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The Yachts of SF Bay

Mon, 2014-07-07 16:35

As seen in Marin Magazine, July, 2014


By Kimball Livingston

AMONG THE GOOD things in life are boats. They please the eye. They please the senses. Use the word yacht if you like. A yacht is any boat, great or small, meant for pleasure, and here too it’s often true that good things come in small packages. Little Freda is a case in point. Built in 1885 on Beach Road when Belvedere Cove still opened to the bay, she is the oldest West Coast yacht sailing, and we’ll come back to that.

Many of Northern California’s most beautiful boats are harbored in the county, but even those berthed elsewhere are part of Marin’s view of San Francisco Bay. They come for reasons we already understand: shelter, sunshine, panoramas. Rare is the San Francisco Bay cruise that does not include at least one passage through Raccoon Strait, and that makes for quite a parade.

There’s a strong boatbuilding heritage here. In the shallows of Hurricane Gulch in Sausalito, for example, you can still see pilings from the Nunes Brothers Boat & Ways Company, builders of the doughty little Bear Class sloops still with us, 80 years on, and builders of the grand schooner Zaca, which banking heir Templeton Crocker sailed around the world in 1930. Zaca later figured in the scandals of the actor Errol Flynn and today happily soaks up euros as a restored indulgence on the waters of the Mediterranean. Time marches on.

Back in the day, a sailorman could gaze across the bay and name any boat on sight. Every yacht was a custom build, probably a specimen of the woodbutcher’s art, and even with the occasional steel hull, there just weren’t that many. In the 1960s, fiberglass and deficit financing generated a population explosion, and plastic composite boats are good, very good, but the hand-built, hand-kept boat has an aura, and perhaps a soul, that cannot be punched out on a production line.

Read on for “Her Stories”

Good News, Bad News

Mon, 2014-07-07 12:19

By Kimball Livingston Posted July 7, 2014

For decades, sailors crossing between the West Coast and Hawaii have observed a steady increase in “stuff” that doesn’t belong in the ocean. Of the three east-west races currently under way, the fleet farthest along is the Singlehanded Transpac that left San Francisco Bay on June 28. Those 20 boats are now grouped around the halfway mark, en route to Hanalei Bay. They got pounded for a bit, and becalmed for a bit, and now we have Brian Cline reporting from his Dana 24, Maris, “And just like that, the spinnaker goes up, there’s steady stream of garbage floating by, and it’s too warm for clothes.”

Good news, bad news.

On the morning race tracker (racetracker with a three hour delay), Al Germain was looking to be closest to Hanalei in his Wyliecat 30, Bandicoot. He was one of a notable handful of skippers in the southern group who took a right turn overnight to work back closer to the rhumb line.

With the “cruising” division of the Pacific Cup one day at sea, marine weather pro Lee Chesneau delivered the second of his briefings on Monday morning—electronically, via phone and internet—and delivered a generally thumbs-up prospect for further starts continuing this week from a line on the San Francisco cityfront.

There is a developing gale in play, close to the coast and driven by conditions inland, but forecasts top out at 30 knots, with the biggest winds to the north of the Gate and the fleet, of course, digging south and west. Small craft advisories remain in effect through Jult 8. Zipping past a lot of detail that navigators will have to consider as they position their boats, depending upon speed, speed potential, and starting dates, there is a pretty nice High forming up, a little to the west of its ideal position at 140° west but slipping east as time gets along. At this point, nothing south of 30° north has any forecast below 15 knots, but it could be a “choppy ride” for a while, Chesneau said, with a southerly swell dominating northwest waves.

Down Mexico way, “The remnants of Douglas do not have a future,” so once again, Pacific crossings seem to be dodging the threat of the statistically-inevitable tropical storm.

Today’s starters had the first “race” division (eight boats, including three Cal 40s) and the first of two doublehanded groups eight boats, including four Santa Cruz 27s) departing the St. Francis Yacht Club line at 1030 and 1045, respectively. “Today,” Chesneau said, “the farther out you get, the better the breeze. You have to get to the synoptic wind ten miles out and beyond.”

The good news regarding fog: You could see the bridge, just not very well, and not all of it.

The scene was so grayed out, I’m not sure which of the Cal 40s I have here, though I’m told it’s our husband/wife duo aboard the Green Buffalo . . .

On the ocean, more fog. The motto, we know, is onward, but lack of visibility adds challenges for all, especially doublehanders in small boats.

Starting from considerably farther up the coast fifteen entries in the Vic-Maui out of Victoria, British Columbia have had a slow start, but I believe they’ll see some breeze and plenty of it.

Here you can find the Vic-Maui race tracker showing all the boats south of rhumb, but still, with some different opinions as to how far south to commit. The C&C41 Turicum at 1912 miles to go is closest to Lahaina, but until the boats get into the trades and pick a lane, numbers like that mean very little compared to the news that Turnagain and Passepartout have been dining on freshly-caught tuna, the ultimate in sushi.

Landfall in Sweden (Redux)

Mon, 2014-07-07 12:16

In lieu of my recent arrival to Sweden today (I flew overnight from Newark-Oslo-Stockholm, and am going on one hour of sleep and four cups of strong Swedish coffee), I wanted to re-post this blog from two years ago when Arcturus made her first arrival in Sweden. It was an emotional moment for Mia and I (especially Mia), and it seems simultaneously like yesterday and ages ago.

Arcturus has spent all of last winter hauled out in Öregrund – we’ll launch her next week, and get back to living aboard for the remainder of the summer here in Scandinavia. No plans yet on where we’re headed, but stay tuned. I’ll be writing about it. In the meantime, enjoy this revisited post…scroll down for the photo gallery.

If you missed Part 1, click here.

If you missed Part 2, click here.

If you missed Part 3, click here.

Originally written in August 2012

August 11th, my last evening watch before we’d make landfall in Marstrand. I had one more dawn watch – 0500-0900 – the following morning. We were less than 100 miles from Marstrand.

It was easily the nicest day of the passage – blue sky, bright sunshine and shorts-and-t-shirt warm. A welcome reward after the ‘eventful’ night before.

On the evening of the tenth, I had predicted that the wind would die with the sunset and it did, in the middle of Mia’s watch (she has a knack for making the wind die). But before it did, it had kicked up a feisty sea. I was asleep on the starboard settee and the boat was sailing on a broad reach, the genoa on starboard and no mainsail. Earlier in the day a big wave slewed the stern round hard enough to disengage the windvane paddle (cleverly, Yves had designed a breakaway feature into the paddle for just such scenarios, or if the paddle were ever to hit a log or a turtle or something. Rather than break the paddle, it simply pops loose from it’s mount, and is held to the boat by bungee cord and an emergency piece of lashing line that normally just hangs loose when the vane is engaged). I hung off the transom to reattach it (see photo above).

When the wind eased off, the sea remained. Mia was sitting on the galley countertop and watched as a wave larger than the rest crested over the port stern quarter, filled the cockpit and cascaded down the companionway. I woke up with the boat pinned down to starboard and the splash having doused my sleeping bag. The water reached all the way to my head, which was facing forwards, and about amidships. It was nice out otherwise, so all we could do was laugh about it. I discovered later that the bilge under the engine was overflowing – the cowl vent over the lazarette had been open to the wave, the water filling that locker and the bilge.

An hour later Mia woke me again to furl the sails and start the engine when the wind finally gave up for good. The next eight hours and two watches were spent gripping the tiller and steering through sleepy eyes. The wind returned the next morning, around nine, and we started sailing again, fast, wing-on-wing, a welcome respite from duty at the helm. The windvane cannot steer when the boat is motoring until we get a tiller pilot to adapt it, so for the time being, we have to hand-steer when motoring. Otherwise, good old Sune the Driver has the helm in the lightest of breezes, so long as we ca keep moving. 

Mia had made some extraordinary almond-apple-cinnamon muffin/cookie things earlier that day. They were supposed to have been muffins, but without a proper muffin pan, they became more like cookies. The smell had woken me from my afternoon nap. I ate all four of mine (they were big, too) in on go.

North Sea – Aug 2012

Rain, fog and strong current as we left Inverness in Scotland.

North Sea – Aug 2012

Many oil rigs as we sailed across the North Sea.

North Sea – Aug 2012

Coffee break in the cockpit.

North Sea – Aug 2012

Message in a bottle half way across the North Sea.

North Sea – Aug 2012

“Sune the Strong” (the strong wind version of our wind vane) did a great job taking us to Sweden.

North Sea – Aug 2012

Mia sleeping while Andy is on watch.

North Sea – Aug 2012

Great sail across, here the jib on the pole and main on the other side.

North Sea – Aug 2012

Andy is playing with our new GoPro Camera.

North Sea – Aug 2012

Mia taking the helm

North Sea – Aug 2012

Sweden in sight, this time the Swedish flags get raised on our starboard side!

North Sea – Aug 2012

First stop: Marstrand, Sweden!

Marstrand, Sweden – Aug 2012

How you pay for your dock space… :)

Marstrand – Aug 2012

Andy and Mia out for a run around the island.

Marstrand – Aug 2012
The beautiful island of Marstrand.

Marstrand – Aug 2012

Refreshing swim after the run, followed by a 2 hr breakfast at the hotel!

Sweden – Aug 2012

Great sailing- great weather!

Island of Ven, Sweden – Aug 2012

Clint came visiting, together we explored the island of Ven by bikes.

Ven to Landskrona, Sweden – Aug 2012

Clint, who sailed across the Atlantic with us, had a great time!

Landskrona to Malmö – Aug 2012

Clint taking a nap.

Malmö, Sweden – Aug 2012

Pizza time…

Landskrona to Malmö – Aug 2012

Clint

Malmö to Visby – Aug 2012

We sailed under Öresundsbron, the bridge that connect Sweden and Denmark.

Malmö to Visby – Aug 2012

Andy up the mast.

