Sail Feed

Syndicate content
Brought to you by Sail Magazine
Updated: 11 min 19 sec ago

Inmarsat Fleet One, affordable FleetBroadband for real?

Mon, 2014-06-02 08:00

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

Boaters looking for a reliable, moderately fast satellite Internet connection for light and/or occasional use have learned to be leery of Inmarsat. When FleetBroadband came out in 2009 — particularly the FB150 model with its easily installed 13.5-inch stabilized antenna — it seemed like a reasonably affordable option for bluewater cruising. This promise was confirmed in a terriffic Panbo review series conducted by Gram Schweikert as his family sailed from Maine to New Zealand with both KVH FB150 and Iridium OpenPort antennas mounted on the spreaders. Note the fairly friendly FB rate sheet published in Gram’s installation entry and how (with very careful data use) he found the FB150 quite useful out in the Pacific at only about $100 to $150 a month in service charges. Unfortunately, the deal changed…

In 2011 Inmarsat purportedly modified the terms their service resellers could use — causing particular pain to intermittent users (and the dealer/installers who had set them up) — and in 2012 we got a clearer understanding of the company’s motivation. Inmarsat’s VSAT competitors in the data-hungry ship and megayacht market were using nearly global FB systems as a backup to cover the areas they couldn’t. Suddenly, the middle class yacht could no longer, say, prepurchase 12 months of a basic $59/mo service plan and use the total block of 60 up/download megabytes and 1,100 voice minutes however they wanted during that year. The FB150 is still available, but you don’t see them on many cruising boats.

Well, Fleet One is Inmarsat’s new attempt to “meet the particular communications needs of leisure mariners, day boaters and sport and coastal fisherman,” and the Sailor Fleet One hardware pictured at the top of the entry looks remarkably similar to the Sailor 150 FleetBroadband System. In fact, it may well be the exact same hardware, but with software that only enables one voice connection at a time and that limits data speeds to 100 kbps — versus FB150′s “up to” 150 kbps. The major difference, though, is that Fleet One’s attractive rates only apply within the coastal regions shown in green above…

The green (or lavendar) regions are actually quite substantial. It looks, for instance, like a yacht could cruise throughout the Carribean and then passage to New England via Bermuda without ever crossing the line where Fleet One prepaid data rates take a huge leap from $5 to $40 a megabyte. With “In Region” voice calls at 68 cents a minute, Fleet One could be just the right service level above a sat phone (or maybe the new Iridium GO!). You’re not going to surf around the Web like you do when you’re on land-based WiFi or cellular connections, but carefully managed Internet use should be easy and fairly quick. Cruisers will also appreciate the fact that $50/30 day prepaid vouchers are good for a year and that unused time can roll over onto another voucher if it’s activated before the first one’s 30 days is up. Plus, an activated SIM card can go unused for 8 months before another $100 activation fee is needed. And note that the same hypothetical coast-of-North-America yacht could pick up the same Region rate in the Med, and they still would have had easy data access while crossing the Atlantic, though at a premium rate (that will discourage use of Fleet One as a VSAT backup :-).

Installing the Fleet One BDU and ADU — the below and above decks units — looks fairly straightforward. The above manual illustration is from the Inmarsat-branded hardware, which looks very similar to the proven Skipper FB150. Accessing Fleet One Internet via the built-in browser pages, illustrated below, also looks fairly straightforward. I’d still recommend having a reputable dealer/installer involved, though, if nothing else than to serve as an advocate with Inmarsat if things turn sour. The company may want to work with leisure boaters, and this offering seems attractive, but I’m not sure they’ve learned how to treat us. For instance, I’m pretty sure that even though a Fleet One system could use its included GPS to warn a user if they’ve crossed a Region border into high rate territory, it does not. That’s why the non-partisan sat comms expert who supplied much of the info for this entry favors pre-paid usage. “It limits liability!” Soon, the Web should have more information and opinions about Fleet One. I’ll be paricularly interested in what Global Marine Networks has to say, and note that they already like the Iridium Pilot (formerly known as OpenPort for similar user profiles.

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

Enter to win a flag- just two days left!

Sun, 2014-06-01 02:39

I’m looking forward to picking a name out of the virtual hat (OK, so actually, it’s randomized event executed with a mouse click…), and going through pictures of flags. If you haven’t entered to win yet, you’ve got two days left- that’s two more chances to enter! Well, as long as you have a US or Canadian mailing address. I think the world needs more smiles in it: so please, share this with your friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How much do I love flags?

Here’s Totem, anchored in Sydney Harbour for New Years Eve a few year back, we made a string of all the courtesy flags we had on board. Our usual, 12×18″ courtesy flag was swapped for a stunner of an Aussie ensign,  a big flag that was the thoughtful parting gift from the company I worked for in Australia. many boats in the harbor had their celebratory best colors out, and it was beautiful to see. Our string of courtesy flags are a kind of “poor cruisers” version of dress flags, but we loved the memories that came with putting each one of those flags together… in the order that we visited the countries, or course.

Flags are memories of good times. Australia day, in January, we bobbed around the harbour (again teeming with boats)- flags of all sizes, but large ones in particular. Our host for the day in 2011 was the trawler Furthur, another vessel from the Salish Sea. With a boat full of Americans and a US hailing port, the natural thing to do was string up all the flags and then make a big banner of our own to get in the fun.

In Thailand, we noticed a lot of local boats flying yellow and blue flags. It seems like a strange thing to do (clearly, they didn’t need Quarantine yellow) until I realized they contained complex emblems: it turns out these are special flags celebrating the Thai king (yellow) and queen (blue). When in Rome, right?

It’s actually not quite proper etiquette to string them like this. Typically, stringing one national flag over another means the higher flag has declared war on the lower one. We went with it since that was the modus operandi on local vessels. On the other hand, it also reflected the anti-royalist tension in much of Thailand at the time…although the last thing we were aiming for was a political statement. I’m pretty sure that’s not what the fishing and tourist boats in Phuket had in mind, either.

While there are a lot of rules around flags, they’re often easily bent. Where we draw the line is where it may offend anyone- especially our host country- or where it may cause harmful misunderstanding (e.g., indicating distress when there is none). But I have to admit, when we see an obvious miss on flag etiquette, we notice. Like the boat that thought it was cute to fly their Scottish flag over the local courtesy flag. They probably have no idea that they’re being rude, but they are. We didn’t have the opportunity to tell them, but it was a chance to show our kids what not to do, and why.

Otherwise, we literally just let our flags fly. Have extras, or the materials to make them! Without flags to spare, we hand-made one to leave at Suwarrow. Check out the wealth of great flags hung up there with messages and remembrances from cruisers in years gone by.

A big thanks to Gettysburg Flag Works, who is making this giveaway possible! More information on Gettysburg, their great flags for boaters, and the story behind the giveaway in this earlier post.

Flag-flying fans know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Enter to win a flag- just two days left!

Sun, 2014-06-01 02:39

I’m looking forward to picking a name out of the virtual hat (OK, so actually, it’s randomized event executed with a mouse click…), and going through pictures of flags. If you haven’t entered to win yet, you’ve got two days left- that’s two more chances to enter! Well, as long as you have a US or Canadian mailing address. I think the world needs more smiles in it: so please, share this with your friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How much do I love flags?

Here’s Totem, anchored in Sydney Harbour for New Years Eve a few year back, we made a string of all the courtesy flags we had on board. Our usual, 12×18″ courtesy flag was swapped for a stunner of an Aussie ensign,  a big flag that was the thoughtful parting gift from the company I worked for in Australia. many boats in the harbor had their celebratory best colors out, and it was beautiful to see. Our string of courtesy flags are a kind of “poor cruisers” version of dress flags, but we loved the memories that came with putting each one of those flags together… in the order that we visited the countries, or course.

Flags are memories of good times. Australia day, in January, we bobbed around the harbour (again teeming with boats)- flags of all sizes, but large ones in particular. Our host for the day in 2011 was the trawler Furthur, another vessel from the Salish Sea. With a boat full of Americans and a US hailing port, the natural thing to do was string up all the flags and then make a big banner of our own to get in the fun.

In Thailand, we noticed a lot of local boats flying yellow and blue flags. It seems like a strange thing to do (clearly, they didn’t need Quarantine yellow) until I realized they contained complex emblems: it turns out these are special flags celebrating the Thai king (yellow) and queen (blue). When in Rome, right?

It’s actually not quite proper etiquette to string them like this. Typically, stringing one national flag over another means the higher flag has declared war on the lower one. We went with it since that was the modus operandi on local vessels. On the other hand, it also reflected the anti-royalist tension in much of Thailand at the time…although the last thing we were aiming for was a political statement. I’m pretty sure that’s not what the fishing and tourist boats in Phuket had in mind, either.

While there are a lot of rules around flags, they’re often easily bent. Where we draw the line is where it may offend anyone- especially our host country- or where it may cause harmful misunderstanding (e.g., indicating distress when there is none). But I have to admit, when we see an obvious miss on flag etiquette, we notice. Like the boat that thought it was cute to fly their Scottish flag over the local courtesy flag. They probably have no idea that they’re being rude, but they are. We didn’t have the opportunity to tell them, but it was a chance to show our kids what not to do, and why.

