Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Ultimate Sailing Race - A look Back at 40 Years of Extreme

I present you with an awesome sailing video of the history of the Whitbread/Volvo Ocean race.  It's a 50 minute video, however you would be hard pressed to find another that would present more dramatic story lines or footage.  "If you want to be in the sailing game, this is the ultimate race". Enjoy and go full screen!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from Lake Sunapee

We are in New Hampshire for the holidays with my family.  My sister has a beautiful home on Lake Sunapee and we had a lovely sunrise over the lake this morning.  I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and all the best in 2012.  Here's to many sailing adventures in the New Year!

Some of my sailing goals for this year:
Fix the base of our corroded mast
Take more friends out on the bay for a day sail
Sail to Tomales Bay
Enjoy the next round of promo races on the bay in preparation for the Americas Cup
Partner Sail
More spinnaker runs
Sail on other friends boats
Baja Haha 19
Delta Trip
Looking forward to another fantastic year on the water!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What Can Siri Do For You?

Siri plays a Yamaha Disklavier wirelessly via Wi-Fi and Airplay, complete with moving keys in full expression and moving pedals.  Maybe with the next iPhone, Siri will sail your boat!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

2011 - A Look Back (according to Google)

Looking back on my 2011, I have been extremely blessed in so many ways.  My family is healthy, our event planning company is doing very well and heading into it's 20th year and I have some great friends to enjoy life with.  There are so many highlights and here are a few:  Lots of skiing this year including a week in Mammoth and Lake Tahoe with one of the biggest snow years ever (800"), one week charter out of La Paz to the islands with the boat partners, boys trip to Puerto Vallarta with Frank and company, a visit from Steve and family from Delaware, floating down the rivers of France for a week with my extended family, amazing day sails with lots of spinnaker action on the bay, several sails on friends boats (Olivier, Pete and John), Sailing with Ryan and his famous kegs on the boat, a darts party at the house, a week long trip up the Napa river with Tex and Julie, Baja Haha 18 to Cabo, Cancun and the Mayan Riviera with the family and Mo and Dan, awesome December events at the deYoung and Bimbo's, and a trip back east to spend the holidays with my family.  What an awesome year of my life!  I am really looking forward to 2012 and getting closer to the America's Cup!

One of the most exciting sails was a night sail coming back to Sausalito after a ballgame.  We were not expecting much wind, however when we got to the other side of the bay bridge, it was blowing 30 and very thick fog.  John was at the wheel and I had the chart plotter and AIS going to make sure we were clear of the islands and no boats were headed our way.  We made it and the adrenaline was a rush!  Hope you all had a great year as well, cheers.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What I Love About Sailing

I started sailing a windsurfer in 1984 when I was living on a lagoon in Foster City, CA.  I thought it was so cool that I could move across the water with this amazing invisible force (wind!).  When I started to sail on the bay, I felt the freedom of skipping across the water at 20-25 knots that I had always yearned for.  Now that I have been taken by the sport of sailing a 30 foot boat across the bay, I realize the true meaning of what sailing brings into my life.  Yes it's still that invisible force, but in many ways, it's about bringing me back to our natural surroundings.  The sun heats the earths surface which creates the high and low pressure areas and gets the air molecules moving in the form of wind.  The blue sky with its ball of fire burning brightly. The waves that help move the boat if you are sailing in the right direction.  The thousands of dolphins and porpoises that I have seen on the ocean and in the bay.  I really enjoy watching the sunsets and sunrises from the boat and the different light that it brings into the cockpit of the boat.  I have seen the Green Flash several times from the deck of the boat and those were all highlights.  Out at the Farallons, we had a humpback whale cross our bow and we have had a gray whale cuddle up to the boat inside the bay way back when.  One of the other reasons I enjoy sailing so much is that it also has brought many of my friends out on to the bay to share an afternoon sailing in these beautiful waters.  With some music, food, and a little wine, we have shared some magical moments on the San Francisco Bay.  Our Newport 30 has done a wonderful job of keeping us safe as well as being very forgiving when we make mistakes.  As we enter our 11th year of ownership, we could not have picked a better boat for our purposes of day sailing and the 5-6 day sojourns on the bay and beyond.  Even though I sail once a week, as soon as I get off the boat to start heading home, I am already thinking about the next time I will feel that invisible force pushing us across our beautiful waters.  If you have any interest in exploring the world of sailing, I encourage you to start talking to people in the sport and getting involved in this amazing endeavour.  It may change your life and bring you the joy that I have found in getting out on the water.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cool Vids

Pics Of the Week

Click the pic to see a larger view.

