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NOVA SCOTIA CRUISE: Fog With Everything

Tue, 2014-07-29 21:39

I am writing this in the obscure, once prosperous fishing port of Lockeport, not too many miles north of Cape Sable on Nova Scotia’s so-called Southwest Coast, which actually faces east. It is not foggy now, though it was when we came in here just before sunset yesterday. So thick we couldn’t see more than 30 yards and had to do a might bit of groping with chartplotter and iPad before we found the docks of the White Gull Marina (see photo up top), where we settled in for the night alongside a big turquoise Novi-style lobster boat named Newfie Kids.

We’ve been out eight days now and barring some unforeseen disaster while recrossing the Gulf of Maine, I can say this little voyage has been an unmitigated success. Even with the fog. And in part because of it.

It took us two and a half days to sail from Portland across the Gulf and up the coast to Lunenburg and of those for one and a half at least we were buried in the thick stuff. We were off Cape Sable, an uncomfortable place to be in the best of circumstances (due to fast current, shoal water, and vast fleets of fishing boats), when at last it dissipated. I was on watch alone, at night–a moment I’ll remember until the end of my life.

Night sky revealed, studded with brilliant stars; lights on shore visible in the distance, evidence of our arrival somewhere; lights in the water, electric, everywhere, bioluminescence so vivid that the boat carved out a brilliant deep valley of light behind it and every wavelet for as as far as the eye could see was capped with a bright brilliant light of its own. So many twinkling lights, above and below, it was impossible to say where the sea stopped and the sky began.

Clear at the outset. Crew member Charles “May I Cast Off Now” Lassen lounges sur la cockpit as we set out from Portland in light wind

Ferry sighting. The new Nova Star, now running twixt Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, is fully equipped with guest cabins, shops, restaurants, and (of course) a casino

Whale sighting! In the fog, mais oui. They have dolphin-sized dorsal fins, but the rest is much bigger. During our transit I saw three whales up close and in person, one of which went flukes up, and spotted two spouts at a distance

The day after the Revelation of the Night Lights we screamed up the coast at speeds of up to 9 knots (that’s me doing the screaming there), running down the Nova Scotia trades (20-knots-plus SW’ly) wing-and-wing under a double-reefed main and headsail

My ultimate goal during this cruise was to visit Lunenburg and Mahone Bay. Lunenburg, of course, has a vast reputation among the Nautical Illuminati, and Mahone Bay, just to the north, has the highest concentration of islands and islets per square mile of anywhere in Nova Scotia and so seems attractive by default.

Lunenburg was much what I expected, a fabulous destination to arrive at by boat. Young ladies sailing bright classic daysailers waved and bid us welcome as we entered the harbor. Inside we found all manner of traditional craft, perfectly primped, with a high preponderance of schooners.

Fortuitously, we happened to arrive just in time to witness the annual Wooden Boat Reunion, during which all types of perfectly maintained old wooden boats (many of them schooners) carom around the harbor under sail like pinballs

Now that’s what I call a bowman

The Bluenose II, a fine replica of the famous fishing schooner, was undergoing maintenance up at the far end of the harbor. Her boom is incredibly long! Nearly as long as her foremast (sans topmast) is high

Her worm-gear steering revealed

Her immaculate foredeck, with a modern hydraulic windlass. On the old boats you had to crank those puppies by hand

Lunenburg has many churches. This Anglican church is the fanciest one. It was badly damaged by fire in 2001, but has since been restored

A special surprise. I knew, but had forgotten, that my old Pearson Alberg 35 Crazy Horse currently resides in Lunenburg! She is now called Eventide and is exceedingly well cared for

Mahone Bay was something else entirely. Studying charts at home, I had marveled at its vast archipelago of islands and imagined they were all uninhabited. I pictured myself gunkholing among them, stopping often to go ashore and explore their virgin interiors.

Our first day in the bay, thanks to the fog, which rolled up and down like a tease, I was able to maintain this fantasy, as I couldn’t really see the islands. On the second day, bright and clear, with a light northwesterly that allowed us to sail in and amongst the islands with ease, we found in fact they are all covered with summer homes. Some of them quite fancy! On a par with anything you’ll see on the Gold Coasts of New England.

Charles steers with his butt as we wend our way through Mahone Bay wing-and-wing under full-blown screecher and mainsail

Some swank summer homes in Chester, toward the north end of the bay

Even the trailer parks are swank! This deluxe mini-park in Mahone Harbor features an over-the-top custom rip-rap shoreline (a very common feature on Mahone Bay) plus a brightly colored wooden lawn chair (also quite de rigeur in these parts)

The Chester Yacht Club looks like many nice clubs I’ve seen on Long Island Sound, except Mahone Bay (I have to say) is much nicer than the Sound

And yes, you can find secluded spots to call your own. Here we are anchored off Heckman Island the night before we returned to Lunenburg

The Big Experiment during this cruise was the Importation of the Ferry People. My wife Clare, daughter Lucy, and Charles’s bride Susan (the Sooks), all came via Nova Star with a car and joined us for the weekend in Lunenburg.

I had many anxieties about this–the ferry ride would be uncomfortable, the drive from Yarmouth to Lunenburg would too long, etc., etc.–but in fact it all went perfectly. The Ferry People had a fabulous time, both on the ferry and with us, and the Experiment, in the end, was popular with all concerned.

The Ferry People hang tough: Clare, Lucy, and the Sooks

Lucy climbs the mast to check out our flag display

Charles wins the Toenail Painting Contest

Alas, the Ferry People had to head out at O-Dark-Hundred yesterday morning to catch their ride home, and Charles and I sailed out of Lunenburg not long afterwards to take advantage of a southerly breeze. We didn’t know where exactly we were going, except that we wanted to get as far down the coast as possible.

It was a fantastic piece of luck–we covered 60 miles or more, closehauled the whole way on one starboard tack, in the fog, and made it in here just before dark.

Slashing through the fog

Lockeport is nothing like Lunenburg or Mahone Bay. They’ve lost their fishing industry, but haven’t managed to remake themselves as a successful touristy summer-people destination, though they are trying their best. What they do have in common with everyone else here is that they are extremely friendly, polite, and considerate. Canadians truly are NPOE (Nicest People On Earth), which is reason enough, I reckon, to sail over for a visit.

What You Need to Know: Bring an extra jerry jug or two. For some reason they don’t have fuel docks over here.

The only waterfront fuel pump we’ve found, here at the White Gull Marina (just $37.50 a night for a 39-foot boat!), has long since given up the ghost. Even in Lunenburg, where they have many yachts, you have to schlep fuel in jugs if you’re buying less than 100 gallons, which is how much it takes to lure a truck to a wharf.

Whale Watching in Baie du Prony

Tue, 2014-07-29 19:58

“You want to go whale watching?” I asked.  “On someone else’s boat?”
“Heck, yes!” said Erik, rubbing his hands together.  “The season has started; there should be humpbacks in Prony by now.  Come on, it’ll be fun.”
Fun Daddy was back in town.  We only see Erik for a few days every month, and he is always keen to make the most of his time with us.
I looked over the brochure. With Papillon due to get hauled out and checked over in a couple of weeks, we weren’t going to make it down there under our own steam.  It would be kind of fun to be purely a passenger for once.  And, let’s face it, I’m a sucker for marine mammals.

The day was clear but cold.  By six a.m. we had boarded the catamaran, because early is how these New Caledonians roll.  The dozen of us scrunched around the table as the captain began his departure talk.

I leaned over to Erik.  “My money is on this being 50% about not breaking the toilet.”
Sure enough, after glossing over such important safety information as “don’t fall off”, the captain brought out a Jabsco pump assembly.  He gave the crowd a beady-eyed look.  “Now,” he said, “I am going to explain the toilet facilities to you.”
I grinned as he laboriously went through the finer points of using marine facilities. This is always our first talk with visitors, too. Marine toilets are finicky beasts, and there is nothing worse than having to take one apart. I can’t imagine having to impress this information on charter guests day after day – a group of people you know full well couldn’t identify a joker valve if you paid them.
After a final dark warning as to the fate of anyone who misused the single toilet aboard, we were off.
No whales for a few hours; let’s play cards. Sunrise southeast of Noumea

I’ve never been able to get used to the motion on a catamaran. I know some people love them, and not heeling over has its appeal. But a cat always feels choppy to me, at anchor and underway. Whereas my monohull has a smooth, rolling motion through the waves, a cat makes me feel like I’m a Fremen crossing the sands of Dune.  Maybe the random, uneven gait of a catamaran helps it hide from sandworms.  But I was armed with my seasickness medication, so the chop was bearable, if less than ideal.

