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January 2018

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I wonder if Mr. Speirs was drowned being dragged through the water by his tether then somehow slipped out of his harness. I hope there is a thorough inquiry. There could be much to be learned from this tragedy.

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

Readers — Mark is referring to the death of a crewmember on the Clipper Race boat GREAT Britain sailing through the Southern Ocean, a few days from landfall in Fremantle, Australia, as reported in the November 20 'Lectronic Latitude. The statement from the Clipper Race organization afterward included the following: "A full investigation will now be carried out, as is standard practice, into the full details of the incident, including the reasons his safety tether did not keep him on board, in cooperation with the appropriate authorities." But an autopsy will not be possible, as Simon was buried at sea. He was wearing his PFD and was supposedly clipped in at the time that he was swept overboard. — cw

October's race was the 20th and final Great Pumpkin Regatta that I have run. I have run them as regattas were often run years ago, with sailors signing up on the morning of the first day when they came to the yacht club. Notices of Race and Sailing Instructions were short and simple. Regattas were fun, but bureaucracy has sapped some of the old spirit and this year actually contradicted part of the Notice of Race.

This message to you is not a request to write an article or to mention me. But if you do, I'd like to leave the idea in this message. The end of the message will mean something to the people who tried to enter the regatta but were told they could not because of an arbitrary and unauthorized cutoff in registration days before the regatta. I spent many hours emailing and on the phone trying to correct the situation but only succeeded in some cases.

I followed the principle of a good hostess who accommodates the needs, both usual and unusual, of her guests as much as possible. The ladies who put on the Saturday night parties were hostesses with the mostess and were great inspirations to me.

The picture of the Latitude 38 staff and the recent articles on the history of Latitude 38 have made the magazine even more of a friend than it has always been.

Eric Arens
Richmond YC

Eric — We've enjoyed the last 20 years of Great Pumpkin Regattas immensely and are grateful for your service to our sport. This kind of dedication to volunteering is what makes it work at the local level.

Racers may rest assured that Eric will continue running RYC's 'Built for Fun' Wednesday night beer can series, and that Fred Paxton, who's been in charge of RYC's Big Daddy Regatta in recent years, will assume responsibility for the Great Pumpkin races.

Readers can find the photo Eric refers to of the Latitude 38 crew in the November issue Sightings, and our report — with lots of fun photos — on the Great Pumpkin in December's Racing Sheet. — cw

I heard the first part of this story from David and Bobbie Coy. When they were living aboard the Friendship Sloop Tia Mia anchored off Sausalito in the late '60s and early '70s, they had a dog named Bear. They fished, so they spent a lot of time offshore with Bear aboard. To keep dog-walking trips to shore to a manageable number when on the hook, they taught Bear to do his business on a square of canvas placed on a side deck. A lanyard secured the canvas to a shroud chainplate, so when the canvas was dirty, they could pitch it overboard. It would wash awhile, then they'd pull it back aboard and lay it down again.

Late one afternoon, they headed ashore in the dinghy, bound for a party. It was a good party. They stayed overnight. The next day they were rowing back to the sloop, David on the oars, Bobbie in the stern sheets. Bobbie began laughing, her eyes on their boat still a ways out. David turned. There was Bear by the shrouds, rump hung over the rail. He was trying to hit his canvas square, which his human had forgotten and left overnight hanging in the water by its lanyard. Bear was a great dog.

Over the years, I've thought of Bear and his canvas, especially one morning 20 years later when my wife and I were anchored in San Simeon Cove with our dog Diesel aboard. It was a warm night, and we left the hatch open. The next morning I discovered that Diesel had done his business on deck ­— the soft runny business of a nervous mutt — right above the boat's head. I thought that was pretty astute for a dog to deduce that's where we went, only the deck was a few feet higher up. I'm not sure what he deduced, of course, but I like the thought. What wasn't so great is he went on my excess anchor rode flaked back and forth along that side-deck to dry. It made me wish I'd made up a canvas square on a lanyard.

Brooks Townes
Seattle, WA

We have trailered our Balboa 27 to the San Juan and Gulf Islands for decades now. In 2008 we took our beloved Manx cat Jessie sailing through the islands. She was such a good cat onboard at 17 years old, even though she was new to a litter box on board. After we tied to a dock, she would walk around and visit other boats and sailors. On the islands she would follow us and check out things and smells of interest to her without a leash attached to her harness and was very responsive to voice commands, better than our dogs. As I raised the anchor she would always look over as if to check and make sure the dinghy was there, knowing it was her way to go to shore. We miss Jessie but we do have very good memories with her.

Harold Anderson
Balboa 27
San Juan Islands

I cannot recall a single event in 40-plus years of boating that was enhanced for me by pets on boats. In fact, the opposite has been common, with experiences similar to those ashore (I have no doubt that a pet mania has caused a net reduction in the vitality of life for all of us, while damaging the natural environment, wildlife and public and private property).

Additionally, I have witnessed pets suffering. For example, large dogs with little room to move (let alone exercise), dogs with thick fur clearly in trouble in high heat and humidity, and dogs needing a toilet having their owners risk lives to go ashore.

I did observe some dogs that appeared to be very happy though battle scarred. They were in a pack, running along an isolated Mexican beach, just after dawn. They barked at everything, including me.

