Saturday, May 30, 2020

100% Virus Free Post

R2AK 2015

Team Freeburd's 1st attempt at the 750 mile race to Alaska.  They got 4th in 2015, did not finish in 16 and won in 17.  Amazing!  This may be the most demanding race in the Americas!  Love this vid!

Sir Peter

Watched a great film on the history of Peter Blake's sailing career.  It takes an in-depth look at his victories and his family.  And also the tragedy of his death.  You can rent the doc online for a couple bucks.  Enjoy!

Blakey from JachtFilm on Vimeo.</

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Funny Story About Knots

A few years ago, we were on a boys trip to Puerto Vallarta.  We chartered a sailboat for a sunset sail on a private boat.  We board and are welcomed with Pacifico's all around.  Once on the water, the captain starts bragging about his sailing knowledge.  So I ask him where the term knots originated?  He exclaimed that back in the day when the slaves were down below rowing the warships, those in charge would whip the slaves to make the ship go faster.  To do this, they would tie more knots on their whips to make it more painful and get them to work harder.  I laughed and asked him if he was crazy?  I then told everyone where the term actually came from. 

It goes something like this:
Ancient mariners used to gauge how fast their ship was moving by throwing a piece of wood or other floatable object over the vessel’s bow then counting the amount of time that elapsed before its stern passed the object. This method was known as a Dutchman’s log. By the late 16th century, sailors had begun using a chip log to measure speed. In this method, knots were tied at uniform intervals in a length of rope (48 ft or 8 fathoms between knots) and then one end of the rope, with a pie-slice-shape piece of wood (or “chip”) attached to it, was tossed behind the ship. As the vessel moved forward, the line of rope was allowed to roll out freely for a specific amount of time, which was typically tabulated with a sandglass (30 seconds). Afterward, the number of knots that had gone over the ship’s stern was counted and used in calculating the vessel’s speed. A knot came to mean one nautical mile per hour. Therefore, a ship traveling at 15 knots could go 15 nautical miles per hour.

For a number of years, there was disagreement among various nations about the exact measurement of a nautical mile, which is based on the Earth’s circumference. In 1929, the international nautical mile was standardized at 6,076 feet; it was adopted by the United States in 1954. A nautical mile is different from a mile on land, which is based on walking distance. The Romans first defined a land mile as 1,000 paces or pairs of steps; it was set at its current measurement of 5,280 feet by Queen Elizabeth I in 1593.

We all had a good laugh and enjoyed the sail and the humpbacks.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020


I love the story lines of this race.  How tough it is and how wild it can get.  Plus the innovation needed to propel your boat when the wind dies.  It will not happen this year due to you know what.  Check the vid below for a cool look at what some brothers put together.  You need some big cajones to finish this amazing race!

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

15 Years of H2uhO!!

This is kind of a big deal.  There are not many bloggers that last a year!  They say a blogger's year is equal to a dog year so in this case we are turning 105!  Feels like it.  Other sailing bloggers that have been going this long include the Tillerman at Proper Course and the Horse's Mouth, Joe.  Congrats to them!  Heck, they gave me some motivation to get started.  What really inspired me was a couple accidents on the bay.  The most famous of the two was the Santana 22 that got caught at the south tower of the GGB.  Their boat got caught in a huge breaking wave and they were rescued but the boat was at the bottom.  It was all caught on film by a surf photo guy.  I thought, why not do a blog about people making mistakes on the water so we can learn from them.  Bonehead Moves on the Water was born.  The site has evolved over the years, but we still are running with the main theme.

To recognize this momentous occasion, here is a look back at our voyage to Mexico and back to SF on my Jeanneau 40.  We returned about a year ago and I have very fond memories of the adventure.  I was looking thru an old journal of mine from 1986 and the seeds of this journey were born over 30 years ago!

I grew up boating on the Chesapeake Bay with my family and always enjoyed our time on a small boat.  After college at UNLV, I moved west to the Bay Area and started windsurfing on the SF Bay.  I loved the freedom and challenge as well as the speed.  As I hit my mid 30’s, I stated a family and so my time on the water slowed down.  As my son turned 4, I purchased a small sailing dory of 16 feet.  I sailed in the lakes, sloughs and eventually the bay.  As I got more confidence, I moved up to a 30 foot boat that I owned for 17 years.  I started dreaming of the possibilities of where could a small boat take me?  In this case, just about everywhere in the bay and delta. 

