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FLASHAmerica’s Cup Competition in Indiana!

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-04-28 17:50

A scoop from the News Star

RUSTON — Members of the Louisiana Tech University Debate Team earned a place as one of 16 teams in the world to compete in the America’s Cup 2014 tournament, hosted earlier this month at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.

The team of Hannah Schilling, a senior political science and journalism major from Bossier City, and Samuel Hathorn, a junior education major from Alexandria, competed on behalf of Louisiana Tech against teams from institutions such as the U.S. Air Force Academy, California Polytechnic Institute (Caltech), Loyola University and Stanford University.

“The intelligence and motivation of Louisiana Tech’s debate team is inspiring,” said Shane Puckett, instructor of speech and director of debate at Louisiana Tech. “Tech’s team routinely competes against some of the best and brightest minds in education today, and they do well. This has to be a testament to the team’s tenacity and hard work ethic. I’m proud to be their coach.”

The America’s Cup tournament was held in an international style of debate called, “Worlds.” In this style, a two-person team receives a topic and position 15 minutes before the debate starts. Although Louisiana Tech advanced to the quarterfinals, the team said being chosen as one of the elite 16 to compete in this tournament was most impressive.

To continue reading about this new development in America’s Cup competition click here

Transatlantic (Ladies) Training for the Volvo

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-04-28 14:33

As found at volvooceanrace.com, the women of Team SCA are making tracks, Lanzarote to Newport, R.I.

Onboard reporter Corinna Halloran tells it this way:

Day 2: Transatlantic Blog

Imagine riding a wicked fast motorbike at night. You’re cruising along down a windy road. Suddenly, it starts to rain, not just a nice easy rain but a relentless rain – the kind that floods roads.

And then you’re blind folded. You cannot get off the motorbike; you are propelling yourself faster and faster down hills and bends, into the dark night with water all around.

This is what it was like sailing downwind last night in 26 knots. Completely exposed to all of the elements, maneuvering through a gybe completely blind.

Sam was stationed at the helm. Her focus was completely on getting the boat safely down waves. She couldn’t see to ensure no one was injured whilst stacking sails from windward to leeward. This process can be a challenge – think carrying long, wet, potato sacks over your shoulder – but you’re trying to not to get hurt, or worse, fall off the boat as it screams down waves doing 22, 23, 24, 25 knots.

The girls knew the night was going to be tricky. During dinner, Stacey made a good point: we were certainly jumping off into the deep end! No chance to hide now! With the wind and sea state only increasing during the night, the girls needed to be focused.

Staying focused, Sam said, would be the key to being safe on a night like last night. All maneuvres, even the smallest of ones, needed to be thoughtful and done with the utmost concentration.

Once dawn broke, we continued to see much of the same conditions from the night before, except now we could see. Over the day we had to gybe a few more times before putting in our final, multi-day gybe shortly before dinner.

Abby was pretty happy with how the first 24 hours had gone – despite the tough conditions – they had sent it.

Team SCA transatlantic crew – Lanzarote-Newport
1. Sally Barkow (USA) – Helm / Trimmer
2. Carolijn Brouwer (NED) – Navigator / Helm
3. Dee Caffari (GBR) – Helm / Pit
4. Sophie Ciszek (AUS) – Bow
5. Sam Davies (GBR) – Watch Captain / Person In Charge
6. Abby Ehler (GBR) – Boat Captain/ Pit
7. Stacey Jackson (AUS) – Bow
8. Annie Lush (GBR) – Helm / Trimmer
9. Elodie-Jane Mettraux (SUI) – Helm / Trimmer
10. Justine Mettraux (SUI) – Helm / Trimmer
11. Liz Wardley (AUS) – Watch Captain
Libby Greenhalgh (GBR) – Navigator (on trial)
Corinna Halloran (USA) – OBR (on trial)

Saving a Folkboat for Us Folks

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-04-28 11:47

In which a Folksong hits a new note

By Terri Watson Posted April 28, 2014

The ad said, “One repair and she is ready to race. $5000 firm.”

The slide began when I asked, “So what is that one repair?”

My mother taught me better, the woman who counseled me to never, ever go to the SPCA just to visit the animals. The owner said, “Go take a look for yourself.”

I met Folkboat US95 tied to the dock at what was then Nelson’s boatyard in Alameda, where she had been taken for a checkup by Fred Andersen, the San Francisco Bay Folkboat fleet’s resident wooden boat doc. A winter storm was blowing in, and Folksong tugged fretfully at her dock lines as I stepped aboard. The chop slapping the hull immediately inspired me to envision this boat beating smartly up the cityfront, come spring.


Water slapping the hull.

Water running through the cockpit.


The big car battery in the cabin, tethered to a bilge pump discharging over the side, hinted rather strongly that all was not well.

A quick inspection confirmed what I suspected. This once-proud, race-winning woodie chosen in 1975 to make the mold for Svend Svendsen’s locally-produced fiberglass Folkboats—that is to say, the boat that ensured the survival of Nordic Folkboats as a class on San Francisco Bay—had once been tied to a dock for years, going nowhere. The current owner, over a couple of years, had put money into upgrading racing hardware, but there were issues with the hull that had needed attention long before he bought her.

How bad could it be?

Not bad enough to stop us, apparently, or to leave us with any regrets.

Even in the dusk, I could see a golfball-sized opening where Folksong’s transom met the top of the stern post. The slapping waves were pouring in water at an alarming rate. The bilge pump was busy. A stream from the bow, and sodden planks, highlighted a chronic leak somewhere around the waterline. The mast collar on the deck was lifted up out of the wood, and the wet decking below indicated that a long-term freshwater leak had taken its toll. The rest looked easy enough to fix – some scrapes, a cracked tiller, broken and loose floor boards and planks on the interior. A quick check with Fred the next day confirmed that structural repairs alone would exceed “$5000 firm.” Time to walk away. And then . . .

An idea formed. My partner, like myself an avid crewmember in the Folkboat fleet, had often bemoaned the fact that we really wanted our own boat. We were caught up in the world of enthusiasts who race these handsome, lapstraked 25-footers born in Sweden in the 1940s. But the fiberglass versions—Folksong’s very progeny—were out of range. A birthday was coming up. How cool would it be to give Kimi a Folkboat? Especially if I could get it for free, almost, and then have Fred do just basic structural pieces. We could do the rest. I heard the words, faintly: “Beware of a free boat. Especially a free wooden boat.”

What’s in a logo? © Lyons Imaging

As we finished the hull prep, the painting loomed large. In Fred’s world, painting is dead simple. He smiled and encouraged us so that we could carry on in our world, and gave us advice when asked, and checked in to see when we might want to schedule our launch. I said “two days from now.” He smiled. He and Kimi agreed on a date more than a week out. I worried we would hit the water and be on our way in a frenzy for the start of our first race, sandwiches and sailing instructions and sheets in hand. But I was surrounded by people who wanted to do the job right.

Painting the hull went surprisingly well. Fred and Kimi just said no when I proposed to buy porch paint, and we ended up with Pettit’s “Bikini Blue.” I think even Fred was surprised at how well it came out. As I’ve always maintained, there’s something to be said for using the best paint.

On the day of launch (exactly one month after I met Folksong at the dock), we christened her with a shot of Aquavit, Scandinavia’s traditional toasting drink, and shouts of “Skoal!” We were surprised to find we kind of liked Aquavit. There are rumors that the bottom of the bottle tastes even better.

We stepped the mast, re-assembled the rigging, and headed Folksong to her new berth just a few days before our first race. None of the running rigging had been worked on, and we sailed that race Cunningham-free with a set of lightly-used sails from Denmark that we had never seen in action—though we did change out the numbers the night before in the otherwise-elegant Chart Room of the St. Francis Yacht Club. After hours. Discretion, you know. We have since spent time replacing old lines and re-tooling old systems, and currently we have our sail controls all labeled with blue 3M varnishing tape. We walk around and look at other Folkboats, and get ideas, and make changes. We ask other fleet members for advice, and we get it by the truckload. We enter races on faith.

Proof that persistence pays. © Lyons Imaging

There’s something we were told the first day we crewed in a Folkboat (USA 116, Emma) for our friends Danielle Dignan and Dan Zuiches. They said, “When you pick the boat you decide you want to race, it isn’t about the fleet, it’s about the FLEET.”

They meant that it is all about the people.

Not only our San Francisco Bay fleet, but new friends in Europe—some that we know only by email, phone, and mutual acquaintance—have stepped in to share what they know, and provide what they can to help us in our efforts to keep US95 sailing.

It takes a village to race a Folkboat.

Our villagers at play . . .

Folkboats on the San Francisco cityfront. © Lyons Imaging


From the Editor: It is possible, if not likely, that your mother told you, life is full of surprises. If she taught you well, it should be no shock to learn that Folksong has yet another owner as the Nordic Folkboat fleet comes this week to its first-of-the-season Wednesday Night Woodies race on the cityfront of San Francisco. Think of it as a happy-sad coda. You have a boat, and you’re treating her as well as you can, when along comes someone with superb credentials who offers a square deal, if only you will let him take the boat into his own hands and bless her to a fare the well. Surprise, your darling wins a scholarship to Harvard. Do you keep her down on the farm, or give her a kiss and wish her on her way?

With that, I return you to our author, Terri Watson

For our time with Folksong, our brief but special time, our thanks go out to many people. First, to Peter Lyons of Lyons Imaging for the photographs seen here.

And with the horrible fear of forgetting one, or many, I will nevertheless put this down—

We owe thanks (in no set order} to:
Fred Andersen, US74 Filur, for high-quality work, great value, encouragement and wonderful teaching. And Hilary and Kate, for supporting Fred’s long hours on the project.
Vince Spohn and Cecily Jordan, Ex-US95, for generosity in making the transition possible.
Chris Herrman, US108, Thea, for encouragement, information, and references. That, and beer. And tequila. And introducing us to a great mixer.
Tom Reed, Jr. US111, for a great set of tuning tips and a chance to crew and learn.
Brock DeLappe, US121, Faith, for encouragement to pursue this, crew opps, and film.
Danielle Dignan and Dan Zuiches, Ex US-74 and Ex US-116, for the donation of a nearly new sail set and showing us the right attitude on the race course from the start. And a weekend of crewing and boat fixing (all at the same time!).
Peter Jeal, US113, for advice, donation of parts, and assistance pulling and setting a mast at the dock in a few hours to deal with a stuck halyard. Also for setting us up with some sails, giving up a Sunday to teach the use of the gin pole, and constant encouragement and availability. And handfuls of free, otherwise-expensive hardware. And always being there to help – whatever, whenever.
The Wilson’s US106, Windandsea, for getting this idea started last year and encouraging us to be willing to try it.
Mike Goebels, US109, Elsie, for focusing us on the actual costs of getting into the fleet, and working towards solutions.
Eric Kaiser, US122, Josephine, who has pressed us for years to jump into the fleet as owners, and for the loan of a whisker pole mid-Woodies, even though it was a prized antique that his dad had made, and it had tremendous value to him.
David and Evie, once a two-Folkboat family, provided pictorial evidence of US95’s repair efforts at the dock during the 2008 Internationals involving a cordless drill, deck screws, and most of the fleet standing on the stern to lift the suspect area out of the water.
Dieter Loibner, Author, “The Folkboat Story” for his encouragement, history, and great company on a day in Jack London Square.
Mickey Waldear, ex winning skipper with US95, for setting such high expectations for the boat and for a gracious welcome after a Saturday race.
Theis Palm, North Sails, Denmark, for advice on tuning to our new set, as well as ideas for future consideration..
Louise Harboe/Hans , Denmark, for a great deal on a set of good sails.
Ralf Morgan, KKMI, 19__ Season Champion, for talking a good hour about jumpers and sheaves, and for lots of great rigging advice.
Paul Kaplan, KKMI, S/V Santana, for convincing me that it was okay to be bitten by the wooden boat bug, even if it didn’t make any sense. And for providing concrete support in our malady when needed.
Chris Kaplan, City Yachts, for a wonderful shuttle on the morning of the sail home, as well as an unexpected bottle of champagne and a great set of photos of US95’s first sail with us.

