Monday, March 28, 2011

Jaws Goes Wild

Rare Phenomena - Morning Glory Cloud

Here is something cool that I was not aware of, the Morning Glory cloud. Here is an explaination from Wikipedia:

A Morning Glory cloud is a roll cloud that can be up to 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) long, 1 to 2 kilometres (0.62 to 1.2 mi) high, often only 100 to 200 metres (330 to 660 ft) above the ground and can move at speeds up to 60 kilometres (37 mi) per hour. Sometimes there is only one cloud, sometimes there are up to eight consecutive roll clouds.

The Morning Glory is often accompanied by sudden wind squalls, intense low-level wind shear, a rapid increase in the vertical displacement of air parcels, and a sharp pressure jump at the surface. In the front of the cloud, there is strong vertical motion that transports air up through the cloud and creates the rolling appearance, while the air in the middle and rear of the cloud becomes turbulent and sinks.

The cloud can also be described as a solitary wave or a soliton, which is a wave that has a single crest and moves without changing speed or shape.

Friday, March 25, 2011

More Bonehead Moves than you can shake a stick at!

Stolen from CaptainBlack.

Modern Cruising

Here is a great description of cruising from a 30 something couple on an around the world cruise on their honeymoon.

There is truly nothing more magnificent that catching the wind in your sails, kicking your feet up and sailing off to a new horizon, a new place, a new adventure…

Traveling by sailboat is different than any other form of travel I have experienced. First of all, you are traveling in your home. Anything you need is there, usually within an arms reach.

Secondly, you are almost entirely self sufficient. We make our own energy with our solar panels and make our own water from the sea. We use so little energy and know so specifically what we need and when. It’s amazing to be able to measure your own carbon footprint. In addition, you have to work to get where you want to go – really work. You must trim sails, crank winches and steer your ship through waters calm and rough. The reward of finally getting to a destination by catching wind is truly something to relish. Finally, the world opens up to you in a such a way that it never did before. You become in tune with the rhythm of nature – the ebbing of tides, the clocking of winds, the direction of waves. Mother Nature is number one out here and to be surrounded by her, with her, know her and depend on her is a truly beautiful gift to experience.

I will be the gladdest thing under the sun, I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one.
- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Visit their blog here.

Rainy Days by the Bay

March has been wet and cold in the Bay Area. We have had 17 days of rain so far and with that some flooding and weather related problems. Up near Donner Summit in the Sierra's, almost 700 inches of snow has fallen. We could ski till mid August at this rate. Tide ebbing out the Gate will be much stronger when the snow starts melting. We found that out the hard way a few years ago. The water management folks are ecstatic as the reservoirs that hold our drinking water are almost full and the snowpack has not even begun to melt yet. This all bodes well for our great state as we have been behind in water deliveries for a handful of years. We should also have a banner year as far as wild flowers go. The hills are very green and spring like weather should arrive this weekend. If you are a bay area resident, make plans to get outside and play. You deserve it!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Awesomeness From the Hubble

Found a site with many of the top photos from our wandering telescope. Spoke to a guy a NASA and we were talking about the problems they had during the first few years with the mirrors used to get these fine pictures. Seems the folks in charge of grinding the mirrors to perfection made a small error and all the pictures were off. They sent up a space shuttle and the crew spent a week making repairs 300 miles above earth. Once she was powered up again, the images came back sharp and clear and beyond all expectations. My friend at NASA said, "It's amazing what you can do with a $629 million pair of contact lenses." Click this link for all the pics.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Trip Log: Sea of Cortez Bareboat Charter

Five young at heart men on an intrepid voyage in the Sea of Cortez. We flew in to Cabo

on Saturday afternoon the 12th of March. Our van driver was waiting and we took off

for 130 mile drive through the desert to the town of La Paz. Arriving about 7pm, we off

loaded our gear on the 41' Morgan Out Island Ketch and headed to dinner.

After a great night sleep, we needed to do a walkthrough with the boat manager and provision the boat. Time was of the essence however, we did not depart until 3pm.