Check out this great tune by JD McPherson

Sailors Are The Lucky Few

Found this cool article over at Sailing Anarchy:

Childhood experiences almost always have Americans avoiding the water for most, if not all of our lives. We worry about undertows, or sudden storms, or bacteria, or sharks, or the sure disaster caused by swimming too soon after eating. So the idea of sailing seems so risky and foreign that most, indeed 99% of Americans, will never seriously try.
But a few of us, about 1%, do end up going out in sailboats, as often as we can. Given a myriad of seemingly safer, more productive and comfortable options, 2.6 million of us band together knowing that every hour sailing is another hour of full and privileged living. Some sailors are wealthy, some just getting along. Some are old, some are young. No matter our wealth or age, sailors are alike in the feeling of richness that comes from a large commitment of time to sailing and to the tiny sailing social circle that does what we do and knows what we know.
The numbers suggest distinct haves and have-nots. But the chasm in sailing isn’t between the material or the financial haves and have-nots, it’s between the experiential haves and have-nots. When you ask the 1% who sail, you find out that the experiential haves have enough to share and generally want to do it. And among the 99%, it’s easy to find as many who are willing to see through the thick fog of school field trip perceptions as there are sailing in the first place. So the chasm need not be there at all. It just takes a commitment of time and experience to bridge it.
If you’re on Facebook, search for and befriend one Werner Meybaum of Sailing Lake Calhoun, and you’ll see what I mean. I doubt that Werner is a billionaire, at least in the monetary sense. Yet Werner is among the most generous sailors I’ve ever found. Inspired by childhood memories of sailing on small lakes in Germany, Werner docks an old boat to a city pier in the Twin Cities, and offers free rides to anyone passing by. First come first serve. Only payment: tell your friends. The scale of Werner’s generosity is matched only by a continuous flow of willing and eager newcomers.
Behind nearly every new sailor there is always a bold contrarian like Werner; a teacher, parent, mentor or a leader who provides the time, the access and the assurances; a trustworthy and caring soul who shows, unequivocally, that to be wet, cold and scared is also to be invigorated, refreshed and inspired.
And around every one of these contrarians is a network of friends eager to share their new contagious, authentic enthusiasm for sailing.
Now let’s be clear. All of these contrarians come from the 1% -- they have to, because they have a monopoly on experience -- but their reach is into the 99% and their impact is to the 100% and beyond. It’s a kind of grassroots movement with its tap roots in a tiny minority, precisely where you would think such a thing couldn’t exist.
Every week or so Werner posts another dozen images to Facebook of big-grinning newbies, dragging bare feet from transoms or toasting a golden sundown, and every week Werner's list of friends multiplies. Moms and daughters, old and young, college couples, teenagers, retirees, African-Americans, Indians, Asians, sometimes even infants and pets. Every week I count at least another 50 or 100 people no longer in the 99% and I press “Like”.
This has me wondering what it would take to send the Milwaukee second graders to Werner’s dock for the 2012 spring field-trip.
Happy Holidays, Werner. Thank you for reminding us how lucky we are to be in the 1% and for brightly lighting the path to becoming the 2%.
-- Award-winning author, Nicholas Hayes, has teamed up with renowned illustrator, Renee Graef, to create children's books using intergenerational sailing as an inspirational backdrop.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Top Ten Art Installations at Burning Man

Attended by 20 people on a San Francisco beach in 1986, the “Burning Man” festival has mushroomed into a desert pilgrimage for 40,000 people annually. For one week, Burning Man qualifies as Nevada's fifth-largest city, and climaxes on Labor Day weekend with the burning of four-story tall wooden “man.”  Click here.

Here is a gallery of photos from the last 10 years of BM.  Click here.

More Awesomeness

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Sailor Forced off Boat by Coast Guard

A legally blind sailor who was preparing to sail around the world on his 20' boat, was forced off his boat in a terrible storm, is now suing the Coast Guard.  His boat was in trouble after he had broken his boom, lost his engine and a big storm was approaching.  Read the full article here.and leave a comment below.

Beautiful, Amazing Planet

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael K├Ânig on Vimeo.

This super fast motion fly by of the Space Station is amazing!  Auroras, lightning, storms and more.  We live on a very special planet that needs our help.  When we were visiting Cancun a few weeks ago, my nephew Dan and I would go for a long jogs along the beach.  Dan is picking up trash as we jog and depositing it in trash cans along the beach and I join him in this endeavor.  Only one person acknowledged our work after passing 50-75 beach goers.  One morning we came upon a shelf of sand above the waves.  It was littered with tons of seaweed.  The seaweed had trapped a bunch of plastic and trash and our job was to pick it all up and clean this area of the beach.  It took us over 30 minutes to accomplish the task.  But we attacked it with gusto.  Dan found a huge half jug that we could pile alot of trash into and use it to carry the items to the trash cans.  It was mind blowing how much trash there was.  We made at least 6 trips to the closest hotel trash cans.  No one on the beach said a word or attempted to help us.  We finished that and continued picking up trash as we headed back to the hotel.  My nephew Dan (26?) is an inspiration as far as trying to make where ever he is a little more beautiful.  I hope to continue along this path and hope that if you see trash on the street or on a beautiful beach, you will make the effort to take care of it.  It's never too late to start! 

