Mailbag: Catamaran took him around the globe

John Conser of Costa Mesa, a designer and builder of the Conser 47 catamaran, greeted David Pollitt, proud owner of the Conser 47, Shearwater, upon David's completion of a three-year, solo circumnavigation around the world.

"Congratulations, David, on your close loop return," he said.

David was not your usual catamaran sailor, in fact he had not sailed a cat. David is a Julliard graduate and a former symphony conductor and has a captain's license from Chapman School of Seamanship in Stuart.

John was available to help David with anything he might need because David was going on an odyssey that John had always wanted to go on himself. They became good friends over the Net, as David shared his adventures, John, his boating experience.

David's parting words were, "Hello, I am about to head across the Pacific on Shearwater, my 47-foot racing/cruising magnificent catamaran. All I need to do is learn to trust the boat. It's a temperamental boat capable of some very high speeds, and so will require careful attention and care."

"Capable" was the word, the 47 could do 25-plus knots all day, and if the wind and sea were helpful, 30-plus was not out of the question. The Kevlar wing mast was one of the lightest, strongest masts ever made by Forespar and would create its own sailing speeds.

David started out at Riviera Beach Marina, Fla., on his way to Panama Canal, Galapagos, Marquesas, Tahiti, Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Australia.

Basically the Pacific Ocean, around the Cape of Good Hope, though the south Atlantic Ocean, with the longest leg being 44 days from Ascension Island off the west coast of Africa to Riviera Beach Marina, in the good old United States.

He was greeted by Gypsy and his good friend from Chapman, his wife, Linda, and John Conser. Horns were blowing and flags flying all of Riviera Beach Marina. David's family and friends were waiting on the dock along with newspapers, magazine and TV people. The Riviera Marina people who had been there when he left were happy to greet him again, the solo sailor with the 47-foot wing mast catamaran.

"I faced an antagonistic ocean," Pollitt told his friends as he docked his 47-foot catamaran. "Even though I faced 50-foot waves, sharks and even the threat of pirates, much of my time was peaceful.

"You'd go from pretty rough seas and then suddenly it'd turn into absolute glass. The whole sea, for hundreds of miles , was totally glass. All in all it was three years of tremendous emotional extremes and I want to say thank you to my boat, Shearwater. We have shared a lot."

Shearwater looked better than when she was launched. David took excellent loving care.

"Out there is a person like me who will find Shearwater for their adventure," David said. "Maybe me," thought John Conser, "maybe me."

Geri Conser

Costa Mesa


Overhaul our schools

I believe that education should be a top priority. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Sacramento. Once again in 2012, the governor's budget proposes cutting education so that more money can go into social service programs.

This year, like years before, my Republican colleagues and I found some areas that can be cut back to help protect education.

In March, we proposed a "Roadmap to Protect Classrooms and Taxpayers" to avoid any tax increases and to protect schools. However, rather than using this roadmap to avoid cuts in education, the governor's revised budget instead takes $2 billion worth of these solutions to fund other priorities.

One of the residual effects of the state annually underfunding education is that every March 15, more than 20,000 teachers receive a pink slip in the mail informing them they may not have a job when classes begin in the fall. This is before school districts know what their budgets will look like because the state's budget isn't due until June 30. This means teachers are sent layoff notices before school districts have the full budget picture and before they know how many teachers are needed. This wreaks havoc on teacher morale.

A recent report from the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) states that the "layoff time line is disconnected from both the state budget cycle and the availability of critical local information. Because of this misalignment, the number of teachers that are initially noticed typically far exceeds the number of teachers that are actually laid off for the following school year." In other words, most teachers who receive a pink slip should never get one in the first place.

Even worse, by law, school districts must give final termination notices by mid-May. Again, this is before schools even know how much money they will be receiving from the state. Sending out these pink slips well before the state's budget is finalized serves no legitimate purpose. In fact, according to the LAO report, "Out of every 10 teachers that are pink-slipped, roughly half are given final layoff notices and only two or three are not rehired prior to the beginning of the school year."

This system needs reform. Teachers shouldn't be receiving layoff notices until schools have the budget numbers needed to make informed decisions.

It is difficult for a teacher to come into a classroom and instruct students while knowing he or she might need to find a new job before the next school year begins. When teachers are worried about their jobs, it can affect classroom performance. Students are the ones who get the short shrift.

