Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sparkman and Stephens Racer for Sale

KKMI, a major yard in the San Francisco Bay Area is holding a lien sale for Paladin. She is a 45 foot S&S designed, cold molded racing boat.  I saw her several months ago and she looked to be in pretty good condition from a distance. Minimum bid is $25000, which does not seem bad for such a boat. Check this link for more information.

Trawlerman's Song

Mark Knopfler playing Trawlerman's Song live at the Boothbay Opera House.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Unchopping a Tree

The California Academy of Science has a new installation called What is Missing.  This is the latest work by Maya Lin, the artist and memorial master.  The new work has a companion website at WhatIsMissing.net that promotes awareness about deforestation and it's many side effects including global warming and species extinction.

Be sure to checkout Maya Lin's Studio site here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Amazing Pearl Harbor Photos

Yesterday was the 68th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks.  The Horses Mouth has a great post with some stunning vintage photos of the day.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Shopping for Rope?

It is shopping season in the US.  Don't get between people and their stuff. Here is a story from the BBC about a man in Fall River, Massachusetts who locked his young sons in his car trunk while he went shopping in a chandlery.  The boys 3 and 6 and apparently OK and now with their mother.  I wonder where she is shopping this year?

Awesome Antarctica

Our good friend, LaVonne, is spending another summer on the ice in Antarctica. She took these pictures.  They really deserve to be viewed full size.

Ice Cave

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


It is Thanksgiving time here in the US and where would we be without the Mayflower?  The ship brought 102 pilgrims to Plimoth (later Plymouth). There is an interactive page on the Mayflower and the first Thanksgiving aimed at kids here.

A little more history describing the origin of the ship and the financing of the voyage can be found here, here and here.

More serious readers should check out Nathaniel Philbrick's excellent book Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War.  The book goes much beyond the 65 day crossing as it discusses the politics, religion and sociology of the settlement.  The colony had provocative interactions with both the local Indians and neighboring colonies.  It is still surprising the degree of influence these Puritans had on American culture and values up to this day.

As for the ship itself, it was a 90 to 110 foot cargo and wine carrier in so, so condition.  It turned out the be far better equipped for the journey that the Speedwell, another ship used by the Puritans.  The ship had a crew of about thirty, that included John Alden. John Alden's son of the same name was later accused in the Salem witch trials.  It is unclear whether these gentlemen were any relation to the naval architect of the same name from Boston.

In any case, I have found this facinating story to be, as usual, a bit more complicated than I was taught in school.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Beautiful Pictures, Stark Warning

New Scientist has put up a gallery of pictures called Final Warning From the Arctic.  The sobering truth of global warming is there for all to see.

The other night, the Berkeley Yacht Club hosted a screening of An Arctic Journey in a Changing World.  This is David Thorsen's documentary of the the transit of the Northwest Passage by the yacht, Cloud Nine.  The footage shows dramatic changes that have occurred in the ice density over the last 15 or so years.  This is an interesting fairly short film that is available for web viewing from Iowa Public Television.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cruising Gadget: Watch Snuggie

I was only half kidding about the Weezer Snuggie as an aid to long night watches in northern waters.

Corine made me this heavy duty bag for sitting out in the cold.  It is lined with fleece.  The outer cover is a tough, waterproof, synthetic canvas.  It is roomy enough to fit over sea boots and foulies.  This will be a lot better than blankets that fall off and get wet.  Thanks honey.

A New Obstacle

UC San Diego and the Scripps Institute have received a grant to develop swarming robots to patrol the oceans. These device will be known as AUEs (autonomous underwater explorers).  The robots will monitor events such as algal blooms and oil spills.  There is a story posted on Cleantechnica.com.

Self and Emergency Steering

The Single Handed Sailing Society (SSS) hosted a seminar the other night on options for self and emergency steering systems on small boats.  This was one of a series of seminars in preparation for the next Single Handed Transpac in June 2010.  This series would be useful for anyone interested in that race, the Pacific Cup or a long distance cruise.

Hans Bernwall from Scanmar International presented on three products.  The Monitor Windvane is a servo-pendulum self-steering device.  These are excellent units that are driven by apparent wind.  With no electrical components that can be much more reliable than electronic autopilots.  We have used an for runner of the Monitor, an Aries, with great success on Maitreya.

