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February 2018

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I loved Latitude's December 2018 cover, and I have some sailing questions. Regarding the spinnaker: #1) It looks like it's symmetrical? How many ounces is the cloth? #2) It looks like it's set up to be able to tack by using the foot as the clew and the clew as the foot for both port and starboard tacks. We have our Seawind 1160 set up like that with a 1.75-ounce symmetrical. #3) No spinnaker sock? #4) You are streaming what looks like three lines. Is there anything on those lines? And are you doing that to steer or slow down? And how long are they?

Thanks for a great magazine.

Dave Mark
Cat Bama Breeze, Seawind 1160
Wilmington Shores

Dave — The spinnaker flying from Profligate on the December 2017 cover is a 1.5-ounce North spinnaker that was originally used on one of Roy Disney's 70-ft Pyewacket sleds. Great sail. Yes, it's symmetrical.

Profligate usually carries six chutes, two of them asymmetrical and four of them symmetrical. Most of them are 1.5-ounce. Monohulls heel, so shock loads are partially absorbed by the heeling. Big cats don't heel, so almost all of the shock loading forces end up on the spinnaker itself. In the last 20 years, we've destroyed at least 20 lightweight spinnakers from shock loads. Fortunately, we get them pretty cheap on the used market. And these days we rarely fly anything less than 1.5.

We do have a huge lightweight asymmetrical from the Farr 60 that Dennis Conner used to own. If it's not too big, it might be perfect in certain conditions — such as the normally light-air, flat-water Pirates for Pupils spinnaker run from Punta Mita to Paradise Marina. Maybe we'll drag it out next year.

Gino Morrelli showed us how to rig the spinnaker tack anywhere from the windward bow to the leeward bow using lines between the bows and a couple of blocks. On Profligate we call it our 'forward traveler'. It's way more versatile than having the tack in one place at the end of a pole — although that extra projection would be nice, too. It's surprising how high you can point if the tack is all the way down on the leeward bow, particularly if it's a reaching chute that you can flatten out almost like a genoa.

We don't use spinnaker socks because I like to keep things simple. And with the foot of the main being 26 feet long, it's pretty easy to blanket the chute when setting or dropping. Doña and I did a couple of doublehanded races on San Francisco Bay where we flew a Santa Cruz 70 chute. But that was a few years ago.

The lines behind Profligate are fishing lines. The boat is only moving at about five knots in the photo. When she's really going — say 20 knots — water firehoses over the bows. We've never had to drag lines or drogues to slow her down. If we want to temporarily slow the boat down, we use a trick that Stan Honey told us about when his Cal 40 Illusion was hitting 24 knots in a 40-knot squall during a Hawaii race that he was doublehanding with his wife Sally. They just eased the pole all the way forward, flattening the chute as much as possible and hiding it behind the main. If needed, we could do that even more effectively on our cat because we could lower the tack even further.

When the wind starts blowing, the loads on cats are higher than anyone expects, so we wouldn't get anything lighter than 1.5 for a cruising cat. Chutes and cats, what a fabulous combination! — richard spindler

We took Latitude's advice and headed out from the Oakland Yacht Club to Angel Island around 10 a.m. on Christmas morning. The Slot was as calm as we've seen it, and we motored over with only 5-8 knots of wind. We had our pick of slips at Ayala Cove. We had to fork over $20 rather than the required $15 since we didn't have any small bills. We hiked up Mt. Livermore to beautiful views of San Pablo Bay and the Golden Gate. We crossed paths with only two other groups on the trail and exchanged very friendly "Merry Christmas" greetings. We returned to the boat for a nice warm lunch at the docks and headed back to the Estuary under power. It was a very relaxing and memorable Christmas Day. Thanks for the recommendation.

Ken Fouts
Mary Emma, Catalina 380

We're preparing our Ericson 38 to take part in the Baja Ha-Ha next year, and I was wondering how many people who have done the Ha-Ha had either an autopilot or windvane on their boats. We're planning on coastal cruising Mexico and Central America, but not planning on doing an ocean crossing at this time, and we're on a budget.

I just wondered if you had the data or would consider doing an article on what Ha-Ha participants did in relation to using these two methods to help steer.
We're longtime readers and can't wait to take part in the Ha-Ha next year!

Melissa Havel
Blue Heron, Ericson 38

Melissa — Every year we do a survey of Baja Ha-Ha participants to find out what kind of equipment they have on board. Regarding autopilots: the vast majority of Ha-Ha entrants had electrical autopilots before they entered the rally (with Raymarine being the dominant brand.) Only a handful of boats had mechanical windvanes prior to the Ha-Ha (in our experience, this tends to be something that sailors planning to cross oceans have in their repertoire).

If cost is a concern (but you also want the convenience of being able to step away from the helm), then perhaps more crew might be an answer. Remember, there are always people hoping to jump on a boat, and we here at Latitude love playing matchmaker and connecting sailors. Also keep in mind that the longest leg of the Ha-Ha — San Diego to Turtle Bay — is about three days, and can be easily broken down into a series of short, manageable watches among a small crew (most Ha-Ha participants had some kind of watch system going because of the proximity to other boats). — th

I bought a clipper bow 24-ft boat — like a Coronado 24. It was in a repair yard stripped. I should have left it there.