Visby – Aug 2012

A 3 day sail from Malmö to Visby. Visby is a popular summer destination but as you can see, we had the harbor to ourselves (end of season)!

Visby – Aug 2012

Laundry Day!

Visby – Aug 2012

Windy day with 40 kt, those fenders have plenty of air in them!!

Visby – Aug 2012

To get us off the dock a bit, Andy kedged us off with one of the mooring balls. 

Visby – Aug 2012

A bit tricky to find someone who can fill our american propane tank. After a long hike, Mia found a junk yard that could do it!

Sweden – Aug 2012

The masthead on the main mast.

Sweden – Aug 2012

The Colligo roller furler we have for our big reacher.

Visby to Sthlm – Aug 2012

Great sail from Visby to Stockholms skärgård.

Visby to Sthlm – Aug 2012

Great shot by Andy from the top of the mast.

Visby to Sthlm – Aug 2012

Great sail as you can see! :)

Sthlm skärgård – Aug 2012

Anchored in Lindskär, our first stop in the Sthlm archipelago.

Sthlm Skärgård – Aug 2012

Mia enjoying a glass of red and a book in the Sthlm archipelago.

Sthlm Skärgård – Aug 2012

Arcturus, the bow is tied to a tree ashore, and an anchor is set from the stern.

Sthlm Skärgård – Aug 2012

Lindskär, our first stop in the Sthlm arcipelago.

Sthlm Skärgård – Aug 2012

The stove and folding table, great to use as a dish rack!

Stockholm – Aug 2012

Entering Sthlm, pouring down rain and no wind, not the entry I had expected.

Wasahamnen, Sthlm – Sept 2012

A 3 day stop in Wasahamnen, the island of Djurgården in Sthlm.

Stockholm – Sept 2012
Friends came visit us on the saturday and the family and cousins on sunday, great fun to show off the boat!

Stockholm – Sept 2012

Family day in Sthlm on Arcturus, a bit chaos but tons of fun!!

Stockholm – Sept 2012

Andy is eating breakfast as we are leaving Wasahamnen with the island of Skeppsholmen. in the background.

Stockholm – Sept 2012

To sail in to Mälaren, you have to go through the city of Sthlm.

Årstaviken – Sept 2012

Going through the city of Sthlm. This part is called Årstaviken, my favorite running spot in town.  In the wintertime, the water is frozen and you can run on the ice here.

Mälaren – Sept 2012

A great sail close to the islands on the way from Sthlm to Enköping.

Enköping – Sept 2012

Mias parents, grandmother and family friend AnneMarie visited Arcturus in Enköping. Unfortunately, the wind was strong so no sail that day. 

Enköping – Sept 2012

Mia’s dad Börje casting off our lines as we are leaving Enköping early in the morning. 

Västerås – Sept 2012

“Do it yourself” crane for stepping your mast.

Västerås – Sept 2012

Getting Arcturus ready for the winter, sails off and folded up.

Västerås – Sept 2012

Mia was the crane operator when we stepped the mast. One question when the mast was high up- how does it go down again?

Västerås – Sept 2012

Andy getting the mast down.

Västerås – Sept 2012

We found a mast cart and a storage area, hope it will still be there next year. :)

Västerås – Sept 2012

Gullbergs Marina in Västerås, ready to get the boat out of the water.

Västerås – Sept 2012

Very interesting travel lift.

Västerås – Sept 2012

Arcturus spot for the winter. Cover is now on and she is ready for the cold and the snow.

And then we made landfall. All of a sudden Mia announced that she could see Sweden, and our ultimate goal was in sight. The weather cooperated, sort of. It was beautiful outside, crystal clear and warm, but the sea was flat and there was no wind to speak of. Knowing we’d make it in by nightfall no matter how slow we sailed, we were content to tack the remaining few miles, making only a knot or knot-and-a-half. There was no sign of the wind on the water – it was glassy – but there must have been some air aloft, because we kept moving. Had there been any sea at all we’d have gone nowhere.

About two miles offshore, we stopped the boat (actually, the wind died altogether and the boat kind of stopped on it’s own accord), and we took bucket showers, our first seawater baths since leaving Ireland, and our first washing since leaving Scotland, five days earlier. You can never fully appreciate a shower until you go several days without one. Standing on deck in the warm sunshine, completely naked, and dousing your body with icy buckets of North Sea water is one of life’s ultimate refreshing experiences. After the shock of the first bucket, the next few are simply invigorating. The sense of cleanliness one gets after air-drying in the sun, shaving and putting on clean clothes is euphoric.

So we sailed the rest of the way into Marstrand, clean and fresh, physically and mentally, arriving at the crowded guest harbor late in the afternoon and finding a place among the holidaymakers at the marked

Gästhamn, with its friendly blue-and-yellow sign welcoming our arrival.

It took us three or four passes by the dock before we realized how everyone was tied up – bow-to on the floating pontoon, with fixed lines that hold the stern away from the dock, kind of like Med-mooring but without an anchor – and we took our place next to a big motoryacht and went ashore.

And with those first footsteps, we had made it to Sweden.

Do You Want To Build A Snowman?

Sun, 2014-07-06 20:11

My girls love the movie Frozen. They sing the catchy songs. They play dress up. They act out their own fanfic. But, when they play, are they Elsa and Anna? They are not. They are Elsa and Olaf. Because Indy has become obsessed with snow.

The last time Indy experienced a real winter, she was a year and a half old.  Stylish remembers building snow forts and sledding, but Indy was too little that year to do much more than get toted around in a fluffy pink snowsuit.  And she resents it.

“Mom, the next time we visit Canada, can we see snow?” Indy posed the question over breakfast.
I swallowed a bite of toast to stall.  “We can try,” I said.  “We’ll definitely be home for winter sometime. Just probably not this year.”
“Because there was no snow when we went there last time,” she said accusingly. “It was hot.”
“It was June,” I said for what felt like the thousandth time.  “That’s summertime in Canada.  I told you before we went there wouldn’t be snow – you just didn’t want to believe me.”
“I wanted snow,” she grumbled into her cornflakes.

This is where the rubber of I Like To Make My Kids Happy meets the road of I Hate Winter Because Being Cold Stinks. I can’t relate to her snow dreams. Yes, snow is beautiful. And I’d love winter if it were a two-week-long country-wide holiday, with ice skating, tobogganing, cross-country skiing and free hot chocolate on every corner. No icy roads, no shovelling, no -30 C days, no cold fingers and toes. Alas. But Indy doesn’t know any of that – all she knows is that snow looks like fun, and she is being denied that fun.

Indy is not one to be denied.

So she has been busy making her own winter. The Olaf costume. Little paper snowflakes.  Playdough snowmen. And she asks, and asks, and asks: when can we go see snow?

“How about at Christmas?” she asks.
“Sorry, I checked – it would cost a fortune to fly home.”
“Well, then maybe we can go to New Zealand.  They have snow on the mountains.”
“Maybe,” I say.
“When you say ‘maybe’, you always mean ‘no’.”
Busted. Time to shift the conversation. “Don’t you like the warm weather?  We get to go snorkeling, see turtles and fish…”
“Mom.  I get to do that all the time.  I want to play in the snow.
“How about you just play with the frost in the freezer?” jokes Stylish.
“Stylish,” says Indy severely. “You can’t leave the lid open.  That would kill the batteries.”
“Sweetheart,” I break in, “we’re just too close to the equator.  You’ll have to wait for snow.”
“There has to be snow around here somewhere.  Does Noumea have an ice skating rink?”
I try to picture a New Caledonian hockey team. “No, afraid not.”
“Are you sure?  Adelaide had a skating risk.”
“I know,” I say. “And that remains one of life’s great mysteries. They don’t skate here.”
“And there is no snow on these mountains,” mutters Indy. She makes a face. “I am going to find snow somewhere.  I will.”

I hope that, when the time comes, Indy loves real snow as much as the snow in her imagination. Who knows – maybe she will devote her life to extreme snowboarding or high-latitude search-and-rescue.

As for me, I’m going to enjoy the heat.  Any day I don’t have to scrape ice off the boat is a good day.
These days will come again.

Stanjek and Kleen Clean Up the Star Worlds

Sun, 2014-07-06 19:44

Malcesine, Italia – July 5th 2014

On Saturday, July 5th, the International Star Class World Championship was decided in dramatic style on the last leg of the last race. GER 8340 Robert Stanjek with crew Frithjof Kleen led by ten points going into the last race and held on in a nervy final race to become the new world champions and the first German world champion for seventeen years.

Clouds above The Dolomite Mountains and clear blues skies above Lake Garda provided classic Ora conditions, with 12 knots of warm breeze pumping from the south. The first Saturday in July meant plenty of windsurfers and kite boarders out on the lake and sky divers forming arial acrobatics riding the thermal wind from Mount Baldo. Hundreds of spectators watched the drama unfold from the pristine Lake Garda beaches and thousands more watched the action, via Virtual eye, broadcasting the event live for the first time.

Once again, the first start resulted in a general recall and the race committee hoisted the Black Flag for restart. Nine boats were still over, resulting in their disqualification and yet another general recall. Third time lucky, the fleet got away clear with ITA 8491 Diego Negri with crew Sergio Lambertenghi making the best start showing great pace on the first upwind leg. GER 8340 Stanjek/Kleen made a conservative start but failed to get into good pressure and slipped back to 16th position. GRE 8434 Emilios Papathanasiou with crew Antonis Tsotras rounded the first windward mark with a significant lead. In second place at the top mark, ITA 8491 Negri/Lambertenghi played the shifts well to take the lead at the first bottom mark, as did NOR 8317 Eivind Melleby with crew Bruno Prada. By the end of the third leg three teams were in the hunt for the world championship. ITA 8491 Negri/Lambertenghi. NOR 8317 Melleby/Prada and GER 8340 Stanjek/Kleen.

