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March 2018

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Good news from the BCDC. Following their loss in the Point Buckler Delta case with John Sweeney and the riotous support from the masses for Westpoint Harbor in Redwood City, things are changing. It appears their efforts to clean up the Bay are largely complete and the agency will likely start winding down its operations. How do we know? As we mentioned in Loose Lips last month, among the BCDC's many regulatory citations, one of the issues cited in a multi-page complaint against Scott's waterfront restaurant in Jack London Square includes the following concerns from the chief enforcement officer: "All of the tables should be silver and round, and they were not. Instead four were silver and square, and 10 were brown and round." Clearly, if an agency created to improve the Bay now has the time to concern itself with the shape and color of tables at waterfront restaurants, its work must surely be finished. Granted, there were more serious charges raised against Scott's, but if we were an agency hoping for a shred of public support, we'd probably leave the tables out of the report.

Likewise with Westpoint Harbor, which is a beautifully built, environmentally friendly marina that has created public access out of a waste zone. In response to an ongoing BCDC action against Westpoint, a petition has been circulating and has almost 5,000 signatures in support of the marina and calling on the California legislature and state auditor to investigate the BCDC. What's more, numerous advocates have been willing to trek to BCDC headquarters in San Francisco to testify on behalf of Westpoint, a testament to the waterfront value Mark Sanders has delivered to South Bay residents. (The next opportunity for community support of Westpoint Harbor will be at the BCDC offices near City Hall at 55 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco, on March 15.)

Amidst the blight that was post-industrial San Francisco Bay in 1965, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission was formed to "encourage the Bay's responsible and productive use for this and future generations" as well as being "tasked with requiring maximum feasible public access within the Bay's 100-foot shoreline band." In the 50-plus years since, the BCDC and other agencies have done a remarkable job in restoring the Bay's health. For those of you who grew up in the Bay Area in the '70s, you might remember seeing mattresses, washing machines and all manner of outrageous flotsam littering the shoreline. Back in the day, we remember hearing people say, "The Bay should just be filled in, because it's full of raw sewage and it stinks."

Today, the vast, multi-county expanse of San Francisco Bay is teeming with life, including humpback whales, seals, porpoise, windsurfers, kiters and sailors. Last summer, Bay Area waters received "remarkable grades" from, a nonprofit that monitors water quality throughout California. Heal the Bay found that "100% of the 15 monitored beaches" in San Francisco County earned A or B grades in 2017, even after the torrential rains and toxic runoff from last winter. If Alcatraz Sharkfest Swim had been held 50 years ago, you might have dissolved before you hit the shore, but today, the event sells out, attesting to everyone's enjoyment of our waters and the faith that the Bay is clean and safe.

Unfortunately, the once-admirable mission of the BCDC has now become more toxic to the people around the Bay Area than the spoils that it was created to clean up.

Fifty years ago, the BCDC had numerous supporters as they took on industrial and municipal entities whose unfiltered pipes were dumping straight into the Bay. The fact that public support appears to have swung almost 180° from those days suggests it's time for a course correction. As so often happens, the well-intentioned mission has turned into an overzealous bureaucracy that has lost sight of the values it once shared with its natural allies. The public — which enjoys swimming, paddling, fishing and sailing on the Bay — finds their Bay access points and marine service facilities threatened by a well-meaning staff who appear to have lost sight of the agency's mission for "responsible and productive use" and "maximum feasible public access." As the saying goes, having lost sight of our objective, we've redoubled our efforts.

Over the last 50 years we've all added holding tanks, welcomed increased pump-out stations, switched to biodegradeable soaps, continued our education, reduced, reused, recycled, participated in beach cleanups, and continued to support a more sustainable Bay. However, as we look at the various artist's renderings of proposed new waterfront condo developments complete with views of elegant sailboats seen from condo decks, we wonder how much longer those sailboats will be there to enhance the views and lifestyle of these new waterfront dwellers.

If we were the BCDC, we'd do all we could to expand access, because we know that if more people get in and on the Bay, more people will want to protect its waters. We'd add launch ramps with nearby adjacent parking (like the major public ramp expansion on Shelter Island in San Diego), we'd make sure there was an ample number of boatyards and marine services, and we'd make sure any proposed waterfront development incorporated expanded Bay access — that does not mean a path allowing you to walk near the Bay, it means a beach, a dock, a ramp, a marina and any other facility that increases the ease and frequency of Bay use.

Finally, we'd suggest that the BCDC sponsor the Westpoint Regatta as a gesture of goodwill to South Bay sailors. While we understand that there are fine points to be ironed out between a business and a regulatory body, we think that Westpoint's overwhelming environmentally friendly design is something to be celebrated — as is the BCDC itself.

Without question, the Bay is better because of the BCDC, so we should be applauding their success rather than defending against its overreach.

Readers — Next month, we will bring you the BCDC's response to this editorial. And in May, we'll have a response from Mark Sanders at Westpoint Harbor.

