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August 2018

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I think I gave you an indignant — but understandable — response in last month's Letters when I commented on the May 16 'Lectronic Latitude, Tack or Attack [we titled that letter Watch Your Tone].

My tone left something to be desired; I should have held off a couple of days and written a more constructive letter. It was pure reflex. I'll attempt to provide some more constructive — and hopefully, gentle — criticism. I love Latitude 38. That's part of the reason I was so upset.

I'll stick to this specific encounter, and then close with a couple of general suggestions. In the 'Lectronic, you said: "We were having a brisk and pleasant sail, when an LPG tanker appeared from astern. No big deal. With our bearing holding steady we decided to point up a bit, slow down and let it pass ahead. Then this gun boat came roaring into view and we reconsidered our plan. Though we were monitoring VHF channel 16 we didn't hear a hail, but we did get a clear hand gesture that we should tack (clearly being on starboard tack and under sail wasn't going to help us). We were pleasure-sailing, so no big deal."
I'm very glad that you knew which vessel had the right of way in this situation, but I don't think you made this clear to your readers, some of whom would not know, in the article. It wasn't clear to me, but then I'm kinda thick. And your actions, or the absence of them, showed a lack of appreciation for the seriousness of the situation and a lack of understanding of your obligations as the burdened, or give-way, vessel. They were very typical, however, of your average recreational boater.

During a tanker transit, armed escort vessels and any tugs involved are under the direction of the ship's pilot, or at least they were when I was doing this up until 2000. That escort would almost certainly not have buzzed you if the pilot had not directed him to do so. He or she would not have done so unless you made him or her uncomfortable. And those Bay pilots are accustomed to very close encounters.

I wasn't there, but I'd speculate that what made the pilot uncomfortable was your not taking "early and substantial" (see CG 169 on conduct of burdened vessels) action that made your intentions clear, as required by the rules of the road. I understand that you luffed up to slow down and let him go by, but that was a small course change. And the fact that you altered course to the right was a mistake. It might have led him to believe you intended to cross his bow. You'd be astonished at how often this happens.

If he was a sailor (quite a few pilots and tug operators are), he might also have been concerned about your hanging up in irons. As the burdened or give-way vessel, you are required to take "early and substantial" action so that your intentions are clear to the stand-on, or privileged vessel. The stand-on, or privileged, vessel is required to maintain course and speed so that you can maneuver to avoid them without confusion. I would suggest that if/when you find yourself in a similar situation again, you either tack or bear away enough that the pilot knows that you intend to take his stern, and that you do this sooner, much sooner — please — rather than later. And I fully realize that in this situation, either of these choices would have meant a drastic course change for you. I would further suggest that these actions would be appropriate whether you're "pleasure sailing" or racing. I cannot begin to tell you how many close encounters I've had with racing yachts. People do incredibly stupid things in the heat of battle, yours truly included — though I do give commercial traffic a wide berth, always, and I tell myself that "There's always the next race."

I love sailing, and I love sailing on San Francisco Bay. I'm glad that you promote and encourage it. I hope you and your readers get out there have a mellow, laid-back and enjoyable time.

But I would also like to suggest that any time a larger commercial vessel — be it a tug and barge, container ship, tanker, or LPG carrier — is underway in confined and crowded waters, it is a Big Deal. And based on my experience working with these vessels and their masters, mates and pilots, it's a big deal to the people operating them. They take it very seriously.

I think you made one (or more) of them uncomfortable when they were in a stressful situation and then made light of it in print. I think you could have easily avoided this. I hope you do so in the future and encourage your readers to do the same. And I wish you every success with the magazine.

John Tebbetts
Ichi Bahn, Yamaha 33
Tonga/South Pacific

John — Thanks for your follow-up. It's a busy Bay and the 'tonnage rule' suggests we defer to ships and ship captains. We know it can look far different from a ship's bridge as opposed to from the cockpit of a small sailboat. "Early and substantial" course changes will help everyone be safer and more comfortable (we used to argue with our mother that "we did clean our room!" but it often wasn't 'substantial' enough for her to notice). Glad you're out enjoying a less-crowded part of the Pacific and hope we can connect on the water somewhere soon.

There is a reason that Iowa is an early-primary state! Corn . . . Ethanol . . . See a connection?

George Ramsay
Planet Latitude

Readers — In a June 8 'Lectronic Latitude, we shared a letter from Chris Edmonston, the Vice President of Government Affairs, Boat Owners Association of The United States, or BoatU.S., who told us that the current administration recently announcemed the sale of E15 (15% ethanol) gasoline year-round. Because many gas-using boaters refuel their boats' jerry cans at roadside gas stations rather than at marinas, there is an increased chance that they might accidentally pump E15 fuel into their motors, because "the only warning label required on the station's gas dispenser is an ineffectual, small, square orange label about the size of a pack of cards."

