So we have the defender of the America’s Cup bloodied and cornered and ready to try something new, if the jungledrums are echoing off the canyons correctly.
That is, it’s not a good look to be doing boat mods in the middle of the 34th match. “Minor modifications” was the word from the team. But Oracle Team USA has nothing to lose. The true competitor wakes up in the morning expecting to win. There is no other mindset. Or as Spithill put it after losing two on Thursday to go down six races to minus one, “Imagine if those guys lost from here. What an upset that would be . . . I’d like to be part of that.”
If Dean Barker and Team New Zealand were in that corner, he’d be talking the same way.
Meanwhile, I’ve noticed that changing tacticians didn’t change outcomes for Oracle, and if the penalties had been reversed coming into this deal, Emirates Team New Zealand would be up, 4-1. The Oracle guys have a tight circle around Kyle Langford. They have his back. Good on them, and I don’t want to pick on him because I just don’t know, but—
It’s no small matter to lose your veteran first-string wing trimmer the week before the regatta. According to the jury’s own statement, “The Jury has no intention to impose a penalty that will determine the outcome of the match.” But baby, you may’a done exactly that.
Which then forces the counter question, could any trimmer be making the difference in the way that Oracle is 25-50 percent slower through the tacks? It’s not a question for a flatfoot reporter to answer. Leg 3, upwind, is where ETNZ eats the defender alive. The only upwind of the course. And if there had been an additional upwind leg, I’m not so sure that Oracle would have won the only race they’ve won so far.
One certainty: If Oracle can pull out a win in today’s first race they will light this thing up all over again. The home towners are looking for a reason to cheer. The crowds are out, buzz is buzzing, and from our sputtering start with the challenger processionals, oops, I mean, eliminations, we have America’s Cup racing for real.
Gray skies overhead in the Golden Gate Strait in the early morn, leaves already stirring and all the signs agreeing with wind forecasts into the twenties today. Combine a 21.7 knot wind limit for the first race of the day over an ebb of 1.3 knots, and any local will tell you we can hope to get in one race, but don’t bet the farm that the second race of the day will actually happen.
Hey, Reader Folks
It feels strange that I haven’t been much with you in this, but I’ve been very much on the scene and taken up doing live commentary and running this way and that. Haven’t wanted to throw up cheap posts that add nothing to the general run. Speaking of run . . .
Some readers may be interested in seeing images of Relapse under sail. Mark and family don’t have a great internet connection in Indonesia right now, but he was able to send some lower res photos. It’s unlikely they’ll change anyone’s mind about what makes a great cruising boat, but maybe at least give food for thought regarding balance and family-friendliness.
Here’s Relapse, very well balanced. There’s no one steering, the autopilot is off, and the family is all sitting on the coach roof. According to Mark they’re sitting on 9 to 10 knots boat speed here.
Mark and Catherine have two boys- they love sailing, and are happy at the helm. Fast enough to make that NZ flag look a little shredded in the back. You might think this would be tough, but you’d be wrong. I love how Ash is REALLY concentrating on something here! Cruising family touch: that white thing on the right is the bottom of an Optimist dinghy. Teaching kids to sail young.
My personal favorite: the Yes We Are Cruising shot with their dodger up (not a ton of shade, but there is some protection!) and two dinghies on deck: that’s an Opti across the transom. Relapse is sitting on 14 knots here, double reefed in 20 to 25 knots breeze. There’s no one on the helm. The sails aren’t out far, so wind must be forward of the beam, but there’s no discernible heel.
Back to our usual normal programming.
Ah, yes. Hype season is upon us once again, and I spent all day yesterday walking the show in Newport. If you visit the same shows every year, they start to assume a sort of timeless quality, as though they are frozen in capsules where nothing ever changes. In reality, of course, they are constantly changing. Some of these changes jump out at you; others are more subtle.
Probably the biggest change I noticed this year, after I slapped myself into awareness, was the mast position on Lagoon’s new 39-foot cruising catamaran.
It’s actually a little hard to make out in this photo, because there’s another boat and mast directly behind it, but the mast on the new 39 is quite far aft–at the back of the bridgedeck saloon, rather than at the front. In profile I think it looks butt-ugly, like those old Prouts from way back when, but it actually makes a lot of sense. How many times have you seen cruising-cat sailors dogging around with just their jibs out because they’re too lazy to wrestle with a big-ass full-roached mainsail? Make the headsail much bigger and the main much smaller and hopefully more of those guys will raise more sail and stop running their motors so much.
Moving the mast aft also puts it much closer to an aft-bulkhead helm station. Line runs to the helm can all be kept quite short, with little friction in them, making it easier for the helmsperson to control everything from one place.
Lagoon will still be producing the ever-popular 380, one of the most successful mass-production cats ever created, but the new 39 looks to me to have a higher finish quality. This is the starboard-side owner’s stateroom in the boat on display at the show.
I normally don’t care much for boats from the German builder Hanse, as their Euro-styling often seems a bit severe to me, but this new Hanse 345 caught my eye for sure. It is an amazingly large 34-foot boat, replete with twin wheels and a full-size cockpit with a fixed table in the middle.
It’s big on the inside, too. The saloon has full standing headroom, and there’s plenty of space for the sales guy to pitch lots of people at the same time.
The two staterooms have adequate-size double berths and the head is genuinely enormous, with a dedicated shower stall.
Of course, there are also lots of genuinely large boats in the show, including the new Beneteau Oceanis 55, which features a pair of sun lounges on either side of the companionway. One question I had about this was: how are you ever going to catch rays lying under the dodger?
Yeah, I know–you can put the dodger down, but how many people with dodgers actually do that? These lounges should, in any event, make very nice berths for people who like sleeping out at night.
One boat I was curious to see was the new Bluejacket 40 from Island Packet. This is the first IP ever designed not to be beige and is considerably slimmer than its stablemates, with a finer entry and a much more modern underbody. It also has a modern Solent rig, with a genoa on a separate furler immediately forward of a clubfooted self-tacking jib.
The cockpit is more modern, too, with twin helm stations. Putting in that nub of a nav display and engine-control stand you see in the middle of the cockpit seems like an interesting decision. I don’t know yet whether you can order a standard full-sized fixed cockpit table if you want.
All lines are led aft, in various ways, including the single double-ended sheet that controls the jib.
And there’s full standing headroom under the dodger, even for a tall guy like me, so working winches around the companionway shouldn’t be a bother.
As with all IPs, finish quality inside is very good, with nice woodwork, but with a full-floor fiberglass pan around the galley, nav desk, and companionway base.
The boat I most wanted to go sailing on, and to own in some future life where I have more money than God, was this sleek Eagle 44 from Leonardo Yachts in Holland. It has very fine lines, narrow beam, and very long overhangs in the classic style, but with a super-modern bulb keel and a high-aspect spade rudder underneath.
The offset companionway leads down a small exquisitely finished cuddy cabin with a toilet and some berths. All winches and controls are electrified for maximum decadence and minimum effort.
The acutely varnished cockpit table has a small sink and a fridge hidden inside.
The mainsheet behind the helm is controlled by a belowdeck captive winch. The mainsheet, vang, backstay, and primary winch controls are all in that shiny panel to starboard. You actually do have to cast off and pick up the jib sheets, but you can order a custom self-tacking jib if even that seems too strenuous.
Back in the real world, I also found this remarkably inexpensive (just $50K) 26-foot sport boat from China sitting on a trailer. Far East learned boatbuilding doing a ton of OEM work for Western builders and recently started marketing its own line of boats here in the States via Sturgis Boat Works.
The aluminum rig is from Selden, and all the deck hardware, like the Harken winches, is top Western kit.
The keel is retractable, and the quality of the finish both inside and out is quite good. Far East also produces a smaller 18-foot race boat that lists for under $22K. Either boat can be fit with a sprit for flying A-sails instead of conventional spinnakers downwind.
Towards the end of the day I heard the siren call of the America’s Cup and drifted into a nearby bar to watch races 6 and 7. I had plenty of company and much communal moaning was heard as we watched Oracle screw the pooch once and then twice again.
This ugly business with the Cup should be done by this weekend, so I’ll have plenty of time to clear my mind before heading down to Annapolis next month.
Our recent crossing from Borneo to the Malay peninsula is probably the last multi-day passage we’ll have for a while. Breezes funneling up from the Indian Ocean give us a nice angle to reach across, so hopes were high for a good sail. We’ve had precious little of those here in the land below the wind!
