Sail Feed

Syndicate content
Brought to you by Sail Magazine
Updated: 32 min 7 sec ago

The “Match” is Back

Wed, 2014-06-04 12:03

By Kimball Livingston Posted June 4, 2014

It’s far from the most important feature of the newly-released Protocol for America’s Cup 35, but it just jumps out. The word, match.

After a long, belabored attempt to get people to speak of the 2013 match as the “America’s Cup Finals,” this time out, the powers that be have let the verbiage slip back to tradition. As in what it is, a match. A match between two boats following whatever runup, trials, eliminations are required to get there. And no, barring an intergalactic spasm, there will be no Louis Vuitton Cup awarded to the winner of the 2017 challenger selection. Vuitton had a thirty-year run and put its stamp on the history of Cup competition, but the days are long gone when breathing the air at the America’s Cup was a salty equivalent to hanging near the Queen’s box at Ascot.

What we have in the 78-page document revealed on Tuesday is a reminder of what we knew already, that it is a tortuous process to tie the America’s Cup match to a world tour. Doubly tortuous to imagineer a tour that might generate revenue and somehow be relevant to The Match. It’s a made marriage, and you will love each other.

Even at a quick march through the read, it comes clear why the negotiations between Defender and Challenger of Record ran so long that we are only now seeing this document. There’s a devil in every detail. And, oh yes, the guy in charge of the Challenger side for Australia’s Hamilton Island Yacht Club is Iain Murray, whose long record of success on the race course and in related business was most recently seen in his service as CEO of America’s Cup Race Management for AC34. Does Iain Murray know where the bones are buried? Does rhetorical question carry an extra “h?”

Here’s one devilish detail by way of example: There will be racing in 2015 and 2016 in the familiar one-design AC45s, then racing in 2017 in new 62-foot foiling catamarans—the generalities were leaked months ago—and the AC62s will sail a Qualifiers series leading to a Final Four Playoffs to decide who actually becomes the Challenger for America’s Cup 35. If the winner of the Qualifiers becomes the Challenger (having, obviously, then won the Playoffs) that boat enters the first-to-seven America’s Cup match with one point in its pocket.

Only the final-four eliminations (the “Playoffs”) are guaranteed to be held in the venue of the Match. And where is that, you ask? We are assured of an answer by December 31, 2014.

I repeat, December 31, 2014.

What I can tell you about that, not that I “know” a danged thing, is that San Francisco Bay is the likely place, because it is the right place, and if the Golden Gate Yacht Club as Defender, and Oracle Racing as the home town team, were not trying to make it happen on San Francisco Bay, they could already have a deal elsewhere. I’m betting on the waters where Jimmy Spithill recently won a six-mile standup paddleboard event hosted by one of Larry Ellison’s two (that I know of) San Francisco yacht clubs.

The Qualifiers leading to the final-four, we should note, will be put out to bid separately.

Even shortened ten feet from the boats we saw last year, a foiling AC62 catamaran—per the 2017 protocol—will be a handful for a crew of eight, reduced from eleven crew in 2013. What makes that doable, in theory, is a new prescription allowing for limited stored energy in the boats that will be raced in 2017.

That is, one of Oracle’s comeback tricks last year was that the grinders never stopped grinding on the upwind legs. The trimmer always had juice to work with in the hydraulic systems and never had to ask for “trim.” But as a vision for the future of sailing, well, that’s a bit much. And people are the biggest cost, and promises have been made about trimming costs, and there we go. A crew of eight.

Wind limits of five to twenty-five knots true. Much simpler. Much better. And the boats will be up to handling the higher wind range.

The next cycle kicks off with nonfoiling AC45s sailing, we are assured, at least six events each in 2015 and 2016. Each challenger is offered an opportunity to run an event in-country, which, obviously, becomes a financial conversation. There also are two youth events to be placed on the calendar, presumably one per year. Youth racing was popular on the last go-round, in part because “youth” is an easy sell but also because that was fleet racing, and plenty of boats on the water spells visual drama, and here we have one more chapter of the made marriage between what people want and what they get, the America’s Cup being the America’s Cup.

For all the talk about a nationality requirement, the stipulation under the protocol that 25 percent of the crew of an AC62 must be nationals of the challenging “yacht club” brings it to a total of two, which is a yawn. And the definition of yacht club continues to be stretched like taffy, and that’s what’s happening, baby.

Personally, I’d be fine without no nationality component at all, even though I get the history. The original winner, after all, was a schooner called America, and no one took the America’s Cup away until Australia II appeared on the scene 132 years later. But that was 1851, and then 1983, when nationalities were much more defined, and sources of resources were much more clear than they are now, and people simply did not move around as much. Now the organizers naturally want to encourage new countries to participate, and bring money, and two-out-of-eight is a milktoast number that is close to meaningless.

Not a wrong number, because no number could ever be right . . .

And the only parts of the boat you have to build in-country are the outer skins of the hulls.

Two more details: For the youth racing, the 18-25-year-olds must each be nationals of the country they represent, but for two years of AC45 racing, 2015 and 2016, six events or more per year, one national aboard will do. National by birth or by passport. Said World Series racing in AC45s—not modified to foil, apparently—will determine the “seeding” of the Qualifying round in AC62s, which means to me that the AC45 competition continues to be more show than go. As well it should, having no inherent connection to The Match.

Golden Gate Yacht Club as Defender and Hamilton Island Yacht Club as Challenger of Record “shall publish the AC62 Class Rule prior to the start of the Entry Period” which opens June 1 and continues through August 8. Plenty of the intent of the rule-to-come has already been leaked. A number of one-design elements to lower R&D costs, fewer restrictions on trimmable surfaces, etcetera. But, returning to our consideration of what negotiations must have been like—

The Defender gets to build two boats. Each Challenger gets to build one. But that simple language simply won’t do. It’s more like this:

Oracle Racing may build two pairs of hulls and two pairs of crossbeams, but the second pair of hulls must come from the same molds as the first pair. Any modification cannot exceed 20 percent of the surface area.

In a world where catamaran hulls have become foil-delivery devices, and we’re expecting the rule to require that all boats have fuller (safer) bow sections than Oracle carried in 2013, do we much care?

Modifications to crossbeams cannot exceed 50 percent of surface area, and all of this is tied through detailed specification to the risks of repairable versus unrepairable damage. Under clause 35.3 (b), the Defender is required to race its first pair of hulls and crossbeams unless etcetera etcetera. Challengers face similar percentage limits on surface modifications of their one pair of hulls and crossbeams.

Wing spars are limited to two, lower daggerboard sections to six (but they count only if installed). Considering the copious verbiage dedicated to defining one-piece versus two-piece daggerboards, there must be room here for mischief, and determination is specifically allocated to the Measurement Committee.

The Qualifying races in AC62s will be sailed in 2017 at a date and place still to be set, and no challenger may launch ahead of 150 days prior to race one of the Qualifiers. The Defender may not launch a second pair of hulls more than 30 days prior to race one of the Qualifiers.

The Defender may not sail two boats together until the Qualifiers are complete.

Are you with me?

The Defender will sail in the Qualifying round, according to the Protocol, and the mere thought of having the Defender mix with the Challengers in their Cup vehicles takes us back to some ugly conversations of the past. In the Qualifying round only, not later. But still. The Match may be back, but not all of the traditions associated with it. The Protocol Governing the 35th America’s Cup, dated June 2, 2014, is one helluva barrel of sausage. As we grope toward a formula for high-end sailing in the 21st century, and a public face for the sport, the adventure continues. Gosh, how I look forward to explaining it. And explaining it.

“And Tiny Tim said, ‘God bless us every one.’ ”

Which is the right way to speak. When cameras are rolling, under 47.2, there are fines for profanity. Careful, Scrooge.

Maintenance on board: how mechanical are you?