Otherwise, we literally just let our flags fly. Have extras, or the materials to make them! Without flags to spare, we hand-made one to leave at Suwarrow. Check out the wealth of great flags hung up there with messages and remembrances from cruisers in years gone by.

A big thanks to Gettysburg Flag Works, who is making this giveaway possible! More information on Gettysburg, their great flags for boaters, and the story behind the giveaway in this earlier post.

Flag-flying fans know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Dongfeng’s Volvo 60 goes Transatlantic

Fri, 2014-05-30 14:07

From our friends at the Volvo Ocean Race—

Newport, USA – From Rhode Island to Lorient, France, for the Chinese Sailors onboard Dongfeng this will be their biggest offshore test to date and will bring skipper Charles Caudrelier one step closer to choosing his final race crew for the Volvo Ocean Race.

After weeks of preparation and training the team finally left the dock at Newport Shipyard today at 3pm local time. The air was filled with apprehension and anticipation at what lays ahead and the final hurdle for these novice Chinese offshore sailors.

In only five months Jin Hao Chen (Horace), Jiru Yang (Wolf) and Kong Chen Cheng (Kong) have sailed over 3,500 nautical miles and have endured months of tough physical training, which has brought them to this point. Although still very much in the running for the final race team, both Ying ‘Kit’ Cheng and Liu Ming (Leo) will stay ashore for this crossing and will re-join the team upon their arrival in Lorient for the official announcement of the final race team on the 26th June.

The transatlantic crossing, a re-enactment of the 2,800 nautical mile Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race, will be undertaken in ‘race mode’ i.e. Caudrelier will be driving the Volvo Ocean 65 Dongfeng hard and his crew even harder. The test leg is estimated to take approximately eight days giving Dongfeng Race Team the opportunity to further test the boat and collect critical boat performance data. The first night is set to deliver relatively light conditions, however after 24 hours the crew are expecting to hit up to 40 knots of wind as a low pressure system sweeps in.

Though not the longest period of time the Chinese sailors will have spent offshore this will, undoubtedly, prove to be the most challenging. When asked if they’re apprehensive or scared, they just glance at one another and shake their heads – perhaps not wanting to voice their concerns on the eve of their departure and keep their resolve strong. Wolf says: “I know it’s going to be hard. I knew back at the first trials that it was going to be hard but we’ve made it this far and I’m ready.

“The only thing at the back of my mind is since we took the safety survival course a few weeks ago, it’s hit me how dangerous this race is. I always thought that if you fell in the water there was hope for survival, and maybe in flat seas and daylight but realistically the chances of survival rapidly diminish in strong winds and high seas with minimum visibility. We did a man overboard manoeuvre in Sanya in flat seas and daylight and within seconds the guy had disappeared from view. It just makes you ask yourself, before you embark on a journey like this one, are you good enough? Can you survive onboard? Will you survive onboard? But am I scared? No.”

These sailors have shown ultimate strength and displayed true determination to take part and represent China in one of the greatest offshore sailing races of all time – the Volvo Ocean Race starting from Alicante, Spain in October 2014.

More from Dongfeng Race Team:

You can follow the team’s progress on all social media channels and the team’s official website:

Official website: Dongfeng Race Team
Official Tracker: dongfengraceteam.geovoile.com/newport-lorient/2014/app/flash/

24 hours under martial law

Fri, 2014-05-30 08:10

On May 22, a military coup displaced the elected government in Thailand. They enacted martial law, put a curfew in place, dispersed protests, and quelled media. On May 24, we entered Thailand for a tourist visit.

Did we have to go? Well, Malaysian visas for the kids and I were about to expire (Jamie had a month left, because he’d flown to Singapore for rigging work in March). We had expected head south on Totem several weeks before, but ongoing delays on our engine service made it impossible. We could have applied for a ‘hardship’ extension of 30 days, or… we could go to Thailand for a short visit, and with new visas issued upon return.

Was this rash or risky, given the military junta now in Thailand? I never felt that the political situation placed us at risk. I did read up on the issues and news reports, and had insights from a friend, and found nothing to dissuade us. The media loves drama, so if this even made a blip on your news at home, you probably saw a skews perspective that played up military types in camo on the streets of Bangkok.

Our bigger risk was the active separatist rebels in south Thailand, a completely unrelated movement which has been ongoing for years, and hasn’t done anything to damage south Thai tourism. So when the choice was 1) go to the Malaysian immigration office to plead our case and hope to be granted a 30 day extension (or, have to leave immediately) OR 2) take a ferry up to Thailand, play tourist, eat good food, and come back with possibly 90 day visas- it was a pretty easy decision. The cost, incidentally, wasn’t terribly different.

It’s more fun with friends, so the kids and I teamed up with our mates from another “kid boat” in the same situation- so with seven kids and three adults, we packed ourselves off to Satun for an overnight jaunt. Here’s a photographic journey through our 24 hours.

On the ferry from Langkawi: nothing like being forced to watch movies that are totally inappropriate for kids! This one revolved around the thin threads of several love stories- interspersed with drug running and gruesome violence at the hands of the Thai mafia. At least it was in Thai, and the kids were more interested in talking to each other than reading the subtitles.

In Malaysia: we were shuttled to/fromt he ferry in an air conditioned minivan with cushy seats. In Satun: a songthaew- basically, we sit on narrow benches in the back of a covered flatbed truck. Welcome to Thailand.

After checking in to our guest house, we went in search of lunch, and passed the police station. No signs of life. Martial law? Clearly not a lot going on here.

The kids weren’t interested in revisiting temples, so they stayed behind at the guesthouse to play cards. I never get tired of visiting temples, and had plenty to choose from.

It was stinking hot, which inspired me to finally chop off my hair. Why not? The salon staff all wanted selfies with me: I went for the group shot. Good bye long hair!

Later in the afternoon, an ice cream “truck” stopped by the guest house. Irresistible.

We picked the date to make our journey based on the fact it was the weekly  night market, a.k.a. festival of amazing street food. One of my favorites: squid on a stick. It’s tossed on a grill, then dipped in a firey sauce. SO GOOD.

This little girl’s dramatic excitement while she waited for her cotton candy was absolutely irresistible.

Our crew was a little more droll but happy for their share!

The night market isn’t just food: the girls found a craft project, painting plaster animals….entertainment and a great memory for 20 baht (about 70 cents) each.

I was up at dawn the next morning to walk to the public market, just a few blocks from our guesthouse. They’re always best in the early hours. Most goods arrive by truck, but there were deliveries from boats on the adjacent river, too.

Gorgeous produce. No idea what the green thing with red seeds is called. The purple tubery things are banana ‘hearts’ a flower at the bottom of a banana stalk. Great stir fried! Those little green globes next to it? Eggplants, each about the size of a grape. And then, there are the bugs again. I’m going to pass on them this time.

So much to see in a market. I love this cat, stalking the fish vendors.

Still life with pig.

And chickens.

Breakfast came in many courses. First: a rice porridge with soft boiled egg, a little chicken, and lots of ginger and spring onions.

Of course, you have to decorate it with the sweet (sugar) – spicy (chili) – sour (chilies in vinegar) triumvirate first. YUM.

I went back later with the rest of the crew. We indulged in delicious hot roti, sweet tea, sticky rice, and big plates of pork and rice for the boys. I wasn’t sure I should splurge on the pork & rice at first, because it cost five times as much as anything else- then I remembered it was still less than $2. OK!

This vendor wouldn’t let me pay for my few spoonfuls of green curry paste. Another insisted on giving me fruit. Sights and smells near overwhelm, but it’s the kindness that overpowers everything.

When I carried my little bag of green curry paste down an aisle, a woman created the perfect bundle of vegetables and aromatics to make an excellent curry, for just pennies. Banana tree stem, turmeric root, Thai basil, ginger flower, lemongrass, lime leaves.

Her shirt proclaims “Love the King”. Thais have a reverence for the king that is both impressive and impossible for me to understand.

Other advantages of early morning walks: tailing the monks, taking their begging bowls out for daily rice.

24 hours in Thailand. The only evidence of the coup? A glum looking group of guys in camo (with some very large guns) greeting the ferry when it arrived. It was a little intimidating at first, until one of them snuck out his phone to snap photos of the gringoes. We’re good!

Happy travelers know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

24 hours under martial law

Fri, 2014-05-30 08:10

On May 22, a military coup displaced the elected government in Thailand. They enacted martial law, put a curfew in place, dispersed protests, and quelled media. On May 24, we entered Thailand for a tourist visit.

Did we have to go? Well, Malaysian visas for the kids and I were about to expire (Jamie had a month left, because he’d flown to Singapore for rigging work in March). We had expected head south on Totem several weeks before, but ongoing delays on our engine service made it impossible. We could have applied for a ‘hardship’ extension of 30 days, or… we could go to Thailand for a short visit, and with new visas issued upon return.

