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Sparking Young Minds, and the un-Young TooEducational Tall Ships

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-05-22 12:04

By Kimball Livingston Posted May 22, 2014

Photo by Jerry Soto

Here’s a stat: In the ports of the USA there are 200 educational training vessels. Some of them can be called tall ships. Others are just out there, doing good work.

More are on the way.

The superb Maritime Museum of San Diego is building a full-sized, fully functional, and historically-accurate-to-the-best-of-their-knowledge replica of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s flagship, San Salvador. Building it, appropriately enough, at Spanish Landing Park alongside North Harbor Drive. Traveling between Shelter Island and Lindbergh Field, you surely wouldn’t fail to notice . . .

There’s still plenty to do, but it’s easy enough to imagine that there’s a ship in there. This image is out of date but interesting for the construction details . . . from UT San Diego


Coming from a different corner, farther north in California, there’s Alan Olson in Sausalito with his Educational Tall Ship project, one man’s very (very) personal vision of a wooden school ship “that will last a hundred years” and proof that if you start building it, they will come. The volunteers. The believers. The fellow dreamers.


Understand, Olson has built before. He’s a qualified master who knows the ocean. And his other great undertaking, the Call of the Sea foundation, is maxed out at 5,000 people aboard, under way, every year—most of them school children in their first taste of the waterways and ocean science—and he needs more capacity.

At 100 feet on deck and a sparred length of 132 feet, the brigantine to be christened with the name of San Francisco Bay’s master shipbuilder of the 19th century, Matthew Turner, will be able to carry 12,000 people a year. That’s the ship in the rendering that leads this piece.

The keelson is already ready. Thirty-eight of forty-two frames are already laminated. The lead keel arrives today, Thursday, May 22. All 86,000 pounds of it. But don’t worry. It comes in two pieces.

The Matthew Turner will have a bronze floor tying keel to ship, with engineering from Tri-Coastal Marine, which operates in CAD, not through lofting, even though their mission is “the design, construction and preservation of historic ships,” and they have a history of taking on heroic projects. “They are leaders in this kind of boatbuilding,” Olson says. And that is the basis for his hundred-year prediction.

I imagine Alan wouldn’t mind if I share a few facts about Matthew Turner, who with 228 vessels—most of them built in Benecia, California, on the Sacramento River, upstream from San Francisco Bay—was this nation’s most prolific builder of wooden ships. In the wake of a family tragedy, Turner quit his native Ohio and found success in the gold fields of California, then traveled to New York, bought himself a schooner, and returned to San Francisco Bay to go into the shipping business. With a partner, he grew a business with a handful of ships and, as a captain, was twice honored by foreign governments. Queen Victoria (you know she was English, right?) presented him with a gold-mounted spyglass for his part in saving the lives of British sailors. The government of Norway presented him with a silver service award for his rescue of a Norwegian vessel in danger of foundering at Honolulu.

When Matthew Turner turned to shipbuilding, he defied the wisdom of his moment, which is a fact that strikes me as strange. The wisdom, not his defiance. I say that, because what he did in 1868 was design the brig Nautilus with a fine entry and broad stern sections, knowingly echoing what had already proved successful in yachts. As in, the schooner America that was a winner against the Brits (with their forms of cods head-mackerel tail) fourteen years prior.

My point is, nobody knew?

I’ll stop. There’s plenty out there about Matthew Turner for those who go searching.

Alan Olson’s 70-foot brigantine, Stone Witch (construction to launch, 1971-1977) sailed 40,000 miles under his command, conducting education and outreach, and also served a stint as the flagship of Greenpeace. Which should be an adequate introduction to the following excerpt from the ETS web site—

“By combining technologies from the 19th and 21st centuries—skipping over the petroleum era—ETS will become a unique teaching tool that can inspire appreciation for past boat building designs while utilizing innovative technology solutions to construct a truly green sailing ship.

“The basic regenerative electric propulsion concept is simple. Instead of diesel engines, the ship is propelled by AC electric motors directly connected to the propeller shafts and drawing energy from large battery banks. When the ship is sailing, the energy of the passing water causes the propellers to rotate, which, in turn, causes the electric motors to become generators that re-charge the batteries onboard. Significant electrical energy is created as sailing speeds increase.

“New advances in propellers, electric propulsion/regeneration motors, battery technologies and electronic controllers make this possible and are available today. ETS can, in fact, operate on a carbon neutral basis. Energy to run our ship will come from regenerative power under sail, onboard generators fueled with recycled vegetable oil, and dockside charging from solar panels and wind generators. Day-to-day operations are designed to minimize energy and water use with a waste management system that will repurpose, recycle and reduce waste. By using LED lighting, induction cooking and low energy navigation and appliances, we will use less than 50kWh per day. Producing and storing enough energy from just four to six hours of sailing can achieve energy self-sufficiency.”

The Educational Tall Ship, the Matthew Turner, will have a 1,000-mile range on standby generators. Nothing is taken for granted. The build project has two paid shipwrights and as many as eight skilled volunteers per day, enough volunteer labor to materially lower the total budget.

“A ship is one of the best educational tools available,” Olson says. “Building a ship keeps knowledge and skills alive.” Build it of wood, he says, and you can give back more than you take: “We are using Forest Stewardship certified Oregon white oak and Douglas fir, sustainably harvested, and we intend to plant more trees than we take.”

I think it’s called, giving back.

And the most active boat in Northern California is—

The Call of the Sea Foundation’s schooner Seaward, with a passenger list of mostly schoolkids and a science program attuned to the fourth and fifth grade curricula. You could take a bucket of bay water into a classroom and look at plankton under a microscope, but that’s nothing compared to trolling up your own, in fresh air, with the deck alive beneath you—

The Seaward is also available for adult charter in the USA and, in the winter, in Mexico. That helps keep the show on the road. By the way, it’s a bargain . . .

And this comes next . . .

Celebrating National Maritime Day with a flag giveaway (up to $50)

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-05-22 06:00

I love flags. Growing up, my family had a rotating parade of flags, and changing the flag in front of our house was a memorable ritual. Living on a boat and cruising mean lots of opportunities to keep indulging my love of flags- from our ensign, to international courtesy flags, to the occasional burgee or full-dress parade styling. Now, I get to share it!

Gettysburg Flag Works is giving me the chance to say THANK YOU to the followers of Sailing with Totem. They’re gifting a flag for a giveaway. Readers make my day again and again with great questions, comments, and emails. It’s a gift for me to know I can help you reach your cruising dream, answer your questions about what it’s like or how to do it, or just offer a bit of vicarious living. Thanks go Gettysburg Flag Works, I can offer something back! This giveaway is for any one flag from their website, valued up to $50.

Why are they doing this? Well, Gettysburg Flag Works is run by Mike Cronin, who happens to be an avid boater. He sails in upstate NY (that’s Mike, below, demonstrating that any day on the water is a good day!). Turns out he’s not the only member of his flag-making team who is passionate about boating, and they were inspired by National Maritime Day – yes, that’s today, May 22, every year - to connect their enthusiasm for boating and flags.

Going cruising? I’ll never forget the first time we hoisted an international flag under the starboard spreader as cruisers. We’d put up The Maple Leaf many times as Salish Sea boaters, but raising a Mexican flag as we prepared to enter Ensenada had a whole new meaning: grand adventures, and many nautical miles ahead. It was pretty flimsy, though, and wore out after just a few months. Gettysburg’s 12×18″ country flags are the perfect size, and their canvas reinforcing and sturdy grommets mean they’ll take you through a season of trade wind flying in the Bahamas.

