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 (email@example.com) 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.
Fiberglass tubes. Wow, think of all the uses. You can hold things up, or store stuff, or brace something, or just put a fishing pole in it. The tube my father and I were trying to make has an ID the same diameter as a 2″ aluminum pipe and is about three feet long. I would like to tell you what I’m going to use it for, but I can’t do that yet.
Of course you can buy fiberglass tubes, which I suppose is what most people would do. But why buy it when you can make it. Should be easy, right? Ha.
My first attempt at this was way back in Marathon, Florida, and it was a total disaster. It was hot and I put too much hardener in the polyester resin so everything started to set when I was only halfway done and I ended up with some poorly-bundled fiberglass bonded solidly onto my aluminum pipe.
Lesson 1: Go easy on the hardener, and don’t try to do this in direct sunlight on a 95-degree day.
The second attempt was a bit more thought out. I had learned the first time that the fiberglass tube can be hard to remove from the pipe so this time we took extra precautions. We started by wrapping the pipe with thick paper, allowing a little bit of a gap to keep things loose. Then we wrapped the paper in plastic wrap.
With our pole all trussed up we started laying on fiberglass:It helped to start by coating the pole with resin so that the cloth will stick. I found it easiest to support the pole at both ends and spin it in place, wrapping the cloth around I painted on resin with a brush as I went. It’s a little tricky to keep from over-saturating the cloth. The goal is transparency without getting drippy. At first I was smoothing the cloth by hand but later found it more effective to just use the brush. The last wrap
We put a few wraps of cloth around our tube and then let it gel up. If you get the resin at just the right gel time there is a point where the cloth will hold its shape but can still be cut with a utility knife. This is when I trimmed the imperfections and cut the ragged ends off of the tube.
This is also a good time to spin the tube around a bit on the pipe to make sure that it will still be able to come off. It spun ok so we let it harden and slid it off. Everything worked just fine, except that we had made the tube too big, and our pipe was a loose fit.
Lesson Two: You’ve got to be careful about getting just the right amount of slop in your fitting…
Back to the glass. Our next attempt was done in the same manner but this time we wrapped the paper tightly around the tube. When it came time to pull it off, it was stuck on quite solidly. I ended up having to cut it off with a utility knife:
Lesson Three: Don’t squeeze down on the cloth too hard when you roll it on the tube.
We decided to use it anyway. Our strategy all along was to start with just a few layers to make a sort of form and then to add the majority of the fiberglass around that. Even after cutting it off this bit of tube kept its shape so we put it back on the pipe and glassed over it with more layers.We were running low on thin fiberglass so we used some heavy bi-axial cloth that I had around. I was worried about properly wetting out the cloth as we rolled it so I started by rolling resin on the whole piece.
I rolled it up and then checked that it would still rotate on the pipe. All seemed well. Then I got distracted and didn’t check again until it was cured. This was a very bad idea. Our tube was, again, totally bonded onto the pipe, and it was three times as thick as the last one.
Lesson Three: Don’t wander off when the job is half finished.
We tried twisting it. We tried banging the pipe on the ground. We tried WD-40. We even tried filling the pipe with ice in an attempt to shrink it.
Nothing worked. Eventually we got so frustrated that we gave up and went back to the drawing board. I did a little research and found out that our problem was that fiberglass actually shrinks when it cures. Ok, technically the resin shrinks and the fiberglass does not, but in this case the end result was the same. Epoxy, apparently, works better for this sort of thing because it shrinks a lot less. But it’s three times the cost.
Lesson Four: Curing fiberglass shrinks!
But knowing that didn’t solve our problem. What did was re-examining our original tube and deciding that it would actually work just fine. We went back over it with a few more layers and ended up with a very strong fiberglass tube, just right for our purposes:
All we had left to do was to remove our big mistake from the pipe. That proved to be quite a chore!
In 2010, the same year that Oracle Racing won the America’s Cup, San Francisco had a thrilling run-up to the Giants’ win at the World Series, and more than once I heard comments about how great it felt to take that ride without Barry Bonds and all the negative chatter that had chased Bonds’ steroid-use allegations during the years when he was with the team. We loved our boys of October.
