Friday, May 28, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
We had a sad Sunday on the Bay when a couple was found in the water and their sailboat sailing away. The wind was in the 30's and the seas were big and steep. These folks were sailing back from Half Moon Bay and very close to their destination inside the Gate. Neither made it home. I have been sailing inside the bay for 10 years and have never ventured much past the Gate in those years. I know it can be nice and gentle out there and it can also be life threatening in rough conditions. In addition, our boat does not have all the safety gear that I think is needed once you turn the corner. It's dangerous out their folks! Stay inside the bay unless you have all the equipment and knowledge you need. Have a mentor take you out on their boat so you can get a feel for some of the most dangerous waters in the west. Some friends from San Francisco sailed around the world and I asked them where the roughest water was. They said the first 100 miles was the worst. And what about your crew? Are they ready to go out there? I had a crazy friend who went out on a race out to the Farallons which are about 20 miles off the coast. She freaked out as they rounded the island as it was insanely rough. Unbelievably, she jumped off the boat and into the Pacific! They were able to get her back on board, however it goes to show you how crazy it can get and what your crew might do in a hairy situation. So folks, stay inside the bay until you have all the equipment, knowledge and experience to sail the frigid, dangerous waters of the Pacific.
Here is another take on this accident.
Monday, May 24, 2010
What a wild night! The wind was in the 30's as we headed out to Kaboom. We had a boat full of friends, food and fun. With the wind blowing hard, we had to motor sail to get towards our destination. They changed the location to Candlestick Point this year and it was 12 miles to the show. The boat did well and we made it in 2 hours. The waves calmed down closer to land and we found a nice spot to anchor. Paul set her down and the mud and the anchor did the rest. We were secure. We had about 2 hours to socialize and eat! Had a great spread and some wine to top it off. Just before the show, some friends from Got Wind and Water showed up and they said they would like to raft up. The wind had died a bit and so yes let's do this. Now we had eight more folks to join the party! Their radio was out and the cool part about the fire works is that they synch it to a great rock soundtrack. We put our speakers on the deck and cranked it up. The fire works were spectacular. The second song was Poker Face and happy faces were exploding around us. We were front and center and for the second year in a row, we scored on positioning the boat. Being anchored was nice for me as I didn't have to worry about moving the boat around through the crowd. We waited a little bit after the show so folks could clear out. Our sail home was with all sails up and the night sailing past San Francisco was excellent. Got home at 1am and was very happy with another safe and memorable show! Thanks KFOG!
Saturday, May 22, 2010
We are sailing to a spectacular fire works show tonight called KaBoom! Our favorite local rock station KFOG is throwing the party and we will be there front and center. They sync it up to a classic rock sound track and it is one of the west coast's best shows. Plus it's done on the water. Will post a full report on Monday! Here is last years Show. Turn it up!!!!
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Mostly, though, it was my perception of solo, RTW sailing as an epic, dangerous, and lonely challenge, requiring superhuman discipline, an ability to survive on little sleep, and the capability to fix, invent, and jury-rig your way around the globe. I got that perception from devouring the RTW sailing literature from the early days: Robin-Knox Johnston, Bernard Moitessier, Miles Smeeton, and many others. Also, from following the inspired craziness of the Vendee Globe. This canon elevates solo, RTW sailing to world-class adventure, matching anything you can find in mountaineering or exploration.
But now that Jessica is cruising serenely toward Sydney on her S&S 34 Ella's Pink Lady, about to conclude her voyage successfully and become a marketing superstar, I realize that it's time to update my perception.
I don't want to take too much away from her accomplishment. Any solo, RTW voyage is a big deal, and I sincerely doubt I would have fared as well. She was knocked down multiple times, slugged her way through gales and headwinds, and, at least early in the voyage, sometimes appeared on the verge of tears.
But after following her voyage I was struck by how much the nature of this sort of adventure has completely changed. It just doesn't feel very "solo" or "unassisted" anymore, and that takes the blood and guts out of it. Think of all the time Jessica spent on the sat phone, talking to her family and shore team. Problem with the autopilot or generator? Get on the horn with the manufacturer for step-by-by step repair instructions. Feeling lonely and blue? Call up your Mum for a chat and some bucking up. Need an emotional lift? Read the comments on your blog.
And then there is weather. Without doubt, the most challenging element of early voyages was a nearly complete inability to know what weather lay ahead in time to do anything about it. So part of the deal was having the snot knocked out of you on a regular basis. In the Southern Ocean, you got the snot AND the crap knocked out of you, and that was why it was such a hoary, intimidating place.
But both Jessica and Abby Sunderland (the other 16-year old who was up for a little global sail), have been on the receiving end of incredibly precise and detailed weather routing. So good that Abby commented that "it was like having driving directions." So good that I was amazed at how rare truly nasty weather was. In fact, I would venture to guess that Jessica experienced less extreme weather, and a lower average wind speed, than most if not all previous solo RTW voyages.