This next clip might inspire you...or at least make you smile.  Click here.

Land Ho!

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Boat For Sale

Boat for sale.  Great condition and built like a brick shithouse.  Did I mention she floats?  This boat will take you anywhere in style.  She has been maintained the the highest standards and lots of spare bricks come with it.  You will receive lots of compliments on her design and attract alot of attention where ever you go.  Don't wait, give me a call and let's make a deal.  Wife told me I have to put an ad up.  If I can't sell the boat, I will put her up for sale.  Contact me at: dealofthedecade@gmail.com

Monday, November 28, 2011

Epic Sunday Sail on SF Bay

Aloha from San Francisco!  Sunday wind forecast was for 5 knots of wind.  Not much and a bunch of friends cancelled on Saturday.  Those poor chaps, indeed.  It was the best sail of the fall.  Plenty of wind in the 12-15 knot range and not many boats out and perfect conditions.  The wind was blowing from the north east and it allowed me to sail straight out towards Treasure Island.  A couple tacks and I was clear to head towards Angel Island.  The boat was very balanced and it allowed me and Kona to head out on the cabin top with the bean bag chair.   If you don't have one on board, get one.  They can add a lot of comfort both in the cockpit and around the deck.  We hit Angel and the wind began to get cut off.  I tacked and was soon racing towards Richmond.  A couple more tacks and I was heading up Racoon Strait.  This is one of the most beautiful parts of the bay.  Angel on one side and Tiburon on the other.  They call this area, the California Riviera.  Time to head back so I rig the spinnaker for a run to the barn.  I have to give myself enough room to miss the tip of Angel.  I set myself up and barely make it as the wind is pushing me towards the island.  Once free of the island, I adjust the pole and take off for our home port.  It's a lovey run and I am passing a few boats without the luxury of this beautiful sail.  I give myself plenty of room on the approch, head downwind and douse the spinnaker with our year old sock.  It works perfectly and I cleanup the spin gear and then deploy the jib once more and sail all the way into the marina.  What a nice day on the bay.  After some clean up and a little nap, I head home for a great nights sleep.  Another bon voyage indeed!

Extreme Fun

Just back from vacation in Cancun, MX.  My wife and son along with Dan and Mo.  We explored some ancient under ground rivers and caves filled with clear water.  Called cenotes, they are filled with stalactites.  Some are huge, others very small and all works of art.  We also visited an ancient Mayan city called Chichen Itza.  Amazing temples and ball court.  If you ever visit this area of the world, be sure to explore these beautiful treasures.  Adios.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Amazing Sunday Sail on SF Bay

The weekend started rainy and cold, but by Sunday morn, it was sunny and mild.  Wind forecasts were predicting 10-15 knot winds for a perfect late fall sail.  The crew showed up at 11am with Dave, Paul and Ginny and Ryan and Caroline.  Kona and I had had a nice sleep on board the night before and after a few chores, we were ready to shove off.  The wind was very light as we made our way towards Treasure Island.  We cleared the pier and the wind came up a bit.  Heading towards the city, we dodged two tankers heading our way.  With a tack towards Angel the wind hit 12 knots and we were moving along at 6-7 knots.  Soon we were under the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was getting close to sunset so we were heading back and getting ready to raise the chute.  We lined ourselves up so we could have a straight shot to the barn.  As we headed home, the sun was about to set right under the bridge.  As it did, the high clouds came alive and it was a spectacular sunset from the water.  We got in about 6pm and thanked our lucky stars for such an amazing sail with good friends on a beautiful day on our lovely bay!

Pics of the Week

Click the pic for a larger view.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

New World Record for Largest Wave Surfed

Pretty amazing!  Somewhere off Portugal.  Garrett McNamara surfs a 90 foot wave.  Come April, that wave could be worth $90k in the XXL Challenge.  $1000 for each foot!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Baja Haha 18 - An Adventure!

