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Catalina Takes a Beating

Thu, 2014-08-28 12:21

By Kimball Livingston Posted August 28, 2014

Hurricane Marie, in the Pacific off Mexico, has been downgraded from its 140-knot top wind speeds to the status of a tropical storm. But not without supplying some thrill rides to the boldest of Southern California surfers, not without flooding parts of Seal Beach, and not without beating up Catalina Island’s southerly-exposed harbor at Avalon and interrupting ferry service from the mainland.

The images here were circulated by the Catalina Island Yacht Club and have appeared in multiple news accounts. All or most of them can be credited to Erica Minuto. CIYC dates its Avalon shoreline location and pilings (but not the current clubhouse) to 1903.

The morning scene was grim at the boatyard at Pebbly Beach.

Avalon in the past has also taken damage from Santana winds blowing off the desert, placing the island downwind of the mainland with plenty of fetch to build up damaging seas. Wet winter storms are also dangerous, and they took a particular toll in 1995.

Farther west on the island, the piers at Whites Landing suffered serious damage from Marie, but Two Harbors went mostly unscathed. Los Angeles Yacht Club yesterday reported no problems at Howlands Landing, Catalina but issued a surge warning for its harbor at San Pedro, where waves were topping the breakwater at Angel’s Gate.

The entire region should be beyond the worst now as the storm weakens and slips farther away. This was the look at Whites, as distributed by the Balboa Yacht Club, which has its island facilities there. Looks like beach landings only for a while . . .

In Newport Beach, traffic out the Balboa Peninsula was reported heavier than on a July 4, and that was all about watching surfers take on The Wedge. This has been all over social media, but I still dig it— Taking the Ride


The 18 Footers are racing this week on San Francisco Bay, out of St. Francis Yacht Club, and today at 5:30 is the annual hoot-and-a-holler Ronstan Bridge to Bridge Race, from the Golden Gate to the Bay Bridge. Think foiler kites, windsurfers, 18s and perhaps a cameo appearance of that classic and still fast ocean racing woodie, Ragtime. The 2013 winner, kiting world champion Johnny Heineken, made the run last year in 12 minutes flat. This was The look of 2013.

MAINE COAST CRUISE: Mouth of the Sheepscot River

Tue, 2014-08-26 15:31

With children fortuitously exiled in sleep-away summer activities, my bride Clare and I had a chance last week to venture out on Lunacy for several days on our own. We originally thought we might visit the Damariscotta River, but heading out from Portland last Monday we were plagued by light air and had no reasonable hope of its increasing considerably in the days ahead. This is a problem that often confronts the cruising sailor: when the wind lapses do you simply switch on the motor and go where you wanted to go anyway, or do you sail more slowly and go someplace you hadn’t thought of?

We spent our first night on a mooring at Sebasco, on the eastern edge of Casco Bay, and by early afternoon the following day, as we were ghosting across the mouth of the Kennebec River flying the screecher and mainsail wind-and-wing (see photo up top), it became clear that the Damariscotta, two rivers further down the coast, would be out of reach without a strong dose of internal combustion. To my mind sailing more slowly is almost always preferable to the clamor and monotony of motoring, so I began pondering alternative destinations.

The mouth of the Kennebec River, as seen from inside Seguin Island. It is quite narrow, reaching just across from the fort on the left (Fort Popham) to the house on Gilbert Head at the south end of Long Island (once inhabited by my grandmother) on the right

Heading up the very next river, the Sheepscot, seemed an obvious ploy. Clare and I, in company with younger daughter Lucy, who was then just two months old, had gone all the way up the Sheepscot to Wiscasset in my old Golden Hind Sophie nine years earlier, but we hadn’t been back since. We had neither the time nor inclination to sail up to Wiscasset now, but I realized we could very easily visit Robinhood, just a short distance upriver off its west bank.

Having spent my boyhood messing around in boats at the mouth of the Kennebec, the Sheepscot, on its face, seems something like an alien planet. Where the Kennebec is tight and narrow, with tidal current sluicing through it at high speed, the Sheepscot is wide and comfortable, twice as deep as the Kennebec (with max soundings over 200 feet instead of 100 feet), and its current, though certainly noticeable, is neither dramatic nor prohibitive. There have been more than a few times when I couldn’t go somewhere due to over-powering current and so had to wait for the tide to turn in the Kennebec, but I don’t imagine you ever have such problems in the broader reaches of the Sheepscot.

In our case, we had the inbound current in our favor as we entered the river in any event, which turned out to be a good thing. For though the river itself may be user-friendly, the tributaries branching off it to the west toward Robinhood are less so.

Our route from Sebasco around to Robinhood. As you can see, the Sheepscot’s entrance is much wider than the Kennebec’s, just a few miles to the west. We were sailing wing-and-wing, with no preventers or poles, all the way from just west of Seguin Island, where we made a slight turn to port, well into the mouth of the Sheepsscot, where we again turned slightly to port to head due north up the river. The water was very flat, and our screecher is surprisingly stable in this configuration

Your humble author steering by hand during our wing-and-wing downwind run

There are two to choose from. What is known as the Little Sheepscot River comes up first as you approach from the south and is very narrow with water gushing through as if shot from a firehose. The alternative, Goose Rock Passage, a little to the north, is wider, but still has strong current running through it.

Our approach to Robinhood

Having the current behind us, we opted for the more exciting route and were quickly flushed out the “little river” into the broader reaches of Knubble Bay, which is first in a series of back-river tributaries that connect the Sheepscot to the Kennebec and emerge some 15 miles up the latter just across from the city of Bath. One of my earliest childhood boating memories is of riding this roller-coaster, most particularly the Sasanoa River, which features two thrilling choke-points called Upper and Lower Hell Gate, in a small wood sloop that belonged to my grandparents. I remember lounging on the bow, reading a book I think, and looking up to see a large whirlpool, literally a deep hole in the water, directly ahead. I recall screaming and sprinting in terror back to the safety of the cockpit.

In this instance we encountered no whirlpools, though we saw a few impressive rips, and landed safely just across the way at Riggs Cove, where Robinhood Marine Center is located. Beyond driving there once for lunch maybe 20 years ago, I have no memories of having visited Robinhood Marine before, so I was curious to see what it is like from a water-borne cruiser’s perspective. I do remember it always had a reputation for being an expensive yard, relative to other options in the area. And, of course, I am very aware of the two cruising sailboats they started building here some years ago–the Robinhood 36 and 40. These are actually the old Cape Dory 36 and 40 in disguise, built in the same molds, but to a much higher finish quality.

A Robinhood 36 under sail. These are expensive boats, especially when compared to the many old Cape Dorys on the market, and I don’t think too many have been built

We had a fine time here. The scenery is spectacular, and the facilities are first rate. There is a nice bar and restaurant, showers, a laundry, a wood-paneled library (with a good book exchange and a strong WiFi signal), plus some interesting historical exhibits. Of these I was most intrigued by the statue of the Abenaki chief Mahotiwormet, known to British colonists as Robin Hood, after whom (obviously) this tiny community, its boatyard, and its cruising boats are named.

The docks at Robinhood Marine

One of several Island 40 houseboats we saw moored there. These are available to rent as floating summer cottages through Riggs Cove Rentals

Chief Mahotiwormet, aka Rawandagon, aka Robin Hood. He is believed to have been buried at Woolwich, near Bath

When I was a boy I was told this fellow earned his nickname in a series of sharp 17th-century real-estate deals in which he cannily sold the same pieces of property to several different settlers. An example, if you will, of a Native American beating the white man at his own game. Googling him now, however, I find no reference to this legend. The sole seemingly authoritative source, an essay by Harald E.L. Prins in a book, Northeastern Indian Lives, 1632-1816, instead describes him as a tragic figure who presided over the inexorable demise of his people, wrought mostly by European diseases and alcohol, with as much dignity as he could muster, and who also tried his best to thwart the conflict, King Philip’s War, that ultimately destroyed them. I can’t guess now which interpretation of the man’s career is more accurate, but certainly they are not mutually exclusive.

I was also intrigued by an unusual vessel I spied in the mooring field. A rather extreme example of a sharpie, I guessed, but with a weird superstructure. We did a drive-by in the dinghy and snapped some pix. Then, on going ashore the next morning, we learned the boxy-looking houses on its deck are in fact for displaying produce and baked goods, as this turned out to be a grocery boat, Beth Alison, out of Bowdoinham, that has been plying these waters selling provisions in different harbors for the last 20 years.

