Does it happen to you?
These shots were made early this week by onetime Stanford sailing coach Blake Middleton, now removed to, as Bob Dylan once described it, “the North Country, fair.”
Blake gives us the scene as, “Nine Z-420s from the University of Minnesota and area high school teams in a narrow band of open water. Say, 200 yards X 25 yards?”
And that is the report from 44° 54′ N X 093° 38′ W.
Spring is here. Posted 4/9/2014 by KL
Lee Chesneau reports that he still has a few seats open for his weather seminar on Sunday, April 13, 0800-1600, at the Strictly Sail Pacific boatshow in Oakland, California.
The one-day intensive is on the calendar in particular for entries in the 2014 Pacific Cup, but anyone serious about ocean voyaging can get something out of this. Lee describes it this way:
“The course reviews some important meteorological principles that govern what one will experience routinely on a day to day basis such as pressure and wind. The review also extends to the structure of surface middle latitude weather systems and their features (e.g., lows, highs, fronts, troughs, squall line & ridges), along with the specific symbols commonly found on surface pressure weather charts. The course will focus on what one sees on typical marine oriented weather charts, especially the geographic region that dominates the middle latitudes and subtropical latitudes from the US west Coast to Hawaii.
“Newer topics for some of the offshore cruisers in attendance will focus on the discussion of upper air 500 Mb charts and its role in shaping the patterns produced on the surface pressure and resultant wind pattern at sea level, and thus their subsequent impact on wind and waves. Weather is a three dimensional process and it is important to tie in upper air weather with surface pressure and wind & waves charts as a single entity.
“With the world of electronics as part of a cruisers culture (including weather model products such Gridded Binary Data (popularly known as GRIB files) it is important to understand what goes into a human intelligence originated forecast versus the unfettered GRIB files, and finally how to document and verify all surface weather forecasts for confidence building and learning to becoming self-reliant in an offshore cruiser’s marine weather forecasting skills.”
Cost is $125. Find Lee Chesneau at Marine Weather.
A further note on Strictly Sail Pacific: Your correspondent will join catamaran designer Gino Morrelli of Morrelli & Melvin for a one-hour talk fest, mostly America’s Cup stuff, beginning at 2:15 pm on Saturday. See you at the show—Kimball
The Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) has announced a prestigious new collaboration with the ‘Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation’ (ASSF). The ASSF founded by the Academy’s Director, Sir Ben Ainslie, Iain Percy OBE and Andrew’s wife Leah to honour his life and legacy, will be opening the ‘Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre’ at the same venue where Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson competed during the Olympic Games.
The Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, based in Andrew’s home county of Dorset, will act as a hub for all of the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation’s activities, helping the Foundation fulfil its charitable objectives. The RYA accredited Centre will open in May 2014 offering a range of sailing courses for young people, community organisations and adults; including programmes for schools, as well as club sailors.
Peter Allam, Chief Executive at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy explains the relevance to the local community; ’the ASSF has agreed to work closely with the Academy and the Chesil Trust to deliver the ‘Rod Shipley Sail for a Fiver’ scheme which has to date assisted 12,000 local children to experience sailing on the waters of Portland Harbour. The scheme has run successfully for 10 years and currently introduces 1,500 children to water sports annually. The Academy is committed long term to inspiring the next generation through sailing. Working in hand with the ASSF, this relationship will make a significant contribution to the ongoing development of the Olympic and Paralympic sailing legacy here at the WPNSA’.
Amanda Simpson, Andrew’s sister and a Trustee of the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation as well as being an accomplished sailor in her own right commented, ‘this is a fantastic opportunity for ASSF to engage with grass roots sailing in a place where Andrew spent much of his youth and adult sailing life. We look forward to working with local and national communities to make this venture at the WPNSA a huge success’.
To book a course or to find out more about the Centre’s activities please contact:
Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre
+44 (0)780 555 7068
You can also visit the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation to register your interest.
Happy birthday to my darling granddaughter Violet. Grampy loves you even with a dirty face. I love this photo.
Of course the joy of having Violet is complicated because of the loss of Spike. Some people say I am “lucky”. I have given this a lot of thought and I agree. I am lucky. How can I look at Violet and not consider myself lucky? But not far behind the joy of Violet is the grief of Spike.