This is also a stretch of the South China Sea that has been a significant contributor to Indonesia’s current status as the highest piracy rate globally. Before anyone worries that we’re taking foolish risks, consider that not a single one of those attacks has been against a private cruising boat. Commercial ships are the target. We did not feel that we were compromising our safety by taking this route, but we did feel a heightened sense of awareness for our surroundings.
As it turns out, we had the only negative experiences in six months of passing through Indonesian waters.
The first came from a motley looking boat. It was a pretty typical Indonesian fishing boat: mis-matched paint, tired on every dimension, fishing gear hanging off the back, national flag snapping in the breeze. They were running a longline out the back, and staying relatively stationary when we spotted them ahead of us. As we approached, they moved to try and cut across our bow- despite having extensive gear behind the boat.
We were carried about sixty degrees over before getting enough oomph (thank you, Yanmar 4JH3TE) to get in front of them, and cut back over. At that point, they waved. Yeah, thanks a lot guys.
We’ve heard that this is a ploy used to try and extort money: having crossed a boats line or nets and ruining them (not to mention, completely fouling the sailboats prop and likely stopping progress), you are kind of at their mercy to make things right. Not cool. A second boat, nearly identical boat waited about a mile ahead- but we diverted to put distance between us and their effort to cut our way was relatively meager.
It was the second incident that was somewhat sobering, although it had less direct affect upon our boat and little crew. As we sailed south of the Anandas island group, we were approached by a relatively small, unmarked wooden boat. With a lone crew and no fishing gear, but a very large VHF antenna strapped on top, we assume this was a scout for a larger pirate vessel. Small Indonesian fishing boats do not use VHF, and they certainly don’t mount monster antennae on their little coach roof to boost the reach.
It zoomed up to us, checked us out, but didn’t try to impair our progress. We continued reaching comfortably across the glassy seas. Claire and I smiled and waved, and eventually coaxed a friendly response. A few miles later, a virtually identical boat appeared for a repeat performance. Unnerving, unusual, but not threatening.
Would we go through here again? Sure. Does it make me think about how piracy could evolve in this area? Absolutely. There are very different dynamics in place than off the horn of Africa, but it’s not hard to imagine how pirates could make the leap from merchant ship targeting to ransom-value small vessel targeting.
Thanks to Claire Suni for the photo.
Arcturus is hauled out now in Öregrund, Sweden, and Mia is begging for a proper fall day. Our last sail a couple weekends ago was also the only time we’ve had a real taste of fall here, despite it being nearly the middle of September.
Mia’s parents came out and joined us on the boat for a couple of days over the USA’s Labor Day Weekend. Thankfully – for the lack of crowds I mean – there is no such holiday here, and we had the entire cruising ground outside Öregrund completely to ourselves.
The day before Mia and I had taken the ferry over to the island of Grassö and ran for a couple of hours, covering a 13-mile loop around the gravel roads and through some forest tracks. The weather was changing, and it drizzled on us a bit, but it was still quite warm, so we ran in shorts and t-shirts, and sweated.
It was a preview though for Sunday, when Mia’s parents arrived to a very chilly morning and joined us for breakfast on the boat (‘hurricane eggs’, one of my all-time favorites on the boat. Take an extra-thick slice of homemade bread, cut out a hole in the middle of it, and with loads of butter in an iron skillet, crack two eggs into the hole and fry the thing as one unit. I like the eggs nice and runny).
We sailed out into the fairway between Grassö and the mainland, aiming south, and romped along on a broad reach in flat water. It’s the first time Mia’s parents have been actually sailing on our boat (they’d visited us once in the USA before we crossed the Atlantic, but had only slept aboard in Spa Creek in Annapolis, not ever actually hoisting sails). Mia’s dad napped while her mom knitted two pairs of socks over the course of their two-day visit.
We were excited to share with them a typical mooring along the cliffs in a small ‘nature harbor’ as they’re called, and found a perfect little hidey-hole to set up camp for the night. We walked along some forest paths worn into the woods over the years, and ate pumpkin soup and drank Scotch for dinner, followed by a rousing game of UNO in the little cabin of Arcturus.
The next day was the last sailing day of the season for us. We waited out some nasty thunderstorms in the morning, including one that dumped inches of hail on the marina where we’d been only the day before. We experienced a few little pebbles in our anchorage, only four miles away, but were stunned to see what had occurred on our return. The wind increased though with force, and shifted to the northwest, strong enough to encourage me to launch the dinghy and row out a second anchor just in case. The wind finally blew itself out, and we venture out, tacking our way back up the narrow channel and all the way into the marina.
That afternoon, the mizzen mast came down, the sails came off and we began the process of packing the boat up for the winter.
It felt like such a short summer! Then again, we lived on the boat for some eight weeks, sailed over 300 miles and probably used the boat more than most people do in an entire summer on the Chesapeake. I feel guilty leaving it for so long here unattended, though she’ll be in good hands. The yard dude at Grepen Marin in Öregrund couldn’t be friendlier, and will be looking after the boat while we’re gone. Weird to think that it’ll be a full ten months until we put it back in the water.
Which brings me to the topic I really wanted to write about today, discussing the future. There has been a lot of stories in the news lately about climate change and the sudden realization that the earth has actually been cooling over the past fifteen years or so, and that all those climate scientists are idiots at best, liars at worst. How Al Gore is peddling his snake oil in his traveling circus of presentations on his ideas of the future. Nowhere have I read anyone taking the stance of skepticism and patience. It’s either ‘yep, this is definitely happening,’ or ‘nope, this is a load of bunk.’ Where’s the middle ground?
Try counting the times in a newsy-type article on any topic – economics, housing, food, etc. – that someone makes a passing and rather nonchalant prediction. Most of the time these types of articles require that that prediction be true to reinforce the thesis of whatever it is someone is trying to explain. It’s simply assumed that this prediction is going to come true.
For example, one short blurb I read this morning about innovation in the USA in TIME – “The Chinese government – coming from far behind – has been pouring money into research and development at such a clip that” – and here it comes, that sneaky assumption – “according to one estimate from Batelle, a nonprofit technology-development group, its spending will surpass America’s in just ten years.” It’s said with such nonchalance that it reads like fact.
Ten years. Ten years! This sneaky little prediction goes out a full decade, ostensibly as a way of scaring us Americans into shoveling more money into technology and engineering.
Predicting the future based on what’s happened in the past. It’s called ‘conditional learning.’ Oddly, I came across this term just recently studying for my Swedish driver’s license exam. The simplest way to think of it is this – everyday you drive to work and pass an intersection that has a poor view to the right. But you never see any cars. You come to think, unconsciously even, that intersection is always free from traffic, so you unconsciously increase your speed day after day. And then, one day a car appears, and, bam! You’ve learned based on the prevailing conditions over time, have adapted your driving to them, but you’ve failed to account for the outlier.
A friend of mine and I chatted about what I feel is the fallacy of predicting the future of anything, but he disagreed in a way. This type of prediction, in particular, can act simply as a sort of scare tactic and actually change the outcome of the future it predicted. His point was we need these predictions to chart a course towards a future we want to see. Scare the Americans into thinking the Chinese will pass us, actions will change, and that prediction will ultimately fail, to our benefit. Fair enough.
It becomes dangerous when that chart is drawn based on the assumption that the prediction will come true. Take for example the city of Detroit. It’s municipal government set up it’s pension plans on the assumption that the money they stowed away and invested would return 8% for the life of the pension plan. 8%! Now the city has filed for bankruptcy. Imagine that.
There is a fascinating book called The Black Swan, on the surface about economics, but deep down really a philosophy book. It’s thesis is that traditional models of predicting the future are inherently flawed because they exclude ‘black swans,’ outlying events that might only occur once in history, but that are so big, they change the course of it permanently. Statistical anomalies off the bell curve that are just thrown out when creating mathematical prediction models. The 2008 financial meltdown was one. 9/11 was another. Hurricane Sandy yet one more recent example.
This business of predicting the future worries me when it comes to climate change (and economics for that matter, but that’s another issue). It’s impossible to accurately predict the local weather seven days out, so how in the world does anyone think predicting the future of the global-scale climate is going to turn out? Read about chaos theory sometime, how complex systems interact in such a way that it’s literally impossible to predict their outcome.
