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FATHER-DAUGHTER CRUISE: On Father’s Day, No Less

Fri, 2014-06-20 01:15

This is the second time Lucy and I have done this, but the first time we’ve done it on Father’s Day. We both thought it a good a idea, though Lucy, inevitably, wanted to know why there isn’t a Daughter’s Day, so we could go out then, too. Of course, we all know the answer to that. Last time, you may recall, Lucy was very focussed on climbing rocks and trees. This time it was the mast. We arrived at the Goslings quite late Sunday afternoon, having slashed through a sporty 20-knot breeze on a close reach to get there, and she had me haul her up the mast in the bosun’s chair five times after we got settled in. And yes, she did almost make it to the masthead a couple of times.

A New Volvo Entry from Spain

Thu, 2014-06-19 10:49


19 June 2014 News from the Volvo Ocean Race team

Spain is back for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 with a boat spearheaded by two of the country’s leading sailors, Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández who will be aiming to help claim their nation’s first victory.

It’s the eighth time out of the 12 editions of the race that Spain has been represented in the 41-year-old event.

The campaign, which is being mounted by Galician sailor/businessman Pedro Campos, is the sixth crew announced so far for the Race which begins in Alicante on October 4 with the in-port race there followed by the departure on leg one to Cape Town a week later.

The Campos team, which will be announcing their title sponsor and skipper shortly, has already taken possession of their one-design Volvo Ocean 65 boat in Southampton, England and is currently preparing the boat to be launched.

“We’re happy to see Spain’s presence again in sailing’s leading offshore race, the Volvo Ocean Race. For our team it is an honour to have a fifth boat participating in succession, a record in the history of the race,” said Campos.

“We know that it will be a very difficult edition, with all the boats identical but as always we’ll try to raise the Spanish flag at its highest as much as possible.”

Campos said that Martínez and Fernández would be “pillars” of the Spanish sailing crew in 2014-15.

There’s unfinished business in the Volvo Ocean Race for the pair. The Olympic gold medalists from Athens dominated the early stages of the last edition in 2011-12 on board Telefónica but a broken rudder in the penultimate stage ruined their hopes of overall victory that was taken by French team Groupama.

No Spanish team has won offshore sailing’s toughest and most prestigious race – formerly the Whitbread Round the World Race.

Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race which is based in Alicante, Spain, said he was delighted to welcome the Campos team alongside probably the most evenly-matched fleet in the event’s history.

“The Spanish team has some of the most versatile and experienced sailors in the world involved and I am sure they are in the race to do well. It’s great to see this team back for the fourth edition in a row,” he said.

The Spanish team will line up in Alicante alongside the all-women’s crew of Team SCA, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Dongfeng Race Team, Team Brunel and Team Alvimedica who have already been announced.

Previous Campos teams to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race are movistar (2005-06), Telefónica (two boats in 2008-09) and Team Telefónica (2011-12), the latter skippered by Martínez.

The team’s sponsors are expected to be announced in the next months and the campaign will also be supported by Spain’s National Sports Council and the Royal Spanish Sailing Federation.

Podcast with Chris Museler, NY Times Journalist & Hugo Boss Media Crew

Wed, 2014-06-18 16:08

Andy and Chris met at the 2011 Caribbean 1500 when Chris was covering the rally. They caught up this morning on Skype and had a PHENOMENAL chat about Chris’ experience onboard Hugo Boss in the recent New York – Barcelona IMOCA 60 race. It’s the first time in history an outside journalist has been allowed onboard a shorthanded (double- or single-handed) to report objectively on what the crews go through in such a lengthy endurance test. Hugo Boss’ normal skipper Alex Thomson is of course famous for his mast walk and keel walk escapades in his Hugo Boss clothing. Thomson couldn’t make the race, so American Ryan Breymaier stood in…the won the race! Chris discusses life onboard, if it’s possible to accurately document a double-handed race with a third person onboard (and Chris offers an awesome Heisenberg uncertainly analogy), what it feels like to sail a cutting edge rocketship like an IMOCA 60, and more! Towards the end Andy and Chris delve into fears offshore and some more philosophical ideas about sailing. Check the 59 North Facebook page for links to some of the stuff we talk about in the podcast. If you like it, please review it!

We’ve got a new intro song from the Blaggards, and a new, simplified podcast logo! Like it? Hate it? Let me know! Any comments or questions, interview ideas, etc, please email andy [at] 59-north [dot] com. Thanks for listening!

Hand’s on Scanstrut Rokk adjustable mount & 2nd generation Lifedge iPad case

Wed, 2014-06-18 10:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 18, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

“Rokk” is a apt name for Scanstrut’s adjustable mount system. Due to the large surface area and fine machining of those metal-on-metal ball and socket joints, it’s easy to precisely position an attached MFD or iPad and then just a modest twist on the white handle will render the whole rig rock solid. I tested the Rokk Adjustable Rail Mount — note how well it handles curved 1-inch rail or helm pedestal pipe — with the Lifedge iPad case holder shown, but there’s also a Rokk Adjustable Deck Mount and either can accommodate top plates custom designed for various popular displays in the 5- to 7-inch screen range. Is Rokk better than RAM?

