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METS 2014: AIS MOB, Class A N2K, Torqeedo app, Wave WiFi router & more

Wed, 2014-11-26 13:00

Written by Kees Verruijt on Nov 26, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Last week there were two Panbots roaming the annual Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS) floor. Henning Dürr and Kees Verruijt were there trying to find (some) of what was new and interesting. This first entry focuses on vendors that Henning visited.

AIS MOB and SART with DSC
AIS MOB devices were once called Personal AIS SARTs and are the baby brothers to commercial lifeboat AIS SARTs, but with lower requirements for range and operating hours. The advantage is that they can be made smaller, small enough to be carried by individuals. Since both device classes are relatively new, older displays capable of AIS targeting don’t necessarily handle this type of AIS well (good behaviour illustrated here). Additionally AIS MOB beacons are not yet part of the official GMDSS, so officially the world wide SAR operations do not need to react to them and/or may not have the equipment to use them. Ocean Signal and Weathercock showed new models with a DSC twist that aims to fix this — as was discussed here on Panbo in 2012.

Two new AIS MOB devices were shown at METS, the Ocean Signal rescueME MOB1 (in photo above) and the Weatherdock easyONE (below). Both are smaller but not significantly smaller than the previous contender, the McMurdo Smartfind S20 (first marketed and discussed here as the Kannad Safelink R10), with the Ocean Signal being the new champion. Both new units feature an antenna that is tightly coiled and will be mechanically released when activated.

The Ocean Signal and the McMurdo/Kannad MOBs are designed to clip to the oral inflation tube of a life vest and feature a cord that goes around the uninflated bladder and connects back to the unit. When the life vest is activated, the activating strip or clip is pulled away from the unit by the force exerted on the cord by the inflating bladder. I like this method as it allows fitting to pretty much any existing automatic lifejacket. As far as I can see, most boaters still don’t regularly wear life jackets while at sea and this design is also a sort of encouragement. What is the point of an AIS SART if you aren’t even wearing a life vest? (I’m not a regular wearer myself — yet — but I guess I should be.) The Weatherdock is activated either manually via a pull-cord or by water contact. All three should fit easily under the cover of a standard inflatable life vest.

The Ocean Signal MOB1 adds a DSC feature whereby an individual distress call is made directly to your own boat (your MMSI is programmed by a PC program communicating with the unit held to the computer screen via flickering light). This helps if your MFD does know how to display an AIS SART or does not have a MOB alarm. A DSC VHF radio will ring reliably without special provisions or software upgrades. Then, in a second step, if you are conscious, the MOB1 lets you issue an all ships DSC distress call by pressing a button. In either case, it seems that the Ocean Signal device only sends out a single DSC distress call because it only has DSC transmit abilities and thus can not receive a DSC acknowledgement, but we are checking on this detail.

Weatherdock also has an AIS SART with DSC capabilities, the easyRESCUE-PRO GMDSS, of which 10,000 units were sold to the German navy. This unit does include a fully compliant DSC controller, so it repeatedly calls your own vessel for 5 minutes unless acknowledged (called “closed loop”) and then automatically switches to all vessel mode until acknowledged (“open loop”). But the easyRescue-Pro can not be installed in a standard life vest, instead requiring one with a special pocket like the Secumar model used by the German navy.

So there’s still no ideal AIS DSC MOB device yet, in my opinion, and never mind integration with a PLB into a single unit. Stuff for next year’s METS – or the one after that?

Class A AIS transceivers
They are not new but I wanted to learn more about the two Class A transceiver designs that seem suited for the owners of smaller leisure boats who want to transmit their vessel data at faster rates and/or greater range (not due to the fear of big ships routinely filtering out that class B targets, because that myth has been laid to rest in my opinion). In Germany, Class A is required for vessels 20 meters or more in length. The authorities for the Kiel Canal, for example, enforce this rule and bigger yachts equipped with Class B must rent a Class A unit in order to be allowed into the canal.

There are two Class A designs that are fairly compact, cost under $3,000, and advertise a NMEA 2000 interface. I’ve learned, however, that the SRT-based model sold as the ComNav Voyager and others never got the software needed for N2K output/input even though the feature was first advertised in 2010! Meanwhile, the AMEC Camino 701 transponder, also sold as the McMurdo Smartfind M5, can output NMEA 2000 target info but can not use N2K heading input, even though heading is required with Class A. In consequence, a converter like the ubiquitous Actisense NGW-1 may be needed with either unit on N2K yachts. At METS I became aware that the Comnav (and probably others) will need not one but two NGW-1s as the NMEA0183 heading input is at 4.8kbps and the AIS output at 38.4kbps. The NGW-1 allows simultaneous input and output but both must be at the same baud rate (since it provides a single RS422 port with a TX and a RX pin).

The AMEC/McMurdo unit uses an external breakout box to provide all connections including the N2K connector but I was told the box does not do NMEA0183-to-2000 conversion. At AMEC I talked to an engineer who understood my request, though he claimed that it was the first time he’d heard it. He considered it likely that NMEA 2000 input for heading data could be added via a software upgrade. But no such feature upgrade is planned yet, it would be considered on special request, and it might turn out to be impossible because of incompatibility with the existing set of functions. NMEA 2000 support would not be added for other data that can be input such as rate of turn.

So in essence, the two Class A transcievers that are attractively sized and priced have “some issues” for use on yachts with NMEA 2000 networks. Then there are experts, including Anders Bergström of True Heading and Kees who don’t think the 12W vs. 2W difference will make a significant difference in range. Both would invest in a better and higher antenna, excellent cable and the fewest possible connectors instead. So I guess I’ll ponder that question for a while longer.

Torqeedo
An updated battery is planned for the 503/1003 models, to be offered from February 2015. This improved battery will allow faster charging with the standard charger and even when charging directly from a 12V source (a boat’s house battery). It also includes a USB port so the battery can charge USB devices when it’s disconnected from the motor (the battery essentially becomes a mobile USB charger with enormous capacity). This change is in the battery only. They will also offer an improved solar charger that can be folded flat, not rolled, will have better performance and will cost about half of the existing solar charger. The current production software has already been modified to allow more abuse, such as shifting from full forward directly to full reverse without shutting down due to the infamous E45 error.

They are also releasing a new Torq Trac app for smartphones. They claim it will work with all phones equipped with Bluetooth 4.0, but the apps are not available yet on any app store. It will also require a Bluetooth dongle that fits between the tiller control and motor.

Wave WiFi Router
I spoke with Exmoor Technology, the the UK distributor for Wave WiFi, who now supply a router with integrated 3G/4G modem. They also have a MBR4G kit that combines the router with a long range Rogue Pro Wifi bridge.

Compare this approach with the WebBoat 4G all-in-one Ben has just covered. I looked at the WebBoat 4G closely and, as expected, it uses standard indoor components and connectors in a dome that I don’t consider waterproof, as perhaps you can see in my photo below.

I see a number of reasons to use a combination of individual components vs. an all-in-one approach and this is what I have done on my boat (a deeper discussion might follow in a future entry).
The MBR4G is sort of an intermediate step in that it combines the 3G/4G cellular modem with the onboard WiFi router but leaves out the WLAN bridge which is intended to be provided by the Wave WiFi Rogue or Rogue Pro. When I asked about the potential for obsolescence of the modem, I was told the router could potentially be upgraded with a new modem as this is a standard component (by Sierra) that connects to the router board via a header. This design will also allow the planned US version to use a different modem as some 3G/4G frequencies are different. The antenna on the unit looks to be much better performing than the internal antenna of a thumb-drive-style USB cellular modem.

Talking about obsolescence and speed of updates, the MBR4G will be succeeded in a few months by a faster version that will also feature dual 3G/4G (MIMO) antennas and a micro USB connector so a thumb drive or external hard disk can be shared via SMB or FTP similar to a NAS.

