THE BAY BELONGS TO ALL MARINERS
Our family of four — including daughters Lorell, 10, and Heather, 8 — recently completed a pleasant 30-day cruise from San Francisco Bay to Catalina and back. We took a leisurely 12 days to get to Catalina, and spent five days at Isthmus Cove, four days at Emerald Bay, then visited Marina del Rey before starting our trip home. Unfortunately, the last leg of our trip, from Half Moon Bay to San Francisco, ended on a sour note.
We passed beneath the Golden Gate at about noon, and as we were heading down the center of the channel toward Pier 39, we finally felt completely safe after several 12- to 18-hour days. We were also delighted to see several boats racing off the St. Francis YC. But as the racers turned downwind and popped thier chutes, they started coming our way. To my amazement, one of the boats, a Farr 40 very similar to the one on the cover of last month's Latitude, started heading for our boat.
As the boat came closer, there was no indication that they intended to obey the Rules of the Road, which require that an overtaking boat stay clear of the boat being overtaken, and that the boat being overtaken maintain her course and speed. Instead of staying clear, when the boat was less than 20 yards away, her crew began waving at us to move out of their way. There was no reason that they couldn't have overtaken us in a safe an orderly manner, but the skipper of the boat made no attempt to avoid a collision.
I was forced to take evasive action to avoid being hit by the overtaking vessel. As it was, their bow passed within feet of our stern. It was apparent that they were completely out of control.
Could somebody please inform racers that the Bay belongs to all mariners, not just them? And that they need to obey the same rules as the rest of us? If they can't control their vessels, they shouldn't be putting other people in harm's way.
The incident scared the hell of my wife and two children.
Pour Les Filles, Hunter 41
Don — We're sorry to hear that your family's trip had to end with such a fright. It wasn't right. Having raced a lot, we understand how jacked up people can get while racing, how every second counts, and how common it is for racing boats to be on the edge of control while just a few feet away from other out-of-control racing boats. It's part of what makes it fun. Having raced as much as we have, if we were you, we would have held our course and speed to the bitter end, and possibly have not gotten quite as frightened. But if one of the racing boats indeed came within feet of your transom, it's a violation of the Rules of the Road, but what's worse, it would have been a violation of common courtesy. We think racing boats ought to stay at least three boat lengths from the transoms of non-racing boats, at least one boat length from the other boat's beam, and above all, try to make their intentions clear — in as calm a manner as possible — to non-racing boats. There's no reason anyone has to mess up somebody else's day just to enjoy their own.
MY TAX BILL PAID FOR MY MARGARITAS
For anyone heading to Mexico this winter, or returning after a season in Mexico, I have a happy surprise to share with you. I just got home from cruising in Mexico since last year's Baja Ha-Ha, and found sitting on my desk an Alameda County personal property tax bill of $3,500 for my boat. I called the Tax Assessor's Office and told them I had been out of the country since October of '08. They said if I could show them proof — such as marina receipts — that my boat was out of the country, they would waive my '09 tax bill. I was able to do that and the tax was waived!
The tax bill's being waived 'paid' for all my time in marinas as well as for margaritas for the whole trip. All right, maybe not all the margaritas, but most of them.
Endless Summer, F-41 Cat
Emery Cove Marina, Emeryville
Readers — We caution everyone not to count on their tax waiver until it's officially granted. We know it's hard to believe, but tax assessors in different California counties still get away with interpreting the law differently. For example, in some California counties the assessor doesn't care if you cruise around the world for five years; he/she will still threaten to put a lien on your boat if you don't pay the personal property taxes. In other counties, the assessor says that if you're out of the county for more than six months a year, you get a waiver. What constitutes 'proof' that you were out of the county can also vary. So check with the county your boat is registered in before counting on your marina and margarita money. In some cases, it may be worth shifting the homeport of your boat to a more tax-friendly county — or state.
By the way, some county assessors employ techniques that would put them behind bars if they were working for private industry. For instance, years ago we kept a boat in Ventura County and duly paid taxes on her. But two years after we moved the boat to Northern California, we got a notice that Ventura County had put a lien on our boat for non-payment of taxes. When we asked the county how they could have made the mistake of still having our boats on the rolls when she was long gone, the response was troubling. "We didn't make a mistake. We just bill every boat that was in the county the year before, and if we don't get paid, we put a lien on their boat." Brilliant. One can only hope that policy was changed long ago.
CURED BY BRIGGS & STRATTON
In the August 10 'Lectronic, you mentioned some treatments for lances by scorpionfish and stonefish. Did you know there are battery-operated infrared and hot-plate heater devices for bee stings and mosquito bites, devices that chemically change venom and hyper-stimulate histamine? In other words, they do the same thing that applying near boiling water does, but without scalding a large area of skin. Such devices can be purchased at outdoors stores or outdoor websites. I take my device with me wherever I'm going to deal with insects, and have found that it's worked well.
In theory, these inexpensive gadgets could work as well for scorpion fish stings as they do for bee stings. The downside of this technology is that it leaves a welt that takes time to heal, and you need to apply the device to your skin until it's so hot that you can barely stand it.
Dr. Lewis Keizer
Sandpiper, Ericson 27
Readers — Treating sea life and insect bites and stings with electricity might sound crazy, but there are a number of reasonable sounding reports on the internet that support it. For example, there is one by JoAnn Mansfield, who ran a health clinic in Mali and had been told about the electricity treatment by the missionary she replaced.
"Frankly, I did not believe it," writes Mansfield. "But three weeks after I arrived, a woman who had been stung on the side of her foot by a very large scorpion came in. She was bent over with pain. We had nothing but an antihistamine with which to treat her, but it didn't help. I told her about the shock treatment, and she was in so much pain she was willing to try anything. We couldn't find the equipment my predecessor had told me about, but we did have a Briggs & Stratton power plant. I put the metal portion of the spark plug wire right on the spot where she had been stung and had someone pull the starter rope. She jerked, but kept on moaning, hardly noticing the shock. The second pull had the same result. After the third pull, however, she immediately straightened up, stopped moaning and began to leave. I stopped her and asked about the pain. She said it was gone. In the next couple years, we treated four or five more people in a similar fashion. In one case, where the sting was in a difficult spot to shock, there was still pain although it was a lot better after the shock. The others had total relief from pain, sometimes with just one pull. None took more than three pulls."
We at Latitude are absolutely not recommending that anyone treat a bite or sting using their Yamaha outboard, but merely suggesting that there might be something to this. Do your own research and proceed as you see fit.
SEND MORE LATITUDES!
I was devastated to see the August issue photo of the Columbia 34 Rubaiyat on the rocks at Catalina. I owned and lived aboard her for 11 years in the '80s, and cruised her in Mexico for a year. I still have a 'Some Like It Hot' rally T-shirt I got for sailing her to Mexico prior to the start of the Ha-Ha.
After Rubaiyat, we bought a Freeport 41, Aquarius, and lived and cruised on her for 11 years also. We did three cruises to Baja and several deliveries from Mexico to homeports in California during that time.
Now we live on a floating home on the Columbia River in Portland, and have just one complaint — the Latitudes disappear off the shelves within three days of arriving. Send more!
Phil — Sorry to learn you lost an old member of the family. As for the Latitudes, you can save us money — and the earth trees — by reading it online for free. The pictures are way better when reading it online. Download it off our site in PDF format at www.latitude38.com. Fill your Latitude library by downloading missing issues as far back as May 2007.
Like a lot of people, we used to love reading paper versions of books and magazines. Then we got an Amazon Kindle. We haven't read a regular book or newspaper since. Admittedly, the Kindle is like a first generation computer compared to what's going to be coming along very soon — including perhaps something from Apple next year — and Latitude is not yet available on Kindle. But change is coming, and despite what you think right now, it's going to be for the better.
THIS RUBAIYAT IS STILL FLOATING
I recently bought the 1972 center cockpit Irwin 37 Rubaiyat (ex-Peregrine), and am trying to learn more about her history because she supposedly circumnavigated twice. I thought you might know because I've been told there was an article about her in a sailing magazine.