In clear air, ITA 8491 Negri/Lambertenghi extended their lead on the water and finished the race well ahead of the fleet but a win in the last race was not enough. NOR 8317 Melleby/Prada showed spectacular speed on the last downwind leg, overtaking GRE 8434 Papathanasiou/Tsotras and attacked SUI 8364 Flavio Marazzi with crew Anouk Marazzi. The two teams crossed the line overlapped but the Marazzi husband and wife team was just ahead by barely one metre. Meanwhile GER 8340 Stanjek/Kleen were in a desperate struggle to secure the world championship title and with a last gasp effort, the German team moved up to 12th, enough to win the International Star Class World Championship by two points. ITA 8491 Negri/Lambertenghi were second on countback from NOR 8317 Melleby/Prada.

GER 8340 Stanjek/Kleen became the fourth German pair to lift one of sailing’s most prestigious trophies after: Kuhweide/Meyer in 1972, Hagen/Hoesch in 1981 and Hagen/Ferreira in 1997.

“We made a mistake on the first beat and put ourselves under a lot of pressure.” Admitted Frithjof Kleen. “The first downwind leg was very one sided and we had little opportunity to make any gains but a good second beat put us back in contention but we really didn’t know the overall position on the final downwind leg, so we concentrated on taking 12th position, which we thought would be enough. We dared not believe it when we crossed the line but when were told that our provisional result had been enough, we were so delighted. We came second in 2011, so to win this year has finished that feeling.”

The official Prize Giving was held at the Fraglia Vela Malcesine, shoreside at Lake Garda, which had provided a stunning venue for the regatta, which will go down in history as one of the closest contests in the 92 editions of the International Star Class World Championship.

2014 International Star Class World Championship final results:

# number name pts 1 2 3 4 5 6
1 GER 8340 Stanjek/Kleen 25 1 6 -43 2 4 12
2 ITA 8491 Negri/Lambertenghi 27 -16 2 5 12 7 1
3 NOR 8317 Melleby/Prada 27 4 11 7 -14 2 3
4 USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins 30 6 -10 10 6 1 7
5 BRA 8398 Fuchs/Seifert 40 -27 4 4 10 8 14
6 USA 8320 Szabo/Natucci 42 (bfd) 7 12 1 9 13
7 GRE 8434 Papathanasios/Tsotras 43 2 24 8 -27 5 4
8 CRO 7287 Arapov/Sitic 44 -39 3 15 7 14 5
9 BRA 8210 T. Grael/de Almeida 44 -26 19 9 4 6 6
10 GER 8442 Polgar/Koy 44 -15 8 6 11 11 8

DIY: essential oils on board

Sun, 2014-07-06 07:04

We try to keep life simple on Totem: if we can make something ourselves, that’s always a better option than buying. Less waste is created, something on board is usually reused, and there’s probably more cash in our pockets.

A lot of the everyday things I use have been made with essential oils. Because, hey, if you can also make something smell really good, well, wouldn’t you?  This is easy to do with lotion, basic cleaners, heavier duty scrubs, polish, laundry, and just to  make our living space mmmmmmm good. Essential oils work around our sensitivities to commercial fragrance: Jamie and Siobhan have skin that reacts to chemical additives, and most perfume just gives me a sneezy headache. Essential oils keep us smelling sweet without ill effects.

my bin of lotion ingredients with a few favorite essential oils

It’s sensible boat living, too. Carrying the basic ingredients to make lotion and cleaners instead of buying them is easier on provisioning, generally saves space, and means you can have what you want / when you want it.

There are a myriad of ways essential oils get used on board (for a great list, see Windtraveler). Start small to keep it achievable. I’ve listed our primary uses below, organized by scent types to help break it down. A good starter kit would include one or two from each of these. Try a few, mix them up a little, follow your nose and see what sticks.

Citrus

lemon, sweet orange, or grapefruit

Boat cleaning: I especially like these in cleaners, and their bright aroma brings a great clarifying smell. A shaker of baking soda is an all purpose scrub for the heads and galley; a few drops of sweet orange oil mixed in make it smell amazing. For simple wood polish, a few drops of a lemon essential oil mixed with olive oil is simple and good.

Seasickness: nausea can also be addressed with the sharp tang of citrus. I learned during extended bouts of “morning” sickness that a few drops of grapefruit oil on a cloth to sniff can help set an upset stomach right.

Floral

lavender, rose geranium, jasmine

Making lotion: I always always always use rose geranium in lotion. To keep it from being too flowery, I’ll often mix in a little something else; see what works for you.

Calming / getting to sleep: lavender is wonderfully relaxing. A little lavender oil in a diffuser (or sprinkled on a cloth) helps get little people (or their parents) off to sleep. Mix lavender with rose, and you get what I call Spa Smells… that whiff you get in a plush day spa or salon!

Spicy

Cinnamon, clove

Holiday goodness: Clove is one of my favorites for seasonal aromas. When December rolls around, I put THAT in a diffuser and feel the Christmas! Balsam cedar does the same thing, transporting me to our old chilly climate life and cedar boughs on the mantle… but clove wins for multiple uses on board. Besides smelling great, it’s a topical analgesic and medical kit backup for tooth pain.

Fight bugs! Cinnamon oil is a great way to deal with ants, which have occasionally given us some annoyance on board. A few drops in a spot they traverse can help keep them away. My basic wipe down spray is a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar, and adding cinnamon before using that to wipe down the pantry abates the problem.

Astringent

Tea tree, pine, eucalyptus

Fight the other kind of bugs! These oils have antibacterial and antiviral properties. I add them to homemade antiseptic cleaning sprays (a mix , and always put tea tree into lotions I made  for skin flared up with eczema. Eucalyptus and tea tree diluted in a spray make a great smelling wipe-down for things that get a little extra grunge… like my yoga mat. Ew.

making lotion with a small helper

It’s tempting to start with a raft of different oils, but start small and get used to where and how you use them. A little bit lasts for a very long time! They DO need to be used with care; Crunchy Betty has an excellent read on proper use.

People who read this on the Sailfeed website smell really, really good.

“21st Century Waterways” — have your say about the Future of Navigation in the USA

Fri, 2014-07-04 19:20

Written by Ben Ellison on Jul 4, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Hurricane Arthur is putting a damper on Fourth of July celebrations even up here in Maine. The fireworks were canceled yesterday, our family lobster dinner is postponed, and the gale watch that went up this morning may mean I’ll be minding Gizmo tonight. But once again knee-jerk criticism of weather forecasting is not standing up to reality, specifically the work of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center. Arthur made a slight left turn last night, hence the gale watch, but remains darn close to the track forecast days ago. What’s more, the NHC not only distributes voluminous detail about the science behind their forecasts, but also a running graphic tally of how their forecast and the underlying computer models compare to the storm’s actual track. No doubt some boaters will still get in Arthur trouble, but I’m also confident that the U.S. Coast Guard is wonderfully able and willing to render assistance. So what a perfect time for those of us in a dry spot with an Internet connection to spend a few minutes helping NOAA, the USCG and also the Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) to maximize their resources in the future.

In 2012 we first heard that the USCG was considering a reduction in physical aids to navigation and other initiatives that may make sense in a world where electronic navigation has gained a lot of ground on visual navigation. This apparently led to a recent series of “Listening Sessions” around the country, and now there’s an online Future of Navigation / 21st Century Waterways survey where you can share your thoughts. While the language in the introduction above is a bit stilted, “collaborative Federal Government effort to effectively integrate information to establish a framework that enables the transfer of data between and among ships and shore facilities, and that integrates and transforms that data into decisions and action information,” read a couple of times suggests a big vision, I think. And don’t be put off by suggestions that this survey is just for professionals; I believe that the USCG asked me to “spread the word/opportunity” on Panbo because they know that many readers are knowledgable recreational boaters.

I, too, will be interested to hear how readers respond to the survey and I’ll share a few opinions I came up with. First of all, I used this opportunity to plead once again for distribution of all the AIS data collected by the U.S. Government to the public. As much as I appreciate how much the Coast Guard does for us, I’m not sure they even realize that another division of DHS financed the Smart Chart AIS app system that could be a much better source of small boat tracking information if it (and related apps) could offer us the NAIS level realtime AIS monitoring. (I appreciate Marine Traffic, too, but volunteer coverage remains very spotty).

I also found a way to remind the USCG that they still have not extended AIS mandates to many commercial vessels running up and down the coasts. Many such vessels — like the Maine ferries, thank goodness — have voluntarily installed AIS but there are still many ferries, passenger boats, small tugs and fishing boats that can afford and should be regulated to adopt this valuable safety device. Heck, this impatient entry dates back to 2010!

What may get me in trouble with some readers, though, is my sense that some physical aids to navigation can be removed without significant harm to our safe navigation. But I think I came up with a clever trade off, suggesting that “the first dollars saved by reducing AtoNs should go to the rapid deployment of a secondary electronic positioning system, probably eLoran” (which is thankfully back on the table). Please take the 21st Century Waterways survey and please tell us your ideas for the future of navigation aids. Have a great holiday weekend, too, even if Arthur comes around.

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

Star Worlds: Pressure at the Top

Fri, 2014-07-04 14:29


Malcesine, Italia. July 4th 2014. Via StarWorld2014.com

Today, July 4th, American team Augie Diaz with crew Arnis Baltins in USA 8465 have more to celebrate than their American holiday: Independence Day. In the pivotal, and ultimately dramatic Race 5, USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins won their first race of the 2014 International Star Class World Championship and after the calculation of a drop race, maintain a position in the top five of the overall standings.