Tue, 2014-06-03 07:54

We just had a crazy stretch of boat work on Totem, and knocked several big items off our list of essentials for maintenance or repair as we anticipate next year’s Indian Ocean passages. Sometimes it was just a matter of paying a vendor. Sometimes it was work we did ourselves. Typically it was a combination, where we invested a lot of effort too: replacing the boat batteries wasn’t just a swap out. Jamie built a whole new box to store them in and decomissioned the old one. Over and over, I was grateful for his diverse skills and creative problem solving in everything from carpentry and fiberglass to fabricating the new roll pin needed with positioning a bearing on the autopilot. What else happened?

sleek stack pack, nearly invisible dodger sides

Battery bank. This was the top priority, as our existing bank was on fumes. A Malaysian supplier, Pollux, had the right batteries at the right price. It looks like we nailed not only bank size for our use, but our green power generation, and corrected Totem’s starboard list at the same time. DONE.

Engine service. With a referral to a skilled Yanmar tech, we completed major service (for 5,000 engine hours) that included cleaning and pressure testing heat exchanger, replacing fresh water pump, servicing raw water pump, replacing seals for turbo, servicing start motor, replacing the start solenoid, servicing alternator, de-greasing and cleaning, painting, and alignment. DONE.

Replaced mainsail cover.  A tidy new stack pack replaced the dead mainsail cover. Very happy with how it looks, and even happier about how easy it is to get the main down now. DONE.

Replaced soft sides on dodger. We nearly didn’t do this, since it’s costly and could have been deferred, but ended up taking an eleventh hour, lower cost approach that we love. Instead of getting Sunbrella-bordered sides with large clear windows, as we’ve had since 2007, we put in 100% clears around the front and sides of our hard dodger. It is stunning to have the full viewable range, and Totem gets a sleeker profile. DONE.

Replaced settee covers. New covers once again protect the foam beneath, and light colors are a great lift for the main cabin. Splashy pillows set it off, and the whole place feels brighter. DONE.

There’s a lot left on that list of pre-Indian Ocean essentials, since they’ll either need to wait for a specific location… or for our bank account to take the impact. Meanwhile, slowdowns on the engine service ended up causing a three week delay for getting south from Langkawi, but that’s a tradeoff we don’t mind for having great work done by quality techs who really know Yanmar engines. It also meant: more time for MORE MAINTENANCE! OK: some new stuff, too.

Some of these were standout Jamie did an incredible amount of work during our stay. The delays meant we could do more, and it’s all good. This is the short version:

- New SilentWind 420 watt wind turbine installed, with external regulator
- New 270 watt solar panel installed
- New 60 amp MPPT solar charge controller installed
- Autopilot motor and linear drive unit serviced
- Watermaker motor service: brushes replaced
- Replaced eye bolts for steering cable at quadrant, added Dyneema lashing as backup
- Removed autopilot drive mount (rusting I-beam) and fabricated new fiberglass mount
- Cleaned main diesel fuel tank and polished diesel
- Serviced Lavac toilet (there is no escaping maintenance on the head…)
- Installed three new cabin fans (costly Caframo BoraBoras failed inside 15 months)
- Serviced two winches on mast
- Installed low friction rings at leech reefs

the shop where we brought the alternator, starter, and watermaker motors for servicing

Those projects just what he did on Totem, roughly over the last month. Here’s what he did on other boats in our watery neighborhood, while we swung at anchor in Telaga Harbor:

helping remove the engine going out for an overhaul from a friend’s boat

- Rig inspections: 8
- 16:1 cascading vang installs: 2
- Fix poor mainsheet setup: 1
- Replace hardware with strop to connect mainsheet to boom: 2
- Service winches, windlasses, and autopilots: 4
- Dyneema check stays installed: 4
- Dyneema lifeline installation: 1
- Steering cable replacement: 1
- Install a complete new propane system: 1
- Solar panels installed: 4
- Pactor modem install and setup: 1
- Installed / wired wind turbine: 1
- Configured and installed charge management systems for dual alternator systems: 2
- Wires replaced or repaired ends: way too many to count!

Mechanical skills: if you want to go cruising and you don’t have them, well, hope that your partner does!

Hands-on types know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Maintenance on board: how mechanical are you?

Tue, 2014-06-03 07:54

We just had a crazy stretch of boat work on Totem, and knocked several big items off our list of essentials for maintenance or repair as we anticipate next year’s Indian Ocean passages. Sometimes it was just a matter of paying a vendor. Sometimes it was work we did ourselves. Typically it was a combination, where we invested a lot of effort too: replacing the boat batteries wasn’t just a swap out. Jamie built a whole new box to store them in and decomissioned the old one. Over and over, I was grateful for his diverse skills and creative problem solving in everything from carpentry and fiberglass to fabricating the new roll pin needed with positioning a bearing on the autopilot. What else happened?

sleek stack pack, nearly invisible dodger sides

Battery bank. This was the top priority, as our existing bank was on fumes. A Malaysian supplier, Pollux, had the right batteries at the right price. It looks like we nailed not only bank size for our use, but our green power generation, and corrected Totem’s starboard list at the same time. DONE.

Engine service. With a referral to a skilled Yanmar tech, we completed major service (for 5,000 engine hours) that included cleaning and pressure testing heat exchanger, replacing fresh water pump, servicing raw water pump, replacing seals for turbo, servicing start motor, replacing the start solenoid, servicing alternator, de-greasing and cleaning, painting, and alignment. DONE.

Replaced mainsail cover.  A tidy new stack pack replaced the dead mainsail cover. Very happy with how it looks, and even happier about how easy it is to get the main down now. DONE.

Replaced soft sides on dodger. We nearly didn’t do this, since it’s costly and could have been deferred, but ended up taking an eleventh hour, lower cost approach that we love. Instead of getting Sunbrella-bordered sides with large clear windows, as we’ve had since 2007, we put in 100% clears around the front and sides of our hard dodger. It is stunning to have the full viewable range, and Totem gets a sleeker profile. DONE.

Replaced settee covers. New covers once again protect the foam beneath, and light colors are a great lift for the main cabin. Splashy pillows set it off, and the whole place feels brighter. DONE.

There’s a lot left on that list of pre-Indian Ocean essentials, since they’ll either need to wait for a specific location… or for our bank account to take the impact. Meanwhile, slowdowns on the engine service ended up causing a three week delay for getting south from Langkawi, but that’s a tradeoff we don’t mind for having great work done by quality techs who really know Yanmar engines. It also meant: more time for MORE MAINTENANCE! OK: some new stuff, too.

Some of these were standout Jamie did an incredible amount of work during our stay. The delays meant we could do more, and it’s all good. This is the short version:

- New SilentWind 420 watt wind turbine installed, with external regulator
- New 270 watt solar panel installed
- New 60 amp MPPT solar charge controller installed
- Autopilot motor and linear drive unit serviced
- Watermaker motor service: brushes replaced
- Replaced eye bolts for steering cable at quadrant, added Dyneema lashing as backup
- Removed autopilot drive mount (rusting I-beam) and fabricated new fiberglass mount
- Cleaned main diesel fuel tank and polished diesel
- Serviced Lavac toilet (there is no escaping maintenance on the head…)
- Installed three new cabin fans (costly Caframo BoraBoras failed inside 15 months)
- Serviced two winches on mast
- Installed low friction rings at leech reefs

the shop where we brought the alternator, starter, and watermaker motors for servicing

Those projects just what he did on Totem, roughly over the last month. Here’s what he did on other boats in our watery neighborhood, while we swung at anchor in Telaga Harbor:

helping remove the engine going out for an overhaul from a friend’s boat

- Rig inspections: 8
- 16:1 cascading vang installs: 2
- Fix poor mainsheet setup: 1
- Replace hardware with strop to connect mainsheet to boom: 2
- Service winches, windlasses, and autopilots: 4
- Dyneema check stays installed: 4
- Dyneema lifeline installation: 1
- Steering cable replacement: 1
- Install a complete new propane system: 1
- Solar panels installed: 4
- Pactor modem install and setup: 1
- Installed / wired wind turbine: 1
- Configured and installed charge management systems for dual alternator systems: 2
- Wires replaced or repaired ends: way too many to count!

