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ARC Course Record Smashed by Maxi ‘Leopard of Finland’

Wed, 2014-12-03 08:11

For more images from the ARC, click here.

Unprecedented in the 29 year history of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, the ARC Course Record has been broken for a second consecutive year following ideal trade wind sailing for the largest transocean rally. Leopard by Finland crossed the finish line in Rodney Bay Saint Lucia this morning at 01:09:51 UTC (02/12 21:09:51 Local time) smashing the ARC Course Record by 2 days 6 hours 45 minutes and 19 seconds.
Sailing across the Atlantic from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia in a total of 8 days 14 hours, 39 minutes and 51 seconds, the 10 Finnish adventurers alongside Leopard’s regular ‘pro’ crew headed by skipper Chris Sherlock, celebrated successfully completing the Finnish-led transatlantic record attempt that has been over a year in the planning.
The project has the brain child of Samuli Liesti and his friends who have been passionate about bringing Finnish sailing to a wider audience and increasing the profile of the sport.  Mike Slade’s 30m (100ft) canting keel super-maxi was chartered for the attempt and rechristened Leopard by Finland. Liesti then recruited a crew combining some of Finland’s sailing superstars, such as Whitbread veteran and two-time Finnish International Sailor of the Year Kenneth Thelen, with Atlantic novices who had not experienced crossing an ocean before.

“The idea came about to do a transatlantic because for so many people, including us, it is a dream come true. It has been awesome and great pleasure to be part of such a great team,” beamed Project Manager, Samuli Leisti as he reached the dock. “Stepping on board in Las Palmas was one of those remarkable moments. Leopard is 100 foot super-maxi with canting keel and a boat that holds so many records … it is just amazing. Before we started [the whole project], we said we wanted to first do a transatlantic crossing and second break the ARC Course Record. Now we have achieved these dreams.”
ARC Weatherman Chris Tibbs commented on the weather for Leopard’s record breaking crossing: “The low pressure system that caused the delayed start to ARC 2014 has meant that the wind on the passage has been more northerly than usual, enabling Leopard to sail a more direct course and not go south of the rhumb line in search of trade winds, at least until the latter part of the crossing. As they closed the finish in Saint Lucia, they have had to get south of a trough of Low pressure to stay in the trade winds, which saw them dipping in close Barbados, adding extra miles to their trip.”
After a breezy preparation period in Las Palmas that saw the start delayed by 22 hours due to strong winds locally, the ARC fleet have enjoyed text-book tradewind sailing for the first week at sea that has meant two of the three fleet leaders will make landfall within the previous record time. The crew on board Andy Budgen’s Volvo 70 Monster Project will undoubtedly feel some disappointment to cross the finish line in Rodney Bay within the record time later tonight, but missed out due to Leopard by Finland’s triumph, having traded gybes with them most of the way across.
‘We had great downwind sailing all the way, moving at 30+ knots of boat speed, surfing down waves, and here we are 8 days down the line. To take 2 days off the record; we are very, very happy; it is a great team. One of those dream crossings.” said Chris Sherlock, skipper of Leopard. “This is my 29th Atlantic crossing and I have been coming to Saint Lucia for 22 years…. Saint Lucia is my second Caribbean home and we love it here.” John Emmanuel, Public Relations Manager for the Saint Lucia Tourist Board greeted the 23 crew with a welcome basket and champagne to celebrate their arrival on the Caribbean Island.
“This is the 3rd ARC I have done and each year gets better and better. We are really pleased to be a part of it and World Cruising Club do a really good job of what they do. The racing division is run well. It’s a great event and I can thoroughly recommend anyone who wants to do a transatlantic crossing to do is a part of the ARC.”
With the previous ARC Course Record, set by Caro a Knierim 65 in ARC 2013 tumbling in less than a year, the Leopard crew are determined to keep their name at the top for a long time to come, ‘We will be back next year and try and take some time off that again!” added Sherlock.

AMERICA’S CUP: Why Not Bermuda?

Tue, 2014-12-02 21:25

Since word first leaked out two weeks ago that Bermuda would be selected to host the 35th America’s Cup in 2017 there has been a drumbeat of criticism in the sailing community. People saying the island doesn’t have the infrastructure to support the event, that the sailing conditions are not adequate, that it would be a travesty for an American defender to defend the Cup in foreign waters, and mostly, it seems, that the “real reason” Larry Ellison wants his Oracle Team USA to defend the Cup in Bermuda is because of its status as an international tax haven. Well, today the rumor became official, Bermuda IS the venue, and funnily enough not one member of the media attending the press conference in New York had the cojones to ask a single question about taxes.

Why is that? Why is it that people do nothing but bitch, bitch, bitch about the way the America’s Cup is run, no matter who is running it, no matter how it’s being run? And when someone who has strong opinions about the Cup finally gets a chance to actually do something about it, even just to ask a simple question in public, they gape and do nothing?

At least the folks at Sailing Anarchy, long one of the most virulent critics of Cup management, have acknowledged this disconnect. Their explanation of why they decided not to bother traveling to New York to harass the Powers That Be, published yesterday, is pretty right on, IMHO. They call it Dyscuptoptia, this disease of irrationality that seems to afflict us all when it comes to all matters Cup-related.

