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ABANDONING BE GOOD TOO: The Builder Responds

Fri, 2014-05-16 17:57

Back when I published my blog post about abandoning the Alpha 42 Be Good Too in January, I told Gregor Tarjan, president of Aeroyacht, builder of the boat, that I would publish in full any statement he cared to make about the incident. He declined at that time, but he has decided to make a statement in response to the story about the incident (which I also wrote) that has appeared in the current print edition of SAIL.


by Gregor Tarjan, designer of the Aeroyacht ALPHA 42 catamaran BEE GOOD TOO

The following statements are in reaction to SAIL magazine’s article in the May 2014 issue, “Abandoning BEE GOOD TOO”

I was not aboard this delivery so my opinion is purely based on the facts regarding the construction of the boat and the circumstances in which the crew founds themselves. Since the January incident I have answered 100′s of emails and phone calls from readers and customers who were eager to know more. The purpose of this statement is not to accuse or criticize but to share our perspective with those interested and provide information that was omitted from the article. Rumors are often based on theories deriving from incomplete information. This letter might help clarify.

“Casual” is the one word that comes to my mind when thinking of the misfortune of BEE GOOD TOO. It describes the entire preparation, execution and abandonment of our boat. Points below describe my perspective for this view and the circumstances leading to the accident which, otherwise, may have been avoided. Nevertheless, in spite of the odds, the boat’s integrity and structure withstood the worst weather and kept the crew alive!

1) TESTING: Alpha Yachts tested the boat for weeks before handover. On the final test I, personally, sailed the boat under very harsh conditions by sailing it shorthanded, counterclockwise around Long Island in blizzard conditions. Outside temp’s averaged -20 Fahrenheit (-28 Celsius) winds were up to 40 knots and (short) seas about 10′ high. My plan was to test to the breaking point. A constant sheet of inch-thick ice covered the deck and at one point the boat was buried under 30″ of snow. The generator, engines and all the systems ran, non-stop, for 14 days to avoid freezing and becoming inoperable. Every system worked flawlessly.

Was the boat perfect? Of course not, no boat is. There were issues: minor leaks (not dribbles) appeared through the seals of the saloon windows, emergency hatch seals, forward deck hatch seals and forward starboard to crossbeam attachment. Subsequently boats to be delivered this year by the builder, have been altered to eliminate these shortcomings. When I short-stopped in Port Jefferson, NY, all these issues were attended to so that I felt secure to continue the test and hand over the boat to the new owners in New Jersey.

2) SCHEDULE: Each and every crew member had a time based commitment to fulfill shortly after the boat arrived at its destination as they had verbally expressed to me. Anyone who goes to sea in a sailboat certainly well knows that a fixed schedule is a risk factor one does not wish to adhere to, most definitely when sailing a new vessel on a direct route offshore, in the North Atlantic, during one of the most severe winters on the U.S. meteorology record. Many readers on the forums have criticized the fact that when the crew was only 70 miles East of Norfolk, VA a forecast of an impending Low easily allowed a turn to shelter. Instead the opposite was decided—the boat was directed Eastward into the path of the storm. I will refrain from a critic of this decision made by the captain. I was not aboard. They may have felt sufficiently assured to face the worst.

3) PREPARATION: At the owner’s request I, personally, placed and stored the items, he furnished, aboard the boat; giving me first hand knowledge of the inventory of BE GOOD TOO. I noted that there were no spare parts provided, no voltmeter, no tools to speak of except for a small case of home builders’ tools—certainly a questionable manner of equipping oneself for a leaving shore.

No time was allotted for becoming acquainted with the boat. Should one sail aboard a brand new boat without a primary level of familiarization? No member of the crew had, because to do this, time did not permit it, since there were future commitments to be fulfilled.

Casual? Overconfident? In a rush? From my perspective all of the above.

3) JIB LEAD: The self tacking jib lead from SELDEN never worked properly. I had noticed this on my test of the boat. SELDEN promised to send the correct fitting but it would take them another week to get the part to NY. Gunther, the owner, dismissed it, preferring to sail with the bad lead, opting for the replacement part be sent to the Caribbean for pick-up upon his arrival. I could not convince him to wait for it before setting off.

We were five months late, I must admit, with the delivery of his boat and he, obviously, was anxious to reach warm weather. Nevertheless, not a reason to leave a delivery of an item without which may put yourself, crew and boat at risk. I warned Gunther the bad jib lead would not hold up to strong winds for too long, especially on stbd-tack. In fact, and for this very reason, one of the first things to go wrong was the parting of the jib sheet.

Theoretically, because of the jury rig of the jib, the boat could not sail efficiently under the main alone. Had the boat been sailed with a proper jib lead and double reefed main, she could have been sailed with more speed up the wave face. Since she was slow (the skipper estimates 4-6 KNOTS) although I guess much slower, the boat was easily shoved backwards by the large rogue wave that hit them squarely. The disastrous effect was purely a matter of seamanship and a tight schedule.

4) RUDDER CONSTRUCTION: When I first saw the rudders as they were constructed I was concerned about their weight and how overbuilt they appeared. A complete overkill for a 42′ 10T cat, I thought. After the incident I thoroughly investigated the rudders’ construction. Alpha Yachts followed the standard specifications of the Edson Steering system rudder stock to tiller arm attachment and overbuilt the rest. Edson suggested two types: one with two locking bolts which affixed the rudder stock to the tiller arm, the other with a single smaller bolt and a key as is traditionally seen. The builder opted for the twin bolt set-up.

I have seen many rudders in my life: from custom to production catamarans ranging from 30-130′. Alpha Yacht’s was a monster. I tried to pick one up—it was overwhelming! Let’s get the record straight. The Alpha’s rudder consists of a 1.5″ stainless steel rudder post which tapers slightly at the bottom to receive the foam cored rudder blade. The rudder blade, itself, is affixed to the post by 3 horizontal and 2 vertical 3/8″ x 2″ wide thick stainless flat bar struts. They are all seam welded by a certified welder. I personally saw the welds. The rudder post is locked to the tiller arm by the use of two 3/8″ threaded bolts (not set screws, as they were identified in the article) with a 3/4″ bury that act as a lock, but also serve as a safety mechanism in case the boat is pushed backwards, so they could theoretically shear and leave the rudder undamaged. The massive tiller arm was a 3/4″ thick by 4″ wide stainless steel bar. Nonsense stated that the crew could not drop the rudder as it would float, is incredulous to say the least. At close to 130 lbs. of mainly solid stainless steel and a bit of foam, is floating, at all, possible?!

Let’s compare the Alpha 42′s rudder to a contemporary production 41′ cat that has been built more than 200 times by a major manufacturer. This production example has a smaller, 1.25″ diameter solid stock and 2 horizontal blades only, and no vertical blades to hold the rudder which also weighs 1/3 less.

I can say, with conviction, that the rudder of the Alpha 42 was completely overbuilt for the job. It is logical that the crew could not dislodge the rudder because the stock was slightly bent from being pushed violently backwards acting like a giant spring jamming itself in the upper and lower bearings. Only a crowbar, or attaching a line to winch the blade backwards, could possibly dislodge it. To know that a fighter jet will fly at Mach 2 forward but only at 50 mph in reverse, causing the plane’s rudders to flip back and fail, is elementary knowledge. As the captain described in his official insurance report “….no boat rudder could have withstood this”

5) ABANDONMENT: I was not on scene so I will refrain from commenting or criticizing the crews inability to fix the issue and their actions to leave the boat. The ocean is a chaotic environment. Put 4 people on a yacht, under duress, who are overconfident, on a tight schedule, with a minimum of tools on hand to fix problems, nor advanced preparation, establishes a too complex chemistry for outsider commentary. Nevertheless, I will always wonder WHY WASN’T A LOCATING BEACON LEFT ABOARD? The owner had a brand new EPIRB and the skipper a functioning, hand-held SPOT locator device. In fact I tracked their every move in the N. Atlantic with the help of this small device. The question will always remain: why weren’t either of these two locator devices left aboard to enable a salvage crew, the manufacturer or an insurance company to retrieve the boat? What does this tell us? There are far too many theories, most too controversial to mention.

At the end of the day, we have reached peace with the loss of our initial Alpha 42—a boat in which we invested our ultimate best. She was built like a tank. She withstood a major storm. I already knew that when testing her in the harshest conditions off Long Island. The proof that 4 sailors walked away, unharmed, had a chance to write about the incident, proves the boat protected them to the last minute. And to think that she was abandoned without a thought of retrieval! A 10T, 1000 sqft unlit, unmarked floating platform to be left as a hazard to navigation itself opens channels of wonderment… As noted above, was the boat flawless? Being our very first it had some minor, easily fixable issues; none of which reasoned abandonment. Yet in a perverted kind of way what happened is the best form of praise to the strength of our boat—she withstood 50+ knot winds, 20′ seas and a rogue wave. Much lesser conditions have put boats away forever. It should be noted that the area North of the Bermuda Triangle, especially in winter, has the highest waves on record. Confused warm water eddies and strong winter winds build towering seas. Commercial supertankers have been broken in half by 100′ monster rogue waves. The Alpha 42 was located in exactly that spot.

I am sure this writing will stir a new flurry of, in Charles Doane’s words, “armchair admirals.” 100′s of people who really wished to know the scoop behind the story picked up the phone to call me. I opted to leave it at that, however, after the publication of the May SAIL article I felt the need to publish my official statement.

The official insurance report submitted by the captain clearly blames the incident on a rogue wave. The owners have a new boat, another catamaran, and have been paid by the insurance company.

The crew is, thankfully, alive.

I hope that the incident has offered an element of the positive and that we all have learned something.

Our boat is gone and I hope that a poor fisherman in Spain will find her, salvage her and enjoy her with family and friends.

Gregor Tarjan
president, Aeroyacht Ltd

Gregor Tarjan, left, president of Aeroyacht, and his partner, boatbuilder Marc Anassis

Editor’s Note: This is Gregor’s statement in full as I received it. I’ve had my say, so I will not comment on it, except to note that I am not certain why he spells the boat’s name with two Es in Be. On the boat’s transom it was spelled with one E, so that is how I have always spelled it.

Also, I have more information regarding the insurer. Two days after we abandoned the boat, Falvey Insurance, the policyholder, commissioned a search. Two sorties were flown from Norfolk, Virginia, aboard a Lear 35 jet. The plane each time was only able to spend an hour on station at the vessel’s presumed location, and the search was not successful.

Motorboats, PWCs lead in Boating Fatalities

Fri, 2014-05-16 10:16

From Coast Guard Public Affairs

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Coast Guard released its 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics Wednesday, revealing that boating fatalities that year totaled 560 — the lowest number of boating fatalities on record.

