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Serenety has arrived to Grenada!

Sail Feed - Thu, 2015-02-19 12:10

Serenity arrived to Grenada last night around 1.30 am in the morning! When I spoke to Andy this morning I asked if they were having a good time and if everything was alright. His answer was ‘Oh yes it is great, Jake is cooking an omelette, I just went for a swim off the boat and we have rainbow above us’.  Sounds pretty nice to me!

I am sure Andy will post a blog himself here during their days in Grenada, this is just a quick update from me that they have arrived!

I spotted Serenity on the marinetraffic.com website via their AIS signal. 

Passage making: Malaysia to Sri Lanka, part two

Sail Feed - Thu, 2015-02-19 03:35

Coastal Cruising has dominated the last couple of years in Southeast Asia. Our passage making skills are rusty. Before we left, I wondered: what habits would we have to relearn? What would come back like muscle memory? Read about the first half of the passage here – this picks up with the back half.

Day 5

With less than 500 miles to Trincomalee, our halfway mileage mark, we celebrate at breakfast with a cherry coffee cake.

Utopia on the horizon at dawn one morning

We left with Utopia, a Beneteau 50 with an Aussie family aboard. Incredibly, we’ve remained within visual range of our friends for the duration of the passage to date. That’s pretty unusual, especially under somewhat varied conditions. We’ve had wind from just a couple of knots to the low twenties, and apparent wind angles from 60 to 180 degrees. Then again, our main prior reference is with the two boats we shared many passages with in the South Pacific: a Baba 30, IO, and a Nordhavn 64, Oso Blanco. It would be hard to find more differently paced vessels than that triumvirate to “bungee boat” together.

I’ve stashed liter-sized bottles to use in collecting water samples for a citizen science project on ocean plastics we’re contributing too. Siobhan spies one ready for a sample, and decides we should use it for a message in a bottle.

There’s an evening radio net for Indian Ocean boats on the SSB, but it has very little traffic. We planned to add a morning net to touch base with Utopia but decide it’s unnecessary since we’re remained in VHF range. The proximity adds fun for the kids: Siobhan and Ava play battleship over the radio one morning. Meanwhile, the wind has come behind and lightened up again: perfect conditions for our asymmetric. We fly it for ten glorious hours and put away the miles.

In the evening, Jamie realizes we’ve reached a major milestone- much bigger than the passage halfway mark: at this longitude, we have now sailed halfway around the world from the easternmost point we reached in Pacific Mexico. Halfway around the world! It feels pretty good.

you sank my battleship! Siobhan and Ava play over the VHF

Day 6

The end is in sight! The forecast keeps adjusting, and lighter winds we originally expected haven’t materialized. It looks like we should arrive in Trincomalee on our eighth day. Since we don’t want to arrive in the dark, now it’s just a question of whether conditions will make it easy for us to line up with a daytime arrival or if we’ll have to consider either slowing down.

This was the point at which we weren’t supposed to have much wind at all, but it’s a stunning 12-15 on the beam all day. It fades at night, but still helps us keep pace for day 8 arrival.

It’s Valentine’s Day! We eat an all-red dinner of roasted pepper risotto and tomato salad, with red foil wrapped chocolate hearts for dessert.

At night, the first Sri Lankan fishing boats appear as we near 200 nm from Sri Lanka. We haven’t seen a single fishing boat since the Indonesian crew off the north end of Sumatra, or a single commercial vessel since leaving that funnel into the Malacca Strait. Jamie’s on watch and picks the boat up on radar initially, then sees their lights ahead. As we get closer, the lights are turned out- why? He alters course to avoid the boat.

Day 7

Winds have been light night, without enough for us to do anything but bang and slat in the 1.5m seas. It’s hard on us and hard on gear, so on goes the engine from the wee hours through early light.

we read a LOT of books on this passage

There’s a new game on board today: it’s called find the squeak! Where is the squeak? We’d sure like to know before it causes a problem, whether that’s breakage or mental sanity. The first reef line has stretched and is one of the early culprits. Jamie finds the alternator belt loose (again) after motoring. But the one we have the most trouble pinning down turns out to be the autopilot. That’s a pretty important piece of gear for us: Jamie tries to lube it, but it’s difficult, so it will get more TLC after landfall.

Meanwhile, silliness in the crew is a known symptom of etended time at sea. Jamie has discovered that Trincomalee and Tipperary can be swapped out and a whole new set of verses drafted for “It’s a long way to Tipperary Trincomalee.” Niall backs it up on the ukulele (note to self: must get a proper tuner for the uke…ouch).

Day 8

All we can think about is how we’ve nearly there! Jamie sights land mid-morning. Fishing boats are everywhere now, but none have tried to approach. After hearing stories about boats trading DVDs for drinking coconuts in the middle of the Bay of Bengal, we’ve kind of wondered what we’d experience. They’re definitely more interested in catching fish than meeting with us, and it’s a little disappointing. We finally make landfall with seven days, four and a half hours of passage time.

Readers who appreciate the sweet sweet taste of arrival always click to the post on Sailfeed – thanks for kicking a little change in our cruising kitty!

Serenity update 2015.02.18

Sail Feed - Wed, 2015-02-18 17:04

Hi everyone!

Once again I have an update from the Serenity crew. Andy called me around 10am, the wind had eased of a bit and they could raise full sail for the first time in two days. The night was a bit rough with up to 30 kt of wind, so the light wind was a nice break for them. They also spotted some dolphins just before they called!!

Position at 2018.02.18 10 am
13°04’N 62°16’W
12 kt of Wind

They were only about 65 miles from Grenada so they are expecting to arrive sometime tonight. They will have a few days in Grenada before heading back to the BVI again.

Cheers,
Mia

Serenity update 2015.02.17

Sail Feed - Tue, 2015-02-17 15:50

Hi everyone!

Here is today’s update from the Serenity crew. Andy called me once again early in the morning, at 8 am this morning they were just west Dominica, so not too far to go to reach Grenada.

Position 2015.02.17, 8am local time/EST
15°00’N 62°53’W
Wind 15-20 kt

They had a wonderful sail yesterday with 15 kt of wind and full sails. The wind picked up a bit over night to about 25kt, but were back down to 15-20 again when i spoke to Andy.

Last night the enjoyed Spaghetti Bolognese with Garlic bread for dinner thanks to ‘Chef Tom’. Still no swimming but they were planning to slow the boat down and go for a swim today if the wind dropped a little.

It was great to hear from them and is sounds like they are having a great time aboard Serenity.

I heard rumors that you can spot them on AIS, but at the moment when they are far from land their signal does not show up. I am pretty sure you will be able to see them on AIS once they get closer to Grenada. AIS can be viewed on marine traffic’s website: www.marinetraffic.com (zoom in on the Caribbean and Grenada)

Keep the comments coming, the crew will love to read them once they are in Grenada!

Mia

Serenity 2015.02.17, 8 am: 15°00’N 62°53’W, just west of Dominica. Serenity is the red drop on the map.

MIBS 2015: Ocean Signal, ACR, C-Map, Garmin GNX, Lumitec and Veethree

Sail Feed - Tue, 2015-02-17 09:29

Written by Ben Ellison on Feb 17, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

It’s often hard to organize the news from a busy event like the Miami International Boat Show (MIBS), but this year a few of my photos stood out because they also portray the people behind the electronics. So say hello to Ocean Signal founder James Flynn, seen here showing off their latest ultra compact rescueME safety devices. The MOB1 personal AIS beacon with its added DSC alarm seems impressively simple to fit and use, and thanks to recent FCC approval, it’s now available here in the USA.