Personally, I’m psyched that Bermuda is the venue. Partly this is personal: I’ve always liked Bermuda, I visit often (always in some capacity related to sailing), I have friends there. But mostly it’s objective: Bermuda has a great sailing heritage, it is tightly linked to the United States and its sailing community (at least on the East Coast), the hospitality is fantastic, and I guarantee you almost every single soul there will be very invested in this event. Sure, there will be some problems to work out, but none of them are insurmountable.

It was implied but not stated at today’s press conference that the course for the America’s Cup will be set on Great Sound, which is the great bight inside the island’s “fishhook” at its western end.

Again, for some reason, no media people at the press conference asked any questions about this. Jimmy Spithill, representing Oracle Team USA, did acknowledge that races would be run on “a tight track.” As you can see in that aerial Google map up there, it will be tight indeed. From Ireland Island straight across to the Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse is a distance of only about five miles, and it looks to me like you could set at most a three- to four-mile straight-line windward-leeward course inside the sound proper. Whether that’s too short or not for 62-foot foiling catamarans to really strut their stuff I don’t know, but it does look like a great spot for so-called “stadium sailing.”

There was an announcement that the old Royal Navy Dockyard on Ireland Island will be made over into a unitary America’s Cup village with a genuine “pit row” that has all team facilities in one location, and those attending the press conference (or streaming it live online, like me) were treated to a hot promo video with lots of artist’s renditions of what a wonderful village it will be:

I have some questions about this, too, and hopefully I’ll soon be able to buttonhole some folks I know in Bermuda and get some answers about how the logistics (like how you get hordes of people out there and back) might actually work.

At the conference, from left to right, were Jimmy Spithill (Oracle Team USA), Nathan Outteridge (Artemis Racing), Max Sirena (Luna Rossa), Franck Cammas (Team France). Also present, but not shown here, were Ben Ainslie (Ben Ainslie Racing), Kevin Shoebridge (Emirates Team New Zealand), Michael Dunkley (Premier of Bermuda), and Harvey Schiller (America’s Cup Commercial Commissioner)

Meanwhile, people, I implore you: let’s stop bitching about the Cup. Let’s follow Sailing Anarchy’s lead here and consciously shed the awful disease of Dyscuptopia.

True, the America’s Cup has often been crazy and unpredictable, but this is inherent to its being organized as a charitable trust with a crazy core contradiction–that the putative trustee should have to compete with putative beneficiaries for the corpus of the trust. If you want to change the fundamental nature of the Cup, you have to change that fact, and the only way you, me, or even Larry Ellison can do that is by filing suit in New York state court.

Until that happens, if ever, we should just kick back and savor the madness. It may not be an ideal way to run a top international sporting event, but it has resulted in some fine superlatives: oldest trophy in sports history, longest winning streak in sports history, most spectacular comeback in sports history.

Let’s stop whining and just be proud of all that.

Nobeltec TimeZero app 2015, Furuno DRS4W WiFi radar overlay & more!

Tue, 2014-12-02 16:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Dec 2, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Yes, iPad navigation fans, that is Furuno 1st Watch WiFi Radar overlaid on the Nobeltec TimeZero charting app. I wasn’t even sure that an iPad could overlay radar over a simple vector chart, but here it is over a finely rendered raster chart blended with hi-res satellite photos. This is virtually the same mix of navigation data that I’ve found so useful on a Furuno TZT and the short demo file I saw running in Fort Lauderdale suggested that it may pan and zoom (and even go 3D) almost as smoothly on an iPad. It’s a major advance in tablet navigation, I think, but the TimeZero app update coming next spring has more to brag about…

The Nobeltec announcement that went online today is titled TimeZero App Compatibility with FURUNO DRS4W Radar & AIS, but there’s actually more to it than that. After the update the standard version of TimeZero — which already impressed me and costs $40 to $50 depending on the (large) chart region you choose — will be able to receive some basic boat data like GPS and Heading coming over WiFi. (And they hope to give TZ the ability to accept and display more basic data like Depth, Wind, and Temperature eventually.) Buy a $10 add-on software module — right in the app, just like you buy the charts — and TZ will also display AIS targets coming over the same WiFi connection. Finally, if you have a Furuno DRS4W radar, a $50 module enables overlay and full radar control.

The diagram above shows how you could use all of TimeZero’s new capabilities at once. The 1st Watch Radar with its fixed WiFi name (SSID) and password acts as the central access point, so whatever WiFi bridge you use to send out Heading, AIS, etc. from the boat system must be able to join a network, not just create one. But this feature is becoming more common, like with the Vesper XB8000 AIS transceiver that has recently been distributing AIS, Depth, Wind, etc. via Gizmo’s own WiFi router. At any rate, picture the above diagram with a Vesper bridge/transponder plus a few sensors and instrument displays. I see a pretty powerful yet economical navigation package running on the two iPads a DRS4W will support with no MFD onboard. I’m not saying I want to go that way myself, but some boaters do, and this is exactly the scenario that Furuno’s standalone WiFi Radar concept seemed to hunger for. (Note that Furuno and Nobeltec do have a relationship.)