Need a new ensign? I really like flying the US flag at the stern (especially since the maritime officer in Australia asked if ‘WA’ on our transom was for Western Australia…not Washington), but the elements give them a beating. Our current flag wasn’t well made, and is wearing too quickly. Besides a super tough flag, Gettysburg also has a great little guide to help you figure out the right size for your boat length, based on whether you will put it up on a powerboat or sailboat. It’s different! Didja know that? But on to the…


Rules: I’m a big fan of keeping things simple.
1. You must have a US or Canadian shipping address to be eligible.
2. Hopefully, you’ll smile at someone, and there will be two happier people!
3. Some legalese terms and conditions. Unavoidable.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Entries will be taken until 11:59pm Pacific time on Monday, June 2… plenty of time to get a flag before National Flag Day, June 14!

Please consider sharing this with your friends. More smiles in the world!

1200 Feet Long, Loaded, Under Tow

Sail Feed - Wed, 2014-05-21 20:50

It’s billed as the first test/demonstration in the USA of towing one of the new crop of ultra-large ships. Here’s the word:

Posted May 21, 2014

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Coast Guard Sector San Francisco personnel and CMA CGM – the third-largest shipping group – along with other local industry partners tested the Bay Area’s capability to tow ultra-large container vessels during an exercise Wednesday.

Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Loumania Stewart

The vessel used for this exercise was CMA CGM’s Centaurus, an 11400 TEU container ship measuring 365 meters, or approximately 1,200 feet.

The purpose of the towing demonstration was to test the capability of existing tug assets within San Francisco Bay to connect to and tow an ultra-large container vessel.

This exercise marked the first such attempt in the United States. The demonstration was intended as a learning experience conducted within the confines of the Bay to enhance preparedness for emergency towing operations either in the Bay or in the approaches to San Francisco.

“The Coast Guard is excited to be a part of this groundbreaking demonstration,” said Capt. Gregory Stump, commander of Sector San Francisco and Captain of the Port of San Francisco. “This is a prime example of the forward-leaning posture of the San Francisco Bay Area Harbor Safety Committee and a testament to the commitment of our maritime community to safety and environmental protection.”

Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Loumania Stewart

“There will be many important lessons learned from this exercise,” said Coast Guard Cmdr. Jason Tama with the 11th Coast Guard District prevention division. “It was a great example of the Coast Guard, Harbor Safety Committee, and maritime industry working together to ensure we are ready to respond to an incident involving an ultra large container vessel.”

Commenting on the operation, Marc Bourdon, President of CMA CGM America declared, “We are very proud to cooperate with the U.S. Coast Guard and the San Francisco Harbor Safety Committee for this drilling exercise, which illustrated CMA CGM’s strong commitment to safety and security.”

The CMA CGM Group is a leading and recognized industry player in the field of safety and security, and constantly aims to achieve the highest security standards at all times, Bourdon said.

CHEEKI RAFIKI: USCG Caves to Pressure, Search Resumed

Sail Feed - Wed, 2014-05-21 10:35

After a truly amazing public appeal by a number of British public officials, well-known sailors, and 200,000 random civilians who signed an online petition, the U.S. Coast Guard yesterday resumed its search for Cheeki Rafiki, a Beneteau First 40.7 that went missing on Friday while returning to the UK after racing at Antigua Sailing Week. Joining the search are elements of the World Cruising Club’s ongoing ARC Europe rally, led by the Outremer 64 catamaran Malisi (see photo up top). Yachting World’s technical editor Matthew Sheahan has also posted a detailed description of the search areas now involved and is urging any yachts transiting the area to join in the effort.

It makes perfect sense, of course, that people on yachts should help find the four missing crew from Cheeki Rafiki. But there is an element of risk involved–the overturned hull found by a container ship on Saturday, which presumably was Cheeki Rafiki, is certainly a hazard to other yachts. I would hate for anyone to find it by running into it.

If anyone does find it again, here’s another question: what exactly do you do with it? Is there any way to flip it over again? If not, how do you inspect the interior? Even for a well-equipped, well-trained diver, I imagine it would be a challenge.

Matt Sheahan in his post argues against the scenario I discussed in my last post, that what likely happened was that the boat suddenly flipped before the crew could deploy and board a liferaft. Sheahan urges the loss of the keel might have been gradual, giving the crew time to react. Others have argued that the fact that there were two personal rescue beacon hits from devices lit off in sequence, one after the other, proves that there must be survivors in a liferaft.

Again, the question in my mind is: under what circumstances do you have time to board a liferaft without bringing along the ship’s EPIRB? Two PLB hits in sequence does, of course, suggest there are two or more people cooperating on getting rescued, but they could just as easily be together in the water as in a raft while doing it.

I have read one report that states the ship’s EPIRB was ignited on Thursday, when the crew first reported they were taking on water, but no source is cited and I find no other reports confirming it. Given what we know, it seems unlikely. The crew reported Thursday they had a leak that was under control and that they were diverting to the Azores; given their experience, you wouldn’t think they’d also light off their EPIRB at this time. If they had, SAR resources would have immediately been focussed on recovering them.

One can only assume that the Coast Guard’s working assumption when they called off the initial search after just 53 hours was that any survivors had to have been in the water. I believe they made the right call resuming the search, given all the interest and unusual circumstances, but realistically I think the odds of finding survivors are slim.

Here’s yet another question I’m asking myself: if this had been a plain-vanilla cruising crew instead of a reasonably high-profile racing crew, would Robin Knox-Johnston, Sir Ben Ainslie, the British government, et al, have gone to such lengths lobbying the Coasties to keep on searching???

Supercell, as in Super Cell

Sail Feed - Wed, 2014-05-21 01:16

Quality NMEA 2000 cabling, the eBay way

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-05-20 14:25

Written by Ben Ellison on May 20, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

I’m not sure whether to thank or curse the Panbo reader who got me hunting for NMEA 2000 cabling equipment on eBay. There is a thrill to picking up a $290 Turck JBSS 57-811 DeviceNet multi-port junction box for about $35 to $45 with shipping (and there seem to plenty left here, here, and here). It’s beautifully made — fully potted with nickle-plated brass connectors and gold-plated brass contacts, plus a built-in voltage indicator — and it can definitely be a useful part of most any boat’s NMEA 2000 network, as I’ll demonstrate. But you may find yourself up late looking for related heavy duty N2K network components, probably getting confused by complex nomenclature and maybe even buying stuff you can’t use. Then again, you’re apt to learn how many ways there are to build a valid N2K network…

The cable and connector standard adopted for NMEA 2000 is a subset of the DeviceNet standard used in industrial automation, and if you try to equip your boat with used or surplus DeviceNet gear found online, the term “subset” will take on new meaning. It turns out that there are many forms of DeviceNet, and several of them are useless for N2K. But on a happier note, I’m pretty sure that the eBay purchases above constitute a small, high quality NMEA 2000 network at a bargain price. Recall that N2K includes two five-pin connector sizes, generally called Mini and Micro and perhaps best seen on this Maretron page. I’ve only seen the misnamed Mini connectors — they’re 7/8-inch in diameter — on large vessels, generally used for the trunk or backbone cabling with Micro drops to the various devices. Apparently, that’s also a common connector architecture for industrial automation, which explains the design of the Turck junction box and the preponderance of Mini size cabling when searching eBay for DeviceNet cable listings.

So the Turck JBBS 57-811 junction box is designed with male and female Mini ports for the network trunk and 8 Micro female ports for device drops. But in the photo above, I’m using one Mini to insert 12v power with terminating resistors screwed into the other Mini and one Micro port. In this case the JBBS is the entire backbone with 7 female Micro connectors ready to accept drops up to 6 meters long each. I’m also demonstrating how you can check for the proper 60 Ohm resistance across the white and blue data wires, because you may recall that NMEA 2000 is an impedance-driven networking technique. Heck, you could just use the Micro ports for all the connections, though it would be a bad idea to leave the Mini port contacts exposed (fine Turck male RKF-MC and female RSF-MC closure caps are available surplus, and there are probably many alternatives if you can find them).