As the 12:30 pm scheduled first warning time for Race 5 neared, the Northerly Peler wind began to die and the Race Committee was once again forced to postpone the Star fleet onshore. After one short hour, the Southerly Ora breeze had completely filled in and for the first time during this event, the fleet was all clear at the start. The intense battle for victory in Race 5 had begun with a drag race to the left shoreline of Lake Garda to avoid a foul tide. Italian team ITA 8491 Diego Negri with crew Sergio Lambertenghi and Greek team GRE 8434 Emilios Papathanasiou with crew Antonis Tsotras were the most successful in utilizing the favored, left side of the course and consistently exchanging the lead for the whole first leg.

Greek team GRE 8434 Papathanasiou/Tsotras edged out ITA 8491 Negri/Lambertenghi and rounded the weather mark in first place, however their lead was short lived.

American team USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins, with incredible speed and keen understanding of the current and wind patterns, attacked from behind and took a commanding lead. Throughout the following two legs, USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins continued to control the fleet until an unforeseeable 100 degree right shift shortly after rounding the leeward gate mark for the last time.

Several other competitors including, NOR 8317 Eivind Melleby with crew Bruno Prada and GER 8340 Robert Stanjek with crew Frithjof Kleen, received the new breeze just before rounding the gate and were able to take advantage of the right shift early by heading up the middle of the lake immediately after rounding. USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins lost all of their once 200 meter lead in a matter of seconds and fought hard to cover chasing teams NOR 8317 Melleby/Prada and BRA 8474 Lars Grael with crew Samuel Goncalves as the group sailed toward the finish line.

On their approach to the finish, NOR 8317 Melleby/Prada lead USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins by just a boat length on the port layline to the pin end of the line. Within the final three feet of the race course, NOR 8317 Melleby/Prada made an error in calling the location of the finish line marks and ended up missing pin end of the line entirely, allowing USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins to sneak in and take the winning gun at the last second. NOR 8317 Melleby/Prada was forced to circle back in order to cross the finish line properly, and luckily still managed to place second. Brazilian team BRA 8474 Grael/Goncalves finished in a respectable third place.

As the 92nd edition of the International Star Class World Championship progresses onto Race Day 6 tomorrow, the final race day in the series, German team Robert Stanjek and Frithjof Kleen in GER 8340 lead the event by 10 points over second place USA 8465 Augie Diaz and Arnis Baltins. Eivind Melleby with crew Bruno Prada in NOR 8317 currently sit in third place overall with 24 points total, and Italian team Diego Negri with crew Sergio Lambertenghi in ITA 8491 and Brazilian team Marcelo Fuchs with crew Ronald Seifert in BRA 8398 are tied for fourth place with 26 points total.

Quote of the Day:
Augie Diaz, Race 5 Winner “We are fast at the moment and that means everything in this fleet.” commented Augie Diaz. “It is difficult to put a plan in place when there are so many well sailed boats but when you get out in the front, you can stick to your game plan a lot easier. We will see how fast we are tomorrow but it is going to be tough to catch up Robert and Freda (nickname for Frithjoff Kleen). We will just try to have a good start and take it from there.”

Living With Less

Tue, 2014-07-01 20:38

Travel is an exercise in discovering many other wonderful ways of life.  Everywhere we have been, we have found something that we loved.  It is tempting to grab our favorite ideas from these various places and weld them into a sort of Frankenlife.  Cruising only exacerbates the issue, because cruisers definitely do things their own way.  And that’s all well and good – I’m comfortable with my TV-less, underscheduled, more-spontaneous life.  It’s only when you go home that you really get the reality check of How Weird Have We Become?

While I was home, I spent a day helping a friend sort through her clothes in preparation for moving house. I used to do the same thing every time I moved: cull the clothes you will never wear again, and pack them up to be donated. Everybody wins.

But as we got started, and kept going, and kept going, and… kept going, I started to get chest pains.

“Did you realize that you own forty pairs of pajamas?” I asked, pawing through a heap of nightwear.
“I do not.” She looked. “Huh. Well, I like pajamas, they’re comfy.”
“If you wore a different pair every night, it would take you more than a month to get through them all.”
“Well, how many pajamas do you own?”
“Three pairs.” I thought for a moment.  “No, wait, I’m lying.  Four.  Two for hot weather, two for cold.”
She limited herself to a nod and moved on.  (Whatever she really thought of me, my friend fell back on her Canadian politeness.  Sadly for her, I think mine fell overboard in Colombia somewhere.)

Business clothes, casual clothes, nice clothes, old maternity clothes (“It’s an insurance policy.”) – everything had a good reason to be in her collection. My friend is a sensible person. She isn’t a crazy spender. She doesn’t fall into the revolting, mysteriously-persistent stereotype of Woman as a shoe-obsessed clothing acquisition machine. Nonetheless, she had a crazy volume of clothes hiding in various closets and drawers.

“Did you know that you own twenty-eight bras?”
“Don’t count my bras!”

I’m not trying to pick on my friend, or anyone else for that matter. I realize this is just me experiencing culture shock. But I have to wonder, dear reader: do you know how many shirts you own?  How many pairs of pants? If you went to your closet and counted, I think you’d be astounded.  Like my friend and her pajamas, how long could you hold off doing laundry if you wore a different outfit every day?

Erik’s locker: actual size

And I was the same. I know I was. This is a photo of Erik’s locker, with a small fire extinguisher for scale.  He has three shelves, and freely admits he doesn’t need most of that space.  My locker is more than twice as large but, I also use it to store birthday and Christmas presents, spare school books, and all of our luggage. My clothing is allotted a space the size of a refrigerator crisper. So I couldn’t be a clothes horse if I wanted to – there is no room. A quick inventory shows I own seven t-shirts (on a descending scale of: “nice”, “work”, and “swimming”), three pairs of shorts, three long-sleeved shirts, one pair of pants, five bathing suits, a few dresses and two weeks-worth of undergarments.  I have three fleeces in a storage bag from my New Zealand days, and some wool socks my grandmother knit me for the same purpose.

Let me be clear: I am not sitting on my high horse, wagging my finger at people who own a second pair of pants, or even a ninth.  I know that my tendency to keep it small means I cut things a little fine sometimes. For example, I lost the seat out of my jeans just before we flew home to Canada. Knowing I could more easily replace them there than here, I just sewed in a massive denim patch and wore them home anyway.  Erik informs me this was well over the line of acceptable travel wear. When a man who spends his days in safety oranges tells you your sartorial choices aren’t up to snuff, it is probably time to listen.

Nonetheless, the experience of owning few things has shown me that I need few things.  I sort through our clothes and toys a few times a year, and always find things to give away.  We replace what we need to, but the pile doesn’t grow. Some of our travel-acquired habits may be questionable, but this isn’t one of them.  Boat life makes you ruthless about what you allow to share your space, and I’m glad we have learned not to acquire (or keep) things we don’t need – clothes, furniture, kitchen implements, stuff of all sorts.  My apologies for not helping to keep the economic engine running, but if I don’t need it, I don’t want it.

Hopefully I won’t forget that when I have a grown-up-sized closet again someday.

GARCIA PASSOA 47: French Metal Surfboard

Tue, 2014-07-01 19:24

Aluminum centerboard cruisers like this are not often seen in North America, but they are common in Europe, particularly in France. Garcia Aluminum, a highly respected French builder, now reorganized as Garcia Yachting, often works on a custom basis but also builds to several standard designs. This Passoa 47, drawn by Phillipe Harle, is very representative of its species. Unlike the keel/centerboard boats most Americans are familiar with, these French boats have integral centerboards descending directly from their bilges. They draw very little water when their boards are up and make great coastal gunkholing boats. They stay upright when aground and can be driven straight on to a beach if desired. They also carry a great deal of fixed internal ballast in their bilges and are self-righting, thus are also suitable for ocean sailing.

Garcia is renowned for its workmanship and builds only in marine-grade 5086 H3 aluminum alloy. The Passoa 47 has a robust construction with 10mm plate down low that decreases in thickness as it climbs the hull. The chainplates are supported underneath by curved I-beams girding the breadth of the hull’s mid-section and are strong enough to lift the boat with. The fuel and water tanks, including the tank baffles, are integral parts of the boat’s bilges and form, in effect, a series of collision compartments that provide extra security when scraping over reefs and rocks. The ballast, consisting of 11,000 pounds of iron pigs (preferred over lead for galvanic security), is sheathed in glass and fixed in place in sealed bilge tanks filled with an insulating bed of tar.

What it’s about. Yes, you can beach the boat if you want

The boat is reasonably light for its size, but is driven by a conservative rig. A standard Passoa 47 has a relatively short deck-stepped mast (just under 60 feet from the waterline) supporting a cutter rig that yields an SA/D ratio that seems timid for a modern design. This helps the boat’s stability, as does its relatively wide hull form, but its theoretical AVS, about 110 degrees, is still a bit low compared to most conventional boats. In the real world, however, a Passoa with its board up will skid away from breaking waves that send conventional boats tripping over their keels. Several Passoas have circumnavigated and have cruised in high latitudes and there is no record of any significant capsize problems.

In spite of its non-aggressive sail plan, the boat can be very fun to sail. In addition to the centerboard, there is a daggerboard between the skeg that supports and protects the propeller and the low-aspect spade rudder. By adjusting these two underwater foils you can precisely balance the boat against the pressure in its rig and, of course, can also vary the hull’s wetted surface area.

The rudder is very shallow, so the boat can be beached, but there’s also a retractable daggerboard aft between the rudder and prop to help increase directional stability

On an offshore passage I once made aboard a Passoa 47 from Massachusetts to Virginia, I was amazed at how much balance can be introduced into the helm by playing the boards a bit. In moderate wind with the sails and boards set right you can leave the wheel to itself with no brake on. I often found the cleanest, quickest way to steer was almost totally hands-off, with just a touch on a spoke from time to time to make small corrections.