Being human, I could not respond.

P.J. Wall
Huntington Beach

I am writing to relate an ongoing bad boating experience I'm having. I am writing as a word to the wise, or the foolish, as I consider myself to be. I am writing regarding sailing to Hawaii and then trying to sell a boat here. I am also writing as a way of venting, an escape, and perhaps as a method to relieve some of my stress during this very bad situation that I'm in.

I have been the owner of Yetzirah, a 36-ft Columbia sloop in the Bay Area since 2001. From the time that I first bought my boat, I had a dream of sailing it across an ocean. After years of hard work and countless dollars getting the boat ready for such a trip, I finally had the time and money to make the passage this fall. In October, I sailed out under the Golden Gate, headed for Hawaii. I made the crossing to Kona on the Big Island in fairly good time, and arrived at the Kona harbor on the 23rd day of sailing (I went to Kona because that is where an old friend is now living).

My foolishness began well before this trip — I did not properly research what the return trip would entail, especially now that it's late November. My sailing partner I came here with decided to have his wife meet him here, do their own little Hawaii vacation, and then fly home, rather than sail back with me. That had pretty much been the plan all along.

Almost immediately, I started hearing from people in Kona that attempting the sail back to the Bay Area this time of year is a very bad idea. I was told about the northern swells and about gale-force storms that come out of Alaska and would blow down hard on the nose if I tried to sail north before turning east for the West Coast. I was warned of being very wet and very cold, and of 1,000-plus miles of beating into the wind on a close reach or having to do short close-reach tacks as the winds would be on the bow for weeks in a row. I was told repeatedly that I should sell the boat here and fly home.

I decided to talk to a few yacht brokers, because I had heard that a lot of people sail here and then want to sell their boats, so I wondered just how reasonable or realistic it would be to try to sell my boat here. To find a broker interested in listing a boat similar to my boat's vintage, size and description, I went to and did an advanced search within the years that Yetzirah was built, and with location in Hawaii. I then looked at what brokers came up. There were three, and I contacted them all, asking the feasibility of selling in Hawaii. All three were very confident that they could easily sell my boat — especially since it is bluewater ready and just made the passage, but I would need to get the boat to Honolulu, because 1) that is where they were all located, and 2) Honolulu is much more of a sailing community than Kona, because Kona is in the lee of the Big Island.

I also spoke to the one yacht broker in the Kona marina, and he basically said the same thing — adding to this, there was no slip availability in Kona (I had a two-week temporary slip, but needed to vacate at the end of those two weeks). There was also an on-the-hard storage in Kona that I investigated, but the costs were very high, and there were no spaces available anyway.

I made the trip to Honolulu. It took five days, and I encountered some of the roughest winds and waves on the entire trip since leaving San Francisco. For basically the entire way to Honolulu, the winds and waves were straight on the nose. I often travelled at night because the winds tend to die down then in the channels between the islands. During the day, the winds and waves between the islands were ferocious. The vast majority of that trip north was spent motoring, because, as noted above, the winds were always straight on the nose.

I arrived in Honolulu at the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor where the brokers work from, but was immediately informed by the marina that there were no slips or mooring balls available. In Ala Wai there are three main docks: the state-run facility that had no availability and two private yacht clubs that also had no available spaces. I spoke with the harbormasters at the private yacht clubs who informed me that even if a space were available, they would charge me $1.50/ft/day. And they measure from the bow-rail to the back of the windvane, which would make my 36-ft boat more like a 39-ft boat. At $1.50/ft/day that comes out to $1,755.00-$1,813.50 per month. In addition, they require that I obtain Hawaiian registration and Hawaiian insurance, have a full survey (about $250), and repair any faults the surveyor finds — and it is also recommended to have a diver once a month to keep the tropical growth down. This all adds up to a very expensive slip rental. But then again, there were no slips available.

However, at this point, despite the costs, I would have been very happy to have a slip. I am presently living at anchor, or sneaking in to the marina and tying up illegally. I have no access to water, I have no access to a shower, and it is blazingly hot here (for all the climate-change deniers out there, believe me, climate change is in full effect here in the southern climes). As I walk around the marina, I see boat after boat for sale, particularly those that are not of Hawaiian origin, which are literally rotting away in their slips.

The broker I have been working with claims to be doing all he can to find a slip, and daily he has a new angle: A guy he knows just sold a boat, but still holds claim on the slip and might lease it to me, etc. However, none of these avenues have worked out. I have called every other marina on Oahu, and, if anyone actually answers the phone, I receive the same story: no availability. I am incredibly stressed. I am paying slip rent back in the Bay Area; I am seeking slip fees here that are astronomical. Just to apply to perhaps obtain a slip at one of the other marinas requires jumping through a series of hoops that are so many in number and held so high that the process seems it will take weeks and weeks, with no promise of a slip after a $250 application fee, full survey and its fees, repairs needed as noted by the survey (a new insurance policy here in Hawaii even though my mainland insurance covers Hawaii), Hawaiian state registration with all the red tape which that involves, a full financial report from my bank that does not operate in Hawaii, all my tax records from the last two years, and I'm sure some other requirements I have not remembered or encountered yet. All of that just to apply.

