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Pac Cup Tracker Goes Live

Thu, 2014-07-17 19:40

Via Pacific Cup
Kaneohe Bay, HI, July 17, 2014 – It’s the moment many have been waiting for: the first of Pacific Cup’s 55-boat fleet, Venture (a Jenneau 49 in Cruising Division) is expected to cross the magical line, 200 nautical miles from Hawaii late this afternoon, and you will be able to follow the race online, in real time, on the Pacific Cup website. Until then, position data, which is transmitted via satellite by the Yellowbrick devices, is being delayed by six hours to prevent, to some degree, a racing boat’s ability to view what its competitors are doing at the moment. Prior to the implementation of tracking systems, the only information racers, friends and family received about other boats was at the daily morning check-in, a once-a-day snapshot of competitors’ positions. Trackers have proven to be a game-changer especially for the shore-based crowd who can now follow the race in detail throughout the day. As Blade Runner’s blog warned, “Try it, pretty addictive.”

The past 24 hours have produced numerous lead changes and some unintended drama. Steve Stroub’s Santa Cruz 37, Tiburon, reported losing its rudder yesterday afternoon. Cayenne, a Passport 40 and one of the communications boats, skippered by Michael Moradzadeh, suspended racing and provided extra water and their emergency rudder. Tiburon is in the process of finalizing their alternative method of steering. They anticipate continuing to sail under a double headsail rig with the their alternative steering system. Morale on-board is reported to be good, there are no injuries, and they have adequate food and water for their remaining passage. The Yellowbrick tracking data suggests that Tiburon can now hold a course in the direction of Hawaii.

Many of those who drove north of the rhumb line have now gybed over onto port and are close to their heading for the finish. The fleet is now spread out over 450nm from north to south and the leaderboard has once again seen some changes.

Snafu in the ‘Iwi Division appears to have a firm hold on the lead with only Blade Runner and Green Buffalo in striking distance. Wolfpack has a similar grip in the Kolea Division, again posting a remarkable 219nm day. Thirsty is the only other boat in this division with a shot.

California Girl has wrestled the lead away from sister-ship Azure by a slim margin – watch for these two to swap the lead all the way to the finish. Both of these boats trail Green Buffalo for the Cal 40 One-Design trophy, and collectively they are currently in 3rd, 4th, and 5th positions in the PHRF Rating Division.

Sweet Okole continues to lead the Weems & Plath Division, and Free Bowl of Soup will need magic to catch them. Time is running out for Encore to overtake Por Favor in the Matson Division and the rest of the group is not a threat.

Hamachi has solidified her lead in the competitive Sonnen BMW Division, moving into 4th in the ORR Rating Group and 7th overall. Swazik and Surprise are pressing hard but may not have enough time to reel Hamachi in before the finish.

In the Latitude 38 Division, Scarlett Runner has a bowsprit-length lead over Pyewacket, but this race is far from over – both are extremely well sailed boats, so watch for many lead changes here. Invisible Hand will likely be first to finish, overtaking Venture in the last 200nm.

Access to the tracker is provided on PacificCup.org.

Navionics SonarCharts, now via SonarPhone or GPX file, plus the Lowrance autopilot

Thu, 2014-07-17 17:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Jul 17, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Wow. Combining the Navionics Boating apps and the Vexilar SonarPhone WiFi fishfinder seems like an obvious development now, but there are so many marine electronics integration possibilities these days that even the ripe low-hanging fruit can be surprising. Announced yesterday at ICAST (PDF here) and available for iPhone/iPad in August (and Android later), the combined Navionics SonarPhone app means that a small boater can have a fairly sophisticated plotter/fishfinder for about $200, phone or tablet not included (and note the issue of screen visibility in an open boat). I was impressed with the SonarPhone bobber-style T-Pod in April and suspect that SP200 T-Box small boat model works even better. And there’s more: the users of this system can very easily contribute their sonar logs to Navionics’ SonarChart collection, which they can access (along with chart updates) with an additional $25 Navionics+ annual subscription.

I first mentioned nearly effortless Raymarine sonar log uploading when Navionics Boating 7.0 came out and then bragged about how neatly the data had come back to me as a SonarChart during a June shakedown cruise. The subject deserves more discussion. It helps, for instance, to see the before and after images that Navionics sent me after I uploaded a sonar log that included the Barred Island anchorage above. You can also see how the improved SonarChart next to the NOAA chart on the Raymarine gS12 here. I’m tickled that I was able to improve charting of that neat spot, but I must add that it seems like Navionics made a lot of soundings presumptions from just a track or two of my sonar. I also wonder where the heck all that other SonarChart detail comes from…

When SonarCharts first came out on Navionics+ cards last summer, I was somewhat disappointed because almost all the data seemed to be what Navionics used to call Fish’n’Chip, which I first saw in 2006, and not based on soundings recently collected by cruisers. I have no idea where the Fish’n’Chip data came from or how old it is — which is also the case with the “hi def” bathymetry offered by Garmin, Furuno, C-Map, etc. (I think). And when I looked at the SonarChart data for some difficult places I know firsthand, it didn’t look right. One spot I remember not liking is the Callabash River anchorage above, which is vaguely charted by NOAA and has confusing nav aids to boot. But I failed to take a screenshot last summer and when I just looked again, the SonarChart (above and live here) is looking like what I remember. In fact, it might have been updated with my data (you can see Gizmo’s 10/2012 track line on the inset NOAA chart).

At any rate, I recommend using SonarCharts carefully and wish they included some source/date info. It’s also telling that the chartplotters that can show SonarCharts do not overlay them with aids to navigation (as you can see on the Ray gS12 screen). I hope that will change but will certainly understand a prominent disclaimer about how the soundings are not official data.

Now let’s note that you don’t need the Navionics app and a tablet to upload sonar logs, and you don’t need a Raymarine MFD to create sonar logs either. On July 8th, Navionics announced that they are also accepting sonar logs in GPX and other formats used by Garmin, Simrad, Lowrance, and Humminbird. You upload them using a plain SD card (or Navionics card) and the Chart Installer software that will download under the Navionics website’s Downloads & Updates button. The screen shot above shows Chart Installer working with a Navionics+ card last summer when sonar logs were being beta tested (and were hard to set up). I’ve found Chart Installer to be a little flaky sometimes, but it is getting better and it’s generally pretty easy to upload sonar logs and/or update a card with an associated + subscription.

Using the Navionics Boating app with a Raymarine MFD is by far the easiest way to contribute sonar logs, but I’ve successfully tried the SD card method and also GPX files. One neat feature of the system is that once Navionics has checked out the file and added it to the SonarChart database, they sent a KMZ file of your track that opens Google Earth nicely. So the track above began after lunch on the day I’d already seen an improved SonarChart of Barred Island harbor, and this track’s data hopefully improved on what I’d already uploaded. I’m looking forward to collecting sonar logs and KMZ tracks as far as South Carolina this fall, and hoping that others will be doing the same before I get there.

Navionics is trail blazing crowd-sourced depth charting, but who will be surprised if other companies also make this possible? Actually Navico, who already offer the private Insight Genesis custom charting I tested a bit last summer, just announced a Social Map layer that sounds a lot like SonarCharts. It’s based on existing contour data with fresh user-collected soundings added by Insight users willing to share their data, and it can be viewed on Lowrance and Simrad MFDs. Judging from the NSS16 evo2 screen above, it also includes information on bottom composition. Meanwhile, Humminbird is out with its AutoChart system, which lets you make your own custom MFD charts at home, no subscription needed.

Mapmaking is particularly important to freshwater fishermen, and some of them want to keep the data to themselves, but maybe Humminbird will eventually allow the others to share with the world. And before I go, I’ve heard about a couple of other fishing-related electronics announcements at ICAST. Garmin announced a DownVü/SideVü thru-hull transducer to be shipped 3rd quarter, which can also be installed in a pair so most any big boat will be able to use the technology Bill Bishop told us about. And Lowrance announced an outboard autopilot that won’t be available until November but sounds intriguing. It can, for instance, switch from controlling an outboard to running a MotorGuide Xi5 Pinpoint electric-steer trolling motor, and as shown inset below it can do all sorts of automated maneuvers. Plus, it seems reasonable at $999 for the hydraulic model and $1,499 for cable steering, with Point 1 heading sensor included.

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

ABANDONING BE GOOD TOO: The Skipper Responds to the Builder’s Response

Thu, 2014-07-17 16:57

As many of you know, I served as crew on Be Good Too, the Alpha 42 catamaran that was abandoned approximately 300 miles east of Chesapeake Bay in January. I published an account of the episode here on WaveTrain (which was also syndicated on SAILfeed) and also wrote a feature story for SAIL Magazine. In May I also published, without comment, a response from Gregor Tarjan, president of Aeroyacht, builder of the Alpha catamaran. (Gregor’s statement was also published on SAILfeed.) Hank Schmitt (see photo up top), the paid skipper aboard Be Good Too, contacted me from Bermuda as soon as he read Gregor’s statement and asked if I would publish a response from him. Hank’s delivery schedule has now simmered down a bit and he found time this week to draft the following statement:

STATEMENT OF HANK SCHMITT, SKIPPER OF BE GOOD TOO

I have been very quiet over the last few months. Losing a new boat is never easy for anyone involved. Losing Hull # 1 of a promising new line of boats can be devastating to the owner of the boat, but even more so to the builder, whose reputation and livelihood could be at stake. However, the builder’s response on your blog, quoting me from an internal report to the insurance company, has eroded my well intentioned resolve to remain quiet, breaking the unspoken code of “Do no harm.”

If a delivery skipper ever has to leave a boat he can be thankful if the owner of the boat is aboard, and even more thankful if he has an experienced first mate, a skipper in his own right, who also happens to host a professional blog site. I was thus saved having to explain to the owner why we left his boat out at sea. I also did not have to repeat the story over and over to the many people who wanted to know what happened. The entire episode was chronicled on the Sailfeed.com blog detailing the cascading list of problems that resulted in the final decision to abandon the boat. For posterity there is a Coast Guard YouTube video that shows us being reeled us out of the ocean like dead fish. My post-abandonment week was simple. All I had to do was write up a report for the insurance company. As a final goodwill gesture I did meet with the builders at the factory. Charlie and I also wrote a “punch list” of concerns to address for future boats.

My two employers, the boat owner, and indirectly, the insurance company, were both satisfied and moved on. The owner bought a used catamaran in the Med and has plans to sail her to the Caribbean. I was content to ignore the “armchair sailors” and let them rant if it makes them feel like better sailors. However, when the owner of Aeroyacht decided he needed a scapegoat, he made a foolish move in writing without consulting the person who best knew what went wrong. He either forgets, or does not care to remember, that we had the services of a weather router that gave us the OK to depart. We had a Spot tracker recording our route. The insurance company paid off because of the rogue wave that bent the rudders. The USGC found no fault with the crew’s decisions. That should have been enough said, but since the builder felt his entire future hinged on the loss of hull # 1, he had to find someone to blame.

This was not my first delivery south. In fact it was my third trip of this past 2013/2014 season. In November I made my 14th annual passage south in the NARC Rally (North American Rally to the Caribbean), skippering a Swan 46. In December I replaced a skipper with a sick pet who declined to deliver an Outbound 52 to St. Thomas.

This was also not my first delivery south in the winter. Three of the past four years I have departed with a boat after Christmas. It is called making a living. Delivery skippers are hired to move a boat when the owner does not want to. Two years ago I departed December 27th on a Jeanneau 40 from Oyster Bay NY to the Panama Canal. That year we did sail offshore to Norfolk, inside the ICW for three days, then offshore to Miami, and then next stop Panama. The year before, it was another Swan 46 out of the Chesapeake. We had to clear the snow and the ice off the deck to get down the Chesapeake, but after that it was an easy passage. So two of these trips were offshore passages, and one was inside Cape Hatteras, since we were not going to the Leeward Islands, but rather to Panama in the Western Caribbean. It is a fact that many delivery crews find better weather in December and January than in November since things by then have settled down some.

I have over 200,000 miles at sea. I have sailed a 39-foot catamaran from South Africa to Grenada and did a solo-Transat to Europe in 1992. I have also spent many months working offshore in the North Atlantic. I saw my first 50-foot winter wave in 1979 when I was working aboard one of five oil rigs drilling south of Long Island, NY. I also commercial fished out of Montauk, NY between October and April each winter for three years from 1990 to 1994. We would go out three-handed on an 81-foot longliner for 10 days. In November and early December we would wait for a winter gale to go by, steam out to the sea-mounts South or East of Montauk, and fish for three days before the next gale. When winds got over 30 knots with 12- to 15-foot seas, we would lay ahull and catch up on sleep and watch videos or read until it calmed down enough to fish for three more days. Then we would try and get into port before the next gale and last call at the Liar’s Saloon. So when the builder and armchair sailors say we did not know what we were doing at this time of year, I can only reply that I have spent many more months at sea in the North Atlantic than most sailors.

Track of Be Good Too

When one departs from Chesapeake Bay in winter heading to the Caribbean, there is a well-known phrase that says “go East until the butter melts and then head South.” With my previous delivery in December and with the Swan 46 fours years ago out of the Chesapeake, I did just that and sailed East for three or four days to a waypoint just Southwest of Bermuda. Then one heads south to look for the Easterly tradewinds that take you to the Caribbean on a beam reach. I take the time to explain this, because it was suggested that we should not have turned East once we were abeam of Chesapeake Bay. We had made decent progress down the Jersey Coast and were pretty far offshore, with a Southerly breeze forecast to hold. It was a good time to scoot across the Gulf Steam quickly on a reach. We would continue East for two or three days until the butter at least thawed. Anyone suggesting a course down the coast in winter and then trying to get to the Caribbean from points south of Cape Hatteras has never made the trip at this time of year.