About a year and a half ago, I purchased a sexy 40 foot Jeanneau with the intention of sailing to Mexico and back with a few friends.  The boat was in great shape but needed some upgrades, and new electronics.  I also purchased a new, larger jib for the light airs in the south. 

In September of  2018, we departed San Francisco for a 4,000 mile voyage deep into Mexico.  Our first week was amazing as we harbor hopped down the coast in beautiful sailing conditions.  With stops in Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz and Monterey, we were living the sailing dream. 

Our first overnight run was from Monterey to Morro Bay, a distance of 90 miles.  We had 4 hour watches set up and my watch was from 2-6, am and pm.  At the age of 60, its important to have some down time and having 3 aboard gives you 8 hours off after your watch is complete.  Sleeping, eating, hanging out in the cockpit, reading or watching a movie was all part of our day and night on the water.  We made it down the coast without a hitch and arrived at sunrise.  We rested for a day and then took off mid morning for our most dangerous part of the adventure.  The rounding of Point Conception, the Cape Horn of California.  Many ships have met their fate here as the currents and waves of the north and south meet violently at times and many a sailor has perished here.  We had read many strategies about this stretch of ocean.  We chose the midnight run and it worked!  The wind was in the high teens and we were 10 miles off the Point.  We got slammed by one big wave but that was about it.  We arrived safely in Santa Barbara the next morning.

We had several sets of friends heading our way for 2 night trips to Santa Cruz Island, 20 miles to the west.  We experienced one of the trip highlights here, Painted Cave.  One of the largest sea caves in the world.  We kayaked in and even with a 120 foot high entrance, it got dark and scary quickly.  The noise the waves would make as they filled the air pockets of the cave was very eerie.  All of our guests got a chance to head in and they loved it.

We wandered our way to San Diego and finally entered Mexico in mid November.  Ensenada was our first port of entry and only 60 miles south of the US border.  We met with the customs folks and successfully checked into the country.  Breweries are very popular in this town and we visited several. 

In early December, we departed for our longest passage of the journey.  700 miles down the Baja peninsula to Cabo San Lucas.  Our hope was to complete the run in 8-10 days.  A sailboat can average 100-120 miles in a 24 hour period.  Our first stop was a small island called Cedros for fuel and an overnight rest.  We departed at daylight and made it to Cabo in 7 days.  We had great wind south of Cedros and sailed smartly over the last 250 miles.

After a quick flight home for the holidays, we were on our way to Mazatlan and the mainland of Mexico.  As we departed, the winds were up and thoughts of heading back to the harbor crossed my mind.  Instead, we cracked off a few degrees for a more comfortable ride.  We decide to skip Maz and head to Puerto Vallarta.  A longer sail of about 300 miles, but a much safer choice based on the wind conditions.  We had 3 weeks to explore this beautiful bay and have a few friends and my son visit us.  We sailed, toured the city and made new friends along the way.  My favorite anchorage was Yelapa.  A deep valley with rich tropical forests surrounding us, this is an exotic paradise. 

From PV, we headed to our southern most destination of Zihuantenejo another 300 miles to the south.  Some of the loveliest stops are along this coast.  Pariso, Cureyees, Tenicatita and Las Hadas were all amazing stopovers.  Our goal was attend a music fest in Ztown, so we continued south. 

Several sets of friends joined us here and we had a ton of fun taking them out to the islands and sailing on soft breezes in 80 degree temps.  It was sublime.  The last week of our stay here was the International Guitarfest.  We attended the first night and got a chance to hear all of the guitarists that would be performing during the rest of the week.  We feel in love with several and went back to see them over the course of the fest.  The concerts took place right on the beach and we had a table reserved and enjoyed the shows immensely. 

We departed on March 8th for San Francisco.  This would be the most difficult part of the trip.  They call this portion of the voyage, the Bash.  1800 miles into the wind and seas and the only logical option is to motor into it. Luckily, we have a very trusty Yanmar engine to get us uphill to our destination. 