Thanks for your stories about Westpoint Harbor, and for letting people know about their struggles with BCDC. Certainly, what Mark Sanders has done is quite remarkable and it's a shame that BCDC has sailed so far off course from its real purpose, to focus on improving the Bay — which is exactly what Mark has done.

I also found the story about Bay Area restaurants [January 15 'Lectronic] quite ironic. Why? Because the following posting celebrated the Bay's waterfront restaurants, which are similarly subject to BCDC's jurisdiction. For example, Scott's Seafood Restaurant on the Oakland Estuary has been targeted by BCDC's chief of enforcement, big-time.

Really? With the mess we have on Richardson Bay — which is ranked as the fourth highest on BCDC's own enforcement prioritization list — they are going after Westpoint Harbor, which is ranked #24, and Scott's #67, out of the 170 targeted 'offenders' on their list. This is absolutely incredible!

If Gene McAteer were alive today, the man who co-authored the legislation that created BCDC, and knew his vision of the agency had turned into a body focused on inspecting and counting the number of chairs and colors and table shapes, I think he'd be terribly disappointed, to say the least.

Planet Ocean

We were in Marina Village for months on our way south from Seattle to (eventually) Australia. We loved our time sailing on the Bay. Access is a critical component of preservation.

Mike and Liz Scott
Argonaut, Cal 40
Currently in Australia

Mike and Liz — It might be hard for anyone arriving on the San Francisco Bay waterfront to imagine what's already been lost. Much of today's concerns are looking to save the remnants of a multi-decade decline in access and services. The Bay Area has lost more than 30 boatyards in the last several decades. Alameda had three boatyards 10 years ago, but, after Svendsen's moved to Richmond, the Boat Yard at Grand Marina is the last facility on the island.

The new condo project adjacent to Grand Marina was formerly a collection of small marine businesses, while the condo project down the street at 2100 Clement was home to Wylie Design Group and North Coast Yachts, builders of Wylie Wabbits, Hawkfarms, Wylie 34s and numerous other boats. The seniors' home at Mariner Square once housed many marine services, sailboat dealers and North Sails, and also hosted one of the most successful boat shows in the Bay Area. Then there are the silting channels of San Rafael, San Leandro and Petaluma, just to name a few. You can drive the waterfront and see once-active launch ramps now crumbling and inaccessible.

To be fair, some of this has been the result of a decline in participation. With the 'chicken and egg' nature of life, it's hard to know which came first: Are declines in participation the result of declines in access and services, or is it the other way around? Regardless, we think it would be much harder to add back what was removed than to simply preserve the limited access points that remain.
The enormous effort and challenges faced by Mark Sanders to develop a new marina on vacant, toxic land near the Bay are a clear example of the hurdles. The small marine businesses in Alameda that once employed local people are now housing for commuters struggling to get on and off the island via narrow, congested tunnels and bridges. If you were a young, mechanically inclined craftsman with entrepreneurial dreams, what kind of capital and stamina would you need to open a new boatyard on the waterfront?

And what if all those people living in the condos start looking longingly at the Bay and decide they want to go sailing? The way things are going, it would probably be faster to commute to the City by sailboat. — ja

Amazing, simply amazing. Another road to hell. I read the [January 22 'Lectronic] article and kept shaking my head; what an exercise in bureaucratic stupidity. Sounds like the typical antics of homeowners' associations in Southern California — conflicting rules created by anal-retentive martinets.

Does anyone at the BCDC acknowledge that they are contradicting state and federal rules which supersede any local ordinances and edicts by lesser organizations? All I can say is that I am glad I don't live in the People's Republik of Northern California. Hell, it's bad enough down here!


Your continued support of our community efforts to save Westpoint Harbor is most appreciated. It gives the perspective of the boating community and is well balanced. We had a major effort to get the word out about a BCDC meeting, and your readership is the best source of both concerned and informed people in the water-oriented community.

We are going to include all of the Latitude and 'Lectronic Latitude articles and letters in the public record. It's not clear the BCDC commissioners are aware of the staff actions, and your collective thoughtful voices are a wonderful balanced approach to them. Thanks again and we will keep you posted.

Bob Wilson
Mystic, Grand Banks 36
Westpoint Harbor, Redwood City

I think that, like the Federal Communications Commission, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission has overstepped its bounds and needs to have its charter revised. Too much power in the hands of just a few unelected persons.

Matthew Peterson
FastBottoms Hull Diving

Nothing like a bright light in the room to get the rats scurrying. It is time for more then just a few good men to do something. Large groups of "concerned" citizens showing up at hearings may be what the BCDC understands. It would be nice if there were a way to vote to cut off BCDC funds that they are using to attack Westpoint Harbor. Watching the BCDC use my tax dollars to destroy a model harbor project that I very much support is one of life's great frustrations.

Chad McNamee
Enter Laughing, Little Harbor 44
Portsmouth, RI

I think it is time for the legislature to look into disbanding the BCDC, which may have once served a vital purpose but has now descended into power grabbing for its own sake. There seems to be a great deal of duplication of effort by governmental bodies to protect San Francisco Bay.

