Saturday, January 28, 2012

If only I could be 22 once more!

I never get tired of these Yacht Week vids!

Go for a Sail Aboard the "Addiction"

You heard right folks, a free ride on our lovely sloop sometime this spring.  If you have been a faithful reader or just have an interest in a sport that I am crazy about, then plan to join me for a sail!  We will head out of Emeryville and hit all the hot spots on the bay, Alcatraz, Angel Island and Tiburon.  Kona (my golden retriever) will be there too.  We will set a date for the spring and head out in to the wild blue.  It will be a safe and sane run that will be comfortable for all.  If you have any interest, send me a note and we will take five-six folks out on the SF Bay.  Send a note to me fungod at
I have taken hundreds of folks out on the bay and this will be a fantastic way to get a sense of this amazing bay we live next to.  Join us!

Saturday Morn Vids

Enjoy this beautiful day!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mast Work

Last fall, I was preparing for a trip up to Tomales Bay.  It's about 40 miles north of the Golden Gate and requires some ocean sailing to get there.  Our boat has been sailing the bay for the last 11 years with zero ocean miles.  This was going to be a big deal so in preparation for the the trip, I did two things.  First, I had our fuel tank polished as over many years, crude builds up in the fuel tank.  When you hit the swell of an open ocean, the crude gets into the fuel lines and can create a blockage and this in turn cause the engine to stop working.  The other thing I did was hire a rigger to come out and look at the mast and rigging.  After his inspection, he called me and said donot go to Tomales.  He found some serious corrosion at the base of the mast.  We have an inspection port near the base (a hole in the mast) and over the last 30 years water and spray have created corrosion and weakened the base.  It was so bad that I took a screwdriver to a small hole and easily made it bigger.  Not good.  We took our boat over the the yard and they performed a butt cut.  The cut off the base and then use a very rigged material to bring the mast back to its original height.  The work has been completed and the mast looks great.  If you have an older boat with an inspection port, I would take a look at your mast base.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Top 5 Cruising Tips from a Cruiser

I have been following a fellow cruiser on the net for the last 10 years as he sailed around the world on his 32' steel sloop.  The entries he posts from the trip are shoot from the hip, no punches pulled accounts of his feelings about his lot in life and some the hassles he experiences while visiting countries far from home.  His name is Lauri and you can read about his travels here.

With all his experience, I felt he would be a good candidate for some advice on cruising.  Here are his top 5 suggestions:

Hmm… five most important aspects of my trip…. That’s a tough one! Volumes has been written, most authors coming up with a few hundred important aspects.  I have a love-hate relationship with advice. I have asked for and listened to the advice of thousands of captains over the years. Some of it has been good, a lot of it has been either bad or unsuitable for my circumstances or otherwise not to my liking. It’s difficult to separate the “absolute truths” from the personal preferences. It’s safe to say: “your yacht must be water tight”  but it would be stupid to say: “you must go to Vanuatu”. 

Here’s my five things. It’s a pick of the day. My pick.
1.       A vessel that is heavy displacement, solid built, capable of making trouble free contact with the bottom. (It doesn’t have to be steel, an older, heavier built GRP will do). I like a long keel for directional stability, because it makes a yacht more sea kindly in heavy weather and helps her run downwind without putting too much strain on the helm. My preference is always for aft cabin / centre cockpit.  I like simplicity rather than complexity. With modern electronics, many stand-alone systems are better than one integrated system. An increasing amount of cruising problems arise form sophisticated, integrated systems.
2.       Self-steering. I shall never again underestimate the importance of self-steering in long-term, long-distance cruising. I would like to have three: A light weight electric for low power consumption in mild conditions, a heavy duty electric for difficult conditions and a wind vane as a power-free power-ful passage maker. I only had one when I left Australia. In Finland Annina insisted on the most expensive, fixed autopilot. That was the best item I had ever bought. On a passage, one needs to sleep, cook, eat, wash, keep a watch, possibly make minor running repairs, read charts, talk on the radio, perhaps retrieve weather info and so on and so on. 100% reliable self-steering of some sort, any sort,  is a must. (Aliisa’s wind vane never worked properly, which is a pity, as we often had to run the engine to keep the batteries topped up during cloudy passages with the big autopilot.
3.        One odd thing that comes to mind relates to freedom to come and go. Many yachts made arrangements for family / friends to join them on a leg or a cruising holiday on a group of islands etc. Nine times out of ten this caused problems; yachts were “forced” to head out in bad weather simply to make a flight on an island 100 miles away. People missed destinations they genuinely wanted to see because they had committed themselves to be in a particular port at a particular time. I never did that and I was much happier for it. The back bone of comfortable cruising for me is the freedom to come and go and stay according to the whims of the crew, the captain or the weather. Here, appointment often means dis-appointment.
4.       Electricity. I personally would not like to go cruising without a fridge. In our next boat I’d like to have a small freezer too. A PC is a must and in today’s world to be online is to exist. This all takes electricity.  During my cruising I noticed that diesel generators were one of the main causes of headaches for many people.  Aliisa did very well with 4 large solar panels over the years but as the use of laptops and internet became more common, the need for more power became a problem. We added a wind generator and I was very pleased with it. (5 or 6 blade wind gens make a lot less noise than the 3-bladers). In the next boat I will have two D400 wind generators and 1KW of solar. I will not have a diesel generator, but I may carry a small 4-stroke (Honda?) petrol genset for emergencies. Whatever the configuration in a given boat, my opinion is that only wind and solar will make you truly self-sufficient. And that means freedom to seek any out-of way bay for an anchorage for any length of time.
5.       Advice. I’ve listened to a lot of advice in my years. I have a love-hate relationship with advice. It’s tempting  to tell others what they “should do”. Yet, the best advice I can think of is: “don’t listen to other people’s advice”. We not only live in a rapidly changing world, but also one man’s paradise is another one’s shit hole. Guides (and other cruisers) are full of personal opinions and experiences, often very different from yours. It’s good to be safety conscious, but beware that people who tell you NOT to go somewhere have almost never gone there themselves! I feel that ignoring advice and not reading cruising guides helped me maintain my freedom to choose what I felt I wanted to explore. Sometimes the place was great, sometimes not, but either case was often contrary to other people’s opinions or even experiences. Whenever anyone tells you that “you must” do something, be it about a particular installation or equipment on board or a particular cruising area or destination, always ask them “WHY?”
I have been totally shocked about the amount of false / irrelevant / misleading / out dated / biased / incorrect information in printed cruising guides. I doubt I will ever buy one again. The only exception is what I call “hard-core” information on rocks, bays and anchorages. Mostly this is visible on your charts anyway, but some guides are good at pointing out safe anchorages. The best and almost the only useful guides I’ve seen are “100 Magic Miles” covering the Whitsunday islands in Australia and Eric Bauhaus’ Panama Cruising Guide, with charts and satellite images of all important areas.
One of the best items on board – one I loved to use and would not go without – was the old SSB/Ham radio. While the cruiser’s chit-chat is often full of the same bullshit you hear in yacht clubs world over, the information you get from another cruiser on location is at least up-to-date, even if it is coloured by his/her own personal experience.
I hope that was enough. There are a million things to consider, but you are already an accomplished cruiser. Cruising the world is not necessarily that much different from cruising your home coast. People are generally friendly, services and stuff is generally available and the boat will be an ongoing project throughout the cruising life anyway. I would always avoid waiting until “everything is ready for departure”. Everything will NEVER be ready for departure. Only the captain needs to be ready. 