By now you’ve probably realized that yours truly spent part of his winter collecting components for an N2K network that may be heavy duty enough to run a serious assembly line, but before discussing further, let’s look at a couple of mistakes. Doesn’t that look like a nice 0.8 meter Micro drop cable with a 90° female end handy for attaching to the back of many N2K devices? Well, look a little closer, because that male connector is not Micro size, but rather an even smaller DeviceNet standard size, variously called Nano or Pico. (Turck calls Micro size connectors Euro or EuroFast, by the way, and there are many such impediments to eBay search and identification.) At any rate, there are hundreds of these cables available on eBay for some reason, sometimes for as little as $5 each. At first, I thought they could be used with a raw wire junction box like Furuno’s or Actisense’s, but the cable is also UltraThin size with 26AWG wires, which is not up to N2K specs. Anybody want them?

I was also disappointed with this surplus DeviceNet power tap, though it’s built like a tank. I presumed that the two pairs of power leads meant that I could separately switch the two sides of the trunk line, as explained here on Panbo. But testing — and the further research I should have done in the first place — indicate that both power feeds go to both sides of the network, enabling redundant power sources instead of splitting the trunk. Note that Maretron obviously sources their Mini Powertap (PDF here) from the same source, except that theirs has two female backbone connectors, so that if you ever open the network live, the male pins shouldn’t be hot (unless the gender was changed somewhere). Meanwhile, Maretron’s Micro/Mid Powertap Tee (PDF here) is truly split (as is the Actisense QDP), which also helps with the issue of voltage drop in a large N2K network. Of course, voltage drop is also prevented by the 15 or 16 AWG power wires found in the Thick or Mid size cables that typically come with Mini size connectors, but note in the photo that a careless eBay shopper can find Mini cables that are the Light size (with 22 AWG power wires) normally found with Micro connectors…

It took a while, but eventually I learned to check attractive looking eBay offerings with manufacturer sites or PDF catalogs. It’s often easier to use parts numbers instead of product names, because the latter can get wicked confusing. “NMEA 2000″ is never mentioned in this world, but sometimes you’ll see DeviceNet Micro/Euro/whatever cables that sure look like they’d be useful in our world. Like the Turck Daisy Chain cable above, which could very neatly provide a drop to, say, three N2K devices in a tight helm pod. It seems like the design takes care of the NMEA’s concern about daisychained displays where the network actually passes into and out of the device (though most major manufacturers offer it anyway). Unfortunately, I’ve never seen one of these cables outside of the Turck Connectivity Catalog, but the point is that DeviceNet is a sprawling and interesting cable standard.

So here’s another potential N2K network making use of the nifty Turck JBBS 57-811 junction boxes. I believe it’s valid to run the backbone through the junction box, but a better practice is to drop the junction boxes from the backbone. For Gizmo, I found some Mini size Tee connectors, including some with one female Micro drop connector, so most of the backbone is Micro size with Thick or Mid cabling, as are the drops to three JBBS junction boxes. It’s overkill, for sure, but there should be no voltage drop issues and plenty of room to grow. For now, it has one power feed fused 4 amps to account for all the Micro Thin cable drops, but I’ll keep hunting for a neat way to split the power into the Micro backbone. (I’m also switching the boat’s SimNet network to regular Micro, both because it will make device swapping easier and because Simrad is making the same switch. I didn’t have any problems with SimNet, though.)

If I’ve misunderstood something about quality NMEA 2000 cabling and the stuff that can be found used or surplus online, I dare say I’ll be corrected pretty quickly by readers and/or manufacturers. But I also modeled the network with Maretron’s ever better (and still free) N2KBuilder software. I was pleased to see that it recognized my hybrid Mini/Micro network as having a valid trunk and branch design with plenty of voltage. Note that I used two Maretron 4-drop Micro Multiport boxes (PDF here) to represent each JBBS 8-drop box (and note that this whole entry can also be argument for some to simply stick with NMEA 2000 certified cable and connectors made or sourced by quality marine electronics companies like Maretron). I purposely made one mistake to illustrate the point that even a fee Tees can serve like a multi-port box, but not when the total cable length from trunk to device exceeds 6 meters. Now, what mistakes have I missed?

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

Cooking with a Solar Oven aboard

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-05-20 05:13

We’re in the tropics. There is a lot of sun. We can cook with the sun. It makes sense, right? Still, you don’t see a lot of solar ovens on boats- and that’s too bad.

1. Your galley stays cool.

This is an excellent feature for retaining the sanity of the primary cook aboard (moi) because I don’t have get cranky while I drip sweat in a hot galley, or heat our boat while I’m cooking (it kills me that for the gold plated price they command, Force 10 – like most boat ovens – are not insulated. why, people? why?).

2. You use less propane.

Sometimes, it’s very  hard (or very inconvenient) to refill propane. Papua New Guinea? Sorry, but the islands we visited din’t have roads or electricity, and they definitely didn’t have propane available… local cooking is done over a wood or coconut husk fire. Indonesia? A strangely unique fitting is used locally, and most places wouldn’t refill our US tanks. We can go about three months on our two cylinders. Being able to extend that time with a solar oven is really helpful.

3. Dinner is cooked while you’re doing other things

Point it into the sun, and during peak hours the oven heats up to 200-250F. That’s kind of like having a crock pot on deck, which slowly turns out a delicious meal over the course of an afternoon and meanwhile… there are far better things that I can think of to do with that time!

much rather commune with the fishes (Surin islands, Thailand)… …or hike with my family (Komodo National Park, Indonesia)

4. Food cooked by the sun is DELICIOUS.

I am not clear on the underlying science, but vegetables cooked with minimal added moisture retain flavor better- I suppose because it’s not lost into steam? Whatever it is, veggies keep a brightness that’s lost on the stovetop or oven. Tough meats (which is mostly what we can find) tenderizes nicely with slow cooking.  A whole chicken (stuck into raw rice with a little water) cooks to falling-off-the-bone deliciousness, in about 4 hours. It bakes a carrot cake that was to die for. Back in the less humid Mexican climate, we’d also dry fish jerky and make sundried tomatoes. Too humid in SE Asia, unfortunately.

If you’re planning to go cruising, this is a great galley gadget to try in advance- kind of like a pressure cooker. Have fun with it and get used to it in advance- why not? When we first picked ours up, it was delivered to my family in northern Michigan (on our Escape from Hurricane Season grand road trip of 2009). Up there at latitude 43 or so, it made delicious ratatouille, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, hard boiled eggs, and more.

What’s the catch?

It’s just the bulk, really. It’s a big box, it doesn’t collapse, and it does take up a chunk of space. It’s got a special corner on deck where it lives, and we really would rather minimize what’s on deck… but there’s not another option. We didn’t get the optional reflectors, so I can’t bake loaf bread well (quick breads and cakes are fine, though). That’s it. This thing is great!

I want to plug the Solar Oven Society specifically- their oven is made from recycled materials, and sales of it support their extensive nonprofit work to bring these ovens to those who truly need it. In the five years since we got their Sport model oven, it’s taken a beating: the side clips have rusted and fallen off, the plastic cover is crazing from UV exposure (ironically)- but it still works FINE, it’s just not “new” looking anymore.

Have you used a solar oven on your boat? Let me know in the comments, or share a picture by posting to Totem’s Facebook page!

Solar savvy readers know we get aaaalll heated up when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Onboard the J Class Hanuman

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-05-19 20:34

May 19, 2014

Kenny Read gets some good rides. This time he’s on JK6, Jim Clark’s J-Class sloop, Hanuman, a modern replica of Endeavour II. In 1937, T.O.M. Sopwith brought Endeavour II from England, hoping for the same speed advantage he had enjoyed—and wasted—with Endeavour in 1934. Mike Vanderbilt was waiting for him with Ranger, an all-time great, and that was the end of that.

The way the J Class has organized itself, you’re allowed to build from a design that was never constructed, or to replicate a boat since lost. The original Endeavour II was scrapped in 1968.

What we have here is just a little big-boat porn and some words from the Menorca Maxi press office—

Ken Read and his crew trained on Monday off Port Mahón, under relatively flat seas and moderate breeze. Official photographer Jesús Renedo went onboard and captured the beauty and excitement of the J-Class.