I personally like RAM Mounts largely because they have a bracket or plate for almost anything I might test. But the RAM designs are utilitarian to be sure and the materials don’t always hold up well to the boating life. I’ve seen RAM anodized aluminum go pocky and a RAM rail mount u-bolt rust. By contrast, the Rokk hardware seems as elegant as a lot of modern sailboat fittings and just as able to withstand the elements. And while the rubber vibration dampening built into RAM mounts may have value in cars and bikes, Rokk solid seems better on a boat. Not surprisingly, the Rokk gear is more expensive as in this adjustable mount for a Garmin 7xx at $89 street price. One thing to note, though, is that unlike RAM mounts, the Rokk can not be easily removed (leaving just a RAM ball plate or a relatively yachty Tallon receptacle). On the other hand, it’s harder to steal Rokk mounted gear; all those parts above have to go together in a certain order and a thief will need a particular screwdriver just to get started.

I tend to like adjustable mounts because it often seems valuable to reposition screens for particular light or boating conditions, but fixed mounts are simpler and generally less expensive. There is a plain Rokk Rail Mount, for instance, that’s just the cubish pipe clamp and a top plate. Edson also offers a variety of handsome and solid-looking fixed rail mounts, not to mention a wide selection of pipe-mounted display housings.

Scanstrut also sent me their second generation Lifedge iPad case to try, possibly because the first generation design did not do well in my 2013 marine iPad case review. The new three-piece design — which fits iPads 2/3/4, but not the 1 or Air — is definitely much easier to put on an iPad. An owner will now use those black accessories as kickstands, rather than shoehorns needed to wrestle on the silicone bumper. I can get this case on or off in little more than a minute, and my fingers don’t hurt afterward. The new design also has a charging port but seems to retain the waterproof ruggedness of the orginal as well as the racing friendly hand strap on the back.

With my daughter’s iPad 2 inside I did not actually test the Lifedge in sink and shower like I did the Lifeproof frē that’s housed my iPad mini since I reviewed it. I like the Lifeproof’s slim design a lot but have learned that while it may be shock, dirt, snow, and water proof, it is not fool proof. Do not try to open the Lifeproof case with the charging port door closed or you might break the thin top piece! The same caution probably applies to the Lifedge though it does seem a little beefier, and bulkier. Designing the perfect waterproof iPad case is not easy.

In that regard, my daughter and I both noticed a slight issue with the sample Lifedge case that might be transitory or a production anomoly. Note in the photo how the chunky gray case area over the Home button is twisted slightly outward. That pulls the stiff screen protector outward and thus touch commands, particularly on the right side, have to be aggressive. Another example of design difficulty is the prototype Gumdrop Marine iPad Case seen on my photo stand below. It may be the most ambitious iPad-at-helm case yet — it even comes with mounting bail and sun cover — and I found the prototype fairly easy to use with an iPad Air. But Gumdrop CEO Tim Hickman, arguably an iPad case cowboy, is not entirely pleased with the design details, plus the poor man recently purchased a large boat. As soon as I know more about the Gumdrop, I’ll put it in the comments section below.

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

Through the Panama Canal

Tue, 2014-06-17 17:46

I’m not going to lie to you: crossing the Panama Canal is exciting.  Massive cargo ships, other sailboats, the prospect of getting dashed against the walls and sinking in the lock – the Canal has it all.  Lucky for me, my computer-savvy family was able to capture part of the journey via the webcams set up at each lock – be sure to watch the flipbook at the end of the post!

Originally appeared in Canal Win! on May 5, 2012
Waiting for your canal date is a lot like waiting for Christmas when you are six years old.  Time moves unendurably slowly, and at some point you are convinced the big day is never going to arrive.  And then it does.  And then you are so excited and jumpy and full of sugar that you can hardly focus long enough to enjoy the experience.  But, since I’m a grown-up and all mature and stuff, I was able to calmly record my observations.  When I wasn’t busy being excited and jumpy and full of sugar.

The day before, I cooked from lunch until midnight.  That is because we would have an extra five people aboard – an advisor, two linehandlers (friends of ours), and their two kids, ages 11 and 13.  I also knew there would be no time to cook anything complicated during the two-day transit, as I would be busy helping ensure our boat didn’t crash into the walls of the locks.  Because crashing is bad seamanship, my friends.  Also, a quick path to divorce.

Anyway.  I made pancakes, chicken-lemon-feta pasta, Caesar salad, garlic bread, two chocolate cakes, and four pizzas ahead.  We did scrambled eggs in the morning, because they are quick, and I made a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread in the breadmaker, ready just as everyone awoke.  Mmm.  I’m not a great chef, but when I stick to my classics, everyone seems satisfied.