The list goes on. T.W.


Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-04-25 19:37

Someone robbed my boat last night.

I woke up at about 1:30am because I heard noises.  Someone was approaching the V-berth.  I thought one of the girls must be coming to see me – nighttime visits are not unheard of around here.  I registered that whoever it was had a flashlight, which was odd, but not impossible.
“Honey?  Are you okay out there?” I called.
Scuffle, scuffle.
As the intruder turned and started pounding up the companionway, I came fully awake and realized what was happening.  And I started screaming my head off.
“Help!  Help!  There is someone on my boat!  Please help me!”  I jumped out of my hatch and kept screaming as the man raced away down the dock.  The otherwise silent, still dock.

Nobody came.

I called the police.  I stood on deck, trying to make my voice stop shaking, trying to summon French vocabulary that I never use – to steal, to flee.

A neighbour appeared.  He and his wife heard me, and came to help.  They made me tea and sat with me while I waited for the police.  He called the marina security office, and helped me talk to the guard.  And I sat in the cockpit and shook.

I made a list of all of the cards in my wallet.  I called the bank to cancel everything.  I prayed that Skype wouldn’t drop my connection until I was done.

It was 3am when I finished, and I felt like I was never going to sleep again.  But, scared or not, I couldn’t just surf the internet all night.  I had to try to sleep.

Weak batteries be damned, I turned on all the lights before heading back to bed.  As though someone were still hiding in the corner.  And there, lo and behold, was my wallet, abandoned in the middle of the salon table.  All of the cash and change was gone, but everything else remained – credit cards, baby pictures, scrawled notes to myself.  And I started to laugh a little.  Of course, now that I had cancelled everything, the wallet was there all along.

Lights out.  Well, most lights out.  I went to bed with a flashlight in my hand and the 32V light burning above my bed.  Eventually I slept.  Lightly, jumping at every noise.  But it was something.

This morning I went around to talk to my neighbours.  Everyone was shocked and upset.  And 3/4 boats had woken to a noise, but when it didn’t continue, they chalked it up to rowdy people and went back to sleep.  No one else had anything missing.

This is our third brush with crime on our cruising adventure.  The second time, I had my bag stolen at the beach in Cartagena.  And the first event happened only days after we bought Papillon: the outboard motor was stolen off the back deck in Florida.  So.  Although onlookers express the greatest fears for our safety when we visit developing nations, I see that we have only had issues in urban, fairly first world environments.  Interesting.

So let’s talk reactions.  I have lived a very lucky life: this is my first real brush with scary crime.  And you never know how you are going to react to a situation until it happens.

My first reaction is that I am grateful the whole thing went down the way it did.  This… this… I’m having trouble choosing a family-friendly term here, so let’s use “thief” and you can replace that as you like.  This thief didn’t lay a finger on me or my girls.  That is 100% all I care about.  And it is frankly what scares me the most – this thief was on my boat while I was sleeping, walking around my personal space and poking through my stuff.  If things had gone differently, would I have been able to scream long and loud enough for someone to take the noise seriously?  I felt safe in the marina with neighbours a few feet away.  Now I feel like I might as well be on a thousand acres all alone.  But back to gratitude: this was the best possible outcome.  Yes, I lost some money, but nobody got hurt.  Scared, but not hurt.

So what do I do now?  What will I change?  What should I do to be safe?  More accurately, what should I do to feel safe?  Because I think safety is pretty much an illusion.  Yes, you do your best, but sometimes that tweaker is going to grab your cash.  That is the hard reality of life.

Back in the Caribbean, we came across a number of boats with guns aboard.  People hung signs from the companionway like: This boat protected by a .357 Magnum.  Now that I’ve been robbed, now that I’ve had my space violated, I have to say: I still don’t want a gun aboard.  Leaving aside the constant hassle gun owners have with Customs, what would a gun have done for me last night?  When I woke up, I thought it was one of my kids.  To shoot this thief, I would had to have the gun right beside me and ready to go the moment I woke up on spec that something bad was going on.  And if he had had more sinister motives and had snuck up on me instead of rooting through my purse, could I possibly have woken up, fully understood and assessed the situation in that millisecond, put that gun in my hand and used it in time?  No.  I still don’t think guns are worth the risk to my family.

Now I have to take a breath and regroup.  Decide how to balance reasonable protection versus fear.  Choose how best to fulfill my responsibilities to my kids.  Maybe I’ll start with a motion detector hooked up to a light or a siren – something to scare your casual thief away.  I’ve already turned down the offer of a guard dog for a few nights.  And I’ll think about what really needs to be done when my head is clearer.

But right now, I just want some sleep.

DUTCH BARGE RACING: Demolition Sailing

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-04-25 18:04

Who says you need a modern go-fast boat with foils to make sailing really exciting? Check out these video clips of traditional Dutch barges, called skutsjes, which were originally used for hauling cargo in Friesland and are still actively raced today. What blows me away in the first one are the guys to leeward with the sounding poles. Looks like a much dicier job than bowman! Note also the major TV sports coverage. Very impressive that. You can tell the Dutch have their priorities straight. Also… there’s a nice collision at 3:21.

Funny thing about Dutch, I tried translating the YouTube video description in a couple of different online translation programs, and Dutch translated into English looks just like Dutch in the original Dutch. Maybe someone who speaks Dutch can explain that to me.

Meanwhile, this viddy has a fantastic collision. One skutsje literally falls down on top of another one:

No, they don’t carry any ballast, and yes, they evidently do capsize with some frequency. The next clip has a nice demonstration of how it’s done and how you recover (starts at about 3:00). But please, if you don’t have a large tugboat handy, do not try this at home.

Finally, here’s an excerpt from a documentary film about the sport that was made back in the 1960s. Complete with subtitles. It gives a good sense of the tradition behind these boats.

And if you want to find out still more about traditional Dutch yachts, you can flashback into the WaveTrain archive and check this post on Hermann Goering’s famous botter jacht Groote Beer.

Ashley Rogers Podcast: Preparing for the Solo Trans-Tasman Race

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-04-25 10:05

Ashley Rogers is an old friend of mine from my Broadreach days, when I worked out of St. Martin on liveaboard sail-and dive-training expeditions. Ashley was a SCUBA instructor and we got to know each other at Broadreach’s ‘Pad’ during the 2009 summer. Though she was living and teaching diving aboard sailing boats – and actually sailing between isalnds and dive sites – she hated it! Originally from Guatemala, Ashley now lives in New Zealand and spoke to me via Skype about how she got into sailing after reading the classic book ‘Dove’ by Robin Lee Graham, and decided she wanted to give it a go. Now she’s preparing her boat for the 2018 edition of the Solo Trans Tasman race, a big event held every four years that sees sailors cross the Tasman Sea from New Zealand to Queensland, Australia. The 2014 edition of the race just got underway on April 22, so folow the fleet here! Ashley will be only the 5th woman to ever attempt the feat. Follow her on her Facebook page, The Solo Challenge.

Mail call: especially pawsome deliveries!

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-04-24 06:55

Mail! It’s something we rarely get, unless it’s brought by visitors; our changeable routing and backwater destinations make it difficult. Spending a more extended time in one place (wow, almost two months already!) means we’ve had a chance to actually have things sent to us. That alone is kind of a novelty, but two special deliveries in a month? Unprecedented! (Honey- the new batteries, and the order from Defender- they do not count. sorry.)

The first was a valentine, sent from the other side of the Pacific by my friend Charlotte. Charlotte, like me, lives in a digital world- but as a cruiser, appreciates the rare touch of personal mail. I tried to remember the last time I got a letter in the mail, and I can’t. It’s been a very long time. That her card held a sweet note with a picture her gorgeous girls in it made me a little teary when I opened it up. Naturally, this was also in the marina office (no way was I waiting on a dinghy right back to the boat!), so now the whole office knows that I’m a little sappy. That’s fine, and it’s been reinforced by my reaction this week after learning the receptionist got engaged (trust me, if you saw that pretty ring on her lavishly hennaed hands, you’d get misty too) so they’re used to me now…

The next came special delivery with stamps from France. France! (Niall immediately tore these off for his own collection, he’s kind of a Francophile. I have no idea how this happened but suspect our friends on Merlin.) Not only that, but it was delivered to the kids. That’s REALLY special and uncommon!

The kids couldn’t wait, either, and opened it up immediately. Tucked carefully in the padded envelope was a copy of Bailey Boat Cat: Adventures of a Feline Afloat. Sweetly inscribed and pawtographed by Bailey and his humans, Louise and James, they sat in the main cabin and read it cover to cover. Together. In perfect peace and harmony. (This hasn’t always been the case lately…) 

our friend Maia with favorite ship’s cat Charlie of sv Ceilydh

Bailey presents an entertaining view of life afloat on his human’s Tayana 37, Nocturne. Paging through it myself once the kids were willing to share, I loved his clever bits of Whisker Wisdom (“To be curious on a boat is to have the world at your paws”) and nautical observations.

A tour through this book shares an intuitive look at what it’s like to live on a boat through Bailey’s feline eyes. It explores his world on Nocturne without fancy jargon, but plenty of little truths, an abundance of clever wit, and a large dose of pawsomeness. In the process, it actually offers a really nice view for the humans who wonder what this boat living thing is all about. Turning the last page, I even- dare I say it?- I even found myself thinking that maybe someday we should have a ship’s cat.

This would be a big step, since our idea of “pets on boats” only started a year ago with a wild gecko (Steve prefers accepts hand-fed snacks brought domain in the forward head, and has allowed a second pet on Totem- our dwarf hamster, Jiaozi). Thanks Bailey – we’ll just keep it our little secret for now.

Whisker Wisdom: Take a look around: life is pawesome! Yes, it is. You can grab a copy of Bailey Boat Cat: Adventures of a Feline Afloat in print or for your Kindle on Amazon.

Cat people know it makes us purrrfectly pleased when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Smartgauge battery monitor, RC proclaims “paradigm shift”!