Beth Alison on her mooring, looking mysterious

Beth Alison in action, selling Clare some tomatoes and blueberry pound cake

Having girded our larder, and again having the tide in our favor, we set out soon afterwards for Damariscove Island, just southeast of the river entrance. The wind, which was still light, was not in our favor, blowing straight up the river, but there’s nothing like a nice lee-bow tide to make beating out a wide river mouth seem like a gentleman’s game.

Our route to Damariscove. Thanks to the tide we only had to tack twice to lay it

Some of you now may be shaking your heads, remembering what happened last time I stopped at Damariscove, just two months ago. But this time the weather forecast made it painfully clear conditions would very settled for at least another 36 hours, so I was confident we would be comfortable.

Lunacy‘s stern anchor prepped for deployment. There really isn’t much room for swinging when anchored here

The cove at Damariscove, as seen from its northern end. Thanks to the wide-angle camera lens it seems much bigger here than it really is. You can see Lunacy anchored out to the left of the old Coast Guard station. I was interested to see that a Beneteau 42 succeeded in getting into the inner harbor and picked up a mooring there. Its skipper told me he had 12 feet of water (he entered at low tide) all the way in

View from across Damariscove’s inland pond, facing south

View from Lunacy‘s cockpit the next morning at sunrise. There was nary a ripple nor swell in sight

We had no worries about leaving the boat unattended so seized the opportunity to hike as much of the island as possible. I’ve been coming here since I was a teenager and have explored the south end of the island, but I’d never been up into the north end, which is now closed off during much of the spring and summer to accommodate nesting birds. It was now late enough in the season that the birds were done nesting, so I hoped this was my chance.

Alas, after much technical clambering over rocks across the island’s narrow central isthmus, which reeked of bird excrement, we realized there was no proper inland trail leading through the island’s northern lobe. To get all the way up to the end of the island we needed machetes, or had to climb rocks along the shore the entire way there and back. So we gave it up and retreated to the still-born ease of the cove.

Next morning, after breakfast aboard (starring some tasty blueberry pound cake) and another hike ashore, it was time to start heading west again, back toward Portland. But now, unfortunately, conditions were so settled there was exactly zero wind and we were forced at last to run the engine for many hours on end.

POSTSCRIPT: This cruise marked the debut onboard of my “new” 25-year-old autopilot. I wired it up while we laying at Sebasco and used it to steer the boat from that point forward. On reading the manual (which did not come with the unit, but was unearthed online), I was amazed to learn it is in fact quite sophisticated, with super-powers like auto-tacking I never guessed it had. It performed passably well during our cruise, but still seems to be learning the boat and does steer a bit sloppily at times. On testing it before running actual sea trials, I also re-tested the old identical unit, and it seemed to be working again. So maybe now I have two functional units and can carry one in reserve.

Cruising Solutions headsets, testing the Bluetooth update

Tue, 2014-08-26 14:30

Written by Ben Ellison on Aug 26, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Apparently, the folks at Cruising Solutions have not forgotten that I once characterized their useful and still popular Mariner 500 intercom headsets as “making a boater look unfashionably similar to a Soviet tank driver,” and hence asked me to test their latest solution to the problem of verbal communications when captain and crew are in different areas of a boat. They are called “My Team Talks” Bluetooth headsets and they’re much more than modern looking intercoms. “Bring state-of-the-art multiplex communication technology to your boat” is not an overstatement…

The technology that Cruising Solutions has selected for boat use (and to presumably support for a long time) was developed by headset specialists Sena, whose main market is motorcyclists. So you can find deep details on the Sena SPH10 headset page as well as reviews at Amazon. The capabilities are phenomenal. You could conceivably have a phone and another audio source (maybe even a VHF) wirelessly connected to a headset and still be able to intercom with up to three other headsets. I tried a lot of the features and found the performance excellent. The “My Team Talks” headsets also seemed easier to set up and use than the huge feature list might suggest.

I used white tape to mark the headset I paired with both my Galaxy Nexus Android phone and iPad mini, and in this photo you can also see the little rubber tabs that fit between your earlobe and head to help keep the device in place. I found them fairly comfortable and could wear a pair for hours before needing a break. My dear mate, on the other hand, did not get used to them easily, but she does have an unusually small noggin (especially given its enormous and fantastic contents). No headphones are compatible with my hearing aids, but I found music, podcasts, intercom and most phone calls quite audible. All sources come through both speakers and music apps played in stereo; each source volume is individually controllable with the Jog Dial, which could also be used to skip forward and back through music tracks.

A really nice feature is the audible prompting. A pleasant voice confirms that the headset is turned on and then connected with the phone, plus it can inform of low battery status or lead you through complex settings when needed. Thus, it was easy to turn off the intercom voice activation that confused me when I first tried a single headset with phone and audio in my shop. Sounds like packing tape ripping off a roll would put the headset in intercom mode, and then the voice would warn me that the intercom wasn’t available. But it turned out that using the intercom manually is plenty easy, anyway; one tap on the dial starts full duplex communication with the other set(s) until you or another user tap the dial again (and Intercom VOX Off is the default mode, changed I guess by a prior tester). We didn’t test the intercom in extreme conditions, but the noise cancelling did seem to work well around normal wind and engine sounds.

I will note that the Sena manual is a bit daunting, but am happy to add that Cruising Solutions is currently working on both a video tutorial and a few quick start pages focused on the functions boaters will typically use.

I’ve tried a lot of wireless headsets, including several with intercom abilities, and I agree with Cruising Solutions that these hit a sweet spot of features, performance, ease of use and value. It may be partly that Bluetooth has gotten more reliable and capable over time, but I also think that Sena is very good at what they do. The size and layout of Gizmo doesn’t demand headsets for calm docking or anchoring, but I can imagine many circumstances — like trouble shooting something in the engine room — when they might be very useful, and I’ll also miss them as just a very solid standalone phone and audio headset. For ultra simple and inexpensive intercom-only use, though, the Mariner 500 is still a valid choice, and maybe the look has become hip?

PS: Digging around for the old Mariner headset review I found and enjoyed The Voyage of Ava T column that it accompanied. You might, too, but note that only the “Voyage of the Ava T page x” links at the bottom of that first page work. Here’s the opening paragraph and photo (at large resolution if you click on it):

Pictured above below is the helm of the good little vessel Ava T. as she approached the Cape Cod Canal shortly after dawn last Memorial Day. I was helping her new owner–PMY’s very own, and very boat-proud Richard Thiel–make his first trip aboard this 1985 Jarvis Newman lobster yacht, a 300-mile delivery from Camden, Maine, to Stratford, Connecticut. Now an older boat in such transition is a somewhat fragile affair. System idiosyncrasies that may have been second nature to her old master must now be relearned by the new one, and problems that festered while the boat awaited fresh enthusiasm tend to pop up without warning. In fact, Ava hadn’t been cruised, let alone driven hard, in more than two years, and the voyage–problem-wise–was epic. If you look hard you’ll notice duct tape around the window!

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

Escape from Visby: Sailing north in a Baltic Sea snorter

Tue, 2014-08-26 09:08

Note: the photos in the post below look MUCH better in their original form on Click here to see the article, with accompanying photos, in it’s intended glory.

At 10:30pm, on the fifth night in the harbor of the medieval city of Visby, I dove into the cold, dark water in nothing but a Speedo and my triathlon wetsuit.

It was darker – and colder – than it looks in the photo (if that’s possible). And also rougher. But it was adventure!

Over the previous four nights, the weather had deteriorated to the point that the harbor itself offered little respite. A southwest wind which had been building for days howled into the outer harbor, directing the accompanying swell through the narrow opening between the two enormous manmade breakwaters. For the ferries and commercial traffic in the outer harbor it was nothing but a nuisance. But for the half-dozen or so yachts further in, little Arcturus especially, life at the dock was miserable.

The surge from the storm – a deep depression situated well to the west over Norway, but spinning furiously and spanning hundreds of miles – found it’s way into the inner guest harbor, lifting and lurching the floating docks and the floating sailboats, bounced off the three concrete walls surrounding the marina and caused more chaos on it’s way back out. The docks moved in opposition to the boats. Several in the adjacent fishing harbor had their cleats torn out of their decks. We saw dented pulpits and ripped up toerails.