I often think how much I am amazed at my ability to deal with what life has thrown at me. But I have become resigned to the situation and I intend to make the most out of the rest of my life as Spike would insist.
But the important thing today is Violet’s birthday so I am going to keep that in the front of my thoughts today and look forward to seeing her tonight for her party.
I love this photo. It’s Valentine’s Day and to me it looks like Violet is looking in the heart shaped box and thinking ” What the fuck! I thought there was supposed to be candy in here.”
Happy birthday Violet !!!!!!!
Etienne Giroire! Andy and friend Billy Rudek (the third voice you’ll hear) sat down with Etienne in his home in Ft. Lauderdale on their way to Marsh Harbor to deliver a sailboat back to Annapolis. Etienne is most know for his namesake sailing company, ATN Inc. (get it?), which produces spinnaker sleeves, trampolines for catamarans, the ‘mast climber’ harness system and other bits and bobs. But more interesting, Etienne is a sailor in the truest sense of the word. Raised in France on Eric Tabarly and Bernard Moitessier, Etienne became in his own right a single-handed hero just like those heroes he grew up with, winning his class in the famous OSTAR race and going on to sail maxi multihulls with some of the most famous sailiors in the game. He did a leg of the Whitbread with Magnus Olsson and sailed his own boat single-handed in the Route du Rhum (which ended in disaster, but I’ll let him tell that story!). Etienne now is a dual citizen of the USA and France, having come to Florida back in the 1980s and never leaving. He’s a remarkably nice guy and a phenomenal storyteller, which is why this one runs so long. But listen right to the end, it’s worth it! Thanks so much Etienne!
Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 8, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
I wish that track was on the water, but testing WaveTrax auto boat logging over the road is impressive, nonetheless. Running on my iPad mini, the app not only collects a track point every minute, but automatically creates log entries marking my Lat/Long, COG, and SOG on the hour (and at user selectable distances). It’s fairly easy to add notes, captioned photos, engine/fuel status, and weather observations as desired, and when a trip is done, I even get to touch scribble a signature. But that’s hardly half of it…
WaveTrax is both an app and a synchronized personal website, and in my view, that’s the way to go for tasks like this. The iPad is easy to use on a trip, but my home PC is better for, say, adding text and photos of my various vessels and regular crew members. And since that data gets synched back to the app, it’s ready to use the next time I start a fresh log entry. Synchronizing app data with the cloud also protects it, plus a mobile device is generally good at wireless connections.
For me, so far, that just means using a Bad Elf Pro for precise GPS records, but I’m optimistic that WaveTrax or similar apps will soon be automatically fetching GPS, weather and lots of other log data via an onboard WiFi source like the just-tested Vesper XB-8000 or the Navico GoFree tested last year (note the TripCon PC log software examples in that entry). All the pieces are falling in place to make automated voyage logging easy, inexpensive and data rich.
But I get ahead of myself. The WiFi boat data connection will be great, but I think that many boaters will enjoy just a well-designed logging app like WaveTrax that also lets you access and edit your trip data on the Web, once they understand the possibilities. For instance, I spent very little time collecting the data that’s in the printable PDF trip log that a WaveTrax user can create on his or her personal website, and it can even include captioned photographs. WaveTrax can also synchronize “certifications” (important documents), though so far they have to be images, not PDFs and the app sells for $13 with a free year’s subscription to the website. (You can try the WaveTrax website for free and it can create logs from existing GPX track files.)
I’ve also been testing the free (Android) BoatLogger app that can now automatically upload data to the BoatLogger website I began beta testing in January. The app is not as polished and full featured as WaveTrax, but then again, my personal WaveTrax website is not as polished and full-featured as what BoatLogger makes possible. Hopefully, these two ambitious developers are checking out each other’s work!
Any developer trying to make it easier for us boaters to keep track of all the data even a moderately complicated vessel can generate should also check out the new iPad app My Boat. The core component is a database of all the gear, spares, etc. you have stowed around your boat, but as you enter them you can assign costs and service/inspection reminders that flow out to other elements of the app. You can also photograph items likes spares. Unfortunately, My Boat does not synchronize to a personal website — though you can back up the database to DropBox — and I ran into other issues like an inability to customize storage locations. But then again, the $20 app does include a lot of pre-built checklists that you can easily customize.