Now is also a good time to explain a little about the boat delivery business. In this business it is normal to step aboard a new boat to deliver her as the builder is stepping off. Twice I have moved aboard a boat the same day the factory crew moved off.

Many people get a captain’s license, which is easy to do in the United States, and make some extra money doing deliveries. Anyone can deliver a boat when the weather is right and the boat is in good working order. Where we earn our money is by moving boats at the wrong time of year and when the boat has issues. There is a short migration window when boats get moved, followed by long periods when it is either hurricane season or when no one wants the boat moved because it is the middle of the winter or the middle of the summer when boats stay put.

In our case, the builder in his statement kept mentioning that the crew was on a tight schedule. The only deadline I had to cope with was a self-imposed deadline to meet a flight I booked for 12 days after we departed. I often buy my return plane ticket before I depart because I have found that you can save the owner some money by buying a ticket in advance rather than buying a ticket a day or two before your flight and that owners appreciate when you treat their money like your own. Neither Charlie nor the owner had a deadline. Losing a $250 plane ticket does not dictate a tight schedule.

1) TESTING

The boat was months past its original delivery date. The owner had flown out twice to take possession of the boat and had to stay in a hotel and then fly back home to reschedule again. The builder may like to remember that he took the boat out on many sea trials, but every time I saw the boat in December she was covered in snow and was still being built. This is normal with new boats and especially new designs. The three times I have flown to Europe or South Africa to pick up new boats they were always at least a week late. There is not much one can do.

While it is easier to stay “casual” while still at home (which was the case for me here, since I live in Long Island), the owner was not near his home. I have found even when you are in another country and the boat is not ready, it is best to stay “casual,” not get upset, and stay out of the way so the builder can complete the boat. Jumping up and down and getting “non-casual” does not work and only delays the workers since they want to show you who is boss.

The builder’s description of his big sea trial makes it sound like they went all the way around Long Island, but they in fact went around less than half the island, from Moriches Inlet to Port Jefferson around Montauk. A three-day sea trial. Here is what Gregor said about the test sail:

“Alpha Yachts tested the boat for weeks before handover. On the final test I, personally, sailed the boat under very harsh conditions by sailing it shorthanded, counterclockwise around Long Island in blizzard conditions. Outside temp’s averaged -20 Fahrenheit (-28 Celsius) winds were up to 40 knots and (short) seas about 10′ high. My plan was to test to the breaking point. A constant sheet of inch-thick ice covered the deck and at one point the boat was buried under 30″ of snow. The generator, engines and all the systems ran, non-stop, for 14 days to avoid freezing and becoming inoperable. Every system worked flawlessly.”

From this paragraph one would believe that the builder sailed the boat for a couple of weeks rather than two or three days on this first passage for the boat outside of Great South Bay. I have no doubt it felt like 20 degrees below zero as they sailed around Montauk between Christmas and New Year. But to then add the boat performed flawlessly, coupled with this description of the temperatures and the seas, is, to put it mildly, incredulous. No hull number one, five to nine months behind on delivery, on her first winter passage, performs flawlessly. In fact, he then states:

“There were issues: minor leaks (not dribbles) appeared through the seals of the saloon windows, emergency hatch seals, forward deck hatch seals and forward starboard to crossbeam attachment.”

Flawless, to him, does not mean she was not leaking in a number of places, by his own admission. How he thinks these leaks were dealt with in Port Jefferson in freezing conditions with a few tubes of caulk is questionable.

And if the boat was flawless why would he add:

“Subsequently boats to be delivered this year by the builder have been altered to eliminate these shortcomings. When I short-stopped in Port Jefferson, NY, all these issues were attended to so that I felt secure to continue the test and hand over the boat to the new owners in New Jersey”.

Since we know that caulk does not set in freezing temperatures, we must conclude that the boat still had leaks from all the above mentioned by the builder. The last thing that was installed by the builder was a manual bilge pump in the center of the boat with a 30-foot hose to reach any compartment in the boat. This pump got a lot of use on our trip south after the bilge pumps did not work correctly and would not shut off. Instead we had to use the manual pump for all four holds, the two engine compartments and the two main hulls.

The builder ends his post by stating that he thinks the boat will become a home to a Portuguese fisherman on the other side of the Atlantic. Charlie and I were sure that there was no need to scuttle the boat as a hazard to navigation since she would sink on her own if we were not there to bail. I am sure she would be home for fish well before she would have a chance of making it across the Atlantic to be a home for a fisherman. The insurance company did fly a plane out to look for the boat shortly after we left it. Even though they had our Spot tracking positions, which were less than 24 hours old, they were not able to find the boat. In addition to the leaks, there was ingress from bilge-pump outlets that had no vented loop or rise in the hose to stop water from coming in. Many multihulls drain water above the waterline without a shut-off valve. Water splashes in and once the hull sits down even a few inches the water comes in faster with each wave. Sink a little lower and water will flood right in.

While on the subject of EPIRBs and Spot trackers, the builder looks to some sort of conspiracy as to why we did not leave the EBIRB or Spot tracker onboard. Before we left the boat we asked the Coast Guard about leaving the EPIRB in the on position, but they told us to take it with us. When you have a captain’s license and the Coast Guard tells you to not leave the EBIRB on the boat, that is an order and you do as you are told. As for the Spot tracker, Gregor is not familiar with how they work. If you are not there to punch a button once every 24 hours they stop working, so leaving the Spot on board would not have done any good. If Gregor had simply asked us about the EBIRB and Spot tracker, we could have told him why they were not left aboard instead of him thinking there was some sinister plot to sink his boat. Also, we were not sure what the insurance company would have to say if we had scuttled the boat and they wanted to try and retrieve it. As it turned out, they did try.

2) SCHEDULE

I have already talked about Scheduling. We had a weather window from a well-known weather router. No one was disputing this as we left the builder and team at the dock in New Jersey. Too often people wait for the perfect weather window, which means that you are motoring for the first two or three days and then are low on fuel.

Catamarans do not have two things: gimbaled stoves and big fuel tanks. Although we did carry 4 extra fuel jugs, we did not have enough fuel to run both engines for more than two days at full throttle. Since the boat only had 30 HP engines, we had to run the engines at a full 3000 rpms to get us near cruising speed. Of course, when making long ocean passages on a cat it is customary to run one engine at slower rpms to try and extend your range and to have charging capability for your batteries for the entire passage. This was the main reason we were a little behind the weather router’s projected plot, since we were doing closer to 5 knots under power than the assumed 7 knots.

3) PREPARATION

Gregor states that he knew the inventory of the boat, and this was true. The owner had been to the boat more than once to take possession of it. Since she was so far behind schedule they could not load the boat, since it was still being built and the owner’s gear would be in the way. So when they were finally getting near delivery, Gregor decided to make the test run on the trip to deliver the boat to the owner outside of NY waters. This meant that Gregor had no choice but to load the owner’s gear from his sheds and office onto the boat.

Many new boats are delivered from factories to charter companies and new owners many miles from where they are built. Often the delivery skipper will only have the tools that he brings and little else, as the boat manufacturer does not sell boats with spares and tools. If the skipper is flying to the boat, he will have even fewer tools, unless the owner has authorized him to buy tools, which in many cases is not practical or affordable. Unless you are going to be doing major engine repair, there are not a lot of tools you need.

In this case, if I had foresight, I would have thanked Gregor for recommending that we take a battery-operated saws-all with spare batteries and a 12-pound sledge hammer. That is what we needed to cut away and jettison the bent and useless rudders so we might be able to get some control over the boat. Criticizing the crew for not have enough tools on a new boat is like blaming smokejumpers for arriving on scene with just a shovel and an axe. I did buy a bosun’s chair and a few other items for the owner before we left, unknown to Gregor, but then again he did not ask before writing his rebuttal.

3) JIB LEAD

Two things should look very funny here. The builder admits the boat was already five months late. On his test sail, two days before delivery, he discovered that the single Jib Sheet Block had a bad lead and would not last in a blow. So picture this: we are at Liberty Landing Marina in January and the owner has flown in for a third time. Gregor now says we should wait another week for a single Jib Sheet Lead from Selden. The owner can A) Fly back home for a week or more and wait for the block while paying transient dock fees. Or B) Stay in a hotel while they finish the boat and pay transient dock fees.

I am a rigger by trade and any sailor with any idea of Jib sheets and leads and how they control a boat can rig a new set when a single block fails. As seen in the picture on the Sailfeed Blog, we rigged a system superior to what was provided. What we needed was a set of barber haulers to have full control of the jib clew position to help us steer the boat. We needed to be able to backwind the jib well beyond the allowance of the short self-tacking track. So not only was this block not needed, but we had a better jury rig to try and get steerage.

The jury-rigged jib-sheet system with barber-haulers

The second thing that should jump out at you is that the builder contends that we were sailing too slow and should have been sailing faster, as he writes:

“Theoretically, because of the jury rig of the jib, the boat could not sail efficiently under the main alone. Had the boat been sailed with a proper jib lead and double reefed main, she could have been sailed with more speed up the wave face. Since she was slow (the skipper estimates 4-6 KNOTS) although I guess much slower, the boat was easily shoved backwards by the large rogue wave that hit them squarely. The disastrous effect was purely a matter of seamanship”

Here Gregor is making the mistake of believing his own marketing ideas. He suggests that if we were sailing faster into the waves then his “wave piercing” bows would have pushed us through the wave and we would not have been pushed backwards. If you ask me, a boxer stepping into a left hook is much worse off than one stepping away from that same left hook. Why he disparages the seamanship of the crew and suggests we should have had more sail up and been going faster is something I do not understand. Most experienced sailors would want to slow the boat down in bad weather, not sail faster upwind into the waves. It is his belief we should have been going faster so we would have walked into that left hook of a rogue wave.

We have all experienced rogue waves. You might have been sailing along on a near beam reach and suddenly get slapped square by a wave two feet higher than the rest. The wave slaps the hull at a different angle, and a small deluge of water wets the crew sitting in the cockpit. Everyone looks at each other and says: “Where did that come from?” Well imagine a wave also bigger than the rest and just out of sync enough in direction to lift up the bows of this 42-foot cat, exposing the bottom square-footage to the wave as the bow climbs and the wave washes over the boat and punches her backwards. A hit big enough to blow out a thick teak seat at deck level having climbed up the steps of the transom. This was not a teak step down at the bottom of the steps, but a strong thick teak seat at deck level.

Missing teak seat/step after the wave hit

In Charlie’s article in SAIL magazine Charlie says:

“There was a horrendous explosion and water fired-hosed into the cabin all around the edges of the window frames. A large piece of trim was blown right off a central vertical frame, but the windows, thankfully, held up. The enormous impact stopped the boat, which had been moving forward at 4 or 5 knots, dead in its tracks and even seemed to back us up a bit. A counter-wave surged up our stern and (as we later noticed) blew a large teak step right off its mounting posts.”

Why Gregor wanted us to have more jib up and to be moving faster into this wave is something I cannot answer. Past experience would dictate to most sailors to slow down. Some armchair sailors suggested deploying a drogue or sea anchor to help slow us down or stop the boat. Proper seamanship would be to slow down in bigger seas and not go faster as Gregor admonished us to do. (The use of drogues and sea anchors are a whole other chapter into themselves. Most new boats do not carry them and most delivery skippers never deploy them as they want to be more proactive and do not want to stop.)

4) RUDDER CONSTRUCTION

The builder spends a lot of time on the rudders. After all, they are the reason that we could only sail (or motor) in circles. The loss of the rudders was the problem. Everything else we could deal with. We spent two days after “the wave” making progress when the conditions were optimum to move. We could make progress when the wind was blowing over 25 knots sailing on a close reach only. At any other time we could not make progress. Since we could not steer an accurate course towards Bermuda, a very small target in the Atlantic with no ocean-towing services, we ruled that out. The next option was to recross the Gulf Steam, heading north to Long Island at 280 miles away, or heading West 300 miles to Cape Hatteras. Since we could only sail at less than two knots on a close reach, we would not have been able to make enough speed to get across the Gulf Steam. We also knew we could not count on the perfect wind direction for any length of time to get us across the Stream and to land. With no steerage and a southerly breeze blowing us north, we only had another day before we would be blown back into the Gulf Stream, which would then take us on a quick ride towards Europe.

Gregor writes in his statement:

“Edson suggested two types: one with two locking bolts which affixed the rudder stock to the tiller arm, the other with a single smaller bolt and a key as is traditionally seen. The builder opted for the twin bolt set-up.”

and

“The rudder post is locked to the tiller arm by the use of two 3/8″ threaded bolts (not set screws, as they were identified in the article) with a 3/4″ bury that act as a lock, but also serve as a safety mechanism in case the boat is pushed backwards, so they could theoretically shear and leave the rudder undamaged.”