Arcturus’ stern mooring on a calmer day…and the lazy duck who used it as his floaty.

Aboard Arcturus, which was moored bow-to to the floating pontoon – a stern line fixed to a floating mooring and fenders out either side (though we had no neighbors – it was low season in August and the harbor was nearly deserted. For good reason perhaps?) – life was becoming increasingly uncomfortable.

We’d slowly been learning the local customs when it comes to cruising in Sweden since first arriving in 2011 – reels of nylon webbing, for example, to better control the stern anchor for mooring to the tideless cliffs in the archipelago. But we hadn’t yet learned, from experience anyway, why the Baltic-flagged boats all had these black rubber shock absorbers (they look just like..well, you can use your imagination, but you know what I mean) incorporated into their dock lines. The reasons were obvious enough, but it hadn’t, up to that point, been rough enough for us to feel the need for them on our own boat. Oh how I regretted my decision to leave them on the shelf at the last chandlery we visited in Stockholm.

I improvised. I found a coil of thick, new bungee cord in one of the rarely-visited lockers under the starboard settee. Stuff of the same type, sufficiently doubled and tripled, was strong enough for me to jump out of a cable car 500′ above a ravine in New Zealand, feeling confident that I’d recoil gently before hitting the rocks below. So it should work for our dock lines, right?

Right! I made a quick lashing between a shackle I’d fixed to the metal ring on the dock and the dock line itself, one each side of the bow, reeving the bungee through 5-6 times and tying it off with several half-hitches. We lassoed another stern buoy, just in case, and now had four lines tying us in place, two astern and two off the bow, bungeed to the dock. I added two more bow lines, slack enough that they didn’t come tight until the bungee reach it’s stretching limit, just in case the bungee was stretched beyond this limit and decided to part. Arcturus again rode comfortably and quietly at the dock, while Mia and I traipsed around the 13th-century city admiring the architecture and drinking lots of coffee at the ‘Bok & Musik Cafe’. We started a version of gin rummy that will continue until the end of our long holiday, and that I’m certain Mia will win.

Setting up Sune-the-driver – our Cape Horn wind vane – en route to Gotland. A few hours later, it was dark.

We sailed south to the island of Gotland – once a major trading center practically smack in the middle of the Baltic, where traders brought good and services to and from Northern Europe via the Spice Road to Asia – because initially we’d thought this summer would be the first stage of our journey towards the Swedish west coast, then onto Norway and ultimately the Arctic. We sailed from Fjärdlång in the outer Stockholm archipelago late one evening, planning to make the 75-mile passage south to Lickershamn, on the northern end of Gotland, overnight. Neither Mia nor I were very enthusiastic about the trip, or the prospect of continuing south and west on a tight schedule. We had three weeks off from work. Why push so hard when we had just arrived in the Baltic, and had only scratched the surface of what’s on offer here? Partly because we wanted one more grand adventure before starting a family, partly because since crossing the Atlantic in 2011/12 we’ve felt a little aimless in our sailing, and partly because, well, what else was there to do?

That first night cured us. Before we even got out of sight of land, south of Huvudskär, we both finally admitted to each other what we’d been thinking all along on the inside. That this idea is insanity, we travel so much throughout the year and wouldn’t it be nice to just not follow a schedule and deadline for once? Doing nothing, literally nothing, on this vacation might actually do us some good and teach us a few things about patience and enjoying the moment (myself especially).

Cycle tour around northern Gotland…50 kilometers in half a day.

Though sleeply after going forward, twice, in the dark to change headsails, we had a fantastic sail south under a full moon (for the brief period that it was actually dark – the sun made it’s return in the northeast shortly after 0300). Arcturus close-reached under her heavy 100% jib and double-reefed mainsail, crashing and banging south in the short, steep Baltic Sea chop, but making fast headway. The northwest coast of Gotland emerged shortly after 0700 on my watch, and we sailed in under the high limestone cliffs and into the idyllic fishing village that is Lickershamn. With our schedule abandoned, we ran through the forest tracks on the cliffs, hired bicycles to explore 50km of inland farm roads (and all the coffee shops on the route) and waited for reasonable weather rather than sail the 15 miles south to Visby in the rain. We felt liberated.

Ice cream after a 30km training run on Gotland.

Washing dishes with water from the Baltic.

Arcturus’ anchorage on the cliffs in Fjärdlång.



Our regular jumping photo in 13th-century church ruins.


My tousled hair was the only giveaway to how my body felt that day…I managed to steer my part.

We left Lickershamn after three days on a fresh southwesterly breeze, knowing full-well we’d be in for a dead beat to Visby. We were getting bored of the sleepy fisherman’s village, so it was time to move again. Motoring clear of the reefs outside the manmade breakwater (there are no natural harbors on Gotland, and yes indeed the reefs – millennia ago when Gotland was situated near the equator – were actual coral reefs at one point in geological history), we set the full mainsail and the small jib, lowered the 400-pound bronze centerboard and set off into the sunshine to the south and Visby. Arcturus made a cool six knots through the water, but our poor tacking angles in our nearly 50-year-old boat gave us a VMG of a much slower three. 15 miles took 6 hours. By the end of it, my hangover was in full-force (I’d gotten a little too enthusiastic listening to Radiohead the night before and drinking red wine in the cozy cabin down below). Mia and I traded helming duties, depending on which tack we were on, and during her stints I was horizontal in the cockpit. I never barfed, but also didn’t get the respite I longed for once we hit the dock. I slept for two hours before I felt human again and could explore the cobbled streets with my wife. She was amused. I haven’t had a drink since (and that was twelve days ago).

Five days in Visby and that southwesterly never let up. Rather just the opposite happened. In hindsight, had we waited any longer in Lickershamn, we’d never have made it south at all. Though the sky was clear and sunny, the wind never relented, blowing even harder in the inner harbor as it funneled between the large ferries berthed on the outside.

We visited some friends-of-friends who owned the nearby Visby Hotell. Over coffee and baguettes, they told us the humorous story of the cruise ship captain who, after dropping his guests off ashore in the ship’s tenders (this particular liner was too large to even enter the outer harbor, remaining instead on the outside in a holding pattern), couldn’t get them back aboard when a different southwesterly blew up. The guests were stranded ashore and had to find accommodation for the night (which pleased our new friends, the hotel proprietors, who were happy to oblige), while the captain wound up severely delayed on the liner’s itinerary, which had already been running late before the incident.

It was later that same night that I wound up in the harbor. By then the wind and swell had built to the point where we couldn’t stand up inside the boat. The shock loads, despite my bungee cord solution, jerked the boat so hard at times when the dock decided to float in the opposite direction, that you easily lost your footing. The noise was awful. It felt as though any minute the bow cleats would rip right out.

I’d had a thought the day before that we ought to string long bow lines right across the dock and over to the moorings on the far side. Though these would normally be reserved as stern buoys for the boat’s laying opposite us, being that it was low season, there were none. We were berthed facing south, more or less in the direction of the funneling wind, and I thought that if we laid on the moorings rather than the dock, the boat would ride more easily. The harbor was too small to anchor out or lay to a mooring in the middle, but this seemed an exciting solution.

So late in the evening, in the midst of a southwesterly gale (there were Level 3 warnings throughout Sweden’s southern coastal areas), I donned my black Speedo and my black tri wetsuit, grabbed a long three-strand anchor rode and dove in. Adrenaline pumping (I felt like James Bond!) I swam out to the first buoy, looped the line through, and swam back. Mia, now accompanied by our neighbor who had emerged from his Dufour 40 to see what all the commotion was about (and who, incidentally, had encouraged me not to dive into the dark water – he, after all, was a  lifeboat captain, and knew how quickly things could deteriorate in situations like these) handed me a second long line, which I swam back out to another buoy before finally returning and clambering back onto the dock with the help of our lifeboat driver friend. I felt invigorated.

Getting ready for action…

Still fits!


Bond. James Bond.

Mission accomplished!

Nearly human again…


And rather pleased with myself. Instantly the boat rode better at the dock, the long (about 50′) mooring lines now easily taking the swell without any of the shock loads from the short dock lines. We tied two more bow lines to the dock, loosely, just in case, and tightened up on the two stern buoys. I got to bed before midnight, and managed to fall asleep despite the howl of the wind in the rigging.