Was this rash or risky, given the military junta now in Thailand? I never felt that the political situation placed us at risk. I did read up on the issues and news reports, and had insights from a friend, and found nothing to dissuade us. The media loves drama, so if this even made a blip on your news at home, you probably saw a skews perspective that played up military types in camo on the streets of Bangkok.

Our bigger risk was the active separatist rebels in south Thailand, a completely unrelated movement which has been ongoing for years, and hasn’t done anything to damage south Thai tourism. So when the choice was 1) go to the Malaysian immigration office to plead our case and hope to be granted a 30 day extension (or, have to leave immediately) OR 2) take a ferry up to Thailand, play tourist, eat good food, and come back with possibly 90 day visas- it was a pretty easy decision. The cost, incidentally, wasn’t terribly different.

It’s more fun with friends, so the kids and I teamed up with our mates from another “kid boat” in the same situation- so with seven kids and three adults, we packed ourselves off to Satun for an overnight jaunt. Here’s a photographic journey through our 24 hours.

On the ferry from Langkawi: nothing like being forced to watch movies that are totally inappropriate for kids! This one revolved around the thin threads of several love stories- interspersed with drug running and gruesome violence at the hands of the Thai mafia. At least it was in Thai, and the kids were more interested in talking to each other than reading the subtitles.

In Malaysia: we were shuttled to/fromt he ferry in an air conditioned minivan with cushy seats. In Satun: a songthaew- basically, we sit on narrow benches in the back of a covered flatbed truck. Welcome to Thailand.

After checking in to our guest house, we went in search of lunch, and passed the police station. No signs of life. Martial law? Clearly not a lot going on here.

The kids weren’t interested in revisiting temples, so they stayed behind at the guesthouse to play cards. I never get tired of visiting temples, and had plenty to choose from.

It was stinking hot, which inspired me to finally chop off my hair. Why not? The salon staff all wanted selfies with me: I went for the group shot. Good bye long hair!

Later in the afternoon, an ice cream “truck” stopped by the guest house. Irresistible.

We picked the date to make our journey based on the fact it was the weekly  night market, a.k.a. festival of amazing street food. One of my favorites: squid on a stick. It’s tossed on a grill, then dipped in a firey sauce. SO GOOD.

This little girl’s dramatic excitement while she waited for her cotton candy was absolutely irresistible.

Our crew was a little more droll but happy for their share!

The night market isn’t just food: the girls found a craft project, painting plaster animals….entertainment and a great memory for 20 baht (about 70 cents) each.

I was up at dawn the next morning to walk to the public market, just a few blocks from our guesthouse. They’re always best in the early hours. Most goods arrive by truck, but there were deliveries from boats on the adjacent river, too.

Gorgeous produce. No idea what the green thing with red seeds is called. The purple tubery things are banana ‘hearts’ a flower at the bottom of a banana stalk. Great stir fried! Those little green globes next to it? Eggplants, each about the size of a grape. And then, there are the bugs again. I’m going to pass on them this time.

So much to see in a market. I love this cat, stalking the fish vendors.

Still life with pig.

And chickens.

Breakfast came in many courses. First: a rice porridge with soft boiled egg, a little chicken, and lots of ginger and spring onions.

Of course, you have to decorate it with the sweet (sugar) – spicy (chili) – sour (chilies in vinegar) triumvirate first. YUM.

I went back later with the rest of the crew. We indulged in delicious hot roti, sweet tea, sticky rice, and big plates of pork and rice for the boys. I wasn’t sure I should splurge on the pork & rice at first, because it cost five times as much as anything else- then I remembered it was still less than $2. OK!

This vendor wouldn’t let me pay for my few spoonfuls of green curry paste. Another insisted on giving me fruit. Sights and smells near overwhelm, but it’s the kindness that overpowers everything.

When I carried my little bag of green curry paste down an aisle, a woman created the perfect bundle of vegetables and aromatics to make an excellent curry, for just pennies. Banana tree stem, turmeric root, Thai basil, ginger flower, lemongrass, lime leaves.

Her shirt proclaims “Love the King”. Thais have a reverence for the king that is both impressive and impossible for me to understand.

Other advantages of early morning walks: tailing the monks, taking their begging bowls out for daily rice.

24 hours in Thailand. The only evidence of the coup? A glum looking group of guys in camo (with some very large guns) greeting the ferry when it arrived. It was a little intimidating at first, until one of them snuck out his phone to snap photos of the gringoes. We’re good!

Happy travelers know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Navionics Boating app, now with free U.S. charts!

Thu, 2014-05-29 15:52

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

This is a significant surprise. Version 7.0 of the free Navionics Boating app released today for iPad and iPhone includes the ability to download and use NOAA vector charts, as seen above. Meanwhile, if you already own a Navionics Marine app for iOS, there’s a 7.0 update available which adds “Gov Charts” and the same feature will soon come to Android versions of both the Boating and Marine apps. Navigators who already use Navionics charts on a tablet or phone may find it useful to have NOAA data for comparison, but the big news is that any U.S. boater can now enjoy a Navionics level charting app completely free…

Before getting further into what Navionics is up to, you too may want to know what the difference is between Navionics Boating and Marine apps. The short answer is, “Not much!” I just downloaded Navionics Boating to my iPad mini this morning, and it’s virtually indistinguishable from the Navionics US HD app that was already there. If you download the Boating app and then buy the Navionics US charts for $50, they would be exactly the same. In other words, the Boating app means that Navionics is moving from selling eight apps with a specific chart region included to selling chart regions within a single app. The Navionics Boating page explains this fairly well, and owners of a Marine app bought since 2010 will appreciate the “will continue to receive updates and support” promise.

So here’s my Marine US HD app now upgraded to 7.0 so I can view NOAA data if I want. While it’s not surprising that the Navionics charts have a lot more features available — like satellite photo overlay, Community Edits, excellent tide forecasting, and more — a little further down I’ll illustrate some of the many Boating app features that come free.

First, I want to note that both 7.0 apps include a newly revised Plotter Sync feature that I’m quite excited about, and that may also explain why Navionics is now giving away a perfectly usable charting app. As explained at the Miami Boat Show, Raymarine and Navionics are stepping up their app/MFD integration with a sync that will not only share routes and tracks, but will also use the app and mobile device as a way station between Navionics servers and Ray MFDs. Fresh charts and Community Edits will go to the boat and if you’re willing, automatically collected soundings will go to Navionics. In other words, boaters using free Navionics Boating will conceivably help collect data that might eventually induce themselves and others to purchase Navionics charts and the added Freshest Data option that includes SonarCharts. It’s a clever scheme indeed, and the demos I saw suggested that what sounds like a complex synchronization will be super simple for the user.

Here are some Navionics Boating app features that work even with free NOAA charts. Data like nav aid specifications is easy to access and read, the “Magazine & Guides” library includes NOAA Pilot information, and at least wind and Sun/Moon data is available worldwide. I also think that basic route making works pretty well, though I’ve become fond of the $5 Advanced Routing module that came out a while back. No company has been working on charting apps longer than Navionics and it shows, even in the free version.

So, why was I looking up the weather in Portsmouth, England? I’m pleased to report that I’ll be visiting the Raymarine R&D center there next week. You can see in the screens below that even when using the free “Govt” charts in Navionics Boating, there’s still a somewhat useful base map available elsewhere. When I tried switching to Navionics charts, I was, of course, offered the opportunity to buy them, but could also get at Menu/Map Options to turn on the photo overlay. I’ve only messed with the new 7.0 app briefly; what goodies or issues can you find?

PS 5/31: Sonar log uploading is working for me, and it’s easy as pie. When I got onto the a77′s WiFi yesterday and opened Navionics Marine US HD, I was greeted with the message below. The app even walked me through where to find the button to enable sonar logging on the Ray MFD (running LightHouse II v10.34). When I did the same thing today, the app uploaded and processed the sonar logs it saw on the a77 to my iPad mini and when I got home it sent them off to Navionics with the promise that the resulting SonarCharts will be available in about a week. Apparently the sonar logs are automatically saved to the whatever card is in the MFD and can also be uploaded to Navionics via the Chart Installer you can download from their site. So you don’t need the app to contribute sonar data. But you do need either a Navionics+ card or the Freshest Data app option to see SonarCharts.

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

Little Freda, Mighty Kelpie: Back from the Edge

Thu, 2014-05-29 11:34

By Kimball Livingston Posted May 29, 2014

Many a 21st century boatman who would never own a woodie will nevertheless spend hours admiring their beauty. I was a younger man when I wrote, “A wooden boat has an aura, and perhaps a soul, that cannot be created on the production line.” I stand by that. And so it is a pleasure to see the renewals, right now, of two great wooden sailing yachts, one from the 19th century, one from the 20th.

FREDA

She re-launches Saturday without a rig, but Freda will be back

Built on the shores of San Francisco Bay in 1885, Freda is 32 feet long and the oldest active sailing yacht on the West Coast. Or she will be. Active, that is, once she is again rigged and ready. For the moment, we’re talking re-launch.