Edmonston added that, "Artificially expanding the market for E15 by allowing year-round sales could make it even more challenging for consumers to find preferred ethanol-free (E0) fuel and increase the risk of misfueling." Nearly 92% of all outboard mechanics have found problems stemming from ethanol-related issues, according to a Boating Industry survey. What's more, Edmonston said "The reason that E15 is currently banned for sale by the Environmental Protection Agency during summer months is due to concerns that it contributes to smog on hot days. Ethanol-blended fuels also result in fewer miles per gallon, as ethanol has a third less energy content than gasoline, according to the Department of Energy."

So in other words, George Ramsay was reminding us that politics has likely crept into another part of our sailing lives.

Sunday, July 1, was a crazy wind day on the Bay. With the nuking winds, fog and smoke, the sky was an eerie sight. There was a trimaran we hadn't seen on the Bay before, so I took a picture, which captured the contrast of the white/gray fog against the smoky background. An eerie day indeed.

Dana Dupar
OPB Sailor on Irie

Dana — "Her name is Paradox," wrote Cameron Tuttle. "She's berthed at Marina Bay Yacht Harbor in Richmond."

Monique Selvester did a great reporting job on the floating city (Ephemerisle) that happens on the Sacramento River in last month's issue.

However, she stated that participating units must follow "all maritime rules such as having a VHF, PFD for each person . . ." In fact, there is no US Coast Guard requirement for any recreational vessel to carry a VHF radio. Hats off to the organizers for this requirement. Of course, many boats do carry a VHF, with 16 being the channel typically used to hail each other, or to make emergency calls.
I find it rather unbelievable that a VHF radio is not required by the Coast Guard. While they may have been somewhat impractical on, say, a 16-ft fishing boat 20 years ago, that's not the case today. Handheld radios are small, reliable and often priced under $100. Anybody (even paddleboard folks) who can afford to get onto the water in some craft can certainly afford a VHF radio.

And while it would be rare to find a sailboat without a VHF, that is certainly not the case for all recreational boats. While I may be preaching to the choir of knowledgeable Latitude 38 readers, hopefully somebody in a position to legislate the requirement for VHF radios might be reading this.

Armand Seguin, USCG Master
?M/V Delfini

This year's Delta Ditch Run was a bit of a disappointment. No wind. Almost no finishers. Our Catalina 30 Shellback started sailing backward, still in San Pablo Bay, after we used up our four hours of engine time in the Cruising Division. But getting to Stockton Sailing Club was the start of our Delta Doo Dah — and where the cars waited — so we restarted the engine and pressed on.

Just now we are enjoying a surprisingly comfortable day at Owl Harbor due to reasonable temperature and a light breeze. The tables are set and the grills are heating for the annual Owl Harbor Tenant Appreciation and Delta Doo Dah BBQ.
And now, finally, the reason for this letter: A shout-out to the operators of Owl Harbor. This has been the big payoff for our Ditch Run these last few years: a couple of days at the best-managed and most-welcoming marina we have visited anywhere in the world (from the Bay to the Northwest, the Baltic Sea, Scotland and the Irish Sea). A really great BBQ that becomes a day-long party and celebration of the boating community. Every DIY Doo Dah sailor should try to include the Owl Harbor BBQ.

John Abbott
Shellback, Catalina 30

Deception was close to Bretwalda and we observed an extended period when they couldn't get their torn kite down. They reported on the radio that they had an injury aboard but were going to continue to race. [During a round-up, a sheet had wrapped around a crewman's leg.] One of Deception's crew, Dr. Charles Stuart, is a retired orthopedic surgeon. He got on the radio and asked if they wanted to discuss their injury. When they described the injury, he advised what to watch for, including the important issue of making sure there was a pulse in the lower leg and foot. They initially reported a pulse but shortly came back on to report no pulse in the lower leg. Charlie advised them to get him to the hospital as soon as possible, as there was a high at risk of losing his leg. Bretwalda reported they could make it into Marina del Rey in 7-8 hours.

The Coast Guard was monitoring this exchange and came on to discuss it with Charlie. Charlie told them 7-8 hours was not soon enough, that the lack of a pulse in the lower leg for that long meant the person was likely to lose his leg, and that the CG should definitely proceed with a medevac, which they did.
It seems from what little reports I have seen that this incident had a good outcome. The injured person did undergo surgery to graft the veins and nerves back together and relieve constricting pressure from the surrounding muscle. But a disaster was narrowly avoided here.

This is a good example of using the resources that exist on the racecourse, as well as prompt CG response. We should not be afraid to ask for a medical consult. If Charlie had not jumped on the radio and volunteered his help, it is likely Bretwalda would have done what I think many of us would have done — stabilize the injured person, give some pain medication, and continue sailing as long as he otherwise seemed under control. That would not have worked here as his lower leg probably would have died before he reached medical attention.

