Saturday, September 29, 2007

Off to Abaco!

We are off to Abaco in the Bahamas for a week with our best friends Frank and Leslie. They have rented a beautiful home on the water and now it is time for a little vacation! We plan to do some scuba, sail, golf, tennis and relax in the sand. I have never been to the Bahamas so I am really looking forward to it. I will have a full report upon my return. Wish us a bon voyage!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Classic Plastic - The Boat That Changed Everything!

When the selection committee of the American Sailboat Hall of Fame considered boats for induction this year, one boat was an instant consensus pick. No question, no argument, no doubt. No wonder--it was the Cal 40, the boat that changed everything.

When I assigned a young staff member to write a profile of the Cal 40 and told him that when it was introduced in 1963 it was considered a radical and possibly dangerous racing design, he gave me one of those "jeez, he's lost it" looks. I couldn't blame him. The Cal 40 doesn't have the predatory look of today's ocean racers, no angles, sharp edges or towering fractional rig. But, make no mistake, it was a pred tor, one that preyed on conventional thinking.

The Cal 40's gently dipping sheerline, curve spoon-bow, counter stem and squatty sailplan gave it a deceivingly soft appearance. But there was nothing soft below the waterline. In an era of wineglass-shaped hulls with deep, stack bilges, the Cal 40 had a shallow dinghy-like hull with firm cheeks. The keel was a fin. The rudder-gasp!-was not attached to the keel, and this was heresy.

Conventional wisdom made the rudder a hinged extension of the keel. On the Cal 40 it was a freestanding spade at the end of the water line. What it did back there was to give the helmsman exquisite control of the boat, particularly in fast off-wind sailing. Perhaps the reason it had not appeared earlier on big boats was that offshore boats of the time were rarely in danger of going fast enough to need a spade rudder.

The Cal 40 needed it. While other displacement boats were at the mercy of the law of hull speed, the Cal 40 thumbed its nose at it. The shape of the hull and its appendages combined with relatively light weight gave the boat the ability to get up on the waves and surf. Sailing 40-foot boat had never been so thrilling. Read more...

Blown Forecast

I was all set to go for a solo sail yesterday. I checked the NOAA forecast on (great one stop resource for bay area sailors) and the forecast had gone from 10-20 to 5-10 kts for the day. Bummer. Maybe I won't go. Went for my daily run in the hills by the bay and there was some pressure coming from the NW. It felt like your normal morning build to a 15-25 kt day. Got home and there was an email from the local TV station saying the fog was back and to expect a cool down. Now how could it be foggy at the coast and only 5-10?? Did some work and kept looking at the real time updates and by 11am it was up to 17 kts. I look again at the NOAA forecast and now it too has been updated saying 15-25. I am going sailing! I get up to Emeryville at 1:30 and it is howling with whitecaps all over. I double reef the new mainsail and head out. Once out of the channel, I set the sails and I am off in winds of 25-30. 5-10 my arse! The fog is flooding the bay and the waves are big. I have just a sliver of the jib unfurled and I am doing 6-7 on a reach. It's almost too much wind! I head for the Bay Bridge to get a little bit of a break using the wind shadow off of TI. It mellows out a little but as soon as I peek out the other side it's blasting again. I tack and get sucked under the bridge with a nice ebb tide flowing. I take a nice reach up the side of TI and it is really strong with winds over 35 and very large waves. The Addiction is loving it and so am I. The city is shrouded in fog and the BofA building is mostly covered. I am out on one of the windiest days of the summer! I have been out for about 3.5 hours and decide I have had plenty and head in. As I am surfing in, the speedo hits 8.5. Not too shabby! For a day when I was not going to go out, this was an amazing afternoon! Check out the windspeed chart from windandtides below and you will see the gusts were approaching 40!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pics of the Day

"I told you that cow tipping only pisses them off!"