At this point, my regret of ever coming to Hawaii is so deep and profound that I'm considering this venture to be perhaps one of the worst decisions and predicaments that I have ever made or found myself in. I really fear losing my boat and receiving basically nothing in exchange for it after all the slip fees, broker's percentage, taxes, etc. — and that is if I get very, very lucky and actually obtain a place to slip or moor the boat. And that's if the boat actually ever sells, rather than being yet another vessel rotting away in its slip, month after month, (year after year?) with no one to look after her or even to keep the deck washed off, all at a cost of thousands of dollars per month.

I have even inquired about donating my boat to a charitable organization just to receive the market value tax write-off rather than trying to sell the boat, because the fact of the matter is, I have nowhere to put the boat! So, the idea of actually selling the boat here is, at this point, merely a fantasy.

So, a word to the wise: Don't follow my foolish, self-destructive path to Hawaii! I would advise to stay well away from Hawaii unless you can absolutely sail the boat home again. The marinas here are jam-packed with no availability; a large proportion of the boats that are slipped here are eyesores of worthless junk, unmaintained, unwashed and falling apart. The water in this harbor is full of trash, the docks are literally falling apart, there is no pumpout and boats are simply dumping human waste into the harbor, there is little to no security or gates around the harbor or docks whatsoever — I have heard many stories of homeless people moving aboard, or boats that are routinely broken into. The old adage of "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" is so true. The real boat owner's sailing paradise is the Bay Area. A large part of that paradise is adjacent to the actual boating itself: the abundance of well-maintained marinas, trash-free waters, readily available pumpouts, security at marinas, and all for reasonable prices. Any idea of Hawaii being a boat owner's paradise is a tremendous misrepresentation. For me, Hawaii has been a boat owner's worst nightmare.

I want nothing more than to get the heck out of Hawaii now. However, I am trapped here with a boat I have no place to dock — a boat I dearly love, and am completely heartbroken about losing. But at this point, my desire to leave Hawaii far outweighs my sadness over losing my boat.

Douglas 'Diego' Anthony
Yetzirah, Columbia 36
Honolulu, HI (for now)

Aloha Douglas — Sorry to hear of your misfortune and bad experiences in Hawaii. It pains me, because most residents, including this writer, love living and sailing here. Making a crossing and then selling a boat can always be a bit hit or miss, but even more so in Hawaii, whose harbors tend to collect a lot of 'junk' that sails from the horizon and never leaves. I'm not calling your boat junk, but when trying to sell a boat here, one must recognize that there is an issue of ever-increasing supply and a static level of demand, an issue compounded by a shortage of available permanent slips.

Unless your vessel stands out in some way, or you get lucky, it can be hard to move a boat in Hawaii. Case in point, after completing the 2012 Singlehanded Transpac on a Moore 24, I planned to sell the boat in Honolulu. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't unload it for a decent price, and opted to ship it home to San Francisco where I had buyers standing in line. On the other hand, when I soloed my old Cal 29 out to Honolulu in late 2015 and decided to sell the boat the following summer, I sold it for top dollar in two days. Hawaii can be a hit or miss market for sailing in and selling up. There are a handful of local brokerages that can help: I have a close friend who represents Ala Wai Yachts (, but there are other options as well. I generally buy and sell my boats on CraigsList Honolulu.

As for the problems that you have had finding a slip and the hoops you've had to jump through — I've had a different experience. There are slips available, right now, if you know where to look. You should be able to find a temporary slip (for up to 120 days per year) in Ala Wai Harbor. About four miles west in Keehi Lagoon; you should be able to get a slip in the state-run harbor, at Keehi Marine Center, and potentially at La Mariana Sailing Club. The harbor next door to the Ala Wai, Kewalo Basin, is under a long-awaited renovation, and there will be more slips available next year. But for the time being, the displaced boats from Kewalo continue to fill up other harbors. Furthermore, you can get a slip at Ko Olina Marina or at Waianae boat harbor on the west side. (I own a Peterson 34 on Oahu, and move it around frequently. I don't have a permanent slip and am in a perpetual state of doing the 'Oahu shuffle'. It's annoying sometimes, sure, but totally doable!)

In your precise situation, however, you are entitled to 120 days per year at any state harbor, and there are three or four on Oahu that could accommodate you (Ala Wai, Keehi, Waianae, which has permanent slips available, and possibly Haleiwa). Because it's the end of the year, you could stay through 2017 and then the first four months of 2018 before moving to a different harbor. And the prices are cheap! I pay something like $14/day to keep my 36-ft boat (including the windvane) in state harbors. This works out to roughly $420 a month. Living onboard is totally legal since you are a transient sailor in a transient slip, though some fees will apply (oftentimes it's an extra $2/day).

All that's required to keep a boat in a harbor in Hawaii is a current registration and liability insurance that meets certain minimums. My standard liability plan through Progressive worked just fine when I sailed multiple boats into Hawaii. There are out-of-state and foreign boats all over Hawaii, and none of them have been forced to re-register the boat, pay for a survey, etc. I am not sure where you got your information, but, sadly, it's just wrong.