I don’t plan to invest more time in My Boat unless the developer makes my data web accessible — I’m already happy with CarbonFin Outliner for general to-do and checklists — but I will definitely keep testing BoatLogger and WaveTrax as they develop more features (and crush more bugs). I will also predict, though without any inside information, that this year we’ll see a big developer like Navico, Garmin or Navionics/Raymarine announce a vaguely similar logging service. Aren’t the possibilities obvious?
The final illustration shows three screens from the BoatLogger app. It may be rudimentary compared to WaveTrax, but they even threw in some scripts for bad situations like MayDay with all the right data filled in automatically.
Remember when? Team Korea (RIP) photo by Gilles Martin-Raget/America’s Cup
By Kimball Livingston Posted April 8, 2014
In the quiet before the storm—counting down to the release of a Protocol for America’s Cup 35—I note that the chatter-flurry about a nationality requirement has died away in the expectation that “something” will be done, even at the risk of consigning a raft of Kiwi pros to the unemployment line. The “we’re a highly international team” bit has not played as well as hoped, and yes, the American team was thin on yanks. In one facet of the big picture, however, a nationality requirement is kinda too bad. Oman is not joining the AC game, but when you look at the strength of that tiny country’s Oman Sail program, and how it is growing grassroots from the seeds of imported talent, there’s a case to be made for international pollination. If that hasn’t worked yet in the America’s Cup, it’s probably because the bar is set so high for Step One. This is, after all, the America’s Cup. Embracing a turnaround in my own thinking, I believe I see clearly now . . .
Technical innovation. National pride. Those are the overriding themes in America’s Cup, all 162 years of it, especially at the birth of it. Short of a complete overhaul, attempted but not achieved in 2013, that’s how it must be.
In 1851, England hosted the Great Exposition, the first-ever world’s fair, showcasing the wonders of technology in the Victorian age. The Yankee schooner that represented its nation, winning the 100 Pounds Cup, embodied shockingly superior technology in the great age of sail. Britain ruled an empire because Britannia ruled the waves, but those cheeky ex-colonials took them on, and prevailed.
And they had the gall to name that boat, America.
By any other name, it would have been noted, but not historic.
Mama’s Mink Cup 35 in 2017? I don’t think so. Thus began a long run and . . .
The first foreign boat to take away the America’s trophy— after 132 years— was named Australia. To be perfectly correct, the wing-keeled wonder was named Australia II, but it was the ‘Australia’ part that ignited the biggest national celebration in OZ since VJ Day ended World War II. And much later, in 1995 and again in 2013, it was Team NEW ZEALAND that had a nation on the edge of its collective seat.
Draw a comparison to Olympic competition, national pride and audience engagement, and the arguments for a nationality requirement in America’s Cup 35 are a no-brainer.
Except, it’s going to take brains and bets to get it right, or right-enough, in a shrinking, interconnected world with blurred borders and a yearning on the part of so many to get Asia into the game. Asia’s money, whatever.
Frankly, I don’t need a nationality requirement. It means little to my Cup addiction to have, as it seems we soon may, some sort of percentage requirement for crew composition. But, apparently, it’s lesson #1 in America’s Cup Marketing 101. Not to forget that there were those who fustigated mightily each time Charlie Barr was allowed to (successfully) skipper a defender. The same Scottish-born former fisherman Charlie Barr who arrived on the scene as skipper of 1887 Cup challenger Thistle, only to be soundly whipped by the American defender, Volunteer, then go on to take US citizenship and—upon winning the trust of Nathaniel Herreshoff—skipper American defenders in 1899, 1901 and 1903.
But is anybody leaning on our resident Aussie, Jimmy Spithill, to adopt the country where he now lives (in San Diego) with wife and family?
And all those Scandinavian deckhands heaving lines before the invention of winches . . .
Naw, not really part of the conversation.
Whether or not Aussie designer Ben Lexcen really dreamed up the winged keel for Australia II? Or was it that pesky Dutchman, Peter van Oossanen? There’s a question still good in certain circles for a three-beers argument.
Nationality rules, you see.