Freda’s story is many stories, and her restorations have been many, to match. Late in the 1800s, she was central to the life of the Corinthian Yacht Club, Belvedere, to the point that the club called its newsletter The Daily Freda. This latest restoration has been eight years in the making, so far, prompted by a sinking at a dock.

If you’re with me, you understand already that letting the old girl go was unthinkable. The foundation arm of SF Bay’s Master Mariners Benevolent Association paid $10,000 for the derelict—in 2004 dollars, a price that, yes, included late berthing fees—and donated her to the newly-formed Spaulding Center, based in the living museum that had once been the boatworks of the late, great Myron Spaulding. In partnership with the Arques School of Traditional Boatbuilding, work began on the most detailed renovation imaginable, began with a piece-by-piece dismantling and a chronicling of each piece and the lofting so that her historical design will be recorded and documented with a set of accurate plans for museums and maritime institutions worldwide.

Keeping the Spaulding Center alive has not been an easy pull, but in its wooden beams, with every wall an artifact, it is, itself, a treasure for all of the maritime USA. The work on Freda has not been speedy, but it is correct. And the fact is, Freda is not “quite” ready to launch. But boats are never “quite” ready, so this is it. Saturday, May 31 at the Spaulding Center, Foot of Gate Five Road, Sausalito, CA. The doors open at 1100. Freda splashes at 1130. Think BBQ, music, history. And, eventually, a return to the waterways of a boat with modest manners that only enhance her irresistible charm.

KELPIE OF FALMOUTH

Renowned on both coasts of the USA, now spreading her wings in Europe as Kelpie of Falmouth, the 79-foot schooner Kelpie was built in Maine in 1928 and sailed from the East Coast to the West Coast of the Americas in 1947 by the brothers Honey, Dave and Dick, father and uncle, respectively, of record-setting skipper, navigator and sports graphics engineer Stan Honey. We wrote that story in Changing Dreams in Midstream, with the Kelpie focus in part two.

As I write, Kelpie of Falmouth is racing in the Pendennis Cup in Cornwall, England, through May 31—captain Charlie Wroe hit his marks for delivery and restoration on deadline, as did the people he chose for the execution—and he says that the owner’s plan is to “race the pants off the boat” in 2014. Since the owner, who keeps to the background, also owns the classic-of-classics schooner Mariette, that’s saying a bit.

The state of affairs in April

Wroe further declares that Kelpie’s restoration “sets her up for the next fifty years.”

Classic Yacht . TV has done a a crisp job telling the renovation story, incorporating black & white images of the east-west delivery supplied by Dick Honey. It’s right here

Around Newport Beach, California there is a world of people who remember Kelpie in a former life as charter boat and dream weaver. They would not have liked her dogeared look when the Europeans found her in San Francisco Bay, but they’ll be pleased to know she has moved on to good things. You may have guessed, that’s Kelpie of Falmouth at the top of the page racing this week in Cornwall.

Battle of the Pests

Wed, 2014-05-28 20:13

Friends, I am doing something very exciting: for the first time in four years, I am going on vacation. “Amy,” you say, “you live on vacation.”  Well, yes.  But even when I am supposed to be lolling about on a beach somewhere, I am thinking of you, dear reader, and the stories I want to tell you.

But right now, I’m heading home to see my family.  And to mark this momentous occasion, I am going to leave my blog behind for a little while.  Now, don’t start weeping into your hankies just yet.  I’ve dusted off some golden oldies for you to enjoy while I’m gone.  As a bonus, I’ve added an update to the bottom of each.  So while I am busy spoiling my nieces and nephew, you can hear about some of the fun we had during the early years on Papillon, and how things have changed since then.  Feel free to comment as usual, and I’ll see you in a few weeks.

Originally posted as: Rodent vs Insect, July 20, 2011.  Rio Dulce, Guatemala

In my youth, I wasn’t very fond of spiders.  Alright, I was kind of scared of them.  This wasn’t helped by the fact that our house backed onto a ravine, and every once in a while a spider the size of the Loch Ness monster would scuttle across my bedroom floor.  In general, I could manage if they were a) outside the house, and b) couldn’t contact me in any way, but if they violated either of those terms, their creepy little lives were forfeit.

Once I had Stylish, I tried very hard to get over my spider issues.  When we encountered bugs and spiders, I would take a steadying breath, then we would examine them and talk about how interesting they were.  Eventually, my feigned non-revulsion became real.  And once we moved aboard, I was quite happy for any spiders I saw, because I knew they were keeping the bug population down.  As for the bugs themselves, pfft.  Bugs.  Big deal. And then, it happened. A giant cockroach.
We call them palmettos, because it sounds better, but the fact of the matter is that when two inches of dark brown buggy horror runs across the bathroom, you wish you were holding an elephant gun.  Truth be told, I jump on a chair and squeal like a cartoon housewife from the fifties who spotted a mouse.  Every time.  Erik always has to kill the damn thing, and he’s getting pretty disgusted at my totally irrational reaction.  I’m trying, but so far I’m failing.  When I turn around of an evening to see those long, long antennae wiggling out from behind something, rational thought deserts me. Sightings are rare, so we know we aren’t infested.  We seem to specialize in bringing home orphans – hiding in corrugated cardboard, hitchhiking out of the hot and humid laundry room.  We are are careful as we can be, but somehow, once in a while, they still show up.  I have Boraxed the heck out of this boat, so I know not much will survive.  Certainly not for long.  They can’t hurt me; they are just gross.  And yet, and yet… A couple of weeks ago, we actually spotted two in one night (instead of about one every month), and Erik and I were worried.  Out came the special poisons and traps.  No way do we want to haul this boat out of the water to fumigate it.  But then a strange thing happened. The next morning, Erik found palmetto parts strewn around the back deck.  He speculated that a bat had caught one, and we joked about building a bat house on the mizzen.  A few days later, I found some palmetto legs under the stove as I was cleaning.  And then I found mouse poops in the cupboard. I closed my eyes and leaned my head against the wall and wondered why we had stayed in a marina.  You’re just asking for critters to run up the lines.  And here was a mouse.  A mouse to eat our food, chew the lines, chew the upholstery, chew the hoses and maybe even sink the boat. Mice don’t bother me.  At all.  I spent too long in a lab to be afraid of mice.  But I still don’t want them here, so we bought sticky traps, warfarin, snap traps and a live trap.  No way was Mr Mousie going to stay on Papillon, and we sure weren’t going to give it a chance to breed. Because the food is packed in hard plastic (yes, all of it). Mr Mousie had no luck in the pantry. Animal proof I found he was going on deck at night to chew through the full garbage bags.  I baited the live trap with ham and peanut butter and tucked it in beside the garbage bag.  Then, off to bed. In the night, I thought I heard the trap snap shut, and accompanying shrieking and clanging.  But it was a windy night and the sounds disappeared quickly, so I was afraid to hope. In the morning, I crept on deck like a child afraid Santa hasn’t come.  I tiptoed through the cockpit, and saw the trap door was closed!  Oh happy day!  I traipsed to the back deck to give Mr Mousie a good scolding. I found a big.  Stinking.  Rat. Just call me Samuel Whiskers.

Holy cats!  He was HUGE!  Look at how he filled that trap!  Jesus H., how did that thing move around the boat undetected?  Mr Mousie, indeed.  No wonder the palmettos disappeared – Ratty ate them all, and probably in one gulp!  We’re lucky he didn’t eat us, too!

I hopped around in ataxtic terror for a few moments, then fled.  But this time, I helped Erik commit the murder.  Like I said, even big rodents aren’t as scary as palmettos.  Don’t ask me why.

Well.  Ratty is gone.  The palmettos are gone.  And any and all spiders are welcome, welcome, welcome.  No questions asked. Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome! Reaction: May 2014
I was afraid of cockroaches?  That is so hard to imagine now; getting yucked-out by creepy-crawlies is a luxury I can no longer afford..  I’m sorry to report that roaches are a constant in warmer climes, and a boat standard.  And while we now use an excellent biocide gel called Goliath (far superior to any other roach killer we have tried), the odd new recruit runs up the lines. And I squash it.  Sometimes with my bare hands.  What are you going to do?  If I wanted a life without bug guts, I should have stayed in the city.

We’ve been luckier on the rat front, although we keep the trap handy, should the need ever arise again.  But,be warned: those guys can swim.  We’ve had friends pick up a rat at anchor in the Galapagos when they were a couple of hundred feet from shore. So, be vigilant, sailor.  You do not want those furry pests munching through your hoses.  Also, I strongly suggest the live trap over your other options. We met a man in Honduras who had a rat problem, and he put out poison.  The rats duly died… in the inaccessible parts of his boat.  And whenever it got damp again, they started to smell again.

Lessons: Don’t bring cardboard on board.  Preventing an infestation is better than fixing it later.  Dispose of all carcasses.  And be kind to spiders.