From 2012 to 2013, deaths in boating-related accidents decreased 14 percent, from 651 to 560, and injuries decreased from 3,000 to 2,620, a 12.7 percent reduction. The total reported recreational boating accidents decreased from 4,515 to 4,062, a 10 percent decrease.

The fatality rate for 2013 of 4.7 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels reflected a 13 percent decrease from the previous year’s rate of 5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. Property damage totaled approximately $39 million.

“We are pleased that there have been fewer accidents on waterways in recent years and thank our partners for their work,” said Capt. Jon Burton, director of inspections and compliance at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters. “Together we will continue to stress the importance of life jacket use, boating education courses and sober boating.”

The report states alcohol use was the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 17 percent of deaths. Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and machinery failure ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.

Where the cause of death was known, 77 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned; of those drowning victims, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket. Where boating instruction was known, 20 percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction. The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats, personal watercraft and cabin motorboats.

The Coast Guard reminds all boaters to boat responsibly while on the water: wear a life jacket, take a boating safety course, get a free vessel safety check and avoid alcohol consumption.

To view the 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics, go HERE.

Changing transducers — “So you have a 5200 problem?”

Fri, 2014-05-16 02:00

Written by Ben Ellison on May 16, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

I’m tentatively proud of Gizmo’s 2014 forward transducer installs (which you can see better by clicking on the photo above). I knew it would be hard to remove the three ducers installed there in 2010 and “mistakes were made” during the replacement phase, but I’m fairly sure the boat is set up now to properly compare EchoPilot FLS with ForwardScan, and I also look forward to checking out the manly HD version of Navico StructureScan. Plus, there are yet other possibilities for the forward retractable casings and two new fixed transducers back aft…

The biggest problem was removing the big old Interphase FLS transducer, which I had installed with liberal quantities of 3M 5200 adhesive/sealant. Yes, it’s recommended for permanent bonds, and I’ve seen fine hardwoods fail before a good 5200 joint, but a protruding transducer on the keel could be easily knocked off in a hard grounding. I figured that wicked tough 5200 would maximize the possibility that the transducer would shear off instead of pulling its stem out, thus leaving the boat with a significant underwater hole. At any rate, I asked around and did some Googling, and one trick I came up with was the $4 Coghlan Pocket Saw you can see in the photo above. It did a nice job of separating the transducer and 5200 layer from the fairing block that I hoped to retain for the EchoPilot casing. But, as indicated by the scars on the transducer stem, more brutal techniques were required to get the darn thing to drop out of the boat…

Here’s the bilge access in Gizmo’s forward cabin, a significant reason why installing transducers here makes some sense. Note the pipewrench, two-pound maul, and most especially the long tapered electric drill bit. What ultimately got the old transducer to move was drilling around the stem — not a problem as the Echopilot casing required a bigger hole — and also injecting the area with some special gunk. But before discussing that, I’ll add that it was relatively easy to remove the old plastic housing for the DST800 to install a similar-size bronze Airmar B617 valved housing that will accommodate either the DST800 or the coming Simrad ForwardScan transducer. Note also the air conditioner and head flush water seacock hose that I detached, as it figures in the comedic end to this tale…

I can attest to the DeBond Marine Formula slogan, “This Stuff Really Works,” and that includes 5200. In fact, when I asked about DeBond at my wonderful local Hamilton Marine outlet, the savvy salesman’s immediate and deadpan response was, “So you have a 5200 problem?” Well, I explained, not really a problem (as the forward bilge has been bone dry ever since the 2010 install), but I am going for a redo. DeBond is not magic. It won’t melt 5200 so you can simply reverse an install, but it does slowly work away at the bond between the polysulfide and whatever surface it’s adhered to, and you can speed that process with a knife, wire saw, or drill.

Now, how do you make a small hole into a big hole? Hole saws have a center guide bit and are very hard to control if that bit is spinning in air. The trick was a set of Plastimo tapered wooden plugs (that are smart to have onboard anyway). I hammered one into the old Interphase hole, sawed off the remnant, and proceeded to use every size of hole saw I have between the EchoPilot’s 2.5″ stem diameter and its 3.25″ flange, the idea being to fair the flange into the already vertical Interphase block. That part went well, but please bear this in mind: When you dry fit a transducer housing, make sure you not only apply the interior nut, but also make sure there’s still enough thread left to snug down the transducer or blank plug. Also, be darn careful during the final install not to cross thread the nut so that you can’t tighten it properly and also can’t remove it. And be aware that a combination of those errors might lead you to call your daughter on a Sunday evening to squat beneath your boat with a wrench so you can desperately undo the 5200 mess you’ve created!

The aft transducer install went much more smoothly. The above photo shows the nice fairing block that comes with the Raymarine CPT-120 CHIRP sonar and downview transducer, and the inset illustrates how you can use its squared off flange to temporarily mount the block so you can run it safely through a tablesaw tilted to match the deadrise of your hull…

And here’s the finished install well aft of the forward transducers but forward of the propeller. The middle transducer is an Airmar 50/200 kHz that came with Gizmo and has served well with various Raymarine MFDs over the years. Finally, most forward is the new Airmar B75 medium frequency (80-130 kHz) CHIRP ducer that I’ll be able to switch between Garmin and Simrad displays. It’s nice to add that I took the main photo yesterday, more than 24 hours after the boat was launched, and the area is completely dry. (There will be a future entry about that blue water-based copper-free Pettit HydroCoat Eco anti-fouling paint I’m also testing.)

Unfortunately, it took a whole day to assure myself that the forward transducers are also completely sealed. That’s because I’d left that hose undone and it turned out that having the seacock shut off does not mean that the seacock is shut off. Which made for some busy moments as Gizmo sat in the travellift slings and I’m not happy about driving around for 18 months with a failed seacock, though I do have those tapered plugs. Oh, and I also have a Macris underwater light mounted near the forward transducers. I think that underlighting the bow may look pretty cool, plus the light could be useful if I ever come across a camera that fits in either the 2- or 2.5-inch casings. Note how I wedged the future ForwardScan casing to get it vertical and tried to sculpt the fairings hydrodynamically. I’m not sure how I did, but poor fairing should show up as a drastic drop in performance as speed increases. Testing is still a few weeks off, however, as I’m also replacing almost every other electronics component on poor Gizmo. It seemed like a good idea last fall.

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

What’s an eATON? I’m Glad You Asked

Thu, 2014-05-15 20:38

By Kimball Livingston Posted May 15, 2014

Ready for electronic aids to navigation? They’re here, in beta, though you may not see them yourself, soon-type soon. And please understand them as supplements, not replacements, for your favorite bells and whistles. And lights. This is an experiment, but I’ll call it the beginning of an inevitable evolution. And it’s only natural for the first deployment to take place in the waters closest to Silicon Valley.

In a prepared statement, the commander of Coast Guard Sector San Francisco, Capt. Gregory Stump, described these electronic aids to navigation—eATON—as an important initiative for the Coast Guard “as we explore the use of new technologies to enhance safety and protect the environment. There is no better place to evaluate this technology than the challenging waters of San Francisco Bay, and we look forward to receiving feedback from local mariners on how we can improve this service.”

At present there are 25 of these virtual aids, including five eATON marking the bridge towers on the western span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. According to the Coast Guard, speaking of all 25, “This suite of eATON is intended to assist mariners with navigation, particularly during periods of heavy fog or congestion on the Bay.”

There was about a quarter of a mile of visibility on January 7, 2013, when the 752-foot tanker, Overseas Reymar, rammed the underwater base of one of the Bay Bridge towers at about 11:20 a.m. The ship was unloaded, bound for sea.

The waters were less lucky on November 7, 2007, when the 902-foot container ship, Cosco Busan, well-loaded, thank you, gashed its side on the fender of the bridge’s Delta Tower and dumped more than 53,000 gallons of bunker fuel. That’s the Cosco Busan in the pic at top. Afterward, the name was changed to Hanjin Venezia.
Be sure to wave.

Both ships were equipped with plenty of technology to allow captain and pilot to avoid the human errors that caused those incidents, so we know that the incremental enhancements of virtual buoys do not, in themselves, make a game changer. But when it comes to navigational information, more is more.

At this stage, the eATON are operable, and all AIS and electronic charting systems should receive the data—but not all are coded to display it. The San Francisco Bar Pilots use the commercial version of Rose Point Navigation Systems software, which does display the eATON. The company’s recreational product, Coastal Explorer, has the functionality, but, as explained by senior support engineer Steven Hodgen, “Coastal Explorer supports these messages, although they are turned off by default, because most of the messages being broadcast these days are tests.

“To turn them on, go to Main Menu > Options… > AIS and look for a checkbox under the heading Other Targets called, “Show Aids to Navigation”, and check it. There are some new recommendations on symbology which we will be adding in a future update, so how they appear on the chart will be changing.”

As further explained by the Coast Guard, this early stage demo of eATON is operating on the premise that if you build it, they will come. That is, that more software providers will have the incentive to incorporate the capability of displaying eATON, and down the road it will be the new normal.

And no, what you see below, on the eastern span, has nothing to do with a ship collision. The old eastern span is going away quickly . . .

BLUE PLANET TIMES 2014-05-15 13:51:15

Thu, 2014-05-15 14:51

In 2006, your editor sailed Newport-Bermuda, the centennial edition, with Joe Harris and crew in an Open 50 that Harris hoped to race solo around the world. That hope never panned out, despite some successes in open ocean events. Now Harris has a Class 40, Gryphon Solo2, which he is working up for the Global Ocean Race, a four-leg circumnavigation that starts in September, Southamptoon to Auckland. The GOR has solo and doublehanded divisions. Harris will go solo. He’s been wanting it for a long time. For the Atlantic Cup, he teamed with Patrick O’Conner to win leg one, Charleston to New York. The finish was more stressful than he would have wished, however. Here is Joe Harris reporting -

May 14, 2014 (Finish Day)

I am writing to report the good news that we were able to persevere and win Leg 1 of the 2014 Atlantic Cup.