The MRUD is an emergency rudder conversion for the Monitor.  It operates by locking the lower rudder on the vane in a fixed vertical position.  A larger blade is fitted to the lower rudder.  The blade then pivots on it's axis like a normal rudder steering the boat.

Lastly, Hans discussed the SOS Emergency Rudder.  This has a rudder blade that is similar in construction to those of the Monitor and MRUD.  A separate set of mounts are provided to fit to the transom.  The tiller arm can be custom bent to work around a back stay or other permanent gear that may be between the transom and the cockpit.

All of the Scanmar gear has seen thousands of miles of use in races such as the SHTP, BOC, and Pacific Cup.

One of the problems with any emergency solution is fitting it at sea.  This will be compounded by the fact that the skipper in an SHTP is alone. Hans suggested using a bosun's chair rigged with three lines.  The primary vertical lift line would be a halyard.  The halyard should be supplemented by two horizontal preventers led around the sides of the boat.  The side lines would prevent wild swinging aft of the boat.

Greg Nelson gave a talk on building an emergency rudder.  This focused on foam, fiberglass and carbon fiber.  The Scanmar offerings are meant as a "limp to port solution".  Greg was promoting the idea that a properly designed and built alternate rudder could keep you racing.

Greg's talk stressed the fact that the forces involved in steering a yacht at sea, racing or not, must be respected.  Huge loads can be placed on the mounts, shaft and blade of the rudder.  Top quality materials and construction are required.  Greg told of some SHTP emergency rudders he had seen made of solid wood or common foam insulation.  He said that these failed very quickly when put into service.

One of the race committee chairmen, Bob Johnston, gave a talk on auto pilots.  It was agreed that the best autopilots come from NKE and B&G. The only problem with these is that they are likely to cost more than your average SSS boat.

This leaves the fleet with the middle and low end offerings from Raymarine, Simrad and others.  The group for the most part had had good experiences with these.  Some people had installed the hydraulic versions which are much more powerful.

Bob talked about the need to keep all components dry.  The electric rams are not waterproof, so he has covered his with a loose fitting sunbrella booty.  Greg Nelson and Bob both underlined the need for spare parts and full backup units.  Thought and planning for easily swapping units is required.  This may dictate dual wiring and mounting systems for the primary and the backup.

The big takeaways from the seminar were planning, testing and redundancy.

Thanks to the speakers for putting this on.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Update on the Chandlers

Messing about in Sailboats posted this video of the Chandlers, the cruising couple taken off of Somalia last month.

Sadly, this looks like it is a long way from being resolved. Here is the earlier post.

Whose your Captain?

Arrgh, this was too good not to plunder from Sea Fever.  I'm looking forward to the second edition with Kirk, the Skipper, Bligh, Cook and that guy from the Love Boat. Good on you Iconic88.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Moby Nick Makes it Home

Congratulations to Nick over at Big Oceans, Tiny Boat.  After 743 days traveling by sea and land he has finished his trip from Holland to home in Australia.  The ocean crossings of the Atlantic and Pacific were achieved in his Contessa 26.  This is a small and sometimes wet boat.  Quite an undertaking.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica

This comes from an article at New Scientist called Making Music on Thin Ice. It is about a trip that Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, made to Antarctica to make music and learn about ice.

Traditional Craft Undersail in East Anglia

Here is a nice video of traditional craft in East Anglia. I found this over at the DIY Wooden Boat Blog.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sailing on Friday

Boaters are a superstitious lot.  Given that it is Friday the 13th, I thought I might research why sailing on Friday is such bad luck.

Friday was named after the Norse goddess Frigg, or Frigga. Apparently all was well until the Christians came along and claimed she was a witch. This put a curse on Fridays, which were previously thought to be lucky.

The bad luck of Friday, especially for sailors was passed down through the generations, growing in significance. 

This affected the Royal Navy in the 18th and 19th century to such an extent that they tried to remedy it.  The admirality commissioned a ship called the Friday, whose keel was layed on Friday, was launched on Friday, was commanded by a Captain Friday and started it's maiden voyage on Friday.  Apparently this ship was lost without a trace. A good story, but the ship did not exist.

In any case, the superstition lives on.