Also, great to see the bit about Glenn and Gaby in 'Lectronic Latitude on January 31. I sailed with them on Re-Quest before moving up to Seattle. Open the dictionary and look up "class" and you will probably see their picture there.

Chuck Barrett
Away, Cobalt 246
Seattle, WA

Chuck — We're not at all surprised to hear kind comments about the Isaacsons from you and other readers. — cw

I am a 29-year-old nurse and lover of the water currently living in Sacramento. I have college sailing experience at the University of Southern California, and I'm also part of a sailing co-op in the Bay Area, where I'm learning how to be a competent and useful crew member. I was so excited to come across your website and learn about the Baja Ha-Ha cruise.

It's a dream of mine to sail from San Diego to Baja. Can you please let me know what I can do to join one of the boats in this year's rally, how much it would cost me, and if I need any certifications? Also, can you please let me know if there are any other sailing events in California that I can get involved in? Thank you!

Tiffany Sanders

Tiffany —We have a few suggestions for you:
1. Sign up on our free online crew list. For the Baja Ha-Ha, use the 'Mexico-Only' Crew Form. You'll find it on our website at

2. Come to our Crew List Party on March 7 at Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco. $7 cash admission. See

3. Get involved in sailing near you. Hone your skills on small boats at Lake Washington Sailing Club:

4. Go to Stockton Sailing Club or a Bay Area yacht club to get involved in crewing on larger boats. Spring racing is starting up, and skippers are always looking for crew. Joining a race team is a great way to further hone your sailing skills and learn the fine points of being part of a crew.

5. Go to the Pacific Boat Show in Richmond on April 19-22. Pick up our April issue for the boat show planner insert, and also see for details.

6. There are no certifications required to crew on a Ha-Ha boat, but local sailing schools offer excellent courses with certifications for anyone wanting to get a solid knowledge base and gain experience and confidence.

Good luck and have fun! — cw

I very much enjoyed your February issue article Sea Lion Bite Survivor Saved by Sailor, as it illustrated how sailors are often first responders and therefore need to be prepared for all kinds of emergencies. The swimmer who was bitten by the sea lion was very lucky because, as the EMTs later explained, the bleeding caused by the bite created a potentially life-threatening situation.

Few people realize that uncontrolled bleeding is the number-one cause of preventable death from trauma. It is for this reason that the American College of Surgeons is now recommending that Bleeding Control Kits be part of first-aid kits — and sailors should take note. I would encourage those who wish to learn more to visit

John Henry
Fleur de Mer, Beneteau Oceanis 38

Jumping into roles, the ones we dream about when we're doing all the seemingly super-important stuff that life tosses our way. So why not join along sailing sleek and fast toward a landfall many, many miles away? I swallowed the anchor after selling Tramuntana, my Catana 431 formidable French cat once christened Bright Wing by the late John Walton (see A Girl's Gotta Do, Part 1 in Latitude 38's August 2010 issue). The Marquesas was, is, and continues to be a place I need to experience, so as every year Latitude 38 proudly puts the allure of the Pacific Puddle Jump so attainable, it was the saving of the September 2017 issue that allowed fresh confirmation of why it's time to cast off the lines.

Luck seems to find me, a rusty thrown shoe but game for more of what once defined me. I'll be a crewmember of Sao Nicolau, the Jeanneau DS45 crossing in March, making this a high-water mark of taking a big bite outta the ass of life. Pacific Puddle Jumpers class of 2018, I am humbled and freckled with fantastic thanks at this opportunity of pure kismet.

Opportunity shows up; do we sit it out? The opportunity to invite my Barcelona-born dock rats (Catana 431 Far Niente, 2000-2003, Port Vell) to meet me on the other side of the Pacific. It's a Spring Break adventure air mystique. I'm using it to gel images of downwind forays of fun, of sand and surf, expose 'em to the sailing community in its native habitat. This is where I may need a hand from the fleet.

The dad feels uneasy to have sons awaiting Mom; Mom thinks an island is a contained jungle gym, much like the kid-proofed catamaran they once explored. Latitude 38 readers might help hatch a plan to assuage one worry — Sao Nicklau's not making landfall by April 3. It would be a real help to have a boat or two available as a local contact. A sailing host that's looking for child labor, yes completely third world, yet they are both highly capable young men: Collin is almost 16 and RC just a few weeks shy of legal age. They can scrub a head and cook a soufflé while fixing your Wi-Fi — rebooting the world of welcome to paradise while they wait, just in case we arrive in port later than April 3. There's an Airbnb booked for us, so they've got a place. Readers/cruisers can touch base at .

It's French for me, baby. French boats, French Polynesia and the delicious things of a certain Sportif swagger. Yes, all of it. Let's indulge — be French or at least cast a wide-brimmed hat in the direction of the beauty that is the South Pacific.

Wishing for fair winds and phosphorescence in my wake.