I got pretty intimate with the separated tiller arm and rudder post spending several hours in the steering flat wrestling with an allen wrench, rubber mallet and spinning rudderpost articulating to scissor off fingers or worse. Be Good Too did have one 3/8″ bolt on the back of the tiller arm to tighten and compress the tiller arm to the rudder post, but this does not go through the rudder post. The ¾” bury that he is talking about was a small set screw sunk two threads into a hole drilled into the rudder stock. It was neither a ¾ set screw, nor buried ¾ of an inch. There are two pictures on Charlie’s blog that show the starboard rudderpost connection that has the one 3/8″ bolt on the back of the tiller arm. The repaired allen wrench photo shows that we had a good fixed solid ferrous piece through the hole connecting the tiller arm to the rudder post, but not before.

Damaged port-side rudderstock/tiller-arm connection before repairs

And after repairs

When we finally got the tiller arm and rudder post to line up, we thought we were good to go. After one last circle under sail, we realized that the rudder must be permanently bent and we were out of options. The missing picture that Charlie chose not to print shows the small set screw broken off at two threads that was all that was holding the tiller arm to the post other than the 3/8 bolt on the back of the arm, which pinches the metal around the rudder stock, but does not go through the rudder stock. A picture is worth a thousand words, so if Charlie wishes to print the picture he has showing me holding the broken set screw, we can say case closed on this issue. If Charlie wished to save builder further embarrassment by not printing the picture I can also understand that.

5) SAIL TRIM AND STEERING A BOAT

Almost anyone who sailed as a child spent time steering a boat without a rudder. In 1977 in the SORC when the boat I was on broke its steering cables rounding the mark north of Bimini in the dark and was drifting towards the reefs, I advised against taking the sails down. As the rest of the crew worked to get the emergency steering arm in place with the binnacle in the way, I was able to turn the boat back on course using the sails until we got sorted out. In 28 years of delivering boats I have had steering failures 7 times and on one delivery spent 5 days under emergency steering. Another time it was 8 days on emergency steering, on a center cockpit boat no less. Boat owners much prefer if you can get the boat home rather than leave her in a foreign port to get expensive repairs while paying dockage fees. It also saves the owner paying travel time for another crew.

I have also been dismasted twice (never on a client’s boat, both times on my own) more than 400 miles from land. In all cases, with seven steering problems and two dismastings, I got the boat to shore without assistance. I have been delivering boats long before there was GPS, long before autopilots were ubiquitous, long before charterplotters, long before SeaTow. There is not a lot you can tell me about getting a boat to its destination on her own that I don’t know. However, having severely bent rudders that will not let a boat steer under power or sail, when cutting the rudders away is the only option, is another story. To deliver a boat you need to keep the water out, keep the sails up and working, and have steerage. You do not need a motor, you only need enough water and food to survive, but if you cannot stay afloat, move or steer, the jig is up.

In the SAIL magazine article Charlie states: “I had sailed with Hank many times, but this was the first time I’d ever seen him rattled.” And yes, I was rattled, because I was the one at the wheel of the boat as we tried to regain control after the wave hit. After the first crash jibe I had her hard over to port, yet we turned around once more to starboard. Remember, this is a catamaran with two hulls. Common sense would dictate if you put full throttle on the starboard engine and turn to port then you will turn to port. I was rattled because we had lost control of the boat even with the starboard engine fully engaged and the wheel turned to help stay on course. When logic defies reason, you think voodoo, mysticism, and are rattled as in: “This does not compute.” I thus ran forward to get the main down before another crash jibe. We were to spend the next two days trying to find a solution to our steering issues

Also, this was a delivery in January. Not the perfect time of year, but it’s done a lot more than people realize. Do you think boats come off the assembly lines in South Africa or France or South Carolina and sit and wait for seasons to change before moving to the charter fleets? No, boats get finished every month of the year. Like new boats, trade-ins or recently sold boats have very little gear aboard, the old owner having taken it for their next boat or because they simply don’t want to give everything away. The new owner wants to work on the boat and outfit it in his own harbor and have his own team of workers. Often delivery skippers move newly purchased boats with little gear and used boats with long work lists that will be completed after the delivery to the new owner.

There are many reasons why a delivery skipper gets paid to move a boat, and most of the sailing public would not understand that we do not work in a perfect world and don’t have the luxury of charging an owner hundreds of dollars a day while waiting for a missing part and then waiting a week for another weather window. Armchair sailors are allowed their opinions and do their forensic work after the fact. Remarks should be tempered until facts are in from all sources, not just from a builder who is trying to protect his reputation. Also when something you read does not make sense, think about it and apply your own sailing knowledge and experience to a situation and follow your gut to not believe what does not seem right.

After we made landfall, courtesy of the USCG Helicopter ride, they asked permission to do a taped interview. We all agreed but were so boring that none of it even made the US Coast Guards video of the incident. In fact I was very surprised that the USCG sent a helicopter to get us. We had been told and were expecting a ship to be diverted to pick us up. Charlie and the owner were amused when I asked the Coast Guard for a ship heading West to the United States rather than take a long ride to Europe, and the Coast Guard was accommodating. However, at some point during the night they decided they wanted to send a helicopter and rescue swimmer to get us. Some people questioned why taxpayers should spend money to get sailors who went to sea in January. My response is that we were ready and willing to get off on a ship and not cost the US taxpayer anything.

Hank after getting pulled up into the helicopter

However, the Coast Guard likes to practice in real situations and the crew of the helicopter and the rescue swimmer were game on and very happy to be doing something. The PR guy at the base in North Carolina stated that their commander is very PR savvy and that is why they had footage of the rescue that many saw online. Like all Government agencies, the more they do the more funding they get the next year. So we can only surmise that they came by helicopter for the practice and for the PR. They did a great job and I respect the high skill level of everyone involved. One fact also missing in any media is that the owner and his wife had a party back in Germany after their rescue and they and their friends raised $10.000 and donated it to the Coast Guard Fund in NC. How often have you heard of that?

In closing, I wish Gregor and his company well. I live on Long Island and was proud to hear that we had boat building back on Long Island. I got involved because a surveyor friend was hired to oversee the building of the boat. I made several trips to see the boat and meet Gunther and tried to work with Gregor to do our usual professional job for his customer. Part of that is being there to answer questions and to help, but also to stay out of the way when you see they are still struggling to get the boat ready. The Alpha catamaran is a very strongly built boat. We were never in any danger at any time before or after the steering failure. I feel confident that Gregor will take the pages of recommendations that we gave him to heart. In my visit and debrief afterwards you could tell that Gregor was anxious to make the necessary changes to make sure their next boat and all boats afterwards are good boats. I wish them well.

If anyone wants to speak with me they are welcome to contact me. My number is 631-423-4988 and my e-mail address is offshorepassage@sprintmail.com.

Editor’s Note: As Hank notes, at the time of the incident I was sure Be Good Too would sink after we left her. Subsequently, I reviewed the boat’s construction specs and on seeing how much foam core is in the hull I thought she might well stay swamped on the surface. If so, I expected there was a good chance we’d hear of a sighting once yachts started moving from the Caribbean to Europe, but so far there have been no such reports.

ABANDONING BE GOOD TOO: The Skipper Responds to the Builder’s Response

Thu, 2014-07-17 16:57

As many of you know, I served as crew on Be Good Too, the Alpha 42 catamaran that was abandoned approximately 300 miles east of Chesapeake Bay in January. I published an account of the episode here on WaveTrain (which was also syndicated on SAILfeed) and also wrote a feature story for SAIL Magazine. In May I also published, without comment, a response from Gregor Tarjan, president of Aeroyacht, builder of the Alpha catamaran. (Gregor’s statement was also published on SAILfeed.) Hank Schmitt (see photo up top), the paid skipper aboard Be Good Too, contacted me from Bermuda as soon as he read Gregor’s statement and asked if I would publish a response from him. Hank’s delivery schedule has now simmered down a bit and he found time this week to draft the following statement:

STATEMENT OF HANK SCHMITT, SKIPPER OF BE GOOD TOO

I have been very quiet over the last few months. Losing a new boat is never easy for anyone involved. Losing Hull # 1 of a promising new line of boats can be devastating to the owner of the boat, but even more so to the builder, whose reputation and livelihood could be at stake. However, the builder’s response on your blog, quoting me from an internal report to the insurance company, has eroded my well intentioned resolve to remain quiet, breaking the unspoken code of “Do no harm.”

If a delivery skipper ever has to leave a boat he can be thankful if the owner of the boat is aboard, and even more thankful if he has an experienced first mate, a skipper in his own right, who also happens to host a professional blog site. I was thus saved having to explain to the owner why we left his boat out at sea. I also did not have to repeat the story over and over to the many people who wanted to know what happened. The entire episode was chronicled on the Sailfeed.com blog detailing the cascading list of problems that resulted in the final decision to abandon the boat. For posterity there is a Coast Guard YouTube video that shows us being reeled us out of the ocean like dead fish. My post-abandonment week was simple. All I had to do was write up a report for the insurance company. As a final goodwill gesture I did meet with the builders at the factory. Charlie and I also wrote a “punch list” of concerns to address for future boats.

My two employers, the boat owner, and indirectly, the insurance company, were both satisfied and moved on. The owner bought a used catamaran in the Med and has plans to sail her to the Caribbean. I was content to ignore the “armchair sailors” and let them rant if it makes them feel like better sailors. However, when the owner of Aeroyacht decided he needed a scapegoat, he made a foolish move in writing without consulting the person who best knew what went wrong. He either forgets, or does not care to remember, that we had the services of a weather router that gave us the OK to depart. We had a Spot tracker recording our route. The insurance company paid off because of the rogue wave that bent the rudders. The USGC found no fault with the crew’s decisions. That should have been enough said, but since the builder felt his entire future hinged on the loss of hull # 1, he had to find someone to blame.

This was not my first delivery south. In fact it was my third trip of this past 2013/2014 season. In November I made my 14th annual passage south in the NARC Rally (North American Rally to the Caribbean), skippering a Swan 46. In December I replaced a skipper with a sick pet who declined to deliver an Outbound 52 to St. Thomas.

This was also not my first delivery south in the winter. Three of the past four years I have departed with a boat after Christmas. It is called making a living. Delivery skippers are hired to move a boat when the owner does not want to. Two years ago I departed December 27th on a Jeanneau 40 from Oyster Bay NY to the Panama Canal. That year we did sail offshore to Norfolk, inside the ICW for three days, then offshore to Miami, and then next stop Panama. The year before, it was another Swan 46 out of the Chesapeake. We had to clear the snow and the ice off the deck to get down the Chesapeake, but after that it was an easy passage. So two of these trips were offshore passages, and one was inside Cape Hatteras, since we were not going to the Leeward Islands, but rather to Panama in the Western Caribbean. It is a fact that many delivery crews find better weather in December and January than in November since things by then have settled down some.

I have over 200,000 miles at sea. I have sailed a 39-foot catamaran from South Africa to Grenada and did a solo-Transat to Europe in 1992. I have also spent many months working offshore in the North Atlantic. I saw my first 50-foot winter wave in 1979 when I was working aboard one of five oil rigs drilling south of Long Island, NY. I also commercial fished out of Montauk, NY between October and April each winter for three years from 1990 to 1994. We would go out three-handed on an 81-foot longliner for 10 days. In November and early December we would wait for a winter gale to go by, steam out to the sea-mounts South or East of Montauk, and fish for three days before the next gale. When winds got over 30 knots with 12- to 15-foot seas, we would lay ahull and catch up on sleep and watch videos or read until it calmed down enough to fish for three more days. Then we would try and get into port before the next gale and last call at the Liar’s Saloon. So when the builder and armchair sailors say we did not know what we were doing at this time of year, I can only reply that I have spent many more months at sea in the North Atlantic than most sailors.

Track of Be Good Too

When one departs from Chesapeake Bay in winter heading to the Caribbean, there is a well-known phrase that says “go East until the butter melts and then head South.” With my previous delivery in December and with the Swan 46 fours years ago out of the Chesapeake, I did just that and sailed East for three or four days to a waypoint just Southwest of Bermuda. Then one heads south to look for the Easterly tradewinds that take you to the Caribbean on a beam reach. I take the time to explain this, because it was suggested that we should not have turned East once we were abeam of Chesapeake Bay. We had made decent progress down the Jersey Coast and were pretty far offshore, with a Southerly breeze forecast to hold. It was a good time to scoot across the Gulf Steam quickly on a reach. We would continue East for two or three days until the butter at least thawed. Anyone suggesting a course down the coast in winter and then trying to get to the Caribbean from points south of Cape Hatteras has never made the trip at this time of year.

Now is also a good time to explain a little about the boat delivery business. In this business it is normal to step aboard a new boat to deliver her as the builder is stepping off. Twice I have moved aboard a boat the same day the factory crew moved off.

Many people get a captain’s license, which is easy to do in the United States, and make some extra money doing deliveries. Anyone can deliver a boat when the weather is right and the boat is in good working order. Where we earn our money is by moving boats at the wrong time of year and when the boat has issues. There is a short migration window when boats get moved, followed by long periods when it is either hurricane season or when no one wants the boat moved because it is the middle of the winter or the middle of the summer when boats stay put.

In our case, the builder in his statement kept mentioning that the crew was on a tight schedule. The only deadline I had to cope with was a self-imposed deadline to meet a flight I booked for 12 days after we departed. I often buy my return plane ticket before I depart because I have found that you can save the owner some money by buying a ticket in advance rather than buying a ticket a day or two before your flight and that owners appreciate when you treat their money like your own. Neither Charlie nor the owner had a deadline. Losing a $250 plane ticket does not dictate a tight schedule.