This story begins with a phone call that would drastically change the direction of the 18th annual Baja Haha.  The skipper and his wife had been delayed in their departure from Sausalito.  Their Islander 36 had required more time and money to bring her up to snuff for the journey to Cabo San Lucas and beyond.  They would have to sail nonstop to San Diego to make the start of the race.  The phone call came just 12 hours before my departure by plane to meet them in SD.  Lanea was on the line saying they were stuck in Monterey with big waves preventing them from safely heading south. They were bummed because they would miss the Haha.  They would still head south but would be 5 days or so behind.  I told her that I would head to SD to try and find a boat regardless.  I wished them good luck and set my sights on a new boat.  After all the boat shuffling I had seen in last years haha, I was confident I could find a spot without much trouble.

I arrived in SD mid afternoon and headed for the docks of Shelter Island.  I would hit as many boats as I could before sunset.  The police docks were the first place to look.  I hit a few boats there and if after a knock on the hull and no one was onboard, I would leave a note with my name and number.  On the fifth boat, I was introduced to captain Pat.  He had built this 67' schooner with his bare hands, from trees in his back yard.  She was solid as a rock and had a crew of 9. He told me if I could not find another boat, he would be happy to have me on board.  That was a great option if I could not find another spot.  From there I headed over to the San Diego Yacht Club to continue my search.  I was able to talk my way past the guard at the gate and hit the docks.  I ran into some additional boats but everyone was fine on crew.  There was a buzz at the club and I spoke to someone who mentioned it was the first induction ceremony into the Sailing Hall of Fame.  Schlocum, North, Connor, Cayard, Turner and 11 more were being honored.  How cool is that?  I struck out at the club so headed to dinner at a local eatery.  After dinner, I had a hot tub at the Kona Kai where I was staying and then hit the hay.

Next morning I started with a swim and complementary breakfast.  I rent a much too small for me bike and head out in search of more marinas.   I heard a bunch of boats were at Cabrillo Marina so I headed that way.  All Haha boats carry a green Haha burgee near the spreader.  As I head into the marina I begin to see 20-30 of these burgees.  I make the rounds and speak to the skipper or leave a note.  By mid afternoon I have a few possibilities but nothing firm.  There is a gathering at 1630 of the Haha folks.  I decide to go have lunch and then return.  Upon my return, I  meet most of the skippers and no one has an opening.  By now I have knocked on about 50 hulls with no luck.  This is turning out to be much harder than I expected.  I needed to get the bike back before 6 so off I went back to the hotel.  The baseball playoffs were on and so I headed to the bar.  There was a birthday celebration going and I became part of the 90th birthday celebration.  After cake and talking to a few of the guests, I headed down to the hot tub.  A few boaters showed up and we had a great time with boat stories.  Keen was 20 and heading to Australia with his dad.  Chris was getting away from the Alaska cold.

Next mooring I swam and jogged and then enjoyed another nice breakfast in the restaurant.  My plan was to head to the skippers meeting with a sign the front desk gal made for me, do you need crew?  I was standing right at the entrance of the meeting and no luck.  The meeting was about to begin, when I got called over by the assistant Poobah and the phone was thrust into my hand.  Brian was on the line and they had just splashed a project boat back in the water and were looking for two crew.  What kind of boat, I asked.  A 55' steel cutter called Go for Broke, was the reply.  They are heading to the party and will find me there.  At 2:30 they show up and we get acquainted.  Steve is the owner and Brian is the first mate.  The boat is not in perfect shape but she is ready for the trip.  I introduce them to Adam who is also looking for a spot.  They agree on both of us and off we go to do some last minute provisioning.  Our driver is a saint of a guy who is Adam's cousin.  He has a big truck and room for all our gear.  We head to the boat to load it and settle in for the night.  It takes a good three hours to get organized and clear room for my stuff.  I will have the v berth which is not in the best shape but it will work.  The saloon area is unfinished and is filled with boxes and books.  The galley is working and cramped as they just installed the stove.  We hit the bunk at 11 and settle in.  Next morning is the start of the Haha at 11am.  We are up early as we have to get to the starting line from the Coronado area.  We make it back to the police dock and meet Adam for pick up.  Off to the starting line we go.  There is little wind, so the race begins as a rolling start, meaning everyone can motor.  There are 170 entries and 150 boats at the starting line.  I am very happy to be on one of those boats!  We head south in the fog and light winds.  The boat is huge and very heavy.  Did I mention it was 44 tons?  Most boats of this size would be half that.  I have never heard of a boat for recreational sailing that weighs this much or even close. The boat was built by a survivor of the WW2. His regiment was known as "Go for Broke" and they went on some very dangerous missions with a GFB attitude.  After the war, one of them suggested a round the world voyage on a sailboat.  The survivors agreed and he went to work on building a strong safe boat for his friends.  However, by time he finished 8 years later, all has friends had passed on or were too fragile to take the voyage.  So he set off by himself to sail the planet on GFB.  Here is some history and a video on the boat.  Click here.

