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Raymarine Wi-Fish and FLIR One for everyone

Wed, 2015-01-07 07:42

Written by Ben Ellison on Jan 7, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Some days I feel like retiring, but wow, the changing technology I enjoy covering just won’t let up. Yesterday Raymarine introduced the wonderfully named Wi-Fish, which seems at least visually even more a sign than Furuno’s DRS4W WiFi radar of how mainstream marine electronics can accomodate our collective fascination with mobile computing. Wi-Fish is essentially a Dragonfly sonar display without the display but with an app that can purportedly do its job and more. And Raymarine didn’t stop there, also introducing a variety of new 4- and 5-inch Dragonfly models, including Pro versions that support the Wi-Fish app while also offering an “All weather viewable” display and GPS plotting on a great choice of chart formats…

The Dragonfly 5 model lineup tells the story, and it’s the same tale for the 4-inch models. Raymarine seems to have no qualms about building and distributing a huge number of models in order to give customers exactly what they want. So you can have a Dragonfly 5M that’s all chartplotter, a DVS that’s dual CHIRP sonar and DownVison, or a Pro that combines all of the above with the Wi-Fish app as frosting on the cake. Also, have you ever seen “Social Media Uploading” as a marine electronics feature before (some of which may make the impressive Dragonfly Screen Capture gallery)? Note, too, that these are the first Raymarine displays to support Jeppesen C-Map charts as well as Navionics (plus Lighthouse vector and raster here in the U.S.), a choice coming to all Lighthouse II MFDs soon. In fact, C-Map base maps are default on the new Dragonflys, which may indicate a tidal change, but then again, the Wi-Fish models could work sweetly with the Navionics charting app, particularly in Vexilar-like SonarChart mode.

I have not seen pricing on the new Dragonflys yet, but the FLIR press release that went with the CES debut yesterday claimed the first CHIRP downview sonar under $200. Mama FLIR herself was showing off what might be described as the FLIR One V2 thermal cam. What you’ll mostly see on the product site is the original version, which only fit the iPhone 5 and 5s, but the new dongle-style design will work with many Android phones. It’s due out around midyear and given the reversible Lightning port found on most iOS devices, that model will even take “thermies” like the one below.

Gizmodo’s Andrew Liszewski also reports that the new FLIR One will have more resolution but be less expensive and still retain the unique MSX dual cam technology that overlays the thermal imagery with edges captured with higher res visible light. It may be a crushing blow for the somewhat similar Seek thermal cam that several Panbo readers have asked me about. I warn them not to presume that a camera like this can perform like a true thermal navigation cam (which FLIR certainly doesn’t claim).

In fact, I got a brief chance to try a prototype FLIR One V1 during their Miami press cruise last year, and you can see below that even a fairly close bridge seemed out of range. I did wonder if the MSX image enhancement, also available in a new C2 pocket camera, might be useful in a real thermal navigation device. Then again, my shot was a prototype quickie and the new version is higher resolution. Plus, there are many shorter range uses for an inexpensive thermal cam as rather hilariously demonstrated by Liszewski and also at a recent FLIR One Hackathon. App developer kits are available and there must be some neat ways to utilize this tech on a boat.

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

Bruce Schwab

Tue, 2015-01-06 00:00

Listen Now. Bruce Scwab is the first American sailor to complete the legendary solo, nonstop Vendee Globe ocean race. It was his second solo circumnavigation onboard Ocean Planet, the boat he designed and developed on the west coast. 

Bruce grew up in northern California and started sailing with his dad a young age, eventually working at a rig shop for many years where he honed his skills on the owners boat as a solo racing sailor, winning the first event he ever entered.

DON’T MISS Bruce’s YouTube channel with some incredible footage from the Vendee, including a horrendous Southern Ocean storm.

‘In hindsight, I realized that for my entire life I’d been training for the Vendee and didn’t even realize it,’ Bruce says. The lightbult went off and he started putting together a program with the nonprofit Ocean Planet, who funded the boat. He tells the whole story – and then some – here on the podcast.

Bruce now lives in Maine and specializes in outfitting cruising boats with alternative energy sources and high-end batteries, and is on the forefront of marine energy technology. Check him out at bruceschwab.com or oceanplanet.org.

Want to go ocean sailing with Andy? Book a berth on Sojourner! Summer Annapolis-Lunenburg & fall Caribbean passages available on 59-north.com/events.

POST-CHRISTMAS WEST INDIES CRUISE: High Maintenance Vacation

Mon, 2015-01-05 22:29

Truth be told, I originally resisted the idea of basing Lunacy in St. Maarten this winter, primarily because she previously spent two other winters there, and I was hoping to check out someplace new. Also, I’ve always found the island to be a bit over-developed, with too many people, too much traffic, and too many big-box stores. Inexorably, however, it was the place that made the most sense for the sort of winter cruising we do (in short bursts of a week or so), because the airfares are reasonable and there are often direct flights from Boston. And during our just completed post-Christmas cruise, the island’s over-developedness in fact turned out to be a blessing, as we spent an inordinate amount of time attending to boat maintenance (a price one often must pay when wandering about on one’s own boat), and St. Maarten, if nothing else, is a great place to buy boat gear.

Problem number one, annoyingly, was simply getting out of Oyster Pond, where the boat was docked. Examining the boat’s bottom from dockside it seemed to be very clean, and I therefore assumed the propeller must also be clean, as our high-tech Ultrasonic Antifouling system has historically succeeded in keeping the prop much cleaner than the bottom. But no! On trying to motor out the pond’s famously sketchy entrance, fortunately in rather calm conditions, I found, as Gertrude Stein might put it, that there was no there there when it came to forward propulsion under power.

We barely made it out by the skin of our teeth. After we sailed around to Marigot, on the French side, and I finally got a chance to jump in the water with a mask and fins on, I found the prop was in fact incredibly foul with barnacles, though the rest of the bottom was almost spotless. Go figure. It took me about an hour of free-diving to scrape the suckers off with a very sharp knife, and after that maneuvering the mothership under power was much less hair-raising.

(Note to self: remember to ALWAYS get the boat’s bottom scrubbed before exiting Oyster Pond, even if it seems entirely unnecessary.)

This is probably as good a place as any to bloviate a bit more on Oyster Pond, in case you’re cruising through the area. First, you need to know that the fuel dock at Captain Oliver’s Marina is currently not (repeat NOT) operational. There’s actually nothing wrong with it, but it seems the marina recently changed hands, and the local government is dragging its feet about issuing the new owners the permit they need to pump fuel. The delay evidently has been going on for months now, which is a major pain in the butt, particularly for the Sunsail and Moorings charter fleets that are based there. They’ve been dragging all their fuel in by truck and have to schlep it out to all the monohulls in jerry jugs, as they draw too much water to come in close alongside shore to top up their tanks.