Sail Feed - Wed, 2014-04-23 16:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 23, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

If you like sailing with some electronics running, or just anchoring without a generator, you’re probably very interested in the State of Charge (SoC) of your battery banks. Voltmeters, however, only hint at what’s going on, and true battery monitors require careful calibration and the installation of shunts, but still tend to get out of whack over time. Well, darned if the great RC Collins of Compass Marine didn’t go to extraordinary lengths to prove that the Smartgauge — a little known product that’s been around for almost a decade — can somehow accurately measure SoC without calibration and without a shunt, and yet still get even more accurate over time. Apparently when it shows your Charge at 92%, as above, your battery bank really is at 92% capacity…

RC Collins is knowledgable on many boating subjects, but I first wrote about his Compass Marine site in regard to a highly detailed 2011 article titled Installing a Battery Monitor. You can learn a lot about traditional amp hour counters in that article, particularly the popular Victron BMV-602 which Collins also used as one reference in the elaborate Smartgauge test setup you see in these photos. Let’s note that unlike the Smartgauge the BMV and other monitors with shunts can display realtime current use — which I found useful for understanding Gizmo’s power needs when I first got her — and can also calculate remaining amp hours in addition to charge percentage, at least theoretically. The Link 1000 Gizmo came with seemed very accurate about actual current use, but nearly drove me bonkers with inaccurate amp hour info (until I was calmed down by battery-smart readers).

A Smartgauge only delivers voltage and SoC (and voltage for a second battery bank) but, wow, it seems to do that amazingly well. While I highly encourage you to read the full Compass Marine Smartgauge review, know that after four months of testing with all four major battery types, RC wrote “If I had three thumbs this product would get all three!” Reading the full test is also a lesson in how difficult battery monitoring really is. In order to calibrate the testing, Collins built a system able to properly measure batteries against their 20 hour capacity rating. Gizmo’s “245 A.H. @ 20Hr” AGM 8D batteries, for instance, should each be able to deliver 12.25 amps per hour for 20 hours while going from full charge to 10.5 volts at about 77 degrees. But these batteries — now at least five years old — no longer have such capacity (if they ever did) and the difficulty of making an accurate 20 hour test would be strike number one against the accuracy of a traditional amp counting monitor (followed by Peukert’s law and other nuances that make this subject so complex).

In fact, RC sometimes had to run three complete 20 hour discharge/recharge tests to determine the capacity of used batteries, and that’s when the Smartgauge really started blowing his mind. Even though it only sees voltage, via a pair of 14 gauge wires going directly to the battery terminals, the Smartgauge usually came up with an accurate State of Charge percentage before Collins and all his precision equipment could even determine accurate capacity. He notes that the device can’t handle Lithium batteries and is less accurate when a bank is being charged, but in discharge mode he believes it’s more accurate than the two traditional shunt sensors he compared it to even though they were painstakingly calibrated (and won’t stay that way on their own). And on top of it all, RC manages to includes some battery geek humor; for cripes sake, if you do act on the results of his hard work, buy your Smartgauge at Compass Marine.

As much as I appreciate RC’s testing and writing, I do feel like an idiot for having had a sample Smartgauge for years but never getting around to testing it. I even installed it on Gizmo’s power panel last spring but then got sidetracked when I realized that I could use the already wired Link shunt with the wonderful CZone Signal Interface (so SoC and live current load are on NMEA 2000, though of course that setup needs better calibration). Another possible test this season is the Victron Color Control QX discussed here, which could conceivably monitor Gizmo’s inverter/charger, batteries (via the latest BMV 700 series) and even the solar panels, with N2K output too.

Finally, I’d like to apologize for an extremely delayed product test to Smartgauge designer Chris Gibbons (though I certainly won’t come close to RC’s super thorough review). The SmartGauge Electronics website is an interesting place to visit but I’m not sure much has happened there since Merlin Power Systems acquired Smartgauge in 2009. At Merlin you can see some of Gibbon’s other power products like SmartBank split charging, and note that Balmar now distributes Smartgauge in the U.S. (reportedly with excellent technical support). But it’s at the original site where you can learn about the Smartgauge test boat — a “trad style” 70-foot narrow boat — along with neat details like how the gauge’s alarm relay outputs can be used with SmartBank to automate a battery locker venting fan. “Smart” is a badly overused word in modern electronic products, but maybe not this time.

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More Baba blog Part two

Sail Feed - Wed, 2014-04-23 15:45

The Baba Story         Part two


Once again: If my memory fails I’ll make something up that sounds right and makes me look good.

When we left the story Bob Berg had quit the TV station and was working full time as a broker. I think the brokerage was called Flying Dutchman, started by my old buddy Will Eickholt.  They were selling Tayana 37′s with good regularity.


One day Bob came in the office and said he had an idea for a new boat. He wanted a 30′ version of the Tayana 37. It should be a heavy little boat with the emphasis on the interior layout. Bob already had the interior laid out in his mind down to the last detail. My work on this layout was simply to draft of Bob’s ideas. So while I would love to take credit for the interior of the Baba 30 I can’t. It’s all Bob Berg. The office joke was, when you open a drawer on the Baba 30 inside it you’ll find another little drawer. Bob didn’t let a cubic inch go unused. I was skeptical.


But I’m not going to design a hull without doing my very best to make it a good performing boat. That’s a challenge with 12,000 lbs. on 30′LOA. I essentially used similar shapes to those in the Tayana 37. The Baba 30 would be a chunky monkey but curvaceous. I’m sitting here now, at my computer, staring up at the Baba 30 half model on my wall. I’m trying to figure out what In did that was “special”. Can’t see it myself. But we’ll get into the performance of the 30 later. On my wall the half model of the Tayana 37 is right above the half model of the Baba 30. There are more similarities than differences.


We tore into the design of the 30 and before long the boat was being built in Taiwan at a new yard, one I had never heard of, Ta Shing , Mandarin for “Big New”. I have always translated Ta Shing as “Big Star” “Shing” meaning “star”. But I was recently corrected. I hate looking stupid. With the build well underway Bob thought I should make a trip to the yard to check on the progress. I met Bob in Taiwan and he was accompanied by his inspector, Tim Ellis. Tim, an Englishman about my age lived in Taiwan and really knew the ropes.  We met early in the morning at the hotel in Taipei and off we drove almost the length of Taiwan to the new yard in Tainan.


Ta Shing was located down a narrow lane in a series of co-joined brown brick buildings that looked less than impressive. The approaching lane was narrow and I had to move chickens out of my way to get to the front door of the yard. The actual Boatbuilding area of the yard was small and dark. There was the Baba 30 to one side and a quarter tonner being built for a Japanese client on the other side. I just stared at the 30. It looked to be perfect in every way. I was blown away by the quality and level of finish. It was a handsome little hooker all dressed up with teak everywhere. But that was Bob’s style. i.e. put teak on everything. Keep in mind that this build was at a time when labor was cheap in Taiwan. I would question a client on a labor intensive detail and get the reply, “Forget labor cost. It’s nothing.” So, here were the first two Ta Shing boats I ever saw. Two boats that could not be more different, an IOR quarter tonner and a very heavy little double ender. Both built beautifully.


Everybody was happy. The yard wanted to take Me, Bob and Tim to dinner. The problem was that we had made other dinner plans back in Taipei. This was a problem. The solution was lunch with the guys from the yard. Off we went for a “modest” lunch. The Taiwanese are not good at doing modest meals. I was the guest of honor and along with about six men from the yard we sat down to an extravagant feast in a private room at a nice restaurant. These plush, private rooms were common in better restaurants in Taiwan. The room layout was simple, a series of big armchairs lining the four walls and a big circular dining table in the middle.


The Taiwanese don’t drink during a meal the way we do. If my observations are correct the Taiwanese only take a drink after they have toasted the guest. They employ an unfair tactic here. They gang up on the guest. I was the guest of honor so I was the toasting target. I had six guys toasting me in quick rotation. Each toast was “gumbei” or bottoms up. We were probably drinking Taiwan beer which is most excellent beer. I don’t know. I passed out. I woke up in one of the overstuffed chairs with a wet towel over my face. As I came to and removed the towel I looked to my right and there was a Taiwanese guy, Jackson, passed out with a towel over his face in the next chair. Leaving the restaurant I said to Tim, “I must have lost face passing out like that.” Tim said, “No, Jackson passed out first.” You’re fine.


Tim, Bob and I were not in too good a shape for the drive back to Taipei. But off we went in Tim’s little car, cruising down the brand new end to end of Taiwan highway. The highway was not finished but this did not deter the Taiwanese drivers. They sped down the divided highway totally oblivious of which side of the highway they should be on. There were abrupt 4″ high changes in the highway level at frequent intervals. Small Taiwanese cars that had never been driven over 40-mph were lined up, broken on both sides of the highway. Tim always prided himself on his ability to take advantage of the free form style of Taiwan driving rules so to keep us awake he would do very strange things on the highway. It was exciting.


We pulled up to my hotel THE SANTOS to find our dinner party waiting for us in the lobby. Great. I asked for time to clean up before dinner. One of the dinner party went up to my room with me. I don’t remember his name but he was about my age, maybe even younger. He was extremely curious about all the things I traveled with. I travel heavy. He literally went through my bag asking what each item was for and how much I paid for it. I thought it was funny and I truly admired his curiosity and keen effort to learn. I have no recollection of dinner at all. It was a very long day.


I just called Bob Berg. I wanted to know what a Baba 30 cost when they were introduced. Bob is going to get back to me on that. But in conversation about my blog I askd Bob if he remembered the time I passed out at lunch. His reply was, “Well, that happened several times.” Some friend he is.

It would take me some time to realize that it was socially OK  to say ,”Ee pan” meaning “one half”. Avoiding the bottoms up trap. Also in time I got to the point where just couldn’t take the “let’s drink the big nose under the table tactic any longer. I devised my own plan. When asked to dinner by a hospitable builder I would decline explaining that I had a previous dinner engagement. This worked well. But in time it back fired and dinner invites became few and scarce. I was left to fend for myself at dinner time and Taiwanese food is not best enjoyed alone. But eating alone in a crowded Sichuan restaurant did at times lead to some interesting situations. My favorite place to eat by myself was Y. Y’s Steak House on Chung San be loo. They knew me there and I never had to order. They would just bring me the exact same thing I had eaten the previous time at the very same table: Fried salami appetizer, a gin and tonic, corn chowder, salad, a fabulous New York steak and a bottle of Torres Sangre de Toro Spanish wine. I never had the heart to change my order. I thoight it would have dissapointed the, The head waitress was Jessica. I felt at home there in that strange steak house with an ambiance of a mixture of Scottish hunting lodge and African safari bungalow. One night I returned from Kaohsiung late and went straight to Y. Y’s. I had called and made a reservation. When I got there the help was sleeping on the bench seats in the deserted dining area but they got up and sprang into action when I walked in. Y.Y. had his four year old son there. I ate my dinner while Y’Y's son stood at my table singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star over and over and over. Y’Y's is probably my most favorite restaurant in the world.


