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December 2017

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Dear Poobah: Everybody has a story and I'm sure that this isn't the first time that you've heard one similar to mine. A little over three years ago my wife and best friend, Denise, passed away from a seven-and-a-half year battle with breast cancer. Our plans prior to her diagnosis were to retire early (50-ish) and travel more. We had ventured out on a limited basis during the 25 years that we shared together.

While in hospice, my wife encouraged me to continue to live our dream for the both of us. At the time I couldn't bear to think of doing so without her by my side. As time passed and I began to heal, I decided that I would do the traveling that we'd planned on a sailboat, hence Silk Purse. Over the past few years, I have spent plenty of time and money getting her ready to start living our dream, and part of that preparation was to get more and more cruising experience. I know there will be a lot of tough times ahead, both mental and physical, but the experiences and friendships that I have gained doing your events — two SoCal Ta-Tas and this Baja Ha-Ha — are priceless.

You and your crew have helped me make our dream come true, and I cannot thank you enough for making the first step of my new life as easy as possible. Would I have been able to make this journey without the Ha-Ha rally? Yes. Would it have been as much fun or would I have felt as comfortable as I did making this passage? No! Please know that when I set my hook in Cabo it will mean a hell of a lot more to me than just completing the Ha-Ha. And for that I say "Thank you!"

Jim Holsberger
Silk Purse, Baba 30
San Pedro

My late colleague at Santa Rosa Junior College, Dick Webster, was on the delivery crew that sailed Spirit around from San Francisco to New York. He had several stories about the adventure, but my favorite was when they showed up at the New York Yacht Club flying the St. Francis YC burgee, while looking very 'West Coast', with ragged beards, untrimmed hair and sailing attire that was less than 'spiffy', in a boat with no engine, no galley and no head. They were promptly waved off with a curt "No reciprocal privileges" order by the harbormaster. They ended up at a nearby marina where they pooled their money for the deposit and berth rental but did enjoy hot showers.

Pat Broderick
Nancy, Wyliecat 30

Please come to the party we call 25-133, but don't be late because this party only lasts for 4 minutes and 33 seconds.

It's a longish way to go for such a short party, but on the other hand, it's very hard to get to. Plus, there are no services, or in fact any land, drinking water or food. You bring the party. On the other hand there are no visas required, no permissions necessary and in fact no rules other than the law of the sea.

It's Burning Man without sand, the Monaco Yacht Show without the parking problems, and it is so hard to get to that the people who do show up will be lifetime members of the 25-133 Club and will all receive medals from the President of France (if I can talk him into it). If you have never seen a total eclipse of the sun, this is your chance. We are going to this spot, not in spite of its being difficult, but because it is difficult.

Who are we? Anyone who cares to come. The world is invited, but because it is roughly halfway between Tahiti and Easter Island it's, ahhhh . . . challenging to get there. The nearest island with an airstrip is Mangareva in the Gambier Island archipelago, which is 1,600 kilometers east of Papeete, Tahiti. But 25 South by 133 West is only about 150 kilometers from Pitcairn [an island made infamous by the mutinous crew of the Bounty]. This is the most remotely inhabited spot imaginable (I don't want a lot of noise from Tristan de Cunha — get your own eclipse), and you know you've always wanted to go there.

So far this is just a man with a plan, but I can tell you I will be there, and if there are more interested folks, let's start a discussion that can develop into an event and explode into a movement. Don't let me be the only one getting that medal. Please contact me and let's see how many boats we can get to show up.

Jamis MacNiven
Buck's of Woodside

I read the October 11 'Lectronic article twice, and the text did not seem to correlate with the pictures, since the pictures look like a disaster zone. This made me wonder whether the article was tongue in cheek or misplaced in time, perhaps meaning to be read on April Fool's Day. There seems to be a disconnect, and if that could be clarified in a response, I may place more value in the article. I was so entertained by the project I was sharing the pictures and quotes with colleagues at my office and considering writing an article titled: "Which hole in the water should I throw my wallet into?"

Mike Winter
Planet Earth

Mike — You never know. Over the years we've looked at many people's dream renovation projects with very skeptical eyes and later found, to our surprise, the project was completed and a glistening yacht emerged. Not always. We were just testing the limits of our skepticism. — ja

When I started teaching at Club Nautique in 2000, one of the first bits of advice I got (and passed on to my students) was: Any time a hat blows overboard, turn it into a MOB drill. A few years later, I took a group from work out on my own boat for dinner at Sam's. On the way there, someone passed some chips and dip around, and I took off one of my gloves to partake. Predictably, a few seconds later it blew overboard. Now, the sun had gone behind the Sausalito hills, the light was failing, there was no chance of seeing my black glove from more than a boatlength away. But I called for a drill anyway. Having demonstrated the Figure 8 dozens of times and coached it hundreds of times, I went through the maneuver just relying on timing. We came back on the close reach, dead slow, and there was my glove within easy boathook range.

Yes, I was lucky. But my advice is: Practice, over and over and over. Even if you lose sight of Bob, if you can accurately hit your points of sail and follow the rhythm you've learned, your odds are pretty good.