Also, if you’re approaching the Oyster Pond entrance from outside, don’t waste any time looking for the big sea buoys that used to be there to help lead you in. They all got wiped out in Hurricane Gonzalo last fall and have yet to be replaced. All that’s left are the three spindly little stakes that mark out the entrance itself, and these are very hard to spot until you’re within half a mile or less of where you need to be to shoot between the two east-facing reefs that make this such an interesting inlet to transit.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that there’s something weird about the entrance on the Navionics chart I run on my iPad. My tracks both in and out suggest something is seriously out of place and that you should rely strictly on your eyeballs when coming in here.

Doing it at night would be a very bad idea!

This is the track I recorded on my iPad coming into the pond after our cruise, and it mirrors the unrecorded one I saw going out. In reality I stayed very close to the three red stakes both coming and going, but the track shows me running perilously close to the shoal on the entrance’s south side, well away from the two easternmost stakes

The next major problem, coincidentally, had to do with our dinghy’s propulsion system. Our old 5-hp four-stroke Honda outboard had been getting increasingly unreliable over the past two years, and I had thought before leaving New Hampshire that this would likely be its last season in service. After I spent far too much time trying (and failing) to get it to run properly after we reached Marigot, I reluctantly concluded, as visions of the family getting swept out to sea in the dinghy coursed through my head, that we had to replace it immediately.

Fortunately, there were not one but two chandleries (Island Water World and Budget Marine) in Marigot for me to shop at, and the upside of the inconvenience (and expense!) was that at least here in the W’Indies it is still possible to buy brand new two-stroke engines that are lighter, more powerful, and more reliable than the fussy (but cleaner) four-stroke models that are available in the States.

While cruising the chandleries, I also bought Lunacy some new dock lines (we found one of her old ones had snapped since I left her at Captain Oliver’s in November) and some new padlocks (the old ones are starting seize up solid at very inopportune moments), plus an extra life vest for daughter Lucy, who is forever mislaying them.

And yes! They do have a working fuel dock in Marigot, at the Fort Louis Marina, so we were able to top up our tanks there. And we also bought groceries.

Wrecked boats on the beach in Marigot. More casualties from Hurricane Gonzalo

View of Marigot and Simpson Bay Lagoon from the ramparts of old Fort Louis. The fort was allegedly built to ward off noisome English pirates back in the early 18th century. I noticed, however, that most of its guns are facing the town

At last, on New Year’s Eve, a full three days after first arriving on the island, we had the boat ready to go somewhere else. And though I had sworn to myself I would never ever spend another New Year’s at Gustavia on St. Bart’s, I was persuaded by certain females aboard that this was in fact where we wanted to go.

The long beat to windward in search of 2015

One very small portion of the very large, very crowded anchorage at Gustavia

Anchoring there at this time of year is always a catch-as-catch-can affair. (See this previous post on some of the politics and etiquette involved.) After finding a crack to wedge into, I dove on our anchor to make sure it was biting, but after our neighbor dinghied over to cheerfully inform me that the last two boats anchored where we were had both dragged, I found it hard to feel sanguine.

The scene ashore, at least, wasn’t as frenzied as it usually is, and we had little trouble finding a place to eat. Afterwards, certain younger members of the crew (read teenage daughter Una) made a point of staying up until midnight to watch the madness and fireworks from on deck.

The next day we retreated (gratefully, on my part) to nearby Anse de Columbier for some swimming and snorkeling and beachcombing.

Lucy jumps off Lunacy‘s gunwale for the very first time!

Una conducts submersion experiments on her new (allegedly) waterproof iPhone case before trusting it in action

And the day after that, unfortunately, it was already time to head back to Oyster Pond. The forecast was for some fearsome wind to come up, so we left early before the sea could build up at the entrance.

Lunacy back on the dock at Captain Oliver’s. Note the new Tohatsu outboard and the new dock lines

Lucy remembers the coconut we bought in Marigot and decides to smash it open on the dock with a hammer. Unfortunately, it was all rotten inside

This turned out to be unnecessary, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.

POST-CHRISTMAS WEST INDIES CRUISE: High Maintenance Vacation

Mon, 2015-01-05 22:29

Truth be told, I originally resisted the idea of basing Lunacy in St. Maarten this winter, primarily because she previously spent two other winters there, and I was hoping to check out someplace new. Also, I’ve always found the island to be a bit over-developed, with too many people, too much traffic, and too many big-box stores. Inexorably, however, it was the place that made the most sense for the sort of winter cruising we do (in short bursts of a week or so), because the airfares are reasonable and there are often direct flights from Boston. And during our just completed post-Christmas cruise, the island’s over-developedness in fact turned out to be a blessing, as we spent an inordinate amount of time attending to boat maintenance (a price one often must pay when wandering about on one’s own boat), and St. Maarten, if nothing else, is a great place to buy boat gear.

Problem number one, annoyingly, was simply getting out of Oyster Pond, where the boat was docked. Examining the boat’s bottom from dockside it seemed to be very clean, and I therefore assumed the propeller must also be clean, as our high-tech Ultrasonic Antifouling system has historically succeeded in keeping the prop much cleaner than the bottom. But no! On trying to motor out the pond’s famously sketchy entrance, fortunately in rather calm conditions, I found, as Gertrude Stein might put it, that there was no there there when it came to forward propulsion under power.

We barely made it out by the skin of our teeth. After we sailed around to Marigot, on the French side, and I finally got a chance to jump in the water with a mask and fins on, I found the prop was in fact incredibly foul with barnacles, though the rest of the bottom was almost spotless. Go figure. It took me about an hour of free-diving to scrape the suckers off with a very sharp knife, and after that maneuvering the mothership under power was much less hair-raising.

(Note to self: remember to ALWAYS get the boat’s bottom scrubbed before exiting Oyster Pond, even if it seems entirely unnecessary.)

This is probably as good a place as any to bloviate a bit more on Oyster Pond, in case you’re cruising through the area. First, you need to know that the fuel dock at Captain Oliver’s Marina is currently not (repeat NOT) operational. There’s actually nothing wrong with it, but it seems the marina recently changed hands, and the local government is dragging its feet about issuing the new owners the permit they need to pump fuel. The delay evidently has been going on for months now, which is a major pain in the butt, particularly for the Sunsail and Moorings charter fleets that are based there. They’ve been dragging all their fuel in by truck and have to schlep it out to all the monohulls in jerry jugs, as they draw too much water to come in close alongside shore to top up their tanks.

