Thursday, July 31, 2008

Roz Rowing to Hawaii

Day 64: You've Come A Long Way, Baby
This is what my weatherguy wrote to me in his daily email yesterday, comparing where I am now to my wiggly meander down the coast of California and Mexico. I only wish I could see it myself on my chartplotter (not working) or on Marinetrack (not accessible from the boat) so I could appreciate the progress for myself.

But it also got me thinking about some major progress of a different kind. If you'd have told me ten years ago that I'd have rowed the Atlantic and be part way across the Pacific, I'd have told you that you were crazy. I was 30 years old, just another office worker, unmotivated, lacking in self-esteem, with no sense of drive or purpose. There was a faint feeling that there was something missing. I just wasn't that kind of a person to undertake what could be a dangerous expedition. Only brave and adventurous people did that kind of thing.

And although there have been a few moments of "life vertigo" along the way, when I suddenly look down and wonder how my life got to be this way, generally the progress has been without terror or stress - in fact, as my life has become more in tune with my core values, my stress levels have decreased.

Most of the changes have been incremental, each one providing a stepping stone to the next. And it's amazing just how much you can achieve, how far you can travel, how much you can change your life, when you take it in baby steps.

One stroke at a time!

Other stuff:

Position at 2130 27th July Pacific Time, 0430 28th July UTC: 24 17.170'N, 137 46.659'W.

Conditions today have been rough, but otherwise not bad at all. Lots of sunshine early in the day, but with enough clouds passing over from time to time to stop me getting too hot in my waterproof jacket - my guard against saltwater and sun. The wind has been brisk and from the NE, so it's all good!

Thanks for the nice comments about my progress and course. It's nice to know you're keeping an eye on me, and that my efforts at the oars are recognized. It's a tough stage at the moment - so many days at sea, but so many still to go - the encouraging comments are most welcome. In common with most people, I appreciate being appreciated!

A message for Sarah Outen: yup, do what you need to the oars. We'll sort out the finances when we meet over that G&T. OS sleeping bag superb. Have removed one of the layers of fleece as I've headed south into (marginally) warmer climes. Metabolic Conditioning sounds daunting - you can do 100 pull ups?! Flippin' heck!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fossett Faked His Own Death?

Fossett, a friend of Virgin boss Richard Branson, and the first man to fly non-stop round the earth in a hot air balloon, went missing last September when his final flight in a light plane over the Nevada desert went missing.

However, Lieutenant Colonel Cynthia Ryan of the US Civil Air Patrol has said Fossett, whose body or plane was never found, could still be alive.

She said: "I've been doing this search and rescue for 14 years. Fossett should have been found.

"It's not like we didn't have our eyes open. We found six other planes while we were looking for him. We're pretty good at what we do."

Fossett's disappearance sparked the biggest search in American history, with the Civil Air Patrol's Black Hawks, fitted with infra-red technology, joined by over 30 private planes and internet experts scanning the Nevada desert looking for clues.

Lt Col Ryan believes Fossett may have faked his own death due to personal problems or fears about his business dealings.

There are also a number of anomalies that question whether Fossett's plane ever crashed.

Only one witness, a pilot at hotel magnate Barron Hilton's flying ranch near Reno, claims to have seen him take off that day.

That witness claims Fossett asked him to prepare the plane for take off, even though he had never allowed anyone else to do this before.

Fossett also apparently claimed he was going to scout for locations for a land speed record attempt, but he supposedly took off with no emergency equipment.

The choice of plane was also a baffling one - a Bellanca Citabria Super Decathlon, which, according to risk assessor Robert Davis said was constructed from a steel and wood frame, but actually covered in fabric, making it easy to dismantle. Read more.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cool App on iPhone

My wife upgraded to the 3g iPhone last week and gave me her old 2g phone. I didn't think I needed a smart phone until I got one. Wow! It's amazing all the great things this device can do. So I went to the App Store and downloaded a few free apps. The app that really impressed me was Remote. It turns your iPhone into a remote for your Apple TV and iTunes on your computer. I never liked the fact that I had to turn on my TV to listen to music with the Apple TV. With Remote, all your playlists and music are available instantly on your iPhone through your WIFI network! Not only that, you get all the artwork as well. Now that I have gotten into it, I have also discovered Remote Buddy which is even a more powerful remote tool with the same idea as Remote. If you have an iPhone and love music, you should give this a try. It's free!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pic of the Day


We are deep in July. How is your summer going so far?? Are you sailing, swimming, surfing enough? If not, it's time to turn on the fun and enjoy. I have an epic adventure planned for today. I am meeting some great friends for a sail out of SF for a trip under the Golden Gate Bridge. We will then head back and have a tailgate party on the boat and get ready to head into the Giants game. Then we will sail home after the game. Should be a ton of fun and great to get on the bay with some friends that I have known for over 20 years! Can't wait! Also on Wednesday we have the Tall Ships arriving for a stay thru the weekend in SF. Parade on Wednesday and then they will be scattered around the city for tours and sails. Check'em out!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Catch a Shooting Star

Anyone gazing at the summer night sky for even a short length of time is likely to spot a few "shooting stars" darting across the sky.