The Clipper Race: A Mobile Village

Wed, 2014-05-28 13:32

The elated crew of Derry~Londonderry~Doire finishes second in Race 7 of the Clipper Race in Brisbane, Australia

By Kimball Livingston Posted May 28, 2014

The Clipper Round the World Race has 55 “back office” people to manage every aspect of getting 12 boats and 260 sailors at a time around the world. And it keeps all 55 busy. There is a race office team of 4, with 5 maintenance specialists waiting at every stop. Two containers leapfrog each other, stop to stop. Communications are managed 24 X 7. Customs needs are researched and anticipated, and the word for that is “huge.”

Race Director Justin Taylor says, “Each yacht, I liken to a business. The professional skipper is responsible for his boat’s needs, and he delegates to the crew. Each boat will have ten ’rounders [crew paying for a full circumnavigation]. The rest are leggers. We run the races under the Royal Ocean Racing Club auspice. That’s straightforward, and the sponsors want in-port corporate sailing, so that adds the stopover aspects.

“When a boat breaks, we have to figure out how to repair it and get it back into the race with a chance to compete, and it’s not as though we have an unlimited budget for that.”

And it’s not as though the crew who are paying for this are coddled. They cook, they clean, they scrub, they service winches. If they tear a sail, they lose points, and yes, they care about those points. They may not be pros racing the Volvo, but remember the principle that any two boats will always race? These are 12 boats crewed by people who have each made a commitment. They’re living an adventure. Compared to most of us, they’re living large, and when they walk off the boat at the end of a leg, much less the end of a circumnavigation, they will walk away with experiences and skills that many a lifetime sailor can’t match.

“This is a competitive one-design fleet,” Taylor says. “I’ve done the race twice as skipper, and I remember a 4400 mile race that was decided by 19 seconds.

“It becomes a marathon, and we have crew from all walks. This time around they’re 18 to 74. We train them to be competent. That’s what makes this great. We’re training ordinary people to do extraordinary things. How often do you find that? And some of our people would have found it difficult to get out on the water at all. You hear the phrase, life changing. I’ve lost count of the number of people who did not go back to their regular jobs.”

It should come as no surprise that stories also come out of the skipper who had to be replaced, or the crew that factionalized. I write that because it’s true, and I don’t want to sound like a sappy Pollyanna, but the positives outweigh the negatives, and that’s that.

How does one become a Clipper Race skipper?

“It’s 10 percent about sailing, 90 percent about interacting with people,” Tayor says. “We get about 200 applicants per cycle, and I know that 100 of those can be dumped straight into the bin. Maybe there are 50 people worth interviewing. Those who pass go on to a 3-day trial on the water where we test them to destruction. They come away thinking they don’t know how to sail at all.

“For this race, 36 would-be skippers made it to the 3-day trial on the water. Twelve were selected for the race, and 15 more were invited into our training program to see if we can nurture then to become Clipper Race skippers.”

Leaders of the current leg of the Clipper Round the World Race, Jamaica to New York City, are likely to arrive over the coming weekend.

Pendennis Cup Sailing – Kelpie Racing

Wed, 2014-05-28 11:14

Kelpie of Falmouth ready to race. Photo by Charlie Wroe

Kelpie of Falmouth received special attention in these pages, as we chronicled her post-WWII delivery from the East Coast to the West Coast of the Americas—a journey managed by the father and uncle of well-known navigator, software engineer, and past US Yachtsman of the Year Stan Honey. Once famed as a California boat, she is now sailing the first regatta of her new life at the Pendennis Cup. The restoration was heroic. And on time. You can read the genesis of the Honey brothers’ story HERE with the Kelpie-focused portion as part 2.

As for the Pendennis Cup, continuing through May 31 at Falmouth, England, we have this report from the race committee:

Glorious sunshine and cobalt blue skies welcomed the yachts and spectator boats on the water for the first race day of the 2014 Pendennis Cup, but the unpredictable light winds meant the fleet was to find conditions challenging throughout the three hour race in Falmouth Bay.

The start order for Day 1 began with Kelpie followed by Mariette, although by the time the fleet rounded the first windward ‘Burgess’ mark Velacarina had caught the two lead vessels. Christopher had a great start and had caught the leading boats rounding this first buoy with the newly restored Kelpie following closely behind. At this point the fleet was still maintaining close distance, with Adix marching up the course, keen to hunt down the back of the fleet as the yachts headed past the entrance to the Helford.

With a SSW wind at 8-10knots the yachts were battling in the bay, with the 2011 Pendennis built Christopher pushing ahead launching her dramatic red chile spinnaker as she rounded ‘Helston’. The much smaller 21m Breakaway was close behind, with the race behind between Velacarina, Mariette and Kelpie looking tight. Christopher and Breakaway tussled for the lead as the fleet spread out dramatically during the next leg, with Breakaway gaining ground and rounding the third mark ‘Gylly Beach Café’ in first place.

The fleet was split across the bay on the second upwind leg to the ‘Romeo’ mark. As the race unfolded an interesting balance of tactics and sail combinations were engaged, with the leading yacht Breakaway perfectly suited to making the most of the wind changes falling off the coast whilst the larger yachts started on a coastal track then moved out to sea to take advantage of the more consistent sea breezes to fill their sails. It proved to be a winning tactic by Breakaway as she sped back towards the Helford, making the most of the wind shifts when she once again turned north, flying her spinnaker and stretching her legs dramatically taking off from the fleet, rounding the next ‘Zone 1 Day’ mark before the rest of the fleet.

Christopher and Velacarina were neck and neck during the last leg, and although Christopher was next over the line, sounding her cannon as she passed the castle above, on rating adjustment her final place was in third behind Velacarina, the next yacht to complete the course a few hundred yards later. Mariette had tussled with Adix on the final turn leg launching her gollywobbler as Adix flew her kite, but Mariette gained the advantage as the winds lulled, giving her fourth position. Adix competed almost bow to bow with Kelpie, with Kelpie being awarded fifth place ahead of Adix on amended time.

The Class 2 Little Dennis Fleet enjoyed the calmer seas and crept up on the Pendennis Cup fleet throughout the race. All four yachts started within 5 seconds of each other on the gun with Firebrand having the best start hotly pursued by Cerinthe, Cuilaun and Zarik. Throughout the course all boats stayed close until the second round when the fleet spread with the wind variations. Spectators enjoyed the beautiful sight of the four Little Dennis fleet yachts alongside the Pendennis Cup fleet as they flew their spinnakers with Firebrand maneuvering in between the larger boats as she stretched her lead. Firebrand led the division throughout the second half of the course eventually winning by a clear 10minute margin hidden amongst the larger Pendennis Cup fleet yachts.

The lighter winds provided a fantastic challenge for the first day’s race with the glorious sunshine showing the yachts at their most spectacular amongst a large spectator fleet in Falmouth Bay. The forecast for Wednesday is a stronger north westerly which should create a more dramatic race amongst the larger yachts.

A full race report is outlined in the News section of the race web site, with the day’s results tabled below. The race can also be watched on the tractrac website: tractac.com.

Erik de Jong Returns to the 59º North Podcast

Wed, 2014-05-28 10:36

Erik de Jong was one of Andy’s favorite guests on the podcast, and spoke at length on Episode 15. This one is a bit shorter. Andy & Erik talked via Skype last Saturday, the day before Erik was set to depart Halifax bound for Greenland in his custom steel 50-footer Bagheera, which Erik designed and built himself (he’s a professional ship designer, so he can do that sort of thing!). Andy & Erik discuss how the very cool story of Erik delivering some sculptures to an art Student in Nuuk, Greenland came about after the last podcast episode was released. So as I type, Erik is en route to Nuuk, with a cargo of artwork, on a very cool mission! He’ll continue sailing north this summer on his Arctic expeditions (still some crew spots left!). Check out bagheera-sailing.com to follow his progress and book a bunk! Thanks again to Erik for joining the show.

Circumnavigating Everest

Tue, 2014-05-27 14:43

A conversation with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, lightly edited for the read
Posted by Kimball Livingston on May 27, 2014
. Above, the Clipper fleet leaving for N.Y. from Jamaica

His next solo race, the Route du Rhum, being months away and his ambitious business undertaking, the Clipper Round the World Race being very much of the moment—the fleet is now closing on New York and the end of race 13, from Jamaica—I took my sit-down with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston as an opportunity to ask a question that has bugged me for years. The Clipper Race being, in its ninth running, a contest of 12 boats with professional skippers and a total of 680 paying crew sailing 16 individual races over a passage of 40,000 miles, making it the world’s longest race—

KL: What in God’s name possessed you to think that you could pull this off?

—Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in 2007, 4th in Velux 5 Oceans—

Well . . .

I was climbing in Greenland with a friend, and he was telling me how much it costs to climb Mount Everest.

I thought, Whoa, that’s a lot of dough. What would be the equivalent, in the sailing world, of summiting Everest?

A circumnavigation, of course.

But there must be a lot of people who don’t have the confidence to set out to do it, or the skills, or they don’t have the boat or the money for the boat. I did some rough calculations on the back of an envelope—costs for boats, professional skippers, crew training, food, port fees, promotion and whatever else I could think of—and came to the conclusion that I could send someone sailing around the world for about half what it would cost them to climb Everest. So then I thought, well, I’ll advertise and see what happens.

I got 8,000 responses.