But there is some sticky red tape and bureaucracy: Due to the derelict boats rotting away in slips that you mentioned, some of the non-state-run harbors (namely Keehi, La Mariana, Ko Olina and Kewalo) do require financial information, but this is not a major hurdle and is easy to overcome provided you have a bank account with a few grand in it. As for the $250 application fee, I've only ever paid $50.

For all its problems, and there are many here — including lack of slips, run-down infrastructure, exhaustive bureaucracy, etc. — Hawaii is a great place to sail and cruise. Like any destination, you've found out the hard way that we get seasonal change here too, even in the tropics. Take for example your five-day upwind slog from Kona to Honolulu, which is normally a fun, downwind sleighride when the trades are blowing, which is about 80% of the time (though it's much more consistent in the summer). I did that same trip in June in 25 hours and only had to run the motor for an hour in the lee of Lanai.

The same holds true for the return trip. While I would agree that sailing back to the mainland in the winter is probably a very bad idea, the trip can be lovely in the summer. For all the sailing I've done, a summer trip from Honolulu to California was perhaps the best. We took a long reach to the high before we got westerlies and carried a spinnaker across for two days. Brilliant!

Sorry for your misfortune and suffering in Hawaii, but in defense of this beautiful island chain that I call home, I must help set the record straight. There are definitely challenges here, but for those seeking adventure, big blue water, a very doable return route to the mainland — and the incredible natural beauty of Polynesia with all the comforts of America — Hawaii is pretty hard to beat. Gotta run, the surf is firing just outside the harbor entrance!

Ronnie Simpson
Quiver, Peterson 34
Honolulu, HI

Seems to me that these "record breakers" are missing something. Comparing their records to clipper ships that carried tons of goods and passengers and had to make a profit or go under (which they did) is a false comparison. Comparison to the person/boat that set the modern record is reasonable, but comparison to the original clipper record is only interesting in that there is a large difference.

Gil Davidson
Rosinante, Catalina 30
Alamitos Bay

I love these oceangoing race boats. Here is a shot of Maserati in Honolulu I took a couple weeks ago. She is now in the water and rigged in Ala Wai Harbor.

Mark Bidgood

Readers — When Giovanni Soldini and his team announced that Maserati would attempt to break the 'Tea Route' record — a trading route sailed by clipper ships from Hong Kong to London — we were more than a little excited. We are admittedly biased, as we're huge fans of Soldini and the whole Maserati program, and these record-setting attempts tend to be a breath of fresh air from the politics and egos of major regattas and events. What's more, we find the historical context of these record attempts very compelling.

But Gil — You make an excellent point in that these modern attempts in modern boats are in no way comparable to the Golden Age of Sail. The clipper ships were on the clock and trying to turn a profit, and that's to say nothing of the differences in technology, which are too vast and numerous to name. Unless an aspect of global trade returns to sail (and abstains from using the canals near the equator), we will never see anything like the clipper era again.

Still, we think adding a layer of history and storytelling to a speed challenge makes things more interesting and gives us a chance to contemplate a bygone era and the bygone mariners who populated it. After Maserati the monohull smashed the 'Gold Route' record from New York to San Francisco in 2013 — a record that had been held by the clipper ship Flying Cloud for 135 years (until 1989) — Soldini praised Cloud navigator Eleanor Creesy, breathing life into a character not well known and not often spoken of.

And we just think that's cool. — th

No, not the Volvo, not the other 'pro' races. Not the America's Cup. Clipper Cup, no. Not interested in some guy sailing at 40 mph. The high-powered PR types that pump out their hype don't help. I'm not interested in anything that 'foils'.

I'm just interested in local racing, where I can identify with the boats and crews that sail them. Boats I might have sailed on in my younger days, with 'human' folks more my level of racing. I love it that the Cal 20s have staged a comeback, for instance.

As a side note, I'm not interested, never been interested, in the Baja Ha-Ha — Ba-whatevers, either. My cruising in Mexico and beyond was before things were organized like a tour group. Ditto for the Delta.

Come to think of it, I'm not too hot on tour groups, either. There's nothing like a good tourbook, a folding map and a good pair of shoes for finding interesting places to visit and get to know about. An umbrella frequently comes in handy, too.

So, I don't read 60% or more of the stories in the modern Latitude 38 or most canned PR pieces in Scuttlebutt (it was a lot more interesting with its founder and real 'curmudgeonly' tone). I look for the local stories, Max Ebb's sometimes knotty tales, and I even read the Classifieds (though I'm not in the boat-buying market).

During the past several years I've attempted to write stories about local racing — club/OYRA/YRA — with local voices for Latitude. Those are the kinds of things I read.

Pat Broderick
Nancy, Wyliecat 30

Pat — A million thanks for the stories you've contributed, and for reading our Bay Area racing coverage.

Readers — Pat has written many fine race reports for Latitude 38 over the past few years, with often entertaining and sometimes illuminating input from sailors on the course. The reports appear in various editions of Racing Sheet. Back in the 'old' days, when our original racing editor, the late great Rob Moore, helmed the Racing Desk here, Pat was one of Rob's valued sources. — cw

This is evolving into sailing's version of drag racing with a computer controlled clutch and throttle. I want to see tactics called by humans (not by computers), tacking and covering, attacking and defending, sail changes, reaching legs with reach-to-reach jibes, windy conditions with seas, human-powered winches, real sails and not wings. No more boring windward-leeward 'races' in light air and flat water. The boats need to be able to sail in the ocean and survive. Look at the old 'boring' 12-Meters that still can sail. All of the new 'high-tech' boats are either immediately retired to display or hit the junk-yard. No one in their right mind would sail them.