It’s also possible to use the TZ app simply with the WiFi Radar, as Nobeltec says the overlay will sync to charts OK with COG (Course over Ground) instead of Heading if you’re going over 1 knot. They highly recommend Heading, though, and apparently the compass built into iPads isn’t up to the task.

A third possible diagram would show the iPad hooked directly to a boat’s WiFi data access point, without a WiFi radar. So the updated TimeZero should see some Vesper data streaming from Gizmo’s router, AIS included if I add the module. And I’ll bet the TZ app does good AIS target plotting, like its MFD and PC sisters. But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. Besides the announcement, Nobeltec has a detailed TZ/DRS4W/AIS FAQ for download and they promise a list of compatible WiFi bridges when the update materializes sometime next spring. Who’s now more interested than ever before in Furuno’s WiFi Radar and/or the Nobeltec TimeZero app?

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

Weekend Water Fun

Tue, 2014-12-02 14:35

You would think that moving off the boat would mean less time spent in the water. That hasn´t been the case. Our lives still revolve around beaches, snorkelling, cyclones and storms; our focus is just a little different. Instead of wondering: “Do we need to reef the main before that squall hits?” now we ask: “Do the girls need to take an umbrella to school today?”

Saturday dawned on our second swim meet of this term. The girls do Swim Squad every Tuesday after school. They were good swimmers before, but now that they are mastering the actual strokes, they are amazing. It is a strict-but-fair program run on the official Australian rules for the sport, and the girls are eating it with a spoon.

The swim meets of my youth were a sad affair in comparison. No humid indoor rec centre, no chlorine stench, no grey walls and the echos of overeager parents. Instead, we have a lovely 25 m outdoor pool with the tropical breezes blowing and a view of the neighbouring islands. (Someday my girls are going to give me grief about their upbringing, because we have clearly spoiled them rotten.)

For two and a half hours, they raced. Freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. Even the littlest kids did the 100 m medley. Erik and I filled our regular roles as timekeepers, and the whole town cheered the kids on.
Come on, let´s get started! Get set…

To do some obligatory parental bragging, the girls were awesome. They are like darts in the water. Stylish won a special award for her work over the term, and came home with a pair of the fastest times for the year. Once Indy gets a little more length in her limbs, she is going to give her sister some serious competition.

But that was not the end of our water weekend. The next day was Waterslide Day. Every December, the town erects a souped-up slip-n-slide in the park. The kids bring their own dish soap, a parent stands by with a hose, and off they go. On Sunday afternoon, the slide opened for business.

See that house in the background of the first photo? That is my house. You can guess where we have been every free moment since the slide opened.

Erik´s fine videography shows it best.

I am treasuring these water moments. Soon the closest I´ll get to warm water will be hiding in a bathtub, trying to pretend there isn´t a snowstorm going on outside. Sigh. Although, come to think of it, not much beats a hot bath and a book on a cold day.

We´ll see if the girls think so, too.

LIVE Podcast: Down-Island Caribbean Cruising

Tue, 2014-12-02 00:02

We recorded this one live in Tortola at the end of the Caribbean 1500 rally. Andy gives an informal chat on his favorite places to visit down-island in the Caribbean. Basically St. Martin and south – the Eastern Caribbean’s Leeward & Windward Islands. (By the way, that sound you hear in the background? It’s the waves at the beach where we recorded this!)

If you want to follow along graphically, it’s a good idea to listen to this one near a computer and just Google Earth the places I mention here to get an idea of what we’re talking about geographically. Better yet, downlaod the Imray app, including the Imray-Iolaire charts for the Caribbean, and follow along (these are the same charts I reference in the talk, and my personal favorites).

I’ll also have a page on the site devoted to this talk, with notes, charts and photos, so you can refer to that here.

Want to go ocean sailing with Andy? Book a berth on Sojourner, Serenity or a soon-to-be-announced Swan 57 at

VOLVO OCEAN RACE: Team Vestas Wind Wrecked

Mon, 2014-12-01 17:47

Here’s one way to get cruising sailors interested in the ongoing Volvo Ocean Race–have one competitor pile up on a reef at night in the middle of nowhere. It was definitely NOT a happy Thanksgiving holiday weekend for the crew on the VOR65 Team Vestas Wind, as they hit Cargados Carajos Shoals (a.k.a. Saint Brandon Shoals) 200 miles north of Mauritius on Saturday while racing in leg 2 of the Volvo race, from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi. Reportedly, they were making 18 knots at the time.

Ouch! This is why crew on these boats always fall asleep in their berths with their feet facing bulkheads.

Another competitor, Team Alvimedica, which has since resumed racing, stood by the grounded boat for several hours until all the crew were safely off and local authorities arrived on the scene. The Vestas crew, who initially had to evacuate on to the reef itself, are now all ashore and are plotting how best to salvage their vessel.

The burning question, of course, is how did this happen? How does a navigator on one of the most sophisticated racing sailboats in the world, with satellite comms and a full-on electronic nav suite, manage to drive up on to a charted reef? Online forums, predictably, are abuzz with commentary, and the usual suspects are proclaiming how such a thing would never ever have happened to them because they would have had paper charts, etc., etc., etc.

What we do know for sure is:

A) Yes, this most certainly would never have happened to any of those usual suspects, because they will never ever in their lives have a chance to navigate a boat in the Volvo Ocean Race.