Radio over IP
Icom now offers five different products around “RoIP” (Radio over IP). The IP100H handset looks like a small VHF but is actually a WLAN client using VoIP. There are matching base stations (access points) as well as control stations and concentrators. The design is intended to cover applications inside buildings or with other problems hampering direct device-to-device radio communication and utilizing proven WLAN technology to work around these problems.

Asking about a marine application, they pointed to super yachts. There’s that. I think it will be a while before my wife and I need this to communicate on our boat. [Kees: one advantage over VHF is privacy as WiFi provides encryption. Of course range and reliability are much lower.]

Android 7-inch Android MFD
Argonaut showed an early prototype of a new “H7 Marina Smart MFD” which is like an Android tablet made into a fixed 7-inch MFD with a high-bright screen and hardware buttons that allow full control of the Navionics charting app. The display on show, while very bright, had strange downsampling artifacts which seemed the exact opposite of “crisp.” George Kioutas, president, said this would be fixed in the final product. As it uses capacitive touch, like all smartphones, it will have problems with water droplets. To be able to make full use of the hardware buttons in that case, I think it should have a button to turn off the touch function. George Kioutas more or less agreed. We will see if some such function ends up in the final product. But note this is an early prototype (with 3D-printed faceplate).

Windex LED light
Windex will release a night light using three LEDs in a smallish triangular case with a hole in the middle that fits over the Windex main pole. There was an incandescent light available which I passed by as it was in no way waterproof and would have been too hard to replace/fix as to make it worthwhile. This looks much better. Kees: I can confirm that the ‘old’ version breaks down pretty soon.

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

Podast: Carib1500 Sailors Frank & Patty Fabian

Tue, 2014-11-25 00:02

Frank & Patty Fabian are the philosophical opposites of last week’s guests, Ted & Claudia Reshetiloff. But their story is no less inspiring. Where Ted & Claudia packed up their working lives, yanked their young kids out of school and set off for new lives in the Caribbean, Frank & Patty took a more deliberate route. Learning the ropes for 17 years on their Catalina 30, they taught themselves ocean sailing, worked hard and saved harder, and finally bought a Leopard 48 catamaran – for cash – to set off with the Caribbean 1500 rally and realize a nearly lifelong dream. 

Newly retired, the Fabian’s told me their story from the luxurious cabin of Sunsplash. And you can sail with them! Visit sailsunsplash.com to book a crewed charter with Frank & Patty in the Virgin Islands (I didn’t even know they were running a business on the boat until halfway through this conversation!). As an aside, they offer some very simple yet GREAT financial advice within for those looking to follow in their footsteps, young or old.

Want to go ocean sailing with Andy? Sign up for an offshore passage at 59-north.com/events.

STANLEY PARIS: Record-Breaking Non-Stop Solo Circumnavigation, Take Two

Mon, 2014-11-24 20:56

Let the record reflect (no pun intended) that on November 9, just one day after I finally departed Bermuda aboard Lunacy, Dr. Stanley Paris left Fort Lauderdale on his second attempt to circle the globe non-stop aboard his fancy custom performance-cruising sled Kiwi Spirit. I’m not really sure how I feel about this. I mean, I think it’s great he’s trying again, but I’m not sure I’m interested in the voyage. What I am, frankly, is a little annoyed that Dr. Paris has never given us a coherent account of what went wrong on his last attempt. I don’t see how he can expect us to follow his exploits when he doesn’t bother to tell us what’s really going on.

Check out my last post on Paris and you’ll see I went to a great deal of trouble trying to piece together what happened before he abandoned take one of his voyage in January of this year. The short version is: a) he damaged his boom in an accidental jibe (seems like user error); b) he ruined his staysail furler after a spinnaker halyard wrapped around it (evidently more user error); c) the pin securing the staysail stay to the deck somehow came loose (presumably gear failure); and d) he somehow injured himself, perhaps more than once. None of this was directly explained to us, and there were lots of unanswered questions about when, why, and how it all came to pass. So far the good doctor hasn’t seen fit to address any of them.

Jury-rigged staysail stay attachment

Wasted staysail furler

His goals remain the same. Paris wants to set a record for oldest non-stop solo circumnavigator (he is presently 77), he wants to break Dodge Morgan’s record time for a non-stop circumnavigation starting in Bermuda (150 days), he wants to set a record for a non-stop circumnavigation starting from Fort Lauderdale (his will be the first), and he wants to be the first to circumnavigate non-stop while burning zero hydrocarbons. To meet his second criteria, as he did the first time, he sailed from Fort Lauderdale north around Bermuda (this time he rounded on November 16) before turning south toward the Southern Ocean.

These are seemingly worthy objectives, though the “green voyage” one does strike me as bizarre. Burning hydrocarbons up the wazoo to build a very sophisticated energy-intensive boat and then struggling to keep the batteries up not burning any more hydrocarbons while sailing around the world running stuff like power winches, electronic autopilots, and water-ballast pumps doesn’t really prove anything, in my opinion. A true green voyage would be aboard a boat that was both built and sailed without burning hydrocarbons, and such a boat would necessarily be much, much simpler than Kiwi Spirit.

Again, as was the case last time, the most interesting bits in Paris’s early accounts of his voyage so far involve the status of his electrical system. Reading his most recent blog post, I was amused to see that his hydro-generators were clogged by the same Sargasso weed that tormented me on my passage to St. Maarten and that his batteries almost went flat as a result. Otherwise, his posts have been mostly anodyne and boring with little real information in them.

The man with the plan. But relevant facts are shared only on a need-to-know basis

How can Dr. Paris expect us to pay attention to his voyage if he isn’t willing to document it properly? I’m actually beginning to think he doesn’t care if we pay attention. He has these personal goals he wants to achieve, and someone told him he has to maintain a website, a blog, a YouTube channel, and a Facebook page while pursuing them, so that’s what he’s doing, but it seems his heart really isn’t in it.

The publicity, I mean. I’m sure he feels strongly about the voyage. Probably the best thing we can do is ignore him and let him get on with it.

STANLEY PARIS: Record-Breaking Non-Stop Solo Circumnavigation, Take Two

Mon, 2014-11-24 20:56

Let the record reflect (no pun intended) that on November 9, just one day after I finally departed Bermuda aboard Lunacy, Dr. Stanley Paris left Fort Lauderdale on his second attempt to circle the globe non-stop aboard his fancy custom performance-cruising sled Kiwi Spirit. I’m not really sure how I feel about this. I mean, I think it’s great he’s trying again, but I’m not sure I’m interested in the voyage. What I am, frankly, is a little annoyed that Dr. Paris has never given us a coherent account of what went wrong on his last attempt. I don’t see how he can expect us to follow his exploits when he doesn’t bother to tell us what’s really going on.

Check out my last post on Paris and you’ll see I went to a great deal of trouble trying to piece together what happened before he abandoned take one of his voyage in January of this year. The short version is: a) he damaged his boom in an accidental jibe (seems like user error); b) he ruined his staysail furler after a spinnaker halyard wrapped around it (evidently more user error); c) the pin securing the staysail stay to the deck somehow came loose (presumably gear failure); and d) he somehow injured himself, perhaps more than once. None of this was directly explained to us, and there were lots of unanswered questions about when, why, and how all this came to pass. So far the good doctor hasn’t seen fit to answer any of them.

Jury-rigged staysail stay attachment

Wasted staysail furler

His goals remain the same. Paris wants to set a record for oldest non-stop solo circumnavigator (he is presently 77), he wants to break Dodge Morgan’s record time for a non-stop circumnavigation starting in Bermuda (150 days), he wants to set a record for a non-stop circumnavigation starting from Fort Lauderdale (his will be the first), and he wants to be the first to circumnavigate non-stop while burning zero hydrocarbons. To meet his second criteria, as he did the first time, he sailed from Fort Lauderdale north around Bermuda (this time he rounded on November 16) before turning south toward the Southern Ocean.