Max Crittenden
Iniscaw, Martin 32
Formerly San Francisco, now Oceanside

My scary MOB story happened 40 years ago, when I was the MOB. It was a warm, sunny April day. My boss, who lived on Belvedere's West Shore Road, invited my 5-year-old son and me to go sailing in his 16-ft daysailer. The winds were light but enough to let us sail out of Richardson Bay into the middle of the Central Bay. And the wind was enough for the inexperienced skipper to flip the boat, tossing all three of us into very cold water! The good news: My son was wearing his PFD. The bad news: Neither of the adults had bothered, and that I told my son to sit on my shoulders so that I was treading water for both of us. It was quickly apparent that the turtled boat was floating, but that the keel was so slippery it was almost impossible to hang on. It was also clear that the water was cold and that there were very few boats on the Bay.

After about 20 minutes, a man in a small runabout appeared. We tried to flag him down, but it was evident that he knew little about driving his boat as each pass he made put him farther away. Finally, he came close enough that we could transfer my son and then my boss into the boat. But I was finding it increasingly difficult to continue treading water, even without the added weight of my son. They finally threw me a line, but by then, after probably 30 minutes in the water, my hands were too cold for me to grasp the line.

Despite my hypothermic brain, I instructed them to tie a loop in the line and toss it again. But by then I was beginning to go under and to swallow water. Fortunately, I was able to slip my head and arms through the loop so they could pull me to the boat, hoist me over the side, and dump me unceremoniously into the boat like a freshly caught fish. I have no idea what my core temperature was, but it took me the better part of four hours and several hot showers before I began to stop shaking and feel somewhat warm again. Remember, this was April in the Bay, not winter and not the ocean, and it only took about 30 minutes in the water for me to get so hypothermic that I was losing muscle control and coordination and starting to sink and take in water.

This was the closest to drowning I've ever come, and it scared the hell out of me. I now wear a PFD, as well as my harness most of the time, and I was clipped in 99.99% of the time during my Singlehanded TransPac voyage to Kauai!

Mike Herz
Founder, SF Baykeeper
Past Commodore, Singlehanded Sailing Society
Flying Circus, Seawind 36 catamaran
Damariscotta, ME

On a perfect day in La Paz, Baja California, we took our inflatable from a marina out to our Cheoy Lee yawl in the anchorage. I boarded to secure the painter. Returning to the gate, I saw my first mate splash into the water between the dinghy and the boat. To my surprise, she didn't grab onto either the boarding ladder or the dink. I immediately noticed the tidal current was rapidly taking her aft. I tossed her the horseshoe, but she continued to be swept away. The only line at hand was for the jib furler, which was coiled almost at my feet, so I threw that and she grabbed it. All this happened in five seconds or less. She was aboard a minute or two later.

What I did wrong: I could have held the dinghy at the ladder and let her board first. She should have kept her PFD on until safely aboard. What I did right: I had secured the horseshoe buoy to its holder with a slip knot so it came untied quickly.

Mark Wheeles
Dorothy, Cheoy Lee Offshore 40 yawl
La Paz, BCS, Mexico

I totally agree with the need to practice often. I see many boats with Lifesling gear, which is fine, but when I ask what they do once they have the MOB alongside, they sometimes have no plan. This article mentions the freeboard wall, but does not say how they solved their problem.

Scoop transoms are great if you have one. Boarding ladders can work if the MOB is physically able — not injured or exhausted and weighed down by wet clothes, foulies and boots full of water. If you have a ready inflatable dinghy, getting into it could be a way to help pull them out.

What if they are not able to climb out, even with help? On Paladino, my 41-ft ketch, I have two halyards for staysail and chute, and one of them is long enough to reach the water at any point around the boat. There is also a block and tackle with becket and cam cleat attached to that halyard so one person can hoist and guide the MOB without help.

If the MOB can attach the shackle to the Lifesling, fine — but what if they can't do that? Getting down to the water level to do it for them is a major problem — even in flat water. I would rig my boarding ladder, tether myself to the boat, and climb down with the halyard for a one-hand clip-on. Imagine doing that with an MOB who cannot assist in any way, in big seas, without falling in yourself.

My fallback plan is to rig my collision mat or small jib to lifeline stanchions and halyard, lowering it to the water, pulling the MOB into the fold and hoisting with the halyard. I have not tried this, but there are purpose-made products that are similar. One of those is made like a cargo net, letting an able MOB climb out, or letting them be hoisted.

Think it through for plans with and without the help of others. In the tropics it's not so hard to get volunteers to 'fall' overboard while sailing. This can be simulated by a plastic jug with short string and weight to keep it from being blown away, and the MOB goes below. How long before you can get the boat de-rigged so you can reverse course? You have punched the MOB button on the GPS, yes? Rule #1: Stay on board. Rule #2: Read #1. Rule #3: Practice beforehand.

Orlando Furioso
Paladino, Mao Ta Navigator 41
Mooloolaba, Australia

Did you know that the YRA [Yacht Racing Association of San Francisco Bay] has safety requirements about practicing crew overboard maneuvers? The text of the rule 4.2 is: "Annually, two-thirds of the boat's racing crew shall practice man-overboard procedures appropriate for the boat's size and speed. The practice shall consist of marking and returning to a position on the water, and demonstrating a method of hoisting a crewmember back on deck, or other consistent means of reboarding the crewmember."