The coast slid by, but the day did not warm up thanks to a cold South wind. As our French compatriots huddled in their fashionable scarves, we sought shelter.  The interior was off-limits (except for the strictly-controlled toilet, of course). So we improvised. The girls discovered that the entryway over the port-side hull was delightfully roomy (ie. about 2.5 ft x 4.5 ft). The four of us piled in, and started reading.

As the morning wore on, people would walk past, do a double-take, then pretend they hadn’t seen us. I think they were all secretly jealous that we were so toasty out of the wind.  Yes, that must be it.

And, finally: whales. We abandoned our hidey-hole, emerging like a troupe from a clown car, and crowded onto the trampoline with the rest of the whale-watchers.  We spent a delightful time watching a juvenile humpback breach, swim, and be whale-like.

What is Indy looking at? A whale tail,of course

Full of excitement and fun, everyone flaked out on the trampoline for the return journey.  And when it got too cold, back into the clown car. 

I was a little wistful as we sailed away, wishing we were on Papillon and could stay in the bay for days on end if we wanted to.  But being a passenger for a day was fun, and I know our long, lazy days will come again.

Furuno 711C Navpilot head & MCU002 remote keypad, TZT style

Tue, 2014-07-29 12:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Jul 29, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

The press release (PDF here) for Furuno’s new color 711C autopilot control describe it as “completely redesigned to provide an excellent match with Furuno’s flagship line of NavNet TZtouch MFD’s… right down to the control knob!” There’s no denying the similar handsome styling, and doesn’t it make you wonder if Furuno will eventually offer a color NMEA 2000 instrument display with the same standard DIN size and 4.1-inch color screen? That’s 100% speculation on my part, but doesn’t it make sense as Furuno finds itself competing with Raymarine, Garmin, and Simrad over the glass style helm that the TZT Series arguably spearheaded? The MCU002 remote TZT keypad, also now official and shipping, seems like another step in keeping TZT competitive.

Furuno USA lists the 711C as a complete autopilot system, but in fact it uses the same NavPilot Processor Unit as the existing 700 autopilot. That’s a good thing as you can purchase a 711C Control Unit for use with an existing Navpilot system, which already has a lot going for it. For instance, check this 2013 Miami Show entry for some detail on the Navpilot 700 series Safe Helm and Power Assist features. You’ll also get to compare the old monochrome control screen with the 711C’s bold new color graphic screens.

I found the most detail about the new 711C Control Unit at Furuno’s Navpilot site, particularly from the brochure you can download there. The diagrams below, for instance, explain the “FishHunter” mode in action on the screen above and also what “Advanced” means on the top screen. The 711C strikes me as a good autopilot — anyone out there tried the 700 series? — and it sure looks like it would fit nicely with most any glass style displays. Note, though, that if the 700 series is fitted with a TZT system, you’ll also have autopilot control on your MFD. Same brand MFD autopilot control is now true for all of the Big Four electronics brands.

Similarly, the advent of the Furuno MCU002 remote control means that all four multi-touch glass helm systems have an optional keypad. As noted in my recent shakedown cruising entry, I think these remotes can be quite valuable. Furuno’s version seems compact and simple — 2.3- by 4.5-inches with USB interface and power — yet quite fully functioned. There’s good overview document available on the product page, but better yet is this Eric Kunz demo video.

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

59º North Podcast: Trans-Atlantic with Clint Wells

Tue, 2014-07-29 05:25

Andy sits down in person with one of his best friends in Oslo, Norway to reminisce about sailing across the North Atlantic. Clint, a non-sailor, joined Andy & Mia in Halifax for the cruise up the Canadian Maritimes and across the pond to Ireland, a 23-day passage, and the first time Clint was at sea. In between jokes and fun memories, Clint comes up with some great pearls of wisdom for anybody looking to cross an ocean, but might not know what to expect. He’s honest, funny and sincere about how the experience changed his life for the better.

Life raft: more than two four letter words

Sat, 2014-07-26 07:48

Examining raft contents. Photo (c) Michelle Elvy

How do you choose a life raft? We looked for the best raft available. That wasn’t enough.

As dewy-eyed gonna-be cruisers, we focused on choosing a superior product for that moment of (heaven forbid) dire need. We looked at independent research reports, read books and blogs about the life raft experiences of other cruisers, and met with all major brand reps at boat shows. After much deliberation, we settled on a six-man Winslow life raft as the crucial piece of safety gear that we hope to never use.

Our initial certification on the new raft was good for three years, a longer term than typical thanks to the durable vacuum packing by the manufacturer. Fast forward a few years, and we’ve arrived in Australia with a soon-to-expire certification. It didn’t trouble us initially, because we planned to park in Oz for a while while working to refuel the cruising kitty. The service could be done shortly before we planned our next ocean voyaging when it was time to depart; Winslow’s website listed a center near us where the raft could be serviced and re-certified. Except that as departure time approached, we tried contacting the nominated service center. The number was disconnected, and eventually, it became apparent that our options for certification in Australia were …zero. Winslow’s website offered a “404″ (page nto found) error on their list of service centers. It was not encouraging.

In port, the life raft stows under a custom bench

In Malaysia now with our eyes on next year’s Indian Ocean passages, servicing has been back up on the priority list of projects. There are multiple life raft service providers along the Malay peninsula, from Singapore to  Using a “Winslow Certified” provider suddenly felt less important, since there were several to choose from. We wanted to observe, we wanted to see the facility, we could talk to other cruisers about their experiences. Those experiences told us a lot! One cruiser friend cracked open their raft to find out that the registered agent who had serviced it in New Zealand had repaired seams with duct tape. Another boat, Crystal Blues, used a facility in Thailand and started noticing trouble when the re-certified raft wouldn’t fit back in the cradle… and then saw that simple cloth tape was used to hold the case together- they spent more than $1400 and discovered later that personal items supposed to be packed inside “went missing” at the Bangkok facility. Another friend used the Winslow certified agent in Singapore for their (non-Winslow) raft, and ended up with a surprise bill at three times the original quote (from line items like: inflated raft floor)-  at that point, it’s nearly enough to justify buying a new raft instead of servicing an older one.

We were preoccupied with other projects when a new arrival to the marina, Bernie and Michelle and family on Momo, ferreted out a local agent with liferaft servicing- it turns out, they also needed re-certification and have exactly the same raft. We didn’t have a lot to go on besides the obvious volume of business in their shop and the marina’s referral, but they were willing to let us participate in the process. Honestly? I wanted to see that raft blown up!

So we did.

It wasn’t a perfect process. The cost jumped from the original estimate (although the final price arrived at a reasonable level, once it was clear what we did, and didn’t, want). We were assured the raft would fit back into our case, were assured throughout that it would- no problem!- and then told mid-process that it wouldn’t fit. With our built-to-spec storage spot, yes, that was a problem! Ultimately it did meet our  needs: proper work, right price, and back in the case. Not to mention, we had the very satisfying experience of seeing what it would really be like to get into that raft… and how much we wanted to avoid that ever being necessary.

The moral, for us? When we purchased our life raft, we focused myopically on “the right raft”. We have a new appreciation for the availability of trusted service providers to re-certify the raft. If we’d just done a short sabbatical cruise or a few years, it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but… well, we’re not. Servicing is generally an annual affair, and when you tackle Slow Living Afloat and purchase from a raft manufacturer with exactly FIVE outlets outside the USA for servicing, you’re probably going to be stuck at some point.

Well certified people know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Shaken and Stirred?

Fri, 2014-07-25 11:54

Posted July 25 by KL

The announcement that the America’s Cup Challenger of Record, Australia’s Hamilton Island Yacht Club, will withdraw from further participation shook things up and unloosed an avalanche of negative press.

That stirred up a counter-push that is now under way, and it is being led by other challenging teams.

The joint statement reproduced below affirms a commitment to race, and if I read it correctly, holds open the likelihood of some serious horse trading yet to come, behind closed doors, shades drawn. But where in the “joint statement” is Team New Zealand?