Mechanical skills: if you want to go cruising and you don’t have them, well, hope that your partner does!

Hands-on types know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Stitches, Burns and Breaks: The Injury Hall of Fame

Mon, 2014-06-02 19:12
Here I am again, that old good-for-nothing bird, runaway Mayzie – still on vacation and still just as lazy.* Today, let’s review some of the better injuries we’ve had aboard. I have even included a bonus, hitherto-unreported injury for those of you willing to make it to the end. (But be warned: this post contains mildly yucky photos, so if you don’t like blood, you’d best skip along.)

Injury 1: Amy’s broken finger.  Originally appeared in Question and Answer Time, November 15, 2010.
Q:  What is worse than having to do the dishes by hand three times a day?
A.  Having to do the dishes by hand three times a day with a finger you can’t get wet.

It was a sunny morning.  We’d gotten the anchor up with minimal annoyance (read: mud), and I was clearing up the deck and feeling rather good about life in general and this trip in particular.  I opened the port deck box to put away a hose.

Wham!

The spring holding the lid buckled.  Down came the lid onto my right index finger.  It hurt so much I didn’t make a sound; I just crumpled onto the deck.  And just how bad did it look?  Well, let me show you.

And that was back when it looked good.  The nail is lifting off now, and the tip remains swollen enough a week later that I’m pretty sure I broke it.

Lucky for me, I married A Man of Many Talents.  Behold, Erik’s excellent bandaging job:

Copper fuel line: it’s not just for diesel anymore. Combining skills learned from instructor Doug at St John Ambulance and helping his dad bandage up declawed cats, Erik made me this lovely splint/bandage ensemble.  If the girls would only stop smashing into it, it might actually heal this calendar year.

Update: June 2014
Yes, I managed to break a finger one month into our cruising adventure. Way to go, Amy! For a couple of years afterwards, I could feel the scar tissue when I pressed on the pad of that finger – it felt like ball bearings under my skin.  I still have a thin white scar under my nail to remind me of the experience.  I remain cautious of the deck boxes to this day.

Injury 2: Stylish’s chin.  Originally appeared in State of the Children (December 8, 2011),and So Much Fun, We Had To Do It Again! (December 13, 2011)
When I was young, I was Wonder Woman.  I don’t mean, “I liked Wonder Woman,” or “I often pretended I was Wonder Woman.”  I mean I was, every minute of every day, Amazon princess and warrior Wonder Woman.  I would only respond to the name Diana Prince (which drove my sister wild).  I wore my costume year-round, contributing, I’m told, to a severe case of laryngitis one cold January. ( I suspect no one really minded.)  And while I don’t often have a reason to don my golden bracelets of power these days, Wonder Woman I remain. The resemblance is uncanny. My progeny have inherited my superheroism.  Indy is a souped-up version of Lightning McQueen, a flying racecar ready to beat the pudding out of any bad guys that cross her path.  That is, of course, when she isn’t being a  bad guy herself.  Indy often chooses the role of The Bad Witch or similar, and is content to terrorize whatever playfellows she has at the time.  (I approve; villains are often the more interesting characters.  I had far greater sympathy for Darth Vader than Luke Skywalker, and it was many a long year before I could watch Return of the Jedi without crying when Vader became one with the force.) But imagine my pride when, as I was sitting on the foredeck two days ago, I saw Stylish take a flying leap to dive over the boom to escape her sister.  It was a Wonder Woman move if ever I saw one. Don’t be distracted by my excellent art – it was really quite a dramatic leap. My pride turned to concern when Stylish started rolling around on deck, gasping out tears and bleeding copiously. Landing is less fun than flying. Young Stylish had a gaping wound in her chin.  Erik bundled her off to the hospital and, four stitches, a misaligned first cervical vertebra and a prescription for antibiotics later, she was back.  Somewhat chastened, certainly willing to vow never to leap over the boom again.  Some superhero antics are better left untried. Tired and injured, but still smiling. Stylish’s Schedule: Monday:  Jump over the boom and knock chin.  Visit local hospital and get four stitches. Tuesday:  Run a high fever from the virus that is going around.  Show no signs of brain injury.  Nonetheless stress mom out. Wednesday:  Fever gone.  Get head and neck checked by fellow cruiser expert in head injuries.  Adjust first cervical vertebra.  Continue to take antibiotics. Thursday:  Go back for second neck check.  Antibiotics. Friday:  Antibiotics. Saturday:  Finish antibiotics.  Dad removes stitches at the end of the day.  Wound looks great. Sunday:  Visit local friends.  Roughhouse with older girls.  Knock chin and start to bleed copiously under bandage.  Have Mom and Dad check.  Yes, the wound is fully reopened.  Return to local hospital for four more stitches. Chin injury, mark II Update: June 2014
Stylish has a small scar on her chin to mark the excitement.  She is rather proud of it, and shows it off whenever she can.  It may not be as exciting as her sealion bite, but it still rates.

Injury #3: Indy’s Eyebrow; June 2012. (100% new content!)
We’ve been to a lot of amazing places on our trip, but, I have to admit, the Galapagos were special.  I try to get too excited in advance about our destinations – unreasonable expectations and all that – but we were all excited about the Galapagos, and it lived up to our dreams.

But before we could get there, we had to, well, get there.  We spent a few days in the Las Perlas south of Panama, initially to visit the pretty islands, and later because I gave myself a very bad burn while making pasta. (Tip: always, always, always use a waterproof apron when dealing with hot liquids aboard.  Always.) So the anticipation had time to build.

Once I was sufficiently healed, it was time to head out to my favourite place: the seasickness place.  Four guaranteed days of feeling like someone was scraping holes through my skull with a spork in seventeen different places.  And this time, I would have the bonus of a 8″x3″ tender spot across my abdomen.  (To give you an idea of how bad it was, I used gel burn pads for weeks, and it took more than a month just to close up.)

Off we sailed. A couple of days in, just as the sun set, Indy was doing what Indy does best: tiggering. She was leaping around the cockpit like a mountain goat, like she had a thousand times before, while Erik and I asked her to stop, like we had a thousand times before. Then Papillon shifted one way while she jumped another way, and bang! Indy had whacked her eyebrow against the cockpit combing, and there was blood everywhere. The briefest survey showed that she needed at least three stitches.

The troops sprang into action: Erik gathered the suturing supplies, Stylish disappeared to find a book.  And I held Indy, whispering to her softly, and trying to keep her calm, while at the same time trying to keep from losing my dinner.  Blood doesn’t bother me; I’ve seen a lot in my day, although that was mostly in eppendorf tubes as opposed to fountaining out of my child’s scalp.  And there is something comfortingly familiar about that sharp, iron smell that always takes me back to working in the lab on a too-hot summer’s day. But being coated in blood and facing the prospect of helping Erik stitch Indy up didn’t do my seasickness any good, and I was whispering to keep myself together as much as to reassure her.

As night fell, we patched Indy up, while keeping as best a watch as we could.  Erik stitched, I assisted and held the patient, and Stylish read to us from Junie B Jones.  It was our biggest medical crisis aboard – an injury days from land – but we made it through. It was a family effort.
Does it look bad? Nah, I’m fine.


Indy now has a scar curving down from her eyebrow.  Like Stylish, it doesn’t bother her a bit.  And she’ll happily tell the story of when Daddy stitched her up at sea.

We made it to the Galapagos a few days later.  Sure, two of us were on antibiotics and had injuries to mind, but what is that in the face of swimming with giant, unafraid sea turtles?  Priorities, people.  Priorities.

*Oh, please.  Like you didn’t recognise Horton Hatches the Egg.

Stitches, Burns and Breaks: The Injury Hall of Fame

Mon, 2014-06-02 19:12
Here I am again, that old good-for-nothing bird, runaway Mayzie – still on vacation and still just as lazy.* Today, let’s review some of the better injuries we’ve had aboard. I have even included a bonus, hitherto-unreported injury for those of you willing to make it to the end. (But be warned: this post contains mildly yucky photos, so if you don’t like blood, you’d best skip along.)