Most of the documentation I have for Rubaiyat is since '94, when a San Diego owner sold her to a gentleman in Bellingham, WA, who sold her to a man in '05 who took the boat to — for reasons I'll never understand — Pueblo, CO.
Knowing how sailors are with stories, maybe Rubaiyat never went around the world at all. However, I do have a document that indicates she went through the Panama Canal at least once, so maybe there is something to it. Can Latitude or anybody else give me any help?
Rubaiyat, Irwin 37
Clay — Although it's not definitive, we maintain a list of most West Coast boats that have done circumnavigations. We don't have an Irwin 37 named Rubaiyat or Peregrine among them. The closest we can find is the Irwin 37 Lady Ann, which the
Sausalito-based Leslie family — Willie, Andrea and youngsters Scott and Ellen — sailed around the world from '01 to '03.
BUILDING A BETTER PORTA-BOTE
Thanks for publishing the great June issue article on Peter Carr, who has cruised far and wide with his F-27 and F-31 trimarans. After years of racing on the Bay, I put aside sailing due to the time and energy required to raise a family. What got me to realize how much I missed sailing was a cruise from Santa Cruz to Monterey and back aboard a co-worker’s F-27. When I was given a chance at the helm, my first thought was how much I wanted to point the boat towards Hawaii and just keep going. That thought stayed with me, so upon retirement, my brother and I bought the Beneteau Oceanis 390 Far Fetched and did the ‘06 Ha-Ha. I can’t think of a better decision I’ve made. The last three cruising seasons in Mexico have been wonderful, with the friends we’ve made exceeding all expectations.
As for Peter’s comments about the Porta-Bote, we purchased one as our cruising dinghy and have similar positive feelings about it. The shortcoming, as he mentioned, is that they are difficult to use as a dive boat. Since my career was in the design industry, I can't leave well enough alone when it comes to thinking of ways to improve products. So during the ‘06 Ha-Ha, we showed the Grand Poobah a preliminary version of a Porta-Bote with tubes attached for better stability when getting in and out. After several years of testing and improvements, the attached photos show the current product, which is a collaboration between Porta-Bote and Sotar.
Far Fetched, Beneteau Oceanis 390
Grants Pass, OR
Steve — The story of folks who dropped out of sailing to raise a family but then were somewhat surprised to find themselves enthusiastically getting back into sailing are legion. We're glad you were one of them.
We’re sorry that we can’t forward messages to the subjects of our articles, such as Peter Carr, but we're happy to let him and everyone else know that you can be reached by email for details on your modified Porta-Bote.
MULTIHULLS GOOD — ENGINES BAD
I've been a multihull enthusiast since my first ride on a P Cat in the early '60s. So I have been very interested and excited to see that multihulls will be used in the upcoming America's Cup.
I am, however, very upset that motors will be permitted on these boats for any reason at all. I believe that crews should do all the work, and that a motor to trim sails or move ballast — or to do anything! — is wrong.
The America's Cup should be an intellectual and physical competition, so the use of motors should be prohibited.
Mokuakalana, Jar Cat
Readers — The use of internal combustion engines to help run sailboats has been controversial since the beginning. There were many complaints, for example, when Roy Disney's MaxZ86 Pyewacket and Hasso Plattner's sistership Morning Glory showed up to sail around the Heineken course in St. Martin in '04 with engines thundering. They were needed to frequently 'trim' their canting keels. More than a few people found the sound of the engines on racing sailboats to be disturbing. "Why not just have the engines attached to a propeller?" suggested one wag.
In the case of the America's Cup, Alinghi shocked everyone with the announcement they would use power, so BMW Oracle has followed suit.
Racing Editor Rob Grant sees it like this: "The use of stored power to actuate sailing systems that make a boat go faster is not a new or unusual practice. Many races, including the TransPac, Pacific Cup and Coastal Cup, among others, have 'open divisions' for boats that employ these technologies — whether they be powered winches, canting keels or water ballast — and are granted waivers to use them. Their handicaps are adjusted to theoretically account for the additional performance they allow. It could be argued that the use of an engine to charge the batteries that run the wind instruments, laptops and communications equipment that permit more precise and informed routing and performance analysis is making that boat go faster as well . . . .
"But while we marvel at the speeds attainable by canting-keeled boats with water ballast and powered winches, we don't think it's done much for the sport. Sure, records have fallen as the powered systems allow for ever-larger boats to manage ever-larger sailplans with fewer crew. But at the same time, the cost-savings in the crew budgets can't come anywhere near the extra expenditures for the sailing systems. As these systems trickle down to smaller race boats in the 40-ft range, with expensive fully-custom electric winch packages permitted under the IRC rule — where the original intent was to allow cruising boats to race in a club-level setting — we think it's a totally pointless way to spend a ton of extra money for something that doesn't add jack in the way of performance.
"In the case of the Cup, allowing the powered sailing systems is downright stupid. With such a sordid backstory that's attracted fairly wide-spread mainstream media attention, only two high-profile players, two of the most advanced inshore boats ever built, and just three races, this America's Cup really has the potential to captivate a much wider audience — including the ISAF Member National Authorities who voted the Tornado off the Olympics' island (but that's another story). We instead think it will look like a cop-out if folks at home see exhaust emanating from the back of one these machines; the least they could do is use 'cherry bombs' for mufflers and rev the engines as the boats accelerate for a little extra sound effect!
On second thought, it might look really funny to see them roll across the Strait of Hormuz onto Iranian shores because the engine's gone out and they can't tack. Imagine the conversation onboard:
"Skipper: 'Stand by to tack.'
"Engineer: 'Sorry, no can do. Need a half-hour to bleed this puppy — you heeled 'er over too far.'"
LET'S MAKE THIS INTERESTING
Who cares about the America's Cup? I might, if the rules were different. I would start with the following six:
1) Crew limited to six of the same nationality as the challenging or defending yacht club. One foreign coach would be permitted — as long as he/she never sailed on a vessel with any of the named crew
2) The mast height would be limited to 120% of overall length.
3) No engines or energy storage of any kind would be allowed.
4) Boats would be limited to four sails, and all sails must be carried during all races. No repair or substitution to the vessel or its equipment would be allowed once the race series starts.
5) Each boat — and all of its plans, documentation and equipment — must be auctioned off immediately after the final America's Cup race series. Only contestants are allowed to bid, and the bidding would start at $2 million. Anything bid over that amount to go toward the expenses of running the next race series. Resale prohibited for four years.
6) Any dispute about these rules will be decided by the event organizers, made up of one person from each contesting club. Sailors only, no lawyers.
Newick Nautical Design, Inc.
Readers — Dick Newick has been one of the most innovative trimaran designers since 1960, having drawn more than 130 designs, with more than 100 having been built. Four of his designs raced in the OSTAR between '68 and '84, and two of them won their class.
AND WE NEED AN ANCHOR SWIVEL . . . WHY?
Maybe I’m dense, but I don’t see why an anchor swivel is necessary. The chain/rode can easily twist at all times. In fact, it seems to me that a swivel under load will likely not twist as desired. So why does anyone want a swivel?
Vent Arriere, Catalina 36
Tom — A swivel can be helpful in preventing the anchor rode from getting twisted. If a rode gets twisted badly enough. it will be too knotted up to fit through the gypsy and into the chain locker. What's worse is if it gets knotted up in the chain locker and it won't run out freely. Undoing that mess can be very hard work.
SWIVELS ARE SO MISUNDERSTOOD
Thank you for publishing my letter in the August issue of Latitude regarding the proper way to attach anchor swivels, which I hope your readers found helpful. I think that there is often a misunderstanding of the swivel's purpose in an anchoring system, based on the way that many people set up their swivels, and from your comment saying that if you need a shackle between the anchor and the swivel for a "correct installation," why waste your money on the swivel?