On our way back, we revisited our favorite anchorages and found some new ones as well.  Our guide books were very helpful and helped us avoid any dangers.  We also had a GPS chart plotter that kept us safe and guided the way.  One of the great inventions over the last few years is AIS.  This feature allows you to see any ship or boat around you on the chart screen.  It will also tell you if you are in danger of colliding with said ship.  Great for our over night passages as the dark is really dark out on the ocean.

We eventually made to Cabo again after a fast sail across the Sea of Cortez.  The winds on the west coast come from the north.  Since we were sailing east to west, the winds were on our beam and we could set the auto pilot and enjoy the ride.  We did very little steering during the entire trip and let our auto pilot do all the heavy lifting.  She did an amazing job with only a few hiccups. 

Our next 1200 miles would be the hardest.  Winds of 30 or more knots on the nose, seas up to 14 feeet and an unforgiving, lonely coast.  We took off from Cabo expecting to motor the next 400 miles to the next fuel stop.  We made it to Turtle Bay and refueled and headed on our way to San Diego.  After a short stop there, we took off for Santa Barbara.  A large wind storm was headed our way with 40 knot winds.  We tucked in just before the winds hit and were “stuck” in SB for 4 days.  We made the most of it with wine tasting, bike rides and great meals out.

Our final leg was upon us.  After 5 weeks of motoring north, I was ready to get back home.  Once again, we had to round Pt. Conception, however, we hit it with low wind and waves and moved on to Monterey, 200 hundred miles north.  These were hard earned miles as it was cold and windy all the way up the coast.  

We harbor hopped up the coast again stopping in Monterey, Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay for quick overnights with departures at day break.  On April 17th, we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and back into our home waters.  The conditions were perfect with a flooding tide, light winds, and temps in the 70’s.  A rare day indeed on this windy bay we love.

The people of Mexico were very kind and helpful.  The crew was fantastic and made the trip.  The biggest hero was the boat!  She kept us safe and the mechanical side as well as the rigging were perfect.  I could not have asked for a greater 7 month voyage with awesome weather, great friends and family to share it with.  We love Mexico! (and California too!).  Thanks to my crewmates, Tex and Sean!!

We had over 25 friends and family join us during our voyage.  Thanks gang, for making our adventure so memorable.

 Somewhere near La Paz.

 San Francisco is near the top and Ztown is at the bottom.  We traveled about 4000 miles over 7 months.

Highlights of the voyage:

Departing SF and heading to port outside the Gate was amazing.  The wind was up as were the waves.  We sailed the 20 miles to safe harbor in Half Moon Bay.  Our very first landfall.

Sailing the Cali coast was a dream come true.  I have been up and down Hwy 1 so many times dreaming about being on a boat and here I was heading to Monterey and next, Santa Barbara!

Santa Barbara was delightful.  We spent 3 weeks in and around the harbor as well as extended stays at Santa Cruz Island with friends visiting from the Bay.

We pulled into a tiny anchorage on Santa Cruz and challenged a boat load of other dudes to a game of bocce.  We kicked their butts and laughed so hard for hours.  These guys were a ton of fun.

Painted Cave on Santa Cruz was a huge hit for us and our friends.  The largest sea cave on the planet!

Newport Beach with my friend Barry and his wife took us out for an amazing evening of cruising the waterways and seeing some beautiful waterside homes.

I had never been to Catalina and that was a blast.  We played bocce near the plaza.

San Diego - we could not find a slip due to the Haha.  I ended up calling all the marinas and one got back to me saying they had plenty of space and we could stay for 2 weeks!  We arrive at Fiddler's Cove and it turns out they thought we were military folks and this was a military harbor.  They realized our predicament and their mistake and allowed us to stay a week.  We had a ton of fun and they were all very kind.

My friend from Delaware, Steve, came out for a week and we had an amazing time.   Swimming, Frisbee, 420, bocce, hanging with my son and meeting his cousin for a dinner party.

We had a pretty good sail down the coast of Baja.  The best was from Santa Maria to Cabo with 20 knots of wind.