The word from the regatta organizers of Caribbean Classic-
LAST MINUTE CHARTER OPTIONS FOR ANTIGUA SAILING WEEK 2014
Have you been wishing you had made up your mind sooner to charter a boat to participate in Antigua Sailing Week 2014? Well it’s not too late! There are still single places and whole yacht charters available if you know where to find them.
Antigua Sailing Week’s Official Yacht Charter Sponsor, Sunsail, reports that although all available boats in Antigua are chartered for Antigua Sailing Week, there are still several bareboat options available in St. Maarten. For more information on how to book your Sunsail boat for Antigua Sailing Week see: Sunsail.
Lucy Reynolds of Performance Yacht Charter announced that Sunset Child is still available for charter. Lucy says: “Sunset Child – formerly El Ocaso – is a well-known Caribbean racing yacht which has won most of the prestigious regattas in the Caribbean – the St. Thomas International Regatta overall most recently; the Caribbean Sailing Association’s Traveller’s Trophy in 2013; and the Lord Nelson Trophy as overall winner of Antigua Sailing Week 2012; among many other wins. The J120 is well known for being fast and responsive and is sure to put a smile on your face and put your team on the podium if you’ve got what it takes.”
The charter package for Sunset Child includes the yacht and all her racing and safety equipment, one professional crew and two training days before the regatta. The cost of the charter package is £8,995 but get in touch with Lucy to negotiate a last-minute discount.
Performance Yacht Charter also still has a few individual spaces available on Northern Child for £1,495 inclusive of two professional crew, technical racing t-shirts, racing lunch and refreshments, all berthing and race entry costs – literally turn up and go sailing.
Oyster Lightwave 48, Scarlet Oyster is available for whole boat charter for Antigua Sailing Week 2014. Built in 1987, Scarlet Oyster has been continuously updated and excels in every sailing event she participates in. She has proven very effective in typical Caribbean conditions which tend to see winds of 15+ knots. She has a very extensive sail wardrobe and sail configurations can be adjusted to optimise for the CSA Rating Rule, anticipated conditions and courses, and of course the ability of the crew.
Scarlet Oyster is one of the most competitive race charter yachts on the market with wins that include 1st in class in the RORC Caribbean 600 in 2013 and 2012 (and fourth overall in 2012), several 1st in class wins in the RORC Rolex Fastnet Race, and 1st in class (2nd overall) in the ARC racing division. She has also been very competitive in the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and Antigua Sailing Week finishing in 2nd place in both regattas in each of 2012 and 2013.
Scarlet Oyster races with a crew of 12 and can accommodate six sleeping on board. The cost of the regular charter package for Scarlet Oyster is £10,495 but last minute deals can be negotiated.
For more information about the availability of Sunset Child, Northern Child, Scarlet Oyster and Performance Yacht Charter options, see: Scarlet Oyster.
Ondeck Antigua still has a variety of options available for participating in Antigua Sailing Week 2014. At one end of the scale is Sonic of Ayr, an all carbon 37 foot Santa Cruz that sails like a rocket. Sonic of Ayr is available for whole boat charter or, alternatively, individual places can be booked for the whole event at US $1,895 including sleep on board if required.
Back by popular demand is Ondeck’s ‘Rock up and Race’ offer which allows residents and visitors to Antigua the unique opportunity to take part in the racing for only one day or more. With Ondeck’s local Antiguan Chief Instructor Logan Knight at the helm, novices and/or experienced sailors will be able to join and really be part of the action. At US $225 per day including water, lunch and all safety equipment, this is a unique opportunity for this year’s event. With its base in Antigua, Ondeck’s guests are guaranteed to be part of the post-race party action as well. Book now at: Ondeck Sailing.
Volvo Ocean 70, Monster Project, still has a few individual places left on board for Antigua Sailing Week 2014. It will be your last chance this year to sail on the 70 foot carbon fibre, canting keel racing machine and to experience the thrill of high speed sailing in the warm Caribbean sunshine!
You can join Monster Project for an 8-day complete package (2 days training, 6 days racing) for £3,500 per person, or tailor your own combination of training/racing days for £450 per person per day. Packages include Monster Project’s very own race clothing.