Injury 1: Amy’s broken finger.  Originally appeared in Question and Answer Time, November 15, 2010.
Q:  What is worse than having to do the dishes by hand three times a day?
A.  Having to do the dishes by hand three times a day with a finger you can’t get wet.

It was a sunny morning.  We’d gotten the anchor up with minimal annoyance (read: mud), and I was clearing up the deck and feeling rather good about life in general and this trip in particular.  I opened the port deck box to put away a hose.

Wham!

The spring holding the lid buckled.  Down came the lid onto my right index finger.  It hurt so much I didn’t make a sound; I just crumpled onto the deck.  And just how bad did it look?  Well, let me show you.

And that was back when it looked good.  The nail is lifting off now, and the tip remains swollen enough a week later that I’m pretty sure I broke it.

Lucky for me, I married A Man of Many Talents.  Behold, Erik’s excellent bandaging job:

Copper fuel line: it’s not just for diesel anymore. Combining skills learned from instructor Doug at St John Ambulance and helping his dad bandage up declawed cats, Erik made me this lovely splint/bandage ensemble.  If the girls would only stop smashing into it, it might actually heal this calendar year.

Update: June 2014
Yes, I managed to break a finger one month into our cruising adventure. Way to go, Amy! For a couple of years afterwards, I could feel the scar tissue when I pressed on the pad of that finger – it felt like ball bearings under my skin.  I still have a thin white scar under my nail to remind me of the experience.  I remain cautious of the deck boxes to this day.

Injury 2: Stylish’s chin.  Originally appeared in State of the Children (December 8, 2011),and So Much Fun, We Had To Do It Again! (December 13, 2011)
When I was young, I was Wonder Woman.  I don’t mean, “I liked Wonder Woman,” or “I often pretended I was Wonder Woman.”  I mean I was, every minute of every day, Amazon princess and warrior Wonder Woman.  I would only respond to the name Diana Prince (which drove my sister wild).  I wore my costume year-round, contributing, I’m told, to a severe case of laryngitis one cold January. ( I suspect no one really minded.)  And while I don’t often have a reason to don my golden bracelets of power these days, Wonder Woman I remain. The resemblance is uncanny. My progeny have inherited my superheroism.  Indy is a souped-up version of Lightning McQueen, a flying racecar ready to beat the pudding out of any bad guys that cross her path.  That is, of course, when she isn’t being a  bad guy herself.  Indy often chooses the role of The Bad Witch or similar, and is content to terrorize whatever playfellows she has at the time.  (I approve; villains are often the more interesting characters.  I had far greater sympathy for Darth Vader than Luke Skywalker, and it was many a long year before I could watch Return of the Jedi without crying when Vader became one with the force.) But imagine my pride when, as I was sitting on the foredeck two days ago, I saw Stylish take a flying leap to dive over the boom to escape her sister.  It was a Wonder Woman move if ever I saw one. Don’t be distracted by my excellent art – it was really quite a dramatic leap. My pride turned to concern when Stylish started rolling around on deck, gasping out tears and bleeding copiously. Landing is less fun than flying. Young Stylish had a gaping wound in her chin.  Erik bundled her off to the hospital and, four stitches, a misaligned first cervical vertebra and a prescription for antibiotics later, she was back.  Somewhat chastened, certainly willing to vow never to leap over the boom again.  Some superhero antics are better left untried. Tired and injured, but still smiling. Stylish’s Schedule: Monday:  Jump over the boom and knock chin.  Visit local hospital and get four stitches. Tuesday:  Run a high fever from the virus that is going around.  Show no signs of brain injury.  Nonetheless stress mom out. Wednesday:  Fever gone.  Get head and neck checked by fellow cruiser expert in head injuries.  Adjust first cervical vertebra.  Continue to take antibiotics. Thursday:  Go back for second neck check.  Antibiotics. Friday:  Antibiotics. Saturday:  Finish antibiotics.  Dad removes stitches at the end of the day.  Wound looks great. Sunday:  Visit local friends.  Roughhouse with older girls.  Knock chin and start to bleed copiously under bandage.  Have Mom and Dad check.  Yes, the wound is fully reopened.  Return to local hospital for four more stitches. Chin injury, mark II Update: June 2014
Stylish has a small scar on her chin to mark the excitement.  She is rather proud of it, and shows it off whenever she can.  It may not be as exciting as her sealion bite, but it still rates.

Injury #3: Indy’s Eyebrow; June 2012. (100% new content!)
We’ve been to a lot of amazing places on our trip, but, I have to admit, the Galapagos were special.  I try to get too excited in advance about our destinations – unreasonable expectations and all that – but we were all excited about the Galapagos, and it lived up to our dreams.

But before we could get there, we had to, well, get there.  We spent a few days in the Las Perlas south of Panama, initially to visit the pretty islands, and later because I gave myself a very bad burn while making pasta. (Tip: always, always, always use a waterproof apron when dealing with hot liquids aboard.  Always.) So the anticipation had time to build.

Once I was sufficiently healed, it was time to head out to my favourite place: the seasickness place.  Four guaranteed days of feeling like someone was scraping holes through my skull with a spork in seventeen different places.  And this time, I would have the bonus of a 8″x3″ tender spot across my abdomen.  (To give you an idea of how bad it was, I used gel burn pads for weeks, and it took more than a month just to close up.)

Off we sailed. A couple of days in, just as the sun set, Indy was doing what Indy does best: tiggering. She was leaping around the cockpit like a mountain goat, like she had a thousand times before, while Erik and I asked her to stop, like we had a thousand times before. Then Papillon shifted one way while she jumped another way, and bang! Indy had whacked her eyebrow against the cockpit combing, and there was blood everywhere. The briefest survey showed that she needed at least three stitches.

The troops sprang into action: Erik gathered the suturing supplies, Stylish disappeared to find a book.  And I held Indy, whispering to her softly, and trying to keep her calm, while at the same time trying to keep from losing my dinner.  Blood doesn’t bother me; I’ve seen a lot in my day, although that was mostly in eppendorf tubes as opposed to fountaining out of my child’s scalp.  And there is something comfortingly familiar about that sharp, iron smell that always takes me back to working in the lab on a too-hot summer’s day. But being coated in blood and facing the prospect of helping Erik stitch Indy up didn’t do my seasickness any good, and I was whispering to keep myself together as much as to reassure her.

As night fell, we patched Indy up, while keeping as best a watch as we could.  Erik stitched, I assisted and held the patient, and Stylish read to us from Junie B Jones.  It was our biggest medical crisis aboard – an injury days from land – but we made it through. It was a family effort.
Does it look bad? Nah, I’m fine.


Indy now has a scar curving down from her eyebrow.  Like Stylish, it doesn’t bother her a bit.  And she’ll happily tell the story of when Daddy stitched her up at sea.

We made it to the Galapagos a few days later.  Sure, two of us were on antibiotics and had injuries to mind, but what is that in the face of swimming with giant, unafraid sea turtles?  Priorities, people.  Priorities.

*Oh, please.  Like you didn’t recognise Horton Hatches the Egg.

CRASH TEST BOAT: Eight Simulated Emergencies All in One Book!

Mon, 2014-06-02 10:15

Those of you who don’t follow the British sailing comics may have missed the Crash Test Boat series of articles that ran in Yachting Monthly a few years back. It was a brilliant premise, cooked up by then-editor Paul Gelder: lay hands on an average plain-vanilla cruising boat and test it to death, carefully documenting everything that does and does not work when coping with various simulated emergencies. Over a period of eight months, YM systematically “tested to destruction” a 1982 Jeanneau Sun Fizz ketch and created an extremely useful series of articles and videos. All that material is now available in one book, appropriately titled The Crash Test Boat, published by Adlard Coles.

