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Belle Mente Drops Rig at St. Barth

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-04-18 19:52

Things were looking good, and then they weren’t. Photo by Christoph Jouany. Posted April 18, 2014

No details. Just an announcement that the rig failed before the start of racing for the day at Les Voiles de St. Barth.

We do, however, have a word from Sean Doogie Couvreax.

The word is, “bummed.”

China Sea Race: Ragamuffin is First In

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-04-18 14:13

“The” Asian blue water classic since 1962, Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s 600-mile crossing to Subic Bay, Manila brings out the best hardware in that part of the world. Ever his own man, Aussie Syd Fischer is there, and “there” is already April 19 from a start on Wednesday, April 16. Here’s the word:

After 57h 31m 18s of racing, Syd Fischer finally steered his 90 foot Maxi, Ragamuffin 90, over the line to claim line honours for the 2014 Rolex China Sea Race. Having successfully maintained a boat speed of 9 to 13kts for
564nm, the boat hit a hole in the last mile to leave the frustrated crew sitting motionless for an hour within sight of the finish line.

On the dock, asked about the light winds forecast for the race, Fischer said, “that’s why this is a good boat – the modifications helped a lot – we got the breeze that we anticipated but the boat sails well above the wind strength.”
Boat captain David Witt added “it’s something to be 87 and on the rail all day. There are 22 year olds … who could get a bit of inspiration from an 87 year old.” Witt was pleased with the timing of their finish, notwithstanding the wait at the finish line, noting that “you don’t want to be entering (Subic Bay) early in the morning.”

The competition for IRC Overall is still wide open, with Freefire, Lucky and Hi Fi all within 2nm of each other, a few miles ahead of Antipodes and due to finish around 0800hrs on Saturday. The 52 footers are all at the top of the
IRC projected leaderboard, with Standard Insurance Centennial due to finish around four hours later. The race management team is then in for a busy night, with most of IRC Racing 1 still at sea.

For more on the Rolex China Sea Race, go to the race web site.

Lullaby and Good Night

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-04-18 01:33
I haven’t slept in nine days.  I don’t mean that in a cool, James Bond,  I’m-in-a-tiny-room-with-a-bright-light-being-tortured-for-the-location-of-the-secret-files kind of way.  No rescue missions required.  No, I’m just on vacation with Erik and the kids.  And I’ll tell you something: sleeping on land is the worst.


Even in the marina, the boat moves a little.  Just a very gentle sway, back and forth, back and forth.  But enough to lull even the most hard-core insomniac into dreamland.  And, at anchor?  Please.  It is so comfy that I’m surprised we are awake more than three hours a day.  Even my mother, a woman who considers it perfectly reasonable to wake up at 1 am and start the day, can sleep on Papillon.  Really, I should ditch this whole writing gig and turn Papillon into a trendy, vastly-overpriced sleep clinic.  Since I’m naturally cranky, we would have to be the mean kind of fancy spa – put the guests to work repairing lines and varnishing teak during the day, feed them a big, starchy meal and send them to bed by 7 pm.  Twelve hours later, they would be clutching at my skirt, begging to do it all over again. I get tired at night.  I like my eight hours – that’s just the way I’m built.  So when I finally crawl into bed, I look forward to it just like I look forward to the other parts of my day.  I read a little, then drift off.  Easy as pie.  And when the sun comes up, I am refreshed.  I open my eyes, warbling like Snow White, little forest animals nuzzling at my elbows, ready to start my daylight activities. Not so on land. For one thing, the mattress is all wrong.  How is anyone supposed to sleep sunk into a pool of over-engineered memory foam?  Does my back really need that much coddling?  No.  It makes me feel like I’m being eaten by a marshmallow.  The hard mattresses are even worse.  Instead of just laying a blanket on a board, like any reasonable human being would do, the hard mattress-makers build a foot-thick concrete pad, add some poky springs for laughs, and charge you for the privilege. So there you lay in the dark.  There are no lee-boards, so you’re clutching at the covers, waiting to be thrown out of bed at any moment.  You’re about seven feet off the ground, because apparently thick = better these days.  And you’re not moving.  No sweet mother ocean rocking you to sleep.  No gentle breezes gliding down the hatch above you.  No moon, no stars.  Just you, a white hotel ceiling, and a bed so still you might as well be sleeping in an abandoned factory. Come to think of it, forget the sleep clinic.  I’m going to invent a moving bed.  Nothing fancy – just four inches of foam on a plank, set into a frame that gently rolls like the ocean.  Get your pre-orders in now, people.  You’ll never look at a motionless bed again.

Simrad ForwardScan, a challenge to EchoPilot FLS?

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-04-17 17:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 17, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

While Simrad announced ForwardScan at the Miami Boat Show, details are scarce and the concept diagram doesn’t really show what a ForwardScan screen is going to look like. Yes, like other Forward Looking Sonar (FLS) systems, the goal is to display the water column and ocean floor in front of the vessel to “help boaters eliminate the worry of potential groundings in unfamiliar waters,” and yes, FowardScan is the first FLS to be fully integrated into a multifunction display system. Well, I’ve hounded Simrad for more information — all of which sounds good — and it also looks like I will get to test ForwardScan against what seems like the most similar existing product…


First there’s the news that the $699 ForwardScan option will not require a black box. There will simply be a software update to the Simrad NSS evo2 combo displays that already include CHIRP Sonar and StructureScan HD, after which an installer can just plug the ForwardScan transducer into that #7 port shown above. Obviously one NSS evo2 can not be connected to both Structure- and ForwardScan transducers, but if you have two MFDs on the network, both will be able to show both types of sonar (as well as regular fishfinding). The SonarHub module will get a similar update, so it will be another way to get ForwardScan (plus more varieties of CHIRP) onto a Simrad network, including existing NSS Sport, NSE, and NSO displays {correction: SonarHub works with older Simrad MFDs but ForwardScan will only work on evo2 models}. (I presume that B&G Zeus2 displays will also get ForwardScan capability eventually, as FLS is a type of sonar that keelboaters tend to care about :-)

Simrad has published a photo of the ForwardScan transducer, which fits in a standard Airmar retractable housing. In fact, I understand that they may soon offer a housing kit so that anxious boaters will be prepared when the transducer ships, possibly “midsummer”. I believe it will consist of a stainless SS617 housing and some fairing material, so the transducer can be installed vertical to the waterline. I’m going to use a similar bronze B617 in the same forward keel 2-inch hole where an Airmar DST800 smart transducer has worked pretty well, but that plastic housing is not recommended due to the leverage possible with a transducer that protrudes from the bottom about two inches. (Given the standard housing and built-in water valve, I could conceivably switch back to the DST800 or even the Airmar CA500 underwater camera I’ve long wanted to try, though I’m optimistic that ForwardScan will be worth a long test.)

At any rate, note the similarity between the Simrad FLS transducer and the slightly larger EchoPilot transducer I installed about 12 years ago on good old Ralph. Indeed, ForwardScan will also project a narrow vertical sonar beam (about 10 x 85 degrees) that will extend from straight down — hence the depth reading directly below the transducer — forward and up almost to the water surface. And I’m told that ForwardScan will also use a bottom profile display something like what EchoPilot has evolved over the years, though purportedly “better”.

Now that particular small, monochrome EchoPilot Bronze display above is the bottom of their line, and I’m not sure I ever saw it at its best (there may have been a connector issue), but even when I didn’t completely trust the Bronze to show me underwater obstructions ahead, my eye still wanted to check it out while poking around in unfamiliar and/or skinny waters. Not many boaters have tried even low end FLS, but that’s a natural display to use and potentially quite valuable.

Meanwhile, EchoPilot may be a small UK-based company (renowned for their satirical Christmas cards) but they’ve stayed focused on developing FLS. Their products are also now enthusiastically distributed in the U.S. by Gemeco, who approached me last fall about testing the Platinum FLS Video Engine seen above (putting FLS on a Garmin MFD). Gemeco said that many of their dealers, particularly along the rocky West Coast, report happy EchoPilot customers, and they wanted to get the word out. That was before Simrad ForwardScan was announced at less than half the price and it seemed possible for me to test both FLS systems head-to-head, but EchoPilot is confident that it will do well in comparison. The challenge is on!

Before this comparison can happen, I have much installation work to do and ForwardScan has to make it out of the development lab. The possibilities for safer, more relaxed cruising and exploring are exciting — and my PassageMaker friend Peter Swanson seems to share the feeling — but I will attempt to be reasonable about expectations because I know that looking ahead with sonar is hard. Back in 2002, I interviewed several FLS users for a still-online PMY article that’s aptly subtitled “Magic it’s not, but cruisers who understand forward-looking sonar’s limits are pleased with what it can do for them.” The EchoPilot demo screens above tell some of the story. A narrow forward fan beam cannot capture the bottom detail that can be created when a similar beam is fired sideways and added to the display line by line. EchoPilot also warns that its FLS cannot see ahead more than 8 times the current depth, and only promises a range of 200 meters in deep water (and I rarely see screenshots greater than 100m).