The boat can also significantly outperform its numbers sailing off the wind in a good breeze. Pull up the centerboard, leave down the daggerboard, and what you’ve got is a big metal surfboard with a nice fin aft to keep everything lined up straight. With 20 knots apparent wind on a dead run under the main and a poled-out jib with the board up we maintained a steady 9 knots of boat speed during my passage and frequently hit 14 knots surfing in moderate seas. Best of all, because all the ballast is right up in the hull, the boat has a much smoother motion than its comfort ratio suggests.

Garcia built 60 of these boats between 1983 and 2000, but no two are exactly alike. Metal construction, unlike fiberglass construction, does not depend on molds, and this allows for a great deal of customization. Most of the boats have an integral solid-aluminum stern arch abaft the cockpit, some of which are sharply raked and have lifting arms for hoisting tenders aloft as though on stern davits. These stern arches, of course, are great for mounting radomes, solar panels, and various antennas.

This is a more-or-less stock cockpit, but with a custom hard dodger added. The super-secure companionway hatch is standard. Climbing in and out is a bit harder, but you can dog it down tight in severe conditions

Some boats also have smaller integral arches forward of the cockpit, and these provide a great foundation for a dodger and can support a mainsheet traveler if desired. Having solid vertical supports to grab on to at either end of the cockpit makes it very easy to move around this normally busy space in a seaway; they also make it easy to rig an awning over the cockpit when anchored out under a tropical sun. At least one boat I inspected also had a unique super-large flush bridgedeck instead of a conventional cockpit, with just one small foot well all the way aft for the helmsman behind the wheel.

The interior accommodations likewise are extremely variable. Garcia in the past built boats to any stage of completion and there are a few Passoas with owner-finished interiors. Most, however, were finished for Garcia at their yard by the respected French firm Rameau. The standard layout has two small staterooms aft with a large master stateroom forward of the galley/saloon area and a large forepeak forward of a watertight collision bulkhead. The galley/saloon is situated within the short raised trunk cabin and on all Passoas I’ve seen this is the only area with full (over 6 feet) standing headroom, though Garcia may have extended the trunk cabin by request on some boats.

On most Passoas the saloon table is forward of the companionway, opposite the galley

On a few the saloon table is abaft the companionway, under the cockpit. The engine is under the table and can be completely exposed

On two boats I’ve been aboard (one owner-finished, the other yard-finished) the saloon table is situated all the way aft right under the cockpit and is surrounded by an enormous wrap-around settee. I thought this worked extremely well, though it does cost two aft staterooms. It allows for a very large galley and nav desk under the trunk cabin and turns the entire after half of the boat into an enormous social space that can serve as party central in amiable anchorages. As a bonus, the settees also make great sea-berths while sailing.

Specifications

LOA 46’11″

LWL 38’0″

Beam 14’1″

Draft

-Boards up 3’5″

-Boards down 8’1″

Ballast 11,000 lbs.

Displacement

-Light ship 26,200 lbs.

-Loaded 32,000 lbs.

Sail area 797 sq.ft.

Fuel 180 gal.

Water 250 gal.

D/L ratio

-Light ship 213

-Loaded 260

SA/D ratio

-Light ship 14.43

-Loaded 12.62

Comfort ratio

-Light ship 29.17

-Loaded 35.63

Capsize screening

-Light ship 1.89

-Loaded 1.77

Nominal hull speed

-Light ship 9.0 knots

-Loaded 8.3 knots

Typical asking prices $200-480K

GARCIA PASSOA 47: French Metal Surfboard

Tue, 2014-07-01 19:24

Aluminum centerboard cruisers like this are not often seen in North America, but they are common in Europe, particularly in France. Garcia Aluminum, a highly respected French builder, now reorganized as Garcia Yachting, often works on a custom basis but also builds to several standard designs. This Passoa 47, drawn by Phillipe Harle, is very representative of its species. Unlike the keel/centerboard boats most Americans are familiar with, these French boats have integral centerboards descending directly from their bilges. They draw very little water when their boards are up and make great coastal gunkholing boats. They stay upright when aground and can be driven straight on to a beach if desired. They also carry a great deal of fixed internal ballast in their bilges and are self-righting, thus are also suitable for ocean sailing.

Garcia is renowned for its workmanship and builds only in marine-grade 5086 H3 aluminum alloy. The Passoa 47 has a robust construction with 10mm plate down low that decreases in thickness as it climbs the hull. The chainplates are supported underneath by curved I-beams girding the breadth of the hull’s mid-section and are strong enough to lift the boat with. The fuel and water tanks, including the tank baffles, are integral parts of the boat’s bilges and form, in effect, a series of collision compartments that provide extra security when scraping over reefs and rocks. The ballast, consisting of 11,000 pounds of iron pigs (preferred over lead for galvanic security), is sheathed in glass and fixed in place in sealed bilge tanks filled with an insulating bed of tar.

What it’s about. Yes, you can beach the boat if you want

The boat is reasonably light for its size, but is driven by a conservative rig. A standard Passoa 47 has a relatively short deck-stepped mast (just under 60 feet from the waterline) supporting a cutter rig that yields an SA/D ratio that seems timid for a modern design. This helps the boat’s stability, as does its relatively wide hull form, but its theoretical AVS, about 110 degrees, is still a bit low compared to most conventional boats. In the real world, however, a Passoa with its board up will skid away from breaking waves that send conventional boats tripping over their keels. Several Passoas have circumnavigated and have cruised in high latitudes and there is no record of any significant capsize problems.

In spite of its non-aggressive sail plan, the boat can be very fun to sail. In addition to the centerboard, there is a daggerboard between the skeg that supports and protects the propeller and the low-aspect spade rudder. By adjusting these two underwater foils you can precisely balance the boat against the pressure in its rig and, of course, can also vary the hull’s wetted surface area.

The rudder is very shallow, so the boat can be beached, but there’s also a retractable daggerboard aft between the rudder and prop to help increase directional stability

On an offshore passage I once made aboard a Passoa 47 from Massachusetts to Virginia, I was amazed at how much balance can be introduced into the helm by playing the boards a bit. In moderate wind with the sails and boards set right you can leave the wheel to itself with no brake on. I often found the cleanest, quickest way to steer was almost totally hands-off, with just a touch on a spoke from time to time to make small corrections.

The boat can also significantly outperform its numbers sailing off the wind in a good breeze. Pull up the centerboard, leave down the daggerboard, and what you’ve got is a big metal surfboard with a nice fin aft to keep everything lined up straight. With 20 knots apparent wind on a dead run under the main and a poled-out jib with the board up we maintained a steady 9 knots of boat speed during my passage and frequently hit 14 knots surfing in moderate seas. Best of all, because all the ballast is right up in the hull, the boat has a much smoother motion than its comfort ratio suggests.

Garcia built 60 of these boats between 1983 and 2000, but no two are exactly alike. Metal construction, unlike fiberglass construction, does not depend on molds, and this allows for a great deal of customization. Most of the boats have an integral solid-aluminum stern arch abaft the cockpit, some of which are sharply raked and have lifting arms for hoisting tenders aloft as though on stern davits. These stern arches, of course, are great for mounting radomes, solar panels, and various antennas.

This is a more-or-less stock cockpit, but with a custom hard dodger added. The super-secure companionway hatch is standard. Climbing in and out is a bit harder, but you can dog it down tight in severe conditions

Some boats also have smaller integral arches forward of the cockpit, and these provide a great foundation for a dodger and can support a mainsheet traveler if desired. Having solid vertical supports to grab on to at either end of the cockpit makes it very easy to move around this normally busy space in a seaway; they also make it easy to rig an awning over the cockpit when anchored out under a tropical sun. At least one boat I inspected also had a unique super-large flush bridgedeck instead of a conventional cockpit, with just one small foot well all the way aft for the helmsman behind the wheel.

The interior accommodations likewise are extremely variable. Garcia in the past built boats to any stage of completion and there are a few Passoas with owner-finished interiors. Most, however, were finished for Garcia at their yard by the respected French firm Rameau. The standard layout has two small staterooms aft with a large master stateroom forward of the galley/saloon area and a large forepeak forward of a watertight collision bulkhead. The galley/saloon is situated within the short raised trunk cabin and on all Passoas I’ve seen this is the only area with full (over 6 feet) standing headroom, though Garcia may have extended the trunk cabin by request on some boats.

On most Passoas the saloon table is forward of the companionway, opposite the galley

On a few the saloon table is abaft the companionway, under the cockpit. The engine is under the table and can be completely exposed

On two boats I’ve been aboard (one owner-finished, the other yard-finished) the saloon table is situated all the way aft right under the cockpit and is surrounded by an enormous wrap-around settee. I thought this worked extremely well, though it does cost two aft staterooms. It allows for a very large galley and nav desk under the trunk cabin and turns the entire after half of the boat into an enormous social space that can serve as party central in amiable anchorages. As a bonus, the settees also make great sea-berths while sailing.

Specifications

LOA 46’11″

LWL 38’0″

Beam 14’1″

Draft

-Boards up 3’5″

-Boards down 8’1″

Ballast 11,000 lbs.

Displacement

-Light ship 26,200 lbs.

-Loaded 32,000 lbs.

Sail area 797 sq.ft.

Fuel 180 gal.

Water 250 gal.

D/L ratio

-Light ship 213

-Loaded 260

SA/D ratio

-Light ship 14.43

-Loaded 12.62

Comfort ratio

-Light ship 29.17

-Loaded 35.63

Capsize screening

-Light ship 1.89

-Loaded 1.77

Nominal hull speed

-Light ship 9.0 knots

-Loaded 8.3 knots

Typical asking prices $200-480K

Grael Takes Race 2, Star Worlds

Tue, 2014-07-01 17:07

Malcesine, Italia July 1st 2014 Via starworld2014.com

Race Day 2 of the 2014 International Star Class World Championship came to a thrilling end today after an intense battle between the top three boats and a near photo finish where only five seconds separated first and second place. The beauty, sophistication, and power of the Star Boats racing on Lake Garda this afternoon was only matched by the lake’s breathtaking scenery. The 87 boat fleet completed today’s race with great success beginning with a clean start, where Croatians Mate Arapov and crew Ante Sitic in CRO 7287 lead the fleet across the line at the pin end.