Early in my career in the Assembly, I tried to address this problem with Assembly Bill X3 32, which required that the deadline for notice of termination be made in June to coincide with the state budget cycle.

Unfortunately, ABX3 32 did not move forward because of strong union opposition. The argument was that teachers need time to find employment if they are going to be laid off. That may be true, but getting a notice in June or early July instead of March still leaves teachers time to find jobs at other schools. I know of no other sector that is mandated by law to give six months' notice to employees that they might be laid off.

Serving layoff notices four months before a budget is signed and six months before the school year begins is bad policy. A better practice would be to let districts finish their budgets and then send out layoff notices if needed. This will dramatically cut down the number of pink slips mailed out and reduce unnecessary stress for teachers and students alike.

It is important to protect our teachers and make sure that our children are receiving the proper education. One common-sense way to start is to reform the pink slip process.

Jim Silva

Huntington Beach

The writer is the assemblyman for the 67th District.


Project on Lido

It's not bad enough that we have two Newport Beach councilmen, Mike Henn — a dear friend of developer Fritz Duda's — and Rush Hill — an architect/developer — having major input on the Village Lido plan who have a stake in this major production. We now have former Mayor Tod Ridgeway getting favorable treatment from the Planning Commission ("Height increases approved," June 12).

A roomful of Lido Isle residents sat through an amazing, obfuscating lecture from Mr. Hill the other night. Example: Great emphasis was placed on the "fact" that nothing is really cast in concrete. We're listening closely to the community, of course.

Don't worry about parking, because we're looking at putting parking here and 18-foot sidewalks there, and moving the big boats, so we're open to the bay, and here's pictures of what they've done in the Cayman Islands and blah, blah, blah. However, when questioned about when all this was supposed to fall in place, Mr. Hill said he hoped by Christmas 2012. And they aren't beyond the planning stages? Nonsense!

Nora Lehman

Newport Beach


A letter to dad

Dear Dad, I'm a big girl now, seeing that I'm almost 5 months old, and I just want to tell you what a great job you're doing! I love when you sing to me and give me kisses, take me on walks with Bear, but most importantly I love when you hold my hand in those quiet moments and tell me you love me. Hand in hand, I look forward to a lifetime with my Daddy by my side!


Lexington, "Lexi" Moore



Wisconsin recall election

Gov. Scott Walker's successful stand against the hordes of union bosses and their allies is a credit to the army of citizen patriots who marched to Wisconsin from the four corners of the United States in his defense. Their efforts recall the determination of our founding colonists. This is a welcome and heartening signal of the awakening of a spirit that defines America's greatness. It suggests that the Republic can yet be saved.

The colonists revolted when King George imposed a tax on tea and an order to garrison troops in their taverns and homes. The news spread like wildfire and ignited the War for Independence. Fast forward to 2010 to witness the start of a similar revolt.

The failure of the Union's last stand lies in the success of the Internet and the social media, with their vast network of bloggers like Matt Drudge, Victor Davis Hanson, Thomas Sowell and Mark Steyn. It has been said that the pen is mightier than the sword. Walker's victory is eloquent testimony of its power.

Governments can no longer keep information hidden and secret. Samuel Johnson, Thomas Paine and Ben Franklin in olden times alerted their fellows through the written word of their correspondence, newsletters and diaries. Their online heirs are doing the same with laptops and iPads.

America is a deeply religious Christian nation. We are a very generous, tolerant, peaceful people. What makes us unique is our fierce love of independence and liberty.

It has been attenuated and threatened by several generations of political and cultural assaults, but it remains in our hearts like an eternal source of hope. Before the Japanese strike on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto presciently worried that the attack would only awaken a Sleeping Giant and "fill him with a terrible resolve." In that terrible resolve lies what is not only exceptional but extraordinary about our country. America is the greatest nation in the history of Western Civilization. She is the world's last best hope.

Although threatened by enemies from within, as Abraham Lincoln warned, a new generation of younger cowboys and techno-patriots have provided her with generals like Walker, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Allen West, Arthur Davis, Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan, whose single-minded mission is to save our Republic. Theirs is a noble campaign.

But in truth, it is in our hands that the fate of our future lies. Thanks to the electronic media, a quintessential invention of the remarkable American mind, the citizen bloggers, we have re-awakened the sleeping giant. I pray for our success.

Dr. R. Claire Friend

Newport Beach


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