Well, so much for the frabjous joy that I felt when the Cup came to San Francisco. Today’s ruling by the International Jury—sidelining some of the top sailors in the game for what it cites as gross misconduct violations, and fining Oracle Team USA two points in the first-to-win-nine match that starts Saturday—is a low point in a long slide.
In the world of coulda shoulda, this coulda shoulda.
There’s been a vast wastage of good will. I walk around the America’s Cup Park at Pier 27. I walk around the Village at the Marina Green. And I walk through a sea of red volunteer uniforms and confused faces. The appropriateness of the jury-imposed penalties is debatable (is being debated), but what I see is something I will never be able to explain to all those good-hearted John Q’s who wanted to be excited about this show, and wanted to wave a flag for the hometown team but–
I’m forever looking for the silver lining, and the three lawyerly paragraphs released today by the hometown team give me jack to work with.
Just moments ago I gave an interview to a Kiwi television crew, and I was feeling pretty down, and I said so. Later, I was approached by a gent in one of those red volunteer uniforms, who thanked me for my comments and expressed his own disappointment.
Not all of Oracle Team USA was involved, I’m happy to believe, in doping the one-design AC45s for what were, in effect, nothing more than a series of exhibition races, and WTF! There’s plenty about that fracas elsewhere, if you want to search for the details of dolphin posts and added length and weight and allegedly tighter headstays and the like, and you won’t have to search far for that. I’m not trying to be a reporter here. I’m just grieving for the coulda shoulda, and for all my fellow sailors on this blessed patch of water.
Tom Blackaller said, “If we ever get the America’s Cup to San Francisco Bay, we’ll show the world how good sailing can be.”
He had every right to believe it. I believed it.
It’s impossible to know now whether we are witnessing the death throes of a bad idea or the difficult birth of the future of sailing. We could yet have a match for the ages.
September 7 will be one helluva day.
No, this is not the new version of the Blue Planet Times. This is a throw together to bridge a moment that I cannot ignore. Over the last weeks and months I have had many occasions to observe that just the sight of an AC72 lifting itself up to “fly” at freeway speeds is enough to make somebody’s day. Not every bet made, going into the 34th America’s Cup, has gone wrong, and there is one more day to get down to the city front/Marina Green to enjoy some genuinely good fleet racing in the AC45s/Red Bull youth regatta.
This penalty stuff we’ll be debating for a while, I suppose, whether the team should take the hit for the actions of a few, whether the captain should go down with the ship even if he wasn’t driving when it hit the bricks . . .
I’ll leave you with Item 96 from Jury Notice 117: “The Jury has no intention to impose a penalty that will determine the outcome of the Match, which should best be determined on the water and not in the Jury room. But for these mitigating factors the penalty would have been heavier.”
AND A BIG SHOUT OUT TO
All my friends who are sailing in or helping with or just being part of the ultimate Corinthian yachting event, the International Knarr Championship at San Francisco Yacht Club. Shhhh. Shhhh. YEAH!
The guy above is probably not very happy right now. His mega-million team Oracle USA will start the America’s Cup match on Saturday (winner is first to 9) at -2. Ouch.
So it turns out that the International Jury did not look at all kindly on clandestine and witting modifications of the strict one design AC45 class.
Here’s the Jury Notice. Read the whole thing to feel the full ire of the Jury regarding the mendacity and culpability of Oracle team members, as well as the details of what each team member did. But here are the punishments (beyond the 2 point America’s Cup match penalty):
DECISIONS ON PENALTIES
105. Bryce Ruthenberg: Bryce Ruthenberg is excluded from further participation in any role in the 34th
America’s Cup. RRSAC rule 69.1(c) requires the Jury to inform his National
Authority (Australian Yachting Federation) and the International Sailing Federation,
which bodies may impose further penalties; however, in view of his full, frank and
early admissions, the Jury will recommend that no further action be taken.
106. Andrew Walker: Andrew Walker is excluded from further participation in any role in the 34th
America’s Cup. RRSAC rule 69.1(c) requires the Jury to inform his National
Authority (Yachting New Zealand) and the International Sailing Federation, which
bodies may impose further penalties.