B) The area where the reef is located was originally in an exclusion zone that competitors were prohibited from sailing in. The zone was opened, however, so that boats could stay clear of a tropical storm in the vicinity.

C) At least one other boat, Team Dongfeng, had trouble avoiding the reef and its tiny islands and had to jibe at the last minute to stay clear.

The blue track is Team Vestas Wind, which landed on the eastern windward side of the reef. The red track is that of Team Dongfeng, and you can see clearly how close they came too. The orange track is that of Team Alvimedica, coming in to stand by on the leeward side of the reef

Another thing is also certain. We will eventually get a detailed debrief on what actually happened, as every Volvo boat has an “embedded” journalist onboard, taking lots of notes and photos and video. Most likely, once the Vestas reporter, Brian Carlin, gets some serious comms capability we will be inundated with on-the-spot images and info.

Ironically, not long before Vestas ran aground Carlin shot this image of the boat’s underbody and posted it to Instagram with the caption “Look out below!”

Meanwhile, there’s lots of other relevant video to inspect. I suggest you start with this Facebook video put up by race leader Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, in which Abu Dhabi‘s skipper, Ian Walker, gives us his post mortem on the accident. He notes in particular how he had worried about how easy it would be to go aground here at night and how you have to zoom in real close on their electronic chart to see the obstruction at all.

You might also check out this viddy, taken onboard Alvimedica as they stood by to help:

Plus this one here, in which Vestas skipper Chris Nicholson fields a call from VOR Race Control after he and his crew made it to dry land:

And this one, where Alvimedica‘s navigator, Will Oxley, also talks to Race Control:

I should also note that this event is well worth following even when the fleet isn’t hitting the bricks. The new VOR65s are essentially one-design boats, and the racing has been very close. Right now, for example, the top three boats are all within four miles of each other!

Racing With Copepods? Yep, Racing With Copepods

Mon, 2014-12-01 00:42

Released December 1. A project with my friends . . .

Fundraiser: kids & kittens at the shipyard

Sat, 2014-11-29 21:15

A few days ago, I posted the photo above to Totem’s Facebook page with the following caption:

We’ve decided the scooters on Totem will have an extended useful life if they stay with the kids in the shipyard instead of coming across the Indian Ocean with us. How many paved roads are there in Maldivian atolls, anyway? This little guy is really too cute for words. We lowered handlebars as far as they could go for him and he won’t let it out of his grip.

One of our followers, Mike F., was inspired to send a scooter to the kids here… then realized how outrageous the shipping costs are. Shipping costs alone could probably buy several scooters already IN Thailand! It didn’t make sense.

We came up with the following solution:

  • raise some money from interested folks,
  • buy a scooter (or three) in Thailand on their behalf,
  • use any excess to buy the kids’ school supplies,
  • deliver scooters to the kids before we sail away.


Here’s the catch: there’s less than a week to do this, because the shipyard would prefer to leave fulfillment with us, and we should be launching as soon as December 4th.

<This didn’t show up in Sailfeed for some reason, but I’ve removed it from the blog and have moved into shopping mode now anyway!>

I’ll post updates to Facebook as funds are raised, and answer any questions here (and on FB), and share pictures of goodies going to kids on the eve of our departure.

Did you know about the kittens?

While we’re raising a few dollars, I’ll put the shipyard kittens out there too. Six motherless kittens (and two puppies) were found in the lumber storage at the shipyard, are currently being cared for by our daughters in what’s become the critter nursery inside the PSS shipyard offices. Barring adoption by a yachtie passing through, they’ll not be “pets” but live in the shipyard: but first, they  need to get bigger and stronger to survive independently…not to mention, a few trips to the vet for worms, skin fungus, and eye infections.

Caring for the kittens has been the mission for our girls during our stay at the shipyard! Please consider donating towards costs of kitten care, and we’ll make sure they’re well supplied with kitten chow and litter before we depart. Just mention it in the memo field what portion of your donation is for the kittens, or let me know through our contact form.

12/1 UPDATE:

We have raised more than $900 dollars since this was posted yesterday. I am blown away by your generosity. This will do SO MUCH GOOD! Julie has made a list of the kids of the shipyard workers, and is talking to parents about their needs. We can get shiny scooters, yes. Soccer balls, too. And with all this, we can also help their families in a very real way with school uniforms and supplies- constraints that keep some kids from going to school. The kittens will have a deep stash of kibble, too! We’ll have a party to share the goodies and news with the kids on either Wednesday or Thursday, Dec 3 or 4- still need to confirm (at this point, contingent on having enough time to do all the shopping!).

12/2 UPDATE:

Well that was overwhelming, in the best possible way. We’ve raised nearly $1,400 for the kids & kittens from you wonderful humans who read this and felt inspired to give! I will do my best to see that your donations are used as well as possible. With the last couple of days we have here, I’m working with shipyard management on how to best meet the needs of families here, and shopping to meet those needs.




Long time followers know we appreciate the change you kick into our cruising funds when you click through to the Sailfeed website

METS 2014: Navico GoFree, Simrad IS35, Victron Bluetooth, LCJ Capteur BaroPlug & more

Fri, 2014-11-28 19:00

Written by Kees Verruijt on Nov 28, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Earlier this week we published Henning Dürr’s report on METS 2014 and now here’s what Kees Verruijt found.