I once sailed from Hilo on a Friday.  Within four days, we had a plumbing failure and lost all of our fresh water.  The compass did not work properly.  The control line on the furling jib broke three times.  The mizzen mast wobbled about 12 degrees.  We nearly ran out of diesel. The boat was becalmed twice in the Pacific High. Lastly, the boat nearly caught fire from wires chafing at a site near the main propane lines.  Some people might call this a maintenance problem, though the boat had just sailed about 15,000 miles.  It would not have hurt to leave on Saturday.

Friday the 13th is a whole other story.

Christmas Tree Schooners

Christmas Tree Schooners are ships that used to ply the Great Lakes from the Great North Woods to Chicago carrying trees for the holidays.  One such ship was the Rouse Simmons that sank in November 1912 off of Two Rivers, Wisconsin.  Trees were sold in Chicago at the dockside near the Clark Street Bridge. The skipper, "Captain Santa" Herman Schuenemann, also gave trees to the poor.

A musical play written by John Reeger called The Christmas Schooner retells this story. The play has been playing for a dozen years and is becoming a holiday classic in the Windy City. This year the play has move to Munster, Indiana, where they hope to keep the tradition alive.  Here is a story about the play at the Northwest Indiana Times.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cover Girl

The 118 year old Colin Archer redningskøyte Stavanger is on the cover of WoodenBoat.  She is being retired into the Norwegian National Maritime Museum.

Here is a past post on Stavanger with some video footage of her underway.

Queen of the Manta Rays

Check out the interview with Andrea Marshall about studying Manta Rays over at New Scientist.  There is more information on Mantas at Save the Mantas.

Shark Cafe

The Washington Post has an interesting story on scientists tracking Great White Sharks.  It seems that they do spend a lot of time around the San Francisco Bay.  The shark cafe map above looks a little like the Transpac rhumbline to me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lewis Pugh Swims Across the North Pole

Lewis Pugh swam across the North Pole in a Speedo to draw attention to global warming.  He gave a great TED Talk about his swim.  This is very inspiring for what people will do for the environment and also what a person can overcome to reach a goal.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lightning and Boats

There has been a discussion on the Single Handed Sailing Society message boards about lightning strikes and how to protect a boat against them. A couple of years ago, I ran across some great work done as a Sea Grant project at the University of Florida.  The authors studied quite a number of lightning strikes on boats and combined it with the meterologic knowledge to come up with a series of recommendations for boaters.

The work is summarized hereScience Daily ran this article, when the work was first published.

It is very difficult to decide how to implement a protection plan even with this type of information available.  I have heard of dynaplates that exploded due to the rapidly expanding water that instantly boiled as the lightning passed through it.  I have attempted to increase surface area on my plate by bolting several layers of wire mesh over my plate.  Such a violent explosion in a plate has the possibility of seriously damaging a hull.

Health Club - NOT

I saw this interesting seal on an old VW van/truck in Sausalito.  Looks like the door may have come off of another vehicle.   Not a club I want to join.

Open House at Spaulding Wooden Boat Center

There was a well attended open house at the Spaulding Wooden Boat Center  in Sausalito today.  The celebration was for the launch of Auroral, as well as the first planks on the multi-year restoration of Freda.

Freda is an 1885 gaff sloop that is the oldest boat on the San Francisco Bay. She suddenly sank a few years back, when she sprang a plan. Luckily she was salvageable. The San Francisco Chronicle has a story here.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mothball Fleet Pictures

Michael Wall at the NRDC has posted a few pictures of the decaying ghost fleet anchored off Mare Island in Suisun. Artistically they are nice images.  They also show how the fleet is becoming an ecological problem.  That is not environmentally friendly paint that is sloughing off and floating into the bay.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pulpo Gigante

Fear is a Giant Octopus is the first of six clips documenting the sailing of Gavin Atkin's Light Trow, Onawind Blue, from Spain to Ibiza in the summer of 2009. Check out Ben Tarragona's blog at The Invisible Workshop.

Captain Planet goes to Copenhagen

Let's hope that something comes of the meetings other than a special visit by Silvio Berlusconi.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

TWIC or Tweet

Passing the captains exam was probably the easy part.  Now I have to deal with the government to do all the paper work.

I went for my TWIC card today.  They fingerprint you, photograph you, look at your passport, birth certificate, driver's license and your credit card (It costs $135).  After a couple weeks the TWIC will come and then I can start dealing with the Coast Guard for the actual Master's license.

