I have a few distant memories of Bustins Island from when we used to visit my father’s sister Cynthia and her family there. I remember Archie Ross, a larger-than-life character who used to run the little ferry boat that trundles back and forth between Bustins and nearby South Freeport. I remember walking in my bare feet from my aunt’s cottage down a dirt trail to a little store where we bought ice cream in Dixie Cups that we ate with wooden spoons. This memory in particular still stands out in my mind as an epiphany of juvenile summer bliss.
I got to wallow in the residue of that epiphany for a while this past Labor Day weekend, as Clare, Lucy, and I sailed up to Bustins from Portland on Lunacy to call on my cousin Laura, my aunt Cynthia’s youngest daughter, who still spends a lot of time on the island, in the very same cottage we used to hang in way back when.
The cottage in question, which is right on the shore at the southern end of the island. This was the first time I’d visited in nearly 50 years
View from the porch. That’s Lunacy on the right. The two other boats on the left belong to the nice fellow in the cottage next door, who was impressed by Lunacy‘s industrial-strength appearance
Blast from the past. From left to right: my younger brother Peter, me, cousin Laura, aunt Cynthia
Cousin Laura all grown up, blasting around in her skiff
Islands like Bustins aren’t that unusual on the Maine coast. Filled with nothing but summer cottages (on Bustins, for example, there are about 130 of them), these islands are administered by collective associations and normally have very few or no year-round residents. Some of these summer communities, as on Bustins, have been active for over 100 years, and in many cases cottages have been passed down through multiple generations of families.
It may not be your cup of tea if your idea of a summer island involves a lot of seclusion and isolation. But if you like the idea of being part of a big extended vacation tribe, with lots of kids running around, it works very well. In our case, daughter Lucy, now age 8, found age-appropriate playmates within 30 seconds of stepping ashore. After a great dinner of boiled lobster, we joined up with Lucy’s new friends and lots of other families with kids at the community center and engaged in square-dancing. Your humble narrator distinguished himself, but only because he has no shame and does not mind embarrassing himself in public.
Fire on any island is a serious threat. The Bustins Island Fire Department (BIFD) has established many stations like this along the trails that tie the community together
Lucy power-lounging aboard Lunacy, with Bustins in the background
The oldest cottage on the island, which originally was a farmhouse
The most distinctive cottage on the island isn’t actually on the island, but on a small rock islet just off the east shore. It’s the one labelled “HOUSE” on the chart above
Laura swam out to the boat in the morning with some watermelon for our breakfast
Many of these “cottage islands,” Bustins among them, are not exclusive and visitors are welcome to come ashore and stroll around, even if they don’t have cousins to call on. To visit Bustins, it’s easiest to pick up an empty mooring somewhere on the southeast shore and then take a dinghy in to the “town dock,” which is just west of the octagonal house on the rock. It’s also possible to anchor if the moorings are full.
The only bad news is that the store selling ice cream has long since closed.
We spent Saturday night and most of the day Sunday at Bustins, then retreated to the north end of Great Chebeague Island, where we had dinner at the Chebeague Island Inn. Next morning when we woke it was pissing down rain and this “lobster yacht” was moored next to us.
These are becoming increasingly common on the coast, and this is perhaps the most extreme example I’ve seen yet. It’s got everything needed for fishing, including a permit number, a davit block, and a hydraulic winch by the wheel, but it’s all punked out for luxury cruising and obviously has never been used to haul a single trap.
Can someone please explain this to me? Why don’t the real lobstermen just sink these things on sight???
Written by Ben Ellison on Sep 5, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
I was testing the new marine navigation app Skipper when I realized that historical topos were among the many “base maps” it can display, along with regular NOAA raster charts. Skipper has some interesting features (to be covered soon), but I’ve been waiting a long time for this historical angle. Haven’t marine electronics and software become so powerful that they can help us with more than just the “work” of operating a boat? As in my hopeful 2005 comment that, “One day PC/plotter memory will be so abundant that historical charts will be included in navigation packages just for the fun of it!” Of course, I didn’t realize then that tablet computers with wireless broadband Internet connections would come along, and aren’t they dandy for accessing the ever growing cloud of cartography?
