% of the required material, and yet the Coast Guard gave him and everyone else a certificate of competence. I was dumbfounded. What's the point? They are giving away certificates without the education.

As for enforcement, I have not had to produce my certificate, and have not heard of anyone else either. On the other hand I do not use my boat when the Coast Guard is in Kona, I can see them from my house up the hill, the white boat with the stripes behind the bow. Often, a RIB is launched from their boat and enters our small harbor for a shakedown. A couple of years ago, I was heading toward our boat and noticed several Coasties interviewing people moored up or in their berths. I kept on walking past our boat to the end of the pier and a Coastie asked what I was doing here. I put on my best Aussie accent and claimed to be a tourist and walked away. Lots of boats got tickets that day.

David Hume
Scotch Power, Catalina 38
Kona, HI

Thank you for your coverage of Rolex Big Boat Series — I like the combined social plus racing coverage.

The 2017 Rolex Big Boat Series was one of the most exciting, flawless and fun regattas to come out of St. Francis Yacht Club in recent years. The conditions were perfect — sunshine, challenging tides and plenty of breeze for all four days — and the competition kept things exciting. A few leaders ran away with the podium, but most fleets' winners weren't decided until the last day. 

For next year, there are rumors that the Pac52 fleet could double in size, and we've talked to the Santa Cruz 52s about gathering a fleet to match them in numbers. Our general aim is always to accommodate more competitive boats, with more of the best sailors on board. Every year, my plan is to continue that trend. 

Susan Ruhne
Rolex Big Boat Series Regatta Co-Chair
St. Francis Yacht Club, San Francisco

Readers — We heartily enjoyed covering September's Rolex Big Boat Series for the October issue and were grateful for the assistance we received from StFYC's staff and volunteers, and for the tolerance of the busy and tired competitors we bothered with our questions and cameras.

We asked Ruhne if she had any tips for sailors plotting their approach to next year's regatta. "Sign up early, and get your friends to sign up with you," she replied. "Breaking up the fleets, selecting courses and finding berthing for 100 yachts is tough, and the earlier you can help us plan, the better we can make the regatta for you." — cw

I was curious: What happened to Rimas Meleshyus?

Doug Jarmer
Cielo, Catalina 380

Doug — Many of us here were fearing the worst for Rimus, but he showed up in Saipan after nearly three months (of essentially drifting) at sea. Please see 'Lectronic Latitude from October 20 for the full story. — th

I noticed an error in your Changes in Latitudes section story about John Silverwood — his website is You listed it incorrectly as just

I am both a sailor and an engineer at a company that makes prosthetics and has worked with Mr. Silverwood.

Paul Steinert Ph.D.
Freedom Innovations

Paul — Thanks for calling our attention to that error. We referenced Silverwood's website twice in that Cruise Note on page 130 of the October issue — and got it wrong both times. The correct URL is

In case you missed the item about him in last month's magazine, John Silverwood is a San Diego-based sailor who lost a leg in a sailing accident. He undertook a singlehanded voyage to Hawaii in late summer aboard the Ohlson 38 Espiritu Santo in support of GodSwell and the Challenged Athletes Foundation of San Diego. — cw

Wow, how cool! Thanks for sharing the October 18 'Lectronic story about the founders of West Marine and Latitude 38 bumping into each other one night in San Diego. For a little-town Midwestern kid such as myself, with no connections to the West Coast, it tells a great story that shows how small the world is.

Both the Wanderer and Randy reached deep into my life — with the Wanderer informing the path I'm now on. My wife Sue and I currently have our Catalac catamaran Angel Louise at a dock in a state park in northern Alabama on the Tennessee River. So far we have completed 3,500 miles of the 'Great Loop' counterclockwise around Eastern North America. We have less than 1,000 miles left to go before we cross our wake in Florida, and thus become the first boat in history to complete the Great Loop of both Europe and America.

After we started living aboard in Maryland following the dream the Wanderer inspired, and while working as a counsel in the US Senate for two years, I got to work part-time at the West Marine Store in Deale, Maryland.

Years later I discovered St. Barth and the British Virgins cruising grounds that the Wanderer had touted, and met him electronically.

After crossing the North Atlantic and while cruising the Great Loop of Europe, I bumped into and met Randy Repass, along with his wonderful wife Sally-Christine and their son, in Marmaris, Turkey — where Randy unbelievably had a West Marine store. We had cocktails on his boat, which Randy had left in Marmaris during a break in his circumnavigation. Later in the Aegean, while Sue and I were navigating Angel Louise to safety from the path of a forecast Meltemi, we got a call from Randy while underway.

And now reading about the two of you crossing paths in San Diego proves what a small sailing world it is.

Ed and Sue Kelly
Angel Louise, Catalac 12M
Northern Alabama

Ed and Sue — It's an honor for us to feel as though we played even the most minor role in what the two of you have accomplished with your humble boat. We can't wait for the book.

Funny you mention the West Marine store in Turkey, as that was the subject of much of our conversation with Randy at the Italian restaurant in San Diego. It's a hilarious story, not about West Marine really wanting to expand to that part of the world, but of an affluent Turk really wanting to open a store there. — rs

It has always been a mystery as to where the crew's quarters are on big sailboats. Any ship really. We always see where the captain sleeps, and the guest staterooms. But the crew are the real sailors, and they often sleep in cramped spaces and have little space of their own. Sometimes a hatch on a forward deck leads to a crew space with a head for one that seems smaller than on a space capsule. I would like to see an article with photos in Latitude 38, or be pointed to a book or website.

Larry Hertzler
Santa Barbara

Readers — Feel free to chime in with answers. — cw



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