But what about the canal itself?  What happens is, during that interminable waiting time, your boat gets measured and you give many, many dollars to the canal authorities.  They decide how best to fit you in with other boats.  Then, on the day, you go to a staging area called The Flats at the time they tell you, and you wait.  Your advisor shows up.  And, surprise!  He has an apprentice with him.  You are glad you made so much food.  Then, the fun begins.

There was a freighter named Baltic Star in the lock with us.

Passing by to reach the first lock. Please, let there be room for both of us.

We were rafted together with two other boats, a catamaran and another monohull.  The cat was in charge of driving, and we on either side were in charge of staying appropriately tied to the lock walls.

How it works is this.  Once you enter the first lock, a canal linehandler throws you a monkey’s fist.  (No, not literally.  Gross.  It means a line with a big knot tied on the end.)  You tie this through the large bowline on the end of the line you have prepared on board, and he hauls your line up.  When you get to your designated spot, he throws your bowline over a bollard, and voila.  You are lied to the lock wall.  You tighten your line, cleat it off, the doors close and things get started.

Goodbye, Colon. Too late to change your mind now.

As the water rushes into the lock, you need to keep taking up the slack on your line.  Only not too much, or your boat will get pulled into the wall.  Your counterpart, the linehandler on the wall, will give you helpful signals to guide you.  Unfortunately, all signals look like “talk to the hand” to my eyes.  Take up slack, don’t take up any more, cleat that off, keep going – everything earned a raised hand.  The advisor beside me translated these gestures for me, and seemed genuinely puzzled that I didn’t naturally understand what the man wanted.

They understood as much as I did.

On it went through three locks.  When we reached Gatun lake, we cut loose from the other two boats, and found a mooring for the night.

Early the next day, we were up for round two.  We had a long motor through Gatun lake to reach the Miraflores locks on the Pacific side.  It was very pretty country; it looked very much like Cootes Paradise (the tip of Lake Ontario), but with more palm trees.

This all seems so familiar…

The Miraflores locks were the same, but in reverse.  Gently letting the line out to keep a little, but not too much, tension, and again, to keep from banging into the walls.  We were rafted to just the catamaran on this leg.  My dad took these screen captures:

 

And my Uncle Tom sent me this awesome flipbook:

And people claim technology never did anything good.

Before we knew it, we were there.  The Pacific!

Holy bananas, it’s a whole new ocean.

We granted ourselves a day of rest, and now we are back in job mode.  After a last flurry of buying food and boat parts and whatever else we won’t see again until New Zealand, we’ll head for the Perlas.

But first, we get to do the canal again, this time as linehandlers for our friends.

Reaction: June 2014
I had forgotten just how fun it was to cross the Panama Canal.  I’m getting excited just remembering the whole thing.  Aside from being great in itself – going up and down those locks really is pretty cool – crossing the Canal carries psychological weight. It marked a new chapter in our trip: we left the Caribbean behind, and it was time to dare mighty things by tackling the Pacific.  So much awaited us: breaking the mizzen mid-ocean, snorkelling French Polynesia, finally finding a decent control for my seasickness, and meeting so many new friends.  It makes me want to do it all over again.  Anyone need a linehandler?

Bart’s Bash Already a Hit

Mon, 2014-06-16 18:02

The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation is delighted to announce the launch of the new Bart’s Bash website and the opening of the individual sailor sign-up process

Organised by the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation, Bart’s Bash is a global sailing race and fundraising event which will take place on Sunday 21 September 2014. Bart’s Bash will inspire and unite thousands of worldwide sailors in a race at their local sailing club to set a new Guinness World Record and to raise money for charity.

The first three competitors to sign up were four time Olympic Champion, America’s Cup winner and team principal of Ben Ainslie Racing, Sir Ben Ainslie; double Olympic champion and Artemis Racing team manager, Iain Percy; and two time America’s Cup winner and skipper of Oracle Team USA, Jimmy Spithill.

Watch the video here.

Sir Ben Ainslie, a Trustee of the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation, will race at the Queen Mary Sailing Club in London, and will then join the events at the Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre.

“We are grateful to all of those who have shown support for this global event so far. We invite all sailors to sign up for a unique opportunity to race the best sailors in the world. It will be a fantastic day,” said Sir Ben Ainslie.

Foundation Trustee Iain Percy has also signed up to race at the Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre on the Olympic waters in Weymouth and Portland.

“Bart’s Bash has received worldwide support and attention from the best sailors across the globe. For the first time sailors of all levels will race against each other in a global event which we hope will inspire new young sailors and encourage participation in the sport. I look forward to going out on the water to race against thousands of sailors,” said Iain Percy.

America’s Cup winner Jimmy Spithill will join the E. Scow regatta at the Pewaukee Yacht Club, in Wisconsin.