Navico GoFree cloud content and services
The Simrad NSO evo2, NSS evo2, B&G Zeus2 and Lowrance HDS Gen2 Touch MFDs will all get a January software update that allows users to buy new charts, update software, and more directly from their boat displays. Moreover, GoFree is being upgraded to a separate “brand” that covers all the cloud-enabled content and services offered by Navico on all three “hardware” brands…

The first big step is to make the existing GoFree WIFI-1 wireless bridge — which previously provided only a closed loop WiFi connection between mobile devices and an MFD/sensor network — also able to act as a WiFi client to an internet access point. (You can use another WiFi bridge instead of the WiFi-1, download “GoFree Advanced Setup” here, but you won’t be able to set these up from the chart plotter nearly as easily.) The coming software update also seems to put rudimentary browser and file transfer functions on the MFDs, as well as enabling quick tasks like choosing a new external WiFi network.

The new GoFree Shop choice coming to the current generation MFDs will let you access the Insight Store (which will be renamed the GoFree Store) to buy Navico’s own charts and those of charting partners that participate in the program. NVcharts and Jeppesen C-Map have announced that they will participate.

Direct downloading of system software updates will also be enabled, as well as chart updates and the ability to easily upload sonar data to the Insight Genesis make-your-own-chart program. What was still missing at METS was the participation of Navionics, who run their own Freshest Data chart update program. When asked, the Navionics people on hand could not provide any guidance, so we’ll have to wait and see how this plays out.

Navico obviously has big plans for their new brand, though, and if you check out the Introducing GoFree video you’ll find mentions of telematics and social boating.

Simrad IS35 instrument display
Also being shown was the new $399 IS35 color instrument display. These will look very nice on a motorboat “glass bridge” underneath one or more NSS 2 displays. They are intended as a replacement for analog engine instruments for motorboats — with default pages for engine monitoring, fuel economy, cruising, steering, and depth history. For that reason they are not the “standard” 110 mm / 4″ size but 10mm smaller so they fit the standard 85mm (3 3/8″) circular cut-outs typically used by analog gauges. The IS35 is the more stylish option in such an installation compared to the existing $549 IS40 color instrument display, but the IS40 has a larger display, buttons that are easier to use with gloves and — depending on what the final firmware in the IS35 will contain — they’re possibly better suited to sailboats.

B&G H5000 one year on & Zeus Glass Helm
The H5000 display that I liked last year in a rough form is now, with a few more firmware releases under its belly, ready for prime time. The race start display in particular is now very easy to use and gives excellent feedback — how many boat lengths advantage on which side of the line, how many boat lengths over/under the line. If you are a serious racer, you need something like this. B&G has also come out with Zeus2 Glass Helm system (based on the Simrad NSO evo2) with a choice of 16- or 19-inch monitors.

Editor note: Among Garmin’s many Fort Lauderdale announcements was a graphic Race Start function that will run on new 7400/7600 MFDs and also looked easy to use and informative ~ Ben

The atmosphere at Victron was ebullient. Panbo readers in the U.S. will be glad to hear that they are not only are expanding the marketing and sales departments, but also the tech support and fufillment areas. This should improve Victron support in the U.S. considerably.

Besides new low end chargers and DC/DC converters what caught my eye was a Bluetooth LE dongle that will connect BMV-700 series battery monitors (and MPPT solar panel controllers that also use the VE.Direct protocol) to mobile devices. I had not realised until I researched this entry that the “new” Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) standard is so different to “classic” Bluetooth, and therefore is a huge improvement — lower in energy, simpler to pair, all good. It definitely seems to be on a roll and catching on quickly. The Victron dongle is another example of how a simple serial to wireless dongle allows you to use the superior graphical user interface on your smartphone or tablet, reducing the number of LCD screens scattered around our boats…

Airmar Ultrasonic Speed Sensor
Are others interested or is it just me who’s developing a personal obsession with Airmar’s ultrasonic speed sensor? Henning had obtained a DST900 brochure (download here) that shows a picture of the now almost mythical paddle-less speed sensor that has been delayed for many years. Since last year (oh no – it is already two years ago) they have managed to put a picture of the actual sensor in their show material, but release is still “scheduled for early next year” and some distributors have given up. I guess it’s good on Airmar that they are not releasing an unfinished product and making us all guinea pigs, but maybe this technology is just not meant to be? Or maybe the tech works but just not at a cost-effective price level?

LCJ Capteurs BaroPlug
Henning and I also visited LCJ Capteurs, who I mentioned in my METS 2012 coverage. I was curious to see how they got on since I do not see a huge uptake locally amongst racing or cruising sailors and so I guess it is still an up-hill battle for them to compete with the bigger players. Maybe their new BaroPlug will help? It is a very simple NMEA 2000 sensor that only does one thing, provide atmospheric pressure onto the network. Although there are other solutions such as an Airmar PB/WX series, I think this is the first simple single type sensor providing this particular data point. Pressure is important for any boater — when the pressure starts dropping you ought to be executing previously made plans for bad weather. And if, by oversight, you haven’t, you are warned and can take action — hopefully in time. At €150, or about $200, it is reasonably priced for a NMEA 2000 sensor and I think it has a bright future ahead.

