As we approach the seven-days-at-sea mark in this year’s ARC Caribbean 1500, the lead boat, Wings, a Hylas 54, is less than 400 miles out from Tortola. Tal Lira, on the other hand, has made their arrival as planned in the Bahamas after four days at sea.
“Just to inform you that we arrived yesterday evening,” Pauline informed Rally Control this afternoon. “We are on our way to Bluff House Marina and we would like to thank you for your hospitality during the last week!”
Pauline also reported in that they’ve had contact with Morning Haze, the Canadian yacht also bound for the Abacos, and expect to see them arriving sometime today.
The four and five day passages for Tal Lira and Morning Haze, respectively, represent a nearly two-week advantage on the time it would have taken to transit the ICW and cross the Gulf Stream near Miami, as is the more common route to the Bahamas during the annual southerly migration. While the ICW is a deservedly popular route on it’s own, for those looking for a quick and easy way to go direct to the Bahamas, doing with the ARC Bahamas fleet – which re-launched next fall in conjunction with the 1500 – is an option to consider.
As for the yachts bound for Tortola, the breeze has finally relented and the sun is shining. After five boisterous and fast sailing days, everyone is now getting a chance to peel off some of those layers and dry out their boats.
Solstice, though a bit tired, took a chance to wax philosophically about their passage in yesterday’s blog.
“We really are having a blast,” wrote crewmember Tom. “What a great feeling to be out on the big blue sea in control of your own destiny and making things happen. I love sailing! As Ray said today with a big smile on his face, ‘There are just a few times in life like this. Isn’t this a beautiful day.’”
Meanwhile Wings, who leads the fleet in both position and enthusiasm for sending in logs from at-sea, wrote today that the weather has finally eased off, to Dave’s apparent chagrin.
“Dave is depressed that we’ve lost the high winds and the big waves that gave us our speed over the last three days,” Wings wrote. “On the other hand, two members of the crew (who shall remain Anonymous) are delighted to be able to move around the boat without being catapulted across the cabin.”
The calm seas, though they’ve cost Wings a bit in speed, have had their own advantages.
“This morning, in celebration of calm seas, Pat decided to cook a huge amount of bacon. Everyone who sails would admit that there is something very special about the smell of bacon the morning. Even Bob, who is trying hard to be a vegetarian, is drooling around the cabin, muttering that our attraction to fried bacon is primal and it must be something to do with how closely related we are to pigs.”
Life at sea certainly has it’s highs and lows.
Dehler was one of a few venerable European sailboat brands that ran out of oxygen during the Great Recession. You may recall that many of their quick, durable, well-built cruiser-racers got sold on this side of the Pond over the years. Hanse Group, which evidently aspires to be the General Motors of European boatbuilding, bought the remains of the business a while back and this Dehler 38, which just debuted in Annapolis, is the first all Hanse-built model they’ve put out. It was the very first boat I test-sailed after the show, and I have to say I was impressed by its performance.
It is not as well built as its predecessors, but it sails as well, or even better. I recall, for example, that the rudder on the last Dehler I test-sailed, over 10 years ago, lost its grip in just 15 knots of wind. No such worries on this puppy. We had about the same wind this time, and the boat was very sure-footed and quick. It is also considerably less expensive than a new “old” Dehler would be–base price in the U.S. for this model is a tad under $220K, which isn’t that much more than what a 12-year-old Dehler would set you back.
Hanse is renowned for the severe, edgy Euro-styling of its own Hanse brand boats (the other brands in the conglomerate include Moody, Fjord, and Varianta), but they restrained themselves here. This new 38 has a sort of subdued modern look inside that is vaguely reminiscent of the old Dehler interiors.
I rather liked the curved headrests over the settees. It makes you feel like you’re in a private jet
The galley is small, but very serviceable
Two- or three-cabin layouts are available. I was on a three-cabin boat. You have to go through the head to get to the port-side aft cabin, but the head is cleverly laid out, and this works much better than you’d think
The boat has three different keels to choose from–standard cruising, shoal-draft, and competition–and two different fractional rigs, one with standard Selden aluminum spars and a taller one with carbon sticks. I sailed the straight standard boat, which at its best was hitting speeds a tad over 9 knots, which ain’t too shabby for a boat with handlaid laminate and a 34-foot waterline. We had no instruments of any sort (other than my handheld GPS), but I estimate its best closehauled angle was just inside 30 degrees apparent.
Pony up for the taller rig and deeper keel, and I think you might have a very competitive boat here. Even with the standard set-up, you clearly won’t be embarrassing yourself during a beer-can series.
This is my babysitter Matt Karhan steering for a bit while I snap pix. The boat has twin helms and a fold-down transom
One nice performance feature is the full-width traveler. It’s recessed in the sole, which looks cool, but I wonder if stray line tails will get tangled up in there
My test-boat did not have the optional fixed cockpit table. Thus there was nowhere to mount a chartplotter in the cockpit and nowhere to mount a steering compass near the helm, as the wheels are on struts rather than binnacles. Folks with older eyes may have a hard time reading those little bulkhead compasses while steering
You can read a full review of the boat in an upcoming issue of SAIL.
This video went viral; amazing if you haven’t seen it. Visually stunning too, with all those bright lights and manta rays flipping around:
Written by Ben Ellison on Nov 6, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
Isn’t it interesting that just after we learned that NOAA will no longer print traditional paper charts, Raymarine announced that all its current plotters will soon be able to use the digitized “raster” equivalent of those same NOAA charts? The “completely redesigned LightHouse II” software that will make this entirely free new feature happen is due out in December, but I got on the water with a beta version last week. I was impressed with how well the raster charts looked and how well they panned and zoomed, even in beta, and there’s much more to like about LightHouse II…
Raymarine’s new chart software engine can also display NOAA’s vector charts — known as ENC’s (electronic navigation charts) as opposed to the paper-like RNCs – but first Ray has to convert them all into its new LightHouse chart format. This intermediary step means that Raymarine probably won’t issue updates as frequently as NOAA does, though I’m told that quarterly or even monthly updates are being considered. While users will need a fast internet connection and a large SD card to get the updates to their Ray a-, c-, e- or gS Series displays, most already do (I suspect).