Nearly 600 sailing clubs have already registered for the event and from today individual sailors are invited to sign up by following the simple steps below:

Visit the new Bart’s Bash website bartsbash.co.uk

Click on the yellow ‘Sign me up’ button

Log-in via facebook or create an account by entering your email address

Search clubs to find and select your local Bart’s Bash registered club

Fill in your contact details

Select whether you are a skipper or crew and fill in the details of your boat

Tick the box to setup a Just Giving fundraising page or click finish to complete your registration

Share your Bart’s Bash profile page and start fundraising!

Every sailing club that registers will have its own microsite created where the fundraising totals, number of participants and much more will be displayed. A number of participating clubs including the newly opened Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre in Weymouth, and Queen Mary in London, will have resources available for less experienced sailors to take part in the race. If participants don’t have a boat then they can still take part by clicking on this link for more information.

As part of the sign up process sailors are invited to set up a Just Giving fundraising page to raise funds for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation charity. There is no entry fee to take part, although sailors are also welcome to make a donation to the Foundation as part of the entry process. The new website features a rewards and incentive scheme to help motivate individual fundraising. As different fundraising targets are reached, rewards are unlocked including personal videos from Olympic stars and commemorative medals. Top fundraisers will also find themselves receiving personal invites to a gala dinner hosted by some of the biggest names in world sailing. More prizes will be announced throughout the signing up process.

The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation was founded in honour of Olympic champion Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson and works to transform the lives of young people by providing opportunities to grow, achieve and inspire excellence. Bart’s Bash is our largest fundraising event so far to support our wide range of UK and international activity. For more details on the Foundation’s charitable aims and work, please visit andrewsimpsonsailing.org.

The One-Off “San Francisco America’s Cup”

Sun, 2014-06-15 13:15

Posted June 15, 2014 – Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget/ACEA, slightly edited at BPT

Many moons ago, Tom Blackaller declared, “If we ever get the America’s Cup to San Francisco Bay, we’ll show the world how good sailing can be.”

Tom could not have imagined how right he was.

Looking forward, Mayor Ed Lee enthused, “This will be remembered as the San Francisco America’s Cup.”

For reasons he did not exactly foresee.

And neither imagined a followup to the triumph of AC34 in which negotiations for AC35 would be summed by the San Francisco Chronicle with a quote from an unnamed San Francisco city official, “They didn’t want the hassle, and neither did we.”

I hope the dog has beautiful puppiesKimball

ARC DelMarVa Finishes on a High Note

Sun, 2014-06-15 10:41

The weather finally turned. At just after midnight on Saturday morning, the cold front that had been stalled just west of the Chesapeake Bay for days, bringing wet, foggy, misty weather to the fleet, finally pushed offshore with a flurry of rain showers and thunderstorms, clearing the air for a gorgeous early morning. The full moon – the rally was planned around it after all – finally showed it’s face as the fleet re-entered the Chesapeake Bay, and the day dawned clear and cool, a fresh northwesterly breeze propelling everyone south on the rally’s final leg.

“We set a speed record today of 9.3 knots,” said one of the crew from Zephyr. Many others mentioned the same, as it was fast reaching conditions on flat water Saturday morning.

By late afternoon all but one of the 18 yachts who’d completed the DelMarVa loop had arrived in Annapolis. Sea Quinn, who’d elected to spend an extra day in Cape May, were on their way up the Delaware Bay when the final prizegiving dinner began at the Eastport Democratic Club.

Crews began arriving at just before 6pm. The buffet table was set, and the bar was open. A slideshow of photos from the past week played on the big screen inside, and the din of excited chatter among the sailors grew louder and louder as the place filled up.

“Thanks to you all for coming this evening, and congratulations on completing such a big challenge!” said event manager Andy Schell as the crews sat down to eat. “It certainly was made more difficult by the adverse weather this week. You should all be very proud of yourselves. Let’s raise a glass to a great accomplishment” With that, the crews toasted their achievement and continued the revelry.

A while later the prizes were announced. Though the DelMarVa was a non-competitive event, several awards were up for grabs. Some of them – like the Weems & Plath ‘Navigator’s Award’ – were actively competed for, with crews turning in their logbooks to be judged on accuracy and traditional seamanship. Others – like the ‘I’ll Never Do That Again’ Award – were more humor-based, and simply invented during the week as stories were shared among the fleet.

To kick things off, the crew from Dana Marie were the ‘Best Fishing Attempt’ award for their prowess on the offshore leg. They did manage to catch a small bluefish for their efforts, and were awarded a flag.

Following that, crews were invited to the front of the room to compete for the ‘Best Bruise’ award, something that was created in the 2012 Caribbean 1500, a particularly rough passage that year. Crews from three boats

The ‘Communications Award’ went to Molly Kate. The award was given sort of tongue-in-cheek; Molly Kate was assigned to be a net controller on Leg 1, but realized their radio wasn’t functioning properly. As it turned out, their VHF masthead antenna had been unplugged and turned upside down by the boatyard when their mast was last pulled, and never replaced! The audience had a good laugh at that one.