In all the book covers eight carefully crafted simulations: running aground, capsizing, a dismasting, creating a jury rig, sinking (hull breach), major leaks (failed seacock or through-hull fitting), fire onboard, and a propane explosion. The last, inevitably, wasn’t really a simulation. They actually did blow up the boat (see photo up top), sort of like blowing out the candles on a birthday cake, as a magnificent denouement to Paul’s career as a yachting journalist and editor.

It’s impossible to summarize all the useful information in this book, so you really do have to buy it. The lay-out is very succinct and user-friendly, with lots of useful photos and well thought out conclusions and recommendations on how to prepare for and cope with each emergency situation. There are even QR codes prominently displayed for each chapter, so you can quickly access the relevant videos online.

My advice would be to read the book closely, study the videos, make your own conclusions about what information is useful to you, equip your boat accordingly, then keep your copy of the book onboard your boat.

The dismasting. The book includes detailed tests and recommendations on what tools work best to clear the rig

Fire onboard! Find out what extinguishers work best for what sort of fires

High and dry. Tips on how to get off again and how to survive the ordeal if you don’t

Rolled in a capsize. There are very simple things you can do to minimize the damage

Paul Gelder admires the aftermath of the propane explosion

The section on major leaks give a good sense of how creative the YM team was in testing different solutions to different problems. In addition to trying to stem the leaks they created with various commercial products–the proverbial soft wood plugs we all wire to our through-hulls, Forespar’s Truplug synthetic bung, etc.–they also tried potatoes and carrots, which worked pretty darned well.

Each section also contains “real-life story” anecdotal accounts of actual emergencies and how they were resolved, so you can compare simulated experience to the real thing.

The Crash Test Boat (2013, Adlard Coles Nautical); Forward by Mike Golding; Edited by Paul Gelder; 176 pp.

ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE: Loyal WaveTrain riders hopefully noticed that the site was down for a while a couple of days ago. This was because we’re in the middle of redesigning it. Hopefully the new version will get launched this week!

Inmarsat Fleet One, affordable FleetBroadband for real?

Mon, 2014-06-02 08:00

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

Boaters looking for a reliable, moderately fast satellite Internet connection for light and/or occasional use have learned to be leery of Inmarsat. When FleetBroadband came out in 2009 — particularly the FB150 model with its easily installed 13.5-inch stabilized antenna — it seemed like a reasonably affordable option for bluewater cruising. This promise was confirmed in a terriffic Panbo review series conducted by Gram Schweikert as his family sailed from Maine to New Zealand with both KVH FB150 and Iridium OpenPort antennas mounted on the spreaders. Note the fairly friendly FB rate sheet published in Gram’s installation entry and how (with very careful data use) he found the FB150 quite useful out in the Pacific at only about $100 to $150 a month in service charges. Unfortunately, the deal changed…

In 2011 Inmarsat purportedly modified the terms their service resellers could use — causing particular pain to intermittent users (and the dealer/installers who had set them up) — and in 2012 we got a clearer understanding of the company’s motivation. Inmarsat’s VSAT competitors in the data-hungry ship and megayacht market were using nearly global FB systems as a backup to cover the areas they couldn’t. Suddenly, the middle class yacht could no longer, say, prepurchase 12 months of a basic $59/mo service plan and use the total block of 60 up/download megabytes and 1,100 voice minutes however they wanted during that year. The FB150 is still available, but you don’t see them on many cruising boats.

Well, Fleet One is Inmarsat’s new attempt to “meet the particular communications needs of leisure mariners, day boaters and sport and coastal fisherman,” and the Sailor Fleet One hardware pictured at the top of the entry looks remarkably similar to the Sailor 150 FleetBroadband System. In fact, it may well be the exact same hardware, but with software that only enables one voice connection at a time and that limits data speeds to 100 kbps — versus FB150′s “up to” 150 kbps. The major difference, though, is that Fleet One’s attractive rates only apply within the coastal regions shown in green above…

The green (or lavendar) regions are actually quite substantial. It looks, for instance, like a yacht could cruise throughout the Carribean and then passage to New England via Bermuda without ever crossing the line where Fleet One prepaid data rates take a huge leap from $5 to $40 a megabyte. With “In Region” voice calls at 68 cents a minute, Fleet One could be just the right service level above a sat phone (or maybe the new Iridium GO!). You’re not going to surf around the Web like you do when you’re on land-based WiFi or cellular connections, but carefully managed Internet use should be easy and fairly quick. Cruisers will also appreciate the fact that $50/30 day prepaid vouchers are good for a year and that unused time can roll over onto another voucher if it’s activated before the first one’s 30 days is up. Plus, an activated SIM card can go unused for 8 months before another $100 activation fee is needed. And note that the same hypothetical coast-of-North-America yacht could pick up the same Region rate in the Med, and they still would have had easy data access while crossing the Atlantic, though at a premium rate (that will discourage use of Fleet One as a VSAT backup :-).

Installing the Fleet One BDU and ADU — the below and above decks units — looks fairly straightforward. The above manual illustration is from the Inmarsat-branded hardware, which looks very similar to the proven Skipper FB150. Accessing Fleet One Internet via the built-in browser pages, illustrated below, also looks fairly straightforward. I’d still recommend having a reputable dealer/installer involved, though, if nothing else than to serve as an advocate with Inmarsat if things turn sour. The company may want to work with leisure boaters, and this offering seems attractive, but I’m not sure they’ve learned how to treat us. For instance, I’m pretty sure that even though a Fleet One system could use its included GPS to warn a user if they’ve crossed a Region border into high rate territory, it does not. That’s why the non-partisan sat comms expert who supplied much of the info for this entry favors pre-paid usage. “It limits liability!” Soon, the Web should have more information and opinions about Fleet One. I’ll be paricularly interested in what Global Marine Networks has to say, and note that they already like the Iridium Pilot (formerly known as OpenPort for similar user profiles.

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

Enter to win a flag- just two days left!

Sun, 2014-06-01 02:39

I’m looking forward to picking a name out of the virtual hat (OK, so actually, it’s randomized event executed with a mouse click…), and going through pictures of flags. If you haven’t entered to win yet, you’ve got two days left- that’s two more chances to enter! Well, as long as you have a US or Canadian mailing address. I think the world needs more smiles in it: so please, share this with your friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How much do I love flags?

Here’s Totem, anchored in Sydney Harbour for New Years Eve a few year back, we made a string of all the courtesy flags we had on board. Our usual, 12×18″ courtesy flag was swapped for a stunner of an Aussie ensign,  a big flag that was the thoughtful parting gift from the company I worked for in Australia. many boats in the harbor had their celebratory best colors out, and it was beautiful to see. Our string of courtesy flags are a kind of “poor cruisers” version of dress flags, but we loved the memories that came with putting each one of those flags together… in the order that we visited the countries, or course.

Flags are memories of good times. Australia day, in January, we bobbed around the harbour (again teeming with boats)- flags of all sizes, but large ones in particular. Our host for the day in 2011 was the trawler Furthur, another vessel from the Salish Sea. With a boat full of Americans and a US hailing port, the natural thing to do was string up all the flags and then make a big banner of our own to get in the fun.

In Thailand, we noticed a lot of local boats flying yellow and blue flags. It seems like a strange thing to do (clearly, they didn’t need Quarantine yellow) until I realized they contained complex emblems: it turns out these are special flags celebrating the Thai king (yellow) and queen (blue). When in Rome, right?

It’s actually not quite proper etiquette to string them like this. Typically, stringing one national flag over another means the higher flag has declared war on the lower one. We went with it since that was the modus operandi on local vessels. On the other hand, it also reflected the anti-royalist tension in much of Thailand at the time…although the last thing we were aiming for was a political statement. I’m pretty sure that’s not what the fishing and tourist boats in Phuket had in mind, either.

While there are a lot of rules around flags, they’re often easily bent. Where we draw the line is where it may offend anyone- especially our host country- or where it may cause harmful misunderstanding (e.g., indicating distress when there is none). But I have to admit, when we see an obvious miss on flag etiquette, we notice. Like the boat that thought it was cute to fly their Scottish flag over the local courtesy flag. They probably have no idea that they’re being rude, but they are. We didn’t have the opportunity to tell them, but it was a chance to show our kids what not to do, and why.