This is dangerous on both sides of the climate change argument – if we think humans are too small to affect the earth’s climate system and continue pumping pollution into the air and destroying the natural habitat, something is bound to change. It cannot be good. If we agree it’s already changing and decide to seed the clouds to make rain or block the suns rays with sulphur particles in the upper atmosphere, what the heck do you think the unintended consequences of that are going to be down the line? We do not understand the system as a hole, so should stop trying to predict it.
Anyway, I’m rambling here, but my point is that once you awaken to this idea of the fallacy of predicting the future, you’ll change your outlook on life. You’ll read the news differently. It doesn’t mean you can’t plan anything – on the contrary – but it does mean you might be less surprised when those plans change.
I was going to blog about the Cup again after watching race 4 on Sunday and planned to cheerfully announce how wrong I was in my last post on the subject. I am an optimist at heart, and I was ready to drink all the Kool-Aid in sight after watching Oracle finally beat Emirates Team New Zealand in a fair fight. I recalled the 2004 ALCS between the Red Sox and Yankees, and how I was chatting with my best Sox buddy right after the Yanks went up three games to zip in the series. “You know what,” I said to him, as the marvelous premonition of what was about to happen swept over me. “I think we have them right where we want them.”
And, of course, I was right…
I was trying very hard to have that premonition again. I tried to imagine the impossible becoming probable: Oracle coming back against all odds, in spite of being docked two races for cheating, in spite of losing their second most important crew member, in spite of losing the first three final races. Etc. etc. etc.
But then I thought I better watch race 5 before writing anything.
And presumably you know how that went.
Big f**king winners
Big f**king losers
I will say I am glad I was wrong in one respect: in the end the closest racing in these boats has come in the finals, which is how it should be. I will watch all remaining races with great interest, as should you all. Never before in the history of sailing have we been able to watch one 72-foot yacht traveling at 30-40 knots luff up hard at close quarters into another yacht of the same species, running at the same speeds, in a short round-the-buoys race.
If you don’t think that’s interesting or exciting, then you obviously have misplaced your brain somewhere.
I also have two suggestions: 1) if I were Larry Ellison I would interrogate all my paid employees closely until I found out exactly who did what in this AC World Series cheating scandal, then I would personally dismember all guilty parties and throw their body parts in the bay; and 2) if I were the Kiwis I’d insist that all cheating sanctions against Oracle be removed, just to keep things interesting a little while longer.
Meanwhile, whether suggestion no. 2 is seized upon or not, my previous offer re taking any odds that the Kiwis will win still stands.
For those who have missed any races so far, here’s a video archive:
Races 1 & 2
Races 3 & 4
(All still AC pix above are by Chuck Lantz)
In 2010, my cousin Claire came to stay on Totem in Bora Bora. Three years later she’s back again, with the unique distinction of still being the only relative to have trekked the miles to visit us (at least until next month, when my parents will meet us in Langkawi!).photo: Claire Suni
Being far away from people we love can be tough. It’s almost certainly the highest price we pay for this lifestyle. Even though email and video chat make it easier now than the cruisers of yesteryear, there’s still no substitute for being able to be right there with someone. We were in North America for most of our first two years of cruising, but have put awkward “vacation distance” between ourselves and home since then.
Claire’s visit prompted the reprise of a favorite tradition. We play a variant of rummy; an annual tournament back in Bellingham, Washington, has been our de facto annual family reunion for many years. And so it was decreed: the POCRT (Pan Oceanic Chicago Rummy Tournament) would have a regional competition in Malaysia: a championship title with medals, and of course bragging rights for all eternity.
We take card playing very seriously.
My Aunt Glenna had medals made up and delivered to Claire to pack along in her luggage to visit with us.
We needed to wrangle a few more players to get multiple tables going on a tournament, but that wasn’t too hard- I think it’s fair to say that cruisers are pretty active game players, be it cards, dominoes, or whatever! The good sports on Tahina and Utopia were more than game to jump in and play. They could appreciate the fine balance of friendly competition, salty snacks, and cocktails that are all important elements of POCRT.
We did decide to spare them the talent show, I did need to have a margarita.
We had a warm up day, to get in the groove… and then it was all about the cards. Vicious, sharky cards!
The fleet arrived at Tahina, where our gracious hosts Frank and Karen made extra ice to accommodate the revelers competitors.
Cards were played; games were won; tears were shed.
Jamie was our emcee for the awards ceremony.Does anyone care to identify the classic cruising movie playing in the background?
And those tears: tears of joy… mine, anyway. For the first time in umpteen years, I won!
I proudly wore my medal into town. Actually, I kind of had a hard time *not* wearing it for a few days. My crew mates on Totem may be seeing a lot of this medal, in fact. I’d apologize, but I’m too busy reveling in the glory of my new found POCRT champion status.photo: Claire Suni
As a kid, I was a mail hound. I loved getting letters. I had pen pals all over the place, and a good chunk of my allowance went into buying fancy paper so I could write them back and get more mail in return. I still think getting mail is fun. And now that we are in a warm place again, Mom has been on a Postcard Mission.
The girls and I sat down and made a list. Some friends, some family, some school – anyone we thought might smile to get a colourful picture in their mailbox some misty, moisty morning a few weeks from now. Then off to the Tabac.
The shopkeeper stared at our stack of cards. “Vingt-cinq? You want twenty-five cards?”
“Yes. No. Stylish, I forgot someone – go grab another card. Vingt-six, s’il vous plait.”
The kids like writing postcards, but they are curiously shy about giving out any information about what they have been doing. Do they write about our visit to the aquarium? Playing on the beach? Walking through town? Eating baguette? Their favorite new cheese? Playing hide-and-seek on the dock? No. You would think the kids were spies or soldiers behind enemy lines from their reticence. Here is a typical card:
How are you? I miss you. My birthday is in six days! Write soon.
Well, in all fairness, she did mention the one bit of news she cared about.Mom, no one wants a postcard talking about our daily beach visits.
Next job: the post office. We had scrolled off a quick ten cards in the park, so we thought we would buy stamps on the way home.
For you North Americans, a post office isn’t always just a post office. In many countries, the post office is also a bank, mobile phone shop, wi-fi provider, passport photo taker and bill payment center. It is a lot of things to a lot of people. So I wasn’t surprised when we pushed open the door and entered a huge hall with two dozen kiosks and a “take a number” machine.
Stylish – who has an instinct for these things – shot a finger out and pressed the button. “Ohh!” groaned her sister, “I wanted to do that!” A slip of paper whirred out. We were about fifteenth in line. Not bad. The girls roamed around looking at the display cases, our number was called, we bought our stamps, done. Easy peasy.
Yesterday morning I left Erik having a coffee while the girls played with their friends on the dock. “I’ll just pop over to the post office and mail the rest of these,” I said. I arrived, took my number, and looked up at the screen. Ticket 338 – Guichet 05. I checked the number in my hand: 410. Hmm.
No problem – I’ve done this before. People inevitably get tired of waiting and, rather than toss their number in the trash, they leave it on the number machine. I quickly traded down to 395. Yes. perfectly reasonable. So I propped up an empty bit of wall.
I renewed my passport back in the spring. The line was shorter than this. The hall was swarming with people. After twenty minutes I managed to snag a seat near Guichet 3. I played with the baby next to me and waited. I read all of the signs and practiced my French and waited. I wondered why I had broken my cardinal rule of: “Always take a book,” and waited.
My ticket had a date stamp of 10:23. At 11:08, my number came up. I hurried over to Guichet 11.
“Good morning. I’d like to mail some postcards; I need sixteen international stamps.”
The woman shook her head and said something in rapid French.
I frowned. That couldn’t be right. “I’m sorry, I don’t speak French very well. Could you please repeat that?”
“It is Tuesday. You shouldn’t have a ticket. You have to go to Special No-Ticket Guichet 14 to buy stamps today.” Her look told me that everyone in the universe knew this except me.
“Could I buy stamps from you?” Like I did last time? I thought.
“No. Guichet 14.”
Rats. Caught by Special No-Ticket Stamp Guichet Tuesday. I walked the ten paces to Guichet 14. There was one man ahead of me. I had my stamps and was back on the street in less than three minutes.
And as I laughed my way down the street, I remembered: there is always a rule you don’t know.I’ll just fly those cards home on my kite.