Ken Dunn
Planet Ocean

My first sailboat was a MacGregor 25. It was free. I spent $1,800+ to make it perfect and ended up selling it to a couple who took it to their summer home in British Columbia. Next was another free boat, a Neptune 24. Once I got into it I realized that it wasn't salvageable due to an exploded iron keel. The ballast was a mixture of machine punching scrap mixed with epoxy that got wet, rusted, and expanded. So I sold it to someone who needed a trailer for the $400 I had in the tires.

Next was a MacGregor 26D that I traded for a motorcycle. It got new wiring, a new propane line, a new stainless bow roller, a new stainless bow/keel strip and new bottom paint. I'm about to sell that one to fund my new Pearson 30.

Joe Denham
Planet Earth

To quote a very smart friend: "There is nothing as expensive as a free boat."

Lisa Chapin
Planet Latitude

I know about sailboats. What I did not know is that many new sailors buy sailboats without knowing much about them.

I have an ad on Craigslist, and will soon be advertising in Latitude to assist newbies in not making expensive mistakes.

Arthur D. Saftlas
Planet Ocean

A survey is invaluable, both for finding things that are problems and for setting real expectations of the cost and effort to address them. It's still a guess, but if I hadn't had a survey, it would be harder to stay confident in such a complicated purchase.

Max Perez
Planet Earth

I have been saddened by all the plastic garbage I see floating around me while I sail, so I decided that if I saw any plastic floating I would retrieve it. So, I bought a net. I've included a photo of what I caught during a sail. It's a lot, considering it was neap tide and the Bay Area is so heavily regulated.

I hope we sailors can add "collecting plastic" to what we do on our boats, even if it's on the way to your sailing ground. I found that the net was not enough. I ended up using a gaff hook, as some garbage items are heavy. Even a plastic shopping bag full of water is too heavy for a simple net.

The maneuver to recover the plastic is identical to man overboard drills, so if you do start to collect plastic, your MOB skills will be perfect. But note that recovering anything overboard is inherently dangerous.

My suggestions for collecting plastic:

1) Primary responsibility is to the safety of the vessel and the crew.

2) This is a three-person job: One to helm the boat and navigate, a spotter to spot plastic and guide the helm, and grabber to handle the net/gaff. In a high-target zone, the spotter can also collect.

3) Wear gloves, as some plastics have barnacles, etc.

4) Wear polarized sunglasses to see the plastics.

5) Wear lifejackets, and the grabber person should wear a harness.

6) Keep a good lookout for other boats, as you will do lots of turns.

7) Don't let the crew stretch too far overboard, as that is risky. The plastic garbage is not always light to pick up.

8) I found most of the plastic garbage was in the tidelines, so sailing up and down the tidelines was fruitful.

9) You can't see the clear plastic bags until you are directly above them. So go slow and allow the grabbers to do quick grabs.

10) I don't know, but I assume that you will have a bigger harvest on the ebb of a spring tide.

Fishermen would have the best suggestions, as this is similar to fishing, except you don't need bait, there are no seasons, and you cannot overfish.

Please share and maybe we can start a movement to help combat this danger to the seas and our Bay.

Jonathan Muhiudeen
Pulau, Islander 36

Jonathan — We've also noticed more garbage on San Francisco Bay during easterly winds (when the breeze is blowing off the land mass of the East Bay.) — cw

The Bay Area's old ladies' sailing club, the Sea Gals, celebrated their 55th holiday gathering at the Corinthian Yacht Club in December. A few are original members and most are still sailing. We are changing the rules of the club so more can join. Right now you have to own a boat and be able to sail Wednesdays starting at 11 a.m., but we are dropping both of those requirements.

I know there are some men in the shot below. They were invited, as in some cases men instigated the group (there were actually two groups originally, the other was the 'Sea Wenches', but they merged with the Sea Gals and chose the less racy name).

After WWII, many wives were at home raising children and the men were working, so the wives decided to teach themselves how to sail (their husbands being a little long and loud on instructions and a little short on letting go of the tiller). So every Wednesday, while the children were in school, the ladies would get together on a boat at their disposal. They became crack sailors.

We have lost many of them now, of course: Shirl Armor, who was once commodore of the San Francisco Yacht Club, Ann Norman, Rosemary Seal, Jean Noyes, Nancy Rogers, Ann French, Louise Nelson, Prentice Sack. Many old-timers on the Bay will remember them. Julia Yost has retired to Santa Barbara, so does not appear in the photo below. She was active for years racing Boogaloo with Nancy Rogers. Both were Yachtsmen of the Year at SFYC.

Sally Taylor
Auggie, Santana 22
South Beach

Readers — If you're interested in the Sea Gals, please contact Sally Taylor at (415) 218-1375 or .