San Jose del Cabo was a very cool stop.  We hitchhiked back and forth and folks were happy to give us a ride.  What a cool art district with great bars and restaurants.

My sisters and family came down to Cabo for NYE and I took them all for a very relaxing sail along the coast.

Our first real cruising anchorage was off La Pax at an island anchorage.  There were several other boats around and we invited them all to join us for a drink.  We had 2 couples join us for a fun evening of stories and lies!  I am kidding about the stories.  : )

Yelapa in Puerto Vallarta was one of my favorite spots.  In a deep valley and surrounded by green lush hills, it is idyllic.  My son and nephew also visited PV along with John.  We had great sails with them and saw lots of whales breaching.

The trip from PV to Ztown was spectacular.  There were a couple anchorages that really stood out.  One of my favs was Pariso.  Secluded and a small bay inside a bay with a pristine beach right off the boat.  Gorgeous.  We were the only boat there!

Would I do this trip again?  A resounding no.  The bash home was against Mother Nature for 5 weeks.  30 knot winds and 15 foot seas were the norm.  The boat and crew took a beating and it was not fun.  I am so happy I did this trip on my boat, but the trip home was very uncomfortable.  However, the other 6 months were delightful!!  A bon voyage indeed!


Monday, May 04, 2020

Sailing to Surf and Surfing to Live

John John Florance is a pro surfer who loves to sail.  He recently purchased one of my favorite boats: a Gunboat 48 for a surfing safari to the South Pacific.

Here is the first in a series of four shorts about the adventure.  The production is well done and as a sailor with a passion for surfing (me), I had to share this amazing video series.

Welcome Aboard Hana!

We lost Kona 2 months ago to cancer.  It happened very fast and we were dogless.  It was depressing.  My wife looked around for a new pup (another golden) since we will be home for the foreseeable future.  She found one!  We picked up Hana (named after the small town on Maui near the Seven Sacred Pools) about a week ago and she has been a treat so far.  And a nice distraction from sheltering in place.  She is almost 12 weeks old and very cute.  She is slowly getting the hang of doing her duty outside and makes a game out of everything.  I looked back at when I took Kona on his first sailing trip and it was at about 4 months.  I will most likely take her up to the boat a few times before we go sailing.  Looking forward to that day!  Say hello to Hana!

Sunday, May 03, 2020

A sailor's worst nightmare!

Via Sail Mag:
Five days before Christmas, I booked my ticket home. It was evening, at the end of a long day in my marine repair shop, BoatRx. After being in Miami a month, it was already starting to feel like home. I reviewed my to-do lists, grateful to be returning to a steady routine as I drove back to the marina where Eclipse, my Tayana 42 and my home, had been moored since I’d arrived from Boston.

The wind was blowing hard when I got there. I went for a run to ease my mind and donned my foulweather jacket before taking off into the darkness. In no time, I was getting soaked by the spray blowing off the tops of the waves with the northeast gale. Luckily, the trip to the boat was both short and a fairly straightforward one—straight out the channel, then left at the red marker toward mooring #91, where I’d see the blue hull of Eclipse.

As soon as I made the left, I knew something was wrong. Mooring #91 was right where it should be, but there was no boat. I raced to the ball and grabbed the plastic thimble. It was intact, but there was no sign of the two lines I’d run through it earlier. Adrenaline shot through my veins as a wave nearly swamped me. I sprang into action.

There was a Catalina nearby. I headed over, shouting for anybody aboard. A kind man named Vernon came out on deck. He called a few friends of his who salvaged boats, but got nothing. We swapped numbers, and I headed downwind, knowing the wind was blowing onshore. Had Eclipse been stolen? In these conditions? How had she managed to break free and then make it through the mooring field without hitting any of the other boats?

I got the skiff up to full speed, pulling the drain plug to empty the water now coming in with the crashing waves. There was soon not a dry spot anywhere. The laptop in my backpack was likely destroyed. Moving downwind, past the mansions in Coconut Grove, I scanned the anchorages and shallows. Keep breathing, use your head, I told myself. You’re OK, even if the boat is gone. I had no light, no life jacket, no paddle, no radio. I had no choice but to return to the marina.