These are seemingly worthy objectives, though the “green voyage” one does strike me as bizarre. Burning hydrocarbons up the wazoo to build a very sophisticated energy-intensive boat and then struggling to keep the batteries up not burning any more hydrocarbons while sailing around the world running stuff like power winches, electronic autopilots, and water-ballast pumps doesn’t really prove anything, in my opinion. A true green voyage would be aboard a boat that was both built and sailed without burning hydrocarbons, and such a boat would necessarily be much, much simpler than Kiwi Spirit.

Again, as was the case last time, the most interesting bits in Paris’s early accounts of his voyage so far involve the status of his electrical system. Reading his most recent blog post, I was amused to see that his hydro-generators were clogged by the same Sargasso weed that tormented me on my passage to St. Maarten and that his batteries almost went flat as a result. Otherwise, his posts have been mostly anodyne and boring with little real information in them.

The man with the plan. But relevant facts are shared only on a need-to-know basis

How can Dr. Paris expect us to pay attention to his voyage if he isn’t willing to document it properly? I’m actually beginning to think he doesn’t care if we pay attention. He has these personal goals he wants to achieve, and someone told him he has to maintain a website, a blog, a YouTube channel, and a Facebook page while pursuing them, so that’s what he’s doing, but it seems his heart really isn’t in it.

The publicity, I mean. I’m sure he feels strongly about the voyage. Probably the best thing we can do is ignore him and let him get on with it.

The View from Team Alvimedica

Mon, 2014-11-24 16:55

Amory Ross is the media guy aboard Team Alvimedica in the Volvo Ocean Race, and Amory is drawing kudos for this shot of the proceedings.

I like the pic.

I knew him when.

During the 2007 America’s Cup in Valencia, Amory was a talented kid looking to get his nose in. When Ford had a media day at the local race track, we got our hands on a then-new Mondeo and quickly proved that it wasn’t the car we really wanted for playing on the track. But you take what you can get.

This is Amory at the wheel . . .

I asked at the time, what’s wrong with this picture? Well, for one thing, the stands are empty, and for another, the guy in front of us is on his frikkin’ brakes.

One of our group managed to overcook a turn in fairly-dramatic fashion and he got us all redflagged. I missed the action shot, but if you’ve seen one Ford Mondeo with the rubber off the rims, up to the axles in gravel, you’ve seen’em all.

Now Amory and Alvimedica are deep into their ocean adventure, and I’m remembering what an adventure it was to have time to discover Spain in 2007. I’m sure they make paella just like this in Bermuda—Kimball

Once More, the New Normal

Mon, 2014-11-24 13:35

All around top competitors Billy Besson and Matthieu Vandame join forces with Flying Phantom catamarans and show off the product.

Helmets, too are the new norm.

Fast foiling ride for Billy Besson and Matthieu Vandame from Jeremie Eloy/ Wanaii Films on Vimeo.

America’s Cup, Whither Away?

Mon, 2014-11-24 13:02

By Kimball Livingston Posted November 24, 2014

Apparently, it’s easy to cast stones at the Golden Gate Yacht Club, sixth trustee of America’s Cup, as we confront the prospect of a 35th defense to be sailed (apparently) outside US waters.

What? Not in the Alcatraz Channel, the spectators’ grand arena? With the big winds, the mountains and the backgrounds that the cameras just love? Right under the windows of GGYC? What are they thinking?

I’m pretty sure they’re thinking

Dammit.

Remember, GGYC back in the day had finance problems and —

GGYC in its moment of distress glommed onto the only lifeline in the water.

Now GGYC is in the boat.

Perhaps you remember, Life of Pi?

Rolling back a few years (eons?) I beat the drum hard for my home town, for AC-N-SF, and there’s no point pretending now that I’m anything but disappointed at the turn of events since September 25, 2013. I haven’t felt this jilted since that night in high school . . .

Anyhow, I have a mind that can entertain more than one notion at a time. There is the traditionalist in me that values the standards passed from the New York Yacht Club to the Royal Perth Yacht Club and then to San Diego Yacht Club, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and

[BOINK]

La Société Nautique de Genève wasn’t going to defend on a lake in Switzerland. So SNG went venue shopping and wound up in the south of Spain, in Valencia, and that was a process that had begun, if you follow the thread, with the Russell Coutts decision to leave New Zealand’s national team and go to work for a billionaire from Switzerland. Kiwis took that as a national betrayal. Coutts took it as an opportunity to move the ball for himself — and to shove the Cup toward a more professionalized state of play.

I’m pretty sure that SNG never told Ernesto Bertarelli how to build a team or where to defend the Cup or much of anything else.

Meanwhile, I belonged to a YC that was one of a handful that had been approached by Larry Ellison when he was looking for a burgee for his team to fly. And I for one was perfectly (almost) content that Ellison had instead settled on the club down the street. I’m an America’s Cup enthusiast, not an America’s Cup romantic, and I’ve seen the damage the Cup can do. Of course I’d love to see my club’s name etched into the great trophy of the sport, but I had a theory then that we’d be better off without it, doing the things that we do well. Looking back over the last fourteen years, I’d argue that the evidence backs the theory.

‘Tis a tangled web, and I have often asserted that the America’s Cup has outgrown itself, and outgrown the yacht club structure grandly embodied in the Deed of Gift.

Any organized Yacht Club of a foreign country, incorporated, patented, or licensed by the legislature, admiralty, or other executive department, having for its annual regatta an ocean water course on the sea, or on an arm of the sea, or one which combines both, shall always be entitled to the right of sailing a match of this Cup, with a yacht or vessel propelled by sails only and constructed in the country to which the Challenging Club belongs, against any one yacht or vessel constructed in the country of the Club holding the Cup.

Not for the first time, I observe that this, the signature event of our sport, often serves us badly. The tensions between the 19th century notion of a gentleman’s yachting contest and the 21st century realities of pro sports and spectacle are now tilted heavily toward spectacle, and except for perhaps a decade here or there over the span, there has never been anything like stability. No yacht club can, within itself, manage what Cup competition has become, but how can an independent body swim with the Deed of Gift around its ankle like a ball and chain? And resorting to the courts is the worst, but it has sometimes been necessary and —

It’s worth noting that the now-revered, then newly-knighted Sir Thomas Lipton, when he arrived in New York in 1899 for his first of five challenges, thoroughly irked the local power set when they discovered that he was there with a scheme to use the races to promote Lipton’s Tea.

A scheme that, we might observe, worked rather well. Lipton is remembered as the father of the modern PR campaign. You may have heard of Lipton’s Tea, and the San Diego Yacht Club recently hosted the celebratory Centennial Edition of Southern California’s Lipton Cup, one of those Holy Grail regattas that define regional competition.

Time moves on. Opinion moves on. In 1930, three decades after Lipton’s first challenge, as NYYC Commodore Mike Vanderbilt was girding himself to dispatch Shamrock V and Lipton’s final challenge, he expressed a great sadness on Lipton’s behalf. Vanderbilt felt the weight of it, and he wasn’t going to not defend the Cup, but he felt no jubilation in the moment. The meddling tradesman had become the grand old man.

Predicting the future of America’s Cup is not a safe enterprise. Never has been. But if, indeed, the match moves offshore on a commercial basis, this is not a sudden turn. It’s one more apron string severed. Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts have been telling us for years that their goal is to make Cup racing a commercially-viable professional sport with a revenue stream based in television.

Depending upon the individual, that concept is anathema, necessary and practical, or merely a dream.

Our boys took huge chances with the San Francisco America’s Cup and almost lost the farm. Toward the end of a Challenger Eliminations series that reached its nadir with the loss of Andrew Simpson, naval architect Bruce Nelson summed up Cup Summer, “Epic fail.”

Which made The Comeback all the more epic, while missing certain marks.

By a hair, Ellison and Coutts get more runway for their experiment.

It’s not outlandish to guess that AC35 is Rusell’s last dance. If, in Bermuda, he can best enrich his already well-lined pockets while securing a workable new future for the Cup, his personal legacy is secure. Since 1995 we have been living in the Russell Coutts era of America’s Cup. We just didn’t know it for a while.