Also, if you’re approaching the Oyster Pond entrance from outside, don’t waste any time looking for the big sea buoys that used to be there to help lead you in. They all got wiped out in Hurricane Gonzalo last fall and have yet to be replaced. All that’s left are the three spindly little stakes that mark out the entrance itself, and these are very hard to spot until you’re within half a mile or less of where you need to be to shoot between the two east-facing reefs that make this such an interesting inlet to transit.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that there’s something weird about the entrance on the Navionics chart I run on my iPad. My tracks both in and out suggest something is seriously out of place and that you should rely strictly on your eyeballs when coming in here.

Doing it at night would be a very bad idea!

This is the track I recorded on my iPad coming into the pond after our cruise, and it mirrors the unrecorded one I saw going out. In reality I stayed very close to the three red stakes both coming and going, but the track shows me running perilously close to the shoal on the entrance’s south side, well away from the two easternmost stakes

The next major problem, coincidentally, had to do with our dinghy’s propulsion system. Our old 5-hp four-stroke Honda outboard had been getting increasingly unreliable over the past two years, and I had thought before leaving New Hampshire that this would likely be its last season in service. After I spent far too much time trying (and failing) to get it to run properly after we reached Marigot, I reluctantly concluded, as visions of the family getting swept out to sea in the dinghy coursed through my head, that we had to replace it immediately.

Fortunately, there were not one but two chandleries (Island Water World and Budget Marine) in Marigot for me to shop at, and the upside of the inconvenience (and expense!) was that at least here in the W’Indies it is still possible to buy brand new two-stroke engines that are lighter, more powerful, and more reliable than the fussy (but cleaner) four-stroke models that are available in the States.

While cruising the chandleries, I also bought Lunacy some new dock lines (we found one of her old ones had snapped since I left her at Captain Oliver’s in November) and some new padlocks (the old ones are starting seize up solid at very inopportune moments), plus an extra life vest for daughter Lucy, who is forever mislaying them.

And yes! They do have a working fuel dock in Marigot, at the Fort Louis Marina, so we were able to top up our tanks there. And we also bought groceries.

Wrecked boats on the beach in Marigot. More casualties from Hurricane Gonzalo

View of Marigot and Simpson Bay Lagoon from the ramparts of old Fort Louis. The fort was allegedly built to ward off noisome English pirates back in the early 18th century. I noticed, however, that most of its guns are facing the town

At last, on New Year’s Eve, a full three days after first arriving on the island, we had the boat ready to go somewhere else. And though I had sworn to myself I would never ever spend another New Year’s at Gustavia on St. Bart’s, I was persuaded by certain females aboard that this was in fact where we wanted to go.

The long beat to windward in search of 2015

One very small portion of the very large, very crowded anchorage at Gustavia

Anchoring there at this time of year is always a catch-as-catch-can affair. (See this previous post on some of the politics and etiquette involved.) After finding a crack to wedge into, I dove on our anchor to make sure it was biting, but after our neighbor dinghied over to cheerfully inform me that the last two boats anchored where we were had both dragged, I found it hard to feel sanguine.

The scene ashore, at least, wasn’t as frenzied as it usually is, and we had little trouble finding a place to eat. Afterwards, certain younger members of the crew (read teenage daughter Una) made a point of staying up until midnight to watch the madness and fireworks from on deck.

The next day we retreated (gratefully, on my part) to nearby Anse de Columbier for some swimming and snorkeling and beachcombing.

Lucy jumps off Lunacy‘s gunwale for the very first time!

Una conducts submersion experiments on her new (allegedly) waterproof iPhone case before trusting it in action

And the day after that, unfortunately, it was already time to head back to Oyster Pond. The forecast was for some fearsome wind to come up, so we left early before the sea could build up at the entrance.

Lunacy back on the dock at Captain Oliver’s. Note the new Tohatsu outboard and the new dock lines

Lucy remembers the coconut we bought in Marigot and decides to smash it open on the dock with a hammer. Unfortunately, it was all rotten inside

This turned out to be unnecessary, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Sailing into 2015

Mon, 2015-01-05 06:02

By many measures, we did not have a great year. 2014 was not marked by exotic anchorages and interesting cultural exchanges, but routine maintenance (and breakdown, and more maintenance), costly equipment replacements, and attempts at upgrades with varying degrees of success. Gear failures cost us plans for sailing to Borneo and the Philippines, and just much everything we tackled took significantly longer than it could or should. It is marked by complications and aggravations.

But a good year, or not, is mostly what you make of it. And although we would rather not repeat much of 2014, we had some incredible experiences that stand out like fireworks in hindsight- events and encounters and trends that added light to life. Those are the measures to have.

Sundowners with good friends in Totem’s cockpit – all gone separate directions now

The symbolic start came early in the year when we were facing a number of necessary but expensive maintenance costs on Totem. We’ve been skating on thin financial ice, so this was stressful. One of our blog followers asked what we needed; we told him, and thanks to a giving and kind human, the cost of replacing our dying battery bank was covered. It was both humbling as well as uplifting at a time when we could use the boost, and in the process, has brought to us a new, virtual crew member.

Jamie builds the new battery box

Our outlook further improved as Jamie returned to selling sails, his first career as a sailmaker coming around again. He’s working with a Kiwi designer based in Langkawi and building out of China Sail Factory, and has helped a number of boats with new sails: vessels near us in Southeast Asia, but also in the US, Caribbean, and Australia. The income will help us keep going, but importantly, Jamie really loves what he’s doing- sharing from his deep experience as a sailmaker, now filtered through the practicality of years of cruising experience.

In 2014, we didn’t make miles so much as we made friends. When engine troubles kept us in places for long and unplanned stretches, the fixed time let us make new friends and grow existing friendships. It has been an incredibly rich year for cruising community in our life, and when I think of the boats and the people we have met and connected with, I’m incredibly grateful.

with friends in Penang – more unforgettable memories

The cumulative effect of all this is pure goodness. Although there’s a project list as long as my arm and only a few weeks before our intended departure for Sri Lanka and points west, we are now ready in the most important ways.

best part of my year: organizing a fundraiser for shipyard family kids

When we splashed Totem from the shipyard last month, it would have been easy to stay close to Langkawi. We could have gone over to the lovely and popular Butang islands for a holiday break and some of the R&R we needed. But had we done that, we wouldn’t have had a good test of Totem. So instead, we decided to make the roughly 600 mile round trip trek from Langkawi to Koh Phayam, a sleepy little Thai island near the Myanmar border. With all the projects of the last year, Totem’s systems needed a hard workout. Our trial paid off almost immediately as our watermaker decided to more or less implode just as we reached Phuket, where there’s a service center equipped with the parts and skills to make it right again.