Written by Ben Ellison on Sep 9, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
I was blown away, partially due to the timing. Just after writing about how apps can make fascinating historical cartography easily accessible, I learned about a fascinating advance in 21st century mapping. I’d guess that most every Panbo reader has marveled at the seamless panoramic photography found in Google Street Maps; well, now it’s possible to use very similar technology to tour inside a ship, and the vessel Google chose for the first demonstration is a corker…
You might stumble on the “Schmidt Ocean Falkor Ship” while wandering the San Francisco waterfront in Google Maps — especially if you put a single ‘*’ in the search bar to show all points of interest — but here’s an easy link to the map screen above. Note the “See Inside” choice right next to the “Street View”; “inside” is a slight misnomer as the first click will take you to the R/V Falkor’s masthead, where you can check out the harbor, the deck layout, and even the antenna installs. While you cannot pan, zoom or click yourself to other levels of the vessel, that’s what the thumbnail images at the bottom of the inset do. In the image I had just selected the science control room (dazzling!), from which I could explore all over that deck…
It’s hard to overstate how thoroughly the vessel was photographed. I wandered around for a long time and I’m pretty sure that I still haven’t found all of what I’m told are over 300 panoramic sites (like the X seen on the floor of the engineer’s squared-away shop above) on nine levels. The resolution is so good that you can sometimes read what’s on the many bulletin and whiteboards the various crews use. Note that you can often click right through closed doors, and that it’s very helpful to download the Falkor’s deck plans here, where you’ll also find the ship’s specifications and equipment lists.
Note, too, that you can save a link in Google Maps that will take anyone to the exact “See Inside” photo view you select. So, say, a (goo.gl shortened) link like http://goo.gl/kccwz0 can lead right to Falkor’s impressive and possibly critical coffee machines. Please show us what you find particularly interesting on this very tricked-out research vessel, and extra point if you can find the purported “staff Easter eggs” somewhere in all the imagery. (Incidentally, a big thanks to occasional Panbo commenter Kurt Schwehr, who is now a member of the Google Ocean team.)
I got a particular kick out of the helipad views because they include several glimpses of America’s Cup 34 contender Oracle, which I’ll see racing this Thursday (soooo excited). That’s because the photo session took place in late July during one of Falkor’s infrequent dock visits. She’s now off Vancouver Island (status page here), but I’m told that Google Maps can’t move her “See Inside” icon along her track. While I suppose that nuance might be possible when and if satellite AIS coverage becomes public information, I’ll be happy just to see more interesting boats available for virtual tours, which is darn possible.
Now please don’t worry about a Google photography crew suddenly showing up on your boat, though that’s been some folks’ first thought when I’ve yakked about my Falkor tour. Actually, the vessel photo project is simply an extension of a program called Google Maps Business Photos, in which a company can hire a Google-approved photographer to take the panoramas and do the processing needed before they’re added to the business’s map icon as a “See Inside” choice. Fortunately, it doesn’t require a big custom camera, like those seen on Street View cars or even the relatively new backpack Trekker (which can now be borrowed if you’re worthy). If you can find the R/V Falkor’s gym mirror (above),you can see the conventional 35mm camera that made all the panoramas, and here’s a great PetaPixel explanation of how it’s done.
So, yes, apparently you can have your yacht photographed and added to Google Street View, which already includes some 20 petabytes of imagery. Brokers might particularly appreciate having Google host such detailed panoramas with their free fast servers — they can also be embedded on your own site — but it would be great to show off Gizmo this way, too. (In fact, I hereby volunteer my lovely boat to any Google “trusted” photographer looking for an interesting portfolio project and a little marketing via Panbo’s About page ;-)
It took me awhile to realize why the R/V Falkor is the first Googlized ship, but then it made so much sense. Google President Eric Schmidt and his wife Wendy founded the Schmidt Ocean Institute with the vision of advancing our collective ocean knowledge “through technological advancement, intelligent observation, and open sharing of information.” Apparently, a science team with a good project can use the R/V Falkor for free as long as they’re willing to share their data. That seems like a good thing for all, including laymen like me who like, say, seeing Falkor’s recent multi-beam mapping of the crater associated with what’s known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event (below). After touring this state-of-the-art research vessel, you, too, may want to spend time browsing Falkor’s cruising logs and expedition map/blog. (Right this moment, for instance, they’re live streaming a deep water ROV.) These days we don’t often see the incredible craftsmanship that distinguishes a lot of historical maps, but there sure is a lot of incredible cartography going on.
This methinks is the denouement of a Cheech and Chong movie that never got made. The facts, predictably, are a bit hazy. The ship, M/V Gold Star, owned by some Syrian guy, flagged in Tanzania, had nine crew on board. They allegedly set fire to something on board the ship Friday night when they were 30 miles north of Malta. The cargo, maybe? Then they jumped overboard.
Italian law enforcement vessels just happened to be in the area at the time. The Armed Forces of Malta also appeared on the scene. Regrettably, the fire was extinguished sometime Saturday.
The crew was saved, but were also arrested. The Italians say the cargo was hash oil, 30 tons of it. Maltese journalists claim it was worth 300 million euros.
I’m pretty sure this really happened. You can even watch a video:
Maybe someone who happened to be sailing past downwind of the inferno can enlighten us further?
Wait… I think I posted the wrong viddy:
Mark Edwards cruises the yacht Relapse with his family- the Young design featured in the last post. He’s on limited internet access cruising in Indonesia, but had some thoughts to share in response to the questions and misconceptions about the suitability of Relapse for cruising.
I’d like to address the main comments from your readers about our yacht, RELAPSE.
A little bit of history first. I built the boat on two principals: KISS (keep it simple), and KIC (keep it cheap). The boat is composite E glass with very little carbon, and engineered to NZ survey standards- about 2.5 times ABS scantlings. The boat was designed as a race boat way back in 1989 (yes, ’89, a boat well ahead of her time). But alas, she wasn’t built until Jim Young sold me the plans in 2006 saying it would make a great performance cruising boat for today. Who could argue with the man’s pedigree, having helped many young NZ designers over the years including Bruce Farr and Greg Elliott on their career paths.
The main comments were about the size of the transom (directional stability in a following sea), immersing the bow, the twin rudders, seaworthiness and 9 foot draught. They are all directly related to one another.
The rudders are extremely large at 1.8 m deep and 500 fore and aft, set at an angle of approximately 22 degrees off vertical at about 1.5 metres off the centre line. As the boat heels, the rudders pick up efficiency and the leeward one is deeply buried in the water with no ventilation to stall it out. Therefore as you start to load it up it works more efficiently, not less, as would be the case with a conventional single rudder. The helm is very light so the auto pilot has very little load- we use B&G, the same one that is on the open 60s. The steering wheels and rudders are set up as independent units on each side, linked with a bar. If any part breaks you can just step across the cockpit and use the other wheel – a useful redundancy! It’s a bit more drag for a heap of control, and on a cruising boat- drag, who cares?
Note: I don’t think it would be anywhere near as good a boat with a single rudder. The boat works as a complete package.
Relapse doesn’t have a fine waterline, and the flare / volume in the bow on deck is huge. It is not an upwind boat with a narrow foredeck and waterline, it is a reaching running boat, the flare holding the bow up as it heels or is lifted by the sea. Running downwind we have never buried the bow, even at the bottom of a sea swell in 60 knots of wind. We have never broached the boat, even when running an unbalanced sail plan, with wind and sea at 135 degrees (supposedly a big assed boat’s worse point of sail) and just a triple reefed main in 45 knots.
Nine foot draught? Well you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs there are some places you can’t go, but that’s a price I’m happy to pay. In two and a half years of cruising we can count on one hand the times it has prevented us from going somewhere.
Note: put a lifting keel in, and you could draw 1.8 m – problem solved, but you have to build an interior round it.
To summarize: The boat is easy to sail, goes exceptionally well in light winds, and does high averages in the trades with the transition to planing being very smooth. With the boat not doing the traditional fast slow in the wave peaks and troughs.
A fast passage is a good passage especially to or from NZ. The crew arrives relatively fresh and has not had to weather the mandatory one or two gales a slower boat will in all likelihood encounter.
99% of the time it’s the crew that limit the seaworthiness of the boat not the design or type of boat.
from the yacht RELAPSE-
Mark, Catherine, Ash and Cameron
PS We have never had water in the cockpit.