107. Kyle Langford: In light of his age and inexperience in an America’s Cup environment, the fact that
he had no involvement in the work done and his truthfulness during the hearing,
together with his sincere efforts to acquaint himself with the Class Rules since the
matter came to light, Kyle Langford is warned to use his best endeavours not to be
involved with any activity that may be in breach of a rule in the future. The Jury is
not required to make a report to any federation.
108. Matt Mitchell: Matt Mitchell is excluded from sailing on a Yacht competing in the Match for the
34th America’s Cup until 4 races have been completed. RRSAC Rule 69.1(c)
requires the Jury to inform his National Authority (Yachting New Zealand) and the
International Sailing Federation, which bodies may impose further penalties;
however, the Jury will recommend that no further action be taken.
109. Dirk de Ridder: Dirk de Ridder is excluded from further participation in any role in the 34th
America’s Cup. RRSAC Rule 69.1(c) requires the Jury to inform his National
Authority (Koninklijk Nederlands Watersport Verbond) and the International Sailing
Federation, which bodies may impose further penalties.
Blam! Okay, on to the Match.
I have previously opined on the other recent West Coast sailing tragedies (the one America’s Cup fatality in May, the four fatalities on Aegean in the Ensenada Race last April, and the five fatalities on Low Speed Chase in the Farallones Race also last April), but have only mentioned in passing the incident aboard the Columbia Carbon 32 Uncontrollable Urge, wherein one crew member, Craig Williams, was killed after the boat lost its rudder and was driven ashore on San Clemente Island during the Islands Race this past March. Just yesterday the four surviving crew published their account of the accident in a joint statement released online. It’s worth taking a look at, as it contradicts, implicitly and explicitly, some earlier published accounts.
One striking distinction is that where all previous accounts state that the crew attempted to anchor the boat to prevent it from being driven ashore, there is no mention of anchors in this new account. Instead it describes the crew’s unsuccessful efforts to steer the boat with two emergency rudders, drogues, and warps, and by motoring. But they don’t actually state they did not try to anchor, so they may have just left that part out.
Uncontrollable Urge at the start of the 2013 Islands Race. The boat was new and the crew states they raced it conservatively
There is also a detailed description of the crew’s disposition as the boat first grounded and was rolled by waves: two crew thrown overboard to swim ashore, two crew thrown overboard but trapped in tethers, two crew remaining aboard. The tethered crew evidently did manage to free themselves, which seems to contradict one published account that stated that Williams was killed by the falling rig while tethered to the boat.
To me the most striking feature in this joint account is a statement that five of the six crew, who all ended up in the water eventually, had their inflatable lifevests pulled up over their heads, including those with crotch straps, as they struggled in the heavy surf. It is implied, but not stated, that Williams may have drowned as a result of this.
Craig Williams and the family he left behind. His wife was pregnant with a second child at the time of the accident
Personally, this leads me to wonder if one might be better off without any lifevest when trying to swim in surf. Thinking of all the time I’ve spent messing with large waves while swimming off beaches, I know that being able to quickly dive under a breaking wave can often be very useful. The crew, however, merely concludes that Type 1 lifejackets will work better in these situations than inflatable Type 5s.
For some the most important part of this story revolves around the question of why the crew didn’t accept assistance early on when they had the chance. But to me this never seemed mysterious or questionable at all: they felt they had control of the situation and didn’t want to mess up anyone else’s race. Up to a point, this is perfectly commendable. In all Uncontrollable Urge was adrift for two and a half hours before being driven ashore, and for much of that time the crew obviously believed a commercial towboat could reach them in a timely manner.
The account concludes with various recommendations, the last of which directly contradicts an important recommendation of the independent panel that investigated the Low Speed Chase tragedy. That is, the UU crew, unlike the LSC panel, believes that race committees should establish offset marks when sending fleets to race around offshore islands. To me this seems obvious, and I still don’t understand why the LSC panel simply ruled this out without any analysis or discussion. Three of the four fatal West Coast accidents involved boats running up on islands. In that the West Coast is nothing but lee shore, one would think this would be a no-brainer.
Another very interesting UU crew recommendation is that all skippers should post at their nav stations a copy of the official decision flow chart used by Coast Guard personnel when answering distress calls. (A copy of same is appended to the statement and is reproduced below.)