Following the announcement of Team Australia – representative of the Hamilton Island Yacht Club, Challenger of Record of the 35th America’s Cup – of its intention to withdraw from the competition, the teams Luna Rossa Challenge, Artemis Racing, Ben Ainslie Racing and Team France – jointly with the yacht clubs they represent – confirm their full support to the event, regardless from the host venue that will be selected.

The four teams, who have so far made clear their involvement, also reiterate their commitment to co-operate in a constructive way with the Defender to the sporting and commercial success of the 35th America’s Cup, with the aim of bringing this event to the peak of the world’s professional sport in terms of media, show, public and the intense sporting competition which has always characterised the America’s Cup.

The teams look forward to establish a constant dialogue with the Defender Oracle Team USA with the intent to fully preserve the principle of “friendly competition between foreign countries“ – one of the core elements of the Deed of Gift that rules the America’s Cup – and to co-operate actively with the Defender to adapt the rules where need be and outline the America’s Cup World Series calendar, as well as the format of the Challengers’ Selection Series and of the America’s Cup finals.

Max Sirena, skipper of Luna Rossa Challenge, declared: “All the elements for the success of the event are there: after the 34th America’s Cup it is no longer questionable how spectacular the full foiling wing-sail catamarans are! Neither is questionable the excitement, intense competition and high-adrenaline this racing offers! ”

Ben Ainslie, Team Principal of BAR, commented: “We are really focussed to help build a successful and sustainable America’s Cup for the future. The America’s Cup is about pushing the technical boundaries of the sport through continued innovation. The AC62 will again be incredibly exciting to watch, both on and off the water, all the ingredients you need for a great sporting event.”

Iain Percy, Team Manager of Artemis Racing, stated: “The next America’s Cup is likely to be the most competitive, exciting and sustainable ever. We cannot wait to compete.”

Franck Cammas, skipper of Team France, declared: “We believe that the format of the next America’s Cup will bring a friendly but fierce competition between the best sailors on the most spectacular machines the America’s Cup has ever seen. The 35th America’s Cup will confirm a new era for sailing, but also for the sport in general and the related technologies, with the most intense competition possible and Team France will be proud to be part of it !”

Cagliari, Portsmouth, Alameda, Paris, 25th of July 2014.

‘Sailing Down the Years’ in Sweden, Podcast

Fri, 2014-07-25 00:10

Essay Friday – I read today the first chapter of a book I just found yesterday in downtown Stockholm on the history of the Royal Swedish Yacht Club (KSSS) and the sailing culture here in Sweden and how it’s evolved over the past 200 years. It’s something I’m interested in myself, and it has a lot of good quotes about sailing in general to take away from it. These Friday essays will be a mix of my own thoughts and opinions, and excerpts like this when I find interesting stuff I’d like to share. Enjoy!

Gizmo’s awning AC and Muvman sit-stand stool

Thu, 2014-07-24 13:22

Written by Ben Ellison on Jul 24, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Today it’s wet and gray here on a mooring float in Northeast Harbor, but we’re enjoying a distinctly non-electronic improvement to Gizmo’s gear list. It’s a new awning that stretches from the cabin brow to the bow pulpit, letting us keep the hatches open despite the rain bursts. Yesterday, when it was sunny and fairly hot, the awning shaded the forward cabin top and the main cabin’s large forward windows. If it gets really hot, I’m pretty sure that the combination of the awning plus the see-through “Florida curtains” over the other big windows and maybe a small fan will make the boat as comfortable as the air conditioning unit. Actually, more so at anchor or moored, since we won’t have to run the generator (that’s no longer aboard anyway)…

Sailors, especially those who’ve spent time in the tropics, know all about the value of awnings, but for some reason you rarely see anything like this on a powerboat. I’m proud to have designed it with lots of help from Will Dennett of Aurora Sails & Canvas, who then proceeded to build it super strong and with a perfect fit out of light gray Sunbrella. I can put it up or take it down in about 10 minutes, and I’m confident that it will handle quite severe weather.

Now for some side notes called for by a full photo of Gizmo 2014: The Pettit Hydrocoat Eco bottom paint and Ocean Armor topsides polish are still looking good after two months. The former has collected just a shadow of the waterline slime that proliferates in Camden Harbor and the latter is still gleaming except for that surprising yellowing near the bow, which I’ll monitor and hit with Davis FSR at some point. Yesterday’s project was installing the trailboards with their new Aqua Signal Series 33 LED nav lights. Unfortunately, installing them made me like them less than when I wrote about them (see comment on that entry). Finally, the antenna mast is nowhere near finished. Soon I’ll be installing a custom aluminum cap plate along with an Edson Vision Series mount for the FLIR M-Series nav camera, and there will also be a Garmin 24xHD radome, new cellular antennas, and more to test. And I’ll be reviewing the powerful WiFi Ranger Marine2 that’s up at the spreaders now.

Back to the awning: A benefit I hadn’t anticipated are the dry, clear forward windows I can see well out of even in the rain. I took this photo at my 5’10″ standing eye height; sitting at my desk or at the lower helm I can see the horizon in all directions and might even drive the boat a modest distance with the awning up…

which is a heck of a good segue to discussing Gizmo’s fabulous new Muvman sit-stand stool. I’ve been struggling with a possibly arthritic left hip over the last year or so, which led me to investigate a sit-stand desk for my home office. I bought an ErgoDepot AD125 and while I was at it, thought I’d try their Muvman (with a 45 no-hassle return policy). Well, now I’m a sit-stand desk zealot! Even if lots of sitting isn’t causing any obvious pain (yet), I believe that standing is a natural way to work at a desk for at least part of the day.

I also kept the Muvman despite the $600 price tag. It was great to use part of a desk day, between standing and my Aeron chair, but also seemed perfect for the boat. And so it is. The 20- to 33-inch seat height adjustment means it works at both desk and helm, its springiness means I’m getting a little exercise with my feet spread and firmly planted — it is just right on an underway rolling boat. It’s also quite compact and has a built-in handle. I suspect that Muvman has a boat market the German manufacturer Swopper may not know about.

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J/133 BLACKJACK Wins Cowes-Dinard-St Malo Race

Thu, 2014-07-24 05:30

(Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- A favorite of the RORC offshore sailing community is the annual Cowes-Dinard-St Malo Race.  After starting off the famous Royal Yacht Squadron starting line, the fleet heads off around a 150nm triangle that ends up in St Malo, France- a wonderful seaside town on the north coast of France steeped in history and a place that offers the weary sailors delicious seafood delicacies enhanced by the equally impressive wines from the local vineyards.

The big story for this year’s race were the fact that two J’s swept the top two spots both overall and in IRC 2 Class.  The overall winner of the race was Eric Gicquel’s J/133 BLACK JACK skippered by Nils Boyer. François Lognoné’s J/122 NUTMEG- SPARKLING CHARTER, also from St.Malo, was second.

Nils Boyer, BLACK JACK’s skipper, was born in St.Malo and, under the tutelage of Franck-Yves Escoffier, is one of the rising stars in French solo sailing. Nils Boyer’s goal is to participate in the Route Du Rhum and his dream is to win the transatlantic race that starts from his hometown of St.Malo. Nils Boyer will be racing across the Atlantic this November in L’eau de là, from St.Malo to Guadeloupe, West Indies.

“Winning the Cowes-Dinard-St.Malo is magical,” smiled Nils. “BLACK JACK is a young team all from the Sociéte Nautique de la Baie de St Malo and the champagne will be flowing with all our family and friends tonight. I have been part of teams that have won a class in the race on four occasions but this is the first time that I have won the trophy overall. L’eau de là is an association of young sailors, 16-20 years of age, and to win this prestigious trophy in our home town is fantastic”.

IRC Two was highly competitive with J/Teams taking five of the top seven spots. The top seven yachts finished the 150 mile race within half an hour after time correction. BLACK JACK was the winner with J/122 NUTMEG- SPARKLING CHARTER second and fourth was Ian Dewhirst’s J/133 JUMP.  Sixth was Nigel Passmore’s J/133 APOLLO 7 and eighth was Chris Radford’s J/122 RELENTLESS ON JELLYFISH.

IRC Three was the largest class with 22 yachts competing and there was less than an hour on corrected time between the winner and 14th place. J/teams enjoyed the conditions, taking 4 of the top 10 places.  Taking 6th in class was Nick Martin’s J/105 DIABLO-J (they also took 6th in IRC Double-handed class).  Eighth in class was Chris Palmer’s J/109 J-T’AIME, ninth was Fred Nadaud’s J/105 VERONIKA and tenth was Kevin Armstrong’s JAZZY JELLYFISH.