One other point I want to call on here that mark touches on in the beginning is that this boat was built partly on the basis of KIC: Keep It Cheap. A number of comments here and on our Facebook page suggested that you had to win the lottery or have a big bank account to have a boat like this. It’s just not true. Granted, we can’t all have the skills that Mark does to built it yourself. But even if you don’t, consider this: the hardware is almost entirely second hand- gear retired from racing boats. So are the sails, and even the mast- taken from a TP52 rig. The engine is a $1500 truck engine much as it might be easy to make the assumption- the way Mark did it, this was not a high budget boat out of reach for most cruisers.
Thoughtful comments appreciated.
Greetings! The news release below if of particular interest to me because one of the new owners of the Annapolis Boat Show is Mary Ewenson, my publisher at SpinSheet. I also worked with Mary a bit last year on the DelMarVa rally (and participated with my dad on Sojourner). Mary is awesome, and this should be a great opportunity. Interesting news if you’re an Annapolitan too.
Annapolis, Maryland (September. 6, 2013) —- Paul Jacobs, General Manager of the Annapolis Boat Shows, has announced that he and a team of four local business owners have a contract to purchase the Boat Shows from C. Edward Hartman II.
Jacobs says, “I’ve been with the Shows for eight years and am continually impressed by what a terrific organization Ed has built. I am grateful to Ed for giving us this opportunity and trusting us to carry on the tradition of the Shows.
Jacobs will continue in his role as General Manager and has pulled together a team of local maritime professionals with a passion for the industry, a respect for the Boat Shows, and a love for the City of Annapolis. The four other members of the team include Sheila Jones, who has been with the Shows for fifteen years and currently serves as Show Manager. Sheila will continue on in her position, as will the entire management team and permanent staff. Peter Trogdon, owner of Weems and Plath, an international marine industry business based in Eastport with a long history of exhibiting at the Shows, brings an international perspective. Bob Crain has worked the shows since he was a teenager. His company, Applied Lighting, is literally responsible for bringing light (and electricity) to the Shows. Mary Ewenson is owner of SpinSheet and PropTalk Magazines and co-owner of PortBook, the publications for boating on the Chesapeake Bay. The whole of this team will be exponentially greater than its parts.
Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen is extremely enthusiastic about these new developments. “The Annapolis Boat Shows have been an integral part of Annapolis’ maritime economy and its identity as a town,” Mayor Cohen said. ”The new ownership team members are local, accomplished, and well respected throughout our community.”
“Over the coming months I look forward to working collaboratively with the new owners to enhance the vitality of our town’s crown jewel, City Dock, while preserving the viability of the Boat Shows. I am confident the new ownership team will carry on the Boat Shows’ commitment to our community and enjoy a mutually supportive partnership with the City for years to come.”
The Annapolis Boat Shows not only contribute $50 million dollars annually to the local economy they also help to ensure the success of many not-for-profits in the community. In the past year alone, they’ve supported dozens of local charities, elementary schools and churches, and donated the use of the barge for the fireworks. The new ownership is committed to continuing and expanding that reach in the community.
Trogdon says, “We’re excited about the opportunity to bring more marine companies to Annapolis and encourage them to open operations here. We plan to connect them with the Annapolis Economic Development Corporation, so we can all work together to stimulate the economy and build the marine industry. After all, Annapolis is the Sailing Capital of the United States. We offer the best sailing vacations, the best place to work on boats, and the best place to buy a boat. I can’t think of a better way to support these efforts than through the Annapolis Boat Shows.”
The Annapolis Boat Shows have a time-honored tradition of being run by local boaters for boaters from around the world. The Shows are recognized by the international boating community as one of the most important events of the year. The Powerboat Show was the first in-water show of its kind, and the Sailboat Show is the largest sailboat show in the world. The Shows put Annapolis on the map in the boating community. The economic and community impacts of the Shows are significant, and the new owners are looking forward to continuing to put Annapolis and the Annapolis maritime community first. Visit the 2013 Shows and see what it’s all about!
For more information visit usboat.com, or contact Paul Jacobs (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 410-268-8828.
With the America’s Cup fizzling (though Saturday could be a new day), the Extreme Sailing Series is consistently delivering good sailing and good story lines. I particularly enjoyed this look inside the friendship–and rivalry–between Leigh McMillan and Morgan Larson:
McMillan won the most recent match-up, by the way.
One other note: You know how high speed multihull racing organizers like to say it is about the sailing and not the Crash & Burn? Well….
Another multihull pioneer bites the dust. Unfortunately, I just received an e-mail this morning from Hanneke Boon, Jim Wharram’s design partner, regarding the passing of another of Jim’s partners, Ruth Wharram, who crossed the Atlantic and back with Jim and Jutta Schultze-Rohnhof (see photo up top) back in 1955-58 on the catamarans Tangaroa and Rongo. She always played an integral role in the development of Wharram’s career and business and was an accomplished ocean sailor.
Wharram, in his classic memoir of his early voyages, Two Girls Two Catamarans, described Ruth as a very important influence right from page one:
Woman-wise I had to learn too. There was a series of love affairs before I appreciated to the full the old saying: “A man needs nourishment, not punishment.”
I began to get nourishment from the moment I met Ruth, a German girl mountaineering in the Lake District. She stood wholeheartedly behind my dream-world. She came from a wealthy German family, but had seen or heard the effect of two world wars on the family security. She knew the only real security in life is the security of inner contentment and happiness.
Ruth and James in their younger days
Ruth at the helm of the Pahi 63 Spirit of Gaia
Here is Hanneke’s announcement in full:
Ruth Wharram has gone to join the navigators in the sky
I’m very sad to announce that Ruth Wharram (née Merseburger) has departed this life in the early morning of 4th September, at the age of 92, at home in Devoran. Her health had been failing over the last two years after a stroke the day after a fantastic 90th Birthday party.
Ruth has been a great strength in our lives; ever since she met James Wharram in 1951 she has guided and supported him in his life’s efforts. I first met Ruth in 1967 and have shared my life with James and her since 1973. She has been a great friend to me and close ally in all the work, travelling and sailing we have done together.
She never had children herself, but during her life she has been ‘mother’ to Jutta’s son Hannes and ‘grandmother’ to my son Jamie.
She was a great ocean sailor, sailing with James and Jutta on their pioneering catamaran voyages across the Atlantic in the 1950s, then more Atlantic crossings with Tehini, and on Spirit of Gaia, when she was already in her 70s, she voyaged half way round the world. Other friends invited her to join them on their boats, mostly Wharram catamarans, but also other boats, even a monohull. Thus she crossed the Tasman Sea and made more Atlantic crossings. She was a skilled navigator, managing to find her way across the Atlantic on their first voyage with just a pocket watch and valve radio. Later she was an expert at navigating by sextant in the days before GPS. Besides this she was also an eager photographer, doing her own darkroom work and she filmed the building of Tehini on a hand-wound Bolex cine-camera.
She wrote articles about her sailing ventures, which inspired others to try the sailing life. As a pioneer woman ocean sailor and navigator she was an inspiration to many other woman sailors that followed in her wake.
Since 1980 she ran the Wharram office, communicating with customers all round the world, often writing letters late into the night. The big family of Wharram catamaran owners and sailors was her world; she was ‘mother’ to them all. Whilst writing at her desk she would be listening to classical music on Radio 3.
She only slowed down in this work in her mid 80s, when two knee replacements and a broken thigh made her no longer able to travel easily, but she then learned to use a computer and she started to keep in touch with her friends by email, she was also able to follow James and myself on our Lapita Voyage via Internet. This unfortunately came to an end by a stroke at the age of 90, which deprived her of the ability to read and affected her memory.
She had a second stroke last May and after spending 2 months in hospital she was desperate to come home. She has been at peace here and has said her farewells to all her close friends.
We all loved her dearly and will never forget her.
Ruth’s funeral will be on Friday 13th – a propitious date in the pagan calendar, dedicated to the goddess.
Since we arrived at anchor, the girls have lived outside. They have swung from the halyards and splashed noisily in the water. They eat on deck, read on deck, and generally spent every moment they can in the open air.
Why? Not because we are finally somewhere warm(ish). Not to escape Dad pulling up the floorboards (which only happened twice.) No. Their loud, obvious presence was a beacon, a signal fire: We’re Here. Come Play With Us.
Finally, that call was answered. A dinghy putted over containing rare treasure: three girls aged nine, seven and five. (Plus their parents, but since when do they count?) The girls had seen the swinging display, and insisted on immediate delivery to our boat. The family was on their way to run some errands, but the girls swarmed Papillon for long enough to become fast friends.