Being both a sailor and a rower, as well as a longtime reader of Latitude 38, I always enjoy Max's column, but must comment on his January piece. As always, I cannot fault his technical analysis of rowing in unison rather than syncopated, but I fear he misses the obvious as to why unison is preferred.
Since drag is a function of wetted surface area, one wants the shortest boat and the most rowers. Conventional arrangements with rowing in unison minimizes the spacing between rowers. With tight spacing, rowers have to be performing the same motion at the same time or someone gets an oar handle in the kidney or shoulder blade — not fun. To not all be in unison requires much greater spacing as can be seen in the 1929 video Max refers to. More spacing means a longer boat — means more wetted surface — means more drag. Not a winning formula.

Dennis Cox
Cat-Nip, Catalina 350

In 1957, my father-in-law Jake Crane arrived in Annapolis on the 41-ft solid teak cutter Ly-Kou from Saigon, after several months of navigation. About two years ago, I asked Latitude 38 readers if anyone had heard of Ly-Kou's whereabouts. Chances were very slim, yet, after two years of waiting, several readers came back to me. After her incredible voyage, Ly-Kou was sailed to Chicago, down the Mississippi, and into the Caribbean, where she was used to sell illegal weapons to Cuba. Then she was laid to rot for many years in Florida.

There, Canadian sailors Arlene and Tom Clapham bought her, restored her and sailed her for 20 years. They sold her to a couple who moored her in Sidney, British Columbia, where she sank. The Coast Guard ran into her, breaking her roof. She was eventually sold for $1 to a person who brought her back up and sold her for $1,500 to Ian Catterill, who has been restoring her for the past 13 years.

Ly-Kou is now afloat, looking sharp, and ready for new adventures. This weekend, the Claphams drove down from British Columbia to share stories of Ly-Kou with me and my wife, Nicole Crane, Jake's daughter.

Thank you so much for letting us experience this reunion.

Giacomo Bernardi
Alelia, Catalina 22
La Selva Beach

This kind of brown-field cleanup and conversion to medium-density housing is exactly the kind of housing the Bay Area desperately needs, as limited capacity drives runaway home prices. I've spent plenty of time in Richmond at the YC and in Brickyard Cove. Its climate is excellent and the City of Richmond could certainly use the property tax revenue.

This looks well planned, thoughtfully designed, and aesthetically pleasing. When added to the existing Brickyard Cove area, it might become a viable ferry route that would help take cars off Bay Area roads.

Sadly, NIMBYs (Not in My Backyarders) stop most of these projects, such as the excellent Brisbane Baylands which sits on CalTrain and Muni. I hope this does not stop the Richmond project. This is just my opinion — I have no dog in the hunt and live on the Peninsula, so I'm not likely to buy a place there.

Tim Dick
Palo Alto (feel free to call it Shallow Alto)

Readers — We will repeat what has now become a Latitude mantra: The Bay Area needs more housing, and it needs more waterfront access and boating facilities. But what seems to be the trend is that new (and expensive) shoreside housing displaces the current working waterfront and actually reduces Bay access. In the case of Alameda, they're eliminating much-needed marine facilities at Alameda Marina to put in housing while they have an enormous vacant lot at Alameda Point. As for Richmond, that scruffy scrap of land could certainly benefit from smart development, but it raises the same question we find ourselves coming back to: What about docks, boat storage, or hoists? What about a simple concrete ramp to launch your damn boat? (We recently tried to put an 11-ft RIB in the water in Marin, and were shocked at how few places there were to do so). As both sailors and proud Bay Area residents, we fully support new waterfront housing, if it includes access, access, access. — ja

I'm glad to see common sense overturn public agency bullying (see January 3's 'Lectronic Latitude Court Rules for John Sweeney). My fear continues for those these agencies persecute who don't have the financial clout to defend themselves in court.

Kregg Miller
Planet Earth

Great mention of the new California Boater Card in the December 11 'Lectronic Latitude. It's easy for many of us to look in the mirror, see gray hair, and say, "That won't affect me for a while." But there's one important requirement not mentioned in the DBW news release: If you are supervising someone operating your boat, you must have a Boater Card. So for all the Latitude readers who might take kids or grandkids out on their boat and let them take the wheel, you need a Boater Card.

So get one now. There are many online providers (for a fee), the DBW book (free, but I have heard complaints that the test at the end asks questions that are not covered in the book), or take an approved course from the Coast Guard Auxiliary or the US Power Squadrons. By the way, the latter are the only courses where one has the opportunity to ask experienced boaters questions.

Lu Abel
US Power Squadrons Educator of the Year 2016

In 2009, Santa Cruz Yacht Club decided to encourage small powerboat training by having Max Fraser (a great 29er sailor) and me attend a US Powerboating course leading to our Powerboat Instructor certifications. We spent three days at San Diego YC with about a dozen other future instructors, most of whom worked for commercial sailing or community sailing schools. It was a very comprehensive course in teaching methods and how to implement the US Powerboating curriculum, and both Max and I returned to Santa Cruz to run annual classes.