This is also a rule for the local offshore races and is taken from the US Sailing Safety Equipment Requirements (SER).

No, we don't suggest you push your brother-in-law over the side and go back and get him. Just toss something that floats and go get it. A Lifesling on a halyard is a good way to get someone back on the boat. We practice this hoisting a non-helping crewmember off the dock so they don't need to get wet.

When I was in Sea Scouts in the '70s we practiced MOB drills constantly, as everyone should. As your story points out, if it's scary you are not doing it enough.

Andy Newell
President, SF Bay Offshore Yacht Racing Association
Ahi, Santana 35

During Semana Santa (Holy Week) a couple of years ago, my wife and I were returning to San Carlos, Mexico, from a weekend anchored in a cove 15 miles north. As we sailed into Bahia Algodones, a lovely bay about two miles across, we heard a whistle blowing from somewhere and noticed an orange object in the water a half mile away.

Through binoculars, we saw a man in a life jacket blowing a whistle and waving frantically, his jet ski a hundred yards away, and both of them being blown out into the Sea of Cortez. We transmitted a Pan-Pan on the VHF but got no reply. We started the engine, headed upwind, furled the jib and doused the main, no small task on our 43-ft Serendipity, an IOR boat from the '80s. The whistling and waving grew more frantic as he must have thought we were passing him by, but we headed in his direction only to discover a monofilament fishing net, who knows how long and barely visible, blocking our path.

After skirting around that, we motored up beside the man and snagged him with the boat hook, a 'boat loop', pulled him around to the stern and pulled him up the ladder onto the swimstep and into the cockpit. He kept pointing and speaking in Spanish (ours is limited), until we understood that there was also his female companion, another 100 yards away, needing rescue. We had to dodge another net, but picked her up the same way. They were shivering, a lot, so we wrapped them in towels and blankets. The 'rescate' boat eventually showed up, but we all decided to transfer the survivors at the marina instead of boat to boat.

Lessons learned: Don't fall overboard. I'm not confident that one crewmember could keep sight of the MOB, maneuver our boat around, snag the victim with the boat hook, and assist them into the boat. Especially in any significant seas.
The orange life jackets equipped with whistles were a lifesaver for these two.
The 'boat loop' was a good thing.

Having a ladder easily deployed from a swimstep was a good thing.
Hypothermia can come on pretty quickly, even in Mexico in the springtime. These two were pretty weak.

David Lindquist
Ali'i Kai, Serendipity 43
Seattle, WA

A few years ago three friends and I were returning to Benicia well after dark from a February Corinthian Midwinter. A tug went by just west of Port Costa throwing a huge wake, and soon after we heard cries for help despite the noise of my diesel. Slowing to an idle and steering to their voices — and despite my feeble handheld flashlights and no moon — we found a capsized dinghy with five young men holding onto it. They were Cal Maritime cadets who had been returning from a bar in Port Costa and were flipped by the wake. We dropped the stern ladder and four of them climbed aboard easily.

Even though they hadn't been in the water longer than five minutes, one of them was panicked and hypothermic. Luckily, in addition to the stern ladder, my Hunter 33.5 has transom lockers with a step on either side of the ladder, so two of my friends were able to haul the last guy up and out of the water easily. We got everyone in the cabin and gave them towels and blankets, and had the fire department meet us at the Benicia gas dock. The cadets asked us not to talk to the press for fear of the school's finding out how foolish they were, but I figure enough time has passed; they've since graduated and I can tell the tale. Ironically, that same weekend, the Academy was having a safety at sea seminar. I've been sure to carry a strong searchlight ever since.

Mike Weaver
Kelika, Hunter 33.5
Pleasant Hill

Someone should point out how many hernias are created by people trying to pull themselves up out of the water.

Dr. Rhonda Emmert
Planet Earth

Everyone — We know this: We're not ready for a Man (Woman, Person, Crew, Hat or Beer) Overboard. But this is what we know, and what we know we don't know:
We know that in responding to whatever accident happens it will be 100% harder to deal with than anything we've practiced for. We know that the maneuver to get back to the MOB will likely be more difficult — when done in the heat of the moment — than anything we've practiced. We know a person in the water can fade into the waves and horizon. We know that the water is appallingly colder than we expect, and that whoever's in the Bay will be losing strength and energy fast, and that their life may be in legitimate peril in a much shorter period of time than we can imagine, especially if they don't have a lifejacket on. We know how hard it is to climb back into a boat of any size, so we know that we'll need a ladder, or that we'll have to rig a sling with halyards and winches.

A hallmark of good seamanship is preparing for everything and planning ahead, but also improvising when you really have to. Seamanship means knowing your boat and knowing a few tricks. And it means staying calm, really calm, while the shit is hitting the fan.