New places, new experiences, old friends: lots to learn about and explore around Kuching.We visited the orangutan rehabilitation center outside of town. It was hard not to compare with our incredible trip to Kumai. While Semenggoh had the same majestic primates… …it was a pretty different environment. It was full of good information, though some of it was a little misleading. You’d think there’s be a little more about the palm oil plantations destroying orangutan habitat in Malaysia, but that was probably a conflict of interest for someone. Afterwards, we continued out towards the highlands to visit a longhouse belonging to a Bidayuh community, a collective name for several indigenous groups in Sarawak. Built up off the ground, the homes of individual families are fronted by a shared bamboo boardwalk- the long part of longhouse. The Bidayuh are very welcoming. Our greeting included shots of rice wine… at 10:30 in the morning! Not what I expected, but OK. Many Bidayuh no longer live in longhouse communities, but this one thrives: possibly because of an interesting blend of old traditions with modern practices.
Most residents shared a wall between the homes built on either side of the long community space, with style of trim or color of paint distinguishing neighbors. And there were cats. Lots and lots of cats.The head house is an identifying characteristic of the Bidayuh longhouse. We thought that meant, you know, the primary house. Actually, it’s referring to the heads. Theirs are now locked for safekeeping, but still hung in the traditional spot where a fire might smoke beneath. The headhouse also held the router for community satellite service. In front, peppercorns dried on the split bamboo flooring near a line where beaten bark cloth dried before another round of pounding. A bit of the old, a bit of the new. Getting out of the river into Bako National Park to swing at anchor and be cooled by the breeze was a relief. Dirty fuel has clogged our filters much faster than expected, and we were out of spares. A new primary was delivered from Yanmar in Singapore with enough time for a few days floating around Pulau Lakei. Trails through the woods brought mysterious graves, the whisper of monkeys, and a lot of the interesting nepenthes – pitcher plants – in all sizes.
I loved them, but they didn’t compete with tide pools for the kids. On the other hand, very little can compete with tide pools.
Except, maybe, perfect sunsets.
I knew I liked New Caledonia as soon as we entered the pass. Erik and the girls were at the bow while I was checking the chart when I heard cries of: “Dolphin! Dolphin!” And sure enough, we had a cetacean visitor guiding us in to Noumea. Very civilized. Or rather, wild, which is the way we like itBienvenue! Job number one when we get to port is to let the girls run. Ten days is a long time to be cooped up in a small space, and even swinging on the handholds (our own personal monkey bars) can only do so much. So while Erik and I got water and worked on the boat, they practiced kung fu by day and danced outside to the live band playing in the cafe every evening. In short, they shook their sillies out. Noumea has a nice vibe to it, but it didn’t take long to find evidence of culture clash in our happy bay. New Caledonia is French, but a lot of Anglophones sail through here. As you can imagine, cultural mores differ. For example, this was posted in the Women’s room: For those of you whose French is a little rusty, it says, “After numerous complaints from our clients, we would ask our male users to respect the non-mixing of the showers. Couples who wish to take their shower together should do so by the Men’s.” I have collected a lot of sign photos over the past few years, but this is now far and away my favorite. What is the history here? What mighty battle of Prudes vs. Nudists was fought on these shores? In my mind, an elderly Australian lady tottered into the loo, only to be confronted with some French block-and-tackle and a friendly, “Bonjour!” And, ka-boom! I love that co-ed showers are not banned – just restricted to a more favorable environment. And everyone is happy, right? I should also point out that both restroom doors are perpetually open and in view of each other, so if ever there were a pointless solution, this is it. Today, we were ready to anchor out. Hurrah! I hate marinas – I never sleep well. So off we went. When we drop anchor, I am at the bow operating the anchor chain, and Erik drives. As we got underway, I discovered issue #1: the chain wouldn’t come out. So I got to crawl into one of my favorite places – the anchor locker – to sort it out. Somehow, the chain came down the hawsepipe, then disappeared into the aft starboard corner of the locker under all of the rest of the 70 m of chain. I love it when the chain flops over at sea – it makes me feel so needed when we reach port. So I hauled all of the chain out of the way, released my leading end, and got delightfully rusty and dirty in the process. Back on deck, I waited for the signal as Erik manoeuvred. Normally Erik cooly points downwards when he is ready, but this time he started shouting, “Drop it! Drop the anchor!” Never a good sign. As it turns out, he had suddenly lost power to the propeller. A brief investigation revealed that the coupling on our propeller shaft failed… and boy, does it look ugly. Luckily we are set up in a good spot, because we aren’t going anywhere until we fix it. So we might be in a Noumea a little longer than we planned. That’s okay. We have sun, baguette, and, most importantly, the girls are back in the water. Ice cream break. We are home again.