If you're not familiar with how US Powerboating (I should point out that it's the power boating 'arm' of US Sailing) runs the course, it's a two-day course with about eight hours in the classroom and eight hours on the water. My classes have primarily been for parents of junior sailors who want to improve the safety of being in a powerboat around kids who might be in the water. But it's also about being a competent powerboat operator: how to dock, tow another boat, pick up a mooring, maneuver in close quarters, etc. There's also a class in how to operate a safety and rescue boat, which is very good for regatta support.

Many of the adults who have taken the course have been experienced sailors, and some have even had larger powerboats, but have wanted to improve their skills. Universally, students come away with improved skills and confidence.

Virtually all of the courses offered by the states do not have an on-water component, and consist of either an online or in-person eight-hour course. While it's valuable as a refresher, I'd like to strongly recommend that if you're going to be required to take a course, take an on-water course like those offered by US Powerboating. I think you'll learn skills that you can apply to power and sailboats immediately, and the review of the rules of the road, navigation aids, legal responsibilities, etc. won't hurt, either.

My interest has primarily been to teach at local yacht clubs, but commercial schools also offer this course, at a very reasonable cost. Find out more at

Chuck Hawley
Surprise, Alerion Express 38
Santa Cruz

A 132-page home study guide? There isn't a chance in hell I'd open that "guide" especially since the jet-ski renters are given a pass. It shows me the state is not really interested in safety.

My hope is the state takes its time in getting to me, as I'm leaving California within the year. Not that it matters, as I wouldn't participate anyway. The bureaucracy continues to grow out of control, and I have no intention of participating.

I'll have to go elsewhere in the world to get my sailing fix.

Curt Simpson
California, for now

I need to have my subscription mailing address changed. I'm a longtime reader — I grew up (fourth generation Californian) sailing in the Bay Area. The first boat I owned was a 5O5, which certainly taught me a lot, including the fact that you could get Bay mud on the mast tip! I have kept in touch by reading Latitude 38 while sailing and racing throughout the Gulf of Mexico during the 21 years I've lived in New Orleans. Like all your loyal readers I cannot say enough good things about your style, humor and great variety of articles.

Now work takes us — and our Beneteau 40, Makani U'i — to Chicago. So perhaps I will be reading Latitude 38 during the next Chicago-Mac race?! Or at a minimum, while enjoying the sunset cruising along the Chicago cityfront — once the ice melts next spring.

Douglas Slakey
Makani U'i, Beneteau 40
New Orleans, LA, for now

Great story about Star Wars and the local guys [the December 15 'Lectronic Latitude, "A Latitude Far, Far Away."] I worked for Performance Sailcraft back in 1979-80. Don Trask and Bill Kreysler owned the company, Bill had models of the Star Destroyer in his office and he told great stories about working with the Lucas crew and their crazy projects. Bill continues to be involved in high-tech fiberglass and cement projects — the Cupid's Span project on the Embarcadero is a great example.

PS: We saw the new Star Wars in Terra Linda on opening night!

Alan Prussia
Hobie 16
San Anselmo

Alan — We had fun flipping through the September 1983 issue of Latitude and enjoying a piece by Howard Macken, formerly of Sutter Sails. It's easy to forget that Star Wars, which has become the exemplification of a Hollywood juggernaut, has its roots in Marin County. For Return of the Jedi, a handful of notable Bay Area sailors — including Commodore Warwick Tompkins and Derek Baylis — were put to work to create sails and rigging for Jabba the Hutt's Barge. It was an ode to the days before Computer Generated Imagery, when craftsmen had to build things from scratch. May the force be with you (did we seriously just say that?). — th

White Squall still makes me weep, and beam with the joy of a teenager on his own for the first time in his life. I'm 70 now and have had some great moments at sea and some tragedy. If I could turn back time, a semester at sea would have changed my life as well. Fair winds.

Ken Brinkley
Rumblefish, Cal 29
Portland, OR

Remember a few years back when AccuWeather president Joel Myers teamed up with Senator Rick Santorum to privatize weather forecasting? I'm pretty sure that Latitude wrote about it.

Anyways, Trump has named Joel's son Barry to head NOAA. Just something to keep an eye on.

Marceline Therrien
San Francisco

Marceline — You're right, we did write about this almost 13 years ago in response to Senator Rick Santorum's (R- PA) "National Weather Services Duties Act of 2005." Santorum's bill eventually died in committee, and was seen by critics as an effort to effectively give taxpayer-funded data to the commercial weather industry, where it would be sold back to taxpayers. Santorum was "accused of political impropriety and influence peddling because Joel Myers, the [founder and chairman] of Pennsylvania-based AccuWeather and one of Santorum's constituents, was also a Santorum campaign contributor," according to, which quoted the Wilmington Star News. "Myers and his brother, the executive vice president, donated over $11,000 to Santorum's political campaigns, including $2,000 two days before Santorum introduced the bill."

Fast forward to October 2017, when President Trump nominated Barry Myers — the current head of AccuWeather and younger brother of the aforementioned Joel Myers — to serve as head of NOAA. Myers "graduated from Penn State with a degree in business and received a law degree from Boston University, but has no science training," Politico said.