And good seamanship means being humble. That means wearing a damn lifejacket, and if you're taking out friends who have never sailed before, taking time to help them stay safe while out on the water. Good seamanship means respecting the water, which should be easy in San Francisco, because it's so gnarly. It means spending money on some recovery equipment. And yes, it means practicing, or at the very least taking the opportunity to go after your hat when it goes overboard. Have we thought of everything here? Certainly not. We're also aware that most MOBs don't occur when you're racing or in the thick of it, because that's usually when you're paying the most attention. No, an MOB is more likely to occur when you're taking that slow sail back to the club. More often than not, you've shed your lifejacket, cracked a beer, and are shooting the shit with everyone. Your guard is down. You're cruising downwind when, all of a sudden, there's an accidental jibe and SPLASH!

It's easy to be prepared, when you're prepared. It's much more difficult to be on your game out of the blue. One of our sailing mentors used to throw a lifejacket overboard at precisely those moments, when everyone had a drink in hand, when their attention was somewhere else. The cry of MOB forced people to immediately shift gears. Instincts and practiced skills were triggered, but improvisation was always required because the situation — like every MOB scenario — was unique.

Thanks for your stories and responses, and thanks to Jaci Urbani, whose October 20th 'Lectronic sparked some serious discussion about MOB preparedness. Stay safe out there. — th

I've been a 'Parrothead' since long before there was such a thing. As a lifelong sailor, his influence on me can't be overstated. Now for a true story:

Jimmy played the Key Arena in Seattle in October 2012. Of course, I was at the show. The next evening, I learned that Jake Shimabukuro (the ukulele virtuoso) happened to be performing a solo show at Seattle's Benaroya Hall. My wife Judi and I rallied and decided this was a gig we couldn't miss. We arrived a little late, and everyone in the front lobby had already taken their seats. I was rushing Judi along so we could get seated before the doors were closed.

But then Judi says, "Hey look, there's Jimmy, over there." Of course, I paid her little attention as I wanted to get seated. Then she said it again, this time a little more emphatically, "Jimmy Buffett is over there by that table. Really!" I thought it was worth a quick glance over.

As Judi is right so may times, sure enough, he was behind a table hawking Jake's CDs and talking to a couple of people. Now as much as I wanted to get seated, Jimmy trumped (no political pun intended) Jake. So we wandered over to do a little 'shopping'.

As soon as we arrived at the table, the two people Jimmy had been talking to wandered off and it was just us. As a conversation starter, I mentioned we'd been to the show the previous evening along with our two daughters. Jimmy said he hoped he hadn't offended my girls when he sang the infamous Why Don't We Get Drunk. I told him it wasn't anything they hadn't heard before on the house stereo. Jimmy smiled with some relief.

We chatted for a few more minutes (I used to work in the music industry as a sound recording engineer for A&M Records), before someone behind us asked if we'd like to have our picture taken. Judi thrust her iPhone in the pedestrian's hands, and he snapped a shot.

Derek duNann
Far Niente, Westsail 42
Seattle, WA

I thought you meant Jimmy B was coming after this Salt Shaker, shown [on the next page] at Tinsley Island.

Dick Robinson
Salt Shaker, Cape Dory 36

Readers — We had some fun when Jimmy Buffett played a show in San Francisco in October, and said that, not unlike Captain Ahab, Jimmy Buffett had tracked down his own white whale, a lost shaker of salt. But then we thought how sad that would be — an endless, existential search is far more significant and worthy of our attention than a journey with a discernible end. — th

Absolutely. Larry wasn't the problem in 2013. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors had their heads where the sun don't shine and didn't take advantage of a good thing when they had it.

David Talton
Saty, Cal 2-46
San Francisco

Absolutely yes I would attend a Larry Cup if held in San Francisco. And, yes, the City did not try hard enough to get AC35. Chalk it up to "progressive" politics.
Dick Robinson
San Francisco

Why would you not want to see it? Fast action in the best venue in the world!
Pat Benedict
Advantage3, J/105

So this would be the cup for the losers of the America's Cup? Larry's Losers? Definitely has a ring to it.
James Chie

I have no interest in foiling cats.
Monohulls yes!
Chris Curtis

Heck, I'm in Florida and I would drive out to see the event.
Michael Staudt

Readers — We reported in 'Lectronic Latitude on October 23 that Larry Ellison was rumored to be in the process of starting a new racing circuit. According to an October article in the English publication The Register, "Ellison is planning a world series with events held across the world." Yachting commentator Rob Mundle said that, "Teams from the USA, Sweden, Japan and France are now 'committed to the event.'"

As these Letters attest, most people were excited at the prospect of the event and expressed general positivity at the idea of Ellison as a ringmaster. Frankly, this surprised us. We believe that moving the Cup to Bermuda was simply a bad choice. As 2013 demonstrated, San Francisco Bay is objectively one of the best places in the world to sail an America's Cup. Larry had the opportunity to hold it here again, and despite the challenges posed by the Supervisors, we believe a follow-up Cup on the Bay was possible.

And yes, we witnessed firsthand the challenges posed by San Francisco Supervisors while sitting through mind-numbing City Hall meetings, as we joined many local sailing organizations all voicing our support for the Cup. However, we didn't see the ACEA building political relationships, nor building much support with the local sailing community. While 2013 was undeniably Ellison's America's Cup, much of the ACEA leadership was from Europe, Australia or New Zealand. Support for local youth sailing, which could have been a PR coup, came late and was very limited. Some small gestures could have gone a long way (and it takes two to tango).

