HEAR YE, ALL 20- AND 30-SOMETHINGS
I'm a 29-year-old woman from Boston who has been sailing for almost three months now. The first conversation I had after showing up at Downwind Marine in San Diego was with Patty, and it went like this:
"Oh, you're new? Then you need this," she said, handing me a copy of Latitude 38 from a stack.
"What's this?" I asked.
"It's the bible," she responded.
And she was right. I am picking up so much information from Latitude — from sailing terminology to places to visit, people to know, safety issues, weather stuff, anchorages and so much more.
You see, I'm a city girl who decided to seek out adventure and new friends. I've found it in sailing and cruising. And frankly, I want to spread the word to all the 20- and 30-somethings out there that I feel I've discovered a treasure more people my age need to find. Get off the couch and go travel!
I found that getting way into sailing wasn't hard at all. Thus far, I've been lucky enough to get a bar-napkin lesson from a legendary yacht designer in San Diego; sit three boats over from a circumnavigator who was featured in Latitude last year, putting 'circumnavigation' on my Bucket List; watch an expert build a boat on Shelter Island; crew on Blue Blazes, Dennis Conner's old R/P 50 and winner of the Puerto Vallarta Race a few years back, in the fantastic MEXORC; do Zihua SailFest; and cruise the mainland coast of Mexico.
In my first few months of cruising — I flew to Puerto Vallarta to get on a boat — I've been fortunate enough to see and/or experience Yelapa's 100-ft waterfall, hundreds of jumping dolphins in Banderas Bay, two days of sailing in 30-knot winds, pristine beaches, empty anchorages, and my first overnight passage. From all of this I quickly found respect for the ocean I've been so curious about.
And there's been plenty of the adventure that I was looking for, from racing — which I love — on a top-flight racing boat to the tsunami scare. I was in Zihua at about 10 a.m. when I learned the tsunami was expected to hit in less than half an hour. I informed the folks in the office at Ixtapa Marina — who didn't know anything about it — then headed for the hills! I planned to spend the day in the elevated jungle, but I happened upon a resort with a view of Zihua Bay. From there I was able to see boats weigh anchor and head out to sea. The water at Los Gatos Beach rose 15 feet, then fell 15 feet, within a period of four minutes. Before it was over, several fingers broke free from the docks in Marina Ixtapa, and one wave washed over the famous basketball court in Zihua Centro. No one was hurt in Zihua, but my heart goes out to all the people of Chile.
And I had a blast at this year's SailFest in Zihua! There were parties at Rick's Bar, the 20-boat parade, the Round-the-Rock Race, and the Chili Cook-Off — and all were big successes. Pamela Bendall of the British Columbia-based Kristen 46 Precious Metal was so energetic and enthusiastic that she drew crowds all week. All the money raised — last year it was $45,000 U.S. — went to local schools for kids who probably wouldn't otherwise get an educations
One of the great things about doing SailFest is that I got to meet so many wonderful active cruisers, such as Bernard Slabeck of the San Francisco-based Freedom 36 Simple Pleasures, Mark Scarretta of the Oregon-based Lagoon 380 Younger Girl, Bill Lilly from the Long Beach-based Lagoon 470 Moontide — who had a crew of 14 for the race — Pete Boyce of the Tiburon-based Sabre 42 Edelweiss III, Ed and Betty of the Alaskan-based Rafiki 41 Dolphin, Marv and Arty Dunn of the Portland-based Peterson 44 Odyssey, the ever-welcoming Memo at Rick's Bar, and my new boat-mate Adam, 23, who is also new to sailing. They're all my friends now. I'm so psyched to have been a part of SailFest with these folks, as we pretty much took over Zihua for a week, and made other friends everywhere we went.
As I've sailed the coast of Mexico, one of the coolest things has been reading Latitude and coming across the names of people I've met. At least 10 times I've read an article and gone, "Wait, I know that person!" The sailing world seems smaller than I would have guessed.
I'm currently crew on the Beneteau 41 Shannon from Portland, and found that getting on a boat wasn't difficult. And not only did I find a captain who is respectful and inspiring, but one who is a boatload of fun, too!
Having been attached to my cell phone for so many years, it's been great to leave it behind and just carry a handheld VHF. For a city girl like me, giving up the cell phone has been a big deal! But spending the last five weeks in serene cruising environments far from the city lights has made me realize something important. There is no reason I should waste my time with people who do nothing but sit back and complain, not when I can spend time in wonderful places with people who have positive outlooks.
To all the sailors I've met out here so far, what a crazy-cool world you are part of! The rewarding lifestyle you've become accustomed to leads to marvelous experiences and is an incredible, exciting way to explore the world. So nice job to all those who have paved the way. I'm looking forward to more sailing adventures — and maybe I'll even see you at this fall's Ha-Ha with my 'bible' and guitar in hand.
We'll be sailing to El Salvador and Costa Rica next. I'll be scouring the pages of Latitude and all sorts of books for more sailing and other information along the way.
Sarah — Thanks for all the very kind words.
We think you're right, that lots of 20s and 30s are really missing out. There are lots of attractions in the big cities, but there are many more out in nature, too. Just check out this month's Changes to see what Tristan and Mindy Nyby, both the same age as you, have been doing. And in the case of single women who want to go cruising, we think you'd agree that the cruising community provides a big safety network in which you have a countless number of 'big brothers' and 'big sisters' ready to offer you any support that you might need.
CUBA'S EASIER TO CRUISE THAN THE U.S.
With regard to your March 3rd 'Lectronic item about a Ha-Ha vet having sailed to Cuba, maybe you're correct from a U.S. citizen's point of view. But I suggest that you peep into U.S. Homeland Security rules and regulations regarding visiting foreign yachts — even European Union-registered yachts — when they travel within the U.S. Then complain about Cuba.
I'm sorry to say, I prefer Cuba. At least it's much cheaper when the officer declines to receive my notice of movement.
Henry — You completely missed the point of that item. Our primary beef is not with the Cuban government, but with the United States government, which for some reason believes it has the right to decide which countries its citizens may visit. Their enforcement vehicle is the Treasury Department's prohibition on U.S. citizens' 'rading with the (so-called) enemy. Individuals may face fines of up to $250,000 and 10 years in prison — although those who have flouted the prohibition in the last year have been studiously ignored by the Justice Department. President Obama's contribution to the already ridiculous policy has been making it legal for only Cuban-Americans to travel freely to Cuba. It's deliciously ironic, isn't it, that the first African-American president has granted special travel privileges to just one ethnic group?
Yes, we're aware that the United States government doesn't make it particularly easy for foreign boats to visit. We presume that's either because they don't want our otherwise air-tight borders to become porous, or because foreigners have a well-deserved reputation for being lousy tippers.
If you prefer cruising in Cuba to the United States, that's fine, but it's really a case of comparing apples and oranges. And remember, it also means saying that you prefer cruising — and to a tiny extent, supporting — a country that doesn't permit its citizens freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of assembly, freedom to travel, the chance to mix freely with foreigners — or anything else that isn't specifically sanctioned. So cruise where you want, but we say, Vivá the counter-revolution!
Update: The day before we went to press, we received an email from our old buddy, José Escrich, Commodore of the Hemingway International YC of Cuba. In addition to offering a formal welcome to all Latitude 38 readers who might visit the yacht club just outside of Havana, Commodore Escrich wants everyone to know that the www.cubaseas.com website is now up and running, and he'll be writing a blog to answer questions concerning the facilities and nautical activities available to all vessels that call on the club. In addition, the site also has a video of the presentations he made at the International Superyacht Society and the Seakeepers Society during the Miami International Boat Show. Among other things, the site contains the most detailed information we've ever seen about which Americans are allowed — by the American government — to visit Cuba. It must have taken 100 D.C. lawyers to concoct such a thing. Anyway, the site is great, so check it out!
NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG IT
Your magazine printed my name as 'Edgay Parker' of the SC27 Poopsie, when it identified me as the winner of Class 7 in the Doublehanded Farallones Race of '08. My legal name is Edgar Randolph Parker IV. I would appreciate it if your magazine could print my name correctly, and print an apology for the mistake.
Randy Parker IV
aka 'JR of Santa Cruz'
JR — We're more than happy to comply with your request — and offer our sincere apologies to you and anyone else whose name or boat name gets misspelled in the magazine. For the record, sometimes the mistakes in the spelling of names are made on our end, but often times they are made because they are spelled that way in the official results.
But it's 2010. Are you telling us that you just now got around to reading that issue?