Meteors are typically bits of material left behind by comets. They're often no larger than sand grains, and they vaporize as they enter our atmosphere. In general, the Earth encounters richer meteoric activity during the second half of the year. Between August 3 and 15, there are a half-dozen different minor displays that are active.

The best display of the summer comes during the second week of August: the annual Perseid meteor shower. At its peak around the nights of Aug. 11 and 12, this display can produce 50 to 100 fast, bright meteors per hour.

This will be a fair-to-good year to watch for the Perseids. A bright gibbous moon, which initially will interfere with observations, will set at around 1:30 a.m., leaving the rest of the night dark for prospective meteor watchers. The only equipment you'll need is your eyes and a modest amount of patience.

Early morning is best

The main trick is to plan your meteor-watching for the pre-dawn hours. Not only will the moon have set, leaving skies darker, but there are simply more meteors then. This is due to the fact that during the pre-midnight hours we are on the "trailing" side of the Earth, due to our orbital motion through space. So any meteoric particle generally must have an orbital velocity greater than that of the Earth to "catch" us.

However, after midnight when we are turned onto the Earth's "leading" side, any particle that lies along the Earth's orbital path will enter our atmosphere as a meteor.

These objects collide with our atmosphere at speeds of 7 to 45 miles (11 to 72 km) per second, their energy of motion rapidly dissipates in the form of heat, light, and ionization, creating short-lived streaks of light popularly referred to as "shooting stars."

The very first forerunners of the Perseid shower began to appear around July 17. Unfortunately, that virtually coincides with a full moon, but even without any interfering moonlight you would only see a few per hour at best.

The numbers will begin to noticeably ramp up during the second week of August. The last Perseid stragglers may still be noted as late as Aug. 24.

To go along with the Perseids, however, there are at least ten other minor meteor displays that are active at various times during July and August. While the hourly rates from these other meteor streams are but a fraction of the numbers produced by the Perseids, combined, overall they provide a wide variety of meteors of differing colors, speeds and trajectories.

Among these are the Southern Delta Aquarids, which reach their peak around July 28 and can produce faint, medium speed meteors; the Alpha Capricornids, which arrive at their maximum a couple of nights later on July 30 and are described as slow, bright, long trailed meteors and the Kappa Cygnids, peaking near Aug. 17 and have been classified as "slow moving and sometimes brilliant."

Earlier this year, Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute announced he had identified the probable breakup of a comet from several thousand years ago that may be responsible for the Kappa Cygnids; the asteroid 2008 ED69 may be a fragment from that breakup.

As meager as the individual hourly rates are with the minor displays running from mid-July through the third week of August, collectively they become strikingly augmented with the annual August Perseids. British observational meteor astronomer, Alastair McBeath comments that August is Perseid month, with " ... rising sporadic meteor rates, mild weather overnight, several other minor showers on show and it's vacation time. With the Perseids partly moon-free, all we need are clear skies!"

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pics of the Day

Click a pic to make it bigger.

Movie Trailer - Morning Light

Roy Disney gives a high speed sled to a handful of inexperienced kids in a historic race from LA to Kauai called the Transpac and makes a film about it. Fifteen young sailors…six months of intense training…one chance at the brass ring. This exciting True-Life documentary tells the inspiring story of a group of intrepid and determined young men and women, on the cusp of adulthood, as they embark on life’s first great adventure. Racing a high-performance 52-foot sloop in the TRANSPAC, the most revered of open-ocean sailing competitions, the crew of “Morning Light” matches wits and skills in a dramatic 2300 mile showdown against top professionals. From their earliest training sessions in Hawaii conducted by world-class teachers through their test of endurance on the high seas, they form an unbreakable bond in the process of becoming a singular team that is greater than the sum of its parts. Directed and edited by two of the key filmmakers responsible for the acclaimed 2004 surfing documentary, “Riding Giants,” and the recent rock documentary “Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who,” “Morning Light” will appeal to the sense of adventure in everyone. Watch the trailer here.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Mystery of the Kaz II

Its engine was still running, a laptop computer was found switched on, the men's clothing was found in neat piles on the rear deck and the sail was shredded.