Racing at Menorca Maxi runs from Thursday, May 22nd to Sunday, May 25th. The schedule calls for three days of windward/leeward races and one day of coastal racing with the first warning signal at 12:30pm local time every day.

The event is an initiative of the Island Council of Menorca and is organized by Club Marítimo de Mahón, with the support of Port of Mahón, one of the Mediterranean’s biggest and most beautiful ports. Being chosen by two of the world’s most prestigious superyacht classes is a clear demonstration of Menorca’s know-how and ability to hold world-class sailing events.

Follow the Menorca Maxi regatta via the event’s official website, Menorca Maxi, is your comprehensive source of information, with daily updates, official results and plenty of high-quality photos and videos.

Ultra Large but Safe in Port?

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-05-19 19:01

From U.S. Coast Guard District 11 Public Affairs:

Posted May 19, 2014

Harbor Safety Committee to evaluate Bay Area emergency towing capabilities on an Ultra Large Container Ship

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The San Francisco Bay Harbor Safety Committee, in coordination with the Coast Guard and local industry partners, will be evaluating the region’s capability to respond to an emergency involving an Ultra Large Container Vessel on San Francisco Bay. The drill will be held Wednesday in South San Francisco Bay in the vicinity of Anchorage Nine, and will involve multiple tug boats simulating an emergency tow of one of the largest container ships currently calling on California ports.

The purpose of the towing drill is to evaluate the capability of existing tug boats within San Francisco Bay to tow an ultra-large container ship. This will be the first such drill conducted in the United States.

The drill is intended as a learning experience conducted within the confines of the Bay to enhance preparedness for emergency towing operations. “The Harbor Safety Committee is dedicated to maintaining a safe maritime transportation system,” said Capt. Lynn Korwatch, Chair of the San Francisco Bay Area Harbor Safety Committee. “I am proud of the local maritime community’s efforts to take this innovative step toward improving readiness.”

“The Coast Guard is excited to be a part of this groundbreaking drill,” said Capt. Gregory Stump, Sector San Francisco commander. “Ships calling on California ports continue to get larger, and we are working with our port partners to ensure we are ready to respond to an emergency.”

Sponsor: San Francisco Harbor Safety Committee

Participants include:

• Coast Guard Sector San Francisco

• San Francisco Bar Pilots


• Harbor Safety Committee – Tug Workgroup Members

D11 Public Affairs

CHEEKI RAFIKI: Hull Found, Search Suspended

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-05-19 15:41

The U.S. Coast Guard are coming under major pressure today after they announced yesterday they were suspending their search for possible survivors from Cheeki Rafiki, a Beneteau First 40.7 that went missing in the North Atlantic about 1,000 miles east of Cape Cod on Friday. On Saturday a container ship participating in the search, Maersk Kure, found an overturned hull, with no keel (see photo up top), that most likely was Cheeki Rafiki, but they were unable to inspect the hull closely and found no other debris, no liferaft, and no other signs of survivors. Various luminaries, including Robin Knox-Johnston, the crew’s families, and tens of thousands people who have endorsed an online petition are pleading with the Coast Guard to resume the search.

Cheeki, which is managed by a British firm, Stormforce Coaching, had raced at Antigua and was being delivered back to the UK by an experienced crew of four. They contacted Stormforce on Thursday to report they were taking on water and were diverting to the Azores. On Friday two satellite rescue beacons were ignited–evidently these were personal beacons, not the ship’s EPIRB–and there’s been no word since.

Cheeki Rafiki racing at Antigua earlier this month. She finished first in the CSA 5 division

Last known location

A very tough call this. Knox-Johnston and others are claiming it is “very likely” the crew is adrift in a liferaft, but I’m not so sure. Assuming that the overturned hull is the boat in question, it may be she flipped very suddenly when the keel fell off. (An impending keel failure may well be what was causing the leak.) Two crew on deck thrown suddenly into the water as the boat turtled would explain the personal beacons being ignited. A sudden inversion would also explain why the ship’s EPIRB, presumably stored below, wasn’t ignited. If there was no time to light off the EPIRB, there likely wouldn’t have been enough time to launch and board a liferaft.

It’s a shame the container ship crew couldn’t check out that hull in detail. There could be bodies onboard. But conditions at the time were very strong, and a container ship, obviously, isn’t equipped for that sort of work.

My sudden-inversion scenario is purely speculative, but based on the facts we have now, it seems the likeliest explanation. It certainly makes you think about modern keels. I have bloviated before about the vulnerability of keels on high-end race boats, but this was a common production boat. Unfortunately, other such boats have also lost keels in the past. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to take it for granted that my keel will stay put.

The Coast Guard reports they searched 53 hours for survivors, and that the estimated best-case survival time given the conditions was 20 hours. The crew onboard were James Male, Andrew Bridge, Steve Warren, and Paul Goslin, all from great Britain.

Being On Time: A Cultural Mystery

Sail Feed - Sun, 2014-05-18 19:43
As close as we get to hurrying around here.

Many years ago, I stood waiting for a train in Switzerland.  Shortly before my train was due, a very apologetic-sounding announcement came over the loudspeaker.  By the third repetition, I had the Swiss-German mostly deciphered: our train would be two minutes late, and the management was deeply sorry for the inconvenience.  A collective sigh went up along the platform.  The elderly ladies waiting beside me were particularly put out, and continued to grumble until the train arrived – precisely two minutes late.

As a Canadian, I can’t say I would have noticed a two-minutes-late train.  That falls within the standard error of “on time” as far as I am concerned.  A five to ten minute grace period doesn’t seem unreasonable.  In Germany, they want to run their trains like the Swiss but in fact run them like the Canadians, so, again, waiting an extra few minutes from time to time isn’t much of a surprise.

But the French, as has been widely noted through history, are different.

Last week, the girls and I were invited to spend Sunday with friends in another bay.  I took a look at the bus schedule, and determined our bus would leave the station at 9:58am.  And, since I wasn’t sure exactly where to wait, I decided to get there a few minutes early, just to be on the safe side.  As we crossed the street at 9:45am, I saw our bus pull into the station.  We sauntered in, joined the end of the line, paid our fares… and the bus pulled out.  I looked at the clock. 9:47.  I can understand leaving a few minutes late, but early?  That hardly seems sporting. Surely this was an aberration. Maybe the driver forgot the check the clock.

I forgot about the incident until Thursday. The girls and I were off to visit Erik in Brisbane, and I had booked the airport shuttle for the three of us: 2:35pm, in front of the shuttle offices. As we left Stylish’s school, my phone rang.
“Hello, Mrs Schaefer, this is Ar-en-ciel.  The shuttle is waiting – will you be here soon?”
I checked my watch.  2:20pm.  ”We’re two blocks away,” I said. And the girls and I huffed over the hill with our bags.
As we settled into the shuttle, we endured some disapproving looks from the other passengers. Clearly, we had made everyone wait.  I double-checked the time on my receipt.  Yes, 2:35pm.  But, somehow, still late.

We arrived back from Brisbane last night at one in the morning.  I shoveled the girls into bed and fell asleep myself.  At 6:00am, my phone alarm went off.  It was suspiciously bright outside. As I rolled this information around in my brain, I realized that I had forgotten to change my phone back to Noumea time: it was really 7:00am. And, inevitably, this is Parent’s Week at school.  Indy and I were due at her school for breakfast… at 7:00am.  Which, given recent events, meant we probably should have been there at 6:45.

I exploded out of bed, threw clothes and baguette at the girls, locked up and ran.  As I went, I called my neighbour who usually drives the girls to school.  I was late and sure to be in trouble with her.
“Not to worry,” she said, puzzled at my tone.  ”We still have plenty of time to make the breakfast.”

And, sure enough, all of the parents were at least 45 minutes late for the coffee and pain au chocolat.  The event went on in a leisurely fashion until 8:30am,when everyone tossed their cups in the trash in a synchronized fashion and left.