"They say you are highly intelligent, but who is in the boat and who is in the water?"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Amazon Shows Off New Music Store

Amazon is debuting it's new music store which features DRM free music. That's doesn't mean free music, it means there are no restrictions on the music. Music lovers rejoice! iTunes has all sorts of caveats as far as who can listen, how many times you can burn a CD, and how many computers can play the song. Amazon just gives you a nice little mp3 file that has no restrictions. Also, the new store is compatible with Macs and the songs will play on any type of mp3 player. They also feature over 2 million songs from many of the major labels. Check it out here.

Water Park in China

Click for a larger view.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Northern Lights Explained

What causes the Northern Lights? Think of it this way...

Somebody throws handfulls of confetti in front of a huge fan. Soon it looks like a snowstorm in the room as the air is filled with tiny bits of paper.

Another person stands on the other side of the room with a big vacuum cleaner, holding the nozzle up into the air. A third person holds an electrified metal heating grid over the opening of the vacuum nozzle.

The vacuum starts to pull confetti out of the air, but before the bits of paper can enter the nozzle, they hit the grid - bursting into flame.

The Sun's magnetic field (the fan) throws charged particles from its atmosphere (the confetti) out into space (the room). As these particles near the Earth they are pulled in by its magnetic field (the vacuum), which pulls them down to the magnetic poles (the nozzle). Before they can reach the Earth, the charged particles hit the Earth's atmosphere (the grid) and collide with the gases found there. The reaction between those particles and the gases creates energy, and the energy is given off as light - the Northern Lights.

Trivia Question: Everyone talks about the northern there a southern lights and if so what is the official name?? Answer soon!

Throw Out Your TV!

Here is a very comprehensive list of many of the websites that offer TV shows and movies online. They are all free and easy to access. Have fun!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sailing Quote

"That's what a ship is, you know, it's not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that's what a ship needs. But what a ship is,... really is, is freedom". -Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow

Jimmy's New Sled

Earlier this year, Mr. Buffett purchased a new sloop. Her name is "Groovy" and she is berthed in St. Barthelemy, FWI. She's a Tofinou 9.50 (about 30'), designed by Michel Joubert, and said to be as fast as she is expensive. Since were talking about books, take a lounge in a hammock and read his round the world trip on his classic Grumman amphibious plane, called "A Pirate Looks at Fifty." Trying to land his plane in any water area was a diaster as the athorities thought he had to be a drug runner. He got around it sometimes by giving the feds his t-shirts and CD's. Here is a look at GROOVY!

Classic Reads

"We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half-full of cocaine and a whole galaxy of multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers... also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls. But the only thing that worried me was the ether. There is nothing more irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge..."

-- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
----Hunter S. Thompson

Friday, September 21, 2007

More Bonehead Moves!

Life Explained

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

"Not very long," answered the Mexican.

"But then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. I have a full life."

The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat."

"And after that?" asked the Mexican.

"With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise."

"How long would that take?" asked the Mexican.

"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years," replied the American.

"And after that?"

"Afterwards? Well my friend, that's when it gets really interesting," answered the American, laughing. "When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions? Really? And after that?" asked the Mexican.

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends."

And the moral of this story is: ......... Know where you're going in life... you may already be there.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Love This Shot

Click it!

Birthday Celebration!

So today is my 49th birthday. The weather looks good for a birthday sail on the bay. My friends Ed and Yvonne share my birthday week and they will be joining me for some cruising on Addiction (our Newport 30). We have owend this 1981 sloop for 7 years now and she has turned out to be a dream come true. We just installed a killer sound system with speakers attached to the dodger. We can hook up an ipod and it sits in the cockpit so we can control the playlist and volume without having to go down to the nav station. Should be a beautiful day on the bay and a great way to celebrate 49 years on the planet! Here's a pic of our boat - Addiction.

Click the pic for a much larger view.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Pic of the Day

Click me!

Talk Like a Pirate Day 9-19

Today is the big day! Get out their and make somebody walk the plank!