During leg one of the five leg course, Italians Diego Negri and Sergio Lambertenghi in ITA 8491 secured the second place position behind Arapov and Sitic and were closely followed by two Brazilian teams: BRA 8398 Marcelo Fuchs with crew Ronald Seifert, and International Star Class Yacht Racing Association President in BRA 8474 Lars Grael with crew Samuel Goncalves. Former International Star Class World Champions Mark Reynolds (USA 8335) with crew Beppe Oggioni and George Szabo (USA 8320) with crew Edoardo Natucci also pushed hard off the line into leading positions in the top ten.

Similar to yesterday in Race 1, the Star fleet largely favored the left hand side of the race course. Shortly after the start, the Brazilian team BRA 8474 Grael/Goncalves, with great boat speed and confidence in their strategy, crossed below the Croatian team CRO 7287 Arapov/Sitic on a mission to find a clear lane on the left side and easily took the lead.

At a very crowded first mark rounding, Brazilian team BRA 8474 Grael/Goncalves dug in deep to secure their first place position and began their fight to both maintain their place in the fleet and try to extend their lead. During the first downwind leg the top three teams, BRA 8474 Grael/Gonvalves, CRO 7287 Arapov/Sitic, and ITA 8491 Negri/Lambertenghi, quickly pulled away from the rest of the fleet.

Brazilians Lars Grael and crew Samuel Goncalves held their nerve as they rounded the bottom mark in first place with a 60 second lead, holding off CRO 7287 Arapov/Sitic and ITA 8491 Negri/Lambertenghi who were putting up a tough fight to top the podium in today’s race. Brazilian team BRA 8398 Fuchs/Seifert was the first of the chasing pack, 35 seconds off third place.

The top three boats maintained their positions for the remainder of leg 3, through leg 4, and on into the beginning of leg 5, but as they approached the last 1/3 of the race ITA 8491 Negri/Lambertenghi began closing in on BRA 8474 Grael/Gonvalves and CRO 7287 Arapov/Sitic. ITA 8491 Negri/Lambertenghi caught up 100 meters to the top two teams but at the final seconds of the race as all three approached the finish line, BRA 8474 Grael/Gonvalves crossed in first and received the winning gun. ITA 8491 Negri/Lambertenghi managed to edge out by a mere two meters to finish second leaving CRO 7287 Arapov/Sitic to finish third.

Quotes of the day from Lars Grael: “We firmly believed that the left would pay well because that happened yesterday when the current was on the opposite direction so even more so today. So that was our strategy and it worked very well. We got a big lift on the left to put us in a strong position, top three, and we stayed closer to the shore, where the current was very affective. So we rounded the mark in first and the Croatian boat was always close. But in the end Diego Negri came with amazing speed and it was very hard to control him on the last upwind leg. In the end we managed to win by just a little. It is just a pity we have the Black Flag from yesterday in the race that had more than 40 boats over the line by the GPS and the Race Committee didn’t do a General recall but it happens. We have to look forward, that’s the way it is.”

Newport-Bermuda Race 2014: Cruising lessons from ocean racers

Tue, 2014-07-01 15:10

350 NW of Bermuda…

‘Sleijride’ is nearly halfway back to Newport on the return delivery following the Bermuda Race last week. We’re in cruising mode again, down to four crew (from six), and enjoying single-handed watches steered by autopilot, 9 hours of rest, reading (!), and motor sailing through the calms.

Yesterday we had a very close encounter with a sperm whale that breached not 100 yards off our port bow, then proceeded to meander across the bow and dive off to starboard, showing us his big tail on the way down. Today we’re sailing fast off the wind, fair weather cumulus clouds dotting the blue sky and the hot sun baking the decks. Aside from the relentless heat, this is ocean sailing at its finest.

Participating in the Bermuda Race last week (my first), got me thinking about the differences between ocean racing and ocean cruising, and what the former can teach us about the latter. I’m primarily an ocean cruiser (though prefer the term ‘sailor’, as cruising has an air of laziness to it that doesn’t suit me), but having done two long ocean races now (Annapolis-Newport in 2013) has altered my perspective on some points. I’m admittedly no authority on the subject of ocean racing, but I’ve jotted some ideas down here, with a few anecdotes from our experiences to elaborate. Here goes…

  1. There is immense satisfaction to be had by completing a voyage entirely under sail.

The racing sailor certainly feels a greater sense of accomplishment arriving at a distant landfall knowing he’s completed the journey without the aid of an engine. Few cruising sailors nowadays understand this. Miles Poor, a veteran and huge supporter of the Caribbean 1500 likes to preach that on that route, ‘fuel is king.’ No offense Miles, but I disagree. The feeling of making landfall under sail is so thrilling, that I’m planning on introducing special ‘no motoring’ prizes for the 1500 this fall. Stay tuned…

  1. Hand-steering with a watch partner is good fun and great practice.

Ocean racing, unless you’re in the double handed or cruising divisions, does not allow autopilots. Being at the helm puts you closer to the elements and to the marine environment we sailors supposedly yearn for. With no bimini and the dodger stowed away, we were in it, driving the boat day and night through whatever nature tossed at us. Going off watch after three hours at the helm in wet, squally conditions is a relief, to say the least. ‘Without the bitter, baby, the sweet ain’t as sweet.’ You’re more conscious of the moment at hand – no escaping into a book while you hide behind the dodger. It’s just you, the boat, the sea and the wind.

  1. The boat, as most cruisers already know, can handle much more than you can.

Our best day’s run during the race was 185 miles, or an average of nearly 8 knots. Not bad for a 37-footer. It was made possible mostly by us pushing hard through a dark and squally night. Beam reaching in 20-25 knots of wind, we routinely hit speeds in the double digits, topping out at over 11 knots, barreling mostly blind through a moonless night, steering by the dim red light on the compass. The hand steering was tiring, and the off watch were bounced around in their bunks, but eating up the miles was worth it. Pushing hard made the challenge that much more exciting.

  1. Racers are almost always better prepared than cruisers. And they don’t whine about it (as much!).

The ’1500′ and all the rallies I work for require nearly the same safety equipment as an ocean race. In fact, the ISAF Special Regulations inform requirements for ocean races and rallies. Racers break gear for sure (they expect to), but the level of preparation, both in terms of crew readiness (with CPR and Safety at Sea course mandatory), and readiness of the boats was apparent on the docks in Newport and in Bermuda before the trip home. Racers carry more sails (more redundancy), and seem more aware of and ready for the risks they’ll encounter. They leave nothing to chance, something a lot of cruisers can learn from. And when’s the last time you’ve heard of a racing boat being abandoned (aside from the extremes like Fastnet 79 or the Vendee)?

  1. The shortest route between two ports is still a straight line!

Racers understand this better than cruisers. On Sleijride, we plotted the rhumb line on the chart and never deviated from it by more than 23 miles (14 miles so far on the way back). We sailed a bee line for Bermuda. We knew our boat wasn’t fast enough to take any ‘flyers’ – most cruising boats aren’t – so we sailed the weather we had on the course. In rallies like the ARC and 1500, it often pays to sail off the rhumb line to better set up to catch the trade winds, but sailing the shortest route is still the fastest.

  1. Racers are better sailors than cruisers.

Some of this admittedly has to do with effort and saving energy on a short-handed crew, but racers are almost always more in tune with their boats and how to get the most out of the. They’re not afraid to make sail changes, or leave sail up overnight. They know they’re boats and are happy going to the now in the dark to reef or change headsails. I learned a lot about light air sailing and spinnaker sailing from Adam Cort, fellow writer at SAIL who crewed with us last week and has way more racing experience than me. Patience is the key. Like an old cycling line I once heard about optimizing the pedal stroke, ‘slow becomes smooth, and smooth eventually becomes fast.’ Good advice.

  1. Overindulgence of alcohol is the bane of lots of racing AND cruising events.

I’m no teetotaler, but why are sailing and boozing so inexorably linked? We hit the dock at 3pm at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and our neighbor on a J/120 was so drunk he could barely stand. He was loud, rude and obnoxious, and about drowned himself when he decided to jump in the harbor right between our rafted boats. The DJ party music played till 2am three nights straight, and the sailors at the bar were drunk all the while. One or two celebratories is fine, but isn’t there more to see and do at these beautiful landfalls than drink? Come on people…

So, what do you think? Who have I offended and what did I forget? What can ocean cruising sailors teach the racing crowd?

Solo to Hanalei: Southish-Bound

Tue, 2014-07-01 02:18

Posted 6/30/2014

The Singlehanded Transpac is still in the set-up phase early in the race as skippers look toward picking a lane for the crossing from San Francisco Bay to Kauai. Looking at the tracks at race tracking, it’s telling that almost all the tracks were parallel as of mid-evening on Monday (there’s a three-hour posting delay, so that skippers can’t game someone else’s game plan).

The lone exception in routes in that report/time was Al Germain with his Wyliecat 38, Bandicoot. Germain took a sharper left turn than anybody else.

The fact is, Al won’t know for another thousand miles if he’s happy about that.