So, I still don’t understand French timekeeping.  Sometimes you have to be ten minutes early.  Sometimes you are better off being half an hour late.  I suspect everyone has a cranial implant that lets them know which is which.  But maybe Tourist information could publish a handy guide to help clueless anglos like me. And, in the meantime, I’ll try not to miss too many planes.

Choosing a wind generator: power projects aboard

Sail Feed - Sat, 2014-05-17 20:57

Increasing energy produced from wind and sun are part of our ongoing power projects on Totem. Silentwind was a clear standout from the available options, with the two key benefits we wanted: more power, and QUIET. The cool blue blades? Bonus. But let me back up a little… there’s more to the story.

When we purchased Totem in 2007, there were 300 watts of solar panels installed on an arch at the transom. During our early cruising days In Pacific Mexico, we had fewer than five days of rain over nearly a year and a half—the perfect place for solar! After a year, we wanted to boost our available power (this, along with four-foot-itis, is a chronic disease among cruisers…). Panels were increasingly affordable, so naturally, after a year in Mexico, we added a wind turbine.


Sure, there was a lot of sun, but there was also a lot of wind in the daily thermals. Anchored in Banderas Bay, they blew with clockwork like consistency. We often had breezes at night, too: hours you can’t harness the sun. Besides, we liked the idea of diversifying our power sources.

big winds hid behind the mountains in the Sea of Cortez

This wasn’t just about Mexico. Despite the glorious cruising photos of blue skies and stunning weather, lower latitudes ahead would also bring shorter days, an increase in cloudy days, and trade winds. With less sun and more wind, complementing our solar panels with wind power made a lot of sense. Solar panels may look cheaper for amp at the outset, but it’s no good at all unless you have sun.

Sure enough, as we’ve added up months and miles closer to the equator, that’s pretty much how it’s panned out. Sitting in an atoll with the trades blowing through, we’d listen to the turbine putting power in the bank all night.

This generator earned a name: Pepe. Baja, Mexico

I’ll emphasize: we’d listen to the turbine. The downside of our initial wind gen was the noise. For that first turbine we had chosen an Air Breeze for value, and the fact that it would begin supplying power at lower speeds. Unfortunately, it provided that power with the kind of noise that gives wind turbines a bad name. Noise was worst at lower wind ranges, which meant every time it would spin up or wind down as the breeze fluctuated we (and our neighbors) had to listen to the whining drone. We joked that it was a great alarm for changes in conditions at night, waking us up with any shift in the breeze… but really, there are better ways to do that. Our master cabin is aft, and the turbine was only about four meters overhead. It was also only 200 watts, which didn’t seem like a big deal at the time–but once in the tradewind zones, we jealously eyed the boats with 400 watt models.

Between Mexico and the Marquesas, we burned 36 gallons of diesel. There were hours in the doldrums to get through, but much of this was necessary for charging. Between our watermaker, refrigeration, and autopilot, we had a baseline of need that we didn’t quite meet with the 300 watt solar + 200 watt wind.

Back in 2009, Silentwind didn’t have a wind turbine for the marine market, or I’m sure we’d have given it a close look. They did manufacture turbine blades which could be fit to make other manufacturer’s models quieter, but we weren’t sure it was a necessary cost. Hindsight? Worthwhile. Hind-hindsight? Happier yet with the more powerful 420 watt turbine from Silentwind that’s on Totem right now.

Being able to live off the grid is a pretty great feeling. Solar and wind power working for us, no carbon cost to charge the battery bank for on-board power needs, and the very practical benefit of extending our cruising range. There are corners of the world where it’s hard to source fuel, and these are places we like to be. With the new turbine, we’re putting in more than ever now, we’re doing it without the sharing the whine of a dentist’s drill from our boat with the rest of the anchorage.

Up next: installing the new Silentwind generator.

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59º N Podcast with French multihull gurus Jean-Charles Corre & Antoine Derv

Sail Feed - Sat, 2014-05-17 16:49

You might not recognize their names, but Jean-Charles & Antoine have been at the top of the multihull game for some time, and I had the chance to chat with them in Bermuda during the ARC Europe stopover. Both guys are French through and through (and I love their accents), and the French are nuts about multihulls. They were commercial mariners and fisherman, respectively, but got invited to join the crew of Geronimo, a 110-foot trimaran that was purpose built to break all the speed-sailing records in the early 2000′s. They were both onboard for much of the campaign, including the Jules Verne Trophy (63 days nonstop around the world), the trans-Pacific California to Japan record, the round Australia record and on and on. We spoke aboard the one-off VPLP-designed cat Tosca that had just sailed the 650 miles from Portsmouth, VA to Bermuda in 3 days (!), with a top speed of 18 knots. And this is a cruising boat…Jean-Charles & Antoine couldn’t have been nicer hosts – two days later, they invited Mia and I onboard for an evening of wine and cheese and great conversation. Jean-Charles also got me in touch with Mathias Maurios, the actual designer of Tosca who works for VPLP in Paris, so I’ll be having him on the podcast soon! Thanks guys!

ABANDONING BE GOOD TOO: The Builder Responds

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-05-16 17:57

Back when I published my blog post about abandoning the Alpha 42 Be Good Too in January, I told Gregor Tarjan, president of Aeroyacht, builder of the boat, that I would publish in full any statement he cared to make about the incident. He declined at that time, but he has decided to make a statement in response to the story about the incident (which I also wrote) that has appeared in the current print edition of SAIL.


by Gregor Tarjan, designer of the Aeroyacht ALPHA 42 catamaran BEE GOOD TOO

The following statements are in reaction to SAIL magazine’s article in the May 2014 issue, “Abandoning BEE GOOD TOO”

I was not aboard this delivery so my opinion is purely based on the facts regarding the construction of the boat and the circumstances in which the crew founds themselves. Since the January incident I have answered 100′s of emails and phone calls from readers and customers who were eager to know more. The purpose of this statement is not to accuse or criticize but to share our perspective with those interested and provide information that was omitted from the article. Rumors are often based on theories deriving from incomplete information. This letter might help clarify.

“Casual” is the one word that comes to my mind when thinking of the misfortune of BEE GOOD TOO. It describes the entire preparation, execution and abandonment of our boat. Points below describe my perspective for this view and the circumstances leading to the accident which, otherwise, may have been avoided. Nevertheless, in spite of the odds, the boat’s integrity and structure withstood the worst weather and kept the crew alive!

1) TESTING: Alpha Yachts tested the boat for weeks before handover. On the final test I, personally, sailed the boat under very harsh conditions by sailing it shorthanded, counterclockwise around Long Island in blizzard conditions. Outside temp’s averaged -20 Fahrenheit (-28 Celsius) winds were up to 40 knots and (short) seas about 10′ high. My plan was to test to the breaking point. A constant sheet of inch-thick ice covered the deck and at one point the boat was buried under 30″ of snow. The generator, engines and all the systems ran, non-stop, for 14 days to avoid freezing and becoming inoperable. Every system worked flawlessly.

Was the boat perfect? Of course not, no boat is. There were issues: minor leaks (not dribbles) appeared through the seals of the saloon windows, emergency hatch seals, forward deck hatch seals and forward starboard to crossbeam attachment. Subsequently boats to be delivered this year by the builder, have been altered to eliminate these shortcomings. When I short-stopped in Port Jefferson, NY, all these issues were attended to so that I felt secure to continue the test and hand over the boat to the new owners in New Jersey.

2) SCHEDULE: Each and every crew member had a time based commitment to fulfill shortly after the boat arrived at its destination as they had verbally expressed to me. Anyone who goes to sea in a sailboat certainly well knows that a fixed schedule is a risk factor one does not wish to adhere to, most definitely when sailing a new vessel on a direct route offshore, in the North Atlantic, during one of the most severe winters on the U.S. meteorology record. Many readers on the forums have criticized the fact that when the crew was only 70 miles East of Norfolk, VA a forecast of an impending Low easily allowed a turn to shelter. Instead the opposite was decided—the boat was directed Eastward into the path of the storm. I will refrain from a critic of this decision made by the captain. I was not aboard. They may have felt sufficiently assured to face the worst.

