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June 2018

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In 2006 there was a horrific boating accident in Lake County. As you may recall, a speedboat driven by an off-duty deputy, Russell Perdock, slammed into the back of a sailboat at approximately 9:15 p.m. The impact was so great and Perdock was traveling so fast (50+ mph), that, at the moment of impact, his boat went airborne and landed on the other side of the sailboat. Lynn Thornton, my best friend, died of her injuries from the collision three days later. Perdock later denied that he was traveling at a fast speed and was never held accountable for the accident or Lynn's death. The Lake County Sheriff at that time, Rod Mitchell, filed manslaughter charges three years later against Bismarck Dinius, a passenger on the sailboat that was struck. Dinius was rightfully acquitted.

Now, here we are almost 12 years later to the day, and we've learned that Russell Perdock is submitting his résumé to Lake County for the chief of police position! I truly cannot find the words to express the outrage of Lynn's son, family, friends and myself over Perdock's even being allowed to apply for this position — but it turns out he's doing just that.

After the accident, your readers were absolutely outraged as well, citing the numerous marine laws Perdock broke, and were shocked that he was not charged. Many of your readers took to the Internet expressing their anger, mainly on the website The Strange Case of Bismarck Dinius, which was online for a very long time. Perdock was ultimately terminated from his deputy position, but allowing him to apply for the chief of police job is beyond belief! This is an appointed position, not an elected one.

I sent a letter to the City Manager of Clearlake and to the City Council members. I am hoping you can publish something on this and ask your readers to call Greg Folsom, City Manager of Clear Lake, at (707) 994-8201, and the City Council members at the same telephone number.

Carol Stambuk

Good lord, this man's hubris is amazing. His credentials in law enforcement should be revoked!

KD Brinkley
Rumblefish, Cal 29

I am appalled at the gall of Russell Perdock. I am incredulous that he killed someone, then he — along with his 'gang' — made life hell for an innocent citizen for years, trying to prosecute the becalmed sailboat passenger who was just sitting in the boat when Perdock plowed into him. Perdock should be convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to the maximum term for his extreme reckless disregard for human life and operation of a boat.

I have been boating all my life, and it's people like Perdock I most fear on the water. You cannot safely drive a powerboat at 35-50 mph in the dark, especially if you are DUI like Perdock probably was. How could he not see a large becalmed sailboat with white sails up? No Breathalyzer by his cop buddies for hours after the incident? Is that standard practice in Lake County?

You know that every sailor who has ever heard of this case is outraged and probably considers Lake County some kind of banana republic because of what Perdock and his buddies did to twist the facts of the case. I still fume over this a decade later. I can't imagine what the family of the poor deceased thinks of this.

That they would even consider him for the job is grounds to get rid of the city council in my book.

Glenn Shinn
Grendel, Moore 24 prototype
Santa Cruz

Thank you for your coverage on behalf of Dinius and the Thornton Family.
The late rains have brought us a full lake. Looking forward to summer.

Greig and Leslie Olson
Doggone, Brown Searunner 40
Lake County/Paradise Village, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Corruption at its best.
John Retzlaff
Planet Earth

While it's outrageous that Russell Perdock has the nerve to submit his name for the job of chief of police — and also for anyone in Lake County to give him the slightest hint of consideration — it is sadly not shocking. In fact, it has become a strange status quo. Keep in mind that Perdock was elected to the Clearlake City Council, and then appointed mayor, a position that is filled by rotating council members.

Anyone who followed the long and sordid story 12 years ago could see all the elements of small-town politics on display, as the local DA and police department appeared to collude to clear Perdock of charges and put the blame on Bismarck Dinius. Fortunately, sailors have a long tradition of aiding mariners in distress — usually such aid is rendered at sea, but in this case, sailors came to the rescue of Dinus with a public outcry and funds to help support his expensive but ultimately successful defense.

While the friends and family of Lynn Thornton have had to mourn, move on with their lives, and seek closure, there was never what should have been an abrupt closure of Russell Perdock's career in law enforcement and public service (Perdock was terminated from his job as chief deputy sheriff in 2010 for "undisclosed reasons," but was elected to the city council in 2014.) Sadly the oft-repeated quote, "Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom" remains true. If you looked away and imagined this travesty was corrected, you'd be wrong.

It was clear that when this case came to light, Lake County was grappling with corruption and cronyism. In a glimmer of a silver lining, Sheriff Rodney K. Mitchell and District Attorney John Hopkins were voted out of office following the Perdock case. But the thought that Russell Perdock might be appointed as the chief of police of Clearlake (it's not an elected position) is a shocking and cautionary development in a community struggling to find the straight and narrow path. — ja/th

Like most sailors, I'm a huge fan of your magazine. I grew up in Northern California and learned to sail on San Francisco Bay with my father, who always treated Latitude 38s like precious cargo aboard our Catalina 30, Tango. We have since moved on from Bay sailing and now have a Catalina 40 in the Sea of Cortez, where my family and I live for the few months of the year that we are not in California.

When we moved aboard our new sloop, Circe, I was graced with the task of homeschooling my 15-year-old brother. We have come across many homeschooled boat kids during our time cruising the Sea, and I genuinely feel they have taught me more than I could have ever learned in a classroom on land. Any Latitude readers who are currently in the "to-cruise-or-not-to-cruise" phase of their sailing journeys might be interested to hear how valuable the skills gained from a childhood at sea can be — I know my family could have used some encouragement and assurance on the subject when we were considering taking off on our boat a few years ago.