While it’s true that Skipper’s historical topo maps could be higher resolution and also better geo-registered (I was at Gizmo’s float when I took the screenshot above, not on shore), but isn’t it interesting that Curtis Island was once called Negro Island (and worse)? Heck, I once wrote a magazine feature about how apt cruising is for enjoying history and even included a sidebar about finding antique maps online (PDF of Hudson River Melting Pot here). Skipper, incidentally, is getting its historical topos from the interesting site CalTopo (explanatory blog here), but unfortunately the online CalTopo collection only includes a small fraction of what you can find in the UNH Library New England & New York Collection, not to mention the huge (though hard to search) USGS collection. But wouldn’t it be neat if Skipper or some other app included easy access to NOAA’s Historical Map & Chart Collection, now at over 35,000 scans? I found this site even easier to use, yet much richer in content than during my last visit. I got a kick, for instance, out of the 1854 “Reconnaissance of Eastern Part of Eggemoggin Reach, Maine” clipped above. It’s not a chart per se, but rather a worksheet used to make charts and also contemplate a possible lighthouse (that wasn’t built). You can easily picture the hydrography team rowing careful courses and taking soundings, while other crews climbed those sharp island peaks to do their “Triangulation” and “Astronomical observations”…
Now look at how well this area was charted by 1885 (click on image to see at the full resolution NOAA offers). I drove Gizmo through somewhat tricky Naskeag Harbor in July and could probably have used this chart (though the use of fathoms for deep water soundings and feet for the shaded shallow areas is a little confusing). Notice how much more topography and vegetation detail there is than in modern charts. How did cartographers pull this off before GPS and aerial photography, let alone before high resolution satellite photo maps?
I’ve rhapsodized about old time cartography skills before, but maybe someone knows of a book or other source that explains in detail how these charts were made (besides for the excellent overview in Nigel Calder’s How to Read a Nautical Chart)? And I’m pleased to report that the developer of Skipper likes the idea of offering historical charts, too, though I suspect it might first take an enthusiastic intermediary like CalTopo to aggregate NOAA’s collection into large area layers. There’s so much catographic activity online that I’m hopeful, and I further hope that the historical charts aren’t cropped, so we’ll still be able to check out details like those shown above.
In the meantime, I’ll note that the Skipper app,which is a sibling of the Gaia GPS mapping apps, offers all sorts of base maps and they can all be downloaded for use when you’re not online. Plus, you can overlay any base map with the NOAA chart at whatever transparency you want, as I’ve done with the Global Imagery sat photo map. It’s not as effective as Nobeltec TimeZero’s Photo Fusion, but then again Skipper’s $12/year subscription is a smaller investment. There’s also an Android Skipper on the way, and you can test drive the current iOS version for a dollar.
Finally, in the fascinating historical cartography category, do you know about the Library of Congress Panoramic Map Collection? If you’ve ever spent time in Wiscasset, Maine, you’ll know that many buildings are still recognizable from the remarkably detailed view seen in part below. Apparently, panoramics like this were once quite a craze in a Chamber of Commerce sort of way, and teams of crack cartographers went from town to town creating them. Again, I’d love to know more detail about how the heck they did it, and wouldn’t it be neat if you could easily access these public domain images as you cruised the coast?
In our home waters of Puget Sound, traditional boats predominate. The longer we’ve been gone cruising and thought about the qualities that matter to us, the more we wonder why people don’t break out of the mold more often. A family we met on Borneo on a decidedly racy boat, Relapse, inspired the monthly cruising column which Jamie and I co-author for 48° North, a Pacific Northwest regional boating magazine; it’s copied below. In addition to the family on Relapse, the family living and traveling on the “high tech carbon rocket-ship“ Anasazi Girl inspire us as well. Any others out there?