DON'T EXPECT THE USCG TO SAVE YOUR ASSETS
I'm the owner of Pacific Salvage, the Santa Cruz-based company that removed the wreck of the Catalina 36 JoJo from Stillwater Cove.
I have read the articles and letters to the editor about how the Coast Guard responded to JoJo's call for help and how the boat was lost. The demise of the JoJo certainly was a disaster. But the episode clearly makes a point that the Coast Guard is a life-saving service, not an asset-saving service. And the letters on the subject indicated that lots of mariners are under the false impression that the government will bail out their assets when things go wrong.
It reminds me of the case of a mariner whose boat broke down about 15 miles off the coast of Monterey. He was informed that the law prevents the Coast Guard from competing with private salvage companies, and was referred to our towing division, Vessel Assist Monterey. The mariner didn't like the idea that the government wouldn't save his asset, refused our service, and forced the Coast Guard to come and get him. When he got to the dock, he was cited for the reckless endangerment of his guests because he didn't have a working VHF on his boat. And he was ultimately given a civil assessment of about $15,000 for the misuse of government resources.
For those who think the Coast Guard should save assets as well as lives, imagine how bad a day it would be if your boat were sinking and the Coast Guard couldn't come to get you because they were busy with some non-life-saving activity.
I would hope that all of us mariners would applaud the Coast Guard for their due diligence in their primary goal of saving our butts.
And remember that liability and towing insurance are the mariners' best buddies when things go wrong.
Capt. Chelsea Wagner
Owner, Pacific Salvage Inc./Vessel Assist Monterey Bay
Dive Master, Marine Salvage Master,
USCG 100 Ton Master
DOWN IN THE DUMPS ABOUT DELTA DOO DAH DEUX
I tried to sign up for Latitude's Delta Doo Dah Deux, but no cigar, as the event was already fully subscribed. I'd been waiting for a year to sign up for the event, but was out of town for 24 hours, long enough to miss the announcement for sign-ups and have all the slots be taken. I'm very bummed, and want to know if there is a waiting list or some other way to get in on the Delta trip.
Jelly Bean, Catalina 36
Bob — Since we increased the number of entries from 30 to 50, we were as surprised as you that the event 'sold out' in just 12 hours. We hate to say it but, as we already have 15 people on the waiting list, there appears to be very little hope for anyone who missed signing up. But that doesn't mean you can't get a group of friends together to go explore the Delta on your own. And if you time it just right, you might even bump into a wild-and-rowdy group of Doo Dah'ers along the way! Regardless, you can keep up with the planned goings-on at www.deltadoodah.com.
For the record, the publisher of Latitude wants everyone to know how thrilled he is that the Delta Doo Dah — sort of an ultra-mini Baja Ha-Ha — was conceived and has been managed entirely by Latitude staff members Christine Weaver, LaDonna Bubak and John Arndt. It's their baby, which makes us feel like a proud grandparent.
TOO BIG NOT TO FAIL?
After years of saving and taking care of other business in life, I'm getting ready to buy a cruising boat. I always thought I'd get something in the 40- to 45-ft range that's less than five years old. But while searching the internet, I've come across several very interesting boats in the 65- to 75-ft and even larger range. Most of them are 20 or more years old, so they may have some maintenance issues. But what's attracting me is the thought of owning a pretty cool, big boat, and getting her for not much more than the price of the 45-footers I've been thinking about.
Knowing that Latitude previously owned an Ocean 71 for a number of years, I'm wondering if you could give me some guidance.
Ken — Unless money is no object and/or you get to pay your boat bills with before-tax dollars, we'd suggest that you think long and hard before opting for the bigger, older boat. We can't tell you how many folks we know who have gone 'big', and came to view it as, at least, a great challenge, and at worst, a terrible mistake. Boats grow in size exponentially, as do boat problems, boat expenses and crew issues. So it doesn't surprise us that after Paul and Susan Mitchell lost their 58-ft schooner White Cloud in the Coral Sea, they replaced her for the remaining 20 years of their circumnavigation with Elenoa, a 36-ft steel cutter. Frank Robben of Berkeley, who did a bunch of races to Hawaii and went around the world at least once with the 73-ft aluminum Kialoa II, now cruises a Peterson 44 with his wife. And as you'll read later in Letters, John Campion's new cruising boat is going to be based on a Wilderness 40 hull that is 27 feet shorter than the 67-ft Merlin he used to own. The list goes on and on.
The Ocean 71 was an historic design, and our Big O was a fabulous boat. We had the time of our life owning her for 11 years, and for trips from the Caribbean to California and California to Turkey and back to the Caribbean. But owning her was a challenge in two respects. First, financially. Big boat bills are really big. In part because everyone assumes that the owner of a big boat can afford big bills. Plus, modern boats are so much easier to sail than older boats because they come with all sorts of effort-saving equipment — such as roller furling mains and electric winches — which weren't common 20 or 30 years ago. And if you have to go to the expense of fitting an old boat with all the good, new stuff — or repairing or replacing things like the windlass, sails, winches, cushions and so forth — you'd better have a spot on the Forbes 500. It's our understanding that the Canadian gentleman who bought Big O spent nearly seven times as much refitting her as we did buying her. Fortunately, it's also our understanding that he's had an unusually lucrative specialized charter business with her. But most boatowners can't count on that kind of cash flow.
For us, the real downside in owning a bigger, older boat was that she was hard to sail — let alone maintain — without several crew, most of whom naturally wanted to be paid. Not only is having paid crew very expensive compared to not having paid crew, but there are the inevitable compatibility and retention issues. If your boat is your home, there is a good chance you won't feel as comfortable on her when you have to share her with others, particularly if there are major age differences as well as tastes in food and music. Secondly, paid crew are understandably always looking for higher paying gigs, so just after they become familiar with the idiosyncrasies of your older boat and her older gear, they are likely to be off to greener pastures. That means you not only can be left in the lurch, but will have to find new crew and train them in the peculiarities of your older boat.
For these reasons, when we finally decided to replace Big O, considerations #1, #2 and #3 for the new boat were the ability to enjoy it without having to rely on crew. Because of that, we've always felt as though we've owned Profligate, whereas with Big O, we sometimes had the unpleasant feeling that she owned us. Lots of owners of older big boats know the feeling, so don't be surprised if you see them wandering around looking for a shoulder to cry on while owners of smaller boats are going sailing.
As a very general rule, we'd recommend boats under 50 feet — if not under 40 feet — and less than 15 years old. That will generally get you a boat that is capable of taking you anywhere, and if she's been properly maintained, her systems and gear should still be in reasonably good shape.
Lastly, all boats have to be sold sometime, and the number of people looking to buy big, old boats is very small. The money you'd have to spend in berthing bills over the two or three years it might take to sell the big oldie would likely be enough to have bought a good 45-ft boat. No wonder so many older big boats either deteriorate to derelicts or, if still in good shape, end up being donated rather than being sold.
In summary, you might want to remember the immortal words of Antonio des Mortes, our Basque captain on Big O: "Sailboats are like the beautiful, beautiful breasts of the womens; is not necessary for them to be so very big for the captain to enjoy himself."
THE FLY-ING MOORE 30
In the mid-'80s, I was racing aboard an Olson 30 when I saw a sailboat Fly — pardon the pun — fly past us. Someone told me that Fly was a Moore 30. She was a trailerable boat with deck wings that folded out. Can you tell me how many were built and what happened to them?
Curt — We emailed Ron Moore for the straight scoop, but he was so busy working in the boatyard that Martha Lewis, his wife of 32 years, wrote the following response:
"I am responding on what is Ron's 65th birthday — can you believe it? He's still very involved in sailing, and we have developed Moore Sailboats into a composites business that is now involved with a number of different projects. For example, we're currently involved with John Campion's new cruising boat. The former owner of the 67-ft Merlin has got a Wilderness 40 hull that he wants to make into a cruising boat.
"I can't believe how many years have passed since Ron built the 30s. We built a total of seven of them. Ron didn't destroy the molds until just last year. It was very hard for him to do. When we decided to build the 30, we were going to have either Gary Mull of Berkeley or Bruce Farr of Annapolis design it. Ultimately, we decided to go with Gary because he was local. Remember, it was the mid-'80s and it wasn't so easy or inexpensive to communicate with the East Coast. Gary was a real talent and a great friend who died too young. At the time, he was very busy with the America's Cup design for Tom Blackaller's St. Francis YC syndicate, so the Moore 30 often got put on the back burner. But Gary was still the right man for the job."