At 3am, I woke again, this time to a harsh thud. I knew instinctively, almost before I was fully awake, that the bow had been banging the dock, and that one of our spiderwebs had parted. Wind still howling, I leapt on deck to discover a frayed stern line, the one taking most of the load on the starboard stern buoy, which now floated happily unencumbered about 15′ behind Arcturus. The slack had allowed the boat to inch forward, and it was now bumping the dock with each passing swell.

Mia emerged to help lasso the buoy (for a second time), and this time with plenty of chafe guard (some things only happen once), we re-secured the stern buoy and again tried to get some sleep. My iPhone was set to go off at 6:30, only two-and-a-half hours later, so we could try and get out of the harbor for good, and ride the (hopefully) diminishing southwesterly back north and into the Stockholm archipelago again.

Sleep did manage to find me, but all too soon that damned alarm rang. It was sunny and clear, but the wind kept right on blowing, still from the southwest and still very hard. Mia and I executed to perfection our plan of extricating ourselves from our dock line spiderweb and tentatively motored towards the harbor entrance, halyards attached and anchor ready to run.

The closer we got to the narrow passage between breakwaters, the harder the wind blew and the bigger the swell. Arcturus’ new Beta engine was at it’s (admittedly low) limit, the bow plunging in each wave trough. I nervously glanced at the seawall and back at the knot meter, getting very nervous when our speed dropped below 1 knot, and downright ready to abort the whole plan when I saw 0.2 on the screen. Keeping the bow into the wind and our momentum up was critical. Mia, harnessed in, sat ready at the mast to hoist the jib (though she was by now soaked). My bailout plan was to slam the boat in reverse, let the wind blow the bow around and sail under bare poles back into the harbor and re-establish our position in our secure little spiderweb at the dock.

It was never necessary. All 16 horses in the little Beta mobilized against the wind and seas and we agonizingly made enough headway to windward to hoist the small jib and bear away towards the north. We were safe again on the open sea.

Arcturus took flight ahead of the southwesterly. We broad-reached to the north, aiming more or less towards Lansort, Sune-the-driver, our Cape Horn wind vane handling the helming duties without a complaint. I wasn’t satisfied sailing 5 knots, so we hoisted the reefed mainsail and immediately gained 2.5 knots of boat speed, though the added weather helm made life difficult for Sune (still, he never complained).

We covered 85 miles in 13 hours, averaging Arcturus’ hull speed, and arrived round the corner in Nåttarö to drop the hook just before it got very dark. We found ourselves a calm place to sleep for the first time in nearly a week.

Arcturus calmly at anchor (finally)…

Rowing ashore…not often that we use the dinghy in the archipelago.

Andy’s best tree pose.

Naked swim! 53º F water temp…


Upon reflection, our abandoning hopes of heading towards the west coast of Norway was the best thing that happened to us this summer. Still yearning for adventure, I realized on that sail north in the windy southerly, that we are currently having an adventure. For many Swedes, just sailing to Gotland from the mainland is a feat unto itself. It’s a longer trip than crossing the Gulf Stream from Florida to the Bahamas, something I recall our cruising friends making a very big deal about when I was a kid aboard Sojourner with my mom and dad, and certainly a colder one. The fact that Mia and I handled the boat in that kind of wind and sea state like it was second nature (it was), makes me very proud of the both of us. Less than eight years ago, Mia had never even set foot on a sailing boat. Now’s she’s crossed the Atlantic more times than I have, and knows, in her bones, how to drive a boat in an 8′ quartering sea with 30 knots of wind blowing over the deck while I sleep soundly on the settee down below.

Now, at last, we’ll enjoy the last seven days of our holiday (Norway now far from our minds) and will be shortly hauling Arcturus for another long winter. We’ve spent the past eight years learning how to thrive on the high seas. Now we’ve got to learn how to relax.

59N Podcast: Kristen Berry

Tue, 2014-08-26 00:00

Kristen Berry is one of the head trainers at J/World Annapolis sailing school. Andy chatted with him in early August about his racing and cruising career, his transition into professional sailing from managing political campaigns (you’d be surprised at the similarities), his thoughts on what racers can learn from cruisers (and vice versa) and how he creates successful trainig programs at J/World and manages successful ocean racing campaigns. J/World Annapolis is now the Official Training Partner of World Cruising Club USA, and are hosting their first Ocean ‘OPS’ course on September 22-23. The Ocean Preparedness Seminar will be a hands-on weekend learning safety and emergency management specific to ocean sailing. Check them out at

Do you understand flag etiquette?

Mon, 2014-08-25 05:00

Flag etiquette rules aren’t required as a cruiser, but you should know the basics to avoid embarrassing yourself or offending others. Beyond that is up to you, but there’s a whole language to flags that is interesting to learn. As a fan of flag etiquette.  I like to think I know a few things about flags, but I learned so much from this great infographic that reader John Tissot of the East Freemantle Yacht Club emailed!

Eleven years ago this month, we sailed with a group of fellow Seattle Yacht Club members on an organized cruise. It was our first time clearing into another country, and we were so excited to use our snappy new Canadian courtesy flag when we cleared in at Ganges. Imagine our dismay when a few hours later, a patient sailor pointed out that in our haste, we had hoisted it…upside down. An international sign of distress, although in our case the distress followed the flag instead of vice versa!

Normally, we love flying flags on Totem: courtesy flags are always up as cruisers, we’re proud to fly an ensign, and we enjoy others as well, from burgees to flags of local significance. If we weren’t in such an uninteresting spot at the moment, I’d get a glamor shot of the pretty new American flag now off Totem’s transom. This “Battle Tough” flag look sharp, and will be taking us though some big miles in the next year.

Thank you John for sending this infographic! Take a look, see what you know, and what you can learn. I predict this will spawen sundowner hour quizzes around here later…

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Come FLY with Totem!

Sat, 2014-08-23 08:41

This week we hit our six year cruisaversary. On August 21, 2008, friends sailed us out of the entrance to Eagle Harbor, Washington, and on our way to adventures afloat. We did not anticipate that we’d be out this long, not knowing at what ages the children might pine for “normal” land lives, how the life would meet our expectations, or we’d string together our finances. With lumps in the road, it still has stuck together, and I am grateful every day to live this life afloat with my family.

To celebrate six years, Jamie pulled a digital track of our travels since departure (and a small party of fellow sailors!). Between changes in technology in general, and in the systems we’ve used to record our travels, this took a bit of doing- but the result gives us a cool lookback as well as something to share.

The overview still kinda makes me say- WOW. We did that? But we did. And in our own time, our own pace, enjoying most of the steps along the way.

Jamie’s also made this into a KML file we can look at in Google earth. Flying in and out of our adventures was a glorious distraction for me this afternoon.

This took took Jamie quite a long time, in great part because it was impossible not to relive great memories as each leg came together.  So he’s annotated with pins to mark stops that stood out, like the time we spent a week seeing and hearing fin whales feed in the channel between Isla Coronado and Baja. It’s the top pin in the shot below.

Then there that look at our miles crossing the Pacific ocean. DANG. That is a lot of water. I dreamed about this.

Want to come fly through our adventures? I’ll post a link to the downloadable file here, and on our Facebook page - that’s the best place for updates, so come along!


To begin automatically downloading the KMZ file and cruise through our journey via Google Earth, just click here.

 Jazzed up readers know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Garmin SmartMode, and here comes Simrad Bridge

Fri, 2014-08-22 12:45

Written by Ben Ellison on Aug 22, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Garmin’s SmartMode station control seemed like an obviously great idea when introduced with the 8000 Glass Helm series in early 2013. The basic feature simply lets you group 8000 displays at a helm (station) and control what the various screens are showing all at once. But the interface designers went a smart step further by naming the default SmartModes after the overall tasks at hand, instead of the conventional specifics about the tools needed, like “chart/radar/cam”. Thus the 8212 now being tested on Gizmo came with CRUISING, DOCKING, ANCHORING, and FISHING modes already suggested, and I’ve been adding my own in the same task-not-tool spirit…

Another sign of Garmin’s interface smarts is the well-done SmartMode explanatory graphic that pops up when you set up a Station. While station names cannot be customized, there are lots of choices, and note that you can use SmartMode on a single display. In fact, that’s the only way I can test it, as the feature does not extend to the Garmin 741xs also installed on Gizmo. That may change, though, as the smaller MFDs have already been given lots of other network integration abilities. (The 741 is already sharing charts and sonar with the 8212 and I can even save screenshots from the big screen to a card on the small display.)