There are already loads of fabulous forums to watch high-speed, innovative, high-tech race boats with professional sailors challenging each other at the top end of the sport. Unfortunately, none of them are happening in San Francisco, and we should certainly have one of these high-end events on the Bay. But the sailing world is relatively crowded, and there are only so many billionaires to go around. — ja

The much discussed SF Challenge never materialized. Remember? It was going to be a modernized 12-Meter fleet racing our fair Bay. Lots of money and interest, I thought. So what happened? Would be interesting to see some coverage in our favorite rag.

Charlie Pick
Box of Rain, J/105

Charlie — Unfortunately, the San Francisco Yacht Racing Challenge appears to have lost its momentum. Despite the energetic efforts of its founder, Tom Ehman, a strong supporting cast of volunteers, and early enthusiasm from many sailors looking forward to a truly international competition aboard beautiful Super 12s crewed from different countries in the spectacular conditions of San Francisco Bay, the event just wasn't able to attract the entries it needed.

But we have to ask, does the sailing world need another event? As we said in our comments about the 'Larry Cup' above, there are loads of big-money, grand-prix events out there including the Vendée Globe, the TP52 circuit, the Volvo Ocean Race, super-yacht regattas, J Class yachting, the Extreme Sailing Series and, of course, the America's Cup. If you're a person with the interest and funds to participate at the top end of the yachting world, there's no shortage of places to invest your time and money.

Sailing can be peculiar in this way. Everyone has great ideas about what events will capture the imagination of the world, which are generally built around a new variation of a sailboat. Tennis, for example, doesn't have this problem. It's hard to imagine the tennis world introducing new events built around redesigned rules, rackets and courts. Somehow, the sailing community thinks there's some as-yet-undiscovered boat design that will reinvigorate an interest in sailing. That magic boat design is sailing's holy grail.

And we love watching this quest. The foiling boats in the America's Cup entertained, for a while (and the cats obviously drew interest from the general public, but seemed to alienate the monohull crowd at the same time). The Volvo Ocean Race is one of the first things we check when we wake up. Foiling Moths and kiteboards are awesome, and seeing a Gunboat catamaran, MOD70s and an ORMA 60 racing in the Transpac is stunning. But most of that is fleeting for many sailors. We think the SF Yacht Racing Challenge would have been an exciting, interesting international event to have on San Francisco Bay every year, and we're sorry it didn't find the support it needed.

However, right now we're putting the finishing touches on the 2018 Northern California Racing Calendar, which literally includes nearly 1,000 local events, most of which happen on 50 weekends. This includes numerous one-design classes, offshore racing, PHRF racing, Pac52 racing, Mercurys, classics, 110s, youth and dinghy classes. We think most sailors would probably rather spend their weekends sailing than watching other people sail in the multitude of events that already exist.

Until someone comes up with that magic design to transform sailing, we'll enjoy the Bay on one of the myriad designs currently available. — ja

Dear Latitude: We're writing to let you know that we are retiring and have closed Metal Magic. February 1, 2018, would be our 37-year anniversary. We decided to close very recently, and very few people know. It's sad because we have no way to let our customers know and to thank them for all the great years we've had because of them.

Craig and Teri Craig Stiles

Our group Save Alameda's Working Waterfront (SAWW) is seeking a volunteer land-use attorney to look over the lease held between the City of Alameda, CA, and Pacific Shops, Inc., which holds the contract for the Tidelands Trust area of Alameda Marina. We may also ask for additional opinions as time nears for the city to make its final zoning decisions regarding development on this and the adjoining property, which is privately held.

SAWW is a group of activists composed of Alamedans and boating enthusiasts who have been working to preserve the commercial and recreational economic ecosystem that currently exists at Alameda Marina. A housing development is planned to offset the cost of maintenance required in the lease. We maintain there is enough land to satisfy the needs of all stakeholders. The scorched-earth policy of the developer is not necessary, and the number of housing units proposed far exceeds the cost of the required maintenance.

If you are interested in working with us, please send us a brief note offering your services to SAWW, PO Box 6413, Alameda, CA 94501.

Nancy Hird

Nancy — We'll go out on a limb here and say that the best feature of the Bay Area . . . is the Bay. So it's crowded, expensive, has housing shortages, and, because everyone wants to be near the water, there's tremendous pressure to develop along the shores of our beautiful Bay.

But we'll never understand how decision makers can be so shortsighted when it comes to re-purposing waterfront. It would be an aesthetic blight, a crying shame and an insult to the people and the history of the Estuary if yet another batch of expensive luxury condos were built on waterfront lands where our forebears built a unique maritime legacy, helped win a world war, and continue to support sailors every day. The cost of setting aside parts of the planned development for preservation of Alameda's working waterfront would be minimal, and the long-term benefits invaluable. But most importantly, it's just the right thing to do.

