Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March Trip Recap: Departure

We left San Diego around noon on Monday March 16. We had planned to leave on Sunday, but suffered a computer failure right before casting off.

When I switched from shore power to DC, the computer would not reboot. There was probably some sort of short on the motherboard. After a couple of hours work with no luck I hopped on the bike and pedaled to Target. They had a pretty good deal on an Asus Eee PC. This is a very small netbook/laptop that ran our radio and navigation software just fine and did not use much power.

It was back to the boat to reinstall a bunch of stuff. At this point, I made some errors. I did not get the weather fax installed correctly. I also forgot to transfer the proper email address for posting to the blog over the radio.

Monday morning, I thought we were fully functional so we sailed out of San Diego Bay.

We started to use the Aries windvane to steer. This worked wonderfully on the reach out north of the Coronados Islands. Most sailors name their windvane at some point since it is such an important member of the crew. We decided to name ours Scout, after a great dog we know that always knows the directions to the best playsites and where treats may be had from the locals.

Speaking of treats, we got a couple of wonderful treat bags from our friends Priscilla and John. We were under strict instructions not open the bags until we were offshore. The captain had to restrain the admiral several times to enforce this rule. We were not past the Coronados when the admiral finally prevailed. They were great treats that brightened a lot of watches past midnight.

to be continued....

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hola, Ensenada

We arrived in Ensenada on Saturday after about 13 days and 1100 miles. We are staying at the Coral Hotel and Marina a few miles north of Ensenada. We will probably be here a month or a bit more.

It is very nice here and extremely quiet. Sadly, between the economy and reports of the drug war in Baja, there are very few people here. The violence has been very bad between the Mexican drug traffickers, but it has not affected average people or tourists directly. The press and the state department has made it sound very dangerous. The murder rate is actully lower than many US cities such as New Orleans. There is even a small detachment of the Mexican Army living in a cave dug out along the breakwater.

Cruisers we have met so far here have been very helpful. There is a morning network on VHF 21a at 8am including a very detailed weather report by a local American expat who is is a retired airline pilot. Crusers may want to check out a fairly new website set up by the crew from S/V Rendezvous.

We have a batch of stories about our trip that I will write up in the coming days.

Thanks to everyone for their interest and concerns during our passage.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Aloha, San Diego

The weather looks great and the boat is ready, so Maitreya will be sailing with the tide on Sunday. We will be headed for Hilo.

The focus of the blog will narrow quite a bit while we cross. We will be updating via the SSB radio and you should be able to get position reports using the "Where are they now?" link on the blog page or by using this URL: http://shiptrak.org/?callsign=wdd4475

The trip is likely to take between 15 and 22 days depending on how soon we find the trade winds and how they hold up.


Salazar's Offshore Green Energy Plan

The Natural Resource Defense Council blog Switchboard is reporting on the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, plans to build green energy farms offshore. The Secretary has been talking about green energy as an alternative to offshore drilling. The Interior Department is currently in the process of designating zones for energy production both onshore and off.

Sarah Chasis at the NRDC applauds this process but is concerned that NOAA is consulted as part of the selection of offshore zones for development.

Salazar told the Boston Herald that he likes the Cape Cod wind project and that other offshore locations may include Delaware and New Jersey

Whale Attracting Too Much Attention

The last three days we have had a gray whale visiting San Diego Bay. We have not seen the whale ourselves, but a lot of other people have. Wednesday afternoon, the sky was full of news helicopters over Shelter Island.

The Coast Guard got a report that a boat hit the whale Friday afternoon. They dispatched a vessel that cold not find damage on the reporting boat. The whale appeared fine as well when it surfaced several times. The Coast Guard report is here.

The public interest in whale watching is very high. Tours have become a big business in San Diego and along the rest of the Pacific coast from San Francisco to Cabo San Lucas. The San Diego Union Tribune ran a story on the industry about a year ago.

Gray whales spawned in San Diego Bay before it was commercialized. There have even been fossils found of extinct gray whale species in the bay.

Update: There is video of the whale in this Union Tribune story.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Chicken or Seal?

What do paddlers taste like?

Found over at the Horse's Mouth.


I got this from the Incredible Hull. Who knows where they got it.