1) TESTING

The boat was months past its original delivery date. The owner had flown out twice to take possession of the boat and had to stay in a hotel and then fly back home to reschedule again. The builder may like to remember that he took the boat out on many sea trials, but every time I saw the boat in December she was covered in snow and was still being built. This is normal with new boats and especially new designs. The three times I have flown to Europe or South Africa to pick up new boats they were always at least a week late. There is not much one can do.

While it is easier to stay “casual” while still at home (which was the case for me here, since I live in Long Island), the owner was not near his home. I have found even when you are in another country and the boat is not ready, it is best to stay “casual,” not get upset, and stay out of the way so the builder can complete the boat. Jumping up and down and getting “non-casual” does not work and only delays the workers since they want to show you who is boss.

The builder’s description of his big sea trial makes it sound like they went all the way around Long Island, but they in fact went around less than half the island, from Moriches Inlet to Port Jefferson around Montauk. A three-day sea trial. Here is what Gregor said about the test sail:

“Alpha Yachts tested the boat for weeks before handover. On the final test I, personally, sailed the boat under very harsh conditions by sailing it shorthanded, counterclockwise around Long Island in blizzard conditions. Outside temp’s averaged -20 Fahrenheit (-28 Celsius) winds were up to 40 knots and (short) seas about 10′ high. My plan was to test to the breaking point. A constant sheet of inch-thick ice covered the deck and at one point the boat was buried under 30″ of snow. The generator, engines and all the systems ran, non-stop, for 14 days to avoid freezing and becoming inoperable. Every system worked flawlessly.”

From this paragraph one would believe that the builder sailed the boat for a couple of weeks rather than two or three days on this first passage for the boat outside of Great South Bay. I have no doubt it felt like 20 degrees below zero as they sailed around Montauk between Christmas and New Year. But to then add the boat performed flawlessly, coupled with this description of the temperatures and the seas, is, to put it mildly, incredulous. No hull number one, five to nine months behind on delivery, on her first winter passage, performs flawlessly. In fact, he then states:

“There were issues: minor leaks (not dribbles) appeared through the seals of the saloon windows, emergency hatch seals, forward deck hatch seals and forward starboard to crossbeam attachment.”

Flawless, to him, does not mean she was not leaking in a number of places, by his own admission. How he thinks these leaks were dealt with in Port Jefferson in freezing conditions with a few tubes of caulk is questionable.

And if the boat was flawless why would he add:

“Subsequently boats to be delivered this year by the builder have been altered to eliminate these shortcomings. When I short-stopped in Port Jefferson, NY, all these issues were attended to so that I felt secure to continue the test and hand over the boat to the new owners in New Jersey”.

Since we know that caulk does not set in freezing temperatures, we must conclude that the boat still had leaks from all the above mentioned by the builder. The last thing that was installed by the builder was a manual bilge pump in the center of the boat with a 30-foot hose to reach any compartment in the boat. This pump got a lot of use on our trip south after the bilge pumps did not work correctly and would not shut off. Instead we had to use the manual pump for all four holds, the two engine compartments and the two main hulls.

The builder ends his post by stating that he thinks the boat will become a home to a Portuguese fisherman on the other side of the Atlantic. Charlie and I were sure that there was no need to scuttle the boat as a hazard to navigation since she would sink on her own if we were not there to bail. I am sure she would be home for fish well before she would have a chance of making it across the Atlantic to be a home for a fisherman. The insurance company did fly a plane out to look for the boat shortly after we left it. Even though they had our Spot tracking positions, which were less than 24 hours old, they were not able to find the boat. In addition to the leaks, there was ingress from bilge-pump outlets that had no vented loop or rise in the hose to stop water from coming in. Many multihulls drain water above the waterline without a shut-off valve. Water splashes in and once the hull sits down even a few inches the water comes in faster with each wave. Sink a little lower and water will flood right in.

While on the subject of EPIRBs and Spot trackers, the builder looks to some sort of conspiracy as to why we did not leave the EBIRB or Spot tracker onboard. Before we left the boat we asked the Coast Guard about leaving the EPIRB in the on position, but they told us to take it with us. When you have a captain’s license and the Coast Guard tells you to not leave the EBIRB on the boat, that is an order and you do as you are told. As for the Spot tracker, Gregor is not familiar with how they work. If you are not there to punch a button once every 24 hours they stop working, so leaving the Spot on board would not have done any good. If Gregor had simply asked us about the EBIRB and Spot tracker, we could have told him why they were not left aboard instead of him thinking there was some sinister plot to sink his boat. Also, we were not sure what the insurance company would have to say if we had scuttled the boat and they wanted to try and retrieve it. As it turned out, they did try.

2) SCHEDULE

I have already talked about Scheduling. We had a weather window from a well-known weather router. No one was disputing this as we left the builder and team at the dock in New Jersey. Too often people wait for the perfect weather window, which means that you are motoring for the first two or three days and then are low on fuel.

Catamarans do not have two things: gimbaled stoves and big fuel tanks. Although we did carry 4 extra fuel jugs, we did not have enough fuel to run both engines for more than two days at full throttle. Since the boat only had 30 HP engines, we had to run the engines at a full 3000 rpms to get us near cruising speed. Of course, when making long ocean passages on a cat it is customary to run one engine at slower rpms to try and extend your range and to have charging capability for your batteries for the entire passage. This was the main reason we were a little behind the weather router’s projected plot, since we were doing closer to 5 knots under power than the assumed 7 knots.

3) PREPARATION

Gregor states that he knew the inventory of the boat, and this was true. The owner had been to the boat more than once to take possession of it. Since she was so far behind schedule they could not load the boat, since it was still being built and the owner’s gear would be in the way. So when they were finally getting near delivery, Gregor decided to make the test run on the trip to deliver the boat to the owner outside of NY waters. This meant that Gregor had no choice but to load the owner’s gear from his sheds and office onto the boat.

Many new boats are delivered from factories to charter companies and new owners many miles from where they are built. Often the delivery skipper will only have the tools that he brings and little else, as the boat manufacturer does not sell boats with spares and tools. If the skipper is flying to the boat, he will have even fewer tools, unless the owner has authorized him to buy tools, which in many cases is not practical or affordable. Unless you are going to be doing major engine repair, there are not a lot of tools you need.

In this case, if I had foresight, I would have thanked Gregor for recommending that we take a battery-operated saws-all with spare batteries and a 12-pound sledge hammer. That is what we needed to cut away and jettison the bent and useless rudders so we might be able to get some control over the boat. Criticizing the crew for not have enough tools on a new boat is like blaming smokejumpers for arriving on scene with just a shovel and an axe. I did buy a bosun’s chair and a few other items for the owner before we left, unknown to Gregor, but then again he did not ask before writing his rebuttal.

3) JIB LEAD

Two things should look very funny here. The builder admits the boat was already five months late. On his test sail, two days before delivery, he discovered that the single Jib Sheet Block had a bad lead and would not last in a blow. So picture this: we are at Liberty Landing Marina in January and the owner has flown in for a third time. Gregor now says we should wait another week for a single Jib Sheet Lead from Selden. The owner can A) Fly back home for a week or more and wait for the block while paying transient dock fees. Or B) Stay in a hotel while they finish the boat and pay transient dock fees.

I am a rigger by trade and any sailor with any idea of Jib sheets and leads and how they control a boat can rig a new set when a single block fails. As seen in the picture on the Sailfeed Blog, we rigged a system superior to what was provided. What we needed was a set of barber haulers to have full control of the jib clew position to help us steer the boat. We needed to be able to backwind the jib well beyond the allowance of the short self-tacking track. So not only was this block not needed, but we had a better jury rig to try and get steerage.

The jury-rigged jib-sheet system with barber-haulers

The second thing that should jump out at you is that the builder contends that we were sailing too slow and should have been sailing faster, as he writes:

“Theoretically, because of the jury rig of the jib, the boat could not sail efficiently under the main alone. Had the boat been sailed with a proper jib lead and double reefed main, she could have been sailed with more speed up the wave face. Since she was slow (the skipper estimates 4-6 KNOTS) although I guess much slower, the boat was easily shoved backwards by the large rogue wave that hit them squarely. The disastrous effect was purely a matter of seamanship”

Here Gregor is making the mistake of believing his own marketing ideas. He suggests that if we were sailing faster into the waves then his “wave piercing” bows would have pushed us through the wave and we would not have been pushed backwards. If you ask me, a boxer stepping into a left hook is much worse off than one stepping away from that same left hook. Why he disparages the seamanship of the crew and suggests we should have had more sail up and been going faster is something I do not understand. Most experienced sailors would want to slow the boat down in bad weather, not sail faster upwind into the waves. It is his belief we should have been going faster so we would have walked into that left hook of a rogue wave.

We have all experienced rogue waves. You might have been sailing along on a near beam reach and suddenly get slapped square by a wave two feet higher than the rest. The wave slaps the hull at a different angle, and a small deluge of water wets the crew sitting in the cockpit. Everyone looks at each other and says: “Where did that come from?” Well imagine a wave also bigger than the rest and just out of sync enough in direction to lift up the bows of this 42-foot cat, exposing the bottom square-footage to the wave as the bow climbs and the wave washes over the boat and punches her backwards. A hit big enough to blow out a thick teak seat at deck level having climbed up the steps of the transom. This was not a teak step down at the bottom of the steps, but a strong thick teak seat at deck level.

Missing teak seat/step after the wave hit

In Charlie’s article in SAIL magazine Charlie says:

“There was a horrendous explosion and water fired-hosed into the cabin all around the edges of the window frames. A large piece of trim was blown right off a central vertical frame, but the windows, thankfully, held up. The enormous impact stopped the boat, which had been moving forward at 4 or 5 knots, dead in its tracks and even seemed to back us up a bit. A counter-wave surged up our stern and (as we later noticed) blew a large teak step right off its mounting posts.”

Why Gregor wanted us to have more jib up and to be moving faster into this wave is something I cannot answer. Past experience would dictate to most sailors to slow down. Some armchair sailors suggested deploying a drogue or sea anchor to help slow us down or stop the boat. Proper seamanship would be to slow down in bigger seas and not go faster as Gregor admonished us to do. (The use of drogues and sea anchors are a whole other chapter into themselves. Most new boats do not carry them and most delivery skippers never deploy them as they want to be more proactive and do not want to stop.)

4) RUDDER CONSTRUCTION

The builder spends a lot of time on the rudders. After all, they are the reason that we could only sail (or motor) in circles. The loss of the rudders was the problem. Everything else we could deal with. We spent two days after “the wave” making progress when the conditions were optimum to move. We could make progress when the wind was blowing over 25 knots sailing on a close reach only. At any other time we could not make progress. Since we could not steer an accurate course towards Bermuda, a very small target in the Atlantic with no ocean-towing services, we ruled that out. The next option was to recross the Gulf Steam, heading north to Long Island at 280 miles away, or heading West 300 miles to Cape Hatteras. Since we could only sail at less than two knots on a close reach, we would not have been able to make enough speed to get across the Gulf Steam. We also knew we could not count on the perfect wind direction for any length of time to get us across the Stream and to land. With no steerage and a southerly breeze blowing us north, we only had another day before we would be blown back into the Gulf Stream, which would then take us on a quick ride towards Europe.

Gregor writes in his statement:

“Edson suggested two types: one with two locking bolts which affixed the rudder stock to the tiller arm, the other with a single smaller bolt and a key as is traditionally seen. The builder opted for the twin bolt set-up.”

and

“The rudder post is locked to the tiller arm by the use of two 3/8″ threaded bolts (not set screws, as they were identified in the article) with a 3/4″ bury that act as a lock, but also serve as a safety mechanism in case the boat is pushed backwards, so they could theoretically shear and leave the rudder undamaged.”

I got pretty intimate with the separated tiller arm and rudder post spending several hours in the steering flat wrestling with an allen wrench, rubber mallet and spinning rudderpost articulating to scissor off fingers or worse. Be Good Too did have one 3/8″ bolt on the back of the tiller arm to tighten and compress the tiller arm to the rudder post, but this does not go through the rudder post. The ¾” bury that he is talking about was a small set screw sunk two threads into a hole drilled into the rudder stock. It was neither a ¾ set screw, nor buried ¾ of an inch. There are two pictures on Charlie’s blog that show the starboard rudderpost connection that has the one 3/8″ bolt on the back of the tiller arm. The repaired allen wrench photo shows that we had a good fixed solid ferrous piece through the hole connecting the tiller arm to the rudder post, but not before.

Damaged port-side rudderstock/tiller-arm connection before repairs

And after repairs

When we finally got the tiller arm and rudder post to line up, we thought we were good to go. After one last circle under sail, we realized that the rudder must be permanently bent and we were out of options. The missing picture that Charlie chose not to print shows the small set screw broken off at two threads that was all that was holding the tiller arm to the post other than the 3/8 bolt on the back of the arm, which pinches the metal around the rudder stock, but does not go through the rudder stock. A picture is worth a thousand words, so if Charlie wishes to print the picture he has showing me holding the broken set screw, we can say case closed on this issue. If Charlie wished to save builder further embarrassment by not printing the picture I can also understand that.

5) SAIL TRIM AND STEERING A BOAT

Almost anyone who sailed as a child spent time steering a boat without a rudder. In 1977 in the SORC when the boat I was on broke its steering cables rounding the mark north of Bimini in the dark and was drifting towards the reefs, I advised against taking the sails down. As the rest of the crew worked to get the emergency steering arm in place with the binnacle in the way, I was able to turn the boat back on course using the sails until we got sorted out. In 28 years of delivering boats I have had steering failures 7 times and on one delivery spent 5 days under emergency steering. Another time it was 8 days on emergency steering, on a center cockpit boat no less. Boat owners much prefer if you can get the boat home rather than leave her in a foreign port to get expensive repairs while paying dockage fees. It also saves the owner paying travel time for another crew.