The new Ocean Signal rescueME EPIRB1 also impressed, but the beacon being used in the dramatic simulation above was no doubt well made by ACR, who co-hosted this kickoff “Saved by the Beacon” campaign event with the National Safe Boating Council. I really appreciate the steadfast ability of the COSPAS-SARSAT system and the need for all of us to keep our EPIRB/PLB registrations in order; plus, it was great to have an opportunity to cheer USCG boat and helicopter responders. But several of us noticed that an AIS MOB beacon might have been a better tool for this particular rescue scenario, and I look forward to the day when the SAR community shows more interest in SEND devices like the DeLorme inReach I often carry.

The flares used during the EPIRB demo and later in the dark were new ACR Aurora models that may well become commonplace. The red Aurora Hand Flares will purportedly cost little more than the Orion handhelds most every recreational boat now uses to fulfill USCG requirements, but they are 21 times brighter and seem a lot safer to use. The pull ignitor being shown by ACR marketing director Mikele D’Arcangelo above, for instance, looks a lot friendlier than the striker method. There will also be an Aurora Smoke Flare and yes, these new models seem similar to flares made by ACR sister company PainsWessex but without the SOLAS rating (and higher price). The new flares are not on ACR’s marine product page yet, but you can see Mikele making comparisons here.

The Jeppesen C-Map gang — Roger Brudenell, Francesco Altamura, Ken Cirillo, and James Detar — were a lot more joyful than I was able to photograph. A nearly full implementation of the C-Map 4D cartography suite was looking quite good on all those Raymarine displays, and it can now be yours with the new Lighthouse 13 update. (Note that matching raster charts will come with every vector region — including paper-like Explorer charts of the Bahamas — but Easy Routing and Guardian Alarm are still on the to-do list.) Add Raymarine compatability to the improving quality of Max-N+ charts for Navico MFDs that I saw in Hawk’s Cay and suddenly C-Map is a compelling choice for a whole lot of boaters.

While I think that Jan Silfven was also grinning on the inside, both of us were intent on trying to show how well a Garmin GNX display does its thing in bright Miami sunlight. Jan was part owner of Nexus Marine at one point, then a partner of Dean Barker, and now he seems excited to be part of the Garmin sail performance team in Sweden. He’s also the guy who once showed me how quickly a custom data label could be programmed into a Nexus display — illustration here — and I was happy to learn at the show that Garmin is making that sort of customization easy on the GNX for third party racing developers.

I was tickled to learn that Lumitec founder and CEO John Kujawa has teamed up with several other outstanding engineers on a research project called the innovation boat. For instance, while using simple on/off power switching to put light fixtures into different dim and color modes is common practice, this boat combines that idea with the speed and precision of digital switching (by CZone). The result is a simple interface that can deeply control individual lights on single power circuit while also being light on install expense and hassle. It’s still an experiment, though.

Finally, Veethree Intruments sales engineer Eric Mueller showed me the company’s very interesting new Engine Gateway Monitor, which can put analog and J1939 engine data onto NMEA 2000 networks as well as display it (PDF here). Veethree is the instrument side of Teleflex and they know a lot about engine monitoring. Eric also had a prototype for a black box version of the gateway that will also be flexible and reasonably priced.

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

Passage making: Malaysia to Sri Lanka

Sail Feed - Tue, 2015-02-17 05:30

Coastal Cruising has dominated the last couple of years in Southeast Asia. Our passage making skills are rusty. Before we left, I wondered: what habits would we have to relearn? What would come back like muscle memory?

Day 0

When you take off for a voyage, sometimes, it’s best just to tuck around the corner instead of going directly into the event. The final weeks we spent in Langkawi, Malaysia, were so jammed with projects and shopping runs and goodbyes: our last hike to the waterfalls, our last evening with friends at Mare Blu, our last barbecue on the harbor islet. We honestly needed a break before embarking. So when we raised anchor from Telaga Harbour, we only sailed 30 miles to Thailand’s Butang Islands, tucked into a pretty anchorage by a deserted beach, and spent a day (and a couple of nights) resting up and doing our last tasks at a more relaxed pace.

Day 1

When we finally did take off, it was a rolly ride dead down wind in 18-20 knots. Not the most comfortable point of sail, but after all the motoring we’ve done in Asia, it felt really good; the dolphin sendoff from the last point of land didn’t hurt either. We play with various sail combinations, and end up with a single reef in the main and a poled-out genoa, as in the photo at top.

Around 50 nm out, we started crossing bands of current every 5-10 nm. I’ve never seen anything like it: they run perpendicular to our westward path, as far as the eye can see. Inside them the sea state changes from relatively smooth swells with a few wind waves, to washing machine chaos. Oddly, it seems to have little effect on Totem, although it looks like we should be thrown around or have our speed affected.  At night, the frothy wave crests in these rivers glow green with bioluminescence and make for an eerie stripe in the ocean.

Day 2

The wind goes light and we end up making about 150 miles in our first 24 hour run. It’s typical to get lighter as the NE monsoon season progresses, and the weather data we’re getting on our new Iridium GO! from PredictWind indicate we’ll have less and less breeze as the passage goes on. We’re anticipating about 10 days to landfall, although with better wind we should be able to manage it pretty easily in six or seven. This day we just want enough to propel us between Sumatra to the south and the Nicobar islands to the north, after which we can alter course and point more northwest towards Trincomalee. That will give us a better angle on the wind, both because of our heading and because of an expected wind shift west of the Nicobars. Until then, there’s a nice boost from the current and we’re squeezed like a watermelon seed between Indonesia and India into the Bay of Bengal. It’s a good 1.5+ kts and helps keep progress in the light air.

There’s nothing but ocean in every direction, but we’re far from alone. Just after dawn, I have to alter course so we don’t bump into an Indonesian fishing trawler. Passing just a few boat lengths away, work stops for the men hauling a large net on deck as they whoop and wave. One man holds a tuna aloft, another waves us over. Siobhan and I clap and yell and wave but decline the invitation.

Ships pointing to the Malacca Strait funnel here in a wide band that requires constant vigilance. It’s amazing how quickly a 700’ cargo ship goes from horizon speck to behemoth when moving at 20 knots. I’m grateful for the AIS transponder we added to Totem last year. Previously, we had a receiver, as transponders were not yet available to private boats when we left the US. But having made the switch, we can see how the large merchant ships alter course for us, and never reach the point we need to make a radio call to alert them our presence. It is tremendous peace of mind.

The wind gets lighter and lighter, so we motorsail a few hours to try and get to the point where we can turn up towards Trinco.

Day 3

Shortly before we left Malaysia, a package arrived from my parents. Inside, a grand treat among many goodies: a chocolate babka from Zabar’s! They’ve had it shipped from New York City to surprise us. If you’ve ever had one, you know how special this is- but it’s extra special for us. When I lived in the East Village years ago, and Jamie would visit from Connecticut on the weekends, we’d rollerblade (hey it was the early 90s!) to the upper west side delicatessen / specialty grocer regularly to indulge in this chocolatey delight. Now we dole out slices for breakfast, and manage to get three days from the loaf.

The wind picks up a few hours after sunrise and we’re treated to spectacular sailing conditions: relatively flat seas, and 10-15 kts on the quarter. As if we weren’t having enough fun yet, a pod of a half dozen whales – humpbacks? – pass nearby to bless our progress, although it’s a little sobering to look beyond them as they pass between Totem and a tanker that’s more than four football fields long. The only downside to these great conditions is that we’re sailing too fast to catch any fish. I’m not going to complain.