Having its own chart formats and distribution system means that Raymarine can conceivably offer other free charts for countries where they’re available — like New Zealand and Brazil — or even sell cartography from other sources like Furuno does via its MapMedia partner and Navico does at its Insight Store. Their long relationship with Navionics is not over, though; LightHouse II will also support all Navionics chart cards and can purportedly display them in new ways.
So, while this a significant strategic change for Raymarine, I think that the first impression for the U.S. owners of their current hardware will be something like, “Holy cow, after December I’ll be able to download, update, and use two official chart types – all for free!” Some shoppers are going to perk up at this news too, especially as Ray may lower some U.S. MFD prices, since they will no longer have to pay a Navionics fee for embedded charts. And while there are some boaters who don’t give a hoot about paper-like raster charts, there are a lot of us who do.
Vector charts may be “smart” — you can turn data layers off for simplicity, highlight important depths, etc. — but the display is assembled by software, not the human cartographer who actually draws a paper/raster chart and thus can put extra emphasis on perceived dangers. With Raymarine joining Furuno and the various plotters that support C-Map 4D with its NOAA raster layer, not to mention the Navico-compatible NV-Charts and all the PC/tablet apps that support raster, the “paper chart” format appears very much alive and well.
Did you notice how the first two screens are all chart? That’s because LightHouse II let’s you auto-hide the data bar that’s always occupied the top section of LightHouse screens. Just touch the screen or hit a button and it appears again. As a navigator who often splits these wide screens into two head-up radar or chart windows, this is a much appreciated change. It will free up pixels for better fishfinder display, which is further improved because the new software can support multiple Ray fishfinding devices.
It’s also nice that Raymarine is switching its waypoints, routes and tracks to the standard GPX format, which will be much more easily shared, and apparently, LightHouse II also makes waypoint and route management much easier. In fact, as the photo below suggests, the whole menu structure has been rethought and graphically polished. I look forward to when all Ray a-, c-, e- and gS Series owners can try LightHouse II, but what do you think so far?
My first sailing magazine subscription, when I was a teen, was to SAIL. My husband started even sooner (a Christmas gift when he was 12).
Times have changed, but not that much. Where Jamie and I once papered our bedrooms and dorm rooms with centerfolds that had names like Endeavour, IMP, and Scarlett O’Hara (cut from the pages of SAIL, or their annual calendar), now we have the warm teak of our own boat’s interior, posted with photos of more pedestrian boats in tropical anchorages, and other souvenirs of the Pacific- and SAIL blogs on the feed to our ipad.
So somehow it seems a little bit like coming home to join SAIL’s blogger circle on SAILfeed, the magazine’s online hub for boating news and information. Yet as much as it nods to familiar territory, it’s joining a group of experience in breadth and depth so far beyond my own that I can’t quite believe I get to claim membership. SAILfeed seeks to aggregate the best into one location, to inform and entertain, bringing writers across the spectrum from racing, to cruising, to gear and electronics and opinions or personalities.
If you’re enjoying following Totem’s blog, check out SAILfeed! If you follow Totem through our SAILfeed link or subscribe to the RSS feed, it also throws some change into our cruising kitty- let’s call that a win/win situation!
Meanwhile, as winter closes in, whatever your bent on boating- there’s probably a post from a SAILfeed blogger to suit your interests. And if you’re of a certain age and choose to feel nostalgic, go ahead and make a centerfold: they’re talking about Gunboat 60s over there… my secret crush (don’t tell Totem!).
We woke up on Monday to discover the boat was sinking. On my way to the bathroom, I heard an unwelcome drip drip sound coming from beneath the companionway. We pulled up the floorboards, and, sure enough, the centerboard trunk was leaking. The bilge was full. We were going down.Those are little darts of water jetting out of the centerboard trunk. Not happy morning news.
Where, you might ask, was our natural panic and discomfort as our home slowly slipped into The Big Blue? The problem is, we are jaded. When you live on a boat, emergency repairs are just another part of everyday life. An annoying, unwelcome, tea-withholding part of life, but a part all the same. It wasn’t as bad as losing all of our electrical systems in the middle of the night off Cape Hatteras. It wasn’t as urgent as our alternator fire. Fires. On the grand scale of worrisome situations, this didn’t rate. It was a slow leak, and no one was going to die. We were anchored in 15 feet of water right beside an inhabited island. At worst, we would have a boat nestled gently among the seagrass. Admittedly, that’s a pretty bad outcome, but there are really only four things I care about rescuing from Papillon, and we all share the same surname.
“It looks like the threads have corroded around a bolt,” said Erik. “For now, I’ll put a rubber gasket under the bolt head to seal the flow.”
He sifted through the washer bin, but there wasn’t a 3/8 nylon washer to be found. Of course not. So he started to enlarge a 5/16 washer.
“Mom,” said Indy, “can you help me put on my wetsuit?”
“Honey, the boat is sinking. I have to help Dad.”
“Mo-om. Fine! Stylish, can you help me?”
As the girls wrestled themselves into snorkeling gear and muttered about the inadequacies of their parents, Erik busied himself deforming the shaved washer. After a minor bout of cursing, he went in search of gasket material. Because if you can’t find it, you have to make it. Out came the punch set.
As he was about to install the newly-fabricated washer, Erik poked his head a little further in the bilge. “Hmm. This problem is further in than it looks; there is a pinhole back there.” He heaved himself out of the bilge. “We need some underwater-setting epoxy putty. And I used mine up.”
Off to the VHF. I called our friends next door. As Mario went to check his stores, I hear fresh cursing from below. Erik was busy with a carb pick, trying to clean the surface to ready it for the putty. “I need that putty now-ish,” he called. “I made the hole a little bigger.”
I grabbed the kids, jumped in the dinghy and motored next door. The girls jumped out, I grabbed the Starbrite from Mario and was back at Papillon in a twinkling.
On went the putty. The leak stopped. We gave a small cheer. Once it had set, Erik covered it with JB weld, and we cheered a little more. Papillon would live to float another day.
And so we add another job to our haulout list. One new thrust bearing and propeller shaft assembly. One new centerboard sheave housing. And if we are very, very lucky, the list will end there.