The last 24 hours was quite interesting so I will tell the tale. After getting out to a great start and flying along for 36 hours from Charleston to Cape Hatteras, the wind shut off and we drifted for a bit and then somehow got re-started slower than Pleiad and Dragon so fell from 1st place to 3rd place and were at one point 20 miles behind Pleiad and 15 miles behind Dragon….. yikes! Pat and I were pretty bummed as out as our light air performance kind of sucked and we were wondering how we could get back in the hunt. Luckily the wind picked up and then came on very strong out of the Northeast so were hard on the wind in 20 knots of wind and a very nasty seaway that caused the boat to slam mercilessly. We studied the weather carefully on our downloaded GRIB files and ran our routing program “Adrena” multiple times to choose the best course to NYC and managed to nail the layline from 80 miles out given the persistent wind shift to the East that lifted us and allowed us to avoid the costly offshore tacks that both Dragon and Pleiad had to make as they were further West and bumped into the Jersey Shore. Maybe they were looking for Schnooky or The Boss or The Donald at one of his casinos? Or the very large Chis Christie offering bridge traffic advice?? Not sure, but in any event, that was the difference so we regained the lead and pounded upwind all day, led by extensive turns on the helm hand steering, as the auto pilot could not handle the sea state.

As we approached Ambrose Light at the entrance to New York harbor around 11:00 PM, Pleiad was about 2 miles back but was gaining ground in the beam reaching conditions. They closed the gap to about 300 yards as we came screaming into the main shipping channels in the pitch black doing about 14 knots in 22 knots of wind- yeehah, yippe kay yeh mother$#@&*%! With Pleiad tight on our hip, we developed a strategy to turn hard right out of the main shipping channel (break right Maverick- break right!) and hoist our A3 gennaker in the downwind conditions and pick our way through the shoals to the Verrazano Narrows bridge. I think Pleiad was caught a bit by surprise and did not follow and we ended up at the bridge about 5 miles in front of them. It’s nice when a plan works out.

So we were cruising the last 6 miles from the Verrazano Bridge to the North Cove Marina just past the Statue of Liberty loving life and feeling good. Photographer and friend Billy Black came out to meet us and shoot “the money shot” of the boat backlit against the Statue of Liberty and Pat and I were posing and grinning. As we approached the finish line still under the A3, we got literally about 20 feet from the line when the wind shut off and the 4 knot foul current began carrying us backwards toward the bridge.

I nearly wet myself…… this could not be happening….. but it was. We found a vesper of wind and sailed up the line again and were again repelled from crossing the line as the wind quit and the tide took over. Unbelievable. We tried many more times- as the race tracker shows- but it looks like the path of a sailor gone insane…. Which was how we felt. Then Pleiad showed up and joined the fun and luckily they met the same fate and then Dragon joined the party and they were stymied as well. So it looked like maybe we were going to have to wait for the tide to turn and drift across the line as we could not buck the foul current with no wind.

Finally, a breeze sprang up just as I had gone below to commit Seppuku (ritual suicide by disembowelment carried out by samurai- it was the only honorable thing to do), and luckily Pat had the patience to hang with it and we steered well upriver of the finish mark and then floated down current to the mark and pulled a wicked U-turn around the mark and just barely poked the nose over to take the gun. God- what a relief. I let out a huge yell and we dropped the sails and watched with interest as Pleaid and Dragon duked it out in an incredibly close finish that Dragon took by a nose. Pretty amazing after 650 miles of racing that it came down to just seconds. A bizarre finish to an offshore distance race and not one I am anxious to repeat.

So we secured the Leg 1 “W”, which I am very happy about, as we worked very hard for it. We are now preparing for offshore Leg 2 from NYC to Newport which will start on Saturday at noon—Joe Harris

Marion-Bermuda Adds Youth Class

Thu, 2014-05-15 12:30

By Ray Cullum, Marion-Bermuda Race Posted May 15, 2014

Is it getting harder to find crew? Is it becoming a little more difficult for your trusted mates to move about the boat as nimbly as they once did? You might consider stacking the deck with a young group of bright, willing and enthusiastic sailors for the offshore trip of a lifetime.

The Marion Bermuda Race recognizes that there is an age gap in participants of offshore racing and understandably so. It takes time to have the means to invest in a solid cruising boat and the resources to put it together to do an offshore event. For years the Naval Academy and Mass Maritime have fielded boats with a select group of 18 to 22 year old sailors and have done very well. You don’t have to go to an academy to be a competent sailor and a good crew member. You just need a good boat!

So what is the opportunity? If you belong to a yacht club or boating organization you most likely have a pool of young sailors that would be extremely excited about sailing in an offshore race like the Marion Bermuda. But you don’t have to belong to a sailing organization, you can put an excellent crew of young adults together from friends and family you sail with.

The requirements are simple…crew members must be between the ages and 16 and 22 years of age and each boat must have a 3:1 ratio crew to adults. The remaining requirements will parallel what is required of every sailor doing the race (see Notice of Race) Look for additional details on the Youth Class on the Marion Bermuda Race web site in a couple of weeks.

We have already received an excellent response to the addition of the Youth Class and a number of boats are ready to participate. So don’t waste a moment, give a group of young enthusiastic sailors an opportunity to realize the joy of sailing offshore in a well founded boat and experience the joy in doing so.

Finns Fly: Take the Ride

Thu, 2014-05-15 12:12

Four years ago, the Finn Class invested in 10 stern cameras to capture the athletics involved in sailing these classic Olympic dinghies at the highest level. At the four championships since then, two medal races have been cancelled through lack of wind, one was sailed in very light winds, and then last week, finally, in France, at La Rochelle, the medals race for the Finn European championship was sailed in winds over 20 knots. Downwind, especially, it was a cranking ride. Britain’s Giles Scott won the medals race to wrap a regatta that he dominated all the way through. No other sailing class is as physical as the Finn.

Take the ride. (You may want to shut off the volume)

The Baba Saga Part Three, the final installment

Thu, 2014-05-15 11:38

Chapter three

The Baba/Panda/Tashiba saga continues



I’ll do my best to make my recollections accurate but I can’t guarantee they will be spot on. I’ll just make stuff up when I get stuck. It’s the precise sequence of events that gets a bit hazy for me. Not sure it’s critical and maybe Bob Berg will help me sort it out.


A word on some of the images:

Some of the drawings will be very hard to read. The lines plans were drawn pencil on 4 mi, double mat mylar. Some of the lines are on one side of the mylar and some of the lines are on the other side. That’s how lines are drawn so you don’t keep erasing your “grid” while you correct the hull lines. I used as 9H pencil for my grid and a 6H pencil for the lines. A 9H pencil is like drawing with a nail! A 6H pencil is not much better. But I need these very hard pencil leads to get the sharpest and thinnest line I can get for accuracy. I could have gone sloppy and used 4H pencils but I would not have been fooled and I would have just made more work for the loftsman. But,,,you would have had nicer images o look at here. The ability to draw an accurate set of hull lines is the mark of a true craftsman. Each set of lines takes up to a week to finish. Many thanks to Donn and Kerry Christiansen for the photos of BRIGADOON. And, thanks for letting me drive in the race.


The Baba 30 was rolling along. Bob Berg was working with Flying Dutchmen and selling Baba 30′s. Then I was asked to design a bigger Baba, a 35′er. I jumped at this  I jump at all new design commissions) because I saw it as a way of correcting some of the errors I had made on the Tayana 37. Despite the fact that we always called this design the “Baba 35″ in my office the brokerage, Flying Dutchman, decided to market the boat as the Flying Dutchman 35. This was a bit confusing to everyone but I think some friction was building at the brokerage that I was not privy to. Maybe Bob Berg will chime in and give us some insight here. But Bob’s the type who never, ever says anything bad about anyone, like me, so I doubt we’ll hear from him on this. There was one guy at Flying Dutchman who drove me nuts. I’ll call him Norm. When I disagreed with Norm his response was just to repeat what e had said butt slower and louder. Kind of like, “Maybe you didn’t understand the first time.” It was very annoying. But we built the boat at Ta Shing with Ta Shing’s usual top quality work.



I love the deck on this boat. The side decks are broad and there is a lot of shape to the cabin trunk. It’s a very harmonious look. The hull shape was a derivative of what I had done on the Tayana 37. When the first boat came in it was floating a bit stern high and light! Light? From Taiwan? This was a first. I added some trim ballast aft of the internal ballast slug in the keel. This kept the VCG low. Then I redesigned the ballast slug to add some additional iron and move the LCG aft a wee bit to correct the trim.


The boat looked great but I wasn’t wild about the way it sailed. Essentially it sailed just like the Tayana 37. That wasn’t a bad thing but I did not feel I had advanced the performance of the type with the 35. I had sort of gone sideways. That kept me from warming up the the 35.



But then along came Donn and Kerry Christiansen with their pilot house 35. Donn  and Kerry were looking for a boat they could live aboard and eventually do some offshore cruising. They settled on a pilot house Flying Dutchman 35. It was in “fair” shape when they bought it. But Donn and Kerry are both very resourceful so with a lot of energy, a lot of great ideas and some money thrown in for good luck they have restored BRIGADOON to the great shape she is today. They love their boat. Donn is a musician so we hit it off right away.  Donn has a strong Irish tenor voice. I have a weak Ballard Baritone voice. But I can belt it out,,,when I’m drunk. In fact while they live aboard I am storing his father’s guitar in my office. But I was a bit surprised when Donn suggested that they might sign up for the Race Your House regatta. This is a race for live aboards only. I thought it was a fun idea so in a moment of weakness I told Donn I’d be happy to crew for him in the race. Many weeks went by and then I got an email to the effect, “See you at the gas dock 9am Saturday.” WTF? I tried to think of ways to get out of it but I didn’t come up with one so off to Shilshole I went Saturday morning. I was met on the dock by Donn and my Australian buddy James Judd aka Juddy aka Trickypig. Donn had bumped into James the night before on the dock and James had volunteered to race with us. Now this was really good news. Juddy is a world class racer and on top of that a  fellow Australian and fine fellow to have fun with. Off we went to race Donn and Kerry’s house. This was serious.



The fleet was mixed to say the least. The biggest boats were up near 50′ and the smallest around 27′. All types were represented. The only qualifier being that you had to be a full time live aboard. We had a good 10 knots of breeze at the start. I drove, Juddy called the start tactics. Donn trimmed. Kerry sat below in the pilot house muttering things like, “Why did I ever agree to this?” Donn is not a racer but he is competitive and he quickly got into the mood and his crew work was fast and efficient. He clearly enjoyed the close competition.



Here we were on the first weather leg, pilot house, full keel,  double ender, dingy in davits and full cruise gear, charging up the course. We did have one real advantage in that we had brand new Carol Hasse sails. At first the other boats, many with fin keels, looked over at us, waved and smiled. But we drove the boat hard and Juddy made good tactical calls. Kerry by now had totally gotten  into navigating us to the marks and was having a good time. By the last leg, a beat in about 15 knots true, rail down, we were well ahead of almost everyone in our class and nipping at the heels of much bigger boats and even passing some. We weren’t getting the friendly waves anymore. Now it was more like, “What the hell are you doing up here?” We were second in our class to finish and second on corrected time. To us it really felt like victory. I was very proud of my design. We showed many boats what a full keel boat can do, with a dinghy in the davits! My appreciation for my design soared. It was one of the most enjoyable races I have ever raced. Everyone had a thoroughly great time. We did kick some ass.  Kind of makes you wonder how fast an equally equipped non pilot house version sans dinghy  would have been.