Bill Helvestine
Deception, Santa Cruz 50

Readers — As Bill suggested, we checked his facts with Dr. Charlie Stuart, who said, "The info is basically correct. This could have been a real disaster, but the Bretwalda skipper remained calm and everyone involved worked together to get a good result. The takeaway is that there are resources out on the racecourse to help in an emergency. Reach out on channel 16, which everyone should monitor."

Fun reading the Pac Cup reports. A couple of things from my perspective: A rhumb line is a course that is at a constant fixed angle to the longitude and latitude lines, a straight line, a constant compass heading, and not the shortest course to Hawaii. A rhumb line appears to be a straight line on a typical flat, paper, Mercator projection, nautical chart. At sea, the rhumb line between the West Coast and Hawaii would be a constant course.

A Great Circle or "GC" is the shortest distance between two points on the surface of the Earth. This appears as a curved line on a typical nautical chart, on chartplotters, and on trackers such as YB. Racing to Hawaii, the GC may, at halfway, be as much as 90 nautical miles north of rhumb line.

The GC, being the least miles, is most commonly used by commercial ships and planes to save time and fuel. The GC for sailing yachts is sometimes a race-winning tactic as in the 2016 Pacific Cup when the Pacific High was well north and east. However, the GC remains risky as it takes you north where the chance of lighter winds associated with the southern quadrant of the Pacific High during summer months increases.

In the Singlehanded TransPac, I saw Philippe Jamotte's straight-as-an-arrow course after Day 1. When unsure, PJ kept it simple, and it worked for him. A spinnaker flown during the day, hand steering, might have gained him 20 miles/day or 120 miles at 10-40 degrees off course. He likely would have sailed many more miles, spent hours on the foredeck making the changeover, and risked a wrap, which would have caused unneeded anxiety. A man of PJ's size on the bow of an Olson 30 untangling spinnaker gear is a questionable proposition.

Regarding the Pacific Cup, it beats me how boats in the Cruising Class are racing for "Line Honors" when they are allowed to motor through patches of light winds and calms. Line Honors should be the first sailing yacht to finish, not a boat that is motor-assisted.

Skip Allan
Wildflower, FrogCat 22

Kia and John Koropp's article (in Changes in the June issue of Latitude) on sailing to the Cocos Keeling Islands brought back a thought that all these beautiful islands we read about have an 'alt' history.

The Cocos Keelings were the site of a WWI battle between the German light cruiser SMS Emden and the Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney. Emden had been part of Admiral von Spee's Pacific Squadron in August 1914 when she was detached from the German-made port of Tsingtao, China, to raid British and other allied shipping from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean. Von Spee, as most historians recall, went east across the Pacific with the remainder of the Far East Squadron, and was left to his fate off the Falkland Islands.

For several months Emden — a sleek, three-stack coal burner — sank or captured British, French and Russian ships. Her exploits caused maritime insurance rates to rise, and ships to stay in port fearing to move. The South China Sea and the Indian Ocean stopped seeing maritime traffic; Emden was crippling the Allied war effort. Emden's skipper was delighted when he would capture a coal-carrying ship, assuring his bunkers would stay topped and he could continue his modern-day piracy.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. In November 1914 Emden stopped at the Keelings to destroy a radio station and cut communication cables linking the islands to the mainland. A German landing party of some 50 men went ashore. Shortly after, Emden saw smoke on the horizon and headed for it hoping for another kill. They planned to pick up the landing party later. But she ran into a merchant convoy (assembled as a group because of Emden's activities) being escorted by Sydney, which had 6-in guns compared to the 4.1-in (105-mm) guns Emden carried.

A quick turn-around to escape was for naught as Sydney was faster (her boilers were clean compared to Emden's after four months cruising with no port calls). Sydney's 6-in guns chopped the Emden up, silencing her guns one by one. Battered, Emden purposely ran aground on the Keelings, and the battle was over. For some 50 years her hulk stayed on the rocks until someone (in the Australian government I believe) decided to clear it away from being an eyesore.

Most of the German survivors of the battle were captured and sent to Malta, but the landing party eluded the Aussies, stole a leaky interisland schooner, and sailed it across the Indian Ocean, up the Red Sea and into Turkish-occupied Arabia. They eventually made it back to Germany by train. The XO of Emden wrote an excellent book of that sailing experience through hostile waters — another 'ripping yarn' of the sea.

Where one sees beautiful beaches, lagoons and palm trees, others see a historical event. When I was a teen in the '50s exploits of WWI like this were common reading, but, too much has happened since; we can't all keep up with or remember such incidents.

Wayne Padgett
LCdr USCG (ret.)

I had some Canadian friends in town and just wanted to show them a typical summer day on the Bay — in the Slot — on June 18, 2018.

Derek Parker
Talisman, Oceanis 351

Derek — "Come sailing," he said. "It'll be fun!" he said. Be sure to bring your sunscreen. And four layers of foul weather gear.