Winds were light, so we motored to our destination for the

evening. We were headed to a small bay north of town. We got the hook down in a

wonderful spot with several anchored boats in an adjacent bay. As soon as we toasted

our arrival, a panga is heading our way. Could this be the the lobster fisherman we had

heard about with fresh lobsters for trade? Not so fast. Turns out it was five federales

with machine guns. The skipper boards our vessel as the boat circles with guns at the

ready should we make a sudden move. He wants to see our papers and boat docs. They

were very professional and there were no problems. At the end he hands me a form to fill out. I need to rate his performance and was he courteous, etc. I look over at the machine

gun and figure I should give him high marks. They depart and we continue our fiesta and

the BBQ comes out for some Thai Chicken. We have a nice night looking at the stars

and go for a late night kayak around a small island. The pelicans don’t like it and 100’s

fly off in the night. We have a great sleep and lots of dreams.

Day 2 we take off after an egg breakfast and head to the first island group called Isla Espiritu Santo. Huge island that broke away from the mainland many years ago. Lots of cool coves and beaches surrounded by towering mountains. We head to Gabriel Bay and

anchor in 8 feet of water. Swimming, kayaking and some hammock time are in order.

Burritos are served in the cockpit along with cold cervezas. At 2pm, I call for a sail and

we load up and head out. The wind is up and soon we are doing 6 knots on our 41’ 1973

Morgan Out Island. All the sails are up and it is a glorious reach towards the Baja Peninsula. We sail for about 3 hours and then head in to a cove on the island for the night. It’s a bit windy but we find a nice spot and anchor for the night. Murray cooks up some steaks and we have

another round of Margs to celebrate our arrival. We have a tender that we are towing

and jump in for a tour of the bay. Dinner is awesome and we have a very warm night on

board. The stars are brilliant and we have an amateur astronomer on board and he gives a

tour of the heavens. Rigel, Spica, Aldebaran, Plelades, Betelgeuse and many more are visible as we are in the middle of no where. We head to bed around 11 for another round of dreams and snoring.

Day 3 starts with a motor to Isla Partida. The "parted island". The geology suggests an

active fault that has moved this land from the mainland as the San Andreas lies under the surface and is still moving things around at the pace of an inch a year. We anchored and

the kayaks hit the water and swimming in the 72 degree water commences. We relax,

have lunch and by 1pm we are setting sail for another run up the coast. The winds are

not as strong as the day before but we are heading north at a good clip and it is another

glorious day. The boat is on rails and we sit back with a cerveza in hand. After 3 hours

or so we head in to another cove for dinner and sleep. We find a beautiful cove but we

are inundated by friendly bees and need to pull up anchor and find another spot away from these creatures.The food on the trip is prepared each day by one of the crew and tonight is chili. All the food has been great so far. After some excellent conversation and a fine meal, I head into the master suite and watch a movie, Salt. Very fun. Also reading a great book on the iPad and loving the new 2. Did not sleep well but got lots of reading in.

Morning is sunny and we have huevos rancheros prepared by Arnie and we enjoy a float

in a beautiful bay. About 9am we head to a small island inhabited by seals. We all

dive and swim with these social beasts and it is a highlight for the crew. Lots of tour

boats out of La Paz and groups of kayakers. About noon we head off for our northern

most destination of Isla San Francisco. Winds are light and we are sailing the 16 miles

at about 3 knots. Takes 5 hours and we motor in to the cove. Lots of jellies so no

swimming. We meet a boat next door and they are cruisers from the Bay Area. Arnie out

does himself again and we have another awesome meal with lots of wine and more fine

conversation about Paul’s love life. Arnie and I continue our backgammon tournament

and I walk away with a few more victories. Sleep is fine and we have a restful night. It’s

Paul’s turn to cook today and we are hopeful he keeps the bar high.

