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Dishing with Iain Murray

Tue, 2014-05-06 13:38

Hamilton Island in the Whitsunday chain, Queensland, Australia, home to the Challenger of Record for AC 35

Sail-World’s Richard Gladwell recently interviewed Iain Murray, and he came away with not a lot that is groundbreaking, but a lot that echoes or confirms what has been rumored, bandied, leaked or guessed at in the long wait for a Protocol for America’s Cup 35.

Murray, most recently CEO of America’s Cup Race Management, has been many things in the sailing world, from skiff champion to Cup designer and skipper. He has deep background with the Oatley family, which owns Hamilton Island Resort and the Hamilton Island Yacht Club, and he was the choice to head their effort as Challenger of Record. These past months, it’s been Murray (“Jethro” to those who go back to his skiff days) in negotiation with Russell Coutts of Oracle Racing, hammering out an agreement for 62-foot catamarans and working toward a protocol.

I agree with Gladwell that Oracle’s plan to sail with the challenging teams, even part of the time, has unfortunate echoes that will require careful explanation (my phrasing) of why this is a good or necessary thing. As ever, grafting a circuit onto an America’s Cup match (sorry, Russell, a match is what it comes down to) just doesn’t come natural-like, desirable though it may be.

Read Richard Gladwell’s story here.

Cheap LED Strip Lights for Boats

Tue, 2014-05-06 13:14


Looks like Ben Ellison also just blogged about inexpensive LED lighting – when it rains it pours – but note that one of these entire color-changing, dimmable, waterproof strip kits costs about half what a single marine LED fixture costs.

These LED strip lights must be in every college dorm room on the planet by now. They’re cheap (about $30 for a complete kit), they can make all the colors of the rainbow, and using the included automatic controls they’ll do all kinds of fades, flashes, and disco colors, which are kinda fun.

For a boat they’ve got other advantages: They use little power, about 3 amps at 12 volts to light up a 15-foot strip at full power – this is enough to light a large main cabin; they’re flexible and waterproof; and they can be set to just dim red, which is great for night sailing without blinding the crew. Finally, the strips themselves run on 12-volt DC, meaning they can be run directly off ship’s power on most boats. The kits usually come with an AC power supply, which can be chucked. The connector from the power supply input will need to be cut off, then 12-volt ship’s power can be connected directly. Here’s what I bought on Amazon:

I’ve read that these LED strips can overheat and burn out with voltages over 12 volts. I’ve run my system at full tilt with my engine’s alternator charging, so voltage over 14 volts, with no detectible heat. Obviously you should conduct similar tests with your system to make sure you don’t burn out your LEDs or start a fire.

These strips make all the color combinations just like a TV screen: Red, green, and blue LEDs can be mixed to make any color, sort of. Much like fluorescent lights, the color of LED lights can be less than pleasing. For home LED strips they make various natural white or sunlight white variations, but these are just white LED strips, without the other colors. On the color-changing strips their version of white, which is the red, the green, and the blue at full blast, is a sickly, bluish, hospital ER kind of light:

What I find more pleasing for evening relaxation is their version of orange, which is red with a touch of green, and no blue whatsoever:

Full disclosure: I’d been mulling this idea around for about a year when Green Brett wrote a very good article in Cruising World. You can see his wiring diagram here.

Mr. Brett saved me a lot of time, I assume by making a lot of the same mistakes I was about to make, and finding solutions. I was so impressed I just went out and bought exactly what he told me to buy, but then I had to screw it all up by getting fancy: I wanted strips on both sides of the boat, so I’d have to split my system in half. Then of course I’d want separate on/off switches for each side of the boat, in case I wanted just the galley lit up, but not the bookshelf on the port side. And while Mr. Brett installed footlights, and had a nice overhang under a settee to install and hide the LED strip, I’d be installing mine as under counter lights to illuminate my galley bench top and the bookshelf on the opposite side of the cabin. I’d have to find a stylish way to hide them.

You’ll want to hide the LED strips because they’re ugly, or at least not very nautical looking, and if you look right at them they’re blinding. I figured I needed a half inch thick teak batten to shield the LED strip, making them invisible unless you were lying on the cabin floor, and making the light diffused rather than direct. Of course this teak had to be ordered, cut, shaped, drilled, countersunk, and varnished, adding another few hours to the project.

Look at the size of the box, and the amount of packaging, to mail a teak stick:

Since these LED kits come with a remote control and controller, Mr. Brett and I both agreed that we might as well install the controller for a laugh, so we could have all kinds of strobe, disco, flashing, fading fun. We also both agreed that we’d probably lose or destroy the remote control in no time, so we’d better install a manual override. Mr. Brett installed a manual fader just for red; I went for manual controls on all three colors.

Again, this stuff is pretty cheap, so it’s not the end of the world to change your mind a bit. I junked my whole first purchase and bought a double density LED strip (300 LEDs per strip instead of 150) for another $30, just because.

Mr. Brett figured out, I assume the hard way, that there are all kinds of possibilities for certain LEDs to light up unintentionally: Each strip has four circuits, the three colors of LED, plus a common or ground. By customizing the system to have both the automatic and manual controls, it’s easy to end up with unintended lighting, like the other colors of LEDs glowing dimly when you intended to just have red. Mr. Brett used a DPDT (double pole double throw) switch and a diode for this purpose. I ditched the diode and went with a TPDT switch (triple pole double throw) switch:

These switches are like two or three on-off-on switches in one, with each individual switch called a pole, and each position called a throw (on-off-on is double throw, just on-off is single throw). In my installation one pole is used for the 12-volt power feed positive, another for negative, and the third for the LED strip ground. This way all three of these are switched from one controller to another (or completely off) with no chance for a sneaky back feed.

My TPDT switch, just missing the 12-volt ship’s power connections:

To show things a little more clearly, here is a diagram of a TPDT switch:

In my installation, the terminals are as follows: 1. Ground to automatic controller 2. Ground to LED strips 3. Ground to manual controller 4. Positive to automatic controller 5. Positive 12-volt ship’s power 6. Positive to manual controller 7. Negative to automatic controller 8. Negative to ship’s power 9. Negative to manual controller

In other words, the switch is switching three different things – the LED ground, ship’s 12-volt positive, and ship’s 12-vold negative – back and forth between the two different controllers, with an off position in between.

There should be a 5-amp fuse on both the positive and negative 12-volt feeds.

At this point I’ll admit I probably made this way more complicated than it had to be. If you just whack off the AC power supply and connect 12-volt power, and use these kits as they come, with the remote control, everything will be just peachy.

Here’s the whole magilla:

The white box at the top is the automatic controller, with it’s little infrared remote receiver and the output wires sticking out to the left, and the 12-volt power input on its right. Just below the white box is my TPDT switch, which you’ve seen before. On both sides of the TPDT switch are my on-off switches for each side of the cabin. At the bottom is the 3-color manual controller, with its 12-volt power coming in from the right, and the LED outputs on its left.

The LED strips can be cut every few inches, at specific points, to make them any length. Once cut at these points, you’d need to solder on a new pigtail to connect it to power. Here, where I’ve cut the strip, you can see the three circuits for the three colors, plus the common. Note that these strips use a positive common:

My LED strip came with pigtails at both ends (I think most do), so I was able to cut the strip in the middle and still have a pigtail on each section without any soldering.

I’d wired my whole system and screwed my teak battens into place. It was time to stick the LED strips in place, peeling the tape off the 3M adhesive backing. In this case 3M stands for Maybe, Might, and Might not stick. In my case it stuck…for about three minutes. I even foresaw this and went over the surfaces with acetone and a heat gun beforehand, just to make sure they were very clean and dry. Back to the drawing board.

The LED strip suppliers sell these little silicone saddles, for holding the strips in place with screws. But the saddles would change the location of the strips in relation to my teak battens, so I’d have to seriously customize my teak battens, just so the strips would still be tucked up into the corner, snug against the battens:

With the saddles installed:

Once I’d installed my saddles, the strips went into place just as I wanted, tucked in right against the teak battens:

Typical. Typical boat project. I don’t know how many hours. 20? 30? for a fun and funky project to install some cheap disco lights on my boat. Was it worth it? Yes, it was worth it, and total materials were something less than $200, with $80 of this going to the teak stick. If we graph our boat projects and call one axis of the graph “functionality,” and the other axis “bling,” this project would land in the upper right quadrant, having both functionality and bling, whereas replacing a bearing on the steering linkage would have functionality but no bling, and new varnish would be pure bling.