Day 4

We’re a little out of sorts for the first few days, getting used to disrupted sleep patterns and the motion at sea. But by the fourth day the mental fog clears, and with such comfortable conditions as we’re having the daily routine becomes even more enjoyable. And truly, it is glorious! Our new angle puts the breeze more squarely on the beam most of the time, a fast and flat point of sail on Totem, and gentle seas keep the motion very comfortable. As if we weren’t already on a high, the dolphin escort joins us in the early hours of the fourth day to lift our spirits again. The half dozen common dolphins aren’t always visible in the dark, but puffs of breath at the surface remind us of these constant companions. The pod stays until just after dawn, and then disappears to the north.

Nighttime watch has a magical quality when you’re not fighting to stay alert. We’ve left with a waning moon: not ideal, since it will give us little light for the back half of the passage, but great for stargazing. In the wee hours, I can see the Big Dipper and North Star to starboard; to port, the Southern Cross stretches up into the sky.

During the day, we cross the halfway mark in terms of mileage. But we’ve had a good breeze, and the forecast still shows it getting lighter ahead, stretching out our expected days at sea. That’s OK: we’re in the passage making grove now. And in truth, conditions are so pleasant, we just don’t care if it takes us longer to make landfall. Thankfully, it seems we haven’t had to re-learn passage making lessons the hard way…yet.

Next post: the last 500 miles to Sri Lanka.

Passage-ready readers always click to the post on Sailfeed – thanks for kicking a little change in our cruising kitty!

Drew Hardesty

Sail Feed - Tue, 2015-02-17 01:00

This one is for the sailors who are also skiers – Drew Hardesty is a forecaster with the Utah Avalanche Center. How does he relate to sailing? Drew is the definition of an outdoorsman, and the wilderness envrionment that is the backcountry in the mountains of Utah is strikingly similar, philosophically, to the wilderness that is the high seas, and both are blessed and cursed with the same adventure and the same problems.

Drew and Andy discuss his career as a rescue-climber and backcountry avalanche forecaster, as well as Drew’s ideas on how to manage the influx of people into the backcountry, how those same problems plague the ocean sailing community, his hopes and fears to the future of backcountry use, and what he thinks we can do about it.

Reach out to Drew to join his backcountry outreach program on drew [at] utahavalanchecenter [dot] org, or check out avalanche.org for more information. 

Want to go ocean sailing with Andy? Book a berth on 59-north.com/events.

MID-BLIZZARD EVACUATION: Australians Rescued Off $10K eBay Boat

Sail Feed - Mon, 2015-02-16 23:48

Yet another mid-winter North Atlantic Coast Guard helicopter rescue. Not off a new boat this time, but off an old 43-foot Carroll Marine racing sled, Sedona (built in 1995), that an Australian, Jason McGlashan, age 37, bought on eBay for $10,000 US. Apparently the price was too low to resist, and Jason and his dad, Reg, age 66, flew into Rhode Island a while back to prep the boat for a delivery back to Oz. The eyebrow-raising bits are that a) they departed from Jamestown last Friday, right in front of the huge blizzard we endured this weekend, and b) apparently the Coast Guard, as well as someone who had worked on the boat, strongly warned the duo not to leave.

The evacuation, via an MH-60 Jayhawk out of Cape Cod, took place 150 miles south of Nantucket around 9 a.m. yesterday after Jason asked for assistance and reported that Sedona was without power, with shredded sails. By the time the Aussies were safe and sound aboard the CG chopper, the wind was reportedly blowing 60 mph and seas were running at 25 feet. The air temperature was 35 degrees; water temperature was 43.

Brrr.

As usual, you can catch the action courtesy of a CG video:

According to a report in the Newport Daily News, Sedona originally belonged to and was raced by Len Hubbard of Jamestown, who donated the boat to an unnamed charity, which subsequently listed it for sale on eBay. According to an anonymous source cited by the gCaptain website, Hubbard got rid of the boat because its hull was delaminating. Hubbard also reportedly brought the McGlashans some food prior to their departure.

From left to right: Reg McGlashan, Len and Jill Hubbard (the boat’s prior owners), and Jason McGlashan (Photo courtesy of the Newport Daily News)

Reg and Jason down below (Photo courtesy of the Newport Daily News)

Jason, a sailor since childhood, planned to take Sedona to Port Macquarie, Australia, via the Cape of Good Hope and the Southern Ocean and expected the voyage to last 6-8 weeks. He hoped eventually to sail her on a record attempt around Australia.

“We’ve never done anything like this,” Jason told the Newport Daily News. “Dad’s not even a sailor, but he’s a quick study. We’ve got plenty of food, plenty of booze, good sails and all the safety gear you could ever need, so we’re going to be OK.”

Jason McGlashan aboard Sedona yesterday morning, prior to being evacuated

We have no details as to exactly what was going wrong on the boat, so it would be presumptuous to second-guess the McGlashans’ decision to call for help. It seems, however, we may know enough to speculate a bit about their decision to set off in the first place. If it’s true the Coast Guard felt they shouldn’t leave, and warned them not to, I have to wonder why they weren’t simply ordered to stay in port, as happened to George McKay and his ludicrous galleon up in Rockland, Maine, several years back.

The forum chatter is also full of questions about whether the McGlashans should have to pay for their rescue, given the circumstances. Speaking both as someone who has  been rescued by the Coast Guard, and as a taxpayer, I do believe there should be some mechanism for deciding when compensation is appropriate. I don’t think any of us who were aboard Be Good Too last year would be at all uncomfortable describing our adventure to a tribunal.

The important thing, of course, is that the McGlashans are safe, and once again we must give thanks for that to the Coast Guard, who really had their work cut out for them this time. The weather was so bad I barely left the house this past weekend; I can’t imagine what it was like swimming off Nantucket.

IN OTHER NEWS: Sailing Anarchy has just published a nice account by Jen Edney (one of my favorite up-and-coming sailing photogs) about a delivery aboard the latest Gunboat 55, Toccata, from North Carolina to Miami. SA hints that more news concerning hull no. 1, Rainmaker, which was recently abandoned off North Carolina, is forthcoming, so I’m wondering about that salvage attempt Gunboat CEO Peter Johnstone said would be undertaken.

Also, I was remiss in not mentioning the loss of Flyin’ Hawaiian earlier this month.

Built in a parking lot by James Lane, who dreamed of voyaging to Hawaii, this craft, constructed of plywood and 2x4s, was 65 feet long and weighed 8 tons

Another home-built monstrosity in the tradition of Raw Faith (except it seemed a bit tidier, I have to say), Flyin’ Hawaiian generated much controversy around San Francisco Bay before foundering off the coast with five crew aboard, who were plucked from peril (once again) by Coast Guard helicopters.

God love ‘em.

For more details you can check out this post by Clark Beek, my compatriot at SAILfeed.

MID-BLIZZARD EVACUATION: Australians Rescued Off $10K eBay Boat

Sail Feed - Mon, 2015-02-16 23:48

Yet another mid-winter North Atlantic Coast Guard helicopter rescue. Not off a new boat this time, but off an old 43-foot Carroll Marine racing sled, Sedona (built in 1995), that an Australian, Jason McGlashan, age 37, bought on eBay for $10,000 US. Apparently the price was too low to resist, and Jason and his dad, Reg, age 66, flew into Rhode Island a while back to prep the boat for a delivery back to Oz. The eyebrow-raising bits are that a) they departed from Jamestown last Friday, right in front of the huge blizzard we endured this weekend, and b) apparently the Coast Guard, as well as someone who had worked on the boat, strongly warned the duo not to leave.