We also returned to Koh Phayam to get ourselves ready, because it’s not just having systems and gear in order. For my part, it’s wrapping up a book manuscript on a guide for cruising with kids – a project I’m incredibly excited to be a part of. For Jamie, while “getting ready” would probably make him think of maintenance tasks, what he’s needed more than anything is a break: after a year with lots of work, spending weeks of flat-out work on the hardstand drained him.

working hands – Jamie in the shipyard

And so we did. And while there was still a lot of writing, and a lot of project work, happening during our stay in Koh Phayam… there were some unforgettable hours where the only thing we tried to do was enjoy ourselves, in good company, in a pretty place.

About two beats after I realized this was a surprise party for my birthday! Thanks to SV Atea for the photo.

As we return south to Langkawi, our heads are getting into countdown mode. We’re seeing places and people for the last time. The project list is evolving into a punchlist, with the must-do pulling away from the want-to-do. And it is tremendously exciting: 2015 is full of promise and adventure, and we just cannot wait!

On the move again at last – and feeling good!

Cruisey sailors know when you click through to the Sailfeed page for this post, it kicks a little change in our cruising kitty.

Not Snow, A Blizzard at the Rose Bowl Regatta

Sun, 2015-01-04 23:02

Georgetown University’s Nevin Snow and Katia DaSilva demo a light-air roll tack

Posted January 4, 2015 by KL

Rich Roberts’ Rose Bowl Regatta Report:

Sunday’s weather: Sunny; wind 2-8k NW-SW; temp. 61F.

Georgetown Romps While Newport Harbor Ends Pt. Loma’s Reign

Long Beach, California

While Georgetown University coasted to a comfortable defense of its College championship in the 30th Rose Bowl Regatta Sunday — skipper Nevin Snow and crew Katia DaSilva rocking a 37-point win over second-place Coast Guard Academy — Newport Harbor High School kept its foot on the gas to end Point Loma’s eight-year reign in the High School Gold class.

The Sailors’ (that’s their appropriate nickname) B team of Campbell D’Eliscu and Madeline Bubb matched the efforts of the A team’s Sean Segerblom and Briggs D’Eliscu (Campbell’s kid brother) in winning the first and last of their eight races over two days, and also notched two firsts and a second as NHHS swept the Gold A and B groups.

Cathedral Catholic of San Diego repeated as winner of the High School Silver class.

Thirty college teams coast to coast and 62 Gold and Silver high schools all sailed 13-foot, 3-inch two-person CFJ dinghies off the beach at the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier in the major youth sailing event hosted by the United States Sailing Center and Pacific Coast Sailing Foundation.

D’Eliscu and Bubb made the most of it with a first and second in the last three races, wrapped around an 11th. A bold last-second burst at the line launched their first place, but when they tried to match it the next time . . .

“We were over early,” D’Eliscu said.

But by the end of the day it didn’t matter. Bold moves often pay off.

“It was a big thing to win this at the start of the year,” D’Eliscu said, “especially among some amazing people.”

Those included A.J. Reiter, skipper of Georgetown’s B boat with Isabelle Luzuriaga as crew. Like many of the competitors, Reiter and Luzuriaga were Californians racing for Eastern schools.

Unlike most Easterners, “We’re very lucky to sail all year,” Reiter said.

The weekend conditions weren’t entirely easy as the teams urged limited knots of speed out of their boats in Saturday’s gentle breeze, and Sunday started worse with 2-4 knots from downtown Long Beach to the northwest before fading completely in early afternoon.

That was a good sign, because soon a steady 8 to 9 knots filled in from the locally reliable southwest to pick up the pace.

Georgetown thus remained a close second in the national college standings to Yale, which didn’t venture West this time, and added the trophy to the World University Championships it won in Italy last summer.

Top finishers

College: 1. Georgetown University, 52 points; 2. U.S. Coast Guard Academy, 89; 3. Fordham U., 98.

High school Gold: 1. Newport Harbor, 61; 2. Corona del Mar 105; 32. Point Loma, 107.

High school Silver: 1. Cathedral Catholic, 79; 2. Windward School, 95; 3. The Bishop’s School, 101.

Sometimes, You Just Gotta Rant

Sun, 2015-01-04 19:02

By Kimball Livingston Posted January 4, 2015

This photo that ran last week on Scuttlebutt Sailing News caused a stir.

Is this really “us” ?

It was shot dockside at the International Orange Bowl Regatta, sponsored by Coral Reef Yacht Club on the shores of mostly-lovely Biscayne Bay. With the US Sailing Center next door running the regatta “in cooperation” with CRYC, it makes you wonder.

Comments on social media ranged from simple outrage that garbage was thus strewn to huffy offense that a photograph was taken and run when the person commenting was sure that all that yucky stuff would have been cleared away quickly, because that’s how things are done at the Orange Bowl Regatta. Sorta to ask why, if the photographer is so hoity-toity particular, why not clean things up instead of snapping a picture?

I have my take, but first: Craig Leweck’s post on Facebook drew 406 Likes and 162 Comments, with many more Comments on the 92 Shares (at last look). Here’s a sampling:

Youth America’s Cup veteran and Olympic hopeful (NACRA 17 catamaran) Ian Andrewes looked at the pic and responded, “All this uproar about one over-flowing garbage can at one junior event — You should see what it’s like at other big events all over the world. The excuse that you’re allowed to litter because there wasn’t a nearby recycle bin will be the downfall of our oceans. Having easier access at event sites to offload trash will help. Ultimately, it will come down to educating people on how laziness causes damage, and packing your trash out if necessary is not that much work. I will try to lead by example. I hope more people jump on the bandwagon.”

Coach and training director Jay Kehoe chimed in on Facebook: “Worst part about this is, it’s from the coach and parent boats…. pretty easy [for them] to have walked down to the dumpster!”

Rich Jepsen, long a principal at Olympic Circle Sailing Club on SF Bay, had this: “Thanks, Craig, for forwarding the conversation about our responsibility to the waterways that give us so much pleasure. Many racing crews are switching to BYOB re-useable water bottles. Many sailing schools have banned one-use bottles and encourage students to bring their own bottles from home. We have easy water filling stations at our club.”

And there was this observation from hard-traveling, hard-sailing Rachel Smith: “Returning to the event site [a week later] we found this sort of rubbish on our boats (Stars and Etchells) as well. It was by no means just the kids, as I doubt that they were drinking beer and smoking (leaving their butts amongst the trailers).”

Which doesn’t fit with the following from Tricia Sines Walker: “As a former multi year PRO for Orange Bowl I have to say this is misconstrued. ALL fleets are told to pick up trash they find floating. Lunch trash is given to coach or support boats. I’ve even given prizes to the kid who fished out the most trash. This photo was probably taken right after a fleet came in. You have to figure 10 to 20 coach boats plus 4 to 8 support boats all hitting the dock at the same time and cleaning up their boats at the same dock. Is there going to be a lot of trash? Yes. Is it going to just sit there for hours? Absolutely not. We have a huge staff on shore to make sure things stay clean. I’ve been racing my J/24 down there for the last 10 years and raced Stars before that. You have never seen a bigger bunch of environmental nazis than us Bay sailors. So please…. No pot shots at one of the best run youth regattas in the country or at Miami.”