These images come from cruising friend Jessica Rousseau, who has this to say about them:
“This selection of underwater images was taken in several different locations: Caribbean, New Zealand, Fiji, Mexico and South Minerva reef, (an atoll between NZ and Fiji). I chose to use black and white as an experiment to see if the impact of the underwater world was any less without its myriad colours. I found that monochrome allows you to experience an image with more feeling because of not being bombarded with an array of vivid colours. When viewing something in black and white we are treated with a more sensual variety of tones and textures. Instead of feeling like the image is leaping off the page at you, you feel more like you want to dive into the image.”
You can see more on her website: www.jessicarousseau.com
These days voyaging south down the U.S. East Coast via the Intracoastal Waterway is so commonplace as to be cliché. Literally thousands of cruisers now make the pilgrimage annually. Calling themselves “snowbirds,” they ply the murky waters of the ICW in all manner of vessels, both power and sail, and pride themselves on the tobacco-colored bow stains that denote multiple annual transits.
But back in the early 20th century, when long-distance cruising was still in its infancy, taking a boat all the way from New England to Florida was a challenging proposition. One of the first to take up the challenge–and perhaps the very first to do so under sail–was an unassuming insurance salesman from New Bedford, Massachusetts, named Henry Plummer. An avid amateur sportsman who enjoyed hiking, hunting, and sailing, Plummer had long dreamed of embarking on an extended cruise and at last got his chance after retiring early in 1912 at age 47.
Plummer and his second-oldest son, Henry Jr., age 20, spent all that summer preparing for the journey. To train for entering surf-ridden inlets they spent hours riding breaking waves on a local sandbar in a 15-foot canvas canoe. They modified Plummer’s old 24-foot Cape Cod catboat, Mascot, adding shelving, cabinets, a galley stove, and a heater to her interior. They also installed a 3-horsepower inboard gasoline engine in a 15-foot dory, which they intended to use both as a tender and as a tug for towing the engineless Mascot when she could not sail.
Raising sail on Mascot
Finally, just before departing on October 14, Plummer press-ganged the last member of his crew into service. “Crawled under the shed, caught the cat, rubbed her full of flea powder, and dropped her into a gunny sack to moult,” he wrote. “Will have troubles enough without fleas.”
In many respects, Plummer’s experience as he traveled south exactly anticipated those of the many others who have since followed in his wake. Primarily, he was pressed for time, as early winter gales hampered his progress and made it that much harder to get south before the weather got even worse. Between shaking down his boat and crew and waiting on weather, it took him almost two weeks just to get down Long Island Sound to New York City.
The culmination of this first leg was one of those wild event-filled days so characteristic of small-boat sailing. Within the space of a few hours Plummer tore his mainsail, extinguished a fire onboard, rescued five helpless men he found adrift in a rowboat, lost control of his vessel in the tide-tortured waters of Hell Gate, repeatedly collided with a barge in the East River, and yet still managed his best day’s run to date of 54 miles from sun up to sun down (“that’s some going for a 24-foot boat,” he noted in his log) before tying up for the night in Brooklyn’s Erie Basin.
In other respects, his experience was unique. The biggest difference between then and now was that in 1912 the ICW as we know it today did not exist. Only seven years later did Congress authorize its creation, and it wasn’t until 1939 that it actually became operational.
Plummer did however get to take advantage of one very important inland waterway that is now only a memory. This was the Delaware & Raritan Canal, the so-called “missing link” in the ICW, which first opened in 1834, yet closed in 1933, before the rest of the system was complete. Entering the D&R at New Brunswick, New Jersey, on November 3, Plummer made himself some makeshift fenders by filling gunny sacks with dry leaves, then locked through directly from New York Bay to the Delaware River below Trenton in two easy days, thus bypassing all of the Jersey shore and Delaware Bay.
Mascot at the entrance of the old Delaware & Raritan Canal
Another unique aspect of Plummer’s cruise was his determination to “live off the land.” Armed with a shotgun and a small .22-caliber rifle with a silencer (nicknamed “Helen Keller”), he and his son spent much time shooting birds as they sailed south. Many of their victims were tasty game fowl taken out of season, kills they obliquely identified in the log as livestock, such as cows and “blue-nosed pigs,” so as not to incriminate themselves. Others were much less palatable sea fowl, and early on Henry Jr. complained of having to eat such fare.
“Old squaw stew for dinner, and Henry had to run from the cabin,” wrote Plummer on November 18. “Foolish boy, he needs starving.”
One rather surprising fact was that the Plummers found they had company. While transiting the D&R, and later at the entrance to the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, they met a couple in an open 26-foot motor launch who were also bound for Florida. ”Heaven I hope will help the outfit or wreck them on some friendly shore,” wrote Plummer, “for the man had neither charts nor directions and didn’t know the meaning or use of buoys.”
Soon afterwards in Norfolk, Virginia, they encountered another small motor launch heading for Florida, Querida, manned by two young men on assignment for Motor Boating magazine. One of them was Alf Loomis, age 22, who went on to become one of the most influential boating journalists of his time. The articles he wrote on this trip marked the beginning not only of his own career, but of public interest in the East Coast’s inland waterways as a long-distance cruising ground.
Crew of Querida. Alf Loomis is on the left
Mascot later met both vessels again on Albemarle Sound in North Carolina not long after locking through the Chesapeake & Albemarle Canal below Norfolk. She also met Querida again in Beaufort several days later after working her way down Pamlico Sound and the Neuse River. “All this meeting and passing of boats on the same quest adds much to the interest,” noted Plummer cheerfully. And certainly this is a sentiment contemporary snowbirds can easily relate to.
Proceeding south from Beaufort, as is true of modern sailboats today, Mascot was forced into open water. On December 11, after a night offshore, there came a sudden change in the weather and rather than risk getting caught out rounding Frying Pan Shoals off Cape Fear in a gale, Plummer elected to try entering New Inlet just north of the cape. His chart showed 4 feet of water here, just enough for Mascot‘s draft of 3-1/2 feet, but in fact the inlet had silted up. First Mascot and then the launch were driven hard aground in breaking waves. By the end of the day the former had a gaping hole in her hull and the latter was in pieces.