We were curious as to where the seven Moore 30s went after being built, so we called Ron to find out. "One went to San Diego, one to the Bay Area but it ended up back east, and two went to Corpus Cristi," he told us. "There's another in Tahoe that's in the process of being highly modified by a couple of old Moore 24 sailors." Keep an eye out in a future edition of Latitude for details on this project, but in the meantime, if you have any idea where all the Moore 30s are now, email Richard.
UPDATE YOUR NAV EQUIPMENT SOFTWARE
A few weeks ago, I noticed that the Autohelm on The Taproom, my Catalina 42, was not maintaining the waypoint that I'd selected on my Raymarine C-80 chartplotter. When solely engaged, the autopilot seemed to be working fine. I figured that maybe I had a connection problem between the two.
During my haulout at KKMI, I expected to hear the electronics technician tell me that something was broken and the fix would be $X,XXX. Imagine my surprise and delight when I was told it would only be $XX. The ability of my autopilot to talk to my chartplotter was affected by changes to the U.S. WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) system.
It seems that around the end of '08 and beginning of '09, the FAA decommissioned two WAAS GPS satellites — PRN 122 and PRN 134 — and activated two replacements — PRN 135 and PRN 138. The problem is that the WAAS firmware in certain Raymarine — and perhaps other brand — navigation products does not recognize these new satellites. KKMI’s tech just needed to upload some new software, something he’d been doing for a lot of customers.
All software updates and instructions are posted in the customer support section of www.raymarine.com. You can easily download the free update file to a compact flash drive and do your own upload to the chartplotter. But I just wanted to make sure people were aware of the problem.
The Taproom, Catalina 42
Harley — Thanks for the heads up.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE AMERICA'S CUP
Here's my brief history on the America's Cup:
In 1851, John Cox Stevens, who happens to have been a great-great uncle of mine as well as the founder of the New York YC, put together a syndicate to build the schooner America. She sailed to England with the hope that syndicate members could make some money by gambling on her in yacht races. But the syndicate members were true sportsmen, too, so they wanted to race their sleek new schooner against the best-paying match they could find.
When they sailed into the Solent with just their delivery sails, the America's speed so impressed the Englishmen that the syndicate had a difficult time finding a suitable match. After a few weeks passed, they entered a regatta that was open to all comers. The rest is history.
The America's Cup is America's oldest sporting trophy. I think that we in the Bay Area should feel honored to have the chance to host the Cup here. The Cup has history and tradition, and this should be acknowledged by having it here. I think that all the obstacles could be overcome if there is a will. We have one of the best sailing venues in the world in the beautiful Bay. This is an opportunity not to be missed.
Ohana, Beneteau 45F5
Steve — You hit the crux of the problem right on the head, to mangle an analogy, when you wrote "if there is a will." Our doubts on the event being held here are based entirely on the belief that the powers that be in our local and regional governments and government agencies do not have the will or capability of overcoming the obstacles. But we're still going to hope.
"WHAT ABOUT ME?"
If the America's Cup were to be held on San Francisco Bay, how would it affect my use of the Bay during Cup activities? Similarly, how much of the Bay would be off limits to the rest of us sailors?
John — Those are two excellent questions. Unfortunately, we can't give you any answers because as we write this no specifics have been released as to the kind of boats — monohulls or multihulls — that might be used in the next Cup, and where the courses might be. At this point we wouldn't be too worried, as we're pretty sure that the Coast Guard wouldn't grant the America's Cup exclusive use of a busy part of the of the Bay — except for perhaps the main event. In all the other places the America's Cup has been held, from Newport to Fremantle, the Cup courses did not significantly impinge on the interests of other mariners. We'd be surprised if that changed.
CATCHING CUP FEVER
I don't know about you, but 'Cup fever' is starting to get to me. If we're lucky enough for San Francisco Bay to be chosen as the venue, it would boost the economy here in Alameda like crazy and really put us on the map. Do you know, for example, there is a 'Where the hell is Alameda?' page on Facebook?
Jack, my late life partner, was a swimming pool contractor in Sacramento for 25 years before he moved to Alameda and sold sailboats with John Beery and later Roger Wales at Cruising World Yachts in Mariner Square. You can just imagine the trouble those three could get into! A graduate of King's Point Merchant Marine Academy, Jack loved sailing. He received his 60 Veterans Certificate at the San Francisco YC in October before he passed away of cancer. We had a Ranger 33 that Jack loved so much that when Latitude did a great write-up on the design, he had it framed.
I'm always wishing that Jack were still here for one thing or the other that he's missed. But, oh my God, to have the America's Cup on San Francisco Bay would be so great.
HEY, LARRY! HERE'S AN IDEA FOR YOU
I'd like to see the America's Cup in Northern California, and think two courses should be used. Both courses would have the start and finish line between the Golden Gate YC and Harding, regardless of the wind direction. Course #1 would simply be to leave the Farallon Islands to port. Course #2 would be to Treasure Island, Red Rock and back to the finish leaving Angel Island to port. For the big race, the courses would be alternated in a best of seven series. I think it would be very interesting as it could result in some downwind flood starts along the Cityfront.
P.S. Still reading after all these years.
San Francisco Bay
F. — If your America's Cup came to fruition, it truly would be a designer's competition. But in automobile terms, it would be like trying to come up with a vehicle that was equally good in the Indy 500 and the Baja 1000.
JIBE — AND ENGINE — HO!
You recently asked your readers how to start a boat's diesel if the starter battery was kaput. I haven't done it, but I once read about a guy who rigged a line through a series of blocks from the flywheel of his diesel to the boom. When he jibed the main boom, there was enough energy created to turn the flywheel fast enough to start the engine. Very clever!
If I were king, the next America's Cup would be in 80-ft monohulls with fixed keels, everyone on the boat would have to be from the country the boat raced for, the only electronic devices allowed would be one stopwatch, one compass and one knotmeter. In addition, there would be elimination trials for both the Defender and the Challenger, the AC would be the best of nine races, racing would be held in all conditions when the wind blew harder than five knots and less than 50 knots. The cost of each boat could not exceed 20% more than the average market value of a similar-sized boat.
Now let's put the fun back in the America's Cup and go sailing on San Francisco Bay!
Cadenza, Catalina 27
South Lake Tahoe
Jim — As fabulous as all the technology has been in the recent America's Cup races, we have to agree with the sentiment that it's divorced the crews from the boats and the natural forces of nature, thereby making the racing less human and less fun. If they are going to allow the use of engines on America's Cup boats again, perhaps each team should have to restart the engine at least once on every downwind leg by jibing the main with the line-from-the-boom-to-the-flywheel method. That would certainly reintroduce a human element.
LET 'EM EARN IT!
The city of Newport, Rhode Island, wants the America's Cup to return there. If that's the case, I suggest they enter a boat in the next America's Cup, win it, and thus have the right to defend the Cup in their venue!
Mokuakalana, Jar Cat
Howard — That would be the proper way to do it. Based on everything that's been said, the America's Cup is San Francisco Bay's to lose. Unfortunately, San Francisco is fully capable of doing just that. As for Newport and San Diego — and everywhere else that wants to host the Cup — we agree that they ought to get that right the old way — by earning it!
HAVE A 'CUP'-HALF-FULL ATTITUDE
I beg to disagree with Dick Enerson's letter — and Latitude's editorial agreement — to the effect that it would not be possible to host a successful America's Cup on San Francisco Bay. I believe it is not only possible, but it could be the best Cup match ever. Here is a point-by-point rebuttal to Enerson's arguments, and the reasons that San Francisco Bay would be a great place to host the next Cup.
The Bay is too small with too much ship traffic. There are two parts to every America's Cup event. First, there is the challenger selection process which, prior to the last match, was known as the Louis Vuitton Cup racing. Second is the Cup match itself. The Louis Vuitton Cup could not be held in the Central Bay because there is not enough room and there is too much commercial traffic. But, it could be held in the wide water between the Bay Bridge and Candlestick Point. There is plenty of deep water and good breeze, and the cross currents would not affect the quality of the racing. Windward/leeward legs would be about 2-3 miles long, which would make for good racing with plenty of action and mark roundings. Commercial traffic is minimal in that part of the Bay. It is used now as an anchorage for ships waiting for berth assignments in the Port of Oakland. With a little cooperation from Vessel Traffic Service, these ships could be anchored away from the race courses and there would still be plenty of room left over.