The purpose of a swivel is to allow twist to work its way out of the end of the chain — not to connect the chain to the anchor. A pair of interlinked shackles does a perfectly good job of connecting the chain to the anchor, and at much lower cost than a swivel. A pair of 3/8" galvanized shackles costs less than $10, while the cheapest stainless swivel in that size is more than $50.
Twist can get into the chain in different ways. With an all-chain rode, twist can get into the chain if the boat moves around its anchor over a period of time — such as happens in the reversing currents in La Paz. Twist can also get into the chain portion of a rope and chain rode. When you pull on the rode with some tension, the natural twist coming out of the rope wants to work its way down into the chain, where it can cause the chain to twist and kink. Most boats that are set up for inshore and coastal sailing use this type of set-up. Giving the twist somewhere to go by adding a swivel isn't a bad idea.
By the way, when you are making up your shackles, it's smart to put some Lanocote on the threads of the shackle pin. If you do this, the shackle will come apart easily later on, even after years of use. To keep the shackle pin from working loose at other times, the pin should be secured (moused) with seizing wire.
I commonly see anchors connected with a single undersized shackle. I suspect that the intention is to save a few bucks on a second shackle, but in order for this to work, the shackle that is being used has to be undersized so that its 'ears' will fit through the hole in the anchor. The correct method is to use two shackles, which lets you use shackles that are sized to match the chain, and also ensures that there will be a good bearing surface on all parts of the shackles. Shackles are cheap; boats are expensive. Need I say more?
The photo at left is attached for its irony. It is of a swivel that failed on August 1, the same day that you published my letter. The failure was from the swivel's being attached directly to the anchor, as described in my first letter. It was not a Kong swivel. The anchor was lost. The boat and crew were OK.
School Director & General Manager
Jim — Thanks for clueing us in. It's a little embarrassing, but we always assumed that swivels were only used when two shackles were too big to come up through the hawsepipe.
IN THE IMMORTAL WORDS OF JEAN-PAUL SARTRE, "AU REVOIR, GOPHER"
Having owned boats for many years, I have accumulated a quantity of expired flares. Not one to throw out anything, I tend to accumulate stuff for unforeseen needs. Recently my lawn has been suffering from an attack of gophers. I tried everything the stores had to offer to solve the problem, but nothing worked. The damn gophers just laughed at me — and bred like mad to boot. But then a light went on over my head — try setting off the expired flares in the gopher holes.
There was only one slight problem. After I put a flare in a hole and covered it with dirt, I went into the house. Moments later a frantic woman knocked on my door to warn me that smoke was coming out of my lawn.
Alexander, Westsail 32
ARE THERE GOPHERS IN HAWAII?
As a member of the Board of Directors of HOST, the Hawaii Ocean Safety Team, I represent yacht clubs. We have formed a committee to investigate the safe disposition of flares that have expired.
Due to Latitude's coverage of yachting matters, I would appreciate it if your readers could pass along any recommendations about the proper disposal of flares. I can be reached by email.
Staff Commodore, Hawaii YC
Bob — Know anybody with a gopher problem? More seriously, you could have competitors set them off while crossing the finish line of your local races, just like the French do when finishing around the world races. Really more seriously now, we suggest that you try to donate them to the Coast Guard Auxiliary or other marine safety programs for training purposes. Or budget cruisers heading off to the South Pacific who might appreciate the spares. If none of the above appeal to you, you'll probably have to pay to have them disposed of at a certified hazardous waste disposal site.
NEVER THAT LEVEL OF VIOLENCE IN MEXICO
You asked for feedback on the relative safety of cruisers in the United States versus Mexico. We've had a boat in Mexico from '95 through '02, and again from '07 to the present, spending time both in the Sea of Cortez and on the mainland. Yet the only time our boat has ever been boarded was at 2 a.m. while tied to the wharf at Monterey, on our way south to the start of the '01 Ha-Ha. Nothing was taken.
In another example of the relative safety of the countries, the staff of a boatyard in Richmond where we had hauled out wasn't allowed to leave at the close of the business day because of roadblocks associated with shootings in the area. Within a couple of hours, eight people were shot and two died. That same night two people were shot dead in Oakland, and another shot and killed in San Jose. We've been to a lot of anchorages and towns in Mexico, both on the coast and inland, and never had that level of violence in the near vicinity.
About three times a year we make a round trip drive from Northern California to Puerto Escondido, Baja, where we leave our boat when we're not aboard. We also occasionally make the drive from Puerto Escondido to La Paz. We've never had a problem of any sort during those trips. If it's just luck, we hope it holds out.
We noticed in 'Lectronic that you're thinking of leaving Profligate in the Sea through June next year because the weather in Southern California is so awful in that month. If so, how about putting Loreto Fest, to be held April 29-May 2, on your schedule? It seems that it would be comfortably after your editorial deadline, and there's also good wi-fi at the Portobello Restaurant in the Singlar complex. Since we don't believe that you've ever had any editorial staff at the event, we think you might have the wrong impression about it, for you usually describe it as a "gathering for cruisers, musicians, and RVers." RVers? Where did that come from? There are definitely some land folks involved, but that's certainly true for all the Mexico cruising get-togethers — except for your revived Sea of Cortez Sailing Week.
All in all, more cruisers attend Loreto Fest than any other similar event. There were over 120 boats there this year, with 84 moored/docked at Singlar facilities. We had a great time and raised a bunch of money for local charities — and especially for a program that enables kids to keep going to school after the mandatory six years. I bet they could even get a race on the schedule. Anyway, please give it some thought, because it's a fun time, a great cause, and could always use the great publicity you are able to generate with your magazine and website.
Air Ops spent all of last year in the Sea, and the winter proved to be fairly mild. There are lots of great anchorages in the Sea, and it definitely is not crowded until April and May. We're home in Sacramento for the summer, but do have a sailing adventure on the calendar — three weeks sailing with friends on their Amel Santorini along the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. Then we're back to Air Ops in early October for the fall season in the Sea.
Dave & Merry Wallace
Air Ops, Amel Maramu
Sacramento/Puerto Escondido, BCS, Mexico
Dave and Merry — Given the fact that it was so gray, damp and gloomy in San Diego this year, there's an excellent chance that we will be attending Loreto Fest next year with Profligate. After all, Profligaters love warm and blue, and that's what it is down there at that time of year.
But 120 boats at Loreto Fest this year? We had absolutely no idea the event had become so popular. If we attend next year, we'll obviously have a much better understanding of the event.
NOTHING LIKE THIS EVER HAPPENED IN MEXICO
I walked out into the parking lot at Embarcadero Cove Central Basin in Oakland to find that my Honda Civic had been stolen. I called 911, and they said they'd send a "team" over right away. The team turned out to be the local SWAT team, and they arrived with their AK-47s in the horizontal 'combat ready' configuration, ready to fire. I learned that they have been concerned about fires in the marina, plus the extremely dangerous guy who was running a meth lab on his boat a few slips away.
Several weeks went by, and I settled with the insurance company, passing the title along to them. Then, because my stolen car had been abandoned on a street in Oakland, the parking tickets started. The city threatened to put a lien on my house for non-payment. Getting them to understand that the car was no longer mine required several more trips to the Oakland Police Headquarters.
Needless to say, we left that marina as quickly as possible, and have found Alameda to be more civilized than Oakland.
Impetuous, Cal 34
Mike — We lived in various parts of Oakland in our youth, from the flatlands to the hills, so it always disappoints us to hear how things have deteriorated there. Unfortunately, incidents such as the one you experienced don't surprise us. While we were giving the Ha-Ha presentation at this year's Strictly Sail Boat Show, someone smashed the passenger side window of our car and rifled through the glove compartment and center console. We're not sure what they were looking for, but they didn't take any of the few things of value. Next time we'll pay the fee to park in the lot with a security guard, and hopefully save our $150 insurance deductible.
GORE WASN'T THE ONLY NOBEL LAUREATE IN '07
While I have the highest regard for the environmental — and other — work of former Vice President Al Gore, who will be the speaker at the Leukemia Cup Regatta VIP dinner on September 19, I, and undoubtedly some other Latitude readers, were recipients of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with him. You see, the award stated that the prize was "to be shared, in two equal parts, between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr., for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change".