Easy to understand why you changed the rules of the 'first-person-to-send-us-a-picture-of-the-new-issue-on-delivery-day-wins-a-T-shirt', because it was too easy for people to just go online and snap a picture, but . . .
I'm currently located in mid-country Mexico and getting a paper copy of Latitude is impossible; when they do show up someplace near the coast, their arrival is not early in the distribution cycle.

Sigh. Looking forward to getting back to Paradise Village. Dick and Gena Markie usually have copies fairly soon after publication.

That said, all the best to the magazine and staff. I've been reading Latitude 38 since shortly after its inception (can't seem to find that date on Internet to know where I was at the time).

PJ Landresse
La Cuna, Hunter Passage 42, K6PJL
Midland Mexico

Hi Latitude Classy Classifieds. Your mag is too good. We were only in for one issue and our boat sold. We signed up for two months, but already we have a firm offer. And it's not a scam offer — the guy actually showed up in person. If it falls through, we will certainly re-list. It's a bittersweet time, because Blue Martini has been a great boat, but we're moving up to a bigger Schumacher boat, an Outbound 46. Our plan is to join the 25th Anniversary Baja Ha-Ha! We hope Richard does not retire before then.

Thanks for being such a great mag. We read cover to cover every month.

Mark and Laney Gale
ex-Blue Martini, Olson 911
Latitude Nation

I got started late, in my late 50s. Now I charter two or three times a month to go sailing around San Francisco Bay. I haven't gotten into racing due to work schedules, and I'd definitely like more intro sailing days like Summer Sailstice.

David Henry

How did I get hooked on sailing? Umm, schooners. Duh!
Marina Lambchop

Breaking down the cost barrier is key to growing the sport/pastime/lifestyle in our opinion.


I got hooked on sailing when (at 8) I opened a National Geographic on some far-off island and realized that sailing there was my best chance — and I did.

Michael Scott

If you grow up with it then it will be part of you; it worked for me.

Greg Clausen

I started racing in the early '90s; seems like that's all we do.

Rich Hudnut

My boat is currently far up the Delta (at Tower Park Resort). I read your article [in the July 16 'Lectronic Latitude] about Suisun Bay with interest.

Having traveled across Suisun more times than I can count, I can tell you some things about the dangers of it. There are two main issues. People who don't use the charts are deceived by the large east-west shallow area that runs right through the center of Suisun Bay. The chart shows that there are some areas that are normally awash at low tide. The problem is, most of the time they are just below the waterline, and you can't tell it's super-shallow since the water is murky. Quite often there is someone aground (I've done it once when not paying attention).

The second problem is for people who actually read the chart, which shows a restricted area for Port Chicago. There is a 500-yard security zone active whenever a boat is loading or unloading, or when a boat with munitions is docked. When this happens, you can't even stay in the channel; there is a very narrow deep zone between 500 yards and the area named 'Middle Ground'. To help navigate this somewhat narrow area, there are a few white markers just north of the security zone. Near buoy G19, there's less than 20 yards between the security zone and the half-foot sounding!

The best way to transit that area is to ask for permission to enter the zone by calling the the 24-hour Command Center at (415) 399-3547. They will usually give you permission to stay in the channel or at least slightly breach the 500-yard restriction, even when they are actively loading and unloading, sometimes with an escort.

I hope this helps someone thinking about transiting this bay. It's absolutely beautiful up in the Delta (and your boat gets a 'free' bottom job as a bonus since the water is fairly fresh east of Suisun Bay). Anyone looking for more tips feel free to email me at Maybe I'll write a guide someday!

Ron Kuris
Jane O, Privilege 39

We sailed many races in Suisun in years past. Your article brought back many memories of the numerous races we did through that body of water.

In a South Tower Race many years ago we encountered over 40 knots on the nose and 3-4 feet of chop beating toward Carquinez, the highest wind Ozone ever beat into in a race. Then we had our infamous grounding with three other 34s in a Delta Ditch Run and spent all afternoon getting off, with a memorable picture in Latitude.

Carl Bauer
Ozone, Olson 34
Richmond Yacht Club

I've been going to the Delta for more years than I can recall in all manner of vessels. Even before GPS and chartplotters, it was fairly straightforward navigation, and the shallows were well marked. The cases such as this [a grounding on July 14] seem to me to be simple lack of attention or poor navigation skills.

Dane Faber
Black Swan, Grand Banks 49

The first time I went to the Delta, as I passed under the railroad bridge at Benicia, I saw miles of open water, or so it seemed. With the chart close at hand, I stuck to the channel markers on the south side of the bay. A little farther on, I noticed the remains of a boat to the north of me, between where I was and the Mothball Fleet. Although your article (and the Coast Guard report you referenced) did not say exactly where the 22-ft sailboat grounded, I bet that's where it was. That 'point' is notorious for groundings and is marked, but it's deceptive in its invisibility. Those remains I spoke of have been gone for a few years now, but will this sailboat be the new 'don't go here' marker?