SmartMode on a single display is quite similar to setting up a regular custom screen on the 8000, but you do get to add a graphic of your choice, and by using SmartMode you’ll have two pages of custom screens available from your Home page. Note that the Functions windows would look more interesting if I hadn’t chosen four Gauge windows…

…but then again my Systems Check smartmode is pretty interesting. I had not realized until I tried this that the Garmin can now display some fairly esoteric data from Gizmo’s NMEA 2000 network, like engine room (actually exterior block) and refrigerator temps coming from a Maretron TMP100. They haven’t yet provided automatic or manual gauge configuration for these values, like they have for the tachometer and a few other common gauges, but let’s hope. I also like those tank level graphics you can add to the data bar. And it’s important to note here that whatever I select for the data bar and/or lower and upper bars, plus each window’s gauge selection, are all saved in this SmartMode.

There may also be screen setup features I’ve missed. It was only yesterday that I realized I could use lowercase letters when naming things even though that upper right arrow — which even glows when in CAPS — now seems quite obvious. Note that Garmin has offered a choice of alphabetical or qwerty touch keyboards for some time.

While I’ve been meaning to explore SmartMode for some time, it certainly came to mind when Simrad announced a similar Bridge Control feature in the recent update to evo2 software. A manual addendum about how to use it (and the other interesting new features) still isn’t available, but I found the Networking/Bridge menu easily and was happy to see that I could use both NSS16 and 7 for testing. What I missed (without a help call) was a new Bridge button somewhere on the Home page that will let me choose any screen presets already on each MFD for a Bridge preset. I hope to try it later today.

I can’t remember if it was Simrad or Raymarine who first came up with a screen editor where you could just touch slide the functions you want onto draft page, but the evo2 version seems perfected. You don’t have to specify how many windows you want; you just add functions until you’re done or the maximum is reached, and then a graphic drop-down lists shows the different ways you can arrange that many windows. Finally, anytime you’re using the screen you can adjust the window splits with a shortcut found on the menu under the power button. Nice!

In the spirit of building on your competitor’s good ideas, check out the spectacular wind gauge page that recently came to both the Garmin 8000 and 7×1 displays in a recent update. Everything you see there is by default, but you can do a fair bit of customization, like which value to chart, right from the menu button. Who would be surprised if Furuno and Raymarine have a feature similar to SmartMode and Bridge Control on their software road maps? But speak up if you want it, because there’s lots of features and improvements still possible. In the meantime, I think that many MFDs will already let us try the idea of naming preset screens for their use; maybe some of you already do?

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Podcast: Brion Toss on the Art of Rope Whippings

Fri, 2014-08-22 00:00

Andy spoke with master rigger Brion Toss from Bermuda several years back about the art and science of a proper rope whipping. It was originally for an article in Yachting World, but we’ve repurposed it into another Essay Friday episode. Brion is set to come on the podcast soon for a full-on interview, but in the meantime, enjoy his philosophy on rope whippings and learn a thing or two this week!

There’s this boat: Mary Powell

Wed, 2014-08-20 07:51

It takes many years of diligent saving and personal sacrifice to afford the boat of your dreams and cruising adventure. Or, you can limit your selection set to what fits into a ready budget, and trade years of anticipation for years of cruising.

That’s what Steve Dolman did. His modest sloop, Mary Powell, was not a candidate for swagging at a boat show or splashing across a magazine cover. But the simple monohull was kinder to the budget, and it meant he could go- soon. We met Steve in Mexico, hung out again in Tonga, and caught up recently once more in Malaysia. What does one man’s perfect cruising boat look like? Steve took the time to answer a few questions for me.

Tell me about Mary Powell.

She’s a Discovery 37, designed by Peter Hatfield and built in 1970 in Richmond, BC. They were built for just a few years by ICL engineering.

How did you find her?

Just by fluke, with a broker in Sidney, BC, looking for an economical blue water cruiser. At the time, I was also looking at C&Cs. Glad that didn’t happen (keels have a habit of falling off!). It had been sitting for three years after death of the owner; kids used it a little, not much, and it hadn’t been maintained. Mostly, it just needed TLC, nothing major. I put $38,888 (Canadian) into the boat.

What were your major upgrades?

I put in a windlass, and HF radio, radar, autopilot. All the other basic essentials were there.

What makes her special to you?

Actually didn’t like her much at first, but it was what I could afford. The choices were to blow the budget on the boat, and go back to work, or buy a cheaper boat and go cruising. She grew on me and by the time I got to Fiji I wasn’t jealous of anyone. The boat is the right size, the right investment, I know her inside and out and know she can just about anything handle anything.

What kind of preparation did you do?

I hit almost every gale in the Georgia Strait that winter to make sure that if anything broke it broke there. If you call mayday you’ll have traffic jam in 15 minutes! Ice pellets at 35 knots make a special sound on a full sail, but a lot of fun.

Tell me what you like most about her.

Her ruggedness. She’s been on rocks and reefs. She’s got a bare lead keel – no fiberglass. Three times it’s happened, and each time we got off unscathed, despite bumping and bouncing. Just a spade rudder, there’s no skeg. And, she’s pretty fast; we keep up with the 42 footers of the world.

What don’t you like about Mary Powell?

All funds and focus have been on hull, rig, and engine, but that’s the stuff that counts. The interior is still very 1970s! Mary Powell could stand everything cosmetically. No change to layout, just make it look a little newer.

Do you know much else about her history?

It was registered in Victoria by the first owner, who had her for nine years; the second owner for twenty seven years, and I’ve had her ever since September 2007.

Mary Powell is a modest boat, but she and Steve have put down a respectable miles. He crossed the Pacific in 2010, then sailed up to Japan and across the North Pacific back to British Columbia. By 2013, he was back down in Mexico and preparing to head out across the Pacific again. It was such a treat to hear from him a few months ago that he was in Bali, and wondering if we’d be able to get together. The cruising world is small, and it’s great when it comes around again.

Sitting on Totem in Langkawi, Malaysia, Steve and I talked longer about what’s next. He’d like to get back to Trinidad, where he was introduced to sailing as a teen and has fond memories from his youth. But after criss-crossing the Pacific a couple of times, he’s hoping to explore Southeast Asia a little longer before continuing west.

Fair winds Steve- I wonder what corner of the world we’ll get to see you in next?

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A New Adventure

Tue, 2014-08-19 16:55

There comes a time in every person’s life when she must ask herself, “do I want to move to Papua New Guinea?”

It isn’t always “Papua New Guinea.” Sometimes it is “a new town.” Or “take a different job.” Or “go back to school.” It just happens to be Papua New Guinea in my case, because that is the way my life seems to work. Like Belle, I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I’ll just never be the one with the big house, the minivan, the soy latte and the lululemons. I’d rather learn Tok Pisin.

Moving aboard was a big DIWTMTPNG moment for me. I had no sailing experience. I had a comfortable life. I had friends and family nearby. Why give all that up? To have an adventure with my husband and kids. To do something new. To experience a different slice of life and travel the world. And when I viewed it in those terms, going cruising changed from being an idea to an opportunity. So, of course, I said yes.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past four years writing about how great cruising is, and how much we all enjoy it. All true. However, two facts have combined into an unstoppable, Voltron-like robot in the lives of the Papillon crew. One: it’s time to earn some money if we want to continue to enjoy luxuries like Lanocote and food. Two: Erik loves his work with a ridiculous passion. It is easier to get barnacles off the prop than to pry him away from an interesting project.

It grieves me to say so, but he has fallen off the sabbatical wagon. Erik walks the razor’s edge between his two loves – his family, and his work. I can’t really complain, because I have won that battle for four years now, and I do enjoy the aforementioned food his work provides. And normally Erik is at least home on the weekends. But the flight connections between New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea aren’t exactly plentiful or convenient. And this has been going on for too long.

Thus, we’ve decided on a new adventure. For the next half year, the four of us will live together in a small village in Papua New Guinea. The kids will attend an international school there and tumble around like puppies with the many, many other youngsters in town. Erik will work. And I’ll write. (Which is also work, but, unless you are very, very lucky, you tend to get paid more in personal satisfaction than in cold, hard cash.)