I understand that Simrad ForwardScan will have the same range and depth limitations, but maybe their engineers can tweak a clearer bottom profile out of a similar sonar beam, or maybe there’s something quite different about their beam. There’s a lot of nuance to this technology that we may never know, but we will eventually see the results. And let’s not forget that Garmin’s active sonar team has access to the assets of FLS developer Interphase, or that Furuno also seems to have relevant intellectual property and once previewed the intriguing FL-7000. Raymarine is no sonar slouch either, and the impressive seeming CPT-120 CHIRP sonar and downview transducer is also going in poor Gizmo’s bottom.

Finally, it’s fun to see what’s possible with a large budget for complex FLS transducers and processors. Gemeco reports that the $10,000 EchoPilot FLS 3D is also doing well (in a much smaller market) and the FarSounder demo videos are ever more impressive, with a claimed 3D 1/2 mile range even at 25 knots (though at about 10x the cost). It’s also possible to put a high-end multibeam sonar into a superyacht tender and send the data back to the mother ship over WiFi, which is what’s happening with a new WASSP feature illustrated below. (Come to think of it, most any tender could be equipped with the recently discussed SonarPhone T-Box.) Do you see some form of forward looking sonar in your boating future?

Click here to read comments about this Panbo entry, or add your own.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-04-17 12:56

The visit count to my blog has shot up the last few days. I guess it helps if actually blog once and a while. I’ll try to keep it up. I hope my Taiwanese friends are enjoying the posts.
I think I might blog the Baba’s next. I’m thinking about doing it on WORD then pasting it here. There are some odd idiosyncrasies to this blog program  that are annoying. I’ll see what I can do.

But for now I feel the need to get this photo of FRANCIS LEE published. The photo was taken by Jan of Jan’s Marine Photography last Saturday when she was out photographing the regatta. She came on over and snapped a few shots of FRANCIS. This photo is my favorite.

I’ll tell you what I really don’t like about sailing FRANCIS. That’s when I have to let someone else steer. I sat there so patiently on Saturday while Kim, the owner drove the boat. Damn owners. He thinks he owns the boat! I finally couldn’t stand it any longer, “Let me drive, let me drive, let me drive!” Kim said, “I was wondering how long you would let me steer.” Then of course there was Derek, Kim’s son. He had to drive. And Becca, and Allison and John. Man, can;t they just shut up and be content to sit there and enjoy the ride. Noooooooo. They have to steer. I sit with my arms folded, trying to look like I like just riding along. But I’m faking it. ” Let me drive, damn it!”

Fact is I love watching people’s faces light up when they steer Francis. FRANCIS really conveys the joy of moving along efficiently under sail with minimal effort. Allison had never sailed a boat before Saturday. My pal Dr. John’s sailing experience was limited to two cruises on a Catalina 22. How you gonna keep him down on the farm now?

Artemis Racing Bumps up Design Team

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-04-17 11:51

One of the questions I hear a lot goes, how many entries are we going to see for America’s Cup 35 – wherever it happens? My number for that is six, which is a bet that the French and the Brits both will get funding. Beyond that, I’m counting on the Aussies as challenger of record, New Zealand, the Italians of Luna Rossa, and the Swedish team of Artemis, which continues to operate out of its base in the East Bay of San Francisco Bay. Here is their latest—KL

ALAMEDA, 17th April 2014 – Artemis Racing announced today that it has signed Vincent Lauriot-Prévost, Simon Watin, Juan Garay and Matthew Davis, who will join the design team as Artemis Racing prepares for a possible 35th America’s Cup bid.

Both Vincent Lauriot-Prévost and Simon Watin join from VPLP Design, a world leader in multihull racing and super yacht design founded in 1983. During the 34th America’s Cup they were part of the America’s Cup Race Management design and research team, established to create an initial design package for the high-tech wing-sailed AC72 catamarans.

Vincent Lauriot-Prévost is a naval architect and co-founder of VPLP Design based in France. During his career Lauriot-Prévost has contributed to some of the most advanced racing prototype projects, including the design of the six last winners of La Route du Rhum, the record holders of the transatlantic (New York – Lizard) and round the world (Jules Verne Trophy) races, as well as BMW ORACLE Racing’s trimaran USA 17, winner of the 33rd America’s Cup.

“Having always been at the cutting edge of fast multihull design from the early age of VPLP Design, we were first involved in the America’s Cup challenge in 2007, when the Cup turned definitively to multihulls,” said the naval architect. “This time, it is a great opportunity to collaborate with Artemis Racing on such a great foiling racing cat project, at this ultimate level of technology in the America’s Cup.”

A specialist in performance prediction, Watin graduated as a fluid mechanics engineer before specializing in naval architecture. In 2011 he joined the VPLP Yacht Design office in France where he developed in-house performance prediction and Computational Fluid Dynamics capabilities, and was involved in maxi racing trimaran projects (Prince de Bretagne 80, Sodebo 4 and Macif 100), as well as Open 60 projects (Safran 2 and Banque Populaire) for the 2016 Vendée Globe Race.

“I’m really excited to be part of the Artemis Racing team,” said Watin. “They have done an amazing job putting together a group of people that are not only very talented and experienced but also team players, and it is really motivating for me personally to have the chance to work in such an environment. Accurately predicting the performance of these boats will be quite a challenge, and we will have to sharpen our tools to be able make the right choices before launching the boats, especially since the sailing time may well be restricted.”

Artemis Racing also welcomes back British electronics engineer Matthew Davis and Argentine aero designer Juan Garay.

Davis studied electrical and instrumentation engineering in Southampton, andhas sailed as navigator, engineer and crew member in multiple maxi yacht races including the Rolex Transatlantic Yacht Race and Maxi Worlds. In 2009 he received the Navigator’s Award for 1st in class for LA to Hawaii Transpac Race.

Matthew was Team Telefónica’s instrument engineer for both the 2008 and 2011 Volvo Ocean Races. The 35th America’s Cup will be his third campaign following the 32nd with Victory Challenge and the 34th with Artemis Racing.

Garay has over 20 years of experience in sail design with North Sails South America, and has been involved in a variety of classes and circuits since 1990.

Juan started designing sails for Team GBR in 2006 and worked with Iain Percy, Andrew Simpson and Ben Ainslie on multiple Olympic campaigns including Beijing 2008 and London 2012. He was the sail designer for Team Origin and +39 Challenge, and the 35th America’s Cup will be his second campaign with Artemis Racing, leading the aero program development.

“I am excited to work again with such a fantastic team,” said Garay. “I have great memories of working with Iain and Bart on two successful Olympic campaigns. We worked extremely hard but managed to enjoy it at the same time. Having that collaborative and open environment in an America’s Cup team is extremely motivating.”

“We are pleased to welcome Simon and Vincent into the team, and have Juan and Matthew back with us,” said Artemis Racing design team coordinator Adam May. “Simon came to us highly recommended by a number of sources, while Vincent’s experience with big multihulls is undeniable. Juan and Matt are returning Artemis team members who bring with them a wealth of experience and great attitude in their respective areas. We continue to slowly grow our team, working hard to find the right fit of people within the group, and are fortunate to have had no shortage of great people reaching out to us, interested in getting involved,” concluded May.

Coast Guard Boardings: My Number Was Up

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-04-17 11:26


After writing the posts about Coast Guard Boardings, I was wondering when my number would come up again. It came up last weekend.

The boarding and paper-checking were routine, but some of the things the boarding officer told me were not.

To backtrack a bit, from some of the comments from my posts, some think I’m taking a crack at the Coast Guard, but this is NOT the case. I’m taking a crack at Title 14 section 89 of the United States Code, which I think should be repealed or revised, especially with regard to recreational craft in domestic waters. I’ve got complete respect for the US Coast Guard, and don’t blame them at all, because it’s not their fault. They’re just doing their jobs, and doing them very well, I might add. Given that they have “one of the most sweeping grants of police authority ever to be written into U.S. law,” instances of abuse or rudeness are almost nonexistent. As I’ve said before, they’re usually very polite.

Friendly guys on a tough mission:

Now back to my boarding. The boarding officer, after asking if there were any guns aboard, told me that this was a terrorist sweep, not a suspicionless search, or what they often call a safety inspection. He said they were part of a special anti-terrorist task force, funded for the purpose, and that we could tell they were part of the anti-terrorist task force because their bow-mounted machine gun was uncovered. I guess in a regular search the gun stays covered.

Their uncovered machine gun:

That’s a mighty big gun, if I do say so myself, I believe an M240. I wonder if one of those things has ever been fired in anger in domestic waters, and if so, under what circumstances?