Plummer and his son spent the next eight days marooned on the open beach working feverishly to repair the damage. As Plummer described it:
It took us three days to repair the launch and when we finished, the whole stern was made up of canvas patches, putty and copper tacks. The engine was full of salt water and sand, so we had to take it all to pieces and rebuild it. We then put Mascot on the beach and patched the hole two-foot long in her side with a bit of canvas well painted and laid over some sail battens. This patch was my pride and has never been removed.
Henry Jr. rebuilding the launch engine
After another week spent perfecting their repairs at nearby Southport, the Plummers again headed offshore and again were caught by weather. They spent a full day hove-to off the coast in a strong gale and though Mascot fared well enough, the launch, tethered at the end of a 60-foot tow line, was almost swamped. Henry Jr., however, stripped naked and managed to board her in breaking seas to bail her out. Finally the pair safely reached Georgetown, South Carolina, where at last they were able to come inside again.
But now the Plummers faced a different sort of challenge. For it was here, as they gunkholed south through the creeks and marshes of South Carolina and Georgia and on into Florida, that father and son suffered most for not having a well marked, well dredged waterway to navigate upon. The wind-driven tides were fickle and unpredictable, the navigation aids crude and unreliable, and the water relentlessly shallow. By the end of January 1913 they had reached northern Florida and progress was painfully slow as Mascot was now routinely running aground as many as four or five times a day. Getting her off again often involved much laborious shifting of ballast, setting of anchors, and heaving and hauling.
By mid-February they were only as far as Daytona. Here Henry Jr. hit on the bold notion of “taking the launch and making a dash for the pole,” as his father put it. The launch was duly converted into an open-air camping machine, but in the end, after a cold northeast wind set in, the Plummers elected to stay aboard Mascot. With her ballast entirely removed, they found her much more manageable in the thin water behind Florida’s barrier beaches and at last reached Miami on March 3.
“I guess this is the southern end of the cruise,” wrote Plummer somewhat wistfully. “I want to go a-fishing and I want to go down among the Keys, but the season is getting on and indeed the road northward is long. The south point on my compass is all rounded off from steady use, and you can hardly read read the letter ‘S’ it is so worn.”
The Plummers spent little more than a week in Miami and most of that time had Mascot on the hard up the Miami River for a refit. In a precise bit of emotional punctuation, it was at this turning point that Scotty, the ship’s cat, who had often thrown hysterical fits in Mascot‘s tiny cabin, died in the arms of her skipper. “We gave her a sailor’s burial in the Miami River,” noted Plummer mournfully, “and by mutual understanding have not mentioned her name since.”
The return trip, as so often happens, went much more smoothly. The weather now was improving and Mascot and her crew were seasoned waterway veterans. In just a month and a half they reached Norfolk again, averaging better than 30 miles a day sailing only by daylight. A month later, by June 1, they were back on Long Island Sound, with enough time in hand to make the last leg of their journey a lazy, leisurely affair. Finally arriving in New Bedford on June 22, they had in all spent 8 months completing their 3,000-mile circuit of the East Coast.
Soon afterwards the world as Henry Plummer knew it changed dramatically. Henry Jr., who was in England selling coal-mining equipment soon after World War I broke out in 1914, joined first the French ambulance corps and then the U.S. Army after America entered the war in 1917. He, fortunately, survived the rigors of the Western Front (and lived until 1963), but Plummer’s oldest son, Charles, an aviator, did not. Nor did his older brother, Thomas, who died in France serving in the American Red Cross.
Plummer himself finally passed away in 1928, having sold Mascot only shortly before he died to Wyn Mayo of Kittery, Maine (just across the Piscataqua River from where I now live in Portsmouth, New Hampshire). Mayo cruised the boat locally for another 20 years and in 1946 treated her to a thorough refit. The following year he took Mascot on an extended cruise of the Maine coast. Tragically, the beloved old boat, then aged 65, was destroyed in a fire that summer. Rumor had it, however, that her remains were used as a lobster car for many years thereafter.
Plummer’s book about this groundbreaking cruise has long been hailed by the cognoscenti as “the greatest cruising story ever written,” though it is still a relatively obscure text. Originally the book was published by Plummer himself in a limited mimeographed private edition (replete with many drawings), and laying hands on a copy was said to be “about as simple as borrowing a man’s favorite wife.”
Fortunately, this is no longer the case. At least two commercial editions are currently in print (the cover above is from the Narrative Press edition). There is also a very nice edition put out by the non-profit Catboat Association, which is the one I most recommend. It has all the original illustrations, plus many interesting photographs.
Written by Ben Ellison on Nov 4, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show was bigger than ever this year and while FLIBS exhibits really do appeal to almost every boating persuasion, who doesn’t enjoy gawking at the very high end? Click, for instance, on the photo above and check out the remarkable farm of Furuno radars, Sea Tel satellite domes, FLIR cameras, and much more at left. The 162-foot Remember When is equipped to the max and I was not surprised to learn that proud owner John Rosatti started working on boats with his dad at age 13. Meanwhile, yours truly was higher than a megayacht on the sky deck of the odd but accessible 3,200-ton vessel doing business as SEAFAIR. Simrad was celebrating the NSO evo2 debut up here, and we all enjoyed watching the young couple on paddle boards (Remember When crew perhaps?) head off with their cooler to locations unknown. There were lots of marine electronics news in Lauderdale, but this entry will be an eclectic tour of other sights that drew my attention…
A big part of the “International” in FLIBS is the enthusiastic participation of exotic equipment manufacturers like Cantalupi. Their booth, which sometimes featured fine Italian cuisine (thanks!), was showing these sample LED-backlit panels apparently made of thin-sliced stone embedded in epoxy and quite suitable to mood lighting, say, your yacht’s master head.
I also enjoyed a cappuccino automatically barista’d by this Miele plumbed-in-wall coffee maker, which even ground the beans and could be set up with my own custom brew profiles…if both my galley and boat budget were larger.
The Voyager Maritime Alliance Group works with Radio Zeeland DMP for some elements of its big yacht systems and apparently, that’s how I, too, got to sit in the extremely comfortable chair where the master of a big pushboat might control multiple azimut pod drives, deck winches, etc. “Master” has rarely seemed so appropriate a term. Not only do the trackballs have multi-color LED backlighting so they can indicate alerts and alarms (as I first saw at FLIBS years ago), but each control button can also change color to further indicate where a problem is.