Odds are, he will be—Kimball

Gizmo 2014, glass bridge shakedown cruising #1

Mon, 2014-06-30 13:32

Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 30, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Redoing almost all of Gizmo’s electronics has taken longer than I would have guessed last fall, when it seemed like a good idea to rip everything off the boat. And sadly, I’m not done yet. But the hoped-for glass bridge theme is revealing itself and I like it a lot. But then again, new equipment and even just re-installed old gear also means fresh opportunities for things not to work together correctly. In this entry I’ll go over much of Gizmo’s test setup for the next year and a half — though by design there’s room for more — and also note a couple of features that have worked well and not so well during recent shakedown cruises…

Incidentally, the Garmin seen in the top photo is the 8212 I began testing in the lab, which fit quite neatly in the impressive second generation ScanStrut Deck Pod. A normal user wouldn’t then mount the Deck Pod on a V-Lock, but I want some further placement flexibility. Eventually, a Simrad NSS16 evo2 will also be installed on the flybridge, mounted in a Seaview Power Pod which is also impressive (and there will be a comparative review). Note the flat, rubbery sun cover on the Raymarine gS125; its sticky but non-marring backing seems to keep it well fixed to the glass screen, actually better than some other soft Ray covers I’ve tried.

There’s a lot more to the glass bridge concept than dark edge-to-edge glass over bright displays, though that certainly looks good. Consider what’s not on Gizmo’s flybridge anymore, like analog engine dials, stereo remote control, thermal camera joystick or even an autopilot head (the B&G keypad is probably a temporary holdover from the 2012-13 test suite that’s been Panbo’s header image too long). Glass bridge era multifunction displays have more functions than their predecessors and seem to get yet more with each software update. It’s not just about multi-touch controls either, though those can feel wonderfully intuitive and even elegant. That Ray keypad just past the wheel is very useful, and all four major brands now offer something similar (with the Furuno MCU002 Remote just released, great demo video here). Again, normal boats wouldn’t have two brands of glass MFD on their main panel, let alone four altogether, but I’m still getting the sense of how these clean, fast, easily controlled MFD’s can contribute to relaxed and successful navigation. One data point is how the always awesome Furuno TZT charting engine seems even more so in its new spot.

The glass bridge concept also isn’t exclusive to large, expensive MFDs. Once the Simrad NSS7 evo2 arrives, Gizmo’s lower helm will have three panel-mounted 7-inch touch MFDs each networked to their bigger siblings above as well as radars, sonars, and lots of NMEA 2000 sensors. (Furuno doesn’t have a contender in the hot 7-inch touch category — the relatively new GP1870 plotter/sonar looks a powerful value, but a TZT sibling it is not — though then again the TZT14 can closely integrate with MaxSea or Nobeltec TimeZero running on a PC like Chart Table 21). Once the first-generation NSS8 goes back to Simrad, Gizmo’s lower helm will also have much better sight lines than it used to.

Of course, a normal boat wouldn’t have so many N2K instrument displays, either, but this is a particularly great test bed for seeing how the different developers are dealing with somewhat less common data like engine, electric and tank monitoring. I’m tickled about having the data above in digital color and being able to easily flip to other useful screens when the engine is shut down, but every display needs more work, both in terms of data messages understood and gauge customization. I also intend to test their alerting and alarming abilities, though I doubt that any are even close to what Gizmo’s Maretron system can do (and good alarming is arguably more important than good data display).

Gizmo’s orginal engine gauges are not gone, but they are now tucked away in the flybridge console and in this main cabin wiring cabinet. I even created a new wiring access hole (which will get a nice door eventually), which also opened new space for the various black boxes behind the scenes.

One goal was to create more space behind the lower helm panel. I swear that this space was almost completely empty at one point this spring and will also claim that it’s potentially neater than it looks right now, with power feeds grouped to the right, N2K networking (eBay style) in the middle, and Ethernet/Wifi/Bridge matters to the back left. Note, too, the Vesper XB8000 blue box lurking behind the scenes glass bridge style but supplying AIS and more via WiFi, N2K, and NMEA 0183. I’m particularly pleased about the latter, which I didn’t really test much for the March XB8000 review, but it’s also where an odd bug turned up.

If I had a better photo, you’d see that Rose Point Coastal Explorer (running on Gizmo’s nearly antique Datalux Tracer police car PC) is not only getting full GPS and AIS info over a NMEA 0183 USB connection with the Vesper, but also Depth, Wind, Boat Speed and Heading that originated in N2K sensors (that spot-on Heading seen above is from the Raymarine EVO AHRS recently discussed). So the Vesper XB (and Vision sibling) are gateways as well as transponders. But, doh!, CE is regularly showing Gizmo’s screen icon going in the opposite direction of the boat’s actual heading. A log file has been recorded and Rosepoint is trying to figure out what’s going on. CE has numerous recent improvements, incidentally, including an update on that already nice route feature where WPx equals any future waypoint in your list, like a bridge with specific opening times.

The CE screen also shows STW (Speed Through the Water) almost two knots under SOG (Speed Over Ground). This is not due to a strong following current — millions of lobster trap buoys give us lucky Mainers nearly constant visual current info — but rather the fact that the poor paddlewheel is located right behind the protruding transducer used by the EchoPilot FLS (I haven’t finished wiring yet). It would be interesting to see if the disturbance to STW can be overcome with calibration, but while the Garmin system seems willing to give it a try, the results are just an error message. Perhaps the DST2000 Airmar loaned me years ago needs a firmware update before it can be calibrated?

But that’s quite minor compared to the problem with the boat’s new Maretron fuel flow system. Though it ran bone dry in last fall’s initial testing, the sensor plumbing started weeping diesel into the boat’s fortunately huge engine pan. It’s very likely an install error on my part — I wasn’t 100% positive about the thread goo I used, for instance — and wasn’t I kicking myself as the problem unfolded during Gizmo’s first cruise of the season, which was my annual gig with a WoodenBoat School nav class. Everything worked out fine, and I may even have fixed the leak by tightening everything possible, but the leak almost overshadowed how interesting the data is. I have much to learn about how the flow info will coordinate with tank levels and work with various MFDs’ fuel management systems, but I’m already seeing a seemingly accurate relationship between reported fuel economy and actual conditions, even a modest headwind at a low cruising speed.

And now for a 100% positive shakedown experience. When I casually tested the slick Raymarine sonar log uploading feature that Navionics recently added to its mobile apps (see end of entry), the data apparently included at least one past trip to this somewhat daunting-looking Barred Island anchorage. A few weeks ago the SonarChart seen at left had the deep water detail (probably from the older fishing bathy data that was somewhat confusingly folded into SonarCharts), but no detail of the anchorage, where the official chart is also quite vague about depths. It was real kick motoring in there with the new SonarChart I updated on a Navionics+ card, seeing useful info I’d collected myself and that is now available to every boater with access to SonarCharts. I’m collecting sonar logs regularly now — it’s nearly painless — and am up for trying any other easy sonar data sharing system. Navico just announced community-sourced Social Map, for instance, and — cool! — UPS just delivered the test NSS7 evo2. I have an install to do this afternoon :-)

For some totally unknown reason, though, I keep assembling these long (but overly infrequent) entries. But the last two images are just oddball fun. Usually, when you look at an AIS target overlaid on a satellite photo map, a boat that might be shown at the location is not the same boat that’s there now. But Gizmo and I have been hanging out in Camden Harbor so much that we made the Google map. I even know that the photo is at least current to August 2012 because the solar panels are at work and I’m aboard because the tender is clipped on. And note how close the Vesper GPS is registered to its actual location on the flybridge aft starboard rail.

Finally, here’s an image from a recent shakedown cruise to the Burnt Island public park I once enthused about in Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors. Someone has sweetly framed my article and hung it in the unusual little cabin I had discussed and photographed – an honor I got to enjoy with Gizmo anchored down the shore in nearly the same spot as 2010. Is that meta or what? And when are you coming to cruise beautiful Maine? I’ll probably be working on installs and bug control at my Camden float.

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

Long Beach Race Week: Doctor’s Orders

Mon, 2014-06-30 02:48


Long Beach, California. Posted June 29, 2014. Reported and photographed by Rich Roberts

The sailors with the best prescriptions survived the relatively windless distress of a difficult Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week—notably Bob Lane, the pharmacist who drove his familiar Andrews 63 named Medicine Man to first place in Random Leg PHRF 1 for the biggest of the 142 boats in 15 classes.

The 35th version of the West’s largest keelboat regatta was staged by the neighboring Long Beach and Alamitos Bay Yacht Clubs, and despite the absence of the familiar whitecapped race courses and breeze below the usual level the competition was lively.

Lane progressed each day with finishes of third Friday, second Saturday and first Sunday against the West Coast’s best ocean racers on courses as long as 22 nautical miles between Long Beach and Point Fermin at San Pedro to the west. He edged Jay Steinbeck’s Margaritaville (2-1-4) by one point and Ed McDowell’s Grand Illusion (1-6-2) by three.

Lane’s worst moments may have been a post-regatta protest hearing over a pre-start mess of five boats sailing on opposite collision tacks behind the line. There were no collisions and a handful of protests were dismissed.

Other winners in seriously contested classes included ABYC’s Chuck Clay and Kevin Taugher—the former in a fully chartered fleet of 11 Catalina 37s and the latter in the largest class of 23 Viper 640s.

Less contested was the recently introduced J/70 class where a veteran with more experience in the boat from ventures to the East Coast tallied four firsts, a second and a third. His name: Dave Ullman.

“The wind wasn’t big but it was good enough to sail,” the title sponsor said. “It was quite shifty, but we were always sailing.”

Clay held off defending champion and two-time winner Dave Hood of LBYC by five points to collect his fourth C/37 title in six years, and he never stopped looking over his shoulder.

“I never took my eyes off Hood,” Clay said. “In these boats you never have a big enough lead”—an opinion often stated by the world-class skippers who race them in the Congressional Cup every spring.

Clay, whose personal boat is a Cal 20, sails them once a year, too, in this event. After winning three of the first five races, he finished one spot behind Hood’s second and first on Sunday, as another LBYC team led by Ray Godwin scored its only win, as Clay shadowed Hood.

Clay’s crew was tactician Pat McCormick, mainsail trimmer Scott Atwood, trimmers Kevin Brown and Jim Bateman, mastman Rob Clay and bowman Mike Lamb. All are ABYC members except Rob Clay, his son.