Where does this leave you, dear reader? Well, I will still be here on Sailing Papillon, telling tales of our adventures. But there won’t be much sailing or Papillon. If you are only here for the cruising stories, then mark your calendar for early April 2015. I’ll be back aboard at that point. If you love me anyway, then stick around. This is a just a brief sabbatical from our sabbatical, and there will still be lots going on.

In the meantime, I’ll set you all some homework.  Keep your eyes open for your own: “do I want to move to Papua New Guinea?” moments. And when they arrive, remember: the answer is always yes.

Gizmo glass bridge MFD testing 2014, specs & prices

Tue, 2014-08-19 16:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Aug 19, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Now we’re talking. Gizmo’s flybridge feels like the starship Enterprise now that the Simrad NSS16 evo2 is installed in its Seaview Power Pod and the Garmin 8212 has been moved closer to the helm since I first discussed the 2014 glass bridge install. Recent visitors tended to break into giddy laughter, but the marine electronics horsepower at my fingertips is truly phenomenal. In this scene, for instance, I’m exploring a dicey area of Camden outer harbor — hence the lack of moorings — using StructureScan and medium CHIRP sonar on the NSS16, CHIRP DownView and sonar on the gS125, and EchoPilot FLS via the Garmin’s video port. Today’s subject, though, is about how and why I selected the particular gear I hope to test and compare for quite a while…

Specifically, is it fair to compare that big Simrad NSS with the Raymarine and Garmin 12-inch models when there is an NSS12 evo2 available? My first rationale was practical as the 16 was supposed to be available a month before the 12. In fact, I didn’t receive the 16 until recently because the initial run purportedly sold out quickly (and a guy trying to borrow one long-term should rightfully go to the bottom of the list). But as I built a spreadsheet of unit specifications, mainly to figure out how to fit all these screens at the helms, I added the suggested retail prices and realized that the NSS16 seemed similar to the Garmin and Raymarine 12-inch models, especially as it includes built-in CHIRP sonar and StructureScan processing (or ForwardScan, when it arrives) plus 10Hz GPS. (I’ve since learned that you can’t run CHIRP and SS at the same time, though both work fine if you put the sonar on a single frequency, and the limitation is in the manual according to a patient Navico tech support guy :-)

But, man, I get nervous discussing prices. They can change overnight (major radar example below); there are all sorts of packages and other discounts, and it’s hard to factor in needed cables, etc. The ultimate cost of ownership should include installation, repairs, durability, and more…and the calculation is rarely consistent owner to owner. Usefulness versus hassle, pleasure versus pain, can vary dramatically with the same gear used on similar boats for similar purposes. It bothers me, for instance, to list the Furuno TZT14 at $7,695 because I know it was subject to a colossal $1,500 rebate for most of this year and that may happen again (the rebate hinges on the exchange rate with Japan, I’m told). The TZT would also seem less expensive if the comparison was by weight, which suggests the extreme durability Furuno is famous for.

At any rate, I hope the dimensions and so forth on my spreadsheet are useful to other boats trying to make decisions, but please treat the price information carefully; there’s a bigger picture. But that said, it does look like the new Simrad NSS line is a good value, though the differences get fairly minor down at the 7-inch screen level. Incidentally, even though these MFDs commonly go by themselves on smaller boats, I think of them as part of the whole do-it-all glass bridge concept because they can also serve as they are in the scene above. They have the same clean touchscreen style, they’re networked every which way, and the tasks they’re taking care of here are typical of a larger boat at anchor. You might want one of these MFDs next to your berth, which is one reason why Raymarine’s huge a- and e-Series model lists are noteworthy.

I did notice a few small ways that Simrad is keeping their manufacturing costs down. If you download the install manual, you’ll see that the only cable included is the power cord — no NMEA 2000 (or SimNet) drops and no proprietary video or Ethernet cables. The dust caps you should put over unused ports are now soft friction-fit type, except for the turn-and-lock one over the HDMI output. But I quibble, and who else offers HDMI output anyway? I guess the concern is if they used some cost-cutting internal part that will cause trouble later, but so far both large and small NSS are performing very well, including what is essentially evo2 software V1. One possible bug I just encountered is corrupted screen shots on the 16, but even if that hindrance is real, I’ll share what I’m finding soon.

One of the last installs I’ll do before heading south is a Garmin 24 xHD radar, and my rationale for borrowing that instead of the 18-inch high performance model –like the other three, though the actual dimensions vary — was the same as with the NSS16. Without a size constraint, a boater could have a Garmin 24 for about what it cost to get the competitor’s smaller radome. But that was a few months ago, before Raymarine cut the price of their RD418HD by about $700 (if my research is correct). So it goes.

The truth is that Garmin’s original 24 HD radome didn’t do well against the 18-inch competition in my 2009 testing, so it will be news if they’ve caught up on features and performance. And that’s what I’m expecting, as one general impression I’m developing while working with all these MFD systems is a nice level of parity. They’re all darn good. And I think they all have the hardware, software, and R&D team horsepower to keep improving existing features and adding new “functions” for some time. I look forward to drilling into the nuances and making comparisons and suggestions, hopefully with your participation.

But marine electronics isn’t all about the Big Four, though possibly more than ever. There are all sorts of sub- and standalone systems that can help us in ways that probably aren’t even on the big boys’ roadmaps yet. And I feel a bit remiss that Gizmo hasn’t met a Humminbird Ion yet, though it’s not quite at “glass bridge” level. But there is a little room and a few unused power and data ports for interesting displays like the Standard Horizon CPN1010i below, whose chartplotting looked good even next to the TZT and which can still do things the others can’t. More to come.

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Racing Shorthanded: The Scene

Tue, 2014-08-19 15:53

By Kimball Livingston Posted August 19, 2014

Maybe it means something that 20 percent of the 2014 Pacific Cup fleet is sailing doublehanded. Maybe it means something that the biggest annual race on San Francisco Bay is a goofy winter event for one- and two-person crews. And maybe it means something that the Singlehanded Transpac is simply an event on the calendar, as opposed to a point of controversy, as it was when it started 35 years ago. Shorthanded sailing is having a heyday in Northern California, and its driving forces fit into the big picture of sailing in 2014.

• The average raceboat has grown smaller. (Even as the average cruising boat has grown larger—go figure).
• Keelboat owners bemoan the difficulty of finding, keeping and feeding skilled crew.
• Many people yearn to escape predictable windward-leeward courses.

So, a smaller boat is easy enough to sail shorthanded. It’s easy enough to provision for only one or two. And nobody, but nobody, sails shorthanded windward-leeward races. Are we making sense here?


Sweden Makes AC Campaign Official

Tue, 2014-08-19 11:33

Where will Rod Davis pop up next? The word from Artemis—

STOCKHOLM, August 19, 2014 – Today, Artemis Racing officially launched its challenge to win the 35th America’s Cup at an inspirational event in Sweden’s capital. Guests were treated to a rare chance of seeing the America’s Cup trophy first hand at the Moderna Museet, on Skeppsholmen Island at the heart of Stockholm’s proud maritime history.

Torbjörn Törnqvist, Team Principal of Artemis Racing said: “Sailing is my passion, and I’m very proud to once again represent Sweden in the America’s Cup. Given our experience from the 34th America’s Cup, what the team went through and achieved, we have an incredibly strong culture, a belonging to the team. Building on our core group from the last campaign, we have been able to secure talent across all areas, and I strongly believe that Artemis Racing is a team capable of winning the 35th America’s Cup”.

Artemis Racing will again challenge alongside Kungliga Svenska Segel Sällskapet (KSSS), the Royal Swedish Yacht Club, for what will be their second campaign together in the pursuit of winning the oldest competition in sport.

“The America’s Cup is the pinnacle of international sailing. KSSS is proud to be a challenger once again through Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing team. We are also very excited by the prospect of involving Swedish sailors in various ways in the project. We want to extend our gratitude to Torbjörn Törnqvist for making this possible” commented Staffan Salén, KSSS Commodore.

New team members were announced, including Swedish Olympic champions, Fredrik Lööf and Max Salminen, as well as America’s Cup veteran Rod Davis.

