Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sailing Vessel Found Floating in Mid-Atlantic

There was just a light breeze by the time the Belgian yacht Genesis spotted the white-hulled sailboat adrift in the middle of the Atlantic.

The drifting boat, a French vessel named L'Actuel, was upright, the mainsail still on the mast. The headsail was torn and partly furled. Lines trailed in the water.

There was no one aboard, and the satellite phone and survival gear had been left behind.

The discovery of the empty yacht on Sunday, hundreds of kilometres from the nearest landfall, leaves a mystery about the fate of its crew, two French sailing enthusiasts, who had left Newfoundland on May 24.

'There was no signs of anybody on board. ... Anything could have happened,' said Jeri Grychowski, a spokeswoman for the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax.

Search operations will continue, said a duty officer at the Gris-Nez Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre in France.

The skipper, a veteran regatta racer named GaƩtan de la Goublaye, 62, had set off from the French Caribbean island of Martinique with a friend, Denis Guilmin, 47. The two were on their way to Le Havre in Normandy.

'He's not a novice. He's very competent, very cautious. That's why I have trouble grasping what could have happened,' said a friend, Gilles Jolly, who lives next door to Mr. de la Goublaye's villa in Martinique.

Mr. Jolly noted that L'Actuel's sails were reefed, meaning that the two sailors had reduced the amount of sail exposed to the wind. The reefing, Mr. Jolly said, suggested that the two men may have been trying to keep the yacht from capsizing during a storm. Inside the boat, loose items had fallen to one side, suggesting that the 10-metre Jeanneau Sun Rise 35 had rolled.

'Was there a big wind gust? Did the boat capsize? Did he grab a buoy to go find his crewmate who had fallen in the water? We don't know,' Mr. Jolly said.

The search began when Mr. de la Goublaye's daughter, Marie, reported him missing last Thursday.

Canadian, British and French search planes scoured thousands of square kilometres of the Atlantic. On Saturday, a long-range Lockheed CP-140 Aurora from CFB Greenwood in Nova Scotia spent hours looking for the French boat.

The Belgian yacht found L'Actuel about 500 kilometres west of the Azores, 1,150 kilometres southeast of the spot where Mr. de la Goublaye made his last communication.

Complicating the search was the fact that L'Actuel did not carry a satellite rescue beacon as required by law, according to a duty officer at the Delgada Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre in the Azores.

Mr. Jolly said Mr. de la Goublaye's wife, Sylviane, had been in hospital with an unrelated illness and is too sedated to react. 'It'll be harder when she'll come home,' he said. 'This is a great tragedy,' Mr. Jolly said. 'It's very hard on us'

The last contact with the boat was on May 24, when Mr. de la Goublaye phoned Marie in France. He had left Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, off the south coast of Newfoundland. He said he wanted to stop either in Ireland or Scotland, depending on the weather.

The French Coastguard at Griz Nez received the first call reporting that the vessel was overdue and passed the information to a Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, Canada, from where the response to the incident is being coordinated. Numerous attempts to contact the missing yacht have been made, but without success.

The search effort includes a Hercules aircraft out of Greenwood, N.S., a Nimrod out of Falmouth, England, and a plane from France. Broadcasts were made to cover mid Atlantic as well as coastal broadcasts by Clyde, Stornoway and Falmouth Coastguard and the Irish and French Coastguard.

A retired entrepreneur who ran a packing and export business in Le Havre, Mr. de la Goublaye and his wife moved to Martinique six years ago.

Mr. Guilmin and Mr. de la Goublaye had sailed together when Mr. de la Goublaye brought L'Actuel to Martinique. They had agreed to reunite should Mr. de la Goublaye want to cross the Atlantic again.

They were returning home after sailing down to the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique.

The skipper told family members that he might make a stop in Scotland or Ireland on the way home but there's nothing to indicate he did.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Surfing Cat

Nice vid from Hawaii of a cat surfing home in the channel.
Check it here.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Click the pic for a better view.
I am still blown away by the enormity and complexity of this amazing boat. Here is another look at the world's largest privately owned sailing vessel.