Don’t miss out! For more information and to book your place on Monster Project today go to:
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 52.2, Great Escape of Southampton, is available for whole boat charter with a 10-day package including a couple of practice days. Great Escape has been highly competitive at Antigua Sailing Week and other Caribbean regattas in previous years. She can race with 12 sailors and has sleeping accommodation for 9. For more information and to find out about a great last-minute deal, see: Great Escape
Antigua’s Miramar Sailing has some fantastic late deals for Antigua Sailing Week 2014. You can join skipper Tony Sayer on Augustine or skipper Johannes Schwarz on Cuba Libre. Both boats are available for the Yachting World Round Antigua Race and Antigua Sailing Week from April 24th through May 2nd.
Cuba Libre is one of the legendary Volvo Ocean 60 transatlantic race yachts. She races with a maximum crew of 18, and a minimum crew of 8 including the skipper, with accommodation on board for 12. Cuba Libre is available by individual berth forUS $1,530 or whole yacht for US $18,360.
Augustine, a Beneteau First 42, is a competitive performance racing yacht. She accommodates 6 crew overnight, and races with 10. Augustine has individual places available (inquire for price) or the whole yacht can be chartered at a great last-minute price ofUS $7,000. Visit: Miramar.
German charter company KH+P yachtcharter, a loyal supporter of Antigua Sailing Week, still has a few individual spaces available on its entered bareboats. For more information and to find out how you can join a KH+P crew see: KH+P.
So there you have it. Antigua Sailing Week may only be a few weeks away, but it’s not too late to make a last minute charter booking – whether as an individual or chartering a whole boat with a group of friends. Flights are still available from the US and UK at very reasonable prices – for example, from New York from US $650 and from London from £650. Check with your travel agent for more details on flights from your location.
This report was filed by Long Beach Yacht Club press officer Rich Roberts:
Monday’s weather: wind 4-10-3k, south; high temp. 77F.
Tuesday’s forecast: Wind 10k south; high temp. 76F.
April 7, 2014
LONG BEACH, Calif.
Perry finds his niche: match racing in the Congressional Cup
Dave Perry’s long week of sailboat racing started out with last place in the Heritage Regatta fleet race Sunday but he blasted back to first place on opening day Stage One of the 50th Congressional Cup Monday, winning four of five match races.
At age 59, he went from the youngest skipper in the fleet Sunday to the oldest Monday, so . . . he just couldn’t handle the old guys?
“That was fleet racing,” he said, smiling. “I’m not really into that anymore. It’s a different game.”
Whatever it is, Perry, who dealt runnerup Phil Robertson of New Zealand his only loss, is in strong position among the six Stage One competitors to be one of the four who will join five former Congressional Cup winners and world No. 1-ranked Taylor Canfield of the U.S. Virgin Islands in Stage Two Wednesday through Sunday.
Christopher Poole of the Seawanhaka Corinthian YC in Oyster Bay, N.Y. isn’t even out of the chase at 1-4, but he’ll have to crack a 2-3 crush among locals Scott Dickson and Dustin Durant and Australia’s Keith Swinton.
The second round of racing is scheduled to start Tuesday at 11:30 a.m., conditions permitting … and conditions barely permitted it Monday, leaving a sunny and slightly hazy day windless until 12:32 p.m., then building from 4 knots to 10 from the southwest by the third flight, then fading after the fifth flight.
Principal race officer Randy Smith called it a day just after 4 o’clock and said he saw “a lot of happy faces after we pulled the plug.”
That was okay with Perry. Although a two-time Congressional Cup winner in 1983 and 1984, he said he was thrilled to be invited back for the event’s golden anniversary, bringing longtime friend Dave Dellenbaugh and Dellenbaugh’s daughter Rebecca to serve on his five-person crew. When he won his pair of Crimson Blazers there were few foreign entries; now they dominate the game, with nine sailors in their 20s and 30s winning the last nine Congressional Cups.
“To me,” Perry said, “they’re in their primes. I wish there were more U.S. guys doing it.”
Durant, 26, is doing it quite well. Perry held him off by four seconds in Monday’s first race.
“We both had to look down the [finish] line to see who won,” Perry said.
Dickson said his problem was that “we practiced for two weeks when it was blowing unusually hard, and it wasn’t anything like that today. Like they say, it’s never like that here.”
The Stage One winner will receive the Ficker Cup, which honors 1974 Congressional Cup winner Bill Ficker, who also skippered the 1970 America’s Cup winner Intrepid.