I have also been dismasted twice (never on a client’s boat, both times on my own) more than 400 miles from land. In all cases, with seven steering problems and two dismastings, I got the boat to shore without assistance. I have been delivering boats long before there was GPS, long before autopilots were ubiquitous, long before charterplotters, long before SeaTow. There is not a lot you can tell me about getting a boat to its destination on her own that I don’t know. However, having severely bent rudders that will not let a boat steer under power or sail, when cutting the rudders away is the only option, is another story. To deliver a boat you need to keep the water out, keep the sails up and working, and have steerage. You do not need a motor, you only need enough water and food to survive, but if you cannot stay afloat, move or steer, the jig is up.

In the SAIL magazine article Charlie states: “I had sailed with Hank many times, but this was the first time I’d ever seen him rattled.” And yes, I was rattled, because I was the one at the wheel of the boat as we tried to regain control after the wave hit. After the first crash jibe I had her hard over to port, yet we turned around once more to starboard. Remember, this is a catamaran with two hulls. Common sense would dictate if you put full throttle on the starboard engine and turn to port then you will turn to port. I was rattled because we had lost control of the boat even with the starboard engine fully engaged and the wheel turned to help stay on course. When logic defies reason, you think voodoo, mysticism, and are rattled as in: “This does not compute.” I thus ran forward to get the main down before another crash jibe. We were to spend the next two days trying to find a solution to our steering issues

Also, this was a delivery in January. Not the perfect time of year, but it’s done a lot more than people realize. Do you think boats come off the assembly lines in South Africa or France or South Carolina and sit and wait for seasons to change before moving to the charter fleets? No, boats get finished every month of the year. Like new boats, trade-ins or recently sold boats have very little gear aboard, the old owner having taken it for their next boat or because they simply don’t want to give everything away. The new owner wants to work on the boat and outfit it in his own harbor and have his own team of workers. Often delivery skippers move newly purchased boats with little gear and used boats with long work lists that will be completed after the delivery to the new owner.

There are many reasons why a delivery skipper gets paid to move a boat, and most of the sailing public would not understand that we do not work in a perfect world and don’t have the luxury of charging an owner hundreds of dollars a day while waiting for a missing part and then waiting a week for another weather window. Armchair sailors are allowed their opinions and do their forensic work after the fact. Remarks should be tempered until facts are in from all sources, not just from a builder who is trying to protect his reputation. Also when something you read does not make sense, think about it and apply your own sailing knowledge and experience to a situation and follow your gut to not believe what does not seem right.

After we made landfall, courtesy of the USCG Helicopter ride, they asked permission to do a taped interview. We all agreed but were so boring that none of it even made the US Coast Guards video of the incident. In fact I was very surprised that the USCG sent a helicopter to get us. We had been told and were expecting a ship to be diverted to pick us up. Charlie and the owner were amused when I asked the Coast Guard for a ship heading West to the United States rather than take a long ride to Europe, and the Coast Guard was accommodating. However, at some point during the night they decided they wanted to send a helicopter and rescue swimmer to get us. Some people questioned why taxpayers should spend money to get sailors who went to sea in January. My response is that we were ready and willing to get off on a ship and not cost the US taxpayer anything.

Hank after getting pulled up into the helicopter

However, the Coast Guard likes to practice in real situations and the crew of the helicopter and the rescue swimmer were game on and very happy to be doing something. The PR guy at the base in North Carolina stated that their commander is very PR savvy and that is why they had footage of the rescue that many saw online. Like all Government agencies, the more they do the more funding they get the next year. So we can only surmise that they came by helicopter for the practice and for the PR. They did a great job and I respect the high skill level of everyone involved. One fact also missing in any media is that the owner and his wife had a party back in Germany after their rescue and they and their friends raised $10.000 and donated it to the Coast Guard Fund in NC. How often have you heard of that?

In closing, I wish Gregor and his company well. I live on Long Island and was proud to hear that we had boat building back on Long Island. I got involved because a surveyor friend was hired to oversee the building of the boat. I made several trips to see the boat and meet Gunther and tried to work with Gregor to do our usual professional job for his customer. Part of that is being there to answer questions and to help, but also to stay out of the way when you see they are still struggling to get the boat ready. The Alpha catamaran is a very strongly built boat. We were never in any danger at any time before or after the steering failure. I feel confident that Gregor will take the pages of recommendations that we gave him to heart. In my visit and debrief afterwards you could tell that Gregor was anxious to make the necessary changes to make sure their next boat and all boats afterwards are good boats. I wish them well.

If anyone wants to speak with me they are welcome to contact me. My number is 631-423-4988 and my e-mail address is offshorepassage@sprintmail.com.

Editor’s Note: As Hank notes, at the time of the incident I was sure Be Good Too would sink after we left her. Subsequently, I reviewed the boat’s construction specs and on seeing how much foam core is in the hull I thought she might well stay swamped on the surface. If so, I expected there was a good chance we’d hear of a sighting once yachts started moving from the Caribbean to Europe, but so far there have been no such reports.

Big Tough Sailor

Thu, 2014-07-17 12:55

Okay, maybe not that tough:

Manta Hits the Big Four-O

Thu, 2014-07-17 12:16

By Kimball Livingston Posted July 17, 2014

There are huge differences between the formula classes and the one-design classes of landsailing.

Which doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who play both games.

It’s one thing to be a tinkerer and build a very-cool formula flyer, but hauling along a one-design yacht, when you head to the playa, means extra time sailing. And with something like the two-seat Manta—the Manta being the most popular class at the Landsailing World Championship this week at Smith Creek, Nevada—you can have your “cruise” time with a friend. Having been a passenger aboard a two-seat Manta with Bob Dill, past president of the North American Landsailing Association and one-time holder of the outright landsailing speed record, I can attest that there are plenty of thrills built into this visually-modest little ship. As the moment, pics of the single seater are easier to come by. This is racing at the Smith Creek Playa, and I note that unless there is a lot of dust blowing off the wheels, the camera just doesn’t show the speed . . .

And remember all that chatter about The Bear Away in the early days of America’s Cup 34? There was even one TV reporter who wanted to know why they didn’t just not do bear-away maneuvers. We won’t go there. But in a Manta as in an America’s Cup catamaran, there is that moment of truth when you want to get it right . . .

The price points are right. A new Manta single goes out the door of WindPower Sports for $1,825, the twin for $2,775. There’s a $190 ratchet block upgrade available for each, or choose beach tires at no extra cost. That’s it. That’s one-design sailing. WindPower Sports builds a range of items from kites to kite buggies to cross country mountainboards that can be used with or without a kite. Kids today, I tell ya.

But the landsailer had its peculiar origins four decades ago. I’ll let Russ Foster take it from here—

Adversity created popular 40 year-old one-design land yacht class

By Russ Foster, NALSA

The infamous 1973/74 Oil Embargo caused a big problem for Oakland, California-based hang glider manufacturers Alan Dimen and Russ Thompson. In late 1973, the shortages and rising prices of gasoline and the resulting uncertainty caused many customers to suddenly stop buying their popular Manta hang gliders.

Faced with rapidly-declining sales and a big stock of the aircraft tubing and parts used in the gliders, they needed a new product, and quickly!

Thus was born the Manta Winjammer land yacht, now commonly called the Manta Single. First produced in early 1974, it is arguably the oldest continuously-manufactured one-design land yacht in the world.

The aircraft-like quality of the Manta, with its light weight, portability, ruggedness, ease of use and reasonable cost made it popular from the outset. In the early days, hundreds were produced, and many were shipped to international customers.

The design celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and as featured as a one-design class at the FISLY-NALSA 14TH Landsailing World Championship (the Worlds) continuing through Saturday at Smith Creek Playa near the town of Austin in Northern Nevada. NALSA, the North American Land Sailing Association, is hosting the event and is the U.S. Affiliate of FISLY, the International Federation of Sand and Land Yachts, the world governing body for competitive land sailing. One design classes must adhere to strict “as-built-by-the-factory” specifications and emphasize sailor (pilot) ability, not experimental design. They are popular because the designs are constant, offer a pure test of sailing ability and do not create an expensive “arms race.”

While the Manta Single has enjoyed steady but moderate sales, its popular two-seater sibling, the Twinjammer (Manta Twin) introduced in 1976 and also a one-design, has outsold the Single by a 10-to-1 ratio for many years and regularly fields the largest fleets at U.S. landsailing regattas.

At the Worlds, Manta Singles and Twins both play important roles as charter yachts for international competitors who are unable to bring their own land yachts but want to sail in the regatta. The competition is fierce.

This Wednesday video from the Worlds shows a mix of formulas and one designs, plus a bit of Germany’s Frog Team that shipped its bus to Baltimore and then made a road trip of the 2014 Worlds adventure.

A Grand Day Out

Thu, 2014-07-17 11:43

Back in the day I had a yen to do a Whitbread race, as it was then. I envisioned myself steering resolutely down towering Southern Ocean swells, setting new boatspeed records to the acclaim of my crewmates, and sipping champagne from stilettos in the post-race parties. Of course a lack of skill and ambition in that direction scuppered any chances I had of doing a round-the-world race, and now of course the last thing I would contemplate doing is exposing my middle-aged self to the frigid wastes of the Roaring Forties, let alone the Furious Fifities or the Shrieking Sixties. I’m good with experiencing all that vicariously through the Volvo Ocean Race’s excellent videos.

I was reminded of those youthful pipe dreams last week when I was invited down to Newport, RI for a sail on Azzam, the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team’s new Volvo 65, courtesy of sponsors Etihad Airlines. The race is entering a new era now, with the six teams competing in identical boats designed by Bruce Farr. “This is now a strict one-design class,” Abu Dhabi skipper Ian Walker told me. “Each boat is delivered fully equipped and we can’t change a thing.” Even the ends of sheets and halyards are bar-coded so organizers will know if they’ve been shortened.

This means big adjustments for the sailors who’ve competed in previous editions.  Walker is on his third Volvo, and most of his Azzam teammates have several races behind them (one has already done five!). “The boat does not feel that different from the 70, but the very strictness of the rule means that we have to adapt to the boat, rather than tweaking the boat to suit ourselves,” he says. “We are sailing with fewer crew and only have seven sails instead of 11, so the more time we get on the boats before the start, the better.”

The affable Walker reckons this will be the tightest race in the 40-year history of the event. I think he may be right.

Now that’s what I call a transom—just over 18 feet wide! Having all that beam carried aft means the boats needs twin rudders to retain control when hard on the wind. The central tower houses liferafts and communications equipment.

Trimmer/helmsman Justin Slattery was celebrating his 40th birthday on the day. Here he tends one of the three coffee grinders, just before summoning yours truly to help sweat the mainsail up.

Thankfully the women from Etihad also put their backs into it. The multi-geared carbon fiber coffee grinders and winches from Harken are amazingly powerful.

The pit—where all the sail controls are handled in the cockpit—is split into three parts, with mot lines brought to the central pod. There’s a dedicated winch for each cluster of lines, which can also be diverted to other winches nearby. You can see why the French nickname the pit area the “piano!”

Slightly less clutter in the outboard pit area; not the arrows on the port primary winch, which is “handed”—the sheet is wound on anti-clockwise to ensure a better lead from the turning block.

The cockpit is long, wide and uncluttered—when crew often have to move quickly and in poor visibility, they need to know their way around instinctively, and the fewer tripping hazards, the better.

Here’s an indication of the kind of loads these boats have to handle—no more than 10 tons of tension on the forestay, folks…

Home, sweet home…  All the cooking—aka adding water to freeze dried food—is done here by the boat’s media crewman, who isn’t allowed to help handle the boat but does get to do domestic chores.

Here’s where the brains trust—skipper and navigator—hang out. Pretty simple really – a pair of laptops for navigation, interment repeaters, and adjustable seating. The aftermost chair is for the media crewman, who has his own editing station.

The palatial accommodations. There are eight bulkheads within the boat, most of which have watertight doors to contain flooding. In the center you can see the forward water ballast tank—there are two others aft. In the tropics, the unventilated all-carbon interior will be sweltering hot and dripping with condensation. In the Southern Ocean, the unheated all-carbon interior will be freezing cold and dripping with condensation…

Voila, the throne room. It’s a lot more civilized than the arrangements I’ve seen on some ocean racers. That carbon fiber toilet is gimbaled and all plumbing is right out there in plain view. And the compartment is screened on three sides so there is a modicum of privacy.

Skipper Ian Walker explains the provisions. Each of these bags contain two days’ worth of food for the crew of nine, all carefully measured and bagged for maximum caloric loading. Each crewman must consume 5,000 calories a day to avoid losing weight. It’s not all freeze-dried mush—each bag contains packages of treats to give the crew something to look forward to. The bags are labeled in the order they’ll be consumed—days 13/14 and 15/16 are shown here.

It was a thrill to steer such an exciting boat; in the light breeze she still hit an easy 10 knots under spinnaker. The day after our outing, Azzam and her crew left for England. Here they are, in delivery mode. They’re a great bunch of guys and I wish them well in the race.