Cruising Gadget: Weezer Snuggie

This might be good for the long watches in Alaska.  Some readers may not know who Weezer is.  They are more than just an infomercial marketing company, they're a band!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cool Ride

Here is a toy for the back of my mega yacht.  Wired.com is running a story on the Scubacraft, which can apparently ride waves and dive below the surface.  There are two size that will carry 3 or 6 people.  The rumored price is about $165K.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Word of the Day: Mamihlapinatapai

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Seven Cs

Some of us are old enough to remember Eight is Enough or With Six You Get Eggroll.  Here is the story of a family of seven on an Ingrid. An Ingrid is not a small boat, but being a double ender, it is not a big 38 footer either.  Where do you put 5 kids?  They seem to be small kids, but that won't last long.  One solution is the cocoon locker pictured above.

Check out the Seven Cs blog to follow their adventures and the interior refit work to fit all those Cs.

The Flying Dutchman

The Flying Dutchman is a legendary ghost ship that is doomed to sail the ocean forever.  She can never go home.  Often, she is spotted in the distance in otherworldly clouds and light. When spotted by another ship, it is a very bad omen.

The Dutchman may be seen floating upside down above the water!

Below, we have Disney's version of the Dutchman.

Happy Halloween!

Jessica's progress

In light of some recent posts about our now officially, newly licensed male captain (some friends were hoping he would have less problems with the crew but in my mind he always was the one and only captain although I do like to speak up at times :-), here's an update on Jessica; she's already 1500 miles out and although she got off on a very rocky start before her trip as there was a collision with a tanker, she seems to have it all pulled off. Her description of the days, particularly how she handles sleeping single handled taking power naps, having three different systems for self steering, two alarm clocks and four different systems detecting other boats are a good read. I'm not a "pink" girl myself but is surely looks cutsie as Jack Nicholson would say :-)
However, please don't get any false impression about the amount of cosmetics on our boat as you see on one of her last pictures. A little spray shower, Costco baby wipes, lavender salt footbaths (I used baby shampoo as that still foams nicely in salt water) and the usual RoC moisturizer with lots of sunscreen.
On the other hand, Los Angeles Times just reported that Abby Sunderland has her boat. She is the sister of Zac who just completed his trip and was the youngest male single-handed circumnavigator for about 2 weeks. Personally I do have somewhat of an issue with these parents pushing their kids for southern Californian fame but who am I?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Whew, I Passed

Now maybe I can drive like Captain Ron.

Guess I'll go with a, Margarita!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Update on Kelpie

We have quite a cast of characters in our Captains class including a commercial fisherman, several sailboat racers, and a tourist Duck driver. One young guy is a career Coast Guardsman.  We call him "Coast Guard John", to keep him straight from "fisherman John".  Coast Guard John comes from a seafaring family and has recently acquired Kelpie an amazing 82 foot racing schooner that we saw in Ventura last year.  John plans on doing a little chartering, as well as putting together a racing team to tear up the bay.

Good luck to John and Kelpie.

Mutiny on the F/V Majestic Blue

Once a Captain, you can deal with this stuff...

This is a story of abuse on the high seas, and mutiny laws that have not been put into use for decades.  Check it out at the Jones Act.

This is another great post from the Bitter End Blog.

This is Me, Tomorrow

The picture above is from the Bitter End Blog.  It shows a group of students taking the "Rules of the Road" test for their captains license.  After two weeks in class in San Rafael, I will be taking 8 or 9 tests tomorrow for a 100 Ton Masters license.

The rules of the road test is the largest and maybe the hardest section.  You get about 60 questions out of a pool of several hundred and you have to get 90% right.  The questions cover things like:
  • How man blasts of the whistle do you give when you want to pass another boat in a narrow channel.  It is different for International and Inland waters.
  • What do the lights look like on a tug boat pushing a barge.  Also different for International, Inland and different again for the Mississippi River.
There are a couple hundred more questions in subjects like fire fighting, weather, federal regulations, lifeboats, navigation, sailing, aids to navigation, etc., etc.