Now, that includes the no-hopers, a lot of them, but still, it’s 8,000 people responding. Then I figured I had advertised the idea, and “someone” was going to do it, so I’d better get on with it.

[Add fund raising and other small details]

So we ordered eight boats, set up a training system, and I rushed around the world setting up a route. Ten months later, we had our first race.

[I'll interject the obvious here, that this is an astounding achievement, and it worked, and it worked out. It's difficult enough to get one boat across an ocean. Much less, to get 12 boats (in 2014) from stop to stop around the world, with a training regimen for newbies that makes them fit for sea, with pricing and an agenda that fits single-leg clients as well as "rounders," with backup parts on hand for things that break, with a race committee on hand to bring them into port, provide support and activities, and get the show on the road again. Apparently, whatever was in Sir Robin Knox-Johnston that got him around the world in 312 days to win the inaugural, 1969 singlehanded race around the world—a slower world—left plenty in the tank for the next thing, and the next. In person, Knox-Johnston is engaging and unhurried, no matter what's tugging at his elbows, and on the day of our meeting, there was plenty. But he spoke to me as if he hadn't another concern in the world, and we were best friends from college days, picking up where we left off. I've learned from other people, that's typical of the man. The voice is mild, with a musical inflection and no hint of the dramas that went into, for example, setting the round-the-world record in 1994 in the Jules Verne Race with Peter Blake. I wanted to ask about his inspiration to race the Route du Rhum, solo, at age 75, but there was more on the Clipper Race, first. He continued.]

The initial demand to participate in the Clipper Race was mainly British, but it’s become international to the point that we have 42 nationalities participating in 2014. We like that. We encourage it. And every crewman goes through the same training. [26 days worth] Sailing skills, seamanship, safety, boat maintenance, race tactics and ocean routing, they go through it whether they’re skilled or starting from scratch, because there is more than one way of doing things, but we can’t afford to have more than one method in play. There has to be a complete understanding, front to back, and a uniform terminology.

At sea aboard a Clipper Ventures 70. Note the extremely protected steering stations

KL: Considering that this is the only true trans-Pacific race, and the fleet got kicked around a lot in the crossing from Qingdao to San Francisco Bay, I imagine you would time that leg differently if you could—5800 miles, and the crews are warned ahead of time that they could have snow on deck for the first week. That is, you’d leave later in the season than that March 16 start.

We’d also prefer to sail into China later in the season. And then, yes, the Pacific crossing is a toughie. People think of the North Pacific as champagne sailing, but no way is it that. And our people got to San Francisco saying it was hard and they didn’t really enjoy it. But you know, given a month, the point is that they did it. They achieved something rare. You’re right, I would time it differently if I could, but our time constraint is to leg down the coast from California, get through the Canal, and then clear the Caribbean ahead of the hurricane season. We have to push to be out by the first of June.

KL: You accomplished that by departing Jamaica on May 24 for New York, with a fleet ETA of June 1. But I’m curious about your reactions to Qingdao, which you have used more than once as a port of call. And who funded the entry, Qingdao?

The city funded Qingdao. They could see the benefit of continuing to promote the city as the sailing center of China, and they’re working on that. Every time we go there, they have more boats, more sailing programs, more people stopping us in the street to talk when they see the team jackets. We have nine sailors from Qingdao in the fleet this time, including Vicky Song on the Qingdao entry. She’s going to become the first Chinese woman to sail around the world.

KL: And you were the first person to sail solo around the world, nonstop, in a race that made history. Now, with your Open 60, Grey Power, you’re returning to transatlantic racing as the oldest-ever entry in the Route du Rhum. What’s the inspiration?

I just bloody well want to. I raced Sydney-Hobart on one of our own boats [it's a leg of the Clipper Race] and chose to race on one of the older 68-footers rather than the new 70-footers. And I didn’t want to replace my skipper. I told him, I’ll just do navigation and tactics. And I realized how much I’d missed it. We had a ball, and we beat all the new boats except one. I’m not sure that was good marketing . . .

EDITOR’S NOTE: Leaving aside a few do-it-yourselfers who may or may not be doing it right, the costs for an attempt on Everest begin at a bare-bones and good-luck-with-that $30,000 and escalate rapidly, depending upon which face you choose to climb and how much support or “luxury” you’re willing to pay for. $65,000 is typical for your Chevrolet version of summiting, and it’s easy to nick six figures at the Cadillac end. By comparison, the 26-day mandatory training for the Clipper Race costs about $5000 US. Individual legs could be as little as $4000, with a circumnavigation going for $50,000—a bit more than Knox-Johnston’s “one-half” comparison, but you see a lot more of the world, success is more likely, and by the end you’ll be one hell of a sailor.

Installing Silentwind: power projects aboard

Tue, 2014-05-27 06:00

This could be the shortest post ever, because installing the Silentwind wind generator was a non-event.


The instructions were easy to follow.

It took three hours, including decommissioning our old turbine and installing Silentwind.

It worked immediately.

WIN!

Ease of installation (and instant gratification!) matter to us because of the sharp contrast with our prior wind turbine installation experience. In 2009, it took more than six months for the AirBreeze we purchased from Southwest Windpower to function. The details are on a post Jamie made to Cruiser’s Forum; suffice to say it was a drawn out, frustrating experience hampered by abysmal customer support. In the end, it worked, but it was an exercise in frustration.

This a was the counterpoint to that experience at every level.

After hearing us rave about our new Silentwind, another boat in the anchorage ordered the same model, and Jamie helped with the install. This was the first wind generator on SV Quasar, but didn’t take much additional time. With installing a pole (previously designed and fabricated) and running new wiring, they were finished in about four hours.

There are great details, like the 50 amp fuse included to use when you first connect the controller to the battery bank to ensure proper circuit protection. Then, there’s the fact that the three AC conductors (wires) leading from the turbine connect in any order to the three charge controller terminals. The controller determines each wires function, and directs it accordingly. Basically, you can’t screw up the wiring! And, the controller itself is included in the package, not a separate purchase. This is a nice touch, with a very cool bonus factor. It turns out you can use this same charge controller to manage up to 550 watts of solar- as much as many cruising boats manage.

Of note: per the instructions, it’s important when doing the AC wiring to prevent turbine blades from spinning. If they spin, they’ll generate AC electricity. We used a lanyard, loosely tied between one blade and the mounting pole.

Easy breezy readers know we get a charge when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

CHEEKI RAFIKI: Hull Found Again, Post Mortem

Mon, 2014-05-26 13:49

The fate of the four crew members aboard Cheeki Rafiki was confirmed on Friday when the U.S. Navy again found the overturned keel-less hull and inspected it closely enough to determine that its liferaft was still onboard. So with much drama and angst and effort we have at least confirmed what the U.S. Coast Guard initially surmised when it first suspended its search for survivors. I don’t think the effort was wasted or useless. Given the enormous interest in the fate of these four men, I think it was well worth it to achieve closure on that point.

I would hope some people who criticized the Coast Guard rather harshly for suspending the search might now express some regret (I noted, for example, that Brian Hancock, a well-known racing sailor, accused the Coasties of abandoning the search “without really trying”), but I’m not holding my breath on that. What’s more important is to focus on what we can take away from this tragedy to make sailing safer.

Time to wake up! This happens all the time

I’ve seen people discussing liferafts and such, but for me this big issue here is keels. The four crew on Cheeki died because the boat’s keel fell off, probably very suddenly, and this is not, as some have suggested, an unusual occurrence. It is frighteningly common. Modern fin keels fall off cutting-edge high-end race boats all the time (e.g., keel loss is a common reason for Vendee Globe withdrawals) and off less exotic race boats (e.g., I have one good friend who lost a keel off a TP52 while racing and know of many other similar incidents) and off common production boats, both while racing and cruising.

The underside of Cheeki Rafiki, showing the area where the keel ripped off. Note the large swath of damaged laminate below the keel’s footprint

On production boats like Cheeki, a Beneteau First 40.7, it is probably true that most keel failures are the result of damage sustained in groundings. This is a tricky business, as grounding damage can be very hard to assess accurately, and damage can be cumulative over several groundings. Even worse, with charter boats like Cheeki, there may be one or more groundings that take place and are never reported to the boat’s owner or those responsible for maintaining it.

For an excellent discussion of the damage sustained on Cheeki, I recommend you dive into this Sailing Anarchy thread here, from whence I pilfered these photos:

Enhanced out-take of the keel’s footprint from the image above. Questions raised: 1) are those bolt-heads and washers we see on the two forward keel bolts? Or are they broken off? 2) the aft bolt clearly seems to have been corroded, so is this where the trouble started? 3) the central bolts seem to have been the last to let go and took with them a big chunk of laminate, but was the laminate under the keel cored?

Another First 40.7, Barracuda, that lost its keel. Note the similarity in the damage to the underbody

Keel-bolt pattern on a stock First 40.7, as seen from inside. Note that the keel’s attachment points are not tied directly into the structural bilge grid. Also, this is an exceptionally shallow bilge!