If the experiment comes a’cropper, history will remember that, too.

* * *

True to Tom Blackaller’s prediction, when we got the America’s Cup to San Francisco Bay, we showed the world how good sailing can be.

Now, what a let down.

Could we even begin to get this across without a little help from Loony Tunes? Thank you, Mel Blanc. It’s a Daffy old world out there.

[Lead image cropped, with apologies, from a shot by Gilles Martin-Raget}

At the Fishing Competition

Sun, 2014-11-23 19:57

When I was eleven years old, a friend invited me up to her cottage one summer weekend. We had a great time – swimming in the lake, riding around in her dad´s motorboat, running around in the sunshine. And fishing. I´d never been fishing before, but I understood the basics: add worm to hook, drop in water, wait for bite then reel in. Pretty easy.

So my friend and I took our bait and our rods and plonked ourselves down at the end of the dock. The wooden boards were pleasantly warm beneath us. We dangled our feet over the edge, wormed up and threw in our lines.

It didn´t take long to get a nibble. Proud of my great accomplishment, I reeled in my line. There was a sunfish on the end of my hook. I grabbed the fishing glove – a studded green plastic thing that let me hold the fish without getting sliced on its spines. Out came the hook, and I threw my sunfish back in the water.

My friend and I kept fishing. She caught one, and back it went. I got another nibble. I reeled in another sunfish. I peered at it closely.
“I think this is the same fish,” I said. “Yes, look, you can see where the hook went through last time.” I threw my fish back in. Stupid fish. You would think getting a hook through the face twice in a row would take some of the fun away from eating a delicious worm.

But, no. The sunfish bit my hook again. And again. By now, the hook had emerged out the eye socket, and my poor sunfish was looking pretty grim. I threw him back, put down my rod, and retired from fishing forevermore. Unless I was going to eat the darn thing, I didn´t want to have anything to do with catching fish.

Twenty-five years later, fishing re-entered my life. The sport became fun again, because we on Papillon are strictly trollers – we throw out a line when we are a) sailing, and b) hungry. If we catch something, great. If not, it took no effort on our part.

But this weekend took me back to my first attempts on Rice Lake. It was Fishing Competition time on the island.

Normally, we would say a polite ´no, thank you´ to this sort of activity. Catching animals for fun just doesn´t fill me with the competitive spirit. But events intervened. A friend of ours has a new boat, and asked Erik to go along with him on Saturday. Fine. That makes for a fun day. And the competition organizers made the strategic decision to display all of the prizes behind the sign-up table on Friday night.

Indy beetled over to the racks of fishing rods and bait boxes. “Woooooooow,” she breathed, and I knew I was in trouble. “Oh, Mom, look!” She was caressing a tackle box that boasted 250 fishing-related widgets within. She gave me a determined look. “I want to win that tackle box. Let´s sign up for the kids´competiton. Please?”
I´m sure I made a face, because one of my friends leaned over and whispered, “It´s two hours on Saturday morning. The bus picks us up, they serve pancakes and ice cream, and you´ll be home by 10:30.”

Sold.

Stylish, however, was not so keen. “I do not want to get up early on a Saturday to go fishing,” she said. Her image flickered briefly as I saw the teenager she was to become. “No. I´m not going.”
“Yep. You´re going,” I said. I tried out the pancakes-and-ice-cream line that had worked so well on me. Stylish was unmoved. Lucky for me, she is still only ten and I can boss her around. She went.

We arrived at the pier at 8am. The sun was already punishing. We haven´t had a breath of wind this week, and the temperature regularly feels like it is in the low 40s C / 105-110 F. Indy was undeterred – she wanted that tackle box. Stylish remained annoyed with me, but was willing to give it a go, provided I stayed at least fifty feet away at all times. The price you pay.

Erik and the other grown-up competitors decided to stick around to watch/help/take over for the kids, which was fun. Indy immediately designated Dad as her underling.
“Come on, Dad, get that chicken on there and let´s get going!”

And she fished.

And she fished.

 And she fished.

The trouble was, Indy couldn´t stay still for a moment. She moved her line, she bobbed the rod, she walked back and forth on the pier. Any fish trying to eat her bait would have gotten too tired trying to catch her and given up. So poor Indy struck out.

Stylish was much more patient – not that it helped. I documented her efforts from my mandatory distance.

Late in the competition, Stylish was feeling friendlier towards me again, and I was invited to approach. She had abandoned fishing as a bad job, and was now using her hook to feed her bait to the shy crabs that lined the pier.
The crabs loved the chicken, and Stylish was far more entertained by them than by the elusive fish.

A few kids got lucky over the course of the morning. One four-year-old reeled in a stonefish. Thankfully she didn´t get stung – stonefish are nasty creatures. We always wear watershoes to avoid them.
Don´t step on me or you will be very sorry.

A pancake, an ice cream and many bottles of water later, we sent the adult competitors off to do their thing. The girls were a little glum that they hadn´t caught anything, but I was just as happy I hadn´t had to removed hooks from any fishy eyeballs.

Erik came home at dusk, covered in fish blood. There is a fillet at our friends´ house with our name on it. They didn´t win the competition, but it was a good day on the water. Indy gave her tackle box a last, loving pat at the awards dinner in the park yesterday, and now we have a piece of fish to enjoy one night this week. Sounds good enough to me.

San Francisco’s America’s Cup, the Legacy

Fri, 2014-11-21 16:06

By Kimball Livingston Posted November 21, 2014

There are forces afoot that, if the rumors (AC in Bermuda, 2017) are correct

And even if they’re wrong

Take to a new level

The old phrase, flag of convenience.

Not to name names.

And that picture doesn’t quite get it. Must keep searching.

And —

The triumph that the San Francisco America’s Cup competition became in its final few days never fully made up for years of high promises made along the cityfront, especially, but also to citizens’ groups citywide keen to pitch in, keen to build partnerships, keen to do the hard work to create the touted legacies sure to grow out of the the world’s greatest sailing event in the world’s greatest sailing venue.

In the aftermath, even as San Francisco rode high on memories of the incredible comeback of US-17, there was a muted, widespread deflation at the gap between the legacy programs the America’s Cup Event Authority offered to the community, and the near nothing that it delivered.

Muted because, briefly, there was the expectation that, next time, we’ll get it right.

In 2014, the lucky locals are those few who can make use of the various chunks of carbon being chucked out of Pier 80.

And —

(Somebody has to say it)

I finally found it. The legacy summed up in a single image.

Chopped liver.

* * * * * * * *

Now, have we finally turned that oft-discussed corner and stepped down the road toward having a Commissioner of America’s Cup Yachting, or an equivalent by a different name? The signature event of the sport continues to be its untamed problem child and I wonder, when was the last time that Russell Coutts, CEO of Oracle Racing, sat down with the full Board of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, sixth trustee of America’s Cup?

On December 2nd in NYC the America’s Cup Event Authority announces the venue selection for the 35th America’s Cup.

11:30 am – 2:00pm
The Crosby Hotel and Screening Room
79 Crosby St, Manhattan, NY 10012

By invitation only.

Strangers at Sea

Fri, 2014-11-21 14:40

Video Feature: Two Men Cross the Atlantic, Sailing Together for the First Time

by Chris Museler

Chris Museler’s excellent documentary on the double-handed New York-Barcelona Race came out today on the New York Times. “You’re the first to get the link,” says Chris. What follows is the complete documentary that Chris filmed and helped produced. It was the first time someone had documented a double-handed race as such. Hear Chris talk about the experience on the podcast by clicking here. Thanks to the NY Times for letting us run this. Click here for the original piece.

Ryan Breymaier is hardly known outside the national sailing community. In the port cities Barcelona and Les Sables-d’Olonne, France, he is recognized as a skipper of some of the most challenging racing sailboats in the world.