3) PREPARATION: At the owner’s request I, personally, placed and stored the items, he furnished, aboard the boat; giving me first hand knowledge of the inventory of BE GOOD TOO. I noted that there were no spare parts provided, no voltmeter, no tools to speak of except for a small case of home builders’ tools—certainly a questionable manner of equipping oneself for a leaving shore.

No time was allotted for becoming acquainted with the boat. Should one sail aboard a brand new boat without a primary level of familiarization? No member of the crew had, because to do this, time did not permit it, since there were future commitments to be fulfilled.

Casual? Overconfident? In a rush? From my perspective all of the above.

3) JIB LEAD: The self tacking jib lead from SELDEN never worked properly. I had noticed this on my test of the boat. SELDEN promised to send the correct fitting but it would take them another week to get the part to NY. Gunther, the owner, dismissed it, preferring to sail with the bad lead, opting for the replacement part be sent to the Caribbean for pick-up upon his arrival. I could not convince him to wait for it before setting off.

We were five months late, I must admit, with the delivery of his boat and he, obviously, was anxious to reach warm weather. Nevertheless, not a reason to leave a delivery of an item without which may put yourself, crew and boat at risk. I warned Gunther the bad jib lead would not hold up to strong winds for too long, especially on stbd-tack. In fact, and for this very reason, one of the first things to go wrong was the parting of the jib sheet.

Theoretically, because of the jury rig of the jib, the boat could not sail efficiently under the main alone. Had the boat been sailed with a proper jib lead and double reefed main, she could have been sailed with more speed up the wave face. Since she was slow (the skipper estimates 4-6 KNOTS) although I guess much slower, the boat was easily shoved backwards by the large rogue wave that hit them squarely. The disastrous effect was purely a matter of seamanship and a tight schedule.

4) RUDDER CONSTRUCTION: When I first saw the rudders as they were constructed I was concerned about their weight and how overbuilt they appeared. A complete overkill for a 42′ 10T cat, I thought. After the incident I thoroughly investigated the rudders’ construction. Alpha Yachts followed the standard specifications of the Edson Steering system rudder stock to tiller arm attachment and overbuilt the rest. Edson suggested two types: one with two locking bolts which affixed the rudder stock to the tiller arm, the other with a single smaller bolt and a key as is traditionally seen. The builder opted for the twin bolt set-up.

I have seen many rudders in my life: from custom to production catamarans ranging from 30-130′. Alpha Yacht’s was a monster. I tried to pick one up—it was overwhelming! Let’s get the record straight. The Alpha’s rudder consists of a 1.5″ stainless steel rudder post which tapers slightly at the bottom to receive the foam cored rudder blade. The rudder blade, itself, is affixed to the post by 3 horizontal and 2 vertical 3/8″ x 2″ wide thick stainless flat bar struts. They are all seam welded by a certified welder. I personally saw the welds. The rudder post is locked to the tiller arm by the use of two 3/8″ threaded bolts (not set screws, as they were identified in the article) with a 3/4″ bury that act as a lock, but also serve as a safety mechanism in case the boat is pushed backwards, so they could theoretically shear and leave the rudder undamaged. The massive tiller arm was a 3/4″ thick by 4″ wide stainless steel bar. Nonsense stated that the crew could not drop the rudder as it would float, is incredulous to say the least. At close to 130 lbs. of mainly solid stainless steel and a bit of foam, is floating, at all, possible?!

Let’s compare the Alpha 42′s rudder to a contemporary production 41′ cat that has been built more than 200 times by a major manufacturer. This production example has a smaller, 1.25″ diameter solid stock and 2 horizontal blades only, and no vertical blades to hold the rudder which also weighs 1/3 less.

I can say, with conviction, that the rudder of the Alpha 42 was completely overbuilt for the job. It is logical that the crew could not dislodge the rudder because the stock was slightly bent from being pushed violently backwards acting like a giant spring jamming itself in the upper and lower bearings. Only a crowbar, or attaching a line to winch the blade backwards, could possibly dislodge it. To know that a fighter jet will fly at Mach 2 forward but only at 50 mph in reverse, causing the plane’s rudders to flip back and fail, is elementary knowledge. As the captain described in his official insurance report “….no boat rudder could have withstood this”

5) ABANDONMENT: I was not on scene so I will refrain from commenting or criticizing the crews inability to fix the issue and their actions to leave the boat. The ocean is a chaotic environment. Put 4 people on a yacht, under duress, who are overconfident, on a tight schedule, with a minimum of tools on hand to fix problems, nor advanced preparation, establishes a too complex chemistry for outsider commentary. Nevertheless, I will always wonder WHY WASN’T A LOCATING BEACON LEFT ABOARD? The owner had a brand new EPIRB and the skipper a functioning, hand-held SPOT locator device. In fact I tracked their every move in the N. Atlantic with the help of this small device. The question will always remain: why weren’t either of these two locator devices left aboard to enable a salvage crew, the manufacturer or an insurance company to retrieve the boat? What does this tell us? There are far too many theories, most too controversial to mention.

At the end of the day, we have reached peace with the loss of our initial Alpha 42—a boat in which we invested our ultimate best. She was built like a tank. She withstood a major storm. I already knew that when testing her in the harshest conditions off Long Island. The proof that 4 sailors walked away, unharmed, had a chance to write about the incident, proves the boat protected them to the last minute. And to think that she was abandoned without a thought of retrieval! A 10T, 1000 sqft unlit, unmarked floating platform to be left as a hazard to navigation itself opens channels of wonderment… As noted above, was the boat flawless? Being our very first it had some minor, easily fixable issues; none of which reasoned abandonment. Yet in a perverted kind of way what happened is the best form of praise to the strength of our boat—she withstood 50+ knot winds, 20′ seas and a rogue wave. Much lesser conditions have put boats away forever. It should be noted that the area North of the Bermuda Triangle, especially in winter, has the highest waves on record. Confused warm water eddies and strong winter winds build towering seas. Commercial supertankers have been broken in half by 100′ monster rogue waves. The Alpha 42 was located in exactly that spot.

I am sure this writing will stir a new flurry of, in Charles Doane’s words, “armchair admirals.” 100′s of people who really wished to know the scoop behind the story picked up the phone to call me. I opted to leave it at that, however, after the publication of the May SAIL article I felt the need to publish my official statement.

The official insurance report submitted by the captain clearly blames the incident on a rogue wave. The owners have a new boat, another catamaran, and have been paid by the insurance company.

The crew is, thankfully, alive.

I hope that the incident has offered an element of the positive and that we all have learned something.

Our boat is gone and I hope that a poor fisherman in Spain will find her, salvage her and enjoy her with family and friends.

Gregor Tarjan
president, Aeroyacht Ltd

Gregor Tarjan, left, president of Aeroyacht, and his partner, boatbuilder Marc Anassis

Editor’s Note: This is Gregor’s statement in full as I received it. I’ve had my say, so I will not comment on it, except to note that I am not certain why he spells the boat’s name with two Es in Be. On the boat’s transom it was spelled with one E, so that is how I have always spelled it.

Also, I have more information regarding the insurer. Two days after we abandoned the boat, Falvey Insurance, the policyholder, commissioned a search. Two sorties were flown from Norfolk, Virginia, aboard a Lear 35 jet. The plane each time was only able to spend an hour on station at the vessel’s presumed location, and the search was not successful.

Motorboats, PWCs lead in Boating Fatalities

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-05-16 10:16

From Coast Guard Public Affairs

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Coast Guard released its 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics Wednesday, revealing that boating fatalities that year totaled 560 — the lowest number of boating fatalities on record.