Christine Currie, KF6UFG
Miss B Haven, 1952 Lyman 17-ft woodie
Santa Cruz/Saugatuck, MI

Readers — Christine adds: "My little lovely Lyman is a 17-ft slice of cute; she's the rare-ish side-steer version. A nice way to explore the Lakeshore and proximity of Great Lakes and ponds." — cw

As my favorite bareboat charter destination, I can surely appreciate the high marks given the Salish Sea in your Charter Notes [in the January issue of Latitude]. Although informative, I hardly saw the report as a "detailed look" at chartering in those "well-protected waters of the Pacific Northwest." Permit me to highlight the section between Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park and the region of Quadra and Cortes Islands, where my crew and I accomplished a portion of our 15-day charter last summer on a Hanse 495.

Our most exciting destination was Octopus Islands Marine Provincial Park and neighboring Waiatt Bay. Those granite islands comprise a tight cluster along the northeastern shore of Quadra Island, offering secluded anchoring surrounded closely by forest trees. The Park opens into Waiatt Bay toward the southeast — an expansive bay offering shallow anchoring depths near 30 feet even at its center.

It was a peaceful, uncrowded site where we lingered four nights. It's easy to go ashore there for short hikes on forest trails to either Newton Lake or Small Inlet Marine Park — both worthy destinations. You also mentioned the challenge of rapid currents, which indeed must be met heading to the Octopus Islands and Waiatt Bay from the southeast. The course made is via Beazley Passage into Surge Narrows.

Whereas the tidally forced currents of such passages are not to be casually approached, they are certainly practicable with planning. The guides advise transiting during periods of slack current.

After clearing the passage returning southeast, a delightful destination not far is Gorge Harbour at Cortes Island. One finds there a quaint village with a general store, restaurant, pub, showers, laundry and summertime activities.

Additionally, there's a marina, with a fuel dock, offering transient slips; and you can get water there as well (200-liter limit). I felt adventure transiting "the gorge" into the harbor as I imagined Poseidon might arise as in Jason and the Argonauts to hold back the towering rocks!

We come finally to Desolation Sound, a destination of renown. The dramatic scene greeting you entering the Sound is incomparable — that, I do admit! But as a popular summertime destination, it was crowded in Prideaux Haven and other anchorages nearby. Deciding on a suitable anchoring spot required trial and error. For us, it seemed the choice destination of power boaters, for we were surrounded by them by the end of our first day.

The charting destinations that the Salish Sea offers are vast in number, but each is nevertheless unique. I never fatigue of its scenery. To "detail" the Salish Sea would likely take a year's worth of issues of Latitude 38. But you have done your readership a courtesy by pointing future charter vacations in that direction.

Bon Voyage!

Ray Wilson
King's Gambit, Bavaria 38E
Long Beach

I grew up in Seattle around the Seattle Yacht Club in the 1940s and was an out-of-state member till the '80s, having moved back to the Bay Area in 1950. My father was a member of Seattle YC from 1941 till his passing in 1981. I note in his 1979 club roster that Dorade was still sailing and was owned by Charlie Ross. I know she was very actively raced during her years in the Northwest. I'm sure a research of Seattle YC's racing history will show her name in many of long-distance races during her life in the area.

Doug Murray
Murmur, Hunter 356
South Beach, San Francisco

Doug — Interesting point. We gathered Dorade's results from, which makes no mention of her time in Seattle (the results skip from 1953 to 1997). Following your tip, we discovered the book Dorade: The History of an Ocean Racing Yacht by Douglas A. Adkins. We picked up the story after Ralph James — Dorade's third owner in a decade since she left New York — sold her to John Franklin Eddy, "a scion of one of the great lumber and commercial families of the Pacific Northwest," and one of Dorade's longest continuous owners. The Sparkman & Stephens yawl would go on to make various types of history in Seattle.

Upon his death in 1978, Eddy bequeathed Dorade to Mystic Seaport "for its charitable, scientific and educational purposes." But she never went to Connecticut. Mystic put her up for auction immediately, and she was bought by Antonio Gomez, a retired airline pilot who "had loved the boat for decades, was enchanted by Dorade's beauty and fame, by tales of her races and her owners."
This is where Charlie Ross comes in (though we're not entirely sure how — we were reading Adkins' book off the Internet, where two pages were unavailable. We tried tracking down a hard copy before deadline with no luck, so please forgive yet another abbreviated history). Ross was apparently the skipper and a central figure in organizing crew — as well as tempering Gomez. Prior to the Swiftsure Race, which involved a prestigious gathering of yachts in front of the Empress Hotel in Victoria, Gomez chugged sangria out of a bota bag while dancing naked on Dorade's foredeck.

Meanwhile, Ross had something to prove. Many sailors didn't think Dorade was up for the grueling Swiftsure, believing that "her days of long distance ocean racing were over," Adkins wrote. "The Transpac committee had doubts as well. Charlie Ross sought to allay them by successfully completing the Canadian race, being admitted to race to Honolulu and then heading south for the Transpac in early July."

In that year's Swiftsure, Ross skippered Dorade through a gale, and she eventually ran aground. The crew feared the worst (especially Gomez, who did not know how to swim), Ross got Dorade off the sand and continued with the race. She came into a crossing situation with Zubin Ubi II, a 44-ft fiberglass sloop. Approaching on port, Ross bore away to take the sloop's stern. Believing that Dorade wasn't going to make it, Zubin also bore away, sending the boats careening toward each other head on "with a combined speed approaching 20 knots. The boats collided, with Dorade's slender but powerful wooden bow" splitting through the fiberglass boat and sinking her.