Justin McJones, Staff Commodore of Los Angeles Yacht Club, added, “We just returned from the regatta. Most coaches have bigger water bottles on board and they refill the kids personal containers. That shot looks out of context to me.”

And my favorite, from Mike Coleman: “I’m guilty. I’ve seen it and walked by it with out doing anything because I’m thinking the yacht club staff will do the right thing. Wrong. At a large regatta, everyone involved needs to pick up litter, even Tom Blackaller.”

Whatever the facts about this year’s regatta, I’m pretty sure that, next year, the organizers won’t let any such photo opp happen again.

But I’m boggled that so many (certainly not all) of the people who offered comments accepted the presence of plastic, at all.

The order of the day, folks, is BYOB. Many people do. Single-use plastic is anathema, and water from plastic containers is no better than (and, I suspect, often less clean than) water from the tap.

And if you believe in plastic “recycling,” it’s never too soon to start composing your 2015 letter to Santa Claus.

Aside from cleaning up on general principles (YES, Mom), there is so much documentation of the dangers of plastic as it degrades in volume that I surely don’t have to drag out examples for this readership. Single-use plastic is so obviously wasteful that it ought to be shunned on its own lack of merit, before it blows off into the formerly-natural world. How does it make sense to pump oil out of the earth to transport it in carbon-spewing ships and trains and trucks to carbon-spewing refineries to be converted into petroleum products to be converted into plastics to be conveyed to bottling plants to be filled and conveyed via carbon-spewing ship, train and truck to a shelf life of about five minutes?

Plastics are a miracle. Modern medicine would go off a cliff without plastics, and that’s just for starters.

But.

Who needs H20 hauled 7,500 miles from Fiji? I look at the Fiji Water crate in the middle of that mess and wonder, do hydrogen and oxygen bond so much more deliciously on the other side of the world? Notice, I refrain from asking,
what kind of _____ would fall for Fiji Water marketing?

I guess, the same one who buys Smart Water twice.

It’s going to be a struggle to jump tracks, but we owe it to the food chain that we’re so blissfully on top of. The food chain we’re absorbing.

And I grant the deniers that the evidence is not complete.

But the accumulating evidence is nothing to ignore.

Dropping plastic into the Blue Bin? That’s a story in itself, a long, ugly story. In recognition, the California Legislature in 2014 passed a ban on single-use plastic bags. Now the industry is mounting a campaign to overturn that ban.

Yeah, and cigarettes are good for you.

It’s hard to swim against the tide. A few years ago, US Sailing held its annual meeting in my home town at a Marriott where lunches boxed in plastic were the norm, accompanied by plastic knives, forks and spoons packaged in plastic, with all the plastic-bottled water you could drink. So you find yourself there for the day, and you’re hungry and you don’t like what you see, but . . .

Happens too often.

I’m ready to see my national authority engage these issues on behalf of ethical choices. Maybe the task of organizing national meetings gets harder, but maybe, just maybe, it’s our opportunity as sailors to make a difference, and build a legacy and . . .

Sigh. Thank you for ranting with me.

Georgetown Dominating the Rose Bowl Regatta

Sun, 2015-01-04 12:19

Posted January 4, 2015

Here is Rich Roberts’ report:

Sunday’s forecast: Sunny; wind 5-10k NW; temp 67F.

Sunny but Snow-y for Georgetown

LONG BEACH, Calif.

Once the 30th Rose Bowl Regatta got underway in Saturday’s light, chilly breeze, “It went well,” Nevin Snow said.

From Snow’s standpoint, that was the understatement of the day.

The skipper and crew Isabelle Luzuriaza of the Washington D.C. school’s A boat won all four of their races in the College A class—a big jump toward defending the championship they won for Georgetown University last year.

The Hoyas’ B boat also led its class with two wins in four races. Coincidentally, the only rival within reach of overtaking them in Sunday’s final rounds is last year’s runnerup, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy team from Mystic, Conn., 18 points back, 16 to 34.

There are 30 college teams coast to coast and 62 Gold and Silver high schools, all sailing the 13-foot, 3-inch CFJ dinghies off the beach around the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier in the major youth sailing event hosted by the United States Sailing Center and Pacific Coast Sailing Foundation.

There is seating for spectators on the pier at no charge, with food, refreshments and comfort stations available. Racing will start at 11 a.m. Sunday, conditions permitting.

Conditions did not permit that Saturday as flags hung limply under bright sunny skies until a modest southwesterly breeze filled in shortly after noon.

The temperature didn’t get past the low 60s, but that was OK with Avery Fanning of the Coast Guard team.

“I came from minus-2 [degrees] in Cleveland,” she said.

Snow is a San Diego native whose team won the World University Championships in Italy last summer and currently stands a close second to Yale—an absentee here—in the national rankings.

“We were kind of focused on going fast,” he said, “[because] the wind wasn’t very shifty . . . kind of typical Long Beach for this time of year.”

Meanwhile, Newport Harbor High School continued its dominance of this season’s Pacific Coast Interscholastic Association competition with a first-day’s lead of 19 points over Corona del Mar (35). Point Loma is third with 47 points and will need a mighty comeback to win its ninth consecutive Rose Bowl Gold fleet title.

San Diego’s Bishop O’Dowd leads the Silver fleet with 31 points, seven ahead of The Bishop’s School.

The leaders

College: 1. Georgetown University, 16 points; 2. U.S. Coast Guard Academy, 34; 3. Boston College, 51.

High school Gold: 1. Newport Harbor, 19; 2. Corona del Mar 35; 32. Point Loma, 47.

High school Silver: 1. Bishop O’Dowd, 31; 2. The Bishop’s School, 38; 3. Cathedral Catholic, 40.

Find the regatta website here

Gocycle G2, the ultimate boat bike?

Fri, 2015-01-02 15:30

Written by Ben Ellison on Jan 2, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Testing a Gocycle G2 folding electric bicycle outside a tent at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show almost cost me dearly. Aside from the beautifully clean design, I found the bike easy to learn and comfortable to use, and it’s a thrill to get some power assistance when you put extra pressure on the pedals or hit the red boost button. I started picturing all the enjoyable and possibly useful trips I could make around cruising ports and the dangerous internal voice of gadget lust began murmuring about the ample credit in my wallet and how I deserve what may be the coolest boat bike around. Consider yourself warned before proceeding to the impressive details…

Few cruising boats can carry full size bikes easily, so the folding aspect is quite important. The 16kg (35lb) Gocycle can get pretty small and the How to Disassemble Your Gocycle video suggests that the process only takes a few minutes (and similar for assembly). Note the availability of a padded and wheeled travel case. I think the whole kit would fit in one of the lazarette compartments on my boat Gizmo and I can even see getting it ashore in the tender. But note, too, the U.S. suggested retail of $5,199, not including travel case and some other desirable accessories like the dual kickstand; this is a serious gadget investment.