At FLIBS, the indoor boat exhibit area was so loaded with snazzy-looking center consoles that it seemed brilliant of Everglades to highlight their unsinkable and hard-to-break construction techniques by sawing a boat in three sections and carefully labeling all revealed details.
There were electric and hybrid propulsion systems in Lauderdale, but the big iron was a lot more noticeable. Like these triple Seven Marine 557s, which claim 60% more horsepower than any other outboard and even fuel efficiency (if you want to cruise really fast)…
Heck, Lauderdale even has tricked out and beautifully maintained monster tow trucks, lest your shuttle bus breaks down.
Also, hard to miss was this 20 cylinder MTU 20V 4000 M93L diesel, which isn’t even the largest in the MTU yacht line. And apparently, it only takes two 16-cylinder MTU’s to cruise the Jarrett Bay 77 below at 35 knots. Blank Check had a sold sign on when I took this shot on Saturday. It was a heck of a FLIBS.Click here to read comments about this Panbo entry, or add your own.
As mentioned, I’m currently making my way down to the Eastern Carribean on a small boat. The goal of the trip is capital-S Science. I’m little more than a spectator and spry young winch-grinder but Bob Steneck, who owns the boat, is a marine biologist specializing in coral reef conservation. In an attempt to document the trip and provide accessible, comprehensible science to interested laypersons such as myself, he has just started a blog. It’s worth a look if you want to understand more about reef ecosystems and what we might do to save them: Bob Steneck: Antilles 2013P.S. Bob trying to figure out how to get the blog in a format he liked: “It’s like Lucy and the football: with every try I think, OK this time it’s really going to work. And then…”
One of the criteria we had when selecting a name for Totem was to find something unique: we didn’t want to be another Jenny in the anchorage. When choosing her name, we referenced the USCG’s online registry of names for documented vessels. Not every boat has to be USCG documented, of course, but we felt it was a good proxy for name popularity. A couple of Alaskan fishing boats didn’t feel like an infringement, and Totem became our new boat (and family) name.
I found out recently that we’re not the only sailboat named Totem. A flash of disappointment that we weren’t alone lasted just a few seconds as I read the story of this other boat.
That’s Totem on the right, above, next to sistership Cherokee. They belong to the Six Metre class; Totem was designed and built by famed naval architect Bill Luders. Launched in 1930, he sailed her to win the nationals in 1931.
The six metre heyday dimmed in the mid 20th century, but has surged again in recent decades. Back at home on Bainbridge Island, we often admired the local fleet- there are a couple of dozen six metres based there. More are gathered in fleets around the world.
I had to know more than the overview on the 6 metre website, so I wrote to webmaster Matt Cockburn and to Totem’s owner, Jesse Smith, who has a blog for Totem linked from the class website. (Thanks to Matt and Jesse for allowing me to share their photos!)
Many of the early six metres are remembered only in racing records, but a handful of owners like Jesse have invested considerable effort into the restoration of these classic boats. A modern fleet, fiberglass boats built since the latter half of the twentieth century, have added to the numbers. Old or new, they are stunning vessels with a gorgeous overhang and clean pretty lines that just leave me speechless. What Jesse has given Totem is more than a refit- it’s really a resurrection. Stripping back later modifications, then building to the original aesthetic.
The details are breathtaking. It’s boat porn, really.
Restoration complete, she’s been actively campaigned with great success, and gone on to win a host of awards- racing in the World Cup in Finland in 2011, and finishing first out of 57 boats at the Opera Cup in 2010.
I suppose it was inevitable that eventually we’d run into another Totem. That this Totem should be a beauty of great provenance makes it feel special. Crazy as it is, I feel a connection to this boat I’ve only seen in pictures. Seeing on Totem’s team the names and faces of people Jamie and I have raced with or against (we have spent more years as racing sailors than we have as cruisers), chronicled in Jesse’s blog, knowing Jesse’s roots are in our home waters of Puget Sound- it all reinforces the link.
As it turns out, Jesse and his family are planning their own cruising adventures and plan to depart soon for blue horizons. We’ll be looking for them. And no, their cruising boat isn’t named Totem.
Who needs all that equipment anyway!? Never fired a flare before? Never been in a liferaft, at sea or otherwise? Watch this video from the 2013 Caribbean 1500 rally to get an idea just WHY you need all that expensive stuff, and how it can save your life. One reason why the 1500 is the SAFEST way to go offshore. Video filmed and produced by our friends Ben & Teresa Carey.
By Patrick Wilson
© November 3, 2013
The Hayes family had hoped to check out Olde Towne during their week at the Ocean Marine Yacht Center, but the Canadians had too much work to do getting their sailboat ready for an ocean voyage.
They were among about 30 participants in town the past week for the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers Caribbean 1500, a 1,500-mile journey that began Saturday in Portsmouth and will end at Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. The 24-year-old rally departed from Hampton last year; this is its first year in Portsmouth.
Despite the nerves of preparation, many of the sailors explored Olde Towne during the past week, dining at restaurants such as the Bier Garden and watching “Captain Phillips” at the Commodore Theatre. Because of the weather, they left Saturday afternoon instead of a planned departure on Sunday.
The journey to Tortola will take seven to 12 days. Prizes will be awarded in a variety of categories, and although the cruise is not a race, the first boat to arrive will be recognized.
Andy Schell and Mia Karlsson, a husband-and-wife team who run the event for the World Cruising Club, flew to Portsmouth to coordinate activities and safety inspections.
Like runners in a marathon, many sailors are simply challenging themselves, Schell said.
“Everyone here is stressed and nervous, especially the people who have never gone offshore before.”
Sailors will stay in radio contact on the voyage.
David Hayes, his wife, Isabelle Tremblay, and daughters Rebecca, 13, and Demi, 8, are sailing about half the distance – to The Bahamas – because this is the first offshore passage for the children. They will cruise the Caribbean this winter and hope to sail to Europe.