An aside:

You have probably noticed that I don’t call the people of Taiwan “Chinese”. This is a very thorny issue and I am not smart enough to explain it in accurate detail. But the way I see it is this: If you came to Taiwan before Chang Kai Shek you consider yourself Taiwanese. You probably speak Taiwanese when you get together with your friends. If you came to Taiwan with Shang Kai Shek  or after Mao took power in China, you probably consider yourself Chinese and you would speak Mandarin first and Taiwanese as a second dialect. However, today, my young 30 something Taiwanese friends are fiercely independent and I get a very strong feeling that they want to be Taiwanese and totally separate from China. This is causing some problems.  Attending Wayne Chen’s mother’s 80th birthday party everyone was speaking Taiwanese. I asked why they were not speaking Mandarin and I got an earful. Dui bu xi ( I’m sorry). Thanks to my Taiwanese friend Wayne Shen for going over these details with me and correcting me.

Xie xie loaoshi. ( Thank you teacher)


When the first Baba 30 came to Seattle I was pleasantly surprised at how well the snug interior worked. Bob was right and I should not have been skeptical. But how did the little “brick” sail? It sailed very well thank you. It is very light on the helm and well balanced. It is surprisingly quick in light air. One weekend of the Perry Rendezvous we had an informal race to the harbor. Due my son’s soccer game I got a late start and began motoring the Valiant 40 down the Sound. Up ahead was the Rendezvous fleet with a Baba 30 in last place. It was flying a big, colorful cruising chute in the light Northerly. Well hell, I couldn’t just motor over or under the Baba 30. That would be really bad form. So I did the only thing I could do, I put up the sails on the Valiant 40 and started sailing. About what seemed like an hour later I pulled ahead of the Baba 30. Mind you I did not have a big cruising chute but still. I thought the Baba 30 was moving very well and I gained more respect for the boat that day.


There was a brick layer from Baltimore who did a solo circumnavigation in his Baba. He sent me post cards along the way. I have friends that love their Baba’s. There are a handful of my designs that surprised me in that they turned out better boats than I had anticipated. I’d count the Baba 30 in that lot.


In time Ta Shing would go on to become the biggest and most prestigious yacht builder in Taiwan. Their new yard is amazing.  The Baba 30 would lead to the Baba 35 aka Flying Dutchman 35 and from there to one of my all time favorite designs of mine the Baba 40. I had the honor of racing a Baba 35, pilot house version a year ago and we did amazingly well and surprised a lot of people. The boat can go despite its ultra traditional look. In the next chapter I will go into more detail on the 35, 40 and the change over to the Tashiba brand.

Aerodynamic Wing Control and . . . Other Stuff

Sail Feed - Wed, 2014-04-23 13:19

By Kimball Livingston Posted April 23, 2014

Suddenly we have anecdotal evidence in plenty that there’s nothing like a hot lime-colored wing on a sailboat to set people a’wondering, and we were able to address the collective WTF in our piece about Richard Jenkins’ prototype of a wing for a wind-assisted ferry of the maybe-future.

If you haven’t seen that story, and you want to, and if looking around the Home page is below your pay grade, you can find the story here.

Among reactions to the piece, there was a posting on the forum of BAMA, the Bay Area Multihull Association, by Oracle Racing wing designer Tom Speer. When Tom speaks, people listen, and he gave me permission to repeat his post here. He describes Harbor Wing, and we’ve written about Harbor Wing before. They were on a roll until funding dried up. I’ll let Tom take over, but before I make the handoff, there’s this. I note that Tom refers to the Scripps Flip, a truly unique contraption that I toured in San Diego as a perk of calling on Mark Ott of Harbor Wing. Lots of folks have been around boats a lifetime and never seen anything where the facilities can be rotated 90 degrees, as they have to be on the Scripps Flip.

Okay, Tom, take it away . . .

“In addition to Richard Jenkins’ prototype, there’s the Harborwing X2 prototype (photos: Harbor Wing}. Mark Ott has also worked with Morelli & Melvin on the conceptual design of a wingsail powered cruising cat.

“I had a chance to visit with Mark Ott onboard the Harbor Wing X2 when it was in San Diego, tied up to the Scripps Flip. It is a modified Condor 50 trimaran, and it’s capable of operating offshore. At the time, Mark was looking to do some voyages to show the offshore capability, and was trying to find the funding to continue the boat’s development. There was a lot of the interior taken up by the mounting structure of the cantilevered wing, but that’s to be expected with a prototype. I think a purpose-designed boat wouldn’t sacrifice as much to the rig. But it is really important that the wing have very good bearings and a support structure that won’t bind up when it flexes or be subject to fatigue failure.

“Both boats use an aerodynamically controlled wingsail. Jenkins’ tail is an innovative application of an aircraft configuration in which boom-mounted tails extend the span of the wing for reduced drag. The twin tails of the Harbor Wing configuration avoid the problem with “hunting” at low angles of attack, when the wake of the wing can affect the ability of the tail to precisely control the wing near zero lift, as when the wing is feathered when moored. Harbor Wing’s X1 prototype, a modified cruising cat, uncovered the fact that even though a wing can be feathered to produce zero net lift when moored, wind shear could still generate a dangerous heeling moment. That was the genesis of their split wing approach, in which the upper and lower halves can move independently, controlling heeling moment as well as lift.

“My experience with an aerodynamically controlled landyacht rig showed that the rig was quite good at gust load alleviation and was better than my manual wing-trimming skills when sailing in light, shifty winds.

“I think there’s a lot of potential for aerodynamically-controlled wing rigs on cruising boats. The big question is how well they will work under extreme conditions. In principle, a wing can be feathered to produce less drag than bare poles. But whether or not the wing will respond quickly enough in gusty conditions, or be affected by motion in a heavy seaway, will determine if wingsails are safe for use offshore.

Cheers, Tom Speer”

Footnote from the editor:

The Harbor Wing concept of a cruising cat includes a wing computerized sufficiently to appeal to a powerboat skipper who wants to dial in a course and speed and walk away. Probably, that capability a matter of when, not if.

As for Wind + Wing Technologies—

A few years ago, when they were in-concept but not yet sailing a demo platform, we published the following about their collaboration with Morrelli & Melvin. The M&M in-house man who was front and center on the project was Bobby Kleinschmit:

“At Morrelli & Melvin, we started in early 2008,” said Kleinschmit. “First we did a comprehensive feasibility study. We modeled winds over San Francisco Bay ferry routes for a full year to develop a basis for estimating fuel savings. It was interesting because the route from the San Francisco Ferry Building to Sausalito and back is ideal for wind assist—or for being fully wind powered on some of the runs.”

Let’s note, further, that it would be a reach-out, reach-back between Fisherman’s Wharf and Alcatraz for the commercial operators who carry tourists out to “The Rock.” I figure that’s even more ideal for sail, considering the bias toward reach-reach and the bias toward a summertime (seabreeze) timeframe.I will share with you that, when Jay Gardner did a presentation on this forward-thinking subject at the St. Francis Yacht Club (programs that are open to members of all recognized yacht clubs), there were leaders of commercial ferry companies who came to meet and listen.

Gardner recalls that he first approached Golden Gate Transit in July, 2008, “and right off the bat the meeting started with an admission that if diesel weren’t $4.75 a gallon they would not even be talking to me.

“But, we went to them because they’re the most operationally experienced. We knew we’d have to convince the most hard-nosed ferry guys.”

Don Street Stories: It’s a miracle he ever got published!

Sail Feed - Wed, 2014-04-23 10:11

The Don Street article started at the Annapolis Sailboat Show in 2011. I met SAIL’s editor, Peter Nielsen, at a World Cruising Club party. We started discussing Don Street. I was adamant that despite his age, he was still relevant to my younger generation of ‘real’ sailors. He sometimes talked in ancient terms, referencing long-ago obsolete technology. But the substance was still at the core. Street speaks in sailing Truths – it’s just a matter of wading through the history to uncover them.

I started writing this piece the following February. Street himself was cooperative, sending me pages and pages of personal histories he’s either written or had written about him. Wading through his emails, I began to understand why Peter had said nobody will accept his work anymore – he writes in one long run-on sentence, and is apparently oblivious to capitalization and punctuation.

“It’s always been that way,” Peter explained. “One editor after another tackled his work, and one after another just got burned out on it.”

It’s a wonder he was ever published in the first place. And yet, there is passion in his work. The Truth is in there, always has been, and it’s thanks to his many editors over the years that it’s now out there for all of us.

After a year of researching, writing and re-writing, I realized I was never going to properly finish the article until I spoke at length with Street himself. I finally had that opportunity in October, again at the Annapolis Sailboat Show. I met Street in his small apartment upstairs of Weems & Plath, where Peter Trogdon, enthusiastic owner of the classic nautical instruments company, hosts him every year.

“He’s a legend,” says Trogdon, “of course I’m going to have him here!”

We sat down at a round table – when I arrived, Street made me wait a few minutes while he finished making corrections to one of the Imray-Iolaire charts – and chatted for over an hour-and-a-half. 


Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-04-22 17:59

By Kimball Livingston Posted April 22, 2014

And not really, of course, but it’s not all that often that the Coast Guard’s Commander of the Pacific Area, Defense Force West, is promoted to the office of Commandant. That part doesn’t become official until ceremonies in Washington, D.C. a few weeks hence, but—

Today, the process began with a Change of Command ceremony at Coast Guard Island, Alameda, in which Vice Admiral Paul Zukunft, Commandant-to-be, handed off the Pacific Area command to Vice Admiral Charlie Ray.

(Go Razorbacks)

We’re in good hands. In the pic we see, left to right, Zukunft, Admiral Robert Papp, Commandant, and Ray. While the new Commandant wrangles Washington on behalf of the service, Vice Admiral Ray will be in charge of 13,000 Coast Guard personnel and their missions covering 74 million square miles of ocean, encompassing six of the seven continents and touching 71 countries.

No small matter.

And these stories generally begin here, in the leadership laboratory known as the USCGC Eagle. You can read my story about the Eagle by clicking here.

The Commandant to be offers these parting words:

I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the communities of Alameda, Oakland and San Francisco. My wife and I have called the Bay Area home for the past two years, and have been honored to call you all our neighbors while serving as the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area Commander.

These communities have embraced my family just as they have embraced all of the 4,000 Coast Guard members and their families that are assigned here and call the Bay Area home.

We work closely with our partner agencies here in the Bay Area to maintain a 24/7 readiness and response stance against threats affecting national security, as well as safety of life and property at sea not only in the Bay Area, but throughout the 74 millions of square miles in the PACAREA area of responsibility, placing the communities of the Bay Area on the front lines of Coast Guard operations.

The Bay Area Coast Guard is comprised of boat stations, a buoy tender, an air station, training centers, three national security cutters and regional headquarters commands that coordinate operations throughout California and the entire Pacific. Our national security cutters, Bertholf, Waesche and Stratton, provide long-range offshore capabilities and regularly conduct counter-drug patrols off the coasts of Central and South America as well as fisheries patrols in Alaska.

Alameda has a special claim to the Coast Guard family by not only being a Coast Guard City, but by also being home to the first national security cutter, the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf. Each time one of these cutters deploys to the Eastern Pacific for counter illicit trafficking patrols, or north to the Arctic, they sail through the Golden Gate out to sea. But they come home the communities of the Bay Area.