Otherwise, we literally just let our flags fly. Have extras, or the materials to make them! Without flags to spare, we hand-made one to leave at Suwarrow. Check out the wealth of great flags hung up there with messages and remembrances from cruisers in years gone by.

A big thanks to Gettysburg Flag Works, who is making this giveaway possible! More information on Gettysburg, their great flags for boaters, and the story behind the giveaway in this earlier post.

Flag-flying fans know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Enter to win a flag- just two days left!

Sun, 2014-06-01 02:39

I’m looking forward to picking a name out of the virtual hat (OK, so actually, it’s randomized event executed with a mouse click…), and going through pictures of flags. If you haven’t entered to win yet, you’ve got two days left- that’s two more chances to enter! Well, as long as you have a US or Canadian mailing address. I think the world needs more smiles in it: so please, share this with your friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How much do I love flags?

Here’s Totem, anchored in Sydney Harbour for New Years Eve a few year back, we made a string of all the courtesy flags we had on board. Our usual, 12×18″ courtesy flag was swapped for a stunner of an Aussie ensign,  a big flag that was the thoughtful parting gift from the company I worked for in Australia. many boats in the harbor had their celebratory best colors out, and it was beautiful to see. Our string of courtesy flags are a kind of “poor cruisers” version of dress flags, but we loved the memories that came with putting each one of those flags together… in the order that we visited the countries, or course.

Flags are memories of good times. Australia day, in January, we bobbed around the harbour (again teeming with boats)- flags of all sizes, but large ones in particular. Our host for the day in 2011 was the trawler Furthur, another vessel from the Salish Sea. With a boat full of Americans and a US hailing port, the natural thing to do was string up all the flags and then make a big banner of our own to get in the fun.

In Thailand, we noticed a lot of local boats flying yellow and blue flags. It seems like a strange thing to do (clearly, they didn’t need Quarantine yellow) until I realized they contained complex emblems: it turns out these are special flags celebrating the Thai king (yellow) and queen (blue). When in Rome, right?

It’s actually not quite proper etiquette to string them like this. Typically, stringing one national flag over another means the higher flag has declared war on the lower one. We went with it since that was the modus operandi on local vessels. On the other hand, it also reflected the anti-royalist tension in much of Thailand at the time…although the last thing we were aiming for was a political statement. I’m pretty sure that’s not what the fishing and tourist boats in Phuket had in mind, either.

While there are a lot of rules around flags, they’re often easily bent. Where we draw the line is where it may offend anyone- especially our host country- or where it may cause harmful misunderstanding (e.g., indicating distress when there is none). But I have to admit, when we see an obvious miss on flag etiquette, we notice. Like the boat that thought it was cute to fly their Scottish flag over the local courtesy flag. They probably have no idea that they’re being rude, but they are. We didn’t have the opportunity to tell them, but it was a chance to show our kids what not to do, and why.

Otherwise, we literally just let our flags fly. Have extras, or the materials to make them! Without flags to spare, we hand-made one to leave at Suwarrow. Check out the wealth of great flags hung up there with messages and remembrances from cruisers in years gone by.

A big thanks to Gettysburg Flag Works, who is making this giveaway possible! More information on Gettysburg, their great flags for boaters, and the story behind the giveaway in this earlier post.

Flag-flying fans know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Dongfeng’s Volvo 60 goes Transatlantic

Fri, 2014-05-30 14:07

From our friends at the Volvo Ocean Race—

Newport, USA – From Rhode Island to Lorient, France, for the Chinese Sailors onboard Dongfeng this will be their biggest offshore test to date and will bring skipper Charles Caudrelier one step closer to choosing his final race crew for the Volvo Ocean Race.

After weeks of preparation and training the team finally left the dock at Newport Shipyard today at 3pm local time. The air was filled with apprehension and anticipation at what lays ahead and the final hurdle for these novice Chinese offshore sailors.

In only five months Jin Hao Chen (Horace), Jiru Yang (Wolf) and Kong Chen Cheng (Kong) have sailed over 3,500 nautical miles and have endured months of tough physical training, which has brought them to this point. Although still very much in the running for the final race team, both Ying ‘Kit’ Cheng and Liu Ming (Leo) will stay ashore for this crossing and will re-join the team upon their arrival in Lorient for the official announcement of the final race team on the 26th June.

The transatlantic crossing, a re-enactment of the 2,800 nautical mile Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race, will be undertaken in ‘race mode’ i.e. Caudrelier will be driving the Volvo Ocean 65 Dongfeng hard and his crew even harder. The test leg is estimated to take approximately eight days giving Dongfeng Race Team the opportunity to further test the boat and collect critical boat performance data. The first night is set to deliver relatively light conditions, however after 24 hours the crew are expecting to hit up to 40 knots of wind as a low pressure system sweeps in.

Though not the longest period of time the Chinese sailors will have spent offshore this will, undoubtedly, prove to be the most challenging. When asked if they’re apprehensive or scared, they just glance at one another and shake their heads – perhaps not wanting to voice their concerns on the eve of their departure and keep their resolve strong. Wolf says: “I know it’s going to be hard. I knew back at the first trials that it was going to be hard but we’ve made it this far and I’m ready.

“The only thing at the back of my mind is since we took the safety survival course a few weeks ago, it’s hit me how dangerous this race is. I always thought that if you fell in the water there was hope for survival, and maybe in flat seas and daylight but realistically the chances of survival rapidly diminish in strong winds and high seas with minimum visibility. We did a man overboard manoeuvre in Sanya in flat seas and daylight and within seconds the guy had disappeared from view. It just makes you ask yourself, before you embark on a journey like this one, are you good enough? Can you survive onboard? Will you survive onboard? But am I scared? No.”

These sailors have shown ultimate strength and displayed true determination to take part and represent China in one of the greatest offshore sailing races of all time – the Volvo Ocean Race starting from Alicante, Spain in October 2014.

More from Dongfeng Race Team:

You can follow the team’s progress on all social media channels and the team’s official website:

Official website: Dongfeng Race Team
Official Tracker: dongfengraceteam.geovoile.com/newport-lorient/2014/app/flash/

24 hours under martial law

Fri, 2014-05-30 08:10

On May 22, a military coup displaced the elected government in Thailand. They enacted martial law, put a curfew in place, dispersed protests, and quelled media. On May 24, we entered Thailand for a tourist visit.

Did we have to go? Well, Malaysian visas for the kids and I were about to expire (Jamie had a month left, because he’d flown to Singapore for rigging work in March). We had expected head south on Totem several weeks before, but ongoing delays on our engine service made it impossible. We could have applied for a ‘hardship’ extension of 30 days, or… we could go to Thailand for a short visit, and with new visas issued upon return.

Was this rash or risky, given the military junta now in Thailand? I never felt that the political situation placed us at risk. I did read up on the issues and news reports, and had insights from a friend, and found nothing to dissuade us. The media loves drama, so if this even made a blip on your news at home, you probably saw a skews perspective that played up military types in camo on the streets of Bangkok.

Our bigger risk was the active separatist rebels in south Thailand, a completely unrelated movement which has been ongoing for years, and hasn’t done anything to damage south Thai tourism. So when the choice was 1) go to the Malaysian immigration office to plead our case and hope to be granted a 30 day extension (or, have to leave immediately) OR 2) take a ferry up to Thailand, play tourist, eat good food, and come back with possibly 90 day visas- it was a pretty easy decision. The cost, incidentally, wasn’t terribly different.

It’s more fun with friends, so the kids and I teamed up with our mates from another “kid boat” in the same situation- so with seven kids and three adults, we packed ourselves off to Satun for an overnight jaunt. Here’s a photographic journey through our 24 hours.