Lööf is one of the most successful Swedish sailors of all times and a long-time friend and competitor of Team Manager Iain Percy. With a wealth of experience, he has participated in an incredible six Olympic campaigns, winning a gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics and bronze medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the Star class, and at the Sydney 2000 Olympics in the Finn class. Lööf’s career highlights also include three Finn World Championships, two Star World titles and a third place finish in the 2001-2002 Volvo Ocean Race.

On joining the team Fredrik said “I’ve been fascinated by the way sailing has been evolving over the last few years, with these new foiling boats and incredible TV production. I was really inspired by Artemis’ last campaign and having a Swedish boat on the start line again, and being part of it this time, is very exciting. Winning the America’s Cup and bringing it to Sweden for the first time would be something very special”.

One of the most promising talents in Swedish sailing, Max Salminen, still just 24, struck gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games alongside Fredrik Lööf in the Star class.

Artemis Racing also welcomed Sailing Coach Rod Davis. In his extraordinary America’s Cup career –now his 9th campaign – Davis brings an unparalleled wealth of experience to the team, having covered a variety of roles from bowman to mainsail trimmer, skipper, and more recently coach of Emirates Team New Zealand. Rod won a gold medal in the Soling class at the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984, and Olympic silver in the Finn class in Barcelona 1992. His track record also includes winning the Admiral’s Cup and the Sardinia Cup several times, as well as seven World Champion titles.

The Team has already amassed an incredible 61 America’s Cup Campaigns between its members, including 14 victories. Team members (including two designers) have competed in 21 Olympic Games, winning 11 medals, including seven Gold medals.

“Where some teams may have one Olympic gold medallist, we have six of them, however the focus is very much on the team, and there is no individual bigger than the group. We are not only in this competition to win the 35th America’s Cup, but to dominate the America’s Cup arena for the next decade.” Said Team Manager and Tactician Iain Percy. “I’m also passionate that Artemis Racing is more than simply winning, it’s about producing a legacy and winning in a certain way”.

Harnessing fresh talent and inspiring younger team members is at the core of Artemis Racing’s new challenge, and the Team launched an internship programme which will give top Swedish students a chance to become directly involved in the key areas that make up a successful America’s Cup Team, spending up to 12 weeks working in the team base in Alameda, CA, USA, across different departments.

Artemis Racing also aspires to be the most sustainable and responsible team in the America’s Cup, announcing a number of initiatives including plans to ‘up-cycle’ or, ‘re-purpose’, their future base at the 35th America’s Cup venue.

59N Podcast: John Franta

Tue, 2014-08-19 00:00

John Franta is the brains behind Colligo Marine and their synthetic rigging products. Andy met John in 2009 at the Annapolis Sailboat Show and has been friends with him since. Arcturus was the first monohull that we know of that crossed an ocean with Colligo Dux synthetic rigging, and John and Andy have been working together on promoting synthetic rigging for cruising boats since their first meeting. They discuss the business behind Colligo and how John transitioned from a corporate job as an engineer at GM, to a start-up founder with Colligo. He’s an inventor and a businessperson, and that combination is truly inspiring. Sklp to about minute 22 if you want to get right into the technical aspects of synthetic versus wire rigging. Check out Colligo on

Good Fortune

Mon, 2014-08-18 18:02

Hammo Yes, Hammo No

Mon, 2014-08-18 12:41

From Antarctica to Hammo, the whales have come.

And Hamilton Island Race Week is a big deal in the sailing life of Australia. Everybody but everybody goes to “Hammo,” the gem of a resort in the Whitsdunday Islands of Queensland that, officially, remains the Challenger of Record for America’s Cup 35. But the clock is ticking on that. Otherwise, you could figure that the world would be paying a lot more attention to the races that begin on Tuesday and run through August 27. Instead, we have whales. Thanks, Andrea Francolini, for the pic.

Best sails for downwind cruising: reader questions

Sun, 2014-08-17 20:45

What do you want to know about downwind sails? It turns out, more than we expected! Last month’s post on the best sails for downwind cruising was an answer for a friend, but it prompted other questions in responses- here on the blog and on Totem’s Facebook page. Jamie has many years of experience as a sailmaker, and is happy to help clarify or do Q&A.

This isn’t about light air sails, but downwind sails. Of course, that gets a little complicated because genoas, jibs, and Code Zero sails are upwind or downwind sails. The punchline, to spare rereading the old post: for cruisers, Jamie likes the “Cruising Code Zero” (CCZ) as the most versatile of downwind sails. Of course, a CCZ isn’t the best for everyone. If we were back at home in the Pacific Northwest, for example, with very light winds and a tendency for wind to be on the nose or very far behind, a general purpose asymmetric may be a better choice. Purpose, skills, performance, budget, and other factors all play in because (repeat after me:) everything on a boat is a compromise.

Sometimes it would be nice to have fewer choices (Indonesia)

Windspeed: why is a CCZ better for a range of wind speeds?  Are they just typically built of stronger material?

Yes, a CCZ is built with heavier material than a general purpose (GP) asymmetric. This is because when sailing closer to the wind, the loads in the sail are higher. A typical GP asymmetric is made from (roughly) 1.5oz and 0.75oz nylon. A code zero is 2+oz nylon, or from very strong high modulus laminates. It’s also to CCZ being smaller than a big AP Asymmetric.

Wind angle versatility: how can a sail that can only hit 60 degree AWA replace a genoa?  Most boats use a genoa upwind for all but the lightest of conditions.  Wouldn’t a CCZ cost pointing in lighter air?

A CCZ does not replace a genoa/jib for upwind work or sailing in higher winds. At about 60 degrees AWA, in light to moderate winds speeds and CCZ performs better than a big genoa, and MUCH better than a jib. If you sail close hauled or in much wind very often, then a CCZ won’t see much use.

Once you’re sailing across or downwind, won’t the fuller shape of the asymmetric be much better?  How about the fact that the asymmetricals luff can project a bit upwind when broad reaching?

Everything is a compromise: a big asymmetric is perfectly suited to broad reaching. The perfect range of angles is limited though. So if you know the voodoo chant that will put 15 knots of wind at 120 degrees AWA for every passage then you should 1) absolutely get an asymmetric 2) patent and sell that voodoo chant.

When you say that the asymmetric luff projects upwind, I think you’re referring to the positive luff “round” (curvature), which a CCZ also has. An asymmetric has lighter cloth and more area than a CCZ, meaning it’ll float better in lighter air and project easier going very far downwind. The flip side is that the upper end wind range is notably lower than that for a CCZ. Compromises!

Someone noted that they can point to 60 degrees with their asymmetric. I don’t dispute this, but wonder if 1) instruments are calibrated correctly 2) how much good the sail is doing because the sail shape and sailcloth are just not designed for that and 3) if they should try out as sail trimmer for the America’s Cup.

I’m still not clear on the difference between a Code Zero or CCZ, and a large genoa. 

  1. Code 0 and CCZ have free flying luff and can be hoisted/dropped/stowed while furled. A genoa cannot.
  2. A CCZ and a genoa cover a broad range of wind angles and moderate velocity range, whereas the true code 0 is racing sail with narrower range of wind angles/velocities.
  3. They differ in cloth used (weight/stretchiness/cost). A genoa uses the heaviest of the 3 sails because of higher loads sailing closer to the wind.
  4. Sail geometry differences: CCZ and Code 0 have positive luff/leech/foot round, though the CCZ’s is more conservative.
  5. Shape. Genoas are designed for efficiency close to the wind, thus and all other angles are a compromise. A Code 0 maximizes performance in a small range of conditions. CCZ , is similar to Code 0 but shaped to be easier to trim over a broader range.

Can you put a CCZ on a furler?


There are two furler types for free flying luff sails: continuous line furler and top down furler. A CCZ works with either type. A top down furler will also work with an asymmetric. I haven’t tried one yet, but they look very promising. Even though both furler types are easily stowed below with the sail, a CCZ can be made with UV protection with leech/foot strip of UV treated Dacron or Titanium Dioxide film or a protective, zip-on sock.

This sounds too hard for a singlehander: they need simple setups. Shouldn’t they just have a larger regular headsail?

In uncrowded water and the open ocean, it shouldn’t be any more difficult to handle a CCZ on a furler than a typical genoa on a furler. It may be prudent to douse downwind sails at night, but that’s a personal choice. Still, most cruising miles are day hops, not extended overnight passages, so it isn’t much of a consideration.