One of our favorite reasons to live in the Bay Area is the 'lifestyle' it offers through access to the Bay, the mountains and the coast. But as the waterfront gets converted to living quarters, there's less access to sailing. We respect that there are lots of people and competing interests, but it seems difficult to find a reasonable balance, especially in the case of the Pacific island of Alameda, where waterfront recreation and jobs associated with it should be a major factor in planning.

One thing waterfront cities often forget is how waterfront access can be one of the most important resources they can offer their community. Cities struggle to find flat land to build soccer fields, softball fields, parks, etc. By simply preserving a few scraps of shoreline, municipalities can open up thousands of acres of a blue, liquid playground that they don't have to water, mow, weed or care for in any way. — ja

About 25 years ago in the Bay Area, before I had my own boat, I found that racing was simply a good way to get out on a boat and to go sailing. Now, after owning a few boats (non-racers), I still do a full season every year.

Racing forces you to go out on less-than-perfect days and sail courses that might not be easy and dry, but help you learn and build your skills. Summer Beer Cans are like having a practice race every week. I race mostly out of Tiburon Yacht Club, because its Friday night summer races are the best way to start the weekend. My favorite regattas are the Great Vallejo Race and the Jazz Cup — those are the fun ones, when there's wind!

Greg Clausen
Free Spirit, Beneteau Oceanis 390

First, I race simply to have a purpose in my sail; second, to expose new crew to the experience; third, to keep the boat tuned up and ready; fourth, to join other competitors in an event; finally, to finish well.

So, it's a pretty casual experience for me. Well, at least it should be. But I still want to leave other boats to my transom and get on a podium, so I do choose to compete where I have some reasonable chance. And, I keep an eye on the rating when I think in terms of equipment.

Now, as my crew and I are older, I am competing less. Regattas I enter now will be just for fun. Maybe.

Rick Dinon
Attitude Adjustment, Hunter Legend 40.5
Long Beach

A little suggestion for helping the hurricane-wrecked recover: In 'Tude and elsewhere, we read that the best aid is to go to blown-away islands as tourists as soon as they're able to receive us, to bring the devastated resorts and region our business. For those of us in the Northwest and elsewhere seeking escapes from our respective winters, it would be great if in six weeks or so we read a piece telling who and where is able to receive our business.

Thanks for keeping us updated!

Brooks Townes
Seattle, WA

Brooks — Good question. It's an evolving story as charter companies and shore facilities sort out the tangle. That said, the first post-Irma and Maria charters will be going out as this issue hits the stands. The challenge for would-be charterers won't be the sailing conditions, but rather the fleet size and access to amenities.
When chartering started to really catch on in the '60s and '70s, most of the Caribbean had very limited services. We sailed there in 1976 when Foxy's was just a few palm fronds over a few boards comprising the 'bar', with a cooler full of beer and a jar for your money. It was simple, and simple was one of the best reasons to go.

This year it may be difficult to find a charter boat, but it will be easy to find a mooring in an uncrowded anchorage. The shoreside amenities and lodging will be limited, but, if you're not dependent on modern conveniences, we think you'll find the breeze, blue sky, sunshine, snorkeling and swimming to be just fine. The hills — blasted brown during the storms — are already turning green again. We know some of our readers are headed down there soon, and we look forward to sharing their reports.

We also spoke to Lin Crook of TMM Yacht Charters, who will be sending their first charter boat out on December 7 and will have five new catamarans in their fleet shortly, with more on the way. Lin sent a report from Kristiann and Graham Gips of the charter boat Allende, who said the Soggy Dollar bar, The Top of the Baths restaurant and Leverick Bay are just some favorites that have reopened.

Other favorites, such as the Bitter End Yacht Club, are still closed. Anegada, the northernmost island in the BVIs, was spared the worst, and almost every bar and restaurant there reopened for the November lobster festival.

Like for those early cruisers and charter boats in the '70s, this year will be more about adventure and exploration. If you're lucky enough to find a boat, we think you'll find plenty to enjoy. — ja

Based on what I read in Latitude, I too have questions about what happened aboard the Sea Nymph that caused her to be lost at sea for several months. The following paragraph in Latitude (taken from the Washington Post) makes absolutely no sense:

"Appel and Fuiava reportedly lost their engine after 'a bout of inclement weather,' according to the Washington Post. The two women tried to sail the rest of the way but 'soon found themselves lost.'"

OK, besides nothing, what in the world does losing the engine have to do with getting lost? Either the Washington Post writer has no knowledge of sailing or navigation or something is really fishy here. Why did Sea Nymph get lost? Was the GPS broken? If so, was there only one GPS? It seems that even by just dead reckoning, they should have gotten a lot closer to the Marquesas than 900 miles off the Japanese islands.

I really question the sailing and navigation competence of the Sea Nymph crew if this story is being accurately reported. The reasons given for Sea Nymph's being lost at sea for so long and being so far off course just don't make sense.
And another thing: They survived a shark attack? Does that mean that an air-breathing shark jumped on deck and was trying to eat them? This story makes the least sense of any story I've ever read in Latitude, and I've been reading on and off for about 22 years.

Jeff Hoffman

I will use the recent discussion about the rescue of the Sea Nymph to share some of my thoughts on what I see as our community responsibilities to our completely voluntary, recreational sport.