Here is my final control layout, integrated into the stereo shelf. Yes, it’s a lot of switches and controls, but keep in mind it’s not just a light switch but a Main Cabin Lighting Color and Intensity Control System:

Again, the switch in the middle switches between the three-color fader and the remote control, with off in the middle. On either side (with the red tips) are the on-off switches for each side of the cabin:

Here’s the dim red. It can go much dimmer than this, as in barely visible, but of course you can’t take a picture in no light:

Here’s green:

Here’s blue:

And here’s purple:

A color for every mood. You can imagine the obnoxious strobe function. The slow fade function is kind of nice, if you’re in the right mood.

With the three or four feet of strip I cut out of this middle this whole system runs at just over 2 Amps at 12 volts, for what I consider good lighting for cooking, eating, and general main cabin activities. They claim these strips will last for over 30,000 hours:

Inexpensive LED navigation lights, Aqua Signal & especially Marinebeam

Tue, 2014-05-06 11:00

Written by Ben Ellison on May 6, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

As much as I value LED lighting, I was hesitant to change Gizmo’s navigation light fixtures. Why spend the (significant) money and refit time to save power when a big alternator is always running at the same time as the running lights? But I had already removed the boat’s side light boards for refinishing last fall, and then I noticed that the cost of at least some LED nav lights has become quite reasonable. It was nearly an impulse buy when I put a pair of Aqua Signal Series 33 side lights in my Defender cart at $45 each. I’m not totally satisfied with the purchase, but I do expect the Aqua Signals to be a vast improvement over those old incandescent fixtures…

My power testing shows that the old incandescent Perko fixture using 12 watts, or over an amp of 12v current, while the LED Aqua Signal comes in at about 2 watts or 0.17 amps, even though it’s approved to meet the 2 nautical mile visibility and other requirements by about every authority possible (BSH, USCG, IMO COLREG, GL, RINA, ABYC A-16, and CE). Of course, that’s why LED running lights are a no-brainer for sailboats. Possibly more important for powerboaters is the fact that these and other LED fixtures are completely sealed and claim a lifetime starting at 20,000 hours.

A look inside the old running light reveals a typical but unreliable incandescent design. First there’s the intrinsically delicate bulb whose filament must heat way up to work, and then there’s the spring clips that have to deal with the heat and current in often damp atmospheric conditions. No wonder they often fail. This is also why LED bulb replacements are often a bad idea. You can get a Dr. LED festoon bulb that fits this fixture, but you’ll still have the clip connection to worry about, and you also won’t get maximum power efficiency (and maybe not 2nm visibility) because you’re putting an entirely different lighting technology into a fixture it wasn’t designed for. Besides, the replacement bulb costs almost as much as the entire sealed and purpose-built Aqua Signal 33 fixture! (I’ve also learned that LED interior fixtures are often a much better choice than bulb replacements.)

But then I discovered Marinebeam’s Navlight series of LED running lights. The stern light above did cost $89, as did the steaming light I also bought, but they’re better than the Aqua Signal 33 design in at least two ways. An obvious difference is that good quality 8-foot 18AWG power lead, as compared to the pathetic 7-inch lead on the Aqua Signal fixture (and hat’s off to West Marine for noting that specification when most other seller’s don’t). I’ll be cursing Aqua Signal when I have to fit the splice to that little lead into a routed pocket on the back of Gizmo’s light boards, and I also had a devil of a time getting the white trim piece off without damaging it.

Meanwhile, the Marinebeam casing snaps on and off, no problem, and the 3nm rated stern light looked very bright in my lab while drawing just 0.11 amps of power. So far, I’m really impressed with the Marinebeam design and look forward to using them. In fact, I intend to run Gizmo’s new set of LED nav lights even in daylight; I’ve always thought that had some safety value, particularly in fog, but was somewhat hesitant due to the short lifetime of those now silly-seeming filament bulbs.

Yes, it was a bit of a shopping spree, as a Navisafe 2nm Tricolor Navi Light seemed hard to pass up at Marinebeam discount. In the flesh the Navi Light seems as well designed and made as the company marketing suggests. Tapping the button let’s you fire up all three sectors, or just any single one, or just the red and green sidelights. I’ll probably use the latter mode on the bow of my rowing tender, leaving the magnetic plate fastened in place where it will automatically align the otherwise portable light, or maybe I’ll fashion a pole so I can use all three lights at once without blinding myself. In either case, it will be a vast improvement over waving a flashlight around (even if that’s legal). Marinebeam also offers a kit for legally lighting a small power boat, and I might add the adjustable strap that comes with a Navi Light means you could also wear it on your head…maybe at a beach party?

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

Holy Church of the Pacific Cup

Tue, 2014-05-06 02:03

By Sutter Schumacher

From the web site of the Pacific Cup, starting 67 boats, San Francisco Bay-Kaneohe Bay in July, 2014

John F Kennedy didn’t get it quite right when he proclaimed that humans are tied to the sea in part because their blood and the oceans share the same salinity, but the effect of human communion with the sea is undeniable.

Racers know this intuitively. They get soaked, bruised, sunburnt, wind-burned, physically exhausted, and sometimes worse; they often end up paying a fortune (directly or indirectly) for the privilege of doing so; and then they do it all again the next day.

The exact nature of salt-water immersion varies for everyone: on the water or in it, inshore or around islands, offshore or coastal. Mexico or the South Pacific, The Caribbean or the Med. Some hardy souls even prefer high-latitude sailing (though I doubt much full immersion takes place there). My salt-water communion is most holy when in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

I always suspected this to be so, but any lingering doubts were erased when I raced in the Pacific Cup in 2004 and I was transformed by life lessons, forged connections with previous generations since gone, and developed an increased self-awareness that’s opened new doors of opportunity.

Mind you, I’m no stranger to ocean racing. Races are mile markers in our family history. Working backward from whether it was around the time of a Mexico or a Hawaii race (to gauge the season), or whether it was a TransPac or Pacific Cup year (odd-numbered or even), I recall when things happened. For example, my parents’ engagement coincided with the 1973 TransPac (or so I’m told; I wasn’t yet a gleam in my father’s eye). My parents bought a new house in the summer of 1988 (my mom signed the papers while dad was at Block Island Race Week), and I learned to drive a car in 1992 (just after we finished the Coastal Cup – Santa Barbara edition).

My family’s ocean passages span several centuries, but our tradition of racing between California and Hawaii started in the mid-20th century with a grandfather I never knew. A couple of years later, my dad launched his Hawaii race career. My mom even joined him once (admittedly the last time she chose to sail offshore) – although between untimely deaths and lifestyle changes, we’ve never done a trans-generational trans-pacific race.

So you could argue fate determined that it was a matter of when, not if, I’d arrive in Hawaii by sailboat. It wasn’t an automatic entitlement, however. It took a lot of patience and hard work before I got my chance, when I was invited to be on the crew of a 46-ft racer/cruiser of the ’04 Pacific Cup.

Despite the folklore, photos and home movies – or perhaps because of it – I didn’t really appreciate what I was in for. More than just a matter of ticking an item off my bucket list and more than a first-hand story to tell about the soft trade winds and that sweet aloha welcome, 10 years later my Pacific Cup experience remains a lifetime highlight to date.

If you’re a Pac Cup veteran, you know what I’m talking about. After all, you’re a repeat offender, in the best possible way. But for the rookies, who are about to embark on the journey of a lifetime, be forewarned that you will never be the same again.

If you’re a Pac Cup veteran, you know what I’m talking about. After all, you’re a repeat offender, in the best possible way. But for the rookies, who are about to embark on the journey of a lifetime, be forewarned that you will never be the same again.

What follows are a few of the lessons I learned and continue to think about. Some are vain or trivial, while others are life preserving. But all struck me 10 years ago, and remain true to my experience today.

Continue reading

The Sailor’s Guide to Marathon Training: Day 1 in Bermuda

Mon, 2014-05-05 19:22

ARC Europe 2011 at the Dinghy Club in St. Georges.