Heres a pic of lovely Kerry fixing Donn some nutricious smashed tofu. They do eat like that. Sort of.


 I think what makes me the very most happiest in this design business is to see people like Donn and Kerry enhancing the enjoyment of their lives with one of my creations. It’s humbling.



Bob soon came to me with the commission for the Baba 40. It was 1979. I knew I didn’t want to use the same basic hull form that I used for the FD35 and the Tayana 37. I knew I needed some new inspiration. I pulled out the lines to the Valiant 40 and studied them. I’m not the type to just copy one of my own hulls but I was looking for something that made the performance of the V-40 so good. I finally decided to abandon the round, arclike mid sections I had used on the FD35 and go with a harder turn to the bilge and more distinct deadrise for the new Baba 40. I also flattened the hull rocker. It worked. The Baba 40 is one of my all time favorite designs. It is superbly well balanced and goes upwind in a breeze like a freight train. Example: I was looking out the front window of my Ballard house one Sunday afternoon. The wind was blowing maybe 20 TWS. Beating down the sound I saw this boat. It was too far away to recognize so I got my binoculars. This boat was really chewing up the Sound. Ha! It was a Baba 40. I have often thought that the layout on the Baba 40 was one of the very best I have ever drawn. That’s probably due to Bob Berg’s influences.


My friend Tim Morganroth owned a Baba 30 and loved it. He came into the office one day and said he was thinking about buying a Baba 40. Tim is about ten years younger than I am. I told him that the Baba 40 was “an old man’s boat”  and he was too young for it. He didn’t care. I suggested then that we soup the boat up a bit with a taller rig. The original rig was on the short side and the boat was no light air flyer. My suggestion was to add 6′ to the “I” and go with double spreaders. I also suggested a dolphin striker so he could get good headstay tension. Tim said OK. AIRLOOM is dark green and a very attractive looking boat. It has the original narrow cabin trunk. Tim started racing the boat. His competitors called it the “Furniture 40″. Fine, go ahead and laugh. Quickly Tim was winning races, lots of races. Including: @#$%$%^&&*. I have raced with Tim and he keeps a happy ship and his results are impressive. I feel very fortunate that I have someone like Tim out there racing one of my boats so effectively.




A funny thing happened at the yard while tooling was being done for the deck of the Baba 40. There was the deck plug of the Baba sitting on one side of the shop and on the other side was the deck plug for the Norsemen 447, another one of my designs. Both plugs were about in the same stage of completion but the workers were having a problem. There two are very different boats and the workers were having trouble understanding the very diverse detail treatments of the two decks. In my very best Mandarin, rudimentary at best I told them,  pointing to the Baba 40,” Zhe ge fanchuan  zhenzhu.” Pointing to the Norsemen I said, “Na ge fanchuan  zuanshi.” Meaning ( I hoped) ” This sailboat, the Baba,  is a pearl. That sailboat, pointing to the Norseman, is a diamond.” They understood immediately. The rounded and soft contours of the Baba deck were is stark contrast to the sharp and faceted deck details of the Norseman.


We also designed a pilot hose version of the Baba 40. This is one of the very best interior layouts I have ever drawn. But unfortunately I can’t take credit. It was Bob Berg directing my pencil in every detail. This layout has two full sized stateroom both with double berths. The salon or pilot house, with it’s raised dinette and sunken galley (my idea) works extremely well. I used a neat trick on the deck to get a wide pilot house. I just bumped the house sides out abruptly where the pilot house starts. It was done with some art so the final result is a very good looking motor sailer. The cockpit and treatment of the aft end of the house I worth some study. This was well done by one of my draftsmen at the time Gary Grant. Gary was a great, artistic designer with a very god eye for details.


Bob began marketing the Baba 40′s himself now  but now under the name Panda 40. Bob had lost the use of the name Baba in a dispute with Flying Dutchmen. Imagine that, losing your own nickname. In time the yard would take over the marketing and again change the name. The new name was Tashiba 40. I thought that was a bad name . It was too closed to the Japanese “Toshiba”. Too confusing. So we had the Baba 40, Panda 40 and Tashiba 40 all the exact same basic boat. As time went on small changes were made to the design details to help reduce the cost. But hull and rig remained the same. They did do a second deck. I never understood this. They widened the cabin trunk. I prefer the wider side decks myself but I think someone was after more volume below. Funny though, that additional volume is not good for anything. The added headroom is all over furniture. You can’t stand there anyway.  But no one asked me. Wonder why.


We eventually were asked to do a ketch rig for the Baba 40. I have no problem with ketches. I’m not keen on the added clutter in the cockpit and the mizzen shrouds can be a nuisance.  But several ketches were built. My pal Jeff has one and just finished rounding Cape Horn in his. He’s convinced this is a great boat.



In about 1985 B.K. Kuo, manager at Ta Shing and great guy came to me and asked about updating the  Tashiba line. They would keep the 40 as is but they wanted a new boat to replace the Baba30 and another new boat to replace the Flying Dutchman 35. I was hot to do this and agreed to start right away on the two new models. The only unusual stipulation was that B.K. wanted to come to Seattle and be in the office everyday while the new designs were being produced. Paul Fredrickson  aka “cleat” was my design associate at the time and big Paul was a great guy so I thought this could work. But where would  B.K. Stay while in Seattle. I got it. My house! I had room. My kids were so excited that a Taiwanese man was coming to stay with us. It went very smoothly. B.K. even got up at 5am with me every morning to go to the gym for a workout and a swim. He was a gamer. He even ate my cooking without complaint.



I now had the very successful Baba 40 behind me so there was no doubt as to the direction for the hull shapes of the new 31 and 36. I would once again use the firm bilge, deadrise sectional shape combined with flatter buttock and rocker. I pulled the leading edge of the keel as far aft as possible could. Paul and I worked hard on these two boats. Paul drew the lines for the  36 and I drew the lines for the 31. In all my years in the office Paul was the only help I trusted drawing hull lines for a “Perry design”. Paul did lines for the CT56 and Passport 37 also. I would draw a quick preliminary set of lines and Paul would produce the working set of lines. B.K. cracked the whip and Paul and I produced two good designs. Effort was made during the design to try and keep the build cost down by simplifying some of the details. When Bob Berg drove the project labor cost was never an issue and Bob’s boats were quite complex in their detailing., The B.K. driven boats would be simpler, cleaner and far more to my taste.



I think with these last two additions o the Tashiba line I proved that “full keel” boats do not have to be slow. Both the 31 and the 36 are even better boats than is the 40. They are deceptively quick and beautifully balanced. For fun we did a pilot house version of each boats but few were sold. I think the Pilot house Tashiba 36  is the very best looking pilot house boat you can find at 36′, anywhere, by anyone. Of course in aesthetics it is closely followed by Donn and Kerry’s beautiful BRIGADOON. The tricks we learned on the 35 and 40 pilot house models were used on the 31 and 36 PH models. Both of these are hard to find models, I think they built only two of the 31 PH models. Of course, like almost all full keel boats with the prop in an aperture they don’t back up with any style and grace at all. But in time you can learn to muscle them around in  reverse. Or, install a bow thruster.



I’ll post this blog as is. Over the next few days I’ll think of new things that I had forgotten and I endeavor to add them to the blog as time goes. I hope you have enjoyed reading my personal recollection of the Baba story. It may not be totally accurate but it is the way I remember it happening.




Via con Dios.


A follow up note on part three from Bob Berg: 

Just got this email from Bob Berg akak Baba. I’ll post it here in it’s entirety. Bob fills in a lot of the details.

Read Bob’s email slowly. There is a lot of humor in it. Bob is so softly spoken and gentle he would stand next to me while I launched into an emotional tirade and at the end Bob wuld say something like, “That’s one way of putting it” and smile. It’s really great to have honest friends like Bob.

Bob P.


Like always, you have done another great job of describing the evolution of the Baba-Panda-Tashiba saga.


Some things that come to mind:


People ask me how you can tell the difference between the boats when you see them out sailing. It’s easy; the 30 has four ports in the side of the house, the 35 has five and the 40 has six.


You say that the Baba 35 gave you “a way of correcting some of the errors that you made on the Tayana 37″. Jezz…since I had the first CT-37 (as it was called in the early days) to ever hit the water, I always thought that my boat was perfect and “error-free” and that you were God. It’s almost like saying that there really is no Santa Claus!


Yes, there was some friction brewing at Flying Dutchman at that time we started the Baba 35 (what do you expect when you have three equal partners), but that is a completely separate story that shall remain unwritten. You mention a guy called “Norm” at Flying Dutchman. I checked in my computer, but I found that someone had hit “Ctrl-Alt-Delete” and that name is no longer in my vocabulary…sorry that I can’t be of more help on that subject.


You are talking about the Baba-35, but you show a picture of the Baba-30 (remember four ports in the house side). You mention that the 35 was a bit stern high. I had forgotten all about it. I do remember we had the same problem with the first Tashiba-36. I still remember handing down lead trim ballast to you as stood in the bilge of the boat! I always thought that the 35 was a bit tender…perhaps we were still using wood spars on the first of these boats.


I developed the Baba 40 for the Ta Shing yard and not Flying Dutchman. FD owned the design and tooling for the 30 and the 35, but the Ta Shing yard paid for the design and tooling for the 40 thus it was their project. Of all of the boats that I was involved with, the Baba30, Tashiba 31, Panda 40 and Pilot House 40 all had special meaning to me. They all seemed to fit like a well-made suit. The reasons behind the name changes made to the 40 would be a completely separate chapter that also shall remain un-written. My recollection of the new tooling for the second deck for the 40 is that the yard did this at the time the new Tashiba 31 and 36 designs came out. You made some very good improvements to both the front of the house and cockpit designs for these boats and the yard wanted the 40 to also follow these improvements so their “family of boats” looked the same. I disagree with some of the small changes that the yard made to the boats in order to make them simpler and cheaper to build like reducing the size of the ports to save a few bucks…but it’s their project, not mine…so I just paid them a bit extra money to put back in the larger ports when I would order a boat!


You may want to correct the date when BK came to Seattle if you haven’t caught it yet. By the way, whatever happened to Paul Fredrickson and where is he now?