The evacuation, via an MH-60 Jayhawk out of Cape Cod, took place 150 miles south of Nantucket around 9 a.m. yesterday after Jason asked for assistance and reported that Sedona was without power, with shredded sails. By the time the Aussies were safe and sound aboard the CG chopper, the wind was reportedly blowing 60 mph and seas were running at 25 feet. The air temperature was 35 degrees; water temperature was 43.

Brrr.

As usual, you can catch the action courtesy of a CG video:

According to a report in the Newport Daily News, Sedona originally belonged to and was raced by Len Hubbard of Jamestown, who donated the boat to an unnamed charity, which subsequently listed it for sale on eBay. According to an anonymous source cited by the gCaptain website, Hubbard got rid of the boat because its hull was delaminating. Hubbard also reportedly brought the McGlashans some food prior to their departure.

From left to right: Reg McGlashan, Len and Jill Hubbard (the boat’s prior owners), and Jason McGlashan (Photo courtesy of the Newport Daily News)

Reg and Jason down below (Photo courtesy of the Newport Daily News)

Jason, a sailor since childhood, planned to take Sedona to Port Macquarie, Australia, via the Cape of Good Hope and the Southern Ocean and expected the voyage to last 6-8 weeks. He hoped eventually to sail her on a record attempt around Australia.

“We’ve never done anything like this,” Jason told the Newport Daily News. “Dad’s not even a sailor, but he’s a quick study. We’ve got plenty of food, plenty of booze, good sails and all the safety gear you could ever need, so we’re going to be OK.”

Jason McGlashan aboard Sedona yesterday morning, prior to being evacuated

We have no details as to exactly what was going wrong on the boat, so it would be presumptuous to second-guess the McGlashans’ decision to call for help. It seems, however, we may know enough to speculate a bit about their decision to set off in the first place. If it’s true the Coast Guard felt they shouldn’t leave, and warned them not to, I have to wonder why they weren’t simply ordered to stay in port, as happened to George McKay and his ludicrous galleon up in Rockland, Maine, several years back.

The forum chatter is also full of questions about whether the McGlashans should have to pay for their rescue, given the circumstances. Speaking both as someone who has  been rescued by the Coast Guard, and as a taxpayer, I do believe there should be some mechanism for deciding when compensation is appropriate. I don’t think any of us who were aboard Be Good Too last year would be at all uncomfortable describing our adventure to a tribunal.

The important thing, of course, is that the McGlashans are safe, and once again we must give thanks for that to the Coast Guard, who really had their work cut out for them this time. The weather was so bad I barely left the house this past weekend; I can’t imagine what it was like swimming off Nantucket.

IN OTHER NEWS: Sailing Anarchy has just published a nice account by Jen Edney (one of my favorite up-and-coming sailing photogs) about a delivery aboard the latest Gunboat 55, Toccata, from North Carolina to Miami. SA hints that more news concerning hull no. 1, Rainmaker, which was recently abandoned off North Carolina, is forthcoming, so I’m wondering about that salvage attempt Gunboat CEO Peter Johnstone said would be undertaken.

Also, I was remiss in not mentioning the loss of Flyin’ Hawaiian earlier this month.

Built in a parking lot by James Lane, who dreamed of voyaging to Hawaii, this craft, constructed of plywood and 2x4s, was 65 feet long and weighed 8 tons

Another home-built monstrosity in the tradition of Raw Faith (except it seemed a bit tidier, I have to say), Flyin’ Hawaiian generated much controversy around San Francisco Bay before foundering off the coast with five crew aboard, who were plucked from peril (once again) by Coast Guard helicopters.

God love ‘em.

For more details you can check out this post by Clark Beek, my compatriot at SAILfeed.

Serenity update 2015.02.16 8am

Sail Feed - Mon, 2015-02-16 18:48

Hi Everyone!

Position 2015.02.16 8am (13 local time in Sweden where I am at the moment):
17°00’N 63°45’W
15 kt of wind

I got a phone call from Andy today with their updated position. They are having a great time, had a lovely sail with 10kt of wind during the night and 15kt of wind when he called at eight in the morning. The night was pretty dark with no moon, but they all enjoyed it.

One of the crew got a little seasick (not sure who) over night but according to Andy recovered quickly. No swimming yet but I think that’s only a question on time, I am sure they will slow the boat down one of the days and go for a swim in the ocean!

It was great to hear from them and I make sure to ask more questions next time so I can update you with some fun info tomorrow.

Serenity’s position at 8am local time / EST. BVi where they departed are the group of islands to the right of Puerto Rico.

Serenty has departed Tortola

Sail Feed - Sun, 2015-02-15 16:55

Serenity before departure in Nanny Cay marina, Tortola BVI

Hi Everyone,

This is Mia, Andy’s wife.  I will be updating this blog every time I hear for Serenity,  so keep checking back here for updates.

I spoke to Andy today and they were planning to depart Nanny Cay marina around noon today Sunday February 15. All crew arrived yesterday, Andy & Jake has filled up some great food and the only thing they needed to do today before departure was to fill up the water tanks.

I hope to hear from the boat tomorrow, so check back sometime in the afternoon or evening for an update! 

LEEWARD ISLANDS CRUISE: St. Kitts and Nevis

Sail Feed - Sat, 2015-02-14 18:12

This was my primary personal goal for Lunacy‘s winter season in St. Martin. Together with fellow SEMOSA members, Phil “He Of Many Nicknames” Cavanaugh and Charles “May I Cast Off Now?” Lassen, I had previously sailed Lunacy south from St. Martin to explore Saba and Statia. Also, of course, I have voyaged with the immediate family north and east to the more immediately neighboring islands of Anguilla and St. Bart’s. But this year I wanted to get to St. Kitts and Nevis, to the southeast, which are probably the furthest islands you can easily reach from St. Martin during a one-week round-trip cruise.

The most difficult part of the process, sadly, was just flying down to the boat. Thanks to the biblical snowstorms we’ve had here in New England (plus an ugly bout I had with the flu), “Many Nicknames” Cavanuagh and I had to postpone our first flight down to SXM for a week, during which time (in a bid to take advantage of said snowstorms) Phil tore up his knee in a grim skiing accident. Our next attempt (with Phil now in ortho-knee-gear) was then pushed back a day by yet another snowstorm, and by the time we finally emerged in the bright tropic sun on the tarmac at Princess Juliana Airport we looked and felt like a pair of pale snow-shocked out-patients.

At least we hit the ground running. Within 24 hours of arriving we had prepared the boat to sail, taxied halfway across the island and back to shuffle paper and pay exit fees, purchased provisions, and sailed out to Ile Fourchue, an uninhabited islet about halfway between St. Martin and St. Bart’s.

The anchorage at Ile Fourchue. There were a surprising number of boats here, all of which (including Lunacy) were rolling like pigs as a southerly swell crept in through the night

This proved an excellent launching point for our leap to St. Kitts the following morning. It not only is a bit closer to the west end of St. Kitts, but is also further east than St. Martin, so instead of a tight closehauled board of 40 miles or so, we had a fast close reach of about 35 miles and consequently made good time. The next stretch, about 10 miles of motorsailing to windward from Sandy Point to the main town of Basseterre, was more tedious, but not at all uncomfortable, as the wind is diminished and the water quite flat close to the island’s long southwest coast.