Rescuer Saves the Day

How far will the coastguard go in saving a sailor? UK Coastguard station officer Nigel McColm showed just how far this week when he took a ship-wrecked sailor to his own home for the night after saving his life.

Sailor Jonathon Orme-Dawson, a retired teacher had planned a 12 month solo voyage round Britain when salt water drowning of his yacht's engine removed the last chance of saving his yacht.

He had restored the 24 ft yacht during the previous two years, and planned the adventure-of-a-lifetime, but the boat hit the rocks between Lyme and Bridport.

He was two months into his voyage when the incident happened. He told Jim Durkin of the Daily Echo how he was rescued:

“The boat was rocking and crashing and I was thinking, ‘any minute now, that is it. I’ll be in. I'm fairly fit but I have asthma. The shock of hitting cold water would have triggered an attack. I was fearful for my life.”

He told how he had gotten into trouble after weather closed in around steep cliffs at Golden Cap on Friday night.

He said: “I’d been to Torbay. I’d arranged to meet my family at West Bay for the weekend and was making my way there when thick fog set in.

“The wind was quite fast and blowing in the wrong direction, and the sea was rough, with metre high waves.”

But it was the salt water that flooded into the engine bay that removed his last chance of saving the boat.

Mr Orme-Dawson said: “I battled for an hour to get away from the rocks, but there was a sheer cliff and it distorts the wind when you get near it. So I was just drifting. But the response I got was absolutely unbelievable.”

Yacht went on the rocks between Lyme and Bridport on the south coast of the UK - .. .

He told of the speed of the Lyme Regis RNLI crew and coastguards, including the helicopter, who answered the call within minutes.

“I got a huge boost when I saw them. I knew I wasn’t alone,” said the battered sailor.

But as the boat's sail was still up, a down-draft from the helicopter threatened to tear it apart. It was decided to use the lifeboat to get alongside the vessel, but this proved fruitless.

Lifeboatmen were put ashore and managed to get to the vessel wedged between rocks but close to the beach.

“The lifeboat came along and John, from the lifeboat crew, got on my boat and pulled down the sails. He helped me off then we got ashore and the helicopter winched me up.'

He watched his beloved yacht, and all his possessions, sink into the sea.

...and that was when Portland Bill coastguard station officer Nigel McColm put the weary sailor up in his own home for the night.

by Nancy Knudsen

Fast is Fun

Friday, June 12, 2009

Morning Light on DVD/Download 6/16

The Power of Less

Our lives are going faster and faster and there are many of us who have become slaves to our work and the technology in our lives. I have several friends that are so connected to their work that when I spend time with them, it's hard to enjoy as they spend most of their time on the phone talking, texting, or emailing. Very annoying! I am sure you have been there too or even done this to your friends and family. I found a great article about this problem and it has some great suggestions to slow things down and enjoy the moment. Here is one suggestion that relates to some of my frustration:
4. Focus on people. Too often we spend time with friends and family, or meet with colleagues, and we’re not really there with them. We talk to them but are distracted by devices. We are there, but our minds are on things we need to do. We listen, but we’re really thinking about ourselves and what we want to say. None of us are immune to this, but with conscious effort you can shut off the outside world and just be present with the person you’re with. This means that just a little time spent with your family and friends can go a long way — a much more effective use of your time, by the way. It means we really connect with people rather than just meeting with them.
Read the entire list here.

Spinnaker Flying

Spinnaker Flying in a Nutshell

All you need is some decent wind, one medium to large sailboat, preferably a masthead rig, a boson's chair, and (preferably) a tri-radial spinnaker.

1. Anchor off the stern.
2. Attach boson's chair to the clews of the sail. No guy, no pole for this.
3. Enter the water off the bow, sit in the boson's chair (with the sail collapsed), and release the sheets.

You will be launched from water level, to the height of the mast in about 1 second.

Then, you can control horizontal and vertical movement by manipulating the sheets.