Best regards,






‘Hiiiiii HOOHHH!’ ARC Europe Fleet is Azores Bound

Wed, 2014-05-14 14:44

The classic Desiderata pulled onto the Dinghy Club just as the fleet departed Bermuda.

Click here for the event gallery to see all the photos from today’s start. Or scroll to the bottom to see a few of my own.

Waking up on a rally start day is always bittersweet. Knowing that the fleet will be heading to sea in a few hours is a relieving sensation. The work is nearly over, and after one more big push we know it’s soon time for a cold beer and a relaxing afternoon exploring Bermuda. But knowing that there are 30+ boats about to cross the Atlantic, and I’m not on one of them, is painful too.

For the first time in ten days it dawned cloudy in St. Georges. The brilliant sunshine we’ve experienced here gave way to low, gray scudding clouds that threatened rain. The breeze was back, thankfully, though still light out of the north, so we were hoping for a sailing start. The wind direction, if it filled in enough, would be perfect for the yachts to sail through the Town Cut and out to sea. Always makes for a fun spectacle.

The start time was moved up to 1100 this year, an hour or two earlier than in years past to accommodate the ferry schedule. Jockeying with a 150-foot motorboat in narrow town cut would not be an option, not with 30+ boats under sail. Bermuda Radio would be none too thrilled with that. So the morning started early, with the rally office open by 0830 and us yellowshirts scrambling around to tie up all the little loose ends that inevitably get left to the last minute by boats and crews too eager to get to sea. A propane bottle delivery to Tosca. Borrowing an airhorn for the start from Amalie II. A few bits of paperwork to collect for Lady Lisa. Last minute water top-up with the Hayes family on Morning Haze. Cycling back and forth between the Dinghy Club and Bermuda Yacht Services in town to keep Sandra and Mark happy and make sure all the boats scattered around St. Georges have paid their dockage bills. At times it feels like we yellowshirts are everywhere, and all at once.

Back at the Club, yachts started slipping lines by 0930, and making their way to the ‘inside’ starting area in the harbor just south of Ordnance Island. On occasion in years past we’ve have near disasters on the Dinghy Club wall, as anchors inevitably got crossed when boats were Med-moored and lines were inextricably fouled. Not this year. Thanks in part to the new mooring balls that Bermuda Yacht Services laid when they took over management of the Club docks, the departing process went smoothly this morning. Webster – hiiii hoohhhh! – led the way.

Lyall Burgess and Mark Soares from BYS took Mark’s small lobster boat out to set the starting line just after 1000, first helping the remaining yachts on the wall retrieve their mooring lines. The first warning signal came at 1050, with the ‘ten-minute’ horn sounded to announce the imminent start for the Multihull Division. With three catamarans over 60’, three starts were arranged this year to give the fleet plenty of room to maneuver going through the cut.

Easy Rider easily took the line at the gun at 1100 sharp and led the multihull fleet out through Town Cut, followed closely by Tosca, Malisi and Mariposa. The lightweight flyer Tosca, with all plain sail set, were overtaken just before entering the cut by a charging Malisi, who’d aggressively set their big genneker. 

Ten minutes later the boys on Webster – hiiii hoohhhhh! – grabbed the honors and just barely took the 1110 start for Class A monohulls, followed by Sparta III and Bonnie Lass. The final start at 1120 for Class B was won by Gertha 4. 

As the yachts entered Town Cut and aimed for the open sea, a remarkable thing happened; overhead, a small helicopter UAV (drone) was seen buzzing around the fleet just outside the cut. Two guys from Bermuda Aerial Media had heard about the rally start and set up their gear on top of little Gates Fort, erected just on the north side of the cut. The UAV had a gyroscopic stabilized and remote-controlled camera onboard, and the Aerial Media boys were filming the fleet as they headed to sea. One flew the UAV with a remote control, while the other manned the camera, viewing the action live on a small screen he’d positioned on a tripod. The footage will be available on shortly, and participants will have the opportunity to buy prints and video from the guys at Bermuda Aerial Media when they reach the Azores.

At press time, five yachts remain in Bermuda due to various delays. Lady Lisa, Sea Eagle and Annettine are all waiting on parts and small repairs; Amalie II is expecting a new crewmember to arrive in the next day or so and will depart then; Puerki, who only just arrived into Bermuda this morning after they were delayed leaving the BVI, arrived onto the Dinghy Club dock just after the start, and expects to leave in a few days, with hopes of catching up with the fleet in the Azores. Finally, Andromeda of Plymouth remains in the BVI but is set to depart imminently and sail direct to the Azores, as with Puerki hoping to catch the rest of the fleet up.

As for us yellowshirts? After a busy afternoon wrapping up the website and cleaning up the office, we’ll be off for a swim and a relaxing meal ashore! We’ll be on airplanes tomorrow, though I promise you we’d all rather be sailing. Good luck out there, stay safe and have fun!

DEADBEAT CRUISERS: Primadonna Wrecked and Looted

Tue, 2014-05-13 18:25

As the saying goes: what goes around comes around. Last time I posted about French cruisers Pascal Ott and Monique Christmann, they had finally been towed away Oriental, North Carolina, and then quickly disappeared in time to evade a court judgment that had been entered against them for defrauding a local chandlery manager. Since then it seems they made it to the Bahamas, where they somehow ran aground on a reef during the winter and were taken into custody by Bahamian authorities for failing to check in. They’ve been detained for months now, awaiting deportation, and meanwhile Primadonna, their decrepit steel ketch, has recently been plundered by a carefree rookie cruising family on a Leopard 38 catamaran.

As documented on the Oriental community website TownDock, the Bulgarian/Canadian family on the catamaran, called Fata Morgana, bragged about plundering the wreck on their website, The Life Nomadik, and on their Facebook page, but then deleted the relevant posts when they got a boatload of abuse from other cruisers online.

The original Facebook post, seen above, was preserved by TownDock, and they have also salvaged the blog post as a PDF file here.

The family, starring Ivo and Mira, and their teenage son and daughter, Viktor and Maya, actually seems like a lot of fun. They set out cruising last summer with “zero sailing experience” and judging from the blog have been having a blast exploring the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Read the post about their experience on Primadonna and you’ll see they treat it all as a grand adventure. “Wrecking is so much fun!” wrote Mira, who maintains the blog. They actually took a fair amount of stuff–four winches, some hardware and rope, a spinnaker, a liferaft, a surfboard, a windlass, snorkeling gear, a marine radio, a compass, some clothing, and more.

Mira models some stolen clothing aboard the wreck of Primadonna

Ivo grabs a surfboard

The wreck of Primadonna on Booby Cay, off Mayaguana, with flamingos in the foreground

Ivo gauges the headsail luff tension aboard Fata Morgana

It’s also quite apparent from the blog post that Ivo and Mira were not acting maliciously in plundering the wreck, but were simply naive. They fell for that old trope about marine salvage law–that you’re entitled to keep anything you find. (Definitely not true; for more accurate guidance on the subject, check out this post here.)

You can imagine what people online had to say about it. The crew of Fata Morgana, to their credit, confronted the storm head on and jumped into this Cruisers Forum debate here.

Meanwhile, no word on how long Pascal and Monique will be detained by the Bahamians. Apparently, no one wants to pay for their flight back to France.

Paul & Sheryl Shard of ‘Distant Shores TV’ on the Podcast!

Tue, 2014-05-13 13:45

Paul & Sheryl Shard are well known to many sailors for their Distant Shores TV series and DVD collection. They’ve been sailing for over 25 years on three boats now, and Andy sat down to Skype with them and talk about it! A very sailorly episode, this one was recorded in Bermuda (where Andy was), while the Shard’s were aboard their Southerly 49 in Georgetown, Exuma, Bahamas, actually anchored out! They talked about how they got into sailing, how they built their first boat from a bare hull, started cruising and documenting their trips on video (film back in the day), and how that has all evolved into a career! Buy their DVDs right on

Two way testing DeLorme inReachSE, plus new Explorer model & OCENS SpotCast Weather

Tue, 2014-05-13 09:30

Written by Ben Ellison on May 13, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

“Two way” doesn’t just refer to the fact that a DeLorme inReach handheld satellite messenger/tracker will let you text back and forth with people pretty much like a cell phone. I also tested the shore side of the system by loaning the sample inReachSE model to friends Doug and Dale Bruce when they went on an adventure cruise to some remote islands south of New Zealand. So that’s me messaging from Maine when I saw where they were headed (via their MapShare track), and then Doug texting me back a few minutes later. Yes, he had a little trouble with SE’s little cursor keyboard, but heck, he was in rough seas on the other side of the planet!

I was pleased with how well I could follow the Bruce’s trip on the DeLorme MapShare site associated with the device. You can see in this collage of screenshots that it took a while for Doug to find a place near their stateroom window where the inReach could see both the GPS and Iridium satellites it uses, but from then on track points with speed and altitude were captured almost every 10 minutes. So I was already learning about the amazing geology and wildlife populations of Macquarie Island as the ship approached, and I “watched” as the Bruces went ashore at the science station and spent a night running back and forth in the island’s lee (because it can get rough between the Roaring 40′s and Screaming 60′s). It wasn’t like actually seeing, hearing, and smelling half a million penguins on a cobble beach, but it definitely brought some excitement to a cold Maine winter. (You can still zoom into Doug and Dale’s trip on the PanboTest MapShare page, which also shows many other test tracks made since 1/1/2013.)

I’ve been testing the inReach system since late 2011, when the first model came out, and I became even more of a fan as the software improved and an iPad version of the Earthmate app was added. The release of the inReachSE (Screen Edition) model about a year ago got me pretty excited, and I remain that way after a lot of time using it myself. When the inReachSE is running, my iPad mini automatically connects to it and Earthmate tracks me on freely downloadable NOAA charts and worldwide topo maps while also handling messages. Nav apps can also use the inReach GPS. And the SE is much easier to leave on and tracking because of its 100 hour lithium battery and easy USB charging (and also a nifty custom RAM mount accessory). I don’t use the color screen and keypad much on the boat, but it certainly extends the device’s standalone abilities, though it is not a standalone navigation tool.

However, the brand new inReach Explorer is a standalone navigation tool, and not just an SE with new software and trim color. It can definitely do all the satellite messaging and SOS the earlier inReaches can, and it has the Bluetooth app connection, but also inside are digital compass, barometric altimeter and accelerometer sensors for better handheld navigation, and probably more processing power…

I’m not sure the Explorer is great for marine navigation — the Map icon, for instance, only gets you to a sketch of your track and waypoints — but it could be useful on shore hikes (it has track back function, too). But the Explorer is only a $80 upgrade from the $300 SE model, and I’m also intrigued by the description of how a user will be able to create routes on their DeLorme Explore “portal” (website), which will presumably sync to their Explorer handheld. Will the users of other inReach models also get routing on their Explore portal, which might sync to their Earthmate app (when online)?