Breymaier’s training and ambitions are aimed at the Vendée Globe, a solo, nonstop, round-the-world race held every four years. He is the first American in a generation to be considered a threat to the French stranglehold on that race and on the Barcelona World Race, the nonstop double-handed race on the same track.

Pepe Ribes of Spain, a decorated America’s Cup and ocean-racing sailor, shares Breymaier’s ambitions.

In June, Breymaier and Ribes took major steps toward fulfilling their solo sailing hopes by winning the International Monohull Open Class Association Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race.

An unlikely match, the two were thrown together on a boat that was purchased only months before. On the delivery to New York from Europe, the mast broke; the two sailors wound up waiting until the start of the race to work together as a double-handed team.

They proceeded to cross the Atlantic Ocean on a 60-foot monohull, one of five boats in the competition.

“We wound up racing hundreds of 15-minute races all the way across, with each one putting more pressure on us,” Ribes said.

Conditions in the New York to Barcelona Race included drifting, 40-knot winds and breaking waves. Only three of the five starters finished the race.

The Ocean Masters founder, Sir Keith Mills, authorized a reporter to chronicle the race from aboard the boats. Only three of the five participating boats agreed to offer a spot.

Podcast: Across the North Sea, Pt. 3

Fri, 2014-11-21 00:03

This is Part 3 of Andy & Mia’s last big offshore passage on Arcturus from 2012, when they sailed direct to Sweden from Scotland. If you missed Parts 1 & 2, it was last  the last two Friday episodes, so you’ll want to hear these in order.

Thanks to the Blaggards for the music! Check them out at blaggards.com.

Want to come ocean sailing with Andy? New passages for 2015 announced on a Shnnon 43 ketch, a Swan 57 and a trip to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on Sojourner! Visit 59-north.com/events for details and to register.

2014 SOUTHBOUND LUNACY: Goodness Gracious Great Mats of Weed!

Thu, 2014-11-20 22:12

As I had expected, we encountered mostly headwinds after we finally left Bermuda bound for St. Maarten on the morning of Saturday, November 8. Even worse, early on in the passage, when our headwinds were most vigorous, we spent about a day and a half pounding our brains out sailing continuously in the wrong direction. The photo up top says it all. When voyaging south, you do NOT want to see your bow pointed at the sunrise with deep reefs in your mainsail. This never smells like progress and is very bad for crew morale. At first, as skipper, I felt rather virtuous, getting all my easting in early in the game, regardless of the pain, but then later I got nervous. I started wondering: what if we NEVER get a chance to turn south?

By the time our chance finally did come, on Monday afternoon, when a weak squall line at last decelerated the wind and bent it a little in our favor, we had sailed east about 185 miles since leaving Bermuda and were actually 90 miles east of the longitude of St. Maarten, our putative destination. And, of course, all that squall line really did was allow us to motorsail toward the south, but we were by then so tired of getting beat up going in the wrong direction that this seemed like a great blessing.

Alas, it was a blessing that wore thin, as we had to do a great deal of motoring to get anywhere. Thankfully, we did have two streaks of good luck, on Tuesday and Wednesday, when the wind veered and strengthened enough that we were able to sail without the engine for several hours heading more or less toward our goal at a good rate of speed. Otherwise we had the engine running most of the time until we were below 22 degrees north latitude, where we at last picked up the trades, which were weak and blowing mostly from the southeast. In all we spent almost 80 hours with the engine running on this leg of the trip, which is the most time I’ve ever spent motoring on any passage I’ve made aboard Lunacy.

Sailing south at last, with some help from the screecher, seen here flying in tandem with the staysail

But we knew the wind was going to be uncooperative when we left Bermuda. So we couldn’t really complain too much about that. What we hadn’t counted on were the great nasty clumps of Sargasso weed that we encountered. Bits of the stuff started showing up here and there early on, and as we got further and further south the islands of weed just kept getting bigger and bigger.

We have seen the enemy, and it looks like this

Finally, on Saturday, our last full day offshore, the mats were so big they were choking the rudder. On three occasions, once that afternoon and twice during the night, there was so much weed caught on the rudder skeg our speed was almost cut in half and we couldn’t really steer properly. To put things right again we had to roll up the headsail and stop the boat each time so the weed could fall off.

It really did seem that the ocean did not want Lunacy to go south this year. But we did get there in the end and arrived early Sunday morning, almost eight days after leaving Bermuda.

Eggs! We must have eggs! Peter “Egg Man” Nielsen insisted on bringing a large supply

See? I told you Luke could eat 50!

Phil “No Targets” Cavanaugh finally spots one dead ahead

Sunset clouds to the east

Sunset clouds to the west (same sunset)

Thursday was laundry day. The reason Phil looks clean is because we humans bathed too, and reveled in fresh-water washdowns up forward on the bow. This was probably the most pleasurable part of the whole trip

At last on Saturday, our last day out, we were able to crack off the sheets a bit

Lunacy‘s home base this winter is at Captain Oliver’s Marina, in Oyster Pond, which is on both the Dutch and French sides of the island. She was last here six winters ago and is very happy to be back.

And it seems the iguanas are happy to have her back.

Inspect your sails: identifying UV damaged cloth

Thu, 2014-11-20 19:35


A dependable suit of sails to carry you towards the horizon is the basic tool of every cruiser. I’m sharing more of Jamie’s expertise as a sailmaker on the blog: most recently, about how to check the stitching in sails for UV damage.  This time- he’s going to tell you how to evaluate the cloth.

Jamie often checks sails on the boats we’re with. The cruising boats we meet in Southeast Asia have often done hard miles, but you don’t have to cross an ocean to have sailcloth damaged by UV exposure. He’d like to empower sailors with the right information to check their own to avoid an unpleasant days on the water, or worse.

Sailmaker says

Testing sailcloth for UV damage is not as obvious as the thread test, but should give you a good idea of condition before running off to a sail loft.

Kite’s main looks great at a distance, but inspection showed a few problems: UV and hinge points were factors.

Torn cloth

Sails tear for a variety of reasons, and any tear is a perfect opportunity to test for UV damage. Simply, tear at the existing damage (just a little!). Easily torn cloth is likely rotten. If it tears, but not so easily, then it may have some damage. Of course, 5 ounce cloth is delicate compared to 9 ounce cloth, so account for the relative strength of each cloth weight. If there is no convenient rip to tear into, then checking for UV damage is more of a look and feel inspection.

Light testing

Stretch the sail out, ideally on a sunny day. Lift the sail to walk/crouch underneath it and look to the sky, through the cloth. Light coming through sailcloth will show differently where the cloth is thinned from UV damage, wear, and fatigue. With use, plastics used in sailcloth to bind the weave and add bias stability break down. Hard creases will be obvious (more light shining through), indicating weakened cloth, though that doesn’t necessarily mean a problem. Look and feel if cloth is thinned, has pinholes of light shining through, has a softer hand than surrounding cloth, or has a rougher texture. These symptoms suggest more damage and a lower threshold for tearing.

Assessing the extent

If weakened cloth is found, you can assess how it may impact the sail, especially if there is no sailmaker near. Sails loads tend to parallel the edges, with the highest load along the leech. Weakened cloth oriented across the load (perpendicular to the leech, luff, or foot) is more likely to fail. Weakened cloth that parallels edges can also fail (due in part to the warp vs. fill yarn counts in the cloth), but are easier to repair, if only temporarily with sticky back Dacron. Natural hinge points, such as the edge of a reinforcing patch where multiple layers of cloth becomes one layer, are also susceptible to cloth damage. Mainsail flaking systems that force sails to crease along the same fold, like Dutchman systems, will weaken at those hing points over time. All chafe, wear, and fatigue damage is exacerbated by UV exposure.

Cover those sails!

Faded Sunbrella shows it has done an excellent job of providing sacrificial protection: the cloth on this sail is in fine shape.