Laura Belichak
Circe, Catalina 40
San Francisco

I was inspired by the April 23 'Lectronic Latitude, "The Floating Classroom." It was dead on.

Kurt Holland
Southern California

I spent the better part of my childhood intermittently seasick! My parents began an extended cruise when I was one year old, believing that babies are immune to seasickness. We sailed from New Orleans to Venezuela and back on their Ingrid 39, built from a bare hull, which was plenty enough time to debunk this myth. Halfway through the cruise, my brother Paul was born, and he also got seasick, from birth! Over the next 14 years we would spend at least half of the year on Nada cruising much of the Caribbean, Virgin Islands, Yucatan, Central America, the tip of South America and the Bahamas. My father, Nigel Calder, just published a wonderful book about these travels called Shakedown Cruise: Lessons and Adventures from a Cruising Veteran as He Learns the Ropes. If you are interested in the in-depth narrative of these travels, as well as the history of each place we visited and useful sailing tips, it's a great read. Puke and all, I couldn't have had a better childhood. In many ways I think my seasickness made me a more resilient person.

Because the cruising life is often lonely for children, when towns emerge sailing kids are prone to make friends with anything or anyone. We would get to port and meet the most incredible sailing kids. At all ages they could monkey to the top of the mast, fix outboards, sail better than many adults, tie knots for every purpose, and in general were exceedingly competent. While traditional schooling was often abandoned or minimized, these children had a toolbox over-brimming with life skills.

My brother Paul and I often envied these free, tan kids who would be at the beach while my dad insisted we had a "proper" education — a Calvert Homeschooling Curriculum, a dreaded series of workbooks covering math, grammar and all the other staples. It was terrible sitting below in the sweltering heat with a white, sandy beach on the other side of the porthole! When my mom — the artist — had her way, we were off snorkeling, identifying coral and fish, and making underwater drawings while snorkeling. Back on the boat, we would categorize what we saw with reef and fish books, learning the Latin root and the symbiosis or parasitic qualities of each species. We performed the same vigilant analysis of the night sky, learning the constellations and making books about Greek myths. It will come as little surprise that, to this day, my math and grammar skills are abhorrent. However, I still maintain a great interest in the ecosystems of the world and the narratives of the night sky.

Growing up on a boat has defined who I am in almost every aspect of my personality. I full-heartedly agree with Laura Belichak's statement about the self-will of sailing children. Sailing children learn that everything can teach you something, from how to climb a coconut tree to math being relevant when building a boat. Sailors get to use their knowledge, which makes it stick!

For Paul, his has been a more mechanical pursuit. He's spent the better part of the last month fixing his 1975 Toyota truck, and he taught himself how to do all the repairs. He can weld and do carpentry and construction, and a few years ago he fully remodeled a Cape Dory 28 that he sailed to Maine and back.

I went the artistic route and have been able to make a career entirely off selling my art. Neither or us is rich, but we are very happy and, for the most part, pretty optimistic. Both Paul and I went on to receive degrees — I have a BFA in printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from Tulane University, and my brother got his BA from George Washington University. We received almost full scholarships and came out with very little debt.

I say all this to encourage parents to take the risk my parents took, and believe in the tenacity of children who have been taught by reefs, beaches and mainsails. However, be warned! Paul and I turned out pretty unconventional. We live frugally, spending all our time and money on our projects (often regardless of financial gain). We live in a community of fun artsy people in New Orleans, creating art and going out on boat and canoe trips. That American push to get rich never sank into our bones and we both prefer to live simply and happily. We are also a very close family. My brother and I continued our travels together off the boat and eventually both moved to New Orleans to be close to each other. We spend months straight with our parents, building houses together, sailing, and hanging out. I believe a lot of this closeness comes from sharing quarters on a boat.

Pippin Frisbie-Calder
Nada, Ingrid 39
New Orleans, LA

We lived on Cowabunga with our three children from 1980 to 1990, starting from France in 1982, then arriving in Bodega Bay. Their schooling was somewhat eclectic: preschool for one in Brazil for a few months and kindergarten later in French Guiana, then they both attended grammar school for three years in Florida. From Florida to the Bay Area — a two-year trip — we homeschooled first through fourth grades for the kids. Since we're a bilingual Franco-American family, we added a French language and history component of our own.

Undeniably, the "real" history, geography, sociology, cultures and other languages they learned during our travels were invaluable and augmented our textbook courses. They could reasonably understand the cross references and relationships between some book principles and actual real-life situations: wind directions, compass directions, changing countries and thus a new language. It also taught them resiliency, how to forge one's way, and how to be handy with tools. And, we learned how they learn, a handy tool for us to address issues with schoolteachers later, when they re-integrated into regular schools.

I did learn, however, that it's difficult to be a parent and a teacher, and we later opted to put them in traditional schools (however not entirely, since they attended the French government-sponsored school system in San Francisco).

Janis Couvreux
Cowabunga, Rorqual 42 ketch (1979-2000)
Originally Le Verdon-sur-Mer, France

Laura, Janis and Pippin — Thanks for confirming what we strongly suspected, and what seems like the no-brainer-est fact in the world: Being a 'cruising kid' is an amazing way to grow up that produces capable human beings. It's also an opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime education, but the exact methods of that education vary widely. Of course this is no surprise; how to best educate children is an open question inspiring vigorous debate.

We recently sat down with entrepreneur, author and cruiser Caspar Craven, who is featured in this issue's Changes in Latitudes. We asked Craven — who took his three kids (ages 9, 7 and 2) sailing around the world — how he approached homeschooling: "Before we left, we spoke to the kids' teachers and got loads of advice. We filled the boat with books. But the teachers also gave us the advice that with kids that age, as long as they're doing reading, writing and math every day, they'll be fine.