To be fair, Benjamin Friedman, NOAA's current Deputy Under Secretary for Operations, was a federal prosecutor for 16 years before starting with NOAA. However, Friedman "brings more than 14 years of federal management and leadership experience to his current role," according to NOAA. Other leadership at NOAA includes Dr. Timothy Gallaudet, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce, who was "rear admiral in the US Navy, where his most recent assignment was Oceanographer of the Navy and Commander of the Navy Meteorology and Oceanography Command," and Dr. Stephen Volz, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Environmental Observation & Prediction, who has "30 years of professional experience in aerospace," the NOAA website says.

Many government agencies, especially those deeply rooted in science, such as NOAA, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy, hired some of the top scientists in their fields to run what are admittedly vast and complex bureaucracies wielding billions of dollars of taxpayer's money. The Trump administration was elected to reform many of the institutions in Washington, which is laudable, but the administration's clear disregard (and what seems like open disdain) for science and evidence-based reasoning undermines our confidence in these changes. Additionally, there's a clear conflict of interest when NOAA is being run by one of its biggest clients. We don't think independent, peer-reviewed and respected scientists should be replaced by a business manager with vested interests any more than an airplane pilot (or head of the FAA) should be replaced by the CEO of an airline. Running something like NOAA or the FAA takes superb management skills, but, to earn or regain the trust of taxpayers, independence from commercial interests needs to be a top job requirement. That's why the call to 'drain the swamp' remains popular. — th/ja

Good news: In Australia they are saying yes to Nocotinamide supplements as a skin cancer preventative! You might want to let friends know who are, or were, in the sun a lot, or ever did tanning booths.

This all stemmed from a short article in the Seattle Times: My friend Bob, an MD and distinguished member of the Seattle YC, wrote to say he'd just ordered some after reading convincing evidence in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dan Barr
Seattle Yacht Club

I get five to 20 thingies (pre-cancerous actinic keratoses) burned off every year. I can confirm that my longtime dermatologist has recommended taking niacinamide to combat same.

John Griffith
Planet Earth

John — Along with you — and most sailors — we've spent a lot of time under the sun. We do our best to take normal precautions, but we spent our first several years, even decades, sailing when SPF 4 was the standard for Coppertone. They later doubled protection to 8. We Googled it and were amazed to find SPF 4 and 8 still available! Either way we'll still take all the precautions we can (a wide-brimmed hat is one of your best bets), but appreciate knowing there are options if trouble appears. By the way, nicotinamide and niacinamide are the same thing. — ja/cw

Yes. It was in Ogunquit, Maine, in the summer of 1965 when I was 13. It was so much fun that, since 1980, my wife and I have owned several sailboats. Our current boat is an Islander 32 that we keep in Marina Bay in the winter, and Owl Harbor in the summer.

Russ Sunn
Andiamo, Islander 32

Yes, there was. It was my first time on a sailboat. In 1972, my dad took me out for the first time under "sail" in the water. It didn't discourage me though. I had several small boats through the years and just this year I bought a cruiser.

Greg Masichuk
Brisa del Oce'ano, Catalina350
Kemah, TX

Yes, yes there was. I was 14, my brother was 12, and Chip, our instructor, was likely in his early 20s, and, yes, of course I had a crush on him. This was at Lake Naomi, Pennsylvania, in the Poconos. It was our dad's idea, and I give him credit for it every single day.

Fast forward several years later and nine years of sailing on San Francisco Bay, I now have my captain's license and ASA teaching certifications, and just this year bought a sailing school, after having relocated from the Bay to Florida with my other half (you'll be happy to know we can still pick up Latitude 38 at our local West Marine). And it all started on a small lake in Pennsylvania on Sunfish.

Nancy Bockelman
In between boats at the moment, but
currently on the hook in Biscayne Bay, FL

Readers — In our January 8 edition of 'Lectronic Latitude we recognized Latitude 38 T-shirt winner Karen Swezey who found a flyer tucked in a Latitude she picked up in Brickyard Cove. She commented that she'd learned to sail in the South Bay aboard a Sunfish and now, years later, is living aboard an Islander 36 in Point Richmond.

We asked how many others had started on a Sunfish. Apparently, it's quite a lot. What you see here is just a portion of the responses we received. It reminds us how many lifelong sailors who've gone on to bigger adventures on larger boats started in very simple, low-tech dinghies. We're also reminded that, in this go-fast foiling world, many people look at sailing as a chance to slow down. There's some Zen-like pleasure in slow, simple sailing. — ja

I started young but not on a Sunfish. My first sailboat ride was to Hawaii in 1959 aboard my parents' 61-ft staysail schooner Manuiwa. I stayed in Hawaii and grew up sailing El Toros at the Hawaii Yacht Club. I also enjoyed sailing on a Sunfish out to the Ala Wai entrance buoy then back to the club — that was a big excursion for a 12-year-old in those days.