Closing thoughts
The atmosphere was good, people seem to be cautiously optimistic. The trend towards tablet-style interfaces and better styling in electronics continues. However, it seemed to me that there were very few world class premieres around. Could it be that the competition is heating up so that there is no time to wait for a yearly show? Or are shows such as FLIBS gaining the upper hand?

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

America’s Cup Legacy: The Good News

Fri, 2014-11-28 17:30

By Kimball Livingston Posted November 26, 2014

The first time I saw a kid in a sweatshirt that said – MISSION HIGH SAILING TEAM – it made my day for a week.

This comes up because of my recent, published appraisal of the legacy of the San Francisco America’s Cup as “chopped liver.” I stand by that appraisal for the big picture. Citywide, chopped liver it is. But Valerie Santori, who manages Golden Gate Yacht Club’s youth program, rang my chimes to remind me that there are exceptions. Says Val —

“For youth sailing in Northern California, the America’s Cup legacy is huge. I checked the league directory on [Pacific Coast Interscholastic Sailing Association] to see which of our schools have registered. I was blown away by the number of full sized Northern California high school teams.”

Well, I can vouch for that, and yes, the America’s Cup had an impact on it. Bumped up the profile. Got more people looking. We can’t measure cause and effect, but something that was already growing, boomed.

On the city front of San Francisco, StFYC in 2014 hosts eight high school teams, with more knocking at the door. The program can’t grow because there simply isn’t any more parking space for boats on trailers, but, wanna talk high energy? Man, it’s electric. And the kids will sail in anything, and they won’t quit. Maybe I can capture the spirit of it if I paint an imaginary picture of an imaginary mom standing on the breakwater on a drizzly, wintry eve shouting, “Sally, Johnny, get in here. It’s dark and it’s time for dinner.” In the distance, faintly, we hear, “Awww, Mom. Five more minutes.” Take away the mom, substitute a professional coach in a safety boat, and our imaginary picture gets pretty darned real.

I write this because I’ve seen it for myself, and I know it’s no different at Golden Gate Yacht Club, farther out the jetty, which hosts five high school teams including Mission High. The Golden Gate Yacht Club program grew on two factors: The energy and finance driven by GGYC’s role as the sixth trustee of America’s Cup, and the dedication of Valerie and her husband, GGYC rear commodore Dave Santori. These things always take a sparkplug or two, and I am grateful to Val for reminding me of things the America’s Cup campaign got right.

With Oracle Racing turning its face toward Bermuda for a 2017 defense (or so we hear), the youth program is something GGYC can point to with pride as a benefit to San Francisco. The program is not an affiliate of SFUSD, but as GGYC states, “it is an excellent option for PE credits for schools that offer alternative PE arrangements.”

——————————————- WOULDN’T YOU RATHER BE SAILING? ———————————————————

And, as Val pointed out, the Treasure Island Sailing Center is a superstar of the America’s Cup legacy. Their office/classroom is a doublewide trailer purchased out of a $250,000 grant from the America’s Cup Event Authority, and program director Chris Childers says, “Because the America’s Cup people chose us for outreach, we’ve been able to put more than 1,500 kids through our science-and-sailing program. When we started, I was going school-to-school, and at first they’d give me a blank stare and say ‘The America’s Cup doesn’t do anything for this city.’ Then they’d get it. In 2012 we had about 450 kids. In 2013, it was 1,100.

“We target fourth graders, a few fifth graders. Most of these are kids who live within a couple miles of the bay, but they’ve never been on the water, never felt a boat move underneath them.”

And Treasure Island is a place where a kid can be a kid . . .

The photo above and others below come from the TISC Facebook page, which is loaded with smiles.

Every fourth grader in the San Francisco Unified School District is eligible for this wake-up experience. In a typical session, a kid spends four hours at Treasure Island, including 90 minutes on the water in a stable 18-foot sloop with an instructor. They check out “the critters,” Childers says: Pelicans, cormorants and seals, sometimes at close range. They pick out landmarks. They see their home from a profoundly new perspective.

In a classroom session, they learn about the population dynamics of crabs, what makes the seabreeze, why the waters of the bay rise and fall, and who can say, really, what they’re learning in the background, because —

“I’ve seen the benefits explode,” Childers says. “As the kids come through, we occasionally see one that we know from the summer camps that we run, but not many. Now we’re seeing kids who came for a school day coming back and registering for camp. It’s fair to say, the America’s Cup is still taking kids sailing.”

Treasure Island Sailing Center is cranking on many levels. Its programs run from youth to adult to adaptive to “watersports” and not only sailing. Groups and community organizations are welcome. Scholarships are available. And there is protected water in the lee of the island. Treasure Island. For teens, there is competitive sailing in FJ dinghies like this. Yeah, there’s the occasional giggle . . .

In 2014, if it didn’t exist, we would not re-invent this landfill plot that originally hosted the 1939 International Exposition, lovely though the Expo was. In its moment, the Expo was almost religiously celebrated for its innovative lighting. The cove that now hosts the Sailing Center once was the base for the Pam Am Clippers that famously flew the Pacific route to the Orient.