In 2013 we melded as a community to show the world what the Bay Area has to offer by hosting the 34th America’s Cup Race, which was held in the heart of the Port of San Francisco. We worked closely with the event organizer and local agencies that operate on the Bay to create a race route that allowed for a safe and secure race while minimizing the impacts to commercial shipping traffic.

During my time in the Bay Area I have witnessed your outpouring of support when we needed our community the most. Our partner agencies and our communities mourned with us when we remembered both Senior Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne and Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis Obendorf. Though the circumstances behind both deaths were very different, it reminds us that our jobs are inherently dangerous and we depend on the support of our community agencies to get the mission done, both while deployed and at home.

As I get prepare for my next adventure as the Commandant of the Coast Guard, I am inspired by the way the Bay Area communities have embraced our Coast Guard shipmates and families. I ask you to join me in welcoming our new Pacific Area Commander, Vice Adm. Charles Ray, as he assumes the mantle of command for the Bay Area’s largest military force. I am truly grateful to have served in such a caring and vibrant region.


Vice Adm. Paul F. Zukunft

MID-ATLANTIC CRUISE: Bareboat Chartering in the Azores

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-04-22 15:42

While dawdling about the North Atlantic in my old Alberg 35 yawl Crazy Horse I spent nine months in the Azores in 1995 and ’96. The beautiful nine-island archipelago just sucked me right in. With its dramatic volcanic topography, verdant sub-tropical foliage, sumptuous mid-ocean cloud formations, amazingly friendly people, low food prices, and exquisite architecture it seemed to me a paradise on earth. But if you had told me back then there would one day be a successful bareboat charter operation in the islands, I would have laughed at you.

Not that the sailing is bad. Much of the time it is perfectly splendid, with interestingly variable breezes and occasionally challenging conditions to keep you honest. The big problem was parking. The islands have virtually no natural harbors, anchoring along the steep-sided shore is usually impossible, and the few moorings you were apt to find in those days were grossly unreliable. During my time there I did manage to visit and explore seven of the nine islands, but I had a few skin-of-my-teeth experiences in some of the tiny man-made harbors, and one acquaintance of mine actually lost his boat after he left it in the harbor at Vila do Porto on Santa Maria on a seemingly solid mooring that failed.

But that was then. When I first visited the Azores, as crew aboard Constellation in 1992, there was just one safe haven for yachts, at the marina in Horta on the island of Faial. By the time I returned on Crazy Horse in 1995 there were two more. One was a new marina at Praia da Vitoria on Terceira, where I was the first American ever to visit. (I remember I was very pleased when I learned they weren’t charging for dock space, but I wasn’t so pleased when I found an enormous dead pig floating next to my boat the morning after I checked in.) The other was a new marina at Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel, where Crazy Horse was one of three transient yachts to winter over.

Nowadays there are marinas on all the islands but two (Corvo and Graciosa), there are two marinas on Sao Miguel (at Vila Franca do Campo, as well as Ponta Delgada), and the existing marinas at both Horta and Ponta Delgada have been greatly expanded. This not only makes it possible for transient bluewater cruisers to easily visit multiple islands while sailing through, it also (gasp!) makes bareboat chartering perfectly feasible.

The first such operation, SailAzores, was started just three years ago and runs a small fleet of Dufours, ranging in size from 37 to 45 feet. Their clients are mostly from central Europe, and last week SAIL‘s editor-in-chief Peter Nielsen and I (together with one imported photographer, Graham Snook, from the UK) became the first bareboat charterers ever to visit from the United States. For me it was something like a return to Valhalla. I love these islands and being able to sail there again without having to first make a major ocean passage was a real treat.

The town of Horta on Faial, seen from on high

A classic view from the Horta marina, with the 7,680-foot peak on the island of Pico seen in the distance

The main drag in Horta, as seen from sea level

We started our tour at Horta, which has long been Sailor Central for transatlantic bluewater cruisers, as far back as Joshua Slocum. We had only a week to spend, and as you can see on the map up there, the islands are quite spread out, with 370 miles of open ocean stretching between the easternmost and westernmost islands. So we limited our exploration to three of the islands in the central group, taking a day on each to explore by car.

For anyone else coming to charter here from the States, I’d recommend taking two weeks if at all possible. This will give you time to visit all the central islands, plus shoot over to the east and/or west. There is a fair chance you’ll be weather-bound for a day or two, so having extra time in hand is always a good idea. If you’re lucky with the weather and feeling ambitious, it is possible to visit all nine islands during one two-week cruise.

My man Duncan Sweet (on the right), originally from New Hampshire, has been operating Mid-Atlantic Yacht Services in Horta for over 20 years now. He helped me sort a few problems on Crazy Horse way back when, and now tells me he’s looking to sell his business so he can go sailing again

A typical sidewalk in Horta. You see these basalt mosaics on the streets of most Azorean towns. Even the crosswalks are inlaid!

For decades transient sailors have left paintings on the harbor walls in Horta. A few charter guests do it, too, but personally I think this is uncool. The unwritten rule is that you have to cross an ocean before leaving a painting here

The wall paintings are surprisingly impermanent. You see few that are more than few years old, and the paintings I made for Constellation (1992) and Crazy Horse (1996) were long gone. Dieter on Lady Summerfield, as you can see, didn’t take any chances and solved this problem by making his mark with tiles

A pair of cruising kids wielding brushes

Boss Nielsen makes the scene at Peter’s Cafe Sport, the most famous sailor’s bar in the world

The marina at Horta is one of the best places in the world to ogle bluewater boats. You always see a fascinating array of offbeat vessels. My favorite this visit was this Golden Hind 31, which looked to be about the same vintage as my old Golden Hind Sophie

The highlight of our tour of Faial was a visit to Capelinhos on the island’s northeast corner. From September 1957 through October 1958 this was the site of an ongoing volcanic eruption that destroyed two villages and led over a third of the island’s population (about 2,000 people) to emigrate to the U.S. and Canada.

Capelinhos today. The lighthouse was formerly on an exposed headland, but now is inland, and all the land you see there on the right, nearly 3 square kilometers, was created during the eruption

Capelinhos during the eruption. Faial’s main volcanic caldera (or crater) in the center of the island was also involved, as the lake there drained away and fumaroles of boiling clay and mud appeared on the crater floor

A wasted village, post eruption. Fortunately there were no fatalities, but there was a great deal of property damage

We had a marvelous sail from Horta over to the town of Velas on Sao Jorge the following day. It was a beat, but the wind was moderate, 10-12 knots, and we were able to lay Velas after just two tacks. There’s great little marina there now that’s perfectly secure, with an extremely friendly harbormaster, but when I last visited Velas on Crazy Horse back in 1996 the only place to park was right on the seawall.

My second morning there the harbormaster came down and told me I had to leave immediately, as the monthly freighter was coming in ahead of schedule. He and a buddy cast off my lines post haste, before I was ready, and the boat’s caprail on one side was smashed to pieces as I pulled off the wall. Then, as soon as I cleared the harbor, a surprise gale blew in out of the southwest, and I spent the next eight hours running off to the north in a vicious 50-knot breeze. I didn’t make it to Horta until the next afternoon, and then had to spend the next two days after that fixing up my caprail.

So, yes. This time I really did appreciate that marina.

Another sail spied en route to Velas, with the top of Pico just peaking out of the clouds

Boss Nielsen demonstrates his power-lounging technique as we approach Sao Jorge

The town of Velas, seen from on high, with Faial in the background. You can see the wondrous yacht marina in the lower righthand corner of the harbor, directly across from the evil wall. The smaller marina in the upper corner is for fishing boats

And yes, as I said, the current harbormaster is exceedingly friendly. So friendly that after we toured the island by car the following day he arranged for us to use the local pilot boat as a photo chase boat so Graham could snap pix of us sailing by the town.

The one downside to the marina, I should note, is that at night the high cliffs directly above it are inhabited by a vast flock of very noisy shearwaters. They sounded like deranged children and cackled with glee until well after midnight.

Downtown Velas, with dragon emerging from pool

The public garden in Velas. The little stone house you see behind the lamp-post furthest left is filled with dozens of parakeets

One of many weird ducks that lives on the waterfront in Velas. Unlike the shearwaters, they had nothing to say

Sao Jorge is a long, tall spine of an island, girded round on all sides by very high cliffs. Along the coast there are a few flat tongues of land, known as fajas, that are prized for their habitability. This is one of the biggest ones, Faja do Ouvidor, seen from on high

Dolphins and a pair of recreational fishermen enjoy an evening outing in the channel between Sao Jorge and Pico

Journalistic incest. I shoot Graham shooting Nielsen as he prepares a dinner onboard

In the local parlance: Pico wears a hat. Our first morning in Velas we found it had snowed on high across the channel during the night

After one full day on Sao Jorge, we sailed around to south shore of Pico and had good wind most the way. First a steady breeze from behind us as we scooted down the Sao Jorge channel and around the eastern tip of Pico, then lots of erratic blustery gusts as we sailed west with the high land of Pico towering above us. After only a wee bit of motoring, we landed at last in the town of Lajes, which is unusual among Azorean harbors in that it has shoal water. We squeezed into the marina there with no trouble and soon after tying up headed for the local whaling museum.

Whaling used to be a big deal in the Azores. The waters around the islands are thick with marine mammals, and Azoreans first learned about whaling when they signed on as crew aboard American whalers that came to archipelago both to hunt and reprovision. By the middle of the 19th century, Azoreans were hunting on their own in local waters from small open boats. Pico, and Lajes in particular, was the focus of much of this activity until as late as 1984.

The mountain of Pico, shrouded in cloud, as seen from the marina in Lajes. That’s our boat, Insula, on the right, with another SailAzores Dufour 375 right next to it

Inside the whaling museum. Whale watching instead of whale hunting is now a significant source of income in Lajes

A museum model of an Azorean whaleboat, with all relevant gear. These were the boats used right up until 1984, and there are many men on the islands still alive today who once worked in them

South coast of Pico near Lajes

Though Azoreans stopped whaling, they haven’t stopped building and maintaining whaleboats, which they now race under both sail and oars. We found this example in a boathouse in a small village near Lajes. On the wall you can see photos of crew members and a case full of trophies

Azoreans are also still maintaining the old motor launches that were once used to tow whaleboats out to the hunting grounds

Many Azoreans are also still fishing from small wooden skiffs in the traditional style. You’ll note, however, that they do install electronics

Alas, we lost the vaunted Snook, our photographer, on Pico, as he had to catch a ferry back to Faial to hop a flight home to the UK. Nielsen and I spent an extra day on the island, then motored back to Horta in a bit of rain the following afternoon. There we had a chance to dine again at Cafe Sport with our friends from SailAzores and were introduced to Jose Azevedo, the current proprietor and grandson of the famous bar’s original founder.

The next day we flew to Sao Miguel and lay over one night before catching our flight back to Boston. Again, thanks to the extremely gracious tourism board, we had a car at our disposal and were able to tour around a bit before moving on.