"For the first month, we were trying to do more of a formal curriculum," Craven said that after about a month, it was clear that the formal approach wasn't working. The kids were bored stiff. So he asked his 7-year-old son, "What are you interested in?" He said, "I'm interested in fishing." "So we got all of the fishing books out and he read all of them. Then he started writing about different fish. Then he started catching different fish and weighing them, measuring them and dissecting them. And then he started a business making and selling fishing lures.

"Basically what we did was take one subject and went really deep in it, and that took us from literacy to numeracy to science to business by just following what he was interested in. It was unconventional, and we're in the extreme. We have other friends who were following a French or English system where you submit homework and so on, but they became so exhausted." Craven said that he knew families who were planning on sailing around the world, but never got past the Atlantic. "You've got a boat to look after," he said. "You've got to take an alternative approach."

And of course, it takes a village to raise a child. For part of their circumnavigation, the Cravens were with the World Cruising Club. "You meet interesting people, and they just want to share their knowledge with you. We were in the Indian Ocean and this brilliant woman — a scientist — was teaching my daughter prime number tables over the SSB. There was one guy who was in the US Navy teaching the kids how to do celestial navigation. When you have someone who knows stuff at that level and that degree, then their energy and passion and enthusiasm comes through." — th

After all the discussion about tsunamis [from a February 7 'Lectronic Latitude] I should report that under the right conditions, seismic waves from local earthquakes can be observed inside San Francisco Bay.

In California, there are dozens of minor earthquakes every day above 1.0 on the Richter scale, but we don't usually notice the seismic waves because they get lost in all the daytime chaos of wind waves and boat wakes. But under the right conditions, seismic waves can easily be seen on the Bay.

In November 2017, during a windless, moonlit night, our schooner Sea Raven departed from Brisbane Marina and motored leisurely northward at about 4.5 knots, bound for Richardson Bay, where we planned to drop anchor for the evening. By 11 p.m., the South Bay had become a beautiful mirror reflecting the full moon, and, it being a weeknight, the ferries had made their last run from Oyster Point. There were minimal currents with high slack at the Golden Gate occurring.

Unbeknownst to us (as we glided blissfully northward), there was a 1.2 earthquake 7 kilometers southeast of Ridgemark (near Hollister). We were in mid-channel due west of the former Alameda Naval Air Station when we encountered two-dozen 4-ft-high swells about 50 yards apart coming up on our starboard quarter from the southeast.

These were not anything like the waves created by a steamer wake. Instead they were two dozen very regular 4-ft-high swells that stretched from horizon to horizon, in parallel lines (where steamer wakes come at you in a series of about three). Because the entire Bay was flat calm, these strange waves were aberrant, so I noted this strange occurrence in the log book. The consensus of all six of us on board at the time was that they were seismic waves.

Later, researching on the Internet, I found the specific earthquake that caused these seismic waves listed on the USGS website's earthquake calendar (which you can search by date, location and magnitude). I also learned that seismic waves travel at around two kilometers per second, which is nearly 75 miles per minute and these had came from roughly 150 miles away in approximately two minutes — all of which added up. So, when the conditions are right, you can see seismic waves — or tsunamis — on the Bay.

Alan Hugenot
Sea Raven, Master Schooner
San Francisco Bay


Clipper Cove is established as one of the best small-boat venues on the West Coast (says US Sailing). My two sons learned to sail in Clipper Cove, through the programs of the Treasure Island Sailing Center — the City's only community sailing center. My older son, Cazzie Cutting, went on to start a sailing team at his high school (Mission High) and now sails for St. Mary's College of Maryland. Sacrificing the heart of Clipper Cove to build a private marina dedicated exclusively to yachts running 40 to 80 feet would be a significant blow to the sailing community, particularly to the future of our sport here in the Bay Area.

Hunter Cutting
Dona Mae, Olson 25
San Francisco

I say let them expand a little but not so much that sailing in the cove is negatively impacted or no room is left to anchor for the night.

Chris Curtis
Bohemian, Grand Banks 42 Europa
Point Richmond


My kids sail in high school, and one of our most popular regattas is held in Clipper Cove. More than 30 teams from Northern and Southern California converge at the Treasure Island Sailing Center in late February. I'm guessing if you count the sailors and parents we total well over 300. The cove is unique because you get the San Francisco winds but sail on protected water. Viewing the racing is incredible, with spectators lining the breakwater to watch the boats race by.

Instead of turning Clipper Cove into another boat parking lot, sailors should be thinking about how to get more dinghy sailing and racing in this amazing amphitheater.

Bill Mais
Parent of a High School Sailor
Southern California

Clipper Cove has been many things for me: a refuge in a storm, a wonderful short-term location for viewing the Blue Angels during Fleet Week, a first-rate venue for International Dragon Boat racing, short-term raft-ups, and much more. It seems to me that an expansion of marina slips would have a negative impact on these existing uses that have enhanced my boating enjoyment, and I'm sure that of others as well.

Mike Pollard
Sea Bear, Pearson 26
Alameda Marina

Readers — Though much of the debate over Clipper Cove is steeped in the slow and complicated bureaucracy that's bedeviled many military base turnovers, the more challenging aspects are all the stakeholders in Clipper Cove — but to us, the high number of stakeholders also sort of simplifies the issue.