Incidentally, going east, that area begins what I call the 'I-5 of Boating'; it's straight (once you get around the corner toward Port Chicago), there's nothing to look at, it can be really hot, and it takes a couple of hours (depending on current and wind). The stacks at Pittsburg are a great reference point as to where you're going, but for a while, they seem like a mirage where, even though you're getting closer, you're not sure if you're ever going to get there.
I guess the moral of the story is, use your charts and don't let your guard down!

Brian Forster
Great Expectations, Catalina 320

One of the first things I do when I go sailing on the Bay is stow the docklines and fenders. I see a lot of other boats, both power and sail, out and about on the Bay with fenders dragging in the water. In my opinion, it looks bad to see a nice boat in the middle of the Bay with four fenders dragging in the water!

Glenn Shinn
Grendel, Moore 24 prototype
Santa Cruz

I got a little chuckle out of the piece on not sailing around dragging your fenders.
Fenders are necessary in most of the crowded Mediterranean anchorages and many people never take them in — sailing or motoring along in full regalia. Here Escapade is seen in our soon-to-be-packed anchorage in the beautiful 16th-century city of Korcula, Croatia. With 4,000 bareboats available for charter you have a good chance of meeting someone close-up.

Greg Dorland
Escapade, Catana 52
Korcula, Croatia

Wayne Kipp and I termed a phrase years ago after a delivery to SoCal. Any vessel with their fenders down had Marina del Rey Racing Stripes.

Tim Stapleton
PK, J/80
Richmond Yacht Club

Dragging fenders? That's the nautical equivalent of an open fly. I understand they're also known as "Marina del Rey Racing Stripes."

John Tennyson
Grinnin' Bear, Catalina 30
San Francisco

Sailing is beautiful, in a structured, respectful way. Now, I've left fenders down sometimes because I'm a forgetful idiot. But, I'll avoid passing that off as my statement of liberation from convention. Doing things 'just to do them' because it is rebellious is as smart as those comparisons seem. So, I don't 'judge' if you decide on sailing's version of the ultimate bad tattoo or ingestion of a Tide POD, but let's call it what it is . . . an affront to the Sea and to Sailing.

Rich Jepsen, Self-Righteous Sailing Instructor
Cedric, IOD
OCSC, Berkeley

Those of us who have to maintain the paint on the sides of our hulls don't pick up fenders so we "look good," we pick them up because they scuff up the paint and shorten its life. Come on by and lend a hand sanding and painting Mayan's topsides and you'll become rather rigorous about keeping the fenders off the paint.

Beau Vrolyk
Mayan, Alden Schooner
Santa Cruz

When I was teaching sailing out of Redwood City and San Francisco, I always referred to fenders down as "Bayliner Racing Stripes." While I agree with the working-boat standard of not pulling fenders in while moving around the marina from slip to fuel dock or the like, once the breakwater is cleared, the fenders get stowed.

Gene Bennett
Coot, Godzilla
Kenmore, WA

Their boat. Their fenders. So long as no one's in danger, what's it matter? They're out on the water having fun, and will catch on soon enough. Besides, dangling fenders help us know that a novice might be in charge and should be given lots of room.

Ron Sherwin
Chimera Blù, Tartan 4100
Monterey, CA

I pull my fenders and stow them when I'm racing or with an experienced crew. If shorthanded cruising, I lay them on deck still attached to rail or lifelines. If they fall back into the water because we are rail-down, I leave them there until it's easy to restow. I don't want to imperil any crew fetching fenders. My ego was destroyed years ago so I don't really care if it is a fashion faux pas.

CB Richardsla
Viajera, J/109

Regarding fenders, there are the discolored, semi-inflated white blobs with badly-frayed whips, which are ready to be lost overboard. Then there are proper fenders you wouldn't want to lose.

Even though Ragtime! is a little race boat, she has the latter because, well, she's spoiled. Needless-to-say, she wouldn't want to be seen sailing around with them dragging in the water, now would she?

Bob Johnston
Ragtime! J/92
Richmond Yacht Club

Readers — We thought this topic might spur some healthy discussion about one of sailing's biggest faux pas. In a July 11 'Lectronic, we emphatically stated that we don't 'endorse' fender-down sailing because it is, at its heart, poor seamanship. Fenders down while underway reflects an unready and mismanaged vessel where equipment is straining, chafing and wearing unnecessarily. Some would say that fenders down is a function of pure laziness. So there's all of that, but having your fenders down just looks bad. "The nautical equivalent of an open fly," said one reader.

For us, pulling your fenders up was beaten into our heads long before we learned anything else about sailing — and the impetus of this ritual was just as much for the aesthetics and social acceptance as it was for its functionality.

While we (again) firmly believe in having your boat as tidy and shipshape as possible as a reflection of your state of readiness for the sea, we have seen an extreme side to pulling the fenders up that borders on obsessive-compulsive, or is somewhat equivalent to the cool kids making fun of you for your fashion choices. In fact, there is a new Instagram account called @fenders­­_out, which documents #fenderoffenders. Surfing has an equivalent called @kook_of_the_day, which shows people wearing their wetsuits in the supermarket, putting their fins on backward, etc. These sites are all fun and games (and we follow and enjoy them both), but again, there's a certain cliquishness to them: "We're cooler than you, because we look better." It's not untrue, but, as we get older, it feels like a slightly immature notion.