Continue reading by clicking here.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
I am looking forward to the Baja Ha Ha this October. Since I am a music lover and an iPod owner, I will need to find a way to keep my iPod charged on this two week trip down the coast of Baja Mexico. One possible source of power is solar. I found a cool charger called Freeloader. It can charge many types of hand held gagets including an iPhone which has my chartploter on it. Another possibility is Juicebar. I will do some more investigating to find out which one is best and let you know the results. They are both in the $50 range. If you have tried either product and have an opinion, please let me know.
Friday, May 14, 2010
On or around 7 May 2007 the s/v Sean Seamour II was struck by a what is believed to be a “freak wave”, during Subtropical Storm Andrea. The sailboat was broadsided by a wave that did an great deal of damage to the boat and sent the crew flying about the cabin doing 360’s and causing its Master to break his ribs. The wave caused the sailboat to immediately list starboard.
After a harrowing time riding the waves a EPIRB signal was received by the USCG and a C-130 over fight located the wave riding crew. A J-Hawk Helicopter was dispatched to the area and launched a rescue swimmer, who injured his back during the insertion into the water, when a wave dropped from beneath him and he dropped some 50 to 70 feet. All of this done in 50 to 70 foot seas, with winds estimated at 80 knots.
To continue here are the captain’s own words:
10 Lessons learned from the Incident
1. No two passages are alike, do not consider that setting sail at what is deemed the most appropriate time is reason for less vigilance. Weather routers are not only for racers, they add a level of security through objective analysis of far broader data than one can access on board within economically reasonable parameters.
2. All security equipment should all be grouped together in the most central, least vulnerable and most accessible area inside the vessel. Heavy weather requires as much crew as operationally possible to be secure inside the vessel where security equipment can be accessed in anticipation of catastrophic events. The most vulnerable element of a sailboat is the rig. Such was the case for Sean Seamour II with the exception of cold water protection suits that were in a rear port deck locker that ended up under the crushed rig. Had these been kept with all other security equipment in a compartment at the base of the companionway the crew would have been able to don these after the first knockdown and avoid hypothermia.
3. Pumps are never redundant: whale pumps are great, I had three installed on board, only the cockpit pump could have been used, the stern and bow units were not accessible due to debris or water levels. Again these should be centrally installed on the highest floor level within the vessel. 2000gph electric Rule pumps should be permanently installed in tandem to avoid debris plugging the pump. Ours had to be constantly monitored against floating paper and other debris.
4. Redundancy saved my crew but not my vessel. The second EPIRB I always considered a luxury, eleven years later it still tested operational, which it ended up being. Had I planned this redundancy with purpose it would also have been sent for recertification, would have been kept with the main unit inside for deployment, would have been initiated and efforts to save the vessel accomplished. Redundancy is a must, but making sure you are not carrying duds as a feel good notion of redundancy is almost as important.
5. Reliability of equipment, considering the above, both ACR 406 EPIRB units tested operational yet both performed below specifications. The ACR Globalifix died within thirty minutes after being sent for verification and recertification two weeks prior, the second old ACR self tested positive but battery life was only ten hours, had we been further out to sea its remaining ten hours of battery would have been insufficient to guide help our way.
6. Lashing is too often considered and applied to on deck equipment, openings, doors, etc. Within the vessel we generally secure for heavy weather thrashing forgetting what happens during knockdowns and 360’s. Start with floorboards – these are the first to pop under such circumstances either through simple gravitational action, let alone kinetic energy that can be created during a knockdown. Besides half of my floorboards that were not secured, the one most forgotten in my case was the salon table which detached and was probably the cause for half of my ten broken ribs. Had it knocked me unconscious or worse my crew would have likely perished.
7. Gulf Stream, staying away from the core is not sufficient when confronting opposing direction weather systems. I left the stream well before the storm but did not take into account the size of the eddies in that area. I had used the stream carefully avoiding the eddies in my 1996 crossing, but over the past five years I had noticed the eddies diminishing in strength in the North Atlantic. Had I tacked further east from the night of the 4th I would have probably been less punished by Andrea. New data seems to correlate this.
8. Stowing and backup usage of vital electronic equipment must be designed into contingency plans. Sean Seamour II had most everything but contingency plans did not take into account such catastrophic circumstances. VHF, a backup antennae was pre-wired to enable the DSC VHF to function, but the stowed antennae was unfindable after the 360 which crushed the rig. The SSB antennae used one of the backstays, gone with the rig, also the tuner was positioned too low and was shorted by water. The Iridium satfone should have been kept in a waterproof skin, it was soaked in the 360.