“For the next year, this boat is our house,” Tremblay said Friday as the family sat down for an interview below deck on their 41-foot boat, Morning Haze.
Hayes and his family, who live in the Quebec city of Saint-Jean-des-Piles, expect to sail six to eight days. The couple are leaving behind hectic lives.
He is a professor in the chiropractic department at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres but will research offshore sailing injuries during his family’s travels. Tremblay is a financial planner who quit her job so they could sail. They will homeschool the girls.
The couple first dreamed of such a journey about 10 years ago. The family has been sailing together since 2008. They’ve spent years working on the Morning Haze.
They also hunt as a family and killed a moose, whose tender meat is packed in the freezer for family meals that are cooked on a stove that would remain secure even if the boat capsized. Water is stored below the floor, and the ship is stocked with canned food and dry goods. Each daughter has her own room. Rebecca Hayes made a YouTube video promoting the family’s journey in the style of a movie trailer.
Hayes’ father died last summer, and a close family friend died of cancer in the fall. That’s a reason why he and his wife, appreciative of their health, made the decision to sail.
“Life is today,” Hayes said. “Hopefully, what we’ll learn from our trip is to slow down a little bit more.”
Patrick Wilson, 757-222-3893, email@example.com
I’ll admit it – I’m a sucker for Hallowe’en. Oh, Christmas has its charms – lots of family, lots of presents. Easter is a chocolate-lover’s dream. But nothing celebrates a combination of excess and rule-breaking like the 31stof October. “Wear whatever you want!” “Sure, you can go for a walk in the dark and take candy from strangers!” “Imagination is a good thing! Believe in ghosts and fairies all you like!” Hallowe’en is ironically, for all of its scary trappings, a day when members of the community agree to trust each other and take a one-day break from fear.
I am fully aware that I fly the Hallowe’en flag alone on this boat. Indy and Stylish like it, of course, but since our Hallowe’en activities change from year to year, they haven’t built up a sense of tradition-through-repetition the way I did. Erik finds the entire urban trick-or-treating formula mystifying. As best I can tell, he travelled back to the rural 1880s for his Hallowe’ens. On Hallowe’en night, he and a friend rode on horseback between a handful of farms. They clopped down lanes lit with candled sheep skulls, and were invited into dim kitchens to sip hot cider and eat home-made treats while gammers and gaffers told them terrifying stories of local murders and haunted inns. What a show-off. I’m sure I had just as much fun strolling from house to house dressed as a punk rocker and collecting tiny Mars bars in a pillowcase.
We only really woke to the fact that Hallowe’en was upon us once again when Stylish was talking to her best friend from home. Her friend asked what Stylish was going to be on the big day, offering that she herself planned to be a ghost. Stylish and Indy blinked at each other.
That was an error on my part. My free-and-easy insistence that this Hallowe’en party was going to be no big deal opened the door to Erik ‘s favourite activity: inviting people over. For coffee, for cake, for a beer, for a water – irrelevant. Come sit in our cockpit and chat. I’m sure he saw it as a chance to get the Hallowe’en he wanted, too (minus the horses, of course.)“So, who’s coming?” I asked as I mixed cupcake batter. “Oh, you know,” he said casually. “Winfried and Ute. Paul and Catherine. Maybe Esti and Mario.” “Mmmm.” I opened the cupboard and prepared to bake a second cake. Our tiny green squash was carved and the guests en route. Indy dove back into her devil-gear. In the end we had five kids and seven adults on board, and a surprise set of three trick-or-treaters who arrived in a dinghy. (Lucky for me, I had extra candy at the ready. Ka-pow! Score one for urban Hallowe’en preparedness.) Everyone laughed, and ate, and admired the costumes. The sweets were gone in a twinkling. Hours later, the kids in bed, I washed the stack of cake plates. I had to admit, this strange merger of Hallowe’en styles had worked pretty well. I popped a tiny Mars bar into my mouth. Happy Hallowe’en to us all. Cutest squash ever.
For the second time in as many years, the Caribbean 1500 fleet is bound for Tortola day ahead of schedule. Around noon local time today in Portsmouth, Virginia, skipper’s and their crews finished stowing last minute gear, rigged their jacklines and took off from the dock at Ocean Marine Yacht Center for a scheduled 1500 start time off Hampton Flats just north of Norfolk.
“It was unprecedented last year,” commented Miles Poor, “and to do it again, only the second time in 24 years of the event, is remarkable.”
At 1510 local time, after a ten-minute postponement to allow for the repositioning of the committee vessel, the starting gun sounded and the fleet was off. Ralliers crossed the line in a light northerly breeze on port tack, with the Hallberg-Rassey Starburst leading the way east, closely edging out Altria and Tara who were a close second and third over the line.
“See you in Tortola!” shouted the crew of Starburst as they ghosted past Cloud Nine the committee boat that was generously offered from local slipholders at Ocean Marine.
Andromeda got recognition for the first boat to launch their spinnaker, setting the big colorful sail just moments after crossing the starting line. The rest of the fleet quickly followed, and soon there was a bastion of colors on the sunlit horizon as the yachts headed out towards the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean beyond.
The start was moved up a day early due to a tight weather window in which to get the fleet safely across the Gulf Stream in reasonable conditions. As a strong cold front passed over Portsmouth around midday today, with clearing skies and falling temperatures, a ridge of high pressure behind it is expected to bring strong northeasterly winds through the area over the next couple of days. Rally organizers and Weather Routing Inc. consulted on the starting time and decided to follow in the wake of the frontal passage to take advantage of the lighter northwesterly winds that are now taking hold and should get the fleet well offshore before the windshift. In essence, the fleet has been given a 20-hour head-start on the originally scheduled departure time to take full advantage of the excellent conditions.
For the second year the decision to depart early highlights the challenges of a fall passage from the US East Coast. The weather windows are few, and when they are right, you’ve got to be flexible enough to take advantage of them.
“We’re are all sailors,” said Caribbean 1500 event manager Andy Schell at an impromptu weather briefing on Friday afternoon, when it appeared that a Saturday start was looming. “We’re at the mercy of the weather. We’re not going to make a decision based around convenience. It’s got to be based on seamanship.”