John Gulliford
Planet Earth

Remember, foiling is boring to watch. We need high-speed lightweight boats that have a lot of crew work. Sails up, sails down. Cameras everywhere. Waves over the bow! Make it look tough. And watching people grind is boring.
If they go this way it will fail, from a TV and sponsorship point of view. You need action and crashing if you want to win the hearts of Joe Blow public. You need NASCAR on the water!

Ed Cox
Planet Ocean

That is the ugliest thing I've seen! A giant water bug with water striders. Absolutely, bring back the gaff-rigged schooners — and winches. Spare us these monstrosities! Ah, I feel better now.

Vikas Kapur
Planet Right Here

As an '80s-era cruising-boat racer, cruising cat builder, and now cruiser in the Gulf of California, I find any suggestion that this type of boat (or those from last time around) have any relation to cruising is ludicrous. The cost to build, complexity and danger to sail, inability to fix breakages — all would be deterrents to using this type of design as anything but an expensive racer being raced only against identical boats with highly specialized crews.

As some for-instances, what would the load-carrying capability of one of these boats be, how would it be moored in your typical marina, or what kind of depth would it require for sailing or anchoring? All that being said, the designs and resultant racing are fascinating to watch, as long as it is on someone else's dime.

Brian Timpe
Epic, Schionning 1100 cat
Currently Puerto Peñasco

Very negative, very disappointed. Will not follow the event! Note: Did not follow the Bermuda fiasco either.

Bill Turpie
Planet Earth

If you want to go that fast, buy a powerboat.

Greg Davidson
Kyle, TX

Short answer — yes, we would come to the 'Larry Cup'.

I am from Seattle. Lived on a lake and sailed all my life. Raced Lightnings up and down the West Coast in the 1980s and now have an F-31 trimaran. My wife and I drove to San Francisco in 2013 specifically to watch the finals of the America's Cup. Using bicycles between the races, we watched from various shoreside vantages. My highlight was watching, through binoculars from the Golden Gate Bridge, Team New Zealand nearly flipping — there were loud audible gasps from everybody there. We took our non-sailing relatives from Santa Cruz along on several days, and they were as enthusiastic as my wife and I. We stayed with them, and, after driving home, we three generations watched the reruns on TV every night. If the boats Larry uses for his Cup are anything like the ones in the 2013 AC, we will repeat the above for it; 2013 was truly spectacular. I do not expect to ever again see such a sailing spectacle.

Eric Lindahl
Min Vän, Corsair 31
Seattle, WA

Readers — So not a lot of fans of the AC75, huh? We don't blame you. The new boat is shocking, and, because it's so radical, almost impossible to conceptualize sailing, because 'sailing' is now at least somewhat synonymous with 'foiling'. But we think many readers are forgetting the history of the Cup, which is an event that's always been at the forefront of innovation. It's a design competition as much as (or perhaps more than) it's a sailboat race.

Brian — As far-fetched as Team New Zealand's claim that the AC75 concept "could become the future of racing and even cruising monohulls" might sound, there's actually some precedent here. Long before the 35th Match wrapped up in Bermuda, several cruising boats (most of them catamarans) had been experimenting with foils for years (please see The Foiling Feature in this issue).

Ed — We're not sure that sailing needs to mimic motorsports. After winning the Cup in 2013, Jimmy Spithill said that the modern America's Cup was like NASCAR on water. Have you ever been to a NASCAR race? Sure, you can bring a cooler full of beer into the stands, but we'd hardly call watching cars going in circles at 200 mph 'exciting'.

Greg — We agree that the magnates behind the modern Cup have fallen into a trap thinking speed is the ultimate drug for attracting fans. Like golf, bowling, baseball and many other 'slow' sports, the tension and drama from competition arises from the sport's personalities, the closeness of competition and the nuances on the 'playing field'. If higher speeds are the ultimate goal, sailing will never be fast enough for fans. We also believe that the America's Cup lost its footing when the uber wealthy got tired of bearing the whole financial burden. When the made-for-television media spectacle was created to attract more paying sponsors and fans, at least some of the soul of the sport was sacrificed for ratings. — ja/th

Thank you for the fine article Westpoint Harbor Woes by John Tuma [in the December 4th 'Lectronic Latitude].

I have been sailing and boating on the San Francisco Bay for over 30 years. Westpoint Harbor is a jewel in the South Bay. "Down South" here in the Bay, we suffer from far too few places to engage with wildlife and enjoy our Bay from either land or sea. Mark Sanders' Westpoint Harbor is one of the very few places for people of all ages to engage responsibly with this precious natural resource.