One of the major challenges of cruising with kids is finding friends their own age – and keeping them around. Some days I feel as though there are only a couple of dozen “kid boats” spread around the world, and we’ve always just missed the last one. So when we find another compatible family, everyone breathes a sigh of relief.
For the rest of the day – like clockwork – Indy pestered. “Is it time to go to their boat? We should call them. I think we should go to their boat now.”
“Honey,” I said, “they had things to do. We’ll go by tomorrow.”
Little did I know that a similar drama was playing out two hundred meters away. The other girls were watching our boat through binoculars, hoping Indy and Stylish were going to come by. But, as usual, all of the parents in this play were too dumb to do what the kids wanted.
The next morning, the girls and I stopped by on our way to the grocery store. I was hoping to make a date for later in the afternoon, once school and chores were complete. But their new friends swooped Indy and Stylish off the dinghy so quickly that I was left clutching the gunwales and trying to get my balance.
Today, they all ran off to the beach. I managed to get in a morning of school first, but I could see that their minds were already on their schemes for the day. As they should be. Friends are precious, especially when they sail away so soon. I hope they enjoy these days.
Because Indy and Stylish will be stuck with their dumb parents again soon enough.
Planning to homeschool was stressful. The early months of homeschooling were, too. I wish I could have let go of the anxiety I felt. Aside from the pressure leading up to our departure (did I have the right materials on board? Was this even going to work?). It was pretty intense the whole first year if I’m going to be honest with myself.
To be clear, this was my burden. The kids did not find it stressful to be taken out of their mainstream school path. But reflecting on the process as a parent, how can we be easier on ourselves? It’s natural to wonder if we are we doing the right thing, of course, and while we are all responsible for guiding their development, knowing their education in our hands is a daunting responsibility. It’s one felt especially keenly as a homeschooler.
Here’s what I wish I had known when we started homeschooling.
1. You may not get it right the first time
Going cruising is a massive lifestyle transition. The homeschooling path that felt right to you during planning may not necessarily be a fit with your life once you depart. You may find that the mode you intend to follow doesn’t work with a child. That’s OK: it is not a failure to stop and change the course you’re on. We seem to evolve what we’re doing all the time, but I believe that this is a natural flow for anyway. It’s no failure to acknowledge you need to make a change, even a big one.
Our friends on s/v Don Quixote started off with Calvert before they had even moved aboard (which, by the way, I think is brilliant- I wish we could have gotten away from the traditional system before departure, to smooth those learning curves). It turns out that Calvert was not a fit for their family, a really nice thing to work out so they could more readily seek a path that worked before they were out of the country, and materials harder to source.
2. Your child may not like homeschooling
It is almost inevitable that you or your children will compare your new learning path with the one you left behind. For children experiencing sadness at saying goodbye to a loved teacher or friends for a cruising adventure, this might be especially difficult. We actually didn’t have this problem, but I’ve heard it repeated from other boats. Possibly it was easier for us because we left with relatively young children. Possibly it is because our guiding principle is to keep learning fun.
A kid who says they don’t like homeschooling is reacting to a symptom. Homeschooling is almost certainly not the real problem: something else is. Help them separate those feelings, and talking with them to understand the root of their feelings so you can made any adjustments you need so that homeschooling works for everyone. A social kid may miss being in a large classroom, an athletic kid may miss a soccer team, another may miss a favorite reading nook at the library. Find out what the root of the problem is and how to help them become happier learners where you are.
3. It helps to have a tribe
If we were back in our land based community, we would surely have been part of at least one group of other non-traditional learning families. Just because we’re mobile doesn’t mean that isn’t possible. Kid boats have a way of being drawn together, and we make the most of that however we can. It’s a great chance to do group activities that we can’t always do on our own, and opens the door to more learning by sharing experiences and discussing them together. Older kids can mentor younger ones, which offers great benefits for both.
In La Cruz, Mexico, tween girls from two different boats wrote the script for a production of Harry Potter- staged in the marina amphitheater with all parts played by cruising kids. It was brilliant and a great experience for all. In Barra de Navidad, we learned about bats inside the ruins of a hotel along the lagoon, and planned a Bat Day that involved some pre-learning and then a visit to the “bat caves.” Everyone brought information about bats to the table to share. We took a dinghy trip to explore the place, making observations and taking photos. Afterward, we lined up what we saw with what we had read and discussed to better understand bats. Doing it with a pack of kids made it different and fun from “everyday” learning. It’s the kind of thing you’d organize with your homeschooling group at home, but can just as readily organize in our floating community.
4. You won’t be perfect. Deal with it.
It is perfectly normal for it to take some time for you to gain confidence in how you’re homeschooling. Trying to let go of the stress around that, if you can, will make it easier on everyone. Be willing to let go of things you thought were essentials and try something new. Talk to other families around you and learn from their experience. As much as the kids loved doing projects like the Bat Day with other kids, it was helpful for me to talk to other parents about what they were doing, what was and wasn’t working. We all have hurdles and can help each other through them. Ultimately, there are good days and bad days: days I feel like we nailed the whole learning thing, and days I feel like a failure and want to give up. It took time and experience for me to know when I needed to get out of my head and realize that there is no perfect, and what we are doing as a family is amazing.
5. It all works out
About two months in, I was sitting on a beach in San Diego with my friend Annie. An experienced cruising mom, she talked me through my worries, and promised me it would be OK. That’s not to say that you can just will it to be OK, but that it really helps if you can just relax a little. If only I could have internalized her advice back then! It took me months. With the perspective of time, I realize this anxiety is common. It’s just hard to pop up the periscope and recognize this is normal when you’re living it every day.
I don’t mean to be flippant by saying it all works out as if that was just going to easily and organically happen, but if you are worried, and you are still reading this, then you are probably the kind parent who will be working at making this journey successful and possibly shouldn’t worry quite so much.
Whatever path you choose, opportunities for learning are a natural part of every day that we’re out here as a family. The unofficial holiday, Learn Nothing Day, is a standing joke in the unschooling community. Do you know how hard it is to go for a day without learning anything? Now imagine yourself actively looking for opportunities to learn from inspirations in the world around you. Then put yourself in a lifestyle that changes the language, geology, culture, scenery, history, etc. on a regular basis. The learning opportunities are tremendous, and really, it is all in a flow.
Mau Mauing the Defender is one of the great traditions of America’s Cup competition. The Kiwi team and the Kiwi press have left no dirt unturned as we approach the 34th match. Meanwhile . . .
© Oracle Team USA/Guilain Grenier
It would seem that Oracle Team USA has brought some grief upon itself, but I remain incredulous and confused and, frankly, clueless regarding the whole kingpostgate mess and no less so regarding the jury ruling that ensued, and until the next shoe drops—it’s out there, up there, somewhere—I’ve moved on.
The skippers’ press conference on Thursday, anticipating racing on Saturday, was an interesting case in interesting times. I got the feeling that, whatever really went on in the past, what’s going on now is, the defending team has taken a hit, picked itself up, tightened up in ways that perhaps they couldn’t have otherwise, and Jessie James Spithill is ready to step out onto Main Street. Some of the words from Oracle’s skipper were predictable, if not coached, but Jimmy was shooting from the hip when he said, “We’ve had our backs against the wall before, but something’s clicked. I’ve never seen the guys this hungry.
“We can win the Cup.
“That’s our plan.”
Oops. I think somebody made them mad.
Coulda been our friend Grumpy. Coulda been ISAF moving in the shadows. Coulda been anything that came between them and the greatest fan base in sports that should have been theirs to share along with the Giants and Niners and is perhaps just waiting to emerge from the fog.
You don’t have to stop believing in this: Nobody knows what’s going to happen on Saturday, Race One, the 34th match for America’s Cup. The wing trimmer for Team New Zealand is an Aussie, Glenn Ashby, who allowed as how, “The development of both boats has come to the point of the spear. They’ve come at it from one [design] direction, and we’ve come at it from the other, and we don’t know if we’ll be faster, and I don’t think they know.”
Or as Oracle wing designer Tom Speer put it a few days ago, “The boats are close enough that we’re just going to have to have some races.”