As the IPCC Chairman, Rejandra Pachauri said at the time, "You are all now Nobel Laureates." There are many Bay Area scientists and engineers who, among a couple thousand worldwide, have contributed over the 20 or so years since the IPCC was constituted under the UN. No doubt many of us are also sailors.
Achates, Newport 30
Bob — Congratulations to all of you.
KELLY IS HYSTERICAL AND JUST PLAIN WRONG
Local 342 Shop Steward Dave Kelly's July issue letter concerning the possibility that bridges on the Estuary might have to be closed because of budget problems was so full of errors it's hard to believe he has a clue about what people who operate bridges do — and the law concerning such bridges. Kelly’s statement that the bridges might have been closed permanently was not true. For even if all funding for bridge operations in the state were somehow taken away, the bridges would have to be left in the up position because maritime traffic has priority over land traffic. If the county placed the bridges in the down position without an operator, it would be subject to fines of $25,000 per day. It should be noted that the cities of Alameda and Oakland pay nothing for the operation of these bridges, and yet reap the benefit of their existence.
The other hyperbole of Kelly’s letter is the statement that the Public Works Department would be dissolved if the budget were cut. There will be layoffs, but not to the extent hysterically claimed by Kelly.
The reason I know that Kelly is so wrong is the fact I am the Project Inspector for Seismic Retrofit for Park and High Street Bridges for Alameda County Public Works. But I do know why he's upset. He doesn't care about protecting public works jobs or serving the sailors or businesses within the estuary, but rather is worried about the loss of union dues. That may sound harsh, but I have worked for Alameda County for 28+ years, and I know how that game is played by the union.
And Latitude's suggestion that lots of "old geezers" could operate the bridges is not true either. The job takes training and knowledge. You would not want an inexperienced person operating a bridge in which each leaf weighs over six million lbs.
Public Works Inspector III
Skip — We love to learn new stuff, and to be proven wrong, so we're ready, able and willing to meet you at any bridge at any time to be shown why it's so difficult to open and close a bridge that two retired geezers couldn't do it. After all, it's not as if the six-million-lb bridge leaves have to be lifted by hand. Or is this another BART-like deal, where it supposedly takes five weeks of training for a train operator to learn how to doze off while a computer does all the work for him/her?
PRACTICE 'FILLET AND RELEASE'
We're getting ready to take off for Mexico in a few months, and have started researching the rules for fishing in Mexico. We know that we'll need a license to fish anywhere in Mexican waters, but we also noticed the following statement in the rules:
"Fish caught under a sportfishing license may not be filleted aboard the vessel from which it was caught."
Does this mean that we can't catch fish destined for eating while we are cruising? That wouldn't make any sense, since we've read so many stories about cruisers catching and eating fish in Mexico. It's confusing because I've found this rule cited on almost every website that discusses fishing licenses in Mexico.
Or is this one of those rules that everybody ignores because it's only applied to tourists in Cabo?
Carolynn & Tom Boehmler
Sunny Side Up,
Mayflower Mercury 48
Carolynn and Tom — According to Miguel Portoni at CONAPESCA, the agency that regulates fishing in Mexico, the purpose of the regulation is to allow officials to count your catch so they can make sure you haven't gone over your daily limit. He said that if you're planning to eat the fish right away, you are allowed to fillet it. He also said that, while the regulation is not strictly enforced, it wouldn't hurt to leave larger fish whole, cutting off just what you'll be using when you start to prepare a meal. If space in your refrigerator or freezer is limited, you can also leave a 1-inch by 1-inch square of skin on each portion of meat for identification purposes.
But if you're sportfishing, with the goal to catch your limit, Portoni says the fish need to be left whole. Gutting and cleaning the fish is allowed, but don't fillet or steak them until you're ready for dinner.
Generally speaking, the rules Mexico has for cruisers are reasonable and make sense, so don't be too concerned about things like that.
"AS A FORMER PROSECUTOR, I SAY GOOD JOB!"
I'm a retired state and federal criminal prosecutor, and my wife Sue and I are currently on our catamaran Angel Louise, which is anchored off Porlamar, Isla de Margarita, Venezuela. We've been following all of Latitude's coverage of the Bismarck Dinius case, which I first learned about in Latitude. I can only say thank you for your good work, as I'm interested in the case both out of professional curiosity and due to our being full-time liveaboards. By the way, both my wife and I hold active Coast Guard licenses.
Back in 1971, I was the youngest chief prosecutor in the nation, having been sworn in as the Jefferson County (Iowa) Attorney General just an hour after graduating from law school. During my 11 years in that office — where I had two highly publicized trials — and from '91 to '07, when I served as an Assistant United States Attorney, I have never seen coverage of a case that equals the professional job that Latitude has been doing.
I'm personally surprised no charges were ever filed against Russell Perdock, the operator of the powerboat that slammed into the sailboat, resulting in the death of Lynn Thornton. Based on personal experience, I know how easy it can be for a prosecutor to err by putting focus on only one aspect of the case, blinding him or her to the rest of it.
Sue and I figured we wouldn't be able to follow much of the proceedings after leaving Florida in December of '08, but have been pleasantly surprised that this trial has been followed by the national media. It's an important case. I will await the developments of the trial as you report them. In the mean time, good job!
Ed & Sue Kelly
Happily anchored off Isla de Margarita, Venezuela
Ed and Sue — We hope you've got your PFDs strapped on tight because we think you're in danger of going overboard with your praise. But thank you.
And as we hope everyone knows by now, both 'Lectronic and Latitude 38 (in magazine form, complete with all the ads) are available free from our website everywhere in the world. Well, maybe not in Iran, North Korea, Cuba or China.
PRIVATIZATION IS THE WAY TO GO
I’ve been so busy sailing in Mexico and travelling around that I just got a chance to read the July issue. But I can't help commenting on the ridiculous posturing by state legislators who threatened to cut state parks and other popular programs — specifically the ones that are most visible to the public and whose loss would inconvenience taxpayers the most — in order to balance the budget.
Had Angel Island and other facilities been closed, it would have been further proof that our state officials and staff are beyond incompetent, and that, rather than working to meet taxpayer needs and requirements, they were solely focused on their personal agendas. If the state were to get out of Angel Island, and its operation and management were to be leased to a private operator that understood the basic concepts of responsibility and customer service, the state would not only save money, it would gain revenue from the lease. Furthermore, some if not all of the terminated state workers might be rehired to continue their work.
In a previous life, I was a regional manager for a national marina management company. In that capacity, I helped transform three failing municipal marinas in the Bay Area into thriving privately-operated municipal marinas. And I have seen numerous other examples of privatization and public/private joint ventures work to the benefit of all concerned. Rates do typically increase for the limited number of taxpayers who actually use the facilities, but with market forces in place, the increases usually aren't as great as feared. Plus, the city and/or state no longer has a losing operation that needs to be supported by taxpayer dollars. Unlike the government, private operators understand the importance of customer service, and typically improve service and maintenance in order to increase customer satisfaction, usage and occupancy.
Despite the numerous successes, there are always those so-called public-minded officials who argue that privatization allows "greedy" (i.e. successful) private companies and individuals to profit from the use of public lands at the expense of "the people." What they intentionally fail to define in their argument is that "the people" they are referring to and protecting the interests of are, in fact, only themselves, and the only potential expense borne will be theirs.
With certain well thought-out parameters and guidelines in place to ensure that the public interests — meaning the interests of the real people — are first and foremost, there is really no effective argument against privatizing nearly all of the parks and recreation activities of state and local governments. Except, perhaps, for the argument that most of those so-called public officials will have to look for a new job where the employers are more discerning.
Location, Catalina 470
San Francisco/Newport Beach/Mazatlan
J. — We agree that the legislators tried to scare taxpayers with proposals that would cut the most visible services and cause taxpayers the greatest inconvenience. They sure weren't talking about trimming the up to $498,000 a year some government employees collect as pensions, were they?