With the start at 11 we are on the line and moving south.   We are motor sailing with just the main and moving at 5 knots. We set 4 hour watches and I have the 4- 7 slot in the morning and evening. My first watch is uneventful as the autopilot is doing the driving. In the evening the wind comes up and we unfurl the genneker for a little more speed.   The wind is currently at 12 knots. I hit the sack after a nice thai chicken meal prepared expertly by Adam.   My watch came up and the stars were amazing. Jupiter was off to starboard. Had a nice sunrise and then after my watch we lazed in hammocks as the wind was light. Later in the day a skipjack was on the line. Brian prepared an excellent meal that evening.

I come out for my morning watch at 0400 and it is blowing in the low 20's.  Adam is ecstatic as the speeds have been in the 8+ range.  I take over the helm and the boat is still driving us forward on our heading.  The wind is fluctuating a bit but for the most part strong.  About an hour into the watch, the boat speed is down in the 2's and she has rounded up.  I turn off the auto pilot and get control.  Back on course, we continue to hit the mid 7's and an occasional 8. The wind settles down about mid morning and we are back to motor sailing.  My issue is that I don't feel like I am sailing until the motor is turned off and the boat slids effortlessly thru the water.  I will have to make some adjustments for this trip!

My Wednesday morning watch begins beautiful with lots of stars but soon turns cloudy.  By day break, we have rain in the cockpit.  What is going on?  After sunrise, it begins to clear and some squalls begin to roll thru.  The wind is in the high teens.  We are finally sailing.  The boat speed is 5-6 and we are seeing some nice swells.  During the day the wind stayed in the low 20's and we were moving right along. Little did we know that closer to shore, the fleet was taking a pounding.  Some boats reported waves of water in the cockpit.  Terrible conditions and survival sailing.  Weird how we can be near the same area and have nothing close to those conditions.

My morning watch on Thursday begins at 0400 and we are getting close to our destination and the close of the first of three legs.  Adam has been plotting our position on the chart every 30 mins. And we are looking like a sunrise arrival.  Adam is a master with the chart and getting bearings off other boats and such.  It's great to have him at the chart table taking care of the nav work.  Several boats in the area, but the wind is light and we are moving at about 4 knots.  We finally bring the boat up to 1800 rpms at daybreak. By 0730 we have the hook set and the hammock up.  We have mimosas in the cockpit to celebrate our arrival along with banana pancakes.  We head to town on the dingy to get a shower and food.  We have lunch and beers then head over to the baseball game.  See some folks we know and then after take in Vera Cruz for dinner.  Take a panga home and it is very difficult to find the boat but after 15mins, there she is.

Today is the beach party and we are ready.  At noon, Adam and I take a panga to the beach.  We are some of the first to arrive.  We help set up the volleyball net and have a nice afternoon on the court and meeting more folks. They also host a potluck and we have a feast with lots of fresh fish from the fleet.  We finish out the afternoon with a walk to pick up trash and then head to the boat for dinner and a glass of wine before sleep.  My wife is texting the world series update every inning and I am passing the news to the fleet via VHF.  Cardinals win the World Series!

We are up early for departure.  The winds are light again and so we are motor sailing.  I usually take a nice nap before my watch.  Upon waking up we are more than 20 miles from the coast.  Adam is refreshing me on chart plotting and it really helps to have a big table in the cockpit to work off of.  My watch is uneventful and dinner is excellent with a fresh tuna pasta dish.  We are eating well.  I go to bed around 2000.

My morning watch is starry and beautiful.  I put on the Neville brothers and rock out with the sunrise. I am enjoying having music on this trip.  We had none last year.

After breakfast I rig up my hammock in the bow.  My butt is in the dinghy which stops me from swinging with the boat motion.  I think I have the most comfortable seat in the fleet.  During my afternoon watch. I decide to cook the meal as well. We start with some sausages and finish with a salad and chicken.  I hit the hay early to be ready for my morning watch and the entrance to Bahia Santa Maria.

At 0400 we are very close to the entrance. In a few hours we will have the anchor down.  After breakfast I go for a swim in this lovey bay.  I talk to another boat called Distant Drum and they jump in too.  The water is delightful.  Upon my return, I speak with the skipper and we decide to throw a party in honor of Halloween.  We put the word out and folks are excited.  We spend a good portion of the day getting the boat in ship shape.  At 7:15 we have our first of fifty guests arriving.  Folks are very interested in the boat and we are doing tours and retelling the history.  We have a great group of folks aboard and we have a blast.  One gal couldn't get a ride over so she swam to the party.  Marlee is her name and she is a hoot.  I make it to 0100 and the party goes to 0300.