But the Gocycle G2 is also a tech marvel. The lack of visible cables and wires is not a Photoshop trick. They’re all internal, and combined with the injection-molded magnesium parts, make for a purportedly high level of corrosion resistance. In fact, the whole pedal and 3-gear chain drive to the rear wheel is so well sealed that Gocyle claims it will never drip oil, let alone catch on a pant leg. The Gocycle also has hydraulic disc brakes — very smooth in my experience — and while I don’t know much about other electric bike designs, I suspect it’s smart to have the motor mechanically isolated on the front hub. And I doubt there’s any other bike that electronically integrates the two power sources so thoroughly.

The clips above from the Gocycle manual helped me to understand the all-LED “dashboard” with the photo showing a bike in 3rd gear at full speed with a full battery. I quickly got used to how you upshift with right-hand thumb button and how the bike conveniently auto downshifts as you lose speed. I’m pretty sure that the demo bike was in “Eco” mode, which meant that the motor didn’t automatically kick in until I was pushing the pedals pretty hard, but the setup is quite adjustable, and I could left thumb the Power button whenever I wanted a boost anyway.

This table shows the four possible modes that you can select using a series of long presses on the gear and power buttons. However, for full customization you use the Gocycle’s Bluetooth connection to their iOS app or Android app, which can also track miles and calories, disable a stolen bike and even upload diagnostics to Gocycle customer support (see below). With judicious use you can supposedly get “up to” 40 miles of assisted bike travel on a 5.5 hour charge of the 10.75Ah 22v lithium battery built into the frame, burning a few calories to boot. Is your inner gadget lust voice speaking up yet?

But what’s a Gocycle like on hills and will all this high tech hold up? Most reviews out there are for the orginal model but The Telegraph’s Chris Knapman liked the G2 for urban use, and I also ferreted out a G2 Up Slope Demo video that looks encouraging. I think it bodes well that the GoCycle G2 is a second generation product that’s been out for a couple of years. The great Torqueedo electric outboard that I now find very reliable went through a similar development process.

More good news is that UK-based Karbon Kinetics has already established Gocycle sales and support outlets in south Florida and you can test one right now at the VanDutch Yacht Center in Fort Lauderdale. Note, too, how the new Gocycle Marine brochure was smartly photographed around superyachts – a high budget environment where these bikes make lots of sense for passengers and crew alike. For the record, though, even an old trawler guy with a bad hip enjoyed a Gocycle G2 demo immensely and might have reached for his wallet if he cruised full time.

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

The Hit at Avalon

Thu, 2015-01-01 21:06

Photo credit KTLA Channel 5

Posted January 1, 2015 by Kimball Livingston

Harbor Patrolman Tim Mitchell died while attempting to save a 65-foot dive boat, the King Neptune, as it was being driven ashore at Avalon Harbor, Catalina on Tuesday night, according to a statement from the City of Avalon. Mitchell, a New Zealand native and naturalized citizen of the USA, had worked as a dive instructor at Avalon-based Scuba Luv which featured excursions aboard the King Neptune, and was close to its owners. He had been a dive instructor for ten years and joined the Harbor Patrol in May, 2014.

Mitchell attempted to leap from boat to shore but instead was crushed between the boat and the rocks. This is the King Neptune on Tuesday night. Mitchell’s body was not recovered until the following day . . .

Video of the storm—

Happy New Year!

Thu, 2015-01-01 13:47

Of light, pressure, Jewish DNA, and lobster trap Christmas trees

Wed, 2014-12-31 17:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Dec 31, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

I hope that Panbo readers everywhere enjoyed Hanukkah, the winter solstice, Christmas and/or any other way you celebrate the holiday season. We deserve all the light and cheer we can find, especially when the shortest days are as dreary as they were here on the coast of Maine this year. Instead of cold gray drizzle my almost-Christmas-eve photo above might have shown sparkly snow highlighting the Rockland Public Landing and the islands across the Bay, but, hey, our area does lay claim to the “World’s Largest Lobster Trap Tree“…

This photo taken Christmas afternoon tells more of the weather story. While the new Starpath Mintaka Duo barograph doesn’t agree about the exact pressure with the Weems & Plath model I’m also testing, both their 24-hour graphs illustrate the fairly steep low that unkindly coincided with the holiday. But I’m learning to appreciate the value of a recording barometer again, and will post a comparative review soon. (Incidentally, attendees of my all-day Trawlerfest “Soup-to-Nuts” nav seminar on January 21 in hopefully sunny Riviera Beach, Florida, will get some nice chart tools thanks to generous Weems & Plath sponsorship.)

Meanwhile I had plenty of indoor time to explore the somewhat wild world of lobster trap Christmas trees. It seems that Rockland’s “World’s Largest” claim my be off base at 35 feet, or at least it was in 2010 when Beals Island put up this monster. In fact, the next year Beals and neighboring Jonesport went even bigger, stacking 1,364 traps 60 feet high, and both the Bangor Daily and the New York Times covered the “friendly competition”. I don’t know if those way-Down-East lobstering towns have maintained their stride, but it seems that Gloucester had a 45-foot tree last year and while the Provincetown Lobster Pot Tree doesn’t look as large, it does have its own Facebook page.

It turns out that there are many ways to style a lobster trap Christmas tree. I’m particularly fond of ones that use the now antique bowed oak traps, like this Cape Porpoise creation I found on A Traveler’s Photo Journal. But our local Rockland tree remains a pleasure of the season, and I applaud everyone who brings light and fun to the long nights.

I’m also enthused about Gloucester’s new lobster trap menorah, which may be a first. We’ve celebrated Hanukkah in my household for decades, but it took on new meaning when I discovered that my own DNA is almost 25% Ashkenazi Jew. We all joined the 23andMe DNA program long ago, mainly because a family member works there, and both the medical and geneological information has been interesting. But it was a real surprise when the 23andMe researchers decided they had enough data to identify ancestral origins.

I thought that I knew a lot about my seemingly 100% WASP heritage but the graphic above shows how almost every one of my chromosome pairs contains Ashkenazi DNA. The fact that it’s just in one of each pair indicates that it’s all from one parent and its presence in my X chromosone means that the parent was my mom. Beyond that is a fascinating mystery for me. I’m trying to solve it via traditional geneology, which has become amazing in our connected world, but the possible secret in my family past may only get solved with DNA matches. As a good friend likes to say, “don’t believe everything you think”!