For philosophical and practical reasons, we've long believed that the smaller the government, the more effective and less corrupt it will be. That's why we're strongly in favor of privatizing just about all public services — including many of the functions currently handled by law enforcement and the judiciary. It's worth noting that dysfunctional New Orleans privatized its transit system, and while keeping most of the same drivers at the same pay rates, managed to cut costs by 30%. Anyone not in favor of privatizing BART? It's also worth noting that socialist Sweden privatized its postal system with success, and even Mayor Daley's Chicago, which is about as union as you can get, now saves money by having private companies do what more expensive city workers used to do.
The basic law of all customer satisfaction — as our president has been eager to point out when it comes to health care — is that when companies and non-profits have to compete, the customer wins. He knows you get the worst service and the smallest bang from your buck from monopolies. Ironically, the president seems blind to the fact that the U.S. government is the world's biggest monopoly, and he's been growing it at the fastest pace in history. No wonder the natives are restless.
If any mariners question how monumentally incompetent government can be, they only need review the 30-year history of the state of Hawaii's magnificently bungled management of the 700-berth Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu. It was as if they had the only snow cone stand in hell, but after decades still couldn't figure out how to make a decent snow cone, and despite having a never-ending line of eager customers, still managed to lose massive amounts of money.
For younger readers who are going to have to spend a lifetime paying for the wretched excesses of government today, the critical decision you're going to have to make is whether you're going to demand that the government work for the taxpayers, or whether you'll continue to allow it to exist to serve the two political parties and government workers. It obviously should be the former, but at this point it's clearly the latter. Our heart goes out to you younger folks, as you're going to have to either spend decades in involuntary servitude while you try to change the course of the monstrous ship of state, or stage a messy revolution.
THE LATITUDE 38 THUMBNAIL CRUISING GUIDE
We're about to send in our Ha-Ha entry, but are wondering if you can give us some tips on where to stop while making our way down to San Diego in September and October. We're not ultra-budget cruisers, but we are thrifty, and are looking to ease our way into the cruising life.
Buz & Eunice Johnson
Confacimus Navegemus, Ericson 35
Buz and Eunice — Here's our thumbnail report on cruising in Southern California:
Morro Bay — The folks at the Morro Bay YC couldn't be more accommodating, and Morro Bay itself is like taking a trip back in time. But the harbor entrance can be dangerous when a large swell is running, so be careful.
Cojo Anchorage — Immediately upon passing Pt. Conception, round up to port, drop the hook, and see how beautiful California was 1,000 years ago. There are a number of great places to surf in the area, and there won't be any crowds. This is an ideal spot to rest for a couple of days after coming down the Central coast, but it's also great for walking along the beach and soaking up the beauty of a rare, unpopulated part of the Southern California coast.
San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands — There are no services or facilities at any of these, but the hiking and exploring are great. While the winds tend to be calmer in September and October than the rest of the year, it can still blow hard at San Miguel, so be prepared. Santa Cruz is one of the best places to segue into the cruising life, and there is surf, too.
Santa Barbara — This truly beautiful city is so clean, tranquil and pleasant that we sometimes find it a little disturbing. You can either get a slip inside the harbor or anchor out for free on either side of the wharf. It can be rolly. If you're a walker, jogger or cyclist, this place is paradise, with great waterfront paths on either side of the harbor. The Enterprise Fish Company on lower State Street, which is within easy walking distance of the harbor, has a 5-8 p.m. happy hour that features great prices on appetizers and drinks. Walk a little farther up State Street and you'll find countless unique — but not necessarily inexpensive — restaurants of every type.
If it's time for a day or two of vacation from your boat, Santa Barbara is the place, as Enterprise Rent-a-Car will pick you up and drop you off, and you can take great short and medium-length trips to places like the summit of Gibraltar Road, Red Rock, the Santa Ynez wine country, and for back country lovers, the bear country of Zaca Station and Figueroa Mountain. Who knew it could be so wild so close to the coast? Better yet, if you rent a motorcycle you can take our favorite ride: Up Sycamore Canyon, through Montecito via the Upper Village, along the back roads past Lake Casitas to Ojai, at which point it really starts to get good. You make the long climb up the mountains of Los Padres National Forest on Highway 33 to the barely marked Lockwood Valley Road, then crisscross the nearly washed out road on your way through rugged high desert and thick pine forests to Fort Tejon on the Highway 5 Grapevine. It's all about twisty two-lane roads through nearly unspoiled nature — but it's also about 200 miles round-trip — so your sore ass will be happy to get back on your boat.
Ventura and Oxnard — While neither of these harbors or regions is particularly scenic, it's almost certain that you'll be able to find a guest slip. When the surf is up, the bodysurfing and boogie boarding can be great at Ventura. But use caution when entering the harbors if there is a big swell running.
Marina del Rey — This isn't the most soulful of marinas, but hey, it's L.A., and it's easy to get a slip during the fall. The jogging and biking trails along the beach go on for miles in both directions from Marina del Rey. MDR is also a great base for rotating crew, as LAX is right next door. It's also the base for 'doing' L.A. If you haven't caught a performance at the Hollywood Bowl or Greek Theatre, or visited historic downtown L.A., you should consider it.
Long Beach — You'll probably be able to find a guest slip at the Downtown and Alamitos Bay Marinas, but you can also anchor out behind one of the oil islands. Alamitos Bay is more convenient than the Downtown Marina for shopping and marine supplies, but neither offers many attractions for transients. Long Beach gets more wind than almost any coastal town in Southern California.
Catalina — Many Catalina lovers say September is the best month of the year and October is the second best. That's because the weather is great, the water is about as warm as it gets, and the crowds are down. Unless you want to take a mooring — which is a little dear for many cruiser budgets — count on having to often anchor in relatively deep water. Avalon is a dated tourist town, but it's fun for a day or two, and the local supermarket is reasonably well stocked with fresh fruits and veggies. Two Harbors, on the other hand, is ultra basic, and the better for it. BBQ ashore at night and you'll quickly make lots of sailing friends. On Saturday afternoons in the fall, the two bars at Two Harbors are inundated with SC football fans. If they get too obnoxious — as is their wont — just remind them what 42-point underdogs Stanford did to their national championship dreams two years ago.
Newport Beach — Not only does Newport have all the marine services and supplies a cruiser might need, it's close to John Wayne Airport. But best of all, you can anchor for five nights free without a permit, or you can pay $5 a night for a mooring for up to two weeks. What a deal! The downsides are boats supposedly need to be occupied for all but a couple of hours a day while in the anchorage, and you have to show up at the Sheriff's Office every five days to pay for your mooring. If there is a hurricane in Mexico, make sure you stop by The Wedge to watch the death-defying bodysurfers. Well, mostly death-defying, as earlier this summer one of them was tragically killed after being thrown into the breakwater. Newport is a great place to walk and ride a bike, and you sure don't want to miss a ride on the Balboa Ferry.
Dana Point — You can anchor for free inside and outside the breakwater, or you can get a guest slip. There is surfing at nearby Doheny, but overall Dana Point is one of the more plastic harbors along the California coast.
Oceanside — This is a small harbor where you can get a guest slip. It's not plastic, but there aren't a lot of attractions for visitors either.
San Diego — If you take the Misson Bay turnoff, you can anchor free for 72 hours at Mariners' Basin. The Police Dock is the prime budget berthing option in San Diego Bay, but they don't take reservations and it's always packed in the fall. San Diego's A-8 anchorage offers up to three months of free anchoring for out-of-county boats, but you have to get a permit first from the Harbor Police, and it gets crowded just before the Ha-Ha. If you do anchor there, you land your dinghy about halfway between the downtown area and the Shelter Island marine services. It's a long walk to either place, so a bike really helps. West Marine runs a free shuttle between their stores and most marinas and anchorages just prior to the Ha-Ha. In years past it was difficult to get a berth in San Diego, but not any more. We're not saying that slips are cheap, just that they should be available. San Diego has a number of interesting things to see and do, but we know you'll be too busy with last minute boat projects to enjoy them. Chula Vista Marina, farther down the bay, also usually has slips.