RELAPSE into cruising: Mark’s interpretation of a cruising boat
A cute puppy on the dock was too much for our daughter Siobhan, now nine years old, so she dashed off to meet said pooch. After 266 days swinging at anchor or underway, Behan and I remained sedentary enjoying sunset repose in our just cleaned cockpit at Miri Marina on the northwest coast of Borneo. Siobhan returned bubbly from the exchange and said trivially, “oh, and the owners are American.” Mere moments pass before our curiosity, and theirs, won out and we engaged in lively conversation. Madaline and Mike are pilots living in Miri for a year and in possession of not just one recently rescued puppy but the long sought after knowledge of where we can buy tortillas locally. Fantastic people! Conversation turned to our story, followed by Mike telling us that he sailed in Florida and has interest in cruising across the Pacific. “So”, he says earnestly, “what makes a good cruising boat?”
I hesitated just long enough that Mike mentioned eying a particular design, a 43’cutter rigged, full keeled boat listed for sale in Singapore. The classic approach: conservative brute. “Well…,” I hemmed, thinking how he shared the secret to procuring tortillas in Borneo. It sounded like a strong, well-made boat: excellent features, but completely lacking performance. “Speed”, I said, “is often dismissed by North American cruisers as racer’s folly, fundamentally irrelevant to safe and comfortable cruising. How wrong this is. Let me tell you about my friend Mark.”
Mark is truck driver, rigger, and boat builder from New Zealand. He’s a kiwi sailor with many miles of Pacific Ocean sailing, including a few Sydney Hobart races. We had heard about Mark and his family because they are another ‘kid boat’, described to us as the family on the racing boat. At first appearance Relapse is 50’ of pure racing machine, though oddly adorned with ratty awning, fishing poles, and a rusting (so called stainless!) BBQ grill, just like all the other cruising boats. Relapse, by traditional cruising convention, is born out of insanity with her 14’ wide transom, open for the world and Neptune to board any time they like.
Kids from Totem and Relapse were fast friends. The adults took much longer –say, 5 minutes. In true kiwi fashion Mark offered a beer to seal our friendship and we chatted away in their expansive cockpit. After awhile he asked, “aren’t you going to comment on how wet our cockpit must be? Everyone does,” he went on, “and someone will before you get off of the boat.”
Sure enough, old salty wanders by and says she must be fast, but so wet and unsafe with kiddies aboard. Mark’s wife Catherine rolls her eyes. Mark smiles at me and begins, patiently and respectfully. “This is my interpretation of a cruising boat,” he says. “I built this boat. We can easily sail 250 miles per day, as a family with kiddies; and we never ever have water boarding through the open transom because we move faster than waves.” The wide transom provides massive buoyancy. A traditional cruising boat by comparison has more weight and a narrower transom, less buoyancy; coupled with slower sailing speed, the chances of taking boarding seas are much greater on a traditional cruising boat.
A few more people join the conversation, trying to find a flaw in Mark’s approach; questions and answers flying about like birds in a squall. She can’t be strong enough, with so many stories about offshore racing boats breaking apart and keels falling off. That never happens on a cruising boat. Offshore racing boats are engineered and built with little safety margin to save weight. Relapse is engineered and built with big safety margins, just like your boat. As for the keel, it’s a torpedo shaped bulb at the end of a 9’ fin. It’s very efficient, like a racing boat, and very strong, which Mark adds they proved by accident after hitting a coral head at 7 knots. When they hauled the boat to inspect, they found only that the bulb was bent slightly and nothing else: no bulkhead movement, and not so much as a hairline fracture where the hull and keel meet –remarkable really.