Up around 8am for a breakfast of rice and eggs. After cleanup we discuss the day. We

are hanging around for another night at The Hook so we need to decide our itinerary for

this glorious day. We decide to head north and check out the next couple of coves and

maybe head up to another anchorage for lunch . We see the next seal rock and do a little snorkel as the boat idles around ready to pick up the divers. Lots of great fish and more seals. We head toward a fishing village on Isla Coyote and find a nice spot to anchor. We snorkel

the area and lots of fish abound this beautiful place. Two crew head to the fishery and

pick up a couple pounds of fresh yellow jack for dinner. We set sail upon their return

for a magical afternoon of sailing in light winds. The water color is very deep blue and

perfect. All the sails go up and we relax, joke and talk story. It’s amazing. After three hours of spectacular sailing, the wind dies and we motor back to the anchorage for sunset. We hike up to the bluff for one of the greatest sunsets of my life. We are 500 feet above a perfect anchorage with about 10 boats on the hook. As the sun sets, we can see blue whales spouting, dolphins in the anchorage and and fish jumping on the surface. Since this is a small island, we have a 360 view of the Sea of Cortez and sheer cliffs on both sides. I have a perfect perch and the sun goes over the Baja Peninsula. Wow!! We paddle back to the boat and dinner is served and it pasta with fresh fish off the bbq and some white burgundy. The best meal of the trip. We continue to open wine and the conversation is lively. We have a very warm evening in the cockpit and lots of laughter. Everyone heads to bed but I linger in the hammock in the bow and enjoy some great tunes and the almost full moon and a 20 knot breeze that has sprung up.

Delightful!!! A memorable day indeed!!

We depart before 8am for our trip home. It's a beautiful day but there is no wind. We motor back to the seal rocks and do another swim with the seals. One is circling me and we began a little dance where I chase him and then he chases me. How cool. After everyone returns to the boat we take off and continue south. We anchor in a nice cove and I go for a quick jog on the beach. Then It time for the sunset and Murray makes a quick call home. Rain and more rain in the Bay area as he says hello to his wife. We head back and two kayakers join us for the last round of margs and dinner. Our last night is grand and we have a windy, bumpy night in our berths. Up early, the wind is about 15 knots and we get to sail out of the anchorage. It's a little chilly but not too bad. The wind is on our nose but we are making way towards the harbor of La Paz. The wind dies around 11 and we motor the last two hours. What a fantastic seven days in Baja. There are no bars or services in this area as it is very remote and primitive. If you are looking for quiet anchorages, starry nights and great sailing, I highly recommend a week long charter out of La Paz!! If you are interested, please contact these folks.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Departing for the Islands

My boat partners and I are heading for La Paz, MX on Saturday for my first bareboat charter. We have a 41' Morgan ketch for a week to explore 5-6 island groups in the area. The wild life in the area is superb and we hope to see whales, dolphins, rays, seals and lots of birds. The area we are going to is fairly desolate and very pristine. I will be writing a daily journal and uploading the results upon my return on the 21st. Check back in 10 days for the trip reports! Adios amigos.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

77' Four Devils Charter Boat Sinks

"There's water over the floorboards." That's not what you want to hear at 7 p.m. on a dark night at sea.

But that's the news that Marion Dallond of St. Barth had for her boyfriend, Tom Perry, captain of the CNB 77 Four Devils, and crew Edmund Murray, also of St. Barth.

Tom and Marion couldn't have been more stunned. They'd been on the 10-year-old luxury yacht — $25,000 a week — for three years, had done the summer in Croatia, and had most recently sailed her 4,000 miles across the Atlantic to St. Barth. When the bad news came on the evening of March 2, they were 25 miles NNE of St. Martin on their way to Martinique to pick up the French owner for a month-long cruise.

The situation could have been worse — it was calm and there was only a four-foot swell. "It would have been pretty bad two weeks ago when it was blowing 30 knots and there was a big swell," agrees Tom. "But safety first, so Eddie and I got the liferaft ready and put the tender over the side. We quickly checked all the obvious places for the source of the ingress of water, but couldn't find anything. We would later strap tarps over the side to see if that would help, but there was no noticeable effect."

Tom then got on the satellite communication system and emailed the owner that they had water coming in, were in distress, and needed help. He also put out a mayday on VHF, which was picked up in Fort de France, Martinique, 200 miles away. Either it was a good radio bounce or the French have some sort of relay system. Fortunately, the mayday was also picked up by the Dutch navy ship Rotterdam, which sent a helicopter in advance, and immediately began steaming toward Four Devils.