Invention Trumps $$ at Landsailing Worlds

Wed, 2014-07-16 11:25

5.6 Mini Yacht Championship decided, other classes begin competition at Landsailing Worlds

By Kimball Livingston Posted July 16, 2014

A sailor is a sailor, no matter what the sailor sails.

And my point is?

The strongest reaction I ever received to a magazine article came from a piece about sailing model yachts. Those people have a passion. What’s more, I discovered that many of them are the usual suspects, people I already knew from sailing what they call “people boats.” They just have this other thing too.

So it is with landsailing.

Austin, Nevada is remote. Add a few miles and you’re at Smith Creek Playa, slightly more remote but flat and open and perfect for sailing on the hard. The world is gathered this week on the playa for a world championship almost as diverse as the world of wet-sailed boats. And yes, they call them boats. Or yachts. “Skipper” here becomes “pilot.” There are one-designs and one-offs, formula classes for tinkerers, some very sophisticated experiments in engineering and other experiments that lean toward the agricultural end of the scale. And there are the usual suspects.

The 2014 Landsailing World Championship is being managed by Santa Cruz sailor-sailors who have been at this game for a good long while. That would include Russ Foster, who observed the first day of racing for the 5.6 Mini class and fretted that he was watching an arms race taking off. To some extent, that’s built in by a class rule that allows multiple sails for different wind ranges, with no limit on sail area. The platform component of the 5.6 Mini rule requires a small boat but allows a dreamer to dream and a tinkerer to tinker: All wheels of the vehicle (three wheels, we assume) must fit within a continuous loop of small diameter rope 5.6 meters long, laid on a flat surface with the land yacht at rest. Now, Mr. Engineer, go play.

Foster observed, “First, reducing drag is important. Most of the leaders were lying down fairly far aft (increasing righting moment and rear wheel traction) in yachts with streamlined bodies and, in some cases, wheel pants and fully-enclosed front wheels. Moreover, on one or two advanced machines, the boom is very close to the deck, creating a ‘deck sealing’ effect and increasing sail efficiency.”

You can take that as far as you want to go, but—this time out at least—the hottest 5.6 Mini came out of Lakeside, Montana in the hands of John Eisenlohn, who designed and built US 772 himself of parts from home supply stores. He licked some showy international opponents who had gone the way of more exotic components, and in the process he probably tamped down the arms race a tad.

The 5.6 Minis were the first class to wrap their championship. (More info via the North American Landsailing Association.) Much more racing is under way, continuing through Saturday. Frenchman Bernard Morel traveled a long way to race in Class 3 and got, um, this. All images courtesy Carels Photography, Belgium. Yep, there is ample justification for a roll bar.

Breeze on to Hawaii

Wed, 2014-07-16 01:10

July 15, 2014 – The breeze is on and many of the fifty-five boats racing in the 2014 Pacific Cup are posting double-digit speeds and 200-nautical-mile-plus days. At this pace, Kaneohe Bay could be welcoming the first finisher as early as this Friday, July 18.

Venture, a Jeanneau 49 skippered by Michael Chobotov and leading the Holo Holo Cruising Division, has the bit in her teeth again and is starting to smell the Hawaiian plumeria with less than 600 nautical miles to go. She’ll want to keep an eye on the rear-view mirror as Invisible Hand, a Reichel/Pugh 63 skippered by Frank Slootman, is lit up and gaining fast at 16+ knots. If things stay at this pace, the Hand, which won its division in the 2013 Transpac, will be the first to enjoy Kaneohe Yacht Club mai-tais.

Moore 24 Snafu continues to dominate the ‘Iwi Doublehanded Division, with Blade Runner and Green Buffalo within striking distance. Meanwhile, in the Kolea Doublehanded Division, Wolfpack has the pedal to the metal, posting a 219-nautical-mile day – one mile less than California Condor. Awesome speed for this 30-foot boat!

Azure continues to lead the Alaska Airlines Division, with Back Bay and California Girl in hot pursuit. Green Buffalo has taken the lead in the Cal 40 drag race, while Azure, California Girl and Green Buffalo stand 3rd, 4th and 6th in the PHRF overall standings.

The leads for the Weems & Plath, Matson and Sonnen BMW divisions have changed within the past twenty-four hours. Sailing in the Weems & Plath Division, Free Bowl of Soup had a ‘souper’ day, posting a 202nm day in the last twenty-four hours to take the lead from Sweet Okole. This is the most competitive division in the race with only twelve hours separating the first boat from the last. In the Matson Division, Encore also had a great day, posting 196nm. Hamachi lit the afterburner with a 246nm day to move in front of Swazik in the Sonnen BMW Division; the top seven boats in this division are all in the hunt.

In the Latitude 38 fleet – the race’s fastest boats – Pyewacket, Roy Disney’s Andrews 68 and the sole Hawaii-based boat in the race, continues her leadership of the division as well as rating/overall dominance; both the Alameda, CA based Invisible Hand (Reichel/Pugh 63) and the Melbourne, Australia based Scarlett Runner (Reichel/Pugh 52) posted 300nm days while weaving their way through the fleet.

Tomorrow’s weather forecast suggests that the boats north of the rhumb line will see more breeze.

REBEL HEART: Lawsuit Against Sat-Phone Provider

Tue, 2014-07-15 20:28

Charlotte and Eric Kaufman, who brought the Wrath of the Mass Media down on their heads when they evacuated their Hans Christian 36 Rebel Heart back in April, have filed suit in San Diego against Whenever Communications LLC (doing business as Satellite Phone Store), their Iridium satellite phone service provider. As they described in their radio interview with Ira Glass on This American Life in May, they were using their phone to seek medical advice for their sick 1-year-old daughter when their service was intentionally terminated by the provider. Believing their HF radio had been disabled by a deck leak and that they had no other means of seeking help for their daughter, they set off their EPIRB and so ignited the chain of events that has since made them notorious.

The Kaufmans announced they would file suit last week and did interviews with Good Morning America and KGTV ABC 10 News in San Diego. The KGTV interview can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube:

 

It’s well worth watching. The nut comes at 11:33, where the Kaufmans explain that the four California Air National Guard para-jumpers who jumped out of a plane 900 miles offshore to come help their sick child didn’t do anything once onboard that they couldn’t have done themselves had their sat-phone been working. That is: the PJs simply called a doctor for advice on their sat-phone and stabilized Lyra, the sick child, using only medication that the Kaufmans already had onboard.

This certainly makes it seem there is a strong argument that but for the termination of phone service the Kaufmans would not have had to abandon their boat.

Some of the reports last week on the nature of the lawsuit seemed a bit off-base to me, so I contacted the Kaufmans’ attorney, Dan Gilleon, and he provided me with a copy of the complaint, which he filed yesterday. He also answered some questions I had:

 

WaveTrain: News stories about the suit are reporting either a) the Kaufmans are seeking to compel the defendant to recompense the rescue agencies; or b) the Kaufmans intend to use part of any award recovered to recompense the rescue agencies themselves. Reading the complaint, these interpretations seem inaccurate. The complaint on its face has the Kaufmans seeking a declaratory judgment that they are not liable to recompense the rescue agencies, and the agencies are welcome to join the action if they would like to seek recompense from the defendant.

a) Are the news stories in fact inaccurate? Have the Kaufmans indicated to you they would use money recovered in the suit to pay the rescue agencies?

b) Is my interpretation correct?

Attorney Gilleon: I was more than disappointed with Good Morning America. I almost did not let the interview go forward. The comment about using money recovered in the lawsuit to repay the taxpayers is simply wrong. I spent at least 20 minutes with that reporter explaining what we were doing. We never said that. Instead, I explained that seeking reimbursement for the tax payers is easier said than done when we have no political support for the notion. There’s lots of people out there griping about how the US rescue forces are used by, for example, Carnival Cruises, but are never repaid when rescues occur.

The US will not go after the Kaufmans due to a policy of not seeking reimbursement as against the people who are rescued, as doing so may discourage people from calling for help. This does not, however, legally prohibit the US from seeking reimbursement should the Kaufman’s attain financial compensation from the satellite phone company. We have offered to assist the US obtain compensation of their own through this action, but our means of seeking that cooperation is somewhat limited until an attorney is assigned to the case. I reached out to Rep. Duncan Hunter’s office, for example, but have gotten nowhere.

If the US government does not want to cooperate with us through this lawsuit to obtain reimbursement for the rescue expenses, then we want the court to terminate their claim against the Kaufmans. They should not be allowed to wait around and see if money comes, and then take that money. If they want to assign their damages to us, we can seek recovery of those damages through this lawsuit. Until then, all we can seek is compensation for the loss of the boat and the associated damages.

WaveTrain: Why is Eric named as a nominal defendant? The complaint isn’t quite clear about that, as he is not referenced in any cause of action.

Attorney Gilleon: Eric is named as a nominal defendant because he signed a contract that changed the venue to Florida. Charlotte didn’t sign that contract. However, even though we don’t need him as a plaintiff in the case, he needs formally to be part of the action due to community property issues with the boat. Even though Eric is named as a “defendant” just like the United States and California, in reality they’re just “indispensable parties” and naming them as “defendants” is the only way to bring them within the jurisdiction of the court to make a judgment final and certain.

WaveTrain: The complaint states that “Eric could not continue the voyage alone.” Why not? He had previously sailed the boat singlehanded from California to Mexico. The boat was leaking, but the leak was manageable. In their press conference, I believe one member of the rescue team stated pretty explicitly that Eric made a choice between staying with the boat or staying with his family.

Attorney Gilleon: There are several differences with Eric singlehanding in Baja versus continuing the Pacific crossing alone. He would crewless, without an EPIRB, and without a satellite phone. Combined it presents a threat that is clearly too high for multiple additional weeks of transoceanic passage making.

WaveTrain: Prior to setting out across the Pacific, Eric, posting as Rebel Heart, actively participated in online sailing forums and on at least two occasions described to forum members several problems he had with the defendant, his sat-phone provider:

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/ham-radio-vs-marine-ssb-121982-6.html#post1493195

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/iridium-service-plans-114895.html#post1384452

These included billing disputes and sudden phone deactivations for no apparent reason. Given this, it seems the Kaufmans in fact had fair warning their sat-phone service was unreliable. Doesn’t this prejudice their claim against the defendant?

Attorney Gilleon: He had the phone for nearly two years and in that time he can remember once where it simply did not work, the other time the issue cleared itself. In the first case a phone call to them resolved it and he walked away with the feeling that it was an isolated incident. If he thought the device was unreliable he wouldn’t have continued using the service. During the other nearly two years he used the phone constantly both for data and voice.

SatellitePhoneStore.com’s billing habits always seemed a bit off kilter but he chalked that up to the types of clients they’re dealing with (global, hard to reach). Also, they told him they were doing a big change to their billing system so long term there would be improvements.

WaveTrain: Have you developed any information that Iridium, as opposed to the named defendant, is also at fault? If so, can you share that information? Do you anticipate including Iridium as a defendant?

Attorney Gilleon: We have no evidence that Iridium was at fault in any way and furthermore would like to thank Iridium for being as forthcoming as possible in helping us to understand what happened to Eric’s account as it was handled by Whenever LLC.

 

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to this exchange, but to me Gilleon’s answers seem reasonable. The issue of whether Eric could have saved the boat by finishing the voyage on his own was the one I was wondering about most. To me it seemed this might have been a real possibility (as I mentioned in a previous post), but I had not considered the lack of communications. He had at least two more weeks of ocean sailing in front of him, in a boat taking on 60 gallons of water a day, or more, and doing so alone without even an EPIRB aboard would be enough to give anyone pause.

Reactions on the cruising forums have not been so generous. It seems independent-minded cruisers (and wanna-be cruisers) have a strong aversion to the concept of filing any sort of lawsuit related to things going wrong on a boat offshore. You can check the mostly negative reactions on the Cruisers Forum here and the Cruising Sailors Bulletin Board here. I note that Jon Eisberg, who gave me some grief after my own adventure in January, is leading the charge on the latter. He seems to have nothing positive to say about anyone who abandons a boat, whatever the circumstances, and I can only pray for his own sake he never has to abandon one himself someday.

At least one critic on the Cruiser’s Forum has charged that Eric has been deleting and revising past posts he made, seemingly in preparation for litigation. I asked attorney Gilleon in a follow-up question if he had any comment on this and so far have not heard back from him.

For myself, as a former attorney and as a bluewater sailor who carries a sat-phone, I have absolutely no problem with the Kaufmans filing suit against Whenever. Given the facts as we know them, they have a perfectly legitimate claim. I note in particular that Eric in the interview up top there (at about 20:38) claims to talked to his service provider just a week before heading out on passage and apparently received no notice as to any issue with new SIM cards. He may well have also mentioned the upcoming trip to them. In the complaint, too, there is an allegation that the company tapped the Kaufmans’ credit card for a monthly payment on the very same day they intentionally deactivated their SIM card.

I’ve noticed too on the forums that some people are now painting the Kaufmans as narcissistic media whores, which also seems unfair. I am sure they’ve turned down many more interview requests than they’ve received, and my take on what we’ve seen from them so far is that they’ve pretty much done the minimum they need to do to protect their own rights and reputations.

The Kardashians they are not.

Having said that, I should note Eric is scheduled to appear at a fundraiser in August for the That Others May Live Foundation, which provides non-profit support for Air Force rescue personnel.

Some may call that narcissism, but to me it seems an act of gratitude.