Back in Bermuda. To be honest, I didn’t want to leave home, and had a remarkably relaxing 33 hours in Lancaster from Saturday night until early this morning. But when we landed, I was reminded of why I like it here so much. The colors on Bermuda don’t make sense. On a sunny day, with the pastel paint on the houses around St. Georges and the electric blue water around the shallow reefs and pink beaches, it really looks imaginary. Alice in Wonderland type stuff. Inspiring.

But today’s about running, and marks the first post of many that will chronicle my training efforts as I prepare for my 5th marathon in Helsingborg, Sweden on September 13. The goal is 3:30:00, a full 12 minutes better than last year’s PR at the Wineglass Marathon in the Finger Lakes region of NY (which itself was 12 minutes faster than Baltimore, the year before that). I have this theory based on Einstein’s relativity, that the older you get, the easier it is to run long distances, because the time you’re out there is a smaller percentage of the total amount of time you’ve spent on Earth. So year after year these marathons just keep getting easier!

That’s only half of it though, and while that mental game is a good one to play, the reality is that you simply can’t ‘fake’ a marathon. 5k? Easy. Even a half, if you’re more or less active. You’ll finish (eventually). But not a marathon. You’ve got to put the miles in. So what follows henceforth and into the future will be my own personal guide on how I train for running marathon’s, while keeping the lifestyle of a semi-professional sailor and event manager that keeps me on the road and out of any sort of routine. My only disclaimer is that this is based entirely on whimsy – no science, no research, just what works for me. Follow along if you like and train with me.

So what gives me the authority to write about marathon training? Nothing. Other than the fact that I know how to live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. I’ve done it. When I was 18 and a senior in high school, I weighed 255 pounds, my peak (or low, depending on your perspective). I wasn’t ‘sloppy fat’, as I like to say – I played football in middle school (center) and golf in high school, captaining my team in 11th and 12th grade with a 4 USGA handicap. I held the HS squat record in the weight room at 455 pounds. I’ve waterskied since I was five, and have snow skied since I was 11. So I was active. But I was huge, and had high blood pressure in 8th grade. No good.

Running Marstrand, Sweden, after a five-day North Sea crossing on Arcturus in 2012.

Long story short. I asked my mom one day while we were tossing the football around in the driveway (she was that kind of mom) if she’d help me get healthy (ironically she died of brain cancer in 2012, almost exactly two years ago, and was by far the healthiest person in our extended family, mentally and physically). She put me on the Atkins diet initially, whereby I shed a quick 30 pounds and realized what was possible, and since then it’s been a long evolution to my own present method of maintaining a healthy lifestyle both mentally and physically. In short, I eat anything so long as it comes from the earth and is sustainably produced. Lots of grass-fed meat; an average 4 eggs per day, from my friend Dane who has his own chickens; lots of raw milk; cheese; yogurt (plain); and veggies, salad, potatoes, fish, rice, oats, etc. Not an ounce of refined sugar (I haven’t had ice cream or even a single cookie in probably 7 years), and very few wheat products or anything that comes out of a box. I love strong coffee and red wine, and I drink almost exclusively German beer (it’s mostly brewed according to the Purity Law of 15-something that prohibits anything beyond water, malt, hops and yeast to go into the beer. My favorite is Kostrizter). I rarely have more than 2 drinks a night but have them probably 3-4 times per week. Today I weigh 168, can run a mile in 5:15 and have blood test numbers that are off the charts in all the right categories. Importantly, I know these things about myself.

So you can write me off as an amateur, or you can listen. My method works, but it’s hard (all good things are). This is the first time I’ve actually documented my marathon training, or written anything really about the lifestyle I lead regarding health and fitness.

Day 1: St. Georges, Bermuda

It wasn’t on purpose, but today marked my first official marathon training day. While I’ve been active all winter (7 days hiking and skiing in Telluride, about 4 days per week at the gym, and over 2,000 blue water miles sailed since January), I’m only now transitioning back into the running thing full-time since tapering off after last October’s marathon PR. I’ll still spend one day a week in the weight room, working on Olympic-style lifts like snatch and clean (and of course spend a bunch of time with my kettle bell), but henceforth until September the focus is on running.

I set out today to run all three parts of the loops we’d gotten used to in Bermuda over the past few years having come here yearly this time for the ARC Europe rally (I saw ‘we’ meaning Mia and I. Helsingborg will be her 6th marathon). I started out following the main street just in town, passing Somer’s Grocery on my left and arching up the hill towards the Dinghy & Sports Club. There are some impressive yachts in the harbor: the giant red Swan Red Sky is in port, as are a few massive super yachts, including the big ketch Adele and a host of others at Bermuda Yacht Services on Ordnance Island. And then there’s the smaller cruising boats in the anchorage. This place is a haven for the ‘real’ sailor – it’s at least 600 miles from anywhere, and at any given time in the spring and fall ‘moving’ season, you’ve got an impressive list of boats and sailors hanging around.

Adele at the dock. Image courtesy kiwitravelwriter.wordpress.com.

I ran past Town Cut and continued north along the coast, shadowing a MacGregor 65 that was looking for an anchorage in the lee of the island as the wind was honking from the WNW. I looped back to the west and around the old golf cart path on what used to be the St. Georges Club (where my grandfather got a round in back in the day) but what is now a field of overgrown weeds. At this point I got lost for a little while and ended up looping back on myself, but eventually found my way out the other side and onto the Bermuda Rail Trail that follows the northern coastline on very nice spongy, green ground. Disappointingly this trail ends rather abruptly at the oil depot, so I retraced my steps and descended back onto the main road back in towards St. Georges.

I couldn’t run past Ft. George Hill without having one little scamper up to Bermuda Radio. Normally I’ll spend an entire morning there running hills, but today was just a taste of what’s to come, and an opportunity to stretch my tired legs (I spent an hour at the Y in Lancaster yesterday practicing my snatch technique). I dropped back into town and up Turkey Hill to the small apartment where Mia and I will stay for the next ten days (she’s flying up from St. Thomas as I write this). 

St. Georges in three parts: East End, the Rail Trail, and Ft. George Hill in 63 minutes.

Stats: 63 minutes run. 6.9 miles covered. 9.1 min/mile pace.

Not a bad start for an easy run. Note that I do not run with headphones (okay sometimes), but I NEVER run with a watch or timing device. I note the time when I walk out the door, and note the time when I come back. The only exception is when I’m doing intervals, which is rare. I run based on how I feel – slow and sluggish today, for a slow and sluggish pace. When the mood strikes me, I run fast.

See? I told you. Not much science. But come September, the miles will be there, the speed will be there (I hope), and mentally I’ll be another few months older, so it’ll all feel that much shorter :)

The ongoing theme here, and why I’m posting this to my sailing blog, is that you’ll find that running is our – mine and Mia’s – way of exploring the places we travel to. And nowadays, our travel is about sailing, whether or our own boat, on other people’s boats, or for the events we run with the World Cruising Club. There’s no other practical way of exercising when we’re away so much, and it doesn’t get much simpler than throwing on a pair of shoes and shorts and hitting the pavement or the trails. (And by the way, I’ve been a ‘natural’ style runner for over two years now. I wear New Balance Minimus sneakers with just a 10mm drop – and have a pair of leather Five Finger’s for trail running – and have attributed my cured back and knees to the transition into that style).

Oh and one more thing: I started meditating six days ago, thanks to my friend Clint Wells’ inspiration. I’m six days in, and up to 11 minutes per session now. That experience will be an ongoing theme in this running blog, and it’s already paying dividends in my mental fitness.

The Sailor’s Guide to Marathon Training: Day 1 in Bermuda

Mon, 2014-05-05 19:22

ARC Europe 2011 at the Dinghy Club in St. Georges.

Back in Bermuda. To be honest, I didn’t want to leave home, and had a remarkably relaxing 33 hours in Lancaster from Saturday night until early this morning. But when we landed, I was reminded of why I like it here so much. The colors on Bermuda don’t make sense. On a sunny day, with the pastel paint on the houses around St. Georges and the electric blue water around the shallow reefs and pink beaches, it really looks imaginary. Alice in Wonderland type stuff. Inspiring.