Today the City of San Francisco has big plans for the future of a redeveloped Treasure Island. With the Sailing Center at the heart of it. It will never again be as we see it below, but there’s plenty to like.

Bridges old and new. The fleet awaits the morrow. Photo courtesy Treasure Island Sailing Center.

Holiday gifts for cruisers

Fri, 2014-11-28 08:03

Shopping for a sailor? Getting ready to go cruising, and don’t want to spend on things you won’t use in your life afloat? Here is a list of suggested gifts we love (or wish we had!) that you can take with you…and some distractions to help you keep the cruising dream present while you wait.

Dream fodder

If cruising is in your future, here are some great reads to keep the dream alive, with tales directly from cruisers about their experiences afloat.

Blown Away, Herb Payson. One of the true classic cruising memoirs, this new edition includes the author’s hindsight on the aftermath of cruising. Herb is everyman, who took a lean budget and his family to find grand adventures. It is timeless, insightful, honest, and will leave you laughing as you wish you were following in his wake.

Love with a Chance of Drowning, Torre DeRoche and The Motion of the Ocean, Janna Cawrse Esarey. These two cruising memoirs women have  very little in common except that one rather important criteria: they’re well written page-turners that take you on their voyages.

9 Years on the 7 Seas, Anne Brevig. This book is ALL about the pictures: images from Anne’s circumnavigation and the accompanying journal of her travels were my frequent companions on nights when our cold Pacific Northwest winters felt dark, and the South Pacific felt very far away. You can buy digital editions directly from Anne on her website; I favor the large format paperback.

Sailing Alone Around the World,Joshua Slocum. The original cruiser and his in dominatable voyage around the world: this is the book that made me fall in love with the dream of cruising.

Mairen reads in the cockpit; Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Personal gear

An ereader. You should at least partially convert to ereaders if you haven’t already! We love to read, and it’s simply hard to keep up with quality reading from outside the US. Unless you’re satisfied with the Patterson, Cussler, and Steel on the honor library shelves you’re going to have to bring it with you- and there’s only so much bookshelf space on a boat. We’ve used several different types over the years: I’d get another Kindle Paperwhiteif I had to buy one tomorrow. The gentle side lighting makes for unobtrusive and easy nighttime reading. We specifically like the e-ink over tablet readers as dedicated reading devices – we have a couple of iPads on board too, but it’s a less pleasant reading experience and too hard to use in bright daylight. Oh, and don’t even think you will be able to share one!

A rugged headlamp. We use our headlamps all the time. They get us from cabin to head without disaster at night. They keep us hands free to light a beach fire. They act as dinghy lights on the way back to the boat at night. Yet somehow, a really dependable headlamp has been elusive! We’re trying this set now, and are pretty optimistic. They are waterproof, rugged, extra bright when we need them, dim when we don’t. The only thing ours doesn’t have are night-vision friendly red lights, but we have red cabin lighting that fills this need on night watches.

Camera equipment

A good DSLR. I’ve had some nice compliments on photos here and I’m pleased with the gear we use on board. A Nikon 5100 DSLRas my primary camera. The newer generation of this is the Nikon D5300 (see this comparison); for a great deal, I trust Adorama for second hand gear. For lenses, I love this 50mm lens – it’s kind of famous for clarity: it takes gorgeous shots! I’ve usually got this 18-135, though, as a walkaround. If I had my druthers, though, and a new budget for gear- I’d swap it for a nice wide angle like this one, with a better zoom for distance. I’ve written about our current gear it more extensively in this post.

An underwater camera. If it’s going to be a wet dinghy ride or I just need something small and rugged, we use a Canon Powershot D20. We use it for all our underwater photos as well, and it’s been great for us (check out the current model, the Canon PowerShot D30- our D20 is already two years old). But if we were buying a new compact underwater today, I’d take a long hard look at the newer Olympus Tough-  I believe it edges out the Canon.

Fun in the water

Snorkel (or dive) gear. I wasn’t really into swimming before cruising. Wow, THAT changed! With such gorgeous clear water, and so much to see, we spent a lot (a LOT) of time in the water. Good gear is worth the investment. You’re best off trying on masks at a dive shop to get the best fit. Make sure the there’s an actual hinge (not just soft silicon) between the frame and the strap. We have a hodgepodge on board, but the better Cressi snorkeling gearhas all held up well.

Speargun. Won’t THAT make an impression under the tree! These have been worth endless hours of fun on the reef, pushed us to improve our freediving capabilities, helped us better understand the marine environment, and provided some extremely delicious dinners. Jamie bought a Pelaj in Australia; this Rob Allen railgunstyle is similar, and 100cm is a good length for versatility.

our friend Mike from IO, spearfishing in Fiji


General cruising aids

A good rangefinderis just the kind of gadget that is super helpful, but a bit of a splurge for something so specific. I wish we had purchased one back when we still had a good income! A range finder can save sleepless nights at anchor wondering exactly how close you’re getting to that cliff, or if the charter boat in front of you is dragging as much as you suspect.

Infrared thermometer. This is another one of those discretionary gadgets that makes a fun pre-cruising gift you will actually use. OK, so sometimes we use it for kicks just to see how hot the deck gets in the tropical sun (it’s measuring Celcius, by the way- that’s HOT)… but it’s also been very useful for troubleshooting when we had engine overheating problems. Professional grade can run to a couple hundred dollars, but you can get a “good enough” cheapie like this onefor around $20.