It's absolutely true that the current marina is a relic desperately in need of an upgrade. Chris, we agree with you that some growth is desirable (Wespoint Harbor is an excellent example of what a modern marina can offer). By all means, developers need enough of a return to bring it into the 21st century.
But we support balance. Whatever gets built should be done in a way that preserves the fantastic sailing venue at Treasure Island. The current proposal is for a 313-slip marina (up from the current 110 slips) ranging from 40 to 80 feet long, which would take up a third of Clipper Cove.

While the idea of tripling the number of boats is exciting, the scope of the marina — and the boats it seems designed to cater to — seems out of balance. Remember all those stakeholders: There's youth and adult sailing, paddlers, raft-up enthusiasts and nature lovers. Taking up a third of the cove to cater to a small, high-end class of boaters is just as objectionable as dragon-boaters taking over, or remote-control sailboaters, or the Vanguard 15 fleet, or stand-up paddleboarders, or any one single group.

We'd like to see a 'Goldilocks' solution, something that's just right for everyone, because Clipper Cove is such a unique piece of water. As Bill pointed out, you get the summer winds without the crazy chop. You have a perfectly protected anchorage, and you have a spectacular panorama of the Bay. It's one of our most valuable resources that must be shared with some semblance of equality among those who enjoy it. — th

Sad that it has come to this, and with a veteran no less. But, dude! Get a sanitary system on that thing, don't dump waste, learn how to splice or wire or whatever it takes to keep your ground tackle, tackling — stop being a menace to society. We get that you are a veteran and all (thank you for your service), but if you were not fighting for law and order then why did you enlist?

If you want to live aboard and on the cheap why not go to Richardson Bay in Sausalito? Much calmer waters, less traffic, blend in with the other boats out there, and you don't put yourself in such a spotlight of anarchy. Or sail down here and live on the bounce in warm, sunny "Dago" (but only if you get a sanitary system and waste management plan and learn how to anchor).

Hence the cry for help in Aquatic Park, reaching out, calling attention to a greater issue in our society. For now go to the library during the day and read Chapman's, learn some seamanship. and clean that thing up. Keep it out of the swimming lanes and for God's sake live by MARPOL. We sailors want a cleaner ocean, not one polluted by the likes of you. No sympathy until you clean up your act.

David Barten
Ikani, Gecco 39
San Diego

Contact Veterans Affairs; he most likely needs help. God bless our vets!

Reverend Malama Robinson
Mother Ocean Ministries, Cal 29
Koloa, Kauai, HI

I'm just frustrated beyond words at the apparent collective unwillingness to visit some consequences on this butthead. It's simple. He shouldn't be there. I don't care if he's a vet or a Martian. Tell him to vacate and not come back or his boat will be either permanently impounded or sunk. He's being a jerk and everyone seems to be enabling it. Stop.

Constance Livesy
Wings, Passport 40
Anchorage, AK/presently in Tahiti

Readers — We'll refer you to a Sightings in this issue regarding the fate of rogue yachtsman Bryan Pennington. — th

In the late '70s a friend of mine bought a 29-ft boat to race on the Bay. Shortly after he bought the boat he got a job offer in Saudi Arabia that was too good to pass up. He asked me to race his boat for him and send him letters about each race. I put together a crew, and we went out to practice. We sailed out the Oakland Estuary and did a couple of spinnaker sets, jibes and take-downs, and on the way back to the marina we talked about man overboard situations. We decided to go out Thursday night for another practice session before a race; I got dressed for that by donning an 1/8" wetsuit, which I covered up with jeans, a T-shirt and a windbreaker.

After we cleared the entrance to the Oakland Estuary and we were headed toward Yerba Buena Island, I simply stood up, let go of the tiller and jumped over the lifelines. I gave the crew no advance warning. From my vantage point in the water, I could see someone grab the tiller while the other three crewmembers took down the genoa and the mainsail and started the engine. Within five minutes they were back circling me. They let the boat drift down to me, and two of the guys grabbed my arms and hauled my 6'3" frame through the gate and onto the deck.

To say the least, the crew was not amused. I remember two of the guys just glaring at me nonstop as we sailed back down the Estuary toward our marina. I offered them congratulations on a job well done along with a cold beer. We sailed together for a couple of seasons and when the topic of man overboard came up, someone would say something to the effect of, "Watch out — Ron takes this man overboard stuff seriously." And I do. I take all safety-at-sea issues seriously. It ended up serving me well when, in April 2000, my Morgan 45 Painkiller sank 120 miles due north of Cartagena, Colombia, in 12- to 15-ft seas — and I'm still here to talk about it.

Ron Landmann
Carson City, NV

As Lee Helm says (Max Ebb, April issue), "In theory, there's no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is." But the theory depicted in the first diagram assumes a frictionless foil (sail) and an inviscid fluid (air), which is, in practice, not the 'real world'. The bending of the path of air away from the high-pressure side is said to cause upwash, that is, a change in the path of airflow. However, this implies that the air ahead of the approaching foil 'anticipates' the arrival of the foil and starts bending away some distance ahead of the foil. This could not happen without viscosity, which is needed to drag the molecules of air away from their original flow lines. Therefore the first figure implicitly assumes a viscid fluid despite the caption.