I’m happy to add that the inReachSE and Explorer models now have a worldwide weather option thanks to OCENS SpotCast (which also works with Iridium Xtreme and Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro texting). Of course it has to be quite succinct to fit the inReach’s 160 character maximum, but it looks like OCENS has designed the service cleverly. Each message covers 24 hours in four six-hour forecasts and if you’ve purchased the 72 hour option — unlimited forecasts for $8 a month or $80 a year — you can ask for 1, 2, or 3 days at once. The latter detail is nice because the messages will also come out of your service plan, but note that DeLorme started offering a very flexible Freedom Plan earlier this year.

So how does the DeLorme inReach system compare to the SPOT product family these days? The table found in the inReach brochure (download here) is a start. The only inaccuracies I can see are that SPOT covers much more ocean than “Most Land Masses” suggests and that the only Spot model that can pair with a mobile device is the older Connect. But of course the trick to comparison tables is looking for the lines that the manufacturer who created it left out. In the case of inReach versus EPIRB/PLB I think the missing lines involve international search and rescue authority management and history of reliability. For inReach versus Spot I guess the missing lines relate to cost and simplicity…

In fact, I tried a beta version of the Gen3 Spot last summer and it really is an improvement on previous models. The power options are much more flexible and batteries last a lot longer because the Spot3 stops sending track positions when you stop moving. It will also track indefinitely instead of shutting down after 24 hours. These are important changes because the Spot has become quite popular for boat tracking. But I don’t think many boaters use the other features; after all, the “custom message” button only means that you can send a message you already wrote on your Spot website and there are no return messages. I was a Spot fan for many years, but now the technology seems quite dated compared to inReach.

I was a little surprised, for instance, that the Spot3 doesn’t include the Bluetooth and app features already developed for the Connect model, so users could have both standalone and mobile options (like inReach users do). And I didn’t see many improvements in the Spot tracking and management site; it still seems complicated to use and still only saves data for 30 days (though there are workarounds like Spot Adventures). Meanwhile, the DeLorme Explore site keeps getting easier to use and yet more powerful, and it has saved years of my tracks and messages now, fun to look through. Obviously I favor inReach. Am I missing something?

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

Keep It Accessible

Mon, 2014-05-12 18:09

What is wrong with this picture? Take a good look. We see a hose run above, a seacock below… wait a minute. What about that hose in the middle?  The part someone built into a wall and then painted over? Gee, I hope that never fails, because someone is going to have a hard time getting at it.


That hose did fail,and that person is me.  And if there is one thing I resent, it is making an easy job hard.  I have enough to do without battling this sort of nonsense.  So today, dear readers, we are going to take a refresher course on Things I Promise Never To Do On My Own Boat Or Amy Will Track Me Down And Beat Me Senseless With My Vicegrips And I’ll Deserve It, Too.
Let’s take a closer look at that hose.

Hiding under that paint was a split.  I can see the left-hand side of the split, but the right-hand side disappears into the wall.  As you can see, I’ve started to gently dig out the saturated plywood to find the end of the split. But I’m not there yet. This is a colossal pain in the neck, as you can tell from this crabby post.  Even worse, it is a safety issue.

Whenever you run new cable through the boat, or new hoses, or add a cabinet, or change anything for that matter, you need to ask yourself some questions:

  1. Can I get at this again later?
  2. Am I blocking or making maintenance more difficult for other items?
  3. If and when this item fails, can I deal with it easily in an emergency?

In short: how does this placement affect the item I am working on, and all of the other items in the vicinity?

This is an easy mistake to make. Boat systems grow organically, and goodness knows I have 48 years of history to fight on this vessel. But hiding your exhaust hoses behind a wall without making an access hatch, or burying the water lines under a massive, immovable cable run is only going to cause you drama later on. Absolutely everything on your boat should be accessible – end of story. No hiding means fewer surprises means more time to sit in the hammock with a cold one.

So buy yourself some peace. Plan carefully, and think about consequences.

If you’ll excuse me, I have some more plywood to dig.

Gosling’s Rum Kicks-off ARC Europe Prizegiving & Fish Fry in Bermuda

Mon, 2014-05-12 15:31

Malcolm Gosling, 8th-generation of the famed Gosling family here on Bermuda, kicked off last evening’s festivities at the St. Georges Dinghy & Sports Club with a rousing rum tasting on the deck overlooking the harbor. Gosling’s is known for its Black Seal Rum, the main ingredient in the famed Dark & Stormy drink (Black Seal and ginger beer), popular now with sailors the world over.

Mr. Gosling began with a brief history of how the Gosling’s ended up on Bermuda in the first place.

“My great-great-great-great grandfather – or something like that – well, he sent his son from the UK to the new world to start a wine and spirits company. They chartered a schooner for 90 days. Mid-Atlantic, battling storms and pirates, the charter ran out. ‘You’ve got two options,’ said the skipper. ‘We sail back to London, or I drop you at the nearest British port.’ Determined to make his father proud, the ship pulled into St. Georges harbor and landed with over 10,000 pounds sterling worth of booze. To the few thousand inhabitants of Bermuda at that time – who’d been without any sort of libation – it was like the second coming of Christ! Two hundred years later, and we’re still here.”

Mr. Gosling and his assistant Caitlin then served up samples of the various Gosling’s products to a very receptive crowd. Participants got the chance to taste the classic Black Seal rum, the relatively new Gold Rum, and the rare and expensive Family Reserve 20-year aged rum. And, of course, the sailors got the opportunity to purchase duty-free rum, which the friendly customs folks will deliver down to the Dinghy Club prior to Wednesday’s departure for Horta.

A sufficiently lubricated crew of sailors then proceeded downstairs where Brenda and her crew had been preparing the fresh-caught mahi mahi for the evening’s fish fry (only hours earlier, a local fishing boat had unloaded the day’s catch on the Dinghy Club dock, and the crew spent the better part of the afternoon filleting it). The tables were set and the crowd packed the dining area with what we think was the largest group of ARC Europe participants ever. A slideshow of the rally so far was projected on the wall, and cheers rang out from various parts of the room as folks saw themselves and their boats in larger-than-life size on the wall.

Following the dinner event managers Lyall Burgess and Andy Schell began the prizegiving proceedings. After Lyall offered a measure of thanks to the Dinghy Club, Commodore Lacy Jennings, the folks at Bermuda Radio, Gosling’s Rum and others involved in the ARC Europe event, Andy got right into it with the annual fun prizes. This year awards were given for Best Log (Anna Sophia), Best Luau Costumes (Reberth) and Last to Arrive, awarded to Athenea who after a delay in Portsmouth, VA to fix an transmission problem, arrived onto the customs dock only an hour before the proceedings began. They were given a big cheer when they berthed at the Dinghy Club.

Andy continued the evening with the competitive awards from ARC USA (1st place in the Bermuda fleet went to Ken on the Bavaria Kristy Sue, the only ARC USA yacht brave enough to take the Bermuda route home!), and the awards for the Portsmouth fleet. The custom Moxie 61 carbon-fiber catamaran Tosca took 1st place in the multihull class, sailing the 650-mile leg to Bermuda in only 3 days, and recording 0 engine hours. Mariposa, a Dean 440 cat, took 2nd. In the Portsmouth Cruising Class, the Hardin 45 ketch Persistent Lady took 2nd, while the smallest yacht in the fleet, a Pacific Seacraft 31, Tigerlily, won 1st.

Lyall then continued with the BVI fleet awards. In the multihull class, the Voyage 400 cat Easy Rider wound up 2nd, with the Outremer 64 Malisi taking 1st on corrected time. In Class B (the smaller yachts), the family boat Morning Haze, a Hunter 410 took 3rd, Gertha 4, a Hanse 370 took 2nd, and Annettine, a Halberg-Rassey 39, corrected out in 1st place. In Class A (the larger yachts), Aurora (NL), a Gran Soleil 45, took 3rd, Ballytrim, a Swan 46, took 2nd, and Sparta III, a Wauquiez Centurion 40S took 1st.

The evening got emotional when Lyall announced the new Brian Oatley Trophy, awarded to Sparta III for their 1st-place in Class A finish. Brian Oatley, a former commodore at the Dinghy Club and one of the biggest supporters of ARC Europe over the years (and in particular, the ‘yellowshirts’ that run the event – after the re-start, Brian used to take us out in his Whaler for some gunkholing exploration and to go swimming) sadly passed away last fall. His smiling face will certainly be missed here in St. Georges. The Brian Oatley Trophy, a replica ship’s bell from Weems & Plath in Annapolis, will remain in Bermuda in the Dinghy Club’s trophy case and be awarded each year as a perpetual trophy.

Following Andy’s inspirational speech on the philosophy of sailing, the crowd filed out of the dining area and back upstairs to the Dinghy Club bar where they remained for the rest of the evening, celebrating their achievements and unwinding a bit before the real preparation begins for the 1,800 mile Leg 2.

It’s been a quiet day in the Rally Office Monday while crews do their provisioning and last minute safety check items. Newcomers to the rally Osprey, an American-flagged yacht and the Norwegian Defyr have now completed their safety checks and are ready for the leg to the Azores. They were warmly welcomed last night during the prizegiving. 10 lucky crewmembers were also given a private tour of Bermuda Radio this morning accompanied by Lyall Burgess. The annual tour is always a highlight – crews get to see the inner workings of the folks they first speak with on the radio when they make the initial approach to Bermuda.

The Skipper’s Briefing is set for tomorrow evening, and we’re looking good for an on-time start on Wednesday!

REBEL HEART: Deck Joint Damage and Sat Phone SNAFU

Mon, 2014-05-12 08:17

Eric and Charlotte Kaufman, who evacuated their boat Rebel Heart last month with their two young children, at last broke their media silence and have described some of what happened onboard to Ira Glass in a radio interview on This American Life. You can read the transcript or stream the broadcast here. The substantive facts of immediate interest to cruising sailors are a) they were taking on water due to hull-deck joint damage suffered during a broach; and b) their sat phone suddenly stopped working because the manufacturer or service provider shut it down remotely. On purpose.

I’ve seen some online commentary raising questions about the deck joint damage. (As if, what? They’re making it up?) But it makes sense to me. According to the interview, the damage occurred when the boat broached and the boom dragged in the water. Presumably the boom was made off to the rail somehow, we don’t know how exactly, and the huge load on whatever fitting was involved did the damage.

Deck joints are often a major weak spot on fiberglass boats, particularly older ones. I’ve had all sorts of problems with them leaking on different boats, even with no big shock loads in the equation, and this is one reason why I finally gave up on fiberglass and began looking at aluminum boats instead.