There are few boats with such an amazing and expansive history, which includes both glorious and inglorious moments, as Dorade. Thanks for the reminder.

Readers — Doug Murray added: "I have been a faithful reader for years. My wife and I were fortunate to take off in 1991, at the age of 54, for six years on our Liberty 458 down the coast. I have our Some Like it Hot T-shirts from 1991-92 that we got in Cabo upon arrival, before the first Baja Ha-Ha.
"We cruised through the Panama Canal all the way down to Trinidad, then to Fort Lauderdale, then trucked back to San Francisco — six years to get there and six days to get back. We were featured in Changes In Latitudes many times in the '90s. My motto is 'Go now; don't wait!'" — th

I very much enjoyed reading your Buffett story in the October 18 'Lectronic Latitude. It brought to mind a tale of two Buffett lovers, sailing and heading south. It was the 1986 Pacific Cup aboard the Express 27 Light'n Up, and we were about halfway. It was not a very windy year, just average and kind of boring.

The squalls were 'suck squalls' that year — in other words when one hits, it somehow sucks all the wind off the ocean and you just bob there and get rained on. One night a big one hit and we took the kite down and went below. Hours later at sunrise it stopped. We poked our heads out of the hatch with the half-ounce and noticed that there was an Express 37, like, 100 feet from us! But their kite was all wrapped in a knot in the rig, with lines over the side and no one on deck. It was a riot to see. The wind was beginning to build, so we set and, bing bango bongo, we were off like a bride's nightie.

Gary Clifford, my shipmate who did not let any small deed go uncelebrated, was pumped up and happy as a sailor could be. He came up from below with two Buffett-inspired 'boat drinks' and a boom box with Buffett all queued up. "Cheers," he said. "Last night sucked big time, but here we go! This is great, just friggin' great!" He proceeded to put the boom box on the cabin top and hit play, and there we were in Buffett-land.

After the boat drinks hit, the mood was awesome. We put on our straw hats, laughed at that E37 sight and plotted our victory. That is when I noticed the wind had started to change direction. "Holy shit Gary, we just got a giant header. We are pointed at Hawaii and the wind is abeam and the pole is on the headstay. OMG! We are going to hose the fleet now! So more boat drinks and celebration — the mood got better, and we were overbearing in victory!

Later that day, when we did a peel and had to remove the boom box, we noticed that the header had gone away. That's when we noticed that the boom box was next to the compass! Oh no! The compass swung back about 90 degrees and there went our glorious header and victory. Yes, Jimmy was there — his boat drinks had taken their toll and his music had headed us south to Mexico for a whole wondrous day!


Thanks for all your Randall Reeves coverage. I am a fan; I've read every one of his blog posts from crewing on the Northwest Passage to finding the 'right' boat for the Figure 8 Voyage. I wish him all the luck in the world and anxiously await each new post. I've got an old world globe with a yellow stickie for Randall's position that I update daily. Go Mo!

Jim Sinclair
C'est la Vie, (a sailor stuck in a powerboat)
Portland, OR

I used to sail out of Santa Cruz but got transferred to Colorado about 18 years ago, so I haven't had much chance to sail since. I now live vicariously through your magazine, in spirit with all the Changes in Latitudes and the races. Please continue reporting about Randall Reeves and the Figure 8, along with all the other sailing stories out there.

I've finally gotten my wife to agree to take sailing lessons, after about 20 years of pleading, finagling, bribery etc. We plan on going to San Diego and getting bareboat-certified this coming spring or summer, then it's off to charter in the Caribbean, the Med and the South Pacific.

Anyway, until we can actually do this, we follow your stories. Thank you for your writing and reporting, the Baja Ha-Ha, (which we plan on doing someday) and all the other ways you promote sailing.

Rick and Ruth Bernal
Falcon, CO

Rick — We're just the vessel. The real stars are the sailors! — th

How about an edition or two without any mention of that damned Baja Ha-Ha. Please!

Planet Latitude

Chris — It's true that, while it's only two weeks a year the Baja Ha-Ha takes up a fair amount of ink and gigabytes in Latitude, especially with the 25th anniversary of the rally approaching this fall.

For some perspective, our newest editor was in San Diego last October for the Ha-Ha kick-off parade. The sheer size of it — as well as the unmistakable spirit — was something truly special to see. When more than 100 boats clog San Diego Bay, you get the sense that something important in the sailing world is happening. — th

I have always liked/loved and cringed at White Squall. I agree with virtually all of your assessment [from a January 5 'Lectronic, where we called White Squall a great sailing film with plenty of excellent footage, but also, contrived, "as if the film were desperate to be dramatic and taken seriously."]