As Lee says, "The air doesn't know anything." True. The air ahead of the foil does not know that a foil is approaching, and there is no incentive for it to change its path causing an upwash if it were inviscid. But, why are the pressures different on either side of the foil? Lee's friend says, "Think centrifugal force." This seems to be an argument for the transition of laminar to turbulent flow within the boundary layer rather than an explanation of lift. This does not accord with the 'circulation' explanation of lift advanced by the late Arvel Gentry, an aeronautical engineer and a sailing empiricist, who used hundreds of telltales on his sails and a pressure sensor to collect data at many different locations on his sails. Circulation depends on viscosity. There is no lift until a foil begins to move through a fluid and a counterclockwise 'starting vortex' is generated. This then sets up the clockwise vortex around the foil (sail) and the beginning of lift (also explained by Whidden and Levitt in the latest edition of The Art and Science of Sails). This seems to be different from centrifugal force. However, the article does suggest a way to minimize the induced drag of the tip vortices at the foot of the sail, where the pressure 'bleed off' is relatively large, by positioning crew under the boom. To minimize a similar phenomenon along the trailing edge of the jib, move the lead forward, closing the leech. This would act like the winglets on an airplane wing, preventing some pressure gradient dissipation, decreasing induced drag, and increasing the efficiency of lift.

Ron Kallen
Montrose Harbor, Chicago, IL

Ron — Max always passes letters like yours to me to deal with. Proving, like, one thing: He doesn't really understand this either.

The flow in my diagram is inviscid except for one real-world consideration: We assume that air doesn't flow around sharp corners. This assumption is a consequence of viscosity, and correcting the flow at the aft stagnation point requires adding circulation to the flow field. So, strictly speaking, you could say that the flow with circulation added is, like, not purely inviscid, because we added the circulation to fix the viscosity-dependent trailing edge condition. But other than that, the flow is still inviscid flow, without friction. Adding circulation adds lift, upwash and downwash as part of the deal.

The upwash bending upward ahead of the foil should not bother you any more than the downwash turning back to the free-stream direction aft of the foil. Remember that inviscid flow is reversible fore-and-aft, so the upwash ahead of a fore-and-aft symmetrical foil is symmetrical with the downwash in back. Viscosity is not needed to make air change direction. It's all just following the pressure gradient.

Because the air has mass, even when there's no viscosity, the pressure field is affected by centrifugal force as the air follows a curved path. But no friction and no viscosity, so no boundary layer and no laminar-turbulent transition to worry about. Arvel Gentry did a lot of good work, but the circulation theory dates all the way back to 1910 in a paper by Nikolai Joukowski. If you do the math, I think you'll find that circulation theory yields exactly the same result as momentum theory.

The problem with moving the jib lead forward and "closing the leech" at the top of the sail is that the leech is more at right angles to the flow than parallel, so you get more air brake than tip vortex control. Devices that reduce tip vorticity, like winglets and end plates, add surfaces that are parallel to the main flow direction.

As you point out, circulation theory is good for describing the effects of the starting vortex. But explaining that to Max will be a challenge . . . Here are some URLs that may be useful:, which debunks popular but incorrect lift theories;, which gives a good description of lift and circulation; and, which explains the Joukowski airfoil and complex transformations. — lee helm

It's about time they cleaned up the 'Waiting Room'. We were down there last June and the boats were a blight on the otherwise beautiful landscape. Most were unkept and in obvious disrepair. Puerto Escondido has wonderful facilities and there is potential for that area to become a first-class marina and center of activity. Three cheers for API!

Steve Bean
Two-a-motu, Hunter 33.5
Bear Lake, UT

The Puerto Escondido anchorage is a thing of the past. A sad day indeed for cruisers in the Sea of Cortez. On February 26, all boats anchored or moored in the Waiting Room of Puerto Escondido, BCS, Mexico, were given 24 hours to vacate. Approximately 40 boats were moved by order of the Mexican authorities. No definitive reason was given, and suspicions and rumors are rampant and varied.

In the author's conversations with representatives of API (Port Authority Administration) and the new Marina Puerto Escondido manager, possible reasons included mismanagement of the Waiting Room anchorage by API, and environmental issues. Several boats there had no owners available and could not provide proper documentation required by the Mexican government.

All boats with proper documentation and current API payment were given three months' free mooring in the inner harbor, which is operated by Marina Puerto Escondido ( That 'free' grace period was a bit of a ruse. After moving, each boat was informed that a $100/month 'port services' fee would be owed to Marina Puerto Escondido. After three months, the fees would increase to the standard rate of $8/ft/month, an approximately 1,200% increase over the previous API rate in the Waiting Room.
No information was forthcoming on the future of the Waiting Room, and it remains completely void of boats. It has been rumored that any boats that cannot provide proper documentation (Temporary Import Permit, insurance, owner documentation, etc.) will be destroyed by the Mexican authorities. Several boats were out of compliance with these requirements, and risk forfeiture and destruction.

Samuel Devon
Planet Earth

High-dollar marinas concerned about the ecosystem? What a crock! Stop putting in marinas. A hundred bucks a pop for 30 boats is a third of a million in 10 years. It's greed, greed.

John Retzlaff

It seems the marina is going above and beyond to help mitigate this new policy. Would the folks up north tolerate 30 or so boats anchored out without papers? I think not.

KD Brinkley
Rumblefish, Cal 29
Portland, OR

Readers — We tapped our resident expert on all things Mexico: The Grand Poobah himself, Richard Spindler. The following is taken from a post on his Facebook page, from which we also quoted excerpts in last month's Changes in Latitudes: "The Puerto Escondido situation has been and remains a complicated one, and the harbor and nearby area have had a star-crossed history. Two hundred and fifty miles north of Cabo San Lucas on the east coast of the Baja peninsula, Puerto Escondido is a spectacularly beautiful and uniquely well-protected natural harbor — which hasn't necessarily meant that boats are safe when hurricanes have occasionally come through.