In IRC Four the top eight yachts were all from France, including Francois Boue’s J/109, FIROUZEH 4 taking the bronze and in eighth was Jean-Pierre Briand’s J/97 JJ L’AMOROSSO.  For more RORC Cowes-Dinard-St Malo Race sailing information

Tackling Leaks and Selling the Dream

Wed, 2014-07-23 23:08
Amy: Girls, they are going to be here in half an hour.  I need you to tidy up the cockpit. Indy: Who? Amy: Those people… Dave’s friends. Like we talked about at breakfast? It doesn’t matter. Just tidy up. Indy & Stylish: Okay, Mom. Papillon: Hee hee hee. Amy: Why are you laughing?  Let’s see, I need to cut up some baguette– Papillon: I have a surprise for you. Amy: What? No. No surprises. I have an unknown quantity of Kiwis arriving in thirty minutes.  I have to finish getting ready. [pause] Amy: What is that dripping noise? Papillon: Chortle! Amy: Girls! I need to take the companionway stairs off.  Don’t come down this… girls? [Looks outside. The girls are playing with friends on the dock.] Amy: Stylish and Indy! Get this cockpit tidied!  And don’t come down the… never mind. [Puts in boards to avoid a fall. Removes stairs. Removes floorboard. Locates drip with a flashlight.] Amy: Why is it dripping there? The water isn’t running.  The sump pump is off.  Everything is off. [Removes two more floorboards. Sticks head into bilge.] Amy: Okay, it is coming from somewhere forward on the port side. Hmm. I did laundry earlier; maybe the hose leaked. [Checks laundry locker. Dry as a bone.] Amy: Let’s try the galley. [Removes galley floorboard. A small river is running aft.] Amy. Aha.  By which I mean, unprintable. [Looks at the salon.  Removing the port side floorboard necessitates removing two other floorboards first and judicious use of a shim.] -creeeaaaak- Amy: [balancing the six-foot board]  There we go.  And let’s see what we UNPRINTABLE! [Runs aft. Empties out the locker under the navigation desk. Opens seacock. Changes bilge valves to forward bilge. Turns on bilge.] Amy: Those floorboards were almost floating! Papillon: Tee hee! I told you I had a fun surprise! Watch your toes – you’re right beside the bilge pump. Amy: So what is leaking? Papillon: Uh uh! That would be telling. [Glances at the clock.  Guests are due in five minutes.] Amy: Unprintabley unprintable. Papillon: Tsk, tsk. Your kids are going to pick up that language, you know. Amy: Quiet, you. [Bilge pump finishes. Turns off switch. Sticks head down forward bilge.] Amy: Well, wherever it is, it is a slow leak. Nothing is rushing in. I can leave this for an hour. Papillon: Can you? Amy: Yes, I unprintably well can! Papillon: Ha ha ha! We’ll see! You can’t ignore me for lo-ong! [Replaces companionway stairs.] Indy: Mom, some people are here.  Why are the floorboards up? [Enters the cockpit. Notices the girls have 'tidied' by shoving everything in a corner. Picks up the mess and throws it down the back hatch.] Amy: [Smoothing hair and emerging on deck] Hello! Welcome. Sorry about that. I’ve just been dealing with a small leak. [Guests look nervously at one another.  Amy notices how very clean they all look.] Amy: But don’t let that stop you! Ha ha! Please, come in. [Guests settle in the cockpit. Amy gets drinks and snacks, while keeping up witty banter.] Amy: …Oh, no. Leaks and mechanical issues happen all the time on a boat. It’s nothing to worry about. Amy: …Our worst injury? I suppose when Erik had to stitch up Indy’s eyebrow.  What happened was… Amy: …No, it’s quite safe. Well, yes, I did have a thief aboard a couple of months ago.  I woke up… Amy: …Sure I get seasick, but it only lasts for the first four days… Amy: …Actually,we’ve had lots of people stay aboard.  Of course, we usually have floor down. Ha ha ha! [Guests polish off their beers and escape. Amy pauses to contemplate that she has just convinced six nice people that cruising is only for the certifiably insane.] Papillon: Oh Aaaaa-myyyyyyyy! Amy: Yes? Papillon: You haven’t found my leak yet. Amy: Don’t worry, you’re next on my list. Papillon: I can make some more surprises if you like. You didn’t have any plans for tomorrow, did you? Amy: Only with you, baby. Only with you.

J/Fest Southwest Announcement

Wed, 2014-07-23 14:30

(Seabrook, TX)- The final Lakewood YC sponsored regatta of 2014 will again be one of the regatta highlights of the year: the 5th Annual J/Fest Southwest will be held on November 1-2 and promises to be the biggest and best yet! The previous editions of this unique event have each seen strong increases in participation, as the quality of the regatta has become better known in the region and beyond.

The City of Seabrook is again the title sponsor of the event. The city’s contribution allows us to put on a very special event with amenities and services for participants and spectators that set the event apart from other area regattas. J/Fest Southwest attracts a large number of boats that travel from other areas of the state and as far away as Colorado. We’re still working on getting the travel happy crews from the Northeast to come down and extend their racing season. What could be better than to take your boat to a great event instead of putting it on the hard for the winter?

We are again expecting a record attendance in 2014. The super popular J/70 has seen its local fleet grow substantially, with several LYC members getting into this great speedster. Last year we were very successful attracting a number of J/Boats that don’t currently have strong one-design fleets but came out to race in PHRF handicap classes. We’re hoping to again expand our reach in these classes. To all you racers and crew members: talk it up with the J/Boat owner friends! Every J/Boat is a race boat, even if it’s a ‘cruising J’! We also expect strong participation for the J/22, J/24, J/80, J/105 and J/109 classes as well as several J/120s.  We have a new J/122 SECOND STAR in our LYC family. New members J.D. and Susan Hill will be at the starting line as ‘scratch boat’ that everyone else will chase. It will be exciting for sure! We hope to give participants an event that will put it onto their ‘can’t miss’ list.

Further to Seabrook, a number of returning sponsors have committed to supporting this regatta: Hayes Rigging, UK Sails, North Sails, The Sundance Grill II, Rejex, Blackburn Marine, Harken to name a few. I know that the racers appreciate their support! You can help by thanking them when the opportunity arises. Use their services, and when you do, mention their support for this regatta!

As always, J/Fest Southwest is co-sponsored by Scott and Terry Spurlin of J/Boats Southwest. Scott was instrumental in developing the concept of this unique regatta and the Spurlins have every year invested countless hours in the promotion and preparation of the event, prominently including the event’s informative web site at Scott and Terry are also using their considerable network of J/Boat owners to spread the word about the regatta and bring in new crews from around the country.

This event is also designed to reach out to those who want to watch the regatta: Family members, friends and other sailing enthusiasts can board LYC member Paul Dunphey’s Liberty Belle, which is again serving as our spectator boat. Thank you Paul and Amy!! Another excellent way to follow the racing is to volunteer on the water: run or crew a mark-set boat or help out on the signal boat. Contact Kathy Goethe (281) 844-7010 if that’s interesting to you. Of course, it is still best to hop on a J/Boat and mix it up with the others! It’s friendly competition at its best!! See you there! I can’t wait!   For more J/Fest Southwest sailing information

J’s Perform In Bayview Mackinac Race

Wed, 2014-07-23 08:00

(Mackinac Island, MI) – This year’s Bell’s Beer 90th Bayview Mackinac Race began on July 12 in Southern Lake Huron, with 9-11 knots of breeze offering the 227 boats in 14 classes a swift downwind leg along the two courses offered, either to the Presque Isle Lighthouse (on the Michigan shoreline), where the Shore course begins taking a left, or the Cove Buoy where the Cove Island Course does the same (about 130 miles away from the start).

The shorter Shore course covers 204 nm along the Michigan shoreline before heading west to Mackinac Island Bell’s Beer finish line. The longer Cove Island Course is 259 nm and takes sailors around a buoy off the tip of the Bruce Peninsula in Canadian waters before heading west toward the finish line.