The ‘I’ll Never Do That Again! Award’ came about after stories were circulated about people doing dumb things on or to their boats during the course of the week. Molly Kate was again recognized for their antenna prowess (as well as a crewmember who’d slept in a hammock on the dock, only to lose his cell phone in the drink when he woke up and rolled over). Tom from Jubilee managed to chuck his handheld VHF into the water in Portsmouth looking for a dockline; Dennis on Sojourner managed to motor at 2400 RPM for over an hour before realizing that the boat wasn’t in gear; and Dana Marie were so excited sailing down the Bay on Leg 1 that they let their batteries run dead and couldn’t start the engine! But Adagio took the award in the end for their destroying all of their forward halyards when the genoa furler got stuck. The award was all in good fun, and it was a learning experience for everyone being out there, kind of the point of the rally in the first place.

The ‘Sailor’s Award’ went to Ken and his crew on Kayode for their remarkable start – they seized the starting line over the much nimbler J/105 Diffugere Nives and were recognized for the feat at last night’s party.

The ‘Hero Award’ was given to the crew of Wine Dog who came to Dana Marie’s assistance when their batteries ran dead. In an epic adventure, Wine Dog rendezvoused with Dana Marie at sea and transferred over a portable Honda generator via a coupld oe halyards, and managed to help get Dana Marie’s engine started.

Finally, to wrap things up, the Weems & Plath ‘Navigator’s Award’ – a fancy bronze navigator’s set in a wooden box, engraved with the ARC DelMarVa logo – was awarded to Adagio for their excellently kept navigator’s log.

The evening ended by thanking all the sponsors involved in the event – including J/World Annapolis, SpinSheet Magazine, SAIL Magazine, Chesapeake Sailmakers, Port Annapolis Marina and Southbound Cruising Services, Pantaenius, and the Eastport Democratic Club – and crews filed out of the venue shortly before 9pm, heading into a gorgeous Annapolis evening. Until next year.

Fire at Eastern Yacht Club

Fri, 2014-06-13 18:48

The latest missive from Eastern Yacht Club, Marblehead—

Update on EYC Fire
Posted On: June 13, 2014

Dear Eastern Members,

The initial evaluation seems to appear that the fire damage is not as severe as first thought. Fortunately, there was no personal injury. Paintings, models and artifacts are intact and are being evaluated.

We have convened a team to begin the process of cleaning, restoring and re-establishing our resources.

The waterfront and pool facilities will remain open. The Clubhouse is closed until further notice.

According to reports, the first broke out after midnight, probably in the attic, and was contained about two and one half hours later. The following is taken from the Eastern Yacht Club web site

In 1870, twelve Boston gentlemen organized themselves as the Eastern Yacht Club, a club dedicated to the promotion of yachting. Within one month, they had enrolled 110 members with 23 yachts. The Clubhouse on Marblehead Neck was completed in 1881.

From the beginning, the Club became a leader in yacht racing with Puritan, Mayflower, and Volunteer, all flying Eastern colors, successfully defeating their British challengers in the America’s Cup in 1885, 1886, and 1887, respectively. The Eastern has hosted a multitude of local, national, and international sailing events from the Sonder class regattas that preceded WWI to the competitive one-design and PHRF races of today, including the Etchells Worlds, Star Worlds, IOD Worlds, Olympic Class Regattas, Viper 640 North Americans, Sonar North Americans, Shields Nationals, and the Soling North Americans, a preliminary race for the ’96 Olympics. In 1994 the club received the coveted St. Petersburg Trophy, awarded for the Race Committee’s outstanding management of the Star North Americans. In 2011 the Club was named Yacht Club of the Year by Mass Bay sailing for race management on national and local events including the J105 North American Championship, the Etchells North Americans, and the IOD Worlds.

A visit to the Eastern is a walk through yachting history, from the glorious days of the huge racing yachts to the present-day streamlined one-designs. Nearly 130 years of yachting history resides here. Throughout the Clubhouse, you can find trophies and medals marking the Club’s illustrious history.

LEE QUINN: He Sailed to Tahiti With an All-Girl Crew

Fri, 2014-06-13 17:19

Sailors of a certain age will remember seeing this B-movie title in TV listings for certain low-budget UHF stations back in the day: I Sailed To Tahiti With an All-Girl Crew. I certainly remember it, and I’ve used the title as a throw-away line most of my life, but I don’t think I ever actually sat through the whole movie. Quite recently I learned there was a real person and a real story that inspired the making of that film, and (as is so often the case) the real story is actually much more interesting than the one Hollywood told. This concerns a professional steeplejack, Lee Quinn (see photo up top), who had a strong adventurous streak and sort of inevitably fell into the sport of ocean sailing starting in the 1950s.

Google around a bit and you’ll see there’s not much available online about Quinn–just a few old news clippings and some stray archive pix. The only full-length coherent narrative of his life is found in the pages of a self-published autobiography, Above and Beyond: The Simple Life, written by his ex-wife, Mary Ann Quinn. She, too, was a steeplejack, probably the first woman ever to take it up professionally, and shared many of Lee’s adventures.