"When I first arrived in the late 1970s, Puerto Escondido was a popular anchorage with cruisers, particularly those who wanted to 'get away' and live on an absolute minimum budget. But it was also then that Fonatur, the Mexican government tourist development agency, first announced plans for grand development in conjunction with plans for 15-mile distant Loreto, the only town of any size in the region. Fonatur's attempt would be the first of several government and private efforts to make Puerto Escondido the new Cabo or the new Ixtapa.

"Somewhere along the line, I think it was when Fonatur placed moorings in the large harbor, cruising boats were prohibited from anchoring for free. This resulted in the common sight of a beautiful mountain-backed anchorage with several hundred moorings — some of them of questionable quality — and never more than a few boats on them. Eliminating the free anchorage resulted in the degradation of what was a once a pretty vibrant cruiser community and cruiser destination. It's an open question whether continuing to allow boats to anchor for free would have promoted a more vibrant community and attractive destination, and thus more revenue for Fonatur.

"Alas, the various grand development plans for Puerto Escondido, and that of nearby areas, have never really worked out. In at least one case someone just ran off with millions of dollars of government money. In other cases grand plans started, stalled, and withered on the vine.

"As beautiful as Puerto Escondido is, it has a bit of a weather problem. The late fall and the late spring are spectacular, but those aren't prime times for cruising. And it's too cold for water sports in the winter and too hot for much of anything but swimming in the summer. Most destinations in Mexico have a high season and a low season. Puerto Escondido has what I'd describe as two low seasons and two shoulder seasons.

"Not long ago the Fonatur development was taken over by San Diego brothers Jeff and Curt Hamann, who previously cruised the area on their 50-ft Prout catamaran. The Hamann family is well known for large tracts of commercial property in the United States. They have a partner in Puerto Escondido in Enrique Salcedo, former president of the Mexican Marina Association, whose family has been involved in real estate development in Mexico. The Hamanns and Salcedo are committed to the vision of an exclusive Puerto Escondido, with a world-class marina and world-class waterfront homes. Unfortunately for cruisers, their business model does not allow for free or inexpensive anchoring for cruisers on a budget. Sort of like at Catalina. And recently it meant that all the boats in the 'Waiting Room', many of whom were refugees decades ago when Fonatur kicked everyone out of the main anchorage, were given 48 hours to get out.

"From the reports we've gotten, the folks at the Puerto Escondido Marina and the associated development have done a lot of good things and have a nice operation. Only time will tell if there is a big enough market for a high-end development in a somewhat remote area where the weather is out of sync with most cruising schedules, and without the vibrancy that comes with a critical mass of people."

You guys are doing an OK job since taking over from the Poobah, but I miss the pictures of nekked girls.

Captain Ryan Hatch
Flying Tiger
Outer Banks, NC

Captain Ryan — This is actually something that the staff of Latitude (both male and female) has spent some time discussing. All we'll say for now is that we publish pictures of sailors having fun. Traditionally, those sailors (both male and female, both young and old, both clothed and scantily clad) have sent us photos of themselves.

That's all we have to say about that. Please find our address at the end of the Letters column. — th

Just wondering what folks up north are saying about PSSA's singlehanded Shaka Challenge race to Hawaii, which is scheduled on the same year as the SSS's Singlehanded TransPac. Seems to me like it would help grow participation in singlehanded sailing if the years were alternated like the Pacific Cup and Transpac.

Brendan Huffman
Holiday, Catalina 42
San Pedro

Brendan — The start of the SoCal-based Pacific Singlehanded Sailing Association's Shaka Challenge on July 1 will be one week after the start of the Singlehanded Sailing Society of San Francisco's Singlehanded TransPac on June 23. The Shaka Challenge will start from Marina del Rey and sail to Honolulu on the island of Oahu; the SHTP will start in Tiburon and drop anchor in Hanalei Bay, on the north shore of Kauai. Hanalei, by the way, is back in business and welcoming visitors following the extreme flooding in April, but all repairs may not be complete before the SSS sailors and volunteers arrive in July.

As of this writing, the SHTP has 26 entries, and the Shaka Challenge has seven, a couple of which might otherwise have signed up for the SHTP. Elsewhere in this issue, you'll find profiles of the Singlehanded TransPac'ers.
What does the SSS think of the competing race? Read on to the next letter. — cw

I've known of the Shaka Challenge for many months. It has been talked about in the past, and Jérôme Sammarcelli even had a simpler version of it slated for the Mini Transat crowd that he ran a few years back. It would be better for all of us, I think, if they ran it in the odd years, instead of even years. It does not seem to have impacted our turnout as we are right at the same level of entrants as the last few years. We are getting turnout from SoCal similar to the last few races as well. You can see that in our entry list.

It does simplify logistics for boats in the SoCal area, saving a passage up the coast that takes a few days. If you speak to the PSSA membership, you will find that the burden of moving a boat up here and then spending the dollars to house yourself in the Bay Area for a week or two adds quite a bit to the cost.
PSSA has adopted a qualifying race as well. They called it the Meridian Race this year. It seems to have shaken out a few potential participants with the first day of strong breeze, something we get every summer day on Bay Area waters.

Brian Boschma
Race Chair
Singlehanded TransPac

Brian — The trouble with running the Shaka Challenge to Honolulu in odd years is that the L.A. to Honolulu Transpac is raced in odd years. — cw

By selling out both his long-term sponsors and the core values of sustainability and environmental stewardship, Ben Ainslie has reportedly increased his team's budget by more than 30% over the last cycle. Cozying up to INEOS chairman Jim Ratcliffe — a pro-Brexit billionaire who founded INEOS — and kicking his other sponsors to the curb with little to no warning, Ainslie has now aligned himself and his team with one of the world's largest global polluters and the UK's biggest player in the shale gas micro-fracturing (fracking) game.