We are all a bit hung over in the morning and I spend a few hours in the hammock.  That did the trick.  We head to the beach party and more good times ensue.  Lots of friendly folks and the food and band are awesome.  No volleyball at this spot as the tide is too high.  Bummer.  The weather is perfect.

Back at the boat, Marlee joins us for dinner and a movie.  Life Aquatic with Bill Murray.  I am beat and go to sleep around 2200.  Next morning we are up at 0530 readying the boat for departure.  Winds are very light and we motor sail slowly towards Cabo which is about 150 miles to the south.
The wind stayed light all day.  It was warm and sunny as we headed towards our destination.  Brian catches a 40" dorado and dinner is prepared on the grill.  After we watch a documentary called Endgame.  I hit the hay about 2100 to get some rest for my last watch of the trip.

Up on watch at 0400.  Stars were out and Jupiter was looming large.  I went up to the bow and sure enough we had 6-8 dolphins playing in the bow wake.  With the bioluminescence trailing them it looked like something out of Tron (1st one).  As I was enjoying the daybreak, a flying fish flew right into my crotch.  I picked him up quickly and threw him in the water no worse for the wear.  We had a beautiful sunrise and then my last watch was done.  I really enjoyed the 4-7 watch as I got both sunrise and sunset. Now we are less than 20 miles from Cabo and the finish line.
We made it to Cabo at 1730 and dropped the hook.  We made it.  It was a great trip.  Loads of friendly folks, great weather and good times.  For our heavy boat, there was not much wind as we needed 20 knots to get her going.  The wind was 8-12 most of the time.  I really enjoyed our crew and that's what made this trip so memorable.  Here's a toast to Steve, Brian and Adam!

 Adam as Popeye

 Santa Maria Party

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Baja Ha Ha 18

I am departing this week for San Diego and the start of the Haha rally.   The boat I am joining is an Islander 36 with a crew of 4.  The rally begins on Monday and will take us 750 miles down the baja coast to Cabo San Lucas.  You may remember that I did this trip last year and had a blast.  Some of the folks I met are going again and it will be great to see them again.  I had two amazing highlights last year that I will always cherish.  Waking up to 1000 dolphins around our boat and swimming in the bioluminesent waters of Santa Maria Bay.  Plus the volleyball and the beach parties.  I hope we can top it this year!  I will return on Nov. 7th and start posting the logs of the trip.   Wish me a Bon Voyage!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Classic Palastic - Downeaster 38

Any Downeaster owner who has spent any amount of time berthed in a public marina has answered two questions many times:“How big is that?” and “Is that a wood boat”? A generous bowspirit,hefty beam,wineglass transom and the hull’s simulated planking lines are responsible for the general impression that these beauties are bigger and older than they are. The gold-washed navy blue or forest green clipper laminate on the bow is a further contribution to the salty image of this classic ‘70s sailboat.
Created in California with a Maine sailor’s sensibilities in mind,the Santa Ana-built Downeasters evoked nostalgia and tradition when introduced in the 1970s. That’s even more the case these days.
There are three sizes in the DownEast Yacht line, 32-foot, 38 and 45. The vessel was conceived by Bob Poole, a California transplant from the East Coast. The boat’s designer is Henry Morschladt of Newport Beach, California. A well-known naval architect,he incorporated military marine and Loyd’s of London specifications into his exacting craft. A sturdy, seaworthy cruising vessel in which no bond or seacock was compromised is the result. The DownEaster Yachts Inc. company operated from 1975-81, officially ceasing to exist in 1983. Available statistics indicate 412 models were produced, with 125 still currently registered by hull number. One hundred and thirty-four were DE 32s,and 27 were DE 45s. DE 38s led the pack,with 251,11 of which are erroneously listed as “41s,” again attesting to the “big” image this classic sailboat engenders.
Downeaster Yacht models featuring cutter,ketch and schooner rigs were offered, along with an amazing array of options above and belowdecks that contributed to the uniquely individual personality of each boat,including a few pilothouse models. A tiller was standard on the 32-foot in 1977 and an emergency tiller system was available on all models.
A Farymann 24hp diesel was standard issue by the late 1970s. Underpowered? It’s considered a legitimate question and many a Downeaster owner has upgraded,most commonly to a Yanmar 27hp. But no one argues with the original engine’s chief advantages,a thrifty appetite for fuel and an ability to be hand-cranked. With an approximately 900-mile cruising range and a viable way to get the engine going if the starter poops out,it’s no wonder the Downeaster is known as a “go anywhere” boat. The engine room, however, is far from ideal. As with the rest of the vessel, it appears to be bigger than it is but requires a variety of contortions to gain access. Another drawback is the bilge. Unlike Lin and Larry Pardey, we won’t be storing wine down there. The access is comprised of two tiny hatches forward and a little Lucite window in the drip pan under the engine.
Novices on the water find the Downeaster forgiving and even willing to take punishment, while veteran sailors have learned to make the most of her sail plan. The California-built sailboat has migrated all over the world, including at least three global circumnavigations.  Boasts of 9-12 knot top speeds aside, a 6-7 knot cruising speed provides a pleasant ride without undue heel. These boats weren’t built to race and are impervious to light wind,which can provide many opportunities to experiment with the furling headsail or throw a spinnaker up,an enjoyable anomaly in this class of vessel. In 15-25 knot winds the modified full keel, with keel-hung rudder,provides superb balance,even in rough seas, under sail or motor-sailing. Heeling a Downeaster under the rail takes extra effort by an advancing storm front or the adventurous sailor looking for a thrill. The same care given to the boat’s core infrastructure is apparent in the strong rigging and good-quality winches.
 In last year's Baja Haha, we had a sailor fall asleep and the auto pilot took this Downeaster up on the beach at Santa Maria.  She was lost a few days later.