What's funny is this: the force of the launch usually leaves whatever you're wearing around your ankles, so boys, and girls (if you're wearing a bikini); you just might be flying naked.

The only way to pull 'em up is to bail, and most of the time, when you bail you're bottoms are lost forever.

We've thrown many a towel overboard.

Anyway, it just takes a couple of times before you get the feel of it.

It's too much fun and too many laughs. Everyone always has a good time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Waking Life Clip

Cool movie about a boy who meets a bunch of interesting folks talking about life and what it's all about. See the entire movie here.

Missing Cali Sailors Found

Two novice Californian sailors who set off from Avalon Beach in a 27ft Coronado sailing boat on Thursday 4th June and triggered a search at sea covering over 22,000 miles and involving one aeroplane and two helicopters say they don't plan to stop sailing.

They will set off again as soon as the citations against them by coast guard are satisfied.

The two, who had no sailing experience and carried no life jackets, flares or communications equipment and no way of recharging their mobile phones, soon lost contact.

On Sunday, when the worried parents had not heard from them since Friday, they called out the Coast Guard to search for them. They told the coastguard they were somewhere 'between Santa Catalina Island and the Monterey Bay'.

For about a year, 22-year-old Zebulon 'Zeb' Tryon and his friend 18-year-old Chris Reuter had been talking and dreaming about sailing. So after a little bit of research the men saved $2,000 and bought a boat in Southern California.

'We just went and hopped on a train. We didn't really know what we were getting ourselves into,' said Tryon.

With just the shirts on their back and a few belongings, the two started their journey.

Since Thursday, the men said they had been eating, sleeping and drinking on their 27-foot boat, while the coastguard searched for them.

27ft Coronado sailing boat was found off Pismo Beach - .. .

The Coast Guard says after they sighted them off Pismo Beach, they terminated their voyage, escorted them into Port San Luis and gave them three citations. The two will be staying in Port San Luis until they get those citations corrected.

'They just didn't have the right radios or equipment on board. Their cell phones had died and couldn't be charged so they they just didn't have contact with anyone. But as far as we know, they didn't run into any problems. There is nothing wrong with the boat or anything along those lines,' said Petty Officer Cory Mendall of the Coast Guard.

The two sailors were cited for not having a personal flotation device, not having a sound producing device, and not having a visual distress signal.

'We had dolphins coming up to our boat and jumping out in front of the bow,' said Tryon.

'We were really surprised. We didn't know what was going on,' said Tryon about the coastguard search, 'When we came around the point we just headed in this direction and then that's when the C130 came flying over our heads.'

A spokesperson for the Coast Guard said search and rescue missions are a top priority. The sailors will not be required to pay for the search and rescue.

In a statement released to Action News, the Coast Guard said: 'This is not only a free service provided to those in distress, but considered an honor and duty for the men and women of the Coast Guard.'

'The fact that everyone is telling us that we can't do it makes us want to do it even more,' said Tryon.

The two intend to set sail for Santa Cruz on Wednesday.

The Coast Guard wants to remind folks to have proper safety equipment on board before embarking on any sailing trip.

Friday, June 05, 2009

A Beautiful Night Sail

My niece Julie is out from the east coast on a visit and we went for a night sail that was awesome. Had a wonderful sunset as we headed out and raised the jib. We were the only ones out and the winds were 12-15 and just perfect. We tacked our way out to the end of the pier and headed toward Angel. We got in the shadow of this great island and so tacked again towards the city. I was telling Julie that this was indeed a very special sail. After about 2 hours, we headed into the dock under motor and an almost full moon. It was a night to remember.

Some Pics

Click on any pic for a better view.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


I have been a Dave fan since "Under the Table and Dreaming" was released in the early 90's. I have seen his band in concert many times. A few nights ago he played an intimate show at the Beacon in NYC. They streamed it live and we bring you the link to the show. If you are a fan, sit back, roll a fattie, and enjoy this show!

At Sea

I LOVE THE SUBTLETY AND RICHNESS OF all the variations on the theme of society and solitude that can be experienced when traveling by sea. It is like living inside a metaphor for the strange voyage of a human soul on its journey through life.