Anyway, he said that because this was a terrorist check they wouldn’t be checking any of our safety gear and the like, just my papers and ID. This made it all go very quickly. He checked my documentation, my driver’s license, and then asked for my phone number, which I gave him. We’ve been dating ever since. He said that there have been a lot of boat thefts lately (there haven’t) and that their mission was to make sure everyone driving a boat is who they say they are.

All very polite and routine, but still, being unexpectedly boarded by heavily-armed men always raises my pulse a bit, and we were right in the middle of hors d’oeurves.

Part of the stated goal of Coast Guard boardings in general, and especially the goal of this new anti-terrorism task force, is to protect against the “small boat threat.” There has never been an act of terrorism carried out from a boat in the United States. I’m not saying it won’t happen, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t take steps to guard against it, but it’s not something that just happens every day, more specifically, it’s never happened.

The only instance of the small boat threat becoming reality was the Al Qaeda suicide attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, which killed 17 American sailors and injured 38. A similar attack against a French tanker, also in Yemen, happened a few years later, but nobody was killed. While tragic, these attacks happened in foreign countries, and were carried out against a military target in one instance, a tanker in the another.

I agree that the small boat threat could become reality in US waters. I agree that the Coast Guard should take active steps against it. Patrolling high-profile targets, like the America’s Cup, military bases, tank farms, and refueling depots is probably an effective tactic. Pursuing vessels engaged in suspicious activity (as would be allowed under the Fourth Amendment under probable cause) is probably an effective tactic. Collecting intelligence on suspicious activities that might lead to an act of terrorism from a boat (also permitted under Fourth Amendment, leading to a search warrant) is probably an effective tactic.

Randomly boarding one of the twelve million registered recreational boats in America is not an effective tactic.

Battery bank replacement: power projects aboard

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-04-17 07:40

More than six months ago our battery bank ticked past the five year mark. That’s a pretty good life for marine AGMs, so we’ve been thinking for a while about where and how it would be replaced. You can’t always count on easy access to boat bits in the islands of Southeast Asia, so the big concern is that the bank would nosedive in an inconvenient location with complicated and costly results. We wanted to wait as long as possible, but expected it to become necessary at any moment, making it the top priority in a string of power projects on Totem but one that hung in the air for several months.

What we put in

Totem has AGMs (Absorbed Glass Matt), the deep-cycle sealed batteries commonly used on cruising boats. As we talked to other cruisers in the area, many reported good results with AGM batteries sourced from a local manufacturer. Good batteries, fresh from the factory, with minimal shipping cost (heavy batteries can make it absurdly expensive): a perfect combination. We just had to make our existing bank last long enough to get to the Malay peninsula!

When they finally arrived, it took a couple of dinghy loads to manage the weight. Each one is heavier than Jamie! Thank goodness for friends in the cruising family to help get them on board. If you’ve been on Totem’s Facebook page recently, you already saw how handy the dinghy davits were for loading these monsters on board. They came in really handy, not just to have purchase on the weight, but because could swing them out over the dinghy, then back over the deck, vastly simplifying the transfer.

Tweaking location

Moving weight on the boat was a meaningful side benefit of the project. Totem has listed slightly to starboard since we bought her in 2007. This is primarily the result of tankage being moved around from the original plans, skewing weight on the starboard side. Our house battery bank was also located on the starboard side, just under the nav station (photo above). For the new batteries, Jamie built a box under our bunk in the aft cabin. This would create a significant weight shift: with about 400 lbs coming off the starboard side, and over 600 going in just to port, we might just get a flat boat.

Of course, it’s never as simple as just building a box. Over a period of several weeks, Jamie built out the box for the new set under our bunk: grinding down fiberglass (wow, that’s a lot of fine dust), fitting lumber to make a strong base (discovering the many lumber yards on Langkawi!), and building the frame up (I love the smell of polyester resin in the morning…not) to securely hold the new bank. It was a lot of work.

before wiring, double-checking with Calder

What about Lithium?

Lithium batteries are getting more common on boats and we’re familiar with some installations that get raves from their owners, on the yachts Tahina and Nimrod. They have some great benefits: because they can be drained more deeply (and charged more fully) without affecting their lifetime use, which provides far more usable power for the same total amp hours in a bank. Their lifetime value- amps delivered vs cost- is superior. This saves weight, too, a meaningful factor on some boats.

On the other hand, they have a higher upfront cost. In addition to the battery cost, we’d have to take on additional projects. We’d need to make sure our alternator was big enough (it probably isn’t). We’d need to check the voltage requirements of every device on the boat, because unlike AGMs and their ilk, lithiums can put out higher voltage- over 15v- in a 12 volt system. For voltage sensitive devices like our watermaker, we’d have to put in a regulator.  Maybe in five more years we’ll move to lithium batteries, but it’s too much to take on now.

It’s all good.

The new bank is 1000 amp hours, a nice bump in capacity that we definitely need. Totem is floating- dare I say it? nearly level on her lines. I don’t get to examine the waterline often, but every time I melt butter in a frying pan and don’t see it all run immediately down to one side, I’m going to smile.

Amped up readers know we get a charge out it when you read this on the Sailfeed site.

Under Sail on the Eagle, All 22,000 square feet of sail

Sail Feed - Wed, 2014-04-16 19:43

By Kimball Livingston

Once upon a time I was invited to sail from Portland to San Francisco on a rather special ship.

And that raised the question, what do you do with 22,000 square feet of sail? The Captain of the US Coast Guard Cutter Eagle said, “It’s basic sailing, just a lot of it.”

We were at sea for three days, downriver on the Columbia to salt water at Astoria, then south along the Pacific Coast from Oregon to California and the Golden Gate. Being a small-boat sailor, I had my epiphanies.

Imagine a medium breeze near or forward of the beam. You will see the square-rigger crew “fanning” the uppermost sails—trimming them farther aft—to account for higher wind speeds aloft. (Big-boat racing crews have a different tool kit but similar challenges.) In light air the uppermost sails of a square rigger are again trimmed farther aft than lower sails, to act as telltales and warn the driver if it’s time to fall off. Aboard the Eagle, however, you will not hear too-cool-for-school racer lingo like “driver.” Before we pulled out of Portland town, the crew was mustered on deck and the cadets were told, “Learn all you can. This is how you become a Coast Guard officer.”

I don’t know what may have been going through the minds of young cadets as they stood straight, listening to those words, but I have a notion of what they were thinking, three days later, as the light failed and the wind rose and there was a bite to that wind, and the ship was flying too much sail and came the call,
ALL HANDS!

All eyes were aloft, up up up to the rigging. There’s this other saying aboard the Eagle:

If you don’t let go, you don’t fall.

© Kimball Livingston

One of the fundamentals of going through the Coast Guard Academy at New London, Connecticut is sailing the Eagle. Most cadets do not come from a sailing/voyaging background. Most have never been to sea when they walk aboard the Eagle for the first time, and on any voyage there is a mix of upper-form students who know the drill, plus raw recruits.

They are required to learn every sail and every line. You might see them of a mid-day, in a meandering trance, or so it seems, but in fact they’re tracking slowly around the deck, classroom pamphlets in hand, touching first this line or that and reciting the names to themselves.

© Kimball Livingston

Again.

Again.

Two hundred+ lines.

Six miles worth.

The journalist in me decided that I was going to write out a prescription for how to tack the Eagle. I went to the book, and how-to-tack ran twenty-three pages. The end of that.

But there is no end to basic services, some of them performed on hands and knees as if in prayer. Perhaps because the grip clutches something about the size of a Bible, the phrase for this is, holystoning the deck . . .

© Kimball Livingston

Do they keep the brass binnacle polished? Check it out on the right . . .

Eagle is 295 feet long.

1,816 tons.

The hull is .4-inch steel plate.

Built in Germany and seized as war reparation at the close of hostilities, mid-20th century.

Eagle carries a crew of 6 officers and 55 enlisted to ensure the safety, training, and bonding of the next generation of Coast Guard officers.

This is a leadership laboratory.

This is about teamwork.

As one officer put it, “You can’t gainfully employ 120 cadets in one shot on any other ship in the Coast Guard or the Navy.”

© Kimball Livingston

My only job was to walk around and take a few pictures and smile at people who called me Sir. Several conversations with long-serving sailors reminded me of the good work of the Coast Guard Foundation, an outfit that raises money for scholarships for service offspring and useful things like gym equipment and computers for remote duty stations.

Oh, you thought stuff was like that was taken care of?

Dream on.

Just because these people jump out of helicopters to haul other people into rescue baskets and they go to sea in lifeboats when no one else wants to go to sea . . .

Their saying: “You have to go out, you don’t have to come back”

. . . doesn’t mean they are reasonably compensated.

Sure, I’ve heard my share of stupid-things-the-Coasties-did stories, but if cowpies are raining down on my head some day, I’ll be looking for that big orange stripe.

We as directors talked about the 30-30-3 rule:

The average Coastie is 30 years old, makes 30 thousand a year, has 3 kids—

And never enough moments like these.