Spectators enjoy incomparable viewing of the races from Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier. Admission is free, with paid parking at the base of the pier. Seating, free public shuttles, concessions and comfort stations are available.
Follow Congressional Cup on Facebook or Twitter for daily weather conditions and approximate start times: 11:00-11:30 a.m. Or listen to the play-by-play on VHF Channel 20.
The Congressional Cup has been an innovator in the game of match racing, introducing on-the-water umpiring in the early 1990s, plus a high level of organization with a unique volunteer force of more than 300 LBYC members. Each competing crew is assigned a boat hostess and housing team, who deliver the outstanding local hospitality characteristic of Congressional Cup for half a century, alongside world-class yacht racing.
Long Beach Yacht Club has been one of the nation’s premiere boating institutions since its founding in 1929, located at 6201 E. Appian Way in Long Beach, Calif.
Stage One results
FLIGHT 1—Dave Perry, Pequot YC, Conn. def. Dustin Durant, LBYC, 4 seconds; Phil Robertson, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, def. Christopher Poole, Seawanhaka Corinthian YC, N.Y., 0:45; Keith Swinton, South of Perth YC N.Z., def. Scott Dickson, LBYC, 16 seconds.
FLIGHT 2—Perry d. Poole, 0:28; Durant d. Swinton, DNF; Robertson d. Dickson, 0:30.
FLIGHT 3—Swinton d. Poole, 0:31; Durant d. Dickson, 0:04; Perry d. Robertson, 0:04.
FLIGHT 4—Dickson d. Poole, 0:23; Perry d. Swinton, DNF; Robertson d. Durant, 0:25.
FLIGHT 5—Dickson d. Perry, 0:12; Poole d. Durant, 0:12; Robertson d. Swinton, 0:15.
STANDINGS (after 5 of 10 flights)—1. Perry, 4-1; 2. Robertson, 4-1; 3. Durant, Swinton and Dickson, 2-3; 6. Poole, 1-4.
Sunday’s report on the Heritage Regatta erred in noting that skippers Skip Allan of Los Angeles YC and Scott Allan of Newport Harbor YC were not related. Skip, 69, is the older brother of Scott, 67, who was 20 when he won the third Congressional Cup in 1967.
What kind of irresponsible parent would take their children cruising? That seems to be the underlying message from many corners in the wake of the Kaufman family’s rescue in the Pacific from their boat, Rebel Heart.
It’s all too easy for me to remember the questions we had from people who didn’t understand our decision to go cruising as a family. They dove to the risks, and not to the benefits, and never considered that we had considered those risks already. This was a very deliberate choice driven by family values: not crazy hubris, not selfish interests.
Not that this stops the naysayers, who loved to let us know how we were ruining our children’s education. Placing them in harm’s way. Not to mention, of course, that they would never be properly socialized.
I remember too well what it was like, that run up to cruising: it is full of voices, some from the well-intentioned but uninformed, some in your head, some from those who need to speak against your brave choices to justify their own inaction. Don’t let them intimidate you, or let one unfortunate event spun up in the media tip your dreams. Don’t let the ridiculous fabrications of the fearful leach into your psyche.
Consider the sources, and hold tight to your supporters instead. Their voices align more closely with the reality. Cruising is the fulfillment of our dream to share precious years with our children as they grow. Countless memories and experiences enrich their lives and ours. It is turning our kids into curious, articulate citizens of the world. It has given them respect for cultures and lives beyond our home sphere. It has built our bonds as a family.
No, it’s not completely without risk, but we take great care to prepare for the tough realities, and mitigate each of them to the best of our ability. And really, what life is without risk? Whether it is natural disaster, or human error, or pure bad luck- stuff happens, whether you live on a farm in Oklahoma or a boat in Mexico or a condo in San Francisco. None of us are immune, no matter how we navigate our futures.
Irresponsible? Crazy? If that’s the bucket we get tossed in, well, I’m proud to be a member of the tribe that’s chosen to raise children differently.
You know it drives us extra crazy when you read this on the Sailfeed website.