Out on the open sea, with a breaking swell and the wind a notch too high for comfort, you are the loneliest fool in the world. You are trying to follow the vain hypothesis of a compass course. It's marked on the chart, 347 degrees magnetic, a neat pencil-line bisecting the white space of the ocean. The absurd particularity of that number now seems to sneer at you from the chart as the boat blunders and wallows through the water, its hull resounding like a bass drum to the impact of each new ribbed and lumpish wave. The bow charges downhill on a bearing of 015 degrees. Ten seconds later, it's doing 330 degrees, up a potholed slope. Abandoning the helm to the autopilot, which at least will steer no worse, if little better, than you do, you go below.

Slub...thunk. Dickens, Thackeray, Trollope, and the rest lurch drunkenly in line along the bookshelves. Two oranges and an apple chase each other up and down the floor. Your morning coffee is a jagged stain on the oatmeal settee. The decanter has smashed in the sink. The closet door is flying open and shut, as if a malevolent jack-in-the-box were larking among your shirts. A dollop of green sea obscures the view from your living-room window. Your precious, contrived, miniature civilization appears to be falling to pieces around your ears, and you can't remember what madness drove you to be out here in the first place.

Then you hear voices. For a moment, you fear that you're losing your wits; then you realize that the voices are coming from the VHF set: a captain calling for a harbor pilot or a fisherman chatting to his wife in the suburbs. It is, after all, just a dull morning at sea, with the invisible community of the sea going about its daily business. You turn up the volume on the radio, climb the four steps to the doghouse, and regain control of the wheel. Three or four miles off, a gray, slab-sided bulk carrier shows for a few seconds before being blotted out by a cresting wave, and you find yourself watching the ship with a mixture of pleasure at finding a companion and rising anxiety at encountering a dangerous intruder.

Letting out the sails to steer clear of the big stranger on your patch, you quickly recover your taste for solitude--and the waves themselves seem to lose their snarling and vindictive expressions. In the society of the sea, it is the duty of every member to keep his distance from all the others. To be alone is to be safe. It's no coincidence that those two most English of attitudes, being "standoffish" and "keeping aloof," are nautical terms that have long since passed into the general currency of the language. Standing-off is what a ship does to avoid the dangers of the coast; aloof is a-luff, or luffing your sails, head to wind, to stay clear of another vessel. The jargon of the sea is full of nouns and verbs to describe the multitude of ways in which a ship can keep itself to itself. The ocean is, in general, a sociable and considerate place, where people (professional mariners, at least) treat each other with remarkable courtesy. But this civility is based on distance and formal good manners. Always signal your intentions clearly. Always know when to give way and when to hold your course. If people on land behaved like ships at sea, they'd look like characters in an Italian opera, or members of the Japanese imperial court.

I'VE NEVER CROSSED AN OCEAN UNDER MY own steam--never, really, more than nibbled at the ocean's edge. The longest open-sea crossing that I've made was from Fishguard, in Wales, to Falmouth, in Cornwall: 200 miles, 35 hours; a day, a night, and most of the next day, with a dream-harrowed sleep (full of collisions, groundings, swampings, and founderings) at the end of the trip. Cowardice is one reason for my failure to tackle an ocean; my passion for arrivals is another. When the light begins to fail and the sea turns black, I yearn to make landfall--to pick out the winking entrance buoys and find my way into a strange port. The intricate, heart-stopping business of coastal pilotage is for me the great reward for a day spent jouncing about in the waves offshore.

Dusk is a good time (though just before dawn is best), when lights stand out but the shape of the land is still clearly visible. You bring one shadowy headland into line with another, then find the lazy flash of the fairway buoy, timing it against your watch to check its ID. Cautiously standing-off, you wait until the pinpricks of light ahead resolve themselves into a narrow, winding lane, into which you thread the boat, moving under engine, at half speed.