From 2012 to 2013, deaths in boating-related accidents decreased 14 percent, from 651 to 560, and injuries decreased from 3,000 to 2,620, a 12.7 percent reduction. The total reported recreational boating accidents decreased from 4,515 to 4,062, a 10 percent decrease.

The fatality rate for 2013 of 4.7 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels reflected a 13 percent decrease from the previous year’s rate of 5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. Property damage totaled approximately $39 million.

“We are pleased that there have been fewer accidents on waterways in recent years and thank our partners for their work,” said Capt. Jon Burton, director of inspections and compliance at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters. “Together we will continue to stress the importance of life jacket use, boating education courses and sober boating.”

The report states alcohol use was the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 17 percent of deaths. Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and machinery failure ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.

Where the cause of death was known, 77 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned; of those drowning victims, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket. Where boating instruction was known, 20 percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction. The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats, personal watercraft and cabin motorboats.

The Coast Guard reminds all boaters to boat responsibly while on the water: wear a life jacket, take a boating safety course, get a free vessel safety check and avoid alcohol consumption.

To view the 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics, go HERE.

Changing transducers — “So you have a 5200 problem?”

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-05-16 02:00

Written by Ben Ellison on May 16, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

I’m tentatively proud of Gizmo’s 2014 forward transducer installs (which you can see better by clicking on the photo above). I knew it would be hard to remove the three ducers installed there in 2010 and “mistakes were made” during the replacement phase, but I’m fairly sure the boat is set up now to properly compare EchoPilot FLS with ForwardScan, and I also look forward to checking out the manly HD version of Navico StructureScan. Plus, there are yet other possibilities for the forward retractable casings and two new fixed transducers back aft…

The biggest problem was removing the big old Interphase FLS transducer, which I had installed with liberal quantities of 3M 5200 adhesive/sealant. Yes, it’s recommended for permanent bonds, and I’ve seen fine hardwoods fail before a good 5200 joint, but a protruding transducer on the keel could be easily knocked off in a hard grounding. I figured that wicked tough 5200 would maximize the possibility that the transducer would shear off instead of pulling its stem out, thus leaving the boat with a significant underwater hole. At any rate, I asked around and did some Googling, and one trick I came up with was the $4 Coghlan Pocket Saw you can see in the photo above. It did a nice job of separating the transducer and 5200 layer from the fairing block that I hoped to retain for the EchoPilot casing. But, as indicated by the scars on the transducer stem, more brutal techniques were required to get the darn thing to drop out of the boat…

Here’s the bilge access in Gizmo’s forward cabin, a significant reason why installing transducers here makes some sense. Note the pipewrench, two-pound maul, and most especially the long tapered electric drill bit. What ultimately got the old transducer to move was drilling around the stem — not a problem as the Echopilot casing required a bigger hole — and also injecting the area with some special gunk. But before discussing that, I’ll add that it was relatively easy to remove the old plastic housing for the DST800 to install a similar-size bronze Airmar B617 valved housing that will accommodate either the DST800 or the coming Simrad ForwardScan transducer. Note also the air conditioner and head flush water seacock hose that I detached, as it figures in the comedic end to this tale…

I can attest to the DeBond Marine Formula slogan, “This Stuff Really Works,” and that includes 5200. In fact, when I asked about DeBond at my wonderful local Hamilton Marine outlet, the savvy salesman’s immediate and deadpan response was, “So you have a 5200 problem?” Well, I explained, not really a problem (as the forward bilge has been bone dry ever since the 2010 install), but I am going for a redo. DeBond is not magic. It won’t melt 5200 so you can simply reverse an install, but it does slowly work away at the bond between the polysulfide and whatever surface it’s adhered to, and you can speed that process with a knife, wire saw, or drill.

Now, how do you make a small hole into a big hole? Hole saws have a center guide bit and are very hard to control if that bit is spinning in air. The trick was a set of Plastimo tapered wooden plugs (that are smart to have onboard anyway). I hammered one into the old Interphase hole, sawed off the remnant, and proceeded to use every size of hole saw I have between the EchoPilot’s 2.5″ stem diameter and its 3.25″ flange, the idea being to fair the flange into the already vertical Interphase block. That part went well, but please bear this in mind: When you dry fit a transducer housing, make sure you not only apply the interior nut, but also make sure there’s still enough thread left to snug down the transducer or blank plug. Also, be darn careful during the final install not to cross thread the nut so that you can’t tighten it properly and also can’t remove it. And be aware that a combination of those errors might lead you to call your daughter on a Sunday evening to squat beneath your boat with a wrench so you can desperately undo the 5200 mess you’ve created!

The aft transducer install went much more smoothly. The above photo shows the nice fairing block that comes with the Raymarine CPT-120 CHIRP sonar and downview transducer, and the inset illustrates how you can use its squared off flange to temporarily mount the block so you can run it safely through a tablesaw tilted to match the deadrise of your hull…

And here’s the finished install well aft of the forward transducers but forward of the propeller. The middle transducer is an Airmar 50/200 kHz that came with Gizmo and has served well with various Raymarine MFDs over the years. Finally, most forward is the new Airmar B75 medium frequency (80-130 kHz) CHIRP ducer that I’ll be able to switch between Garmin and Simrad displays. It’s nice to add that I took the main photo yesterday, more than 24 hours after the boat was launched, and the area is completely dry. (There will be a future entry about that blue water-based copper-free Pettit HydroCoat Eco anti-fouling paint I’m also testing.)

Unfortunately, it took a whole day to assure myself that the forward transducers are also completely sealed. That’s because I’d left that hose undone and it turned out that having the seacock shut off does not mean that the seacock is shut off. Which made for some busy moments as Gizmo sat in the travellift slings and I’m not happy about driving around for 18 months with a failed seacock, though I do have those tapered plugs. Oh, and I also have a Macris underwater light mounted near the forward transducers. I think that underlighting the bow may look pretty cool, plus the light could be useful if I ever come across a camera that fits in either the 2- or 2.5-inch casings. Note how I wedged the future ForwardScan casing to get it vertical and tried to sculpt the fairings hydrodynamically. I’m not sure how I did, but poor fairing should show up as a drastic drop in performance as speed increases. Testing is still a few weeks off, however, as I’m also replacing almost every other electronics component on poor Gizmo. It seemed like a good idea last fall.

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

What’s an eATON? I’m Glad You Asked

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-05-15 20:38

By Kimball Livingston Posted May 15, 2014

Ready for electronic aids to navigation? They’re here, in beta, though you may not see them yourself, soon-type soon. And please understand them as supplements, not replacements, for your favorite bells and whistles. And lights. This is an experiment, but I’ll call it the beginning of an inevitable evolution. And it’s only natural for the first deployment to take place in the waters closest to Silicon Valley.

In a prepared statement, the commander of Coast Guard Sector San Francisco, Capt. Gregory Stump, described these electronic aids to navigation—eATON—as an important initiative for the Coast Guard “as we explore the use of new technologies to enhance safety and protect the environment. There is no better place to evaluate this technology than the challenging waters of San Francisco Bay, and we look forward to receiving feedback from local mariners on how we can improve this service.”

At present there are 25 of these virtual aids, including five eATON marking the bridge towers on the western span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. According to the Coast Guard, speaking of all 25, “This suite of eATON is intended to assist mariners with navigation, particularly during periods of heavy fog or congestion on the Bay.”

There was about a quarter of a mile of visibility on January 7, 2013, when the 752-foot tanker, Overseas Reymar, rammed the underwater base of one of the Bay Bridge towers at about 11:20 a.m. The ship was unloaded, bound for sea.

The waters were less lucky on November 7, 2007, when the 902-foot container ship, Cosco Busan, well-loaded, thank you, gashed its side on the fender of the bridge’s Delta Tower and dumped more than 53,000 gallons of bunker fuel. That’s the Cosco Busan in the pic at top. Afterward, the name was changed to Hanjin Venezia.
Be sure to wave.