A lot of people mock sailing in Southern California, and there are times and areas where it's pretty pedestrian compared to San Francisco Bay. However, there is fine sailing to be had between Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz Island, between Santa Barbara or Oxnard and Marina del Rey, and between Catalina and the mainland. Not every day, mind you, but quite often. The spinnaker run from Santa Barbara to either Marina del Rey or Catalina is a perfect tune-up for the Ha-Ha itself.
STILL LIVIN' LA VIDA LOCA AT 66
As skipper of the '79 Newport 30 Desert Wind — winner of the 'Spirit of the Ha-Ha' award in the '08 Ha-Ha — I must respond to some of the letters that Latitude receives. and manfully publishes, that tend to be derogatory about what you do or don’t do.
Given the planning and preparation that the Poobah and Assistant Poobah have to put into each Ha-Ha, and all the data and boats they manage during the event, I can't imagine how anyone could be critical. I thought you made a superb effort, and that it resulted in most, if not all, of the participants' having a great time.
By the way, I'm currently cruising my old boat from Vancouver to Alaska, having put 1,500 miles under the keel with another 500 to go. While I am singlehanding, there are two other boats from New Mexico that are making the same trip. We've seen some amazing sights: calving glaciers in Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm, pods of orcas and “bubble netting” humpback whales, salmon fighting their way upstream to ancient spawning grounds and black and brown bears (up close) in Anan Bear State Park feeding on some of those salmon while bald eagles soar and do their own brand of fishing.
In part, I was compelled to attempt this trip due to articles in Latitude, and your careful but easygoing attitude toward cruising and the general enjoyment of life. Many thanks for the encouragement!
Desert Wind, Newport 30
Elephant Butte, NM / Currently in Ketchikan, AK
Stan — Maybe we're just insensitive, but we can't remember any complaints about the last couple of Ha-Ha's. Nonetheless, we encourage 'suggestions' as they help us revisit aspects of the Ha-Ha to see if we might be able to improve them.
But overall, we think the success of the Ha-Ha speaks for itself. And there is nothing that makes us happier than to see the number of people who return to do their second, third or fourth Ha-Ha.
As for inspirations, you're the man, Stan. At 66 years of age, you've taken a relatively small and inexpesive boat, and are living life to the hilt. If it weren't for people like you, we wouldn't be doing this.
WHAT'S GOOD FOR THE EAGLE SCOUT . . .
There has been some discussion about who should pay for the hundreds of thousands of dollars of expenses incurred by the Coast Guard when they rescued a Frenchman who called for help just 150 miles into his third failed attempt to row across the Atlantic.
I'm not exactly sure where I stand on the controversy, but I note that the state of New Hampshire is going after 18-year-old Eagle Scout Scott Mason to recover some or all the of the $25,000 they spent rescuing him from Mt. Washington. The search had to be launched after Mason had gone off the marked trails and become incapacitated as a result of spraining his ankle. It was nine years ago that New Hampshire passed a law that enables them to go after people who need to be rescued.
If we're asking U.S. Eagle Scouts to help defray the costs of their rescues, shouldn't we be doing the same for French oarsmen?
STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES
Andy Deering’s June issue letter — in which he said that he eschews safety gear such as EPIRBs and liferafts — was cynical and witless. Moreover, it is double dumb. I realize that an indictment of this sort requires some defense — although not a lot, as Deering’s missive speaks for itself.
As a long distance ocean racer who is over 60 years of age, I wish to note that there is a distinction between being a safety gear "freak," and being appropriately mindful of the need for such gear. Deering suggests no liferaft! No means of long distance emergency communication! That, Mr. Deering, is a reckless disregard for safety and is double dumb.
For Deering to have the temerity to attack those of us who are safety-gear-conscious, and to further pin this "malady" on those of us who are closer to the twilight than the dawn of our careers, is cynical in the extreme. While we don’t dwell on the fact, what we do is dangerous.
As a skipper, I am not responsible only for my own life, but for the lives and safety of my crew. I owe taking safety seriously to them and to our loved ones. I, for one, am grateful that Deering is not in the TransPac YC race committee.
Granted, safety gear can be taken too far. On that account, my opening sentence was not quite accurate. Mr. Deering thinks he‘s a wit. I think he’s half right.
Criminal Mischief, R/P 45
Readers — Megeath took first place in class in the recently completed TransPac.
I was hoping for the best for Mexico's $2 billion 'Nautical Stairway' program, instigated by former President Vicente Fox in '01, which called for building a 'stairway' of marinas and tourist sites along the Pacific Coast of Baja, both sides of the Sea of Cortez, and as far south on the mainland as San Blas. The idea was that if West Coast mariners never had to travel more than 120 miles to their next stop — in theory, one day's travel by boat — it would bring much more nautical tourism to Baja's 2,000 miles of coastline as well as another 1,000 miles of the mainland coast. The plan called for 22 full-service marinas, five of which already existed, seven that existed but needed to be rebuilt, and 10 that would be built new. It also called for construction of a 70-mile 'land bridge' across the Baja Peninsula so yachts up to 55 feet could be trucked across Baja without having to take their masts down.
Alas, the Mexican government has now decided that the project can't be salvaged. It's too bad, for as with many of the Vicente Fox initiatives, it had promise. But Mexico being the Mexico that it is, it was impossible for things to not go wrong with something so great. The problems that caused the demise were overcharging, huge areas left undeveloped, expensive equipment sitting idle, and a hands-off management in Mexico City that thought no price was too high for gringos.
The Nautical Stairway was one of the best ideas for cruisers in a long time, so it's too bad that it didn't turn out.
Ann Marie, Morgan 28
Marina del Rey
Jim — We're sorry to have to disagree with you so completely, but the grandiose Nautical Stairway failed because it was a dumb idea, and is just another example of the poor record central governments have in trying to anticipate and dictate consumer demand. From day one, we characterized the Nautical Stairway plan as "insane," long before the likes of the Packard Foundation did a big study and came to the same conclusion. Why? First, because mariners were not clamoring for the facilities and services being proposed. Indeed, most cruisers vehemently objected to the concept of 'resorting up' Baja, saying it would ruin the very reason they wanted to go there in the first place. Second, the project was based on the preposterous assumption that, if built, 76,000 American boats would cruise down to Mexico each winter to make use of the facilities. Right. Every marina in California would empty each winter because everyone would be taking the 'stairway' to Mexico. Third, because neither private investors nor the government ever seemed to appreciate the inherent problem with Baja north of La Paz, which is that it's too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. There are some great months in the spring and fall, but it's hard to sustain developments on two such short periods in a year. As foolish as the Nautical Stairway project was, it couldn't be stopped because the government officials driving it had nothing to lose.
We also disagree with you when you say that what was built didn't work for cruisers. That's only half true. In some places, such as Puerto Escondido, where a large cruising fleet was driven out by wildly overpriced moorings that never had an occupancy rate over two or three percent, it was indeed a disaster. In other places, such as the Singlar facility in Mazatlan and Guaymas, cruisers seem to be very happy with the facilities. And in other places where the facilites are being only lightly used, what skin is it off cruisers' butts? Furthermore, the Singlar-branded facilities were not always overpriced. In La Paz, for example, Singlar's Fidepaz Marina, while not the best marina in La Paz, is at least the most affordable. No, the people who really got screwed are the Mexican taxpayers, who will have gotten almost nothing in return for their government's having foolishly invested nearly $1.5 billion dollars of their money.
To be fair, FONATUR, Mexico's tourist development agency which was behind the Nautical Stairway project, has had some good to excellent success with resort development in places such as Los Cabos, Ixtapa and Cancun. But when it came to nautical tourism, they had no idea what they were dealing with.
THAT PIC KEEPS LATITUDE FROM BECOMING BLAND
I had previously seen the graphic photo of the man impaled on a post that you used in the story regarding the Bismarck Dinus trial. It's a disturbing photo, but I understand your attempt to shed light on the danger high boat speeds bring to safety.