The Central Bay is the only place to hold the match itself, and there could be windward/leeward courses from the middle part of the Golden Gate Bridge to a spot between Alcatraz and Angel Island. These legs would be a little shorter than what has been traditional, but shorter legs would be good for the racing and good for the Cup. The public gets bored with long legs that turn into drag races. Shorter legs with more mark roundings and more action would be good for television and spectator viewing. Of course, the backdrops around the Bay are superb for television, superior to the venues of any of the previous America's Cup events. Because the course would be in the dead center of the Bay, the currents would essentially be the same all over the course, and heading to the beach for current relief would not be an option. It would be pure match racing for the purists in the crowd. As we all know, the summer winds in the Central Bay are as reliable as Old Faithful, steadily blowing 15 to 25 knots every afternoon. Just what America's Cup teams want.
Since there can only be a maximum of nine races in the AC, commercial traffic would only have to be controlled on a limited number of days. This could be accomplished with a reasonable amount of cooperation from the Coast Guard and the Vessel Traffic Service. What would be really cool, is if the Coast Guard could be persuaded to install a new buoy just inside the Golden Gate Bridge. This could be a new separation buoy for ship traffic entering and leaving the Bay, and the windward mark for the Cup races. It could be called the 'America's Cup Buoy', and used at other times as a permanent weather mark for Bay racing. Just about everywhere on the main
Bay is directly downwind from this spot. And it would also save local race committees from having to set windward marks in deep water. But even without such a new buoy, America's Cup race committees are not like our local yacht club race committees manned by volunteers. The America's Cup gets very experienced pros for their race committees, and they would be able to set marks in deep water.
No cooperation from local government. Hogwash! Our local politicos may seem to be out in left field at times, but even they will see the economic benefits to be derived from this event. All they have to do is talk to the city officials in Valencia or Auckland. In these days of severely strained municipal budgets, all the cities around the Bay would see the economic benefits of having the Cup races here. I was at the City Hall welcoming celebration for Larry Ellison and his BMW Oracle team, and heard Mayor Gavin Newsom publicly state that he is all for it, and he will do all that he can to make it happen. This is a good first step, and I don't see why our other political leaders would not follow suit. Remember that San Francisco made an unsuccessful attempt to get the Olympic Games here. The America's Cup is not the Olympic Games, but it is the next best major international event that the City has any realistic expectation to host.
No place for team compounds. Double hogwash! There are lots of places for teams to set up shop. For starters, there is the much-neglected Port of San Francisco. The piers are under utilized and the port would love to have some new tenants. Sure, they would be expensive to build, but money has never seemed to be a problem when it comes to the America's Cup. Compounds would be expensive to build elsewhere as well. The cities in Europe bid to get the chance to hold the event, and were willing to pour money in to build the infrastructure.
BMW Oracle's Larry Ellison has said he is not looking for money — he already has enough, thank you very much — only access to waterfront real estate. San Francisco has plenty of that. If you don't like the City waterfront, there is the east side of Treasure Island. The old Navy piers are now gone, but there is plenty of room and deep water for compounds. If you are still not satisfied, there is the old Alameda Naval Air Station. The Navy used to park aircraft carriers there, and there is plenty of room and deep water, too.
The San Francisco Yacht Racing Association (YRA) has the rights to race on the Bay and the America's Cup would interfere. Now we are bordering on the ridiculous. The YRA is made up of sailors who would love to see Cup racing here. The YRA operates only on weekends, leaving the Bay wide open five days a week. But the bottom line is that I am sure we could get all kinds of cooperation from the YRA to encourage America's Cup racing on our Bay.
San Francisco does not need any more tourists. Tell that one to the hotels, restaurants and public attractions that live or die with tourists. Tell it to the city politicians who depend on them for tax revenue. This is another red herring, but it acknowledges the fact that the event would attract many people who would spend their money in the Bay Area.
So, with all the objections dispatched, let's look at the wine glass with a half-full attitude. San Francisco Bay will provide the best setting for an America's Cup regatta the world has ever seen. In all the other locations, all you saw was two boats racing on open waters — no Golden Gate Bridge, no Alcatraz, no Bay Area hills, no dramatic city skyline — none of the things that make San Francisco Bay one of the greatest and most beautiful harbors and sailing venues in the world. The winds and waves would make for more exciting sailing that will draw millions to TV, and would be one of the best promotions ever for the City by the Bay. Finally, for all the sailors in the crowd, having the America's Cup on the Bay will be the greatest single sailing event ever held on the Bay — bar none!
Have I made my case?
Princess, Sabre 402
San Francisco Bay
Bruce — You make a fine case. We particularly like the idea of the big race in the Central Bay, with the windward mark right under the Golden Gate Bridge. We can easily envision the east side of the bridge packed with spectators getting a never-before-seen view of the Cup action unfolding 250 feet below. And as was demonstrated by Oracle's match racing on the Bay a couple years ago, there would be plenty of other spectacular vantage points for spectators — including from many of the office buildings, homes and apartments facing the Bay.
As for the best possible sailing conditions, the Central Bay certainly has them, and the scenic views for television would put all previous Cup events to shame. There is also no doubt that the world has a passionate love affair with the city of San Francisco, so we would be surprised if that alone couldn't attract an extra team or two. We're also impressed that the Coast Guard and bar pilots have apparently given their initial blessing to the general concept.
Our cup-half-empty attitude toward the possibility of such an event comes from a deepening cynicism about what San Francisco, the Bay Area and California are capable of accomplishing. Especially in a relatively short period of time. Would not the building of compounds require permits from an endless number of agencies with reputations for moving at a pre-global warming glacial pace? Would it not take years — if ever — to get approval of the environmental impacts?
It's wonderful that Larry Ellison says he wants the event on San Francisco Bay, and we think he's sincere. It's even better that he's saying they don't need any public money. It's also terrific that Mayor Gavin Newsom is also onboard, but his approval ratings are in the dumpster, and he's often impotent in the face of the Board of Supervisors. While in theory the San Francisco Port District can do things without the approval of the Board of Supes, we don't think they can in reality. And as any observer knows, San Francisco has one of the most dysfunctional Boards of Supervisors in the country, and they have long been incapable of acting in the best interests of either the City or the residents. For instance, we could easily see several Supervisors along the lines of Chris Daly say that they would relentlessly fight the Cup's being held on San Francisco Bay — unless every team had at least one homeless crew, one transgender crew, and one illegal alien under indictment for murder on their boat. And that the combined teams had to build 50,000 homes for San Francisco's homeless.
While the idea of the Cup compounds being situated along the Embarcadero would appeal to lots of people, we think you are underestimating the number of people who would be dead set against it. Some perhaps for good reasons, others just because they enjoy preventing other people from doing something they really enjoy. Sailors who visit the Bay for the first time are often shocked at the lack of boating facilities and the poor state of what does exist at the San Francisco Marina and Gashouse Cove. There have been attempts to improve these facilities, but they're always met with fierce opposition from Marina homeowners who don't want the status quo changed and by boatowners who don't want their berth fees raised from the below-market rates.
Having the team compounds on Treasure Island would seem to be a much more likely prospect, but it wouldn't be very convenient. The cold and howling winds would make it unfriendly to visitors and the teams, and we've seen how long it takes to get approval for anything on Treasure Island. No disrespect for Alameda, but having the compounds there would be extremely inconvenient and have none of the glamour of San Francisco.
Lastly, we don't consider ourselves to be experts on the sailing conditions south of the Bay Bridge, but we've sailed and raced there any number of times. Based on our experience, the wind there is extremely inconsistent and fluky — not what's needed for match racing. Of course, a lot of other possible courses have been suggested, some of them based on what would be unusual types of boats for an America's Cup. Ron Young, for example, thinks the teams should race 60-ft catamarans on a slalom course down the Cityfront. That would get an 11 on a scale of 10 in terms of up-close and thrilling action, but a zero from traditionalists.
If BMW Oracle is to be believed, the site will have been chosen just about the time this issue hits the press. We'll try to think positively until then, but we're not holding our breath.
GOING TO THE BIG CAT GRAVEYARD IN THE SKY
Thanks for the nice coverage of the recent America's Cup races in the March issue. One thing I haven't heard anything about is what the future holds for the two multihulls. With all the money and technology — especially the BMW Oracle wing sail — used in these two amazing boats, it would be such a waste to dismantle them. Have you heard any plans, and if not, can you investigate?
Tracy — What a great question, one we'll try to find the answer to. Like all racing boats, both Alinghi 5 and USA are already obsolete because so much has been learned from them. So we propose that after an old-time ticker tape parade down 5th Avenue in New York City, and a similar shindig down Market Street in San Francisco, the BMW Oracle trimaran should be put on display in front of Oracle headquarters at Redwood Shores. Sort of like how they put the Kiwi 'Big Boat' on semi-permanent display in downtown Auckland after the '95 Cup in San Diego.