We are largely unregulated, and I wish to keep it that way. It is my take that regulations/authorities appear as a reaction to abuse/excess/problems. I believe that these two mariners should have been told by their sailing community that their plans were unwise in a multitude of ways, and should have been strongly discouraged from leaving. I want to suggest that every experienced sailor who knew of their plans had some community responsibility to actively and strongly discourage them from departing. I say this for multiple reasons:

1. They were lucky not to have died, and it was predictable and likely they would get into trouble.

2. People who need rescuing at best incur great expense on the part of the SAR [Search and Rescue] assets and at worst put them in danger.

3. If we do not police/supervise our sport, I worry others will move in and do so (could you picture a bureaucratically administered 'offshore license' necessary to sail to Bermuda?)

4. Ours is a sport best learned in a guild or apprenticeship-like manner, where those with experience pass their knowledge along. Book knowledge and self-taught skills can only take you so far. This entails a willingness on the part of those learning to actively search out mentors in areas where they need more experience. Concomitantly, those with expertise need to be available, even forthcoming, and maybe even a bit forceful in educating others — especially when observing dangerous practices or intentions.

In my mind, we have a tremendous responsibility when we venture offshore. This is especially the case if you carry radios, EPIRBs, satphones or other devices with the intention of calling for help if you get into trouble. This responsibility becomes even more magnified when crew or guests are relying on the skipper and believe the proposed trip is safe.

Dick Stevenson
Alchemy, Valiant 42
East Coast

There's been a lot of discussion about the two women who were 'miraculously' (the word used by a local TV talking head this morning) rescued (that too should be in quotes) 900 miles off Japan after five months at sea on a passage intended to be from Honolulu to Tahiti.

This does not compute.

Did they leave Honolulu intending to power all the way to Tahiti? Did they not know how to sail? Did they not know how to navigate? Did they not have any backup navigation systems? Why would anyone provision for a year for a passage of less than 2,500 miles?

In the video of the 'rescue' the mast is upright. The uncovered mainsail is tied to the boom. The headstay and backstay are in place. So seem to be the shrouds. The furling jib is furled on the headstay. There is a wind generator and what seem to be solar panels near the stern. The hull is intact. I cannot see the rudder, but there has been no report that it was broken. If it was, there is this thing called 'jury-rigging'.

The mother of one of the women describes her daughter as 'resourceful'. Right. I can conceive of only two possibilities: Either these people are so stupid they are pitiable and need a court-appointed guardian, or they did it to attract attention, in which case they are a great success, and despicable. At the very least they should be charged with cruelty to animals.

Webb Chiles
Gannet, Moore 24
St. Louis, MO

So why did we never hear about a search and rescue operation? None of the news media picked it up to my knowledge; I never saw even a small article saying they were missing. I have a friend who is sailing from LA to Sydney via Hawaii on a boat about that size, but, unlike these two, the crew on that boat is actually experienced, and they have an EPIRB, two satphones, a liferaft, spare equipment, solar, etc. This isn't a voyage you undertake lightly, and it seems these two didn't even know how to use a compass.
Robert Bents

Step 1: Buy shitty boat. Step 2: Outfit it so it's comfortable for five months in broken boat. Step 3: Get rescued after five months and sell movie rights for millions. Hopefully they will fail at Step 3.
Mic Heynekamp

They should go party with Rimas [Meleshyus].
Fred Von Stieff

If the book ever gets published, the government should put a lien on any of its earnings to recoup some of the money we spent 'rescuing' them.
Kenneth Tobin

This story is not weird. It's garden-variety lies covering dumb. Please do not inspire others, who should stay on the dock, in replicating their behaviors.
Kris Leverich

Let's be honest; we all know at least one sailor who would look even worse on paper if you really dug into their history.
Chad Hedstrom

What a surprise! Said no sailor, ever.
Peggy Droesch

Who cares!
Elle E'Clair

Readers — From the very beginning, long before the inconsistencies and details emerged, many of you predicted where this story was destined to go. And we are at least somewhat guilty of playing along, of being seduced by the siren call of the Sea Nymph. As the dust has settled, we're not sure what conclusion to come to about Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava. Did they plan this ordeal all along (one of Appel's novels is said to involve illicit sex on board a boat), did they decide to capitalize on their unfortunate journey by exaggerating it, or do they honestly believe that things went down the way they said? Sorry, but we won't be offering any answers to these questions. We have no idea, and can only question why we — and everyone else — were so captivated.

It's not often that sailing makes it into the mainstream media, but the Sea Nymph seemed to have some of the qualities of what one of our journalism teachers called 'Triumph Over Adversity' stories (or TOAs), which are narratives we all secretly crave: Baby Jessica who fell down the well, the Chilean miners, Sully crash-landing in the Hudson — stories about people snatched from the jaws of death. "I think one reason the mainstream media likes the story so much is because the putative skipper, Appel, is outgoing, loves to talk, and has a talent for hyperbole, and plays perfectly off her more introverted partner, Fuiava," wrote Charles Doane on, in one of the more measured responses.