The really disturbing part of the Kaufmans’ tale is the sat-phone SNAFU. They used their phone to call a doctor when their daughter Lyra first got sick (per the doctor’s advice they administered antibiotics, which had no effect) and also to call the U.S. Coast Guard, to advise them of the difficulties they were having. And then the phone stopped working and flashed a “SIM Card Error” message at them. They found out later that their sat-phone company (not specified) had decided to change SIM card brands, mailed out new ones, and deactivated the old ones.

As a sat-phone owner, I would love to know a lot more about that! Even if you’re not in an emergency situation, it could create all sorts of trouble if you’re in regular contact with people on shore and suddenly get cut off.

In the Kaufman’s case, they were taking on 60-70 gallons of water a day through their deck joint, believed their HF radio had been disabled by the leak, could no longer talk to their doctor or the Coast Guard by phone, they were weeks from anywhere, and their daughter was getting worse.

Of course, they did have an EPIRB onboard.

The interview was pitched to a lay audience, so of course there are still several questions of interest to sailors that have been left unanswered. Eric Kaufman has made very brief appearances on at least one sailing forum, but has offered no substantive information, though he has mentioned that he and Charlotte may be looking for another boat. At this point, I tend to doubt whether they will ever engage in a big “info share” with sailors online. As was amply demonstrated during my own experience, sharing facts about boat abandonments online does nothing but incite critics.

The Kaufmans back onshore post-rescue

One non-technical question that was not raised during yesterday’s interview was whether there was any discussion prior to the evacuation about Eric staying behind with the boat to save it. I had assumed this was an option, but I may have been wrong.

Flying on Water

Sun, 2014-05-11 19:28

Johnny Heineken got it all wrong.

Going into last weekend’s kite racing on San Francisco Bay—on foils—the two-time kite-racing world champion and former US Rolex Yachtsman of the Year predicted, “This could be the first event in which a lot of people win races.”

Then he went out and won every race.

Shows what he knows.

The kiting scene is always in-churn, but of this moment Heineken said, “We’ve seen a lot of new energy, not a ton of development.” The top foil makers will be introducing new shapes this summer. In the meantime, the action is in ram-air kites, which are not just for training anymore. Absent a rigid structure, a ram-air kite’s double-skinned shape is maintained by bridles. It packs down to almost nothing, so it’s handy for travel but limited to light and moderate winds. The earliest versions were good for very light wind only, but now, Heineken said. “I have 9-18, and they’re efficient. Mine come from Chrono. It feels like you’re flying a wing, not a bag.”

The event was the Live2Kite Foilboard Nationals with 28 riders, sailed off Crissy Field Beach and hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club. There’s an inevitable focus on the equipment, “But’s not just a gear race,” Heineken said. “You’ve got to get clean starts, foil through maneuvers, go fast, don’t go swimming.”

And there was a lot of that.


I do believe that Erik caught Erika here, a two-time women’s world champion on course boards, flying, briefly . . .

Foils are the future, but there’s one heck of a learning curve.

Photo credits to Erik Simonson, Pressure-Drop.US.

The top three

Johnny Heineken [1] 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 10

Joey Pasquali 4 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 [29/OCS] 22

Stefaans Viljoen [M] 2 5 7 7 4 4 3 [29/DNF] 4 4 2 42

Matt Rutherford Sails for Japan: Trade Winds, Day 15.

Sun, 2014-05-11 13:24

While I’m in Bermuda for the ARC Europe rally, my friends Matt and Nicole are 15 days into the Pacific, tackling the longest-ever continuous plastics research project onboard the 29-foot Sakura, bound for Japan. Matt’s been keeping a blog and sending in fairly regular posts over at They’re very interesting and inspiring, so I’m reposting them here. They need all the help they can get (currently they’ve got only enough funds to get to Japan – help them get home!). Here’s Matt:

The trade winds can either be a blessing or a curse.  I sailed roughly 10,000 miles of the Pacific Ocean north to south while sailing around the Americas.  On my way to Cape Horn I had to sail directly into these same trade winds for 41 days straight.  Which is the longest I’ve ever been on one tack.  I don’t like beating into the wind and seas for 41 minutes, let alone 41 days.  I remember thinking how nice it would be to turn west, put the trades on my quarter and sail across the Pacific (the proper way).  A couple years later, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

The easterly trade winds do present a problem for our research.  It’s hard to slow down the boat enough to drag our Avani net when you have 6 foot seas pushing you along.  Forentino gave us one of their “shark” drogues before we left, which is supposed to be used in heavy weather.  We deploy it every day while collecting our samples.  Even with a drogue we don’t slow down enough; a few days ago I had to start tying an anchor to the back of the drogue, burying the drogue deeper in the water.  It’s rather silly to be down to a third reef and dragging a drogue in 15 knots of wind but that’s the only way we can slow Sakura down to 3.5kts.

We have accomplished Phase 1 of our marine plastics research.  Before we left Nicole spoke with several scientists to determine where scientists have and haven’t done marine plastics research in the Pacific.  During Phase 1 we were trying to find the southeastern edge of the North Pacific Gyre (Pacific Garbage Patch). We thought we found it few days ago; we had to sample in a southerly direction for a few more days to verify the finding, and now it’s verified.

Phase 2 is a comparative study.  We will sail south of the Hawaiian Islands sampling for micro plastics in the trades winds.  Most of the research has been done in the known Gyre region, very little has been done in the easterly trades. Buy collecting samples in the trades, when back on land, we can compare our findings with the known finding in the Pacific Gyre to determine how much of the micro plastics are staying in the Gyre and how much is getting displaced by the trade winds.

In some ways this expedition reminds me of my circumnavigation of the Americas.  We are on a small boat with a monitor windvane, sloop rig, single line reefing, freeze dried food and a manual water maker.  I used these same systems for 309 days while going around the Americas. In many ways I copied St. Brendan to keep things nice and familiar. On the other hand, I’m sailing with a strong, smart, beautiful woman. On a brand new boat, with no black mold, ice bergs, fog and general chaos.  Not to mention this is a research expedition.

Daily life is pretty simple, although it’s hard for me to say when the day begins as most nights I hardly sleep a wink. I’m too busy keeping a course and listening for problems.  Once we do “get up” we make a cup of coffee, which is breakfast, write a report in the ships log book and prepare to drag our net and collect samples.  It takes a half hour to set up the spinnaker pole and deploy the drogue.  While we are collecting our sample we pump the water maker. Nikki and I take shifts pumping the water maker for an hour and a half to make the 5 litters of water we need for the next 24 hours.  After collecting our samples we pull the drogue, stow away the spinnaker pole and make dinner.  I’m not really sure if dinner is the right word for it, as we only eat once a day. The rest of the day we manage the vessel, read, write and try to rest.  Then we do it all over again the next day, and the next day, and the next day. The simplicity of life at sea.

The film about my circumnavigation of the Americas will be done soon, you can see the trailer at .

-Matt Rutherford

A Sailor’s Marathon Guide, Day 6: Running for Mom

Sun, 2014-05-11 08:30

Andy and his mom Gail delivering a Corbin 39 to Newport in 2010 (?).

It’s Sunday on Bermuda. Mother’s Day in the USA. I ran Ft. George Hill today, many times, up to Bermuda Radio. There’s no better motivation than picturing your dying mother in a hospital bed in the living room of your childhood house, the only place you ever knew as home, gasping for air during the final moments of her life, and knowing that that moment could have come two years before it actually did, but that she never quit living despite the horrible death sentence that her brain cancer diagnosis should have been. Nope. Running hills is easy with that image in your head.

My mom is directly responsible for a lot of things in my life, most obviously life itself. I’m writing this from Bermuda because she constantly espoused “do what you love, and the money will follow.” But it’s that one day in the driveway when we were throwing the football and I asked her to help me get healthy and in shape that I’m reminded of most today. I wrote about it last week. And if I die at age 62 like she did with an alien growing inside my head, well, I will have lived well. As she did, thanks to her.

So, emotional morning for me. Everybody needs some kind of motivation, right? Anyway, back to the technical part of this little series, which it was meant to be. Today’s the 6th day I’ve run here in Bermuda (the only off day was yesterday, when I spent the day in the sun down on the fuel dock organizing the duty-free refueling here for the ARC Europe yachts). My breakdown of routines, with some notes, follows (recall that this is by no means a scientific plan – it’s my way of training for a marathon, nothing more):

Day 1: 63 minutes, double Bermuda loop. Tired & sluggish. Wrote about it last week.

Day 2: 29 minutes, east Bermuda loop. Unremarkable, easy jog. Not sure of the milage, but I’d get about 3 ½.

Day 3: 29 minutes, east Bermuda loop, this time with Mia. We went for a swim afterwards, which Mia wrote about the other day.

Day 4: 49 minutes, modified Bermuda rail-trail loop, with Mia. Slow pace, about 9 min/mile. I’d guess we covered about 9km between the asphalt roads, golf cart path at the old St. Georges club and along part of the rail-trail.

Day 5: 54 minutes, run by myself. Double loop again, like the one below, but without some of the little side excursions. Ran a bit faster today, probably 8:40 min/mile or so, for maybe 10km. Felt pretty good. Little niggle behind my right knee, which I attribute to a tight hamstring, which is a constant battle.

Day 6 (yesterday): Didn’t run, but did some pushups and ab work: 71 total pushups in 3 sets, 3 sets of sit-ups x 30, 3 sets of leg lifts x 60 and 3 sets of 45-second side-planks.

Day 7 (today): The aforementioned Mother’s Day Hill Run up Ft. George Hill to Bermuda Radio. The hill is about ¼-mile long in total, and rises to about 200 feet from sea level. The road’s probably at about 30′, so the climb itself is only maybe 150-175′. I jogged from the little apartment just down the street in town, then continued the length of the hill to the top. Afterwards, I walked only about ¼ of the way down – the steepest part is the last bit at the top – and did ten all-out repeats from here, each taking maybe 15-20 seconds. The hill is steep enough that by the top my legs are barely turning over as the lactic acid builds up in the muscles, and I’m gasping for air by the end (I make a point never to bend over and put my hands on my knees, no matter how knackered I feel. I simply walk back down and do it all over again). For the last one, I walked back down to the road and did one last full hill, then jogged back to the house and ate 4 eggs, ½ an avocado and some sour cream for breakfast.