Keeping sails covered when not in use is the best way for them to last a long time. A little inspection once a year can prevent sail damage or lead you to seek out a replacement sail before wasting good money on a tarp. Not surprisingly, professional opinions of a sail’s condition can vary. Armed with your own sail inspection know-how, perhaps some rockstar sailmaker won’t be so pressed to talk you into a new white suit.

~ ~ ~

Hopefully our Sailmaker Says series is helpful. If you’ve got questions, please reach out! He’s always happy to help. And of course, if that sail is beyond salvaging, Jamie is an active sailmaker and would love to provide a quote for a new sail! And whether you are interested in a new sail from him or not, he’s happy to just answer questions to try and combat the reams of misinformation he sees online about sails.

Savvy sailors know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

No UV damage here! Just a gratuitous picture of Totem’s pretty asymmetric.

Moving in THAT Direction

Thu, 2014-11-20 18:04

By KL Posted November 20, 2014

I reckon the first time that it really hit my radar screen to have a Western sailing team tied to an Asian or Middle Eastern flag was Valencia 2007. What had been a French effort that ran out of dough morphed into China Team with the avowed intent of developing, eventually, an all-Chinese crew for America’s Cup.

Didn’t happen.

Didn’t happen going into AC34 with the 45-foot cats, not for China, and not for Korea.

The Sultanate of Oham, meanwhile, is taking a different tack, building a small boat racing and sailing program, including girls and women, plus an offshore program ranging from take-a-ride to serious ocean competition.

Musandam-Oman was raced solo in the Route du Rhum by French skipper Sidney Gavignet, but the word now is—

Britain’s well-known offshore sailor Brian Thompson returns to the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship MOD70 trimaran Musandam-Oman Sail to take over from French skipper Sidney Gavignet for the return leg of the Route du Rhum, a trans-Atlantic delivery from Guadeloupe to Lorient in France. For the first time in the history of Oman Sail, the national initiative that began in 2008 with a mission to create a generation of sailors, the extreme 70ft multihull will be crewed by a majority Omani crew.

This is a landmark for the organisation and a second major achievement this year that saw the team set a new World Record against all the odds in the summer when it raced the 70ft trimaran around Britain and Ireland with a 50% Omani team shaving 16 minutes and 38 seconds off the record set by a boat almost twice its size.

Sidney Gavignet hands over the helm to Brian after an epic single-handed Route du Rhum sprint across the Atlantic from St Malo, France, to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean in 8 days, 19 hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds earlier this month. The French skipper remained on the island to spend time sailing with and preparing his majority Omani crew ahead of the landmark Atlantic delivery scheduled for Saturday.

“This delivery is a solid first step towards the 2015 season for Oman Sail,” said skipper Sidney Gavignet. “We are focussed on preparing for the future with the team and every opportunity to sail offshore is good for my Omani teammates. Our goal is to do this crossing in the best possible conditions for learning and to kick off the 2015 season on a good footing. I am really happy for my Omani crewmates who are 200% committed to this experience.”

This is a landmark for the organisation and a second major achievement this year that saw the team set a new World Record against all the odds in the summer when it raced the 70ft trimaran around Britain and Ireland with a 50% Omani team shaving 16 minutes and 38 seconds off the record set by a boat almost twice its size.

Sidney Gavignet hands over the helm to Brian after an epic single-handed Route du Rhum sprint across the Atlantic from St Malo, France, to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean in 8 days, 19 hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds earlier this month. The French skipper remained on the island to spend time sailing with and preparing his majority Omani crew ahead of the landmark Atlantic delivery scheduled for Saturday.

“This delivery is a solid first step towards the 2015 season for Oman Sail,” said skipper Sidney Gavignet. “We are focussed on preparing for the future with the team and every opportunity to sail offshore is good for my Omani teammates. Our goal is to do this crossing in the best possible conditions for learning and to kick off the 2015 season on a good footing. I am really happy for my Omani crewmates who are 200% committed to this experience.”

Fahad Al Hasni is a MOD70 regular since 2012 and an integral member of the offshore racing team – he will be joined by three fellow Omani sailors, Yassir Al Rahbi, Abdulrahman Al Mashari and Ali Al Balushi who are new to the 70ft trimaran this year, but who come from the offshore squad and dinghy racing team. They will also have French offshore regular Giles Favennec onboard.

“This will be the first time that we will be a majority Omani crew onboard the MOD70 and Yassir, Abdulrahman, Ali and I are really excited to have this opportunity. We look forward to sailing with Brian Thompson again; he has a lot of depth and experience and is very good at sharing his knowledge.

“The 2014 MOD season has been absolutely huge, first we beat the Kiel Welcome Race Record then set a new World Record for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race in August with a 50% Omani crew for the first time, and finally finished the year with Sidney Gavignet’s epic single-handed Route du Rhum race across the Atlantic – it has been an excellent learning curve for all of us and an inspiration for us to go even further in our careers and for the younger Omani sailors back in Oman to see what is possible and work hard towards it.”

This is a landmark for the organisation and a second major achievement this year that saw the team set a new World Record against all the odds in the summer when it raced the 70ft trimaran around Britain and Ireland with a 50% Omani team shaving 16 minutes and 38 seconds off the record set by a boat almost twice its size.

Sidney Gavignet hands over the helm to Brian after an epic single-handed Route du Rhum sprint across the Atlantic from St Malo, France, to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean in 8 days, 19 hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds earlier this month. The French skipper remained on the island to spend time sailing with and preparing his majority Omani crew ahead of the landmark Atlantic delivery scheduled for Saturday.

“This delivery is a solid first step towards the 2015 season for Oman Sail,” said skipper Sidney Gavignet. “We are focussed on preparing for the future with the team and every opportunity to sail offshore is good for my Omani teammates. Our goal is to do this crossing in the best possible conditions for learning and to kick off the 2015 season on a good footing. I am really happy for my Omani crewmates who are 200% committed to this experience.”

Fahad Al Hasni is a MOD70 regular since 2012 and an integral member of the offshore racing team – he will be joined by three fellow Omani sailors, Yassir Al Rahbi, Abdulrahman Al Mashari and Ali Al Balushi who are new to the 70ft trimaran this year, but who come from the offshore squad and dinghy racing team. They will also have French offshore regular Giles Favennec onboard.

“This will be the first time that we will be a majority Omani crew onboard the MOD70 and Yassir, Abdulrahman, Ali and I are really excited to have this opportunity. We look forward to sailing with Brian Thompson again; he has a lot of depth and experience and is very good at sharing his knowledge.

“The 2014 MOD season has been absolutely huge, first we beat the Kiel Welcome Race Record then set a new World Record for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race in August with a 50% Omani crew for the first time, and finally finished the year with Sidney Gavignet’s epic single-handed Route du Rhum race across the Atlantic – it has been an excellent learning curve for all of us and an inspiration for us to go even further in our careers and for the younger Omani sailors back in Oman to see what is possible and work hard towards it.”

rian Thompson made it into the history books by becoming the first Briton to break the Round the World sailing record twice. Also the first to sail non stop around the world four times. A vastly experienced and successful offshore racer on all types of high performance yachts – from 21ft Mini Transat racers to 140ft Maxi Trimarans, he raced the 2012 MOD70 season with Musandam-Oman Sail.

“I am very excited to be sailing the MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail back from its very successful Route du Rhum race skippered by Sidney Gavignet. I was following the race closely and was so impressed with the boat’s performance against its much bigger rivals.

“Next week we are going to be heading back from Guadeloupe in the Caribbean to our base in Lorient, France, and for the first time, the crew is going to be majority Omani – 4 out of the 6 total. I am honoured that Sidney and the team have given me the responsibility of skippering the boat back and expanding the experience of our young Omani sailors.

“To me having a majority Omani crew is a highly significant point and a sign of the great progress that Oman Sail has made in creating a pool of exceptionally talented sailors, who are able to transfer their skills to a wide variety of high performance craft. This bodes well for future Oman Sail campaigns.”