But the one thing about the movie that leaps out now 20 years post-release is the lack of electronic diversion: No scenes of the boys lying in their bunks or sitting on exotic beaches staring at screens, which is undoubtedly what would have been the case today. One of the gifts of sailing (which I hope I have imparted to my children) is the opportunity to decompress and to gain self-confidence in doing a tough job well. I think of how diminished the experience aboard the Albatross would have been had it occurred today.

PS: A big thank you, 'Lectronic Latitude and Latitude 38. I am temporarily living in London and going through terrible withdrawal at not being able to roll out of bed and onto a boat. Logging onto your site is as torturous as it is rewarding as I see familiar names of boats and sailors your mag. It stokes the longing, but also lets me feel close to home waters. Thank you.

Michael Weinman
Landlocked in London

I crewed as an Able Body Seaman on the Albatros (the Dutch spelling) during 1956, '57 and '58 in the Atlantic, Pacific, North Atlantic and the North Sea. Between the movie White Squall and the book The Last Voyage of the Albatross [which the movie was based on, written by real-life crew member Chuck Gieg] it's fantasy versus reality.

Steve Gann
Boomer, Cal 40

Until the tragic collision of Vestas/11th Hour Racing and a fishing boat near the Leg 4 finish in Hong Kong, I was thoroughly enjoying the online coverage of the Volvo Ocean Race. I probably watched at least 15 hours of the amazing videos from the boats. It was thrilling, and a bit scary, to see the crews push the boats hard, often in extreme conditions. But even before the lucky man-overboard recovery on Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, it was increasingly unsettling to watch the crews on deck without life vests or harnesses, day and night, often in 30-plus knots of breeze, with spray and green water smashing into the cockpit. I can count on one hand the videos that showed anyone tethered in.

It's not just the danger the unprotected crewmembers pose to themselves, their shipmates and their boats. It's not just the risk additional lost lives would pose for the future of the race. It's the message being sent to the millions of sailors around the world, particularly younger ones ­­— it's OK to be reckless as long as you're good.

The broadcast team on the website and the sailors they've interviewed have danced around the issue. The sailors on the boats don't discuss it. Someone should say it. The skippers of the boats should require everyone on deck to wear harnesses and clip in all the time they are offshore and not becalmed. They should require everyone on deck to wear life vests at night and any time the breeze is up. If the skippers won't require it, the race committee should.

Buzz Blackett
California Condor, Jim Antrim-designed Class 40
Point Richmond

Sorry to hear about our Corinthian YC shipmate Greg Quilici's losing his hard dodger [after an electric winch malfunction]. Rochelle and I have a Catalina 470, Mischief, and noted an instance of the runaway cabin-top electric mainsheet winch on the C470 Owners Forum.

I recall the problem was that the control button malfunctioned in the 'on' position and ran until the winch overheated and popped the breaker, but no dodgers were claimed to be harmed in that event. Our response upon reading this [from January 24's 'Lectronic Latitude] was to replace our aging control buttons, and to (usually) remember to disconnect our winch circuit breaker when away from Mischief. I'm thinking we need to secure the mainsheet off the winch as a further precaution — the Catalina hard dodger is a very expensive item!

Marty and Rochelle Thamm
Mischief, Catalina 470

All six winches on our boat Soozal are electric Harken 50.3s. We always make it a habit to unwrap the mainsheet on our German mainsheet system winches and hold the sheets in place via jam cleats. Taking the wraps off the winches insures that an accidental firing of the winches will not have any effect on what they are connected to. We also have a large red master-power cutoff switch for all of the winches located near the main breaker panel, and we make sure that this separate main power switch is turned off before leaving the boat.

Daniel Woolery
Soozal, King 40
Dana Point

I have had this happen on Moontide twice over the last 12 years, and both times it was due to the microswitch in the foot pedal getting stuck. (I'm on my third set of switches in 12 years of heavy use — come on, Harken and Lewmar.) Both times the switches failed to cut out as the main was being two-blocked. I never knew I could get a line out of the self-tailer that fast. I now hand-tail the last couple of feet of halyard every time.

At maybe $40 or $50 a pop for the branded switches, I went to an electronics supply house, and for around a buck apiece replaced the switches.

Bill Lilly
Moontide, Lagoon 470
Currently in Tyrell Bay, Carricou, Grenada

I have a Catalina 470 and the same thing happened to me with a Harken power winch — luckily I was aboard and was able to trip the circuit breaker before it did any damage. I had an electrician look at it, and he said it was wired wrong. From that point on, I turn off the circuit breaker for all electric winches (the boat has three) before leaving.

Mike Muttart
Day Dream, Catalina 470
Alamitos Bay

I've seen this happen twice in the last year. The first was at Richmond Yacht Club; I was walking down C dock headed for my boat and I heard a squealing coming from a Beneteau 40.7. I found the winch running and the jib sheet fraying, and pieces were all over the deck. I tapped the activation switch/button a few times and it stopped, so I thought, OK, but when I started to walk away it started up again. I removed the jib sheet from the winch and called the office manager to contact the owner of the boat. (I did notice that the rubber button of the switch was cracked and brittle from sun damage.)