Phil claps binoculars on St. Kitts as we approach from the north. It’s nearly 4,000 feet high and the lofty peak, dubbed Mt. Limuiga, is perpetually shrouded in clouds

One of many abandoned sugar mills we passed on the leeward shore, with a nice stretch of rain forest rising in the background. All the modern mills on the island closed down in 2005

Basseterre is a classic old West Indian town–a mix of old colonial architecture, corrugated tin, unlikely shops, and lots of colorful-looking characters. There is a small marina for yachts, but we anchored out, preferring to keep air moving through the boat at the cost of some rolling. (At times, reportedly, the rolling can be unendurable, and the marina becomes the only reasonable option.) Directly adjacent the marina there is a large cruise-ship terminal and a goofy cruise-ship shopping mall, but it seems none of the honky-tonk touristic nonsense from in there spills out into the town itself.

The portal of modern Caribbean commerce. There was one cruise ship in port when we showed up, and another when we left two days later, and four scheduled to come in the day after that

Marching in the streets. These are supporters of the Labour Party, which has been in power the last 20 years. An election is scheduled for early next week

The Edgar O. Challenger Library, part of the St. Kitts Research Document University

People here take great pride in their motor vehicles

The open-air market had lots of tasty-looking local produce

A fishmonger on the beach

On wandering into town we were immediately immersed in a large political rally. This featured lots of red-shirted people and loud cheerful music that unfortunately kept playing all night long and easily carried out to the anchorage. The next morning we learned more about the upcoming election from Matthew, a.k.a. Caveman, who agreed to drive us around the island in his taxi.

St. Kitts and Nevis, the smallest independent nation in the Americas, was originally a bit bigger, as it also included Anguilla, about 70 miles north, after the British, the former colonial power in question, cut the three islands loose back in the mid-1960s. The Anguillians, however, did not want to be in an independent nation with St. Kitts and so quickly rebelled, driving several Kittitian police officers off their island in 1967. The Kittitians threatened to invade Anguilla in retaliation, but the Anguillians beat them to the punch and attempted (unsuccessfully) to invade St. Kitts instead with the help of two hired mercenaries. Somehow this imbroglio led the British to conclude that Anguilla was being taken over by the Mafia, and so they invaded Anguilla themselves in 1969. This British “Bay of Piglets,” as it was known (the official name was “Operation Sheepskin“), was a great comic event in modern Caribbean history, as 135 paratroopers and 40 police from Scotland Yard stormed ashore and were greeted not by Mafia insurgents, but by members of the press who had been tipped off in advance. (You can see a short film of the invasion here.)

In any event, it seems Kittitian politics are just as entertaining as ever. As he drove us around the island, Caveman (a supporter of the opposition People’s Action Movement) complained to us at some length about the Labour Party and its leader, Prime Minister Dr. Denzil “Dougie” Douglas. The immediate controversy involved a nefarious gerrymandering scheme, in which Dougie had unilaterally redrawn all the voting district boundaries in his favor just weeks before the election, and as we toured the island Caveman explained in some detail which villages were anti-Labour and how the new boundaries had been drawn to dilute their constituencies.

(Note: according to yesterday’s news a five-justice privy council in the U.K. has just overturned Dougie’s plot, ruling the election must be held with the old district boundaries, which no doubt has made our friend Caveman very happy!)

Caveman did show us some other stuff while talking politics. This saman tree on the Romney Manor in Old Road Town is reputed to be the oldest tree on the island. Its crown shades almost an acre of ground!

The original Romney Manor burned to the ground and has been replaced by workshops and a store run by Caribelle Batiks

Brimstone Hill (as seen from the water here when we later sailed past) is a UN World Heritage site and is home to a troop of African green vervet monkeys, some of whom we encountered on the road to the top. Of course, there’s also an old colonial fort up here, which has recently been restored

View from the fort looking west. Those are the islands of Statia and Saba visible on the horizon

The view looking east, with Nevis (shrouded in its own forest-nurturing cloud) visible in the distance

The view looking down as a Sunsail bareboat lopes by on its way back to St. Martin

A volcanically rocky bit of the island’s windward shore

The next day, Sunday, we sailed over to check out Nevis, but because it was Sunday nothing much was going on there, except on the beach, where again there was loud cheerful music playing at high volume.

Lunacy on a mooring at Nevis, with the cloud-capped Nevis Peak (about 3,200 feet high) in the distance. Anchoring is now forbidden here, but there’s no shortage of moorings

The heart of Charlestown, the island’s major community, dead as a doornail on a Sunday afternoon

The only restaurant we found open in town was the Chinese Tea House, where young agnostics like to gather instead of going to church. If you make a government-approved investment of $400K or more you can become a citizen of the nation of St. Kitts-Nevis, and judging from the many Chinese-owned business we saw, I’m guessing many investor-citizens are in fact from China

This is Star, an old Marco Polo triple-master designed by L. Francis Herreshoff that is home-ported here in Nevis. I have often seen her in Bermuda and last I was there met her owners, Steve and Irene, who spend summers on Cape Cod and winters down here

We would have liked to spend more time on Nevis, as it seems a quiet, very attractive place, with a more hikable mountain than St. Kitts, but we also wanted to drop in at St. Bart’s on the way back to Oyster Pond, as Phil had never been there before. I warned him St. Bart’s isn’t really part of the Caribbean, but is off in its own alternative universe. (For example, it has always bugged me that there are hardly any black people on the island.) Once we got there, he was a bit surprised by just how true this is.

Your humble narrator, selfified during the sail to St. Bart’s

PC phones home as we edge out of range of the cell towers on St. Kitts. Note the knee brace and also the stylish do-rag. The latter was adopted after two different hats took off downwind

From Nevis to St. Bart’s was a 50-mile sail. We covered it in good time, about 7 hours, but were easily overhauled by this svelte Spirit

Our neighbors in the anchorage at St. Bart’s struggle to bring their tender aboard before heading off to another deluxe destination

Making the scene in fashion-conscious Gustavia. I bet that dog would kill to get that sweater off

After a night at Gustavia we retreated to Anse de Columbier, a far more civilized locale IMHO, where we enjoyed some snorkeling and our last sunset of the cruise

After we returned to Oyster Pond, I was kind of hoping the weather up north would delay our flying home, just as it had delayed our flying down, but we had no such luck. Bing bang boom—we were back in the cold right on schedule, and now I’m hunkered down in NH, waiting for the next blizzard to hit.

We’re looking for another 12 inches or so in the next 24 hours, on top of the 36 we already have.

(Sigh)

PS: In case you’re wondering what happened to Anguilla after the invasion, they were eventually taken over by Britain again, which is all they wanted in the first place.

PPS: This is what this weekend’s blizzard looks like on paper:

(Double sigh)

LEEWARD ISLANDS CRUISE: St. Kitts and Nevis

Sail Feed - Sat, 2015-02-14 18:12

This was my primary personal goal for Lunacy‘s winter season in St. Martin. Together with fellow SEMOSA members, Phil “He Of Many Nicknames” Cavanaugh and Charles “May I Cast Off Now?” Lassen, I had previously sailed Lunacy south from St. Martin to explore Saba and Statia. Also, of course, I have voyaged with the immediate family north and east to the more immediately neighboring islands of Anguilla and St. Bart’s. But this year I wanted to get to St. Kitts and Nevis, to the southeast, which are probably the furthest islands you can easily reach from St. Martin during a one-week round-trip cruise.

The most difficult part of the process, sadly, was just flying down to the boat. Thanks to the biblical snowstorms we’ve had here in New England (plus an ugly bout I had with the flu), “Many Nicknames” Cavanuagh and I had to postpone our first flight down to SXM for a week, during which time (in a bid to take advantage of said snowstorms) Phil tore up his knee in a grim skiing accident. Our next attempt (with Phil now in ortho-knee-gear) was then pushed back a day by yet another snowstorm, and by the time we finally emerged in the bright tropic sun on the tarmac at Princess Juliana Airport we looked and felt like a pair of pale snow-shocked out-patients.