Goodness gracious. Do I feel sorry for Eric and Charlotte Kaufman! Not only have they lost their home, Rebel Heart, the Hans Christian 36 they’ve been cruising on for two years, which they had to abandon yesterday when they boarded a U.S. Navy warship about 900 miles west of Mexico, and which the Navy subsequently scuttled and sank. Not only have they had to cope with the unthinkable stress of having their 1-year-old daughter, Lyra, come down with some mysterious illness in the middle of a long Pacific passage. But now they have a good chunk of the global population lambasting them online for getting into all this trouble in the first place.
Isn’t modern technology wonderful?
No doubt you’ve heard about this on some level already. I started following the story Friday online and heard it on National Public Radio yesterday, which doesn’t happen very often with bluewater cruising news.
But let’s review what we know:
1) Eric and Charlotte left Mexico on Rebel Heart about three weeks ago with their two young daughters, Cora (3) and Lyra (1), onboard. Eric is an experienced sailor and lured Charlotte into the cruising game. They bought Rebel Heart and started planning a circumnavigation 9 years ago; left San Diego and started actively cruising Mexico 2 years ago. Lyra was born after the cruise started (you can read an exciting account of her birth here). This big passage west to French Polynesia was the family’s first major ocean crossing.
Rebel Heart in slings
Charlotte with Lyra on the inside
The whole family, with Lyra on the outside
2) Judging from the accounts of the passage posted separately on Charlotte’s blog and on Eric’s blog, they were having a challenging trip. Variable winds, too light for a while (they weren’t carrying enough fuel to motor), and also strong enough to move the boat fast, but with lots of motion. Seasickness and some minor repairs needed.
In other words, basically normal ocean-sailing conditions, but with having to mind the kids on top of it. On Charlotte’s blog, in particular, you can get a good sense of how hard this was. She does a lot of arguing back and forth with herself about whether it’s worth it or not and seems to come out on the “yes, it’s worth it” side, but only barely.
3) About a week ago something major went wrong with the boat, though we really have no idea what. Various reports mention the boat taking on water, steering problems, and a loss of communications (presumably also power), but nothing confirmed by the Kaufmans themselves. The last blog post, from Charlotte, was on April 1 and was very terse: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
At about this same time, though we don’t know which happened first, Lyra came down with a big rash and fever that did not respond to medication. She reportedly had suffered from salmonella prior to the family’s leaving Mexico, but had been cleared by a doctor to depart.
4) The Kaufmans somehow contacted the U.S. Coast Guard via satellite on Thursday (several reports refer to a satellite “ping,” but I suspect it had to be more than that) and asked for help, and that same night four California Air National Guard rescue swimmers parachuted on to the scene, boarded the boat, and stabilized the child.
5) All eight persons onboard abandoned the boat yesterday and boarded a Navy frigate, USS Vandegrift, and Rebel Heart was scuttled.
Rebel Heart from the air
USS Vandegrift underway
Evacuating Rebel Heart
On the basis of this relatively slim narrative, many non-sailing laypeople, including Charlotte’s brother, have seen fit to criticize them for recklessly endangering their children. You can peruse the comments on their Facebook page for an idea of how this has been going, or check the comments section to any relevant news story.
The sailing community, I am pleased to say, has countered all this criticism with nearly unanimous support.
Ironically, I must note, when I had my little rescue adventure in January with Hank Schmitt and the owners of Be Good Too, this worked exactly the opposite way: laypeople supported us and the sailing community mostly criticized us.
Moral of that story: if you have to abandon a boat and want other sailors to sympathize with you, take some children along.
I actually had been following the Kaufmans via their website for a while, as Pat Schulte, former SAILfeed blogger of Bumfuzzle fame, had tipped me off to them. He and his family encountered them while they were knocking around Mexico on their boat. (Now they are boatless, cruising on the hard in their antique motorhome.)
So I kind of feel I know these guys, and my heart goes out to them. Having to cope with a major illness or injury has always been one of my biggest fears when sailing offshore. Having it be a sick child only makes it a hundred times scarier. As for the boat, I won’t be too surprised if it turns out it was uninsured, which would be a huge bummer. But I’m very glad Lyra and the rest of the family are OK.
Plus, of course, I’m dying to know what actually went wrong with the boat. Also: why so many rescue swimmers? Hopefully we’ll get answers later this week when the Vandegrift makes port in San Diego.