By the way, the photo compelled me to visit Snopes.com. According to that rumor tracking site, the victim had been in a truck accident, and the post had entered the cab and impaled him. When I first saw the photo, I wondered if he survived. Snopes says that he did initially, but died of an infection three days later after emergency surgery.
I agree with your withdrawing the photo, but I encourage you to walk the edge of editorial license to avoid a bland publication.
Cepheus Dream, Catalina 36
Steve — According to the copy that came with the photo from Birdman Livingston of the Wylie 38 Punk Dolphin in Pt. Richmond, this is the story: "This is an actual emergency room photo of a fisherman who lost control of his high speed bass boat in West Virginia. The wardens believe that he was traveling at a speed of approximately 75 mph at the time of the accident, and had been unable to negotiate a curve in the narrow waterway. Unfortunately for him, upon striking the shoreline, he was ejected from the boat and landed on an old fence post. The good news is after about six months, the man made a full recovery from a shattered hip, broken leg, several broken ribs, internal injuries and soft tissue damage. The doctors credited his recovery to the fact that the post lodged itself so tightly that there was little or no blood loss."
We think the Snopes' explanation of the photo sounds highly unlikely. After all, it's difficult for us to believe such a thick post could have passed through the front of a truck, without being badly blunted, and have still had the force to penetrate all the way through the large man's torso.
AN OPINION FROM THE TRAUMA ROOM
I am sorry you took so much flak for the picture of the impaled gentleman. I thought it very clearly drove home the point of water safety. I'm a trauma nurse, however, so I realize that fact may have skewed my opinion. People need to realize that the seemingly impossible can and does happen through carelessness.
Clear Lake, TX
Readers — Latitude also received a call from Michael Cehand, a former paramedic. He "totally supported" our running the photo too.
"THE ONLY TIME I'VE DISAGREED WITH YOU"
One of the things I admire most about Latitude is that once in a while you decide you were wrong, and admit it. So it was with the photo of the impaled man. I think your running the photo was almost the only time I have disagreed with you on anything — and I have been a fan since the beginning when I was boating out of Berkeley. Being in Alaska, I miss the magazine, but now that it’s on the web, I’m a pretty happy guy.
Arctic Traveller, Defever 49
POOR TASTE AND A LACK OF EDUCATION
That was a bad picture. I would not send it to anyone. Accentuate the positive and never dwell on man’s suffering. It shows poor taste and a lack of education. You can do better.
Don — If you have a complaint with our education, we suggest you take it up with the dean at U.C. Berkeley.
PEOPLE NEED TO UNDERSTAND CAUSE AND EFFECT
I disagree with your decision to pull the photo. People need to see the possible outcomes of foolish behavior so they can think about their own actions. A picture being worth a thousand words, you achieved more by showing it than you could have done by describing it. It's a pity that we are now so politically correct that we must never be upset by real life. I would be interested in knowing what percentage of your total readership was upset by the picture. Perhaps this was another instance where a vociferous minority adversely affected the lives of the rest of us.
Richard — We've received more letters saying that we should not have pulled it than letters saying we should have pulled it. We don't think those who objected to the photo were being "vociferous" in a ranting sense, but they were genuinely upset.
DARWINISM AT WORK
I kind of like the impaled man photo. Not because the image is clearly Darwinism at work, but more because I share your rage at the obtuse reasoning of Lake County officials in the Bismarck Dinius case. I can’t and don’t understand why State Attorney General Jerry Brown hasn't become involved — except that our government means to send some sort of message damning the lifestyle of just about every sailor. As much as I can see the health merits of reduced alcohol consumption, there remains in my mind no earthly reason anyone should be allowed to use his boat as a weapon simply because he is a cop — who I suspect was probably drunk himself.
Readers — For the record, a few months ago Wilhite came as close as you can to dying on a boat during rough conditions outside the Gate. Also for the record, having read most of the case information, as well as between the lines, we're not entirely sure Deputy Perdock was drunk when he slammed his boat into Beats Workin' II. We think he is guilty of negligence in the death of Lynn Thornton, but probably not as a result of being drunk.
NEXT TIME, WE PROMISE
If you want to run gruesome photos in the future, you could post them separately, then write a warning and a link to the photo. That way no one would be involuntarily subjected to something they really don’t want to see.
Jeff — In retrospect, that's exactly what we should have done.
TOO MANY DRUNKEN FOOLS ON LAKES
Sorry to hear that so many people complained about the photo of the impaled speeder. Although I am a sailor who usually moves at less than 10 knots, the photo was a perfect reminder of how quickly seemingly 'cool' maneuvers can end in a not-so-cool way.
It’s also a key reason that I started my kids sailing in the Pacific rather than our local lakes — the latter are filled with drunken fools who don’t understand that they are driving a weapon.
Thank you for your tenacious coverage of Bismarck Dinius’ plight. I grew up waterskiing on Clear Lake, which makes the story that much closer to home. It’s nice to see that national outlets such as Boat/US and others have picked up on it too. A tremendous thanks to Latitude for this and so many other great articles about the world of sailing.
Smart Money, Catalina 400
SOMETIMES RIGHTS CAN BE WRONG
On July 19, while leaving the St. Francis YC harbor after the Simpson Regatta, we literally had a run-in with a 48-ft boat. We were sailing downwind under main only on starboard tack. The much bigger boat was behind us, on port tack, with her huge main boomed out across most of the channel. She was going considerably faster than we were and overtaking us. This might not have been a problem but, at the time, the tug Brandy Bar and her barge were anchored in the channel across from the large sandbar near the harbor entrance, making the channel entrance less than 30 feet wide. As we approached this bottleneck, it became clear we were going to have a problem.
"Can't your boat go any faster?" shouted the skipper of the much larger overtaking boat. We yelled back that we were under sail only, that we were the stand-on vessel, and that as the overtaking vessel it was his responsibility to avoid us.
Well, he didn't. We had to haul in our main to try to prevent his unusually long boom from hitting our main, risking a serious round-up into the tug boat in the process. Despite this, his boom hit our mainsail as he sailed by, and we narrowly missed hitting Brandy Bar.
The skipper's sarcastic response to our repeated calls that he was breaking several rules was, "I'm glad you guys know the rules." He didn't even check to see if he'd caused any damage.
Thankfully, no one on our boat was hurt, and he didn’t cause any damage. But that skipper clearly needs a refresher in the Rules of the Road, specifically Rule 6a (safe speed in proximity of navigational hazards), Rule 8 (action to avoid collision), Rule 12a (starboard/port, windward/leeward rights), and most prominent, Rule 13 (overtaking).
Also applicable are Rules 16 and 17: I believe we, as the stand-on vessel, fulfilled the obligations set forth in Rule 17, including (b)”When, from any cause, the vessel required to keep her course and speed finds herself so close that collision cannot be avoided by the action of the give-way vessel alone, she shall take such action as will best aid to avoid collision” — namely pulling our mainsail inboard to avoid more serious contact, while Rule 16’s “early and substantial action to keep well clear” was certainly not fulfilled by the other boat.
Will the editor please print the applicable rules so that the skipper of the other boat can review them? Such a large, fast boat being driven by a reckless skipper is a danger to others’ lives and property. Is there any recourse we have against this skipper, besides letting your readers know to keep a wary eye out for him as he comes charging down on them?
Jordan Primus, Kelly Ryan, Marnie Roach
Little Wing, J/24
Jordan, Kelly and Marnie — As you no doubt noticed, we omitted the name of the other vessel. We didn't see the incident, so it's impossible for us to make a judgment about it.