At least we hit the ground running. Within 24 hours of arriving we had prepared the boat to sail, taxied halfway across the island and back to shuffle paper and pay exit fees, purchased provisions, and sailed out to Ile Fourchue, an uninhabited islet about halfway between St. Martin and St. Bart’s.

The anchorage at Ile Fourchue. There were a surprising number of boats here, all of which (including Lunacy) were rolling like pigs as a southerly swell crept in through the night

This proved an excellent launching point for our leap to St. Kitts the following morning. It not only is a bit closer to the west end of St. Kitts, but is also further east than St. Martin, so instead of a tight closehauled board of 40 miles or so, we had a fast close reach of about 35 miles and consequently made good time. The next stretch, about 10 miles of motorsailing to windward from Sandy Point to the main town of Basseterre, was more tedious, but not at all uncomfortable, as the wind is diminished and the water quite flat close to the island’s long southwest coast.

Phil claps binoculars on St. Kitts as we approach from the north. It’s nearly 4,000 feet high and the lofty peak, dubbed Mt. Limuiga, is perpetually shrouded in clouds

One of many abandoned sugar mills we passed on the leeward shore, with a nice stretch of rain forest rising in the background. All the modern mills on the island closed down in 2005

Basseterre is a classic old West Indian town–a mix of old colonial architecture, corrugated tin, unlikely shops, and lots of colorful-looking characters. There is a small marina for yachts, but we anchored out, preferring to keep air moving through the boat at the cost of some rolling. (At times, reportedly, the rolling can be unendurable, and the marina becomes the only reasonable option.) Directly adjacent the marina there is a large cruise-ship terminal and a goofy cruise-ship shopping mall, but it seems none of the honky-tonk touristic nonsense from in there spills out into the town itself.

The portal of modern Caribbean commerce. There was one cruise ship in port when we showed up, and another when we left two days later, and four scheduled to come in the day after that

Marching in the streets. These are supporters of the Labour Party, which has been in power the last 20 years. An election is scheduled for early next week

The Edgar O. Challenger Library, part of the St. Kitts Research Document University

People here take great pride in their motor vehicles

The open-air market had lots of tasty-looking local produce

A fishmonger on the beach

On wandering into town we were immediately immersed in a large political rally. This featured lots of red-shirted people and loud cheerful music that unfortunately kept playing all night long and easily carried out to the anchorage. The next morning we learned more about the upcoming election from Matthew, a.k.a. Caveman, who agreed to drive us around the island in his taxi.

St. Kitts and Nevis, the smallest independent nation in the Americas, was originally a bit bigger, as it also included Anguilla, about 70 miles north, after the British, the former colonial power in question, cut the three islands loose back in the mid-1960s. The Anguillians, however, did not want to be in an independent nation with St. Kitts and so quickly rebelled, driving several Kittitian police officers off their island in 1967. The Kittitians threatened to invade Anguilla in retaliation, but the Anguillians beat them to the punch and attempted (unsuccessfully) to invade St. Kitts instead with the help of two hired mercenaries. Somehow this imbroglio led the British to conclude that Anguilla was being taken over by the Mafia, and so they invaded Anguilla themselves in 1969. This British “Bay of Piglets,” as it was known (the official name was “Operation Sheepskin“), was a great comic event in modern Caribbean history, as 135 paratroopers and 40 police from Scotland Yard stormed ashore and were greeted not by Mafia insurgents, but by members of the press who had been tipped off in advance. (You can see a short film of the invasion here.)

In any event, it seems Kittitian politics are just as entertaining as ever. As he drove us around the island, Caveman (a supporter of the opposition People’s Action Movement) complained to us at some length about the Labour Party and its leader, Prime Minister Dr. Denzil “Dougie” Douglas. The immediate controversy involved a nefarious gerrymandering scheme, in which Dougie had unilaterally redrawn all the voting district boundaries in his favor just weeks before the election, and as we toured the island Caveman explained in some detail which villages were anti-Labour and how the new boundaries had been drawn to dilute their constituencies.

(Note: according to yesterday’s news a five-justice privy council in the U.K. has just overturned Dougie’s plot, ruling the election must be held with the old district boundaries, which no doubt has made our friend Caveman very happy!)

Caveman did show us some other stuff while talking politics. This saman tree on the Romney Manor in Old Road Town is reputed to be the oldest tree on the island. Its crown shades almost an acre of ground!

The original Romney Manor burned to the ground and has been replaced by workshops and a store run by Caribelle Batiks

Brimstone Hill (as seen from the water here when we later sailed past) is a UN World Heritage site and is home to a troop of African green vervet monkeys, some of whom we encountered on the road to the top. Of course, there’s also an old colonial fort up here, which has recently been restored

View from the fort looking west. Those are the islands of Statia and Saba visible on the horizon

The view looking east, with Nevis (shrouded in its own forest-nurturing cloud) visible in the distance

The view looking down as a Sunsail bareboat lopes by on its way back to St. Martin

A volcanically rocky bit of the island’s windward shore

The next day, Sunday, we sailed over to check out Nevis, but because it was Sunday nothing much was going on there, except on the beach, where again there was loud cheerful music playing at high volume.

Lunacy on a mooring at Nevis, with the cloud-capped Nevis Peak (about 3,200 feet high) in the distance. Anchoring is now forbidden here, but there’s no shortage of moorings

The heart of Charlestown, the island’s major community, dead as a doornail on a Sunday afternoon

The only restaurant we found open in town was the Chinese Tea House, where young agnostics like to gather instead of going to church. If you make a government-approved investment of $400K or more you can become a citizen of the nation of St. Kitts-Nevis, and judging from the many Chinese-owned business we saw, I’m guessing many investor-citizens are in fact from China

This is Star, an old Marco Polo triple-master designed by L. Francis Herreshoff that is home-ported here in Nevis. I have often seen her in Bermuda and last I was there met her owners, Steve and Irene, who spend summers on Cape Cod and winters down here

We would have liked to spend more time on Nevis, as it seems a quiet, very attractive place, with a more hikable mountain than St. Kitts, but we also wanted to drop in at St. Bart’s on the way back to Oyster Pond, as Phil had never been there before. I warned him St. Bart’s isn’t really part of the Caribbean, but is off in its own alternative universe. (For example, it has always bugged me that there are hardly any black people on the island.) Once we got there, he was a bit surprised by just how true this is.

Your humble narrator, selfified during the sail to St. Bart’s

PC phones home as we edge out of range of the cell towers on St. Kitts. Note the knee brace and also the stylish do-rag. The latter was adopted after two different hats took off downwind

From Nevis to St. Bart’s was a 50-mile sail. We covered it in good time, about 7 hours, but were easily overhauled by this svelte Spirit

Our neighbors in the anchorage at St. Bart’s struggle to bring their tender aboard before heading off to another deluxe destination

Making the scene in fashion-conscious Gustavia. I bet that dog would kill to get that sweater off

After a night at Gustavia we retreated to Anse de Columbier, a far more civilized locale IMHO, where we enjoyed some snorkeling and our last sunset of the cruise

After we returned to Oyster Pond, I was kind of hoping the weather up north would delay our flying home, just as it had delayed our flying down, but we had no such luck. Bing bang boom—we were back in the cold right on schedule, and now I’m hunkered down in NH, waiting for the next blizzard to hit.

We’re looking for another 12 inches or so in the next 24 hours, on top of the 36 we already have.