Jose Azevedo gave us a personal tour of his family’s famous scrimshaw museum. Among the items on display is a well-known photo he took of a huge storm that hit Faial in February 1986. You can see a human face in the immense sheet of spray above the rock on the left

This is but a small portion of the Cafe Sport scrimshaw collection, which most likely is the largest in the world. This set of sperm whale teeth is adorned with likenesses of various famous sailors and members of the Azevedo family

The north coast of Sao Miguel

Sao Miguel has three major volcanic calderas, two of which are inhabited. This is the village of Sete Cidades, situated on the floor of the western caldera, as seen from the crater rim

This is the village of Furnas, which is inside the eastern caldera

Hot sulphur springs outside Furnas. This suggests to me that this volcano is not entirely inactive

An old friend on the hard in Ponta Delgada. Back when I last visited the Azores very few locals had yachts, as there was no place to keep them. Now, with all the marinas, local yachts are quite common. This was one of the first ones, an old Cheoy Lee ketch that was imported to Ponta Delgada the winter I lived in the marina there. She was berthed right across from Crazy Horse, and of course I was both surprised and pleased to find she is still hanging out there


How Much Has It Changed?

All of you with distant memories of the Azores will be pleased to know the islands have actually changed very little over the last two decades. The harbors everywhere have been greatly improved, and there are a few more tourists than there used to be, but otherwise I was very pleased to find things were much as I remembered them. The one exception was Sao Miguel, which now has divided highways traversing part of the island and a cruise ship dock in Ponta Delgada. Gack! Cruise ships also visit Horta, but they cannot land there and evidently do not spend the night.

Stuff You Need To Know

This ain’t the BVI people. To charter a boat here you need a fair amount of experience, as the sailing can be challenging at times. You don’t need a certificate, but you will be queried closely as to your experience and background and may be turned away if these are found wanting.

No, the tourism board will not give you cars to drive like they did us, but you can easily rent them and can make arrangements through SailAzores to have a car waiting for you wherever you go. Alternatively, you can just hitchhike your way around when exploring each island. This is how I got around when I stayed here before. People are very friendly and often stop to pick up hitchers, but in some places the traffic is very thin.

All marina fees are included in your charter fee, and SailAzores will make sure there is space for you and people to greet you in every marina you visit. On the two islands without marinas they will make sure there are secure moorings for you to stay on.

One downside to cruising in any Portuguese jurisdiction is that you have to book in and out of every port you visit. The Portuguese love their paperwork, but in the Azores at least everyone is very nice about it. You can usually book out of ports the day before you actually leave, which simplifies things, and since officials see the SailAzores charter boats all the time they do seem willing to cut them a little slack.

The charter season runs from April through October. The best time to come is May through September. If you’re interested in doing this, be sure to plan ahead. The summer season this year is already all booked up.

English is widely but not universally spoken.

Many Thanks To

Nicolau Faria, Joao Portela, Anabela Costa, and Emidio Goncalves of SailAzores

The Azores Tourism Board

Don Street Stories: A strange cup of coffee in Glandore

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-04-22 08:59

I was very excited to see my newest article, “Don Street is not Dead” out in the May 2014 issue of SAIL Magazine, which just got delivered yesterday with the mail. Normally writers cringe when their editors get a hold of their work, but I was very pleased with the work that Peter, Charlie and Meredith did on this piece, which was over a year in the making. The left my ‘voice’ intact.

That said, we had to cut a lot! The published piece is something like 1,500-2,000 words. My first draft, on the other hand, was over 5,000! The podcast I did with Don, which gave me a lot of material for the article, ran at nearly 90 minutes. So in a series of posts here now, I’d like to share some of the stories that didn’t make the print article, but that shine more light on one of my sailing heroes. Read on…

To my surprise and delight, Donald Street, one of my sailing heros, actually contacted me.

I’d written a small article for a Caribbean magazine about the usefulness of his Imray-Iolaire charts in use throughout the Caribbean. He ended up printing the article and using it at a handout during one of his seminars at the Annapolis Boatshow in 2010. I’ve been in touch with him ever since.

When Mia and I sailed Arcturus across the far north Atlantic, it was Street’s route that we followed, stopping off in the Bra d’Or Lakes in Canada and ultimately leaving from the tiny French island of St. Pierre and making landfall in Crookhaven, on the south coast of Ireland.

“You drink Murphy’s in the south of Ireland!” Donald lectured us. “Guinness is from the north!” Aye aye. Murphy’s it was, and a damn good pint at that, particularly after 23 days at sea. After five days unwinding in the village there, we sailed to Glandore and met Street in his adopted hometown.

Street would have been proud of our entrance – we short-tacked Arcturus up the narrow channel, careful to avoid the sharp rocks to the east, and managed to sail right onto the mooring ball.

It was a planned meeting, but we bumped into him by chance on the road leading up into the village from the waterfront where we’d left the dinghy. Street was meandering down the hill, that tattered Tilly hat in place on his head, his white scraggly beard hanging off of his frail chin. He invited us into his house the next morning for coffee.

“You’d better come early, I’m racing Dragons tomorrow!” he warned us. It was a Sunday, and even now, at age 84, those races remain his ritual.

The house he occupies is just a block off the waterfront, tucked into a hillside behind a local inn. Street has converted the sunroom out back into a sort of attached apartment/office, with a small sitting area under a roof of skylights and a little kitchen for making tea and coffee. Iolaire’s original tiller hangs on the back wall next to photos of his sons sailing J-class yachts and other big boats in various parts of the world, and seemingly every issue of every yachting magazine ever published laid scattered around the living room floor and occupying end tables and counterspace. A small laptop was open on a reclining chair, and a crude printout of his latest book – Street’s Guide to the Cape Verde Islands – was loosely bound and lying on the floor.

It’s his wife’s house, actually, and to Street, this is an important distinction, for he still sees himself as a “wandering sailor” since being displaced from Grenada after the 1983 invasion by US forces, a footnote in Street’s biography, but a pretty astounding story nonetheless.

“The Peoples Revolutionary Army seized our two houses and five acres of land,” Street told us, “and we were never allowed back.” Hence his ‘guest room’ in Ireland.

He offered us coffee in that raspy voice of his, disappearing for a few minutes while the electric kettle heated up, and reappearing again with two ceramic mugs. After filling them with hot water, he handed Mia and I each a mug of what was then, and still is, the strangest cup of coffee I’d ever had. It was as if Street had disappeared into the back room with a Ziploc bagful of whole coffee beans, and rather than grind them, simply hit them a few times with a hammer before depositing them into our mugs. The coffee consisted of the hot water, some cold milk and a handful of quartered and halved coffee beans floating around in the mixture. I don’t know if it was an Irish thing or not, but I suspect it was simply a Street thing. It was then that I decided I had to write about this man.

Sickness & Travel: How to Deal

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-04-21 22:45

My ultimate low in travel-related illness came when Stylish was three years old.  The two of us were on our way back to Canada from Spain, and we both had rotavirus.  Every ounce of liquid I forced into her came right back out.  Waiting for a connecting flight in Philadelphia, Stylish went Exorcist on our last clean clothes.  As I stood in the airport bathroom in my underwear, washing my preschooler in the sink and wondering what shirt I could rinse well enough to wear home, I knew I had hit bottom.  Parenthood is a humbling reminder that even the most elegant and cool among us will smell of baby vomit from time to time.

We are on our way home from holidays, and, once again, we are one man down.  When we booked, I was annoyed that our flight schedule would force us to stay an extra night in Cairns.  Now, I am grateful that we have an extra day to chase the bugs away before getting back on a plane.

Illness happens.  Anyone with a school-age child or a family member who travels understands that viruses invade with depressing regularity.  And cruisers, moving from place to place, joining one community after another, understand this as well as anyone.  Sometimes there is a clinic nearby – sometimes not.  So, what do you do to stay healthy on the water, and to fight sickness when it comes?

Watch your water
If you’ve ever been on vacation, chances are you’ve experienced the fun of Montezuma’s Revenge.  You can avoid the typical culprits: don’t accept ice cubes or untreated tap water.  But, my cruising friend, you are going to have to fill those water tanks somehow.  Before you fill, check and double-check where that water comes from and how it is treated.  We chose to collect rainwater throughout the Caribbean.  Before crossing the Pacific, we installed a second-hand watermaker because we knew we wouldn’t be able to rely on the water sources between Panama and New Zealand.  You can’t live without clean water, so don’t neglect your supply.

Prep your pharmacy
Every cruiser should have an emergency kit aboard.  Antibiotics for everyone, burn pads, a suture kit, gauze pads, medical tape… make a master list, assemble it, and replace items as they expire/are used.  You can’t pop down to CVS on passage.  We’ve visited islands with no doctor – just a nurse and a quickly-diminishing supply of acetaminophen.  For kids, ask your pharmacist to leave the antibiotics in powder form, with clear instructions how to mix them yourself.

The rule is: if you might need it, you have to bring it yourself.  Be ready.

Do your homework
Some of your health strategy will depend on where you are going.  Look ahead.  If you are heading into a malaria-prone area, act accordingly.  Planning to fish?  Check for ciguatera before you cast your line.  Wherever you go, take the time to find out about local health issues, and make a plan.

Eat your veggies
This is no time to be picky.  Branch out, kids.  Nobody can live forever on tinned peas, so get used to trying whatever fruits and veggies grow locally.  You need the vitamins.

Take a course
Before we set out back in the day, Erik and I took an offshore medicine course with St John Ambulance.  It didn’t make us into doctors, but we did learn first responder techniques.  Let’s face it: when you are on passage, you are going to have to do the heavy lifting yourself when it comes to assessing and stabilizing an injury or illness.  Even under best-case circumstances, it will take time for expert medical help to reach you.  So educate yourself, and, if nothing else, learn how to stay calm and help as best you can when disaster strikes.

Sometimes, you just get sick
Everyone gets regular ol’ sick sometimes.  Don’t make a mountain out of a stomachache.  Yes, keep an eye on symptoms, especially in kids and in people with other health issues, but you don’t need to go into a panic at every headache.  Keep cool, cruiser.

Keep your sense of humour
Whether the kids have worms or you just got a migraine from that low passing overhead, try not to take it to heart.  Like I said, even the most health-conscious of landlubbers get sick, too.  Remind yourself that this too shall pass.  If you can joke about it, it may not feel as painful.

All of this can distill down to the classic travel advice bestowed on us by Douglas Adams: Don’t Panic.  Stay calm, assess what is really happening and how serious it is, and react accordingly. Illness doesn’t have to ruin your trip.  And I say this as a chronic seasickness-sufferer.  Think ahead, deal with problems as they arise, and move on.  Trust me – not even the most dedicated child can throw up forever.  You’ll come out the other side, I promise.

I blog the Baba………………….Part One

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-04-21 12:38





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The Baba story

Part one

Disclaimer: This is history as I remember it. I could get some facts wrong but I’m damn close.

Also, the blog program likes to correct my spelling. That’s fine but it often screws up Ta Chiao. it should be C H I A O!