Handy phrases and vocab:

Ahoy: Hey!
Avast: Stop!
Aye: Yes
Black spot: to be 'placin' the black spot' be markin' someone for death.
Booty: treasure
Buccanneer: a pirate who be answerin' to no man or blasted government.
By the Powers!: an exclamation, uttered by Long John Silver in Treasure Island!
Cat o' nine tails: whip for floggin' mutineers
Corsair: a pirate who be makin' his berth in the Med-...Medi-...that sea 'tween Spain and Africa, aye!
Davy Jones' Locker: the bottom o' the sea, where the souls of dead men lie
Doubloons: pieces of gold...
Fiddlers Green: the private heaven where pirates be goin' when they die.
Furner: a ship which be yer own, not one ye steal an' plunder.
Gentlemen o' fortune: a slightly more positive term fer pirates!
Go on the account: to embark on a piratical cruise
Grog: A pirate's favorite drink.
Jack: a flag or a sailor
Jolly Roger: the skull and crossbones, the pirate flag!
Keelhaul: a truly vicious punishment where a scurvy dog be tied to a rope and dragged along the barnacle-encrusted bottom of a ship. They not be survivin' this.
Landlubber: "Land-lover," someone not used to life onboard a ship.
Lass: A woman.
Lily-livered: faint o' heart
Loaded to the Gunwales (pron. gunnels): drunk
Matey: A shipmate or a friend.
Me hearty: a friend or shipmate.
Me: My.
Pieces o' eight: pieces o' silver which can be cut into eights to be givin' small change.
Privateer: a pirate officially sanctioned by a national power
Scallywag: A bad person. A scoundrel.
Scurvy dog!: a fine insult!
Shiver me timbers!: an exclamation of surprise, to be shouted most loud.
Son of a Biscuit Eater: a derogatory term indicating a bastard son of a sailor
Sprogs: raw, untrained recruits
Squadron: a group of ten or less warships
Squiffy: a buffoon
Swaggy: a scurvy cur's ship what ye be intendin' to loot!
Swashbucklin': fightin' and carousin' on the high seas!
Sweet trade: the career of piracy
Thar: The opposite of "here."
Walk the plank: this one be bloody obvious.
Wench: a lady, although ye gents not be wantin' to use this around a lady who be stronger than ye.
Wi' a wannion: wi' a curse, or wi' a vengeance. Boldly, loudly!
Yo-ho-ho: Pirate laughter

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pic of the Day - Six Rainbows at Once.

They say there are six rainbows in this picture. Possibly from light reflected off of the lake. I only see three. From Norway. Click it to see the larger view.

Mini Transat Starts This Weekend

I don't feature many posts about racing but this is about as extreme and compelling as it gets. France to Brazil, 4200 miles, 30 days of racing on a tiny boat, single hand. Are they nuts? Watch this great video of one man's campaign to race for the roses.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A New Island in the Pacific!

I saw this before but this is the complete series of photos. Imagine you are sailing towards the the South Pacific and you come upon some debris in the water for as far as the eye can see. What is it?? Click here to find out.

4 Billion Years of Evolution - Carl Segan

Sunday, September 09, 2007

History Lesson: Tow In Surfing

Click the pic for a bigger view.

Tow-in Big Wave surfing was not born overnight. Peabi, known as Jaws, was there way before our time, creating huge waves for hundreds of years. It was us that didn't find out about it until very recently. Only a handful of people knew about the place, but no one dared to surf it until they came up with this new way of surfing that enabled man to ride bigger waves. Back in 87' or 88', I was staying at this house called Jungle House, where Bret, one of the strapped crew lived, and Kalama, Laird, Mark, Mike, Rush, and all the boys used to hang out, party and talk about waves and new maneuvers. I remember their stories fascinating me and wishing I could feel the same sensation.

I remember them talking about this place called Jaws, miles upwind from Hookipa, where the waves hold up till, who knows? Back then they weren't thinking of surfing there, they were trying to figure out how to sail there. One day, some guys made it through the big close out sets in Hookipa and started sailing upwind. It took them approximately an hour and a half to get there, but they made it to Jaws and rode a couple of waves. It wasn't that big, but large enough to scare' em and give' em the taste of how powerful and destructive the waves are. As far as I know, this was the first attempt of people trying to ride waves in Jaws.