The “cruising dream” can manifest itself in many strange and different ways. Say, for example, you’re living in Arizona and are due to appear in court to face 16 counts of messing around sexually with an underage boy. Might be a good time to take a little road trip to Florida with the wife and the dogs and the assault rifles and look for a boat to buy, wouldn’t you say?
This apparently made sense to accused sex offender Robert Van Gundy, 29, who was busted with his wife Arielle at Dinner Key Marina in Coconut Grove on Wednesday. The couple had purchased a 31-foot sailboat (see photos above and below) for $4,000 on July 31 and evidently were loading up for a transit to the Bahamas.
After receiving tips that Robert Van Gundy was heavily armed and had sworn he would never be taken alive, federal U.S. Marshals and local police carefully staked out the marina and made a point of nabbing him on the dock, before he could get to the four assault rifles, one handgun, and 3,000 rounds of ammo that had been stashed on the boat. Arielle, who was carrying a small handgun in her purse at the time of Robert’s arrest, has also been detained on a weapons charge.
One of three dogs the Van Gundys were traveling with. Frankly, I’m guessing they would have caused more trouble than the guns on entering the Bahamas
Just prior to his arrest, Robert had been trolling cruising forums looking for advice on crossing the Gulf Stream, a prospect, he admitted, that “scares the crap out of me.”
You can watch a local news report on the arrest at this link here.
Also: Can anyone ID that boat they bought? Looks like a pretty good deal for $4K.
Word has it that Dick Newick, one of the great pioneer multihull designers, passed away on Wednesday night. I met Newick a few years ago here in Portsmouth (he once maintained a home across the river in Kittery Point, Maine) and was struck by a fundamental boat-design axiom of his that he shared with me. There are, he claimed, three desirable characteristics that most clients would like to see in any boat–performance, low cost, and comfort. “You can have any two,” he told me. “But you can never have all three.”
Pretty much every time I test-sail and review a boat for a magazine I think of that and remember Dick. So far I have yet to find a boat that proves him wrong.
Design-wise Newick himself mostly favored performance, and sometimes low cost. Few of his boats were very suitable for cruising, but he had an enormous impact on multihull racing. He jump-started trimaran design in the 1960s and ’70s by moving away from the boxy utilitarian designs of people like Arthur Piver toward much more organic looking and more hydrodynamic designs that were strong enough and fast enough to actually win major ocean races.
Echo, 36 feet, was a typical Newick design, with gorgeous curved amas and crossbeams that flowed easily into the form of the main hull
Those with long memories will also remember it was Newick who first rediscovered, and reinvented, the concept of the proa. In 1968 his 40-foot Cheers, which he termed an “Atlantic proa,” was the first multihull to achieve a podium finish in the singlehanded transatlantic OSTAR race. Sailed by Tom Follett, she finished right behind two larger monohulls, in spite of having followed a course that was nearly 1,000 miles longer.
Cheers was the first proa created by a Western designer and the first multihull to place in the OSTAR. Her skipper, Tom Follett, was also the first American to ever finish the race
Of course, the boat that really put Newick’s name on the map was Moxie, the famous 50-foot tri that Phil Weld sailed to victory in the 1980 OSTAR.
Moxie is still alive and sailing today in France, where she is revered as an iconic boat
For many casual students of yacht design, Moxie may be the only Newick boat they remember, but there were in fact several other designs that were quite influential. For an idea of the full sweep of Dick’s career, you should check out this excellent profile that Steve Callahan wrote just three years ago for Professional Boatbuilder.
And for a good idea of what it was like sailing on a Newick tri back in the day, you can clap orbs on this viddy of Moxie flying across Vineyard Sound back in 1987. You can spot Dick in the cockpit there, in amongst those younger guys with smiles on their faces.
RIP: Richard C. Newick 1926-2013