The long-term sponsor, Land Rover, was reportedly left in the dark about the entire shake-up until just before an official announcement was made. On the plus side, Ainslie should now have access to plenty of cheap shale gas with which to burn more bridges in the future. 

Ronnie Simpson
Quiver, Peterson 34
Honolulu, HI

Readers — Read Ronnie's report about the British America's Cup team announcement in the May 2 'Lectronic Latitude at — cw

My bit was wordy at best but you arranged it beautifully with great choice of photos. The ASC committee and I could not be happier, and Paul Plotts is ecstatic. Thanks too for the great preface-to-May article and photo headliner in April 25's 'Lectronic Latitude. Darrall is very pleased, and Paul appreciated the notoriety too — he keeps calling me to tell me to tell you. With pure joy, Paul sends love and best regards. His 91st birthday was last Sunday — he is amazing.

Thanks again for including our event in your great waterfront journal — and supporting our local photographers too. 

Marcia Hilmen
San Diego

Readers — Paul Plotts was the winning skipper of the America's Schooner Cup on April 7 in San Diego. Paul sails the 1930 John Alden staysail schooner Dauntless, known to Bay Area sailors from many appearances in Master Mariners races.

Acting as a volunteer, Marcia wrote a report and collected photos from the America's Schooner Cup charity regatta, and we ran the story in May's Racing Sheet. Without contributors like Marcia, Latitude 38 would not be the sailors' rag we all know and love. — cw

I recall some of those 'mountains' — kind of like having the hills of Contra Costa County coming at you — in a three-day blow about 500 miles west of Point Arena during the summer of 1986. I was on the helm of a Swan 51 returning from Hawaii. We climbed to the peak of a large swell that was translucent peacock blue at the top, and I discovered that the wave was breaking and hollow on the other side. Straight down we went, bow-first, and the evening's chili accompaniments wound up all over the galley. 

Aside from that moment, it was more fatiguing than frightening. Now, the 55 knots gusting to 70 off Cape Flattery (1993 on an Alberg 35), with seas coming from three directions — that was frightening.

Jean Ouellette
San Francisco

Readers — Jean's comments were prompted by an April 13 'Lectronic Latitude report about monstrous seas and hurricane-force winds during the Clipper Race's crossing from China to Washington. What, where and when were the biggest seas you've sailed on? — cw

We saw this at Berkeley Marina and figured it must serve a useful purpose, but can't for the life of us think what it could be. Do you know?
Don and Mary Lou Oliver

Cappuccino, Ericson 38

Don and Mary Lou — Berkeley-based naval architect and BYC member Paul Kamen responds: "It's for the Slip 'n Slide Olympics. It's 100-ft long by 14-ft wide. Actually it's a kelp nursery, launched to test flotation and mobility. Final destination is somewhere in Indonesia, if I remember correctly. It will work in conjunction with pumps that bring cold water from deep depths up to the surface." — cw

I am a longtime Bay Area sailor and a housing advocate. Recently, I was presented with the opportunity to merge my passions and contribute to both evolving our changing maritime industry and alleviating the pressure on our impacted housing market. It's a rewarding job to help build our communities along the waterfront, including the proposed redevelopment and improvement of Alameda Marina.

San Francisco's sailing scene is still alive, but sailors' access the Bay has changed dramatically, as have the business models. Today, there are no Bay Area production boatbuilders, and the larger yacht clubs have taken to purchasing fleets of vessels to give their members an economic opportunity to practice and compete on smaller boats. This new world is different, yet I've talked to many marine businessmen who are thriving, busier than they've ever been, and, in some cases, are unable to find enough skilled workers to fill open jobs.

This tells me that sailing is going to be OK, and while I have no idea of the future, I do know that getting out on the water will always be fun, and people will always seek out sailing opportunities. To that end, I think the owners of Alameda Marina get it. Here are a few attributes of the plan:

• A new secure seawall that will feature a pathway along the waterfront similar to Marina Bay or Sausalito Yacht Harbor.

• Replacement of Island Yacht Club's foundation and piers, saving the building. (I'm wondering if IYC could wangle the funding to create a new clubhouse, or maybe build a houseboat like the CYC in Seattle.)

• The plan accounts for sea-level rise, remediates polluted soil, and replaces utility connections, putting the property back on solid ground for at least the next hundred years.

• The new floating dockyard puts shops close to boats being maintained, a model already in use at yards like KKMI.

• 60 dry-sail slots will support all of the active and current tenants, including the BAMA and SSS fleets berthed there. The area will be equipped with a pair of electric mules for truck/car-free launching and a new three-ton hoist.

• Installed Versadocks as needed will allow small boats to be wet-sailed without bottom paint.

• A fun little fact is that the total amount of planned yard space, if one includes the floating dockyard and service slips, will equal the area of the former Svendsen's boatyard.

• The fairway on the east side will offer great accommodations for paddling sports including SUP and kayak businesses.

• The Travelift rails will remain in place along the new seawall and one 35-ton Travelift remains on site. This provides time to attract a new operator should one find it feasible to reboot a compact and environmentally sound haulout facility similar to KKMI in Sausalito.

• More than 700 new homes are planned, many of which will face the Estuary. Over 100 units are designated affordable.