By 7:45 p.m., Four Devil's engine died, and with it her bilge pumps. Tom got his crew off the boat and into the tender, with the liferaft streaming behind. He'd also paid out all the chain to keep the hull from being destroyed in the off chance she drifted up close to an island.

The Rotterdam arrived at about 9:30 p.m., and their smaller rescue boat reached the Four Devils crew about 10 minutes later. The Four Devils crew was taken to the Rotterdam for a medical and general assessment. Hey, it's the Caribbean, so for all the Rotterdam crew knew, the boat could have been filled with drugs, illegal immigrants or who knows what.

After Tom had a discussion with the Rotterdam engineers, they returned to Four Devils with some pumps to try to keep her afloat. But it soon became clear there was nothing they could do. A salvage tug appeared on the scene, decided there was nothing they could do either, and left. The captain of the Rotterdam was nice enough to stand by, so the Four Devils crew got to see the Four Devils' hull go under at about midnight, and the top of the mast disappear about two hours later. Four Devils is now 600 meters down, having joined countless other sailing vessels on the floor of the Caribbean Sea.

A former oysterman on Long Island sound before becoming a professional skipper 25 years ago, Tom Perry knows his stuff. He'd run J Class Yachts and skippered a number of mega sailing yachts to a string of important victories in Caribbean sailing regattas. We asked him how many times he's heard of large boats suddenly sinking.

"Oh, maybe five or six. But big motoryachts sink more frequently than big sailboats. Big Eagle sank in the Med, Miss Turnberry sank off St. Martin, and there was another big motoryacht that went down off Puerto Rico. And aluminum boats tend to fail catastrophically. But we have absolutely no idea what happened to Four Devils, as we've been actively sailing her for a long time and had just sailed her across the Atlantic. We can only speculate that she must have hit something that caused major damage to the hull."

Having had a great gig with a great owner for three years, Tom and Marion's futures are unclear. "We'll have to see if the owner wants to get another boat or not," says Tom. But the couple, who are good friends of Latitude's, have a backup plan, having purchased a great house in a small French village in the mountains an hour north of Nice. "Located in a beautiful little village, the house has three floors and six bedrooms, and it will be a great place for us to have a Chambre d'hote — bed & breakfast — and to raise a family."

Of course, you can't take sailing out of Tom's body any more than you can take the blood out. "We're also planning to get a classic 10 Meter — a sistership to Cotton Blossom that Dennis Conner restored — for chartering in the Med. In fact, there's one such 10 Meter, Hope, on San Francisco Bay. So we'll just have to see."

So much for the crew. How is the owner taking the loss of his yacht, particularly on the eve of a much anticipated month-long cruise? "Not very well," admits Perry.

Here is a link to the website with pics of this beauty:

via Latitude 38

Monday, March 07, 2011

Formation Flying

Exploring the Sky - Wingsuit Flying 2011 from Richard Schneider on Vimeo.

Stories of human flight have persisted for millennia. From Icarus’ brush with the sun, to DaVinci’s thoughts of eyes turned skyward watching the birds. Man has managed to fly for more than a century now, but it is only during the past decade of wingsuit development that we have been able to shed most of the mechanical aids and begin to glide with a minimum of help. Of course, so far we’re only able to do so with a minimal amount of glide.

The evolution of wingsuit flying, beginning with the extended free fall of a parachutist, has now reached the point where glide ratios of 2.5:1 (which means that it can glide 2.5 feet forward for every foot it descends) are possible. This doesn’t allow wingsuit fliers to travel very far or stay aloft more than a handful of minutes, but they are starting to achieve better control and are beginning to stretch their flights out farther and farther.

For anybody who has had dreams of flying through the clouds, this video gives us an actual glimpse of what it is like. Filmed in California, Florida, Nevada and Puerto Rico, the six-minute clip gives a look at some wingsuit formation flying and the simple joy of human flight.
via Wired Mag