A long time ago, surfers used to go down in the pineapple fields and sit on a cliff just to watch those waves, and even thought of surfing there. They called it Dome's because of the dome house at the corner of the road before the Atom blaster. Someone once said laughing, "there ain't many places named before anyone surfs the spot!"

Around the same time, some guys like Laird Hamilton tried to windsurf Jaws. Laird Hamilton moved to Maui, started all kinds of new things and blew people's minds. Suddenly, he was the world second speed windsurfer, strongest big-wave waterman, and paddled many international channels and canals. Laird was also trying his idea of having the foot stick to the surfboard when doing aerials. He made his dorky Velcro booties and put the other side on the deck. People were laughing at his ideas and dorky looks, but he was dead serious. He once said "You can never be afraid to be a kook. If you do you will never learn anything new, and that is a lot worse than being laughed at." After trying many schemes, the idea of soft footstraps on a surfboard struck, and many people started bust huge airs and spins. With these straps on big waves, you could suck up the bumps on the face and keep the surfboard more easily in control.

Meanwhile in Dabu, Laird, Darrick Doerner, and Buggy Kerbox started to surf outer reefs with the power of a Zodiak to avoid the scene in Wainea. Paddling out to outer reefs was dangerous and hard enough, and paddling into waves, almost impossible. Those waves were hard to get by paddling, with huge risks of getting hurt, breaking boards and even drowning at times.

They thought of using this method of wakeboarding and getting pulled by the zodiak to create enough speed even when the waves weren't peeling. They tried it and each rode 10 - 15 waves an hour and had the best time of their lives. All of these experiments came together for their attempt to try riding the waves at Jaws. It was definitely the opening of a new realm for them.

That was more than ten years ago. Since then, with the evolution of their sport, the equipment and designs of boards have changed so drastically. With this progression in surfing, they faced some close calls, which made them very aware of the huge risks they are taking and they started training for rescues.

No matter what it is, starting something new is always hard and takes a lot of time and effort. It may look easy to ride those massive waves using jet skis, but it took many years and much experimentation to get there, so other people can now follow their footsteps and enjoy the thrill of riding the monsters.

Riding big waves at Jaws is not just a winter thing. They live with the thought of riding it all year long. They train, in the winter doing many other activities, which keeps them in shape and stay aware of the water and the other elements.

After facing a very dangerous near-death incident, every one of the members took a Rescue and CPR course and constantly trained together with lifeguards. They simulated every situation imaginable and strengthened their teamwork to avoid risks. The fact that they all rely on each other in times of peril brought them closer than ever. To ride these dangerous waves, you need to be a good surfer, a damn good surfer, but that's not good enough. You have to be mentally ready. You have to want it very badly and be willing to wait for the day because you will be waiting, waiting a long time, and you have to be ready to deal with the monster at anytime.

In an article I just read, Gerry Lopez states, "I recently realized the importance of waiting time in surfing. In fact, I feel the real essence of surfing lies in waiting for the waves."

It is so true when you think of it. Waiting for the waves, which is never permanent or predictable makes you learn about life and how you should deal with it. You should never rush or panic. You have to be patient and now exactly what you want. Don't get in a wrong current and believe in your instinct. So many things go through your head, but you have to keep calm and go for the right one.

There is another famous quote of Gerry's that often stays in my mind "The hardest thing in surfing is being there". You have to be ready to ride the waves but you never know when they will come or when they will be good, but you want to be in the best shape to ride them the way you really want. It's a constant battle of mind and body and it can become your whole life's work. Tow-in surfers have dedicated their lives to surfing and the ocean. They have waited for a long time and have taken years to prepare for the waves. And it's never over. As the swells are created in the Aleutian seas every winter, these surfers keep surfing themselves and wait for THE ONE time and again.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Share your Playlists With The Entire World!