Interestingly, on page 7 of the SA thread you’ll find one participant, ClubRacer.be, who claims to have been on two different supposedly undamaged never-grounded First 40.7s where the aft keel bolts started weeping when you honked down hard on the backstay. Another commenter, axobotl, claims to have been on a First 40.7 that grounded at hull speed without sustaining any detectable damage.

Thinking of that rusty aft bolt on Cheeki, I have to wonder if this is a weak spot on all First 40.7s that have been raced hard. (And there are a lot of them. They have an active one-design thing going on.) If you trap moisture against that bolt every time you crank down hard on the hydraulic backstay adjuster, corrosion seems inevitable.

In perusing the online commentary, I’ve seen that some people don’t believe it is possible to engineer a bolted-on fin keel that is not vulnerable. That this is a risk you have to take when sailing on boats like this.

Personally, I don’t accept this. I’m not an engineer, but I have to believe it is possible to design a keel attachment that spreads loads over a much wider area of the hull. After all, we never (or at least almost never) hear of wings shearing off of airplanes. Yes, I am sure “over-engineered” keel attachments would be heavier (and thus would decrease performance) and more expensive (thus less economically attractive), but they must be feasible. On page 6 of the SA thread, for example, you’ll find links to a patented Swedish system for attaching a fairly aggressive fin keel that looks incredibly strong.

As a starting point, I would say a “properly” engineered fin-keel attachment should spread loads over such a large area that you should need to effectively destroy the hull to remove the keel (like on a full-keel boat). Also, there should be some mechanism or “fuse” that lets you know when the assembly has been critically damaged.

I can only hope that all the energy that went into browbeating the Coast Guard to continue looking for Cheeki might now be channeled into this purpose. Then the crew of Cheeki would not have died in vain.

How do we create this new standard of construction in what is effectively an unregulated industry? It would help a lot, I think, if race organizers and rule mavens started the ball rolling. If the high-end race boats whose keels fail most often were forced to be safer in this regard, a lot would follow from that.

Gizmo’s Ocean Armor topsides & Pettit Hydrocoat Eco bottom, the testing begins

Sat, 2014-05-24 12:20

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

Check out the evening gleam on Gizmo’s flared bow. I think it’s impressive for a gelcoat surface that’s seen a lot of weather over 14 years and better yet, the pros who applied the “nano polymer wax replacement” were also impressed. There’s more detail on the new coating called Ocean Armor Pro Maxi All Gloss further along in this entry and also my experience with an initial application of Pettit HydroCoat Eco bottom paint, which seems like another winner so far…

You may recall that I already conducted a three-year test of copper-free Interlux Pacifica Plus and it did pretty well. When Pettit claimed that their unique copper-free and water-based Hydrocoat Eco could do even better, I was of course interested but then got concerned that the remaining and still quite ablative Pacifica Plus would have to be removed. However, Pettit told me that any of their Hydrocoats can go over almost any other paint because the lack of normal solvents means that the old paint can’t get kicked off again with possible troublesome effects like bubbling. In fact, they said that if Gizmo’s new bottom coat wears off, the old Pacifica Plus will go back to work again. Wayfarer Marine painter Wes Ames did hit the old paint with a scrubby (old habits die hard), but the Hydrocoat Eco certainly went on without issues. Wes doesn’t look happy in this photo — who would when on your knees painting overhead? — but he did enjoy the lack of solvent fumes (and only masked up to avoid splatter on his face). Note how rudder, prop, and even transducers are all getting anti-fouling paint…

I failed to take photos this time around, but want you to know that I’d already sprayed the prop and rudder with Pettit’s “new” 1792 Prop Coat Barnacle Barrier. I’m qualifying “new” because Prop Coat is exactly the same as the 1792 Zinc Coat Barnacle Barrier that I’ve been using on at least the prop for years (May 2010 photo above). I’m glad for the slight name change, though, as I always worried a bit that it might cause some odd prop corrosion, even though it seemed to work pretty well. In fact, here’s a photo showing a 1792-coated prop after 18 months versus a rudder I only coated with very ablative Pacifica Plus that apparently went away quickly in the prop wash. At any rate, Pettit assured me that Prop Coat is fine for props and that it would last even longer with a top coat of Hydrocoat Eco, which is exactly what I hope to test for the next 18 months. (They also advised me to shake the 1792 spray cans beyond normal during the two-coat application to avoid the dimply wear pattern that had been my only real objection to the product.)

I got a further sense of Hydrocoat Eco by doing a quickie bottom coat on Gizmo’s summer tender. You can see that two long winters upside down in my yard had pretty much eliminated the Pacifica Plus I’d applied in May 2012, so I just washed the hull, taped and painted. I wasn’t racing and was sidetracked a few times, but the photo records show that only two hours elapsed between the scene above and below…

I barely even stirred the Hydrocoat Eco and I applied it with a 4 inch disposable brush. It doesn’t tend to separate, goes on very easily, covers well, dries fast, and doesn’t smell a bit. It was even easy to wash my hands and the brush, and then, per instructions, I poured a little water in the remaining half gallon so it won’t skim dry in storage. All told, about 1.5 gallons sufficed for a 10-foot tender and 37-foot powerboat with the latter getting an extra coat around the waterline. I also touched up a few spots where the white paint (great Epifanes Yacht Enamel) had chipped to the black gelcoat, but the yellowy scum marks that failed to wash off did succumb to a special gunk…

I learned about Davis FSR (Fiberglass Stain Remover) a year ago when dealing with the nasty and tenacious brown “moustache” that had accumulated on Gizmo’s bow while running the tannin-rich ICW. It worked extremely well and was even easy to apply with a rag from a dinghy, though good rubber gloves are highly recommended. While some CruisersForum commenters report good results with less expensive household products, I still had enough FSR to whiten the tender “good enough” for the summer. (Note the EasyBailer solar tender pump in the background, still in fine shape after four seasons.)

In retrospect, I wish the Wayfarer topsides crew had tried a little FSR on the tannin stains remaining near Gizmo’s waterline, because that was the only area where they felt obliged to use a compound with a heavier cut than the sample Ocean Armor Pro Maxi Finishing Compound, which otherwise “seemed to take away the oxidization quickly and gave a great substrate to the ‘wax’.” My service manager, Doug Woodbury, also reported that Pro Maxi polymer All Gloss sealer “went on very well and seems to bring a very nice sheen to the gelcoat surface.” I like how it looks, too, and 15.5 hours of labor to polish and “wax” Gizmo’s topsides seems reasonable, but perhaps the highest accolade was when Doug asked me to put him in touch with Ocean Armor, which is a brand-new contender in a field full of decent boat maintenance products. Meanwhile, there are many other surfaces on Gizmo that might benefit if I actually try the Pro Maxi line myself, and I’ll report here when I do.

So Gizmo isn’t fully commissioned yet, but she’s at least looking good up to the toe rail. The schedule is long though — like 18 months in the water if all goes well — and she will be flying flags before the weekend is over. Here’s wishing all U.S. readers a great and boaty Memorial Day.

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

Sailing Acrobats

Fri, 2014-05-23 22:36

Both Stylish and Indy consider the lines aboard their own.  Yes, fine, we might need them for actual sailing now and again, but, as far as they are concerned, the lines are mainly for climbing.  We have had to set strict rules about the whens and hows of such activities.  Early in our voyage, Erik looked up from the deck to find Stylish most of the way to the spreaders.  Not wanting to scare her, he calmly asked her to come down, and we had a little talk about potential energy and how perhaps she didn’t want to earn herself a wheelchair at age six.

At anchor, we often fix the spinnaker pole over the water, attach a line, and let the girls swing off the deck into the water.  Before long, they gave up on the ladder altogether, and were climbing back up the line again, monkey-style.

Out… …and up again.

Often the girls package the activity around a game of some sort – pirates, princess acrobats, princess-pirate acrobats. They have missed climbing since we have been in the marina. Call me a rotten mother, but if my kids are going to climb, I’d prefer they had a soft landing. So their games have moved in other directions.

But imagine their excitement when the circus came to town. And not just any circus – acrobats who perform on their own boat.  For the past few days, La Loupiote has been in our marina, performing two shows a day. And, so far, we have been to all of them.

The early show is aimed at kids.  A couple of bumbling sailors work on their boat, skying halyards, knocking each other over, and generally taking a slapstick approach to life aboard.  The kids around me at the first performance laughed themselves sick.

Of course, all this fun led to the inevitable conversation:
“Mom,” said Stylish, “if they can do tricks up high on the lines, why can’t I do that, too?”
“Because their Mom is nicer than yours,” I said.
“Mom.”
“You show me your transcripts and degree from Circus School, and then we’ll talk.”
“Mo-om!”

But I’m not all mean, you know.

The girls are resigned to waiting until we can set the spinnaker pole out again, but I don’t think I’ve heard the end of the acrobats. Rumour has it these people offer lessons aboard their boat.

I wonder if they teach adults, too?