9. Securing the vessel at least for the short term must remain a priority. With the knowledge that the GPIRB had been initiated securing the vessel was to be my first objective by dumping the rig, 100 meters of chain and bow anchors and plugging the mast passage. These actions would have secured the vessel for at least extra hour or two, taking other actions could have put us under way with engine propulsion. Although for years I have prepared myself mentally for this type of situation, given the level of panic, physical trauma and the ensuing disorientation too much time was lost attempting to get electronic equipment to function — if it doesn’t work it is not going to, redundancy yes dependence no.
10. Although substantial time had been dedicated to briefing the crew prior to departure on the security equipment inventory, whereabouts and deployment, showing them how collision mats, rule pumps and other equipment should be used, as well as other procedures such as rerouting whale pumps, effective drills are far better. Had I been incapacitated during these catastrophic events I am not sure the crew would have survived.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Barefoot running is all the rage at the moment. If you have not read "Born to Run" yet, you should get a copy. What a great book! The book looks at the current state of running in hi-tech shoes and how we have more injuries now than ever. When you run barefoot, you naturally run on the balls of your feet instead of your heels with a Nike strapped to your foot. It also traces the history of barefoot running and how the Indians from New Mexico can run barefoot 200 miles at a time. I don't run barefoot but I do run on the balls of my feet by taking on massive hills in a park near my house. Running uphill naturally puts you there as it is impossible to run uphill on your heels. I have been running almost everyday for 8 years without injury. And the cardio workout is awesome. I am 6'6" and 260. I think that says it all. The pounding I would take running on a flat sidewalk would not allow my body to be able to handle the punishment. If you want to keep in shape for sailing or any other pursuit, head to them thar hills and go up!
I also have a friend that swears by stretching before a workout. I never stretch. In the book, they took a bunch of runners and showed them stretches and asked them to stretch before every run. The other group did no stretching. The group that stretched had 30% more injuries then the non stretch group. Amazing but true!
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
My proposed remedy for his suburban stress was the somewhat unoriginal recipe of a Caribbean island, gorgeous weather, a seaworthy vessel, and copious amounts of rum. His unexpected response after six years of rewarding lock-down, was, 'I'm in!'
After arriving at the Moorings marina in Road Town, the capitol of Tortola, home to our sleek 55-foot monohull, we were introduced to our captain and chef, Australian couple Tom and Jaquie. But shortly after we toured our elegantly appointed cabins, Barry started with queries of cell phone availability and Internet service.
Wind can be defined simply as air in motion. This motion can be in any direction, but in most cases the horizontal component of wind flow greatly exceeds the flow that occurs vertically. The speed of wind varies from absolute calm to speeds as high as 380 kilometers per hour (Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, April 12, 1934). In 1894, strong winds in Nebraska pushed six fully loaded coal cars over 160 kilometers in just over three hours. Over short periods of time surface winds can be quite variable.
Wind develops as a result of spatial differences in atmospheric pressure. Generally, these differences occur because of uneven absorption of solar radiation at the Earth's surface (Figure 7n-1). Wind speed tends to be at its greatest during the daytime when the greatest spatial extremes in atmospheric temperature and pressure exist.
Continue reading here.
Monday, May 10, 2010
If you are looking in the used boat market for a well built cruising boat, why not look at some Canadian sailboats. If you can find one, they say the Niagra 35 is one of the best for a cruising couple. Roomy and comfortable at sea, this boat will take you there in style. We have an Aloha 34 next to our boat and she looks like a winner. Check out all these highly recommended examples
Friday, May 07, 2010
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Like all of us, David is only here in Mexico this week because the of the air travel shambles resulting from Iceland’s runaway Eyjafjallajokull volcano. He’s part of a group of top North American competitors who couldn't get flights to the French Olympic Regatta in Hyeres
Those of us who know David know he is one of the most determined and focused individuals you will ever meet. He just never gives up. Whether it's during an upwind heavy air grind and he is tight on your hip, or if it is a sail back to the harbor after a long day on the water, he will always be sailing his hardest. After training with him on and off for the last five months, I found out he purposely puts himself in the most disadvantage position in our speed tests and drills just to test his abilities to their fullest. It's that tenacity and his Merchant Marine training that combined to save a life last night.
At 10:30 pm yesterday, David along with Rob Crane and Clay Johnson, were awakened by frantic knocking on the door of their villa. A man wearing a kiteboarding harness, board shorts and a rash guard excitedly told David that his friend was lost out in the bay. He knew there was a powerboat at the villa. Could they help go search for him. The man had been kiteboarding with his friend after the wind died in Banderas Bay. He lost sight of his friend and decided to swim for shore. The guys jumped to action. While David tried to ascertain exactly what the situation was, Rob immediately went to the other villa to get the keys to the coach boat. Within minutes David and the kiteboarder were headed out in the 25-hp 14' RIB to search for the lost sailor.