The way you tell it, you had the rules in your favor. But even if that's true, we wonder if you've considered the possibility that you could have handled the situation differently. After all, it's quite a ways from the St. Francis YC basin to the bottleneck, it's not as if either of your boats were doing 10 knots. And your J/24 is nimble as can be. Did none of you anticipate there was going to be a problem at the bottleneck? Did none of you realize that you, on the much smaller and more nimble boat, could have most easily defused the situation? We think that whipping a 180° turn into the wind long before you got to the bottleneck — not pulling in your main at the last second before contact — is what Rule 16 means by "early and substantial action." The overriding consideration, particularly in narrow fairways or in situations where the other skipper has gotten himself into a box, is not to sit on your rights no matter what, but to avoid getting into a situation where it's impossible to avoid contact. We can think of countless situations when we voluntarily gave up our rights to prevent a potentially dangerous situation from developing.
Like we say, we didn't see what happened, so we're only speaking in the most general of terms.
BLOOD ON THE FACE, BLOOD ON THE ENGINE
The bloodied face of Liz Clark wearing a headlamp didn’t jibe with a surfing accident, as you suggested in the July 24 'Lectronic. Those lights are a mainstay of boat repairs, as they allow you to see while freeing up both hands.
While cruising on our Wauquiez 45 Suzy Q, I found that a little blood-letting, along with a colorful string of curses, worked wonders in getting whatever was broken this time fixed.
Joe & Susan Altman
Suzy Q, Wauquiez 45
Joe and Susan — We thought Liz was just using the headlamp to better see the pieces of coral she needed to pull out of her cheek. But as it turned out, you're right, it was an engine room accident. "My face was bloodied as a result of an accident in Swell's engine compartment," Liz wrote to us. "I was trying to realign my engine after replacing the motor mounts. I pulled the rubber vibration boot out of the rear block, but it was impossible to push it back in. So I borrowed a car jack to try to push it down, and had to put a piece of wood between the ceiling of the engine room and the jack. By the end of the day I was tired and frustrated, and I put too much force on the jack. The space was really tight, and my head needed to be right next to the jack for leverage. The jack slipped off the wood and flew into my face. It was no fun. It would have been cooler if I'd wounded myself on a reef, but it just didn't happen that way. Anyway, I went to a friend who is a nurse, and she put a butterfly strip on it. It kept me out of the water for a week, but it's healing well."
KING RICHARD TAKES A BITE OF HUMBLE PIE
LaDonna Bubak, one of the editors at Latitude, should raise her jolly roger for her good shot over the bow. I'm referring to how she "hijacked" the publisher's editorial defense of Liz Clark asking for money. I’ve enjoyed 'tude for its sailing knowledge and editorial content for 31 years, and the publisher is spot on with his rebuttals 98% of the time. But methinks that this time a young surfer girl may have blurred his thoughts. It can happen us males in our 60s. So thank you very much, LaDonna, for what I believe was a much needed different perspective.
Doug — If we have a soft spot for Liz, it's not because she's young and attractive and we have the hots for her. No, it's because she reminds of us of our daughter, who is the same age, who has the same very fair skin, and who has a milder form of Liz's adventurous spirit.
While we understand and respect your and LaDonna's viewpoint, we're sticking with ours. What we think you don't see about Liz is that she's truly different, an emerging vagabonding poet, if you will. And god knows we need more of those and fewer lawyers. It's all the better because Liz has not just sipped from the Kool-Aid of the ultra-simple, eco-conscious, Mother Earth-loving, all-people-are-brothers outlook on life, but has chugged it.
It just so happens that we recently bumped into Holly Scott, who is the owner of the Long Beach-based Cal 40 Mahalo, a three-time vet of the Ha-Ha, and a delivery skipper. Holly mentioned that while in Hawaii preparing the SC 52 Paranoia for delivery back to California, she'd bumped into Liz. Having contributed a used Cal 40 headsail to Liz's adventure, Holly told us that Liz had sent her three black pearls as thanks, but even more importantly, included the most beautifully composed and hand-drawn thank you note.
It was at that point we mentioned that some readers — and LaDonna — thought it was in bad taste for Liz to have asked for money. It might have been the fact that Holly had just gotten off the boat at the end of the delivery from Hawaii and had just finished her first cocktail, but her eyes quickly darkened and she fairly exploded: "Fuck that! Liz is special. She's got it right here," Holly said, pounding on her heart. "I've met a lot of cruisers, and some of them are assholes. But Liz isn't. And having been in the sailing industry for many years, I've met a lot of famous women sailors, and not all of them are so nice. Liz is a ray of sunshine. I totally support what she's doing."
Also stepping in to defend Liz was Betsy Crowfoot, a longtime sailing journalist, who had been part of Holly's delivery crew to the mainland, and who had been onboard with Liz when she did her first sail in preparation of her surfing safari under sail. In a milder tone, Betsy said, "A lot of people don't know the background to Liz's story. She was working as a waitress when she happened to cross paths with Barry Schulyer of Santa Barbara at some kind of environmental fundraiser. Barry and his wife Jean have been huge supporters of women's sailing projects for years. Barry, for example, was a big supporter of Dawn Riley's America True campaign for the America's Cup. And I've done three all-women's TransPac races that wouldn't have happened without Barry's financial support. Barry was looking to support a woman's sailing adventure such as the one Liz wanted to do. They met by happenstance, and it went from there. But Liz is far from the only woman who has benefited from Barry's sailing philanthropy. As for myself, I think what Liz is doing is wonderful, and I fully support her, too."
WHAT KIND OF SACRIFICES HAS SHE MADE?
Thank you Latitude editor LaDonna Bubak for your take on Liz Clark asking for money. You and Kathe Hashimoto, who said the same thing, echo my sentiments. I think it's great that Liz is able to follow her dream, albeit on someone else’s dime. As I recall first reading about her venture, she had a benefactor supply her with the Cal 40. Liz seems to have captured the attention and admiration of some influential supporters/advocates.
Most cruisers doing what Liz is doing do so after some significant sacrifice. I wonder why we don’t see calls for financial help in Latitude from the many cruisiers who lost a rig, an engine, or transmission and had to limp home and go back to work, or simply end their cruise. Liz appears to be a good steward of the boat provided her, and has apparently worked hard maintaining the boat. I applaud her. I just don’t recall reading much about any sacrifices she made to launch her dream.
For the publisher of Latitude to suggest that anyone who challenges her request for money is “overly grouchy or has something against everyone who receives money from others to go sailing” is a little bit defensive, and I think misses the point. But then, it is his magazine and he has the right to support whom he chooses.
Mike — As a reader of Latitude, you have as much right to disagree with our opinions as we have to express them, so always feel free to disagree with us.
What we have trouble seeing is the distinction between Liz being open to receiving contributions to her adventure and other sailors who have done the same thing. And there are zillions of them, from sailors in youth sailing programs, in Olympic programs, in America's Cup programs. So what's the difference between a yacht club asking members to support a specific program to benefit a couple of youth sailors they don't even know and Liz asking Latitude readers — whom she's entertained with many articles — if they'd like to chip in to her adventure?
IS PETALUMA SAFE FOR BOATERS?
A few years ago sailors who spent the night in the Petaluma Turning Basin reported a lot of crime and vandalism to their boats. Do you know if the situation has improved?
Chinook, Tiara 4000 Express Cruiser
Chris — We put your question on 'Lectronic so you could get an answer in time for this month's issue and before the season was over. We got lots of feedback, all of it overwhelmingly positive. Get all the details on taking your boat up to Petaluma in this month's Sightings.
PETALUMA HAS GREAT ATMOSPHERE AND PEOPLE
We visited Petaluma in July and had a great time — as we have on every trip there in the past several years. The town has great atmosphere, wonderful restaurants, and very friendly and helpful people — including the bridgetender. For those planning a similar trip, we suggest an early morning departure to avoid the afternoon chop on San Pablo Bay, and we remind everyone that the channel between San Pablo Bay and the Petaluma River must be followed carefully to avoid running aground.
La Vida, Catalina 320
LOW TIDE IS THE ONLY PROBLEM IN PETALUMA
The Richmond YC had a 16-boat cruise to the Petaluma Turning Basin on April 24-26. The security was excellent and there were no incidents — except having to wait for the tide so we could get away from the dock on the second day.
Quintana Roo, Catalina 36 Mk II