WHERE ARE THEIR PFDS?
I hope these two adorable babies who appeared in a photograph in the March Letters section doublehanding a tiny boat had on lifevests under their shirts. I know someone was right there taking their picture, but we don't want them to get the idea that PFDs aren't necessary.
Patience, Westsail 32
Nan — Warwick 'Commodore' Tompkins of the Mill Valley-based Wylie 38+ Flashgirl is the one who sent us the photo. He tells us that some, the information accompanying the photo got mixed up: "The boys in the skiff are the sons of Adam Beashel, a crack Etchells 22 skipper and one of the guys you see aloft on Team New Zealand boats. Adam and his family live on the shores of Lake Macquarie, Australia. Colin Beashel manages the family boatyard in Pittwater, about 20 miles north of Sydney. Ken Beashel, the father of Adam and Colin, is a Sydney-sider who I raced against in Half-Tonners and Solings decades ago."
We all know the everyone should wear PFDs, but we're not about to tell sailors of such renown what they should and shouldn't do on the water.
OFFSHORE LIABILITY-ONLY COVERAGE?
Greetings from Florida, where we hope it will warm up soon. We're long-time Latitude readers who look forward each month to your unique perspective on all things marine — and on life in general.
One of my least-favorite annual marine-related tasks is figuring out what to do about boat insurance for Pageant, our Brewer 50 aluminum pilothouse ketch. So we were quite intrigued by your reference in the December ‘09 issue to Progressive Insurance providing liability-only coverage for yachts. But when we called Progressive, we could make no headway against the foul current of PWC-related underwriting guidelines such as navigation limits within 75 miles of the United States. We're hoping to make our third jaunt to the Eastern Caribbean this spring, so the 75-mile limit just won't do it.
No one I talked to at Progressive, including a local agent, ever heard of liability-only coverage. Do you have a contact at Progressive, or any further info on this subject?
Dave & Harriet Havanich
Pageant, Brewer 50
Dave and Harriet — Thanks for the kind words. But we're a little confused. On the one hand, you seem to say that Progressive offered liability-only insurance, but with too restrictive limits, but then you seemed to say that nobody at Progressive had ever heard of it.
All we can tell you is that we dialed the regular old Progressive number, and were told about their liability-only coverage. But they did note the limitations, such as the size and the value of the boat, plus navigation limits. Oddly enough, they couldn't give us a quote without specifics about 'our' boat to feed into their computer.
Just to be clear, liability insurance is to protect you if your boat damages other people's property — it doesn't cover damage to your boat at all.
For what it's worth, we know folks who have had that kind of coverage from State Farm and Allstate, and they've had it for years. But since it's not designed for offshore sailboats, it might not be a good fit. Call around and maybe you'll have better luck.
NEW MEANING TO THE TERM 'PUNCH IT'
The March issue Cruise Notes had a couple of reports of sailboats being hit and badly damaged by out-of-control powerboats travelling at high speeds. My wife Martha and I just got back from visiting Bob Carson — yacht broker extraordinaire and surfboard builder of renown — of Southern Trades in the British Virgin Islands. He sent us the accompanying photo of the results of a collision a few days before at The Bite between a high speed powerboat and a big Lagoon catamaran on the hook. Nobody was hurt, but the photos show what kind of damage was done to the catamaran.
P.S. The correct answer to your quiz about where PURE is distributed is St. Barth in the French West Indies. And ain't it pure though!
James — It's getting to the point where we think that owners of sailboats, trawlers and other relatively slow vessels should be given permission to open fire on any boat being operated at high speed within 150 feet of them.
As for the PURE quiz, we received about 250 guesses. A few guessed it was the U.S. Virgins, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Martin, and one Southern California reader prayed it was Catalina. As it turned out, 95% of the respondents correctly guessed that the magazine is published in St. Barth, French West Indies.
A RADAR-ASSISTED COLLISION?
As reported in the March Latitude, the inquiry into the loss of the Andrea Doria after her collision was indeed cut short because the insurance companies settled out of court. But a precis of the proceedings was published, allowing the hoi polloi to speculate. Apparently the mate of the Stockholm was plotting radar bearings assuming that his ship was on course. But a novice helmsman was steering all over the place, making relative bearings misleading. The meanderings of the Stockholm confused the navigators watching Andrea Doria's radar. The result was called a 'radar-assisted collision'.
For the record, the Andrea Doria was built to the appropriate Bureau Veritas standards, and should not have been more top heavy than other ships. But the engine room staff panicked and pumped out every possible liquid when judicious counter flooding, U.S. Navy-style, might have stabilized and saved the ship. We might think the engineers, cooks and bottlewashers who abandoned the ship needed training and discipline in their respective fields.
Unlike some of the present cruise ships, which resemble apartment blocks adrift at sea, the Andrea Doria was a handsome vessel. Much energy might be saved if the cruise companies built ship-shaped apartments surrounded by moats and dioramas of tropic isles, well away from the salty deep.
Dolly Grey, Aries 32
Michael — Thanks for your contribution. Remember the Seinfeld episode where hapless Costanza is infuriated to learn that he can't get the apartment he covets because the tenant's association, out of sympathy, decided it should go to an Andrea Doria survivor? When Kramer, having written the book Astonishing Tales of the Sea, reports that only 51 lives were lost in the Andrea Doria collision, Costanza becomes even more angry. "That's no tragedy," he shouts. "How many people do they lose on a normal cruise? Thirty?! Forty?!"
We thought it was pretty funny. The Seinfeld episode, not the sinking of the Andrea Doria.
NOBODY NEEDS ANY QUALIFICATIONS
Having read the "reader warning" about crew at the end of the February Changes from the skipper of Reflections, I feel as though it should also be considered a warning for novice crew to be careful what skipper you leave the dock with. Being the owner/skipper of a boat is much like being a parent — nobody needs any qualifications.
If an owner is recruiting crew on the internet, it tells me his friends and family won't go with him — probably for a good reason. I can just imagine what really happened on Reflections during her nine years of sailing around the world. Running out of gas in the middle of the Atlantic with no wind is probably mild compared to what happened during all the rest of the voyage.
I grew up sailing to Catalina as a teen, sailed and commercial fished the California and Mexico coast as a young man, and commercial fished in Alaska for 10 seasons. Now I just sail offshore in Northern California. About half the skippers I went out with were unprepared, their boat needed some maintenance, and the skipper really didn't know what the hell he was doing.
Please everyone, be careful whom you go cruising with!
Name Withheld By Request
Port San Luis
N.W.B.R. — It cuts both ways. There are indeed owner/skippers who don't really know as much as they should. But similarly, there are folks who claim to be the greatest and most experienced crew, and who even have Coast Guard licenses to carry passengers for hire, but are clueless about captaining a boat. As a result, it's the responsibility of each owner to suss out the ability of his/her crew, and the responsibility of each crewmember to suss out the ability of the skipper and his/her boat. If you're thinking about crewing on a boat and don't know how to vet a skipper and boat, it's your responsibility to get someone who can do it for you, or get more experience so you can do it yourself. Nonetheless, despite the best of intentions on both sides, there will always be some bad match-ups. It's the nature of humans to not be able to get along with every other human.
We think your slam against the skipper of Reflections was uncalled for. If you draw the conclusion that the skipper's family had good reasons not to sail with him from the premise that he advertised on the internet, you'd be laughed out of a high school class in logic. If they still have them. There are lots of guys — ourselves included — who have/had families who are/were more interested in activities other than sailing, and therefore didn't/don't go sailing with us that often. It doesn't mean we didn't know how to sail. In fact, we only t-boned the Carquinez Bridge once. And in the case of the owner of Reflections, when you've been cruising on the other side of the world for more than five years, you don't have many local sailing friends to draw on. Let's once again put the shoe on the other foot. Do you know of any good crew who doesn't have a plethora of sailing opportunities, both in Northern California and around the world? Such positions go begging all the time. Lastly, remember also that several of the Reflections crew came back for second stints. In fact, one such happy camper is working on an article on how to get crew positions on boats like Reflections on the other side of the world.
Running out of diesel — not gas, by the way — in the middle of the Atlantic? Big deal. The next thing you know is that some disgruntled sailor will try to convince you that we're incompetent just because we tie our bowlines differently than other sailors.