Taugher, sailing with Chuck Tripp and Mike Pentecost as crew, was chasing an elusive goal in the Vipers, where he had been competitive and as good as second place behind Jay Golison only last year. He led the class all weekend, although stumbling to his worst finish of seventh place in the next-to-last race.

“We never got in phase with the [wind] shifts,” he said, “so we had a good team talk, had a good start at the pin end in the last race and won by about two minutes.”

Just what the doctor ordered.

Complete Results

Engine woes in the Singapore Strait

Sun, 2014-06-29 20:16

The engine failed our test run, but it at least had the grace to wait until we were beyond the worst of the shipping traffic. With a few miles left to our intended anchorage the needle began to steadily tick up again. This has been the pattern: it’s fine, right up  until it’s not, and then the overheating happens very, very quickly. We shut it down and drifted with the current, happy to be outside the shipping lanes. Jamie replaced 1 1/2 liters of coolant, much of which had spilled into the well.

It’s dashed our plans, if not our mood. After call to the mechanic, we settled in the cockpit to talk about plans. He thinks it’s the head gasket now, and that’s not a quick fix. What we do know: we can’t go to Borneo with an engine that overheats. Instead of heading into the South China Sea at sunrise, we’ll be backtracking across Singapore and returning to Puteri Harbour.

It’s a little more than a dent in plans, though, since there are fast friends who we won’t catch up with now- boats we don’t know when we’ll see again, as they continue from Borneo to the Pacific while we look to the west. As disappointing as it is, it has to be fixed first.

We had been so hopeful, if slightly nervous, heading out under the bridge in the morning. They never look tall enough, do they?

 

The land reclamation is tremendous.

Whole chunks of land exist where our relatively new charts show water.


Amid the traffic, there are still small fishing boats like this one.

This area has more piracy than any other spot in the world, and there are also a number of other boats that really don’t look like they’re fishing.

 

We watch hooded figures in an unmarked boat without fishing gear maneuvering around the stern for a while, before roaring off to another ship. Is this boat complicit?


Some boats have dummies stationed as some kind of pirate scarecrow. I’m not sure they’re fooling anyone. We liked teasing the megayacht guys back in Puteri about their stoic, camo-clad crew. Commercial ships in Singapore take it up a notch: zooming in, this mannequin has a (fake?) gun tucked in his belt in as well.

Perhaps to combat the piracy, and certainly to put on a big show, Singapore is by far the most militarized place we’ve been. We have to alter course to handle the wakes thrown by police boats that roar alongside monitoring shipping lanes. The last time we entered Singapore waters, loops were flown over the city by F-16s in formation. Totem was buzzed by a Chinook helicopter. It came back later with a flag, that that was more likely to be a practice run for Singapore’s upcoming national holiday.

 

Solo Transpac On the Ocean

Sun, 2014-06-29 13:08

A crisp seabreeze on San Francisco Bay proved more than enough to get 20 entries in the Singlehanded Transpacific Race upwind and out the Golden Gate on Saturday, bound for Hanalei Bay, Kauai in the 19th edition of the event.

There appears to be a solid northwesterly flow over the near-Pacific west of San Francisco, and even with a three-hour delay built into the Yellowbrick tracking the early north-south spread of the fleet is evident.

Peter Heiberg is shown farthest south in his PJ-50, Scaramouche V, and Al Germain looks farthest north in his Wylie 30, Bandicoot. Right in the middle of the pack is the veteran of veterans in this race, The General, Ken Roper, at 85 sailing his 13th race in his Finn Flyer 31, Harrier.

As in every Pacific crossing, the first few days at sea are about crossing the coastal zone of northwesterlies and “picking a lane” farther south or farther north as the wind fairs to become the trade wind that blows toward Blue Hawaii. The rhumb line, aka the straight line, is the northern route. Southern routes often have more wind, enough of it to compensate for extra mileage, and in judging that balance the art of navigation meets the science of navigation.

The Pacific Cup’s Race Village at Richmond Yacht Club opens with festivities tomorrow. Learn more here.

Youth…American…Sponsored: It Can Be Done

Sun, 2014-06-29 12:22

By Kimball Livingston Posted June 29, 2014 – Photo of Alvimedica under sail © Daniel Forster/Team Alvimedica

Fair warning to my journo colleagues. If the America’s Cup goes to Bermuda, I have dibs on covering it for The Onion.
And if you don’t get that, take a slow walk around the block, or doublecheck your Bermuda sailing history.

Stop.

Pivot.

Our news of the moment comes from the former home of America’s Cup, Newport, Rhode Island, where the USA youth team’s Volvo Ocean Race entry was christened over the weekend by former US Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin as Alvimedica, the name of the company bold enough to sponsor first time circumnavigators in one of the toughest-going round-the-world races. Not that they’re making a bad bet . . .

Roy would be proud. And I’ll explain.

The existence of Team Alvimedica represents further success and the next challenge for two young men who set out to build themselves a Volvo boat and team. To build it against the odds—and there ought to be a big, loud wow here—because there are a mere handful of sailors worldwide who can be sure of getting sponsorship when they need it. Like most of the American sailing population, Charlie Enright, 29, and Mark Towill, 25, are not that. The two “found” each other through the late Roy Disney’s Morning Light project, the boat and the movie, where already-advanced young sailors were given rigorous training in seamanship, navigation, boat systems and medical procedures by top players including Robbie Haines and Stan Honey. The Morning Light crew had a good go with an updated TP52 in the 2007 Transpac and at times threatened to beat their head-to-head competition, the pros aboard John Kilroy’s TP52, Samba Pa Ti, that being one of the most successful Transpac boats of all time.

With the Morning Light project behind them, Enright and Towill set some goals . . .

And that went well. In 2011, just for for example, Enright skippered the Oakcliff All-American Offshore Team to victories in the Transatlantic and Rolex Fastnet Races (Oakcliff Sailing being a story in itself), and in the same year Towill—who holds two degrees from Brown in economics and environmental studies—was a winner at the Melges 32 Worlds.

They launched themselves as All American Racing and, eventually, their young, up-and-coming vibe hit synch with Alvimedica, which describes itself as, “a young, agile company devoted to developing minimally-invasive medical technologies for medical professionals looking for the next level of innovation in the operating room.” It all came together when Alvimedica decided that Enright, Towill and the Volvo Ocean Race represent, “The perfect platform to express our worldwide ambitions.” And what better company to be talking to? When the partnership was first announced, Turkey-based Alvimedica CEO Cem Bozkurt noted, “Sailing has been our focus in sports. We’ve been joining races with a sailing team formed up of our employees the last two years.”

The race team, still in development, recently sailed to Newport from Portugal in semi-race mode, to further their blue water skills, and there is heavy lifting yet to be done. By phone from Rhode Island, Towill said, “Our main objectives now are to fully learn the boat and its characteristics, the sails, the combinations, the complications. Crossover points. Interaction with water ballast. We have to analyze everything to a new level of detail. Meanwhile, we also have to narrow the crew to eight, plus alternates.”

The team sailed with ten, crossing east-west, but the limit for the race—which starts October 4 from Alicante, Spain—is eight. “We tried to simulate what it’s like with eight,” Towill said. “We proved that it takes all eight to make any maneuver, any sail change. It’s hard, but that’s part of the allure.”

With Volvo class boats now sized down from custom 70-footers to one-design 65-footers, it’s tempting to imagine they’ve been tamed, but that was never the idea. The fundamental design premise for Volvo 70s was to make them fast, and make them wet, because wet communicates. Green water on deck. Flying spray. The cameras love it.

So, Mark. The Volvo 65? “It’s definitely wet. Fairly comfy off the breeze, but always very physical.”

And how do you look at crew selection? “You’re looking for skills, obviously, but you’re also looking for the ability to work in a team environment.”

I think I can safely add, in a team environment, under stress. Alvimedica will be out sailing every day, or almost every day, until a selected team of eight takes off for Europe on July 9. They won’t be back until late April, 2015, when the Volvo Ocean Race fleet makes its USA stopover, the sixth of its ten ports, at Newport. Think nine months and 38,000 miles from Alicante to a finish line at Goteborg, Sweden.

As a select few have shown us before, it can be done.

Testing day: mechanical and technical

Sat, 2014-06-28 23:10

Today’s a day of tests, in two very different ways- Totem’s Yanmar engine, and Totem’s blog!

Mechanical: the engine

With a clean bill of health for our overheating woes, we are heading out today for a trial run. We want to make sure it behaves as desired before we departing on the ~3 day passage across to Borneo. Today’s distance of about 50 nautical miles, across the bottom of Singapore, should give us an excellent indication of whether the overheating problems are truly resolved.

Cross your fingers for us, because we sure don’t want to be dealing with overheating problems in the nutty Singapore port traffic. When we were there just recently, our AIS topped out nearly a THOUSAND targets picked up in a 5 mile range. Holy freakamole!

Technical: the blog

With some big milestones coming up (nearly 500 posts! Peeking up at 1,000,000 visitors!), I’m giving the blog a facelift. It’s evolved quite a bit since I started this, wow, seven years ago! Hopefully the new look will make information easier to find, and meanwhile, it’s should make things easier for me to manage. I would love to know what you think: please reply in the comments, or Totem’s Facebook page, or send me an email!

That “easier to manage” part will probably take some time: at the moment of course it’s fraught with transition pains. Please bear with me with a few hiccups for now, while I work out all the bits that need to transition. It’s been in tough competition with other priorities: meeting old friends for the first time (a cruising boat, Madrona we’ve been in touch with for several years but hadn’t met in person), saying goodbye to friends here on the Peninsula who will soon be Indian Ocean bound, provisioning up for Borneo, and the myriad of little things that all take more time on a boat. And meanwhile, we have some miles to put under the keel… and they won’t come with internet access.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me!

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