Back in the 70′s there was still this idea that double
enders make the best offshore boats. I never really went along with that idea
although I always liked double enders. My attraction to double enders was an aesthetic
one. I just plain liked the way they looked. I had been drawn to the double
ended shape since the time I was 15 years old. I was probably 15 when I first
saw Bill Garden’s OCEANUS and that was it for me. While I have serious
reservations about the hull shape of OCEANUS there can be no denying that the
stern was spectacular and it has remained one of the most enduring boat
shapes  in my mind.

Then there came along the Valiant and at the same time the commission
for what would be the Hans Christian 34. Ironically when I was just beginning
both of these new design each client, independently, sent me the very same
photo  of HOLGER DANSK, the magnificent
K. Aage Nielsen double ender. Here was a boat with a stern that had power and
grace. I saw the advantages immediately. My two clients, my buddy Nathan
Rothman and the evil John Edwards sent me the very same note, “Make the stern
like this.” No problem.

I gave this stern type the name “tumblehome canoe stern”.
Tumblehome refers to the fact that the stern profile rolls back towards the
sheer with the aft end of LOA aft of the sheer at the stern. It’s a strong look
and in fact a strong shape. It’s very egg-like and structurally still. The idea
is that by filling out the stern like this I can flatten the buttocks for a cleaner,
flatter run aft to help extend sailing length. I did my best to try to pull as
much volume aft as possible. Many of the canoe sterns you see are to my eye “anemic”
aft with pointy fannies with very little volume where they need it. The pointy
canoe sterns are just along for the ride. You have to have the stern displacing
water in order for it to do any work, i.e. extend the sailing length. I’m not
going to name names but there have been some very successful canoe sterns boats
with what I feel are poorly designed sterns. You hear the term “reserve buoyancy
aft”. Well, if that’s your goal you had better go with a transom because a
transom has far more volume aft that a pointy canoe stern.

There are other disadvantages with double enders. With the
volume you lose aft you lose the ability to have a nice, squarish back end to
the cockpit. This makes fitting seats and lockers problematic in most double

(Oh, while I’m on it I should explain that I consider any
boat with a point on the stern a “double ender”. But I don’t consider all
double enders to have “canoe sterns”. Look at the classic Westsail 32. To me
that is a true double ender.  The stern
post  marks the end of the hull. The
overhang aft is minimal at best. With a canoe stern the profile of the stern is
extended resulting in considerable overhang aft. Not really a lot but compared
to the Westsail type, considerable.  All
canoe sterned boats are double enders. All double enders do not have canoe
sterns. Got it?)

So we have this roundish stern making seat aft awkward and
locker lids hard to fit. If you were after a really comfortable cockpit you had
better stick with a transom boat. In addition, these day people find aft swim
steps, boarding platforms very attractive. I know I do. They make getting to
and from the dink far easier than climbing over the rail. You can’t do this
with a double ender. Not easily. I do have a drawing for a double ender where a
section of the stern drops down to form a boarding ladder. I’m sure it will
work but I haven’t built one yet. With these issues in mind it’s kind of hard
to come up with pragmatic reasons for a double ender.

I think back in the Colin Archer days his boats were designed
as sailing lifeboats and they had to have the ability to heave to in heavy
seas. Having a boat with two bows was probably a good thing. I hear all sorts
of what I call “Moses theories” how double enders part the following seas but I’m
skeptical. They may part the following sea but a transom stern boat with the
additional volume aft may rise to that following sea. I think that if you want
to justify having a double ender the best way to do it is to say, “Boy, I sure
like the looks of double enders.”

The Hans Christian project got underway but something was
wrong. Through the grapevine I kept hearing about a “Bob Perry designed 36′er
at HC”. What the hell, my design was 34′ LOA. I checked into it with a phone
call to evil Edwards in Taiwan. I don’t remember the conversation verbatim but
it was something along these lines:

Me, “John, what’s this I heard about a 36′er?”

John, “Oh we took your lines and blew them up and we are
building the 36′er before we build the 34′er.”

Me, “Great. I look forward to receiving royalties on both

John, “Oh, you’re not getting any royalties on the 36′er.”

Me, “Really,,,,,,,,,,,,,well then I withdraw all design
support for the 34′er.”

In fact I never finished the design of the HC 34. It is a
rare model but reported to sail well. The 36′er went on to become the father of
a whole skad of 36′ double enders, all carrying my name despite the fact that I
had nothing to do with the actual design. These boats include the Mariner
Polaris 36, Union 36, Mao Ta 36, Univeral 36 and God knows how many others. My
name is still stuck to them. You would be very surprised at how many owners of
these boats are convinced they are my design. I met a couple on the dock. They
had one.  They went on and on about how
much they loved the boat. Then  I said, “But,
it’s not my design.” The woman started to cry. I felt bad.

I was pissed. I was poor. In was trying really hard to get
my design business going and I was not making much money. Now I had two
fallings out with Edwards. The first being the CT54 fiasco with Ta Chiao. It
was clear that I would get no more business from evil Edwards. I wanted
revenge. I wanted to fly to Taiwan and punch him in the nose. But Edwards was
about 5’5″ tall and looked a lot like Wally Cox so a physical confrontation was

Then along came my friend Will Eickholt, the “Flying Dutchman”. Will was starting to do business in Taiwan and was importing 41′
ketches from Ta Chiao. Will said he wanted to do a boat, a double ender, the
popular style of the day. The yard would be a new yard, Ta Yang, but they were
connected to Ta Chaio so the boat would be called a Ta Chiao something. Will
suggested a boat like the HC 36 and I jumped at it. Here was my chance to get
my revenge by targeting the HC 36 with a much better design. I produced the
lines for the “Ta Chiao 37″. Will was not really my client. The yard was but Will
was my “go between”. My arrangement with the yard, in order to keep design
costs low, was to produce basic drawings but no structural drawings. Fine, I
needed work of any kind. The Ta Chiao 37 went into production and was selling
very well. I was excited at this new river of royalties.

I began seeing Ta Chiao 37′s roll past my office window on their
way to the yard for commissioning. I called Will and asked, “When do I start
getting my royalties?” “What royalties ?” Will said. “There is nothing about
royalties in your contract with the yard.” ????????????WTF! I checked the
contract and he was right. How the hell did I do that? Stupidity is the only
possible answer. Will said he would see what he could do. He came back to me
with a proposition. The yard would like full structural drawings for the boat
and in exchange they will pay royalties. I agreed. Shortly after that Will showed
up at my office with Y. P Chen, the manager of Ta Yang. The boat was now being
called the Ta Yang 37 and they had built 40 of them. Y.P. produced a check for
40 royalties. I was amazed. I had assumed the royalties would start with hull
number 41. I thanked Y.P for his generosity and said that this was more than I
expected. I wrote Y.P a check for half the royalty amount. I’s split it with
him. He was very happy with that deal. As you probably know they went on to
build more than 600 “Tayana 37′s”, George Day of BLUE WATER CRUISING once wrote
that there are more Tayana 37′s cruising the world than any other single design.
This pleases me.

The first Ta Yang 37 to come to Seattle was owned by a TV
lighting technical director, named Bob Berg. Bob’s TY37 was a ketch version and
it sailed fabulously. In fact I always preferred the ketch version of the TY 37
to the cutter version. The ketch just balanced better.

There you have chapter one in the Baba story. Bob Berg would
soon leave his work at the TV station and go on to become a dealer fo4 Ta Yang.
He made frequent trips to Taiwan where the workers found it difficult to pronounce
“Bob Berg”. They started calling Bob “Baba” Mandarin for “Dad”. Pretty soon almost
everyone who knew Bob was calling him Baba. Bob is a kind and soft spoken,
patient man. The Taiwanese liked Bob.

NMEA 2000 color instrument power testing, looks good

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-04-21 11:10

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 21, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

When Garmin recently introduced GNX20/21 displays, it led to questions about the power needs of similar but all-color NMEA 2000 instruments. And that led me to finally make up a special N2K cable that I can use with my trusty Power Analyzer Pro to measure the 12 volt current flow to an individual N2K-powered device. So what you’re seeing above is that a Raymarine i70 working with live data at 100% brightness level is using 0.13 amps. That’s not much by most standards, but dropping down a hair to 90% brightness reduced the power draw 20%…

I got into this testing, trying all the NMEA 2000 displays above at almost every brightness level they offer. The Maretron only has 3 brightness levels, the Garmin GMI20 is unique for 5% increments, and I took an educated stab at balancing the Furuno RD33′s separate screen and keypad backlight (you only need help seeing the keys when the screen is quite dim). As you’ll see in the results table below, all of the displays use significantly less power at slightly less than maximum brightness with power savings declining to almost zero as you dim them way down. I’ve seen similar results with large, individually-powered multifunction displays, though of course, the amperage saving increment is larger. It’s great that marine screens have gotten so bright and readable, but if you’re sailing or at anchor, it’s power smart to keep displays turned down a notch or two. Interestingly, it made no power draw difference to invert colors — all that bright white to black — or to use red themed night colors.

What doesn’t show in the table, though, is the huge difference between all the color screens and the Simrad IS20 representing monochrome technology. In my fairly well-lit lab, the color screens became unreadable somewhere below 50% brightness, but I could not detect the backlighting on the IS20 screen at all. In other words, a sailor can watch a monochrome screen all day for about 0.04 amps an hour, while a similar size color screen might need 90% brightness using twice the power. That’s why Garmin came up with the GNX series, though for many boaters all those relatively low amperage readings are good news. Please note that this is not a definitive test of display efficiency; I don’t have any way of measuring comparative screen brightness levels — though they all look good — and the power increments are so small that accuracy is dubious.

In fact, even the small scale Power Analyzer declines to measure tenths of a watt, which is why I used the amperage figures (while trying to keep the voltage steady at about 12.4). But as a testing bonus, I got to try the gray Posi-Twist wire connectors seen below. The Posi-Lock company also makes Posi-Tite waterproof inline connectors — which were suggested when I revealed my infatuation with Scotch-Loks, especially for splicing thin wires — but the Posi-Twist is more like a much-improved wire nut. They probably make the ABYC cringe, but I felt like that two-piece collar and cone design really clamped down on the twisted fine gauge wires (note that the packaging specifies use for 18-26 gauge, though the shop online listing says 20-24). They’re much faster and easier to use on skinny wires than a conventional crimp and shrink connector, and with a dab of waterproof gel and some strain relief might hold up as long. I will definitely try the Posi-Tite connectors I also purchased.

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59º North Podcast: Volvo Skipper Andreas Hanakamp

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-04-21 09:30

This is the first of several sailing podcasts that I’ll be transferring over from my old show, Two Inspired Guys. Andy sat down in person with Andreas Hanakamp in St. Lucia during the finish of the ARC Rally in 2012. Andreas and his crew aboard the Akalaria 40 (Class 40) Vaquita had just lapped the fleet, sailing the course in a remarkable 11 days and beating their nearest rival – a Swan 80 no less – by almost 24 hours. They took line honors and the overall. It’s no surprise, for Andreas is a highly accomplished sailor – he’s gone to the Olympics on several occasions and skippered Team Russia in the 2007/08 Volvo Ocean Race. We spoke about his sailing accomplishments, but also about his other passions in traveling, kayaking, skiing and mountaineering. Despite his larger-than-life stature, Andreas is a very grounded dude and super personable. 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: how cruising kills your Stuff

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-04-21 06:53
rich in experiences, poor in Stuff

Standing in the dinghy and holding the toe rail of the Canadian boat, Gromit, we quickly moved from introductions to bon voyage wishes for our newest cruising friends. Totem had recently arrived in the anchorage, and these twenty minutes were all the time we’d have before Gromit and crew departed for Thailand. Would we like their Malaysian internet SIM card? How about the mobile SIM? We open up our various devices, remove the Thai cards that we won’t need any more, and make the obvious trade with a quick swap over the water.