My wife and I now own a Beneteau First 40 and sail out of Richmond Yacht Club. I did the 2016 Pacific Cup with our daughters and their boyfriends. I turned 70 this year, and will be sailing in the 2018 Pac Cup on Venture, a Jeanneau 49. You are so right that one of the truly wonderful things about sailing is that if you start young, you can enjoy the experience for a lifetime, however long that might be. Fair winds, and always leave a clean wake.

Michael Johnson
Vera Cruz, Beneteau First 40
Point Richmond

I didn't start on a Sunfish, but among the small sailboats I learned on was an 8-ft Boston Whaler sailing dinghy that had the same rig as a Sunfish. I started sailing while in my mother's womb and grew up on various small and large sailboats in the Northwest. I now enjoy sailing on the Bay. Thanks for the flashback.

Dana Dupar
Latitude 38 Crew List
San Francisco Bay

I learned to sail in Redwood City at the age of about 2 years old in a Moon Boat dinghy. Now I'm 69 and sail a Catalina 400. Between sailing in a Thistle Nationals at about 8 years of age in Raccoon Strait, sailing along the coast to Costa Rica in a 46-ft catamaran in the '70s, living aboard in Ballena Bay while getting my teaching credential, and finally raising a family, all while having a series of progressively larger sailboats, I can safely say the sailing has been a major theme in my life.

Now here I am living in Santa Cruz. I still surf — that's why I moved here in the first place — and I also sail with my family and friends. With six grandchildren and another on the way, I always have my favorite crew. Last year a group of my surfing friends and I crewed up to race my boat, Rosa Nautica, in the local Tuesday Night Catalina (and Others) Race. We had a blast. My wife Lisa and I are looking forward to a cruise up to San Francisco Bay next summer so that I can continue to sail on a Bay that I first sailed (and may one day again sail) in diapers!

Scotty Correa-Mickel
Rosa Nautica, Catalina 400 MkII
Santa Cruz

Readers — In January 15's 'Lectronic Latitude, we reported on a boat called YachtCruz missing off Baja California, and repeated a claim that the boat had sailed through pirate waters. See this issue's Sightings for the story.

I just read your article in 'Lectronic Latitude] where you said "[YachtCruz] had to pass through part of Mexico notorious for pirates." Just curious, what part is that? I never heard about any pirate problem in Mexico before.

It is a sad story; I just wanted to make sure there was not something I have not heard about yet in Mexico. I have been in and out of La Cruz for 25 years now. I keep my ears pretty close to the ground when it comes to news about Mexico. While I am very concerned about the direction the country is headed, thank goodness it has not hit the sailing community yet as far as I know.

Hans Petermann
Vamonos, Catalina Morgan 440
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico

I (and, I must say, others here) was amazed to see the comment [in a] by [one of YachtCruz's] friends:

"They were headed home toward their new boat slip in Chula Vista but had to go through a part of Mexico notorious for pirates and they were worried about it."

It's such a sad story, since they are almost certainly lost at sea, but this area down the Baja is definitely not an area where one expects to meet up with 'pirates' (and certainly not 'notorious'!), although there are several places (Isla Cedros included) where one would not wish to be caught close to a rocky lee shore in bad weather.

Maybe they had not spent enough time sailing in Pacific Mexico to appreciate it fully? From comments I've heard, it seems weather could have been a contributing factor since a system was possibly going through the area at the time, but any other comments are speculation.

I normally go outside Isla Cedros, but last year, headed north from Cabo to Ensenada, I went inside for better protection from a prevailing swell. Clearly, good charts and careful navigation are essential for safe passage in the area, which has plenty of places where caution is needed.

It would be of interest to have information on the exact weather in the area at the time, but for now my deepest sympathies go to the family of the couple.
I'm in La Cruz now, surrounded by cruiser friends and enjoying the warmth of Mexico's people and climate. I'm planning to exercise my neck and body in the hope of recovering well over the next few months so I can get sailing in B.C. when I return to Nereida in May, ready for taking off again in early October. I hope you are keeping well.

Jeanne Socrates
Nereida, Najad 380
Victoria, BC

Everyone — We are incredibly sad to have learned about the story of YachtCruz. In our reporting, we were unfortunately caught off guard by an unverified claim on social media. Alert and knowledgeable readers were quick to correct our mistake. When YachtCruz went missing — the news of which began to trickle in around mid-January — we scrambled to put a story together. Friends of Sandi Foree posted some information on their Facebook pages that the Irwin 52 ketch had gone missing, and that some debris, including their EPIRB, had been found washed ashore in Baja California.

And we posted a comment from one of Sandi's Facebook friends saying that YachtCruz was "headed home toward their new boat slip in Chula Vista but had to go through a part of Mexico notorious for pirates and they were worried about it."

Oops. The Grand Poobah and Doña de Mallorca have done this passage many dozens of times and have happily escorted more than 3,000 boats through these waters on 24 consecutive Baja Ha-Ha's. If he were still in the office, the Poobah's long history of cruising Mexico would have saved us from posting the comment. In addition, so much knowledge we share in Latitude has come from our experienced and highly qualified readers, to whom we are eternally thankful. The Grand Poobah called and emailed us within minutes with a course correction, so we were able to remove the ill-chosen words within about a half hour after the story went online.