The inquest into the mysterious disappearance and suspected deaths last year of three men from the catamaran Kaz II while it continued to drift off the eastern Australian coast has been announced to begin in August.

The three crew were missing from the Kaz II when it was spotted off the eastern Australian coast by a Coastwatch aircraft, drifting about 80 nautical miles north east of Townsville in North Queensland in April last year.

A wide search was initiated by the coastguard and aircraft, but no sign of the men was ever found.

It is thought that the three friends, who were on their way back to Western Australia, disappeared only hours after they left the popular holiday port of Airlie Beach on the Whitsundays coast on April 15. Then the boat sailed on unmanned for three days, being observed by passing fishermen, before the alarm was raised by the Coastwatch aircraft.

Many theories have been canvassed as to how the three went missing, from the tragic to the fantastic - from going for a swim together and not being able to get back on board; pushing the vessel off a sand bank only to have it sail away; escaping Australia illegally on another waiting vessel; or the possibility that they suffered foul play by persons unknown.

However there are unexplained mysteries, even about the time of their disappearance. After the search was called off, it was discovered that a Volunteer Marine Rescue radio operator had had radio contact with the Kaz II between 6pm and 7pm on April 15, hours after they were supposed to have disappeared.

State Coroner Michael Barnes will examine where and how the men went overboard, the circumstances surrounding their disappearance, whether they are dead and whether the search for the missing men was adequate.

With the amount of evidence available, however, the liklihood of any answers that would satisfy family members is unlikely.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

For the Music Lovers

Here is a great list of free music sites that will stream music to your computer. Or if you like create a mix and share it like I did on Finetune on the right side of this page. It's fun to tell your friends you have your own radio station on the web. And this is the easiest way to do it. Make one and then embed it on your own site. It's free and easy. Many of the sites you have heard of like Pandora or LastFM. But many you will discover for the first time. Enjoy the music!

Solo Sailor

I am more than half way thru this great book. Here is some info on this must read for all sailors.

1898: Joshua Slocum completes a solo voyage lasting nearly three years, becoming the first sailor to circumnavigate alone.

Slocum, born within sight of Nova Scotia's Bay of Fundy in 1844, ran away from home at 14 and signed on a fishing schooner as cabin boy to begin a lifetime at sea. He later crossed the Atlantic and became an ordinary seaman on the Tangier, a British merchantman. By 18, he had received his papers from the Board of Trade qualifying him as a second mate.

Landing in California, Slocum received his first command there and spent 13 years sailing out of San Francisco, taking square-rigged ships to Japan, China, Australia and the Spice Islands (the Moluccas of present-day Indonesia), as well as engaging in the coast-wise lumber trade.

Several ships, two wives and two sons later -- his first wife died in Argentina -- Joshua Slocum found himself back on the East Coast, in possession of a rotting old oyster sloop called the Spray. He would make history with this boat.

He spent the next few years restoring the Spray and rigging her for solo sailing. In 1895, at age 51, Slocum set out to be the first sailor ever to make a solo circumnavigation. The 37-foot Spray left Boston in April 1895 with her original sloop rig, but difficulties in the Strait of Magellan would cause Slocum to re-rig her as a yawl for the remainder of the voyage.

One peculiarity of Slocum's sailing was his decision to eschew the chronometer -- in favor of using a sextant and the ancient method of dead reckoning -- for fixing his longitudinal position at sea.

It was an eventful passage. Chased by pirates, feted by island kings and almost drowned a couple of times in storms, Slocum sailed 46,000 miles, staying for weeks and sometimes months at various stops along the way. His longest time at sea without making landfall was 72 days in the Pacific.

In addition to his seafaring skill, Slocum was an accomplished writer. His account of the voyage, Sailing Alone Around the World, is considered a classic of adventure literature. He begins his story thus:
I had resolved on a voyage around the world, and as the wind on the morning of April 24, 1895, was fair, at noon I weighed anchor, set sail and filled away from Boston, where the Spray had been moored snugly all winter. The 12 o'clock whistles were blowing just as the sloop shot ahead under full sail.

A short board was made up the harbor on the port tack, then coming about she stood to seaward, with her boom well off to port, and swung past the ferries with lively heels. A photographer on the outer pier of East Boston got a picture of her as she swept by, her flag at the peak throwing her folds clear.

A thrilling pulse beat high in me. My step was light on deck in the crisp air. I felt there could be no turning back, and that I was engaging in an adventure the meaning of which I thoroughly understood.
Kind of makes you want to dump your stupid computer and run off to sea, doesn't it?