Incidentally, I have very high confidence in the 23andMe analysis because my daughter’s screen shows about 12% Ashkenazi, my Jewish second wife about 98%, my stepdaughter 49%, and my step son 49% with his X chromosone indicating it all came from his mom. The science doesn’t factor in relationships, but this all makes total sense, apart from the mystery on my side. The cool part is that my daughter and I feel like we’re more connected to a bigger world than we thought we were, and even closer to the extended Ashkenazi family we already felt close to. DNA is certainly an interesting technology, but be aware that another possible outcome is sometimes phrased as “my daddy’s not my daddy”!

OK, so I’m probably writing the most off-topic Panbo entry ever, and I may as well conclude with the photos of our traditional rubber plant Christmas tree and the glowing light that is my grand daughters. I wish you all a new year full of gorgeous clear high pressure systems and light of every sort. May you enjoy lobster trap Christmas trees and may any DNA surprises be as pleasant as mine. Regular marine electronics content will resume shortly.

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

Tragic Wages of Big Wind

Wed, 2014-12-31 16:35

Posted December 31, 2014 by K.L.

Both ends of California have been pounded by 30-knot winds and higher gusts as 2014 blows out the door.

At Avalon Harbor there were two deaths including a harbor patrolman lost trying to do his job. The patrolman, not yet named, was reportedly swept overboard and pinned between boats and rocks.

KTLA Channel 5 is running this photo:

There have been no comparable dramas on San Francisco Bay, but high winds beat the waters to a froth, and the folks from Motor Lifeboat Station Fort Baker had their hands full rounding up strays that drifted off their moorings in Richardson Bay.

Sigh.

Happens every year.

I don’t have pics of the Coasties at work in Richardson Bay, but these USCG shots from recent training missions outside the Gate make the point of what they do by way of preparedness. Having been aboard one of these, I can tell you they’re fast, efficient and spartan. Strap yourself in and go. And btw, even when you’re strapped in, it’s a brutal ride.

So Long Barcelona

Wed, 2014-12-31 14:30

By Kimball Livingston Posted December 31, 2014

Somewhere in that jumble ashore is Las Ramblas, and somewhere among the towers are the spires of Sagrada Familia. But for sixteen men on eight boats, the only thoughts are how to escape the Med and predictions of light air.

Everybody likes a fast start to a long race, and they don’t get any longer than Barcelona to Barcelona via the three capes. There’s plenty of wind waiting in the Atlantic, but how to get there?

Aboard Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson and Pepe Ribes were first away, and don’t they wish that had long-term implications for a race that will run through January, February and March, 26,000 miles.

“You have to convince yourself it’s a normal day,” says Bruno Garcia of We Are Water. “I lie to myself that I’m just sailing to Barcelona.”

Garcia, a Barcelona native, is interesting for being a cardiologist, not a professional sailor, and he is racing with his younger brother, Willy. Here is the background on that:

The Barcelona brothers were the last to sign up for the Barcelona World Race 2014/2015. The Spanish pair make their first attempt at sailing around the world as a duo, non stop and without assistance.

Although they are very experienced sailors, strictly speaking they are amateurs with full time, demanding careers away from sailing. Bruno is an eminent cardiologist, and Willy has a business in the jewelry sector, but for many, many years they have shared a dream, to race around the world together by boat.

Bruno already knows a little of what it is to take part in the Barcelona World Race. He sailed part of the 2010/2011 edition on the IMOCA 60 President at the side of the renowned Jean Le Cam. But they were forced to abandon into the Cape Verde islands after breaking their mast.

The brothers have a strong background in ocean and offshore races, sailing solo and together on the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Both sailed the Mini Transat and sailed extensively in the Figaro class, including the AG2R together.

Here is the race web site and here is video of the departure.

Kamau Iandiataiyero

Tue, 2014-12-30 08:01

Listen Now.

Kamau Iandiataiyero is a learner. He discovered sailing in July 2013 on a Rainbow in Annapolis, and has taken to the sport incredibly quickly. So quickly, in fact, that he’s building his own bluewater boat – one that he also designed – and hopes to set off by 2017.

Kamau is not your average sailor. He’s not average anything – at 6’7″, he found production boats literally don’t fit him. But they don’t fit his personality either, which you’ll soon discover in this very cool episode with a very inspiring dude. We talked about Kamau’s project, how he got into sailing, how he took the leap to desing his own boat and more.

Kamau is using Erik de Jong as his naval architect in fact, so there is definitely some crossover here. Kamau actually first reached out to me before the boat show in Annapolis this fall to have me pick apart his original design on the boat.

Check out Kamau’s YouTube channel for some very insightful videos at youtube.com/user/kamauiandiataiyero.

Want to go ocean sailing with Andy? Book a berth on Sojourner and sail to Nova Scotia in July or the Caribbean in November at 59-north.com/events.

FRIVOLOUS BOAT GEAR: What I Didn’t Get for Christmas

Fri, 2014-12-26 17:01

I did drop some broad hints this year about maybe getting an aerial drone from Santa Claus, thinking I might like to shoot some aerial video of Lunacy under sail, but these seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Instead I got unguents. Which is fine by me, as by the time I do finally get around to (maybe) getting a drone, the ongoing drone wars no doubt will have led to the marketing of even cheaper, better drones with more advanced capabilities. Consider, for example, Exhibit 1: the brand new soon-to-be-released amphibious HexH2o drone, which can not only land on water, but can also shoot video of what’s going on under the water after it has landed.

And you needn’t take my word for it, you can watch this video of it shooting video right here:

This thing may not be quite so frivolous as it seems, because I can think of at least one useful purpose for it. Imagine, for example, you’re coming into a tropical anchorage somewhere and you want to scout ahead and look for a good spot to drop the hook, free of coral and grass. Just launch the HexH2o for an underwater look-see, and once it finds a nice spot, you could just leave it floating there holding your space until you get there. Once you get a few boats in one anchorage launching units for this purpose, you’ll have some serious drone wars going on for sure.

Dometic’s new thermo-electric Cup Cooler, on the other hand, is, I think, a truly frivolous piece of kit that can be used to modernize any not-so-frivolous sailboat cockpit.

A refrigerated cup-holder! Recreational marine technology has at last reached its apogee!

It mounts flush, has some swank blue LED bling lighting so you can find it in the dark, and it only draws 3.1 amps of power. Which admittedly on a sailboat is a pretty big only, but it does also have an automatic low-voltage cut-off switch so that it won’t drain your batteries down to zero after you’ve passed out from drinking cold beer out of it.

And, yes, it too has a video:

ABSENCE ALERT: I’m about to drag the family down to the boat for a week afloat in the W’Indies. I’ll be sure to share some gory details with you on my return.