The Downeaster cockpit is decidedly unique,with no coamings from hatchway to rail. It drains well, but can be hard on the back. Ergonomic and aesthetic modifications abound. The wide-open cockpit also provides for easy sheet handling. A full dodger was an available option on the original models and many Downeast sailboats sport an “Arabian Sultan” awning and big cockpit cushions first mentioned when the boat was reviewed by Motor Boat & Sailing in May 1977.
Bigger is also definitely better when it comes to the Downeaster’s cabin plan,which encompasses lavish use of teak, 70s-style spindles and cabinetry,a faux leather cabin ceiling and a clever fold-up table that accommodates two dining couples comfortably. Funky 1970’s touches notwithstanding,the 6’9” headroom defines the feel of the Downeast interior,adding light and spaciousness.
The 32-foot Downeast theoretically sleeps six,with up to three salon bunks and a quarterberth aft starboard. Because the vessel allows for singlehanding,many owners feel confident and cozier with appropriate modifications for couples or solo sailing. The original models have two doors closing off the V-Berth and adjacent head from traffic in the main salon. The U-shaped galley with beveled stove,refrigerator/freezer and icebox,and double sink is practical and efficient. Storage includes two well-ventilated hanging lockers and numerous cubbies.
Early reviews of the Downeaster line said the boats were probably “overbuilt.” In this day and age,that’s a compliment. The Downeast is a boat for sailors who appreciate  quality workmanship with attention to detail.
No review of this impeccably crafted line would be complete without comments from “The Group,” my nickname for the Downeast sailors who enthusiastically and coherently share information on a regular basis on the “unofficial” Downeast website. The site was established five years ago and has weathered the perils of the latest developments in electronic technology. The site, at www.downeaster.net is a common-sense resource that is as user-friendly as the boat it celebrates. There are 28 registered members on the site,with many more participating,including Todd Iorio,who provides hosting services for the site,Gerry O’Donoghue,website administrator,U.S. Rep Jim Saxton,of New Jersey,and Tony Strong,all DE38 owners. Strong actually “built” his 38 after securing a bare hull in 1988. In 1997 her sailed her to Hawaii and also cruising to Samoa and Tonga. At least three Downeasts have completed circumnavigations in recent years,again attesting to the “go anywhere” legend.

From Cruising World.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Sailing the Napa River