While leaving Lowrie in San Rafael last spring, about 30 seconds after we pulled out of our slip, two people (from a motorboat no less) blurted out: "Your fenders are down. And there's no wind out there." Clearly, our relaxed fender-stowing procedure isn't going to satisfy people with OFD (Obsessive Fender Disorder). Thanks for the advice, folks. We stowed the bumpers when we could and found great breeze all day.

As we mentioned in the 'Lectronic, there are actually occasions when it makes sense to leave your fenders down (please see the photos from a few columns prior). On boats moving short distances on calm waters from dock to dock, pulling your fenders up becomes an unnecessary exertion. We also said that some of us have even rebelled against our fender-etiquette training. Granted, this momentary fender-down phase — like many youthful rebellions against the common sense you were inundated with in your youth — was pure stupidity, but it was a chance to ask ourselves: Why? Why do we go through certain motions? With fenders, the answer is simple: seamanship.

And sure, we always love to be Lookin' Good, but we believe, first and foremost, in function over form.

We haven't lived on our boat for 12 years, but I'm still obsessing over the weather. It's the first thing I check in the morning. This is tied in with checking stars, moon phases and tides.

Once a sailor always a sailor.

I don't think you can be a cruiser without first loving nature and respecting the weather.

Susan Grover
Planet Earth

I believe climate change occurs, but is somewhat cyclical.

My degrees are in physics and I fully understand thermodynamics. One area that I have not seen studied anywhere is how climate change is being affected by the proliferation of air conditioning. AC adds more heat to the environment then it removes from cars, houses, offices, etc. When I was growing up very few houses, schools or cars had AC. Now it is abnormal to see a car driving with the windows rolled down. If someone wants to do something positive for climate change, have them turn off their AC.

Doug Foster
Portland, OR

I guess I'm a kinda-denier. It seems like the most ardent of the man-caused climate-change crowd are so unwilling to accept any contradiction to their postulates that this in itself leads to disbelief. It's just hard to believe that they have solved the problem of weather genesis in the mere 30 or so years since Al Gore personified the problem. I have basically two statistics that give me doubt:

1) It was only 15,000 years ago that farmers living in what is today the English Channel had to skedaddle on out of there or get water wings because the sea levels, they were a-rising. The global population was less than 10 million. That suggests to me that there are strong forces other than man that drive our global weather.

2) I can think of no better measurement of human activity than GDP. Global GDP approximately doubled between 2000 and 2010, yet that decade had climatologists scrambling to explain why there was no appreciable warming. Since then all the annual measurements have shown increases that were all within the statistical margins of error.

Having cast my doubts about today's hysteria, I also firmly believe we should be good stewards to our planet and we should have our finest minds working on ways to minimize negative human impact on the environment. This however needs to be done sensibly, not blindly.

I think the improvement in the overall quality of the water in San Francisco Bay in the last 50 years speaks well toward sensible stewardship. Going King Canute on the rising tides does not.

Bob Barter
Sea Ya, Hunter 356

I am not a scientist. I do believe the climate is changing; it is my belief that the climate is in a constant state of change. This is easily observable by looking at history: We know there have been ice ages and periods when the planet was warmer. I have personally seen dinosaur footprints in what is now desert that was once swamp. I have dug petrified clams out of a cliffside 20 feet above the current sea level. All this indicates a change in climate with or without human interface.

In my life I have seen years of drought and years of wet. I'm not getting any younger and I won't see as many years going forward as I have behind, but I bet I'll see more wet, dry, hot and cold ones before I cash out. We as a culture look at everything as if it is under a microscope. Everything is right now! and faster!

We look for problems that don't exist; we get too caught up in what's wrong rather than what's right. We need to turn off our TVs and quit worrying about what some pundit with an agenda has to say, and think for ourselves.
Life would be better, and, what the heck, if it is getting warmer, we'll just get a better tan. Oops! Can't do that — skin cancer, you know. Need I say more?

Michael Leonard
Formerly of the S/V Serendipity
Now I got a motor boat named Rufflife
Tucson, AZ

I am neither a believer or a denier. Those are extremes. I have been studying the climate change research for 40 years.

There never was a consensus, and there certainly isn't today (go to While we have had weather anomalies of late, climate predictions are based on long-term observations. My conclusion that we are not facing a disaster is based on science.

Planet Earth

Anonymous — We don't know what kind of "consensus" would satisfy everyone and, thanks to the Internet, we can all find a Web link to support any point of view. But we assume you mean we shouldn't change anything until absolutely everyone agrees. We also assume that since your conclusion is "based on science" that you believe others who are concerned about climate change are just making things up. We are quite sure progress does not start after there is consensus, and there is enough scientific evidence to support shifting away from fossil fuels to clean energy. As sailors, we love windpower and don't see a downside to less CO2 in the air.