I HAVE THE OPPOSITE REACTION
Interesting. In his March "Harsh Doesn't Even Come Close" letter, Robert Lockwood says he's learned to read the letters, but not Latitude's editorial replies. He and I should get together as, conversely, I have learned to read the replies, but in most cases, not the letters.
Ray — If, as we believe, you are the Ray Conrady who was the navigator for Mexico's Ramon Carlin when he won the first-ever Whitbread Around the World Race with Sayula, we couldn't be more flattered. But we get lots of praise, and it's crucial for us to get some 'you're full of shit' letters from time to time so that we remember to check our bearings.
OR YOU COULD WEAR A BEEKEEPER'S HELMET
I'm hoping someone might be able to help me solve a problem. I'm 48 years old, and after a few years of having not had a boat, I would like to buy sailboat number seven. However, I have a light complexion, and as my skin is older now, my dermatologist advises keeping my face out of the sun. And for me to keep my face from getting wind-burned.
The problem is that I don't like dodgers or biminis, nor do I like pilothouses or any other such encumbering structures. In the past, I wore a bill cap with a shroud sewn in to cover my ears and neck, and applied heaping doses of sunscreen and zinc-oxide. I topped it off by wearing a large pair of dark sunglasses. But the reality is that it still fell short of doing the job. I can effectively cover everything but my face.
My wife says that I have a choice — I can either continue to be a pretty-boy or I can look like a buccaneer again. The fact is, I would like to do both. Any suggestions?
Pastor Vernon Baumgardner
Pastor Vernon — We have two excellent solutions. The first is to only sail at night. If that doesn't suit your taste, you can wear a balaclava. These are common not just with suicide bombers in the Middle East, but also in places like Vietnam and Thailand, where people — particularly women — will do almost anything to keep their skin as light as possible. When worn in combination with big sunglasses, they protect your entire head, face and neck from the sun. And if you're into freaking people out, it's just the thing. They usually only come in camo, but in Thailand you can find them in a lot of very feminine colors, too.
THE NEW DOWNWIND RATINGS COULD BE UNFAIR
I've heard from several sources that there will be new downwind ratings for boats doing the popular one-direction, downwind races such as the Delta Ditch Run, the Jazz Cup and maybe even the Vallejo Race.
I sailed on Raven, a CM1200 in last year's Delta Ditch Run, and when we got upstream toward Stockton, we experienced a strong flood. Peter Cameron made the sage comment that we would have difficulty sailing to our rating, since the course was effectively shorter than the 68-69 miles used in the handicapping. It makes sense that with a playing field moving toward the goal, the distance is shorter. It seems that it would be smart to change the rated distance depending on an average tidal direction for the race period for these races. But alas, PHRF has decided to have a downwind rating instead.
The problem is that the downwind rating can be grossly unfair, since the races in question are fixed only in their destination. The wind is variable in lots of ways. The earlier starts usually have less wind, and the wind usually builds later in the day, allowing the faster late starting boats to more easily catch up with the earlier starters. The overall regatta wind speed may average on the light side, maybe moderate, or maybe heavy, greatly changing the speed potential of ULDBs. The wind direction may be variable from a beat to a reach to a run — although we have had to beat to Vallejo a few times.
I would hate to see these great and popular races ruined by messing around with ratings, but I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Wind Blown Hare, Wabbit #29
DUE OUT THIS SUMMER, MICROBURST: THE MOVIE
Shiver me timbers! The sinking of the 188-ft barquentine Concordia about 300 miles off the Brazilian coast on February 17 has shades of the movie White Squall, starring Jeff Bridges. It was based on a true story from the '60s.
My 1942 edition of A Glossary of Sea Terms describes a white squall as "a sudden and violent wind difficult to anticipate which covers the sea with spindrift. Some seamen claim that white squalls are unaccompanied by clouds, and hence dangerous by the lack of this warning."
Now we call them microbursts. But nothing has changed about the energy that gets unleashed by these monsters. Fortunately, our ability to survive the results of the damage caused by white squalls has changed. Thanks to excellent training, everyone aboard the Concordia survived. It was the combination of training and technology that saved all 64 lives. Have you kissed your EPIRB lately?
Misty, Westsail 32
Larry — Better training and vastly superior technology haven't eliminated all risk on the water, but they have greatly reduced it. When we first started publishing Latitude, people were still drifting around in liferafts for weeks and months after their boats had sunk, and from time to time, cruising boats and their crews were simply never heard from again. It's rare for either of these things to happen these days. So yeah, it's good to kiss — even fondle — your EPIRB and satphone, assuming you have them, from time to time. And make sure that the batteries are always fully charged.
A '78 CHUBASCO WREAKED HAVOC
In last month's issue you reported on the seemingly unusual weather along the coast of mainland Mexico this year, and asked if anybody had seen anything similar before.
Back in February of '78, I was anchored in the general anchorage at Mazatlan with my Cheoy Lee 27 when we were hit with a sudden and violent chubasco at about 1 p.m. There were winds to 40 knots and torrential rain. About half the boats in the anchorage dragged, so it soon degenerated into a Chinese fire drill, with a dozen crews in dinghies and onboard scrambling to catch up with their boats, fend off dragging boats with no crews, and try to re-set anchors. The maelstrom lasted a brief 30 minutes, and was gone as quickly as it had come. We were lucky, as our 20-lb CQR was well dug-in and held, and we weren't hit by a dragging boat.
This storm also hit Banderas Bay, and when we got to Puerto Vallarta two weeks later, we were able to see what impact it had made there. In Yelapa, we saw the remains of a ferrocement boat that had simply tied up to the old Sombrero tourist boat's mooring with a bowline, surely thinking it would be adequate for the afternoon. But the blow hit so quickly and hard that the crew, standing on the beach just a short distance away, could only watch helplessly as the ring on the big mooring chafed through the bowline. The then-untethered boat was blown onto the beach, and was pounded with such force that she was quickly destroyed. I remember the rebar sticking out of the sandy beach above the tide line.
Gypsy Wind, Grand Banks 32
Bob — That's more like one day rather than one season's unusual weather, but we'll take it. Particularly since we were also cruising Mexico in the winter of '78. Back then it really was a 'foreign' country, wasn't it?
GET READY TO SIGN UP FOR DAN INSURANCE
You asked for reports from people who had firsthand experience with DAN — Diver's Alert Network — which provides emergency evacuation for members who are ill or have been in an accident of any kind. We'd like to share ours.
Our being sailors, whitewater rafters and snorkelers, Jorie, my wife of 23 years, wanted us to celebrate the completion of her PhD program by becoming certified scuba divers. So we did, and planned a dive trip to Fiji. Before leaving, our local dive shop told us about DAN. Given all the distant dive sites we planned to visit, we didn't hesitate to join.
Over a 15-year period, we dove from land-based sites and off liveaboard boats in Mexico, Costa Rica, Palau, the Turks & Caicos, Rota, Yap, Honduras, Hawaii, Thailand, Burma, and Indonesia. Along the way, we were certified as advanced open water, nitrox and rescue divers.
During our second dive from the liveaboard dive boat Ocean Rover in Lembeh Strait, northern Indonesia, Jorie gave me the 'emergency surface' sign. When she surfaced, she had difficulty breathing. One of the other guests was a doctor and he put her on 100% oxygen. After checking, his diagnosis was water in her lungs.
(A few months after the incident, and again with DAN's help, Jorie would visit UCLA Medical Center, where she was diagnosed with immersion pulmonary edema.)
Back back aboard Ocean Rover, the dive master and skipper contacted DAN for advice. They recommended transporting Jorie to the closest intensive care facility. That was Raffles Hospital in Singapore, 1,800 miles away! As DAN was making travel arrangements, it was clear that Jorie's condition was getting worse. We then learned that it would be 20 hours before a jet could pick her up.
As Jorie needed more immediate treatment, DAN began arranging transportation to the local hospital in Manado by contacting a naval base — which had the only ambulance. After being given a pick-up time, we took Jorie ashore in the dinghy about midnight, making our way with flashlights. We were met by MPs armed with automatic weapons, and Jorie was loaded into the van. The Ocean Rover skipper sent an English-speaking member of the crew to assist. It was a wild ride to the hospital, as the ambulance's flashing light and siren had no noticeable effect on the traffic. We were just another vehicle on a typical Saturday night.
We were expected at the hospital, and the crewmember accompanying us had arranged for an English-speaking doctor to meet us. We were told the hyperbaric chamber was broken, but they took an X-ray with a very antiquated machine. The hospital didn’t take credit cards, so I luckily had the cash to rent the bed next to Jorie and be able to buy the medicines prescribed. Although the conditions were basic, the staff was attentive and thorough.