© Kimball Livingston

Through the Coast Guard Foundation, I met remarkable people. One of them was Lieutenant Commander (soon to be promoted) Alda Seabrands. She was called in for the shouting at a Foundation fundraiser.

Alda had been flying a pollution patrol over Puget Sound (meaning, no rescue jumper), when her helicopter was diverted to SAR. A fishing skiff had capsized, spilling two people into white water. The chopper made the scene quickly, dropped a basket, and one man climbed in. He was hauled aboard and the basket lowered again. The second man put one arm over the edge of the basket, then rolled unconscious. Alda told her copilot, “It’s all yours, Binky.”

And jumped.

OK, she didn’t exactly say that, and I’m sure the events, however dire and hurried, were more complicated. But Alda Seabrands was flying as Pilot In Command when she, in full awareness, left her post. As a certain Admiral put it to me, “We had to decide whether it was a court-martial or a medal. We decided it was a medal.”

Throughout our three-day passage from Portland to the Golden Gate, the ship received visits from service helicopters and cutters, all eyes out to see the Eagle. Their Eagle. I began to get it. What’s hard to put into words. Eagle is magic.

On our last day out the wind piped up and the old girl was hauling the mail . . .

© Kimball Livingston

It was a great ride, but just between you and me, the quarter wave was scary . . .

© Kimball Livingston

And true to form, along about sundown, there we were with too much sail up and the breeze rising. All hands, was the call, with many ordered aloft, and remember, we had newbies in the bunch who had never been to sea. When the show bogged down, the bos’n cut through the howl of the wind with a voice that carried the length of the ship, LIGHT A FIIIIIRE UNDER’EM!

Then he turned to the fellow next to him and remarked, “As a bos’n, I could lighten up. But why would I?”

© Kimball Livingston

The wind rose. The night fell. The cold deepened. Figure it takes a minimum of ten cadets on deck to handle a single sheet in 30 knots of breeze. And each line had to be precisely eased to compensate as sails were furled high overhead or somebody(s) would get sail-slapped serious-like, and those were real people up there, scooping handfuls of canvas and dumping them into the furl. Very real, very young people, power-pumping adrenalin and how.

And so the job was done. Another crop of young cadets scrambled down from the heights to an emotional high that kept them floating above deck level. Slapping each other on the back. Sharing sillygrins. Exhilarated and relieved and ready for the next call to duty. A little less young. Shipmates for life wherever whenever they might meet. I saw the payoff for the Eagle, the leadership laboratory that is meant to instill, “an intimate knowledge of wind and sea.” I was a witness. If you don’t let go, you don’t fall.

There were many moods in our three days offshore, leading to our passage through the Golden Gate as I climbed aloft, knowing our masts would not hit the bridge but it always looked as if they would, and yonder I could see my house up above Baker Beach and all those people in boats waving from way down at sea level and I was telling myself, this is a moment I will remember.

On the way aloft, a self-portrait . . .
© Kimball Livingston

And I do remember, but I recall just as vividly the quiet, early passage down the Oregon coast, with the deck at times almost deserted while classes were in session . . .

© Kimball Livingston

And the fog that swallowed us for a while. I observed the rotation and the youthful earnestness of the forward watch, and I was reminded of the unofficial motto of the service . . .


Elvis, if you’re out there, we’ll find you.

Matt Rutherford’s 7,000-mile Pacific Voyage set to depart California

Sail Feed - Wed, 2014-04-16 14:06

This is a bonus episode of the 59º North sailing podcast, plus a press release from Matt and Nicole and the team at the Ocean Research Project. Thanks to Weems & Plath for sponsoring this episode of the podcast! Welcome onboard!

Matt Rutherford joins the show with Andy once again to discuss his imminent departure for Japan and the whirlwind of a time he’s had in California for the past fortnight getting the boat ready. Matt and Nicole Trenholm arrived at the WD Schock facility on April 1 to find their loaner boat, hull #1 of the new Harbor 29, still in the mold! Over the next two weeks he and the team at Schock managed to finish the boat in time for the Strictly Sail Pacific show in Oakland, and Matt and Nicole hope to shove off on the Ocean Research Project’s second major expedition on April 20. Matt tells Andy the story of how it all came together in California over the past two weeks. Enjoy the podcast, and read on for more details of the expedition!

Some links I mention in the intro are included here:

59º North Episode #18 with Peter Trogdon / Weems & Plath

59º North Episode #7 with Donald Street

Celestial Navigation Workshop #2, Annapolis, MD

Pioneering Research Voyage to Study Growing Problem of Plastic Pollution in World’s Oceans is Ready to Leave Port

7,000-Mile Pacific Ocean Journey Will Test Limits of New Sailboat and Her Crew of Two; Recent Events Shine International Spotlight on Marine Debris
 
ANNAPOLIS, MD (APRIL 13, 2014) – Renowned offshore sailor Matt Rutherford and field scientist Nicole Trenholm are ready to depart on a nonstop sailing research voyage from Oakland, Calif., to Fukuoka, Japan. By deploying a high-speed trawl net off the side of their 29-foot vessel while underway, the expedition, which is conducted by the nonprofit Ocean Research Project, will embark on the first-ever continent-to-continent survey of plastic marine debris in the world’s oceans.

The specially designed net has limited drag. It will scoop up small pieces of plastic trash and plastic debris floating on the surface of the Pacific. Once the trip is complete in the summer, the debris will be catalogued and studied at onshore labs to help better understand the impact of plastic debris on marine life and on human health.

“When we cast off we’ll be attempting something that’s never been done before. The ocean is a vast and wild place, but unfortunately it’s not pristine. Human impacts can be seen even thousands of miles from shore. Our survey will help us understand just how much of an impact we’re having on the water that covers the majority of the planet, and on the countless species of marine organisms that depend on healthy oceans for their survival,” Rutherford said.

Although the expedition vessel is a W.D. Schock Harbor 29 day-sailor designed primarily for inshore waters, the trip is expected to take at least 70 days, and cross about a quarter of the globe.

Events in recent years, including the 2011 Japanese tsunami and the ongoing search for the missing Malaysian jetliner, have brought new attention to the problem of marine debris, both large and small. This is Ocean Research Project’s second offshore plastic debris survey in which they spent 80 days and 7,000 miles collecting data. A 2013 expedition to the North Atlantic gyre turned up as many as 200,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometer.

“The trip itself represents only half of the project. After we gather our samples and dock in Japan, we’ll then spend months analyzing the plastic in both Japan and back home in the U.S. Sailing across the Pacific Ocean will be a big adventure, but what we learn in the lab will be equally thrilling,” Trenholm said.

Samples will be analyzed for organic pollutants such as PCBs and pesticides through the University of Tokyo’s International Pellet Watch Program. Samples will also be processed at Baltimore Underground Science Space.

Throughout the trek, Maryland middle school students will build a BLOG based on the marine plastic debris problems & solutions with the guidance of the offshore team to be posted on both the Ocean Research Project and MD Sierra Club’s website. Post expedition, Maryland high school interns will join the team and help analyze the samples.

The trip will be the longest marine plastics survey in history. The departure date is scheduled to follow after the Strictly Sail Pacific boat show in Oakland, and to take advantage of prevailing trade winds this time of year. The planned route skirts to the south of Hawaii before turning northward toward Japan.

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Ocean Research Project is committed to serving the ocean research community. We provide data that explores man’s relationship with our planet’s oceans. For more information, visit www.oceanresearchproject.org

Vexilar SonarPhone T-Pod, WiFi fishfinder in a bobber!

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-04-15 21:45

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 15, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

It’s 2014 and a sealed plastic 5-inch bobber can indeed contain a fairly able 400 Watt, 125 kHz fishfinder and a WiFi radio, plus enough rechargeable battery to run both for a few hours. The SonarPhone T-Pod will strike many as a toy, but it actually works quite well considering its small size and price tag ($130). And the manufacturer Vexilar puts the same technology into models meant to install on small boats, which means that dedicated iPad (or Android tablet) boaters do indeed have a fishfinder option…

That’s the SonarPhone T-Pod kit above, my iPad mini excepted. The bobber has a waterproof three-pin port that accepts a battery charge via that USB cable, and submerging the pins in water is also what turns the T-Pod on. In fact, if I’d videoed this in dimmer light you’d see that the T-Pod was glowing green and blinking because it was powered up and transmitting. (The shorter wire is used to reset the T-Pod to factory defaults, because in 2014 you might also space out the password to your fishfinder bobber ;-)

To test the T-Pod I hauled out a lovely 7-foot surf casting rig inherited from my dad, and I’d like to think I’m showing some pretty good form in the photo above. I can get the bobber at least 100 feet out on the harbor or lake (I’m getting better) and then check out what it’s seeing on my Android phone in the included wrist case, either as it drifts in current or as I reel it in. The main market, of course, is fishermen who stand on bridges or banks, but there are other uses. In this case, for instance, the photographer is my friend and Wayfarer Marine dockmaster Ben Cashen, who’s concerned about a possible bottom “lump” along the fuel dock. We decided to put the project off to warmer weather, but I can even picture explorers standing on their bow using a T-Pod to check out a possible, but poorly charted, anchorage.