Sailing Alone earned Slocum a lot of money, enabling him to buy his first home on land -- though characteristically offshore -- in Martha's Vineyard in 1902.

Although sales of the book remained brisk during the first several years of the 20th century, they were waning by 1908. Slocum was suddenly hurting for money and decided to sail south this time, to the Orinoco River in Venezuela, with the idea of gathering material for another book. Luck was not with him on this voyage, however, and the Spray, while still seaworthy, was not what she had been a decade earlier.

Slocum set sail for the West Indies in November 1909 and was never heard from again. He wasn't declared officially dead until 1924.

A World War II Liberty ship, SS Joshua Slocum, was named for the doughty mariner.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

New First Mate!!

My first first mate, Sierra passed back in April after 16 years and a wonderful life of sailing and companionship. He was a very special dog and he will be in our hearts forever. My next first mate, Kona, was born on July 4th in Petaluma, CA. We will pick him up in September. He is part of the Foxfire family and his line and pedigree are strong with his father and mother being champion show dogs. Can't wait to start his sailing career!!!

Bay Area Wind Speeds

I mentioned last month that winds on the bay are increasing and got several responses on the Yahoo email group "San Francisco Sailing". Most agreed with my theory that wind speed have been on the rise these last several years. I even received a email from a hang glider group that is seeing an increase in wind speeds where they fly in and around the bay area. Here is further proof that we are seeing some extremely high gusts (39 knots at 6:09pm. That's 45mph!!!) on the bay on any given day in the summer. This is taken from a wind sensor on Angel Island near the middle of the bay. Maybe I should tuck in two reefs before I go out!!

From the Archives

From August, 2005

It was the end of the voyage of a lifetime for William Cameron Peterson, alone on a sailboat out in the far Pacific a dark night earlier this month, homeward bound for San Francisco.

Peterson heard a crash, "like the shot of a cannon, like a crack of thunder,'' he said. The bowsprit of his boat had failed, and the stays that held the 60-foot-tall mainmast let go. The mast fell, and suddenly his boat, with everything he owned aboard, was crippled, wallowing in the sea, out of control.

"You figure, 'This is it. This is the end of my life,' " he said. The wrecked mast was smashing on the deck, the standing and the running rigging was a tangle of lines and wires, and parts of the gear were smashing into the hull.

The boat was 40 feet long and 46 years old, a wooden vessel rigged as a ketch, with a big main mast and a smaller one aft. Peterson had sailed aboard the boat, which was named Kamera, on a voyage that had taken almost nine years. And now, he thought, the voyage was about to kill him.

Peterson, who is staying at his sister's house in Santa Rosa, leans forward to tell of his long adventure. He is a lean man, 5 feet, 4 inches tall, with pale blue eyes, a beard going gray and a ponytail. He is 56 years old, a grandfather, who grew up a country kid from Sonoma County and learned to love the sea. He has been sailing for 25 years, off and on.

This trip was the dream of his life -- "something I always wanted to do, to sail around the world in my own boat," he said.

He sailed from Petaluma, down the little Petaluma River and San Pablo Bay, clearing the Golden Gate on Nov. 1, 1996. He turned left and sailed down the long California coast to Mexico, then set a course for the islands of the Pacific: the Marquesas, the Tuamotus, the islands west to the far horizons of the world. He stopped when he wanted, sometimes for months. He took jobs -- honest work, he said, to pay expenses. The years went by.

Now it was June 10, 2005, a Friday. Homeward bound, two weeks to go. He was at 28 degrees north latitude, 131 degrees west longitude, 800 miles south and west of San Diego. He was sailing west by north, a long reach from Panama, beating to windward. Once he got to San Francisco, he planned to head east for the Golden Gate, a voyage plan that looked "like a hook,'' he said. The route of the clipper ships, he called it.

Peterson was in the wheelhouse when the bowsprit failed. He figured the starboard whisker stay, which holds the bowsprit to the hull, had broken, setting off a chain reaction, and the pretty white boat was a ruin and probably doomed.

He knew he had to clear away the tangle. The engine would not start, and he had to go out on the deck with an ax, a knife and a flashlight in his teeth. Time had stopped for him, he said.

"There was no such thing as time," he said. "It had ceased to exist.

"I knew that if I went out there on deck, I could die; I could fall overboard. The mast was banging around, 60 feet of metal. It could break my bones. I could get tangled in the rigging, get whacked by a block or tackle, the boom was crashing around. The rails were smashed. I could slip into the ocean. I couldn't work with a life jacket on.