During the course of the Borneo International Yacht Challenge, where we got to know Mark and Catherine, I watched Mark make his case several times. Skeptics departed more open to accepting Relapse into the cruising herd, if not in outright envy of many of her features. Two rudders offer better sailing efficiency and redundancy should one be damaged. A wide beam carried aft to the transom offers much open deck space and excellent form stability (hull shape that naturally resists rolling, much like comparing the rolliness of a popsicle stick to a pencil) and increased volume below for living and storage space. It has sailing characteristics that every sailor should envy: a helm so balanced that a six year can easily manage it, sailing a straight line without so much as a pinky on the wheel, and pointing to 35 degrees upwind –with speed. Not that cruisers go upwind much, but when people point out how inappropriate a boat like Relapse is for cruising they should consider how well a traditional cruising boat does if forced to sail upwind to escape a lee shore. Or what the pucker factor aboard is like when a stretch of ocean offers 4 day weather windows sandwiched between bad weather –and it’ll take you six days to Mark’s three. Performance matters.
I had asked Mark why he thinks so many cruisers and in particular North American sailors hold fast to a narrow view of what a cruising boat is. He answered in effect, that you (North Americans) all read about the Pardey’s approach to cruising and about how an Americas Cup boat breaks up in 10 knots of wind. The dichotomy is stark and cruising culture has matured with the idea that safety comes at the expense of speed.
Before we bought Totem I thought that transitioning from racing to cruising meant trading in running sneakers for steel toed boots. Circumnavigator Jim Jessie convinced me otherwise, saying “you want a boat tougher than you are, and one that can sail out of its own way.” Totem is no Relapse, but she has a balance of toughness and performance that serves us well. She just proved this again, while reaching along a shallow and barren stretch of the Borneo coastline at 8.5 to 9 knots in rough conditions, allowing us to reach our destination in daylight – important considering size and quantity logs floating about.
Every boat is a compromise, often selected through further compromises between money, location, and time. What matters most is that your boat makes you happy on more than first and last days of ownership. Mark’s interpretation also matters. He’s not alone in the message, but has gone well beyond what many open minded sailors think a cruising boat should be; and rightly so. Why can’t a cruising boat have the look and feel of performance and still be tougher than you are, as Jim Jessie says? It doesn’t have to mean a 9’ draft with a bulb keel, in the same way that a keel resembling a jersey barrier certainly doesn’t make the boat safer. If some old dog argued otherwise, then ask them how well they could sail off the lee shore or beat out bad weather. Tell them that there ought to be more puppies on the dock.
Fiberglass tubes. Wow, think of all the uses. You can hold things up, or store stuff, or brace something, or just put a fishing pole in it. The tube my father and I were trying to make has an ID the same diameter as a 2″ aluminum pipe and is about three feet long. I would like to tell you what I’m going to use it for, but I can’t do that yet.
Of course you can buy fiberglass tubes, which I suppose is what most people would do. But why buy it when you can make it. Should be easy, right? Ha.
My first attempt at this was way back in Marathon, Florida, and it was a total disaster. It was hot and I put too much hardener in the polyester resin so everything started to set when I was only halfway done and I ended up with some poorly-bundled fiberglass bonded solidly onto my aluminum pipe.
Lesson 1: Go easy on the hardener, and don’t try to do this in direct sunlight on a 95-degree day.
The second attempt was a bit more thought out. I had learned the first time that the fiberglass tube can be hard to remove from the pipe so this time we took extra precautions. We started by wrapping the pipe with thick paper, allowing a little bit of a gap to keep things loose. Then we wrapped the paper in plastic wrap.
With our pole all trussed up we started laying on fiberglass:It helped to start by coating the pole with resin so that the cloth will stick. I found it easiest to support the pole at both ends and spin it in place, wrapping the cloth around I painted on resin with a brush as I went. It’s a little tricky to keep from over-saturating the cloth. The goal is transparency without getting drippy. At first I was smoothing the cloth by hand but later found it more effective to just use the brush. The last wrap
We put a few wraps of cloth around our tube and then let it gel up. If you get the resin at just the right gel time there is a point where the cloth will hold its shape but can still be cut with a utility knife. This is when I trimmed the imperfections and cut the ragged ends off of the tube.