Arriving at the van, I immediately called the Coast Guard and filed a report. Moments later someone called back. “This is U.S. Coast Guard Sector Miami Beach. You said it was a 42ft blue-hulled sailboat, correct? Yeah, well, we just got a report of one dragging its anchor.” They also sent me a set of coordinates, which I entered into the Navionics app on my phone. The position was upwind of where I’d left Eclipse, but maybe someone had found her adrift and anchored her on the north side of the channel. I stripped down to the basics, grabbed a headlamp and took off again with the skiff into the darkness.

It was late when I arrived at the coordinates. It wasn’t Eclipse, but another blue 40-footer that had dragged anchor and was now sitting off Dinner Key. The boat seemed to be holding steady, so I went back to the van, feeling hopeless and totally discouraged as I climbed into the driver’s seat.

A short while later I phoned my friend Mat, who I’d been renting my shop space from. He and his wife, Lucia, said they’d have the couch ready with fresh sheets when I got there, and after taking another shower at the marina I drove over in the van and settled in for the night.

The next morning, Mat and I headed out again in the skiff. The wind was as bad or worse than ever, but now we had daylight on our side, and I figured we’d see Eclipse right away, probably sitting on her side in the shallows. We buzzed the mooring field, the anchorage and the entire shoreline from Dinner Key to Matheson Hammock Park. Some areas we checked twice. Nothing. I couldn’t believe it.

Returning to the dock, I called the authorities again—the Coast Guard, the sheriff’s department—as thoughts of Eclipse being bashed up against a line of rocks or a sea wall raced through my imagination. I spoke to some Sea Tow captains who warned me that a search would cost as much as $400 an hour given the conditions.

At the marina, I met Jenson, a captain who ran a watersports rental company. With his tactical-style center console RIB and 150hp engine, we were able to move quickly and stay a bit drier than I had aboard the skiff. But again, it was no use. He, too, was billing by the hour. With the wind and waves, it was just too difficult to make any kind of meaningful progress.

Next, I called Paul Columna, a cousin of my business partner, who is a firefighter and retired Air Force pararescue specialist. He had a plane in Fort Lauderdale and was on the runway when we spoke. He said he’d be willing to continue the search by air, but that it would be pointless. The cloud ceiling was too low, the winds too high.

Later that same day, I called off the search. Sitting slumped in the seat of my van at the Dinner Key Marina, I began to feel truly hopeless. Now that the initial shock had worn off, I started wondering whether my continuing to search for Eclipse didn’t represent a kind of denial—denial that the sailboat that had served as my home for the past five years was now either stolen or destroyed. Grief crept in as I thought of all the people I’d had aboard, the over 10,000 miles we’d sailed together, how I’d lost of all my possessions. I found myself wondering what it was going to be like having to start all over again; thinking to myself I should’ve done a better job of securing the boat; that I should’ve insured her again after being dropped by my previous insurance company; how if I’d thought to leave the AIS turned on and my Iridium tracker enabled, they would have led me right to her.

Luckily, my grieving proved to be only temporary, thanks in large part to my friends, my family and my girlfriend, Lisa, whose invariably positive outlook kept me from utter despair. “You’ll find her,” she kept saying, even though it had now been almost 24 hours since Eclipse had gone missing.

Mat also helped me keep things in perspective. “Phil,” he said. “You owe it to this boat to keep searching. Think of all that boat has done for you. Stop feeling shame about mistakes you might have made. These are the types of things that happen to people who are constantly pushing their limits.”

Back at Mat and Lucia’s, I retreated to their couch to write a couple of Facebook and Instagram posts to help get the word out. In the following days, these two posts would be shared over 1,000 times. Little did I know managing the communications stemming from this initial outreach effort would end up becoming one of the more challenging parts of that weekend.

By nightfall little had changed. The winds were still blowing relentlessly out of the northeast, as I fielded calls and texts of support from the many people who had seen my posts. Finally, a total stranger, Michael Harding, wrote to me saying, “I have an airplane in Orlando and would be willing to fly search patterns.” We connected by phone afterward, and he told me a little about the search and rescue work he’d done in the Caribbean. We agreed to stay in touch and keep an eye on weather, as the conditions still made any kind of search impossible. It felt great having someone like Mike, someone I’d never even met before, in my corner.