THE OLD WAY TOO

Photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images

Oman is also a bridge between factions in the Middle East, as this account takes up:

NPR takes a look at Oman’s seafaring heritage as a crossroads trading nation

The Money Shot: Getting the Ultimate Cruising Boat Photo

Thu, 2014-11-20 12:29


For a racing boat the ultimate photo captures plumes of whitewater sheering off your bow. In your wake, just out of focus, a famous rival shakes his fists.

For a cruiser the ultimate photo captures your boat in some spectacular anchorage, or at least the photo evokes a sense of place. We all know getting there is half the fun, but the shot of your boat in the perfect destination proves you actually got somewhere. In addition, this photo should accomplish two goals:

1. Elicit immediate recognition and respect from fellow cruisers.
2. Make landlubbers think you’re a freakin’ daredevil.

Baie des Vierges (Bay of Virgins), on Fatu Hiva, must be one of the most photographed anchorages in cruising:


Photo courtesy of Brian on S/V Delos

Is there anyone who’s ever anchored there who didn’t at least try to get a good photo of their boat? If you can get one with your boat there alone, so much the better. The Bay of Virgins covers our two criteria: Any cruiser will either have fond memories of the place, or be dying to get there someday. After understanding that it takes sailing 3000 miles of open ocean to get there, any landlubber will be duly impressed.

It is arguably the most spectacular anchorage in the South Pacific, and it holds a once-in-a-lifetime shine because a cruiser is unlikely to return…until his next circumnavigation. It’s also usually the first landfall after the long haul. And there’s the story about how it was originally named Baie de Verges (Bay of Penises) because of the rock formations on both sides of the bay, but the missionaries renamed Baie de Vierges (Bay of Virgins) out of modesty. For a story that has been repeated in every travel book, cruising guide, and blog in the world, I wonder if it’s actually true? All of these make it a truly photo-worthy spot, but of course there are many others…

Some are iconic:

Sydney:

Rio:

Phang Nga Bay, Thailand:

Chatterbox Falls, in British Columbia, seems to be “that place” in the Pacific Northwest, and any cruiser who’s been there knows that to get the photo you must have transited the Malibu Rapids unharmed:

Photo courtesy of Windy and Mike Robertson from S/V Del Viento

For Harry and Jane on Cormorant, Whangamumu, New Zealand, was one of their more memorable anchorages during their 16? year circumnavigation:

Some photos don’t capture a destination, but a mood: the calm anchorage, happy children at play, the captain casually strumming a ukulele…c’mon!:

Photo courtesy of Kristianne Koch Riddle, S/V Pelican

And some photos take the beauty, mix it with a healthy dose of fear, and voila:

Photo courtesy of Jessica Rousseau

Or give us a sense of scale:

Telefon Bay, Deception Island, Antarctica

Then if you can get a photo like this of your boat, well, gee whiz, what more can you say?: Vlakvark, nee Tantalus, now Sweetwater in Antarctica:

Photo courtesy of Dudley Dix at Dudley Dix Yacht Design

My money shot? There’s only one choice. It’s on the bathroom wall, it’s on the business card:

The Cape Horn Windvane: Kamau Interviews Yves Gelinas at Annapolis

Thu, 2014-11-20 10:21

Kamau Kwabena interviews a sailing legend at the Annapolis Sailboat Show. Yves sailed non-stop (almost) and solo around the Great Capes in his Alberg 30 Jean-du-Sud, filming the iconic Around the World With Jean-du-Sud movie in the process, a classic sailing film. Hear Yves talk about his Cape Horn wind vane invention in this short interview. 

Also, catch Yves in long-form on the ’59 North Sailing Podcast’ by clicking here.

Nearing the end of the shipyard grind

Wed, 2014-11-19 06:11

We’re in the back half of our stay at Phithak Shipyard (PSS) near Satun, Thailand, and it’s pretty exciting to see work progressing on Totem.

As soon as we arrived, we went through our required projects and the wish list with the yard management. Based on their estimates and some help from home, we decided to go forward… with all of it. I might have had some happy tears at the prospect of these improvements to our Totem! So the plan changed from “a couple of weeks” to as long as our visas allow, keeping an eye on the costs, and getting as much done as possible within time/budget limits.

Progress Report

It’s going OK, even if only one project is completed so far- the stanchion bases (and wow, are they gorgeous!). The must-do list is tracking well. The refrigerator box is finished except for the lids, and reconfigured into a much more usable shape (wider base, shallower depth: I’ll be less likely to end up with three different jars of olives open because I’ve lost one in the bottom). When our fiberglass specialist, Sun, finishes the refrigerator box, he’ll wrap up the remaining few steps on the water tank. They’re both made from fabricated panels with a honeycomb patterned core: strong and lightweight. And with our launch date nearing, new bottom paint will go on shortly- and meanwhile, the hull is getting sanded and prepped.

how’s that for a sexy upgrade? it’s a better design, too

Always surprises!

We dropped the rudder for a full inspection, and it took DAYS to get it off! Unfortunately, it did not pass: there was clearly significant water intrusion. Fortunately, there was no corrosion to the stainless spine and frame. Fortunately, we’re able to get it rebuilt here. The rudder shaft was also bent, a quick job to fix thanks to the machine shop capabilities in the shipyard. What might have only taken days has been a project counted in weeks, but it’s an important safety measure. Check out the expressions on the guys as it finally, finally dropped in this this four second video!

 

Adding to the list

We’ve decided to tackle two other long-desired projects. When we bought Totem, almost eight years ago, I swore one of the first things we would do was replace the headliner. Guess what? We’ve had the same basketweave-embossed, icky, yellowing old vinyl headliner the whole time! Until now: it is GONE…in the main cabin at least, and hopefully throughout Totem soon. In place, we’re putting up white formica. It is clean, uncluttered, and brings in wonderful light into the cabin. This makes me so happy!

We also decided to reface the galley. It was pretty well torn up already to replace the refrigerator box, and with good help and tools at PSS it seemed like the right time to just do it. The galley also has the same original 1982 yellowing Formica, and these atrocious sliders made of smoke-tinted acrylic for cabinet access. GONE. It became easier to replace the upper cabinet box than just rebuild the front. I renewed my friendship with Pinterest and scoured for ideas on what to do: I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

It is hard, hard work

Jamie is working like a dog. He’s taken one day off the whole time we’ve been here, and seems to be bleeding at least once a day. Niall has been a big help too. They do as much as they can to make the carpenters on Totem as efficient as possible.

The girls pitch in as well, ferrying laundry, keeping our remaining water tank topped up, and other daily tasks that help us keep things running more smoothly. But they’ve also picked up a different job that’s keeping them especially busy, stepping in to care for a litter of motherless kittens found in the yard. They accompanied Jia and Julie, management at the yard, to the vet for checkups when it was clear two of the kittens weren’t thriving. They now administer eyedrops, vitamins, and antibiotics two to three times a day. And then just the other day, they found two puppies who also seemed to be fending for themselves, hiding in the lumber storage area. It’s too bad Totem isn’t an ark because we’re sorely tempted to add furry crew, but it’s just not something we can do right now.

Life in the shipyard

Living aboard has gone much better than I expected. OK: it’s not all roses. We have to use toilets on shore, and nobody wants to make that trip at night. We’ve had at least three rats on board, probably others we don’t know about. I can’t imagine why they choose us over the aromatic fishing boats, and maybe that’s why they don’t all stick around. The boat is always dirty and cluttered, because we’re moving things between cabins as different spaces become work areas. There’s a massive end-of-day cleanup effort but it’s still challenging.

Mairen makes sandwiches amid the construction mess

But we’ve made some new friends, who have really brightened our stay: Jamie, of “Follow the Boat” on Esper, who is doing a major refit on his pretty boat. The British nomads on Shanti, raising their two little boys afloat. We have been treated to gorgeous fresh bread by our Swiss neighbors on the Amel A Go Go. Julie and Jia organized a barbecue one night and grilled the most delicious prawns! There are long evenings spent spinning stories over bottles of Leo in front of the yard’s convenience store while the kids play.