A westerly breeze of 9-11 knots allowed an initially mellow downwind spinnaker run to the first turning points in each of two courses. During the evening, however, “a lot of everything” happened when it came to weather and wind, including rain, dense fog and gusts up to 36 knots.  The front continued to move and produced a brisk westerly breeze that kept the fleet “on its nose” throughout Saturday evening and into Sunday. That meant the Cove Island course had the unfortunate task of playing windshifts for nearly 90nm upwind to Mackinac Island after rounding the Cove Buoy.

This year, the J/120 one-design fleet sailed the longer Cove Island Course with a big fleet of ten boats participating.  All the usual suspects from the Great Lakes J/120 fleet were sailing, including most past winners in class.  The big class winner was HOT TICKET (Mike & Bob Kirkman), beating the next set of boats by over one hour!  No question there was a duel all the way to the finish for the next two boats, both finishing within 45 seconds of each other!  Taking second was FUNTECH RACING (Charlie Hess) and at the short end of that stick was CARINTHIA (Frank Kern).  The balance of the top five was NIGHT MOVES (Henry Mistele) in fourth and FLYIN IRISH (Bill Bresser) in fifth.

In PHRF A on the Cove Island Course were also two J/111s, Tim Clayson’s UNPLUGGED took 5th and Don Hudak’s CAPERS took 7th.

The Short Course had the largest contingent of J’s sailing.  In the Level 35 Division, there are nine J/35s sailing in the fleet of eleven boats!  Taking the class honors was PAPA GAUCHO II (Keith Stauber) with the Bayer/ Bayer/ Barnes trio on FALCON only 1:50 sec behind them!  In fourth was MR BILL’S WILD RIDE sailed by Bill Wildner and fifth was MAJOR DETAIL (Bill Vogan).

Sailing into fourth overall in the 12 boat PHRF C Division was the classic navy-blue J/44 SAGITTA sailed by the team of Jon Somes and Larry Oswald from Bayview YC.

PHRF D division had an eclectic, diverse group of boats in their fleet of 16 entries.  The J/105s swept the class. The resounding winner by over 1.5 hours on elapsed time was the J/105 PTERODACTYL (Mary Symonds).  A country furlong behind was the J/105 SEND IN THE CLOWNS (Terry Timm) in second place.  Fourth was SNAKE OIL (Don Harthorn) and a J/92 took 7th- KOHATSU (John Stromberg).

Top J in the PHRF E division was the J/33 SHENANIGAN skippered by the team of Dick & Dan Synowiec from North Cape YC, placing a respectable third place.  Then in PHRF G, the J/30 CONUNDRUM skippered by Donald King from Lake Shore Sailing Club took 4th place.

On the Shore Course Cruising (white sails) division, Cruising A class saw the J/42 DOS MAS sailed by Gary Gonzalez from Grosse Pointe YC finish second!  Then, in the Division IV Shore Course Double-handed group the J/29 PATRIOT led by Lyndon Lattie took second place followed by the J/100 VANQUISH sailed by Don Fick in sixth.   For more Bayview Mackinac sailing information

Pacific Cup: Winning Isn’t Everything

Tue, 2014-07-22 14:45

Kaneohe Bay, HI, July 22, 2014 – Winning an ocean race feels great, but three boats – Mirage, Thirsty, and Free Bowl of Soup – are competing in the 2014 Pacific Cup race from San Francisco Bay to Hawaii with a goal more rewarding than just coming in ahead of the other competitors.

The father-daughter team Stan Perkins and Kerry Hallyburton have been competing in multiple sailing events since 2013 to publicize and raise funds for Remember Nhu, an international nonprofit dedicated to preventing the exploitation of children in the sex trade industry. More specifically, through their “Sail for Remember Nhu” campaign, Perkins and Hallyburton hope to raise $160,000 to build a new safe house for 60 children rescued from sex slavery. “When my husband, Rick, and I first heard about Remember Nhu, we heard how children as young as three years old were being sold into the sex trade,” Kerry told the Hood River News in an interview earlier this year. “We had a baby at the time and couldn’t imagine the thought of children just like ours being sold and the horrific things that would be done to them. We knew at that moment that we needed to partner with Remember Nhu.”

Racing in the Pacific Cup was the ultimate goal of the team’s two-year fundraising mission but is also a dream-come-true for father and daughter alike. Stan was introduced to sailing more than 30 years ago. Kerry learned to sail with her father on the windy Columbia River Gorge and has dreamed of doing an ocean race with him for many years.

Aboard Thirsty, a Beneteau First 30, the double-handed team of Charles Devanneaux and Fred Courouble are raising awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) while paying tribute to sailing partner and friend Gilles Galeme, who lost an eight-month battle with the disease in 2012. Charly and Fred, two Frenchmen who now call Marina del Rey home, won first place in their division in the 2012 Pacific Cup. However, “our boat partner Gilles was supposed to be waiting for our arrival in Hawaii with mai-tais, but he never made it because he had been diagnosed with ALS,”

Charly said. “We decided to return to the Pacific Cup race this year, with the ALS Association’s logo on the hull and sail, and name our voyage ‘Sailing for ALS’” to honor Gilles’ memory and all the good times we have had together.” Those good times included enjoying good wine together, so Charly and Fred made sure they had plenty of excellent wine aboard when they departed San Francisco for Kaneohe Bay. The ALS awareness and fundraising effort of the Thirsty team will support research, public policy initiatives and families touched by the disease.

As their boat name might suggest, the team racing on Free Bowl of Soup, a J105 hailing from Portland, Oregon, and skippered by Eric Hopper, is on a sailing quest to raise funds for Oregon Food Bank. It’s a quest the team began over a decade ago to redeem a bit of bad karma after joking that their boat name (a line from the classic 1980 film Caddyshack) was serious (it isn’t). They turned the joke into a fun way for friends and supporters to help raise funds for a good cause, setting a lofty goal to raise the equivalent of 50,000 free bowls of soup.

Thirsty and Free Bowl of Soup crossed the finish line on Kaneohe Bay, Oahu on Monday, July 21. Mirage should follow them within a day. A “Sailing for ALS Aloha Reception” is being held on Tuesday, July 22 at noon at the Kaneohe Yacht Club.

J’s Love CORK Week

Tue, 2014-07-22 14:30

J/109s Dominate IRC 3
(Cork, Ireland)- Thrilling conditions welcomed the international fleet of yachts from all over Europe and the United States to Volvo Cork Week. 100 yachts racing in Cork Harbour produced a magnificent spectacle. Cork Harbour is one of the largest natural harbours in the world and provides stunning scenery and tricky wind and tidal conditions. The gusty northeasterly breeze tested the boat handling skills of the international fleet, with several yachts reporting boatspeeds of up to 20 knots on the surf.

The first race of Volvo Cork Week started just outside Roches Point, the wind speed piped up to 17 knots with a short sea state. The beat into Cork Harbour had the fleet swapping tacks past Spike Island, before negotiating close tight reaching legs along the picturesque town of Cobh. For many it was a race of over three hours, before returning to the Royal Cork Yacht Club to enjoy the full facilities of the exclusive race village. Victory in IRC Three went to Pat Kelly’s J/109, Storm (Rush YC). It was a long day on the water in IRC Five, but Dave Lane & Sinead Enright’s J/24, YaGottaWanna took second.

The second day saw more fresh wind conditions for the fleet.  Fleet B, consisting of IRC 3, IRC 4, and IRC 5 Classes enjoyed three races on the Windward-Leeward Course, three miles south east of Roches Point. Warm sunshine and stable conditions prevailed, with blue skies and fresh breeze coming off the land to provide a classic racetrack. “Champagne sailing,” described one sailor. “12 knots of breeze, a great course and really competitive racing. I just love Cork Week and today was a very special day to be out on the water.”  In IRC Three, Pat Kelly’s J/109, Storm (Rush YC) was in impressive form scoring a win and a second in today’s races to open up an 8.5 point lead at the top of the class.

Unsettled weather provided changeable conditions for the third day of racing at Volvo Cork Week. The day started with bright sunshine and balmy conditions causing a short postponement for many classes and light rain (honestly!) and a stiffer breeze was encountered during the day. With many classes now completing six races, the discard has kicked in and front-runners have become more apparent. What is plainly obvious from the results is races and places are being contested by mere seconds.