Twenty-two hours later, we were taken to the airport and driven through a special gate to a Learjet on the tarmac. Once aboard with the pilot and copilot, and a doctor and nurse from Singapore, we took off right away. During the 3.5-hour flight, the doctor told me he did similar evacuations about twice a month. He said the cost for the plane, crew and medical team ran about $26,000.
Once we landed in Singapore, we taxied over to an ambulance and a van. We were permitted to bypass Immigration and Customs, and Jorie was taken directly to the intensive care ward at Raffles Hospital. We'd made it. I was given a room one floor away from Jorie that was designated for the traveling companions of patients.
Jorie was released after 2.5 days. When we went to the accounts section to pay up, we were handed a bill for less than $10. Payment for all other costs had already been authorized! The $10 fee was for the two phone calls we made to rearrange our travel plans.
On that day to remember, we walked down to the famous historic Raffles Hotel, home of the Singapore Sling, and each had one.
So you can imagine what we think of DAN — and the crew of Ocean Rover. We are DAN members for life.
P.S. I was crew aboard Profligate during the '00 Ha-Ha, and my daughter and I were along for Profligate's speed run from Antigua to Panama in '05. Fortunately, we didn't need DAN either time.
Tim & Jorie Ellis
Readers — Diver's Alert Network, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit medical organization, provides emergency international evacuation for its members if they fall ill or have an accident — and it doesn't have to be diving related. And DAN's plan is extremely affordable: $35/year for a single or $55/ year for a family. Check them out at www.diversalertnetwork.org.
I WOULDN'T BE HERE WITHOUT THE COAST GUARD
I just read two letters — Hats Off to the Coasties and The Coast Guard Saved My Life — in the December issue, and I want to point out that a great way to thank the Coast Guard is by donating to the Coast Guard Foundation. The foundation is set up to do things for Coast Guard commands that they can’t do with appropriated money, meaning funds given by Congress specifically for their mission. In some cases this allows them to buy computers for the guys and gals to use for personal business; books for their libraries, which is especially important in remote locales where libraries are scarce and time to read is available; gym equipment; and similar stuff. The board of directors for the Connecticut-based foundation is a great group of selfless men and women, some of whom are local to the Bay Area.
Since my Morgan 45 Painkiller sank in the Caribbean in April of '00, the Coast Guard Foundation has been my primary charity. There is a good reason. If the Coast Guard hadn't rescued me and my crew from our liferaft in the Caribbean, I wouldn’t be here to donate money to anyone.
I’m told that Lt. Jim Duval, who was the copilot of the C-130 #1717 that found us in the southern Caribbean on April 30, 2000, is now Commander Duval, and is stationed in Sacramento. As the co-pilot, he was the one who talked to me from the plane as they flew ellipses over our raft. I haven’t made contact with him, but I intend to.
By the way, I'm truly amazed that you've been able to keep the quality of Latitude as high as when you first published it so many years ago when we were young and virile.
Ron — Thanks for the great suggestion and kind words. We like to think that while we don't have as much raw energy as we once did, we have more experience and wisdom.
WHY MARINERS SHOULDN'T CLEAR AT ENSENADA
In recent years there have been a number of articles in various boating magazines — but not Latitude — touting clearing into Mexico at Ensenada. The Mexican government has a facility there where you can supposedly walk from window to window to clear through Immigration, the Port Captain and Customs, and which also contains a bank branch for paying fees. While it's true that all of these agencies are in a central location, it's been my experience that the hassles and poor attitude of the officials at those desks make it a place to be avoided.
I have cruised into Mexico five times in the past eight years, the most recent being through Ensenada just a month ago. In prior years, I have cleared into Cabo and Puerto Vallarta several times, and one other time into Ensenada on a friend's boat. In each case, it was much easier and faster than clearing in Ensenada, so why would anyone want to stop there and do it?
When I cleared into Ensenada this fall, there were at least four other boats in line to clear in or out. It took me almost two hours to go through the process, and that seemed average for the others that day. Having cleared in before, I thought I had all the necessary papers and documentation with me. But no, the immigration official at the first desk — who had by far the worst attitude of anyone in the building — said I needed a "receipt" to show I was paying for a berth at a marina in Ensenada. No official had ever requested this before. In fact, in places like Cabo, many boats clearing are anchored out and wouldn't have such a receipt. I don't know of anyone anchoring out in Ensenada anymore, but I still didn't know why I needed a marina receipt. When I got to the marina, the harbormaster said, "Oh, sometimes that's necessary." He immediately made up a receipt, then offered to drive me back to the clearance facility to save me some time. He said he had to go there anyway, to help out someone else from the harbor. I had to wait around the facility for another hour while they sent my paperwork next door to get the port captain's signature.
As I waited, I found that the couple the harbormaster had come to assist were heading north to the United States, after cruising Mexico for four years. I didn't get their name, but they told me they had left La Paz and sailed up to Ensenada on their way back to California. At the time they were leaving La Paz, the port captain said he would clear them out over the radio. The couple asked for paper documentation instead to prove that they had checked out, but the port captain insisted they didn't need it. They tried to push him a bit, but he was adamant. Sure enough, the unpleasant Immigration official in Ensenada told the couple they had to have paper showing they had cleared out of La Paz, their previous port in Mexico. When the couple said they simply did not have it, and asked what they should do, the official told said, "Go back to La Paz and get the proper paperwork."
The harbormaster from Cruiseport in Ensenada told the couple that he would call their old marina in La Paz to see if he could get paperwork faxed to his marina. But when I stopped by the next day to see how that plan turned out, I was told that the couple had been made to clear in to Ensenada as if they had never been to Mexico, pay $50 for another 10-year Temporary Import Permit, then clear out to the United States! I don't know what that cost them, but clearly it was more than they expected or was justified.
By the way, in general it appears that more port captains are requiring that boats clear in and out of each port. Usually this is easy to do, but obviously Ensenada requires paperwork, as do Puerto Vallarta and Barra de Navidad. Each of these port captains wants all boats to clear in and out, and wants paperwork from the previous port in order to clear in to his port. That is more specific than in recent years, when you frequently could just radio in when you were arriving or leaving.
Paramour, Offshore Yacht
David — We've taken our boats to Mexico for something like 18 out of the last 20 years, and while the clearing situation is a million times better than it was only five years or so ago, there can still be a few problems. And there are a couple of unofficial rules everyone should follow.
The problems are that the rules are interpreted differently by different port captains. So just as you say, some port captains won't give you a paper showing you've cleared out, while others want to see one when you arrive in the next port. Usually it's not a big problem, but what are mariners supposed to do when put in such an impossible situation by officials? In other places, we've been told the port captains want boat owners to clear in and out, even if they are just going for a daysail. But we don't know of anyone who has followed this rule or been called on it.
By the way, the port captains in La Cruz and Nuevo Vallarta are among those who want captains to make a personal appearance. It only takes a few minutes and there is no charge, but it's important to them.
The 'unofficial rules' we've learned are: 1) you never want to clear in or out of Ensenada no matter how many windows they have, and 2) you never want to clear out of La Paz for the United States, because a series of port captains there have said that you need to get medical clearance from a doctor in Cabo for your entire crew and your boat. Funny, it's the only port in Mexico where this has ever been required. The best bet is to clear out of Mexico at Cabo — where the officials have long played it straight — and do everything you can to avoid the shenanigans in Ensenada.
Soon — just before Memorial Day — we'll be headed off to a Sunsail charter in Italy. We'll be sailing out of their new base in the Procida/Naples area, and are planning to visit the islands of Ischia and Capri. We have the new Rod Heikell-authored Italian Waters Pilot, are learning Italian, and are stocking up on euros. Any other advice you can give us?
We're going as early as we are because the boats are less expensive than during the summer high season. Last year we went to the Abacos in January — and froze! Anyway, there is a constant discussion among the women in our group about the possibility of finding dreamy Italian men. When our group sailed in Greece last year, two of the women received marriage proposals.
Erik — Naples is a little rough 'n tumble, but the islands are fantastic. Our only caution is that the primary activity on Capri is dressing elegantly and seeing and being seen. If you show up in shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops, you run the risk of feeling a little out of place. Ischia is more casual. But no matter what, we predict that you're going to have a great time.
FALLING OFF THE DOCK IS SERIOUS BUSINESS
In February Sightings, Latitude's Andy Turpin brought up the rather somber topic of how to get out of the water after falling in at a marina. It’s a somber subject until it’s you in the water attempting to keep your head above the 52° water while your water-soaked clothes inhibit your efforts.