This is also a good time to spin the tube around a bit on the pipe to make sure that it will still be able to come off. It spun ok so we let it harden and slid it off. Everything worked just fine, except that we had made the tube too big, and our pipe was a loose fit.
Lesson Two: You’ve got to be careful about getting just the right amount of slop in your fitting…
Back to the glass. Our next attempt was done in the same manner but this time we wrapped the paper tightly around the tube. When it came time to pull it off, it was stuck on quite solidly. I ended up having to cut it off with a utility knife:
Lesson Three: Don’t squeeze down on the cloth too hard when you roll it on the tube.
We decided to use it anyway. Our strategy all along was to start with just a few layers to make a sort of form and then to add the majority of the fiberglass around that. Even after cutting it off this bit of tube kept its shape so we put it back on the pipe and glassed over it with more layers.We were running low on thin fiberglass so we used some heavy bi-axial cloth that I had around. I was worried about properly wetting out the cloth as we rolled it so I started by rolling resin on the whole piece.
I rolled it up and then checked that it would still rotate on the pipe. All seemed well. Then I got distracted and didn’t check again until it was cured. This was a very bad idea. Our tube was, again, totally bonded onto the pipe, and it was three times as thick as the last one.
Lesson Three: Don’t wander off when the job is half finished.
We tried twisting it. We tried banging the pipe on the ground. We tried WD-40. We even tried filling the pipe with ice in an attempt to shrink it.
Nothing worked. Eventually we got so frustrated that we gave up and went back to the drawing board. I did a little research and found out that our problem was that fiberglass actually shrinks when it cures. Ok, technically the resin shrinks and the fiberglass does not, but in this case the end result was the same. Epoxy, apparently, works better for this sort of thing because it shrinks a lot less. But it’s three times the cost.
Lesson Four: Curing fiberglass shrinks!
But knowing that didn’t solve our problem. What did was re-examining our original tube and deciding that it would actually work just fine. We went back over it with a few more layers and ended up with a very strong fiberglass tube, just right for our purposes:
All we had left to do was to remove our big mistake from the pipe. That proved to be quite a chore!
In 2010, the same year that Oracle Racing won the America’s Cup, San Francisco had a thrilling run-up to the Giants’ win at the World Series, and more than once I heard comments about how great it felt to take that ride without Barry Bonds and all the negative chatter that had chased Bonds’ steroid-use allegations during the years when he was with the team. We loved our boys of October.
Well, so much for the frabjous joy that I felt when the Cup came to San Francisco. Today’s ruling by the International Jury—sidelining some of the top sailors in the game for what it cites as gross misconduct violations, and fining Oracle Team USA two points in the first-to-win-nine match that starts Saturday—is a low point in a long slide.
In the world of coulda shoulda, this coulda shoulda.
There’s been a vast wastage of good will. I walk around the America’s Cup Park at Pier 27. I walk around the Village at the Marina Green. And I walk through a sea of red volunteer uniforms and confused faces. The appropriateness of the jury-imposed penalties is debatable (is being debated), but what I see is something I will never be able to explain to all those good-hearted John Q’s who wanted to be excited about this show, and wanted to wave a flag for the hometown team but–
I’m forever looking for the silver lining, and the three lawyerly paragraphs released today by the hometown team give me jack to work with.
Just moments ago I gave an interview to a Kiwi television crew, and I was feeling pretty down, and I said so. Later, I was approached by a gent in one of those red volunteer uniforms, who thanked me for my comments and expressed his own disappointment.
Not all of Oracle Team USA was involved, I’m happy to believe, in doping the one-design AC45s for what were, in effect, nothing more than a series of exhibition races, and WTF! There’s plenty about that fracas elsewhere, if you want to search for the details of dolphin posts and added length and weight and allegedly tighter headstays and the like, and you won’t have to search far for that. I’m not trying to be a reporter here. I’m just grieving for the coulda shoulda, and for all my fellow sailors on this blessed patch of water.