Tex, my golden Kona and I have just returned from a glorious trip up the Napa River to downtown Napa.  We started the trip with a spinnaker run up San Pablo Bay to Vallejo.  We hit the Napa River and the wind was perfect for sailing up the river.  The wind direction and river orientation allow us to sail the river without tacking.  It's amazing to be sailing so fast on such a narrow river.  We reached our destination of the Napa Valley Yacht Club at 5:30.  We headed up to the bocce court for a spirited best out of three.  Then it was on to dinner on the boat along with some nice wine.  Monday we were up early for some wine country appointments.  William Hill, Luna, and Reynolds.  It was about a 30 minute bike ride to the wineries.  We had a great time riding in a mist like rain.  Monday night it rained so we hung out at the boat with a nice dinner and some Saturday Night Live.  Tuesday we had to fix some flats but not too worry we made it out about 11am for our next round of wineries.  My niece Julie showed up at one of the wineries and joined us for a few days.  She is on a road trip from the east coast.  That evening we had a nice time hanging on the boat with some more great food and fun.  On Wednesday we moved the boat to the Carneros region for more wine tasting.  Julie met us and we headed off to Mueller winery and had a great time chatting with Julius as he poured us some tasty tidbits.  He mentioned that we could ride our bikes thru the winery for a nice short cute to Etude.  That was cool.  We had a very nice taste at Etude and then got hit by a huge rain storm.  We retreated to the boat for lunch and then headed out by car to Artesa Winery.  One of the most beautiful wineries in the area, and the wine was good too.  The next morning we headed back to the bay with a nice motor down river.  We hit San Pablo Bay and there was a big storm off the starboard beam.  We heard thunder at one point.  It was heading south and soon it found us and hit us with a 30 minute downpour.  We had the proper clothing and no problems.  Once we got to the Richmond Bridge, the wind piped up and we sailed out to Angel Island.  The Blue Angles were practicing and we saw some nice flyovers.  We headed to Sausalito after a beautiful sunset and tied up at Schoonmaker Marina.  Spent the night there and it was a quiet one.  Up early as they were working on the dock.  We headed out for breakfast floating off the GG Bridge.  Beautiful.  The breeze came up from the east and we headed to a beach on Angel so Kona could get a run.  He loved it and so did I.  Around noon the wind came up for real and we headed out to the Pacific for some wave riding fun.  On our way back, a fishing boat passed and slowed.  We caught up with them and they asked if we would like a salmon.  We said sure.  Tex went on deck and made a great catch of o big fish!  That was classic!  Then it was back on the bay for the Blue Angels show.  We sailed and watched their intricate display of acrobatics.  Back to our slip in Emeryville after the show, we took a quick nap and then cleaned up the boat.  It was another great trip up the Napa River!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tomales on Hold Till Next Year

In preparation for our trip to Tomales, I had a rigger come out for an inspection of our 30 year old rig.  We have some issues with the goose neck, corrosion in the bottom front of the mast and a spreader that is loose.  It will take some time to get all these things fixed and he recommends not going out on the ocean until we get the repairs made.  I called my first mate Tex and we decided to go to a favorite spot, Napa!  We will depart on Sunday for the trip and it will be awesome!  And alot easier on our rig.  I wish I had called him a month earlier!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Miss Swiss

A guy can dream can't he?


Sunday Sail in San Francisco

Took the skipper of our Baja Haha cruise out for sail on Sunday.  It was raining on the way to the boat but I had studied the forecasts and knew it was going to clear.  We headed out about noon with a slight drizzle in the air.  We hit a light wind line just outside the channel and started to sail.  After the first tack it picked up to 12 knots.  As we continued towards the end of the pier, it was in the high teens and looking good.  We made it past the end of the pier and we set a course for Angel Island.  It was slowly starting to clear. Near Alcatraz we hove to for a quick lunch.  Then it was a nice run to Sausalito.  The sky was blue and the sun was out.  We threw on the kite for the run home and it was a beautiful downwind race to the barn.  The wind gusted a few times and we rounded up a few times but quickly got her under control and heading in the right direction.  Conor and I both really enjoyed the sail and we are so glad the rain did not deter us from this awesome day on the bay!

The City from WTK Photography on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wind Power

Back in the mid 80's I was living in Delaware for a year and working with my dad.  I had fallen head over heals with windsurfing and decided to start a sailing club.  I put out an ad in the local sports mag and had a bunch of interested folks.  Our plan was to schedule group day trips and over nighters to different locations on the Delmarva Peninsula.  Soon we were well over 20 members and having a ball.  The Chesapeake, Dewey Beach, several lakes in the area and more.  I sent out a monthly schedule and it was a hit!  My fondest memory was a trip to Dewey Beach in DE in the early fall.  We had rented a house for the weekend and had a dozen sailors.  It was after dinner and the wind really came up when the idea struck me that we should go for a night sail on the bay.  We each had a small glow stick on our mast and hit the beach.  The wind was in the 20's and we were flying across the bay.  It was my very first night sail!  We all had a blast and then we headed home.  The wind continued thru the weekend and we sailed the heck out of that bay.  The name of the club was Wind Power (after the Thomas Dolby song that I love).

Sojourn to Tomales Bay

Tex and I are preparing to depart for Tomales Bay next weekend.  This is our first ocean voyage together and we are excited.  We are taking all the precautions as in life raft, GPIRB, etc so we can have a safe trip.  We depart with the ebb on Sunday 10-2, and head to Drake's Bay.  The next morning we will head up to the entrance of Tomales Bay.  This entrance has claimed many lives over the years due to sneaker waves.  I have studied the charts and tides and the best time to enter is towards the end of a flood, which we will have in the afternoon that day.  The sneakers come up during the ebb.  We plan to spend two days in the bay and then head back.  Tomales is loaded with wild life and flat sailing.  It should be a great adventure and one you will be hearing about after our trip.  If you would like to read about another sailors journey to Tomales, go here.
Click the chart for a larger view.