We recently had to replace our water heater and invited four or five experts to come give us a quote. Not surprisingly, there was no consensus. Prices and recommendations varied wildly. Despite some doubters of our final choice, we moved forward and are no longer taking cold showers.

I know we are significantly polluting our environment, and I believe nothing good will come from that.

Keith Joho
Stargazer, Catalina 310

I do have to take issue with the June 15 'Lectronic where you quoted: "We all agree that there is something called 'climate change' going on. I am simply here to tell you deniers are not all fanatics, and there is an argument."

Just because there are climate-change deniers out there who shout louder than others does not mean you have to give then ink. The previous publisher of Latitude 38 certainly didn't do our environment any favors with his wrong-headed climate-change opinions spread throughout the magazine and on the Internet — 97% of climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. That's from NASA (

The truth is, people should go sailing and get out of the city, and they will find a changing climate. Islanders are losing their homes. Ask those who live in those places. Ice is melting. Ask Alaskans.

Latitude 38 doesn't need to give a voice to those who want to keep their heads in the sand. Latitude does need to speak the truth. Repeating BS like the quote above does a disservice to your readers and, more importantly, to our planet. I hope you will keep this in mind as you continue to write about the subject. There is a point (now!) when the only discussion about climate change should be what we can do about it. Every breath we spend defending it, or allowing deniers to pretend it isn't happening, steals energy from the solution.

Finally, for those who continue to insist that there is no climate change (and I'm going against everything I just said by even addressing those deniers), if we clean up our act, we win no matter what: If there is climate change we save the Earth; if there is not, we have a cleaner Earth. Ask yourself what the result of these two scenarios is if we do nothing.

Bruce Balan
Migration, Cross 46 Trimaran
The Pacific Ocean (currently Long Beach)

To deny that climate change is occurring is laughable when the overwhelming majority of climatologists, people who make their living studying this, agree that climate change is real. What else do deniers need to see or learn to believe it?

Yes, there have been climate changes, both warm-ups and cool-downs over the millennia, but the rate of change of the one being observed now is unprecedented. And we can't afford to deny it, ignore it, and do nothing about it. The long-term consequences will be insurmountable and devastating.

Mark Purdy
Trivial Pursuit, Corsair F-27

Climate change? There is evidence that we have seen melting of the ice caps before. There has been work done in Greenland; it shows remains of past civilizations under the melting ice caps. The real issue is the studies related to Earth's climate that are being done and who is paying for them.

If Al Gore is worried about rising oceans, why does he have a home several feet above today's sea level? We should be more concerned about the Pacific ring of fire, and the volcano threats and earthquakes going on. The Yellowstone area is more of a threat than changes in today's climate. Read about what is going on with Old Faithful and some of the other northeast geysers in the Yellowstone area. We can see what is happening in Hawaii. We can see the increase in geyser activity in Yellowstone. Do we want to say these are due to climate change? These changes have nothing to do with our modern lifestyles.

I will agree that people are polluters and are contributing to the damaging of planet Earth's ecosystem. Look at the garbage pit in the Pacific, as well as the one that is showing up in the Atlantic. The removal of trees for wider highways and more and larger buildings add to changes in climate. In many cases government agencies are as much a part of the climate changes as they are a problem to the solutions. Government will ruin an ecosystem for political and tax-base increases.

Look at the wetlands being developed around the Bay Area, and a governor who wants a tunnel built for water to be shipped to the L.A. area. Why not build desalinization plants and have the users pay higher prices for water? Countries around the world have been doing it for years.

Planet Ocean

There is climate change. Why? The weather is cyclical. Who's responsible is the question politicians ask. Sailors adapt and prepare. It's time to go to the Arctic now.

Susan Grover
Second Wind, Union Polaris
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

In regard to Mark S. Grant's letter about global warming in July's Latitude, I noticed his use of one of the many inculcated reasonings that seem to cloud the debate. He said: "No doubt man can pollute rivers, lakes, groundwater and the air and kill off species. So can we change the climate? Maybe . . ."

Methinks the global warming "debate" expertly and efficiently, as d.esigned by masters in the art of deception, takes the heat off all the other very serious realities of the use of fossil fuels and their byproducts. Just sayin'.

Nels Fredrickson
Santa Barbara

In response to Mark S. Grant's letter in the July issue, "I've got a feeling about the weather," which said, "something first called 'global warming', and then when they couldn't fudge the data any more to their liking, settled for scaring us with 'climate change.'"

Absolute nonsense.

The IPCC, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was founded and named in 1988. That's 30 years ago. The term "climate change" is hardly new. Scientists have been using the terms climate change and global warming interchangeably since at least 1970.