Galley favorites

Pressure cookers are praised by many cruisers. Count me in: I bought one ONLY because we were going cruising, and used it for a year before I left. Honestly? It was a revelation how it eased dinners for our busy family life, with homemade meals in less time. Aboard, of course, that means less fuel used and less heat in a tropical galley. Mine is a Kuhn-Rikonwith short handles (easier to stow) and 6 liter capacity (a whole chicken roast, or 4 pint jars for canning). Don’t wait until you go!

Good coffee. I remember looking longingly at our espresso machine at home and wondering how I’d break my addiction to good coffee afloat. Turns out: no habit change required, just different methods! Our everyday coffee is made in a stovetop Bialetti Moka Express- just know that when it says “six cup” size it’s referring to espresso portions: that 6 cup model is just enough for Jamie and I to have our morning joe. You’ll need spare gaskets (we go through about one a year). We also use this gorgeous Bodum stainless steel french pressto make delicious coffee; but what you need to know is how ridiculously sturdy and overbuilt this pot is.  That pretty glass french press one won’t get you far offshore! It’s also insulated, and keeps a pot warm for hours. The right cookbook. I love to cook and didn’t think I needed another cookbook, but you will: The Boat Galley Cookbookis awesome, and Carolyn and Jan have thought through pretty much every question you will have about provisioning, adapting for other countries, and recipes with a cruising filter.

Field guides

Last year I wrote about our favorite guides for fish, shells, other marine life, birds and more about a year ago. With the natural world so big in our lives, these add tremendous enjoyment to our everyday existence. They’re great memory keepers, too, with notations in the books about when and where we’ve seen a given critter.

Going to Mexico?

With Mexico in sights as the first major destination for most west coast cruisers, here’s my pick on reads to set you up for a great experience.

The Log from the Sea of Cortez, and The Pearl,John Steinbeck. It’s simply required reading, both the nonfiction story of his exploration in the Gulf of California in the 1950s and the piognant tale of a Baja boy who finds the pearl of his dreams.

Gathering the Desert,Gary Paul Nabhan. Fascinating look in depth at a few key items you can forage for in the Baja deserts. A great read for anyone spending hurricane season in the Sea of Cortez, very interesting if you’re into that kind of thing. I loved this book.

The People’s Guide to Mexico,Karl Franz. Occasionally dated (it is in the 14th edition), this is still both entertaining and helpful for orientation if you’re totally unfamiliar with Mexican culture.

Going to the South Pacific?

It’s too easy to be in Mexico and realize you don’t have quality books for the South Pacific. It happened to us! We lucked into books from someone who changed plans – don’t make our mistake. I listed useful guide books in this post.

Typee,Herman Melville. When you get to the Marquesas, you will probably anchor in the same bay where Melville jumped ship with another sailor. It is a tremendous true story that was believed to be made-up tale for years, and a great way to find new appreciation for your exotic surroundings.

An Island to Oneself,Tom Neale. This is the book that has inspired many cruisers, and a must-read if you’ll be sailing to Suwarrow, one of our favorite stops in all of the Pacific.

For the cruiser with everything

There’s always a carbon fiber head

Ideas from other cruisers

I asked around for other lists of gift ideas for cruisers: here are some recommendations from others:

It’s always appreciated when you click through to the Sailfeed website! The links in this post which lead to Amazon listings include a referral from the Totem crew. If you click through a link and purchase from Amazon, it throws a little change in our cruising kitty. It doesn’t cost you a penny, but it’s a nice help for us. Thank you for supporting our family!

Podcast Across the North Sea, Pt. 4: Landfall

Fri, 2014-11-28 00:02

This is Part 4 of Andy & Mia’s last big offshore passage on Arcturus from 2012, when they sailed direct to Sweden from Scotland. If you missed Parts 1, 2 & 3 they were  the last two Friday episodes, so you’ll want to hear these in order.

Thanks to the Blaggards for the music! Check them out at

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

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

Wed, 2014-11-26 13:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Podast: Carib1500 Sailors Frank & Patty Fabian

Tue, 2014-11-25 00:02

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

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

Want to go ocean sailing with Andy? Sign up for an offshore passage at

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

Mon, 2014-11-24 20:56

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

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

Jury-rigged staysail stay attachment

Wasted staysail furler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mon, 2014-11-24 20:56

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

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

Jury-rigged staysail stay attachment

Wasted staysail furler

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

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

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

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

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

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

The View from Team Alvimedica

Mon, 2014-11-24 16:55

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

I like the pic.

I knew him when.

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

This is Amory at the wheel . . .

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

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

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

Once More, the New Normal

Mon, 2014-11-24 13:35

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

Helmets, too are the new norm.

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

America’s Cup, Whither Away?

Mon, 2014-11-24 13:02

By Kimball Livingston Posted November 24, 2014

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

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

I’m pretty sure they’re thinking


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

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

Now GGYC is in the boat.

Perhaps you remember, Life of Pi?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

Now, what a let down.

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

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

At the Fishing Competition

Sun, 2014-11-23 19:57

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

And she fished.

And she fished.

 And she fished.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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