By Saturday morning’s weather briefing with WRI, it was obvious that Saturday was the day, and the fleet rallied around the decision that became official at the 0900 Skipper’s Briefing. The Briefing itself had been moved up from noon in anticipation of the possible change in plans, and skipper’s and crew took it all in stride and seemed very supportive of the process.
Following the majority of the fleet, Topaz, Sojourner and Windquest took the starting line about 30 minutes later, crossing within meters of one another. Keep It Simple remains at Ocean Marine and will depart at 0600 Sunday morning after picking up their last crewmember. None of the late-starting yachts will be penalized due to the start having been moved up. Instead they’ll take their own times as the cross the line and their elapsed time will be adjusted accordingly.
As the fleet heads offshore, follow their progress and read their logs on www.worldcruising.com/carib1500.
A young man was invited to go cruising for a few years. His family, his father especially, thought he would be throwing his education away, not to mention risking his life. Sound familiar, cruisers? In the face of such disapproval the young man decided not to go, but a favorite uncle interceded on his behalf. The favorite uncle was Josiah Wedgewood, of the Wedgewood pottery, the young man was Charles Darwin, and his cruise on the Beagle was probably history’s most important voyage of scientific discovery.
But when he left on the Beagle he was a young sprat of twenty-two, once sending home a dispatch that said,
“Our chief amusement was riding about and admiring the Spanish Ladies. After watching one of these angels gliding down the streets, involuntarily we groaned out, ‘how foolish English women are, they can neither walk nor dress’. And then how ugly Miss sounds after Signorita; I am sorry for you all, it would do the whole tribe of you a great deal of good to come to Buenos Ayres.”
A sentiment echoed by sailors visiting Buenos Aires ever since.
The book, Fossils, Finches, and Fuegians chronicles the second voyage of the Beagle (Darwin wasn’t on the first) and is interspersed with many of Darwin’s letters home to his sister, and many letters between Darwin and FitzRoy, the captain. Darwin and FitzRoy liked each other, despite FitzRoy’s volatile temper. The blustery captain and the erudite ship’s naturalist seem to be a model for Aubrey and Maturin, the heroes of Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander series, and the movie of the same name.
The author, Richard Darwin Keynes, was Charles Darwin’s great-grandson. The author’s other great-grandfather was John Maynard Keynes, as in Keynesian Economics. What, did the English intellectual class gather every year to marry off their daughters?
From a sailor’s perspective it’s fascinating to read about an early expedition to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. They anchored in all the same places I did (and where Captain Joshua Slocum did) in the Straits of Magellan. When the Beagle anchored in Puerto Tamar, Bahia Fortescue, and Charles III Island, they were looking for protection from there same nasty winds (video here), and worrying about dragging into the exact same places.
With advances in technology and perspectives it isn’t easy to share an experience with someone from 175 years ago, but for a sailor the Straits of Magellan haven’t changed, and having GPS and a a radio makes little difference when a 100-knot williwaw blows down on you. A diesel engine, however, makes a very big difference.
The captain of the the first Beagle expedition, Pringle Stokes, found the western entrance to the Straits so miserable that after fighting storms for a month he put a bullet in his head. Unfortunately the bullet didn’t kill him, and he died of gangrene twelve days later. It’s the curse of the Beagle: FitzRoy committed suicide later in life too.
Time has not been kind to the Fuegians either: Christina Calderon, the last full blood Yamana, died a few years before I got to Puerto Williams, Chile. In Puerto Eden, Chile, I saw the last of the Kawascar living in a few squalid huts. That was in 2007, so I’m not sure how many are left now.
One reviewer called Fossils, Finches, and Fuegians the latest addition to the Darwin industry. I didn’t know there was a Darwin industry, but apparently many books have been written on the subject. I feel like I started reading in the right place, as this book doesn’t get too bogged down in the science, and portrays a more human story of young men on a grand adventure. Half the story is told in Darwin’s own words, through his journals and correspondence; the other half by a direct descendant, who fills in the gaps.
How do you keep holiday traditions alive while cruising? I worried about this before we took off as a family. I was afraid that our kids would someday feel cheated, like they’d missed out on the cultural rituals of an American childhood.
We’ve now celebrated the last six Halloweens in six different countries (I have to admit: this stuns me). Each time has been unique, each has been memorable, and it didn’t take Herculean effort or long term planning and stowing decorations from afar to ensure the kids didn’t feel like we’d shortcut the holiday.
One of my favorite distinctions of our Halloweens since departing is that other than the first year, while we were still sailing down the US west coast, they have been entirely devoid of consumer marketing. Halloween stuff starts showing up in stores before the kids start school at home, but here, we never saw a bag of fake spider webbing floss, a PVC witches hat, or a plastic jack o’lantern- junk we didn’t need, junk that becomes garbage. We never missed it!
It’s easy enough to make what we need from what’s on ha
nd. One holiday-specific item we have, though, is something the kids now insist on every year and is well on way to being a Totem tradition. Jack-o-lantern cookies, with custom cookie cutters thanks to the crew of sv Milagro (Michael visited us when he was in Sydney for work two years ago; as a cruiser, he definitely gets it!).
This year, there was even less planning and anticipation than usual. With my parents visiting, we were busy pretty much right up until the last minute. The kids had talked about costumes for weeks, but weren’t committed to anything. Not a problem: they all came together with goods on hand over a day or two leading up to the 31st. Our boat decorations weren’t over the top, but there are ghouls around the mast, fluttery bats under main cabin ports and a few spooky wraiths in the shadows.
What made Halloween this year really special was the reunion with an American family we had not seen since our time in Mexico. The crew of Love Song includes two boys, seven and nine, and Halloween was definitely a priority! They were anchored in a bay just a short jaunt from where we’d been staying with our visitors. The barrier island they face was perfect for a beach bonfire, and a gathering of several cruising families.
We all arrived at dusk. Earlier in the day, Kathy set up a series of sheet “ghosts” along the trail that circles the small island. We walked around to light tin cans fueled with a little diesel and a rag, then led a passel of cruising kids along the dark trail in their flickering light… with parents ghouls hidden behind pandanus or palms, adding our own brand of creepiness to the journey.