We shift gears between a monthly magazine that generally allows more thoughtful writing, to a three-times-a-week blog that is often done at a hastier pace. While we strive to find the facts, the pace of online reporting is a little trickier to navigate. In the end, this turned out to be a terribly unfortunate story. We want to understand, as best we can, what happened to YachtCruz and give our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Patrick Wolfgang and Sandi Foree. — th/ja

Your unkind reporting of the Kehaar Darwin [in the January 3 'Lectronic Latitude] disappointed me. I thought you were better people than that.

In 2009 I watched the Kehaar Darwin sail unassisted through some winding reefs into Bonbonon Harbor, Philippines. I was leaving in the morning and only had a chance to exchange a wave of greeting with Kris Larsen, Kehaar Darwin's solo skipper, who has a standing with the British Junk Rig Association.

Last July I was anchored in Linton Bay, Panama, and watched Kris arrive from offshore and set his anchor under sail. We spoke a few times. I asked how he had managed from Richards Bay to Cape Town without an engine. He shrugged it off. Kris was on his way home, to Darwin. I wondered how on earth he was going to get an unpowered full-keel sailboat to the other side of Panama.

And then I see in Latitude 38 a most insensitive and unkind slam on Kris, a fellow world traveler and sailor. We all have so much stuff. Kris has taken it a bit far in his avoidance of stuff. But, at the same time, I sort of get it. And, besides, every man and woman who owns a boat loves their boat above others. It is just not good manners to disrespect another person's boat.

Roger Wilson
Hanoah, Amel Sharki 41
Brunswick, ME

I was, at first, sucked in to the usual "OMG, somebody get that jetsam out of the water before it damages a reef!"

But, when I read the follow-up article today, in the January 10 'Lectronic Latitude, my opinion and awareness changed dramatically. As soon as I read that Larsen built his boat and sailed to and through the Great Barrier Reef, with no GPS, I thought, well, this is a true sailor in every sense of the word. What he's done since is added proof he is light years beyond all but the most fervent sailor. The fact that he's apparently humble is icing on the cake.

Fred Reynolds
Planet Latitude

Kris came into our loft in Maui (West Maui Sail and Canvas) after crew from the Trilogy V, who 'referred' the Coast Guard to give him a tow, said he might get some help from us. He was never "disoriented" [as a Coast Guard Press Release had stated]. He was just asking where a good place to anchor might be. When he was told there would be no charge to help him get in to a place where he could put his pick down, he took the tow. He said the Coasties were professional and helpful.

He wanted to get some used sail material to repair his sail. I'm a fan of junks myself (just finished a scow bow cruising junk with Jim Antrim we hope to build soon) and when he noticed the drawings hanging on the wall it started a great gab about the practical experience he had. What a wonder for me to get all that real info! And we had some old scrap under the floor that suited his needs perfectly. He wanted to carry the big bundle on the bus back to Maalaea, but I offered to drop it off by his beached dinghy on my way home from work.

His boat may not be like people expect to see cruising the world, but he was perfectly fit, happy, and a lot of fun for someone who just spent 104 days at sea. Especially in a boat without motor or electronics, and I know that one because I sailed my own home-built Ingrid for years without an electrical system.

As for being a 'seaman', I'd take Kris on the list anytime compared with today's button-pushing, app-enslaved cruisers, many of whom probably have never touched a sextant, let alone used one properly.

Kris was excited to be off for the Philippines to meet up with his American wife, and planned to leave as soon as he took stores, using the bus I'm sure. He said he had a big fishing schooner waiting for him in Darwin, had done 94,000 sea miles so far in his life, and just beamed with happiness talking about kicking the 100,000 mark on this last leg.

I don't think anyone has to worry about this guy. He's definitely no Rimas [Meleshyus], regardless of what his boat may look like. The junk rig is an amazing concept with thousands of years of development and, like scow bows, will be seen more in the future.

Barry Spanier
West Maui Sail and Canvas
Lahaina, HI

Independence and resourcefulness personified. Wow, no compass — guess that is not necessary if you are not particularly picky about where you are, where you are going, or when you get there. Kris is not afraid of manual labor, it seems. Kris's confidence and humility are very attractive.

We need a few more sailors on the Bay with that approach to life. Our national leadership could learn life lessons from this outstanding person. Cheers.

Charles Cunningham
San Saggio, Catalina 400

I wish there were more like him. Me included.

Fred Hodgson

Great article in the January 10 'Lectronic Latitude [Larsen and the Kehaar Darwin] and I agree with your very last sentence: "While some people are fussing ashore, they're off enjoying life as they like it."

While most societies push for more general freedoms, we have a tendency to judge and, worse, control those who don't care about all of society's comforts.