If Found...

I have reached the age where Corine has started to put the boat name on my clothes. That way, if I am found out wandering, the authorities will know where to return me.

No mention of a reward.

Norwegian Colin Archer Association

If you like Colin Archer Seilskøyte (Sail-cutter) style boats you should check out Seilskøyteklubben Colin Archer.

The Norwegian site has a lot of great pictures and history and most of it has been translated into English
and German. They have boats for sail and an a calendar full of amazing images.

These are the fore bearers of Atkin's Ingrid, Thistle, and other double-ended designs. These boats were originally used as all weather rescue boats.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

MIT Battery Breakthrough

A group of researchers at MIT have discovered a new way to build a fast charging battery. Utilizing the new technology, a battery that used to take 6 minutes to charge now takes to to 20 seconds. The technology is also supposed to increase the number of usable discharge/recharge cycles and is hoped to be useful for deep cycle applications such as marine house batteries and solar storage.

Here is a report from the Australian site EnergyMatters.com.au. Wired also has a story.

Update: More information at New Scientist.

Southern Star's North American Loop

Southern Star has arrived in New York and is nearing completion of it's North American circumnavigation. The 75 foot sloop is skippered by Frenchman Olivier Pitras. The expedition started last May in Tromsø, Norway and has transited the North Atlantic, Northwest Passage, Pacific Coast, Panama Canal, Caribbean and the Atlantic Coast thus far.

The expedition web site can be found here. An update from New York can be found in Windcheck.

Cruising Gadget: Vortex Hand Crank Blender

The marketing literature for the Vortex Blender says, "Increase your popularity. Make new friends. Pick up ladies. These are just a few of the hidden benefits of owning our hand-cranked blender." We don't know about that, but it is a great product.

We run a simple ship with only a moderate number of electric gadgets. We use foot pumps and only have an emergency water maker. When we started looking around for a blender, this one fit in perfectly.

The crank is very powerful and has two speeds. The base will clamp firmly to a table or counter. In every other way, it looks like a regular blender, but it won't drain your batteries like a anchor windless.

It is made by GSI Outdoors. We found ours at REI, but it can be had elsewhere as well for about the price of a normal kitchen model.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

American Finishes Vendee Globe

American Rich Wilson crossed the Vendee Globe finish line today in 9th place. He is pictured above at the helm of his Open 60, Great American III.

Wilson is only the second American to finish the race. Bruce Schwab finished in 2004. Wilson has set several records and was awarded the Blue Water Medal by the Cruising Club of America in 2004. Congratulations to Rich.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Classic Sail

This photo is just one of many that I ran across at Traditional Boats & Tall Ships Magazine. I don't see this UK publication on the newsstands in California very often.

Another site that specializes in classic yachts is
The Albert Strange Association.

In the Boatshed
focuses on small traditional boats such as dinghies, catboats, wherries and barges.

These are just few jumping off points for the online world of classic sailing vessels.

Friday, March 6, 2009

USS Sampson

We went out for a test sail today. It was really nice out with about 14 knots of wind. We were headed in. Maitreya was reaching up the San Diego harbor channel at about 6 and a half knots.

Looking over my shoulder, I saw a Navy RIB overtaking us followed by a large gray shadow. The RIB pulled up abeam with the nice young kids smiling. "Say", the sailor started, "Do you think you could move out of the channel a little?". Sure, especially since the shadow was coming up at about 30 knots.

The big white numbers on the bow were 102. That means it was the USS Sampson, a guided missile destroyer. Not only does driving rule number 1 apply, Coast Guard Rule 9 is in force in San Diego Harbor. This means in a narrow channel ships, with guns or not, have the right away. Rule 1 maybe more important - The big guy always wins.

The Two Key Rule

Over on S/V Third Day, Captain Rich describes his violation of the two key rule. This is an interesting variation of the security procedure requiring two keys to allow a nuclear launch on a submarine. There have been times when I have been on passages and I have arrived too late. The 19 year old kids got there and first and all the good stuff was gone. This rule might have been helpful.

Hedgehog in the Rigging?

No, its not a hedgehog, its a baggywrinkle. We have been experiencing chafe in one of the usual spots, between the mainsail lower batten and the aft shroud.