Back at the bonfire, there was “trick or treating”- but it was only after grilled sausages and foil boats of veggies that we had the real treat of the evening. We had anticipated seeing Love Song for weeks, so it was the arrival that afternoon of another boat we hadn’t seen since Mexico, George and Kathleen of sv Kalalau, that was the really great surprise for me and Jamie.
In the glow of the beach fire, George recited Derelict entirely from memory. Based on the chorus lines of a sea-song in Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure island, Young E. Allison drew full lyrics from his imagination in 1891. It tells the story of crew marooned by Blackbeard on the Caribbean island of Dead Man’s Chest, leaving them with nothing but a cutlass and a bottle of rum each.
George’s dramatic telling, in the warm breeze, the light of the fire, the sky full of stars and the waving palms- well, it held us all riveted, and was the perfect salty cap to a cruiser’s Halloween.
Young E. Allison
available at the Gutenberg project
Fifteen men on the Dead Man’s Chest—
Drink and the devil had done for the rest—
The mate was fixed by the bos’n's pike,
The bos’n brained with a marlin spike,
And Cookey’s throat was marked belike
It had been gripped
By fingers ten;
And there they lay,
All good dead men
Like break-o’-day in a boozing-ken—
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Fifteen men of the whole ship’s list—
Dead and be damned and the rest gone whist!—
The skipper lay with his nob in gore
Where the scullion’s axe his cheek had shore—
And the scullion he was stabbed times four.
And there they lay,
And the soggy skies
Dripped all day long
In upstaring eyes—
In murk sunset and at foul sunrise—
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Fifteen men of ‘em stiff and stark—
Ten of the crew had the Murder mark—
‘Twas a cutlass swipe or an ounce of lead,
Or a yawing hole in a battered head—
And the scuppers glut with a rotting red
And there they lay—
Aye, damn my eyes—
All lookouts clapped
All souls bound just contrariwise—
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.
Fifteen men of ‘em good and true—
Every man jack could ha’ sailed with Old Pew—
There was chest on chest full of Spanish gold,
With a ton of plate in the middle hold,
And the cabins riot of stuff untold,
And they lay there,
That had took the plum,
With sightless glare
And their lips struck dumb,
While we shared all by the rule of thumb—
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
More was seen through the stern light screen—
Chartings no doubt where a woman had been!—
A flimsy shift on a bunker cot,
With a thin dirk slot through the bosom spot
And the lace stiff dry in a purplish blot.
Oh was she wench…
Or some shuddering maid…?
That dared the knife—
And took the blade!
By God! she was stuff for a plucky jade—
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Fifteen men on the Dead Man’s Chest—
Drink and the devil had done for the rest—
We wrapped ‘em all in a mains’l tight
With twice ten turns of a hawser’s bight
And we heaved ‘em over and out of sight—
With a Yo-Heave-Ho!
And a fare-you-well!
And a sullen plunge
In the sullen swell,
Ten fathoms deep on the road to hell!
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Ever since I first talked to designer Chris White earlier this year about his new MastFoil rig I’ve been anxious to try it out. I’ve always been very interested in unconventional rigs, and this one seems particularly promising, so of course my outing aboard his new MastFoil-rigged Atlantic 47 apres-show in Annapolis last month was perhaps the one test sail I was most looking forward to. Unfortunately, the wind was much lighter than I would have liked, blowing only about 5-7 knots, so I still can’t say anything terribly definitive about how the rig performs.
I can say it is easy to handle, much easier than a conventional rig, particularly when it comes to setting and striking sail. Not having a huge full-batten main to wrestle with is a major bonus if you’re into laid-back sailing. Overall, in the conditions we had, I’d say this boat didn’t sail any slower than an equivalent conventionally rigged catamaran would have, and it certainly tacked more easily.
From the helm in the forward cockpit you have a good view of the forward mast and both sails. You have to move around a bit to get a useful view of the aft mast
Both masts act as sails themselves and rotate through a full 360 degrees. There’s a small Gurney flap on the back of each mast to help increase the lift it creates. The flaps are easy to control and have just three settings–right, left, and center
The top speed we saw during our brief afternoon jaunt was 5 knots at an apparent wind angle of 65 degrees. At 45 degrees we made 3.8 knots and sometimes touched 4. We weren’t really able to point much higher than that. This boat is equipped with fixed keels, which also have flaps on their trailing edges to help increase lift. We didn’t play with these, however, and Chris conceded they’ll only get you an extra two or three degrees closer to the wind. It’s also possible to fly big light-wind sails, a screecher or an A-sail, but unfortunately we didn’t play with these either.
It is, I think, an attractive rig. To get an idea of how much power the masts actually generate, we stalled one out while sailing and saw our speed drop by about one knot
I shared my test sail with Cruising World‘s Boat Of The Year crew. That’s Herb “Racer X” McCormick settling into a groove at the helm while Chris White looks on
What’s the best term for a rig like this? This boat’s owner likes to call his new baby a staysail schooner or a “schoonermaran”
Thom Dozier, the owner of our boat, Pounce, was aboard for the test, and he’s had quite a bit of experience with it, as he sailed it all the way up from Chile, where it was built. As a licensed pilot he was intrigued by the rig and told me was willing to take a chance on it because its aerodynamics made sense to him. So far he is quite pleased with it. He and his delivery crew had several 200-mile days during their long voyage north and averaged 180 miles a day overall.
As for me, I’d like more experience with the rig and would love to have a chance to try it out in a stronger breeze. A gale maybe, so I can see if it really sails to windward under bare naked foils.
Be sure to look for a more detailed review of the boat in general in a future issue of SAIL.
…and you don’t even need a boat:
Joe Elder and his wife Alison own and run Skipjack Nautical in Portsmouth, VA. it’s one of the few places like it in the USA – a treasure trove of nautical artifacts and artwork stretched throughout a beautiful gallery overlookin the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth. Joe and I talked about how he got involved starting the business, his career as a professional diver and underwater archaeologist, how he and Alison lost it all at the original Skipjack due to a catastrophic fire and Joe’s passion for history and all things nautical. We chatted in the back of Skipjack at a table where Joe was just working on valuing a series of swords from a local collector, some dating as far back as the War of 1812. The place is awesome! Thanks Joe!