Over the past several weeks I've been met with skepticism, but I know that by creating conversation and community around this project we can work to improve Alameda, and I'm inspired by the sailors and businesspeople who realize the opportunity to remake the marina. To anyone who would like to learn more about what's happening at the Alameda Marina, feel free to reach out to us.

To see the plan, go here to and click on
'View Plan'.
Dave Wilhite
Consultant and Community Liaison
Alameda Marina LLC


I attended the Alameda Marina Development event on Saturday, May 5. I had moved my boat to Richmond the previous year when I heard the dry-storage area was slated for development into high-density housing. I still have ties to the marina, have sailing friends who are still there, and have connections to the commercial side of the marine industry.

Driving in, it was sad to see how the facilities are deteriorating due to the lack of maintenance. A once-vibrant and thriving community is now a virtual ghost town. The people there didn't mind the dust and dirt that goes with a boatyard and the attendant marine businesses; it's part and parcel of what it takes to keep boats in good working order. Now, sadly, Svendsen's is closed and a once-active yard is now silent. Many of the shops are vacant, and the ones that are still there are living day to day with no clear plan for their future tenancy.
Entering the 'Service Ship', a well appointed floating two- story barge, I was greeted with computer-generated illustrations of what the new development might look like. The dry-storage area was reduced from more than 500 slips to just 60; there's a plan for one three-ton hoist for those boats. The in-the-water marina was to remain with sorely needed dock upgrades. The large and historic tin building that bisected Svendsen's was to remain, repurposed into smaller shops and marine businesses. A few of the smaller buildings, such as Island Yacht Club, were to be moved or refurbished.

There are to be two big developments for high-density housing — one will be a large apartment complex, another will be single-family homes grouped around the small water inlet. These were declared to be necessary for the development to go forward, as they would provide the money to replace the aging infrastructure of the retaining wall and the other systems.

There was a proposed marine-business area modeled on the system KKMI uses, with floating service ships, or barges, that would house various services that don't require a boat to be set on the hard. There was an area set aside for a possible boatyard, should anyone want to open one with a Travelift (assuming they're able to get the permits to do so). From what I understand, that's difficult to do now; most of the existing yards are grandfathered in, while getting permits to open a new yard is difficult at best due to stringent EPA standards.

When I asked how all these new residents were to get onto and off the island (as the highway infrastructure hasn't changed) I was told that that was the City of Alameda's problem. It's the same question I asked the designers of Star Harbor. No one has a good answer.

I'm not anti-development; I'm pro access to the San Francisco Bay. But all the developments have the same effect, they either limit the access or make it more expensive and out of reach for most people. I moved my boat up to Richmond for that reason, and now have to drive twice as far. The few times I have gone to Alameda to visit friends, getting onto and off the island has been difficult, and these developments haven't even started yet. I shudder to think what the traffic will be like.

What's the solution? We need housing, and we need access. As of now those two things seem opposed to each other. The quality of life in the Bay Area is deteriorating as more people move here. The question is, what's to be done about it?

Patrick Kohlman
Joyicity, Davidson 1/4-ton

Patrick — You're asking all of the right questions. How do we at least preserve and maybe, just maybe, even expand marine services in the Bay Area to keep our sport and lifestyle alive and thriving? And how do we fight the mammoth forces of development, overpopulation and crushing congestion?

We don't know. As you noted, the decline in space for marine services is in part tied to a decline in space. Every inch of the Bay Area is becoming crowded, and every square foot of housing more and more valuable. One could make the argument that sailing services are being pushed out for a larger and more pressing need. While we agree that we need more housing, marine businesses need to be next to the water. New houses don't (though we appreciate a good view, too).

Besides, the vitality of sailing and the industry surrounding it faces a much larger problem: Fewer people are sailing. We spend lots of time contemplating the reasons for this, which are many and varied.

There are simply more things to do now — more ways to recreate — than there were 30 years ago. Yes, there are more digital distractions, but there are many more ways to get out on the water. Back in the day, if you wanted to get out on the Bay, sailboats were one of your only options. Today — thanks in part to the proliferation of plastics — would-be adventurers can get a stand-up paddleboard or a kayak. These craft are immeasurably cheaper than a sailboat and require far less skill and far less storage and maintenance.

But, while watercraft like SUPS and kayaks offer people some sense of escape and adventure, and access to the Bay, that doesn't compare to the sailing lifestyle. And yet, this is one of the many reasons why sailing has been on the decline.

So, what can be done? We're encouraged by a slow but steady renaissance of the sport. Those indestructible plastic classics of the '70s are still around and still cheap, and they're falling into the hands of young people. A few small sailing co-ops around the Bay offer cheap access to boats — these groups might see more widespread and tech-savvy use as part of the 'sharing economy'. But to try to answer your question of what can be done, Patrick, these are the critical first steps:

First, speak up. With so much pressure to develop, it's up to local communities to speak out and make their voices heard. We know economics say that to help relieve the high price of housing you build more houses. Conversely, what happens to dry-storage pricing when you go from 500 spaces to 60? The price of sailing goes up! What's more, removing waterfront facilities in the Bay Area seems akin to removing chairlifts at a ski area to add condos. What good is living at the mountain if you can't ski, or living on the Bay if you can't sail? Yes, we need housing, but not at the expense of access.

And then: Just sail. Take non-sailors out for a ride whenever you can and show them what's so special about sailing.

The survival of an industry in the Bay Area — and in this country — comes down to one thing: money. If our industry is going to survive, in needs to be strong and vital, which will lead to economic clout so that it can elbow its way into a seat at the table. — th/ja



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