This has all been made a little more interesting by a cracked tooth since a week ago Tuesday.  If you miss a class, you have to make up days or start over.   The dentist was kind enough to see me on Saturday, but did not want to pull it without an assistant.  So I have been taking some antibiotics and pain killers while I sit for 8 or 9 hours a day in class.

Well, I'll be heads down tomorrow after I traverse the lovely Richmond Bridge.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Silent Sound Completes Northwest Passage Transit

The 40 foot yacht, Silent Sound, has completed a west to east transit of the Northwest Passage.  The 8100 mile trip from Victoria, BC to Halifax, Nova Scotia took four months.

Congratulations to the crew and everyone involved with the Open Passage Expedition.

CNN has a series of stories on the trip.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dial a Buoy

Call 888-701-8992

Here is a great way to pick up coastal weather in real-time.  It has been around since 1997, but I have been slow to learn about it.  You call NOAA at the number: 888-701-8992, enter the code for the buoy or observation station that you are interested in and the computer will read you the latest conditions. The buoy identifiers can be found on this map.  More information about dial-a-buoy at NOAA can be found here.

Cruisers Captured by Pirates

World cruisers, Paul and Rachel Chandler, have let there blog fall silent off of the coast of East Africa.  Based on information from reliable sources, it is feared that they have been captured by Somali pirates.

There are stories at the New York Times and the UK Times.

Thanks to Matt for suggesting this post.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Little Roo

S/V Roo is a sweet little pocket cruiser.  The Allegra 24 was designed by Fred Bingham and built by Scandia Custom Yacht Builders.  The design is reminiscent of the work of Lyle Hess with all of the craftsmanship and attention to detail. Living on a boat this small takes a lot of thought an planning.

Roo's owners have put together a nice little website called Boatyard Pirates.

Here is blog about Puffin, another Allegra.

Thanks to Boat Bits for bringing Roo to my attention.

Where Fishing Gear Goes to Die

New Scientist has a story about research from NOAA about the large and increasing amount of fishing gear trash collecting off the California coastline.  Some of the gear is ideal for snagging even more nets as fishermen pass over.  Abandoned nets and traps keep on catching fish.  The trapped creatures may attract the attention other animals. Around and around we go.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Swiss Tech - WASI Powerball Anchor Swivels

I ran across an interesting site at Swiss Tech America.  They sell all sorts of European marine gear that you normally do not see in the U.S.

They import German WASI anchors and anchor swivels.  The picture above shows the German Lloyd's test report for a WASI Powerball anchor swivel.  The chain clearly broke before the swivel. This may be a good alternative to other swivel types that have been reported to fail in the west-coast sailing press.

It should be noted that the weak link may be the installer.  The proper tightening of those allen screw pins is crucial to success.

Veolia Environment Wildlife Photography

This photo is called Last of the Tuna by Jonathan Clay.  It one an award in the One Earth category of the Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year Contest. The photos are on display at the Natural History Museum in London.  There are some amazing shots of marine and terrestrial wildlife.

This is Big Mouth by Doug Perrine.

Charming Rhodes Ketch

Tidal Wave is an immaculate 1930 Rhodes Ketch.  She is probably a forerunner of the Rhodes Traveler, a similar 32 foot cutter design. This is fairly early work by Philip Rhodes, who went on to design many ocean racers and cruisers.

I hope I look this good when I am 79.

Ingrid, Cheap to a Good Home

The wooden Ingrid, named Ingrid, that washed up on the Sausalito shore in the storm about 10 days back is available for the salvage/towing costs.  If she is not adopted, she will apparently be crushed.  There are details on the Yahoo! Ingrid 38 Group.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Old Man River

Build a boat, sail and row it 4000 kilometres down the Mississippi River, tell the tale. That is the Old Man River Project in a nutshell. There is a crew of six in a 32 foot york boat that is a replica of an 1800s era craft.

I first saw this on the DYI Wood Boat Blog.

It's Your Call, Skipper

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Damn the Controversy , Full Speed Ahead

After much controversy about her attempt and that of Laura Dekker's, Jessica Watson has set sail from Sydney in search of the round-the-world record.  This is likely to take 240 days, largely spent in the treacherous Southern Ocean.   We will try to follow her trials and triumphs.  Good luck to Jessica!

Here is a story at bloomberg,com. A story in news.com.au describes it as a "Dream Worth Dying For?!?" WTF Balloon boy?

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