Tom Blackaller said, “If we ever get the America’s Cup to San Francisco Bay, we’ll show the world how good sailing can be.”
He had every right to believe it. I believed it.
It’s impossible to know now whether we are witnessing the death throes of a bad idea or the difficult birth of the future of sailing. We could yet have a match for the ages.
September 7 will be one helluva day.
No, this is not the new version of the Blue Planet Times. This is a throw together to bridge a moment that I cannot ignore. Over the last weeks and months I have had many occasions to observe that just the sight of an AC72 lifting itself up to “fly” at freeway speeds is enough to make somebody’s day. Not every bet made, going into the 34th America’s Cup, has gone wrong, and there is one more day to get down to the city front/Marina Green to enjoy some genuinely good fleet racing in the AC45s/Red Bull youth regatta.
This penalty stuff we’ll be debating for a while, I suppose, whether the team should take the hit for the actions of a few, whether the captain should go down with the ship even if he wasn’t driving when it hit the bricks . . .
I’ll leave you with Item 96 from Jury Notice 117: “The Jury has no intention to impose a penalty that will determine the outcome of the Match, which should best be determined on the water and not in the Jury room. But for these mitigating factors the penalty would have been heavier.”
AND A BIG SHOUT OUT TO
All my friends who are sailing in or helping with or just being part of the ultimate Corinthian yachting event, the International Knarr Championship at San Francisco Yacht Club. Shhhh. Shhhh. YEAH!
The guy above is probably not very happy right now. His mega-million team Oracle USA will start the America’s Cup match on Saturday (winner is first to 9) at -2. Ouch.
So it turns out that the International Jury did not look at all kindly on clandestine and witting modifications of the strict one design AC45 class.
Here’s the Jury Notice. Read the whole thing to feel the full ire of the Jury regarding the mendacity and culpability of Oracle team members, as well as the details of what each team member did. But here are the punishments (beyond the 2 point America’s Cup match penalty):
DECISIONS ON PENALTIES
105. Bryce Ruthenberg: Bryce Ruthenberg is excluded from further participation in any role in the 34th
America’s Cup. RRSAC rule 69.1(c) requires the Jury to inform his National
Authority (Australian Yachting Federation) and the International Sailing Federation,
which bodies may impose further penalties; however, in view of his full, frank and
early admissions, the Jury will recommend that no further action be taken.
106. Andrew Walker: Andrew Walker is excluded from further participation in any role in the 34th
America’s Cup. RRSAC rule 69.1(c) requires the Jury to inform his National
Authority (Yachting New Zealand) and the International Sailing Federation, which
bodies may impose further penalties.
107. Kyle Langford: In light of his age and inexperience in an America’s Cup environment, the fact that
he had no involvement in the work done and his truthfulness during the hearing,
together with his sincere efforts to acquaint himself with the Class Rules since the
matter came to light, Kyle Langford is warned to use his best endeavours not to be
involved with any activity that may be in breach of a rule in the future. The Jury is
not required to make a report to any federation.
108. Matt Mitchell: Matt Mitchell is excluded from sailing on a Yacht competing in the Match for the
34th America’s Cup until 4 races have been completed. RRSAC Rule 69.1(c)
requires the Jury to inform his National Authority (Yachting New Zealand) and the
International Sailing Federation, which bodies may impose further penalties;
however, the Jury will recommend that no further action be taken.
109. Dirk de Ridder: Dirk de Ridder is excluded from further participation in any role in the 34th
America’s Cup. RRSAC Rule 69.1(c) requires the Jury to inform his National
Authority (Koninklijk Nederlands Watersport Verbond) and the International Sailing
Federation, which bodies may impose further penalties.
Blam! Okay, on to the Match.