Here’s an iPad mini screen of the T-Pod in action on the iOS SonorPhone app. The menu button cycles through three menus that you can then browse and change with the big direction arrows. It works fine for me on both iPad and phone, and actually you can, at least, view the T-Pod output with both at once. One device acts as the control “master” and the other is a view-only “slave.” This is fully developed software, not a toy (excellent online manual here).

Above is a collage of three Android SonarPhone app screens. The only difference I noticed from the iOS app is the indication of WiFi strength. I didn’t test Vexilar’s claim of a 100 yard WiFi range, but I was pretty amazed that it worked as well as it did, even when almost submerged in wavelets. I also didn’t test with real fish, which may have something to do with the 39 degree water temperature the device measured. In that first screen I had turned on both the fish symbols and depth, but what the T-Pod was actually seeing was a schooner’s winter anchor line. Most any fishfinder I’ve tried can make that mistake. The last screen shows how nicely the app can switch from portrait to landscape mode, and also what a clean dredged harbor bottom looks like when you occasionally pull the transducer out of the water and cast it again.

This final photo shows the $150 SonarPhone T-Box SP200, designed for permanent boat mount. I haven’t tried it yet, but note that it has a 200/83 kHz dual beam transducer and that the apps can purportedly switch frequencies or show the fish that are in the 40-degree wide 83 kHz beam but not in the 20-degree wide higher frequency beam. (And note that there’s already a dual frequency Deeper fishfinder bobber that communicates with apps over Bluetooth and looks pretty sexy.)
In conclusion, a fisherman in a small boat might be quite happy switching between a T-Box and a charting app, as long as he or she can see their mobile device screen (a bit of shade often needed in my experience). Greater integration of WiFi fishfinder and charting apps is obviously possible — and on my scale of boating mobile devices will be secondary for a very long time (I think) — but hat’s off to Vexilar for putting together an able, sophisticated, and reasonably priced “toy”.

Click here to read comments about this Panbo entry, or add your own.

Random thoughts on random designs,,,,,just because

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-04-15 11:09

I have been thinking about a post like this for a while. Regular readers will know that I don’t always have something to say. I know that the blog is supposed to be about boats but my family is a huge part of my life and the short of it is I like sharing that joy. But today I will pick a selection of boats pics from my large library and post them here. I will add some comments to each photo and maybe give you some insights into thoughts I have about the boat that you would not normally see published. We’ll see how it goes.

This first photo shows the C54 ketch built in Taiwan at Ta Chiao Shipyards. I was 28 years old when I did this design. Imagine that. I wanted very badly to make my name as a yacht designer. I was contacted by a Long Beach high school shop teacher, John Edwards. He had seen a design of mine published and he liked it. He wanted me to design a big ketch that could be built in Taiwan. Taiwan? I didn’t even know where Taiwan was at the time. But I was broke, uncertain with my present job and I wanted a way out to work on my own so I jumped at the chance. I charged Edwards $750 for the design and a $350 per boat royalty. Boy I was really going for the gold! I had not a clue what I was doing in terms of design fees. But I started in on producing the design for a 47′er. Edwards made a trip to Taiwan with my drawings and came back and said the price was even better than he had anticipated so we could make the boat bigger, 54′. I said fine not even thinking to add some money to the design fee for the big change. Keep in mind I was 28. I really did not know much about yacht design despite having been immersed in it since I was 15 years old. I had studied and studied but there are so many little things to know that you have to become deeply professionally involved in to reach the place where you can truly learn yacht design. But with the limited experience I had I managed to produce a handsome ketch. When I look at this old drawing today I see love. I see a rough kid in love with his work and trying very hard to produce a high quality design product. Of course it isn’t “high quality” I didn’t know enough at the time to reach that level. But I sure as hell tried. I enlisted the help of veteran designer Ted Brewer to help me with the structural elements of the design. I think Ted charged me $150 for his time. Generous. Ted in one letter referred to me as a “yacht designer”. Up until that time I had written “boat designer” in my title blocks. I did not think I qualified yet to call myself a “yacht designer”. But Ted called me a yacht designer and he should know so just maybe I am a yacht designer. I began to write “yacht designer” after my name. In no time at all the boat was being built. Then something strange happened. C.T. Chen, the eldest of the Chen brothers who owned the yard, contacted me and said there was a legal dispute with Edwards, the first of many problems Edwards had in Taiwan. He went on to found the Hans Christian line.. C.T. asked me how much I had been paid for the design. I explained that I had received $350 and another $350 was due when the first boat was finished. C.T. asked me who owned the design at this stage. I said I still owned it until the final; $350 had been paid. C.T.asked, if he paid it would he own the design. Being very, very naive legally I said yes. A week later I received a check from C.T. for $750. The design was now his. He used my letter in court to gain control of the project for Ta Chaio.With my huge check I went straight out into the Boston winter and bought a warm coat. I was living in Boston at that time working for Dick Carter. A few months passed and then I received a series of photos of my design, the CT 54, sitting outside the shed. It was beautiful. It looked just like my drawings. I was amazed and very happy. One of the very first 54′s was shipped to San Francisco. The owner flew me down to sail the boat for two days. I was in heaven and pleased with my creation. This began a long term relationship with my friends at Ta Chaio, CT, CS, ST and Wayne Chen. They would all become very important people in my life in Taiwan as my business there exploded. The Ta Chaio yard became my second home in Taiwan. I was even invited to CT’s mother’s 80th birthday party. I was the only non Taiwanese person there. I was honored. A few months back, Robert Chen. son of one of the Chen brothers came and stayed with me here at my beach shack. That was also an honor. My work in Taiwan with Ta Chaio was the start of a long involvement with Taiwan. I consider my days in Taiwan working out in the boat yard, on the floor with a bunch of non English speaking workers around me some of the happiest moments of my life. I love Taiwan. I made a strong effort to learn Mandarin but honestly it is still a struggle. Woa ce ce can”, “I do my best”. Ta Chiao built 100 CT 54′s. That’s darn good for a kid’s first fiberglass design. They are great boats. I chartered on in the BVI’s for 2 weeks. When my boys first saw the CT 54 one of them said, “It’s just like a pirate ship Dad”. Perfect! I enjoyed it very much. The CT 54 was replaced by the CT 56. I think it was a much better design but it did not sell as well as the 54. There probably are a number of reasons for this. The CT 56 was followed by the CT 65. I worked hand in hand with Wayne Chen on this design. Then built about 30 of them as I recall. Many went to Europe where they are called the Scorpio 72. It is a magnificent vessel and as usual I am very proud of my design work on this project. I spent many happy hours crawling around on this deck plug while the yard was building it. It is an amazing deck design. The famous Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy owns a CT 65. Well, this blog entry kind of developed a mind of it’s own. I didn’t intend to just blog about the CT boats. But, there you have it. This was an important part of my life. Yacht building in Taiwan was just getting going. Some designers thought I was nuts for working with the Taiwanese. I was starving. I had no choice. But in time I learned to treasure my time and my involvement with Taiwan. Working with several yards in Taiwan I produced some very beautiful and well built yachts that have gone on to become icons of the cruising market. I will cover more of them in upcoming posts. I traveled to Taiwan frequently for many years. I have been called an “egg”. That means “white on the outside and yellow on the inside.” I take it as a compliment. I was standing in the hotel lobby one morning waiting to be picked up when I heard the PA system chatter away. I ignored it. I hard it chatter some more, then some more and I finally realized that I was being paged to the telephone in Mandarin! “Pang Roa Bor (my Mandarin name) da dinghwa”. I glowed with pride. I hope this entry has been as much fun for you to read as it has been for me to write.

Arctic Sailing with Erik de Jong on ‘Bagheera’

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-04-15 08:06

This is a difficult one to post, because Erik first asked Mia and I to sail with him, south from Baffin Island to Halifax in September. Alas, we’ll be in Sweden (sailing on our own boat), but what an experience this could be! All the photos here are courtesy of Erik de Jong.

Anyway, I’ve been talking with Erik a lot, and he’s got several bunks available for his summer cruise to Greenland starting May 18. (By the way, Erik was on the podcast a few episodes back – listen here for more info on him and what he does with Bagheera). So I’m enthusiastically helping him to fill them!

Erik’s story is pretty amazing – listen to the podcast to hear it from him – his parents are as into sailing as he is, and as a unit, they’ve been as far north as Spitsbergen and back and forth across the Atlantic a bunch of times. Erik and his dad actually built Bagheera in their backyard in Holland, and Erik crossed the far north Atlantic to Halifax on the boat’s maiden voyage (where he now lives and works as a ship designer – in fact, he’s responsible for designing the Adventure 40 that John Harries has written so much about on morganscloud.com). And Erik’s only 32! 