I am not objective! Mark first took me sailing on the Bay when I arrived here in the early '80s. He got me hooked on that first sail. I even bought a sistership to his Cheoy Lee (which I still sail). When he first told me about his dream for what is now Westpoint Harbor, I tried to talk him out of it. I was sure no one could ever get this through all the approvals needed. I was sure it could not be a viable business proposition. As John points out in his fine piece, Mark literally turned a toxic waste site into a pristine harbor. Mark has always had the interests of preserving the environment and enabling those who want to get to know the Bay. We share a commitment of preserving the Bay for future generations and doing so in a responsible manner.

Mark and the BCDC actually share the same mission. In June 2017, BCDC published and updated their strategic plan. The primary vision and goals stated are as follows:

"VISION: Be the national model for coastal management.

"MISSION: To protect and enhance the San Francisco Bay, and encourage the responsible and productive use of its resources for this and future generations."
That vision and mission have been Mark's for the past 30 years. He was doing this way before the BCDC's new strategy, and I'll reiterate: He and BCDC really do share the same objectives. I know, I have been with Mark on this project since the beginning. While an early skeptic, my fear was always that the bureaucratic challenge would be overwhelming. While there was (and is) a massive and unfilled need, I thought there would be no funding to support this grand vision.

I was wrong! Mark has created Westpoint Harbor and satisfied scores of environmental groups and government agencies (local, state and federal). This includes cooperating with and making changes at the behest of the BCDC. Westpoint Harbor has won many awards and accolades. It was not funded at all by our tax dollars. It was not funded by anyone other than Mark. This is not a case of a greedy developer shattering the environment and running off with the spoils. It is a shining example of what one man can do and how a community has responded to support his worthy vision.

The BCDC is not really the problem here. As said, they have the same objective. However, the staff of the BCDC for some reason wants to force Westpoint Harbor out of operation. I really don't understand why. This is not only a 'model for coastal development' it is a major contributor to the local economy and a place where young and old can experience the Bay from land or water. What better way to be sure future generations have the same values as Mark to preserve such a precious resource?

This situation is screaming for mediation by responsible, independent third parties. The result at Westpoint is a model for others to follow. Thanks to Latitude and John Tuma for helping shine a bright light on this unfolding injustice. Mark should be thanked and Westpoint Harbor should be embraced by the BCDC. Readers, please help by going to the website of Westpoint Harbor ( and signing up to be heard. Our representatives need to know you care and that we will hold them accountable if this travesty is not stopped, and soon!

Bob Wilson
Redwood City

Westpoint Harbor is a model for all to learn from and follow. Given the daunting number of sometimes conflicting bureaucratic agency hoops one has to jump through, it's amazing that this project came out as nearly perfect as it has. What I see is an understaffed and slow-reacting agency that seems to be determined to quash a badly needed, environmentally sound addition to the South Bay area.

There are very few people with the moral fortitude and stamina to even attempt what Mr. Sanders has done. He does not deserve the punitive treatment he is receiving after a heroic effort to satisfy the myriad requirements continually being thrown at him.

My sincere hope is that the parties can come together and find the common ground needed to make this project succeed and grow for the betterment of the South Bay. Please make this happen. We badly need this marina and the access it provides to our Bay waters.

James 'JT' Townsend
South Bay

My husband and I were liveaboards at Westpoint Harbor (WPH) for several years while we worked in Redwood City. In fact, my Catalina 42 MkII was one of the first boats at WPH, and I enjoyed a view of this beautiful marina from my office in Pacific Shores Center. My husband and I ultimately owned three boats that we kept at WPH, which is a clean, well-maintained marina with a safe community atmosphere and adequate public access.

Over the last 28 years, Mark Sanders has worked hard to try to address the (sometimes ridiculous) BCDC requirements. In one of many examples, he planted trees to serve as a windbreak. BCDC complained that they were planted too close together, and actually wanted him to pull up and replant the trees farther apart, which would have lessened the effectiveness of the windbreak. It's appalling that the BCDC has treated him like a criminal and seems to have waged a personal vendetta against him. I encourage all boaters and Bay Area residents to support WPH and convince the BCDC to waive all fines while finding solutions that meet the needs of everyone.

Patricia Stanley
Ahelani, Outbound 46
Currently cruising in Banderas Bay, Mexico

Having worked for a civil engineering professor at UC Berkeley who was appointed to BCDC in the 1980s, I can tell you that many of them know little to nothing about what goes on in relation to any number of events that effect the Bay. This distinguished educator told me at one point that they were going to force the houseboats out of Sausalito because the enclave was putting raw sewage into the Bay. He was genuinely surprised when I told him most of them had sewer connections.

This agency has lofty goals that drive their very existence. But, while they can be credited with some worthy regulations, they also can be completely unrealistic.

Carol Putnam
Planet Earth

Thank you for the article on Westpoint — I have forwarded a link to the article to our membership at Sequoia YC and to the San Mateo Commissioner on the BCDC, Dave Pine.

I fully support Westpoint Harbor. I do not support BCDC or what they are trying to do to our waterfront and our enjoyment of boating.

Shannon Amerman
Sequoia YC
Redwood City

It's difficult to understand why it's OK with the BCDC to have 100+ boats anchored out in Richardson Bay — some still using the Bay as their toilet — but someone who is trying to be a steward of the Bay is subjected to this type of scrutiny. Can you or anyone explain this?