Fleet B, consisting of IRC 3, IRC 4, and IRC 5 Classes enjoyed three races on the Olympic Course, near Roches Point with over 40 yachts racing on a tight triangular course.  In IRC Three, Pat Kelly’s J/109, Storm (Rush YC) still leads the class after an intense battle.  Last year’s class champion, Ian Nagle & Paul O’Malley’s J/109, Jelly Baby (Royal Cork YC) was the winner of Race 6 by just 23 seconds from Storm. However, the Kelly family racing Storm, finished the day on top by winning the last race of the day.

“The Olympic Course is a real test, especially the gybe mark, where yachts are converging for a maneuver all at the same time. Just a few seconds can make the difference between first and fifth.” Explained Joss Walsh, trimmer on the J/109 Storm. “The overall game plan was to keep with the yachts around us and try and compete with them for speed and avoid errors, which would be very costly. Pat Kelly has four sons on board, Storm is a real family boat but we are quite a heavy crew, which has made racing difficult in light conditions. We are all here to enjoy very competitive racing and a few pints at the club afterwards. We are here to win but having fun is just as important.”

Storm leads IRC Three by 10.5 points points from Paul O’Higgins Corby 33, Rockabill V, (Royal Irish YC). Jelly Baby is just half a point behind Rockabill V in third.  In IRC Four, Ronan Fenton’s J/35, Sky Hunter (Blackwater SC) finished the day in style, taking their first win of the regatta in Race 7.

The fourth day started out ashore under harbor postponement. Marvin Gaye’s song “Let’s get it on” and The Stranglers “Something better change” rang out over the air waves as the Volvo Cork Week fleet waited for the breeze to set in for the final day of racing. However, the wind was sufficient to allow for a full racing programme to decide the winners for the regatta.

In IRC Three, Pat Kelly’s J/109, Storm (Rush YC) had a shaky start to racing on the final day, placing 12th but a 2nd place in the last race secured the all Irish team the class win. Ian Nagle’s J/109, Jelly Baby (Royal Cork YC) was third. Liam Shanahan’s J/109 RUTH took 7th and another 109 took 9th- Chris Moore’s POWDER MONKEY.  The J/88 JONGLEUR sailed by Andrew Creighton and James Davis claimed the 10th spot, making for 5 J/teams in the top 10!

In IRC Four, the J/35c SKY HUNTER sailed by Ronan Fenton took 6th place and fellow J sailor Patrick Beckett placed 7th on his J/92 JOSTLER.

In IRC Five, the J/24 YAGOTTAWANNA skippered by the duo of Dave Lane and Sinead Enright sailed a great last half of the series with all scores posted in the top five to claim 4th overall!

Volvo Cork Week Racing Chairman, Anthony O’Leary was quick to praise both the race management team and the staff of the Royal Cork Yacht Club. “To conduct such magnificent races in difficult conditions was highly commendable, congratulations should go to the Race Officers, Jack Roy, Robert Lamb and Peter Crowley and all of the management team out on the water. The Royal Cork Yacht Club has welcomed competitors to the club with open arms and Gavin Deane, all of the staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to make sure the competitors have had a memorable time. That result is ably assisted by good race management, sailors coming off the water happy are much easier to please at the bar!”

The Volvo Cork Week Prize Giving was well attended, the music and the drinks were flowing long into the night. “Souldriven” playing live at the Volvo Cork Week Marquee followed by DJ – Bar with a bar extension until 2.00am! The legendary Craic of Cork Week went on long into the night.  Thanks for the contribution from Louay Habit/ RORC.   Sailing photo credits- Tim Wright/  For more CORK Week sailing information

The America’s Cup, Explained

Tue, 2014-07-22 14:09

By Kimball Livingston Posted July 22, 2014

There’s a movie I’ve seen too many times.

Scripts vary, but in movie-talk, the “arc of the story” is the same.

First, there is an America’s Cup match that is riveting, thrilling, inspiring and enthralling to a huge audience. It can’t get any better than this, you think. The sequel will be just as good, meaning great.

Then everything goes to hell.

In 2013 we went from (former San Francisco Supervisor) Aaron Peskin’s assertion that, “There is no record of a crowd showing up for a sailboat race” to race seventeen on September 25, when so much of San Francisco tried to pour out onto Pier 17 to watch the finish that the fire marshall closed the gates.

America’s Cup 34 is still the first thing that “civilians” in San Francisco want to talk about when they find out that I sail a bit. And the sequel?


Twenty-seven years ago, America’s Cup racing shot the moon as Dennis Conner retrieved the Cup from Australia in an all-timer of a drama. There were big winds and waves and flying spray and—get this—characters that the audience cared about. Conner came home to a ticker tape parade down Fifth Avenue, a reception at the White House, a spot on the Tonight show and his face on the cover of Time (eclipsing Gorbachev and the biggest political upheaval since WWII). Even though the TV broadcast from Fremantle was primitive, and even though they lost 0-4, Australia’s team leaders Iain Murray and Peter Gilmour emerged from the 1987 match recognizable and marketable.

Then everything went to hell.

The repair process was nearly complete twenty years later as a scrappy Team New Zealand shocked Alinghi in the waters off Valencia, Spain, won two races and could have won more. The U.S. audience did not run more than sailor-deep, but Europe stood at attention and all of New Zealand was quivering. More than one of 2007′s record 11 challengers was dogmeat, but there was a future that seemed to rise up, bright and beckoning.

Then everything went to hell.

That mess had no hope of repair until some point around the middle of the 2013 match, when the match went from glum and desultory to “the greatest ever.”

All we had to do was do it again and . . .

Iain Murray in SF, 2013. Photo by Chuck Lantz

And there we were. And here we are. Where is “here” is a question to be partially answered on August 8, the entry deadline for challengers for AC35, 2017. One hard fact, however, is that Iain Murray has left the building, and Murray (yep, same Iain Murray; he’s been around a while) is on the short list for the most trusted man in sailing. As CEO of America’s Cup Race Management, AC34, he kept things from falling apart during one stress fest after another. Everyone knew who you meant when you mentioned “the big guy.” His authority drew upon a quiet manner, perceptive decision making, and acknowledged integrity. If Iain Murray, having taken on the job of leading an Australian challenge into the role of Challenger of Record, has now folded the tent and declared, as he has, that the timeline is wrong and the structure is wrong, that is a huge no-confidence blow. It goes direct to the Oracle Racing/Russell Coutts agenda for reinventing America’s Cup competition on a professionalized, normalized platform. Britain’s Ben Ainslie has expressed his willingness to stay the course, but what will be that course? Amidst all the declarations laid out thus far, I can see the smoke, reflected in . . . something.

Far be it from me to say that the Cup cannot rise above this.

Far be it from me to predict anything short of a brilliant match in 2017.

Boom and bust is us.


Despite some initial hand-wringing fears (or lip-smacking hopes) that the withdrawal of Murray’s Hamilton Island Yacht Club would obviate the unpopular protocol it had agreed to, the lawyers did their part right in the crafting. What HIYC has actually done is give 90 days notice, as the Protocol requires, that it is withdrawing. The Challenger of Record therefore continues in that role through the entry deadline of August 8. There is a fundamental stability built in, but with certain questions newly pressing. Who will be the new Challenger of Record? Oracle Racing (Golden Gate Yacht Club) knows who has actually crossed the T’s and dotted the I’s and anted up to formally challenge for AC35. Who was next in line after Hamilton Island? Are they scrambling (probably not) to secure the next Challenger of Record? I can double-dog guarantee you they wish it could be a British challenge under the banner of Ben Ainslie Racing. The celebrated Olympian, Sir Ben, was part of the Oracle defense team in 2013 and shares the Russell-Vision of a commercialized Cup. He wants to play ball. But even with royal patronage, the loosey-goosey state of affairs has hamstrung his efforts to finalize a team.

Richard Gladwell at speculates that Italy’s Luna Rossa is next in line for CoR. If so, Coutts is in for tough sledding. Luna Rossa boss Patrizio Bertelli was confrontational in his dealings in 2013 and, despite his base in the fashion industry, won’t be changing his spots. The only worse news for Coutts would be Team New Zealand in that role. I don’t think that’s happening, but it would be fodder-rich for the likes of me. Artemis is the other theoretically-possible CoR, and the Swedish-backed team would be a much cozier player than Luna Rossa. Having taken on that role the last time around, when the original CoR, Mascalzone Latino, folded, would the Artemis folks want it again?

And if we are down to a tiny handful of challengers, the whole agenda of an expensive AC45 tour to seed those challengers for semifinal and final eliminations in AC62s in separate venues hauls us straight into a theater of the absurd.