"The emergency dingy was smashed. There were no sails and no engine.

"I knew that if I went out there, I could die, but if I did nothing, I would die for sure. You can't sit there and cringe. You just go ahead and do it.''

Peterson's radio antenna was gone with the wrecked mast. All he could do was to activate his emergency signal, a device called an EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacons), a device he bought in New Zealand. It sends out a distress signal with the boat's position.

Peterson didn't know if the signal went out informing others of his circumstance because the device made no sound. If the emergency signal worked and if someone heard him, he was all right. If not, perhaps he could make a jury rig and try for Hawaii, more than 1,000 miles west. He figured the chances were 50-50 for that, "a long shot,'' he said.

The U.S. Coast Guard heard him. The next morning, Peterson saw a C-130 Coast Guard plane -- "the best plane I ever saw,'' he said. The crew told him through his handheld, short-range radio that a U.S. Navy destroyer was nearby, and sure enough, at midmorning, the Chung-Hoon, a new destroyer named for a hero of World War II, steamed over the horizon.

They picked him up, helped him with his gear, saved his logbook and his pictures, and left his little boat behind. "I made a deal with Poseidon,'' Peterson said. "He could have my boat if I had my life.''

Peterson, who had served in the Army, loved the Navy. "They were wonderful; they made me an honorary member of the crew, took care of me,'' he said. "They were sailors. And they saved my ass.''

A Coast Guard helicopter met the ship at sea and flew Peterson to San Diego, where he told his story.

"I never heard anything like it,'' said Robert Lanier, Coast Guard petty officer.

Until the end, Peterson said, the voyage was a dream. Sometimes he sailed alone, sometimes with an Englishwoman named Jackie Pring. Sometimes he took charters, cruising sailors, travelers, people on their own in the ports of the world.

He gets a dreamy look in his eyes, remembering little bays in Mexico, the Marquesas Islands and the Chagos Archipelago -- "no cars, no people, no houses, white sand beaches,'' he said. He went to Australia, to Bali, to Borneo to see the ring-tailed monkeys, to the Komodo Islands to see the dragons, to Thailand to the Maldives, to Madagascar, South Africa, to St. Helena -- the British isle where Napoleon Bonaparte died -- and across the South Atlantic to Brazil.

Peterson stopped and worked sometimes: Once, he spent a year in Florida. He tied the boat up and drove a big-rig truck. He spent a hurricane season on the island of Tobago and loved it. He sailed up the Mississippi and hated it. "Too many big ships, dirty, awful river,'' he said.

He went to Honduras, the Rio Dolce in Guatemala. His favorite place was Kosrae Island in the Federated States of Micronesia. "An emerald on a blue background,'' he said. He has passports to show for all this: exotic stamps and visas. He's been there, done that.

Now that he lost his boat, he's broke. "Flat, stone broke,'' he said. He can't stay with his sister forever. "I'm completely homeless. I just don't have my shopping cart yet.''

Would he do it again? Peterson pauses, looks into the middle distance. "I can't say whether I would or not.''

Would he go to sea again? "I don't really know,'' he said. "I'm probably addicted to the sea. It's a love-hate affair. I love to hate it, and I hate to love it."

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

If You Missed It

If you missed the men's championship at Wimboldon it was one of the classic matches in tennis history. Watch it here. This is the 5th and final set of the match and sure to go down as one of the best ever. Check it in full screen if you wish.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Windsurfing Hatteras

That's not me!

We arrived in Hatteras on Sunday for a family reunion. The wind was out of the southwest at about 35 knots. Lots of kiters in this area and one big windsurfing spot called Haulover near Buxton. On Monday it was still blowing pretty good so I decided to go sailing. Headed to a local shop and Luke helped me get set up with a brand new board from Goya called the Freerider. This board is an upwind monster. The sail was also from Goya, a 6.3 and brand new as well. I hit the beach and the wind speed was increasing with most folks on the beach and done for the day as it was 5pm. After making a few adjustments to the harness lines and footstraps, I was ready to fly. The wind was between 25-30 and I was the only one out! I was sailing on the Pamlico Sound which is a very shallow body of water. I sailed out a mile or so and it was still only 3-4 feet deep. This made for some great conditions as the water was flat and I could go very fast. At times I felt like a bird cruising across the water. It was fantastic. I have been windsurfing since 84, however since 2000, my focus has been on our Newport 30 sailboat and windsurfing has taken a backseat to sailing on the bay. Just like riding a bike, I was in the groove in no time and loving the fact that I can speed across the water at 20-25 knots on a good day. Cowabunga!