Raymond Bonneau
Planet Earth

Readers — I did several stories over the years about the develpment of Westpoint Marina, from the time it was a salt pond until they finally broke through the levee and let it fill, to the first docks installed and the first boat berthed there. I found Mark [Sanders] to be a prince of a guy, very intelligent and resourceful and really, really resilient — which was good, because the hoops that the 'Powers That Be' made that poor guy jump through (not to mention all the money he paid to address various issues and obtain various 'permits') were nothing short of disgusting. It was truly amazing to see the innovative and expensive methods he used to create that place.

I think they even made him pay to restore an area of marshland equivalent to the size of the marina — even though the area where the marina is now was a polluted toxic cesspool. I never saw Westpoint completed, but it was well on its way to being one of the cleanest and most state-of-the-art marinas on the Bay, and likely the entire West Coast. Really a showpiece for how to do it right. And they're still hassling the guy? Unbelievable. — jr

My crewmate Zoe on our Tiburon-based Bavaria 46E Taliesin Rose suggested that I tell you about our perfect day in Bahia Santa Maria during the Baja Ha-Ha.
I love surfing. It's a newish sport for me, and I'm not particularly good at it, so I wouldn't call myself a surfer. But I'm someone who enjoys playing around in little waves on a big old board. Hopefully I catch a wave every now and then. Next to sailing, it is definitely my favorite hobby. If someone were to ask me what a perfect day looks like, it would be some combination of surfing, good friends, cold beer, yummy food and my third favorite hobby, dancing.

I had all three of those during the Ha-Ha beach party day at Bahia Santa Maria. Our Taliesin Rose was anchored in a spot where we could see the beach, and that morning there was no wind, perfect for a paddle into the small wave lineup. We were able to catch a bunch of cute little waves, and for a couple of hours had a blast messing around and catching quick little rides.

As the beach party on the bluff got going, we made our way across the river and ditched our boards at the bottom of the hill. We waited a while for the rest of our crew, as they were still at the boat making a fiberglass repair to the dinghy. We started to get a little restless since they had our shoes and beer money.
After roasting in our surf suits down on the beach and getting very thirsty, we decided to risk foot injury and dignity, and hoofed it up the hill, saltwaterlogged and barefoot. Our goals were beer, shade and being able to listen to the live music.

Thankfully some fellow cruisers took pity on our sorry state and offered us some frosty beverages. Before long we were dancing up a storm. The rest of crew, including my young daughters, eventually showed up, and boy did we chow down that yummy fish lunch the local women had prepared.

After lots more dancing and a few more icy beers, we shot the breeze with lots of new friends. As the sun started to sink low in the sky, Zoe and I finished off the afternoon by paddling back to the boat on our boards. Thoroughly exhausted, our heads hit their pillows hard, but I'm pretty sure that, even sleeping, we had permanent smiles on our faces. It really was the perfect day.

Vikki Fennell
Taliesin Rose, Bavaria 46E

Readers — Would it surprise anyone to learn that Vikki, the mother of two young girls, was named "Most Enthusiastic" member of the Baja Ha-Ha?

It isn't often one can catch Max Ebb, but I got him on this one. No doubt others caught it too. In the November 2017 'tude, Max mentions starting races at "exactly 1 p.m." so that all the racers have to do is look at the clock on their GPSs to know when the race starts.

But most of the clocks on GPS units (when you can find them) are based on 'GPS time', which is currently 27 seconds ahead of UTC or the 'calendar time' we generally use here on Earth, due to the insertion of leap seconds over the years. Sail #39, over early!

If you have a smartphone, gives you a quite precise display of local US time, which is also very (very) close to UTC (less the local offset, like -8 hours for PST). The web page even measures the latency in your phone connection to make the displayed time more precise.

So don't use 'GPS time' to run races!

(A slight caveat in that some GPS units can display 'local time' by including both the leap seconds and local offset in their time displays. But note that this requires an Internet connection to determine how many leap seconds there have been, as it can change up to twice a year — we just had the most recent one on December 31, 2016!)

Eric Lyons
Pearl, Islander 36

Eric — you are right about 'GPS time' being offset from UTC, and you are correct that this is because the GPS system cannot handle leap seconds. However, it's been a couple of decades since you could buy a consumer GPS that did not display UTC (almost the same as Greenwich Mean Time, aka GMT.) Also, note that we never recommended using 'GPS time,' but did suggest that the GPS is a quick and easy way to get UTC.

You don't need an Internet connection for this. Just as there's a Nautical Almanac providing ephemeris data for the stars and planets, there's a GPS almanac that transmits the ephemeris data for the GPS satellites — along with the current offset to UTC — over the GPS signal. There's not much extra bandwidth in that signal, so it takes some 12.5 minutes for the download. But unless your GPS is brand-new and finding satellites for the first time, or has not been used for a few months and lost its internal memory, then the time display will default to the correct UTC as soon as satellites are acquired.

Here's a photo of the "Time of Day" display on my Garmin 73, next to one of those wall clocks that sets itself to UTC based on a radio time signal. They agree to a small fraction of a second. So did my previous two or three GPS receivers.

By the way, the current GPS time offset is 18 seconds fast on UTC. The TAI (International Atomic Time) is 37 seconds off. And my favorite Android app for time checks is ClockSync, by Sergey Baranov. Free, no ads.