The wing trimmer is a key player on each eleven-man crew and contributes much more than 1/11th to the outcome. He and the helmsman are “flying” the boat together, and they have to be as keen, coordinated and confident in each other as acrobats on a high wire. The presence of Team New Zealand’s wing trimmer, and the absence of Oracle’s former wing trimmer—Dirk de Ridder was booted from the regatta by the ruling of the International Jury—highlighted the hit on the Oracle team. Tactician John Kostecki was there instead, and the fact that de Ridder is JK’s brother in law highlighted how personal that hit really was. Pushed on that point, Kostecki said, “The best thing we can do for Dirk is go out and win the America’s Cup.”
Thursday marked the 100th sailing day in an AC72 for Emirates Team New Zealand. “A milestone,” skipper Dean Barker called it, and there’s a man with pressure coming at him from all sides. It’s common wisdom that if ETNZ can’t take the Cup this time, the team as we know it is done for. The Kiwi government won’t pony up another $30 million for seed money, and public passions will cool. Barker was handed his role in 2000 by Russell Coutts, who was winning his defense for New Zealand in straight races and invited Barker to steer the final race. Barker was at the helm in 2003 for the meltdown and national embarrassment that lost the Cup to Coutts and Alinghi, and he was at the helm again in 2007 for a credible and creditable effort against Alinghi, albeit an effort that simply was not going to win. He’s been bloodied. He’s felt all eyes upon him before. But not quite like this.
And can we please stop wringing our hands over the boats?
We won’t see these boats again, but don’t for one minute think that the future will look like the past. This was the past, US49 and US61 going at in practice ahead of Tom Blackaller’s foray to Australia . . .
Our Dean Barker, the one-time car racer who now gets his kicks on the water, declared his take on the boats of 2013: “Foiling is one of the coolest advancements in going to multihulls. Foils are the future.” His wing trimmer, Ashby, said, “We’ve got the world’s two most technologically advanced sailing machines coming at each other on one starting line. If that’s not cool, what is?”
In recent weeks, both boats have started foiling upwind, part of the time. They’re still on a development slope, but time is running out. “I think we’re just scratching the surface,” Spithill said. “If we had another six months, I wouldn’t be surprised to see fifty knots.”
SPITHILL VS BARKER
In the Louis Vuitton finals of 2007 it was Spithill at the helm of Luna Rossa versus Barker at the helm of Team New Zealand. Barker got the best of that.
Here, as challenger, Barker got to choose his entry for Race One. “Port.”
As defender, Spithill got to choose his entry for Race Two. “Port.”
How ’bout dat?
And hey, we’re looking toward a heat wave. We could have wind in the teens in the Golden Gate wind slot (mild by community standards) and TWO races completed. It could happen. Start times 1:15 and 2:15.
Oracle, fined two races by the jury, has to win eleven races. New Zealand has to win nine.
Your grandchildren will read about it. We get to see it.
MEANWHILE, OH DAMN
I like to look at boats. I even like to look at models of boats, and I cannot ignore the untimely passing of the great model maker, Ken Gardiner. His work set a standard, and he’s left a legacy that embraces both Californias. Almost daily, I walk hallways where I see his hand. Thank you, Kenny.
I have a few distant memories of Bustins Island from when we used to visit my father’s sister Cynthia and her family there. I remember Archie Ross, a larger-than-life character who used to run the little ferry boat that trundles back and forth between Bustins and nearby South Freeport. I remember walking in my bare feet from my aunt’s cottage down a dirt trail to a little store where we bought ice cream in Dixie Cups that we ate with wooden spoons. This memory in particular still stands out in my mind as an epiphany of juvenile summer bliss.
I got to wallow in the residue of that epiphany for a while this past Labor Day weekend, as Clare, Lucy, and I sailed up to Bustins from Portland on Lunacy to call on my cousin Laura, my aunt Cynthia’s youngest daughter, who still spends a lot of time on the island, in the very same cottage we used to hang in way back when.
The cottage in question, which is right on the shore at the southern end of the island. This was the first time I’d visited in nearly 50 years
View from the porch. That’s Lunacy on the right. The two other boats on the left belong to the nice fellow in the cottage next door, who was impressed by Lunacy‘s industrial-strength appearance
Blast from the past. From left to right: my younger brother Peter, me, cousin Laura, aunt Cynthia
Cousin Laura all grown up, blasting around in her skiff
Islands like Bustins aren’t that unusual on the Maine coast. Filled with nothing but summer cottages (on Bustins, for example, there are about 130 of them), these islands are administered by collective associations and normally have very few or no year-round residents. Some of these summer communities, as on Bustins, have been active for over 100 years, and in many cases cottages have been passed down through multiple generations of families.
It may not be your cup of tea if your idea of a summer island involves a lot of seclusion and isolation. But if you like the idea of being part of a big extended vacation tribe, with lots of kids running around, it works very well. In our case, daughter Lucy, now age 8, found age-appropriate playmates within 30 seconds of stepping ashore. After a great dinner of boiled lobster, we joined up with Lucy’s new friends and lots of other families with kids at the community center and engaged in square-dancing. Your humble narrator distinguished himself, but only because he has no shame and does not mind embarrassing himself in public.
Fire on any island is a serious threat. The Bustins Island Fire Department (BIFD) has established many stations like this along the trails that tie the community together
Lucy power-lounging aboard Lunacy, with Bustins in the background
The oldest cottage on the island, which originally was a farmhouse
The most distinctive cottage on the island isn’t actually on the island, but on a small rock islet just off the east shore. It’s the one labelled “HOUSE” on the chart above
Laura swam out to the boat in the morning with some watermelon for our breakfast
Many of these “cottage islands,” Bustins among them, are not exclusive and visitors are welcome to come ashore and stroll around, even if they don’t have cousins to call on. To visit Bustins, it’s easiest to pick up an empty mooring somewhere on the southeast shore and then take a dinghy in to the “town dock,” which is just west of the octagonal house on the rock. It’s also possible to anchor if the moorings are full.
The only bad news is that the store selling ice cream has long since closed.
We spent Saturday night and most of the day Sunday at Bustins, then retreated to the north end of Great Chebeague Island, where we had dinner at the Chebeague Island Inn. Next morning when we woke it was pissing down rain and this “lobster yacht” was moored next to us.
These are becoming increasingly common on the coast, and this is perhaps the most extreme example I’ve seen yet. It’s got everything needed for fishing, including a permit number, a davit block, and a hydraulic winch by the wheel, but it’s all punked out for luxury cruising and obviously has never been used to haul a single trap.
Can someone please explain this to me? Why don’t the real lobstermen just sink these things on sight???
Written by Ben Ellison on Sep 5, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
I was testing the new marine navigation app Skipper when I realized that historical topos were among the many “base maps” it can display, along with regular NOAA raster charts. Skipper has some interesting features (to be covered soon), but I’ve been waiting a long time for this historical angle. Haven’t marine electronics and software become so powerful that they can help us with more than just the “work” of operating a boat? As in my hopeful 2005 comment that, “One day PC/plotter memory will be so abundant that historical charts will be included in navigation packages just for the fun of it!” Of course, I didn’t realize then that tablet computers with wireless broadband Internet connections would come along, and aren’t they dandy for accessing the ever growing cloud of cartography?
While it’s true that Skipper’s historical topo maps could be higher resolution and also better geo-registered (I was at Gizmo’s float when I took the screenshot above, not on shore), but isn’t it interesting that Curtis Island was once called Negro Island (and worse)? Heck, I once wrote a magazine feature about how apt cruising is for enjoying history and even included a sidebar about finding antique maps online (PDF of Hudson River Melting Pot here). Skipper, incidentally, is getting its historical topos from the interesting site CalTopo (explanatory blog here), but unfortunately the online CalTopo collection only includes a small fraction of what you can find in the UNH Library New England & New York Collection, not to mention the huge (though hard to search) USGS collection. But wouldn’t it be neat if Skipper or some other app included easy access to NOAA’s Historical Map & Chart Collection, now at over 35,000 scans? I found this site even easier to use, yet much richer in content than during my last visit. I got a kick, for instance, out of the 1854 “Reconnaissance of Eastern Part of Eggemoggin Reach, Maine” clipped above. It’s not a chart per se, but rather a worksheet used to make charts and also contemplate a possible lighthouse (that wasn’t built). You can easily picture the hydrography team rowing careful courses and taking soundings, while other crews climbed those sharp island peaks to do their “Triangulation” and “Astronomical observations”…
Now look at how well this area was charted by 1885 (click on image to see at the full resolution NOAA offers). I drove Gizmo through somewhat tricky Naskeag Harbor in July and could probably have used this chart (though the use of fathoms for deep water soundings and feet for the shaded shallow areas is a little confusing). Notice how much more topography and vegetation detail there is than in modern charts. How did cartographers pull this off before GPS and aerial photography, let alone before high resolution satellite photo maps?