(Sigh)

PS: In case you’re wondering what happened to Anguilla after the invasion, they were eventually taken over by Britain again, which is all they wanted in the first place.

PPS: This is what this weekend’s blizzard looks like on paper:

(Double sigh)

Hello, Young Lovers

Sail Feed - Fri, 2015-02-13 15:51

By Kimball Livingston

It’s such a common phrase, such a common feeling, that we take it for granted. The romance of the sea. Even those who dwell far from the sea are not immune to it. Red sails in the sunset. The very notion of sailing away to paradise. Those who heed the call, those who love the sea and sailing, will not find it strange that a sailor would choose Valentine’s Day to write a love letter to the sport.

Once upon a time there lived a young man so enamored of sailboat racing that he couldn’t look out from the deck of one raceboat to another race going on over yonder without wishing he could be part of that race, too.

Absurd? Whoever said that Rational was a component of Passionate?

Ernest Hemingway was no bigtime sailor. On the water, he was more at home in the fighting chair of a fishkiller with a touch of brandy close at hand. But the man had an eye. He could absorb what he saw and put it into words. He had gazed across the waters. He knew the look of boats under sail. And there came a moment in the writing of The Sun Also Rises when the blankness of the page demanded a next sentence that would describe, economically, the beauty of his heroine, Lady Brett Ashley. He wrote, “She was built with curves like the hull of a racing yacht.”

The real flesh and blood Lauren Bacall, who brought so many fictional characters to life—Hemingway’s “Slim” Browning of To Have and Have Not comes to mind—has many times remarked that her only real competition for her leading man’s affections was that boat, Santana.

Do sailors romanticize their boats? Do they ever. With so many women now sailing at the top of the sport, it’s awkward to wade into the origins of the usage of “she” to speak of a boat. But, let’s be simpleminded. Sailors in those early days were men, and that’s how they felt about their boats.

Are boats erotic? Don’t be silly. I just like to run my fingers along the hull . . .

And on a boat, it doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day to need, seriously need, chocolate. So I just want to say:

Sailing, I really really really like you. I mean, I like you a lot. I mean. . .

Okay. I admit. It’s more than that. This is the real thing, and even though I really really really got ****’d in that last race, I’ll still love you tomorrow.

Tortola to Grenada Expedition Set to Depart!

Sail Feed - Wed, 2015-02-11 20:43

Hi guys, Andy here. I’m packing up the last of my gear for an early morning departure to Tortola! I’ll be rendezvousing with our first mate Jake Albano in Tortola, and together we’ll be spending the next two days getting Serenity, the Shannon 43 ketch, ready for her passage to Grenada! 

We’ll be joined on Saturday by the rest of the crew – Tom from Iowa, Steve & Paula from just outside Toronto, and Andrew, also from Toronto. Those four brave souls will be embarking on an offshore passage of about 500 miles, direct to Grenada. it’s my chance to follow through on what’s become my passage making motto – that is, to share the wisdom of the high seas with those wise enough to seek it out. I’m thankful that Tom, Steve, Paula & Andrew were indeed wise enough to follow through! 

We’ll be posting regular updates (or Mia will be), indicating our position and what’s been happening onboard, so follow this blog to join in the fun from back home! Photos, stories and perhaps a podcast or two will follow upon our return! 

ote that all posts from this trip will be tagged ‘Serenity Passage.’

Garmin Panoptix All-Seeing Sonar, GPSmap 7×16, and BlueChart Mobile 2.0

Sail Feed - Wed, 2015-02-11 09:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Feb 11, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

The Garmin Panoptix “All-Seeing” sonar announced this morning sounds fascinating, but be aware that it’s meant for smaller boat fishing, at least at first. The $1,500 rectangular “multi-beam transducer that utilizes a phased-array scanning sonar technology” will come in two styles, with the tilted Panoptix Forward model oriented vertically on a trolling motor or transom mount and the Down Transducer with its horizontal orientation only available for transom installs. Neither one looks easy to transform into a thru-hull fitting but judging from the screenshots a lot of bigger boat owners will be hoping that’s possible…

This is the PS31 Panoptix Forward Transducer purportedly imaging 80 feet of slightly upsloping bottom and also a diver about 20 feet ahead of the transducer in what Garmin calls LiveVü mode. It looks similar to Simrad ForwardScan but is covering a wider wedge of bottom and water column and is said to be so fast that you can watch your lure being reeled in (which is what’s happening in the first GIF animation on Garmin’s Panoptix page).

But, whoa, I’ve only seen what Garmin calls RealVü 3D mode on much more expensive sonars like the EchoPilot 3D FLS. This is no doubt a slower mode but the user can control the speed for desired level of detail. Note how this particular RealVü viewing angle shows the 60 degree coverage of the Panoptix Forward Transducer and also how it can paint bottom and fish (or diver?) detail not just forward but from side-to-side within the phased-array beam.

It’s no surprise then that the PS30 Panoptix Down Transducer can create a rectangular RealVü below the boat. It can also assemble these into long swaths called RealVü 3D Historical or do LiveVü Down imaging that supposedly let’s you pinpoint fish and/or bait. And get this: both Panoptix Forward and Down are said to work fine when a boat is stationary and both contain AHRS sensors to compensate for boat motion underway or at rest.

The Panoptix transducers are “expected to be available in the spring of 2015″ and will work with a variety of current Garmin MFDs, including the GPSMap 7×00 series that was announced at Lauderdale and is slated to ship very soon. The series already looks to me like a nice ‘value’ version of the 8000 Glass Helm displays and now it will be available in a 16-inch version. In fact, the GPSmap 7616xsv version will retail at $6,000 with built-in processing for not only Panoptix but CHIRP DownVü and SideVü plus dual-channel 1kW CHIRP sonar…quite like the Simrad NSS16 that looked so good in my glass bridge price comparison. Hello!

Finally, the already able planning app BlueChart Mobile will greatly expand its weather resources when version 2.0 comes out this summer. Included will be “weather observations and buoy reports, marine zone forecasts (US/Canada/Europe), land zone forecasts (US/Canada), surface wind forecast grids, sea surface temperatures, surface pressure forecast and and sea state forecast, plus in-app purchase purchase options for radar and infrared cloud imagery, lighting, and StormWatch watches.” And here’s the kicker: with BCM 2.0 owners of Garmin WiFi-enabled MFDs will not only be able to pass routes easily but the updated weather data will stream to the bright readable MFD screen as long as the BCM iPad is online (which is most of the time on Gizmo thanks to my cell boosting system).

Well, actually the real kicker for me is that I’ll be on the water with Garmin Panoptix this afternoon in Miami (and that’s only one of four demo rides today ;-). I’ll report back when possible but don’t hestitate to post questions I might ask now.

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

Best places to sail in Thailand

Sail Feed - Wed, 2015-02-11 06:00

There are a handful of places we’ll never forget from our months of sailing in Thailand. We found a lot to love (and a lot we could do without). These are our favorites spots: the places that capture, in one way or another, what for us was the best of cruising along the Andaman Sea coast of Thailand.

Koh Phayam. When we first arrived in January 2014 a friend with us exclaimed – “this is like Phuket in the 80s!” Without cars or utilities, this sleepy little island near the border of Myanmar is geared towards more basic travelers and the counterpoint to chaotic Phuket. With a scattering of beachfront bungalows, cool places like The Hippy Bar (with the apocalyptic look of its crazy post-tsunami driftwood construction), delicious and inexpensive little restaurants, and wide curve of beach- it’s a great spot for cruisers looking for a laid back atmosphere. That’s one of the big reasons we picked it as a destination to gather with friends for Christmas & New Year’s Eve in 2014. The only thing it’s lacking is nice water to swim in; it wasn’t as murky as some places, but it was pretty dead below the surface.