If you google the movie title, you’ll get many more hits, but not much substantive information.

The film was released in 1968 and evidently was popular in drive-in theaters, presumably because what people did mostly in drive-ins was make out. The story line was pretty thin–two yachtsmen get into argument about who’s a better sailor, and one of them bets the other $20,000 (which was quite a lot of money in those days) that he can beat him in a race to Tahiti, even with the handicap of taking on an all-girl crew. There are a few plot twists, of course, one of which involves one of the female crew being wanted for murder, as referenced in this YouTube clip.

If you want to actually watch the whole film, you can buy what I’m guessing is a bootleg DVD cheap on eBay, though I think your money would be much better invested in a copy of Mary Ann’s book.

Lee and Mary Ann working a job in Honolulu in 1958

Lee and Mary Ann got married in 1946, soon fell into the steeplejack business as a team, and in their spare time had wild adventures together. They bicycled and motorcycled around Europe together, hitchhiked across North Africa, hopped a freighter across the Med (on which Mary Ann almost got raped), took up flying, and crashed a plane into the palace of dictator Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. Seriously, the list goes on and on. These two were big-time adrenalin junkies.

In 1952, Lee got it into his head that they should take up sailing. He talked Mary Ann into buying a 30-foot sloop, Flamingo, that almost immediately was destroyed by a tsunami raised by a 7.7 magnitude earthquake. Lee was still determined to go sailing, however, so he at once built himself a 16-foot catamaran out of plywood and set out to sail it solo down the coast of Baja California.

Lee test-sails his homemade cat at Long Beach

He got caught in some very fierce weather, almost lost the cat, but was saved by a fishing boat that simply hoisted him and the boat right on to their deck.

Lee got distracted by flying for a while, but soon enough came back to sailing and in 1961 bought a 45-foot ketch in Sausalito that he appropriately named Neophyte, as testament to his status as a sailor. On an early shakedown sail with Mary Ann, they nearly lost the boat when they were almost run down by a freighter near Point Conception.

Neophyte under sail

Mary Ann at the helm

Lee was not daunted by this and immediately started making plans to sail Neophyte around the world. Mary Ann wasn’t interested in that little adventure, as she was starting to get into competitive surfing, so Lee determined he’d simply go alone. Mary Ann objected to this, insisting he had to have a crew, and Lee essentially retaliated by recruiting an all-girl crew. After signing on one young German woman he met at random, Giselle, who according to Lee had “the physical attributes of a voluptuous Italian movie queen,” he advertised in the paper for more women crew and was besieged with applicants.

And this was beginning of his great schtick. From 1962 to 1970 Lee Quinn roamed the world in two different boats named Neophyte and always sailed with all-girl crews. In all a total of 105 women from 18 different countries joined him and together they attracted major publicity wherever they went. There was a constant string of newspaper articles, Lee gave many profitable lectures, and eventually the “all-girl” sailing schtick made it into the movies.

Lee Quinn’s crew receives a package of ice cream from a U.S. Navy warship while underway in 1963

As for Quinn & Co., yes, they did make it to Tahiti, among many other places, including Antarctica. Mary Ann was a very good sport about it all (to hear her tell it, anyway) and joined the boat and crew at certain points. Eventually, though, she and Lee divorced amicably, in 1964, and Lee married one of his crewmembers, Bea Berkson. Just two years later, however, they divorced and Lee started courting Mary Ann again. She appreciated this, for they did have a special bond, but she cherished her independence and was too busy with her own life–running the steeplejack business, traveling on her own, plus competing as both a surfer and skier–to reunite with her wayward ex-husband.

Unfortunately, Lee’s life ended in tragedy, as his predilection for nautical mishaps was never sated. The first Neophyte eventually succeeded in getting run down by a freighter, just off Sydney Heads in Australia in 1965. Lee at this point toyed with the notion of abandoning his voyage, but Mary Ann, ironically, urged him to continue, and he soon purchased another boat, a 48-foot cutter, which he christened Neophyte Too.

Neophyte Too under sail

Soon enough Lee was having more misadventures. He put his new boat up on the Great Barrier Reef for a while, then she was dismasted a year later, off Baja California, not long before Lee finally closed the loop on his circumnavigation in 1967.

He soon set out on yet another peripatetic voyage, again with all women as crew. This time he decided to start with a loop of the North Pacific and sailed to Japan via Honolulu and southeast Asia. On October 11, 1970, Lee and and four women, two of them Japanese, departed Aburatsubo, Japan, on Neophyte Too headed back for San Francisco.

They were never seen or heard from again.

It’s very appropriate that Mary Ann is the one left to tell Lee’s story. He was an overwhelming force in her life, and it’s a great testament to her own ambition and willpower that she succeeded in carving out an independent life of her own… and that she succeeded in surviving him.