I’ve rhapsodized about old time cartography skills before, but maybe someone knows of a book or other source that explains in detail how these charts were made (besides for the excellent overview in Nigel Calder’s How to Read a Nautical Chart)? And I’m pleased to report that the developer of Skipper likes the idea of offering historical charts, too, though I suspect it might first take an enthusiastic intermediary like CalTopo to aggregate NOAA’s collection into large area layers. There’s so much catographic activity online that I’m hopeful, and I further hope that the historical charts aren’t cropped, so we’ll still be able to check out details like those shown above.
In the meantime, I’ll note that the Skipper app,which is a sibling of the Gaia GPS mapping apps, offers all sorts of base maps and they can all be downloaded for use when you’re not online. Plus, you can overlay any base map with the NOAA chart at whatever transparency you want, as I’ve done with the Global Imagery sat photo map. It’s not as effective as Nobeltec TimeZero’s Photo Fusion, but then again Skipper’s $12/year subscription is a smaller investment. There’s also an Android Skipper on the way, and you can test drive the current iOS version for a dollar.
Finally, in the fascinating historical cartography category, do you know about the Library of Congress Panoramic Map Collection? If you’ve ever spent time in Wiscasset, Maine, you’ll know that many buildings are still recognizable from the remarkably detailed view seen in part below. Apparently, panoramics like this were once quite a craze in a Chamber of Commerce sort of way, and teams of crack cartographers went from town to town creating them. Again, I’d love to know more detail about how the heck they did it, and wouldn’t it be neat if you could easily access these public domain images as you cruised the coast?
In our home waters of Puget Sound, traditional boats predominate. The longer we’ve been gone cruising and thought about the qualities that matter to us, the more we wonder why people don’t break out of the mold more often. A family we met on Borneo on a decidedly racy boat, Relapse, inspired the monthly cruising column which Jamie and I co-author for 48° North, a Pacific Northwest regional boating magazine; it’s copied below. In addition to the family on Relapse, the family living and traveling on the “high tech carbon rocket-ship“ Anasazi Girl inspire us as well. Any others out there?
RELAPSE into cruising: Mark’s interpretation of a cruising boat
A cute puppy on the dock was too much for our daughter Siobhan, now nine years old, so she dashed off to meet said pooch. After 266 days swinging at anchor or underway, Behan and I remained sedentary enjoying sunset repose in our just cleaned cockpit at Miri Marina on the northwest coast of Borneo. Siobhan returned bubbly from the exchange and said trivially, “oh, and the owners are American.” Mere moments pass before our curiosity, and theirs, won out and we engaged in lively conversation. Madaline and Mike are pilots living in Miri for a year and in possession of not just one recently rescued puppy but the long sought after knowledge of where we can buy tortillas locally. Fantastic people! Conversation turned to our story, followed by Mike telling us that he sailed in Florida and has interest in cruising across the Pacific. “So”, he says earnestly, “what makes a good cruising boat?”
I hesitated just long enough that Mike mentioned eying a particular design, a 43’cutter rigged, full keeled boat listed for sale in Singapore. The classic approach: conservative brute. “Well…,” I hemmed, thinking how he shared the secret to procuring tortillas in Borneo. It sounded like a strong, well-made boat: excellent features, but completely lacking performance. “Speed”, I said, “is often dismissed by North American cruisers as racer’s folly, fundamentally irrelevant to safe and comfortable cruising. How wrong this is. Let me tell you about my friend Mark.”
Mark is truck driver, rigger, and boat builder from New Zealand. He’s a kiwi sailor with many miles of Pacific Ocean sailing, including a few Sydney Hobart races. We had heard about Mark and his family because they are another ‘kid boat’, described to us as the family on the racing boat. At first appearance Relapse is 50’ of pure racing machine, though oddly adorned with ratty awning, fishing poles, and a rusting (so called stainless!) BBQ grill, just like all the other cruising boats. Relapse, by traditional cruising convention, is born out of insanity with her 14’ wide transom, open for the world and Neptune to board any time they like.
Kids from Totem and Relapse were fast friends. The adults took much longer –say, 5 minutes. In true kiwi fashion Mark offered a beer to seal our friendship and we chatted away in their expansive cockpit. After awhile he asked, “aren’t you going to comment on how wet our cockpit must be? Everyone does,” he went on, “and someone will before you get off of the boat.”
Sure enough, old salty wanders by and says she must be fast, but so wet and unsafe with kiddies aboard. Mark’s wife Catherine rolls her eyes. Mark smiles at me and begins, patiently and respectfully. “This is my interpretation of a cruising boat,” he says. “I built this boat. We can easily sail 250 miles per day, as a family with kiddies; and we never ever have water boarding through the open transom because we move faster than waves.” The wide transom provides massive buoyancy. A traditional cruising boat by comparison has more weight and a narrower transom, less buoyancy; coupled with slower sailing speed, the chances of taking boarding seas are much greater on a traditional cruising boat.
A few more people join the conversation, trying to find a flaw in Mark’s approach; questions and answers flying about like birds in a squall. She can’t be strong enough, with so many stories about offshore racing boats breaking apart and keels falling off. That never happens on a cruising boat. Offshore racing boats are engineered and built with little safety margin to save weight. Relapse is engineered and built with big safety margins, just like your boat. As for the keel, it’s a torpedo shaped bulb at the end of a 9’ fin. It’s very efficient, like a racing boat, and very strong, which Mark adds they proved by accident after hitting a coral head at 7 knots. When they hauled the boat to inspect, they found only that the bulb was bent slightly and nothing else: no bulkhead movement, and not so much as a hairline fracture where the hull and keel meet –remarkable really.
During the course of the Borneo International Yacht Challenge, where we got to know Mark and Catherine, I watched Mark make his case several times. Skeptics departed more open to accepting Relapse into the cruising herd, if not in outright envy of many of her features. Two rudders offer better sailing efficiency and redundancy should one be damaged. A wide beam carried aft to the transom offers much open deck space and excellent form stability (hull shape that naturally resists rolling, much like comparing the rolliness of a popsicle stick to a pencil) and increased volume below for living and storage space. It has sailing characteristics that every sailor should envy: a helm so balanced that a six year can easily manage it, sailing a straight line without so much as a pinky on the wheel, and pointing to 35 degrees upwind –with speed. Not that cruisers go upwind much, but when people point out how inappropriate a boat like Relapse is for cruising they should consider how well a traditional cruising boat does if forced to sail upwind to escape a lee shore. Or what the pucker factor aboard is like when a stretch of ocean offers 4 day weather windows sandwiched between bad weather –and it’ll take you six days to Mark’s three. Performance matters.
I had asked Mark why he thinks so many cruisers and in particular North American sailors hold fast to a narrow view of what a cruising boat is. He answered in effect, that you (North Americans) all read about the Pardey’s approach to cruising and about how an Americas Cup boat breaks up in 10 knots of wind. The dichotomy is stark and cruising culture has matured with the idea that safety comes at the expense of speed.
Before we bought Totem I thought that transitioning from racing to cruising meant trading in running sneakers for steel toed boots. Circumnavigator Jim Jessie convinced me otherwise, saying “you want a boat tougher than you are, and one that can sail out of its own way.” Totem is no Relapse, but she has a balance of toughness and performance that serves us well. She just proved this again, while reaching along a shallow and barren stretch of the Borneo coastline at 8.5 to 9 knots in rough conditions, allowing us to reach our destination in daylight – important considering size and quantity logs floating about.
Every boat is a compromise, often selected through further compromises between money, location, and time. What matters most is that your boat makes you happy on more than first and last days of ownership. Mark’s interpretation also matters. He’s not alone in the message, but has gone well beyond what many open minded sailors think a cruising boat should be; and rightly so. Why can’t a cruising boat have the look and feel of performance and still be tougher than you are, as Jim Jessie says? It doesn’t have to mean a 9’ draft with a bulb keel, in the same way that a keel resembling a jersey barrier certainly doesn’t make the boat safer. If some old dog argued otherwise, then ask them how well they could sail off the lee shore or beat out bad weather. Tell them that there ought to be more puppies on the dock.