But today’s about running, and marks the first post of many that will chronicle my training efforts as I prepare for my 5th marathon in Helsingborg, Sweden on September 13. The goal is 3:30:00, a full 12 minutes better than last year’s PR at the Wineglass Marathon in the Finger Lakes region of NY (which itself was 12 minutes faster than Baltimore, the year before that). I have this theory based on Einstein’s relativity, that the older you get, the easier it is to run long distances, because the time you’re out there is a smaller percentage of the total amount of time you’ve spent on Earth. So year after year these marathons just keep getting easier!

That’s only half of it though, and while that mental game is a good one to play, the reality is that you simply can’t ‘fake’ a marathon. 5k? Easy. Even a half, if you’re more or less active. You’ll finish (eventually). But not a marathon. You’ve got to put the miles in. So what follows henceforth and into the future will be my own personal guide on how I train for running marathon’s, while keeping the lifestyle of a semi-professional sailor and event manager that keeps me on the road and out of any sort of routine. My only disclaimer is that this is based entirely on whimsy – no science, no research, just what works for me. Follow along if you like and train with me.

So what gives me the authority to write about marathon training? Nothing. Other than the fact that I know how to live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. I’ve done it. When I was 18 and a senior in high school, I weighed 255 pounds, my peak (or low, depending on your perspective). I wasn’t ‘sloppy fat’, as I like to say – I played football in middle school (center) and golf in high school, captaining my team in 11th and 12th grade with a 4 USGA handicap. I held the HS squat record in the weight room at 455 pounds. I’ve waterskied since I was five, and have snow skied since I was 11. So I was active. But I was huge, and had high blood pressure in 8th grade. No good.

Running Marstrand, Sweden, after a five-day North Sea crossing on Arcturus in 2012.

Long story short. I asked my mom one day while we were tossing the football around in the driveway (she was that kind of mom) if she’d help me get healthy (ironically she died of brain cancer in 2012, almost exactly two years ago, and was by far the healthiest person in our extended family, mentally and physically). She put me on the Atkins diet initially, whereby I shed a quick 30 pounds and realized what was possible, and since then it’s been a long evolution to my own present method of maintaining a healthy lifestyle both mentally and physically. In short, I eat anything so long as it comes from the earth and is sustainably produced. Lots of grass-fed meat; an average 4 eggs per day, from my friend Dane who has his own chickens; lots of raw milk; cheese; yogurt (plain); and veggies, salad, potatoes, fish, rice, oats, etc. Not an ounce of refined sugar (I haven’t had ice cream or even a single cookie in probably 7 years), and very few wheat products or anything that comes out of a box. I love strong coffee and red wine, and I drink almost exclusively German beer (it’s mostly brewed according to the Purity Law of 15-something that prohibits anything beyond water, malt, hops and yeast to go into the beer. My favorite is Kostrizter). I rarely have more than 2 drinks a night but have them probably 3-4 times per week. Today I weigh 168, can run a mile in 5:15 and have blood test numbers that are off the charts in all the right categories. Importantly, I know these things about myself.

So you can write me off as an amateur, or you can listen. My method works, but it’s hard (all good things are). This is the first time I’ve actually documented my marathon training, or written anything really about the lifestyle I lead regarding health and fitness.

Day 1: St. Georges, Bermuda

It wasn’t on purpose, but today marked my first official marathon training day. While I’ve been active all winter (7 days hiking and skiing in Telluride, about 4 days per week at the gym, and over 2,000 blue water miles sailed since January), I’m only now transitioning back into the running thing full-time since tapering off after last October’s marathon PR. I’ll still spend one day a week in the weight room, working on Olympic-style lifts like snatch and clean (and of course spend a bunch of time with my kettle bell), but henceforth until September the focus is on running.

I set out today to run all three parts of the loops we’d gotten used to in Bermuda over the past few years having come here yearly this time for the ARC Europe rally (I saw ‘we’ meaning Mia and I. Helsingborg will be her 6th marathon). I started out following the main street just in town, passing Somer’s Grocery on my left and arching up the hill towards the Dinghy & Sports Club. There are some impressive yachts in the harbor: the giant red Swan Red Sky is in port, as are a few massive super yachts, including the big ketch Adele and a host of others at Bermuda Yacht Services on Ordnance Island. And then there’s the smaller cruising boats in the anchorage. This place is a haven for the ‘real’ sailor – it’s at least 600 miles from anywhere, and at any given time in the spring and fall ‘moving’ season, you’ve got an impressive list of boats and sailors hanging around.

Adele at the dock. Image courtesy kiwitravelwriter.wordpress.com.

I ran past Town Cut and continued north along the coast, shadowing a MacGregor 65 that was looking for an anchorage in the lee of the island as the wind was honking from the WNW. I looped back to the west and around the old golf cart path on what used to be the St. Georges Club (where my grandfather got a round in back in the day) but what is now a field of overgrown weeds. At this point I got lost for a little while and ended up looping back on myself, but eventually found my way out the other side and onto the Bermuda Rail Trail that follows the northern coastline on very nice spongy, green ground. Disappointingly this trail ends rather abruptly at the oil depot, so I retraced my steps and descended back onto the main road back in towards St. Georges.

I couldn’t run past Ft. George Hill without having one little scamper up to Bermuda Radio. Normally I’ll spend an entire morning there running hills, but today was just a taste of what’s to come, and an opportunity to stretch my tired legs (I spent an hour at the Y in Lancaster yesterday practicing my snatch technique). I dropped back into town and up Turkey Hill to the small apartment where Mia and I will stay for the next ten days (she’s flying up from St. Thomas as I write this). 

St. Georges in three parts: East End, the Rail Trail, and Ft. George Hill in 63 minutes.

Stats: 63 minutes run. 6.9 miles covered. 9.1 min/mile pace.

Not a bad start for an easy run. Note that I do not run with headphones (okay sometimes), but I NEVER run with a watch or timing device. I note the time when I walk out the door, and note the time when I come back. The only exception is when I’m doing intervals, which is rare. I run based on how I feel – slow and sluggish today, for a slow and sluggish pace. When the mood strikes me, I run fast.

See? I told you. Not much science. But come September, the miles will be there, the speed will be there (I hope), and mentally I’ll be another few months older, so it’ll all feel that much shorter :)

The ongoing theme here, and why I’m posting this to my sailing blog, is that you’ll find that running is our – mine and Mia’s – way of exploring the places we travel to. And nowadays, our travel is about sailing, whether or our own boat, on other people’s boats, or for the events we run with the World Cruising Club. There’s no other practical way of exercising when we’re away so much, and it doesn’t get much simpler than throwing on a pair of shoes and shorts and hitting the pavement or the trails. (And by the way, I’ve been a ‘natural’ style runner for over two years now. I wear New Balance Minimus sneakers with just a 10mm drop – and have a pair of leather Five Finger’s for trail running – and have attributed my cured back and knees to the transition into that style).

Oh and one more thing: I started meditating six days ago, thanks to my friend Clint Wells’ inspiration. I’m six days in, and up to 11 minutes per session now. That experience will be an ongoing theme in this running blog, and it’s already paying dividends in my mental fitness.

Top 10 signs it’s time to leave the island

Mon, 2014-05-05 08:40

We may not be with the fleet heading to Africa (this year), but it’s time to go. Here’s how to know when you really should move on to a new place:

10. Gooseneck barnacles reach the toe rail.

9. The latest charts show your vessel as a hazard.

8. Baby birds emerge from nests under the solar panels…for the 3rd time.

7. A waitress at the nearby restaurant invites you to her wedding. Again.

6. A proposal is floated to use your boat as the gift shop for the planned “Pirates of Asia” theme park.

5. Fish under the boat form a home owner’s association, requesting 60 days notice before departure.

4. Tour guides come to you for advice on cool spots.

3. A new government study on plate tectonics includes your boat as a key marker.

2. Fishermen begin to wave back.

1. Everybody knows your name!

Friends who read this on the Sailfeed website always know not to overstay at the island.

Top 10 signs it’s time to leave the island

Mon, 2014-05-05 08:40

We may not be with the fleet heading to Africa (this year), but it’s time to go. Here’s how to know when you really should move on to a new place:

10. Gooseneck barnacles reach the toe rail.

9. The latest charts show your vessel as a hazard.

8. Baby birds emerge from nests under the solar panels…for the 3rd time.

7. A waitress at the nearby restaurant invites you to her wedding. Again.

6. A proposal is floated to use your boat as the gift shop for the planned “Pirates of Asia” theme park.

5. Fish under the boat form a home owner’s association, requesting 60 days notice before departure.

4. Tour guides come to you for advice on cool spots.

3. A new government study on plate tectonics includes your boat as a key marker.

2. Fishermen begin to wave back.

1. Everybody knows your name!

Friends who read this on the Sailfeed website always know not to overstay at the island.