The second instance was in the BVI. I was busy working on deck on our boat and I heard a mainsheet creaking and cracking and pulling — on the boat directly behind me. I looked over and saw the boom getting lower and lower and lower . . . When I was about to run over to the boat, I noticed the owner was scrambling to get out of the way because it looked like the boom was going to come down all the way to the binnacle — but then it stopped. The owner mentioned this has happened to him three times.

I recently changed out all of my electric winch deck switches, which just had the rubber button exposed to the sun (they were cracked and a few had little holes), with new switches that have a lid that closes over the rubber button. This will keep the sun off the rubber button(s) and my grandson's fingers off buttons too!

Captain Steve Hill
Soirée, Beneteau 49
Nanny Cay, Tortola

In regard to malfunctioning electric winches, yes I have heard of it before. It happened on my own boat. It wasn't the winch that was malfunctioning, but the microswitch inside the push-button. The switch corrodes, then short-circuits on its own, and stops working either open or closed.

It happened when I was hoisting the main on my 57-footer — the winch just kept going. Fortunately I was there; I just took the halyard off the self-tailer and asked for someone to trip the breaker. No harm done. I just replaced the switch.
However, when I was cruising in the South Pacific I met a German lady who lost her husband in a horrific way because of the same issue. She was hoisting her husband up the rig, halyard on the self-tailer, when the switch failed closed; one leg of the husband jammed under the V of the lower shroud, but his body kept being hoisted all the way to the top as she panicked and could not remove the halyard from the self-tailer. His leg was torn, and he died.

From that day forward, I never hoist anyone using the self-tailer, and I've instructed my three boys to do the same.

Please tell everyone.

Frederic Laffitte
Kyrnos, Tim Barnet custom 57
Seattle, WA

The article on winches brought to mind one of the scariest moments of our two-year cruise aboard our Wylie 65 Saga. Her mast stood 95 feet off the water, so the electric halyard winch was imperative for my 5'3", 125-pound wife to haul all 200 pounds of me to the top. Because the winch was located inside the pilothouse, it necessitated a bit of gymnastics to operate the winch and communicate with me.

Arriving in the Rio Dulce, we couldn't find the measurements for the bridge height and decided the easiest thing to do was to eyeball from the top of the mast. As I got to the second spreader, my ankle caught inside the shroud and I was very close to getting yanked out of the harness or having my foot torn off. Because the engine was running, my wife had difficulty hearing my frantic 'instructions' and barely stopped in time. Like most accidents, it was entirely caused by operator error — in this case my own inattention. We had several feet to spare on the bridge, so the whole exercise was unnecessary in the first place.

Matt Stone
Ex-Saga, Wylie 65

Some years ago there were reports — in Latitude 38 I'm sure — of electric anchor windlasses self-actuating. If I recall correctly, one or two cruising boats upped anchor and drifted off somewhere in Mexico. In one case the owners were ashore hiking and heard the chain clicking up and were able to get back aboard in time to save/capture the boat.

The takeaway was to always turn off the breaker. I think it was assumed moisture had caused a circuit to close and turn the winch on.

Cliff Shaw
Rainbow, Crowther 10m catamaran
San Francisco Bay

My wife and I spent Saturday night at Ayala Cove and it appears to have been dredged. Last year we could not get to any of the mooring balls unless it was at least a +4-ft tide. Saturday we came in close to high tide and had 11 feet of water. Even at low tide we had 8.5.

We draw 8 feet and did not have any problems getting in or out. Maybe others can confirm or deny this. It makes spending a night in the cove much easier not having to plan around the tides as much.

Greg and Lynn vanDalen
Escapade, Cal 39 MkII

Greg — We can't definitively answer your question at this time, and hope to take this opportunity to solicit information from our readers. In the meantime, we'll quote Dane Faber, a longtime Marin sailor. "The cove is still too shallow at a zero tide. The middle of the mooring field has about 3-4 feet at a zero tide. The perimeter moorings are better, likely due to the shape of the cove and how the tidal currents circulate." In 2016, Faber was working on a campaign to lobby government representatives to have Ayala Cove dredged.

To our knowledge, this hasn't happened yet. Has anyone heard differently? Please write us at — th

There was an alert this morning at 3 a.m. for a possible tsunami starting at 6 a.m. I was anchored overnight in Richardson Bay on my Beneteau First 29 in about 13 feet of water. Until the alert was canceled at 4 a.m., I was racking my brain and Googling like crazy to figure out what I should do. The best I could come up with was to get into much deeper water. What do you and your readers suggest?

Ian Tuller
Beneteau First 29

In 1976, I was aboard a NOAA vessel that surveyed Hilo Harbor for marine charting. As Latitude readers may know, Hilo has a rather dubious distinction of having experienced many tsunamis, some of which came from earthquakes generated locally by the active volcano on the Island of Hawaii, others by earthquakes generated in distant locales.