A “larger regular headsail” is versatile, covering close hauled to poled out DDW, but not so effective in most of that range. Broad reaching in 12 knots true, a typical 40+’ cruiser will make about 4 knots with a headsail and 5 to 6 with a CCZ or asymmetric. That’s 10 to 30 miles more in just 10 hours of daylight sailing. Over a longer passage, the time saved can really add up. We don’t mind long passages, but there is a safety benefit with better speed.

I’m ready for a CCZ!

If you’re in the market for a CCZ or any sails, Jamie would love to work with you. He’s collaborating with a New Zealand sailmaker to build great sails, shipped anywhere in the world. His expertise can benefit you, and your orders help us keep cruising. Not in the market, but just have questions about sails? Feel free to get in touch and Ask the Sailmaker. And, thank you!

Code Awesome readers know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

No Child Left Dry

Fri, 2014-08-15 17:21

By Kimball Livingston Posted August 15, 2014

Dr. Sylvia Earle’s prescription for engaging the next generation to save the ocean that supports all life:

“No child left dry.”

In her own case, moving to the Gulf Coast of Florida as a child, and later discovering the early films of Jacque Cousteau, opened the floodgates to a passion that just won’t quit. As Earle puts it, the Cousteau footage, “inspired me to want to see fish swimming in something other than lemon sauce and butter.”

This comes up because the new Netflix documentary, Mission Blue, was screened recently in San Francisco at the Bay Institute’s Aquarium of the Bay and is now part of the library at Netflix.

The much-admired former head scientist of NOAA—she quit, she says, because she could see the evidence of disasters to come, but was politically muzzled when it came to sounding an alarm—took the stage after the screening for Q&A. If you know Sylvia Earle’s work and writing, you know the basic message. It’s not too late to course-correct. But it is absolutely necessary to course-correct.

Me, I’ve seen dead coral reefs with my own eyes. Still, it was shocking in this movie—co-directed by Fisher Stevens and Robert Nixon—to see the footage of a 1,000-mile voyage out from Australia to the Coral Sea and to find it dead and all-but fish free.

Introduced as someone who has spent 6,500 hours under the sea, Earle smiled and said, “A little more than that.” As to the problem before us all, Earle noted that we have used fossil fuels to “power our way” to a moment when we are able to see the big picture for the first time. For example, in early September there will be a meeting of the heads of state of forty island nations, “countries that have big, blue backyards who have been selling out for cheap, licensing industrial fishing, in real terms burning through their real capital. The sharks are disappearing, and the real economy of each of these countries is tourism, because people come to see the sharks. A lot of leaders are waking up to this. It’s taken just a few decades to unravel what it took 4.5 billion years to create. Take the ocean away from earth, and you have Mars . . .

“The phytoplankton in the ocean generates oxygen, and a billion years ago, there wasn’t enough phytoplankton to generate enough oxygen to support the likes of us. Now there is, but phytoplankton populations are down 40 percent . . .

“In the last few years agencies have begun to grant licenses to exploit the high seas. That’s a global commons. It belongs to you. It belongs to us. We should explore before we exploit. There has to be a value placed on marine wildlife that is alive. Right now, fish are free until they’re dead . . .

“Taking into account our 200-mile economic zone, 55 percent of the United States is under water . . .

“There are now 500 dead zones in the ocean . . .

“No other state has done what California has done by way of creating marine sanctuaries, and already we see fish populations recovering in those protected reserves . . .


“We have to make peace with the earth.”

So went the evening. It was a pleasure to hear Her Deepness, as her fans call her, on a roll, and always a pleasure to share time with a cause of the Bay Institute. Their catchline: From the Sierra to the Sea. What they’ve done with that aquarium on Pier 39 is something special.


Fri, 2014-08-15 11:46

I spent some time last year installing new “disc springs” on the two Andersen primary winches in Lunacy‘s cockpit. At that time I knew I should have also taken the trouble to clean and grease those winches, but I have exceptional procrastination skills and so managed to talk myself out of it. This season, however, the winches were screaming so loudly every time I turned them, I knew I could no longer forestall the inevitable.

Servicing winches is definitely a chore and can be a bit time-consuming if you do it properly. But it is also a pleasant job, so long as you do it carefully and deliberately and don’t rush through it.

In the photo up top you see the few things I assembled beforehand to take care of my winches: a plastic bowl for retaining parts as they are removed; an Allen key set (needed for this particular type of winch to remove the top and some bits inside); some lamp fuel (used here as a cleaning solvent); a tin cup for cleaning parts in; an old toothbrush to clean parts with; some WD-40 (used here in lieu of light oil); Lewmar winch grease (a known reliable grease product); a can of spray-on lithium grease (an experimental product); and a roll of paper towels for managing the mess.

When you’re a novice tearing a winch down for the first time it can seem a bit intimidating, but really there’s nothing very tricky about it. All winches come apart differently, but the variations are fairly limited. Once you’re familiar with one type you won’t find anything too confounding in the other types.

Step one is to remove the winch drum, which always involves undoing something at the top of the winch. On these Andersen winches (mine date back to 1998) there are four Allen screws. Sometimes you’ll see simple screws. Often (I know Lewmar winches are always like this) you’ll find big a circlip around the winch-handle socket that holds everything in place. To remove such a circlip, just pry it off carefully with the tip of a straight-edge screwdriver.

Having removed the fasteners (or fastener) on top of the winch, you can then pull off the drum. When dealing with an unknown winch, you should always do this very carefully, as on some winches there are spring-loaded pawls that directly engage the base of the drum inside. If you pull the drum off quickly, those pawls may jump loose and go flying God-knows-where, and it can be a major pain if you lose one or, worse, its spring. On this Andersen winch there are no pawls engaging the drum, so you can yank them right off.

One unique feature on these Andersens is that the central stem comes off. It too is fastened with Allen screws. On most winches the stem is an integral part of the winch body and any roller-bearing races slip right on to it. With these winches you need to take the stem off to both remove the main bearing race and to pull apart the gears underneath.

This is where things get a little tricky. In the base of the winch body you’ll find different sets of gears. In some winches, as on these Andersens, the gears are secured with removable vertical axles that you can pull out with the winch body fixed in place. On others you have to remove the winch body from the deck to access the gears, which is a decidedly inferior design.

Frankly, when shopping for winches this is my one major criteria–I want to be able to fully service the winch without dismounting it.

In this case you’ll see there are three sets of gears, one of which (in the very upper part of the photo) is secured with yet another Allen screw. To keep from getting confused, you should if possible treat each gear assembly separately. Take one apart, clean and lubricate it, then put it back together and reinstall it before moving on to the next one. If you pull them all apart and service them all together at the same time you’ll find it much harder to remember which gears go where.

Here you see one of the Andersen gear assemblies removed and how there are gears within gears to retain the pawls.

Here’s the same gear assembly in pieces getting cleaned up with lamp fuel. Even when dealing with these smaller pieces, you can easily lose a pawl spring, so it pays to move slowly and carefully. (It’s also a good idea to have some spare springs and pawls handy just in case.) I’m using lamp fuel here because it was the only light solvent I happened to have onboard at the time. Diesel oil, kerosene, gasoline, acetone, etc., will all work too. Lamp fuel is nice because it’s not very harsh. Using something more aggressive like acetone on plastic parts, like those seen here, might actually be bad idea.

Here I am putting the gear assembly back together after cleaning and lubricating it. I used WD-40 on the pawls. Any light lubricating oil is good, but you shouldn’t use grease, as it could eventually cause the pawls to get sticky. All the other parts should be greased, however. I ended up using the Lewmar winch grease, as the spray-on lithium stuff was too weird and messy. You should go light with the grease. You need less than you think to get the job done, and if you lay it on too thick things may get gummed up once the grease gets cold and/or dirty.

After disassembling and servicing each of the three gear assemblies in turn, I turned to the biggest internal moving part–the central spindle that rotates inside the stem. This is where there’s the most friction, so it’s important to clean the spindle and the interior of the stem carefully. This is also the one place where it doesn’t hurt to go a little heavy (but not too heavy!) on the grease. When greasing the bearings, however, (in this case you see one fixed set of ball bearings and a removable set of roller bearings) you should go very light on the grease, as these parts can get sticky easily.

After cleaning and servicing the spindle and stem as well as the bearings, I had the winch all back together in no time. As long you don’t do the gears all at once, as I mentioned, it’s not at all hard to remember what goes where.

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