Alternative Big Bang: the Alinghi Story

Sun, 2014-05-04 21:39

In the world of big-cat racing, what the Extreme Sailing Series has going for it is fleet racing. Here is the official wrapup summary as supplied by the press team in China’s capital of sailing, Qingdao.

- One of the biggest crashes in the Series’ eight-year history sees Red Bull Sailing Team T-Bone Alinghi at nearly 15 knots according to the SAP analytics, knocking both boats out of racing.

- Realteam, the model of consistency over four hard-fought days in Qingdao, take a well deserved second place.

- Emirates Team New Zealand take third, and are now positioned nicely to topple the old order on the overall Series leaderboard.

- The pressure is now on The Wave, Muscat when the fleet head to Saint Petersburg for Act 4, with Alinghi now two points ahead on the overall Series leaderboard.

On the final days racing at the Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series™, Act 3 Qingdao, the Olympic sailing city lived up to its reputation as a notorious and unpredictable racecourse. Even one of the biggest crashes in the Series’ eight-year history, that saw Red Bull Sailing Team T-bone Alinghi and knock the Swiss out of racing, couldn’t stop Morgan Larson, Anna Tunnicliffe, Nils Frei, Pierre-Yves Jorand and Yves Detrey, who took victory despite watching the final races from the dock, after the international jury awarded the he Swiss boat a redress, to helmsman Larson’s relief. “We were lining up at the start, and approaching the line with ten seconds to go and most of the fleet was on port. Red Bull ducked behind us, the winds were shifty and up and down, there was too much of a puff and they couldn’t get the bear away and T-boned us – it happens. It’s great to have won, we had such a great regatta that it was bittersweet to end that way, but I think we earned it so it feels good. We’re just glad that no one was hurt and that the boat is repairable – it will take a week in a good boat yard, but it will be back and ready to race.”

Manus Olsson Podcast Revisited

Sun, 2014-05-04 20:23

Magnus Olsson was on the Two Inspired Guys podcast a while back, and I’m relaunching this episode now on 59º North. I interviewed Magnus in downtown Stockholm, at the ‘Sprit Museet’ (Alcohol Museum) on Djurgården. Our boat Arcturus was tied up in the harbor there after we’d sailed her across the North Sea. Magnus and his partner Vica cycled down to the harbor and had coffee with us on Arcturus before he and I did the podcast. It was initially about an article I wrote for Yachting World on code sails, but turned into a discussion on sailing in general Magnus was truly larger than life, which comes through in this episode, and it was with great sadness that the sailing world learned of his passing last summer in Lanzarote, where he was training with Team SCA, the all-female entry in the next Volvo Ocean Race. I only knew him for short time, but it was a privilege. Thanks for the memories – and the podcast! – Magnus.

Manus Olsson Podcast Revisited

Sun, 2014-05-04 20:23

Magnus Olsson was on the Two Inspired Guys podcast a while back, and I’m relaunching this episode now on 59º North. I interviewed Magnus in downtown Stockholm, at the ‘Sprit Museet’ (Alcohol Museum) on Djurgården. Our boat Arcturus was tied up in the harbor there after we’d sailed her across the North Sea. Magnus and his partner Vica cycled down to the harbor and had coffee with us on Arcturus before he and I did the podcast. It was initially about an article I wrote for Yachting World on code sails, but turned into a discussion on sailing in general Magnus was truly larger than life, which comes through in this episode, and it was with great sadness that the sailing world learned of his passing last summer in Lanzarote, where he was training with Team SCA, the all-female entry in the next Volvo Ocean Race. I only knew him for short time, but it was a privilege. Thanks for the memories – and the podcast! – Magnus.

Virtual Sailing, the New Reality. And Better Sex

Sun, 2014-05-04 15:29

By Kimball Livingston Posted May 4, 2014

Three questions:

1) Can you get a winning edge in design before you build your foiling catamaran for America’s Cup 35?

(Everybody tried, designing AC72s for America’s Cup 34, but challenger and defender were still development platforms when they hit the line for race seventeen.)

2) Can you train a crew on dry land?

(When sailing time is brief.)

3) Can you empower the technical team and the sailing team as mutual development partners?

Joseph Ozanne and Kevin Borrows say yes to 1 and 2, and yes-you-must to question 3. It’s the norm in aviation. It’s the norm in motorsports. And sailing? Duh.

Ozanne, left, and Borrows, aka eb1 Labs, open for business

Ozanne and Borrows are software engineers who worked on Oracle Racing’s AC72s—Ozanne goes all the way back with Oracle to V5 monohulls—and they lived through the early teething episodes that were so painful. Yes, we all remember that awful crash in October of 2012 that sidelined boat number one until February, 2013, but these guys are clear that from the very beginning . . .

“The problem was a short runway,” Ozanne says, “and with that, the massive problem of building those boats, which everybody undercooked. They just didn’t see how hard it was going to be. A good example is what happened on day one at Oracle, when we snapped one of our daggerboards on our first day of sailing. And even then the problem was not so much that we’d had a major engineering failure. The problem was that a sailing team that relied upon on-water testing was docked for six weeks. So there we were as a technical team, day after day, getting no feedback from the sailors that we could put into the design of boat number two. And the Kiwis were out foiling day after day, and the media was bearing down, and did I mention there was pressure?”

And then the relaunch, and the crash on sailing day eight. And every specialized technical “department” of Oracle Racing already knew that the boat would crash in that condition, but the wing-trim data was not integrated with the foil-trim data was not integrated with the dot dot dot in a way that could be communicated, much less rehearsed.

Ozanne says, “When I run a VPP of the boat, I get a performance curve, and I put that on a spreadsheet. But as soon as I put that on a projector and run the numbers for a sailing team, I lose my audience. Kevin and I are looking for a new way to communicate, because the sailors don’t use the tools that we use to design fast equipment. We need to get the sailors integrated into development. It shouldn’t be me sailing the boat in the computer. It shouldn’t be Kevin. It should be the sailors, the way they do things in aviation or in Formula One.”

Now comes the looming horizon line of AC35, at the end of another short runway. Ozanne, 35, is a French native who revels in the innovative fervor of Silicon Valley. He and Kiwi-born Borrows are now partners in eb1 Labs, based in Ozanne’s home on Clay Street, San Francisco, where the bones of the house are traditional, and Ozanne’s additions are as 21st century as his outlook for the future of high-end sailing, and for the future of the software product that he and Borrows call driRun.

“On-water testing is incredibly challenging,” Ozanne says, “and it is not well suited to the technology of foiling catamarans. It’s super-complicated. You can do it small-scale, which New Zealand did with SL33s and Oracle to some extent with 45s, and in that you learn a lot about the thing you need to know most:

“In a foiling boat, what is the tradeoff between stability and performance?

“That is, you learn a lot about the tradeoffs between stability and performance in 33s and 45s, but you can’t transfer your numbers and your predictions to a bigger platform. Coming to AC34, nobody had a tool for that, because it required a lot of input from the sailors on the water, and you need to account for their ability to manage a very unstable platform.”

Enter driRun.

Here is my paraphrase of the company’s self-description:

driRun is a physics engine (dynamic VPP) driving high fidelity computational fluid dynamics models. The physics engine is interfaced using the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset to immerse the pilot firmly inside the simulation.

For each given set of environmental inputs, driRun’s engine simulates yacht performance, state and forces several times per second. The data is served back to the user in real time, as in the instrument package of a real yacht. driRun also leverages its database for replays, scenario building and professional performance analysis.

It all happens within the virtual world of the Oculus Rift headset.

Not so long ago, Oculus was seeking Kickstarter funding. Then Oculus sold to Facebook . . . for $2 billion . . . even before becoming a consumer product.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, declares, “The mission of Oculus is to enable you to experience the impossible . . . the incredible thing about the technology is that you feel like you’re actually present in another place with other people.”

How far can they take this? Next time, we’ll jump into an Oculus Rift and go sailing. But before I leave you, I hear you asking, Better sex? What’s up with that? Well, my dears, your answer is here.