Another connection I made was with an old friend, Jason Barron, owner of Barron’s Boatyard in City Island New York who put me in touch with a local pilot-boat captain named Bill Rychlicki. Bill and I connected by phone. He seemed to know everyone on the water and contacted every single professional captain he knew currently working on Biscayne Bay to ask them to be on the lookout.

By the following morning, a Sunday, my phone was full of replies, but Eclipse still hadn’t been located. The northeasterly was also still in full effect. I was eager to get back out on the water, but knew it would be impossible—and Bill and Mike agreed. The forecast called for rain overnight with the wind shutting down on Monday. I called my family to let them know I wouldn’t be home for Christmas. With my ever-evolving team helping out, I planned my next steps.

Another friend connected me with Tony Anderson, a seaplane pilot who flies tours in the Miami area. Mike, Bill and Tony all agreed that when the weather broke a seaplane would be my best bet. Tony and I agreed to talk again the following day.

Monday morning, December 23, I woke to find the wind was finally settling down for the first time in five days and learned the rain was supposed to stop in the afternoon. Tony was at the airport fueling up the seaplane. I had another boat and captain at ready as well, if needed.

Mat and Lucia met me at the marina during their lunch break. I jumped in their Jeep, and we went to meet the seaplane. Tony confirmed we’d be good to go around 1230. On the way, I noticed the weather was already clearing. Julio, who worked at the seaplane office downtown, led us to a dock where we jumped in a small runabout. It felt strange having him give us an abbreviated tour of Biscayne bay, pointing out dolphins and manatees as we motored out to meet the plane. I tried my best to enjoy myself, but it was an expensive trip and my boat was still gone. This whole thing could be a waste. Moments later, a single-engine seaplane dropped out of the sky and came to a landing. We pulled alongside. Tony stepped out with a gleaming smile.

Seated in the aircraft, Tony told us where the life jackets were and then asked where I wanted to go. Opening up my Navionics app again, I pointed to an area south of Deering Bay Channel. Tony piped some cool island music through the headsets, which got a good laugh, throttled up the engine, and we took off.

Flying low, we passed over Dinner Key. The skies had finally cleared, and the view was incredible. Barely 15 minutes into our search, I tapped Tony on the shoulder and pointed to a spec a couple miles in front of us. We nodded to each other. I could already tell it was a sailboat, and we all knew a sailboat didn’t belong in the shallow waters off Biscayne National Park. Seconds passed. It was agonizing waiting for the speck to come into focus, but there she was. It was Eclipse.

She was perfectly upright, balanced on her keel and rudder, high above the water, resting in the mud only a short distance from shore. Even my inflatable dinghy was there. Tony set the seaplane down just behind her. We’d barely come to a stop before I was jumping into the water and grabbing the mooring line from the plane to tie us alongside.

Shimmying my hands along the edge of the toerail, I hoisted myself on deck, where I swung open the companionway and took a quick inventory. The hatches were all shut and dogged tight. The battery voltage was still a good 12.6 volts. The fridge was running with the food inside fresh. The bilge was nearly dry. I waved to Tony one last time as he took off.

Surrounded by clear blue water and mangroves, I stood on deck and took a few deep breaths. After that, I walked up to the bow where I knelt to inspect the shredded mooring pendants. Returning to the cabin, I started making a mental list of all the people I needed to call, at the same time putting together a plan to get the boat out of the muck. I also called Lisa. I could hardly believe how lucky I’d been.

At 1900 that same day, a pair of SeaTow Boats arrived at high tide and pulled Eclipse free. The operation involved dragging her on her side nearly a mile across sand and rock, until she was in deep enough water to float on her own. Finally, when I was alone again at the helm, I picked up the phone and booked another flight home. I’d be there for at least a part of the holidays after all.

What I Did Right

• Never gave up trying or gave in to despair

• Enlisted the help of the local sailing community

• Suspended the search when conditions made it impossible to continue doing so safely

• Didn’t compound the situation but getting myself hurt or putting myself in unnecessary danger

What I Did wrong

• Didn’t make absolutely sure the boat was safely moored

• Failed to have Eclipse properly insured