Onboard Haircuts: A Necessary Evil

Thu, 2014-06-12 20:06

Although I can’t claim we spend our days in yachting whites, we aboard Papillon do make an effort to meet a minimum standard of grooming.  This isn’t always easy when your choice is between sufficient drinking water and a nice shower, but we do our best. One of our persistent problems has to do with hair. Let’s face it: we’re a hairy boat.  So how do we manage those strands of waste protein that just won’t stop growing?

Originally appeared as Long, Beautiful Hair on November 12, 2012
When I was little, Saturday morning was not complete without cartoons on channel 29 out of Buffalo. One of the staple commercials breaking up He-Man and Scooby Doo was The Hair Club For Men. Happy clients shook their newly-thickened locks as they cavorted in hot tubs with young models in blue eyeshadow and grinned knowingly at us, the viewers, around their Burt Reynolds mustaches. I never understood why men would want those elaborate, shiny perms, and I put it down to Strange Things Grown-Ups Do.

Maybe the problem was that I didn´t identify with the untamed styles of the late 70s. In my family, hair was neatly cut, no matter whether you tended to the thinner end of the hair continuum, or you fell on the hairy end of the curve. When my brothers were about seven and ten, a movie was filmed at their summer camp. My brothers were instantly cast to wrestle in the background of a certain shot. Why? Because the movie was set in the 50s, and their crewcuts were perfect.


The girls had long hair when they first boarded Papillon; they now they have considerably less. Between the salt and the sand and their casual acquaintance with the hairbrush, they were starting to look somewhat feral. Chop, chop. I bought a proper pair of scissors from a beauty supply shop and, when we couldn’t find a decent (read: cheap) haircut, Mom would do the honors. And I’d like to claim that I can produce a fairly decent bob. I’ve promised them they may grow their hair when they can take care of their hair; we’ll see when the magic day arrives. As for me, I have long, straight hair. Erik won’t go near it with the scissors, so about twice a year I find a salon, have it trimmed, and that is that.

And then there is Erik. His hair is a thatch. Curly in childhood, it is now a wavy landscape of wiry bristles that obey no man. If you have ever seen an aerial view of Mayan pyramids still buried in the jungle, you will have an idea of what I mean.

This mystified me at first. I am no stranger to full hair; my father’s family – every man, woman and child – grows hair in what I can only describe as a luxurious abundance. My nonagenarian grandfather still sports a snowy coif to put one in mind of Cary Grant. But every man Jack of us has straight, manageable hair. Not so my husband. Make no mistake – his hair is the envy of men half his age. It is thick, grows quickly, and there is an almost-impossible volume of it sprouting from his noggin. (If you are familiar with the Artemis Fowl books, Erik has Mulch Diggums hair – impossibly thick and quite possibly alive.) But, he has only sixty seconds after leaving the water to brush or otherwise manage his hair. After that, the die is cast. Nothing will shift the geologic strength of those patterns.

During the decades we’ve been together, Erik’s hair has slowly gotten shorter. In high school he sported a mop that followed the letter, if not the spirit, of our school rule that a boy’s hair never fall below his collar. Gravity had no effect on the twisting strands erupting from Erik’s head; the hair just went up, up, up. He cut it shorter during university to ease the summer job hunt, but the peaks and valleys returned quickly if he didn’t keep ahead of the game.

On the boat, Erik’s hair has gotten shorter still. To his delight, Erik discovered that he has Latin American hair. This meant the haircuts he received through Central America were the best and most ridge-free he had ever enjoyed. By the time we reached the Galapagos, Erik was sporting what the girls and I dubbed the Caesar look, and, as a totally unbiased onlooker, I must say he’s looking pretty good these days.

The problem is, the ‘fro comes back: the new hairdo won’t last much beyond 3-4 weeks. So, when we got to Tahiti, we decided the time had come to buy our own set of clippers. No more paying an outrageous $3 for a haircut! I could figure out how to work the clippers before we left on passage, and any disaster would grow back by the time we hit land again. Simple. Brilliant.

We perused the clippers at the department store. We bought what looked like a robust pair. We took them home and opened the box. After some debate, we decided to start with the conservatively long teeth, just in case things didn’t go smoothly; ie. let’s not scalp Erik right out of the gate.

“Ready?” I asked.
“Ready,” said Erik.
Bzzz brrrrp rruh rruh rruh.
We were stuck.

I turned off the clippers and gently teased them out of Erik’s hair. I looked at them. Three sad wisps sat in the hair catcher. I pressed the button again. Bzzzzz! The clippers buzzed merrily in the air. I put the clippers back against Erik’s head. Bzzz brrrrp rruh rruh rruh. We were stuck again.

We switched to the shorter teeth. Then the shortest teeth. Rruh, rruh, rruh. No go. All thoughts of saving Erik’s delicate scalp were gone – we cranked the dial to eleven. Erik’s hair just tangled in the clippers and refused to be cut. I think I heard it snicker.

We debated the problem with our male friends in the harbor. They laughed and ran nervous hands through their own fine hair. Everyone agreed: Erik has too much hair for man-clippers.