Matt Rutherford Sails for Japan: Into the Gyre

Sun, 2014-05-04 14:23

Matt Rutherford & Nicole Trenholm depart a wet and windy San Francisco Bay on tiny Sakura.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll notice that I posted a brief note last night just before 11pm. I had a call from an ’8816′ number – a sat phone number – that woke me up. Normally I sleep with my phone on ‘Do Not Disturb,’ but as the ARC Europe fleet just went to sea, and my number is listed as their emergency contact number, I left it on. I thought it was one of our boats – and always think the worst. But it was Matt on the phone. 

“Everything okay?” I asked in a nervous, sleepy tone.

“Yeah, going great!” he said cheerfully, to my relief. “We’ve been sailing downwind with just the genoa, making 6-7 knots. This little boat has a huge rig, and it’s working. At this rate, we’ll be in Japan in 50-60 days!”

The big picture: Matt & Nicole have a long way to go to cross the world’s biggest ocean.

Matt continued to chat for a bit, remarkably informally for being now 8 days into the Pacific, about halfway to Hawaii. Then again, he’s probably now settled into that ‘spiritual middle’ part of any long voyage, the best part. Matt belongs at sea, and you could hear it in his voice that he was happy. No more stress of preparation, just in the moment. Anyway, I wanted to post his latest blog entry here from his voyage to Japan with his partner Nicole Trenholm aboard the little Harbor 29, Sakura. Head on over to oceanresearchproject.org to support their research efforts, or follow them on Twitter for updates. Here’s Matt:

Day 8: Into the Gyre

This is the first time in history that any organization has done a continuous marine plastics survey from one continent to another. During our 7,000 mile voyage we will cut through both the east and west sides of the North Pacific Gyre (AKA the Pacific Garbage Patch) along with mapping its southern extreme.  We have nearly arrived at our first waypoint after sailing for 950 miles.  For the next 1,000 miles we will be sailing south southwest surveying a region never yet explored by scientists in the field of marine plastics.

It didn’t take long before we started seeing plastic trash floating around.  A broken leg from a plastic lawn chair, black buoys (we saw nearly 10 of those in a day and a half), disregarded fishing gear, ect.  Last summer we spent 73 days at sea non-stop exploring the North Atlantic Gyre using a manta net (to reference look under menu tab projects/ past).  You had to slow the boat down to 1.5 knots to properly use the manta net.  This time we have a high speed trawl called an Avani net.  Both nets have to be boomed out over the windward side of the boat with a spinnaker pole in what I call “clean water”. This is water that is not effected in any way by the vessels wake, as that would screw up our sample. The first time we deployed the Avani net we were going too fast and broke our spinnaker pole in less than 30 seconds. It’s a good thing we brought a spare pole.  So now we drag the Avani net every day for a few hours at 3 knots, any faster and we might break something else.

After the first few days of headwinds we were becalmed.  We motored sparingly as we only have 30 gallons of diesel for a 7,000 mile passage.  I really don’t like being becalmed but you’re not always going to have wind at sea.  It’s funny how people talk so much about heavy weather sailing but the reality is you will encounter far more light winds at sea than you will strong winds.  So be prepared for both.

The Harbor 29 does well in light winds mostly due to its monstrous 46 foot tall mast (50 feet off the water!).  That’s an incredible amount of sail area for such a small sailboat.  It also does fine in stronger winds as we have three very deep reefs and running backstays. To balance out this powerful rig, Sakura has a womping six foot, three inch draft with a 45% ballast to displacement ratio.  These numbers are off the chart for a boat this small. She couldn’t be more different than our 42 foot, steel hulled, cat rigged schooner we used for our Atlantic Gyre research last summer.  It’s nice to change things up once and awhile.I’m a defensive sailor, not an offensive sailor.  I live by the motto “reef early, reef often”.  Nikki and I are not out here to break some kind of speed record, we are here to do research.  Although, I would be interested to see how fast this boat could go racing around the marks in Annapolis.

Today (Saturday) Quantico Yacht Club will be hosting the first annual Ocean Research Regatta (all the proceeds go to Ocean Research Project).  Although we could not join today we supplied the skippers with Heavy Seas beer and recycling “empties” bags. QYC is located on Quantico Marine Corp base, I have done several talks there and they have always been a lot of fun.  A big thanks to QYC! We hope more yacht clubs will follow in their footsteps.  There is a lot of problems facing our oceans, and a lot a research left to be done.

Also check out our education blog.  We are currently talking with middle school students in Anne Arundel County.  They are taking charge of their education, building a blog with us so that together we can teach many more about the problems related to plastic trash in our oceans.  Research is important, but so is education. Sierra Club is re-posting their work. Feel free to share the student’s blogs. Ocean Research project is science, education and exploration.

-Matt Rutherford

Garmin’s GCV 10, a serious new weapon in the sonar war

Sun, 2014-05-04 12:30

Written by Bill Bishop on May 4, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Panbo is very pleased to publish the first guest entry of esteemed marine electronics installer and writer Bill Bishop ~ editor

It’s a rare case when we actually get to see into some technology we use, and this is one. You’re looking at a special clear casting of the DownVü/SideVü transducer that Garmin designed for its GCV 10 CHIRP-based sonar. As the photo suggests — you can click it much bigger — there is much more to this tech then you might initially think. The long silvery bars (you can see two of three) are the ceramic piezo transducer arrays. The shorter one is for the down scan. The metal dot on the right side is the temperature sensor. In Garmin’s words “the DownVü and SideVü transducers were designed using an innovative multi-element shaded array to provide clear, picture-like imaging. The range and side-lobe performance is like nothing else out there.” This is not simple stuff. With today’s rapid developements consumer marine sonar is now nearly the equal of sonar systems owned by oceanographic research institutions, albeit with less power. The average boater isn’t doing seabed mapping at extreme depths, but hey if you mounted this transducer on a tow fish…

I recently installed a GCV 10 with the transom-mounted transducer and connected it to a Garmin 741xs. (I have heard a rumor that a new through-hull transducer is in the works and may be available this summer.) This was a straight forward plug-and-play exercise with no complications. It did require upgrading the 741′s software, and the SD update card to do this was in the package. Like all sonar products, and especially with down and side systems good transducer installation is critical to achieve performance at speed. The GCV 10 can currently be used with Garmin’s new 7xx, 8xx, and 1xxx series systems. Integration software for the 8000 glass helm systems is in process and will be released this summer. (Bill’s detailed entry on installing the GCV 10 here.)

The GCV 10 CHIRP’s in two ranges, 455kHz (low) and 800kHz (high). The actual CHIRP frequency sweep for the low range is 445kHZ to 475kHz and the high is 805kHz to 840kHz. In general the higher frequency mode will show sharper detail in shallow waters, and the resolution will fall off as the water gets deeper. This threshold between lower and higher CHIRP ranges is give or take around 200ft depending on conditions. Much deeper than than this, the 455kHz range will likely perform better. Frequencies can be mixed and matched. For example you can down scan using the 800kHz range, and at the same time side scan using the 455kHz range, as seen on the screeen below.

Power in a CHIRP system does matter, I think. The more energy you can put in a target, the stronger the return echo. It’s difficult to divine what the actual true power capability of many sonar systems are because manufacturers seem prone to using fuzzy terminology for transducer power output. Some use Peak to Peak measurements and others RMS wattage. It begs the question whether transducer output ratings are an aggregate of all of the transducer elements, or for each one.

Each of the three GCV 10 arrays outputs 500 watts rms each for a combined total of 1500 watts rms when simultaneously using both types of scans. This certainly places it at the upper end of transducer power output for existing scanning system, if not making it the outright current power champion. This advantage improves the ability to hold bottom at higher speeds in deeper water than other systems I’ve seen and definitely did a better job showing fish targets. I ran the boat at speeds above 35kts and the display kept up and maintained crisp imaging in both down and side scan modes.

The various screen shots really tell the story. As you can see just above even the imaging while using the low frequency range in quite shallow water is terrific and there didn’t seem to be a lot of difference between the low and high frequencies to me. But as the water gets deeper the 800kHz CHIRP range will provide sharper detail compared to the 455kHz mode until somewhere around 200ft. The screen shows a ledge just off Pompano beach and the structure on the left side, and continuing on the bottom right is coral. If you look closely you can even see the ridges in the sandy bottom.