Click on the pic to see a lager view of the map.

Thanks Lauri, that is some great stuff.  Hope to see you in the high seas!

Windsurf Awesomeness

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Top Sailing Quotes

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  Mark Twain
 “There's no thrill in easy sailing when the skies are clear and blue, there's no joy in merely doing things which any one can do. But there is some satisfaction that is mighty sweet to take, when you reach a destination that you never thought you'd make”  -  unknown
I don't know who named them swells. There's nothing swell about them. They should have named them awfuls.   -Hugo Vihlen 
Red sky by morning, sailor take warning. Red sky at night, sailor's delight.   - Anonymous
I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it - but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.
- Oliver Wendel Holmes

Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made.   Robert N. Rose

There is NOTHING--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.    Kenneth Grahame
Boats, like whiskey, are all good.   Culler
A lot of people ask me if I were shipwrecked, and could only have one book, what would it be? I always say 'How to Build a Boat    Stephen Wright
The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.   William A. Ward

 At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much.    Robin Lee Graham
I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky.  And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.   John Masefield
"The ocean has always been a salve to my soul...the best thing for a cut or abrasion was to go swimming in salt water. Later down the road of life, I made the discovery that salt water was also good for the mental abrasions one inevitably acquires on land."   Jimmy Buffett
"The sea is the same as it has been since before men ever went on it in boats."
- Ernest Hemingway

 The lovely thing about cruising is that planning usually turns out to be of little use.
- Dom Degnon

 There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea.
- Joseph Conrad

 "Cruising has two pleasures. One is to go out in wider waters from a sheltered place. The other is to go into a sheltered place from wider waters."   Howard Bloomfield
Mackerel skies and mares tails, soon will be time to shorten sails.   Old sailors proverb.
 There is nothing like lying flat on your back on the deck, alone except for the helmsman aft at the wheel, silence except for the lapping of the sea against the side of the ship. At that time you can be equal to Ulysses and brother to him.    Errol Flynn
"One of the best temporary cures for pride and affection is seasickness."
- Henry Wheeler Show

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Give him a fishing lesson and he'll sit in a boat drinking beer every weekend.   Alex Blackwell
A sailor’s joys are as simple as a child’s.   Bernard Moitessier
The days pass happily with me wherever my ship sails.   Joshua Slocum

"The sea finds out everything you did wrong."   Francis Stokes

“I start from the premise that no object created by man is as satisfying to his body and soul as a proper sailing yacht.”    Arthur Beiser (The Proper Yacht)
"The sail, the play of its pulse so like our own lives: so thin and yet so full of life, so noiseless when it labors hardest, so noisy and impatient when least effective."
- Henry David Thoreau

"Land was created to provide a place for boats to visit."     Brooks Atkinson
"Not all who wander are lost."     JRR Tolkien

There are three sorts of people; those who are alive, those who are dead, and those who are at sea. -  Old Capstan Chantey attributed to Anacharsis, 6th Century BC

The cure for anything is saltwater – sweat, tears, or the sea.   Isak Dinesen
The sea hates a coward.   Eugene O’Neill

To young men contemplating a voyage I would say go.    Joshua Slocum

A tourist remains an outsider throughout his visit; but a sailor is part of the local scene from the moment he arrives. - Anne Davison
"Men in a ship are always looking up, and men ashore are usually looking down."
- John Masefield

"A small craft in an ocean is, or should be, a benevolent dictatorship."   Tristan Jones

Any fool can carry on, but a wise man knows how to shorten sail in time.   Joseph Conrad
"It isn't that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better."   Sir Francis Drake

Via Chris@Bluemoon