To be sure, the Sea Nymph was never a TOA story, because, from the start, it had other qualities we all love (though we may be loath to admit our guilty pleasures): intrigue, suspicion, and increasingly sordid, bizarre details. Everyone seemed to revel as the story unraveled, and the very news organizations that had indulged in and even celebrated Appel and Fuiava's unlikely drama were the same outlets that called the story into question. It was an instant and complete media frenzy. "Talk about an incredible tale of survival," the Today Show said in late October, sounding legitimately astonished by the sensational-ness of it. Local news stations in Philadelphia and Montana reported on the Sea Nymph in their 6 O'clock News broadcasts — again, at first for the triumph, and, soon after, for the fall.

But when Appel and Fuiava appeared "exclusively" on the Today Show on November 8, they'd already been defending their account for nearly a week, and the interview felt a little embarrassing, as if they were children being scolded. Matt Lauer asked, "After going through what you did, does it bother you when you come back, people question whether this happened in the Pacific Ocean, or existed [pointing to his head] somewhere up here?" Appel replied, "We didn't ask for this, but we're enjoying the ride." A few days later, the story went full on Fifty Shades of Grey when the Daily Mail reported that Appel had a history of crashing boats and weird behavior, and was an erotic novelist, professional dominatrix, exotic dancer, landscape architect and organic farmer.

Regarding some of your letters: Why did we never hear about a search and rescue operation? In fact, we reported that a Be On the Look Out had been issued for the Sea Nymph on June 7, though it was one of our readers who reminded us of this fact. Another reader asked us why we quoted an outlet that said after a bout of inclement weather the Sea Nymph tried to sail the rest of the way but "soon found themselves lost." The reader asked: "Did they not have GPS?" To be sure, there were lots of odd and poorly fleshed-out details that emerged the first few days, as well as downright inaccuracies.

We called the Sea Nymph a Morgan 45 in June, while almost every news outlet has called it 50 feet. Wavetrain says the boat is almost certainly a Starratt & Jenks 45. We did hear stories, which were later echoed by the Daily Mail, of Appel's running boats aground. A Coast Guard public affairs officer in Honolulu could only tell us what we already knew (the officer said she'd had an unprecedented, staggering number of calls from the media). We called a boatyard in Honolulu to try to track down the details behind the reported "six tons of fiberglass" Appel said she added to Sea Nymph. The yard was very polite and confirmed that the boat had been in their yard (they believed it to be 46 feet).

And then there was the matter of reckoning with the claims of the Sea Nymph's crew. Before we knew she was an erotic author, Appel offered what seemed like pre-packaged sound bites thick with the aforementioned hyperbole. When asked to describe her emotions after being rescued, Appel was quoted as saying: "How do you describe the color blue to a blind man? . . . There is a true humility to wondering if today is your last day, if tonight is your last night." And then most famously: "We honestly did not believe we would survive another 24 hours in the current situation." That last statement was scrutinized when it was revealed that the Sea Nymph had an EPIRB, but more than that, because it simply defied common sense, as Appel, Fuiava, Zeus and Valentine (the dogs) all looked relatively healthy. Appel was forced to clarify: "The crew of the Ashland saved our lives. Not from the ocean, but from the vessel that was trying to render assistance to us. Had they not been able to locate us, we would have been dead within 24 hours."

That one will never sit well with us.

And then there was the "shark attack," which was described by a major news outlet: as "packs of tiger sharks, ramming into the side [of the Sea Nymph]." Appel was quoted as saying,"They decided to use our vessel to teach their young how to hunt." And then there was the "Force 11 storm," which the crew of the Sea Nymph insisted they endured just a few days out of Hawaii, but NOAA says doesn't appear anywhere in their records. When Lauer pressed this discrepancy on the Today Show, Fuiava literally shrugged and said she was a "heavy sleeper," while Appel said, "Look . . . If you were there, you would say the same thing I did. It really felt a lot bigger."

Everything Lauer asked was swatted away by Appel, who defended her decisions as if those were simply her only options. But when asked if they "would take a trip like this again," Appel replied, "We would take a trip with more preparation." And Fuiava actually said, "You learn from your mistakes," which seemed to be the first acknowledgment that they could have done anything better. We'll admit, we were waiting to hear that — just a little humility, please.

To be sure, we don't think that Appel and Fuiava should go out to sea again — for their own safety, for their dogs, and for the safety of the sailing community as a whole who may be put in legitimate danger by having inexperienced people at sea. We hope they find something else to do, even if it is writing a book about the ordeal. But, to be sure, we won't be reading it.

At this point we believe this is just a tale of a hapless sailor getting in way over her head. Someday we may learn differently, but sometimes the simplest explanation makes the most sense. Appel had dreams far bigger than her experience could make into reality. The story also shows that there's just no substitute for dumb luck. You can practice, prepare and invest in all the best safety gear, but dumb luck, while far less reliable, has an uncanny ability to occasionally rescue the ill-informed and unprepared.

Most (not all) sailors who do go to sea generally have the experience, preparation and respect necessary for a successful voyage. It's too bad all the millions of non-sailors who heard this story in the media frenzy have no idea how many families, couples and cruisers are out there happily flying under the mainstream news' radar. Guess we'll just have to keep that secret to ourselves. — th



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