So, ten months after an America’s Cup is the time for renegotiating a Protocol? Just may be.

Ten months after an America’s Cup is the time for discovering that none of the challengers want to race in Bermuda or San Diego? (They of course want to come back to San Francisco.)

Sigh. I have no idea how many times I’ve been asked to explain the America’s Cup over cocktails or dinner.

And failed.

Here I am again.

I should have stopped where I started, and left it at this.

Simrad RS35 VHF & HS35 wireless handset, testing pretty well

Tue, 2014-07-22 11:10

Written by Ben Ellison on Jul 22, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

It’s taken a while but I am becoming quite fond of the Simrad RS35 VHF radio and HS35 wireless handset accessory. Panbo first covered the RS35′s nice combination of full Class D VHF DSC capabilities, NMEA 2000 interface and built-in AIS receiver in late 2012. But when I received a test unit last summer, it was quickly apparent that the radio had trouble interfacing with many N2K GPS sources (as you can read about in the comments to that 2012 entry). I was slow to return the radio for the software fix, but now it’s installed at Gizmo’s lower helm and has no problem with the three GPS sources shown above and a lot more I threw at it. I’ve also seen it output AIS info over NMEA 2000 to every MFD currently on Gizmo (though there is a glitch if you also have a transponder, explained below). And while some interesting radios have come to market in the last year, the RS35 at about $300 to $350 seems the VHF/AIS/N2K value leader (except for its sibling Lowrance Link-8 if you don’t care about the wireless handset option)…

At first I was disappointed that the RS35 does not have the channel tagging feature I’ve enjoyed on Icom, Standard Horizon and Garmin radios. I like to eavesdrop on VHF, especially when alone on the boat, and tagging is the ultimate way to scan all the channels you want and none of the ones you don’t. However, I’m pretty happy with the Simrad’s 3 CH ALL SCAN mode, which actually flips through 3 favorites and channel 16. TRIWATCH gets you one favorite plus 16 and 9 (if you’ve set up Watch Mode that way), and there’s also an ALL SCAN mode that checks 16 every 2 seconds and has a handy SKIP feature to temporarily eliminate open channels. The speaker sound is good and the RS35 seems as good at bringing in distant stations as any recreational VHF I’ve tried.

Now about that screen. The RS35 manual warns that screen viewing is optimal only within 20 degrees up or down, left or right. I find it better than that if you push backlighting and contrast to their maximum values. But photographing the display well is hard, as illustrated above, and you may need your reading glasses for some screens like AIS. It is big, though, and I’m enjoying how much nav info it’s showing, including bearing and distance to Gizmo’s float since I input the waypoint.

The AIS screen is informative and you can quickly select targets and get even more info on them with the main rotary/click knob (great to have volume and squelch knobs, too). You can also zoom in and out of the graphic target plot with the 3CH and SCAN keys. Note, though, that you can not scan while viewing the AIS screen, and that the RS35 cannot place direct DSC calls to AIS targets. That feature is planned for a future software update, though, and the update will be possible over NMEA 2000 from a Simrad MFD. Also slated for that update is the ability to ignore your own vessel if you are running an AIS transponder. As shown, the test RS35 constantly sees Gizmo as a very nearby target and would be sounding loud CPA/TCPA alarms if I hadn’t turned them off completely. The same issue was true of Garmin, Furuno, and Raymarine MFDs, where I was always closely followed by my own AIS target, but is not a problem on a Simrad or Lowrance MFD because they’ve long had the ability to accept and filter out an “own vessel” MMSI. You can also simply turn off the RS35′s AIS receiver, keeping it in reserve until your transponder fails or the update comes out.

I tried every type of direct DSC calling possible between the RS35 and the ever wonderful Standard Horizon HX851 handheld (850 reviewed here), but they both have the same MMSI number, which may have affected the results. Individual calls worked fine both ways, as did position requests. But the RS35 would not accept a Position Send from the HX, and would not enable “Buddy Tracking” with it. The Simrad manual doesn’t say that Buddy Tracking only works with other Simrad radios, but then again, it doesn’t say much about the feature. Anyone know? Sorry for another poor photograph but it does suggest the nice key backlighting on this radio.

When I requested a position from the HX851, the Simrad radio placed a waypoint for it on the Simrad NSS7 evo2 that’s on the same NMEA 2000 network, and I’m confident that it would do something similar if I received a DSC distress call. However, I don’t know why “Grounding” was placed in the waypoint notes. I hope to do further experimentation, particularly to see if DSC positions are sent to other MFDs and am hoping other users will chime in.

In my view, one of the main reasons to consider a Simrad RS35 — or maybe the newer blackbox RS90 premium model — is the chance to use the HS35 wireless mic. My habit now is to turn on the base station with volume down and work around the boat with HS35 clipped to my pocket or sitting nearby. It, too, has good sound as well as a complete set of fast-acting keys, and I’ve yet to experience any wireless issues anywhere on this 37 foot boat (which has lots of other wireless activity). I was a little skeptical about the inductive charging, especially as I can feel the heat generated, but a meter check indicated low amperage drain and the fact that the charger seems to shut down completely when done. The AIS screen below definitely calls out for my reading glasses, but then again, you can put a wireless mic like this right up to your eyes or ear and mouth. We’re day one on a week-long cruise during I which I plan to use this radio and mic a lot, so I may be adding more observations in the comment section.

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

DAZZLING Bacardi Sail Newport Regatta

Tue, 2014-07-22 08:00

Terhune Tops 70s, Mollicone Dominates 24s
(Newport, RI) – Sailors from 21 U.S. States and eight countries gathered in Newport for Sail Newport’s annual Newport Regatta on July 11-13, featuring Bacardi Newport Race Week with long-term sponsors Heineken and new sponsor Helly Hansen.  The mammoth event on four circles of racing on Narragansett Bay, in its 31st year, required over 100 volunteers and partnerships with New York Yacht Club, Ida Lewis Yacht Club, Newport Yacht Club and Barrington Yacht Club.

The fleet was blessed with three straight days of absolutely gorgeous weather.  Friday started out slowly for some fleets with light northerlies dying out and the classic Newport seabreeze built into the 6-10 kts range.  Saturday and Sunday were nearly perfect sailing conditions for both the offshore fleets in Rhode Island Sound and fleets inside Narragansett Bay; winds were SSW both days with Saturday seeing 6-12 kt breezes and Sunday was blessed with even more sun and fun with breezes building from 10-15 kts and ending in the 18-25 kts range for the last race.

The event featured two large, competitive fleets of J/24s and J/70s.  The 33-boat J/70 fleet was by far the largest in the regatta and the competition was perhaps the deepest overall as well.

The 70 fleet saw competitors having remarkable roller-coaster experiences each day; such as Dave Franzel’s SPRING, Brian Keane’s SAVASANA and Jud Smith’s AFRICA all in the top five but dropping down the ladder quite far due to their finishes on the heavy air day on Sunday.  Conversely, Allan Terhune’s DAZZLER raced up the ladder on the last day to take the overall win.  In fact, after the first day, DAZZLER sailing with rock star Moose McClintock on board as tactician weren’t even in the top ten with their 5-3-23 record.  But, their blistering “big breeze” performance Sunday with a 1-3-4 record enabled them to win class with just 16 pts net (after toss race).  Sailing the most consistently all weekend was Martie Kullman’s TOUCH2PLAY, scoring 3-7-9-8-1-5 to easily take second with 24 pts net.  Third was Will Welles sailing RASCAL, posting an 8-1-6-13-6-9 for 30 pts net.  Rounding out the top five were BLACK RIVER RACING sailed by Doug Strebel & Jay Lutz with 31 pts net and in fifth was Tim Molony’s JOUST with 33 pts net.