Jamie does weekly vlogs and brought in the Totem kids to “project manage” one week – fun for them, another neat experience. Jamie has a gift for drawing out their personalities- I love this video he made!

 

Being back in Thailand is wonderful. I am very fond of this village where the shipyard is located: it is a small town, where I can go to the weekly market and run into people I know. It shuts down after dark, other than the call to prayer. There isn’t a whiff of tourism. It’s peaceful and beautiful!

We spent an unforgettable night on a special Thai holiday called Loy Krathong. Jia and Julie took a group of us to dinner at just the kind of place we love: where there is no English on the menu! Afterwards, we went to the river to watch ships hand crafted from banana trunks, palm fronds and flowers, lit with candles and incense and set into the water. Lanterns are sent to the heavens as well, and with Julie and Jia’s help, had our own to send off into the sky. These are wonderful memories we’ll always keep with us.

thanks to Julie for this photo of our family!

Almost finished!

Just like remodeling a house, there are times when it seems to zoom ahead and times when it feels grindingly slow. Some days feel like little has progressed, and on others, there are glimpses of transformation. But it can be frustrating: the yard is really busy, so work doesn’t always follow the timeline we expect. The stainless shop is backed up, so we have multiple stainless projects that haven’t even started: awning frame, bow roller, and a lot of reconfiguration of the stern rails and solar arch… oh, and we hoped to add to the bow pulpit also. It’s a little stressful, since it’s work we are especially keen to do, and we can’t extend for long. But we’ll do what we can, and meanwhile, it’s tremendous to see so man things starting to come together.

If you aspire to the perfect stainless solar arch you’re surely going to read this on the Sailfeed website.

The Really BIG SAIL

Tue, 2014-11-18 18:48

By Kimball Livingston Posted November 18, 2014

Want to get people out to watch sailboat races? Give’em that old college try. Give’em bands. Give’em the Big Sail.

Two years ago, during the Big Sail, Oracle Racing’s first foiling 72 augured in. A mile or so from the Big Sail, but still, it was quite a sight. No added charge for the show.

Big Sail as in four matches on the cityfront of San Francisco, the Tuesday before the local Big Game, Stanford vs. Cal, Cal vs. Stanford.

Varsity, Young Alumni, Masters and Grand Masters in St. Francis Yacht Club’s J/22s, and they split the day. Stanford’s Varsity and Young Alumni teams won their matches, 2-0. Cal’s Masters and Grand Masters won their matches 2-0.

That pic up top is the Stanford band going face to face with Cal. And I ask you, have you ever been inside the Stanford band? I’m still rocking. Lots of work with my big camera is stuck in said camera, pending a recharge when I get back to the office. Maybe even some pictures of boats, but who needs that?

No two ways about it, the crossover works. Football and yachting. At the edge of America.

Phone cams are not ideal . . .

All-in-one WiFi & cell data: Glomex WebBoat 4G & The WiriePro

Tue, 2014-11-18 18:00

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

There are two reasons I was a little surprised to read that the Glomex WebBoat 4G won a DAME award this morning at METS. It seems like a minor update to the WebBoat 3G that Kees Verruijt covered here last year, and I thought that the DAME 2014 electronics and software nominees included several strong contenders. On the other hand, I know how hard it is to be a judge, and I thoroughly agree with their statement that WebBoat’s all-in-one approach to marine WiFi and cell communications addresses, “an area of rapidly growing interest in the marine industry.” I can’t count how many cruisers I met recently who were struggling with Internet connectivity, even along the U.S. coast. And I’m happy to report that another all-in-one solution, The WiriePro, will soon be available…

First let’s explore the WebBoat, specifications here (and also the manual). Inside the 12-inch high dome are two diversity antennas and a modem able to handle a whole lot of cellular frequencies and data protocols (though not some types found outside Europe). There’s also a high power WiFi antenna and radio for near shore connections, plus a router that joins both types of communications and serves them to devices on the boat via another WiFi antenna and radio. Kee’s cutaway photo above shows the original 3G model, but I doubt the 4G looks much different. The router/access point can be moved below with an Ethernet cable if metal decks block the WiFi, and that dark tubular piece at lower left houses a cellular SIM card slot with an access door on the dome’s bottom.

Managing the WebBoat is done with Android or iOS apps as illustrated in the main page video. Once set up there shouldn’t be much to do except scan for a new WiFi hotspot when you change harbors or force use of the cell connection if the WiFi gets flaky. But the original setup or changing SIM cards could be challenging and I encourage prospective buyers to check out the manual carefully. For instance, the correct APN (Access Point Name) has to be chosen by region and provider, and I’m not sure they’re all there. Also note that a prepaid SIM card with a PIN has to be unlocked in a phone before going into the WebBoat.

Once set up, though, — and note that the only cabling required is a 12 volt power feed — the WebBoat does seem as dreamy as this video capture suggests. It prioritizes the WiFi booster so that in harbor you may have a cheaper and possibly faster connection. But as you cruise out of WiFi range, WebBoat automatically switches over to the cell connection so you’re still blissfully sending off selfies (or checking the weather or keeping up with work email, or whatever :-).

The devil’s in the details, though, especially with technologies as fussy and dynamic as WiFi and Cellular hotspots on boats. That’s why I lean more toward the new all-in-one WiriePro even though its hardware looks, um, more utilitarian and it doesn’t auto switch between cellular and WiFi connections. That’s it in the yellow waterproof box at left, with its high power cell and WiFi antennas mounted externally. Also external is a waterproof Ubiquity Bullet M2 Titanium WiFi Adapter — latest and most ruggedly built in the Bullet line I’ve long appreciated. The company has also updated its WiFi-only WirieAP+ (at right) with Titanium and will soon have a cell-only Wirie xG.

Besides the high quality components, I like the look of Wirie’s browser-based management software. Note how the background screen above shows the status all three networks that an all-in-one like this enables. The inset cellular interface screen shows how the WiriePro lets you apply a PIN to a SIM card, and that’s not all…

The background screen in this collage shows how you can send SMS messages via the WiriePro interface, which is quite handy for adding credit to prepaid SIM cards. In fact, you can see that Wirie developer Mark Kilty has been doing just that, in French. The inset WiFi scan screen — which seems nicely simplified since I tested the original WirieAP in 2011 — also has a French Polynesian flavor, and that’s because the sailing development lab Irie has gone many miles, and done lots of Internet chasing, since I first profiled the product.

I appreciate the experience behind the new WiriePro all-in-one WiFi and cellular communicator, and also the company’s willingness to put their specs into the product comparison below. It may not be completely accurate — for instance, the WebBoat column probably needs updates for the new 4G model — but it’s a good place to start if you’re interested in the potential ease of having both offboard WiFi and cell connections working through one onboard WiFi router. I’ll add, though, that I just spent two months using separate WiFi and cell booster systems with pretty good results, and I’ll be expanding on that experience soon.

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Podcast: Ted & Claudia Reshetiloff & Kids!

Tue, 2014-11-18 09:23

Welcome to the best episode yet…no joke. If you ever dreamed of leaving the corporate life and sailing off, on a tight bugdet and with a young family, listen to this episode. These are my friends Ted & Claudia Reshetiloff and their two kids, Max and Anya, 11 and 9. Mia and I joined them on ther boat, Demeter, a Wauquiez Amphitrite ketch in Nanny Cay Marina in Tortola to hear the story of how they left it all behind and headed out for adventure on the high seas and an entirely new lifestyle. They left Annapolis in 2012 and haven’t looked back since. Anya’s now in local school in Tortola, Ted works managing an outboard retail shop and they go sailing every weekend, taking longer stints off to head down island to Dominica and beyond. The voices you hear in the background are Mia (she makes her first podcast appearance!) and Paul Exner, who’s been on the show twice and also happens to live in Tortola. What a cool evening on Demeter. This is what long-term cruising is all about.

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