On the ferry from Langkawi: nothing like being forced to watch movies that are totally inappropriate for kids! This one revolved around the thin threads of several love stories- interspersed with drug running and gruesome violence at the hands of the Thai mafia. At least it was in Thai, and the kids were more interested in talking to each other than reading the subtitles.

In Malaysia: we were shuttled to/fromt he ferry in an air conditioned minivan with cushy seats. In Satun: a songthaew- basically, we sit on narrow benches in the back of a covered flatbed truck. Welcome to Thailand.

After checking in to our guest house, we went in search of lunch, and passed the police station. No signs of life. Martial law? Clearly not a lot going on here.

The kids weren’t interested in revisiting temples, so they stayed behind at the guesthouse to play cards. I never get tired of visiting temples, and had plenty to choose from.

It was stinking hot, which inspired me to finally chop off my hair. Why not? The salon staff all wanted selfies with me: I went for the group shot. Good bye long hair!

Later in the afternoon, an ice cream “truck” stopped by the guest house. Irresistible.

We picked the date to make our journey based on the fact it was the weekly  night market, a.k.a. festival of amazing street food. One of my favorites: squid on a stick. It’s tossed on a grill, then dipped in a firey sauce. SO GOOD.

This little girl’s dramatic excitement while she waited for her cotton candy was absolutely irresistible.

Our crew was a little more droll but happy for their share!

The night market isn’t just food: the girls found a craft project, painting plaster animals….entertainment and a great memory for 20 baht (about 70 cents) each.

I was up at dawn the next morning to walk to the public market, just a few blocks from our guesthouse. They’re always best in the early hours. Most goods arrive by truck, but there were deliveries from boats on the adjacent river, too.

Gorgeous produce. No idea what the green thing with red seeds is called. The purple tubery things are banana ‘hearts’ a flower at the bottom of a banana stalk. Great stir fried! Those little green globes next to it? Eggplants, each about the size of a grape. And then, there are the bugs again. I’m going to pass on them this time.

So much to see in a market. I love this cat, stalking the fish vendors.

Still life with pig.

And chickens.

Breakfast came in many courses. First: a rice porridge with soft boiled egg, a little chicken, and lots of ginger and spring onions.

Of course, you have to decorate it with the sweet (sugar) – spicy (chili) – sour (chilies in vinegar) triumvirate first. YUM.

I went back later with the rest of the crew. We indulged in delicious hot roti, sweet tea, sticky rice, and big plates of pork and rice for the boys. I wasn’t sure I should splurge on the pork & rice at first, because it cost five times as much as anything else- then I remembered it was still less than $2. OK!

This vendor wouldn’t let me pay for my few spoonfuls of green curry paste. Another insisted on giving me fruit. Sights and smells near overwhelm, but it’s the kindness that overpowers everything.

When I carried my little bag of green curry paste down an aisle, a woman created the perfect bundle of vegetables and aromatics to make an excellent curry, for just pennies. Banana tree stem, turmeric root, Thai basil, ginger flower, lemongrass, lime leaves.

Her shirt proclaims “Love the King”. Thais have a reverence for the king that is both impressive and impossible for me to understand.

Other advantages of early morning walks: tailing the monks, taking their begging bowls out for daily rice.

24 hours in Thailand. The only evidence of the coup? A glum looking group of guys in camo (with some very large guns) greeting the ferry when it arrived. It was a little intimidating at first, until one of them snuck out his phone to snap photos of the gringoes. We’re good!

Happy travelers know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

24 hours under martial law

Fri, 2014-05-30 08:10

On May 22, a military coup displaced the elected government in Thailand. They enacted martial law, put a curfew in place, dispersed protests, and quelled media. On May 24, we entered Thailand for a tourist visit.

Did we have to go? Well, Malaysian visas for the kids and I were about to expire (Jamie had a month left, because he’d flown to Singapore for rigging work in March). We had expected head south on Totem several weeks before, but ongoing delays on our engine service made it impossible. We could have applied for a ‘hardship’ extension of 30 days, or… we could go to Thailand for a short visit, and with new visas issued upon return.

Was this rash or risky, given the military junta now in Thailand? I never felt that the political situation placed us at risk. I did read up on the issues and news reports, and had insights from a friend, and found nothing to dissuade us. The media loves drama, so if this even made a blip on your news at home, you probably saw a skews perspective that played up military types in camo on the streets of Bangkok.

Our bigger risk was the active separatist rebels in south Thailand, a completely unrelated movement which has been ongoing for years, and hasn’t done anything to damage south Thai tourism. So when the choice was 1) go to the Malaysian immigration office to plead our case and hope to be granted a 30 day extension (or, have to leave immediately) OR 2) take a ferry up to Thailand, play tourist, eat good food, and come back with possibly 90 day visas- it was a pretty easy decision. The cost, incidentally, wasn’t terribly different.

It’s more fun with friends, so the kids and I teamed up with our mates from another “kid boat” in the same situation- so with seven kids and three adults, we packed ourselves off to Satun for an overnight jaunt. Here’s a photographic journey through our 24 hours.

On the ferry from Langkawi: nothing like being forced to watch movies that are totally inappropriate for kids! This one revolved around the thin threads of several love stories- interspersed with drug running and gruesome violence at the hands of the Thai mafia. At least it was in Thai, and the kids were more interested in talking to each other than reading the subtitles.

In Malaysia: we were shuttled to/fromt he ferry in an air conditioned minivan with cushy seats. In Satun: a songthaew- basically, we sit on narrow benches in the back of a covered flatbed truck. Welcome to Thailand.

After checking in to our guest house, we went in search of lunch, and passed the police station. No signs of life. Martial law? Clearly not a lot going on here.

The kids weren’t interested in revisiting temples, so they stayed behind at the guesthouse to play cards. I never get tired of visiting temples, and had plenty to choose from.

It was stinking hot, which inspired me to finally chop off my hair. Why not? The salon staff all wanted selfies with me: I went for the group shot. Good bye long hair!

Later in the afternoon, an ice cream “truck” stopped by the guest house. Irresistible.

We picked the date to make our journey based on the fact it was the weekly  night market, a.k.a. festival of amazing street food. One of my favorites: squid on a stick. It’s tossed on a grill, then dipped in a firey sauce. SO GOOD.

This little girl’s dramatic excitement while she waited for her cotton candy was absolutely irresistible.

Our crew was a little more droll but happy for their share!

The night market isn’t just food: the girls found a craft project, painting plaster animals….entertainment and a great memory for 20 baht (about 70 cents) each.

I was up at dawn the next morning to walk to the public market, just a few blocks from our guesthouse. They’re always best in the early hours. Most goods arrive by truck, but there were deliveries from boats on the adjacent river, too.

Gorgeous produce. No idea what the green thing with red seeds is called. The purple tubery things are banana ‘hearts’ a flower at the bottom of a banana stalk. Great stir fried! Those little green globes next to it? Eggplants, each about the size of a grape. And then, there are the bugs again. I’m going to pass on them this time.

So much to see in a market. I love this cat, stalking the fish vendors.

Still life with pig.

And chickens.

Breakfast came in many courses. First: a rice porridge with soft boiled egg, a little chicken, and lots of ginger and spring onions.

Of course, you have to decorate it with the sweet (sugar) – spicy (chili) – sour (chilies in vinegar) triumvirate first. YUM.

I went back later with the rest of the crew. We indulged in delicious hot roti, sweet tea, sticky rice, and big plates of pork and rice for the boys. I wasn’t sure I should splurge on the pork & rice at first, because it cost five times as much as anything else- then I remembered it was still less than $2. OK!

This vendor wouldn’t let me pay for my few spoonfuls of green curry paste. Another insisted on giving me fruit. Sights and smells near overwhelm, but it’s the kindness that overpowers everything.

When I carried my little bag of green curry paste down an aisle, a woman created the perfect bundle of vegetables and aromatics to make an excellent curry, for just pennies. Banana tree stem, turmeric root, Thai basil, ginger flower, lemongrass, lime leaves.