There was just such an incident in Seattle last year, when neighbors of mine helped another neighbor who had fallen in. It was at night, and they were returning to their boat when they came across a gentleman clinging to a dockline, unable to pull himself out of the water. The ironic thing was that two people were literally 10 feet from him, but couldn't hear his cries for help because they were inside their boat watching television. Timing is everything, but if my neighbors hadn't been returning to their boat at that time, the man in the water might not have survived.
A few months ago, a former neighbor wasn't so lucky, and died in an East Coast marina after falling in and not being able to get out. So the problem is perhaps more common than most people think.
When Shilshole Marina updated their facilities a few years ago, they added ladders to the docks to address this safety issue. Unfortunately, not nearly enough of them have been installed at marinas the world over, so self-rescue could still depend on nearby swim platforms or sugar scoop sterns.
So much for marina issues. I would be interested in what other mariners think regarding getting back on their own boats. The strategy of trailing a line to grab sounds good, but in reality, it would be very hard to use. Years ago, a group of us trailed a line with the loop at the end behind a boat on a warm freshwater lake. Even though the boat was only moving along at two or three knots, we were surprised at how much drag there was. It brought doubts about the practicality of self-rescue by this method.
I’ve heard of boats using a trip line to drop the stern ladder down. That would work at anchor, but I have my doubts about it working while underway. There’s also the strategy of tripping a trailing line attached to the wind vane, causing the boat to luff up. But that's not a solution for electronic autopilots.
Nothing beats talking with other mariners for ideas, so I'm asking if anybody else out there has any good ideas for self-rescue for boats at anchor — particularly non-sugar scoop boats with high freeboards.
P.S. Thanks to Andy Turpin, the Assistant Poobah, for giving a nice Ha-Ha presentation at the Seattle Boat Show.
Balance, Endeavour 43
Lani — If anyone has any advice, we're all ears.
But make no mistake, for folks who don't have terrific strength-to-body weight ratios — which includes most everyone over 30 — climbing out of the water at a marina, or climbing onto one's boat without a ladder at an anchorage, is very difficult if not impossible — particularly in cold water, where body strength usually declines rapidly. If the boat is underway, nobody is going to be able to rescue him or herself, even with a line, because the forces are much stronger than might be imagined.
Many years ago, we had a discussion with Larry Pardey about crew going overboard. He said, "We tell all our guests to make sure they hang on, because if they go overboard, they should assume they will die shortly." And he was talking about people who go overboard off crewed boats. One can only wonder what hopes he might have for a singlehander who goes overboard.
THE BIG 'A'
To follow up on your 'Lectronic item of March 8, one requirement of design package for the big A — the colossal motoryacht you jokingly identified as a 'Transformer 391' motorsailer — was that she couldn't be easily boarded by pirates, bill collectors or the occasional yachting groupie. I'm not making this up.
I've not seen the yacht up close, but from all accounts, they certainly accomplished this goal. Congratulations are in order, for this must be one of the first yachts designed to not only keep unwanted passengers off the vessel, but also prevent the guests from leaving — at least without making a big splash!
Keefe Kaplan Maritime, Inc.
Paul — The A is rather shocking the first time you see her because she is so different. But she really grew on us. In fact, after we spent most of a month in the same anchorages as her, all other mega motoryachts looked surprisingly dated. For those interested in a similar vessel, keep in mind that A's fuel bill alone for an Atlantic crossing is believed to be about $2 million.
We understand that the building and operation of such a yacht shoved technology forward and created and continues to create many jobs. Nonetheless, despite its cool and ultra-modern look, her size and carbon footprint are so over-the-top that she strikes us as being just a bit obscene.
AFTER A LONG REFIT, WE'VE FINALLY ESCAPED
We escaped Berkeley Marina on December 31 for our voyage south to La Paz and the Sea of Cortez. After seven years of slowly refitting the boat, it proved to be a good shakedown cruise. But in September, as we were preparing our Sea Wolf 38, it became obvious that we needed to replace the rig on our 41-year-old boat. All of it. Including every piece of stainless from the chainplates to the masthead. With some help from a friend and his machine shop, we rebuilt or replaced everything. Svendsen's rigging shop was particularly fantastic. Barrett, the rig shop manager, made sure that we upgraded everything when we replaced the rig, and got it done right the first time. I have to say that such professional service was truly refreshing. Our new rig was truly tested during the heavy storms that pounded the West Coast in mid-January, and I can now say with confidence that we have what appears to be as close to a bulletproof rig as can be.
Our boat has been around — including having gone around the world with the Bercaw family aboard. She's also done several laps of the South Pacific, and several trips to Mexico, Central America, and South America. At 41, seven years is the longest time she's gone without roaming. I like to think that our boat is as happy as we are to finally be cruising once again.
It came as no surprise to us that we'd have a lot of work to do, and we've rebuilt or replaced everything — and I do mean everything! Engine, tanks, plumbing, wiring and so forth. Even the original spruce masts have been rebuilt. The hull has been subjected to major work. But finally, after so many years of blood, sweat and tears, we were able to leave.
Since I'm a former teacher, we won't be cruising lavishly, and we will be required to work along the way. But it beats the heck out of staying in the Bay Area and trying to get by on a teacher's salary. Due to a contract signed between our union and West Contra Costa Schools, we teachers took a significant pay cut, and are now required to contribute $1,000/month toward our health benefits. All this on top of funding the students' classroom supplies and some curriculum out of our own pockets.
I was a bit angry — well, ok, really, really angry — but then I realized I had finally been given the perfect reason to leave and go cruising. We were already amongst the most poorly compensated teachers in the Bay Area, and had gotten hit even worse. If I had stayed around, I would have made less than an assistant manager at McDonald's — and wouldn't have had as many health benefits. So I want to send a big 'thank you' to the West Contra Costa Schools for treating the teachers so poorly, and making it so easy for me to leave.
I really will miss my students, but how can I be upset when I now wake up surrounded by clear water, warm breezes and five-peso tacos? My wife and I are both working online from the boat on a part-time basis to keep us in supplies, boat parts and plenty of local cuisine. I have also invested in learning Spanish at Se Habla La Paz — the local immersion school. After just a week, I can have basic conversations with people. The course is a bit expensive considering our budget, but I think it's a wise investment that will pay off in major dividends. While my Spanish isn't always pretty, the locals appreciate that I'm trying to communicate in their language. It's just another testament to the warmth of the Mexican people.
We plan to stay in the Sea of Cortez for the foreseeable future, and continue breaking in the boat. We're looking forward to the heat of summer and the beautiful cruising grounds that lie ahead.
While newspapers have been crumbling right and left, thanks for keeping Latitude alive and well — and most of all, free!
Natasha, Hardin Sea Wolf 38
Dan — You're not alone. In mid-March, we attended a welcome party for the Banderas Bay Regatta at Paradise Marina in Nuevo Vallarta, and were shocked at the number of sailors from California — and we're talking about people who had skills, provided professional services, owned businesses, and had paid lots of money in taxes — who told us they'd simply had enough of what had once truly been the Golden State. 'With the quality of life so good down here, why the heck would I want to continue being abused up there?' was the general sentiment. As someone who was born and raised in California, and knows every inch of the coast to the Mexican border, it grieves us to see the state in such horrible shape — and continuing to thunder unchecked on the downward path toward ever greater dysfunction.
By the way, if you're looking for jobs while cruising your boat, among the best places to consider are the islands in the Pacific that have some kind of affiliation with the United States. For an example, check out the report from the McGeorge family of Gallivanter in this month's Cruise Notes. Plus, as an experienced teacher, you have a proven skill that's a valuable commodity in many parts of the world. So good luck to you and your wife. But "looking forward to the heat of summer" in the Sea of Cortez? Holy moly, be careful what you wish for.
ANOTHER HORIZON, ANOTHER WORLD
Loads of folks told us about the January 27 'Lectronic item where you wrote about our being in the guest book for the Raffles Marina in Singapore. But if it had been our boat, it would have been Another Horizon, not Another World. But who's paying attention? We're just thrilled that you remember who we are after all these years. And it was fun to see the names — with or without all the other information — of the cruising friends from the time we spent in Singapore.
Tina Olton & Steve Salmon
ex-Another Horizon, Valiant 40
San Francisco Bay Area
Tina and Steve — Of course, we remember you. We also remember hanging out together at the marina in Ixtapa when it was brand new, as well as in other places.