FRIVOLOUS BOAT GEAR: What I Didn’t Get for Christmas

Fri, 2014-12-26 17:01

I did drop some broad hints this year about maybe getting an aerial drone from Santa Claus, thinking I might like to shoot some aerial video of Lunacy under sail, but these seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Instead I got unguents. Which is fine by me, as by the time I do finally get around to (maybe) getting a drone, the ongoing drone wars no doubt will have led to the marketing of even cheaper, better drones with more advanced capabilities. Consider, for example, Exhibit 1: the brand new soon-to-be-released amphibious HexH2o drone, which can not only land on water, but can also shoot video of what’s going on under the water after it has landed.

And you needn’t take my word for it, you can watch this video of it shooting video right here:

This thing may not be quite so frivolous as it seems, because I can think of at least one useful purpose for it. Imagine, for example, you’re coming into a tropical anchorage somewhere and you want to scout ahead and look for a good spot to drop the hook, free of coral and grass. Just launch the HexH2o for an underwater look-see, and once it finds a nice spot, you could just leave it floating there holding your space until you get there. Once you get a few boats in one anchorage launching units for this purpose, you’ll have some serious drone wars going on for sure.

Dometic’s new thermo-electric Cup Cooler, on the other hand, is, I think, a truly frivolous piece of kit that can be used to modernize any not-so-frivolous sailboat cockpit.

A refrigerated cup-holder! Recreational marine technology has at last reached its apogee!

It mounts flush, has some swank blue LED bling lighting so you can find it in the dark, and it only draws 3.1 amps of power. Which admittedly on a sailboat is a pretty big only, but it does also have an automatic low-voltage cut-off switch so that it won’t drain your batteries down to zero after you’ve passed out from drinking cold beer out of it.

And, yes, it too has a video:

ABSENCE ALERT: I’m about to drag the family down to the boat for a week afloat in the W’Indies. I’ll be sure to share some gory details with you on my return.

Cruisey holidays in Thailand

Thu, 2014-12-25 05:11

Growing up in the northern hemisphere mid-latitudes, it still feels strange to have Christmas on a sunny beach, but it’s not too hard to get used to.  Annual decorations were stored in our garage in stacks of boxes at home, but they’re not missed. We keep our old traditions, just in simpler ways, and shifted a little to adapt to new surroundings- as we have in Mexico, Australia, and Indonesia.

Familiar decorations set the mood and don’t have to take up a lot of storage. Our Christmas stockings are almost relics; mine and Jamie’s dating from our childhood, the children’s since they were babies. There’s a hand stitched table runner from my youth, and a collection of crocheted snowflakes that Jamie and I have put on our tree for a couple of decades now. Most of our paper-cutout nisse (little Danish gnomes) have fallen apart, but a few are left to come out to play tricks.

As much as I miss our custom of getting a fresh tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, our mast does a pretty good stand-in. Wound with tinsel, lights, and a handful of ornaments, it’s a festive centerpiece to the main cabin. The kids got tired of waiting for me and Jamie and simply decorated it themselves while we were ashore one morning. With a few drops of spruce and balsam cedar essential oils diffusing in the cabin, I can close my eyes and conjure up our old living room with swags of greenery on the mantle and columns.

Food-centric rituals are pretty portable, as long as you can find the ingredients. When the expat-oriented import markets in Phuket last week offered up applesauce and sour cream, it was just in time to make my friend Rebecca’s latke recipe and spend an evening talking about Hannukah around the dinner table.

Cookies are part of the season too, and always more fun to make with friends. Sailing north from Phuket we brought another crew member- the girls’ friend Jana from Momo. With molasses scored in Phuket, they spent the long days in transit making gingerbread cookies to leave for Santa, and a small village worth of gingerbread houses.

We arrived in Koh Phayam on winter solstice. Even though our location (about nine degrees above the equator) means that the difference in daylight hours difficult to discern between seasons, I can’t resist making sun bread.We put ourselves in the mood for the season, and a feeling of darker days, by reading aloud after dinner from my childhood copy of the Swedish classic- Erik And The Christmas Horse.

We’d anticipated gathering with a number of friends here in Koh Phayam but were slow to organize anything specific, so on Christmas Eve, Jamie simply donned his Santa hat and went bombing around the anchorage to set up sundowners on the beach.

A low key gathering ensued, with drinks and nibbles shared while the sun set on the Andaman Sea: Australian, Thai, Kiwi, Swiss, British, French, Canadian, American, Italian.

Tourtieres (meat pies) are a Quebecois tradition we’ve adopted for Christmas eve, so our crew brought beach-friendly mini pies. Other boats shared from their seasonal customs, like Wandoo’s rum truffles washed down with a little of Nicole’s homemade Irish cream- yum! The kids had a sizable group of friends to hang out with into the evening, while Jamie and I stayed up late wrapping gifts and watching “Love Actually”.

And then there’s the priceless tradition of an awkwardly posed family group photo, as everyone waits in vain for the shutter to click from the self-timer on a precariously perched camera. We have that one covered! But a Christmas morning brunch of waffles, REAL maple syrup (another Phuket luxury) and gin fizzes make it all good.

It feels like we’ve done so much these last couple of weeks- Jamie’s project list has been nuts, and I’m heads down trying to finish this book manuscript. At least the holiday side has been very low key, while still full of traditions that are meaningful for our family. It wasn’t until we got to Phuket in mid-December that we even heard a Christmas carol in a store: the holidays aren’t sold to us so much, so we’re able to make them our own…wiggling our toes in the sand, talking around the dinner table, telling stories into the night with friends under stars or fairy lights. But things could always get crazy. I mean, still have New Years Eve and a birthday this coming week!

~ Happy holidays from the Totem crew

Holiday revelers know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

On Ice

Wed, 2014-12-24 09:42
We’re out reconnecting with our Canadian roots. Merry Christmas, everyone! See you in the new year.

Tim Wright, Yacht Photographer

Tue, 2014-12-23 00:00

Listen Now.

Andy sits down with yachting photography Tim Wright last week at the ARC finish in Saint Lucia. Tim has been photographing the ARC finish since 2000, and has been a professional photographer since the early 1990s. 

He sailed, single-handed, in the first ARC in 1986 on a 29-footer, and never went home. After a lightbulb idea to photograph a race in Bequia, he took the success of that and expanded on it to create what he calls an ‘itinerant photography lifestyle,’ whereby he sails his boat up and down the Caribbean taking photos of sailing events.

We talk about his career ARC and how he ‘made’ it in photography and created one heck of a lifestyle job. See all of Tim’s work on photoaction.com.

Want to go ocean sailing with Andy? Book a berth on Sojourner, Serenity and others at the newly redesigned 59-north.com/events.

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