Her shirt proclaims “Love the King”. Thais have a reverence for the king that is both impressive and impossible for me to understand.

Other advantages of early morning walks: tailing the monks, taking their begging bowls out for daily rice.

24 hours in Thailand. The only evidence of the coup? A glum looking group of guys in camo (with some very large guns) greeting the ferry when it arrived. It was a little intimidating at first, until one of them snuck out his phone to snap photos of the gringoes. We’re good!

Happy travelers know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Navionics Boating app, now with free U.S. charts!

Thu, 2014-05-29 15:52

Written by Ben Ellison on May 29, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

This is a significant surprise. Version 7.0 of the free Navionics Boating app released today for iPad and iPhone includes the ability to download and use NOAA vector charts, as seen above. Meanwhile, if you already own a Navionics Marine app for iOS, there’s a 7.0 update available which adds “Gov Charts” and the same feature will soon come to Android versions of both the Boating and Marine apps. Navigators who already use Navionics charts on a tablet or phone may find it useful to have NOAA data for comparison, but the big news is that any U.S. boater can now enjoy a Navionics level charting app completely free…

Before getting further into what Navionics is up to, you too may want to know what the difference is between Navionics Boating and Marine apps. The short answer is, “Not much!” I just downloaded Navionics Boating to my iPad mini this morning, and it’s virtually indistinguishable from the Navionics US HD app that was already there. If you download the Boating app and then buy the Navionics US charts for $50, they would be exactly the same. In other words, the Boating app means that Navionics is moving from selling eight apps with a specific chart region included to selling chart regions within a single app. The Navionics Boating page explains this fairly well, and owners of a Marine app bought since 2010 will appreciate the “will continue to receive updates and support” promise.

So here’s my Marine US HD app now upgraded to 7.0 so I can view NOAA data if I want. While it’s not surprising that the Navionics charts have a lot more features available — like satellite photo overlay, Community Edits, excellent tide forecasting, and more — a little further down I’ll illustrate some of the many Boating app features that come free.

First, I want to note that both 7.0 apps include a newly revised Plotter Sync feature that I’m quite excited about, and that may also explain why Navionics is now giving away a perfectly usable charting app. As explained at the Miami Boat Show, Raymarine and Navionics are stepping up their app/MFD integration with a sync that will not only share routes and tracks, but will also use the app and mobile device as a way station between Navionics servers and Ray MFDs. Fresh charts and Community Edits will go to the boat and if you’re willing, automatically collected soundings will go to Navionics. In other words, boaters using free Navionics Boating will conceivably help collect data that might eventually induce themselves and others to purchase Navionics charts and the added Freshest Data option that includes SonarCharts. It’s a clever scheme indeed, and the demos I saw suggested that what sounds like a complex synchronization will be super simple for the user.

Here are some Navionics Boating app features that work even with free NOAA charts. Data like nav aid specifications is easy to access and read, the “Magazine & Guides” library includes NOAA Pilot information, and at least wind and Sun/Moon data is available worldwide. I also think that basic route making works pretty well, though I’ve become fond of the $5 Advanced Routing module that came out a while back. No company has been working on charting apps longer than Navionics and it shows, even in the free version.

So, why was I looking up the weather in Portsmouth, England? I’m pleased to report that I’ll be visiting the Raymarine R&D center there next week. You can see in the screens below that even when using the free “Govt” charts in Navionics Boating, there’s still a somewhat useful base map available elsewhere. When I tried switching to Navionics charts, I was, of course, offered the opportunity to buy them, but could also get at Menu/Map Options to turn on the photo overlay. I’ve only messed with the new 7.0 app briefly; what goodies or issues can you find?

PS 5/31: Sonar log uploading is working for me, and it’s easy as pie. When I got onto the a77′s WiFi yesterday and opened Navionics Marine US HD, I was greeted with the message below. The app even walked me through where to find the button to enable sonar logging on the Ray MFD (running LightHouse II v10.34). When I did the same thing today, the app uploaded and processed the sonar logs it saw on the a77 to my iPad mini and when I got home it sent them off to Navionics with the promise that the resulting SonarCharts will be available in about a week. Apparently the sonar logs are automatically saved to the whatever card is in the MFD and can also be uploaded to Navionics via the Chart Installer you can download from their site. So you don’t need the app to contribute sonar data. But you do need either a Navionics+ card or the Freshest Data app option to see SonarCharts.

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

Little Freda, Mighty Kelpie: Back from the Edge

Thu, 2014-05-29 11:34

By Kimball Livingston Posted May 29, 2014

Many a 21st century boatman who would never own a woodie will nevertheless spend hours admiring their beauty. I was a younger man when I wrote, “A wooden boat has an aura, and perhaps a soul, that cannot be created on the production line.” I stand by that. And so it is a pleasure to see the renewals, right now, of two great wooden sailing yachts, one from the 19th century, one from the 20th.

FREDA

She re-launches Saturday without a rig, but Freda will be back

Built on the shores of San Francisco Bay in 1885, Freda is 32 feet long and the oldest active sailing yacht on the West Coast. Or she will be. Active, that is, once she is again rigged and ready. For the moment, we’re talking re-launch.

Freda’s story is many stories, and her restorations have been many, to match. Late in the 1800s, she was central to the life of the Corinthian Yacht Club, Belvedere, to the point that the club called its newsletter The Daily Freda. This latest restoration has been eight years in the making, so far, prompted by a sinking at a dock.

If you’re with me, you understand already that letting the old girl go was unthinkable. The foundation arm of SF Bay’s Master Mariners Benevolent Association paid $10,000 for the derelict—in 2004 dollars, a price that, yes, included late berthing fees—and donated her to the newly-formed Spaulding Center, based in the living museum that had once been the boatworks of the late, great Myron Spaulding. In partnership with the Arques School of Traditional Boatbuilding, work began on the most detailed renovation imaginable, began with a piece-by-piece dismantling and a chronicling of each piece and the lofting so that her historical design will be recorded and documented with a set of accurate plans for museums and maritime institutions worldwide.

Keeping the Spaulding Center alive has not been an easy pull, but in its wooden beams, with every wall an artifact, it is, itself, a treasure for all of the maritime USA. The work on Freda has not been speedy, but it is correct. And the fact is, Freda is not “quite” ready to launch. But boats are never “quite” ready, so this is it. Saturday, May 31 at the Spaulding Center, Foot of Gate Five Road, Sausalito, CA. The doors open at 1100. Freda splashes at 1130. Think BBQ, music, history. And, eventually, a return to the waterways of a boat with modest manners that only enhance her irresistible charm.

KELPIE OF FALMOUTH

Renowned on both coasts of the USA, now spreading her wings in Europe as Kelpie of Falmouth, the 79-foot schooner Kelpie was built in Maine in 1928 and sailed from the East Coast to the West Coast of the Americas in 1947 by the brothers Honey, Dave and Dick, father and uncle, respectively, of record-setting skipper, navigator and sports graphics engineer Stan Honey. We wrote that story in Changing Dreams in Midstream, with the Kelpie focus in part two.

As I write, Kelpie of Falmouth is racing in the Pendennis Cup in Cornwall, England, through May 31—captain Charlie Wroe hit his marks for delivery and restoration on deadline, as did the people he chose for the execution—and he says that the owner’s plan is to “race the pants off the boat” in 2014. Since the owner, who keeps to the background, also owns the classic-of-classics schooner Mariette, that’s saying a bit.

The state of affairs in April

Wroe further declares that Kelpie’s restoration “sets her up for the next fifty years.”

Classic Yacht . TV has done a a crisp job telling the renovation story, incorporating black & white images of the east-west delivery supplied by Dick Honey. It’s right here

Around Newport Beach, California there is a world of people who remember Kelpie in a former life as charter boat and dream weaver. They would not have liked her dogeared look when the Europeans found her in San Francisco Bay, but they’ll be pleased to know she has moved on to good things. You may have guessed, that’s Kelpie of Falmouth at the top of the page racing this week in Cornwall.

  • facebook
  • twitter