Thoughts on Week 1 of training? I’m absolutely in the best shape of my life, physically anyway, though I probably don’t look it. I read a great article in Outside Magazine about CrossFit training for marathons, and realize that while I don’t follow the plan to the letter, I’ve been combining some of those CrossFit exercises into my routine for over ten years (I got my first kettle bell as a freshman in college in 2002, way ahead of the curve on that fad!). Over at Dane’s Garage Strength gym, I’ve been doing olympic lifts and rope climbs and box jumps now for a couple years. My backs in pretty good shape (knock on wood), my knees feel great and I’m faster than I’ve ever been.

I say I don’t look as fit, because I think I looked my best when I lived in Australia in 2005 for my semester abroad. Back then I was exclusively lifting weights and not running at all. I bought my first road bike there and got into cycling, so that kind of marked my transition from the weight room to the great outdoors and the endurance sports I’ve been into since. But I went too far that way around 2010 – all endurance and no weight training actually can make you fat, and as I used to weigh 255, I’m particularly prone to easily putting nasty-looking weight back on if I’m not paying attention. As you can guess, going from 255 to 168, where I’m at now, I have an excess of skin around my waist (thankfully though I think I’m the only one who notices – it could have been much worse). Mia loves to grab this when we’re riding the mopeds around Bermuda! But, alas, that’s the price I paid for growing up a fat kid.

So the point I began with is that the combination now of weight lifting and running and cycling has put me in the best physical shape of my life, though I don’t exactly look it because I’m not exclusively in the weight room (and I eat a lot, just all good stuff). In Telluride in February, I hiked the 13,000+ foot peak – over a mile from start to finish, and a 1500-foot elevation gain over that span – in ski boots, shouldering my skis, with no problems at all, and proceeded to bomb down the mountain from the top. That’s why I exercise.

So thanks to mom for the memories, and for the motivation this morning. It may have sounded morbid, but I’m finally, after two years since her death, remembering (mostly), the good memories, and her sickness is slowly receding to the back of my brain. The sun’s out, the birds are chirping and the world around beautiful St. Georges is full of life, if you just open your eyes and take it in – that lesson is her greatest legacy, the one I cherish the most.

THOMAS TANGVALD: Declared Lost At Sea

Fri, 2014-05-09 18:35

I really really hope this turns out not to be true. You’ll recall I published a rather long post last spring about Thomas Tangvald, son of the famous traditional-boat cruiser Peter Tangvald. Thomas, who lost his dad and half-sister Carmen on reef off Bonaire when he was just 15, had started publishing a series of articles in All At Sea about a voyage with his own son and pregnant wife from the Caribbean to Brazil aboard a traditional Puerto Rican nativo sloop, Oasis, that he had refit and reconfigured for ocean sailing.

Unfortunately, I recently received word from Jacques Mertens, Thomas’s step-grandfather (it’s a complicated family, read the earlier post to figure it out) that Thomas was reported missing at sea two months ago and now has been officially reported lost at sea by the Brazilian coast guard. Thomas had been sailing singlehanded from French Guyana to Brazil aboard Oasis, having set out in late January. He had been working in Cayenne, French Guyana, designing fishing boats for a local company there.

According to Jacques, the French Garde Cotes have not given up and are still searching for Thomas. “Normally I would consider him lost, but Thomas is a very special person,” Jacques wrote me in an e-mail. “I still have some hope that Thomas is on anchor somewhere drinking cocktails and will reappear to surprise everybody.”

I sure hope so, too, but at this point in the game it seems increasingly unlikely.

I was just thinking of him, too, as I only recently discovered he had started publishing a blog of his own, called Tangvald: Sailing Adventures and Boat Design. It’s a very interesting mix of personal history, background on Oasis and nativo sloops, traditional sailing craft generally, and some quite technical discussions of boat design.

He also posted this video of him and his family sailing aboard Oasis before he refit her. He in fact was (is?) a highly intelligent and very independent young man. Truly one of a kind.

Scott Takes Finn Europeans

Fri, 2014-05-09 15:20

News from Robert Deaves and the Finn Class, May 9, 2014

Though he didn’t have the best of days, Giles Scott (GBR) did enough to wrap up his second European Finn title, and with a day to spare. Friday’s lighter and patchy conditions were probably the most challenging of the week, with race wins going to Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) and Andrew Mills (GBR). Defending champion Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) is in second and guaranteed a medal, while Ed Wright (GBR) is back up to third.

It was a mixed day on the water with a lot of place changes inside the top 10. Only Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) can move into the top three, but even that is a long shot, as he is now 15 points adrift. Jonathan Lobert (FRA) has lost any chance of a podium place after an unlucky day while another high score from Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) also puts him too far down. Meanwhile Thomas Le Breton (FRA) and Andrew Murdoch (NZL) had a great day to put them into the top 10, and into the medal race.

But before the racing began, the day started on a sad note of remembrance. Sailors and organisers gathered on the deck of the Société des Régates Rochelaises (SRR) for a minute silence in memory of Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson, who was lost a year ago today. It was an emotional start to the day, matched by the inclement weather, The starting gun marked the beginning and end of a minute of silence, with the Finn class flag remaining at half mast in memory of a lost friend.

After three long days on the water, racing was scheduled for the slightly later time of 12.00 with just two races needed to complete the opening series. The forecast was similar to past days, with 10-14 knots expected. However in race 9 the wind barely exceeded 8-10 knots. All eyes were on Giles Scott (GBR) and while he was on the front row on the middle right, the left side came in so strong that he rounded in the 30s. First round was Jakub Marciniak (POL) from Le Breton and Kljakovic Gaspic.

Marciniak held his lead through the gate but on the second beat, with the left again favoured, Kljakovic Gaspic moved ahead and built a sizeable lead to win the race. Marciniak rounded the top in second with Ioannis Mitakis (GRE) in third, but it all changed again downwind, with Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) slipping through to second. Scott recovered to 15th but it wasn’t enough to secure victory yet.

After a number of recalls, race 10 got under way with Scott starting conservatively and getting buried. He had to bail out and duck several transoms before finding clear air. The left again paid with Mills rounding with a nice lead from Fernando Ros Martinez (ESP), Postma and Jake Lilley (AUS). Scott rounded in 10th and looked pretty safe, with Zbogar not too far away. The wind peaked at 12-13 knots on the first downwind, but soon started to drop as the fleet rounded the gate.

Mills immediately sailed into a useful lead downwind and left the others to fight for second. Postma was up to second by the gate from Alejandro Foglia (URU), while Murdoch sailed the second upwind well to move up to fourth. Scott was tight on Zbogar to make sure of the title and they both lost ground out to the right.

On the final run the wind went really light and Mills was starting to look nervous as it was still free pumping. Nothing much changed though except Jorge Zarif (BRA) came through into third. Mills won by nearly 90 seconds from Postma, Zarif and Murdoch. A fourth for Murdoch got him the final space in the medal race on countback.

Lobert said he was happy to have the Finn fleet on his local waters but was disappointed with the way things tuned out for him. “I was very happy to have all the guys around here this week. Usually I never race here, I just train, so it’s very different when we are racing.”

“The wind was very uneven today, and it was not a lucky day for me. It was so crazy how I lost it on the first race. I was on the left, looking good and crossing in front of the fleet, and then I got no wind and in about 30 seconds to a minute I lost everything. So then I was far back, and there was no chance to come back.”

“Then I tried to refocus for the second race but I had a difficult start so that was not an easy race again. So a pretty tough day. I lost the chance for the podium. I will try for fourth but I’m disappointed not to be able to fight for the podium in my home town and with losing it in such a way, I feel bad, because I was doing everything well.”

Mills explained his race. “I started about a quarter of the way up from the pin, sailed fast on the shifts and tried quite hard. I had it all set up properly so it felt good. On the second beat, PJ tacked to go through the pack, and I didn’t think that was the best idea and it wasn’t a great number so I split from him and then when we came back he’d lost loads. It dropped out pretty light on the last run, down to about 5 knots and it’s always bound to come from behind when it fills back in, and with unlimited pumping you can make up some ground pretty quickly. I was a bit nervous but there wasn’t a lot you could do about it. But it feels good to get a bullet for Bart today.”

Kljakovic Gaspic said, “It was quite an interesting day. It was tricky with the tide over on the right, but I was convinced that the left was going to pay, so I almost went to the layline. Finally I had a nice start and everything went well.”

“Since the first day I have been really conservative in all the starts and this was killing me and every first beat I was struggling to stay in contact with the fleet. Finally I was a bit more relaxed.”

“The second race was basically the same, I tacked early across the group. In one moment it really looked nice then there was a small shift and I tacked a little early but then I had to come back on the downwind. The last downwind was pretty strange and difficult for everyone after long days on the water all week. Free pumping in five knots is very difficult. It looks a bit ridiculous but is still part of the game.”

“Tomorrow will be difficult to get on the podium so it’s going to be tough. I am a little bit too late this week. I was not at my best, perhaps a bit too tired after a lot of time away from home racing.”

Ed Wright (GBR) has sailed well all week, especially on the upwinds. “It’s all pretty close for the medals, so should be fun out there tomorrow. Giles has had a great week and just scooted away. I think upwind I was probably good to the top mark all week, but I have not really focussed on my downwind this winter in training. So now I need to go away and put some hours together working on that and put the package together ready for Santander.”

Scott just has to sail the medal race to take the title. Was it a nervous day for him? “The day was made more nervous by not having a great race in the first one. A 15th put me through to the medal race in a good position, but in the last race I just stuck with Vasilij. Then I had a shocker of a start, I was back from the line, with bad acceleration, and people just went round me. I managed to get a righty across to the guys on the left and Vasilij was in that group and then from there I had control over him. It was tight down the first run but on the second beat I put a close cover on him and managed to extend away.”

“It’s quite nice to be able to go into a medal race like that. I will of course try and win it, and give it my all. I’m pretty relaxed, and very happy.”

In the Junior Championship, Lilley still leads Zarif, but by a reduced points margin of just 25. With both sailors already having a BFD from Race 1, tomorrow’s race will count and decide who takes the title. Defending champion Peter McCoy (GBR) is now back up to third overall, though has three more juniors within 17 points, so for the Juniors there is still very much all to play for.

The medal race is scheduled for 14.00 on Saturday, but before that the final race for the rest of the fleet is scheduled for 11.00.

Results after 10 races
1 GBR41 Giles SCOTT 24
2 SLO 573 Vasilij ZBOGAR 58
3 GBR 11 Edward WRIGHT 66
5 FRA 112 Jonathan LOBERT 85
6 GBR 85 Andrew MILLS 90
7 NED 842 Pieter-Jan POSTMA 107
8 HUN 40 Zsombor BERECZ 108
9 FRA 29 Thomas LE BRETON 111
10 NZL 16 Andrew MURDOCH 128

Full results: Finn European Championship

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