Phang Nga Bay. This stunning bay just north and east of Phuket is truly like fairlyland. As we approached it from the south and the wild spires of limestone islands began to take shape (see photo at the top of this post), we couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. Inside many of these islands are ‘hongs’ – caves, from the Thai word for room. But what’s really special about these caves is that they’re often open to the sky after being accessed through a tunnel. Truly spectacular to paddle or swim into a hong, then be treated by blue skies overhead and lush greenery on the steep cliff sides up. Many, many daytripper boats come through here, but they tend to go to the same hongs over and over. Pick up a copy of The Hong Book online, written by cruisers, to find your way to a host of spots that won’t include a throng of tourists.

Satun. OK, so this isn’t exactly a beauty spot you go to anchor in. This was the shipyard where we spent 8 days in 2013, and about six weeks in 2014. But Satun goes down as one of my favorite places in Thailand for a few reasons. First, the utter lack of any tourism was incredibly refreshing in comparison to the rest of our experience in Thailand. Walk through the village to the market I might meet another person, or I might not, but at least when I did I knew it was purely out of mutual human interest and not because someone wanted to sell me something. That defined most of the rest of Thailand, and it really got old. We made some wonderful friends in Satun, among cruisers and local residents. When I think of the people we met in Thailand that I hope to see again, it’s Satun where we came together. And by being here a while, and having a peek and a connection to local families, we had a precious opportunity to give back to a community.

The Surin islands. These lovely islands are mostly uninhabited and offer a beautiful underwater environment to explore. The clarity was better than along the peninsula and the biodiversity was probably the best we saw in Thailand. The Surins compared favorably to the other Andaman Sea marine park archipelago- the Similans- because they are harder to get to (which translated to far fewer daytrippers) and the reef was healthier. It’s still not great, apparently damaged by area overfishing and sea warming- but it was probably closer to what the brochures sell than the other spots we dove in Thailand. We had ONE report from a boat in company of shark sighting, a hopeful sign that the reef isn’t a lost cause yet. Between 2014 and 2015 we spent nearly two weeks here: for more of the Surins underwater, browse these photos on Flickr.

Thanks for clicking through to read this post on the SAILfeed website and kicking some change into our cruising kitty!

Colin Firth to Play Donald Crowhurst in Biopic

Sail Feed - Tue, 2015-02-10 15:03


Talk about a long wait. The book, The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst, by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall, was completely out of print for some years, but a cult favorite and the subject of many late night cockpit ruminations.

It tells the tale of Donald Crowhurst who, along with the likes of Bernard Moitessier, Robin Knox-Johnson, and Chay Blyth, entered the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in 1968, the first singlehanded, non-stop round-the-world race. Indebted and under intense pressure to succeed, yet woefully unprepared and inexperienced, Crowhurst never made it farther than the South Atlantic. He faked his positions to appear he was in the lead, then went mad and committed suicide. The story has come back into vogue, just from the passing of time, or somehow reflective of our current fascinations and insecurities.

The excellent documentary, Deep Water, came out in 2006, telling the story with excellent original footage and interviews. I give it my highest recommendation:

But now the story is hitting the big time, a full Hollywood production: blue chip director, blue chip writer, and Oscar winner for best actor, Colin Firth, playing Crowhurst. You’ve got to admit they really look alike:

I can’t wait! I’m very excited to see how Hollywood spins the tale…or completely botches it. Please, please, oh pleeeeeze don’t blow it with the sailing stuff. Hire a simple technical consultant – any one of us will do – to consult on the film so the sailing bits aren’t rendered ridiculous to sailors, like All Is Lost, The Perfect Storm, or pretty much every other movie about sailing or the sea. Please don’t have white squalls materializing out of nowhere, 100-foot waves swallowing boats, vicious sharks chewing on rudders, or people dangling from rigging for no good reason with lit cutting torches with no hoses attached to them.

I wonder who’ll play Sir Robin Knox-Johnson? I’m going with Geoffrey Rush.

United Nations, United Ocean?

Sail Feed - Tue, 2015-02-10 13:46

Posted by Kimball Livingston February 10, 2015

Dr. Sylvia Earle, oceanographer, diver, explorer and warrior on behalf of oceans stewardship, was chief scientist at NOAA until she figured out that the job came with a muzzle. Today she lends herself to many causes and runs Mission Blue, a nonprofit initiative aiming to ignite support for a global network of marine protected areas – Hope Spots, she calls them – large enough “to save and restore the blue heart of the planet.”

Dr. Earle is also a National Geographic Explorer in Residence. We each contributed to this project . . .

More recently, Dr. Earle addressed the United Nations, urging legal protection for the high seas. This was her message :

The United Nations came into existence in 1945. I personally came into existence ten years earlier, and as a child was barely aware of the historic actions then being addressed by my species. The ten year olds of today are more likely to be tuned in to the significance of the actions being deliberated here. They – and we – are armed with access to unprecedented knowledge, information that did not exist when I was a child.

In less than half a century, we have come to understand what our predecessors could not: the living ocean – the living ocean – drives climate and weather, generates most of the oxygen in the atmosphere, takes up much of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, holds 97% of Earth’s water and embraces 97% of the biosphere. Now we know. Humankind is altering the nature of the ocean and therefore, the nature of nature, through what we are putting in and through what we are taking out of the sea. The ocean is large and resilient, but it is not too big to fail. What we are taking out of the sea, what we are putting into the sea are actions that are undermining the most important thing the ocean delivers to humankind – our very existence.

The new reports this week in Science, NY Times, and the Economist are among many examples of the evidence concerning the drastic reduction in the quantity and diversity of marine systems in recent decades, and raise real concerns about the consequences to humankind of these impacts. There is a direct link between the state of life in the ocean and a planet that works in our favor. All of humankind relies on the ocean for everything we care about – prosperity, health, security – our very existence. No ocean, no life. No blue, no green. No ocean, no us. An ocean in trouble means civilization in trouble. The highest priority for humankind is to keep the world safe for our children. To do so means taking care of the natural ocean systems that make life possible.

The status quo is not adequate and is not acceptable. It is high time for the High Seas, the blue half of the world, to be recognized as the blue heart of the planet, the cornerstone of Earth’s life support system, the vast but vulnerable part of the planet that until recent decades has not only been beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, but also beyond the reach of the ability of humans to effectively exploit it for short term gain.

We have an opportunity – right now – to fill the gaps in governance of half of the world, the blue half that has a disproportionately significant role in maintaining Earth as a planet hospitable for life as we know it. Armed with new knowledge, we have a chance, right now, this week, to encourage governance to safeguard the high seas – as never before in history. And maybe, as never again.

The ten year olds are watching.

The ten year olds are watching — KL

Franz Amussen

Sail Feed - Tue, 2015-02-10 01:00

Franz Amussen, host of the ‘Sailing the Med’ podcast, joins Andy to discuss his namesake podcast. They recorded over Skype, Andy in Toronto for the boat show there, Franz in his home in Salt Lake City. 

This is the first part of a two-part episode, and is mostly Franz interviewing Andy about his own sailing career, cruising in the Baltic, Swedish customs and other fun stuff. Towards the end the tables are turned and Franz is the one answering questions, but they ran out of time before getting too far into it. Stay tuned for a Part 2 coming up soon!

Want to go ocean sailing with Andy? Book a berth on at 59-north.com/events.

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