Dave recounts the events of the rescue: "I didn't know what to make of this guy pounding on the door so late at night. Once I determined there was a legitimate emergency we immediately acted." The kiteboarder who had made a swim for it was picked up by local fisherman. They ignored his plea to go search for his buddy and was brought to the Riviera Nayarit Marina. The guy had passed out from exhaustion and shock after being picked up by the fisherman but had recovered enough by the time they docked to go find help for his friend.
Dave was formulating a plan on how to find the lost sailor from the get-go. His training as a graduate from Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy and as a 3rd Class Merchant Marine officer was put to good use. Dave goes on: "The first thing we needed was the key to the boat and to get an idea what the current was doing over the past three to four hours this guy was in the water." Dave was in the inflatable within minutes with the exhausted kiteboarder heading out into Banderas Bay, the second largest bay in North America, on a search and rescue mission.
Dave continued: "We first motored fives miles up the beach to where they launched, to make sure their car was still there. I brought him (the kiteboarder who was rescued by the fisherman) in close and he waded ashore to check the car. He flagged down a police officer and gave him a report on his missing friend. After that we motored to the last spot he saw his friend out in the bay. That's the spot where I started to run a search grid."
Because the 3/4 moon provided better visibility looking back into shore and based on the prevailing winds, Dave motored southwest offshore for another five miles and started his grid search first heading southeast. This was based on his best estimate of current and drift of the stricken sailor. As it turns out it was a smart move. "I motored as far out as I felt comfortable for my own safety in such a small boat and then started the grid pattern. I planned on running a five-mile square grid. I motored for two minutes at a time and then turned off the engine to listen and look. We had a big flashlight and it was amazing how much marine life was out there. I saw dolphins and all sorts of fish and you could hear the whales spouting. I didn't see any sharks but you know they were somewhere out there."
It was on his second pass that Dave found the lost sailor. "He was laying on his sail which has an inflatable section that kept him afloat, but he was mostly submerged." "We got him and his board and sail in the boat and put a jacket on him. He was pretty cold at that point." Dave arrived safely back at the marina at 3:00 am with the two kiteboarders.
On reflection Dave had this to say: "It was neat how all my Merchant Marine training was so naturally retrieved. There was good visibility because of the clear skies and good moonlight, and relatively smooth seas. I was supposed to be in France this week racing but because of the volcano, I ended up in Mexico instead."
I happen to agree with his next statement. "I think the guy is extremely lucky."
"I have no desire to return to Europe with all its false gods. They eat your liver out and suck your marrow and brutalize you. I am going where you can tie up a boat where you want and the sun is free, and so is the air you breathe and the sea where you swim and you can roast yourself on a coral reef....(1)"
IN EARLY MARCH 1969, THE FRENCH-COLONIAL SINGLE- handed circumnavigator Bernard Moitessier, aboard his unique 39 foot steel ketch Joshua, rounded Cape Horn and stood to the north "outside" the Falkland Islands for the long run uphill to England to finish first and fastest in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race around the world.(2)
Joshua was so far ahead of the other entrants that winning was almost a certainty, barring any unforeseen emergency-and there were few exigencies that the capable and versatile Frenchman could not handle, including Cape Horn, which Moitessier had now doubled twice in his long sailing career. Waiting for Moitessier would be the cash prize of $25,000, the trophy, and the inevitable storm of noto- riety, adulation, and perhaps a million dollars in books, endorse- ments, public appearances, emoluments of all kinds to say nothing of the nationalistic pride of beating the English at their own game, and winning the Legion d'honneur.
Joshua at the moment was a shoo-in. Then something happened. Moitessier changed course, headed eastward along the Roaring Forties (after having already crossed his outbound track) on a second nonstop circumnavigation, automatically dropping out of the Times race.
In his log, and in a long letter composed for his publisher, which he hoped to give to a passing ship, Moitessier's reasons were although he professed to be of sound mind weird in the extreme, incomprehensible at best. He was in a region noted for phenomena and hallucinations, which had affected many lone voyagers such as Captain Slocum (for whom Joshua was named), Al Hansen, and Vito Dumas. Had he succumbed to some strange mental unbalance? Had he just plain gone nuts?
"Why am I doing this? Imagine yourself in the forest of the Amazon. Suddenly you come upon a small temple of an ancient, lost civilization. You are not simply going back and say, "I have found a temple, a civilization no- body knows." You are going to stay there, try to decipher it . . . and then you discover that 100 kilometers on is another temple, only the main temple. Would you return?"(3)
But no. How could anyone understand? It is this thing, this strange cosmic dimension, which time takes. You feel as if you could sail on for a thousand years....
Read more here.
If you enjoy reading about sailing legends, here is one more, Tristan Jones.