We had reached this anchorage with just enough time for a brief overlap with the ketch Rutea. Our prior meeting with Neal and Ruthie was a flyby in 2009, as they motored out of a small bay in the Sea of Cortez while we motored in and loitered with the boats adjacent for a few minutes of greetings and anchorage tips. A touch over 20,000 cruising miles later, we finally intersected for a night in an anchorage and shared a few hours in Rutea’s cockpit that afternoon. The priority was a chance to get to know each other better, but it’s impossible to pass up the obvious swap. Before they left the next day, we did an informal exchange- our remaining Thai baht for their Malaysian ringgit. Their daughter had recently left the boat, and left behind art supplies she wouldn’t reclaim- would we like them? (Yes!)

The lovely Tenaya arrived a few weeks later for yet another anticipated (and brief) meeting. Katie, Tenaya’s co-captain, had contacted us a year or so ago for information about cruising in Papua New Guinea. I took one look at their Facebook cover page with a dinghy packed full of happy kids in Vanuatu, and knew these were my people! Another brief but sweet encounter. Some swaps naturally occurred. Tenaya is being shipped to the North Sea, and isn’t allowed to have jerry cans: would we like their deck jugs? How about the stack of travel guides for Borneo, where we’ll be headed this year? We had another Thai internet SIM left by our friend Frank, still loaded with data- would they like it?

Actively sharing from what you have happens naturally with cruisers who are far from home. As soon as something isn’t needed, we try to pass it along.

The relatively minimalist lifestyle makes this easier. Moving aboard means getting rid of the overwhelming majority of your Stuff: today, we live with just a small fraction of our belongings from prior land-life. The less we have, the lighter and happier we feel, and perhaps ironically, the easier it is to give away.

Back at home, our garage held storage boxes with contents we no longer remembered. Other people have storage units – multiples even – that have been filled for years, with a considerable sum as the ransom for fear they might be needed, someday. On a boat, there’s no room to keep things you don’t need, and that in itself is a gift. Getting rid of those things that you don’t need (and if you have it packed away in a box, or a storage unit, there’s not much of a case for “need”) is liberating.

So when Kathy came back to Love Song from a trip home to the USA last week and stopped by to bring us a stack of magazines, I understood perfectly. She divided them between us and another boat; we’ll read them, trade, then move them along. When we got to Telaga, we brought a bag of clothes we no longer needed that Kathey’s boys might fit into. She had a t-shirts that were perfect for our girls.

Being adept at reusing what you have is a good skill for cruising remotely, and even not so remotely. Most cruisers have reduced dramatically in the transition to living aboard a boat. Recycling by passing along to others whatever has become excess, whether it’s a spare piece of teak or a good book, is natural.

Liberated minimalists know we feel the love when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Future Sailing – Wind Assisted Ferries

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-04-21 05:37

By Kimball Livingston Posted April 21, 2014

Eventually, someone is going to get “wind assisted” transport right.

Don’t bet against Richard Jenkins.

The same Richard Jenkins who spent his first ten adult years figuring out how to set a wing-powered landsailing speed record of 126.2 mph.

The same Richard Jenkins who recently, remotely, sailed a 19-foot, wing-and-solar-powered prototype drone from San Francisco Bay to Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, then to the South Pacific, and back, and who is now neck deep in developing his next generation Saildrone, capable of carrying a complete array of oceanographic research instrumentation to any coordinates on the blue reaches of the Blue Planet. Never putting humans in harm’s way. With none of the fuel burn or
accumulated costs of, say, a 200-foot diesel-powered research vessel. And there just might be a circumnavigation . . .

And— all of this is tied together by the control mechanism that Jenkins developed when he realized that his landsailer was hitting speeds too fast to be controlled by pulling on stuff, the way people sail a boat. Even a “stable” breeze had too much fluctuation for human response. But, a tiny trim tab, trailing behind the wing, set to maintain a constant angle of attack, could turn the trick.

Jenkins projects an impish enthusiasm, an infectious enthusiasm and a raw, boyish enthusiasm from beneath a halo of curly hair that shifts in the breeze. He sails. He flies. He innovates. He hits his marks. It’s easy to understand how, given the success of the prototype Saildrone, Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, would say yes to a proposal to fund a fleet. With his wife, Wendy, Schmidt funds the 11th Hour Project, putting juice into many environmental, climate, and oceans-related undertakings. But for Jenkins, it’s been a long road to get to this point. He will tell you, when he was building his fourth record-hunting landsailer, which turned out to be the right one, “I had no idea there was any practical application. I spent years thinking I would eventually take the speed record, and beyond that, what I had on my hands was a totally useless technology. It’s funny how one thing leads to another.”

Or he might quip about how he has turned an engineering career into an adventure in “double-down or quits.” Jenkins was a student in England, earning some money on the side at Green Marine, when he inquired about a curious contraption abandoned in a dark corner. It was, he was told, one of those record-hunter dreams, never finished, and in a flash he said something like, “Can I have it?”

So innocently did this begin.

On his landsailing record holder Greenbird, and on Saildrone in prototype and in its production form to be, the wing that powers the craft is high-aspect ratio. Tall and thin. On the prototype “ferry wing” that Wind + Wing Technologies now has in trials on San Francisco Bay, the control system stays the same, but the wing becomes something very different. Robust. Something that could be built for use on large ferries, no sailing talent needed, with a working lifespan of decades and near-zero maintenance.

That’s a lot to take in, but the more you learn, the more it makes sense, seven years into development.

I’ve been aboard for two demo rides (sandwiches, chips and—hot damn—Odwalla!) and one ride included representatives from the ferry industry whose curiosity, at least, has been piqued. Those are perhaps the only two occasions when I have been under sail with no intent, even given an opportunity, to turn off the motor. Not because you couldn’t, but, to prove the viability for a scheduled daily ferry service, the point is to demonstrate that the wing generates enough drive to allow the fuel burn to be throttled back for significant savings while maintaining a target speed. That is, demonstrate viability and potential ROI without sounding moon-eyed. Should a commercial ferry service someday find that there are certain runs and certain times when they can safely and responsibly shut down the diesels completely, let them discover that on their own and then explain this newfangled thing called “sailing” to the relevant authorities.

San Francisco Bay sailors have been sighting and wondering about this contraption for a while . . .

Another key player here is Jay Gardner, who has been operating the Adventure Cat ride and charter service on San Francisco Bay for 23 years. They’re kinda-sorta heroes to me, because they’ve taken more people sailing hereabouts than anybody else, ever, ever, ever. Jay and his wife, Pam Simonson, also built the 42-foot trimaran that is being used as the demo platform. One telling fact is that the wing can freewheel—it has survived a night at the dock in a sixty-knot storm; sans America’s Cup-catamaran dramas—and it creates only one-tenth the wind resistance of the mast and rigging that were removed to make way for it. When the demo project is complete, Pam gets her boat back, and a hatch will be installed where the wing spar now penetrates the cabin top through a 16-inch steel bearing, landing on a smaller bearing on the cabin sole.

The wing, 40 feet high and 10 feet wide, is powered by a 14-inch X 14-inch photocell on each side and has its own battery pack and actuator. Combine computer logic with the trim tab set about 15 degrees off the angle of the wing, and you get the somewhat eerie effect of a wing that is forever in motion as it responds to changes in the breeze, but doesn’t really seem to be working, because the boat continues on a steady course, and there is no noticeable heeling. For a sailing-type sailor, the lesson here is how variable a “stable” breeze can be, even for a boat moving at only 7 knots through the water.

Looking at the wing, don’t be fooled by the bright green area of what might appear to be the working trim tab. The actual working part is almost invisible at the back of that element, slightly offset because we were under way, on the trailing edge. As a great American once said, click to enlarge.

In a breeze in the teens, figuring a normal motoring speed of 7 knots at 1800 rpm, the demo tri burns a carefully-monitored .55 to .66 gallons per hour. Turn the wing on (and that’s really all there is for the operator to do, a key fob does the trick) and you can see the boat maintaining 7 knots as the throttle is pulled back to 1200 rpm and the fuel burn drops by half, to the range of .3 gallons per hour. Do the math on an 11-mile ferry run from San Francisco to Sausalito, with an annual fuel burn of 450-500,000 gallons, and you’re into serious reductions in costs and emissions. True savings, however, would fall in the range of 20 percent, allowing for calm winter days or early summer mornings when the famously-strong San Francisco seabreeze is not cranked up. In light-wind regions, you would need a completely new analysis of ROI.

Regular readers will know that I like to describe the Golden Gate wind slot as the world’s greatest Venturi tube. We have a seabreeze and a half, and that is what Jay Gardner likes to describe (quote approximate) as, “the closest thing to a perpetual motion machine.”

It is imaginable but not likely that existing catamaran ferries could be retrofitted. Considering the bureaucracy involved in proving the safety of such a thing, a new build makes a better picture. Jenkins and Gardner figure that for, say, a new $20 million ferry, two wings could be added for another $4-5 million. “You would pay that off in two to five years,” Gardner says. “There’s no reason why a wing built to be strong and simple can’t have a service life of 30 years, and there are ferries operating now that are 40 years old. The potential long-term savings are huge.”

And the way the numbers play out, the faster the boat, the better the wing works.

Fuel burn on the demo boat is calculated by measuring the amounts going into the injectors and also coming out. The data is relayed to the Berkeley laboratory of Dr. Timothy Lipman, Co-Director for the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California. There is nothing haphazard about this attempt to redefine the future. Funding for the demo project has come from the Air Quality Improvement Program, California Air Resources Board, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, plus Gardner’s Venture Cat company and Jenkins’ Photon Composites.

The rendering here comes from the office of Morrelli & Melvin, which has done the conceptual engineering for the ferry project. You may have heard of them. And if not, you should try harder. Clicking the link is the easy part. I note that M&M shows a two-element wing, while Jenkins’ prototype has a single element and is aimed at ultimate simplicity and durability. I suggest we let those details sort themselves out in the fullness of time because I really do believe that, someday, someone is going to get “sail assisted” right. Probably well ahead of any clean-energy magic bullet.

In other wing-powered sailing craft, you turn the rudder and the wing turns along with the boat. Jenkins’ wing is free-rotating, governed independently by its relationship to the wind and to the boat and always assuming its correct angle. Adding or subtracting wing thrust is as simple as dialing in an off-wing-center angle for the trim tab.

Thus my sensation that the wing doesn’t seem to be working, when it is.

And it was.

It was working as Richard, at right in the photo, talked sailing with Adventure Cat skipper Michael, and we made target speed ahead, throttle-back, burn-low.

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