I have previously opined on the other recent West Coast sailing tragedies (the one America’s Cup fatality in May, the four fatalities on Aegean in the Ensenada Race last April, and the five fatalities on Low Speed Chase in the Farallones Race also last April), but have only mentioned in passing the incident aboard the Columbia Carbon 32 Uncontrollable Urge, wherein one crew member, Craig Williams, was killed after the boat lost its rudder and was driven ashore on San Clemente Island during the Islands Race this past March. Just yesterday the four surviving crew published their account of the accident in a joint statement released online. It’s worth taking a look at, as it contradicts, implicitly and explicitly, some earlier published accounts.
One striking distinction is that where all previous accounts state that the crew attempted to anchor the boat to prevent it from being driven ashore, there is no mention of anchors in this new account. Instead it describes the crew’s unsuccessful efforts to steer the boat with two emergency rudders, drogues, and warps, and by motoring. But they don’t actually state they did not try to anchor, so they may have just left that part out.
Uncontrollable Urge at the start of the 2013 Islands Race. The boat was new and the crew states they raced it conservatively
There is also a detailed description of the crew’s disposition as the boat first grounded and was rolled by waves: two crew thrown overboard to swim ashore, two crew thrown overboard but trapped in tethers, two crew remaining aboard. The tethered crew evidently did manage to free themselves, which seems to contradict one published account that stated that Williams was killed by the falling rig while tethered to the boat.
To me the most striking feature in this joint account is a statement that five of the six crew, who all ended up in the water eventually, had their inflatable lifevests pulled up over their heads, including those with crotch straps, as they struggled in the heavy surf. It is implied, but not stated, that Williams may have drowned as a result of this.
Craig Williams and the family he left behind. His wife was pregnant with a second child at the time of the accident
Personally, this leads me to wonder if one might be better off without any lifevest when trying to swim in surf. Thinking of all the time I’ve spent messing with large waves while swimming off beaches, I know that being able to quickly dive under a breaking wave can often be very useful. The crew, however, merely concludes that Type 1 lifejackets will work better in these situations than inflatable Type 5s.
For some the most important part of this story revolves around the question of why the crew didn’t accept assistance early on when they had the chance. But to me this never seemed mysterious or questionable at all: they felt they had control of the situation and didn’t want to mess up anyone else’s race. Up to a point, this is perfectly commendable. In all Uncontrollable Urge was adrift for two and a half hours before being driven ashore, and for much of that time the crew obviously believed a commercial towboat could reach them in a timely manner.
The account concludes with various recommendations, the last of which directly contradicts an important recommendation of the independent panel that investigated the Low Speed Chase tragedy. That is, the UU crew, unlike the LSC panel, believes that race committees should establish offset marks when sending fleets to race around offshore islands. To me this seems obvious, and I still don’t understand why the LSC panel simply ruled this out without any analysis or discussion. Three of the four fatal West Coast accidents involved boats running up on islands. In that the West Coast is nothing but lee shore, one would think this would be a no-brainer.
Another very interesting UU crew recommendation is that all skippers should post at their nav stations a copy of the official decision flow chart used by Coast Guard personnel when answering distress calls. (A copy of same is appended to the statement and is reproduced below.)
New places, new experiences, old friends: lots to learn about and explore around Kuching.We visited the orangutan rehabilitation center outside of town. It was hard not to compare with our incredible trip to Kumai. While Semenggoh had the same majestic primates… …it was a pretty different environment. It was full of good information, though some of it was a little misleading. You’d think there’s be a little more about the palm oil plantations destroying orangutan habitat in Malaysia, but that was probably a conflict of interest for someone. Afterwards, we continued out towards the highlands to visit a longhouse belonging to a Bidayuh community, a collective name for several indigenous groups in Sarawak. Built up off the ground, the homes of individual families are fronted by a shared bamboo boardwalk- the long part of longhouse. The Bidayuh are very welcoming. Our greeting included shots of rice wine… at 10:30 in the morning! Not what I expected, but OK. Many Bidayuh no longer live in longhouse communities, but this one thrives: possibly because of an interesting blend of old traditions with modern practices.