Landsailing Worlds

Tue, 2014-07-15 18:35

At Smith Creek Playa, Nevada, the world of landsailing has gathered to play. Some drove in, towing trailers. Some flew in and chartered “boats.” Containers have arrived from far-flung parts of the globe, and a German contingent of nine, the Frog Sails team, shipped their bus to Baltimore, then took off across the country, cooking in parking lots along the way. Here is team captain Kai-Uwe Ilts barbecuing for the team in a Wal-Mark parking lot in Pittsburg. Now, that’s how to see America, on the way to the Wild West, at that.

From a slow start in sputtering winds, things picked up early this week, and the venue is paying off. Here is video from the Worlds.

Frosty Defender/Challenger Relations in AC?

Tue, 2014-07-15 18:09

Stuart Alexander, writing in The Independent, recounts a weekend meeting in Los Angeles between Oracle Racing and the six committed, or would-be committed, challengers for America’s Cup 35. The challengerslaid down a number of peeves.

The lack of an announced venue.

The lack of San Francisco.

The lack of an announced PRO.

The plan to split the venue, possibly between hemispheres.

The absence of (my words) adult supervision of the process, with a deadline for entries mere weeks away and all the above making planning and fundraising harder than they have to be.

Stuart is a consummate veteran of Cup matters, and his information comes by way of his contacts at Ben Ainslie Racing. It’s his story, and he tells it here.

Thanks to Gilles Martin-Raget for the (slightly altered) pic.

John Rousmaniere, legendary sailor/writer on the 59º North Podcast!

Tue, 2014-07-15 00:04

To anybody that’s been near a sailboat, today’s guest needs no introduction. John Rousmaniere is a legendary sailor/writer whose been in the thick of the sport for over 40 years. He’s logged over 40,000 sailing miles, mostly offshore, raced at the highest levels of the sport, and written 15 books and counting on the subject. Andy met John at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club following the Newport-Bermuda Race a few weeks ago. John has been in charge of media for the past three editions of the race, and reprised his role in 2014. Then he jumped aboard the McCurdy & Rhodes designed ‘Selkie’ and sailed back to Newport! John and Andy Skyped, Andy in Sweden, John in NYC, and they chatted for almost an hour about John’s career as a writer, what it was like to sail in the ’72 Bermuda Race and infamous ’79 Fastnet Race, his motivations for writing about sailing and specifically safety at sea, and what he fears offshore. Enjoy!

Inmarsat iSatPhone 2, a solid satphone but here come Globalstar Sat-Fi & Iridium GO

Mon, 2014-07-14 11:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Jul 14, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

A brief test of the new Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 showed it to be quite a good satellite phone. Compared to the original IsatPhone Pro I tested in 2010, the new phone locks onto both GPS and Inmarsat satellites noticably faster and the voice calls seem to sound better. I also found the screen quite readable in most conditions including direct sun, and the user interface struck me as fast and easy to get the hang of. However, if you sense some “buts” coming, you are correct. At nearly $1,000 street price, this phone is not the “game changer” promised in 2010. Also long gone are the $200 prepaid SIM cards good for 250 minutes and two years mentioned in my 2010 review; Inmarsat phone service is pretty costly these days. Perhaps more important, we are just entering an era when we can supposedly have all the services of a satphone without actually having to own another darn phone, and possibly at a lower overall cost…

Before getting into the latest on Globalstar Sat-Fi and Iridium GO, here are a couple of IsatPhone 2 screens I appreciated. At left is what you get by tapping the dedicated Call History key and then the Options soft key. So just two taps and you’re ready to add a number to contacts, text it, etc. At right is the similar Messaging History screen, quickly reached via Menu soft key and mail icon. All messages, though, are texts; you can send or receive them using an email address but they’re still limited to “approximately 1600 Latin characters or 740 non-Latin characters” including the recipient’s email address. And you have to use the phone’s alphanumeric keypad to compose texts, like an old cell phone. (The phone has Bluetooth — especially useful for a headset as its antenna needs to be carefully aimed, at least at my location — but it doesn’t support a keyboard.)

It’s apparently possible to use the IsatPhone 2 as a modem for real email and maybe even weather files, but note that Inmarsat doesn’t even mention the possibility in its marketing. This may be because once the original IsatPhone was data enabled (after my test), it turned out to be very slow. Global Marine Networks (GMN) estimates IsatPhone data speeds as follows: setup, 40-50 seconds; latency, 5 seconds; raw average down speed, 12 kbytes per minute; and raw average up speed, 6-8 kbytes per minute. That’s real slow, even compared to the slow Iridium system, which GMN rates thusly: setup, 20 seconds; latency, 1.5 seconds; raw average down and up speed: 15 kbytes per minute. Not to mention Globalstar — if you have working coverage — with 5 seconds setup, 0.25 seconds latency, and 60 kbytes per minute raw average download and upload speeds. An offshore boater wanting even minimal data services probably shouldn’t consider the IsatPhone 2, or at least will need GMN’s Redport Optimizer to squeeze usefulness out of the slow connection.

The IsatPhone 2 has dedicated tracking button which can be set up to auto send a track point every 5 to 9,999 minutes. It worked fine in my testing but it’s sent as a text or email text and does not collect to an online tracking map, like the DeLorme inReach, unless arranged via a third party. Similarly, the user has to specify their own Assistance service contact to make that button useful, as I’m being told on left screen above. (Inmarsat does offer free 505 emergency SAR dispatching, but only for FleetBroadband services including the new FleetOne.)

I photographed the New Contact screen at right above because I was surprised it didn’t include an email address field. You can add one easily enough via the Options menu, but it was another indication to me that the IsatPhone 2 is mainly designed for voice calling and texting.

When Jeff Bezos recently spent ninety minutes introducing the Amazon Fire smartphone he didn’t even mention voice calling. But while we’re all generally using our phones less and less for phone calls, that may be less true of satphones. Being out in the middle of the ocean may be exactly when the intimacy of a voice call with loved ones is most valuable. A phone call may also be the most efficient way to troubleshoot a medical or mechanical issue, especially without fast email and Google. So the fact that calls on the IsatPhone 2 sounded good and were easy to make may be quite important versus my various negatives. The Iridium Extreme I tested in 2012 is also an able voice phone, and actually a little more “global” than Inmarsat credits on its comparison list above. And now that Globalstar’s new satellites are online, maybe its satphone deserves to be on that list (it’s now marketed as the Spot Global Phone, though it’s still less global than the other two).

But what if you could use an app on your own smartphone to easily make satellite voice calls? And another app on a phone, tablet, or PC to easily manage narrow-band satellite email, downloads, and possibly limited Web browsing? That’s the promise of the Iridium GO device which we discussed here in February and which is slated to ship in a week or so. It’s also the promise of the Globalstart Sat-Fi which I was so embarassingly skeptical about in that entry! Sat-Fi is not only interestingly real — not nearly as portable as GO, but that fixed marine antenna looks good for serious offshore — but Sat-Fi is already available from GMN and other dealers, and has already earned a favorable Wired review.

Meanwhile, Iridium GO service pricing was recently revealed and it seems as aggressive as promised, ranging from long-term prepaid cards to unlimited data rates that will likely make their phone customers jealous. Globalstar doesn’t differentiate between phone and Sat-Fi rates but they seem quite competitive with GO, especially considering the much higher data speed. I look forward to hearing more reports from the field, and maybe testing these new satellite hotspots myself. Will a satellite call on my phone sound as good as the IsatPhone 2? Will making such calls be as reliable? If so, will the traditional satphone go the way of the bag phone?

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

Pac Cup Away

Fri, 2014-07-11 20:00

Point Richmond, CA, July 11, 2014
Today was the fifth and last start for the 2014 Pacific Cup race, so all 56 competitors are on their way. The boats now heading toward Hawaii run the spectrum: Moore 24’s and the Nelson/Marek 92; double-handers and a boats with ten or more crew; first-timers like Shearwater competing with veterans like Sweet Okole and Green Buffalo; amateur sailors and professionals.

The wind conditions for the fleets are looking a little bleak at this time. The high has decided to slide south, dropping all the way down to a latitude even with San Diego and making the passage to Hawaii suitable for water skiing. Today’s starters are likely to have breeze along the coast, and will probably dive well south. The early starters, now about 800 miles out, will have few options but patience. Things appear to improve late on July 14th as the high strengthens and moves back to where it belongs, north of San Francisco.

The Latitude 38 division started today — the race’s fastest boats, with long waterlines and powerful rigs that let them scream across the Pacific at speeds undreamed of in other divisions. These are the boats that could possibly break the race’s standing record of five days, five hours, 38 minutes, ten seconds, set by Mari Cha V in 2004, although this is highly unlikely given the current forecast. The division is named for Latitude 38, the San Francisco Bay area based sailing magazine. They have been covering the Pacific Cup since the race began in 1980.

There are five boats in this division, three of them international boats that came to the start line via the Panama Canal. All are strong contenders, but there’s a lot of diversity here as well.

The biggest boat in the division is Hector Velarde’s Locura, a Nelson/Marek 92. Velarde, who hails from Lima, Peru, won fourth overall in the 2010 Pacific cup skippering Mirage, a Santa Cruz 70. The core members of Velarde’s 2010 team – including the navigator, tactician and bowman — are sailing again this year as part of Locura’s twelve man crew.

This will be the first Pacific Cup for Roy Disney’s Andrews 68, Pyewacket (formerly Pegasus, Equation, Magnitude), and only Roy’s second Pacific Cup, but this will be his twenty-second Hawaii race. And while Roy takes pride in being able to do any job on the boat, he, project manager Robbie Haines, and rigger Scott Easom have assembled a remarkably talented team including Olympic gold medalists, Volvo Ocean race and Americas Cup winners, and Hawaii race record holders. They laugh that although the youngest crew member on the boat, local Bay area sailor Dan Morris, is 25, the average age of the crew is over 50, and they have accumulated over one-hundred Hawaii races.

Max Klink, the young German owner of CARO, a Botin 65 launched in 2013, is aiming at competing in as many major regattas as he can around the world, but also enjoys cruising her with friends. She’s a dual-purpose boat with wood decks and the feeling of home, but also highly automated, all hydraulics (no grinders) and dual rudders. Two Kiwi crewmen on the boat joked that this is the first race where they will finish closer to home, not further away.

Invisible Hand, a Reichel/Pugh 63 skippered by Frank Slootman, won its division in the 2013 Transpac, and at least half of its thirteen-person crew has done the Pacific Cup before. In 2010 this boat won the Pacific Cup’s “fastest passage” award under another name (Limit) and owner.

For Scarlet Runner, the Pacific Cup is a leg on its circumnavigation around the world, bringing its Aussie crew closer to home (after a week of fun in Hawaii). This Reichel Pugh 52 from Melbourne, skippered by Robert Date, is a very successful ocean racer and the smallest boat in the division.

Race details and photos will be posted on the Pacific Cup’s website and Facebook page. You can follow the boats on the Pacific Cup website’s tracking page or the Yellowbrick app for iPad, iPhone and Android devices. Note: Yellowbrick data is delayed by six hours until the first boat reaches the 200 miles to the finish point, when the data will become live, and its position predictions are based on a boat’s latest VMG, so if someone catches a wave while being polled, their position improves. The daily tracking report on the Pacific Cup’s web site uses a two day average of VMG.

The Evils of Cockpit Flooring

Fri, 2014-07-11 19:35

There are many things I love about my boat.  It is a comfortable home. It sails beautifully in heavy weather. It is very pretty.  But even Papillon has its flaws.

The girls and I were playing a game in the cockpit. Stylish rolled, and the die skittered off the table. All of us shrieked and grabbed for it, but it was too late. It fell through the cockpit floor.

What, you might wonder, is the big deal? Our floor is painted aluminum with a teak grid overlay. It is a good concept: when water gets into the cockpit, it falls through the grate and disappears down the drains in the corners. Meanwhile, you have something non-slippery to stand on. Simple and practical – two of my favourite things.

But let’s think this through a little. More than water can fall through those holes. Noodles, Lego people, beads, coins, shells – down it goes. Now add some dust and hair, and you’ve got a thick mat of yuckiness coating the floor.

I made a face at the die nestled in one of the squares. The squares are too small to allow you to extract anything from the top. Instead, I had to put a finger in each of the adjacent squares and nudge the die up from underneath.

“Catch it!” I cried as it toppled out of my fingers and fell into another hole.

I washed the dust off my fingers and the die. “That’s it,” I said. “Time to clean the floor.”

Which is no big deal… as long as you have a few hours to kill.

Step one: get the floor boards out. Sounds easy, right? The floor comes in three pieces. Just lift and go and quit whining.

Not exactly.

The back boards are okay. Unscrew the removable benches, remove the upright pieces, wiggle the boards out around the hose and the throttle, and you’re done.

The main piece is a little more finicky. I sat on the port bench, lifted the table on its hinge, put my feet on the starboard bench,and rested the table on my knees.  I hooked my fingers into the grate, ignoring the dirt driving itself under my fingernails, and started to lift.  Man, that thing is heavy.  I eased the board up, inch by inch, dragging one end away from the binnacle and raising the other against the companionway.

“Stylish! Indy, I’m stuck, someone help me out.”

Stylish grabbed the end of the board as I shuffled along the bench and got a new grip. Slowly, slowly I got the board upright, and then onto the dock.  And this is what was left underneath:

Dusty, dusty dust.

It looks like there is a still a floorboard there, doesn’t it?  Nope.  Just lint and bits of paper.