You want to talk about fudging data, misrepresenting the science, misusing data to make claims that are opposite of what the data shows, making lies out of facts, posting completely misleading graphs, cherry-picking short timespans to make false claims (see post misleading graphs) about sea ice or temperature trends, and on and on? Look no further than the denialist sources that have fooled so many. I have seen hundreds of examples of all these over the last decade. Deniers believe dozens if not hundreds of flat-out lies and myths about the science, with no skepticism whatsoever. That is why they are not skeptics.
There is zero evidence of consensus climate scientists fudging the data. This unfounded lie is a constant belief of deniers. Climategate was a manufactured fake scandal, as seven investigations found. What you no doubt believe about the so called "trick," mentioned in a stolen email, is complete rubbish.

There is no lack of data for climate going back many thousands and even millions of years. Paleoclimatology data is quite reliable. Ice-core data goes back 800,000 years, showing CO2 levels, for one thing. Other paleoclimate data includes fossil corals, fossil plankton, seabed sediments, lakebed sediments, tree rings, etc. Some of these hold chemical fingerprints of earlier climates.
That ice-core data has shown that humans are increasing atmospheric CO2 100 times faster than the fastest that nature has done in at least the last 450,000 years, and almost certainly in the last 800,000 years or more. For 800,000 years CO2 was between 170ppm-300ppm. Now it's over 400ppm.The last time CO2 was this high was 3 million years ago during the Pliocene. Global average temperature was 2°C to 3°C warmer than now, and sea levels were 10–20 meters higher. And we haven't made a dent in CO2 emissions yet.

Atmospheric CO2 has increased by over 80ppm since 1960 (58 years). Atmospheric CO2 has increased by over 120ppm since 1880 (138 years).
How does that compare with naturally occurring changes over the past 450,000 years? Well, from ice-core data:

450,000 years ago, it was at ~200ppm and it took ~50,000 years to go to ~280ppm. (80ppm increase).
It was at ~180ppm 260,000 years ago and it took 20,000 years to go up to ~300ppm. (120ppm increase).
It was at ~180ppm 140,000 years ago and it took 15,000 years to go up to ~290ppm. (110ppm increase).
It was at ~180ppm 25,000 years ago and it took 24,800 years to go up to ~280ppm. (100ppm increase).

Gee, I wonder what's causing the warming?

Richard Mercer
Mage Wind, Pearson Triton
San Rafael

Latitude Nation — To us, denying climate change reminds us of flat Earthers who stood on the shore as Columbus sailed over the horizon, thinking, or knowing that he'd surely sail off the edge of the Earth. Over time, we imagine climate change deniers will be as common as flat Earthers are today, meaning there will always be some of both. We used to be a nation of pioneers who invented things like the light bulb, the telephone and, yes, even the oil industry, which gave us fiberglass sailboats and so many other modern conveniences. But it's time to stop clinging to the past and move forward. Like so many other once-great industries (we're talking to you Nantucket whalers), oil and coal have served their purpose. It's time for a pioneering nation to make progress toward the clean energy sources of the future.

As we said at the conclusion of last month's Letters: We believe in human-made climate change, and we believe in an urgent and decisive response — namely, to steadily wean ourselves off fossil fuels. Regardless of whatever threat you believe climate change poses, ask yourself this question: Why wouldn't we replace coal-burning plants with windmills and solar panels? Why wouldn't we want cars that get 100 miles to the gallon?

As to Bruce Balan's point about whether we should have even asked this question and dignified deniers' opinions by giving them space in print . . . that was a tough call. On the one hand, we're legitimately curious about our readers' views on climate change. On the other hand, we think deniers are wrong, and that the act of denial is part of a general degradation of fact and truth, and a growing skepticism of experts and expert opinion. We are living in the Golden Age of Lying, a time when objective reality is suddenly open to so-called 'alternative' versions, and is arbitrarily assigned some moral equivalency through 'whataboutism' — we're destroying the Earth? Well what about the fact that the sun is going expand in five billion years and consume the planet . . . so excuse me while I buy another SUV that runs on coal and whale oil.

But rather than haggle over the finer points of climate change, we wanted to find areas of common ground with those with whom we disagree. Even the deniers who wrote us said that we can't keep polluting or gobbling up resources indefinitely. As we said last month, moving toward renewable and sustainable resources is a natural, logical evolution of industrialized humanity. Were there lobbyists who fought to keep the whale industry alive? And why not? It was a proud business that produced many sailors and gave us one of the greatest novels in American history. But at some point, humanity learned that there were better ways to make the lights burn.

This is where the issue of climate change and environmentalism falls into our wheelhouse, and where we have a unique perspective. If you're a sailor, then no matter what your thoughts on climate change, you're a devotee, to some extent, of green power and renewable energy. As a sailor, you're used to conserving water and taking care to make sure your dirty chemicals and old bottom paint don't end up in the ocean.

We are proud of the sailors and leaders out there finding ways for humanity to better come into equilibrium with the planet. If every one on the planet Lived Like a Sailor, the world would be a far better place.



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