I’m planning a trip up to Halifax to pick Erik’s brain about sailing the coast of Norway and Spitsbergen, but I won’t get the chance to sail with him until at least next year. Here’s yours.

From Erik:

“I have the following bunks still available:

Halifax to Nuuk: 14 day delivery from Canada to Greenland, two places available. May 18th to 31st. USD 1080 per person.

Nuuk to Ilulissat: 14 day coastal trip in Greenland, two places available. 02 to 15 June. USD 2550 per person.

Disko Bay area: 14 days in central Greenland, two places available. Sailing between Killer whales, bowhead whales and huge Icebergs. Coastal sailing. 16 to 29 June. USD 2550 per person.

Farthest North Expedition: 3 weeks, what’s in a name? This is what we will do, sail north till the ice won’t let us go any further. Two places available. 13 of August to 02 of September. USD 5750 per person.

Delivery from Baffin Island to Halifax: Max. 4 persons USD 1500 per person, 2 weeks starting September 3rd. If desired, we can make it 3 weeks and spend some time along the coast of Baffin Island.

The above prices include 3 meals a day, drinks, bed linens, etc. It does NOT inlcude: airfares, hotels etc. on the way to the vessel, or after leaving the vessel nor does it include alcoholic beverages.”

So get on it people, this is the opportunity of a lifetime! Hopefully I’ll be sailing more with Erik next year and can tell you all about it, but in the meantime, you can tell me about it!

More details can be found on Erik’s website at bagheera-sailing.com/2014.html

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Proud Ye ye

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-04-14 11:41

My two beautiful boys.

“Ye ye”is mandarin for grandpa and yes I am obviously a very proud grandpa. I’m “Grampy”.
This weekend I got even more proud with the arrival of my first grandson, Drake Shaw Perry, 8lbs. 5 oz, a strapping young fellow. Looks just like me. Basically.

I never knew a grandpa. My maternal grandfather, Angelo Dante Guiseppi Nanelli died  at 42 well before I was born. My father’s dad, Howard Elmer Perry, I didn’t meet until we moved here from Australia. I was 12 years old and “Grampy” was a handsome old vegetable in a chair. I’m pretty sure he never said two words to me. So I am going to have to make the whole grandpa thing up as I go along. I think I am doing fine with Violet so I should be fine with Drake.

I’ll keep you posted whether you like it or not.

Naked in Public: Sauna Etiquette from the Swedes

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-04-14 09:24

No, that’s not a sign meaning old ladies can sit in the shower…that’s a sauna! This is the public showers at the marina in Mariehamn, Åland.

Disclaimer: there is lots of naked talk in this post! No lewd photos or harsh language, but we’re going to talk about being naked in public. Sound uncomfortable? Well, now you know how I felt the first time I went in the sauna with my wife and her best friend.

This piece has been a long time in the making, and it starts with a story from Finland. My first winter in Sweden was in 2007/08. My sister Kate flew over from the USA to join us for the period between Christmas and New Year’s (‘mellandagarna’ in Swedish – literally the ‘between days’), and we three took the ferry from Stockholm to the Åland Islands to ring in 2008 with Mia’s best friend Johanna (whom I had met the same day that I met Mia, on that bus in New Zealand. They were traveling together).

Åland’s flag, a mix of Sweden and Finland, just like the culture.

Åland is an interesting place. It’s technically part of Finland, but has an autonomous government, their own flag, and the populace speaks Swedish. But because the people are technically Finnish – and proud of it – they have a love for a good sauna. I knew this, thanks to Mia, and I also knew that you’re not allowed in the sauna, especially in Finland, with any clothes on. When Johanna’s dad asked me to join him then I politely declined. Tryggve – that’s his name, and good luck pronouncing it – strikes a rather intimidating figure. He’s a bear of a man, a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. He works as a plumber and drinks Finnish beer from the can. Our only exchange, aside from him asking if I wanted a sauna, was when he pointed at the TV when the news showed a clip of then-President Bush, then pointed at me and laughed. No thanks, I’d skip the sauna. (I’ve gotten to know Tryggve since then, most recently when we sailed Arcturus to his summer house on Åland last summer. Now that I can speak Swedish, we have a lot to talk about. He’s still a bear of a man, but he’s got a very soft heart and was a fabulous host.)

Clint Wells, one of my best friends, and part of the reason I’m married to Mia. This is New Year’s Eve 2011 in Åland.

So my first experience with the sauna was a non-experience, but it set the ground rules, and I knew it was only inevitable before I’d take the plunge. In 2011/12, we were back in Åland for another New Year’s Eve with Johanna, this time joined by my best friend Clint (the British ‘wanker’ whom I was traveling with when I met Mia and Johanna in New Zealand, and who crossed the Atlantic with us on Arcturus).

The hardest part was that I knew it was coming. We’d been planning the New Year’s Eve trip with Clint and Johanna for some time, and Johanna’s family has a sauna in the house (all Finns do – over there, a sauna is not a luxury but a necessity. Like having a toilet. Once there was as Finnish boat in the ARC rally that had converted their forepeak into a sauna, cedar paneling and all. The crew enjoyed it mid-Atlantic, and took photos to prove it!). So there was a certain measure of anticipation that made the whole thing more…challenging. Put it this way – I knew, at a precise time in the future, that I’d be joining my wife and her beautiful best friend for a naked rendezvous in the sauna. Two tall, blonde Scandinavian women in their birthday suits. Picture that. Clint and I would try hard not to stare.

Mia and Johanna, only a week or two after we all first met, sailing in New Zealand. You can use your imagination…

To the girls, this was nothing out of the ordinary. Johanna said it best. “Boobs are just boobs. They’re not sexual until you start playing with them!” Touche. But in American – and British – culture, that’s not always the case. We’ve got a messed up sense of our own sexuality (thank the Puritans I guess, and they came from England), so anytime there’s nudity involved the mind tends to wander.

The day came. The four of us went for a long run around the countryside. It was late December, but the temperature was just above freezing. It was raining, drizzly rain that Mia and I like to call ‘Sverige regn’ (‘Swedish rain’). It doesn’t come down hard, but it’s a soaking, chilling rain. We came back saturated and freezing.

The sauna at Johanna’s family’s house is in the basement, attached to the back of the downstairs bathroom. It’s big enough (the bathroom), that the four of us went in, with towels on. Johanna abruptly took hers off – in mid conversation with me, though it beats me what we talked about! – and proceeded to rinse off in the shower. Right in front of me, fully exposed, and 100% comfortable.

“You have to shower before you go in the sauna,” she says. Apparently it helps open the pores. If your skin is dry, the heat can be overwhelming.

Mia took her turn, and then Clint and I after. We had towels in the sauna, but they were for sitting on. Mia and Johanna occupied the higher bench, with Clint and I sat on the lower level, all four of us facing the door. I focused my gaze on the fire and the hot stones, but my mind would not let go of the image of my two favorite girls in the flesh sitting behind me and baring it all.

But you know what? It was okay! I didn’t embarrass myself (you know what I mean) despite my wandering mind. We spent a long time in the sauna that first go enjoying really fun conversation and getting really comfortable with each other, and Clint and I got comfortable being totally naked around our best friends and lovers, without any sexual tension.

We got a lot of use out of that sauna that week – spending time outdoors in the wintertime in Finland makes you understand why a sauna is not a luxury in that part of the world – and I left Åland afterwards with an empowered sense that I wanted to be naked in front of all my friends! It’s liberating! After carrying around so much anxiety about stripping down in public, that experience taught me that Johanna was right – boobs are just boobs when you’re in the sauna, and it feels wonderful to be without clothing in that setting.

Swimming in the Baltic, albeit with clothes on this time…

Mia and i have enjoyed my newfound liberalism. We swim naked on Arcturus now when cruising in the Baltic - the water is cold enough to embarrass myself in quite other ways – and spend ‘naked time’ on the boat. There’s nothing nicer than letting in the breeze on a remote island in the Swedish archipelago. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not turning into nudists or anything. But over there the culture is different. When in Rome…

Now, if only us Americans would get the picture. Since moving to Lancaster, Mia and I have joined the city YMCA and spend three or four days a week at the gym. It’s a wonderful facility – a big weight room complete with a platform and rubber plates so I can do the Olympic lifts I enjoy, lots of yoga and spinning classes throughout the week, a big swimming pool, basketball courts and excellent locker rooms. A newish building that’s worth every penny of our monthly membership fee.

The guest cottage at Tryggve and Lotta’s (Johanna’s parents) summer property in Åland. It had bunk beds…and a sauna. Mia and I took full advantage!

Arcturus anchored just off the summer cottage and sauna at Johanna’s family’s place. The proverbial ‘nice spot.’