This Hydro Atlantic wreck DownVü screenshot was taken at 169ft during GCV 10 testing. The ship wreck is clearly visible despite two to three foot seas that caused the minor blurring. The really notable aspect of this image is how well the GCV 10 images fish. To the left of the wreck is a cloud of hundreds of fish. On the right side you can see what looks like a sizable bait fish ball.

The newer Garmin sonars now have the ability to record sonar streaming for later playback using Homeport software. Recording can be only be done on a single channel at a time using either DownVü, traditional, CHIRP, or SideVü modes. For the 741xs I was using you will need a SD chiplet inserted in the card slot for the recorded data. (Is there a better name for these impossibly small chips?) Garmin says for every15 minutes of sonar recording time you will need about 200MB of chip memory storage. Let’s make this easier, figure on a gigabyte per hour.

I do wish Garmin had included a way to export the videos in more user friendly mainstream formats for uploading to YouTube or the ilk. Poking around it’s possible to create sonar recording videos using Microsoft’s free Screen Recorder or other similar software. You can also mark waypoints using specific sonar features on the display by pausing the sonar, use the cursor or your fingertip to place the waypoint, and select New WPT. Waypoints can be added in a similar way while playing back sonar in Homeport also.

I think a new line in the sonar wars sand has been drawn, and Garmin as the latest to enter the fray has no doubt taken advantage of the lessons learned by others. What I found was simple implementation, easy to use, very fast image processing, sharp bottom displays and a strong technical sonar entry. The screen shots will tell more of the story as time goes by, but I really liked this system and only had some minor gripes about the MFD user documentation.

Same famous Panbo hat, just a new voice that will on occasion be wearing it. All of the GCV 10 screen shots seen here are courtesy of Garmin International.

Besides for installing marine electronics in Sarasota, Florida, Bill Bishop also creates the wonderful Marine Installer’s Rant ~ editor

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

Garmin’s GVC 10 DownVü/SideVü, a serious new weapon in the sonar war

Sun, 2014-05-04 12:30

Written by Bill Bishop on May 4, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Panbo is very pleased to publish the first guest entry of esteemed marine electronics installer and writer Bill Bishop ~ editor

It’s a rare case when we actually get to see into some technology we use, and this is one. You’re looking at a special clear casting of the DownVü/SideVü transducer that Garmin designed for its GCV 10 CHIRP-based sonar. As the photo suggests — you can click it much bigger — there is much more to this tech then you might initially think. The long silvery bars (you can see two of three) are the ceramic piezo transducer arrays. The shorter one is for the down scan. The metal dot on the right side is the temperature sensor. In Garmin’s words “the DownVü and SideVü transducers were designed using an innovative multi-element shaded array to provide clear, picture-like imaging. The range and side-lobe performance is like nothing else out there.” This is not simple stuff. With today’s rapid developements consumer marine sonar is now nearly the equal of sonar systems owned by oceanographic research institutions, albeit with less power. The average boater isn’t doing seabed mapping at extreme depths, but hey if you mounted this transducer on a tow fish…

I recently installed a GCV 10 with the transom-mounted transducer and connected it to a Garmin 741xs. (I have heard a rumor that a new through-hull transducer is in the works and may be available this summer.) This was a straight forward plug-and-play exercise with no complications. It did require upgrading the 741′s software, and the SD update card to do this was in the package. Like all sonar products, and especially with down and side systems good transducer installation is critical to achieve performance at speed. The GCV 10 can currently be used with Garmin’s new 7xx, 8xx, and 1xxx series systems. Integration software for the 8000 glass helm systems is in process and will be released this summer. (Bill’s detailed entry on installing the GCV 10 here.)

The GCV 10 CHIRP’s in two ranges, 455kHz (low) and 800kHz (high). The actual CHIRP frequency sweep for the low range is 445kHZ to 475kHz and the high is 805kHz to 840kHz. In general the higher frequency mode will show sharper detail in shallow waters, and the resolution will fall off as the water gets deeper. This threshold between lower and higher CHIRP ranges is give or take around 200ft depending on conditions. Much deeper than than this, the 455kHz range will likely perform better. Frequencies can be mixed and matched. For example you can down scan using the 800kHz range, and at the same time side scan using the 455kHz range, as seen on the screeen below.

Power in a CHIRP system does matter, I think. The more energy you can put in a target, the stronger the return echo. It’s difficult to divine what the actual true power capability of many sonar systems are because manufacturers seem prone to using fuzzy terminology for transducer power output. Some use Peak to Peak measurements and others RMS wattage. It begs the question whether transducer output ratings are an aggregate of all of the transducer elements, or for each one.

Each of the three GCV 10 arrays outputs 500 watts rms each for a combined total of 1500 watts rms when simultaneously using both types of scans. This certainly places it at the upper end of transducer power output for existing scanning system, if not making it the outright current power champion. This advantage improves the ability to hold bottom at higher speeds in deeper water than other systems I’ve seen and definitely did a better job showing fish targets. I ran the boat at speeds above 35kts and the display kept up and maintained crisp imaging in both down and side scan modes.

The various screen shots really tell the story. As you can see just above even the imaging while using the low frequency range in quite shallow water is terrific and there didn’t seem to be a lot of difference between the low and high frequencies to me. But as the water gets deeper the 800kHz CHIRP range will provide sharper detail compared to the 455kHz mode until somewhere around 200ft. The screen shows a ledge just off Pompano beach and the structure on the left side, and continuing on the bottom right is coral. If you look closely you can even see the ridges in the sandy bottom.

This Hydro Atlantic wreck DownVü screenshot was taken at 169ft during GCV 10 testing. The ship wreck is clearly visible despite two to three foot seas that caused the minor blurring. The really notable aspect of this image is how well the GCV 10 images fish. To the left of the wreck is a cloud of hundreds of fish. On the right side you can see what looks like a sizable bait fish ball.

The newer Garmin sonars now have the ability to record sonar streaming for later playback using Homeport software. Recording can be only be done on a single channel at a time using either DownVü, traditional, CHIRP, or SideVü modes. For the 741xs I was using you will need a SD chiplet inserted in the card slot for the recorded data. (Is there a better name for these impossibly small chips?) Garmin says for every15 minutes of sonar recording time you will need about 200MB of chip memory storage. Let’s make this easier, figure on a gigabyte per hour.

I do wish Garmin had included a way to export the videos in more user friendly mainstream formats for uploading to YouTube or the ilk. Poking around it’s possible to create sonar recording videos using Microsoft’s free Screen Recorder or other similar software. You can also mark waypoints using specific sonar features on the display by pausing the sonar, use the cursor or your fingertip to place the waypoint, and select New WPT. Waypoints can be added in a similar way while playing back sonar in Homeport also.

I think a new line in the sonar wars sand has been drawn, and Garmin as the latest to enter the fray has no doubt taken advantage of the lessons learned by others. What I found was simple implementation, easy to use, very fast image processing, sharp bottom displays and a strong technical sonar entry. The screen shots will tell more of the story as time goes by, but I really liked this system and only had some minor gripes about the MFD user documentation.

Same famous Panbo hat, just a new voice that will on occasion be wearing it. All of the GVC 10 screen shots seen here are courtesy of Garmin International.

Besides for installing marine electronics in Sarasota, Florida, Bill Bishop also creates the wonderful Marine Installer’s Rant ~ editor

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YACHT DESIGN 2014-05-02 22:26:05

Fri, 2014-05-02 23:26

 

Sitting, listening to Ludwig Van and thinking about my week

Fri, 2014-05-02 11:37

Blog entry 5-2-14

 

 

 

This was an interesting week. I was working very hard Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday I flew down to San Francisco to give a lunch talk at St. Francis Yacht Club. SFYC is by far my most favorite YC. They have always made me feel very welcome and I had had the privilege of attending two of their Tinsley Island Stag Cruises. This is a marvelous four day event on a private YC owned island up in the Sacramento River delta.

 

Wednesday I got up at 4am, drove to the airport, checked my ticket and saw that my flight was at 8:40! So it was a long day for me. But SFYC was generous and flew me first class so I was comfortable. I was picked up by Ron Young in his fancy Mercedes 500 SL sports car. Ron drove me, very quickly, to the YC. There I met Wayne Shen who was to be my guest for the event. I met Wayne on Facebook and he is one of a growing group of Taiwanese sailors that I have become friends with. I now belong to the FBYC and as far as I can see I am the only non native Mandarin speaker in the club. But, “Wo ce ce can” I do my best.