Lee Helm suggests a quick google of "GPS time" to learn far more about this than you ever wanted to know. — max ebb

The Ancients — December 4:

Standing at the boom gallows in the afternoon and watching this lonely run of the sea — lonely because the flying fish of the north have departed and the birds of the south have not yet filled in — I was reminded of Tillman's quote from Belloc regarding the amateur sailor: "In venturing in sail upon strange coasts we are seeking those first experiences and trying to feel as felt the earlier man in a happier time, to see the world as they saw it."

And I thought, "That's exactly it." Today's view of those ancient but powerful rollers from the south, the ship gliding smoothly over them, accelerating in the winds at the peak, heeling eagerly, lines creaking, and then relaxing in the valley, this view has not changed since its invention.

The coasts have been explored and peopled. Even the remotest villages have cell service. But the deep ocean has retained its wildness since "that happier time." Out here the vast, untamable waters are the same vast, untamable waters the Polynesians saw, the same Magellan, Drake and Cook saw. In this way, a link to the early explorers and a world almost beyond time is direct and uncut.

I think this is one of the reasons I like celestial navigation. Beyond the practicality of it, it's a link to this place and the old sailors who passed by here using tools we barely know today. Sadly, celestial navigation doesn't always like me back. For several days I wrestled with "sun-run-sun" running fixes that weren't producing the customary cocked hat; rather I was getting railroad ties on my latitude line. Only lately did I figure out it's because I have passed under the sun, who declined at 22S today on her southward march, whereas I have just barely passed into 32S. My sights are at nearly right angles to my course. Thus the railroad ties.

Getting cooler. I've put on a shirt with sleeves as I type. Soon I'll pull socks on before boots.

Pirates — November 25:

"Hey Monte," I said, coming on deck at 10 a.m., "We're about to have guests."

"Oh, pardon Señor, then I really must shave," said Monte, making a shift to go below.

"No, not aboard. I mean, in the neighborhood. There are three AIS targets on the scope and they're all bunched up together dead ahead."

Monte raised what I now refer to as the "eyebrow of doubt;" dark and bold, its peak pushes so high that it is said to get a dusting of snow on the coldest winters.

I had another look at the scope. "No, five targets. I wonder who'd gather out here?"

"It is pirates, Señor," said Monte, as if announcing the results of a unanimous vote. "They have set a trap."

"Pirates? Who would send a fleet of ships to nowheresville to set a trap? There's nobody here but us."

"Exactly. We are here; therefore it is a trap. Madre! What will I do with all my gold?"

"That's circular…"

"I think you mean perfectly circular, Señor."

"…No, that's not a compliment! I mean your reasoning makes no sense."

Pirates or not, it was a curious thing. I had just been remarking to myself that we'd not seen a ship on the scope since getting below Panama, and now…well, now there were 10 targets, mysterious targets with numbers but no names, no hailing port, no vessel description, and all moving about this way and that at a knot or less.

I've gone through fleets of fishing boats at night off the Washington coast. But here? Peru was 3,000 miles to the west; Tahiti, 1,500 east. Soon the AIS alarms sounded. The first target should be just two miles distant, said the scope, and dead ahead. I couldn't see anything but bounding blue.

I did a quick height-of-eye calculation — square root of my 8 feet off the water times 1.17 — I should be able to see the vessel a solid 3.3 miles away — and that assumed it was flat as a pancake. Weird. And what's to fish for out here? Now there were 13 targets and the closest one should be approaching within a mile.

Suddenly, I saw an orange flash ahead. Faint. Several more waves passed; then again. And within 10 minutes we'd passed a buoy topped by an antenna. And almost immediately, I saw on the horizon to the east what the scope called the Shen Gang Shun 2. Long, squat and gray, making way toward one of the outlier buoys to the north. Stranger still, it's 6 p.m. and we just passed another three on the scope. As I type, another pops up ahead.

I set two reefs in the working jib and two in the main after nightfall, not because the average windspeed called for anything like it, but so that Mo could stay on track without my help when the squalls hit. After dinner we got our first biggie dumping rain and pushing winds to 25 knots. Mo rounded about 20 degrees, but then settled in. So I went to bed.

In the morning, winds were way down, so I popped reefs even before coffee. Within 10 minutes, winds were east at 18 knots. Squalls have continued all day. Progress OK but wearing. Not my favorite leg of a passage.

Readers — We've been enjoying Randall Reeves' dispatches, which can be found at ("Monte" is Reeves' nickname for his Monitor Windvane.)

I took these photos a few years ago at Clipper Harbor. Congratulations on being 'afloat' for 40 years!

Our first copy arrived to our address in 1977. Thanks for many years of 'can't be missed' fun and informative reading. No need to publish. Just wanted to say thanks for all the effort you put in to getting your 'rag' out each month. Happy Holidays!

Shirlee Edwards
Fitzroy, Freya 39

Shirlee — Forgive us, but we had to publish this, especially because you handwrote the note, took pictures with film, and dropped them off at our offices, which made our day while we were putting in some of that effort to get the rag out.

As we wrap up our '40-year year', we want to say thanks to all of our readers like Shirlee Edwards out there. We do it for you, and couldn't do it without you. — th



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