The captain met with all of the bridge officers (who might be on watch when a tsunami warning was received) to discuss options. We had earlier received a briefing about the amount of time we'd have between a tsunami warning's being issued and the anticipated arrival of said tsunami: If the earthquake originated in Alaska or Japan, we'd have several hours' warning. If it originated locally, we'd have maybe 15 minutes. The captain said that if he was not aboard and we were tied up to a pier, we should evacuate the ship immediately. If we were anchored out, we should let all the anchor chain go if it was a locally generated earthquake, and head to sea immediately. That discussion made for lost sleep for many of us, I suspect.

In 1979, I was again aboard a NOAA vessel working in the eastern Gulf of Alaska when the Coast Guard advised mariners that there was a tsunami alert for the area where we were doing oceanographic observations, which involved a pattern of lines that ran fairly close to shore and then back out into deep water, so the captain took a look at the pattern and adjusted the lines to ensure we'd be in deep water at the time any tsunami was projected to hit.

There was no tsunami, but it made for an eventful few hours, especially after the Coast Guard asked us to help them contact a university research vessel that was in the area and not responding to their repeated attempts to hail them. We were finally able to raise the university vessel, and it turned out nearly everyone was ashore; the person on duty had no idea how to get the vessel underway, and there was no way to contact anyone ashore. Poor planning, that.
What both of these experiences taught me was to think through what steps to take to safeguard lives and, if possible, property. It's not unlike thinking through what one would do in the event of fire, crew overboard or other potentially dangerous scenarios those of us who spend time on boats might face.

Cheryl Laufle

My college pals and I were surfing at Bolinas when the tidal wave from the 1964 Alaska quake arrived in the Bay Area. Bolinas being a south-facing beach, the effect was minimal there. I described it as a tide cycle that lasted 10 minutes instead of the usual 11.5 hours. Our towels and clothes on the beach got wet, but the ride on our boards was not memorable.

Bill Crowley
Erewhon, Newport 30
Glen Cove, Vallejo

I was in Suva, Fiji, some years ago when we experienced three cyclones. We were on our boat at the time and it was a memorable night for the first one. After surveying the damage the next day I decided to never stay on a boat if I could get off. Tsunamis are the same type of issue. Get the hell off and don't look back. It's not worth your life!

Fred Waters
Planet Earth

Having been in Santa Cruz during a tsunami [the harbor there had $20 million in damage after the 2011 tsunami], I am of the opinion that if you can't get your boat out of the upper harbor for the duration of the event, call someone who can.
There's no question about the upper harbor's being a funnel. In the lower harbor, I would take my boat out for the day even if I had to take off work. I keep my Hobie 18 on a trailer in my driveway so I do not have the issue, but for people with boats in the harbor there is no excuse not to go a mile offshore and wait it out.

Brad Smith
Hobie 18
Santa Cruz

It seems maybe the most important statement from an article about tsunamis in the Marin Independent Journal is, "Every tsunami is unique," particularly as it applies to the complex hydrology of the San Francisco Bay.

Carl King
King Tide, Beneteau 361

I am not sure what I would do, but I disagree with the professor that a large scale tsunami wouldn't cause significant damage past Treasure Island [referring to a February 7 'Lectronic that quoted an academic who said, "By the time a tsunami reached Treasure Island or the East Bay, the wave would be less than three feet tall. It would probably not even make it to the South Bay."]

If you Google the Alaska earthquake of 1964 and the resulting tsunami damage, you will find San Rafael suffered more than $1 million in damage. Loch Lomond suffered considerable damage, with reported waves as high as eight feet. Many boats were destroyed. Interestingly, marinas much closer to the Gate suffered little damage.

Surprisingly, I also discovered that it is possible to feel an earthquake on a boat when I was asleep aboard my sailboat at Marina Bay several years ago. I was awoken about 4 a.m. when I felt the entire boat shake, but didn't recognize it as an earthquake. My first clue was that although I could feel the vibrations from the hull and even the mast for a short time, the air and water were completely still. I checked online and confirmed that there had been a relatively small earthquake centered a short distance away. I considered the possibility of a tsunami, but the effects appeared to be localized and not very significant.

Mark Rinkel
Folalier, Beneteau Oceanis 370

Everyone — Tsunamis are one of those worst-case scenarios that seem far too improbable to take seriously, but are more frequent than we'd like to admit. As several readers pointed out, there was a severe tsunami in the '60s that made it all the way to Marin and caused a million dollars in damage. Is it therefore prudent to come up with some sort of plan?

Do any of you have friends who can't believe you live in California, what with the earthquakes and all? Longtime residents accept earthquakes as a scary inconvenience, and accept that surviving them — and their aftereffects, such as tsunamis — is largely a matter of luck, of being in the right place at the right time. Because the majority of tsunamis that could theoretically hit the Bay Area would be generated from very far away, there's a good chance we'd have time to react, and thus be faced with a set of decisions. Do you rush to your boat? Do you dare jump aboard and head for deeper water? Do you buy more insurance?

Since tsunamis are so varied in nature, frequency and severity, it's impossible (and would be foolish) to come up with a set of protocols. This is the rule of thumb we live by: life before property. First and foremost, get yourself, your loved ones and your neighbors out of harm's way, and hope for the best for your boat. But if you're stuck with nowhere to go, yes, get yourself to deeper water. — th



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