Both ships were equipped with plenty of technology to allow captain and pilot to avoid the human errors that caused those incidents, so we know that the incremental enhancements of virtual buoys do not, in themselves, make a game changer. But when it comes to navigational information, more is more.

At this stage, the eATON are operable, and all AIS and electronic charting systems should receive the data—but not all are coded to display it. The San Francisco Bar Pilots use the commercial version of Rose Point Navigation Systems software, which does display the eATON. The company’s recreational product, Coastal Explorer, has the functionality, but, as explained by senior support engineer Steven Hodgen, “Coastal Explorer supports these messages, although they are turned off by default, because most of the messages being broadcast these days are tests.

“To turn them on, go to Main Menu > Options… > AIS and look for a checkbox under the heading Other Targets called, “Show Aids to Navigation”, and check it. There are some new recommendations on symbology which we will be adding in a future update, so how they appear on the chart will be changing.”

As further explained by the Coast Guard, this early stage demo of eATON is operating on the premise that if you build it, they will come. That is, that more software providers will have the incentive to incorporate the capability of displaying eATON, and down the road it will be the new normal.

And no, what you see below, on the eastern span, has nothing to do with a ship collision. The old eastern span is going away quickly . . .

BLUE PLANET TIMES 2014-05-15 13:51:15

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-05-15 14:51

In 2006, your editor sailed Newport-Bermuda, the centennial edition, with Joe Harris and crew in an Open 50 that Harris hoped to race solo around the world. That hope never panned out, despite some successes in open ocean events. Now Harris has a Class 40, Gryphon Solo2, which he is working up for the Global Ocean Race, a four-leg circumnavigation that starts in September, Southamptoon to Auckland. The GOR has solo and doublehanded divisions. Harris will go solo. He’s been wanting it for a long time. For the Atlantic Cup, he teamed with Patrick O’Conner to win leg one, Charleston to New York. The finish was more stressful than he would have wished, however. Here is Joe Harris reporting -

May 14, 2014 (Finish Day)

I am writing to report the good news that we were able to persevere and win Leg 1 of the 2014 Atlantic Cup.

The last 24 hours was quite interesting so I will tell the tale. After getting out to a great start and flying along for 36 hours from Charleston to Cape Hatteras, the wind shut off and we drifted for a bit and then somehow got re-started slower than Pleiad and Dragon so fell from 1st place to 3rd place and were at one point 20 miles behind Pleiad and 15 miles behind Dragon….. yikes! Pat and I were pretty bummed as out as our light air performance kind of sucked and we were wondering how we could get back in the hunt. Luckily the wind picked up and then came on very strong out of the Northeast so were hard on the wind in 20 knots of wind and a very nasty seaway that caused the boat to slam mercilessly. We studied the weather carefully on our downloaded GRIB files and ran our routing program “Adrena” multiple times to choose the best course to NYC and managed to nail the layline from 80 miles out given the persistent wind shift to the East that lifted us and allowed us to avoid the costly offshore tacks that both Dragon and Pleiad had to make as they were further West and bumped into the Jersey Shore. Maybe they were looking for Schnooky or The Boss or The Donald at one of his casinos? Or the very large Chis Christie offering bridge traffic advice?? Not sure, but in any event, that was the difference so we regained the lead and pounded upwind all day, led by extensive turns on the helm hand steering, as the auto pilot could not handle the sea state.

As we approached Ambrose Light at the entrance to New York harbor around 11:00 PM, Pleiad was about 2 miles back but was gaining ground in the beam reaching conditions. They closed the gap to about 300 yards as we came screaming into the main shipping channels in the pitch black doing about 14 knots in 22 knots of wind- yeehah, yippe kay yeh mother$#@&*%! With Pleiad tight on our hip, we developed a strategy to turn hard right out of the main shipping channel (break right Maverick- break right!) and hoist our A3 gennaker in the downwind conditions and pick our way through the shoals to the Verrazano Narrows bridge. I think Pleiad was caught a bit by surprise and did not follow and we ended up at the bridge about 5 miles in front of them. It’s nice when a plan works out.

So we were cruising the last 6 miles from the Verrazano Bridge to the North Cove Marina just past the Statue of Liberty loving life and feeling good. Photographer and friend Billy Black came out to meet us and shoot “the money shot” of the boat backlit against the Statue of Liberty and Pat and I were posing and grinning. As we approached the finish line still under the A3, we got literally about 20 feet from the line when the wind shut off and the 4 knot foul current began carrying us backwards toward the bridge.

I nearly wet myself…… this could not be happening….. but it was. We found a vesper of wind and sailed up the line again and were again repelled from crossing the line as the wind quit and the tide took over. Unbelievable. We tried many more times- as the race tracker shows- but it looks like the path of a sailor gone insane…. Which was how we felt. Then Pleiad showed up and joined the fun and luckily they met the same fate and then Dragon joined the party and they were stymied as well. So it looked like maybe we were going to have to wait for the tide to turn and drift across the line as we could not buck the foul current with no wind.

Finally, a breeze sprang up just as I had gone below to commit Seppuku (ritual suicide by disembowelment carried out by samurai- it was the only honorable thing to do), and luckily Pat had the patience to hang with it and we steered well upriver of the finish mark and then floated down current to the mark and pulled a wicked U-turn around the mark and just barely poked the nose over to take the gun. God- what a relief. I let out a huge yell and we dropped the sails and watched with interest as Pleaid and Dragon duked it out in an incredibly close finish that Dragon took by a nose. Pretty amazing after 650 miles of racing that it came down to just seconds. A bizarre finish to an offshore distance race and not one I am anxious to repeat.

So we secured the Leg 1 “W”, which I am very happy about, as we worked very hard for it. We are now preparing for offshore Leg 2 from NYC to Newport which will start on Saturday at noon—Joe Harris

Marion-Bermuda Adds Youth Class

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-05-15 12:30

By Ray Cullum, Marion-Bermuda Race Posted May 15, 2014

Is it getting harder to find crew? Is it becoming a little more difficult for your trusted mates to move about the boat as nimbly as they once did? You might consider stacking the deck with a young group of bright, willing and enthusiastic sailors for the offshore trip of a lifetime.

The Marion Bermuda Race recognizes that there is an age gap in participants of offshore racing and understandably so. It takes time to have the means to invest in a solid cruising boat and the resources to put it together to do an offshore event. For years the Naval Academy and Mass Maritime have fielded boats with a select group of 18 to 22 year old sailors and have done very well. You don’t have to go to an academy to be a competent sailor and a good crew member. You just need a good boat!

So what is the opportunity? If you belong to a yacht club or boating organization you most likely have a pool of young sailors that would be extremely excited about sailing in an offshore race like the Marion Bermuda. But you don’t have to belong to a sailing organization, you can put an excellent crew of young adults together from friends and family you sail with.

The requirements are simple…crew members must be between the ages and 16 and 22 years of age and each boat must have a 3:1 ratio crew to adults. The remaining requirements will parallel what is required of every sailor doing the race (see Notice of Race) Look for additional details on the Youth Class on the Marion Bermuda Race web site in a couple of weeks.

We have already received an excellent response to the addition of the Youth Class and a number of boats are ready to participate. So don’t waste a moment, give a group of young enthusiastic sailors an opportunity to realize the joy of sailing offshore in a well founded boat and experience the joy in doing so.

Finns Fly: Take the Ride

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-05-15 12:12

Four years ago, the Finn Class invested in 10 stern cameras to capture the athletics involved in sailing these classic Olympic dinghies at the highest level. At the four championships since then, two medal races have been cancelled through lack of wind, one was sailed in very light winds, and then last week, finally, in France, at La Rochelle, the medals race for the Finn European championship was sailed in winds over 20 knots. Downwind, especially, it was a cranking ride. Britain’s Giles Scott won the medals race to wrap a regatta that he dominated all the way through. No other sailing class is as physical as the Finn.

Take the ride. (You may want to shut off the volume)

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