Nik Butterbaugh
Kailani, Benteau 440
Kailua, HI

With all the rescues of high-tech boats with low-skilled skippers these days, these low-tech boats with high-skilled sailors are worth a closer look. I find them fascinating and would love to read more in-depth interviews.

Planet Latitude

When a respected friend remarked on a vessel belonging to another friend, we under sail by that man's moored boat, he saying that it was to a low standard, or something like that, I replied, "He has very high standards; they're just not yours or mine."

Tom Woodruff
Palawan III, Colin Archer cutter
Portland, ME

Literally, whatever floats your boat. Fair winds and following seas to those who sail to a different beat. I'm sure Joshua Slocum had as many naysayers.

Ken Brinkley
Rumblefish, Cal 29
Portland, OR

Isn't the whole point that it isn't important what others think? By the way, I think [both Kris Larsen and 'simplified sailor' Glenn Tieman] are wonderful and I admire both men and their lifestyles.

Brian Timpe
Epic, Wilderness 1100 catamaran
Currently Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

To each his own. One of my favorite bumper stickers I've seen down in Guaymas, Mexico, said: "Everybody laughs at me because I am different, but I laugh the hardest because they are all the same!"

John Retzlaff
Planet Earth

First off, the name of the boat is Kehaar. Reporters are landlubbers and didn't understand that Darwin, written underneath the boat's name, is her homeport (Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia).

I might point out that, when forced to give up on his original plan to reach the Marquesas, Kris had just navigated from wherever he was, fighting wind and current, to within however-many miles of Hawaii, using a sextant. The last short bit into a harbor on Maui hardly deserves the term 'rescue'. Kris has sailed, unassisted, into dozens of harbors — including tight and crowded ones — all around Japan. In Hawaii he simply lost the wind behind the island and thought a bigger boat would easily tow him in. Many Aussie sailors are quite robust and easygoing about such things. Fear for one's safety is still not quite the holy sacrament it has become in the US. I don't think he expected the guys on Trilogy V to be so prissy.

Natalie Uhing
Darwin, Australia

Readers — When a Coast Guard report came across our desk from Hawaii in early January describing a "lost," "disoriented"sailor, it would eventually lead us to discover the incredible story of an adventurer whose travels reminded us of the opening lines of Moby Dick (quoted below).

After Roger Wilson told us there was more of a story behind Kris Larsen, we were curious, inspired and, once again, enlightened by our readers. People like Kris Larsen make sailing (and life) exciting. Many people dream — futilely — about living in a different time. Larsen has managed to animate his old-school ethos into the modern world by shunning conveniences such as motors and electronics, to say nothing of modern navigation.

He also refused to go through the motions of the world's bureaucracies. Larsen used to coast into foreign ports such as Mauritius, Madagascar and Durban lacking the proper paperwork, like boat registration or certificates of inoculation. When asked for the required entry fees, port charges and cruising permit required to sail, Larsen would reportedly tell officials, "Sorry, no money. Rather than conform, Kris preferred to haggle and outfox the port authorities. He usually got away with it," wrote James Baldwin in his book, The Next Distant Sea (which is quoted at length in the aforementioned website

Before his travels began, Larsen had his share of bad breaks, "which he now blamed mostly on a weakness for Aussie beer," Baldwin wrote. "He found himself divorced, broke, and homeless. Looking back on a decade of settled life with nothing to show for it, he did what many men in similar situations do: He decided to go to sea on his own boat as soon as he could arrange it. Most failed men also fail at making their escape. But Kris was not most men. He swore off alcohol, returned to work, and began saving money."

Baldwin went on to quote Larsen as saying that, "Every real man who lived his life in full can dig up moments he is profoundly ashamed of. Often it was not his choice, when life forced his hand. That is not an excuse, though. If a bloke tells you that he has nothing to be ashamed of in his whole long life, he is either lying, or he never really lived."

Baldwin said that, "From his adventures on a steel boat to his unique life philosophy, Kris reminded me of that rare breed of adventurer, the controversial sailor-guru Bernard Moitessier."

Our readers' comments again reminded us that, while some are drawn to the high-tech, all-carbon, foiling world of the sport, the vast majority come to sailing for simplicity and escape. Many people dream of simplifying their lives, shedding the excess of our existence, unplugging, and sailing toward the horizon — and some manage to actually do it, though the 'shedding' remains especially tricky.

Sailors like Larsen, Moitessier and Slocum have set aspirations for the rest of us to chase. Even if we don't go fully 'Amish' on the water, just reaching for some ideal usually brings us closer to where we strive to be. We'll admit, we feel a small connection to all of those 'sailor gurus' — even if it's a contrived notion and we're just fooling ourselves — as we cast off the docklines of our Columbia 24 for a daysail on the Bay, because it refreshes our perspective and reminds us that there's more to life than the trappings that lie ashore. We tip our hat to Kris Larsen, and wish him a slow, adventure-filled sail toward home.

As promised, here are the opening lines of Moby Dick:

"Call me Ishmael. Some years ago — never mind how long precisely — having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos [a period of depression, deep gloom, or morbid low spirits] get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off — then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me." — th/ja



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