Wayne is a very active SF sailor who does a lot of teaching. Wayne owns one of my Tayana 37′s.  He’s a great guy and very involved the the emerging sailing scene in Taiwan.

 

 

I was also met at the club by a whole group of old friends. Most I had not seen in years so it was a real treat to see them again. There were quite a few members there that owned my boats. My talk went very well. I have the knack for that. But these days, after losing Spike, I can often at any moment go into “full panic” mode. It’s not fun and while I used to laugh when people mentioned “panic attacks” I will never laugh at them again. They are very real. But thank God the day went without any panic issues and I felt totally comfortable and at ease giving my talk. Wayne drove me to the airport and I was home by 8pm. Long day. Very satisfying day.

 

Seattle Yacht Club contacted me last Sunday and asked if I would come down and give a talk at SYC. I told them that the chance of that was very unlikely. SYC is not SFYC. While I have some great friends who are SYC members the club has not treated me well over the years and I can’t see spending half a day to go there and entertain them.

 

 

The other interesting this going on this week has been the installation of solar panels on the roof of my beach shack. It should be completed today and I’ll report back later on the success of the system. I am hopeful that it will be as efficient as I have been told.

 

That’s about it. I am going sailing with Kim on Sunday for a photo shoot with my pal Neil Rabinowitz. Neil is as good it gets when it comes to marine photography and I have known Neil for many years. Neil will be shooting for two magazines, SAILING and the German magazine, YACHT. Kim is not wild about the publicity but he is doing this as a favor for me so my work will get more exposure. There is no question that I would love to see more SLIVER type boats get built to my designs.

 

 

Sail safely. Sail quickly.

Team NZ Drops out of the Volvo

Fri, 2014-05-02 11:28

They have history in the race, and they had plans for the race, but Team New Zealand will not compete in the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race, even with a one-design format to ease the path forward.

Instead, after all the talk about win or die at the 2013 America’s Cup, Team New Zealand is all about the 2017 match. The New Zealand Herald reports:

Team New Zealand has announced they will not be competing in the 2014/15 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.

In recent weeks, the team had explored a joint challenge with Spanish interests, but chief executive Grant Dalton said the team was not convinced it could mount a successful challenge in the time available and the team’s energies would be better directed towards the next America’s Cup. The Volvo Ocean race starts at Alicante, Spain, on October 4 this year.

Read the full story here.

IBEX ConnectWorld, thanks to Chetco Digital

Fri, 2014-05-02 11:00

Written by Ben Ellison on May 2, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

A surprise high point of last year’s International Boatbuilders Exhibition (IBEX) was ConnectWorld. For several years the National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) had staged a substantial ConnectFest NMEA 2000 networking demonstration on the show floor — remember the Fish Gate 100? — but for some reason they dropped out in 2013. I arrived skeptical about a hurried effort to keep the idea alive managed by a manufacturer instead of NMEA. What I found, however, was that Chetco Digital Instruments had put together a nice demonstration of multiple brand devices sharing data across multiple networks. While NMEA 2000 made a lot of it possible, there’s some great development going on beyond the N2K backbones and I’m excited about what we’ll see in Tampa at IBEX 2014…

If you check out the text on the ConnectWorld entrance above you’ll see a list of marine related networking elements that starts with NMEA 0183 and 2000 but goes on to Ethernet, WiFi, cellular data communications, other Internet connections, and finally The Cloud. And that is the larger truth of what’s happening on many boats these days. Not only are MFD’s monitoring and controlling all sorts of systems beyond navigation, often with mobile devices involved, but an obviously big area of future marine electronics development is getting boat data easily into the cloud, both for our later enjoyment and also for better care of our equipment.

Though not on the list, the translation of analog engine and other data into more easily networked forms — mainly NMEA 2000 — is a significant part of this process and was very much in evidence around the ConnectWorld device corral. In fact, Chetco started as a company mainly focused on translating traditional engine sensor output into forms that can be displayed more precisely and flexibly (and also logged), as suggested in the SeaGauge display above and described in this 2011 Panbo guest entry

But even on short notice, the 2013 ConnectWorld was not just a Chetco product demo. Besides that bouquet of Offshore Systems tank monitoring gear, there’s the Actisense EMU-1 which competes pretty directly with the Chetco SeaGauge and which I installed on my old Volvo Penta diesel last fall (round two testing to begin pretty darn soon). The point is that ConnectWorld attempted to include many manufacturers, and IBEX management assures me that this year every relevant exhibitor has been invited to participate in a more sophisticated demo that will be called The Connected Boat. NMEA will be involved again and Chetco CTO Joe Burke will continue to serve as ringmaster (and networking troubleshooter). He too has assured me that the goal is to demonstrate how many brands and layers of technology can work together for the benefit of builders, refitters, and their customers.

Here’s another section of ConnectWorld 2013 with Navico demonstrating how its MFDs can show engine and other data, and Chetco showing off its work at the outer branches of marine networking. Its line of SeaSmart Gateways able to serve boat data to mobile devices and beyond has come a long way since I tried one in late 2011. When Joe Burke and I took part in an IBEX seminar about marine wireless advances, he demonstrated a new “PushSmart” protocol with which a second-generation SeaSmart SDL module can both log data to an SD card and also automatically push it up to the cloud when possible.

So now Chetco is building out a HelmSmart Web portal where SeaSmart users can access their data in various ways like ChartSmart, GraphSmart, and netGauges. Burke told me about several very practical uses like a Coast Guard project comparing various engine fuels, but wouldn’t it also be fun to have a data history of trips as suggested in the screenshot above. Actually, you can view a “tape” of that trip yourself and you’ll also see the area that Joe likes to fish and that gave Chetco its name.

I don’t recall much Maretron presence at ConnectWorld 2013 but I did see some similar thinking at their nearby booth. Their VDR100 data recorder doesn’t employ a cloud stradegy but the included N2KExtractor analysis software (which you can try) seems quite powerful.

At any rate, I’m hoping to see Maretron and many other companies represented in The Connected Boat demo area this September. The concept as I understand it goes well beyond a corral of networked sensors and displays. Apparently there will be at least faux engines, tanks, batteries, charger/inverters, steering systems, etc. all talking to a central helm section and then to mobile device and off-boat areas. And I gather that the exhibitor response has been so enthusiastic that IBEX is already planning a larger Connected Boat area in 2015!

I plan to attend IBEX 2014 in Tampa, hopefully fresh from testing various connected boat products while getting Gizmo to the Chesapeake Bay, and I’ll also be helping with seminars about wireless marine advancements and interfacing/logging engine sensors. Finally, sorry to enthuse about a trade show to many readers who aren’t in the trade, but hopefully discussions like this hint at where marine electronics is headed.

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EXPLODING BLUE WHALE: They’re Standing By in Newfoundland!

Thu, 2014-05-01 14:54

What do you do when a dead 81-foot blue whale washes up on your beach? Hold your nose and wait for it pop. So it goes in Trout River, Newfoundland, when the local population of 600 souls has been has been waiting on pins and needles for their whale to burst since it washed up in town last week. There’s even a dedicated website: hasthewhaleexplodedyet.com

The problem is these big dead sea mammals bloat with methane gas as they decompose, and the results can indeed be a bit violent. Check out this viddy of a marine biologist prodding a bloated dead sperm whale in the Faroe Islands last year:

You’ll see that everyone seems to know what’s coming.

Right now, as I’m writing this, it also seems the whale in Newfoundland is deflating on its own. Bummer. When I first found the site this morning things looked promising.

Evidently, one thing you should not do with a bloated whale is try to move it. Witness this ugly scene in Tainan City, Taiwan, when a sperm whale exploded on the street in 2004 while being moved to the town dump:

Icky poo. And, of course, you shouldn’t intentionally blow up your whale, like these idiots did in Oregon:

Be sure to catch the bit at the end where a perfectly good Cadillac is crushed by a piece of flying whale blubber.

Even if the poor folks in Trout River do not get to see their whale explode, they’ll still have the problem of disposing of its rotting corpse. Local and Canadian federal officials are currently fighting over who is responsible for this.

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