“Right,” said Erik. “I’m going to the pet store.”

And he tried. He went to every pet store in Papeete trying to buy dog clippers, but there were none to be found. I don’t suppose many sheepdogs roam the tropics (and if they do, they don’t last long in that heat). Worse luck for Erik.

He is getting shaggy again. The pyramids are slowly erupting through the Caesar cut. But in a few weeks, we will be in New Zealand. And if there is one thing Kiwis know, it is how to separate a fleece from its owner.

Industrial clippers, here we come.

Update: June 2014
He had to wait until Christmas, but Erik got his clippers.

And, as you can see on the box, they are indeed intended for the furrier among us: namely, poodles and horses.

But they work a treat.  I’m slowly getting better at giving Erik a nice,smooth haircut.  Lucky for me, his hair grows so rapidly that even the worst errors would grow out in a week.  Point is, thank goodness for the Osters.  And let’s hope the kids never get their hands on them.

Boom! Volvo Ocean Race 2014

Thu, 2014-06-12 17:17

GoPro: Great White Shark In Sydney Harbour

Thu, 2014-06-12 14:15

I spent over a year on and off, anchored right at that spot, and jumped off those rocks many times. It looks like since then somebody’s put an (ineffective) fence around them. The very first time I dropped anchor there, after entering the Heads for the first time, and old salt advised me on the holding, and advised me not to swim. I asked why, and he made the the big mouth sign with his arms. Throughout the year+, and many hours of lovely swimming around that bay, bottom scrubbing, etc., I came to dismiss all the the rumors about man-eating sharks in Sydney Harbour/Port Jackson. Hmm… What a video!

Lenovo Windows tablet, new MFD accessory or primary plotter?

Wed, 2014-06-11 18:50

Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 11, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

I first heard of the Lenovo Miix 2 when Digital Yacht dubbed it a “best buy for boaters”; besides a low price of about $220, the 8-inch tablet is purportedly bright, fast, and able to run regular Windows navigation programs like DY’s own SmarterTrack. While an internal GPS enables standalone navigation, the DY team mainly envisions the tablet as a second station using NMEA 0183 or 2000 boat data (like the AIS seen above), provided over WiFi by one of its many black box hardware options. But then a look at the Miix 2 on Amazon revealed a sailing reviewer who’s very enthusiastic about this tablet as his primary nav device, running free OpenCPN software…

Before discussing the Lenovo tablet as a DIY chart plotter, here’s a SmarterTrack screen shot showing the tablet’s 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution (minus the bottom menu bar seen in the top photo). A significant feature of this setup as a second station is that a user can copy the Navionics chart card they’re using in their MFD to the tablet, including the latest Navionics+ with “Freshest Data” and SonarChart updates. SmarterTrack also seems quite adept at AIS plotting, able to graphically forecast Closest Point of Approach (CPA) situations as illustrated above. (It’s pure coincidence that my Raymariner experience last week included those same River Hamble waters.)

This image shows the Lenovo Miix2 working at the helm of a Catalina 250 on the Delaware River, and apparently, owner Rick S. is not only happy with the display, but did enough research to claim its daylight viewability is better than all the Windows 8 competitors out there right now. Besides that Amazon review, Rick has explained his nav system in detail on this Sailnet thread titled “Chart plotter or iPad.” It’s a good read if you’re interested in how this choice may play out, as I think both sides are well represented.

Rick is also an evangelist for OpenCPN, as you’ll find on this Cruisersforum OCPN thread — where he posts as “RhythmDoctor” — and in this tablet discussion. I’m not familiar with OpenCPN — Rick’s screen shot above was taken on the netbook that preceded the Windows tablet — but it obviously has a lot of fans, and Bill Bishop recently covered a new team effort in open source boat data called Signal K that might benefit efforts like OpenCPN significantly. Plus, Furuno really did come out with the 1st Watch DRS4W WiFi-only Radar (though Furuno USA doesn’t seem interested, and I don’t understand its value myself). I remain interested in all these developments, but I’m unable to envision tablets taking over navigation on a boat like mine any time soon. So I appreciate how Rick S is often careful to state that he sails in protected waters (though with lots of AIS traffic). I also notice that the Lenovo Miix2 is listed as “sold out” by the manufacturer and newer models are not specific about screen brightness.

But what happens when powerful, weatherproof, high-bright tablets come along at reasonable prices? In fact, last week I participated in a lively discussion on that topic in a very unlikely spot. Or perhaps it was the perfect spot, as the HMS Warrior — where Raymarine hosted a gala dinner on the gun deck — was apparently a marvel of warship technology in 1860 but soon became obsolete. Personally, I’m glad to have missed the opportunity to beta test the 110 pound breech loading guns, though muzzel loading 68 pound shells don’t seem appealing either. It was a heck of a spot to discuss the future of tablets and marine electronics, but several of the product guys and even the company’s general manager were up for it.

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