The world of J/24s was subjected to a “clinic” by the current World Champions in the form of Tim Healy & John Mollicone joining forces on Team HELLY HANSEN. Taking three 1sts in six races sealed the deal for their team with a total of 8 pts.  Up and coming J/24 hotshot, Mike Marshall, sailed PIPE DREAM into second by winning the first and last races and keeping Team HELLY HANSEN honest by keeping the racing close- accumulating just 10 pts.  This was Mike Ingham with a total of 14 pts with three 2nds in their scoreline for 14 pts.  After these “three musketeers” dominated the top three finishes nearly every race, the 4th to 7th place boats were only spread apart by 6 pts.  Taking fourth was the Japanese entry, SOKOKUMARU skippered by Sumio Shimoyama, with 24 pts and fifth was Kevin Coughlin finishing with 25 pts.   Sailing photo credits- Cate Brown Photography   For more Bacardi Sail Newport Regatta sailing information

Matt Rutherford, Landfall in Japan (Podcast)

Tue, 2014-07-22 00:10

Regular guest & sailing legend Matt Rutherford is back on the podcast to discuss his recent landfall in Japan, climbing Mt. Fuji, making his own saki, what it’s like to complete a 7,000-mile nonstop ocean crossing in a 30-foot daysailor, and why he’s so determined to do what he says he’s going to do! Matt & Nicole Trenholm were in Japan when they recorded this, their last day there before returning to the USA, and Andy Skyped them from Sweden, so another international interview. Check out Matt & Nicole’s latest expedition on

RORC Ladies Victorious

Mon, 2014-07-21 14:00

J/80 2+2 Team Racing at Royal Yacht Squadron
(Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- Congratulations to the RORC Ladies Team that finished in First Place at the Royal Yacht Squadron Inter-Club Sailing Regatta in Cowes on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th July 2014.

Here’s the report from the RORC Helm/Team Captain and RORC Member Laetitia Mason:

“The Royal Yacht Squadron invited various yacht clubs from around London and the South Coast to participate in the first event of its kind- all women, 2 boat team racing. Upon invitation, I jumped at the chance to pull together a team of girls with (and some without) team racing experience for what seemed to be a fun event. The RYS is opening its doors to women members and alongside that, all women events as well.

We turned up on Saturday for the brief (after a rather raucous brief of our own at the Pier View the previous evening) and received a warm welcome from the race committee, Jonathan Peel and our fellow competitors. . The race officers explained the schedule for the day and off we went down to the pontoon to find our J/80s with brand new jibs, kindly supplied by the RYS and the RTYC.

The wind looked very light on the first morning and appeared to be quite shifty as we sailed (and got towed) out to the start. We sailed a practice race, which set the scene of things to come! Upon the completion of 6 more races and 4 wins for team RORC, we felt very satisfied with our first days racing results. The race officers and umpires did a brilliant job setting a box course in Osborne bay that provided very interesting team racing with the tide and eddies constantly challenging us.

Upon our return to the RYS, we were supplied with a much needed cup of tea and a slice of cake; all very civilized and sat down with our fellow competitors to chat about the day and plan our social event in the evening together.

Christopher Sharples, the Commodore, invited us to a fantastic 3-course meal at the Squadron, to which we attended in our frocks and heels. It was brilliant to get to know the ladies and gentleman of the RYS discussing many elements of yachting life including the evolution of both our clubs, which we are all embracing.

Sunday’s sailing conditions were expected to be about 12-15 knots with light drizzle; but it turned out sunny and around 10 knots; perfect conditions for more idealistic team racing in the Solent. There was a little more consideration today as we had swapped boats and were racing for double points so by no means was this a done deal! Team racing proved to be very successful again for team RORC as we nailed down another 4 wins to put us safely into the lead of the regatta.

I would like to thank the RYS for generously hosting this event, making us feel very welcome and putting on some truly enjoyable sailing. Thank you to Commodore Christopher Sharples who was on the race committee on Sunday alongside the Richard Acland and Mrs Boyd. Thank you to Chris Mason who ensured the J/80s were in peak condition and for umpiring alongside Graham Bailey. Thank you also to Ally Acland for making us feel so welcome and relaxed at the RYS.

My team and I had a fantastic weekend and we would love to participate again in this event next year. I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to my brilliant team for racing with me and showing skill and commitment to the team.”

The winning RORC team was comprised of Laetitia Mason, Marianthe Evangelidis- tactician/mainsheet, Carol O’Kelly, Sachi Sault and Ellie Aarons on jib trim.  The other RORC boat was comprised of skipper Josie Glidden, Mugs Gohl on mainsheet, and Lizzie Chellew and Stephanie Hensley on jib trim.  For more RORC Ladies sailing information


Sat, 2014-07-19 16:36

I’ve been hustling a bit to get ready for this jaunt to Nova Scotia, which starts Monday. As noted earlier, I’ve been fretting about the charts. Thanks to Landfall Navigation, I now have all my paper charts in hand, plus tide tables and a 2014 Nautical Alamanac, just in case the world as we know it comes to an end and I have to exercise my sextant. But the really hard part, it turned out, was getting electronic charts for my 7-year-old Raymarine A65 chartplotter.

Landfall’s website, you’ll recall, purported to have a relevant chart card that was compatible with my machine, and I tried to buy that, but afterwards they confessed via e-mail that their website lied to me and the card really was not compatible. What you need to buy, I was told, is a blank Navionics Plus CF card, and then load it with the charts you want at the Navionics website. So I bought that instead, and they delivered it to me very promptly. And I went out and bought a card reader at Radio Shack, so I could plug the CF card into my desktop computer to download my charts… AND the very first thing that happened when I tried to do that was a prompt telling me these charts would not be compatible with my plotter.

So now I was ready to put a cap in my head. Fortunately, I do not actually own a handgun, and my finger tips do not emit bullets, so I called Navionics instead. Even more fortunately, I got a smart guy on the phone.

“Actually, your plotter might be able to read those charts,” he told me.

And he talked me through the download, advising me to load as little data as possible, so as to increase the chances of my plotter being able to cope with it. I took the card to my boat to slot it into the plotter… and LO! It displays the charts (see photo up top), but any function that involves moving around the chart–zooming in and out, scrolling hither and yon–is incredibly clunky and slow.

It’s better than nothing, but I am still gnashing my teeth over the fact that a device I paid well over $1,000 for, and the suite of chart cards I bought for several hundred dollars to plug into it, is now all on the verge of becoming useless crap, not because there is anything wrong with it, but simply because the manufacturers who sold it me are no longer interested in those products. In fact, I learned, the last charts that were truly compatible with my plotter were released in 2009, just two years after I bought the plotter.

In the world of modern electronics, marine and otherwise, this is not at all unusual, but it is still EVIL. And wasteful. And irresponsible.

In this modern miracle age I assume it would be a relatively simple matter for electronic chart manufacturers to allow consumers to download old versions of charts that are fully compatible with antique machines that are more than a few years old. Indeed, I would pay A SIGNIFICANT PREMIUM to be able to do that, and I suspect many others would too.

Hint, hint.

Meanwhile, last weekend I made a more concerted effort to get the hang of navigating on my iPad while noodling around Casco Bay on my own. In the photo there you can see Lunacy beating out of the north end of the bay, past Little Whaleboat Island, in a relatively light breeze.

I have to admit I am now a little more comfortable with the concept of iPad navigation, but I will never trust it completely. My iPad is constantly refusing to do things I want it to do, and misbehaving generally, so it is hard to consider it a serious piece of navigation equipment.

To give you an idea of what a Luddite I am, another major chore in preparation for this mini-voyage was manufacturing the little wood chips I need to connect my Aries windvane to my tillerpilot ram.

These chips are effectively sacrificial fuses for my “electronic autopilot,” in that they are the first thing to break when things get too loaded up. I reckon I could create an unbreakable metal chip, but then I worry I might harm my antique pilot ram, or worse the windvane itself, when things get crazy. So instead I’ve been experimenting, trying to make a chip that is as strong as possible, but still sacrificial.

My latest experiment was to make a chip out of plastic Starboard (bottom item in this photo), but it didn’t last very long and broke last weekend after just a couple of weeks of service. In the photo you can also see an abortion of a teak chip (upper left), that I thoughtlessly cut with the grain aligned the wrong way (and immediately broke in two with my bare hands), and one properly cut chip (upper right).

Here’s the good chip installed at the end of my tillerpilot ram. After a bit more sawing, and filing, and drilling, I also have two good spares to back it up.

I also decided to remark my anchor chain. I marked it with paint last time, but paint wears away pretty quickly. This time I’m trying bright orange wire-ties instead, which you can now see peeking out of the chain pile in the peak.

Finally, this is something I’ve been meaning to do ever since I bought the boat. A simple way to secure the linen that tends to get stuffed in the alcove under the side lockers up forward. Three little padeyes, a couple of hooks, and a length of bungee cord was all it took.

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