I turned again to Hervey Garrett Smith's The Arts of the Sailor for instructions on the traditional way to solve this. I found some old fashioned manila rope at Orchard Supply Hardware. Next I chopped the rope up into 6 inch lengths. These pieces were unlayed to small groups of yarns. Yarns are hitched over marline or waxed sail thread for a couple of feet. Finally, up the mast to seize the hole hairball to the shrouds.

We had previously ordered some baggys from a vendor in Attitudes and Latitudes. When they arrived they looked like they were made of white shag carpet left over from somebody's bathroom in the '70s.

We shall see if I made enough when we get under way again.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pete Goss' Rough Trip

Pete Goss and the crew of Spirit of Mystery have had a rough passage. The 37 foot Spirit is on a trip from Cornwall England to Melbourne Australia that commemorates a voyage 154 years ago in a similar craft.

They have had numerous days of gale conditions crossing the Southern Ocean. On March 3rd, about 300 miles from Kangaroo Island, they were struck by a large wave. Mark Maidment, one of the crew, broke his ankle. Mark was med-evacuated today.

Pete and his son are continuing on to Melbourne. The latest blog entries are here.

Update: BBC story with video can be found here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Diddly Point Squat

Diddly point squat is the amount of plastic that we recycle each year according to Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. He gave a talk at the TED Conference on plastic trash in the oceans. This is scary because it looks irreversible. We can only try to stop it and wait it out.

I found this on the Sea Fever site which has some nice posts.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Gnome On Board

So one day I'm on board and .....

Hey, Whoa, Who's that? The Gnome Navy?

No that's Michael de Boer, the most recent of a long line of de Boers. He brought his mommy and daddy, Catherine and Andrew, down to the warmer weather in San Diego. It was very nice to have a visit from them all.

Engineless Ingrid

Check out S/V Macha, a beautiful, gaff rigged, engineless Ingrid in the Bay Area.

The boat was built by the author Jay Fitzgerald, who is also the founder of the Oar Club. The Oar Club's motto is "No, I don't need a tow."

There are some very nice (copyrighted) photos of Macha under sail at Lyons Imaging.

Notice the pieces of wood aft of the cockpit with the half circles cut out? I'm guessing that this boat in fact does have an engine. You put a large sweep oar in that notch, connect a motivated mate who can scull and you have propulsion.

The owners recently had Steve Hutchinson rebuild their cockpit. Steve is a great boat wright we know from the Point San Pablo Yacht Club.

There are a lot more things I would like to know about this Ingrid such as the displacement, the interesting tiller design, how they short tack in very light wind and what it is like to scull a 15 ton boat. Ingrids are heavy and it is easy to miss stays.

The blog for Macha is here.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Maitreya Update

So, you might ask, what have we been up to on Maitreya? We had filled our tanks and went for a test sail with thoughts of leaving about ten days ago. Corine then got sick with a pretty bad cold. A few days later, I succumbed to the ailment as well. Corine is still not back to normal, so I might have a ways to go. It is suspected that this is the Berkeley Cold strain brought back from my poker outing the middle of last month.

In the mean time, I have been blogging about random stuff not really related to us. We have been watching the stock market go down, doing a lot of reading and even more sleeping.

I also tried my hand at a little marlinespike seamanship. I made these whiter than white thump mats for our staysail lead blocks. These will hopefully cut down on the noise when the sail flogs, not to mention keeping the blocks from removing divots from the cabin top. I took some direction on the project from Hervey Garrett Smith's The Arts of the Sailor. If you are interested in this type of rope work, I strongly suggest this book.

The mat is made from a flattened Turks Head knot.
I am hoping they will look a little more salty when they weather like the ones below. Currently, mine look like they belong in a hospital.

The weather towards Hawaii has been looking pretty good. We are thinking of heading west once we have clear heads again.


CleanTechnica.com is reporting that San Francisco has filed for permits to install wave energy harvesting equipment. The post was made by Mayor Gavin Newsom. They are aiming to produce 10 to 20 mega watts of power. Similar units are being installed in Portugal now.

CNet has some video on the technology here. A directory of technologies can be found here.

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