The most satisfying harbors are those that are fringed with a maze of shifting sandbars, like the entrance to the Somme estuary in northern France or the approach to Wexford in Ireland, where buoyed channels take one on bafflingly serpentine routes into town. Each channel represents a pooling of knowledge by the local pilots and fishermen and is a path whose broad outline has been trodden for hundreds of years. But sandbars alter their positions after every gale, and the buoys are never exactly in the right places. As so often at sea, you are at once in good and experienced company and entirely on your own.

Inching warily from buoy to buoy, you watch the shivering needle on the depth sounder. It is your blind-man's stick, with which you have to tap-tap your way, feeling for deep water as you go. Twelve feet. Ten feet. Eight feet--and you've lost the channel. Nine feet. Ten feet--and you breathe again. Now you're inside the line of breakers, in a broad, lakelike sea, with the lights of the town silvering the water in the distance. In a moment of inattention, the bow of the boat suddenly climbs as the keel scrapes sand, but it settles back, the buoy slides past, and the floating town drifts slowing toward you, taking you in.

Anyone who has struggled into a harbor out of a bad sea will understand why the words "heaven" and "haven" are closely cognate. A dismal slate-roofed town (visit the Methodist chapel and the fish-and-chip shop) is paradise itself when you find shelter there after a day of being cold and frightened aboard a lurching boat. You'd willingly kneel to kiss the stones of the dock, you are so full of gratitude for the fact of Dulltown's existence. Its people are so friendly! so attractive! Its Methodist chapel is, as Methodist chapels go, a very cathedral! Its fish and chips are, without doubt, the best fish and chips in the world!

Few travelers have ever felt this way about Dulltown. You are privileged. Your means of arrival has revealed to you a place hidden from the mass of humanity: Dulltown Haven...Dulltown as Heaven. For a writer, such an epiphany is pure gift--and it will save you from the addled cynicism that is the usual curse of traveling.

Yet we were, a few moments ago, on the Somme estuary and the mouth of the River Slaney, and neither St. Valery nor Wexford is in the least like Dulltown. They are beautiful and complicated places even if you reach them dully, by car. The miracle of coming into them by sea is that as soon as your boat is attached to the dock by a trapeze of ropes, it becomes part of the architecture and skyline of the town. You belong to the working fabric of the community as no ordinary visitor can aspire to do. Your neighbors (at least in places unspoiled by yachting marinas) are fishermen, longshoremen, local boat owners; and the more difficult the harbor approach, the more nearly will you be accepted as a resident. In the more remote communities, your patience and skill as a navigator (you wouldn't be there if you were a total buffoon) is an automatic ticket of entry to society.

For a day, or two, or three, or as long as the weather outside remains discouraging, you settle into dockside life. You go visiting in the afternoons. You work on your boat. You learn a dozen names. In the evenings, you go with your new neighbors to the bar across the street, where (if you are a writer) you try to listen harder than you drink. You hear things that no one would dream of telling you had you come here by car.

Then, at five o'clock one morning, in the final hour of the flood tide, you untie the damp ropes in the dark and steal away from the place without saying good-bye. You leave behind a small gap, like a missing tooth, in the shape of the town as you will come to remember it.

At the fairway buoy, the sea is oily, with curlicues of rising mist. The remains of a big swell make the water surface bulge and contract, like a fat man breathing. Visibility is down to a mile or less. A moderate westerly is forecast.

Ahead lie the open sea and a day like a blank slate. But some things are certain. There will be--as now--moments of wonder and elation such as rarely visit you on land. There will be the building magnetic power of the unknown port across the water. There'll be at least one serious cause for alarm, and at least one unpleasant surprise.

You kill the engine and let the boat drift on the tide, waiting for enough wind to hoist the sails. The town you left is now hidden in haze. Alone in a circle of diffuse light, you float in silence. In time, the sea and the day will begin to impose their own narrative order on your life; but for now, you are a character as yet unformed, awaiting the sequence of events that will define you.

Bon voyage!

Jonathan Raban's books include Old Glory, Coasting, Hunting Mister Heartbreak, and Bad Land: An American Romance, forthcoming from Pantheon Books.