Letters – by Our Readers


Hello Pat,

Finally, an article warning boaters and others about the dangers of electricity leaking from boats and marina electrical systems into the water. In 1999 a Seattle electrician and his nurse wife lost their 10-year-old son, Lucas Ritz after he jumped into the water at a marina with the best possible life jacket and died of an electrical shock later proved to be from a nearby powerboat with bad wiring. Some teenagers and his nurse mother who went into the water to rescue him, barely escaped a similar fate.

Thanks, Pat, for educating Yachtsman Magazine readers to this peril to save lives.

Gene Beley,


Good to hear from you and thank you for sharing that tragic story.

I hope others can learn from my articles and sad stories such as yours. It seems that around boats with 240 VAC, power just does not get the respect that it deserves. We all know from our early years that electricity and water do not mix, yet somehow potentially deadly electricity on our boats just doesn’t get the consideration that it should.

New standards from the ABYC, NEC, NFPA, UL and others are going a long way towards making our shore power systems safer. In this month’s article I look at the 2022 accident statistics and fortunately there were no reported deaths from electrocution due to stray current related to a vessel down from one in 2021 and four in 2020.

Happy New Year!


Greetings Bill,

I’m a long-time reader since the Hal Schell days (yes, as someone said you are carrying the torch exceptionally.) I’m no longer a boat owner but I’m immersed in the environment as Riverpoint Landing and Delta Marina are my two favorite RV parks where I spend many days fishing and taking in the boat traffic. While I’m aware of and totally against the water project I must admit I haven’t paid too much attention to the specifics as to why the intakes would be so far north and where the tunnels would lead to. Would they end at the Tracy South Delta pumping stations or keep going south? I simply don’t understand why this new project is being proposed when we already have two canals bringing water south.

I’ve travelled I-5 long enough to know that those canals are always full and flowing, always. Please enlighten me and your readers as to why the water needs to be “grabbed” somewhere else?

Mike Billmann


Thank you for writing. As I write this, Governor Newsom and the Department of Water Resouces (DWR) have just announced their plan to move forward with diverting the Sacramento River around the Delta. They plan to build intakes on both sides of the tiny town of Hood which will destroy it while providing fresher water for export to the south. The tunnel alignment will be more easterly than proposed before, following along I-5. It would eventually be pumped into Bethany Reservoir which is south of the existing Tracy pumping station. DWR says the tunnel has a 6,000 cubic foot per second capacity, but it is the intakes that have a 6,000 CFS capacity. The tunnel could transport much more water than that; it could take the entire Sacramento River at times. The DWR says the project will yield 500,000-acre feet of water per year. Experts say the water will have a price tag of over $4,000 per acre foot. Of course, they have not completed any new storage to hold this water. There would be a 12-to-15-year construction process and there will be a huge negative impact on our fish and wildlife if this boondoggle is ever brought to fruition. We need to create new water, not take it from one group and give it to another. We have caught these people lying so many times I don’t think you can believe anything they say. Gene Beley has done a good job of exposing them, look him up on YouTube and you can see many encounters he has had with DWR and other state officials about the water situation. He is so good they would not renew his press pass.


Morning Jackie,

Just wanted to write to say I really enjoy your first-hand articles about boating on the Bay, and beyond. It’s the main reason I pick up a copy of the Yachtsman Magazine each month. I felt like I was there as you described your sail up to Tomales Bay and anchored out. I especially enjoyed your December article describing your trip to Europe. And thank you for including photos of the unique and beautiful bridges you came across. I was (now semi-retired) a bridge engineer for the U.S. Forest Service in California, designing road and trail bridges in some beautiful landscapes. Some we had to reach by riding in on horseback, or dropping in by helicopter.

Your description and photos of the waterways and people in the Dutch countryside was very descriptive and interesting. It sort of reminded me of the scenes in a shallow water sailing adventure book I read many years ago titled, “The Riddle of the Sands.” A fun read, and it was made into a movie, too.

I’ve been crewing and sailing/racing in the Bay Area since 1975. We kept a little 1977 Pacific Seacraft 25 (stout double-ended sloop) in the Vallejo Marina for 23 years. My oldest son recently took over ownership and moved Dash to the Berkeley Marina, mostly because she kept going aground in the Vallejo Marina, even after only drawing 3.5 feet. They haven’t dredged in years.

Well, enough of my rambling. Thanks again for your interesting articles and have a Merry Christmas.

Chris Shields

Hi Chris,

Thank you very much for your email regarding my stories in the Yachtsman Magazine. I was especially pleased to read that you felt you were there with me because of my description of Tomales Bay. That is exactly what I try to convey when I write and it was kind of you to respond.

It sounds like you yourself also enjoyed some pretty interesting times designing road and trail bridges. If you have photographs of the bridges you designed I would personally enjoy seeing them.

And if you have any family photographs of you and your family on S/V Dash it would be great fun to share one or two of them in the magazine. If you were to set your iPhone to high resolution and photograph the photograph, then email a copy to me here, we could do that. It would be fun. What do you think?

Thank you again for taking the time to write. I will keep an eye out for Dash and your son on the water.

Jackie Philpott

Bay & Delta Yachtsman Magazine

Hi Captain Pat,

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season and am looking forward to reading your next piece. Recently, my family is in the final stages of purchasing a new to them, 53-foot Navigator.

The boat is currently down in Oxnard, California and we plan to bring it up to the Delta as soon as it is safe to transit the coast, especially around Point Conception. Considering that Point Conception has a reputation for being rough, we want to make sure we pick a good weather window to make the journey. What sources do you know that give accurate weather a week in advance? Also, which web sites do you use when planning a delivery that involves going up the coast and particularly around Point Conception?



Congratulations on the new yacht. I owned a Navigator 56 for many years and put over 10,000 ocean miles on her with many voyages from Cabo to Alaska. She was a fine vessel and served us well.

Making a coastal voyage with family and friends can be a fun and rewarding experience or a disaster. Careful planning and ocean experience are the keys to a safe and comfortable journey. Unfortunately, there are no good weather forecast information sources that you can use for planning a week in advance. Various sources such as WINDY, PASSAGE WEATER and PREDICT WIND all are very useful but have the same limitations in that forecasts seven days out are just unreliable. The issue is that each of these forecasters bases their predictions on different weather models and they usually do not agree with each other. I use all of those sources in addition to the vast array of information available from the NOAA website to collect data, interpret the information and then develop a voyage plan. Although we start looking at the long-range data several weeks in advance we don’t usually pull the trigger on a departure date further than two days out.

Point Conception can be rough or flat calm and can be safely navigated at midday or midnight, but keep in mind that there are other areas that require equally careful planning such as Pt. Sur and Point Ano Nuevo. I have had some of my most uncomfortable legs along the coast of Point Piedras Blancas when the forecast data from the previous day indicated the seas to be reasonable.

As I write this at the end of December, I am planning for a coastal voyage and have been consulting weather forecast data twice a day for almost two weeks. One day I see departure winds and the next day it is gone. Then a new weather system develops in the Pacific that may or may not impact the Pacific Coast in seven days. Remember, the sea conditions on the day of departure are just the beginning. You need to consider where you will be the next day and the day after that and will you still have suitable conditions to continue the voyage. If the conditions are worse than expected and your SOG is significantly slower than expected what are the options for making a safe harbor. Will the bar conditions be acceptable if you do need to make an unplanned stop.

Plan, plan, plan but be flexible. Do not let schedule force you into making a bad decision.

Pleasant journeys and a happy new year. Thank you for writing.


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