Ben & Teresa Carey Return to the 59º North Podcast

Fri, 2014-05-23 13:46

Ben & Teresa Carey Return! Andy spoke with Ben & Teresa from his couch in Lancaster PA. No, they were not on the couch – they were in Maine! In a sweet little cafe while their new boat was anchored offshore! And that’s much of what this episode is about – their new-to-them Norseman 447, how they decided on buying it, what it was like getting down to Panama (the country!) to bring her home, and the adventures they had along the way. Of course Andy, Ben & Teresa take a few detours along the way, talking about sailing philosophy, shipwrecks at sea, this that and the other thing, but that’s what old sailing friends do when they haven’t caught up in a while. Check out Ben & Teresa’s new adventures – and sign up for their sail-training courses this summer! – on morsealpha.com, or on their new oceancourier.org conservation-media site. Thanks guys!

Sparking Young Minds, and the un-Young TooEducational Tall Ships

Thu, 2014-05-22 12:04

By Kimball Livingston Posted May 22, 2014

Photo by Jerry Soto

Here’s a stat: In the ports of the USA there are 200 educational training vessels. Some of them can be called tall ships. Others are just out there, doing good work.

More are on the way.

The superb Maritime Museum of San Diego is building a full-sized, fully functional, and historically-accurate-to-the-best-of-their-knowledge replica of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s flagship, San Salvador. Building it, appropriately enough, at Spanish Landing Park alongside North Harbor Drive. Traveling between Shelter Island and Lindbergh Field, you surely wouldn’t fail to notice . . .

There’s still plenty to do, but it’s easy enough to imagine that there’s a ship in there. This image is out of date but interesting for the construction details . . . from UT San Diego

.

Coming from a different corner, farther north in California, there’s Alan Olson in Sausalito with his Educational Tall Ship project, one man’s very (very) personal vision of a wooden school ship “that will last a hundred years” and proof that if you start building it, they will come. The volunteers. The believers. The fellow dreamers.

But.

Understand, Olson has built before. He’s a qualified master who knows the ocean. And his other great undertaking, the Call of the Sea foundation, is maxed out at 5,000 people aboard, under way, every year—most of them school children in their first taste of the waterways and ocean science—and he needs more capacity.

At 100 feet on deck and a sparred length of 132 feet, the brigantine to be christened with the name of San Francisco Bay’s master shipbuilder of the 19th century, Matthew Turner, will be able to carry 12,000 people a year. That’s the ship in the rendering that leads this piece.

The keelson is already ready. Thirty-eight of forty-two frames are already laminated. The lead keel arrives today, Thursday, May 22. All 86,000 pounds of it. But don’t worry. It comes in two pieces.

The Matthew Turner will have a bronze floor tying keel to ship, with engineering from Tri-Coastal Marine, which operates in CAD, not through lofting, even though their mission is “the design, construction and preservation of historic ships,” and they have a history of taking on heroic projects. “They are leaders in this kind of boatbuilding,” Olson says. And that is the basis for his hundred-year prediction.

I imagine Alan wouldn’t mind if I share a few facts about Matthew Turner, who with 228 vessels—most of them built in Benecia, California, on the Sacramento River, upstream from San Francisco Bay—was this nation’s most prolific builder of wooden ships. In the wake of a family tragedy, Turner quit his native Ohio and found success in the gold fields of California, then traveled to New York, bought himself a schooner, and returned to San Francisco Bay to go into the shipping business. With a partner, he grew a business with a handful of ships and, as a captain, was twice honored by foreign governments. Queen Victoria (you know she was English, right?) presented him with a gold-mounted spyglass for his part in saving the lives of British sailors. The government of Norway presented him with a silver service award for his rescue of a Norwegian vessel in danger of foundering at Honolulu.

When Matthew Turner turned to shipbuilding, he defied the wisdom of his moment, which is a fact that strikes me as strange. The wisdom, not his defiance. I say that, because what he did in 1868 was design the brig Nautilus with a fine entry and broad stern sections, knowingly echoing what had already proved successful in yachts. As in, the schooner America that was a winner against the Brits (with their forms of cods head-mackerel tail) fourteen years prior.

My point is, nobody knew?

I’ll stop. There’s plenty out there about Matthew Turner for those who go searching.

Alan Olson’s 70-foot brigantine, Stone Witch (construction to launch, 1971-1977) sailed 40,000 miles under his command, conducting education and outreach, and also served a stint as the flagship of Greenpeace. Which should be an adequate introduction to the following excerpt from the ETS web site—

“By combining technologies from the 19th and 21st centuries—skipping over the petroleum era—ETS will become a unique teaching tool that can inspire appreciation for past boat building designs while utilizing innovative technology solutions to construct a truly green sailing ship.

“The basic regenerative electric propulsion concept is simple. Instead of diesel engines, the ship is propelled by AC electric motors directly connected to the propeller shafts and drawing energy from large battery banks. When the ship is sailing, the energy of the passing water causes the propellers to rotate, which, in turn, causes the electric motors to become generators that re-charge the batteries onboard. Significant electrical energy is created as sailing speeds increase.

“New advances in propellers, electric propulsion/regeneration motors, battery technologies and electronic controllers make this possible and are available today. ETS can, in fact, operate on a carbon neutral basis. Energy to run our ship will come from regenerative power under sail, onboard generators fueled with recycled vegetable oil, and dockside charging from solar panels and wind generators. Day-to-day operations are designed to minimize energy and water use with a waste management system that will repurpose, recycle and reduce waste. By using LED lighting, induction cooking and low energy navigation and appliances, we will use less than 50kWh per day. Producing and storing enough energy from just four to six hours of sailing can achieve energy self-sufficiency.”

The Educational Tall Ship, the Matthew Turner, will have a 1,000-mile range on standby generators. Nothing is taken for granted. The build project has two paid shipwrights and as many as eight skilled volunteers per day, enough volunteer labor to materially lower the total budget.

“A ship is one of the best educational tools available,” Olson says. “Building a ship keeps knowledge and skills alive.” Build it of wood, he says, and you can give back more than you take: “We are using Forest Stewardship certified Oregon white oak and Douglas fir, sustainably harvested, and we intend to plant more trees than we take.”

I think it’s called, giving back.

And the most active boat in Northern California is—

The Call of the Sea Foundation’s schooner Seaward, with a passenger list of mostly schoolkids and a science program attuned to the fourth and fifth grade curricula. You could take a bucket of bay water into a classroom and look at plankton under a microscope, but that’s nothing compared to trolling up your own, in fresh air, with the deck alive beneath you—

The Seaward is also available for adult charter in the USA and, in the winter, in Mexico. That helps keep the show on the road. By the way, it’s a bargain . . .

And this comes next . . .

Celebrating National Maritime Day with a flag giveaway (up to $50)

Thu, 2014-05-22 06:00

I love flags. Growing up, my family had a rotating parade of flags, and changing the flag in front of our house was a memorable ritual. Living on a boat and cruising mean lots of opportunities to keep indulging my love of flags- from our ensign, to international courtesy flags, to the occasional burgee or full-dress parade styling. Now, I get to share it!

Gettysburg Flag Works is giving me the chance to say THANK YOU to the followers of Sailing with Totem. They’re gifting a flag for a giveaway. Readers make my day again and again with great questions, comments, and emails. It’s a gift for me to know I can help you reach your cruising dream, answer your questions about what it’s like or how to do it, or just offer a bit of vicarious living. Thanks go Gettysburg Flag Works, I can offer something back! This giveaway is for any one flag from their website, valued up to $50.

Why are they doing this? Well, Gettysburg Flag Works is run by Mike Cronin, who happens to be an avid boater. He sails in upstate NY (that’s Mike, below, demonstrating that any day on the water is a good day!). Turns out he’s not the only member of his flag-making team who is passionate about boating, and they were inspired by National Maritime Day – yes, that’s today, May 22, every year - to connect their enthusiasm for boating and flags.

Going cruising? I’ll never forget the first time we hoisted an international flag under the starboard spreader as cruisers. We’d put up The Maple Leaf many times as Salish Sea boaters, but raising a Mexican flag as we prepared to enter Ensenada had a whole new meaning: grand adventures, and many nautical miles ahead. It was pretty flimsy, though, and wore out after just a few months. Gettysburg’s 12×18″ country flags are the perfect size, and their canvas reinforcing and sturdy grommets mean they’ll take you through a season of trade wind flying in the Bahamas.

Need a new ensign? I really like flying the US flag at the stern (especially since the maritime officer in Australia asked if ‘WA’ on our transom was for Western Australia…not Washington), but the elements give them a beating. Our current flag wasn’t well made, and is wearing too quickly. Besides a super tough flag, Gettysburg also has a great little guide to help you figure out the right size for your boat length, based on whether you will put it up on a powerboat or sailboat. It’s different! Didja know that? But on to the…

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Rules: I’m a big fan of keeping things simple.
1. You must have a US or Canadian shipping address to be eligible.
2. Hopefully, you’ll smile at someone, and there will be two happier people!
3. Some legalese terms and conditions. Unavoidable.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Entries will be taken until 11:59pm Pacific time on Monday, June 2… plenty of time to get a flag before National Flag Day, June 14!

Please consider sharing this with your friends. More smiles in the world!

  • facebook
  • twitter