So I have been working with iTunes since the day it came out in January 2001. It is an amazing app that can do many things. One of my first frustrations, however, was that I had all this muic and I could only listen to it on my computer. Then along came the iPod and that helped. Then Airport Express came next and I could beam my desktop music down to my stereo in the family room. That was way cool. I have several in the house and now with a little app called Airfoil (this app allows you to use any app for broadcasting, not just iTunes), I can beam the music anywhere in the house as long as I have an Airport in that room. Very sweet. But still limiting. What if I want to share my latest playlist with my friend in Delaware? Even Airport Extreme isn't that strong! So I stumbled upon ths cool website that allows me to share a good portion of my playlists in iTunes with the entire world!!! Now that is one sweet broadcaster! No, not a broadcaster, but rather a website that allows you to upload your playlists in .xml and then share with anyone you want. Now I can share my playlists with you. The best's free! If you would like to hear some of my cool tunes and share your playlists with the ones you love, click here.

Land Sailing

This looks like a lot of fun. You could do it just about anywhere. Check out the vid here.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Great Article on Steve Fossett

No matter where he pitches up on the globe, Steve Fossett has always managed to phone home. Steve Fossett's life has become one long adventure. With the aid of his satellite mobile, Fossett has rung his long-suffering wife of 39 years, Peggy, from Bournemouth, having just completed the first solo non-stop flight around the world…from Tanzania where he had climbed Kilimanjaro…from a Royal Australian Air Force rescue helicopter which had lifted him to safety from the Coral Sea where sharks and saltwater crocodiles were queuing up for lunch…from Boston where he had run the marathon…from Le Mans where he had completed the 24-hour car race…from Calais where he had swum the English Channel…from the frozen wastes of Alaska where he was competing in a 1,165-mile dog-sled race…from every remote outpost you can think of where they stage ballooning, 'iron man' triathlons, cross-country skiing marathons or whatever.
Alarmingly for his family and friends, such as Sir Richard Branson who describes his close pal as "the world's greatest living adventurer", not a word has been heard from Fossett since his private plane went missing over the Nevada desert on Monday. Having set 116 world records or 'firsts' in the air and on water, he was looking for a suitable stretch of land on which to challenge the world land-speed record.
Part Christopher Columbus, part Charles Lindbergh and part Phileas Fogg - the 63-year-old Chicago billionaire financier was the first man to circumnavigate the world single-handedly in a balloon - I last interviewed Fossett during a brief lull in his activities in 2000 when he told me: "There is still something very, very romantic about going round the world, either by plane, boat or balloon - and I am very much a romantic."
Perhaps it was his failure to win a place on his school swimming or cross-country teams that explains his craving to test the outer limits of human endeavour. "As a boy, I always read biographies of the great adventurers. I kind of grew up on National Geographic with its accounts of fantastic adventures. Maybe that's why I climbed my first mountain at the age of 11. My own adventures have gradually taken over my life. This is what primarily I do, much more so than business." Read on.

60 Days At Sea

Erden has been rowing the Pacific for 60 days now in his quest to reach Australia. He has about 1500nm under his belt with another 4500nm to go. He hopes to stop at Christmas Island for a break but that is another 1500nm away. So far he has done amazingly well. Check out his logs of the trip here.

Shark Attack

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Quote of the Day

The sea lies all about us. The commerce of all lands must cross it. The very winds that move over the lands have been cradled on its broad expanse and seek ever to return to it. The continents themselves dissolve and pass to the sea, in grain after grain of eroded land. So the rains that rose from it return again in rivers. In its mysterious past it encompasses all the dim origins of life and receives in the end, after, it may be, many transmutations, the dead husks of that same life. For all at last returns to the sea – to Oceanis, the ocean river, like the ever-flowing stream of time, the beginning and the end.”

(Rachel Louise Carson) The Sea Around Us [1951], ch.14

Pic Of The Day

Click the pic for a larger view.

Doin' The Delta 2007

You can read about our sailing adventure on the delta here.