Most residents shared a wall between the homes built on either side of the long community space, with style of trim or color of paint distinguishing neighbors. And there were cats. Lots and lots of cats.The head house is an identifying characteristic of the Bidayuh longhouse. We thought that meant, you know, the primary house. Actually, it’s referring to the heads. Theirs are now locked for safekeeping, but still hung in the traditional spot where a fire might smoke beneath. The headhouse also held the router for community satellite service. In front, peppercorns dried on the split bamboo flooring near a line where beaten bark cloth dried before another round of pounding. A bit of the old, a bit of the new. Getting out of the river into Bako National Park to swing at anchor and be cooled by the breeze was a relief. Dirty fuel has clogged our filters much faster than expected, and we were out of spares. A new primary was delivered from Yanmar in Singapore with enough time for a few days floating around Pulau Lakei. Trails through the woods brought mysterious graves, the whisper of monkeys, and a lot of the interesting nepenthes – pitcher plants – in all sizes.
I loved them, but they didn’t compete with tide pools for the kids. On the other hand, very little can compete with tide pools.
Except, maybe, perfect sunsets.
I knew I liked New Caledonia as soon as we entered the pass. Erik and the girls were at the bow while I was checking the chart when I heard cries of: “Dolphin! Dolphin!” And sure enough, we had a cetacean visitor guiding us in to Noumea. Very civilized. Or rather, wild, which is the way we like itBienvenue! Job number one when we get to port is to let the girls run. Ten days is a long time to be cooped up in a small space, and even swinging on the handholds (our own personal monkey bars) can only do so much. So while Erik and I got water and worked on the boat, they practiced kung fu by day and danced outside to the live band playing in the cafe every evening. In short, they shook their sillies out. Noumea has a nice vibe to it, but it didn’t take long to find evidence of culture clash in our happy bay. New Caledonia is French, but a lot of Anglophones sail through here. As you can imagine, cultural mores differ. For example, this was posted in the Women’s room: For those of you whose French is a little rusty, it says, “After numerous complaints from our clients, we would ask our male users to respect the non-mixing of the showers. Couples who wish to take their shower together should do so by the Men’s.” I have collected a lot of sign photos over the past few years, but this is now far and away my favorite. What is the history here? What mighty battle of Prudes vs. Nudists was fought on these shores? In my mind, an elderly Australian lady tottered into the loo, only to be confronted with some French block-and-tackle and a friendly, “Bonjour!” And, ka-boom! I love that co-ed showers are not banned – just restricted to a more favorable environment. And everyone is happy, right? I should also point out that both restroom doors are perpetually open and in view of each other, so if ever there were a pointless solution, this is it. Today, we were ready to anchor out. Hurrah! I hate marinas – I never sleep well. So off we went. When we drop anchor, I am at the bow operating the anchor chain, and Erik drives. As we got underway, I discovered issue #1: the chain wouldn’t come out. So I got to crawl into one of my favorite places – the anchor locker – to sort it out. Somehow, the chain came down the hawsepipe, then disappeared into the aft starboard corner of the locker under all of the rest of the 70 m of chain. I love it when the chain flops over at sea – it makes me feel so needed when we reach port. So I hauled all of the chain out of the way, released my leading end, and got delightfully rusty and dirty in the process. Back on deck, I waited for the signal as Erik manoeuvred. Normally Erik cooly points downwards when he is ready, but this time he started shouting, “Drop it! Drop the anchor!” Never a good sign. As it turns out, he had suddenly lost power to the propeller. A brief investigation revealed that the coupling on our propeller shaft failed… and boy, does it look ugly. Luckily we are set up in a good spot, because we aren’t going anywhere until we fix it. So we might be in a Noumea a little longer than we planned. That’s okay. We have sun, baguette, and, most importantly, the girls are back in the water. Ice cream break. We are home again.