The locker rooms include showers and saunas. The men’s is typically mens, with a group shower block and no privacy. But the women’s, to Mia’s dismay, is decidedly prudish. Curtains separate the shower stalls and according to Mia, you won’t see a lot of boobs in the locker room, let alone full frontal. Mia doesn’t mind – she prances around the place as if she were still in Sweden, shocked at how conservative everyone else and wondering what they think of her.

But there are few who understand real sauna etiquette. On one occasion I went in the sauna to find a high-school-ish aged kid wearing gym shorts, basketball sneakers, a black t-shirt and a baseball cap, listening to music on his headphones and playing games on his iPhone. I couldn’t resist.

“Dude, you’d never be allowed in a Finnish sauna like that!” I joked. I had to say something but didn’t want to make it sound too mean. He laughed uncomfortably and asked about it, and I related the stories from above. He’s not the only one I’ve seen fully dressed in the guys sauna, and Mia has similar stories from the women’s.

And then there’s the guys who come in buck naked and don’t put anything down on the seats! Get the picture folks – nobody minds a naked dude, but it’d be nice if you sat on something! The rest of us share those seats. Keep your butts to yourselves.

As for Mia and I, we’ll continue to follow the protocol established by the experts of the sauna lifestyle in Sweden and Finland. I’m more comfortable than ever waltzing around the way nature made me (Mia always has been). And I take a towel to sit on.

Mia, in publishable form, swimming in the Baltic.

59º North Podcast: Nicole Trenholm, Ocean Research Project

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-04-14 08:40

Andy chatted with Nicole Trenholm last week just before she and Matt Rutherford departed for California, the Strictly Sail Oakland boat show, and their voyage across the Pacific to Japan. Nicole talked a lot about her life before the Ocean Research Project, how she got into sailing, what it was like working on a tall ship and later as a scientist for NOAA, and finally, how she met Matt and got involved with the ORP. She wasn’t much of a sailor before she moved to the Chesapeake area, but certainly has the chops now – she’s done 6,000+ miles already with Matt and the ORP, recently got her captain’s license and is about to set out again for another 7,000 miles in the Pacific! Nicole also has the distinction of being the first chick on the 59º North podcast! Thanks Nicole!

Healthcare while cruising

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-04-14 06:05
Laughter is good medicine, but we do rely on more than fun

Shuffling down the corridor of the hospital on Langkawi last week, I realized with a start that this marked the first time since leaving the US in 2008 we’ve sought out medical help for anything but routine or preventative care. I’m embarrassed to be going to the emergency room, but it’s a Friday- Jumu’ah- so the village clinic and local doctor are closed on this Muslim island. The blisters on my legs have reached a level of discomfort I don’t want to wait any longer to address, so I overcome the conditioning and we head for the hospital.

Healthcare and medical emergencies were among the chief concerns I had as a pre-cruiser. Looking back over the last six years, I wonder why I worried so much.

five healthy kids, including two I just shared chicken pox with…

Is it easy to find a doctor / clinic / dentist / hospital / etc.?

People everywhere have basic health care needs, so pretty much anywhere that people live there is a way to access health care. I think that growing up in the US trains us to think that we’ll somehow be turned away or have difficulty getting care abroad. In fact, it’s the reverse of the US. Along our travels, care is accessible, it is generally far less expensive, and medication relatively easy to acquire. We do not need any routine prescriptions, which certainly simplifies this for us. Some planning would be needed otherwise, but it’s hardly insurmountable.

In French Polynesia, our friend’s son needed stitches on his head after a minor accident. In Australia, another cruising kid suffered a broken arm. In both cases, medical care was readily available and inexpensive.

What about insurance?

We do carry insurance: a travel policy, intended for catastrophic needs only. We minimize our premium by carrying a high deductible, and presume that we’ll cover all our medical care out of pocket. Medical evacuation for the victim and a parent are covered, a benefit we value in the event of a calamity.

A few months ago, dental workups for our whole family- including an extraction and a filling- added up to less than $200 (about the same as we paid in Mexico). With good care, at such reasonable cost, we would have to try hard to spend enough on medical care for any other insurance coverage to make sense.

Some cruisers and travelers we know have affordable health care in their home countries (such as Australia and the United Kingdom) and return often enough to cover routine needs there. On the other hand, plenty of cruisers don’t. They find, as we do, that locally available medical care is both accessible and affordable.

What about the ACA?

Two things are pertinent for cruisers (but I’ll be the first, I’ll be the first to admit we’re no experts on the subject!) First, the ACA does not recognize travel insurance policies. So the insurance coverage we do cover is meaningless in their evaluation. Second, if you spend most of your time outside the US, the insurance requirement is waived. Because we are outside of the US for more than 330 days in a 365 day period, we meet the “physical presence” test for exemption. That solves the insurance problem, but we can’t afford to fly back anyway! I guess if we get back for a visit, we’ll just be careful to keep it under the maximum allowed days.

Meanwhile, my visit to the emergency room has cost about US$15. Diagnosis: shingles, and aren’t I the lucky one, but I have a full-body case (wheee!). I waited about two minutes to be seen, received a basic workup, a consultation with a physician, and medication. One flat registration fee covered it all.

Healthy readers know we live it when you read this on the Sailfeed website!

Canfield Takes 50th Congressional Cup

Sail Feed - Sun, 2014-04-13 22:56

It is the signature event for the Long Beach Yacht Club, their spirit builder, their team identity, and it works. Without the Congressional Cup, Long Beach Yacht Club would be a first class outfit, but with no place on the international stage and, most of all, much less to define its unique “family values.” Over 50 years, through the developments and innovations of the Congressional Cup match race series, the Long Beach Yacht Club has rocked our world.

A deep bow is in order—Kimball

By Rich Roberts Posted April 13, 2014

Sunday’s weather: Wind 10k SW; high temp. 62F.

Krrunch!

The sound was heard by the spectators all the way up on the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier and over the lower part of the race course for the 50th Congressional Cup on the Long Beach outer harbor Sunday.

It was startling for all and heartbreaking for others, like those rooting for Ian Williams of the UK to win his third traditional Crimson Blazer in four years.

Instead, the fortunes of fate swung to Taylor Canfield of the U.S. Virgin Islands in the last minute of the pre-start choreography. First he noticed the six-inch chunk missing from the transom behind his feet, then he reached for the protest flag and moments later saw the on-water umpires affirm his protest with a blue flag, matching Williams’ ID for that race.

Although there remained a decisive race twice around the half-mile windward-leeward course in 10 knots of chilly breeze, with Williams behind and owing a penalty turn, it seemed over before the start. Canfield, 25, said he knew it wasn’t.

“We knew it was going to be tough all the way through the race,” he said—and Williams made it so with tacking duels upwind and jibing his spinnaker to steal Canfield’s air downwind.

But Canfield and his crew sailed an unforgiving and mistake-free defense to win the championship sailoff with two wins to Williams’ one and collect the booty: the traditional Crimson Blazer and $17,500 of the $75,000 total purse.

That’s match racing, and the pair performed as their current No. 1 and No. 2 world rankings promised in a contest featuring contestants from seven nations.

Canfield’s crew consisted of Rod Dawson, spinnaker trim and tactics; Goodrick Hayden, bow; Mike Rehe and Dan Morris, sail trim, and Brian Janney, main sail and pit.

Williams said, “It’s not a good way to lose, but Taylor sailed great. When I look back at it, the first race hurt us more. We had contact in that pre-start, too, but the umpires didn’t make the call.”

Funny thing about those flags. There were about a dozen protests upheld by the umpires Sunday and all were against the boats flying identifying blue flags, not the yellow flags of their rivals.

Williams said, smiling slightly, “With all those blue flags, the umpires must have lost the yellow flags.”

Williams did win the second race . . . after Canfield, then the blue-flag boat, committed a pre-start foul he was never able to resolve with a penalty turn.

Earlier, Canfield dispatched Keith Swinton of Australia in the semifinals, 2-0, while Williams defeated Francesco Bruni of Australia, 2-1. Bruni then defeated Swinton, 2-1, in the petite sailoff.

Phil Robertson’s New Zealand team won the fleet race around the harbor for the six competitors who didn’t reach the sailoffs.

Final standings

1. Taylor Canfield, USVI
2. Ian Williams, UK
3. Francesco Bruni, Italy
4. Keith Swinton, Australia
5. Simone Ferrarese, Italy
6. Mathieu Richard, France
7. Johnie Berntsson, Sweden
8. Dave Perry, U.S.
9. Phil Robertson, Australia
10. Scott Dickson, U.S.
11. Dustin Durant, U.S.
12. Chris Poole, U.S.

The New America’s Cup Cat

Sail Feed - Sun, 2014-04-13 17:35

The next generation will look much like this 2013 generation challenger from New Zealand, but they’re a new breed

By Kimball Livingston Posted April 13, 2014

Gino Morrelli believes the next generation of America’s Cup catamarans will revolutionize upwind tactics. He foresees the boats foiling through tacks without slowing down, and if there is no price for tacking, that’s a new calculus, isn’t it? A new game.