Next stop: Shopvac.  There is no point washing until you have scraped off everything you can.  A broom won’t do it, because everything is glued to the floor.  I was delighted to find very little food hiding under there – a miracle, since we eat almost all of our meals in the cockpit.  My girls are growing up.

As I shut down the vacuum, Indy appeared in her bathing suit. She is keen on any activity that involves the hose, and it isn’t often we do a job that needs so much water. She sprayed down the cockpit, squirted out some soap, and was off to the races.

Indy is a fan of the scrub brush. She pushed the sludge into the corners, and then I got to do what moms do: pick it up and get rid of it. Sometimes I am sorry we have so much hair. As Indy rinsed the floor again, I saw some movement by the drain. I moved closer to get a better look, ready to kill whatever bug was trying to escape.

But it was a lizard.

Where did all of this soap come from?

As soon as I said the “L” word, Stylish materialized in the cockpit. She isn’t much for cleaning, but when it comes to animal rescue, she’s all over it. She gently scooped up the lizard and marched off down the dock to find him a better home.

We scrubbed and rinsed, scrubbed and rinsed, and finally the floor was clean.

I wrestled the boards and removable benches back in place, and we were done.

So cleeeeeaaaaan! Just the way I like it.

A few hours later, the girls and I sat down for some brie and baguette. As she gabbled about scrubbing boards on the dock, Indy casually swept some crumbs off the table and onto the floor.

I watched sadly as they drifted through the grate and settled on the aluminum below.

Roble Leads Women’s Match Racing

Fri, 2014-07-11 18:40

July 11, 2014

Defending champion Stephanie Roble of Wisconsin won five races straight in a brilliant opening day contesting the Women’s Match Race Championship at Oakcliff Sailing on Long Island Sound. Winds were light, and further racing was packed in as the air went calm.

Racing continues through Sunday. The prize is the Allegra Knapp Mertz Trophy plus an invitation to the open US Match Racing Championship on San Francisco Bay in October.

In second is SF Bay sailor Nicole Breault, who has past women’s world champion riding shotguh. Breault finished the day with a strong count of four wins and a loss.

The scoreboard
Roble 5-0
Breault 4-1
Hayes 3-2
Hearst 2-3
Gallo 2-3
Gill 2-3
Maxim 1-4
Barbuto 1-4

Event web site

The best sails for downwind cruising

Fri, 2014-07-11 01:24

What’s the difference between a drifter, a gennaker, a code zero, and a screecher? Where does a spinnaker fit in? And if you’re a cruiser, what sail should you use for downwind sailing, anyway?

There is no single “best,” because everything on a boat is a compromise, and individual styles/needs vary, but we have some opinions on the optimal choice for most cruisers.

This question came up on a women’s sailing forum I participate in recently. Because Jamie is a sailmaker, I asked him for help with a response that would be useful to differentiate the options for downwind sails. Differences between these sails aren’t difficult to understand, but get confusing because the names are mixed up or misused. I knew Jamie’d make sense of it, so he’s helped me organize this primer to provide basic general information on each sail, as well as his opinion on what’s the best for cruising purposes. Punchline: code zeroes are great for cruising. Does it cover all bases? No! What’s the catch? Keep reading!

Flying the asymmetric on Totem in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Courtesy of Jesse / SV Frances Lee

The descriptions below are for cruising context, racing applications add complexity. Putting this together was a pushme/pullyou between me and Jamie: my urge is to simplify (I’m a fan of Big Animal Pictures), Jamie wants to share detailed technical knowledge (he knows way too much about the subject). Hopefully we struck a balance, but if terms are unfamiliar, it might help to read some the definitions at bottom- or if you’re impatient, skip to the summary: What sail should you use?

 

Spinnaker

 

-     AWA: 90° (beam reaching) -180° (DDW)
-     TWS: 3 to ? (most likely 20 to 25 TWS, but can be higher if you dare)
-     Complexity: moderate to high, for experienced sailors; easier on catamarans
-     Sailcloth: nylon or polyester (not good for cruising), 0.4oz to 2.2oz per SY
-     Construction: tri-radial is best (and typical); older sails can be bi-radial or crosscut
-     Hoist/douse: with a sock (easiest) or directly from bag
-     Storage: very bulky

This is a symmetrical sail, so vertical edges are free flying and either can be luff or leech.  For monohulls, a spinnaker pole attached to tack controls the sail’s angle relative to the wind and boat. In some situations, monohulls can “free float” a spinnaker without pole. Multihulls can use a pole or free float the sail between hulls. Spinnakers have more involved rigging (sheets, guys, pole, topping lift, downhaul, halyard) and require more attention trimming, although catamarans have it easier because they can fly from the hulls and avoid a pole. Cruisers tend to over-trim to reduce the attention otherwise required, so they’re rarely used optimally. Spinnakers can be designed and built as general-purpose, or for specific wind characteristics.

Merlin’s crew estimates they used a spinnaker for 80% of the Pacific crossing. This pic of their boat above (courtesy of Emmanuel Beucher-Hall) helps show why it’s easier on a catamaran: instead of needing a pole they can fly it from each bow, using a quick release clip on one side for safety. (PSA: this beautiful boat is for sale!)

 

Drifter

 

-     AWA: 45° – 180° (DDW if poled out)
-     TWS: 1-5
-     Complexity: easy
-     Sailcloth: nylon or polyester (not good for cruising), 2oz to 3oz per SY.
-     Construction: crosscut or miter cut
-     Hoist/douse: from bag
-     Storage: very bulky

A drifter is for the lightest of winds only and the size (geometry) varies widely. It’s often attached to a stay, but can be a free flying luff with Dyneema luff line. Drifters have a very full shape to slowly bend wind around the sail. They’re relatively inexpensive, but have a very limited range of use.

Poles: not just for sailing!

Cruising chute / gennaker / MPS /asymmetric

 

-     AWA: 90°-ish (beam reaching)  to 180° (DDW) if poled out.
-     TWS: 3 to ? (most likely 20 to 25 TWS, but can be higher if you dare)
-     Complexity: moderate
-     Sailcloth: nylon or polyester (not good for cruising), 0.4oz to 2.2oz per SY
-     Construction: tri-radial (best) or bi-radial
-     Hoist/Douse: with a sock (easiest) or directly from bag
-     Storage: very bulky

Unlike spinnakers, asymmetric sails have only one vertical edge that can be the luff, unless hoisted incorrectly- which is symmetrically embarrassing! Sail shape is fuller in the front (luff) and flatter in the back (leech), like a headsail. It is easier to rig and fly than a spinnaker. In general, the tack attaches at the bow via a tack lines and has a free-flying luff. There are many geometry and shape variations based on boat/purpose/etc. but a general-purpose sail is most common. Using a spinnaker or whisker pole adds complexity (though still simpler than spinnaker setup), but helps the sail fly better. When close reaching, attaching the tack to pole give complete control of tack location. For broad reaching to DDW, attaching pole to clew helps project the sail to keep it filled and reduce collapsing.

 

Code zero / screecher

 

-     AWA: 60°-ish – 180° (DDW) if poled out.
-     TWS: 5 to ? (very sailcloth / AWA dependent – closer angles = less max wind, otherwise similar to asymmetric)
-     Complexity: easy to moderate.
-     Sailcloth: nylon or polyester (not good for cruising) or laminates (polyester and/or high modulus fibers)
-     Construction: tri-radial
-     Hoist/douse: continuous line furler (stows in bag with sail)
-     Storage: rolled up, so less bulky

Now we’re into it! Code sails (0, 1, 2, 3, etc.) are designed with very specific purpose (wind velocity/angle) for racing. A “code zero” for cruising doesn’t really fit what implied within racing. Some sailmakers are branding names (Doyle UPS, etc.) but let’s just call it a cruising code zero (CCZ). A screecher for cruising has the same general characteristics as CCZ, but for multihulls. To simplify here, they’re collectively called CCZ/S.

Asymmetric sails blend features of spinnaker and headsail to simplify flying. CCZ/S takes design another step closer to headsail than the rest: it still has a free flying luff, but geometry and shape slide closer to a genoa. This sail’s purpose is to increase effective AWA sailing range, and can approach close hauled angles, and handle a higher load (windspeed). It’s easier to fly, and takes up less space stowed. Furling is generally easy, although practice and good gear help. CCZ/S can be made with a UV cover to remain hoisted for longer periods, making it again one step easier to use.

The virtues of the CCZ/S Jamie wanted to share run for several more paragraphs, but this hopefully captures the essence.

What sail should you use?

 

Every boat, every crew, every situation are different, but Jamie offers these opinions as a general guideline. It’s not an attempt to be the gospel of downwind sail choices, but a summary to help cruisers understand the relative pros/cons in a succinct manner. Meanwhile, there are other options like double headsails, a poled out headsail, etc.

Hanna’s mainsail cover stayed on during wind-and-wing saling for at least 17 days out of their 21 day Atlantic crossing. Thanks Jan A. for this photo! 

  –     Spinnakers are too much effort for most cruising boats, although they are easier on cats. It’s best sail for deep angles or dead downwind, but DDW is a slow point of sail best minimized. If you have one, make the most of it, but if you’re shopping for a new sail, I wouldn’t recommend it for most cruisers.

  –     Drifters have a limited purpose, so aren’t usually a good choice unless you’re in an area with very little wind and endowed with a great deal of patience.

  –     Asymmetric (cruising chute/gennaker/MPS/etc.) are a step in the right direction, but their all-purpose designs, tend to limit wind velocity and angles. We have an asymmetric sail for Totem that’s gotten far less than expected: it’s either to light, too windy or the angle is too tight. (Jamie wishes we had a code zero!)

  –     CCZ/S is the best choice, for three reasons. First, they can be used across a wider range of wind speeds and angles. Second, they’re easy to set and fly. Finally, they’re more space efficient to store. Further, most cruising boats don’t spend much time beating upwind (close hauled and tacking). A CCZ/S can’t sail higher than 60°-sh degrees like a genoa, but from that angle back a CCZ/S is a better sail than a genoa; thus, for many boat eliminates the need for a genoa. Instead a CCZ/S and 110%-ish all-purpose furling headsail cover a big range of conditions

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

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

Definitions

Sailmaking terms

Symmetrical – Both vertical halves (left and right if projected in front of the boat) of the sail are identical (the same geometry). Either vertical edge of the sail can be luff or leech.

Asymmetrical – All sails, except spinnakers are asymmetrical, but the general term refers to downwind sails whose vertical halves (left and right if projected in front of the boat) are not identical. There is only one luff and one leech.

Sailcloth weight – refers to the actual weight of one “sailmakers yard” (SY) of cloth. A sailmakers yard is 28-1/2” x 36”.

Crosscut – panels are run perpendicular to leech (actually to line between head/clew), across the sail.

Miter cut – a sail constructed with 2 sections, separated by the miter seem which is roughly perpendicular to the luff and intersects with clew. The leech section panels run as in a crosscut sail, the foot section panels are perpendicular to foot.

Bi-radial – Narrow panels radiating out of head to about mid-height of sail. The lower half has wide panels oriented horizontally.

Tri-radial – Narrow panels radiating out from each corner, intended to follow the load paths in the sail.

Sailing terms

Free flying luff – the luff (leading edge) of the sail is not attached to a stay or spar.

AWA – apparent wind angle, no big definition here other than to say the direction that the wind feels like it coming from while the boat is moving.

TWS – true wind speed

DDW – dead down wind, meaning wind come from directly behind the boat

Naked in Public Podcast

Fri, 2014-07-11 00:00

Welcome! New concept this week borrowed from Tim Ferriss and his podcast, which I’m a huge fan of (check it out). Every Friday I’ll be recording an essay of sorts – stories, opinions, ideas, Q&A if we can get some folks involved, that sort of thing. It’ll be a nice compliment to the interviews I do with guests, which will be out earlier in the week. So enjoy this story of my first experience being naked in Scandinavian-style with my wife Mia, her best friend Johanna, and my best friend Clint in the sauna in Finland.

Four Races and a Crowded Pacific

Thu, 2014-07-10 20:01

July 10, 2014
With three sailing races and a rowing race under way to Hawaii, the Singlehanded Sailing Society of San Francisco Bay is serving up this snapshot of how the positions looked at one recent moment. Entries in the Singlehanded Transpac started June 28 and are farthest down the track. Pacific Cup racers have been going off in stages, with a final start on Friday for the big guys. The Vic-Maui fleet working down from the north is pretty obvious, and to the south we have the rowers of the
Great Pacific Race.

Yes, there is a Vic-Maui entrant headed to San Francisco instead of Lahaina. That would be the Farr 395, Anduril. Here’s the scoop from Skipper Greg Harms: “Many thanks for offers of assistance, which we decline. We are making 6 knots to SF under storm jib and trysail, 440 miles out. E-tiller is functioning satisfactorily. Steering quadrant turning sheaves broke the mounting box tabbed to the hull, rendering any sort of repair impossible, short of a boatyard. The strong northerly winds we will have to buck are a bummer but there is no emergency. We expect to see you all in Hawaii after making SF and sorting things out.”

I’m also noting John McPhail’s left turn, laterally across and through the fleet with his J/160, Jam, to settle into the most-southern lane. I seem to remember that, in the 14-boat Cal 40 fleet of the 2005 Transpac, Sally Honey and her all-woman crew aboard Illusion did something of the same, and it worked. The Pillsbury family with Ralphie had made a big dive south from the very start, and they were gone. Ralphie was going to win the division unless it broke or sank.

The only race left was for second.

Sally won that one—Kimball

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