Smaller, faster, safer. It’s quite a package that Morrelli is talking about, and he knows a bit. His firm of Morrelli & Melvin wrote the design rule for what we will call, for now, the AC62. That is, ten feet shorter than the AC72s of 2013 and shrunk appropriately in other dimensions as well. Add-in some one-design components, factor-in the fact that a lot of the design possibilities have already been explored—we know what the next generation will look like—and you have a boat that is cheaper to design and cheaper to build, even with amped-up technology. His partner Pete Melvin has been hard on the case.

At which point Morrelli adds the ultimate qualifier, “We can lower the cost to entry, but we can’t make it cheaper to win the America’s Cup.”

Write this on the board twenty-five times: An America’s Cup team will always spend whatever it can get.

I shared billing with Gino over the weekend for a program at Strictly Sail Pacific, which opened my window onto what’s coming next, with a little caution tape on the windowsill: “We finished our job about four weeks ago,” Morrelli told the audience. “In our last iteration, the boat was 62 feet, but now we’ve handed it over to Oracle and Russell and the boys to fuss it out with the Challenger of Record and Iain Murray. That is, the Aussies from Hamilton Island Yacht Club. Between them, a lot can happen. We’re now out of the loop, but something’s cooking . . . At some point they have to pull the trigger and publish the design rule and let people start working on the new boats, even if they don’t decide the venue until deep in the process.”

How can you design the boat if you don’t know the venue? Or if, as Larry Ellison once suggested, there could be more than one venue? Good question. Here we go—

Gino again: “One thing that was possible under the AC72 rule, but now is mandated, is a wing design that can be over-rotated to a negative angle of attack. You would do this at the top of the wing, so that instead of pushing the boat over, it’s actually pulling the boat up. Theoretically, if you’re bearing away around the weather mark in 30 knots, you can crank the wing inside out to get positive righting moment. You get a safer turn. The downside is that you’re inducing drag, which slows you down, so you’re going to have to learn how to actually do this. But it’s one way to build a big rig that will perform in San Diego but survive San Francisco.

“There are provisions in the new class rule to allow different wing sizes and jib sizes, but the ability to over-rotate the wing gives us a tool for sailing in a wide wind range with one wing.”

Early in the development of the original design rule for the AC72s, there were no restrictions on foiling surfaces. Restrictions were added at the insistence of the then-Challenger of Record, but we know now that the result was merely to make the boats trickier to design and less safe for the sailors.

This time out, Gino says, “We’ve got everybody to agree to take the brakes off foiling. The boats will foil by design. We’ll be able to actively change the angle of the rudder posts to adjust the angle of attack of the T-foils on the rudders—in 2013 we could make changes between races, not during a race—and the T-foils will be symmetrical, and bigger. This is part of what brings us to foiling tacks. You’ll have more chance to use low angles of attack to give you the highest glide speed through the tack. We’ll see who can glide to weather the farthest.”

This likewise opens new imaginings in what it means to attack, attack, attack.

On the safety side, there is now a minimum bow volume, for buoyancy if the boat augurs in. “New Zealand had the biggest bows in the fleet in 2014,” Gino said. “They stuffed it in that one race and survived. After the fact we sat down with the Oracle Racing guys to analyze the video of that incident, and we determined that, if Oracle had done the same thing, they would have been upside down. So, the new bow dimensions are much closer to the NZ spec than to the Oracle spec.”

Photo by Daniel Forster

You might recall, ETNZ took that serious nose dive in an early race, and Oracle did this less-radical face plant on the reach to the first mark in the deciding, final race, which could have come out rather differently. As seen through the lens of Daniel Forster . . .

With hulls now functioning as components of a foil-delivery system, the extra bow volume builds a safety margin with no meaningful downside. A little more carbon, a little more weight, a little more windage, but equalized through the fleet. Where Oracle had a safety advantage over the Emirates Team New Zealand boat was in its protective cockpits. When ETNZ stuffed it, bodies were flung forward against each other—there weren’t enough grab points—and as the boat sailed on, there were fewer crew on deck. The “AC62″ mandates cockpits.

For an easy point of cost saving, “That crazy aerodynamic structure on the underside of Oracle, fairing-in the dolphin striker, will be restricted. It represented a lot of research, a lot of engineering and a lot of carbon. By going one-design on those components, we’re saving the teams a lot of development, so now we get calls from the CFD [Computational Fluid Dynamics] engineers saying, ‘Hey, what about our lunch?’ Then there’s the grinders union . . .”

The big picture view of the 2013 America’s Cup is that Oracle Racing built a faster boat—more aerodynamic, twistier, harder to sail—and learned how to sail it just in time. Mastering upwind foiling was the key, and one key to that was grinding style. You probably know the old joke, “You just keep grinding and if I need any sheet I’ll take it.” Well, launching the comeback, that’s exactly what was going on aboard Oracle. Trimmer Kyle Langford needed instant response to keep the boat on knife’s edge. Asking the boys to pump oil to generate hydraulic pressure for trimming built in a delay that just didn’t cut it. So the grinders would grind all the way. No stored energy was allowed under the AC72 rule, but the new rule as written by Morrelli & Melvin, in consultation with Oracle Racing’s Russell Coutts and Ian Burns, for example, will permit a component of stored energy. The grinders may still be grinding steadily, but not frantically. At least, according to the numbers. As one result, the crew has been reduced to the tune of two grinders. That’s two less jobs on the payroll per boat, and two less jobs per boat in the America’s Cup Industry.

Gino Morrelli has a laid back Southern California style, and he comes by it honestly. The whole team at Morrelli & Melvin Design and Engineering has been known to shove work and hit the beach when the surf is up. Morrelli describes himself as, “A longboard kind of guy.” It’s not far from their Newport Beach offices to the sand. Obviously, they also crank out the work. M&M also developed the design rule for the AC72s, and they were the principal authors of the design of Emirates Team New Zealand. They’ve been part of the America’s Cup every time multihulls have been in the game: 1988, 2010 and on. They’re also part of cutting edge multihull racing at every level from A-cats up, and cruising cats from the Hobie Wave to Gunboats. And when I want to impress the nieces and nephews, I just tell’em, yep, I know the folks who designed the Jungle Cruise boats for Disneyland. Those are their only monohulls, I believe, unless you count stand up paddleboards.

The Q&A rambled a bit. Naturally, a Bay Area audience wanted to know if the 2017 match will be sailed here. I voiced my stubborn optimism that it will, simply because that’s what ought to happen.

Someone asked why Artemis Racing still has its base in Alameda, and their 45 is sometimes seen on the bay. Gino responded that, well, everybody has to be someplace, “and I think they’re betting that the next races will be here.”

Another circuit in AC45s? Here’s Gino: “The 45s attract a lot of interest from the start-up teams. It’s a way to bring in sponsors and show the racing to a home audience. On the upside, it’s pretty easy to convert an AC45 to a foiler. On the downside, the logistics are completely nuts. The circuit was a giant loss leader. No way could it stand on its own. Larry wrote the check for the whole show the last time, but I don’t know how interested he might be in helping those start-up teams get a foothold. He’s already spent so many hundreds of millions on this. I figure the AC45s are a tier 3 decision right now.”

What’s the status of Morrelli & Melvin vis a vis AC35? “We’re free agents again. We’ve been contacted by a number of the guys, but everybody’s waiting for the Class Rule and the Protocol.”

More challengers next time? “Sixish. The Aussies are in, and Artemis. Luna Rossa. Probably the Kiwis, and the French are trying hard and so is Britain, with Ben Ainslie. The design box is tighter and smaller, but I guarantee you there’s enough room inside the box that someone’s going to come up with a faster boat than somebody else.”

Thanks, Gino.

But wait!

Do you . . . have any tickets for the Jungle Cruise?

Bob Billingham Celebration of Life

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-04-11 17:19

Posted April 11, 2014

Bob Billingham had one life, but he touched so many.

The accomplishments are one thing—Olympic medalist, trimmer on the 1992 America’s Cup winner, five-times a world champion in Solings, Etchells, J/24s and Maxis, facilities manager for America’s Cup 34, commentator for the racing—but those are things that can be represented by trophies on a shelf, or medals in a case. They don’t begin to tell you how much Bob gave of his wisdom and generous heart, every step of the way. Even as each step grew harder and harder.

On the tenth of May, at the St. Francis Yacht Club, from 1 pm to 4 pm, there will be a celebration of life honoring Bob Billingham.

The newly-named Billingham Buoy will be in the water, just beyond the window.

Bob will be missed, but few of the leaders of yachting will be missing from that room—Kimball

Contributions to the Buoy in Bob’s memory continue to be welcome at the St. Francis Sailing Foundation.

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